Whitlock's first summer and autumn at Havre were months of gloom. Despite heroic efforts and heartbreaking expenditure of lives, the British and French were held at a virtual standstill on the Western front. Meanwhile, Russia was falling out of the war. Kerensky, who came into power in July, 1917, attempted to maintain the struggle, but his position grew weaker, and in November he was overthrown by Lenin and Trotsky, determined to make a separate peace. In October a great Austro-German drive plunged down the Alps into the plains of Lombardy; the Italians had fled headlong, losing in a few days all that they had gained in two years of hard fighting. For a time it seemed that the Germans would overrun northern Italy as they had overrun Serbia, Roumania, and Russian Poland. Meanwhile the feeling for peace was growing stronger in all nations. The moderate revolutionists in Russia had demanded a formal avowal of war aims by all the belligerents; Pope Benedict XV in August made proposals for peace and disarmament; President Wilson's admirable reply on August 27th brought the Fourteen Points before the world; and in December the British Labor Party adopted a memorandum on war objects which commanded wide support. Of all this Whitlock, writing away at his book in Havre, was an intent spectator. As he here relates, he found a house in the lower part of the city: a three-story house with a high wall in front, a tangled garden at the rear, and some beautifully furnished rooms, for it had belonged to an artist. He did some quiet entertaining here. He saw many Americans in France on war errands. He was heartened, as the tide went against the Allies, by news of the tremendous American war effort. By the end of 1917 more than 175,000 American soldiers were in France, and one division had moved into the front line.
July 7, 1917.---Signed the lease for No. 9, rue Jacques Louer, Mme. Chauminot having had a lease prepared as long as a mortgage on the Woolworth Building, for a term of six months. Dealing with Normans enough to drive one mad! Left Mme. Chauminot in the midst of what she calls cleaning, for she was to put the house in order before we took it. Drove to Etretât for our third and last injection against typhoid.
Sunday, July 8, 1917.---We were sitting at luncheon today at the hotel looking out into the roadstead; a ship came slowly into the harbour, crawled by to a bank just outside the entrance to the port and slowly sank with all her flags flying; three tugs standing by watched her death agonies. It was raining and a grey cold dismal morning and the sight added to the depression that is inseparable from Ste.-Adresse.
July 10, 1917.---Nell inspected No. 9, rue Jacques. They had been a week in what they called cleaning---"cleaning to the bottom"---which evidently doesn't mean what cleaning means in English. The lady with her lawyers and her father's advice and her bail and her inventory, and her Norman suspicions and cupidity, pronounced the house clean, but Nell has got some Belgian women to go at it, and thus after another week or ten days it will be habitable. Meanwhile we are to leave Eugène in charge of the cleaning and to go to La Belle Ernestine's until the house is fit to occupy.
And this is our last night in the Grand Hôtel des Regâtes, notable as the most execrable of all hotels or boarding places in this earth. Situated here on this barren, rocky beach, foul-smelling with the sewage of all the cities and towns along the Seine from Paris to Havre---today a dead cow washed up under our noses---and noisy with the rattling of the petroleum tins,(1) with a glare of sun when it isn't raining, it is as bleak a place as though it had been intended by nature for a penal colony. But aside from all its natural disadvantages, its proprietor is, I presume, worthy to be celebrated among the great criminals of history, or would be, if he had a more positive nature and anything like personality. As it is, he hides in the cellar of his hotel, sending up poisonous concoctions that taste and smell of chemicals; he charges enormously, and conducts the cuisine according to those rules that stingy sheriffs use for feeding prisoners---barely enough to keep them alive. We are suffering from want of nourishment, actually; and have been for weeks in daily danger of poisoning. Several of Gourin's victims have been made ill by the food. On meatless days he gives the servants spoiled meat that has been left over! He charges the same rates that prevail at the leading New York hotels---and grinning behind his beard, is altogether the most detestable scoundrel at large, with his cheating and dishonesty and general villainy of all sorts. Shut the door on him forevermore!
Sunday, July 15, 1917.---Rain this morning, but the sky cleared and the day was fine. Spent the afternoon painting---or daubing. It is a rest and a distraction, however, even if the result is to be deplored. Better of my cold, and began to long to write. The years that have passed since I have had a book out! And there is my novel, unfinished! I should write down my impressions of this charming and lovely spot, but I somehow lack the energy. Ernestine telling me last night of de Maupassant, who used to occupy the chamber that we have, and of Flaubert, who was often here.
July 18, 1917.---Last night on retiring, perceived that I had lost my pocketbook, containing one thousand eight hundred francs, and my pass from the General Staff, with Joffre's signature-the little blue card that takes me everywhere, the card which the sentinels salute .... Sir Francis showed me his the other day with more pride than if it had been the cross of St. Michael and St. George, saying: "There are very few who have this; I am probably the only one at Havre." "Probably," I replied, and said nothing more, not liking to disturb his pretty illusion. And now my precious pass was gone---to say nothing of my one thousand eight hundred francs! Searched high and low---no sign. Then, in the morning, sent François back over my trail of yesterday---and at the farm of Monteuil, he found it, soaked by a night's rain, under the apple tree where I had been painting! And there was rejoicing, as on the part of the woman in the Bible who found her piece of silver.
Walked to the cliffs with the dogs; then in the afternoon, sheltered in the garage, painted.
July 20, 1917.---After luncheon we all drove to Etretât, had a game of golf, the first since---when? November---with Raymond and Cox. Tea with Major Hapgood. On the links we could hear the guns from the north---that dull throbbing thudding sound I used to hear on the other side of the line. Has the English push begun?
Back here to Ernestine's, sketching till dinner. Afterwards we walked to the cliffs, in the pale, beautiful twilight. Again the thump of the guns, distant, lugubrious; have the English really begun again? Thoughts of the awful war, all this killing, this three years of cruelty, savagery, depression---all on account of a few ignorant, brutal, swaggering German generals---Ludendorff, Hindenburg, von Tirpitzes, Crown Princes and so on .... The Kaiser? But that low comedian is set aside, after thirty years of blowing and strutting, is set aside by his own underlings, the Great War Lord is a nerveless, spineless neurasthenic; and Germany is ruled by a military clique .... How cruel life and nature are! As we stood looking out across the sea, there in the twilight, heard the loud, angry voice of the captain of the coast guard, abusing an underling. "You get to bed, right away---and then leave me in peace!" Degrading---revolting scene, there in those beautiful, calm fields on the cliffs in the twilight! The same everywhere! Militarism the same always---the poor underling could not, dared not reply.
Sunday, July 22, 1917.---Lovely, clear, warm day. General Nicholson, Colonel Gosset and Captain Bathhurst of the English army came to luncheon with us. All walked to the cliffs. They were all anxious about the push; Gosset says the next two weeks will be the decisive weeks of the war.(2) Pétain and Sir Douglas Haig have great faith in their ability to turn the German right flank; Pétain has the Iron Division at Ypres. "If we can push them back, the war is over. If not, it means that the war must go on until the Americans can get here, and they will have to finish it in the air." As we were talking, we could hear the guns. "But they're not the big ones," said Bathhurst.
At four we drove to Etretât, Nell to see Raymond, who filled a tooth for her. Tea there. Back, and painted awhile at the farm of Monteuil, then after dinner, a walk down to the coast guard, and a lovely new moon in the evening sky.
Reading The Blade I see that the President asked Congress---three weeks ago---to permit me to accept the Order of Léopold, and that a Congressman, one Emerson, has declared his intention of blocking it. Who is Emerson? It is sufficient, however, for me, it would be for any one, to have the King offer it, and the President approve, but I knew, of course, that Congress would hardly acquiesce, because in a body where there are so many contemptibly cheap little politicians, no such easy chance for buncombe and shirt-sleeve democracy could be allowed to escape .... I sent the decoration to Washington weeks ago! Let it be forgotten, and the sweating stump speakers in Congress spare themselves their pains!
