The international scene during 1921 was filled with confusion, and Whitlock's eyes were fastened upon it rather than upon events in Belgium. The withdrawal of the American Government from world affairs, and its separate treaties with Germany and Austria; the efforts of France to dominate the Continent, and her support of the Polish leaders after the Germans carried the plebiscite in Upper Silesia; the Sinn Fein disorders in Ireland---all this he watched with disgust. The one bright event of the year was the opening of the Washington Conference, in which he assisted Belgium to find satisfactory representation. For some months after Harding's inauguration he and his Belgian friends hoped that he would be retained in Brussels; but as 1921 closed he was making his farewells and preparing to depart.
February 2, 1921.---At 12:30 to see Vandervelde, to give him the Red Cross medal. I have toiled for months distributing those damned Red Cross medals, for which, and rightly, nobody cares. He was at luncheon, and the butler was impudent, said that I was late and could not see the Minister, I should have been here before 12:30; but I ordered him to go at once and tell the Minister that the American Ambassador was here---and the knave went. A Socialist Minister and a Socialist butler, putting on such airs! Vandervelde came out at once, and I gave him the medal. I told him that I should not detain him, as I knew that nothing annoyed a Belgian more than to be interrupted at his meals; he said, "Oh, I am not Belgian; I am an international."
We chatted a moment, sitting by a table in a cold antechamber, he having his elbow on the table, placing his hands to his long ears, and presenting that curious Mephistophelian countenance which he wears. He is, however, very pleasant, and extraordinarily smart and clever; has really a great intelligence. He said that the state of Europe was deplorable, and almost desperate; that in Russia anarchy reigned, tempered only by despotism; that Lenin and Trotsky had fallen out; that Lenin would inevitably be pushed aside and put down by the "better man"---the old, old story; that he knew all the Communist leaders, that there is not one of them who is intelligent, that Communism is an absurdity. I said that the love of property, of owning things, would never be eradicated from man, and he said that of course it wouldn't, that it was absurd to think of such a thing. With which admission, thought I, your whole Socialist doctrine goes by the board. But I said nothing, but let him go back to his luncheon, and left.
February 3, 1921.---Thomas in to see me today to tell me of an interesting letter he has just received from our military attaché at Madrid concerning Villalobar. The writer says that Villalobar's salary is 20,000 pesetas per annum, that he receives 50,000 pesetas each year for entertaining, and 7,250 pesetas for his expenses. That when he was made Ambassador there was a great outcry in the Spanish press, which accused him of all sorts of things, especially of feathering his own nest wherever he went, and that he is to be made Ambassador to one of the Central Powers, or else to be recalled from Brussels or retired directly the royal visit to Spain is over. So much for our military attaché's gossip from Madrid; I do not believe the story that he is to be recalled.
Turned out at ten o'clock tonight to go to the French Embassy, where there was a great crush, music and dancing, and the de Margeries flying higher than ever. Whatever may be said of the middle classes of society, the Belgian nobility and the high society do not resent de Margerie's interference in Belgian affairs. Too bored to stay long in that atmosphere of insincerity, we came away in half an hour.
February 7, 1921.---Lyon told me two good stories on Curzon. During the war, with a commission of some sort, he was being shown over the front; he was frightfully bored, but when showed the bathing facilities for the men he perked up and was interested. The men were bathing in brewer's vats, and after watching them awhile, Curzon remarked, "I am astonished to find that the lower classes have such white skins."
Again, one Sunday he called up his private secretary on the telephone; the private secretary's wife answered and said that her husband was not there, had gone to play golf, or some such thing. The next day Curzon said to the private secretary:
"I called you on the telephone yesterday, and was answered by one whose voice indicated her to be a female menial of the class that one finds in houses like yours."
February 15, 1921.---At 10:30 with Nell to the Palais des Académies to attend the formal session on the occasion of the opening of the Académie Française de Belgique. The King and Queen were there, and the diplomatic corps, and a vast, and as it turned out, an heroically patient audience. The very words "solemn séance" fill me with terror and gloom; there were all the members of the Royal Academy, in redingote and the rosettes of their decorations; all solemn, old, dull, not one ray or spark of humour .... De Margerie sat beside me, sneering at them; Grahame was bored to death; Villalobar went to sleep, and let his high hat fall with a loud bang and clatter; but it ended finally, to our vast, immeasurable relief.
Sunday, February 20, 1921.---The Duke of York is coming to town this week, to present His Majesty with the flying cross. Grahame has arranged a ceremony for Friday afternoon, at the British Embassy, at which His Royal Highness is to decorate a number of Belgians, Max among them, and incidentally to present to me the piece of plate which His Majesty's Government is to give me for my services, and so on. It is really most embarrassing, for while it is only a cup, this "piece of plate" in the American newspapers will swell to the proportions of a dinner service, and, what with the change of Administrations just at this time, and the Irish blatherskites, and the politicians, frothing at the mouth with hunger, it will be a sad day for me.
February 26, 1921.---I met de Margerie, and he kindly promised to telegraph to Paris and get Cambon or some one of the Academy to send a telegram to New York for the memorial service the American Academy is to hold next Tuesday in honour of dear Mr. Howells. Garland had written me months or weeks ago, asking me to have the Belgian Academy send some message, and I had seen Van Zype about it, and he had promised, but never did anything, though I wrote to remind him several times. Yesterday I had another letter from Garland, and then for the first time understood that he wished and expected me to arrange with the French Academy as well. I got Mme. Carton to help and Carton is sending a message by cable on behalf of the Belgian Government, and if de Margerie succeeds, all will be well.
Hoover has accepted the post of Secretary of Commerce, rather a comedown for one who was going to be President. He will have a row in the Cabinet, or with Harding, and be out of office and opposing Harding within a year.
Sunday, February 27, 1921.---Dispatches in the newspapers from Washington say that Congress has voted to buy Embassies and Legations at ten posts, Brussels included, but of course they couldn't do it properly, for they have provided that the cost shall be charged against the indebtedness of the country to the United States!
March 1, 1921.---I am reading an amazing book, Moby Dick, or the White Whale, by Herman Melville, an American, who wrote and published it at New York in 1851, as The White Whale, or Moby Dick. It is one of the finest sea stories ever written, it has all the mystery, all the fascination, the very secret of the sea. Curious, too, it is, with long philosophizings, and almost scientific treatises on whales and whale-fishing, but a breathless tale of adventure at the same time. It might have been written in collaboration by Joseph Conrad, R. L. Stevenson, Carlyle, Shakespeare, and old Gus Wright, the whaleman I knew as a boy.
March 3, 1921.---I am rapt away from everything in that wonderful book Moby Dick. Nell is reading a bright American book, Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis; reads me a passage now and then; it is a picture of the awful provincialism of the Middle West, amusing to those who don't know how depressing it all is, and all too terribly true! We are reading, too, Buckle and Monypenny's Disraeli...
Lloyd George has given the German's until next Monday to accept the Allied terms, in default of which the Allies will advance and occupy various bridgeheads and waters. This would delight the French, who wish to get into the valley of the Ruhr.
March 5, 1921.---Read the President's inaugural address in the Paris New York Herald. It is, as one would naturally suspect, rather vague, but reflects the Senate view on the peace treaty, and enunciates the "American" doctrine that there is to be no entanglement in foreign affairs, while qualifying this view with the assertion that America is always ready to do her duty, and so forth. It is a pronouncement that leaves the way open for any course that the new Administration desires to take. There is some cant in it, and those phrases of axiomatic sound, enunciating principles that no one contests. It is curiously written, in a style almost baffling at times; is laboured, and was evidently intended to be a piece of fine writing; but it shows that the author has no well-grounded knowledge of English, no distinction of thought, and is not acquainted with good English, or classical standards, in short, it is not the product of a cultivated mind. There is some emotion in it, and much sentimentality; country editors and evangelical preachers will consider it a great piece of literature: but in England, for instance, among the best circles, it would excite amusement. It is not the emanation of a trained mind, but it is plain that its author was impressed when he laboured it; the best of it is that it shows a lot of good feeling, an evident desire to do the right thing, and for one perplexed as the new President must be in the midst of the awful confusion in which the world finds itself, and appalled by the insistence of so many problems, it is perhaps as good as any. The thing that disturbs one's taste is the awful English in which it is written, not the bad English of a man who doesn't quite know how to use the language, but the English of one straining after effect and not quite certain of what he wishes to say.
In the midst of all the happy ceremonial, the most interesting figure is the pathetic and tragic silhouette of Wilson, already shadowy in eclipse, and yet somehow grand and dominating.
March 7, 1921.---The Conference at London was broken up by the refusal of the boche to comply with the Allied demands, and the German towns are to be occupied. The Belgian Government has decided that it will participate in the occupation to the extent of a regiment of infantry, a group of artillery, and a squadron of. cavalry. The French, of course, will be delighted by this chance of executing their darling project of occupying the valley of the Ruhr, and perhaps, eventually, Frankfort-am-Main, though what practical gain they will secure is difficult to estimate. The worst feature of the situation is the persistent evidence of bad faith on the part of, the boche. Tonight the Allied guns are rumbling over the bridges across the Rhine, and Europe is in as sadly unsettled a state as in 1914. All that prevents a general war is fatigue and demoralization, which may easily lead to the far darker and more dismal state of anarchy.
March 22, 1921.---This evening we dined with Villalobar. He had Mrs. MacCallum, daughter of General Sherman, and her daughter there, and one of his attachés. After dinner we went to the Theatre du Parc, to see Maeterlinck's play Le Bourgemestre de Stilmonde, an excellent performance of a remarkable play. I have never seen a piece more perfectly constructed; in that respect it is a consummate work of art, though the piece was written, of course, as propaganda. It is, too, terribly true! I felt---Nell and Villalobar felt ---as if we were all going through, living again, that horrible nightmare!
March 23, 1921.---I have been trying to write on my novel, and am sick with discouragement. The story slips through my fingers, and devilish doubts assail and torture me every minute that I write. They say: "That is not good; that is not the way to do it; why don't you try it this way? Give it up, give it up, silly man, you can't do it!" It is horrible, horrible.
March 24, 1921.---Loveliest of lovely spring days... but very much downhearted over my story; I have decided that I shall have to give it up, entirely; it is not good---and I can't make it good. The truth is that as a novelist I am an impostor and a fraud; I have no creative power, no imagination, no inventive faculty. My poor little ideas all lack that element of intensity which forms the life-matter of a story; I mean that conflict, that struggle, that makes a dilemma, a difficulty, that trouble which is the very essence and condition of life. In sailing a boat, one feels the sail tug one way and pushes the helm another, and the boat goes forward; in flying (I suppose) there is something of the same thing, there must be a resisting element, without which the airship falls to the earth. My poor efforts at a novel lack all that, and so the boat stops and the aëroplane falls. Ah me!
March 28, 1921.---A letter from Rutger Jewett indicates, as all the newspaper dispatches for a week have indicated, that "Colonel" George Harvey is to be Ambassador to the Court of St. James's. To think of Harvey being Ambassador to England!
This afternoon went to the Musée Ancien, and spent an hour in at the old masters---who were masters indeed---there looking again But the crowd was horrid; as it is always .... Then to the Cercle Artistique and had another look at Vogel's paintings; they are excellent and gain each time one sees them; a fine artist, he. But here there was a crowd too, so I came away and meeting Hymans walked up the boulevard with him, gossiping, about Lansing's articles, now appearing in the Times, and about Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and others whose names any mention of the Peace Conference suggests. Hyrnans thinks Lansing's comments quite judicious, and so do I. But he doesn't like Lansing; no more do I. He thinks Wilson made a mistake in coming to Europe; so do I, and knew as much before he came. He---Hymans---likes Colonel House, so do I; thinks -------- ------- vulgar, so do I; thinks --- an insufferable puppy: so do I. In fact we quite agreed on all points, even that at five o'clock we must separate and go home to tea; which I did accordingly, and have since spent two hours clearing off my desk.
March 29, 1921.---This afternoon to the Matinée at the Theatre Parc to see the Comédie Française play Ruy Blas. Alas and alas!
It was appalling. In the first place the romanticism of that doddering old fool of a Victor Hugo is nauseating; then the Comédie Française is a vast, an immense humbug. I never see it without remarking that it is about up to the standard of the stock company that used to play in Toledo twenty years or more ago at ten, twenty, and thirty cents; and this particular piece is almost as good as the old English melodramas that I used to gape at from the gallery of the People's Theatre when I was a boy; not, indeed, as convincing as they, nor as true to life. And then such ranting and roaring and bellowing, and tearing a speech to tatters was never heard since old Dan Boardman's day. I never go there without vowing that I shall not go again---yet there I was!
April 1, 1921.---The newspapers full of King Charles' dash for his Hungarian throne. Rather hard to make head or tail of this business, but one has a kind of sneaking sympathy with him, and no doubt the land would be as well off under him as under some Czechoslovak group.
Sunday, April 3, 1921.---Charles, it appears, has failed; the Hungarian National Assembly very wisely voted to have none of him, and he is to return to Switzerland. Le Figaro is furious; what French skulduggery was there behind that King?
April 5, 1921.---The Phillipses are in town; he to call at tea-time, and very pleasant and agreeable. Talked much of Lansing's new book, which he finds in doubtful taste, as I do. He said that he hoped that I would be retained at this post; I didn't tell him that I was quite sure that I should not be. He anxious to remain at The Hague, but uncertain. He, Grew, Gibson, Jay, and Dodge, "service men," had not resigned and were trying to make a test case of it, that is, try to hold their jobs. If they succeed it will be only by exercise of political "pull" and not because there is at Washington the slightest intention or desire of organizing a diplomatic system based on merit or ability. America will never do that.
April 8, 1921.---This is the King's birthday, and the Quartier Léopold is all aflutter with flags. At noon I went to the Palace to write my name down on the King's book. There was a military parade and review this morning. Thomas says that there was tremendous applause all along the line for General Serot, the French military attaché, but none for him or for General Lyon, the English attaché, and indeed very little for the King. There are thirty thousand French in Brussels.
April 9, 1921.---Talked long with Vandervelde after luncheon, Grahame standing by. We talked of an article in La Nation Belge this morning, in which the attitude of the various Ministers is defined. Vandervelde is wholly against the imperialism and militarism of the French, and opposed to joining them in an adventure they will set out upon if the boches do not pay up on the first of May; but, he said, Belgium would have to support them unless England refused to do so, and this, he thought, improbable. Even if England sent only a handful of troops, Belgium would be compelled to join.
April 14, 1921.---This afternoon, at two, to the Monnaie, for the charity performance that Mme. Madoux arranged. An act from The Marriage of Figaro, then two acts from Faust, and Melba. The Queen came into the royal box expressly to hear Melba, and left after the act was over. She sang extremely well; the stage in the garden scene, for the jewel song, was discreetly darkened, and Dame Nellie was rather too well developed in figure for the innocent Marguerite, and her back a bit bowed, but she sang beautifully, and had a grand reception. And in the next act, the prison scene, the Queen having gone, she abandoned herself to her part, and sang!... What a voice, and what a personality. And she over sixty years of age! She had a great ovation, and the whole stage was covered with flowers---my roses among them.
Tonight there was a big dinner at the Madoux in Melba's honour; Grahame there, and Nell and I, and Melba's pretty daughter-in-law, Mrs. Armstrong. At the table Albert Giraud, the poet, stood up and read... a sonnet that he had composed in Melba's honour. It wasn't a bad sonnet, but how a man could stand up at a dinner and read it, passes my comprehension.
But Dame Nellie liked it, sitting there across from me, having drunk a bottle of champagne, and happy in her triumph of this day, her round face under the diamond tiara all wreathed in complacent smiles---and who would begrudge her?
Grahame, after all, might. He was furious with her. They have been friends for twenty years, she calls him George, and he had her to dinner the other night, and she wouldn't sing even so much as a snatch of a song. "And it would have made my dinner such a success!" he said. "She knows how important it is for me to succeed here!"
April 15, 1921.---Nell and I have finished the Letters of William James. They are most interesting, especially in connection with the Letters of Henry James. I should like to write an article on the letters of the two brothers, but haven't the time.
April 18, 1921.---As the first of May draws near, interest increases as to the probable result of Germany's failure, if she should fail to pay the amounts then due as reparations under the treaty. It seems certain that the French military party will seize the opportunity to execute its darling scheme of occupying the valley of the Ruhr; the French militarists---Foch and Pertinax and Poincaré---would rather do that than to have the boches pay. France, victorious, and swelling with importance as the first military power on the continent, since all the other nations are disarmed, is becoming almost as much of a menace and is quite as great a nuisance as Germany was before the war. No discussion of any subject proceeds ten minutes without their calling in Foch, and making "dispositions"; Briand shows himself to be more fearful and ferocious than Poincaré, and all the Belgian francomaniacs trot along behind. One is sick of Foch; he is as bad as the Kaiser; soldiers are well enough in time of war; but in peace times they should be gagged, if they will not shut up.
April 19, 1921.---De Leval has returned from Italy and came in to see me today. He reports Italy in a deplorable state, anarchy spread far and wide, complicated by the violence of the Fascists, though that reaction is doubtless healthy and will do good in time. De Leval narrowly escaped being blown up on a train. Says distinctly that Italy is no place to go just now. I told him of his dismissal by the Department of State, under the new rule that forbids the employment of any but Americans; he took it pleasantly and laughed. Under this rule I have already sent Mlle. Vandervelde away, having obtained for her a good place with Schmettau, and Mlle. Defenthal must go June 30th, though if I am still here at that time I shall retain her on my own account. With her away, there would not be a soul in the Embassy who could write the simplest French letter, except myself.
April 23, 1921.---The Germans having asked President Harding to arbitrate the matter of the reparations, Hughes has sent a reply, published today, refusing, but saying that if Germany presents a reasonable proposal the American Government will do what it can, and so on. The reply wasn't bad, but it might be better if it were stiffer with Germany, thus perhaps forcing the boches to yield before the French have a chance to advance.
Sunday, April 24, 1921.---This is election day in the communes, and for the first time in Belgian history the women may vote, nay, must vote, for it is compulsory in Belgium. Marie most excited over casting her first vote... she votes the Catholic ticket. She asked my advice, and I told her it mattered little, so long as she voted against the Socialists.
