Infomotions, Inc.The World Decision / Herrick, Robert, 1868-1938



Author: Herrick, Robert, 1868-1938
Title: The World Decision
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
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THE WORLD DECISION

BY

ROBERT HERRICK







CONTENTS


_PART ONE--ITALY_

  I.  ITALY HESITATES

 II.  THE POLITICIAN SPEAKS

III.  THE POET SPEAKS

 IV.  THE PIAZZA SPEAKS

  V.  ITALY DECIDES

 VI.  THE EVE OF THE WAR


_PART TWO--FRANCE_

  I.  THE FACE OF PARIS

 II.  THE WOUNDS OF FRANCE

III.  THE BARBARIAN

 IV.  THE GERMAN LESSON

  V.  THE FAITH OF THE FRENCH

 VI.  THE NEW FRANCE


_PART THREE--AMERICA_

  I.  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO US?

 II.  THE CHOICE

III.  PEACE




THE WORLD DECISION


PART ONE--ITALY


I


_Italy Hesitates_

Last April, when I left New York for Europe, Italy was "on the verge"
of entering the great war. According to the meager reports that a strict
censorship permitted to reach the world, Italy had been hesitating for
many months between a continuance of her precarious neutrality and joining
with the Allies, with an intermittent war fever in her pulses. It was
known that she was buying supplies for her ill-equipped army--boots and
food and arms. Nevertheless, American opinion had come to the somewhat
cynical belief that Italy would never get further than the verge of war;
that her Austrian ally would be induced by the pressure of necessity to
concede enough of those "national aspirations," of which we had heard
much, to keep her southern neighbor at least lukewarmly neutral until
the conclusion of the war. An American diplomat in Italy, with the best
opportunity for close observation, said, as late as the middle of May:
"I shall believe that Italy will go into the war only when I see it!"

The process of squeezing her Austrian ally when the latter was in a
tight place--as Italy's negotiating was interpreted commonly in
America--naturally aroused little enthusiasm for the nation, and when
suddenly, during the stormy weeks of mid-May, Italy made her decision
and broke with Austria, Americans inferred, erroneously, that her
"sordid" bargaining having met with a stubborn resistance from Vienna,
there was nothing left for a government that had spent millions in war
preparation but to declare war. The affair had that surface appearance,
which was noisily proclaimed by Germany to the world. Chancellor
Bethmann-Hollweg's sneer concerning the "voice of the piazza having
prevailed" revealed not merely pique, but also a complete
misunderstanding, a Teutonic misapprehension of the underlying motives
that led to an inevitable step. No one who witnessed, as I did at close
range, the swift unfolding of the drama which ended on May 23 in a
declaration of war, can accept such a base or trivial reading of the
matter. Like all things human the psychology of Italy's action was
complex, woven in an intricate pattern, nevertheless at its base simple
and inevitable, granted the fundamental racial postulates. Old impulses
stirred in the Italians as well as new. Italy repeated according to the
modern formula the ancient defiance by her Roman forefathers of the
Teutonic danger. _"Fuori i barbari"_--out with the barbarians--has lain
in the blood of Italy for two thousand years, to be roused to a fresh
heat of hate by outraged Belgium, by invaded France, by the Lusitania
murders. Less conscious, perhaps, but not less mighty as a moving force
than this personal antagonism was the spiritual antagonism between the
Latin and the German, between the two visions of the world which the
German and the Latin imagine and seek to perpetuate. That in a large and
very real sense this world agony of war is the supreme struggle between
these two opposed traditions of civilization--a decision between two
competing forms of life--seems to me so obvious as to need no argument.
In such a struggle Italy must, by compulsion of historical tradition as
well as of political situation, take her part on the side of those who
from one angle or another are upholding with their lives the inheritance
of Rome against the pretensions of force--law, justice, mercy, beauty
against the dead weight of physical and material strength.

       *       *       *       *       *

One had no more than put foot on the quay at Naples before the atmosphere
of fateful hesitation in which Italy had lived for eight months became
evident to the senses of the traveler. Naples was less strident, less
vocal than ever before. That mob of hungry Neapolitans, which usually
seizes violent hold of the stranger and his effects, was thin and
spiritless. Naples was almost quiet. The Santa Lucia was deserted; the
line of pretentious hotels with drawn shutters had the air of a summer
resort out of season. The war had cut off Italy's greatest source of ready
money--the idler. Naples was living to itself a subdued, zestless life.
Cook's was an empty inutility. The sunny slopes of Sorrento, where during
the last generation the German has established himself in all favorable
sites, were thick with signs of sale.

In other respects there were indications of prosperity--more building,
cleaner streets, better shops. In the dozen years since I had been there,
Italy had undoubtedly prospered, and even this beggar's paradise of sun
and tourists had bettered itself after the modern way. I saw abundant
signs of the new Italy of industrial expansion, which under German
tutelage had begun to manufacture, to own ships, and to exploit itself.
And there were also signs of war-time bloat--the immense cotton business.
Naples as well as Genoa was stuffed with American cotton, the quays piled
with the bales that could not be got into warehouses. It took a large
credulity to believe that all this cotton was to satisfy Italian wants.
Cotton, as everybody knew, was going across the Alps by the trainload.
Nevertheless, our ship, which had a goodly amount of the stuff, was held
at Gibraltar only a day until the English Government decided to accept
the guarantees of consul and Italian Ambassador that it was legitimately
destined for Italian factories--a straw indicating England's perplexity
in the cotton business, especially with a nation that might any day become
an ally! It would be wiser to let a little more cotton leak into Germany
through Switzerland than to agitate the question of contraband at this
delicate moment.

The cotton brokers, the grain merchants, and a few others were making
money out of Italy's neutrality, and _neutralista_ sentiment was
naturally strong among these classes and their satellites. No doubt
they did their best to give an impression of nationalism to the creed
of their pockets. But a serious-minded merchant from Milan who dined
opposite me on the way to Rome expressed the prevailing beliefs of his
class as well as any one,--"War, yes, in time.... It must come.... But
first we must be ready--we are not quite ready yet"; and he predicted
almost to a day when Italy, finding herself ready, would enter the great
conflict. He showed no enthusiasm either for or against war: his was a
curiously fatalistic attitude of mind, an acceptance of the inevitable,
which the American finds so hard to understand.

