Ordered home by the State Department to report, Whitlock was absent from Brussels a little more than two months at the end of 1916 and beginning of 1917. He returned to find a new crisis. He had not been in the city three days before the Legation had word that the German authorities proposed to seize certain foodstuffs, and that the British Government was threatening to stop the revictualing entirely. Indeed, a British note to the neutral representatives dated December 31, 1915, declared that in view of the numerous proved infractions of the agreement by the Germans the permission for importation of provisions would be withdrawn unless they gave explicit guarantees of reform. The threat made an impression upon the Governor-General. However, when Whitlock and Villalobar undertook negotiations for a new agreement, to be based on a German promise to stop all export of victuals, fodder, and seeds from the territories under the Governor-General, they met with many difficulties. The English conditions seemed to the Germans very stiff. Not until April 16, 1916, was a satisfactory convention obtained. The Germans agreed to the stipulations upon food, fodder, and seeds, and to stop requisitions by or purchases for the army; but with unfortunate reservations as to purchases by individual soldiers. The Germans also yielded on a clause recognizing the C.R.B. as free from interference on their part, but not until after a stubborn battle that gave Whitlock great anxiety. Though the work of revictualing went forward, personal feuds and jealousies often impeded it. Meanwhile the Germans were doing their utmost to crush the Belgian spirit and to encourage a division between Fleming and French. The foundation of their effort was a decree of September 2, 1916, dividing. Belgium into three linguistic spheres, Fleming, Walloon, and German. On many other developments of this period Whitlock's diary throws light.
November 30, 1915.---At the Department this morning mostly with Phillips,(1) for the Secretary is at a Cabinet meeting. The President will see me tomorrow. Heard Phillips' views on Page. Drove in the afternoon in Rock Creek Park, called at Belgian Legation-saw Havenith. Dined in the evening with the Secretary and Mrs. Lansing, the Jusserands and the Haveniths there, and Frank L. Polk, and Mrs. John W. Foster.(2) Her husband too deaf to come down. Evening in the drawing-room, filled with Chinese spoils. Like Lansing immensely, much depth in the man. Jusserand very amusing and clever.
December 1, 1915.---To the White House at 10:30, and received by the President, with whom I spent an hour. He was standing by his desk as I entered, with the smile that illuminates his long, and highly sensitive face, that revealed his large teeth, with some dentistry in evidence. He wore a lounging suit of grey, and the scarf pin he has worn, I believe, ever since he came into office---it has the coat of arms or something official about it. He was looking exceedingly fit; no lines of care, but well-filled cheeks, of good healthy color, and a fine clear eye through the glistening pince-nez. His manner most frank and cordial, as he expressed his satisfaction with my course. "I'm glad I sent you over there," he said simply. When I told him how the Belgians felt toward him he was deeply touched. Turned away, with a mist in his eye. We talked an hour, of many things, golf, among others---and the Germans and culture and philosophy. His very interesting view of the duty of every man, as raised by Francis Neilson's course. Related Colonel Listoe's classic---and he committed it to memory. Wished me to let him know when I was to sail, for when I spoke of being back in Washington, he said significantly, "I'm afraid I shan't be here then." He was very cordial, very charming, and I was proud to be one of his followers...
Dined with the Jusserands and the Haveniths at the French embassy---charming evening. Jusserand asked me about G. B. McClellan's(3) visit to Belgium, and his impudent, misleading article on Belgium in the New York Times. I told him I hadn't seen him, that he must have made a flying trip to Belgium under German auspices. McClellan no better than his father.
December 28, 1915.---Sailed this morning. Drove to the wharf at ten o'clock, Mrs. Tiers having kindly lent us her two motors. More than the usual bustle in getting aboard.,..
There was much interest, and some excitement in our ship's company, which included Boy-Ed,(4) sent home from Washington, and Colonel House. And on board I was delighted to find Marshall Langhorne, Secretary at The Hague, who had been called home by his father's death.
December 29, 1915.---At sea; rough. Nell sick, and a severe cold in the bargain. Colonel House asked me about our treatment of Boy-Ed; told him nothing ever lost by being polite. Langhorne introduced Boy-Ed, whom I found to be good natured, clever man, with a lively sense of humor. The Houses had him and me in their cabin for tea. The Colonel a noble soul, with an extraordinary amount of common sense. I enjoy our talks at table, and in the smoking room afterward-about all sorts of men and political events. Today's run 291 miles.
December 30, 1915.---I have told the Colonel to prevent my nomination for the Vice-Presidency---that most ungrateful office---and he promised as my friend. Three hundred miles.
Not so rough. Today off our northern bow we sighted what looked like icebergs. Langhorne, Boy-Ed and I looked at them through glasses, and they were not icebergs, but land, Sable Island in fact, its white cliffs, like those at Dover, having deceived us. The Captain, it appears, is taking an extreme northern route.
January 4, 1916,---Reached Falmouth harbor this afternoon at three---first the Lizard, then Land's End, the lovely coast of England, and trawlers, the mosquito-fleet that have rendered such useful services in sweeping the submarines from the sea. Then the fortified entrance to the harbor, and inside the New Amsterdam waiting for leave to go out. We anchored outside, and were boarded by English officers.
Boy-Ed stood beside me looking down on the tug, flying the Union Jack, lying alongside.
"Now's your chance," I said, and he laughed.
"I was here as a midshipman twenty-five years ago," he said, "and little I thought then that the next time I should be here the world would be in a horrible war."... I like this man, and feel sorry for him. Every one avoids him on the ship---I do not.
Another tug comes down and a burly, red-faced man in a dingy uniform, evidently a sailorman doing duty as officer of reserves, bellows at us through a megaphone.
"The New Amsterdam. will come down 'arbor, Sir, and you will go hup 'arbor and take 'er berth."
And so, slowly, we did, watching the shore, green and brown, and the barricade on the hill, and an old castle on our starboard, and lower down cattle and sheep peacefully grazing, and a man at the water's edge. And evening deepening softly on this lovely scene---how can it be here that war hangs horridly over the land?
More officers come aboard with newspapers, and there is excitement among the passengers over the news of conscription, and of the sinking of the Persia by a submarine. Strange! When last I came into this harbor it was to hear of the Ancona!
January 6, 1916.---Up at nine, and later on deck. Passengers all locked up in cabins as per orders, being searched and questioned, a proceeding to anger one. Ridiculously slow, too. Boy-Ed peering from window of second-class wistfully, and some indignant German-American citizen shouting some insulting remark to me as I pass---to Boy-Ed's chagrin. Well, take some of your own Prussian medicine, German-American boor! In your own beloved Germany you couldn't speak that way to an official!
Monday, January 10, 1916.---Off this morning at ten for Brussels, through Dieppe, Rotterdam, and so on.
It was eight o'clock when we reached the Legation, and at once attacked Josephine's excellent dinner. Gibson and Miss Larner came, talked, and then, tired out, at last to bed.
January 11, 1916.---Went with Gibson to call on von der Lancken and then on Villalobar. Both glad to see me, and very pleasant.
January 12, 1916.---Lemonnier called, delighted to have me back. It seems no one really believed that I would return. But here I am! Walked out, glad to see the dear streets again, and to feel once more the charm of this city. Not much changed; perhaps a bit sadder. Since I left the Germans have "annulled"---such is the naïve word in the notice---their promise not to quarter soldiers, have imposed a new contribution on the city, and issued a number of stringent orders. The Governor-General gave a dinner Sunday night for the diplomats.
January 13, 1916.---At eleven to see von der Lancken, and long talk with him, lasting two hours, on all subjects. Is much interested in American sentiment, and I told him frankly of the German gaffes there, and he admitted it. Then, at the end, he brought up old objections to Gibson, who has become persona non grata, but hasn't the slightest suspicion and is sick, poor fellow. Told von der Lancken I'd find a way, and not to permit anything foolish to be done.
Letter from von der Lancken saying the Governor-General will seize food sold above maximum price, so the old troubles begin!
January 14, 1916.---Page's note, with Sir Edward Grey's letter threatening to stop introduction of food! Very grave, that!
January 17, 1916.---Working on letters---still swamped. Went at five to see von der Lancken, and tea there with him, Villalobar, Harrach, and a young cavalry officer. They told us that Montenegro, much to Italy's disgust, has sued for peace with Austria.
Talked over with von der Lancken and Villalobar and Brohn---pedantic-speaking, big fine-looking man---the seizure of food. Advised them not to employ armed "seizers" and they saw the point. A satisfactory arrangement. Also talked of England's brutal threat to stop food, and von der Lancken disposed to arrange that.
January 21, 1916.---Villalobar and Francqui here at my invitation this morning to discuss Sir Edward Grey's note. Francqui had already talked with von der Lancken, as had Villalobar and I, and seemed quite anxious to settle the affair, for he understands, as does von Bissing, that the English Tories are seeking an excuse to stop the feeding of Belgium if the blame can be laid to the Germans. Since they understand this we feel that we can secure from the Governor-General an assurance that any abuses---and there have been abuses, and infractions of the spirit though not of the letter of the assurances and the convention---will be discontinued and those responsible punished. We decided that Villalobar should commit an "indiscretion" and let von der Lancken see Sir Edward's letter so that he might know the contents without our having to read it officially. Then we take steps, in communications, to arrange the whole matter.
Meanwhile provisions are growing short; sugar about impossible to obtain, coffee scarce, and so on. We may have to go to black, or at least grey, bread by February. And Hoover writes today that because of the difficulty of sending boats, there may be interruptions in shipping in March. If this occurs it will be the first time since the work began, that it has been broken.
Lemonnier writes me today that the Germans have abandoned, at least temporarily, their intention to impose the new fine of 550,000 marks.
Sunday, January 23, 1916.---A beautiful day, of clear sky and brilliant sunshine, and I had to remain indoors to write letters. Francqui came at eleven to show me a letter he had written to serve as a means of introducing to the susceptible Governor-General the latest difficulty in the revictualing. We discussed it at length, and then talked of other things for an hour---of cabbages and kings for which latter Francqui has no more use than I ....
Then at five to see von der Lancken, with Villalobar and Francqui and Brohn, and we discussed at length the difficulty the English are making. Von der Lancken disposed to arrange the matter, will see the Governor-General. Think the business is in a way to be settled so far as the Germans are concerned, but I fear are not to be satisfied with anything we may propose. It must have something to do with their new blockade. After the party, von der Lancken drew me aside with his "little business"---he always has some disagreeable "little business." This time it was the English colony---why all this row? I told him and secured from him the authorization to say that the Germans had no intention of interning, or taking any measures against the English.
January 24, 1916.---At noon I took von der Lancken and we drove to Trois Fontaines to lunch with the Governor-General.(5) No one there but his staff, half a dozen young officers. It was really very pleasant. The Governor-General is a very solid old Prussian officer, firm and perhaps severe at times, but with the drive of duty, and very strong with his seventy-two years. He speaks French fairly well, and we had much pleasant easy conversation over the excellent luncheon; I told him a number of stories, and he laughed delightedly. Really, I enjoyed it. Driving home with von der Lancken, he talked quite confidentially about peace, which they all desire, and suggested that this might prove a good time for an exchange of views. Thinks the President, perhaps with the King of Spain, might bring it about.
Von Bissing, to return to him, spoke to me about the trouble in the revictualing, and said: "That will work itself out." So I was much relieved, and am writing Page and Hoover by the courier. Von Bissing told me that in November some officer offered to bet him a drink that peace would be made before Christmas; von Bissing took the bet, and tonight the officer pays it ....
