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by Emile Joseph Dillon

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Title: The Inside Story Of The Peace Conference

Author: Emile Joseph Dillon

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Language: English

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The Inside Story of The Peace Conference

by

Dr. E.J. Dillon

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

NEW YORK AND LONDON

Copyright 1920, by Harper & Brothers

Printed in the United States of America

Published February, 1920

To
C.W. BARRON
in memory of interesting conversations
on historic occasions

These pages are inscribed.

CONTENTS


FOREWORD

It is almost superfluous to say that this book does not claim to be a history, however summary, of the Peace Conference, seeing that such a work was made sheer impossible now and forever by the chief delegates themselves when they decided to dispense with records of their conversations and debates. It is only a sketch—a sketch of the problems which the war created or rendered pressing—of the conditions under which they cropped up; of the simplicist ways in which they were conceived by the distinguished politicians who volunteered to solve them; of the delegates' natural limitations and electioneering commitments and of the secret influences by which they were swayed; of the peoples' needs and expectations; of the unwonted procedure adopted by the Conference and of the fateful consequences of its decisions to the world.

In dealing with all those matters I aimed at impartiality, which is an unattainable ideal, but I trust that sincerity and detachment have brought me reasonably close to it. Having no pet theories of my own to champion, my principal standard of judgment is derived from the law of causality and the rules of historical criticism.

The fatal tactical mistake chargeable to the Conference lay in its making the charter of the League of Nations and the treaty of peace with the Central Powers interdependent. For the maxims that underlie the former are irreconcilable with those that should determine the latter, and the efforts to combine them must, among other untoward results, create a sharp opposition between the vital interests of the people of the United States and the apparent or transient interests of their associates. The outcome of this unnatural union will be to damage the cause of stable peace which it was devised to further.

But the surest touchstone by which to test the capacity and the achievements of the world-legislators is their attitude toward Russia in the political domain and toward the labor problem in the economic sphere. And in neither case does their action or inaction appear to have been the outcome of statesman-like ideas, or, indeed, of any higher consideration than that of evading the central issue and transmitting the problem to the League of Nations. The results are manifest to all.

The continuity of human progress depends at bottom upon labor, and it is becoming more and more doubtful whether the civilized races of mankind can be reckoned on to supply it for long on conditions akin to those which have in various forms prevailed ever since the institutions of ancient times and which alone render the present social structure viable. If this forecast should prove correct, the only alternative to a break disastrous in the continuity of civilization is the frank recognition of the principle that certain inferior races are destined to serve the cause of mankind in those capacities for which alone they are qualified and to readjust social institutions to this axiom.

In the meanwhile the Conference which ignored this problem of problems has transformed Europe into a seething mass of mutually hostile states powerless to face the economic competition of their overseas rivals and has set the very elements of society in flux.

E.J. DILLON.


THE INSIDE STORY OF THE PEACE CONFERENCE

I

THE CITY OF THE CONFERENCE

The choice of Paris for the historic Peace Conference was an afterthought. The Anglo-Saxon governments first favored a neutral country as the most appropriate meeting-ground for the world's peace-makers. Holland was mentioned only to be eliminated without discussion, so obvious and decisive were the objections. French Switzerland came next in order, was actually fixed upon, and for a time held the field. Lausanne was the city first suggested and nearly chosen. There was a good deal to be said for it on its own merits, and in its suburb, Ouchy, the treaty had been drawn up which terminated the war between Italy and Turkey. But misgivings were expressed as to its capacity to receive and entertain the formidable peace armies without whose co-operation the machinery for stopping all wars could not well be fabricated. At last Geneva was fixed upon, and so certain were influential delegates of the ratification of their choice by all the Allies, that I felt justified in telegraphing to Geneva to have a house hired for six months in that picturesque city.

But the influential delegates had reckoned without the French, who in these matters were far and away the most influential. Was it not in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, they asked, that Teuton militarism had received its most powerful impulse? And did not poetic justice, which was never so needed as in these evil days, ordain that the chartered destroyer who had first seen the light of day in that hall should also be destroyed there? Was this not in accordance with the eternal fitness of things? Whereupon the matter-of-fact Anglo-Saxon mind, unable to withstand the force of this argument and accustomed to give way on secondary matters, assented, and Paris was accordingly fixed upon....

"Paris herself again," tourists remarked, who had not been there since the fateful month when hostilities began—meaning that something of the wealth and luxury of bygone days was venturing to display itself anew as an afterglow of the epoch whose sun was setting behind banks of thunder-clouds. And there was a grain of truth in the remark. The Ville Lumière was crowded as it never had been before. But it was mostly strangers who were within her gates. In the throng of Anglo-Saxon warriors and cosmopolitan peace-lovers following the trailing skirts of destiny, one might with an effort discover a Parisian now and again. But they were few and far between.

They and their principal European guests made some feeble attempts to vie with the Vienna of 1814-15 in elegance and taste if not in pomp and splendor. But the general effect was marred by the element of the nouveaux-riches and nouveaux-pauvres which was prominent, if not predominant. A few of the great and would-be great ladies outbade one another in the effort to renew the luxury and revive the grace of the past. But the atmosphere was numbing, their exertions half-hearted, and the smile of youth and beauty was cold like the sheen of winter ice. The shadow of death hung over the institutions and survivals of the various civilizations and epochs which were being dissolved in the common melting-pot, and even the man in the street was conscious of its chilling influence. Life in the capital grew agitated, fitful, superficial, unsatisfying. Its gaiety was forced—something between a challenge to the destroyer and a sad farewell to the past and present. Men were instinctively aware that the morrow was fraught with bitter surprises, and they deliberately adopted the maxim, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." None of these people bore on their physiognomies the dignified impress of the olden time, barring a few aristocratic figures from the Faubourg St.-Germain, who looked as though they had only to don the perukes and the distinctive garb of the eighteenth century to sit down to table with Voltaire and the Marquise du Châtelet. Here and there, indeed, a coiffure, a toilet, the bearing, the gait, or the peculiar grace with which a robe was worn reminded one that this or that fair lady came of a family whose life-story in the days of yore was one of the tributaries to the broad stream of European history. But on closer acquaintanceship, especially at conversational tournaments, one discovered that Nature, constant in her methods, distributes more gifts of beauty than of intellect.

Festive banquets, sinful suppers, long-spun-out lunches were as frequent and at times as Lucullan as in the days of the Regency. The outer, coarser attributes of luxury abounded in palatial restaurants, hotels, and private mansions; but the refinement, the grace, the brilliant conversation even of the Paris of the Third Empire were seen to be subtle branches of a lost art. The people of the armistice were weary and apprehensive—weary of the war, weary of politics, weary of the worn-out framework of existence, and filled with a vague, nameless apprehension of the unknown. They feared that in the chaotic slough into which they had fallen they had not yet touched bottom. None the less, with the exception of fervent Catholics and a number of earnest sectarians, there were few genuine seekers after anything essentially better.

Not only did the general atmosphere of Paris undergo radical changes, together with its population, but the thoroughfares, many of them, officially changed their names since the outbreak of the war.

The Paris of the Conference ceased to be the capital of France. It became a vast cosmopolitan caravanserai teeming with unwonted aspects of life and turmoil, filled with curious samples of the races, tribes, and tongues of four continents who came to watch and wait for the mysterious to-morrow. The intensity of life there was sheer oppressive; to the tumultuous striving of the living were added the silent influences of the dead. For it was also a trysting-place for the ghosts of sovereignties and states, militarisms and racial ambitions, which were permitted to wander at large until their brief twilight should be swallowed up in night. The dignified Turk passionately pleaded for Constantinople, and cast an imploring look on the lone Armenian whose relatives he had massacred, and who was then waiting for political resurrection. Persian delegates wandered about like souls in pain, waiting to be admitted through the portals of the Conference Paradise. Beggared Croesus passed famishing Lucullus in the street, and once mighty viziers shivered under threadbare garments in the biting frost as they hurried over the crisp February snow. Waning and waxing Powers, vacant thrones, decaying dominations had, each of them, their accusers, special pleaders, and judges, in this multitudinous world-center on which tragedy, romance, and comedy rained down potent spells. For the Conference city was also the clearing-house of the Fates, where the accounts of a whole epoch, the deeds and misdeeds of an exhausted civilization, were to be balanced and squared.

Here strange yet familiar figures, survivals from the past, started up at every hand's turn and greeted one with smiles or sighs. Men on whom I last set eyes when we were boys at school, playing football together in the field or preparing lessons in the school-room, would stop me in the street on their way to represent nations or peoples whose lives were out of chime, or to inaugurate the existence of new republics. One face I shall never forget. It was that of the self-made temporary dictator of a little country whose importance was dwindling to the dimensions of a footnote in the history of the century. I had been acquainted with him personally in the halcyon day of his transient glory. Like his picturesque land, he won the immortality of a day, was courted and subsidized by competing states in turn, and then suddenly cast aside like a sucked orange. Then he sank into the depths of squalor. He was eloquent, resourceful, imaginative, and brimful of the poetry of untruth. One day through the asphalt streets of Paris he shuffled along in the procession of the doomed, with wan face and sunken eyes, wearing a tragically mean garb. And soon after I learned that he had vanished unwept into eternal oblivion.

An Arabian Nights touch was imparted to the dissolving panorama by strange visitants from Tartary and Kurdistan, Korea and Aderbeijan, Armenia, Persia, and the Hedjaz—men with patriarchal beards and scimitar-shaped noses, and others from desert and oasis, from Samarkand and Bokhara. Turbans and fezzes, sugar-loaf hats and headgear resembling episcopal miters, old military uniforms devised for the embryonic armies of new states on the eve of perpetual peace, snowy-white burnooses, flowing mantles, and graceful garments like the Roman toga, contributed to create an atmosphere of dreamy unreality in the city where the grimmest of realities were being faced and coped with.

Then came the men of wealth, of intellect, of industrial enterprise, and the seed-bearers of the ethical new ordering, members of economic committees from the United States, Britain, Italy, Poland, Russia, India, and Japan, representatives of naphtha industries and far-off coal mines, pilgrims, fanatics, and charlatans from all climes, priests of all religions, preachers of every doctrine, who mingled with princes, field-marshals, statesmen, anarchists, builders-up, and pullers-down. All of them burned with desire to be near to the crucible in which the political and social systems of the world were to be melted and recast. Every day, in my walks, in my apartment, or at restaurants, I met emissaries from lands and peoples whose very names had seldom been heard of before in the West. A delegation from the Pont-Euxine Greeks called on me, and discoursed of their ancient cities of Trebizond, Samsoun, Tripoli, Kerassund, in which I resided many years ago, and informed me that they, too, desired to become welded into an independent Greek republic, and had come to have their claims allowed. The Albanians were represented by my old friend Turkhan Pasha, on the one hand, and by my friend Essad Pasha, on the other—the former desirous of Italy's protection, the latter demanding complete independence. Chinamen, Japanese, Koreans, Hindus, Kirghizes, Lesghiens, Circassians, Mingrelians, Buryats, Malays, and Negroes and Negroids from Africa and America were among the tribes and tongues forgathered in Paris to watch the rebuilding of the political world system and to see where they "came in."

One day I received a visit from an Armenian deputation; its chief was described on his visiting-card as President of the Armenian Republic of the Caucasus. When he was shown into my apartment in the Hôtel Vendôme, I recognized two of its members as old acquaintances with whom I had occasional intercourse in Erzerum, Kipri Keui, and other places during the Armenian massacres of the year 1895. We had not met since then. They revived old memories, completed for me the life-stories of several of our common friends and acquaintances, and narrated interesting episodes of local history. And having requested my co-operation, the President and his colleagues left me and once more passed out of my life.

Another actor on the world-stage whom I had encountered more than once before was the "heroic" King of Montenegro. He often crossed my path during the Conference, and set me musing on the marvelous ups and downs of human existence. This potentate's life offers a rich field of research to the psychologist. I had watched it myself at various times and with curious results. For I had met him in various European capitals during the past thirty years, and before the time when Tsar Alexander III publicly spoke of him as Russia's only friend. King Nikita owes such success in life as he can look back on with satisfaction to his adaptation of St. Paul's maxim of being all things to all men. Thus in St. Petersburg he was a good Russian, in Vienna a patriotic Austrian, in Rome a sentimental Italian. He was also a warrior, a poet after his own fashion, a money-getter, and a speculator on 'Change. His alleged martial feats and his wily, diplomatic moves ever since the first Balkan war abound in surprises, and would repay close investigation. The ease with which the Austrians captured Mount Lovtchen and his capital made a lasting impression on those of his allies who were acquainted with the story, the consequences of which he could not foresee. What everybody seemed to know was that if the Teutons had defeated the Entente, King Nikita's son Mirko, who had settled down for the purpose in Vienna, would have been set on the throne in place of his father by the Austrians; whereas if the Allies should win, the worldly-wise monarch would have retained his crown as their champion. But these well-laid plans went all agley. Prince Mirko died and King Nikita was deposed. For a time he resided at a hotel, a few houses from me, and I passed him now and again as he was on his way to plead his lost cause before the distinguished wreckers of thrones and régimes.

It seemed as though, in order to provide Paris with a cosmopolitan population, the world was drained of its rulers, of its prosperous and luckless financiers, of its high and low adventurers, of its tribe of fortune-seekers, and its pushing men and women of every description. And the result was an odd blend of classes and individuals worthy, it may be, of the new democratic era, but unprecedented. It was welcomed as of good augury, for instance, that in the stately Hôtel Majestic, where the spokesmen of the British Empire had their residence, monocled diplomatists mingled with spry typewriters, smart amanuenses, and even with bright-eyed chambermaids at the evening dances.[1] The British Premier himself occasionally witnessed the cheering spectacle with manifest pleasure. Self-made statesmen, scions of fallen dynasties, ex-premiers, and ministers, who formerly swayed the fortunes of the world, whom one might have imagined capaces imperii nisi imperassent, were now the unnoticed inmates of unpretending hotels. Ambassadors whose most trivial utterances had once been listened to with concentrated attention, sued days and weeks for an audience of the greater plenipotentiaries, and some of them sued in vain. Russian diplomatists were refused permission to travel in France or were compelled to undergo more than average discomfort and delay there. More than once I sat down to lunch or dinner with brilliant commensals, one of whom was understood to have made away with a well-known personage in order to rid the state of a bad administrator, and another had, at a secret Vehmgericht in Turkey, condemned a friend of mine, now a friend of his, to be assassinated.

In Paris, this temporary capital of the world, one felt the repercussion of every event, every incident of moment wheresoever it might have occurred. To reside there while the Conference was sitting was to occupy a comfortable box in the vastest theater the mind of men has ever conceived. From this rare coign of vantage one could witness soul-gripping dramas of human history, the happenings of years being compressed within the limits of days. The revolution in Portugal, the massacre of Armenians, Bulgaria's atrocities, the slaughter of the inhabitants of Saratoff and Odessa, the revolt of the Koreans—all produced their effect in Paris, where official and unofficial exponents of the aims and ambitions, religions and interests that unite or divide mankind were continually coming or going, working aboveground or burrowing beneath the surface.

It was within a few miles of the place where I sat at table with the brilliant company alluded to above that a few individuals of two different nationalities, one of them bearing, it was said, a well-known name, hatched the plot that sent Portugal's strong man, President Sidonio Paes, to his last account and plunged that ill-starred land into chaotic confusion. The plan was discovered by the Portuguese military attaché, who warned the President himself and the War Minister. But Sidonio Paes, quixotic and foolhardy, refused to take or brook precautions. A few weeks later the assassin, firing three shots, had no difficulty in taking aim, but none of them took effect. The reason was interesting: so determined were the conspirators to leave nothing to chance, they had steeped the cartridges in a poisonous preparation, whereby they injured the mechanism of the revolver, which, in consequence, hung fire. But the adversaries of the reform movement which the President had inaugurated again tried and planned another attempt, and Sidonio Paes, who would not be taught prudence, was duly shot, and his admirable work undone[2] by a band of semi-Bolshevists.

Less than six months later it was rumored that a number of specially prepared bombs from a certain European town had been sent to Moscow for the speedy removal of Lenin. The casual way in which these and kindred matters were talked of gave one the measure of the change that had come over the world since the outbreak of the war. There was nobody left in Europe whose death, violent or peaceful, would have made much of an impression on the dulled sensibilities of the reading public. All values had changed, and that of human life had fallen low.

To follow these swiftly passing episodes, occasionally glancing behind the scenes, during the pauses of the acts, and watch the unfolding of the world-drama, was thrillingly interesting. To note the dubious source, the chance occasion of a grandiose project of world policy, and to see it started on its shuffling course, was a revelation in politics and psychology, and reminded one of the saying mistakenly attributed to the Swedish Chancellor Oxenstjern, "Quam parva sapientia regitur mundus."[3]

The wire-pullers were not always the plenipotentiaries. Among those were also outsiders of various conditions, sometimes of singular ambitions, who were generally free from conventional prejudices and conscientious scruples. As traveling to Paris was greatly restricted by the governments of the world, many of these unofficial delegates had come in capacities widely differing from those in which they intended to act. I confess I was myself taken in by more than one of these secret emissaries, whom I was innocently instrumental in bringing into close touch with the human levers they had come to press. I actually went to the trouble of obtaining for one of them valuable data on a subject which did not interest him in the least, but which he pretended he had traveled several thousand miles to study. A zealous prelate, whose business was believed to have something to do with the future of a certain branch of the Christian Church in the East, in reality held a brief for a wholly different set of interests in the West. Some of these envoys hoped to influence decisions of the Conference, and they considered they had succeeded when they got their points of view brought to the favorable notice of certain of its delegates. What surprised me was the ease with which several of these interlopers moved about, although few of them spoke any language but their own.

Collectivities and religious and political associations, including that of the Bolshevists, were represented in Paris during the Conference. I met one of the Bolshevists, a bright youth, who was a veritable apostle. He occupied a post which, despite its apparent insignificance, put him occasionally in possession of useful information withheld from the public, which he was wont to communicate to his political friends. His knowledge of languages and his remarkable intelligence had probably attracted the notice of his superiors, who can have had no suspicion of his leanings, much less of his proselytizing activity. However this may have been, he knew a good deal of what was going on at the Conference, and he occasionally had insight into documents of a certain interest. He was a seemingly honest and enthusiastic Bolshevik, who spread the doctrine with apostolic zeal guided by the wisdom of the serpent. He was ever ready to comment on events, but before opening his mind fully to a stranger on the subject next to his heart, he usually felt his way, and only when he had grounds for believing that the fortress was not impregnable did he open his batteries. Even among the initiated, few would suspect the rôle played by this young proselytizer within one of the strongholds of the Conference, so naturally and unobtrusively was the work done. I may add that luckily he had no direct intercourse with the delegates.

Of all the collectivities whose interests were furthered at the Conference, the Jews had perhaps the most resourceful and certainly the most influential exponents. There were Jews from Palestine, from Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, Rumania, Greece, Britain, Holland, and Belgium; but the largest and most brilliant contingent was sent by the United States. Their principal mission, with which every fair-minded man sympathized heartily, was to secure for their kindred in eastern Europe rights equal to those of the populations in whose midst they reside.[4] And to the credit of the Poles, Rumanians, and Russians, who were to be constrained to remove all the existing disabilities, they enfranchised the Hebrew elements spontaneously. But the Western Jews, who championed their Eastern brothers, proceeded to demand a further concession which many of their own co-religionists hastened to disclaim as dangerous—a kind of autonomy which Rumanian, Polish, and Russian statesmen, as well as many of their Jewish fellow-subjects, regarded as tantamount to the creation of a state within the state. Whether this estimate is true or erroneous, the concessions asked for were given, but the supplementary treaties insuring the protection of minorities are believed to have little chance of being executed, and may, it is feared, provoke manifestations of elemental passions in the countries in which they are to be applied.

Twice every day, before and after lunch, one met the "autocrats," the world's statesmen whose names were in every mouth—the wise men who would have been much wiser than they were if only they had credited their friends and opponents with a reasonable measure of political wisdom. These individuals, in bowler hats, sweeping past in sumptuous motors, as rarely seen on foot as Roman cardinals, were the destroyers of thrones, the carvers of continents, the arbiters of empires, the fashioners of the new heaven and the new earth—or were they only the flies on the wheel of circumstance, to whom the world was unaccountably becoming a riddle?

This commingling of civilizations and types brought together in Paris by a set of unprecedented conditions was full of interest and instruction to the observer privileged to meet them at close quarters. The average observer, however, had little chance of conversing with them, for, as these foreigners had no common meeting-place, they kept mostly among their own folk. Only now and again did three or four members of different races, when they chanced to speak some common language, get an opportunity of enjoying their leisure together. A friend of mine, a highly gifted Frenchman of the fine old type, a descendant of Talleyrand, who was born a hundred and fifty years too late, opened his hospitable house once a week to the élite of the world, and partially met the pressing demand.

To the gaping tourist the Ville Lumière resembled nothing so much as a huge world fair, with enormous caravanserais, gigantic booths, gaudy merry-go-rounds, squalid taverns, and huge inns. Every place of entertainment was crowded, and congregations patiently awaited their turn in the street, undeterred by rain or wind or snow, offering absurdly high prices for scant accommodation and disheartened at having their offers refused. Extortion was rampant and profiteering went unpunished. Foreigners, mainly American and British, could be seen wandering, portmanteau in hand, from post to pillar, anxiously seeking where to lay their heads, and made desperate by failure, fatigue, and nightfall. The cost of living which harassed the bulk of the people was fast becoming the stumbling-block of governments and the most powerful lever of revolutionaries. The chief of the peace armies resided in sumptuous hotels, furnished luxuriously in dubious taste, flooded after sundown with dazzling light, and filled by day with the buzz of idle chatter, the shuffling of feet, the banging of doors, and the ringing of bells. Music and dancing enlivened the inmates when their day's toil was over and time had to be killed. Thus, within, one could find anxious deliberation and warm debate; without, noisy revel and vulgar brawl. "Fate's a fiddler; life's a dance."

To few of those visitors did Paris seem what it really was—a nest of golden dreams, a mist of memories, a seed-plot of hopes, a storehouse of time's menaces.

THE PARIS CONFERENCE AND THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA

There were no solemn pageants, no impressive ceremonies, such as those that rejoiced the hearts of the Viennese in 1814-15 until the triumphal march of the Allied troops.

The Vienna of Congress days was transformed into a paradise of delights by a brilliant court which pushed hospitality to the point of lavishness. In the burg alone were two emperors, two empresses, four kings, one queen, two crown-princes, two archduchesses, and three princes. Every day the Emperor's table cost fifty thousand gulden—every Congress day cost him ten times that sum. Galaxies of Europe's eminent personages flocked to the Austrian capital, taking with them their ministers, secretaries, favorites, and "confidential agents." So eager were these world-reformers to enjoy themselves that the court did not go into mourning for Queen Marie Caroline of Naples, the last of Marie Theresa's daughters. Her death was not even announced officially lest it should trouble the festivities of the jovial peace-makers!

The Paris of the Conference, on the other hand, was democratic, with a strong infusion of plutocracy. It attempted no such brilliant display as that which flattered the senses or fired the imagination of the Viennese. In 1919 mankind was simpler in its tastes and perhaps less esthetic. It is certain that the froth of contemporary frivolity had lost its sparkling whiteness and was grown turbid. In Vienna, balls, banquets, theatricals, military reviews, followed one another in dizzy succession and enabled politicians and adventurers to carry on their intrigues and machinations unnoticed by all except the secret police. And, as the Congress marked the close of one bloody campaign and ushered in another, one might aptly term it the interval between two tragedies. For a time it seemed as though this part of the likeness might become applicable to the Conference of Paris.

Moving from pleasure to politics, one found strong contrasts as well as surprising resemblances between the two peace-making assemblies, and, it was assumed, to the advantage of the Paris Conference. Thus, at the Austrian Congress, the members, while seemingly united, were pulling hard against one another, each individual or group tugging in a different direction. The Powers had been compelled by necessity to unite against a common enemy and, having worsted him on the battlefield, fell to squabbling among themselves in the Council Chamber as soon as they set about dividing the booty. In this respect the Paris Conference—the world was assured in the beginning—towered aloft above its historic predecessor. Men who knew the facts declared repeatedly that the delegates to the Quai d'Orsay were just as unanimous, disinterested, and single-minded during the armistice as they were through the war. Probably they were.

Another interesting point of comparison was supplied by the dramatis personæ? of both illustrious companies. They were nearly all representatives of old states, but there was one exception.

THE CONGRESS CHIEF

Mistrusted, Feared, Humored, and Obeyed

A relatively new Power took part in the deliberations of the Vienna Congress, and, perhaps, because of its loftier intentions, introduced a jarring note into the concert of nations. Russia was then a newcomer into the European councils; indeed she was hardly yet recognized as European. Her gifted Tsar, Alexander I, was an idealist who wanted, not so much peace with the vanquished enemy as a complete reform of the ordering of the whole world, so that wars should thenceforward be abolished and the welfare of mankind be set developing like a sort of pacific perpetuum mobile. This blessed change, however, was to be compassed, not by the peoples or their representatives, but by the governments, led by himself and deliberating in secret. At the Paris Conference it was even so.

This curious type of public worker—a mixture of the mystical and the practical—was the terror of the Vienna delegates. He put spokes in everybody's wheel, behaved as the autocrat of the Congress and felt as self-complacent as a saint. Countess von Thurheim wrote of him: "He mistrusted his environment and let himself be led by others. But he was thoroughly good and high-minded and sought after the weal, not merely of his own country, but of the whole world. Son coeur eût embrassé le bonheur du monde." He realized in himself the dreams of the philosophers about love for mankind, but their Utopias of human happiness were based upon the perfection both of subjects and of princes, and, as Alexander could fulfil only one-half of these conditions, his work remained unfinished and the poor Emperor died, a victim of his high-minded illusions.[5]

The other personages, Metternich in particular, were greatly put out by Alexander's presence. They labeled him a marplot who could not and would not enter into the spirit of their game, but they dared not offend him. Without his brave troops they could not have been victorious and they did not know how soon they might need him again, for he represented a numerous and powerful people whose economic and military resources promised it in time the hegemony of the world. So, while they heartily disliked the chief of this new great country, they also feared and, therefore, humored him. They all felt that the enemy, although defeated and humbled, was not, perhaps, permanently disabled, and might, at any moment, rise, phoenix-like and soar aloft again. The great visionary was therefore fêted and lauded and raised to a dizzy pedestal by men who, in their hearts, set him down as a crank. His words were reverently repeated and his smiles recorded and remembered. Hardly any one had the bad taste to remark that even this millennial philosopher in the statesman's armchair left unsightly flaws in his system for the welfare of man. Thus, while favoring equality generally, he obstinately refused to concede it to one race, in fact, he would not hear of common fairness being meted out to that race. It was the Polish people which was treated thus at the Vienna Congress, and, owing to him, Poland's just claims were ignored, her indefeasible rights were violated, and the work of the peace-makers was botched....

Happily, optimists said, the Paris Conference was organized on a wholly different basis. Its members considered themselves mere servants of the public—stewards, who had to render an account of their stewardship and who therefore went in salutary fear of the electorate at home. This check was not felt by the plenipotentiaries in Vienna. Again, everything the Paris delegates did was for the benefit of the masses, although most of it was done by stealth and unappreciated by them.

The remarkable document which will forever be associated with the name of President Wilson was the clou of the Conference. The League of Nations scheme seemed destined to change fundamentally the relations of peoples toward one another, and the change was expected to begin immediately after the Covenant had been voted, signed, and ratified. But it was not relished by any government except that of the United States, and it was in order to enable the delegates to devise such a wording of the Covenant as would not bind them to an obnoxious principle or commit their electorates to any irksome sacrifice, that the peace treaty with Germany and the liquidation of the war were postponed. This delay caused profound dissatisfaction in continental Europe, but it had the incidental advantage of bringing home to the victorious nations the marvelous recuperative powers of the German race. It also gave time for the drafting of a compact so admirably tempered to the human weaknesses of the rival signatory nations, whose passions were curbed only by sheer exhaustion, that all their spokesmen saw their way to sign it. There was something almost genial in the simplicity of the means by which the eminent promoter of the Covenant intended to reform the peoples of the world. He gave them credit for virtues which would have rendered the League unnecessary and displayed indulgence for passions which made its speedy realization hopeless, thus affording a superfluous illustration of the truth that the one deadly evil to be shunned by those who would remain philanthropists is a practical knowledge of men, and of the truism that the statesman's bane is an inordinate fondness for abstract ideas.

One of the decided triumphs of the Paris Peace Conference over the Vienna Congress lay in the amazing speed with which it got through the difficult task of solving offhandedly some of the most formidable problems that ever exercised the wit of man. One of the Paris journals contained the following remarkable announcement: "The actual time consumed in constituting the League of Nations, which it is hoped will be the means of keeping peace in the world, was thirty hours. This doesn't seem possible, but it is true."[6]

How provokingly slowly the dawdlers of Vienna moved in comparison may be read in the chronicles of that time. The peoples hoped and believed that the Congress would perform its tasks in a short period, but it was only after nine months' gestation and sore travail that it finally brought forth its offspring—a mountain of Acts which have been moldering in dust ever since.

The Wilsonian Covenant, which bound together thirty-two states—a league intended to be incomparably more powerful than was the Holy Alliance—will take rank as the most rapid improvisation of its kind in diplomatic history.

A comparison between the features common to the two international legislatures struck many observers as even more reassuring than the contrast between their differences. Both were placed in like circumstances, faced with bewildering and fateful problems to which an exhausting war, just ended, had imparted sharp actuality. One of the delegates to the Vienna Congress wrote:

"Everything had to be recast and made new, the destinies of Germany, Italy, and Poland settled, a solid groundwork laid for the future, and a commercial system to be outlined."[7] Might not those very words have been penned at any moment during the Paris Conference with equal relevance to its undertakings?

Or these: "However easily and gracefully the fine old French wit might turn the topics of the day, people felt vaguely beneath it all that these latter times were very far removed from the departed era and, in many respects, differed from it to an incomprehensible degree."[8] And the veteran Prince de Ligne remarked to the Comte de la Garde: "From every side come cries of Peace, Justice, Equilibrium, Indemnity.... Who will evolve order from this chaos and set a dam to the stream of claims?" How often have the same cries and queries been uttered in Paris?

When the first confidential talks began at the Vienna Congress, the same difficulties arose as were encountered over a century later in Paris about the number of states that were entitled to have representatives there. At the outset, the four Cabinet Ministers of Austria, Russia, England, and Prussia kept things to themselves, excluding vanquished France and the lesser Powers. Some time afterward, however, Talleyrand, the spokesman of the worsted nation, accompanied by the Portuguese Minister, Labrador, protested vehemently against the form and results of the deliberations. At one sitting passion rose to white heat and Talleyrand spoke of quitting the Congress altogether, whereupon a compromise was struck and eight nations received the right to be represented. In this way the Committee of Eight was formed.[9] In Paris discussion became to the full as lively, and on the first Saturday, when the representatives of Belgium, Greece, Poland, and the other small states delivered impassioned speeches against the attitude of the Big Five they were maladroitly answered by M. Clemenceau, who relied, as the source from which emanated the superior right of the Great Powers, upon the twelve million soldiers they had placed in the field. It was unfortunate that force should thus confer privileges at a Peace Conference which was convoked to end the reign of force and privilege. In Vienna it was different, but so were the times.

Many of the entries and comments of the chroniclers of 1815 read like extracts from newspapers of the first three months of 1919. "About Poland, they are fighting fiercely and, down to the present, with no decisive result," writes Count Carl von Nostitz, a Russian military observer.... "Concerning Germany and her future federative constitution, nothing has yet been done, absolutely nothing."[10] Here is a gloss written by Countess Elise von Bernstorff, wife of the Danish Minister: "Most comical was the mixture of the very different individuals who all fancied they had work to do at the Congress ... One noticed noblemen and scholars who had never transacted any business before, but now looked extremely consequential and took on an imposing bearing, and professors who mentally set down their university chairs in the center of a listening Congress, but soon turned peevish and wandered hither and thither, complaining that they could not, for the life of them, make out what was going on." Again: "It would have been to the interest of all Europe—rightly understood—to restore Poland. This matter may be regarded as the most important of all. None other could touch so nearly the policy of all the Powers represented,"[11] wrote the Bavarian Premier, Graf von Montgelas, just as the Entente press was writing in the year 1919.

The plenipotentiaries of the Paris Conference had for a short period what is termed a good press, and a rigorous censorship which never erred on the side of laxity, whereas those of the Vienna Congress were criticized without truth. For example, the population of Vienna, we are told by Bavaria's chief delegate, was disappointed when it discerned in those whom it was wont to worship as demigods, only mortals. "The condition of state affairs," writes Von Gentz, one of the clearest heads at the Congress, "is weird, but it is not, as formerly, in consequence of the crushing weight that is hung around our necks, but by reason of the mediocrity and clumsiness of nearly all the workers."[12] One consequence of this state of things was the constant upspringing of new and unforeseen problems, until, as time went on, the bewildered delegates were literally overwhelmed. "So many interests cross each other here," comments Count Carl von Nostitz, "which the peoples want to have mooted at the long-wished-for League of Nations, that they fall into the oddest shapes.... Look wheresoever you will, you are faced with incongruity and confusion.... Daily the claims increase as though more and more evil spirits were issuing forth from hell at the invocation of a sorcerer who has forgotten the spell by which to lay them."[13] It was of the Vienna Congress that those words were written.

In certain trivial details, too, the likeness between the two great peace assemblies is remarkable. For example, Lord Castlereagh, who represented England at Vienna, had to return to London to meet Parliament, thus inconveniencing the august assembly, as Mr. Wilson and Mr. George were obliged to quit Paris, with a like effect. Before Castlereagh left the scene of his labors, uncharitable judgments were passed on him for allowing home interests to predominate over his international activities.

The destinies of Poland and of Germany, which were then about to become a confederation, occupied the forefront of interest at the Congress as they did at the Conference. A similarity is noticeable also in the state of Europe generally, then and now. "The uncertain condition of all Europe," writes a close observer in 1815, "is appalling for the peoples: every country has mobilized ... and the luckless inhabitants are crushed by taxation. On every side people complain that this state of peace is worse than war ... individuals who despised Napoleon say that under him the suffering was not greater ... every country is sapping its own prosperity, so that financial conditions, in lieu of improving since Napoleon's collapse, are deteriorating every where."[14]

In 1815, as in 1919, the world pacifiers had their court painters, and Isabey, the French portraitist, was as much run after as was Sir William Orpen in 1919. In some respects, however, there was a difference. "Isabey," said the Prince de Ligne, "is the Congress become painter. Come! His talk is as clever as his brush." But Sir William Orpen was so absorbed by his work that he never uttered a word during a sitting. The contemporaries of the Paris Conference were luckier than their forebears of the Vienna Congress—for they could behold the lifelike features of their benefactors in a cinema. "It is understood," wrote a Paris journal, "that the necessity of preserving a permanent record of the personalities and proceedings at the Peace Conference has not been lost sight of. Very shortly a series of cinematographic films of the principal delegates and of the commissions is to be made on behalf of the British government, so that, side by side with the Treaty of Paris, posterity will be able to study the physiognomy of the men who made it."[15] In no case is it likely to forget them.

So the great heart of Paris, even to a greater degree than that of Vienna over a hundred years ago, beat and throbbed to cosmic measures while its brain worked busily at national, provincial, and economic questions.

Side by side with the good cheer prevalent that kept the eminent lawgivers of the Vienna Congress in buoyant spirits went the cost of living, prohibitive outside the charmed circle in consequence of the high and rising prices.

"Every article," writes the Comte de la Garde, one of the chroniclers of the Vienna Congress, "but more especially fuel, soared to incredible heights. The Austrian government found it necessary, in consequence, to allow all its officials supplements to their salaries and indemnities."[16] In Paris things were worse. Greed and disorganization combined to make of the French capital a vast fleecing-machine. The sums of money expended by foreigners in France during all that time and a much longer period is said to have exceeded the revenue from foreign trade. There was hardly any coal, and even the wood fuel gave out now and again. Butter was unknown. Wine was bad and terribly dear. A public conveyance could not be obtained unless one paid "double, treble, and quintuple fares and a gratuity." The demand was great and the supply sometimes abundant, but the authorities contrived to keep the two apart systematically.

THE COST OF LIVING

In no European country did the cost of living attain the height it reached in France in the year 1919. Not only luxuries and comforts, but some of life's necessaries, were beyond the reach of home-coming soldiers, and this was currently ascribed to the greed of merchants, the disorganization of transports, the strikes of workmen, and the supineness of the authorities, whose main care was to keep the nation tranquil by suppressing one kind of news, spreading another, and giving way to demands which could no longer be denied. There was another and more effectual cause: the war had deprived the world of twelve million workmen and a thousand milliard francs' worth of goods. But of this people took no account. The demobilized soldiers who for years had been well fed and relieved of solicitude for the morrow returned home, flushed with victory, proud of the commanding position which they had won in the state, and eager to reap the rewards of their sacrifices. But they were bitterly disillusioned. They expected a country fit for heroes to live in, and what awaited them was a condition of things to which only a defeated people could be asked to resign itself. The food to which the poilu had, for nearly five years, been accustomed at the front was become, since the armistice, the exclusive monopoly of the capitalist or the nouveau-riche in the rear. To obtain a ration of sugar he or his wife had to stand in a long queue for hours, perhaps go away empty-handed and return on the following morning. When his sugar-card was eventually handed to him he had again to stand in line outside the grocer's door and, when his turn came to enter it, was frequently told that the supply was exhausted and would not be replenished for a week or longer. Yet his newspaper informed him that there was plenty of colonial sugar, ready for shipment, but forbidden by the authorities to be imported into France. I met many poor people from the provinces and some resident in Paris who for four years had not once eaten a morsel of sugar, although the well-to-do were always amply supplied. In many places even bread was lacking, while biscuits, shortbread, and fancy cakes, available at exorbitant prices, were exhibited in the shop windows. Tokens of unbridled luxury and glaring evidences of wanton waste were flaunted daily and hourly in the faces of the humbled men who had saved the nation and wanted the nation to realize the fact. Lucullan banquets, opulent lunches, all-night dances, high revels of an exotic character testified to the peculiar psychic temper as well as to the material prosperity of the passive elements of the community and stung the poilus to the quick. "But what justice," these asked, "can the living hope for, when the glorious dead are so soon forgotten?" For one ghastly detail remains to complete a picture to which Boccaccio could hardly have done justice. "While all this wild dissipation was going on among the moneyed class in the capital the corpses of many gallant soldiers lay unburied and uncovered on the shell-plowed fields of battle near Rheims, on the road to Neuville-sur-Margival and other places—sights pointed out to visitors to tickle their interest in the grim spectacle of war. In vain individuals expostulated and the press protested. As recently as May persons known to me—my English secretary was one—looked with the fascination of horror on the bodies of men who, when they breathed, were heroes. They lay there where they had fallen and agonized, and now, in the heat of the May sun, were moldering in dust away—a couple of hours' motor drive from Paris...."[17]

The soldiers mused and brooded. Since the war began they had undergone a great psychic transformation. Stationed at the very center of a sustained fiery crisis, they lost their feeling of acquiescence in the established order and in the place of their own class therein. In the sight of death they had been stirred to their depths and volcanic fires were found burning there. Resignation had thereupon made way for a rebellious mood and rebellion found sustenance everywhere. The poilu demobilized retained his military spirit, nay, he carried about with him the very atmosphere of the trenches. He had rid himself of the sentiment of fear and the faculty of reverence went with it. His outlook on the world had changed completely and his inner sense reversed the social order which he beheld, as the eye reverses the object it apprehends. Respect for persons and institutions survived in relatively few instances the sacredness of life and the fear of death. He was impressed, too, with the all-importance of his class, which he had learned during the war to look upon as the Atlas on whose shoulders rest the Republic and its empire overseas. He had saved the state in war and he remained in peace-time its principal mainstay. With his value as measured by these priceless services he compared the low estimate put upon him by those who continued to identify themselves with the state—the over-fed, lazy, self-seeking money-getters who reserved to themselves the fruits of his toil.

One can well imagine—I have actually heard—the poilus putting their case somewhat as follows: "So long as we filled the gap between the death-dealing Teutons and our privileged compatriots we were well fed, warmly clad, made much of. During the war we were raised to the rank of pillars of the state, saviors of the nation, arbiters of the world's destinies. So long as we faced the enemy's guns nothing was too good for us. We had meat, white bread, eggs, wine, sugar in plenty. But, now that we have accomplished our task, we have fallen from our high estate and are expected to become pariahs anew. We are to work on for the old gang and the class from which it comes, until they plunge us into another war. For what? What is the reward for what we have achieved, what the incentive for what we are expected to accomplish? We cannot afford as much food as before the war, nor of the same quality. We are in want even of necessaries. Is it for this that we have fought? A thousand times no. If we saved our nation we can also save our class. We have the will and the power. Why should we not exert them?" The purpose of the section of the community to which these demobilized soldiers mainly belonged grew visibly definite as consciousness of their collective force grew and became keener. Occasionally it manifested itself openly in symptomatic spurts.

One dismal night, at a brilliant ball in a private mansion, a select company of both sexes, representatives of the world of rank and fashion, were enjoying themselves to their hearts' content, while their chauffeurs watched and waited outside in the cold, dark streets, chewing the cud of bitter reflections. Between the hours of three and four in the morning the latter held an open-air meeting, and adopted a resolution which they carried out forthwith. A delegation was sent upstairs to give notice to the light-hearted guests that they must be down in their respective motors within ten minutes on pain of not finding any conveyances to take them home. The mutineers were nearly all private chauffeurs in the employ of the personages to whom they sent this indelicate ultimatum. The resourceful host, however, warded off the danger and placated the rebellious drivers by inviting them to an improvised little banquet of pâtés de foie gras, dry champagne, and other delicacies. The general temper of the proletariat remained unchanged. Tales of rebellion still more disquieting were current in Paris, which, whether true or false, were aids to a correct diagnosis of the situation.

A dancing mania broke out during the armistice, which was not confined to the French capital. In Berlin, Rome, London, it aroused the indignation of those whose sympathy with the spiritual life of their respective nations was still a living force. It would seem, however, to be the natural reaction produced by a tremendous national calamity, under which the mainspring of the collective mind temporarily gives way and the psychical equilibrium is upset. Disillusion, despondency, and contempt for the passions that lately stirred them drive the people to seek relief in the distractions of pleasures, among which dancing is perhaps one of the mildest. It was so in Paris at the close of the long period of stress which ended with the rise of Napoleon. Dancing then went on uninterruptedly despite national calamities and private hardships. "Luxury," said Victor Hugo, "is a necessity of great states and great civilizations, but there are moments when it must not be exhibited to the masses." There was never a conjuncture when the danger of such an exhibition was greater or more imminent than during the armistice on the Continent—for it was the period of incubation preceding the outbreak of the most malignant social disease to which civilized communities are subject.

The festivities and amusements in the higher circles of Paris recall the glowing descriptions of the fret and fever of existence in the Austrian capital during the historic Vienna Congress a hundred years ago. Dancing became epidemic and shameless. In some salons the forms it took were repellent. One of my friends, the Marquis X., invited to a dance at the house of a plutocrat, was so shocked by what he saw there that he left almost at once in disgust. Madame Machin, the favorite teacher of the choreographic art, gave lessons in the new modes of dancing, and her fee was three hundred francs a lesson. In a few weeks she netted, it is said, over one hundred thousand francs.

The Prince de Ligne said of the Vienna Congress: "Le Congrès danse mais il ne marche pas." The French press uttered similar criticisms of the Paris Conference, when its delegates were leisurely picking up information about the countries whose affairs they were forgathered to settle. The following paragraph from a Paris journal—one of many such—describes a characteristic scene:

The domestic staff at the Hôtel Majestic, the headquarters of the British Delegation at the Peace Conference, held a very successful dance on Monday evening, attended by many members of the British Mission and Staff. The ballroom was a medley of plenipotentiaries and chambermaids, generals and orderlies, Foreign Office attachés and waitresses. All the latest forms of dancing were to be seen, including the jazz and the hesitation waltz, and, according to the opinion of experts, the dancing reached an unusually high standard of excellence. Major Lloyd George, one of the Prime Minister's sons, was among the dancers. Mr. G.H. Roberts, the Food Controller, made a very happy little speech to the hotel staff.[18]

The following extract is also worth quoting:

A packed house applauded 'Hullo, Paris!' from the rise of the curtain to the finale at the new Palace Theater (in the rue Mogador), Paris, last night.... President Wilson, Mr. A.J. Balfour, and Lord Derby all remained until the fall of the curtain at 12.15 ... and ... were given cordial cheers from the dispersing audience as they passed through the line of Municipal Guards, who presented arms as the distinguished visitors made their way to their motor-cars.[19]

Juxtaposed with the grief, discontent, and physical hardships prevailing among large sections of the population which had provided most of the holocausts for the Moloch of War, the ostentatious gaiety of the prosperous few might well seem a challenge. And so it was construed by the sullen lack-alls who prowled about the streets of Paris and told one another that their turn would come soon.

When the masses stare at the wealthy with the eyes one so often noticed during the eventful days of the armistice one may safely conclude, in the words of Victor Hugo, that "it is not thoughts that are harbored by those brains; it is events."

By the laboring classes the round of festivities, the theatrical representations, the various negro and other foreign dances, and the less-refined pleasures of the world's blithest capital were watched with ill-concealed resentment. One often witnessed long lines of motor-cars driving up to a theater, fashionable restaurant, or concert-hall, through the opening portals of which could be caught a glimpse of the dazzling illumination within, while, a few yards farther off, queues of anemic men and women were waiting to be admitted to the shop where milk or eggs or fuel could be had at the relatively low prices fixed by the state. The scraps of conversation that reached one's ears were far from reassuring.

I have met on the same afternoon the international world-regenerators, smiling, self-complacent, or preoccupied, flitting by in their motors to the Quai d'Orsay, and also quiet, determined-looking men, trudging along in the snow and slush, wending their way toward their labor conventicles, where they, too, were drafting laws for a new and strange era, and I voluntarily fell to gaging the distance that sundered the two movements, and asked myself which of the inchoate legislations would ultimately be accepted by the world. The question since then has been partially answered. As time passed, the high cost of living was universally ascribed, as we saw, to the insatiable greed of the middlemen and the sluggishness of the authorities, whose incapacity to organize and unwillingness to take responsibility increased and augured ill of the future of the country unless men of different type should in the meanwhile take the reins. Practically nothing was done to ameliorate the carrying power of the railways, to utilize the waterways, to employ the countless lorries and motor-vans that were lying unused, to purchase, convey, and distribute the provisions which were at the disposal of the government. Various ministerial departments would dispute as to which should take over consignments of meat or vegetables, and while reports, notes, and replies were being leisurely written and despatched, weeks or months rolled by, during which the foodstuffs became unfit for human consumption. In the middle of May, to take but one typical instance, 2,401 eases of lard and 1,418 cases of salt meat were left rotting in the docks at Marseilles. In the storage magazines at Murumas, 6,000 tons of salt meat were spoiled because it was nobody's business to remove and distribute them. Eighteen refrigerator-cars loaded with chilled meat arrived in Paris from Havre in the month of June. When they were examined at the cold-storage station it was discovered that, the doors having been negligently left open, the contents of the cases had to be destroyed.[20] From Belgium 108,000 kilos of potatoes were received and allowed to lie so long at one of the stations that they went bad and had to be thrown away. When these and kindred facts were published, the authorities, who had long been silent, became apologetic, but remained throughout inactive. In other countries the conditions, if less accentuated, were similar.

One of the dodges to which unscrupulous dealers resorted with impunity and profit was particularly ingenious. At the central markets, whenever any food is condemned, the public-health authorities seize it and pay the owner full value at the current market rates. The marketmen often turned this equitable arrangement to account by keeping back large quantities of excellent vegetables, for which the population was yearning, and when they rotted and had to be carted away, received their money value from the Public Health Department, thus attaining their object, which was to lessen the supply and raise the prices on what they kept for sale.[21] The consequence was that Paris suffered from a continual dearth of vegetables and fruits. Statistics published by the United States government showed the maximum increase in the cost of living in four countries as follows: France, 235 per cent.; Britain, 135 per cent.; Canada, 115 per cent.; and the United States, 107 per cent.[22] But since these data were published prices continued to rise until, at the beginning of July, they had attained the same level as those of Russia on the eve of the revolution there. In Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, the prices of various kinds of fish, shell-fish, jams, apples, had gone up 500 per cent., cabbage over 900 per cent., and celeriac 2,000 per cent. Anthracite coal, which in the year 1914 cost 56 francs a ton, could not be purchased in 1919 for less than 360 francs.

The restaurants and hotels waged a veritable war of plunder on their guests, most of whom, besides the scandalous prices, which bore no reasonable relation to the cost of production, had to pay the government luxury tax of 10 per cent, over and above. A well-known press correspondent, who entertained seven friends to a simple dinner in a modest restaurant, was charged 500 francs, 90 francs being set down for one chicken, and 28 for three cocktails. The maître d'hotel, in response to the pressman's expostulations, assured him that these charges left the proprietor hardly any profit. As it chanced, however, the journalist had just been professionally investigating the cost of living, and had the data at his finger-ends. As he displayed his intimate knowledge to his host, and obviously knew where to look for redress, he had the satisfaction of obtaining a rebate of 150 francs.[23]

Nothing could well be more illuminating than the following curious picture contributed by a journal whose representative made a special inquiry into the whole question of the cost of living.[24] "I was dining the other day at a restaurant of the Bois de Boulogne. There was a long queue of people waiting at the door, some sixty persons all told, mostly ladies, who pressed one another closely. From time to time a voice cried: 'Two places,' whereupon a door was held opened, two patients entered, and then it was loudly slammed, smiting some of those who stood next to it. At last my turn came, and I went in. The guests were sitting so close to one another that they could not move their elbows. Only the hands and fingers were free. There sat women half naked, and men whose voices and dress betrayed newly acquired wealth. Not one of them questioned the bills which were presented. And what bills! The hors d'oeuvre, 20 francs. Fish, 90 francs. A chicken, 150 francs. Three cigars, 45 francs. The repast came to 250 francs a person at the very lowest." Another journalist commented upon this story as follows: "Since the end of last June," he said, "445,000 quintals of vegetables, the superfluous output of the Palatinate, were offered to France at nominal prices. And the cost of vegetables here at home is painfully notorious. Well, the deal was accepted by the competent Commission in Paris. Everything was ready for despatching the consignment. The necessary trains were secured. All that was wanting was the approval of the French authorities, who were notified. Their answer has not yet been given and already the vegetables are rotting in the magazines."

The authorities pleaded the insufficiency of rolling stock, but the press revealed the hollowness of the excuse and the responsibility of those who put it forward, and showed that thousands of wagons, lorries, and motor-vans were idle, deteriorating in the open air. For instance, between Cognac and Jarnac the state railways had left about one thousand wagons unused, which were fast becoming unusable.[25] And this was but one of many similar instances.

It would be hard to find a parallel in history for the rapacity combined with unscrupulousness and ingenuity displayed during that fateful period by dishonest individuals, and left unpunished by the state. Doubtless France was not the only country in which greed was insatiable and its manifestations disastrous. From other parts of the Continent there also came bitter complaints of the ruthlessness of profiteers, and in Italy their heartless vampirism contributed materially to the revolutionary outbreaks throughout that country in July. Even Britain was not exempt from the scourge. But the presence of whole armies of well-paid, easy-going foreign troops and officials on French soil stimulated greed by feeding it, and also their complaints occasionally bared it to the world. The impression it left on certain units of the American forces was deplorable. When United States soldiers who had long been stationed in a French town were transferred to Germany, where charges were low, the revulsion of feeling among the straightforward, honest Yankees was complete and embarrassing. And by way of keeping it within the bounds of political orthodoxy, they were informed that the Germans had conspired to hoodwink them by selling at undercost prices, in order to turn them against the French. It was an insidious form of German propaganda!

On the other hand, the experience of British and American warriors in France sometimes happened to be so unfortunate that many of them gave credence to the absurd and mischievous legend that their governments were made to pay rent for the trenches in which their troops fought and died, and even for the graves in which the slain were buried.

An acquaintance of mine, an American delegate, wanted an abode to himself during the Conference, and, having found one suitable for which fifteen to twenty-five thousand francs a year were deemed a fair rent, he inquired the price, and the proprietor, knowing that he had to do with a really wealthy American, answered, "A quarter of a million francs." Subsequently the landlord sent to ask whether the distinguished visitor would take the place; but the answer he received ran, "No, I have too much self-respect."

Hotel prices in Paris, beginning from December, 1918, were prohibitive to all but the wealthy. Yet they were raised several times during the Conference. Again, despite the high level they had reached by the beginning of July, they were actually quintupled in some hotels and doubled in many for about a week at the time of the peace celebrations. Rents for flats and houses soared proportionately.

One explanation of the fantastic rise in rents is characteristic. During the war and the armistice, the government—and not only the French government—proclaimed a moratorium, and no rents at all were paid, in consequence of which many house-owners were impoverished and others actually beggared. And it was with a view to recoup themselves for these losses that they fleeced their tenants, French and foreign, as soon as the opportunity presented itself. An amusing incident arising out of the moratorium came to light in the course of a lawsuit. An ingenious tenant, smitten with the passion of greed, not content with occupying his flat without paying rent, sublet it at a high figure to a man who paid him well and in advance, but by mischance set fire to the place and died. Thereupon the tenant demanded and received a considerable sum from the insurance company in which the defunct occupant had had to insure the flat and its contents. He then entered an action at law against the proprietor of the house for the value of the damage caused by the fire, and he won his case. The unfortunate owner was condemned to pay the sum claimed, and also the costs of the action.[26] But he could not recover his rent.

Disorganization throughout France, and particularly in Paris, verged on the border of chaos. Every one felt its effects, but none so severely as the men who had won the war. The work of demobilization, which began soon after the armistice, but was early interrupted, proceeded at snail-pace. The homecoming soldiers sent hundreds of letters to the newspapers, complaining of the wearisome delays on the journey and the sharp privations which they were needlessly forced to endure. Thus, whereas they took but twenty-eight hours to travel from Hanover to Cologne—the lines being German, and therefore relatively well organized—they were no less than a fortnight on the way between Cologne and Marseilles.[27] During the German section of the journey they were kept warm, supplied with hot soup and coffee twice daily; but during the second half, which lasted fourteen days, they received no beverage, hot or cold. "The men were cared for much less than horses." That these poilus turned against the government and the class responsible for this gross neglect was hardly surprising. One of them wrote: "They [the authorities] are frightened of Bolshevism. But we who have not got home, we all await its coming. I don't, of course, mean the real Bolshevism, but even that kind which they paint in such repellent hues."[28] The conditions of telegraphic and postal communications were on a par with everything else. There was no guarantee that a message paid for would even be sent by the telegraph-operators, or, if withheld, that the sender would be apprised of its suppression. The war arrangements were retained during the armistice. And they were superlatively bad. A committee appointed by the Chamber of Deputies to inquire into the matter officially, reported that,[29] at the Paris Telegraph Bureau alone, 40,000 despatches were held back every day—40,000 a day, or 58,400,000 in four years! And from the capital alone. The majority of them were never delivered, and the others were distributed after great delay. The despatches which were retained were, in the main, thrown into a basket, and, when the accumulation had become too great, were destroyed. The Control Section never made any inquiry, and neither the senders nor those to whom the despatches were addressed were ever informed.[30] Even important messages of neutral ambassadors in Rome and London fell under the ban. The recklessness of these censors, who ceased even to read what they destroyed, was such that they held up and made away with state orders transmitted by the great munitions factories, and one of these was constrained to close down because it was unable to obtain certain materials in time.

The French Ambassador in Switzerland reported that, owing to these holocausts, important messages from that country, containing orders for the French national loan, never reached their destination, in consequence of which the French nation lost from ten to twenty million francs. And even the letters and telegrams that were actually passed were so carelessly handled that many of them were lost on the way or delayed until they became meaningless to the addressee. So, for instance, an official letter despatched by the Minister of Commerce to the Minister of Finance in Paris was sent to Calcutta, where the French Consul-General came across it, and had it directed back to Paris. The correspondent of the Echo de Paris, who was sent to Switzerland by his journal, was forbidden by law to carry more than one thousand francs over the frontier, nor was the management of the journal permitted to forward to him more than two hundred francs at a time. And when a telegram was given up in Paris, crediting him with two hundred francs, it was stopped by the censor. Eleven days were let go by without informing the persons concerned. When the administrator of the journal questioned the chief censor, he declined responsibility, having had nothing to do with the matter, but he indicated the Central Telegraph Control as the competent department. There, too, however, they were innocent, having never heard of the suppression. It took another day to elicit the fact that the economic section of the War Ministry was alone answerable for the decision. The indefatigable manager of the Echo de Paris applied to the department in question, but only to learn that it, too, was without any knowledge of what had happened, but it promised to find out. Soon afterward it informed the zealous manager that the department which had given the order could only be the Exchange Commission of the Ministry of Finances. And during all the time the correspondent was in Zurich without money to pay for telegrams or to settle his hotel and restaurant bills.[31]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself, in a report on the whole subject, characterized the section of Telegraphic Control as "an organ of confusion and disorder which has engendered extraordinary abuses, and risked compromising the government seriously."[32] It did not merely risk, it actually went far to compromise the government and the entire governing class as well.

It looked as though the rulers of France were still unconsciously guided by the maxim of Richelieu, who wrote in his testament, "If the peoples were too comfortable there would be no keeping them to the rules of duty." The more urgent the need of resourcefulness and guidance, the greater were the listlessness and confusion. "There is neither unity of conduct," wrote a press organ of the masses, "nor co-ordination of the Departments of War, Public Works, Revictualing, Transports. All these services commingle, overlap, clash, and paralyze one another. There is no method. Thus, whereas France has coffee enough to last her a twelvemonth, she has not sufficient fuel for a week. Scruples, too, are wanting, as are punishments; everywhere there is a speculator who offers his purse, and an official, a station-master, or a subaltern to stretch out his hand.... Shortsightedness, disorder, waste, the frittering away of public moneys and irresponsibility: that is the balance...."[33]

That the spectacle of the country sinking in this administrative quagmire was not conducive to the maintenance of confidence in its ruling classes can well be imagined. On all sides voices were uplifted, not merely against the Cabinet, whose members were assumed to be actuated by patriotic motives and guided by their own lights, but against the whole class from which they sprang, and not in France only, but throughout Europe. Nothing, it was argued, could be worse than what these leaders had brought upon the country, and a change from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat could not well be inaugurated at a more favorable conjuncture.

In truth the bourgeoisie were often as impatient of the restraints and abuses as the homecoming poilu. The middle class during the armistice was subjected to some of the most galling restraints that only the war could justify. They were practically bereft of communications. To use the telegraph, the post, the cable, or the telephone was for the most part an exhibition of childish faith, which generally ended in the loss of time and money.

This state of affairs called for an immediate and drastic remedy, for, so long as it persisted, it irritated those whom it condemned to avoidable hardship, and their name was legion. It was also part of an almost imperceptible revolutionary process similar to that which was going on in several other countries for transferring wealth and competency from one class to another and for goading into rebellion those who had nothing to lose by "violent change in the politico-social ordering." The government, whose powers were concentrated in the hands of M. Clemenceau, had little time to attend to these grievances. For its main business was the re-establishment of peace. What it did not fully realize was the gravity of the risks involved. For it was on the cards that the utmost it could achieve at the Conference toward the restoration of peace might be outweighed and nullified by the consequences of what it was leaving undone and unattempted at home. At no time during the armistice was any constructive policy elaborated in any of the Allied countries. Rhetorical exhortations to keep down expenditure marked the high-water level of ministerial endeavor there.

The strikes called by the revolutionary organizations whose aim was the subversion of the regime under which those monstrosities flourished at last produced an effect on the parliament. One day in July the French Chamber left the Cabinet in a minority by proposing the following resolution: "The Chamber, noting that the cost of living in Belgium has diminished by a half and in England by a fourth since the armistice, while it has continually increased in France since that date, judges the government's economic policy by the results obtained and passes to the order of the day."[34]

Shortly afterward the same Chamber recanted and gave the Cabinet a majority. In Great Britain, too, the House of Commons put pressure on the government, which at last was forced to act.

On the other hand, extravagance was systematically encouraged everywhere by the shortsighted measures which the authorities adopted and maintained as well as by the wanton waste promoted or tolerated by the incapacity of their representatives. In France the moratorium and immunity from taxation gave a fillip to recklessness. People who had hoarded their earnings before the war, now that they were dispensed from paying rent and relieved of fair taxes, paid out money ungrudgingly for luxuries and then struck for higher salaries and wages.

Even the Deputies of the Chamber, which did nothing to mitigate the evil complained of, manifested a desire to have their own salaries—six hundred pounds a year—augmented proportionately to the increased cost of living; but in view of the headstrong current of popular opinion against parliamentarism the government deemed it impolitic to raise the point at that conjuncture.

Most of the working-men's demands in France as in Britain were granted, but the relief they promised was illusory, for prices still went up, leaving the recipients of the relief no better off. And as the wages payable for labor are limited, whereas prices may ascend to any height, the embittered laborer fancied he could better his lot by an appeal to the force which his organization wielded. The only complete solution of the problem, he was assured, was to be found in the supersession of the governing classes and the complete reconstruction of the social fabric on wholly new foundations.[35] And some of the leaders rashly declared that they were unable to discern the elements of any other.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Cf. The Daily Mail (Paris edition), March 12,1919.

[2] On December 18, 1918.

[3] "With what little wisdom the world is governed."

[4] "Mr. Bernard Richards, Secretary of the delegation from the American Jewish Congress to the Peace Conference, expressed much satisfaction with the work done in Paris for the protection of Jewish rights and the furtherance of the interests of other minorities involved in the peace settlement." (The New York Herald, July 20, 1919.) How successful was the influence of the Jewish community at the Peace Conference may be inferred from the following: "Mr. Henry H. Rosenfelt, Director of the American Jewish Relief Committee, announces that all New York agencies engaged in Jewish relief work will join in a united drive in New York in December to raise $7,500,000 (£1,500,000) to provide clothing, food, and medicines for the six million Jews throughout Eastern Europe as well as to make possible a comprehensive programme for their complete rehabilitation.—American Radio News Service." Cf. The Daily Mail, August 19, 1919.

[5] Countess Lulu von Thurheim, My Life, 1788-1852. German edition, Munich, 1913-14.

[6] The New York Herald (Paris edition), February 23, 1919.

[7] Grafen von Montgelas, Denwürdigkeiten des bayrischen Staatsministers Maximilian. See also Dr. Karl Soll, Der Wiener Kongress.

[8] Varnhagen von Ense.

[9] Friedrich von Gentz.

[10] Dr. Karl Soll, Count Carl von Nostitz.

[11] Cf. Dr. Karl Soll, Der Wiener Kongress.

[12] Dr. Karl Soll, Friedrich von Gentz.

[13] Dr. Karl Soll, Count Carl von Nostitz, p. 109.

[14] Jean Gabriel Eynard—the representative of Geneva.

[15] The Daily Mail (Paris edition), March 22, 1919.

[16] Count de la Garde.

[17] Cf. Le Matin, May 31, 1919. A noteworthy example of the negligence of the authorities was narrated by this journal on the same day. To a wooden cross with an inscription recording that the grave was tenanted by "an unknown Frenchman" was hung a disk containing his name and regiment! And here and there the skulls of heroes protruded from the grass, but the German tombs were piously looked after by Boche prisoners.

[18] The Daily Mail (Continental edition), March 12, 1919.

[19] Ibid., April 23, 1919.

[20] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), June 8, 1919.

[21] Cf. The New York Herald, June 2, 1919.

[22] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), April 20, 1919.

[23] Le Figaro, June 8, 1919.

[24] L'Humanité, July 10, 1919.

[25] La Democratie Nouvelle, June 14, 1919.

[26] Le Figaro, March 6, 1919.

[27] L'Humanité, May 23, 1919.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Le Gaulois, March 23, 1919. The New York Herald (Paris edition), March 22, 1919. L'Echo de Paris, June 12, 1919.

[30] The New York Herald, March 22, 1919.

[31] L'Echo de Paris, June 12, 1919.

[32] The New York Herald, March 22, 1919.

[33] L'Humanité, May 23, 1919.

[34] on July 18, 1919. Cf. Matin, Echo de Paris, Figaro, July 10, 1919.

[35] Cf. L'Humanité (French Syndicalist organ), July 11, 1919.


II

SIGNS OF THEIR TIMES

Society during the transitional stage through which it has for some years been passing underwent an unprecedented change the extent and intensity of which are as yet but imperfectly realized. Its more striking characteristics were determined by the gradual decomposition of empires and kingdoms, the twilight of their gods, the drying up of their sources of spiritual energy, and the psychic derangement of communities and individuals by a long and fearful war. Political principles, respect for authority and tradition, esteem for high moral worth, to say nothing of altruism and public spirit, either vanished or shrank to shadowy simulacra. In contemporary history currents and cross-currents, eddies and whirlpools, became so numerous and bewildering that it is not easy to determine the direction of the main stream. Unsocial tendencies coexisted with collectivity of effort, both being used as weapons against the larger community and each being set down as a manifestation of democracy. Against every kind of authority the world, or some of its influential sections, was up in revolt, and the emergence of the passions and aims of classes and individuals had freer play than ever before.

To this consummation conservative governments, and later on their chiefs at the Peace Conference, systematically contributed with excellent intentions and efficacious measures. They implicitly denied, and acted on the denial, that a nation or a race, like an individual, has something distinctive, inherent, and enduring that may aptly be termed soul or character. They ignored the fact that all nations and races are not of the same age nor endowed with like faculties, some being young and helpless, others robust and virile, and a third category senescent and decrepit, and that there are some races which Nature has wholly and permanently unfitted for service among the pioneers of progress. In consequence of these views, which I venture to think erroneous, they applied the same treatment to all states. Just as President Wilson, by striving to impose his pinched conception of democracy and his lofty ideas of political morality on Mexico, had thrown that country into anarchy, the two Anglo-Saxon governments by enforcing their theories about the protection of minorities and other political conceptions in various states of Europe helped to loosen the cement of the politico-social structure there.

Through these as well as other channels virulent poison penetrated to the marrow of the social organism. Language itself, on which all human intercourse hinges, was twisted to suit unwholesome ambitions, further selfish interests, and obscure the vision of all those who wanted real reforms and unvarnished truth. During the war the armies were never told plainly what they were struggling for; officially they were said to be combating for justice, right, self-determination, the sacredness of treaties, and other abstract nouns to which the heroic soldiers never gave a thought and which a section of the civil population misinterpreted. Indeed, so little were these shibboleths understood even by the most intelligent among the politicians who launched them that one half of the world still more or less conscientiously labors to establish their contraries and is anathematizing the other half for championing injustice, might, and unveracity—under various misnomers.

Anglo-Saxondom, taking the lead of humanity, imitated the Catholic states of by-past days, and began to impose on other peoples its own ideas, as well as its practices and institutions, as the best fitted to awaken their dormant energies and contribute to the social reconstruction of the world. In the interval, language, whether applied to history, journalism, or diplomacy, was perverted and words lost their former relations to the things connoted, and solemn promises were solemnly broken in the name of truth, right, or equity. For the new era of good faith, justice and morality was inaugurated, oddly enough, by a general tearing up of obligatory treaties and an ethical violation of the most binding compacts known to social man. This happened coincidently to be in keeping with the general insurgence against all checks and restraints, moral and social, for which the war is mainly answerable, and to be also in harmony with the regular supersession of right by might which characterizes the present epoch and with the disappearance of the sense of law. In a word, under the auspices of the amateur world-reformers, the tendency of Bolshevism throve and spread—an instructive case of people serving the devil at the bidding of God's best friends.

As in the days of the Italian despots, every individual has the chance of rising to the highest position in many of the states, irrespective of his antecedents and no matter what blots may have tarnished his 'scutcheon. Neither aristocratic descent, nor public spirit nor even a blameless past is now an indispensable condition of advancement. In Germany the head of the Republic is an honest saddler. In Austria the chief of the government until recently was the assassin of a prime minister. The chief of the Ukraine state was an ex-inmate of an asylum. Trotzky, one of the Russian duumvirs, is said to have a record which might of itself have justified his change of name from Braunstein. Bela Kuhn, the Semitic Dictator of Hungary, had the reputation of a thief before rising to the height of ruler of the Magyars.... In a word, Napoleon's ideal is at last realized, "La carrière est ouverte aux talents."

Among the peculiar traits of this evanescent epoch may be mentioned inaccessibility to the teaching of facts which run counter to cherished prejudices, aims, and interests. People draw from facts which they cannot dispute only the inferences which they desire. An amusing instance of this occurred in Paris, where a Syndicalist organ[36] published an interesting and on the whole truthful account of the chaotic confusion, misery, and discontent prevailing in Russia and of the brutal violence and foxy wiles of Lenin. The dreary picture included the cost of living; the disorganization of transports; the terrible mortality caused by the after-effects of the war; the crowding of prisons, theaters, cinemas, and dancing-saloons; the eagerness of employers to keep their war prisoners employed while thousands of demobilized soldiers were roaming about the cities and villages vainly looking for work; the absence of personal liberty; the numerous arrests, and the relative popularity withal of the Dictator. This popularity, it was explained, the press contributed to keep alive, especially since the abortive attempt made on his life, when the journals declared that he was indispensable for the time being to his country.

He himself was described as a hard despot, ruthless as a tiger who strikes his fellow-workers numb and dumb with fear. "But he is under no illusions as to the real sentiments of the members of the Soviet who back him, nor does he deign to conceal those which he entertains toward them.... Whenever Lenin himself is concerned justice is expeditious. Some men will be delivered from prison after many years of preventive confinement without having been brought to trial, others who fired on Kerensky will be kept untried for an indefinite period, whereas the brave Russian patriot who aimed his revolver at Lenin, and whom the French press so justly applauded, had only three weeks to wait for his condemnation to death."

This article appearing in a Syndicalist organ seemed an event. Some journals summarized and commented it approvingly, until it was discovered to be a skit on the transient conditions in France, whereupon the "admirable exposé based upon convincing evidence" and the "forcible arguments" became worthless.[37]

An object-lesson in the difficulty of legislating in Anglo-Saxon fashion for foreign countries and comprehending their psychology was furnished by two political trials which, taking place in Paris during the Conference, enabled the delegates to estimate the distance that separates the Anglo-Saxon from the Continental mode of thought and action in such a fundamental problem as the administration of justice. Raoul Villain, the murderer of Jean Jaurès—France's most eminent statesman—was kept in prison for nearly five years without a trial. He had assassinated his victim in cold blood. He had confessed and justified the act. The eye-witnesses all agreed as to the facts. Before the court, however, a long procession of ministers of state, politicians, historians, and professors defiled, narrating in detail the life-story, opinions, and strivings of the victim, who, in the eyes of a stranger, unacquainted with its methods, might have seemed to be the real culprit. The jury acquitted the prisoner.

The other accused man was a flighty youth who had fired on the French Premier and wounded him. He, however, had not long to wait for his trial. He was taken before the tribunal within three weeks of his arrest and was promptly condemned to die.[38] Thus the assassin was justified by the jury and the would-be assassin condemned to be shot. "Suppose these trials had taken place in my country," remarked a delegate of an Eastern state, "and that of the two condemned men one had been a member of the privileged minority, what an uproar the incident would have created in the United States and England! As it happened in western Europe, it passed muster."

How far removed some continental nations are from the Anglo-Saxons in their mode of contemplating and treating another momentous category of social problems may be seen from the circumstance that the Great Council in Basel adopted a bill brought in by the Socialist Welti, authorizing the practice of abortion down to the third month, provided that the husband and wife are agreed, and in cases where there is no marriage provided it is the desire of the woman and that the operation is performed by a regular physician.[39]

Another striking instance of the difference of conceptions between the Anglo-Saxon and continental peoples is contained in the following unsavory document, which the historian, whose business it is to flash the light of criticism upon the dark nooks of civilization, can neither ignore nor render into English. It embodies a significant decision taken by the General Staff of the 256th Brigade of the Army of Occupation[40] and was issued on June 21, 1919.[41]

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

EXPLOITATION ET POLICE DE LA MAISON PUBLIQUE DE MÜNCHEN-GLADBACH

(1.) Les deux femmes composant l'unique personnel de la maison publique de Gladbach (2, Gasthausstrasse), sont venues en délégation déclarer qu'elles ne pouvaient suffire à la nombreuse clientèle, qui envahit leur maison, devant laquelle stationneraient en permanence de nombreux groupes de clients affamés.

Elles déclarent que défalcation faite du service qu'elles doivent assurer à leurs abonnés belges et allemands, elles ne peuvent fournir à la division qu'un total de vingt entrées par jour (10 pour chacune d'elle).

L'établissement d'ailleurs ne travaille pas la nuit et observe strictement le repos dominical. D'autre part les ressources de la ville ne permettent pas, paraît-il, d'augmenter le personnel. Dans ces conditions, en vue d'éviter tout désordre et de ne pas demander à ces femmes un travail audessus de leurs forces, les mesures suivantes seront prises:

(2.) JOURS DE TRAVAIL: Tous les jours de la semaine, sauf le dimanche.

RENDEMENT MAXIMUM: Chaque jour chaque femme reçoit 10 hommes, soit 20 pour les deux personnes, 120 par semaine.

HEURES D'OUVERTURE: 17 heures à 21 heures. Aucune réception n'aura lieu en dehors de ces heures.

TARIF: Pour un séjour d'un quart heure (entrée et sortie de l'établissement comprises) ... 5 marks.

CONSOMMATIONS: La maison ne vend aucune boisson. Il n'y a pas de salle d'attente. Les clients doivent donc se présenter par deux.

(3.) RÉPARTITION: Les 6 jours de la semaine sont donnés:

Le lundi—1er bat. du 164 et C.H.R.
Le mardi—1er bat. du 169 et C.H.R.
Le mercredi—2e bat. du 164 et C.H.R.
Le jeudi—2e bat. du 169 et C.H.R.
Le vendredi—3e bat. du 164.
Le samedi—3e bat. du 169.

(4.) Dans chaque bataillon il sera établi le jour qui leur est fixé, 20 tickets déposés aux bureaux des sergents-majeur à raison de 5 par compagnie. Les hommes désireux de rendre visite à l'établissement réclamerout au bureau de leur sergent-majeur, 1 ticket qui leur donnera driot de priorité.

The value of that document derives from its having been issued as an ordinary regulation, from its having been reproduced in a widely circulated journal of the capital without evolving comment, and from the strong light which it projects upon one of the darkest corners of the civilization which has been so often and so eloquently eulogized.

Manifestly the currents of the new moral life which the Conference was to have set flowing are as yet somewhat weak, the new ideals are still remote and the foreshadowings of a nobler future are faint. Another token of the change which is going forward in the world was reported from the Far East, but passed almost unnoticed in Europe. The Chinese Ministry of Public Instruction, by an edict of November 3, 1919, officially introduced in all secondary schools a phonetic system of writing in place of the ideograms theretofore employed. This is undoubtedly an event of the highest importance in the history of culture, little though it may interest the Western world to-day. At the same time, as a philologist by profession, I agree with a continental authority[42] who holds that, owing to the monosyllabic character of the Chinese language and to the further disadvantage that it lacks wholly or partly several consonants,[43] it will be practically impossible, as the Japanese have already found, to apply the new alphabet to the traditional literary idiom. Neither can it be employed for the needs of education, journalism, of the administration, or for telegraphing. It will, however, be of great value for elementary instruction and for postal correspondence. It is also certain to develop and extend. But its main significance is twofold: as a sign of China's awakening and as an innovation, the certain effect of which will be to weaken national unity and extend regionalism at its expense. From this point of view the reform is portentous.

Another of the signs of the new times which calls for mention is the spread and militancy of the labor movement, to which the war and its concomitants gave a potent impulse. It is differentiated from all previous ferments by this, that it constitutes merely an episode in the universal insurgency of the masses, who are fast breaking through the thin social crust formed by the upper classes and are emerging rapidly above the surface. One of the most impressive illustrations of this general phenomenon is the rise of wages, which in Paris has set the municipal street-sweepers above university professors, the former receiving from 7,600 to 8,000 francs a year, whereas the salary of the latter is some 500 francs less.[44]

This general disturbance is the outcome of many causes, among which are the over-population of the world, the spread of education and of equal opportunity, the anonymity of industrial enterprises, scientific and unscientific theories, the specialization of labor and its depressing influence.[45] These factors produced a labor organization which the railways, newspapers, and telegraph contributed to perfect and transform into a proletarian league, and now all progressive humanity is tending steadily and painfully to become one vast collectivity for producing and sharing on more equitable lines the means of living decently. This consummation is coming about with the fatality of a natural law, and the utmost the wisest of governments can do is to direct it through pacific channels and dislodge artificial obstacles in its course.

One of the first reforms toward which labor is tending with more or less conscious effort is the abolition of the hereditary principle in the possession of wealth and influence and of the means of obtaining them. The division of labor in the past caused the dissociation of the so-called nobler avocations from manual work, and gradually those who followed higher pursuits grew into a sort of hereditary caste which bestowed relative immunity from the worst hardships of life's struggle and formed a ruling class. To-day the masses have their hands on the principal levers for shattering this top crust of the social sphere and seem resolved to press them.

The problem for the solution of which they now menacingly clamor is the establishment of an approximately equitable principle for the redistribution of the world's resources—land, capital, industries, monopolies, mines, transports, and colonies. Whether socialization—their favorite prescription—is the most effectual way of achieving this object may well be doubted, but must be thoroughly examined and discussed. The end once achieved, it is expected that mankind will have become one gigantic living entity, endowed with senses, nerves, heart, arteries, and all the organs necessary to operate and employ the forces and wealth of the planet. The process will be complex because the factors are numerous and of various orders, and for this reason few political thinkers have realized that its many phases are aspects of one phenomenon. That is also a partial explanation of the circumstance that at the Conference the political questions were separated from the economic and treated by politicians as paramount, the others being relegated to the background. The labor legislation passed in Paris reduced itself, therefore, to counsels of perfection.

That the Conference was incapable of solving a problem of this magnitude is self-evident. But the delegates could and should have referred it to an international parliament, fully representative of all the interests concerned. For the best way of distributing the necessaries and comforts of life, which have been acquired or created by manual toil, is a problem that can neither be ignored nor reasoned away. So long as it remains a problem it will be a source of intermittent trouble and disorder throughout the civilized world. The titles, which the classes heretofore privileged could invoke in favor of possession, are now being rapidly acquired by the workers, who in addition dispose of the force conferred by organization, numbers, and resolve. At the same time most of the stimuli and inventives to individual enterprise are being gradually weakened by legislation, which it would be absurd to condemn and dangerous to regard as a settlement. In the meanwhile productivity is falling off, while the demand for the products of labor is growing proportionately to the increase of population and culture.

Hitherto the laws of distribution were framed by the strong, who were few and utilized the many. To-day their relative positions have shifted; the many have waxed strong and are no longer minded to serve as instruments in the hands of a class, hereditary or selected. But the division of mankind into producers and utilizers has ever been the solid and durable mainstay of that type of civilization from which progressive nations are now fast moving away, and the laws and usages against which the proletariat is up in arms are but its organic expression.

From the days of the building of the Pyramids down to those of the digging of the Panama Canal the chasm between the two social orders remained open. The abolition of slavery changed but little in the arrangement—was, indeed, effected more in the interests of the old economics than in deference to any strong religious or moral sentiment. In substance the traditional ordering continued to exist in a form better adapted to the modified conditions. But the filling up of that chasm, which is now going forward, involves the overthrow of the system in its entirety, and the necessity of either rearing a wholly new structure, of which even the keen-sighted are unable to discern the outlines, or else the restoration of the old one on a somewhat different basis. And the only basis conceivable to-day is that which would start from the postulate that some races of men come into the world devoid of the capacity for any more useful part in the progress of mankind than that which was heretofore allotted to the proletariat. It cannot be gainsaid that there are races on the globe which are incapable of assimilating the higher forms of civilization, but which might well be made to render valuable services in the lower without either suffering injustice themselves or demoralizing others. And it seems nowise impossible that one day these reserves may be mobilized and systematically employed in virtue of the principle that the weal of the great progressive community necessitates such a distribution of parts as will set each organ to perform the functions for which it is best qualified.

Since the close of the war internationalism was in the air, and the labor movement intensified it. It stirred the thought and warmed the imagination alike of exploiters and exploited. Reformers and pacifists yearned for it as a means of establishing a well-knit society of progressive and pacific peoples and setting a term to sanguinary wars. Some financiers may have longed for it in a spirit analogous to that in which Nero wished that the Roman people had but one neck. And the Conference chiefs seemed to have pictured it to themselves—if, indeed, they meditated such an abstract matter—in the guise of a pax Anglo-Saxonica, the distinctive feature of which would lie in the transfer to the two principal peoples—and not to a board representing all nations—of those attributes of sovereignty which the other states would be constrained to give up. Of these three currents flowing in the direction of internationalism only one—that of finance—appears for the moment likely to reach its goal....

FOOTNOTES:

[36] L'Humanité, March 6 and 18, 1919.

[37] Cf. L'Humanité, April 10,1919.

[38] The sentence was subsequently commuted.

[39] La Gazette de Lausanne, May 26, 1919.

[40] 128th Division.

[41] It was reproduced by the French Syndicalist organ, L'Humanité of July 7, 1919.

[42] R. de Saussure. Cf. Journal de Genève, August 18, and also May 26, 1919.

[43] d, r, t, l, g (partly) and p, except at the beginning of a word.

[44] Cf. the French papers generally for the month of May—also Bonsoir, July 26, 1919.

[45] Walther Rathenau has dealt with this question in several of his recent pamphlets, which are not before me at the moment.


III

THE DELEGATES

The plenipotentiaries, who became the world's arbiters for a while, were truly representative men. But they mirrored forth not so much the souls of their respective peoples as the surface spirit that flitted over an evanescent epoch. They stood for national grandeur, territorial expansion, party interests, and even abstract ideas. Exponents of a narrow section of the old order at its lowest ebb, they were in no sense heralds of the new. Amid a labyrinth of ruins they had no clue to guide their footsteps, in which the peoples of the world were told to follow. Only true political vision, breadth of judgment, thorough mastery of the elements of the situation, an instinct for discerning central issues, genuine concern for high principles of governance, and the rare moral courage that disregards popularity as a mainspring of action—could have fitted any set of legislators to tackle the complex and thorny problems that pressed for settlement and to effect the necessary preliminary changes. That the delegates of the principal Powers were devoid of many of these qualities cannot fairly be made a subject of reproach. It was merely an accident. But it was as unfortunate as their honest conviction that they could accomplish the grandiose enterprise of remodeling the communities of the world without becoming conversant with their interests, acquainted with their needs, or even aware of their whereabouts. For their failure, which was inevitable, was also bound to be tragic, inasmuch as it must involve, not merely their own ambition to live in history as the makers of a new and regenerate era, but also the destinies of the nations and races which confidently looked up to them for the conditions of future pacific progress, nay, of normal existence.

During the Conference it was the fashion in most European countries to question the motives as well as to belittle the qualifications of the delegates. Now that political passion has somewhat abated and the atmosphere is becoming lighter and clearer, one may without provoking contradiction pay a well-deserved tribute to their sincerity, high purpose, and quick response to the calls of public duty and moral sentiment. They were animated with the best intentions, not only for their respective countries, but for humanity as a whole. One and all they burned with the desire to go as far as feasible toward ending the era of destructive wars. Steady, uninterrupted, pacific development was their common ideal, and they were prepared to give up all that they reasonably could to achieve it. It is my belief, for example, that if Mr. Wilson had persisted in making his League project the cornerstone of the new world structure and in applying his principles without favor, the Italians would have accepted it almost without discussion, and the other states would have followed their example. All the delegates must have felt that the old order of things, having been shaken to pieces by the war and its concomitants, could not possibly survive, and they naturally desired to keep within evolutionary bounds the process of transition to the new system, thus accomplishing by policy what revolution would fain accomplish by violence. It was only when they came to define that policy with a view to its application that their unanimity was broken up and they split into two camps, the pacifists and the militarists, or the democrats and imperialists, as they have been roughly labeled. Here, too, each member of the assembly worked with commendable single-mindedness, and under a sense of high responsibility, for that solution of the problem which to him seemed the most conducive to the general weal. And they wrestled heroically one with the other for what they held to be right and true relatively to the prevalent conditions. The circumstance that the cause and effects of this clash of opinions and sentiments were so widely at variance with early anticipations had its roots partly in their limited survey of the complex problem, and partly, too, in its overwhelming vastness and their own unfitness to cope with it.

The delegates who aimed at disarmament and a society of pacific peoples made out as good a case—once their premises were admitted—as those who insisted upon guarantees, economic and territorial. Everything depended, for the theory adopted, upon each individual's breadth of view, and for its realization upon the temper of the peoples and that of their neighbors. As under the given circumstances either solution was sure to encounter formidable opposition, which only a doughty spirit would dare to affront, compromise, offering a side-exit out of the quandary, was avidly taken. In this way the collective sagacities, working in materials the nature of which they hardly understood, brought forth strange products. Some of the incongruities of the details, such, for instance, as the invitation to Prinkipo, despatched anonymously, occasionally surpass satire, but their bewildered authors are entitled to the benefit of extenuating circumstances.

On the momentous issue of a permanent peace based on Mr. Wilson's pristine concept of a league of nations, and in accordance with rigid principles applied equally to all the states, there was no discussion. In other words, it was tacitly agreed that the fourteen points should not form a bar to the vital postulates of any of the Great Powers. It was only on the subject of the lesser states and the equality of nations that the debates were intense, protracted, and for a long while fruitless. At times words flamed perilously high. For months the solutions of the Adriatic, the Austrian, Turkish, and Thracian problems hung in poignant suspense, the public looking on with diminishing interest and waxing dissatisfaction. The usual optimistic assurances that all would soon run smoothly and swiftly fell upon deaf ears. Faith in the Conference was melting away.

The plight of the Supreme Council and the vain exhortations to believe in its efficiency reminded me of the following story.

A French parish priest was once spiritually comforting a member of his flock who was tormented by doubts about the goodness of God as measured by the imperfection of His creation. Having listened to a vivid account of the troubled soul's high expectation of its Maker and of its deep disappointment at His work, the pious old curé said: "Yes, my child. The world is indeed bad, as you say, and you are right to deplore it. But don't you think you may have formed to yourself an exaggerated idea of God?" An analogous reflection would not be out of place when passing judgment on the Conference which implicitly arrogated to itself some of the highest attributes of the Deity, and thus heightened the contrast between promise and achievement. Certainly people expected much more from it than it could possibly give. But it was the delegates themselves who had aroused these expectations announcing the coming of a new epoch at their fiat. The peoples were publicly told by Mr. Lloyd George and several of his colleagues that the war of 1914-18 would be the last. His "Never again" became a winged phrase, and the more buoyant optimists expected to see over the palace of arbitration which was to be substituted for the battlefield, the inspiring inscription: "A la dernière des guerres, l'humanité reconnaissante."[46] Mr. Wilson's vast project was still more attractive.

Mr. Lloyd George is too well known in his capacity of British parliamentarian to need to be characterized. The splendid services he rendered the Empire during the war, when even his defects proved occasionally helpful, will never be forgotten. Typifying not only the aims, but also the methods, of the British people, he never seems to distrust his own counsels whencesoever they spring nor to lack the courage to change them in a twinkling. He stirred the soul of the nation in its darkest hour and communicated his own glowing faith in its star. During the vicissitudes of the world struggle he was the right man for the responsible post which he occupied, and I am proud of having been one of the first to work in my own modest way to have him placed there. But a good war-leader may be a poor peace-negotiator, and, as a matter of fact, there are few tasks concerned with the welfare of the nation which Mr. Lloyd George could not have tackled with incomparably greater chances of accomplishing it than that of remodeling the world. His antecedents were all against him. His lack of general equipment was prohibitive; even his inborn gifts were disqualifications. One need not pay too great heed to acrimonious colleagues who set him down as a word-weaving trimmer, between whose utterances and thoughts there is no organic nexus, who declines to take the initiative unless he sees adequate forces behind him ready to his to his support, who lacks the moral courage that serves as a parachute for a fall from popularity, but possesses in abundance that of taking at the flood the rising tide which balloon-like lifts its possessor high above his fellows. But judging him in the light of the historic events in which he played a prominent part, one cannot dismiss these criticisms as groundless.