       *       *       *       *       *

And this was the prevailing note of Rome those early days of May--a
dull, passive acceptance of the dreaded fate which had been threatening
for so many months on the national horizon, ever since Austria plumped
her brutal ultimatum upon little Serbia. There were no vivid debates,
no pronounced current of opinion one way or the other, not much public
interest in the prolonged discussions at the Consulta; just a lethargic
iteration of the belief that sooner or later war must come with its
terrible risks, its dubious victories. Given the Italian temperament
and the nearness of the brink toward which the country was drifting,
one looked for flashes of fire. But Rome, if more normal in its daily
life than Naples in spite of the absence of those tourists who gather
here at this season by the tens of thousands, was equally acquiescent
and on the surface uninterested in the event.

The explanation of this outward apathy in the public is simple: nobody
knew anything definite enough as yet to rouse passions. The Italian
newspaper is probably the emptiest receptacle of news published
anywhere. The journals are all personal "organs," and anybody can know
whose "views" they are voicing. There was the "Messagero," subsidized by
the French and the English embassies, which emitted cheerful pro-Ally
paragraphs of gossip. There was the "Vittorio," founded by the German
party, patently the mouthpiece of Teutonic diplomacy. There was the
"Giornale d'Italia" that spoke for the Vatican, and the "Idea Nazionale"
which voiced radical young Italy. And so on down the list. But there was
a perfectly applied censorship which suppressed all diplomatic leaks. So
one read with perfect confidence that Prince von Buelow had driven to the
Consulta at eleven-fifteen yesterday, and having been closeted with Baron
Sonnino, the Italian Foreign Minister, or with the Premier, Signor
Salandra, or with both, for forty-seven minutes, had emerged upon the
street smiling. And shortly after this event Baron Macchio, the Austrian
Envoy, arrived at the Consulta in his motor-car and had spent within the
mystery of the Foreign Office twenty or more minutes. The reader might
insert any fatal interpretation he liked between the lines of this
chronicle. That was quite all the reality the Roman public, the people
of Italy, had to speculate upon during weeks of waiting, and for the most
part they waited quietly, patiently. For whatever the American prejudice
against the dangers of secret diplomacy may be, the European, especially
the Italian, idea is that all grave negotiations should be conducted
privately--that the diplomatic cake should be composed by experts in
retirement until it is ready for the baking. And the European public
is well trained in controlling its curiosities.

It was sufficiently astonishing to the American onlooker, however,
accustomed to flaming extras and the plethoric discussion in public of the
most intimate affairs, state and personal, to witness the acquiescence of
emotional Italians in this complete obscurity about their fate and that of
their children and their nation, which was being sorted behind the closed
doors of the Consulta. Every one seemed to go about his personal business
with an apparent calm, a shrug of expressive shoulders at the most,
signifying belief in the sureness of war--soon. There was little animation
in the cafes, practically none on the streets. Arragno's, usually buzzing
with political prophecy, had a depressing, provincial calm. Unoccupied
deputies sat in gloomy silence over their thin _consommations_. Even the
1st of May passed without that demonstration by the Socialists against war
so widely expected. To be sure, the Government had prudently packed Rome
and the northern cities with troops: soldiers were lurking in every old
courtyard, up all the narrow alleys, waiting for some hardy Socialist to
"demonstrate." But it was not the plentiful troops, not even a lively
thunderstorm that swept Rome all the afternoon, which discouraged the
Socialists: they too were in doubt and apathy. They were hesitating,
passing resolutions, defining themselves into fine segments of political
opinion--and waiting for Somebody to act! They too awaited the completion
of those endless discussions among the diplomats at the Consulta, at the
Ballplatz in Vienna, and wherever diplomacy is made in Berlin. The first
of May came and went, and the _carabinieri_, the secret police, the
infantry, the cavalry with their fierce hairy helmets filed off to their
barracks in a dripping dusk, dispirited, as if disappointed themselves
that nothing definite, even violence, had yet come out of the business. So
one caught a belated cab and scurried through the deserted streets to an
empty hotel on the Pincian, more than half convinced that the Government
meant really to do nothing except "negotiate" until the spirit of war had
died from the hearts of the people.

Yet much was going on beneath the surface. There were flashes to be
seen in broad daylight. The King and his ministers at the eleventh hour
decided not to attend the ceremonies at Quarto of the unveiling of the
monument to the Garibaldian "Thousand." Now, what could that mean? Did
it indicate that the King was not yet ready to choose his road and feared
to compromise himself by appearing in company with the Francophile poet
D'Annunzio, who was to give the address? It would be a hard matter to
explain to Berlin, to whose nostrils the poet was anathema. Or did it
mean literally that the negotiations with reluctant Austria had reached
that acute point which might not permit the absence of authority from Rome
even for twenty-four hours? The drifting, if it were drifting, was more
rapid, day by day.

There was a constant troop movement all over Italy, which could not be
disguised from anybody who went to a railroad station. Italy was not
"mobilizing," but that term in this year of war has come to have a
diplomatic insignificance. Every one knew that a large army had already
gone north toward the disputed frontier. More soldiers were going every
day, and more men of the younger sort were silently disappearing from
their ordinary occupations, as the way is in conscript countries. It was
all being done admirably, swiftly, quietly--no placards. The _carabinieri_
went from house to house and delivered verbal orders. But all this might
be a mere "preparation," an argument that could not be used diplomatically
at the Consulta, yet of vital force.

There was the sudden twenty-four-hour visit of the Italian Ambassador
at Paris to Rome. Why had he taken that long journey home for such a
brief visit, consumed in conferences with the ministers? And Prince von
Buelow had rallied to his assistance the Catholic Deputy Erzburger. Rome
was seething with rumor.