Von Bissing is truly a man .... I told him that his position was difficult, and he was evidently glad of a little sympathy. He said that not only did the people here complain of him, but that they complained of him also at Berlin. He has of course the difficulties of all carpet-baggers, but he is, I think, as I know him better, trying to do something, and is introducing, as far as he can, methods of German efficiency in many ways, particularly in utilizing waste. He told me much of this, what they did with dead animals, and so on. Were one to know him without the prejudice that attaches to everything the Germans do nowadays, I am sure one could like him. But then, one likes most people when one really knows them.
January 26, 1916.---Francqui in this afternoon at tea-time and we had a long talk. He came to enquire if I had any news from von der Lancken, but I had none .... We talked, too, about the C.R.B. and the money America had given, and I told him that sometimes I felt an embarrassment, since America had not given as much money as she might have given, when she had had the credit for having given all of it. He said America was entitled to this credit, because I had made the work possible, and because the organization was American. Then he smiled, and said he would tell me a secret: He had saved all the money given from America, had put it aside in a special fund, and after the war intended to found a great institution of learning here, on a wholly democratic basis; that what Belgium needed was more democracy, and so on. He talked for an hour of his plan, to give the youth a chance.
January 27, 1916.---Today's the Kaiser's birthday, and much marching in goose-step. Villalobar has had a talk with von der Lancken, who says there are new difficulties---although they had given their word. Von der Lancken wants the unemployed to go to work, and to make that part of the consideration. Villalobar told him we couldn't discuss that. Then von der Lancken said the military made difficulties; von Sauberzweig had said that the diplomats had no right to be here. Villalobar told von der Lancken that he would be delighted to go away, and von der Lancken didn't like that. Enfin! The point is the Germans can't be decent and polite long at a time, it's against their nature, not in them; they are constitutionally German.
January 29, 1916.---Poland(6) in tonight, has a letter from Hoover, who is furious, "choking with rage," as he says because British Government has heard that the Belgian Committee at Antwerp had "sold food to Germans." He had written to Poland, and to the Comité National. Poland says it is not true, that some has leaked out in this way, but no such amount as stated. The importation of rice has been forbidden, and now we have another trouble. Oh Lord, how long!
January 31, 1916.---S. S. McClure arrived; he came over by the peace ship, and is now investigating Belgium; a little grey man, very conceited, and somewhat defiantly clinging to the idea of his own value in the world; a man who somehow just missed the trapeze; and talks almost wildly. Has a great idea of forming an alliance between Germany, England, and the United States, and will bring Roosevelt and Hughes over to Europe to put the sublime scheme through. He talked and talked, and I listened and listened ....
Villalobar came in; had seen von der Lancken, and had copy of telegram von der Lancken had authorized us to send to London, saying that the Governor-General was ready to approve our request for guaranties not to requisition, and would support the demand before the authorities at Berlin. Villalobar told von der Lancken he hoped they are not going to play us any trick. He asked, or von der Lancken asked, what about Van Vollenhoven and Villalobar told him, "You got him into the thing, not we." Then von der Lancken told Villalobar the Governor-General doesn't like Van Vollenhoven anyway; Van Vollenhoven has been going there often, lunching, and so on, playing bridge, but the Governor-General says he always asks a lot of personal favors, and talks business all the time, "while you and Whitlock" (said von der Lancken) "are always pleasant and agreeable, talk about the weather, entertain his excellency, and only talk politics when he introduces the subject." Villalobar chuckled over it, and was delighted.
Villalobar also inquired as to what we are to do about becoming patrons of the War Orphan Society, at the head of which is Cardinal Mercier. Our governments have authorized us to accept if we see fit, but Villalobar says the Cardinal is sure to involve us in trouble with the Germans. I suggested that we await the Cardinal's return from Rome, but Villalobar said, "No, we'll have to find some other tricky way to get out of it."
February 1, 1916.---Francqui in this afternoon with copies of the notes and memoranda he had asked us to send to London by today's courier. He explains the whole business of the abuses very ably. We talked then for an hour about Leopold II, whom Francqui knew well. The old king, unhappily married, was a devil after the women, but a just business man, inordinately ambitious, and had he been King of England or of France, or Emperor of Germany, he would have dazzled the eyes of mankind. A great builder too, and the author of the plan for a greater and more beautiful Brussels.
February 3, 1916.---There is a new requisition of lumber, and great noble trees, centuries old, are being ruthlessly felled. Policemen are in tears. Von Bissing it seems tried to protect them. Then ---so von der Lancken told Villalobar---on his last visit to Berlin, von Bissing dined with the Kaiser, and at the table a military officer made a remark, saying that von Bissing would not let the army have the materials which it needed; the Kaiser thought von Bissing right, thinking the trees should be respected. The generals pleaded military necessity, and so on, and the Kaiser yielded, and so the trees must go. Villalobar could not even protect the trees on the estate of the Prince Napoléon.
The Germans indeed are taking everything; the rails on the suburban railways, the metal in homes, rubber, wool, even the wool in mattresses, all of which must be declared.
February 5, 1916.---Sent for Francqui this long and delightful talk; had him stay to tea, and we talked on here until nearly seven o'clock. We talked confidentially of the Petrograd prospect, and he says that neither Nell nor I would like the life there, and that the effect would be very bad on the Belgians, who are comforted by the thought of my being here. Very well, then: if my presence comforts them, poor souls, I stay! We talked about Leopold II; he told me many amusing stories--- le cure à Ostende, Beernaert, Favereau, and others. Leopold intended to visit America; his caustic wit; his simple habits; his reasons for meeting Walsh of Colorado, and so on.
February 7, 1916.---I was shaving this morning when word came from von der Lancken asking me to come at once---I went; he wished to talk of Gibson; said he must leave at once, today or at latest tomorrow. I was calm, talked at length, came back and told Gibson; talked at length. The whole thing made me sick; and my feelings I put, partially, in a letter to Colonel House...
Von der Lancken talked about the strain in our relations. He said they thought the Lusitania affair was ended. "We do not understand the President; why does he not let the affair die out? Nom d'un! We are not doing anything more!"
Later in the day he telephoned to say that he had talked with the Governor-General and that he could not restrain his hand, but that Gibson must go; "he cannot go too quickly, you understand."(7)
I am sick and tired tonight. It has been a hard day; and such rumors! These for instance: That America and Germany had broken off diplomatic relations and that we are packing up to flee; that there had been a revolt of troops at Ghent and that the military governor there had been assassinated; that there had been a battle in the North Sea, and two German men-of-war sunk; that the Crown Prince of Turkey had not committed suicide but had been put to death because he was pro-Ally; that the King of Greece had abdicated; that there had been a revolution in Bulgaria; that the Englishwomen are to be interned in a camp near Antwerp; that a diplomat had arrived from Berlin saying that the Germans were to make a last desperate attempt to reach Calais and failing that would retire to the Rhine.
February 9, 1916.---Wolcott says Gerard is very angry with the Germans, and very anxious to get out of Germany, and told him a week ago that he thought they would be out in ten days---such was the tension over the Lusitania affair. We have no news, have had no London Times for a fortnight. Poor Gerard; he has the hardest post in Europe, and has done splendidly. I am proud of him.
February 10, 1916.---This morning, the first thing, told Gibson he must go to Havre; he wished a record made so I sent a dispatch to the Department informing the Government of my action, and sent a note to Excellency von der Lancken asking for passports for Gibson for Monday or Tuesday.
Snow today, cold, raw and rotten headache-jolted over rough pavements, and went for a drive through the Bois... and home; did my headache no good.
I have tried to handle the Gibson affair so as not to injure him, for he is not wholly blameless; is young, romantic, and as a follower of Theodore Roosevelt, given to swashbuckling. Excellent secretary in time of peace, but when the blast of war resounds in our ears, he imitates the action of the tiger. He would have preferred in this case to have been made the centre of an incident, but there are enough incidents in the diplomatic dossiers of the world already. He wished me to get instructions from Washington, but I told him, had to tell him rather sharply, indeed, that I needed no instructions. He might have avoided the arrest by the sentry .... He is so touchy on all points of honor, but honor cannot set a leg, or take away the grief of a wound, or feed the Belgians. One can't live according to the code duello, and I can't get him to be patient and await events and let old Nemesis take care of his enemies. He is truculent and impetuous, always wishes to rattle the sabre in the scabbard, and if I had gone to Petrograd he would have lasted here no more than two weeks. That's another reason why I did not go.
February 11, 1916.---At five went to the Political Department; there von der Lancken, Reith (the little pest has returned from Switzerland cured of all physical ailments), Brohn, and another German; Francqui, Van Vollenhoven, and finally, after a long wait, Villalobar.
When Villalobar came, we all had tea in the dining-room, and von der Lancken after one of his speeches... had Reith read aloud the summary of the note the Governor-General proposes to send to us in response to our note of the 23rd January, in which we had brought to his attention the latest demand of the English. The note was to be signed by von der Lancken on behalf of the Governor-General. It was satisfactory in tone and agreed practically to all our demands, but of course was to be studied before we pronounced it satisfactory. And then there was a second note, also signed by von der Lancken, ostensibly transmitting the first, and this Reith also read aloud; it also required study, so we separated, agreeing to meet again tomorrow afternoon at four, and in the meantime we fixed a meeting of Villalobar, Van Vollenhoven, and Francqui at my house for tomorrow morning at 11:30.
It was six o'clock, and raining heavily, so I drove Francqui home in my car, and went in to chat with him, staying an hour. We talked of Villalobar and of the proposed trip of Villalobar, Francqui, and Lambert---an old idea, long time in preparation, already broached to me by Villalobar and by von der Lancken. All of them, including Francqui, were a little fearful that I would feel slighted, but I reassured them, told them I was delighted. Francqui asked me why I thought he wished to go, and I told him some of the reasons that occurred to me. Then he entered into a long and clever explanation; first, the great desire of the Germans to arrange a peace, and he assembled the various evidences now apparent, and said that Villalobar had told him that von der Lancken had suggested the possibility of the Germans voluntarily retiring from Belgium---to save their faces---and that the peace negotiations might be held at Brussels, in which case the Spanish Minister and his Spanish colleagues might have much to do with what would go down in history as the Treaty of Brussels, and that our names would thus go thundering down to a gaping posterity. Haw! Haw! Haw!
Villalobar, he said, would naturally desire the King of Spain to make the peace, as the fine intermediary that would bring it about, but now that the relations between Germany and the United States seemed in a fair way to be continued, he would be willing that the King share the honor with the President .... That Villalobar, Francqui went on, was inordinately ambitious, his sole preoccupation being to be made Ambassador to England... that I also knew to be true; that accordingly he would like to go to England just now to render service, and at the same time to go on to Madrid to discuss the whole peace programme with his sovereign---thereby pleasing every one, Belgians, English, Germans, and Spanish. We talked for an hour. The idea of the Germans voluntarily evacuating Belgium, as Francqui said---that is very fine, but too fine; a beautiful dream. But I think I shall write it to Washington.