July 23, 1917.---Another lovely day, spent in painting the farm of Monteuil. Sir Francis and Lady Villiers came out after tea. Berryer has gone. The ministerial crisis is still in suspense, but de Broqueville expected to return from La Panne tomorrow. And tomorrow we return to town, leaving with regret this charming place that I haven't described in my journal. But how, after all, give an idea of its peace, its charm, its quiet---these placid, sunny fields leading down to the cliffs that overlook the sea, the lovely Norman country, the peasants with their patois, the old church and its bell, above all the remarkable personality of the little old woman who has surmounted a strange, romantic destiny and seems to be one of those great ghosts, all gone now, with whom her spirited, and doubtless happy, careless youth was passed. Let it rather be an impressionistic memory!
July 24, 1917.---Painted all day at the farm of Monteuil, and after tea we drove into Havre, and to the house at 9, rue Jacques Louer. It was all clean, bright, smiling, attractive, with the fat chef in the kitchen, preparing an excellent dinner. The house is charming, with a pretty garden behind a high wall over which the wistaria falls, and, in the upper story a fine studio, luxurious with rugs, and all furnished in perfect taste.
De Broqueville has sent me an album filled with photographs as a souvenir of our visit to the King.
July 26, 1917.---Walking in town---the dirty, filthy, odorous, dingy town (3)---this morning saw numerous groups of American soldiers---a regiment of engineers just arrived. Spent the day in writing letters, and in feeling miserable and good for nothing.
Thoughts: Why is it, that at a period when there is a greater impulse towards democracy than ever before, there is everywhere a contempt, a growing distrust, thoroughly deserved, of parliamentary bodies?(4) In England parliament is nothing, and England is the mother of parliaments; one man, Lloyd George, is everything. In France, everybody despises the Chamber; women have slapped the faces of deputies on the quai d'Orsay. In America, Senate and House potter and potter, and do nothing, and are generally held in contempt. Indeed, in America there has long been a tendency away from belief, from confidence in legislative bodies. Our city councils were long corrupt, filled with the worst we had, and when they ceased to be corrupt they became stupid---as I learned in Toledo. Our State legislatures have long been unspeakable----an annual calamity with which it was a disgrace or a pain to be associated. The Senate has long been the refuge of privilege, the Congress, of fools. Today, and for nearly five years past, Wilson alone has represented the popular ideas in America. Indeed, for many years it has been the executive---the mayors in cities, the governors in states, the President in Wilson's case, and somewhat in Roosevelt's, who have been the instrument of democracy, betrayed always in its legislative chambers. Russia, in agony, turns to Kerensky, realizing already, if dimly, that it has been her superstitious trust in elected bodies that has led her to the abyss---abstraction fails, of course, of the effects of czarism.
Men distrusted rulers; thought that in elections there was salvation; hence elected chambers and executives---and administrators, even petty functionaires, as in America, where even county surveyors and coroners are elected. All this, instead of aiding democracy, retarded it---and we have the first ballot reform.
Tom Johnson used to say that there should be but one man elected in a city; and that was the mayor. Events proved him to have been right-in all jurisdictions.
It is so because democracy is personality; and there is no personality in a Congress; it is a medley of mediocrities where the worst show most clearly---as in smeared painting, the dirty, dull tones always killing the brighter, purer colours. If they are representative bodies, they represent the worst. The executives generally, or more often, represent the best.
Will democracy in the future take other forms? A boss for the city---but a boss chosen by the people, a dictator in the nation, but a dictator coming out of plebiscite, not out of a coup d'état? Thus, at any rate, personality finds play, and things are donethere is accomplishment. It is a subject that I have not thought out, not expressed at all clearly, but it is worth thinking about.
July 28, 1917.---Walk on the beach with the dogs, very hot, and evil smells. This is without doubt the filthiest city in Christendom. No pavements, no sewers, no baths, and the population doubled by the war. Have begun the reading of a most interesting book, sent me by Norman Hapgood, Vers la Démocratie Nouvelle, outlining a plan for the reconstruction of France after the war. But the first thing for France to do is to take a bath. The people in the streets these hot summer days actually exhale a sickening odour. The city of Havre is at least thirty years behind the times. Oh, for modern American conveniences---and a golf club with showers!
July 30, 1917.---I had a charming walk this morning with the dogs, up... charming streets that climb the slopes of the hills behind us, amid old grey houses, to the fine old residences and quiet shady avenues of the hill, a really fine quarter. One goodly spot in Havre at any rate, but the only one, so far as I know. The streets generally are filled or strewn with garbage, which the inhabitants fling from their doors for the street cleaning department to pick up, which it does, sometimes, though the people do not take the trouble to put it in cans!
The crisis in France seems to be tending toward Caillaux, who has come out of his retreat. The other day he made a speech in the Chamber, a day or so later, on a Sunday, he made another, a highly moral address, full of edifying advice to the young to lead moral lives---his own life having afforded a beautiful example to them! The London Times published a long editorial of warning the other day; Revere.. . says that if there are not more arrests in France within a fortnight, of well-known agitators who are at large---like the so-called Belgian millionaire Margulies, who is not Belgian as he pretended to be, but Austrian, and was interned the other day after a violent attack on Clemenceau---Caillaux will come to power, and that that will make a German peace. There is no doubt that these summer days of 1917, the situation is rather dark; what with Russia going to the devil, and the German brutes stronger than ever, and making furious attacks on the French lines. And the English offensive, so far as we know, does not as yet amount to much, though it may ....
Revere told me that, on landing at Nantes, an American officer with many ships of materials found the quay too small, and wished some old houses standing there removed. But there was much red tape---the Prefect would have to ask the consent of the Government at Paris---and that would take time. "How long?" "Oh, three weeks." "Three weeks!" said the American. "Think I can wait three weeks?" The Prefect shrugged his shoulders. That day the American officer set his men to work and tore the buildings down without waiting for permission! The same at Brest. There is a rock in the harbour there that Brest has wanted to blast out for years, but politics and jealousy on the part of Havre have prevented: the Americans are blasting it out!
The new gas invented by the German fiends, they say, gives the men nausea, so that they vomit, and have to drop their masks; that thereupon the gas blinds them! Van der Elst here just back from the front says that 300 Englishmen thus blinded were brought over to the hospital yesterday.
The Belgian Cabinet held two councils today, one this morning, another this afternoon, and came away, so le grand Joseph reports, very red of face. Hymans, who as leader of the Liberals had insisted on having the portfolio of foreign affairs, was not present, but a letter from him was read, which may account for the red faces. It seems settled that de Broqueville will be minister of foreign affairs, and a general minister of war, with Vandervelde the Socialist minister of munitions.
August 3, 1917.---De Broqueville is to take the Foreign Office, but the crisis isn't settled---still some questions as to... the portfolio of war. Van der Elst showed me dispatch from Roumania; situation there very bad; people tired, and want peace; and the German agents working on their fears and hopes. The Russian malady growing epidemic. Also showed me dispatch from Washington saying that the President had asked Congress to let me accept the Order of Léopold. Also Moncheur expects decorations for Anderson, who gave the Belgian mission his house while it was in Washington, and for Gibson and others. I explained the constitutional provisions to him, but told him that it did not apply to Anderson.
Two resignations from French cabinet, and a crisis at Paris, though the Government had another vote of confidence yesterday. All the work of Socialists, who still dream of brotherhood, and long to walk into the German lines. Vandervelde has given me a copy of his confidential report, which is intensely interesting. It throws a great light on the Stockholm business and the situation in Russia. Also sent me copy of his book La Belgique Envahie. Helene Vacaresco, the Roumanian poet, sends me, too, the volume of her poems.