       *       *       *       *       *

The remarkable passivity of the Italian public during these anxious
moments was due in good part, no doubt, to its thorough confidence in
the men who were directing the state, specifically in the Prime Minister
Salandra and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Baron Sonnino, who were the
Government. They were honest,--that everybody admitted,--and they were
experienced. In less troubled times the nation might prefer the popular
politician Giolitti, who had a large majority of the deputies in the
Parliament in his party, and who had presented Italy a couple of years
earlier with its newest plaything, Libya,--and concealed the bills. But
Giolitti had prudently retired to his little Piedmont home in Cavour. All
the winter he had kept out of Rome, leaving the Salandra Government to
work out a solution of the knotty tangle in which he had helped to involve
his country. Nobody knew precisely what Giolitti's views were, but it was
generally accepted that he preserved the tradition of the Crispi
statesmanship, which had made the abortion of the Triple Alliance. If he
could not openly champion an active fulfillment of the alliance, at least
he was avowedly _neutralista_, the best that Berlin and Vienna had come to
hope from their southern ally. He was the great unknown factor politically,
with his majority in the Chamber, his personal prestige. A clever American,
long resident in Rome in sufficient intimacy with the political powers to
make his words significant, told me,--"The country does not know what it
wants. But Giolitti will tell them. When he comes we shall know whether
there will be war!" That was May 9--a Sunday. Giolitti arrived in Rome
the same week--and we knew, but not as the political prophet thought....

Meanwhile, there were mutterings of the thunder to come out of this
stagnant hesitation. One day I went out to the little town of Genzano
in the Alban Hills, with an Italian mother who wished to see her son
in garrison there. The regiment of Sardinian _Granatieri_, ordinarily
stationed near the King in Rome, had been sent to this dirty little
hill town to keep order. The populace were so threatening in their
attitude that the soldiers were confined in their quarters to prevent
street rows. We could see their heads at the windows of the old houses
and convents where they were billeted, like schoolboys in durance vile.
I read the word "_Socilismo_" scrawled in chalk over the walls and
half-effaced by the hand of authority. The hard faces of the townsfolk
scowled at us while we talked with a young captain. The Genzanans were
against the war, the officer said, and stoned the soldiers. They did not
want another African jaunt, with more taxes and fewer men to till the
fields.

Elsewhere one heard that the "populace" generally was opposed to war.
"We shall have to shoot up some hundreds of the rats in Florence before
the troops leave," the youthful son of a prefect told me. That in the
North. As for the South, a shrug of the shoulders expressed the national
doubt of Calabria, Sicily,--the weaker, less certain members of the
family. Remembering the dire destruction of the earthquake in the Abruzzi,
which wrought more ruin to more people than the Messina catastrophe, also
the floods that had destroyed crops in the fertile river bottoms a few
weeks before, one could understand popular opposition to more dangers and
more taxes. These were some of the perplexities that beset the Government.
No wonder that the diplomats were weighing their words cautiously at the
Consulta, also weighing with extreme fineness the _quid pro quo_ they
would accept as "compensation" from Austria for upsetting the Balkan
situation. It was, indeed, a delicate matter to decide how many of those
national aspirations might be sacrificed for the sake of present security
without jeopardizing the nation's future. Italy needed the wisdom of
patriots if ever in her history.

The Salandra Government kept admirable order during these dangerous
days, suppressing the slightest popular movement, pro or con. That was
the wise way, until they knew themselves which road to take and had
prepared the public mind. And they had plenty of troops to be occupied
somehow. The exercise of the firm hand of authority against popular
ebullitions is always a marvel to the American. To the European mind
government means power, and power is exercised practically, concretely,
not by writs of courts and sheriffs, but by armed troops. The Salandra
Government had the power, and apparently did not mean to have its hand
forced by the populace....

The young officer at Genzano had no doubt that war was coming, nor
had the handsome boy whom we at last ran to ground in an old Franciscan
convent. He talked eagerly of the "promise" his regiment had received "to
go first." His mother's face contracted with a spasm of pain as he spoke,
but like a Latin mother she made no protest. If his country needed him,
if war had to be.... On our way back to Rome across the Campagna we saw a
huge silver fish swimming lazily in the misty blue sky--one of Italy's new
dirigibles exercising. There were soldiers everywhere in their new gray
linen clothes--tanned, boyish faces, many of them fine large fellows,
scooped up from villages and towns all over Italy. The night was broken
by the sound of marching feet, for troop movements were usually made at
night. The soldiers were going north by the trainload. Each day one saw
more of them in the streets, coming and going. Yet Baron Macchio and
Prince von Buelow were as busy as ever at the Consulta on the Quirinal
Hill, and rumor said that at last they were offering real "compensations."

       *       *       *       *       *

The shops of Rome, as those of every city and town in Europe, were
hung with war maps, of course. In Rome the prevailing map was that highly
colored, imaginative rearrangement of southern Europe to fit the national
aspirations. The new frontier ran along the summits of the Alps and took
a wide swath down the Adriatic coast. It was a most flattering prospect
and lured many loiterers to the shop windows. At the office of the
"Giornale d'Italia" in the Corso there was displayed beside an irredentist
map an approximate sketch of what Austria was willing to give, under
German persuasion. The discrepancy between the two maps was obvious and
vast. On the bulletin boards there were many news items emanating from the
"unredeemed" in Trent and Trieste, chronicling riots and the severely
repressive measures taken by the Austrian masters. The little piazza in
front of the newspaper office was thronged from morning to night, and the
old woman in the kiosk beside the door did a large business in maps.

And yet this aspect of the Italian situation seems to me to have been
much exaggerated. There was, so far as I could see, no great popular
fervor over the disinherited Italians in Austrian lands, in spite of the
hectic items about Austrian tyranny appearing daily in the newspapers--no
great popular agony of mind over these "unredeemed." Also it was obvious
that Italy in her new frontier proposed to include quite as many
unredeemed Austrians and other folk as redeemed Italians! No; it was
rather a high point of propaganda--as we should say commercially, a good
talking proposition. Deeper, it represented the urge of nationalism,
which is one of the extraordinary phenomena of this remarkable war. The
American, vague in his feeling of nationalism, refuses to take quite
seriously agitation for the "unredeemed." Why, he asks with naivete, go
to war for a few thousands of Italians in Trent and Trieste?