Opportunism is an essential element of statecraft, which is the art of the possible. But there is a line beyond which it becomes shiftiness, and it would be rash to assert that Mr. Lloyd George is careful to keep on the right side of it. At the Conference his conduct appeared to careful observers to be traced mainly by outside influences, and as these were various and changing the result was a zigzag. One day he would lay down a certain proposition as a dogma not to be modified, and before the week was out he would advance the contrary proposition and maintain that with equal warmth and doubtless with equal conviction. Guided by no sound knowledge and devoid of the ballast of principle, he was tossed and driven hither and thither like a wreck on the ocean. Mr. Melville Stone, the veteran American journalist, gave his countrymen his impression of the first British delegate. "Mr. Lloyd George," he said, "has a very keen sense of humor and a great power over the multitude, but with this he displays a startling indifference to, if not ignorance of, the larger affairs of nations." In the course of a walk Mr. Lloyd George expressed surprise when informed that in the United States the war-making power was invested in Congress. "What!" exclaimed the Premier, "you mean to tell me that the President of the United States cannot declare war? I never heard that before." Later, when questions of national ambitions were being discussed, Mr. Lloyd George asked, "What is that place Rumania is so anxious to get?" meaning Transylvania.[47]

The stories current of his praiseworthy curiosity about the places which he was busy distributing to the peoples whose destinies he was forging would be highly amusing if the subject were only a private individual and his motive a desire for useful information, but on the representative of a great Empire they shed a light in which the dignity of his country was necessarily affected and his own authority deplorably diminished. For moral authority at that conjuncture was the sheet anchor of the principal delegates. Although without a program, Mr. Lloyd George would appear to have had an instinctive feeling, if not a reasoned belief, that in matters of general policy his safest course would be to keep pace with the President of the United States. For he took it for granted that Mr. Wilson's views were identical with those of the American people. One of his colleagues, endeavoring to dispel this illusion, said: "Your province at this Conference is to lead. Your colleagues, including Mr. Wilson, will follow. You have the Empire behind you. Voice its aspirations. They coincide with those of the English-speaking peoples of the world. Mr. Wilson has lost his elections, therefore he does not stand for as much as you imagine. You have won your elections, so you are the spokesman of a vast community and the champion of a noble cause. You can knead the Conference at your will. Assert your will. But even if you decide to act in harmony with the United States, that does not mean subordinating British interests to the President's views, which are not those of the majority of his people." But Mr. Lloyd George, invincibly diffident—if diffidence it be—shrank from marching alone, and on certain questions which mattered much Mr. Wilson had his way.

One day there was an animated discussion in the twilight of the Paris conclave while the press was belauding the plenipotentiaries for their touching unanimity. The debate lay between the United States as voiced by Mr. Wilson and Great Britain as represented by Mr. Lloyd George. On the morrow, before the conversation was renewed, a colleague adjured the British Premier to stand firm, urging that his contention of the previous day was just in the abstract and beneficial to the Empire as well. Mr. Lloyd George bowed to the force of these motives, but yielded to the greater force of Mr. Wilson's resolve. "Put it to the test," urged the colleague. "I dare not," was the rejoinder. "Wilson won't brook it. Already he threatens, if we do, to leave the Conference and return home." "Well then, let him. If he did, we should be none the worse off for his absence. But rest assured, he won't go. He cannot afford to return home empty-handed after his splendid promises to his countrymen and the world." Mr. Lloyd George insisted, however, and said, "But he will take his army away, too." "What!" exclaimed the tempter. "His army? Well, I only ..." but it would serve no useful purpose to quote the vigorous answer in full.

This odd mixture of exaggerated self-confidence, mismeasurement of forces, and pliability to external influences could not but be baleful in one of the leaders of an assembly composed, as was the Paris Conference, of men each with his own particular ax to grind and impressible only to high moral authority or overwhelming military force. It cannot be gainsaid that no one, not even his own familiars, could ever foresee the next move in Mr. Lloyd George's game of statecraft, and it is demonstrable that on several occasions he himself was so little aware of what he would do next that he actually advocated as indispensable measures diametrically opposed to those which he was to propound, defend, and carry a week or two later. A conversation which took place between him and one of his fellow-workers gives one the measure of his irresolution and fitfulness. "Do tell me," said this collaborator, "why it is that you members of the Supreme Council are hurriedly changing to-day the decisions you came to after five months' study, which you say was time well spent?"

"Because of fresh information we have received in the meanwhile. We know more now than we knew then and the different data necessitate different treatment."

"Yes, but the conditions have not changed since the Conference opened. Surely they were the same in January as they are in June. Is not that so?"

"No doubt, no doubt, but we did not ascertain them before June, so we could not act upon them until now."

With the leading delegates thus drifting and the pieces on the political chessboard bewilderingly disposed, outsiders came to look upon the Conference as a lottery. Unhappily, it was a lottery in which there were no mere blanks, but only prizes or heavy forfeits.

To sum up: the first British delegate, essentially a man of expedients and shifts, was incapable of measuring more than an arc of the political circle at a time. A comprehensive survey of a complicated situation was beyond his reach. He relied upon imagination and intuition as substitutes for precise knowledge and technical skill. Hence he himself could never be sure that his decision, however carefully worked out, would be final, seeing that in June facts might come to his cognizance with which five months' investigations had left him unacquainted. This incertitude about the elements of the problem intensified the ingrained hesitancy that had characterized his entire public career and warped his judgment effectually. The only approach to a guiding principle one can find in his work at the Conference was the loosely held maxim that Great Britain's best policy was to stand in with the United States in all momentous issues and to identify Mr. Wilson with the United States for most purposes of the Congress. Within these limits Mr. Lloyd George was unyielding in fidelity to the cause of France, with which he merged that of civilization.

M. Clemenceau is the incarnation of the tireless spirit of destruction. Pulling down has ever been his delight, and it is largely to his success in demolishing the defective work of rivals—and all human work is defective—that he owes the position of trust and responsibility to which the Parliament raised him during the last phase of the war. Physically strong, despite his advanced age, he is mentally brilliant and superficial, with a bias for paradox, epigram, and racy, unconventional phraseology. His action is impulsive. In the Dreyfus days I saw a good deal of M. Clemenceau in his editorial office, when he would unburden his soul to M.M. Vaughan, the poet Quillard, and others. Later on I approached him while he was chief of the government on a delicate matter of international combined with national politics, on which I had been requested to sound him by a friendly government, and I found him, despite his developed and sobering sense of responsibility, whimsical, impulsive, and credulous as before. When I next talked with him he was the rebellious editor of _L'Homme Enchaîné_, whose corrosive strictures upon the government of the day were the terror of Ministers and censors. Soon afterward he himself became the wielder of the great national gagging-machine, and in the stringency with which he manipulated it he is said by his own countrymen to have outdone the government of the Third Empire. His _alter ego_, Georges Mandel, is endowed with qualities which supplement and correct those of his venerable chief. His grasp of detail is comprehensive and firm, his memory retentive, and his judgment bold and deliberate. A striking illustration of the audacity of his resolve was given in the early part of 1918. Marshal Joffre sent a telegram to President Wilson in Washington, and because he had omitted to despatch it through the War Ministry, M. Mandel, who is a strict disciplinarian, proposed that he be placed under arrest. It was with difficulty that some public men moved him to leniency.

M. Clemenceau, the professional destroyer, who can boast that he overthrew eighteen Cabinets, or nineteen if we include his own, was unquestionably the right man to carry on the war. He acquitted himself of the task superbly. His faith in the Allies' victory was unwavering. He never doubted, never flagged, never was intimidated by obstacles nor wheedled by persons. Once during the armistice, in May or June, when Marshal Foch expressed his displeasure that the Premier should have issued military orders to troops under his command[48] without first consulting him, he was on the point of dismissing the Marshal and appointing General Pétain to succeed him.[49] Whether the qualities which stood him in such good stead during the world struggle could be of equal, or indeed of much, avail in the general constructive work for which the Conference was assembled is a question that needs only to be formulated. But in securing every advantage that could be conferred on his own country his influence on the delegates was decisive. M. Clemenceau, who before the war was the intimate friend of Austrian journalists, hated his country's enemies with undying hate. And he loved France passionately. I remember significant words of his, uttered at the end of the year 1899 to an enterprising young man who had founded a Franco-German review in Munich and craved his moral support. "Is it possible," he exclaimed, "that it has already come to that? Well, a nation is not conquered until it accepts defeat. Whenever France gives up she will have deserved her humiliation."

At the Conference M. Clemenceau moved every lever to deliver his country for all time from the danger of further invasions. And, being a realist, he counted only on military safeguards. At the League of Nations he was wont to sneer until it dawned upon him that it might be forged into an effective weapon of national defense. And then he included it in the litany of abstract phrases about right, justice, and the self-determination of peoples which it became the fashion to raise to the inaccessible heights where those ideals are throned which are to be worshiped but not incarnated. The public somehow never took his conversion to Wilsonianism seriously, neither did his political friends until the League bade fair to become serviceable in his country's hands. M. Clemenceau's acquaintanceship with international politics was at once superior to that of the British Premier and very slender. But his program at the Conference was simple and coherent, because independent of geography and ethnography: France was to take Germany's leading position in the world, to create powerful and devoted states in eastern Europe, on whose co-operation she could reckon, and her allies were to do the needful in the way of providing due financial and economic assistance so as to enable her to address herself to the cultural problems associated with her new rôle. And he left nothing undone that seemed conducive to the attainment of that object. Against Mr. Wilson he maneuvered to the extent which his adviser, M. Tardieu, deemed safe, and one of his most daring speculations was on the President's journey to the States, during which M. Clemenceau and his European colleagues hoped to get through a deal of work on their own lines and to present Mr. Wilson with the decisions ready for ratification on his return. But the stratagem was not merely apparent; it was bruited abroad with indiscreet details, whereupon the first American delegate on his return broke the tables of their laws—one of which separated the Treaty from the Covenant—and obliged them to begin anew. It is fair to add that M. Clemenceau was no uncompromising partisan of the conquest of the left bank of the Rhine, nor of colonial conquests. These currents took their rise elsewhere. "We don't want protesting deputies in the French Parliament," he once remarked in the presence of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs.[50] Offered the choice between a number of bridgeheads in Germany and the military protection of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, he unhesitatingly decided for the latter, which had been offered to him by President Wilson after the rejection of the Rhine frontier.

M. Clemenceau, whose remarkable mental alacrity, self-esteem, and love of sharp repartee occasionally betrayed him into tactless sallies and epigrammatic retorts, deeply wounded the pride of more than one delegate of the lesser Powers in a way which they deemed incompatible alike with circumspect statesmanship and the proverbial hospitality of his country. For he is incapable of resisting the temptation to launch a _bon mot_, however stinging. It would be ungenerous, however, to attach more importance to such quickly forgotten utterances than he meant them to carry. An instance of how he behaved toward the representatives of Britain and France is worth recording, both as characterizing the man and as extenuating his offense against the delegates of the lesser Powers.

One morning[51] M. Clemenceau appeared at the Conference door, and seemed taken aback by the large number of unfamiliar faces and figures behind Mr. Balfour, toward whom he sharply turned with the brusque interrogation: "Who are those people behind you? Are they English?" "Yes, they are," was the answer. "Well, what do they want here?" "They have come on the same errand as those who are now following you." Thereupon the French Premier, whirling round, beheld with astonishment and displeasure a band of Frenchmen moving toward him, led by M. Pichon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In reply to his question as to the motive of their arrival, he was informed that they were all experts, who had been invited to give the Conference the benefit of their views about the revictualing of Hungary. "Get out, all of you. You are not wanted here," he cried in a commanding voice. And they all moved away meekly, led by M. Pichon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Their services proved to be unnecessary, for the result reached by the Conference was negative.

M. Tardieu cannot be separated from his chief, with whom he worked untiringly, placing at his disposal his intimate knowledge of the nooks and crannies of professional and unprofessional diplomacy. He is one of the latest arrivals and most pushing workers in the sphere of the Old World statecraft, affects Yankee methods, and speaks English. For several years political editor of the _Temps_, he obtained access to the state archives, and wrote a book on the Agadir incident which was well received, and also a monograph on Prince von Bülow, became Deputy, aimed at a ministerial portfolio, and was finally appointed Head Commissary to the United States. Faced by difficulties there—mostly the specters of his own former utterances evoked by German adversaries—his progress at first was slow. He was accused of having approved some of the drastic methods—especially the U-boat campaign—which the Germans subsequently employed, because in the year 1912, when he was writing on the subject, France believed that she herself possessed the best submarines, and she meant to employ them. He was also challenged to deny that he had written, in August, 1912, that in every war churches and monuments of art must suffer, and that "no army, whatever its nationality, can renounce this." He was further charged with having taken a kindly interest in air-war and bomb-dropping, and given it as his opinion that it would be absurd "to deprive of this advantage those who had made most progress in perfecting this weapon." But M. Tardieu successfully exorcised these and other ghosts. And on his return from the United States he was charged with organizing a press bureau of his own, to supply American journalists with material for their cablegrams, while at the same time he collaborated with M. Clemenceau in reorganizing the political communities of the world. It is only in the French Chamber, of which he is a distinguished member, that M. Tardieu failed to score a brilliant success. Few men are prophets in their own country, and he is far from being an exception. At the Conference, in its later phases, he found himself in frequent opposition to the chief of the Italian delegation, Signor Tittoni. One of the many subjects on which they disagreed was the fate of German Austria and the political structure and orientation of the independent communities which arose on the ruins of the Dual Monarchy. M. Tardieu favored an arrangement which would bring these populations closely together and impart to the whole an anti-Teutonic impress. If Germany could not be broken up into a number of separate states, as in the days of her weakness, all the other European peoples in the territories concerned could, and should, be united against her, and at the least hindered from making common cause with her. The unification of Germany he considered a grave danger, and he strove to create a countervailing state system.

To the execution of this project there were formidable difficulties. For one thing, none of the peoples in question was distinctly anti-German. Each one was for itself. Again, they were not particularly enamoured of one another, nor were their interests always concordant, and to constrain them by force to unite would have been not to prevent but to cause future wars. A Danubian federation—the concrete shape imagined for this new bulwark of European peace—did not commend itself to the Italians, who had their own reasons for their opposition besides the Wilsonian doctrine, which they invoked. If it be true, Signor Tittoni argues, that Austria does not desire to be amalgamated with Germany, why not allow her to exercise the right of self-determination accorded to other peoples? M. Tardieu, on the other hand, not content with the prohibition to Germany to unite with Austria, proposed[52] that in the treaty with Austria this country should be obliged to repress the unionist movement in the population. This amendment was inveighed against by the Italian delegation in the name of every principle professed and transgressed by the world-mending Powers. Even from the French point of view he declared it perilous, inasmuch as there was, and could be, no guarantee that a Danubian confederation would not become a tool in Germany's hands.

Two things struck me as characteristic of the principal plenipotentiaries: as a rule, they eschewed first-rate men as fellow-workers, one integer and several zeros being their favorite formula, and they took no account of the flight of time, planning as though an eternity were before them and then suddenly improvising as though afraid of being late for a train or a steamer. These peculiarities were baleful. The lesser states, having mainly first-class men to represent them, illustrated the law of compensation, which assigned many mediocrities to the Great Powers. The former were also the most strenuous toilers, for their task bristled with difficulties and abounded in startling surprises, and its accomplishment depended on the will of others. Time and again they went over the ground with infinite care, counting and gaging the obstacles in their way, devising means to overcome them, and rehearsing the effort in advance. So much stress had been laid during the war on psychology, and such far-reaching consequences were being drawn from the Germans' lack of it, that these public men made its cultivation their personal care. Hence, besides tracing large-scale maps of provinces and comprehensive maps[53] of the countries to be reconstituted, and ransacking history for arguments and precedents, they conscientiously ascertained the idiosyncrasies of their judges, in order to choose the surest ways to impress, convince, or persuade them. And it was instructive to see them try their hand at this new game.

One and all gave assent to the axiom that moderation would impress the arbiters more favorably than greed, but not all of them wielded sufficient self-command to act upon it. The more resourceful delegates, whose tasks were especially redoubtable because they had to demand large provinces coveted by others, prepared the ground by visiting personally some of the more influential arbiters before these were officially appointed, forcibly laying their cases before them and praying for their advice. In reality they were striving to teach them elementary geography, history, and politics. The Ulysses of the Conference, M. Venizelos, first pilgrimaged to London, saying: "If the Foreign Office is with Greece, what matters it who is against her." He hastened to call on President Wilson as soon as that statesman arrived in Europe, and, to the surprise of many, the two remained a long time closeted together. "Whatever did you talk about?" asked a colleague of the Greek Premier. "How did you keep Wilson interested in your national claims all that time? You must have—" "Oh no," interrupted the modest statesman. "I disposed of our claims succinctly enough. A matter of two minutes. Not more. I asked him to dispense me from taking up his time with such complicated issues which he and his colleagues would have ample opportunity for studying. The rest of the time I was getting him to give me the benefit of his familiarity with the subject of the League of Nations. And he was good enough to enumerate the reasons why it should be realized, and the way in which it must be worked. I was greatly impressed by what he said." "Just fancy!" exclaimed a colleague, "wasting all that time in talking about a scheme which will never come to anything!" But M. Venizelos knew that the time was not misspent. President Wilson was at first nowise disposed to lend a favorable ear to the claims of Greece, which he thought exorbitant, and down to the very last he gave his support to Bulgaria against Greece whole-heartedly. The Cretan statesman passed many an hour of doubt and misgiving before he came within sight of his goal. But he contrived to win the President over to his way of envisaging many Oriental questions. He is a past-master in practical psychology.

The first experiments of M. Venizelos, however, were not wholly encouraging. For all the care he lavished on the chief luminaries of the Conference seemingly went to supplement their education and fill up a few of the geographical, historical, philological, ethnological, and political gaps in their early instruction rather than to guide them in their concrete decisions, which it was expected would be always left to the "commissions of experts." But the fruit which took long to mature ripened at last, and Greece had many of her claims allowed. Thus in reorganizing the communities of the world the personal factor played a predominant part. Venizelos was, so to say, a fixed star in the firmament, and his light burned bright through every rift in the clouds. His moderation astonished friends and opponents. Every one admired his _exposé_ of his case as a masterpiece. His statesman-like setting, in perspective, the readiness with which he put himself in the place of his competitor and struck up a fair compromise, endeared him to many, and his praises were in every one's mouth. His most critical hour—it lasted for months—struck when he found himself struggling with the President of the United States, who was for refusing the coast of Thrace to Greece and bestowing it on Bulgaria. But with that dispute I deal in another place.

Of Italy's two plenipotentiaries during the first five months one was the most supple and the other the most inflexible of her statesmen, Signor Orlando and Baron Sonnino. If her case was presented to the Conference with less force than was attainable, the reasons are obvious. Her delegates had a formal treaty on which they relied; to the attitude of their country from the outbreak of the war to its finish they rightly ascribed the possibility of the Allies' victory, and they expected to see this priceless service recognized practically; the moderation and suppleness of Signor Orlando were neutralized by the uncompromising attitude of Baron Sonnino, and, lastly, the gaze of both statesmen was fixed upon territorial questions and sentimental aspirations to the neglect of economic interests vital to the state—in other words, they beheld the issues in wrong perspective. But one of the most popular figures among the delegates was Signor Orlando, whose eloquence and imagination gave him advantages which would have been increased a hundredfold if he might have employed his native language in the conclave. For he certainly displayed resourcefulness, humor, a historic sense, and the gift of molding the wills of men. But he was greatly hampered. Some of his countrymen alleged that Baron Sonnino was his evil genius. One of the many sayings attributed to him during the Conference turned upon the quarrels of some of the smaller peoples among themselves. "They are," the Premier said, "like a lot of hens being held by the feet and carried to market. Although all doomed to the same fate, they contrive to fight one another while awaiting it."

After the fall of Orlando's Cabinet, M. Tittoni repaired to Paris as Italy's chief delegate. His reputation as one of Europe's principal statesmen was already firmly established; he had spent several years in Paris as Ambassador, and he and the late Di San Giuliano and Giolitti were the men who broke with the Central Empires when these were about to precipitate the World War. In French nationalist circles Signor Tittoni had long been under a cloud, as the man of pro-German leanings. The suspicion—for it was nothing more—was unfounded. On the contrary, M. Tittoni is known to have gone with the Allies to the utmost length consistent with his sense of duty to his own country. To my knowledge he once gave advice which his Italian colleagues and political friends and adversaries now bitterly regret was disregarded. The nature of that counsel will one day be disclosed....

Of Japan's delegates, the Marquis Saionji and Baron Makino, little need be said, seeing that their qualifications for their task were demonstrated by the results. Mainly to statesmanship and skilful maneuvering Japan is indebted for her success at the Paris Conference, where her cause was referred by Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau to Mr. Wilson to deal with. The behavior of her representatives was an illuminating object-lesson in the worth of psychological tactics in practical politics. They hardly ever appeared in the footlights, remained constantly silent and observant, and were almost ignored by the press. But they kept their eyes fixed on the goal. Their program was simple. Amid the flitting shadows of political events they marched together with the Allies, until these disagreed among themselves, and then they voted with Great Britain and the United States. Occasionally they went farther and proposed measures for the lesser states which Britain framed, but desired to second rather than propose. Japan, at the Conference, was a stanch collaborator of the two English-speaking principals until her own opportunity came, and then she threw all her hoarded energies into her cause, and by her firm resolve dispelled any opposition that Mr. Wilson may have intended to offer. One of the most striking episodes of the Conference was the swift, silent, and successful campaign by which Japan had her secret treaty with China hall-marked by the puritanical President of the United States, whose sense of morality could not brook the secret treaties concluded by Italy and Rumania with the Greater and Greatest Powers of Europe. Again, it was with statesman-like sagacity that the Japanese judged the Russian situation and made the best of it—first, shortly before the invitation to Prinkipo, and, later, before the celebrated eight questions were submitted to Admiral Kolchak. I was especially struck by an occurrence, trivial in appearance, which demonstrated the weight which they rightly attached to the psychological side of politics. Everybody in Paris remarked, and many vainly complained of, the indifference, or rather, unfriendliness, of which Russians were the innocent victims. Among the Allied troops who marched under the Arc de Triomphe on July 14th there were Rumanians, Greeks, Portuguese, and Indians, but not a single Russian. A Russian general drove about in the forest of flags and banners that day looking eagerly for symbols of his own country, but for hours the quest was fruitless. At last, when passing the Japanese Embassy, he perceived, to his delight, an enormous Russian flag waving majestically in the breeze, side by side with that of Nippon. "I shed tears of joy," he told his friend that evening, "and I vowed that neither I nor my country would ever forget this touching mark of friendship."

Japanese public opinion criticized severely the failure of their delegates to obtain recognition of the equality of races or nations. This judgment seems unjust, for nothing that they could have done or said would have wrung from Mr. Wilson and Mr. Hughes their assent to the doctrine, nor, if they had been induced to proclaim it, would it have been practically applied.

In general, the lawyers were the most successful in stating their cases. But one of the delegates of the lesser states who made the deepest impression on those of the greater was not a member of the bar. The head of the Polish delegation, Roman Dmowski, a picturesque, forcible speaker, a close debater and resourceful pleader, who is never at a loss for an image, a comparison, an _argumentum ad hominem_, or a repartee, actually won over some of the arbiters who had at first leaned toward his opponents—a noteworthy feat if one realizes all that it meant in an assembly where potent influences were working against some of the demands of resuscitated Poland. His speech in September on the future of eastern Galicia was a veritable masterpiece.

M. Dmowski appeared at the Conference under all the disadvantages that could be heaped upon a man who has incurred the resentment of the most powerful international body of modern times. He had the misfortune to have the Jews of the world as his adversaries. His Polish friends explained this hostility as follows. His ardent nationalist sentiments placed him in antagonism to every movement that ran counter to the progress of his country on nationalist lines. For he is above all things a Pole and a patriot. And as the Hebrew population of Poland, disbelieving in the resurrection of that nation, had long since struck up a cordial understanding with the states that held it in bondage, the gifted author of a book on the _Foundations of Nationalism_, which went through four editions, was regarded by the Hebrew elements of the population as an irreconcilable enemy. In truth, he was only the leader of a movement that was a historical necessity. One of the theses of the work was the necessity of cultivating an anti-German spirit in Poland as the only antidote against the Teuton virus introduced from Berlin through economic and other channels. And as the Polish Jews, whose idiom is a corrupted German dialect and whose leanings are often Teutonic, felt that the attack upon the whole was an attack on the part, they anathematized the author and held him up to universal obloquy. And there has been no reconciliation ever since. In the United States, where the Jewish community is numerous and influential, M. Dmowski found spokes in his wheel at every stage of his journey, and in Paris, too, he had to full-front a tremendous opposition, open and covert. Whatever unbiased people may think of this explanation and of his hostility to the Germans and their agents, Roman Dmowski deservedly enjoys the reputation of a straightforward and loyal fighter for his country's cause, a man who scorns underhand machinations and proclaims aloud—perhaps too frankly—the principles for which he is fighting. Polish Jews who appeared in Paris, some of them his bitterest antagonists, recognized the chivalrous way in which he conducts his electoral and other campaigns. Among the delegates his practical acquaintanceship with East European polities entitled him to high rank. For he knows the world better than any living statesman, having traveled over Europe, Asia, and America. He undertook and successfully accomplished a delicate mission in the Far East in the year 1905, rendering valuable services to his country and to the cause of civilization.

"M. Dmowski's activity," his friends further assert, "is impassioned and unselfish. The ambition that inspires and nerves him is not of the personal sort, nor is his patriotism a ladder leading to place and power. Polish patriotism occupies a category apart from that of other European peoples, and M. Dmowski has typified it with rare fidelity and completeness. If Wilsonianism had been realized, Polish nationalism might have become an anachronism. To-day it is a large factor in European politics and is little understood in the West. M. Dmowski lives for his country. Her interests absorb his energies. He would probably agree with the historian Paolo Sarpi, who said, 'Let us be Venetians first and Christians after.' Of the two widely divergent currents into which the main stream of political thought and sentiment throughout the world is fast dividing itself, M. Dmowski moves with the national away from the international championed by Mr. Wilson. The frequency with which the leading spirits of Bolshevism turn out to be Jews—to the dismay and disgust of the bulk of their own community—and the ingenuity they displayed in spreading their corrosive tenets in Poland may not have been without effect upon the energy of M. Dmowski's attitude toward the demand of the Polish Jews to be placed in the privileged position of wards of the League of Nations. But the principle of the protection of minority—Jewish or Gentile—is assailable on grounds which have nothing to do with race or religion." Some of the most interesting and characteristic incidents at the Conference had the Polish statesman for their principal actor, and to him Poland owes some of the most solid and enduring benefits conferred on her at the Conference.

Of a different temper is M. Paderewski, who appeared in Paris to plead his country's cause at a later stage of the labors of the Conference. This eminent artist's energies were all blended into one harmonious whole, so that his meetings with the great plenipotentiaries were never disturbed by a jarring note. As soon as it was borne in upon him that their decisions were as irrevocable as decrees of Fate, he bowed to them and treated the authors as Olympians who had no choice but to utter the stern fiat. Even when called upon to accept the obnoxious clause protecting religious and ethnic minorities against which his colleague had vainly fought, M. Paderewski sunk political passion in reason and attuned himself to the helpful role of harmonizer. He held that it would have been worse than useless to do otherwise. He was grieved that his country must acquiesce in that decree, he regretted intensely the necessity which constrained such proven friends of Poland as the Four to pass what he considered a severe sentence on her; but he resigned himself gracefully to the inevitable and thanked Fate's executioners for their personal sympathy. This attitude evoked praise and admiration from Messrs. Lloyd George and Wilson, and the atmosphere of the conclave seemed permeated with a spirit that induced calm satisfaction and the joy of elevated thoughts. M. Paderewski made a deep and favorable impression on the Supreme Council.

Belgium sent her most brilliant parliamentarian, M. Hymans, as first plenipotentiary to the Conference. He was assisted by the chief of the Socialist party, M. Vandervelde, and by an eminent authority on international law, M. Van den Heuvel. But for reasons which elude analysis, none of the three delegates hit it off with the duumvirate who were spinning the threads of the world's destinies. M. Hymans, however, by his warmth, sincerity, and courage impressed the representatives of the lesser states, won their confidence, became their natural spokesman, and blazed out against all attempts—and they were numerous and deliberate—to ignore their existence. It was he who by his direct and eloquent protest took M. Clemenceau off his guard and elicited the amazing utterance that the Powers which could put twelve million soldiers in the field were the world's natural arbiters. In this way he cleared the atmosphere of the distorting mists of catchwords and shibboleths.

How decisive a role internal politics played in the designation of plenipotentiaries to the Conference was shown with exceptional clearness in the case of Rumania. That country had no legislature. The Constituent Assembly, which had been dissolved owing to the German invasion, was followed by no fresh elections. The King, with whom the initiative thus rested, had reappointed M. Bratiano Chief of the Government, and M. Bratiano was naturally desirous of associating his own historic name with the aggrandizement of his country. But he also desired to secure the services of his political rival, M. Take Jonescu, whose reputation as a far-seeing statesman and as a successful negotiator is world-wide. Among his qualifications are an acquaintanceship with European countries and their affairs and a rare facility for give and take which is of the essence of international politics. He can assume the initiative in _pourparlers_, however uncompromising the outlook; frame plausible proposals; conciliate his opponents by showing how thoroughly he understands and appreciates their point of view, and by these means he has often worked out seemingly hopeless negotiations to a satisfactory issue. M. Clemenceau wrote of him, "C'est un grand Européen."[54]

M. Bratiano's bid for the services of his eminent opponent was coupled with the offer of certain portfolios in the Cabinet to M. Jonescu and to a number of his parliamentary supporters. While negotiations were slowly proceeding by telegraph, M. Jonescu, who had already taken up his abode in Paris, was assiduously weaving his plans. He began by assuming what everybody knew, that the Powers would refuse to honor the secret treaty with France, Britain, and Russia, which assigned to Rumania all the territories to which she had laid claim, and he proposed first striking up a compromise with the other interested states, then compacting Rumania, Jugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Greece into a solid block, and asking the Powers to approve and ratify the new league. Truly it was a genial conception worthy of a broad-minded statesman. It aimed at a durable peace based on what he considered a fair settlement of claims satisfactory to all, and it would have lightened the burden of the Big Four. But whether it could have been realized by peoples moved by turbid passions and represented by trustees, some of whom were avowedly afraid to relinquish claims which they knew to be exorbitant, may well be doubted.

But the issue was never put to the test. The two statesmen failed to agree on the Cabinet question; M. Jonescu kept aloof from office, and the post of second delegate fell to Rumania's greatest diplomatist and philologist, M. Mishu, who had for years admirably represented his country as Minister in the British capital. From the outset M. Bratiano's position was unenviable, because he based his country's case on the claims of the secret treaty, and to Mr. Wilson every secret treaty which he could effectually veto was anathema. Between the two men, in lieu of a bond of union, there was only a strong force of mutual repulsion, which kept them permanently apart. They moved on different planes, spoke different languages, and Rumania, in the person of her delegates, was treated like Cinderella by her stepmother. The Council of Three kept them systematically in the dark about matters which it concerned them to know, negotiated over their heads, transmitted to Bucharest injunctions which only they were competent to receive, insisted on their compromising to accept future decrees of the Conference without an inkling as to their nature, and on their admitting the right of an alien institution—the League of Nations—to intervene in favor of minorities against the legally constituted government of the country. M. Bratiano, who in a trenchant speech inveighed against these claims of the Great Powers to take the governance of Europe into their own hands, withdrew from the Conference and laid his resignation in the hands of the King.

One of the most remarkable debaters in this singular parliament, where self-satisfied ignorance and dullness of apprehension were so hard to pierce, was the youthful envoy of the Czechoslovaks, M. Benes. This politician, who before the Conference came to an end was offered the honorable task of forming a new Cabinet, which he wisely declined, displayed a masterly grasp of Continental politics and a rare gift of identifying his country's aspirations with the postulates of a settled peace. A systematic thinker, he made a point of understanding his case at the outset. He would begin his _exposé_ by detaching himself from all national interests and starting from general assumptions recognized by the Olympians, and would lead his hearers by easy stages to the conclusions which he wished them to draw from their own premises. And two of them, who had no great sympathy with his thesis, assured me that they could detect no logical flaw in his argument. Moderation and sincerity were the virtues which he was most eager to exhibit, and they were unquestionably the best trump cards he could play. Not only had he a firm grasp of facts and arguments, but he displayed a sense of measure and open-mindedness which enabled him to implant his views on the minds of his hearers.

Armenia's cause found a forcible and suasive pleader in Boghos Pasha, whose way of marshaling arguments in favor of a contention that was frowned upon by many commanded admiration. The Armenians asked for a vast stretch of territory with outlets on the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, but they were met with the objections that their total population was insignificant; that only in one province were they in a majority, and that their claim to Cilicia clashed with one of the reserved rights of France. The ice, therefore, was somewhat thin in parts, but Boghos Pasha skated over it gracefully. His description of the Armenian massacres was thrilling. Altogether his _exposé_ was a masterpiece, and was appreciated by Mr. Wilson and M. Clemenceau.

The Jugoslav delegates, MM. Vesnitch and Trumbitch, patriotic, tenacious, uncompromising, had an early opportunity of showing the stuff of which they were made. When they were told that the Jugoslav state was not yet recognized and that the kingdom of Serbia must content itself with two delegates, they lodged an indignant protest against both decisions, and refused to appear at the Conference unless they were allowed an adequate number of representatives. Thereupon the Great Powers compromised the matter by according them three, and with stealthy rage they submitted to the refusal of recognition. They were not again heard of until one day they proposed that their dispute with Italy about Fiume and the Dalmatian coast should be solved by submitting it to President Wilson for arbitration. The expedient was original. President Wilson, people remembered, had had an animated talk on the subject with the Italian Premier, Orlando, and it was known that he had set his face against Italy's claim and against the secret treaty that recognized it. Consequently the Serbs were running no risk by challenging Signor Orlando to lay the matter before the American delegate. Whether, all things considered, it was a wise move to make has been questioned. Anyhow, the Italian delegation declined the suggestion on a number of grounds which several delegates considered convincing. The Conference, it urged, had been convoked precisely for the purpose of hearing and settling such disputes as theirs, and the Conference consisted, not of one, but of many delegates, who collectively were better qualified to deal with such problems than any one man. Europeans, too, could more fully appreciate the arguments, and the atmosphere through which the arguments should be contemplated, than the eminent American idealist, who had more than once had to modify his judgment on European matters. Again, to remove the discussion from the international court might well be felt as a slight put upon the men who composed it. For why should their verdict be less worth soliciting than that of the President of the United States? True, Italy's delegates were themselves judges in that tribunal, but the question to be tried was not a matter between two countries, but an issue of much wider import—namely, what frontiers accorded to the embryonic state of Jugoslavia would be most conducive to the world's peace. And nobody, they held, could offer a more complete or trustworthy answer than they and their European colleagues, who were conversant with all the elements of the problem. Besides—but this objection was not expressly formulated—had not Mr. Wilson already decided against Italy? On these and other grounds, then, they decided to leave the matter to the Conference. It was a delicate subject, and few onlookers cared to open their minds on its merits.

Albania was represented by an old friend of mine, the venerable Turkhan Pasha, who had been in diplomacy ever since the Congress of Berlin in the 'seventies of last century, and who looked like a modernized Nestor. I made his acquaintance many years ago, when he was Ambassador of Turkey in St. Petersburg. He was then a favorite everywhere in the Russian capital as a conscientious Ambassador, a charming talker, and a professional peace-maker, who wished well to everybody. The Young Turks having recalled him from St. Petersburg, he soon afterward became Grand Vizier to the Mbret of Albania. Far resonant events removed the Mbret from the throne, Turkhan Pasha from the Vizierate, and Albania from the society of nations, and I next found my friend in Switzerland ill in health, eating the bitter bread of exile, temporarily isolated from the world of politics and waiting for something to turn up. A few years more gave the Allies an unexpectedly complete victory and brought back Turkhan Pasha to the outskirts of diplomacy and politics. He suddenly made his appearance at the Paris Conference as the representative of Albania and the friend of Italy.

Another Albanian friend of mine, Essad Pasha, whose plans for the regeneration of his country differed widely from those of Turkhan, was for a long while detained in Saloniki. By dint of solicitations and protests, he at last obtained permission to repair to Paris and lay his views before the Conference, where he had a curious interview with Mr. Wilson. The President, having received from Albanians in the United States many unsolicited judgments on the character and antecedents of Essad Pasha, had little faith in his fitness to introduce and popularize democratic institutions in Albania. And he unburdened himself of these doubts to friends, who diffused the news. The Pasha asked for an audience, and by dint of patience and perseverance his prayer was heard. Five minutes before the appointed hour he was at the President's house, accompanied by his interpreter, a young Albanian named Stavro, who converses freely in French, Greek, and Turkish, besides his native language. But while in the antechamber Essad, remembering that the American President speaks nothing but pure English, suggested that Stavro should drive over to the Hôtel Crillon for an interpreter to translate from French. Thereupon one of the secretaries stopped him, saying: "Although he cannot speak French, the President understands it, so that a second interpreter will be unnecessary." Essad then addressed Mr. Wilson in Albanian, Stavro translated his words into French, and the President listened in silence. It was the impression of those in the room that, at any rate, Mr. Wilson understood and appreciated the gist of the Pasha's sharp criticism of Italy's behavior. But, to be on the safe side, the President requested his visitor to set down on paper at his leisure everything he had said and to send it to him.

PRESIDENT WILSON

President Wilson, before assuming the redoubtable rôle of world arbiter, was hardly more than a name in Europe, and it was not a synonym for statecraft. His ethical objections to the rule of Huerta in Mexico, his attempt to engraft democratic principles there, and the anarchy that came of it were matters of history. But the President of the nation to whose unbounded generosity and altruism the world owes a debt of gratitude that can only be acknowledged, not repaid, deservedly enjoyed a superlative measure of respect from his foreign colleagues, and the author of the project which was to link all nations together by ties of moral kinship was literally idolized by the masses. Never has it fallen to my lot to see any mortal so enthusiastically, so spontaneously welcomed by the dejected peoples of the universe. His most casual utterances were caught up as oracles. He occupied a height so far aloft that the vicissitudes of everyday life and the contingencies of politics seemingly could not touch him. He was given credit for a rare degree of selflessness in his conceptions and actions and for a balance of judgment which no storms of passion could upset. So far as one could judge by innumerable symptoms, President Wilson was confronted with an opportunity for good incomparably vaster than had ever before been within the reach of man.

Soon after the opening of the Conference the shadowy outlines of his portrait began to fill in, slowly at first, and before three months had passed the general public beheld it fairly complete, with many of its natural lights and shades. The quality of an active politician is never more clearly brought out than when, raised to an eminent place, he is set an arduous feat in sight of the multitude. Mr. Wilson's task was manifestly congenial to him, for it was deliberately chosen by himself, and it comprised the most tremendous problems ever tackled by man born of woman. The means by which he set to work to solve them were startlingly simple: the regeneration of the human race was to be compassed by means of magisterial edicts secretly drafted and sternly imposed on the interested peoples, together with a new and not wholly appropriate nomenclature.

In his own country, where he has bitter adversaries as well as devoted friends, Mr. Wilson was regarded by many as a composite being made up of preacher, teacher, and politician. To these diverse elements they refer the fervor and unction, the dogmatic tone, and the practised shrewdness that marked his words and acts. Independent American opinion doubted his qualifications to be a leader. As a politician, they said, he had always followed the crowd. He had swum with the tide of public sentiment in cardinal matters, instead of stemming or canalizing and guiding it. Deficient in courageous initiative, he had contented himself with merely executive functions. No new idea, no fresh policy, was associated with his name. His singular attitude on the Mexican imbroglio had provoked the sharp criticism even of friends and the condemnation of political opponents. His utterances during the first stages of the World War, such as the statement that the American people were too proud to fight and had no concern with the causes and objects of the war,[55] when contrasted with the opposite views which he propounded later on, were ascribed to quick political evolution—but were not taken as symptoms of a settled mind. He seemed a pacifist when his pride revolted at the idea of settling any intelligible question by an appeal to violence, and a semi-militarist when, having in his own opinion created a perfectly safe and bloodless peace guarantee in the shape of the League of Nations, he agreed to safeguard it by a military compact which sapped its foundation. He owed his re-election for a second term partly, it was alleged, to the belief that during the first he had kept his country out of the war despite the endeavors of some of its eminent leaders to bring it in; yet when firmly seated in the saddle, he followed the leaders whom he had theretofore with-stood and obliged the nation to fight.

As chief of the great country, his domestic critics add, which had just turned victory's scale in favor of the Allies, Mr. Wilson saw a superb opportunity to hitch his wagon to a star, and now for the first time he made a determined bid for the leadership of the world. Here the idealist showed himself at his best. But by the way of preparation he asked the nation at the elections to refuse their votes to his political opponents, despite the fact that they were loyally supporting his policy, and to return only men of his own party, and in order to silence their misgivings he declared that to elect Republican Senators would be to repudiate the administration of the President of the United States at a critical conjuncture. This was urged against him as the inexpiable sin. The electors, however, sent his political opponents to the Senate, whereupon the President organized his historic visit to Europe. It might have become a turning-point in the world's history had he transformed his authority and prestige into the driving-power requisite to embody his beneficent scheme. But he wasted the opportunity for lack of moral courage. Thus far American criticism. But the peoples of Europe ignored the estimates of the President made by his fellow-countrymen, who, as such, may be forgiven for failing to appreciate his apostleship, or set the full value on his humanitarian strivings. The war-weary masses judged him not by what he had achieved or attempted in the past, but by what he proposed to do in the future. And measured by this standard, his spiritual statue grew to legendary proportions.

Europe, when the President touched its shores, was as clay ready for the creative potter. Never before were the nations so eager to follow a Moses who would take them to the long-promised land where wars are prohibited and blockades unknown. And to their thinking he was that great leader. In France men bowed down before him with awe and affection. Labor leaders in Paris told me that they shed tears of joy in his presence, and that their comrades would go through fire and water to help him to realize his noble schemes.[56] To the working classes in Italy his name was a heavenly clarion at the sound of which the earth would be renewed. The Germans regarded him and his humane doctrine as their sheet-anchor of safety. The fearless Herr Muehlon said, "If President Wilson were to address the Germans, and pronounce a severe sentence upon them, they would accept it with resignation and without a murmur and set to work at once." In German-Austria his fame was that of a savior, and the mere mention of his name brought balm to the suffering and surcease of sorrow to the afflicted. A touching instance of this which occurred in the Austrian capital, when narrated to the President, moved him to tears. There were some five or six thousand Austrian children in the hospitals at Vienna who, as Christmas was drawing near, were sorely in need of medicaments and much else. The head of the American Red Cross took up their case and persuaded the Americans in France to send two million dollars' worth of medicaments to Vienna. These were duly despatched, and had got as far as Berne, when the French authorities, having got wind of the matter, protested against this premature assistance to infant enemies on grounds which the other Allies had to recognize as technically tenable, and the medicaments were ordered back to France from Berne. Thereupon Doctor Ferries, of the International Red Cross, became wild with indignation and laid the matter before the Swiss government, which undertook to send some medicaments to the children, while the Americans were endeavoring to move the French to allow at least some of the remedies to go through. The children in the hospitals, when told that they must wait, were bright and hopeful. "It will be all right," some of them exclaimed. "Wilson is coming soon, and he will bring us everything."

Thus Mr. Wilson had become a transcendental hero to the European proletarians, who in their homely way adjusted his mental and moral attributes to their own ideal of the latter-day Messiah. His legendary figure, half saint, half revolutionist, emerged from the transparent haze of faith, yearning, and ignorance, as in some ecstatic vision. In spite of his recorded acts and utterances the mythopeic faculty of the peoples had given itself free scope and created a messianic democrat destined to free the lower orders, as they were called, in each state from the shackles of capitalism, legalized thraldom, and crushing taxation, and each nation from sanguinary warfare. Truly, no human being since the dawn of history has ever yet been favored with such a superb opportunity. Mr. Wilson might have made a gallant effort to lift society out of the deep grooves into which it had sunk, and dislodge the secular obstacles to the enfranchisement and transfiguration of the human race. At the lowest it was open to him to become the center of a countless multitude, the heart of their hearts, the incarnation of their noblest thought, on condition that he scorned the prudential motives of politicians, burst through the barriers of the old order, and deployed all his energies and his full will-power in the struggle against sordid interests and dense prejudice. But he was cowed by obstacles which his will lacked the strength to surmount, and instead of receiving his promptings from the everlasting ideals of mankind and the inspiriting audacities of his own highest nature and appealing to the peoples against their rulers, he felt constrained in the very interest of his cause to haggle and barter with the Scribes and the Pharisees, and ended by recording a pitiful answer to the most momentous problems couched in the impoverished phraseology of a political party.

Many of his political friends had advised the President not to visit Europe lest the vast prestige and influence which he wielded from a distance should dwindle unutilized on close contact with the realists' crowd. Even the war-god Mars, when he descended into the ranks of the combatants on the Trojan side, was wounded by a Greek, and, screaming with pain, scurried back to Olympus with paling halo. But Mr. Wilson decided to preside and to direct the fashioning of his project, and to give Europe the benefit of his advice. He explained to Congress that he had expressed the ideals of the country for which its soldiers had consciously fought, had had them accepted "as the substance of their own thoughts and purpose" by the statesmen of the associated governments, and now, he concluded: "I owe it to them to see to it, in so far as in me lies, that no false or mistaken interpretation is put upon them, and no possible effort omitted to realize them. It is now my duty to play my full part in making good what they offered their lives and blood to obtain. I can think of no call to service which could transcend this."[57] No intention could well be more praiseworthy.

Soon after the _George Washington_, flying the presidential flag, had steamed out of the Bay on her way to Europe, the United Press received from its correspondent on board, who was attached to Mr. Wilson's person, a message which invigorated the hopes of the world and evoked warm outpourings of the seared soul of suffering man in gratitude toward the bringer of balm. It began thus: "The President sails for Europe to uphold American ideals, and literally to fight for his Fourteen Points. The President, at the Peace Table, will insist on the freedom of the seas and a general disarmament.... The seas, he holds, ought to be guarded by the whole world."

Since then the world knows what to think of the literal fighting at the Peace Table. The freedom of the seas was never as much as alluded to at the Peace Table, for the announcement of Mr. Wilson's militant championship brought him a wireless message from London to the effect that that proposal, at all events, must be struck out of his program if he wished to do business with Britain. And without a fight or a remonstrance the President struck it out. The Fourteen Points were not discussed at the Conference.[58] One may deplore, but one cannot misunderstand, what happened. Mr. Wilson, too, had his own fixed aim to attain: intent on associating his name with a grandiose humanitarian monument, he was resolved not to return to his country without some sort of a covenant of the new international life. He could not afford to go home empty-handed. Therein lay his weakness and the source of his failure. For whenever his attitude toward the Great Powers was taken to mean, "Unless you give me my Covenant, you cannot have your Treaty," the retort was ready: "Without our Treaty there will be no Covenant."

Like Dejoces, the first king of the Medes, who, having built his palace at Ecbatana, surrounded it with seven walls and permanently withdrew his person from the gaze of his subjects, Mr. Wilson in Paris admitted to his presence only the authorized spokesmen of states and causes, and not all of these. He declined to receive persons who thought they had a claim to see him, and he received others who were believed to have none. During his sojourn in Paris he took many important Russian affairs in hand after having publicly stated that no peace could be stable so long as Russia was torn by internal strife. And as familiarity with Russian conditions was not one of his accomplishments, he presumably needed advice and help from those acquainted with them. Now a large number of Russians, representing all political parties and four governments, were in Paris waiting to be consulted. But between January and May not one of them was ever asked for information or counsel. Nay, more, those who respectfully solicited an audience were told to wait. In the meanwhile men unacquainted with the country and people were sent by Mr. Wilson to report on the situation, and to begin by obtaining the terms of an acceptable treaty from the Bolshevik government.

The first plenipotentiary of one of the principal lesser states was for months refused an audience, to the delight of his political adversaries, who made the most of the circumstance at home. An eminent diplomatist who possessed considerable claims to be vouchsafed an interview was put off from week to week, until at last, by dint of perseverance, as it seemed to him, the President consented to see him. The diplomatist, pleased at his success, informed a friend that the following Wednesday would be the memorable day. "But are you not aware," asked the friend, "that on that day the President will be on the high seas on his way back to the United States?" He was not aware of it. But when he learned that the audience had been deliberately fixed for a day when Mr. Wilson would no longer be in France he felt aggrieved.

In Italy the President's progress was a veritable triumph. Emperors and kings had roused no such enthusiasm. One might fancy him a deity unexpectedly discovered under the outward appearance of a mortal and now being honored as the god that he was by ecstatic worshipers. Everything he did was well done, everything he said was nobly conceived and worthy of being treasured up. In these dispositions a few brief months wrought a vast difference.

In this respect an instructive comparison might be made between Tsar Alexander I at the Vienna Congress and the President of the United States at the Conference of Paris. The Russian monarch arrived in the Austrian capital with the halo of a Moses focusing the hopes of all the peoples of Europe. His reputation for probity, public spirit, and lofty aspirations had won for him the good-will and the anticipatory blessings of war-weary nations. He, too, was a mystic, believed firmly in occult influences, so firmly indeed that he accepted the fitful guidance of an ecstatic lady whose intuition was supposed to transcend the sagacity of professional statesmen. And yet the Holy Alliance was the supreme outcome of his endeavors, as the League of Nations was that of Mr. Wilson's. In lieu of universal peace all eastern Europe was still warring and revolting in September and the general outlook was disquieting. The disheartening effect of the contrast between the promise and the achievement of the American statesman was felt throughout the world. But Mr. Wilson has the solace to know that people hardly ever reach their goal—though they sometimes advance fairly near to it. They either die on the way or else it changes or they do.

It was doubtless a noble ambition that moved the Prime Ministers of the Great Powers and the chief of the North American Republic to give their own service to the Conference as heads of their respective missions. For they considered themselves to be the best equipped for the purpose, and they were certainly free from such prejudices as professional traditions and a confusing knowledge of details might be supposed to engender. But in almost every respect it was a grievous mistake and the source of others still more grievous. True, in his own particular sphere each of them had achieved what is nowadays termed greatness. As a war leader Mr. Lloyd George had been hastily classed with Marlborough and Chatham, M. Clemenceau compared to Danton, and Mr. Wilson set apart in a category to himself. But without questioning these journalistic certificates of fame one must admit that all three plenipotentiaries were essentially politicians, old parliamentary hands, and therefore expedient-mongers whose highest qualifications for their own profession were drawbacks which unfitted them for their self-assumed mission. Of the concrete world which they set about reforming their knowledge was amazingly vague. "Frogs in the pond," says the Japanese proverb, "know naught of the ocean." There was, of course, nothing blameworthy in their unacquaintanceship with the issues, but only in the offhandedness with which they belittled its consequences. Had they been conversant with the subject or gifted with deeper insight, many of the things which seemed particularly clear to them would have struck them as sheer inexplicable, and among these perhaps their own leadership of the world-parliament.

What they lacked, however, might in some perceptible degree have been supplied by enlisting as their helpers men more happily endowed than themselves. But they deliberately chose mediocrities. It is a mark of genial spirits that they are well served, but the plenipotentiaries of the Conference were not characterized by it. Away in the background some of them had familiars or casual prompters to whose counsels they were wont to listen, but many of the adjoints who moved in the limelight of the world-stage were gritless and pithless.

As the heads of the principal governments implicitly claimed to be the authorized spokesmen of the human race and endowed with unlimited powers, it is worth noting that this claim was boldly challenged by the peoples' organs in the press. Nearly all the journals read by the masses objected from the first to the dictatorship of the group of Premiers, Mr. Wilson being excepted. "The modern parasite," wrote a respectable democratic newspaper,[59] "is the politician. Of all the privileged beings who have ever governed us he is the worst. In that, however, there is nothing surprising ... he is not only amoral, but incompetent by definition. And it is this empty-headed individual who is intrusted with the task of settling problems with the very rudiments of which he is unacquainted." Another French journal[60] wrote: "In truth it is a misfortune that the leaders of the Conference are Cabinet chiefs, for each of them is obsessed by the carking cares of his domestic policy. Besides, the Paris Conference takes on the likeness of a lyrical drama in which there are only tenors. Now would even the most beautiful work in the world survive this excess of beauties?"

The truth as revealed by subsequent facts would seem to be that each of the plenipotentiaries recognizing parliamentary success as the source of his power was obsessed by his own political problems and stimulated by his own immediate ends. As these ends, however incompatible with each other, were believed by each one to tend toward the general object, he worked zealously for their attainment. The consequences are notorious. M. Clemenceau made France the hub of the universe. Mr. Lloyd George harbored schemes which naturally identified the welfare of mankind with the hegemony of the English-speaking races. Signor Orlando was inspired by the "sacred egotism" which had actuated all Italian Cabinets since Italy entered the war, and President Wilson was burning to associate his name and also that of his country with the vastest and noblest enterprise inscribed in the annals of history. And each one moved over his own favorite route toward his own goal. It was an apt illustration of the Russian fable of the swan, the crab, and the pike being harnessed together in order to remove a load. The swan flew upward, the crab crawled backward, the pike made with all haste for the water, and the load remained where it was.

A lesser but also a serious disadvantage of the delegation of government chiefs made itself felt in the procedure. Embarrassing delays were occasioned by the unavoidable absences of the principal delegates whom pressure of domestic politics called to their respective capitals, as well as by their tactics, and their colleagues profited by their absence for the sake of the good cause. Thus all Paris, as we saw, was aware that the European chiefs, whose faith in Wilsonian orthodoxy was still feeble at that time, were prepared to take advantage of the President's sojourn in Washington to speed up business in their own sense and to confront him on his return with accomplished facts. But when, on his return, he beheld their handiwork he scrapped it, and a considerable loss of time ensued for which the world has since had to pay very heavily.

Again, when Premier Orlando was in Rome after Mr. Wilson's appeal to the Italian people, a series of measures was passed by the delegates in Paris affecting Italy, diminishing her importance at the Conference, and modifying the accepted interpretation of the Treaty of London. Some of these decisions had to be canceled when the Italians returned. These stratagems had an undesirable effect on the Italians.

Not the least of the Premiers' disabilities lay in the circumstance that they were the merest novices in international affairs. Geography, ethnography, psychology, and political history were sealed books to them. Like the rector of Louvain University who told Oliver Goldsmith that, as he had become the head of that institution without knowing Greek, he failed to see why it should be taught there, the chiefs of state, having attained the highest position in their respective countries without more than an inkling of international affairs, were unable to realize the importance of mastering them or the impossibility of repairing the omission as they went along.

They displayed their contempt for professional diplomacy and this feeling was shared by many, but they extended that sentiment to certain diplomatic postulates which can in no case be dispensed with, because they are common to all professions. One of them is knowledge of the terms of the problems to be solved. No conjuncture could have been less favorable for an experiment based on this theory. The general situation made a demand on the delegates for special knowledge and experience, whereas the Premiers and the President, although specialists in nothing, had to act as specialists in everything. Traditional diplomacy would have shown some respect for the law of causality. It would have sent to the Conference diplomatists more or less acquainted with the issues to be mooted and also with the mentality of the other negotiators, and it would have assigned to them a number of experts as advisers. It would have formed a plan similar to that proposed by the French authorities and rejected by the Anglo-Saxons. In this way at least the technical part of the task would have been tackled on right lines, the war would have been liquidated and normal relations quickly re-established among the belligerent states. It may be objected that this would have been a meager contribution to the new politico-social fabric. Undoubtedly it would, but, however meager, it would have been a positive gain. Possibly the first stone of a new world might have been laid once the ruins of the old were cleared away. But even this modest feat could not be achieved by amateurs working in desultory fashion and handicapped by their political parties at home. The resultant of their apparent co-operation was a sum in subtraction because dispersal or effort was unavoidably substituted for concentration.

Whether one contemplates them in the light of their public acts or through the prism of gossip, the figures cut by the delegates of the Great Powers were pathetic. Giants in the parliamentary sphere, they shrank to the dimensions of dwarfs in the international. In matters of geography, ethnography, history, and international politics they were helplessly at sea, and the stories told of certain of their efforts to keep their heads above water while maintaining a simulacrum of dignity would have been amusing were the issues less momentous. "Is it after Upper or Lower Silesia that those greedy Poles are hankering?" one Premier is credibly reported to have asked some months after the Polish delegation had propounded and defended its claims and he had had time to familiarize himself with them. "Please point out to me Dalmatia on the map," was another characteristic request, "and tell me what connection there is between it and Fiume." One of the principal plenipotentiaries addressed a delegate who is an acquaintance of mine approximately as follows: "I cannot understand the spokesmen of the smaller states. To me they seem stark mad. They single out a strip of territory and for no intelligible reason flock round it like birds of prey round a corpse on the field of battle. Take Silesia, for example. The Poles are clamoring for it as if the very existence of their country depended on their annexing it. The Germans are still more crazy about it. But for their eagerness I suppose there is some solid foundation. But how in Heaven's name do the Armenians come to claim it? Just think of it, the Armenians! The world has gone mad. No wonder France has set her foot down and warned them off the ground. But what does France herself want with it? What is the clue to the mystery?" My acquaintance, in reply, pointed out as considerately as he could that Silesia was the province for which Poles and Germans were contending, whereas the Armenians were pleading for Cilicia, which is farther east, and were, therefore, frowned upon by the French, who conceive that they have a civilizing mission there and men enough to accomplish it.

It is characteristic of the epoch, and therefore worthy of the historian's attention, that not only the members of the Conference, but also other leading statesmen of Anglo-Saxon countries, were wont to make a very little knowledge of peoples and countries go quite a far way. Two examples may serve to familiarize the reader with the phenomenon and to moderate his surprise at the defects of the world-dictators in Paris. One English-speaking statesman, dealing with the Italian government[61] and casting around for some effective way of helping the Italian people out of their pitiable economic plight, fancied he hit upon a felicitous expedient, which he unfolded as follows. "I venture," he said, "to promise that if you will largely increase your cultivation of bananas the people of my country will take them all. No matter how great the quantities, our market will absorb them, and that will surely make a considerable addition to your balance on the right side." At first the Italians believed he was joking. But finding that he really meant what he said, they ruthlessly revealed his idea to the nation under the heading, "Italian bananas!"

Here is the other instance. During the war the Polish people was undergoing unprecedented hardships. Many of the poorer classes were literally perishing of hunger. A Polish commission was sent to an English-speaking country to interest the government and people in the condition of the sufferers and obtain relief. The envoys had an interview with a Secretary of State, who inquired to what port they intended to have the foodstuffs conveyed for distribution in the interior of Poland. They answered: "We shall have them taken to Dantzig. There is no other way." The statesman reflected a little and then said: "You may meet with difficulties. If you have them shipped to Dantzig you must of course first obtain Italy's permission. Have you got it?" "No. We had not thought of that. In fact, we don't yet see why Italy need be approached." "Because it is Italy who has command of the Mediterranean, and if you want the transport taken to Dantzig it is the Italian government that you must ask!"[62]

The delegates picked up a good deal of miscellaneous information about the various countries whose future they were regulating, and to their credit it should be said that they put questions to their informants without a trace of false pride. One of the two chief delegates wending homeward from a sitting at which M. Jules Cambon had spoken a good deal about those Polish districts which, although they contained a majority of Germans, yet belonged of right to Poland, asked the French delegate why he had made so many allusions to Frederick the Great. "What had Frederick to do with Poland?" he inquired. The answer was that the present German majority of the inhabitants was made up of colonists who had immigrated into the districts since the time of Frederick the Great and the partition of Poland. "Yes, I see," exclaimed the statesman, "but what had Frederick the Great to do with the partition of Poland?" ... In the domain of ethnography there were also many pitfalls and accidents. During an official _exposé_ of the Oriental situation before the Supreme Council, one of the Great Four, listening to a narrative of Turkish misdeeds, heard that the Kurds had tortured and killed a number of defenseless women, children, and old men. He at once interrupted the speaker with the query: "You now call them Kurds. A few minutes ago you said they were Turks. I take it that the Kurds and the Turks are the same people?" Loath to embarrass one of the world's arbiters, the delegate respectfully replied, "Yes, sir, they are about the same, but the worse of the two are the Kurds."[63]

Great Britain's first delegate, with engaging candor sought to disarm criticism by frankly confessing in the House of Commons that he had never before heard of Teschen, about which such an extraordinary fuss was then being made, and by asking: "How many members of the House have ever heard of Teschen? Yet," he added significantly, "Teschen very nearly produced an angry conflict between two allied states."[64]

The circumstance that an eminent parliamentarian had never heard of problems that agitate continental peoples is excusable. Less so was his resolve, despite such a capital disqualification, to undertake the task of solving those problems single-handed, although conscious that the fate of whole peoples depended on his succeeding. It is no adequate justification to say that he could always fall back upon special commissions, of which there was no lack at the Conference. Unless he possessed a safe criterion by which to assess the value of the commissions' conclusions, he must needs himself decide the matter arbitrarily. And the delegates, having no such criterion, pronounced very arbitrary judgments on momentous issues. One instance of this turned upon Poland's claims to certain territories incorporated in Germany, which were referred to a special commission under the presidency of M. Cambon. Commissioners were sent to the country to study the matter on the spot, where they had received every facility for acquainting themselves with it. After some weeks the commission reported in favor of the Polish claim with unanimity. But Mr. Lloyd George rejected their conclusions and insisted on having the report sent back to them for reconsideration. Again the commissioners went over the familiar ground, but felt obliged to repeat their verdict anew. Once more, however, the British Premier demurred, and such was his tenacity that, despite Mr. Wilson's opposition, the final decision of the Conference reversed that of the commission and non-suited the Poles. By what line of argument, people naturally asked, did the first British delegate come to that conclusion? That he knew more about the matter than the special Inter-Allied commission is hardly to be supposed. Indeed, nobody assumed that he was any better informed on that subject than about Teschen. The explanation put in circulation by interested persons was that, like Socrates, he had his own familiar demon to prompt him, who, like all such spirits, chose to flourish, like the violet, in the shade. That this source of light was accessible to the Prime Minister may, his apologists hold, one day prove a boon to the peoples whose fate was thus being spun in darkness and seemingly at haphazard. Possibly. But in the meanwhile it was construed as an affront to their intelligence and a violation of the promise made to them of "open covenants openly arrived at." The press asked why the information requisite for the work had not been acquired in advance as these semi-mystical ways of obtaining it commended themselves to nobody. Wholly mystical were the methods attributed to one or other of the men who were preparing the advent of the new era. For superstition of various kinds was supposed to be as well represented at the Paris Conference as at the Congress of Vienna. Characteristic of the epoch was the gravity with which individuals otherwise well balanced exercised their ingenuity in finding out the true relation of the world's peace to certain lucky numbers. For several events connected with the Conference the thirteenth day of the month was deliberately, and some occultists added felicitously, chosen. It was also noticed that an effort was made by all the delegates to have the Allies' reply to the German counter-proposals presented on the day of destiny, Friday, June 13th. When it miscarried a flutter was caused in the dovecotes of the illuminated. The failure was construed as an inauspicious omen and it caused the spirits of many to droop. The principal clairvoyante of Paris, Madame N——, who plumes herself on being the intermediary between the Fates that rule and some of their earthly executors, was consulted on the subject, one knows not with what result.[65] It was given out, however, as the solemn utterance of the oracle in vogue that Mr. Wilson's enterprise was weighted with original sin; he had made one false step before his arrival in Europe, and that had put everything out of gear. By enacting fourteen commandments he had countered the magic charm of his lucky thirteen. One of the fourteen, it was soothsaid, must therefore be omitted—it might be, say, that of open covenants openly arrived at, or the freedom of the seas—in a word, any one so long as the mystic number thirteen remained intact. But should that be impossible, seeing that the Fourteen Points had already become house-hold words to all nations and peoples, then it behooved the President to number the last of his saving points 13a.[66]

This odd mixture of the real and the fanciful—a symptom, as the initiated believed, of a mood of fine spiritual exaltation—met with little sympathy among the impatient masses whose struggle for bare life was growing ever fiercer. Stagnation held the business world, prices were rising to prohibitive heights, partly because of the dawdling of the world's conclave; hunger was stalking about the ruined villages of the northern departments of France, destructive wars were being waged in eastern Europe, and thousands of Christians were dying of hunger in Bessarabia.[67] Epigrammatic strictures and winged words barbed with stinging satire indicated the feelings of the many. And the fact remains on record that streaks of the mysticism that buoyed up Alexander I at the Congress of Vienna, and is supposed to have stimulated Nicholas II during the first world-parliament at The Hague, were noticeable from time to time in the environment of the Paris Conference. The disclosure of these elements of superstition was distinctly harmful and might have been hindered easily by the system of secrecy and censorship which effectively concealed matters much less mischievous.

The position of the plenipotentiaries was unenviable at best and they well deserve the benefit of extenuating circumstances. For not even a genius can efficiently tackle problems with the elements of which he lacks acquaintanceship, and the mass of facts which they had to deal with was sheer unmanageable. It was distressing to watch them during those eventful months groping and floundering through a labyrinth of obstacles with no Ariadne clue to guide their tortuous course, and discovering that their task was more intricate than they had imagined. The ironic domination of temper and circumstance over the fitful exertions of men struggling with the partially realized difficulties of a false position led to many incongruities upon which it would be ungracious to dwell. One of them, however, which illustrates the situation, seems almost incredible. It is said to have occurred in January. According to the current narrative, soon after the arrival of President Wilson in Paris, he received from a French publicist named M.B. a long and interesting memorandum about the island of Corsica, recounting the history, needs, and aspirations of the population as well as the various attempts they had made to regain their independence, and requesting him to employ his good offices at the Conference to obtain for them complete autonomy. To this demand M.B. is said to have received a reply[68] to the effect that the President "is persuaded that this question will form the subject of a thorough examination by the competent authorities of the Conference" Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon, and as much an integral part of France as the Isle of Man is of England, seeking to slacken the ties that link it to the Republic and receiving a promise that the matter would be carefully considered by the delegates sounds more like a mystification than a sober statement of fact. The story was sent to the newspapers for publication, but the censor very wisely struck it out.

These and kindred occurrences enable one better to appreciate the motives which prompted the delegates to shroud their conversations and tentative decisions in a decorous veil of secrecy.

It is but fair to say that the enterprise to which they set their hands was the vastest that ever tempted lofty ambitions since the tower-builders of Babel strove to bring heaven within reach of the earth. It transcended the capacity of the contemporary world's greatest men.[69] It was a labor for a wonder-worker in the pristine days of heroes. But although to solve even the main problems without residue was beyond the reach of the most genial representatives of latter-day statecraft, it needed only clearness of conception, steadiness of purpose, and the proper adjustment of means to ends, to begin the work on the right lines and give it an impulse that might perhaps carry it to completion in the fullness of time.

But even these postulates were wanting. The eminent parliamentarians failed to rise to the gentle height of average statecraft. They appeared in their new and august character of world-reformers with all the roots still clinging to them of the rank electoral soil from which they sprang. Their words alone were redolent of idealism, their deeds were too often marred by pettifogging compromises or childish blunders—constructive phrases and destructive acts. Not only had they no settled method of working, they lacked even a common proximate aim. For although they all employed the same phraseology when describing the objects for which their countries had fought and they themselves were ostensibly laboring, no two delegates attached the same ideas to the words they used. Yet, instead of candidly avowing this root-defect and remedying it, they were content to stretch the euphemistic terms until these covered conflicting conceptions and gratified the ears of every hearer. Thus, "open covenants openly arrived at" came to mean arbitrary ukases issued by a secret conclave, and "the self-determination of peoples" connoted implicit obedience to dictatorial decrees. The new result was a bewildering phantasmagoria.

And yet it was professedly for the purpose of obviating such misunderstandings that Mr. Wilson had crossed the Atlantic. Having expressed in plain terms the ideals for which American soldiers had fought, and which became the substance of the thoughts and purposes of the associated statesmen, "I owe it to them," he had said, "to see to it, in so far as in me lies, that no false or mistaken interpretation is put upon them and no possible effort omitted to realize them." And that was the result achieved.

No such juggling with words as went on at the Conference had been witnessed since the days of medieval casuistry. New meanings were infused into old terms, rendering the help of "exegesis" indispensable. Expressions like "territorial equilibrium" and "strategic frontiers" were stringently banished, and it is affirmed that President Wilson would wince and his expression change at the bare mention of these obnoxious symbols of the effete ordering which it was part of his mission to do away with forever. And yet the things signified by those words were preserved withal under other names. Nor could it well be otherwise. One can hardly conceive a durable state system in Europe under the new any more than the old dispensation without something that corresponds to equilibrium. An architect who should boastingly discard the law of gravitation in favor of a different theory would stand little chance of being intrusted with the construction of a palace of peace. Similarly, a statesman who, while proclaiming that the era of wars is not yet over, would deprive of strategic frontiers the pivotal states of Europe which are most exposed to sudden attack would deserve to find few disciples and fewer clients. Yet that was what Mr. Wilson aimed at and what some of his friends affirm he has achieved. His foreign colleagues re-echoed his dogmas after having emasculated them. It was instructive and unedifying to watch how each of the delegates, when his own country's turn came to be dealt with on the new lines, reversed his tactics and, sacrificing sound to substance, insisted on safeguards, relied on historic rights, invoked economic requirements, and appealed to common sense, but all the while loyally abjured "territorial equilibrium" and "strategic guarantees." Hence the fierce struggles which MM. Orlando, Dmowski, Bratiano, Venizelos, and Makino had to carry on with the chief of that state which is the least interested in European affairs in order to obtain all or part of the territories which they considered indispensable to the security and well-being of their respective countries.

At the outset Mr. Wilson stood for an ideal Europe of a wholly new and undefined type, which would have done away with the need for strategic frontiers. Its contours were vague, for he had no clear mental picture of the concrete Europe out of which it was to be fashioned. He spoke, indeed, and would fain have acted, as though the old Continent were like a thinly inhabited territory of North America fifty years ago, unencumbered by awkward survivals of the past and capable of receiving any impress. He seemingly took no account of its history, its peoples, or their interests and strivings. History shared the fate of Kolchak's government and the Ukraine; it was not recognized by the delegates. What he brought to Europe from America was an abstract idea, old and European, and at first his foreign colleagues treated it as such. Some of them had actually sneered at it, others had damned it with faint praise, and now all of them honestly strove to save their own countries' vital interests from its disruptive action while helping to apply it to their neighbors. Thus Britain, who at that time had no territorial claims to put forward, had her sea-doctrine to uphold, and she upheld it resolutely. Before he reached Europe the President was notified in plain terms that his theory of the freedom of the seas would neither be entertained nor discussed. Accordingly, he abandoned it without protest. It was then explained away as a journalistic misconception. That was the first toll paid by the American reformer in Europe, and it spelled failure to his entire scheme, which was one and indivisible. It fell to my lot to record the payment of the tribute and the abandonment of that first of the fourteen commandments. The mystic thirteen remained. But soon afterward another went by the board. Then there were twelve. And gradually the number dwindled.

This recognition of hard realities was a bitter disappointment to all the friends of the spiritual and social renovation of the world. It was a spectacle for cynics. It rendered a frank return to the ancient system unavoidable and brought grist to the mill of the equilibrists. And yet the conclusion was shriked. But even the tough realities might have been made to yield a tolerable peace if they had been faced squarely. If the new conception could not be realized at once, the old one should have been taken back into favor provisionally until broader foundations could be laid, but it must be one thing or the other. From the political angle of vision at which the European delegates insisted on placing themselves, the Old World way of tackling the various problems was alone admissible. Their program was coherent and their reasoning strictly logical. The former included strategic frontiers and territorial equilibrium. Doubtless this angle of vision was narrow, the survey it allowed was inadequate, and the results attainable ran the risk of being ultimately thrust aside by the indignant peoples. For the world problem was not wholly nor even mainly political. Still, the method was intelligible and the ensuing combinations would have hung coherently together. They would have satisfied all those—and they were many—who believed that the second decade of the twentieth century differs in no essential respect from the first and that latter-day world problems may be solved by judicious territorial redistribution. But even that conception was not consistently acted on. Deviations were permitted here and insisted upon there, only they were spoken of unctuously as sacrifices incumbent on the lesser states to the Fourteen Points. For the delegates set great store by their reputation for logic and coherency. Whatever other charges against the Conference might be tolerated, that of inconsistency was bitterly resented, especially by Mr. Wilson. For a long while he contended that he was as true to his Fourteen Points as is the needle to the pole. It was not until after his return to Washington, in the summer, that he admitted the perturbations caused by magnetic currents—sympathy for France he termed them.

The effort of imagination required to discern consistency in such of the Council's decisions as became known from time to time was so far beyond the capacity of average outsiders that the ugly phrase "to make the world safe for hypocrisy" was early coined, uttered, and propagated.

FOOTNOTES:

[46] Cf. Le Temps, May 23, 1919. It is an adaptation of the inscription over the Pantheon, "Aux grands hommes, la Patrie reconnaissante."

[47] The Daily Mail, April 25, 1919 (Paris edition).

[48] In Germany.

[49] General Pétain is said to have rejected the suggestion.

[50] Cf. Bulletin des Droits de l'Homme, 19ème année, p. 461.

[51] It was either Friday, the 4th, or Saturday, the 5th of July.

[52] At the end of August, 1919.

[53] One delegate from a poor and friendless country had to take the maps of a rival state and retouch them in accordance with the ethnographical data, which he considered alone correct.

[54] L'Homme Enchatné, December 14, 1914.

[55] "With its causes and objects we have no concern." Speech delivered by Mr. Wilson before the League to Enforce Peace in Washington on May 24, 1916.

[56] The testimony of a leading French press organ is worth reproducing here: "La situation du Président Wilson dans nos démocraties est magnifique, souveraine et extrêmement périlleuse. On ne connaît pas d'hommes, dans les temps contemporains, ayant eu plus d'autorité et de puissance; la popularité lui a donné ce que le droit divin ne conférait pas toujours aux monarques héréditaires. En revanche et par le fait du choc en retour, sa responsabilité est supérieure à celle du prince le plus absolu. S'il réussit à organiser le monde d'après ses rêves, sa gloire dominera les plus hautes gloires; mais il faut dire hardiment que s'il échouait il plongerait le monde dans un chaos dont le bolchevisme russe ne nous offre qu'une faible image; et sa responsabilité devant la conscience humaine dépasserait ce que peut supporter un simple mortel. Redoutable alternative!"—Cf. Le Figaro, February 10, 1919.

[57] From Mr. Wilson's address to Congress read on December 2, 1918. Cf. The Times, December 4, 1918.

[58] Cf. Secretary Lansing's evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1919.

[59] La Démocratie Nouvelle, May 27, 1919

[60] Le Figaro, March 26, 1919.

[61] Both of them occurred before the armistice, but during the war.

[62] For the accuracy of this and the preceding story I vouch absolutely. I have the names of persons, places, and authorities, which are superfluous here.

[63] The Kurds are members of the great Indo-European family to which the Greeks, Italians, Celts, Teutons, Slavs, Hindus, Persians, and Afghans belong, whereas the Turks are a branch of a wholly different stock, the Ural-Altai group, of which the Mongols, Turks, Tartars, Finns, and Magyars are members.

[64] April 16, 1919.

[65] Madame N—— showed a friend of mine an autograph letter which she claims to have received from one of her clients, "a world's famous man." I was several times invited to inspect it at the clairvoyante's abode, or at my own, if I preferred.

[66] Articles on the subject appeared in the French press. To the best of my recollection there was one in _Bonsoir_.

[67] The American Red Cross buried sixteen hundred of them in August, 1919. _The Chicago Tribune_ (Paris edition), August 30, 1919.

[68] The reply, of which I possess what was given to me as a copy, is dated Paris, January 9, 1919, and is in French.

[69] Imagine, for instance, the condition of mind into which the following day's work must have thrown the American statesman, beset as he was with political worries of his own. The extract quoted is taken from The Daily Mail of April 18, 1919 (Paris edition).

President Wilson had a busy day yesterday, as the following list of engagements shows:
11 A.M. Dr. Wellington Koo, to present the Chinese Delegation to the Peace Conference.
11.10 A.M. Marquis de Vogué had a delegation of seven others, representing the Congrès Français, to present their view as to the disposition of the left bank of the Rhine.
11.30 A.M. Assyrian and Chaldean Delegation, with a message from the Assyrian-Chaldean nation.
11.45 A.M. Dalmatian Delegation, to present to the President the result of the plebiscite of that part of Dalmatia occupied by Italians.
Noon. M. Bucquet, Chargé d'Affaires of San Marino, to convey the action of the Grand Council of San Marino, conferring on the President Honorary Citizenship in the Republic of San Marino.
12.10 P.M. M. Colonder, Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs.
12.20 P.M. Miss Rose Schneiderman and Miss Mary Anderson, delegates of the National Women's Trade Union League of the United States.
12.30 P.M. The Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the Orthodox Eastern Church.
12.45 P.M. Essad Pasha, delegate of Albania, to present the claims of Albania.
1 P.M. M. M.L. Coromilas, Greek Minister at Rome, to pay his respects.
Luncheon. Mr. Newton D. Baker, Secretary for War. 4 P.M. Mr. Herbert Hoover.
4.15 P.M. M. Bratiano, of the Rumanian Delegation.
4.30 P.M. Dr. Affonso Costa, former Portuguese Minister, Portuguese Delegate to the Peace Conference.
4.45 P.M. Boghos Nubar Pasha, president of the Armenian National Delegation, accompanied by M.A. Aharoman and Professor A. Der Hagopian, of Robert College.
5.15 P.M. M. Pasitch, of the Serbian Delegation.
5.30 P.M. Mr. Frank Walsh, of the Irish-American Delegation.


IV

CENSORSHIP AND SECRECY

Never was political veracity in Europe at a lower ebb than during the Peace Conference. The blinding dust of half-truths cunningly mixed with falsehood and deliberately scattered with a lavish hand, obscured the vision of the people, who were expected to adopt or acquiesce in the judgments of their rulers on the various questions that arose. Four and a half years of continuous and deliberate lying for victory had disembodied the spirit of veracity and good faith throughout the world of politics. Facts were treated as plastic and capable of being shaped after this fashion or that, according to the aim of the speaker or writer. Promises were made, not because the things promised were seen to be necessary or desirable, but merely in order to dispose the public favorably toward a policy or an expedient, or to create and maintain a certain frame of mind toward the enemies or the Allies. At elections and in parliamentary discourses, undertakings were given, some of which were known to be impossible of fulfilment. Thus the ministers in some of the Allied countries bound themselves to compel the Germans not only to pay full compensation for damage wantonly done, but also to defray the entire cost of the war.

The notion that the enemy would thus make good all losses was manifestly preposterous. In a century the debt could not be wiped out, even though the Teutonic people could be got to work steadily and selflessly for the purpose. For their productivity would be unavailing if their victorious adversaries were indisposed to admit the products to their markets. And not only were the governments unwilling, but some of the peoples announced their determination to boycott German wares on their own initiative. None the less the nations were for months buoyed up with the baleful delusion that all their war expenses would be refunded by the enemy.[70]

It was not the governments only, however, who, after having for over four years colored and refracted the truth, now continued to twist and invent "facts." The newspapers, with some honorable exceptions, buttressed them up and even outstripped them. Plausible unveracity thus became a patriotic accomplishment and a recognized element of politics. Parties and states employed it freely. Fiction received the hall-mark of truth and fancies were current as facts. Public men who had solemnly hazarded statements belied by subsequent events denied having ever uttered them. Never before was the baleful theory that error is helpful so systematically applied as during the war and the armistice. If the falsehoods circulated and the true facts suppressed were to be collected and published in a volume, one would realize the depth to which the standard of intellectual and moral integrity was lowered.[71]

The censorship was retained by the Great Powers during the Conference as a sort of soft cushion on which the self-constituted dispensers of Fate comfortably reposed. In Paris, where it was particularly severe and unreasoning, it protected the secret conclave from the harsh strictures of the outside world, concealing from the public, not only the incongruities of the Conference, but also many of the warnings of contemporary history. In the opinion of unbiased Frenchmen no such rigorous, systematic, and short-sighted repression of press liberty had been known since the Third Empire as was kept up under the rule of the great tribune whose public career had been one continuous campaign against every form of coercion. This twofold policy of secrecy on the part of the delegates and censorship on the part of the authorities proved incongruous as well as dangerous, for, upheld by the eminent statesmen who had laid down as part of the new gospel the principle of "open covenants openly arrived at," it furnished the world with a fairly correct standard by which to interpret the entire phraseology of the latter-day reformers. Events showed that only by applying that criterion could the worth of their statements of fact and their promises of amelioration be gaged. And it soon became clear that most of their utterances like that about open covenants were to be construed according to the maxim of lucus a non lucendo.

It was characteristic of the system that two American citizens were employed to read the cablegrams arriving from the United States to French newspapers. The object was the suppression of such messages as tended to throw doubt on the useful belief that the people of the great American Republic were solid behind their President, ready to approve his decisions and acts, and that his cherished Covenant, sure of ratification, would serve as a safe guarantee to all the states which the application of his various principles might leave strategically exposed. In this way many interesting items of intelligence from the United States were kept out of the newspapers, while others were mutilated and almost all were delayed. Protests were unavailing. Nor was it until several months were gone by that the French public became aware of the existence of a strong current of American opinion which favored a critical attitude toward Mr. Wilson's policy and justified misgivings as to the finality of his decisions. It was a sorry expedient and an unsuccessful one.

On another occasion strenuous efforts are reported to have been made through the intermediary of President Wilson to delay the publication in the United States of a cablegram to a journal there until the Prime Minister of Britain should deliver a speech in the House of Commons. An accident balked these exertions and the message appeared.

Publicity was none the less strongly advocated by the plenipotentiaries in their speeches and writings. These were as sign-posts pointing to roads along which they themselves were incapable of moving. By their own accounts they were inveterate enemies of secrecy and censorship. The President of the United States had publicly said that he "could not conceive of anything more hurtful than the creation of a system of censorship that would deprive the people of a free republic such as ours of their undeniable right to criticize public officials." M. Clemenceau, who suffered more than most publicists from systematic repression, had changed the name of his newspaper from the L'Homme Libre to L'Homme Enchaîné, and had passed a severe judgment on "those friends of liberty" (the government) who tempered freedom with preventive repression measured out according to the mood uppermost at the moment.[72] But as soon as he himself became head of the government he changed his tactics and called his journal L'Homme Libre again. In the Chamber he announced that "publicity for the 'debates' of the Conference was generally favored," but in practice he rendered the system of gagging the press a byword in Europe. Drawing his own line of demarcation between the permissible and the illicit, he informed the Chamber that so long as the Conference was engaged on its arduous work "it must not be said that the head of one government had put forward a proposal which was opposed by the head of another government."[73] As though the disagreements, the bickerings, and the serious quarrels of the heads of the governments could long be concealed from the peoples whose spokesmen they were!

That bargainings went on at the Conference which a plain-dealing world ought to be apprised of is the conclusion which every unbiased outsider will draw from the singular expedients resorted to for the purpose of concealing them. Before the Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, State-Secretary Lansing confessed that when, after the treaty had been signed, the French Senate called for the minutes of the proceedings on the Commission of the League of Nations, President Wilson telegraphed from Washington to the Peace Commission requesting it to withhold them. He further admitted that the only written report of the discussions in existence was left in Paris, outside the jurisdiction of the United States Senate. When questioned as to whether, in view of this system of concealment, the President's promise of "open covenants openly arrived at" could be said to have been honestly redeemed, Mr. Lansing answered, "I consider that was carried out."[74] It seems highly probable that in the same and only in the same sense will the Treaty and the Covenant be carried out in the spirit or the letter.

During the fateful days of the Conference preventive censorship was practised with a degree of rigor equaled only by its senselessness. As late as the month of June, the columns of the newspapers were checkered with blank spaces. "Scarcely a newspaper in Paris appears uncensored at present," one press organ wrote. "Some papers protest, but protests are in vain."[75]

"Practically not a word as to the nature of the Peace terms that France regards as most vital to her existence appears in the French papers this morning," complained a journal at the time when even the Germans were fully informed of what was being enacted. On one occasion Bonsoir was seized for expressing the view that the Treaty embodied an Anglo-Saxon peace;[76] on another for reproducing an interview with Marshal Foch that had already appeared in a widely circulated Paris newspaper.[77] By way of justifying another of these seizures the French censor alleged that an article in the paper was deemed uncomplimentary to Mr. Lloyd George. The editor replied in a letter to the British Premier affirming that there was nothing in the article but what Mr. Lloyd George could and should be proud of. In fact, it only commended him "for having served the interests of his country most admirably and having had precedence given to them over all others." The letter concluded: "We are apprehensive that in the whole business there is but one thing truly uncomplimentary, and that is that the French censorship, for the purpose of strangling the French press, should employ your name, the name of him who abolished censorship many weeks ago."[78]

Even when British journalists were dealing with matters as unlikely to cause trouble as a description of the historic proceedings at Versailles at which the Germans received the Peace Treaty, the censor held back their messages, from five o'clock in the afternoon till three the next morning.[79] Strange though it may seem, it was at first decided that no newspaper-men should be allowed to witness the formal handing of the Treaty to the enemy delegates! For it was deemed advisable in the interests of the world that even that ceremonial should be secret.[80] These singular methods were impressively illustrated and summarized in a cartoon representing Mr. Wilson as "The new wrestling champion," throwing down his adversary, the press, whose garb, composed of journals, was being scattered in scraps of paper to the floor, and under the picture was the legend: "It is forbidden to publish what Marshal Foch says. It is forbidden to publish what Mr. George thinks. It is forbidden to publish the Treaty of Peace with Germany. It is forbidden to publish what happened at ... and to make sure that nothing else will be published, the censor systematically delays the transmission of every telegram."[81]

In the Chamber the government was adjured to suppress the institution of censorship once the Treaty was signed by the Germans, and Ministers were reminded of the diatribes which they had pronounced against that institution in the years of their ambitions and strivings. In vain Deputies described and deplored the process of demoralization that was being furthered by the methods of the government. "In the provinces as well as in the capital the journals that displease are seized, eavesdroppers listen to telephonic conversations, the secrets of private letters are violated. Arrangements are made that certain telegrams shall arrive too late, and spies are delegated to the most private meetings. At a recent gathering of members of the National Press, two spies were surprised, and another was discovered at the Federation of the Radical Committees of the Oise."[82] But neither the signature of the Treaty nor its ratification by Germany occasioned the slightest modification in the system of restrictions. Paris continued in a state of siege and the censors were the busiest bureaucrats in the capital.

One undesirable result of this régime of keeping the public in the dark and indoctrinating it in the views always narrow, and sometimes mischievous, which the authorities desired it to hold, was that the absurdities which were allowed to appear with the hall-mark of censorship were often believed to emanate directly from the government. Britons and Americans versed in the books of the New Testament were shocked or amused when told that the censor had allowed the following passage to appear in an eloquent speech delivered by the ex-Premier, M. Painlevé: "As Hall Caine, the great American poet, has put it, 'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?'"[83]

Every conceivable precaution was taken against the leakage of information respecting what was going on in the Council of Ten. Notwithstanding this, the French papers contrived now and again, during the first couple of months, to publish scraps of news calculated to convey to the public a faint notion of the proceedings, until one day a Nationalist organ boldly announced that the British Premier had disagreed with the expert commission and with his own colleagues on the subject of Dantzig and refused to give way. This paragraph irritated the British statesman, who made a scene at the next meeting of the Council. "There is," he is reported to have exclaimed, "some one among us here who is unmindful of his obligations," and while uttering these and other much stronger words he eyed severely a certain mild individual who is said to have trembled all over during the philippic. He also launched out into a violent diatribe against various French journals which had criticized his views on Poland and his method of carrying them in council, and he went so far as to threaten to have the Conference transferred to a neutral country. In conclusion he demanded an investigation into the origin of the leakage of information and the adoption of severe disciplinary measures against the journalists who published the disclosures.[84] Thenceforward the Council of Ten was suspended and its place taken by a smaller and more secret conclave of Five, Four, or Three, according as the state of the plenipotentiaries' health, the requirements of their home politics, or their relations among themselves caused one or two to quit Paris temporarily.

