A little later, something having been said about telegraphs and telephones, he expressed his belief that they are a curse as regards the relations between nations; that they interfere with diplomacy, and do more harm than good. This did not especially surprise me, for I had heard the same opinions uttered by others; but what did surprise me greatly was to hear him say, when the subject of bacteria and microbes was casually mentioned, that they were "all a modern humbug."
It is clear that, with all his fine qualities,—and he is really a splendid specimen of an old-fashioned German nobleman devoted to the diplomatic service of his country,—he is saturated with the ideas of fifty years ago.
Returning from a drive to Scheveningen with Major Burbank of the United States army, I sketched the first part of a draft for a letter from our delegation to M. de Staal, and at our meeting at six presented it, when it met with general approval. President Low had also sketched a draft which it was thought could be worked very well into the one which I had offered, and so we two were made a subcommittee to prepare the letter in full.
This morning come more disquieting statements regarding Germany. There seems no longer any doubt that the German Emperor is opposing arbitration, and, indeed, the whole work of the conference, and that he will insist on his main allies, Austria and Italy, going with him. Count Nigra, who is personally devoted to arbitration, allowed this in talking with Dr. Holls; and the German delegates—all of whom, with the exception of Count Munster, are favorably inclined to a good arbitration plan—show that they are disappointed.
I had learned from a high imperial official, before I left Berlin, that the Emperor considered arbitration as derogatory to his sovereignty, and I was also well aware, from his conversation, that he was by no means in love with the conference idea; but, in view of his speech at Wiesbaden, and the petitions which had come in to him from Bavaria, I had hoped that he had experienced a "change of heart."
Possibly he might have changed his opinion had not Count Munster been here, reporting to him constantly against every step taken by the conference.
There seems danger of a catastrophe. Those of us who are faithful to arbitration plans will go on and do the best we can; but there is no telling what stumbling-blocks Germany and her allies may put in our way; and, of course, the whole result, without their final agreement, will seem to the world a failure and, perhaps, a farce.
The immediate results will be that the Russian Emperor will become an idol of the "plain people" throughout the world, the German Emperor will be bitterly hated, and the socialists, who form the most dreaded party on the continent of Europe, will be furnished with a thoroughly effective weapon against their rulers.
Some days since I said to a leading diplomatist here, "The ministers of the German Emperor ought to tell him that, should he oppose arbitration, there will be concentrated upon him an amount of hatred which no minister ought to allow a sovereign to incur." To this he answered, "That is true; but there is not a minister in Germany who dares tell him."
This noon our delegation gave a breakfast to sundry members of the conference who are especially interested in an effective plan of arbitration, the principal of these being Count Nigra from Italy; Count Welsersheimb, first delegate of Austria; M. Descamps of Belgium; Baron d'Estournelles of France; and M. Asser of the Netherlands. After some preliminary talk, I read to them the proposal, which Sir Julian had handed me in the morning, for the purpose of obviating the objection to the council of administration in charge of the court of arbitration here in The Hague, which was an important feature of his original plan, but which had been generally rejected as involving expensive machinery. His proposal now is that, instead of a council specially appointed and salaried to watch over and provide for the necessities of the court, such council shall simply be made up of the ministers of sundry powers residing here,—thus doing away entirely with the trouble and expense of a special council.
This I amended by adding the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs as ex-officio president, there being various reasons for this, and among these the fact that, without some such provision, the Netherlands would have no representative in the council.
The plan and my amendment were well received, and I trust that our full and friendly discussion of these and various matters connected with them will produce a good effect in the committees.
Count Nigra expressed himself to me as personally most earnestly in favor of arbitration, but it was clear that his position was complicated by the relations of his country to Germany as one of the Triple Alliance; and the same difficulty was observable in the case of Count Welsersheimb, the representative of Austria, the third ally in the combination of which Germany is the head.
In the course of our breakfast, Baron d'Estournelles made a statement which I think impressed every person present. It was that, as he was leaving Paris, Jaures, the famous socialist, whom he knows well, said to him, "Go on; do all you can at The Hague, but you will labor in vain: you can accomplish nothing there, your schemes will fail, and we shall triumph," or words to that effect. So clear an indication as this of the effect which a failure of the conference to produce a good scheme of arbitration will have in promoting the designs of the great international socialist and anarchist combinations cannot fail to impress every thinking man.
Dined in the evening with the French minister at this court, and very pleasantly. There were present M. Leon Bourgeois, the French first delegate, and the first delegates from Japan, China, Mexico, and Turkey, with subordinate delegates from other countries. Sitting next the lady at the right of the host, I found her to be the wife of the premier, M. Piersoon, minister of finance, and very agreeable. I took in to dinner Madame Behrends, wife of the Russian charge, evidently a very thoughtful and accomplished woman, who was born, as she told me, of English parents in the city of New York when her father and mother were on their way to England. I found her very interesting, and her discussions of Russia, as well as of England and the Netherlands, especially good.
In the smoking-room I had a long talk with M. Leon Bourgeois, who, according to the papers, is likely to be appointed minister of foreign affairs in the new French cabinet. He dwelt upon the difficulties of any plan for a tribunal, but seemed ready to do what he could for the compromise plan, which is all that, during some time past, we have hoped to adopt.
Early this morning Count Munster called, wishing to see me especially, and at once plunged into the question of the immunity of private property from seizure on the high seas. He said that he had just received instructions from his government to join us heartily in bringing the question before the conference; that his government, much as it inclines to favor the principle, could not yet see its way to commit itself fully; that its action must, of course, depend upon the conduct of other powers in the matter, as foreshadowed by discussions in the conference, but that he was to aid us in bringing it up.
I told him I was now preparing a draft of a memorial to the conference giving the reasons why the subject ought to be submitted, and that he should have it as soon as completed.
This matter being for the time disposed of, we took up the state of the arbitration question, and the consequences of opposition by Germany and her two allies to every feasible plan.
He was very much in earnest, and declared especially against compulsory arbitration. To this I answered that the plan thus far adopted contemplated entirely voluntary arbitration, with the exception that an obligatory system was agreed upon as regards sundry petty matters in which arbitration would assist all the states concerned; and that if he disliked this latter feature, but would agree to the others, we would go with him in striking it out, though we should vastly prefer to retain it.
He said, "Yes; you have already stricken out part of it in the interest of the United States," referring to the features concerning the Monroe Doctrine, the regulation of canals, rivers, etc.
"Very true," I answered; "and if there are any special features which affect unfavorably German policy or interests, move to strike them out, and we will heartily support you."
He then dwelt in his usual manner on his special hobby, which is that modern nations are taking an entirely false route in preventing the settlement of their difficulties by trained diplomatists, and intrusting them to arbitration by men inexperienced in international matters, who really cannot be unprejudiced or uninfluenced; and he spoke with especial contempt of the plan for creating a bureau, composed, as he said, of university professors and the like, to carry on the machinery of the tribunal.
Here I happened to have a trump card. I showed him Sir Julian Pauncefote's plan to substitute a council composed of all the ministers of the signatory powers residing at The Hague, with my amendment making the Dutch minister of foreign affairs its president. This he read and said he liked it; in fact, it seemed to remove a mass of prejudice from his mind.
I then spoke very earnestly to him—more so than ever before—about the present condition of affairs. I told him that the counselors in whom the Emperor trusted—such men as himself and the principal advisers of his Majesty—ought never to allow their young sovereign to be exposed to the mass of hatred, obloquy, and opposition which would converge upon him from all nations in case he became known to the whole world as the sovereign who had broken down the conference and brought to naught the plan of arbitration. I took the liberty of telling him what the Emperor said to me regarding the count himself—namely, that what the conference was most likely to need was good common sense, and that he was sending Count Munster because he possessed that. This seemed to please him, and I then went on to say that he of all men ought to prevent, by all means, placing the young Emperor in such a position. I dwelt on the gifts and graces of the young sovereign, expressed my feeling of admiration for his noble ambitions, for his abilities, for the statesmanship he had recently shown, for his grasp of public affairs, and for his way of conciliating all classes, and then dwelt on the pity of making such a monarch an object of hatred in all parts of the world.
He seemed impressed by this, but said the calling of the conference was simply a political trick—the most detestable trick ever practised. It was done, he said mainly to embarrass Germany, to glorify the young Russian Emperor, and to put Germany and nations which Russia dislikes into a false position. To this I answered, "If this be the case, why not trump the Russian trick? or, as the poker-players say, 'Go them one better,' take them at their word, support a good tribunal of arbitration more efficient even than the Russians have dared to propose; let your sovereign throw himself heartily into the movement and become a recognized leader and power here; we will all support him, and to him will come the credit of it.
"Then, in addition to this, support us as far as you can as regards the immunity of private property on the high seas, and thus you will gain another great point; for, owing to her relations to France, Russia has not dared commit herself to this principle as otherwise she doubtless would have done, but, on the contrary, has opposed any consideration of it by the conference.
