The first three months of 1917 were the most agonizing period of all Whitlock's service in Belgium. The "war of peace notes" which the German Government, in victorious mood, had begun by its proposal of negotiations on December 12, 1916, continued into the new year. It ended in nothing save President Wilson's noble statement of just terms of peace on January 22nd. Meanwhile, the deportation of the Belgian unemployed continued. So also did the struggle in Germany between opponents and champions of unrestricted submarine warfare. Before the end of January von Tirpitz had won, and Germany proclaimed the new zone of ruthless submarine sinkings. President Wilson, appearing before Congress on February 3rd to announce the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany, declared that if American ships and lives were sacrificed in violation of international law and the dictates of humanity, then he would again come to Congress for authority to protect Americans in their "legitimate errands on the high seas." From that moment Whitlock's position in German-occupied territory became almost intolerably anxious. He knew that war was at hand; he did not know what would become of the revictualing; he was far from certain that he and the C.R.B. officers would be permitted to leave. From the outset he believed that the proper course would be to transfer the C.R.B. administration in Belgium to men supplied by Holland and Spain. That view was for a time opposed by others. Contradictory and confused orders from Washington caused Whitlock grave anxiety. Jealousy appeared between the Dutch and Spanish; Mr. Hoover's distrust of Villalobar and Francqui was a complicating factor; the Germans blew hot and cold. But in the end a working arrangement was perfected upon the basis that Whitlock had favored, while he obtained guarantees for the egress of all C.R.B. workers. He left Belgium with a sad heart, but the revictualing continued without interruption.
December 29, 1916.---Meeting at my Legation---Janssen, Lambert, Gregory, Van Vollenhoven, Rolland---for Janssen must discuss the German circular put out by mistake at St. Nicholas and two other communes near Liége the other day. I explained that it was all a mistake, that the Germans had blundered, that its existence was but a proof of German thoroughness, and that we should be happy to know what they would do in case the revictualing ceases. In short, the meeting and discussion were wholly useless, like most meetings and discussions.
Sunday, December 31, 1916.---There is a new placard today---all the copper is to be seized, and there is consternation among Belgian housewives who have great batteries of copper pans and kettles in their kitchens, their pride, many of them heirlooms handed down from grandmothers ....
All day the cannons have thundered---the old year dies to their infernal chorus.
January 1, 1917.---New Year's Day-and a thick rain. To the Legation, where Solvay, Lambert, Jadot, and de Wouters of the Comité National called to pay their respects; then came Lemonnier and the aldermen, Lemonnier making a little speech in which he spoke of the reelection of President Wilson as one of the happy events of the old year. Then I went over to the Political Department. Herter(1) had, by a fortunate mistake, asked if von Bissing would receive me, saying that I wished to pay my respects. I had not intended to do so, but it turned out happily enough, for von Bissing, though too ill to receive, was deeply touched by my expressing such a wish. Had a long, pleasant chat with von der Lancken. He spoke about the unemployed, and I told him of the unfavorable opinion in America and pointed out that it was injuring the chance of peace. He said he knew it, and said that they were going to give up the policy, though slowly, lest their adversaries say that they abandoned it because of external criticism and pressure. He said that the men at Malines were to be taken the 4th and said that Herter might go with him to see it, if he wished. We talked of peace; he thinks that now the talk has begun, it will continue until something is accomplished. Is furious at Van Vollenhoven .. . . He told me that they had proof positive that Van Vollenhoven carried letters; one given to him here (presumably by a German spy) had been delivered to the address in Holland.
Telegram from Washington asking for a report on the deportations, saying that the interest in America is "inconceivable." I prepared a long reply for Herter to code. It is difficult to write with restraint of the awful deeds that daily occur in Belgium. I hear every hour sickening stories, and have detailed reports from many villages of the brutality, above all of the suffering of those who refuse to work in Germany, the starving, the threats, the shootings even. It is too sickening to allow oneself to realize it. Some happier day I shall have to digest, and make a report on the whole thing---an inferno of horror, inconceivable in our day.
January 2, 1917.---To the Legation---getting off dispatches about the deportations---a difficult one to write, for when one tells the simple truth about it, as I understand it, as I hear it on all sides, one has the feeling that one is dealing in impossible, sensational imaginings, so unbelievable is it.
January 3, 1917.---Today the Germans publish another decision concerning the rebuilding of the destroyed or ruined towns. It is curious as showing again their mentality, their haste to remove the traces of their work, or to make others do so. At the same time I have an interesting protest from the Burgomaster of Dinant relating to this subject.
Many visitors, Janssen among them, he much concerned about the silly, preposterous letter E. Solvay has written. Now possessed of the odd notion that America should be grateful to Belgium; is certain the Germans will stop the revictualing; wants a commission sent here; wishes to be officially told that America will declare war, and so on. Oh, that with Paul I had the patience any more, as once I seem to have had, to suffer fools gladly.
A woman came in, young, pretty, in tears, in deep mourning, wearing a long crêpe veil that she continually raised and lowered, wishing to send a message to her father, who, she said, is an officer in the Guides, telling him of his father's death. She wept, was hysterical and importunate, had known the Ruddocks in Berlin. I wonder if she was a spy? I didn't accept her message, though she insisted on writing it out.
The Allies' reply to the peace overture of Germany is published today;(2) about as weak a document as could be imagined. Neither the German proposal nor the Allies' response rises to any level of statesmanship. The chancelleries of Europe, so far as character is concerned, are bankrupt, and the conceptions of the men in them are no higher than those of the fish-wives down at the Fish Market; they plot and wrangle all the time. The only hope lies in the fact that never, by any accident, do they say what they mean. Side by side with the Allies' response is the note of the Allies to Greece, a note as brutal as the Austrians' ultimatum to Serbia in July of 1914.
Sunday, January 7, 1917.---After luncheon Nell and I went for a walk toward Droghenbusch with the dogs, returned for tea; and just then Kellogg arrived, to our joy. He stayed an hour, full of news and gossip. He had been to France, Paris and Havre---was all enthusiastic over the state of things at Paris, and all admiration for the wonderful French. Paris, calm, sober, in a highly incandescent spiritual state; however, very determined and serious, no gaiety at Paris, simplicity, dignity everywhere, in striking contrast to London, where the world is for stepping and laughing. Lloyd George now a full-fledged Tory; he, too, with me, regarded that manoeuvre as a bit of the dirtiest politics that had ever been played.
He confirmed the good news Levit brought. Says that Francqui and Hoover have settled their differences, and that all will now go on smoothly, he thinks. Francqui, whose pass read only for France, had made a secret trip to London to see Hoover---was there four hours, Savoy Hotel, incognito, mysterious. Hoover had had the satisfaction of having his own way, and had gone, or goes today to America to arrange a loan.
Best of all, he thinks we shall have peace before another winter! It seems impossible that such joy should ever be in the world again...
Lane has offered Hoover a position as First Assistant-Secretary of the Interior.
January 10, 1917.---The pouch today brought letters from Hoover, one of which reported the settlement of the trouble with Francqui, the other asking my advice about accepting the position of First Assistant-Secretary of the Interior which Lane had offered him. He seems to me to be of Cabinet rank himself.
There was a telegram, mutilated in transmission, from the Department, saying that Hulse had reported to the Department the non-arrival of papers which he said I had agreed to forward for him; the Department sounds displeased, and concerned that I had ---if I had---sent them in the pouch against the Department's regulations. The incident depresses me exceedingly tonight. I remember that Hulse, always a person of constant importunity, had asked me to forward some papers for him, and that I had probably let him think I would do so, because of his relation to the C.R.B. of which he was once secretary. I never saw his precious package, but Gustave says that he brought it in, and that he sent it out in a pouch. Possibly it was stopped by the superior intelligence at London. I wired both to The Hague and to London to inquire. Of course, there was a blunder, and it is all mine own. What a breeding spot for trouble the pouch has been.
The Nuncio has gone to The Hague, some say never more to return.
Francqui is back. Left his card on me today. Villalobar comes tonight; trouble will thereupon be resumed.
January 12, 1917.---Villalobar came to see me this morning, very chipper, and brisk as bottled beer. He brought me a new wristwatch, with illuminated hands so that one can tell the time at night, and a cigarette case for Nell. I had my box, with his arms all engraved thereon, to give him, and he was delighted. Villalobar told me all about his trip---not all, perhaps, either, but much, how he went to Berlin, dined with the Chancellor, and so on, a big "good man," he said, whom you would love. The Chancellor said that Germany couldn't win the war, but couldn't lose it, either; hence they were genuinely ready for peace, and willing now to make concessions. He, Villalobar, spoke of his Government's response to the President's note, said it was made on the strength of word from France that peace would not be discussed at this time, although later on he said that everybody at Paris wants peace, that poor France is finished, that everybody there is dead. He drew a dreary picture of Paris, which he says is worse than Brussels. He said that the Allies had wished the Belgian Government not to respond to the President's note,(3) and that the King had been furious, said he could never forget America and all America had done for his people and his country. There was a dramatic scene, Villalobar says, when the King, at La Panne, told---who was it now?---I forget, alas!---his decision.
Villalobar is disgusted with the English, and especially with Lloyd George, whom he called a rascal, as I have many a time in these last weeks. The English lack the officers and the tacticians, though they have plenty of money and plenty of stubbornness, but little else. They will talk of "the final victory" as one on a train speaks of the end of a journey; and yet Villalobar thinks there will be no final victory for the Allies, but only worse ruin and defeat if they persist.