February 12, 1916.---Eh bien! Villalobar and Van Vollenhoven and Francqui came at 11:30, and we discussed the two notes until one. The first, that in which the Governor-General gives his new guaranties, we found acceptable, though we had changes to suggest. The second we found grossly inacceptable---one of those clumsy, transparent bits of bad faith so common to them. They did not like to grant the concessions set forth in the first note, but they knew they had to do so or have a hungry population on their hands. So they do what they always do, namely, spit nastily at you after they have made a concession. It is especially characteristic of von der Lancken. As I read the letter I grew more and more angry, and the others shared my feeling. And so, this afternoon when we met at von der Lancken's, I was ready with my objections. We first discussed the principal note, and after long, difficult and wearying discussions, gained all our points. Then we took up the second letter, and Villalobar said that I had some objections to offer. There we sat in that large yellow salon, all upholstered in yellow silk, the silken chairs nearly worn out by German bottoms that should be planted elsewhere. Von der Lancken, and Brohn, and the oily Reith, and another German who remains unnamed in my memory, and Villalobar and Van Vollenhoven and Francqui---smoking cigarettes and looking at von der Lancken out of his fine eyes, reading his thoughts under his false and flimsy mask as though it were a placard. Very well, why two letters? The second is to transmit the first, said von der Lancken. But why is it necessary to write a letter to transmit another letter? And these had to be construed together? Oh no! But yes; that was the very point, any lawyer knows that two documents drawn, executed, and delivered at the same time, signed by the same person, and directed to the same person and dealing with the same subject, are to be construed together. "N'est ce pas, Monsieur Reith?" "Oui." Eh bien; in this letter then were two subjects: (1) The Governor-General said that there were certain cattle, wheat, and so on, in Belgium, belonging to the Germans, and these should be subject to the rules laid down in the other letter; very well, that I concede; give us a list and we shall recognize it. In connection with that point, the Governor-General says that the war contributions levied by the Germans in Belgium are very light and not sufficient to support the army of occupation. I said: "That is none of our business; we have nothing to do with your war contributions." And von der Lancken said: "No, you are quite right." And (2) the second was the point in the last paragraph of the letter, and said "I do not wish to terminate these negotiations." And then there was the old complaint of the Comité National, the unemployed, and so on, and the hand of the Germans plainly revealed, itching for the funds of the Comité National. With that, which was not to be shown to the English, according to the Germans, they could have said later that there were points omitted, and we might have a repetition in principle of the Red Cross Fund, seized by the Germans, and given to the poor only on condition that they---the poor women of Brussels---sew eight hours a day, making sacks for the German trenches. "Here is your letter," I said-and they finally agreed. What clumsy disingenuousness and worse! Fafnir trying to be a Machiavelli!
After that Villalobar formally, or von der Lancken on his nod, formally made request, as Villalobar had previously demanded, that Villalobar go to London to negotiate the business (which Hoover has already done) and Villalobar bowed, consented, and said he wished Francqui and Lambert to accompany him. And it was so ordered. They go next week.
February 15, 1916.---At six o'clock met at the Political Department with the usual group, to which Lambert was added this afternoon, since he is to go to London as one of the three envoys. We read and discussed for the last time---I trust it is the last time!---the Governor-General's three notes, occupying an hour and a half in this task-and tomorrow or a day or so after we shall have them signed, and then we shall have the concessions necessary to satisfy the English and continue to feed the Belgians. The three confrères began to discuss their passports, and leaving on Friday for London and the journey they have been planning so long and for what purpose (since Francqui and Hoover could do all the work necessary) God alone knows.
These are the three stages of civilization:
1. Men are afraid to fight.
2. Men are not afraid to fight.
3. Men are not afraid not to fight.
We have reached the second.
February 18, 1916.----Gibson left this morning at ten o'clock, amid the restrained sadness there is in all parting and abandoned us to a dull day of dreary rain ....
Potatoes have come in from Holland, and the poor are not as hungry tonight. This afternoon, in the rue de la Régence, near the church of the Sablon, I saw a crowd of women coming away from the communal store, bareheaded or with shawls, in the rain, clattering along in their wooden sabots, each carrying her net bag-filled with potatoes. And it was a happy sight; and yet---what useless, endless suffering in this world!
February 22, 1916.---Washington's Birthday, and numerous calls, the aldermen of Brussels coming to sign the book. Lemonnier came, and stayed an hour; much interesting gossip---after he made his little formal speech of felicitation and sat down. He spoke of the increasing suffering on the part of the population of the city; the children in school, it is noted by the teachers, cannot pay as strict attention as is their wont, because they are often hungry; workingmen are growing thin; the soup is not so nourishing. There is no butter, no potatoes, and so on. Lemonnier was led by me to talk rather freely of Max. He will say nothing against him, but it is plain that he feels the slights and the criticism from which he constantly suffers, and the incessant praise of Max. I tried to comfort him. He says Max, who is now at Celle Schloss, about fifty kilometres from Hanover, is purposely quartered with his guards in order not to have his martyrdom dimmed by soft treatment. Von der Lancken did allow that to escape him. Von Sauberzweig treats Lemonnier with crass insolence and brutality; in writing him does not even observe the common forms of civility, and is forever complaining that the policemen do not properly salute German officers in the streets, do not click their heels together in the German fashion, do not raise their hand to their képis four steps before leaving the office, nor keep it there until they have taken four steps past him, and so on. Lemonnier talked too of the big offensives the Germans are about to undertake; he said a letter from a German officer refers to it as the "letzste Schlag."
February 24, 1916.---Hoover writes saying that Humbert(8) was not at all responsible for the information the English Government had of diversion of foodstuffs here; the Belgians have been going about charging it all to poor Humbert, and he has been the object of endless ridicule and abuse in Lambert's salon, and elsewhere. Hoover says that Belgians made the report and that Humbert had been of the greatest assistance in convincing the British Government that the work was well managed by the C.R.B. The Belgian Government has also passed a law whereby Belgian ships will be available for C.R.B. work, and this greatly saves the situation, so that we may be able to avoid a shortage in food in April.
Hoover tells me in his letter that he has had to sacrifice the ambition of his life, which was to be President of the University of California---or Stanford, rather; the trustees held the post open for him as long as they could, but could wait no longer, and he could not desert the Belgian relief work. He is paying all the expenses of the delegates out of his pocket, something like $35,000 a year, besides having, for the sake of neutrality, sacrificed all his positions as director in English companies. And yet the Belgians, even of the Committee, give him no credit, and never mention his name if they can help it, and Villalobar hates him. The damned human race!
February 25, 1916.---Cold and desolate as Maumee Bay in January.
Every one talks of the coming offensive. It fills one with foreboding; what if they should, after all, break through and get to Paris? They are determined and strong, and they know, after all, that Paris is the goal in this great sport they play, and that if they do not take it, they lose the game.
February 26, 1916.---The Germans have won a big victory near Verdun,(9) and seem to be about to take that fortress. If they do! Ah me! Slavery for a certainty, and civilization as we understand the term and democracy set back for a hundred years! It is sad, too sad. All day the thought has made me gloomy. And, if that comes, if Germany wins, never again in my lifetime shall I know the repose of real peace, for the Germans in that event will raise problems in my country, where the only hope of democracy will rest.
Sunday, February 27, 1916.---We got the paper, the German paper, announcing heavy German gains at Verdun, one entire fort---Douaumont---taken, and 5,000 prisoners. And the French had stormed the fort five times in an effort to retake the fort. Ah! Those glorious, gallant French! Was there ever such a nation? And if they were to be defeated, one might well doubt the existence of justice in the universe.
March 1, 1916.---Today the Germans begin their new submarine warfare with the intention of terrorizing mankind. We all wonder how long it will be before the United States can avoid another complication. No news as to Verdun; the town is restless and excited.
Richards(10) in, just back from London, where he had many conversations with Colonel House. The Colonel thought I should have taken the Petrograd mission, and by all means get out of Belgium; for what reason he did not say. The Colonel is entirely devoted to my interests. He wished me to return on the Rotterdam with him, though the Gibson incident spoiled that plan. The Colonel sent me his "dearest love," bless his good heart! Richards says Hoover---who is expecting to come over here in a few days---has written a letter to the English Government resigning the whole work of the C.R.B., that they are all tired of the constant nagging opposition, here and there. And who can blame them? I feel the same way. For instance, today, Caro came in, had a telegram from Villalobar saying the English would not consent to recognize the German view as to paragraph 52, Hague Convention, and the desire of the Germans to ship certain stock to Germany, and begged von der Lancken to yield those two points .... Richards says there is an impression gaining in England that the war will be over in three months; the financial strain alone is too great, it is costing England £5,000,000 a day. The C.R.B. alone has spent £20,000,000 since the war began.
March 4, 1916.---This is my birthday; forty-seven years old-ah me! And yet, much to be grateful for, friends, a charming wife, a good house, and much else far beyond my deserts. The "personnel" sent me flowers, and I had many other remembrances.
Have from London copies of British note refusing to admit some of the terms in the Governor-General's latest assurances, also Hoover's note proposing that the C.R.B. be discontinued, and the English refusal, in which His Excellency, the Earl, says that only on the basis of the C.R.B.'s continuing can the work go on. This letter very handsome, and probably a sad disappointment to Villalobar et al., and the English note very strong.
March 7, 1916.---Heavy rain all day. Poland in for an hour this morning with his troubles in the C.R.B.; the Germans make his life miserable, as they make life in general miserable for every one, including themselves. Just now they are requisitioning butter, and so on, in Hainault, and two pigs a week in each commune of Luxembourg. Hoover is expected tomorrow. No news from, the three confrères. Walked out to the Bois in the heavy snow. Met Cavalcanti, who says that the Germans have failed at Verdun.
March 11, 1916.---Von der Lancken asked me to come over at 11.30; he was very cordial and pleasant. Wished me to wire London and The Hague to find out why the C.R.B. boat laden with provisions had not arrived at Rotterdam. He told me of Villalobar's telegram to Caro, and the reply: and I didn't let him know that I already was au courant. Said if England stopped the revictualing the Germans would put the Belgians on the same rations that prevail in Germany. Asked about Gibson, said he hoped he would not come back, for the military are very much opposed to him. Had a long and pleasant talk with von Moltke about the courier. He was very reasonable. It is the military who make the trouble. He said the orders were not intended for me as much as for the other diplomats who had not kept their word, which I had.
I took up, too, with von der Lancken, the question of the potatoes. It is all due to the "control" established by the Germans with the avowed object of securing an exact distribution of potatoes. There are plenty of them in Belgium, but when, in the course of the functioning of this "German efficiency" machine, the authorities ordered the peasants to declare their potatoes, the peasants at once feared that their potatoes were to be seized, and so hid them. Many of them buried their stocks in the fields, and even sowed crops over them. Von der Lancken said that they were trying to get the Dutch Government to import potatoes.
The Germans are now requisitioning the dogs of burden to be used in the army, and this gives rise to a silly rumor that dogs are to be taken to be used for food.
March 17, 1916.---The $5,000 my friends at Toledo gave me to help relieve cases of suffering coming to my attention arrived today ---just in time. I have so many affecting cases. The plumber who keeps our pipes very indifferently has lost eight children since the war, and has a little girl of twelve dying of pernicious anemia because he can't buy her the food she needs---another glory of the war, almost equal to dropping bombs on children from Zeppelins.
Von Tirpitz has resigned, so the papers say, which is great good news if he will only stay resigned.
March 18, 1916.---Hoover is expected in Monday, and Villalobar and Francqui are reported in London, to return next week.
Poland says the Germans are becoming savage on the question of forcing the Belgian population to work for them, which, of course, is a violation of The Hague conventions. In one commune the people have been ordered to gather twigs to be used in the trenches.
Everybody excited over the Tubantia. The ubiquitous American tourist was aboard.
Sunday, March 19, 1916.---I hear that Cardinal Mercier has returned, that another pastoral of his was read in the Chamber today, and that the printer of the letter has been arrested.(11)
March 20, 1916.--Where have I been that I miss all the gossip? When did the Cardinal return? Here a whole printing-shop has been arrested for printing his pastoral, and the Governor-General is out in a public letter to the Cardinal which says much, and little. The gaunt old prelate has indeed been a thorn in von Bissing's side, and how bravely patriotic he is!
