As to the fifth, sixth, and seventh articles, aiming, in the interest of humanity, to succor those who by the chance of battle have been rendered helpless, to alleviate their sufferings, and to insure the safety of those whose mission is purely one of peace and beneficence, we are instructed that any practicable proposals should receive our earnest support.
On the eighth article, which proposes the wider extension of "good offices, mediation, and arbitration," the secretary dwells with much force, and finally says: "The proposal of the conference promises to offer an opportunity thus far unequaled in the history of the world for initiating a series of negotiations that may lead to important practical results." The delegation is therefore enjoined to propose, at an opportune moment, a plan for an International Tribunal of Arbitration which is annexed to the instructions, and to use their influence in the conference to procure the adoption of its substance.
And, finally, we are instructed to propose to the conference the principle of extending to strictly private property at sea the immunity from destruction or capture by belligerent powers analogous to that which such property already enjoys on land, and to endeavor to have this principle incorporated in the permanent law of civilized nations. A well-drawn historical resume of the relations of the United States to the question of arbitration thus far is added, and a historical summary of the action of the United States, hitherto, regarding the exemption of private property at sea from seizure during war.
The document of most immediate importance is the plan furnished us for international arbitration. Its main features are as follows:
First, a tribunal "composed of judges chosen, on account of their personal integrity and learning in international law, by a majority of the members of the highest court now existing in each of the adhering states, one from each sovereign state participating in the treaty, who shall hold office until their successors are appointed by the same body."
Secondly, the tribunal to meet for organization not later than six months after the treaty shall have been ratified by nine powers; to organize itself as a permanent court, with such officers as may be found necessary, and to fix its own place of session and rules of procedure.
The third article provides that "the contracting nations will mutually agree to submit to the international tribunal all questions of disagreement between them, excepting such as may relate to or involve their political independence or territorial integrity."
The fifth article runs as follows: "A bench of judges for each particular case shall consist of not fewer than three nor more than seven, as may be deemed expedient, appointed by the unanimous consent of the tribunal, and shall not include any member who is either a native, subject, or citizen of the state whose interests are in litigation in the case."
The sixth article provides that the general expenses of the tribunal be divided equally among the adherent powers; but that those arising from each particular case be provided for as may be directed by the tribunal; also that non-adherent states may bring their cases before it, on condition of the mutual agreement that the state against which judgment shall be found shall pay, in addition to the judgment, the expenses of the adjudication.
The seventh article makes provision for an appeal, within three months after the notification of the decision, upon presentation of evidence that the judgment contains a substantial error of fact or law.
The eighth and final article provides that the treaty shall become operative when nine sovereign states, whereof at least six shall have taken part in the conference of The Hague, shall have ratified its provisions.
It turns out that ours is the only delegation which has anything like a full and carefully adjusted plan for a court of arbitration. The English delegation, though evidently exceedingly desirous that a system of arbitration be adopted, has come without anything definitely drawn. The Russians have a scheme; but, so far as can be learned, there is no provision in it for a permanent court.
In the evening there was a general assemblage of the members of the conference at a reception given by Jonkheer van Karnebeek, formerly Dutch minister of foreign affairs, and now first delegate from the Netherlands to the conference. It was very brilliant, and I made many interesting acquaintances; but, probably, since the world began, never has so large a body come together in a spirit of more hopeless skepticism as to any good result. Though no one gives loud utterance to this feeling, it is none the less deep. Of course, among all these delegates acquainted with public men and measures in Europe, there is considerable distrust of the intentions of Russia; and, naturally, the weakness of the Russian Emperor is well understood, though all are reticent regarding it. The only open utterances are those attributed to one or two of the older European diplomatists, who lament being sent on an errand which they fear is to be fruitless. One of these is said to have bewailed this mission as a sad ending to his public services, and to have declared that as he had led a long life of devotion to his country and to its sovereign, his family might well look upon his career as honorable; but that now he is probably doomed to crown it with an open failure.
At two o'clock in the afternoon the conference held its open session at the "House in the Wood." The building is most interesting, presenting as it does the art and general ideas of two hundred and fifty years ago; it is full of historical associations, and the groves and gardens about it are delightful. The walls and dome of the great central hall are covered with immense paintings in the style of Rubens, mainly by his pupils; and, of these, one over the front entrance represents Peace descending from heaven, bearing various symbols and, apparently, entering the hall. To this M. de Beaufort, our honorary president, the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs, made a graceful allusion in his opening speech, expressing the hope that Peace, having entered the hall, would go forth bearing blessings to the world. Another representation, which covers one immense wall, is a glorification of various princes of Orange: it is in full front of me, as I sit, the Peace fresco being visible at my left, and a lovely view of the gardens, and of the water beyond, through the windows at my right.
The "House in the Wood" was built early in the seventeenth century by a princess of the house of Orange, the grandmother of William III of England. The central hall under the dome, above referred to, is now filled up with seats and desks, covered with green cloth, very neat and practical, and mainly arranged like those in an English college chapel. Good fortune has given me one of the two best seats in the house; it being directly in front of the secretaries, who are arranged in a semicircle just below the desk of the president; at my left are the other members of our delegation, and facing me, across the central aisle, is Count Munster, at the head of the German delegation. This piece of good luck comes from the fact that we are seated in the alphabetical order of our countries, beginning with Allemagne, continuing with Amerique, and so on down the alphabet.
The other large rooms on the main floor are exceedingly handsome, with superb Japanese and Chinese hangings, wrought about the middle of the last century to fit the spaces they occupy; on all sides are the most perfect specimens of Japanese and Chinese bronzes, ivory carvings, lacquer-work, and the like: these rooms are given up to the committees into which the whole body is divided. Up-stairs is a dining-hall in which the Dutch Government serves, every working-day, a most bounteous lunch to us all, and at this there is much opportunity for informal discussion. Near the main hall is a sumptuous saloon, hung round with interesting portraits, one of them being an admirable likeness of Motley the historian, who was a great favorite of the late Queen, and frequently her guest in this palace.
Our first session was very interesting; the speech by the honorary president, M. de Beaufort, above referred to, was in every way admirable, and that by the president, M. de Staal, thoroughly good. The latter is the Russian ambassador to London; I had already met him in St. Petersburg, and found him interesting and agreeable. He is, no doubt, one of the foremost diplomatists of this epoch; but he is evidently without much knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Congratulatory telegrams were received from the Emperor of Russia and the Queen of the Netherlands and duly answered.
At eleven in the morning, in one of the large rooms of the hotel, the presidents of delegations met to decide on a plan of organization and work; and, sitting among them, I first began to have some hopes of a good result. Still, at the outset, the prospect was much beclouded. Though a very considerable number of the foremost statesmen in Europe were present, our deliberations appeared, for a time, a hopeless chaos: the unfamiliarity of our president, Baron de Staal, with parliamentary usages seemed likely to become embarrassing; but sundry statesmen, more experienced in such matters, began drawing together, and were soon elaborating a scheme to be presented to the entire conference. It divided all the subjects named in the Mouravieff circular among three great committees, the most important being that on "Arbitration." The choice of representatives on these from our delegation was made, and an ex-officio membership of all three falls to me.
In the course of the day I met and talked with various interesting men, among them Count Nigra, formerly Cavour's private secretary and ambassador at the court of Napoleon III, where he accomplished so much for Italian unity; Sir Julian Pauncefote, the British ambassador at Washington; and M. Bernaert, president of the Belgian Chamber. In the evening, at a reception given by the minister of foreign affairs, M. de Beaufort, I made further acquaintances and had instructive conversations.
In addition to the strict duties of the conference, there is, of course, a mass of social business, with no end of visits, calls, and special meetings, to say nothing of social functions, on a large scale, at the houses of sundry ministers and officials; but these, of course, have their practical uses.
The Dutch Government is showing itself princely in various ways, making every provision for our comfort and enjoyment.
