I do not think that the Greeks attempt to deny these atrocities—the evidence is far too conclusive for that—but even as great a Greek as M. Venizelos justifies them on the ground that they were provoked by the Albanians. That such things could happen without arousing horror and condemnation throughout the civilized world is due to the fact that in the summer of 1914 the attention of the world was focused on events in France and Belgium. I have no quarrel with the Greeks and nothing is further from my desire than to engage in what used to be known as "muck-raking," but I am reporting what I saw and heard in Albania because I believe that the American people ought to know of it. Taken in conjunction with the behavior of the Greek troops in Smyrna in the spring of 1918, it should better enable us to form an opinion as to the moral fitness of the Greeks to be entrusted with mandates over backward peoples.
Though Albania is an Italian protectorate, the Albanians, in spite of all that Italy is doing toward the development of the country, do not want Italian protection. This is scarcely to be wondered at, however, in view of the attitude of another untutored people, the Egyptians, who, though they owe their amazing prosperity solely to British rule, would oust the British at the first opportunity which offered. Though the Italians are distrusted because the Albanians question their administrative ability and because they fear that they will attempt to denationalize them, the French are regarded with a hatred which I have seldom seen equaled. This is due, I imagine, to the belief that the French are allied with their hereditary enemies, the Greeks and the Serbs, and to France's iron-handed rule, which was exemplified when General Sarrail, commanding the army of the Orient, ordered the execution of the President of the short-lived Albanian Republic which was established at Koritza. As a matter of fact, the Albanians, though quite unfitted for independence, are violently opposed to being placed under the protection of any nation, unless it be the United States or England, in both of which they place implicit trust. I was astonished to learn that the few Americans who have penetrated Albania since the war—missionaries, Red Cross workers, and one or two investigators for the Peace Conference—have encouraged the natives in the belief that the United States would probably accept a mandate for Albania. Whether they did this in order to make themselves popular and thereby facilitate their missions, or because of an abysmal ignorance of American public sentiment, I do not know, but the fact remains that they have raised hopes in the breasts of thousands of Albanians which can never be realized. Everything considered, I think that the Albanians might do worse than to entrust their political future to the guidance of the Italians, who, in addition to having brought law, order, justice, and the beginnings of prosperity to a country which never had so much as a bowing acquaintance with any one of them before, seem to have the best interests of the people genuinely at heart.
Leaving Koritza, a clean, well-kept town of perhaps 10,000 people, which was occupied when we were there by a battalion of black troops from the French Sudan and some Moroccans, we went snorting up the Peristeri Range by an appallingly steep and narrow road, higher, higher, always higher, until, to paraphrase Kipling, we had
"One wheel on the Horns o' the Mornin', An' one on the edge o' the Pit, An' a drop into nothin' beneath us As straight as a beggar could spit."
But at last, when I was beginning to wonder whether our wheels could find traction if the grade grew much steeper, we topped the summit of the pass and looked down on Macedonia. Below us the forested slopes of the mountains ran down, like the folds of a great green rug lying rumpled on an oaken floor, to meet the bare brown plains of that historic land where marched and fought the hosts of Philip of Macedon, and of Alexander, his son. There are few more splendid panoramas in the world; there is none over which history has cast so magic a spell, for this barren, dusty land has been the arena in which the races of eastern Europe have battled since history began. Within its borders are represented all the peoples who are disputing the reversion of the Turkish possessions in Europe. Macedonia might be described, indeed, as the very quintessence of the near eastern question.
With brakes a-squeal we slipped down the long, steep gradients to Florina, where Greek gendarmes, in British sun-helmets and khaki, lounged at the street-crossings and patronizingly waved us past. Thence north by the ancient highway which leads to Monastir, the parched and yellow fields on either side still littered with the debris of war—broken camions and wagons, shattered cannon, pyramids of ammunition-cases, vast quantities of barbed wire—and sprinkled with white crosses, thousands and thousands of them, marking the places where sleep the youths from Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Canada, India, Australia, Africa, who fell in the Last Crusade.
Monastir is a filthy, ill-paved, characteristically Turkish town, which, before its decimation by the war, was credited with having some 60,000 inhabitants. Of these about one-half were Turks and one-quarter Greeks, the remaining quarter of the inhabitants being composed of Serbs, Jews, Albanians, and Bulgars. Those of its buildings which escaped the great conflagration which destroyed half the town were terribly shattered by the long series of bombardments, so that to-day the place looks like San Francisco after the earthquake and Baltimore after the fire. In the suburbs are immense supplies of war materiel of all sorts, mostly going to waste. I saw thousands of camions, ambulances, caissons, and wagons literally falling apart from neglect, and this in a country which is almost destitute of transport. Though the town was packed with Serbian troops, most of whom are sleeping and eating in the open, no attempt was being made, so far as I could see, to repair the shell-torn buildings, to clean the refuse-littered streets, or to afford the inhabitants even the most nominal police protection. The crack of rifles and revolvers is as frequent in the streets of Monastir as the bang of bursting tires on Fifth Avenue. A Serbian sentry, on duty outside the house in which I was sleeping, suddenly loosed off a clip of cartridges in the street, for no reason in the world, it seemed, than because he liked to hear the noise! Dead bodies are found nearly every morning. Murders are so common that they do not provoke even passing comment. In the night there comes a sharp bark of an automatic or the shattering roar of a hand-grenade (which, since the war proved its efficacy, has become the most recherche weapon for private use in these regions), a clatter of feet, and a "Hello! Another killing." That is all. Life is the cheapest thing there is in the Balkans.
The only really clean place we found in Monastir was the American Red Cross Hospital, an extremely well-managed and efficient institution, which was under the direction of a young American woman, Dr. Frances Flood, who, with a single woman companion, Miss Jessup, pluckily remained at her post throughout the greater part of the war. The officers who during the war achieved rows of ribbons for having acted as messenger boys between the War Department and the foreign military missions in Washington, would feel a trifle embarrassed, I imagine, if they knew what this little American woman did to win her decorations.
It is in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty miles from Monastir to Salonika across the Macedonian plain and the road is one of the very worst in Europe. Deep ruts, into which the car sometimes slipped almost to its hubs, and frequent gullies made driving, save at the most moderate speed, impossible, while, as many of the bridges were broken, and without signs to warn the travelers of their condition, we more than once barely saved ourselves from plunging through the gaping openings to disaster. The vast traffic of the fighting armies had ground the roads into yellow dust which rose in clouds as dense as a London fog, while the waves of heat from the sun-scorched plains beat against our faces like the blast from an open furnace door. Despite its abominable condition, the road was alive with traffic: droves of buffalo, black, ungainly, broad-horned beasts, their elephant-like hides caked with yellow mud; woolly waves of sheep and goats driven by wild mountain herdsmen in high fur caps and gaudy sashes; caravans of camels, swinging superciliously past on padded feet, laden with supplies for the interior or salvaged war material for the coast; clumsy carts, painted in strange designs and screaming colors, with great sharpened stakes which looked as though they were intended for purposes of torture, but whose real duty is to keep the top-heavy loads in place.
Though the slopes of the Rhodope and the Pindus are clothed with splendid forests, it is for the most part a flat and treeless land, dotted with clusters of filthy hovels made of sun-dried brick and with patches of discouraged-looking vegetation. As Macedonia (its inhabitants pronounce it as though the first syllable were mack) was once the granary of the East, I had expected to see illimitable fields of waving grain, but such fields as we did see were generally small and poor. Guarding them against the hovering swarms of blackbirds were many scarecrows, rigged out in the uniforms and topped by the helmets of the men whose bones bleach amid the grain. In Switzerland they make a very excellent red wine called Schweizerblut, because the grapes from which it is made are grown on soil reddened by the blood of the Swiss who fell on the battlefield of Morat. If blood makes fine wine, then the best wine in all the world should come from these Macedonian plains, for they have been soaked with blood since ever time began.
Our halfway town was Vodena, which seemed, after the heat and dust of the journey, like an oasis in the desert. Scores of streams, issuing from the steep slopes of the encircling hills, race through the town in a network of little canals and fling themselves from a cliff, in a series of superb cascades, into the wooded valley below. Philip of Macedon was born near Vodena, and there, in accordance with his wishes, he was buried. You can see the tomb, flanked by ever-burning candles, though you may not enter it, should you happen to pass that way. He chose his last resting-place well, did the great soldier, for the overarching boughs of ancient plane-trees turn the cobbled streets of the little town into leafy naves, the air is heavy with the scent of orange and oleander, and the place murmurs with the pleasant sound of plashing water.
Beyond Vodena the road improved for a time and we fled southward at greater speed, the telegraph poles leaping at us out of the yellow dust-haze like the pikes of giant sentinels. At Alexander's Well, an ancient cistern built from marble blocks and filled with crystal-clear water, we paused to refill our boiling radiator, and paused again, a few miles farther on, at the wretched, mud-walled village which, according to local tradition, is the birthplace of the man who made himself master of three continents, changed the face of the world, and died at thirty-three.
Then south again, south again, across the seemingly illimitable plains, until, topping a range of bare brown hills, there lay spread before us the gleaming walls and minarets of that city where Paul preached to the Thessalonians. To the westward Olympus seemed to verify the assertions of the ancient Greeks that its summit touched the sky. To the east, outlined against the AEgean's blue, I could see the peninsula of Chalkis, with its three gaunt capes, Cassandra, Longos, and Athos, reaching toward Thrace, the Hellespont and Asia Minor, like the claw of a vulture stretched out to snatch the quarry which the eagles killed.