Villalobar, while at Madrid, was informed that the Holy Father had given him the Grand Cordon of St. Gregory the Great. It was sent him and was delivered by the Nuncio (which Villalobar said must have been very distasteful to the Nuncio), and Villalobar had declined. But the Nuncio at Madrid had expressed regret for the actions of the Nuncio at Brussels, and Villalobar had finally accepted, to please the Holy See, but, as he stipulated, in recognition of his services to the church in Portugal, and because the order carries with it the right to have mass celebrated in one's own house!
January 13, 1917.---This morning La Belgique publishes the response of the Allies to the President's note---a note from the Germans, and a note from the Belgian Government. The Allies' response is distinctly disappointing, not because it wholly precludes the possibility of peace (that depends on the construction one puts on it), but because it is conceived and executed on no high plane of statesmanship, displays no lofty conception of principle or responsibility in a great human crisis. In other words, it shows that there is not in, the service of the Allies in any responsible position a first-rate intelligence, and, when one reads the German note, one comes to the conclusion that there is not an intelligence of first-rate order in a chancellery in Europe. Both notes are full of stupid bluff and bluster, of sickening hypocrisy, and much balderdash.
Sunday, January 14, 1917.---Villalobar here to call this afternoon, very amusing with his accounts of his voyage. He disgusted with response of the Allies, like every one here of any intelligence. He says Van Vollenhoven came to him and apologized the other day, willing to make up their quarrel.
Kellogg has spent the whole day with us---long, quiet, congenial talks.
I can't get over the Allies' note. Jack Johnson(4) must have written it---and he has put the Allies in the German trap.
January 17, 1917.---Francqui here to tea, very cheerful with a long account of his voyage---Frankfort-am-Main, Berne, Paris, Havre, La Panne, London, and return. He says he suggested the separate note that the Belgian Government sent to the President, and that the King wrote most of it with his own hand. He told of his understanding with Hoover, which seems to be genuine, or at least workable, his account being in all respects like that given by Hoover in his letter. He has a theory, not different from that published by the New Republic and later amplified by the President, that America should assume the neutrality of Belgium, and thereby complete the work she has done in coming to the aid of Belgium. He had told it to the King at La Panne, who endorsed it and asked him to tell it to me and ask me to send it to the President. I---well, we shall see. It should be thought over a little.
The slave-drive will begin at Brussels the 20th. Men---ah, poor, sad men!---have been coming all day to the Legation showing cards of convocation. They are all unemployed, and in some way the Germans must have secured or made lists; there are no placards, no public demands; individuals are notified by these cards, left by soldiers at their homes, to appear at la Gare du Midi on the morning of the 20th, with blankets, shoes and extra heavy clothing ---a sinister precaution! There is a penalty for failing to comply; and an offer of work. It is most depressing! Ay di mi!
January 19, 1917.---Very cold, and snow, such winter weather as I have not known in Belgium .... The air is somehow filled with a sense of horror, brooding, foreboding, and alarm. They begin taking the men at Brussels tomorrow morning; even women have received the fatal yellow cards. And this morning there is a sickening placard on the walls, explaining that the purposes of the Germans are wholly benevolent---a piece of nauseating hypocrisy.
January 20, 1917.---A sad day in Brussels. This morning they took the men. Early, in the cold just after daylight, they came to the Gare du Midi, in groups of twenties, fifties, hundreds, those who had been notified. There was an immense mass of them; some warmly clad, with their bundles ready; others, poor fellows, without even overcoats, shivering in the cold. There were wives and children, come to say what may perhaps be the last good-bye. But the streets were all barred; there was a squadron of Uhlans, riding down the crowd now and then, brutal as Cossacks. No one, other than those who had been summoned, was allowed in or near the station. The men were taken into the station. After a while some came out. Those who had been released came out dancing with joy!
Some weeks ago an old priest from Mons, Père Yoerman, old and sick, implored me to get him a pass to go to America. I did so, touched by his plight. The other day, at the frontier, the formality of searching revealed that he was upholstered, veritably, with letters! And I--I must take the blame!
But saddest of all is the fact that the Belgians now detest the Americans as much as anybody, because the United States does not go to war over the deportations! The most despicable feature of it is not the ingratitude of those whom we have fed for these years past, but that the critics are those who, being so strong in their duty to support the Allied cause, should have got across the frontier long ago and joined the army This never seems to occur to them.
Sunday, January 21, 1917.---Bitter cold, and poor little Miss King sick. Kellogg here, for luncheon, back from northern France. This trip was successful, but he reports the Germans furious, bent on pulling down the pillars of the world in their wrath. There can be little doubt that they will resume their submarine warfare, and then---the long expected break. Balfour's(5) note shows that there is absolutely no point of incidence now for peace terms. The war will go on, seemingly forever; there is not a ray of hope. Both English and Germans seem to prepare for a big spring offensive; it may come before. They began at Verdun in February.
They say that of 1,500 men notified yesterday, 750 appeared; of these, about three hundred were deported. The sorrow in Brussels this bitter day---one of the coldest Belgium ever knew!
I have from Francqui a memo, setting forth his idea of America's duty, a subject upon which Belgians are always particularly strong. I should like to write an essay on the distaste of Europeans for Americans in general. Their resentment is just now especially strong because we are not weltering in war, and they have a grudge against us too because we are all supposed to be making enormous fortunes. They speak of dollars with as much contempt as can be expressed by mouths that water at the mere utterance of the word dollar, and don't hesitate to buy them all the time.
January 22, 1917.---Working all day at the Legation. It has been clear and cold---cold but bitter, as Artemus Ward used to say, but a brightness gives it cheer. The Germans still deport the poor workmen---that awful crime is repeated daily, hourly, in this distressed land.
January 25, 1917.---Last night at Ruddocks'---Villalobar was there and the de Beughems and de Sinçay. Villalobar was telling me of a long talk he had had with von der Lancken, with whom, by the way, he grows increasingly familiar. Von der Lancken has been to Berlin, and, to his disappointment, found the terrorists apparently gaining in strength. Von der Lancken said that at Berlin, in discussing the eviction of the diplomatic corps from Bucharest, they had said: "We don't want another such condition as in Belgium." There can be no question that merely by remaining here we have prevented many horrors and much frightfulness. Our mere presence has imposed on them the unwelcome restraints of civilized opinion. Villalobar delighted over von der Lancken's admission ....
The President's message to the Senate(6) is published in a mutilated French translation by La Belgique today, but there is enough to realize that it is an historic state document setting forth the new Americanism. And he speaks for the voiceless peoples everywhere; he forces Ministers to cease whispering their dark plots in the shadows, and to come out in public---and that, in truth, is a great advance for democracy.
January 26, 1917.---Villalobar very despondent; says the Germans are feeling that the war touches its end, and that they cannot win; and, enraged by the response of the Allies declaring that they will make the peace by war, are now going to move to every kind of frightfulness.
But I think with ever more pride of the President's document. It has lighted a hope, I believe, for humanity. I have a letter from little Jacqueline Hamels, expressing her childish joy in it; and tonight, as Josse Allard entered de Sinçay's salon, where we were dining, he cried: "Magnificent! But it is magnificent!"
January 30, 1917.---Stood at two o'clock this morning on the enclosed veranda, in the darkness of the snowy night; and the cannon booming regularly. "Like heart throbs," said Nell. Heart throbs of a sad world! They have been throbbing all day, as regularly as the beating of a heart.
From all reports they will throb on. The Germans are evidently not going to wait for the pleasure of the English, or until they are ready for their customary spring campaign. They are said to be massing troops on this front, and are going to begin operations early in February, as they did at Verdun last year.
January 31, 1917.---Tonight Ruddock sends me word that von der Lancken wishes to see me at ten o'clock tomorrow morning, on very urgent business. What can it be? I have grown so nervous that apprehension is my companion, living in the midst of alarms. What can it be that is so very urgent?
February 1, 1917.---Drove down with Nell this morning, and she left me at the Political Department before ten. I couldn't get little Conrad to tell me what von der Lancken wished to see me about. He pretended not to know, but I know he was dutifully keeping a secret. He was very grave. Waited there in that yellow salon, the scene of so many anxious hours these last two years. I stared in the window looking out into the Park, watching the white sea gulls, driven in from the North Sea by the rigors of the winter, to seek their port, concerned about their revictualing too, poor pretty things, wheeling with consummate grace on wings of silver and of pearl, there in the cold winter sunlight, over the snow. Villalobar came.
"It's the submarine war," he said. Von Moltke had told him. Urgent indeed! Van Vollenhoven joined us, in Dutch calm.
And presently von der Lancken entered, in his grey uniform, with well-worn puttees. He was pale, with those black circles under his eyes that always appear there when he is troubled or concerned. He apologized for this delay, waving us to our familiar seats at the centre table. Bucher comes in, with his blue coat, and heavy boots, as big as Bismarck's, then Reith; Rohn, in a long morning coat, and a brilliant cravat. Seated, von der Lancken begins formally:
"Gentlemen, I have an important communication to make to you, one concerning the submarine war. I address you in your capacity as protecting Ministers. The question concerns the revictualing."