In general, I am considerably encouraged. The skeptical feeling with which we came together seems now passing away; the recent speech of the Emperor William at Wiesbaden has aroused new hopes of a fairly good chance for arbitration, and it looks as if the promise made me just before I left Berlin by Baron von Bulow, that the German delegation should cooperate thoroughly with our own, is to be redeemed. That delegation assures us that it is instructed to stand by us as far as possible on all the principal questions. It forms a really fine body, its head being Count Munster, whom I have already found very agreeable at Berlin and Paris, and its main authority in the law of nations being Professor Zorn, of the University of Konigsberg; but, curiously enough, as if by a whim, the next man on its list is Professor Baron von Stengel of Munich, who has written a book AGAINST arbitration; and next to him comes Colonel Schwartzhoff, said to be a man of remarkable ability in military matters, but strongly prejudiced against the Russian proposals.
As to arbitration, we cannot make it compulsory, as so many very good people wish; it is clear that no power here would agree to that; but even to provide regular machinery for arbitration, constantly in the sight of all nations, and always ready for use, would be a great gain.
As to disarmament, it is clear that nothing effective can be done at present. The Geneva rules for the better care of the wounded on land will certainly be improved and extended to warfare on sea, and the laws of war will doubtless be improved and given stronger sanction.
Whether we can get our proposals as to private property on the high seas before the conference is uncertain; but I think we can. Our hopes are based upon the fact that they seem admissible under one heading of the Mouravieff circular. There is, of course, a determination on the part of leading members to exclude rigorously everything not provided for in the original programme, and this is only right; for, otherwise, we might spend years in fruitless discussion. The Armenians, for example, are pressing us to make a strong declaration in their behalf. Poland is also here with proposals even more inflammatory; so are the Finlanders; and so are the South African Boers. Their proposals, if admitted, would simply be bombshells sure to blow all the leading nations of Europe out of the conference and bring everything to naught. Already pessimists outside are prophesying that on account of these questions we are doomed to utter failure.
The peace people of all nations, including our own, are here in great force. I have accepted an invitation from one of them to lunch with a party of like mind, including Baroness von Suttner, who has written a brilliant book, "Die Waffen Nieder," of which the moral is that all nations shall immediately throw down their arms. Mr. Stead is also here, vigorous as usual, full of curious information, and abounding in suggestions.
There was a report, on our arriving, that the Triple Alliance representatives are instructed to do everything to bring the conference into discredit, but this is now denied. It is said that their programme is changed, and things look like it. On the whole, though no one is sanguine, there is more hope.
In the morning went with Dr. Holls to a Whitsunday service at the great old church here. There was a crowd, impressive chorals, and a sermon at least an hour long. At our request, we were given admirable places in the organ-loft, and sat at the side of the organist as he managed that noble instrument. It was sublime. After the closing voluntary Holls played remarkably well.
To me the most striking feature in the service was a very earnest prayer made by the clergyman for the conference. During the afternoon we also visited the old prison near the Vijver, where the De Witts and other eminent prisoners of state were confined, and in front of which the former were torn in pieces by the mob. Sadly interesting was a collection of instruments of torture, which had the effect of making me better satisfied with our own times than I sometimes am.
In the evening, with our minister, Mr. Newel, and the Dean of Ely, his guest, to an exceedingly pleasant "tea" at the house of Baroness Gravensteen, and met a number of interesting people, among them a kindly old gentleman who began diplomatic life as a British attache at Washington in the days of Webster and Clay, and gave me interesting accounts of them.
The queer letters and crankish proposals which come in every day are amazing. I have just added to my collection of diplomatic curiosities a letter from the editor of a Democratic paper in southern Illinois, addressed to me as ambassador at Mayence, which he evidently takes to be the capital of Germany, asking me to look after a great party of Western newspaper men who are to go up the Rhine this summer and make a brief stay in the above-named capital of the empire. I also receive very many letters of introduction, which of course make large demands upon my time. The number of epistles, also, which come in from public meetings in large and small American towns is very great, some evidently representing no persons other than the writers. As I write the above, I open mechanically a letter from a peace meeting assembled in Ledyard, Connecticut, composed of "Rogerine Quakers"; but what a "Rogerine Quaker" is I know not. Some of these letters are touching, and some have a comic side. A very good one comes from May Wright Sewall; would that all the others were as thoughtful!
It goes without saying that the Quakers are out in full force. We have been answering by cable some of the most important communications sent us from America; the others we shall try to acknowledge by mail, though they are so numerous that I begin to despair of this. If these good people only knew how all this distracts us from the work which we have at heart as much as they, we should get considerably more time to think upon the problems before us.
In the afternoon came M. de Bloch, the great publicist, who has written four enormous volumes on war in modern times, summaries of which, in the newspapers, are said to have converted the young Emperor Nicholas to peace ideas, and to have been the real cause of his calling the conference together. I found him interesting, full of ideas, and devoted most earnestly to a theory that militarism is gradually impoverishing all modern states, and that the next European war will pauperize most of them.
Just afterward Count Welsersheimb, president of the Austrian delegation, called, and was very anxious to know the line we are to take. I told him frankly that we are instructed to present a plan of arbitration, and to urge a resolution in favor of exempting private property, not contraband of war, from seizure on the high seas; that we are ready to go to the full length in improving the laws of war, and in extending the Geneva rules to maritime warfare; but that we look on the question of reducing armaments as relating wholly to Europe, no part of it being applicable to the United States.
As he seemed strongly in favor of our contention regarding private property on the high seas, but fearful that Russia and England, under a strict construction of the rules, would not permit the subject to be introduced, I pointed out to him certain clauses in the Mouravieff circular which showed that it was entirely admissible.
In the morning came a meeting of the American delegation on the subject of telegraphing Washington for further instructions. We find that some of the details in our present instructions are likely to wreck our proposals, and there is a fear among us that, by following too closely the plan laid down for us at Washington, we may run full in the face of the Monroe Doctrine. It is indeed, a question whether our people will be willing to have matters of difference between South American States, or between the United States and a South American State, or between European and South American States, submitted to an arbitration in which a majority of the judges are subjects of European powers. Various drafts of a telegram were made, but the whole matter went over.
At ten the heads of delegations met and considered a plan of organizing the various committees, and the list was read. Each of the three great committees to which the subjects mentioned in the Mouravieff circular are assigned was given a president, vice-president, and two honorary presidents. The first of these committees is to take charge of the preliminary discussion of those articles in the Mouravieff circular concerning the non-augmentation of armies and the limitation in the use of new explosives and of especially destructive weapons. The second committee has for its subject the discussion of humanitarian reforms—namely, the adaptation of the stipulations of the Convention of Geneva of 1864 to maritime warfare, the neutralization of vessels charged with saving the wounded during maritime combats, and the revision of the declaration concerning customs of war elaborated in 1874 by the Conference of Brussels, which has never yet been ratified. The third committee has charge of the subject of arbitration, mediation, and the like.
The president of the first committee is M. Bernaert, a leading statesman of Belgium, who has made a most excellent impression on me from the first; and the two honorary presidents are Count Munster, German ambassador at Paris, and myself.
The president of the second committee is M. de Martens, the eminent Russian authority on international law; and the two honorary presidents, Count Welsersheimb of Austria-Hungary, and the Duke of Tetuan from Spain.
The third committee receives as its president M. Leon Bourgeois, who has held various eminent positions in France; the honorary presidents being Count Nigra, the Italian ambassador at Vienna, and Sir Julian Pauncefote, the British ambassador at Washington.
There was much discussion and considerable difference of opinion on many points, but the main breeze sprang up regarding the publicity of our doings. An admirable speech was made by Baron de Bildt, who is a son of my former Swedish colleague at Berlin, has held various important positions at Washington and elsewhere, has written an admirable history of Queen Christina of Sweden, and is now minister plenipotentiary at Rome. He spoke earnestly in favor of considerable latitude in communications to the press from the authorities of the conference; but the prevailing opinion, especially of the older men, even of those from constitutional states, seemed to second the idea of Russia,—that communications to the press should be reduced to a minimum, comprising merely the external affairs of the conference. I am persuaded that this view will get us into trouble; but it cannot be helped at present.