[Footnote A: Portions of this sketch of the Albanians are drawn from an article which I wrote some years ago for The Independent. E.A.P.]
UNDER THE CROSS AND THE CRESCENT
Salonika is superbly situated. To gain it from the seaward side you sail through a portal formed by the majestic peaks of Athos and Olympus. It reclines on the bronze-brown Macedonian hills, white-clad, like a young Greek goddess, with its feet laved by the blue waters of the AEgean. (I have used this simile elsewhere in the book, but it does not matter.) The scores of slender minarets which rise above the housetops belie the crosses on the Greek flags which flaunt everywhere, hinting that the city, though it has passed under Christian rule, is at heart still Moslem. Indeed, barely a tenth of the 200,000 inhabitants are of the ruling race, for Salonika is that rare thing in modern Europe, a city whose population is by majority Jewish. There were hook-nosed, dark-skinned traders from Judea here, no doubt, as far back as the days when Salonika was but a way-station on the great highroad which linked the East with Rome, but it was the Jews expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella who transformed the straggling Turkish town into one of the most prosperous cities of the Levant by making it their home. And to-day the Jewish women of Salonika, the older ones at least, wear precisely the same costume that their great-grandmother wore in Spain before the persecution—a symbol and a reminder of how the Israelites were hunted by the Christians before they found refuge in a Moslem land.
There are no less than eight distinct ways of spelling and pronouncing the city's name. To the Greeks, who are its present owners, it is Saloniki or Saloneke, according to the method of transliterating the epsilon; it is known to the Turks, who misruled it for five hundred years, as Selanik; the British call it Salonica, with the accent on the second syllable; the French Salonique; the Italians Salonnico, while the Serbs refer to it as Solun. The best authorities seem to have agreed, however, on Salonika, with the accent on the "i," which is pronounced like "e," so that it rhymes with "paprika." But these are all corruptions and abbreviations, for the city was originally named Thessalonica, after the sister of Alexander of Macedon, and thus referred to in the two epistles which St. Paul addressed to the church he founded there. Owing to the variety of its religious sects, Salonika has a superfluity of Sabbaths as well as of names, Friday being observed by the Moslems, Saturday by the Jews, and Sunday by the Christians. Perhaps it would be putting it more accurately to say that there is no Sabbath at all, for the inhabitants are so eager to make money that business is transacted on every day of the seven.
Besides the great colony of Orthodox Jews in Salonika, there is a sect of renegades known as Dounme, or Deunmeh, who number perhaps 20,000 in all. These had their beginnings in the Annus Mirabilis, when a Jewish Messiah, Sabatai Sevi of Smyrna, arose in the Levant. He preached a creed which was a first cousin of those believed in by our own Anabaptists and Seventh Day Adventists. The name and the fame of him spread across the Near East like fire in dry grass. Every ghetto in Turkey had accepted him; his ritual was adopted by every synagogue; the Jews gave themselves over to penance and preparation. For a year honesty reigned in the Levant. Then the prophet set out for Constantinople to beard the Sultan in his palace and, so he announced, to lead him in chains to Zion. That was where Sabatai Sevi made his big mistake. For the Commander of the Faithful was from Missouri, so far as Sabatai Sevi's claims to divinity were concerned.
"Messiahs can perform miracles," the Sultan said. "Let me see you perform one. My Janissaries shall make a target of you. If you are of divine origin, as you claim, the arrows will not harm you. And, in any event, it will be an interesting experiment."
Now Sabatai evidently had grave doubts about his self-assumed divinity being arrow-proof, for he protested vigorously against the proposal to make a human pin-cushion of him, whereupon the Sultan, his suspicions now confirmed, gave him his choice between being impaled upon a stake, a popular Turkish pastime of the period, or of renouncing Judaism and accepting the faith of Islam. Preferring to be a live coward to an impaled martyr, he chose the latter, yet such was his influence with the Jews that thousands of his adherents voluntarily embraced the religion of Mohammed. The Dounme of Salonika are the descendants of these renegades. Two centuries of waiting have not dimmed their faith in the eventual coming of their Messiah. So there they wait, equally distrusted by Jews and Moslems, though they form the wealthiest portion of the city's population. But they live apart and so dread any mixing of their blood with that of the infidel Turk or the unbelieving Jew that, in order to avoid the risk of an unwelcome proposal, they make a practise of betrothing their children before they are born. It strikes me, however, that there must on occasion be a certain amount of embarrasment connected with these early matches, as, for example, when the prenatally engaged ones prove to be of the same sex.
I used to be of the opinion that Tiflis, in the Caucasus, was the most cosmopolitan city that I had ever seen, but since the war I think that the greatest variety of races could probably be found in Salonika. Sit at a marble-topped table on the pavement in front of Floca's cafe at the tea-hour and you can see representatives of half the races in the world pass by—British officers in beautifully polished boots and beautifully cut breeches, astride of beautifully groomed ponies; Highlanders with their kilts covered by khaki aprons; raw-boned, red-faced Australians in sun helmets and shorts; swaggering chausseurs d'Afrique in wonderful uniforms of sky-blue and scarlet which you will find nowhere else outside a musical comedy; soldiers of the Foreign Legion with the skirts of their long blue overcoats pinned back and with mushroom-shaped helmets which are much too large for them; soldierly, well set-up little Ghurkas in broad-brimmed hats and uniforms of olive green, reminding one for all the world of fighting cocks; Sikhs in yellow khaki (did you know, by the way, that khaki is the Hindustani word for dust?) with their long black beards neatly plaited and rolled up under their chins; Epirotes wearing the starched and plaited skirts called fustanellas, each of which requires from twenty to forty yards of linen; Albanian tribal chiefs in jackets stiff with gold embroidery, with enough weapons thrust in their gaudy sashes to decorate a club-room; Cretan gendarmes wearing breeches which are so tight below the knee and so enormously baggy in the seat that they can, and when they are in Crete frequently do, use them in place of a basket for carrying their poultry, eggs or other farm produce to market; coal-black Senegalese, coffee-colored Moroccans and tan-colored Algerians, all wearing the broad red cummerbunds and the high red tarbooshes which distinguish France's African soldiery; Italian bersaglieri with great bunches of cocks' feathers hiding their steel helmets; Serbs in ununiform uniforms of every conceivable color, material and pattern, their only uniform article of equipment being their characteristic high-crowned kepis; Russians in flat caps and belted blouses, their baggy trousers tucked into boots with ankles like accordions; officers of Cossack cavalry, their tall and slender figures accentuated by their long, tight-fitting coats and their high caps of lambskin; Bulgar prisoners wearing the red-banked caps which they have borrowed from their German allies and Austrian prisoners in worn and shabby uniforms of grayish-blue; Greek soldiers bedecked like Christmas trees with medals, badges, fourrageres and chevrons, in the hope, I suppose, that their gaudiness would make up for their lack of prowess; Orthodox priests with their long hair (for they never cut their hair or beards) done up in Psyche knots; Hebrew rabbis wearing caps of velvet shaped like those worn by bakers; Moslem muftis with their snowy turbans encircled by green scarves as a sign that they had made the pilgrimage to the Holy Places; Jewish merchants and money-changers in the same black caps and greasy gabardines which their ancestors wore in the Middle Ages; British, French, Italian and American bluejackets with their caps cocked jauntily and the roll of the sea in their gait; A.R.A., A.R.C., Y.M.C.A., K. of C. and A.C.R.N.E. workers in fancy uniforms of every cut and color; Turkish sherbet-sellers with huge brass urns, hung with tinkling bells to give notice of their approach, slung upon their backs; ragged Macedonian bootblacks (bootblacking appeared to be the national industry of Macedonia), and hordes of gipsy beggars, the filthiest and most importunate I have ever seen. All day long this motley, colorful crowd surges through the narrow streets, their voices, speaking in a score of tongues, raising a din like that of Bedlam; the smells of unwashed bodies, human perspiration, strong tobacco, rum, hashish, whiskey, arrack, goat's cheese, garlic, cheap perfumery and sweat-soaked leather combining in a stench which rises to high Heaven.
On the streets one sees almost as many colored soldiers as white ones: French native troops from Algeria, Morocco, Madagascar, Senegal and China; British Indian soldiery from Bengal, the Northwest Provinces and Nepaul. The Indian troops were superbly drilled and under the most iron discipline, but the French native troops appeared to be getting out of hand and were not to be depended upon. To a man they had announced that they wanted to go home. They had been through four and a half years of war, they are tired and homesick, and they are more than willing to let the Balkan peoples settle their own quarrels. They were weary of fighting in a quarrel of which they knew little and about which they cared less; they longed for a sight of the wives and the children they had left behind them in Fez or Touggourt or Timbuktu. Because they had been kept on duty in Europe, while the French white troops were being rapidly demobilized and returned to their homes, the Africans were sullen and resentful. This smoldering resentment suddenly burst into flame, a day or so before we reached Salonika, when a Senegalese sergeant, whose request to be sent home had been refused, ran amuck, barricaded himself in a stone outhouse with a plentiful supply of rifles and ammunition, and succeeded in killing four officers and half-a-dozen soldiers before his career was ended by a well-aimed hand grenade. A few days later a British officer was shot and killed in the camp outside the city by a Ghurka sentinel. This was not due to mutiny, however, but, on the contrary, to over-strict obedience to orders, the sentry having been instructed that he was to permit no one to cross his post without challenging. The officer, who was fresh from England and had had no experience with the discipline of Indian troops, ignored the order to halt—and the next day there was a military funeral.