He asked Reith to read, and opening a paper, Reith read us the note addressed by Zimmerman to Gerard, declaring Germany's intention to blockade the coasts of England, France, and Italy.(7) Afterwards he read us a statement declaring that the German Government did not wish the C.R.B. to cease to function, and asking us to consider what could be done to insure its continuance. Much discussion. Francqui and Gregory had been summoned, and at eleven o'clock were admitted. I suggested that we telegraph to the heads of our respective states to ask them to arrange with England to permit the C.R.B. boats to land at Rotterdam, without waiting to stop at an English port to be examined there, or at New York. Van Vollenhoven was going to Holland for the weekend; Gregory had intended to go out tomorrow to Rotterdam; he decided to go today, and Francqui decided he must go to telegraph to King Albert, to the Belgian Government, and to see the French minister at The Hague to ask them all to influence England to permit the work of the C.R.B. to go on. Von der Lancken promised the passports, and so on. We drew up a form of telegram to be sent to Washington and Madrid. Then we separated---I rushing off, Villalobar remaining as he always does, for his secret talk afterwards. I made a tracing of von der Lancken's map of the submarine zone.
All afternoon at work on the telegram to the President. And now,---what? Only to wait and see and hope, without much ground for hope.
What madness, what stupidity, this war! I am too tired, too worried to think, or to write.
Young Swift(8) has arrived. He is, as I had supposed, the son of my old friend Eben Swift, now brigadier-general in our Army. We had the boy out to luncheon. He is a nice, upstanding chap. Herter returns to Berlin Monday.
Heineman in to see me. He goes within a week to Rome. Italy!
"What will the President say?" said Bucher to me this morning. "That is the important thing!" Quite!
February 2, 1917.---Still waiting and watching---what next? What will Washington do? No chance as yet to form any opinion. La Gazette de Holland for yesterday in by the courier; it is the oldest and the dullest existing newspaper. Some signs in it that England will, as usual, be cocksure and regard the blockade as our rather than their affair. No word yet as to the revictualing, which, as it has so often done, hangs now by a slender thread. I am sorry that I sent my dispatch to the President in the clear. We agreed to do that in our meeting yesterday morning; Villalobar told Ruddock last night he had done so, or was doing so. Today he tells me that he sent it in cipher.
I was at his home this afternoon. He had no news, of course--- save that he says that the people now say that the deportations were contrived by the rich Belgians in combination with the Germans---since no rich are taken. The revolutionary sentiment seems to grow. "The rumor is going over town that there will be no more Kings." Dr. Fay, who was scraping at my old teeth this morning, said that the Government was to blame for having abandoned the Belgian population, for not having told them the truth, and so on.
Villalobar said that when he was in Paris he heard that when the German peace offer came King Albert was in favor of discussing it. Bertolli, a right-hand man of Briand, went to London, conferred with Lloyd George, and they drew up the bellicose reply practically in its final form. King Albert disapproved. There was a council of state; de Broqueville was of the opinion of His Majesty. Berryer, however, was full of fire and fight. The King said: "We ought to think as Belgians, and not as if Frenchmen." But, of course, he was powerless before his allies. Villalobar, I fancy, has told all this to von der Lancken.
Villalobar told me also that King Alfonso---Villalobar was in Madrid at this time---when the President's first note arrived, would have returned another reply; that he supposed that the little secret annex, not for publication, was for him alone; that when he found this same note had been sent to other powers, the same annex, rather, his pride was touched, and he said that he felt that he was entitled to be treated on a better footing than "the Scandinavian combination," as he contemptuously calls Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The King had recognized the right of the President, because of his position, to make peace, but had hoped that he might be consulted by the President; that he felt such an act would be very grateful to Spanish pride, as the oldest monarchy, and the first nation on the American continent, and that deliberate attention on the part of the President would bring about a finer feeling in Spain towards America and Americans. I won't write a dispatch to Washington.
What an appalling spectacle---all this fiendish, diabolic cruelty!
One is overwhelmed by the thought of it; such stupendous outlawry that the mind can not grasp it. And war has been pictured by the romanticists as a beautiful, gallant thing! Truly, as old Franz Joseph complained, "There is nothing beautiful about war any more!"
How the President can now avoid a break with Germany is beyond my imagination. It must come, certainly, within the next few days.
February 5, 1917.---What a day!(9) As on that fatal August morning at Bois Fleuri, gave order to pack up, and at ten, with Nell, drove to the Legation. No word there, save that von der Lancken had gone to Berlin. I took the flag from my motor, feeling that it was more chic to do so. Near the King's stables, on the boulevard in the cold fog, hundreds of people watching the seizure of horses ---a big round-up---conducted by grey Uhlans with their long lances and dirty guidons.
Went to see von Moltke---very polite. We talked, but to no purpose since neither of us knew anything officially. Von der Lancken will be back Thursday, and hopes to shake my hand then. Von Moltke translated the President's address for us into French from the German text. They were all rather depressed; evidently had had no notion that the President would act so promptly, and so decisively. Von Moltke sure that it would soon be war; said finally that an American ship had already been sunk.
Agreed that, in the meantime, I was to keep my flag on the Legation. Told him I wished to go out by Switzerland; he not sure; spoke of a possibility of our going with the Berlin embassy.
"My legation," I said, "is not an appendage of the embassy at Berlin."
Von Moltke couldn't understand why America so misunderstood Germany.
February 6, 1917.---Very cold and dismal here at the Legation, with packing boxes everywhere, and doors opening, and calls and cards.
Calls---Portellas, Cuban chargé, t'Kint, who wept when he thanked me for all that had been done for Belgium, Paul Hamoir, Van Vollenhoven (Holland calm and Van Vollenhoven furious with Villalobar), Thwaits; and then Harrach telephoned that there was a dispatch from Washington saying I might stay here if the Germans made no objection!
Though I can have no courier and no telegraph, von Moltke has kindly sent me my cipher telegrams. One was an instruction to C.R.B. men to remain at their posts; evidently Hoover is at Washington, for it is his style, and one can feel his tremendous will at work.
But the one telegram, the telegram of instructions for me, has not come. There is a telegram cipher, evidently referring to it, making a correction in certain groups. They were decoding it, Nell, Herter, Ruddock, and I standing by. They read, "You---will---turn---over---your---legation----and----archives---to---" Then Herter tossed up his pencil---it ended there! Curtain!
Lunched at de Beughem's.
Then more calls---Descheid, Dupont, Devreese, etc.; cards, cards, cards, notes, letters, and the Legation corridors crowded as they had not been since those exciting August days of 1914.
Harrach came to present the compliments of the Governor-General, who has just returned from Wiesbaden, still ill, and is now at Trois Fontaines. The Governor-General hopes that I can arrange to stay. I sent him compliments and thanks, and so on, saying I should do all I could to aid in keeping the revictualing in operation, but that I could say nothing definite until I received instructions---and that I could not stay with any diminution of privileges. Harrach said that it would be a calamity if the revictualing stopped, that in Germany they hadn't even enough to eat themselves.
February 7, 1917.---Afternoon---de Sinçay and Lemonnier, and Villalobar, with a courier from Langhorne with all my cipher messages.
Among them, the long missing telegram, No. 248, instructing me to turn over interests to Villalobar and to go to Havre.
But the correction is not a correction, but an insertion, inspired evidently by Hoover, instructing, or authorizing me, to remain here, unless the Germans object! (There are, too, detailed instructions for consuls, all of whom were given leave to go home, with all expenses paid---save, said the telegram at the end, Nasmith, who is to report to Rotterdam. Nasmith and his wife were standing by when this news was decoded!)
I am in a difficult position. I should like to remain, if by so doing the revictualing can continue. I am ready to make any sort of sacrifice for the Belgians, but in what quality am I to remain? As a distinguished hostage, or what?
February 8, 1917.---Last night I was wondering whether I should tell the Germans about my telegrams, since they all came like other forbidden things, in Villalobar's pouch; but later in the evening von Moltke sent me a note and all my telegrams, so that problem is settled!
Wicheler here all morning, getting notes for an article to be published in Le Soir after the war. Louis Franck of Antwerp came, on behalf of the provincial committee, to beg me to remain, saying that my presence was a comfort to the people, that they would be less hungry with me here than with me away. He was very earnest and eager, and said that in remote villages in Flanders humble folk were praying for me to remain.
Von der Lancken returned this evening. J. Allard here when Ruddock announced the fact, and that Villalobar had been to see him. Should he ask von der Lancken for an appointment? No hurry.
February 9, 1917.---All day indoors, nursing my cold---and the weather bitter, with the house cold---these Belgian houses are built for mild winters!---and packing-boxes everywhere, the abomination of desolation! Von der Lancken had sent word asking me to see him at six, German time. Went; he, in grey uniform, received me in upper room. Remained half an hour. He expressed desire for me to remain, also the Governor-General would be grateful to me if I could remain. In what capacity? Oh, evidently, not as Minister, as some sort of honorary chairman of the C.R.B.; they would consent to half a dozen members remaining, say, Gregory, Gray, and so on. Also, would Ruddock and Diederich, Consul-General at Antwerp, remain? Listening to him, watching that face, so false, so insidious, the peculiarly slithery, snaky impression this man always produces in me came over me; he said he would... take responsibility for my treatment on himself! And so, a long futile talk, and I went away sick at heart, telling von der Lancken to get it all in writing. He had said, among other things, that von Moltke was mistaken in saying that the flag should remain up. Von der Lancken said also that the freedom of the C.R.B. men would be restricted, and that they would not have the use of their motor cars longer. I told this to Gregory, who will send word out by Gray to Rotterdam to be wired Hoover ....
Came back to the Legation; thought it best not to add complications, and to take down the flag---and Nell wept as the order was given. But I wished to take it down, myself, before he asked me to.
February 10, 1917.---Francqui here, first time this week. He expressed no regret at my departure, but wishes me to stay, and some of the Americans to stay.
Gregory here before I was dressed, says that Brohn told him that the whole C.R.B. could remain, with same privileges. Von der Lancken had said motor-car privileges would be restricted.