As was to be expected, there has begun some reaction from the hopes indulged shortly after the conference came together. At our arrival there was general skepticism; shortly afterward, and especially when the organization of the arbitration committee was seen to be so good, there came a great growth of hope; now comes the usual falling back of many. But I trust that this will not be permanent. Yesterday there was some talk which, though quiet, was none the less bitter, to the effect that the purpose of Russia in calling the conference is only to secure time for strengthening her armaments; that she was never increasing her forces at a greater rate, especially in the southwestern part of the empire and in the Caucasus, and never intriguing more vigorously in all directions. To one who stated this to me my answer simply was that bad faith to this extent on the part of Russia is most unlikely, if not impossible; that it would hand down the Emperor and his advisers to the eternal execration and contempt of mankind; and that, in any case, our duty is clear: to go on and do the best we can; to perfect plans for a permanent tribunal of arbitration; and to take measures for diminishing cruelty and suffering in war.
Meeting Count Munster, who, after M. de Staal, is very generally considered the most important personage here, we discussed the subject of arbitration. To my great regret, I found him entirely opposed to it, or, at least, entirely opposed to any well-developed plan. He did not say that he would oppose a moderate plan for voluntary arbitration, but he insisted that arbitration must be injurious to Germany; that Germany is prepared for war as no other country is or can be; that she can mobilize her army in ten days; and that neither France, Russia, nor any other power can do this. Arbitration, he said, would simply give rival powers time to put themselves in readiness, and would therefore be a great disadvantage to Germany.
Later came another disappointment. M. de Martens, having read the memorandum which I left with him yesterday on the subject of exempting private property, not contraband of war, from seizure upon the high seas called, and insisted that it would be impossible, under any just construction of the Mouravieff programme, to bring the subject before the second committee as we had hoped to do; that Russia would feel obliged to oppose its introduction; and that Great Britain, France, and Italy, to say nothing of other powers, would do the same. This was rather trying, for I had especially desired to press this long-desired improvement in international law; and I showed him how persistent the United States had been as regards this subject throughout our whole history, how earnest the President and his cabinet are in pressing it now, and how our delegation are bound, under our instructions, to bring it before the conference. I insisted that we should at least have the opportunity to present it, even if it were afterward declared out of order. To this he demurred, saying that he feared it would arouse unpleasant debate. I then suggested that the paper be publicly submitted to our whole body for special reference to a future conference, and this he took into consideration. Under other circumstances, I would have made a struggle in the committee and, indeed, in the open session of the full conference; but it is clear that what we are sent here for is, above all, to devise some scheme of arbitration, and that anything which comes in the way of this, by provoking ill-feeling or prolonging discussion on other points, will diminish our chances of obtaining what the whole world so earnestly desires.
During the day our American delegation held two sessions; and, as a result, a telegram of considerable length to the State Department was elaborated, asking permission to substitute a new section in our original instructions regarding an arbitration tribunal, and to be allowed liberty to make changes in minor points, as the development of opinion in the conference may demand. The substitute which we suggested referred especially to the clash between the original instructions and the Monroe Doctrine. I was very reluctant to send the despatch; but, on the whole, it seemed best, and it was adopted unanimously.
In the afternoon, at five, the presidents of all the delegations went to the palace, by appointment, and were presented to the young Queen and to the Queen-mother. The former is exceedingly modest, pretty, and pleasant; and as she came into the room, about which were ranged that line of solemn, elderly men, it seemed almost pathetic. She was evidently timid, and it was, at first, hard work for her; but she got along well with Count Munster, and when she came to me I soon brought the conversation upon the subject of the "House in the Wood" by thanking her for the pains her government had taken in providing so beautiful a place for us. This new topic seemed to please her, and we had quite a long talk upon it; she speaking of her visits to the park, for skating and the like, and I dwelling on the beauty of the works of art and the views in the park. Then the delegates, going to the apartments of the Queen-mother, went through a similar formality with her. She is very stout, but fine-looking, with a kindly face and manner. Both mother and daughter spoke, with perfect ease, Dutch, French, German English, and how many other languages I know not. The young Queen was very simply dressed, like any other young lady of seventeen, except that she had a triple row of large pearls about her neck. In the evening, at 9.30, the entire delegations were received at a great presentation and ball. The music was very fine, but the most interesting thing to me was the fact that, as the palace was built under Louis Bonaparte and Hortense, the main rooms were in the most thoroughgoing style Empire, not only in their decorations, but in their furniture and accessories,—clocks, vases, candelabra, and the like. I have never seen that style, formerly so despised, but now so fashionable, developed as fully.
After the presentation I met Sir John Fisher, one of the English delegates, an admiral in the British navy, and found him very intelligent. He said that he was thoroughly for peace, and had every reason to be so, since he knew something of the horrors of war. It appears that in one of the recent struggles in China he went ashore with eleven hundred men and returned with only about five hundred; but, to my regret, I found him using the same argument as regards the sea that Count Munster had made regarding the land. He said that the navy of Great Britain was and would remain in a state of complete preparation for war; that a vast deal depended on prompt action by the navy; and that the truce afforded by arbitration proceedings would give other powers time, which they would otherwise not have, to put themselves into complete readiness. He seemed uncertain whether it was best for Great Britain, under these circumstances, to support a thoroughgoing plan of arbitration; but, on the whole, seemed inclined to try it to some extent. Clearly what Great Britain wants is a permanent system of arbitration with the United States; but she does not care much, I think, for such a provision as regards other powers.
There is considerable curiosity among leading members to know what the United States really intends to do; and during the day Sir Julian Pauncefote and others have called to talk over the general subject.
The London "Times" gives quite correctly a conversation of mine, of rather an optimistic nature, as to the possibilities and probabilities of arbitration, and the improvement of the customs of war; but in another quarter matters have not gone so well: the "Corriere della Sera" of Milan publishes a circumstantial interview with me, which has been copied extensively in the European press, to the effect that I have declared my belief in the adoption of compulsory arbitration and disarmament. This is a grotesque misstatement. I have never dreamed of saying anything of the kind; in fact, have constantly said the contrary; and, what is more, I have never been interviewed by the correspondent of that or of any other Continental paper.
AS PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN DELEGATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE OF THE HAGUE—II
May 25. This morning a leading delegate of one of the great European powers called and gave me a very interesting account of the situation as he sees it.
He stated that the Russian representatives, on arriving here, gave out that they were not prepared with any plan for a definite tribunal of arbitration; but that shortly afterward there appeared some discrepancy on this point between the statements of the various members of their delegation; and that they now propose a system of arbitration, mediation, and examination into any cause of difficulty between nations.
In the evening our secretary spoke of the matter to M. de Staal, the president of the Russian delegation and of the conference, and was told that this plan would, within a day or two, be printed and laid before the whole body.
This is a favorable sign. More and more it looks as if the great majority of us are beginning to see the necessity of some scheme of arbitration embracing a court and definite, well-contrived accessories.
The above-mentioned discrepancy between various statements of the Russians leads me to think that what Count Munster told me some days since may have some truth in it—namely, that Pobedonostzeff, whom I knew well, when minister to Russia, as the strongest man of moral, religious, and social questions in that country, is really the author of the documents that were originally given to the world as emanating from the Russian Foreign Office, and that he has now added to them this definite scheme for arbitration. Remembering our old conversations, in which he dwelt upon the great need of money in order to increase the stipends of the Russian clergy, and so improve their moral as well as religious condition, I can understand easily that he may have greatly at heart a plan which would save a portion of the enormous expenditure of Russia on war, and enable him to do more for the improvement of the church.