This measure insured relative secrecy, fostered rumors and gossip, and rendered criticism, whether helpful or captious, impossible. It also drove into outer darkness those Allied states whose interests were described as limited, as though the interests of Italy, whose delegate was nominally one of the privileged five, were not being treated as more limited still. But the point of this last criticism would be blunted if, as some French and Italian observers alleged, the deliberate aim of the "representatives of the twelve million soldiers" was indeed to enable peace to be concluded and the world resettled congruously with the conceptions and in harmony with the interests of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. But the supposition is gratuitous. There was no such deliberate plan. After the establishment of the Council of Five, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Wilson made short work of the reports of the expert commissions whenever these put forward reasoned views differing from their own. In a word, they became the world's supreme and secret arbiters without ceasing to be the official champions of the freedom of the lesser states and of "open covenants openly arrived at." They constituted, so to say, the living synthesis of contradictories.

The Council of Five then was a superlatively secret body. No secretaries were admitted to its gatherings and no official minutes of its proceedings were recorded. Communications were never issued to the press. It resembled a gang of benevolent conspirators, whose debates and resolutions were swallowed up by darkness and mystery. Even the most modest meeting of a provincial taxpayers' association keeps minutes of its discussions. The world parliament kept none. Eschewing traditional usages, as became naïve shapers of the new world, and ignoring history, the Five, Four, or Three shut themselves up in a room, talked informally and disconnectedly without a common principle, program, or method, and separated again without having reached a conclusion. It is said that when one put forth an idea, another would comment upon it, a third might demur, and that sometimes an appeal would be made to geography, history, or ethnography, and as the data were not immediately accessible either competent specialists were sent for or the conversation took another turn. They very naturally refused to allow these desultory proceedings to be put on record, the only concession which they granted to the curiosity of future generations being the fixation of their own physical features by photography and painting. When the sitting was over, therefore, no one could be held to aught that he had said; there was nothing to bind any of the individual delegates to the views he had expressed, nor was there anything to mark the line to which the Council as a whole had advanced. Each one was free to dictate to his secretary his recollections of what had gone on, but as these précis were given from memory they necessarily differed one from the other on various important points. On the following morning, or a few days later, the world's workers would meet again, and either begin at the beginning, traveling over the same familiar field, or else break fresh ground. In this way in one day they are said to have skimmed the problems of Spitzbergen, Morocco, Dantzig, and the feeding of the enemy populations, leaving each problem where they had found it. The moment the discussion of a contentious question approached a climax, the specter of disagreement deterred them from pursuing it to a conclusion, and they passed on quickly to some other question. And when, after months had been spent in these Penelopean labors, definite decisions respecting the peace had to be taken lest the impatient people should rise up and wrest matters into their own hands, the delegates referred the various problems which they had been unable to solve to the wisdom and tact of the future League of Nations.

When misunderstandings arose as to what had been said or done it was the official translator, M. Paul Mantoux—one of the most brilliant representatives of Jewry at the Conference—who was wont to decide, his memory being reputed superlatively tenacious. In this way he attained the distinction of which his friends are justly proud, of being a living record—indeed, the sole available record—of what went on at the historic council. He was the recipient and is now the only repository of all the secrets of which the plenipotentiaries were so jealous, lest, being a kind of knowledge which is in verity power, it should be used one day for some dubious purpose. But M. Mantoux enjoyed the esteem and confidence not only of Mr. Wilson, but also of the British Prime Minister, who, it was generally believed, drew from his entertaining narratives and shrewd appreciations whatever information he possessed about French politics and politicians. It was currently affirmed that, being a man of method and foresight, M. Mantoux committed everything to writing for his own behoof. Doubts, however, were entertained and publicly expressed as to whether affairs of this magnitude, involving the destinies of the world, should have been handled in such secret and unbusiness-like fashion. But on the supposition that the general outcome, if not the preconceived aim, of the policy of the Anglo-Saxon plenipotentiaries was to confer the beneficent hegemony of the world upon its peoples, there could, it was argued, be no real danger in the procedure followed. For, united, those nations have nothing to fear.

Although the translations were done rapidly, elegantly, and lucidly, allegations were made that they lost somewhat by undue compression and even by the process of toning down, of which the praiseworthy object was to spare delicate susceptibilities. For a limited number of delicate susceptibilities were treated considerately by the Conference. A defective rendering made a curious impression on the hearers once, when a delegate said: "My country, unfortunately, is situated in the midst of states which are anything but peace-loving—in fact, the chief danger to the peace of Europe emanates from them." M. Mantoux's translation ran, "The country represented by M. X. unhappily presents the greatest danger to the peace of Europe."

On several occasions passages of the discourses of the plenipotentiaries underwent a certain transformation in the well-informed brain of M. Mantoux before being done into another language. They were plunged, so to say, in the stream of history before their exposure to the light of day. This was especially the case with the remarks of the English-speaking delegates, some of whom were wont to make extensive use of the license taken by their great national poet in matters of geography and history. One of them, for example, when alluding to the ex-Emperor Franz Josef and his successor, said: "It would be unjust to visit the sins of the father on the head of his innocent son. Charles I should not be made to suffer for Franz Josef." M. Mantoux rendered the sentence, "It would be unjust to visit the sins of the uncle on the innocent nephew," and M. Clemenceau, with a merry twinkle in his eye, remarked to the ready interpreter, "You will lose your job if you go on making these wrong translations."

But those details are interesting, if at all, only as means of eking out a mere sketch which can never become a complete and faithful picture. It was the desire of the eminent lawgivers that the source of the most beneficent reforms chronicled in history should be as well hidden as those of the greatest boon bestowed by Providence upon man. And their motives appear to have been sound enough.

The pains thus taken to create a haze between themselves and the peoples whose implicit confidence they were continuously craving constitute one of the most striking ethico-psychological phenomena of the Conference. They demanded unreasoning faith as well as blind obedience. Any statement, however startling, was expected to carry conviction once it bore the official hall-mark. Take, for example, the demand made by the Supreme Four to Bela Kuhn to desist from his offensive against the Slovaks. The press expressed surprise and disappointment that he, a Bolshevist, should have been invited even hypothetically by the "deadly enemies of Bolshevism" to delegate representatives to the Paris Conference from which the leaders of the Russian constructive elements were excluded. Thereupon the Supreme Four, which had taken the step in secret, had it denied categorically that such an invitation had been issued. The press was put up to state that, far from making such an undignified advance, the Council had asserted its authority and peremptorily summoned the misdemeanant Kuhn to withdraw his troops immediately from Slovakia under heavy pains and penalties.

Subsequently, however, the official correspondence was published, when it was seen that the implicit invitation had really been issued and that the denial ran directly counter to fact. By this exposure the Council of Four, which still sued for the full confidence of their peoples, was somewhat embarrassed. This embarrassment was not allayed when what purported to be a correct explanation of their action was given out and privately circulated by a group which claimed to be initiated. It was summarized as follows: "The Israelite, Bela Kuhn, who is leading Hungary to destruction, has been heartened by the Supreme Council's indulgent message. People are at a loss to understand why, if the Conference believes, as it has asserted, that Bolshevism is the greatest scourge of latter-day humanity, it ordered the Rumanian troops, when nearing Budapest for the purpose of overthrowing it in that stronghold, first to halt, and then to withdraw.[85] The clue to the mystery has at last been found in a secret arrangement between Kuhn and a certain financial group concerning the Banat. About this more will be said later. In one of my own cablegrams to the United States I wrote: "People are everywhere murmuring and whispering that beneath the surface of things powerful undercurrents are flowing which invisibly sway the policy of the secret council, and the public believes that this accounts for the sinister vacillation and delay of which it complains."[86]

In the fragmentary utterances of the governments and their press organs nobody placed the slightest confidence. Their testimony was discredited in advance, on grounds which they were unable to weaken. The following example is at once amusing and instructive. The French Parliamentary Committee of the Budget, having asked the government for communication of the section of the Peace Treaty dealing with finances, were told that their demand could not be entertained, every clause of the Treaty being a state secret. The Committee on Foreign Affairs made a like request, with the same results. The entire Chamber next expressed a similar wish, which elicited a firm refusal. The French Premier, it should be added, alleged a reason which was at least specious. "I should much like," he said, "to communicate to you the text you ask for, but I may not do so until it has been signed by the President of the Republic. For such is the law as embodied in Article 8 of the Constitution." Now nobody believed that this was the true ground for his refusal. His explanation, however, was construed as a courteous conventionality, and as such was accepted. But once alleged, the fiction should have been respected, at any rate by its authors. It was not. A few weeks later the Premier ordered the publication of the text of the Treaty, although, in the meantime, it had not been signed by M. Poincaré. "The excuse founded upon Article 8 was, therefore, a mere humbug," flippantly wrote an influential journal.[87]

An amusing joke, which tickled all Paris was perpetrated shortly afterward. The editor of the Bonsoir imported six hundred copies of the forbidden Treaty from Switzerland, and sent them as a present to the Deputies of the Chamber, whereupon the parliamentary authorities posted up a notice informing all Deputies who desired a copy to call at the questor's office, where they would receive it gratuitously as a present from the Bonsoir. Accordingly the Deputies, including the Speaker, Deschanel, thronged to the questor's office. Even solemn-faced Ministers received a copy of the thick volume which I possessed ever since the day it was issued.

Another glaring instance of the lack of straightforwardness which vitiated the dealings of the Conference with the public turned upon the Bullitt mission to Russia. Mr. Wilson, who in the depths of his heart seems to have cherished a vague fondness for the Bolshevists there, which he sometimes manifested in utterances that startled the foreigners to whom they were addressed, despatched through Colonel House some fellow-countrymen of his to Moscow to ask for peace proposals which, according to the Moscow government, were drafted by himself and Messrs. House and Lansing. Mr. Bullitt, however, who must know, affirms that the draft was written by Mr. Lloyd George's secretary, Mr. Philip Kerr, and himself and presented to Lenin by Messrs. Bullitt, Steffins, and Petit. If the terms of this document should prove acceptable the American envoys were empowered to promise that an official invitation to a new peace conference would be sent to them as well as to their opponents by April 15th. The conditions—eleven in number—with a few slight modifications in which the Americans acquiesced—were accepted by the dictator, who was bound, however, not to permit their publication. The facts remained secret until Mr. Bullitt, thrown over by Mr. Wilson, who recoiled from taking the final and decisive step, resigned, and in a letter reproduced by the press set forth the reasons for his decision.[88]

Now, vague reports that there was such a mission had found its way into the Paris newspapers at a relatively early date. But an authoritative denial was published without delay. The statement, the public was assured, was without foundation. And the public believed the assurance, for it was confirmed authoritatively in England. Sir Samuel Hoare, in the House of Commons, asked for information about a report that "two Americans have recently returned from Russia bringing offers of peace from Lenin," and received from Mr. Bonar Law this noteworthy reply: "I have said already that there is not the shadow of foundation for this information, otherwise I would have known it. Moreover, I have communicated with Mr. Lloyd George in Paris, who also declares that he knows nothing about the matter."[89] E pur si muove. Mr. Lloyd George knew nothing about President Wilson's determination to have the Covenant inserted in the Peace Treaty, even after the announcement was published to the world by the Havas Agency, and the confirmation given to pressmen by Lord Robert Cecil. The system of reticence and concealment, coupled with the indifference of this or that delegation to questions in which it happened to take no special interest, led to these unseemly air-tight compartments.

From this rank soil of secrecy, repression, and unveracity sprang noxious weeds. False reports and mendacious insinuations were launched, spread, and credited, impairing such prestige as the Conference still enjoyed, while the fragmentary announcements ventured on now and again by the delegates, in sheer self-defense, were summarily dismissed as "eye-wash" for the public.

For a time the disharmony between words and deeds passed unnoticed by the bulk of the masses, who were edified by the one and unacquainted with the other. But gradually the lack of consistency in policy and of manly straightforwardness and moral wholeness in method became apparent to all and produced untoward consequences. Mr. Wilson, whose authority and influence were supposed to be paramount, came in for the lion's share of criticism, except in the Polish policy of the Conference, which was traced to Mr. Lloyd George and his unofficial prompters. The American press was the most censorious of all. One American journal appearing in Paris gave utterance to the following comments on the President's rôle:[90]

President Wilson is conscious of his power of persuasion. That power enables him to say one thing, do another, describe the act as conforming to the idea, and, with act and idea in exact contradiction to each other, convince the people, not only that he has been consistent throughout, but that his act cannot be altered without peril to the nation and danger to the world.

We do not know which Mr. Wilson to follow—the Mr. Wilson who says he will not do a thing or the Mr. Wilson who does that precise thing.

A great many Americans have one fixed idea. That idea is that the President is the only magnanimous, clear-visioned, broad-minded statesman in the United States, or the entire world, for that matter.

When he uses his powers of persuasion Americans become as the children of Hamelin Town. Inasmuch as Mr. Wilson of the word and Mr. Wilson of the deed seem at times to be two distinct identities, some of his most enthusiastic supporters for the League of Nations, being unfortunately gifted with memory and perception, are fairly standing on their heads in dismay.

And yet Mr. Wilson himself was a victim of the policy of reticence and concealment to which the Great Powers were incurably addicted. At the time when they were moving heaven and earth to induce him to break with Germany and enter the war, they withheld from him the existence of their secret treaties. Possibly it may not be thought fair to apply the test of ethical fastidiousness to their method of bringing the United States to their side and to their unwillingness to run the risk of alienating the President. But it appears that until the close of hostility the secret was kept inviolate, nor was it until Mr. Wilson reached the shores of Europe for the purpose of executing his project that he was faced with the huge obstacles to his scheme arising out of those far-reaching commitments. With this depressing revelation and the British non possumus to his demand for the freedom of the seas, Mr. Wilson's practical difficulties began. It was probably on that occasion that he resolved, seeing that he could not obtain everything he wanted, to content himself with the best he could get. And that was not a society of peoples, but a rough approximation to the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon nations.

FOOTNOTES:

[70] The French Minister of Finances made this the cornerstone of his policy and declared that the indemnity to be paid by the vanquished Teutons would enable him to set the finances of France on a permanently sound basis. In view of this expectation new taxation was eschewed.

[71] A selection of the untruths published in the French press during the war has been reproduced by the Paris journal, Bonsoir. It contains abundant pabulum for the cynic and valuable data for the psychologist. The example might be followed in Great Britain. The title is: "Anthologie du Bourrage de Crâne." It began in the month of July, 1919.

[72] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), June 2, 1919.

[73] Cf. The Daily Mail (Paris edition), January 17, 1919.

[74] Cf. The Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1919.

[75] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), June 10, 1919.

[76] Cf. Bonsoir, June 20, 1919.

[77] On April 27th.

[78] Bonsoir, June 21, 1919.

[79] The New York Herald, May 15. 1919.

[80] The New York Herald (Paris edition), May 3,1919.

[81] The New York Herald, June 6, 1919.

[82] Cf. Le Matin, July 9, 1919. The chief speakers alluded to were MM. Renaudel, Deshayes, Lafont, Paul Meunier, Vandame.

[83] The New York Herald (Paris edition), April 29, 1919.

[84] Quoted in the Paris Temps of March 28,1919.

[85] This explanation deals exclusively with the first advance of the Rumanian army into Hungary.

[86] Cabled to The Public Ledger of Philadelphia, April 20,1919.

[87] Bonsoir, June 21, 1919.

[88] Cf. The Daily News, July 5,1919. L'Humanité, July 8, 1919.

[89] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), April 4, 1919.

[90] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), July 31, 1919.


V

AIMS AND METHODS

The policy of the Anglo-Saxon plenipotentiaries was never put into words. For that reason it has to be judged by their acts, despite the circumstance that these were determined by motives which varied greatly at different times, and so far as one can conjecture were not often practical corollaries of fundamental principles. From these acts one may draw a few conclusions which will enable us to reconstruct such policy as there was. One is that none of the sacrifices imposed upon the members of the League of Nations was obligatory on the Anglo-Saxon peoples. These were beyond the reach of all the new canons which might clash with their interests or run counter to their aspirations. They were the givers and administrators of the saving law rather than its observers. Consequently they were free to hold all that was theirs, however doubtful their title; nay, they were besought to accept a good deal more under the mandatory system, which was molded on their own methods of governance. It was especially taken for granted that the architects would be called to contribute naught to the new structure but their ideas, and that they need renounce none of their possessions, however shady its origin, however galling to the population its retention. It was in deference to this implicit doctrine that President Wilson withdrew without protest or discussion his demand for the freedom of the seas, on which he had been wont to lay such stress.

Another way of putting the matter is this. The principal aim of the Conference was to create conditions favorable to the progress of civilization on new lines. And the seed-bearers of true, as distinguished from spurious, civilization and culture being the Anglo-Saxons, it is the realization of their broad conceptions, the furtherance of their beneficent strivings, that are most conducive to that ulterior aim. The men of this race in the widest sense of the term are, therefore, so to say, independent ends in themselves, whereas the other peoples are to be utilized as means. Hence the difference of treatment meted out to the two categories. In the latter were implicitly included Italy and Russia. Unquestionably the influence of Anglo-Saxondom is eminently beneficial. It tends to bring the rights and the dignity as well as the duties of humanity into broad day. The farther it extends by natural growth, therefore, the better for the human race. The Anglo-Saxon mode of administering colonies, for instance, is exemplary, and for this reason was deemed worthy to receive the hall-mark of the Conference as one of the institutions of the future League. But even benefits may be transformed into evils if imposed by force.

That, in brief, would seem to be the clue—one can hardly speak of any systematic conception—to the unordered improvisations and incongruous decisions of the Conference.

I am not now concerned to discuss whether this unformulated maxim, which had strong roots that may not always have reached the realm of consciousness, calls for approval as an instrument of ethico-political progress or connotes an impoverishment of the aims originally propounded by Mr. Wilson. Excellent reasons may be assigned why the two English-speaking statesmen proceeded without deliberation on these lines and no other. The matter might have been raised to a higher plane, but for that the delegates were not prepared. All that one need retain at present is the orientation of the Supreme Council, inasmuch as it imparts a sort of relative unity to seemingly heterogeneous acts. Thus, although the conditions of the Peace Treaty in many respects ran directly counter to the provisions of the Covenant, none the less the ultimate tendency of both was to converge in a distant point, which, when clearly discerned, will turn out to be the moral guidance of the world by Anglo-Saxondom as represented at any rate in the incipient stage by both its branches. Thus the discussions among the members of the Conference were in last analysis not contests about mere abstractions. Beneath the high-sounding principles and far-resonant reforms which were propounded but not realized lurked concrete racial strivings which a patriotic temper and robust faith might easily identify with the highest interests of humanity.

When the future historian defines, as he probably will, the main result of the Conference's labors as a tendency to place the spiritual and political direction of the world in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon race, it is essential to a correct view of things that he should not regard this trend as the outcome of a deliberate concerted policy. It was anything but this. Nobody who conversed with the statesmen before and during the Conference could detect any sure tokens of such ultimate aims, nor, indeed, of a thorough understanding of the lesser problems to be settled. Circumstance led, and the statesmen followed. The historian may term the process drift, and the humanitarian regret that such momentous issues should ever have been submitted to a body of uninformed politicians out of touch with the people for whose behoof they claimed to be legislating. To liquidate the war should have been the first, as it was the most urgent, task. But it was complicated, adjourned, and finally botched by interweaving it with a mutilated scheme for the complete readjustment of the politico-social forces of the planet. The result was a tangled skein of problems, most of them still unsolved, and some insoluble by governments alone. Out of the confusion of clashing forces towered aloft the two dominant Powers who command the economic resources of the world, and whose democratic institutions and internal ordering are unquestionably more conducive to the large humanitarian end than those of any other, and gradually their overlordship of the world began to assert itself. But this tendency was not the outcome of deliberate endeavor. Each representative of those vast states was solicitous in the first place about the future of his own country, and then about the regeneration of the human race. One would like to be able to add that all were wholly inaccessible to the promptings of party interests and personal ambitions.

Planlessness naturally characterized the exertions of the Anglo-Saxon delegates from start to finish. It is a racial trait. Their hosts, who were experts in the traditions of diplomacy, had before the opening of the Conference prepared a plan for their behoof, which at the lowest estimate would have connoted a vast improvement on their own desultory way of proceeding. The French proposed to distribute all the preparatory work among eighteen commissions, leaving to the chief plenipotentiaries the requisite time to arrange preliminaries and become acquainted with the essential elements of the problems. But Messrs. Wilson and Lloyd George are said to have preferred their informal conversations, involving the loss of three and a half months, during which no results were reached in Paris, while turmoil, bloodshed, and hunger fed the smoldering fires of discontent throughout the World.

The British Premier, like his French colleague, was solicitous chiefly about making peace with the enemy and redeeming as far as possible his election pledges to his supporters. To that end everything else would appear to have been subordinated. To the ambitious project of a world reform he and M. Clemenceau gave what was currently construed as a nominal assent, but for a long time they had no inkling of Mr. Wilson's intention to interweave the peace conditions with the Covenant. So far, indeed, were they both from entertaining the notion that the two Premiers expressly denied—and allowed their denial to be circulated in the press—that the two documents were or could be made mutually interdependent. M. Pichon assured a group of journalists that no such intention was harbored.[91] Mr. Lloyd George is understood to have gone farther and to have asked what degree of relevancy a Covenant for the members of the League could be supposed to possess to a treaty concluded with a nation which for the time being was denied admission to that sodality. And as we saw, he was incurious enough not to read the narrative of what had been done by his own American colleagues even after the Havas Agency announced it.

To President Wilson, on the other hand, the League was the magnum opus of his life. It was to be the crown of his political career, to mark the attainment of an end toward which all that was best in the human race had for centuries been consciously or unconsciously wending without moving perceptibly nearer. Instinctively he must have felt that the Laodicean support given to him by his colleagues would not carry him much farther and that their fervor would speedily evaporate once the Conference broke up and their own special aims were definitely achieved or missed. With the shrewdness of an experienced politician he grasped the fact that if he was ever to present his Covenant to the world clothed with the authority of the mightiest states, now was his opportunity. After the Conference it would be too late. And the only contrivance by which he could surely reckon on success was to insert the Covenant in the Peace Treaty and set before his colleagues an irresistible incentive for elaborating both at the same time.

He had an additional motive for these tactics in the attitude of a section of his own countrymen. Before starting for Paris he had, as we saw, made an appeal to the electorate to return to the legislature only candidates of his own party to the exclusion of Republicans, and the result fell out contrary to his expectations. Thereupon the oppositional elements increased in numbers and displayed a marked combative disposition. Even moderate Republicans complained in terms akin to those employed by ex-President Taft of Mr. Wilson's "partizan exclusion of Republicans in dealing with the highly important matter of settling the results of the war. He solicited a commission in which the Republicans had no representation and in which there were no prominent Americans of any real experience and leadership of public opinion."[92]

The leaders of this opposition sharply watched the policy of the President at the Conference and made no secret of their resolve to utilize any serious slip as a handle for revising or rejecting the outcome of his labors. Seeing his cherished cause thus trembling in the scale, Mr. Wilson hit upon the expedient of linking the Covenant with the Peace Treaty and making of the two an inseparable whole. He announced this determination in a forcible speech[93] to his own countrymen, in which he said, "When the Treaty comes back, gentlemen on this side will find the Covenant not only in it, but so many threads of the Treaty tied to the Covenant that you cannot dissect the Covenant from the Treaty without destroying the whole vital structure." This scheme was denounced by Mr. Wilson's opponents as a trick, but the historian will remember it as a maneuver, which, however blameless or meritorious its motive, was fraught with lamentable consequences for all the peoples for whose interests the President was sincerely solicitous. To take but one example. The misgivings generated by the Covenant delayed the ratification of the Peace Treaty by the United States Senate, in consequence of which the Turkish problem had to be postponed until the Washington government was authorized to accept or compelled to refuse a mandate for the Sultan's dominions, and in the meanwhile mass massacres of Greeks and Armenians were organized anew.

A large section of the press and the majority of the delegates strongly condemned the interpolation of the Covenant. What they demanded was first the conclusion of a solid peace and then the establishment of suitable international safeguards. For to be safeguarded, peace must first exist. "A suit of armor without the warrior inside is but a useless ornament," wrote one of the American journals.[94]

But the course advocated by Mr. Wilson was open to another direct and telling objection. Peace between the belligerent adversaries was, in the circumstances, conceivable only on the old lines of strategic frontiers and military guaranties. The Supreme Council implied as much in its official reply to the criticisms offered by the Austrians to the conditions imposed on them, making the admission that Italy's new northern frontiers were determined by considerations of strategy. The plan for the governance of the world by a league of pacific peoples, on the other hand, postulated the abolition of war preparations, including strategic frontiers. Consequently the more satisfactory the Treaty the more unfavorable would be the outlook for the moral reconstitution of the family of nations, and vice versa. And to interlace the two would be to necessitate a compromise which would necessarily mar both.

In effect the split among the delegates respecting their aims and interests led to a tacit understanding among the leaders on the basis of give-and-take, the French and British acquiescing in Mr. Wilson's measures for working out his Covenant—the draft of which was contributed by the British—and the President, giving way to them on matters said to affect their countries' vital interests. How smoothly this method worked when great issues were not at stake may be inferred from the perfunctory way in which it was decided that the Kaiser's trial should take place in London. A few days before the Treaty was signed there was a pause in the proceedings of the Supreme Council during which the secretary was searching for a mislaid document. Mr. Lloyd George, looking up casually and without addressing any one in particular, remarked, "I suppose none of you has any objection to the Kaiser being tried in London?" M. Clemenceau shrugged his shoulders, Mr. Wilson raised his hand, and the matter was assumed to be settled. Nothing more was said or written on the subject. But when the news was announced, after the President's departure from France, it took the other American delegates by surprise and they disclaimed all knowledge of any such decision. On inquiry, however, they learned that the venue had in truth been fixed in this offhand way.[95]

Mr. Wilson found it a hard task at first to obtain acceptance for his ill-defined tenets by France, who declined to accept the protection of his League of Nations in lieu of strategic frontiers and military guaranties. Insurmountable obstacles barred his way. The French government and people, while moved by decent respect for their American benefactors[96] to assent to the establishment of a league, flatly refused to trust themselves to its protection against Teuton aggression. But they were quite prepared to second Mr. Wilson's endeavors to oblige some of the other states to content themselves with the guaranties it offered, only, however, on condition that their own country was first safeguarded in the traditional way. Territorial equilibrium and military protection were the imperative provisos on which they insisted. And as France was specially favored by Mr. Wilson on sentimental grounds which outweighed his doctrine, and as she was also considered indispensable to the Anglo-Saxon peoples as their continental executive, she had no difficulty in securing their support. On this point, too, therefore, the President found himself constrained to give way. And only did he abandon his humanitarian intentions and his strongest arguments to be lightly brushed aside, he actually recoiled so far into the camp of his opponents that he gave his approval to an indefensible clause in the Treaty which would have handed over to France the German population of the Saar as the equivalent of a certain sum in gold. Coming from the world-reformer who, a short time before, had hurled the thunderbolts of his oratory against those who would barter human beings as chattels, this amazing compromise connoted a strange falling off. Incidentally it was destructive of all faith in the spirit that had actuated his world-crusade. It also went far to convince unbiased observers that the only framework of ideas with decisive reference to which Mr. Wilson considered every project and every objection as it arose, was that which centered round his own goal—the establishment, if not of a league of nations cemented by brotherhood and fellowship, at least of the nearest approach to that which he could secure, even though it fell far short of the original design. These were the first-fruits of the interweaving of the Covenant with the Treaty.

In view of this readiness to split differences and sacrifice principles to expediency it became impossible even to the least observant of Mr. Wilson's adherents in the Old World to cling any longer to the belief that his cosmic policy was inspired by firm intellectual attachment to the sublime ideas of which he had made himself the eloquent exponent and had been expected to make himself the uncompromising champion. In every such surrender to the Great Powers, as in every stern enforcement of his principles on the lesser states, the same practical spirit of the professional politician visibly asserted itself. One can hardly acquit him of having lacked the moral courage to disregard the veto of interested statesmen and governments and to appeal directly to the peoples when the consequence of this attitude would have been the sacrifice of the makeshift of a Covenant which he was ultimately content to accept as a substitute for the complete reinstatement of nations in their rights and dignity.

The general tendency of the labors of the Conference then was shaped by those two practical maxims, the immunity of the Anglo-Saxon peoples and of their French ally from the restrictions to be imposed by the new politico-social ordering in so far as these ran counter to their national interests, and the determination of the American President to get and accept such a league of nations as was feasible under extremely inauspicious conditions and to content himself with that.

To this estimate exception may be taken on the ground that it underrates an effort which, however insufficient, was well meant and did at any rate point the way to a just resettlement of secular problems which the war had made pressing and that it fails to take account of the formidable obstacles encountered. The answer is, that like efforts had proceeded more than once before from rulers of men whose will, seeing that they were credited with possessing the requisite power, was assumed to be adequate to the accomplishment of their aim, and that they had led to nothing. The two Tsars, Alexander I at the Congress of Vienna, and Nicholas II at the first Conference of The Hague, are instructive instances. They also, like Mr. Wilson, it is assumed, would fain have inaugurated a golden age of international right and moral fellowship if verbal exhortations and arguments could have done it. The only kind of fresh attempt, which after the failure of those two experiments could fairly lay claim to universal sympathy, was one which should withdraw the proposed politico-social rearrangement from the domain alike of rhetoric and of empiricism and substitute a thorough systematic reform covering all the aspects of international intercourse, including all the civilized peoples on the globe, harmonizing the vital interests of these and setting up adequate machinery to deal with the needs of this enlarged and unified state system. And it would be fruitless to seek for this in Mr. Wilson's handiwork. Indeed, it is hardly too much to affirm that empiricism and opportunism were among the principal characteristics of his policy in Paris, and that the outcome was what it must be.

Disputes and delays being inevitable, the Conference began its work at leisure and was forced to terminate it in hot haste. Having spent months chaffering, making compromises, and unmaking them again while the peoples of the world were kept in painful suspense, all of them condemned to incur ruinous expenditure and some to wage sanguinary wars, the springs of industrial and commercial activity being kept sealed, the delegates, menaced by outbreaks, revolts, and mutinies, began, after months had been wasted, to speed up and get through their work without adequate deliberation. They imagined that they could make up for the errors of hesitancy and ignorance by moments of lightning-like improvisation. Improvisation and haphazard conclusions were among their chronic failings. Even in the early days of the Conference they had promulgated decisions, the import and bearings of which they missed, and when possible they canceled them again. Sometimes, however, the error committed was irreparable. The fate reserved for Austria was a case in point. By some curious process of reasoning it was found to be not incompatible with the Wilsonian doctrine that German-Austria should be forbidden to throw in her lot with the German Republic, this prohibition being in the interest of France, who could not brook a powerful united Teuton state. The wishes of the Austrian-Germans and the principle of self-determination accordingly went for nothing. The representations of Italy, who pleaded for that principle, were likewise brushed aside.

But what the delegates appear to have overlooked was the decisive circumstance that they had already "on strategic grounds" assigned the Brenner line to Italy and together with it two hundred and twenty thousand Tyrolese of German race living in a compact mass—although a much smaller alien element was deemed a bar to annexation in the case of Poland. And what was more to the point, this allotment deprived Tyrol of an independent economic existence, cutting it off from the southern valley and making it tributary to Bavaria. Mr. Wilson, the public was credibly informed, "took this grave decision without having gone deeply into the matter, and he repents it bitterly. None the less, he can no longer go back."[97]

Just as Tyrol's loss of Botzen and Meran made it dependent on Bavaria, so the severance of Vienna from southern Moravia—- the source of its cereal supplies, situated at a distance of only thirty-six miles—transformed the Austrian capital into a head without a body. But on the eminent anatomists who were to perform a variety of unprecedented operations on other states, this spectacle had no deterrent effect.

Whenever a topic came up for discussion which could not be solved offhand, it was referred to a commission, and in many cases the commission was assisted by a mission which proceeded to the country concerned and within a few weeks returned with data which were assumed to supply materials enough for a decision, even though most of its members were unacquainted with the language of the people whose condition they had been studying. How quick of apprehension these envoys were supposed to be may be inferred from the task with which the American mission under General Harbord was charged, and the space of time accorded him for achieving it. The members of this mission started from Brest in the last decade of August for the Caucasus, making a stay at Constantinople on the way, and were due back in Paris early in October. During the few intervening weeks "the mission," General Harbord said, "will go into every phase of the situation, political, racial, economic, financial, and commercial. I shall also investigate highways, harbors, agricultural and mining conditions, the question of raising an Armenian army, policing problems, and the raw materials of Armenia."[98] Only specialists who have some practical acquaintanceship with the Caucasus, its conditions, peoples, languages, and problems, can appreciate the herculean effort needed to tackle intelligently any one of the many subjects all of which this improvised commission under a military general undertook to master in four weeks. Never was a chaotic world set right and reformed at such a bewildering pace.

Bad blood was caused by the distribution of places on the various commissions. The delegates of the lesser nations, deeming themselves badly treated, protested vehemently, and for a time passion ran high. Squabbles of this nature, intensified by fierce discussions within the Council, tidings of which reached the ears of the public outside, disheartened those who were anxious for the speedy restoration of normal conditions in a world that was fast decomposing. But the optimism of the three principal plenipotentiaries was beyond the reach of the most depressing stumbles and reverses. Their buoyant temper may be gaged from Mr. Balfour's words, reported in the press: "It is true that there is a good deal of discussion going on, but there is no real discord about ideas or facts. We are agreed on the principal questions and there only remains to find the words that embody the agreements."[99] These tidings were welcomed at the time, because whatever defects were ascribed to the distinguished statesmen of the Conference by faultfinders, a lack of words was assuredly not among them. This cheery outlook on the future reminded me of the better grounded composure of Pope Pius IX during the stormy proceedings at the Vatican Council. A layman, having expressed his disquietude at the unruly behavior of the prelates, the Pontiff replied that it had ever been thus at ecclesiastical councils. "At the outset," he went on to explain, "the members behave as men, wrangle and quarrel, and nothing that they say or do is worth much. That is the first act. The second is ushered in by the devil, who intensifies the disorder and muddles things bewilderingly. But happily there is always a third act in which the Holy Ghost descends and arranges everything for the best."

The first two phases of the Conference's proceedings bore a strong resemblance to the Pope's description, but as, unlike ecclesiastical councils, it had no claim to infallibility, and therefore no third act, the consequences to the world were deplorable. The Supreme Council never knew how to deal with an emergency and every week unexpected incidents in the world outside were calling for prompt action. Frequently it contradicted itself within the span of a few days, and sometimes at one and the same time its principal representatives found themselves in complete opposition to one another. To give but one example: In April M. Clemenceau was asked whether he approved the project of relieving famine-stricken Russia. His answer was affirmative, and he signed the document authorizing it. His colleagues, Messrs. Wilson, Lloyd George, and Orlando, followed suit, and the matter seemed to be settled definitely. But at the same time Mr. Hoover, who had been the ardent advocate of the plan, officially received a letter from the French Minister of Foreign Affairs signifying the refusal of the French government to acquiesce in it.[100] On another occasion[101] the Supreme Council thought fit to despatch a mission to Asia Minor in order to ascertain the views of the populations of Syria and Mesopotamia on the régime best suited to them. France, whose secular relations with Syria, where she maintains admirable educational establishments, are said to have endeared her to the population, objected to this expedient as superfluous and mischievous. Superfluous because the Francophil sentiments of the people are supposed to be beyond all doubt, and mischievous because plebiscites or substitutes for plebiscites could have only a bolshevizing effect on Orientals. Seemingly yielding to these considerations, the Supreme Council abandoned the scheme and the members of the mission made other plans.[102] After several weeks' further reflection, however, the original idea was carried out, and the mission visited the East.

The reader may be glad of a momentary glimpse of the interior of the historic assembly afforded by those who were privileged to play a part in it before it was transformed into a secret conclave of five, four, or three. Within the doors of the chambers whence fateful decrees were issued to the four corners of the earth the delegates were seated, mostly according to their native languages, within earshot of the special pleaders. M. Clemenceau, at the head of the table, has before him a delegate charged with conducting the case, say, of Greece, Poland, Serbia, or Czechslovakia. The delegate, standing in front of the stern but mobile Premier, and encircled by other more or less attentive plenipotentiaries, looks like a nervous schoolboy appearing before exacting examiners, struggling with difficult questions and eager to answer them satisfactorily. Suppose the first language spoken is French. As many of the plenipotentiaries do not understand it, they cannot be blamed for relaxing attention while it is being employed, and keeping up a desultory conversation among themselves in idiomatic English, which forms a running bass accompaniment to the voice, often finely modulated, of the orator. Owing to this embarrassing language difficulty, as soon as a delegate pauses to take his breath, his arguments and appeals are done by M. Mantoux into English, and then it is the turn of the French plenipotentiaries to indulge in a quiet chat until some question is put in English, which has forthwith to be rendered into French, after which the French reply is translated into English, and so on unendingly, each group resuming its interrupted conversations alternately.

One delegate who passed several hours undergoing this ordeal said that he felt wholly out of sympathy with the atmosphere at the Conference Hall, adding: "While arguing or appealing to my country's arbiters I felt I was addressing only a minority of the distinguished judges, while the thoughts of the others were far away. And when the interpreter was rendering, quickly, mechanically, and summarily, my ideas without any of the explosive passion that shot them from my heart, I felt discouraged. But suddenly it dawned on me that no judgment would be uttered on the strength of anything that I had said or left unsaid. I remembered that everything would be referred to a commission, and from that to a sub-commission, then back again to the distinguished plenipotentiaries,"

Another delegate remarked: "Many years have elapsed since I passed my last examination, but it came back to me in all its vividness when I walked up to Premier Clemenceau and looked into his restless, flashing eyes. I said to myself: When last I was examined I was painfully conscious that my professors knew a lot more about the subject than I did, but now I am painfully aware that they know hardly anything at all and I am fervently desirous of teaching them. The task is arduous. It might, however, save time and labor if the delegates would receive our typewritten dissertations, read them quietly in their respective hotels, and endeavor to form a judgment on the data they supply. Failing that, I should like at least to provide them with a criterion of truth, for after me will come an opponent who will flatly contradict me, and how can they sift truth from error when the winnow is wanting? It is hard to feel that one is in the presence of great satraps of destiny, but I made an act of faith in the possibilities of genial quantities lurking behind those everyday faces and of a sort of magic power of calling into being new relations of peace and fellowship between individual classes and peoples. It was an act of faith."

If the members of the Supreme Council lacked the graces with which to draw their humbler colleagues and were incapable of according hospitality to any of the more or less revolutionary ideas floating in the air, they were also utterly powerless to enforce their behests in eastern Europe against serious opposition. Thus, although they kept considerable Inter-Allied forces in Germany, they failed to impose their decrees there, notwithstanding the circumstance that Germany was disorganized, nearly disarmed, and distracted by internal feuds. The Conference gave way when Germany refused to let the Polish troops disembark at Dantzig, although it had proclaimed its resolve to insist on their using that port. It allowed Odessa to be evacuated and its inhabitants to be decimated by the bloodthirsty Bolsheviki. It ordered the Ukrainians and the Poles to cease hostilities,[103] but hostilities went on for months afterward. An American general was despatched to the warring peoples to put an end to the fighting, but he returned despondent, leaving things as he had found them. General Smuts was sent to Budapest to strike up an agreement with Kuhn and the Magyar Bolshevists, but he, too, came back after a fruitless conversation. The Supreme Council's writ ran in none of those places.

About March 19th the Inter-Allied commission gave Erzberger twenty-four hours in which to ratify the convention between Germany and Poland and to carry out the conditions of the armistice. But Erzberger declined to ratify it and the Allies were unable or unwilling to impose their will on him. From this state of things the Rumanian delegates drew the obvious corollary. Exasperated by the treatment they received, they quitted the Conference, pursued their own policy, occupied Budapest, presented their own peace conditions to Hungary, and relegated, with courteous phrases and a polite bow to the Council, the directions elaborated for their guidance to the region of pious counsels.

In these ways the well-meant and well-advertised endeavors to substitute a moral relationship of nations for the state of latent warfare known as the balance of power were steadily wasted. On the one side the subtle skill of Old World diplomacy was toiling hard and successfully to revive under specious names its lost and failing causes, while on the other hand the New World policy, naïvely ignoring historical forces and secular prejudices, was boldly reaching out toward rough and ready modes of arranging things and taking no account of concrete circumstances. Generous idealists were thus pitted against old diplomatic stagers and both secretly strove to conclude hastily driven bargains outside the Council chamber with their opponents. As early as the first days of January I was present at some informal meetings where such transactions were being talked over, and I afterward gave it as my impression that "if things go forward as they are moving to-day the outcome will fall far short of reasonable expectations. The first striking difference between the transatlantic idealists and the Old World politicians lies in their different ways of appreciating expeditiousness, on the one hand, and the bases of the European state-system, on the other hand. A statesman when dealing with urgent, especially revolutionary, emergencies should never take his eyes from the clock. The politicians in Paris hardly ever take account of time or opportunity. The overseas reformers contend that the territorial and political balance of forces has utterly broken down and must be definitely scrapped in favor of a league of nations, and the diplomatists hold that the principle of equilibrium, far from having spent its force, still affords the only groundwork of international stability and requires to be further intensified."[104]

Living in the very center of the busy world of destiny-weavers, who were generously, if unavailingly, devoting time and labor to the fabrication of machinery for the good government of the entire human race out of scanty and not wholly suitable materials, a historian in presence of the manifold conflicting forces at work would have found it difficult to survey them all and set the daily incidents and particular questions in correct perspective. The earnestness and good-will of the plenipotentiaries were highly praiseworthy and they themselves, as we saw, were most hopeful. Nearly all the delegates were characterized by the spirit of compromise, so valuable in vulgar politics, but so perilous in embodying ideals. Anxious to reach unanimous decisions even when unanimity was lacking, the principal statesmen boldly had recourse to ingenious formulas and provisional agreements, which each party might construe in its own way, and paid scant attention to what was going on outside. I wrote at the time:[105]

"But parallel with the Conference and the daily lectures which its members are receiving on geography, ethnography, and history there are other councils at work, some publicly, others privately, which represent the vast masses who are in a greater hurry than the political world to have their urgent wants supplied. For they are the millions of Europe's inhabitants who care little about strategic frontiers and much about life's necessaries which they find it increasingly difficult to obtain. Only a visitor from a remote planet could fully realize the significance of the bewildering phenomena that meet one's gaze here every day without exciting wonder.... The sprightly people who form the rind of the politico-social world ... are wont to launch winged words and coin witty epigrams when characterizing what they irreverently term the efforts of the Peace Conference to square the circle; they contrast the noble intentions of the delegates with the grim realities of the workaday world, which appear to mock their praiseworthy exertions. They say that there never were so many wars as during the deliberations of these famous men of peace. Hard fighting is going on in Siberia; victories and defeats have just been reported from the Caucasus; battles between Bolshevists and peace-lovers are raging in Esthonia; blood is flowing in streams in the Ukraine; Poles and Czechs have only now signed an agreement to sheath swords until the Conference announces its verdict; the Poles and the Germans, the Poles and the Ukrainians, the Poles and the Bolshevists, are still decimating each other's forces on territorial fragments of what was once Russia, Germany, or Austria."

Sinister rumors were spread from time to time in Paris, London, and elsewhere, which, wherever they were credited, tended to shake public confidence not only in the dealings of the Supreme Council with the smaller countries, but also in the nature of the occult influences that were believed to be occasionally causing its decisions to swerve from the orthodox direction. And these reports were believed by many even in Conference circles. Time and again I was visited by delegates complaining that this or that decision was or would be taken in response to the promptings not of land-grabbing governments, but of wealthy capitalists or enterprising captains of industry. "Why do you suppose that there is so much talk now of an independent little state centering around Klagenfurt?" one of them asked me. "I will tell you: for the sake of some avaricious capitalists. Already arrangements are being pushed forward for the establishment of a bank of which most of the shares are to belong to X." Another said: "Dantzig is needed for politico-commercial reasons. Therefore it will not be made part of Poland.[106] Already conversations have begun with a view to giving the ownership of the wharves and various lucrative concessions to English-speaking pioneers of industry. If the city were Polish no such liens could be held on it because the state would provide everything needful and exploit its resources." The part played in the Banat Republic by motives of a money-making character is described elsewhere.

A friend and adviser of President Wilson publicly affirmed that the Fiume problem was twice on the point of being settled satisfactorily for all parties, when the representatives of commercial interests cleverly interposed their influence and prevented the scheme from going through in the Conference. I met some individuals who had been sent on a secret mission to have certain subjects taken into consideration by the Supreme Council, and a man was introduced to me whose aim was to obtain through the Conference a modification of financial legislation respecting the repayment of debts in a certain republic of South America. This optimist, however, returned as he had come and had nothing to show for his plans. The following significant passage appeared in a leading article in the principal American journal published in Paris[107] on the subject of the Prinkipo project and the postponement of its execution:

"From other sources it was learned that the doubts and delays in the matter are not due so much to the declination [sic] of several of the Russian groups to participate in a conference with the Bolshevists, but to the pulling against one another of the several interests represented by the Allies. Among the Americans a certain very influential group backed by powerful financial interests which hold enormously rich oil, mining, railway, and timber concessions, obtained under the old régime, and which purposes obtaining further concessions, is strongly in favor of recognizing the Bolshevists as a de facto government. In consideration of the visa of these old concessions by Lenin and Trotzky and the grant of new rights for the exploitation of rich mineral territory, they would be willing to finance the Bolshevists to the tune of forty or fifty million dollars. And the Bolshevists are surely in need of money. President Wilson and his supporters, it is declared, are decidedly averse from this pretty scheme."

That President Wilson would naturally set his face against any such deliberate compromise between Mammon and lofty ideals it was superfluous to affirm. He stood for a vast and beneficent reform and by exhorting the world to embody it in institutions awakened in some people—in the masses were already stirring—thoughts and feelings that might long have remained dormant. But beyond this he did not go. His tendencies, or, say, rather velleities—for they proved to be hardly more—were excellent, but he contrived no mechanism by which to convert them into institutions, and when pressed by gainsayers abandoned them.

An economist of mark in France whose democratic principles are well known[108] communicated to the French public the gist of certain curious documents in his possession. They let in an unpleasant light on some of the whippers-up of lucre at the expense of principle, who flocked around the dwelling-places of the great continent-carvers and lawgivers in Paris. His article bears this repellent heading: "Is it true that English and American financiers negotiated during the war in order to secure lucrative concessions from the Bolsheviki? Is it true that these concessions were granted to them on February 4, 1919? Is it true that the Allied governments played into their hands?"[109]

The facts alleged as warrants for these questions are briefly as follows: On February 4, 1919, the Soviet of the People's Commissaries in Moscow voted the bestowal of a concession for a railway linking Ob-Kotlass-Saroka and Kotlass-Svanka, in a resolution which states "(1) that the project is feasible; (2) that the transfer of the concession to representatives of foreign capital may be effected if production will be augmented thereby; (3) that the execution of this scheme is indispensable; and (4) that in order to accelerate this solution of the question the persons desirous of obtaining the concession shall be obliged to produce proofs of their contact with Allied and neutral enterprises, and of their capacity to financing the work and supply the materials requisite for the construction of the said line." On the other hand, it appears from an official document bearing the date of June 26, 1918, that a demand for the concession of this line was lodged by two individuals—the painter A.A. Borissoff (who many years ago received from me a letter of introduction to President Roosevelt asking him to patronize this gentleman's exhibition of paintings in the United States), and Herr Edvard Hannevig. Desirous of ascertaining whether these petitioners possessed the qualifications demanded, the Bolshevist authorities made inquiries and received from the Royal Norwegian Consulate at Moscow a certificate[110] setting forth that "citizen Hannevig was a co-associate of the large banks Hannevig situated in London and in America." Consequently negotiations might go forward. The document adds: "In October Borissoff and Hannevig renewed their request, whereupon the journals Pravda, Izevestia, and Ekonomitsheskaya Shizn discussed the subject with animation. At a sitting held on October 12th the project was approved with certain modifications, and on February 1, 1919, the Supreme Soviet of National Economy approved it anew."

The magnitude of the concession may be inferred from the circumstance that one of its clauses conceded "the exploitation of eight millions of forest land which even to-day, despite existing conditions, can bring in a revenue of three hundred million rubles a year."

What it comes to, therefore, assuming that these official documents are as they seem, based on facts, is that from June 26th, that is to say during the war, the Bolshevist government was petitioned to accord an important railway concession and also the exploitation of a forest capable of yielding three hundred million rubles a year to a Russian citizen who alleged that he was acting on behalf of English and American capitalists, and that Edvard Hannevig, having proved that he was really the mandatory of these great allied financiers, the concession was first approved by two successive commissions[111] and then definitely conferred by the Soviet of the People's Commissaries.[112]

The eminent author of the article proceeds to ask whether this can indeed be true; whether English and American capitalists petitioned the Bolsheviki for vast concessions during the war; whether they obtained them while the Conference was at its work and soldiers of their respective countries were fighting in Russia against the Bolsheviki who were bestowing them. "Is it true," he makes bold to ask further, "that that is the explanation of the incredible friendliness displayed by the Allied governments toward the Bolshevist bandits with whom they were willing to strike up a compromise, whom they were minded to recognize by organizing a conference on the Princes' Island?... Many times already rank-smelling whiffs of air have blown upon us; they suggested the belief that behind the Peace Conference there lurked not merely what people feared, but something still worse or an immense political Panama. If this is not true, gentlemen, deny it. Otherwise one day you will surely have an explosion."[113]

Whether these grave innuendoes, together with the statement made by Mr. George Herron,[114] the incident of the Banat Republic and the ultimatum respecting the oil-fields unofficially presented to the Rumanians suffice to establish a prima facie case may safely be left to the judgment of the public. The conscientious and impartial historian, however firm his faith in the probity of the men representing the powers, both of unlimited and limited interests, cannot pass them over in silence.

One of the shrewdest delegates in Paris, a man who allowed himself to be breathed upon freely by the old spirit of nationalism, but was capable withal of appreciating the passionate enthusiasm of others for a more altruistic dispensation, addressed me one evening as follows: "Say what you will, the Secret Council is a Council of Two, and the Covenant a charter conferred upon the English-speaking peoples for the government of the world. The design—if it be a design—may be excellent, but it is not relished by the other peoples. It is a less odious hegemony than that of imperialist Germany would have been, but it is a hegemony and odious. Surely in a quest of this kind after the most effectual means of overcoming the difficulties and obviating the dangers of international intercourse, more even than in the choice of a political régime, the principle of self-determination should be allowed free play. Was that not to have been one of the choicest fruits of victory? But no; force is being set in motion, professedly for the good of all, but only as their good is understood by the 'all-powerful Two.' And to all the others it is force and nothing more. Is it to be wondered at that there are so many discontented people or that some of them are already casting about for an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon hegemony misnamed the Society of Nations?"

It cannot be gainsaid that the two predominant partners behaved throughout as benevolent despots, to whom despotism came more easily than benevolence. As we saw, they kept their colleagues of the lesser states as much in the dark as the general public and claimed from them also implicit obedience to all their behests. They went farther and demanded unreasoning acquiescence in decisions to be taken in the future, and a promise of prompt acceptance of their injunctions—a pretension such as was never before put forward outside the Catholic Church, which, at any rate, claims infallibility. Asked why he had not put up a better fight for one of the states of eastern Europe, a sharp-tongued delegate irreverently made answer, "What more could you expect than I did, seeing that I was opposed by one colleague who looks upon himself as Napoleon and by another who believes himself to be the Messiah."

Among the many epigrammatic sayings current in Paris about the Conference, the most original was ascribed to the Emir Faissal, the son of the King of the Hedjaz. Asked what he thought of the world's areopagus, he is said to have answered: "It reminds me somewhat of one of the sights of my own country. My country, as you know, is the desert. Caravans pass through it that may be likened to the armies of delegates and experts at the Conference—caravans of great camels solemnly trudging along one after the other, each bearing its own load. They all move not whither they will, but whither they are led. For they have no choice. But between the two there is this difference: that whereas the big caravan in the desert has but one leader—a little ass—the Conference in Paris is led by two delegates who are the great Ones of the earth." In effect, the leaders were two, and no one can say which of them had the upper hand. Now it seemed to be the British Premier, now the American President. The former scored the first victory, on the freedom of the seas, before the Conference opened. The latter won the next, when Mr. Wilson firmly insisted on inserting the Covenant in the Treaty and finally overrode the objections of Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau, who scouted the idea for a while as calculated to impair the value of both charters. There was also a moment when the two were reported to have had a serious disagreement and Mr. Lloyd George, having suddenly quitted Paris for rustic seclusion, was likened to Achilles sulking in his tent. But one of the two always gave way at the last moment, just as both had given way to M. Clemenceau at the outset. When the difference between Japan and China cropped up, for example, the other delegates made Mr. Wilson their spokesman. Despite M. Clemenceau's resolve that the public should not "be apprized that the head of one government had ever put forward a proposal which was opposed by the head of another government," it became known that they occasionally disagreed among themselves, were more than once on the point of separating, and that at best their unanimity was often of the verbal order, failing to take root in identity of views. To those who would fain predicate political tact or statesmanship of the men who thus undertook to set human progress on a new and ethical basis, the story of these bickerings, hasty improvisations, and amazing compromises is distressing. The incertitude and suspense that resulted were disconcerting. Nobody ever knew what was coming. A subcommission might deliver a reasoned judgment on the question submitted to it, and this might be unanimously confirmed by the commission, but the Four or Three or Two or even One could not merely quash the report, but also reverse the practical consequences that followed. This was done over and over again.

And there were other performances still more amazing. When, for example, the Polish problem became so pressing that it could not be safely postponed any longer, the first delegates were at their wits' ends. Unable to agree on any of the solutions mooted, they conceived the idea of obtaining further data and a lead from a special commission. The commission was accordingly appointed. Among its members were Sir Esmé Howard, who has since become Ambassador in Rome, the American General Kernan, and M. Noulens, the ex-Ambassador of France in Petrograd. These envoys and their colleagues set out for Poland to study the problem on the spot. They exerted themselves to the utmost to gather data for a serious judgment, and returned to Paris after a sojourn of some two months, legitimately proud of the copious and well-sifted results of their research. And then they waited. Days passed and weeks, but nobody took the slightest interest in the envoys. They were ignored. At last the chief of the commission, M. Noulens, taking the initiative, wrote direct to M. Clemenceau, informing him that the task intrusted to him and his colleagues had been achieved, and requesting to be permitted to make their report to the Conference. The reply was an order dissolving the commission unheard.

Once when the relations between Messrs. Wilson and Lloyd George were somewhat spiced by antagonism of purpose and incompatibility of methods, a political friend of the latter urged him to make a firm stand. But the British Premier, feeling, perhaps, that there were too many unascertained elements in the matter, or identifying the President with the United States, drew back. More than once, too, when a certain delegate was stating his case with incisive emphasis Mr. Wilson, who was listening with attention and in silence, would suddenly ask, "Is this an ultimatum?" The American President himself never shrank from presenting an ultimatum when sure of his ground and morally certain of victory. On one such occasion a proposal had been made to Mr. Lloyd George, who approved it whole-heartedly. But it failed to receive the placet of the American statesman. Thereupon the British Premier was strongly urged to stand firm. But he recoiled, his plea being that he had received an ultimatum from his American colleague, who spoke of quitting France and withdrawing the American troops unless the point were conceded. And Mr. Wilson had his way. One might have thought that this success would hearten the President to other and greater achievements. But the leader who incarnated in his own person the highest strivings of the age, and who seemed destined to acquire pontifical ascendancy in a regenerated world, lacked the energy to hold his own when matters of greater moment and high principle were at stake.

These battles waged within the walls of the palace on the Quai d'Orsay were discussed out-of-doors by an interested and watchful public, and the conviction was profound and widespread that the President, having set his hand to the plow so solemnly and publicly, and having promised a harvest of far-reaching reforms, would not look back, however intractable the ground and however meager the crop. But confronted with serious obstacles, he flinched from his task, and therein, to my thinking, lay his weakness. If he had come prepared to assert his personal responsibility, to unfold his scheme, to have it amply and publicly discussed, to reject pusillanimous compromise in the sphere of execution, and to appeal to the peoples of the world to help him to carry it out, the last phase of his policy would have been worthy of the first, and might conceivably have inaugurated the triumph of the ideas which the indolent and the men of little faith rejected as incapable of realization. To this hardy course, which would have challenged the approbation of all that is best in the world, there was an alternative: Mr. Wilson might have confessed that his judgment was at fault, mankind not being for the moment in a fitting mood to practise the new tenets, that a speedy peace with the enemy was the first and most pressing duty, and that a world-parliament should be convened for a later date to prepare the peoples of the universe for the new ordering. But he chose neither alternative. At first it was taken for granted that in the twilight of the Conference hall he had fought valiantly for the principles which he had propounded as the groundwork of the new politico-social fabric, and that it was only when he found himself confronted with the insuperable antagonism of his colleagues of France and Britain that he reluctantly receded from his position and resolved to show himself all the more unbending to the envoys of the lesser countries. But this assumption was refuted by State-Secretary Lansing, who admitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the President's Fourteen Points, which he had vowed to carry out, were not even discussed at the Conference. The outcome of this attitude—one cannot term it a policy—was to leave the best of the ideas which he stood for in solution, to embitter every ally except France and Britain, and to scatter explosives all over the world.

To this dwarfing parliamentary view of world-policy Mr. Lloyd George likewise fell a victim. But his fault was not so glaring. For it should in fairness be remembered that it was not he who first preached the advent of the millennium. He had only given it a tardy and cold assent, qualified by an occasional sally of keen pleasantry. Down to the last moment, as we saw, he not only was unaware that the Covenant would be inserted in the Peace Treaty, but he was strongly of the opinion, as indeed were M. Pichon and others, that the two instruments were incompatible. He also apparently inclined to the belief that spiritual and moral agencies, if not wholly impotent to bring about the requisite changes in the politico-social world, could not effect the transformation for a long while to come, and that in the interval it behooved the governments to fall back upon the old system of so-called equilibrium, which, after Germany's collapse, meant an informal kind of Anglo-Saxon overlordship of the world and a pax Britannica in Europe. As for his action at the Conference, in so far as it did not directly affect the well-being of the British Empire, which was his first and main care, one might describe it as one of general agreement with Mr. Wilson. He actually threw it into that formula when he said that whenever the interests of the British Empire permitted he would like to find himself at one with the United States. It was on that occasion that the person addressed warned him against identifying the President with the people of the United States.

In truth, it was difficult to follow the distinguished American idealist, because one seldom knew whither he would lead. Neither, apparently, did he himself. Some of his own countrymen in Paris held that he had always been accustomed to follow, never to guide. Certainly at the Conference his practice was to meet the more powerful of his contradictors on their own ground and come to terms with them, so as to get at least a part of what he aimed at, and that he accepted, even when the instalment was accorded to him not as such, but as a final settlement. So far as one can judge by his public acts and by the admissions of State-Secretary Lansing, he cannot have seriously contemplated staking the success of his mission on the realization of his Fourteen Points. The manner in which he dealt with his Covenant, with the French demand for concrete military guaranties and with secret treaties, all afford striking illustrations of his easy temper. Before quitting Paris for Washington he had maintained that the Covenant as drafted was satisfactory, nay, he contended that "not even a period could be changed in the agreement." The Monroe Doctrine, he held, needed no special stipulation. But as soon as Senator Lodge and others took issue with him on the subject, he shifted his position and hedged that doctrine round with defenses which cut off a whole continent from the purview of the League, which is nothing if not cosmic in its functions.[115] Again, there was to be no alliance. The French Premier foretold that there would be one. Mr. Wilson, who was in England at the time, answered him in a speech declaring that the United States would enter into no alliance which did not include all the world: "no combination of power which is not a combination of all of us." Well, since then he became a party to a kind of triple alliance and in the judgment of many observers it constitutes the main result of the Conference. In the words of an American press organ: "Clemenceau got virtually everything he asked. President Wilson virtually dropped his own program, and adopted the French and British, both of them imperialistic."[116]

Again, when the first commission of experts reported upon the frontiers of Poland, the British Premier objected to a section of the "corridor," on the ground that as certain districts contained a majority of Germans their annexation would be a danger to the future peace and therefore to Poland herself, and also on the ground that it would run counter to one of Mr. Wilson's fundamental points; the President, who at that time dissented from Mr. Lloyd George, rose and remarked that his principles must not be construed too literally. "When I said that Poland must be restored, I meant that everything indispensable to her restoration must be accorded. Therefore, if that should involve the incorporation of a number of Germans in Polish territory, it cannot be helped, for it is part of the restoration. Poland must have access to the sea by the shortest route, and everything else which that implies." None the less, the British Premier, whose attitude toward the claims of the Poles was marked by a degree of definiteness and persistency which could hardly be anticipated in one who had never even heard of Teschen before the year 1919, maintained his objections with emphasis and insistence, until Mr. Wilson and M. Clemenceau gave in.

Or take the President's way of dealing with the non-belligerent states. Before leaving Paris for Washington, Mr. Wilson, officially questioned by one of his colleagues at an official sitting as to whether the neutrals would also sign the Covenant, replied that only the Allies would be admitted to affix their signatures. "Don't you think it would be more conducive to the firm establishment of the League if the neutrals were also made parties to it now?" insisted the plenipotentiary. "No, I do not," answered the President. "I think that it would be conferring too much honor on them, and they don't deserve it." The delegate was unfavorably impressed by this reply. It seemed lacking in breadth of view. Still, it was tenable on certain narrow, formal grounds. But what he could not digest was the eagerness with which Mr. Wilson, on his return from Washington, abandoned his way of thinking and adopted the opposite view. Toward the end of April the delegates and the world were surprised to learn that not only would Spain be admitted to the orthodox fold, but that she would have a voice in the management of the flock with a seat in the Council. The chief of the Portuguese delegation[117] at once delivered a trenchant protest against this abrupt departure from principle, and as a jurisconsult stigmatized the promotion of Spain to a voice in the Council as an irregularity, and then retired in high dudgeon.

Thus the grave reproach cannot be spared Mr. Wilson of having been weak, vague, and inconsistent with himself. He constituted himself the supreme judge of a series of intricate questions affecting the organization and tranquillity of the European Continent, as he had previously done in the case of Mexico, with the results we know. This authority was accorded to him—with certain reservations—in virtue of the exalted position which he held in a state disposing of vast financial and economic resources, shielded from some of the dangers that continually overhang European nations, and immune from the immediate consequences of the mistakes it might commit in international politics. For every continental people in Europe is in some measure dependent on the good-will of the United States, and therefore anxious to deserve it by cultivating the most friendly relations with its chief. This predisposition on the part of his wards was an asset that could have been put to good account. It was a guaranty of a measure of success which would have satisfied a generous ambition; it would have enabled him to effect by a wise policy what revolution threatened to accomplish by violence, and to canalize and lead to fruitful fields the new-found strength of the proletarian masses.

The compulsion of working with others is often a wholesome corrective. It helps one to realize the need of accommodating measures to people's needs. But Mr. Wilson deliberately segregated himself from the nations for whose behoof he was laboring, and from some of their authorized representatives. And yet the aspirations and conceptions of a large section of the masses differed very considerably from those of the two statesmen with whom he was in close collaboration. His avowed aims were at the opposite pole to those of his colleagues. To reconcile internationalism and nationalism was sheer impossible. Yet instead of upholding his own, taking the peoples into his confidence, and sowing the good seed which would certainly have sprouted up in the fullness of time, he set himself, together with his colleagues, to weld contradictories and contributed to produce a synthesis composed of disembodied ideas, disintegrated communities, embittered nations, conflicting states, frenzied classes, and a seething mass of discontent throughout the world.

Mr. Wilson has fared ill with his critics, who, when in quest of explanations of his changeful courses, sought for them, as is the wont of the average politician, in the least noble parts of human nature. In his case they felt especially repelled by his imperial aloofness, the secrecy of his deliberations, and the magisterial tone of his judgments, even when these were in flagrant contradiction with one another. Obstinacy was also included among the traits which were commonly ascribed to him. As a matter of fact he was a very good listener, an intelligent questioner, and amenable to argument whenever he felt free to give practical effect to the conclusions. When this was not the case, arguments necessarily failed of their effect, and on these occasions considerations of expediency proved a lever sufficient to sway his decision. But, like his more distinguished colleagues, he had to rely upon counsel from outside, and in his case, as in theirs, the official adviser was not always identical with the real prompter. He, too, as we saw, set aside the findings of the commissions when they disagreed with his own. In a word, Mr. Wilson's fatal stumble was to have sacrificed essentials in order to score on issues of secondary moment; for while success enabled him to obtain his paper Covenant from his co-delegates in Paris, and to bring back tangible results to Washington, it lost him the leadership of the world. The cost of this deplorable weakness to mankind can be estimated only after its worst effects have been added up and appraised.

In matters affecting the destinies of the lesser states Mr. Wilson was firm as a rock. Prom the position once taken up nothing could move him. Their economic dependence on his own country rendered their arguments pointless and lent irresistible force to his injunctions. Greece's dispute with Bulgaria was a classic instance. The Bulgars repaired to Paris more as claimants in support of indefeasible rights than as vanquished enemies summoned to learn the conditions imposed on them by the nations which they had betrayed and assailed. Victory alone could have justified their territorial pretensions; defeat made them grotesque. All at once, however, it was bruited abroad that President Wilson had become Bulgaria's intercessor and favored certain of her exorbitant claims. One of these was for the annexation of part of the coast of western Thrace, together with a seaport at the expense of the Greeks, the race which had resided on the seaboard for twenty-five hundred consecutive years. M. Venizelos offered them instead one commercial outlet[118] and special privileges in another, and the plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, France, and Japan considered the offer adequate.

But Mr. Wilson demurred. A commercial outlet through foreign territory, he said, might possibly be as good as a direct outlet through one's own territory in peace-time, but not in time of war, and, after all, one must bear in mind the needs of a country during hostilities. In the mouth of the champion of universal peace that was an unexpected argument. It had been employed by Italy in favor of her claim to Fiume. Mr. Wilson then met it by invoking the economic requirements of Jugoslavia, and by declaring that the Treaty was being devised for peace, not for war, that the League of Nations would hinder wars, or at the very least supply the deficiencies of those states which had sacrificed strategical positions for humanitarian aims. But in the case of Bulgaria he was taking what seems the opposite position and transgressing his own principle of nationality in order to maintain it.

Mr. Wilson, pursuing his line of argument, further pointed out that the Supreme Council had not accepted as sufficient for Poland an outlet through German territory, but had created the city-state of Dantzig in order to confer a greater degree of security upon the Polish republic. To that M. Venizelos replied that there was no parity between the two instances. Poland had no outlet to the sea except through Dantzig, and could not, therefore, allow that one to remain in the hands of an unfriendly nation, whereas Bulgaria already possessed two very commodious ports, Varna and Burgas, on the Black Sea, which becomes a free sea in virtue of the internationalization of the straits. The possession of a third outlet on the Ægean could not, therefore, be termed a vital question for his protégée. Thus the comparison with Poland was irrelevant.

If Poland, which is a very much greater state than Bulgaria, can live and prosper with a single port, and that not her own—if Rumania, which is also a much more numerous and powerful nation, can thrive with a single issue to the sea, by what line of argument, M. Venizelos asked, can one prove that little Bulgaria requires three or four exits, and that her need justifies the abandonment to her tender mercies of seven hundred and fifty thousand Greeks and the violation of one of the fundamental principles underlying the new moral ordering.

Compliance with Bulgaria's demand would prevent Greece from including within her boundaries the three-quarters of a million Greeks who have dwelt in Thrace for twenty-five centuries, preserving their nationality intact through countless disasters and tremendous cataclysms. Further, the Greek Premier, taking a leaf from Wilson's book, turned to the aspect which the problem would assume in war-time. Bulgaria, he argued, is essentially a continental state, whose defense does not depend upon naval strength, whereas Greece contains an island population of nearly a million and a half and looks for protection against aggression chiefly to naval precautions. In case of war, Bulgaria, if her claim to an issue on the Ægean were allowed, could with her submarines delay or hinder the transport and concentration in Macedonia of Greek forces from the islands and thus place Greece in a position of dangerous inferiority.

Lastly, if Greece's claims in Thrace were rejected, she would have a population of 1,790,000 souls outside her national boundaries—that is to say, more than one-third of the population which is within her state. Would this be fair? Of the total population of Bulgarian and Turkish Thrace the Turks and Greeks together form 85 per cent., the Bulgars only 6 per cent., and the latter nowhere in compact masses. Moreover—and this ought to have clinched the matter—the Hellenic population formed an absolute as well as a relative majority in the year 1919.

These arguments and various other considerations drawn from the inordinate ambitions, the savage cruelty,[119] and the Punic faith of the Bulgars convinced the British, French, and Japanese delegates of the soundness of Greece's pleas, and they sided with M. Venizelos. But Mr. Wilson clung to his idea with a tenacity which could not be justified by argument, and was concurrently explained by motives irrelevant to the merits of the case. Whether the influence of Bulgarophil American missionaries and strong religious leanings were at the root of his insistence, as was generally assumed, or whether other considerations weighed with him, is immaterial. And yet it is worth recording that a Bulgarian journal[120] announced with the permission of the governmental censor that the American missionaries in Bulgaria and the professors of Robert College of Constantinople had so primed the American delegates at the Conference on the question of Thrace, and generally on the Bulgarian problem, that all M. Venizelos's pains to convince them of the justice of his contention would be lost labor."[121]

However this may be, Mr. Wilson's attitude was the subject of adverse comment throughout Europe. His implied claim to legislate for the world and to take over its moral leadership earned for him the epithet of "Dictator," and provoked such epigrammatic comments among his own countrymen and the French as this: "Louis XIV said, 'I am the state!' Mr. Wilson, outdoing him, exclaimed, 'I am all the states!'"

The necessity of winning over dissentient colleagues to his grandiose scheme of world reorganization and of satisfying their demands, which were of a nature to render that scheme abortive, was the most influential agency in impairing his energies and upsetting his plans. This remark assumes what unhappily seems a fact, that those plans were mainly mechanical. It is certain that they made no provision for directly influencing the masses, for giving them sympathetic guidance, and enabling them to suffuse with social sentiments the aspirations and strivings which were chiefly of the materialistic order, with a view to bringing about a spiritual transformation of the social basis. Indeed we have no evidence that the need of such a transformation of the basis of political thought, which was still rooted in the old order, was grasped by any of those who set their hand to the legislative part of the work.

These unfavorable impressions were general. Almost every step subsequently taken by the Conference confirmed them, and long before the Treaty was presented to the Germans, public confidence was gone in the ability of the Supreme Council to attain any of the moral victories over militarism, race-hatred, and secret intrigues which its leaders had encouraged the world to expect.

"The leaders of the Conference," wrote an influential press organ,[122] "are under suspicion. They may not know it, but it is true. The suspicion is doubtless unjust, but it exists. What exists is a fact; and men who ignore facts are not statesmen. The only way to deal with facts is to face them. The more unpleasant they are the more they need to be faced.

"Some of the Conference leaders are suspected of having, at various times and in various circumstances, thought more of their own personal and political positions and ambitions than of the rapid and practical making of peace. They are suspected, in a word, of a tendency to subordinate policy to politics.

"In regard to some important matters they are suspected of having no policy. They are also suspected of unwillingness to listen to their own competent advisers, who could lay down for them a sound policy. Some of them are even suspected of being under the spell of some benumbing influence that paralyzes their will and befogs their minds, when high resolve and clear visions are needful."

Another accusation of the same tenor was thus formulated: "In various degrees[123] and with different qualities of guilt all the Allied and Associated leaders have dallied with dishonesty. While professing to seek naught save the welfare of mankind, they have harbored thoughts of self-interest. The result has been a progressive loss of faith in them by their own peoples severally, and by the Allied, Associated, and neutral peoples jointly. The tide of public trust in them has reached its lowest ebb."

At the Conference, as we saw, the President of the United States possessed what was practically a veto on nearly all matters which left the vital interests of Britain and France intact. And he frequently exercised it. Thus the dispute about the Thracian settlement lay not between Bulgaria and Greece, nor between Greece and the Supreme Council, but between Greece and Mr. Wilson. In the quarrel over Fiume and the Dalmatian coast it was the same. When the Shantung question came up for settlement it was Mr. Wilson alone who dealt with it, his colleagues, although bound by their promises to support Japan, having made him their mouthpiece. The rigor he displayed in dealing with some of the smaller countries was in inverse ratio to the indulgence he practised toward the Great Powers. Not only were they peremptorily bidden to obey without discussion the behests which had been brought to their cognizance, but they were ordered, as we saw, to promise to execute other injunctions which might be issued by the Supreme Council on certain matters in the future, the details of which were necessarily undetermined.

In order to stifle any velleities of resistance on the part of their governments, they were notified that America's economic aid, of which they were in sore need, would depend on their docility. It is important to remember that it was the motive thus clearly presented that determined their formal assent to a policy which they deprecated. A Russian statesman summed up the situation in the words: "It is an illustration of one of our sayings, 'Whose bread I eat, his songs I sing.'" Thus it was reported in July that an agreement come to by the financial group Morgan with an Italian syndicate for a yearly advance to Italy of a large sum for the purchase of American food and raw stuffs was kept in abeyance until the Italian delegation should accept such a solution of the Adriatic problem as Mr. Wilson could approve. The Russian and anti-Bolshevists were in like manner compelled to give their assent to certain democratic dogmas and practices. It is also fair, however, to bear in mind that whatever one may think of the wisdom of the policy pursued by the President toward these peoples, the motives that actuated it were unquestionably admirable, and the end in view was their own welfare, as he understood it. It is all the more to be regretted that neither the arguments nor the example of the autocratic delegates were calculated to give these the slightest influence over the thought or the unfettered action of their unwilling wards. The arrangements carried out were entirely mechanical.

In the course of time after the vital interests of Britain, France, and Japan had been disposed of, and only those of the "lesser states," in the more comprehensive sense of this term, remained, President Wilson exercised supreme power, wielding it with firmness and encountering no gainsayer. Thus the peace between Italy and Austria was put off from month to month because he—and only he—among the members of the Supreme Council rejected the various projects of an arrangement. Into the merits of this dispute it would be unfruitful to enter. That there was much to be said for Mr. Wilson's contention, from the point of view of the League of Nations, and also from that of the Jugoslavs, will not be denied. That some of the main arguments to which he trusted his case were invalidated by the concessions which he had made to other countries was Italy's contention, and it cannot be thrust aside as untenable.

At last Mr. Wilson ventured on a step which challenged the attention and stirred the disquietude of his friends. He despatched a note[124] to Turkey, warning her that if the massacres of Armenians were not discontinued he would withdraw the twelfth of his Fourteen Points, which provides for the maintenance of Turkish sovereignty over undeniable Turkish territories. The intention was excellent, but the necessary effects of his action were contrary to what the President can have aimed at. He had not consulted the Conference on the important change which he was about to make respecting a point which was supposed to be part of the groundwork of the new ordering. This from the Conference point of view was a momentous decision, which could be taken only with the consent of the Supreme Council. Even as a mere threat it was worthless if it did not stand for the deliberate will of that body which the President had deemed it superfluous to consult. As it happened, the British authorities were just then organizing a body of gendarmes to police the Turkish territories in question, and they were engaged in this work with the knowledge and approval of the Supreme Council. Mr. Wilson's announcement could therefore only be construed—and was construed—as the act of an authority superior to that of the Council.[125] The Turks, who are shrewd observers, must have drawn the obvious conclusion from these divergent measures as to the degree of harmony prevailing among the Allied and Associated Powers.

M. Clemenceau had a conversation on the subject with Mr. Polk, who explained that the note was informal and given verbally, and conveyed the idea only of one nation in connection with the Armenian situation. This explanation, accepted by the French government, did not commend itself to public opinion, either in France or elsewhere. Moreover, the French were struck by another aspect of this arbitrary exercise of supreme power. "President Wilson," wrote an eminent French publicist, "throws himself into the attitude of a man who can bind and loose the Turkish Empire at the very moment when the Senate appears opposed to accepting any mandate, European or Asiatic, at the moment when Mr. Lansing declares to the Congress that the government of which he is a member does not desire to accept any mandate. But is it not obvious that if Mr. Wilson sovereignly determines the lot of Turkey he can be held in consequence to the performance of certain duties? We have often had to deplore the absence of policy common to the Allies. But has each one of them, considered separately, at least a policy of its own? Does it take action otherwise than at haphazard, yielding to the impulse of a general, a consul, or a missionary?"[126]

It soon became manifest even to the most obtuse that whenever the Supreme Council, following its leaders and working on such lines as these, terminated its labors, the ties between the political communities of Europe would be just as flimsy as in the unregenerate days of secret diplomacy, secret alliances, and secret intrigues, unless in the meanwhile the peoples themselves intervened to render them stronger and more enduring. It would, however, be the height of unfairness to make Mr. Wilson alone answerable for this untoward ending to a far resonant beginning. He had been accused by the press of most countries of enwrapping personal ambition in the attractive covering of disinterestedness and altruism, just as many of his foreign colleagues were said to go in fear of the "malady of lost power." But charges of this nature overstep the bounds of legitimate criticism. Motive is hardly ever visible, nor is it often deducible from deliberate action. If, for example, one were to infer from the vast territorial readjustments and the still vaster demands of the various belligerents at the Conference, the motives that had determined them to enter the war, the conclusion—except in the case of the American people, whose disinterestedness is beyond the reach of cavil—would indeed be distressing. The President of the United States merited well of all nations by holding up to them an ideal for realization, and the mere announcement of his resolve to work for it imparted an appreciable if inadequate incentive to men of good-will. The task, however, was so gigantic that he cannot have gaged its magnitude, discerned the defects of the instruments, nor estimated aright the force of the hindrances before taking the world to witness that he would achieve it. Even with the hearty co-operation of ardent colleagues and the adoption of a sound method he could hardly have hoped to do more than clear the ground—perhaps lay the foundation-stone—of the structure he dreamt of. But with the partners whom circumstance allotted him, and the gainsayers whom he had raised up and irritated in his own country, failure was a foregone conclusion from the first. The aims after which most of the European governments strove were sheer incompatible with his own. Doubtless they all were solicitous about the general good, but their love for it was so general and so diluted with attachment to others' goods as to be hardly discernible. The reproach that can hardly be spared to Mr. Wilson, however, is that of pusillanimity. If his faith in the principles he had laid down for the guidance of nations were as intense as his eloquent words suggested, he would have spurned the offer of a sequence of high-sounding phrases in lieu of a resettlement of the world. And his appeal to the peoples would most probably have been heard. The beacon once lighted in Paris would have been answered in almost every capital of the world. One promise he kept religiously: he did not return to Washington without a paper covenant. Is it more? Is it merely a paradox to assert that as war was waged in order to make war impossible, so a peace was made that will render peace impossible?

FOOTNOTES:

[91] In March.

[92] Quoted by The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 10, 1919.

[93] Delivered at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on March 4, 1919.

[94] The New York Herald, March 19, 1919 (Paris edition).

[95] Cf. The New York Herald, July 8, 1919.

[96] The semi-official journals manifested a steady tendency to lean toward the Republican opposition in the United States, down to the month of August, when the amendments proposed by various Senators bade fair to jeopardize the Treaties and render the promised military succor doubtful.

[97] Journal de Genève, May 18, 1919.

[98] The New York Herald (Paris edition), August 14, 1919.

[99] Cf. Paris papers of February 2, 1919, and The Public Ledger (Philadelphia), February 4, 1919.

[100] Cf. L'Echo de Paris, April 19, 1919.

[101] In April, 1919.

[102] About April 10,1919.

[103] On March 19, 1919.

[104] Cf. my cablegram published in The Public Ledger (Philadelphia), January 12, 1919.

[105] Cf. The Public Ledger (Philadelphia), February 5, 1919.

[106] Doctor Bunke, Councilor at the court of Dantzig, endeavors in The Dantzig Neueste Nachrichten to prove that the problem of Dantzig was solved exclusively in the interests of the Naval Powers, America and Britain, who need it as a basis for their commerce with Poland, Russia, and Germany. Cf. also Le Temps, August 23, 1919

[107] The New York Herald (Paris edition), March 1, 1919.

[108] Lysis, author of Demain, and many other remarkable studies of economic problems, and editor of Le Démocratie Nouvelle, May 30, 1919.

[109] For an account of analogous bargainings with Bela Kuhn, see the Chapter on Rumania.

[110] Bearing the number 3882.

[111] On October 12, 1918, and February 1, 1919

[112] On February 4, 1919.

[113] La Démocratie Nouvelle, May 30, 1919

[114] See his admirable article in The New York Herald (Paris edition) of May 21, 1919, from which the following extract is worth quoting: "I have said that certain great forces have steadily and occultly worked for a German peace. But I mean, in fact, one force—an international finance to which all other forces hostile to the freedom of nations and of the individual soul are contributory. The influence of this finance had permeated the Conference, delaying the decisions as long as possible, increasing divisions between people and people, between class and class, between peace-makers and peace-makers, in order to achieve two definite ends, which two ends are one and the same.

"The first end was so to manipulate the minds of the peace-makers, of their hordes of retainers and 'experts,' as to bring about, if possible, a peace that would not be destructive to industrial Germany. The second end was so to delay the Russian question, so to complicate and thwart every proposed solution, that, at last, either during or after the Peace Conference, a recognition of the Bolshevist power as the de facto government of Russia would be the only possible solution."

[115] "What confidence can be commanded by men who, asserting one week that the ultimate of human wisdom has been attained in a document, confess the next week that the document is frail? When are we to believe that their confessions are at an end?"—The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 23, 1919.

[116] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), July 31, 1919.

[117] M. Affonso Costa, who shortly before had succeeded the Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Monas Egiz.

[118] Dedeagatch.

[119] See Rapports et Enquêtes de la Commission Interalliée sur les Violations du droit des gens commises en Macédoine Orientale par les armées bulgares. The conclusion of the report is one of the most terrible indictments ever drawn up by impartial investigators against what is practically a whole people.

[120] Zora, August 11th. Cf. Le Temps, August 28, 1919.

[121] Mr. Charles House published a statement in the press of Saloniki to the effect that the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions forbids missionaries to take an active part in politics. He added that if this injunction was transgressed—and in Paris the current belief was that it had been—it would not be tolerated by the Missionary Board, nor recognized by the American government.

[122] The Daily Mail (Paris edition), March 31, 1919.

[123] The Daily Mail (Paris edition), April 6, 1919.

[124] Somewhere between August 17 and 20, 1919. It was transmitted by Admiral Bristol, American member of the Inter-Allied Inquiry Mission at Smyrna.

[125] Cf. L'Echo de Paris, August 28, 1919. Article by Pertinax.

[126] L'Echo de Paris, August 28, 1919. Article by Pertinax.


VI

THE LESSER STATES

Before the Anglo-Saxon statesmen thus set themselves to rearrange the complex of interests, forces, policies, nationalities, rights, and claims which constituted the politico-social world of 1919, they were expected to deal with all the Allied and Associated nations, without favor or prejudice, as members of one family. This expectation was not fulfilled. It may not have been warranted. From the various discussions and decisions of which we have knowledge, a number of delegates drew the inference that France was destined for obvious reasons to occupy the leading position in continental Europe, under the protection of Anglo-Saxondom; and that a privileged status was to be conferred on the Jews in eastern Europe and in Palestine, while the other states were to be in the leading-strings of the Four. This view was not lightly expressed, however inadequately it may prove to have been then supported by facts. As to the desirability of forming this rude hierarchy of states, the principal plenipotentiaries were said to have been in general agreement, although responding to different motives. There was but one discordant voice—that of France—who was opposed to the various limitations set to Poland's aggrandizement, and also to the clause placing the Jews under the direct protection of the League of Nations, and investing them with privileges in which the races among whom they reside are not allowed to participate. Bulgaria had a position unique in her class, for she was luckier than most of her peers in having enlisted on her side the American delegation and Mr. Wilson as leading counsel and special pleader for her claim to an outlet to the Ægean Sea.

At the Conference each state was dealt with according to its class. Entirely above the new law, as we saw, stood its creators, the Anglo-Saxons. To all the others, including the French, the Wilsonian doctrine was applied as fully as was compatible with its author's main object, the elaboration of an instrument which he could take back with him to the United States as the great world settlement. Within these limits the President was evidently most anxious to apply his Fourteen Points, but he kept well within these. Thus he would, perhaps, have been quite ready to insist on the abandonment by Britain of her supremacy on the seas, on a radical change in the international status of Egypt and Ireland, and much else, had these innovations been compatible with his own special object. But they were not. He was apparently minded to test the matter by announcing his resolve to moot the problem of the freedom of the seas, but when admonished by the British government that it would not even brook its mention, he at once gave it up and, presumably drawing the obvious inference from this downright refusal, applied it to the Irish, Egyptian, and other issues, which were forthwith eliminated from the category of open or international problems. But France's insistent demand, on the other hand, for the Rhine frontier met with an emphatic refusal.[127]

The social reformer is disheartened by the one-sided and inexorable way in which maxims proclaimed to be of universal application were restricted to the second-class nations.

Russia's case abounds in illustrations of this arbitrary, unjust, and impolitic pressure. The Russians had been our allies. They had fought heroically at the time when the people of the United States were, according to their President, "too proud to fight." They were essential factors in the Allies' victory, and consequently entitled to the advantages and immunities enjoyed by the Western Powers. In no case ought they to have been placed on the same level as our enemies, and in lieu of recompense condemned to punishment. And yet this latter conception of their deserts was not wholly new. Soon after their defection, and when the Allies were plunged in the depths of despondency, a current of opinion made itself felt among certain sections of the Allied peoples tending to the conclusion of peace on the basis of compensations to Germany, to be supplied by the cession of Russian territory. This expedient was advocated by more than one statesman, and was making headway when fresh factors arose which bade fair to render it needless.

At the Paris Conference the spirit of this conception may still have survived and prompted much that was done and much that was left unattempted. Russia was under a cloud. If she was not classed as an enemy she was denied the consideration reserved for the Allies and the neutrals. Her integrity was a matter of indifference to her former friends; almost every people and nationality in the Russian state which asked for independence found a ready hearing at the Supreme Council. And some of them before they had lodged any such claim were encouraged to lose no time in asking for separation. In one case a large sum of money and a mission were sent to "create the independent state of the Ukraine," so impatient were peoples in the West to obtain a substitute for the Russian ally whom they had lost in the East, and great was their consternation when their protégés misspent the funds and made common cause with the Teutons.

Disorganized Russia was in some ways a godsend to the world's administrators in Paris. To the advocate of alliances, territorial equilibrium, and the old order of things it offered a facile means of acquiring new helpmates in the East by emancipating its various peoples in the name of right and justice. It held out to the capitalists who deplored the loss of their milliards a potential source whence part of that loss might be made good.[128] To the zealots of the League of Nations it offered an unresisting body on which all the requisite operations from amputation to trepanning might be performed without the use of anesthetics.

The various border states of Russia were thus quietly lopped off without even the foreknowledge, much less the assent, of the patient, and without any pretense at plebiscites. Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Georgia were severed from the chaotic Slav state offhandedly, and the warrant was the doctrine propounded by President Wilson—that every people shall be free to choose its own mode of living and working. Every people? Surely not, remarked unbiased onlookers. The Egyptians, the Irish, the Austrians, the Persians, to name but four among many, are disqualified for the exercise of these indefeasible rights. Perhaps with good reason? Then modify the doctrine. Why this difference of treatment? they queried. Is it not because the supreme judge knows full well that Great Britain would not brook the discussion of the Egyptian or the Irish problem, and that France, in order to feel quite secure, must hinder the Austrian-Germans from coalescing with their brethren of the Reich? But if Britain and France have the right to veto every self-denying measure that smacks of disruption or may involve a sacrifice, why is Russia bereft of it? If the principle involved be of any value at all, its application must be universal. To an equal all-round distribution of sacrifice the only alternative is the supremacy of force in the service of arbitrary rule. And to this force, accordingly, the Supreme Council had recourse. The only cases in which it seriously vindicated the rights of oppressed or dissatisfied peoples to self-determination against the will of the ruling race or nation were those in which that race or nation was powerless to resist. Whenever Britain or France's interests were deemed to be imperiled by the putting in force of any of the Fourteen Points, Mr. Wilson desisted from its application. Thus it came about that Russia was put on the same plane with Germany and received similar, in some respects, indeed, sterner, treatment. The Germans were at least permitted to file objections to the conditions imposed and to point out flaws in the arrangements drafted, and their representations sometimes achieved their end. It was otherwise with the Russians. They were never consulted. And when their representatives in Paris respectfully suggested that all such changes as might be decided upon by the Great Powers during their country's political disablement should be taken to be provisional and be referred for definite settlement to the future constituent assembly, the request was ignored.