Francqui had written a dispatch---he gave me a copy---which Villalobar had asked Gregory to send to Hoover, proposing that ships coal at Rotterdam, Belgian coal, and so on. (Gregory showed it to me.) Villalobar has also sent Hoover a dispatch offering all assistance.
Francqui terribly blue.
Villalobar here this evening after tea. Reith had shown him the summary of the letter that von der Lancken proposes to write Villalobar. It is very vague, much more vague than von der Lancken's own statements; expressing a desire that revictualing continue, that some of the members of the C.R.B. may consider it their duty to leave, but that, as it was a mixed commission, their places could be filled by others, and that they should be pleased to have Monsieur Brand Whitlock continue to assist, and so on. Villalobar made a grimace as he showed it to me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "It's very German!"
By mistake, Vincent went out this afternoon and distributed a lot of p.p.c. cards that had been prepared! Then Lemonnier came in a hurry, and Lambert, and others. I had to send Vincent out to withdraw them all.
Sunday, February 11, 1917.---Villalobar came this morning, with the note from von der Lancken, precisely like the summary of yesterday. I told him I should answer it tomorrow.
Van Vollenhoven called at tea-time. Gregory and Mr. and Mrs. Ruddock here. I had made up my mind as to my response to von der Lancken's note, which I shall write to Villalobar. They are trying to make a record, to put the onus on us if the revictualing ends. Gregory approved my idea. I hope to write the letter tomorrow. Ruddock and his wife have a youthful impatience with me because I do not get angry and do something striking, like going to the Governor-General, protesting, and so on. But, as I tell them, will that insure the feeding of the Belgians? Never mind my dignity, I said to them; that can take care of itself.
Not quite so cold today. We are all nearly packed, and all worn by the nervous strain of this dreadful week. I can not write the emotions I have felt. I am far too tired. And what will tomorrow bring?
Herter left this morning at eight.
In the odd moments of those terrible wearing days I have been doing what, for twenty years, I have done in moments of tension, reading Sherlock Holmes. I have read those stories over a score of times, and forgotten them; they are always new and fascinating.
February 12, 1917.---Lincoln's birthday.
Von der Lancken asked me to come to Political Department at five. Arrived there, with Villalobar, to find Van Vollenhoven, von der Lancken, Reith, Brohn---evidently a session on revictualing. Von der Lancken had Reith read, as usual; he read an outline of the German reply to the English, or Allied, demand as to the route to be taken by C.R.B. ships. The English have conceded the point of compelling the ships to touch, as heretofore, at English ports, but make other demands, that involve passing through the danger zone. These representations are made by Polo at Berlin, and Villalobar was instructed to reply to him. In general it is satisfactory to the C.R.B.
After that conference, von der Lancken explained the plan whereby the C.R.B. delegates will be gradually replaced by other nationalities, and said that the Swiss Government had offered to furnish delegates and that the German Government had accepted. At this Villalôbar flared up and said that the Swiss Government and the German Government had nothing to say, that the Ministers were the ones to decide. A great uproar for a moment.
Afterwards von der Lancken asked me to the dining-room, and said: "And now, your position?" He said that he must know my position at once, in order to telegraph his Government. I told him that I could not decide immediately, that I should have an answer for him by tomorrow. We talked at length---at six I got away for tea.
Van Vollenhoven is so anxious to get his hands on the British interests that he can't wait. He asked von der Lancken in my presence if he had any news as to British interests.
February 13, 1917.---Saw von der Lancken at 4:30. Told him that in case of war, I should leave at once. That I was willing to remain here until the transfer of delegates was effected, and to render any service I could in the relief work; he asked if I would go when the transfer was effected. I told him that would depend on the situation at that time, that I reserved the right to depart any day, with my household, Legation staff, servant, and so on, with all the honors and consideration due my rank. He agreed, and said, "I give you my assurance now, officially, as I told Villalobar yesterday (or the other day)." He then explained that it might require a few days to obtain the passports, and so on, and I said that that was understandable. I told him that I should like a special train, or at least a special car, and to go direct through Cologne to Basle. He said that because of the scarcity of men, and of the military requirements in the matter of railroad equipment, it would be difficult to promise a special train, but that first-class accommodations, sleepers, and so on, would be reserved, for us "and for your valet and Madame Whitlock's maid."
He reiterated it all, to make sure, and said, "You will leave when you wish, whether it is tomorrow, next week, or six months from now, just as if you had left on the same day that Gerard quit Berlin."
Then, taking the pencil with which he had been making notes on a large sheet of paper, he said:
"And now, what shall we say to the newspapers?"
I had forgotten that there were still newspapers in the world. I dictated this simple statement:
"The American Minister will stay provisionally in Brussels to render service during the process of changing the personnel of the C.R.B."
As to the details of transferring the representation of interests to Villalobar, I said I'd come later with Villalobar. Von der Lancken, with the insatiable German passion for work, suggested that we come at 7:30. I said I'd see, determined not to, and didn't.
Villalobar came in afterwards and I told him.
I am blue, and disappointed. I had allowed myself, I now find, to dream of France in spring, and of rest. Ah me! That dream recedes! I cannot leave the Belgians hungry if I can help it, and 1 cannot go away at once and leave the men of the C.R.B. behind.
February 14, 1917.---St. Valentine's Day, and Hoover remembered the Germans. I was not. dressed when Gregory arrived---never having cultivated the great American virtue of early rising---so that he came later at eleven o'clock. (Von der Lancken had sent for Villalobar and me at 11:30.) When Gregory arrived he read me a long telegram from Hoover; the courier had smuggled it in from Rotterdam. It said, in short, that in view of von der Lancken's statement that the privileges of the C.R.B. men would be abridged, the Americans would be withdrawn at once from Belgium. Then followed detailed instruction to close the books of the C.R.B. at midnight on February 15th. Gregory was quite pleased with the dispatch, since it gave him suddenly the opportunity to leave Belgium, and I could confess to something of the same feeling. However, he was not yet permitted to make use of the telegram, since it had been brought in by the courier unknown to the Germans; hence, we were to say nothing about it.
Villalobar came in while Gregory was still here, and Gregory told him, not of the telegram, but of the possibility of the Americans going out. Villalobar had much to say, in his Spanish way, about his devotion to the Americans, and his will to serve them, but could not treat Gregory otherwise than in the grand style from beginning to end.
Villalobar and I drove then to von der Lancken's, and on the way Villalobar asked me what was in the wind, but I did not tell him.
At the Political Department, von der Lancken, von Moltke, Villalobar, and I sat around the table in the yellow salon, and discussed the transfer of interests. Von der Lancken formally repeated all that he had said about my going, all the assurances, and so on, and we agreed that I was to have prepared and give to Villalobar a list of those who would go out with me when I go. We discussed the consuls, the German making notes of the four---Diederich, Johung, Heingartner, and Nasmith; von der Lancken especially anxious to be kind and courteous to old Diederich, because of his kindness to Germans in Antwerp in 1914; von der Jagow had gone to Antwerp to thank him for that. I said to him:
"But there is Heingartner, at Liége, he is just as Germanophile as Diederich."
"Ah?" said von der Lancken, rapidly making a note, "then we shall have to show special favor to him."
In Villalobar's pouch there came the telegram.
Then, at four, a telephone message to come to von der Lancken's in half an hour-five minutes later a telephone message to come at once. I went; then, von der Lancken, Gregory, Villalobar, Brohn, Reith. They had the telegram; it had come in, en clair, in German.
Reith had translated it into French, and read it, Gregory and I sitting there gravely listening. When Reith had finished, von der Lancken said he could not understand it. He did not like the reference to him; it was plain that they did not wish to be held responsible for the retirement of the Americans. Gregory said that he could explain, and did so, telling of his having sent word out by Gray, and that this was evidently Hoover's response. Von der Lancken announced then a complete change of position; in a word, he gave in; he said that the delegates could do as before. Then Gregory said that under those circumstances he would recommend to Hoover to continue. Thus it was arranged. Francqui came in just as we had finished.
Outside, Francqui leaned against the wall and laughed, and Villalobar said, "Hoover is the best diplomat of all of us!"
It is sure that his bluff---if it was a bluff, and it wasn't altogether ---wrought a great effect on the Germans. Von der Lancken explained to Gregory, blushing like a girl as he did so, and speaking English with difficulty: he said that, while it was very delicate, when he spoke to Gregory---and to us---he was under the impression that war was inevitable; now it seemed less likely. He did not say why.
The day's events, the strain of it all, leave me utterly exhausted.
Villalobar is full of some project about the deportations; has had interviews with the Cardinal. There is some question of a letter from the Cardinal to the Emperor, and Villalobar has said in salons that the deported are all coming back.
The excessively cold weather continues.
February 17, 1917.---I have a note from Gregory this evening in which he says that he has two other telegrams from London of the same tenor as the former telegram, to the effect that the C.R.B. leave Belgium. He thinks it obvious that these were sent before the receipt of the telegram giving the result of the conference of Wednesday, and suggests that we all go to Rotterdam next Thursday for a conference to clear up the complications. Pleasant prospect, that!
Ruddock has just been in (7:45) with a dispatch, brought in secretly by Gregory's cousin, a dispatch from Washington, referring to reports that Germans have withdrawn my diplomatic privileges and ordered me to lower my flag, and instructing me to leave Belgium at once, with the C.R.B., unless the Germans restore all privileges. Just why they think at Washington that they can break off diplomatic relations, and expect the Germans to continue to recognize our diplomats, is beyond me. Do you expect to be able to recall our Ambassador from Berlin, pack off the German Ambassador from Washington, and then have the Germans recognize a Minister in territory the Germans control? They let Hoover change their instructions---as in the famous telegram 248, in which there was no necessity for correction, but evidently a clumsily dovetailed second thought---Hoover's, of course. As Nell remarked at the time, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau."