Dined at the British legation with the minister, my old friend of St. Petersburg days, Sir Henry Howard, De Martens, the real head of the Russian delegation, being of the party, and had a long talk with the latter about Russia and Russians. He told me that Pobedonostzeff is now becoming old and infirm, and it appears that there has been a sort of cleaning out of the Foreign Office and the Ministry of the Interior—a procedure which was certainly needed in my time.
Later in the evening we went to a reception by Baron van Hardenbroek, the grand chamberlain, where I met various interesting persons, especially M. Descamps, the eminent Belgian delegate, who, in the fervor of his speech yesterday morning, upset his inkstand and lavished its contents on his neighbors. He is a devotee of arbitration, and is preparing a summary for the committee intrusted with that subject. There seemed to be, in discussing the matter with various delegates at this reception, a general feeling of encouragement.
During the day Mr. Loeher, a Berlin sculptor, called, and carried me off to see his plan of a great statue of "Peace" which he hopes to induce the Emperor Nicholas to erect in Paris. It seems to me well conceived, all except the main figure, which I could not induce myself to like. In the anxiety of the sculptor to avoid any more female figures, and to embody virile aspirations for peace, he has placed this main figure at the summit of the monument in something like a long pea-jacket, with an insufficient mantle at the back, and a crown upon its head.
The number of people with plans, schemes, notions, nostrums, whimsies of all sorts, who press upon us and try to take our time, is enormous; and when to this is added the pest of interviewers and photographers, life becomes serious indeed.
At two the committee on arbitration met, and, as it is the largest of all, its session was held in the main hall under the dome. The Russian plan was presented, and was found to embrace three distinct features:
First, elements of a plan of mediation; secondly, a plan for international arbitration; thirdly, a plan for the international examination of questions arising between powers, such examination being conducted by persons chosen by each of the contestants. This last is a new feature and is known as a commission internationale d'enquete.
The project for a plan of arbitration submits a number of minor matters to compulsory arbitration, but the main mass of differences to voluntary arbitration.
But there was no definite proposal for a tribunal, and there was an evident feeling of disappointment, which was presently voiced by Sir Julian Pauncefote, who, in the sort of plain, dogged way of a man who does not purpose to lose what he came for, presented a resolution looking definitely to the establishment, here and now, of an international tribunal of arbitration. After some discussion, the whole was referred to a subcommittee, to put this and any other proposals submitted into shape for discussion by the main committee. In the course of the morning the American delegation received an answer to its telegram to the State Department, which was all that could be desired, since it left us virtually free to take the course which circumstances might authorize, in view of the main object to be attained. But it came too late to enable us to elaborate a plan for the meeting above referred to, and I obtained permission from the president, M. Leon Bourgeois, to defer the presentation of our scheme until about the middle of next week.
Just before the session of the main committee, at which the Russian plan was received, I had a long and very interesting talk with Mr. van Karnebeek, one of the leading statesmen of the Netherlands, a former minister of foreign affairs, and the present chief of the Dutch delegation in the conference. He seems clear-headed and far-sighted, and his belief is that the conference will really do something of value for arbitration. He says that men who arrived here apparently indifferent have now become interested, and that amour propre, if nothing else, will lead them to elaborate something likely to be useful. He went at considerable length into the value of an international tribunal, even if it does nothing more than keep nations mindful of the fact that there is some way, other than war, of settling disputes.
A delegate also informed me that in talking with M. de Staal the latter declared that in his opinion the present conference is only the first of a series, and that it is quite likely that another will be held next winter or next spring.
In the evening I made the acquaintance of Mr. Marshall, a newspaper correspondent, who is here preparing some magazine articles on The Hague and the conference. He is a very interesting man on various accounts, and especially at present, since he has but just returned from the Cuban campaign, where he was fearfully wounded, receiving two shots which carried away parts of the vertebral column, a bullet being left in his body. He seems very cheerful, though obliged to get about on crutches.
In the morning, calls from various people urging all kinds of schemes for arbitration and various other good things for the human race, including considerable advantages, in many cases, for themselves.
Best of all, by far, was John Bellows of Gloucester, our old Quaker friend at St. Petersburg, whom I was exceedingly glad to take by the hand: he, at least, is a thoroughly good man—sincere, honest, earnest, and blessed with good sense.
The number of documents, printed and written, coming in upon us is still enormous. Many are virtually sermons displaying the evils of war, the blessings of peace, and the necessity of falling back upon the Bible. Considering the fact that our earlier sacred books indicate approval by the Almighty of some of the most bloodthirsty peoples and most cruel wars ever known, such a recommendation seems lacking in "actuality."
This morning we had another visit from Sir Julian Pauncefote, president of the British delegation, and discussed with him an amalgamation of the Russian, British, and American proposals for an arbitration tribunal. He finds himself, as we all do, agreeably surprised by the Russian document, which, inadequate as it is, shows ability in devising a permanent scheme both for mediation and arbitration.
During the day President Low, who had been asked by our delegation to bring the various proposals agreed to by us into definite shape, made his report; it was thoroughly well done, and, with some slight changes, was adopted as the basis for our final project of an arbitration scheme. We are all to meet on Monday, the 29th, for a study of it.
In the evening to the concert given to the conference by the burgomaster and city council. It was very fine, and the audience was large and brilliant. There was music by Tschaikovsky, Grieg, and Wagner, some of which was good, but most of it seemed to me noisy and tending nowhither; happily, in the midst of it came two noble pieces, one by Beethoven and the other by Mozart, which gave a delightful relief.
Drove with Dr. Holls to Delft, five miles, and attended service at the "New Church." The building was noble, but the service seemed very crude and dismal, nearly the whole of it consisting of two long sermons separated by hymns, and all unspeakably dreary.
Afterward we saw the tombs of William of Orange and Grotius, and they stirred many thoughts. I visited them first nearly forty years ago, with three persons very dear to me, all of whom are now passed away. More than ever it is clear to me that of all books ever written—not claiming divine inspiration—the great work of Grotius on "War and Peace" has been of most benefit to mankind. Our work here, at the end of the nineteenth century, is the direct result of his, at the beginning of the seventeenth.
Afterward to the Prinzenhof, visiting the place where William of Orange was assassinated. Was glad to see the new statue of Grotius in front of the church where he lies buried.
In the morning President Low and myself walked, and talked over various proposals for arbitration, especially our own. It looks much as if we can amalgamate the Russian, British, and original American plans into a good arrangement for a tribunal. We also discussed a scheme for the selection, by disagreeing nations, of "seconding powers," who, before the beginning of hostilities, or even after, shall attempt to settle difficulties between powers, or, if unsuccessful, to stop them as soon after war begins as the honor of the nations concerned may allow. The Germans greatly favor this plan, since it resembles their tribunal of honor (Ehrengericht); it was originally suggested to us by our secretary, Dr. Holls.
In the evening, at six, the American delegation met. We had before us type-written copies of our whole arbitration project as elaborated in our previous sessions, and sundry changes having been made, most of them verbal, the whole, after considerable discussion, was adopted.
At ten I left, via Hook of Holland and Harwich, for London, arriving about ten the next morning, and attending to various matters of business. It was fortunate for me that I could have for this purpose an almost complete lull in our proceedings, the first and second committees of the conference being at work on technical matters, and the third not meeting until next Monday.
In the evening I went to the Lyceum Theatre, saw Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in Sardou's "Robespierre," and for the first time in my life was woefully disappointed in them. The play is wretchedly conceived, and it amazes me that Sardou, who wrote "Thermidor," which is as admirable as "Robespierre" is miserable could ever have attached his name to such a piece.
For the wretchedness of its form there is, no doubt, some excuse in the fact that it has been done into English, and doubtless cut, pieced, and altered to suit the Lyceum audiences; but when one compares the conspiracy part of it with a properly conceived drama in which a conspiracy is developed, like Schiller's "Fiesco," the difference is enormously in favor of the latter. As literature the play in its English dress is below contempt.