April 25, 1921.---This afternoon Nell and I went to the galleries to see the exhibition of Max Stevens's pictures---painted in Algiers .... Thence for a walk, and back to tea, a lot of Americans here.
Meanwhile, in the chancellery there was a bright, interesting little chap, an American too, waiting to see me, with a letter of introduction. It was Johnny Conlon, former bantam weight, or flyweight champion; and the man whom no one can lift. I went out, on hearing that he was here, and found him immensely amusing and interesting, a typical little boxer, with a bright, eager, winning way, a charming smile and an eye for the main chance. We talked about boxing for a while, and then he gave me an exhibition of his prowess. He is barely five feet high, and weighs eight stone; we all took turns in lifting him, taking him by the waist in two hands, under the ribs, to do so, and kneeling to get a leverage. Then he barely touches with a finger of his left hand my right wrist, and barely touches the left side of my neck with the middle finger of his right hand; then, I cannot lift him. No one, it appears, can do so when he touches them there. All tried it---Thomas, Johnson, and Stewart, Johnson's big brother-in-law, and I, and strain how we would, we all failed. What his mysterious power is, no one seems to know.
April 29, 1921.---Boty here at noon to discuss the bid of the General Electric for the wireless station to be erected by the Belgian Government. I am instructed by the Government to do all I can to aid the General Electric to secure the contract. Dollar diplomacy!
But for dollar diplomacy no one can beat the French, determined, at the behest of French industrialists, represented in the Government by Loucheur and Berthelot, to seize the German coal-fields in the valley of the Ruhr. Lloyd George seems to be holding out against it, but will probably yield in the end. The Belgians, completely delivered over to the French and all but annexed, do nothing but shout "Vive la France!"---the result of all the French propaganda in Belgium and Neo-Napoleonism everywhere. On this subject I had an interesting talk this afternoon with Van Vredenbergh, who came to tea. He said that the French propaganda in Belgium had been conducted by Vieugué, who had a million francs to spend here on the newspapers. During the last two months of last year he paid them nothing, his funds having been exhausted; the result was the newspaper outcry against the French tariffs. Then Jaspar, at Delacroix's suggestion, asked for the removal of Vieugué, which was done. Van Vredenbergh told me that representatives of several newspapers had been to see him, to ask him for "subsidies." He was told that for two hundred francs per annum they would put his name in the newspapers as having been present at every function, whether he were actually present or not! He says that he has not a sou for propaganda, but that if the Belgians do not act differently Holland will be obliged to take certain measures .... Van Vredenbergh rather bitter against Jaspar, and indeed, full of hatred for the Belgians. Some one in the Foreign Office, he says, gives information that is inimical to Dutch interests to the newspapers; he had discovered the chap's name and threatened him with exposure. He makes no headway with Jaspar as to the treaties of 1839; Jaspar always too busy.
April 30, 1921.---At 3 o'clock this afternoon to the Palais des Academies, for the formal session in honour of Professor Henri Pirenne. The usual scene---the long green table on the stage, with the speakers behind it...; we diplomats in one loge, the wives of the Ministers in the loges opposite, the vain, conceited reporters or "gentlemen of letters," as they call themselves, and the audience, composed of those who have a taste for speeches.
There were ten, actually ten, speeches; no, not speeches; the Belgians never make speeches; they make discours, that is, long, dry, dull essays, which they read. There were four of them by Belgians, to lead off with; then four by Frenchmen, professors from the Universities of Strasbourg, Lillie, Paris, and so on. Their discourses were good, that almost too facile French, so clear, so limpid, that the French know how to use. After each one there was a demonstration, every one standing up and shouting "Vive la France!" The manifestation was really an anti-Flemish demonstration, Professor Pirenne, who is rector of the French University of Ghent, being the excuse.
After eight speeches, an Oxford don was introduced, a pleasant little chap, with fair hair, and round, ruddy young face, wearing his gown, with the red band across his heart. He spoke in French, without notes, hesitatingly but correctly, in good taste, and above all, briefly. And then Pirenne, who was informal, witty, and charming---delicieux! as the French would say, pursing up their lips in a sugar-plum way.
We had been there about three mortal hours, and I was glad to go, "ravished," as again they would say, though not when speeches are done, rather would be "desolated." Outside Professor Heger of the University of Brussels stopped me and criticized the speech of the Oxford don. "It's a pity," he said, "that the English do not take pains to put their speeches into better form," and so on. I was furious. De Margerie was standing by, and made some feeble protest, but I said: "In England, and in the United States, one would not dare to read the long prosy lecture that you call a discours. Our audiences are very impolite. They will not endure interminable addresses. They expect a man to say what he has to say briefly and simply. The Oxford don, after all that had been said, was quite right in making his remarks short."
May 1, 1921.---Grahame says that there is not such unanimity at London as the newspapers pretend. Lloyd George dislikes to follow Briand and Foch and Poincaré on their adventure into the Ruhr Valley, and is holding out against them.
The newspapers today, however, say that the "very sharp" declarations made by Lloyd George in the House prove that the fears as to England's attitude were vain. They attribute this "change"---they are always talking about les revirements de Monsieur Lloyd George---to the mediation of Jaspar and Thomas at London; the Belgians love that rôle, and always try to play it, or pretend to play it, at their conferences.
There is very bitter feeling here against the English, due partly to French trickery, propaganda and influence, and partly to a feeling that England is not firm enough with the boches.
May 2, 1921.---Well, the Senate has voted the Knox resolutions declaring the war with Germany at an end, and this is the forerunner of a separate, which is to say, a dishonourable peace. It makes an American hide his head---and all the more because just at this very moment the Allies are struggling with Germany in an effort to collect the reparations.
Meanwhile there is a divergence of minds between Briand and Lloyd George in the Supreme Council at London. The bankers of the City and the Labour men have urged Lloyd George not to consent to the occupation of the Ruhr, and Mr. Asquith and Lord Robert Cecil have made strong speeches against it. France, and of course Belgium, demand immediate guarantees and a conversation afterwards, that is, occupy the Ruhr, and then discuss, while the English and the Italians wish to send an ultimatum and have discussions. Briand says that he is inexorable and has given orders for mobilization. Jaspar has suggested some formula by which the sanctions may be applied at once, but, as it would require some days to prepare the military measures necessary, the Germans would then be given time to make other proposals.
What France wants, that is, what the financiers who now govern France want, is the coal of the Ruhr Valley, which would help their industry, and destroy Germany's industry. And the military party, Foch, and others, are in favour of this because it gives employment, advancement, and decorations to soldiers; Briand is kept breathless running to keep ahead of Poincaré---and so all this neo-Napoleonism that menaces the peace of Europe. What should be done, of course, is to leave Foch and the magnates and the scurvy politicians at home, and have some clear, sensible heads find out what Germany can pay, and then make her pay it. But that would be too simple. By making her pay it, I mean, that if a sum were computed on her resources and ability to pay, she would probably see, or be brought to see, the wisdom of paying it. What the little neo-Napoleons want is not reparations so much as the coal-fields, while the politicians in France, afraid to vote taxes, have been lying to the people for so long that they can postpone the day of reckoning only by getting their hands on something tangible---like the coal-fields.
Tonight we dined with the ------s. The Carton de Wiarts were there, and while we were at table, Carton was called to the telephone by London. Every one instantly excited, of course. Carton went upstairs, and one could hear him shouting, as though he expected his voice to carry across the channel to London. Every one, while politely ignoring it, was nevertheless trying to hear what he said .... When he came down he announced that the sanctions were to be applied, but that as their application would require time, the result was to give Germany until May 12th to pay up. That is to say, the formula suggested by M. Jaspar has been adopted. The Belgians were not satisfied, though Carton was relieved. The feeling against England is intense and wholly unreasonable. Indeed, the Belgians can be highly unreasonable when they are once started. After dinner, in the smoking room, ------, who is an ass, a drunken ass, pointing, insulted Carton. "That means," he said, "that you are giving the Germans ten days to sabotage Essen." Carton was very calm and gentlemanly, and in an undertone to me said that he was very glad of the delay, that the occupation of the Ruhr was to be avoided if possible.
May 7, 1921.---At 4:30 to the Palais des Académies to hear a lecture ---one of the interminable "conferences" given in the interest of French propaganda here by General Etienne of the French Army on the use of tanks in the war. I went because I had to, since the King was to be present: Grahame, and Villalobar there. The show was got up by the Royal Automobile Club. The General is an interesting personality, a round, rough, bullet-headed snub-nosed little chap, very fine and resplendent in his sky-blue uniform and gold epaulettes. His lecture a great bore, being too technical, though here and there it had a bit of wit in it, and once a bit of French nastiness, explicable on the theory that the Latins find some things amusing and permissible that strike Anglo-Saxons otherwise. He drew a terrible picture of the war of the future, which is evidently going to be a frightfully annihilating thing.
Coming out Villalobar told me that his august sovereign, having heard that King Albert had written to Harding asking that I be kept here, had instructed him, Villalobar, to inquire of His Majesty as he, Alfonso XIII, wishes to do the same by Willard. Villalobar had seen the King, who had told him that he had written to Harding, and had received an answer not as explicit as he should like. The which Villalobar telegraphed to Madrid. This, of course, puts an end to any prospect there might have been of the royal intercession in my favour having any effect, for it gives Harding just the loop-hole he wants.
May 9, 1921.---I went at 12:15 to Malines to have luncheon with the Cardinal, the luncheon being in honour of Poincaré, who spoke here yesterday. Marquis de Villalobar, Jaspar, de Broqueville, and many others there. Poincaré looked pale, tired, and sour, as he always does, and is. I had brief conversations with him before and after luncheon; nothing but banalities. He complimented me on my French, and asked about our Academy; that was all. At luncheon I sat on the right of Baron Faureau, who was the Cardinal's vis-à-vis, and Jaspar sat next to me. Jaspar spoke of his visit to London; was sure that the Germans would accept the new propositions .... It is clear that they all expect to be relieved of the necessity of carrying out the threat to occupy the Ruhr by Germany's yielding before the thirteenth---but that is only four days off, and Germany has thus far done nothing. But if she does accept, if she does yield, if she does make payments, that will not satisfy the neo-Napoleonism in France; Poincaré and others will say that she is not doing it properly, and that the Ruhr must be occupied come what may. And then? France is intent on two irreconcilable ends, destroying Germany and having her pay at the same time. Both ends cannot be achieved, and as between the two France, the France of the chauvinists, would prefer the destruction of Germany.
After luncheon the Cardinal made a pretty speech proposing Poincaré's health, and Poincaré responded proposing the Cardinal's. Poincaré speaks beautifully. But during the luncheon ------ said: "Look at him: despite his gifts, he is not a happy man; no children, and such a wife; ah, his whole private life! Enfin!" And he made that little noise with his lips by which Belgians express disgust.
The drive to Malines is beautiful in such weather, the luxuriant fields of green, the bright new red roofs on all the reconstructed houses, and so on. The traces of the war are vanishing; they are rebuilding the little church at Eppeghem, and only here and there is one reminded by a façade spattered by shrapnel of the ravages of the war.
Nell and I have begun to read Greville's Memoirs.
May 10, 1921.---Nell and I lunched at the Thomases; Sacha Voltichenko and his wife there. He is most interesting in his Russian way; he showed us an extraordinary book of autographs---of Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVIII; Napoleon, and---everybody. He was most interesting to me, however, when, after luncheon, he talked about Russian writers. He knew Tolstoy!
May 11, 1921.---At 10:30, in fine weather, to the Cinquantenaire, to the unveiling of Vincotte's monument to the Congo. The King and Queen there, the Queen appearing to be in fine health and very pretty. A rail around, all the Ministers, all the diplomatic corps, and so on. Troops were lined up, and after "la Brabançonne," Franck made a really fine speech, standing on a velvet dais before the tribune where Their Majesties and we were assembled. At the conclusion of Franck's speech, the monument was unveiled; it is a large and ambitious work, a bas-relief, and four groups, and rather goodish upon the whole, though not inspired. It will improve, too, I think, when the weather has given it some patina, and yet I find it perhaps a bit too high to have perfect proportions, the bas-relief is somewhat too vague, and the figure of La Belgique at the top is banal. The whole sentiment, too, is somewhat forced, Belgium protecting and elevating the Negro. But it would be gratuitous and unkind to recall all the old stories on that score. After the unveiling, the band played "L'Avenir," and we stood about talking. The King and Queen had a word for everybody, the Queen asking after Nell, and sending her her love; we talked a little, too, of Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria, which I thought she might like to read.
The King, talking with Grahame and me, spoke of the coming visit to England, and said that he dreaded making speeches in English. Grahame protested, and I said: "His Majesty made splendid speeches in English while in America."
"But that is because you prefaced them," said the King.
He is looking very fit; rugged, tanned, and is growing extraordinarily handsome as he approaches the middle years; seems indeed to be developing in all ways, his manner is easier, more of authority and presence; and he is coming more and more to have the distinction of what he is, a great personality.
Vincotte---who has been made a Baron---near them, of course, looking quite distinguished as he stood muffled in a curiously cut greatcoat; it was of course a great moment for this old man. What finer joy, indeed, than the artist's who beholds the material realization of his dream? I felicitated him, as did everybody.
The Germans have accepted the Allies' terms, as was to be expected. It is a triumph for Lloyd George, and a great relief to the Belgians. This relief was apparent in the ceremony this morning; every one was smiling and happy, every one was commenting on the good news. Carton de Wiart had the air of a much-relieved man, and I could felicitate him.
The French, however, will not be so pleased---they are cheated of their prey, and would have preferred to seize the mines in the valley of the Ruhr.
May 12 1921.---As I thought, the French cannot conceal their disappointment. Old Castelnau even prates of changing the form of government, by which he means a King, or an Emperor, I suppose. And Le Figaro says Foch is still there. To be sure; seeking, with Pertinax, Loucheur, Berthelot, and Poincaré some excuse, some pretext, for violent militaristic adventure. How long are England and Belgium going to permit France to lead them around by the nose? Of course, it would be easier, it would be better, if one could have faith in German promises; there can be peace in Europe now if the Germans will keep their promises, but they are such rotters, such welchers, that there is no counting on them. However, the exchange is now eleven francs to the dollar.
Harvey has arrived in England and made a speech that is received with an enthusiasm almost pathetic.
May 14, 1921.---Lloyd George has made a perfectly splendid speech in the House, against the Poles, who are marauding in Upper Silesia, with French connivance, of course, as is plainly seen by the wild clamour of the French press.(1) It was folly to recreate Poland; they can never achieve anything but trouble, nor be anything, nationally, but a nuisance. They, always true to type, are acting now just as they used to act, and. doubtless still act, in the 3rd ward at Toledo .... They demand all the advantages of the Treaty of Versailles---which unfortunately erected them into a nation---and refuse to accept the responsibilities it imposes. They simply don't know what it means to play the game. Just now, of course, they are being used by the French.
Sunday, May 15, 1921.---The French press is furious at Lloyd George, and full of the most sickening examples of specious reasoning on the Polish question. The Belgian press cries "ditto," of course, to everything the French newspapers say, Belgium politically ---having become the little "me too" of France. Lloyd George has committed the one crime the French cannot pardon, that is, he has told the truth. Already the French newspapers, like Le Figaro and the unspeakable Echo de Paris, are hinting at the affair as another excuse to occupy the coveted Ruhr, and there has evidently been some underhanded arrangement between the French Government and the Polish Government by which the industries which are all-powerful at Paris just now are to profit at German expense in Silesia. There has never been, in all probability, a government more cynically devoted to the looting type of big business man than the French Government of today. It has no opposition at home, and little abroad, leading Europe around by the nose. Herrick, when he gets to Paris, will be the merest puppet in their hands. Lloyd George has in this instance opposed them, but one wonders how long he will continue to do so. If he does hold on and hold out, more power to him, say I, for if he doesn't the neo-Napoleonism of France will eventually plunge Europe into war and, by the same token, into anarchy. The France of today is not the France that struggled for liberalism after Napoleon III in the Seventies, nor even the France that resisted on the Marne. It is today a France of profiteers, politicians, and professional soldiers. But how few anywhere see it!
May 16, 1921.---The Thomases in at noon, sitting until one.
Thomas, like all soldiers utterly ignorant of politics, civil government, and the art of conducting the affairs of a nation, quite deluded by the French view of things .... He is down on Lloyd George, and says that we must preserve a united front, which, as I explained, or foolishly tried to explain to him, consists just now in accepting every accomplished fact before which France places her allies and friends. Belgium is all for France, and the hatred of England is astounding. The Belgians are curiously, hopelessly ignorant of England's part in the war; they think that France did it all, and have no comprehension of the part the British navy---or army either, for that matter---played, or any conception of the importance and influence of sea power. Enfin!
May 17, 1921.---Grahame here, stayed to luncheon. He has given me a copy of the New Statesman, which has a scathing article on Harding, as fine, delicate, artistic a bit of sarcasm as one ever saw. Harvey has arrived in London.
At my desk nearly all the afternoon; I have taken up my novel on Ohio and begun to read it; I ought to finish it; there is much good, but, I fear, more bad, in it.
Out for a walk before tea; met and strolled awhile with Guy d'Oultremont, who says that there is to be no garden party this year. The King feels that these times are too unsettled. He has therefore opened the greenhouses at Laeken to the public.
This evening Nell and I went to the Metropole to the banquet given by the Spanish colony, Villalobar having asked us to do so. The Brazilian Ambassador there, and the Argentine Minister, and ... the Cuban chargé, and, in short all the South Americans. I don't know what Villalobar's notion was, unless it was to have all the nations of the New World shining about him as pearls in the crown of Spain .... There were many pretty women there, of the Spanish type. And then speeches, and toasts in Spanish, and "la Brabançonne," and the funny little Spanish air. Rather amusing than otherwise, though the early hours had been made hideous by the braying of the band, and the taking of flashlight photographs, until the air was choking with acrid smoke of the powder.
May 19, 1921.---Arthur Woods(2) here for dinner last night, and a really charming gentleman he is, but, like all Americans who drift through Brussels---and the season for them is now on---he wished to be presented to the King, and all day I have been tormented by that business .... The worst of it is, that these Americans think that the King must receive them at their convenience.
Lloyd George evidently has got his Welsh up; he is out in a statement reiterating what he has already said, and giving the French press, which has been roundly abusing him, a rebuke, saying that their habit of regarding as an impertinence every opinion that does not agree with theirs, is not calculated to promote peace. Lloyd George has certainly raised a jolly row!