Of psychological rather than political interest was Mr. Wilson's conscientious hesitation as to whether the nationalities which he was preparing to liberate were sufficiently advanced to be intrusted with self-government. As stated elsewhere, his first impulse would seem to have been to appoint mandatories to administer the territories severed from Russia. The mandatory arrangement under the ubiquitous League is said to have been his own. Presumably he afterward acquired the belief that the system might be wisely dispensed with in the case of some of Russia's border states, for they soon afterward received promises of independence and implicitly of protection against future encroachments by a resuscitated Russia.

In this connection a scene is worth reproducing which was enacted at the Peace Table before the system of administering certain territories by proxy was fully elaborated. At one of the sittings the delegates set themselves to determine what countries should be thus governed,[129] and it was understood that the mandatory system was to be reserved for the German colonies and certain provinces of the Turkish Empire. But in the course of the conversation Mr. Wilson casually made use of the expression, "The German colonies, the territories of the Turkish Empire and other territories." One of the delegates promptly put the question, "What other territories?" to which the President replied, unhesitatingly, "Those of the late Russian Empire." Then he added by way of explanation: "We are constantly receiving petitions from peoples who lived hitherto under the scepter of the Tsars—Caucasians, Central Asiatic peoples, and others—who refuse to be ruled any longer by the Russians and yet are incapable of organizing viable independent states of their own. It is meet that the desires of these nations should be considered." At this the Czech delegate, Doctor Kramarcz, flared up and exclaimed: "Russia? Cut up Russia? But what about her integrity? Is that to be sacrificed?" But his words died away without evoking a response. "Was there no one," a Russian afterward asked, "to remind those representatives of the Great Powers of their righteous wrath with Germany when the Brest-Litovsk treaty was promulgated?"

Toward Italy, who, unlike Russia, was not treated as an enemy, but as relegated to the category of lesser states, the attitude of President Wilson was exceptionally firm and uncompromising. On the subject of Fiume and Dalmatia he refused to yield an inch. In vain the Italian delegation argued, appealed, and lowered its claims. Mr. Wilson was adamant. It is fair to admit that in no other way could he have contrived to get even a simulacrum of a League. Unless the weak states were awed into submitting to sacrifices for the great aim which he had made his own, he must return to Washington as the champion of a manifestly lost cause. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that his thesis was not destitute of arguments to support it. Accordingly the deadlock went on for months, until the Italian Cabinet fell and people wearied of the Adriatic problems.

Poland was another of the communities which had to bend before Anglo-Saxon will, represented in her case mainly by Mr. Lloyd George, not, however, without the somewhat tardy backing of his colleague from Washington. It is important for the historian and the political student to observe that as the British Premier was not credited with any profound or original ideas about the severing or soldering of east European territories, the authorship of the powerful and successful opposition to the allotting of Dantzig to Poland was rightly or wrongly ascribed not to him, but to what is euphemistically termed "international finance" lurking in the background, whose interest in Poland was obviously keen, and whose influence on the Supreme Council, although less obvious, was believed to be far-reaching. The same explanation was currently suggested for the fixed resolve of Mr. Lloyd George not to assign Upper Silesia to Poland without a plebiscite. His own account of the matter was that although the inhabitants were Polish—they are as two to one compared with the Germans—it was conceivable that they entertained leanings toward the Germans, and might therefore desire to throw in their lot with these. When one compares this scrupulous respect for the likes and dislikes of the inhabitants of that province with the curt refusal of the same men at first to give ear to the ardent desire of the Austrians to unite with the Germans, or to abide by a plebiscite of the inhabitants of Fiume or Teschen, one is bewildered. The British Premier's wish was opposed by the official body of experts appointed to report on the matter. Its members had no misgivings. The territory, they said, belonged of right to Poland, the great majority of its population was unquestionably Polish, and the practical conclusion was that it should be handed over to the Polish government as soon as feasible. Thereupon the staff of the commission was changed and new members were substituted for the old.[130] But that was not enough. The British Premier still encountered such opposition among his foreign colleagues that it was only by dint of wordy warfare and stubbornness that he finally won his point.

The stipulation for which the first British delegate toiled thus laboriously was that within a fortnight after the ratification of the Treaty the German and Polish forces should evacuate the districts in which the plebiscite was to be held, that the Workmen's Councils there should be dissolved, and that the League of Nations should take over the government of the district so as to allow the population to give full expression to its will. But the League of Nations did not exist and could not be constituted for a considerable time. It was therefore decided[131] that some temporary substitute for the League should be formed at once, and the Supreme Council decided that Inter-Allied troops should occupy the districts. That was the first instalment of the price to be paid for the British Premier's tenderness for plebiscites, which the expert commissions deprecated as unnecessary, and which, as events proved in this case, were harmful.

In the meanwhile Bolshevist—some said German—agents were stirring up the population by suasion and by terrorism until it finally began to ferment. Thousands of working-men responded to the goad, "turned down" their tools and ceased work. Thereupon the coal-fields of Upper Silesia, the production of which had already dropped by 50 per cent, since the preceding November, ceased to produce anything. This consummation grieved the Supreme Council, which turned for help to the Inter-Allied armies. For the Silesian coal-fields represented about one-third of Germany's production, and both France and Italy were looking to Germany for part of their fuel-supply. The French press pertinently asked whether it would not have been cheaper, safer, and more efficacious to have forgone the plebiscite and relied on the Polish troops from the outset.[132] For, however ideal the intentions of Mr. Lloyd George may have been, the net result of his insistence on a plebiscite was to enable an ex-newspaper vender named Hoersing, who had undertaken to prevent the detachment of Upper Silesia from Germany, to set his machinery for agitation in motion and cause general unrest in the Silesian and Dombrova coal-mining districts. When the strike was declared the workmen, who are Poles to a man, rejected all suggestions that they should refer their grievances to arbitration courts. For these tribunals were conducted by Germans. The consequence of Mr. Lloyd George's spirited intervention was, in the words of an unbiased observer, to "raise the specters of starvation, freezing and Bolshevism in eastern Europe" during the ensuing winter—a heavy price to pay for pedantic adherence to the letter of an irrelevant ordinance, at a moment when the spirit of basic principles was being allowed to evaporate.

Rumania was chastened and qualified in severer fashion for admission to the sodality of nations until her delegates quitted the Conference in disgust, struck out their own policy, and courteously ignored the Great Powers. Then the Supreme Council changed its note for the moment and abandoned the position which it had taken up respecting the armistice with Hungary, to revert to it shortly afterward.[133] The joy with which the upshot of this revolt was hailed by all the lesser states was an evil omen. For their antipathy toward the Supreme Council had long before hardened into a sentiment much more intense, and any stick seemed good enough to break the rod of the self-constituted governors of the planet.

The concrete result of this tinkering and cobbling could only be a ramshackle structure, built without any reference to the canons of political architecture. It was shaped neither by the Fourteen Points nor by the canons of the balance of power and territory. It was hardly more than an abortive attempt to make a synthesis of the two. Created by force, it could be perpetuated only by force; but if symptoms are to be trusted, it is more likely to be broken up by force. As an American press organ remarked in August: "The Council of Five complains that no one now condescends to recognize the League of Nations. Even the small nations are buying war material, quite oblivious of the fact that there are to be no more wars, now that the League is there to prevent them. Sweden is buying large supplies from Germany, and Spain is sending a commission to Paris to negotiate for some of France's war equipment."[134]

Belgium, too, was treated with scant consideration. The praise lavished on her courageous people during the war was apparently deemed an adequate recompense for the sacrifices she had made and the losses she endured. For the revision of the treaties of 1839, indispensable to the economic development of the country, no diplomatic preparation was made down to May, and among the Treaty clauses then drafted Belgium's share of justice was so slight and insufficient that the unbiased press published sharp strictures on the forgetfulness or egotism of the Supreme Council. "The little that has leaked out of the decisions taken regarding the conditions which affect Belgium," wrote one journal, "has caused not only bitter disappointment in Belgium, but also indignation everywhere.... The Allies having decided not to accord moral satisfaction to Belgium (they chose Geneva as the capital of the League of Nations), it was perhaps to be expected that they would not accord her material satisfaction. And such expectations are being fulfilled. The Limburg province, annexed to Holland in 1839, the province which gave the retreating enemy unlawful refuge in 1918, a rank violation of Dutch neutrality, is apparently not to be restored to Belgium. Even the right, vital to the safety and welfare of Belgium, the right of unimpeded navigation of the Scheldt between Antwerp and the sea, has not yet been conceded. And the raw material that is indispensable if Belgian industry is to be revived is withheld; the Allies, however, are quite willing to flood the country with manufactured articles."[135]

And yet Belgium's demands were extremely modest.[136] They were formulated, not as the guerdon for her heroic defense of civilization, but as a plain corollary flowing direct from each and every principle officially recognized by the heads of the Conference—right, nationality, legitimate guarantees, and economic requirements. Tested by any or all of these accepted touchstones, everything asked for was reasonable and fair in itself, and seemingly indispensable to the durability of the new world-structure which the statesmen were endeavoring to raise on the ruins of the old. Belgium's forlorn political and territorial plight embodied all the worst vices of the old balance of power stigmatized by President Wilson: the mutilation of the country; the forcible separation of sections of its population from each other; the distribution of these lopped, ethnic fragments among alien states and dynasties; the control of her waterways handed over to commercial rivals; the transformation of cities and districts that were obviously destined to figure among her sources of national well-being and centers of culture into dead towns that paralyze her effort and hinder her progress. In a word, Belgium had had no political existence for her own behoof. She was not an organic unit in the sodality of nations, but a mere cog in the mechanism of European equilibrium.

Ruined by the war, Belgium was sorely tried by the Peace Conference. She complained of two open wounds which poisoned her existence, stunted her economic growth, and rendered her self-defense an impossibility: the vast gap of Limburg on the east and the blocking of the Scheldt on the west. The great national réduit, Antwerp, cut off from the sea, inaccessible to succor in case of war, on the one side, and Limburg opening to Germany's armies the road through central Belgium, on the other—these were the two standing dangers which it was hoped would be removed. How dangerous they are events had demonstrated. In October, 1914, Antwerp fell because Holland had closed the Scheldt and forbidden the entrance to warships and transports, and in November, 1918, a German army of over seventy thousand men eluded pursuit by the Allies by passing through Dutch Limburg, carrying with them vast war materials and booty. Militarily Belgium is exposed to mortal perils so long as the treaties which ordained this preposterous division of territories are maintained in vigor.

Economically, too, the consequences, especially of the status of the Scheldt, are admittedly baleful. To Holland the river is practically useless—indeed, the only advantage it could confer would be the power of impeding the growth and prosperity of Antwerp for the benefit of its rival, Rotterdam. All that the Belgians desired there was the complete control of their national river, with the right of carrying out the works necessary to keep it navigable. A like demand was put forward for the canal of Terneuzen, which links the city of Ghent with the Scheldt; and the suppression of the checks and hindrances to Belgium's free communications with her hinterland—i.e., the basins of the Meuse and the Rhine. Prom every point of view, including that of international law, the claims made were at once modest and grounded. But the Supreme Council had no time to devote to such subsidiary matters, and, like more momentous issues, they were adjourned.

The Belgian delegation did not ask that Holland's territory should be curtailed. On the contrary, they would have welcomed its increase by the addition of territory inhabited by people of her own idiom, under German sway.[137] But the Dutch demurred, as Denmark had done in the matter of the third Schleswig zone, for fear of offending Germany. And the Supreme Council acquiesced in the refusal. Again, when issues were under discussion that turned upon the Rhine country and affected Belgian interests, her delegates were never consulted. They were systematically ignored by the Conference. When the capital of the League of Nations was to be chosen, their hopes that Brussels would be deemed worthy of the honor were blasted by President Wilson himself. One of the American delegates informed a foreign colleague "that the capital of the League must be situate in a tranquil country, must have a steady, settled population and a really good climate." "A good climate?" asked a continental statesman. "Then why not choose Monte Carlo?"

But the decision in favor of Geneva was sent by courier from Switzerland ready made to President Wilson. The chief grounds which lent color to the belief that religious bias played a larger part in the Conference's decisions than was apparent were the following: It was from Geneva that the spirit of religious and political liberty first went forth to be incarnated among the various nations of the world. It is to John Calvin, rather than to Martin Luther, that the birth of the Scotch Covenanters and of English Puritanism is traceable. Hence Geneva is the parent of New England. So, too, it was Rousseau—a true child of Calvin—who was the author of America's Declaration of Independence. Again, one of the first pacifists and advocates of international arbitration was born in Geneva. John Knox sat for two years at the feet of Calvin. Consequently the Puritan Revolution, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution all had their springs in Geneva.

These were the considerations which weighed with President Wilson when he refused to fix his choice on Brussels. In vain the Belgians argued and pleaded, urging that if the Conference were to vote for London, Washington, or Paris, they would receive the announcement with respectful acquiescence, but that among the lesser states they conceived that their country's claims were the best grounded. To the Americans who objected that Switzerland's mountains and lakes, being free from hateful war memories, offer more fitting surroundings for the capital of the League of Peace than Brussels, where vestiges of the odious struggle will long survive, they answered that they could only regret that Belgium's resistance to the lawless invaders should be taken to disqualify her for the honor.

It is worth while pursuing this matter a step farther. The Federal Council in Berne having soon afterward officially recommended[138] the nation to enter the League which guarantees it neutrality,[139] an illuminating discussion ensued. And it was elicited that as there is an obligation imposed on all member-states to execute the decrees of the League for the coercion of rebellious fellow-members, it follows that in such cases Switzerland, too, would be obliged to take an active part in the struggle between the League and the recalcitrant country. From military operations, however, Switzerland is dispensed, but it would certainly be bound to adopt economic measures of pressure, and to this extent abandon its neutrality. Now not only would that attitude be construed by the disobedient nation as unfriendly, and the usual consequences drawn from it, but as Switzerland is freed from military co-operation, it follows that the League could not fix the headquarters of its military command in its own capital, Geneva, as that would constitute a violation of Swiss neutrality. And, if it did, Switzerland would in self-defense be bound to oppose the decision!

The Belgians were discouraged by the disdainful demeanor and grudging disposition of the Supreme Council, and irritated by the arbitrariness of its decrees and the indefensible way in which it applied principles that were propounded as sacred. Before restoring the diminutive cantons of Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium, for example, Mr. Wilson insisted on ascertaining the will of the population by plebiscite. In itself the measure was reasonable, but the position of these little districts was substantially on all-fours with Alsace-Lorraine, which was restored to France without any such test. In Fiume, also, the will of the inhabitants went for nothing, Mr. Wilson refusing to consult them. Further, Austria, whose people were known to favor union with Germany, was systematically jockeyed into ruinous isolation. "Now what, in the light of these conflicting judgments," asked the Belgians, "is the true meaning of the principle of self-determination?" The only reply they received was that Mr. Wilson was right when he told his fellow-countrymen that his principles stood in need of interpretation, and that, as he was the sole authorized interpreter, his presence was required in Europe.

In money matters, too, the chief plenipotentiaries can hardly be acquitted of something akin to niggardliness toward the country which had saved theirs from a catastrophe. Down to the month of May, 1921, two and a half milliard francs was the maximum sum allotted to Belgium by the Supreme Council. And for the work of restoring the devastated country, which the Great Powers had spontaneously promised to accomplish, it was alleged by experts to be wholly inadequate. Other financial grievances were ignored—for a time. Further, it was decided that Germany should surrender her African colonies to the Great Powers; yet Belgium, who contributed materially to their conquest, was not to be associated with them.

Irritated by this illiberality, the Belgian delegation, having consulted with M. Renkin, to whose judgment in these matters special weight attached, resolved to make a firm stand, and refused to sign the Treaty unless at least certain modest financial, economic, and colonial claims, which ought to have been settled spontaneously, were accorded under pressure. And the Supreme Council, rather than be arraigned before the world on the charge of behaving unjustly as well as ungenerously toward Belgium, ultimately gave way, leaving, however, an impression behind which seemed as indelible as it was profound....

The domination which is now being exercised by the principal Powers over the remaining states of the world is fraught with consequences which were not foreseen, and have not yet been realized by those who established it. Among the least momentous, but none the less real, is one to which Belgium is exposed. Hitherto there was a language problem in that heroic country which, being an internal controversy, could be settled without noteworthy perturbations by the good-will of the Walloons and the Flemings. The danger, which one fervently hopes will be warded off, consists in the possible transformation of that dispute into an international question, in consequence of possible accords of a military or economic nature. The subject is too delicate to be handled by a foreigner, and the Belgian people are too practical and law-loving not to avoid unwary steps that might turn a linguistic problem into a racial issue.

The Supreme Council soon came to be looked upon as the prototype of the future League, and in that light its action was sharply scrutinized by all whom the League concerned. Foremost among these were the representatives of the lesser states, or, as they were termed, "states with limited interests." This band of patriots had pilgrimaged to Paris full of hope for their respective countries, having drunk in avidly the unstinted praise and promises which had served as pabulum for their attachment to the Allied cause during the war. But their illusions were short-lived. At one of their first meetings with the delegates of the Great Powers a storm burst which scattered their expectations to the winds. When the sky cleared it was discovered that from indispensable fellow-workers they had shrunk to dwarfish protégées, mere units of an inferior category, who were to be told what to do and would be constrained to do it thoroughly if not unmurmuringly.

At the historic sitting of January 26th, the delegates of the lesser states protested energetically against the purely decorative part assigned to them at a Conference in the decisions of which their peoples were so intensely interested. The Canadian Minister, having spoken of the "proposal" of the Great Powers, was immediately corrected by M. Clemenceau, who brusquely said that it was not a proposal, but a decision, which was therefore definitive and final. Thereupon the Belgian delegate, M. Hymans, delivered a masterly speech, pleading for genuine discussion in order to elucidate matters that so closely concerned them all, and he requested the Conference to allow the smaller belligerent Allies more than two delegates. Their demand was curtly rejected by the French Premier, who informed his hearers that the Conference was the creation of the Great Powers, who intended to keep the direction of its labors in their own hands. He added significantly that the smaller nations' representatives would probably not have been invited at all if the special problem of the League of Nations had not been mooted. Nor should it be forgotten, he added, that the five Great Powers represented no less than twelve million fighting-men.... In conclusion, he told them that they had better get on with their work in lieu of wasting precious time in speechmaking. These words produced a profound and lasting effect, which, however, was hardly the kind intended by the French statesman.

"Conferential Tsarism" was the term applied to this magisterial method by one of the offended delegates. He said to me on the morrow: "My reply to M. Clemenceau was ready, but fear of impairing the prestige of the Conference prevented me from uttering it. I could have emphasized the need for unanimity in the presence of vigilant enemies, ready to introduce a wedge into every fissure of the edifice we are constructing. I could have pointed out that, this being an assembly of nations which had waged war conjointly, there is no sound reason why its membership should be diluted with states which never drew the sword at all. I might have asked what has become of the doctrine preached when victory was still undecided, that a league of nations must repose upon a free consent of all sovereign states. And above all things else I could have inquired how it came to pass that the architect-in-chief of the society of nations which is to bestow a stable peace on mankind should invoke the argument of force, of militarism, against the pacific peoples who voluntarily made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of humanity and now only ask for a hearing. Twelve million fighting-men is an argument to be employed against the Teutons, not against the peace-loving, law-abiding peoples of Europe.

"Premier Clemenceau seemed to lay the blame for the waste of time on our shoulders, but the truth is that we were never admitted to the deliberations until yesterday; although two and one-half months have elapsed since the armistice was concluded, and although the progress made by these leading statesmen is manifestly limited, he grudged us forty-five minutes to give vent to our views and wishes.

"The French Tiger was admirable when crushing the enemies of civilization with his twelve million fighting-men; but gestures and actions which were appropriate to the battlefield become sources of jarring and discord when imported into a concert of peoples."

Much bitterness was generated by those high-handed tactics, whereupon certain slight concessions were made in order to placate the offended delegates; but, being doled out with a bad grace, they failed of the effect intended. Belgium received three delegates instead of two, and Jugoslavia three; but Rumania, whose population was estimated at fourteen millions, was allowed but two. This inexplicable decision caused a fresh wound, which was kept continuously open by friction, although it might readily have been avoided. Its consequences may be traced in Rumania's singular relations to the Supreme Council before and after the fall of Kuhn in Hungary.

But even those drastic methods might be deemed warranted if the policy enforced were, in truth, conducive to the welfare of the nations on whom it was imposed. But hastily improvised by one or two men, who had no claim to superior or even average knowledge of the problems involved, and who were constantly falling into egregious and costly errors, it was inevitable that their intervention should be resented as arbitrary and mischievous by the leaders of the interested nations whose acquaintanceship with those questions and with the interdependent issues was extensive and precise. This resentment, however, might have been not, indeed, neutralized, but somewhat mitigated, if the temper and spirit in which the Duumvirate discharged its self-set functions had been free from hauteur and softened by modesty. But the magisterial wording in which its decisions were couched, the abruptness with which they were notified, and the threats that accompanied their imposition would have been repellent even were the authors endowed with infallibility.

One of the delegates who unbosomed himself to me on the subject soon after the Germans had signed the Treaty remarked: "The Big Three are superlatively unsympathetic to most of the envoys from the lesser belligerent states. And it would be a wonder if it were otherwise, for they make no effort to hide their disdain for us. In fact, it is downright contempt. They never consult us. When we approach them they shove us aside as importunate intruders. They come to decisions unknown to us, and carry them out in secrecy, as though we were enemies or spies. If we protest or remonstrate, we are imperialists and ungrateful.

"Often we learn only from the newspapers the burdens or the restrictions that have been imposed on us."

A couple of days previously M. Clemenceau, in an unofficial reply to a question put by the Rumanian delegation, directed them to consult the financial terms of the Treaty with Austria, forgetting that the delegates of the lesser states had not been allowed to receive or read those terms. Although communicated to the Austrians, they were carefully concealed from the Rumanians, whom they also concerned. At the same time, the Rumanian government was called upon to take and announce a decision which presupposed acquaintanceship with those conditions, whereupon the Rumanian Premier telegraphed from Bucharest to Paris to have them sent. But his locum tenens did not possess a copy and had no right to demand one.[140] Incongruities of this character were frequent.

One statesman in Paris, who enjoys a world-wide reputation, dissented from those who sided with the lesser states. He looked at their protests and tactics from an angle of vision which the unbiased historian, however emphatically he may dissent from it, cannot ignore. He said: "All the smaller communities are greedy and insatiable. If the chiefs of the World Powers had understood their temper and ascertained their aspirations in 1914, much that has passed into history since then would never have taken place. During the war these miniature countries were courted, flattered, and promised the sun and the moon, earth and heaven, and all the glories therein. And now that these promises cannot be redeemed, they are wroth, and peevishly threaten the great states with disobedience and revolt. This, it is true, they could not do if the latter had not forfeited their authority and prestige by allowing their internal differences, hesitations, contradictions, and repentances to become manifest to all. To-day it is common knowledge that the Great Powers are amenable to very primitive incentives and deterrents. If in the beginning they had been united and said to their minor brethren: 'These are your frontiers. These your obligations,' the minor brethren would have bowed and acquiesced gratefully. In this way the boundary problems might have been settled to the satisfaction of all, for each new or enlarged state would have been treated as the recipient of a free gift from the World Powers. But the plenipotentiaries went about their task in a different and unpractical fashion. They began by recognizing the new communities, and then they gave them representatives at the Conference. This they did on the ground that the League of Nations must first be founded, and that all well-behaved belligerents on the Allied side have a right to be consulted upon that. And, finally, instead of keeping to their program and liquidating the war, they mingled the issues of peace with the clauses of the League and debated them simultaneously. In these debates they revealed their own internal differences, their hesitancy, and the weakness of their will. And the lesser states have taken advantage of that. The general results have been the postponement of peace, the physical exhaustion of the Central Empires, and the spread of Bolshevism."

It should not be forgotten that this mixture of the general and the particular of the old order and the new was objected to on other grounds. The Italians, for example, urged that it changed the status of a large number of their adversaries into that of highly privileged Allies. During the war they were enemies, before the peace discussions opened they had obtained forgiveness, after which they entered the Conference as cherished friends. The Italians had waged their war heroically against the Austrians, who inflicted heavy losses on them. Who were these Austrians? They were composed of the various nationalities which made up the Hapsburg monarchy, and in especial of men of Slav speech. These soldiers, with notable exceptions, discharged their duty to the Austrian Emperor and state conscientiously, according to the terms of their oath. Their disposition toward the Italians was not a whit less hostile than was that of the common German man against the French and the English. Why, then, argued the Italians, accord them privileges over the ally who bore the brunt of the fight against them? Why even treat the two as equals? It may be replied that the bulk of the people were indifferent and merely carried out orders. Well, the same holds good of the average German, yet he is not being spoiled by the victorious World Powers. But the Croats and others suddenly became the favorite children of the Conference, while the Germans and Teuton-Austrians, who in the meanwhile had accepted and fulfilled President Wilson's conditions for entry into the fellowship of nations, were not only punished heavily—which was perfectly just—but also disqualified for admission into the League, which was inconsistent.

The root of all the incoherences complained of lay in the circumstance that the chiefs of the Great Powers had no program, no method; Mr. Wilson's pristine scheme would have enabled him to treat the gallant Serbs and their Croatian brethren as he desired. But he had failed to maintain it against opposition. On the other hand, the traditional method of the balance of power would have given Italy all that she could reasonably ask for, but Mr. Wilson had partially destroyed it. Nothing remained then but to have recourse to a tertium quid which profoundly dissatisfied both parties and imperiled the peace of the world in days to come. And even this makeshift the eminent plenipotentiaries were unable to contrive single-handed. Their notion of getting the work done was to transfer it to missions, commissions, and sub-commissions, and then to take action which, as often as not, ran counter to the recommendations of these selected agents. Oddly enough, none of these bodies received adequate directions. To take a concrete example: a central commission was appointed to deal with the Polish frontier problems, a second commission under M. Jules Cambon had to study the report on the Polish Delimitation question, but although often consulted, it was seldom listened to. Then there was a third commission, which also did excellent work to very little purpose. Now all the questions which formed the subjects of their inquiries might be approached from various sides. There were historical frontiers, ethnographical frontiers, political and strategical and linguistic frontiers. And this does not exhaust the list. Among all these, then, the commissioners had to choose their field of investigation as the spirit moved them, without any guidance from the Supreme Council, which presumably did not know what it wanted.

As an example of the Council's unmethodical procedure, and of its slipshod way of tackling important work, the following brief sketch of a discussion which was intended to be decisive and final, but ended in mere waste of time, may be worth recording. The topic mooted was disarmament. The Anglo-Saxon plenipotentiaries, feeling that they owed it to their doctrines and their peoples to ease the military burdens of the latter and lessen temptations to acts of violence, favored a measure by which armaments should be reduced forthwith. The Italian delegates had put forward the thesis, which was finally accepted, that if Austria, for instance, was to be forbidden to keep more than a certain number of troops under arms, the prohibition should be extended to all the states of which Austria had been composed, and that in all these cases the ratio between the population and the army should be identical. Accordingly, the spokesmen of the various countries interested were summoned to take cognizance of the decision and intimate their readiness to conform to it.

M. Paderewski listened respectfully to the decree, and then remarked: "According to the accounts received from the French military authorities, Germany still has three hundred and fifty thousand soldiers in Silesia." "No," corrected M. Clemenceau, "only three hundred thousand." "I accept the correction," replied the Polish Premier. "The difference, however, is of no importance to my contention, which is that according to the symptoms reported we Poles may have to fight the Germans and to wage the conflict single-handed. As you know, we have other military work on hand. I need only mention our strife with the Bolsheviki. If we are deprived of effective means of self-defense, on the one hand, and told to expect no help from the Allies, on the other hand, the consequence will be what every intelligent observer foresees. Now three hundred thousand Germans is no trifle to cope with. If we confront them with an inadequate force and are beaten, what then?" "Undoubtedly," exclaimed M. Clemenceau, "if the Germans were victorious in the east of Europe the Allies would have lost the war. And that is a perspective not to be faced."

M. Bratiano spoke next. "We too," he said, "have to fight the Bolsheviki on more than one front. This struggle is one of life and death to us. But it concerns, if only in a lesser degree, all Europe, and we are rendering services to the Great Powers by the sacrifices we thus offer up. Is it desirable, is it politic, to limit our forces without reference to these redoubtable tasks which await them? Is it not incumbent on the Powers to allow these states to grow to the dimensions required for the discharge of their functions?" "What you advance is true enough for the moment," objected M. Clemenceau; "but you forget that our limitations are not to be applied at once. We fix a term after the expiry of which the strength of the armies will be reduced. We have taken all the circumstances into account." "Are you prepared to affirm," queried the Rumanian Minister, "that you can estimate the time with sufficient precision to warrant our risking the existence of our country on your forecast?" "The danger will have completely disappeared," insisted the French Premier, "by January, 1921." "I am truly glad to have this assurance," answered M. Bratiano, "for I doubt not that you are quite certain of what you advance, else you would not stake the fate of your eastern allies on its correctness. But as we who have not been told the grounds on which you base this calculation are asked to manifest our faith in it by incurring the heaviest conceivable risks, would it be too much to suggest that the Great Powers should show their confidence in their own forecast by guaranteeing that if by the insurgence of unexpected events they proved to be mistaken and Rumania were attacked, they would give us prompt and adequate military assistance?" To this appeal there was no affirmative response; whereupon M. Bratiano concluded: "The limitation of armaments is highly desirable. No people is more eager for it than ours. But it has one limitation which must, I venture to think, be respected. So long as you have a restive or dubious neighbor, whose military forces are subjected neither to limitation nor control, you cannot divest yourself of your own means of self-defense. That is our view of the matter."

Months later the same difficulty cropped up anew, this time in a concrete form, and was dealt with by the Supreme Council in its characteristic manner. Toward the end of August Rumania's doings in Hungary and her alleged designs on the Banat alarmed and angered the delegates, whose authority was being flouted with impunity; and by way of summarily terminating the scandal and preventing unpleasant surprises M. Clemenceau proposed that all further consignments of arms to Rumania should cease. Thereupon Italy's chief representative, Signor Tittoni, offered an amendment. He deprecated, he said, any measure leveled specially against Rumania, all the more that there existed already an enactment of the old Council of Four limiting the armaments of all the lesser states. The Military Council of Versailles, having been charged with the study of this matter, had reached the conclusion that the Great Powers should not supply any of the governments with war material. Signor Tittoni was of the opinion, therefore, that those conclusions should now be enforced.

The Council thereupon agreed with the Italian delegate, and passed a resolution to supply none of the lesser countries with war material. And a few minutes later it passed another resolution authorizing Germany to cede part of her munitions and war material to Czechoslovakia and some more to General Yudenitch![141]

When the commissions to which all the complex problems had to be referred were being first created,[142] the lesser states were allowed only five representatives on the Financial and Economic commissions, and were bidden to elect them. The nineteen delegates of these States protested on the ground that this arrangement would not give them sufficient weight in the councils by which their interests would be discussed. These malcontents were headed by Senhor Epistacio Pessoa, the President-elect of the United States of Brazil. The Polish delegate, M. Dmowski, addressing the meeting, suggested that they should not proceed to an election, the results of which might stand in no relation to the interests which the states represented had in matters of European finance, but that they should ask the Great Powers to appoint the delegates. To this the President-elect of Brazil demurred, taking the ground that it would be undignified for the lesser states to submit to have their spokesman nominated by the greater. Thereupon they elected five delegates, all of them from South American countries, to deal with European finance, leaving the Europeans to choose five from among themselves. This would have given ten in all to the communities whose interests were described as limited, and was an affront to the Great Powers.

This comedy was severely judged and its authors reprimanded by the heads of the Conference, who, while quashing the elections, relented to the extent of promising that extra delegates might be appointed for the lesser nations later on. As a matter of fact, the number of commissions was of no real consequence, because on all momentous issues their findings, unless they harmonized with the decisions of the chief plenipotentiaries, were simply ignored.

The curious attitude of the Supreme Council toward Rumania may be contemplated from various angles of vision. But the safest coign of vantage from which to look at it is that formed by the facts.

Rumania's grievances were many, and they began at the opening of the Conference, when she was refused more than two delegates as against the five attributed to each of the Great Powers and three each for Serbia and Belgium, whose populations are numerically inferior to hers. Then her treaty with Great Britain, France, and Russia, on the strength of which she entered the war, was upset by its more powerful signatories as soon as the frontier question was mooted at the Conference. Further, the existence of the Rumanian delegation was generally ignored by the Supreme Council. Thus, when the treaty with Germany was presented to Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau, a mere journalist[143] at the Conference possessed a complete copy, whereas the Rumanian delegation, headed by the Prime Minister Bratiano, had cognizance only of an incomplete summary. When the fragmentary treaty was drafted for Austria, the Rumanian delegation saw the text only on the evening before the presentation, and, noticing inacceptable clauses, formulated reservations. These reservations were apparently acquiesced in by the members of the Supreme Council. That, at any rate, was the impression of MM. Bratiano and Misu. But on the following day, catching a glimpse of the draft, they discovered that the obnoxious provisions had been left intact. Then they lodged their reserves in writing, but to no purpose. One of the obligations imposed on Rumania by the Powers was a promise to accept in advance any and every measure that the Supreme Council might frame for the protection of minorities in the country, and for further restricting the sovereignty of the state in matters connected with the transit of Allied goods. And, lastly, the Rumanians complained that the action of the Supreme Council was creating a dangerous ferment in the Dobrudja, and even in Transylvania, where the Saxon minority, which had willingly accepted Rumanian sway, was beginning to agitate against it. In Bessarabia the non-Rumanian elements of the population were fiercely opposing the Rumanians and invoking the support of the Peace Conference. The cardinal fact which, in the judgment of the Rumanians, dominated the situation was the quasi ultimatum presented to them in the spring, when they were summoned unofficially and privately to grant industrial concessions to a pushing body of financiers, or else to abide by the consequences, one of which, they were told, would be the loss of America's active assistance. They had elected to incur the threatened penalty after having carefully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of laying the matter before President Wilson himself, and inquiring officially whether the action in question was—as they felt sure it must be—in contradiction with the President's east European policy. For it would be sad to think that abundant petroleum might have washed away many of the tribulations which the Rumanians had afterward to endure, and that loans accepted on onerous conditions would, as was hinted, have softened the hearts of those who had it in their power to render the existence of the nation sour or sweet.[144] "Look out," exclaimed a Rumanian to me. "You will see that we shall be spurned as Laodiceans, or worse, before the Conference is over." Rumania's external situation was even more perilous than her domestic plight. Situated between Russia and Hungary, she came more and more to resemble the iron between the hammer and the anvil. A well-combined move of the two anarchist states might have pulverized her. Alive to the danger, her spokesmen in Paris were anxious to guard against it, but the only hope they had at the moment was centered in the Great Powers, whose delegates at the Conference were discharging the functions which the League of Nations would be called on to fulfil whenever it became a real institution. And their past experience of the Great Powers' mode of action was not calculated to command their confidence. It was the Great Powers which, for their own behoof and without the slightest consideration for the interests of Rumania, had constrained that country to declare war against the Central Empires[145] and had made promises of effective support in the shape of Russian troops, war material of every kind, officers, and heavy artillery. But neither the promises of help nor the assurances that Germany's army of invasion would be immobilized were redeemed, and so far as one can now judge they ought never to have been made. For what actually came to pass—the invasion of the country by first-class German armies under Mackensen—might easily have been foreseen, and was actually foretold.[146] The entire country was put to sack, and everything of value that could be removed was carried off to Hungary, Germany, or Austria. The Allies lavished their verbal sympathies on the immolated nation, but did little else to succor it, and want and misery and disease played havoc with the people.

After the armistice things became worse instead of better. The Hungarians were permitted to violate the conditions and keep a powerful army out of all proportion to the area which they were destined to retain, and as the Allies disposed of no countering force in eastern Europe, their commands were scoffed at by the Budapest Cabinet. In the spring of 1919 the Bolshevists of Hungary waxed militant and threatened the peace of Rumania, whose statesmen respectfully sued for permission to occupy certain commanding positions which would have enabled their armies to protect the land from invasion. But the Duumviri in Paris negatived the request. They fancied that they understood the situation better than the people on the spot. Thereupon the Bolshevists, ever ready for an opportunity, seized upon the opening afforded them by the Supreme Council, attacked the Rumanians, and invaded their territory. Nothing abashed, the two Anglo-Saxon statesmen comforted M. Bratiano and his colleagues with the expression of their regret and the promise that tranquillity would not again be disturbed. The Supreme Council would see to that. But this promise, like those that preceded it, was broken.

The Rumanians went so far as to believe that the Supreme Council either had Bolshevist leanings or underwent secret influences—perhaps unwittingly—the nature of which it was not easy to ascertain. In support of these theories they urged that when the Rumanians were on the very point of annihilating the Red troops of Kuhn, it was the Supreme Council which interposed its authority to save them, and did save them effectually, when nothing else could have done it. That Kuhn was on the point of collapsing was a matter of common knowledge. A radio-telegram flashed from Budapest by one of his lieutenants contained this significant avowal: "He [Kuhn] has announced that the Hungarian forces are in flight. The troops which occupied a good position at the bridgehead of Gomi have abandoned it, carrying with them the men who were doing their duty. In Budapest preparations are going forward for equipping fifteen workmen's battalions." In other words, the downfall of Bolshevism had begun. The Rumanians were on the point of achieving it. Their troops on the bank of the river Tisza[147] were preparing to march on Budapest. And it was at that critical moment that the world-arbiters at the Conference who had anathematized the Bolshevists as the curse of civilization interposed their authority and called a halt. If they had solid grounds for intervening they were not avowed. M. Clemenceau sent for M. Bratiano and vetoed the march in peremptory terms which did scant justice to the services rendered and the sacrifices made by the Rumanian state. Secret arrangements, it was whispered, had been come to between agents of the Powers and Kuhn. At the time nobody quite understood the motive of the sudden change of disposition evinced by the Allies toward the Magyar Bolshevists. For it was assumed that they still regarded the Bolshevist leaders as outlaws. One explanation was that they objected to allow the Rumanian army alone to occupy the Hungarian capital. But that would not account for their neglect to despatch an Inter-Allied contingent to restore order in the city and country. For they remained absolutely inactive while Kuhn's supporters were rallying and consolidating their scattered and demoralized forces, and they kept the Rumanians from balking the Bolshevist work of preparing another attack. As one of their French critics[148] remarked, they dealt exclusively in negatives—some of them pernicious enough, whereas a positive policy was imperatively called for. To reconstruct a nation, not to say a ruined world, a series of contradictory vetoes is hardly sufficient. But another explanation of their attitude was offered which gained widespread acceptance. It will be unfolded presently.

The dispersed Bolshevist army, thus shielded, soon recovered its nerve, and, feeling secure on the Rumanian front, where the Allies held the invading troops immobilized, attacked the Slovaks and overran their country. For Bolshevism is by nature proselytizing. The Prague Cabinet was dismayed. The new-born Czechoslovak state was shaken. A catastrophe might, as it seemed, ensue at any moment. Rumania's troops were on the watch for the signal to resume their march, but it came not. The Czechoslovaks were soliciting it prayerfully. But the weak-kneed plenipotentiaries in Paris were minded to fight, if at all, with weapons taken from a different arsenal. In lieu of ordering the Rumanian troops to march on Budapest, they addressed themselves to the Bolshevist leader, Kuhn, summoned him to evacuate the Slovak country, and volunteered the promise that they would compel the Rumanians to withdraw. This amazing line of action was decided on by the secret Council of Three without the assent or foreknowledge of the nation to whose interests it ran counter and the head of whose government was rubbing shoulders with the plenipotentiaries every day. But M. Bratiano's existence and that of his fellow-delegate was systematically ignored. It is not easy to fathom the motives that inspired this supercilious treatment of the spokesman of a nation which was sacrificing its sons in the service of the Allies as well as its own. Personal antipathy, however real, cannot be assumed without convincing grounds to have been the mainspring.

But there was worse than the contemptuous treatment of a colleague who was also the chief Minister of a friendly state. If an order was to be given to the Rumanian government to recall its forces from the front which they occupied, elementary courtesy and political tact as well as plain common sense would have suggested its being communicated, in the first instance, to the chief of that government—who was then resident in Paris—as head of his country's delegation to the Conference. But that was not the course taken. The statesmen of the Secret Council had recourse to the radio, and, without consulting M. Bratiano, despatched a message "to the government in Bucharest" enjoining on it the withdrawal of the Rumanian army. For they were minded scrupulously to redeem their promise to the Bolshevists. One need not be a diplomatist to realize the amazement of "the Rumanian government" on receiving this abrupt behest. The feelings of the Premier, when informed of these underhand doings, can readily be imagined. And it is no secret that the temper of a large section of the Rumanian people was attuned by these petty freaks to sentiments which boded no good to the cause for which the Allies professed to be working. In September M. Bratiano was reported as having stigmatized the policy adopted by the Conference toward Rumania as being of a "malicious and dangerous character."[149]

The frontier to which the troops were ordered to withdraw had, as we saw, just been assigned to Rumania[150] without the assent of her government, and with a degree of secrecy and arbitrariness that gave deep offense, not only to her official representatives, but also to those parliamentarians and politicians who from genuine attachment or for peace' sake were willing to go hand in hand with the Entente. "If one may classify the tree by its fruits," exclaimed a Rumanian statesman in my hearing, "the great Three are unconscious Bolshevists. They are undermining respect for authority, tradition, plain, straightforward dealing, and, in the case of Rumania, are behaving as though their staple aim were to detach our nation from France and the Entente. And this aim is not unattainable. The Rumanian people were heart and soul with the French, but the bonds which were strong a short while ago are being weakened among an influential section of the people, to the regret of all Rumanian patriots."

The answer given by the "Rumanian government in Bucharest" to the peremptory order of the Secret Council was a reasoned refusal to comply. Rumania, taught by terrible experience, declined to be led once more into deadly peril against her own better judgment. Her statesmen, more intimately acquainted with the Hungarians than were Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Wilson, and M. Clemenceau, required guaranties which could be supplied only by armed forces—Rumanian or Allied. Unless and until Hungary received a government chosen by the free will of the people and capable of offering guaranties of good conduct, the troops must remain where they were. For the line which they occupied at the moment could be defended with four divisions, whereas the new one could not be held by less than seven or eight. The Council was therefore about to commit another fateful mistake, the consequences of which it was certain to shift to the shoulders of the pliant people. It was then that Rumania's leaders kicked against the pricks.

To return to the dispute between Bucharest and Paris: the Rumanian government would have been willing to conform to the desire of the Supreme Council and withdraw its troops if the Supreme Council would only make good its assurance and guarantee Rumania effectually from future attacks by the Hungarians. The proviso was reasonable, and as a measure of self-defense imperative. The safeguard asked for was a contingent of Allied force. But the two supreme councilors in Paris dealt only in counters. All they had to offer to M. Bratiano were verbal exhortations before the combat and lip-sympathy after defeat, and these the Premier rejected. But here, as in the case of the Poles, the representatives of the "Allied and Associated" Powers insisted. They were profuse of promises, exhortations, and entreaties before passing to threats—of guaranties they said nothing—but the Rumanian Premier, turning a deaf ear to cajolery and intimidation, remained inflexible. For he was convinced that their advice was often vitiated by gross ignorance and not always inspired by disinterestedness, while the orders they issued were hardly more than the velleities of well-meaning gropers in the dark who lacked the means of executing them.

The eminent plenipotentiaries, thus set at naught by a little state, ruminated on the embarrassing situation. In all such cases their practice had been to resign themselves to circumstances if they proved unable to bend circumstances to their schemes. It was thus that President Wilson had behaved when British statesmen declined even to hear him on the subject of the freedom of the seas, when M. Clemenceau refused to accept a peace that denied the Saar Valley and a pledge of military assistance to France, and when Japan insisted on the retrocession of Shantung. Toward Italy an attitude of firmness had been assumed, because owing to her economic dependence on Britain and the United States she could not indulge in the luxury of nonconformity. Hence the plenipotentiaries, and in particular Mr. Wilson, asserted their will inexorably and were painfully surprised that one of the lesser states had the audacity to defy it.

The circumstance that after their triumph over Italy the world's trustees were thus publicly flouted by a little state of eastern Europe was gall and wormwood to them. It was also a menace to the cause with which they were identified. None the less, they accepted the inevitable for the moment, pitched their voices in a lower key, and decided to approve the Rumanian thesis that Neo-Bolshevism in Hungary must be no longer bolstered up,[151] but be squashed vicariously. They accordingly invited the representatives of the three little countries on which the honor of waging these humanitarian wars in the anarchist east of Europe was to be conferred, and sounded them as to their willingness to put their soldiers in the field, and how many as to the numbers available. M. Bratiano offered eight divisions. The Czechoslovaks did not relish the project, but after some delay and fencing around agreed to furnish a contingent, whereas the Jugoslavs met the demand with a plain negative, which was afterward changed to acquiescence when the Council promised to keep the Italians from attacking them. As things turned out, none but the Rumanians actually fought the Hungarian Reds. Meanwhile the members of the American, British, and Italian missions in Hungary endeavored to reach a friendly agreement with the criminal gang in Budapest.

The plan of campaign decided on had Marshal Foch for its author. It was, therefore, business-like. He demanded a quarter of a million men,[152] to which it was decided that Rumania should contribute 120,000, Jugoslavia 50,000, and Czechoslovakia as many as she could conveniently afford. But the day before the preparations were to have begun,[153] Bela Kuhn flung his troops[154] against the Rumanians with initial success, drove them across the Tisza with considerable loss, took up commanding positions, and struck dismay into the members of the Supreme Council. The Semitic Dictator, with grim humor, explained to the crestfallen lawgivers, who were once more at fault, that a wanton breach of the peace was alien to his thoughts; that, on the contrary, his motive for action deserved high praise—it was to compel the rebellious Rumanians to obey the behest of the Conference and withdraw to their frontiers. The plenipotentiaries bore this gibe with dignity, and decided to have recourse once more to their favorite, and, indeed, only method—the despatch of exhortative telegrams. Of more efficacious means they were destitute. This time their message, which lacked a definite address, was presumably intended for the anti-Bolshevist population of Hungary, whom it indirectly urged to overthrow the Kuhn Cabinet and receive the promised reward—namely, the privilege of entering into formal relations with the Entente and signing the death-warrant of the Magyar state. It is not easy to see how this solution alone could have enabled the Supreme Council to establish normal conditions and tranquillity in the land. But the Duumvirate seemed utterly incapable of devising a coherent policy for central or eastern Europe. Even when Hungary had a government friendly to the Entente they never obtained any advantage from it. They had had no use for Count Karolyi. They had allowed things to slip and slide, and permitted—nay, helped—Bolshevism to thrive, although they had brand-marked it as a virulent epidemic to be drastically stamped out. Temper, education, and training disqualified them for seizing opportunity and pressing the levers that stood ready to their hand.

In consequence of the vacillation of the two chiefs, who seldom stood firm in the face of difficulties, the members of the predatory gang which concealed its alien origin under Magyar nationality and its criminal propensities[155] under a political mask had been enabled to go on playing an odious comedy, to the disgust of sensible people and the detriment of the new and enlarged states of Europe. For the cost of the Supreme Council's weakness had to be paid in blood and substance, little though the two delegates appeared to realize this. The extent to which the ruinous process was carried out would be incredible were it not established by historic facts and documents.

The permanent agents of the Powers in Hungary,[156] preferring conciliation to force, now exhorted the Hungarians to rid themselves of Kuhn and promised in return to expel the Rumanians from Hungarian territory once more and to have the blockade raised. At the close of July some Magyars from Austria met Kuhn at a frontier station[157] and strove to persuade him to withdraw quietly into obscurity, but he, confiding in the policy of the Allies and his star, scouted the suggestion. It was at this juncture that the Rumanians, pushing on to Budapest, resolved, come what might, to put an end to the intolerable situation and to make a clean job of it once for all. And they succeeded.

For Rumania's initial military reverse[158] was the result of a surprise attack by some eighty thousand men. But her troops rapidly regained their warlike spirit, recrossed the river Tisza, shattered the Neo-Bolshevist regime, and reached the environs of Budapest.

By the 1st of August the lawless band that was ruining the country relinquished the reins of power, which were taken over at first by a Socialist Cabinet of which an influential French press organ wrote: "The names of the new ... commissaries of the people tell us nothing, because their bearers are unknown. But the endings of their names tell us that most of them are, like those of the preceding government, of Jewish origin. Never since the inauguration of official communism did Budapest better deserve the appellation of Judapest, which was assigned to it by the late M. Lueger, chief of the Christian Socialists of Vienna. That is an additional trait in common with the Russian Soviets."[159]

The Rumanians presented a stiff ultimatum to the new Hungarian Cabinet. They were determined to safeguard their country and its neighbors from a repetition of the danger and of the sacrifices it entailed; in other words, to dictate the terms of a new armistice. The Powers demurred and ordered them to content themselves with the old one concluded by the Serbian Voyevod Mishitch and General Henrys in November of the preceding year and violated subsequently by the Magyars. But the objections to this course were many and unanswerable. In fact they were largely identical with the objections which the Supreme Council itself had offered to the Polish-Ukrainian armistice. And besides these there were others. For example, the Rumanians had had no hand or part in drafting the old armistice. Moreover it was clearly inapplicable to the fresh campaign which was waged and terminated nine months after it had been drawn up. Experience had shown that it was inadequate to guarantee public tranquillity, for it had not hindered Magyar attacks on the Rumanians and Czechoslovaks. The Rumanians, therefore, now that they had worsted their adversaries, were resolved to disarm them and secure a real peace. They decided to leave fifteen thousand troops for the maintenance of internal order.[160] Rumania's insistence on the delivery of live-stock, corn, agricultural machinery, and rolling-stock for railways was, it was argued, necessitated by want and justified by equity. For it was no more than partial reparation for the immense losses wantonly inflicted on the nation by the Magyars and their allies. Until then no other amends had been made or even offered. The Austrians, Hungarians, and Germans, during their two years' occupation of Rumania, had seized and carried off from the latter country two million five hundred thousand tons of wheat and hundreds of thousands of head of cattle, besides vast quantities of clothing, wool, skins, and raw material, while thousands of Rumanian homes were gutted and their contents taken away and sold in the Central Empires. Factories were stripped of their machinery and the railways of their engines and wagons. When Mackensen left there remained in Rumania only fifty locomotives out of the twelve hundred which she possessed before the war. The material, therefore, that Rumania removed from Hungary during the first weeks of the occupation represented but a small part of the quantities of which she had been despoiled during the war.

It was further urged that at the beginning the Rumanian delegates would have contented themselves with reparation for losses wantonly inflicted and for the restitution of the property wrongfully taken from them by their enemies, on the lines on which France had obtained this offset. They had asked for this, but were informed that their request could not be complied with. They were not even permitted to send a representative to Germany to point out to the Inter-Allied authorities the objects of which their nation had been robbed, as though the plunderers would voluntarily give up their ill-gotten stores! It was partly because of these restrictions that the Rumanian authorities resolved to take what belonged to them without more ado. And they could not, they said, afford to wait, because they were expecting an attack by the Russian Bolsheviki and it behooved them to have done with one foe before taking on another. These explanations irritated in lieu of calming the Supreme Council.

"Possibly," wrote the well-informed Temps, "Rumania would have been better treated if she had closed with certain proposals of loans on crushing terms or complied with certain demands for oil concessions."[161] Possibly. But surely problems of justice, equity, and right ought never to have been mixed up with commercial and industrial interests, whether with the connivance or by the carelessness of the holders of a vast trust who needed and should have merited unlimited confidence. It is neither easy nor edifying to calculate the harm which transactions of this nature, whether completed or merely inchoate, are capable of inflicting on the great community for whose moral as well as material welfare the Supreme Council was laboring in darkness against so many obstacles of its own creation. Is it surprising that the states which suffered most from these weaknesses of the potent delegates should have resented their misdirection and endeavored to help themselves as best they could? It may be blameworthy and anti-social, but it is unhappily natural and almost unavoidable. It is sincerely to be regretted that the art of stimulating the nations—about which the delegates were so solicitous—to enthusiastic readiness to accept the Council as the "moral guide of the world" should have been exercised in such bungling fashion.

The Supreme Council then feeling impelled to assert its dignity against the wilfulness of a small nation decided on ignoring alike the service and the disservice rendered by Rumania's action. Accordingly, it proceeded without reference to any of the recent events except the disappearance of the Bolshevist gang. Four generals were accordingly told off to take the conduct of Hungarian affairs into their hands despite their ignorance of the actual conditions of the problem.[162] They were ordered to disarm the Magyars, to deliver up Hungary's war material to the Allies, of whom only the Rumanians and the Czechoslovaks had taken the field against the enemy since the conclusion of the armistice the year before, and they were also to exercise their authority over the Rumanian victors and the Serbs, both of whom occupied Hungarian territory. The Temps significantly remarked that the Supreme Council, while not wishing to deal with any Hungarian government but one qualified to represent the country, "seems particularly eager to see resumed the importation of foreign wares into Hungary. Certain persons appear to fear that Rumania, by retaking from the Magyars wagons and engines, might check the resumption of this traffic."[163]

What it all came to was that the Great Powers, who had left Rumania to her fate when she was attacked by the Magyars, intervened the moment the assailed nation, helping itself, got the better of its enemy, and then they resolved to balk it of the fruits of victory and of the safeguards it would fain have created for the future. It was to rely upon the Supreme Council once more, to take the broken reed for a solid staff. That the Powers had something to urge in support of their interposition will not be denied. They rightly set forth that Rumania was not Hungary's only creditor. Her neighbors also possessed claims that must be satisfied as far as feasible, and equity prompted the pooling of all available assets. This plea could not be refuted. But the credit which the pleaders ought to have enjoyed in the eyes of the Rumanian nation was so completely sapped by their antecedents that no heed was paid to their reasoning, suasion, or promises.

Rumania, therefore, in requisitioning Hungarian property was formally in the wrong. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that she, like other nations, was exasperated by the high-handed action of the Great Powers, who proceeded as though her good-will and loyalty were of no consequence to the pacification of eastern Europe.

After due deliberation the Supreme Council agreed upon the wording of a conciliatory message, not to the Rumanians, but to the Magyars, to be despatched to Lieutenant-Colonel Romanelli. The gist of it was the old refrain, "to carry out the terms of the armistice[164] and respect the frontiers traced by the Supreme Council[165] and we will protect you from the Rumanians, who have no authority from us. We are sending forthwith an Inter-Allied military commission[166] to superintend the disarmament and see that the Rumanian troops withdraw."

It cannot be denied that the Rumanian conditions were drastic. But it should be remembered that the provocation amounted almost to justification. And as for the crime of disobedience, it will not be gainsaid that a large part of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the lawgivers in Paris, whose decrees, coming oracularly from Olympian heights without reference to local or other concrete circumstances, inflicted heavy losses in blood and substance on the ill-starred people of Rumania. And to make matters worse, Rumania's official representatives at the Conference had been not merely ignored, but reprimanded like naughty school-children by a harsh dominie and occasionally humiliated by men whose only excuse was nervous tenseness in consequence of overwork combined with morbid impatience at being contradicted in matters which they did not understand. Other states had contemplated open rebellion against the big ferrule of the "bosses," and more than once the resolution was taken to go on strike unless certain concessions were accorded them. Alone the Rumanians executed their resolve.

Naturally the destiny-weavers of peoples and nations in Paris were dismayed at the prospect and apprehensive lest the Rumanians should end the war in their own way. They despatched three notes in quick succession to the Bucharest government, one of which reads like a peevish indictment hastily drafted before the evidence had been sifted or even carefully read. It raked up many of the old accusations that had been leveled against the Rumanians, tacked them on to the crime of insubordination, and without waiting for an answer—assuming, in fact, that there could be no satisfactory answer—summoned them to prove publicly by their acts that they accepted and were ready to execute in good faith the policy decided upon by the Conference.[167]

That note seemed unnecessarily offensive and acted on the Rumanians as a powerful irritant,[168] besides exposing the active members of the Supreme Council to scathing criticism. The Rumanians asked their Entente friends in private to outline the policy which they were accused of countering, and were told in reply that it was beyond the power of the most ingenious hair-splitting casuist to define or describe. "As for us," wrote one of the stanchest supporters of the Entente in French journalism, "who have followed with attention the labors and the utterances, written and oral, of the Four, the Five, the Ten, of the Supreme and Superior Councils, we have not yet succeeded in discovering what was the 'policy decided by the Conference.' We have indeed heard or read countless discourses pronounced by the choir-masters. They abound in noble thought, in eloquent expositions, in protests, and in promises. But of aught that could be termed a policy we have not found a trace."[169] This verdict will be indorsed by the historian.

The Rumanians seemed in no hurry to reply to the Council's three notes. They were said to be too busy dealing out what they considered rough and ready justice to their enemies, and were impatient of the intervention of their "friends." They seized rolling-stock, cattle, agricultural implements, and other property of the kind that had been stolen from their own people and sent the booty home without much ado. Work of this kind was certain to be accompanied by excesses and the Conference received numerous protests from the aggrieved inhabitants. But on the whole Rumania, at any rate during the first few weeks of the occupation, had the substantial sympathy of the largest and most influential section of the world's press. People declared that they were glad to see the haze of self-righteousness and cant at last dispelled by a whiff of wholesome egotism. From the outspoken comments of the most widely circulating journals in France and Britain the dictators in Paris, who were indignant that the counsels of the strong should carry so little weight in eastern Europe, could acquaint themselves with the impression which their efforts at cosmic legislation were producing among the saner elements of mankind.

In almost every language one could read words of encouragement to the recalcitrant Rumanians for having boldly burst the irksome bonds in which the peoples of the world were being pinioned. "It is our view," wrote one firm adherent of the Entente, "that having proved incapable of protecting the Rumanians in their hour of danger, our alliance cannot to-day challenge the safeguards which they have won for themselves."[170]

"If liberty had her old influence," one read in another popular journal,[171] "the Great Powers would not be bringing pressure to bear on Rumania with the object of saving Hungary from richly deserved punishment." "Instead of nagging the Rumanians," wrote an eminent French publicist, "they would do much better to keep the Turks in hand. If the Turks in despair, in order to win American sympathies, proclaim themselves socialists, syndicalists, or laborists, will President Wilson permit them to renovate Armenia and other places after the manner of Jinghiz Khan?"[172]

But what may have weighed with the Supreme Council far more than the disapproval of publicists were its own impotence, the undignified figure it was cutting, and the injury that was being done to the future League of Nations by the impunity with which one of the lesser states could thus set at naught the decisions of its creators and treat them with almost the same disrespect which they themselves had displayed toward the Rumanian delegates in Paris. They saw that once their energetic representations were ignored by the Bucharest government they were at the end of their means of influencing it. To compel obedience by force was for the time being out of the question. In these circumstances the only issue left them was to make a virtue of necessity and veer round to the Rumanian point of view as unobtrusively as might be, so as to tide over the transient crisis. And that was the course which they finally struck out.

Matters soon came to the culminating point. The members of the Allied Military Mission had received full powers to force the commanders of the troops of occupation to obey the decisions of the Conference, and when they were confronted with M. Diamandi, the ex-Minister to Petrograd, they issued their orders in the name of the Supreme Council. "We take orders here only from our own government, which is in Bucharest," was the answer they received. The Rumanians have a proverb which runs: "Even a donkey will not fall twice into the same quicksand," and they may have quoted it to General Gorton when refusing to follow the Allies after their previous painful experience. Then the mission telegraphed to Paris for further instructions.[173] In the meanwhile the Rumanian government had sent its answer to the three notes of the Council. And its tenor was firm and unyielding. Undeterred by menaces, M. Bratiano maintained that he had done the right thing in sending troops to Budapest, imposing terms on Hungary and re-establishing order. As a matter of fact he had rendered a sterling service to all Europe, including France and Britain. For if Kuhn and his confederates had contrived to overrun Rumania, the Great Powers would have been morally bound to hasten to the assistance of their defeated ally. The press was permitted to announce that the Council of Five was preparing to accept the Rumanian position. The members of the Allied Military Mission were informed that they were not empowered to give orders to the Rumanians, but only to consult and negotiate with them, whereby all their tact and consideration were earnestly solicited.

But the palliatives devised by the delegates were unavailing to heal the breach. After a while the Council, having had no answer to its urgent notes, decided to send an ultimatum to Rumania, calling on her to restore the rolling-stock which she had seized and to evacuate the Hungarian capital. The terms of this document were described as harsh.[174] Happily, before it was despatched the Council learned that the Rumanian government had never received the communications nor seventy others forwarded by wireless during the same period. Once more it had taken a decision without acquainting itself of the facts. Thereupon a special messenger[175] was sent to Bucharest with a note "couched in stern terms," which, however, was "milder in tone" than the ultimatum.

To go back for a moment to the elusive question of motive, which was not without influence on Rumania's conduct. Were the action and inaction of the plenipotentiaries merely the result of a lack of cohesion among their ideas? Or was it that they were thinking mainly of the fleeting interests of the moment and unwilling to precipitate their conceptions of the future in the form of a constructive policy? The historian will do well to leave their motives to another tribunal and confine himself to facts, which even when carefully sifted are numerous and significant enough.

During the progress of the events just sketched there were launched certain interesting accounts of what was going on below the surface, which had such impartial and well-informed vouchers that the chronicler of the Conference cannot pass them over in silence. If true, as they appear to be, they warrant the belief that two distinct elements lay at the root of the Secret Council's dealings with Rumania. One of them was their repugnance to her whole system of government, with its survivals of feudalism, anti-Semitism, and conservatism. Associated with this was, people alleged, a wish to provoke a radical and, as they thought, beneficent change in the entire régime by getting rid of its chiefs. This plan had been successfully tried against MM. Orlando and Sonnino in Italy. Their solicitude for this latter aim may have been whetted by a personal lack of sympathy for the Rumanian delegates, with whom the Anglo-Saxon chiefs hardly ever conversed. It was no secret that the Rumanian Premier found it exceedingly difficult to obtain an audience of his colleague President Wilson, from whom he finally parted almost as much a stranger as when he first arrived in Paris.

It may not be amiss to record an instance of the methods of the Supreme Council, for by putting himself in the place of the Rumanian Premier the reader may the more clearly understand his frame of mind toward that body. In June the troops of Moritz (or Bela) Kuhn had inflicted a severe defeat on the Czechoslavs. Thereupon the Secret Council of Four or Five, whose shortsighted action was answerable for the reverse, decided to remonstrate with him. Accordingly they requested him to desist from the offensive. Only then did it occur to them that if he was to withdraw his armies behind the frontiers, he must be informed where these frontiers were. They had already been determined in secret by the three great statesmen, who carefully concealed them not merely from an inquisitive public, but also from the states concerned. The Rumanian, Jugoslav and Czechoslovak delegates were, therefore, as much in the dark on the subject as were rank outsiders and enemies. But as soon as circumstances forced the hand of all the plenipotentiaries the secret had to be confided to them all.[176] The Hungarian Dictator pleaded that if his troops had gone out of bounds it was because the frontiers were unknown to him. The Czechoslovaks respectfully demurred to one of the boundaries along the river Ipol which it was difficult to justify and easy to rectify. But the Rumanian delegation, confronted with the map, met the decision with a frank protest. For it amounted to the abandonment of one of their three vital irreducible claims which they were not empowered to renounce. Consequently they felt unable to acquiesce in it. But the Supreme Council insisted. The second delegate, M. Misu, was in consequence obliged to start at once for Bucharest to consult with the King and the Cabinet and consider what action the circumstances called for. In the meantime, the entire question, and together with it some of the practical consequences involved by the tentative solution, remained in suspense.

When certain clauses of the Peace Treaty, which, although they materially affected Rumania, had been drafted without the knowledge of her plenipotentiaries, were quite ready, the Rumanian Premier was summoned to take cognizance of them. Their tenor surprised and irritated him. As he felt unable to assent to them, and as the document was to be presented to the enemy in a day or two, he deemed it his duty to mention his objections at once. But hardly had he begun when M. Clemenceau arose and exclaimed, "M. Bratiano, you are here to listen, not to comment." Stringent measures may have been considered useful and dictatorial methods indispensable in default of reasoning or suasion, but it was surely incumbent on those who employed them to choose a form which would deprive them of their sting or make them less personally painful.

For whatever one may think of the wisdom of the policy adopted by the Supreme Council toward the unprivileged states, it would be difficult to justify the manner in which they imposed it. Patience, tact, and suasion are indispensable requisites in men who assume the functions of leaders and guides, yet know that military force alone is inadequate to shape the future after their conception. The delegates could look only to moral power for the execution of their far-reaching plans, yet they spurned the means of acquiring it. The best construction one can put upon their action will represent it as the wrecking of the substance by the form. By establishing a situation of force throughout Europe the Council created and sanctioned the principle that it must be maintained by force.

But the affronted nations did not stop at this mild criticism. They assailed the policy itself, cast suspicion on the disinterestedness of the motives that inspired it, and contributed thereby to generate an atmosphere of distrust in which the frail organism that was shortly to be called into being could not thrive. Contemplated through this distorting medium, one set of delegates was taunted with aiming at a monopoly of imperialism and the other with rank hypocrisy. It is superfluous to remark that the idealism and lofty aims of the President of the United States were never questioned by the most reckless Thersites. The heaviest charges brought against him were weakness of will, exaggerated self-esteem, impatience of contradiction, and a naive yearning for something concrete to take home with him, in the shape of a covenant of peoples.

The reports circulating in the French capital respecting vast commercial enterprises about to be inaugurated by English-speaking peoples and about proposals that the governments of the countries interested should facilitate them, were destructive of the respect due to statesmen whose attachment to lofty ideals should have absorbed every other motive in their ethico-political activity. Thus it was affirmed by responsible politicians that an official representative of an English-speaking country gave expression to the view, which he also attributed to his government, that henceforth his country should play a much larger part in the economic life of eastern Europe than any other nation. This, he added, was a conscious aim which would be steadily pursued, and to the attainment of which he hoped the politicians and their people would contribute. So far this, it may be contended, was perfectly legitimate.

But it was further affirmed, and not by idle quidnuncs, that one of Rumania's prominent men had been informed that Rumania could count on the good-will and financial assistance of the United States only if her Premier gave an assurance that, besides the special privileges to be conferred on the Jewish minority in his country, he would also grant industrial and commercial concessions to certain Jewish groups and firms who reside and do business in the United States. And by way of taking time by the forelock one or more of these firms had already despatched representatives to Rumania to study and, if possible, earmark the resources which they proposed to exploit.

Now, to expand the trade of one's country is a legitimate ambition, and to hold that Jewish firms are the best qualified to develop the resources of Rumania is a tenable position. But to mix up any commercial scheme with the ethical regeneration of Europe is, to put it mildly, impolitic. However unimpeachable the motives of the promoter of such a project, it is certain to damage both causes which he has at heart. But the report does not leave the matter here. It goes on to state that a very definite proposal, smacking of an ultimatum, was finally presented, which set before the Rumanians two alternatives from which they were to choose—either the concessions asked for, which would earn for them the financial assistance of the United States, or else no concessions and no help.

At a Conference, the object of which was the uplifting of the life of nations from the squalor of sordid ambitions backed by brutal force, to ideal aims and moral relationship, haggling and chaffering such as this seemed wholly out of place. It reminded one of "those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting" in the temple of Jerusalem who were one day driven out with "a scourge of small cords." The Rumanians hoped that the hucksters in the latter-day temple of peace might be got rid of in a similar way; one of them suggested boldly asking President Wilson himself to say what he thought of the policy underlying the disconcerting proposal....

The other alleged element of the Supreme Council's attitude needs no qualification. The mystery that enwrapped the orders from the Conference which suddenly arrested the march of the Rumanian and Allied troops, when they were nearing Budapest for the purpose of overthrowing Bela Kuhn, never perplexed those who claimed to possess trustworthy information about the goings-on between certain enterprising officers belonging some to the Allied Army of Occupation and others to the Hungarian forces. One of these transactions is alleged to have taken place between Kuhn himself, who is naturally a shrewd observer and hard bargain-driver, and a certain financial group which for obvious reasons remained nameless. The object of the compact was the bestowal on the group of concessions in the Banat in return for an undertaking that the Bolshevist Dictator would be left in power and subsequently honored by an invitation to the Conference. The plenipotentiaries' command arresting the march against Kuhn and their conditional promise to summon him to the Conference, dovetail with this contract. These undeniable coincidences are humiliating. The nexus between them was discovered and announced before the stipulations were carried out.

The Banat had been an apple of discord ever since the close of hostilities. The country, inhabited chiefly by Rumanians, but with a considerable admixture of Magyar and Saxon elements, is one of the richest unexploited regions in Europe. Its mines of gold, zinc, lead, coal, and iron offer an irresistible temptation to pushing capitalists and their governments, who feel further attracted by the credible announcement that it also possesses oil in quantities large enough to warrant exploitation. It was partly in order to possess herself of these abundant resources and create an accomplished fact that Serbia, who also founded her claim on higher ground, laid hands on the administration of the Banat. But the experiment was disappointing. The Jugoslavs having failed to maintain themselves there, the bargain just sketched was entered into by officers of the Hungarian and Allied armies. For concession-hunters are not fastidious about the nationality or character of those who can bestow what they happen to be seeking.

This stroke of jobbery had political consequences. That was inevitable. For so long as the Banat remained in Rumania or Serbian hands it could not be alienated in favor of any foreign group. Therefore secession from both those states was a preliminary condition to economic alienation. The task was bravely tackled. An "independent republic" was suddenly added to the states of Europe. This amazing creation, which fitted in with the Balkanizing craze of the moment, was the work of a few wire-pullers in which the easy-going inhabitants had neither hand nor part. Indeed, they were hardly aware that the Republic of the Banat had been proclaimed. The amateur state-builders were obliging officers of the two armies, and behind them were speculators and concession-hunters. It was obvious that the new community, as it contained a very small population for an independent state, would require a protector. Its sponsors, who had foreseen this, provided for it by promising to assign the humanitarian rôle of protectress of the Banat Republic to democratic France. And French agents were on the spot to approve the arrangement. Thus far the story, of which I have given but the merest outline.[177]

In this compromising fashion then Bela Kuhn was left for the time being in undisturbed power, and none of his friends had any fear that he would be driven out by the Allies so long as he contrived to hit it off with the Hungarians. Should these turn away from him, however, the cosmopolitan financiers, whose cardinal virtues are suppleness and adaptability, would readily work with his successor, whoever he might be. The few who knew of this quickening of high ideals with low intrigue were shocked by the light-hearted way in which under the ægis of the Conference a discreditable pact was made with the "enemy of the human race," a grotesque régime foisted on a simple-minded people without consideration for the principle of self-determination, and the very existence of the Czechoslovak Republic imperiled. Indeed, for a brief while it looked as though the Bolshevist forces of the Ukraine and Russia would effect a junction with the troops of Bela Kuhn and shatter eastern Europe to shreds. To such dangerous extent did the Supreme Council indirectly abet the Bolshevist peace-breakers against the Rumanians and Czechoslovak allies.

It was at this conjuncture that a Rumanian friend remarked to me: "The apprehension which our people expressed to you some months ago when they rejected the demand for concessions has been verified by events. Please remember that when striking the balance of accounts."

The fact could not be blinked that in the camp of the Allies there was a serious schism. The partizans of the Supreme Council accused the Bucharest government of secession, and were accused in turn of having misled their Rumanian partners, of having planned to exploit them economically, of having favored their Bolshevist invaders, and pursued a policy of blackmail. The rights and wrongs of this quarrel had best be left to another tribunal. What can hardly be gainsaid is that in a general way the Rumanians—and not these alone—were implicitly classed as people of a secondary category, who stood to gain by every measure for their good which the culture-bearers in Paris might devise. These inferior nations were all incarnate anachronisms, relics of dark ages which had survived into an epoch of democracy and liberty, and it now behooved them to readjust themselves to that. Their institutions must be modernized, their Old World conceptions abandoned, and their people taught to imitate the progressive nations of the West. What the populations thought and felt on the subject was irrelevant, they being less qualified to judge what was good for them than their self-constituted guides and guardians. To the angry voices which their spokesmen uplifted no heed need be paid, and passive resistance could be overcome by coercion. This modified version of Carlyle's doctrine would seem to be at the root of the Supreme Council's action toward the lesser nations generally and in especial toward Rumania.

POLAND AND THE SUPREME COUNCIL

This frequent misdirection by the Supreme Council, however one may explain it, created an electric state of the political atmosphere among all nations whose interests were set down or treated as "limited," and more than one of them, as we saw, contemplated striking out a policy of passive resistance. As a matter of fact some of them timidly adopted it more than once, almost always with success and invariably with impunity. It was thus that the Czechoslovaks—the most docile of them all—disregarding the injunctions of the Conference, took possession of contentious territory,[178] and remained in possession of it for several months, and that the Jugoslavs occupied a part of the district of Klagenfurt and for a long time paid not the slightest heed to the order issued by the Supreme Council to evacuate it in favor of the Austrians, and that the Poles applied the same tactics to eastern Galicia. The story of this last revolt is characteristic alike of the ignorance and of the weakness of the Powers which had assumed the functions of world-administrators. During the hostilities between the Ruthenians of Galicia and the Poles the Council, taunted by the press with the numerous wars that were being waged while the world's peace-makers were chatting about cosmic politics in the twilight of the Paris conclave, issued an imperative order that an armistice must be concluded at once. But the Poles appealed to events, which swiftly settled the matter as they anticipated. Neither the Supreme Council nor the agents it employed had a real grasp of the east European situation, or of the rôle deliberately assigned to Poland by its French sponsors—that of superseding Russia as a bulwark against Germany in the East—or of the local conditions. Their action, as was natural in these circumstances, was a sequence of gropings in the dark, of incongruous behests, exhortations, and prohibitions which discredited them in the eyes of those on whose trust and docility the success of their mission depended.

Consciousness of these disadvantages may have had much to do with the rigid secrecy which the delegates maintained before their desultory talks ripened into discussions. In the case of Poland, as of Rumania, the veil was opaque, and was never voluntarily lifted. One day[179] the members of the Polish delegation, eager to get an inkling of what had been arranged by the Council of Four about Dantzig, requested M. Clemenceau to apprize them at least of the upshot if not of the details. The French Premier, who has a quizzing way and a keen sense of humor, replied, "On the 26th inst. you will learn the precise terms." But Poland's representative insisted and pleaded suasively for a hint of what had been settled. The Premier finally consented and said, "Tell the General Secretary of the Conference, M. Dutasta, from me, that he may make the desired communication to you." The delegate accordingly repaired to M. Dutasta, preferred his request, and received this reply: "M. Clemenceau may say what he likes. His words do not bind the Conference. Before I consider myself released from secrecy I must have the consent of all his colleagues as well. If you would kindly bring me their express authorization I will communicate the information you demand." That closed the incident.

When the Council finally agreed to a solution, the delegates were convoked to learn its nature and to make a vow of obedience to its decisions. During the first stage of the Conference the representatives of the lesser states had sometimes been permitted to put questions and present objections. But later on even this privilege was withdrawn. The following description of what went on may serve as an illustration of the Council's mode of procedure. One day the Polish delegation was summoned before the Special Commission to discuss an armistice between the Ruthenians of Galicia and the Polish Republic. The late General Botha, a shrewd observer, whose valuable experience of political affairs, having been confined to a country which had not much in common with eastern Europe, could be of little help to him in solving the complex problems with which he was confronted, was handicapped from the outset. Unacquainted with any languages but English and Dutch, the general had to surmount the additional difficulty of carrying on the conversation through an interpreter. The form it took was somewhat as follows:

"It is the wish of the Supreme Council," the chairman began, "that Poland should conclude an armistice with the Ruthenians, and under new conditions, the old ones having lost their force.[180] Are you prepared to submit your proposals?" "This is a military matter," replied the Polish delegate, "and should be dealt with by experts. One of our most competent military authorities will arrive shortly in Paris with full powers to treat with you on the subject. In the meantime, I agree that the old conditions are obsolete and must be changed. I can also mention three provisos without which no armistice is possible: (1) The Poles must be permitted to get into permanent contact with Rumania. That involves their occupation of eastern Galicia. The principal grounds for this demand are that our frontier includes that territory and that the Rumanians are a law-abiding, pacific people whose interests never clash with ours and whose main enemy—Bolshevism—is also ours. (2) The Allies shall purge the Ukrainian army of the Bolshevists, German and other dangerous elements that now pervade it and render peace impossible. (3) The Poles must have control of the oil-fields were it only because these are now being treated as military resources and the Germans are receiving from Galicia, which contains the only supplies now open to them, all the oil they require and are giving the Ruthenians munitions in return, thus perpetuating a continuous state of warfare. You can realize that we are unwilling to have our oil-fields employed to supply our enemies with war material against ourselves." General Botha asked, "Would you be satisfied if, instead of occupying all eastern Galicia at once in order to get into touch with the Rumanians, the latter were to advance to meet you?" "Quite. That would satisfy us as a provisional measure." "But now suppose that the Supreme Council rejects your three conditions—a probable contingency—- what course do you propose to take?" "In that case our action would be swayed by events, one of which is the hostility of the Ruthenians, which would necessitate measures of self-defense and the use of our army. And that would bring back the whole issue to the point where it stands to-day."[181] To the suggestions made by the Polish delegate that the question of the armistice be referred to Marshal Foch, the answer was returned that the Marshal's views carried no authority with the Supreme Council.

General Botha, thereupon adopting an emotional tone, said: "I have one last appeal to make to you. It behooves Poland to lift the question from its present petty surroundings and set it in the larger frame of world issues. What we are aiming at is the overthrow of militarism and the cessation of bloodshed. As a civilized nation Poland must surely see eye to eye with the Supreme Council how incumbent it is on the Allies to put a stop to the misery that warfare has brought down on the world and is now inflicting on the populations of Poland and eastern Galicia." "Truly," replied the Polish delegate, "and so thoroughly does she realize it that it is repugnant to her to be satisfied with a sham peace, a mere pause during which a bloodier war may be organized. We want a settlement that really connotes peace, and our intimate knowledge of the circumstances enables us to distinguish between that and a mere truce. That is the ground of our insistence."

"Bear well in mind," insisted the Boer general, "the friendly attitude of the great Allies toward your country at a critical period of its history. They restored it. They meant and mean to help it to preserve its status. It behooves the Poles to show their appreciation of this friendship in a practical way by deferring to their wishes. Everything they ordain is for your good. Realize that and carry out their schemes." "For their help we are and will remain grateful," was the answer, "and we will go as far toward meeting their wishes as is feasible without actually imperiling their contribution to the restoration of our state. But we cannot blink the facts that their views are sometimes mistaken and their power to realize them generally imaginary. They have made numerous and costly mistakes already, which they now frankly avow. If they persisted in their present plan they would be adding another to the list. And as to their power to help us positively, it is nil. Their initial omission to send a formidable military force to Poland was an irreparable blunder, for it left them without an executive in eastern Europe, where they now can help none of their protégées against their respective enemies. Poles, Rumanians, Jugoslavs are all left to themselves. From the Allies they may expect inspiriting telegrams, but little else. In fact, the utmost they can do is to issue decrees that may or may not be obeyed. Examples are many. They obtained for us by the armistice the right of disembarking troops at Dantzig, and we were unspeakably grateful to them. But they failed to make the Germans respect that right and we had to resign ourselves to abandon it. They ordered the Ukrainians to cease their numerous attacks on us and we appreciated their thoughtfulness. But the order was disobeyed; we were assailed and had no one to look to for help but ourselves. Still we are most thankful for all that they could do. But if we concluded the armistice which you are pleading for, this is what would happen: we should have the Ruthenians arrayed against us on one side and the Germans on the other. Now if the Ruthenians have brains, their forces will attack us at the same time as those of the Germans do. That is sound tactics. But if their strength is only on paper, they will give admission to the Bolsheviki. That is the twofold danger which you, in the name of the Great Powers, are unwillingly endeavoring to conjure up against us. If you admit its reality you cannot blame our reluctance to incur it. On the other hand, if you regard the peril as imaginary, you will draw the obvious consequences and pledge the word of the Great Powers that they will give us military assistance against it should it come?"

If clear thinking and straightforward action has counted for anything, the matter would have been settled satisfactorily then and there. But the Great Powers operated less with argument than with more forcible stimuli. Holding the economic and financial resources of the world in their hands, they sometimes merely toyed with reasoning and proceeded to coerce where they were unable to convince or persuade. One day the chief delegate of one of the states "with limited interests" said to me: "The unvarnished truth is that we are being coerced. There is no milder term to signify this procedure. Thus we are told that unless we indorse the decrees of the Powers, whose interests are unlimited like their assurance, they will withhold from us the supplies of food, raw materials, and money without which our national existence is inconceivable. Necessarily we must give way, at any rate for the time being." Those words sum up the relations of the lesser to the greater Powers.

In the case of Poland the conversation ended thus—General Botha, addressing the delegate, said: "If you disregard the injunctions of the Big Four, who cannot always lay before you the grounds of their policy, you run the risk of being left to your own devices. And you know what that means. Think well before you decide!" Just then, as it chanced, only a part of General Haller's soldiers in France had been transported to their own country,[182] and the Poles were in mortal terror lest the work of conveying the remainder should be interrupted. This, then, was an implicit appeal to which they could not turn a wholly deaf ear. "Well, what is it that the Big Four ask of us?" inquired the delegate. "The conclusion of an armistice with the Ruthenians, also that Poland—as one of the newly created states—should allow the free transit of all the Allied goods through her territory." The delegate expressed a wish to be told why this measure should be restricted to the newly made states. The answer was because it was in the nature of an experiment and should, therefore, not be tried over too large an area. "There is also another little undertaking which you are requested to give—namely, that you will accept and act upon the future decisions of the commission whatever they may be." "Without an inkling of their character?" "If you have confidence in us you need have no misgivings as to that." In spite of the deterrents the Polish delegation at that interview met all these demands with a firm non possumus. It upheld the three conditions of the armistice, rejected the free transit proposal, and demurred to the demand for a promise to bow to all future decisions of a fallible commission. "When the Polish dispute with the Czechoslovaks was submitted to a commission we were not asked in advance to abide by its decision. Why should a new rule be introduced now?" argued the Polish delegates. And there the matter rested for a brief while.

But the respite lasted only a few days, at the expiry of which an envoy called on the members of the Polish delegation and reopened the discussion on new lines. He stated that he spoke on behalf of the Big Four, of whose views and intentions he was the authorized exponent. And doubtless he thought he was. But as a matter of fact the French government had no cognizance of his visit or mission or of the conversation to which it led. He presented arguments before having recourse to deterrents. Poland's situation, he said, called for prudence. Her secular enemy was Germany, with whom it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, ever to cultivate such terms as would conciliate her permanently. All the more reason, therefore, to deserve and win the friendship of her other neighbors, in particular of the Ruthenians. The Polish plenipotentiary met the argument in the usual way, where upon the envoy exclaimed: "Well, to make a long story short, I am here to say that the line of action traced out for your country emanates from the inflexible will of the Great Powers. To this you must bend. If it should lead to hostilities on the part of your neighbors you could, of course, rely on the help of your protectors. Will this not satisfy you?" "If the protection were real it certainly would. But where is it? Has it been vouchsafed at any moment since the armistice? Have the Allied governments an executive in eastern Europe? Are they likely to order their troops thither to assist any of their protégées? And if they issued such an order, would it be obeyed? They cannot protect us, as we know to our cost. That is why we are prepared, in our interests—also in theirs—to protect ourselves."

This remarkable conversation was terminated by the announcement of the penalty of disobedience. "If you persist in refusing the proposals I have laid before you, I am to tell you that the Great Powers will withdraw their aid from your country and may even feel it to be their duty to modify the advantageous status which they had decided to confer upon it." To which this answer was returned: "For the assistance we are receiving we are and will ever be truly grateful. But in order to benefit by it the Polish people must be a living organism and your proposals tend to reduce us to a state of suspended vitality. They also place us at the mercy of our numerous enemies, the greatest of whom is Germany."

But lucid intelligence, backed by unflagging will, was of no avail against the threat of famine. The Poles had to give way. M. Paderewski pledged his word to Messrs. Lloyd George and Wilson that he would have an armistice concluded with the Ruthenians of eastern Galicia, and the Duumvirs rightly placed implicit confidence in his word as in his moral rectitude. They also felt grateful to him for having facilitated their arduous task by accepting the inevitable. To my knowledge President Wilson himself addressed a letter to him toward the end of April, thanking him cordially for the broad-minded way in which he had co-operated with the Supreme Council in its efforts to reconstitute his country on a solid basis. Probably no other representative of a state "with limited interests" received such high mark of approval.

M. Paderewski left Paris for Warsaw, there to win over the Cabinet. But in Poland, where the authorities were face to face with the concrete elements of the problem, the Premier found no support. Neither the Cabinet nor the Diet nor the head of the state found it possible to redeem the promise made in their name. Circumstance was stronger than the human will. M. Paderewski resigned. The Ruthenians delivered a timely attack on the Poles, who counter-attacked, captured the towns of Styra, Tarnopol, Stanislau, and occupied the enemy country right up to Rumania, with which they desired to be in permanent contact. Part of the Ruthenian army crossed the Czech frontier and was disarmed, the remainder melted away, and there remained no enemy with whom to conclude an armistice.

For the "Big Four" this turn of events was a humiliation. The Ruthenian army, whose interests they had so taken to heart, had suddenly ceased to exist, and the future danger which it represented to Poland was seen to have been largely imaginary. Their judgment was at fault and their power ineffectual. Against M. Paderewski's impotence they blazed with indignation. He had given way to their decision and promptly gone to Warsaw to see it executed, yet the conditions were such that his words were treated as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. The Polish Premier, it is true, had tendered his resignation in consequence, but it was refused—and even had it been accepted, what was the retirement of a Minister as compared with the indignity put upon the world's lawgivers who represented power and interests which were alike unlimited? Angry telegrams were flashed over the wires from Paris to Warsaw and the Polish Premier was summoned to appear in Paris without delay. He duly returned, but no new move was made. The die was cast.

A noteworthy event in latter-day Polish history ensued upon that military victory over the Ruthenians of eastern Galicia. The Ukrainian[183] Minister at Vienna was despatched to request the Poles to sign a unilateral treaty with them after the model of that which was arranged by the two Anglo-Saxon states in favor of France. The proposal was that the Ukraine government would renounce all claims to eastern Galicia and place their troops under the supreme command of the Polish generalissimus, in return for which the Poles should undertake to protect the Ukrainians against all their enemies. This draft agreement, while under consideration in Warsaw, was negatived by the Polish delegates in Paris, who saw no good reason why their people should bind themselves to fight Russia one day for the independence of the Ukraine. Another inchoate state which made an offer of alliance to Poland was Esthonia, but its advances were declined on similar grounds. It is manifest, however, that in the new state system alliances are more in vogue than in the old, although they were to have been banished from it.

Throughout all the negotiations that turned upon the future status and the territorial frontiers of Poland the British Premier unswervingly stood out against the Polish claims, just as the President of the United States inflexibly countered those of Italy, and both united to negative those of the Rumanians. Whatever one may think of the merits of these controversies—and various opinions have been put forward with obvious sincerity—there can be but one judgment as to the spirit in which they were conducted. It was a dictatorial spirit, which was intolerant not merely of opposition, but of enlightened and constructive criticism. To the representatives of the countries concerned it seemed made up of bitter prejudice and fierce partizanship, imbibed, it was affirmed, from those unseen sources whence powerful and, it was thought, noxious currents flowed continuously toward the Conference. For none of the affronted delegates credited with a knowledge of the subject either Mr. Lloyd George, who had never heard of Teschen, or Mr. Wilson, whose survey of Corsican politics was said to be so defective. And yet to the activity of men engaged like these in settling affairs of unprecedented magnitude it would be unfair to apply the ordinary tests of technical fastidiousness. Their position as trustees of the world's greatest states, even though they lacked political imagination, knowledge, and experience, entitled them to the high consideration which they generally received. But it could not be expected to dazzle to blindness the eyes of superior men—and the delegates of the lesser states, Venizelos, Dmowski, and Benes, were undoubtedly superior in most of the attributes of statesmanship. Yet they were frequently snubbed and each one made to feel that he was the fifth wheel in the chariot of the Conference. No sacred fame, says Goethe, requires us to submit to contempt, and they winced under it. The Big Three lacked the happy way of doing things which goes with diplomatic tact and engaging manners, and the consequence was that not only were their arguments mistrusted, but even their good faith was, as we saw, momentarily subjected to doubt. "Bitter prejudice, furious antipathy" were freely predicated of the two Anglo-Saxon statesmen, who were rashly accused of attempting by circuitous methods to deprive France of her new Slav ally in eastern Europe. Sweeping recriminations of this character deserve notice only as indicating the spirit of discord—not to use a stronger term—prevailing at a Conference which was professedly endeavoring to knit together the peoples of the planet in an organized society of good-fellowship.