As to its historical contents, Sardou resorts to an expedient which, although quite French in its character, brings the whole thing down to a lower level than anything in which I had ever seen Irving before. The center of interest is a young royalist who, having been present with his mother and sister at the roll-call of the condemned and the harrowing scenes resulting therefrom, rushes forth, determined to assassinate Robespierre, but is discovered by the latter to be his long-lost illegitimate son, and then occur a series of mystifications suited only to the lowest boulevard melodrama.
As to the action of the piece, the only thing that showed Irving's great ability was the scene in the forest of Montmorency, where, as Robespierre, he reveals at one moment, in his talk with the English envoy, his ambition, his overestimate of himself, his suspicion of everybody and everything, his willingness to be cruel to any extent in order to baffle possible enemies; and then, next moment, on the arrival of his young friends, boys and girls, the sentimental, Rousseau side of his character. This transition was very striking. The changes in the expression of Irving's face were marvelous—as wonderful as those in his Louis XI; but that was very nearly all. In everything else, Coquelin, as I had seen him in Sardou's "Thermidor," was infinitely better.
Besides this, the piece was, in general, grotesquely unhistorical. It exhibits Robespierre's colleagues in the Committee of Public Safety as noisy and dirty street blackguards. Now, bad as they were, they were not at all of that species, nor did their deliberations take place in the manner depicted. Billaud-Varennes is represented as a drunken vagabond sitting on a table at the committee and declaiming. He was not this at all, nor was Tallien, vile as he was, anything like the blackguard shown in this piece.
The final scene, in which Robespierre is brought under accusation by the Convention, was vastly inferior to the same thing in "Thermidor"; and, what was worse, instead of paraphrasing or translating the speeches of Billaud-Varennes, Tallien, and Robespierre, which he might have found in the "Moniteur," Sardou, or rather Irving, makes the leading characters yell harangues very much of the sort which would be made in a meeting of drunken dock laborers to-day. Irving's part in this was not at all well done. The unhistorical details now came thick and fast, among them his putting his head down on the table of the tribune as a sign of exhaustion, and then, at the close, shooting himself in front of the tribunal. If he did shoot himself, which is doubtful, it was neither at that time nor in that place.
But, worst of all, the character of Robespierre was made far too melodramatic, and was utterly unworthy of Irving, whom, in all his other pieces, I have vastly admired. He completely misconceives his hero. Instead of representing him as, from first to last, a shallow Rousseau sentimentalist, with the proper mixture of vanity, suspicion, and cruelty, he puts into him a great deal too much of the ruffian, which was not at all in Robespierre's character.
The most striking scene in the whole was the roll-call at the prison. This was perhaps better than that in Sardou's "Thermidor," and the tableaux were decidedly better.
The scene at the "Festival of the Supreme Being" was also very striking, and in many respects historical; but, unless I am greatly mistaken, the performance referred to did not take place as represented, but in the garden directly in front of the Tuileries. The family scene at the house of Duplay the carpenter was exceedingly well managed; old Duplay, smoking his pipe, listening to his daughters playing on a spinet and singing sentimental songs of the Rousseau period, was perfect. The old carpenter and his family evidently felt that the golden age had at last arrived; that humanity was at the end of its troubles; and that the world was indebted for it all to their lodger Robespierre, who sat in the midst of them reading, writing, and enjoying the coddling and applause lavished upon him. And he and they were to go to the guillotine within a week!
Incidentally there came a little touch worthy of Sardou; for, as Robespierre reads his letters, he finds one from his brother, in which he speaks of a young soldier and revolutionist of ability whose acquaintance he has just made, whom he very much likes, and whose republicanism he thoroughly indorses—one Buonaparte. This might have occurred, and very likely did occur, very much as shown on the stage; for one of the charges which nearly cost Bonaparte his life on the Ninth Thermidor was that he was on friendly terms with the younger Robespierre, who was executed with his more famous brother.
On the whole, the play was very disappointing. It would certainly have been hissed at the Porte St. Martin, and probably at any other Paris theater.
Having left London last evening, I arrived at The Hague early this morning and found, to my great satisfaction, that the subcommittee of the third committee had unanimously adopted the American plan of "seconding powers," and that our whole general plan of arbitration will be to-day in print and translated into French for presentation. I also find that Sir Julian Pauncefote's arbitration project has admirable points.
The first article in Sir Julian's proposal states that, with the desire to facilitate immediate recourse to arbitration by nations which may fail to adjust by diplomatic negotiations differences arising between them, the signatory powers agree to organize a permanent tribunal of international arbitration, accessible at all times, to be governed by a code, provided by this conference, so far as applicable and consistent with any special stipulations agreed to between the contesting parties.
Its second provision is the establishment of a permanent central office, where the records of the tribunal shall be preserved and its official business transacted, with a permanent secretary, archivist, and suitable staff, who shall reside on the spot. This office shall make arrangements for the assembling of the tribunal, at the request of contesting parties.
Its third provision is that each of the signatory powers shall transmit the names of two persons who shall be recognized in their own country as jurists or publicists of high character and fitness, and who shall be qualified to act as judges. These persons shall be members of the tribunal, and a list of their names shall be recorded in the central office. In case of death or retirement of any one of these, the vacancy shall be filled up by new appointment.
Its fourth provision is that any of the signatory powers desiring to have recourse to the tribunal for the settlement of differences shall make known such desire to the secretary of the central office, who shall thereupon furnish the powers concerned with a list of the members of the tribunal, from which such powers may select such number of judges as they may think best. The powers concerned may also, if they think fit, adjoin to these judges any other person, although his name may not appear on the list. The persons so selected shall constitute the tribunal for the purpose of such arbitration, and shall assemble at such date as may be most convenient for the litigants.
The tribunal shall ordinarily hold its sessions at ——; but it shall have power to fix its place of session elsewhere, and to change the same from time to time, as circumstances may suggest.
The fifth provision is that any power, even though not represented in the present conference, may have recourse to the tribunal on such terms as may be prescribed by the regulations.
Provision sixth: The government of —— is charged by the signatory powers, on their behalf, as soon as possible after the conclusion of this convention, to name a permanent council of administration, at ——, composed of five members and a secretary. This council shall organize and establish the central office, which shall be under its control and direction. It shall make such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the office; it shall dispose of all questions that may arise in relation to the working of the tribunal, or which may be referred to it by the central office; it shall make all subordinate appointments, may suspend or dismiss all employees, and shall fix their salaries and control their expenditure. This council shall select its president, who shall have a casting-vote. The remuneration of the members shall be fixed from time to time by accord between the signatory powers.
Provision seventh: The signatory powers agree to share among them the expenses pertaining to the administration of the central office and the council of administration; but the expenses incident to every arbitration, including the remuneration of the arbiters, shall be equally borne by the contesting powers.
From a theoretical point of view, I prefer to this our American plan of a tribunal permanently in session: the judges, in every particular case, to be selected from this. Thus would be provided a court of any odd number between three and nine, as the contesting powers may desire. But from the practical point of view, even though the Russian plan of requiring the signatory powers to send to the tribunal a multitude of smaller matters, such as those connected with the postal service, etc., is carried out, the great danger is that such a court, sitting constantly as we propose, would, for some years, have very little to do, and that soon we should have demagogues and feather-brained "reformers" ridiculing them as "useless," "eating their heads off," and "doing nothing"; that then demagogic appeals might lead one nation after another to withdraw from an arrangement involving large expense apparently useless; and in view of this latter difficulty I am much inclined to think that we may, under our amended instructions, agree to support, in its essential features as above given, the British proposal, and, with some reservations, the code proposed by the Russians.