Salonika is theoretically under Greek rule and there are pompous, self-important little Greek policemen, perfect replicas of the British M.P.'s in everything save physique and discipline, on duty at the street crossings, but instead of regulating the enormous flow of traffic they seem only to obstruct it. When the congestion becomes so great that it threatens to hold up the unending stream of motor-lorries which rolls through the city, day and night, between the great cantonments in the outskirts and the port, a tall British military policeman suddenly appears from nowhere, shoulders the Greek gendarme aside, and with a few curt orders untangles the snarl into which the traffic has gotten itself and sets it going again.
Picturesque though Salonika undeniably is, with its splendid mosques, its beautiful Byzantine churches, its Roman triumphal arches, and the brooding bulk of Mount Olympus, which overshadows and makes trivial everything else, yet the strongest impressions one carries away are filth, corruption and misgovernment. These conditions are due in some measure, no doubt, to the refusal of the European troops, with whom the city is filled, to take orders from any save their own officers, but the underlying reason is to be found in the indifference and gross incompetence of the Greek authorities. The Greeks answer this by saying that they have not had time to clean the city up and give it a decent administration because they have owned it only eight years. All of the European business quarter, including a mile of handsome buildings along the waterfront, lies in ruins as a result of the great fire of 1917. Though a system of new streets has been tentatively laid out across this fire-swept area, no attempt has been made to rebuild the city, hundreds of shopkeepers carrying on their businesses in shacks and booths erected amid the blackened and tottering walls. All of the hotels worthy of the name were destroyed in the fire, the two or three which escaped being quite uninhabitable, at least for Europeans, because of the armies of insects with which they are infested. I do not recall hearing any one say a good word for Salonika. The pleasantest recollection which I retain of the place is that of the steamer which took us away from there.
Before we could leave Salonika for Constantinople our passports had to be vised by the representatives of five nations. In fact, travel in the Balkans since the war is just one damn vise after another. The Italians stamped them because we had come from Albania, which is under Italian protection. The Serbs put on their imprint because we had stopped for a few days in Monastir. The Greeks affixed their stamp—and collected handsomely for doing so—because, theoretically at least, Salonika, whose dust we were shaking from our feet, belongs to them. The French insisted on viseing our papers in order to show their authority and because they needed the ten francs. The British control officer told me that I really didn't need his vise, but that he would put it on anyway because it would make the passports look more imposing. Because we were going to Constantinople and Bucharest, whereas our passports were made out for "the Balkan States," the American Consul would not vise them at all, on the ground that neither Turkey nor Roumania is in the Balkans. About Roumania he was technically correct, but I think most geographers place European Turkey in the Balkans. As things turned out, however, it was all labor lost and time thrown away, for we landed in Constantinople as untroubled by officials and inspectors as though we were stepping ashore at Twenty-third Street from a Jersey City ferry.
There were no regular sailings from Salonika for Constantinople, but, by paying a hundred dollars for a ticket which in pre-war days cost twenty, we succeeded in obtaining passage on an Italian tramp steamer. The Padova was just such a cargo tub as one might expect to find plying between Levantine ports. Though we occupied an officer's cabin, for which we were charged Mauretania rates, it was very far from being as luxurious as it sounds, for I slept upon a mattress laid upon three chairs and the mattress was soiled and inhabited. Still, it was very diverting, after an itching night, to watch the cockroaches, which were almost as large as mice, hurrying about their duties on the floor and ceiling. Huddled under the forward awnings were two-score deck passengers—Greeks, Turks, Armenians and Roumanians. Sprawled on their straw-filled mattresses, they loafed the hot and lazy days away in playing cards, eating the black bread, olives and garlic which they had brought with them, smoking a peculiarly strong and villainous tobacco, and torturing native musical instruments of various kinds. At night a young Turk sang plaintive, quavering laments to the accompaniment of a sort of guitar, some of the others occasionally joining in the mournful chorus. I found my chief recreation, when it grew too dark to read, in watching an Orthodox priest, who was one of the deck-passengers, prepare for the night by combing and putting up his long and greasy hair. Another of the deck-passengers was a rather prosperous-looking, middle-aged Levantine who had been in America making his fortune, he told me, and was now returning to his wife, who lived in a little village on the Dardanelles, after an absence of sixteen years. She had no idea that he was coming, he said, as he had planned to surprise her. Perhaps he was the one to be surprised. Sixteen years is a long time for a woman to wait for a man, even in a country as conservative as Turkey.
The officers of the Padova talked a good deal about the mine-fields that still guarded the approaches to the Dardanelles and the possibility that some of the deadly contrivances might have broken loose and drifted across our course. In order to cheer us up the captain showed us the charts, on which the mined areas were indicated by diagonal shadings, little red arrows pointing the way between them along channels as narrow and devious as a forest trail. To add to our sense of security he told us that he had never been through the Dardanelles before, adding that he did not intend to pick up a pilot, as he considered their charges exorbitant. At the base of the great mine-field which lies across the mouth of the Straits we were hailed by a British patrol boat, whose choleric commander bellowed instructions at us, interlarded with much profanity, through a megaphone. The captain of the Padova could understand a few simple English phrases, if slowly spoken, but the broadside of Billingsgate only confused and puzzled him, so, despite the fact that he had no pilot and that darkness was rapidly descending, he kept serenely on his course. This seemed to enrage the British skipper, who threw over his wheel and ran directly across our bows, very much as one polo player tries to ride off another.
"You —— fool!" he bellowed, fairly dancing about his quarter-deck with rage. "Why in hell don't you stop when I tell you to? Don't you know that you're running straight into a mine-field? Drop anchor alongside me and do it —— quick or I'll take your —— license away from you. And I don't want any of your —— excuses, either. I won't listen to 'em."
"What he say?" the captain asked me. "I not onderstan' hees Engleesh ver' good."
"No, you wouldn't," I told him. "He's speaking a sort of patois, you see. He wants to know if you will have the great kindness to drop anchor alongside him until morning, for it is forbidden to pass through the mine-fields in the dark, and he hopes that you will have a very pleasant night."
Five minutes later our anchor had rumbled down off Sed-ul-Bahr, under the shadow of Cape Helles, the tip of that rock, sun-scorched, blood-soaked peninsula which was the scene of that most heroic of military failures—the Gallipoli campaign. Above us, on the bare brown hillside, was what looked, in the rapidly deepening twilight, like a patch of driven snow, but upon examining it through my glasses I saw that it was a field enclosed by a rude wall and planted thickly with small white wooden crosses, standing row on row. Then I remembered. It was at the foot of these steep and steel-swept bluffs that the Anzacs made their immortal landing; it is here, in earth soaked with their own blood, that they lie sleeping. The crowded dugouts in which they dwelt have already fallen in; the trenches which they dug and which they held to the death have crumbled into furrows; their bones lie among the rocks and bushes at the foot of that dark and ominous hill on whose slopes they made their supreme sacrifice. Leaning on the rail of the deserted bridge in the darkness and the silence it seemed as though I could see their ghosts standing amid the crosses on the hillside staring longingly across the world toward that sun-baked Karroo of Australia and to the blue New Zealand mountains which they called "Home." It was a night never to be forgotten, for the glassy surface of the AEgean glowed with phosphorescence, the sky was like a hanging of purple velvet, and the peak of our foremast seemed almost to graze the stars. Across the Hellespont, to the southward, the sky was illumined by a ruddy glow—a village burning, so a sailor told me, on the site of ancient Troy. And then there came back to me those lines from Agamemnon which I had learned as a boy:
"Beside the ruins of Troy they lie buried, those men so beautiful; there they have their burial-place, hidden in an enemy's land!"
We got under way at daybreak and, picking our way as cautiously as a small boy who is trying to get out of the house at night without awakening his family, we crept warily through the vast mine-field which was laid across the entrance to the Dardanelles, past Sed-ul-Bahr, whose sandy beach is littered with the rusting skeletons of both Allied and Turkish warships and transports; past Kalid Bahr, where the high bluffs are dotted with the ruins of Turkish forts destroyed by the shell-fire of the British dreadnaughts on the other side of the peninsula and with the remains of other forts which were destroyed in the Crusaders' times; past Chanak, where the steep hill-slopes behind the town were white with British tents, and so into the safe waters of the Marmora Sea. Though I was perfectly familiar with the topography of the Gallipoli Peninsula, as well as with the possibilities of modern naval guns, I was astonished at the evidences, which we saw along the shore for miles, of the extraordinary accuracy of the fire of the British fleet. Virtually all the forts defending the Dardanelles were bombarded by indirect fire, remember, the whole width of the peninsula separating them from the fleet. To get a mental picture of the situation you must imagine warships lying in the East River firing over Manhattan Island in an attempt to reduce fortifications on the Hudson. Men who were in the Gallipoli forts during the bombardment told me that, though they were prevented by the rocky ridge which forms the spine of the peninsula from seeing the British warships, and though, for the same reason, the gunners on the ships could not see the forts, the great steel calling-cards of the British Empire came falling out of nowhere as regularly and with as deadly precision as though they were being fired at point-blank range.
