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Title: The New Frontiers of Freedom from the Alps to the AEgean

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_BY E. ALEXANDER POWELL_

THE NEW FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM
THE ARMY BEHIND THE ARMY
THE LAST FRONTIER
GENTLEMEN ROVERS
THE END OF THE TRAIL
FIGHTING IN FLANDERS
THE ROAD TO GLORY
VIVE LA FRANCE!
ITALY AT WAR

_CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS_


[Illustration: THE QUEEN OF RUMANIA TELLS MAJOR POWELL THAT SHE ENJOYS
BEING A QUEEN]




THE NEW FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM

_FROM THE ALPS TO THE AEGEAN_

BY

E. ALEXANDER POWELL


NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1920

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

_Published April, 1920_



TO A REAL AND LIFELONG FRIEND
MAJOR J. STANLEY MOORE
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE




AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT


Owing to the disturbed conditions which prevailed throughout most of
southeastern Europe during the summer and autumn of 1919, the journey
recorded in the following pages could not have been taken had it not
been for the active cooperation of the Governments through whose
territories we traveled and the assistance afforded by their officials
and by the officers of their armies and navies, to say nothing of the
hospitality shown us by American diplomatic and consular
representatives, relief-workers and others. From the Alps to the AEgean,
in Italy, Dalmatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, Rumania,
Hungary and Serbia we met with universal courtesy and kindness.

For the innumerable courtesies which we were shown in Italy and the
regions under Italian occupation I am indebted to His Excellency
Francisco Nitti, Prime Minister of Italy, and to former Premier
Orlando, to General Armando Diaz, Commander-in-Chief of the Italian
Armies; to Lieutenant-General Albricci, Minister of War; to Admiral
Thaon di Revel, Minister of Marine; to Vice-Admiral Count Enrice Mulo,
Governor-General of Dalmatia; to Lieutenant-General Piacentini,
Governor-General of Albania, to Lieutenant-General Montanari, commanding
the Italian troops in Dalmatia; to Rear-Admiral Wenceslao Piazza,
commanding the Italian forces in the Curzolane Islands; to
Lieutenant-Colonel Antonio Chiesa, commanding the Italian troops in
Montenegro; to Colonel Aldo Aymonino, Captain Marchese Piero Ricci and
Captain Ernesto Tron of the _Comando Supremo_, the last-named being our
companion and cicerone on a motor-journey of nearly three thousand
miles; to Captain Roggieri of the Royal Italian Navy, Chief of Staff to
the Governor-General of Dalmatia; to Captain Amedeo Acton, commanding
the "_Filiberto_"; to Captain Fausto M. Leva, commanding the
"_Dandolo_"; to Captain Giulio Menin, commanding the "_Puglia_," and to
Captain Filipopo, commanding the "_Ardente_," all of whom entertained us
with the hospitality so characteristic of the Italian Navy; to
Lieutenant Giuseppe Castruccio, our cicerone in Rome and my companion on
dirigible and airplane flights; to Lieutenant Bartolomeo Poggi and
Engineer-Captain Alexander Ceccarelli, respectively commander and chief
engineer of the destroyer "_Sirio_," both of whom, by their unfailing
thoughtfulness and courtesy added immeasurably to the interest and
enjoyment of our voyage down the Adriatic from Fiume to Valona; to
Lieutenant Pellegrini di Tondo, our companion on the long journey by
motor across Albania and Macedonia; to Lieutenant Morpurgo, who showed
us many kindnesses during our stay in Salonika; to Baron San Martino of
the Italian Peace Delegation; to Lieutenant Stroppa-Quaglia, attache of
the Italian Peace Delegation, and, above all else, to those valued
friends, Cavaliere Giuseppe Brambilla, Counselor of the Italian Embassy
in Washington; Major-General Gugliemotti, Military Attache, and
Professor Vittorio Falorsi, formerly Secretary of the Embassy at
Washington, to each of whom I am indebted for countless kindnesses. No
list of those to whom I am indebted would be complete, however, unless
it included the name of my valued and lamented friend, the late Count
V. Macchi di Cellere, Italian Ambassador to the United States, whose
memory I shall never forget.

I welcome this opportunity of expressing our appreciation of the
hospitality shown us by their Majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Marie
of Rumania, who entertained us at their Castle of Pelesch, and of
acknowledging my indebtedness to His Excellency M. Bratianu, Prime
Minister of Rumania, and to M. Constantinescu, Rumanian Minister of
Commerce.

I am profoundly appreciative of the honor shown me by His Majesty King
Nicholas of Montenegro, and my grateful thanks are also due to His
Excellency General A. Gvosdenovitch, Aide-de-Camp to the King and former
Minister of Montenegro to the United States.

For the trouble to which they put themselves in facilitating my visit to
Jugoslavia I am deeply grateful to His Excellency M. Grouitch, Minister
from the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to the United States,
and to His Excellency M. Vesnitch, the Jugoslav Minister to France.

From the long list of our own country-people abroad to whom we are
indebted for hospitality and kindness, I wish particularly to thank the
Honorable Thomas Nelson Page, formerly American Ambassador to Italy; the
Honorable Percival Dodge, American Minister to the Kingdom of the Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes; the Honorable Gabriel Bie Ravndal, American
Commissioner and Consul-General in Constantinople; the Honorable Francis
B. Keene, American Consul-General in Rome; Colonel Halsey Yates, U.S.A.,
American Military Attache at Bucharest; Lieutenant-Colonel L.G. Ament,
U.S.A., Director of the American Relief Administration in Rumania, who
was our host during our stay in Bucharest, as was Major Carey of the
American Red Cross during our visit in Salonika; Dr. Frances Flood,
Director of the American Red Cross Hospital in Monastir, and Mrs. Mary
Halsey Moran, in charge of American relief work in Constantza, in whose
hospitable homes we found a warm welcome during our stays in those
cities; Reverend and Mrs. Phineas Kennedy of Koritza, Albania; Dr. Henry
King, President of Oberlin College, and Charles R. Crane, Esquire, of
the Commission on Mandates in the Near East; Dr. Fisher, Professor of
Modern History at Robert College, Constantinople; and finally of three
friends in Rome, Mr. Cortese, representative in Italy of the Associated
Press; Dr. Webb, founder and director of the hospital for facial wounds
at Udine; and Nelson Gay, Esquire, the celebrated historian, all three
of whom shamefully neglected their personal affairs in order to give me
suggestions and assistance.

To all of those named above, and to many others who are not named, I am
deeply grateful.

E. Alexander Powell.

Yokohama, Japan,
February, 1920.




CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

        AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT                                      vii

    I   ACROSS THE REDEEMED LANDS                                1

   II   THE BORDERLAND OF SLAV AND LATIN                        56

  III   THE CEMETERY OF FOUR EMPIRES                           110

   IV   UNDER THE CROSS AND THE CRESCENT                       155

    V   WILL THE SICK MAN OF EUROPE RECOVER?                   176

   VI   WHAT THE PEACE-MAKERS HAVE DONE ON THE DANUBE          206

  VII   MAKING A NATION TO ORDER                               243




ILLUSTRATIONS


The Queen of Rumania tells Major Powell that she
    enjoys being a Queen                                _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

His first sight of the Terra Irridenta                              12

The end of the day                                                  20

A little mother of the Tyrol                                        20

Italy's new frontier                                                28

This is not Venice, as you might suppose, but Trieste               46

At the gates of Fiume                                               60

The inhabitants of Fiume cheering d'Annunzio and his raiders        78

His Majesty Nicholas I, King of Montenegro                         124

Two conspirators of Antivari                                       130

The head men of Ljaskoviki, Albania, waiting to bid Major and
    Mrs. Powell farewell                                           142

The ancient walls of Salonika                                      158

Yildiz Kiosk, the favorite palace of Abdul-Hamid and his
    successors on the throne of Osman                              194

The Red Badge of Mercy in the Balkans                              208

The gypsy who demanded five lei for the privilege of taking
    her picture                                                    234

A peasant of Old Serbia                                            234

King Ferdinand tells Mrs. Powell his opinion of the fashion in
    which the Peace Conference treated Rumania                     240

The wine-shop which is pointed out to visitors as "the Cradle
    of the War"                                                    252




THE NEW FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM




CHAPTER I

ACROSS THE REDEEMED LANDS


It is unwise, generally speaking, to write about countries and peoples
when they are in a state of political flux, for what is true at the
moment of writing may be misleading the next. But the conditions which
prevailed in the lands beyond the Adriatic during the year succeeding
the signing of the Armistice were so extraordinary, so picturesque, so
wholly without parallel in European history, that they form a sort of
epilogue, as it were, to the story of the great conflict. To have
witnessed the dismemberment of an empire which was hoary with antiquity
when the Republic in which we live was yet unborn; to have seen
insignificant states expand almost overnight into powerful nations; to
have seen and talked with peoples who did not know from day to day the
form of government under which they were living, or the name of their
ruler, or the color of their flag; to have seen millions of human
beings transferred from sovereignty to sovereignty like cattle which
have been sold--these are sights the like of which will probably not be
seen again in our times or in those of our children, and, because they
serve to illustrate a chapter of History which is of immense importance,
I have tried to sketch them, in brief, sharp outline, in this book.

Because I was curious to see for myself how the countrymen of Andreas
Hofer in South Tyrol would accept their enforced Italianization; whether
the Italians of Fiume would obey the dictum of President Wilson that
their city must be Slav; how the Turks of Smyrna and the Bulgarians of
Thrace would welcome Hellenic rule; whether the Croats and Slovenes and
Bosnians and Montenegrins were content to remain pasted in the Jugoslav
stamp-album; and because I wished to travel through these disputed
regions while the conditions and problems thus created were still new,
we set out, my wife and I, at about the time the Peace Conference was
drawing to a close, on a journey, made largely by motor-car and
destroyer, which took us from the Adige to the Vardar and from the
Vardar to the Pruth, along more than five thousand miles of those new
national boundaries--drawn in Paris by a lawyer, a doctor and a college
professor--which have been termed, with undue optimism perhaps, the
frontiers of freedom.

Some of the things which I shall say in these pages will probably give
offense to those governments which showed us many courtesies. Those who
are privileged to speak for governments are fond of asserting that
_their_ governments have nothing to conceal and that they welcome honest
criticism, but long experience has taught me that when they are told
unpalatable truths governments are usually as sensitive and resentful as
friends. Now it has always seemed to me that a writer owes his first
allegiance to his readers. To misinform them by writing only half-truths
for the sake of retaining the good-will of those written about is as
unethical, to my way of thinking, as it is for a newspaper to suppress
facts which the public is entitled to know in order not to offend its
advertisers. Were I to show my appreciation of the many kindnesses which
we received from governments, sovereigns and officials by refraining
from unfavorable comment on their actions and their policies, this book
would possess about as much intrinsic value as those sumptuous volumes
which are written to the order of certain Latin-American republics, in
which the authors studiously avoid touching on such embarrassing
subjects as revolutions, assassinations, earthquakes, finances, or
fevers for fear of scaring away foreign investors or depreciating the
government securities.

It is entirely possible that in forming some of my conclusions I was
unconsciously biased by the hospitality and kindness we were shown, for
it is human nature to have a more friendly feeling for the man who
invites you to dinner or sends you a card to his club than for the man
who ignores your existence; it is probable that I not infrequently
placed the wrong interpretation on what I saw and heard, especially in
the Balkans; and, in those cases where I have rashly ventured to indulge
in prophecy, it is more than likely that future events will show that as
a prophet I am not an unqualified success. In spite of these
shortcomings, however, I would like my readers to believe that I have
made a conscientious effort to place before them, in the following
pages, a plain and unprejudiced account of how the essays in map-making
of the lawyer, the doctor and the college professor in Paris have
affected the peoples, problems and politics of that vast region which
stretches from the Alps to the AEgean.

The Queen of the Adriatic never looked more radiantly beautiful than on
the July morning when, from the landing-stage in front of the Danieli,
we boarded the _vapore_ which, after an hour's steaming up the teeming
Guidecca and across the outlying lagoons, set us down at the road-head,
on the mainland, where young Captain Tron, of the Comando Supremo, was
awaiting us with a big gray staff-car. Captain Tron, who had been born
on the Riviera and spoke English like an Oxonian, had been aide-de-camp
to the Prince of Wales during that young gentleman's prolonged stay on
the Italian front. He was selected by the Italian High Command to
accompany us, I imagine, because of his ability to give intelligent
answers to every conceivable sort of question, his tact, and his
unfailing discretion. His chief weakness was his proclivity for
road-burning, in which he was enthusiastically abetted by our Sicilian
chauffeur, who, before attaining to the dignity of driving a staff-car,
had spent an apprenticeship of two years in piloting ammunition-laden
_camions_ over the narrow and perilous roads which led to the positions
held by the Alpini amid the higher peaks, during which he learned to
save his tires and his brake-linings by taking on two wheels instead of
four the hairpin mountain turns. Now I am perfectly willing to travel as
fast as any one, if necessity demands it, but to tear through a region
as beautiful as Venetia at sixty miles an hour, with the incomparable
landscape whirling past in a confused blur, like a motion-picture film
which is being run too fast because the operator is in a hurry to get
home, seems to me as unintelligent as it is unnecessary. Like all
Italian drivers, moreover, our chauffeur insisted on keeping his cut-out
wide open, thereby producing a racket like a machine-gun, which, though
it gave warning of our approach when we were still a mile away, made any
attempt at conversation, save by shouting, out of the question.

Because I wished to follow Italy's new frontiers from their very
beginning, at that point where the boundaries of Italy, Austria and
Switzerland meet near the Stelvio Pass, our course from Venice lay
northwestward, across the dusty plains of Venetia, shimmering in the
summer heat, the low, pleasant-looking villas of white or pink or
sometimes pale blue stucco, set far back in blazing gardens, peering
coyly out at us from between the ranks of stately cypresses which lined
the highway, like daintily-gowned girls seeking an excuse for a
flirtation. Dotting the Venetian plain are many quaint and charming
towns of whose existence the tourist, traveling by train, never dreams,
their massive walls, sometimes defended by moats and draw-bridges,
bearing mute witness to this region's stormy and romantic past. Towering
above the red-tiled roofs of each of these Venetian plain-towns is its
slender campanile, and, as each campanile is of distinctive design, it
serves as a landmark by which the town can be identified from afar.
Through the narrow, cobble-paved streets of Vicenza we swept, between
rows of shops opening into cool, dim, vaulted porticoes, where the
townspeople can lounge and stroll and gossip without exposing themselves
to rain or sun; through Rovereto, noted for its silk-culture and for its
old, old houses, superb examples of the domestic architecture of the
Middle Ages, with faded frescoes on their quaint facades; and so up the
rather monotonous and uninteresting valley of the Adige until, just as
the sun was sinking behind the Adamello, whose snowy flanks were bathed
in the rosy _Alpenglow_, we came roaring into Trent, the capital and
center of the Trentino, which, together with Trieste and its adjacent
territory, composed the regions commonly referred to by Italians before
the war as _Italia Irredenta_--Unredeemed Italy.

Rooms had been reserved for us at the Hotel Trento, a famous tourist
hostelry in pre-war days, which had been used as headquarters by the
field-marshal commanding the Austrian forces in the Trentino, signs of
its military occupation being visible in the scratched wood-work and
ruined upholstery. The spurs of the Austrian staff officers on duty in
Trent, as Major Rupert Hughes once remarked of the American staff
officers on duty in Washington, must have been dripping with furniture
polish.

Trent--or Trento, as its new owners call it--is a place of some 30,000
inhabitants, built on both banks of the Adige, in the center of a great
bowl-shaped valley which is completely hemmed in by towering mountain
walls. In the church of Santa Maria Maggiore the celebrated Council of
Trent sat in the middle of the sixteenth century for nearly a decade. On
the eastern side of the town rises the imposing Castello del Buon
Consiglio, once the residence of the Prince-Bishops but now a barracks
for Italian soldiery.

No one who knows Trent can question the justice of Italy's claims to the
city and to the rich valleys surrounding it, for the history, the
traditions, the language, the architecture and the art of this region
are as characteristically Italian as though it had never been outside
the confines of the kingdom. The system of mild and fertile Alpine
valleys which compose the so-called Trentino have an area of about 4,000
square miles and support a population of 380,000 inhabitants, of whom
375,000, according to a census made by the Austrians themselves, are
Italian. An enclave between Lombardy and Venetia, a rough triangle with
its southern apex at the head of the Lake of Garda, the Trentino,
originally settled by Italian colonists who went forth as early as the
time of the Roman Republic, was for centuries an independent Italian
prince-bishopric, being arbitrarily annexed to Austria upon the fall of
Napoleon. In spite of the tyrannical and oppressive measures pursued by
the Austrian authorities in their attempts to stamp out the affection of
the Trentini for their Italian motherland, in spite of the systematic
attempts to Germanicize the region, in spite of the fact that it was an
offense punishable by imprisonment to wear the Italian colors, to sing
the Italian national hymn, or to have certain Italian books in their
possession, the poor peasants of these mountain valleys remained
unswervingly loyal to Italy throughout a century of persecution. Little
did the thousands of American and British tourists who were wont to make
of the Trentino a summer playground, climbing its mountains, fishing in
its rivers, motoring over its superb highways, stopping in its great
hotels, realize the silent but desperate struggle which was in progress
between this handful of Italian exiles and the empire of the Hapsburgs.

The attitude of the Austrian authorities toward their unwilling subjects
of the Trentino was characterized by a vindictiveness as savage as it
was shortsighted. Like the Germans in Alsace, they made the mistake of
thinking that they could secure the loyalty of the people by awing and
terrorizing them, whereas these methods had the effect of hardening the
determination of the Trentini to rid themselves of Austrian rule. Caesare
Battisti was deputy from Trent to the parliament in Vienna. When war was
declared he escaped from Austria and enlisted in the Italian army,
precisely as hundreds of American colonists joined the Continental Army
upon the outbreak of the Revolution. During the first Austrian offensive
he was captured and sentenced to death, being executed while still
suffering from his wounds. The fact that the rope parted twice beneath
his weight added the final touch to the brutality which marked every
stage of the proceeding. The execution of Battista provided a striking
object-lesson for the inhabitants of the Trentino and of Italy--but not
the sort of object-lesson which the Austrians had intended. Instead of
terrifying them, it but fired them in their determination to end that
sort of thing forever. From Lombardy to Sicily Battista was acclaimed a
hero and a martyr; photographs of him on his way to execution--an erect
and dignified figure, a dramatic contrast to the shambling, sullen-faced
soldiery who surrounded him--were displayed in every shop-window in the
kingdom; all over Italy streets and parks and schools were named to
perpetuate his memory.

Had there been in my mind a shadow of doubt as to the justice of Italy's
annexation of the Trentino, it would have been dissipated when, after
dinner, we stood on the balcony of the hotel in the moonlight, looking
down on the great crowd which filled to overflowing the brilliantly
lighted piazza. A military band was playing _Garibaldi's Hymn_ and the
people stood in silence, as in a church, the faces of many of them wet
with tears, while the familiar strains, forbidden by the Austrian under
penalty of imprisonment, rose triumphantly on the evening air to be
echoed by the encircling mountains. At last the exiles had come home.
And from his marble pedestal, high above the multitude, the great statue
of Dante looked serenely out across the valleys and the mountains which
are "unredeemed" no longer.

[Illustration: HIS FIRST SIGHT OF THE TERRA IRRIDENTA

King Victor Emanuel arriving at Trieste on a destroyer after its
occupation by the Italians]

Though Italy's original claims in this region, as made at the
beginning of the war, included only the so-called Trentino (by which is
generally meant those Italian-speaking districts which used to belong to
the bishopric of Trent) together with those parts of South Tyrol which
are in population overwhelmingly Italian, she has since demanded, and by
the Peace Conference has been awarded, the territory known as the upper
Adige, which comprises all the districts lying within the basin of the
Adige and of its tributary, the Isarco, including the cities of Botzen
and Meran. By the annexation of this region Italy has pushed her
frontier as far north as the Brenner, thereby bringing within her
borders upwards of 180,000 German-speaking Tyrolese who have never been
Italian in any sense and who bitterly resent being transferred, without
their consent and without a plebiscite, to Italian rule.

The Italians defend their annexation of the Upper Adige by asserting
that Italy's true northern boundary, in the words of Eugene de
Beauharnais, written, when Viceroy of Italy, to his stepfather,
Napoleon, "is that traced by Nature on the summits of the mountains,
where the waters that flow into the Black Sea are divided from those
that flow into the Adriatic." Viewed from a purely geographical
standpoint, Italy's contention that the great semi-circular barrier of
the Alps forms a natural and clearly defined frontier, separating her by
a clean-cut line from the countries to the north, is unquestionably a
sound one. Any one who has entered Italy from the north must have
instinctively felt, as he reached the summit of this mighty mountain
wall and looked down on the warm and fertile slopes sweeping southward
to the plains, "Here Italy begins."

Italy further justifies her annexation of the German-speaking Upper
Adige on the ground of national security. She must, she insists, possess
henceforward a strong and easily defended northern frontier. She is
tired of crouching in the valleys while her enemies dominate her from
the mountain-tops. Nor do I blame her. Her whole history is punctuated
by raids and invasions launched from these northern heights. But the new
frontier, in the words of former Premier Orlando, "can be defended by a
handful of men, while therefore the defense of the Trentino salient
required half the Italian forces, the other half being constantly
threatened with envelopment."

As I have already pointed out, the annexation of the Upper Adige means
the passing of 180,000 German-speaking Austrians under Italian
sovereignty, including the cities of Botzen and Meran; the ancient
centers of German-Alpine culture, Brixen and Sterzing; of Schloss Tyrol,
which gives the whole country its name; and, above all, of the Parsier
valley, the home of Andreas Hofer, whose life and living memory provide
the same inspiration for the Germans of Tyrol that the exploits and
traditions of Garibaldi do for the Italians.

That Italy is not insensible to the perils of bringing within her
borders a _bloc_ of people who are not and never will be Italian, is
clearly shown by the following extract from an Italian official
publication:

"In claiming the Upper Adige, Italy does not forget that the highest
valleys are inhabited by 180,000 Germans, a residuum from the
immigration in the Middle Ages. It is not a problem to be taken
light-heartedly, but it is impossible for Italy to limit herself only to
the Trentino, as that would not give her a satisfactory military
frontier. From that point of view, the basin of Bolzano (Bozen) is as
strictly necessary to Italy as the Rhine is to France."