George Grahame told me the other day that the Irish in America are creating a most difficult and dangerous situation, and, wittingly or unwittingly, Harding has played into their hands by endorsing their scheme to raise funds in America to relieve "distress" in Ireland. It was, of course, the cheap politician in Harding that led him to do so unwise a thing, and he has only aggravated the evil of a situation that will plague him later on. The Irish agitators at home are raising enormous sums of money, and wish to send "delegates" to Ireland to distribute it, and they have the typical Irish effrontery to cite the work of the C.R.B. in Belgium as a precedent. Grahame said that Geddes(3) had reported all this to London, and he, Grahame, showed me a dispatch written by the Foreign Office to Geddes, instructing him or authorizing him, in that case, to say that there was no distress in Ireland and that His Majesty's Government naturally could not tolerate any such interference as would result from the work of "delegates" such as are contemplated by the proposal.
May 20, 1921.---To the Cuban chargé's, to the reception in honour of the Cuban national holiday, a great crush, and a great bore.
I met, however, the attaché attached to the French Embassy, who in a little talk we had told me that during the siege of Verdun there were two hours when the French were wholly done in, and when the city was absolutely without defence, so that the Germans could just then have strolled into Verdun unopposed. But luckily, they never knew, and the French got up fresh troops.
Harvey has made a speech at the Pilgrims' Dinner. It is not so bad as to its matter, but its tone is undoubtedly Harvian, and bad. He still squirts out his venom on President Wilson, is conceited and pompous, studiously rough at times, and the whole performance leaves a bad taste in one's mouth, and proves that even by making a man Ambassador to the "Court of St. James's" as Americans love to put it, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The worst of the speech is that it never rises above the level of party politics.
May 21, 1921.---A letter from Harding this morning, in reply to my letter, written in February, offering to resign if he desires my resignation, which Marshall had evidently placed in his hands. It is the letter---Harding's reply, that is---of a politician who wishes not to commit himself, and I defy any one to tell what it means ....
At noon Countess Caraman telephoned from Laeken to say that the Queen said, "if we had nothing better to do," to dine with Their Majesties at 7:45 this evening, informally, the Earl of Athlone and Princes Alice being there. We were to have dined with the de Beughems, but of course countermanded that engagement, and went to Laeken.
We were ten at table, the King, the Queen, Athlone, Her Royal Highness the Princess Alice, His Royal Highness the Duke of Brabant, Countess Caraman, Major Blank, and a Lieutenant, officer of the guard. We went in informally; I sat on the Queen's right, Athlone on her left, the Princess on the King's right, and Nell on his left. Athlone very lively at dinner, while the Queen and I talked golf. She wishes me to come out and be photographed with her at the links. After dinner the King took me off to one side, and we sat there and smoked, while we talked of the state of the world, bad enough, goodness knows.
I asked him if he had read what Leopold I had said in one of his letters to Queen Victoria about the press. (I had read it in Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria, but I didn't cite my source, for Queen Victoria's granddaughter, who so much resembles her, was sitting not far away, laughing and showing her gums, just like Victoria, and I wasn't sure that she liked Strachey's ironies.) The King had not heard and I told him. He said that the press in Leopold's time was not as bad as it is in ours, but he never seems to be very much interested in his grandfather or in his sayings.
He was down on the French and mainly sympathized with Lloyd George in the present row.
Athlone and the Princess Alice were to go to the British Embassy to be present at a reception for the British colony, and at about 9:20 they prepared to withdraw. On leaving Princess Alice kissed the Queen's hand, saying, "That's to show you that I know," and then kissed her on the cheek.
After they had gone, Their Majesties remained standing, chatting and laughing a bit, and then withdrew. The Prince went with me to the door. The twilight still lingered; the great masses of rhododendrons showed a rich purple against the dark background of the luxuriant vegetation in the park. And against a clear sky of nacre the memorial to Leopold I showed its silhouette, like the Albert Memorial. And still under the impression of Strachey's great book, and just from the presence of the Princess Alice, I thought of Queen Victoria, of Uncle Leopold, of Stockmar and Lehzen, figures of that vanished past.
Sunday, May 22, 1921.---We have the flag on the Embassy at half-mast in memory of Chief Justice White, dead at Washington; are to keep it at half-mast for thirty days. I knew and liked and admired justice White; he was a gentleman of an older and better order than ours; he was a democrat, but had none of the cant of democracy, which is perhaps the distinguishing feature of America today, that pretense of simplicity and humility, that affectation of being on a level with the common man, whatever that may be, that inverted snobbishness which is a competitive effort to see who can get down the lowest, who can be the most vulgar, that disgusting demagogy which today rules the land.
This morning, while walking in the Parc Léopold, Nell and I saw a sight the pathos of which has haunted us all the day long. A man, whom I have often seen there about the medical college buildings, was leading, on strings, three little dogs, taking them to be used for the purposes of vivisection. The poor, little, innocent, helpless unconscious things were trotting alongside him so nimbly, so trustingly even, all unknowing the fate, the suffering, awaiting them there. One of them, a lively little black and tan terrier, looking about brightly, his tongue lolling, with that happy grin a dog has on a fine morning, particularly impressed us. I had seen this man several times leading dogs thither, but never quite understood where he was going, or what a cowardly and cruel errand he was on, until this morning when we saw him headed for the college. And here, for the delectation of those pimply young asses in the conspicuous velvet berets who study medicine there, these unhappy, unoffending, friendly little dogs are cut up alive, and made to endure tortures that cannot be imagined. And, in all probability to no really good end, for I know of no disease that doctors cure, or of any that they prevent, or of any suffering that they temper or alleviate as a result of this cruelty. Perhaps I am not wholly right in assuming that there is no such progress, but I am not, I am sure, far from wrong in this opinion. Jules Bordet lives in the park and, by the way, the stables behind his home are the scenes of another prolonged agony, that is, the inoculation of horses to produce serum. The poor beasts that enter there are in perfect health---they must be that---are inoculated, suffer the pains of the disease thus given them, and then are slowly bled to death, growing weaker and weaker until they succumb at last. I have seen them haul their poor carcasses away, and one day not long ago asked the old guard at the park what it meant, and he told me. I spoke of the cruelty of it.
"Do not think about it," he replied.
No danger that anybody will think about it. No one, in fact, gives a damn.
They say that Jules Bordet has discovered the cures of certain things, and it may conceivably be admitted that, in certain very rare, extreme emergencies, he might be entrusted with the scientific torture of animals. But certainly no good comes of letting all those young asses who study medicine by day, and have beer-drinking contests by night (the only sport in Belgian colleges) stand about and, to gratify their own morbid, perverted curiosity, torture a poor little dog to death---or no, that would be too kind, to torture a poor little dog and keep him alive as long as possible, so that they might witness his agony. For it is only that, a morbid, perverted, curiosity, that, and a kind of scientific low comedy.
At any rate, I shall not forget the poor little terrier, trotting bravely along, and turning back and smiling in a friendly way, at us, or for all I know, at Kin Kung or Taï Taï. No, knowledge gained at the expense of torture, deliberately applied, is not worth having, and I, for one, am sure that vivisection does no good to humanity, and that it is resorted to only in a spirit morbid, perverted, and cruel, that hides behind the mask of pseudo-science,
May 23, 1921.---In the afternoon at 3:30 to the Cinquantenaire, the first horse-show to be held since 1914, when we were with the King and Queen and the King and Queen of Denmark. The crowd was not so large as it was then, the dressing and the show as usual not so smart or so splendid ....
It was frightfully hot under the glass roof of the enormous structure. The King, at three o'clock, appeared in the tribune of red and gold .... Max sat with him, and finally Franchet d'Esperey, Marshal of France, the hero of the Chemin des Dames where, by his frivolous absence, he lost half an army to the Germans in the spring of 1918, many leagues of territory, and almost lost Paris and the Allied cause. As a reward, he was given the command at Salonika, and made a Marshal of France.
He is here to speak at Franco-Belgian banquets, and yesterday attended a celebration on top of Mt. Kemmel, the hill near Ypres which the English so gallantly held throughout the war. For this reason the French and Belgians ascended the hill yesterday, and remained there all day making discourses to each other, celebrating the glorious victory of the French at Kemmel. No English, of course, were present, or even invited. Franchet d'Esperey never saw Kemmel until yesterday, when he made a speech ....
------ had the box next to ours this afternoon, he and his wife, who looks as if she had come out of the Maison Telliér, and has lately grown disgustingly fat. ------, not having had enough of it yesterday, came into our box---the ------s and the Thomases are as thick as molasses---and said to me with his usual gusto:
"You see there, with the King, the Maréchal Franchet d'Esperey?"
"Yes, I see him," I said. "The hero of the Chemin des Dames, is it not?"
"Ah, no!" said ------. "In Salonika!"
"Yes," I said, "but, that was later. He had a reverse, didn't he?"
General ------- came into our box, and the first thing he said was:
"What's all this nonsense about Kemmel? I was there; the English held that hill; the French territorials who were brought up ran away to Dunkirk, and the English had to retake what they lost .... There never was a Frenchman on it."
The truth about Kemmel is that the English held it gallantly throughout the war. In a great attack in the spring of 1918 they lost part of the hill, and the French troops were brought up; the next day we read in Marcel Hutin's column in l'Echo de Paris the astounding statement to the effect that "now we know why Kemmel will not be taken." One contingent of French did nobly, but they lost, so the King told me, twenty thousand prisoners. The English held on; and today the French, with their Belgian sycophants, celebrate the victory, and never even invite the English!
The feeling in France against the English is high; the press is terribly nasty, and the Belgian press is outdoing the French. As an example of the lengths to which they will go, the Belgian newspapers are saying that Lloyd George accused them of impertinence!
I wrote down what he did say at the time.
May 24, 1921.---The Germans, with their usual stupidity, are complicating the crisis by raids in Upper Silesia. But Lloyd George stands by his guns.
At Desamblancx's this afternoon, he showed me a book, the finest he says in Belgium, a book, a sort of novel, written in Flemish by a man at Bruges, illustrated by water-colour views of Bruges by an artist of that town, printed by a printer at Bruges, who after having printed, on Holland paper, most beautifully, this one copy, distributed the type. The book was intended as a gift for a bibliophile, and Desamblancx bound it superbly. Toward the end of the book there were portraits in aquarelle of the author, the artist, the printer, of Desamblancx, and of, the bibliophile. While Desamblancx was showing this book to us---Ruskin, Thomas, and Voltichenko, the Russian, had come in---the whole thing seemed strangely familiar to me; I had a confusing sense of having heard all this before, and when he showed me the portraits I recognized in the bibliophile August Michel, who used to come to see me, and who the last time he was here told me all about this very book, and promised to show it to me. And now he is dead; died two months ago, so Desamblancx said. The widow wishes to sell the book, and Desamblancx is going to take it to Paris to sell it at auction; he wishes to keep it in Belgium, and may, if necessary, he says, buy it himself. He says that it is worth twenty thousand francs.
While there I bought a fine edition of Montaigne.
This evening Nell and I dined at the British Embassy with Grahame---we three alone. Grahame has done over the embassy handsomely; has made a nice smoking-room of Sir Francis's old study, and there, after dinner, we sat and talked about Fashoda, Agadir, Algeciras, Morocco, Ireland, and all the interesting train of circumstances that led up to this war, beginning, since one must start somewhere, with Fashoda---and of the crisis today. It is all simple and clear enough; France made the entente with England after her great check at Fashoda to revenge herself on Germany. Now that Germany is defeated, her army destroyed, and her power gone, leaving France the strongest nation in a military sense in Europe, France revives her old animosity to England; the paths of the two nations, whose interests are antagonistic, diverge. France resumes her old strategy; seeks to surround herself with allies who will act as shields and bucklers for her; Belgium she is already sure of; she has Poland, too, but must make her strong and durable, hence this policy in Upper Silesia. Then the old policy of dividing Germany, isolating Prussia, creating small German states, Bavaria, the Rhenish republic, and so on, these to be Roman Catholic, a sort of New Holy Roman Empire. And here the church, Rome, the Vatican comes in, and here England has been crassly stupid. Her two ancient enemies were France and the Roman church; they are today her enemies, but they have been divided.(4) During the war, England sent a Minister to the Vatican, a mission that never accomplished one whit of good for England, and never could, for Rome hates Protestant England, and would undo her if she could. The revolt in Ireland lives only on Romish support and encouragement; the Romish priests in Ireland never say a word against the murder that is nightly done by the cowardly, savage, half-civilized Irish whom they control. France had broken with the Vatican; the Catholic party in France had been reduced to nothing; but now it revives---Foch, l'Echo de Paris, Poincaré, all that; Roman Catholic, militarist, industrial. This party has slowly regained the power since the armistice, and the disappearance of the ribald old freethinker Clemenceau; this party, strong in the salons of the Faubourg St. Germain, was responsible for the recent attempt of Charles of Hapsburg to regain his throne; he was beyond any doubt assured of French support; this same party was responsible---as history surely will prove---for Korfanty's drive; and the Pope encourages Poland, too, and helps to make the French dream come true. But this Catholic party in France would never have dared to propose that France send a representative to the Vatican if England had not set the example, and thus given them an argument to use on the reluctant. And so the other day a French diplomat, Jonnart, is sent to the Vatican---even before the Senate had approved the law creating the mission! and now England's enemies are again united, and Rome would divide England and America.
May 26, 1921.---What a fatiguing, dreadful day! This annual invasion of Americans is a cross hardly to be borne. For instance: This morning---according to our arrangement, he having telegraphed from London---Marcosson appeared at 10:15, and we drove to Laeken, where he was to have audience of the King at eleven. His Majesty kept us an hour; he was bored, and so was I, but asked, that is, His Majesty asked Marcosson, many intelligent questions about that awful place the Congo; I was interested in nothing he had to relate, however, except two things, one that down there the native mothers nurse their babies for four or five years; and second, that as one steams along the Congo one sees masses of wonderful orchids, masses as great as the masses of rhododendrons that one saw before the Palace this morning. But nothing of all he told was new to His Majesty.
May 27, 1921.---Visit this evening of the committee of the "Grand Serment Royal de St. Georges," which elected me an honorary member. They came to arrange the details of the ceremony for my reception. This is a society that has been in continuous existence since early in the fourteenth century, and has its records complete from that date. It is one of the picturesque institutions of Brussels; they have tournaments in which they shoot with the crossbow, elect a King every year, and in fact are quite important as a Société, as the Brusselaers say. They wished my name, titles, arms, and so on, to be transcribed in their golden book, and asked me to fix a date far enough in the future to enable them to make fitting preparations for my reception. We finally fixed on the last Sunday in June, the 26th, I think it is. They are an honest, good-natured, naïve folk, typically of Brussels, and I fancy that beer is not an unimportant element in their ceremonies.
Briand has won a victory by his very sensible, reasonable speech, and has been sustained by 390 to 162. It is to be hoped that this will end the row, and that the chauvinists of France will not soon recover from this check, which is really to be credited to Lloyd George. The imperial party was furious, and didn't wish at all to sustain Briand, but he very cleverly put them in a position in which they could not overthrow him without revealing their own imperial tendencies, and they dared not do this.
Sunday, May 29, 1921.---The ------s were at the Lyons' last night; they are just back from a fortnight in London, with the latest gossip. Mrs. ------ considers Harvey's appointment a disastrous thing; she said that his first speech has not made a happy impression; the intelligent at London consider it to have been rather vulgar in tone; and they did not like its affected cynicism and materialism. The English have put their finger on the weak spot in Harvey, to wit, his innate vulgarity, which all his cleverness cannot hide. Lyon spoke of the article in the New Statesman, and laughed, or smiled, but thought that it should not have been published. Mrs. ------- said that King George is furious at Lytton Strachey for having written as he did of Queen Victoria. He said that the King had sent for Strachey, and that Strachey would not go, but fled to Paris. The King said that the statements in the book to the effect that King Edward, when Prince of Wales, was afraid of his mother were not true; that the story about his being late to dinner one night at Osborne and fearing to go in, standing behind a column wiping the perspiration from his forehead, is not true; he said that there is no column at Osborne---which does not prove, however, that Bertie was not afraid of his mother! Another story to which the King objects is that which describes Victoria's having the Prince Consort's clothes laid out for him every night for dinner, and the hot water drawn for him, after his death, just as had been done during his life. That, said the King, would have been madness.
This has been a lovely day. This morning Nell and I took the dogs and went for a long walk across the fields that lay behind Woluwe. Hearing the strains of the music of a band blown to us on the wind, we paused, and for a long while watched a religious procession---today is God's day---winding along a distant road to the church of Ste.-Anne at Andergheses: The little girls in white; some with lavender veils, some holding the red ribbons of the day carried above an image or a relic, the choir boys with their red and white, the priests in white, the banner, the slow march, and all far enough away to dissolve any too material details in the impressionistic effect of the whole---it was all very beautiful, very touching. We stood and watched it a long time, standing in the sunlit fields, where the oats are now as high as Nell's head, the dogs sitting at our feet; one of those strange, sweet moments that one remembers---remembers with pain, Nell said, to think that they are gone.
We have read, Nell and I, a most interesting account of life in Ireland, written by an officer's wife and published in Blaçkwood's for May. It is a moving tale of the horrors of that bloody Sunday, 21st of November last, when the Sinn Fein ruffians dragged a score of officers out of their beds and murdered them. The account is obviously true, and most convincing in its simple narration of the awful facts.