I am not attempting to write history. I am guessing like another,
seeking causes in a complex state of mind. We shall have to go back.
Secret diplomacy may be the inveterate habit of Europe, especially of
Italy. The new arrangement with the Allies has never been published,
probably never will be. One suspects that it was made, essentially, before
Italy had broken with Austria, before, perhaps, she had denounced her old
alliance on the 5th of May at Vienna. And yet, although inveterately
habituated to the mediaevalism of secret international arrangements, Italy
is enough filled with the spirit of modern democracy to break any treaty
that does not fulfill the will of the people. The Triple Alliance was
really doomed at its conception, because it was a trade made by a few
politicians and diplomats in secret and never known in its terms to the
people who were bound by it. Any strain would break such a bond. The
strain was always latent, but it became acute of late years, especially
when Austria thwarted Italy's move on Turkey--as Salandra revealed later
under the sting of Bethmann-Hollweg's taunts. It was badly strained,
virtually broken, when Austria without warning to Italy stabbed at Serbia.
Austria made a grave blunder there, in not observing the first term of the
Triple Alliance, by which she was bound to take her allies into
consultation. The insolence of the Austrian attitude was betrayed in the
disregard of this obligation: Italy evidently was too unimportant a factor
to be precise with. Italy might, then and there, the 1st of August, 1914,
very well have denounced the Alliance, and perhaps would have done so had
she been prepared for the consequences, had the Salandra Government been
then at the helm.

There is another coil to the affair, not generally recognized in America.
Austria in striking at Serbia was potentially aiming at a closer
envelopment of Italy along the Adriatic, provision for which had been made
in a special article of the Triple Alliance,--the seventh,--under which
she had bound herself to grant compensations to Italy for any disturbance
of the Balkan situation. Austria, when she was brought to recognize this
commission of fault,--which was not until December, 1914, not seriously
until the close of January, 1915,--pretended that her blow at Serbia was
chastisement, not occupation. But it is absurd to assume that having
chastised the little Balkan state she would leave it free and independent.
It is true that in January Austrian troops were no longer in Balkan
territory, but that was not due to intention or desire! They had been
there, they are there now, and they will be there as long as the Teutonic
arms prevail. It is a game of chess: Italy knew the gambit as soon as
Austria moved against Serbia. The response she must have known also, but
she had not the power to move then. So she insisted pertinaciously on her
right under the seventh clause of the Triple Alliance to open negotiations
for "compensations" for Austria's aggression in the Balkans, and finally
with the assistance of Berlin compelled the reluctant Emperor to admit her
right.

These complexities of international chess, which the American mind
never seems able to grasp, are instinctively known by the man in the
street in Europe. Every one has learned the gambits: they do not have
to be explained, nor their importance demonstrated. The American can
profitably study those maps so liberally displayed in shop windows,
as I studied them for hours in default of anything better to do in
the drifting days of early May. The maps will show at a glance that
Italy's northern frontiers are so ingeniously drawn--by her hereditary
enemy--that her head is virtually in chancery, as every Italian knows
and as the whole world has now realized after four months of patient
picking by Italian troops at the outer set of Austrian locks. And there
is the Adriatic. When Austria made the frontier, the sea-power question
was not as important as it has since become. The east coast of the
Adriatic was a wild hinterland that might be left to the rude peoples
of Montenegro and Albania. But it has come into the world since then.
Add to this that the Italian shore of the Adriatic is notably without
good harbors and indefensible, and one has all the elements of the
strategic situation. All fears would be superfluous if Austria, the old
bully at the north, would keep quiet: the Triple Alliance served well
enough for over thirty years. But would Austria play fair with an
unsympathetic ally that she had not taken into her confidence when
she determined to violate the first term of the Triple Alliance?

All this may now be pondered in the "Green Book," more briefly and
cogently in the admirable statement which Italy made to the Powers when
she declared war on Austria. That the Italian Government was not only
within its treaty rights in demanding those "compensations" from Austria,
but would have been craven to pass the incident of the attack on Serbia
without notice, seems to me clear. That it was a real necessity, not a
mere trading question, for Italy to secure a stronger frontier and control
of the Adriatic, seems to me equally obvious. These, I take it, were the
vital considerations, not the situation of the "unredeemed" Italians in
Trent and Trieste. But Austria, in that grudging maximum of concession
which she finally offered to Italy's minimum of demand, insisted upon
taking the sentimental or knavish view of the Italian attitude: she would
yield the more Italianated parts of the territory in dispute, not the
vitally strategic places. Nor would she deliver her concessions until
after the conclusion of the war--if ever!--after she had got what use
there was from the Italians enrolled in her armies fighting Russia. For
Vienna to regard the tender principle of nationalism is a good enough
joke, as we say. Her persistence in considering Italy's demands as either
greed or sentiment is proof of Teutonic lack of imagination. The Italians
are sentimental, but they are even more practical. It was not the woes of
the "unredeemed" that led the Salandra Government to reject the final
offering of Austria, and to accept the risks of war instead. It was rather
the very practical consideration of that indefensible frontier, which
Austria stubbornly refused to make safe for Italy--after she had given
cause, by her attack upon Serbia, to render all her neighbors uneasy in
their minds for their safety.