No one has been more zealous in the cause of Italy than I have been; no
one has been more whole-heartedly with the Italians in their splendid
efforts to recover the lands to which they are justly entitled; no one
more thoroughly realizes the agonies of apprehension which Italy has
suffered from the insecurity of her northern borders, or has been more
keenly alive to the grim but silent struggle which has been waged
between her statesmen and her soldiers as to whether the broad
statesmanship which aims at international good-feeling and abstract
justice, or the narrower and more selfish policy dictated by military
necessity, should govern the delimitation of her new frontiers. But,
because I am a friend of Italy, and because I wish her well, I view with
grave misgivings the wisdom of thus creating, within her own borders, a
new _terra irredenta_; I question the quality of statesmanship which
insists on including within the Italian body politic an alien and
irreconcilable minority which will probably always be a latent source of
trouble, one which may, as the result of some unforseen irritation,
break into an open sore. It would seem to me that Italy, in annexing the
Upper Adige, is storing up for herself precisely the same troubles which
Austria did when she held against their will the Italians of the
Trentino, or as Germany did when, in order to give herself a strategic
frontier, she annexed Alsace and Lorraine. When Italy puts forward the
argument that she must hold everything up to the Brenner because of her
fear of invasion by the puny and bankrupt little state which is all that
is left of the Austrian Empire, she is but weakening her case. Her
soundest excuse for the annexation of this region lies in her fear that
a reconstituted and revengeful Germany might some day use the Tyrol as a
gateway through which to launch new armies of invasion and conquest.
But, no matter what her friends may think of the wisdom or justice of
Italy's course, her annexation of the Upper Adige is a _fait accompli_
which is not likely to be undone. Whether it will prove an act of wisdom
or of shortsightedness only the future can tell.

The transition from the Italian Trentino to the German Tyrol begins a
few miles south of Bozen. Perhaps "occurs" would be a more descriptive
word, for the change from the Latin to the Teutonic, instead of being
gradual, as one would expect, is almost startling in its abruptness. In
the space of a single mile or so the language of the inhabitants changes
from the liquid accents of the Latin to the deep-throated gutturals of
the German; the road signs and those on the shops are now printed in
quaint German script; _via_ becomes _weg_, _strada_ becomes _strasse_,
instead of responding to your salutation with a smiling "_Bon giorno_"
the peasants give you a solemn "_Guten morgen_." Even the architecture
changes, the slender, four-square campaniles surmounted by bulging
Byzantine domes, so characteristic of the Trentino, giving place to
pointed steeples faced with colored slates or tiles. On the German side
the towns are better kept, the houses better built, the streets wider
and cleaner than in the Italian districts. Instead of the low,
white-walled, red-tiled dwellings so characteristic of Italy, the houses
begin to assume the aspect of Alpine chalets, with carved wooden
balconies and steep-pitched roofs to prevent the settling of the winter
snows. The plastered facades of many of the houses are decorated with
gaudily colored frescoes, nearly always of Biblical characters or
scenes, so that in a score of miles the traveler has had the whole story
of the Scriptures spread before him. They are a deeply religious people,
these Tyrolean peasants, as is evidenced not only by the many handsome
churches and the character of the wall-paintings on the houses, but by
the amazing frequency of the wayside shrines, most of which consist of
representations of various phases of the Crucifixion, usually carved and
painted with a most harrowing fidelity of detail. Occasionally we
encountered groups of peasants wearing the picturesque velvet jackets,
tight knee-breeches, heavy woolen stockings and beribboned hats which
one usually associates with the Tyrolean yodelers who still inflict
themselves on vaudeville audiences in the United States. As we sped
northward the landscape changed with the inhabitants, the sunny Italian
countryside, ablaze with flowers and green with vineyards, giving way to
solemn forests, gloomy defiles, and crags surmounted by grim, gray
castles which reminded me of the stage-settings for "Tannhaeuser" and
"Lohengrin."

Seen from the summit of the Mendel Pass, the road from Trent to Bozen
looks like a lariat thrown carelessly upon the ground. It climbs
laboriously upward, through splendid evergreen forests, in countless
curves and spirals, loiters for a few-score yards beside the margin of a
tiny crystal lake, and then, refreshed, plunges downward, in a series of
steep white zigzags, to meet the Isarco, in whose company it enters
Bozen. Because the car, like ourselves, was thirsty, we stopped at the
summit of the pass at the tiny hamlet of Madonna di Campiglio--Our Lady
of the Fields--for water and for tea. Should you have occasion to go
that way, I hope that you will take time to stop at the unpretentious
little Hotel Neumann. It is the sort of Tyrolean inn which had, I
supposed, gone out of existence with the war. The innkeeper, a jovial,
white-whiskered fellow, such as one rarely finds off the musical comedy
stage, served us with tea--with rum in it--and hot bread with honey, and
heaping dishes of small wild strawberries, and those pastries which the
Viennese used to make in such perfection. There were five of us,
including the chauffeur and the orderly, and for the food which we
consumed I think that the innkeeper charged the equivalent of a dollar.
But, as he explained apologetically, the war had raised prices terribly.
We were the first visitors, it seemed, barring Austrians and a few
Italian officers, who had visited his inn in nearly five years. Both of
his sons had been killed in the war, he told us, fighting bravely with
their Jaeger battalion. The widow of one of his sons--I saw her; a
sweet-faced Austrian girl--with her child, had come to live with him, he
said. Yes, he was an old man, both of his boys were dead, his little
business had been wrecked, the old Emperor Franz-Joseph--yes, we could
see his picture over the fireplace within--had gone and the new Emperor
Karl was in exile, in Switzerland, life had heard; even the Empire in
which he had lived, boy and man, for seventy-odd years, had disappeared;
the whole world was, indeed, turned upside down--but, Heaven be praised,
he had a little grandson who would grow up to carry the business on.

[Illustration: A LITTLE MOTHER OF THE TYROL

We gave her some candy: it was the first taste of sugar that she had had
in four years]

[Illustration: THE END OF THE DAY

A Tyrolean peasant woman returning from the fields]

"How do you feel," I asked the old man, "about Italian rule?"

"They are not our own people," he answered slowly. "Their language is
not our language and their ways are not our ways. But they are not an
unkind nor an unjust people and I think that they mean to treat us
fairly and well. Austria is very poor, I hear, and could do nothing for
us if she would. But Italy is young and strong and rich and the officers
who have stopped here tell me that she is prepared to do much to help
us. Who knows? Perhaps it is all for the best."

Immediately beyond Madonna di Campiglio the highway begins its descent
from the pass in a series of appallingly sharp turns. Hardly had we
settled ourselves in the tonneau before the Sicilian, impatient to be
gone, stepped on the accelerator and the big Lancia, flinging itself
over the brow of the hill, plunged headlong for the first of these
hairpin turns. "Slow up!" I shouted. "Slow up or you'll have us over the
edge!" As the driver's only response to my command was to grin at us
reassuringly over his shoulder, I looked about for a soft place to land.
But there was only rock-plated highway whizzing past and on the outside
the road dropped sheer away into nothingness. We took the first turn
with the near-side wheels in the gutter, the off-side wheels on the
bank, and the car tilted at an angle of forty-five degrees. The second
bend we navigated at an angle of sixty degrees, the off-side wheels on
the bank, the near-side wheels pawing thin air. Had there been another
bend immediately following we should have accomplished it upside down.
Fortunately there were no more for the moment, but there remained the
village street of Cles. We pounced upon it like a tiger on its prey.
Shrilling, roaring and honking, we swooped through the ancient town,
zigzagging from curb to curb. The great-great-grandam of the village was
tottering across the street when the blast of the Lancia's siren pierced
the deafness of a century and she sprang for the sidewalk with the
agility of a young gazelle. We missed her by half an inch, but at the
next corner we had better luck and killed a chicken.

Meran--the Italians have changed its official name to Merano, just as
they have changed Trent to Trento, and Bozen to Bolzano--has always
appealed to me as one of the most charming and restful little towns in
Europe. The last time I had been there, before the war-cloud darkened
the land, its streets were lined with powerful touring cars bearing the
license-plates of half the countries in Europe, bands played in the
parks, the shady promenade beside the river was crowded with
pleasure-seekers, and its great tourist hostelries--there were said to
be upwards of 150 hotels and _pensions_ in the town--were gay with
laughter and music. But this time all was changed. Most of the large
hotels were closed, the streets were deserted, the place was as dismal
as a cemetery. It reminded me of a beautiful house which has been closed
because of its owner's financial reverses, the servants discharged, the
windows boarded up, the furniture swathed in linen covers, the carpets
and hangings packed away in mothballs, and the gardens overrun with
weeds. At the Hotel Savoy, where rooms had been reserved for us, it was
necessary, in pre-war days, to wire for accommodations a fortnight in
advance of your arrival, and even then you were not always able to get
rooms. Yet we were the only visitors, barring a handful of Italian
commercial travelers and the Italian governor-general and his staff. The
proprietor, an Austrian, told me that in the four years of war he had
lost $300,000, and that he, like his colleagues, was running his hotel
on borrowed money. Of the pre-war visitors to Meran, eighty per cent.
had been Germans, he told me, adding that he could see no prospect of
the town's regaining its former prosperity until Germany is on her
financial feet again. Personally, I think that he and the other
hoteliers and business men with whom I talked in Meran were rather more
pessimistic than the situation warranted, for, if Italy will have the
foresight to do for these new playgrounds of hers in the Alps even a
fraction of what she has done for her resorts on the Riviera, and in
Sicily, and along the Neapolitan littoral, if she will advertise and
encourage and assist them, if she will maintain their superb roads and
improve their railway communications, then I believe that a few years, a
very few, will see them thronged by even greater crowds of visitors than
before the war. And the fact that in the future there will be more
American, English, French and Italian visitors, and fewer Germans, will
make South Tyrol a far pleasanter place to travel in.

The Italians are fully alive to the gravity of the problems which
confront them in attempting to assimilate a body of people, as
courageous, as sturdily independent, and as tenacious of their
traditional independence as these Tyrolean mountaineers--descendants of
those peasants, remember, who, led by Andreas Hofer, successfully defied
the dictates of Napoleon. Though I think that she is going about the
business of assimilating these unwilling subjects with tact and common
sense, I do not envy Italy her task. Generally speaking, the sympathy of
the world is always with a weak people as opposed to a strong one, as
England discovered when she attempted to impose her rule upon the Boers.
Once let the Italian administration of the Upper Adige permit itself to
be provoked into undue harshness (and there will be ample provocation;
be certain of that); once let an impatient and over-zealous
governor-general attempt to bend these stubborn mountaineers too
abruptly to his will; let the local Italian officials provide the
slightest excuse for charges of injustice or oppression, and Italy will
have on her hands in Tyrol far graver troubles than those brought on by
her adventure in Tripolitania.

Though the Government has announced that Italian must become the
official language of the newly acquired region, and that used in its
schools, no attempt will be made to root out the German tongue or to
tamper with the local usages and customs. The upper valleys, where
German is spoken, will not, however, enjoy any form of local autonomy
which would tend to set their inhabitants apart from those of the lower
valleys, for it is realized that such differential treatment would only
serve to retard the process of unification. All of the new districts,
German and Italian-speaking alike, will be included in the new province
of Trent. It is entirely probable that Italy's German-speaking subjects
of the present generation will prove, if not actually irreconcilable, at
least mistrustful and resentful, but, by adhering to a policy of
patience, sympathy, generosity and tact, I can see no reason why the
next generation of these mountaineers should not prove as loyal Italians
as though their fathers had been born under the cross of the House of
Savoy instead of under the double-eagle of the Hapsburgs.

We crossed the Line of the Armistice into Austria an hour or so beyond
Meran, the road being barred at this point by a swinging beam, made
from the trunk of a tree, which could be swung aside to permit the
passage of vehicles, like the bar of an old-fashioned country toll-gate.
Close by was a rude shelter, built of logs, which provided sleeping
quarters for the half-company of infantry engaged in guarding the pass.
One has only to cross the new frontier to understand why Italy was so
desperately insistent on a strategic rectification of her northern
boundary, for whereas, before the war, the frontier ran through the
valleys, leaving the Austrians atop the mountain wall, it is now the
Italians who are astride the wall, with the Austrians in the valleys
below.

[Illustration: ITALY'S NEW FRONTIER

A sharp turn on the highroad over the Brenner Pass]

No sooner had we crossed the Line of the Armistice than we noticed an
abrupt change in the attitude of the population. Even in the
German-speaking districts of the Trentino the inhabitants with whom we
had come in contact had been courteous and respectful, though whether
this was because of, or in spite of, the fact that we were traveling in
a military car, accompanied by a staff-officer, I do not know. Now that
we were actually in Austria, however, this atmosphere of seeming
friendliness entirely disappeared, the men staring insolently at us
from under scowling brows, while the women and children, who had less to
fear and consequently were bolder in expressing their feelings,
frequently shouted uncomplimentary epithets at us or shook their fists
as we passed.

Under the terms of the Armistice, Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, was
temporarily occupied by the Italians, who sent into the city a
comparatively small force, consisting in the main of Alpini and
Bersaglieri. Innsbruck was one of the proudest cities of the Austrian
Empire, its inhabitants being noted for their loyalty to the Hapsburgs,
yet I did not observe the slightest sign of resentment toward the
Italian soldiers, who strolled the streets and made purchases in the
shops as unconcernedly as though they were in Milan or Rome. The
Italians, on their part, showed the most marked consideration for the
sensibilities of the population, displaying none of the hatred and
contempt for their former enemies which characterized the French armies
of occupation on the Rhine.

We found that rooms had been reserved for us at the Tyroler Hof, before
the war one of the famous tourist hostelries of Europe, half of which
had been taken over by the Italian general commanding in the Innsbruck
district and his staff. Food was desperately scarce in Innsbruck when we
were there and, had it not been for the courtesy of the Italian
commander in sending us in dishes from his mess, we would have had great
difficulty in getting enough to eat. A typical dinner at the Tyroler Hof
in the summer of 1919 consisted of a mud-colored, nauseous-looking
liquid which was by courtesy called soup, a piece of fish perhaps four
times the size of a postage-stamp, a stew which was alleged to consist
of rabbit and vegetables but which, from its taste and appearance, might
contain almost anything, a salad made of beets or watercress, but
without oil, and for dessert a dish of wild berries, which are abundant
in parts of Tyrol. There was an extra charge for a small cup of black
coffee, so-called, which was made, I imagine, from acorns. This, of
course, was at the best and highest-priced hotels in Innsbruck; at the
smaller hotels the food was correspondingly scarcer and poorer.

Though the inhabitants of the rural districts appeared to be moderately
well fed, a majority of the people of Innsbruck were manifestly in
urgent need of food. Some of them, indeed, were in a truly pitiable
condition, with emaciated bodies, sunken cheeks, unhealthy complexions,
and shabby, badly worn clothes. The meager displays in the shop-windows
were a pathetic contrast to variety and abundance which characterized
them in ante-bellum days, the only articles displayed in any profusion
being picture-postcards, objects carved from wood and similar souvenirs.
The windows of the confectionery and bake-shops were particularly
noticeable for the paucity of their contents. I was induced to enter one
of them by a brave window display of hand-decorated candy boxes, but,
upon investigation, it proved that the boxes were empty and that the
shop had had no candy for four years. The prices of necessities, such as
food and clothing, were fantastic (I saw advertisements of stout,
all-leather boots for rent to responsible persons by the day or week),
but articles of a purely luxurious character could be had for almost
anything one was willing to offer. In one shop I was shown German
field-glasses of high magnification and the finest makes for ten and
fifteen dollars a pair. The local jewelers were driving a brisk trade
with the Italian soldiers, who were lavish purchasers of Austrian war
medals and decorations. Captain Tron bought an Iron Cross of the second
class for the equivalent of thirty cents.

We left Innsbruck in the early morning with the intention of spending
that night at Cortina d'Ampezzo, but, owing to our unfamiliarity with
the roads and to delays due to tire trouble, nightfall found us lost in
the Dolomites. For mile after mile we pushed on through the darkness
along the narrow, slippery mountain roads, searching for a shelter in
which to pass the night. Occasionally the twin beams from our lamps
would illumine a building beside the road and we, chilled and hungry,
would exclaim "A house at last!" only to find, upon drawing nearer,
that, though it had evidently been once a habitation, it was now but a
shattered, blackened shell, a grim testimonial to the accuracy of
Austrian and Italian gunners. It was late in the evening and bitterly
cold, before, rounding a shoulder of the mountain up whose steep
gradients the car seemed to have been panting for ages, we saw in the
distance the welcome lights of the hamlet of Santa Lucia.

I do not think that the public has the slightest conception of the
widespread destruction and misery wrought by the war in these Alpine
regions. In nearly a hundred miles of motoring in the Cadore, formerly
one of the most delightful summer playgrounds in all Europe, we did not
pass a single building with a whole roof or an unshattered wall. The
hospitable wayside inns, the quaint villages, the picturesque peasant
cottages which the tourist in this region knew and loved are but
blackened ruins now. And the people are gone too--refugees, no doubt, in
the camps which the Government has erected for them near the larger
towns. One no longer hears the tinkle of cow-bells on the mountain
slopes, peasants no longer wave a friendly greeting from their doors: it
is a stricken and deserted land. But Cortina d'Ampezzo, which is the
_cheflieu_ of the Cadore, though still showing many traces of the
shell-storms which it has survived, was quickening into life. The big
tourist hotels at either end of the town, behind which the Italians
emplaced their heavy guns, were being refurnished in anticipation of the
resumption of summer travel and the little shops where they sell
souvenirs were reopening, one by one. But the losses suffered by the
inhabitants of these Alpine valleys, desperately serious as they are to
them, are, after all, but insignificant when compared with the enormous
havoc wrought by the armies in the thickly settled Friuli and on the
rich Venetian plains. Every one knows, presumably, that Italy had to
draw more heavily upon her resources than any other country among the
Allies _(did you know that she spent in the war more than four-fifths of
her total national wealth?_) and that she is bowed down under an
enormous load of taxation and a staggering burden of debt. But what has
been largely overlooked is that she is faced by the necessity of
rebuilding a vast devastated area, in which the conditions are quite as
serious, the need of assistance fully as urgent, as in the devastated
regions of Belgium and France.

Probably you were not aware that a territory of some three and a half
million acres, occupied by nearly a million and a half people, was
overrun by the Austrians. More than one-half of Venetia is comprised in
that region lying east of the Piave where the wave of Hunnish invasion
broke with its greatest fury. The whole of Udine and Belluno, and parts
of Treviso, Vicenza and Venice suffered the penalty of standing in the
path of the Hun. They were prosperous provinces, agriculturally and
industrially, but now both industry and agriculture are almost at a
standstill, for their factories have been burned, their machinery
wrecked or stolen, their livestock driven off and their vineyards
destroyed. The damage done is estimated at 500 million dollars. It is
unnecessary for me to emphasize the seriousness of the problem which
thus confronts the Italian Government. Not only must it provide food and
shelter for the homeless--a problem which it has solved by the erection
of great numbers of wooden huts somewhat similar to the barracks at the
American cantonments--but a great amount of livestock and machinery must
be supplied before industry can be resumed. At one period there was such
desperate need of fuel that even the olive trees, one of the region's
chief sources of revenue, were sacrificed. The Italians have set about
the task of regeneration with an energy that discouragement cannot
check. But the undertaking is more than Italy can accomplish unaided,
for the resources of her other provinces are seriously depleted. We are
fond of talking of the debt we owe to Italy, not merely for her
sacrifices in the war, but for all that she has given us in art and
music and literature. Now is the time to show our gratitude.

From Cortina, which is Italian now, we swung toward the north again,
re-crossed the Line of the Armistice at Tarvis, and, just as night was
falling, came tearing into Villach, which, like Innsbruck, was occupied,
under the terms of the Armistice, by Italian troops. We had great
difficulty in obtaining rooms in Villach, not because there were no
rooms but because we were accompanied by an Italian officer and were
traveling in an Italian car. The proprietors of five hotels, upon seeing
Captain Tron's uniform, curtly declared that every room was occupied. It
was nearly midnight before we succeeded in finding shelter for the
night, and this was obtained only when I made it amply clear to the
Austrian proprietor of the only remaining hotel in the town that we were
not Italians but Americans. The unpleasant impression produced by the
coolness of our reception in Villach was materially increased the
following morning, when Captain Tron greeted us with the news that all
of our luggage, which we had left on the car, had been stolen. It
seemed that thieves had broken into the courtyard of the barracks, where
the car had been locked up for the night, and, in spite of the fact that
the chauffeur was asleep in the tonneau, had stripped it of everything,
including the spare tires. I learned afterwards that robberies of this
sort had become so common since the war as scarcely to provoke comment,
portions of Austria being terrorized by gangs of demobilized soldiers
who, taking advantage of the complete demoralization of the machinery of
government, robbed farmhouses and plundered travelers at will. It is
much the same form of lawlessness, I imagine, which manifested itself
immediately after the close of the Napoleonic Wars, when bands of
discharged soldiers sought in robbery the excitement and booty which
they had formerly found under the eagles. Though the local police
authorities attempted to condone the robbery on the ground that it was
due to the appalling poverty of the population, this excuse did not
reconcile my wife to the loss of her entire wardrobe. As she remarked
vindictively, she felt certain that the inhabitants of Villach were
called Villains.