The successful defense of the Dardanelles, one of the most brilliantly conducted defensive operations of the entire war, was primarily due to the courage and stubborn endurance of Turkey's Anatolian soldiery, ignorant, stolid, hardy, fearless peasants, who were taken straight from their farms in Asia Minor, put into wretchedly made, ill-fitting uniforms, hastily trained by German drillmasters, set down in the trenches on the Gallipoli ridge and told to hold them. No one who is familiar with the conditions under which these Turkish soldiers fought, who knows how wretched were the conditions under which they lived, who has seen those waterless, sun-seared ridges which they held against the might of Britain's navy and the best troops which the Allies could bring against them, can withhold from them his admiration. Their valor was deserving of a better cause.
WILL THE SICK MAN OF EUROPE RECOVER?
Each time that I have approached Constantinople from the Marmora Sea and have watched that glorious and fascinating panorama—Seraglio Point, St. Sophia, Stamboul, the Golden Horn, the Galata Bridge, the heights of Pera, Dolmabagtche, Yildiz—slowly unfold, revealing new beauties, new mysteries, with each revolution of the steamer's screw, I have declared that in all the world there is no city so lovely as this capital of the Caliphs. Yet, beautiful though Constantinople is, it combines the moral squalor of Southern Europe with the physical squalor of the Orient to a greater degree than any city in the Levant. Though it has assumed the outward appearance of a well-organized and fairly well administered municipality since its occupation by the Allies, one has but to scratch this thin veneer to discover that the filth and vice and corruption and misgovernment which characterized it under Ottoman rule still remain. Barring a few municipal improvements which were made in the European quarter of Pera and in the fashionable residential districts between Dolmabagtche and Yildiz, the Turkish capital has scarcely a bowing acquaintance with modern sanitation, the windows of some of the finest residences in Stamboul looking out on open sewers down which refuse of every description floats slowly to the sea or takes lodgment on the banks, these masses of decaying matter attracting great swarms of pestilence-breeding flies. The streets are thronged with women whose virtue is as easy as an old shoe, attracted by the presence of the armies as vultures are attracted by the smell of carrion. Saloons, brothels, dives and gambling hells run wide open and virtually unrestricted, and as a consequence venereal diseases abound, though the British military authorities, in order to protect their own men, have put the more notorious resorts "out of bounds" and, in order to provide more wholesome recreations for the troops, have opened amusement parks called "military gardens." In spite of the British, French, Italian and Turkish military police who are on duty in the streets, stabbing affrays, shootings and robberies are so common that they provoke but little comment. Petty thievery is universal. Hats, coats, canes, umbrellas disappear from beside one's chair in hotels and restaurants. The Pera Palace Hotel has notices posted in its corridors warning the guests that it is no longer safe to place their shoes outside their doors to be polished. The streets, always wretchedly paved, have been ground to pieces by the unending procession of motor-lorries, and, as they are never by any chance repaired, the first rain transforms them into a series of hog-wallows. The most populous districts of Pera, of Galata, and of Stamboul are now disfigured by great areas of fire-blackened ruins—reminders of the several terrible conflagrations from which the Turkish capital has suffered in recent years. "Should the United States decide to accept the mandate for Constantinople," a resident remarked to me, "these burned districts would give her an opportunity to start rebuilding the city on modern sanitary lines" and, he might have added, at American expense.
The prices of necessities are fantastic and of luxuries fabulous. The cost of everything has advanced from 200 to 1,200 per cent. The price of a meal is no longer reckoned in piastres but in Turkish pounds, though this is not as startling as it sounds, for the Turkish lira has dropped to about a quarter of its normal value. Quite a modest dinner for two at such places as Tokatlian's, the Pera Palace Hotel, or the Pera Gardens, costs the equivalent of from fifteen to twenty dollars. Everything else is in proportion. From the "Little Club" in Pera to the Galata Bridge is about a seven minutes' drive by carriage. In the old days the standard tariff for the trip was twenty-five cents. Now the cabmen refuse to turn a wheel for less than two dollars.
Speaking of money, the chief occupation of the traveler in the Balkans is exchanging the currency of one country for that of another: lira into dinars, dinars into drachmae, drachmae into piastres, piastres into leva, leva into lei, lei into roubles (though no one ever exchanges his money for roubles if he can possibly help it), roubles into kronen, and kronen into lire again. The idea is to leave each country with as little as possible of that country's currency in your possession. It is like playing that card game in which you are penalized for every heart you have left in your hand.
"But how is the Sick Man?" I hear you ask.
He is doing very nicely, thank you. In fact, he appears to be steadily improving. There was a time, shortly after the Armistice, when it seemed certain that he would have to submit to an operation, which he probably would not have survived, but the surgeons disagreed as to the method of operating and now it looks as though he would get well in spite of them. He has a chill every time they hold a consultation, of course, but he will probably escape the operation altogether, though he may have to take some extremely unpleasant medicine and be kept on a diet for several years to come. He has remarkable recuperative powers, you know, and his friends expect to see him up and about before long.
That may sound flippant, as it is, but it sums up in a single paragraph the extraordinary political situation which exists in Turkey to-day. Little more than a year ago Turkey surrendered in defeat, her resources exhausted, her armies destroyed or scattered. If anything in the world seemed certain at that time it was that the redhanded nation, whose very name has for centuries been a synonym for cruelty and oppression, would disappear from the map of Europe, if not from the map of the world, at the behest of an outraged civilization. The Turkish Government committed the most outrageous crime of the entire war when it organized the systematic extermination of the Armenians. Its former Minister of War, Enver Pasha, has been quoted as cynically remarking, "If there are no more Armenians there can be no Armenian question." A people capable of such barbarity ought no longer be permitted to sully Europe with their presence: they ought to be driven back into those savage Anatolian regions whence they came and kept there, just as those suffering from a less objectionable form of leprosy are confined on Molokai. But the fervor of a year ago for expelling the Turks from Europe is rapidly dying down. In the spring of 1919 Turkey could have been partitioned by the Allies with comparatively little friction. No one expected it more than Turkey herself. Whenever she heard a step on the floor, a knock at the door, she keyed herself for the ordeal of the anesthetic and the operating table. But the ancient jealousies and rivalries of the Entente nations, which had been forgotten during the war, returned with peace and now it looks as though, as a result of these nations' distrust and suspicion of each other, the Turks would win back by diplomacy what they lost in battle. How History repeats itself! The Turks have often been unlucky in war and then had a return of luck at the peace table. It was so after the Russo-Turkish War, when the Congress of Berlin tore up the Treaty of San Stefano. It was so to a lesser extent after the Balkan wars, when the interference of the European Concert enabled Turkey to recover Adrianople and a portion of the Thracian territory which she had lost to Bulgaria. And now it looks as though she were once again to escape the punishment she so richly merits. If she does, then History will chronicle few more shameful miscarriages of justice.
If the people of the United States could know for a surety of the avarice, the selfishness, the cynicism which have marked every step of the negotiations relative to the settlement of the Near Eastern Question, if they were aware of the chicanery and the deceit and the low cunning practised by the European diplomatists, I am convinced that there would be an irresistible demand that we withdraw instantly from participation in the affairs of Southeastern Europe and of Western Asia. Why not look the facts in the face? Why not admit that these affairs are, after all, none of our concern, and that, by every one save the Turks and the Armenians, our attempted dictation is resented. In the language of the frontier, we have butted into a game in which we are not wanted. It is no game for up-lifters or amateurs. England, France, Italy and Greece are not in this game to bring order out of chaos but to establish "spheres of influence." They are not thinking about self-determination and the rights of little peoples and making the world safe for Democracy; they are thinking in terms of future commercial and territorial advantage. They are playing for the richest stakes in the history of the world: for the control of the Bosphorus and the Bagdad Railway—for whoever controls them controls the trade routes to India, Persia, and the vast, untouched regions of Transcaspia; the commercial domination of Western Asia, and the overlordship of that city which stands at the crossroads of the Eastern World and its political capital of Islam.
In order better to appreciate the subtleties of the game which they are playing, let us glance over the shoulders of the players, and get a glimpse of their hands. Take England to begin with. Unless I am greatly mistaken, England is not in favor of a complete dismemberment of Turkey or the expulsion of the Sultan from Constantinople. This is a complete volte face from the sentiment in England immediately after the war, but during the interim she has heard in no uncertain terms from her 100,000,000 Mohammedan subjects in India, who look on the Turkish Sultan as the head of their religion and who would resent his humiliation as deeply, and probably much more violently, than the Roman Catholics would resent the humiliation of the Pope. British rule in India, as those who are in touch with Oriental affairs know, is none too stable, and the last thing in the world England wants to do is to arouse the hostility of her Moslem subjects by affronting the head of their faith. England will unquestionably retain control of Mesopotamia for the sake of the oil wells at the head of the Persian Gulf, the control which it gives her of the eastern section of the Bagdad Railway, and because of her belief that scientific irrigation will once more transform the plains of Babylonia into one of the greatest wheat-producing regions in the world. She may, and probably will, keep her oft-repeated promises to the Jews by erecting Palestine into a Hebrew kingdom under British protection, if for no other reason than its value as a buffer state to protect Egypt. She will also, I assume, continue to foster and support the policy of Pan-Arabism, as expressed In the new Kingdom of the Hedjaz, not alone for the reason that control of the Arabian peninsula gives her complete command of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf as well as a highroad from Egypt to her new protectorate of Persia, but because she hopes, I imagine, that her protege, the King of Hedjaz, as Sheriff of Mecca, will eventually supplant the Sultan as the religious head of Islam. (It is interesting to note, in passing, that, as a result of the protectorates which she has proclaimed over Mesopotamia, Palestine, Arabia and Persia, England has, as a direct result of the war, obtained control of new territories in Asia alone having an area greater than that of all the states east of the Mississippi put together, with a population of some 20,000,000.) Though England would unquestionably welcome the United States accepting a mandate for Constantinople, which would ensure the neutrality of the Bosphorus, and for Armenia, which, under American protection, would form a stabilized buffer state on Mesopotamia's northern border, I am convinced that, even if the United States refuses such mandates, the British Government will oppose the serious humiliation of the Sultan-Khalif, or the complete dismemberment of his dominions.