So much for the sentimental and the strategical threads in the Consulta
negotiations. It was neither for sentiment nor for strategical advantage
solely that Italy finally entered the war. Nevertheless, if the German
Powers had frankly and freely from the start recognized Italy's position,
and surrendered to her _immediate_ possession--as they were ready to do
at the last moment--sufficient of those national aspirations to safeguard
national security, with hands off in the Adriatic, Italy most probably
would have preferred to remain neutral. I cannot believe that Salandra
or the King really wanted war. They were sincerely struggling to keep
their nation out of the European melting-pot as long as they could. But
they were both shrewd and patriotic enough not to content themselves with
present security at the price of ultimate danger. And if they had been as
weak as the King of Greece, as subservient as the King of Bulgaria, they
would have had to reckon with a very different people from the Bulgars and
the Greeks--a nation that might quite conceivably have turned Italy into a
republic and ranged her beside her Latin sister on the north in the world
struggle. The path of peace was in no way the path of prudence for the
House of Savoy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lack of imagination is surely one of the prominent characteristics of
the modern German, at least in statecraft. Imagination applied to the
practical matters of daily living is nothing more than the ability to
project one's own personality beneath the skin of another, to look
around at the world through that other person's eyes and to realize
what values the world holds for him. The Prince von Buelow, able diplomat
though they call him, could not look upon the world through Italian
eyes in spite of his Italian wife, his long residence in Rome, his
professed love for Italy. It must have been with his consent if not
by his suggestion that Erzburger, the leader of the Catholic party in
the Reichstag, was sent to Rome at this critical juncture. The German
mind probably said,--"Here is a notable Catholic, political leader of
German Catholics, and so he must be especially agreeable to Italians,
who, as all the world knows, are Catholics." The reasoning of a stupid
child! Outwardly Italy is Catholic, but modern Italy has shown herself
very restive at any papal meddling in national affairs. To have an
alien--one of the "_barbari_"--seat himself at the Vatican and try to
use the papal power in determining the policy of the nation in a matter
of such magnitude, was a fatal blunder of tactless diplomacy. Nor could
Herr Erzburger's presence at the Vatican these tense days be kept secret
from the curious journalists, who lived on such meager items of news. No
more tactful was it for Prince von Buelow to meet the Italian politician
Giolitti at the Palace Hotel on the Pincian. There is no harm in one
gentleman's meeting another in the rooms of a public hotel so respectable
as the Palace, but when the two are playing the international chess
game and one is regarded as an enemy and the other as a possible traitor,
the popular mind is likely to take a heated and prejudiced view of the
small incident. Less obvious to the public, but none the less untactful,
was the manner in which the German Ambassador tried to use his social
connection in Rome, his family relationships in the aristocracy of Italy,
to influence the King and his ministers. He might have taken warning from
the royal speech attributed to the Queen Mother in reply to the Kaiser:
"The House of Savoy rules one at a time." He should have kept away from
the back stairs. He should have known Italy well enough to realize that
the elements of Roman society with which he was affiliated do not
represent either power or public opinion in Italy any more than good
society does in most modern states. Roman aristocracy, like all
aristocracies, whether of blood or of money, is international in its
sympathies, skeptic in its soul. And its influence, in a decisive question
of life and death to the nation, is nil. The Prince von Buelow was wasting
his time with people who could not decide anything. As Salandra said, with
dignified restraint in answer to the vulgar attack upon him made by the
German Chancellor,--"The Prince was a sincere lover of Italy, but he was
ill-advised by persons who no longer had any weight in the nation"--as
his colleague in London seems to have been ill-advised when he assured
his master that Englishmen would not fight under any circumstances! The
trouble with diplomacy would seem to be that its ranks are still recruited
from "the upper classes," whose gifts are social and whose sympathies
reflect the views and the prejudices of a very small element in the
state. Good society in Rome was still out on the Pincian for the afternoon
promenade, was still exchanging calls and dinners these golden spring
days, but its views and sympathies could not count in the enormous complex
of beliefs and emotions that make the mind of a nation in a crisis. Prince
von Buelow's motor was busily running about the narrow streets of old Rome,
the gates of the pretty Villa Malta were hospitably open,--guarded by
_carabinieri_,--but if the German Ambassador had put on an old coat and
strolled through the Trastevere, or had sat at a little marble-topped
table in some obscure cafe, or had traveled second or third class between
Rome and Naples, he might have heard things that would have brought the
negotiations at the Consulta to an abrupter close one way or the other.
For Italy was making up its mind against his master.

       *       *       *       *       *

Rome was very still these hesitant days of early May, Rome was very
beautiful--I have never known her so beautiful! The Pincian, in spite
of its afternoon parade, had the sad air of forced retirement of some
well-to-do family. The Piazza di Spagna basked in its wonted flood
of sunshine with a curious Sabbatical calm. A stray _forestieri_ might
occasionally cross its blazing pavements and dive into Piale's or Cook's,
and a few flower girls brought their irises and big white roses to the
steps, more from habit than for profit surely. The Forum was like a wild,
empty garden, and the Palatine, a melancholy waste of fragments of the
past where an old Garibaldian guard slunk after the stranger, out of
lonesomeness, babbling strangely of that other war in which he had part
and mixing his memories with the tags of history he had been taught to
recite anent the Roman monuments. As I wandered there in the drowse of
bees among the spring blossoms and looked out upon the silent field that
once was the heart of Rome, it was hard to realize that again on this
richly human soil of Italy the fate of its people was to be tested in
the agony of a merciless war, that even now the die was being cast less
than a mile away across the roofs. The soil of Rome is the most deeply
laden in the world with human memories, which somehow exhale a subtle
fragrance that even the most casual stranger cannot escape, that condition
the children of the soil. The roots of the modern Italian run far down
into the mould of ancient things: his distant ancestors have done much
of his political thinking for him, have established in his soul the
conditions of his present dilemma.... I wonder if Prince von Buelow ever
spent a meditative hour looking down on the fragments of the Forum from
the ilex of the Palatine, over the steep ascent of the Capitoline that
leads to the Campidolgio, as far as the grandiose marble pile that fronts
the newer city? Probably not.

       *       *       *       *       *

Germany wanted her place in the sun. She had always wanted it from the
day, two thousand years and more ago, when the first Teuton tribes came
over the Alpine barrier and spread through the sun-kissed fields of
northern Italy. The Italian knows that in his blood. There are two ways
in which to deal with this German lust of another's lands--to kill the
invader or to absorb him. Italy has tried both. It takes a long time to
absorb a race,--hundreds of years,--and precious sacrifices must be made
in the process. No wonder that Italy does not wish to become Germany's
place in the sun! Nor to swallow the modern German.

When the Teuton first crossed the Alpine barrier and poured himself
lustfully out over the fertile plains of northern Italy, it was literally
a place in the sun which he coveted. In the ages since then his lust has
changed its form: now it is economic privilege that he seeks for his
people. In order to maintain that level of industrial superiority, of
material prosperity, to which he has raised himself, he must "expand"
in trade and influence. He must have more markets to exploit and always
more. It is the same lust with a new name. "Thou shalt not covet" surely
was written for nations as well as for individuals. But our modern
economic theory, the modern Teutonic state, is based on the belief: "Thou
shalt covet, and the race that covets most and by power gets most, that
race shall survive!" And here is the central knot of the whole dark
tangle.  The German coveting greater economic opportunities, knowing
himself strong to survive, believes in his divine right to possess. It
is conscious Darwinism--the survival of the fittest, materially, which
he is applying to the world--Darwinism accelerated by an intelligent will.
And the non-Germanic world--the Latin world, for it _is_ a Latin world in
varying degrees of saturation outside of Germany--rejects the theory and
the practice with loathing--when it sees what it means.