I have finished reading W. D. Howells' Years of My Youth, and we are reading now, at bed time, Nell and I, George Moore's Confessions of a Young Man. W. D. Howells' book is charming, to me fascinating, partly because it is about Ohio, partly because of its intrinsic merit in the honest, sincere reflection of a refined, generous, beautiful nature. Moore, who mocks at Howells (the latchet of whose shoes he is not worthy to unloose) is smart, with a perverted cleverness, never for an instant rings true, is evidently somewhat without principle, and obnoxious, too, boasting of conquests he never made, and of deviltries he never committed. That prudent, calculating, selfish young man ever wild! He never had the courage of his lack of conviction. He never kissed a girl, or had an affair in his life!
August 7, 1917.---Swift back from London; brought the copies I wanted of the Shropshire Lad---I have that anyway---and, of course, many blessings besides, I know. Cable from Department asking for a full report on the German atrocities in Belgium. So I wired Langhorne and Petherick to send me my papers. Gerard has his book out and going strong, divulging state secrets right and left, astounding and appalling the world and paralyzing mankind. I've been hanging back, from a feeling, outworn in these times, that a diplomatist should not go about like a peddler of sensations, nor make money by patriotic officiousness---and now, the Department wants my story, and will give it to the newspapers, and maybe kill it for me. But no, that is gratuitous bitterness; that is best which wears best in the long run, after all. So let Gerard record the secrets the Kaiser told him, and prove the Kaiser a liar, and so on; which he is, of course, for his empire is founded on a lie. But the persistent, morbid interest in America in the German atrocities is saddening, because it shows how pitifully small and feeble imagination is, and how little conception there is of principles. As though the justice of our cause depended on whether Germans killed babies in Belgium, or not.
August 15, 1917.---Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, with her Red Cross secretary... arrived at 12:30; we drove to St.-Jouen in a pouring rain; arriving at La Belle Ernestine's at 1:30. A mistaken notion, that, of going there; the house crowded, many parties at luncheon, rooms filled with smoke---and Mrs. Reid indignant, as though we had betrayed her, obviously turning up her nose. La Belle Ernestine had not received my telegram---it is the day of the Assumption---but gave us a luncheon, and we drove on to Etretât. The sun came out .... I wandered about, and looked at an auction of the fish just brought in by a fishing smack, while Mrs. Reid visited the hospitals. She talks much of her departed husband; when Howells was mentioned---I spoke of his references to Whitelaw Reid in Years of My Youth-she said: "My husband knew him in youth, but he knew Garfield and McKinley better. Still he always liked Howells, always knew him," as who should say, "always recognized him from his exalted height!"... Her money was frequently spoken of---by her---and always discreetly in evidence. And so I took advantage of the opportunity and suggested that the officers needed three hundred francs to install some plumbing for their laboratory, where, they think, they have discovered the bacillus of trench fever. She generously gave seven hundred and fifty francs for the purpose. Returned home for tea, then I drove them to the wharf and to the Continental to wait for their boat.
August 22, 1917.---Went this afternoon to see de Broqueville, who is just back from the front. He told me that they had asked London and Paris whether the reply to the Pope's note should be separate or joint; London had replied, separate, and Paris, joint. He had prepared a sort of preliminary note which he showed me. It was, in effect, only an acknowledgment, concocted in most polite terms, thanking His Holiness for his interest in Belgium, but reserving the right to reply more fully later, and saying that Belgium was fighting only to recover her sovereignty and independence and to compel respect for "the political principles of a high morality." De Broqueville said that the King and he both thought that President Wilson was the best and most disinterested friend Belgium had, and that because of his moral vision he would guide Belgium better than anybody, and that they should like his opinions, counsel and advice. Some more talk, very cordial, and I came away, and prepared and sent a cable in cipher to Washington.
Sunday, August 26, 1917.---Walk with Nell and the dogs this morning; indoors the rest of the day.
Medill McCormick and Captain Colby motored from Paris to take luncheon with us. McCormick wishes me to have the King pose, with me, for the movies, to be used in propaganda work at home. Colby still talks of his commission and appointment as attaché here.
Nicholson came in for tea; it rained hard and we didn't get out.
McCormick and Nicholson both discouraging as to the submarine warfare, which goes on rather strongly, though Nicholson looks for peace by spring.
What a waste---this war! Life going by---going by, in this hideous way!
McCormick, by the way, profoundly persuaded of his own importance in the human scheme; type of young man with showy liberal principles who makes for conservatism and reaction always.
August 29, 1917.---McCormick called again this morning. Tremendous egoist! En route to England---barging around, enlightening the world. Knows everything. He and Colby had a nasty accident Sunday after leaving my house---their motor smashed to splinters by a big English lorry, but luckily no one hurt.
August 30, 1917.---This morning, glancing out the window, I saw coming down the short gravel walk across our little garden, in the rain, a broad-shouldered young chap, great raincoat belted in, khaki cap pulled down over his eyes, puttees, stick, and so forth, ruddy, smiling face, curling hair, short, smart moustache---in short, the perfect type of the English officer. He came in-and lo, John Wilmington, whom I could remember only as the little boy in Winthrop Street.(5) He is going into the flying corps. We had him to luncheon, and late in the afternoon, he left for Etretât. Ay di mi! Growing old!
Heard that the Vaterland had arrived with troops, and was in the roadstead. Walked to Ste.-Adresse with Nell but, of course, no Vaterland to see.
August 31, 1917,---Most touching letter from Cardinal Mercier ---sent to Hoover. Also Thomas arrived from Brussels with word from Francqui. Things going badly. Poor souls!
President Wilson's reply to the Pope published this morning. Very high in tone, as usual, very determined, as usual, and very logical---no hope of permanent peace by dealing with the dishonoured Hohenzollerns and their gang. Everywhere favourably commented on.
Higgins, to newly commissioned lieutenant, formerly non-commissioned officer and just arrived in Havre, whom he was anxious to preserve from Norman hotel sharks:
"What hotel are you staying at?"
"Well, Sir, I thought I'd go to the Hôtel de Ville; it looks like a respectable place."
Sunday, September 2, 1917.---This afternoon strolled over to the St.-Roche park to hear the concert given by the band of the Scots Guards. Interesting---the crowds, English, Australian, Scottish soldiers, French and Belgian too; the towering trees, the bright, warm September sun, the clear blue sky, the shifting crowds, the pavilion with the band---the fine effects of light---then at the end the band rising to its feet, soldiers all at attention, and the Belgians at the salute, playing "The Star-Spangled Banner," "la Brabançonne," "la Marseillaise," and finally "God Save the King."
September 3, 1917.---A lovely, silvery, sunny September day (there were twenty-three days of rain in August); my morning walk with the dogs.
After luncheon to Etretât---and all afternoon golf, though I had to play alone. A beautiful afternoon---a convoy going by, over to England---fifteen or more ships, with a dirigible and two aëroplanes hovering overhead.
Hapgood showed me letter Brewer had written from the front describing the death, after an operation, technically perfect, of Sir William Osler's son-and then the pathetic burial, wrapped in a blanket and lowered into a muddy trench.
Back here to find Charles H. Grasty of the New York Times here, waiting to see me. I knew he was coming, for he had sent a wire from [word omitted here] fixing his time, but I didn't stop on that account, or give up my trip to Etretât, for I knew he came to have me do something for him, not to do anything for me. He was in the uniform of a war correspondent, that is, a uniform as nearly like an officer's uniform as possible without infringing on the order against wearing it. He came to ask about Hoover, who has asked him to take charge of publicity. He will not do it, however. He was most depressing---said Haig's offensive is a flat failure, that the submarine warfare is very serious, that they are sinking three times as much tonnage as the Allies are constructing,(6) that France is feeble, that Ribot is going, and so on. Left me feeling very blue and as if the game was up. Indeed, Grasty almost spoke as though it were, and said Pershing felt much that way. He referred to the hatred of the French for the British and for the Belgians; the French, however, love the Americans. "Yes, today," I said, "but in six months they will hate us too." One hears this hatred of the French for British and Belgians on every hand; every one speaks of it. "More boche than the boches," say the French of the Belgians; and then, with their cruel French wit, "We will fight until not a single Belgian remains on French soil!"