The latest French plan is to establish an independent Turkey from Adrianople to the Taurus Mountains, lopping off Syria, which will become a French protectorate, and Mesopotamia and Palestine, which will remain under British control.
Constantinople, according to the French view, must remain independent, though doubtless the freedom of the Straits would be assured by some form of international control. France is not particularly enthusiastic about the establishment of an independent Armenia, for many French politicians believe that the interests of the Armenians can be safeguarded while permitting them to remain under the nominal suzerainty of Turkey, but she will oppose no active objections to Armenian independence. But there must be no crusade against the Turkish Nationalists who are operating in Asia Minor and no pretext given for Nationalist massacres of Greeks and Armenians. And the Sultan must retain the Khalifate and his capital in Constantinople, for, according to the French view, it is far better for the interests of France, who has nearly 30,000,000 Moslem subjects of her own, to have an independent head of Islam at Constantinople, where he would be to a certain extent under French influence, than to have a British-controlled one at Mecca. The truth of the matter is that France is desperately anxious to protect her financial interests in Turkey, which are already enormous, and she knows perfectly well that her commercial and financial ascendency on the Bosphorus will suddenly wane if the Empire should be dismembered. That is the real reason why she is cuddling up to the Sick Man. Being perfectly aware that neither England nor Italy would consent to her becoming the mandatary for Constantinople, she proposes to do the next best thing and rule Turkey in the future, as in the past, through the medium of her financial interests. Sophisticated men who have read the remarkable tributes to Turkey which have been appearing in the French press, and its palliation of her long list of crimes, have been aware that something was afoot, but only those who have been on the inside of recent events realize how enormous are the stakes, and how shrewd and subtle a game France is playing.
Strictly speaking, Italy is not one of the claimants to Constantinople. Not that she does not want it, mind you, but because she knows that there is about as much chance of her being awarded such a mandate as there is of her obtaining French Savoy, which she likewise covets. Under no conceivable conditions would France consent to the Bosphorus passing under Italian control; according to French views, indeed, Italy is already far too powerful in the Balkans. Recognizing the hopelessness of attempting to overcome French opposition, Italy has confined her claims to the great rich region of Cilicia, which roughly corresponds to the Turkish vilayet of Adana, a rich and fertile region in southern Asia Minor, with a coast line stretching from Adana to Alexandretta. Cilicia, I might mention parenthetically, is usually included in the proposed Armenian state, and Armenians have anticipated that Alexandretta would be their port on the Mediterranean, but, while the peacemakers at Paris have been discussing the question, Italy has been pouring her troops into this region, having already occupied the hinterland as far back as Konia. Italy's sole claim to this region is that she wants it and that she is going to take it while the taking is good. There are, it is true, a few Italians along the coast, there are some Italian banks, and considerable Italian money has been invested in various local projects, but the population is overwhelmingly Turkish. But, as the Italians point out in defending this piece of land-grabbing, Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations expressly states that the wishes of people not yet civilized need not be considered.
Let us now consider the claims of Greece as a reversionary of the Sick Man's estate. Considering their attitude during the early part of the war (for it is no secret that General Sarrail's operations in Macedonia were seriously hampered by his fear that Greece might attack him in the rear) and the paucity of their losses in battle, the Greeks have done reasonably well in the game of territory grabbing. Do you realize, I wonder, the full extent of the Hellenic claims? Greece asks for (1) the southern portion of Albania, known as North Epirus; (2) for the whole of Bulgarian Thrace, thus completely barring Bulgaria from the AEgean; (3) for the whole of European Turkey, including the Dardanelles and Constantinople; (4) for the province of Trebizond, on the southern shore of the Black Sea, the Greek inhabitants of which attempted to establish the so-called Pontus Republic; (5) the great seaport of Smyrna, with its 400,000 inhabitants, and a considerable portion of the hinterland, which she has already occupied; (6) the Dodecannessus Islands, of which the largest is Rhodes, off the western coast of Asia Minor, which the Italians occupied during the Turco-Italian War and which they have not evacuated; (7) the cession of Cyprus by England, which has administered it since 1878. Greece's modest demands might be summed up in the words of a song which was popular in the United States a dozen years ago and which might appropriately be adopted by the Greeks as their national anthem:
"All I want is fifty million dollars, A champagne fountain flowing at my feet; J. Pierpont Morgan waiting at the table, And Sousa's band a-playing while I eat."
I will be quite candid in saying that I have small sympathy for Greece's claims to these territories, not because she is not entitled to them on the ground of nationality—for there is no denying that, in all of the regions in question, save only Albania and Thrace, Greeks form a majority of the Christian inhabitants—but because she is not herself sufficiently advanced to be entrusted with authority over other races, particularly over Mohammedans. The atrocities committed by Greek troops on the Moslems of Albania and of Smyrna, to say nothing of the behavior of the Greek bands in Macedonia during the Balkan wars, should be sufficient proof of her unfitness to govern an alien race. I have already spoken in some detail of the reported Greek outrages in Albania. But this was not an isolated instance of the methods employed in "Hellenizing" Moslem populations. In the spring of 1919 the Peace Conference, hypnotized, apparently, by M. Venizelos, who is one of the ablest diplomats of the day, made the mistake of permitting Greek forces, unaccompanied by other troops, to land at Smyrna. Almost immediately there began an indiscriminate slaughter of Turkish officials and civilians, in retaliation, so the Greeks assert, for the massacre of Greeks by Turks in the outlying districts. The obvious answer to this is that, while the Greeks claim that they are a civilized race, they assert that the Turks are not. The outcry against the Greeks on this occasion was so great that an inter-allied commission, including American representatives, was appointed to make a thorough investigation. This commission unanimously found the Greeks guilty of the unprovoked massacre of 800 Turkish men, women and children, who were shot down in cold blood while being marched along the Smyrna waterfront, those who were not killed instantly being thrown by Greek soldiers into the sea. High handed and outrageous conduct by Greek troops in the towns and villages back of Smyrna was also proved. I do not require any further testimony as to the unwisdom of placing Mohammedans under Greek control, but, if I did, I have the evidence of Mr. Hamlin, the son of the founder of Roberts College, who was born in the Levant, who speaks both Turkish and Greek, and who was sent to Smyrna by the Greek government as an investigator and adviser. He told me that the Greek attitude toward the Moslems was highly provocative and overbearing and that the Allies were guilty of criminal negligence when they permitted the Greeks to land at Smyrna alone.
Though they know that their dream of restoring Hellenic rule over Byzantium cannot be realized, the Greeks are bitterly opposed to the United States receiving a mandate for Constantinople. The extent of Greek hostility toward the United States is not appreciated in America, yet I found traces of it everywhere in the Levant. A widespread Greek propaganda has laid the responsibility for Greece's failure to get the whole of Thrace at the door of the United States. To this accusation has been added the charge that Americans were foremost in creating sentiment against the Greek massacres in Smyrna, which, the Greeks contend, was merely an unfortunate incident and should be overlooked. All sorts of extraordinary reasons are advanced for America's alleged hostility to Greek claims, ranging from the charge that our attitude is inspired by the missionaries (for the Orthodox Church has always opposed the presence of American missionaries in Greek lands) to commercial ambition. As one leading Greek paper put it, "Alongside of America's greed and schemes for commercial expansion since the war, Germany's imperialism was pure idealism."