       *       *       *       *       *

What makes for the happiness of a nation? I asked myself in the mellow
silence of ancient Rome. Is it true that economic conquest makes for
strength, happiness, survival for the nation or for the individual?

This Italy has always been poor, at least within modern memory--a literal,
actual poverty when often there has not been enough to eat in the family
pot to go around. She has had a difficult time in the economic race for
bread and butter for her children. There is neither sufficient land easily
cultivable nor manufacturing resources to make her rich, to support her
growing population according to the modern standards of comfort. The
Germans despise the Italians for their little having.

Yet the Italian peasant--man, woman, or child--is a strong human being,
inured to meager living and hardship, loving the soil from which he digs
his living with an intense, fiery love. And poverty has not killed the
joy of living in the Italian. Far from it! In spite of the exceedingly
laborious lives which the majority lead, the privations in food, clothing,
housing, the narrowness,--in the modern view,--of their lives, no one
could consider the Italian people unhappy. Their characters, like their
hillside farms, are the result of an intensive cultivation--of making
the most out of very little naturally given.

A healthy, high-tempered, vital people these, not to be despised in the
_kaiserliche_ fashion even as soldiers. Surely not as human beings, as a
human society. And their poverty has had much influence in making the
Italians the sturdy people they are to-day. Poverty has some depressing
aspects, but in the main her very lack of economic opportunity--the want
of coal and factories and other sources of wealth--has kept most of these
people close to the soil, where one feels the majority of any healthy,
enduring race should be. Poverty has made the Italians hard, content with
little, and able to wring the most out of that little. It has cultivated
them intensively as a people, just as they have been forced to cultivate
their rock-bound fields foot by foot.

There are qualities in human living more precious than prosperity, and
in these Italians have shared abundantly--beauty, sentiment, tradition,
all that give color and meaning to life. These are the treasures of Latin
civilization in behalf of which the allied nations of Europe are now
fighting....

       *       *       *       *       *

I am well enough aware that all this is contrary to the premises of the
economic and social polity that controls modern statecraft. I know that
our great nations, notably Germany, are based on exactly the opposite
premise--that the strength of a state depends on the economic
development of its people, on its wealth-producing power. Germany has
been the most convinced, the most conscious, the most relentless exponent
of the pernicious belief that the ultimate welfare of the state depends
primarily on the wealth-getting power of its citizens. She has exalted
an economic theory into a religion of nationality with mystical appeals.
She has taught her children to go singing into the jaws of death in order
that the Fatherland may extend her markets and thus enrich her citizens
at the expense of the citizens of other states, who are her inferiors in
the science of slaughter. A queer religion, and all the more abhorrent
when dressed out with the phrases of Christianity!

All modern states are more or less tainted with the same
delusion--ourselves most, perhaps, after Germany. "We have all sinned,"
as an eminent Frenchman said, "your people and mine, as well as England
and Germany." It is time to revise some of the fundamental assumptions
of political philosophers and statesmen. Let us admit that peoples may
be strong and happy and contented without seeking to control increasingly
those sources of wealth still left undeveloped on the earth's surface,
without cutting one another's throats in an effort for national expansion.
The psychology of states cannot be fundamentally different from that of
the individuals in them. And the happiness of the individual has never
been found to consist wholly, even largely, in his economic prosperity.

Because the Latin soul divines this axiomatic belief, because the
Latin world admits a larger, finer interpretation of life than
economic success, all civilization waits upon the great decision of
this war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suddenly in the calm of these drifting, hesitant days, when nobody
knew what the nation desired, there came a bolt of lightning. I have
said that the German people lack imagination by which to understand
the world outside themselves. They do not cooerdinate their activities.
Otherwise, why commit the barbarism of sinking the Lusitania, just at
the moment when they were straining to keep Italy from breaking
completely the frayed bonds of the Triple Alliance? Probably it never
entered any German head in the "high commandment" that the prosecution
of his undersea warfare might have a very real connection with the
Italian situation. He could not credit any nation with such "soft
sentimentality," as he calls it. Yet I am not alone in ascribing a
large significance to the sinking of the Lusitania in Italy's decision
to make war. Every observer of these events whom I have talked with or
whose report I have read gives the same testimony, that Italy first
woke to her own mind at the shock of the Lusitania murders....

The news came to me in my peaceful room above the Barberini Gardens.
The fountain was softly dripping below, the spring air was full of the
song of birds as another perfect day opened. The warm sunshine reached
lovingly up the yellowed walls of the old palace opposite. All the
little, old, familiar things of a long past, which pull so strongly
here in Rome at the human heart, were moving in the new day. The life
of men, so troubled, so sad, seemed beautiful this May morning, with
the suave beauty of ideals that for centuries have coursed through the
blood of Italy.... Luigi, the black-haired, black-eyed lad who brought
the morning coffee and newspapers, was telling me of the horrid crime.
With his outstretched fist clenched and shaking with rage he said the
words, then, dropping the paper with its heavy headlines, cursed it as
if it too symbolically represented the hideous thing that Germany had
become. "Now," he cried, "there'll be war! We shall fight them, the
swine!" A few days afterward Luigi departed to fight the "swine" on
some Alpine pass.