Among the things named by the Russians as subjects which the agreeing powers must submit to arbitration, are those relating to river navigation and international canals; and this, in view of our present difficulties in Alaska and in the matter of the Isthmus Canal, we can hardly agree to. During the morning Sir Julian came in and talked over our plan of arbitration as well as his own and that submitted by Russia. He said that he had seen M. de Staal, and that it was agreed between them that the latter should send Sir Julian, at the first moment possible, an amalgamation of the Russian and British plans, and this Sir Julian promised that he would bring to us, giving us a chance to insert any features from our own plan which, in our judgment, might be important. He seemed much encouraged, as we all are.
Returning to our rooms, I found Count Munster. As usual, he was very interesting; and, after discussing sundry features of the Russian plan, he told one or two rather good stories. He said that during his stay in St Petersburg as minister, early in the reign of Alexander II, he had a very serious quarrel with Prince Gortchakoff the minister of foreign affairs, who afterward became the famous chancellor of the empire.
Count Munster had received one day from a professor at Gottingen a letter stating that a young German savant, traveling for scientific purposes in Russia, had been seized and treated as a prisoner, without any proper cause whatever; that, while he was engaged in his peaceful botanizing, a police officer, who was taking a gang of criminals to Siberia, had come along, and one of his prisoners having escaped, this officer, in order to avoid censure, had seized the young savant, quietly clapped the number of the missing man on his back, put him in with the gang of prisoners, and carried him off along with the rest; so that he was now held as a convict in Siberia. The count put the letter in his pocket, thinking that he might have an opportunity to use it, and a day or two afterward his chance came. Walking on the quay, he met the Emperor (Alexander II), who greeted him heartily, and said, "Let me walk with you." After walking and talking some time, the count told the story of the young German, whereupon the Emperor asked for proofs of its truth. At this Munster pulled the letter out of his pocket; and, both having seated themselves on a bench at the side of the walk, the Emperor read it. On finishing it, the Emperor said: "Such a thing as this can happen only in Russia." That very afternoon he sent a special police squad, post-haste, all the way to Siberia, ordering them to find the young German and bring him back to St. Petersburg.
Next day Count Munster called at the Foreign Office on current business, when Gortchakoff came at him in a great rage, asking him by what right he communicated directly with the Emperor; and insisting that he had no business to give a letter directly to the Emperor, that it ought to have gone through the Foreign Office. Gortchakoff reproached the count bitterly for this departure from elementary diplomatic etiquette. At this Munster replied: "I gave the letter to the Emperor because he asked me for it, and I did not give it to you because I knew perfectly well that you would pigeonhole it and the Emperor would never hear of it. I concede much in making any answer at all to your talk, which seems to me of a sort not usual between gentlemen." At this Gortchakoff was much milder, and finally almost obsequious, becoming apparently one of Munster's devoted friends, evidently thinking that, as Munster had gained the confidence of the Emperor, he was a man to be cultivated.
The sequel to the story was also interesting. The policemen, after their long journey to Siberia, found the young German and brought him to St. Petersburg, where the Emperor received him very cordially and gave him twenty thousand rubles as an indemnity for the wrong done him. The young savant told Munster that he had not been badly treated, that he had been assigned a very pleasant little cottage, and had perfect freedom to pursue his scientific researches.
On my talking with the count about certain Russian abuses, and maintaining that Russia, at least in court circles, had improved greatly under Alexander III as regarded corruption, he said that he feared she was now going back, and he then repeated a remark made by the old Grand Duke Michael, brother of Alexander II, who said that if any Russian were intrusted with the official care of a canary he would immediately set up and maintain a coach and pair out of it.
At six o'clock our American delegation met and heard reports, especially from Captain Mahan and Captain Crozier, with reference to the doings in the subcommittees. Captain Mahan reported that he had voted against forbidding asphyxiating bombs, etc., evidently with the idea that such a provision would prove to be rather harmful than helpful to the cause of peace.
Captain Crozier reported that his subcommittee of committee No. 2 had, at its recent meeting, tried to take up the exemption of private property from seizure on the high seas in time of war, but had been declared out of order by the chairman, De Martens, the leading Russian delegate, who seems determined to prevent the subject coming before the conference. The question before our American delegation now was, Shall we try to push this American proposal before the subcommittee of the second committee, or before the entire conference at a later period? and the general opinion was in favor of the latter course. It was not thought best to delay the arbitration plan by its introduction at present.
In the evening dined with Minister Newel, and had a very interesting talk with Van Karnebeek, who had already favorably impressed me by his clear-headedness and straightforwardness; also with Messrs. Asser, member of the Dutch Council of State, and Rahusen, member of the Upper Chamber of the States General, both of whom are influential delegates.
All three of these men spoke strongly in favor of our plan for the exemption of private property on the high seas, Van Karnebeek with especial earnestness. He said that, looking merely at the material interests of the Netherlands, he might very well favor the retention of the present system, since his country is little likely to go into war, and is certain to profit by the carrying trade in case of any conflict between the great powers; that, of course, under such circumstances, a large amount of commerce would come to Holland as a neutral power; but that it was a question of right and of a proper development of international law, and that he, as well as the two other gentlemen above named, was very earnestly in favor of joint action by the powers who are in favor of our proposal. He thought that the important thing just now is to secure the cooperation of Germany, which seems to be at the parting of the ways, and undecided which to take.
In the course of the evening one of my European colleagues, who is especially familiar with the inner history of the calling of the conference, told me that the reason why Professor Stengel was made a delegate was not that he wrote the book in praise of war and depreciating arbitration, which caused his appointment to be so unfavorably commented upon, but because, as an eminent professor of international law, he represented Bavaria; and that as Bavaria, though represented at St. Petersburg, was not invited, it was thought very essential that a well-known man from that kingdom should be put into the general German delegation.
On my asking why Brazil, though represented at St. Petersburg, was not invited, he answered that Brazil was invited, but showed no desire to be represented. On my asking him if he supposed this was because other South American powers were not invited, he said that he thought not; that it was rather its own indifference and carelessness, arising from the present unfortunate state of government in that country. On my saying that the Emperor Dom Pedro, in his time, would have taken the opportunity to send a strong delegation, he said: "Yes, he certainly would have done so; but the present government is a poor sort of thing."
I also had a talk with one of the most eminent publicists of the Netherlands, on the questions dividing parties in this country, telling him that I found it hard to understand the line of cleavage between them. He answered that it is, in the main, a line between religious conservatives and liberals; the conservatives embracing the Roman Catholics and high orthodox Protestants, and the liberals those of more advanced opinions. He said that socialism plays no great part in Holland; that the number of its representatives is very small compared with that in many European states; that the questions on which parties divide are mainly those in which clerical ideas are more or less prominent; that the liberal party, if it keeps together, is much the stronger party of the two, but that it suffers greatly from its cliques and factions.
On returning home after dinner, I found a cipher despatch from the Secretary of State informing us that President McKinley thinks that our American commission ought not to urge any proposal for "seconding powers"; that he fears lest it may block the way of the arbitration proposals. This shows that imperfect reports have reached the President and his cabinet. The fact is that the proposal of "seconding powers" was warmly welcomed by the subcommittee when it was presented; that the members very generally telegraphed home to their governments, and at once received orders to support it; that it was passed by a unanimous vote of the subcommittee; and that its strongest advocates were the men who are most in favor of an arbitration plan. So far from injuring the prospects of arbitration, it has increased them; it is very generally spoken of as a victory for our delegation, and has increased respect for our country, and for anything we may hereafter present.
This morning we sent a cipher telegram to the Secretary of State, embodying the facts above stated.
The shoals of telegrams, reports of proceedings of societies, hortatory letters, crankish proposals, and peace pamphlets from America continue. One of the telegrams which came late last night was pathetic; it declared that three millions of Christian Endeavorers bade us "Godspeed," etc., etc.
During the morning De Martens, Low, Holls, and myself had a very thoroughgoing discussion of the Russian, British, and American arbitration plans. We found the eminent Russian under very curious misapprehensions regarding some minor points, one of them being that he had mistaken the signification of our word "publicist"; and we were especially surprised to find his use of the French word "publiciste" so broad that it would include M. Henri Rochefort, Mr. Stead, or any newspaper writer; and he was quite as surprised to find that with us it would include only such men as Grotius, Wheaton, Calvo, and himself.