Sunday, September 16, 1917.---This morning Medill McCormick called en route from London to Paris, and thence to Italy on his important business of running the universe. Had much to say about the President, who it seems is not doing very well, about Baker and Daniels, ditto, about Sir Robert Borden in Canada, who is a complete failure, about Lloyd George, who isn't doing what he should, Bonar Law, who isn't all he is cracked up to be, and about the rulers at Paris, who are miserably inadequate to their task. Discovered, in short, that the only genuine specimen of your true statesman extant is Medill McCormick himself. He must see King Albert; has a startling idea of having cinema pictures made of him and the King, and wishes me to go too. Happy prospect that, and so sensible, of going to the front to be taken for the movies!
September 17, 1917.---My usual walk with the dogs, and working on atrocity report, a terrible task! People at home think that I have some frightful revelations of horror to make, whereas I can add nothing to what has been in the Bryce report, and the Belgian report.
The Van (7) here to luncheon. Some feeling between the Red Cross and members of the C.R.B. Van Schaick says the C.R.B. men are fanatical, and wish to command everywhere, and have an excessive idea of their own importance, which isn't wholly inadequate, as far as some of them are concerned.
Lieutenant Robertson in this afternoon to tell me of row between our soldiers, some of the artillery who came in yesterday, and English. One American thrashed an English policeman.
More work on atrocity report, and Nell and I had a turn on the beach after tea. Hard work to do much with atrocity report; hard work to come up to expectations. Nothing short of blood in every line will satisfy them.
September 21, 1917.---Visit early this morning from Tuohy, London manager for the New York World, who came to get serial rights to my book of "revelations." Took him on our walk, Kin and Taï and I, a good sort. Irish, full of interesting news about Ireland and the Sinn Feiners, and the treachery and treason of the miserable young priests who are the curse of Ireland and all in the Sinn Fein movement. Little hope for poor Ireland, what with priests, Sinn Feiners, and Dublin Castle.
Lewis and Swift to luncheon, then I worked---as I had all morning after Tuohy's departure (without serial rights, since I intend putting the whole matter in Curtis Brown's hands)---on atrocity report, which grows and grows.
Walked in bright sun to Ste.-Adresse and to Raymond Woog's, painter, had tea in his studio with him and his pretty wife; and enjoyed immensely once more that congenial familiar atmosphere of art. He is doing a stunning portrait of Nicholson and wishes to do one of me.
September 22, 1917.---DeCamp here for luncheon; wished serial rights of my book for the Metropolitan, thought Whigham would pay $25,000 for them. He remained until four.
Then Nell and I drove to Ste.-Adresse to see de Broqueville, the French authorities having refused us coal, saying it was the concern of the Belgian Government. De Broqueville gone; saw du Pont, who as always was kind and obliging and said the Government would sell me all I desired .... Worked then on my atrocity report, which I shall never finish. Then Nell and I went for a walk on the beach---a fine young moon.
Working every evening these days on the book. It goes on---so-so.
September 24, 1917.---Had that dreadful depression I always feel when I come along the rue de Paris, near the wharves; swarming toward evening with all the slopping bilge water and backwash of life---ragged, sickly, filthy children, slatternly women, and worse, the painted ones, and soldiers: English, hard Australian leatherbellies, in their great bushranger hats, Canadians, Moroccans in red fezes, French in their dirty, ill-fitting, faded uniforms, Scotchmen in kilts, men of the London Scottish, Belgians in their police caps, Americans---all the drinking joints full, cheap music, and crowds at the little tables on the sidewalk---dirty, dirty, dull, drab, dreary---the abomination of desolation.
September 25, 1917.---No sooner returned from our walk this morning than I was met at the gate by Wheeler, editor of Everybody's, who had crossed the sea on an army transport to get me to write my Belgian story for his book; he proved to be the Wheeler of Creel's telegram, clearing up that mystery, for he brought a letter from Creel---dear old friend!---urging me to write the story now for its effect, that the Secretary had been in favour of my printing now, but later changed his mind and opposed it, but that the President approved. In these circumstances he urged me to resign. His telegram thereupon became clear: Lansing has again changed, and now apparently favours publication, hence the withdrawal by Creel of his suggestion that I resign. Wheeler brought a letter too from Baker. We talked awhile---he offered $35,000 for first serial rights to ten articles. He was here to luncheon, and stayed half the afternoon.
September 26, 1917.---Telegram from Department granting permission to publish my memoirs.
Wheeler again to luncheon---but no word from Curtis Brown.
Went to Woog to pose. He told me a good story on Sir Francis. The English officers gave a gymkhana, and invited the French admiral, the Prefect, the Mayor of Havre, and all the other French authorities. The affair was at an English camp here at Havre. The English officers asked Sir Francis to thank the French for coming, and he said:
"It gives me great pleasure, in behalf of the officers of the British army, to express our appreciation of the honour done us by the presence of these distinguished foreigners."
Germany has issued a kind of postscript to her note to the Pope, saying that she is willing to give up Belgium, on condition that the administrative separation(8) be maintained and that such guarantees be given as will preserve Germany from another attack from Belgium! Could insolent hypocrisy go farther!
September 29, 1917.---Another sunny day. Our walk, we three, and then---atrocities until luncheon, when Wheeler came again. I shall turn the book business over to Curtis Brown, and Wheeler will go to London.
This afternoon we had a charming time at Montivilliers---another archæological party of Colonel Kitson Clark's; the old church there, with its Norman tower of the eleventh century, and its additions, and so on, of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, plainly visible in the façade. Then we walked to the cemetery of Brise-Garet, charming, with its curious gallery of wood, with carvings---almost gone, worn away by time and weather during nearly four centuries. A sad, pathetic, lovely---really sweet picture---through the arched doorway, at the end of the gallery: Three acolytes in white, bearing a cross, and singing, then an old priest in his robes, then two men bearing the white coffin of a child, and the poor weeping mourners behind; the picture framed by the great door. Beyond the green-grey boles of trees and the splendid sunlight in the foliage. We stood uncovered---ah me! Sunt lachrymæ rerum!
We visited too the buildings of the old abbey, part of which was turned into a nunnery, given over now to Portuguese soldiers. We went in---but I fled at sight of our noble allies, telling Kitson Clark that I came to study archæology, not entomology.
We had tea in the upper room of a pâtisserie---ah very jolly.
October 4, 1917.---My walk with Kinnie and Taï Taï and this afternoon posing for Woog. Raining all day. William Allen White and Allen of Kansas here in my absence; I regretted not having seen them. Went at six with Woog to the English camp at Harfleur for the boxing. Great ring erected, as though the fight were for the championship of the world, between Sullivan and Corbett, in the Y.M.C.A. "hut"---an enormous wigwam. A great electric light blazed on the elevated platform, with the ropes and the chairs at the corners, all the well-known paraphernalia, and two referees ---one of them a clergyman of the Church of England, in their high seats, with their gong, their time-piece, and so on (the contests were under Army and Navy rules, which do not permit the referee to enter the ring). All around in the semi-darkness hundreds and hundreds of soldiers, a vast, enthusiastic audience, but disciplined and quiet. There were seven special contests, of four or six rounds, mostly light-weights, but there was a heavy-weight fight between Corporal Duffey of the Welsh Guards and Private Kirvin, an Australian---which the Corporal won fairly at the end of the fourth round. They were to have gone six---the Australian shouted out that he could not fight his opponent and the referee too. He was very groggy then. The referee--the parson---had been saying, from time to time: "Stop, Blue, stop boring. Box on." And once: "Stop, Blue, is your hearing affected?" "No, sir." "Stop boring. It is the last warning. Box on." In the first contest, in the second round, one man was knocked out cold. There were two other fights in which Australians appeared, and though they both won them, as I thought, and as many thought, they were declared to be draws.