Luigi's reaction to the sinking of the Lusitania was typical of all
Rome, all Italy. The same burst of execration and horror was in every
mouth. "Fuori i Barbari" was the title of a little anti-German sheet
that was appearing in Rome: it got a new significance as it hung in
the kiosks or was scanned by scowling men. It became the muttered cry
of the street. I am not simple enough to believe that the sinking of
the Lusitania of itself "drove Italy into the war." Nations no more
than individuals, alas, are idealistic enough to sacrifice themselves
simply for their moral resentments. But this fresh example of cynical
indifference to the opinion of civilization, just at the critical point
of decision for the Italian people, had much to do with the rousing of
that war fury without which no government can push a nation into war.
First there must be the spirit of hate, a personal emotion in the hearts
of many. It must be remembered also that Italy had felt with the entire
civilized world the outrage of Belgium. It has even been rumored that
one of the hard passages between Italy and her German allies was the
condition that Germany wished to attach to any Austrian concessions,
by which Italy at the peace conference should uphold Germany's "claims"
to Belgium. No one knows the truth about this, but if true it is in
itself an adequate explanation of the failure of the negotiations. And
now the Lusitania came with a fresh shock as an iterated example of
German state policy. It proclaimed glaringly to the eyes of all men
what the Teutonic thing is, what it means to the world. The Latin has
been cruel and bloody in his deeds, like all men, but he has never made
a cult of inhumanity, never justified it as a principle of statecraft.
Italians, prone to hate as to love, prone especially to hate the Teuton,
those aliens who have lusted after their richness and beauty all these
centuries, felt the Lusitania murders to the depths of their souls. It
was like a red writing on the wall, serving notice that in due season
Germany and Austria would tear Italy limb from limb because of her
"treachery" in not abetting them in their attack upon the peace of
the world.

Prince von Buelow and Baron Macchio might as well have discontinued
their daily visits to the Consulta after the 7th of May. Whatever
they might have hoped to accomplish with their diplomacy to keep Italy
neutral had been irretrievably ruined by the diplomacy of Grand Admiral
von Tirpitz. The smallest match, the scratch of a boot-heel on stone,
can set off a powder magazine. The Lusitania was a goodly sized match.
If the King and his ministers were waiting for the country to declare
itself, if they wanted the excuse of national emotion before taking
the final irrevocable steps into war, they had their desire. From the
hour when the news of the sinking of the Lusitania came over the wires,
Italy began to mutter and shout. The months of hesitation were ended.
There were elements enough of hate, and Germany had given them all
focus. "Fuori i Barbari!" I bought a sheet from the old woman who
went hurrying up the street shouting hoarsely,--"Fuori i Barbari!" ...
"Fuori i Barbari!" ... "Barbari!"....




II


_The Politician Speaks_

Giovanni Giolitti came to Rome, a few days after the Lusitania affair.
Ostensibly he had come to town from his home in little Cavour, where he
had been in retirement all the winter, to visit a sick wife at Frascati.
Montecitorio, home of politicians, began to hum. Rome quivering with the
emotions of its great decision muttered. What did Giolitti's presence at
this eleventh hour signify? Remember what the shrewd American observer
had said the week before,--"Giolitti will tell the Italians what they
want."

The master politician, the ex-Premier, the heir to Crispian policies,
was received at the railroad station by a few faithful friends, much
as Boss Barnes or Boss Penrose, returning from a voluntary exile in
New York or Pennsylvania, might be received by a few of the "boys."
They were Deputies from Montecitorio frock-coated and silk-hatted,
like politicians all the world over, not a popular throng of a hundred
thousand Romans singing and shouting, such as a few days later was to
gather in the piazza before the same station to greet the poet,
D'Annunzio. It is well to understand the significance of this
unobtrusive coming of the political leader at the moment, to realize
what sinister meaning it had for the existing Government, for the
Italian nation, for the Allies--for the world.

The Italian Deputies who had been elected two years before, long before
even the astutest politician had any suspicion of the black cloud that
was to rise over Europe, were Giolittian by a great majority. Giolitti
was then the chief figure in Italian politics and controlled the Chamber
of Deputies. The Giolitti "machine," as we should say, was the only
machine worth mention in Italy. Rumor says that it was buttressed with
patronage as American machines are, and, more specifically, that Giolitti
when in power had diverted funds which should have gone into national
defense to political ends, also had deferred the bills of the Libyan
expedition so that at the outbreak of the war Italy found herself badly
in debt and with an army in need of everything. Soldiers drilled in the
autumn of 1914 in patent leathers or barefooted and dressed as they could,
while the Giolittian clubs and interests flourished. Also it was said
that the prefects of the provinces, who in the Italian system have large
powers, especially in influencing elections, were henchmen of the
politician. I do not know how just these accusations may be, nor how
true the more serious accusation shortly to be hurled abroad that
Giolitti had sold himself for German gold. The latter is easy to say
and hard to prove; the former is hard to prove and easy to believe--it
being the way of politicians the world over.

However dull or bright Giolitti's personal honor may have been,
the Parliamentary situation was difficult in the extreme--one of
those absurd paradoxes of representative government liable to happen
any time. Here were five hundred-odd elected representatives of the
people owing allegiance, really, not to the King, not to the nation,
not to the responsible ministers in charge of the state, but to the
politician Giolitti. If they had been elected under the stress of
the war, after the 1st of August, 1914, they might not have been the
same personal representatives of Giovanni Giolitti. We cannot say.
Democracies are prone to be deceived in their chosen representatives:
they discover them mortgaged to a leader, secret or open. The Salandra
Government knew, of course, Giolitti's prejudices in favor of Italy's
old allies, disguised as patriotically _neutralista_ sympathies. He
had discreetly retired to little Cavour in Piedmont all the winter,
maintaining a disinterested aloofness throughout the prolonged
negotiations. Yet he knew, the Salandra Government and the King knew,
the people knew, that Giovanni Giolitti must be reckoned with before
Parliament could be opened to ratify the acts of the ministers, to
support them in whatever measures they had prepared to take. It would
be simple political insanity to open the Chamber before Giolitti had
been dealt with, leading to acrid discussions, scandal, the inevitable
downfall of the ministry, and political chaos. The nation must be united
and express itself unitedly by its legal mouthpieces before the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been said, I do not know with what truth, that Prince von Buelow had
informed the ex-Premier of Austria's ultimate concessions even before they
were presented to Salandra and Sonnino, and consequently that Giolitti was
precisely aware of the situation when he reached Rome. It is easy to
believe almost anything of a diplomacy that dealt with Giolitti in the
private rooms of a hotel after the downfall of the Salandra Government....
At any rate, Giolitti went through the forms correctly: he called on the
Premier Salandra, the Foreign Minister Sonnino, who laid before the
ex-Premier the situation as it had shaped itself. Even the King received
him in private audience. So much was due to the leading politician of
Italy, who controlled, supposedly, a majority of the existing Parliament.
In a sense he held the Salandra Government in his hand, after the opening
of the Chamber, which could not be long delayed.