I wished to visit Klagenfurt, the ancient capital of Carinthia, which is
about twenty miles beyond Villach, because at that time the town, which
is a railway junction of considerable strategic and commercial
importance, threatened to provide the cause for an open break between
the Jugoslavs and the Italians. Though the Italians did not demand the
town for themselves, they had vigorously insisted that, instead of being
awarded to Jugoslavia, it should remain Austrian, for, with the triangle
of which Klagenfurt is the center in the possession of the Jugoslavs,
they would have driven a wedge between Italy and Austria and would have
had under their control the immensely important junction-point where the
main trunk line from Venice to Vienna is joined by the line coming up
from Fiume and Trieste. The Jugoslavs, recognizing that the possession
of Klagenfurt would give them virtual control of the principal railway
entering Austria from the south, and that such control would probably
enable them to divert much of Austria's traffic from the Italian ports
of Venice and Trieste to their own port of Fiume, which they
confidently expected would be awarded them by the Peace Conference, lost
no time in occupying the town with a considerable force of troops. They
further justified this occupation by asserting that Jugoslavia was
entitled to Carinthia on ethnological grounds and that the inhabitants
of Klagenfurt were clamoring for Jugoslav rule. In view of these
developments, I had expected to find Jugoslav soldiery in the town, but
I had not expected to be challenged, a mile or so outside the town, by a
sentry who was, judging from his appearance, straight from a _comitadji_
band in the Macedonian mountains. He was a sullen-faced fellow wearing a
fur cap and a nondescript uniform, with an assortment of weapons thrust
in his belt, according to the custom of the Balkan guerrillas, and with
two bandoliers, stuffed with cartridges, slung across his chest. He was
as incongruous a figure in that pleasant German countryside as one of
Pancho Villa's bandits would have been in the Connecticut Valley. And
Klagenfurt, which is a well-built, well-paved, thoroughly modern
Austrian town, was occupied by several hundred of his fellows, brought
from somewhere in the Balkans, I should imagine, for the express
purpose of aweing the population. It was perfectly apparent that the
inhabitants, far from welcoming these fierce-looking fighters as
brother-Slavs and friends, were only too anxious to have them take their
departure, having about as much in common with them, in appearance,
manners and speech, as a New Englander has with an Apache Indian. So
great was the tension existing in Klagenfurt that a commission had been
sent by the Peace Conference to study the question on the spot, its
members communicating with the Supreme Council in Paris by means of
American couriers, slim young fellows in khaki who wore on their arms
the blue brassard, embroidered with the scales of justice, which was the
badge of messengers employed by the Peace Commission.

A few miles outside of Klagenfurt my attention was attracted by an iron
paling, in a field beside the road, enclosing a gigantic chair carved
from stone. My curiosity aroused, I stopped the car to examine it. From
a faded inscription attached to the gate I learned that this was the
crowning chair of the Dukes of Carinthia, in which the ancient rulers of
this region had sat to be crowned. There it stands in a field beside
the highway, neglected and forgotten, a curious link with a picturesque
and far-distant past.

Our route from Klagenfurt led back through Villach to Tarvis and thence
over the Predil Pass to the Friuli plain and Udine, a journey which we
expected to accomplish in a single day; but there were delays in
re-crossing the Line of the Armistice and other and more serious delays
in the mountains, caused by torrential rains which had in places washed
out the road, so that it was already nightfall when, emerging from the
gloomy defile of the Predil Pass, we saw before us the twinkling lights
of the Alpini cantonment at Caporetto, that mountain hamlet of black
memories where, in the summer of 1917, the Austro-German armies, aided
by bad Italian generalship and Italian treachery, smashed through the
Italian lines and forced them back in a headlong retreat which was
checked only by the heroic stand on the Piave. The Caporetto disaster
would have broken the hearts and annihilated the resistance of a less
courageous people than the Italians. Yet the Italian army, shattered and
disorganized as it was, stopped the triumphant progress of the
invaders; stopped it almost without artillery or ammunition, for
hundreds of guns had been abandoned during the retreat; stopped it with
the bodies of Italy's youth, the boys fresh from the training-camps, the
class of 1919, called to the colors two years before their time! They
stopped that victorious rush upon the line of the Piave, a broad,
shallow stream meandering through a flat plain with never a height to
command the enemy's positions, never a physical feature of the terrain
to satisfy the requirements of strategy. Not only was the line of the
Piave held by the Italians against the advice of their Allies, but it
was held in defiance of all the lessons taught by Italian history, for
that the Piave could not be successfully defended has been the judgment
of every military leader since first the barbarians began to sweep down
from the Alps to lay waste the rich Venetian plain. The Italians made
their heroic stand, moreover, without any help from their Allies. That
help came later, it is true, but only after the stand had been made. You
doubt this? Then read this extract from the report of General the Earl
of Caven, who commanded the Allied troops sent to the aid of the
Italians:

"In 1917, in the terrible days which followed the disaster at Caporetto,
I saw, just after my arrival at Venice, the Italian army in full
retreat, and I became convinced that a recovery was impossible before
the arrival of sufficient reenforcement from France and England. But I
was deceived, for shortly afterward I saw the Italian army, which had
seemed to be in the advanced stages of an utter rout, form a solid line
on the Piave and hold it with miraculous persistence, permitting the
English and French reenforcements to take up the positions assigned to
them without once coming in contact with the enemy."

I have heard it said by critics of Italy that the retreat from Caporetto
showed the lack of courage of the Italian soldier. To gauge the courage
of an army a single disaster is as unjust as it is unintelligent. Was
the rout of the Federal forces at Bull Run a criterion of their behavior
in the succeeding years of the Civil War? Was the surrender at Sedan a
true indication of the fighting ability of the French soldier? Every
nation has had its disasters and has had to live them down. Italy did
this when, on the banks of Piave, she turned her greatest disaster into
her most glorious triumph.

Because it was my privilege to be with the Italian army in the field
during various periods of the war, and because I know at first-hand
whereof I speak, I regret and resent the disparagement of the Italian
soldier which has been so freely indulged in since the Armistice. It may
be, of course, that you do not fully realize the magnitude of Italy's
sacrifices and achievements. Did you know, for example, that Italy held
a front longer than the British, Belgian, French and American fronts put
together? Did you know that out of a population of 37 millions she put
into the field an army of 5 million men, whereas France and her
colonies, with nearly double the population, was never able to raise
more than 5,064,000, a considerable proportion of which were black and
brown men? Did you know that in forty-one months of war Italy lost
541,000 in dead and 953,000 in wounded, and that, unlike France and
England, her armies were composed wholly of white men? Did you know
that, in spite of all that has been said about the Allies giving her
assistance, Italy at all times had more troops on the Western front than
the Allies had on the Italian? Did you know that she called up the
class of 1919 two years before their time, a measure which even France,
hard-pressed as she was, did not feel justified in taking? (I have
mentioned this before, but it will bear repetition.) Have you stopped to
think that she was the only one of the Allied nations which won a
clean-cut and decisive victory, when, on the Piave, she attacked with 51
divisions an Austro-German army of 63 divisions, completely smashed it,
forced its surrender, and captured half a million prisoners? Did you
know that she lost more than fifty-seven per cent, of her merchant
tonnage, while England lost less than forty-three per cent, and France
less than forty per cent.? And, finally, had you realized that Italy
made greater sacrifices, in proportion to her resources and population,
than any other country engaged in the war, having devoted four-fifths of
her entire national wealth to the prosecution of the struggle? There is
your answer, chapter and verse, for the next man who sneeringly remarks,
"The Italians didn't do much, did they?"

Just as the Trentino and the Upper Adige have been added to the kingdom
as the Province of Trent, so the redeemed regions of which Trieste is
the center, including the towns of Gorizia, Monfalcone, Capodistria,
Parenzo, Pirano, Rovigno and Pola, have been consolidated in the new
province of Julian Venetia, with about a million inhabitants and an area
of approximately 6,000 square miles.

[Illustration: THIS IS NOT VENICE, AS YOU MIGHT SUPPOSE, BUT TRIESTE

The sails of the fishing craft are of many colors, yellow, burnt-orange,
vermilion. At the head of the canal, its stately columns reflected in
the turquoise waters, the Bourse rises like some ancient Roman temple]

Trieste, which, with its suburbs, has a population of not far from
400,000, with its splendid terminal facilities, its vast harbor-works,
its dry-docks and foundries, its railway communications with the
hinterland, and, above all else, its position as the natural outlet for
the trade of Austria, Bavaria and Czecho-Slovakia, constitutes not only
Italy's most valuable prize of war, but, everything considered, probably
the most important city, commercially at least, to change hands as a
result of the conflict. Curiously enough, Trieste is the least
interesting city of its size, from a visitor's point of view, that I
know. Venice always reminds me of a beautiful and charmingly gowned
woman, perpetually young, interested in art, in music, in literature,
always ready for a stroll, a dance or a flirtation. Trieste, on the
contrary, is a busy, preoccupied, rather brusque business man, wholly
self-made, who has never devoted much time to devote to pleasure because
he has been too busy making his fortune. Venice says, "If you want a
good time, let me show you how to spend your money." But Trieste growls,
"If you want to get rich, let me show you how to invest your money." The
city has broad and well-kept streets bordered by the same sort of
four-and five-and six-story buildings of brick and stone which you find
in any European commercial city; it has several unusually spacious
piazzas on which front some really pretentious buildings; it has a few
arches and doorways dating from the Roman period, though far better ones
can be found in almost any town on the Italian peninsula; on the hill
commanding the city there are an old Austrian fort and an ancient
church, both chiefly interesting for the views they command of the
harbor and the coast of Istria; some of the most abominably rough
pavements which I have ever encountered in any city; one hotel which
just escapes being excellent and several which do not escape being bad;
and a harbor, together with the wharves and moles and machinery which go
with it, which is the Triestino's pride and joy.

To my way of thinking the most interesting sight in Trieste is a small
chateau, built in the castellated fashion which had a considerable vogue
in America shortly after the close of the Civil War, which stands amid
most beautiful gardens on the edge of the sea, two or three miles to the
west of the city. This is the Chateau of Miramar, formerly the residence
of the young Austrian Archduke Maximilian, who, dazzled by the dream of
life on an imperial throne, accepted an invitation to become Emperor of
Mexico and a few years later fell before a Mexican firing-party on the
slopes of Queretaro. Though the chateau has now passed into the
possession of the Italian Government it is still in charge of the aged
custodian who, as a youth, was body-servant to Maximilian. Barring the
fact that the paintings and certain pieces of furniture had been removed
to Vienna to save from injury by aerial bombardment, the interior of the
chateau is much as Maximilian left it when he set out with his bride,
Carlotta, the sister of the late King Leopold of the Belgians, on his
ill-fated adventure. In the study on the ground floor hangs a
photograph, still sharp and clear after the lapse of half a century, of
the members of the delegation--swarthy men in the high cravats and long
frock-coats of the period, some of them wearing the stars and sashes of
orders--who came to Miramar to offer Maximilian the Mexican crown. The
old custodian told me that he witnessed the scene and he pointed out to
me where his young master and the other actors in this, the first act of
the tragedy, stood. How little could the youthful Emperor have dreamed,
as he set sail for those distant shores, that the day would come when
the Dual Monarchy would go down in ruins, when the ancient dynasty of
the Hapsburgs would come to an inglorious end, and when the garden paths
where he and his beautiful young bride used to saunter in the moonlight
would be paced by Italian carabineers.

If you will get out the atlas and turn to the map of Italy you will
notice at the head of the Adriatic a peninsula shaped like the head of
an Indian arrow, its tip aimed toward the unprotected flank of Italy's
eastern coast. This arrow-shaped peninsula is Istria. In the western
notch of the arrowhead, toward Italy, is Trieste--terminus of the
railway to Vienna. In the opposite notch is Fiume--terminus of the
railway which runs across Croatia and Hungary to Budapest. And at the
very tip of the arrow, as though it had been ground to a deadly
sharpness, is Pola, formerly Austria's greatest naval base. Dotting the
western coast of Istria, between Trieste and Pola, are four small
towns--Parenzo, Pirano, Capodistria and Rovigno--all purely and
distinctively Italian, and, on the other side of the peninsula, the
famous resort of Abbazia, popular with wealthy Hungarians and with the
yachtsmen of all nations before the war.

Parenzo, Pirano, Capodistria and Rovigno were all outposts of the
Venetian Republic, forming an outer line of defense against the Slav
barbarians of the interior. Everything about them speaks of Venice: the
snarling Lion of St. Mark which is carved above their gates and
surmounts the marble columns in their piazzas; their old, old
churches--the one at Parenzo was built in the sixth century, being
copied after the famous basilica at Ravenna, across the Adriatic--the
interiors of many of them adorned, like that of St. Mark's in Venice,
with superb mosaics of gold and semi-precious stones; the carved lions'
heads, _bocca del leone_, for receiving secret missives; the delicate
tracery above the doors and windows of the palazzos, and all those other
architectural features so characteristic of the City of the Doges. There
is no questioning what these Istrian coast-towns were or are. They are
as Italian to-day as when, a thousand years ago, they formed a part of
Venice's far-flung skirmish line. But penetrate even a single mile into
the interior of the peninsula and you find a wholly different race from
these Latins of the littoral, a different architecture (if architecture
can be applied to square huts built of sun-dried bricks) and a different
tongue. These people are the Croats, a hardy, industrious agricultural
people, generally illiterate, at least as I found them in Istria, and
with few of the comforts and none of the culture which characterized the
Latin communities on the coast. In short, the towns of the western coast
are undeniably Italian; the rest of the peninsula is solidly Slav.

The interior of Istria consists, in the main, of a barren, monotonous
and peculiarly unlovely limestone plateau known as the Karst, a
continuation of that waterless and treeless ridge, called by Italians
the Carso, which stretches from Trieste northwestward to Goritzia and
beyond. With the exception of the Bukovica of Dalmatia and the lava-beds
of southern Utah, the Istrian Karst is the most utterly hopeless region,
from the standpoint of agriculture, that I know. It is dotted with many
small farmsteads, it is true, but one marvels at the courage and
patience which their peasant owners displayed in their unequal struggle
with Nature. The rocky surface is covered with a stunted,
discouraged-looking vegetation which reminded me of that clothing the
flanks of the mountains in the vicinity of the Roosevelt Dam, in
Arizona, and here and there are vast rolling moors, uninhabited by man
or animal, as desolate, mysterious and repelling as that depicted by Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle in _The Hound of the Baskervilles_. The Karst, like
the Carso, is dotted with curious depressions called _dolinas_, some of
them as much as 100 feet in depth, the floors of which, varying in
extent from a few square yards to several acres, are covered with soil
which is as rich as the surface of the surrounding plateau is worthless.
Because of the fertility of these singular depressions, and their
immunity from the cold winds which in winter sweep the surface of the
Karst, they are utilized by the peasants for growing fruits, vegetables
and, in some cases, small patches of grain, being, in effect, sunken
gardens provided by Nature as though to recompense the Istrians, in some
measure, for their discouraging struggle for existence.

Just behind the very tip of the peninsula, on the edge of a superb
natural harbor, the entrance to which is masked by the Brioni Islands,
is the great naval base of Pola, from the shelter of whose
fortifications and mined approaches the Austrian fleet was able to
terrorize the defenseless towns along Italy's unprotected eastern
seaboard and to menace the commerce of the northern Adriatic. Pola Is a
strange melange of the ancient and the modern, for from the topmost
tiers of the great Roman Arena--scarcely less imposing than the Coliseum
at Rome--we looked down upon a harbor dotted with the fighting monsters
of the Italian navy, while all day long Italian seaplanes swooped and
circled over the splendid arch, erected by a Roman emperor in the dim
dawn of European history, to commemorate his triumph over the
barbarians.

It is just such anomalies as these that make almost impossible the
solution, on a basis of strict justice to the inhabitants, of the
Adriatic problem. Here you see a city that, in history, in population,
in language, is as characteristically Italian as though it were under
the shadow of the Apennines, yet encircling that city is a countryside
whose inhabitants are wholly Slav, who are intensely hostile to Italian
institutions, and many of whom have no knowledge whatsoever of the
Italian tongue. The Italians claim that Istria should be theirs because
of the undoubted Latin character of the towns along its coasts, because
their Roman and Venetian ancestors established their outposts here long
centuries ago, because the only culture that the region possesses is
Italian, and, above all else, because its possession is essential to the
safety of Italy herself. The Slavs, on the other hand, lay claim to
Istria on the ground that its first inhabitants, whether barbarians or
not, were Slavs, that the Italians who settled on its shores were but
filibusters and adventurers, and that its inhabitants, by blood, by
language, and by sentiment, are overwhelmingly Slav to-day. The only
thing on which both races agree is that the peninsula should not be
divided. It was no easy problem, you see, which the peace-makers were
expected to solve with strict justice for all. If my memory serves me
right, King Solomon was once called upon by two mothers to settle a
somewhat similar dispute, though in that case it was a child instead of
a country whose ownership was in question. So, though both Latins and
Slavs may continue to assert their rights to the peninsula in its
entirety, I imagine that the Istrian problem will eventually be settled
by the judgment of Solomon.




CHAPTER II

THE BORDERLAND OF SLAV AND LATIN


It was the same along the entire line of the Armistice from the Brenner
down to Istria. Whenever the officials with whom we talked heard that we
were going to Fiume, they shook their heads pessimistically. "It's a
good place to stay away from just now," said one. "They won't let you
enter the city," another warned us. Or, "You mustn't think of taking the
_signora_ with you." But the representative of an American oil company
whom I met in the American consulate in Trieste regarded the excursion
from a different view-point altogether.

"Be sure to stop at the Europa," he urged me. "It's right on the
water-front, and there isn't a better place in the city to see what's
happening. I was there last week when the mob attacked the French
Annamite troops. Believe me, friend, that was one hellish business ...
they literally cut those poor little Chinks into pieces. I saw the whole
thing from my window. I'm going back to Fiume to-morrow, and if you like
I'll tell the manager of the Europa to save you a front room."

His tone was that of a New Yorker telling a friend from up-State that he
would reserve him a room in a Fifth Avenue hotel from which to view a
parade.

As things turned out, however, we did not have occasion to avail
ourselves of this offer, for we found that rooms had been reserved for
us at a hotel in Abbazia, just across the bay from Fiume. This
arrangement was due to the Italian military governor, General Grazioli,
who was perfectly aware that the inhabitants of Fiume were not hanging
out any "Welcome-to-Our-City" signs for foreigners, particularly for
foreigners who were country people of President Wilson, and that the
fewer Americans there were in the town the less danger there was of
anti-American demonstrations. In view of what had happened to the
Annamites I had no overpowering desire to be the center of a similar
demonstration. Pursuant to this arrangement we slept in a great barn of
a hotel whose echoing corridors had, in happier days, been a favorite
resort of the wealth and fashion of Hungary, but whose once costly
furniture had been sadly dilapidated by the spurred boots of the
Austrian staff officers who had used it as a headquarters; in the
mornings we had our sugarless coffee and butterless war-bread on a lofty
balcony commanding a superb panorama of the Istrian coast from Icici to
Volosca and of the island-studded Bay of Quarnero, and commuted to and
from Fiume in the big gray Lancia in which we had traveled along the
line of the Armistice for upward of 2,000 miles.

We had our first view of the Unredeemed City (though it was really not
my first view, as I had been there before the war) from a curve in the
road where it suddenly emerges from the woods of evergreen laurel above
Volosca to drop in steep white zigzags to the sea. It is superbly
situated, this ancient city over whose possession Slav and Latin are
growling at each other like dogs over a disputed bone. With its snowy
buildings spread on the slopes of a shallow amphitheater between the
sapphire waters of the Adriatic and the barren flanks of the Istrian
Karst, it suggested a lovely siren, all glistening and white, who had
emerged from the sea to lie upon the bare brown breast of a mountain
giant.

The car, with its exhaust wide open, for your Italian driver delights in
noise, roared down the grade at express-train speed, took the hairpin
curve at the bottom on two wheels, to be brought to an abrupt halt with
an agonized squealing of brakes, our further progress being barred by a
six-inch tree-trunk which had been lowered across the road like a
barrier at an old-time country toll-gate. At one side of the road was a
picket of Italian carabinieri in field-gray uniforms, their huge cocked
hats rendered a shade less anachronistic by covers of gray linen, with
carbines slung over their shoulders, hunter fashion. On the opposite
side of the highway was a patrol of British sailors in white drill
landing-kit, their rosy, smiling faces in striking contrast to the
saturnine countenances of the Italians. (I might explain,
parenthetically, that Fiume, being in theory under the jurisdiction of
the Peace Conference, was at this time occupied by about a thousand
French troops, the same number of British, a few score American
blue-jackets, and nearly 10,000 Italians.) The sergeant in command of
the carabinieri stepped up to the car, saluted, and curtly asked for our
papers. I produced them. Among them was a pass authorizing us to go when
and where we pleased in the territory occupied by the Italian forces. It
had been given to me by the Minister of War himself, but it made about
as much impression on the sergeant as though it had been signed by
Charlie Chaplin.

"This is good only for Italy," he said. "It will not take you across the
line of the Armistice."

[Illustration: AT THE GATES OF FIUME

Major Powell (second from left), Mrs. Powell, Captain Tron of the
Italian _Comando Supremo_, and the car in which they travelled 1,000
miles]

Thereupon I played my last trump. I produced an imposing document which
had been given me by the Italian peace delegation in Paris. It had
originally been issued by the Orlando-Sonnino cabinet, but upon the fall
of that government I had had it countersigned, before leaving Rome, by
the Nitti cabinet. It was addressed to all the military, naval, and
civil authorities of Italy, and was so flatteringly worded that it would
have satisfied St. Peter himself. But the sergeant was not in the
least impressed. He read it through deliberately, scrutinized the
official seals, examined the watermark, and then disappeared into a
sentry-box on the roadside. I could hear him talking, evidently over a
telephone. Presently he emerged and signaled to his men to raise the
barrier. "Passo," he said grudgingly, in a tone which intimated that he
was letting us enter the jealously guarded portals of Fiume against his
better judgment, the bar swung upward, the big car leaped forward like a
race-horse that feels the spur, and in another moment we were rolling
through the tree-arched, stone-paved streets of the most-talked-of city
in the world. As we sped down the Corsia Deak we passed a large hotel
which, as was quite evident, had recently been renamed, for the words
"Albergo d'Annunzio" were fresh and staring. But underneath was the
former name, which had been so imperfectly obliterated that it could
still easily be deciphered. It was "Hotel Wilson."

To correctly visualize Fiume you must imagine a town no larger than
Atlantic City crowded upon a narrow shelf between a towering mountain
wall and the sea; a town with broad and moderately clean streets,
shaded, save in the center of the city, by double rows of stately trees
and paved with large square flagstones which make abominably rough
riding; a town with several fine thoroughfares bordered by
well-constructed four-story buildings of brick and stone; with numerous
surprisingly well-stocked shops; with miles and miles of concrete moles
and wharfs, equipped with harbor machinery of the most modern
description, and adjacent to them rows of warehouses as commodious as
the Bush Terminals in Brooklyn, and rising here and there above the
trees and the housetops, like fingers pointing to heaven, the graceful
campaniles of fine old churches, one of which, the cathedral, was
already old when the Great Navigator turned the prows of his caravels
westward from Cadiz in quest of this land we live in.