The Irish are a hopeless lot; the conception we had of them in Central Ohio when I was a boy, namely, that they were half-savage, ignorant, superstitious, dirty, dishonest, drunken, cruel, lying, vicious, was in the main and in all essentials correct. The Irish who came to America have improved somewhat, and the opinion of them has consequently changed, especially since they have grown numerous and hence powerful in politics, so that our demagogues, that is, every one that wants a public office, fears them and courts and flatters them. But they have not changed in Ireland. There they remain savage, ignorant, dirty, and superstitious still. The American notion of them as a race of charming, witty, kindly folk is all the veriest rot. The Irish are not charming, quite the reverse. They are seldom witty, they have absolutely no sense of humour, and taken as a whole, are extraordinarily stupid and dull, and quick to take offence. The reception by the Irish in America and in Ireland to Synge's plays, to George Birmingham's plays, and the fate of the Abbey Theater shows this. And if one only stops and thinks of the Irish he knows or has known, thinks of them honestly, and objectively (and privately), he will be convinced that this estimate of them is true. What we call wit and humour in the Irish---all those Irish stories, that are told all over America,---are unconscious, when they exist at all. One may laugh at the Irish; one never laughs with them. The fact is we never knew the Irish in America; or we of this generation haven't known them. I began to know them when I went to Ireland in 1912, and saw how filthy and depraved they were; the opinion, wholly unfavourable, except in two or three individual instances, that I then formed has been confirmed since. During the war, though the subjects of all sorts of favours and exemptions, they were what they always were, traitors and cowards; even the Irish regiments that were got together had to be broken up and their numbers distributed among English or Scotch regiments; they were not, as long as they remained Irish regiments, as good as our Negro troops. Their "rebellion" in 1916 was to help the Germans, and the cowardly guerilla warfare they have carried on since has grown out of that original impulse, and was inspired by it .... What they need now is another Cromwell.
But this is the fundamental cause of the horrors that are done in Ireland, this, to wit: That a man may assassinate another, and before he sleeps have a priest shrive him and assure him that he has done no wrong.
May 30, 1921.---We have just returned from the Memorial Day services at Antwerp. Nell and the Thomases and I went over by the 9:45 train this morning, and were driven out to the pier where the exercises were to be held. There were long lines of Belgian troops, a party of French sailors, and two companies of American troops from the army of occupation on the Rhine, splendid fellows, splendidly turned out; we were very proud of them. General Cabre of the Belgian Army, and other Belgian generals and officers, some French officers, and the Governor of the Province, the Burgomaster, and a great number of people were there, sitting in a tribune that had been erected. In a warehouse, hung in black, and decorated with flags, were the coffins of twelve hundred American soldiers, each covered with a flag. They were under military guard, and then girls in white, the one in the middle holding an American flag, the others bearing flowers, stood guard as well. It was a touching and impressive sight. A speakers' stand, a sort of pulpit---in reality a bandmaster's stand---was fixed before the wide entrance. We waited while an American band from the Rhine played "Abide With Me." Presently one of the royal automobiles, with a footman in the King's livery on the box, drove up, and General the Count de Jonghe got out, resplendent in decorations, to represent His Majesty. "la Brabançonne" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" were played; then the exercises, Major Koenig, who commands our base at Antwerp, presiding. He read the President's proclamation, made some remarks, and introduced me. I spoke in English, then in French, then Devèze spoke, then Burgomaster de Vos of Antwerp, then de Jonghe, who brought a great wreath from the King, which he laid on the caskets. I laid my wreath, Thomas his, and then a wreath from the Belgian Army deposited by Devèze . . . . While the Belgian band played a drab march, and afterwards, while the American band played "Nearer my God to Thee," a group of young girls in white reverently strewed flowers over all those coffins, It was most touching.
June 1, 1921.---A telegram from Marshall Sheppey at Paris saying that he would arrive at 5:15! It was then six o'clock, and before I could think what to do, there was Marshall himself.
At 10:30 tonight, Marshall sent young Berdan to bed, and we sat up until one, he telling me all the news about Harding, about my staying at the post, and so on. It was a long, tiresome, futile story, valuable as showing the degradation of politics in America, and especially in Ohio. Marshall has long been friends with Harding, and Harding is under all sorts of personal obligations to him. Marshall worked hard to secure his nomination, and after the nomination told him that he wished nothing for himself, that all he wished was for him "to keep Brand at Brussels." Harding then told him that he would be glad, of course, to do that. Marshall made a large contribution, I don't know how much, to his campaign fund; and gave him many gifts---a fine pair of cuff-links at Christmas, and so on, and just before the inauguration, took him, Harding, to his tailor in Fifth Avenue, or rather had the cutter go to Ohio to Harding, to have his clothes made, and Marshall paid for them. He was most amusing about this. Harding knows nothing of dress, has had his clothes made by a cheap tailor at Toledo---and Marshall was disturbed by his appearance; so he sent George Kramer to him at Washington. He wished him to have a frock coat, but Harding would not, said that he had never worn one in his life. So Marshall had a morning coat made, which Harding wore to his inauguration. Later there was the famous dog Laddie, with his picture in all the newspapers.
Marshall had been at Harding's home at Marion in February, had lunched there, "Colonel" Harvey being the other guest. Marshall had said nothing about me; but after luncheon, Harding left the table on some excuse, leaving Marshall and Harvey sitting there ---Harvey with a bottle of Scotch whiskey which he had brought with him, and from which he was constantly pouring out for himself high-balls, as they call whiskey and soda in America. Without a word Harvey at once began on me, saying that I should not be kept here, that it would be an unheard of thing, and so on. Marshall said nothing. His suspicion was that Harding had put Harvey up to say what he did, and had left the room to give him the chance. Marshall had heard, too, that Hoover was much opposed to my being kept at this post.
When Harding was on his southern trip, Marshall went to Palm Beach, and so on to St. Augustine to see him, by appointment of course. The result of that interview was the cable that Marshall sent to me from Chattanooga, a telegram written out by Harding's own hand, in which he said, "rest easy," and so on.
In the meantime Walter Brown... came to St. Augustine. Walter was also opposed to my retention, on the ground that I was a Democrat; had told Marshall that he should not embarrass Harding by asking for my retention, and Marshall supposes, advised Harding against it. Marshall had not specifically asked Harding to do this, but had assumed that he would do so, especially after the telegram he authorized. The understanding with Harding was that I was to be kept here as long as possible, during his whole term, he hoped, "unless the pressure became too great," but certainly this year, and possibly longer. At any rate Harding was to do nothing without consulting Marshall.
Such, in brief, was Marshall's report, and, in a sense, the President's message to me, according to his letter of the other day.
The whole thing, however, was so ambiguous, so vague, shifty and evasive, that it meant to me but one thing, namely, that the President had no intention other than to appease Marshall, to temporize, and in the end, probably very soon, turn me out.(5) It was all so familiar to me, so perfectly typical of the politician of the Ohio school ....
Marshall told me much gossip! The whole state of affairs at Washington disgusted him; Harvey's appointment he considered a scandal, and while he liked Herrick, thought he would never go to Paris, for he was too ill, and faces a desperate operation.
He gave us, too, an amusing picture of Mrs. Harding, a typical provincial from central Ohio, whose standards are those of Marion, wholly without manner or experience of society, perplexed, bewildered, and yet intoxicated by her sudden elevation to the White House. She listens to gossip, and silly tales, too.
Sunday, June 5, 1921.---This afternoon we all drove to Malines, where I had arranged an audience of the Cardinal for four o'clock, first for Marshall, then for General Churchill. The Thomases went, and young Berdan, Nell and I, seven in all. The Abbé Dessain met us, and the dear old Cardinal was awaiting us, with chairs set out in a circle, rather stiffly. We all sat down and the talk went round pleasantly, the Cardinal full of his great humour and sweetness, talking of his trip to America, which remains the event of his life. Tea was brought in, tea so strong that it would have wrecked one's constitution had one drunk it (what one did was to juggle it back to the tray when His dear old Eminence's eyes were turned away). It was served in after-dinner coffee cups; the Belgians know nothing of tea, but always offer it to Anglo-Saxons. There was a poorly baked orange cake, somehow touching. Mrs. Thomas had asked me, and Voltichenko had asked me, to have photographs signed for them; I had reluctantly brought them along, and had had them rather surreptitiously borne in and His Eminence saw them. Then he placed himself at a table and began signing; and when this was done, sent for more of his own, and signed and offered them to Marshall, Churchill, and young Berdan. He made a picture, sitting there by the window, writing on those photographs in his little firm hand; he had made a picture, too, a few minutes before, as he sat, all in silence, rapt, while the chimes in the cathedral played. As we went out I told Abbé Dessain that if I lived in Malines, I should become a Roman Catholic; and he said: "You'd better come up then."
June 6, 1921.---American tourists! They come to see nothing, do nothing, but shop, shop, shop, and that not at the antiquaries, but at the most modern shops. The antiquaries they look on as "secondhand stores;" they like the jewelers best of all; then the shops where wearing apparel of all sorts is sold. Americans go in for personal adornment more than any other people, and generally dress well, though perhaps a bit too conspicuously. At any rate, Marshall keeps Nell busy shopping, and she is quite worn out with it. They buy a good many "souvenirs," too; in fact, when they come abroad they really remain at home, for all they think of is to provide themselves, against their return, with "souvenirs" of things and places they scarcely saw.
This afternoon Marshall and young Berdan went to Antwerp, while Nell and I went to the Palais des Académies, to attend the session held in honour of the centenary of the death of Dante. The usual great crowd that goes to such things, the Nuncio, de Margerie, and so on, in one box, and the room hotter than any inferno Dante ever imagined. The Cardinal in his red robes read a long paper on Dante, and was followed by Khusloff, who, all in black, with black gloves, and a ring very much in evidence, since it was worn outside the glove, read another long paper, and after that Paul Evers read a paper---and so it went on, in that stifling, drowsy heat, until long after five o'clock, one of those preposterous, dull, debilitating "manifestations" in which Belgians take such delight.
June 8, 1921.---We came home, and I found Alfred Madoux sitting in the hall, waiting for me, and he thrust into my hand a copy of the newspaper Midi, for today, with a marked article headed "The Recall of M. Brand Whitlock." The article said that a dispatch from Washington reported that I was to be replaced by Skinner, our Consul General at London, who had had a long interview with the President, and so on. Madoux wishes to know whether or not it was true, but I couldn't tell him, for it was the first intimation that I had had of such a thing. He wished then to know what he was to say about it, and I told him to say nothing---to wait and see. He approved of this course, and went away.
It was nearly dinner-time, and the long, hard day, ending on this pleasing note, was over, and I had had no time to do anything to celebrate it; so I ran out and over to the little florist's across the square and got a great bunch of roses for Nell, came home and gave them to her, and dressed in time for dinner.
After dinner Marshall and Nell and I discussed the story; Marshall was quite bowled over by it, after all that Harding had said to him, and promised him, and refused to believe it. But I went to bed with small doubt of its essential truth and accuracy, at any rate. I know the Ohio school of politics, and it would be precisely that sort of thing that one of its adepts would do.
June 11, 1921.---This evening at ten, Nell and I, with Wadsworth and the Thomases, went to the Hôtel de Ville for the reception to the Crown Prince of Japan. The Prince had been dining at the Carton de Wiarts', and came in with his suite, accompanied by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Brabant, the Prime Minister and Mme. Carton de Wiart, and the Belgian officers attached to the person of His Royal Highness during his visit here. The party took seats on a dais at one end of the Salle Gothique, the gilt chairs at the right being reserved for us of the diplomatic corps. The Nuncio and I were the only Ambassadors present ....
It was a charming scene of colour and movements; every one who had a uniform wore it, and under the Gothic ceilings there was the flash of decorations, of the women's jewels, and the colour of the ribbons and uniforms. The Japanese Prince sat there gazing stolidly out on a spectacle that must have appeared strange to his oriental eyes. He is a thin, stoop-shouldered, hollow-chested son of the sun, with a dark, lowering visage, small, squinting eyes behind great gold-rimmed spectacles, heavy black eyebrows, and a generally stupid expression. He wore a uniform of dark blue, with red and gold trimmings, and held in his hand a gilt képi with a tall white aigrette. When he stood, he seemed rather unsteady on his poor little spindle shanks, and presented a figure far other than that of our tall, smart, well set up and good looking Duke of Brabant. The Crown Prince of Japan had a numerous train, all in uniforms, several chamberlains in long coats. On his right sat his uncle. The Prince Kotohito Kan-in, who is a Field Marshal in the Japanese army, sat on his left, a dark, a strikingly handsome man, with a splendid head, sharp eyes, a smartly trimmed moustache, presenting a noble appearance seated, but losing somewhat when he stood, because he is so short.
After sitting there and watching the dancers a while, the Imperial and Royal Highnesses rose and set out on the traditional tour of the Hôtel de Ville. We followed, and in one of the aldermen's rooms a buffet supper was set out. There I was presented to the Prince Imperial by Adatci. His Imperial Highness stood there, tottering on his legs, swaying back and forth, his head tilted back, and looked at me through those enormous spectacles, out of those narrow slits of eyes, making all the while strange, ugly, gurgling sounds in his throat, which Adatci translated, as I assumed, into French compliments for me. I responded in French compliments, making them as oriental in their exaggeration as I could, and Adatci put them into Japanese, the effect of which was to produce more compliments. Whether His Imperial Highness was the author of these charming expressions of opinion of me and my country, or whether Adatci was, I don't know. His Imperial Highness, at any rate, was a great admirer of America, was desolated because he could not visit it on this journey, was grieved because he could not return home via America, hoped some day to visit America, said that only a hand's breadth of water separated America and Japan, that the bonds between the two nations must be more and more closely united, and so on. I redoubled all he said, and by way of a malicious little dig at Adatci, asked him to please say to his Imperial Highness that I had greatly appreciated the honour of representing and protecting the Japanese interests in Brussels during the war. I did this because, while giving Villalobar the grand order of the Rising Sun, the Japanese Government had never thanked me, and I did all the work---got Kimura out of prison, saved their money, and so on. Adatci was quite equal to the occasion, and had His Imperial Highness say that they were greatly pleased, and highly honoured, that they knew how courageously I had defended their interests.
There is a silly story going about to the effect that the Prince Hirohito cannot, is not allowed to, under Japanese law, to speak or to know any language but Japanese. When Nell was presented, however, he spoke French to her, and Adatci told me that the Prince knew both French and English, but that he made mistakes in speaking them, and hence felt a timidity in doing so. The fact is, no doubt, that they prefer to translate everything in order to prevent his making blunders; he is continually surrounded and hedged about by those courtiers headed by his uncle, with whom, by the way, I had a pleasant talk later. He speaks French well; had been in America, and so on. I also chatted with Count Chinda, whom I like.
June 17, 1921.---The town is shaken by a rather remarkable sensation of a forged cheque. The other day every one was astounded to read of the arrest of Gaston Collet, Director of the Ministry of Colonies, charged with having forged a check on la Banque du Congo for 450,000 francs. With him the police had arrested a man named Van Hooren, an employée in the Ministry, and two others, Elie Finet and his brother, said to be confederates---they were in the Banque du Congo, and had had the cheque cashed there. There was no evidence against Collet save the accusation of Van Hooren, who was Collet's subordinate. The day of their arrest Collet was subject to an interpellation lasting the whole night, and to other interrogatories, but all the while protested his innocence. Van Hooren told the juge d'instruction that he had intercepted a letter addressed to Collet, bearing a London postmark, and marked "private"; that this letter contained a cheque to Collet's order for 75,000 francs, the proceeds of Collet's operations in speculating with foreign exchange using the Government money that passed through his hands; that he had kept this letter intending to use it to extract some advantage, promotion perhaps, from Collet; that Collet, anxious about his letter, sent to inquire if it had been received---Collet was at the Ministry of Colonies, rue de Namur, and Van Hooren at an annex to the ministry in la rue des Petits Carmes; that Van Hooren said to Collet that he had and that he would hold the letter; that thereupon a man asked him on behalf of Collet to meet him on a terrace of the place de Namur; that he then met the man, and that there, in short, after several interviews they concocted the plan of forging the cheque for 475,000 francs, to be divided between Collet and Van Hooren. Van Hooren says that lie does not know the name of this mysterious intermediary, had never seen him before, and has never seen him since. This is a most suspicious circumstance; it is an old and transparent dodge of thieves to introduce an unknown stranger who has disappeared.
June 18, 1921.---Nell and I lunched with Mme. Frantz today.
After luncheon, as we gathered for coffee and cigarettes in the salon downstairs, a charming Flemish room with two fine large pictures by Breughel le Jeune, Nell and Villalobar sat in the choir-stalls at one end of the apartment, engaged in long conversation. On leaving, Villalobar told me that Nell would tell me something, and in the motor she blew this blunder at once---Villalobar is to be married next week at Malines by the Cardinal to his cousin, la Marquise de Guimarey, whom we met recently at his house. He is keeping it a secret; has told no one but his King, the King of the Belgians, and Nell; he wishes the news to fall like a bomb---as it will! His cousin is about his age, fifty-three or fifty-four, and he had to have a special dispensation from Rome to marry her. It will shock the world, because of Villalobar's peculiar infirmities, but he says that he is lonely and wishes a companion. It is a sensible marriage for him.
Van Hooren has confessed all; there was no intermediary, place de Namur, and so on, Collet was wholly innocent, the cheque was forged by Van Hooren with the assistance of his pals Elie and Finet, who attended to cashing it for him; and poor Gaston Collet has been released---after what a hideous nightmare!
Sunday, June 19, 1921.---The newspapers here and at Paris abound in references to Robert de Fleur's speech at the Academy; and all are enthusiastic. The speech, on a purely literary topic, is the sensation of the day, a striking tribute to the culture and intelligence of the French and Belgians. I know of no one in America who could make such a speech, and if there were, no newspaper would publish it, or even refer to it. At Paris, under the cupola of the Academy, the speech was delivered, the élite of Paris was present---the President of the Republic, and Poincaré, and Joffre, and Foch, all laughing and applauding with enthusiastic appreciation. It would be preposterous even to imagine such a thing happening in America.
June 22, 1921.---This is the day for the visit of King George and Queen Mary to Belfast, to open the new Ulster parliament. They show a courage truly regal in thus exposing themselves to a certain and terrible danger, for if some cowardly Sinn Feiner can find a hedge or a barn to hide behind he would make an attempt on their lives. I have felt somehow anxious all day, and am at least relieved that, with evening come, no news of tragedy has arrived.