The delegates of the lesser states, to whom one should not look for impartial judgments, formulated some queer theories to explain the Allies' unavowed policy and revealed a frame of mind in no wise conducive to the attainment of the ostensible ends of the Conference. One delegate said to me: "I have no longer the faintest doubt that the firm purpose of the 'Big Two' is the establishment of the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, which in the fullness of time may be transformed into the hegemony of the United States of North America. Even France is in some respects their handmaid. Already she is bound to them indissolubly. She is admittedly unable to hold her own without their protection. She will become more dependent on them as the years pass and Germany, having put her house in order, regains her economic preponderance on the Continent. This decline is due to the operation of a natural law which diplomacy may retard but cannot hinder. Numbers will count in the future, and then France's rôle will be reduced. For this reason it is her interest that her new allies in eastern Europe should be equipped with all the means of growing and keeping strong instead of being held in the leading-strings of the overlords. But perhaps this tutelage is reckoned one of those means?"

Against Britain in especial the Poles, as we saw, were wroth. They complained that whenever they advanced a claim they found her first delegate on their path barring their passage, and if Mr. Wilson chanced to be with them the British Premier set himself to convert him to his way of thinking or voting. Thus it was against Mr. Lloyd George that the eastern Galician problem had had to be fought at every stage. At the outset the British Premier refused Galicia to Poland categorically and purposed making it an entirely separate state under the League of Nations. This design, of which he made no secret, inspired the insistence with which the armistice with the Ruthenians of Galicia was pressed. The Polish delegates, one of them a man of incisive speech, left no stone unturned to thwart that part of the English scheme, and they finally succeeded. But their opponents contrived to drop a spoonful of tar in Poland's pot of honey by ordering a plebiscite to take place in eastern Galicia within ten or fifteen years. Then came the question of the Galician Constitution. The Poles proposed to confer on the Ruthenians a restricted measure of home rule with authority to arrange in their own way educational and religious matters, local communications, and the means of encouraging industry and agriculture, besides giving them a proportionate number of seats in the state legislature in Warsaw. But again the British delegates—experienced in problems of home rule—expressed their dissatisfaction and insisted on a parliament or diet for the Ukraine invested with considerable authority over the affairs of the province. The Poles next announced their intention to have a governor of eastern Galicia appointed by the President of the Polish Republic, with a council to advise him. The British again amended the proposal and asked that the governor should be responsible to the Galician parliament, but to this the Poles demurred emphatically, and finally it was settled that only the members of his council should be responsible to the provincial legislature. The Poles having suggested that military conscription should be applied to eastern Galicia on the same terms as to the rest of Poland, the British once more joined issue with them and demanded that no troops whatever should be levied in the province. The upshot of this dispute was that after much wrangling the British Commission gave way to the Poles, but made it a condition that the troops should not be employed outside the province. To this the Poles made answer that the massing of so many soldiers on the Rumanian frontier might reasonably be objected to by the Rumanians—and so the amoebean word-game went on in the subcommission. In a word, when dealing with the eastern Galician problem, Mr. Lloyd George played the part of an ardent champion of complete home rule.

To sum up, the Conference linked eastern Galicia with Poland, but made the bonds extremely tenuous, so that they might be severed at any moment without involving profound changes in either country, and by this arrangement, which introduced the provisional into the definitive, a broad field of operations was allotted to political agitation and revolt was encouraged to rear its crest.

The province of Upper Silesia was asked for on grounds which the Poles, at any rate, thought convincing. But Mr. Lloyd George, it was said, declared them insufficient. The subject was thrashed out one day in June when the Polish delegates were summoned before their all-powerful colleagues to be told of certain alterations that had been recently introduced into the Treaty which concerned them to know. They appeared before the Council of Five.[184] President Wilson, addressing the two delegates, spoke approximately as follows: "You claim Silesia on the ground that its inhabitants are Poles and we have given your demand careful consideration. But the Germans tell us that the inhabitants, although Polish by race, wish to remain under German rule as heretofore. That is a strong objection if founded on fact. At present we are unable to answer it. In fact, nobody can answer it with finality but the inhabitants themselves. Therefore we must order a plebiscite among them." One of the Polish delegates remarked: "If you had put the question to the inhabitants fifty years ago they would have expressed their wish to remain with the Germans because at that time they were profoundly ignorant and their national sentiment was dormant. Now it is otherwise. For since then many of them have been educated, and the majority are alive to the issue and will therefore declare for Poland. And if any section of the territory should still prefer German sway to Polish and their district in consequence of your plebiscite becomes German, the process of enlightenment which has already made such headway will none the less go on, and their children, conscious of their loss, will anathematize their fathers for having inflicted it. And then there will be trouble."

Mr. Wilson retorted: "You are assuming more than is meet. The frontiers which we are tracing are provisional, not final. That is a consideration which ought to weigh with you. Besides, the League of Nations will intervene to improve what is imperfect." "O League of Nations, what blunders are committed in thy name!" the delegate may have muttered to himself as he listened to the words meant to comfort him and his countrymen.

Much might have been urged against this proffered solace if the delegates had been in a captious mood. The League of Nations had as yet no existence. If its will, intelligence, and power could indeed be reckoned upon with such confidence, how had it come to pass that its creators, Britain and the United States, deemed them dubious enough to call for a reinforcement in the shape of a formal alliance for the protection of France? If this precautionary measure, which shatters the whole Wilsonian system, was indispensable to one Ally it was at least equally indispensable to another. And in the case of Poland it was more urgent than in the case of France, because if Germany were again to scheme a war of conquest the probability is infinitesimal that she would invade Belgium or move forward on the western front. The line of least resistance, which is Poland, would prove incomparably more attractive. And then? The absence of Allied troops in eastern Europe was one of the principal causes of the wars, tumults, and chaotic confusion that had made nervous people tremble for the fate of civilization in the interval between the conclusion of the armistice and the ratification of the Treaty. In the future the absence of strongly situated Allies there, if Germany were to begin a fresh war, would be more fatal still, and the Polish state might conceivably disappear before military aid from the Allied governments could reach it. Why should the safety of Poland and to some extent the security of Europe be made to depend upon what is at best a gambler's throw?

But no counter-objections were offered. On the contrary, M. Paderewski uttered the soft answer that turneth away wrath. He profoundly regretted the decision of the lawgivers, but, recognizing that it was immutable, bowed to it in the name of his country. He knew, he said, that the delegates were animated by very friendly feelings toward his country and he thanked them for their help. M. Paderewski's colleague, the less malleable M. Dmowski, is reported to have said: "It is my desire to be quite sincere with you, gentlemen. Therefore I venture to submit that while you profess to have settled the matter on principle, you have not carried out that principle thoroughly. Doubtless by inadvertence. Thus there are places inhabited by a large majority of Poles which you have allotted to Germany on the ground that they are inhabited by Germans. That is inconsistent." At this Mr. Lloyd George jumped up from his place and asked: "Can you name any such places?" M. Dmowski gave several names. "Point them out to me on the map," insisted the British Premier. They were pointed out on the map. Twice President Wilson asked the delegate to spell the name Bomst for him.[185] Mr. Lloyd George then said: "Well, those are oversights that can be rectified." "Oh yes," added Mr. Wilson, "we will see to that."[186] M. Dmowski also questioned the President about the plebiscite, and under whose auspices the voting would take place, and was told that there would be an Inter-Allied administration to superintend the arrangements and insure perfect freedom of voting. "Through what agency will that administration work? Is it through the officials?" "Evidently," Mr. Wilson answered. "You are doubtless aware that they are Germans?" "Yes. But the administration will possess the right to dismiss those who prove unworthy of their confidence." "Don't you think," insisted M. Dmowski, "that it would be fairer to withdraw one half of the German bureaucrats and give their places to Poles?" To which the President replied: "The administration will be thoroughly impartial and will adopt all suitable measures to render the voting free." There the matter ended.

The two potentates in council, tackling the future status of Lithuania, settled it in an offhand and singular fashion which at any rate bespoke their good intentions. The principle of self-determination, or what was facetiously termed the Balkanization of Europe, was at first applied to that territory and a semi-independent state created in petto which was to contain eight million inhabitants and be linked with Poland. Certain obstacles were soon afterward encountered which had not been foreseen. One was that all the Lithuanians number only two millions, or say at the most two millions and one hundred thousand. Out of these even the Supreme Council could not make eight millions. In Lithuania there are two and a half million Poles, one and a half million Jews, and the remainder are White Russians.[187] It was recognized that a community consisting of such disparate elements, situated where it now is, could hardly live and strive as an independent state. The Lithuanian Jews, however, were of a different way of thinking, and they opposed the Polish claims with a degree of steadfastness and animation which wounded Poland's national pride and left rankling sores behind.

It is worth noting that the representatives of Russia, who are supposed to clutch convulsively at all the states which once formed part of the Tsardom, displayed a degree of political detachment in respect of Lithuania which came as a pleasant surprise to many. The Russian Ambassador in Paris, M. Maklakoff, in a remarkable address before a learned assembly[188] in the French capital, announced that Russia was henceforward disinterested in the status of Lithuania.

That the Poles were minded to deal very liberally with the Lithuanians became evident during the Conference. General Pilsudski, on his own initiative, visited Vilna and issued a proclamation to the Lithuanians announcing that elections would be held, and asking them to make known their desires, which would be realized by the Warsaw government. One of the many curious documents of the Conference is an official missive signed by the General Secretary, M. Dutasta, and addressed to the first Polish delegate, exhorting him to induce his government to come to terms with the Lithuanian government, as behooves two neighboring states. Unluckily for the soundness of that counsel there was no recognized Lithuanian state or Lithuanian government to come to terms with.

As has been often enough pointed out, the actions and utterances of the two world-menders were so infelicitous as to lend color to the belief—shared by the representatives of a number of humiliated nations—that greed of new markets was at the bottom of what purported to be a policy of pure humanitarianism. Some of the delegates were currently supposed to be the unwitting instruments of elusive capitalistic influences. Possibly they would have been astonished were they told this: Great Britain was suspected of working for complete control of the Baltic and its seaboard in order to oust the Germans from the markets of that territory and to have potent levers for action in Poland, Germany, and Russia. The achievement of that end would mean command of the Baltic, which had theretofore been a German lake.[189] It would also entail, it was said, the separation of Dantzig from Poland, and the attraction of the Finns, Esthonians, Letts, and Lithuanians from Germany's orbit into that of Great Britain. In vain the friends of the delegates declared that economic interests were not the mainspring of their deliberate action and that nothing was further from their intention than to angle for a mandate for those countries. The conviction was deep-rooted in the minds of many that each of the Great Powers was playing for its own hand. That there was some apparent foundation for this assumption cannot, as we saw, be gainsaid. Widely and unfavorably commented was the circumstance that in the heat of those discussions at the Conference a man of confidence of the Allies put this significant and impolitic question to one of the plenipotentiaries: "How would you take it if England were to receive a mandate for Lithuania?"

"The Great Powers," observed the most outspoken of the delegates of the lesser states, "are bandits, but as their operations are on a large scale they are entitled to another and more courteous name. Their gaze is fascinated by markets, concessions, monopolies. They are now making preparations for a great haul. At this politicians cannot affect to be scandalized. For it has never been otherwise since men came together in ordered communities. But what is irritating and repellent is the perfume of altruism and philanthropy which permeates this decomposition. We are told that already they are purchasing the wharves of Dantzig, making ready for 'big deals' in Libau, Riga, and Reval, founding a bank in Klagenfurt and negotiating for oil-wells in Rumania. Although deeply immersed in the ethics of politics, they have not lost sight of the worldly goods to be picked up and appropriated on the wearisome journey toward ideal goals. The atmosphere they have thus renewed is peculiarly favorable to the growth of cant, and tends to accelerate the process of moral and social dissolution. And the effects of this mephitic air may prove more durable than the contribution of its creators to the political reorganization of Europe. If we compare the high functions which they might have fulfilled in relation to the vast needs and the unprecedented tendencies of the new age with those which they have unwittingly and deliberately performed as sophists of sentimental morality and destroyers of the wheat together with the tares, we shall have to deplore one of the rarest opportunities missed beyond retrieve."

In this criticism there is a kernel of truth. The ethico-social currents to which the war gave rise had a profoundly moral aspect, and if rightly canalized might have fertilized many lands and have led to a new and healthy state-system. One indispensable condition, however, was that the peoples of the world should themselves be directly interested in the process, that they should be consulted and listened to, and helped or propelled into new grooves of thought and action. Instead of that the delegates contented themselves with giving new names to old institutions and tendencies which stood condemned, and with teaching lawless disrespect for every check and restraint except such as they chose to acknowledge. They were powerful advocates for right and justice, democracy and publicity, but their definitions of these abstract nouns made plain-speaking people gasp. Self-interest and material power were the idols which they set themselves to pull down, but the deities which they put in their places wore the same familiar looks as the idols, only they were differently colored.

FOOTNOTES:

[127] In February, 1919.

[128] The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Pichon, undertook to recognize in principle the independence of Esthonia, provided that Esthonia would take over her part of the Russian debt.

[129] In the first version of the Covenant, Article XIX deals with this subject. In the revised version it is Article XXI.

[130] Cf. L'Echo de Paris, August 19, 1919.

[131] In July, 1919.

[132] L'Echo de Paris, August 19, 1919.

[133] The armistice concluded with Hungary was grossly violated by the Hungarians and had lost its force. The Rumanians, when occupying the country, demanded a new one, and drafted it. The Supreme Council at first demurred, and then desisted from dictation. But its attitude underwent further changes later.

[134] The New York Herald, (Paris ed.), August 20, 1919.

[135] Ibid., May 4, 1919.

[136] I discussed Belgium's demands in a series of special articles published in The London Daily Telegraph and The Philadelphia Public Ledger in the months of January, February, and March, 1919.

[137] In Frisia and Ghelderland.

[138] In August, 1919.

[139] By Article XXI of the Covenant and Article CCCCXXXV of the Treaty.

[140] I was in possession of a complete copy.

[141] Cf. Corriere della Sera, August 24, 1919.

[142] In February.

[143] Cf. Chapter, "Censorship and Secrecy." The writer of these pages was the journalist.

[144] Le Temps, July 8, 1919.

[145] At the close of August, 1916.

[146] I was one of those who at the time maintained that even in the Allies' interests Rumania ought not to enter the war at that conjuncture, and anticipation of that invasion was one of the reasons I adduced.

[147] Also known by the German name of Theiss.

[148] Cf. Le Temps, July 28, 1919.

[149] Cf. The Daily Mail (Paris edition), September 5, 1919.

[150] On June 13, 1919.

[151] On July 11, 1919, some days later, the decision was suspended, owing to the opinion of General Bliss, who disagreed with Foch.

[152] On July 17, 1919.

[153] On July 20th.

[154] Estimated at 85,000.

[155] Moritz Kuhn, who altered his name to Bela Kuhn, was a vulgar criminal. Expelled from school for larceny, he underwent several terms of imprisonment, and is alleged to have pilfered from a fellow-prisoner. Even among some thieves there is no honor.

[156] Italy was represented by Lieutenant-Colonel Romanelli, who resided in Budapest; Britain, by Col. Sir Thomas Cunningham, who was in Vienna, as was also Prince Livio Borghese. Later on the Powers delegated generals to be members of a military mission to the Hungarian capital.

[157] At Bruck.

[158] On July 20th.

[159] Le Journal des Débats, August 4, 1919.

[160] This is a larger proportion than was left to the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles.

[161] Le Temps, July 8, 1919.

[162] It was the habitual practice of the Conference to intrust missions abroad to generals who knew nothing whatever about the countries to which they were sent.

[163] Le Temps, August 8, 1919.

[164] Armistice of November 13, 1918, which had become void.

[165] On June 13, 1919.

[166] Composed of four members, one each for Britain, the United States, France, and Italy.

[167] On July 20th.

[168] Paris journals ascribed it to Mr. Balfour, although it does not bear the hall-mark of a diplomatist.

[169] Le Journal des Débats, August 13, 1919.

[170] Pertinax in L'Echo de Paris, August 10, 1919.

[171] The New York Herald (Paris edition), August 10, 1919.

[172] Le Journal des Débats, August 13, 1919. Article by Auguste Gauvain.

[173] General Gorton is the one who is said to have despatched the telegram.

[174] In the beginning of September, 1919.

[175] The French government having prudently refused to furnish an envoy, the British chose Sir George Clark.

[176] On June 10, 1919.

[177] The actors in this episode were not all officers and civil servants. They included some men in responsible positions.

[178] In Teschen.

[179] On Friday, April 18, 1919.

[180] The Rumanians, on the contrary, had been ordered to keep to the old conditions, although they, too, had lost their force.

[181] That is exactly what happened in the end. But the delegates would not believe it until it became an accomplished fact.

[182] About twenty-five thousand had already left France.

[183] The Ruthenians, Ukrainians, and Little Russians are racially the same people, just as those who speak German in northwestern Germany, Dutch in Holland, and Flemish in Belgium are racially close kindred. The main distinctions between the members of each branch are political.

[184] The Messrs. Wilson, George, Clemenceau, Barons Makino and Sonnino. M. Clemenceau was the nominal chairman, but in reality it was President Wilson who conducted the proceedings.

[185] Bomst is a canton in the former Province (Regierungs-besirk) of Posen, with about sixty thousand inhabitants.

[186] Minutes of this conversation exist.

[187] An interesting Russian tribe, dwelling chiefly in the provinces of Minsk and Grodno (excepting the extreme south), a small part of Suvalki, Vilna (excepting the northwest corner), the entire provinces of Vitebsk and Moghileff, the west part of Smolensk, and a few districts of Tshernigoff.

[188] La Société des Études Politiques. The discourse in question was printed and published.

[189] In Germany and Russia the same view was generally taken of the motives that actuated the policy of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The most elaborate attempt to demonstrate its correctness was made by Cr. Bunke, in The Dantziger Neueste Nachrichten, already mentioned in this book.


VII

POLAND'S OUTLOOK IN THE FUTURE

Casting a parting glance at Poland as she looked when emerging from the Conference in the leading-strings of the Great Western Powers, after having escaped from the Bolshevist dangers that compassed her round, we behold her about to begin her national existence as a semi-independent nation, beset with enemies domestic and foreign. For it would be an abuse of terms to affirm that Poland, or, indeed, any of the lesser states, is fully independent in the old sense of the word. The special treaty imposed on her by the Great Two obliges her to accord free transit to Allied goods and certain privileges to her Jewish and other minorities; to accept the supervision and intervention of the League of Nations, which the Poles contend means in their case an Anglo-Saxon-Jewish association; and, at the outset, at any rate, to recognize the French generalissimus as the supreme commander of her troops.

Poland's frontiers and general status ought, if the scheme of her French protectors had been executed, to have been accommodated to the peculiar functions which they destined her to fill in New Europe. France's plan was to make of Poland a wall between Germany and Russia. The marked tendency of the other two Conference leaders was to transform it into a bridge between those two countries. And the outcome of the compromise between them has been to construct something which, without being either, combines all the disadvantages of both. It is a bridge for Germany and a wall for Bolshevist Russia. That is the verdict of a large number of Poles. Although the Europe of the future is to be a pacific and ethically constituted community, whose members will have their disputes and quarrels with one another settled by arbitration courts and other conciliatory tribunals, war and efficient preparation for it were none the less uppermost in the minds of the circumspect lawgivers. Hence the Anglo-Saxon agreement to defend France against unprovoked aggression. Hence, too, the solicitude displayed by the French to have the Polish state, which is to be their mainstay in eastern Europe, equipped with every territorial and other guaranty necessary to qualify it for the duties. But what the French government contrived to obtain for itself it failed to secure for its new Slav ally. Nay, oddly enough it voted with the Anglo-Saxon delegates for keeping all the lesser states under the tutelage of the League. The Duumvirs, having made the requisite concessions to France, were resolved in Poland's case to avoid a further recoil toward the condemned forms of the old system of equilibrium. Hence the various plebiscites, home-rule charters, subdivisions of territory, and other evidences of a struggle for reform along the line of least resistance, as though in the unavoidable future conflict between timidly propounded theories and politico-social forces the former had any serious chance of surviving. In politics, as in coinage, it is the debased metal that ousts the gold from circulation.

Poland's situation is difficult; some people would call it precarious. She is surrounded by potential enemies abroad and at home—Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Magyars, and Jews. A considerable number of Teutons are incorporated in her republic to-day, and also a large number of people of Russian race. Now, Russia and Germany, even if they renounce all designs of reconquering the territory which they misruled for such a long span of time, may feel tempted one day to recover their own kindred, and what they consider to be their own territory. And irredentism is one of the worst political plagues for all the three parties who usually suffer from it. If then Germany and Russia were to combine and attack Poland, the consequences would be serious. That democratic Germany would risk such a wild adventure in the near future is inconceivable. But history operates with long periods of time, and it behooves statesmanship to do likewise.

A Polish statesman would start from the assumption that, as Russia and Germany have for the time being ceased to be efficient members of the European state-system, a good understanding may be come to with both of them, and a close intimacy cultivated with one. Resourcefulness and statecraft will be requisite to this consummation. For some Russians are still uncompromising, and would fain take back a part of what the revolutionary wave swept out of their country's grasp, but circumstance bids fair to set free a potent moderating force in the near future. Already it is incarnated in statesmen of the new type. In this connection it is instructive to pass in review the secret maneuvers by which the recognition of Poland's independence was, so to say, extorted from a Russian Minister, who was reputed at the time to be a Democrat of the Democrats. As some governments have now become champions of publicity, I venture to hope that this disclosure will be as helpful to those whom it concerns as was the systematic suppression of my articles and telegrams during the space of four years.[190]

On the outbreak of the Russian revolution Poland's representatives in Britain, who had been ceaselessly working for the restoration of their country, approached the British government with a request that the opportunity should be utilized at once, and the new democratic Cabinet in Petrograd requested to issue a proclamation recognizing the independence of Poland. The reasons for this move having been propounded in detail, orally and in writing, the Foreign Secretary despatched at once a telegram to the Ambassador in the Russian capital, instructing him to lay the matter before the Russian Foreign Minister and urge him to lose no time in establishing the claim of the Polish provisional government to the sympathies of the world, and the redress of its wrongs by Russia. Sir George Buchanan called on Professor Milyukoff, then Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Constitutional Democratic party, and propounded to him the views of the British government, which agreed with those of France and Italy, and hoped he would see his way to profit by the opportunity. The answer was prompt and definite, and within forty-eight hours of Mr. Balfour's despatch it reached the Foreign Office. The gist of it was that the Minister of Foreign Affairs regretted his inability to deal with the problem at that conjuncture, owing to its great complexity and various bearings, and also because of his apprehension that the Poles would demand the incorporation of Russian lands in their reconstituted state. From this answer many conclusions might fairly be drawn respecting persons, parties, and principles on the surface of revolutionary Russia. But to his credit, Mr. Balfour did not accept it as final. He again telegraphed to the British Ambassador, instructing him to insist upon the recognition of Poland, as the matter was urgent, and to exhort the provisional government to give in good time the desired proof of the democratic faith that is to save Russia. Sir George Buchanan accomplished the task expeditiously. M. Milyukoff gave way, drafted and issued the proclamation. Mr. Bonar Law welcomed it in a felicitous speech in the House of Commons,[191] and the Entente press lauded to the skies the generous spirit of the new Russian government. The Russian people and their leaders have traveled far since then, and have rid themselves of much useless ballast.

As Slavs the Poles might have been naturally predisposed to live in amity with the Russians, were it not for the specter of the past that stands between them. But now that Russia is a democracy in fact as well as in name, this is much more feasible than it ever was before, and it is also indispensable to the Russians. In the first place, it is possible that Poland may have consolidated her forces before her mighty neighbor has recovered the status corresponding to her numbers and resources. If the present estimates are correct, and the frontiers, when definitely traced, leave Poland a republic with some thirty-five million people, such is her extraordinary birth-rate and the territorial scope it has for development, that in the not far distant future her population may exceed that of France. Assuming for the sake of argument that armies and other national defenses will count in politics as much as hitherto, Poland's specific weight will then be considerable. She will have become not indeed a world power (to-day there are only two such), but a European Great Power whose friendship will be well worth acquiring.

In the meanwhile Polish statesmen—the Poles have one in Roman Dmowski—may strike up a friendly accord with Russia, abandoning definitely and formally all claims to so-called historic Poland, disinteresting themselves in all the Baltic problems which concern Russia so closely, and envisaging the Ukraine from a point of view that harmonizes with hers. And if the two peoples could thus find a common basis of friendly association, Poland would have solved at least one of her Sphinx questions.

As for the internal development of the nation, it is seemingly hampered with as many hindrances as the international. It may be likened to the world after creation, bearing marks of the chaos of the eve. The German Poles differ considerably from the Austrian, while the Russian Poles are differentiated from both. The last-named still show traces of recent servitude in their everyday avocations. They lack the push and the energy of purpose so necessary nowadays in the struggle for life. The Austrian Poles in general are reputed to be likewise easy-going, lax, and more brilliant than solid, while their administrative qualities are said to be impaired by a leaning toward Oriental methods of transacting business. The Polish inhabitants of the provinces hitherto under Germany are people of a different temperament. They have assimilated some of the best qualities of the Teuton without sacrificing those which are inherent in men of their own race. A thorough grasp of detail and a gift for organization characterize their conceptions, and precision, thoroughness, and conscientiousness are predicated of their methods. If it be true that the first reform peremptorily called for in the new republic is an administrative purge, it follows that it can be most successfully accomplished with the whole-hearted co-operation of the German Poles, whose superior education fits them to conform their schemes to the most urgent needs of the nation and the epoch.

The next measure will be internal colonization. There are considerable tracts of land in what once was Russian Poland, the population of which, owing to the havoc of war, is abnormally sparse. Some districts, like that of the Pripet marshes, which even at the best of times had but five persons to the kilometer, are practically deserts. For the Russian army, when retreating before the Germans, drove before it a huge population computed at eight millions, who inhabited the territory to the east of Brest-Litovsk and northward between Lida and Minsk. Of these eight millions many perished on the way. A large percentage of the survivors never returned.[192] Roughly speaking, a couple of millions (mostly Poles and Jews) went back to their ruined homes. Now the Poles, who are one of the most prolific races in Europe, might be encouraged to settle on these thinly populated lands, which they could convert into ethnographically Polish districts within a relatively short span of time. These, however, are merely the ideas of a friendly observer, whose opinion cannot lay claim to any weight.

To-day Poland's hope is not, as it has been hitherto, the nobleman, the professor, and the publicist, but the peasant. The members of this class are the nucleus of the new nation. It is from their midst that Poland's future representatives in politics, arts, and science will be drawn. Already the peasants are having their sons educated in high-schools and universities, of which the republic has a fair number well supplied with qualified teachers,[193] and they are resolute adversaries of every movement tainted with Bolshevism.

Thus the difficulties and dangers with which new Poland will have to contend are redoubtable. But she stands a good chance of overcoming them and reaching the goal where lies her one hope of playing a noteworthy part in reorganized Europe. The indispensable condition of success is that the current of opinion and sentiment in the country shall buoy up reforming statesmen. These must not only understand the requirements of the new epoch and be alive to the necessity of penetrating public opinion, but also possess the courage to place high social aims at the head of their life and career. Statesmen of this temper are rare to-day, but Poland possesses at least one of them. Her resources warrant the conviction which her chiefs firmly entertain that she may in a relatively near future acquire the economic leadership of eastern Europe, and in population, military strength, and area equal France.

Parenthetically it may be observed that the enthusiasm of the Poles for British institutions and for intimate relations with Great Britain has perceptibly cooled.

In the limitations to which she is now subjected, her more optimistic leaders discern the temporarily unavoidable condition of a beneficent process of working forward toward indefinite amelioration. Their people's faith, that may one day raise the country above the highest summit of its past historical development, if it does not reconcile them to the present, may nerve them to the effort which shall realize that high consummation in the future.

FOOTNOTES:

[190] Most of my articles written during the last half of the war, and some during the armistice, were held back on grounds which were presumably patriotic. I share with those who were instrumental in keeping them from the public the moral portion of the reward which consists in the assumption that some high purpose was served by the suppression.

[191] On April 26, 1917.

[192] Mainly White Russians.

[193] The Poles have universities in Cracow, Warsaw, Lvoff (Lemberg), Liublin, and will shortly open one in Posen. One Polish statesman entertains a novel and useful idea which will probably be tested in the University of Posen. Noticing that the greater the progress of technical knowledge the less is the advance made in the knowledge of men, which is perhaps the most pressing need of the new age, this statesman proposes to create a new type of university, where there would be two principal sections, one for the study of natural sciences and mathematics, and the other for the study of men, which would include biology, psychology, ethnography, sociology, philology, history, etc.


VIII

ITALY

Of all the problems submitted to the Conference, those raised by Italy's demands may truly be said to have been among the easiest. Whether placed in the light of the Fourteen Points or of the old system of the rights of the victors, they would fall into their places almost automatically. But the peace criteria were identical with neither of those principles. They consisted of several heterogeneous maxims which were invoked alternately, Mr. Wilson deciding which was applicable to the particular case under discussion. And from his judgment there was no appeal.

It is of the essence of statesmanship to be able to put oneself in the place—one might almost say in the skin—of the foreign peoples and governments with which one is called upon to deal. But the feat is arduous and presupposes a variety of conditions which the President was unable to fulfil. His conception of Europe, for example, was much too simple. It has been aptly likened to that of the American economist who once remarked to the manager of an English railway: "You Britishers are handicapped by having to build your railway lines through cities and towns. We go to work diligently: we first construct the road and create the cities afterward."

And Mr. Wilson happened just then to be in quest of a fulcrum on which to rest his idealistic lever. For he had already been driven by egotistic governments from several of his commanding positions, and people were gibingly asking whether the new political gospel was being preached only as a foil for backslidings. Thus he abandoned the freedom of the seas ... on which he had taken a determined stand before the world. Although he refused the Rhine frontier to France, he had reluctantly given way to M. Clemenceau in the matter of the Saar Valley, assenting to a monstrous arrangement by which the German inhabitants of that region were to be handed over to the French Republic against their expressed will, as a set-off for a sum in gold which Germany would certainly be unable to pay.[194] He doubtless foresaw that he would also yield on the momentous issue of Shantung and the Chino-Japanese secret treaty. In a word, some of his more important abstract tenets professed in words were being brushed aside when it came to acts, and his position was truly unenviable. Naturally, therefore, he seized the first favorable occasion to apply them vigorously and unswervingly. This was supplied by the dispute between Italy and Jugoslavia, two nations which he held, so to say, in the hollow of his hand.

The latter state, still in the making, depended for its frontiers entirely on the fiat of the American President backed by the Premiers of Britain and France. And of this backing Mr. Wilson was assured. Italy, although more powerful militarily than Jugoslavia, was likewise economically dependent upon the good-will of the two English-speaking communities, who were assured in advance of the support of the French Republic. If, therefore, she could not be reasoned or cajoled into obeying the injunctions of the Supreme Council, she could easily be made malleable by other means. In her case, therefore, Mr. Wilson's ethical notions might be fearlessly applied. That this was the idea which underlay the President's policy is the obvious inference from the calm, unyielding way in which he treated the Italian delegation. In this connection it should be borne in mind that there is no more important distinction between all former peace settlements and that of the Paris Conference than the unavowed but indubitable fact that the latter rests upon the hegemony of the English-speaking communities of the world, whereas the former were based upon the balance of power. So immense a change could not be effected without discreetly throwing out as useless ballast some of the highly prized dogmas of the accepted political creeds, even at the cost of impairing the solidarity of the Latin races. This was effected incidentally. As a matter of fact, the French are not, properly speaking, a Latin race, nor has their solidarity with Italy or Spain ever been a moving political force in recent times. Italy's refusal to fight side by side with her Teuton allies against France and her backers may conceivably be the result of racial affinities, but it has hardly ever been ascribed to that sentimental source. Sentiment in politics is a myth. In any case, M. Clemenceau discerned no pressing reason for making painful efforts to perpetuate the Latin union, while solicitude for national interests hindered him from making costly concessions to it.

Naturally the cardinal innovation of which this was a corollary was never invoked as the ground for any of the exceptional measures adopted by the Conference. And yet it was the motive for several, for although no allusion was made to the hegemony of Anglo-Saxondom, it was ever operative in the subconsciousness of the two plenipotentiaries. And in view of the omnipotence of these two nations, they temporarily sacrificed consistency to tactics, probably without conscientious qualms, and certainly without political misgivings. That would seem to be a partial explanation of the lengths to which the Conference went in the direction of concessions to the Great Powers' imperialist demands. France asked to be recognized and treated as the personification of that civilization for which the Allied peoples had fought. And for many reasons, which it would be superfluous to discuss here, a large part of her claim was allowed. This concession was attacked by many as connoting a departure from principle, but the deviation was more apparent than real, for under all the wrappings of idealistic catchwords lay the primeval doctrine of force. The only substantial difference between the old system and the new was to be found in the wielders of the force and the ends to which they intended to apply it. Force remains the granite foundation of the new ordering, as it had been of the old. But its employment, it was believed, would be different in the future from what it had been in the past. Concentrated in the hands of the English-speaking peoples, it would become so formidable a weapon that it need never be actually wielded. Possession of overwhelmingly superior strength would suffice to enforce obedience to the decrees of its possessors, which always will, it is assumed, be inspired by equity. An actual trial of strength would be obviated, therefore, at least so long as the relative military and economic conditions of the world states underwent no sensible change. To this extent the war specter would be exorcised and trying abuses abolished.

That those views were expressly formulated and thrown into the clauses of a secret program is unlikely. But it seems to be a fact that the general outlines of such a policy were conceived and tacitly adhered to. These outlines governed the action of the two world-arbiters, not only in the dictatorial decrees issued in the name of political idealism and its Fourteen Points, which were so bitterly resented as oppressive by Italy, Rumania, Jugoslavia, Poland, and Greece, but likewise in those other concessions which scandalized the political puritans and gladdened the hearts of the French, the Japanese, the Jugoslavs, and the Jews. The dictatorial decrees were inspired by the delegates' fundamental aims, the concessions by their tactical needs—the former, therefore, were meant to be permanent, the latter transient.

All other explanations of the Italian crisis, however well they may fit certain of its phases, are, when applied to the pith of the matter, beside the mark. Even if it were true, as the dramatist, Sem Benelli, wrote, that "President Wilson evidently considers our people as on the plane of an African colony, dominated by the will of a few ambitious men," that would not account for the tenacious determination with which the President held to his slighted theory.

Italy's position in Europe was in many respects peculiar. Men still living remember the time when her name was scarcely more than a geographical expression which gradually, during the last sixty years, came to connote a hard-working, sober, patriotic nation. Only little by little did she recover her finest provinces and her capital, and even then her unity was not fully achieved. Austria still held many of her sons, not only in the Trentino, but also on the other shore of the Adriatic. But for thirty years her desire to recover these lost children was paralyzed by international conditions. In her own interests, as well as in those of peace, she had become the third member of an alliance which constrained her to suppress her patriotic feelings and allowed her to bend all her energies to the prevention of a European conflict.

When hostilities broke out, the attitude of the Italian government was a matter of extreme moment to France and the Entente. Much, perhaps the fate of Europe, depended on whether they would remain neutral or throw in their lot with the Teutons. They chose the former alternative and literally saved the situation. The question of motive is wholly irrelevant. Later on they were urged to move a step farther and take an active part against their former allies. But a powerful body of opinion and sentiment in the country was opposed to military co-operation, on the ground that the sum total of the results to be obtained by quiescence would exceed the guerdon of victory won by the side of the Entente. The correctness of this estimate depended upon many incalculable factors, among which was the duration of the struggle. The consensus of opinion was that it would be brief, in which case the terms dangled before Italy's eyes by the Entente would, it was believed by the Cabinet, greatly transcend those which the Central Powers were prepared to offer. Anyhow they were accepted and the compact was negotiated, signed, and ratified by men whose idealism marred their practical sense, and whose policy of sacred egotism, resolute in words and feeble in action, merely impaired the good name of the government without bringing any corresponding compensation to the country. The world struggle lasted much longer than the statesmen had dared to anticipate; Italy's obligations were greatly augmented by Russia's defection, she had to bear the brunt of all, instead of a part of Austria's forces, whereby the sacrifices demanded of her became proportionately heavier. Altogether it is fair to say that the difficulties to be overcome and the hardships to be endured before the Italian people reached their goal were and still are but imperfectly realized by their allies. For the obstacles were gigantic, the effort heroic; alone the results shrank to disappointing dimensions.

The war over, Italian statesmen confidently believed that those supererogatory exertions would be appropriately recognized by the Allies. And this expectation quickly crystallized into territorial demands. The press which voiced them ruffled the temper of Anglo-Saxondom by clamoring for more than it was ever likely to concede, and buoyed up their own nation with illusory hopes, the non-fulfilment of which was certain to produce national discontent. Curiously enough, both the government and the press laid the main stress upon territorial expansion, leaving economic advantages almost wholly out of account.

It was at this conjuncture that Mr. Wilson made his appearance and threw all the pieces on the political chessboard into weird confusion. "You," he virtually said, "have been fighting for the dismemberment of your secular enemy, Austria. Well, she is now dismembered and you have full satisfaction. Your frontiers shall be extended at her expense, but not at the expense of the new states which have arisen on her ruins. On the contrary, their rights will circumscribe your claims and limit your territorial aggrandizement. Not only can you not have all the additional territory you covet, but I must refuse to allot even what has been guaranteed to you by your secret treaty. I refuse to recognize that because the United States government was no party to it, was, in fact, wholly unaware of it until recently. New circumstances have transformed it into a mere scrap of paper."

This language was not understood by the Italian people. For them the sacredness of treaties was a dogma not to be questioned, and least of all by the champion of right, justice, and good faith. They had welcomed the new order preached by the American statesman, but were unable to reconcile it with the tearing up of existing conventions, the repudiation of legal rights, the dissolution of alliances. In particular their treaty with France, Britain, and Russia had contributed materially to the victory over the common enemy, had in fact saved the Allies. "It was Italy's intervention," said the chief of the Austrian General Staff, Conrad von Hoetzendorff, "that brought about the disaster. Without that the Central Empires would infallibly have won the war."[195] And there is no reason to doubt his assertion. In truth Italy had done all she had promised to the Allies, and more. She had contributed materially to save France—wholly gratuitously. It was also her neutrality, which she could have bartered, but did not,[196] that turned the scale at Bucharest against the military intervention of Rumania on the side of the Teutons.[197] And without the neutrality of both these countries at the outset of hostilities the course of the struggle and of European history would have been widely different from what they have been. And now that the Allies had achieved their aim they were to refuse to perform their part of the compact in the name, too, of a moral principle from the operation of which three great Powers were dispensed. That was the light in which the matter appeared to the unsophisticated mind of the average Italian, and not to him alone. Others accustomed to abstract reasoning asked whether the best preparation for the future régime of right and justice, and all that these imply, is to transgress existing rights and violate ordinary justice, and what difference there is between the demoralizing influence of this procedure and that of professional Bolshevists. There was but one adequate answer to this objection, and it consisted in the whole-hearted and rigid application of the Wilsonian tenets to all nations without exception. But even the author of these tenets did not venture to make it.

The essence of the territorial question lay in the disposal of the eastern shore of the Adriatic.[198] The Jugoslavs claimed all Istria and Dalmatia, and based their claim partly on the principle of nationalities and partly on the vital necessity of having outlets on that sea, and in particular Fiume, the most important of them all, which they described as essentially Croatian and indispensable as a port. The Italian delegates, joining issue with the Jugoslavs, and claiming a section of the seaboard and Fiume, argued that the greatest part of the East Adriatic shore would still remain Croatian, together with all the ports of the Croatian coast and others in southern Dalmatia—in a word, twelve ports, including Spalato and Ragusa, and a thousand kilometers of seaboard. The Jugoslavs met this assertion with the objection that the outlets in question were inaccessible, all except Fiume and Metkovitch. As for Fiume,[199] the Italian delegates contended that although not promised to Italy by the Treaty of London, it was historically hers, because, having been for centuries an autonomous entity and having as such religiously preserved its Italian character, its inhabitants had exercised their rights to manifest by plebiscite their desire to be united with the mother country. They further denied that it was indispensable to the Jugoslavs because these would receive a dozen other ports and also because the traffic between Croatia and Fiume was represented by only 7 per cent. of the whole, and even that of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia combined by only 13 per cent. Further, Italy would undertake to give all requisite export facilities in Fiume to the Jugoslavs.

The latter traversed many of these statements, and in particular that which described Fiume as a separate autonomous entity and as an essentially Italian city. Archives were ransacked by both parties, ancient documents produced, analyzed, condemned as forgeries or appealed to as authentic proofs, chance phrases were culled from various writers of bygone days and offered as evidence in support of each contention. Thus the contest grew heated. It was further inflamed by the attitude of Italy's allies, who appeared to her as either covertly unfriendly or at best lukewarm.

M. Clemenceau, who maintained during the peace negotiations the epithet "Tiger" which he had earned long before, was alleged to have said in the course of one of those conversations which were misnamed private, "For Italy to demand Fiume is to ask for the moon."[200] Officially he took the side of Mr. Wilson, as did also the British Premier, and Italy's two allies signified but a cold assent to those other claims which were covered by their own treaty. But they made no secret of their desire to see that instrument wholly set aside. Fiume they would not bestow on their ally, at least not unless she was prepared to offer an equivalent to the Jugoslavs and to satisfy the President of the United States.

This advocacy of the claims of the Jugoslavs was bitterly resented by the Italians. For centuries the two peoples had been rivals or enemies, and during the war the Jugoslavs fought with fury against the Italians. For Italy the arch-enemy had ever been Austria and Austria was largely Slav. "Austria," they say, "was the official name given to the cruel enemy against whom we fought, but it was generally the Croatians and other Slavs whom our gallant soldiers found facing them, and it was they who were guilty of the misdeeds from which our armies suffered." Official documents prove this.[201] Orders of the day issued by the Austrian Command eulogize "the Serbo-Croatian battalions who vied with the Austro-German and Hungarian soldiers in resisting the pitfalls dug by the enemy to cause them to swerve from their fidelity and take the road to treason.[202] In the last battle which ended the existence of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy a large contingent of excellent Croatian troops fought resolutely against the Italian armies."

In Italy an impressive story is told which shows how this transformation of the enemy of yesterday into the ally of to-day sometimes worked out. The son of an Italian citizen who was fighting as an aviator was killed toward the end of the war, in a duel fought in the air, by an Austrian combatant. Soon after the armistice was signed the sorrowing father repaired to the place where his son had fallen. He there found an ex-Austrian officer, the lucky victor and slayer of his son, wearing in his buttonhole the Jugoslav cocarde, who, advancing toward him with extended hand, uttered the greeting, "You and I are now allies."[203] The historian may smile at the naïveté of this anecdote, but the statesman will acknowledge that it characterized the relations between the inhabitants of the new state and the Italians. One can divine the feelings of these when they were exhorted to treat their ex-enemies as friends and allies.

"Is it surprising, then," the Italians asked, "that we cannot suddenly conceive an ardent affection for the ruthless 'Austrians' of whose cruelties we were bitterly complaining a few months back? Is it strange that we cannot find it in our hearts to cut off a slice of Italian territory and make it over to them as one of the fruits of—our victory over them? If Italy had not first adopted neutrality and then joined the Allies in the war there would be no Jugoslavia to-day. Are we now to pay for our altruism by sacrificing Italian soil and Italian souls to the secular enemies of our race?" In a word, the armistice transformed Italy's enemy into a friend and ally for whose sake she was summoned to abandon some of the fruits of a hard-earned victory and a part of her secular aspirations. What, asked the Italian delegates, would France answer if she were told that the Prussians whom her matchless armies defeated must henceforth be looked upon as friends and endowed with some new colonies which would otherwise be hers? The Italian dramatist Sem Benelli put the matter tersely: "The collapse of Austria transforms itself therefore into a play of words, so much so that our people, who are much more precise because they languished under the Austrian yoke and the Austrian scourge, never call the Austrians by this name; they call them always Croatians, knowing well that the Croatians and the Slavs who constituted Austria were our fiercest taskmasters and most cruel executioners. It is naïve to think that the ineradicable characteristics and tendencies of peoples can be modified by a change of name and a new flag."

But there was another way of looking at the matter, and the Allies, together with the Jugoslavs, made the most of it. The Slav character of the disputed territory was emphasized, the principle of nationality invoked, and the danger of incorporating an unfriendly foreign element which could not be assimilated was solemnly pointed out. But where sentiment actuates, reason is generally impotent. The policy of the Italian government, like that of all other governments, was frankly nationalistic; whether it was also statesman-like may well be questioned—indeed the question has already been answered by some of Italy's principal press organs in the negative.[204] They accuse the Cabinet of having deliberately let loose popular passions which it afterward vainly sought to allay, and the facts which they allege in support of the charge have never been denied.

It was certainly to Italy's best interests to strike up a friendly agreement with the new state, if that were feasible, and some of the men in whose hands her destinies rested, feeling their responsibility, made a laudable attempt to come to an understanding. Signor Orlando, whose sagacity is equal to his resourcefulness, was one. In London he had talked the subject over with the Croatian leader, M. Trumbic, and favored the movement toward reconciliation[205] which Baron Sonnino, his colleague, as resolutely discouraged. A congress was accordingly held in Rome[206] and an accord projected. The reciprocal relations became amicable. The Jugoslav committee in the Italian capital congratulated Signor Orlando on the victory of the Piave. But owing to various causes, especially to Baron Sonnino's opposition, these inchoate sentiments of neighborliness quickly lost their warmth and finally vanished. No trace of them remained at the Paris Conference, where the delegates of the two states did not converse together nor even salute one another.

President Wilson's visit to Rome, where, to use an Italian expression, he was welcomed by Delirium, seemed to brighten Italy's outlook on the future. Much was afterward made by the President's enemies of the subsequent change toward him in the sentiments of the Italian people. This is commonly ascribed to his failure to fulfil the expectations which his words or attitude aroused or warranted. Nothing could well be more misleading. Mr. Wilson's position on the subject of Italy's claims never changed, nor did he say or do aught that would justify a doubt as to what it was. In Rome he spoke to the Ministers in exactly the same terms as in Paris at the Conference. He apprized them in January of what he proposed to do in April and he even contemplated issuing a declaration of his Italian policy at once. But he was earnestly requested by the Ministers to keep his counsel to himself and to make no public allusion to it during his sojourn in Italy.[207] It was not his fault, therefore, if the Italian people cherished illusory hopes. In Paris Signer Orlando had an important encounter with Mr. Wilson,[208] who told him plainly that the allotment of the northern frontiers traced for Italy by the London Treaty would be confirmed, while that of the territory on the eastern Adriatic would be quashed. The division of the spoils of Austria there must, he added, be made congruously with a map which he handed to the Italian Premier. It was proved on examination to be identical with one already published by the New Europe.[209] Signor Orlando glanced at the map and in courteous phraseology unfolded the reasons why he could not entertain the settlement proposed. He added that no Italian parliament would ratify it. Thereupon the President turned the discussion to politico-ethical lines, pointed out the harm which the annexation of an alien and unfriendly element could inflict upon Italy, the great advantages which cordial relations with her Slav neighbor would confer on her, and the ease with which she might gain the markets of the new state. A young and small nation like the Jugoslavs would be grateful for an act of generosity and would repay it by lasting friendship—a return worth far more than the contentious territories. "Ah, you don't know the Jugoslavs, Mr. President," exclaimed Signor Orlando. "If Italy were to cede to them Dalmatia, Fiume, and eastern Istria they would forthwith lay claim to Trieste and Pola and, after Trieste and Pola, to Friuli and Gorizia."

After some further discussion Mr. Wilson said: "Well, I am unable to reconcile with my principles the recognition of secret treaties, and as the two are incompatible I uphold the principles." "I, too," rejoined the Italian Premier, "condemn secret treaties in the future when the new principles will have begun to regulate international politics. As for those compacts which were concluded during the war they were all secret, not excluding those to which the United States was a party." The President demurred to this reservation. He conceived and put his case briefly as follows: Italy, like her allies, had had it in her power to accept the Fourteen Points, reject them, or make reserves. Britain and France had taken exception to those clauses which they were determined to reject, whereas Italy signified her adhesion to them all. Therefore she was bound by the principles underlying them and had forfeited the right to invoke a secret treaty. The settlement of the issues turning upon Dalmatia, Istria, Fiume, and the islands must consequently be taken in hand without reference to the clauses of that instrument. Examined on their merits and in the light of the new arrangements, Italy's claims could not be upheld. It would be unfair to the Jugoslavs who inhabit the whole country to cut them off from their own seaboard. Nor would such a measure be helpful to Italy herself, whose interest it was to form a homogeneous whole, consolidate her dominions, and prepare for the coming economic struggle for national well-being. The principle of nationality must, therefore, be allowed full play.

As for Fiume, even if the city were, as alleged, an independent entity and desirous of being incorporated in Italy, one would still have to set against these facts Jugoslavia's imperative need of an outlet to the sea. Here the principle of economic necessity outweighs those of nationality and free determination. A country must live, and therefore be endowed with the wherewithal to support life. On these grounds, judgment should be entered for the Jugoslavs.

The Italian Premier's answer was equally clear, but he could not unburden his mind of it all. His government had, it was true, adhered to the Fourteen Points without reservation. But the assumptions on which it gave this undertaking were that it would not be used to upset past compacts, but would be reserved for future settlements; that even had it been otherwise the maxims in question should be deemed relevant in Italy's case only if applied impartially to all states, and that the entire work of reorganization should rest on this ethical foundation. A régime of exceptions, with privileged and unprivileged nations, would obviously render the scheme futile and inacceptable. Yet this was the system that was actually being introduced. If secret treaties were to be abrogated, then let the convention between Japan and China be also put out of court and the dispute between them adjudicated upon its merits. If the Fourteen Points are binding, let the freedom of the seas be proclaimed. If equal rights are to be conferred upon all states, let the Monroe Doctrine be repealed. If disarmament is to become a reality, let Britain and America cease to build warships. Suppose for a moment that to-morrow Brazil or Chile were to complain of the conduct of the United States, the League of Nations, in whose name Mr. Wilson speaks, would be hindered by the Monroe Doctrine from intervening, whereas Britain and the United States in analogous conditions may intermeddle in the affairs of any of the lesser states. When Ireland or Egypt or India uplifts its voice against Britain, it is but a voice in the desert which awakens no echo. If Fiume were inhabited by American citizens who, with a like claim to be considered a separate entity, asked to be allowed to live under the Stars and Stripes, what would President Wilson's attitude be then? Would he turn a deaf ear to their prayer? Surely not. Why, in the case of Italy, does he not do as he would be done by? What it all comes to is that the new ordering under the flag of equality is to consist of superior and inferior nations, of which the former, who speak English, are to possess unlimited power over the latter, to decide what is good for them and what is bad, what is licit and what is forbidden. And against their fiat there is to be no appeal. In a word, it is to be the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon race.

It is worth noting that Signor Orlando's arguments were all derived from the merits of the case, not from the terms or the force of the London Treaty. Fiume, he said, had besought Italy to incorporate it, and had made this request before the armistice, at a moment when it was risky to proclaim attachments to the kingdom.[210] The inhabitants had invoked Mr. Wilson's own words: "National aspirations must be respected.... Self-determination is not a mere phrase." "Peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game. Every territorial settlement involved in this war must be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned, and not as a part of any adjustment for compromise of claims among rival states." And in his address at Mount Vernon the President had advocated a doctrine which is peculiarly applicable to Fiume—i.e.:

"The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship, upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement, for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery."[211] These maxims laid down by Mr. Wilson implicitly allot Fiume to Italy.

Finally as to the objection that Italy's claims would entail the incorporation of a number of Slavs, the answer was that the percentage was negligible as compared with the number of foreign elements annexed by other states. The Poles, it was estimated, would have some 30 per cent. of aliens, the Czechs not less, Rumania 17 per cent., Jugoslavia 11 per cent., France 4 per cent., and Italy only 3 per cent.

In February the Jugoslavs made a strategic move, which many admired as clever, and others blamed as unwise. They proposed that all differences between their country and Italy should be submitted to Mr. Wilson's arbitration. Considering that the President's mind was made up on the subject from the beginning, and that he had decided against Italy, it was natural that the delegation in whose favor his decision was known to incline should be eager to get it accepted by their rivals. As neither side was ignorant of what the result of the arbitration would be, only one of the two could be expected to close with the offer, and the most it could hope by doing this was to embarrass the other. The Italian answer was ingenious. Their dispute, they said, was not with Serbia, who alone was represented at the Conference; it concerned Croatia, who had no official standing there, and whose frontiers were not yet determined, but would in due time be traced by the Conference, of which Italy was a member. The decision would be arrived at after an exhaustive study, and its probable consequences to Europe's peace would be duly considered. As extreme circumspection was imperative before formulating a verdict, five plenipotentiaries would seem better qualified than any one of them, even though he were the wisest of the group. To remove the question from the competency of the Conference, which was expressly convoked to deal with such issues, and submit it to an individual, would be felt as a slight on the Supreme Council. And so the matter dropped.

Signor Orlando knew that if he had adopted the suggestion and made Mr. Wilson arbiter, Italy's hopes would have been promptly extinguished in the name of the Fourteen Points, and her example held up for all the lesser states to imitate. The President was, however, convinced that the Italian people would have ratified the arrangement with alacrity. It is worth recording that he was so sure of his own hold on the Italian masses that, when urging Signor Orlando to relinquish his demand for Fiume and the Dalmatian coast, he volunteered to provide him with a message written by himself to serve as the Premier's justification. Signor Orlando was to read out this document in Parliament in order to make it clear to the nation that the renunciation had been demanded by America, that it would most efficaciously promote Italy's best interests, and should for that reason be ratified with alacrity. Signor Orlando, however, declined the certificate and things took their course.

In Paris the Italian delegation made little headway. Every one admired, esteemed, and felt drawn toward the first delegate, who, left to himself, would probably have secured for his country advantageous conditions, even though he might be unable to add Fiume to those secured by the secret treaty. But he was not left to himself. He had to reckon with his Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was as mute as an oyster and almost as unsociable. Baron Sonnino had his own policy, which was immutable, almost unutterable. At the Conference he seemed unwilling to propound, much less to discuss it, even with those foreign colleagues on whose co-operation or approval its realization depended. He actually shunned delegates who would fain have talked over their common interests in a friendly, informal way, and whose business it was to strike up an agreement. In fact, results which could be secured only by persuading indifferent or hostile people and capturing their good-will he expected to attain by holding aloof from all and leading the life of a hermit, one might almost say of a misanthrope. One can imagine the feelings, if one may not reproduce the utterances, of English-speaking officials, whose legitimate desire for a free exchange of views with Italy's official spokesman was thwarted by the idiosyncrasies of her own Minister of Foreign Affairs. In Allied circles Baron Sonnino was distinctly unpopular, and his unpopularity produced a marked effect on the cause he had at heart. He was wholly destitute of friends. He had, it is true, only two enemies, but they were himself and the foreign element who had to work with him. Italy's cause was therefore inadequately served.

Several months' trial showed the unwisdom of Baron Sonnino's attitude, which tended to defeat his own policy. Italy was paid back by her allies in her own coin, aloofness for aloofness. After she had declined the Jugoslavs' ingenious proposal to refer their dispute to Mr. Wilson the three delegates[212] agreed among themselves to postpone her special problems until peace was signed with Germany, but Signor Orlando, having got wind of the matter, moved every lever to have them put into the forefront of the agenda. He went so far as to say that he would not sign the Treaty unless his country's claims were first settled, because that document would make the League of Nations—and therefore Italy as a member of the League—the guarantor of other nations' territories, whereas she herself had no defined territories for others to guarantee. She would not undertake to defend the integrity of states which she had helped to create while her own frontiers were indefinite. But in the art of procrastination the Triumvirate was unsurpassed, and, as the time drew near for presenting the Treaty to Germany, neither the Adriatic, the colonial, the financial, nor the economic problems on which Italy's future depended were settled or even broached. In the meanwhile the plenipotentiaries in secret council, of whom four or five were wont to deliberate and two to take decisions, had disagreed on the subject of Fiume. Mr. Wilson was inexorable in his refusal to hand the city over to Italy, and the various compromises devised by ingenious weavers of conflicting interests failed to rally the Italian delegates, whose inspirer was the taciturn Baron Sonnino. The Italian press, by insisting on Fiume as a sine qua non of Italy's approval of the Peace Treaty and by announcing that it would undoubtedly be accorded, had made it practically impossible for the delegates to recede. The circumstance that the press was inspired by the government is immaterial to the issue. President Wilson, who had been frequently told that a word from him to the peoples of Europe would fire their enthusiasm and carry them whithersoever he wished, even against their own governments, now purposed wielding this unique power against Italy's plenipotentiaries. As we saw, he would have done this during his sojourn in Rome, but was dissuaded by Baron Sonnino. His intention now was to compel the delegates to go home and ascertain whether their inflexible attitude corresponded with that of their people and to draw the people into the camp of the "idealists." He virtually admitted this during his conversation with Signor Orlando. What he seems to have overlooked, however, is that there are time limits to every policy, and that only the same causes can be set in motion to produce the same results. In Italy the President's name had a very different sound in April from the clarion-like tones it gave forth in January, and the secret of his popularity even then was the prevalent faith in his firm determination to bring about a peace of justice, irrespective of all separate interests, not merely a peace with indulgence for the strong and rigor for the weak. The time when Mr. Wilson might have summoned the peoples of Europe to follow him had gone by irrevocably. It is worth noting that the American statesman's views about certain of Italy's claims, although originally laid down with the usual emphasis as immutable, underwent considerable modifications which did not tend to reinforce his authority. Thus at the outset he had proclaimed the necessity of dividing Istria between the two claimant nations, but, on further reflection, he gave way in Italy's favor, thus enabling Signor Orlando to make the point that even the President's solutions needed corrections. It is also a fact that when the Italian Premier insisted on having the Adriatic problems definitely settled before the presentation of the Treaty to the Germans[213] his colleagues of France and Britain assured him that this reasonable request would be complied with. The circumstance that this promise was disregarded did not tend to smooth matters in the Council of Five.

The decisive duel between Signor Orlando and Mr. Wilson was fought out in April, and the overt acts which subsequently marked their tense relations were but the practical consequences of that. On the historic day each one set forth his program with a ne varietur attached, and the President of the United States gave utterance to an estimate of Italian public opinion which astonished and pained the Italian Premier, who, having contributed to form it, deemed himself a more competent judge of its trend than his distinguished interlocutor. But Mr. Wilson not only refused to alter his judgment, but announced his intention to act upon it and issue an appeal to the Italian nation. The gist of this document was known to M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George. It has been alleged, and seems highly probable, that the British Premier was throughout most anxious to bring about a workable compromise. Proposals were therefore put forward respecting Fiume and Dalmatia, some of which were not inacceptable to the Italians, who lodged counter-proposals about the others. On the fate of these counter-proposals everything depended.

On April 23d I was at the Hôtel Edouard VII, the headquarters of the Italian delegation, discussing the outlook and expecting to learn that some agreement had been reached. In an adjoining room the members of the delegation were sitting in conference on the burning subject, painfully aware that time pressed, that the Damocles's sword of Mr. Wilson's declaration hung by a thread over their heads, and that a spirit of large compromise was indispensable. At three o'clock Mr. Lloyd George's secretary brought the reply of the Council of Three to Italy's maximum of concessions. Only one point remained in dispute, I was told, but that point hinged upon Fiume, and, by a strange chance, it was not mentioned in the reply which the secretary had just handed in. The Italian delegation at once telephoned to the British Premier asking him to receive the Marquis Imperiali, who, calling shortly afterward, learned that Fiume was to be a free city and exempt from control. It was when the marquis had just returned that I took leave of my hosts and received the assurance that I should be informed of the result. About half an hour later, on receipt of an urgent message, I hastened back to the Italian headquarters, where consternation prevailed, and I learned that hardly had the delegates begun to discuss the contentious clause when a copy of the Temps was brought in, containing Mr. Wilson's appeal to the Italian people "over the heads of the Italian government."

The publication fell like a powerful explosive. The public were at a loss to fit in Mr. Wilson's unprecedented action with that of his British and French colleagues. For if in the morning he sent his appeal to the newspapers, it was asked, why did he allow his Italian colleagues to go on examining a proposal on which he manifestly assumed that they were no longer competent to treat? Moreover a rational desire to settle Italy's Adriatic frontiers, it was observed, ought not to have lessened his concern about the larger issues which his unwonted procedure was bound to raise. And one of these was respect for authority, the loss of which was the taproot of Bolshevism. Signor Orlando replied to the appeal in a trenchant letter which was at bottom a reasoned protest against the assumed infallibility of any individual and, in particular, of one who had already committed several radical errors of judgment. What the Italian Premier failed to note was the consciousness of overwhelming power and the will to use it which imparted its specific mark to the whole proceeding. Had he realized this element, his subsequent tactics would perhaps have run on different lines.

The suddenness with which the President carried out his purpose was afterward explained as the outcome of misinformation. In various Italian cities, it had been reported to him, posters were appearing on the walls announcing that Fiume had been annexed. Moreover, it was added, there were excellent grounds for believing that at Rome the Italian Cabinet was about to issue a decree incorporating it officially, whereby things would become more tangled than ever. Some French journals gave credit to these allegations, and it may well be that Mr. Wilson, believing them, too, and wanting to be beforehand, took immediate action. This, however, is at most an explanation; it hardly justifies the precipitancy with which the Italian plenipotentiaries were held up to the world as men who were misrepresenting their people. As a matter of fact careful inquiry showed that all those reports which are said to have alarmed the President were groundless. Mr. Wilson's sources of information respecting the countries on which he was sitting in judgment were often as little to be depended on as presumably were the decisions of the special commissions which he and Mr. Lloyd George so unceremoniously brushed aside.

On the following morning Signori Orlando and Sonnino called on the British Premier in response to his urgent invitation. To their surprise they found Mr. Wilson and M. Clemenceau also awaiting them, ready, as it might seem, to begin the discussion anew, curious in any case to observe the effect of the declaration. But the Italian Premier burned his boats without delay or hesitation. "You have challenged the authority of the Italian government," he said, "and appealed to the Italian people. Be it so. It is now become my duty to seek out the representatives of my people in Parliament and to call upon them to decide between Mr. Wilson and me." The President returned the only answer possible, "Undoubtedly that is your duty." "I shall inform Parliament then that we have allies incapable of agreeing among themselves on matters that concern us vitally." Disquieted by the militant tone of the Minister, Mr. Lloyd George uttered a suasive appeal for moderation, and expressed the hope that in his speech to the Italian Chamber, Signor Orlando would not forget to say that a satisfactory solution may yet be found. He would surely be incapable of jeopardizing the chances of such a desirable consummation. "I will make the people arbiters of the whole situation," the Premier announced, "and in order to enable them to judge with full knowledge of the data, I herewith ask your permission to communicate my last memorandum to the Council of Four. It embodies the pith of the facts which it behooves the Parliament to have before it. In the meantime, the Italian government withdraws from the Peace Conference." On this the painful meeting terminated and the principal Italian plenipotentiaries returned to Rome. In France a section of the press sympathized with the Italians, while the government, and in particular M. Clemenceau, joined Mr. Wilson, who had promised to restore the sacredness of treaties[214] in exhorting Signor Orlando to give up the Treaty of London. The clash between Mr. Wilson and Signor Orlando and the departure of the Italian plenipotentiaries coincided with the arrival of the Germans in Versailles, so that the Allies were faced with the alternative of speeding up their desultory talks and improvising a definite solution or giving up all pretense at unanimity in the presence of the enemy. One important Paris journal found fault with Mr. Wilson and his "Encyclical," and protested emphatically against his way of filling every gap in his arrangements by wedging into it his League of Nations. "Can we harbor any illusion as to the net worth of the League of Nations when the revised text of the Covenant reveals it shrunken to the merest shadow, incapable of thought, will, action, or justice?... Too often have we made sacrifices to the Wilsonian doctrine."[215] ... Another press organ compared Fiume to the Saar Valley and sympathized with Italy, who, relying on the solidarity of her allies, expected to secure the city.[216]

While those wearisome word-battles—in which the personal element played an undue part—were being waged in the twilight of a secluded Valhalla, the Supreme Economic Council decided that the seized Austrian vessels must be pooled among all the Allies. When the untoward consequences of this decision were flashed upon the Italians and the Jugoslavs, the rupture between them was seen to be injurious to both and profitable to third parties. For if the Austrian vessels were distributed among all the Allied peoples, the share that would fall to those two would be of no account. Now for the first time the adversaries bestirred themselves. But it was not their diplomatists who took the initiative. Eager for their respective countries' share of the spoils of war, certain business men on both sides met,[217] deliberated, and worked out an equitable accord which gave four-fifths of the tonnage to Italy and the remainder to the Jugoslavs, who otherwise would not have obtained a single ship.[218] They next set about getting the resolution of the Economic Council repealed, and went on with their conversations.[219] The American delegation was friendly, promised to plead for the repeal, and added that "if the accord could be extended to the Adriatic problem Mr. Wilson would be delighted and would take upon himself to ratify it even without the sanction of the Conference.[220] Encouraged by this promise, the delegates made the attempt, but as the Italian Premier had for some unavowed reason limited the intercourse of the negotiators to a single day, on the expiry of which he ordered the conversation to cease,[221] they failed. Two or three days later the delegates in question had quitted Paris.

What this exchange of views seems to have demonstrated to open-minded Italians was that the Jugoslavs, whose reputation for obstinacy was a dogma among all their adversaries and some of their friends, have chinks in their panoply through which reason and suasion may penetrate.

When the Italian withdrew from the Conference he had ample reason for believing that in his absence peace could not be signed, and many thought that, by departing, he was giving Mr. Wilson a Roland for his Oliver. But this supposed tactical effect formed no part of Orlando's deliberate plan. It was a coincidence to be utilized, nothing more. Mr. Wilson had left him no choice but to quit France and solicit the verdict of his countrymen. But Mr. Wilson's colleagues were aghast at the thought that the Pact of London, by which none of the Allies might conclude a separate peace, rendered it indispensable that Italy's recalcitrant plenipotentiaries should be co-signatories, or at any rate consenting parties. About this interpretation of the Pact there was not the slightest doubt. Hence every one feared that the signing of the Peace Treaty would be postponed indefinitely because of the absence of the Italian plenipotentiaries from the Conference. That certainly was the belief of the remaining delegates. There was no doubt anywhere that the presence or the express assent of the Italians was a sine qua non of the legality of the Treaty. It certainly was the conviction of the French press, and was borne out by the most eminent jurists throughout the world.[222] That the Italian delegates might refuse to sign, as Signor Orlando had threatened, until Italy's affairs were arranged satisfactorily was taken for granted, and the remaining members of the inner Council set to work to checkmate this potential maneuver and dispense with her co-operation. This aim was attained during the absence of the Italian delegation by the decree that the signature of any three of the Allied and Associated governments would be deemed adequate. The legality and even the morality of this provision were challenged by many.

But it may be maintained that the imperative nature of the task which confronted the Conference demanded a chart of ideas and principles different from that by which Old World diplomacy had been guided and that respect for the letter of a compact should not be allowed to destroy its spirit. There is much to be said for this contention, which was, however, rejected by Italian jurists as destructive of the sacredness of treaties. They also urged that even if it were permissible to dash formal obstacles aside in order to clear the path for the furtherance of a good cause, it is also indispensable that the result should be compassed with the smallest feasible sacrifice of principle. Hopes were accordingly entertained by the Italian delegates that, on their return to Paris, at least a formal declaration might be made that Italy's signature was indispensable to the validity of the Treaty. But they were not, perhaps could not, be fulfilled at that conjuncture.

Advantage was taken in other ways of the withdrawal of Italy's representatives from the Conference. For example, a clause of the Treaty with Germany dealing with reparations was altered to Italy's detriment. Another which turned upon Austro-German relations was likewise modified. Before the delegates left for Rome it had been settled that Germany should be bound over to respect Austria's independence. This obligation was either superfluous, every state being obliged to respect the independence of every other, or else it had a cryptic meaning which would only reveal itself in the application of the clause. As soon as the Conference was freed from the presence of the Italians the formula was modified, and Germany was plainly forbidden to unite with Austria, even though Austria should expressly desire amalgamation. As this enactment runs directly counter to the principle of self-determination, the Italian Minister Crespi raised his voice in energetic protest against this and the financial changes,[223] whereupon the Triumvirs, giving way on the latter point, consented to restore the primitive text of the financial condition.[224] Germany is obliged to supply France with seven million tons of coal every year by way of restitution for damage done during the war. At the price of fifty francs a ton, the money value of this tribute would be three hundred and fifty million francs, of which Italy would be entitled to receive 30 per cent. But during the absence of the Italian representatives a supplementary clause was inserted in the Treaty[225] conferring a special privilege on France which renders Italy's claim of little or no value. It provides that Germany shall deliver annually to France an amount of coal equal to the difference between the pre-war production of the mines of Pas de Calais and the Nord, destroyed by the enemy, and the production of the mines of the same area during each of the coming years, the maximum limit to be twenty million tons. As this contribution takes precedence of all others, and as Germany, owing to insufficiency of transports and other causes, will probably be unable to furnish it entirely, Italy's claim is considered practically valueless.

The reception of the delegates in Rome was a triumph, their return to Paris a humiliation. For things had been moving fast in the meanwhile, and their trend, as we said, was away from Italy's goal. Public opinion in their own country likewise began to veer round, and people asked whether they had adopted the right tactics, whether, in fine, they were the right men to represent their country at that crisis of its history. There was no gainsaying the fact that Italy was completely isolated at the Conference. She had sacrificed much and had garnered in relatively little. The Jugoslavs had offered her an alliance—although this kind of partnership had originally been forbidden by the Wilsonian discipline; the offer was rejected and she was now certain of their lasting enmity. Venizelos had also made overtures to Baron Sonnino for an understanding, but they elicited no response, and Italy's relations with Greece lost whatever cordiality they might have had. Between France and Italy the threads of friendship which companionship in arms should have done much to strengthen were strained to the point of snapping. And worst, perhaps, of all, the Italian delegates had approved the clause forbidding Germany to unite with Austria.

That the fault did not lie wholly in the attitude of the Allies is obvious. The Italian delegates' lack of method, one might say of unity, was unquestionably a contributory cause of their failure to make perceptible headway at the Conference. A curious and characteristic incident of the slipshod way in which the work was sometimes done occurred in connection with the disposal of the Palace Venezia, in Rome, which had belonged to Austria, but was expropriated by the Italian government soon after the opening of hostilities. The heirs of the Hapsburg Crown put forward a claim to proprietary rights which was traversed by the Italian government. As the dispute was to be laid before the Conference, the Roman Cabinet invited a juris consult versed in these matters to argue Italy's case. He duly appeared, unfolded his claim congruously with the views of his government, but suddenly stopped short on observing the looks of astonishment on the faces of the delegates. It appears that on the preceding day another delegate of the Economic Conference, also an Italian, had unfolded and defended the contrary thesis—namely, that Austria's heirs had inherited her right to the Palace of Venezia.[226]

Passing to more momentous matters, one may pertinently ask whether too much stress was not laid by the first Italian delegation upon the national and sentimental sides of Italy's interests, and too little on the others. Among the Great Powers Italy is most in need of raw materials. She is destitute of coal, iron, cotton, and naphtha. Most of them are to be had in Asia Minor. They are indispensable conditions of modern life and progress. To demand a fair share of them as guerdon for having saved Europe, and to put in her claim at a moment when Europe was being reconstituted, could not have been construed as imperialism. The other Allies had possessed most of those necessaries in abundance long before the war. They were adding to them now as the fruits of a victory which Italy's sacrifices had made possible. Why, then, should she be left unsatisfied? Bitterly though the nation was disappointed by failure to have its territorial claims allowed, it became still more deeply grieved when it came to realize that much more important advantages might have been secured if these had been placed in the forefront of the nation's demands. Emigration ground for Italy's surplus population, which is rapidly increasing, coal and iron for her industries might perhaps have been obtained if the Italian plan of campaign at the Conference had been rightly conceived and skilfully executed. But this realistic aspect of Italy's interests was almost wholly lost sight of during the waging of the heated and unfruitful contests for the possession of town and ports, which, although sacred symbols of Italianism, could not add anything to the economic resources which will play such a predominant part in the future struggle for material well-being among the new and old states. There was a marked propensity among Italy's leaders at home and in Paris to consider each of the issues that concerned their country as though it stood alone, instead of envisaging Italy's economic, financial, and military position after the war as an indivisible problem and proving that it behooved the Allies in the interests of a European peace to solve it satisfactorily, and to provide compensation in one direction for inevitable gaps in the other. This, to my thinking, was the fundamental error of the Italian and Allied statesmen for which Europe may have to suffer. That Italy's policy cannot in the near future return to the lines on which it ran ever since the establishment of her national unity, whatever her allies may do or say, will hardly be gainsaid. Interests are decisive factors of foreign policy, and the action of the Great Powers has determined Italy's orientation.

Italy undoubtedly gained a great deal by the war, into which she entered mainly for the purpose of achieving her unity and securing strong frontiers. But she signed the Peace Treaty convinced that she had not succeeded in either purpose, and that her allies were answerable for her failure. It was certainly part of their policy to build up a strong state on her frontier out of a race which she regards as her adversary and to give it command of some of her strategic positions. And the overt bearing manner in which this policy was sometimes carried out left as much bitterness behind as the object it aimed at. It is alleged that the Italian delegates were treated with an economy of consideration which bordered on something much worse, while the arguments officially invoked to non-suit them appeared to them in the light of bitter sarcasms. President Wilson, they complained, ignored his far-resonant principle of self-determination when Japan presented her claim for Shantung, but refused to swerve from it when Italy relied on her treaty rights in Dalmatia. And when the inhabitants of Fiume voted for union with the mother country, the President abandoned that principle and gave judgment for Jugoslavia on other grounds. He was right, but disappointing, they observed, when he told his fellow-citizens that his presence in Europe was indispensable in order to interpret his conceptions, for no other rational being could have construed them thus.

The withdrawal of the Italian delegates was construed as an act of insubordination, and punished as such. The Marquis de Viti de Varche has since disclosed the fact that the Allied governments forthwith reduced the credits accorded to Italy during hostilities, whereupon hardships and distress were aggravated and the peasantry over a large area of the country suffered intensely.[227] For Italy is more dependent on her allies than ever, owing to the sacrifices which she offered up during the war, and she was made to feel her dependence painfully. The military assistance which they had received from her was fraught with financial and economic consequences which have not yet been realized by the unfortunate people who must endure them. Italy at the close of hostilities was burdened with a foreign debt of twenty milliards of lire, an internal debt of fifty millards, and a paper circulation four times more than what it was in pre-war days.[228] Raw materials were exhausted, traffic and production were stagnant, navigation had almost ceased, and the expenditure of the state had risen to eleven milliards a year.[229]

According to the figures published by the Statistical Society of Berne, the general rise in prices attributed to the war hit Italy much harder than any of her allies.[230] The consequences of this and other perturbations were sinister and immediate. The nation, bereft of what it had been taught to regard as its right, humiliated in the persons of its chiefs, subjected to foreign guidance, insufficiently clad, underfed, and with no tangible grounds for expecting speedy improvement, was seething with discontent. Frequent strikes merely aggravated the general suffering, which finally led to riots, risings, and the shedding of blood. The economic, political, and moral crisis was unprecedented. The men who drew Italy into the war were held up to public opprobrium because in the imagination of the people the victory had cost them more and brought them in less than neutrality would have done. One of the principal orators of the Opposition, in a trenchant discourse in the Italian Parliament, said, "The Salandra-Sonnino Cabinet led Italy into the war blindfolded."[231]

After the return of the Italian delegation to Paris various fresh combinations were devised for the purpose of grappling with the Adriatic problem. One commended itself to the Italians as a possible basis for discussion. In principle it was accepted. A declaration to this effect was made by Signor Orlando and taken cognizance of by M. Clemenceau, who undertook to lay the matter before Mr. Wilson, the sole arbitrator in Italian affairs. He played the part of Fate throughout. Days went by after this without bringing any token that the Triumvirate was interested in the Adriatic. At last the Italian Premier reminded his French colleague that the latest proposal had been accepted in principle, and the Italian plenipotentiaries were awaiting Mr. Wilson's pleasure in the matter. Accordingly, M. Clemenceau undertook to broach the matter to the American statesman without delay. The reply, which was promptly given, dismayed the Italians. It was in the form of one of those interpretations which, becoming associated with Mr. Wilson's name, shook public confidence in certain of the statesman-like qualities with which he had at first been credited. The construction which he now put upon the mode of voting to be applied to Fiume, including this city—in a large district inhabited by a majority of Jugoslavs—imparted to the project as the Italians had understood it a wholly new aspect. They accordingly declared it inacceptable. As after that there seemed to be nothing more for the Italian Premier to do in Paris, he left, was soon afterward defeated in the Chamber, and resigned together with his Cabinet. The vote of the Italian Parliament, which appeared to the continental press in the light of a protest of the nation against the aims and the methods of the Conference, closed for the time being the chapter of Italy's endeavor to complete her unity, secure strong frontiers, and perpetuate her political partnership with France and her intimate relations with the Entente. Thenceforward the English-speaking states might influence her overt acts, compel submission to their behests, and generally exercise a sort of guardianship over her, because they are the dispensers of economic boons, but the union of hearts, the mutual trust, the cement supplied by common aims are lacking.

One of the most telling arguments employed by President Wilson to dissuade various states from claiming strategic positions, and in particular Italy from insisting on the annexation of Fiume and the Dalmatian coast, was the effective protection which the League of Nations would confer on them.[232] Strategical considerations would, it was urged, lose all their value in the new era, and territorial guaranties become meaningless and cumbersome survivals of a dead epoch. That was the principal weapon with which he had striven to parry the thrusts of M. Clemenceau and the touchstone by which he tested the sincerity of all professions of faith in his cherished project of compacting the nations of the world in a vast league of peace-loving, law-abiding communities. But the faith of France's leaders differed little from unbelief. Guaranties first and the protection of the League afterward was the French formula, around which many fierce battles royal were fought. In the end Mr. Wilson, having obtained the withdrawal of the demand for the Rhine frontier, gave in, and the Covenant was reinforced by a compact which in the last analysis is a military undertaking, a unilateral Triple Alliance, Great Britain and the United States undertaking to hasten to France's assistance should her territory be wantonly invaded by Germany. The case thus provided for is extremely improbable. The expansion of Germany, when the auspicious hour strikes, will presumably be inaugurated on wholly new lines, against which armies, even if they can be mobilized in time, will be of little avail. But if force were resorted to, it is almost certain to be used in the direction where the resistance is least—against France's ally, Poland. This, however, is by the way. The point made by the Italians was that the League of Nations being thus admittedly powerless to discharge the functions which alone could render strategic frontiers unnecessary, can consequently no longer be relied upon as an adequate protection against the dangers which the possession of the strongholds she claimed on the Adriatic would effectively displace. Either the League, it was argued, can, as asserted, protect the countries which give up commanding positions to potential enemies, or it cannot. In the former hypothesis France's insistence on a military convention is mischievous and immoral—in the latter Italy stands in as much need of the precautions devised as her neighbor. But her spokesmen were still plied with the threadbare arguments and bereft of the countervailing corrective. And faith in the efficacy of the League was sapped by the very men who were professedly seeking to spread it.

The press of Rome, Turin, and Milan pointed to the loyalty of the Italian people, brought out, they said, in sharp relief by the discontent which the exclusive character of that triple military accord engendered among them. As kinsmen of the French it was natural for Italians to expect that they would be invited to become a party to this league within the League. As loyal allies of Britain and France they felt desirous of being admitted to the alliance. But they were excluded. Nor was their exasperation allayed by the assurance of their press that this was no alliance, but a state of tutelage. An alliance, it was explained, is a compact by which two or more parties agree to render one another certain services under given conditions, whereas the convention in question is a one-sided undertaking on the part of Britain and the United States to protect France if wantonly attacked, because she is unable efficaciously to protect herself. It is a benefaction. But this casuistry fell upon deaf ears. What the people felt was the disesteem—the term in vogue was stronger—in which they were held by the Allies, whom they had saved perhaps from ruin.

By slow degrees the sentiments of the Italian nation underwent a disquieting change. All parties and classes united in stigmatizing the behavior of the Allies in terms which even the literary eminence of the poet d'Annunzio could not induce the censors to let pass. "The Peace Treaty," wrote Italy's most influential journal, "and its correlate forbode for the near future the Continental hegemony of France countersigned by the Anglo-American alliance."[233] Another widely circulated and respected organ described the policy of the Entente as a solvent of the social fabric, constructive in words, corrosive in acts, "mischievous if ever there was a mischievous policy. For while raising hopes and whetting appetites, it does nothing to satisfy them; on the contrary, it does much to disappoint them. In words—a struggle for liberty, for nations, for the equality of peoples and classes, for the well-being of all; in acts—the suppression of the most elementary and constitutional liberty, the overlordship of certain nations based on the humiliation of others, the division of peoples into exploiters and exploited—the sharpening of social differences—the destruction of collective wealth, and its accumulation in a few blood-stained hands, universal misery, and hunger."[234]

Although it is well understood that Italy's defeat at the Conference was largely the handiwork of President Wilson, the resentment of the Italian nation chose for its immediate objects the representatives of France and Britain. The American "associates" were strangers, here to-day and gone to-morrow, but the Allies remain, and if their attitude toward Italy, it was argued, had been different, if their loyalty had been real, she would have fared proportionately as well as they, whatever the American statesmen might have said or done.

The Italian press breathed fiery wrath against its French ally, who so often at the Conference had met Italy's solicitations with the odious word "impossible." Even moderate organs of public opinion gave free vent to estimates of France's policy and anticipations of its consequences which disturbed the equanimity of European statesmen. "It is impossible," one of these journals wrote, "for France to become the absolute despot of Europe without Italy, much less against Italy. What transcended the powers of Richelieu, who was a lion and fox combined, and was beyond the reach of Bonaparte, who was both an eagle and a serpent, cannot be achieved by "Tiger" Clemenceau in circumstances so much less favorable than those of yore. We, it is true, are isolated, but then France is not precisely embarrassed by the choice of friends." The peace was described as "Franco-Slav domination with its headquarters in Prague, and a branch office in Agram." M. Clemenceau was openly charged with striving after the hegemony of the Continent for his country by separating Germany from Austria and surrounding her with a ring of Slav states—Poland, Jugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and perhaps the non-Slav kingdom of Rumania. All these states would be in the leading-strings of the French Republic, and Austria would be linked to it in a different guise. And in order to effect this resuscitation of the Hapsburg state under the name of "Danubian federation," Mr. Wilson, it was asserted, had authorized a deliberate violation of his own principle of self-determination, and refused to Austria the right of adopting the régime which she preferred. It was, in truth, an odd compromise, these critics continued, for an idealist of the President's caliber, on whose every political action the scrutinizing gaze of the world was fixed. One could not account for it as a sacrifice made for a high ethical aim—one of those ends which, according to the old maxim, hallows the means. It seemed an open response to a secret instigation or impulse which was unconnected with any recognized or avowable principle. Even the Socialist organs swelled the chorus of the accusers. Avanti wrote, "We are Socialists, yet we have never believed that the American President with his Fourteen Points entered into the war for the highest aims of humanity and for the rights of peoples, any more than we believe at present that his opposition to the aspirations of the Italian state on the Adriatic are inspired by motives of idealism."[235]

The fate of the disputed territories on the Adriatic was to be the outcome of self-determination. Poland's claims were to be left to the self-determination of the Silesian and Ruthenian populations. Rumania was told that her suit must remain in abeyance until it could be tested by the same principle, which would be applied in the form of a plebiscite. For self-determination was the cornerstone of the League of Nations, the holiest boon for which the progressive peoples of the world had been pouring out their life-blood and substance for nearly five years. But when Italy invoked self-determination, she was promptly non-suited. When Austria appealed to it she was put out of court. And to crown all, the world was assured that the Fourteen Points had been triumphantly upheld. This depravation of principles by the triumph of the little prudences of the hour spurred some of the more impulsive critics to ascribe it to influences less respectable than those to which it may fairly be attributed.

The directing Powers were hypersensitive to the oft-repeated charge of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. They were never tired of protesting their abhorrence of anything that smacked of interference. Among the numerous facts, however, which they could neither deny nor reconcile with their professions, the following was brought forward by the Italians, who had a special interest to draw public attention to it. It had to do with the abortive attempt to restore the Hapsburg monarchy in Hungary as the first step toward the formation of a Danubian federation. "It is certain," wrote the principal Italian journal, "that the Archduke Joseph's coup d'état did not take place, indeed (given the conditions in Budapest) could not take place, without the Entente's connivance. The official communiqués of Budapest and Vienna, dated August 9th, recount on this point precise details which no one has hitherto troubled to deny. The Peidl government was scarcely three days in power, and, therefore, was not in a position to deserve either trust or distrust, when the heads of the 'order-loving organizations' put forward, to justify the need of a new crisis, the complaints of the heads of the Entente Missions as to the anarchy prevailing in Hungary and the urgency of finding 'some one' who could save the country from the abyss. Then a commission repaired to Alscuth, where it easily persuaded the Archduke to come to Budapest. Here he at once visited all the heads of missions and spent the whole day in negotiations. 'As a result of negotiations with Entente representatives, the Archduke Joseph undertook a solution of the crisis.' He then called together the old state police and a volunteer army of eight thousand men. The Rumanian garrison was kept ready. The Peidl government naturally did not resist at all. At 10 P.M. on August 7th all the Entente Missions held a meeting, to which the Archduke Joseph and the new Premier were invited. General Gorton presided. The Conference lasted two hours and reached an agreement on all questions. All the heads of Missions assured the new government of their warmest support."[236]

Another case of unwarranted interference which stirred the Italians to bitter resentment turned upon the obligation imposed on Austria to renounce her right to unite with Germany. "It is difficult to discern in the policy of the Entente toward Austria anything more respectable than obstinacy coupled with stupidity," wrote the same journal. "But there is something still worse. It is impossible not to feel indignant with a coalition which, after having triumphed in the name of the loftiest ideas ... treats German-Austria no better than the Holy Alliance treated the petty states of Italy. But the Congress of Vienna acted in harmony with the principle of legitimism which it avowed and professed, whereas the Paris Conference violates without scruple the canons by which it claims to be guided.

"Not a whit more decorous is the intervention of the Supreme Council in the internal affairs of Germany—a state which, according to the spirit and the letter of the Versailles Treaty, is sovereign and not a protectorate. The Conference was qualified to dictate peace terms to Germany, but it wanders beyond the bounds of its competency when it construes those terms and arrogates to itself—on the strength of forced and equivocal interpretations—the right of imposing upon a nation which is neither militarily nor juridically an enemy a constitutional reform. Whether Germany violates the Treaty by her Constitution is a question which only a judicial finding of the League of Nations can fairly determine."[237]

It would be impolitic to overlook and insincere to belittle the effects of this incoherency upon the relations between France and Italy. Public opinion in the Peninsula characterized the attitude of Prance as deliberately hostile. The Italians at the Conference eagerly scrutinized every act and word of their French colleagues, with a view to discovering grounds for dispelling this view. But the search is reported to have been worse than vain. It revealed data which, although susceptible of satisfactory explanations, would, if disclosed at that moment, have aggravated the feeling of bitterness against France, which was fast gathering. Signor Orlando had recourse to the censor to prevent indiscretions, but the intuition of the masses triumphed over repression, and the existing tenseness merged into resentment. The way in which Italians accounted for M. Clemenceau's attitude was this. Although Italy has ceased to be the important political factor she once was when the Triple Alliance was in being, she is still a strong continental Power, capable of placing a more numerous army in the field than her republican sister, and her population continues to increase at a high rate. In a few years she will have outstripped her rival. France, too, has perhaps lost those elements of her power and prestige which she derived from her alliance with Russia. Again, the Slav ex-ally, Russia, may become the enemy of to-morrow. In view of these contingencies France must create a substitute for the Rumanian and Italian allies. And as these have been found in the new Slav states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia, she can afford to dispense with making painful sacrifices to keep Italy in countenance.