"Next, let attention be called to the fact—and we will gladly aid in making the world fully aware of it—that Germany, through you, has constantly urged the greatest publicity of our proceedings, while certain other powers have insisted on secrecy until secrecy has utterly broken down, and then have made the least concession possible. In this way you will come out of the conference triumphant, and the German Emperor will be looked upon as, after all, the arbiter of Europe. Everybody knows that France has never wished arbitration, and that Russian statesmen are really, at heart, none too ardent for it. Come forward, then, and make the matter thoroughly your own; and, having done this, maintain your present attitude strongly as regards the two other matters above named,—that is, the immunity from seizure of private property on the high seas, and the throwing open of our proceedings,—and the honors of the whole conference is yours."
He seemed impressed by all this, and took a different tone from any which has been noted in him since we came together. I then asked him if he had heard Baron d'Estournelles's story. He said that he had not. I told it to him, as given in my diary yesterday; and said, "You see there what the failure to obtain a result which is really so much longed for by all the peoples of the world will do to promote the designs of the socialistic forces which are so powerful in all parts of the Continent, and nowhere more so than in Germany and the nations allied with her."
This, too, seemed to impress him. I then went on to say, "This is not all. By opposing arbitration, you not only put a club into the hands of socialists, anarchists, and all the other anti-social forces, but you alienate the substantial middle class and the great body of religious people in all nations. You have no conception of the depth of feeling on this subject which exists in my own country, to say nothing of others; and if Germany stands in the way, the distrust of her which Americans have felt, and which as minister and ambassador at Berlin I have labored so hard to dispel, will be infinitely increased. It will render more and more difficult the maintenance of proper relations between the two countries. Your sovereign will be looked upon as the enemy of all nations, and will be exposed to every sort of attack and calumny, while the young Emperor of Russia will become a popular idol throughout the world, since he will represent to the popular mind, and even to the minds of great bodies of thinking and religious people, the effort to prevent war and to solve public questions as much as possible without bloodshed; while the Emperor of Germany will represent to their minds the desire to solve all great questions by force. Mind, I don't say this is a just view: I only say that it is the view sure to be taken, and that by resisting arbitration here you are playing the game of Russia, as you yourself have stated it—that is, you are giving Russia the moral support of the whole world at the expense of the neighboring powers, and above all of Germany."
I then took up an argument which, it is understood, has had much influence with the Emperor,—namely, that arbitration must be in derogation of his sovereignty,—and asked, "How can any such derogation be possible? Your sovereign would submit only such questions to the arbitration tribunal as he thought best; and, more than all that, you have already committed yourselves to the principle. You are aware that Bismarck submitted the question of the Caroline Islands for arbitration to the Pope, and the first Emperor William consented to act as arbiter between the United States and Great Britain in the matter of the American northwestern boundary. How could arbitration affect the true position of the sovereign? Take, for example, matters as they now stand between Germany and the United States. There is a vast mass of petty questions which constantly trouble the relations between the two countries. These little questions embitter debates, whether in your Reichstag on one hand, or in our Congress on the other, and make the position of the Berlin and Washington governments especially difficult. The American papers attack me because I yield too much to Germany, the German papers attack Von Bulow because he yields too much to America, and these little questions remain. If Von Bulow and I were allowed to sit down and settle them, we could do so at short notice; but behind him stands the Reichstag, and behind our Secretary of State and myself stands the American Congress."
I referred to such questions as the tonnage dues, the additional tariff on bounty-promoted sugar, Samoa, the most-favored-nation clause, in treaties between Germany and the United States, in relation to the same clause in sundry treaties between the United States and other powers, and said, "What a blessing it would be if all these questions, of which both governments are tired, and which make the more important questions constantly arising between the two countries so difficult to settle, could be sent at once to a tribunal and decided one way or the other! In themselves they amount to little. It is not at all unlikely that most of them—possibly all of them—would be decided in favor of Germany; but the United States would acquiesce at once in the decision by a tribunal such as is proposed. And this is just what would take place between Germany and other nations. A mass of vexatious questions would be settled by the tribunal, and the sovereign and his government would thus be relieved from parliamentary chicanery based, not upon knowledge, but upon party tactics or personal grudges or inherited prejudices."
He seemed now more inclined to give weight to these considerations, and will, I hope, urge his government to take a better view than that which for some time past has seemed to be indicated by the conduct of its representatives here.
In the afternoon I went to the five-o'clock tea of the Baroness d'Estournelles, found a great crowd there, including the leading delegates, and all anxious as to the conduct of Germany. Meeting the Baroness von Suttner who has been writing such earnest books in behalf of peace, I urged her to write with all her might to influence public prints in Austria, Italy, and Germany in behalf of arbitration, telling her that we are just arriving at the parting of the ways, and that everything possible must be done now, or all may be lost. To this she responded very heartily, and I have no doubt will use her pen with much effect.
In the evening went to a great reception at the house of the Austrian ambassador, M. Okolicsanyi. There was a crush. Had a long talk with Mr. Stead, telling him D'Estournelles's story, and urging him to use it in every way to show what a boon the failure of arbitration would be to the anti-social forces in all parts of Europe.
In the intervals during the day I busied myself in completing the memorial to the conference regarding the immunity from seizure of private property at sea. If we cannot secure it now, we must at least pave the way for its admission by a future international conference.
AS PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN DELEGATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE OF THE HAGUE: IV—1899
June 16. This morning Count Munster called and seemed much excited by the fact that he had received a despatch from Berlin in which the German Government—which, of course, means the Emperor—had strongly and finally declared against everything like an arbitration tribunal. He was clearly disconcerted by this too literal acceptance of his own earlier views, and said that he had sent to M. de Staal insisting that the meeting of the subcommittee on arbitration, which had been appointed for this day (Friday), should be adjourned on some pretext until next Monday; "for," said he, "if the session takes place to-day, Zorn must make the declaration in behalf of Germany which these new instructions order him to make, and that would be a misfortune." I was very glad to see this evidence of change of heart in the count, and immediately joined him in securing the adjournment he desired. The meeting of the subcommittee has therefore been deferred, the reason assigned, as I understand, being that Baron d'Estournelles is too much occupied to be present at the time first named. Later Count Munster told me that he had decided to send Professor Zorn to Berlin at once in order to lay the whole matter before the Foreign Office and induce the authorities to modify the instructions. I approved this course strongly, whereupon he suggested that I should do something to the same purpose, and this finally ended in the agreement that Holls should go with Zorn.
In view of the fact that Von Bulow had agreed that the German delegates should stand side by side with us in the conference, I immediately prepared a letter of introduction and a personal letter to Bulow for Holls to take, and he started about five in the afternoon. This latter is as follows:
June 16, 1899 DEAR BARON VON BULOW:
I trust that, in view of the kindly relations which exist between us, succeeding as they do similar relations begun twenty years ago with your honored father, you will allow me to write you informally, but fully and frankly, regarding the interests of both our governments in the peace conference. The relations between your delegates and ours have, from the first, been of the kindest; your assurances on this point have been thoroughly carried out. But we seem now to be at "the parting of the ways," and on the greatest question submitted to us,—the greatest, as I believe, that any conference or any congress has taken up in our time,—namely, the provision for a tribunal of arbitration.
It is generally said here that Germany is opposed to the whole thing, that she is utterly hostile to anything like arbitration, and that she will do all in her power, either alone or through her allies, to thwart every feasible plan of providing for a tribunal which shall give some hope to the world of settling some of the many difficulties between nations otherwise than by bloodshed.
No rational man here expects all wars to be ended by anything done here; no one proposes to submit to any such tribunal questions involving the honor of any nation or the inviolability of its territory, or any of those things which nations feel instinctively must be reserved for their own decision. Nor does any thinking man here propose obligatory arbitration in any case, save, possibly, in sundry petty matters where such arbitration would be a help to the ordinary administration of all governments; and, even as to these, they can be left out of the scheme if your government seriously desires it.
The great thing is that there be a provision made or easily calling together a court of arbitration which shall be seen of all nations, indicate a sincere desire to promote peace, and, in some measure, relieve the various peoples of the fear which so heavily oppresses them all—the dread of an outburst of war at any moment.
I note that it has been believed by many that the motives of Russia in proposing this conference were none too good,—indeed, that they were possibly perfidious; but, even if this be granted, how does this affect the conduct of Germany? Should it not rather lead Germany to go forward boldly and thoughtfully, to accept the championship of the idea of arbitration, and to take the lead in the whole business here?
Germany, if she will do this, will certainly stand before the whole world as the leading power of Europe; for she can then say to the whole world that she has taken the proposal of Russia au serieux; has supported a thoroughly good plan of arbitration; has done what Russia and France have not been willing to do,—favored the presentation to the conference of a plan providing for the immunity of private property from seizure on the high seas during war,—and that while, as regards the proceedings of the conference, Russia has wished secrecy, Germany has steadily, from the first, promoted frankness and openness.