And now a few words as to the attitude of Turkey herself, for she has, after all, a certain interest in the matter. The Turks are perfectly resigned to accepting either America, England or France as mandatary, though they would much prefer America, provided that European Turkey, Anatolia and Armenia are kept together, for they realize that Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia, whose populations are overwhelmingly Arab, are lost to them forever. What they would most eagerly welcome would be an American mandate for European Turkey and the whole of Asia Minor, including Armenia. This would keep out the Greeks, whom they hate, and the Italians, whom they distrust, and it would keep intact the most valuable portion of the Empire and the part for which they have the deepest sentimental attachment. Most Turks believe that, with America as the mandatary power, the country would not only benefit enormously through the railways, roads, harbor works, agricultural projects, sanitary improvements and financial reforms which would be carried out at American expense, as in the Philippines, but that, should the Turks behave themselves and demonstrate an ability for self-government, America would eventually restore their complete independence, as she has promised to restore that of the Filipinos. But if they find that Constantinople and Armenia are to be taken away from them, then I imagine that they would vigorously oppose any mandatary whatsoever. And they could make a far more effective opposition than is generally believed, for, though Constantinople is admittedly at the mercy of the Allied fleet in the Bosphorus, the Nationalist are said to have recruited a force numbering nearly 300,000 men, composed of well-trained and moderately well equipped veterans of the Gallipoli campaign, which is concentrated in the almost inaccessible regions of Central Anatolia. Moreover, Enver Pasha, the former Minister of War and leader of the Young Turk party, who, it is reported, has made himself King of Kurdistan, is said to be in command of a considerable force of Turks, Kurds and Georgians which he has raised for the avowed purpose of ending the troublesome Armenian question by exterminating what is left of the Armenians, and by effecting a union of the Turks, the Kurds, the Mohammedans of the Caucasus, the Persians, the Tartars and the Turkomans into a vast Turanian Empire, which would stretch from the shores of the Mediterranean to the borders of China. Though the realization of such a scheme is exceedingly improbable, it is by no means as far-fetched or chimerical as it sounds, for Enver is bold, shrewd, highly intelligent and utterly unscrupulous and to weld the various races of his proposed empire he is utilizing an enormously effective agency—the fanatical faith of all Moslems in the future of Islam. Neither England nor France have any desire to stir up this hornet's nest, which would probably result in grave disorders among their own Moslem subjects and which would almost certainly precipitate widespread massacres of the Christians in Asia Minor, for the sake of dismembering Turkey and ousting the Sultan.
I have tried to make it clear that there is nothing which the Turks so urgently desire as for the United States to take a mandate for the whole of Turkey. Those who are in touch with public opinion in this country realize, of course, that the people of the United States would never approve of, and that Congress would never give its assent to such an adventure, yet there are a considerable number of well-informed, able and conscientious men—former Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and President Henry King of Oberlin, for example—who give it their enthusiastic support. And they are backed up by a host of missionaries, commercial representatives, concessionaires and special commissioners of one sort and another. When I was in Constantinople the European colony in that city was watching with interest and amusement the maneuvers of the Turks to bring the American officials around to accepting this view of the matter. They "rushed" the rear admiral who was acting as American High Commissioner and his wife as the members of a college fraternity "rush" a desirable freshman. And, come to think of it, most of the American officials who were sent out to investigate and report on conditions in Turkey are freshmen when it comes to the complexities of Near Eastern affairs. This does not apply, of course, to such men as Consul-General Ravndal at Constantinople, Consul-General Horton at Smyrna, Dr. Howard Bliss, President of the Syrian Protestant College at Beirut, and certain others, who have lived in the Levant for many years and are intimately familiar with the intricacies of its politics and the characters of its peoples. But it does apply to those officials who, after hasty and personally conducted tours through Asiatic Turkey, or a few months' residence in the Turkish capital, are accepted as "experts" by the Peace Conference and by the Government at Washington. When I listen to their dogmatic opinions on subjects of which most of them were in abysmal ignorance prior to the Armistice, I am always reminded of a remark once made to me by Sir Edwin Pears, the celebrated historian and authority on Turkish affairs. "I don't pretend to understand the Turkish character," Sir Edwin remarked dryly, "but, you see, I have lived here only forty years."
It is an interesting and altruistic scheme, this proposed regeneration at American expense of a corrupt and decadent empire, but in their enthusiasm its supporters seem to have overlooked several obvious objections. In the first place, though both England and France are perfectly willing to have the United States accept a mandate for European Turkey, Armenia and even Anatolia, I doubt if England would welcome with enthusiasm a proposal that she should evacuate Palestine and Mesopotamia, the conquest of which has cost her so much in blood and gold, or whether France would consent to renounce her claims to Syria, of which she has always considered herself the legatee. As for Italy and Greece, I imagine that it would prove as difficult to oust the one from Adalia and the other from Smyrna as it has been to oust the Poet from Fiume. Secondly, such a mandate would mean the end of Armenia's dream of independence, for, though she might be given a certain measure of autonomy, and though she would, of course, no longer be exposed to Turkish massacres, she would enjoy about as much real independence under such an arrangement as the native states of India enjoy under the British Raj. Lastly, nothing is further from our intention, if I know the temper of my countrymen, than to assume any responsibility in order to resurrect the Turk, nor are we interested in preserving the integrity of Turkey in any guise, shape or form. Instead of perpetuating the unspeakable rule of the Osmanli, we should assist in ending it forever.
And now we come to the question of accepting a mandate for Armenia. In order to get a mental picture of this foundling which we are asked to rear you must imagine a country about the size of North Dakota, with Dakota's cold winters and scorching summers, consisting of a dreary, monotonous, mile-high plateau with grass-covered, treeless mountains and watered by many rivers, whose valleys form wide strips of arable land. Rising above the general level of this Armenian tableland are barren and forbidding ranges, broken by many gloomy gorges, which culminate, on the extreme northeast, in the mighty peak of Ararat, the traditional resting-place of the Ark. Armenia is completely hemmed in by alien and potentially hostile races. On the northeast are the wild tribes of the Caucasus; on the east are the Persians, who, though not hostile to Armenian aspirations, are of the faith of Islam; along Armenia's southern border are the Kurds, a race as savage, as cruel and as relentless as were the Apaches of our own West; on the east is Anatolia, with its overwhelmingly Ottoman population. Before the war the Armenians in the six Turkish vilayets—Trebizond, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis, Mamuret-el-Aziz and Diarbekir—numbered perhaps 2,000,000, as compared with about 700,000 Turks. But there is no saying how many Armenians remain, for during the past five years the Turks have perpetrated a series of wholesale massacres in order to be able to tell the Christian Powers, as a Turkish official cynically remarked, that "one cannot make a state without inhabitants."
As just and accurate an estimate of the Armenian character as any I have read is that written by Sir Charles William Wilson, perhaps the foremost authority on the subject, for the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "The Armenians are essentially an Oriental people, possessing, like the Jews, whom they resemble in their exclusiveness and widespread dispersion, a remarkable tenacity of race and faculty of adaptation to circumstances. They are frugal, sober, industrious and intelligent and their sturdiness of character has enabled them to preserve their nationality and religion under the sorest trials. They are strongly attached to old manners and customs but have also a real desire for progress which is full of promise. On the other hand they are greedy of gain, quarrelsome in small matters, self-seeking and wanting in stability; and they are gifted with a tendency to exaggeration and a love of intrigue which has had an unfortunate effect on their history. They are deeply separated by religious differences and their mutual jealousies, their inordinate vanity, their versatility and their cosmopolitan character must always be an obstacle to a realization of the dreams of the nationalists. The want of courage and selfreliance, the deficiency in truth and honesty sometimes noticed in connection with them, are doubtless due to long servitude under an unsympathetic government."
It seems to me that it is time to subordinate sentiment to common sense in discussing the question of Armenia. I have known many Armenians and I have the deepest sympathy for the woes of that tragic race, but if the Armenians are in danger of extermination their fate is a matter for the Allies as a whole, or for the League of Nations, if there ever is one, but not for the United States alone. To administer and police Armenia would probably require an army corps, or upwards of 50,000 men, and I doubt if a force of such size could be raised for service in so remote and inhospitable a region without great difficulty. My personal opinion is that the Armenians, if given the necessary encouragement and assistance, are capable of governing themselves. Certainly they could not govern themselves more wretchedly than the Mexicans, yet there has been no serious proposal that the United States should take a mandate for Mexico. Everything considered, I am convinced that the highest interests of Armenia, of America, and of civilization would be best served by making Armenia an independent state, having much the same relation to the United States as Cuba. Let us finance the Armenian Republic by all means, let us lend it officers to organize its gendarmerie and teachers for its schools, let us send it agricultural and sanitary and building and financial experts, and let us give the rest of the world, particularly the Turks, to understand that we will tolerate no infringement of its sovereignly. Do that, set the Armenians on their feet, safeguard them politically and financially, and then leave them to work out their own salvation.
Though prophesying is a dangerous business, and likely to lead to embarrassment and chagrin for the prophet, I am willing to hazard a guess that the future maps of what was once the Ottoman Dominions will be laid out something after this fashion: Mesopotamia will be tinted red, because it will be British. Palestine will also be under Britain's aegis—a little independent Hebrew state, not much larger than Panama. Under the word "Syria" will appear the inscription "French Protectorate." The Adalia region will be designated "Italian Sphere of Influence," while Smyrna and its immediate hinterland will probably be labeled "Greek Sphere." Across the northeastern corner of Asia Minor will be spread the words "Republic of Armenia" and beneath, in parentheses, "Independence guaranteed by the United States." The whole of Anatolia, save the Greek and Italian fringes just mentioned, will be occupied and ruled by the Turks, for it is their ancestral home. The fortifications along the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus will be leveled and they, with Constantinople, will be under some form of international control, with equal rights for all nations. But, unless I am very much mistaken, the Turks will not be driven out of Europe, as has so long been predicted; the Ottoman Government will not retire to Brusa, in Asia Minor, but will continue to function in Stamboul, and the Sultan, as the religious head of Islam, will still dwell in the great white palace atop of Yildiz hill.
WHAT THE PEACE-MAKERS HAVE DONE ON THE DANUBE
When I called upon M. Bratianu, the Prime Minister of Rumania, who was in Paris as a delegate to the Peace Conference, I opened the conversation by innocently remarking that I proposed to spend some weeks in his country during my travels in the Balkans. But I got no further, for M. Bratianu, whose tremendous shoulders and bristling black beard make him appear even larger than he is, sprang to his feet and brought his fist crashing down upon the table.