The best match was between Harrison, Royal Field Artillery, a young Greek god, and Parry, an Australian---fast and pretty work. At the end Gunner Moir gave an exhibition---not so interesting, the ex-champion heavy-weight, old at forty---as the fiery fighting of the youngsters.
I was asked to present the prizes-cups and so forth, and did so. Then the band played "The Star-Spangled Banner"---and afterwards "God Save the King."
I stopped, with Woog, to dine at the officers' mess with Colonel Kitson Clark and Colonel Manly. Then late, we drove home in the rain.
A parson refereeing a prize-fight---to say nothing of a Minister attending one! But it made me feel young again; brought back memories of those days when Dude Butler and Johnny Cannon and Johnny Eckert and I used to box. The dim wig-wam, the great ring, the glare of light above it, the ropes---and Gunner Moir, his great, splendid torso elaborately tattooed, like the savage he is---the savage is in us all!---throwing off his bathrobe and boxing with memories, too evidently, of departed glories---all so familiar, the lunging, shuffling, the heavy breathing, the bruised eye, the seconds with their bottles, sponges, towels, even the acrid odour of perspiration---and I was a boy again!
October 5, 1917.---A fine mess at Paris! Senator Humbert, who has been judging everybody mercilessly for years, criticizing everybody for everything, scolding, preaching, passing final judgments on every one at sight, now writing columns in Le Journal to exculpate himself, caught with 5,500,500 francs paid him by Bolo.
Pasha! Leon Daudet, the royalist ass, accuses Malvy, ex-minister of the interior and Socialist ass, of being a traitor!(9) Great row in the Chamber---and Viviani getting out of a scrape himself by apostrophizing the shades of Jaurés! France, alas, evidently rotten to the core, the physical filth one sees everywhere evidently symbolic of moral ditto. Poor France!
American francophiles meanwhile working up statue for Baudelaire, himself a filthy person. I suggest for the pedestal what Baudelaire said of America in his review of E. A. Poe's works.
October 13, 1917.---Dined tonight at Ansel's in the country; long and highly perilous drive in the dark-rain and lightning, and lorries, and motorcycles. Pleasant evening after all. Among the many there Maître Grandemaison, a young lawyer of Havre, very distinguished, very handsome, very young, with a delicate, sensitive face that showed suffering, for in the battle of [blank], early in the war, he was terribly wounded, has lost one leg at the hip and a hand is contorted; he was months in Germany as a prisoner. In the buttonhole of his dinner jacket the ribbon of the Croix de Guerre.
October 15, 1917.---De Leval arrived this morning, and I was very glad to see this good friend whom I had not seen since that autumn day in Brussels nearly two years ago. He had much to say of his voyage to America, much to say of Gibson, who, it seems is .... However, I have no time to think of Gibson. De Leval told me too that Hoover has never changed his feelings about the Belgians, and is still very bitter. Strange how such a big man could have such a weakness.
Sunday, October 21, 1917.---An English officer told me that an American transport had been sunk by a submarine and sixty-seven lives lost. This is the first. It is sad, but it was inevitable, of course, and how it will help the Liberty Loan!
October 22, 1917.---Wheeler arrived from London; he had seen an air raid there. He lunched with us, and afterwards drove with us to the ceremony of the giving of decorations, place Carnot, where Nicholson received his red ribbon and cross of the Legion of Honour from Didelot---and a kiss on each cheek. He bore it bravely and like a soldier. It was an impressive sight---the Guards, the Australians, English sailors and marines, French soldiers and marines, all about the square, bands, with fanfares and ruffles each time a decoration was given, and the "Marseillaise," "God Save the King"---"la Brabançonne" too. Afterwards a long dismal sad file of widows in mourning, and orphans, to receive the diplomas of the Croix de Guerre for their dead---a most pathetic and significant sight.
October 26, 1917.---Captain Priestley here, full of most interesting information privately conveyed to me after luncheon. He notes the difference, apparent to me, in the Belgians in and out of Belgium. Those inside have been ennobled and hardened by suffering; those outside are what they were before the war; like the Bourbons they have learned nothing and have forgotten nothing; the civilians in England, Belgian refugee civilians, have done the name of their nation incalculable harm. Priestley eager to know about Flemish movement, and I could tell him that it had literally made no progress in Belgium, quite the reverse indeed; he agreed; that was his information. But here it is not quite that good. Helleputte and others in the Government still terribly Flamigant. De Broqueville, Carton de Wiart, Renkin,(10) not so, but politicians with Flemish constituents. There has been a strong Flemish movement in the army, and a serious incident in the case of the priest who had carried on Flemish propaganda among the troops; two serious orders published against his propaganda and he broken and sent away. When he went two soldiers escorted him. Since, the orders have been withdrawn and are kept secret. Other incidents of soldiers declaring they would fire in the air if orders were not given in Flemish. Much of the trouble due to the fact that Belgian soldiers have no distraction; their only relief is in political discussion. No Y.M.C.A. for instance, and the morale of British troops much better, much higher now than it was in 1914, due wholly to the work of the Y.M.C.A.
And France? Seething in corruption of the worst sort---reaching up to the Palace of the Elysée. Poincaré said to have had Mme. Bolo as mistress; who is one of two women the Government would like to silence; the other was Mata Hari, whom they shot. Malvy, says Priestley, undoubtedly guilty---dares not take up Daudet's challenge or pursue him. The whole Government dare not seek an investigation of the Almereyda-Bolo affair.(11) Humbert, he says, as bad as any. New arrests yesterday, Lenoir and Desoucheso-Lenoir's mistresses figuring prominently in the newspapers---one of them Mme. Alexandre, quite important. Briand has for mistress Princess of --------. Caillaux has a mistress, too, who threatened trouble with Mme. Caillaux, and a scandal worse than the first expected to break out any day. Meanwhile the whole thing is affecting the morale of the troops---though they fight desperately and are even now winning great victories.
Sunday, October 28, 1917.---The first American communiqué issued today---our men at last in the trenches.
The long telegram from Washington contained a message sent by the President to the King, in response to an appeal, and I am instructed to lose no opportunity to inform the Belgian Government the extent of American interest in revictualing and to put an end to criticism coming from Belgians.(12)
The Louderback, camouflaged American ship, arrived in port the other day after a hard fight with a submarine. The submarine lay off and fired at 10,000 yards, out of range of Louderback's guns, which carried only 5,500 yards. Submarine fired 125 shots, of which nine struck. Several men wounded. The American destroyer Nicholson came in response to S.O.S. and drove off the submarine, which dived.
November 1, 1917.---Went to see de Broqueville, talked of the revictualing in an effort to reach a better understanding; seemed indeed to have succeeded, although de Broqueville is such a good politician that he always lets one depart with the idea that one has succeeded. Discussed also the question of Belgian orphans, raised in dispatch from Department the other day. His idea was that the work would better be carried on in Switzerland than to undertake the impracticable and terrifying voyage across the sea. We talked also of the decorations for the C.R.B.---they are to be forthcoming soon. I said that Kellogg must have one and de Broqueville agreed.
The affairs in Italy--- Oh la! la! la! A perfect débâcle! It will either end the war at once or indefinitely prolong it.(13)
Bathhurst to Captain Brown:
"I see you scratched your boots with your spurs."
Brown, bristling up: "Well, I don't scratch my boots any more than any other officer."