Sunday, June 26, 1921.---At five with Crocroft and Wilson to the reception given me by the Grand Serment Royal de St. Georges, as Member of Honour. The "locale" of this Society, like the locale of most "sociétés," is behind a beer-garden, but it is a curious, ancient place, "dans le bas de la ville," the very heart of old Brussels. They had hung out the Belgian and American flags, and had a red carpet down across the pavement, and we were met by a committee in evening dress, with decorations, conducted through an old cabaret, through a beer-garden, to a long building in the rear, where, around the walls, on which dusty trophies were hung, with the ancient cross-bows of the members, the society, in black coats, were assembled. Their "King" was there, wearing the great gold chain of his office, and addressed scrupulously as "Sa Majesté"---he called me "Mon Excellence." A gilt and red fauteuil was set out for us, and the President read an address of welcome, to which I read a response. Then Ansbach, one of the Common Council of Brussels, made a speech to which I responded, improvised this time. Then I signed my name in the golden book on a paper especially illuminated for me, and then they gave an exhibition of shooting with the cross-bow. They asked me to have a try, and I ventured; it is a monstrous, heavy weapon; and my first shot was in the target, but my second hit the bull's eye---"j'ai mis dans la rose," as they say. There was much applause and great enthusiasm; many felicitations, and shaking hands all around; and I had to be photographed with the target, and then sign my name to it, so that they might keep it as a souvenir. They proposed that I try again, but I declined, thinking it wise to let well enough alone. After that, there was the ceremony of drinking beer---the sickening "lambit" of Brussels, which I tasted---it is nasty stuff; Baudelaire said that it tasted like beer that had already been drunk, "ça goutte comme de la bière qu'on a déjà bue." There were more moving pictures, more felicitations, shaking of hands, and I left, conducted to my motor by the committee in full evening dress.
The whole thing is typically Bruxellois; the President read his speech in the rich Bruxellois accent, and pinned the insignia of the guild on my breast. They are simple, kindly folk; and this society has an uninterrupted history of nearly six centuries, having been founded in 1382. It is a survival of the old guilds, and was, in its day, one of the companies of cross-bowmen that hardily defended the liberties of the city. Now they shoot at a target---for the beer!
Every one is excited over the Dempsey-Carpentier fight, which is to take place next Saturday.(6) The French are, of course, sure that their man will win. Below stairs a continual war goes on between Charles, the chef, and Jules, the footman, on the one hand, they both being French, and Marie, Nell's maid, who is strongly pro-American, and other of the other servants, on the other hand. The betting at home is four to one on Dempsey, who should win, and I hope that he will.
June 27, 1921.---Off to Louvain about 12:15. Was received by Monseigneur Debecker(7) and his vice-rector, Carron, and taken to that room overlooking the pleasant garden where we had luncheon on that memorable day in 1914, in September---was it the 26th? The room is unchanged, but its atmosphere is different, for now the college is alive with the presence of students; then it was empty, and dead, and sad. The Rector mustered the students in that drawing-room, forty of them perhaps, young Americans---Irish every one---all in long black cassocks.
From there to the dining-room for luncheon, at which there were present, besides Mgr. Debecker and myself, Mgr. Ladeuze, rector of the university of Louvain, Baron de Xivry, Mgr. Debecker, brother of the rector. The luncheon was typically Belgian, long and heavy, but the talk was lively and interesting, consisting for the greater part of reminiscences of the occupation, and the horror of the sack of Louvain. I asked them to give me their opinion of the visit made to Louvain by Gibson, Poussette, and Bulle, that August day in 1914, when they saw firing from upper windows in the rue de la Station. They all declared that it was without doubt a comedy prepared expressly to impress the secretaries with the truth of the German claims that Louvainists had fired on the German troops. The Germans knew that they were coming, of course; and Baron de Xivry said, since Poussette and Bulle were both pro-German, they swallowed it, and Gibson was duped. He left no doubt in my mind that this was the truth; the Louvainists were all unarmed. The German soldiers had been disguised in clothes taken from one of the hospitals, I think they said; they all knew that and identified the clothes. Besides this, de Stryker, who was imprisoned at that moment in the station, said that one of the German soldiers there had told him that the soldiers came to fire.
June 30, 1921.---Today Villalobar and his cousin, la Marquise de Guimarey, were married at Malines by the Cardinal. I have not heard a kind word, I think, about this wedding, so mean and ugly in spirit is human nature!
This is the last day of the sale of poor Cardon's collection. The pictures have brought high prices, and a fortune is realized for the heirs, those distant relations who had nothing to do with Cardon in his lifetime, and for whom he cared nothing. For several days the story has been going about, circulated with eagerness and willingness with which people carry bad news, or repeat disagreeable stories or scandal, that many of the pictures in the collection are not authentic. I believe that, as a matter of fact, the story has been expressly put in circulation by the dealers to discourage bidding.
Sunday, July 3, 1921.---It has been a fine day of perfect weather. In the first place, Dempsey won, knocking out Carpentier in the fourth round, after having had the better of it all the way through the fight; out-sparring, out-pointing, out-hitting, out-classing the much-vaunted Frenchman, who was never in it for a second. Marie was in ecstasies when she came in this morning: "Dempsey won," she said, "in the fourth round. I am ticked to death." All the servants except her had been for Carpentier. I am glad of the result because Dempsey is an American, and the better boxer, and then because if the Frenchman had won the French would have been insufferable. The news stunned Brussels. Never has there been such interest in a sporting event; the Belgians have become such idolators of the French that they never doubted for an instant Carpentier's victory; the mere fact that he was French was sufficient to prove his superiority and assure his triumph. As a matter of fact neither the French nor the Belgians are sportsmen or know anything about sport. They have no sports in Belgium save their silly bicycle races and some sporadic football; ditto for the French. They had their one boxer, a very clever middleweight, and a chap of attractive personality, very game, very chic, and they went mad over him, and thought they had a world-beater. With the usual French conceit, they boasted and blew about his superior qualities, his skill, his extraordinary intelligence, his brilliant tactics, and all that, proclaimed him, in short, the most astounding phenomenon as yet produced in the human form on this planet. Dempsey, on the other hand, was nothing but an American, slow, rude, savage, unrefined, heavy, a mere brute in fact. They have been ridiculous and sickening. Any one who knew anything about the manly art, any one who could recall, as I can, Paddy Ryan's defeat, then the rise and long, brilliant reign of old John L. Sullivan---the best of them all---then Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jeffries, Jack Johnson, "Lil' Arthur," and the long line, any one who was of that tradition, knew that no mere clumsy lout had ever become the champion heavyweight of the world; knew too, that "a big 'un always beats a little 'un," knew in short that Dempsey not only had the advantage of his size, but that he was as fast and as clever as Carpentier. And so Dempsey has won, and the French and the Latin races generally can now cool off, and quiet down---saying, no doubt, that it wasn't fair---and perhaps some day learn that if they wish to beat the Anglo-Saxon race at sports, English or American, they have to begin a century ago, and cultivate the sporting spirit to begin with.
Lloyd George has made an effort at peace in Ireland, inviting Irish leaders, north and south, to a conference in London. De Valera apparently hesitates to accept for fear of Sinn Fein. I suppose the radicals in Ireland and the States do not wish peace. There is, I fancy, little ground for hope.
July 4, 1921.---Congress has adopted the revised and corrected Knox resolutions "declaring peace" with Germany and Austria, and the President signs it today.(8) It is not a thing, I mean this method of making peace is not a thing, in which one can take much patriotic pride, after the way in which we as a nation funked after the treaty of Versailles was signed.
July 7, 1921.---This afternoon a long walk downtown, a shopping expedition, and then back to tea, when de Reul(9) came with the manuscript of the book which he is cutting to the bone. I hate to see it mutilated, but there is no other way to get it published in French. Afterward two young officers from Admiral Niblack(10) here, to make arrangements for his visit; which is, after all, official, highly official. We are having him and his wife and his aide or chief of staff and his wife here to luncheon tomorrow, and Saturday we go to tea on his ship, the whole thing a dreadful bore. As a matter of fact, we are completely infested by American tourists---all arriving with letters of introduction from somebody; they are arriving, arriving, serenely arriving, all expecting to be entertained.
July 9, 1921.---We have just returned, Nell and I, from Antwerp, where I visited officially the flagship of Admiral Niblack, the armoured cruiser Pittsburgh, and the destroyer Sands. Like many things that one anticipates with dread, thinking that they will be great bores, this turned out to be really a very pleasant experience. Nell and I, after lunching at Henri Lamberts' in the country, hurried home, and took a train at 3:20 for Antwerp; arriving there about 4:10. We were met by the Thomases and the Wilsons and Crocroft, and driven to the wharf, where the ships lay. The crew was mustered aft, the Admiral and his staff in full dress uniform, very stunning, and as I went aboard the band played the "Star-Spangled Banner," I standing uncovered at the gangway. Then there came presentations all around. The Governor of the Province of Antwerp was there, General Cobra, and several others. We all went to the Sands, and were shown over the ship, which is, I suppose, the finest type of destroyer afloat. It was most interesting---and most frightfully hot. When we got back to the Pittsburgh, we had tea in the Admiral's quarters, and then came away, stopping in the quarter-deck while the band played the "Star-Spangled Banner," and then, after this farewell, I went ashore. Just as I reached the wharf, and was standing at the door of my motor---I should say just as I was shoving off in my barge---the guns began roaring the salute to an Ambassador; I stood there uncovered; on the deck of the flagship against the blazing western sky, the motionless silhouettes of the Admiral, of the Captain, and the other officers, standing at the salute. The guns kept banging away, roaring and reverberating over the Scheldt, until the full ambassadorial nineteen had been fired. It was fine!
De Valera, after some hesitation, has accepted Lloyd George's invitation, and will go to London for a conference on Ireland.
There is to be a truce, beginning Monday. Thus there is some hope, but not much: de Valera is a nobody, a mere figurehead for the self-styled "Irish Republic," and has no power. The leaders of Sinn Fein, whatever may be the desire of the rank and file, do not wish peace, for that would take away their living. And then there is no assurance that the Irish would observe terms of settlement, even if they could be reached, since the Irish are Irish and would continue to be Irish still. The only hope is that the Vatican may be of the opinion that the present offensive has gone far enough, and be ready to call a halt for a few years.
Sunday, July 10, 1921.---There is talk now of an arrangement on the part of England, Japan, the United States, and China as to the Pacific; it is to replace the Anglo-Japanese treaty, about to expire, and to be the precursor of disarmament. It would be an excellent arrangement. The English are just beginning to realize since the Dominion Conference that a renewal of the treaty with Japan will offend American opinion, and Canadian and Australian opinion as well. As a matter of fact, the English have blundered into a nasty hole with that question, and now to blunder out of it, they have first discovered-by an opinion of the Chancellor---that the treaty is not really renewable for another year.
July 12, 1921.---Jaspar has sent me word that he wishes to see me. I am sure that he wishes to protest against the failure to include Belgium in the invitations to the conference on disarmament at Washington. The President has asked England, France, Japan and Italy to send representatives to discuss the control of the Pacific; England is happy to do so because it affords, or may afford, a way out of the muddle over the Japanese treaty.
July 13, 1921.---I have never in my life suffered so from the heat as I have these last few days; although I have frequently known hotter weather in America. It is prostrating and the nights are hideous, for one has to have all the windows open, or suffocate, and the nights are one long horror of trams, taxis, with their shrieking or bellowing horns, motorcycles, people singing, talking, laughing, screaming, sneezing or what not; cats howling and two steeple clocks thundering out the hours, and the half-hours, and the quarter-hours!
Henry L. Stimson(11) called at 12:30 with Admiral Niblack, Captain Reeves, Colonel Thomas, Lieutenant Commander Dunn, Wilson and a number of officers of our fleet to go to the Palace for luncheon with the King.
The King nice, as always. Told me that in London he made fifteen speeches---and said it was all terrible, having to make speeches and to listen to them. He asked me about disarmament, and spoke of Lloyd George's and Briand's going to Washington, as announced in this morning's newspapers. "The Preëm Ministers like to travel," he said; "they enjoy it. It enables them to say, when they are interpellated, 'I know nothing about that; I was on a voyage when that occurred."
After luncheon, I went to see Jaspar. I was right. He wanted me to make representations at Washington in support of those he has had Cartier make, asking that Belgium be invited, too.(12) He gave me his reasons, which I asked him to embody in a note for me and this he agreed to do. I found him rather perturbed, and in that serious mood in which he becomes preeminently the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he addressed me formally as "Monsieur l'Ambassadeur." He said that the conference called by the President was a capital affair for Belgium; he thought it the death of the League of Nations; Belgium, while pretending to no right to be consulted in the regulation of policies to be pursued in the Pacific, where she had no interests, save commercial interests in Asia, nevertheless was vitally interested in the question of terrestrial disarmament. Belgium had played a leading or an important rôle in the war, and had expected recognition and aid afterward; but she had been snubbed and ignored at the Peace Conference, as a result of the machinations of Clemenceau and Lloyd George; her hopes had all been disappointed. He didn't mention the snubbing that President Wilson gave Belgium in the matter of the seat of The League of Nations, nor Lansing's really base betrayal of a friend and ally when he did all that he could to aid Holland and to check Belgium in the revision of the treaties of 1839, but perhaps he had that in mind. However, since March, 1920, Belgium had been represented at the meetings of the Supreme Council---at Spa, where Delacroix had presided---at Boulogne, at Barcelona, at San Remo, at Paris, and at London, and had then made her influence felt and had gained great prestige. He would not like now to have his country lose this prestige because America had ignored her, and because the President had employed that pernicious phrase, "the principal Allied and Associated Powers." He did not claim that Belgium was as big or as important as England or France, or Italy, or America---the biggest and most powerful of them all---but she had played a rôle that entitled her to consideration. He said that Belgium had given proof of a superior political sagacity, and that Belgium was not to be compared to other small nations, like Poland, and so on . ... He it was, he said, who had prevented the French from occupying the Ruhr; they had been eager to do so, but he had been opposed .... By so doing he could claim to have preserved the peace in Europe. This Belgium would do again; in fact, this conference at Washington could not be a success unless Belgium were represented. He had instructed Gaffier at Washington to see Hughes, and he had already done so; would also see him again, for as ideas and arguments occurred to him, he was cabling them to Gaffier. He had also asked Cissier at Paris and Moncheur at London to ask the French and British to support him, at Washington; the French would do so but he didn't think the English would. If it should be insisted that the other nations would object if they were not asked, it could be replied that they had not done so when Belgium was admitted to the Supreme Council. He said---which is quite true---that Americans are not informed on European matters, and so on. I told him that I should cable to Washington, and on returning home I dictated a cablegram. He also wished me to ask the President to send a message of some sort to Louvain at the ceremony on the 28th, when the cornerstone of the new university is to be laid.
July 28, 1921.---We arrived at Louvain about 10:30, going to la Collège du Pope Adrien, a fine large grey stone building of the University (which is scattered all over this unattractive, this peculiarly unattractive town), with a quadrangle and great gates. We drove to the broad steps, with the band of one of the regiments, the First Grenadiers, I think, playing to the right of it. As I descended, the band began to play the "Star-Spangled Banner," while we stood at attention, and as they were finishing, the Cardinal, in all the splendour of his red robes, came, as it were, floating down those grey old steps---and a splendid picture he made!---to greet me. Within, there were already assembled a number of the dear colleagues, and more of them still arriving. Marshal Pétain was there in his uniform of horizon blue, and Poincaré in the green coat of the French Academy, the broad magenta ribbon of the Order de Léopold showing across his breast. I chatted with both of them and with the Cardinal, and with Monseigneur Ladeuze, rector of the University, in heavy robes of scarlet and black velvet. Then there was the flutter of excitement caused by the arrival of Their Majesties, trumpets without, and the Cardinal floating over to meet them. The King and Queen came in, and greeted us all. Their Majesties were accompanied by the usual suite and by Her Royal Highness the Princess Marie-José and by a rather tall, simple, grey-bearded old man, in a rusty frock coat, trousers that were cut too long, and ill-fitting boots, who proved to be His Royal Highness Albert, Prince of Monaco. I was presented to him, and we chatted awhile, and I found him really delightful, simple, genuine, unaffected, sensible, no side whatever.
The King came up to me later on, and said with his droll expression:
"There are going to be a great many discourses today!"
His Majesty, however, was returning to Brussels directly the cornerstone was laid and was not stopping for the banquet, where there were to be many speeches.
"Wise sovereign!" I said to him, and he laughed.
Nicholas Murray Butler and his wife and daughter had arrived meanwhile; and at last, when it was nearing eleven o'clock, and all the dignitaries had arrived, we formed a procession, a rather royal procession, and proceeded down the steps, past the cinema operators, across a corner of the quadrangle, to the hall.
And entering, one felt in one's face a burst of heat like that of a blast furnace. I never experienced any heat so debilitating, so entirely suffocating. And such an odeur. The human body, and wet wool! Ugh! I really feared to be overcome. The auditorium, which is a hemicycle, was packed---there is not a window in it, for the seats rise in an amphitheatre to the roof, where there were two or three small transom windows, but these were black with students perched in them. The room was lighted by a skylight, through which a torrid sun beat down on the bald heads and heavy scarlet robes of a delegation of professors from French universities, who were finally driven from these seats.
The scene, however, to the eye, was brilliant. The King and Queen, and Princess, and the Prince of Monaco on the platform, their suite behind them visibly melting under the heat---the King bored and wilting, the Queen sitting bolt upright, as though the heat had no power over Her Majesty; the Cardinal in his brilliant robes of red silk; Butler in a morning coat, sitting with one foot cocked up on his knee, the sole of his boot brushing the Cardinal's robe. High up, a dark silhouette against a column, a monk, a dark scraggy man, with a ragged black beard, and the eyes of a fanatic. Over the platform a trophy of flags, our own highest of all, and the yellow and white colours of the Holy See. All of the diplomatic corps were on the left.
The Cardinal presided at the ceremony, and as he took his place in the tribune that had been placed at the right of the stage---how much better, by the way, to have a tribune, than our bold, bare, custom of having the orator stand on the edge of the platform, showing his wrinkled trousers and ill-fitting boots!---as he took his place in the tribune (with its classic glass of water), he was obviously a happy man. He made a discourse, thanking America and lauding France.
Then he introduced me, and mounting the tribune, I read, in a French translation that I had prepared, the message sent at my suggestion by the President. The whole audience rose and stood, in honour of the President, while I read this message, and there was much applause, and cries of "Vive l'Amérique."
Then Poincaré. Months ago when I lunched with him at the Cardinal's, His Eminence invited Poincaré to attend this ceremony, and to make an address on "La Culture Française," but to our disappointment, he read an address on the sack of Louvain, gleaned largely from the Belgian reply to the German White Book, a diatribe against the boche, an essay that sounded as though it had been prepared for publication in the Revue des Deux Mondes, as doubtless it had. It was clear in thought, of course, and of notable diction, but read in that hard, sharp, metallic voice of Poincaré's.