March 22, 1916.--- Hoover arrived today, and dined with us this evening. He was full of interesting bits of gossip about the visit of Villalobar, Francqui, and Lambert to London. As I expected, the mission was a failure, except, as Hoover found out ultimately, Villalobar went to see Sir Edward Grey, thereby offending Merry del Val and Page, and had a complete refusal from Sir Edward. The final day Villalobar went to luncheon with the Asquiths, and there discoursed fully on the Comité National, saying it was a government within a government, and doing political work for the Allies in Belgium. Mrs. Asquith sent word to Hoover of this amazing indiscretion, and Hoover protested in his blunt way to Villalobar, greatly offending Villalobar, of course---and finally put his protest in writing, in order to be sure of it. Lambert has incurred Hoover's ire by saying to every one in London that the C.R.B. was run by nice young college boys who rode about Belgium in motor cars, lived well at châteaux, and generally had a fine time. Hoover sent for the man, and told him not only of the falsity of this statement but of the evil effect it would have on the revictualing, since the only guarantee the English would accept was the presence of the Americans, and Lambert promised to correct the impression. The three went there not, Hoover says, with any fixed intention of intriguing against the Americans, but with the hope perhaps that the Americans could be eliminated. But they failed signally, and Villalobar met with a decided diplomatic rebuff. The English refused to consent to any of the Germans troops being victualed here in Belgium, and at the end Hoover wrote a letter for Villalobar, which he signed, making a proposal which Villalobar said would be acceptable to the Germans, and, as Hoover thought, to the English. And now we await the return of the three pilgrims ---and they will come probably with more hostility to us Americans than ever. Eh bien, so be it!
Conditions in Lille deplorable; "ration days down there," said Hoover laconically. Many are being brought from the city and taken to hospitals in Namur---wholly demented. The fault lies with the Allies, who will not permit sufficient food to go in; Hoover wishes to go down there and see for himself, so he can have a moving story to take back to England with him.
He says the war may end this year but that the Allies will have another drive at it first, perhaps three months longer. The Germans had expected that they would make another attack, when they, the Germans, made their advances at Verdun, but they have been disappointed.
March 24, 1916.---Hoover in, and spent the evening with us, telling us of his many trials in the work of revictualing. He had had long conferences with Captain Newton, who is at the head of the bureau that works with the C.R.B. and with Brohn, of the Political Department. They lately proposed to establish in Belgium the system in force in Northern France, where a German officer is detailed to accompany each American delegate. These cicerones never leave the delegates day or night; it is an intolerable relation, and at the end of three weeks the delegates come back to Brussels, so nervous and unstrung that they burst into tears. Mature men will not accept the posts, only young men with the love of adventure. Nothing of course more impossible, more hellish, could be imagined than to be forced to live with one of those German officers, even the best of them. And Hoover said, "No, under no circumstances would he consent; the whole work could cease first." Then Newton and Brohn offered another method. It all grows out of their old determination to get their fingers into the Comité National; they have all along been bent on that and will succeed, no doubt, some way or another. It means, I suppose, a row when Villalobar gets back. Von der Lancken, too, had sent for Hoover to pump him about Villalobar's mission to England. Hoover, far cleverer than von der Lancken, told him what he should know, and prepared him, we hope, to meet the English demands that the troops be not fed with food taken in the country. Von der Lancken said they could not prevent a soldier here and there from taking a chicken for instance, and Hoover said they could arrange a method, that such small things would not count.
We talked a long while. Hoover very tired, and worn out by his hard work.
"Well," he said, "the principal fact is that at eleven o'clock on the morning of March 24, 1916, the revictualling of Belgium still goes on."
He expects to go to Lille Tuesday. The condition there appalling ---infant mortality has increased 25 per cent.
The Germans wish the C.R.B. to feed the civil population in northern France that are close to the firing line, regions that the Germans have not hitherto permitted the delegates to enter. One of the delegates asked why the Germans did not send the civilians away. And a German General said, "Because, so long as the civilians are there, the French will not bombard." But while the General said this, it may not wholly explain why the civilians remain. Thurston asked many civilians in three of the six divisions, and they refused to leave, a phenomenon frequently noted; the peasants will not leave their land under any circumstances, and even when their homes are destroyed, they crawl back and hide among the ruins.
Hoover says, what it is a pain to record, that some of the peasants in Belgium are planting oats instead of wheat because they can sell the oats to the Germans. Belgium was never in as bad a condition as she is today. A country given over to intensive cultivation, there has been no fertilizer for the land for almost two years, and the stock of food is lower than ever.
Potatoes are still impossible to get. The peasants hide them, and the Comtesse Henricourt de Grunne told me this afternoon, at tea, that in Luxembourg, when the German soldiers come to search for them, the people give them wine to drink, and do not show them their cellars until they are drunk.
March 25, 1916.---The very transparent effort of the Germans is to divide the Belgian population into its old parties of Walloon and Flemish; they have been at it for a long time. Von Bissing published the other morning a reply he had written to a protestation signed by France and others, and today there is published a decision making Flemish the language obligatory in the University at Ghent, an end the Flamangants tried to gain years ago. Professor Pirenne, the Belgian historian, and Professor Fredericq of the University, have been arrested and sent to Germany as a result of this latest order. They say that Fredericq was sent for by von Bissing before he was sent away, and that von Bissing addressed him in Flemish, saying, "You see, Professor, I have learned Flemish since I have been here."
"And I," replied Fredericq, still in French, "since you came, I have forgotten it!"
This afternoon while I was at Dr. Coppez', having him probe my eye, Nell, waiting in the motor, saw a splendid spectacle---two motors flying the Spanish flag, the second piled high with baggage, tearing rapidly down the boulevard, and Villalobar and Lambert gallantly raising their hats to her. And so they are back.
Sunday, March 26, 1916.---A cold, rainy day, good to spend indoors. Villalobar came in toward noon, looking smart in his morning coat, but with his right arm lame, and suffering from a severe cold---never was there such nasty weather, or so much grippe and influenza. Villalobar told me first of the rather favorable result of his voyage, and then of his moving accidents by field and flood. He had waited in London, of course, after Hoover had departed, and had delivered the letter written by Hoover, but signed by Villalobar, in reply to the British note. To this he had had a favorable reply, which he gave me, or a copy of which he gave me. He had seen von der Lancken for a few minutes last evening, and has an appointment with him for this afternoon. He had had, I judged, some unfortunate interviews with Page in London---said Page was very pompous and delivered an oration to him---and mentioned his little disagreement with Hoover, but had no ill-will. Had gone to the Continent in a troopship, filled with Scotch soldiers, kilties, very amusing he said, each with his life-belt on; everybody wore lifebelts, he said, and gave a droll description of Lambert in an enormous life-belt some one had given him in England, and of Francqui, whose portliness was increased by his life-preserver. But Villalobar had scorned to wear one, as had the Prince of Battenberg who was on board---noblesse oblige. He had had four days in Madrid, would have been happier had he been able to spend a day or two longer in such places, but Lambert had been in such a hurry to get home to Madame Lambert that he kept them always on the move. Villalobar had been to La Panne to see the King and Queen, had had luncheon with their Majesties, and gave me a moving picture of the royal and heroic pair, living, in Villalobar's good phrase, "in anguish poverty." The Queen had complained of the "gossips." "They say," said she, "that I have paid a visit to my mother, but it is not true. I have written her, but that is all.". .(12)
This afternoon Francqui called and I had a long talk with him, nearly four hours, reviewing the whole situation, and especially the relations between the Comité National and the C.R.B. He feared that I had some feeling, and I assured him I had none; he was terribly bitter against Gibson and against Richards. "Gibson is no friend of yours," he said. He has conspired to have you displaced."
There was no news in that, of course, but I told him it was of no importance. I tried to do away with any feeling he had and to restore good feeling, and I think I succeeded. We agreed that it would be fatal to have any shadow of disagreement between the two organizations. "Good Lord," said Francqui, "if Hoover told me to take a walk three times a day in the Grande Place, I would take it."
He said he brought me many friendly messages from the King; "He has a little gift for you, the grand cordon of the Order of Léopold."
But this, as immediately appeared, was intended to soften what he evidently thought would be a blow for me, namely, that the King had given the Grand Cordon to Villalobar when he was at La Panne, that is, he had shown a preference for him and for Spain as against America, and sought to escape the possibly unpleasant consequences by promising it to America at some indefinite future time.
Francqui gave amusing descriptions of the incident and accidents of the journey, especially of their being hoisted on board the Rotterdam at Ramsgate. Hoover came in just at this time, and we all had tea, and they stayed until seven o'clock.
Hoover says that the orders given by von Bissing the 15th of March forbidding the further exportation of food, or its purchase by soldiers, have been so strictly enforced that soldiers are stopped and eggs and butter, and so on, taken away from them, and the price of butter has accordingly gone down two francs.
The quantity of food imported into northern France is so insufficient that there have been riots at Roubaix and the storehouses of the C.R.B. raided.
March 27, 1916.---Villalobar had a long interview with von der Lancken on the result of his trip, and I hear from Hoover---I not having been invited to the conference---that it was satisfactory. Von der Lancken and von Bissing go to Berlin tomorrow, I am told, to discuss the matter with the Government.
Hoover, Dr. and Mrs. Barrows, and Poland here for dinner tonight.
March 29, 1916.---Sent for Francqui, and he came at 4:30. Told him of the feeling created by the remark of the Baroness Lambert, "ces cochons d'Américains," and of how the men in the C.R.B. resented it, and asked him if it couldn't be stopped---not gossip of women, of course, but the effects of such bitterness.(13)
I spoke of that or selected that as a point of departure for a general discussion of the relations between the members of the Comité National and the C.R.B., growing more and more difficult, as has been apparent to me, in the last few months, and particularly since my return, because, as many have long felt, and as I am reluctantly coming myself to believe, of an understanding, or an effort, emanating from Lambert's salon, to advance the ambitions of Villalobar and secure for him the credit as much as possible of what has been done. The men in the C.R.B. were rapidly becoming convinced that there was a well-organized plan to put the Americans to one side, if not to oust them altogether, and in recent events, the embassy to London, the visit to La Panne, and so on, they saw a confirmation of their impressions; and the Baroness' unhappy remark was the last straw. The excellent Francqui was wholly responsive, and I told him quite plainly that now was the time to put an end to any such tendency, if there was any use; that we would not allow ourselves to be relegated to any second place, or play second fiddle, and that I would not enter into an intrigue with anybody---that sooner than do so I should depart. He was impressed, and agreed to see to it that no further trouble of that sort should be allowed to exist. He had asked me to write to the King, but I told him I should not do so---that I had nothing to say that warranted me in writing. We talked a long while, and when he left I felt that I had accomplished much good. And I feel better---for I have a disagreeable weight off my mind. What a nasty thing is gossip in this world! And salons! They are precisely like saloons where politicians gather to gossip. Francqui told me of an old quarrel between the Lamberts and the d'Oultremonts, but why waste time in writing down such pettinesses?
March 30, 1916.---Tonight dined at Francqui's with Hoover, and men of the C.R.B., and a number of learned astronomers, from the University of Brussels, invited there to meet the savants of the C.R.B. In Belgium la haute noblesse cannot associate with professors for two reasons; their social position will not permit them to stoop to such contamination, and they wouldn't know what the professors were talking about if they did. But the war is going to change this and many things; there are already republican rumblings in Belgium, even with the King the heroic idol that he is; Francqui was saying tonight that there would be, after the war, a party Republican-Albertist, that is, the King for President, for the King is a natural if not a theoretical democrat. I have heard many others predict a republic as one of the results of the revolution the war will probably bring about.