February 20, 1917.---Villalobar in after tea to talk things over.
Showed me copy of a letter by the Cardinal to the Emperor as to the deported men; letter signed by all the personalities in Belgium. Von der Lancken brings word from Berlin that, on receipt of news of peace, the Emperor would order return of all the deported. Thus that great crime and blunder ends. Boyd in this morning telling me that the deported would not work in Germany, that they deliberately injured machinery, sang their patriotic songs in the workshops, and so on, demoralized other workmen, that the German people themselves disapproved of the measure. Thus, the application of a cold theory wrought once more in human history its own destruction, defeated its own purposes. Their misdeeds come down again on their own pate, as the psalmist said. And all that stubborn rage with which it was done! Like prohibitionists trying to "close" a town! Furthermore, those hundreds of thousands of Belgians in Germany, the land of the fettered press, must have had many a story to tell that the people there had never imagined before!
I forgot to say that I have got off a long cable [to the State Department] about conditions here.
The city full of soldiers; the schools closed, Lemonnier says, because of lack of coal. Gossip, that they are to be used as ambulances. The big offensive seems to be beginning; another butchery! The old rumor flies, too, that Brussels is to be in the Etappen.
And I am sick with care and worry because of my uncomfortable position. I can't remain here, because of diplomatic reasons. I can't go because of the relief. What to do?
February 21, 1917.---Gregory in. Has full assurances from Germany, but places little reliance on them. Will not send his men back to the north of France anyway. Nothing to be done until the route for the ships is agreed upon. Germany and England both trying to throw on the other the blame for the failure of the relief. It looks as if an impasse had been reached, and that the relief would fail.
February 22, 1917.---Gregory in, with no news; projects his trip to Holland. Kellogg to arrive there Friday night possibly. Villalobar in; had seen von der Lancken who is back from Berlin, with no good news of any sort. Germans refuse to yield on the matter of route; will study the question of ships yet remaining in England; say that C.R.B. provisions now in England can be shipped to Holland by regular Dutch steamers---which could not transport it all in years! All in all, the jig seems to be about up.
I am either to see von der Lancken tomorrow, or have Villalobar see him to communicate the contents of the Washington telegram. I think I shall tell him that I shall go at once.
What days, what black hours to live through. I wonder if I have acted wisely! One is so weak---and I am so tired---tired beyond any rest! And yet I must add a word. Von der Lancken had brought back the reply as to the deportees; they are to be brought back, but---always the sinister Teutonic but---they must work here! Villalobar told von der Lancken they could never do anything right--- never.
"They are very difficult, very!" he said, sadly shaking his head. "Von der Lancken's a good fellow---but one never knows that one can be sure of what he says. One thinks it over afterwards, and wonders, as one does not when a gentleman says anything."
February 23, 1917.---Gregory in this afternoon, to talk things over. I had sent Villalobar a copy this morning of the Department's dispatch of February 15, ordering the immediate withdrawal of the C.R.B. if all our privileges weren't restored, with a translation in French that I had made. Went to see Viflalobar at three. Surprised to see his flag down. Von der Lancken and a lot of German generals and Spanish ditto had been there to luncheon---a Spanish military committee visiting the front. Villalobar had shown von der Lancken the dispatch. Von der Lancken had gulped hard, but Villalobar thought he would worry it down before morning. Villalobar had told him that he had made a mistake about the flag. Von der Lancken said he had never asked me to take it down, that he had only thought that since so many troops were in town, it would be better, and so on. Had no objection to my putting it up.
I decided to go see von der Lancken tomorrow morning.
Went to see Gregory; he wasn't at the C.R.B. He goes to Holland probably tomorrow. Told him, when he was in this afternoon early, that I would not go---too many reporters out there, too much would be made of it. Dictated dispatch for him to send out by courier, saying that unless Germany gives me full diplomatic privilege I'd go at once. I'll tell von der Lancken that tomorrow.
February 24, 1917.---To Political Department at eleven o'clock. Had to wait for von der Lancken and von Moltke asked me to come to his room.
"You are leaving, then?" he said.
I knew then that von der Lancken was not going to yield, and I said instantly, "Yes."
Nearly two hours with von der Lancken in his warm little room upstairs. He was at his best, cordial, pleasant, smiling, and for once, I believe, sincere. Began by saying that we would talk first as friends, and then officially. Began by saying that Villalobar had given him the dispatch, and he wished first to correct certain misapprehensions. First, the privileges of the Americans in the C.R.B. had never been taken away, and hence it was unnecessary to speak of them as having been restored. I said we would speak then of his having given us new assurances, to which he agreed.
Von der Lancken said that the English were trying to inflame American sentiment against the Germans by exaggerating reports of what the Germans were doing to me and the C.R.B. He made a little mock speech as though an Englishman were speaking, in French, of course---denouncing the conduct of the Germans, and so forth.
As to the flag, I had told him that Villalobar had said that I had the right to keep it up, and on my motor. I corrected him and told him that I had said that von Moltke had told me that; that before leaving home that morning I had taken the flag off my motor in order not to attract attention in the streets and because it seemed more chic for me to do so. That talking with von Moltke, he had said that it was proper to keep it on the Legation, that I had done so until his, von der Lancken's, return, when he had said that it was correct to do so, and so on. We talked of many things---the conversation drifted from time to time, but coming back to the point, I said: "But, where are we now?" Then I put it boldly: "I have given you an order of my Government, to the effect that if my diplomatic privileges are not restored, I must demand my passports." Then he said that they greatly desired the revictualing to continue, that they wished the Americans to remain, that it was purely an American work, and that he had no faith in the ability of any others to carry it on; if it should become necessary, in case of war---a word he did not like to utter, and he was happy to say that he thought war was less likely now than it had been---he hoped the organization of the C.R.B. at New York, London, and Rotterdam would continue undisturbed, as it is now, and that if others had to come in, they should gradually replace American delegates. But above all, they wanted me to stay.
Coming at last, as I supposed, to the point, he said: "As for the flag,"---and I thought he was going to say put it up---"I prefer that you do not raise it any more."
As for the courier, the military chiefs would not consent to my having a regular courier, but I could send mail by Villalobar's.
"Thanks," I said, "it is a privilege of which I have already availed myself."
He blushed and laughed.
February 27, 1917.---There is no appreciation on the part of the C.R.B. for my having stayed to see them off. Gregory cold, unresponsive, corporate. He was in this morning, asked me not to send my letter to von der Lancken before tomorrow, because he thinks we may have some news. I agreed to wait. It is hard to retain the diplomatic dignity and at the same time satisfy the C.R.B. The Germans plainly nervous. They were foolish in not letting the C.R.B. ships out of England. I told von der Lancken the other day that if they wished to starve England, why did they allow so much food to remain in the island? He agreed that "that is the military mind!"
February 28, 1917.---Climbing the Montagne de la Cour at noon, I met Brohn, Reith, von Schlubach and the first time, von Gersky, a fine, big German---fine-looking at least---with a monocle, very English, after his twelve years as head of the Hamburg-American line in London. He was very pleasant, asked if we were to have war, and so on; about the revictualing, said that if it failed, the people in the north of France would be left to starve, since the Germans had only enough for themselves.
Late this afternoon, Vincent brought over the pouch from Villalobar. Four telegrams, chief among which one with long instructions, telling me to remain here until all Americans in Belgium, who will go, have gone. The larger part of the telegram was, of course, of Hoover's inspiration, showing his hatred of Villalobar and of Francqui, and proposing that the whole C.R.B. be turned over to the Dutch Government. Gregory here at the time---tea-time ---as the dispatches were being deciphered. He thinks we may adopt, at least in part, Hoover's suggestion, though it will be difficult to manage Villalobar. The telegrams are not wholly deciphered as yet, but they are wobbly---instructions impossible to carry out, and rather weak, save that they are so drawn that, no matter what I may do, I may be put in the wrong.
March 1, 1917.---Went to see Villalobar. Told him we must begin to get in some understudies for the C.R.B. delegates, that I wished to get them out; that the Germans promise now all consideration, but only because it is to their interest to do so, that when it ceases to be, no one knows what horrors they might commit. He said he could get written assurances. Do so then by all means, said I. I had to be most careful in broaching Hoover's scheme for turning over the whole thing to the Dutch Government; did not do so in so many words, but said we could and should, get in some Dutchmen. He agreed, proposed a doublure, and I agreed. Then he rummaged about among letters and showed me one from Loudon,(10) which referred to an exchange of telegrams between "our august sovereigns," by which the King of Spain and the Queen of Holland had agreed to continue the revictualing, in case America could not, and so on.
Loudon said he had already made his dispositions, selected the men to replace the American delegates, and so on, but he wished the Americans to continue at New York, London and Rotterdam. And so good-bye to Hoover's scheme! I was not altogether sorry; it simplifies the situation here at least. I suggested to Villalobar that it was too bad there was no Dutch minister here. He seized upon the idea, said he would suggest it to Loudon; would go to The Hague himself Sunday. Would see von der Lancken tomorrow, and tell him that I must be recognized as patron. So came home to tea.
Then Gregory came, delighted with my interview with Villalobar. Had news himself. The question of the shipping was being settled; and Kellogg, now at Rotterdam, will come in Saturday.