With these three points in your favor, you can stand before the whole world as the great Continental power which has stood up f or peace as neither Russia nor France has been able to do. On the other hand, if you do not do this, if you put a stumbling-block in the way of arbitration, what results? The other powers will go on and create as good a tribunal as possible, and whatever failure may come will be imputed to Germany and to its Emperor. In any case, whether failure or success may come, the Emperor of Russia will be hailed in all parts of the world as a deliverer and, virtually, as a saint, while there will be a wide-spread outburst of hatred against the German Emperor.
And this will come not alone from the anti-social forces which are hoping that the conference may fail, in order that thereby they may have a new weapon in their hands, but it will also come from the middle and substantial classes of other nations.
It is sure to make the relations between Germany and the United States, which have been of late improving infinitely more bitter than they have ever before been and it is no less sure to provoke the most bitter hatred of the German monarchy in nearly all other nations.
Should his advisers permit so noble and so gifted a sovereign to incur this political storm of obloquy, this convergence of hatred upon him? Should a ruler of such noble ambitions and such admirable powers be exposed to this? I fully believe that he should not, and that his advisers should beg him not to place himself before the world as the antagonist of a plan to which millions upon millions in all parts of the world are devoted.
From the United States come evidences of a feeling wide-spread and deep on this subject beyond anything I have ever known. This very morning I received a prayer set forth by the most conservative of all Protestant religious bodies—namely, the American branch of the Anglican Church—to be said in all churches, begging the Almighty to favor the work of the peace conference; and this is what is going on in various other American churches, and in vast numbers of households. Something of the same sort is true in Great Britain and, perhaps in many parts of the Continent.
Granted that expectations are overwrought, still this fact indicates that here is a feeling which cannot be disregarded.
Moreover, to my certain knowledge, within a month, a leading socialist in France has boasted to one of the members of this conference that it would end in failure; that the monarchs and governments of Europe do not wish to diminish bloodshed; that they would refuse to yield to the desire of the peoples for peace, and that by the resentment thus aroused a new path to victory would be open to socialism.
Grant, too, that this is overstated, still such a declaration is significant.
I know it has been said that arbitration is derogatory to sovereignty. I really fail to see how this can be said in Germany. Germany has already submitted a great political question between herself and Spain to arbitration, and the Emperor William I was himself the arbiter between the United States and Great Britain in the matter of our northwestern boundary.
Bear in mind again that it is only VOLUNTARY arbitration that is proposed, and that it will always rest with the German Emperor to decide what questions he will submit to the tribunal and what he will not.
It has also been said that arbitration proceedings would give the enemies of Germany time to put themselves in readiness for war; but if this be feared in any emergency, the Emperor and his government are always free to mobilize the German army at once.
As you are aware, what is seriously proposed here now, in the way of arbitration, is not a tribunal constantly in session, but a system under which each of the signatory powers shall be free to choose, for a limited time, from an international court, say two or more judges who can go to The Hague if their services are required, but to be paid only while actually in session here; such payment to be made by the litigating parties.
As to the machinery, the plan is that there shall be a dignified body composed of the diplomatic representatives of the various signatory powers, to sit at The Hague, presided over by the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs, and to select and to control such secretaries and officers as may be necessary for the ordinary conduct of affairs.
Such council would receive notice from powers having differences with each other which are willing to submit the questions between them to a court, and would then give notice to the judges selected by the parties. The whole of the present plan, except some subordinate features of little account, which can easily be stricken out, is voluntary. There is nothing whatever obligatory about it. Every signatory power is free to resort to such a tribunal or not, as it may think best. Surely a concession like this may well be made to the deep and wide sentiment throughout the world in favor of some possible means of settling controversies between nations other than by bloodshed.
Pardon me for earnestly pressing upon you these facts and considerations. I beg that you will not consider me as going beyond my province. I present them to you as man to man, not only in the interest of good relations between Germany and the United States, but of interests common to all the great nations of the earth,—of their common interest in giving something like satisfaction to a desire so earnest and wide-spread as that which has been shown in all parts of the world for arbitration.
I remain, dear Baron von Bulow, Most respectfully and sincerely yours, (Sgd.) ANDREW D. WHITE.
P. S. Think how easily, if some such tribunal existed, your government and mine could refer to it the whole mass of minor questions which our respective parliamentary bodies have got control of, and entangled in all sorts of petty prejudices and demagogical utterances; for instance, Samoa, the tonnage dues, the sugar-bounty question, the most-favored-nation clause, etc., etc., which keep the two countries constantly at loggerheads. Do you not see that submission of such questions to such a tribunal as is now proposed, so far from being derogatory to sovereignty, really relieves the sovereign and the Foreign Office of the most vexatious fetters and limitations of parliamentarianism. It is not at all unlikely that such a court would decide in your favor; and if so, every thoughtful American would say, "Well and good; it appears that, in spite of all the speeches in Congress, we were wrong." And the matter would then be ended with the good-will of all parties. (Sgd.) A.D.W.
It is indeed a crisis in the history of the conference, and perhaps in the history of Germany. I can only hope that Bulow will give careful attention to the considerations which Munster and myself press upon him.
Later in the day Sir Julian Pauncefote called, evidently much vexed that the sitting of the subcommittee had been deferred, and even more vexed since he had learned from De Staal the real reason. He declared that he was opposed to stringing out the conference much longer; that the subcommittee could get along perfectly well without Dr. Zorn; that if Germany did not wish to come in, she could keep out; etc., etc. He seemed to forget that Germany's going out means the departure of Austria and Italy, to say nothing of one or two minor powers, and therefore the bringing to naught of the conference. I did not think it best to say anything about Molls's departure, but soothed him as much as I could by dwelling on the success of his proposal that the permanent council here shall be composed of the resident diplomatic representatives.
The other members of our commission, and especially President Low, were at first very much opposed to Dr. Holls's going, on the ground that it might be considered an interference in a matter pertaining to Germany; but I persisted in sending him, agreeing to take all the responsibility, and declaring that he should go simply as a messenger from me, as the American ambassador at Berlin, to the imperial minister of foreign affairs.
The morning was given largely to completing my draft of our memorial to the conference regarding the immunity of private property in time of war from seizure on the high seas.
In the afternoon drove to Scheveningen to make sundry official visits, and in the evening to the great festival given by the Netherlands Government to the conference.
Its first feature was a series of tableaux representing some of the most famous pictures in the Dutch galleries the most successful of all being Rembrandt's "Night Watch." Jan Steen's "Wedding Party" was also very beautiful. Then came peasant dances given, in the midst of the great hall, by persons in the costumes of all the different provinces. These were characteristic and interesting, some of them being wonderfully quaint.
The violinist of the late King, Johannes Wolff, played some solos in a masterly way.
The music by the great military band, especially the hymn of William of Nassau and the Dutch and Russian national anthems, was splendidly rendered, and the old Dutch provincial music played in connection with the dances and tableaux was also noteworthy.
It was an exceedingly brilliant assemblage, and the whole festival from first to last a decided success.
June 18, Sunday.
Went to Leyden to attend service at St. Peter's. Both the church and its monuments are interesting. Visited also the church of St. Pancras, a remarkable specimen of Gothic architecture, and looked upon the tomb of Van der Werf, the brave burgomaster who defended the town against the Spaniards during the siege.
At the university I was much interested in the public hall where degrees are conferred, and above all in the many portraits of distinguished professors. Lingered next in the botanical gardens back of the university, which are very beautiful.
Then to the Museum of Antiquities, which is remarkably rich in Egyptian and other monuments. Roman art is also very fully represented.
Thence home, and, on arriving, found, of all men in the world, Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of our House of Representatives. Mr. Newel, our minister, took us both for a drive to Scheveningen, and Mr. Reed's conversation was exceedingly interesting; he is well read in history and, apparently, in every field of English literature. There is a bigness, a heartiness, a shrewdness, and a genuineness about him which greatly attract me.
Called on M. de Staal to show him Holls's telegram from Berlin, which is encouraging. De Staal thinks that we may have to give up the tenth section of the arbitration plan, which includes obligatory arbitration in sundry minor matters; but while I shall be very sorry to see this done, we ought to make the sacrifice if it will hold Germany, Italy, and Austria to us.
A little later received a hearty telegram from the Secretary of State authorizing our ordering the wreath of silver and gold and placing it on the tomb of Grotius. Telegraphed and wrote Major Allen at Berlin full directions on the subject. I am determined that the tribute shall be worthy of our country, of its object, and of the occasion.