"But why do you wear them at all? As you are always in an office; do you have to use them on the waste-basket?"
Brown, fuming: "But I ride often."
"That's just the trouble; you might hurt your horse."
Bathhurst (Captain Sir Hervey, eleventh baronet, and so forth, typically English, and very clever) is in charge of docks. Irate Colonel of American regiment, Colonel in long rain coat to his heels, like a shroud, and in round spectacles, very important, with regiment just landed, very irate because Bathhurst told him to go to a certain camp.
Colonel: "Am I not in command here?"
Bathhurst: "Yes, if you can get any one to listen to your commands, but I don't know who's going to obey you; I'm sure I'm not."
Later a young American officer confidentially said to Bathhurst:
"Don't pay any attention to him, Sir. He thinks he's God Almighty's Field Marshal, but he's only a school teacher at home."
The fog comes in at the open windows; one can smell it---and the ships in the harbour hoot dismally.
November 9, 1917.---One of the darkest, bluest days I have known since the wretched war began. The news in the morning papers all bad: Italians falling back on the Piave, and hot foot for the Adige, if not already there, and Venice evacuated, or might as well be. And in Petrograd, the miserable criminal villains of the Soviet in power,(14) having overthrown the poor semblance of a government that had been kept alive by the weak, loquacious Kerensky.
November 14, 1917.---This morning a note from Vandevyvere saying that the fourteen Congressmen now touring Europe are to be received by the King tomorrow at La Panne, and that His Majesty wished me to be there. What a prospect! Nothing to be done! Took my doggies for their walk---and at two Vandevyvere and I were off in a big Rolls Royce, on our trip of over 300 kilometres. Reached Eu at dark, and only half way .... The little villages in the blackness---in one a company of English soldiers, in helmets, their cigarettes glowing in the night. They are singing. We dash by. "They are going up to the trenches," says Vandevyvere. Depressing that early darkness, those silent, dark towns, the long convoys, the big lorries labouring in the mud .... As we rush along through the darkness there are on either side grotesque gothic arches---the forest---and before us always a grey wall. Now and then the lights of another motor send long streams of light up to the sky. It is very foggy. St.-Ouen, now daily bombarded by aëroplanes, in total darkness, save that at long intervals along the streets, there are lamp posts with ghastly greenish-blue shades---most lugubrious, and the English soldiers in khaki almost lost in the darkness.
November 15, 1917.---The sun---and the Flemish fields around all sweet like spring, though the colours now are all of autumn. And overhead aëroplanes humming---and the thud of the guns. Went alone for a long walk, and loafed about until 3:30 in the afternoon, and then off in a military motor, with an armed adjutant of gendarmes on the box, for the King's. Of late the whole country has been bombed almost constantly by aëroplanes; Dunkirk has been almost destroyed; it is bombarded daily, all the evening we had talked of it; once 600 men were killed there; the city is almost evacuated of its population, only about 2,000 remain. Yesterday at Adinkerke two women and an officer, in a motor, were killed by an aviator's bomb. Yesterday at La Panne seventeen Guides were killed in the same way . . . . We drove off towards Adinkerke; muddy roads, choked with troops, many French, mostly Belgians, and with long convoy trains---past an aviation camp there in the mud, most desolate; many motor lorries in the ditch. It was dark when we reached the King's; the white, impressive façade of a great farm house, mansion, rather, a country house, looming before us---"The Moens" as it is called in Flemish, "The Moors" in English. Guards at the gate.
There was the King again, tall, handsome, strong, hard as nails, ruddy, very simple in khaki. He was glad to see me; it was a fête day, and I felicitated him. We sat down; conversed long in English and in French; that is, he began in English, slid off into French. Asked at once about Colonel House, remembered his visit; "he was accompanied by his secretary, Mr. Clifford Carver"; the King has a wonderful memory! Then he spoke of the telegrams exchanged between himself and the President, hoped all the troubles in the C.R.B. had been settled; hoped Hoover would not desert them nor take too hard little things that men might thoughtlessly say; evidently wished Hoover mollified; he had sent Hoover his portrait, a letter, and so on. (Hoover, though accepting the Legion of Honour, had rather contemptuously rejected the desire of the Belgian Government to decorate him and members of the C.R.B.) and developed again his theme of desiring to secure American friendship. I spoke of the bitter feeling on Vandevyvere's part; he said he would allay it, speak to Vandevyvere---and Vandevyvere just then being announced, he did so, at once, in my presence.
We chatted at length about all sorts of things; the King said that life at La Panne had become untenable; a bomb had fallen even in the yard at "The Moors" the other day; he deprecated the bombing of Bruges by the British, saying the Belgians get it on both sides.
The fourteen Congressmen were late. --- "Perhaps the British have stolen them from us," the King said. But no, they were announced.
We arose, Vandevyvere and I taking our positions on the King's left, I ready to present my fellow countrymen. We were all ready; the door opened---and there in the doorway a huddle of men, dressed like farmers ready for corn-husking in the fields---rubber boots, leggings, sweaters, old caps, clothes faded, unbrushed, wrinkled, distinctly old, flannel shirts, and so on, they were all unshaven, uncombed---a sorry lot! They walked at once right up to His Majesty, never halting, never bowing, never waiting for a presentation, the first, a young man, yellow hair, round, smug, Middle West evangelical type, holding out his hand and saying, "How do you do; glad to meet you." And he introduced the others. I heard such words as Montana, of Washington, of Dakota. One old man held the King's hand long, pumped it up and down, made a speech; I could just catch snatches, such as---"one who so nobly"---"great shame" --- "great honour" --- "liberty" --- "democracy" --- "the world," and so on.
There was a long table set out for tea, and footmen behind it. The King asked them to have tea---"or wine"---"or are you teetotallers?" he asked .... They had heard who I was, crowded about me, all very hearty, good-natured, and flattering. There were two groups, shifting; mine and His Majesty's. They all wished to hear about the atrocities, and repeated the stories they had heard reflecting on the Belgians, so that I had to go deeply into that, and defend my friends---save those who ran away to England. I had to appeal to de Ceuninck(15) to help me out with figures; de Ceuninck speaks no English, and we spoke French. "What's that you're talking," asked one Congressman, "French, or Belgian?" Another looked the King over and up and down, and when he had finished his inspection, said: "Well, every inch a King, and there's lot of 'em"---meaning lots of inches .... Another said to me: "I reckon you're mighty homesick. Why don't you go home?" I told him that I thought this was no time for any one to be away from his post; and besides that I had an ambition-to go back to Brussels with the King. "Well," he shouted, "we'll send 'em both back. Shake on that!" And he grasped the hand of the astonished Vandevyvere.
They gathered in a group around the King, and if they didn't slap him on the back, they might as well have done so, there was no lack of familiarity. And the King enjoyed it; I never saw him so animated, and everybody in his entourage said that he hadn't had so much pleasure in a long time!
They went finally, and the King asked me to stay a moment. We chatted. He said: "They're strong men, used to grappling with problems, with nature's forces." And he asked why McCormick hadn't come. I had to make some explanation that would cover McCormick's boorishness---after insisting twice on being presented, and I had arranged the audience, he calmly wrote me he had changed his mind!---I told His Majesty that he had only been spared a fatigue, that McCormick amounted to nothing---nothing.
"My respects to your wife," he said---and I was off in the dark for the ride back to Sternbourg.
General Millis dined with us at the château this evening. Stories of atrocities all evening.