March 2, 1917.---Gregory read a telegram from Kellogg who is in Rotterdam, and comes in Saturday to arrange ships. There is enough food now in Belgium to last until May. There are 85,000 tons in England belonging to the C.R.B., if the Germans will give safe conduct for the ships. Villalobar said they would; that von der Lancken said to assemble them all in Falmouth harbour and they could all come out at once. "And be blown up neatly all at once, by your submarines," I remarked, "as were the six Dutch ships." The C.R.B. has 100,000 tons on the sea, and has just bought 100,000 tons more at New York, all of which would suffice, were it here, until September. Gregory encouraged, and the Germans all feeling better. Gregory announced that in the event of war all the Americans would leave. He suggested that a reserve force be created at once. Villalobar approved and spoke of Loudon's letter; Van Vollenhoven made offer on behalf of Dutch Government. Villalobar said he expected to have only half a dozen Spaniards, the others Dutch. Gregory approved, agreed to wait until Kellogg came. Meeting appointed chez moi for eleven o'clock Sunday.
After meeting, Villalobar said he had had conversation with von der Lancken, who promised to improve my position (all of which is rather galling), and said that there was no question that C.R.B. men could leave freely. Villalobar asked him to put it in writing, and he said he would ask permission from Berlin. Villalobar told him that if anything were done to the C.R.B. men, he would withdraw.
March 3, 1917.---7:45 P.M. Réné Janssens has been. Back from Holland .... He had sensational news, to the effect that a plot has been discovered in America, evidenced by documents implicating Zimmermann, by which the German Government was instigating revolution in Mexico and offering Mexico three states of the Union ---Texas and two others. Janssen didn't know which, though it is easy to imagine. That the country is aflame, all parties standing solidly by the President, even Bryan, ready for war!
Sunday, March 4, 1917.---Everybody laughing at the frightful blunder the Germans made in proposing to Mexico to become an ally; to give them, the Mexicans, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, and asking them to seduce Japan.(11) The annals of diplomacy, I suppose, contain no filthier offer; but it is not without its compensations, since it must reveal the Germans to Americans and to all the world---if there is any one stupid enough not to know them by this time---in their true light, that of a people without morals, or honour, or even common politeness, barbarians through and through, pariahs among the nations, to be treated as such!
German papers publish news of decree to make two governments in Belgium; one is Flemish with Ghent for capital, and the other Walloon with Namur for capital.
Kellogg arrived at five, here to dine, and all evening we had the pleasure of this charming friend in the little salon. Came across from Harwich to the Hook in a dispatch boat, convoyed by three destroyers. Talked of an infinite number of things, the German-Mexican-Japan business, and its effect on American sentiment. He thinks war inevitable; says that many are anxious for it, among them Page, whom he describes as sitting in a very cold room in the London Embassy, suffering always with a cold in his head. He brought me many telegrams from The Hague, paraphrased, telling me to get Americans out, to send Heingartner to Rotterdam, thence to America, and so on. Another, most silly of all, evidently inspired by Hoover, who must be losing his head, saying that the C.R.B. must not retire voluntarily from Belgium. I presume that I am to conduct a rear-guard action alone. New scheme of reorganization: C.R.B. to quit, to be succeeded by Inter-Allied Commission (how the Germans would like that!). I urged Kellogg to get the C.R.B. men out, but they see only the C.R.B. outside of Belgium.
The English will not agree to let the C.R.B. ships in England, with their 85,000 tons, come out; but on the contrary have begun to unload the cargoes, which is a clear breach of the guarantees. The Admiralty now in control over there. But then, English breaches of guarantees are not considered as wicked as German breaches. Every leper likes his own sores best, as I forget who said. The ships can come by the northern route, stopping at Halifax.
As to the submarine war, the English have as yet no way of dealing with it, but hope to have some day; count too on America's coming in and helping to finish the submarines .... Not ready for offensive yet, because Russia is unprepared; Japan hasn't kept her word, hasn't supplied enough munitions, and so on, has been flirting with Germany, same old story of muddling through.
March 5, 1917.---Cold again, winter, like the war, unending: deep snow. Meeting at eleven. Villalobar, Van Vollenhoven, Francqui, Lambert, Kellogg, Gregory, de Wouters, Ruddock, Swift, and so on. Kellogg told them what he pleased, saying nothing about the English unloading the ships, or of the Inter-Allied Commission. Dull hour---Villalobar with an awful cold, Francqui very blue, very much downcast, silent, sombre, whether the prospect of his approaching marriage or the hopelessness of the world situation, and so on, I don't know. Van Vollenhoven eager to get his fingers in, winking at Villalobar to broach the question, and Villalobar not noticing. An hour of boredom, then Lambert, in black kid gloves, said: "My dear Ministers, I have a feeling that some one should be the first to go, and I'll be the one." Then he went, and the others followed. Villalobar lingered, as usual; so did Gregory and Kellogg.
Kellogg thinks we'll be in the war in two weeks,(12) and all out of Belgium in that time. Inasmuch as Congress is no longer in session, I don't agree with that view. We may be in later; there will be plenty of time, for it is evident now that the war will last at least another two years.
March 6, 1917.---The German newspapers this morning are filled with a splenetic and impotent rage at the exposure of their dishonourable methods made by the publication of the orders to the German Minister at Mexico City. They blame the President for having published the letter, claiming that it was not fair in him!
March 7, 1917.---Last night, at Gregory's quarters, we had a long discussion, only four of us present---Nell, Gregory, Kellogg, and I. Kellogg had received secretly, by the courier, a dispatch from Hoover, in which he changes his plan again, says to abandon the idea of the Inter-Allied Commission (because of insistence of French and Belgian Governments that the Americans continue to direct the C.R.B. outside), and ranges himself squarely, though without saying so, with my original plan to have Dutch and Spanish delegates replace our men in Belgium and for the work otherwise to go on as before.
I was pleased, and Gregory in the clearest of lawyer-like statements recommended that we get the Dutchmen at once, and gradually, little by little, withdraw the Americans. Thus we were, he and I at least, ranged together for my original idea, which seemed now to have Hoover's sanction. But Kellogg hesitated; he had from Hoover some romantic idea of the Americans, including me, staying in here. "Don't be quixotic," said Gregory. Kellogg was still unconvinced; thought the Government had certain ideas. "The Government has no ideas," I said, "on the revictualing that Hoover doesn't give it." Kellogg thought that impossible. I made a long speech, citing the many changing varying dispatches we had received---go, stay, don't go, don't stay, take our courier, keep the courier; and finally quoted the phrase in one of the dispatches"---doubtless this plan"---my original plan, once, long ago, Hoover's, and now by this latest advice, his once more---"would gratify the Germans and certain Belgians." What did the Government know of our internal quarrels, of the significance of those words "certain Belgians" which expressed Hoover's old, unchanging dislike and distrust of Francqui? Both Gregory and Kellogg laughed, were convinced, and Nell repeated: "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau."
We decided to obtain, if possible, the guarantees from the Germans that the men can go out, but I had no hope, and so told them, and still have no hope, that the Germans will give any such guarantees. They talk about it, and von der Lancken and Brohn promise it .... But I have no idea that we shall ever secure such assurances, and little they would respect them even if they were given.
March 9, 1917.---Gregory here to see me this morning. The frontier closed again, but they sent an officer to let Kellogg out; he left last night. The Germans again promise the assurances, say even that the letter is written, awaiting yon Bissing's signature. Meanwhile, Gregory is wisely going ahead in the way I wished him to do nearly a month ago---and he would have done so had it not been for the conflicting instructions from Washington and Hoover ---and is sending out, or applying for power to send out only, the six men in the North of France, and six or seven more. Villalobar and Van Vollenhoven, after a row, have agreed that in the North of France there shall be four Spaniards and two Hollanders, and that in Belgium the Hollanders shall be in the majority. A dozen Hollanders are coming in at once.
March 13, 1917.---Réné Janssen has just been in, direct from the Dutch frontier, where he talked, across the line, in German, and in the presence of German officers---as the rule is now---with Hall of the C.R.B., who "slipped him" a message from Langhorne saying that in response to my No. 46 there was a telegram from the Department saying to take no action until further orders. No. 46 is my telegram advising that delegates of other nationality than Americans be brought in at once to replace our men in the C.R.B., the telegram in which I gave this advice as strongly as I knew how to state it. Very well. I have done my duty, and the Department has again allowed itself to be dominated by Hoover, who, despite all this vacillation he has shown in the last month, still clings obstinately to his stubborn purpose to have those men remain in here, exposed to dangers that, with the Germans in their present frame of mind, are easily imagined. I have again and again pointed out this danger, and urged decisive action that would at once have insured the continuance of the relief, and permitted the men to leave while the way was still open. But Hoover, though three thousand miles away, thinks he knows more than Gregory, or Kellogg, or I, or any one who is here, and seems able to impose his brutal will on the Department. If any horror occurs, I shall have only the melancholy satisfaction of being on record---and have to take the blame anyhow!
Janssen says that the Germans have delivered the written assurance that the Americans of the C.R.B. can leave when they will, war or no war, after being quarantined in Germany for a period not exceeding one month. I trust this news is true---not the part relating to the quarantine, but the other.
Meanwhile the Germans have torpedoed a Danish ship in the service of the C.R.B., and flying the C.R.B. insignia.