In the afternoon took Speaker Reed, with his wife and daughter, through the "House in the Wood," afterward through the grounds, which are more beautiful than ever, and then to Delft, where we visited the tombs of William the Silent and Grotius, and finally the house in which William was assassinated. It was even more interesting to me than during either of my former visits, and was evidently quite as interesting to Mr. Reed.
At six attended a long meeting of the American delegation, which elaborated the final draft of our communication to M. de Staal on the immunity of private property on the high seas. Various passages were stricken out, some of them—and, indeed, one of the best—in deference to the ideas of Captain Mahan, who, though he is willing, under instructions from the government, to join in presenting the memorial, does not wish to sign anything which can possibly be regarded as indicating a personal belief in the establishment of such immunity. His is the natural view of a sailor; but the argument with which he supports it does not at all convince me. It is that during war we should do everything possible to weaken and worry the adversary, in order that he may be the sooner ready for peace; but this argument proves too much, since it would oblige us, if logically carried out, to go back to the marauding and atrocities of the Thirty Years' War.
Went to the session of one of the committees at the "House in the Wood," and showed Mr. van Karnebeek our private-property memorial, which he read, and on which he heartily complimented us.
I then made known to him our proposal to lay a wreath on the tomb of Grotius, and with this he seemed exceedingly pleased, saying that the minister of foreign affairs, M. de Beaufort, would be especially delighted, since he is devoted to the memory of Grotius, and delivered the historical address when the statue in front of the great church at Delft was unveiled.
A little later submitted the memorial; as previously agreed upon, to Count Munster, who also approved it.
Holls telegraphs me from Berlin that he has been admirably received by the chancellor, Prince Hohenlohe, and by Baron von Bulow, and that he is leaving for Hamburg to see the Emperor.
At four P.M. to a meeting of the full conference to receive report on improvements and extension of the Red Cross rules, etc. This was adopted in a happy-go-lucky unparliamentary way, for the eminent diplomatist who presides over the conference still betrays a Russian lack of acquaintance with parliamentary proceedings. So begins the first full movement of the conference in the right direction; and it is a good beginning.
Walked home through the beautiful avenues of the park with Mr. van Karnebeek and Baron d'Estournelles, who is also a charming man. He has been a minister plenipotentiary, but is now a member of the French Chamber of Deputies and of the conference.
Early in the morning received a report from Holls, who arrived from Hamburg late last night. His talks with Bulow and Prince Hohenlohe had been most encouraging. Bulow has sent to the Emperor my long private letter to himself, earnestly urging the acceptance by Germany of our plan of arbitration. Prince Hohenlohe seems to have entered most cordially into our ideas, giving Holls a card which would admit him to the Emperor, and telegraphing a request that his Majesty see him. But the Emperor was still upon his yacht, at sea, and Holls could stay no longer. Bulow is trying to make an appointment for him to meet the Emperor at the close of the week.
Early in the afternoon went with Minister Newel and Mr. Low to call on M. de Beaufort regarding plans for the Grotius celebration, on July 4, at Delft. It was in general decided that we should have the ceremony in the great church at eleven o 'clock, with sundry speeches, and that at half-past twelve the American delegation should give a luncheon to all the invited guests in the town hall opposite.
Holls tells me that last night, at the dinner of the president of the Austrian delegation, he met Munster, who said to him, "I can get along with Hohenlohe, and also with Bulow, but not with those d—d lawyers in the Foreign Office" ("Mit Hohenlohe kann ich auskommen, mit Bulow auch, aber mit diesen verdammten Juristen im Auswartigen Amt, nicht.").
Up at four o'clock and at ten attended a session of the first section at the "House in the Wood." Very interesting were the discussions regarding bullets and asphyxiating bombs. As to the former, Sir John Ardagh of the British delegation repelled earnestly the charges made regarding the British bullets used in India, and offered to substitute for the original proposal one which certainly would be much more effective in preventing unnecessary suffering and death; but the Russians seemed glad to score a point against Great Britain, and Sir John's proposal was voted down, its only support being derived from our own delegation. Captain Crozier, our military delegate, took an active part in supporting Sir John Ardagh, but the majority against us was overwhelming.
As to asphyxiating bombs, Captain Mahan spoke at length against the provision to forbid them: his ground being that not the slightest thing had yet been done looking to such an invention; that, even if there had been, their use would not be so bad as the use of torpedoes against ships of war; that asphyxiating men by means of deleterious gases was no worse than asphyxiating them with water; indeed, that the former was the less dangerous of the two, since the gases used might simply incapacitate men for a short time, while the blowing up of a ship of war means death to all or nearly all of those upon it.
To this it was answered—and, as it seemed to me, with force—that asphyxiating bombs might be used against towns for the destruction of vast numbers of non-combatants, including women and children, while torpedoes at sea are used only against the military and naval forces of the enemy. The original proposal was carried by a unanimous vote, save ours. I am not satisfied with our attitude on this question; but what can a layman do when he has against him the foremost contemporary military and naval experts? My hope is that the United States will yet stand with the majority on the record.
I stated afterward in a bantering way to Captain Mahan, as well as others, that while I could not support any of the arguments that had been made in favor of allowing asphyxiating bombs, there was one which somewhat appealed to me—namely, that the dread of them might do something to prevent the rush of the rural population to the cities, and the aggregation of the poorer classes in them, which is one of the most threatening things to modern society, and also a second argument that such bombs would bring home to warlike stay-at-home orators and writers the realities of war.
At noon received the French translation of our memorial to De Staal, but found it very imperfect throughout, and in some parts absolutely inadmissible; so I worked with Baron de Bildt, president of the Swedish delegation here, all the afternoon in revising it.
At six the American delegation met and chose me for their orator at the approaching Grotius festival at Delft. I naturally feel proud to discharge a duty of this kind, and can put my heart into it, for Grotius has long been to me almost an object of idolatry, and his main works a subject of earnest study. There are few men in history whom I so deeply venerate. Twenty years ago, when minister at Berlin, I sent an eminent American artist to Holland and secured admirable copies of the two best portraits of the great man. One of these now hangs in the Law Library of Cornell University, and the other over my work-table at the Berlin Embassy.
At work all the morning on letters and revising final draft of memorial on immunity of private property at sea, and lunched afterward at the "House in the Wood" to talk it over with Baron de Bildt.
At the same table met M. de Martens, who has just returned by night to his work here, after presiding a day or two over the Venezuela arbitration tribunal at Paris. He told me that Sir Richard Webster, in opening the case, is to speak for sixteen days, and De Martens added that he himself had read our entire Venezuelan report, as well as the other documents on the subject which form quite a large library. And yet we do not include men like him in "the working-classes"!
In the evening to a reception at the house of M. de Beaufort, minister of foreign affairs, and was cordially greeted by him and his wife, both promising that they would accept our invitation to Delft. I took in to the buffet the wife of the present Dutch prime minister, who also expressed great interest in our proposal, and declared her intention of being present.
Count Zanini, the Italian minister and delegate here, gave me a comical account of two speeches in the session of the first section this morning; one being by a delegate from Persia, Mirza Riza Khan, who is minister at St. Petersburg. His Persian Excellency waxed eloquent over the noble qualities of the Emperor of Russia, and especially over his sincerity as shown by the fact that when his Excellency tumbled from his horse at a review, his Majesty sent twice to inquire after his health. The whole effect upon the conference was to provoke roars of laughter.
But the great matter of the day was the news, which has not yet been made public, that Prince Hohenlohe, the German chancellor, has come out strongly for the arbitration tribunal, and has sent instructions here accordingly. This is a great gain, and seems to remove one of the worst stumbling-blocks. But we will have to pay for this removal, probably, by giving up section 10 of the present plan, which includes a system of obligatory arbitration in various minor matters,—a system which would be of use to the world in many ways. While the American delegation, as stated in my letter which Holls took to Bulow, and which has been forwarded to the Emperor, will aid in throwing out of the arbitration plan everything of an obligatory nature, if Germany insists upon it, I learn that the Dutch Government is much opposed to this concession, and may publicly protest against it.
A curious part of the means used in bringing about this change of opinion was the pastoral letter, elsewhere referred to, issued by the Protestant Episcopal bishop of Texas, calling for prayers throughout the State for the success of the conference in its efforts to diminish the horrors of war. This pastoral letter, to which I referred in my letter to Minister von Bulow, I intrusted to Holls, authorizing him to use it as he thought fit. He showed it to Prince Hohenlohe, and the latter, although a Roman Catholic, was evidently affected by it, and especially by the depth and extent of the longing for peace which it showed. It is perhaps an interesting example of an indirect "answer to prayer," since it undoubtedly strengthened the feelings in the prince chancellor's mind which led him to favor arbitration.