Butler read an address, too, perhaps before Poincaré; it was in French, but Butler's accent is execrable: he says, "ja suis horose," and refers to "le purple Belge," and so on, really distressing in that respect, though good enough in others.
Then old Hulleputte, in a black silk gown as Professor Emeritus, made a stump speech in Flemish, much to the disgust of the French element, though a group of Flemish students applauded heartily. French translations were provided for the rest of us ....
Outside in the hot streets a procession was formed, and behind the King and the Queen and the nice old Prince of Monaco, Poincaré, in his academician's dress, and the Cardinal, his long red robe borne by a lad, we walked slowly through the dust and the heat to the Place du Peuple, where the new library is to be reared. A stand had been erected on the foundations, with a scarlet tribune for royalty, and a dais for the Cardinal. We were ordered to go with royalty, Nell and I; there were all sorts of ceremonies; we signed our names on a sheet of parchment with a quill pen, the King, the Queen, the Princess, the Prince of Monaco, the Cardinal, Butler and I. Then there was a religious ceremony; the Cardinal, doffing his red robe, and being enveloped in a lovely old cape and crowned with his mitre, sat there, holding his crozier, a picture out of the middle ages, while the modern cinema operators, dozens of them, thrust their machines impudently into his face, spoiling the spectacle. A great choir of boys, a hundred or more, sang plain songs beautifully, though the Latin words were of the present day, and in a way amusing, especially, "Viro ornatissimo Butlero, almae Americanae legato cuius oro humanitatis gratiarum actis, laus et gloria." And then: "Sancte Nicolae tu ilium adjuvo"---St. Nicholas, of course, being the patron saint of Nicholas Murray.
After this Monseigneur Ladeuze read a lengthy address, and conferred a doctor's degree on Butler; then he laid the cornerstone.
It was after two when we sat down, about four hundred of us, to a typical Belgian banquet de province. Mrs. Butler, who was to have gone to the luncheon given by Mme. Nirincx to the ladies, preferred the men's banquet. I was at her right, and on my right the Bishop of Bruges. Then Marshal Pétain. The banquet was, as I say, the typical banquet de province, heavy meats and old burgundy; it was too hot, one was too miserable and uncomfortable to eat or drink, and I sat in agony through three mortal hours, eating a crumb of bread now and again while the noise and the clatter of dishes and the bedlam of voices beat on me. Finally, worst of all, the speeches began. The Cardinal proposed a toast---the Pope, the President, the King and Queen, and me, and I responded in French. Then the speeches went on and on. Berard, French Minister of Public Instruction, made an excellent speech with that fluency which is too highly developed with the French. More speeches, by Belgians, Greeks, Swiss, French, everybody, as at the Tower of Babel, which the scene so much resembled.
America gave the money only---and the architect, Whitney Warren. They showed me the plans; the library is to be in the style of the Flemish Renaissance, of the thirteenth century; it is strongly touched by the modern American influence, and looks like the new railway station at Keokuk, Ia. Why Whitney Warren, of all men? Why not a Belgian architect, who would have the Flemish style in his very bones?
And why, one might also ask, should American Protestants build up a Roman Catholic seat of learning, even though it were destroyed by the furor Germanicus? Did Roman Catholics, anywhere on this planet, ever give a penny toward building up a Protestant institution? Or will they be any the less intolerant in their attitude toward the Protestants in Belgium? But perhaps all these are unworthy reflections. The Cardinal is a dear, anyway.
July 29, 1921.---I had my usual morning walk in the Parc Léopold, and at twelve drove to Malines to have luncheon with the Cardinal, a sort of aftermath of the great celebration of yesterday. I thought it would have prostrated the Cardinal, but not at all; he was fit as could be, and right as a rivet, borne up I think by enthusiasm, by a kind of exaltation over the event of yesterday, which evidently stands in his mind, good soul, as a symbol of reparation for the wrongs that were done by the unspeakable Germans in Belgium. He had asked the Americans to luncheon, and some others too .... There were several American priests there, and an Irish priest, the Rev. Father Ryan, who in a delicious brogue discoursed privately to me on the outrages committed by England on the poor, dear, downtrodden Sinn Feiners. Cyrus Hall McCormick of Chicago was there, too, and before he went into luncheon voiced to me his utter abhorrence of his nephew or cousin, Senator Medill McCormick, whose character he seems to me to read aright. He said that when he asked Medill why he had done such a detestable thing as to introduce a resolution for the recall and reprimand of Admiral Sims (or perhaps it was one of Medill's Sinn Fein resolutions that was the occasion of the question) Medill said: "Oh, you mustn't take such things too seriously."
At luncheon I had a charming talk with the Cardinal. We talked of all sorts of things. I asked him, for one thing, if it would be indiscreet in me to express the hope that my old friend Mgr. John T. O'Connell of Toledo would be made bishop. I told him that, as a Protestant, it was no concern of mine, but that I liked O'Connell personally and should like to see him get on, in the church, if not in the world.
Then we had a long talk about Cardinal Newman---he had never heard of "Lead, Kindly Light"---and of Manning, and then we talked rather intimately about religion; I found him rather broad but we couldn't, of course, go far at table.
Sunday, July 31, 1921.---France and England have fixed the fourth of August for their meeting at Paris to try to settle their row over Upper Silesia. The English are wholly right in their contention, and I hope that they stand their ground. The French have been up to their old trick of placing before their allies an accomplished fact and then whining about the necessity of sticking together.
After tea today I went for a walk, and passing a cinema in the avenue Louise saw the Dempsey-Carpentier fight on the bill, and so went in. I dislike the cinema in general, but this proved to be excellent, a most interesting film. It shows the men at their training, then the construction of the vast arena, the wonderful spectacle of the crowd, and then the fight. The pictures are a remarkable exposition of American life, but they were presented for the French public, with an evident and of course quite natural preference for Carpentier all the way through. This, however, is overdone; much stress is laid on Carpentier as "un homme civilisé"---as though he were superior in intelligence, taste, etc., to Dempsey: and it shows him, too, in all the typical low comedy of the French, bowing and scraping, smiling, smelling flowers, smiling at the crowd, and so on, ad nauseam. Dempsey, on the contrary, was simple, natural, businesslike, with no frills, no play-acting, quite genuine and sincere, going into the ring, and polishing his man right off from the first tap of the gong. He was Carpentier's superior in every way, not only in weight, reach, and the natural advantage of his class as a heavy weight, but quicker, faster, nimbler, more intelligent, a better boxer and a better man. There was something pathetic about Carpentier, he was so wholly outclassed; Dempsey had him running about the ring, jumping through the ropes. Only once, in the second round, did the Frenchman hit him; it staggered the big fellow, and the crowd rose, wave on wave, like the sea. Then the fight was over; thereafter it was all Dempsey. Carpentier was plucky and game and fought on, but in the fourth round, Dempsey knocked him down for nine counts, and when he got up, knocked him out, then lifted him in his arms and bore him to his corner. The good big 'un had licked the good little 'un. And I was glad:---and am disgusted with those mawkish Americans who were licking the boots of the French by shouting for Carpentier. There is a soft strain in America just now, as a result of prohibition, coeducation, woman suffrage, and sentimentalism, uplift, and that sort of rot.
August 1, 1921.---Lord Northcliffe, in America on his trip around the world, is having all sorts of troubles. First, as a result of the leader in the Times a few weeks ago, in which it was said that Lloyd George and Curzon should not go to Washington as England's representatives at the disarmament conference (Curzon because he was "pompous and conceited and lacked a sense of humour," and Lloyd George "because no one in the world trusts him"), the British Embassy was instructed by the Foreign Office not to entertain Northcliffe; and this made a sensation. Now an interview with Wickham Steed in the New York Times has been attributed to Northcliffe, representing him as having quoted King George as saying to Lloyd George, "Do you want to shoot all my subjects in Ireland?" And this has brought on a great row, so that the King has denied having said such a thing. It is particularly unfortunate because just now there seems to be some faint hope of settling the Irish question---if any Irish row ever can be settled, which is unlikely. Northcliffe has cabled the King denying the interview, but the mischief is done.
August 11, 1921.---Poor Caruso is dead, and one feels sad that the world has lost that interesting figure. What a personality he was, so to attract two continents! He loved life, too; a pity he must die so young.
Le Père Habran at the ceremony at Leffe Sunday, a ceremony in honour of the people of that place who were shot by the Germans, made a speech in which he said that "the war was a Protestant war, clearly anti-Catholic and of a Lutheran frenzy; truly a religious war against God and His Christ." And this, a week after American Protestants, foolishly to be sure, had provided for the reconstruction of the library at Louvain; after England and America won the war---both Protestant nations---after America fed the Belgians, and after the Pope himself was pro-boche in the war! I was invited to the ceremony at Leffe, and am glad that I didn't go.
With the terrible famine in Russia, the régime of Bolshevism---of Socialism---would seem to have run its course .... The final, triumphant proof of the hopeless folly of the human race, is not, as one might have supposed, that a whole nation was willing to embrace Socialism; it is to be found in the fact that after three or four years of the experiment, with a nation in ruins, and its people starving and dying of famine by thousands, there should be left any one on the earth who had the effrontery to stand up and call himself a Socialist. And yet there are; le Peuple is still issued every morning, and Socialist Ministers draw pay, four of them. It is no good for them to say that which they have had in Russia is not Socialism; it is Socialism, it is the real, genuine, scientific, class-conscious Marxian Socialism, with the duly consecrated Socialist Pope administering all its sacraments in Marx's holy name.
August 13, 1921.---The negotiations at Paris have broken down and failed. Lloyd George held out against the French imperialists, and the French didn't dare give in, for they are bound to the Poles by their promises. The question has therefore been referred to the League of Nations, and Lloyd George has gone home to hold a cabinet meeting to consider De Valera's latest Irish, or Sinn Fein note. The Daily Mail says that the De Valera note does not preclude hopes of peace, but its contents are still unknown to the public. It is intimated that it asks more information.
August 16, 1921.---Today we have in the newspapers the result of the negotiations as to Ireland, that international nuisance. De Valera's reply is no, of course, as I expected it to be. Lloyd George, on behalf of the British Government, made a most generous, magnanimous offer, that is, to give Ireland the status of a Dominion precisely as Canada and South Africa have it. He made six necessary conditions, reserving to the Imperial Government the right for their navy to use Irish waters and to protect itself generally. It is more than the wildest Irish agitator ever claimed .... But De Valera, in a long, tortuous, weak, pettifogging reply, full of specious arguments, says that it is not enough, though, true Irish that he is, he doesn't say just what he does want, doubtless doesn't know. Lloyd George has sent a remarkably pertinent and statesmanlike reply, leaving the door open to future negotiations. With the correspondence is published a letter from Sir James Craig, setting forth Ulster's position soberly and with dignity. The Southern Irish wish, of course, to tyrannize over Ulster. There is also a letter from General Smuts to De Valera advising the Irish to accept the British offer. It is quite the best of all the letters, well-reasoned, frank and fair, and by far the best written, full of sound judgment and common sense, and fine feeling. De Valera naturally is piqued because this letter has been published, for it cuts the ground out from under him.
August 17, 1921.---We had a pleasant time with Van der Busch(13) last evening, and he has invited us to visit him there in the autumn. He has a charming house, full of fine engravings and all done in excellent taste, and the dinner was good .... The talk was mostly of the Irish muddle. The Belgians all being Catholic and intensely anti-English, are delighted by De Valera's muddy and stubborn reply and glory in England's discomfiture. It was left to Nell, Mrs. Lippincott and her daughter, and me to defend the English.
The Times today prints a column of American newspaper opinion. All of it, I was delighted and surprised to see, is in favour of acceptance by the Irish of the British terms, and says that if the Irish refuse they will forfeit American sympathy. The Dail meets today at Dublin, and the tone at London is calm and hopeful, since, after all, in the exchange of notes, no one slammed the door. Smuts's splendid letter has had a wonderful effect, and is evidently responsible for American opinion; without it to guide them, the newspapers at home would never have seen the point.
August 18, 1921.---So much is happening in this evil world that one can't keep account of it all, especially in this Eden where only the newspapers come with their tales of human deviltry. There is the famine in Russia, and Lloyd George's speech in the House on the work of the Supreme Council, everybody praising it---that is, everybody and all parties in England, the French and Belgian newspapers sneer, of course. But in that position he has the whole of his people behind him, as he has in the Irish business. As to that wretched muddle, we have today the reports of the meeting of Dail Eireann at Dublin yesterday, when De Valera made a foolish speech, saying that Ireland claimed complete separation from Great Britain, and that the only government that the Irish recognize is the Dail Eireann, and that the only basis on which negotiations can continue is that of the recognition of the Irish Republic. The speech, as I read it in the Times, is however full of vague involved phrases, and not at all the speech of a responsible statesman in the midst of a crisis. In fact, it is curious to note how little personality is revealed by the utterances of this foolish man, and how little respect he inspires; one has the impression of a vague, furtive figure, hiding behind the mists and fogs of words. The Irish have no doubt worked themselves up into a state of mystical fanaticism, and I see no hope of any outcome, other than a continuation of the struggle that has always been going on in that island. De Valera seems to have no common sense, no appreciation of realities, and is, I fancy, a poor imitation of a national leader. One doesn't know, of course, what is going on behind the scenes; there may be some Irishmen wise enough to see that the English offer should be accepted, and all the reports we have from America, Canada, Australia, and South Africa indicate that that is the feeling there. The Dail is now to have secret sessions, and perhaps some counsels of wisdom will be heard there, though it is doubtful; and one never knows what extravagances the Irish character will commit next.
The Belgian newspapers are all cynically opposed to any attempt to help the starving Russians, and employ precisely the same arguments that we used to hear, and which we had to overcome, when in 1914 we began to organize relief for the starving Belgians themselves. In seven years that is all forgotten!
August 19, 1921.---De Valera has macle another speech, a mad fanatical speech, saying that Ireland will be satisfied with nothing but complete separation from Britain. He is evidently the true type of fanatic, who sees no reality, has no practical good sense, but is wrought into a frenzy over what he calls his "principles," and with that sort there is of course no compromise, no arrangement, no way of dealing. The Irish problem is insoluble, and always will be, so long as that type of Irishman is in control, as it probably always will be ....
The American Legion politicians are barging around France, being fêted and making speeches, and are coming to Belgium, so that I am trembling for my holiday.
August 22, 1921.---The Irish situation, while no clearer, is at least more understandable---there is an excellent dispatch in the Daily Mail today from Dublin which throws some light on the matter. The whole world---the whole Anglo-Saxon world---advises Ireland to accept, and is eager for her to do so. The Irish people evidently would like to do so. Why then, don't they do so? Because the Dail Eireann is composed of members all of whom have sworn some dreadful oath to support the Irish Republic and nothing else; they used to criticize Parnell and Redmond for "compromising," they are, in a way, the descendants of the Fenians, the extremists, the fanatics, the mad-men of the cause, the "impossibilists," the "Bolsheviki" of all causes. They cannot, without forswearing themselves, without going back on their boastings, now consent to compromise. Perhaps a way will be found by having a referendum.
August 23, 1921.---Just as I expected, this junketing trip of the American Legion has compromised my holiday. They have been barging around all over France, making a nuisance of themselves, putting everybody to all sorts of trouble, and now are heading toward Belgium. A letter from Wadsworth today informs me that they are arriving Sunday, and we shall have to go back.
August 26, 1921.---The dispatches today say that a treaty of peace has been signed between America and Germany, and between us and Austria. It is said to be a short treaty written in English, and only in English, and containing but twelve hundred words. It reserves to us all our rights under the treaty of Versailles, but apparently accepts none of the responsibilities of that document.(14) It is followed, so the dispatches say, by a treaty of commerce. It has the advantage of putting an end to the anomalous and intolerable situation, but it comes as a surprise to every one, for it has been negotiated in the profoundest secrecy, and no one seems to have known of it, beyond a few allusions in the press these last two days, until its consummation was announced. There seems to be something ambiguous in it for that reason, and it is easy to imagine what a cry would have come up had Wilson negotiated a treaty in secret. As it is, it is a shameful sort of thing, the crowning of an act that is almost nationally a dishonour, for it is a separate peace, coming after our abandonment of our late allies on the heels of a glorious victory won in common. We were late, too late, in entering the war and then we scuttled out when the war was over, and now, we skulk off in secret and make a peace. It is much like welching. The newspapers have as yet made only guarded comments. As our late allies or "associates," as we were so careful to call them, all owe us money, they will probably continue to be guarded in what they say of it and of us. But one knows what they think.
August 30, 1921.---A cablegram from the Department about the treaty with Germany, explaining it, and hoping that the Belgian Government would make no objections, and so on, and asking me to get an expression of opinion. Jaspar is in Switzerland, but I went to see Carton de Wiart and explained the business to him. He was very guarded, evidently wishing to wait until he knew what Paris would say. But I got him to say about what I wished... and had him write it out, and I have sent a cable to Washington.
Sunday, September 4, 1921.---Grahame told me that there had been a sharp clash between the British and American Governments over the Washington Conference. Lloyd George and Curzon had proposed a preliminary conference at London with the British colonial premiers, Harvey to be present, to thrash out some things in advance. Curzon had been talking with Harvey and had understood from him that this would be acceptable. Curzon had talked to Harvey as one talks to diplomatists, supposing, or assuming, that Harvey was responsible, and knew what he was saying, whereas Harvey was talking through his hat. Washington practically repudiated Harvey, or what he had said, and there was a sharp exchange of notes. Then, to be pleasant, Curzon offered to go to Washington for a preliminary conference, and this Washington refused flatly, so that it was a decided snub to the British. Curzon now, apparently, has some feeling against Harvey. Grahame is going to show me all the notes. In the British diplomatic service the notes, correspondence, and so on, are sent out to the chiefs of all missions, so as to keep them informed. The same plan is adopted by other governments. Of course our government does no such thing; but then we have no diplomatic service.