A trivial incident which affords a glimpse of the spirit prevailing between the two kindred peoples occurred at St.-Germain-en-Laye, where the Austrian delegates were staying. They had been made much of in Vienna by the Envoy of the French Republic there, M. Allizé, whose mission it was to hinder Austria from uniting with the Reich. Italy's policy was, on the contrary, to apply Mr. Wilson's principle of self-determination and allow the Austrians to do as they pleased in that respect. A fervent advocate of the French orthodox doctrine—a publicist—repaired to the Austrian headquarters at St.-Germain for the purpose, it is supposed, of discussing the subject. Now intercourse of any kind between private individuals and the enemy delegates was strictly forbidden, and when M. X. presented himself, the Italian officer on duty refused him admission. He insisted. The officer was inexorable. Then he produced a written permit signed by the Secretary of the Conference, M. Dutasta. How and why this exception was made in his favor when the rule was supposed to admit of no exceptions was not disclosed. But the Italian officer, equal to the occasion, took the ground that a military prohibition cannot be canceled by a civilian, and excluded the would-be visitor.

The general trend of France's European policy was repugnant to Italy. She looked on it as a well-laid scheme to assume a predominant rôle on the Continent. That, she believed, was the ultimate purpose of the veto on the union of Austria and Germany, of the military arrangements with Britain and the United States, and of much else that was obnoxious to Italy. Austria was to be reconstituted according to the federative plans of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to be made stronger than before as a counterpoise to Italy, and to be at the beck and call of France. Thus the friend, ally, sister of yesterday became the potential enemy of to-morrow. That was the refrain of most of the Italian journals, and none intoned it more fervently than those which had been foremost in bringing their country into the war. One of these, a Conservative organ of Lombardy, wrote: "Until yesterday, we might have considered that two paths lay open before us, that of an alliance with France and that of an independent policy. But we can think so no longer. To offer our friendship to-day to the people who have already chosen their own road and established their solidarity with our enemies of yesterday and to-morrow would not be to strike out a policy, but to decide on an unseemly surrender. It would be tantamount to reproducing in an aggravated form the situation we occupied in the alliance with Germany. Once again we should be engaged in a partnership of which one of the partners was in reality our enemy. France taking the place of Germany, and Jugoslavia that of Austria, the situation of the old Triple Alliance would be not merely reproduced, but made worse in the reproduction, because the Triplice at least guaranteed us against a conflict which we had grounds for apprehending, whereas the new alliance would tie our hands for the sake of a little Balkan state which, single-handed, we are well able to keep in its place.

"We have had enough of a policy which has hitherto saddled us with all the burdens of the alliance without bestowing on us any advantage—which has constrained us to favor all the peoples whose expansion dovetailed with French schemes and to combat or neglect those others whose consolidation corresponded to our interests—which has led us to support a great Poland and a great Bohemia and to combat the Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Spain, to whose destinies the French, but not we, were indifferent."[238] A press organ of Bologna denounced the atrocious and ignominious sacrifice "which her allies imposed on Italy by means of economic blackmailing and violence with a whip in one hand and a chunk of bread in the other."[239]

Sharp comments were provoked by the heavy tax on strangers in Tunisia imposed by the French government,[240] on strangers, mostly Italians, who theretofore had enjoyed the same rights as the French and Tunisians. "Suddenly," writes the principal Italian journal, "and just when it was hoped that the common sacrifices they had made had strengthened the ties between the two nations, the governor of Tunisia issued certain orders which endangered the interests of foreigners and the effects of which will be felt mainly by Italians, of whom there are one hundred and twenty thousand in Tunisia.[241] First there came an order forbidding the use of any language but French in the schools. Now the tax referred to in the House of Lords gives the Tunisian government power to levy an impost on the buying and selling of property in Tunisia. The new tax, which is to be levied over and above pre-existing taxes, ranged from 59 per cent. of the value when it is not assessed at a higher sum than one hundred thousand lire to 80 per cent. when its estimated value is more than five hundred thousand lire." The article terminates with the remark that boycotting is hardly a suitable epilogue to a war waged for common ideals and interests.

These manifestations irritated the French and were taken to indicate Italy's defection. It was to no purpose that a few level-headed men pointed out that the French government was largely answerable for the state of mind complained of. "Pertinax," in the Echo de Paris, wrote "that the alliance, in order to subsist and flourish, should have retained its character as an Anti-German League, whereas it fell into the error of masking itself as a Society of Nations and arrogated to itself the right of bringing before its tribunal all the quarrels of the planet."[242] Italy's allies undoubtedly did much to forfeit her sympathies and turn her from the alliance. It was pointed out that when the French troops arrived in Italy the Bulletin of the Italian command eulogized their efforts almost daily, but when the Italian troops went to France, the communiqués of the French command were most chary of allusions to their exploits, yet the Italian army contributed more dead to the French front than did the French army to the Italian front.[243] At the Peace Conference, as we saw, when the terms with Germany were being drafted, Italy's problems were set aside on the grounds that there was no nexus between them. The Allies' interests, which were dealt with as a whole during the war, were divided after the armistice into essential and secondary interests, and those of Italy were relegated to the latter class. Subsequently France, Britain, and the United States, without the co-operation or foreknowledge of their Italian friends, struck up an alliance from which they excluded Italy, thereby vitiating the only arguments that could be invoked in favor of such a coalition. When peace was about to be signed they one-sidedly revoked the treaty which they had concluded in London, rendering the consent of all Allies necessary to the validity of the document, and decreed that Italy's abstention would make no difference. When the instrument was finally signed, Mr. Wilson returned to the United States, Mr. Lloyd George to England, and the Marquis of Saionji to Japan, without having settled any of Italy's problems. Italy, her needs, her claims, and her policy thus appear as matters of little account to the Great Powers. Naturally, the Italian people were disappointed, and desirous of seeking new friends, the old ones having forsaken them.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the consequences which this attitude of the Allies toward Italy may have on European politics generally. Her most eminent statesman, Signor Tittoni, who succeeded Baron Sonnino, transcending his country's mortifications, exerted himself tactfully and not unsuccessfully to lubricate the mechanism of the alliance, to ease the dangerous friction and to restore the tone. And he seems to have accomplished in these respects everything which a sagacious statesman could do. But to arrest the operation of psychological laws is beyond the power of any individual. In order to appreciate the Italian point of view, it is nowise necessary to approve the exaggerated claims put forward by her press in the spring of 1919. It is enough to admit that in the light of the Wilsonian doctrine they were not more incompatible with that doctrine than the claims made by other Powers and accorded by the Supreme Council.

To sum up, Italy acquired the impression that association with her recent allies means for her not only sacrifices in their hour of need, but also further sacrifices in their hour of triumph. She became reluctantly convinced that they regard interests which she deems vital to herself as unconnected with their own. And that was unfortunate. If at some fateful conjuncture in the future her allies on their part should gather the impression that she has adjusted her policy to those interests which are so far removed from theirs, they will have themselves to blame.

FOOTNOTES:

[194] This clause, which figured in the draft Treaty, as presented to the Germans, provoked such emphatic protests from all sides that it was struck out in the revised version.

[195] In an interview given to the Correspondenz Bureau of Vienna by Conrad von Hoetzendorff. Cf. Le Temps, July 19, 1919.

[196] The Prime Minister, Salandra, declared that to have made neutrality a matter of bargaining would have been to dishonor Italy.

[197] King Carol was holding a crown council at the time. Bratiano had spoken against the King's proposal to throw in the country's lot with Germany. Carp was strongly for carrying out Rumania's treaty obligations. Some others hesitated, but before it could be put to the vote a telegram was brought in announcing Italy's resolve to maintain neutrality. The upshot was Rumania's refusal to follow her allies.

[198] On the eastern Adriatic, the Treaty of London allotted to Italy the peninsula of Istria, without Fiume, most of Dalmatia, exclusive of Spalato, the chief Dalmatian islands and the Dodecannesus.

[199] The present population of Fiume is computed at 45,227 souls, of whom 33,000 are Italians, 10,927 Slavs, and 1,300 Magyars.

[200] Another delegate is reported to have answered: "As we need Italy's friendship, we should pay the moderate price asked and back her claim to have the moon."

[201] A number of orders of the day eulogizing individual Slav officers and collective military entities were quoted by the advocates of Italy's cause at the Conference.

[202] Official communiqué of June 17, 1918.

[203] Journal de Genève, April 25, 1919.

[204] Cf. Il Corriere della Sera and Il Secolo of May 26, 1919.

[205] In the Senate he defended this attitude on March 4,1919, and expressed a desire to dispel the misunderstanding between the two peoples.

[206] In April, 1919.

[207] This fact has since been made public by Enrico Ferri in a remarkable discourse pronounced in the parliament at Rome (July 9, 1919). It was Baron Sonnino who deprecated the publication of any statement on the subject by President Wilson. Cf. La Stampa, July 10, 1919.

[208] On January 10, 1919.

[209] It gave eastern Friuli to Italy, including Gorizia, split Istria into two parts, and assigned Trieste and Pola also to Italy, but under such territorial conditions that they would be exposed to enemy projectiles in case of war.

[210] The National Council of Fiume issued its proclamation before it had become known that the battle of Vittorio Veneto was begun—i.e., October 30, 1918.

[211] Speech delivered at Mount Vernon on July 4, 1918.

[212] Of the United States, France, and Great Britain.

[213] Between April 5th and 12th.

[214] In his address to the representatives of organized labor in January, 1918.

[215] L'Echo de Paris, April 29, 1919.

[216] Le Gaulois, April 29, 1919.

[217] These meetings were held from March 28 till April 23, 1919.

[218] See Marco Borsa's article in Il Secolo, June 18, 1919; also Corriere della Sera, June 19, 1919.

[219] From May 5 to 16, 1919.

[220] Il Secolo, June 19, 1919.

[221] On April 23, 1919.

[222] "Can and will our allies treat our absence as a matter of no moment? Can and will they violate the formal undertaking which forbids the belligerents to conclude a diplomatic peace?... The London Declaration prohibits categorically the conclusion of any separate peace with any enemy state. France and England cannot sign peace with Germany if Italy does not sign it.... The situation is grave and abnormal, for our allies it is also grave and abnormal. Italy is isolated, and nations, especially those of continental Europe, which are not overrich, flee solitude as nature abhors a vacuum."—Corriere della Sera, April 26, 1919. Again: "'The Treaty of London' restrains France and England from concluding peace without Italy. And Italy is minded not to conclude peace with Germany before she herself has received satisfaction."—Journal de Genève, April 25, 1919.

[223] On May 6, 1919, at Versailles.

[224] Cf. Corriere della Sera, May 10, 1919.

[225] Annex W of the Revised Treaty.

[226] This incident was revealed by Enrico Ferri, in his remarkable speech in the Italian Parliament on July 9, 1919. Cf. La Stampa, July 10, 1919, page 2.

[227] Cf. The Morning Post, July 9, 1919.

[228] On July 10th the Italian Finance Minister, in his financial statement, announced that the total cost of the war to Italy would amount to one hundred milliard lire. He added, however, that her share of the German indemnity would wipe out her foreign debt, while a progressive tax on all but small fortunes would meet her internal obligations. Cf. Corriere della Sera, July 11 and 12, 1919.

[229] Cf. Avanti, July 19, 1919.

[230] Shown in percentages, the rise in the cost of living was: United States, 220 per cent.; England, 240 per cent.; Switzerland, 257 per cent.; France, 368 per cent.; Italy, 481 per cent.

[231] Enrico Ferri, on July 9, 1919. Cf. La Stampa, July 10, 1919.

[232] At a later date the President reiterated the grounds of his decision. In his Columbus speech (September 4, 1919) he asserted that "Italy desired Fiume for strategic military reasons, which the League of Nations would make unnecessary." (The New York Herald (Paris edition), September 6, 1919.) But the League did not render strategic precautions unnecessary to France.

[233] Corriere della Sera, May 11, 1919.

[234] La Stampa, July 16, 1919.

[235] Avanti, April 27, 1919. Cf. Le Temps, April 28, 1919.

[236] Corriere della Sera, August 9, 1919.

[237] Corriere della Sera, September 3, 1919.

[238] Quoted in La Stampa of July 20, 1919.

[239] Ibidem.

[240] Corriere d' Italia, June 29, 1919.

[241] Cf. Modern Italy, July 12, 1919 (page 298).

[242] Echo de Paris, July 7, 1919.

[243] Cf. "An Italian Exposé," published by The Morning Post, July 5, 1919.


IX

JAPAN

Among the solutions of the burning questions which exercised the ingenuity and tested the good faith of the leading Powers at the Peace Conference, none was more rapidly reached there, or more bitterly assailed outside, than those in which Japan was specially interested. The storm that began to rage as soon as the Supreme Council's decision on the Shantung issue became known did not soon subside. Far from that, it threatened for a time to swell into a veritable hurricane. This problem, like most of those which were submitted to the forum of the Conference, may be envisaged from either of two opposite angles of survey; from that of the future society of justice-loving nations, whose members are to forswear territorial aggrandizement, special economic privileges, and political sway in, or at the expense of, other countries; or from the traditional point of view, which has always prevailed in international politics and which cannot be better described than by Signor Salandra's well-known phrase "sacred egotism." Viewed in the former light, Japan's demand for Shantung was undoubtedly as much a stride backward as were those of the United States and France for the Monroe Doctrine and the Saar Valley respectively. But as the three Great Powers had set the example, Japan was resolved from the outset to rebel against any decree relegating her to the second-or third-class nations. The position of equality occupied by her government among the governments of other Great Powers did not extend to the Japanese nation among the other nations. But her statesmen refused to admit this artificial inferiority as a reason for descending another step in the international hierarchy and they invoked the principle of which Britain, France, and America had already taken advantage.

The Supreme Council, like Janus of old, possessed two faces, one altruistic and the other egotistic, and, also like that son of Apollo, held a key in its right hand and a rod in its left. It applied to the various states, according to its own interest or convenience, the principles of the old or the new Covenant, and would fain have dispossessed Japan of the fruits of the campaign, and allotted to her the rôle of working without reward in the vineyard of the millennium, were it not that this policy was excluded by reasons of present expediency and previous commitments. The expediency was represented by President Wilson's determination to obtain, before returning to Washington, some kind of a compact that might be described as the constitution of the future society of nations, and by his belief that this instrument could not be obtained without Japan's adherence, which was dependent on her demand for Shantung being allowed. And the previous commitments were the secret compacts concluded by Japan with Britain, France, Russia, and Italy before the United States entered the war.

Nippon's rôle in the war and the circumstances that shaped it are scarcely realized by the general public. They have been purposely thrust in the background. And yet a knowledge of them is essential to those who wish to understand the significance of the dispute about Shantung, which at bottom was the problem of Japan's international status. Before attempting to analyze them, however, it may not be amiss to remark that during the French press campaign conducted in the years 1915-16, with the object of determining the Tokio Cabinet to take part in the military operations in Europe, the question of motive was discussed with a degree of tactlessness which it is difficult to account for. It was affirmed, for example, that the Mikado's people would be overjoyed if the Allied governments vouchsafed them the honor of participating in the great civilizing crusade against the Central Empires. That was proclaimed to be such an enviable privilege that to pay for it no sacrifice of men or money would be exorbitant. Again, the degree to which Germany is a menace to Japan was another of the texts on which Entente publicists relied to scare Nippon into drastic action, as though she needed to be told by Europeans where her vital interests lay, from what quarters they were jeopardized, and how they might be safeguarded most successfully. So much for the question of tact and form. Japan has never accepted the doctrine of altruism in politics which her Western allies have so zealously preached. Until means have been devised and adopted for substituting moral for military force in the relations of state with state, the only reconstruction of the world in which the Japanese can believe is that which is based upon treaties and the pledged word. That is the principle which underlies the general policy and the present strivings of our Far Eastern ally.

One of the characteristic traits of all Nippon's dealings with her neighbors is loyalty and trustworthiness. Her intercourse with Russia before and after the Manchurian campaign offers a shining example of all the qualities which one would postulate in a true-hearted neighbor and a stanch and chivalrous ally. I had an opportunity of watching the development of the relations between the two governments for many years before they quarreled, and subsequently down to 1914, and I can state that the praise lavished by the Tsar's Ministers on their Japanese colleagues was well deserved. And for that reason it may be taken as an axiom that whatever developments the present situation may bring forth, the Empire of Nippon will carry out all its engagements with scrupulous exactitude, in the spirit as well as the letter.

To be quite frank, then, the Japanese are what we should term realists. Consequently their foreign policy is inspired by the maxims which actuated all nations down to the year 1914, and still move nearly all of them to-day. In fact, the only Powers that have fully and authoritatively repudiated them as yet are Bolshevist Russia, and to a large extent the United States. Holding thus to the old dispensation, Japan entered the war in response to a definite demand made by the British government. The day before Britain declared war against Germany the British Ambassador at Tokio officially inquired whether his government could count upon the active co-operation of the Mikado's forces in the campaign about to begin. On August 4th Baron Kato, having in the meanwhile consulted his colleagues, answered in the affirmative. Three days later another communication reached Tokio from London, requesting the immediate co-operation of Japan, and on the following day it was promised. The motive for this haste was credibly asserted to be Britain's apprehension lest Germany should transfer Kiaochow to China, and reserve to herself, in virtue of Article V of the Convention of 1898, the right of securing after the war "a more suitable territory" in the Middle Empire or Republic. Thereupon they began operations which were at first restricted to the China seas, but were afterward extended to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and finally to the Mediterranean. The only task that fell to their lot on land was that of capturing Kiaochow. But whatever they set their hands to they carried out thoroughly, and to the complete satisfaction of their European allies.

For many years the people of Nippon have been wending slowly, but with tireless perseverance and unerring instinct, toward their far-off goal, which to the unbiased historian will seem not merely legitimate but praiseworthy. Their intercourse with Russia was the story of one long laborious endeavor to found a common concern which should enable Japan to make headway on her mission. Russia was just the kind of partner whose co-operation was especially welcome, seeing that it could be had without the hitches and set-backs attached to that of most other Great Powers. The Russians were never really intolerant in racial matters, nor dangerous in commercial rivalry. They intermarried freely with all the so-called inferior races and tribes in the Tsardom, and put all on an equal footing before the law. Twenty-three years ago I paid a visit to my friend General Tomitch, the military governor of Kars, and I found myself sitting at his table beside the Prefect of the city, who was a Mohammedan. The individual Russian is generally free from racial prejudices; he has no sense of the "yellow peril," and no objection to receive the Japanese as a comrade, a colleague, or a son-in-law.

And the advances made by Ito and others would have been reciprocated by Witte and Lamsdorff were it not that the Tsar, interested in Bezobrazoff's Yalu venture, subordinated his policy to those vested interests, and compelled Japan to fight. The master-idea of the policy of Ito, with whom I had two interesting conversations on the subject, was to strike up a close friendship with the Tsardom, based on community of durable interests, and to bespeak Russia's help for the hour of storm and stress which one day might strike. The Tsar's government was inspired by analogous motives. Before the war was terminated I repaired to London on behalf of Russia, in order to propose to the Japanese government, in addition to the treaty of peace which was about to be discussed at Portsmouth, an offensive and defensive alliance, and to ask that Prince Ito be sent as first plenipotentiary, invested with full powers to conclude such a treaty.

M. Izvolsky's policy toward Japan, frank and statesman-like, had an offensive and a defensive alliance for its intended culmination, and the treaties and conventions which he actually concluded with Viscount Motono, in drafting which I played a modest part, amounted almost to this. The Tsar's opposition to the concessions which represented Russia's share of the compromise was a tremendous obstacle, which only the threat of the Minister's resignation finally overcame. And Izvolsky's energy and insistence hastened the conclusion of a treaty between them to maintain and respect the status quo in Manchuria, and, in case it was menaced, to concert with each other the measures they might deem necessary for the maintenance of the status quo. And it was no longer stipulated, as it had been before, that these measures must have a pacific character. They were prepared to go farther. And I may now reveal the fact that the treaty had a secret clause, providing for the action which Russia afterward took in Mongolia.

These transactions one might term the first act of the international drama which is still proceeding. They indicate, if they did not shape, the mold in which the bronze of Japan's political program was cast. It necessarily differed from other politics, although the maxims underlying it were the same. Japan, having become a Great Power after her war with China, was slowly developing into a world Power, and hoped to establish her claim to that position one day. It was against that day that she would fain have acquired a puissant and trustworthy ally, and she left nothing undone to deserve the whole-hearted support of Russia. In the historic year of 1914, many months before the storm-cloud broke, the War Minister Sukhomlinoff transferred nearly all the garrisons from Siberia to Europe, because he had had assurances from Japan which warranted him in thus denuding the eastern border of troops. During the campaign, when the Russian offensive broke down and the armies of the enemy were driving the Tsar's troops like sheep before them, Japan hastened to the assistance of her neighbor, to whom she threw open her military arsenals, and many private establishments as well. And when the Petrograd Cabinet was no longer able to meet the financial liabilities incurred, the Mikado's advisers devised a generous arrangement on lines which brought both countries into still closer and more friendly relations.

The most influential daily press organ in the Tsardom, the Novoye Vremya, wrote: "The war with Germany has supplied our Asiatic neighbor with an opportunity of proving the sincerity of her friendly assurances. She behaves not merely like a good friend, but like a stanch military ally.... In the interests of the future tranquil development of Japan a more active participation of the Japanese is requisite in the war of the nations against the world-beast of prey. An alliance with Russia for the attainment of this object would be an act of immense historic significance."[244]

Ever since her entry into the community of progressive nations, Japan's main aspiration and striving has been to play a leading and a civilizing part in the Far East, and in especial to determine China by advice and organization to move into line with herself, adopt Western methods and apply them to Far-Eastern aims. And this might well seem a legitimate as well as a profitable policy, and a task as noble as most or those to which the world is wont to pay a tribute of high praise. It appeared all the more licit that the Powers of Europe, with the exception of Russia, had denied full political rights to the colored alien. He was placed in a category apart—an inferior class member of humanity.

"In Japan, and as yet in Japan alone, do we find the Asiatic welcoming European culture, in which, if a tree may fairly be judged by its fruit, is to be found the best prospect for the human personal liberty, in due combination with restraints of law sufficient to, but not in excess of, the requirements of the general welfare. In this particular distinctiveness of characteristic, which has thus differentiated the receptivity of the Japanese from that of the continental Asiatic, we may perhaps see the influence of the insular environment that has permitted and favored the evolution of a strong national personality; and in the same condition we may not err in finding a promise of power to preserve and to propagate, by example and by influence, among those akin to her, the new policy which she has adopted, and by which she has profited, affording to them the example which she herself has found in the development of Eastern peoples."[245]

Now that is exactly what the Japanese aimed at accomplishing. They were desirous of contributing to the intellectual and moral advance of the Chinese and other backward peoples of the Far East, in the same way as France is laudably desirous of aiding the Syrians, or Great Britain the Persians. And what is more, Japan undertook to uphold the principle of the open door, and generally to respect the legitimate interests of European peoples in the Far East.

But the white races had economic designs of their own on China, and one of the preliminary conditions of their execution was that Japan's aspirations should be foiled. Witte opened the campaign by inaugurating the process of peaceful penetration, but his remarkable efforts were neutralized and defeated by his own sovereign. The Japanese, after the Manchurian campaign, which they had done everything possible to avoid, contrived wholly to eliminate Russian aggression from the Far East. The feat was arduous and the masterly way in which it was tackled and achieved sheds a luster on Japanese statesmanship as personified by Viscount Motono. The Tsardom, in lieu of a potential enemy, was transformed into a stanch and powerful friend and ally, on whom Nippon could, as she believed, rely against future aggressors. Russia came to stand toward her in the same political relationship as toward France. Japanese statesmen took the alliance with the Tsardom as a solid and durable postulate of their foreign policy.

All at once the Tsardom fell to pieces like a house of cards, and the fragments that emerged from the ruins possessed neither the will nor the power to stand by their Far Eastern neighbors. The fruits of twelve years' statesmanship and heavy sacrifices were swept away by the Russian revolution, and Japan's diplomatic position was therefore worse beyond compare than that of the French Republic in July, 1917, because the latter was forthwith sustained by Great Britain and the United States, with such abundance of military and economic resources as made up in the long run for that of Russia. Japan, on the other hand, has as yet no substitute for her prostrate ally. She is still alone among Powers some of whom decline to recognize her equality, while others are ready to thwart her policy and disable her for the coming race.

The Japanese are firm believers in the law of causality. Where they desire to reap, there they first sow. They invariably strive to deal with a situation while there is still time to modify it, and they take pains to render the means adequate to the end. Unlike the peoples of western Europe and the United States, the Japanese show a profound respect for the principles of authority and inequality, and reserve the higher functions in the community for men of the greatest ability and attainments. It is a fact, however, that individual liberty has made perceptible progress in the population, and is still growing, owing to the increase of economic well-being and the spread of general and technical education. But although socialism is likewise spreading fast, I feel inclined to think that in Japan a high grade of instruction and of social development on latter-day lines will be found compatible with that extraordinary cohesiveness to which the race owes the position which it occupies among the communities of the world. The soul of the individual Japanese may be said to float in an atmosphere of collectivity, which, while leaving his intellect intact, sways his sentiments and modifies his character by rendering him impressible to motives of an order which has the weal of the race for its object.

Japan has borrowed what seemed to her leaders to be the best of everything in foreign countries. They analyzed the military, political, and industrial successes of their friends and enemies, satisfactorily explained and duly fructified them. They use the school as the seed-plot of the state, and inculcate conceptions there which the entire community endeavors later on to embody in acts and institutions. And what the elementary school has begun, the intermediate, the technical, and the high schools develop and perfect, aided by the press, which is encouraged by the state.

Japan's ideal cannot be offhandedly condemned as immoral, pernicious, or illegitimate. Its partizans pertinently invoke every principle which their Allies applied to their own aims and strivings. And men of deeper insight than those who preside over the fortunes of the Entente to-day recognize that Europeans of high principles and discerning minds, who perceive the central issues, would, were they in the position of the Japanese statesmen, likewise bend their energies to the achievement of the same aims.

The Japanese argue their case somewhat as follows:

"We are determined to help China to put herself in line with ourselves, and to keep her from falling into anarchy. And no one can honestly deny our qualifications. We and they have very much in common, and we understand them as no Anglo-Saxon or other foreign people can. On the one hand our own past experience resembles that of the Middle Kingdom, and on the other our method of adapting ourselves to the new international conditions challenged and received the ungrudging admiration of a world disposed to be critical. The Peking treaties of May, 1915, between China and Japan, and the pristine drafts of them which were modified before signature, enable the outsider to form a fairly accurate opinion of Japan's economic and political program, which amounts to the application of a Far Eastern Monroe Doctrine.

"What we seek to obtain in the Far East is what the Western Powers have secured throughout the remainder of the globe: the right to contribute to the moral and intellectual progress of our backward neighbors, and to profit by our exertions. China needs the help which we are admittedly able to bestow. To our mission no cogent objection has ever been offered. No Cabinet in Tokio has ever looked upon the Middle Realm as a possible colony for the Japanese. The notion is preposterous, seeing that China is already over-populated. What Japan sorely needs are sources whence to draw coal and iron for industrial enterprise. She also needs cotton and leather."

In truth, the ever-ready command of these raw materials at their sources, which must be neither remote nor subject to potential enemies, is indispensable to the success of Japan's development. But for the moment the English-speaking nations have a veto upon them, in virtue of possession, and the embargo put by the United States government upon the export of steel during the war caused a profound emotion in Nippon. For the shipbuilding works there had increased in number from nine before the war to twelve in 1917, and to twenty-eight at the beginning of 1918, with one hundred slips capable of producing six hundred thousand tons of net register. The effect of that embargo was to shut down between 70 and 80 per cent. of the shipbuilding works of the country, and to menace with extinction an industry which was bringing in immense profits.

It was with these antecedents and aims that Japan appeared before the Conference in Paris and asked, not for something which she lacked before, but merely for the confirmation of what she already possessed by treaty. It must be admitted that she had damaged her cause by the manner in which that treaty had been obtained. To say that she had intimidated the Chinese, instead of coaxing them or bargaining with them, would be a truism. The fall of Tsingtao gave her a favorable opportunity, and she used and misused it unjustifiably. The demands in themselves were open to discussion and, if one weighs all the circumstances, would not deserve a classification different from some of those—the protection of minorities or the transit proviso, for example—imposed by the greater on the lesser nations at the Conference. But the mode in which they were pressed irritated the susceptible Chinese and belied the professions made by the Mikado's Ministers. The secrecy, too, with which the Tokio Cabinet endeavored to surround them warranted the worst construction. Yuan Shi Kai[246] regarded the procedure as a deadly insult to himself and his country. And the circumstance that the Japanese government failed either to foresee or to avoid this amazing psychological blunder lent color to the objections of those who questioned Japan's qualifications for the mission she had set herself. The wound inflicted on China by that exhibition of insolence will not soon heal. How it reacted may be inferred from the strenuous and well-calculated opposition of the Chinese delegation at the Conference.

Nor was that all. In the summer of 1916 a free fight occurred between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in Cheng-cha-tun, the rights and wrongs of which were, as is usual in such cases, obscure. But the Okuma Cabinet, assuming that the Chinese were to blame, pounced upon the incident and made it the base of fresh demands to China,[247] two of which were manifestly excessive. That China would be better off than she is or is otherwise likely to become under Japanese guidance is in the highest degree probable. But in order that that guidance should be effective it must be accepted, and this can only be the consequence of such a policy of cordiality, patience, and magnanimity as was outlined by my friend, the late Viscount Motono.[248]

At the Conference the policy of the Japanese delegates was clear-cut and coherent. It may be summarized as follows: the Japanese delegation decided to give its entire support to the Allies in all matters concerning the future relations of Germany and Russia, western Europe, the Balkans, the African colonies, as well as financial indemnities and reparations. The fate of the Samoan Archipelago must be determined in accord with Britain and the United States. New Guinea should be allotted to Australia. As the Marshall, Caroline, and Ladrone Islands, although of no intrinsic value, would constitute a danger in Germany's hands, they should be taken over by Japan. Tsingtao and the port of Kiaochow should belong to Japan, as well as the Tainan railway. Japan would co-operate with the Allies in maintaining order in Siberia, but no Power should arrogate to itself a preponderant voice in the matter of obtaining concessions or other interests there. Lastly, the principle of the open door was to be upheld in China, Japan being admittedly the Power which is the most interested in the establishment and maintenance of peace in the Far East.

At the Conference, when the Kiaochow dispute came up for discussion, the Japanese attitude, according to their Anglo-Saxon and French colleagues, was calm and dignified, their language courteous, their arguments were put with studied moderation, and their resolve to have their treaty rights recognized was inflexible. Their case was simple enough, and under the old ordering unanswerable. The only question was whether it would be invalidated by the new dispensation. But as the United States had obtained recognition for its Monroe Doctrine, Britain for the supremacy of the sea, and France for the occupation of the Saar Valley and the suspension of the right of self-determination in the case of Austria, it was obvious that Japan had abundant and cogent arguments for her demands, which were that the Chinese territory once held by Germany, and since wrested from that Power by Japan, be formally retroceded to Japan, whose claim to it rested upon the right of conquest and also upon the faith of treaties which she had concluded with China. At the same time she expressly and spontaneously disclaimed the intention of keeping that territory for herself. Baron Makino said at the Peace Table:

"The acquisition of territory belonging to one nation which it is the intention of the country acquiring it to exploit to its sole advantage is not conducive to amity or good-will." Japan, although by the fortune of war Germany's heir to Kiaochow, did not purpose retaining it for the remaining term of the lease; she had, in fact, already promised to restore it to China. She maintained, however, that the conditions of retrocession should form the subject of a general settlement between Tokio and Peking.

The Chinese delegation, which worked vigorously and indefatigably and won over a considerable number of backers, argued that Kiaochow had ceased to belong to Germany on the day when China declared war on that state, inasmuch as all their treaties, including the lease of Kiaochow, were abrogated by that declaration, and the ownership of every rood of Chinese territory held by Germany reverted in law to China, and should therefore be handed over to her, and not to Japan. To this plea Baron Makino returned the answer that with the surrender of Tsingtao to Japan in 1914[249] the whole imperial German protectorates of Shantung had passed to that Power, China being still a neutral. Consequently the entry of China into the war in 1917 could not affect the status of the province which already belonged to Nippon by right of conquest. As a matter of alleged fact, this capture of the protectorates by the Japanese had been specially desired by the British government, in order to prevent Germany from ceding it to China. If that move meant anything, therefore, it meant that neither China nor Germany had or could have any hold on the territory once it was captured by Japan. Further, this conquest was effected at the cost of vast sums of money and two thousand Japanese lives.

Nor was that all. In the year 1915[250] China signed an agreement with Japan, undertaking "to recognize all matters that may be agreed upon between the Japanese government and the German government respecting the disposition of all the rights, interests, and concessions which, in virtue of treaties or otherwise, Germany possesses vis-à-vis China, in relation to the province of Shantung." This treaty, the Chinese delegates answered, was extorted by force. Japan, having vainly sought to obtain it by negotiations that lasted nearly four months, finally presented an ultimatum,[251] giving China forty-eight hours in which to accept it. She had no alternative. But at least she made it known to the world that she was being coerced. It was on the day on which that document was signed that the Japanese representative in Peking sent a spontaneous declaration to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, promising to return the leased territory to China on condition that all Kiaochow be opened as a commercial port, that a Japanese settlement be established, and also an international settlement, if the Powers desired it, and that an arrangement be made beforehand between the Chinese and Japanese governments with regard to "the disposal of German public establishments and populations, and with regard to other conditions and procedures."

The Japanese further invoked another and later agreement, which was, they alleged, signed by the Chinese without demur.[252] This accord, coming after the entry of China into the war, was tantamount to the renunciation of any rights which China might have believed she possessed as a corollary of her belligerency. It also disposed, the Japanese argued, of her contention that the territory in question is indispensable and vital to her—a contention which Japan met with the promise to deliver it up—and which was invalidated by China's refusal to fight for it in the year 1914. This latter argument was controverted by the Chinese assertion that they were ready and willing to declare war against Germany at the outset, but that their co-operation was refused by the Entente, and subsequently by Japan. This allegation is credible, if we remember the eagerness exhibited by the British government that Japan should lose no time in co-operating with her allies, the representations made by the British Ambassador to Baron Kato on the subject,[253] and the alleged motive to prevent the retrocession of Shantung to China by the German government.

The arguments of China and Japan were summarily put in the following questions by a delegate of each country: "Yes or no, does Kiaochow, whose population is exclusively Chinese, form an integral part of the Chinese state? Yes or no, was Kiaochow brutally occupied by the Kaiser in the teeth of right and justice and to the detriment of the peace of the Far East, and it may be of the world? Yes or no, did Japan enter the war against the aggressive imperialism of the German Empire, and for the purpose of arranging a lasting peace in the Far East? Yes or no, was Kiaochow captured by the English and Japanese troops in 1914 with the sole object of destroying a dangerous naval base? Yes or no, was China's co-operation against Germany, which was advocated and offered by President Yuan Shi Kai in August, 1914, refused at the instigation of Japan?"[254]

The Japanese catechism ran thus: "Yes or no, was Kiaochow a German possession in the year 1914? Yes or no, was the world, including the United States, a consenting party to the occupation of that province by the Germans? Why did China, who to-day insists that that port is indispensable to her, cede it to Germany? Why in 1914 did she make no effort to recover it, but leave this task to the Japanese army? Further, who can maintain that juridically the last war abolished ipso facto all the cessions of territory previously effected? Turkey formerly ceded Cyprus to Great Britain. Will it be argued that this cession is abrogated and that Cyprus must return to Turkey directly and unconditionally? The Conference announced repeatedly that it took its stand on justice and the welfare of the peoples. It is in the name of the welfare of the peoples, as well as in the name of justice, that we assert our right to take over Kiaochow. The harvest to him whose hands soweth the seed."[255]

If we add to all these conflicting data the circumstance that Great Britain, France, and Russia had undertaken[256] to support Japan's demands at the Conference, and that Italy had promised to raise no objection, we shall have a tolerable notion of the various factors of the Chino-Japanese dispute, and of its bearings on the Peace Treaty and on the principles of the Covenant. It was one of the many illustrations of the incompatibility of the Treaty and the Covenant, the respective scopes of which were radically and irreconcilably different. The Supreme Council had to adjudicate upon the matter from the point of view either of the Treaty or of the Covenant; as part of a vulgar bargain of the old, unregenerate days, or as an example of the self-renunciation of the new ethical system. The majority of the Council was pledged to the former way of contemplating it, and, having already promulgated a number of decrees running counter to the Covenant doctrine in favor of their own peoples, could not logically nor politically make an exception to the detriment of Japan.

What actually happened at the Peace Table is still a secret, and President Wilson, who knows its nature, holds that it is in the best interests of humanity that it should so remain! The little that has as yet been disclosed comes mainly from State-Secretary Lansing's answers to the questions put by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. America's second delegate, in answer to the questions with which he was there plied, affirmed that "President Wilson alone approved the Shantung decision, that the other members of the American delegation made no protest against it, and that President Wilson alone knows whether Japan has guaranteed to return Shantung to China."[257] Another eminent American, who claims to have been present when President Wilson's act was officially explained to the Chinese delegates, states that the President, disclosing to them his motives, pleaded that political exigencies, the menace that Japan would abandon the Conference, and the rumor that England herself might withdraw, had constrained him to accept the Shantung settlement in order to save the League.[258] Rumors appear to have played an undue part in the Conference, influencing the judgment or the decisions of the Supreme Council. The reader will remember that it was a rumor to the effect that the Italian government had already published a decree annexing Fiume that is alleged to have precipitated the quarrel between Mr. Wilson and the first Italian delegation. It is worth noting that the alleged menace that Japan would quit the Conference if her demands were rejected was not regarded by Secretary Lansing as serious. "Could Japan's signature to the League have been obtained without the Shantung decision?" he was asked. "I think so," he answered.

The decision caused tremendous excitement among the Chinese and their numerous friends. At first they professed skepticism and maintained that there must be some misunderstanding, and finally they protested and refused to sign the Treaty. One of the American journals published in Paris wrote: "Shantung was at least a moral explosion. It blew down the front of the temple, and now everybody can see that behind the front there was a very busy market. The morals were the morals of a horse trade. If the muezzin were loud and constant in his calls to prayer, it probably was to drown the sound of the dickering in the market. There is no longer any obligation upon this nation to accept the Covenant as a moral document. It is not."[259]

All that may be perfectly true, but it sounds odd that the discovery should not have been made until Japan's claim was admitted formally to take over Shantung, after she had solemnly promised to restore it to China. The Covenant was certainly transgressed long before this, and much more flagrantly than by President Wilson's indorsement of Japan's demand for the formal retrocession of Shantung. But by those infractions nobody seemed scandalized. Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi. Debts of gratitude had to be paid at the expense of the Covenant, and people closed their eyes or their lips. It was not until the Japanese asked for something which all her European allies considered to be her right that an outcry was raised and moral principles were invoked.

The Japanese press was nowise jubilant over the finding of the Supreme Council. The journals of all parties argued that their country was receiving no more than had already been guaranteed to it by China, and ratified by the Allies before the Peace Conference met, and to have obtained what was already hers by rights of conquest and of treaties was anything but a triumph. What Japan desired was to have herself recognized practically, not merely in theory, as the nation which is the most nearly interested in China, and therefore deserving of a special status there. In other words, she aimed at the proclamation of something in the nature of a Far Eastern doctrine analogous to that of Monroe. As priority of interest had been conceded to her by the Ishii-Lansing Agreement with the United States, it was in this sense that her press was fain to construe the clause respecting non-interference with "regional understandings."

That policy is open. The principles underlying it, always tenable, were never more so than since the Peace Conference set the Great Powers to direct the lesser states. Moreover, Japan, it is argued, knows by experience that China has always been a temptation to the Western peoples. They sent expeditions to fight her and divided her territory into zones of influence, although China was never guilty of an aggressive attitude toward them, as she was toward Japan. They were actuated by land greed and all that that implies, and if China were abandoned to her own resources to-morrow she would surely fall a prey to her Western protectors. In this connection they point to an incident which took place during the Conference, when Signor Tittoni demanded that Italy should receive the Austrian concession in Tientsin, which adjoins the Italian concession. But Viscount Chinda protested and the demand was ruled out. To sum up, the broad maxim underlying Japan's policy as defined by her own representatives is that in the resettlement of the world the principle adopted, whether the old or the new, shall be applied fairly and impartially at least to all the Great Powers.

Every world conflict has marked the close of one epoch and the opening of another. Into the melting-pot on the fire kindled by the war many momentous problems have been flung, any one of which would have sufficed to bring about a new political, economic, and social constellation. Japan's advance along the road of progress is one of these far-ranging innovations. She became a Great Power in the wars against China and Russia, and is qualifying for the part of a World Power to-day. And her statesmen affirm that in order to achieve her purpose she will recoil from no sacrifice except those of honor and of truth.

FOOTNOTES:

[244] Novoye Vremya, June 13-26, 1915.

[245] Cf. The Problem of Asia (Capt. A.T. Mahan), pp. 150-151.

[246] The late President of the Chinese Republic.

[247] These demands were (1) an apology from the Chinese authorities; (2) an indemnity for the killed and wounded; (3) the policing of certain districts of Manchuria by the Japanese; and (4) the employment of Japanese officers to train Chinese troops in Manchuria.

[248] Minister of Foreign Affairs. He repudiated his predecessor's policy.

[249] November 8th.

[250] May 25, 1915.

[251] On May 6, 1915.

[252] On September 24, 1918.

[253] On August 7, 1914.

[254] Cf. Le Matin, April 25, 1919.

[255] Le Matin, April 23, 1919.

[256] "His Majesty's Government accede with pleasure to the requests of the Japanese Government for assurances that they will support Japan's claims in regard to the disposal of Germany's rights in Shantung, and possessions in islands north of the Equator, on the occasion of a Peace Conference, it being understood that the Japanese Government will, in the event of a peace settlement, treat in the same spirit Great Britain's claims to German islands south of the Equator." (Signed) Conyngham Greene, British Ambassador, Tokio, February 16, 1917. France gave a similar assurance in writing on March 1, 1917, and the Russian government had made a like declaration on February 20, 1917.

[257] As a matter of fact, the entire world knew and knows that she had guaranteed the retrocession. Baron Makino declared it at the Conference. Cf. The (London) Times, February 13, 1919; also on May 5, 1919; and Viscount Uchida confirmed it on May 17, 1919. It had also been stated in the Japanese ultimatum to Germany, August 15, 1914, and repeated by Viscount Uchida at the beginning of August, 1919.

[258] Mr. Thomas Millard, some of whose letters were published by The New York Times. Cf. Le Temps, July 29, 1919.

[259] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 20, 1919.


X

ATTITUDE TOWARD RUSSIA

In their dealings with Russia the principal plenipotentiaries consistently displayed the qualities and employed the standards, maxims, and methods which had stood them in good stead as parliamentary politicians. The betterment of the world was an idea which took a separate position in their minds, quite apart from the other political ideas with which they usually operated. Overflowing with verbal altruism, they first made sure of the political and economic interests of their own countries, safeguarding or extending these sources of power, after which they proceeded to try their novel experiment on communities which they could coerce into obedience. Hence the aversion and opposition which they encountered among all the nations which had to submit to the yoke, and more especially among the Russians.

Russia's opposition, widespread and deep-rooted, is natural, and history will probably add that it was justified. It starts from the assumption, which there is no gainsaying, that the Conference was convoked to make peace between the belligerents and that whatever territorial changes it might introduce must be restricted to the countries of the defeated peoples. From all "disannexations" not only the Allies' territories, but those of neutrals, were to be exempted. Repudiate this principle and the demands of Ireland, Egypt, India to the benefits of self-determination became unanswerable. Belgium's claim to Dutch Limburg and other territorial oddments must likewise be allowed. Indeed, the plea actually put forward against these was that the Conference was incompetent to touch any territory actually possessed by either neutral or Allied states. Ireland, Egypt, and Dutch Limburg Were all domestic matters with which the Conference had no concern.

Despite this fundamental principle Russia, the whilom Ally, without whose superhuman efforts and heroic sacrifices her partners would have been pulverized, was tacitly relegated to the category of hostile and defeated peoples, and many of her provinces lopped off arbitrarily and without appeal. None of her representatives was convoked or consulted on the subject, although all of them, Bolshevist and anti-Bolshevist, were at one in their resistance to foreign dictation.

The Conference repeatedly disclaimed any intention of meddling in the internal affairs of any other state, and the Irish, the Egyptian, and several other analogous problems were for the purposes of the Conference included in this category. On what intelligible grounds, then, were the Finnish, the Lettish, the Esthonian, the Georgian, the Ukrainian problems excluded from it? One cannot conceive a more flagrant violation of the sovereignty of a state than the severance and disposal of its territorial possessions against its will. It is a frankly hostile act, and as such was rightly limited by the Conference to enemy countries. Why, then, was it extended to the ex-Ally? Is it not clear that if reconstituted Russia should regard the Allied states as enemies and choose the potential enemies of these as its friends, it will be legitimately applying the principles laid down by the Allies themselves? No expert in international law and no person of average common sense will seriously maintain that any of the decisions reached in Paris are binding on the Russia of the future. No problem which concerns two equal parties can be rightfully decided by only one of them. The Conference which declared itself incompetent to impose on Holland the cession to Belgium even of a small strip of territory on one of the banks of the Belgian river Scheldt cannot be deemed authorized to sign away vast provinces that belonged to Russia. Here the plea of the self-determination of peoples possesses just as much or as little cogency as in the case of Ireland and Egypt.

President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George had inaugurated their East European policy by publicly proclaiming that Russia was the key to the world situation, and that the peace would be no peace so long as her hundred and fifty million inhabitants were left floundering in chaotic confusion, under the upas shade of Bolshevism. They had also held out hopes to their great ex-ally of efficient help and practical counsel. And there ended what may be termed the constructive side of their conceptions.

It was followed by no coherent action. Discourses, promises, maneuvers, and counter-maneuvers were continuous and bewildering, but of systematic policy there was none. Statesmanship in the higher sense of the word was absent from every decision the delegates took and from every suggestion they proffered. Nor was it only by omission that they sinned. Their invincible turn for circuitous methods, to which severer critics give a less sonorous name, was manifested ad nauseam. They worked out cunning little schemes which it was hard to distinguish from intrigues, and which, if they had not been foiled in time, would have made matters even worse than they are. From the outset the British government was for summoning Bolshevist delegates to the Conference. A note to this effect was sent by the London Foreign Office to the Allied governments about a fortnight before the delegates began their work of making peace. But the suggestion was withdrawn at the instance of the French, who doubted whether the services of systematic lawbreakers would materially conduce to the establishment of a new society of law-abiding states. Soon afterward another scheme cropped up, this time for the appointment of an Inter-Allied committee to watch over Russia's destinies and serve as a sort of board of Providence. The representatives of the anti-Bolshevist governments resented this notion bitterly. They remarked that they could not be fairly asked to respect decisions imposed on them exactly as though they were vanquished enemies like the Germans. The British and American delegates were swayed in their views mainly by the assumptions that all central Russia was in the power of Lenin; that his army was well disciplined and powerful; that he might contrive to hold the reins of government and maintain anarchism indefinitely, and that the so-called constructive elements were inclined toward reaction.

In other words, the delegates accepted two sets of premises, from which they drew two wholly different sets of conclusions. Now they felt impelled to act on the one, now on the other, but they could never make up their minds to carry out either. They agreed that Bolshevism is a potent solvent of society, fraught with peril to all organized communities, yet they could not resolve to use joint action to extirpate it.[260] They recognized that so long as it lasted there was no hope of establishing a community of nations, but they discarded military intervention on grounds of their own internal policy, and because it ran counter to the principle of self-determination. Over against that principle, however, one had to set the circumstance that they were already intermeddling in Russian affairs in Archangel, Murmansk, Odessa, and elsewhere, and that they ended by creating a new state and government in northwestern Russia, against which Kolchak and Denikin vehemently protested.

In mitigation of judgment it is only fair to take into account the tremendous difficulties that faced them; their unfamiliarity with the Russian problem; the want of a touchstone by which to test the overwhelming mass of conflicting information which poured in upon them; their constitutional lack of moral courage, and the circumstance that they were striving to reconcile contradictories. Without chart or compass they drifted into strange and sterile courses, beginning with the Prinkipo incident and ending with the written examination to which they naïvely subjected Kolchak in order to legalize international relations, which could not truly be described as either war or peace. Neither the causes of Bolshevism in its morbid manifestations nor the unformulated ideas underlying whatever positive aspect it may be supposed to possess, nor the conditions governing its slow but perceptible evolution, were so much as glanced at, much less studied, by the statesmen who blithely set about dealing with it now by military force, now by economic pressure, and fitfully by tentative forbearance and hints to its leaders of forthcoming recognition.

One cannot thus play fast and loose with the destinies of a community composed of one hundred and fifty million people whose members are but slackly linked together by a few tenuous social bonds, without forfeiting the right to offer them real guidance. And a blind man is a poor guide to those who can see. Alone the Americans were equipped with carefully tabulated statistics and huge masses of facts which they poured out as lavishly as coal-heavers hurl the contents of their sacks into the cellar. But they put them to no practical use. Losing themselves in a labyrinth of details, they failed to get a comprehensive view of the whole. The other delegations lacked both data and general ideas. And all the Allies were destitute of a powerful army in the East, and therefore of the means of asserting the authority which they assumed.

They one and all dealt in vague theories and deceptive analogies, paying little heed to the ever-shifting necessities of time, place, and peoples, and indeed to the only conditions under which any new maxims could be fruitfully applied. And even such rules as they laid down were restricted and modified in accordance with their own countries' interests or their unavowed aims, without specific warrant or explanation. No account was taken of the historical needs or aspirations of the people for whom they were legislating, as though all nations were of the same age, capable of the same degree of culture, and impressible to identical motives. It never seemed to have crossed their minds that races and peoples, like individuals, have a soul, or that what is meat to one may be poison to another.

One of the most Ententophil and moderate press organs in France put the matter forcibly and plainly as follows: "The governments of Washington and of London are aware that we are immutably attached to the alliance with them. But we owe them the truth. Far too often they make a bad choice of the agents whose business it is to keep them informed, and they affect too much disdain for friendly suggestions which emanate from any other source. American agents, in particular, civil as well as military, explore Europe much as their forebears 'prospected' the Far West, and they look upon the most ancient nations of Europe as Iroquois, Comanches, or Aztecs. They are astounded at not finding everything on the old Continent as in New York or Chicago, and they set to work to reform Europe according to the rules in force in Oklahoma or Colorado. Now we venture respectfully to point out to them that methods differ with countries. In the United States the Colonists were wont to set fire to the forests in order to clear and fertilize the land. Certain American agents recommend the employment in Europe of an analogous procedure in political matters. They rejoice to behold the Russian and Hungarian forests burst into flame. In Lenin, Trotzky, Bela Kuhn, they appreciate useful pioneers of the new civilization. We crave their permission to view these things from another side. In old Europe one cannot set fire to the forests without at the same time burning villages and cities."[261]

Before and during the armistice I was in almost constant touch with all Russian parties within the country and without, and received detailed accounts of the changing conditions of the people, which, although conflicting in many details, enabled me to form a tolerably correct picture of the trend of things and to forecast what was coming.

Among other communications I received proposals from Moscow with the request that I should present them to one of the British delegates, who was supposed to be then taking an active interest, or at any rate playing a prominent part, in the reconstruction of Russia, less for her own sake than for that of the general peace. But as it chanced, the eminent statesman lacked the leisure to take cognizance of the proposal, the object of which was to hit upon such a modus vivendi with Russia as would enable her united peoples to enter upon a normal course of national existence without further delay. Incidentally it would have put an end to certain conversations then going forward with a view to a friendly understanding between Russia and Germany. It would also, I had reason to believe, have divided the speculative Bolshevist group from the extreme bloodthirsty faction, produced a complete schism in the party, and secured an armistice which would have prevented the Allies' subsequent defeats at Murmansk, Archangel, and Odessa. Truth prompts me to add that these desirable by-results, although held out as inducements and characterized as readily attainable, were guaranteed only by the unofficial pledge of men whose good faith was notoriously doubtful.

The document submitted to me is worth summarizing. It contained a lucid, many-sided, and plausible account of the Russian situation. Among other things, it was a confession of the enormity of the crimes perpetrated, on both sides, it said, which it ascribed largely to the brutalizing effects of the World War, waged under disastrous conditions unknown in other lands. Myriads of practically unarmed men had been exposed during the campaign to wholesale slaughter, or left to die in slow agonies where they fell, or were killed off by famine and disease, for the triumph of a cause which they never understood, but had recently been told was that of foreign capitalists. In the demoralization that ensued all restraints fell away. The entire social fabric, from groundwork to summit, was rent, and society, convulsed with bestial passions, tore its own members to pieces. Russia ran amuck among the nations. That was the height of war frenzy. Since then, the document went on, passion had abated sensibly and a number of well-intentioned men who had been swept onward by the current were fast coming to their senses, while others were already sane, eager to stem it and anxious for moral sympathy from outside.

From out of the revolutionary welter, the exposé continued, certain hopeful phenomena had emerged symptomatic of a new spirit. Conditions conducive to equality existed, although real equality was still a somewhat remote ideal. But the tendencies over the whole sphere of Russian social, moral, and political life had undergone remarkable and invigorating changes in the direction of "reasonable democracy." Many wholesome reforms had been attempted, and some were partially realized, especially in elementary instruction, which was being spread clumsily, no doubt, as yet, but extensively and equally, being absolutely gratuitous.[262]

Various other so-called ameliorations were enumerated in this obviously partial exposé, which was followed by an apology for certain prominent individuals, who, having been swept off their feet by the revolutionary floods, would gladly get back to firm land and help to extricate the nation from the Serbonian bog in which it was sinking. They admitted a share of the responsibility for having set in motion a vast juggernaut chariot, which, however, they had arrested, but hoped to expiate past errors by future zeal. At the same time they urged that it was not they who had demoralized the army or abolished the death penalty or thrown open the sluice-gates to anarchist floods. On the contrary, they claimed to have reorganized the national forces, reintroduced the severest discipline ever known, appointed experienced officers, and restored capital punishment. Nor was it they, but their predecessors, they added, who had ruined the transport service of the country and caused the food scarcity.

These individuals would, it was said, welcome peace and friendship with the Entente, and give particularly favorable consideration to any proposal coming from the English-speaking peoples, in whom they were disposed to place confidence under certain simple conditions. The need for these conditions would not be gainsaid by the British and American governments if they recalled to mind the treatment which they had theretofore meted out to the Russian people. At that moment no Russian of any party regarded or could regard the Allies without grounded suspicions, for while repudiating interference in domestic affairs, the French, Americans, and British were striving hard to influence every party in Russia, and were even believed to harbor designs on certain provinces, such as the Caucasus and Siberia. Color was imparted to these misgivings by the circumstance that the Allied governments were openly countenancing the dismemberment of the country by detaching non-Russian and even Russian elements from the main body. It behooved the Allies to dissipate this mistrust by issuing a statement of their policy in unmistakable terms, repudiating schemes for territorial gains, renouncing interference in domestic affairs and complicity in the work of disintegrating the country. Russia and her affairs must be left to Russians, who would not grudge economic concessions as a reasonable quid pro quo.

The proposal further insisted that the declaration of policy should be at once followed by the despatch of two or three well-known persons acquainted with Russia and Russian affairs, and enjoying the confidence of European peoples, to inquire into the conditions of the country and make an exhaustive report. This mission, it was added, need not be official, it might be intrusted to individuals unattached to any government.

If a satisfactory answer to this proposal were returned within a fortnight, an armistice and suspension of the secret pourparlers with Germany would, I was told, have followed. That this compact would have led to a settlement of the Russian problems is more than any one, however well informed, could vouch for, but I had some grounds for believing the move to be genuine and the promises overdone. No reasonable motive suggested itself for a vulgar hoax. Moreover, the overture disclosed two important facts, one of which was known at the time only to the Bolshevist government—namely, that secret pourparlers were going forward between Berlin and Moscow for the purpose of arriving at a workable understanding between the two governments, and that the Allied troops at Odessa, Archangel, and Murmansk were in a wretched plight and in direr need of an armistice than the Bolsheviki.[263]

I mentioned the matter summarily to one of the delegates, who evinced a certain interest in it and promised to discuss it at length later on with a view to action. Another to whom I unfolded it later thought it would be well if I myself started, together with two or three others, for Moscow, Petrograd, Ekaterinodar, and other places, and reported on the situation. But weeks went by and nothing was done.[264]

I had interesting talks with some influential delegates on the eve of the invitation issued to all de facto governments of Russia to forgather at Prinkipo for a symposium. They admitted frankly at the time that they had no policy and were groping in the dark, and one of them held to the dogma that no light from outside was to be expected. They gave me the impression that underlying the impending summons was the conviction that Bolshevism, divested of its frenzied manifestations, was a rough and ready government calumniously blackened by unscrupulous enemies, criminal perhaps in its outbursts, but suited in its feasible aims to the peculiar needs of a peculiar people, and therefore as worthy of being recognized as any of the others. It was urged that it had already lasted a considerable time without provoking a counter-movement worthy of the name; that the stories circulating about the horrors of which it was guilty were demonstrably exaggerated; that many of the bloody atrocities were to be ascribed to crazy individuals on both sides; that the witnesses against Lenin were partial and untrustworthy; that something should be done without delay to solve a pressing problem, and that the Conference could think of nothing better, nor, in fact, of any alternative.

To me the principal scheme seemed a sinister mistake, both in form and in substance. In form, because it nullified the motives which determined the help given to the Greeks, Poles, and Serbs, who were being urged to crush the Bolshevists, and left the Allies without good grounds for keeping their own troops in Archangel, Odessa, and northern Russia to stop the onward march of Bolshevism. Some governments had publicly stigmatized the Bolshevists as cutthroats; one had pledged itself never to have relations with them, but the Prinkipo invitation bespoke a resolve to cancel these judgments and declarations and change their tack as an improvement on doing nothing at all. The scheme was also an error in substance, because the sole motive that could warrant it was the hope of reconciling the warring parties. And that hope was doomed to disappointment from the outset.

According to the Prinkipo project, which was attributed to President Wilson,[265] an invitation was to be issued to all organized groups exercising or attempting to exercise political authority or military control in Siberia and northern Russia, to send representatives to confer with the delegates of the Allied and Associated Powers on Prince's Islands. It is difficult to discuss the expedient seriously. One feels like a member of the little people of yore, who are reported to have consulted an oracle to ascertain what they must do to keep from laughing during certain debates on public affairs. It exposed its ingenuous authors to the ridicule of the world and made it clear to the dullest apprehension that from that quarter, at any rate, the Russian people, as a whole, must expect neither light nor leading, nor intelligent appreciation of their terrible plight. There is a sphere of influence in the human intellect between the reason and the imagination, the boundary line of which is shadowy. That sphere would seem to be the source whence some of the most extraordinary notions creep into the minds of men who have suddenly come into a position of power which they are not qualified to wield—the nouveaux puissants of the world of politics.

To the credit of the Supreme Council it never let offended dignity stand between itself and the triumph of any of the various causes which it successively took in hand. Time and again it had been addressed by the Russian Bolshevist government in the most opprobrious terms, and accused not merely of clothing political expediency in the garb of spurious idealism, but of giving the fore place in political life to sordid interests, over which a cloak of humanitarianism had been deftly thrown. One official missive from the Bolshevist government to President Wilson is worth quoting from:[266] "We should like to learn with more precision how you conceive the Society of Nations? When you insist on the independence of Belgium, of Serbia, of Poland, you surely mean that the masses of the people are everywhere to take over the administration of the country. But it is odd that you did not also require the emancipation of Ireland, of Egypt, of India, and of the Philippines....

"As we concluded peace with the German Kaiser, for whom you have no more consideration than we have for you, so we are minded to make peace with you. We propose, therefore, the discussion, in concert with our allies, of the following questions: (1) Are the French and English governments ready to give up exacting the blood of the Russian people if this people consent to pay them ransom and to compensate them in that way? (2) If the answer is in the affirmative, what ransom would the Allies want (railway concessions, gold mines, or territories)?

"We also look forward to your telling us exactly whether the future Society of Nations will be a joint stock enterprise for the exploitation of Russia, and in particular—as your French allies require—for forcing Russia to refund the milliards which their bankers furnished to the Tsarist government, or whether the Society of Nations will be something different...."

As soon as the Prinkipo motion was passed by the delegates I was informed by telephone, and I lost no time in communicating the tidings to Russia's official representatives in Paris. The plan astounded them. They could hardly believe that, while hopefully negotiating with the anti-Bolshevists, the Conference was desirous at the same time of opening pourparlers with the Leninists, between whom and them antagonism was not merely political, but personal and vindictive, like that of two Albanians in a blood feud. I suggested that the scheme should be thwarted at its inception, and that for this purpose I should be authorized by the representatives of the four[267] constructive governments in Russia to make known their decision. I was accordingly empowered to announce to the world that they would categorically refuse to send any representatives to confer with the assassins of their kinsmen and the destroyers of their country, and that under no circumstances would they swerve from that attitude. Having received the authorization, I cabled to the United States and Britain that the projected meeting would come to naught, owing to the refusal of all constructive elements to agree to any compromise with the Bolsheviki; that in the opinion of Russia's representatives in Paris the advance made by the plenipotentiaries would strengthen the Bolshevist movement, render the civil war more merciless than before, and raise up formidable difficulties to the establishment of the League of Nations.

But the plenipotentiaries did not yet give up their cause as lost. By way of "saving their face," they unofficially approached the Russian Ministers in Paris, whom they had not deigned to consult on the subject before making the plunge, and exhorted them to give at least a formal assent to the proposal, which would commit them to nothing and would enable them to withdraw without loss of dignity. They, on their part, undertook to smooth the road to the best of their ability. Thus it would be unnecessary, they explained, for the Ministers of the constructive governments or their substitutes to come into contact with the slayers of their kindred; they would occupy different wings of the hotel at Prinkipo, and never meet their adversaries. The delegates would see to that. "Then why should we go there at all if discussion be superfluous?" asked the Russians. "Because the Allied governments desire to ascertain the condition of Russia and your conception of the measures that would contribute to ameliorate it," was the reply. "Prince's Islands is not the right place to study the Russian situation, nor is it reasonable to expect us to journey thither in order to tell subordinates, who have no knowledge of our country, what we can tell them and their principals in Paris in greater detail and with confirmatory documents. Moreover, the delegates you have appointed have no qualification to judge of Russia's plight and potentialities. They know neither the country nor its language nor its people nor its politics, yet you want us to travel all the way to Turkey to tell them what we think, in order that they should return from Turkey to Paris and report to your Ministers what we said and what we could have unfolded directly to the Ministers themselves long ago and are ready to propound to them to-day or to-morrow.

"The project is puerile and your tactics are baleful. Your Ministers branded the Bolshevists as criminals, and the French government publicly announced that it would enter into no relations with them. In spite of that, all the Allied governments have now offered to enter into relations with them. Now you admit that you made a slip, and you promise to correct it if only we consent to save your face and go on a wild-goose chase to Prinkipo. But for us that journey would be a recantation of our principles. That is why we are unable to make it."

The Prinkipo incident, which began in the region of high politics, ended in comedy. A number of more or less witty epigrams were coined at the expense of the plenipotentiaries, the scheme, set in a stronger light than it was meant to endure, assumed a grotesque shape, and its promoters strove to consign it as best they could to oblivion. But the Sphinx question of Russia's future remained, and the penalties for failure to solve it aright waxed more and more deterrent. The supreme arbiters had cognizance of them, had, in fact, enumerated them when proclaiming the impossibility of establishing a durable peace or a solid League of Nations as long as Russia continued to be a prey to anarchy. But even with the prizes and penalties before their eyes to entice and spur them, they proved unequal to the task of devising an intelligent policy. Fitful and incoherent, their efforts were either incapable of being realized or, when feasible, were mischievous. Thus, by degrees, they hardened the great Slav nation against the Entente.

The reader will be prepared to learn that the overtures made to the Bolsheviki kindled the anger of the patriotic Russians at home, who had been looking to the Western nations for salvation and making veritable holocausts in order to merit it. Every observer could perceive the repercussion of this sentiment in Paris, and I received ample proofs of it from Siberia. There the leaders and the population unhesitatingly turned for assistance to Japan. For this there were excellent reasons. The only government which throughout the war knew its own mind and pursued a consistent and an intelligible policy toward Russia was that of Tokio. This point is worth making at a time when Japan is regarded as a Laodicean convert to the invigorating ideas of the Western peoples, at heart a backslider and a potential schismatic. She is charged with making interest the mainspring of her action in her intercourse with other nations. The charge is true. Only a Candide would expect to see her moved by altruism and self-denial, in a company which penalizes these virtues. Community of interests is the link that binds Japan to Britain. A like bond had subsisted between her and Tsarist Russia. I helped to create it. Her statesmen, who have no taste for sonorous phraseology, did not think it necessary to give it a more fashionable name. This did not prevent the Japanese from being chivalrously loyal to their allies under the strain of powerful temptations, true to the spirit and the letter of their engagements. But although they made no pretense to lofty purpose, their political maxims differ nowise from those of the great European states, whose territorial, economic, and military interests have been religiously safeguarded by the Treaty of Versailles. True, the statesmen of Tokio shrink from the hybrid combination of two contradictions linked together by a sentimental fallacy. Their unpopularity among Anglo-Saxons is the result of speculations about their future intentions; in other words, they are being punished, as certain of the delegates at the Conference have been eulogized, not for what they actually did, but for what it is assumed they are desirous of achieving. Toward Russia they played the same game that their allies were playing there and in Europe, only more frankly and systematically. They applied the two principal maxims which lie at the root of international politics to-day—do ut des, and the nation that is capable of leading others has the right and the duty to lead them. And they established a valuable reputation for fulfilling their compacts conscientiously. Nippon, then, would have helped her Russian neighbors, and she expected to be helped by them in return. Have not the Allies, she asked, compelled Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia to pay them in cash for their emancipation?

Russians, who have no color prejudices, hit it off with the Japanese, by whom they are liked in return. That the two peoples should feel drawn to each other politically is, therefore, natural, and that they will strike up economic agreements in the future seems to many inevitable and legitimate. One such agreement was on the point of being signed between them and the anti-Bolshevists of Omsk immediately after, and in consequence of, the Allies' ill-considered invitation to Lenin and Trotzky to delegate representatives to Prinkipo. This convention, I have reason to believe, was actually drafted, and was about to be signed. And the adverse influence that suddenly made itself felt and hindered the compact came not from Russia, but from western Europe. It would be unfruitful to dwell further on this matter here, beyond recording the belief of many Russians that the zeal of the English-speaking peoples for the well-being of Siberia, where they intend to maintain troops after having withdrawn them from Europe, is the counter-move to Japan's capacity and wish to co-operate with the population of that rich country. This assumption may be groundless, but it will surprise only those who fail to note how often the flag of principle is unfurled over economic interests.

The delegates were not all discouraged by their discomfiture over the Prinkipo project. Some of them still hankered after an agreement with the Bolshevists which would warrant them in including the Russian problem among the tasks provisionally achieved. President Wilson despatched secret envoys to Moscow to strike up an accord with Lenin,[268] but although the terms which Mr. Bullitt obtained were those which had in advance been declared satisfactory, he drew back as soon as they were agreed to. And he assigned no reason for this change of attitude. Whether the brightening of the prospects of Kolchak and Denikin had modified his judgment on the question of expediency must remain a matter of conjecture. It is hardly necessary, however, to point out once more that this sudden improvisation of schemes which were abandoned again at the last moment tended to lower the not particularly high estimate set by the ethnic wards of the Anglo-Saxon peoples on the moral guidance of their self-constituted guardians.

An ardent champion of the Allied nations in France wrote: "We have never had a Russian policy which was all of one piece. We have never synthetized any but contradictory conceptions. This is so true that one may safely affirm that if Russian patriotism has been sustained by our velleities of action, Russian destructiveness has been encouraged by our velleities of desertion. We joined, so to say, both camps, and our velleities of desertion occasionally getting the upper hand of our velleities of action ... we carry out nothing."[269]

Toward Kolchak and Denikin the attitude of the Supreme Council varied considerably. It was currently reported in Paris that the Admiral had had the misfortune to arouse the displeasure of the two Conference chiefs by some casual manifestation of a frame of mind which was resented, perhaps a movement of independence, to which distance or the medium of transmission imparted a flavor of disrespect. Anyhow, the Russian leader was for some time under a cloud, which darkened the prospects of his cause. And as for Denikin, he appeared to the other great delegate as a self-advertising braggart.

These mental portraits were retouched as the fortune of war favored the pair. And their cause benefited correspondingly. To this improvement influences at work in London contributed materially. For the anti-Bolshevist currents which made themselves felt in certain state departments in that capital, where there were several irreconcilable policies, were powerful and constant. By the month of May the Conference had turned half-heartedly from Lenin and Trotzky to Kolchak and Denikin, but its mode of negotiating bore the mark peculiar to the diplomacy of the new era of "open covenants openly arrived at." The delegates in Paris communicated with the two leaders in Russia "over the heads" and without the knowledge of their authorized representatives in Paris, just as they had issued peremptory orders to "the Rumanian government at Bucharest" over the heads of its chiefs, who were actually in the French capital.

The proximate motives that determined several important decisions of the Secret Council, although of no political moment, are of sufficient psychological interest to warrant mention. They shed a light on the concreteness, directness, and simplicity of the workings of the statesmen's minds when engaged in transacting international business. For example, the particular moment for the recognition of new communities as states was fixed by wholly extrinsical circumstances. A food-distributer, for instance, or the Secretary of a Treasury, wanted a receipt for expenditure abroad from the people that benefited by it. As a document of this character presupposes the existence of a state and a government, the official dispenser of food or money was loath to go to the aid of any nation which was not a state or which lacked a properly constituted government. Hence, in some cases the Conference had to create both on the spur of the moment. Thus the reason why Finland's independence received the hall-mark of the Powers when it did was because the United States government was generously preparing to give aid to the Finns and had to get in return proper receipts signed by competent authorities representing the state.[270] Had it not been for this immediate need of valid receipts, the act of recognition might have been postponed in the same way as was the marking off of the frontiers. And like considerations led to like results in other cases. Czechoslovakia's independence was formally recognized for the same reason, as one of its leading men frankly admitted.

One of the serious worries of the Conference chiefs in their dealings with Russia was the lack of a recognized government there, qualified to sign receipts for advances of money and munitions. And as they could not resolve to accord recognition to any of the existing administrations, they hit upon the middle course, that of promoting the anti-Bolshevists to the rank of a community, not, indeed, sovereign or independent, but deserving of every kind of assistance except the despatch of Allied troops. Assistance was already being given liberally, but the necessity was felt for justifying it formally. And the two delegates went to work as though they were hatching some dark and criminal plot. Secretly despatching a message to Admiral Kolchak, they put a number of questions to him which he was not qualified to answer without first consulting his official advisers in Paris. Yet these advisers were not apprised by the Secret Council of what was being done. Nay, more, the French Foreign Office was not notified. By the merest chance I got wind of the matter and published the official message.[271] It summoned the Admiral to bind himself to convene a Constituent Assembly as soon as he arrived in Moscow; to hold free elections; to repudiate definitely the old régime and all that it implied; to recognize the independence of Poland and Finland, whose frontiers would be determined by the League of Nations; to avail himself of the advice and co-operation of the League in coming to an understanding with the border states, and to acquiesce in the decision of the Peace Conference respecting the future status of Bessarabia. Kolchak's answer was described as clear when "decipherable," and to his credit, he frankly declined to forestall the will of the Constituent Assembly respecting those border states which owed their separate existence to the initiative of the victorious governments. But the Secret Council of the Conference accepted his answer, and relied upon it as an adequate reason for continuing the assistance which they had been giving him theretofore.

About the person of Kolchak it ought to be superfluous to say more than that he is an upright citizen of energy and resolution, as patriotic as Fabricius, as disinterested and unambitious as Cincinnatus. To his credit account, which is considerable, stands his wonder-working faith in the recuperative forces of his country when its fortunes were at their lowest ebb. With buoyancy and confidence he set himself the task of rescuing his fellow-countrymen when it looked as hopeless as that of Xenophon at Cunaxa. He created an army out of nothing, induced his men by argument, suasion, and example to shake off the virus of indiscipline and sacrifice their individual judgment and will to the well-being of their fellows. He enjoined nothing upon others that he himself was not ready to undertake, and he exposed himself time and again to risks greater far than any general should deliberately incur. Whether he succeeds or fails in his arduous enterprise, Kolchak, by his preterhuman patience and sustained energy and courage, has deserved exceptionally well of his country, and could afford to ignore the current legends that depict him in the crying colors of a reactionary, even though they were accepted for the time by the most exalted among the Great Unversed in Russian affairs. One may dissent from his policy and object to some of his lieutenants and to many of his partizans, but from the single-minded, patriotic soldier one cannot withhold a large meed of praise. Kolchak's defects are mostly exaggerations of his qualities. His remarkable versatility is purchased at the price of fitfulness, his energy displays itself in spurts, and his impulsiveness impairs at times the successful execution of a plan which requires unflagging constancy. His judgment of men is sometimes at fault, but he would never hesitate to confer a high post upon any man who deserved it. He is democratic in the current sense of the word, but neither a doctrinaire nor a faddist. A disciplinarian and a magnetic personality withal, he charms as effectually as he commands his soldiers. He is enlightened enough, like the great Western world-menders in their moments of theorizing, to discountenance secrecy and hole-and-corner agreements, and, what is still more praiseworthy, he is courageous enough to practise the doctrine.

When the revolution broke out Kolchak was at Sebastopol. The telegram conveying the sensational tidings of the outbreak was kept secret by all military commanders—except himself. He unhesitatingly summoned the soldiers and sailors, apprised them of what had taken place, gave them an insight into the true meaning of the violent upheaval, and asked them to join with him in a heroic endeavor to influence the course of things, in the direction of order and consolidation. He gaged aright the significance of the revolution and the impossibility of confining it within any bounds, political, moral, or geographical. But he reasoned that a band of resolute patriots might contrive to wrest something for the country from the hands of Fate. It was with this faith and hope that he set to work, and soon his valiant army, the reclaimed provinces, and the improved Russian outlook were eloquent witnesses to his worth, whose testimony no legendary reports, however well received in the West, could weaken.

How ingrained in the plenipotentiaries was their proneness for what, for want of a better word, may be termed conspirative and circuitous action may be inferred from the record of their official and unofficial conversations and acts. When holding converse with Kolchak's authorized agents in Paris they would lay down hard conditions, which were described as immutable; and yet when communicating with the Admiral direct they would submit to him terms considerably less irksome, unknown to his Paris advisers, thus mystifying both and occasioning friction between them. In many cases the contrast between the two sets of demands was disconcerting, and in all it tended to cause misunderstandings and complicate the relations between Kolchak and his Paris agents. But he continued to give his confidence to his representatives, although they were denied that of the delegates. It would, of course, be grossly unfair to impute anything like disingenuousness to plenipotentiaries engaged upon issues of this magnitude, but it was an unfortunate coincidence that they were known to regard some of the members of the Russian Council in Paris with disfavor, and would have been glad to see them superseded. When Nansen's project to feed the starving population of Russia was first mooted, Kolchak's Ministers in Paris were approached on the subject, and the Allies' plan was propounded to them so defectively or vaguely as to give them the impression that the co-operation of the Bolshevist government was part of the program. They were also allowed to think that during the work of feeding the people the despatch of munitions and other military necessaries to Kolchak and his army would be discontinued. Naturally, the scheme, weighted with these two accompaniments, was unacceptable to Kolchak's representatives in Paris. But, strange to say, in the official notification which the plenipotentiaries telegraphed at the same time to the Admiral direct, neither of these obnoxious riders was included, so that the proposal assumed a different aspect.

Another example of these singular tactics is supplied by their pourparlers with the Admiral's delegates about the future international status of Finland, whose help was then being solicited to free Petrograd from the Bolshevist yoke. The Finns insisted on the preliminary recognition of their complete independence by the Russians. Kolchak's representatives shrank from bartering any territories which had belonged to the state on their own sole responsibility. None the less, as the subject was being theoretically threshed out in all its bearings, the members of the Russian Council in Paris inquired of the Allies whether the Finns had at least renounced their pretensions to the province of Karelia. But the spokesmen of the Conference replied elusively, giving them no assurance that the claim had been relinquished. Thereupon they naturally concluded that the Finns either still maintained their demand or else had not yet modified their former decision on the matter, and they deemed it their duty to report in this sense to their chief. Yet the plenipotentiaries, in their message on the subject to Kolchak, which was sent about the same time, assured him that the annexation of Karelia was no longer insisted upon, and that the Finns would not again put forward the claim! One hardly knows what to think of tactics like these. In their talks with the spokesmen of certain border states of Russia the official representatives of the three European Powers at the Conference employed language that gave rise to misunderstandings which may have untoward consequences in the future. One would like to believe that these misunderstandings were caused by mere slips of the tongue, which should not have been taken literally by those to whom they were addressed; but in the meanwhile they have become not only the source of high, possibly delusive, hopes, but the basis of elaborate policies. For example, Esthonian and Lettish Ministers were given to understand that they would be permitted to send diplomatic legations to Petrograd as soon as Russia was reconstituted, a mode of intercourse which presupposes the full independence of all the countries concerned. A constitution was also drawn up for Esthonia by one of the Great Powers, which started with the postulate that each people was to be its own master. Consequently, the two nations in question were warranted in looking forward to receiving that complete independence. And if such was, indeed, the intention of the Great Powers, there is nothing further to be said on the score of straightforwardness or precision. But neither in the terms submitted to Kolchak nor in those to which his Paris agents were asked to give their assent was the independence of either country as much as hinted at.[272]

These may perhaps seem trivial details, but they enable us to estimate the methods and the organizing arts of the statesmen upon whose skill in resource and tact in dealing with their fellows depended the new synthesis of international life and ethics which they were engaged in realizing. It would be superfluous to investigate the effect upon the Russians, or, indeed, upon any of the peoples represented in Paris, of the Secret Council's conspirative deliberations and circuitous procedure, which were in such strong contrast to the "open covenants openly arrived at" to which in their public speeches they paid such high tribute.

The main danger, which the Allies redoubted from failure to restore tranquillity in Russia, was that Germany might accomplish it and, owing to her many advantages, might secure a privileged position in the country and use it as a stepping-stone to material prosperity, military strength, and political ascendancy. This feat she could accomplish against considerable odds. She would achieve it easily if the Allies unwittingly helped her, as they were doing.

Unfortunately the Allied governments had not much hope of succeeding. If they had been capable of elaborating a comprehensive plan, they no longer possessed the means of executing it. But they devised none. "The fact is," one of the Conference leaders exclaimed, "we have no policy toward Russia. Neither do we possess adequate data for one."

They strove to make good this capital omission by erecting a paper wall between Germany and her great Slav neighbor. The plan was simple. The Teutons were to be compelled to disinterest themselves in the affairs of Russia, with whose destinies their own are so closely bound up. But they soon realized that such a partition is useless as a breakwater against the tidal wave of Teutondom, and Germany is still destined to play the part of Russia's steward and majordomo.

How could it be otherwise? Germany and Russia are near neighbors. Their economic relations have been continuous for ages, and the Allies have made them indispensable in the future; Russia is ear-marked as Germany's best colony. The two peoples are become interdependent. The Teuton will recognize the Slav as an ally in economics, and will pay himself politically. Who will now thwart or check this process? Russia must live, and therefore buy and sell, barter and negotiate. Can a parchment treaty hinder or invalidate her dealings? Can it prevent an admixture of politics in commercial arrangements, seeing that they are but two aspects of one and the same transaction? It is worthy of note that a question which goes to the quick of the matter was never mooted. It is this: Is it an essential element of the future ordering of the world that Germany shall play no part whatever in its progress? Is it to be assumed that she will always content herself with being treated as the incorrigible enemy of civilization? And, if not, what do all these checks and barriers amount to?

In Russia there are millions of Germans conversant with the language, laws, and customs of the people. Many of them have been settled there for generations. They are passionately attached to their race, and neither unfriendly nor useless to the country of their adoption. The trade, commerce, and industry of the European provinces are largely in their hands and in those of their forerunners and helpers, the Jews. The Russo-German and Jewish middlemen in the country have their faces ever turned toward the Fatherland. They are wont to buy and sell there. They always obtained their credit in Berlin, Dresden, or Frankfurt. They acted as commercial travelers, agents, brokers, bankers, for Russians and Germans. They are constantly going and coming between the two countries. How are these myriads to be fettered permanently and kept from eking out a livelihood in the future on the lines traced by necessity or interest in the past? The Russians, on their side, must live, and therefore buy and sell. Has the Conference or the League the right or power to dictate to them the persons or the people with whom alone they may have dealings? Can it narrow the field of Russia's political activities? Some people flatter themselves that it can. In this case the League of Nations must transform itself into an alliance for the suppression of the German race.

Burning indignation and moral reprobation were the sentiments aroused among the high-minded Allies by the infamous Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. For that mockery of a peace, even coming from an enemy, transcended the bounds of human vengeance. It was justly anathematized by all Entente peoples as the loathsome creation of a frenzied people. But shortly afterward the Entente governments themselves, their turn having come, wrought what Russians of all parties regard as a political patchwork of variegated injustice more odious far, because its authors claimed to be considered as the devoted friends of their victims and the champions of right. Whereas the Brest-Litovsk Treaty provided for a federative Slav state, with provincial diets and a federal parliament, the system substituted by the Allies consisted in carving up Russia into an ever-increasing number of separate states, some of which cannot live by themselves, in debarring the inhabitants from a voice in the matter, in creating a permanent agency for foreign intervention, and ignoring Russia's right to reparation from the common enemy. The Russians were not asked even informally to say what they thought or felt about what was being done. This province and that were successively lopped off in a lordly way by statesmen who aimed at being classed as impartial dispensers of justice and sowers of the seeds of peace, but were unacquainted with the conditions and eschewed investigation. Here, at all events, the usual symptoms of hesitancy and procrastination were absent. Swift resolve and thoroughness marked the disintegrating action by which they unwittingly prepared the battlefields of the future.

Nobody acquainted with Russian psychology imagines that the feelings of a high-souled people can be transformed by gifts of food, money, or munitions made to some of their fellow-countrymen. How little likely Russians are to barter ideal boons for material advantages may be gathered from an incident worth noting that occurred in the months of April and May, when the fall of the capital into the hands of the anti-Bolshevists was confidently expected.

At that time, as it chanced, the one thing necessary for their success against Bolshevism was the capture of Petrograd. If that city, which, despite its cosmopolitan character, still retained its importance as the center of political Russia, could be wrested from the tenacious grasp of Lenin and Trotzky, the fall of the anarchist dictators was, people held, a foregone conclusion. The friends of Kolchak accordingly pressed every lever to set the machinery in motion for the march against Peter's city. And as, of all helpers, the Finns and Esthonians were admittedly the most efficacious, conversations were begun with their leaders. They were ready to drive a bargain, but it must be a hard and lucrative one. They would march on Petrograd for a price. The principal condition which they laid down was the express and definite recognition of their complete independence within frontiers which it would be unfruitful here to discuss. The Kolchak government was ready to treat with the Finnish Cabinet, as the de facto government, and to recognize Finland's present status for what it is in international law; but as they could not give what they did not possess, their recognition must, they explained, be like their own authority, provisional. A similar reply was made to the Esthonians; to this those peoples demurred. The Russians stood firm and the negotiations fell through. It is to be supposed that when they have recovered their former status they will prove more amenable to the blandishments of the Allies than they were to the powerful bribe dangled before their eyes by the Esthonians and the Finns?

But if the improvised arrangements entailing dismemberment which the Great Powers imposed on Russia during her cataleptic trance are revised, as they may be, whenever she recovers consciousness and strength, what course will events then follow? If she seeks to regather under her wing some of the peoples whose complete independence the League of Nations was so eager to guarantee, will that body respond to the appeal of these and fly to their assistance? Russia, who has not been consulted, will not be as bound by the canons of the League, and one need not be a prophet to foretell the reluctance of Western armies to wage another war in order to prevent territories, of which some of the plenipotentiaries may have heard as little as of Teschen, becoming again integral parts of the Slav state. Europe may then see its political axis once more shifted and its outlook obscured. Thus the system of equilibrium, which was theoretically abolished by the Fourteen Points, may be re-established by the hundred and one economico-political changes which Russia's recovery will contribute to bring about.

A decade is but a twinkling in the history of a nation. Within a few years Russia may once more be united. The army that will have achieved this feat will constitute a formidable weapon in the hands of the state that wields it. As everything, even military strength, is relative, and as the armies of the rest of Europe will not be impatient to fight in the East, and will therefore count for considerably less than their numbers, there will be no real danger of an invasion. Russia is a country easy to get into, but hard to get out of, and military success against its armies there would in verity be a victory without glory, annexation, indemnities, or other appreciable gains.

It is hard to believe that the distinguished statesmen of the Conference took these eventualities fully into account before attempting to reshape amorphous Russia after their own vague ideal. But whether we assess their work by the standards of political science or of international ethics, or explain it as a series of well-meant expedients begotten by the practical logic of momentary convenience, we must confess that its gifted authors lacked a direct eye for the wayward tides of national and international movements; were, in fact, smitten by political blindness, and did the best they could in these distressing circumstances.

FOOTNOTES:

[260] From whatever angle this Russian business is viewed, the policy of the Allies, if it can be dignified with that name, seems to be a compound of weakness, ineptitude, and shilly-shally."—Cf. The Westminster Gazette, July 5, 1919.

[261] Cf. Journal des Débats, August 13, 1919. Article by M. Auguste Gauvain.

[262] There can be no doubt that the Bolshevist government under Lunatcharsky has made a point of furthering the arts, sciences, and elementary instruction. All reports from foreign travelers and from eminent Russians—one of these my university fellow-student, now perpetual secretary of the Academy—agree about this silver lining to a dark cloud.

[263] This latter fact was doubtless known to the British government, which decided as early as March to recall the British troops from northern Russia.

[264] I published the facts in The Daily Telegraph, April 21, and The Public Ledger of Philadelphia, April 10, 1919.

[265] Colonel House is said to have dissociated himself from the President on this occasion.

[266] It was sent at the end of October, 1918, and to my knowledge was not published in full.

[267] Omsk, Ekaterinodar, Archangel, and the Crimea. The last-named disappeared soon afterward.

[268] See Chapter IV "Censorship and Secrecy," p. 132.

[269] Pertinax in L'Echo de Paris, July 5, 1919.

[270] This admission was made to a distinguished member of the Diplomatic Corps.

[271] In The Daily Telegraph, June 19, 1919, and in The Public Ledger of Philadelphia.

[272] In July M. Pichon told the Esthonian delegates that France recognized the independence of their country in principle. But this declaration was not taken seriously, either by the Russians or by the French.


XI

BOLSHEVISM

What is Bolshevism? A generic term that stands for a number of things which have little in common. It varies with the countries where it appears. In Russia it is the despotism of an organized and unscrupulous group of men in a disorganized community. It might also be termed the frenzy of a few epileptics running amuck among a multitude of paralytics. It is not so much a political doctrine or a socialist theory as a psychic disease of a section of the community which cannot be cured without leaving permanent traces and perhaps modifying certain organic functions of the society affected. For some students at a distance who make abstraction from its methods—as a critic appreciating the performance of "Hamlet" might make abstraction from the part of the Prince of Denmark—it is a modification of the theory of Karl Marx, the newest contribution to latter-day social science. In Russia, at any rate, the general condition of society from which it sprang was characterized not by the advance of social science, but by a psychic disorder the germs of which, after a century of incubation, were brought to the final phase of development by the war. In its origins it is a pathological phenomenon.