March 14, 1917.---Strange day of waiting, and uncertainty. I have ransacked the town for something to read, but the bookstores are empty, nothing left, and most of my own books are packed. I have been reading Balzac---good when he does not strain after effects, and then he becomes impossible; and Anatole France, who is all acid, mordant, no sympathies, and no pity, in him; de Maupassant, who is a cynic, with a nasty mind; found an old Gaboriau, and could hardly wade through it; he doesn't compare with Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes would be a classic if he only knew how to use that and which, should and would, shall and will. I found pleasure in Maurice Barrès' Un Homme Libre, but can't find any more of him in town. Tried Henri Bordeaux---treacle. Last night I had pleasure in a study of the Prince de Ligne, who was a real man, from all accounts, a great gentleman who was a devil with women, and was full of a pretty wit. This sort of thing is the best thing the French do. Their fiction doesn't compare with English literature; it hasn't its mature and mellow references, its depth, its knowledge of life, nor has it any of the piety of the Russian novel. Reading French novels one would think that there was no woman in France who didn't deceive her husband, and no man who wasn't kept by a woman; one would think that the population of France consisted solely of cuckolds and pimps, of whores and cads. And that isn't France at all. Her novelists have defamed her. There isn't among them a Hardy, or a Howells, or a Galsworthy, or a Bennett, except Romain Rolland.
I should also except Pierre Loti. An Iceland Fisherman is superb, and I enjoyed the repose of La Troisième Jeunesse de Madame Prune; probably had he written of her first or even second youth, he would have written in another vein.
I've been reading Zola---also.
March 16, 1917.---Gregory and I talked about Hoover's constant changes, constant vacillation, conflicting orders. I urged him to some action and he said that unless Van Vollenhoven and Villalobar agreed on men for northern France now, he would appoint them himself. He is disgusted, as I am, with the conflict at Washington and here, disgusted with this incessant change and conflict in orders, and had telegraphed to know something definite. Has not yet received the passports for the men who are ready to go, and I doubt whether we ever, any of us, will receive now any permission to leave. He had a telegram from Rotterdam saying that all delegates for northern France should be Dutch, that the Spanish Government had agreed, and so on. (Hoover's inveterate hatred of Villalobar.)
At the meeting Francqui reported several abuses---arbitrary acts on the part of the Germans; and Gregory reported that while the small frauds on the frontier had ceased, the shipment of cattle by the hundreds, in ever-increasing quantities, went on daily, and that he was privately informed that they were powerless to stop it. It is, of course, a flagrant breach of the guarantees. No imported foodstuffs have been taken. He said he had sent men to feed the refugees from northern France, of which about 50,000 have come into Belgium. The C.R.B. is feeding them the Belgian ration and they are receiving in addition one franc each per day. The Belgians are Belgians there: with the facility and the beautiful calm with which the poor do their charity, villages of 500 souls are caring for a thousand refugees. There will be a large exodus from northern France.
The German newspapers say that Congress commences today in extraordinary session, and that war will probably be declared.(13)
March 19, 1917.---The one event of which every one talks is the Russian revolution.(14) It is a splendid thing, sublime in its way, to see a people able, in the midst of the greatest war in history, to throw off the yoke of a wicked despotism, and quietly, in a few days, establish a constitutional government.
Gregory reports that Villalobar produced his four Spaniards, one of whom is a Cuban, and that they are impossible, that he will not appoint them. That in the meantime the seven Americans for whom he applied for passes are having to leave next week. They are to be quarantined for two weeks in Baden-Baden. I shall be deeply relieved when they are gone. Would that all the rest could go too, and their places be taken by Spaniards, good or bad, or Hottentots, for that matter!
The town is still filled with soldiers, and officers in their hideous uniforms, the crude strident colours, raw yellows, and reds, and greens that they all wear so proudly, so unconscious of their bad taste. Across the street, at the entrance to the government building, once a department of the Belgian Government railway system, every day at noon, an open landau drawn by two heavy and rather handsome coach horses, driven by a German soldier, punctually appears; sometimes there are two German soldiers on the box. Out of the building comes an officer, young, in grey uniform with bright yellow trimmings, he is tall, has a brutal face, all scarred; he stalks out, pompously examines the horses---"stolen horses," as Villalobar remarked the other day as we watched him from my window---pats them, mounts into the landau pompously, looks back importantly, and puffs at a big cigar---on his way home (stolen home, too), to luncheon.
March 22, 1917.---The German newspapers have it that the President has called Congress in extraordinary session for April 2nd.(15) Rumour that the French have taken St.-Quentin.
March 23, 1917.---When I saw Gregory at the C.R.B. this afternoon they had not yet received their passes. Gregory doubted if they ever would, if any of the C.R.B. would be allowed to go, even if I would.
March 24, 1917.---Villalobar was in. He had seen von der Lancken about the passports for the Americans, and had, as usual, promises. I told him that I thought the Germans would never let an American out of here, be he citizen, old or young, male or female, C.R.B. or diplomat.
Sunday, March 25, 1917.---At last! At tea-time this afternoon Villalobar came, with a long face; he had a telegram from the Spanish Minister at The Hague, transmitting this dispatch; it was in Spanish, and translated, reads:
"The United States representation begs that Your Excellency transmit to the Minister of the United States in that capital the following cablegram dated in Washington yesterday the 23rd and coming from the Secretary of State: "At the request of the President I transmit instructions to you to leave Belgium immediately accompanied by the personnel of the Legation, by the American consular officers and by the American members of the Commission for Relief in Belgium stop The Department begs you to telegraph the probable date of your departure from Belgium as well as the route and your plans stop Your official residence should be in Havre with the personnel of Legation stop Before leaving you should fulfil instructions No. 242 of February 3rd from this Department."
Gregory was here at the time, and to both of us these explicit instructions came as a distinct relief. We talked them over a moment, and Gregory said he would send the Spanish and Dutch delegates to the provinces at once. I shall see von der Lancken tomorrow, and ask for our passports. Gregory left, and Villalobar stayed for a moment's chat. He thinks that the end of the war can not now be far off, and he thought, he said, that America might not have to fire a shot. God grant that it may be so! Much as I dislike the thought of my dear, dear country being in war, it is better to have a clear situation, well defined, than this demoralizing and enervating uncertainty in which we have lived so long.
April 2, 1917.---What a day! The confusion of trunks---we have seven; people rushing in and out; in the midst of all, a motorcyclist, German, arriving with an invitation to lunch with the Governor-General at Trois Fontaines at one o'clock,(16) (He was a pretty German boy, that motor-cyclist in his leather suit; would not accept a tip; was content with my "Thank you!") But what to do! Trois Fontaines is at Vilvorde, a dozen kilometres from Brussels; Lemonnier's invitation is for one o'clock. I can not decline either! But---one o'clock German time is twelve Belgian time. I said to Nell, "Do you go to the Burgomaster's; tell them I've been called suddenly to Trois Fontaines, that I shall get to the luncheon as soon as possible." Then another difficulty; my passport for the motor expired the 31 March; but von Moltke gave me a special paper, and at 11:30 Belgian time we are driven away, and we arrived at Vilvorde at 11:50. At the bridge an ass placed himself across the roadway, and wouldn't budge; three peasants, laughing, carried him off in their strong arms. Then ... at the gate of Trois Fontaines a squad of the Imperial Guard, in their white and red uniforms (plasterers, the Brussels critics call them) all mounted, their horses' manes and tails streaming in the wind, make a striking picture.
Arrived at twelve---or at one---exactly. Von Ortenbourg was there, with his monocle, leaning on a cane, and still limping from his famous fall from his horse in the avenue Louise; very pleasant; he told me, much to my satisfaction, that the story of his having been badly treated by the Belgians was wholly untrue; that they had treated him perfectly. The staff officers came in---finally we go into the salon, and Madame von Bissing appeared, followed by the Governor-General; he looked ill, was leaning heavily on a stick. Their youngest son was with him, a true German, yellow hair, pasty face, in an ugly cadet uniform, clicking his heels intensely when he was presented to the dozen members of the party. There was a German chaplain, with a pointed beard and pince-nez, violet trimmings on his uniform, whom I have often seen about Brussels, and with him a tall, raw-boned man with a bony face, bristling hair, thick lenses in his spectacles, and the typical stupid, half-enraged, purblind German look; he wore an enormous, ill-fitting frock coat, a gaping collar, wide trousers, and his boots had glistening patent leather tips. He was very chilly when presented. All the officers, as they were presented, muttered their names after the German custom.
Von Ortenbourg told me to offer my arm to Madame von Bissing. We went out; and I was placed at her left, the huge Teuton in the frock coat being seated at her right. She explained to me that this was due to the fact that he was a famous professor of theology at some famous German seminary. Mme. von Bissing was very pleasant; speaks excellent English, though we conversed part of the time in French. Her grandmother was Irish, she said. She was very bitter against the English. The luncheon very simple, and in this respect in good taste; only three courses, eggs, then meat, then cheese and coffee. That was all.
Only once was there the slightest reference to the situation. Von Bissing raised his glass to me across the table and after we had drunk, he said: "You are going, then?" Presently, in a kind of fury, he boomed out across the table a great "Why?" It was most significant! He said they would miss me, that the revictualing would not go on as well without me, and so on. Then, raising his glass of wine, he said "Bon voyage!" I laughed and said, "And quick return?" He laughed; he is not without humour, and I was somewhat relieved, for after it was out, my smart saying seemed to me in rather questionable taste .... It was nearly two o'clock ---they would be sitting down at the Burgomaster's, Nell, and Villalobar, and all of them. Von Bissing looked over at me. "You wish to go, I understand it," said he, and he gave the sign, and we got up.