Fiume lacks none of the conditions which make a great seaport: there is
deep water and a convenient approach, which is protected against the
ocean and against a hostile fleet by the islands of Veglia and Cherso
and against the north winds by the rocky plateau of the Karst. Yet,
despite its natural advantages and the millions which were spent in its
development by the Hungarian Government, Fiume never developed into a
port of the size and importance which the foreign commerce of Hungary
would have seemed to require, this being largely due to its unfortunate
geographical condition, for the dreary and inhospitable Karst completely
shuts the city off from the interior, the numerous tunnels and steep
gradients making rail transport by this route difficult and consequently
expensive.

The public life of the city centers in the Piazza Adamich, a broad
square on which front numerous hotels, restaurants, and coffee-houses,
before which lounge, from midmorning until midnight, a considerable
proportion of the Italian population, sipping _cafe nero_, or tall
drinks concocted from sweet, bright-colored syrups, scanning the papers
and discussing, with much noise and gesticulation, the political
situation and the doings of the peace commissioners in Paris. Save only
Barcelona, Fiume has the most excitable and irritable population of any
city that I know. When we were there street disturbances were as
frequent as dog-fights used to be in Constantinople before the Turks
recognized that the best gloves are made from dogskins. As I have said,
a few days before our arrival a mob had attacked and killed in most
barbarous fashion a number of Annamite soldiers who were guarding a
French warehouse on the quay. Several prominent Fumani with whom I
talked attempted to justify the massacre on the ground that a French
sailor had torn a ribbon bearing the motto "_Italia o Morte_!" from the
breast of a woman of the town. They did not seem to regret the affair or
to realize that it is just such occurrences which lead the Peace
Conference to question the wisdom of subjecting the city's Slav minority
to that sort of rule. As a result of the tense atmosphere which
prevailed in the city, the nerves of the population were so on edge that
when my car back-fired with a series of violent explosions, the loungers
in front of a near-by cafe jumped as though a bomb had been thrown among
them. The patron saint of Fiume is, appropriately enough, St. Vitus.

In discussing the question of Fiume the mistake is almost invariably
made of considering it as a single city, whereas it really consists of
two distinct communities, Fiume and Sussak, bitterly antagonistic and
differing in race, religion, language, politics, customs, and thought.
A small river, the Rieka, no wider than the Erie Canal, divides the city
into two parts, one Latin the other Slav, very much as the Rio Grande
separates the American city of El Paso from the Mexican town of Ciudad
Juarez. On the left or west bank of the river is Fiume, with
approximately 40,000 inhabitants, of whom very nearly three-fourths are
Italian. Here are the wharfs, the harbor works, the rail-head, the
municipal buildings, the hotels, and the business districts. But cross
the Rieka by the single wooden bridge which connects Fiume with Sussak
and you find yourself in a wholly different atmosphere. In a hundred
paces you pass from a city which is three-quarters Italian to a town
which is overwhelmingly Slav. There are about 4,500 people in Sussak, of
whom only one-eighth are Italian. But let it be perfectly clear that
Sussak is not Fiume. In proclaiming its annexation to Italy on the
ground of self-determination, the National Council of Fiume did not
include Sussak, which is a Croatian village in historically Croatian
territory. It will be seen, therefore, that Sussak, which is not a part
of Fiume but an entirely separate municipality, does not enter into the
question at all. As for the territory immediately adjacent to Fiume on
the north and east, it is as Slav as though it were in the heart of
Serbia. To put it briefly, Fiume is an Italian island entirely
surrounded by Slavs.

The violent self-assertiveness of the Fumani may be attributed to the
large measure of autonomy which they have always enjoyed, Fiume's status
as a free city having been definitely established by Ferdinand I in
1530, recognized by Maria Theresa in 1776 when she proclaimed it "a
separate body annexed to the crown of Hungary," and by the Hungarian
Government finally confirmed in 1868. Louis Kossuth admitted its
extraterritorial character when he said that, even though the Magyar
tongue should be enforced elsewhere as the medium of official
communication, he considered that an exception "should be made in favor
of a maritime city whose vocation was to welcome all nations led thither
by commerce."

Though the Italian element of the population vociferously asserts its
adherence to the slogan "_Italia o Morte_!" I am convinced that many of
the more substantial and far-seeing citizens, if they dared freely to
express their opinions, would be found to favor the restoration of the
city's ancient autonomy under the aegis of the League of Nations. The
Italians of Flume are at bottom, beneath their excitable and mercurial
temperaments, a shrewd business people who have the commercial future of
their city at heart. And they are intelligent enough to realize that,
unless there be established some stable form of government which will
propitiate the Slav minority as well as the Italian majority, the Slav
nations of the hinterland will almost certainly divert their trade, on
which Fiume's commercial importance entirely depends, to some
non-Italian port, in which event the city would inevitably retrograde to
the obscure fishing village which it was less than half a century ago.

In order that you may have before you a clear and comprehensive picture
of this most perplexing and dangerous situation, which is so fraught
with peril for the future peace of the world, suppose that I sketch for
you, in the fewest word-strokes possible, the arguments of the rival
claimants for fair Fiume's hand. Italy's claims may be classified under
three heads: sentimental, commercial, and political. Her sentimental
claims are based on the ground that the city's population, character,
and history are overwhelmingly Italian. I have already stated that the
Italians constitute about three-fourths of the total population of
Fiume, the latest figures, as quoted in the United States Senate, giving
29,569 inhabitants to the Italians and 14,798 to the Slavs. There is no
denying that the city has a distinctively Italian atmosphere, for its
architecture is Italian, that Venetian trademark, the Lion of St. Mark,
being in evidence on several of the older buildings; the mode of outdoor
life is such as one meets in Italy; most of its stores and banks are
owned by Italians, and Italian is the prevailing tongue. The claim that
the city's history is Italian is, however, hardly borne out by history
itself, for in the sixteen centuries which have elapsed since the fall
of the Roman Empire, Fiume has been under Italian rule--that of the
republic of Venice--for just four days.

The commercial reason underlying Italy's insistence on obtaining control
of Fiume is due to the fact that Italians are convinced that should
Fiume pass into either neutral or Jugoslav hands, it would mean the
commercial ruin of Trieste, where enormous sums of Italian money have
been invested. They assert, and with sound reasoning, that the Slavs of
the hinterland, and probably the Germans and Magyars as well, would ship
through Fiume, were it under Slav or international control, instead of
through Trieste, which is Italian. One does not need to be an economist
to realize that if Fiume could secure the trade of Jugoslavia and the
other states carved from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the commercial
supremacy of Trieste, which depends upon this same hinterland, would
quickly disappear. On the other hand, those Italians whose vision has
not been distorted by their passions clearly foresee that, should the
final disposition of Fiume prove unacceptable to the Jugoslavs, they
will almost certainly divert the trade of the interior to some Slav
port, leaving Fiume to drowse in idleness beside her moss-grown wharfs
and crumbling warehouses, dreaming dreams of her one-time prosperity.

Italy's third reason for insisting on the cession of Fiume is political,
and, because it is based on a deep-seated and haunting fear, it is,
perhaps, the most compelling reason of all. Italy does not trust the
Jugoslavs. She cannot forget that the Austrian and Hungarian fractions
of the new Jugoslav people--in other words, the Slovenes and
Croats--were the most faithful subjects of the Dual Monarchy, fighting
for the Hapsburgs with a ferocity and determination hardly surpassed in
the war. Unlike the Poles and Czecho-Slovaks, who threw in their lot
with the Allies, the Slovenes and Croats fought, and fought desperately,
for the triumph of the Central Empires. Had these two peoples turned
against their masters early in the war, the great struggle would have
ended months, perhaps years, earlier than it did. Yet, within a few days
after the signing of the Armistice, they became Jugoslavs, and announced
that they have always been at heart friendly to the Allies. But, so the
Italians argue, their conversion has been too sudden: they have changed
their flag but not their hearts; their real allegiance is not to
Belgrade but to Berlin. The Italian attitude toward these peoples who
have so abruptly switched from enemies to allies is that of the American
soldier for the Filipino:

    "He may be a brother of William H. Taft,
    But he ain't no brother of mine."

The Italians are convinced that the three peoples who have been so
hastily welded into Jugoslavia will, as the result of internal
jealousies and dissensions, eventually disintegrate, and that, when the
break-up comes, those portions of the new state which formerly belonged
to Austria-Hungary will ally themselves with the great Teutonic or,
perhaps, Russo-Teutonic, confederation which, most students of European
affairs believe, will arise from the ruins of the Central Empires. When
that day comes the new power will look with hungering eyes toward the
rich markets which fringe the Middle Sea, and what more convenient
gateway through which to pour its merchandise--and, perhaps, its
fighting men--than Fiume in friendly hands? In order to bar forever
this, the sole gateway to the warm water still open to the Hun, the
Italians should, they maintain, be made its guardians.

"But," you argue, "suppose Jugoslavia does _not_ break up? How can
14,000,000 Slavs seriously menace Italy's 40,000,000?"

Ah! Now you touch the very heart of the whole matter; now you have put
your finger on the secret fear which has animated Italy throughout the
controversy over Fiume and Dalmatia. For I do not believe that it is a
reincarnated Germany which Italy dreads. It is something far more
ominous, more terrifying than that, which alarms her. For, looking
across the Adriatic, she sees the monstrous vision of a united and
aggressive Slavdom, untold millions strong, of which the Jugoslavs are
but the skirmish-line, ready to dispute not merely Italy's schemes for
the commercial mastery of the Balkans but her overlordship of that sea
which she regards as an Italian lake.

Jugoslavia's claims to Fiume are more briefly stated. Firstly, she lays
title to it on the ground that geographically Fiume belongs to Croatia,
and that Croatia is now a part of Jugoslavia, or, to give the new
country its correct name, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and
Slovenes. This claim is, I think, well founded, and this despite the
fact that Italy has attempted to prove, by means of innumerable
pamphlets and maps, that Fiume, being within the great semi-circular
wall formed by the Alps, is physically Italian. The Jugoslavs demand
Fiume, secondly, because, they assert, if Fiume and Sussak are
considered as a single city, that city has more Slavs than Italians,
while the population of the hinterland is almost solidly Croatian. With
the first half of this claim I cannot agree. As I have already pointed
out, Sussak is not, and never has been, a part of Fiume, and its
annexation is not demanded by the Italians. Conceding, however, for the
sake of argument, that Fiume and Sussak are parts of the same city, the
most reliable figures which I have been able to obtain show that, even
were the Slav majority in Sussak added to the Slav minority in Fiume,
the Slavs would still be able to muster barely more than a third of the
total population. By far the strongest title which the Slavs have to the
city, and the one which commands for them the greatest sympathy, is
their assertion that Fiume is the natural and, indeed, almost the only
practicable commercial outlet for Jugoslavia, and that the struggling
young state needs it desperately. In reply to this, the Italians point
out that there are numerous harbors along the Dalmatian coast which
would answer the needs of Jugoslavia as well, or almost as well, as
Fiume. Now, I am speaking from first-hand knowledge when I assert that
this is not so, for I have seen with my own eyes every harbor, or
potential harbor, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic from Istria to
Greece. As a matter of fact, the entire coast of Dalmatia would not make
up to the Jugoslavs for the loss of Fiume. The map gives no idea of the
city's importance as the southernmost point at which a standard-gauge
railway reaches the Adriatic, for the railway leading to Ragusa, to
which the Italians so repeatedly refer as providing an outlet for
Jugoslavia, is not only narrow-gauge but is in part a rack-and-pinion
mountain line. The situation is best summed up by the commander of the
American war-ship on which I dined at Spalato.

"It is not a question of finding a good harbor for the Jugoslavs," he
said. "This coast is rich in splendid harbors. It is a question, rather,
of finding a practicable route for a standard-gauge railway over or
through the mile-high range of the Dinaric Alps, which parallel the
entire coast, shutting the coast towns off from the hinterland. Until
such a railway is built, the peoples of the interior have no means of
getting their products down to the coast save through Fiume. Italy
already has the great port of Trieste. Were she also to be awarded Fiume
she would have a strangle-hold on the trade of Jugoslavia which would
probably mean that country's commercial ruin."

I have now given you, as fairly as I know how, the principal arguments
of the rival claimants. The Italians of Fiume, as I have already shown,
outnumber the Slavs almost three to one, and it is they who are
demanding so violently that the city should be annexed to Italy on the
ground of self-determination. But I do not believe that, because there
is an undoubted Italian majority in Fiume, the city should be awarded to
Italy. If Italy were asking only what was beyond all shadow of question
Italian, I should sympathize with her unreservedly. But to place 10,000
Slavs under Italian rule would be as unjust and as provocative of future
trouble as to place 30,000 Italians under the rule of Belgrade. Nor is
the cession of the city itself the end of Italy's claims, for, in order
to place it beyond the range of the enemy's guns (by the "enemy" she
means her late allies, the Serbs), in order to maintain control of the
railways entering the city, and in order to bring the city actually
within her territorial borders, she desires to extend her rule over
other thousands of people who are not Italian, who do not speak the
Italian tongue, and who do not wish Italian rule. Italy has no stancher
friend than I, but neither my profound admiration for what she achieved
during the war nor my deep sympathy for the staggering losses she
suffered can blind me to the unwisdom, let us call it, of certain of her
demands. I am convinced that, when the passions aroused by the
controversy have had time to cool, the Italians will themselves question
the wisdom of accumulating for themselves future troubles by creating
new lost provinces and a new Irredenta by annexing against their will
thousands of people of an alien race. Viewing the question from the
standpoints of abstract justice, of sound politics, and of common sense,
I do not believe that Fiume should be given either to the Italians or to
the Jugoslavs, but that the interests of both, as well as the prosperity
of the Fumani themselves, should be safeguarded by making it a free
city under international control.

No account of the extraordinary drama--farce would be a better name were
its possibilities not so tragic--which is being staged at Fiume would be
complete without some mention of the romantic figure who is playing the
part of hero or villain, according to whether your sympathies are with
the Italians or the Jugoslavs. There is nothing romantic, mind you, in
Gabriele d'Annunzio's personal appearance. On the contrary, he is one of
the most unimpressive-looking men I have ever seen. He is short of
stature--not over five feet five, I should guess--and even his
beautifully cut clothes, which fit so faultlessly about the waist and
hips as to suggest the use of stays, but partially camouflage the
corpulency of middle age. His head looks like a new-laid egg which has
been highly varnished; his pointed beard is clipped in a fashion which
reminded me of the bronze satyrs in the Naples museum; a monocle, worn
without a cord, conceals his dead eye, which he lost in battle. His walk
is a combination of a mince and a swagger; his movements are those of
an actor who knows that the spotlight is upon him.

Though d'Annunzio takes high rank among the modern poets, many of his
admirers holding him to be the greatest one alive, he is a far greater
orator. His diction is perfect, his wealth of imagery exhaustless; I
have seen him sway a vast audience as a wheat-field is swayed by the
wind. His life he values not at all; the four rows of ribbons which on
the breast of his uniform make a splotch of color were not won by his
verses. Though well past the half-century mark, he has participated in a
score of aerial combats, occupying the observer's seat in his fighting
Sva and operating the machine-gun. But perhaps the most brilliant of his
military exploits was a bloodless one, when he flew over Vienna and
bombed that city with proclamations, written by himself, pointing out to
the Viennese the futility of further resistance. His popularity among
all classes is amazing; his word is law to the great organization known
as the _Combatenti_, composed of the 5,000,000 men who fought in the
Italian armies. He is a jingo of the jingoes, his plans for Italian
expansion reaching far beyond the annexation of Fiume or even all of
Dalmatia, for he has said again and again that he dreams of that day
when Italy will have extended her rule over all that territory which
once was held by Rome.

[Illustration: THE INHABITANTS OF FIUME CHEERING D'ANNUNZIO AND HIS
RAIDERS

"Save only Barcelona, Fiume has the most excitable population of any
place that I know."

The patron saint of the city is, appropriately enough, St. Vitus]

He is a very picturesque and interesting figure, is Gabriele
d'Annunzio--very much in earnest, wholly sincere, but fanatical,
egotistical, intolerant of the rights or opinions of others, a
visionary, and perhaps a little mad. I imagine that he would rather have
his name linked with that of that other soldier-poet, who "flamed away
at Missolonghi" nearly a century ago, than with any other character in
history save Garibaldi. D'Annunzio, like Byron, was an exile from his
native land. Both had a habit of never paying their bills; both had
offended against the social codes of their times; both flamed against
what they believed to be injustice and tyranny; both had a passionate
love for liberty; both possessed a highly developed sense of the
dramatic and delighted in playing romantic roles. I have heard it said
that d'Annunzio's raid on Fiume would make his name immortal, but I
doubt it. Barely a score of years have passed since the raid on
Johannesburg, which was a far more daring and hazardous exploit than
d'Annunzio's Fiume performance, yet to-day how many people remember
Doctor Jameson? It can be said for this middle-aged poet that he has
successfully defied the government of Italy, that he flouted the royal
duke who was sent to parley with him, that he seduced the Italian army
and navy into committing open mutiny--"a breach of that military
discipline," in the words of the Prime Minister, "which is the
foundation of the safety of the state"--and that he has done more to
shake foreign confidence in the stability of the Italian character and
the dependability of the Italian soldier than the Austro-Germans did
when they brought about the disaster at Caporetto.

I have heard it said that the Nitti government had advance knowledge of
the raid on Fiume and that the reason it took no vigorous measures
against the filibusters was because it secretly approved of their
action. This I do not believe. With President Wilson, the Jugoslavs,
d'Annunzio, and the Italian army and navy arrayed against him, I am
convinced that Mr. Nitti did everything that could be done without
precipitating either a war or a revolution. Much credit is also due to
the Jugoslavs for their forbearance and restraint under great
provocation. They must have been sorely tempted to give the Poet the
spanking he so richly deserves.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the small army of newspaper correspondents who were despatched by
the great New York and London dailies to Khartoum to interview Colonel
Roosevelt upon his emergence from the jungle started up the White Nile
to meet the explorer, they were deterred, both by the shortage of boats
and the question of expense, from chartering individual steamers. But
the public at home was not permitted to know of these petty limitations
and annoyances. On the contrary, people all over the United States, at
their breakfast-tables, read the despatches from the far-off Sudan dated
from "On board the New York _Herald's_ dahabeah _Rameses_" or "The New
York _American's_ despatch-boat _Abbas Hilmi_," or "The Chicago
_Tribune's_ special steamer _General Gordon_," and never dreamed that
the young men in sun-helmets and white linen who were writing those
despatches were comfortably seated under the awnings of the same
decrepit stern-wheeler, which they had chartered jointly, but on which,
in order to lend importance and dignity to his despatches, each
correspondent had bestowed a particular name.

But the destroyer _Sirio_, which we found awaiting us at Fiume, we did
not have to share with any one. Thanks to the courtesy of the Italian
Ministry of Marine, she was all ours, while we were aboard her, from her
knife-like prow to the screws kicking the water under her stern.

"I am under orders to place myself entirely at your disposal," explained
her youthful and very stiffly starched skipper, Commander Poggi. "I am
to go where you desire and to stop as long as you please. Those are my
instructions."

Thus it came about that, shortly after noon on a scorching summer day,
we cast off our moorings and, leaving quarrel-torn Fiume abaft, turned
the nose of the _Sirio_ sou' by sou'-west, down the coast of Dalmatia.
The sun-kissed waters of the Bay of Quarnero looked for all the world
like a vast azure carpet strewn with a million sparkling diamonds; on
our starboard quarter stretched the green-clad slopes of Istria, with
the white villas of Abbazia peeping coyly out from amid the groves of
pine and laurel; to the eastward the bleak brown peaks of the Dinaric
Alps rose, savage, mysterious, forbidding, against the cloudless summer
sky. Perhaps no stretch of coast in all the world has had so varied and
romantic a history or so many masters as this Dalmatian seaboard. Since
the days of the tattooed barbarians who called themselves Illyrian, this
coast has been ruled in turn by Phoenicians, Celts, Macedonians, Greeks,
Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Croats, Serbs, Bulgars, Huns, Avars,
Saracens, Normans, Magyars, Genoese, Venetians, Tartars, Bosnians,
Turks, French, Russians, Montenegrins, British, Austrians, Italians--and
now by Americans, for from Cape Planca southward to Ragusa, a distance
of something over a hundred miles, the United States is the governing
power and an American admiral holds undisputed sway.

Leaning over the rail as we fled southward I lost myself in dreams of
far-off days. In my mind I could see, sweeping past in imaginary review,
those other vessels which, all down the ages, had skirted these same
shores: the purple sails of Phoenicia, Greek galleys bearing colonists
from Cnidus, Roman triremes with the slaves sweating at the oars,
high-powered, low-waisted Norman caravels with the arms of their
marauding masters painted on their bellowing canvas, stately Venetian
carracks with carved and gilded sterns, swift-sailing Uskok pirate
craft, their decks crowded with swarthy men in skirts and turbans,
Genoese galleons, laden with the products of the hot lands, French and
English frigates with brass cannon peering from their rows of ports, the
grim, gray monsters of the Hapsburg navy. And then I suddenly awoke,
for, coming up from the southward at full speed, their slanting funnels
vomiting great clouds of smoke, were four long, low, lean, incredibly
swift craft, ostrich-plumes of snowy foam curling from their bows, which
sped past us like wolfhounds running with their noses to the ground. As
they passed I could see quite plainly, flaunting from each taffrail, a
flag of stripes and stars.