November 16, 1917.---All ready to start back to Havre with Vandevyvere at 9:20 this morning, when telephone message came from Nell saying that there was a dispatch from London saying Colonel House would be in Paris Monday, that she would motor there today, and meet me at the Meurice this evening. So de Broqueville arranged for a motor to take me on to Paris from Abbeville. Vandevyvere and I drove there; Vandevyvere really most intelligent; explained the Flemish question to me most charmingly; it is all a social question; French being the language of the snobs in Belgium in the minds of the Flemish poor, and so on. We discussed the Flemish question last night, Vandevyvere, de Broqueville, and I . . . . We reached Abbeville, where the car to take me on to Paris was to meet us; lunched at the Tête de Boeuf, typical French provincial hotel, vilely dirty, and on the ragoût they served the largest cockroach I had ever seen, dead---but not a bite could 1 eat after that. Vandevyvere and I went out and inspected the old church, then the motor came .... It was after two when we left, bidding good-bye to Vandevyvere. It was dark long before we reached Beauvais, where we had tea, excellent pâtisserie, and reached Paris at eight o'clock.
November 17, 1917.---Clemenceau is the new premier of France!
Newspapers full of it this morning.(16) Shopping all morning, and lunch at Café de Paris. Willards are here from Madrid, left cards on them at their apartment, avenue de Montaigne, and then called on our "dear colleagues" the Sharps. Received us in salon to which after three [years] of residence they bear no possible relation; they might as well live in the public "parlour" of an hotel.... Sharp swinging in; tails of long frock coat balancing, and trousers caught on one unbuttoned shoe; forgetting my manners, my eye must have wandered to it, for he explained that he had had an attack of phlebitis. Nothing to say---save Sharp's blowing.
Sunday, November 18, 1917.---Dined tonight at the Blisses---thirteen at table. Alphonse Dumont,, new Swiss minister to Paris, there with his wife; much talk about the riots at Zurich. Widor, the composer, the Schellings, Admiral Niblack of our Navy there. Dull time was had by all.
November 21, 1917.---Edith Wharton and Walter Berry came to tea with us .... Pershing and staff evidently making bad impression socially.
Nell, Lewis, and I dined at Café de Paris---it is crowded with American officers.
November 22, 1917.---I do enjoy my morning with my little dogs in the Tuileries, and so do they. It is about all I do enjoy in Paris---these ancient glories of France, these beauties of the Tuileries, the long vista from the Louvre to the Arch, Versailles and all that, the memories of other days and of books, the literature of France, these, and the language, are the best of a nation that has many glaring faults, and is the most conceited, the most self-centered, selfish, stingy, dirty, and immoral on earth. Paris is changed; the same reckless gaiety, the same je m'en fichism, the same love of scandal---the Bolos and others occupy more space in the newspapers, they and their mistresses, than the war. The city is full of embusqués; it wastes prodigiously, goes about its feverish pleasure as ever-one wonders why those men, those very brave men in the trenches, endure it. Yesterday---or was it the day before?---Clemenceau made his début in the Chamber. I should like to have been there, but would not ask Sharp for a ticket. He has not even left a card on me.
The English are better, the best ordered of all. I was quite right when I said to Romain Rolland, last spring at Villeneuve, when he asked me why we Americans loved Frenchmen so and disliked Englishmen, "it is because we do not know the French." And that is true! Americans pretend to hate the English and to love the French; and the better they know the English the more they like them; the better they know the French, the less they like them. When this war ends, if it ever does, which seems unlikely, the Americans and French will detest each other. This morning---which was what I set out to say---the newspapers announce the splendid victory of the English at Cambrai, under General Byng.(17) What will not the American paragraphers and funny men do with that name!
The cafés are full of Americans---"opening," as they would say, champagne. And the streets are full of Red Cross "officers" in uniforms as much like the English as possible.
November 23, 1917.---Took my walk in the Tuileries, and, having read in morning papers that --- arrived last night, telephoned over to the Crillon for appointment, and was told to come at five.
Walked to Spaldings, and as I was coming back there was himself! He had Gordon Auchincloss... with him, and an officer; was most cordial, took my arm, said "let's take a walk" and we did. He wished to know about my book; said Gerard had sold his outright for $100,000. Said I should have had twice that. We went to the Crillon, where the mission is installed, the American flag flying from the roof-and there we talked for an hour---so that I had literally to run back to the Meurice and dress like a lightning-change artist to get to Edith Wharton's for luncheon, and there I was I am afraid to set down how many minutes late. Mrs. Bernard Berenson there.
Went to call on the Blisses and the Willards. Not in----so Madame Bliss said.
Went to keep my appointment with ----------- -----------(18) We had a long and pleasant talk. He was down on Gibson, said he was not loyal to me; which was no news to me and made no difference anyhow. He was even harder on Hoover; asked about him particularly; said he had got it into his head to be Republican candidate for President. I told him that that meant nothing, that in America, the moment a man had his first political success, even though he had just been elected to the Legislature, his friends instantly spoke of him as a presidential candidate. "I was spoken of for President the first time I was elected mayor," I said. But he said that the C.R.B. was being made into a machine, that the members kept the incense pot swinging, and that Hoover, if successful, would be a candidate; if unsuccessful would throw the onus on the President. I told him that while Hoover had had so much praise that some of it had undoubtedly gone to his head, I did not consider him capable of any such treachery.
Had met Colby in the morning; met Colonel Boyd in the afternoon, and Frederick Palmer. Asked Boyd about Colby---he said that there was nothing against Colby's honour, character, or ability as a soldier, that he was doubtless a good officer, but that Pershing didn't like him, that was all, and that therefore he couldn't be in the army. In other words, now as always, no one but West Pointers need apply. Most of our regular officers that I have seen over here, in comparison with the English and French officers, so far as mere manners go, are what Bern Daily used to call "rough-necks." They are somewhat out of place in Paris with their manners of the Southwestern border. "It is a pity," as Woog said, "that anything so serious as the war has to be conducted by military men."...
I had hoped to go back to Havre tomorrow, for I have been away too long; Paris tires and bores me, and the prices are ruinous (I long for a quiet place in the country), but ------ ------ asked me to wait over another day.
Palmer had asked us to dine with him tonight at some restaurant in the rue Richelieu, but I evidently did not catch the name as he pronounced it; he speaks English as though his mouth were crammed with mush, and when he essays French it is beyond the power of mortal ear to comprehend. We hunted up and down rue Richelieu, Nell and I; no such place, as he pronounced it, to be found, so wearily and wisely back here for dinner.
November 24, 1917.---Walked again with the dogs in the Tuileries, lovely beyond words in a silvery fog; a charming grisaille everywhere one turned. These walks in the gardens have been the best of this crowded week.
Went to call on Joseph Reinach, Polybe of the Figaro; enormous, luxurious house in the avenue van Dyke, distinctly Jewish style; left to cool my heels for half an hour, then received by Polybe sitting on a dais, or throne of Solomon, at a great desk, in a noble library. I, sitting as it were at his feet, listening to the flood of wisdom, and wondering why I had ever been such a consummate ass as to come at all.
At 4:30 went with Nell to the Crillon, she to call on Mrs. House, I on the Colonel. He asked me to go driving with him, and we went in a big motor---two poilus on the box, drove out the Champs Elysées, and through the Bois in the swiftly enveloping twilight, a beautiful scene, and a charming drive, long to be remembered. We talked---I know not what---then returning went for a walk, and got lost in the darkness, and had a wonderful time. He told me the President would soon pronounce against the economic war, and so forth.
Sunday, November 5, 1917.---Cold, and a west wind. After giving all my money to the Meurice, we were off at 9:45 for Havre. Went without incident to a little village six kilometres east of Rouen; passing Van Schaick and wife in a Ford, en route. Strange sight to see on a road in France! Before us, a man on a bicycle, wobbling, zigzagging from one side to the other of the road; we were going slowly enough, and François blew his horn furiously; but I had a feeling that an accident was inevitable, and looked on, half sick, and sure enough, François veered and the bicyclist pitched of course the wrong way; there was a muddle of man and machine then---bump---bump---two thuds-and the motor stopped. Sick at heart, got out; the man was lying in the road, yelling lustily. Ran to him---his trousers torn; and he crying with pain.