Sent to M. de Staal, as president of the conference, the memorial relating to the exemption of private property, not contraband of war, from capture on the high seas. Devoted the morning to blocking out my Grotius address, and afterward drove with Holls to Delft to look over the ground for our Fourth-of-July festival. The town hall is interesting and contains, among other portraits, one which is evidently a good likeness of Grotius; the only difficulty is that, for our intended luncheon, the rooms, though beautiful, seem inadequate.
Thence to the church, and after looking over that part of it near the monuments, with reference to the Grotius ceremony, went into the organ-loft with the organist. There I listened for nearly an hour while he and Holls played finely on that noble instrument; and as I sat and looked down over the church and upon the distant monuments, the old historic scenes of four hundred years ago came up before me, with memories almost overpowering of my first visit thirty-five years ago. And all then with me are now dead.
At nine in the morning off with Holls to Rotterdam, and on arriving took the tram through the city to the steamboat wharf, going thence by steamer to Dort. Arrived, just before the close of service, at the great church where various sessions of the synod were held. The organ was very fine; the choir-stalls, where those wretched theologians wrangled through so many sessions and did so much harm to their own country and others, were the only other fine things in the church, and they were much dilapidated. I could not but reflect bitterly on the monstrous evils provoked by these men who sat so long there spinning a monstrous theology to be substituted for the teachings of Christ himself.
Thence back to The Hague and to Scheveningen, and talked over conference matters with Count Munster. Received telegrams from Count von Bulow in answer to mine congratulating him on his promotion, also one from Baron von Mumm, the German minister at Luxemburg, who goes temporarily to Washington.
At work all the morning on my Grotius address Lunched at the "House in the Wood," and walked to town with sundry delegates. In the afternoon went to a "tea" at the house of Madame Boreel and met a number of charming people; but the great attraction was the house, which is that formerly occupied by John De Witt—that from which he went to prison and to assassination. Here also Motley lived, and I was shown the room in which a large part of his history was written, and where Queen Sophia used to discuss Dutch events and personages with him.
The house is beautiful, spacious, and most charmingly decorated, many of the ornaments and paintings having been placed there in the time of De Witt.
At all sorts of work during the morning, and then, on invitation of President Low, went with the other members of the delegation to Haarlem, where we saw the wonderful portraits by Frans Hals, which impressed me more than ever, and heard the great organ. It has been rebuilt since I was there thirty-five years ago; but it is still the same great clumsy machine, and very poorly played,—that is, with no spirit, and without any effort to exhibit anything beyond the ordinary effects for which any little church organ would do as well.
In the evening dined with Count Zanini, the Italian minister and delegate, and discussed French matters with Baron d'Estournelles. He represents the best type of French diplomatist, and is in every way attractive.
Afterward to Mr. van Karnebeek's reception, meeting various people in a semi-satisfactory way.
In the morning, in order to work off the beginnings of a headache, I went to Rotterdam and walked until noon about the streets and places, recalling my former visit, which came very vividly before me as I gazed upon the statue of Erasmus, and thought upon his life here. No man in history has had more persistent injustice done him. If my life were long enough I would gladly use my great collection of Erasmiana in illustrating his services to the world. To say nothing of other things, the modern "Higher Criticism" has its roots in his work.
Engaged on the final revision of my Grotius speech, and on various documents.
At noon to the "House in the Wood" for lunch, and afterward took a walk in the grounds with Beldiman, the Roumanian delegate, who explained to me the trouble in Switzerland over the vote on the Red Cross Conference.
It appears that whereas Switzerland initiated the Red Cross movement, has ever since cherished it, and has been urged by Italy and other powers to take still further practical measures for it, the Dutch delegation recently interposed, secured for one of their number the presidency of the special conference, and thus threw out my Berlin colleague, Colonel Roth, who had been previously asked to take the position and had accepted it, with the result that the whole matter has been taken out of the hands of Switzerland, where it justly belonged, and put under the care of the Netherlands. This has provoked much ill feeling in Switzerland, and there is especial astonishment at the fact that when Beldiman moved an amendment undoing this unjust arrangement it was, by some misunderstanding lost, and that therefore there has been perpetuated what seems much like an injustice against Switzerland. I promised to exert myself to have the matter rectified so far as the American delegation was concerned, and later was successful in doing so.
In the evening dined at Minister Newel's. Sat between Minister Okolicsanyi of the Austrian delegation, and Count Welsersheimb, the chairman of that delegation, and had interesting talks with them, with the Duke of Tetuan, and others. It appears that the Duke, who is a very charming, kindly man, has, like myself, a passion both for cathedral architecture and for organ music; he dwelt much upon Burgos, which he called the gem of Spanish cathedrals.
Thence to the final reception at the house of M. de Beaufort, minister of foreign affairs, who showed me a contemporary portrait of Grotius which displays the traits observable in the copies which Burleigh painted for me twenty years ago at Amsterdam and Leyden. Talked with Sir Julian Pauncefote regarding the Swiss matter; he had abstained from voting for the reason that he had no instructions in the premises.
In the morning Major Allen, military attache of our embassy at Berlin, arrived, bringing the Grotius wreath. Under Secretary Hay's permission, I had given to one of the best Berlin silversmiths virtually carte blanche, and the result is most satisfactory. The wreath is very large, being made up, on one side, of a laurel branch with leaves of frosted silver and berries of gold, and, on the other, of an oak branch with silver leaves and gold acorns, both boughs being tied together at the bottom by a large knot of ribbon in silver gilded, bearing the arms of the Netherlands and the United States on enameled shields, and an inscription as follows:
To the Memory of HUGO GROTIUS; In Reverence and Gratitude, From the United States of America; On the Occasion of the International Peace Conference of The Hague. July 4th, 1899.
It is a superb piece of work, and its ebony case, with silver clasps, and bearing a silver shield with suitable inscription, is also perfect: the whole thing attracts most favorable attention.
AS PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN DELEGATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE OF THE HAGUE: V—1899
On this day the American delegation invited their colleagues to celebrate our national anniversary at the tomb of Grotius, first in the great church, and afterward in the town hall of Delft. Speeches were made by the minister of foreign affairs of the Netherlands De Beaufort; by their first delegate, Van Karnebeek; by Mr. Asser, one of their leading jurists; by the burgomaster of Delft; and by Baron de Bildt, chairman of the Swedish delegation and minister at Rome, who read a telegram from the King of Sweden referring to Grotius's relations to the Swedish diplomatic service; as well as by President Low of Columbia University and myself: the duty being intrusted to me of laying the wreath upon Grotius's tomb and making the address with reference to it. As all the addresses are to be printed, I shall give no more attention to them here. A very large audience was present, embracing the ambassadors and principal members of the conference, the Netherlands ministers of state, professors from the various universities of the Netherlands, and a large body of other invited guests.
The music of the chimes, of the organ, and of the royal choir of one hundred voices was very fine; and, although the day was stormy, with a high wind and driving rain, everything went off well.
After the exercises in the church, our delegation gave a breakfast, which was very satisfactory. About three hundred and fifty persons sat down to the tables at the town hall, and one hundred other guests, including the musicians, at the leading restaurant in the place. In the afternoon the Americans gathered at the reception given by our minister, Mr. Newel, and his wife, and in the evening there was a large attendance at an "American concert" given by the orchestra at the great hall in Scheveningen.
Early in the morning to the second committee of the conference, where I spoke in behalf of the Beldiman resolution, doing justice to Switzerland as regards the continuance of the Red Cross interests in Swiss hands; and on going to a vote we were successful.
Then, the question of a proper dealing with our memorial regarding the immunity of private property on the high seas coming up, I spoke in favor of referring it to the general conference, and gave the reasons why it should not simply be dropped out as not coming within the subjects contemplated in the call to the conference. Though my speech was in French, it went off better than I expected.
In the afternoon, at the full conference, the same subject came up; and then, after a preface in French, asking permission to speak in English, I made my speech, which, probably, three quarters of all the delegates understood, but, at my request, a summary of it was afterward given in French by Mr. van Karnebeek.
The occasion of this speech was my seconding the motion, made in a very friendly manner by M. de Martens, to refer the matter to a future conference; but I went into the merits of the general subject to show its claims upon the various nations, etc., etc., though not, of course, as fully as I would have done had the matter been fully under discussion. My speech was very well received, and will, I hope, aid in keeping the subject alive.
In the afternoon drove to Ryswyck, to the house of M. Cornets de Groot, the living representative of the Grotius family. The house and grounds were very pleasant, but the great attraction was a collection of relics of Grotius, including many manuscripts from his own hand,—among these a catechism for his children, written in the prison of Loewenstein; with official documents, signed and sealed, connected with the public transactions of his time; also letters which passed between him and Oxenstiern, the great Swedish chancellor, some in Latin and some in other languages; besides sundry poems. There were also a multitude of portraits, engravings, and documents relating to Olden-Barneveld and others of Grotius's contemporaries.