September 5, 1921.---The Daily Mail today publishes De Valera's latest note to Lloyd George, the same sort of specious, jesuitical sophistry, talking of "consent of the governed," but not closing the door, for if the note begins on the usual truculent and uncompromising note it ends with an offer to "discuss" provided that the English admit the principle of "consent of the governed." The letter is headed by the usual phrase "official translation"---as though Irishmen all talked and wrote and thought in Gailic! Such idiotic pretense is sickening and is one proof more that the Irish are impossible. If Lloyd George's last note did not admit the principle of the "consent of the governed," then there is no way to admit it. He is in Scotland, and has summoned the members of the Cabinet to meet him at Inverness on Wednesday, to consider the reply. The fact is that there isn't a statesman or a leader among the Irish.
Grahame, on his way home, stopped over night with ------. The old man knew Parnell and Gladstone, and told Grahame that long years ago, more than thirty, when Gladstone was on the point of settling the Irish question, Parnell, alarmed, said to him, "That old fool isn't going to offer us home rule, is he?"
September 6, 1921.---At six to the Foreign Office to see Jaspar.
He brought up the subject of the Washington Conference, said that Belgium as yet had no invitation, that he felt very disappointed. He told me of his talk with Herrick at Paris---as Wadsworth had written me at Spa---said that Herrick was ready to help if only I would write to him, and so on. I could see, very plainly, that Herrick had been flattering him and that sort of thing. I did not say that I should write but that I should look into the question. Herrick, of course, had no intention of helping him; and even if I were to ask him, would do nothing but put me into an embarrassing situation by writing to Washington that I had been calling on him for help in my job.
Then I asked him about his meeting with Van Karnebeek in Switzerland. He said that they had met in Lucerne; after he had telephoned to Van Karnebeek, and asked him to meet him, he had found Van Karnebeek a very pleasant man, cultivated, speaking French well, and they had a very satisfactory conversation. He had said, laughing, "Will you give me the Limbourg?" and when
Van Karnebeek had said, "No," he had laughed again and said, "I knew of course that you wouldn't." They had had some talk about the security of Belgium, and about the Weiligen, always a difficult point. As to the economic treaty, there was no difficulty. Their conversation was wholly general, and no effort was made to settle details, but both realized that it was necessary for the two countries to live in peace as good neighbours, and both were anxious to settle their differences. Jaspar said that they separated and agreed to meet again, and that he had a most encouraging and comforting impression of the interview, the atmosphere of which had been most pleasant, satisfactory, and encouraging.
This evening ------- remarked to me that all this trouble with Holland, and all of Belgium's other troubles, the Flemish question, for example, had been created, brought back into the country, by those who were in exile during the war, that is those who were in Ste-Adresse. "Inside" under the occupation the old divisions and animosities had been forgotten, Catholics, Liberals, and Socialists, Flemish and Walloons had come at last to know and to respect and to like one another; but those who had not been here at that time, those who had been four years in exile, with nothing to do, nothing to occupy them, had not known the purifying effect of the united resistance to aggression, and had come back small in spirit, petty and embittered, and had renewed all the ancient quarrels, and developed new appetites. There under the occupation no one had ever dreamed of demanding the cession of Limbourg, or the right bank of the Scheldt; no one had ever even imagined any sort of annexation, such as that of the Grand Duchy; the Flemish question was no longer urged; Franck and other leading Flamingants had been the first to scorn and repulse the advances and suggestions made by von Bissing. But the returning exiles---ministers, Flamingants, and journalists---had made all the trouble. And we sat there a long time recalling the good old times under the German occupation when we were all bound together by a common hatred of the boche!
September 8, 1921.---Lloyd George has sent the British Government's reply from Inverness to Dublin. It has not been published, but it is said to invite the Irish plenipotentiaries to a conference at Inverness on the 20th, the only condition imposed being that Ireland remain in the British Empire.
Sunday, September 11, 1921.---Lloyd George's letter seems to have made a good impression in Ireland, and it is predicted that Sinn Fein will go to the conference at Inverness.
An extraordinary thing has happened at La Louvière. The Socialists there invited the German Socialist, Sassenach, to come there as their guest, and make a speech to them. He arrived last Sunday, and the Socialists organized a manifestation in his honour! A crowd of ex-combatants and deportees gathered to protest, hissing and booing the boche, when they were set upon by the Socialists, their flag---the Belgian flag---taken from them, and torn to bits, and trampled under foot. Such an amazing piece of perversion, within three years of the end of the war, passes all comprehension.
September 13, 1921.---I have a note today from Davignon saying that Jaspar has gone away for several days, but left word with him to remind me of his wish to have me write Herrick asking him to use his influence at Washington to have the Belgians invited to the Washington Conference. I am very much embarrassed by Jaspar's extraordinary insistence in this matter, not to mention his lack of taste. I have presented, in telegrams and dispatches, Jaspar's views at Washington, and the result has been that Belgium is to be invited to participate in the conference when questions affecting her interests are under discussion. But this does not satisfy him, and he is running about asking all the governments in Europe to support his demand for an invitation, and now writes me to ask Herrick to use his political influence. If I were to ask Herrick, he would do nothing but send my request on to Washington, where my action in appealing to him would be resented and make a bad impression. On the other hand, Jaspar, being a testy, irritable, little man, will resent it if I do not ask Herrick---who, he thinks, has boundless influence---and altogether I am in a quandary.
September 16, 1921.---Up promptly, and a beautiful morning, promising a fine day for our journey to Bruges. We got ready and were just going down to the motor when a telegram came from Aix-la-Chapelle to say that Herrick would arrive with his party from Coblentz at noon, and would come directly to the Embassy. And so the long discussed trip to Bruges had to be abandoned!
I had a long, pleasant talk with Herrick. He is looking old and broken, poor fellow, and told me that he had no desire to return to Paris, that he had no longer any ambitions, but that the President and Hughes had insisted. (He said, incidentally, that he had declined London, which the President offered him, because he felt that the French would have resented it had he returned to diplomacy, and gone anywhere but to France.) He was much affected, evidently, by his wife's death---Paris, he had said, and the Embassy there, had killed her---and dreaded going back, though now that he was there, he was rather enjoying it. He was most friendly, has a sort of affectionate way, and has his old natural charm; he had many nice things to say of me and my work; hoped that I was to remain here; had said to the President, "I want you to keep my old friend Whitlock at Brussels."
I took advantage of his being here to speak to him of Jaspar's desire to do something about having Belgium invited to Washington, and he of course, was ready to do anything. I was glad to have the opportunity of speaking to him about it, for speaking is so much better than writing. "Don't write; send word," as Boss John Kelly said. The question has been bothering me all the week; and only this morning, Jaspar having returned, he sent word to know if I had done anything. So Herrick's coming was rather lucky, even if it did spoil our trip to Bruges---for which town, by the way, he and his party left at five, to spend the night there.
The Irish negotiations have reached a deadlock. De Valera sent a reply saying that he accepted the invitation for the proposed conference at Inverness on the 20th, but reiterated his old demand that the representatives of the Dail be received as the representatives of a free, independent, sovereign, state. His letter was filled with his usual specious arguments and impossible theories. Lloyd George returned at once the only answer that the head of a government could make, namely, that he could not recognize such a state as existing. And so the matter ends.
It seems, indeed, impossible to settle anything with the Irish mind. The Sinn Feiners have refused the most generous offer any earthly government ever made, or ever could make, to revolting subjects, an offer which assures to Ireland as great freedom as any nation in the world possesses. Ireland has had many betrayers, but never such one as this unspeakably bigoted, pedantic, narrow, mentally blind De Valera.
September 21, 1921.---Charles Mitchell, the new president of the National City Bank (succeeding James Stillman, who [resigned]...) is the typical American "successful business man," good looking, with a shrewd, strong face, evidently a man of force, and rather sympathique but without culture or refinement, unable to talk of anything, unable apparently even to think of anything but business, like old Isaac Levison the Jew junk-dealer at Toledo, who, telling Joe Mooney of his sons "Bennie" and "Abie," said triumphantly: "Ve talk it all de time business." So it is with Mitchell, who has all the pride and conceit and some of the arrogance to be noted generally in that type---apparently the best we can produce in America, where "businessman" is instinctively used to replace the word "gentleman." Thus Mitchell at dinner: "I play a businessman's game of golf" (whatever that may be) and in explaining that certain ideals must be upheld: "I don't do that during business hours." Thus it was all evening: we talked "it all de time business." He is going to Germany to "get a line on business"; if any general topic of conversation comes up, he considers it only "as it affects business," and so forth.
September 24, 1921.---I had a talk with Jaspar, telling him of my interview with Herrick. He is rather upset because Belgium has as yet received no invitation to the Washington Conference, and I am rather upset because I fear that she will receive none.
I had a talk, too, with Villalobar, who told me that he intended to adopt his wife's ten years old son. Villalobar and I recalled the days of the war, and talked of Hoover, whom he does not like; no more does Francqui, nor I, for that matter. Francqui was rather amusing, and showed a good deal of perspicacity in describing how Hoover had tried to build himself up politically by using the young men of the C.R.B., who were constantly flattering him. He gave this as an evidence of Hoover's lack of greatness---and was precisely right in his appreciation.
How many things I don't set down in this journal! For instance, the long polemic between Poincaré and Tardieu about the Treaty of Versailles, long letters for ten days in Le Temps, and the Irish situation, to me of absorbing and irritating interest, since the Irish deject me so with their pedantic, impossible attitude. Though today there is a most sensible interview with Arthur Griffiths, the earliest of the Sinn Feinners, in the Daily Mail, in which he expressly explains that Ireland makes no claim to be considered as a free and independent sovereign state. The interview is authentic and evidently inspired by Sinn Fein as a means of saying what De Valera cannot so openly and definitely say, and should go a long way toward dispelling Lloyd George's objection to the conference. It is the one sensible utterance of the Sinn Feiners.
Sunday, September 25, 1921.---Grahame in after tea. He was full of his recent trip to Liége with the Anglo-Belgian society, and the great banquet there, and his speech at the banquet, and Jaspar's speech---especially Jaspar's speech. The visit of all these English personages---Lord Burnham, and other noble lords and gentlemen, organized by the Anglo-Belgian Society---was for the purpose of "cementing" Anglo-Belgian friendship. All went off as merry as a wedding bell until Jaspar rose to speak, and then he took occasion to scold the English for not supporting Belgium, that is, for not supporting France, and referred in a most pointed manner to "our French friends." He went on in this strain at length, and Grahame and all the English were furious, but of course had to endure it, and even pretend to like it.
Grahame showed me a dispatch from Geddes at Washington telling of a talk he had with Hughes, in which Hughes had agreed to conversations before the Conference. Geddes was happy and sanguine, and said that all that had been lost in the July misunderstanding (as a result of Harvey's clumsiness) had been regained.
October 7, 1921.---I went in state, or in such state as an American representative can command, to the Foreign Office, to deliver to Jaspar the official invitation to the Washington Conference. He was relieved to have it, as I was to be able to give it. He made a little move when he observed with significance "a limited invitation," but I said, "This is not important, once there, you---" and he interrupted me. "Yes, it is up to us to disentangle ourselves." He said that the date was a bad one, for them, for it is just at election time, and no one knows whether he will be elected or not.
October 8, 1921.---Looking up something in the Bible I came upon the wonderful story of Joseph---and read it aloud to Nell. Merely as a story, it is the greatest ever written; it is so human, in the first place, so real and then so skilfully built up to that great climax when Joseph says to his astounded brothers, those plainsmen and cattle-drovers, so ill at ease and afraid in a palace, "I am Joseph your brother whom ye sold into Egypt." Did any story ever have such a denouement or such a scene for it? And the whole splendid moving drama, so deeply human, so complete and perfect in unity and proportion, so subtle and true in characterization, and in delineation of human motives, fears, hopes, frailties, littleness, and greatness too, is told in less than 14,000 words!
October 10, 1921.---Telegram from Washington asking full information, of a personal sort, about the Belgian delegation to the conference. In this connection I forgot to write down that the other day I asked Jaspar if Francqui were going, and he said that the Government wished him to go but that Francqui, he said, was completely disgusted, because his work (which was superb and patriotic) during the war had not been appreciated, but that instead of gratitude, he had received nothing but abuse and contumely.
October 12, 1921.---The King and Queen who have been in Morocco for a month are returning home by air, and are expected to arrive tomorrow or next day.
October 18, 1921.---I had a call from Miss Frances Kellor of New York, who is interested in immigration, has written a book on the subject, and is completing a summer tour of Europe in which she has investigated the subject in eighteen countries. She was wise to write her book before she made her investigation, for I gathered from what she said that she no longer has any theories about it, her old ones having been completely destroyed. She is at least now convinced that our immigrants should not be given the right to vote, as by our silly laws they have been given it, and that we should exclude certain races altogether. The 3 per cent law, she says, defeats its own ends: it is only Jews that are coming into America, so that as the law is administered, 3 per cent of Roumanians, for example, means not that many Roumanians but that many Roumanian Jews, three per cent of Poles, so many Polish Jews, and so on, so that we are being swamped by Jews.
She is quite rightly enthusiastic about the English, who are unquestionably, as I told her, the first race in the world. She had been in Constantinople, and was delighted with the way the English were managing things. She told me a pleasing story about Anglo-Saxon integrity. At Constantinople she wished to look into the question of fraudulent passports and inquired how and where she could get certain prohibited visas. "Oh," replied her interlocutor, who knew all the ropes, "at any of the consulates, by paying a bribe; except," he added, "at the English and American consulates ---no bribe can avail you there." "But the French?" she asked. "Oh, you can get them there; only you will have to pay a larger sum, that's all."
October 19, 1921.---We had just gone to bed last night when we heard shouts, and singing, and, rising and going to the window, in the dark, we looked out and at the corner saw, coming down the rue de Luxembourg, a group of perhaps forty or fifty, mostly men, though a few women trudged along with them.(15) They had been singing "l'International," the song of the Anarchists, Socialists and that breed, and were shouting also "Assassin!" They were walking rapidly more or less in order, and were keeping to the pavement on the other side of the road .... The policemen at the noise had rushed to the corner; there was an extraordinary effluence of them, suddenly coming out of the shadow---shadows of the dark line in the Parc; and when the revolutionary cortège had reached the Luxembourg gate to the little park, something was evidently said or done that affected the police, for, with a sudden shout of "Hey, there!" the policemen ran after them. There was a scrimmage and then the revolutionists disappeared. The police came back to the corner, more than a score of them, and after awhile we retired, and read Greville's Memoirs as we do every night before going to sleep, that is Nell read them out and so to sleep.
October 20, 1921.---Yesterday at Paris a bottle of scent addressed to Herrick at the Embassy, was opened by his valet, and exploded, seriously injuring the poor valet and wrecking the apartment. Herrick had a narrow escape. This, of course, is the work of the same elements that are at work here in Brussels. The Embassy at Paris has been receiving the same sort of half-threatening letters that we have been getting, and the Anarchists, or Bolshevists, and they are all the same, are acting in response to the appeals published in the newspaper l'Humanité at Paris.
October 22, 1921.---The newspapers this morning contain dispatches from Paris saying that last night, at a meeting of Communists to protest in the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, a bomb was thrown wounding a dozen policemen. There is evidently a Communist plot to terrorize us all, for I hear from Rome that there are meetings and demonstrations there as well. Another meeting is announced for Sunday here at Brussels, so that I suppose we are in for another serenade.
October 24, 1921.---The great Communist manifestation at Paris yesterday fizzled out before a display of force and firmness on the part of the French authorities. They all passed off quickly. The police made great preparations. There were forty of them before the Embassy last night, with many more in reserve near by; and the sidewalks on the two sides of the Embassy were closed to the people.
November 2, 1921.---Frank Vanderlip here today; he is on a trip over Europe, and is full of black pessimism, thinks the world is going to the dogs. He has a scheme to save it, or partially save it, by organizing a bank, similar to the Federal Reserve bank in America.
I have a reply to my message to Washington, which says that France, while she has designated Clinchaut as Minister, has not recognized Mexico and that England has no intention of doing so; the British and American Governments following identical policies. The Spanish Government has recognized Obregon, but now regrets having done so. The dispatch concludes by saying that if Belgium were to recognize Mexico now, or to adopt a policy different to that of the United States, France, and England, the United States would regret it. Jaspar will receive me at 5:30 tomorrow.
November 3, 1921.---Went to see Jaspar at 5:30 and communicated to him the response I had had from Washington, and had no trouble in inducing him to agree to postpone action, and to act with the United States, France, and England, provided he were notified when the others were about to do it; for he didn't wish to be the last.
November 10, 1921.---.Jaspar talked about Harvey, whom he had met at Paris and evidently did not greatly admire. He said that Harvey's speech at Liverpool the other night---one of his usual utterances---had produced a painful impression, especially in France. Harvey said that America never would enter into any agreement when Briand was landing in America with that very hope in his heart.
November 12, 1921.--- -------- told me, last night while we were at dinner, confidentially of course, that he had heard some most interesting news of the Irish situation from Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, who has been here for a day or two. Wilson and Lloyd George were close friends, but last July had a falling out and haven't spoken since. Wilson had just made arrangements for a serious military drive in Ireland, had brought troops from the Rhine and from the East, and was confident that within a month he would put down the rebellion, when he suddenly heard that Lloyd George had invited De Valera to a conference. He, surprised and indignant, not having been consulted by Lloyd George, or informed of this change in policy, went at once to see Lloyd George and on entering his room asked, "Is it true that you are going to shake hands with a murderer? If it is true, I came to tell you that if I see De Valera in the street, I shall turn him over to the nearest policeman." Lloyd George was furious, there was a great row, and the two have not spoken since.
Sunday, November 13, 1921.---The Conference at Washington opened well, with a speech by the President, good enough as to matter and excellent as to intention, but written in that atrocious English which is rendered worse by the evidence it bears of his own pride in it; he is forever making verbs and adjectives out of nouns, and seems not to know that there is any difference between active and passive verbs. He speaks of our having "sorrowed" the Unknown Warrior---which, if that hero knew anything of English, would make him turn over in his grave. The whole effect is that of something soft, not to be conceived of, or laid hold of, like ooze.
Hughes made a sensation by his dramatic out-and-out proposal of an immediate limitation of naval armaments---the delegates gasped, and the audience cheered.