Four and a half years of an unprecedented campaign which drained to exhaustion the financial and economic resources of the European belligerents upset the psychical equilibrium of large sections of their populations. Goaded by hunger and disease to lawless action, and no longer held back by legal deterrents or moral checks, they followed the instinct of self-preservation to the extent of criminal lawlessness. Familiarity with death and suffering dispelled the fear of human punishment, while numbness of the moral sense made them insensible to the less immediate restraints of a religious character. These phenomena are not unusual concomitants of protracted wars. History records numerous examples of the homecoming soldiery turning the weapons destined for the foreign foe against political parties or social classes in their own country. In other European communities for some time previously a tendency toward root-reaching and violent change was perceptible, but as the state retained its hold on the army it remained a tendency. In the case of Russia—the country where the state, more than ordinarily artificial and ill-balanced, was correspondingly weak—Fate had interpolated a blood-stained page of red and white terror in the years 1906-08. Although fitful, unorganized, and abortive, that wild splutter was one of the foretokens of the impending cataclysm, and was recognized as such by the writer of these pages. During the foregoing quarter of a century he had watched with interest the sowing of the dragon's teeth from which was one day to spring up a race of armed and frenzied men. Few observers, however, even in the Tsardom, gaged the strength or foresaw the effects of the anarchist propaganda which was being carried on suasively and perseveringly, oftentimes unwittingly, in the nursery, the school, the church, the university, and with eminent success in the army and the navy. Hence the widespread error that the Russian revolution was preceded by no such era of preparation as that of the encylopedists in France.

Recently, however, publicists have gone to the other extreme and asserted that Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, and a host of other Russian writers were apostles of the tenets which have since received the name of Bolshevism, and that it was they who prepared the Russian upheaval just as it was the authors of the "Encyclopedia" who prepared the French Revolution. In this sweeping form the statement is misleading. Russian literature during the reigns of the last three Tsars—with few exceptions, like the writings of Leskoff—was unquestionably a vehicle for the spread of revolutionary ideas. But it would be a gross exaggeration to assert that the end deliberately pursued was that form of anarchy which is known to-day as Bolshevism, or, indeed, genuine anarchy in any form. Tolstoy and Gorky may be counted among the forerunners of Bolshevism, but Dostoyevsky, whom I was privileged to know, was one of its keenest antagonists. Nor was it only anarchism that he combated. Like Leskoff, he was an inveterate enemy of political radicalism, and we university students bore him a grudge in consequence. In his masterly delineation[273] of a group of "reformers," in particular of Verkhovensky—whom psychic tendency, intellectual anarchy, and political crime bring under the category of Bolshevists—he foreshadowed the logical conclusion, and likewise the political consummation, of the corrosive doctrines which in those days were associated with the name of Bakunin. In the year 1905-06, when the upshot of the conflict between Tsarism and the revolution was still doubtful, Count Witte and I often admired the marvelous intuition of the great novelist, whose gallery of portraits in the "Devils" seemed to have become suddenly endowed with life, and to be conspiring, shooting, and bomb-throwing in the streets of Moscow, Petersburg, Odessa, and Tiflis. The seeds of social revolution sown by the novelists, essayists, and professional guides of the nation were forced by the wars of 1904 and 1914 into rapid germination.

As far back as the year 1892, in a work published over a pseudonym, the present writer described the rotten condition of the Tsardom, and ventured to foretell its speedy collapse.[274] The French historian Michelet wrote with intuition marred by exaggeration and acerbity: "A barbarous force, a law-hating world, Russia sucks and absorbs all the poison of Europe and then gives it off in greater quantity and deadlier intensity. When we admit Russia, we admit the cholera, dissolution, death. That is the meaning of Russian propaganda. Yesterday she said to us, 'I am Christianity.' To-morrow she will say, 'I am socialism.' It is the revolting idea of a demagogy without an idea, a principle, a sentiment, of a people which would march toward the west with the gait of a blind man, having lost its soul and its will and killing at random, of a terrible automaton like a dead body which can still reach and slay.

"It might commove Europe and bespatter it with blood, but that would not hinder it from plunging itself into nothingness in the abysmal ooze of definite dissolution."

Russia, then, led by domiciled aliens without a fatherland, may be truly said to have been wending steadily toward the revolutionary vortex long before the outbreak of hostilities. Her progress was continuous and perceptible. As far back as the year 1906 the late Count Witte and myself made a guess at the time-distance which the nation still had to traverse, assuming the rate of progress to be constant, before reaching the abyss. This, however, was mere guesswork, which one of the many possibilities—and in especial change in the speed-rate—might belie. In effect, events moved somewhat more quickly than we anticipated, and it was the World War and its appalling concomitants that precipitated the catastrophe.

As circumstances willed it, certain layers of the people of central Europe were also possessed by the revolutionary spirit at the close of the World War. In their case hunger, hardship, disease, and moral shock were the avenues along which it moved and reached them. This coincidence was fraught with results more impressive than serious. The governments of both these great peoples had long been the mainstays of monarchic tradition, military discipline, and the principle of authority. The Teutons, steadily pursuing an ideal which lay at the opposite pole to anarchy, had risked every worldly and well-nigh every spiritual possession to realize it. It was the hegemony of the world. This aspiration transfigured, possessed, fanaticized them. Teutondom became to them what Islam is to Mohammedans of every race, even when they shake off religion. They eschewed no means, however iniquitous, that seemed to lead to the goal. They ceased to be human in order to force Europe to become German. Offering up the elementary principles of morality on the altar of patriotism, they staked their all upon the single venture of the war. It was as the throw of a gambler playing for his soul with the Evil One. Yet the faith of these materialists waxed heroic withal, like their self-sacrifice. And in the fiery ardor of their enthusiasm, hard concrete facts were dissolved and set floating as illusions in the ambient mist. Their wishes became thoughts and their fears were dispelled as fancies. They beheld only what they yearned for, and when at last they dropped from the dizzy height of their castles in cloudland their whole world, era, and ideal was shattered. Unavailing remorse, impotent rage, spiritual and intense physical exhaustion completed their demoralization. The more harried and reckless among them became frenzied. Turning first against their rulers, then against one another, they finally started upon a work of wanton destruction relieved by no creative idea. It was at this time-point that they endeavored to join hands with their tumultuous Eastern neighbors, and that the one word "Bolshevism" connoted the revolutionary wave that swept over some of the Slav and German lands. But only for a moment. One may safely assert, as a general proposition, that the same undertaking, if the Germans and the Russians set their hands to it, becomes forthwith two separate enterprises, so different are the conceptions and methods of these two peoples. Bolshevism was almost emptied of its contents by the Germans, and little left of it but the empty shell.

Comparisons between the orgasms of collective madness which accompanied the Russian welter, on the one hand, and the French Revolution, on the other, are unfruitful and often misleading. It is true that at the outset those spasms of delirium were in both cases violent reactions against abuses grown well-nigh unbearable. It is also a fact that the revolutionists derived their preterhuman force from historic events which had either denuded those abuses of their secular protection or inspired their victims with wonder-working faith in their power to sweep them away. But after this initial stage the likeness vanishes. The French Revolution, which extinguished feudalism as a system and the nobility as a privileged class, speedily ceased to be a mere dissolvent. In its latter phases it assumed a constructive character. Incidentally it created much that was helpful in substance if not beautiful in form, and from the beginning it adopted a positive doctrine as old as Christianity, but new in its application to the political sphere. Thus, although it uprooted quantities of wheat together with the tares, its general effect was to prepare the ground for a new harvest. It had a distinctly social purpose, which it partially realized. Nor should it be forgotten that in the psychological sphere it kindled a transient outburst of quasi-religious enthusiasm among its partizans, imbued them with apostolic zeal, inspired them with a marvelous spirit of self-abnegation, and nerved their arms to far-resonant exploits. And the forces which the revolution thus set free changed many of the forms of the European world, but without reshaping it after the image of the ideal.

Has the withering blight known as Bolshevism any such redeeming traits to its credit account? The consensus of opinion down to the present moment gives an emphatic, if summary, answer in the negative. Every region over which it swept is blocked with heaps of unsightly ruins, It has depreciated all moral values. It passed like a tornado, spending its energies in demolition. Of construction hardly a trace has been discerned, even by indulgent explorers.[275] One might liken it to a so-called possession by the spirit of evil, wont of yore to use the human organs as his own for words of folly and deeds of iniquity. Bolshevism has operated uniformly as a quick solvent of the social organism. Doubtless European society in 1917 sorely needed purging by drastic means, but only a fanatic would say that it deserved annihilation.

It has been variously affirmed that the political leaven of these destructive ferments in eastern and central Europe was wholesome. Slavs and Germans, it is argued, stung by the bankruptcy of their political systems, resolved to alter them on the lines of universal suffrage and its corollaries, but were carried farther than they meant to go. This mild judgment is based on a very partial survey of the phenomena. The improvement in question was the work, not of the Bolshevists, but of their adversaries, the moderate reformers. And the political strivings of these had no organic nexus with the doctrine which emanated from the nethermost depths in which vengeful pariahs, outlaws, and benighted nihilists were floundering before suffocating in the ooze of anarchism. Neither can one discern any degree of kinship between Spartacists like Eichhorn or Lenin and moderate reformers as represented, say, by Theodor Wolff and Boris Savinkoff. The two pairs are sundered from each other by the distance that separates the social and the anti-social instinct. Those are vulgar iconoclasts, these are would-be world-builders. That the Russian, or, indeed, the German constitutional reformers should have hugged the delusion that while thrones were being hurled to the ground, and an epoch was passing away in violent convulsions, a few alterations in the electoral law would restore order and bring back normal conditions to the agonizing nations, is an instructive illustration of the blurred vision which characterizes contemporary statesmen. The Anglo-Saxon delegates at the Conference were under a similar delusion when they undertook to regenerate the world by a series of merely political changes.

No one who has followed attentively the work of the constitution-makers in Weimar can have overlooked their readiness to adopt and assimilate the positive elements of a movement which was essentially destructive. In this respect they displayed a remarkable degree of open-mindedness and receptivity. They showed themselves avid of every contribution which they could glean from any source to the work of national reorganization, and even in Teutonized Bolshevism they apparently found helpful hints of timely innovations. One may safely hazard the prediction that these adaptations, however little they may be relished, are certain to spread to the Western peoples, who will be constrained to accept them in the long run, and Germany may end by becoming the economic leader of democratic Europe. The law of politico-social interchange and assimilation underlying this phenomenon, had it been understood by the statesmen of the Entente, might have rendered them less desirous of seeing the German organism tainted with the germs of dissolution. For what Germany borrows from Bolshevism to-day western Europe will borrow from Germany to-morrow. And foremost among the new institutions which the revolution will impose upon Europe is that of the Soviets, considerably modified in form and limited in functions.

"In the conception of the Soviet system," writes the most influential Jewish-German organ in Europe, "there is assuredly something serviceable, and it behooves us to familiarize ourselves therewith. Psychologically, it rests upon the need felt by the working-man to be something more than a mere cog in the industrial mechanism. The first step would consist in conferring upon labor committees juridical functions consonant with latter-day requirements. These functions would extend beyond those exercised by the labor committees hitherto. How far they could go without rendering the industrial enterprise impossible is a matter for investigation.... This is not merely a wish of the extremists; it is a psychological requirement, and therefore it necessitates the establishment of a closer nexus between legislation and practical life which unhappily is become so complicated. And this need is not confined to the laboring class. It is universal. Therefore, what is good for the one is meet for the other."[276]

The Soviet system adapted to modern existence is one—and probably the sole—legacy of Bolshevism to the new age.

During the Peace Conference Bolshevism played a large part in the world's affairs. By some of the eminent lawgivers there it was feared as a scourge; by others it was wielded as a weapon, and by a third set it was employed as a threat. Whenever a delegate of one of the lesser states felt that he was losing ground at the Peace Table, and that his country's demands were about to be whittled down as extravagant, he would point significantly to certain "foretokens" of an outbreak of Bolshevism in his country and class them as an inevitable consequence of the nation's disappointment. Thus the representative of nearly every state which had a territorial program declared that that program must be carried out if Bolshevism was to be averted there. "This or else Bolshevism" was the peroration of many a delegate's exposé. More redoubtable than political discontent was the proselytizing activity of the leaders of the movement in Russia.

Of the two pillars of Bolshevism one is a Russian, the other a Jew, the former, Ulianoff (better known as Lenin), the brain; the other, Braunstein (called Trotzky), the arm of the sect. Trotzky is an unscrupulous despot, in whose veins flows the poison of malignity. His element is cruelty, his special gift is organizing capacity. Lenin is a Utopian, whose fanaticism, although extensive, has well-defined limits. In certain things he disagrees profoundly with Trotzky. He resembles a religious preacher in this, that he created a body of veritable disciples around himself. He might be likened to a pope with a college of international cardinals. Thus he has French, British, German, Austrian, Czech, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Japanese, Hindu, Chinese, Buryat, and many other followers, who are chiefs of proselytizing sections charged with the work of spreading the Bolshevik evangel throughout the globe, and are working hard to discharge their duties. Lenin, however, dissatisfied with the measures of success already attained, is constantly stimulating his disciples to more strenuous exertions. He shares with other sectarian chiefs who have played a prominent part in the world's history that indefinable quality which stirs emotional susceptibility and renders those who approach him more easily accessible to ideas toward which they began by manifesting repugnance. Lenin is credibly reported to have made several converts among his Western opponents.

The plenipotentiaries, during the first four months, approached Bolshevism from a single direction, unvaried by the events which it generated or the modifications which it underwent. They tested it solely by its accidental bearings on the one aim which they were intent on securing—a formal and provisional resettlement of Europe capable of being presented to their respective parliaments as a fair achievement. With its real character, its manifold corollaries, its innovating tendencies over the social, political, and ethnical domain, they were for the time being unconcerned. Without the slightest reference to any of these considerations they were ready to find a place for it in the new state system with which they hoped to endow the world. More than once they were on the point of giving it official recognition. There was no preliminary testing, sifting, or examining by these empiricists, who, finding Bolshevism on their way, and discerning no facile means of dislodging or transforming it, signified their willingness under easy conditions to hallmark and incorporate it as one of the elements of the new ordering. From the crimes laid to its charge they were prepared to make abstraction. The barbarous methods to which it owed its very existence they were willing to consign to oblivion. And it was only a freak of circumstance that hindered this embodiment of despotism from beginning one of their accepted means of rendering the world safe for democracy.

Political students outside the Conference, going farther into the matter, inquired whether there was any kernel of truth in the doctrines of Lenin, any social or political advantage in the practices of Braunstein (Trotzky), and the conclusions which they reached were negative.[277] But inquiries of this theoretical nature awakened no interest among the empiricists of the Supreme Council. For them Bolshevism meant nothing more than a group of politicians, who directed, or misdirected, but certainly represented the bulk of the Russian people, and who, if won over and gathered under the cloak of the Conference, would facilitate its task and bear witness to its triumph. This inference, drawn by keen observers from many countries and parties, is borne out by the curious admissions and abortive acts of the principal plenipotentiaries themselves.

In its milder manifestations on the social side Russian Bolshevism resembles communism, and may be described as a social revolution effected by depriving one set of people—the ruling and intelligent class—of power, property, and civil rights, putting another and less qualified section in their place, and maintaining the top-heavy structure by force ruthlessly employed. Far-reaching though this change undoubtedly is, it has no nexus with Marxism or kindred theories. Its proximate causes were many: such, for example, as the breakdown of a tyrannical system of government, state indebtedness so vast that it swallowed up private capital, the depreciation of money, and the corresponding appreciation of labor. It is fair, therefore, to say that a rise in the cost of production and the temporary substitution of one class for another mark the extent to which political forces revolutionized the social fabric. Beyond these limits they did not go. The notion had been widespread in most countries, and deep-rooted in Russia, that a political upheaval would effect a root-reaching and lasting alteration in the forces of social development. It was adopted by Lenin, a fanatic of the Robespierre type, but far superior to Robespierre in will-power, insight, resourcefulness, and sincerity, who, having seized the reins of power, made the experiment.

It is no easy matter to analyze Lenin's economic policy, because of the veil of mist that conceals so much of Russian contemporary history. Our sources are confined to the untrustworthy statements of a censored press and travelers' tales.

But it is common knowledge that the Bolshevist dictator requisitioned and "nationalized" the banks, took factories, workshops, and plants from their owners and handed them over to the workmen, deprived landed proprietors of their estates, and allowed peasants to appropriate them. It is in the matter of industry, however, that his experiment is most interesting as showing the practical value of Marxism as a policy and the ability of the Bolsheviki to deal with delicate social problems. The historic decree issued by the Moscow government on the nationalization of industry after the opening experiment had broken down contains data enough to enable one to affirm that Lenin himself judged Marxism inapplicable even to Russia, and left it where he had found it—among the ideals of a millennial future. That ukase ordered the gradual nationalization of all private industries with a capital of not less than one million rubles, but allowed the owners to enjoy the gratuitous usufruct of the concern, provided that they financed and carried it on as before. Consequently, although in theory the business was transferred to the state, in reality the capitalist retained his place and his profits as under the old system. Consequently, the principal aims of socialism, which are the distribution of the proceeds of industry among the community and the retention of a certain surplus by the state, were missed. In the Bolshevist procedure the state is wholly eliminated except for the purpose of upholding a fiction. It receives nothing from the capitalist, not even a royalty.

The Slav is a dreamer whose sense of the real is often defective. He loses himself in vague generalities and pithless abstractions. Thus, before opening a school he will spin out a theory of universal education, and then bemoan his lack of resources to realize it. True, many of the chiefs of the sect—for it is undoubtedly a sect when it is not a criminal conspiracy, and very often it is both—were not Slavs, but Jews, who, for the behoof of their kindred, dropped their Semitic names and adopted sonorous Slav substitutes. But they were most unscrupulous peculators, incapable of taking an interest in the scientific aspect of such matters, and hypnotized by the dreams of lucre which the opportunity evoked. One has only to call to mind some of the shabby transactions in which the Semitic Dictator of Hungary, Kuhn, or Cohen, and Braunstein (Trotzky) of Petrograd, took an active part. The former is said to have offered for sale the historic crown of St. Stephen of Hungary—which to him was but a plain gold headgear adorned with precious stones and a jeweled cross—to an old curiosity dealer of Munich,[278] and when solemnly protesting that he was living only for the Soviet Republic and was ready to die for it, he was actively engaged in smuggling out of Hungary into Switzerland fifty million kronen bonds, thirty-five kilograms of gold, and thirty chests filled with objects of value.[279] His colleague Szamuelly's plunder is a matter of history.

To such adventurers as those science is a drug. They are primitive beings impressible mainly to concrete motives of the barest kind. The dupes of Lenin were people of a different type. Many of them fancied that the great political clash must inevitably result in an equally great and salutary social upheaval. This assumption has not been borne out by events.

Those fanatics fell into another error; they were in a hurry, and would fain have effected their great transformation as by the waving of a magician's wand. Impatient of gradation, they scorned to traverse the distance between the point of departure and that of the goal, and by way of setting up the new social structure without delay, they rolled away all hindrances regardless of consequences. In this spirit of absolutism they abolished the services of the national debt, struck out the claims of Russia's creditors to their capital or interest, and turned the shops and factories over to labor boards. That was the initial blunder which the ukase alluded to was subsequently issued to rectify. But it was too late. The equilibrium of the forces of production had been definitely upset and could no longer be righted.

One of the basic postulates of profitable production is the equilibrium of all its essential factors—such as the laborer's wages, the cost of the machinery and the material, the administration. Bring discord into the harmony and the entire mechanism is out of gear.

The Russian workman, who is at bottom an illiterate peasant with the old roots of serfdom still clinging to him, has seldom any bowels for his neighbor and none at all for his employer. "God Himself commands us to despoil such gentry," is one of his sayings. He is in a hurry to enrich himself, and he cares about nothing else. Nor can he realize that to beggar his neighbors is to impoverish himself. Hence he always takes and never gives; as a peasant he destroys the forests, hewing trees and planting none, and robs the soil of its fertility. On analogous lines he would fain deal with the factories, exacting exorbitant wages that eat up all profit, and naïvely expecting the owner to go on paying them as though he were the trustee of a fund for enriching the greedy. The only people to profit by the system, and even they only transiently, were the manual laborers. The bulk of the skilled, intelligent, and educated artisans were held up to contempt and ostracized, or killed as an odious aristocracy. That, it has been aptly pointed out,[280] is far removed from Marxism. The Marxist doctrine postulates the adhesion of intelligent workers to the social revolution, whereas the Russian experimenters placed them in the same category as the capitalists, the aristocrats, and treated them accordingly. Another Marxist postulate not realized in Russia was that before the state could profitably proceed to nationalization the country must have been in possession of a well-organized, smooth-running industrial mechanism. And this was possible only in those lands in which capitalism had had a long and successful innings, not in the great Slav country of husbandmen.

By way of glozing over these incongruities Lenin's ukase proclaimed that the measures enacted were only provisional, and aimed at enabling Russia to realize the great transformation by degrees. But the impression conveyed by the history of the social side of Lenin's activity is that Marxism, whether as understood by its author or as interpreted and twisted by its Russian adherents, has been tried and found impracticable. One is further warranted in saying that neither the visionary workers who are moved by misdirected zeal for social improvement nor the theorists who are constantly on the lookout for new and stimulating ideas are likely to discover in Russian Bolshevism any aspect but the one alluded to above worthy of their serious consideration.

A much deeper mark was made on the history of the century by its methods.

Compared with the soul-searing horrors let loose during the Bolshevist fit of frenzy, the worst atrocities recorded of Deputy Carrier and his noyades during the French Revolution were but the freaks of compassionate human beings. In Bolshevist Russia brutality assumed forms so monstrous that the modern man of the West shrinks from conjuring up a faint picture of them in imagination. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands were done to death in hellish ways by the orders of men and of women. Eyes were gouged out, ears hacked off, arms and legs torn from the body in presence of the victims' children or wives, whose agony was thus begun before their own turn came. Men and women and infants were burned alive. Chinese executioners were specially hired to inflict the awful torture of the "thousand slices."[281] Officers had their limbs broken and were left for hours in agonies. Many victims are credibly reported to have been buried alive. History, from its earliest dawn down to the present day, has recorded nothing so profoundly revolting as the nameless cruelties in which these human fiends reveled. One gruesome picture of the less loathsome scenes enacted will live in history on a level with the noyades of Nantes. I have seen several moving descriptions of it in Russian journals. The following account is from the pen of a French marine officer:

"We have two armed cruisers outside Odessa. A few weeks ago one of them, having an investigation to make, sent a diver down to the bottom. A few minutes passed and the alarm signal was heard. He was hauled up and quickly relieved of his accoutrements. He had fainted away. When he came to, his teeth were chattering and the only articulate sounds that could be got from him were the words: 'It is horrible! It is awful!' A second diver was then lowered, with the same procedure and a like result. Finally a third was chosen, this time a sturdy lad of iron nerves, and sent down to the bottom of the sea. After the lapse of a few minutes the same thing happened as before, and the man was brought up. This time, however, there was no fainting fit to record. On the contrary, although pale with terror, he was able to state that he had beheld the sea-bed peopled with human bodies standing upright, which the swaying of the water, still sensible at this shallow depth, softly rocked as though they were monstrous algæ, their hair on end bristling vertically, and their arms raised toward the surface.... All these corpses, anchored to the bottom by the weight of stones, took on an appearance of eerie life resembling, one might say, a forest of trees moved from side to side by the wind and eager to welcome the diver come down among them.... There were, he added, old men, children numerous beyond count, so that one could but compare them to the trees of a forest."[282]

From published records it is known that the Bolshevist thugs, when tired of using the rifle, the machine-gun, the cord, and the bayonet, expedited matters by drowning their victims by hundreds in the Black Sea, in the Gulf of Finland, and in the great rivers. Submarine cemeteries was the name given to these last resting-places of some of Russia's most high-minded sons and daughters.[283] It is not in the French Revolution that those deeds of wanton destruction and revolting cruelty which are indissolubly associated with Bolshevism find a parallel, but in Chinese history, which offers a striking and curious prefiguration of the Leninist structure.[284] Toward the middle of the tenth century, when the empire was plunged in dire confusion, a mystical sect was formed there for the purpose of destroying by force every vestige of the traditional social fabric, and establishing a system of complete equality without any state organization whatever, after the manner advocated by Leo Tolstoy. Some of the dicta of these sectarians have a decidedly Bolshevist flavor. This, for example: "Society rests upon law, property, religion, and force. But law is injustice and chicane; property is robbery and extortion; religion is untruth, and force is iniquity." In those days Chinese political parties were at strife with each other, and none of them scorned any means, however brutal, to worst its adversaries, but for a long while they were divided among themselves and without a capable chief.

At last the Socialist party unexpectedly produced a leader, Wang Ngan Shen, a man of parts, who possessed the gift of drawing and swaying the multitude. Of agreeable presence, he was resourceful and unscrupulous, soon became popular, and even captivated the Emperor, Shen Tsung, who appointed him Minister. He then set about applying his tenets and realizing his dreams. Wang Ngan Shen began by making commerce and trade a state monopoly, just as Lenin had done, "in order," he explained, "to keep the poor from being devoured by the rich." The state was proclaimed the sole owner of all the wealth of the soil; agricultural overseers were despatched to each district to distribute the land among the peasants, each of these receiving as much as he and his family could cultivate. The peasant obtained also the seed, but this he was obliged to return to the state after the ingathering of the harvest. The power of the overseer went farther; it was he who determined what crops the husbandman might sow and who fixed day by day the price of every salable commodity in the district. As the state reserved to itself the right to buy all agricultural produce, it was bound in return to save up a part of the profits to be used for the benefit of the people in years of scarcity, and also at other times to be employed in works needed by the community. Wang Ngan Shen also ordained that only the wealthy should pay taxes, the proceeds of which were to be employed in relieving the wants of the poor, the old, and the unemployed. The theory was smooth and attractive.

For over thirty years those laws are said to have remained in force, at any rate on paper. To what extent they were carried out is problematical. Probably a beginning was actually made, for during Wang's tenure of office confusion was worse confounded than before, and misery more intense and widespread. The opposition to his régime increased, spread, and finally got the upper hand. Wang Ngan Shen was banished, together with those of his partizans who refused to accept the return to the old system. Such would appear to have been the first appearance of Bolshevism recorded in history.

Another less complete parallel, not to the Bolshevist theory, but to the plight of the country which it ruined, may be found in the Chinese rebellion organized in the year 1850 by a peasant[285] who, having become a Christian, fancied himself called by God to regenerate his people. He accordingly got together a band of stout-hearted fellows whom he fanaticized, disciplined, and transformed into the nucleus of a strong army to which brigands, outlaws, and malcontents of every social layer afterward flocked. They overran the Yangtse Valley, invaded twelve of the richest provinces, seized six hundred cities and towns, and put an end to twenty million people in the space of twelve years by fire, sword, and famine.[286] To this bloody expedition Hung Sew Tseuen, a master of modern euphemism, gave the name of Crusade of the Great Peace. For twelve years this "Crusade" lasted, and it might have endured much longer had it not been for the help given by outsiders. It was there that "Chinese" Gordon won his laurels and accomplished a beneficent work.

There were politicians at the Conference who argued that Russia, being in a position analogous to that of China in 1854, ought, like her, to be helped by the Great Powers. It was, they held, quite as much in the interests of Europe as in hers. But however forcible their arguments, they encountered an insurmountable obstacle in the fear entertained by the chiefs of the leading governments lest the extreme oppositional parties in their respective countries should make capital out of the move and turn them out of office. They invoked the interests of the cause of which they were the champions for declining to expose themselves to any such risk. It has been contended with warmth, and possibly with truth, that if at the outset the Great Powers had intervened they might with a comparatively small army have crushed Bolshevism and re-established order in Russia. On the other hand, it was objected that even heavy guns will not destroy ideas, and that the main ideas which supplied the revolutionary movement with vital force were too deeply rooted to have been extirpated by the most formidable foreign army. That is true. But these ideas were not especially characteristic of Bolshevism. Far from that, they were incompatible with it: the bestowal of land on the peasants, an equitable reform of the relations between workmen and employers, and the abolition of the hereditary principle in the distribution of everything that confers an unfair advantage on the individual or the class are certainly not postulates of Lenin's party. It is a tenable proposition that timely military assistance would have enabled the constructive elements of Russia to restore conditions of normal life, but the worth of timeliness was never realized by the heads of the governments who undertook to make laws for the world. They ignored the maxim that a statesman, when applying measures, must keep his eye on the clock, inasmuch as the remedy which would save a nation at one moment may hasten its ruin at another.

The expedients and counter-expedients to which the Conference had recourse in their fitful struggles with Bolshevism were so many surprises to every one concerned, and were at times redolent of comedy. But what was levity and ignorance on the part of the delegates meant death, and worse than death, to tens of thousands of their protégées. In Russia their agents zealously egged on the order-loving population to rise up against the Bolsheviki and attack their strong positions, promising them immediate military help if they succeeded. But when, these exploits having been duly achieved, the agents were asked how soon the foreign reinforcements might be expected, they replied, calling for patience. After a time the Bolsheviki assailed the temporary victors, generally defeated them, and then put a multitude of defenseless people to the sword. Deplorable incidents of this nature, which are said to have occurred several times during the spring of 1919, shook the credit of the Allies, and kindled a feeling of just resentment among all classes of Russians.

FOOTNOTES:

[273] In the Biessy (Devils).

[274] Russian Characteristics, by E.B. Lanin (Eblanin, a Russian word which means native of Dublin, Eblana).

[275] Educational reforms have been mentioned among its achievements and attributed to Lunatcharsky. That he exerted himself to spread elementary instruction must be admitted. But this progress and the effective protection and encouragement which he has undoubtedly extended to arts and sciences would seem to exhaust the list of items in the credit account of the Bolshevist régime.

[276] Frankfurter Zeitung, February 28, 1919.

[277] A succinct but interesting study of this question appeared in the Handels-Zeitung of the Berliner Tageblatt, over the signature of Dr. Felix Pinner, July 20, 1918.

[278] Cf. Bonsoir, July 29, 1919. The price was not fixed, but the minimum was specified. It was one hundred thousand kronen.

[279] Cf. Der Tag, Vienna, August 13, 1919. L'Echo de Paris, August 15, 1919.

[280] By Dr. F. Pinner, H. Vorst, and others.

[281] The condemned man is tied to a post or a cross, his mouth gagged, and the execution is made to last several hours. It usually begins with a slit on the forehead and the pulling down of the skin toward the chin. After the lapse of a certain time the nose is severed from the face. An interval follows, then an ear is lopped off, and so the devilish work goes on with long pauses. The skill of the executioner is displayed in the length of time during which the victim remains conscious.

[282] Cf. Le Figaro, February 18, 1919.

[283] I do not suggest that these crimes were ordered by Lenin. But it will not be gainsaid that neither he nor his colleagues punished the mass murderers or even protested against their crimes. Neither can it be maintained that massacres were confined to any one party.

[284] This pre-Bolshevist movement is described in an interesting study on the socialist movement and systems, down to the year 1848, by El. Luzatto. Cf. Der Bund, August 16, 1918.

[285] Hung Sew Tseuen. The rebellion lasted from 1850 to 1864.

[286] The superb city of Nankin, with its temples and porcelain towers, was destroyed.


XII

HOW BOLSHEVISM WAS FOSTERED

The Allies, then, might have solved the Bolshevist problem by making up their minds which of the two alternative politics—war against, or tolerance of, Bolshevism—they preferred, and by taking suitable action in good time. If they had handled the Russian tangle with skill and repaid a great sacrifice with a small one before it was yet too late, they might have hoped to harvest in abundant fruits in the fullness of time. But they belonged to the class of the undecided, whose members continually suffer from the absence of a middle word between yes and no, connoting what is neither positive nor negative. They let the opportunity slip. Not only did they withhold timely succor to either side, but they visited some of the most loyal Russians in western Europe with the utmost rigor of coercion laws. They hounded them down as enemies. They cooped them up in cages as though they were Teuton enemies. They encircled them with barbed wire. They kept many of them hungry and thirsty, deprived them of life's necessaries for days, and in some cases reduced the discontented—and who in their place would not be discontented?—to pick their food in dustbins among garbage and refuse. I have seen officers and men in France who had shed their blood joyfully for the Entente cause gradually converted to Bolshevism by the misdeeds of the Allied authorities. In whose interests? With what helpful results?

I watched the development of anti-Ententism among those Russians with painful interest, and in favorable conditions for observation, and I say without hesitation that rancor against the Allies burns as vehemently and intensely among the anti-Bolshevists as among their adversaries. "My country as a whole is bitterly hostile to her former allies," exclaimed an eminent Russian, "for as soon as she had rendered them inestimable services, at the cost of her political existence, they turned their backs upon her as though her agony were no affair of theirs. To-day the nation is divided on many issues. Dissensions and quarrels have riven and shattered it into shreds. But in one respect Russia is still united—in the vehemence of her sentiment toward the Allies, who first drained her life-blood and then abandoned her prostrate body to beasts of prey. Some part of the hatred engendered might have been mitigated if representatives of the provisional Russian government had been admitted to the Conference. A statesman would have insisted upon opening at least this little safety-valve. It would have helped and could not have harmed the Allies. It would have bound the Russians to them. For Russia's delegates, the men sent or empowered by Kolchak and his colleagues to represent them, would have been the exponents of a helpless community hovering between life and death. They could and would have gone far toward conciliating the world-dictators, to whose least palatable decisions they might have hesitated to offer unbending opposition. And this acquiescence, however provisional, would have tended to relieve the Allies of a sensible part of their load of responsibility. It would also have linked the Russians, loosely, perhaps, but perceptibly, to the Western Powers. It would have imparted a settled Ententophil direction to Kolchak's policy, and communicated it to the nation. In short, it might have dispelled some of the storm-clouds that are gathering in the east of Europe."

But the Allies, true to their wont of drifting, put off all decisive action, and let things slip and slide, for the Germans to put in order. There were no Russians, therefore, at the Conference, and there lies no obligation on any political group or party in the anarchist Slav state to hold to the Allies. But it would be an error to imagine that they have a white sheet of paper on which to trace their line of action and write the names of France and Britain as their future friends. They are filled with angry disgust against these two ex-Allies, and of the two the feeling against France is especially intense.[287]

It is a truism to repeat in a different form what Messrs. Lloyd George and Wilson repeatedly affirmed, but apparently without realizing what they said: that the peace which they regard as the crowning work of their lives deserves such value as it may possess from the assumption that Russia, when she recovers from her cataleptic fit, will be the ally of the Powers that have dismembered her. If this postulate should prove erroneous, Germany may form an anti-Allied league of a large number of nations which it would be invidious to enumerate here. But it is manifest that this consummation would imperil Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Jugoslavia, and sweep away the last vestiges of the peace settlement. And although it would be rash to make a forecast of the policy which new Russia will strike out, it would be impolitic to blink the conclusions toward which recent events significantly point.

In April a Russian statesman said to me: "The Allied delegates are unconsciously thrusting from them the only means by which they can still render peace durable and a fellowship of the nations possible. Unwittingly they are augmenting the forces of Bolshevism and raising political enemies against themselves. Consider how they are behaving toward us. Recently a number of Russian prisoners escaped from Germany to Holland, whereupon the Allied representatives packed them off by force and against their will to Dantzig, to be conveyed thence to Libau, where they have become recruits of the Bolshevist Red Guards. Those men might have been usefully employed in the Allied countries, to whose cause they were devoted, but so exasperated were they at their forcible removal to Libau that many of them declared that they would join the Bolshevist forces.

"Even our official representatives are seemingly included in the category of suspects. Our Minister in Peking was refused the right of sending ciphered telegrams and our chargé d'affaires in a European capital suffered the same deprivation, while the Bolshevist envoy enjoyed this diplomatic privilege. A councilor of embassy in one Allied country was refused a passport visa for another until he declared that if the refusal were upheld he would return a high order which for extraordinary services he had received from the government whose embassy was vetoing his visa. On the national festival of a certain Allied country the chargé d'affaires of Russia was the only member of the diplomatic corps who received no official invitation."

One day in January, when a crowd had gathered on the Quai d'Orsay, watching the delegates from the various countries—British, American, Italian, Japanese, Rumanian, etc.—enter the stately palace to safeguard the interests of their respective countries and legislate for the human race, a Russian officer passed, accompanied by an illiterate soldier who had seen hard service first under the Grand Duke Nicholas, and then in a Russian brigade in France. The soldier gazed wistfully at the palace, then, turning to the officer, asked, "Are they letting any of our people in there?" The officer answered, evasively: "They are thinking it over. Perhaps they will." Whereupon his attendant blurted out: "Thinking it over! What thinking is wanted? Did we not fight for them till we were mowed down like grass? Did not millions of Russian bodies cover the fields, the roads, and the camps? Did we not face the German great guns with only bayonets and sticks? Have we done too little for them? What more could we have done to be allowed in there with the others? I fought since the war began, and was twice wounded. My five brothers were called up at the same time as myself, and all five have been killed, and now the Russians are not wanted! The door is shut in our faces...."

Sooner or later Russian anarchy, like that of China, will come to an end, and the leaders charged with the reconstitution of the country, if men of knowledge, patriotism, and character, will adopt a program conducive to the well-being of the nation. To what extent, one may ask, is its welfare compatible with the status quo in eastern Europe, which the Allies, distracted by conflicting principles and fitful impulse, left or created and hope to perpetuate by means of a parchment instrument?

The zeal with which the French authorities went to work to prevent the growth of Bolshevism in their country, especially among the Russians there, is beyond dispute. Unhappily it proved inefficacious. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that it defeated its object and produced the contrary effect. For attention was so completely absorbed by the aim that no consideration remained over for the means of attaining it. A few concrete examples will bring this home to the reader. The following narratives emanate from an eminent Russian, who is devoted to the Allies.

There were scores of thousands of Russian troops in France. Most of them fought valiantly, others half-heartedly, and a few refused to fight at all. But instead of making distinctions the French authorities, moved by the instinct of self-preservation, and preferring prevention to cure, tarred them all with the same brush. "Give a dog a bad name and hang him," says the proverb, and it was exemplified in the case of the Russians, who soon came to be regarded as a tertium quid between enemies of public order and suspicious neutrals. They were profoundly mistrusted. Their officers were deprived of their authority over their own men and placed under the command of excellent French officers, who cannot be blamed for not understanding the temper of the Slavs nor for rubbing them against the grain. The privates, seeing their superiors virtually degraded, concluded that they had forfeited their claim to respect, and treated them accordingly. That gave the death-blow to discipline. The officers, most of whom were devoted heart and soul to the cause of the Allies, with which they had fondly identified their own, lost heart. After various attempts to get themselves reinstated, their feelings toward the nation, which was nowise to blame for the excessive zeal of its public servants, underwent a radical change. Blazing indignation consumed whatever affection they had originally nurtured for the French, and in many cases also for the other Allies, and they went home to communicate their animus to their countrymen. The soldiers, who now began to be taunted and vilipended as Boches, threw all discipline to the winds and, feeling every hand raised against them, resolved to raise their hands against every man. These were the beginnings of the process of "bolshevization."

This anti-Russian spirit grew intenser as time lapsed. Thousands of Russian soldiers were sent out to work for private employers, not by the War Ministry, but by the Ministry of Agriculture, under whom they were placed. They were fed and paid a wage which under normal circumstances should have contented them, for it was more than they used to receive in pre-war days in their own country. But the circumstances were not normal. Side by side with them worked Frenchmen, many of whom were unable physically to compete with the sturdy peasants from Perm and Vyatka. And when propagandists pointed out to them that the French worker was paid 100 per cent. more, they brooded over the inequality and labeled it as they were told. For overwork, too, the rate of pay was still more unequal. One result of this differential treatment was the estrangement of the two races as represented by the two classes of workmen, and the growth of mutual dislike. But there was another. When they learned, as they did in time, that the employer was selling the produce of their labor at a profit of 400 and 500 per cent., they had no hesitation about repeating the formulas suggested to them by socialist propagandists: "We are working for bloodsuckers. The bourgeois must be exterminated." In this way bitterness against the Allies and hatred of the capitalists were inculcated in tens of thousands of Russians who a few months before were honest, simple-minded peasants and well-disciplined soldiers. Many of these men, when they returned to their country, joined the Red Guards of Bolshevism with spontaneous ardor. They needed no pressing.

There was one young officer of the Guards, in particular, named G——, who belonged to a very good family and was an exceptionally cultured gentleman. Music was his recreation, and he was a virtuoso on the violin. In the war he had distinguished himself first on the Russian front and then on the French. He had given of his best, for he was grievously wounded, had his left hand paralyzed, and lost his power of playing the violin forever. He received a high decoration from the French government. For the English nation he professed and displayed great affection, and in particular he revered King George, perhaps because of his physical resemblance to the Tsar. And when King George was to visit Paris he rejoiced exceedingly at the prospect of seeing him. Orders were issued for the troops to come out and line the principal routes along which the monarch would pass. The French naturally had the best places, but the Place de l'Étoile was reserved for the Allied forces. G——, delighted, went to his superior officer and inquired where the Russians were to stand. The general did not know, but promised to ascertain. Accordingly he put the question to the French commander, who replied: "Russian troops? There is no place for any Russian troops." With tears in his eyes G—— recounted this episode, adding: "We, who fought and bled, and lost our lives or were crippled, had to swallow this humiliation, while Poles and Czechoslovaks, who had only just arrived from America in their brand-new uniforms, and had never been under fire, had places allotted to them in the pageant. Is that fair to the troops without whose exploits there would have been no Polish or Czechoslovak officers, no French victory, no triumphal entry of King George V into Paris?"

FOOTNOTE:

[287] It is right to say that during the summer months a considerable section of the anti-Bolshevists modified their view of Britain's policy, and expressed gratitude for the aid bestowed on Kolchak, Denikin, and Yudenitch, without which their armies would have collapsed.


XIII

SIDELIGHTS ON THE TREATY

From the opening of the Conference fundamental differences sprang up which split the delegates into two main parties, of which one was solicitous mainly about the resettlement of the world and its future mainstay, the League of Nations, and the other about the furtherance of national interests, which, it maintained, was equally indispensable to an enduring peace. The latter were ready to welcome the League on condition that it was utilized in the service of their national purposes, but not if it countered them. To bridge the chasm between the two was the task to which President Wilson courageously set his hand. Unluckily, by way of qualifying for the experiment, he receded from his own strong position, and having cut his moorings from one shove, failed to reach the other. His pristine idea was worthy of a world-leader; had, in fact, been entertained and advocated by some of the foremost spirits of modern times. He purposed bringing about conditions under which the pacific progress of the world might be safeguarded in a very large measure and for an indefinite time. But being very imperfectly acquainted with the concrete conditions of European and Asiatic peoples—he had never before felt the pulsation of international life—his ideas about the ways and means were hazy, and his calculations bore no real reference to the elements of the problem. Consequently, with what seemed a wide horizon and a generous ambition, his grasp was neither firm nor comprehensive enough for such a revolutionary undertaking. In no case could he make headway without the voluntary co-operation of the nations themselves, who in their own best interests might have submitted to heavy sacrifices, to which their leaders, whom he treated as true exponents of their will, refused their consent. But he scouted the notion of a world-parliament. Whenever, therefore, contemplating a particular issue, not as an independent question in itself, but as an integral part of a larger problem, he made a suggestion seemingly tending toward the ultimate goal, his motion encountered resolute opposition in the face of which he frequently retreated.

At the outset, on which so much depended, the peoples as distinguished from the governments appeared to be in general sympathy with his principal aim, and it seemed at the time that if appealed to on a clear issue they would have given him their whole-hearted support, provided always that, true to his own principles, he pressed these to the fullest extent and admitted no such invidious distinctions as privileged and unprivileged nations. This belief was confirmed by what I heard from men of mark, leaders of the labor people, and three Prime Ministers. They assured me that such an appeal would have evoked an enthusiastic response in their respective countries. Convinced that the principles laid down by the President during the last phases of the war would go far to meet the exigencies of the conjuncture, I ventured to write on one of the occasions, when neither party would yield to the other: "The very least that Mr. Wilson might now do, if the deadlock continues, is to publish to the world the desirable objects which the United States are disinterestedly, if not always wisely, striving for, and leave the judgment to the peoples concerned."[288]

But he recoiled from the venture. Perhaps it was already too late. In the judgment of many, his assent to the suppression of the problem of the freedom of the seas, however unavoidable as a tactical expedient, knelled the political world back to the unregenerate days of strategical frontiers, secret alliances, military preparations, financial burdens, and the balance of power. On that day, his grasp on the banner relaxing, it fell, to be raised, it may be, at some future time by the peoples whom he had aspired to lead. The contests which he waged after that first defeat had little prospect of success, and soon the pith and marrow of the issue completely disappeared. The utmost he could still hope for was a paper covenant—- which is a different thing from a genuine accord—to take home with him to Washington. And this his colleagues did not grudge him. They were operating with a different cast of mind upon a wholly different set of ideas. Their aims, which they pursued with no less energy and with greater perseverance than Mr. Wilson displayed, were national. Some of them implicitly took the ground that Germany, having plunged the world in war, would persist indefinitely in her nefarious machinations, and must, therefore, in the interests of general peace, be crippled militarily, financially, economically, and politically, for as long a time as possible, while her potential enemies must for the same reason be strengthened to the utmost at her expense, and that this condition of things must be upheld through the beneficent instrumentality of the League of Nations.

On these conflicting issues ceaseless contention went on from the start, yet for lack of a strong personality of sound, over-ruling judgment the contest dragged on without result. For months the demon of procrastination seemed to have possessed the souls of the principal delegates, and frustrated their professed intentions to get through the work expeditiously. Even unforeseen incidents led to dangerous delay. Every passing episode became a ground for postponing the vital issue, although each day lost increased the difficulties of achieving the principal object, which was the conclusion of peace. For example, the committee dealing with the question of reparations would reach a decision, say, that Germany must pay a certain sum, which would entail a century of strenuous effort, accompanied with stringent thrift and self-denial; while the Economic Committee decided that her supply of raw material should be restricted within such narrow limits as to put such payment wholly out of her power. And this difference of view necessitated a postponement of the whole issue. Mr. Hughes, the Premier of Australia, commenting on this shilly-shallying, said with truth:[289] "The minds of the people are grievously perturbed. The long delay, coupled with fears lest that the Peace Treaty, when it does come, should prove to be a peace unworthy, unsatisfactory, unenduring, has made the hearts of the people sick. We were told that the Peace Treaty would be ready in the coming week, but we look round and see half a world engaged in war, or preparation for war. Bolshevism is spreading with the rapidity of a prairie fire. The Allies have been forced to retreat from some of the most fertile parts of southern Russia, and Allied troops, mostly British, at Murmansk and Archangel are in grave danger of destruction. Yet we were told that peace was at hand, and that the world was safe for liberty and democracy. It is not fine phrases about peace, liberty, and making the world safe for democracy that the world wants, but deeds. The peoples of the Allied countries justifiably desire to be reassured by plain, comprehensible statements, instead of long-drawn-out negotiations and the thick veil of secrecy in which these were shrouded."

It requires an effort to believe that procrastination was raised to the level of a theory by men whose experience of political affairs was regarded as a guarantee of the soundness of their judgment. Yet it is an incontrovertible fact that dilatory tactics were seriously suggested as a policy at the Conference. It was maintained that, far from running risks by postponing a settlement, the Entente nations were, on the contrary, certain to find the ground better prepared the longer the day of reckoning was put off. Germany, they contended, had recovered temporarily from the Bolshevik fever, but the improvement was fleeting. The process of decomposition was becoming intenser day by day, although the symptoms were not always manifest. Lack of industrial production, of foreign trade and sound finances, was gnawing at the vitals of the Teuton Republic. The army of unemployed and discontented was swelling. Soon the sinister consequences of this stagnation would take the form of rebellions and revolts, followed by disintegration. And this conjunction would be the opportunity of the Entente Powers, who could then step in, present their bills, impose their restrictions, and knead the Teuton dough into any shape they relished. Then it would be feasible to prohibit the Austrian-Germans from ever entering the Republic as a federated state. In a word, the Allied governments need only command, and the Teutons would hasten to obey. It is hardly credible that men of experience in foreign politics should build upon such insecure foundations as these. It is but fair to say the Conference rejected this singular program in theory while unintentionally carrying it out.

Although everybody admitted that the liquidation of the world conflict followed by a return to normal conditions was the one thing that pressed for settlement, so intent were the plenipotentiaries on preventing wars among unborn generations that they continued to overlook the pressing needs of their contemporaries. It is at the beginning and end of an enterprise that the danger of failure is greatest, and it was the opening moves of the Allies that proved baleful to their subsequent undertakings. Germany, one would think, might have been deprived summarily of everything which was to be ultimately and justly taken from her, irrespective of its final destination. The first and most important operation being the severance of the provinces allotted to other peoples, their redistribution might safely have been left until afterward. And hardly less important was the despatch of an army to eastern Europe. Then Germany, broken in spirit, with Allied troops on both her fronts, between the two jaws of a vise, could not have said nay to the conditions. But this method presupposed a plan which unluckily did not exist. It assumed that the peace terms had been carefully considered in advance, whereas the Allies prepared for war during hostilities, and for peace during the negotiations. And they went about this in a leisurely, lackadaisical way, whereas expedition was the key to success.

As for a durable peace, involving general disarmament, it should have been outlined in a comprehensive program, which the delegates had not drawn up, and it would have become feasible only if the will to pursue it proceeded from principle, not from circumstances. In no case could it be accomplished without the knowledge and co-operation of the peoples themselves, nor within the time-limits fixed for the work of the Conference. For the abolition of war and the creation of a new ordering, like human progress, is a long process. It admits of a variety of beginnings, but one can never be sure of the end, seeing that it presupposes a radical change in the temper of the peoples, one might almost say a remodeling of human nature. It can only be the effect of a variety of causes, mainly moral, operating over a long period of time. Peace with Germany was a matter for the governments concerned; the elimination of war could only be accomplished by the peoples. The one was in the main a political problem, the other social, economical, and ethical.

Mr. Balfour asserted optimistically[290] that the work of concluding peace with Germany was a very simple matter. None the less it took the Conference over five months to arrange it. So desperately slow was the progress of the Supreme Council that on the 213th day of the Peace Conference,[291] two months after the Germans had signed the conditions, not one additional treaty had been concluded, nay, none was even ready for signature. The Italian plenipotentiary, Signor Tittoni, thereupon addressed his colleagues frankly on the subject and asked them whether they were not neglecting their primary duty, which was to conclude treaties with the various enemies who had ceased to fight in November of the previous year and were already waiting for over nine months to resume normal life, and whether the delegates were justified in seeking to discharge the functions of a supreme board for the government of all Europe. He pointed out that nobody could hope to profit by the state of disorder and paralysis for which this procrastination was answerable, the economic effects making themselves felt sooner or later in every country. He added that the cost of the war had been calculated for every month, every week, every day, and that the total impressed every one profoundly; but that nobody had thought it worth his while to count up the atrocious cost of this incredibly slow peace and of the waste of wealth caused every week and month that it dragged on. Italy, he lamented, felt this loss more keenly than her partners because her peace had not yet been concluded. He felt moved, therefore, he said, to tell them that the business of governing Europe to which the Conference had been attending all those months was not precisely the work for which it was convoked.[292]

This sharp and timely admonition was the preamble of a motion. The Conference was just then about to separate for a "well-earned holiday," during which its members might renew their spent energies and return in October to resume their labors, the peoples in the meanwhile bearing the cost in blood and substance. The Italian delegate objected to any such break and adjured them to remain at their posts. Why, he asked, should ill-starred Italy, which had already sustained so many and such painful losses, be condemned to sacrifice further enormous sums in order that the delegates who had been frittering away their time tackling irrelevant issues, and endeavoring to rule all Europe, might have a rest? Why should they interrupt the sessions before making peace with Austria, with Hungary, with Bulgaria, with Turkey, and enabling Italy to return to normal life? Why should time and opportunity be given to the Turks and Kurds for the massacre of Armenian men, women, and children? This candid reminder is said to have had a sobering effect on the versatile delegates yearning for a holiday. The situation that evoked it will arouse the passing wonder of level-headed men.

It is worth recording that such was the atmosphere of suspicion among the delegates that the motives for this holiday were believed by some to be less the need of repose than an unavowable desire to give time to the Hapsburgs to recover the Crown of St. Stephen as the first step toward seizing that of Austria.[293] The Austrians desired exemption from the obligation to make reparations and pay crushing taxes, and one of the delegates, with a leaning for that country, was not averse to the idea. As the states that arose on the ruins of the Hapsburg monarchy were not considered enemies by the Conference, it was suggested that Austria herself should enjoy the same distinction. But the Italian plenipotentiaries objected and Signor Tittoni asked, "Will it perhaps be asserted that there was no enemy against whom we Italians fought for three years and a half, losing half a million slain and incurring a debt of eighty thousand millions?"

A French journal, touching on this Austrian problem, wrote:[294] "Austria-Hungary has been killed and now France is striving to raise it to life again. But Italy is furiously opposed to everything that might lead to an understanding among the new states formed out of the old possessions of the Hapsburgs. That, in fact, is why our transalpine allies were so favorable to the union of Austria with Germany. France on her side, whose one overruling thought is to reduce her vanquished enemy to the most complete impotence, France who is afraid of being afraid, will not tolerate an Austria joined to the German Federation." Here the principle of self-determination went for nothing.

Before the Conference had sat for a month it was angrily assailed by the peoples who had hoped so much from its love of justice—Egyptians, Koreans, Irishmen from Ireland and from America, Albanians, Frenchmen from Mauritius and Syria, Moslems from Aderbeidjan, Persians, Tartars, Kirghizes, and a host of others, who have been aptly likened to the halt and maimed among the nations waiting round the diplomatic Pool of Siloam for the miracle of the moving of the waters that never came.[295]

These peoples had heard that a great and potent world-reformer had arisen whose mission it was to redress secular grievances and confer liberty upon oppressed nations, tribes, and tongues, and they sent their envoys to plead before him. And these wandered about the streets of Paris seeking the intercession of delegates, Ministers, and journalists who might obtain for them admission to the presence of the new Messiah or his apostles. But all doors were closed to them. One of the petitioners whose language was vernacular English, as he was about to shake the dust of Paris from his boots, quoting Sydney Smith, remarked: "They, too, are Pharisees. They would do the Good Samaritan, but without the oil and twopence. How has it come to pass that the Jews without an official delegate commanded the support—the militant support—of the Supreme Council, which did not hesitate to tyrannize eastern Europe for their sake?"

Involuntarily the student of politics called to mind the report written to Baron Hager[296] by one of his secret agents during the Congress of Vienna: "Public opinion continues to be unfavorable to the Congress. On all sides one hears it said that there is no harmony, that they are no longer solicitous about the re-establishment of order and justice, but are bent only on forcing one another's hands, each one grabbing as much as he can.... It is said that the Congress will end because it must, but that it will leave things more entangled than it found them.... The peoples, who in consequence of the success, the sincerity, and the noble-mindedness of this superb coalition had conceived such esteem for their leaders and such attachment to them, and now perceive how they have forgotten what they solemnly promised—justice, order, peace founded on the equilibrium and legitimacy of their possessions—will end by losing their affection and withdrawing their confidence in their principles and their promises."

Those words, written a hundred and five years ago, might have been penned any day since the month of February, 1919.

The leading motive of the policy pursued by the Supreme Council and embodied in the Treaty was aptly described at the time as the systematic protection of France against Germany. Hence the creation of the powerful barrier states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, Greater Rumania, and Greater Greece. French nationalists pleaded for further precautions more comprehensive still. Their contention was that France's economic, strategic, financial, and territorial welfare being the cornerstone of the future European edifice, every measure proposed at the Conference, whether national or general, should be considered and shaped in accordance with that, and consequently that no possibility should be accorded to Germany of rising again to a commanding position because, if she once recovered her ascendancy in any domain whatsoever, Europe would inevitably be thrust anew into the horrors of war. Territorially, therefore, the dismemberment of Germany was obligatory; the annexation of the Saar Valley, together with its six hundred thousand Teuton inhabitants, was necessary to France, and either the annexation of the left bank of the Rhine or its transformation into a detached state to be occupied and administered by the French until Germany pays the last farthing of the indemnity. Further, Austria must be deprived of the right of determining her own mode of existence and constrained to abandon the idea of becoming one of the federated states of the German Republic, and, if possible, northern Germany should be kept entirely separate from southern. The Allies should divide the Teutons in order to sway them. All Germany's other frontiers should be delimitated in a like spirit. And at the same time the work of knitting together the peoples and nations of Europe and forming them into a friendly sodality was to go forward without interruption.

"How to promote our interests in the Rhineland," wrote M. Maurice Barrès,[297] "is a life-and-death question for us. We are going to carry to the Rhine our military and, I hope, our economic frontier. The rest will follow in its own good time. The future will not fail to secure for us the acquiescence of the population of the Rhineland, who will live freely under the protection of our arms, their faces turned toward Paris."

Financially it was proposed that the Teutons should be forced to indemnify France, Belgium, and the other countries for all the damage they had inflicted upon them; to pay the entire cost of the war, as well as the pensions to widows, orphans, and the mutilated. And the military occupation of their country should be maintained until this huge debt is wholly wiped out.

A Nationalist organ,[298] in a leading article, stated with brevity and clearness the prevailing view of Germany's obligations. Here is a characteristic passage: "She is rich, has reserves derived from many years of former prosperity; she can work to produce and repair all the evil she has done, rebuild all the ruins she has accumulated, and restore all the fortunes she has destroyed, however irksome the burden." After analyzing Doctor Helfferich's report published six years ago, the article concluded, "Germany must pay; she disposes of the means because she is rich; if she refuses we must compel her without hesitation and without ruth."

As France, whose cities and towns and very soil were ruined, could not be asked to restore these places at her own expense and tax herself drastically like her allies, the Americans and British, the prior and privileged right to receive payment on her share of the indemnity should manifestly appertain to her. Her allies and associates should, it was argued, accordingly waive their money claims until hers were satisfied in full. Moreover, as France's future expenditure on her army of occupation, on the administration of her colonies and of the annexed territories, must necessarily absorb huge sums for years to come, which her citizens feel they ought not to be asked to contribute, and as her internal debt was already overwhelming, it is only meet and just that her wealthier partners should pool their war debts with hers and share their financial resources with her and all their other allies. This, it was argued, was an obvious corollary of the war alliance. Economically, too, the Germans, while permitted to resume their industrial occupations on a sufficiently large scale to enable them to earn the wherewithal to live and discharge their financial obligations, should be denied free scope to outstrip France, whose material prosperity is admittedly essential to the maintenance of general peace and the permanence of the new ordering. In this condition, it is further contended, our chivalrous ally was entitled to special consideration because of her low birth-rate, which is one of the mainsprings of her difficulties. This may permanently keep her population from rising above the level of forty million, whereas Germany, by the middle of the century, will have reached the formidable total of eighty million, so that competition between them would not be on a footing of equality. Hence the chances should be evenly balanced by the action of the Conference, to be continued by the League. Discriminating treatment was therefore a necessity. And it should be so introduced that France should be free to maintain a protective tariff, of which she had sore need for her foreign trade, without causing umbrage to her allies. For they could not gainsay that her position deserved special treatment.

Some of the Anglo-Saxon delegates took other ground, feeling unable to countenance the postulate underlying those demands, namely, that the Teuton race was to be forever anathema. They looked far enough ahead to make due allowance for a future when conditions in Europe will be very different from what they are to-day. The German race, they felt, being numerous and virile, will not die out and cannot be suppressed. And as it is also enterprising and resourceful it would be a mistake to render it permanently hostile by the Allies overstepping the bounds of justice, because in this case neither national nor general interests would be furthered. You may hinder Germany, they argued, from acquiring the hegemony of the world, but not from becoming the principal factor in European evolution. If thirty years hence the German population totals eighty million or more, will not their attitude and their sentiment toward their neighbors constitute an all-important element of European tranquillity and will not the trend of these be to a large extent the outcome of the Allies' policy of to-day? The present, therefore, is the time for the delegates to deprive that sentiment of its venomous, anti-Allied sting, not by renouncing any of their countries' rights, but by respecting those of others.

That was the reasoning of those who believed that national striving should be subordinated to the general good, and that the present time and its aspirations should be considered in strict relation to the future of the whole community of nations. They further contended that while Germany deserved to suffer condignly for the heinous crimes of unchaining the war and waging it ruthlessly, as many of her own people confessed, she should not be wholly crippled or enthralled in the hope that she would be rendered thereby impotent forever. Such hope was vain. With her waxing strength her desire of vengeance would grow, and together with it the means of wreaking it. She might yet knead Russia into such a shape as would make that Slav people a serviceable instrument of revenge, and her endeavors might conceivably extend farther than Russia. The one-sided resettlement of Europe charged with explosives of such incalculable force would frustrate the most elaborate attempts to create not only a real league of nations, but even such a rough approximation toward one as might in time and under favorable circumstances develop into a trustworthy war preventive. They concluded that a league of nations would be worse than useless if transformed into a weapon to be wielded by one group of nations against another, or as an artificial makeshift for dispensing peoples from the observance of natural laws.

At the same time all the governments of the Allies were sincere and unanimous in their desire to do everything possible to show their appreciation of France's heroism, to recognize the vastness of her sacrifices, and to pay their debt of gratitude for her services to humanity. All were actuated by a resolve to contribute in the measure of the possible to compensate her for such losses as were still reparable and to safeguard her against the recurrence of the ordeal from which she had escaped terribly scathed. The only limits they admitted to this work of reparation were furnished by the aim itself and by the means of attaining it. Thus Messrs. Wilson and Lloyd George held that to incorporate in renovated France millions or even hundreds of thousands of Germans would be to introduce into the political organism the germs of fell disease, and on this ground they firmly refused to sanction the Rhine frontier, which the French were thus obliged to relinquish. The French delegates themselves admitted that if granted it could not be held without a powerful body of international troops ever at the beck and call of the Republic, vigilantly keeping watch and ward on the banks of the Rhine and with no reasonable prospect of a term to this servitude. For the real ground of this dependence upon foreign forces is the disproportion between the populations of Germany and France and between the resources of the two nations. The ratio of the former is at present about six to four and it is growing perceptibly toward seven to four. The organizing capacity in commerce and industry is said to be even greater. If, therefore, France cannot stand alone to-day, still less could she stand alone in ten or fifteen years, and the necessity of protecting her against aggression, assuming that the German people does not become reconciled to its status of forced inferiority, would be more urgent and less practicable with the lapse of time. For, as we saw, it is largely a question of the birth-rate. And as neither the British nor the American people, deeply though they are attached to their gallant comrades in arms, would consent to this arrangement, which to them would be a burden and to the Germans a standing provocation, their representatives were forced to the conclusion that it would be the height of folly to do aught that would give the Teutons a convenient handle for a war of revenge. Let there be no annexation of territory, they said, no incorporation of unwilling German citizens. The Americans further argued that an indefinite occupation of German territory by a large body of international troops would be a direct encouragement to militarism.

The indemnities for which the French yearned, and on which their responsible financiers counted, were large. The figures employed were astronomical. Hundreds of milliards of francs were operated with by eminent publicists in an offhand manner that astonished the survivor of the expiring budgetary epoch and rejoiced the hearts of the Western taxpayers. For it was not only journalists who wrote as though a stream of wealth were to be turned into these countries to fertilize industry and commerce there and enable them to keep well ahead of their pushing competitors. Responsible Ministers likewise hall-marked these forecasts with their approval. Before the fortune of war had decided for the Allies, the finances of France had sorely embarrassed the Minister, M. Klotz, of whom his chief, M. Clemenceau, is reported to have said: "He is the only Israelite I have ever known who is out of his element when dealing with money matters." Before the armistice, M. Klotz, when talking of the complex problem and sketching the outlook, exclaimed: "If we win the war, I undertake to make both ends meet, far though they now seem apart. For I will make the Germans pay the entire cost of the war." After the armistice he repeated his promise and undertook not to levy fresh taxation.

Thus, despite fitful gleams of idealism, the atmosphere of the Paris Conclave grew heavy with interests, passions, and ambitions. Only people in blinkers could miss the fact that the elastic formulas launched and interpreted by President Wilson were being stretched to the snapping-point so as to cover two mutually incompatible policies. The chasm between his original prospects and those of his foreign associates they both conscientiously endeavored to ignore, and after a time they hit upon a tertium quid between territorial equilibrium and a sterilized league tempered by the Monroe Doctrine and a military compact. This composite resultant carried with it the concentrated evils of one of these systems and was deprived of its redeeming features by the other. At a conjuncture in the world's affairs which postulated internationalism of the loftiest kind, the delegates increased and multiplied nations and states which they deprived of sovereignty and yoked to the first-class races. National ambitions took precedence of larger interests; racial hatred was raised to its highest power. In a word, the world's state system was so oddly pieced together that only economic exhaustion followed by a speedy return to militarism could insure for it a moderate duration.

Territorial self-sufficiency, military strength, and advantageous alliances were accordingly looked to as the mainstays of the new ordering, even by those who paid lip tribute to the Wilsonian ideal. The ideal itself underwent a disfiguring change in the process of incarnation. The Italians asked how the Monroe Doctrine could be reconciled with the charter of the League of Nations, seeing that the League would be authorized to intervene in the domestic affairs of other member-states, and if necessary to despatch troops to keep Germany, Italy, and Poland in order; whereas if the United States were guilty of tyrannical aggression against Brazil, the Argentine Republic, or Mexico, the League, paralyzed by that Doctrine, must look on inactive. The Germans, alleging capital defects in the Wilsonian Covenant, which was adjusted primarily to the Allies' designs, went to Paris prepared with a substitute which, it must in fairness be admitted, was considerably superior to that of their adversaries, and incidentally fraught with greater promise to themselves.

It is superfluous to add that the continental view prevailed, but Mr. Wilson imagined that, while abandoning his principles in favor of Britain, France, and Bulgaria, he could readjust the balance by applying them with rigor to Italy and exaggerating them when dealing with Greece. He afterward communicated his reasons for this belief in a message published in Washington.[299] The alliance—he was understood to have been opposed to all partial alliances on principle—which guarantees military succor to France, he had signed, he said, in gratitude to that country, for he seriously doubted whether the American Republic could have won its freedom against Britain's opposition without the gallant and friendly aid of France. "We recently had the privilege of assisting in driving enemies, who also were enemies of the world, from her soil, but that does not pay our debt to her. Nothing can pay such a debt." His critics retorted that that is a sentimental reason which might with equal force have been urged by France and Britain in justification of their promises to Italy and Rumania, yet was rejected as irrelevant by Mr. Wilson in the name of a higher principle.

The President of the United States, it was further urged, is a historian, and history tells him that the help given to his country against England neither came from the French people nor was actuated by sympathy for the American cause. It was the vindictive act of one of those kings whose functions Mr. Wilson is endeavoring to abolish. The monarch who helped the Americans was merely utilizing a favorable opportunity for depriving with a minimum of effort his adversary of lucrative possessions. Moreover, the debt which nothing can pay was already due when in the years 1914-16 France was in imminent danger of being crushed by a ruthless enemy. But at that time Mr. Wilson owed his re-election largely to his refusal to extricate her from that peril. Instead of calling to mind the debt that can never be repaid he merely announced that he could not understand what the belligerents were fighting for and that in any case France's grateful debtor was too proud to fight. The motive which finally brought the United States into the World War may be the noblest that ever yet actuated any state, but no student of history will allow that Mr. Wilson has correctly described it.

The fact is that the French delegates and their supporters were consistent and, except in their demand for the Rhine frontier, unbending. They drew up a program and saw that it was substantially carried out. They declared themselves quite ready to accept Mr. Wilson's project, but only on condition that their own was also realized, heedless of the incompatibility of the two. And Mr. Wilson felt constrained to make their position his own, otherwise he could not have obtained the Covenant he yearned for. And yet he must have known that acquiescence in the demands put forward by M. Clemenceau would lower the practical value of his Covenant to that of a sheet of paper.

A blunt American journal, commenting on the handiwork of the Conference, gave utterance to views which while making no pretense to courtly phraseology are symptomatic of the way in which the average man thought and spoke of the Covenant which emanated from the Supreme Council. "We are convinced," it said, "that the elder statesmen of Europe, typified by Clemenceau, consider it a hoax. Clemenceau never before was so extremely bored by anything in his life as he was by the necessity of making a pious pretense in the Covenant when what he wanted was the assurance of the Triple Alliance. He got that assurance, which, along with the French watch on the Rhine, the French in the Saar Valley and in Africa, with German money going into French coffers, makes him tolerably indulgent of the altruistic rhetoricians.

"The English, the intelligent English, we know have their tongues in their cheeks. The Italians are petulant imperialists, and Japan doesn't care what happens to the League so long as Japan says what shall happen in Asia."[300]

Peace was at last signed, not on the basis of the Fourteen Points nor yet entirely on the lines of territorial equilibrium, but on those of a compromise which, missing the advantages of each, combined many of the evils of both and of others which were generated by their conjunction, and laid the foundations of the new state fabric on quick-sands. That was at bottom the view to which Italy, Rumania, and Greece gave utterance when complaining that their claims were being dealt with on the principle of self-denial, whereas those of France had been settled on the traditional basis of territorial guaranties and military alliances. Further, the Treaty failed to lay an ax to the roots of war, did, in fact, increase their number while purporting to destroy them. Far from that: germs of future conflicts not only between the late belligerents, but also between the recent Allies, were plentifully scattered and may sprout up in the fullness of time.

The Paris press expressed its satisfaction with France's share of the fruits of victory. For the provisions of the Treaty went as far as any merely political arrangement could go to check the natural inequality, numerical, economical, industrial, and financial, between the Teuton and French peoples. To many this problem seemed wholly insoluble, because its solution involved a suspension or a corrective of a law of nature. Take the birth-rate in France, for example. Before the war it had long been declining at a rate which alarmed thoughtful French patriots. And, according to official statistics, it is falling off still more rapidly to-day, whereas the increase in other countries is greater than ever before.[301] Thus, whereas in the year 1911 there were 73,599 births in the Seine Department, there were only 47,480 in 1918. Wet nurses, too, are disappearing. Of these, in the year 1911, in the same territory there were 1,363, but in 1918 only 65. The mortality among foundlings rose from 5 per cent. before the war to 40 per cent. in the year 1918.[302] M. Bertillon calculates that for France to increase merely at the same rate as other nations—not to recover the place among them which she has already lost, but only to keep her present one—she needs five hundred thousand more births than are registered at present. A statistical table which he drew up of the birth-rate of four European nations during five decades, beginning with the year 1861, is unpleasant reading[303] for the friends of that heroic and artistic people. France, containing in round numbers 40,000,000 inhabitants, ought to increase annually by 500,000. Before the war the total number of births in Germany was computed at one million nine hundred and fifty thousand, but hardly more than one million of the children born were viable.[304] The general conclusion to be drawn from these figures and from the circumstances that the falling off in the French population still goes on unchecked, is disquieting for those who desire to see the French race continue to play the leading part in continental Europe. One of the shrewdest observers in contemporary Germany—himself a distinguished Semite—commented on this decisive fact as follows:[305] "Within ten years Germany will contain seventy million inhabitants, and in the torrent of her fecundity will drown anemic and exhausted France.... The French nation is dying of exhaustion. There is no reason, however, for the world to get alarmed ... for before the French will have vanished from the earth, other races, virile and healthy, will have come to their country to take their place." That is what is actually happening, and it is impressively borne in upon the visitor to various French cities by the vast number of exotic names over houses of business and in other ways.

With this formidable obstacle, then, the three members of the Supreme Council strenuously coped by exercising to the fullest extent the power conferred on the victors over the vanquished. And the result of their combinations challenged and received the unstinted approval of all those numerous enemies of Teutondom who believe the Germans to be incapable of contributing materially to human progress, unless they are kept in leading-strings by one of the superior races. The Treaty represents the potential realization of France's dream, achieved semi-miraculously by the very statesmen on whom the Teutons were relying to dispel it. Defeated, disarmed, incapable of military resistance, and devoid of friends, Germany thought she could discern her sheet-anchor of salvation in the Wilsonian gospel, and it was the preacher of this gospel himself who implicitly characterized her salvation as more difficult than the passage of a camel through the eye of a needle. The crimes perpetrated by the Teutons were unquestionably heinous beyond words, and no punishment permitted by the human conscience is too drastic to atone for them. How long this punishment should endure, whether it should be inflicted on the entire people as well as on their leaders, and what form should be given to it, were among the questions confronting the Secret Council, and they implicitly answered them in the way we have seen.

People who consider the answer adequate and justified give as their reason that it presupposes and attains a single object—the efficacious protection of France as the sentinel of civilization against an incorrigible arch-enemy. And in this they may be right. But if you enlarge the problem till it covers the moral fellowship of nations, and if you postulate that as a safeguard of future peace and neighborliness in the world, then the outcome of the Treaty takes on a different coloring. Between France and Germany it creates a sea of bitterness which no rapturous exultation over the new ethical ordering can sweeten. The latter nation is assumed to be smitten with a fell moral disease, to which, however, the physicians of the Conference have applied no moral remedy, but only measures of coercion, mostly powerful irritants. The reformed state of Europe is consequently a state of latent war between two groups of nations, of which one is temporarily prostrate and both are naïvely exhorted to join hands and play a helpful part in an idyllic society of nations. This expectation is the delight of cynics and the despair of those serious reformers who are not interested politicians. Heretofore the most inveterate optimists in politics were the revolutionaries. But they have since been outdone by the Paris world-reformers, who tempt Providence by calling on it to accomplish by a miracle an object which they have striven hard and successfully to render impossible by the ordinary operation of cause and effect. Thus the Covenant mars the Treaty, and the Treaty the Covenant.

In Weimar and Berlin the Treaty was termed the death-sentence of Germany, not only as an empire, but as an independent political community. Henceforward her economic efforts, beyond a certain limit, will be struck with barrenness, her industry will be hindered from outstripping or overtaking that of the neighboring countries, and her population will be indirectly kept within definite bounds. For, instead of exporting manufactures, she will be obliged to export human beings, whose intellect and skill will be utilized by such rivals of her own race as vouchsafe to admit them. Already before the Conference was over they began to emigrate eastward. And those who remain at home will not be masters in their own house, for the doors will be open to various foreign commissions.

The assumption upon which the Treaty-framers proceeded is that the abominations committed by the German military and civil authorities were constructively the work of the entire nation, for whose reformation within a measurable period hope is vain. This view predominated among the ruling classes of the Entente peoples with few exceptions. If it be correct, it seems superfluous to constrain the enemy to enter the league of law-abiding nations, which is to be cemented only by voluntary adherence and by genuine attachment to liberty, right, and justice. Hence the Covenant, by being inserted in the Peace Treaty, necessarily lost its value as an eirenicon, and became subsequent to that instrument, and seems likely to be used as an anti-German safeguard. But even then its efficacy is doubtful, and manifestly so; otherwise the reformers, who at the start set out to abolish alliances as recognized causes of war, would not have ended by setting up a new Triple Alliance, which involves military, naval, and aerial establishments, and the corresponding financial burdens inseparable from these. An alliance of this character, whatever one may think of its economic and financial aspects, runs counter to the spirit of the Covenant, but was an obvious corollary of the Allies' attitude as mirrored in the Treaty. And the spirit of the Treaty destroys the letter of the Covenant. For the world is there implicitly divided into two camps—the friends and the enemies of liberty, right, and justice; and the main functions of the League as narrowed by the Treaty will be to hinder or defeat the machinations of the enemies. Moreover, the deliberate concessions made by the Conference to such agencies of the old ordering as the grouping of two or three Powers into defensive alliances bids fair to be extended in time. For the stress of circumstance is stronger than the will of man. At this rate the last state may be worse than the first.

The world situation, thus formally modified, remained essentially unchanged, and will so endure until other forces are released. The League of Nations forfeited its ideal character under the pressure of national interests, and became a coalition of victors against the vanquished. By the insertion of the Covenant in the Treaty the former became a means for the execution of the latter. For even Mr. Wilson, faced with realities and called to practical counsel, affectionately dismissed the high-souled speculative projects in which he delighted during his hours of contemplation. Although the German delegates signed the Treaty, no one can honestly say that he expects them to observe it longer than constraint presses, however solemn the obligations imposed.

In the press organ of the most numerous and powerful political party in Germany one might read in an article on the Germans in Bohemia annexed by Czechoslovakia: "Assuredly their destiny will not be determined for all time by the Versailles peace of violence. It behooves the German nation to cherish its affection for its oppressed brethren, even though it be powerless to succor them immediately. What then can it do? Italy has given it a marvelous lesson in the policy of irredentism, which she pursued in respect of the Trentino and Trieste."[306]

With the Treaty as it stands, nationalist France of this generation has reason to be satisfied. One of its framers, himself a shrewd business man and politician, publicly set forth the grounds for this satisfaction.[307] Alsace and Lorraine reunited to the metropolis, he explained, will assist France materially with an industrious population and enormous resources in the shape of mineral wealth and a fruitful soil. Germany's former colonies, Kamerun and Togoland, are become French, and will doubtless offer a vast and attractive field for the expansion and prosperity of the French population. Morocco, freed from German enterprise, can henceforth be developed by the French population alone and without let or hindrance, for the benefit of the natives and in the true sense of Mr. Wilson's humanitarian ordinances. The potash deposits, to which German agriculture largely owed its prosperity, will henceforward be utilized in the service of French agriculture. "In iron ore the wealth of France is doubled, and her productive capacity as regards pig-iron and steel immensely increased. Her production of textiles is greater than before the war by about a third."[308] In a word, a vast area of the planet inhabited by various peoples will look to the French people for everything that makes their collective life worth living.

The sole arrangement which for a time caused heart-burnings in France was that respecting the sums of money which Germany should have been made to pay to her victorious enemies. For the opinions on that subject held by the average man, and connived at or approved by the authorities, were wholly fantastic, just as were some of the expectations of other Allied states. The French people differ from their neighbors in many respects—and in a marked way in money matters. They will sacrifice their lives rather than their substance. They will leave a national debt for their children and their children's children, instead of making a resolute effort to wipe it out or lessen it by amortization. In this respect the British, the Americans, and also the Germans differ from them. These peoples tax themselves freely, create sinking funds, and make heavy sacrifices to pay off their money obligations. This habit is ingrained. The contrary system is become second nature to the French, and one cannot change a nation's habits overnight. The education of the people might, however, have been undertaken during the war with considerable chances of satisfactory results. The government might have preached the necessity of relinquishing a percentage of the war gains to the state. It was done in Britain and Germany. The amount of money earned by individuals during the hostilities was enormous. A considerable percentage of it should have been requisitioned by the state, in view of the peace requirements and of the huge indebtedness which victory or defeat must inevitably bring in its train. But no Minister had the courage necessary to brave the multitude and risk his share of popularity or tolerance. And so things were allowed to slide. The people were assured that victory would recompense their efforts, not only by positive territorial gains, but by relieving them of their new financial obligations.

That was a sinister mistake. The truth is that the French nation, if defeated, would have paid any sum demanded. That was almost an axiom. It would and could have expected no ruth. But, victorious, it looked to the enemy for the means of refunding the cost of the war. The Finance Minister—M. Klotz—often declared to private individuals that if the Allies were victorious he would have all the new national debt wiped out by the enemy, and he assured the nation that milliards enough would be extracted from Germany to balance the credit and debit accounts of the Republic. And the people naturally believed its professional expert. Thus it became a dogma that the Teuton state was to provide all the cost of the war. In that illusion the nation lived and worked and spent money freely, nay, wasted it woefully.

And yet M. Klotz should have known better. For he was supplied with definite data to go upon. In October, 1918, the French government, in doubt about the full significance of that one of Mr. Wilson's Fourteen Points which dealt with reparations, asked officially for explanations, and received from Mr. Lansing the answer by telegraph that it involved the making good by the enemy of all losses inflicted directly and lawlessly upon civilians, but none other. That surely was a plain answer and a just principle. But, in accordance with the practice of secrecy in vogue among Allied European governments, the nation was not informed of these restrictive conditions, but was allowed to hug dangerous delusions.

But the Ministers knew them, and M. Klotz was a Minister. Not only, however, did he not reveal what he knew, but he behaved as though his information was of a directly contrary tenor, and he also stated that Germany must also refund the war indemnities of 1870, capitalized down to November, 1918, and he set down the sum at fifty milliards of francs. This procedure was not what reasonably might have been expected from the leader of a heroic nation stout-hearted enough to face unpleasant facts. Some of the leading spirits in the country, despite the intensity of their feelings toward Germany, disapproved this kind of bookkeeping, but M. Klotz did not relinquish his method of keeping accounts. He drew up a bill against the Teutons for one thousand and eighty-six milliards of francs.

The Germans at the Conference maintained that if the wealth of their nation were realized and liquid, it would amount at most to four hundred milliards, but that to realize it would involve the stripping of the population of everything—of its forests, its mines, its railways, its factories, its cattle, its houses, its furniture, and its ready money. They further pleaded that the territorial clauses of the Treaty deprived them of important resources, which would reduce their solvency to a greater degree than the Allies realized. These clauses dispossessed the nation of 21 per cent. of the total crops of cereals and potatoes. A further falling off in the quantities of food produced would result from the restrictions on the importation of raw materials for the manufacture of fertilizers. Of her coal, Germany was forfeiting about one-third; three-fourths of her iron ore was also being taken away from her; her total zinc production would be cut down by over three-fifths. Add to this the enormous shortage of tonnage, machinery, and man-power, the total loss of her colonies, the shrinkage of available raw stuffs, and the depreciation of the mark.

At the Conference the Americans maintained their ground. Invoking the principle laid down by Mr. Wilson and clearly formulated by Mr. Lansing, they insisted that reparations should be claimed only for damage done to civilians directly and lawlessly. After a good deal of fencing, rendered necessary by the pledges given by European statesmen to their electors, it was decided that the criteria provided by that principle should be applied. But even with that limitation the sums claimed were huge. It was alleged by the Germans that some of the demands were for amounts that exceeded the total national wealth of the country filing the claim. And as no formula could be devised that would satisfy all the claimants, it was resolved in principle that, although Germany should be obliged to make good only certain classes of losses, the Conference would set no limits to the sums for which she would thus be liable.

At this juncture M. Loucheur suggested that a minimum sum should be demanded of the enemy, leaving the details to be settled by a commission. And this was the solution which was finally adopted.[309] It was received with protests and lamentations, which, however, soon made place for self-congratulations, official and private.

The French Minister of Finances, for example, drew a bright picture in the Chamber of the financial side of the Treaty, so far as it affected his country: "Within two years," he announced, "independently of the railway rolling stock, of agricultural materials and restitutions, we receive a part, still to be fixed, of the payment of twenty milliards of marks in gold; another share, also to be determined, of an emission of bonds amounting to forty milliard gold marks, bearing interest at the rate of 2 per cent.; a third part, to be fixed, of German shipping and dyes; seven million tons of coal annually for a period of ten years, followed by diminishing quantities during the following years; the repayment of the expenses of occupation; the right of taking over a part of Germany's interests in Russia, in particular that of obtaining the payment of pre-war debts at the pre-war rate of exchange, likewise the maintenance of such contracts as we may desire to maintain in force and the return of Alsace-Lorraine free from all incumbrances. Nor is that all. In Morocco we have the right to liquidate German property, to transfer the shares that represent Germany's interests in the Bank of Morocco, and finally the allotment under a French mandate of a portion of the German colonies free from incumbrances of any kind.... We shall receive four hundred and sixty-three milliard francs, payable in thirty-six years, without counting the restitutions which will have been effected. Nor should it be forgotten that already we have received eight milliards' worth of securities stolen from French bearers. So do not consider the Treaty as a misfortune for France."[310]

Soon after the outburst of joy with which the ingathering of the fruits of France's victory was celebrated, clouds unexpectedly drifted athwart the cerulean blue of the political horizon, and dark shadows were flung across the Allied countries. The second-and third-class nations fell out with the first-class Powers. Italy, for example, whose population is almost equal to that of her French sister, demanded compensation for the vast additions that were being made to France's extensive possessions. The grounds alleged were many. Compensation had been promised by the secret treaty. The need for it was reinforced by the rejection of Italy's claims in the Adriatic. The Italian people required, desired, and deserved a fair and fitting field for legitimate expansion. They are as numerous as the French, and have a large annual surplus population, which has to hew wood and draw water for foreign peoples. They are enterprising, industrious, thrifty, and hard workers. Their country lacks some of the necessaries of material prosperity, such as coal, iron, and cotton. Why should it not receive a territory rich in some of these products? Why should a large contingent of Italy's population have to go to the colonies of Spain, France, and Britain or to South American republics for a livelihood? The Italian press asked whether the Supreme Council was bent on fulfilling the Gospel dictum, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given...."

One of the first demands made by Italy was for the port and town of Djibouti, which is under French sway. It was rejected, curtly and emphatically. Other requests elicited plausible explanations why they could not be complied with. In a word, Italy was treated as a poor and importunate relation, and was asked to console herself with the reflection that she was working in the vineyard of idealism. In vain eminent publicists in Rome, Turin, and Milan pleaded their country's cause. Adopting the principle which Mr. Wilson had applied to France and Britain, they affirmed that even before the war France, with a larger population and fewer possessions, had shown that she was incapable of discharging the functions which she had voluntarily taken upon herself. Tunis, they alleged, owed its growth and thriving condition to Italian emigrants. With all the fresh additions to her territories, the population of the Republic would be utterly inadequate to the task. To the Supreme Council this line of reasoning was distinctly unpalatable. Nor did the Italians further their cause when, by way of giving emphatic point to their reasoning, their press quoted that eminent Frenchman, M. d'Estournelles de Constant, who wrote at that very moment: "France has too many colonies already—far more in Asia, in Africa, in America, in Oceania than she can fructify. In this way she is immobilizing territories, continents, peoples, which nominally she takes over. And it is childish and imprudent to take barren possession of them, when other states allege their power to utilize them in the general interest. By acting in this manner, France, do what she may, is placing herself in opposition to the world's interests, and to those of the League of Nations. In the long run it is a serious business. Spain, Portugal, and Holland know this to their cost. Do what she would, France was not able before the war to utilize all her immense colonial domain ... for lack of population. She will be still less able after the war...."[311]

The discussion grew dangerously animated. Epigrams were coined and sent floating in the heavily charged air. A tactless comparison was made between the French nation and a bon vivant of sixty-five who flatters himself that he can enjoy life's pleasures on the same scale as when he was only thirty. Little arrows thus barbed with biting acid often make more enduring mischief than sledge-hammer blows. Soon the estrangement between the two sister nations unhappily became wider and led to marked divergences in their respective policies, which seem fraught with grave consequences in the future.

The Italy of to-day is not the Italy of May, 1915. She now knows exactly where she stands. When she unsheathed her sword to fight against the allies of the state that declared a treaty to be but a scrap of paper, she was heartened by a solemn promise given in writing by her comrades in arms. But when she had accomplished her part of the contract, that document turned out to be little more than another scrap of paper. Thus it was one of the piquant ironies of Fate, Italian publicists said, that the people who had mostly clamored against that doctrine were indirectly helping it to triumph. Mr. Wilson, unwittingly sapping public faith in written treaties, was held up as one of the many pictures in which the Conference abounded of the delegates refuting their words by acts. The unbiased historian will readily admit that the secret treaties were profoundly immoral from the Wilsonian angle of vision, but that the only way of canceling them was by a general principle rigidly upheld and impartially applied. And this the Supreme Council would not entertain.

With her British ally, too, France had an unpleasant falling out about Eastern affairs, and in especial about Syria and Persia. There was also a demand for the retrocession by Britain of the island of Mauritius, but it was not made officially, nor is it a subject for two such nations to quarrel over. The first rift in the lute was caused by the deposition of Emir Faisal respecting the desires of the Arab population. This picturesque chief, the French press complained, had been too readily admitted to the Conference and too respectfully listened to there, whereas the Persian delegation tramped for months over the Paris streets without once obtaining a hearing. The Hedjaz, which had been independent from time immemorial, was formally recognized as a separate kingdom during the war, and the Grand Sheriff of Mecca was suddenly raised to the throne in the European sense by France and Britain. Since then he was formally recognized by the five Powers. His representatives in Paris demanded the annexation of all the countries of Arabic speech which were under Turkish domination. These included not only Mesopotamia, but also Syria, on which France had long looked with loving eyes and respecting which there existed an accord between her and Britain. The project community would represent a Pan-Arab federation of about eleven million souls, over which France would have no guardianship. And yet the written accord had never been annulled. Palestine was excluded from this Pan-Arabian federation, and Syria was to be consulted, and instead of being handed over to France, as M. Clemenceau demanded, was to be allowed to declare its own wishes without any injunctions from the Conference. Mesopotamia would be autonomous under the League of Nations, but a single mandatory was asked for by the king of the Hedjaz for the entire eleven million inhabitants.