The sun was sinking behind Italy when, threading our way amid the maze
of islands and islets which border the Dalmatian shore, we saw beyond
our bows, silhouetted against the rose-coral of the evening sky, the
slender campaniles and the crenellated ramparts of Zara. It was so still
and calm and beautiful that I felt as though I were looking at a scene
upon a stage and that the curtain would descend at any moment and
destroy the illusion. The little group of white-clad naval officers who
greeted us upon the quay informed us that the governor-general, Admiral
Count Millo, had placed at our disposal the yacht _Zara_, formerly the
property of the Austrian Emperor, on which we were to live during our
stay in the Dalmatian capital. It was a peculiarly thoughtful thing to
do, for the summers are hot in Zara, the city's few hotels leave much to
be desired, and a stay at a palace, even that of a provincial governor,
is hedged about by a certain amount of formality and restrictions. But
the _Zara_, while we were aboard her, was as much ours as the
_Mayflower_ is Mr. Wilson's. We occupied the spacious after-cabins,
exquisitely paneled in white mahogany, which had been used by the
Austrian archduchesses and whose furnishings still bore the imperial
crown, and our breakfasts were served under the white awnings stretched
over the after-deck, where, lounging in the grateful shade, we could
look out across the harbor, dotted with the gaudy sails of fishing craft
and bordered by the walls and gardens of the quaint old city, to the
islands of Arbe and Pago, rising, like huge, uncut emeralds, from the
lazy southern sea. At noon we usually lunched with a score or more of
staff-officers in the large, cool dining-room of the officers' mess, and
at night we dined with the governor-general and his family at the
palace, formerly the residence of the Austrian viceroys. Dinner over, we
lounged in cane chairs on the terrace, served by white-clad,
silent-footed servants with coffee, cigarettes, and the maraschino for
which this coast is famous. Those were never-to-be-forgotten evenings,
for the gently heaving breast of the Adriatic glowed with a
phosphorescent luminousness, the air was heavy with the fragrance of
orange, almond, and oleander, the sky was like purple velvet, and the
stars seemed very near.

Though the population of Dalmatia is overwhelmingly Slav, quite
two-thirds of the 14,000 inhabitants of Zara, its capital, are Italian.
Yet, were it not for the occasional Morlachs in their picturesque
costumes seen in the markets or on the wharfs, one would not suspect the
presence of any Slav element in the town, for the dim and tortuous
streets and the spacious squares bear Italian names--Via del Duomo, Riva
Vecchia, Piazza della Colonna; crouching above the city gates is the
snarling Lion of St. Mark, and everywhere one hears the liquid accents
of the Latin. Zara, like Fiume, is an Italian colony set down on a
Slavonian shore, and, like its sister-city to the north, it bears the
indelible and unmistakable imprint of Italian civilization.

The long, narrow strip of territory sandwiched between the Adriatic and
the Dinaric Alps which comprised the Austrian province of Dalmatia,
though upward of 200 miles in length, has an area scarcely greater than
that of Connecticut and a population smaller than that of Cleveland.
Scarcely more than a tenth of its whole surface is under the plow, the
rest, where it is not altogether sterile, consisting of mountain
pasture. With the exception of scattered groves on the landward slopes,
the country is virtually treeless, the forests for which Dalmatia was
once famous having been cut down by the Venetian ship-builders or
wantonly burned by the Uskok pirates, while every attempt at replanting
has been frustrated by the shallowness of the soil, the frequent
droughts, and the multitudes of goats which browse on the young trees.
The dreary expanse of the Bukovica, lying between Zara and the Bosnian
frontier, is, without exception, the most inhospitable region that I
have ever seen. For mile after mile, far as the eye can see, the earth
is overlaid by a thick stratum of jagged limestone, so rough that no
horse could traverse it, so sharp and flinty that a quarter of an hour's
walking across it would cut to pieces the stoutest pair of boots. Under
the rays of the summer sun these rocks become as hot as the top of a
stove; so hot, indeed, that eggs can be cooked upon them, while metal
objects exposed for only a few minutes to the sun will burn the hand.
Scattered here and there over this terrible plateau are tiny farmsteads,
their houses and the walls shutting in the little patches under
cultivation being built from the stones obtained in clearing the soil, a
task requiring incredible patience. No wonder that the folk who dwell
in them are characterized by expressions as stony and hopeless as the
soil from which they wring a wretched existence.

No seaboard of the Mediterranean, save only the coast of Greece, is so
deeply indented as the Dalmatian littoral, with Its unending succession
of rock-bound bays, as frequent as the perforations on a postage-stamp,
and its thick fringe of islands. In calm weather the channels between
these islands and the mainland resemble a chain of landlocked lakes,
like those in the Adirondacks or in southern Ontario, being connected by
narrow straits called _canales_, brilliantly clear to a depth of several
fathoms. As a rule, the surrounding hills are rugged, bleached yellow or
pale russet, and destitute of verdure, but their monotony is relieved by
the half-ruined castles and monasteries which, perched on the rocky
heights, perpetually reminded me of Howard Pyle's paintings, and by the
medieval charm of Zara, Sebenico, Spalato, Ragusa, Arbe, and Curzola,
whose architecture, though predominantly Venetian, bears characteristic
traces of the many races which have ruled them.

Just as Italy insisted on pushing her new borders up to the Brenner so
that she might have a strategic frontier on the north, so she lays claim
to the larger of the Dalmatian islands--Lissa, Lesina, Curzola, and
certain others--in order to protect her Adriatic shores. A glance at the
map will make her reasons amply plain. There stretches Italy's eastern
coastline, 600 miles of it, from Venice to Otranto, with half a dozen
busy cities and a score of fishing towns, as bare and unprotected as a
bald man's hatless head. Not only is there not a single naval base on
Italy's Adriatic coast south of Venice, but there is no harbor or inlet
that can be transformed into one. Yet across the Adriatic, barely four
hours steam by destroyer away, is a wilderness of islands and deep
harbors where an enemy's fleet could lie safely hidden, from which it
could emerge to attack Italian commerce or to bombard Italy's
unprotected coast towns, and where it could take refuge when the pursuit
became too hot. All down the ages the dwellers along Italy's eastern
seaboard have been terrorized by naval raids from across the Adriatic.
And Italy has determined that they shall be terrorized no more. How
history repeats itself! Just as Rome, twenty-two centuries ago, could
not permit the neighboring islands of Sicily to fall into the hands of
Carthage, so Italy cannot permit these coastwise islands, which form her
only protection against attacks from the east, to pass under the control
of the Jugoslavs.

"But," I said to the Italians with whom I discussed the matter, "why do
you need any such protection now that the world is to have a League of
Nations? Isn't that a sufficient guarantee that the Jugoslavs will never
attack you?"

"The League of Nations is in theory a splendid thing," was their answer.
"We subscribe to it in principle most heartily. But because there is a
policeman on duty in your street, do you leave wide open your front
door?"

To be quite candid, I do not think that it is against Jugoslavia, or,
perhaps it would be more accurate to say, against an unaided Jugoslavia,
that Italy is taking precautions. I have already said, I believe, that
thinking Italians look with grave forebodings to the day when a great
Slav confederation shall rise across the Adriatic, but that day, as they
know full well, is still far distant. Italy's desperate insistence on
retaining possession of the more important Dalmatian islands is dictated
by a far more immediate danger than that. She is convinced that her next
war will be fought, not with the weak young state of Jugoslavia, but
with Jugoslavia _allied with France_. Every Italian with whom I
discussed the question--and I might add, without boasting, many highly
placed and well-informed Italians have honored me with their
confidence--firmly believes that France is jealous of Italy's rapidly
increasing power in the Mediterranean, and that she is secretly
intriguing with the Jugoslavs and the Greeks to prevent Italy obtaining
commercial supremacy in the Balkans. I do not say that this is my
opinion, mind you, but I do say that it is the opinion held by most
Italians. I found that the resentment against the French for what the
Italians term France's "betrayal" of Italy at the Peace Conference was
almost universal; everywhere in Italy I found a deep-seated distrust of
France's commercial ambitions and political designs. Though the Italians
admit that the Jugoslavs will not be able to build a navy for many years
to come, they fear, or profess to fear, that the day is not
immeasurably far distant when a French battle fleet, co-operating with
the armies of Jugoslavia, will threaten Italy's Adriatic seaboard. And
they are determined that, should such a day ever come, French ships
shall not be afforded the protection, as were the Austrian, of the
Dalmatian islands. Italy, with her great modern battle fleet and her
5,000,000 fighting men, regards the threats of Jugoslavia with something
akin to contempt, but France, turned imperialistic and arrogant by her
victory over the Hun, Italy distrusts and fears, believing that, while
protesting her friendship, she is secretly fomenting opposition to
legitimate Italian aspirations in the Balkan peninsula and in the Middle
Sea. (Again let me remind you that I am giving you not my own, but
Italy's point of view.) You will sneer at this, perhaps, as a phantasm
of the imagination, but I assure you, with all the earnestness and
emphasis at my command, that this distrust of one great Latin nation for
another, whether it is justified or not, forms a deadly menace to the
future peace of the world.

Because I did not wish to confine my observations to the coast towns,
which are, after all, essentially Italian, I motored across Dalmatia at
its widest part, from Zara, through Benkovac, Kistonje, and Knin, to the
little hamlet of Kievo, on the Jugoslav frontier. Though the Slav
population of the Dalmatian hinterland is, according to the assertions
of Belgrade, bitterly hostile to Italian rule, I did not detect a single
symptom of animosity toward the Italian officers who were my companions
on the part of the peasants whom we passed. They displayed, on the
contrary, the utmost courtesy and good feeling, the women, looking like
huge and gaudily dressed dolls in their snowy blouses and embroidered
aprons, courtesying, while the tall, fine-looking men gravely touched
the little round caps which are the national head-gear of Dalmatia.

Kievo is the last town in Dalmatia, being only a few score yards from
the Bosnian frontier. Its little garrison was in command of a young
Italian captain, a tall, slender fellow with the blond beard of a Viking
and the dreamy eyes of a poet. He had been stationed at this lonely
outpost for seven months, he told me, and he welcomed us as a man
wrecked on a desert island would welcome a rescue party. In order to
escape from the heat and filth and insects of the village, he had built
in a near-by grove a sort of arbor, with a roof of interlaced branches
to keep off the sun. Its furnishings consisted of a home-made table, an
army cot, two or three decrepit chairs, and a phonograph. I did not need
to inquire where he had obtained the phonograph, for on its cover was
stenciled the familiar red triangle of the Y.M.C.A.--the "_Yimka_," as
the Italians call it--which operates more than 300 _casas_ for the use
of the Italian army. While our host was preparing a dubious-looking
drink from sweet, bright-colored syrups and lukewarm water, I amused
myself by glancing over the little stack of records on the table. They
were, of course, nearly all Italian, but I came upon three that I knew
well: "_Loch Lomond_," "_Old Folks at Home_" and "_So Long, Letty_." It
was like meeting a party of old friends in a strange land. I tried the
later record, and though it was not very clear, for the captain's supply
of needles had run out and he had been reduced to using ordinary pins,
it was startling to hear Charlotte Greenwood's familiar voice caroling
"_So long, so long, Letty_," there on the borders of Bosnia, with a
picket of curious Jugoslavs, rifles across their knees, seated on the
rocky hillside, barely a stone's throw away. Still, come to think about
it, the war produced many contrasts quite as strange, as, for example,
when the New York Irish, the old 69th, crossed the Rhine with the
regimental band playing "_The Sidewalks of New York_."

We touched at Sebenico, which is forty knots down the coast from Zara,
in order to accept an invitation to lunch with Lieutenant-General
Montanari, who commands all the Italian troops in Dalmatia. Now before
we started down the Adriatic we had been warned that, because of
President Wilson's attitude on the Fiume question, the feeling against
Americans ran very high, and that from the Italians we must be prepared
for coldness, if not for actual insults. Well, this luncheon at Sebenico
was an example of the insults we received and the coldness with which we
were treated. Because our destroyer was late, half a hundred busy
officers delayed their midday meal for two hours in order not to sit
down without us. The table was decorated with American flags, and other
American flags had been hand-painted on the menus. And, as a final
affront, a destroyer had been sent across the Adriatic Sea to obtain
lobsters because the general had heard that my wife was particularly
fond of them. After that experience don't talk to me about Southern
hospitality. Though the Italians bitterly resent President Wilson's
interference in an affair which they consider peculiarly their own,
their resentment does not extend to the President's countrymen. Their
attitude is aptly illustrated by an incident which took place at the
mess of a famous regiment of Bersaglieri, when the picture of President
Wilson, which had hung on the wall of the mess-hall, opposite that of
the King, was taken down--and an American flag hung in its place.

The most interesting building in Sebenico is the cathedral, which was
begun when America had yet to be discovered. The chief glory of the
cathedral is its exterior, with its superb carved doors, its countless
leering, grinning gargoyles--said to represent the evil spirits expelled
from the church--and a broad frieze, running entirely around the
edifice, composed of sculptured likenesses of the architects, artists,
sculptors, masons, and master-builders who participated in its
construction. Put collars, neckties, and derby hats on some of them and
you would have striking likenesses of certain labor leaders of to-day.
The next time a building of note is erected in this country the
countenances of the bricklayers, hod-carriers, and walking delegates
might be immortalized in some such fashion. I offer the suggestion to
the labor-unions for what it is worth.

Throughout all the years of Austrian domination the citizens of Sebenico
remained loyal to their Italian traditions, as is proved by the
medallions ornamenting the facade of the cathedral, each of which bears
the image of a saint. One of these sculptured saints, it was pointed out
to me, has the unmistakable features of Victor Emanuel I, another those
of Garibaldi. Thus did the Italian workmen of their day cunningly
express their defiance of Austria's tyranny by ornamenting one of her
most splendid cathedrals with the heads of Italian heroes. Imagine
carving the heads of Elihu Root and Charles E. Hughes on the facade of
Tammany Hall!

Next to the cathedral, the most interesting building in Sebenico is the
insect-powder factory. It is a large factory and does a thriving
business, the need for its product being Balkan-wide. If, for upward of
five months, you had fought nightly engagements with the _cimex
lectularius_, you would understand how vital is an ample supply of
powder. Believe me or not, as you please, but in many parts of Dalmatia
and Albania we were compelled to defend our beds against nocturnal
raiding-parties by raising veritable ramparts of insect-powder, very
much as in Flanders we threw up earthworks against the assaults of the
Hun, while in Monastir the only known way of obtaining sleep is to set
the legs of one's bed in basins filled with kerosene.

Four hours steaming south from Sebenico brought us to Spalato, the
largest city of Dalmatia and one of the most picturesquely situated
towns in the Levant. It owes its name to the great palace (_palatium_)
of Diocletian, within the precincts of which a great part of the old
town is built and around which have sprung up its more modern suburbs.
Cosily ensconced between the stately marble columns which formed the
palace's facade are fruit, tobacco, barber, shoe, and tailor shops,
whose proprietors drive a roaring trade with the sailors from the
international armada assembled in the harbor. A great hall, which had
probably originally been one of the vestibules of the palace, was
occupied by the Knights of Columbus, the place being in charge of a
khaki-clad priest, Father Mullane, of Johnstown, Pa., who twice daily
dispensed true American hospitality, in the form of hot doughnuts and
mugs of steaming coffee, to the blue-jackets from the American ships. As
there was no coal to be had in the town, he made the doughnuts with the
aid of a plumber's blowpipe. In the course of our conversation Father
Mullane mentioned that he was living with the Serbian bishop--at least I
think he was a bishop-of Spalato.

"I suppose he speaks English or French," I remarked.

"He does not," was the answer.

"Then you must have picked up some Serb or Italian," I hazarded.

"Niver a wurrd of thim vulgar tongues do I know," said he.

"Then how do you and the bishop get along?"

"Shure," said Father Mullane, in the rich brogue which is, I imagine,
something of an affectation, "an' what is the use of bein' educated for
the church if we were not able to converse with ease an' fluency in
iligant an' refined Latin?"

When we were leaving Spalato, Father Mullane presented us with a _Bon
Voyage_ package which contained cigarettes, a box of milk chocolate, and
a five-pound tin of gum-drops. The cigarettes we smoked, the chocolate
we ate, but the gum-drops we used for tips right across the Balkans. In
lands whose people have not known the taste of sugar for five years we
found that a handful of gum-drops would accomplish more than money. A
few men with Father Mullane's resource, tact, and sense of humor would
do more than all the diplomats under the roof of the Hotel Crillon to
settle international differences and make the nations understand each
other.

I had been warned by archaeological friends, before I went to Dalmatia,
that the ruins of Salona, which once was the capital of Roman Dalmatia
and the site of the summer palace of Diocletian, would probably
disappoint me. They date from the period of Roman decadence, so my
learned friends explained, and, though following Roman traditions,
frequently show traces of negligence, a fact which is accounted for by
the haste with which the ailing and hypochondriac Emperor sought to
build himself a retreat from the world. Still, the little excursion--for
Salona is only five miles from Spalato--provided much that was worth the
seeing: a partially excavated amphitheater, a long row of stone
sarcophagi lying in a trench, one or two fine gates, and some
beautifully preserved mosaics. I must confess, however, that I was more
interested in the modern aspects of this region than in its glorious
past, for, standing upon the massive walls of the Roman city, I looked
down upon a panorama of power such as Diocletian had never pictured in
his wildest dreams, for, moored in a long and impressive row, their
stern-lines made fast to the _Molo_, was a line of war-ships flying the
flags of England, France, Italy, and the United States. On the right of
the line, as befitted the fact that its commander was the senior naval
officer and in charge of all this portion of the coast, was Admiral
Andrews's flag-ship, the _Olympia_, but little changed, at least to the
casual glance, since that day, more than twoscore years ago, when she
blazed her way into Manila Bay and won for us a colonial empire. On her
bridge, outlined in brass tacks, I was shown Admiral Dewey's footprints,
just as he stood at the beginning of the battle when he gave the order
"You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

Of the 18,000 inhabitants of Spalato, less than a tenth are Italian, the
general character of the town and the sympathies of its inhabitants
being strongly pro-Slav. In fact, its streets were filled with Jugoslav
soldiers, many of them still wearing the uniforms of the Austrian
regiments in which they had served but with Serbian _kepis_, while
others looked strangely familiar in khaki uniforms furnished them by the
United States. It being warm weather, most of the men wore their coats
unbuttoned, thereby displaying a considerable expanse of hairy chest or
violently colored underwear and producing a somewhat negligee effect.
Because of the presence in the town of the Jugoslav soldiery, the crews
of the Italian war-ships were not permitted to go ashore with the
sailors of the other nations, as Admiral Andrews feared that their
presence might provoke unpleasant incidents. Hence their "shore leave"
had, for nearly six months, been confined to the narrow concrete _Molo_,
where they were permitted to stroll in the evenings and where the
Italian girls of the town came to see them. For a Jugoslav girl to have
been seen in company with an Italian sailor would have meant her social
ostracism, if nothing worse.

Though Italy will unquestionably insist on the cession of certain of the
Dalmatian islands, in order, as I have already pointed out, to assure
herself a defensible eastern frontier, and though she will ask for Zara
and possibly for Sebenico on the ground of their preponderantly Italian
character, I believe that she is prepared to abandon her original claims
to Dalmatia, which is, when all is said and done, almost purely
Slavonian, Jugoslavia thus obtaining nearly 550 miles of coast. Now I
will be quite frank and say that when I went to Dalmatia I was strongly
opposed to the extension of Italian rule over that region. And I still
believe that it would be a political mistake. But, after seeing the
country from end to end and talking with the Italian officials who have
been temporarily charged with its administration, I have become
convinced that they have the best interests of the people genuinely at
heart and that the Dalmatians might do worse, so far as justice and
progress are concerned, than to intrust their future to the guidance of
such men.

It had been our original intention to steam straight south from Spalato
to the Bocche di Cattaro and Montenegro, but, being foot-loose and free
and having plenty of coal in the _Sirio's_ bunkers, we decided to make a
detour in order to visit the Curzolane Islands. In case you cannot
recall its precise situation, I might remind you that the Curzolane
Archipelago, consisting of several good-sized islands--Brazza, Lesina,
Lissa, Melida, and Curzola--and a great number of smaller ones, lies off
the Dalmatian coast, almost opposite Ragusa. From Spalato we laid our
course due south, past Solta, famed for its honey produced from rosemary
and the cistus-rose; skirted the wooded shores of Brazza, the largest
island of the group, rounded Capo Pellegrino and entered the lovely
harbor of Lesina. We did not anchor but, slowing to half-speed, made
the circuit of the little port, running close enough to the shore to
obtain pictures of the famous Loggia built by Sanmicheli, the Fondazo,
the ancient Venetian arsenal, and the crumbling Spanish fort, perched
high on a crag above the town. Then south by west again, past Lissa, the
western-most island of the group, where an Italian fleet under Persano
was defeated and destroyed by an Austrian squadron under Tegetthof in
1866. A marble lion in the local cemetery commemorated the victory and
marked the resting-places of the Austrian dead, but when the Italians
took possession of the island after the Armistice they changed the
inscription on the monument so that it now commemorates their final
victory over Austria. It was not, I think, a very sportsmanlike
proceeding.

Leaving Lissa to starboard, we steamed through the Canale di
Sabbioncello, with exquisite panoramas unrolling on either hand, and
dropped anchor off the quay of Curzola, where the governor of the
islands, Admiral Piazza, awaited us with his staff. In spite of the
bleakness of the surrounding mountains, Curzola is one of the most
exquisitely beautiful little towns that I have ever seen. The next time
you are in the Adriatic you should not fail to go there. Time and the
hand of man--for the people are a color-loving race--have given many
tints, soft and bright, to its roofs, towers, and ramparts. It is a town
of dim, narrow, winding streets, of steep flights of worn stone steps,
of moss-covered archways, and of some of the most splendid specimens of
the domestic architecture of the Middle Ages that exist outside of the
Street of the Crusaders in Rhodes. The sole modern touches are the
costumes of the islanders, and they are sufficiently picturesque not to
spoil the picture. How the place has escaped the motion-picture people I
fail to understand. (As a matter of fact, it hasn't, for I took with me
an operator and a camera--the first the islanders had ever seen.)
Besides the Cathedral of San Marco, with its splendid doors, its
exquisitely carved choir-stalls black with age and use, its choir
balustrade and pulpit of translucent alabaster, and its dim old
altar-piece by Tintoretto, the town boasts the Loggia or council
chambers, the palace of the Venetian governors, the noble mansion of the
Arnieri, and, brooding over all, a towering campanile, five centuries
old. The Lion of St. Mark, which appears on several of the public
buildings, holds beneath its paw a closed instead of an open
book--symbolizing, so I was told, the islanders' dissatisfaction with
certain laws of the Venetians.