In the salon Madame von Bissing thanked me for my kindness to her husband; he thanked me too .... The great theologian, who, like the man in Browning's poem, has a name of his own, and a certain use in the world no doubt, was bidding good-bye to His Excellency; the theologian was terribly impressed, almost overcome by the honour, very obsequious, after the manner of theology before authority; and as he was going, bowed low, and on the hand of the Governor-General smacked a large, moist, unctuous resounding kiss. Enough to make one sick and wholly typical of the Germany of these times!
We tore back to Brussels---and arrived at Lemonnier's at 1:30. They were at table, the Burgomaster and his wife, Nell and Villalobar and all the aldermen and their wives. I made my apologies (Villalobar gave me a knowing wink, appreciating the situation), and I began on a second and more elaborate luncheon.
Back to the Legation---the de Beughems, Reyntiens, and others, then Villalobar, very sad and solemn there in my bureau where we have sat so many times and in so many black moments during the last three years; then tea---and in Villalobar's car we drove at 4:45 to the Gare du Nord.
There was an enormous crowd, outside and inside, and as we passed through people pressed up and said, "Good-bye, for the present!" They were all silent, many in tears, and all knowing that any manifestation would be severely repressed. We stood there saying good-bye to many we knew, to many more we didn't know; women brought their children to me, asked me to let them shake my hand. It was all most touching.
When I saw Francqui, Solvay, and Emile Janssen I nearly broke down; the only time my nerve failed. Somehow they represented to me all I was leaving, all it meant. Dear friends after all! God bless them! I could not speak as Francqui held my hand. Solvay was deeply moved, but at last I said to them that "It's only a little au revoir," and to Francqui, "We shall tell our tall stories again." He laughed. Ay di mi!
Von Moltke was standing at the wicket, letting in the members of the party who were to go on the train and those whom he pleased to the inner platform. Nell, her arms full of flowers, was weary. Villalobar escorted her to the train. There were all the dear colleagues---Z. Mahmoud Khan, the Nuncio, Blancas, Van Vollenhoven and the Kattendykes, Cavalcanti, Sven Pousette with the Chinese, Portellas, d'Ansembourg, Borel, even de Bestigne, who said to me, "I came not only to say good-bye to you, but to show my contempt for Carranza and his tribe, and my sympathy for the United States." A great crowd of friends, all dear to us, of course, most of them concerned in the revictualing---Lambert, de Wouters, Baetens, and Lemonnier. Just as the train was about to leave Gaston d'Ansembourg came to tell me that Josse Allard was at the gate but couldn't get through. I went back, saw him, waved ---without thinking---and immediately the whole vast crowd, thinking I was waving to it, waved a reply and began to shout---and I fled, fearing a demonstration and knowing what it would mean to them. I should have liked to shake Allard's hand again!
At 5:45 good-bye to von Moltke with many thanks for all his kindness; then poor Villalobar embraced me, seeming sad at seeing me go, and plucking a flower from Nell's bouquet-and at 5:50 the long train slowly pulled out of the station, filled with heavy hearts and leaving heavy hearts behind .... And as we went, there along the barriers at the streets were crowds---waving handkerchiefs. How did they know in a town where there are no newspapers? Poor dear, faithful friends!
The train rolled on, in the rain, the darkness fell; we went by Namur, by the Grand Duchy, in the night, with full hearts and thoughts for which there is no utterance!
April 3, 1917.---We have a special train, rolling rapidly, making excellent time. Von Falkenhausen is in charge, very polite and kindly. We all took enormous quantities of provisions, fearing we knew not what. We are about seventy-five persons. Of the Legation, besides Nell and me, there are Kin Kung and Taï Taï,(17) and Marie and Eugène; the Ruddocks and their two babies, their German nurse and German maid, weeping, poor things, because they must leave their masters and the babies in Switzerland, for it would not do to take Germans into France. The Ruddocks brought too their excellent chef, François, who prepares us fine meals en route, and his wife and daughter. They brought Alphonse also. Swift, the attaché, was with us of course. There are, too, Diederich and his wife---whom a score of years abroad have left untouched in his typical mid-westernism. (Diederich wears embroidered slippers on the train, each having a large dog's head worked in colors.) He has his daughters and his staff, among them Sherman, vice consul, and his wife and little son---they are transferred to Queenstown---and Miss Adams, the English clerk. Then there is Johnson, consul at Ghent, transferred to Dundee---where my mother's family came from originally---and his Italian wife and a multitude of little children, so excited they can't sleep. Then there is Cruger, his mother and sister, and the little poodle I gave her; and Topping and his wife (weeping because she has never been away from Brussels before) and Mlle. Diefenthal and Cloots. There are about fifteen members of the Chinese Legation, occupying several compartments. Then there are Gregory and his son Don and about twenty-five members of the C.R.B., with Mrs. Carstairs and her young baby and an old nurse.
Nasmith and his wife went on Monday to Amsterdam. Mrs. Heingartner and her daughter remained in Liége at their own request, awaiting the arrival of the son from Vienna. Arrangements were made for them to go when they pleased. Gray remains of his own choice at Brussels as director of the C.R.B. Neville and two other accountants remain also, at Gregory's orders, to close up the books. Then they go to Rotterdam. There are six others of the C.R.B. who had to remain in Brussels to be held in "quarantine" for perhaps four weeks. They had been sent down into the Etappen and in consequence, in accordance with a military order that compels every one coming from the Etappen to remain for a period in the occupation zone before going out, they had to remain. Written assurances were given that they might leave at the expiration of their quarantine, and during that time they will help in the revictualing. If Gregory hadn't sent them down into the Etappen they would have come out with us.
We awoke in the Black Forest. The land drear and silent, few people in evidence, but those we see apparently well fed. At one station there are French prisoners in their red breeches, working. At another there are Russian prisoners. At one station German women in male attire (we passed through Metz and Strasbourg in the night).
At half past ten we arrive at Singen. After a long wait---some discussion between Falkenhausen and the German officers there, the latter, Ruddock says, demanded 4,000 marks in payment on the special train---the train runs backward again, a discouraging symptom for every one in the party is nervous, fearing the visit, the search and seizure.
Tuesday morning I visited every one on the train; despite all warnings many of them had letters, photographs, and so on. I had taken a dozen postcards from Sherman's little boy Monday night and had torn them up; I took from Mrs. Sherman a photograph of her son in the uniform of an English soldier and tore that up, and from Cruger photographs and patriotic souvenirs he had taken from men of the C.R.B.---since he can't say no. I tore them all up and threw them out the window onto the clean German landscape.
The train backed to a station called Gottenatling, or some such profane thing, where to our delight a Swiss special train was waiting for us. It was reassuring to see it, with its red crosses on the wagons. We had enormous quantities of baggage---Nell and I some fifteen trunks, the Ruddocks twenty, and we had besides two great diplomatic pouches, containing our records, and, most precious of all, the sacred Code, to say nothing of the manuscript of my novel. I had detailed Swift to watch the pouches, and not to let them out of our sight. But our Legation baggage was not inspected. We took our places at once in the Swiss train and waited while the Germans examined the baggage of the consuls and the C.R.B. The examination was not severe, save in the case of Don Gregory; him they stripped to the skin, why we do not know. Then suddenly von Falkenhausen came running, and hastily said good-bye. The train was going. We gave him a handshake and a bottle of wine to stay him on his trip back to Brussels---Moritz had brought excellent wine from his cellar---the train pulled out, and soon we rolled across the frontier into Switzerland, safe at last, with deep inward gratitude. I felt like Christian when his burden rolled off his back. The journey had been accomplished without incident, with perfect courtesy on the part of the Germans, in less than twenty hours.
It was afternoon and François was serving us a luncheon when the train drew into the station at Schaffhausen. There on the platform were two lines of Swiss soldiers, standing at present arms. I was greatly surprised, but presently three Swiss officers, very smart in their uniforms of grey, much handsomer than the German uniforms we have come to loathe, boarded the train. There they stood in the narrow corridor outside our compartment. It is difficult in such close quarters, with a hard-boiled egg in one hand and a sandwich in the other, to be dignified, but I did the best I could. There was the Commandant of the place at Schaffhausen, a General of Cavalry, and a Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel come on the part of the Swiss Government to welcome us. I thanked them, and we chatted. Finally the train left, the soldiers presenting arms again, and the Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel, in their white gloves, accompanied us to Zurich. We saw the Falls of the Rhine in passing, crossed that little tongue of German territory that thrusts itself down into Switzerland on this side of Schaffhausen-saw a German sentinel standing there, the last German soldier, we hope, that we shall ever see. (Not long ago some German soldiers escaped from the Fatherland, were interned; at Schaffhausen they expressed themselves freely about the Kaiser; in crossing this frontier strip of German soil the train was stopped, they were seized, taken off---and shot.)
But once again in Switzerland---adieu to Germany and to Germans I hope forever! Three years with them in Belgium has taught me what a terrible race they are, and what a calamity for this world it would be if they were to have any influence in it.
At Zurich our two Swiss officers bade us good-bye, and Stovall, our minister at Berne, came aboard, with Keene, the consul at Zurich, and half a dozen reporters---whom I dreaded to see, these latter! I would give them no interview. They wanted a "statement" regarding Belgium---as if one could make a "statement" regarding conditions in Belgium, to do justice to which a work of no less size than the Encyclopædia Britannica would be necessary!
The train sped on, the sun came out and there were the Alps---the Jungfrau, and finally at six o'clock Berne, and de Groot, the Belgian Minister, and the American consul and Campbell the secretary at Berne. We drove to the Bellevue---and from our windows feast our tired eyes on the, everlasting hills, rosy in the Alpine glow as the sun went down. Ah! how tired! Dinner in our rooms, and then---bed, sleeping at last in a republic, breathing the air of liberty.