The comments of the French press on Britain's attitude, despite their studied reserve and conventional phraseology, bordered on recrimination and hinted at a possible cooling of friendship between the two nations, and in the course of the controversy the evil-omened word "Fashoda" was pronounced. The French Temps's arguments were briefly these: The populations claimed occupy such a vast stretch of territory that the sovereignty of the Hedjaz could hardly be more than nominal and symbolical. In fact, they cover an area of one-half of the Ottoman Empire. These different provinces would, in reality, be under the domination of the Great Power which was the real creator of this new kingdom, and the monarch of the Hedjaz would be a mere stalking-horse of Britain. This, it was urged, would not be independence, but a masked protectorate, and in the name of the higher principles must be prevented. Syria must be handed over to France without consulting the population. The financial resources of the Hedjaz are utterly inadequate for the administration of such a vast state as was being compacted. Who, then, it was asked, would supply the indispensable funds? Obviously Britain, who had been providing the Emir Faisal with funds ever since his father donned the crown. If this political entity came into existence, it would generate continuous friction between France and Britain, separate comrades in arms, delight a vigilant enemy, and violate a written compact which should be sacred. For these reasons it should be rejected and Syria placed under the guardianship of France.

The Americans took the position that congruously with the high ethical principles which had guided the labors of the Conference throughout, it was incumbent on its members, instead of bartering civilized peoples like chattels, to consult them as to their own aspirations. If it were true that the Syrians were yearning to become the wards of France, there could be no reasonable objection on the part of the French delegates to agree to a plebiscite. But the French delegates declined to entertain the suggestion on the ground that Syria's longing for French guidance was a notorious fact.

After much discussion and vehement opposition on the part of the French delegates an Inter-Allied commission under Mr. Charles Crane was sent to visit the countries in dispute and to report on the leanings of their populations. After having visited forty cities and towns and more than three hundred villages, and received over fifteen hundred delegations of natives, the commission reported that the majority of the people "prefer to maintain their independence," but do not object to live under the mandatory system for fifty years provided the United States accepts the mandate. "Syria desires to become a sovereign kingdom, and most of the population supports the Emir Faisal as king.[312] The commission further ascertained that the Syrians, "who are singularly enlightened as to the policies of the United States," invoked and relied upon a Franco-British statement of policy[313] which had been distributed broadcast throughout their country, "promising complete liberation from the Turks and the establishment of free governments among the native population and recognition of these governments by France and Britain."[314]

The result of the investigation by the Inter-Allied commission reminds one of the story of the two anglers who were discussing the merits of two different sauces for the trout which one of them had caught. As they were unable to agree they decided to refer the matter to the trout, who answered: "Gentlemen, I do not wish to be eaten with any sauce. I desire to live and be free in my own element." "Ah, now you are wandering from the question," exclaimed the two, who thereupon struck up a compromise on the subject of the sauce.

The tone of this long-drawn-out controversy, especially in the press, was distinctly acrimonious. It became dangerously bitter when the French political world was apprised one day of the conclusion of a treaty between Britain and Persia as the outcome of secret negotiations between London and Teheran. And excitement grew intenser when shortly afterward the authentic text of this agreement was disclosed. In France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and the United States the press unanimously declared that Persia's international status as determined by the new diplomatic instrument could best be described by the evil-sounding words "protectorate" and the violation of the mandatory system adopted by the Conference.

This startling development shed a strong light upon the new ordering of the world and its relation to the Wilsonian gospel, complicated with secret negotiations, protectorates without mandates, and the one-sided abrogation of compacts.

Persia is one of the original members of the League of Nations,[315] and as such was entitled, the French argued, to a hearing at the Conference. She had grievances that called for redress: her neutrality had been violated, many of her subjects had been put to death, and her titles to reparation were undeniable. President Wilson, the comforter of small states and oppressed nationalities, having proclaimed that the weakest communities would command the same friendly treatment as the greatest, the Persian delegates repaired to Paris in the belief that this treatment would be accorded them. But there they were disillusioned. For them there was no admission. Whether, if they had been heard and helped by the Supreme Council, they would have contrived to exist as an independent state is a question which cannot be discussed here. The point made by the French was that on its own showing the Conference was morally bound to receive the Persian delegation. The utmost it obtained was that the Persian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Monalek, who was head of the delegation, had a private talk with President Wilson, Colonel House, and Mr. Lansing. These statesmen unhesitatingly promised to help Persia to secure full sovereign rights, or at any rate to enable her delegates to unfold their country's case and file their protests before the Conference. The delegates were comforted and felt sure of the success of their mission. They told the American plenipotentiaries that the United States would be Persia's creditor for this help and that she would invite American financiers to put her money matters in order, American engineers to develop her mining industries, and the American oil firms to examine and exploit her petrol deposits.[316] In a word, Persia would be Americanized. This naïve announcement of the rôle reserved for American benefactors in the land of the Shah might have impressed certain commercial and financial interests in the United States, but was wholly alien to the only order of motives that could properly move the American plenipotentiaries to interpose in favor of their would-be wards.

The promises made by Messrs. Wilson, House, and Lansing came to nothing. For months the Persian envoys lived in hope which was strengthened by the assurances of various members of the Conference that the intervention of Mr. Wilson would infallibly prove successful. But events belied this forecast, whereupon the head of the Persian delegation, after several months of hopes deferred, quitted France for Constantinople, and his country's position among the nations was settled in detail by the new agreement.

That position does undoubtedly resemble very closely Egypt's status before the outbreak of the World War. And Egypt's status could hardly be termed independence. Henceforward Great Britain has a strong hold on the Persian customs, the control of the waterways and carriage routes, the rights of railway construction, the oil-fields—these were ours before—the right to organize the army and direct the foreign policy of the kingdom. And it may fairly be argued that this arrangement may prove a greater blessing to the Persians than the realization of their own ambitions. That, at any rate, is my own personal belief, which for many years I have held and expressed. None the less it runs diametrically counter to the letter and the spirit of Wilsonianism, which is now seen to be a wall high enough to keep out the dwarf states, but which the giants can easily clear at a bound.

Against this violation of the new humanitarian doctrine French publicists flared up. The glaring character of the transgression revolted them, the plight of the Persians touched them, and the right of self-determination strongly appealed to them. Was it not largely for the assertion of that right that all the Allied peoples had for five years been making unheard-of sacrifices? What would become of the League of Nations if such secret and selfish doings were connived at? In a word, French sympathy for the victims of British hegemony waxed as strong as the British fellow-feeling for the Syrians, who objected to be drawn into the orbit of the French. Those sharp protests and earnest appeals, it may be noted, were the principal, perhaps the only, symptoms of tenderness for unprotected peoples which were evoked by the great ethical movement headed by the Conference.

The French further pointed out that the system of Mandates had been specially created for countries as backward and helpless as Persia was assumed to be, and that the only agency qualified to apply it was either the Supreme Council or the League of Nations. The British press answered that no such humiliating assumption about the Shah's people was being made, that the Foreign Office had distinctly disclaimed the intention of establishing a protectorate over Persia, who is, and will remain, a sovereign and independent state. But these explanations failed to convince our indignant Allies. They argued, from experience, that no trust was to be placed in those official assurances and euphemistic phrases which are generally belied by subsequent acts.[317] They further lamented that the long and secret negotiations which were going forward in Teheran while the Persian delegation was wearily and vainly waiting in Paris to be allowed to plead its country's cause before the great world-dictators was not a good example of loyalty to the new cosmic legislation. Had not Mr. Wilson proclaimed that peoples were no longer to be bartered and swapped as chattels? Here the Italians and Rumanians chimed in, reminding their kinsmen that it was the same American statesmen who in the peace conditions first presented to Count Brockdorff-Rantzau made over the German population of the Saar Valley to France at the end of fifteen years as the fair equivalent of a sum of money payable in gold, and that France at any rate had raised no objection to the barter nor to the principle at the root of it. They reasoned that if the principle might be applied to one case it should be deemed equally applicable to the other, and that the only persons or states that could with propriety demur to the Anglo-Persian arrangements were those who themselves were not benefiting by similar transactions.

At last the Paris press, laying due weight on the alliance with Britain, struck a new note. "It seems that these last Persian bargainings offer a theme for conversations between our government and that of the Allies," one influential journal wrote.[318] At once the amicable suggestion was taken up by the British press. The idea was to join the Syrian with the Persian transactions and make French concessions on the other. This compromise would compose an ugly quarrel and settle everything for the best. For France's intentions toward the people of Syria were, it was credibly asserted, to the full as disinterested and generous as those of Britain toward Persia, and if the Syrians desired an English-speaking nation rather than the French to be their mentor, it was equally true that the Persians wanted Americans rather than British to superintend and accelerate their progress in civilization. But instead of harkening to the wishes of only one it would be better to ignore those of both. By this prudent compromise all the demands of right and justice, for which both governments were earnest sticklers, would thus be amply satisfied.

Our American associates were less easily appeased. In sooth there was nothing left wherewith to appease them. Their press condemned the "protectorate" as a breach of the Covenant. Secretary Lansing let it be known[319] that the United States delegation had striven to obtain a hearing for the Persians at the Conference, but had "lost its fight." A Persian, when apprized of this utterance, said: "When the United States delegation strove to hinder Italy from annexing Fiume and obtaining the territories promised her by a secret treaty, they accomplished their aim because they refused to give way. Then they took care not to lose their fight. When they accepted a brief for the Jews and imposed a Jewish semi-state on Rumania and Poland, they were firm as the granite rock, and no amount of opposition, no future deterrents, made any impression on their will. Accordingly, they had their way. But in the cause of Persia they lost the fight, although logic, humanity, justice, and the ordinances solemnly accepted by the Great Powers were all on their side." ... One American press organ termed the Anglo-Persian accord "a coup which is a greater violation of the Wilsonian Fourteen Points than the Shantung award to Japan, as it makes the whole of Persia a mere protectorate for Britain."[320]

Generally speaking, illustrations of the meaning of non-intervention in the home affairs of other nations were numerous and somewhat perplexing. Were it not that Mr. Wilson had come to Europe for the express purpose of interpreting as well as enforcing his own doctrine, one would have been warranted in assuming that the Supreme Council was frequently travestying it. But as the President was himself one of the leading members of that Council, whose decisions were unanimous, the utmost that one can take for granted is that he strove to impose his tenets on his intractable colleagues and "lost the fight."

Here is a striking instance of what would look to the average man very like intervention in the domestic politics of another nation—well-meant and, it may be, beneficent intervention—were it not that we are assured on the highest authority that it is nothing of the sort. It was devised as an expedient for getting outside help for the capture of Petrograd by the anti-Bolshevists. The end, therefore, was good, and the means seemed effectual to those who employed them. The Kolchak-Denikin party could, it was believed, have taken possession of that capital long before, by obtaining the military co-operation of the Esthonians. But the price asked by these was the recognition of their complete independence by the non-Bolshevist government in the name of all Russia. Kolchak, to his credit, refused to pay this price, seeing that he had no powers to do so, and only a dictator would sign away the territory by usurping the requisite authority. Consequently the combined attack on Petrograd was not undertaken. The Admiral's refusal was justified by the circumstances that he was the spokesman only of a large section of the Russian people, and that a thoroughly representative assembly must be consulted on the subject previous to action being taken. The military stagnation that ensued lasted for months. Then one day the press brought the tidings that the difficulty was ingeniously overcome. This is the shape in which the intelligence was communicated to the world: "Colonel Marsh, of the British army, who is representing General Gough, organized a republic in northwest Russia at Reval, August 12th, within forty-five minutes, General Yudenitch being nominally the head of the new government, which is affiliated with the Kolchak government. Northwest Russia opposes the Esthonian government only in principle because it wants guaranties that the Esthonians will not be the stepping-stone for some big Power like Germany to control the Russian outlet through the Baltic. If the Esthonians give such guaranties, the northwestern Russians are perfectly willing to let them become an independent state."[321]

Here then was a "British colonel" who, in addition to his military duties, was, according to this account, willing and able to create an independent republic without any Supreme Council to assist him, whereas professional diplomatists and military men of other nations had been trying for months to found a Rhine republic under Dorten and had failed. Nor did he, if the newspaper report be correct, waste much time at the business. From the moment of its inception until northwestern Russia stood forth an independent state, promulgating and executing grave decisions in the sphere of international politics, only forty-five minutes are said to have elapsed. Forty-five minutes by the clock. It was almost as quick a feat as the drafting of the Covenant of Nations. Further, the resourceful statemaker forged a republic which was qualified to transfer sovereignly Russian territory to unrecognized states without consulting the nation or obtaining authority from any one. More marvelous than any other detail, however, is the circumstance that he did his work so well that it never amounted to intervention.[322]

One cannot affect surprise if the distinction between this amazing exploit of diplomatico-military prestidigitation and intermeddling in the internal affairs of another nation prove too subtle for the mental grasp of the average unpolitical individual.

It is practices like these which ultimately determine the worth of the treaties and the Covenant which Mr. Wilson was content to take back with him to Washington as the final outcome of what was to have been the most superb achievement of historic man. Of the new ethical principles, of the generous renunciation of privileges, of the righting of secular wrongs, of the respect that was to be shown for the weak, which were to have cemented the union of peoples into one pacific if not blissful family, there remained but the memory. No such bitter draught of disappointment was swallowed by the nations since the world first had a political history. Many of the resounding phrases that once foretokened a new era of peace, right, and equity were not merely emptied of their contents, but made to connote their opposites. Freedom of the seas became supremacy of the seas, which may possibly turn out to be a blessed consummation for all concerned, but should not have been smuggled in under a gross misnomer. The abolition of war means, as British and American and French generals and admirals have since told their respective fellow-citizens, thorough preparations for the next war, which are not to be confined, as heretofore, to the so-called military states, but are to extend over all Anglo-Saxondom.[323] "Open covenants openly arrived at" signify secret conclaves and conspirative deliberations carried on in impenetrable secrecy which cannot be dispensed with even after the whole business has passed into history.[324] The self-determination of peoples finds its limit in the rights of every Great Power to hold its subject nationalities in thrall on the ground that their reciprocal relations appertain to the domestic policy of the state. It means, further, the privilege of those who wield superior force to put irresistible pressure upon those who are weak, and the lever which it places in their hands for the purpose is to be known under the attractive name of the protection of minorities. Abstention from interference in the home affairs of a neighboring community is made to cover intermeddling of the most irksome and humiliating character in matters which have no nexus with international law, for if they had, the rule would be applicable to all nations. The lesser peoples must harken to injunctions of the greater states respecting their mode of treating alien immigrants and must submit to the control of foreign bodies which are ignorant of the situation and its requirements. Nor is it enough that those states should accord to the members of the Jewish and other races all the rights which their own citizens enjoy—they must go farther and invest them with special privileges, and for this purpose renounce a portion of their sovereignty. They must likewise allow their more powerful allies to dictate to them their legislation on matters of transit and foreign commerce.[325] For the Great Powers, however, this law of minorities was not written. They are above the law. Their warrant is force. In a word, force is the trump card in the political game of the future as it was in that of the past. And M. Clemenceau's reminder to the petty states at the opening of the Conference that the wielders of twelve million troops are the masters of the situation was appropriate. Thus the war which was provoked by the transformation of a solemn treaty into a scrap of paper was concluded by the presentation of two scraps of paper as a treaty and a covenant for the moral renovation of the world.

FOOTNOTES:

[288] The Daily Telegraph, March 28, 1919.

[289] In a speech delivered at a dinner given in Paris on April 19, 1919, by the Commonwealth of Australia to Australian soldiers.

[290] In March, 1919.

[291] August 19, 1919.

[292] Cf. Corriere delta Sera, August 20, 1919.

[293] Ibidem (Corriere della Sera, August 20, 1919).

[294] L'Humanité, May 21, 1919.

[295] The Nation, August 23, 1919.

[296] Chief of the Austrian police at Vienna Congress in the years 1814-15.

[297] In L'Echo de Paris, March 2,1919. Cf. The Daily Telegraph, March 4th.

[298] Le Gaulois, March 8, 1919. Cf. The Daily Telegraph, March 10th.

[299] Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 21, 1919.

[300] Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 23, 1919

[301] Report of Dr. Jacques Bertillon. Cf. L'Information, January 20, 1919.

[302] Cf. Le Matin, August 13, 1919.

[303] Excess of births over deaths (yearly average).—Cf. L'Information, January 20, 1919:

Germany Great Britain Italy France
1861-70 408,333 365,499 183,196 93,515
1871-80 511,034 431,436 191,538 64,063
1881-90 551,308 442,112 307,082 66,982
1891-1900 730,265 430,000 339,409 23,961
1901-10 866,338 484,822 369,959 46,524

[304] Professor L. Marchand. Cf. La Démocratie Nouvelle, April 26, 1919.

[305] Dr. Walter Rathenau, in a book entitled The Death of France. I have not been able to procure a copy of this book. The extracts given above are taken from a statement published by M. Brudenne in the Matin of February 16, 1919.

[306] Germania, August 11, 1919. Cf. Le Temps, September 9, 1919.

[307] M. André Tardieu in a speech delivered on August 17, 1919. Cf. Paris newspapers of following two days, and in particular New York Herald, August 19th.

[308] Cf. speech delivered by M. André Tardieu on August 17, 1919.

[309] On this subject of reparations the Journal de Genève published several interesting articles at various times, as, for example, on May 15, 1919.

[310] Speech of M. Klotz in the Chamber on September 5, 1919. Cf. L'Echo de Paris, September 6, 1919.

[311] D'Estournelles de Constant. Bulletin des Droits de l'Homme, May 15, 1919.

[312] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 24, 1919.

[313] Issued on November 9, 1918.

[314] See The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 30, 1919.

[315] An American Senator uncharitably conjectured that she received this honorable distinction in order to contribute an additional vote to the British.

[316] Cf. interview with a Persian official, published in the Paris edition of The Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1919.

[317] "Unfortunately, Mr. Lloyd George, who has stripped the Foreign Office of real power, has frequently given assurances of this nature, and his acts have always contradicted them. As a proof, his last interview with M. Clemenceau will serve." Cf. L'Echo de Paris, August 15, 1919, article by Pertinax.

[318] Le Journal des Débats, August 15, 1919.

[319] In Washington on August 16, 1919.

[320] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 19, 1919.

[321] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 24, 1919.

[322] After the above was written, a French journal, the Echo de Paris of September 19, 1919, announced that General Marsh declares that his agents acted without his instructions, but none the less it holds him responsible for this Baltic policy.

[323] Marshal Douglas Haig, Lord French, the American pacifist, Sydney Baker, Senator Chamberlain, Representative Kahn, and a host of others have been preaching universal military training. The press, too, with considerable exceptions, favors the movement. "We want a democratized army, which represents all the nation, and it can be found only in universal service.... Universal service is our best guaranty of peace." Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 22, 1919.

[324] President Wilson, when at the close of his conference with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—at the White House—asked how the United States had voted on the Japanese resolution in favor of race equality, replied: "I am not sure of being free to answer the question, because it affects a large number of points that were discussed in Paris, and in the interest of international harmony I think I had better not reply."—The Daily Mail (Paris edition), August 22, 1919.

[325] In virtue of Article LX of the Treaty with Austria.


XIV

THE TREATY WITH GERMANY

To discuss in detail the peace terms which after many months' desultory talk were finally presented to Count Brockdorff-Rantzau would transcend the scope of these pages. Like every other act of the Supreme Council, they may be viewed from one of two widely sundered angles of survey—either as the exercise by a victorious state of the power derived from victory over the vanquished enemy, or as one of the measures by which the peace of the world is to be enforced in the present and consolidated in the future. And from neither point of view can it command the approval of unbiased political students. At first the Germans, and not they alone, expected that the conditions would be based on the Fourteen Points, while many of the Allies took it for granted that they would be inspired by the resolve to cripple Teutondom for all time. And for each of these anticipations there were good formal grounds.

The only legitimate motive for interweaving the Covenant with the Treaty was to make of the latter a sort of corollary of the former and to moderate the instincts of vengeance by the promptings of higher interests. On this ground, and only on this, did the friends of far-ranging reform support Mr. Wilson in his contention that the two documents should be rendered mutually interdependent. Reparation for the damage done in violation of international law and sound guaranties against its recurrence are of the essence of every peace treaty that follows a decisive victory. But reparation is seldom this and nothing more. The lower instincts of human nature, when dominant as they are during a bloody war and in the hour of victory, generally outweigh considerations not only of right, but also of enlightened egotism, leaving justice to merge into vengeance. And the fruits are treasured wrath and a secret resolve on the part of the vanquished to pay out his victor at the first opportunity. The war-loser of to-day aims at becoming the war-winner of to-morrow. And this frame of mind is incompatible with the temper needed for an era of moral fellowship such as Mr. Wilson was supposed to be intent on establishing. Consequently, a peace treaty unmodified by the principles underlying the Covenant is necessarily a negation of the main possibilities of a society of nations based upon right and a decisive argument against joining together the two instruments.

The other kind of peace which Mr. Wilson was believed to have had at heart consisted not merely in the liquidation of the war, but in the uprooting of its permanent causes, in the renunciation by the various nations of sanguinary conflicts as a means of determining rival claims, and in such an amicable rearrangement of international relations as would keep such disputes from growing into dangerous quarrels. Right, or as near an approximation to it as is attainable, would then take the place of violence, whereby military guaranties would become not only superfluous, but indicative of a spirit irreconcilable with the main purpose of the League. Each nation would be entitled to equal opportunity within the limits assigned to it by nature and widened by its own mental and moral capacities. Thus permanently to forbid a numerous, growing, and territorially cramped nation to possess overseas colonies for its superfluous population while overburdening others with possessions which they are unable to utilize, would constitute a negation of one of the basic principles of the new ordering.

Those were the grounds which seemed to warrant the belief that the Treaty would be not only formally, but substantially and in its spirit an integral, part of the general settlement based on the Fourteen Points.

This anticipation turned out to be a delusion. Wilsonianism proved to be a very different system from that of the Fourteen Points, and its author played the part not only of an interpreter of his tenets, but also of a sort of political pope alone competent to annul the force of laws binding on all those whom he should refuse to dispense from their observance. He had to do with patriotic politicians permeated with the old ideas, desirous of providing in the peace terms for the next war and striving to secure the maximum of advantage over the foe presumptive, by dismembering his territory, depriving him of colonies, making him dependent on others for his supplies of raw stuffs, and artificially checking his natural growth. Nearly all of them had principles to invoke in favor of their claims and some had nothing else. And it was these tendencies which Mr. Wilson sought to combine with the ethical ideals to be incarnated in the Society of Nations. Now this was an impossible synthesis. The spirit of vindictiveness—for that was well represented at the Conference—was to merge and lose itself in an outflow of magnanimity; precautions against a hated enemy were to be interwoven with implicit confidence in his generosity; a military occupation would provide against a sudden onslaught, while an approach to disarmament would bear witness to the absence of suspicion. Thus Poland would discharge the function of France's ally against the Teutons in the east, but her frontiers were to leave her inefficiently protected against their future attacks from the west. Germany was dismembered, yet she was credited with self-discipline and generosity enough to steel her against the temptation to profit by the opportunity of joining together again what France had dissevered. The League of Nations was to be based upon mutual confidence and good fellowship, yet one of its most powerful future members was so distrusted as to be declared permanently unworthy to possess any overseas colonies. Germany's territory in the Saar Valley is admittedly inhabited by Germans, yet for fifteen years there is to be a foreign administration there, and at the end of it the people are to be asked whether they would like to cut the bonds that link them with their own state and place themselves under French sway, so that a premium is offered for French immigration into the Saar Valley.

Those are a few of the consequences of the mixture of the two irreconcilable principles.

That Germany richly deserved her punishment cannot be gainsaid. Her crime was without precedent. Some of its most sinister consequences are irremediable. Whole sections of her people are still unconscious not only of the magnitude, but of the criminal character, of their misdeeds. None the less there is a future to be provided for, and one of the safest provisions is to influence the potential enemy's will for evil if his power cannot be paralyzed. And this the Treaty failed to do.

The Germans, when they learned the conditions, discussed them angrily, and the keynote was refusal to sign the document. The financial clauses were stigmatized as masked slavery. The press urged that during the war less than one-tenth of France's territory had been occupied by their countrymen and that even of this only a fragment was in the zone of combat. The entire wealth of France, they alleged, had been estimated before the war at from three hundred and fifty milliard to four hundred milliard francs, consequently for the devastated provinces hardly more than one-twentieth of that sum could fairly be demanded as reparation, whereas the claim set forth was incomparably more. They objected to the loss of their colonies because the justification alleged—that they were disqualified to administer them because of their former cruelties toward the natives—was groundless, as the Allies themselves had admitted implicitly by offering them the right of pre-emption in the case of the Portuguese and other overseas possessions on the very eve of the war.

But the most telling objections turned upon the clauses that dealt with the Saar Valley. Its population is entirely German, yet the treaty-makers provided for its occupation by the French for a term of fifteen years and its transference to them if, after that term, the German government was unable to pay a certain sum in gold for the coal mines it contained. If that sum were not forthcoming the population and the district were to be handed over to France for all time, even though the former should vote unanimously for reunion with Germany. Count Brockdorff-Rantzau remarked in his note on the Treaty "that in the history of modern times there is no other example of a civilized Power obliging a state to abandon its people to foreign domination as an equivalent for a cash payment." One of the most influential press organs complained that the Treaty "bartered German men, women, and children for coal; subjected some districts with a thoroughly German population to an obligatory plebiscite[326] under interested supervision; severed others without any consultation from the Fatherland; delivered over the proceeds of German industry to the greed of foreign capitalists for an indefinite period; ... spread over the whole country a network of alien commissions to be paid by the German nation; withdrew streams, rivers, railways, the air service, numerous industrial establishments, the entire economic system, from the sovereignty of the German state by means either of internationalization or financial control; conferred on foreign inspectors rights such as only the satraps of absolute monarchs in former ages were empowered to exercise; in a word, they put an end to the existence of the German nation as such. Germany would become a colony of white slaves...."[327]

Fortunately for the Allies, the reproach of exchanging human beings for coal was seen by their leaders to be so damaging that they modified the odious clause that warranted it. Even the comments of the friendly neutral press were extremely pungent. They found fault with the Treaty on grounds which, unhappily, cannot be reasoned away. "Why dissimulate it?" writes the foremost of these journals; "this peace is not what we were led to expect. It dislodges the old dangers, but creates new ones. Alsace and Lorraine are, it is true, no longer in German hands, but ... irredentism has only changed its camp. In 1914 Germany put her faith in force because she herself wielded it. But crushed down under a peace which appears to violate the promises made to her, a peace which in her heart of hearts she will never accept, she will turn toward force anew. It will stand out as the great misfortune of this Treaty that it has tainted the victory with a moral blight and caused the course of the German revolution to swerve.... The fundamental error of the instrument lies in the circumstance that it is a compromise between two incompatible frames of mind. It was feasible to restore peace to Europe by pulling down Germany definitely. But in order to accomplish this it would have been necessary to crush a people of seventy millions and to incapacitate them from rising to their feet again. Peace could also have been secured by the sole force of right. But in this case Germany would have had to be treated so considerately as to leave her no grievance to brood over. M. Clemenceau hindered Mr. Wilson from displaying sufficient generosity to get the moral peace, and Mr. Wilson on his side prevented M. Clemenceau from exercising severity enough to secure the material peace. And so the result, which it was easy to foresee, is a régime devoid of the real guaranties of durability."[328]

The judge of the French syndicalists was still more severe. "The Versailles peace," exclaimed M. Verfeuil, "is worse than the peace of Brest-Litovsk ... annexations, economic servitudes, overwhelming indemnities, and a caricature of the Society of Nations—these constitute the balance of the new policy,"[329] The Deputy Marcel Cachin said: "The Allied armies fought to make this war the last. They fought for a just and lasting peace, but none of these boons has been bestowed on us. We are confronted with the failure of the policy of the one man in whom our party had put its confidence—President Wilson. The peace conditions ... are inacceptable from various points of view, financial, territorial, economic, social, and human."[330]

It is in this Treaty far more than in the Covenant that the principles to which Mr. Wilson at first committed himself are in decisive issue. True, he was wont after every surrender he made during the Conference to invoke the Covenant and its concrete realization—the League of Nations—as the corrective which would set everything right in the future. But the fact can hardly be blinked that it is the Treaty and its effects that impress their character on the Covenant and not the other way round. As an eminent Swiss professor observed: "No league of nations would have hindered the Belgian people in 1830 from separating from Holland. Can the future League of Nations hinder Germany from reconstituting its geographical unity? Can it hinder the Germans of Bohemia from smiting the Czech? Can it prevent the Magyars, who at present are scattered, from working for their reunion?"[331]

These potential disturbances are so many dangers to France. For if war should break out in eastern Europe, is it to be supposed that the United States, the British colonies, or even Britain herself will send troops to take part in it? Hardly. Suppose, for instance, that the Austrians, who ardently desire to be merged in Germany, proclaim their union with her, as I am convinced they will one day, does any statesman believe that democratic America will despatch troops to coerce them back? If the Germans of Bohemia secede from the Czechoslovaks or the Croats from the Serbs, will British armies cross the sea to uphold the union which those peoples repudiate? And in the name of which of the Fourteen Points would they undertake the task? That of self-determination? France's interests, and hers alone, would be affected by such changes. And France would be left to fight single-handed. For what?

It is interesting to note how the conditions imposed upon Germany were appreciated by an influential body of Mr. Wilson's American partizans who had pinned their faith to his Fourteen Points. Their view is expressed by their press organ as follows:[332]

"France remains the strongest Power on the Continent. With her military establishment intact she faces a Germany without a general staff, without conscription, without universal military training, with a strictly limited amount of light artillery, with no air service, no fleet, with no domestic basis in raw materials for armament manufacture, with her whole western border fifty kilometers east of the Rhine demilitarized. On top of this France has a system of military alliances with the new states that touch Germany. On top of this she secured permanent representation in the Council of the League, from which Germany is excluded. On top of that economic terms which, while they cannot be fulfilled, do cripple the industrial life of her neighbor. With such a balance of forces France demands for herself a form of protection which neither Belgium, nor Poland, nor Czechoslovakia, nor Italy is granted."

FOOTNOTES:

[326] One of the three districts of Schleswig. A curious phenomenon was this zeal of the Supreme Council for Denmark's interests, as compared with Denmark's refusal to profit by it, the champions of self-determination urging the Danes to demand a district, as Danish, which the Danes knew to be German!

[327] Das Berliner Tageblatt, June 4, 1919.

[328] Le Journal de Genève, June 24, 1919.

[329] Cf. L'Echo de Paris, May 12, 1919.

[330] Ibidem.

[331] In a monograph entitled Plus Jamais.

[332] Cf. The New Republic, August 13, 1919, p. 43.


XV

THE TREATY WITH BULGARIA

Among all the strange products of the many-sided outbursts of the leading delegates' reconstructive activity, the Treaty with Bulgaria stands out in bold relief. It reveals the high-water mark reached by those secret, elusive, and decisive influences which swayed so many of the mysterious decisions adopted by the Conference. As Bulgaria disposed of an abundant source of those influences, her chastisement partakes of some of the characteristics of a reward. Not only did she not fare as the treacherous enemy that she showed herself, but she emerged from the ordeal much better off than several of the victorious states. Unlike Serbia, Rumania, France, and Belgium, she escaped the horrors of a foreign invasion and she possessed and fructified all her resources down to the day when the armistice was concluded. Her peasant population made huge profits during the campaign and her armies despoiled Serbia, Rumania, and Greek Macedonia and sent home enormous booty. In a word, she is richer and more prosperous than before she entered the arena against her protectors and former allies.

For, owing to the intercession of her powerful friends, she was treated with a degree of indulgence which, although expected by all who were initiated into the secrets of "open diplomacy," scandalized those who were anxious that at least some simulacrum of justice should be maintained. Germany was forced to sign a blank check which her enemies will one day fill in. Austria was reduced to the status of a parasite living on the bounty of the Great Powers and denied the right of self-determination. Even France, exhausted by five years' superhuman efforts, beholds with alarm her financial future entirely dependent upon the ability or inability of Germany to pay the damages to which she was condemned.

But the Prussia of the Balkans, owing to the intercession of influential anonymous friends, had no such consequences to deplore. Although she contracted heavy debts toward Germany, she was relieved of the effort to pay them. Her financial obligations were first transferred[333] to the Allies and then magnanimously wiped out by these, who then limited all her liabilities for reparations to two and a quarter milliard francs. An Inter-Allied commission in Sofia is to find and return the loot to its lawful owners, but it is to charge no indemnity for the damage done. Nor will it contain representatives of the states whose property the Bulgars abstracted. Serbia is allowed neither indemnity nor reparation. She is to receive a share which the Treaty neglected to fix of the two and a quarter milliard francs on a date which has also been left undetermined. She is not even to get back the herds of cattle of which the Bulgars robbed her. The lawgivers in Paris considered that justice would be met by obliging the Bulgars to restore 28,000 head of cattle in lieu of the 3,200,000 driven off, so that even if the ill-starred Serbs should identify, say, one million more, they would have no right to enforce their claim.[334]

Nor is that the only disconcerting detail in the Treaty. The Supreme Council, which sanctioned the military occupation of a part of Germany as a guaranty for the fulfilment of the peace conditions, dispenses Bulgaria from any such irksome conditions. Bulgaria's good faith appeared sufficient to the politicians who drafted the instrument. "For reasons which one hardly dares touch upon," writes an eminent French publicist,[335] "several of the Powers that constitute the famous world areopagus count on the future co-operation of Bulgaria. We shrink in dismay from the perspective thus opened to our gaze."[336]

The territorial changes which the Prussia of the Balkans was condemned to undergo are neither very considerable nor unjust. Rumania receives no Bulgarian territory, the frontiers of 1913 remaining unaltered. Serbia nets some on grounds which cannot be called in question, and a large part of Thrace which is inhabited, not by Bulgars, but mainly by Greeks and Turks, was taken from Bulgaria, but allotted to no state in particular. The upshot of the Treaty, as it appeared to most of the leading publicists on the Continent of Europe, was to leave Bulgaria, whose cruelty and destructiveness are described by official and unofficial reports as unparalleled, in a position of economic superiority to Serbia, Greece, and Rumania. And in the Inter-Allied commission Bulgaria is to have a representative, while Serbia, Greece, and Rumania, a part of whose stolen property the commission has to recover, will have none.

A comparison between the indulgence lavished upon Bulgaria and the severity displayed toward Rumania is calculated to disconcert the stanchest friends of the Supreme Council. The Rumanian government, in a dignified note to the Conference, explained its refusal to sign the Treaty with Austria by enumerating a series of facts which amount to a scathing condemnation of the work of the Supreme Council. On the one hand the Council pleaded the engagements entered into between Japan and her European allies as a cogent motive for handing over Shantung to Japan. For treaties must be respected. And the argument is sound. On the other hand, they were bound by a similar treaty[337] to give Rumania the whole Banat, the Rumanian districts of Hungary and the Bukovina as far as the river Pruth. But at the Conference they repudiated this engagement. In 1916 they stipulated that if Rumania entered the war they would co-operate with ample military forces. They failed to redeem their promise. And they further undertook that "Rumania shall have the same rights as the Allies in the peace preliminaries and negotiations and also in discussing the issues which shall be laid before the Peace Conference for its decisions." Yet, as we saw, she was denied these rights, and her delegates were not informed of the subjects under discussion nor allowed to see the terms of peace, which were in the hands of the enemies, and were only twice admitted to the presence of the Supreme Council.

It has been observed in various countries and by the Allied and the neutral press that between the German view about the sacredness of treaties and that of the Supreme Council there is no substantial difference.[338] Comments of this nature are all the more distressing that they cannot be thrust aside as calumnious. Again it will not be denied that Rumania rendered inestimable services to the Allies. She sacrificed three hundred thousand of her sons to their cause. Her soil was invaded and her property stolen or ruined. Yet she has been deprived of part of her sovereignty by the Allies to whom she gave this help. The Supreme Council, not content with her law conferring equal rights on all her citizens, to whatever race or religion they may belong, ordered her to submit to the direction of a foreign board in everything concerning her minorities and demanded from her a promise of obedience in advance to their future decrees respecting her policy in matters of international trade and transit. These stipulations constitute a noteworthy curtailment of her sovereignty.

That any set of public men should be carried by extrinsical motives thus far away from justice, fair play, and good faith would be a misfortune under any circumstances, but that at a conjuncture like the present it should befall the men who set up as the moral guides of mankind and wield the power to loosen the fabric of society is indeed a dire disaster.

FOOTNOTES:

[333] In June, 1919.

[334] The comments on these terms, published by M. Gauvain in the Journal des Débats (September 20, 1919), are well worth reading.

[335] M. Auguste Gauvain.

[336] Le Journal des Débats, September 20, 1919.

[337] Concluded in the year 1916.

[338] Cf. The Daily Mail (Paris edition), September 21, 1919.


XVI

THE COVENANT AND MINORITIES

In Mr. Wilson's scheme for the establishment of a society of nations there was nothing new but his pledge to have it realized. And that pledge has still to be redeemed under conditions which he himself has made much more unfavorable than they were. The idea itself—floating in the political atmosphere for ages—has come to seem less vague and unattainable since the days of Kant. The only heads of states who had set themselves to embody it in institutions before President Wilson took it up not only disappointed the peoples who believed in them, but discredited the idea itself.

That a merely mechanical organization such as the American statesman seems to have had in mind, formed by parliamentary politicians deliberating in secret, could bind nations and peoples together in moral fellowship, is conceivable in the abstract. But if we turn to the reality, we shall find that in that direction nothing durable can be effected without a radical change in the ideas, aspirations, and temper of the leaders who speak for the nations to-day, and, indeed, in those of large sections of the nations themselves. For to organize society on those unfamiliar lines is to modify some of the deepest-rooted instincts of human nature. And that cannot be achieved overnight, certainly not in the span of thirty minutes, which sufficed for the drafting of the Covenant. The bulk of mankind might not need to be converted, but whole classes must first be educated, and in some countries re-educated, which is perhaps still more difficult. Mental and moral training must complement and reinforce each other, and each political unit be brought to realize that the interests of the vaster community take precedence over those of any part of it. And to impress these novel views upon the peoples of the world takes time.

An indispensable condition of success is that the compact binding the members together must be entered into by the peoples, not merely by their governments. For it is upon the masses that the burden of the war lies heaviest. It is the bulk of the population that supplies the soldiers, the money, and the work for the belligerent states, and endures the hardships and makes the sacrifices requisite to sustain it. Therefore, the peoples are primarily interested in the abolition of the old ordering and the forging of the new. Moreover, as latter-day campaigns are waged with all the resources of the warring peoples, and as the possession of certain of these resources is often both the cause of the conflict and the objective of the aggressor, it follows that no mere political enactments will meet contemporary requirements. An association of nations renouncing the sword as a means of settling disputes must also reduce as far as possible the surface over which friction with its neighbors is likely to take place. And nowadays most of that surface is economic. The possession of raw materials is a more potent attraction than territorial aggrandizement. Indeed, the latter is coveted mainly as a means of securing or safeguarding the former. On these and other grounds, in drawing up a charter for a society of nations, the political aspect should play but a subsidiary part. In Paris it was the only aspect that counted for anything.

A parliament of peoples, then, is the only organ that can impart viability to a society of nations worthy of the name. By joining the Covenant with the Peace Treaty, and turning the former into an instrument for the execution of the latter, thus subordinating the ideal to the egotistical, Mr. Wilson deprived his plan of its sole justification, and for the time being buried it. The philosopher Lichtenberg[339] wrote, "One man brings forth a thought, another holds it over the baptismal font, the third begets offspring with it, the fourth stands at its deathbed, and the fifth buries it." Mr. Wilson has discharged the functions of gravedigger to the idea of a pacific society of nations, just as Lenin has done to the system of Marxism, the only difference being that Marxism is as dead as a door-nail, whereas the society of nations may rise again.

It was open, then, to the three principal delegates to insure the peace of the world by moral means or by force. Having eschewed the former by adopting the doctrines of Monroe, abandoning the freedom of the seas, and by according to France strategic frontiers and other privileges of the militarist order, they might have enlarged and systematized these concessions to expediency and forged an alliance of the three states or of two, and undertaken to keep peace on the planet against all marplots. I wrote at the time: "The delegates are becoming conscious of the existence of a ready-made league of nations in the shape of the Anglo-Saxon states, which, together with France, might hinder wars, promote good-fellowship, remold human destinies; and they are delighted thus to possess solid foundations on which a noble edifice can be raised in the fullness of time. Tribunals will be created, with full powers to adjudge disputes; facilities will be accorded to litigious states, and even an obligation will be imposed to invoke their arbitration. And the sum total of these reforms will be known to contemporary annals as an inchoate League of Nations. The delegates are already modestly disavowing the intention of realizing the ideal in all its parts. That must be left to coming generations; but what with the exhaustion of the peoples, their aversion from warfare, and the material obstacles to the renewal of hostilities in the near future, it is calculated that the peace will not soon be violated. Whether more salient results will be attained or attempted by the Conference nobody can foretell."[340]

This expedient, even had it been deliberately conceived and skilfully wrought out, would not have been an adequate solution of the world's difficulties, nor would it have commended itself to all the states concerned. But it would at least have been a temporary makeshift capable of being transmuted under favorable circumstances into something less material and more durable. But the amateur world-reformers could not make up their minds to choose either alternative. And the result is one of the most lamentable failures recorded in human history.

I placed my own opinion on record at the time as frankly as the censorship which still existed for me would permit. I wrote: "What every delegate with sound political instinct will ask himself is, whether the League of Nations will eliminate wars in future, and, if not, he will feel conscientiously bound to adopt other relatively sure means of providing against them, and these consist of alliances, strategic frontiers, and the permanent disablement of the potential enemy. On one or other of these alternative lines the resettlement must be devised. To combine them would be ruinous. Now of what practical use is a league of nations devoid of supernational forces and faced by a numerous, virile, and united race, smarting under a sense of injustice, thirsting for the opportunities for development denied to it, but granted to nations which it despises as inferior? Would a league of nations combine militarily against the gradual encroachments or sudden aggression of that Power against its weaker neighbors? Nobody is authorized to answer this question affirmatively. To-day the Powers cannot agree to intervene against Bolshevism, which they deem a scourge of the world, nor can they agree to tolerate it.

"In these circumstances, what compelling motives can be laid before those delegates who are asked to dispense with strategic frontiers and rely upon a league of nations for their defense? Take France's outlook. Peace once concluded, she will be confronted with a secular enemy who numbers some seventy millions to her forty-five millions. In ten years the disproportion will be still greater. Discontented Russia is almost certain to be taken in hand by Germany, befriended, reorganized, exploited, and enlisted as an ally."[341]

Conscious of these reefs and shoals, the French government, which was at first contemptuous of the Wilsonian scheme, discerned the use it might be put to as a military safeguard, and sought to convert it into that. "The French," wrote a Francophil English journal published in Paris, "would like the League to maintain what may be called a permanent military general staff. The duties of this organization would be to keep a hawklike eye on the misdemeanors, actual or threatened, of any state or group of states, and to be empowered with authority to call into instant action a great international military force for the frustration or suppression of such aggression. The French have frankly in mind the possibility that an unrepentant and unregenerate Germany is the most likely menace not only to the security of France, but to the peace of the world in general."[342]

And other states cherished analogous hopes. The spirit of right and justice was to be evoked like the spirit that served Aladdin, and to be compelled to enter the service of nationalism and militarism, and accomplish the task of armies.

The paramount Powers prescribed the sacrifices of sovereignty which membership of the League necessitated, and forthwith dispensed themselves from making them. The United States government maintained its Monroe Doctrine for America—nay, it went farther and identified its interests with the Hay doctrine for the Far East.[343] It decided to construct a powerful navy for the defense of these political assets, and to give the youth of the country a semi-military training.[344] Defense presupposes attack. War, therefore, is not excluded—nay, it is admitted by the world-reformers, and preparations for it are indispensable. Equally so are the burdens of taxation. But if liberty of defense be one of the rights of two or three Powers, by what law is it confined to them and denied to the others? Why should the other communities be constrained to remain open to attack? Surely they, too, deserve to live and thrive, and make the most of their opportunities. Now if in lieu of a misnamed League of Nations we had an Anglo-Saxon board for the better government of the world, these unequal weights and measures would be intelligible on the principle that special obligations and responsibilities warrant exceptional rights. But no such plea can be advanced under an arrangement professing to be a society of free nations. All that can with truth be said is what M. Clemenceau told the delegates of the lesser states at the opening of the Conference—that the three great belligerents represent twelve million soldiers and that their supreme authority derives from that. The rôle of the other peoples is to listen to the behests of their guardians, and to accept and execute them without murmur. Might is still a source of right.

It is fair to say that the disclosure of the true base of the new ordering, as blurted out by M. Clemenceau at that historic meeting, caused little surprise among the initiated. For there was no reason to assume that he, or, indeed, the bulk of the continental statesmen, were converts to a doctrine of which its own apostle accepted only those fragments which commended themselves to his country or his party. Had not the French Premier scoffed at the League in public as in private? Had he not said in the Chamber: "I do not believe that the Society of Nations constitutes the necessary conclusion of the present war. I will give you one of my reasons. It is this: if to-morrow you were to propose to me that Germany should enter into this society I would not consent."[345]

"I am certain," wrote one of the ablest and most ardent champions of the League in France, Senator d'Estournelles de Constant—"I am certain that he [M. Clemenceau] made an effort against himself, against his entire past, against his whole life, against all his convictions, to serve the Society of Nations. And his Minister of Foreign Affairs followed him."[346] Exactly. And as with M. Clemenceau, so it was with the majority of European statesmen; most of them made strenuous and, one may add, successful efforts against their convictions. And the result was inevitable.

"The governments," we read in the organ of syndicalists, who had supported Mr. Wilson as long as they believed him determined to redeem his promises—"the governments have acquiesced in the Fourteen Points.... Hypocrisy. Each one cherished mental reservations. Virtue was exalted and vice practised. The poltroon eulogized heroism; the imperialist lauded the spirit of justice. For the past month we have been picking up ideas about the worth of the adhesions to the Fourteen Points, and never before has a more sinister or a more odious comedy been played. Territorial demands have been heaved one upon the other; contempt of the rights of peoples—the only right that we can recognize—has been expressed in striking terms; the last restraints have vanished; the masks have fallen."[347]

From every country in Europe the same judgment came pitched in varying keys. The Italian press condemned the proceedings of the Conference in language to the full as strong as that of the German or Austrian journals. The Stampa affirmed that those who, like Bissolati, were in the beginning for placing their trust in one of the two coteries at the Conference were guilty of a fatal mistake. "The mistake lay in their belief in the ideal strivings of one of the parties, and in the horror with which the cupidity of the others was contemplated, whereas both of them were fighting for ... their interests.... In verity France was no less militarist or absolutist than Germany, nor was England less avid than either. And the proof is enshrined in the peace treaties which have masked the results of their respective victories. Versailles is a Brest-Litovsk, aggravated in the same proportion as the victory of the Entente over Germany, is more complete than was that of Germany over Russia. Cupidity does not alter its character, even when it seeks to conceal itself under a Phrugian cap rather than wear a helmet."[348]

M. Clemenceau's opening utterance about the twelve million men, and the unlimited right which such formidable armies confer on their possessors to sit in judgment on the tribes and peoples of the planet, was the true keynote to the Conference. After that the leading statesmen trimmed their ship, touched the rudder, and sailed toward downright absolutism.

The effect of such utterances and acts on the minds of the peoples are distinctly mischievous. For they tend to obliterate the sense of public right, which is the main foundation of international intercourse among progressive nations.

And already it had been shaken and weakened by the campaigns of the past fifty years, and in particular by the last war. In the relations of nation to nation there were certain principles—derivatives of ethics diluted with maxims of expediency—which kept the various governments from too flagrant breaches of faith. These checks were the only substitute for morality in politics. Their highest power was connoted by the word Europeanism, which stood for a supposed feeling of solidarity among all the peoples of the old Continent, and for a certain respect for the treaties on which the state-system reposed. But it existed mainly among defeated nations when apprehensive of being isolated or chastised by their victors. None the less, the idea marked a certain advance toward an ethical bond of union.

Now this embryonic sense, together with respect for the binding force of a nation's plighted troth, were numbered by the demoralizing influence of the wars of the last fifty years. And one of the first and peremptory needs of the world was their restoration. This could be effected only by bringing the peoples, not merely of Europe, but of the world, more closely together, by engrafting on them a feeling of close solidarity, and impressing them with the necessity of making common cause in the one struggle worth their while waging—resistance to the forces that militate against human welfare and progress. The feeling was widespread that the way to effect this was by some form of internationalism, by the broadening, deepening, and quickening all that was implied by Europeanism, by co-ordinating the collective energies of all progressive peoples, and causing them to converge toward a common and worthy goal. For the working classes this conception in a restricted form had long possessed a commanding attraction. What they aimed at, however, was no more than the catholicity of labor. They fancied that after the passage of the tidal wave of destructiveness the ground was cleared of most of the obstacles which had encumbered it, and that the forward advance might begin forthwith.

What they failed to take sufficiently into account was the vis inertiæ, the survival of the old spirit among the ruling orders whose members continued to live and move in the atmosphere of use and wont, and the spirit of hate and bitterness infused into all the political classes, to dispel which was a herculean task. It was exclusively to the leaders of those classes that Mr. Wilson confided the realization of the abstract idea of a society of nations, which he may at first have pictured to himself as a vast family conscious of common interests, bent on moral and material self-betterment, and willing to eschew such partial advantages as might hinder or retard the general progress. But, judging by his attitude and his action, he had no real acquaintance with the materials out of which it must be fashioned, no notion of the difficulties to be met, and no staying power to encounter and surmount them. And his first move entailed the failure of the scheme.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Wilson came to the Conference with a home-made charter for the Society of Nations, which, according to the evidence of Mr. Lansing, "was never pressed." The State Secretary added that "the present league Covenant is superior to the American plan." And as for the Fourteen Points, "They were not even discussed at the Conference."[349] Suspecting as much, I wrote at the time:[350] "The President has pinned himself down to no concrete scheme whatever. His method is electric, choosing what is helpful and beneficent in the projects of others, and endeavoring to obtain from the dissentients a renunciation of ideas belonging to the old national currents and adherence to the doctrines he deems salutary. It is, however, already clear that the highest ideal now attainable is not a league of nations as the masses understand it, which will abolish wars and likewise put an end to the costly preparations for them, but only a coalition of victorious nations, which may hope, by dint of economic inducements and deterrents, to draw the enemy peoples into its camp in the not too distant future. This result would fall very short of the expectations aroused by the far-resonant promises made at the outset; but even it will be unattainable without an international compact binding all the members of the coalition to make war simultaneously upon the nation or group of nations which ventures to break the peace. I am disposed to believe that nothing less than such an express covenant will be regarded by the continental Powers of the Entente as an adequate substitute for certain territorial readjustments which they otherwise consider essential to secure them from sudden attack.

"Whether such a condition would prevent future wars is a question that only experience can answer. Personally, I am profoundly convinced, with Mr. Taft, that a genuine league of nations must have teeth in the guise of supernational, not international, forces. In these remarks I make abstraction from the larger question which wholly absorbs this—namely, whether the masses for whose behoof the lavish expenditure of time, energy, and ingenuity is undertaken, will accept a coalition of victorious governments against unregenerate peoples as a substitute for the Society of Nations as at first conceived."

The supposed object of the League was the substitution of right for force, by debarring each individual state from employing violence against any of the others, and by the use of arbitration as a means of settling disputes. This entails the suppression of the right to declare war and to prepare for it, and, as a corollary, a system of deterrents to hinder, and of penalties to punish rebellion on the part of a community. That in those cases where the law is set at naught efficacious means should be available to enforce it will hardly be denied; but whether economic pressure would suffice in all cases is doubtful. To me it seems that without a supernational army, under the direct orders of the League, it might under conceivable circumstances become impossible to uphold the decisions of the tribunal, and that, on the other hand, the coexistence of such a military force with national armaments would condemn the undertaking to failure.

An analysis of the Covenant lies beyond the limits of my task, but it may not be amiss to point out a few of its inherent defects. One of the principal organs of the League will be the Assembly and the Council. The former, a very numerous and mainly political body, will necessarily be out of touch with the peoples, their needs and their aspirations. It will meet at most three or four times a year. And its members alone will be invested with all the power, which they will be chary of delegating. On the other hand, the Council, consisting at first of nine members, will meet at least once a year. The members of both bodies will presumably be appointed by the governments,[351] who will certainly not renounce their sovereignty in a matter that concerns them so closely. Such a system may be wise and conducive to the highest aims, but it can hardly be termed democratic. The military Powers who command twelve million soldiers will possess a majority in the Council.[352] The Secretariat alone will be permanent, and will naturally be appointed by the Great Powers.

Instead of abolishing war, the Conference described its abolition as beyond the power of man to compass. Disarmament, which was to have been one of its main achievements, is eliminated from the Covenant. As the war that was to have been the last will admittedly be followed by others, the delegates of the Great Powers worked conscientiously, as behooved patriotic statesmen, to obtain in advance all possible advantages for their respective countries by way of preparing for it. The new order, which in theory reposes upon right, justice, and moral fellowship, in reality depends upon powerful armies and navies. France must remain under arms, seeing that she has to keep watch on the Rhine. Britain and the United States are to go on building warships and aircraft, besides training their youth for the coming Armageddon. The article of the Covenant which lays it down that "the members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety,"[353] is, to use a Russian simile, written on water with a fork. Britain, France, and the United States are already agreed that they will combine to repel unprovoked aggression on the part of Germany. That evidently signifies that they will hold themselves in readiness to fight, and will therefore make due preparation. This arrangement is a substitute for a supernational army, as though prevention were not better than cure; that it will prove efficacious in the long run very few believe. One clear-visioned Frenchman writes: "The inefficacy of the organization aimed at by the Conference constrains France to live in continual and increasing insecurity, owing to the falling off of her population."[354] He adds: "It follows from this abortive expedient—if it is to remain definitive—that each member-state must protect itself, or come to terms with the more powerful ones, as in the past. Consequently we are in presence of the maintenance of militarism and the régime of armaments."[355] This writer goes farther and accuses Mr. Wilson of having played into the hands of Britain. "President Wilson," he affirms, "has more or less sacrificed to the English government the society of nations and the question of armaments, that of the colonies and that of the freedom of the seas...."[356] This, however, is an over-statement. It was not for the sake of Britain that the American statesman gave up so much; it was for the sake of saving something of the Covenant. It was in the spirit of Sir Boyle Roche, whose attachment to the British Constitution was such that, to save a part of it, he was willing to sacrifice the whole.

The arbitration of disputes is provided for by one of the articles of the Covenant;[357] but the parties may go to war three months later with a clear conscience and an appeal to right, justice, self-determination, and the usual abstract nouns.

In a word, the directors of the Conference disciplined their political intelligence on lines of self-hypnotization, along which common sense finds it impossible to follow them. There were also among the delegates men who thought and spoke in terms of reason and logic, but their voices evoked no echo. One of them summed up his criticism somewhat as follows:

"During the war our professions of democratic principles were far resonant and emphatic. We were fighting for the nations of the world, especially for those who could not successfully fight for themselves. All the peoples, great and small, were exhorted to make the most painful sacrifices to enable their respective governments to conquer the enemy. Victory unexpectedly smiled on us, and the peoples asked that those promises should be made good. Naturally, expectations ran high. What has happened? The governments now answer in effect: 'We will promote your interests, but without your co-operation or assent. We will make the necessary arrangements in secret behind closed doors. The machinery we are devising will be a state machinery, not a popular one. All that we ask of you is implicit trust. You complain of our action in the past. You have good cause. You say that the same men are about to determine your future. Again you are right. But when you affirm that we are sure to make the like mistakes, you are wrong, and we ask you to take our word for it. You complain that we are politicians who feel the weight of certain commitments and the fetters of obsolete traditions from which we cannot free ourselves; that we are mainly concerned to protect and further the interests of our respective countries, and that it is inconceivable we should devise an organization which looks above and beyond those interests. We ask you, are you willing, then, to abandon the heritage of our fathers to the foreigner?'

"That the downtrodden peoples in Austria and Germany have been emancipated is a moral triumph. But why has the beneficent principle that is said to have inspired the deed been restricted in its application? Why has the experiment been tried only in the enemies' countries? Or are things quite in order everywhere else? Is there no injustice in other quarters of the globe? Are there no complaints? If there be, why are they ignored? Is it because all acts of oppression are to be perpetuated which do not take place in the enemy's land? What about Ireland and about a dozen other countries and peoples? Are they skeletons not to be touched?

"By debarring the masses from participation in a grandiose scheme, the success of which depends upon their assent, the governments are indirectly but surely encouraging secret combined opposition, and in some cases Bolshevism. The masses resent being treated as children after having been appealed to as arbiters and rescuers. For four and a half years it was they who bore the brunt of the war, they who sacrificed their sons and their substance. In the future it is they to whom the states will look for the further sacrifices in blood and treasure which will be necessary in the struggles which they evidently anticipate. Well, some of them refuse these sacrifices in advance. They challenge the right of the governments to retain the power of making war and peace. That power they are working to get into their own hands and to wield in their own way, or at any rate to have a say in its exercise. And in order to secure it, some sections of the peoples are making common cause with the socialist revolutionaries, while others have gone the length of Bolshevism. And that is a serious danger. The agitation now going on among the people, therefore, starts with a grievance. The masses have many other grievances besides the one just sketched—the survivals of the feudal age, the privileges of class, the inequality of opportunity. And the kernel formed by these is the element of truth and equity which imparts force to all those underground movements, and enables them to subsist and extend. Error is never dangerous by itself; it is only when it has an admixture of truth that it becomes powerful for evil. And it seems a thousand pities that the governments, whose own interests are at stake, as well as those of the communities they govern, should go out of their way to provide an explosive element for Bolshevism and its less sinister variants."

The League was treated as a living organism before it existed. All the problems which the Supreme Councilors found insoluble were reserved for its judgment. Arduous functions were allotted to it before it had organs to discharge them. Formidable tasks were imposed upon it before the means of achieving them were devised. It is an institution so elusive and elastic that the French regard it as capable of being used as a handy instrument for coercing the Teutons, who, in turn, look upon it as a means of recovering their place in the world; the Japanese hope it may become a bridge leading to racial equality, and the governments which devised it are bent on employing it as a lever for their own politico-economic aims, which they identify with the progress of the human race. How the peoples look upon it the future will show.

On the Monroe Doctrine in connection with the League of Nations the less said the soonest mended. But one cannot well say less than this: that any real society of peoples such as Mr. Wilson first conceived and advocated is as incompatible with "regional understandings like the Monroe Doctrine" as are the maintenance of national armaments and the bartering of populations. It is immaterial whether one concludes that a Society of Nations is therefore impossible in the present conjuncture or that all those survivals of the old state system are obsolescent and should be abolished. The two are unquestionably irreconcilable.

It would be a mistake to infer from the unanimity with which Mr. Wilson's Covenant was finally accepted that it expressed the delegates' genuine conceptions or sentiments. Mr. Bullitt, one of the expert advisers to the American Peace Delegation, testified before the Senate committee in Washington that State-Secretary Lansing remarked to him: "I consider the League of Nations at present as entirely useless. The Great Powers have simply gone ahead and arranged the world to suit themselves. England and France, in particular, have gotten out of the Treaty everything they wanted. The League of Nations can do nothing to alter any unjust clauses of the Treaty except by the unanimous consent of the League members. The Great Powers will never consent to changes in the interests of weaker peoples."[358]

This opinion which Mr. Bullitt ascribed to Mr. Lansing was, to my knowledge, that of a large number of the representatives of the nations at the Conference. Among them all I have met very few who had a good word to say of the scheme, and of the few one had helped to formulate it, another had assisted him. And the unfavorable judgments of the remainder were delivered after the Covenant was signed.

One of those leaders, in conversation with several other delegates and myself, exclaimed one day: "The League of Nations indeed! It is an absurdity. Who among thinking men believes in its reality?" "I do," answered his neighbor; "but, like the devils, I believe and tremble. I hold that it is a corrosive poison which destroys much that is good and will further much that is bad." A statesman who was not a delegate demurred. "In my opinion," he said, "it is a response to a demand put forward by the peoples of the globe, and because of this origin something good will ultimately come of it. Unquestionably it is very defective, but in time it may be—nay, must be—changed for the better." The first speaker replied: "If you imagine that the League will help continental peoples, you are, I am convinced, mistaken. It took the United States three years to go to the help of Britain and France. How long do you suppose it will take her to mobilize and despatch troops to succor Poland, Rumania, or Czechoslovakia? I am acquainted with British colonial public opinion and sentiment—too often misunderstood by foreigners—and I can tell you that they are misconstrued by those who fancy that they would determine action of that kind. If England tells the colonies that she needs their help, they will come, because their people are flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood, and also because they depend for their defense upon her navy, and if she were to go under they would go under, too. But the continental nations have no such claims upon the British colonies, which would not be in a hurry to make sacrifices in order to satisfy their appetites or their passions."

The second speaker then said: "It is possible, but nowise certain, that the future League may help to settle these disputes which professional diplomatists would have arranged, and in the old way, but it will not affect those others which are the real causes of wars. If a nation believes it can further its vital interest by breaking the peace, the League cannot stop it. How could it? It lacks the means. There will be no army ready. It would have to create one. Even now, when such an army, powerful and victorious, is in the field, the League—for the Supreme Council is that and more—cannot get its orders obeyed. How then will its behest be treated when it has no troops at its beck and call? It is redrawing the map of central and eastern Europe, and is very satisfied with its work. But, as we know, the peoples of those countries look upon its map as a sheet of paper covered with lines and blotches of color to which no reality corresponds."

The constitution of the League was termed by Mr. Wilson a Covenant, a word redolent of biblical and puritanical times, which accorded well with the motives that decided him to prefer Geneva to Brussels as the seat of the League, and to adopt other measures of a supposed political character. The first draft of this document was, as we saw, completed in the incredibly short space of some thirty hours, so as to enable the President to take it with him to Washington. As the Ententophil Echo de Paris remarked, "By a fixed date the merchandise has to be consigned on board the George Washington."[359]

The discussions that took place after the President's return from the United States were animated, interesting, and symptomatic. In April the commission had several sittings, at which various amendments and alterations were proposed, some of which would cut deep into international relations, while others were of slight moment and gave rise to amusing sallies. One day the proposal was mooted that each member-state should be free to secede on giving two years' notice. M. Larnaude, who viewed membership as something sacramentally inalienable, seemed shocked, as though the suggestion bordered on sacrilege, and wondered how any government should feel tempted to take such a step. Signor Orlando was of a different opinion. "However precious the privilege of membership may be," he said, "it would be a comfort always to know that you could divest yourself of it at will. I am shut up in my room all day working. I do not go into the open air any oftener than a prisoner might. But I console myself with the thought that I can go out whenever I take it into my head. And I am sure a similar reflection on membership of the League would be equally soothing. I am in favor of the motion."

The center of interest during the drafting of the Covenant lay in the clause proclaiming the equality of religions, which Mr. Wilson was bent on having passed at all costs, if not in one form, then in another. This is one example of the occasional visibility of the religious thread which ran through a good deal of his personal work at the Conference. For it is a fact—not yet realized even by the delegates themselves—that distinctly religious motives inspired much that was done by the Conference on what seemed political or social grounds. The strategy adopted by the eminent American statesman to have his stipulation accepted proceeded in this case on the lines of a humanitarian resolve to put an end to sanguinary wars rather than on those which the average reformer, bent on cultural progress, would have traced. Actuality was imparted to this simple and yet thorny topic by a concrete proposal which the President made one day. What he is reported to have said is briefly this: "As the treatment of religious confessions has been in the past, and may again in the future be, a cause of sanguinary wars, it seems desirable that a clause should be introduced into the Covenant establishing absolute liberty for creeds and confessions." "On what, Mr. President," asked the first Polish delegate, "do you found your assertion that wars are still brought about by the differential treatment meted out to religions? Does contemporary history bear out this statement? And, if not, what likelihood is there that religious inequality will precipitate sanguinary conflicts in the future?" To this pointed question Mr. Wilson is said to have made the characteristic reply that he considered it expedient to assume this nexus between religious inequality and war as the safest way of bringing the matter forward. If he were to proceed on any other lines, he added, there would be truth and force in the objection which would doubtless be raised, that the Conference was intruding upon the domestic affairs of sovereign states. As that charge would damage the cause, it must be rebutted in advance. And for this purpose he deemed it prudent to approach the subject from the side he had chosen.

This reply was listened to in silence and unfavorably commented upon later. The alleged relation between such religious inequality as has survived into the twentieth century and such wars as are waged nowadays is so obviously fictitious that one can hardly understand the line of reasoning that led to its assumption, or the effect which the fiction could be supposed to have on the minds of those legislators who might be opposed to the measure on the ground that it involved undue interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The motion was referred to a commission, which in due time presented a report. Mr. Wilson was absent when the report came up for discussion, his place being taken by Colonel House. The atmosphere was chilly, only a couple of the delegates being disposed to support the clause—Rumania's representative, M. Diamandi, was one, and another was Baron Makino, whose help Colonel House would gladly have dispensed with, so inacceptable was the condition it carried with it.

Baron Makino said that he entirely agreed with Colonel House and the American delegates. The equality of religious confessions was not merely desirable, but necessary to the smooth working of a Society of Nations such as they were engaged in establishing. He held, however, that it should be extended to races, that extension being also a corollary of the principle underlying the new international ordering. He would therefore move the insertion of a clause proclaiming the equality of races and religions. At this Colonel House looked pensive. Nearly all the other opinions were hostile to Colonel House's motion.

The reasons alleged by each of the dissenting lawgivers were interesting. Lord Robert Cecil surprised many of his colleagues by informing them that in England the Catholics, who are fairly treated as things are, could not possibly be set on a footing of perfect equality with their Protestant fellow-citizens, because the Constitution forbids it. Nor could the British people be asked to alter their Constitution. He gave as instances of the slight inequality at present enforced the circumstance that no Catholic can ascend the throne as monarch, nor sit on the woolsack as Lord Chancellor in the Upper House.

M. Larnaude, speaking in the name of France, stated that his country had passed through a sequence of embarrassments caused by legislation on the relations between the Catholics and the state, and that the introduction of a clause enacting perfect equality might revive controversies which were happily losing their sharpness. He considered it, therefore, inadvisable to settle this delicate matter by inserting the proposed declaration in the Covenant. Belgium's first delegate, M. Hymans, pointed out that the objection taken by his government was of a different but equally cogent character. There was reason to apprehend that the Flemings might avail themselves of the equality clause to raise awkward issues and to sow seeds of dissension. On those grounds he would like to see the proposal waived. Signor Orlando half seriously, half jokingly, reminded his colleagues that none of their countries had, like his, a pope in their capital. The Italian government must, therefore, proceed in religious matters with the greatest circumspection, and could not lightly assent to any measure capable of being manipulated to the detriment of the public interest. Hence he was unable to give the motion his support. It was finally suggested that both proposals be withdrawn. To this Colonel House demurred, on the ground that President Wilson, who was unavoidably absent, attached very great weight to the declaration, to which he hoped the delegates would give their most favorable consideration. One of the members then rose and said, "In that case we had better postpone the voting until Mr. Wilson can attend." This suggestion was adopted. When the matter came up for discussion at a subsequent sitting, the Japanese substituted "nations" for "races."

In the meantime the usual arts of parliamentary emergency were practised outside the Conference to induce the Japanese to withdraw their proposal altogether. They were told that to accept or refuse it would be to damage the cause of the future League without furthering their own. But the Marquis Saionji and Baron Makino refused to yield an inch of their ground. A conversation then took place between the Premier of Australia, on the one side, and Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda, on the other, with a view to their reaching a compromise. For Mr. Hughes was understood to be the leader of those who opposed any declaration of racial equality. The Japanese statesmen showed him their amendment, and asked him whether he could suggest a modification that would satisfy himself and them. The answer was in the negative. To the arguments of the Japanese delegates the Australian Premier is understood to have replied: "I am willing to admit the equality of the Japanese as a nation, and also of individuals man to man. But I do not admit the consequence that we should throw open our country to them. It is not that we hold them to be inferior to ourselves, but simply that we do not want them. Economically they are a perturbing factor, because they accept wages much below the minimum for which our people are willing to work. Neither do they blend well with our people. Hence we do not want them to marry our women. Those are my reasons. We mean no offense. Our restrictive legislation is not aimed specially at the Japanese. British subjects in India are affected by it in exactly the same way. It is impossible that we should formulate any modifications of your amendment, because there is no modification conceivable that would satisfy us both."

The Japanese delegates were understood to say that they would maintain their motion, and that unless it passed they would not sign the document. Mr. Hughes retorted that if it should pass he would refuse to sign. Finally the Australian Premier asked Baron Makino whether he would be satisfied with the following qualifying proviso: "This affirmation of the principle of equality is not to be applied to immigration or nationalization." Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda both answered in the negative and withdrew.

The final act[360] is described by eye-witnesses as follows. Congruously with the order of the day, President Wilson having moved that the city of Geneva be selected as the capital of the future League, obtained a majority, whereupon he announced that the motion had passed.

Then came the burning question of the equality of nations.[361] The Polish delegate arose and opposed it on the formal ground that nothing ought to be inserted in the preamble which was not dealt with also in the body of the Covenant, as otherwise it would be no more than an isolated theory devoid of organic connection with the whole. The Japanese delegates delivered speeches of cogent argument and impressive debating power. Baron Makino made out a very strong case for the equality of nations. Viscount Chinda followed in a trenchant discourse, which was highly appreciated by his hearers, nearly all of whom recognized the justice of the Japanese claim. The Japanese delegates refused to be dazzled by the circumstances that Japan was to be represented on the Executive Council as one of the five Great Powers, and that the rejection of the proposed amendment could not therefore be construed as a diminution of her prestige. This consideration, they retorted, was wholly irrelevant to the question whether or no the nations were to be recognized as equal. They ended by refusing to withdraw their modified amendment and calling for a vote. The result was a majority for the amendment. Mr. Wilson thereupon announced that a majority was insufficient to justify its adoption, and that nothing less than absolute unanimity could be regarded as adequate. At this a delegate objected: "Mr. Wilson, you have just accepted a majority for your own motion respecting Geneva; on what grounds, may I ask, do you refuse to abide by a majority vote on the amendment of the Japanese delegation?" "The two cases are different," was the reply. "On the subject of the seat of the League unanimity is unattainable." This closed the official discussion.

Some time later, it is asserted, the Rumanians, who had supported Mr. Wilson's motion on religious equality, were approached on the subject, and informed that it would be agreeable to the American delegates to have the original proposal brought up once more. Such a motion, it was added, would come with especial propriety from the Rumanians, who, in the person of M. Diamandi, had advocated it from the outset. But the Rumanian delegates hesitated, pleading the invincible opposition of the Japanese. They were assured, however, that the Japanese would no longer discountenance it. Thereupon they broached the matter to Lord Robert Cecil, but he, with his wonted caution, replied that it was a delicate subject to handle, especially after the experience they had already had. As for himself, he would rather leave the initiative to others. Could the Rumanian delegates not open their minds to Colonel House, who took the amendment so much to heart? They acted on this suggestion and called on Colonel House. He, too, however, declared that it was a momentous as well as a thorny topic, and for that reason had best be referred to the head of the American delegation. President Wilson, having originated the amendment, was the person most qualified to take direct action. It is further affirmed that they sounded the President as to the advisability of mooting the question anew, but that he declined to face another vote, and the matter was dropped for good—in that form.

It was publicly asserted later on that the Japanese decided to abide by the rejection of their amendment and to sign the Covenant as the result of a bargain on the Shantung dispute. This report, however, was pulverized by the Japanese delegation, which pointed out that the introduction of the racial clause was decided upon before the delegates left Japan, and when no difficulties were anticipated respecting Japan's claim to have that province ceded to her by Germany, and that the discussion on the amendment terminated on April 11th, consequently before the Kiaochow issue came up for discussion. As a matter of fact, the Japanese publicly announced their intention to adhere to the League of Nations two days[362] before a decision was reached respecting their claims to Kiaochow.

This adverse note on Mr. Wilson's pet scheme to have religious equality proclaimed as a means of hindering sanguinary wars brought to its climax the reaction of the Conference against what it regarded as a systematic endeavor to establish the overlordship of the Anglo-Saxon peoples in the world. The plea that wars may be provoked by such religious inequality as still survives was so unreal that it awakened a twofold suspicion in the minds of many of Mr. Wilson's colleagues. Most of them believed that a pretext was being sought to enable the leading Powers to intervene in the domestic concerns of all the other states, so as to keep them firmly in hand, and use them as means to their own ends. And these ends were looked upon as anything but disinterested. Unhappily this conviction was subsequently strengthened by certain of the measures decreed by the Supreme Council between April and the close of the Conference. The misgivings of other delegates turned upon a matter which at first sight may appear so far removed from any of the pressing issues of the twentieth century as to seem wholly imaginary. They feared that a religious—some would call it racial—bias lay at the root of Mr. Wilson's policy. It may seem amazing to some readers, but it is none the less a fact that a considerable number of delegates believed that the real influences behind the Anglo-Saxon peoples were Semitic.

They confronted the President's proposal on the subject of religious inequality, and, in particular, the odd motive alleged for it, with the measures for the protection of minorities which he subsequently imposed on the lesser states, and which had for their keynote to satisfy the Jewish elements in eastern Europe. And they concluded that the sequence of expedients framed and enforced in this direction were inspired by the Jews, assembled in Paris for the purpose of realizing their carefully thought-out program, which they succeeded in having substantially executed. However right or wrong these delegates may have been, it would be a dangerous mistake to ignore their views, seeing that they have since become one of the permanent elements of the situation. The formula into which this policy was thrown by the members of the Conference, whose countries it affected, and who regarded it as fatal to the peace of eastern Europe, was this: "Henceforth the world will be governed by the Anglo-Saxon peoples, who, in turn, are swayed by their Jewish elements."

It is difficult to convey an adequate notion of the warmth of feeling—one might almost call it the heat of passion—which this supposed discovery generated. The applications of the theory to many of the puzzles of the past were countless and ingenious. The illustrations of the manner in which the policy was pursued, and the cajolery and threats which were said to have been employed in order to insure its success, covered the whole history of the Conference, and presented it through a new and possibly distorted medium. The morbid suspicions current may have been the natural vein of men who had passed a great part of their lives in petty racial struggles; but according to common account, it was abundantly nurtured at the Conference by the lack of reserve and moderation displayed by some of the promoters of the minority clauses who were deficient in the sense of measure. What the Eastern delegates said was briefly this: "The tide in our countries was flowing rapidly in favor of the Jews. All the east European governments which had theretofore wronged them were uttering their mea culpa, and had solemnly promised to turn over a new leaf. Nay, they had already turned it. We, for example, altered our legislation in order to meet by anticipation the legitimate wishes of the Conference and the pressing demands of the Jews. We did quite enough to obviate decrees which might impair our sovereignty or lessen our prestige. Poland and Rumania issued laws establishing absolute equality between the Jews and their own nationals. All discrimination had ceased. Immigrant Hebrews from Russia received the full rights of citizenship and became entitled to fill any office in the state. In a word, all the old disabilities were abolished and the fervent prayer of east European governments was that the Jewish members of their respective communities should be gradually assimilated to the natives and become patriotic citizens like them. It was a new ideal. It accorded to the Jews everything they had asked for. It would enable them to show themselves as the French, Italian, and Belgian Jews had shown themselves, efficient citizens of their adopted countries.

"But in the flush of their triumph, the Jews, or rather their spokesmen at the Conference, were not satisfied with equality. What they demanded was inequality to the detriment of the races whose hospitality they were enjoying and to their own supposed advantage. They were to have the same rights as the Rumanians, the Poles, and the other peoples among whom they lived, but they were also to have a good deal more. Their religious autonomy was placed under the protection of an alien body, the League, which is but another name for the Powers which have reserved to themselves the governance of the world. The method is to oblige each of the lesser states to bestow on each minority the same rights as the majority enjoys, and also certain privileges over and above. The instrument imposing this obligation is a formal treaty with the Great Powers which the Poles, Rumanians, and other small states were summoned to sign. It contains twenty-one articles. The first part of the document deals with minorities generally, the latter with the Jewish elements. The second clause of the Polish treaty enacts that every individual who habitually resided in Poland on August 1, 1914, becomes a citizen forthwith. This is simple. Is it also satisfactory? Many Frenchmen and Poles doubt it, as we do ourselves. On August 1st numerous German and Austrian agents and spies, many of them Hebrews, resided habitually in Poland. Moreover, the foreign Jewish elements there, which have immigrated from Russia, having lost—like everybody else before the war—the expectation of seeing Polish independence ever restored, had definitely thrown in their lot with the enemies of Poland. Now to put into the hands of such enemies constitutional weapons is already a sacrifice and a risk. The Jews in Vilna recently voted solidly against the incorporation of that city in Poland.[363] Are they to be treated as loyal Polish citizens? We have conceded the point unreservedly. But to give them autonomy over and above, to create a state within the state, and enable its subjects to call in foreign Powers at every hand's turn, against the lawfully constituted authorities—that is an expedient which does not commend itself to the newly emancipated peoples."

The Rumanian Premier Bratiano, whose conspicuous services to the Allied cause entitled him to a respectful hearing, delivered a powerful speech[364] before the delegates assembled in plenary session on this question of protecting ethnic and religious minorities. He covered ground unsurveyed by the framers of the special treaties, and his sincere tone lent weight to his arguments. Starting from the postulate that the strength of latter-day states depends upon the widest participation of all the elements of the population in the government of the country, he admitted the peremptory necessity of abolishing invidious distinctions between the various elements of the population there, ethnic or religious. So far, he was at one with the spokesmen of the Great Powers. Rumania, however, had already accomplished this by the decree enabling her Jews to acquire full citizenship by expressing the mere desire according to a simple formula. This act confers the full rights of Rumanian citizens upon eight hundred thousand Jews. The Jewish press of Bucharest had already given utterance to its entire satisfaction. If, however, the Jews are now to be placed in a special category, differentiated and kept apart from their fellow-citizens by having autonomous institutions, by the maintenance of the German-Yiddish dialect, which keeps alive the Teuton anti-Rumanian spirit, and by being authorized to regard the Rumanian state as an inferior tribunal, from which an appeal always lies to a foreign body—the government of the Great Powers—this would be the most invidious of all distinctions, and calculated to render the assimilation of the German-Yiddish-speaking Jews to their Rumanian fellow-citizens a sheer impossibility. The majority and the minority would then be systematically and definitely estranged from each other; and, seeing this, the elemental instincts of the masses might suddenly assume untoward forms, which the treaty, if ratified, would be unavailing to prevent. But, however baneful for the population, foreign protection is incomparably worse for the state, because it tends to destroy the cement that holds the government and people together, and ultimately to bring about disintegration. A classic example of this process of disruption is Russia's well-meant protection of the persecuted Christians in Turkey. In this case the motive was admirable, the necessity imperative, but the result was the dismemberment of Turkey and other changes, some of which one would like to forget.

The delegation of Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, and Poland upheld M. Bratiano's contentions in brief, pithy speeches. President Wilson's lengthy rejoinder, delivered with more than ordinary sweetness, deprecated M. Bratiano's comparison of the Allies' proposed intervention with Russia's protection of the Christians of Turkey, and represented the measure as emanating from the purest kindness. He said that the Great Powers were now bestowing national existence or extensive territories upon the interested states, actually guaranteeing their frontiers, and therefore making themselves responsible for permanent tranquillity there. But the treatment of the minorities, he added, unless fair and considerate, might produce the gravest troubles and even precipitate wars. Therefore it behooved the Powers in the interests of all Europe, as of each of its individual members, to secure harmonious relations, and, at any rate, to remove all manifest obstacles to their establishment. "We guarantee your frontiers and your territories. That means that we will send over arms, ships, and men, in case of necessity. Therefore we possess the right and recognize the duty to hinder the survival of a set of deplorable conditions which would render this intervention unavoidable."

To this line of reasoning M. Bratiano made answer that all the helpful maxims of good government are of universal application, and, therefore, if this protection of minorities were, indeed, indispensable or desirable, it should not be restricted to the countries of eastern Europe, but should be extended to all without exception. For it is inadmissible that two categories of states should be artificially created, one endowed with full sovereignty and the other with half-sovereignty. Such an arrangement would destroy the equality which should lie at the base of a genuine League of Nations.

But the Powers had made up their minds, and the special treaties were imposed on the unwilling governments. Thereupon the Rumanian Premier withdrew from the Conference, and neither his Cabinet nor that of the Jugoslavs signed the treaty with Austria at St.-Germain.

What happened after that is a matter of history.

Few politicians are conscious of the magnitude of the issue concealed by the involved diplomatic phraseology of the obnoxious treaties, or of the dangers to which their enactment will expose the minorities which they were framed to protect, the countries whose hospitality those minorities enjoy, and possibly other lands, which for the time being are seemingly immune from all such perilous race problems. The calculable, to say nothing of the unascertained, elements of the question might well cause responsible statesmen to be satisfied with the feasible. The Jewish elements in Europe, for centuries abominably oppressed, were justified in utilizing to the fullest the opportunity presented by the resettlement of the world in order to secure equality of treatment. And it must be admitted that their organization is marvelous. For years I championed their cause in Russia, and paid the penalty under the governments of Alexander II and III.[365] The sympathy of every unbiased man, to whatever race or religion he may belong, will naturally go out to a race or a nation which is trodden underfoot, as were the ill-starred Jews of Russia ever since the partition of Poland. But equality one would have thought sufficient to meet the grievance. Full equality without reservation. That was the view taken by numerous Jews in Poland and Rumania, several of whom called on me in Paris and urged me to give public utterance to their hopes that the Conference would rest satisfied with equality and to their fear of the consequences of an attempt to establish a privileged status. Why this position should exist only in eastern Europe and not elsewhere, why it should not be extended to other races with larger minorities in other countries, are questions to which a satisfactory response could be given only by farther-reaching and fateful changes in the legislation of the world.

One of the statesmen of eastern Europe made a forcible appeal to have the minority clauses withdrawn. He took the ground that the principal aim pursued in conferring full rights on the Jews who dwell among us is to remove the obstacles that prevent them from becoming true and loyal citizens of the state, as their kindred are in France, Italy, Britain, and elsewhere. "If it is reasonable," he said, "that they should demand all the rights possessed by their Rumanian and Polish fellow-subjects, it is equally fair that they should take over and fulfil the correlate duties, as does the remainder of the population. For the gradual assimilation of all the ethnic elements of the community is our ideal, as it is the ideal of the French, English, Italian, and other states.

"Isolation and particularism are the negative of that ideal, and operate like a piece of iron or wood in the human body which produces ulceration and gangrene. All our institutions should therefore be calculated to encourage assimilation. If we adopt the opposite policy, we inevitably alienate the privileged from the unprivileged sections of the community, generate enmity between them, cause endless worries to the administration and paralyze in advance our best-intentioned endeavors to fuse the various ethnic ingredients of the nation into a homogeneous whole.

"This argument applies as fully to the other national fragments in our midst as to the Jews. It is manifest, therefore, that the one certain result of the minority clause will be to impose domestic enemies on each of the states that submits to it, and that it can commend itself only to those who approve the maxim, Divide et impera.

"It also entails the noteworthy diminution of the sovereignty of the state. We are to be liable to be haled before a foreign tribunal whenever one of our minorities formulates a complaint against us.[366] How easily, nay, how wickedly such complaints were filed of late may be inferred from the heartrending accounts of pogroms in Poland, which have since been shown by the Allies' own confidential envoys to be utterly fictitious. Again, with whom are we to make the obnoxious stipulations? With the League of Nations? No. We are to bind ourselves toward the Great Powers, who themselves have their minorities which complain in vain of being continually coerced. Ireland, Egypt, and the negroes are three striking examples. None of their delegates were admitted to the Conference. If the principle which those Great Powers seek to enforce be worth anything, it should be applied indiscriminately to all minorities, not restricted to those of the smaller states, who already have difficulties enough to contend against."

The trend of continental opinion was decidedly opposed to this policy of continuous control and periodic intervention. It would be unfruitful to quote the sharp criticisms of the status of the negroes in the United States.[367] But it will not be amiss to cite the views of two moderate French publicists who have ever been among the most fervent advocates of the Allied cause. Their comments deal with one of the articles[368] of the special Minority Treaty which Poland has had to sign. It runs thus: "Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath, nor shall they be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their Sabbath. This provision, however, shall not exempt Jews from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Polish citizens for the necessary purposes of military service, national defense, or the preservation of public order.

"Poland declares her intention to refrain from ordering or permitting elections, whether general or local, to be held on a Saturday, nor will registration for electoral or other purposes be compelled to be performed on a Saturday."

M. Gauvain writes: "One may put the question, why respect for the Sabbath is so peremptorily imposed when Sunday is ignored among several of the Allied Powers. In France Christians are not dispensed from appearing on Sundays before the assize courts. Besides, Poland is further obliged not to order or authorize elections on a Saturday. What precautions these are in favor of the Jewish religion as compared with the legislation of many Allied states which have no such ordinances in favor of Catholicism! Is the same procedure to be adopted toward the Moslems? Shall we behold the famous Mussulmans of India, so opportunely drawn from the shade by Mr. Montagu, demanding the insertion of clauses to protect Islam? Will the Zionists impose their dogmas in Palestine? Is the life of a nation to be suspended two, three, or four days a week in order that religious laws may be observed? Catholicism has adapted itself in practice to laic legislation and to the exigencies of modern life. It may well seem that Judaism in Poland could do likewise. In Rumania, the Jews met with no obstacle to the exercise of their religion. Indeed, they had contrived in the localities to the north of Moldavia, where they formed a majority, to impose their own customs on the rest of the population. Jewish guardians of toll-bridges are known to have barred the passage of these bridges on Saturdays, because, on the one hand, their religion forbade them to accept money on that day, and, on the other hand, they could allow no one to pass without paying. The Big Four might have given their attention to matters more useful or more pressing than enforcing respect for the Sabbath.

"It is comprehensible that M. Bratiano should have refused to accept in advance the conditions which the Four or the Five may dictate in favor of ethnic and religious minorities. Rumania before the war was a free country governed congruously with the most modern principles. The restrictions which she had enacted respecting foreigners in general, and which were on the point of being repealed, did not exceed those which the United States and the Dominion of Australia still apply with remarkable tenacity. Why should the Cabinets of London and Washington take so much to heart the lot of ethnic and religious minorities in certain European countries while they themselves refuse to admit in the Covenant of the Society of Nations the principle of the equality of races? Their conduct is awakening among the states 'whose interests are limited' the belief that they are the victims of an arbitrary policy. And that is not without danger."[369]

Another eminent Frenchman, M. Denis Cochin, who until quite recently was a Cabinet Minister, wrote: "The Conference, by imposing laws in favor of minorities, has uselessly and unjustly offended our allies. These laws oblige them to respect the usages of the Jews, to maintain schools for them.... I have spent a large part of my career in demanding for French Catholics exactly that which the Conference imposes elsewhere. The Catholics pay taxes in money and taxes in blood. And yet there is no budget for those schools in which their religion is taught; no liberty for those schoolmasters who wear the ecclesiastical habit. I have seen a doctor in letters, fellow of the university, driven from his class because he was a Marist brother and did not choose to repudiate the vocation of his youth. He died of grief. I have seen young priests, after the long, laborious preparation necessary before they could take part in the competition for a university fellowship, thrust aside at the last moment and debarred from the competition because they wore the garb of priests. Yet a year later they were soldiers. I have seen Father Schell presented unanimously by the Institute and the Professional Corps as worthy to receive a chair at the Collège de France, and refused by the Minister. Yet I hereby affirm that if foreigners, even though they were allies, even friends, were to meddle with imposing on us the abrogation of these iniquitous laws, my protest would be uplifted against them, together with that of M. Combes.[370] I would exclaim, like Sganarelle's wife, 'And what if I wish to be beaten?' I hold tyranny in horror, but I hold foreign intervention in greater horror still. Let us combat bad laws with all our strength, but among ourselves."[371]

The mino