The De Groot family gave us a most hearty reception, introducing their little girl, who is the latest-born descendant of Grotius, and showing us various household relics of their great ancestor, including cups, glasses, and the like. Mr. De Groot also gave me some curious information regarding him which I did not before possess; and, among other things, told me that when Grotius's body was transferred, shortly after his death, from Rostock to Delft, the coffin containing it was stoned by a mob at Rotterdam; also that at the unveiling of the statue of Grotius in front of the church at Delft, a few years ago, the high-church Calvinists would not allow the children from their church schools to join the other children in singing hymns. The old bitterness of the extreme Calvinistic party toward their great compatriot was thus still exhibited, and the remark was made at the time, by a member of it, that the statue was perfectly true to life, since "its back was turned toward the church"; to which a reply was made that "Grotius's face in the statue, like his living face, was steadily turned toward justice." This latter remark had reference to the fact that a court is held in the city hall, toward which the statue is turned.
In the evening to a dinner given by Mr. Piersoon, minister of finance and prime minister of the Netherlands, to our delegation and to his colleagues of the Dutch ministry. Everything passed off well, Mr. Piersoon proposing a toast to the health of the President of the United States, to which I replied in a toast to the Queen of the Netherlands. In the course of his speech Mr. Piersoon thanked us for our tribute to Grotius, and showed really deep feeling on the subject. There is no doubt that we have struck a responsive chord in the hearts of all liberal and thoughtful men and women of the Netherlands; from every quarter come evidences of this.
A remark of his, regarding arbitration, especially pleased us. He said that the arbitration plan, as it had come from the great committee, was like a baby:—apparently helpless, and of very little value, unable to do much, and requiring careful nursing; but that it had one great merit:—IT WOULD GROW.
This I believe to be a very accurate statement of the situation. The general feeling of the conference becomes better and better. More and more the old skepticism has departed, and in place of it has come a strong ambition to have a share in what we are beginning to believe may be a most honorable contribution to the peace of the world. I have never taken part in more earnest discussions than those which during the last two weeks have occupied us, and especially those relating to arbitration.
I think I may say, without assuming too much, that our Grotius celebration has been a contribution of some value to this growth of earnestness. It has, if I am not greatly mistaken, revealed to the conference, still more clearly than before, the fact that it is a historical body intrusted with a matter of vast importance and difficulty, and that we shall be judged in history with reference to this fact.
At 5.30 P.M. off in special train with the entire conference to Amsterdam. On arriving, we found a long train of court carriages which took us to the palace, the houses on each side throughout the entire distance being decorated with flags and banners, and the streets crowded with men, women, and children. We were indeed a brave show, since all of us, except the members of our American delegation, wore gorgeous uniforms with no end of ribbons, stars, and insignia of various offices and orders.
On reaching our destination, we were received by the Queen and Queen-mother, and shortly afterward went in to dinner. With the possible exception of a lord mayor's feast at the Guildhall, it was the most imposing thing of the kind that I have ever seen. The great banqueting-hall, dating from the glorious days of the Dutch Republic, is probably the largest and most sumptuous in continental Europe, and the table furniture, decorations, and dinner were worthy of it. About two hundred and fifty persons, including all the members of the conference and the higher officials of the kingdom, sat down, the Queen and Queen-mother at the head of the table, and about them the ambassadors and presidents of delegations. My own place, being very near the Majesties, gave me an excellent opportunity to see and hear everything. Toward the close of the banquet the young Queen arose and addressed us, so easily and naturally that I should have supposed her speech extemporaneous had I not seen her consulting her manuscript just before rising. Her manner was perfect, and her voice so clear as to be heard by every one in the hall. Everything considered, it was a remarkable effort for a young lady of seventeen. At its close an excellent reply was made by our president, M. de Staal; and soon afterward, when we had passed into the great gallery, there came an even more striking exhibition of the powers of her youthful Majesty, for she conversed with every member of the conference, and with the utmost ease and simplicity. To me she returned thanks for the Grotius tribute, and in very cordial terms, as did later also the Queen-mother; and I cannot but believe that they were sincere, since, three months later, at the festival given them at Potsdam, they both renewed their acknowledgments in a cordial way which showed that their patriotic hearts were pleased. Various leading men of the Netherlands and of the conference also thanked us, and one of them said, "You Americans have taught us a lesson; for, instead of a mere display of fireworks to the rabble of a single city, or a ball or concert to a few officials, you have, in this solemn recognition of Grotius, paid the highest compliment possible to the entire people of the Netherlands, past, present, and to come."
In the morning to the great hall of the "House in the Wood," where the "editing committee" (comite de redaction) reported to the third committee of the conference the whole arbitration plan. It struck me most favorably,—indeed, it surprised me, though I have kept watch of every step. I am convinced that it is better than any of the plans originally submitted, not excepting our own. It will certainly be a gain to the world.
At the close of the session we adjourned until Monday, the 17th, in order that the delegates may get instructions from their various governments regarding the signing of the protocols, agreements, etc.
In the evening dined with M. de Mier, the Mexican minister at Paris and delegate here, and had a very interesting talk with M. Raffalovitch, to whom I spoke plainly regarding the only road to disarmament. I told him that he must know as well as any one that there is a vague dread throughout Europe of the enormous growth of Russia, and that he must acknowledge that, whether just or not, it is perfectly natural. He acquiesced in this, and I then went on to say that the Emperor Nicholas had before him an opportunity to do more good and make a nobler reputation than any other czar had ever done, not excepting Alexander II with his emancipation of the serfs; that I had thought very seriously of writing, at the close of the conference, to M. Pobedonostzeff, presenting to him the reasons why Russia might well make a practical beginning of disarmament by dismissing to their homes, or placing on public works, say two hundred thousand of her soldiers; that this would leave her all the soldiers she needs, and more; that he must know, as everybody knows, that no other power dreams of attacking Russia or dares to do so; that there would be no disadvantage in such a dismissal of troops to peaceful avocations, but every advantage; and that if it were done the result would be that, in less than forty years, Russia would become, by this husbanding of her resources, the most powerful nation on the eastern continent, and able to carry out any just policy which she might desire. I might have added that one advantage of such a reduction would certainly be less inclination by the war party at St. Petersburg to plunge into military adventures. (Had Russia thus reduced her army she would never have sunk into the condition in which she finds herself now (1905), as I revise these lines. Instead of sending Alexeieff to make war, she would have allowed De Witte to make peace—peace on a basis of justice to Japan, and a winter access to the Pacific, under proper safeguards, for herself.)
Raffalovitch seemed to acquiesce fully in my view, except as to the number of soldiers to be released, saying that fifty or sixty thousand would do perfectly well as showing that Russia is in earnest.
He is one of the younger men of Russia, but has very decided ability, and this he has shown not only in his secretaryship of the conference, but in several of his works on financial and other public questions published in Paris, which have secured for him a corresponding membership of the French Institute.
It is absolutely clear in my mind that, if anything is to be done toward disarmament, a practical beginning must be made by the Czar; but the unfortunate thing is that with, no doubt, fairly good intentions, he is weak and ill informed. The dreadful mistake he is making in violating the oath sworn by his predecessors and himself to Finland is the result of this weakness and ignorance; and should he attempt to diminish his overgrown army he would, in all probability, be overborne by the military people about him, and by petty difficulties which they would suggest, or, if necessary, create. It must be confessed that there is one danger in any attempted disarmament, and this is that the military clique might, to prevent it, plunge the empire into a war.
The Emperor is surrounded mainly by inferior men. Under the shade of autocracy men of independent strength rarely flourish. Indeed, I find that the opinion regarding Russian statesmen which I formed in Russia is confirmed by old diplomatists, of the best judgment, whom I meet here. One of them said to me the other day: "There is no greater twaddle than all the talk about far-seeing purposes and measures by Russian statesmen. They are generally weak, influenced by minor, and especially by personal, considerations, and inferior to most men in similar positions in the other great governments of Europe. The chancellor, Prince Gortchakoff, of whom so much has been said, was a weak, vain man, whom Bismarck found it generally very easy to deal with."
As to my own experience, I think many of those whom I saw were far from the best of their kind with whom I have had to do. I have never imagined a human being in the position of minister of the interior of a great nation so utterly futile as the person who held that place at St. Petersburg in my time; and the same may be said of several others whom I met there in high places. There are a few strong men, and, unfortunately, Pobedonostzeff is one of them. Luckily, De Witte, the minister of finance, is another.
The evil which I dreaded, as regards the formation of public opinion in relation to the work of our conference, is becoming realized. The London "Spectator," just received, contains a most disheartening article, "The Peace Conference a Failure," with an additional article, more fully developed, to the same effect. Nothing could be more unjust; but, on account of the "Spectator's" "moderation," it will greatly influence public opinion, and doubtless prevent, to some extent, the calling of future conferences needed to develop the good work done in this. Fortunately the correspondent of the "Times" gives a better example, and shows, in his excellent letters, what has been accomplished here. The "New York Herald," also, is thus far taking the right view, and maintaining it with some earnestness.