"You ought to know better than that, Major Powell," he angrily exclaimed. "Rumania is not in the Balkans and never has been. We object to being called a Balkan people."
I apologized for my slip, of course, and amicable relations were resumed, but I mention the incident as an illustration of how deeply the Rumanians resent the inclusion of their country in that group of turbulent kingdoms which compose what some one has aptly called the Cockpit of Europe. The Rumanians are as sensitive in this respect as are the haughty and aristocratic Creoles, inordinately proud of their French or Spanish ancestry, when some ignorant Northerner remarks that he had always supposed that Creoles were part negro. Not only is Rumania not one of the Balkan states, geographically speaking, but the Rumanians' idea of their country's importance has been enormously increased as a result of its recent territorial acquisitions, which have made it the sixth largest country in Europe, with an area very nearly equal to that of Italy and with a population three-fourths that of Spain. You were not aware, perhaps, that the width of Greater Rumania, from east to west, is as great as the width of France from the English Channel to the Mediterranean. One has to break into a run to keep pace with the march of geography these days.
Owing to the demoralization prevailing in Thrace and Bulgaria, railway communications between Constantinople and the Rumanian frontier were so disorganized that we decided to travel by steamer to Constantza, taking the railway thence to Bucharest. Before the war the Royal Rumanian mail steamer Carol I was as trim and luxuriously fitted a vessel as one could have found in Levantine waters. For more than a year, however, she was in the hands of the Bolsheviks, so that when we boarded her her sides were red with rust, her cabins had been stripped of everything which could be carried away, and the straw-filled mattresses, each covered with a dubious-looking blanket, were as full of unwelcome occupants as the Black Sea was of floating mines.
Constantza, the chief port of Rumania, is superbly situated on a headland overlooking the Black Sea. It has an excellent harbor, bordered on one side by a number of large grain elevators and on the other by a row of enormous petroleum tanks—the latter the property of an American corporation; a mile or so of asphalted streets, several surprisingly fine public buildings, and, on the beautifully terraced and landscaped waterfront, an imposing but rather ornate casino and many luxurious summer villas, most of which were badly damaged when the city was bombarded by the Bulgars. Constantza is a favorite seaside resort for Bucharest society and during the season its plage is thronged with summer visitors dressed in the height of the Paris fashion. From atop his marble pedestal in the city's principal square a statue of the Roman poet Ovid, who lived here in exile for many years, looks quizzically down upon the light-hearted throng.
It is in the neighborhood of 150 miles by railway from Constantza to Bucharest and before the war the Orient Express used to make the journey in less than four hours. Now it takes between twenty and thirty. We made a record trip, for our train left Constantza at four o'clock in the morning and pulled into Bucharest shortly before midnight. It is only fair to explain, however, that the length of time consumed in the journey was due to the fact that the bridge across the Danube near Tchernavoda, which was blown up by the Bulgars, had not been repaired, thus necessitating the transfer of the passengers and their luggage across the river on flat-boats, a proceeding which required several hours and was marked by the wildest confusion. So few trains are running in the Balkans that there are never enough, or nearly enough, seats to accommodate all the passengers, so that fully as many ride on the roofs of the coaches as inside. This has the advantage, in the eyes of the passengers, of making it impracticable for the conductor to collect the fares, but it also has certain disadvantages. During our trip from Constantza to Bucharest three roof passengers rolled off and were killed.
As a result of the lengthy occupation of the city by the Austro-Germans, and their systematic removal of machinery and industrial material of every description, everything is out of order in Bucharest. Water, electric lights, gas, telephones, elevators, street-cars "ne marche pas." Though we had a large and beautifully furnished room in the Palace Hotel we had to climb three flights of stairs to reach it, the light was furnished by candles, the water for the bathroom was brought in buckets, and, as the Germans had removed the wires of the house-telephones, we had to go into the hall and shout when we required a servant. Yet the almost total lack of conveniences does not deter the hotels from making the most exorbitant charges. Bucharest has always been an expensive city but to-day the prices are fantastic. At Capsa's, which is the most fashionable restaurant, it is difficult to get even a modest lunch for two for less than twelve dollars. But, notwithstanding the destruction of the nation's chief source of wealth, its oil wells, by the Rumanians themselves, in order to prevent their use by the enemy, and the systematic looting of the country by the invaders, there seems to be no lack of money in Bucharest, for the restaurants are filled to the doors nightly, there is a constant fusillade of champagne corks, and in the various gardens, all of which have cabaret performances, the popular dancers are showered with silver and notes. In fact, a customary evening in Bucharest is not very far removed, in its gaiety and abandon, from a New Year's Eve celebration in New York. Not even Paris can offer a gayer night life than the Rumanian capital, for at the Jockey Club it is no uncommon thing for 10,000 francs to change hands on the turn of a card or a whirl of the roulette wheel; out the Chaussee Kisselew, at the White City, the dance floor is crowded until daybreak with slender, rather effeminate-looking officers in beautiful uniforms of green or pale blue and superbly gowned and bejewelled women. Indeed, I doubt if there is any city of its size in the world on whose streets one sees so many chic and beautiful women, though I might add that their jewels are generally of a higher quality than their morals. As long as these bewitching beauties behave themselves they are not molested by the police, who seem to have an arrangement with the hotel managements looking toward their control. When Mrs. Powell and I arrived at our hotel the proprietor asked us for our passports, which, he explained, must be vised by the police. The following morning my passport was returned alone.
"But where is my wife's passport?" I demanded, for in Southern Europe in these days it is impossible to travel even short distances without one's papers.
"But M'sieu must know that we always retain the lady's passport until he leaves," said the proprietor, with a knowing smile. "Then, should she disappear with M'sieu's watch, or his money, or his jewels, she will not be able to leave the city and the police can quickly arrest her. Yes, it is the custom here. A neat idea, hein?"
Though I succeeded in obtaining the return of Mrs. Powell's passport I am not at all certain that I succeeded in entirely convincing the hotelier that she really was my wife.
Rumania is at present passing through a period of transition. Not only have the area and population of the country been more than doubled, but the war has changed all other conditions and the new forms of national life are still unsettled. In the summer of 1918 even the most optimistic Rumanians doubted if the nation would emerge from the war with more than a fraction of its former territory, yet to-day, as a result of the acquisition of Transylvania, Bessarabia and the eastern half of the Banat, the country's population has risen from seven to fourteen millions and its area from 50,000 to more than 100,000 square miles. The new conditions have brought new laws. Of these the most revolutionary is the law which forbids landowners to retain more than 1,000 acres of their land, the government taking over and paying for the residue, which is given to the peasants to cultivate. As a result of this policy, there have been practically no strikes or labor troubles in Rumania, for, now that most of their demands have been conceded, the Rumanian peasants seem willing to seek their welfare in work instead of Bolshevism. Heretofore the Jews, though liable to military service, have not been permitted a voice in the government of their country, but, as a result of recent legislation, they have now been granted full civil rights, though whether they will be permitted to exercise them is another question. The Jews, who number upwards of a quarter of a million, have a strangle hold on the finances of the country and they must not be permitted, the Rumanians insist, to get a similar grip on the nation's politics. It is only very recently, indeed, that Rumanian Jews have been granted passports, which meant that only those rich enough to obtain papers by bribery could enter or leave the country. The Rumanians with whom I discussed the question said quite frankly that the legislation granting suffrage to the Jews would probably be observed very much as the Constitutional Amendment granting suffrage to the negroes is observed in our own South.
The truth of the matter is that Rumania is in the hands of a clique of selfish and utterly unscrupulous politicians who have grown rich from their systematic exploitation of the national resources. Every bank and nearly every commercial enterprise of importance is in their hands. One of the present ministers entered the cabinet a poor man; to-day he is reputed to be worth twenty millions. Anything can be purchased in Rumania—passports, exemption from military service, cabinet portfolios, commercial concessions—if you have the money to pay for it. The fingers of Rumanian officials are as sticky as those of the Turks. An officer of the American Relief Administration told me that barely sixty per cent, of the supplies sent from the United States for the relief of the Rumanian peasantry ever reached those for whom they were intended; the other forty per cent, was kept by various officials. To find a parallel for the political corruption which exists throughout Rumania it is necessary to go back to New York under the Tweed administration or to Mexico under the Diaz regime.