Francqui full of entertaining stories; one the King told him of a Brussels lawyer who is a volunteer in the army. Sent out at night to reconnoitre between the trenches, he and several of his men were crawling like redskins toward the German trenches when they were suddenly halted by German soldiers and made prisoners. The Brussels lawyer who spoke German drew a German sergeant into conversation as they stood there in the night, looked him over, saw that he was a common workman, and asked "Socialist?" "Ja!" and then he talked to him as though he, the lawyer, were a Socialist too, and said that it was stupid for them to be killing each other for the benefit of the capitalists, and so on, and the German agreed, forgot his business, and the two groups departed, to return to their respective trenches.
He had another story of a Russian prisoner who jumped out of the German trenches, where he had been working, and made a dash for the Belgian trenches (shot in the calf of the leg as he ran) and gaining the Belgian trenches was then made prisoner. He had no idea where he was or of who the Belgians were---had never even heard of Belgians; all this gleaned by an interpreter who had been called. But he did know enough to state that he was a Russian soldier!
Hoover tells me that my talk with Francqui has already borne excellent fruit. Francqui suggests a weekly meeting of Villalobar, Poland, himself and me at any Legation to discuss things. Decided to have them Saturday mornings. And Hoover thinks I should write to the King---and perhaps I should, provided I am at liberty to mention his statement to Francqui that he wished to give me the Grand Cordon.
Grave news about the Sussex,(14) torpedoed by a German submarine. The Dutch papers say that there is much excitement in America, and that it is thought the President will hand Bernstorff his passport.
Hoover sick over his visit to Lille,(15) and we asking von Bissing to permit the exportation of cattle to that district.
March 31, 1916.---Another day of sunshine, but I couldn't get out before noon, when I went with Caspar Whitney for a little walk. Hoover in for an hour, talking C.R.B. of course. He thinks that the services rendered by the men who have been in Belgium in C.R.B. work can be combined under these heads: (1) That they organized a perfect machinery for securing justice in distribution, so that the poor have been fed and kept up to a normal physical condition, and thereby enabled to offer spiritual resistance; (2) That they have provided a moral rallying point in each commune. (3) That their presence as eyewitnesses has acted as a constant restraint on the Germans and prevented much brutality.
Of the 150 men who have come into Belgium, 2 are in insane asylums, 30 are suffering from nervous breakdowns. In addition to the 150 in Belgium, there are 100 in London, Rotterdam and New York, and 5,000 local committees all over the world.
Hoover has organized, much to my relief and delight, a department for feeding dogs; this department even rations biscuit to working dogs, but dogs kept for pleasure must depend on their master's tables for their food. I have so pitied the poor dogs who draw the carts! And now they are to be well cared for.
Dreier, new vice-consul in Ghent, in today. Mme. Lambert toiled up to the salon this afternoon to see Nell and to say... wouldn't we come to dinner next Tuesday? ... And half an hour later Hoover and Richards arrive in excitement; wish to scotch a tale against me, a tale they ascribe to Villalobar and Lambert, to wit, that Gibson and all of the C.R.B. were conspiring to oust me and have Gibson appointed Minister in my place! Pfaugh! I didn't tell them that I heard this silly tale five days ago!
Hoover and Poland dined with us this evening. A new sensation has been created by the resignation of Comte de Mérode from the provincial committee of Brabant. The Count as Grand Marshal of the court is a très gros lègume. His dignity is offended by the installation of the new system of control conducted by Americans, and required by the English; de Mérode is angry accordingly at the Americans, and may not know that the English have insisted that they exercise such control. Though he has resigned, however, the Count continues to assist at all reunions of the committee.
April 1, 1916.---Meeting this morning at my legation of Villalobar, Francqui, Hoover, Poland, Janssen, and Wouters, discussing a variety of topics demanding attention. The action of the Germans at Mons in forcing Belgians to work for them, the issue of ration cards, and so on. Sat till two o'clock, until Francqui said, "Mais mon Dieu, are you gentlemen going to have lunch?"
Francqui and Hoover came again at 4:30, and we had tea, and talked for two hours. Francqui came bustling in with startling news; the Dutch are in a panic, remobilizing their army, some great movement impending, guns being moved along the frontiers.
What can it mean? We speculated fruitlessly. Once Hoover said that if Holland permitted England to land troops, the Germans would have to fall back along the Meuse; and the smile that spread over Francqui's face! It is said, however, that the Allies have issued an ultimatum to Holland, demanding that she send no further food or exports of any kind into Germany. Does it mean another Salonica? The town is all excitement tonight. Cavalcanti, in after dinner. Thinks Holland will go in on the side of Germany, and very blue in consequence. What I fear is that the note of the Allies ---if there is one---may affect momentous decisions about to be taken at Berlin, and that the submarine war may be extended rather than diminished, with disastrous results in American relations .... Nell giving a reception for the C.R.B. tonight and our salons thronged with the "boys." But Hoover had reassuring news from Janssen, just in from Rosendaal. He had telephoned Langhorne, who said that the crisis was over.
Sunday, April 2, 1916.---Hoover left at seven for Holland. What a week it has been! We are quite worn out! I haven't had time to set down half of all that has transpired. The worst perhaps, is that Villalobar, whom I kept in the revictualing and always protected and advanced, has been employed undoubtedly in a despicable little conspiracy to discredit the Americans and make himself the sole saviour of Belgium. He hasn't succeeded, but he desperately tried through the Lamberts, et al.
April 8, 1916.---Villalobar with a long official report of his mission, and a paraphrase he had made, or rather that Francqui had made for him, of the stiff English note. He said he was rather sure that the Germans would yield all the points. Francqui came in to have tea with me, and we chatted away. He has Richards on the brain, and does not like the way he and others of the C.R.B. dash about in motors. It is not, indeed, very chic of them to do it, since no others may, and the German officers who have long since been denied their motor cars, for reasons of economy, are infuriated every time they see a C.R.B. car whiz by. Francqui went into a long analysis of Villalobar's character, and assured me again of Villalobar's love for me. He and Lambert are always doing this. I fear the lady doth protest too much. Francqui told me of the Empress Eugénie's interest in Villalobar when he was a child, and how it was she, so Villalobar told him, who had her own physician at Paris design the artificial legs on which he walks so well, all of which explains Villalobar's love for the old Empress.
Sunday, April 9, 1916.---Still laid up, and foot no better. Like a fool drove out in motor to take the air. The avenue Louise all green, and in the woods the anemones sprinkled the grass like snow. Many German officers strutting about, in their hideous uniforms. The crude, raw colors they seem to wear at will are a veritable eyesore, eloquent of the taste of the nation. All the poor little dogs now must wear muzzles---latest German regulations! They fear they may bite women---the Germans, who shoot down thousands of women and children! O tempora! O mores! One woman has been fined one thousand marks for having a little poodle unmuzzled, and, not having the one thousand marks, they seized her furniture.
April 11, 1916.---Meeting here this afternoon, instead of with Villalobar---because of my bad foot---of Villalobar, Francqui, Poland, and Wouters, Van Vollenhoven arriving late. Villalobar had had many communications with von der Lancken, who had originally consented to everything demanded by the English, in the last note, that is, and then, at the last minute stuck at a phrase in the letter which recognizes the Comité National and the C.R.B. as immune from interferences. Villalobar had fought hard for it, but von der Lancken had not yet yielded. The whole thing, of course, is the work of von Sandt, who is constantly trying to make trouble for the Comité National and the C.R.B. Between his department and von der Lancken's there is much friction,(16) a human quality not inseparable from the sublime German organization and efficiency. We talked it all over and over again, and could, of course, come to no conclusion, but must await a conference with von der Lancken, who says if I can't go to him, he will come to me. We may therefore have the meeting here tomorrow afternoon.
Everybody impressed by Asquith's speech in the House of Commons; it is construed by all as the first hopeful sign of anything like a rapprochement. Villalobar, Francqui, and Van Vollenhoven all thought it meant the beginning of the end. Perhaps---but who knows?
Villalobar stayed after the others, talking about his King, and King Albert, both of whom had spoken to him of the danger of revolutions after the war. Villalobar gave me a picture of Alphonse at luncheon with his family---speaking Spanish, now a word of English to his wife, now a word of German here and there. Also a picture of the old Empress Eugénie, ninety, and still, as Viflalobar expressed it, "with a shining mind." What she has seen in her life! I was reading of Ossina last night. King Alphonse had spoken to Villalobar of me, and of my having the post at Petrograd. How had he known? Villalobar says his Sovereign offered him the post at Petrograd, and he had refused. Enfin!
We are all tired out with the impossible situation.
April 14, 1916.---Sure enough, von der Lancken asked this morning for a meeting, and I invited them here this afternoon for tea. They came, at four o'clock, Villalobar, von der Lancken, Brohn, Reith, and a fourth nice little round, red-faced, duel-marked, blue-eyed German---a beautiful soul, but I've forgotten his name, as Emerson said at Longfellow's funeral---Francqui, and Van Vollenhoven. Von der Lancken made a little speech, thanking Villalobar and Francqui for going to London, and reciting all the troubles he had, here and at Berlin, to bring about an understanding, saying that in accepting the British demands they were swallowing a great deal, and so on.
I replied, thanking him and the Governor-General for all they had done; said that I knew that it had been very difficult, as it had, and expressed my satisfaction for all the skill and patience he had shown, and thanked Villalobar and Francqui as well, on my own behalf and on the part of Van Vollenhoven as well. Von der Lancken was very much pleased, and blushed and thanked me, and then Reith read the note, I listening, waiting for the omission of the reference to the Comité National and the C.R.B., and lo, at the end, there it was---all that we could wish, and I was greatly relieved and very happy over it. So it all passed off in the best possible manner. We discussed a mass of details and difficulties. I had tea served, Francqui was very funny with his jokes---and so, I hope, and trust, the revictualing has been hauled over another reef. There remains still to be exchanged the formal papers, and to send them to London, where I hope they will be acceptable.
April 18, 1916.---Villalobar and Francqui in at 11:30 this morning, and we discussed for an hour the papers to be drawn up. We wrote a reply to von der Lancken, thanking him and von Bissing and taking care to spike down once and for all the new and the old guaranties.
Raining dismally, but Nell and I went out and drove for an hour.
April 19, 1916. --- Dined this evening at Francqui's. Could not get a shoe on, so wore an Indian moccasin. Had a good time. Professor Cartier there, criticizing the President, and I argued with him perhaps possibly for an hour. But it irritates me to have him criticized. And, worst of all, Green,(17) of the C.R.B., stood there and supported Cartier---very bad taste, for an American, I thought. But then, nearly the whole of the C.R.B. is strongly opposed to the President, and fascinated by T. R. "Republics abound in young civilians."
April 20, 1916.---No news this morning of the relations between America and Germany. And this tension is severe. I do not see how it can endure longer, and I can imagine how nasty the Germans will be if we have to have war, especially with all the men of the C.R.B. here. The Germans have ordered the communes to report all foreigners who have come to Belgium since the war---which means Americans. It is terribly wearing, to live this way---from day to day---not knowing when we will be turned out. It is aging.
April 22, 1916.---No news, and still the torment of uncertainty of not knowing what is to happen, or what we are to do tomorrow. The Dutch papers say that Bernstorff, after an interview with Lansing, did not appear so optimistic as he had the day before. Had a long cipher dispatch giving the gist of the President's speech to Congress. It was very strong, noble, and solemn, conceived in a high strain. What the Germans will do---who knows?