No one had been in sight; but now suddenly, the whole village came running, and gathered around us, ignorant, dirty French peasants, with the despicable virtue of the mob everywhere, ready to slay us. We got the poor man into the motor, a peasant mounted the box with François and off they went toward Rouen. The mob gathered round, began to menace, to question---all very loudly, superior, moral, incapable of evil themselves, or of mistakes; and filled with class hatred too. Demanded my name. "What right have you to demand my name?" I asked---but told them---and, anxious to get away from the sickening scene, and the stinking peasants we walked on toward Rouen, in the face of the raw wind, Nell, Marie, Kinnie, Tai Taï and I---the dogs delighted with the walk, and the chance to run.
Van Schaick in the despised Ford overtook us, and we piled in, and drove into Rouen. Met François returning; had taken man to Bon Secours, Hôpital Belge---clever François! to have a Belgian doctor examine him before the French doctors could conspire in exaggerating his injuries. François said the doctor thought the poor devil's leg was broken.
November 30, 1917.---Last night late a note from Sir Francis saying that his youngest son had just been killed in action. Wrote him and this afternoon Nell and I went to see him. Poor man! Quite pathetic, and broken, but brave---British. The boy was in the Cambrai battle and was instantly killed.
Had the customary walk this morning, and lunched with Colonel Bruce in his house at rue St.-Quentin.... Then Mrs. Churchill, wife of the British consul, and Mme. Carton de Wiart, with great drama to relate: painted lady at a sale they held yesterday; Mrs. Churchill spoke to her, told her to leave; now develops that the painted lady is stenographer at the American consulate, and Osborne has demanded apology. What rot and nonsense!
But ------, in the course of a chat we had, told me that a year and a half ago, Hoover induced the British Government to ask the Belgian Government to demand my recall, on the ground that I was not strong enough, or firm enough, or something. ------... had seen the letters, and so on. Belgian Government had indignantly refused to do any such thing, and Villalobar, whose advice was asked, had written a letter in which he handled Hoover without gloves, and spoke of me... as a gentleman. I said nothing in reply to ----- except to say that it was of no importance. Thinking it over, I recall that at that troubled time, Hoover had come, one day, with Richards, and protested that he was concerned in no movement against me. The thing was more likely the work of Gibson---not that that makes any difference either...
December 6, 1917.---Sir Francis here for luncheon.
Nell and I went for a long walk at Ste.-Adresse.
Met Garrett---more of bad news of the English mess at Cambrai---"regrettable incident," he said, another blunder, surprised and a great slaughter with fifty tanks lost.
Lady Paget here to tea. She gloomy; thought the outlook wholly desperate. England could hold out no longer; France done for, and so on.
It is indeed a dark hour, and no light anywhere, and no prospect of any. Clemenceau may fall unless he can convict Malvy and Caillaux---and this he can't do, because Caillaux has too thoroughly corrupted French politics---controls too many seats, and all the prefects.(19)
December 8, 1917.---The soft, mild weather continues. Walking with Kinnie and Taï Taï on the hill by the fort this morning; two soldiers came out, one a big territorial, in blue uniform, gesticulating---talking, like a pot-house politician, a blatherskite, a Socialist no doubt. "Look now how the English and the Americans come; naturally they are the only champions of the right! They come---and we will never rid ourselves of them! They will stay always! But, I don't care! I, you know, I earn neither more nor less than before! My life is the same. Let them shoot me if they wish! Before the war, it was 'made in Germany,' after the war, it will be, 'made in England.' That's all! That's the war for you!"
And America almost maudlin over the French! And our boys, our splendid boys, with a high ideal in their hearts, coming over here to throw away their lives.
Sunday, December 9, 1917.---Rain all the day; Nell and I went for a walk with the dogs this morning, all of us, including the dogs, in rain coats, and I went alone for another walk this afternoon. The Henrotins here to luncheon; we may lease their house. That is well.
Swift came back from Paris last night. He had seen Colonel House, who sent me cheering messages. "I know who his friends are, better than he does," he said---with much else besides.
How clear much of last year's mystery grows! Gibson at the bottom of it, of course, and Green involved---and finally---Hoover! Were Francqui and Villalobar right? About Gibson, surely, perhaps about Hoover. Oh, for a place in the country, far off, away from it all---with my wife and my dogs and my books!
December 13, 1917.---The long accusation against Caillaux is published this morning. He made a pitiful figure in the tribune yesterday from the accounts in the newspapers. It sounded like the weak bluff of a guilty man. And how contemptible human nature! Two days ago no one dared speak of Caillaux above a whisper; the newspapers were all afraid; now, everybody boldly denounces him!
December 25, 1917.---Christmas, with weather soft and mild, and a ray of sun now and then. Nell and I walking on the beach with the dogs all morning. Miss Alexander of New York, a Y.M.C.A. worker, here for luncheon, as was Lewis. A bright girl. Walked to Ste.-Adresse alone this afternoon. We had a reception and tea for the Americans---there were many here, officers and Red Cross men, and so on. Nicholson, too, good old boy---the best of them---and the Carton de Wiarts.
The ridiculous crisis in the Belgian cabinet is at last ended. Dc Broqueville remains premier, but will have a new portfolio. Minister of National Reconstruction; Hymans becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs; Poullet will take over temporarily the ministry of economic reconstruction; Emile Brancx, Socialist, becomes Minister without portfolio ....
The Belgian Government will send a reply to the Pope's peace note, couched in terms identical with those employed in replying to the President's peace note of a year ago.
December 26, 1917.---General Harbord telegraphs asking to have me arrange for General Pershing, who is to be at British headquarters Saturday, received by the King and allowed to visit Belgian headquarters Friday. Rather short notice to give any one---especially a King! It is embarrassing to have to make the request with such a short time allowed.
Nicholson in South Africa had 10,000 men under him and 28 nurses, and the 28 nurses gave him more trouble than the 10,000 men. They were always quarreling as to who should have the honour of pouring tea in the afternoon, and the row grew bitter ---the M. O. could not settle it, nor the P. M. O. Finally it was officially referred to Nicholson, who indorsed the paper in red ink, "Let the oldest serve the tea."
December 28, 1917.---Nell and I lunched with Nicholson, then drove, in my car unfortunately, to Etretât for the musical comedy given by the Americans there for the wounded. It was written by Lieutenant Douglas Stuart, of the British Army, and he played the principal part---kept it all going by his fun. The English "chauffeurettes" were all as beautiful as Gaiety girls---and the American nurses were almost as pretty. We had a good laugh and a good time altogether. Driving home, we had reached Osteville, when the motor broke down---a serious stoppage, all François' fault, for he had first allowed to freeze and then overheated his engine. But in the house where we asked for water, there was a kindly man with "un Ford," the inevitable and ubiquitous Ford, who drove us all into Bléville, whence we came by train to town, and sat down to dinner at 8:45.
December 29, 1917.---Lunched at noon at the Cercle, for the first time since I was made a member. Had a pleasant time, met an interesting Captain in the French army who has been training American soldiers in one of the camps. He was most enthusiastic over them.
Everybody dreading the German offensive---and there seems to be some wabbling in France, not in the army. The English, of course, are unmoved.
One reads every day of the progress of the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk---the most shameful thing in history, and an example, one could hope, of Socialism.(20) To see Czernin sitting down with Socialists to discuss with a pretense of seriousness terms of peace is a sight to make high heaven weep! One would think the German and Austrian delegates would feel some humiliation. And yet why shouldn't they sit at table? 'What better camaraderie? Aren't militarism and socialism both "made in Germany"?
But Germany plays with fire---the flames she lighted in her incendiary deviltry on her neighbours' premises may spread to her own home---will inevitably, in their own time and way.