From a wealthy Hungarian landowner, with whom I traveled from Bucharest to the frontier of Jugoslavia, I obtained a graphic idea of what can be accomplished by money in Rumania. This young Hungarian, who had been educated in England and spoke with a Cambridge accent, possessed large estates in northeastern Hungary. After four years' service as an officer of cavalry he was demobilized upon the signing of the Armistice. When the revolution led by Bela Kun broke out in Budapest he escaped from that city on foot, only to be arrested by the Rumanians as he was crossing the Rumanian frontier. Fortunately for him, he had ample funds in his possession, obtained from the sale of the cattle on his estate, so that he was able to purchase his freedom after spending only three days in jail. But his release did not materially improve his situation, for he had no passport and, as Hungary was then under Bolshevist rule, he was unable to obtain one. And he realized that without a passport it would be impossible for him to join his wife and children, who were awaiting him in Switzerland. As luck would have it, however, he was slightly acquainted with the prefect of a small town in Transylvania—for obvious reasons I shall not mention its name—which he finally reached after great difficulty, traveling by night and lying hidden by day so as to avoid being halted and questioned by the Rumanian patrols. By paying the prefect 1,000 francs and giving him and his friends a dinner at the local hotel, he obtained a certificate stating that he was a citizen of the town and in good standing with the local authorities. Armed with this document, which was sufficient to convince inquisitive border officials of his Rumanian nationality, he took train for Bucharest, where he spent five weeks dickering for a Rumanian passport which would enable him to leave the country. Including the bribes and entertainments which he gave to officials, and gifts of one sort and another to minor functionaries, it cost him something over 25,000 francs to obtain a passport duly vised for Switzerland. But my friend's anxieties did not end there, for a Rumanian leaving the country was not permitted to take more than 1,000 francs in currency with him, those suspected of having in their possession funds in excess of this amount being subjected to a careful search at the frontier. My friend had with him, however, something over 500,000 francs, all that he had been able to realize from his estates. How to get this sum out of the country was a perplexing problem, but he finally solved it by concealing the notes, which were of large denomination, in the bottom of a box of expensive face powder, which, he explained to the officials at the frontier, he was taking as a present to his wife. When the train drew into the first Serbian station and he realized that he was beyond the reach of pursuit, he capered up and down the platform like a small boy when school closes for the long vacation.
Considerable astonishment seems to have been manifested by the American press and public at the disinclination of Rumania and Jugoslavia to sign the treaty with Austria without reservations. Yet this should scarcely occasion surprise, for the attitude of the great among the Allies toward the smaller brethren who helped them along the road to victory has been at times blameworthy, often inexplicable, and on frequent occasions arrogant and tactless. At the outset of the Peace Conference some endeavor was made to live up to the promises so loudly made that henceforth the rights of the weak were to receive as much attention as those of the strong. Commissions were formed to study various aspects of the questions involved in the peace and upon these the representatives of the smaller nations were given seats. But this did not last long. Within a month Messrs. Wilson, Lloyd-George, Clemenceau and Orlando had made themselves virtually the dictators of the Peace Conference, deciding behind closed doors matters of vital moment to the national welfare of the small states without so much as taking them into consultation. Prime Minister Bratianu, who went to Paris as the head of the Rumanian peace delegation, told me, his voice hoarse with indignation, that the "Big Four," in settling Rumania's future boundaries, had not only not consulted him but that he had not even been informed of the terms decided upon. "They hand us a fountain pen and say 'Sign here,'" the Premier exclaimed, "and then they are surprised if we refuse to affix our signatures to a document which vitally concerns our national future but about which we have never been consulted."
We Americans, of all peoples, should realize that a small nation is as jealous of its independence as a large one. As a matter of fact, Rumania and her sister-states of Southeastern Europe, who still bear the scars of Turkish oppression, are super-sensitive in this respect, the fact that they have so often been the victims of intriguing neighbors making them more than ordinarily suspicious and resentful toward any action which tends to limit their mastery of their own households. Hence they regard that clause of the Treaty of St. Germain providing for the protection of ethnical minorities with an indignation which cannot easily be appreciated by the Western nations. The boundaries of the new and aggrandized states of Southeastern Europe will necessarily include alien minorities—this cannot be avoided—and the Peace Conference held that the welfare of such minorities must be the special concern of the League of Nations. Take the case of Rumania, for example. In order to unite her people she must annex some compact masses of aliens which, in certain cases at least, have been deliberately planted within ethnological frontiers for a specific purpose. The settlements of Magyars in Transylvania, who, under Hungarian rule, were permitted to exploit their Rumanian neighbors without let or hindrance, will not willingly surrender the privileges they have so long enjoyed and submit to a regime of strict justice and equality. On the other hand, Rumania can scarcely be expected to agree to an arrangement which would not only impair her sovereignty but would almost certainly encourage intrigue and unrest among these alien minorities. How would the United States regard a proposal to submit its administration of the Philippines to international control? How would England like the League of Nations to take a hand in the government of Ireland? That, briefly stated, is the reason why both Rumania and Jugoslavia objected so strongly to the inclusion of the so-called racial minorities clause in the Treaty of St. Germain. Looking at the other side of the question, it Is easy to understand the solicitude which the treaty-makers at Paris displayed for the thousands of Magyars, Serbs and Bulgars who, without so much as a by-your-leave, they have placed under Rumanian rule. No less authority than Viscount Bryce has made the assertion that in Transylvania alone (which, by the way, has an area considerably greater than all our New England states put together), which has been taken over by Rumania, fully a third of the population has no affinity with the Rumanians. Similarly, there are whole towns in the Dobrudja which are composed of Bulgarians, there are large groups of Russian Slavs in Bessarabia, and considerable colonies of Jugoslavs in the eastern half of the Banat which, very much against their wishes, have been forced to submit to Rumanian rule. Whether, now that the tables are turned, the Rumanians will put aside their ancient animosities and prejudices and give these new and unwilling citizens every privilege which they themselves enjoy, is a question which only the future can solve.
Another question, which has agitated Rumania even more violently than that of the racial minorities clause, was the demand made by the Great Powers that the Rumanian army be withdrawn from Hungary and that the livestock and agricultural implements of which that unhappy country was stripped by the Rumanian forces be immediately returned. Here is the Rumanian version: Hungary went Bolshevist and assumed a hostile attitude toward Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia, the three countries which will benefit by her dismemberment according to the principle of nationality. Hungary attacked these countries by arms and by anarchistic propaganda. The Rumanians, the Czechoslovaks and the Jugoslavs, wishing to defend themselves, asked permission of the Supreme Council to deal drastically with the Hungarian menace. The reply, which was late in coming, was couched in vague and unsatisfactory language. Emboldened by the vacillatory attitude of the Powers, the Hungarians began a military offensive, invading Czechoslovakia and crossing the lines of the Armistice in Rumania and Jugoslavia. In order to prevent a spread of this Bolshevist movement the three countries prepared to occupy Hungary with troops, whereupon a command came from the Supreme Council in Paris that such aggression would not be tolerated. This encouraged Bela Kun, the Hungarian Trotzky, and made him so popular that he succeeded in raising a Red army with which he crossed the River Theiss and invaded Rumania. Whereupon the Rumanian army, being unable to obtain support from the Supreme Council, pushed back the Hungarians, occupied Budapest, overthrew Bela Kun's administration and restored order in Hungary. But the Supreme Council, feeling that its authority had been ignored by the little country, sent several messages to the Rumanian Government peremptorily ordering it to withdraw its troops immediately from Hungary. Here endeth the Rumanian version.
Now the real reason which actuated the Supreme Council was not that it felt that its authority had been slighted, but because it was informed by its representatives in Hungary that the Rumanians had not stopped with ousting Bela Kun and suppressing Bolshevism, but were engaged in systematically looting the country, driving off thousands of head of livestock, and carrying away all the machinery, rolling stock, telephone and telegraph wires and instruments and metalwork they could lay their hands on, thereby completely crippling the industries of Hungary and depriving great numbers of people of employment. The Rumanians retorted that the Austro-German armies had systematically looted Rumania during their three years of occupation and that they were only taking back what belonged to them. The Hungarians, while admitting that Rumania had been pretty thoroughly stripped of animals and machinery by von Mackensen's armies, asserted that this loot had not remained in Hungary but had been taken to Germany, which was probably true. The Supreme Council took the position that the animals and material which the Rumanians were rushing out of Hungary in train-loads was not the sole property of Rumania, but that it was the property of all the Allies, and that the Supreme Council would apportion it among them in its own good time. The Council pointed out, furthermore, that if the Rumanians succeeded in wrecking Hungary industrially, as they were evidently trying to do, it would be manifestly impossible for the Hungarians to pay any war indemnity whatsoever. And finally, that a bankrupt and starving Hungary meant a Bolshevist Hungary and that there was already enough trouble of that sort in Eastern Europe without adding to it. The Rumanians proving deaf to these arguments, the Supreme Council sent three messages, one after the other, to the Bucharest government, ordering the immediate withdrawal from Hungarian soil of the Rumanian troops. Yet the Rumanian troops remained in Budapest and the looting of Hungary continued, the Rumanian government declaring that the messages had never been received. Meanwhile every one in the kingdom, from Premier to peasant, was laughing in his sleeve at the helplessness of the Supreme Council. But they laughed too soon. For the Supreme Council wired to the Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover, who was in Vienna, informing him of the facts of the situation, whereupon Mr. Hoover, who has a blunt and uncomfortably direct way of achieving his ends, sent a curt message to the Rumanian government informing it that, if the orders of the Supreme Council were not immediately obeyed, he would shut off its supplies of food. That message produced action. The troops were withdrawn. I can recall no more striking example of the amazing changes brought about in Europe by the Great War than the picture of this boyish-faced Californian mining engineer coolly giving orders to a European government, and having those orders promptly obeyed, after the commands of the Great Powers had been met with refusal and derision. To take a slight liberty with the lines of Mr. Kipling—
"The Kings must come down and the Emperors frown When Herbert Hoover says 'Stop!'"
Up to that time the United States had been immensely popular in Rumania. But Mr. Hoover's action made us about as popular with the Rumanians as the smallpox. He and we were charged with being actuated by the most despicable and sordid motives. The King himself told me that he was convinced that Mr. Hoover was in league with certain great commercial interests which wished to take their revenge for their failure to obtain commercial concessions of great value in Rumania. A cabinet minister, in discussing the incident with me, became so inarticulate with rage that he could scarcely talk at all.