April 27, 1916.---The tables are out on the sidewalks again, and the people can sip their beer and coffee and watch the passing show as they were used to in the old days. When the Germans came, the city authorities ordered the tables indoors, as a means of preventing disturbances, and as a sort of penalty too. The Germans now put them back, so that things will appear normal under German occupation (Lemonnier told me that yesterday he had refused to grant the permission and had been overruled), and so that fools and liars ... can write about the beauties of German rule in Belgium. I read in an American newspaper yesterday an article by S. S. McClure in which he said that since the Germans took charge of things in Belgium there had been a complete cessation of contagious diseases in Belgium; and he described the fine work the Germans are doing in saving the babies. In the first place, there were no more contagious diseases in Belgium before the war than in any other country, and the fact is that they have increased alarmingly since the German occupation, especially tuberculosis. Dr. Derscheid has frequently told me of late of this increase, and there have been several meetings at the Hôtel de Ville to try to devise means of decreasing it. It is a question, of course, of nourishment. As for the children, there is no German work to save them or help them. There is an organization, "The Little Bees," which looks after the children. It is wholly Belgian, and has existed for a long time. It does excellent work. When McClure was here he was constantly in charge of von Falkenhausen, a nephew of von der Lancken, and von Falkenhausen never once let McClure out of sight. Von Falkenhausen is a charming young fellow(18)---and showed McClure everything, telling him it was all German!
Sunday, April 30, 1916.---Francqui came in for tea, to exchange views with me. We talked of everything---among other things Sir Roger Casement(19) whose amazing treason in descending on the Irish coast to start a revolution has startled us all. Francqui knew Sir Roger in Africa, where he was in command of a detachment there. Casement was, indeed, under his orders. Casement then or later was a Baptist missionary---a bad enough start to be sure!---and after being British consul, he "exposed" Leopold II's immoral conduct of the Congo, and of course, such a signal piece of cant and hypocrisy would please England, so he was made a Baronet in recognition of his, and England's, superior moral character. And now---this!
May 1, 1916.---He says Albert is furious against Klobukowski,(20) who, so Villalobar says, tried to organize a revolution in Belgium before the outbreak of the war. I never heard of it before, and doubt it.
The C.R.B. "boys," or Poland at least, back from Charleville. Saw Gerard, who says the situation is intensely critical; that Germany will reply proposing arbitration at The Hague, that we will accept, providing Germany meanwhile promises to stop blowing up our citizens---and then, the break. Enfin!
What a bitter experience this whole thing is! And when will the nightmare in which I live come to an end?.. . If it weren't for the poor, who would go hungry, I'd go away tomorrow.
May 2, 1916.---The Germans have cynically broken their agreement with the C.R.B., in writing signed by von Bissing, not to interfere with Belgian barges. The situation is not important except as an indication that the Germans have no moral principle, because the C.R.B. has Holland barges.
Poland says that in his conversations with German officers he has gathered the impression that the German Government in replying to our note will say that it will suspend the "objectionable" practices of the submarine war, giving a specific time---three months, say---in which the United States must tell the Allies to relinquish their illegal blockade.
May 6, 1916.---Villalobar drove to my Legation this morning in a handsome victoria, drawn by noble horses, and driven by a fine ancient coachman who wore a flaming cockade. I divined the ownership of the horses---Prince Napoléon. "The only thing that is amiss is the cockade," said Villalobar. He had tried to induce the Empress not to requisition the Bonaparte horses, and had failed, so he now claims them as his own, and drives to German headquarters behind them. "The imperial coachman," he said, "forgets and calls me 'Monseigneur.'"
May 9, 1916.---Cold rain, and dripping trees in the Bois where we drove a while this afternoon.
Villalobar came in at seven by appointment; new trouble in the revictualing, due to the pestiferous activity of von Sandt and von Lumm, who have persistently done everything they could to complicate the work. They are now pushing von Bissing to detail German officers to attend the meetings of the Provincial committees---their old intention, often frustrated. Von der Lancken is all right, and we decided, on Francqui's suggestion, to meet here tomorrow at noon to try to find a way to meet this latest difficulty.
May 10, 1916.---Villalobar and Francqui came duly at 11:30, but von der Lancken through a misunderstanding could not come. So we postponed the reunion to tomorrow. We discussed the latest trouble, and decided on a method by which we hope to settle the difficulty; namely, by having the provisional chairman report weekly to the German provisional president, and give him any information he may desire.
Nell and I drove to Louvain. The ruins of war still there, piled up now, but along the way many homes have been rebuilt or repaired, so that the evidence of the war has already begun to disappear.
May 11, 1916.---A long, hard, tiring day---one of those days that take it out of one. First, a long conference this morning---Villalobar, Francqui, von der Lancken, and Brohn. Von der Lancken and Brohn were very reasonable. We explained the danger and impossibility of having German officers attend the sessions of the provincial committees. In the first place, the sessions would not be long. The committees would meet and adjourn; and if there were discussion, it would break up in a row. Second, the English would not consent, and the revictualing would end. Third, it would serve no purpose, because, if the Belgians wished to make politics, they would not do it in the committee sessions but do it elsewhere ---in some estaminet, or private home---and it was only the naïveté of the Germans that caused them to imagine that by placing a representation in the committee sessions they could prevent their having political discussion. I cited the story of the Belgian and German painter. Finally, I said bluntly that we were tired of the interferences of von Sandt and von Lumm, and their follies, and that they must put an end to it. To be sure, von der Lancken and Brohn were of my opinion, but we must help von der Lancken to combat von Sandt and von Lumm, who help to influence the Governor-General, and we finally found a formula, or Francqui did, based on what we discussed yesterday, and von der Lancken was satisfied. To clinch it, Villalobar and I go to see the Governor-General Saturday at noon, von der Lancken to arrange the audience.
May 13, 1916.---Today, at 12:30, Villalobar and I drove in the rain to the Ministry of Arts and Sciences to have our audience with the Governor-General and talk about the revictualing. At the head of the wide staircase, we waited; two officers there, one a little grey man, Jouel, or some such name, pale and pasty, head of the police, Villalobar said, and a thin, sallow, sick-looking man, dark circles under his eyes, and thin hair, looked like an ancient druggist in a mid-western town, save for his uniform. Villalobar said it was the Prince Hatzfeld, and perhaps it was. Every time I go to see the Governor-General and wait in that hall, some one points out some one else as the Prince Hatzfeld. The family must be large, even for a German family. Finally von der Lancken came, very smart in his uniform, and high beautiful boots, running up the stairs like a boy. He feared he was late, and was relieved when he saw that the young aide had not yet admitted us. Waiting, we compared ages, a topic broached by our reproaching von der Lancken for running up stairs. I told mine first, forty-seven; von der Lancken said he was forty-eight---Villalobar fifty. Then we went in to the presence of the Governor-General.
He received us with great cordiality, and asked us to be seated at a table that stood between the windows. After a word or two, he produced a MS and began to read it to us. It was in French, and he read what he had to say, because he does not like to trust himself in French .... He read making curious mistakes in pronunciation, sitting there with a great enamel crois dangling at his collar, and two other crosses---I don't know what, though one was the Iron Cross, of the first class, I think. Down in the courtyard below they were having guard-mount; the band was playing, some prodigious German voice was bellowing martial commands, we could hear the noise of booted feet slapping the paving stones heavily in the goosestep, then the bellowing voice, the ring of the butts of muskets on the pavement as they grounded arms .... It wasn't much of an address that General von Bissing read, greatly to Villalobar's relief and mine, for we feared, from something Braun had said to Villalobar on a visit we paid him only this morning, that the Governor-General was going to impose very hard conditions. But nothing of the sort appeared in his address; all he wished was that his authorities be kept informed of what goes on and that there be no politics. We were pleased, and shamed, talked the business over generally, told him we could deal well with von der Lancken and that we hoped no one else would be allowed to interfere, had a kind of love feast of agreement, the Governor-General agreeing to leave the finding of a formula to von der Lancken and to me, and so forth. We remained maybe half an hour. The Governor-General talked French slowly, appealing to von der Lancken now and then when he wanted a word. I told him several stories that made him laugh. We came away all feeling good. Von der Lancken gave us the hint to go by saying a high personage was to lunch there (it proved to be our old friend the Crown Prince of Bavaria). Von der Lancken was in high spirits, for he had won a victory over von Sandt and von Lumm---whom Francqui always carefully refers to as von Lump.
May 16, 1916.---Hoover came this morning, or came to call this morning. Shaler is with him. He brings no news especially, except that Northcliffe and others over there are trying to do away with the feeding of Belgium. Asquith and Sir Edward Grey, more civilized, are staunchly its friends. Enfin! Small idea of peace in England, says Hoover. British blood up, and all stubborn, because Germany has shown a desire for peace. German stupidity doesn't help peace on much; if Germany only were to say that Belgium would be restored, and France, she might take what she wants almost in the Balkans, provided ancient Servia were restored. There may be some chance after another offensive. But some such statement of willingness on Germany's part, as I have stated, that is, restoration of Belgium and Serbia, with German influence in Bulgaria paramount, since Bulgaria is the strongest of the Balkan states, and there would be a peace party in England too strong for the Government to resist, and America, which knows only western Europe, save a superficial knowledge of something wrong in Poland, would be satisfied. I mean American public opinion.
May 17, 1916.---Hoover here until lunch-time, with his troubles. The old dislike of Francqui, begun in China years ago, still rankles, and is not lessened by the gossip that goes on too freely in the C.R.B. Human nature is very rife in the relations between the C.R.B. and the Comité National.
The "boys" in northern France have a hard time of it. Hoover says Richardson was tormented continuously by German officers during the recent crisis, and then asked by them---with true German nobility and gentlemanliness!---why he didn't resent what they said! It is hard to bear; harder to think that there are still places in the world where modern Germany is not understood as brutal, cowardly, barbarian; that it is without honor, without a sense of fair play, justice, or moral principle. The nations of the world should send Germany to Coventry.
Hoover has trouble, too, with E. Janssen, who is said to be strongly anti-American. Janssen has charge of the clothing department. All the clothing, $3,000,000 worth, comes from America, every bit of it, but Janssen objects to an American delegate having any part in it.
Ah, well! The Belgians will hate us as badly as the Germans or the English the next thing! To be sure, gratitude is rare, and obligation hard to endure!
May 18, 1916.---Déjeuner in Hoover's honor---Villalobar, Lemonnier, Lambert, Francqui, Jadot, de Wouters, and E. Janssen, Nell and I. Very pleasant. Baron Janssen in after luncheon. Spoke of political effect of what America has done for Belgium. If it had not been for my telegram to the President in October, 1914, the C.R.B., and the sentiment in America created by the C.R.B. with its press campaign, Belgium not only would not have been fed, but would have been annexed by Germany a year ago, thereby creating a fait accompli which would have been difficult to undo even in a peace congress. Hoover and I were talking of the same thing last evening. The people in Poland, Servia, and elsewhere are as badly off as, or worse off than, the Belgians are or ever were, but there is not much sentiment anywhere for them---some, but no general emotion. It was C.R.B.'s press campaign in America that has created a public opinion in the world that Germany and England always take into account, a public opinion that has not only saved Belgium from famine and worse, but from destruction and dismemberment as a nation. It pays to advertise!
Much talk of peace. Oh, that it would come!
May 22, 1916.---Dined tonight at Francqui's. Hoover there, Villalobar, and others. Good dinner with the doors open on to the pretty garden. Francqui, Hoover, Villalobar, and I talked a long time after dinner about revictualing. The Germans are not keeping their engagement, and we must make another demand, although the Governor-General has issued orders saying that he will send to the front all officers who disobey his rules as to the non-seizure of foodstuffs. However, the condition is better than it was, and has been very difficult because the latest engagements comprehended many things not included in the former assurances, and seek to do away with many abuses that have grown up.