This morning, at ten, to the "House in the Wood" to hear Mr. van Karnebeek's report on disarmament, checking invention, etc., before the session of committee No. 1. It was strongly attacked, and was left in shreds: the whole subject is evidently too immature and complicated to be dealt with during the present conference.
In the afternoon came up an especially interesting matter in the session of the arbitration committee, the occasion being a report of the subcommittee. Among the points which most interested us as Americans was a provision for an appeal from the decision of the arbitration tribunal on the discovery of new facts.
De Martens of Russia spoke with great force against such right of appeal, and others took ground with him. Holls really distinguished himself by a telling speech on the other side—which is the American side, that feature having been present in our original instructions; Messrs. Asser and Karnebeek both spoke for it effectively, and the final decision was virtually in our favor, for Mr. Asser's compromise was adopted, which really gives us the case.
The Siamese representatives requested that the time during which an appeal might be allowed should be six instead of three months, which we had named; but it was finally made a matter of adjustment between the parties.
The American delegation met at ten, when a cable message from the State Department was read authorizing us to sign the protocol.
Field day in the arbitration committee. A decided sensation was produced by vigorous speeches by my Berlin colleague, Beldiman, of the Roumanian delegation, and by Servian, Greek, and other delegates, against the provision for commissions d'enquete,—De Martens, Descamps, and others making vigorous speeches in behalf of them. It looked as if the Balkan states were likely to withdraw from the conference if the commission d'enquete feature was insisted upon: they are evidently afraid that such "examining commissions" may be sent within their boundaries by some of their big neighbors—Russia, for example—to spy out the land and start intrigues. The whole matter was put over.
In the evening to Count Munster's dinner at Scheveningen, and had a very interesting talk on conference matters with Sir Julian Pauncefote, finding that in most things we shall be able to stand together as the crisis approaches.
For several days past I have been preparing a possible speech to be made in signing the protocol, etc., which, if not used for that purpose, may be published, and, perhaps, aid in keeping public opinion in the right line as regards the work of the conference after it has closed.
In the afternoon to the "House in the Wood," the committee on arbitration meeting again. More speeches were made by the Bulgarians and Servians, who are still up in arms, fearing that the commissione d'enquete means intervention by the great states in their affairs. Speeches to allay their fears were made by Count Nigra, Dr. Zorn, Holls, and Leon Bourgeois. Zorn spoke in German with excellent effect, as did Holls in English; Nigra was really impressive; and Bourgeois, from the chair, gave us a specimen of first-rate French oratory. He made a most earnest appeal to the delegates of the Balkan states, showing them that by such a system of arbitration as is now proposed the lesser powers would be the very first to profit, and he appealed to their loyalty to humanity. The speech was greatly and justly applauded.
The Balkan delegates are gradually and gracefully yielding.
In the morning to the "House in the Wood," where a plenary session of the conference was held. It was a field day on explosive, flattening and expanding bullets, etc. Our Captain Crozier, who evidently knows more about the subject than anybody else here, urged a declaration of the principle that balls should be not more deadly or cruel than is absolutely necessary to put soldiers hors de combat; but the committee had reported a resolution which, Crozier insists, opens the door to worse missiles than those at present used. Many and earnest speeches were made. I made a short speech, moving to refer the matter back to the committee, with instructions to harmonize and combine the two ideas in one article—that is, the idea which the article now expresses, and Crozier's idea of stating the general principle to which the bullets should conform—namely, that of not making a wound more cruel than necessary; but the amendment was lost.
Sir Julian Pauncefote called to discuss with us the signing of the Acte Final. There seems to be general doubt as to what is the best manner of signing the conventions, declarations, etc., and all remains in the air.
In the morning the American delegation met and Captain Mahan threw in a bomb regarding article 27, which requires that when any two parties to the conference are drifting into war, the other powers should consider it a duty (devoir) to remind them of the arbitration tribunal, etc. He thinks that this infringes the American doctrine of not entangling ourselves in the affairs of foreign states, and will prevent the ratification of the convention by the United States Senate. This aroused earnest debate, Captain Mahan insisting upon the omission of the word "devoir," and Dr. Holls defending the article as reported by the subcommittee, of which he is a member, and contending that the peculiar interests of America could be protected by a reservation. Finally, the delegation voted to insist upon the insertion of the qualifying words, "autant que les circonstances permettent," but this decision was afterward abandoned.
Met at our Minister Newel's supper Sir Henry Howard, who told me that the present Dutch ministry, with Piersoon at its head and De Beaufort as minister of foreign affairs, is in a very bad way; that its "subserviency to Italy," in opposition to the demands of the Vatican for admittance into the conference, and its difficulties with the socialists and others, arising from the police measures taken against Armenian, Finnish, New Turkish, and other orators who have wished to come here and make the conference and the city a bear-garden, have led both the extreme parties—that is, the solid Roman Catholic party on one side, and the pretended votaries of liberty on the other—to hate the ministry equally. He thinks that they will join hands and oust the ministry just as soon as the conference is over.
Some allowance is to be made for the fact that Sir Henry is a Roman Catholic: while generally liberal, he evidently looks at many questions from the point of view of his church.
 As it turned out, he was right: the ministry was ousted, but not so soon as he expected, for the catastrophe did not arrive until about two years later. Then came in a coalition of high Calvinists and Roman Catholics which brought in the Kuyper ministry.
For some days—in fact, ever since Captain Mahan on the 22d called attention to article 27 of the arbitration convention as likely to be considered an infringement of the Monroe Doctrine—our American delegation has been greatly perplexed. We have been trying to induce the French, who proposed article 27, and who are as much attached to it as is a hen to her one chick, to give it up, or, at least, to allow a limiting or explanatory clause to be placed with it. Various clauses of this sort have been proposed. The article itself makes it the duty of the other signatory powers, when any two nations are evidently drifting toward war, to remind these two nations that the arbitration tribunal is open to them. Nothing can be more simple and natural; but we fear lest, when the convention comes up for ratification in the United States Senate, some over-sensitive patriot may seek to defeat it by insisting that it is really a violation of time-honored American policy at home and abroad—the policy of not entangling ourselves in the affairs of foreign nations, on one side, and of not allowing them to interfere in our affairs, on the other.
At twelve this day our delegation gave a large luncheon at the Oude Doelen—among those present being Ambassadors De Staal, Count Nigra, and Sir Julian Pauncefote, Bourgeois, Karnebeek, Basily, Baron d'Estournelles, Baron de Bildt, and others—to discuss means of getting out of the above-mentioned difficulty. A most earnest effort was made to induce the French to allow some such modification as has been put into other articles—namely, the words, "autant que possible," or some limiting clause to the same effect; but neither Bourgeois nor D'Estournelles, representing France, would think of it for a moment. Bourgeois, as the head of the French delegation, spoke again and again, at great length. Among other things, he gave us a very long disquisition on the meaning of "devoir" as it stands in the article—a disquisition which showed that the Jesuits are not the only skilful casuists in the world.
I then presented my project of a declaration of the American doctrine to be made by us on signing. It had been scratched off with a pencil in the morning, hastily; but it was well received by Bourgeois, D'Estournelles, and all the others.
Later we held a meeting of our own delegation, when, to my project of a declaration stating that nothing contained in any part of the convention signed here should be considered as requiring us to intrude, mingle, or entangle ourselves in European politics or internal affairs, Low made an excellent addition to the effect that nothing should be considered to require any abandonment of the traditional attitude of the United States toward questions purely American; and, with slight verbal changes, this combination was adopted.
All night long I have been tossing about in my bed and thinking of our declaration of the Monroe Doctrine to be brought before the conference to-day. We all fear that the conference will not receive it, or will insist on our signing without it or not signing at all.
On my way to The Hague from Scheveningen I met M. Descamps, the eminent professor of international law in the University of Louvain, and the leading delegate in the conference as regards intricate legal questions connected with the arbitration plan. He thought that our best way out of the difficulty was absolutely to insist on a clause limiting the devoir imposed by article 27, and to force it to a vote. He declared that, in spite of the French, it would certainly be carried. This I doubt. M. Descamps knows, perhaps, more of international law than of the temper of his associates.
In the afternoon to the "House in the Wood," where the "Final Act" was read. This is a statement of what has been done, summed up in the form of three conventions, with sundry declarations, voeux, etc. We had taken pains to see a number of the leading delegates, and all, in their anxiety to save the main features of the arbitration plan, agreed that they would not oppose our declaration. It was therefore placed in the hands of Raffalovitch, the Russian secretary, who stood close beside the president, and as soon as the "Final Act" had been recited he read this declaration of ours. This was then brought before the conference in plenary session by M. de Staal, and the conference was asked whether any one had any objection, or anything to say regarding it. There was a pause of about a minute, which seemed to me about an hour. Not a word was said,—in fact, there was dead silence,—and so our declaration embodying a reservation in favor of the Monroe Doctrine was duly recorded and became part of the proceedings.