But the phase of my visit which I enjoyed the most was when Admiral
Piazza took us across the bay, on a Detroit-built submarine-chaser, to a
Franciscan monastery dating from the fifteenth century. We were met by
the abbot at the water-stairs, and, after being shown the beautiful
Venetian Gothic cloisters, with alabaster columns whose carving was
almost lacelike in its delicate tracery, we were led along a wooded path
beside the sea, over a carpet of pine-needles, to a cloistered
rose-garden, in which stood, amid a bower of blossoms, a blue and white
statue of the Virgin. The fragrance of the flowers in the little
enclosure was like the incense in a church, above our heads the great
pines formed a canopy of green, and the music was furnished by the birds
and the murmuring sea. Here we seemed a world away from the waiting
armies and the great gray battleships, from the quarrels of Latin and
Slav. It was the first real peace that I had known after five years of
war, and I should have liked to remain there longer. But Montenegro,
Albania, Macedonia, all the unhappy, war-torn lands of the Near East lay
before me, and I turned reluctantly away. But my thoughts keep harking
back to the little town beside the turquoise bay, to the restfulness of
its old, old buildings, to the perfume of its flowers, and the
whispering voice of its turquoise sea. So some day, when the world is
really at peace and there are no more wars to write about, I think that
I shall go back to where

    "Far, far from here,
    The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
    Among the green Illyrian hills."




CHAPTER III

THE CEMETERY OF FOUR EMPIRES


We stood on the forward deck of the _Sirio_ as she slipped southward,
through the placid waters of the Adriatic, at twenty knots an hour. Less
than a league away the Balkan mountains, savage, mysterious, forbidding,
rose in a rocky rampart against the eastern sky.

"Did it ever occur to you," remarked the Italian officer who stood
beside me, a noted historian in his own land, "that four great empires
have died as a result of their lust for domination over the wretched
lands which lie beyond those mountains? Austria coveted Serbia--and the
empire of the Hapsburgs is in fragments now. Russia, seeing her
influence in the peninsula imperiled, hastened to the support of her
fellow Slavs--but Russia has gone down in red ruin, and the Romanoffs
are dead. Germany, seeking a gateway to the warm water, and a highway
to the East, seized on the excuse thus offered to launch her waiting
armies--and the empire reared by the Hohenzollerns is bankrupt and
broken. Turkey fought to retain her hold on such European territory as
still remained under the crescent banner. To-day a postmortem is about
to be held on the Turkish Empire and the House of Osman. Think of it!
Four great empires, four ancient dynasties, lie buried over there in the
Balkans. It is something more than a range of mountains at which we are
looking; it is the wall of a cemetery."

Rada di Antivari is a U-shaped bay, the color of a turquoise, from whose
shores the Montenegrin mountains rise in tiers, like the seats of an
arena. We put in there unexpectedly because a _bora_, sweeping suddenly
down from the northwest, had lashed the Adriatic into an ugly mood and
our destroyer, whose decks were almost as near the water as those of a
submarine running awash, was not a craft that one would choose for
comfort in such weather. Nor was our feeling of security increased by
the knowledge that we were skirting the edges of one of the largest
mine-fields in the Adriatic. But the _Sirio_ had scarcely poked her
sharp nose around the end of the breakwater which provides the excuse
for dignifying the exposed roadstead of Antivari (with the accent on the
second syllable, so that it rhymes with "discovery") by the name of
harbor before I saw what we had stumbled upon some form of trouble.
There were three other Italian destroyers in the harbor but, instead of
being moored snugly alongside the quay, they were strung out in a
semblance of battle formation, so that their deck-guns, from which the
canvas muzzle-covers had been removed, could sweep the rocky heights
above and around them. A string of signal-flags broke out from our
masthead and was answered in like fashion by the flag-ship of the
flotilla, after which formal exchange of greetings our wireless began to
crackle and splutter in an animated explanation of our unexpected
appearance. Our hawsers had scarcely been made fast before a launch left
the flag-ship and came plowing toward us, a knot of white-uniformed
officers in the stern. From the blue rug with the Italian arms, which,
as I could see through my glasses, was draped over the stern-sheets, I
deduced that the commander of the flotilla was paying us a visit.

"You have come at rather an unfortunate moment," he said after the
introductions were over. "Last night we were fired on by Jugoslavs on
the mountainside over there," indicating the heights across the harbor.
"In fact, the firing has just ceased. There must have been a thousand of
them or more, judging from the flashes. But I hope that madame will not
be alarmed, for she is really quite safe. They are firing at long range,
and the only danger is from a stray bullet. Still, it is most
embarrassing. On madame's account I am sorry."

His manner was that of a host apologizing to a guest because the
children of the family have measles and at the same time attempting to
convince the guest that measles are hardly ever contagious. I relieved
his quite obvious embarrassment by assuring him that Mrs. Powell much
preferred taking chances with snipers' bullets to the discomfort of a
destroyer in an ugly sea; and that, having journeyed six thousand miles
for the express purpose of seeing what was happening in the Balkans, we
would be disappointed if nothing happened at all.

When I left Paris for the Adriatic I carried with me the impression, as
the result of conversations with members of the various peace
delegations, that the people of Montenegro were almost unanimously in
favor of annexation to Serbia, thereby becoming a part of the new
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. But before I had spent
twenty-four hours in Montenegro itself I discovered that on the subject
of the political future of their little country the Montenegrins are
very far from being of the same mind. And, being a simple, primitive
folk, and strong believers in the superiority of the bullet to the
ballot, instead of sitting down and arguing the matter, they take cover
behind a convenient rock and, when their political opponents pass by,
take pot-shots at them.

My preconceived opinions about political conditions in Montenegro were
largely based on the knowledge that shortly after the signing of the
Armistice a Montenegrin National Assembly, so called, had met at
Podgoritza, and, after declaring itself in favor of the deposition of
King Nicholas and the Petrovitch dynasty, which has ruled in Montenegro
since William of Orange sat on the throne of England, voted for the
union of Montenegro with the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
Just how representative of the real sentiments of the nation was this
assembly I do not know, but that the sentiment in favor of such a
surrender of Montenegrin independence is far from being overwhelming
would seem to be proved by the fact that the Serbs, in order to hold the
territory thus given to them, have found it necessary to install a
Serbian military governor in Cetinje, to replace by Serbs all the
Montenegrin prefects, to raise a special gendarmerie recruited from men
who are known to be friendly to Serbia and officered by Serbs, and to
occupy this sister-state, which, it is alleged, requested union with
Serbia of its own free will, with two battalions of Serbian infantry. If
Montenegrin sentiment for the union is as overwhelming as Belgrade
claims, then it seems to me that the Serbs are acting in a rather
high-handed fashion.

I talked with a good many people while I was in Montenegro, and I was
especially careful not to meet them through the medium of either Serbs
or Italians. From these conversations I learned that the Montenegrins
are divided into three factions. The first of these, and the smallest,
desires the return of the King. It represents the old conservative
element and is composed of the men who have fought under him in many
wars. The second faction, which is the noisiest and at present holds the
reins of power, advocates the annexation of Montenegro to Serbia and the
deposition of King Nicholas in favor of the Serbian Prince-Regent
Alexander. The third party, which, though it has no means of making its
desires known, is, I am inclined to believe, the largest, and which
numbers among its supporters the most level-headed and far-seeing men in
the country, while frankly distrustful of Serbian ambitions and
unwilling to submit to Serbian dictatorship, possesses sufficient vision
to recognize the political and commercial advantages which would accrue
to Montenegro were she to become an equal partner in a confederation of
those Jugoslav countries which claim the same racial origin. Most
thoughtful Montenegrins have always been in favor of a union of all the
southern Slavs, along the general lines, perhaps, of the Germanic
Confederation, but this must not be interpreted as implying that they
are in favor of a union merely of Montenegro with Serbia, which would
mean the absorption of the smaller country by the larger one. They are
determined that, if such a confederation is brought about, Serbia shall
not occupy the dictatorial position which Prussia did in Germany, and
that the Karageorgevitches shall not play a role analogous to that of
the Hohenzollerns. Montenegro, remember, threw off the Turkish yoke a
century and three-quarters before Serbia was able to achieve her
liberty, and the patriotic among her people feel that this hard-won,
long-held independence should not lightly be thrown away.

It is not generally known, perhaps, that, when Austria declared war on
Serbia in August, 1914, an offensive and defensive alliance already
existed between Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro. We know how highly
Greece valued her signature to that treaty. Montenegro, with an area
two-thirds that of New Jersey, and a population less than that of
Milwaukee, could easily have used her weakness as an excuse for
standing aside, like Greece. Very likely Austria would not have molested
her and the little country would have been spared the horrors of a third
war within two years. But King Nicholas's conception of what constituted
loyalty and honor was different from Constantine's. Instead of accepting
the extensive territorial compensations offered by the Austrian envoy if
Montenegro would remain neutral, King Nicholas wired to the Serbian
Premier, M. Pachitch: "_Serbia may rely on the brotherly and
unconditional support of Montenegro in this moment, on which depends the
fate of the Serbian nation, as well as on any other occasion_," and took
the field at the head of 40,000 troops--all the men able to bear arms in
the little kingdom.

It has been repeatedly asserted by his enemies that King Nicholas sold
out to the Austrians and that, therefore, he deserves neither sympathy
nor consideration. As to this I have no _direct_ knowledge. How could I?
But, after talking with nearly all of the leading actors in the
Montenegrin drama, it is my personal belief that the King, though guilty
of many indiscretions and errors of policy, did not betray his people.
I am not ignorant of the King's shortcomings in other respects. But in
this case I believe that he has been grossly maligned. If he did sell
out he drove an extremely poor bargain, for he is living in exile, in
extremely straitened circumstances, his only luxury a car which the
French Government loans him. It is difficult to believe that, had he
been a traitor to the Allied cause, the British, French, and Italian
governments would continue to recognize him, to pay him subventions, and
to treat him as a ruling sovereign. Certain American diplomats have told
me that they were convinced that the King had a secret understanding
with Austria, though they admitted quite frankly that their convictions
were based on suspicions which they could not prove. To offset this, a
very exalted personage, whose name for obvious reasons I cannot mention,
but whose integrity and whose sources of information are beyond
question, has given me his word that, to his personal knowledge,
Nicholas had neither a treaty nor a secret understanding with the enemy.

"The propaganda against him had been so insidious and successful,
however," my informant concluded, "that even his own soldiers were
convinced that he had sold out to Austria and when the King attempted to
rally them as they were falling back from the positions on Mount
Lovtchen they jeered in his face, shouting that he had betrayed them.
Yet I, who was on the spot and who am familiar with all the facts, give
you my personal assurance that he had not."

Nor did the King give up his sword to the Austrian commander at Grahovo,
as was reported in the European press. When, with three-quarters of his
country overrun by the Austrians, his chief of staff, Colonel Pierre
Pechitch of the Serbian Army, reported "_Henceforth all resistance and
all fighting against the enemy is impossible. There is no chance of the
situation improving_," King Nicholas, in the words of Baron Sonnino,
then Italian Foreign Minister, "preferred to withdraw into exile rather
than sign a separate peace."

I may be wrong in my conclusions, of course; the cabinet ministers and
the ambassadors and the generals in whose honor and truthfulness I
believe may have deliberately deceived me, but, after a most
painstaking and conscientious investigation, I am convinced that we have
been misinformed and blinded by a propaganda against King Nicholas and
his people which has rarely been equaled in audacity of untruth and
dexterity of misrepresentation. To employ the methods used by certain
Balkan politicians in their attempted elimination of Montenegro as an
independent nation even Tammany Hall would be ashamed.

When, upon the occupation of Montenegro by the Austrians, the King fled
to France and established his government at Neuilly, near Paris--just as
the fugitive Serbian Government was established at Corfu and the Belgian
at Le Havre--England, France, and Italy entered into an agreement to pay
him a subvention, for the maintenance of himself and his government,
until such time as the status of Montenegro was definitely settled by
the Peace Conference. England ceased paying her share of this subvention
early in the spring of 1919. When, a few weeks later, it was announced
that King Nicholas was preparing to go to Italy to visit his daughter,
Queen Elena, the French Minister to the court of Montenegro bluntly
informed him that the French Government regarded his proposed visit to
Italy as the first step toward his return to Montenegro, and that,
should he cross the French frontier, France would immediately break off
diplomatic relations with Montenegro and cease paying her share of the
subvention. This would seem to bear out the assertion, which I heard
everywhere in the Balkans, that France is bending every effort toward
building up a strong Jugoslavia in order to offset Italy's territorial
and commercial ambitions in the peninsula. The French indignantly
repudiate the suggestion that they are coercing the Montenegrin King.

"How absurd!" exclaimed the officials with whom I talked. "We holding
King Nicholas a prisoner? The idea is preposterous. So far as France is
concerned, he can return to Montenegro whenever he chooses."

Still, their protestations were not entirely convincing. Their attitude
reminded me of the millionaire whose daughter, it was rumored, had
eloped with the family chauffeur.

"Sure, she can marry him if she wants to," he told the reporters. "I
have no objection. She is free, white, and twenty-one. But if she does
marry him I'll stop her allowance, cut her out of my will, and never
speak to her again."

Because it has been my privilege to know many sovereigns and because I
have been honored with the confidence of several of them, I have become
to a certain extent immune from the spell which seems to be exercised
upon the commoner by personal contact with the Lord's anointed. Save
when I have had some definite mission to accomplish, I have never had
any overwhelming desire "to grasp the hand that shook the hand of John
L. Sullivan." To me it seems an impertinence to take the time of busy
men merely for the sake of being able to boast about it afterward to
your friends. But because, during my travels in Jugoslavia, I heard King
Nicholas repeatedly denounced by Serbian officials with far more
bitterness than they employed toward their late enemies and oppressors,
the Hapsburgs, I was frankly eager for an opportunity to form my own
opinions about Montenegro's aged ruler. The opportunity came when, upon
my return to Paris, I was informed that the King wished to meet me, he
being desirous, I suppose, of talking with one who had come so recently
from his own country.

At that time the King, with the Queen, Prince Peter, and his two
unmarried daughters, was occupying a modest suite in the Hotel Meurice,
in the rue de Rivoli. He received me in a large, sun-flooded room
overlooking the Tuileries Gardens. The bald, broad-shouldered, rather
bent old man in the blue serge suit, with a tin ear-trumpet in his hand,
who rose from behind a great flat-topped desk to greet me, was a
startling contrast to the tall and vigorous figure, in the picturesque
dress of a Montenegrin chieftain, whom I had seen in Cetinje before the
war. I looked at him with interest, for he has been on the throne longer
than any living sovereign, he is the father-in-law of two Kings, and is
connected by marriage with half the royal houses of Europe, and he is
the last of that long line of patriarch-rulers who, leading their armies
in person, have for more than two centuries maintained the independence
of the Black Mountain and its people.

[Illustration: HIS MAJESTY NICHOLAS I. KING OF MONTENEGRO

He has been on the throne longer than any living sovereign, he is the
father-in-law of two kings, and is connected by marriage with half the
royal houses of Europe]

King Nicholas, as is generally known, has been remarkably successful in
marrying off his daughters, two of them having married Kings, two
others grand dukes, while a fifth became the wife of a Battenberg
prince. Remembering this, I was sorely tempted to ask the King as to the
truth of a story which I had heard in Cetinje years before. An English
visitor to the Montenegrin capital had been invited to lunch at the
palace. During the meal the King asked his guest his impressions of
Montenegro.

"Its scenery is magnificent," was the answer. "Its women are as
beautiful and its men as handsome as any I have ever seen. Their
costumes are marvelously picturesque. But the country appears to have no
exports, your Majesty."

"Ah, my friend," replied the King, his eyes twinkling, "you forget my
daughters."

Another story, which illustrates the King's quick wit, was told me by
his Majesty himself. When, some years before the Great War, Emperor
Francis Joseph, on a yachting cruise down the Adriatic, dropped anchor
in the Bocche di Cattaro, the Montenegrin mountaineers celebrated the
imperial visit by lighting bonfires on their mountain peaks, a mile
above the harbor.

"I see that you dwell in the clouds," remarked Francis Joseph to
Nicholas, as they stood on the deck of the yacht after dinner watching
the pin-points of flame twinkling high above them.

"Where else can I live?" responded the Montenegrin ruler. "Austria holds
the sea; Turkey holds the land; the sky is all that is left for
Montenegro."

One of the things which the King told me during our conversation will, I
think, interest Americans. He said that when President Wilson arrived in
Paris he sent him an autograph letter, congratulating him on the great
part he had played in bringing peace to the world and requesting a
personal interview.

"But he never granted me the interview," said the King sadly. "In fact,
he never acknowledged my letter."

I attempted to bridge over the embarrassing pause by suggesting that
perhaps the letter had never been received, but he waved aside the
suggestion as unworthy of consideration. I gathered from what he said
that royal letters do not miscarry.

"I realize that I am an old man and that my country is a very small and
unimportant one," he continued, "while your President is the ruler of a
great country and a very busy man. Still, we in Montenegro had heard so
much of America's chivalrous attitude toward small, weak nations that I
was unduly disappointed, perhaps, when my letter was ignored. I felt
that my age, and the fact that I have occupied the throne of Montenegro
for sixty years, entitled me to the consideration of a reply."

But we have strayed far from the road which we were traveling. Let us
get back to the people of the mountains; I like them better than the
politicians. Antivari, which nestles in a hollow of the hills, three or
four miles inland from the port of the same name, is one of the most
fascinating little towns in all the Balkans. Its narrow, winding,
cobble-paved streets, shaded by canopies of grapevines and bordered by
rows of squat, red-tiled houses, their plastered walls tinted pale blue,
bright pink or yellow, and the amazingly picturesque costumes of its
inhabitants--slender, stately Montenegrin women in long coats of
turquoise-colored broad-cloth piped with crimson, Bosnians in skin-tight
breeches covered with arabesques of braid and jackets heavy with
embroidery, Albanians wearing the starched and pleated skirts of linen
known as _fustanellas_ and _comitadjis_ with cartridge-filled bandoliers
slung across their chests and their sashes bristling with assorted
weapons, priests of the Orthodox Church with uncut hair and beards,
wearing hats that look like inverted stovepipes, hook-nosed,
white-bearded, patriarchal-looking Turks in flowing robes and snowy
turbans, fierce-faced, keen-eyed mountain herdsmen in fur caps and coats
of sheepskin--all these combined to make me feel that I had intruded
upon the stage of a theater during a musical comedy performance, and
that I must find the exit and escape before I was discovered by the
stage-manager. If David Belasco ever visits Antivari he will probably
try to buy the place bodily and transport it to East Forty-fourth Street
and write a play around it.

There were two gentlemen in Antivari whose actions gave me unalloyed
delight. One of them, so I was told, was the head of the local
anti-Serbian faction; the other, a human arsenal with weapons sprouting
from his person like leaves from an artichoke, was the chief of a
notorious band of _comitadjis_, as the Balkan guerrillas are called.
They walked up and down the main street of Antivari, arms over each
other's shoulders, heads close together, lost in conversation, but
glancing quickly over their shoulders every now and then to see if they
were in danger of being overheard, exactly like the plotters in a
motion-picture play. From the earnestness of their conversation, the
obvious awe in which they were held by the townspeople, and the
suspicious looks cast in their direction by the Serbian gendarmes, I
gathered that in the near future things were going to happen in that
region. Approaching them, I haltingly explained, in the few words of
Serbian at my command, that I was an American and that I wished to
photograph them. Upon comprehending my request they debated the question
for some moments, then shook their heads decisively. It was evident
that, in view of what they had in mind, they considered it imprudent to
have their pictures floating around as a possible means of
identification. But while they were discussing the matter I took the
liberty, without their knowledge, of photographing them anyway. It was
as well, perhaps, that they did not see me do it, for the _comitadji_
chieftain had a long knife, two revolvers, and four hand-grenades in
his belt and a rifle slung over his shoulder.

From Antivari to Valona by sea is about as far as from New York to
Albany by the Hudson, so that, leaving the Montenegrin port in the early
morning, we had no difficulty in reaching the Albanian one before
sunset. Before the war Valona--which, by the way, appears as Avlona on
most American-made maps--was an insignificant fishing village, but upon
Italy's occupation of Albania it became a military base of great
importance. Whenever we had touched on our journey down the coast we had
been warned against going to Valona because of the danger of contracting
fever. The town stands on the edge of a marsh bordering the shore and,
as no serious attempt has been made to drain the marsh or to clean up
the town itself, about sixty per cent of the troops stationed there are
constantly suffering from a peculiarly virulent form of malaria, similar
to the Chagres fever of the Isthmus. The danger of contracting it was
apparently considered very real, for, before we had been an hour in the
quarters assigned to us, officers began to arrive with safeguards of one
sort or another. One brought screens for all the windows; another
provided mosquito-bars for the beds; a third presented us with
disinfectant cubes, which we were to burn in our rooms several times
each day; a fourth made us a gift of quinine pills, two of which we were
to take hourly; still another of our hosts appeared with a dozen bottles
of _acqua minerale_ and warned us not to drink the local water, and,
finally, to ensure us against molestation by prowling natives, a couple
of sentries were posted beneath our windows.

[Illustration: TWO CONSPIRATORS OF ANTIVARI

They stood lost in conversation, heads close together, exactly like the
plotters in a motion picture play]

"Valona isn't a particularly healthy place to live in, I gather?" I
remarked, by way of making conversation, to the officer who was our host
at dinner that evening. His face was as yellow as old parchment and he
was shaking with fever.

"Well," he reluctantly admitted, "you must be careful not to be bitten
by a mosquito or you will get malaria. And don't drink the water or you
will contract typhoid. And keep away from the native quarter, for there
is always more or less smallpox in the bazaars. And don't go wandering
around the town after nightfall, for there's always a chance of some
fanatic putting a knife between your shoulders. Otherwise, there isn't
a healthier place in the world than Valona."

Across the street from the building in which we were quartered was a
large mosque, which, judging from the scaffoldings around it, was under
repair. But though it seemed to be a large and important mosque, there
was no work going forward on it. I commented upon this one day to an
officer with whom I was walking.

"Do you see those storks up there?" he asked, pointing to a pair of
long-legged birds standing beside their nest on the dome of the mosque.
"The stork is the sacred bird of Albania and if it makes its nest on a
building which is in course of construction all work on that building
ceases as long as the stork remains. A barracks we were erecting was
held up for several months because a stork decided to make its nest in
the rafters, whereupon the native workmen threw down their tools and
quit."

"In my country it is just the opposite," I observed. "There, when the
stork comes, instead of stopping work they usually begin building a
nursery."