After a long and intricate discussion we separated on very good terms, having made, I think, decided progress toward fusing all three arbitration plans into one which shall embody the merits of all.
One difficulty we found, of which neither our State Department nor ourselves had been fully aware. Our original plan required that the judges for the arbitration tribunal should be nominated by the highest courts of the respective nations; but De Martens showed us that Russia has no highest court in our sense of the word. Then, too, there is Austria-Hungary, which has two supreme courts of equal authority. This clause, therefore, we arranged to alter, though providing that the original might stand as regards countries possessing supreme courts.
At lunch we had Baron de Bildt, Swedish minister at Rome and chief of the Swedish delegation at the conference, and Baron de Bille, Danish minister at London and chief delegate from Denmark. De Bille declared himself averse to a permanent tribunal to be in constant session, on the ground that, having so little to do, it would be in danger of becoming an object of derision to the press and peoples of the world.
We were all glad to find, upon the arrival of the London "Times," that our arbitration project seemed to be receiving extensive approval, and various telegrams from America during the day indicated the same thing.
It looks more and more as if we are to accomplish something. The only thing in sight calculated to throw a cloud over the future is the attitude of the German press against the whole business here; the most virulent in its attacks being the high Lutheran conservative—and religious!—journal in Berlin, the "Kreuz-Zeitung." Still, it is pleasant to see that eminent newspaper find, for a time, some other object of denunciation than the United States.
In the afternoon drove to Scheveningen and took tea with Count Munster and his daughter. He was somewhat pessimistic, as usual, but came out very strongly in favor of the American view as regards exemption of private property on the high seas. Whether this is really because Germany would derive profit from it, or because she thinks this question a serviceable entering wedge between the United States and Great Britain, there is no telling at present. I am sorry to say that our hopes regarding it are to be dashed, so far as the present conference is concerned. Sundry newspaper letters and articles in the "Times" show clearly that the English Government is strongly opposed to dealing with it here and now; and as France and Russia take the same position, there is no hope for any action, save such as we can take to keep the subject alive and to secure attention to it by some future conference.
AS PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN DELEGATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE OF THE HAGUE: III—1899
We have just had an experience which "adds to the gaiety of nations." Some days since, representatives of what is called "the Young Turkish party" appeared and asked to be heard. They received, generally, the cold shoulder, mainly because the internal condition of Turkey is not one of the things which the conference was asked to discuss; but also because there is a suspicion that these "Young Turks" are enabled to live in luxury at Paris by blackmailing the Sultan, and that their zeal for reform becomes fervid whenever their funds run low, and cools whenever a remittance comes from the Bosphorus. But at last some of us decided to give them a hearing, informally; the main object being to get rid of them. At the time appointed, the delegation appeared in evening dress, and, having been ushered into the room, the spokesman began as follows, very impressively:
"Your Excellencies, ve are ze Young Turkeys."
This was too much for most of us, and I think that, during our whole stay at The Hague thus far, we have never undertaken anything more difficult, physically, than to keep our faces straight during the harangue which followed.
Later, we went with nearly all the other members of the conference to Haarlem, in a special train, by invitation of the burgomaster and town council, to the "Fete Hippique" and the "Fete des Fleurs." We were treated very well indeed, refreshments being served on the grand stand during the performances, which consisted of hurdle races, etc., for which I cared nothing, followed by a procession of peasants in old chaises of various periods, and in the costumes of the various provinces of the Netherlands, which interested me much. The whole closed with a long train of fine equipages superbly decorated with flowers.
Discussing the question of the immunity of private property, not contraband of war, on the high seas, I find that the main argument which our opponents are now using is that, even if the principle were conceded, new and troublesome questions would arise as to what really constitutes contraband of war; that ships themselves would undoubtedly be considered as contraband, since they can be used in conveying troops, coal, supplies, etc.
Having given up the morning of the 5th mainly to work on plans of arbitration, mediation, and the like, I went to the meeting, at the "House in the Wood," of the third great committee of the conference—namely, that on arbitration.
The session went off satisfactorily, our duty being to pass upon the report from the subcommittee which had put the various propositions into shape for our discussion. The report was admirably presented by M. Descamps, and, after considerable discussion of details, was adopted in all essential features. The matters thus discussed and accepted for presentation to the conference as a whole related:
(1) To a plan for tendering "good offices."
(2) To a plan for examining into international differences.
(3) To the "special mediation" plan.
The last was exceedingly well received, and our delegation has obtained much credit for it. It is the plan of allowing any two nations drifting into war to appoint "seconding nations," who, like "seconds" in a duel, shall attempt to avert the conflict; and, if this be unsuccessful, shall continue acting in the same capacity, and endeavor to arrest the conflict at the earliest moment possible.
Very general good feeling was shown, and much encouragement derived from the fact that these preliminary matters could be dealt with in so amicable and business-like a spirit.
Before the meeting I took a long walk in the garden back of the palace with various gentlemen, among them Mr. van Karnebeek, who discussed admirably with me the question of the exemption of private property from seizure on the high seas. He agreed with me that even if the extreme doctrine now contended for—namely, that which makes ships, coal, provisions, and very nearly everything else, contraband—be pressed, still a first step, such as the exemption of private property from seizure, would be none the less wise, leaving the subordinate questions to be dealt with as they arise.
I afterward called with Dr. Holls at the house of the burgomaster of The Hague, and thanked him for his kindness in tendering us the concert last Saturday, and for various other marks of consideration.
On the whole, matters continue to look encouraging as regards both mediation and arbitration.
In the morning Sir Julian Pauncefote called, and again went over certain details in the American, British, and Russian plans of arbitration, discussing some matters to be stricken out and others to be inserted. He declared his readiness to strike out a feature of his plan to which from the first, I have felt a very great objection—namely, that which, after the tribunal is constituted, allows the contesting parties to call into it and mix with it persons simply chosen by the contestants ad hoc. This seems to me a dilution of the idea of a permanent tribunal, and a means of delay and of complications which may prove unfortunate. It would certainly be said that if the contestants were to be allowed to name two or more judges from outside the tribunal, they might just as well nominate all, and thus save the expense attendant upon a regularly constituted international court chosen by the various governments.
Later in the day I wrote a private letter to the Secretary of State suggesting that our American delegation be authorized to lay a wreath of silver and gold upon the tomb of Grotius at Delft, not only as a tribute to the man who set in motion the ideas which, nearly three hundred years later, have led to the assembling of this conference, but as an indication of our gratitude to the Netherlands Government for its hospitality and the admirable provision it has made for our work here, and also as a sign of good-will toward the older governments of the world on the occasion of their first meeting with delegates from the new world, in a conference treating of matters most important to all nations.
In the evening to Mr. van Karnebeek's reception, and there met Mr. Raffalovitch, one of the Russian secretaries of the conference, who, as councilor of the Russian Empire and corresponding member of the French Institute, has a European reputation, and urged him to aid in striking out the clause in the plan which admits judges other than those of the court. My hope is that it will disappear in the subcommittee and not come up in the general meeting of the third great committee.
The American delegation in the afternoon discussed at length the proposals relating to the Brussels Conference rules for the more humane carrying on of war. Considerable difference of opinion has arisen in the section of the conference in which the preliminary debates are held, and Captain Crozier, our representative, has been in some doubt as to the ground to be taken between these opposing views. On one side are those who think it best to go at considerable length into more or less minute restrictions upon the conduct of invaders and invaded. On the other side, M. Bernaert of Belgium, one of the two most eminent men from that country, and others, take the ground that it would be better to leave the whole matter to the general development of humanity in international law. M. de Martens insists that now is the time to settle the matter, rather than leave it to individuals who, in time of war, are likely to be more or less exasperated by accounts of atrocities and to have no adequate time for deciding upon a policy. After considerable discussion by our delegation, the whole matter went over.