Rarely in my life have I had such a feeling of deep relief; for, during some days past, it has looked as if the arbitration project, so far as the United States is concerned, would be wrecked on that wretched little article 27.
I had before me notes of a speech carefully prepared, stating our reasons and replying to objections, to be used in case we were attacked, but it was not needed. In the evening I was asked by Mr. Lavino, the correspondent of the London "Times," to put the gist of it into an "interview" for the great newspaper which he serves, and to this I consented; for, during the proceedings this afternoon in the conference, Sir Julian Pauncefote showed great uneasiness. He was very anxious that we should withdraw the declaration altogether, and said, "It will be charged against you that you propose to evade your duties while using the treaty to promote your interests"; but I held firm and pressed the matter, with the result above stated. I feared that he would object in open conference; but his loyalty to arbitration evidently deterred him. However, he returned to the charge privately, and I then promised to make a public statement of our reasons for the declaration, and this seemed to ease his mind. The result was a recasting of my proposed speech, and this Mr. Lavino threw into the form of a long telegram to the "Times."
At ten to a meeting of our American delegation, when another bombshell was thrown among us—nothing less than the question whether the Pope is to be allowed to become one of the signatory powers; and this question has now taken a very acute form. Italy is, of course, utterly opposed to it, and Great Britain will not sign if any besides those agreed upon by the signatory powers are allowed to come in hereafter, her motive being, no doubt, to avoid trouble in regard to the Transvaal.
Mr. Low stated that in the great committee the prevailing opinion seemed to be that the signatory powers had made a sort of partnership, and that no new partners could be added without the consent of all. This is the natural ground, and entirely tenable.
I would have been glad to add the additional requirement that no power should be admitted which would not make arbitration reciprocal—that is, no power which, while aiding to arbitrate for others, would not accept arbitration between itself and another power. This would, of course, exclude the Vatican; for, while it desires to judge others, it will allow no interests of its own, not even the most worldly and trivial, to be submitted to any earthly tribunal.
The question now came up in our American delegation as to signing the three conventions in the Acte Final—namely, those relating to arbitration, to the extension of the Geneva rules, and to the laws and customs of war. We voted to sign the first, to send the second to Washington without recommendation, and to send the third with a recommendation that it be there signed. The reason for sending the second to Washington without recommendation is that Captain Mahan feels that, in its present condition, it may bring on worse evils than it prevents. He especially and, I think, justly objects to allowing neutral hospital ships to take on board the wounded and shipwrecked in a naval action, with power to throw around them the safeguards of neutrality and carry them off to a neutral port whence they can again regain their own homes and resume their status as combatants.
The reason for submitting the third to Washington, with a recommendation to sign it there, is that considerable work will be required in conforming our laws of war to the standard proposed by the conference, and that it is best that the Washington authorities look it over carefully.
I was very anxious to sign all three conventions, but the first is the great one, and I yielded my views on the last two.
The powers are to have until the 31st of December, if they wish it, before signing.
Early in the morning to a meeting of our American delegation, Mr. van Karnebeek being present. We agreed to sign the arbitration convention, attaching to our signatures a reservation embodying our declaration of July 25 regarding the maintenance of our American policy—the Monroe Doctrine. A telegram was received from the State Department approving of this declaration. The imbroglio regarding the forcing of the Pope into the midst of the signatory powers continues. The ultramontanes are pushing on various delegates, especially sundry Austrians and Belgians, who depend on clerical support for their political existence, and, in some cases, for their daily bread; and the result is that M. Descamps, one of the most eminent international lawyers in Europe, who has rendered great services during the conference, but who holds a professorship at the University of Louvain, and can hold it not one moment longer than the Jesuits allow him, is making a great display of feeling on the subject. Italy, of course, continues to take the strongest ground against the proposal to admit his Holiness as an Italian sovereign.
Our position is, as was well stated in the great committee by Mr. Low, that the contracting parties must all consent before a new party can come in; and this under one of the simplest principles of law. We ought also to add that any power thus admitted shall not only consent to arbitrate on others, but to be arbitrated upon. This, of course, the Vatican monsignori will never do. They would see all Europe deluged in blood before they would submit the pettiest question between the kingdom of Italy and themselves to arbitration by lay powers. All other things are held by them utterly subordinate to the restoration of the Pope's temporal power, though they must know that if it were restored to him to-morrow he could not hold it. He would be overthrown by a revolution within a month, even with all the troops which France or Austria could send to support him; and then we should have the old miserable state of things again in Italy, with bloodshed, oppression, and exactions such as took place throughout the first half of this century, and, indeed, while I was in Italy, under the old papal authority, in 1856.
In the afternoon to the "House in the Wood" to go over documents preliminary to signing the "Final Act."
In the afternoon in plenary session of the conference, hearing the final reports as to forms of signing, etc.
To-day appears in the London "Times" the interview which its correspondent had with me yesterday. It develops the reasons for our declaration, and seems to give general satisfaction. Sir Julian Pauncefote told Holls that he liked it much.
The committee on forms of the "Final Act," etc., has at last, under pressure of all sorts, agreed that the question of admitting non-signatory powers shall be decided by the signatory powers, hereafter, through the ordinary medium of diplomatic correspondence. This is unfortunate for some of the South American republics, but it will probably in some way inure to the benefit of the Vatican monsignori.
The last and culminating day of the conference.
In the morning the entire body gathered in the great hall of the "House in the Wood," and each delegation was summoned thence to sign the protocol, conventions, and declarations. These were laid out on a long table in the dining-room of the palace, which is adorned with very remarkable paintings of mythological subjects imitating bas-reliefs.
All these documents had the places for each signature prepared beforehand, and our seals, in wax, already placed upon the pages adjoining the place where each signature was to be. At the request of the Foreign Office authorities for my seal, I had sent a day or two beforehand the seal ring which Goldwin Smith gave me at the founding of Cornell University. It is an ancient carnelian intaglio which he obtained in Rome, and bears upon its face, exquisitely engraved, a Winged Victory. This seal I used during my entire connection with Cornell University, and also as a member of the Electoral College of the State of New York at General Grant's second election, when, at the request of the president of that body, Governor Woodford, it was used in sealing certificates of the election, which were sent, according to law, to certain high officials of our government.
I affixed my signature to the arbitration convention, writing in, as agreed, the proviso that our signatures were subject to the Monroe Doctrine declaration made in open session of the conference on July 25. The other members of the American delegation then signed in proper order. But the two other conventions we left unsigned. It was with deep regret that I turned away from these; but the majority of the delegation had decreed it, and it was difficult to see what other course we could pursue. I trust that the Washington authorities will rectify the matter by signing them both.
We also affixed our signatures to the first of the "declarations."
At three P.M. came the formal closing of the conference. M. de Staal made an excellent speech, as did Mr. van Karnebeek and M. de Beaufort, the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs. To these Count Munster, the presiding delegate from Germany, replied in French, and apparently extemporaneously. It must have been pain and grief to him, for he was obliged to speak respectfully, in the first place, of the conference, which for some weeks he had affected to despise; and, secondly, of arbitration and the other measures proposed, which, at least during all the first part of the conference, he had denounced as a trick and a humbug; and, finally, he had to speak respectfully of M. de Staal, to whom he has steadily shown decided dislike. He did the whole quite well, all things considered; but showed his feelings clearly, as regarded M. de Staal, by adding to praise of him greater praise for Mr. van Karnebeek, who has been the main managing man in the conference in behalf of the Netherlands Government.
Then to the hotel and began work on the draft of a report, regarding the whole work of the conference, to the State Department. I was especially embarrassed by the fact that the wording of it must be suited to the scruples of my colleague, Captain Mahan. He is a man of the highest character and of great ability, whom I respect and greatly like; but, as an old naval officer, wedded to the views generally entertained by older members of the naval and military service, he has had very little, if any, sympathy with the main purposes of the conference, and has not hesitated to declare his disbelief in some of the measures which we were especially instructed to press. In his books he is on record against the immunity of private property at sea, and in drawing up our memorial to the conference regarding this latter matter, in making my speech with reference to it in the conference, and in preparing our report to the State Department, I have been embarrassed by this fact. It was important to have unanimity, and it could not be had, so far as he was concerned, without toning down the whole thing, and, indeed, leaving out much that in my judgment the documents emanating from us on the subject ought to contain. So now, in regard to arbitration, as well as the other measures finally adopted, his feelings must be considered. Still, his views have been an excellent tonic; they have effectively prevented any lapse into sentimentality. When he speaks the millennium fades and this stern, severe, actual world appears.