I had long wished to cross Albania and Macedonia, from the Adriatic to
the AEgean, by motor, but the nearer we had drawn to Albania the more
unlikely this project had seemed of realization. We were assured that
there were no roads in the interior of the country or that such roads as
existed were quite impassable for anything save ox-carts; that the
country had been devastated by the fighting armies and that it would be
impossible to get food en route; that the mountains we must cross were
frequented by bandits and _comitadjis_ and that we would be exposed to
attack and capture; that, though the Italians might see us across
Albania, the Serbian and Greek frontier guards would not permit us to
enter Macedonia, and, as a final argument against the undertaking, we
were warned that the whole country reeked with fever. But when I told
the Governor-General of Albania, General Piacentini, what I wished to do
every obstacle disappeared as though at the wave of a magician's wand.

"You will leave Valona early to-morrow morning," he said, after a short
conference with his Chief of Staff. "You will be accompanied by an
officer of my staff who was with the Serbian army on its retreat across
Albania to the sea. The country is well garrisoned and I do not
anticipate the slightest trouble, but, as a measure of precaution, a
detachment of soldiers will follow your car in a motor-truck. You will
spend the first night at Argirocastro, the second at Ljaskoviki, and the
third at Koritza, which is occupied by the French. I will wire our
diplomatic agent there to make arrangements with the Jugoslav
authorities for you to cross the Serbian border to Monastir, where we
still have a few troops engaged in salvage work. South of Monastir you
will be in Greek territory, but I will wire the officer in command of
the Italian forces at Salonika to take steps to facilitate your journey
across Macedonia to the AEgean."

This journey across one of the most savage and least-known regions in
all Europe was arranged as simply and matter-of-factly as a clerk in a
tourist bureau would plan a motor trip through the White Mountains. With
the exception of one or two alterations in the itinerary made necessary
by tire trouble, the journey was made precisely as General Piacentini
planned it and so complete were the arrangements we found that meals
and sleeping quarters had been prepared for us in tiny mountain hamlets
whose very names we had never so much as heard before.

Until its occupation by the Italians in 1917 Albania was not only the
least-known region in Europe; it was one of the least-known regions in
the world. Within sight of Italy, it was less known than many portions
of Central Asia or Equatorial Africa. And it is still a savage country;
a land but little changed since the days of Constantine and Diocletian;
a land that for more than twenty centuries has acknowledged no master
and, until the coming of the Italians, had known no law. Prior to the
Italian occupation there was no government in Albania in the sense in
which that word is generally used, there being, in fact, no civil
government now, the tribal organization which takes its place being
comparable to that which existed in Scotland under the Stuart Kings.

The term Albanian would probably pass unrecognized by the great majority
of the inhabitants, who speak of themselves as _Skipetars_ and of their
country as _Sccupnj_. They are, most ethnologists agree, probably the
most ancient race in Europe, there being every reason to believe that
they are the lineal descendants of those adventurous Aryans who, leaving
the ancestral home on the shores of the Caspian, crossed the Caucasus
and entered Europe in the earliest dawn of history. One of the tribes of
this migrating host, straying into these lonely valleys, settled there
with their flocks and herds, living the same life, speaking the same
tongue, following the same customs as their Aryan ancestors, quite
indifferent to the great changes which were taking place in the world
without their mountain wall. Certain it is that Albania was already an
ancient nation when Greek history began. Unlike the other primitive
populations of the Balkan peninsula, which became in time either
Hellenized, Latinized or Slavonicized, the Albanians have remained
almost unaffected by foreign influences. It strikes me as a strange
thing that the courage and determination with which this remarkable race
has maintained itself in its mountain stronghold all down the ages, and
the grim and unyielding front which it has shown to innumerable
invaders, have evoked so little appreciation and admiration in the
outside world. History contains no such epic as that of the Albanian
national hero, George Castriota, better known as Scanderbeg, who, with
his ill-armed mountaineers, overwhelmed twenty-three Ottoman armies, one
after another.[A]

Picture, if you please, a country remarkably similar in its physical
characteristics to the Blue Ridge Region of our own South, with the same
warm summers and the same brief, cold winters, peopled by the same
poverty-stricken, illiterate, quarrelsome, suspicious, arms-bearing,
feud-practising race of mountaineers, and you will have the best
domestic parallel of Albania that I can give you. Though during the
summer months extremely hot days are followed by bitterly cold nights,
and though fever is prevalent along the coast and in certain of the
valleys, Albania is, climatically speaking, "a white man's country." Its
mountains are believed to contain iron, coal, gold, lead, and copper,
but the internal condition of the country has made it quite impossible
to investigate its mineral resources, much less to develop them. With
the exception of Valona, which has been developed into a tolerably good
harbor, there are no ports worthy of the name, Durazzo, Santi Quaranta,
and San Giovanni de Medua being mere open roadsteads, almost unprotected
from the sea winds. There are no railroads in Albania, and the
indifference of the Turkish Government, the corruption of the local
chiefs, and the blood-feuds in which the people are almost constantly
engaged, have resulted in a total absence of good roads. This condition
has been remedied by the Italians, however, who, in order to facilitate
their military operations, constructed a system of highways very nearly
equal to those they built in the Alps. Though the greater part of the
country is a stranger to the plow, the small areas which are under
cultivation produce excellent olive oil, wine of a tolerable quality, a
strong but moderately good tobacco, and considerable grain; Albania, in
spite of its primitive agricultural methods, furnishing most of the corn
supply of the Dalmatian coast.

Albania, so far as I am aware, is the only country where you can buy a
wife on the instalment plan, just as you would buy a piano or an
encyclopedia or a phonograph. It is quite true that there are plenty of
countries where women can be purchased--in Circassia, for example, and
in China, and in the Solomon Group--but in those places the prospective
bridegroom is compelled to pay down the purchase price in cash, not
being afforded the convenience of opening an account. In Albania,
however, such things are better done, a partial payment on the purchase
price of the girl being paid to her parents when the engagement takes
place, after which she is no longer offered for sale, but is set aside,
like an article on which a deposit has been made, until the final
instalment has been paid, when she is delivered to her future husband.

Albania is likewise the only country that I know of where every one
concerned becomes indignant if a murderer is sent to prison. The
relatives of the dear departed resent it because they feel that the
judge has cheated them out of their revenge, which they would probably
obtain, were the murderer at large, by putting a knife or a pistol
bullet between his shoulders. The murderer, of course, objects to the
sentence both because he does not like imprisonment and because he
believes that he could escape from the relatives of his victim were he
given his freedom. If he or his friends have any money, however, the
affair is usually settled on a financial basis, the feud is called off,
the murderer is pardoned, and every one concerned, save only the dead
man, is as pleased and friendly as though nothing had ever happened to
interrupt their friendly relations. A quaint people, the Albanians.

In order to develop the resources of the country and to transform its
present poverty into prosperity, Italy has already inaugurated an
extensive scheme of public works, which includes the reclamation of the
marshes, the reforestation of the mountains, the reconstruction of the
highways, the improvement of the ports, and the construction of a
railway straight across Albania, from the coast at Durazzo to Monastir,
in Serbian Macedonia, where it will connect with the line from Belgrade
to Salonika. This railway will follow the route of one of the most
important arteries of the Roman Empire, the Via Egnatia, that mighty
military and commercial highway, a trans-Adriatic continuation of the
Via Appia, which, starting from Dyracchium, the modern Durazzo, crossed
the Cavaia plain to the Skumbi, climbed the slopes of the Candavian
range, and traversing Macedonia and Thrace, ended at the Bosphorus, thus
linking the capitals of the western and the eastern empires. We traveled
this age-old highway, down which the four-horse chariots of the Caesars
had rumbled two thousand years ago, in another sort of chariot, with the
power of twenty times four horses beneath its sloping hood. This will
entitle us in future years to listen with the condescension of pioneers
to the tales of the tourists who make the same trans-Balkan journey in a
comfortable _wagon-lit_, with hot and cold running water and electric
lights and a dining-car ahead. It is a great thing to have seen a
country in the pioneer stage of its existence.

In that portion of Southern Albania known as North Epirus we motored for
an entire day through a region dotted with what had been, apparently,
fairly prosperous towns and villages but which are now heaps of
fire-blackened ruins. This wholesale devastation, I was informed to my
astonishment, was the work of the Greeks, who, at about the time the
Germans were horrifying the civilized world by their conduct in
Belgium, were doing precisely the same thing, it is said, but on a far
more extensive scale, in Albania. As a result of these atrocities,
perpetrated by a so-called Christian and professedly civilized nation, a
large number of Albanian towns and villages were destroyed by fire or
dynamite. Though I have been unable to obtain any reliable figures, the
consensus of opinion among the Albanians, the French and Italian
officials, and the American missionaries and relief workers with whom I
talked is that between 10,000 and 12,000 men, women, and children were
shot, bayoneted, or burned to death, at least double that number died
from exposure and starvation, and an enormous number--I have heard the
figure placed as high as 200,000--were rendered homeless. The stories
which I heard of the treatment to which the Albanian women were
subjected are so revolting as to be unprintable. We spent a night at
Ljaskoviki (also spelled Gliascovichi, Leskovik and Liascovik),
three-quarters of which had been destroyed. Out of a population which, I
was told, originally numbered about 8,000, only 1,200 remain.

[Illustration: THE HEAD MEN OF LJASKOVIKI, ALBANIA, WAITING TO BID MAJOR
AND MRS. POWELL FAREWELL]

Though the great majority of the victims were Mohammedans, the
outrages were not directly due to religious causes but were inspired
mainly by greed for territory. When, upon the erection of Albania into
an independent kingdom in 1913, the Greeks were ordered by the Powers to
withdraw from North Epirus, on which they had been steadily encroaching
and which they had come to look upon as inalienably their own, they are
reported to have begun a systematic series of outrages upon the civil
population of the region for which a fitting parallel can be found only
in the Turkish massacres in Armenia or the horrors of Bolshevik rule in
Russia. In their determination to secure Southern Albania for
themselves, the Greeks apparently adopted the policy followed with such
success in Armenia by the Turks, who asserted cynically that "one cannot
make a state without inhabitants."

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.]




CHAPTER IV

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."

[Illustration: THE ANCIENT WALLS OF SALONIKA

Before us we saw the yellow walls and crenellated towers of that city
where Paul preached to the Thessalonians]

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.




CHAPTER V

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."

[Illustration: YILDIZ KIOSK, THE FAVORITE PALACE OF ABDUL-HAMID AND HIS
SUCCESSORS ON THE THRONE OF OSMAN

The building in the foreground, known as the Ambassador's Pavilion, is
only a small portion of the great Palace which in Abdul-Hamid's time
housed upward of 10,000 persons]

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.




CHAPTER VI

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.

[Illustration: THE RED BADGE OF MERCY IN THE BALKANS

American Red Cross women supplying food to a ship-load of starving
Russian refugees at Constantza, Rumania]

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.

But the United States is not the only country which has lost the
confidence of the Rumanians. France is even more deeply distrusted and
disliked than we are. And this in spite of the fact that the upper
classes of Rumania have held up the French as their ideal for the past
fifty years. Indeed, wealthy Rumanians live in a fashion more French
than if they dwelt in Paris itself. This sudden unpopularity of the
French is due to several causes. After having expected much of them, the
people were amazed and bitterly disappointed at their apparent
indifference toward the future of Rumania. Then there were the
unfortunate incidents at Odessa, the withdrawal of the French forces
from that city before the advance of the Bolsheviks, and the regrettable
happening in the French Black Sea fleet These things, of course,
contributed to loss of French prestige. Another contributory factor has
been the lack of enterprise of French capitalists, causing those who
control the financial and economic development of Rumania to seek
encouragement and assistance elsewhere. But the underlying reason for
the deep-seated distrust of France is to be found, I think, in France's
attempt to maintain the balance of power in Southeastern Europe by
building up a strong Jugoslavia. Now the Rumanians, it must be
remembered, hate the Jugoslavs even more bitterly than they hate the
Hungarians--and they are far more afraid of them. This hatred is not
merely the result of the age-long antagonism between the Latin and the
Slav; it is also political. The Rumanians have watched with growing
jealousy and apprehension the expansion of Serbia into a state with a
population and area nearly equal to their own. After having long dreamed
of the day when they would themselves be arbiters of the destinies of
the nations of Southeastern Europe, they see their political supremacy
challenged by the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, behind
which they discern the power and influence of France. When the
dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire began, Rumania demanded and
expected the whole of the great rich province of the Banat, with the
Maros River for her northern and the Danube for her southern frontier.

"But that would place our capital within range of the Rumanian
artillery," the Serbian prime minister is said to have exclaimed.

"Then move your capital," the Rumanian premier responded drily.

As a result of this controversy over the Banat the relations of the two
nations have been strained almost to the breaking-point. When I was in
the Banat in the autumn of 1919 the Rumanian and Serbian frontier
guards were glowering at each other like fighting terriers held in
leash, and the slightest untoward incident would have precipitated a
conflict! Although, by the terms of the Treaty of St. Germain,
Jugoslavia was awarded the western half of the Banat, Rumania is
prepared to take advantage of the first opportunity which presents
itself to take it away from her rival. When I was in Bucharest a cabinet
minister concluded a lengthy exposition of Rumania's position by
declaring:

"Within the next two or three years, in all probability, there will be a
war between Jugoslavia and Italy over the Dalmatian question. The day
that Jugoslavia goes to war with Italy we will attack Jugoslavia and
seize the Banat. The Danube is Rumania's natural and logical frontier."

This would seem to bear out the assertion that there exists a secret
alliance between Italy and Rumania, which, if true, would place
Jugoslavia in the unhappy position of a nut between the jaws of a
cracker. I have also been told on excellent authority that there is
likewise an "understanding" between Italy and Bulgaria that, should the
former become engaged in a war with the Jugoslavs, the latter will
attack the Serbs from the east and regain her lost provinces in
Macedonia. A pleasant prospect for Southeastern Europe, truly.

While we were in Bucharest we received an invitation--"command" is the
correct word according to court usage--to visit the King and Queen of
Rumania at their Chateau of Pelesch, near Sinaia, in the Carpathians. It
is about a hundred miles by road from the capital to Sinaia and the
first half of the journey, which we made by motor, was over a road as
execrable as any we found in the Balkans. Upon reaching the foothills of
the Carpathians, however, the highway, which had been steadily growing
worse, suddenly took a turn for the better--due, no doubt, to the
invigorating qualities of the mountain atmosphere--and climbed
vigorously upward through wild gorges and splendid pine forests which
reminded me of the Adirondacks of Northern New York. Notwithstanding the
atrocious condition of the highway, which constantly threatened to
dislocate our joints as well as those of the car, and the choking,
blinding clouds of yellow dust, every change of figure on the
speedometer brought new and interesting scenes. For mile after mile the
road, straight as though marked out by a ruler, ran between fields of
wheat and corn as vast as those of our own West. In spite of the fact
that the Austro-Germans carried off all the animals and farming
implements they could lay their hands on, the agricultural prosperity of
Rumania is astounding. In 1916, for example, while involved in a
terribly destructive war, Rumania produced more wheat than Minnesota and
about twenty-five times as much corn as our three Pacific Coast states
combined. At frequent intervals we passed huge scarlet threshing
machines, most of them labeled "Made in U.S.A.," which were centers of
activity for hundreds of white-smocked peasants who were hauling in the
grain with ox-teams, feeding it into the voracious maws of the machines,
and piling the residue of straw into the largest stacks I have ever
seen. As we drew near the mountains the grain fields gave way to grazing
lands where great herds of cattle of various breeds--brindled milch
animals, massive cream-colored oxen, blue-gray buffalo with elephant
like hides and broad, curving horns, and gaunt steers that looked for
all the world like Texas longhorns--browsed amid the lush green grass.

Though the villages of the Wallachian plain are few and far between, and
though it is no uncommon thing for a peasant to walk a dozen miles from
his home to the fields in which he works, the whole region seemed a-hum
with industry. The Rumanian peasant, like his fellows below the Danube,
is, as a rule, a good-natured, easy-going though easily excited,
reasonably honest and extremely industrious fellow who labors from dawn
to darkness in six days of the week and spends the seventh in harmless
village carouses, chiefly characterized by dancing, music and the cheap
native wine. Rumania is one of the few countries in Europe where the
peasants still dress like the pictures on the postcards. The men wear
curly-brimmed shovel hats of black felt, like those affected by English
curates, and loose shirts of white linen, whose tails, instead of being
tucked into the trousers, flap freely about their legs, giving them the
appearance of having responded to an alarm of fire without waiting to
finish dressing. On Sundays and holidays men and women alike appear in
garments covered with the gorgeous needlework for which Rumania is
famous, some of the women's dresses being so heavily embroidered in gold
and silver that from a little distance the wearers look as though they
were enveloped in chain mail. A considerable and undesirable element of
Rumania's population consists of gipsies, whence their name of Romany,
or Rumani. The Rumanian gipsies, who are nomads and vagrants like their
kinsmen in the United States, are generally lazy, quarrelsome, dishonest
and untrustworthy, supporting themselves by horse-trading and
cattle-stealing or by their flocks and herds. We stopped near one of
their picturesque encampments in order to repair a tire and I took a
picture of a young woman with a child in her arms, but when I declined
to pay her the five lei she demanded for the privilege, she flew at me
like an angry cat, screaming curses and maledictions. But her picture
was not worth five lei, as you can see for yourself.

[Illustration: A PEASANT OF OLD SERBIA

The Serbian peasant is simple, kindly, hospitable, honest, and generous,
and, though he could not be described ... as a hard worker, his wife
invariably is]

[Illustration: THE GYPSY WHO DEMANDED FIVE LEI FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF
TAKING HER PICTURE]

The Castle of Pelesch is just such a royal residence as Anthony Hope has
depicted in _The Prisoner of Zenda_. It gives the impression, at first
sight, of a confusion of turrets, gables, balconies, terraces,
parapets and fountains, but one quickly forgets its architectural
shortcomings in the beauty of its surroundings. It stands amid velvet
lawns and wonderful rose gardens in a sort of forest glade, from which
the pine-clothed slopes of the Carpathians rise steeply on every side,
the beam-and-plaster walls, the red-tiled roofs, and the blazing gardens
of the chateau forming a striking contrast to the austerity of the
mountains and the solemnity of the encircling forest.

We had rather expected to be presented to Queen Marie with some
semblance of formality in one of the reception rooms of the chateau, but
she sent word by her lady-in-waiting that she would receive us in the
gardens. A few minutes later she came swinging toward us across a great
stretch of rolling lawn, a splendid figure of a woman, dressed in a
magnificent native costume of white and silver, a white scarf partially
concealing her masses of tawny hair, a long-bladed poniard in a silver
sheath hanging from her girdle. At her heels were a dozen Russian wolf
hounds, the gift, so she told me, of the Grand Duke Nicholas, the former
commander-in-chief of the Russian armies. I have seen many queens, but
I have never seen one who so completely meets the popular conception of
what a queen should look like as Marie of Rumania. Though in the middle
forties, her complexion is so faultless, her physique so superb, her
presence so commanding that, were she utterly unknown, she would still
be a center of attraction in any assemblage. Had she not been born to a
crown she would almost certainly have made a great name for herself,
probably as an actress. She paints exceptionally well and has written
several successful books and stories, thereby following the example of
her famous predecessor on the Rumanian throne, Queen Elizabeth, better
known as Carmen Sylva. She speaks English like an Englishwoman, as well
she may, for she is a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She is also a
descendant of the Romanoffs, for one of her grandfathers was Alexander
III of Russia. In her manner she is more simple and democratic than many
American women that I know, her poise and simplicity being in striking
contrast to the manners of two of my countrywomen who had spent the
night preceding our arrival at the castle and who were manifestly much
impressed by this contact with the Lord's Anointed. When luncheon was
announced her second daughter, Princess Marie, had not put in an
appearance. But, instead of despatching the major domo to inform her
Royal Highness that the meal was served, the Queen stepped to the foot
of the great staircase and called, "Hurry up, Mignon. You're keeping us
all waiting," whereupon a voice replied from the upper regions, "All
right, mamma. I'll be down in a minute." Not much like the picture of
palace life that the novelists and the motion-picture playwrights give
us, is it? I might add that the Queen commonly refers to the plump young
princess as "Fatty," a nickname which she hardly deserves, however. In
her conversations with me the Queen was at times almost disconcertingly
frank. "Royalty is going out of fashion," she remarked on one occasion,
"but I like my job and I'm going to do everything I can to keep it." To
Mrs. Powell she said, "I have beauty, intelligence and executive
ability. I would be successful in life if I were not a queen."

Unlike many persons who occupy exalted positions, she has a real sense
of humor.

"Yesterday," she remarked, "was Nicholas's birthday," referring to her
second son, Prince Nicholas, who, since his elder brother, Prince Carol,
renounced his rights to the throne in order to marry the girl he loved,
has become the heir apparent. "At breakfast his father remarked, 'I'm
sorry, Nicholas, but I haven't any birthday present for you. The shops
in Bucharest were pretty well cleaned out by the Germans, you know, and
I didn't remember your birthday in time to send to Paris for a present.'
'Do you really wish to give Nicholas a present, Nando?' (the diminutive
of Ferdinand) I asked him. 'Of course I do,' the King answered, 'but
what is there to give him?' 'That's the easiest thing in the world,' I
replied. 'There is nothing that would give Nicholas so much pleasure as
an engraving of his dear father--on a thousand-franc note.'"

Prince Nicholas, the future king of Rumania, who is being educated at
Eton, looks and acts like any normal American "prep" school boy.

"Do the boys still wear top hats at Eton?" I asked him.

"Yes, they do," he answered, "but it's a silly custom. And they cost two
guineas apiece. I leave it to you, Major, if two guineas isn't too much
for any hat."

When I told him that in democratic America certain Fifth Avenue hatters
charge the equivalent of five guineas for a bowler he looked at me in
frank unbelief. "But then," he remarked, "all Americans are rich."

Shortly before luncheon we were joined by King Ferdinand, a slenderly
built man, somewhat under medium height, with a grizzled beard, a genial
smile and merry, twinkling eyes. He wore the gray-green field uniform
and gold-laced kepi of a Rumanian general, the only thing about his
dress which suggested his exalted rank being the insignia of the Order
of Michael the Brave, which hung from his neck by a gold-and-purple
ribbon. Were you to see him in other clothes and other circumstances you
might well mistake him for an active and successful professional man.
King Ferdinand is the sort of man one enjoys chatting with in front of
an open fire over the cigars, for, in addition to being a shrewd judge
of men and events and having a remarkably exact knowledge of world
affairs, he possesses in an altogether exceptional degree the qualities
of tact, kindliness and humor.