After I had come home, Hoover and Poland called---the old story, this row with Francqui and with Janssen. I think the trouble is due to Poland's utter lack of diplomacy and savoir-faire.(21) He is an excellent organizer, but is incapable of distinctions, of detecting nuances, and so on, and has no art of getting along with men. I think most of the ill-feeling in the C.R.B. is due to his sensitiveness and his exactions and his tendency to listen to evil gossip. Janssen is quite as bad, and is terribly conceited in addition. Lately there has been trouble about the ordinary relief, under Janssen's direction. As all the money for the purchase of this relief, mostly clothes, comes from America, and as the propaganda for the clothes in America keeps interest alive in the work of the C.R.B., Hoover very properly wished to attach an American delegate to the department, to which Janssen objected, and was very nasty about it .... So this row. This Hoover tried to settle, and did so, or thought he had done so, when it was agreed to detail Brohn to that position. Tonight, then, Janssen sent a letter to Poland, a letter rather nasty in tone, and Hoover is furious; has written a response himself. They stayed until after eleven talking this over, but we got nowhere, except that I agreed to talk to Francqui and try to solve the problem. Hoover leaves early tomorrow morning, and expects to return in ten days with Hemphill,(22) the New York banker, whom he brings over to arrange for Belgian credits after the war. To bed, worn out---with the storm in nature and, worse, in man.
May 23, 1916.---Count de Mérode is so furious against the Germans that he can not sleep at night, though he can talk, and talks against them all the time. He has suffered much, indeed. The Germans have shown him no deference and no respect; have rifled his house, and his château in the country, taken his wine, and his horses, cut down his trees; and at the Château Royal at Laeken, the King's summer house, and at de Mérode's house, they have committed all acts of indecencies, put their boots bodily in the silken chairs and divans, and committed the filthiest horrors in the château, not hesitating to defecate in the salons. Besides, they swilled down all the King's wine.
May 24, 1916.---Edmond Solvay in, half sick at the refusal of the Germans to accord him a passport for Switzerland and Biarritz. He showed me the formal refusal, a printed blank filled in by the Pass Zentral, with the only polite word in the form, although printed, crossed out.
May 25, 1916.---To Villalobar's for the bi-weekly meeting on revictualing. Had a long talk with Mme. Phillipson about the trouble between Hoover and Poland and Janssen. Mme. Phillipson thinks as I do, that it is their inability to converse with each other that makes the trouble, and seems to blame Janssen for being arrogant.
I'm tired and sick of the whole miserable business. Strange! To get along with people seems generally quite easy to me. One only has to remember that people are human, and not perfect, and not to expect them to be saints and paragons.
May 26, 1916.---My head ached too badly last night to note half the incidents that occurred at Villalobar's yesterday. Among others, this: Francqui had reported that von der Lancken had told him that the Governor-General and he would like to visit the soup canteens, and so on, and Francqui had replied that he could not say, that he would have to ask the Ministers. I said that inasmuch as they had the power to go anyway, it would be better to put the best face on the matter, and go with them. Villalobar said that we, the Ministers, could invite them. Lambert made a patriotic protest, said that their visit would outrage the Belgians, and so on; and then, two minutes later was whispering to Villalobar, asking if he had secured from the Germans the favor of a pass allowing his sister to go to Switzerland.
Sunday, May 28, 1916.---This morning Villalobar arrived, in trouble. I wondered if it related to the Cardinal's invitation to lunch with him in honor of the Nuncio---who is leaving---on Thursday, for he had come from von der Lancken, or had seen von der Lancken yesterday, and I knew that our lunching at the Cardinal's would displease the Germans. But no, he said he was delighted that the Cardinal had asked us; it gave him the only loophole in his difficulty. That difficulty was this: von der Lancken had asked him to entertain in honor of Madame von Bissing, who is here at Trois Fontaines. As he told me, Villalobar threw up his hands, made une moue and said "How German!" Von der Lancken had told him it would please von Bissing. Villalobar had said that he was not prepared to give a dinner, and so on, proposed a tea, or a luncheon. "But the Governor-General does not like luncheons," said von der Lancken. Villalobar said he turned green inside, but there was nothing to do---he will have the dinner the 2nd of June---did I think Nell would consent? Of course, we must help old Roderigo out, and we shall go. It may be our turn, next, who knows?
And Villalobar and I sat a long time moralizing over the mysteries of the German nature. Enfin!
May 30, 1916.---Francqui came at 4:30 to talk about the troubles, but happily they seem all finished. Hoover and Hemphill held up in Holland; may come in Friday. While Francqui here, Sevring and his young German guardian came and we all had tea together. Nothing of interest.
Hear that von der Lancken goes to Berlin; big pow-wow to be held there in the interests of peace.
June 1, 1916.---Left at noon with Villalobar in his car, for Malines to attend the luncheon given to the Nuncio, who is going away. We drove rapidly in an open car, in the clear, sharp air and brilliant sun. Arrived at Malines and the palace of the Cardinal,(23) a plain, severe building beside the cathedral, the wall of the palace still pitted by German bullets. Drove into the pretty garden in the court, and descending, entered the hall, and up the big staircase of a room in the Empire style---though quite severe---the typical ecclesiastical atmosphere everywhere, and entered a reception room, large, light, plain, monastic, with ancient portraits of other cardinals and a new portrait, just finished, of Mercier. Received by his secretary, half a dozen Monseigneurs, in black soutanes and magenta sashes, standing about. We were presented, and almost immediately His Eminence came in, tall, vigorous, splendidly alive and alert; the little red cap on his poll, a long red silken cape flowing from his broad shoulders to the heels of his buckled shoes. He is spare, with hair rather long and quite grey; an ascetic expression though not pale; clear blue eyes and a humorous mouth; looks quite like an Irish priest, reminds me of old Father Hannin at home. A distinguished presence, quiet and very simple, natural, sincere, warm and generous of impulse, manly, good, and yet clerical, very democratic, cordial---putting every one at ease, and exceedingly clever, too. I had not seen him for months; he looked no older, though he has endured much, the splendid patriot who has been a real shepherd for his people. He said that he had the grippe during his recent visit to Rome, and had not fully recovered. The Nuncio arrived, with his auditeur; Nuncio and Cardinal in violet and flaming scarlet made a picture .... Van Vollenhoven there, the only other diplomat, except Capelle and Leo d'Ursel of the Belgian Foreign Office; Becqu, governor of Brabant, and an official from Antwerp, the only other laymen; all the others Monseigneurs of His Eminence's staff, and other clergy.
We went out to luncheon without ceremony, the Cardinal leading with Nuncio, Villalobar and I following, and entered a large barren hall, with the ceiling broken, the roof showing, another token of German culture in the autumn of 1914. The Cardinal waved a white hand carelessly and eloquently at the wreckage, said he must apologize for the state of affairs, but was not responsible, he said with a knowing laugh; it was the best he could offer his guests!
He placed the Nuncio across the long table facing him, and Villalobar and me on his own right and left respectively; said grace in Latin; there were responses in Latin by some of the clergy, and twenty of us sat down to a simple luncheon, served by two aged men in black frock coats.
He talked much to me, did His Eminence; was full of appreciation for all America had done, intended to visit America when the war was over, and so on. Hoover had called on him; he was profoundly impressed by Hoover's force of character; and had an excellent opinion of the American delegates he had seen. Talked simply about his own patriotic services; said it was but natural and his duty and that he had never even thought of adopting any other attitude. Told me, confidentially, much about his visit to Rome. I remarked that he had not only rendered great services to his country, but as well to his church, and I made bold to say that, since the Catholic church had had to bear the reproach of having for long been on the side of the strong against the weak, of autocracy against democracy, he had done much, had been indeed, the only one, to do anything to dissipate that impression: I even went so far as to criticize the conduct and attitude of the church in Italy. He said that he had urged the Pope to do something on that very ground; had pointed out to the Holy Father that he had an opportunity that had come to no Pope in many, many years, to range the church on the side of humanity and progress but had failed to make an impression. He said it sadly. "A word would suffice," he said, "one word. But he has not seized the opportunity." And the Cardinal sat reflecting silently a moment.
When the meal was done, His Eminence arose, with his hand resting on his glass of champagne, and made a beautiful and touching little speech about the Nuncio, expressing his sorrow at having him go, but felicitating him, also paying pretty tribute to the services the Nuncio had rendered Belgium, and speaking in the same terms of Villalobar and of me. (But he forgot poor Van Vollenhoven!) Then he went on to say that the Nuncio had been called to a new post in the Vatican, as major of honor of the household, and then humorously said that as he could be in the presence of Saint Paul every day he would be a Cardinal in a short time.
In saying this, His Eminence divulged a secret, for the Nuncio had refused to say where he was going; it is, however, traditional that the major of honor of the Pope is made a Cardinal in a short time. The Nuncio replied in a good little speech, that carried a charm from the fact that he speaks French with an Italian accent. Then we all arose, the Cardinal returned thanks in Latin, more responses in Latin, Kyrie eleison, and so on, more signs of the cross, and we went back to the big reception room, where we had our coffee and cigarettes and cigars, chatted awhile, and when the Nuncio left, Villalobar and I followed. It was an interesting occasion, and the Cardinal was delightful. There was a gracious kissing of his ring and the Nuncio's, and the last glimpse of the Cardinal I had was of the young priest who has been in Holland, falling on his knee before the tall scarlet figure, and in an access of emotion kissing the Cardinal's ring. It was this priest, as I forgot to say, who served the Cardinal as a means of escaping happily and gracefully from his oversight in the case of Van Vollenhoven. After the lunch, the Nuncio whispered across the table and called the Cardinal's attention to the omission, whereupon His Eminence nodded, and' directly, calling down the table to the priest, told him that, when he returned to Holland he must carry their thanks and best wishes to the Hollanders, and then turning paid a graceful compliment to Van Vollenhoven and raised his glass to him. Enfin! And that ruined dining-room, which he is in no hurry to have repaired, but will let remain as an eloquent commentary upon German methods ....
I spent an hour before dinner reading the American newspapers that came in the pouch yesterday---an accumulation of three weeks of stale sensations. I am always depressed after reading our papers; they are abominable! It is a pity that we have no paper printed in the English language. The reporters' jargon and patois they use is rapidly demoralizing the language. The auxiliaries "shall" and "should" and the relative "that" are never used, and have wholly disappeared. And the papers contain nothing but scandals, charges, indictments, and abuse, worse than ever now that the presidential campaign has opened. One has the impression from an hour's reading of the American press that there isn't a respectable, honest, decent, well-meaning person in private or public life, in the whole land. And the war has undoubtedly impregnated every one with its hateful, hideous spirit.
June 2, 1916.---Many calls this morning, one from an impertinent lawyer, who thinks I should compel, by what miracle he didn't say, the Germans to observe the ordinary rules of honor and justice. Another from Edmond Solvay, who wishes me to get him a pass to go to France and another from Heineman, back from Austria, and he remained two hours telling me of his journey. This afternoon went with Wicheler to see Lambert's collection of paintings, too many, too much of everything in his crowded house, which is a veritable museum, so that I came away tired. Then Nell and I drove, and when we returned at seven, Villalobar was waiting for me. He was very blue. Thinks we can keep the revictualing going no longer, because the Germans constantly break their word, and continue, despite their recent assurances, to take anything they wish in the country. The Comité National, of course, gives a patriotic exaggeration to every dereliction it reports, but it makes our task very hard. Viflalobar had talked to von der Lancken, but von der Lancken and even the Governor-General, we are coming to believe, are powerless before the military and von Sandt. Villalobar very angry too because he has to give the dinner to von Bissing tomorrow night. It is an awful bore!