In the evening to a great reception at the house of Sir Henry Howard, British minister at this court. It was very brilliant, and the whole afforded an example of John Bull's good sense in providing for his representatives abroad, and enabling them to exercise a social influence on the communities where they are stationed, which rapidly becomes a political influence with the governments to which they are accredited. Sir Henry is provided with a large, attractive house, means to entertain amply, and has been kept in the service long enough to know everybody and to become experienced in the right way of getting at the men he wishes to influence, and of doing the things his government needs to have done. Throughout the whole world this is John Bull's wise way of doing things. At every capital I have visited, including Washington, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Rome, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, the British representative is a man who has been selected with reference to his fitness, kept in the service long enough to give him useful experience, and provided with a good, commodious house and the means to exercise social and, therefore, political influence. The result is that, although, in every country in the world, orators and editors are always howling at John Bull, he everywhere has his way: to use our vernacular, he "gets there," and can laugh in his sleeve at the speeches against him in public bodies, and at the diatribes against him in newspapers. The men who are loudest in such attacks are generally the most delighted to put their legs under the British ambassador's mahogany, or to take their daughters to his receptions and balls, and then quietly to follow the general line of conduct which he favors.
In the morning an interesting visit from M. de Staal, president of the conference. We discussed arbitration plans, Brussels rules and Geneva rules, and, finally, our social debts to the Dutch authorities.
As to the general prospects of arbitration, he expressed the belief that we can, by amalgamating the British, Russian, and American plans, produce a good result.
During the day, many members of the conference having gone to Rotterdam to see the welcoming of the Queen in that city, I took up, with especial care, the Brussels rules for the conduct of war, and the amendments of them now proposed in the conference, some of which have provoked considerable debate. The more I read the proposals now made, the more admirable most of them seem to be, and the more it seems to me that we ought, with a few exceptions, to adopt them. Great Britain declines to sanction them as part of international law, but still agrees to adopt them as a general basis for her conduct in time of war; and even this would be a good thing for us, if we cannot induce our government to go to the length of making them fully binding.
At six o'clock Dr. Holls, who represents us upon the subcommittee on arbitration, came in with most discouraging news. It now appears that the German Emperor is determined to oppose the whole scheme of arbitration, and will have nothing to do with any plan for a regular tribunal, whether as given in the British or the American scheme. This news comes from various sources, and is confirmed by the fact that, in the subcommittee, one of the German delegates, Professor Zorn of Konigsberg, who had become very earnest in behalf of arbitration, now says that he may not be able to vote for it. There are also signs that the German Emperor is influencing the minds of his allies—the sovereigns of Austria, Italy, Turkey, and Roumania—leading them to oppose it.
Curiously enough, in spite of this, Count Nigra, the Italian ambassador at Vienna and head of the Italian delegation, made a vigorous speech showing the importance of the work in which the committee is engaged, urging that the plan be perfected, and seeming to indicate that he will go on with the representatives who favor it. This, coming from perhaps the most earnest ally of Germany, is noteworthy.
At the close of the session Sir Julian Pauncefote informed Dr. Holls that he was about to telegraph his government regarding the undoubted efforts of the German Emperor upon the sovereigns above named, and I decided to cable our State Department, informing them fully as to this change in the condition of affairs.
At eight went to the dinner of our minister, Mr. Newel and found there three ambassadors, De Staal, Munster, and Pauncefote, as well as M. Leon Bourgeois, president of the French delegation; Sir Henry Howard, the British minister; Baron de Bildt, the Swedish minister; and some leading Netherlands statesmen. Had a long talk with M. de Staal and with Sir Julian Pauncefote regarding the state of things revealed this afternoon in the subcommittee on arbitration. M. de Staal has called a meeting of the heads of delegations for Saturday afternoon. Both he and Sir Julian are evidently much vexed by the unfortunate turn things have taken. The latter feels, as I do, that the only thing to be done is to go on and make the plan for arbitration as perfect as possible, letting those of the powers who are willing to do so sign it. I assured him and De Staal that we of the United States would stand by them to the last in the matter.
Late in the evening went to a reception of M. de Beaufort, the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs, and discussed current matters with various people, among them Count Nigra, whom I thanked for his eloquent speech in the afternoon, and Baron de Bildt, who feels as I do, that the right thing for us is to go on, no matter who falls away.
This morning I gave to studies of the various reports sent in from the subcommittees, especially those on arbitration and on the Brussels Conference rules. Both have intensely interested me, my main attention being, of course, centered on the former; but the Brussels rules seem to me of much greater importance now than at first, and my hope is that we shall not only devise a good working plan of arbitration, but greatly humanize the laws of war.
At four o'clock in the afternoon met the four other ambassadors and two or three other heads of delegations, at the rooms of M. de Staal, to discuss the question of relaxing the rules of secrecy as regards the proceedings of committees, etc. The whole original Russian plan of maintaining absolute secrecy has collapsed, just as the representatives from constitutional countries in the beginning said it would. Every day there are published minute accounts in Dutch, French, and English journals which show that, in some way, their representatives obtain enough information to enable them, with such additional things as they can imagine, to make readable reports. The result is that various gentlemen in the conference who formerly favored a policy of complete secrecy find themselves credited with speeches which they did not make, and which they dislike to be considered capable of making.
After a great deal of talk, it was decided to authorize the chairman of each committee to give to the press complete reports, so far as possible, keeping in the background the part taken by individuals.
At six the American delegation met, and the subject of our instructions regarding the presentation of the American view of the immunity of private property on the high seas in time of war was taken up. It was decided to ask some of the leading supporters of this view to meet us at luncheon at 12.30 on Monday, in order to discuss the best way of overcoming the Russian plan of suppressing the matter, and to concert means for getting the whole subject before the full conference.
Instead of going to hear the Bishop of Hereford preach on "Peace," I walked with Dr. Holls to Scheveningen, four miles, to work off a nervous headache and to invite Count Munster to our luncheon on Monday, when we purpose to take counsel together regarding private property on the high seas. He accepted, but was out of humor with nearly all the proceedings of the conference. He is more than ever opposed to arbitration, and declares that, in view of the original Russian programme under which we were called to meet, we have no right to take it up at all, since it was not mentioned. He was decidedly pessimistic regarding the continuance of the sessions, asking me when I thought it would all end; and on my answering that I had not the slightest idea, he said that he was entirely in the dark on the subject; that nobody could tell how long it would last, or how it would break off.
At half-past twelve came our American luncheon to Count Munster, Mr. van Karnebeek, and Baron de Bildt, each of whom is at the head of his delegation,—our purpose being to discuss with them the best manner of getting the subject of immunity of private property at sea, not contraband, before the conference, these gentlemen being especially devoted to such a measure.
All went off very well, full interchange of views took place, and the general opinion was that the best way would be for us, as the only delegation instructed on the subject, to draw up a formal memorial asking that the question be brought before the conference, and sending this to M. de Staal as our president.
Curious things came out during our conversation Baron de Bildt informed me that, strongly as he favored the measure, and prepared as he was to vote for it, he should have to be very careful in discussing it publicly, since his instructions were to avoid, just as far as possible, any clash between the opinions expressed by the Swedish representatives and those of the great powers. Never before have I so thoroughly realized the difficult position which the lesser powers in Europe hold as regards really serious questions.
More surprising was the conversation of Count Munster, he being on one side of me and Mr. van Karnebeek on the other. Bearing in mind that the Emperor William during his long talk with me just before I left Berlin in referring to the approaching Peace Congress had said that he was sending Count Munster because what the conference would most need would be "common sense," and because, in his opinion, Count Munster had "lots of it," some of the count's utterances astonished me. He now came out, as he did the day before in his talk with me, utterly against arbitration, declaring it a "humbug," and that we had no right to consider it, since it was not mentioned in the first proposals from Russia, etc., etc.