The King did not hesitate to express his indignation that the re-making
of the map of Europe should have been entrusted to men who possessed so
little first-hand knowledge of the nations whose boundaries they were
re-shaping.

"A few days before the signing of the Treaty of St. Germain," he told
me, "Lloyd George sent for one of the experts attached to the Peace
Conference.

"'Where is this Banat that Rumania and Serbia are quarreling over?' he
inquired.

"'I will show you, sir,' the attache answered, unrolling a map of
southeastern Europe. For several minutes he explained in detail to the
British Premier the boundaries of the Banat and the conflicting
territorial claims to which its division had given rise. But when he
paused Lloyd George made no response. He was sound asleep!

"Yet a little group of men," the King continued, "who know no more about
the nations whose destinies they are deciding than Lloyd George knew
about the Banat, have abrogated to themselves the right to cut up and
apportion territories as casually as though they were dividing
apple-tarts."

[Illustration: KING FERDINAND TELLS MRS. POWELL HIS OPINION OF THE
FASHION IN WHICH THE PEACE CONFERENCE TREATED RUMANIA, WHILE QUEEN MARIE
LISTENS APPROVINGLY]

The impression prevails in other countries that it is Queen Marie who is
really the head of the Rumanian royal family and that the King is little
more than a figurehead. With this estimate I do not agree. Rumania could
have no better spokesman than Queen Marie, whose talents, beauty, and
exceptional tact peculiarly fit her for the difficult role she has been
called upon to play. But the King, though he is by nature quiet and
retiring, is by no means lacking in political sagacity or the courage of
his convictions, being, I am convinced, as important a factor in the
government of his country as the limitations of its constitution permit.
Though none too well liked, I imagine, by the professional politicians,
who in Rumania, as in other countries, resent any attempt at
interference by the sovereign with their plans, the royal couple are
immensely popular with the masses of the people, Ferdinand frequently
being referred to as "the peasants' King." In the darkest days of the
war, when Rumania was overrun by the enemy and it seemed as though
Moldavia and the northern Dobrudja were all that could be saved to the
nation, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, instead of escaping from their
country or asking the enemy for terms, retreated with the army to Jassy,
on the easternmost limits of the kingdom, where they underwent the
horrors of that terrible winter with their soldiers, the King serving
with the troops in the field and the Queen working in the hospitals as a
Red Cross nurse. Less than three years later, however, on November
twentieth, 1919, there assembled in Bucharest the first parliament of
Greater Rumania, attended by deputies from all those Rumanian
regions--Bessarabia, Transylvania, the Banat, the Bucovina and the
Dobrudja--which had been restored to the Rumanian motherland. At the
head of the chamber, in the great gilt chair of state, sat Ferdinand I,
who, from the fugitive ruler, shivering with his ragged soldiers in the
frozen marshes beside the Pruth, has become the sovereign of a country
having the sixth largest population in Europe and has taken his place in
Rumanian history beside Stephen the Great and Michael the Brave as
Ferdinand the Liberator.




CHAPTER VII

MAKING A NATION TO ORDER


From the young officers who wore on their shoulders the silver greyhound
of the American Courier Service we heard many discouraging tales of the
annoyances and discomforts for which we must be prepared in traveling
through Hungary, the Banat and Jugoslavia. But, to tell the truth, I did
not take these warnings very seriously, for I had observed that a
profoundly pessimistic attitude of mind characterized all of the
Americans or English whose duties had kept them in the Balkans for any
length of time. In Salonika this mental condition was referred to as
"the Balkan tap"--derived, no doubt, from the verb "to knock," as with a
hammer--and it usually implied that those suffering from the ailment had
outstayed their period of usefulness and should be sent home.

Thrice weekly a train composed of an assortment of ramshackle and
dilapidated coaches, called by courtesy the Orient Express, which
maintained an average speed of fifteen miles an hour, left Bucharest for
Vincovce, a small junction town in the Banat, where it was supposed to
make connections with the south-bound Simplon Express from Paris to
Belgrade and with the north-bound express from Belgrade to Paris. The
Simplon Express likewise ran thrice weekly, so, if the connections were
missed at Vincovce, the passengers were compelled to spend at least two
days in a small Hungarian town which was notorious, even in that region,
for its discomforts and its dirt. All went well with us, however, the
train at one time attaining the dizzy speed of thirty miles an hour,
until, in a particularly desolate portion of the great Hungarian plain,
we came to an abrupt halt. When, after a half hour's wait, I descended
to ascertain the cause of the delay, I found the train crew surrounded
by a group of indignant and protesting passengers.

"What's the trouble?" I inquired.

"The engineer claims that he has run out of coal," some one answered.
"But he says that there is a coal depot three or four kilometers ahead
and that, if each first-class passenger will contribute fifty francs,
and each second-class passenger twenty francs, he figures that it will
enable him to buy just enough coal to reach Vincovce. Otherwise, he
says, we will probably miss both connections, which means that we must
stay in Vincovce for forty-eight hours. And if you had ever seen
Vincovce you would understand that such a prospect is anything but
alluring."

While my fellow-passengers were noisily debating the question I strolled
ahead to take a look at the engine. As I had been led to expect from the
stories I had heard from the courier officers, the tender contained an
ample supply of coal--enough, it seemed to me, to haul the train to
Trieste.

"This is nothing but a hold-up," I told the assembled passengers. "There
is plenty of coal in the tender. I am as anxious to make the connection
as any of you, but I will settle here and raise bananas, or whatever
they do raise in the Banat, before I will submit to this highwayman's
demands."

Seeing that his bluff had been called, the engineer, favoring me with a
murderous glance, sullenly climbed into his cab and the train started,
only to stop again, however, a few miles further on, this time, the
engineer explained, because the engine had broken down. There being no
way of disputing this statement, it became a question of pay or
stay--and we stayed. The engineer did not get his tribute and we did not
get our train at Vincovce, where we spent twenty hot, hungry and
extremely disagreeable hours before the arrival of a local train bound
for Semlin, across the Danube from Belgrade. We completed our journey to
the Jugoslav capital in a fourth-class compartment into which were
already squeezed two Serbian soldiers, eight peasants, a crate of live
poultry and a dog, to say nothing of a multitude of small and undesired
occupants whose presence caused considerable annoyance to every one,
including the dog. We were glad when the train arrived at Semlin.

Late in the summer of 1919, as a result of the reconstruction of the
railway bridges which had been blown up by the Bulgarians early in the
war, through service between Salonika and Belgrade was restored. As the
journey consumed from three to five days, however, the train stopping
for the night at stations where the hotel accommodation was of the most
impossible description, the American and British officials and
relief-workers who were compelled to make the journey (I never heard of
any one making it for pleasure) usually hired a freight car, which they
fitted up with army cots and a small cook-stove, thus traveling in
comparative comfort.

Curiously enough, the only trains running on anything approaching a
schedule in the Balkans were those loaded with Swiss goods and belonging
to the Swiss Government. In crossing Southern Hungary we passed at least
half-a-dozen of them, they being readily distinguished by a Swiss flag
painted on each car. Each train, consisting of forty cars, was
accompanied by a Swiss officer and twenty infantrymen--finely set-up
fellows in _feldgrau_ with steel helmets modeled after the German
pattern. Had the trains not been thus guarded, I was told, the goods
would never have reached their destination and the cars, which are the
property of the Swiss State Railways, would never have been returned. It
is by such drastic methods as this that Switzerland, though hard hit by
the war, has kept the wheels of her industries turning and her currency
from serious depreciation. I have rarely seen more hopeless-looking
people than those congregated on the platforms of the little stations at
which we stopped in Hungary. The Rumanian armies had swept the country
clean of livestock and agricultural machinery, throwing thousands of
peasants out of work, and, owing to the appalling depreciation of the
kroner, which was worth less than a twentieth of its normal value, great
numbers of people who, under ordinary conditions, would have been
described as comfortably well off, found themselves with barely
sufficient resources to keep themselves from want. To add to their
discouragement, the greatest uncertainty prevailed as to Hungary's
future. In order to obtain an idea of just how familiar the inhabitants
of the rural districts were with political conditions, I asked four
intelligent-looking men in succession who was the ruler of Hungary and
what was its present form of government. The first opined that the
Archduke Joseph had been chosen king; another ventured the belief that
the country was a republic with Bela Kun as president; the third
asserted that Hungary had been annexed to Rumania; while the last man I
questioned said quite frankly that he didn't know who was running the
country, or what its form of government was, and that he didn't much
care. As a result of the decision of the Peace Conference which awarded
Transylvania to Rumania and divided the Banat between Rumania and
Jugoslavia, Hungary finds herself stripped of virtually all her forests,
all her mines, all her oil wells, and all of her manufactories save
those in Budapest, thus stripping the bankrupt and demoralized nation of
practically all of her resources save her wheat-fields. I talked with a
number of Americans and English who were conversant with Hungary's
internal condition and they agreed that it was doubtful if the country,
stripped of its richest territories, deprived of most of its resources,
and hemmed in by hostile and jealous peoples, could long exist as an
independent state. On several occasions I heard the opinion expressed
that sooner or later the Hungarians, in order to save themselves from
complete ruin, would ask to be admitted to the Jugoslav Confederation,
thereby obtaining for their products an outlet to the sea. In any
event, the Hungarians appear to have a more friendly feeling for their
Jugoslav neighbors than for the Rumanians, whom they charge with a
deliberate attempt to bring about their economic ruin.

In spite of the prohibitive cost of labor and materials, we found that
the traces of the Austrian bombardment of Belgrade in 1914, which did
enormous damage to the Serbian capital, were rapidly being effaced and
that the city was fast resuming its pre-war appearance. The place was as
busy as a boom town in the oil country. The Grand Hotel, where the food
was the best and cheapest we found in the Balkans, was filled to the
doors with officers, politicians, members of parliament--for the
Skupshtina was in session--relief workers, commercial travelers and
concession seekers, and the huge Hotel Moskowa, built, I believe, with
Russian capital, was about to reopen. Architecturally, Belgrade shows
many traces of Muscovite influence, many of the more important buildings
having the ornate facades of pink, green and purple tiles, the colored
glass windows, and the gilded domes which are so characteristically
Russian. Though the main thoroughfare of the city, formerly called the
Terasia but now known as Milan Street, is admirably paved with wooden
blocks, the cobble pavements of the other streets have remained
unchanged since the days of Turkish rule, being so rough that it is
almost impossible to drive a motor car over them without imminent danger
of breaking the springs. Five minutes' walk from the center of the city,
on a promontory commanding a superb view of the Danube and its junction
with the Save, is a really charming park known as the Slopes of
Dreaming, where, on fine evenings, almost the entire population of the
capital appears to be promenading, the rather drab appearance of an
urban crowd being brightened by the gaily embroidered costumes of the
peasants and the silver-trimmed uniforms of the Serbian officers.

The palace known as the Old Konak, where King Alexander and Queen Draga
were assassinated under peculiarly revolting circumstances on the night
of June 11, 1905, and from an upper window of which their mutilated
bodies were thrown into the garden, has been torn down, presumably
because of its unpleasant associations for the present dynasty, but
only a stone's throw away from the tragic spot is being erected a large
and ornate palace of gray stone, ornamented with numerous carvings, as a
residence for Prince-Regent Alexander, who, when I was there, was
occupying a modest one-story building on the opposite side of the
street. By far the most interesting building in Belgrade, however, is a
low, tile-roofed, white-walled wine-shop at the corner of Knes
Mihajelowa Uliza and Kolartsch Uliza, which is pointed out to visitors
as "the Cradle of the War," for in the low-ceilinged room on the second
floor is said to have been hatched the plot which resulted in the
assassination of the Austrian archducal couple at Serajevo in the spring
of 1914 and thereby precipitated Armageddon.

[Illustration: THE WINE-SHOP WHICH IS POINTED OUT TO VISITORS AS "THE
CRADLE OF THE WAR"]

In this connection, here is a story, told me by a Czechoslovak who had
served as an officer in the Serbian army during the war, which throws an
interesting sidelight on the tragedy of Serajevo. This officer's uncle,
a colonel in the Austrian army, had been, it seemed, equerry to the
Archduke Ferdinand, being in attendance on the Archduke at the Imperial
shooting-lodge in Bohemia when, early in the spring of 1914, the
German Emperor, accompanied by Admiral von Tirpitz, went there,
ostensibly for the shooting. The day after their arrival, according to
my informant's story, the Emperor and the Archduke went out with the
guns, leaving Admiral von Tirpitz at the lodge with the Archduchess. The
equerry, who was on duty in an anteroom, through a partly opened door
overheard the Admiral urging the Archduchess to obtain the consent of
her husband--with whom she was known to exert extraordinary
influence--to a union of Austria-Hungary with Germany upon the death of
Francis Joseph, who was then believed to be dying--a scheme which had
long been cherished by the Kaiser and the Pan-Germans.

"Never will I lend my influence to such a plan!" the equerry heard the
Archduchess violently exclaim. "Never! Never! Never!"

At the moment the Emperor and the Archduke, having returned from their
battue, entered the room, whereupon the Archduchess, her voice shrill
with indignation, poured out to her husband the story of von Tirpitz's
proposal. The Archduke, always noted for the violence of his temper,
promptly sided with his wife, angrily accusing the Kaiser of intriguing
behind his back against the independence of Austria. Ensued a violent
altercation between the ruler of Germany and the Austrian heir-apparent,
which ended in the Kaiser and his adviser abruptly terminating their
visit and departing the same evening for Berlin.

For the truth of this story I do not vouch; I merely repeat it in the
words in which it was told to me by an officer whose veracity I have no
reason to question. There are many things which point to its
probability. Certain it is that the Archduke, who was a man of strong
character and passionately devoted to the best interests of the Dual
Monarchy, was the greatest obstacle to the Kaiser's scheme for the union
of the two empires under his rule, a scheme which, could it have been
realized, would have given Germany that highroad to the East and that
outlet to the Warm Water of which the Pan-Germans had long dreamed. The
assassination of the Archduke a few weeks later not only removed the
greatest stumbling-block to these schemes of Teutonic expansion, but it
further served the Kaiser's purpose by forcing Austria into war with
Serbia, thereby making Austria responsible, in the eyes of the world,
for launching the conflict which the Kaiser had planned.

There has never been any conclusive proof, remember, that the Serbs were
responsible for Ferdinand's assasination. Not that there is anything in
their history which would lead one to believe that they would balk at
that method of removing an enemy, but, regarded from a political
standpoint, it would have been the most unintelligent and short-sighted
thing they could possibly have done. Nor are the Serbs and the
Pan-Germans the only ones to whom the crime might logically be traced.
Ferdinand, remember, had many enemies within the borders of his own
country. The Austrian anti-clericals hated and distrusted him because he
surrounded himself by Jesuit advisers and because he was believed to be
unduly under the influence of the Church of Rome. He was equally
unpopular with a large and powerful element of the Hungarians, who
foresaw a serious diminution of their influence in the affairs of the
monarchy should the Archduke succeed in realizing his dream of a Triple
Kingdom composed of Austria, Hungary and the Southern Slavs.

Strange indeed are the changes which have been brought about by the
greatest conflict. Ferdinand, descendant of a long line of princes,
kings and emperors, has passed round that dark corner whence no man
returns, but his ambitious dreams of a triple kingdom which would
include the Southern Slavs have survived him, though in a somewhat
modified form. But he who sits on the throne of the new kingdom, and who
rules to-day over a great portion of the former dominions of the
Hapsburgs, instead of being a scion of the Imperial House of Austria, is
the great-grandson of a Serbian blacksmith.

Owing to the ill-health and advanced age of King Peter of Serbia, his
second son, Alexander, is Prince-Regent of the Kingdom of the Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes. Prince Alexander, a slender, dark-complexioned man
with characteristically Slav features, was educated in Vienna and is
said to be an excellent soldier. He is extremely democratic, simple in
manner, a student, a hard worker, and devoted to the best interests of
his people. Though he is an accomplished horseman, a daring, even
reckless motorist, and an excellent shot, he is probably the loneliest
man in his kingdom, for he has no close associates of his own age, being
surrounded by elderly and serious-minded advisers; his aged father is in
a sanitarium, his scapegrace elder brother lives in Paris, and his
sister, a Russian grand duchess, makes her home on the Riviera. Though
old beyond his years and visibly burdened by the responsibilities of his
difficult position, he possesses a peculiarly winning manner and is
immensely popular with his soldiers, whose hardships he shared
throughout the war. Though he enjoys no great measure of popularity
among his new Croat and Slovene subjects, who might be expected to
regard any Serb ruler with a certain degree of jealousy and suspicion,
he has unquestionably won their profound respect. It is a difficult and
trying position which this young man occupies, and it is not made any
easier for him, I imagine, by the knowledge that, should he make a false
step, should he arouse the enmity of certain of the powerful factions
which surround him, the fate of his predecessor and namesake, King
Alexander, might quite conceivably befall him.

I have been asked if, in my opinion, the peoples composing the new state
of Jugoslavia will stick together. If there could be effected a
confederation, modeled on that of Switzerland or the United States, in
which the component states would have equal representation, with the
executive power vested in a Federal Council, as in Switzerland, then I
believe that Jugoslavia would develop into a stable and prosperous
nation. But I very much doubt if the Croats, the Slovenes, the Bosnians
and the Montenegrins will willingly consent to a permanent arrangement
whereby the new nation is placed under a Serbian dynasty, no matter how
complete are the safeguards afforded by the constitution or how
conscientious and fair-minded the sovereign himself may be. No one
questions the ability or the honesty of purpose of Prince Alexander, but
the non-Serb elements feel, and not wholly without justification, that a
Serbian prince on the throne means Serbian politicians in places of
authority, thereby giving Serbia a disproportionate share of authority
in the government of Jugoslavia, as Prussia had in the government of the
German Empire.

Already there have been manifestations of friction between the Serbs and
the Croats and between the Serbs and the Slovenes, to say nothing of the
open hostility which exists between the Serbs and certain Montenegrin
factions, to which I have alluded in a preceding chapter. It should be
remembered that the Croats and Slovenes, though members of the great
family of Southern Slavs, have by no means as much in common with their
Serb kinsmen as is generally believed. Croatia and Slovenia have both
educated and wealthy classes. Serbia, on the contrary, has a very small
educated class and practically no wealthy class, it being said that
there is not a millionaire in the country. Slovenia and Croatia each
have their aristocracies, with titles and estates and traditions;
Serbia's population is wholly composed of peasants, or of business and
professional men who come from peasant stock. As a result of the large
sums which were spent on public instruction in Croatia and Slovenia
under Austrian rule, only a comparatively small proportion of the
population is illiterate. But in Serbia public education is still in a
regrettably backward state, the latest figures available showing that
less than seventeen per cent. of the population can read and write, a
condition which, I doubt not, will rapidly improve with the
reestablishment of peace. Laibach (now known as Lubiana), the chief city
of Croatia, Agram, in Slovenia, and Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia,
have long been known as education centers, possessing a culture and
educational facilities of which far larger cities would have reason to
be proud. But Belgrade, having been, as it were, on the frontier of
European civilization, has been compelled to concentrate its energies
and its resources on commerce and the national defense. The attitude of
the people of Agram toward the less sophisticated and cultured Serbs
might be compared to that of an educated Bostonian toward an Arizona
ranchman--a worthy, industrious fellow, no doubt, but rather lacking in
culture and refinement. The truth of the matter is that the Croats and
the Slovenes, though only too glad to escape the Allies' wrath by
claiming kinship with the Serbs and taking refuge under the banner of
Jugoslavia, at heart consider themselves immeasurably superior to their
southern kinsmen, whose political dictation, now that the storm has
passed, they are beginning to resent.

The first impression which the Serb makes upon a stranger is rarely a
favorable one. As an American diplomat, who is a sincere friend of
Serbia, remarked to me, "The Serb has neither manner nor manners. The
visitor always sees his worst side while his best side remains hidden.
He never puts his best foot forward."

A certain sullen defiance of public opinion is, it has sometimes seemed
to me, a characteristic of the Serb. He gives one the impression of
constantly carrying a chip on his shoulder and daring any one to knock
it off. He is always eager for an argument, but, like so many
argumentative persons, it is almost impossible to convince him that he
is in the wrong. The slightest opposition often drives him into an
almost childlike rage and if things go against him he is apt to charge
his opponent with insincerity or prejudice. He can see things only one
way, _his_ way and he resents criticism so violently that it is seldom
wise to argue with him.

Though the Serb, when afforded opportunities for education, usually
shows great brilliancy as a student and often climbs high in his chosen
profession, he all too frequently lacks the mental poise and the power
of restraining his passions which are the heritage of those peoples who
have been educated for generations.

In Serbia, as in the other Balkan states, it is the peasants who form
the most substantial and likeable element of the population. The Serbian
peasant is simple, kindly, honest, and hospitable, and, though he could
not be described with strict truthfulness as a hard worker, his wife
invariably is. Although, like most primitive peoples, he is suspicious
of strangers, once he is assured that they are friends there is no
sacrifice that he will not make for their comfort, going cold and
hungry, if necessary, in order that they may have his blanket and his
food. He is one of the very best soldiers in Europe, somewhat careless
in dress, drill and discipline, perhaps, but a good shot, a tireless
marcher, inured to every form of hardship, and invariably cheerful and
uncomplaining. Perhaps it is his instinctive love of soldiering which
makes him so reluctant to lay down the rifle and take up the hoe. He
has fought three victorious wars in rapid succession and he has come to
believe that his metier is fighting. In this he is tacitly encouraged by
France, who sees in an armed and ready-to-fight-at-the-drop-of-the-hat
Jugoslavia a counterbalance to Italian ambitions in the Balkans.

Though there are irresponsible elements in both Jugoslavia and Italy who
talk lightly of war, I am convinced that the great bulk of the
population in both countries realize that such a war would be the height
of shortsightedness and folly. Throughout the Fiume and Dalmatian crises
precipitated by d'Annunzio, Jugoslavia behaved with exemplary patience,
dignity and discretion. Let her future foreign relations continue to be
characterized by such self-control; let her turn her energies to
developing the vast territories to which she has so unexpectedly fallen
heir; let her take immediate steps toward inaugurating systems of
transportation, public instruction and sanitation; let her waste no time
in ridding herself of her jingo politicians and officers--let Jugoslavia
do these things and her future will take care of itself. She is a young
country, remember. Let us be charitable in judging her.





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