The Germans announce a big naval victory over the English in the North Sea. It may be that they exaggerate.(24)
Tormented all day about Hoover's difficulty in getting in with Hemphill, the latter having been refused a pass, they say at the C.R.B. Not the least of my nervous irritation comes from these incessantly arriving Americans who demand so much.
My judgment of this war tonight is that it will last ten years longer, and finally be won by the Germans, who will make the planet uninhabitable for civilized white folk.
June 3, 1916.---This evening---ah this evening!---the commanded dinner at Villalobar's. He had faced his ill fortune without flinching and put his best foot forward; all his men in their royal scarlet liveries, with powdered heads, and for the first time since the war I wore tails and a white waistcoat, the first time since the war began, in Belgium, that is, for by common consent we have gone in dinner jackets. About sixteen there, all the Germans in their grey field uniforms, but with their decorations, ugly white crosses; they show no taste in decorations. Von Bissing there with a row of them across his chest, and his wife, a slight, dowdy little woman, very thin, but intelligent---speaks English perfectly; is, indeed, I believe, half English. Only two other women besides Nell and Mme. Bissing, namely Mme. Mitilineu (Gaby at The Hague), and a Spanish marquise, white hair, large dark eyes, somewhat too animated and sparkling, with a very loud voice. Von der Lancken there, and von Bissing's good-looking young adjutant, and Harrach, and von Marx, and a German Prince, somebody or perhaps nobody, and Caro and a military attaché and Villalobar! Mad as a hornet at having to give the dinner, but game, and carrying it off like a gentleman. Dinner good, and not as stiff as was expected.
Sunday, June 4, 1916.---Hoover arrived last night with Kellogg and Shoecroft, 3rd secretary at London, who comes ostensibly on a visit, but as Hoover tells me, to be inspected by me with a view to his being secretary here. I liked him, but haven't decided. I don't wish any more personalities like Gibson or in general any of those young or old young sparks who belong to the Secretaries' Union and look on all Ministers as "untrained diplomats," that is, scabs. Spent an hour with Hoover, he depressed over the great defeat. He was three days in getting to Holland, because of the battle. Reports the English as doggedly determined, desperate even. Thinks the liberal Government may fall as a result of the defeat in the North Sea, and in a way I'd be glad, for that would mean that the Ministry would finish the war, fall, and be succeeded by the Liberals who would then be in charge of reconstruction. But the existence of a Union Government would probably ruin our relief work, for those men having no human policy---tories never have human sympathies---would out-Prussian the Prussians without their efficiency. Hoover says the English Government has notified Washington that no intervention would be acceptable now, and the Foreign Office says the war will last another year at least. Of course, they should come to terms, for they will never crush Germany---though they may succeed in destroying English Liberalism. But there is no one apparently who can speak with sufficient authority to make the warring parties listen to reason. I wish the President might do so!
June 5, 1916.---Dined tonight at Villalobar's; his dinner to wipe out the stain of Saturday night. The Cardinal (who gave me his photograph today) there, the Nuncio, and Lemonnier and others, all in decorations, Villalobar wearing the Order of Léopold. Table beautiful in yellow and white-colors of the Holy See. After dinner standing in one of the salons with Francqui, he said, pointing to the sedan chair of one of Villalobar's great-grandmothers: "Can you imagine one of your ancestors in a vehicle like that?"
"Oh, I don't know," I replied. "I can," he replied, "very easily ---mine went right here!" And with a droll gesture he pointed to the space between the handles.
June 8, 1916.---Miserable, with a bad cold; awful weather; the gloom of Kitchener's death, general depression and demoralization. Oh, to be in Weque, where the days were blue and gold!
Everybody now of the opinion that the war will go on forever.
Clayton, of the Bell Telephone Company at Antwerp, in to talk about his troubles with the Germans. They seized all his machinery more than a year ago, paid him for part of it, and have since postponed paying the rest by a thousand tricky excuses. He gave me an amusing account of a hearing on his case the other day, and of the German major who sputtered angrily for half an hour about American sales of ammunition to the Allies, as a reason why the Germans should not pay for the machines. "I'm glad you admit that you owe the money," said Clayton, quietly, whereat more German anger, logic, and sputtering. Clayton says their activities at Antwerp pass all belief. They sequestrate companies, and force the clerks of the companies to furnish them with all their trade secrets!
After luncheon drove for awhile, in an ulster. What a hell of a climate!
Business meeting this afternoon here---Villalobar, Francqui, Lambert, Janssen, Van Vollenhoven, Kellogg, and Poland. Discussed at length German methods of evading their agreements. Von der Lancken and his Department well disposed and straight, but von Sandt as usual, and worse, Kaufmann. These worthies are organizing "controls" for everything, and thus evade the agreements. Villalobar and Francqui made more damaging statements about Kaufmann, say they have no doubt that he is grafting, and leads a scandalous life. Lives with a woman in a seized house out avenue Louise. Resolved to demand representatives on the control.
June 9, 1916.---The Germans, finding they had overlooked something in Belgium, have ordered a census of all waters containing fish.
I forgot to enter a note to the effect that I saw von Moltke the day before yesterday about Fredericq and Pirenne; had had a telegram of inquiry from Washington. Von Moltke said they would be given every consideration, and perhaps given their liberty to study in some German university. If my little démarche can lighten their lot I shall be gratified.
The Germans having entered the Golf Club again, this time with troops to exercise, I saw von Moltke this afternoon, and explained to him the difficulty and expense of creating and maintaining a golf course; told him how easily the work of years can be destroyed in a moment, related to him what the suffragettes had done in England, and explained to him that if the Germans destroyed the links true golfers all over the world would say they were barbarians, etc. He promised to have it stopped.
June 11, 1916.---Hoover and Hemphill arrived this afternoon from Berlin. They report the Germans terribly cocky and set up over their naval "victory"; no signs of peace now, but the war to go on and on.
June 12, 1916.---Hoover and Hemphill dined here tonight. Hoover again bitter against Francqui and Janssen and I flattered myself, poor fool that I am, that I had settled that quarrel! But, in organizing the committee for the care of the babies---the idea being to inaugurate a campaign in America for the saving of the babies in Belgium---Janssen, drawing up the project, stipulated that the American representatives on the committee should have no initiative, and as America is to provide the money, Hoover is naturally furious. The differences between him and Francqui seem irreconcilable, because both are strong men, and each would rule.
Hemphill a typical American business man, a bit crass, but good as to heart. He wishes to buy pictures, and I told him of Stobbaerts. Hoover wishes a picture allegorical of Belgian suffering; promised to take him to see Baes(25) tomorrow at eleven.
Well, it is Hughes, nominated by acclamation with old Fairbanks for Vice-President; and Theodore Roosevelt nominated by the Progressives, but the Colonel, seeing his chances gone, proposes graciously to have his friend Lodge nominated in his stead.
June 13, 1916.---Hoover never came until 12:15, and we drove hurriedly to Baes(25), avenue Molière, burst in upon him, hurriedly bought the picture I had recommended to Hoover, a peasant dumbly, tragically, weeping before the ruins of his house, bought it for the low price of 1,200 francs, and came back.
Hoover and Francqui had been fighting out their differences all morning, and Hoover said he was making progress. I had worried over the situation in the watches of the night.
Villalobar goes to Holland tomorrow for three days, then returns, and the first of the week goes to Spain via Switzerland, to be gone a month. He had just come from Lancken, who was furious, Van Vollenhoven foolishly having shown him one of Francqui's notes, which Villalobar and I had not as yet fixed up and softened down. No end of trouble!
June 14, 1916.---Luncheon at the Erraras', then home, to open an uninteresting pouch. Hoover came, leaving this afternoon for Holland, rather suddenly, but had fought out his fight with Francqui and the entente is restored. Excellent man Hoover! With tears in his eyes told of how the peasants near Lille gave their cows for the baby-relief work because "les Américains" demanded them, then departed, his picture by Baes under his arm. Hemphill came with him, and wished to visit painters. Wicheler came and we then went first to Stobbaerts; the son-in-law brought out the masterpieces; Hemphill didn't like them; then to see Courteus, but the Maître not there; then to see Fredericq, he not there, but we went in and looked at the pictures; then home, and Hemphill stayed to tea. I am tired to death! And I have to dine tonight with Poland.
June 16, 1916.---The sun out today, for a wonder, the first time in the month of June, and we all feel better, though the life is terribly wearing; no energy, and always the terrible atmosphere of the occupation, the veritable stench of it; and the moral effect of the studied German effort to deny all liberty; and to reduce the people to that docile imbecility in which resistance is no longer possible, and liberty goes forever. That is the worst of it, worse even than the atrocities, or the sacking and burning of cities and villages. They can be endured, and even death and suffering, but this slow poisoning of the spirit, this violation and debauchery of the mind that the Germans systematically practice, this is the great reproach that history must forever make to this foul nation, that would turn civilization back three centuries.
Luncheon today with Blancas; Francqui there, and many others. Francqui was called by von der Lancken yesterday afternoon; a terrible scene, as Francqui called it. Von der Lancken furious because of the letter Francqui had written to us, a copy of which Van Vollenhoven had either stupidly or maliciously given to von der Lancken, and abused Francqui, with German thoroughness and German brutality and ill-nature, for an hour. Francqui's reply was entirely worthy and dignified. "Monsieur," he said, "you are not generous; I am your prisoner here; I must endure a great deal I would not in another situation."
It all makes me sick! The Germans make me sick! They are so utterly and absolutely impossible to deal with on any terms current among gentlemen of honor as we understand those terms in our Western world. I don't know how we can endure it much longer.
However, the sun was shining brightly today, and. the C.R.B. boys were to play a game of baseball at the Club Léopold, so Nell and I went. A charming scene, those splendid American young men in white flannels on the wide smooth lawns, playing that glorious game, and playing it well too, for there were players from the American universities. And Dr. Angell played, like a boy of eighteen! And as a result, I grew terribly homesick. Ah me! To be out of this!
Home for tea. Read that Wilson and Marshall had been renominated by acclamation at St. Louis; then drove for an hour with Nell.
June 20, 1916.---Went to lunch with Villalobar. He was entertaining Lancken, von Moltke, and a Baron Langwirth, as well as another German who had a close-shaven bullet head with nothing in it, a beautiful soul but I forget his name. Dull time; appreciated by Villalobar who, as he stood in his salon after the guests had departed, made a motion with his hands as if shoving them out of the house. The Germans are all immensely impressed by Villalobar's splendor, and move about examining all his objects of art, lifting up plates to examine the marks, and so on. Villalobar does make a big splash in this war world!
June 22, 1916.---To Mahmoud Khan's for lunch .... Home then for our bi-weekly meeting; Villalobar, Francqui, Janssen, Van Vollenhoven, Caro, Kellogg,(26) de Wouters, and Lambert there---poor Lambert half-crazed by a telegram from his daughter, Mme. Goldschmidt, at Munich, saying that the Baroness is very ill in Paris, and that she was going there---but how? ... Nothing much to discuss at our meeting this afternoon save a letter I had had from Page enclosing a letter from Sir Edward Grey saying that the English would not permit further importations of clothing into Belgium because of German requisitions. However, we have enough stuff at Rotterdam to last a year, and that will suffice. Told Kellogg to get it in at once. Then tea---Villalobar, Kellogg, de Wouters, and Caro stopping for it---and good-bye with Villalobar.