November 14, 1921.---The Paris newspapers most interesting; Pertinax has one of his hard, bitter, cynical articles in l'Echo de Paris about the Washington Conference, which I presume is the evidence of the true French spirit. How they hate us and how they hate England and everything Anglo-Saxon! Pertinax, who thinks himself and by all is thought to be so clever, gives himself and his kind away by exhibiting his ill-feeling over what he sees as an Anglo-Saxon alliance. He is furious, too, at the isolation of France at the Conference, and at the fact that while both English and French are recognized as official languages, everybody, except the French, speaks English. H. G. Wells, who is writing a series of most entertaining articles on the Conference, notes the fact also. Hughes made a bold, an admirable, stroke; it remains to be seen whether he can go through with it. They bamboozled the old Presbyterian; will they bamboozle the old Baptist?
November 16, 1921.---Lyon told me the true story of the delay of his Government in accepting the Congressional Medal which Pershing brought over to lay on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey; he got the story from Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, who has been here. The fact is that France and Italy had both offered their highest military decorations to the Unknown British Warrior, and the British Government had declined them, because, as the beautiful idea of their recognizing the common soldier was English, the King and all his ministers wished to keep it as a purely domestic and English affair. Congress voted the medal without having had the British Government sounded, and thus unwittingly put them in a difficult position. Pershing's coming of course forced their hand. And now so far as France and Italy are concerned, they will have to get out of their difficulty as best they can.
"Pertinax," my journalistic bête noire, continues to write his nasty articles about America and England at the Washington Conference. His hard, cynical, churlish, sneering manner of looking at all things that are not French, is extraordinary, and never varies.
November 17, 1921.---The French are furious because they find themselves so isolated at Washington. There, by the way, the usual diplomatic sharp practice is beginning. The Powers have all accepted on principle; and my poor, naïve fellow citizens, who are so ignorant of foreign relations, are delighted; they do not know that when diplomatists say that they accept a proposition "on principle" and add their sinister but, that that means that they are going to proceed, quite delicately and politely, to pick the whole thing to pieces.
November 22, 1921.---The elections have gone against the Socialists, for which I am grateful and glad, but the Liberals have lost ground, which I regret. The Catholics have made gains everywhere, and there is doubtless a reaction in the country against radicalism, which is a good thing just now. Tonight at the opera I had talks with Carton and with Devèze,(16) the first, as a Catholic, in good spirits, and the second, as a Liberal, rather cast down. Hymans and his wife were our guests at the opera and I talked with him, also, between the acts. He is opposed to any coalition with the Catholics, and the Socialists declare that they will not again enter a coalition government, as no party has a majority in the chamber, this makes a most complicated political situation.
The opera was Aïda, and I quite thoroughly enjoyed it, being more in the mood for it, I suppose, than when I heard it last. It was a gala performance, given for the benefit of some charity for soldiers.
The King was there in the royal box, arriving after the first act, and, as usual, bored by music. The "Brabançonne" was played on his entrance, and at the end of the second act the whole company sang the national hymn, with fine effect.
November 24, 1921.---Thanksgiving Day, and fine, cold, clear, sunny, rheumatic weather. After taking the dogs for their morning walk in the Parc, I went with Nell to the Methodist Mission in the rue Champs de Mars, where there was a typical evangelist meeting, at which I had to speak, a difficult task, which I got through as well as I could. Then a young Methodist preacher just over from America, with an atrocious Middle-West accent, as thick and as guttural as any brogue, preached a sermon, full of jocular stories, slang, and general vulgarity, with a top-dressing of that cant of optimism which is becoming so prevalent in America. They sang a song, too, that I detest, about America, meaningless and sentimental, impudently set to the fine old tune of "O Mother Dear, Jerusalem." The only good thing in the service was the noble old Methodist hymn "Faith of Our Fathers" which I love.
It was a relief to go from there to Christ Church, where Gahan had arranged a special service. The mission was crowded with Americans; at the church there was no one but the Embassy staff and Madame de Grelle, thus preserving the ratio between general refinement and vulgarity in the world.
A telegram, a cablegram, from Breckenridge Long this morning reminding me, "in view of what is happening here" (Washington) of his offer of a law partnership to me. This would indicate that the story as to Fletcher's replacing me is true, though a letter from Marshall yesterday said that he had just seen the President, who told him that there was nothing new, so that Marshall evidently knew nothing of the contemplated change when he wrote ten days or a fortnight ago, and the President had promised him to give him ample warning. My opinion, however, is that the President will make the change without telling Marshall and try to conciliate him afterwards, which is the technique of his school of politics.
November 25, 1921.---A cablegram from Hughes today brief and formal, saying that my resignation is accepted, that the President wishes to appoint Fletcher to the post, that I am to ask the Belgian Government to agree to his appointment, and that I may take my choice of two months' leave, or of staying till just prior to the arrival of Fletcher, who will come on after the Conference .... And there you are! It is just as well; interested as I have been in diplomacy, and much as I dislike to leave my friends and associations and this city that I have come to love so well, and that is in a sense more like home to me than any other place, my position has been intolerable ever since Harding came into power, and even if it were otherwise, I should get to my books, my writing, ere it be too late!
November 26, 1921.---This afternoon drove about with Nell on various errands, winding up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tell Jaspar, and ask the Belgian Government to accept Fletcher. Jaspar said, "I am very moved! It is sad news. You know that we have done all we could to keep you," and so on. "You are so much associated with our life, our history, that it is a sad event to lose you."
I could only thank him and say, "It doesn't matter." And I got away from a painful scene as soon as possible.
November 28, 1921.---Already in the beginnings of the confusion of packing, a sickening experience, and difficult, with the accumulation of eight years. And then there is the trying experience, constantly repeated, of meeting friends who are sad at our departure. All of Nell's dependents and protégés weep over her, and it is very hard and wearing.
I cabled the Department this morning that I should elect to take my two months' leave beginning the first of December. I also cabled my congratulations to Fletcher. We shall have so much to do that it will take us a month, in all probability, to make ready. We plan to go to the Riviera, then, for a rest.
November 30, 1921.---This, then, is the end of this diplomatic experience, for I go on leave tomorrow. It is sad, of course; I love Brussels, and am loath to leave it. I have passed the best, the most interesting years of my life here; I have played a part in the history of this country, I have many friends and many memories to attach me to it, and it's more like home to me now than any other place on earth. But there's nothing to do; it's Johnnie Bowlegs, pack your kit and trek.
Strangely enough, perhaps fittingly enough, the last official act I performed was to receive Landsberg, the German chargé d'affaires. He asked yesterday for an audience and I appointed it for this afternoon at six. He came, a big German, in black morning coat, with a wildish red beard, bad teeth, and a strong odour of tobacco. But he is not so bad; a common, middle class type, like the Germans of the Pionier Verein, and that sort of thing. Rather sensible, too, in his talk of the politics of Europe, and very pessimistic as to the future, filled indeed with profound discouragement, saying that Germany could never recover at the present rate, and in the present atmosphere of hate. He stayed only a few minutes. He spoke in French, and very well.
December 5, 1921.---I am constantly in receipt of the most touching letters from Belgians who express their regret at our departure, and so is Nell. (These are not the letters about which I was grumbling yesterday, those are from America, and all or nearly all requests for something-autographs, lectures, and so on. Vanity of vanities!) But it is a task to have to reply to all their kindly missives.
I have had no time, and lately, have had not sufficient spirit, to set down a number of things that are of interest to me. First of all, the Irish negotiations are about to fail, this time because of the stubbornness of the men of Ulster who are seemingly impervious to any suggestion of settlement. Then, there is the row between England and France, as a result of Briand's impudent speech and his subsequent ill-timed jokes at Washington, while associated with this is H. G. Wells' adventure with the Daily Mail, and the latter's abominable treatment of him. And there is the conviction of Landon, and the disagreement of the jury on the trial of Fatty Arbuckle, and the tramway strikes here, broken now, by the revelation, of the civic status of Bordelais---the leader of the strikers -showing him to be a French criminal. But I haven't time or energy to write it all down; it is well done in the excellent English reviews, like the New Statesman, the Spectator, the Nation, and others. The world is in a bad way, chiefly due to the foolish policies of the French Government in adopting a neo-Napoleonic view, and those of our own Government in scuttling away from the scene of the war too soon.
December 8, 1921.---The weather has moderated; we have that delicious moist air, mild, and a little melancholy, which is associated with the memory of my first days in this city, this charming Brussels that I am so sad to leave. And I walked with the dogs in the Parc this morning, with many thoughts. I am approaching such a change in my life-the future?
December 10, 1921.---Villalobar back from Madrid, in at noon, sad and really quite indignant at my going. He had been to the Foreign Office, where, he said, they were disgusted with the churlish manner in which the change had been arranged, that is, that my first official intimation should have been an instruction to ask for the acceptance of my successor. This seems to be the general feeling here; Irone de Beughem said so to Nell this afternoon, and has relieved her feelings by dashing off---to no purpose of course---an indignant letter to Charlotte Kellogg. I hear, too, that the King is not pleased at the weight put upon him, and so on. Irone had a letter from his sister at Washington saying that Hughes and Fletcher had had a row, and that Hughes wished to get Fletcher out of the way; also that they knew that Fletcher would be ill-received here, and that the intention was to keep him here for a short time only, and then to send him to Paris, in place of Herrick, whose state as to health is such that he cannot last there long.
This, of course, is all Washington gossip and not worth even putting down, so futile is it all. For my own part, I can truthfully say that, aside from the pain of having to leave Brussels, I don't care and am unmoved by it all. I never had any, not the slightest, expectation of Harding's doing otherwise; I never even expected him when the time came to give me any notice or to do any graceful or gentlemanly thing, for I know the Ohio State politician and what a weak,... creature he is. But I am rather curious to see just what expedient he will employ to throw dust in Marshall's eyes.
Sunday, December 18, 1921.---A fortnight ago Nell and I finished the reading of Greville's Memoirs; then we read Hamlin Garland's A Daughter of the Middle Border, sequel to A Son of the Middle Border. It is not half as good as The Son of the Middle Border. Garland is a good sort but he has no style, no distinction, no real culture, no sophistication, and his book is naïve, painfully provincial, and often trivial.
I finished the reading last night of If Winter Comes, a splendid, powerful novel by Hutchinson, one of the best novels written in a long, long time. Liked it so well that hearing of a new one by him, A Clean Heart, I had it sent up at once from Smith's Book Shop, and began it today, but it is clearly not as good as the first.
We have sent to engage rooms at the Victoria Hotel at Biarritz, having decided to go there, and continually now wishing that we had decided instead on the Midi and Hyères. The fact is I don't wish to go anywhere, especially nowhere in the midst of vulgar society and jazz bands. I should like a retreat in the country but there is no such place, and this is a bad season for leaving home. We are both so tired and nervous that decisions are difficult. I should prefer England, but we can't get the dogs into England, because of the six months' guarantees. Nicholson is inquiring; I had a nice letter from him yesterday, but there is of course nothing to be done.
December 23, 1921.---A little walk, a lot of work, packing papers, and so on, then a telegram from d'Oultremont to say that the King was coming to call on Nell and me tomorrow at five. He has never shown any one, any Ambassador at least, such an honour.
I have written very little in my journal of late; these days are so crowded and so hurried, and withal so sad, with their constant adieux, their sensation of jamais plus, that I have had neither the time nor the heart to write. And besides, I have this feeling that it is all of such small use and profit, that I am tempted to abandon journal writing altogether. What I do is of no interest or importance and what I think-my impressions, feelings, and so forth. I haven't the energy to set down. My principal feeling just now is one of sadness at having to leave Brussels, and Belgium.
I am more at home here than anywhere, and should rather live here than anywhere save perhaps England. As for America, I have no desire to live there. The things I like, admire, esteem, are not respected there. A graceful life is thus impossible; there refinement, culture, literature, art, are almost unknown. In that respect the country has undergone a distinct decline in my lifetime. Now the spirit of vulgarity prevails; vulgar money, vulgar politics, vulgar and ignoble journalism, and over all, above all, dominating all, that provincial, nonconformist, puritanical Middle-West spirit, which is responsible for the horror of prohibition, that fond-foolish attempt to solve one problem, correct one evil, by substituting a worse for it. It is not the prohibition of alcohol that I dislike, it is the spirit behind that prohibition. Liberty is dead in the land. The old English or Anglo-Saxon spirit is overwhelmed by the flood of foreign alien thought and mentality that has flooded us ....
But where to go? Not France; I couldn't endure that. There remain only England and Belgium. That is the choice we seem to have. And yet I should like to have my own country. I should like to feel about it as an Englishman feels about England (that I can understand. I feel the same about England) or as a Frenchman feels about France (that I can understand too, though I do not share the feeling). But the sad truth is that I have never left America without a feeling of relief and joy; never turned my face homeward without regret and aversion; each knot the ship makes on its westward way my heart sinks, and is heavy when I disembark. And it seems wrong to me to feel that way; but I can't help it. I have been homesick, in a way for Europe all my life, was so even before I ever saw Europe. Ah me! What a wretch I am! And yet there is, or was, an America that I loved: the old America of Lincoln---still the greatest and first of my heroes, and of Washington, that magnificent gentleman, soldier, statesman!---and Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier, Lowell, Howells. But they and all they stood for, represented, or exemplified, is gone.
December 24, 1921.---Christmas Eve! The event of our day was the visit of the King, who came promptly at five, accompanied by an aide, Major Van du Stratten. We had the red carpet laid, and all the servants in line, and Nell and I went to the door to receive His Majesty as he alighted from his motor. He was in uniform with the ribbons of his American decoration, the only ones he wore. Nell made her reverence, and I my bow and we conducted him to the middle salon, the house being now half bare, and desolate. But that salon remained almost intact, and we had put some flowers about so that it wasn't too bad. His Majesty sat on the sofa, and Nell and I in chairs beside him. Van du Stratten sat stiffly in a corner. The conversation was, of course, about our going. His Majesty expressing his regret and thanking me many times for my service to his country. He spoke of this over and over; and begged me to come back; said that he would always consider me as a friend. It was really saddening to realize that the time had actually come when this interesting relation was at an end; we have been real friends; he has always talked to me so frankly, unreservedly, and I do like him. I tried to tell him so; told him that I was always ready to serve him.
The conversation drifted then to many other subjects. He said that he could not understand why America changed their diplomatists when they were at a post where they were liked, and which they knew and understood. "Your husband," he said to Nell, "knows Belgium better than most Belgians."
He peered about the room and said, "This is a nice house, it is owned by the state, of course?" And we had to explain that it wasn't, and he said that that was hard to understand, too. States should own their Embassies and Legations, he said, "not only for the convenience of their representatives, but for the prestige of the state; it is well to have the embassy known, to identify it with the nation it represents."
And so on to the trip in America, of which he recalled many incidents and many persons. New York, he said, was the most interesting place in America, and the most impressive. He spoke of the impression made by the mass of the skyscrapers, that of "an harmonious ensemble." (He spoke a good deal of French today, more than usual.) He recalled too, his reception at New York, and the extraordinary effect of the shower of paper in "Broad Street," as he said ....
He spoke of the difficulties of forming the new government, and was very high in his praise of Theunis. We talked, too, of the Washington Conference, of the row between the English and the French, and with a kind of malicious twinkle he spoke of Viviani as not popular at Washington. We talked too of the Congo, whither he contemplates going again, with the Queen this time, and of Africa and its fascination. He told me of his journey this autumn when he visited Algiers and Morocco.
When he rose to go he said that he wished again to express his regret at our going, his gratitude for my services, and so on. It was then that I told him that 1 should always be glad to serve him with the loyalty and devotion of one of his own subjects; that he could call on me as such. And he said with his quiet smile, "I should call on you as a friend." We thanked him and assured him of our appreciation of the honour of his visit, and I repeated my feeling of devotion to his person. He gave his hand to Nell, and when she had made her curtsy, he kissed her hand. We chatted in the hall while the servants were helping him on with his overcoat, and he said that he and the Queen wished me to go to Laeken next week. We went with him to his motor. He remained here three-quarters of an hour. It is the only time the King has ever called at an Embassy or Legation in Brussels.
Christmas Eve! Could one but feel again some of the old witching magic of this hour, this season! Ay di mi!
December 28, 1921.---Our dinner at the Palace at Laeken last night was delightful, though touched of course by the sadness of parting, and most interesting. The King and the Queen, Prince Léopold, the Princess Marie, the Queen's lady-in-waiting, the Princess's new lady-in-waiting, Major Dujardin, Aide-de-camp, and an officer of the guard, whom I didn't know. The King and Queen sat side by side, which I haven't seen them do, this long while, Nell on the King's left, I on the Queen's right .... The Queen was charming throughout the meal; we talked small talk, nothing important.
After dinner, when we went into the red Empire drawing-room, where a cheerful fire was burning, Nell and the Queen sat down for a dish of gossip, which the Queen loves; the King said: "Let's go to the fire, I like heat." I liked it too, especially after the chill of the great rotunda one crosses in coming from the dining-room, and we stood leaning against the mantelpiece while we had our coffee. The King began almost at once in his abrupt way, talking about politics.
As we were coming out from dinner the King had been talking of President Wilson. "It is wrong to criticize him," he said, "for the evil results of the Versailles treaty. Those evils have not been the result of President Wilson's ideas, for his ideas were not considered in the treaty as he would have had them; the treaty was made on a principle quite opposed to his as embodied in his fourteen points. That is, the principles that his opponents favoured were to an extent embodied in the treaty, and it is they that have brought about these evils. If there is any justice in the universe, President Wilson will ultimately have credit done to him and men will see that he is not to blame."
Later when we had our coffee and were sitting on a sofa, smoking, he those dreadful little "stogies" he likes, he again spoke of President Wilson. "I find that there is too much criticism of President Wilson by Americans I meet. I don't believe that they know quite how badly it sounds, or in what poor taste."
I wished that all America might hear this not because of Wilson, but because of the shocking taste many Americans display in Europe by just such criticism. In the eight years of my residence abroad I have heard little else from Americans but blatant, ignorant, vulgar abuse of their President.
Speaking of England the King said: "They are a great nation, a great, wise, and patient people. Their statesmen look far ahead. They are a great asset for civilization and order."
We talked long about Socialism; he was deploring hatred and all that, talking of the evil of class hatred, of the general dishonesty that prevails everywhere, of the decline in the influence of parliaments, due to demagogy, and so on.(17)