Then the politician spoke. Rather, to be precise, he wrote a little note
to a faithful intimate, which was meant for the newspapers and got into
them at once. It was a very innocent little note of a few lines in which
he confided to "Caro Carlo" his opinion on the tense national situation:
better stay with the old allies--the Austrian offers seemed sufficiently
satisfactory. This may well have been a sincere, a patriotic judgment, as
sincere and patriotic as Bryan's resignation from the American Cabinet a
few weeks later. But Italians did not think so. Almost universally they
gave it other, sinister interpretations. Giolitti had been "bought," was
nothing more than the knavish mouthpiece of German intrigue. Giolitti
became overnight _traditore_, the arch-conspirator, the enemy of his
country! It must have staggered the politician, this sudden fury which
his innocent advice had roused. And, to condemn him, it is not necessary
to believe him to have been a knave bought by German gold.

It is important to realize what happened overnight. Giolitti had
become the most hated, most denounced man in all Italy, and in so far
as he represented honest _neutralista_ sentiment the cause was dead.
If that was what the Salandra Government wanted to achieve, they had
got their desire. If, as the politicians say, they were "feeling out"
popular sentiment, they need no longer doubt what it was. Columns of
vituperation appeared in the anti-German newspapers, crowds began to
form and shout in the streets. "_Traditore_," hissed with every accent
of hate and scorn, filled the air. Giolitti's life was seriously in
danger--or the Government preferred to think so. The great apartment
house on the Via Cavour in which he lived was cordoned off by double
lines of troops. Cavalry kept guard, all day and half the night, before
the steps of Santa Maria Maggiore, ready to sweep through the crowded
streets in case the mob got out of hand. Other troops poured out of the
barracks over the city, doing _piquet a mato_ on all the main streets
and squares of the city.

Giolitti had, indeed, swayed events,--"told the people what they
wanted,"--but not in the expected manner. He had revealed the nation
to itself, drifting on the verge of war, and they knew now that they
wanted nothing of Giolitti or neutrality or German compromises. They
wanted war with Austria. The remarkable fact is that a nation which had
submitted in passivity to absolute ignorance of the diplomatic exchanges,
waiting dumbly the decision that should determine its fate,--of which it
could be said that a large number, perhaps a majority, were neutral at
heart,--suddenly overnight awoke to a realization of the political
situation and rejected the prudent advice of their popular politician,
denounced him, and inferentially proclaimed themselves for war. At last
they had seen: they saw that the Salandra Government in which they had
confidence had come to the parting of the ways with Austria, and they
saw the hand of Giolitti trying to play the game of their ancient enemy.

Then the Salandra Government did a bold, a dramatic thing: it resigned
in a body, leaving the King free to choose ministers who could obtain
the support of the Giolitti following in Parliament. It was inevitable,
it was simple, it was sincere, and it was masterly politics. The public
was aghast. At the eleventh hour the state was left thus leaderless
because its real desires were to be thwarted by a politician who took
his orders from the German Embassy.

Thereupon the "demonstrations" against Giolitti, against Austria and
Germany, began in earnest.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first popular "demonstration" which I saw in Rome was a harmless
enough affair, and for that matter none of them were really serious.
The Government always had the situation firmly in hand, with many
regiments of infantry, also cavalry, to reinforce the police, the secret
service, and the _carabinieri_, who alone might very well have handled
all the disorder that occurred. Never, I suspect, was there any more
demonstrating than the Government thought wise. The first occasion was
a little crowd of boys and youths,--not precisely riff-raff, rather like
our own college boys,--and they did less mischief than a few hundred
freshmen or sophomores would have done. They marched down the street from
the Piazza Tritone, shouting and carrying a couple of banners inscribed
with "Abasso Giolitti." They stoned a few signs, notably the one over the
empty office of the Austrian-Lloyd company, then, being turned from the
Corso and the Austrian Embassy by the police, they rushed back up the
hill to the Salandra residence, to hang about and yell themselves hoarse
in the hope of evoking something from the former Premier. The two poles
of the following "demonstrations" were the Salandra and the Giolitti
residences with occasional futile dashes into the Corso....

For the better part of a week these street excitements kept up, not
merely in Rome, but all over Italy: for that one week, while the King
sent for various public men and offered them the task of forming a
new ministry, which in every case was respectfully declined--as was
expected.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why did the King not send for Giovanni Giolitti, the one statesman
who under ordinary circumstances might have expected a summons?
Neither Giolitti nor any of his intimates was invited to form a cabinet
and reestablish constitutional government. Nothing would appear to be
more natural than that the leader of the Opposition, controlling a
majority of the Deputies, who avowedly represented a policy opposed
to that of the ministers who had resigned, should be asked himself to
take charge. But Giolitti was never asked, and daily the shouting in
the streets grew louder, more menacing, and the mood of the public more
tense. Nothing was plainer than that if Giolitti had a majority of the
Deputies, the people were not for him and his policies. The House of
Savoy, as the King so well put it, rules by expressing the will of the
people. Each day it was more evident what that will was. Giolitti, the
master politician, was being outplayed by mere honest men. They had used
him--as Germany had used him--to try out the temper of the nation. With
him they drew the _neutralista_ and pro-German fire beforehand, prudently,
not to be defeated by hostile party criticism in the Chamber. And when
they got through with the politician, they threw him out: literally they
intimated through the Minister of Public Safety that they would not be
responsible any longer for his personal safety. There was nothing for
him but to go--before Parliament had assembled!

As Italy seethed and boiled, threatening to break into revolutionary
violence, while the King received one respectable nonentity after
another, who each time after a very brief consideration declined the
proffered responsibility, Giolitti must have thought that the life of
the politician is not an easy one. He was stoned when he appeared on
the streets in his motor. He had to sneak out of the city at dawn that
last day. Where was all the _neutralista_ sentiment so evident the first
months of the war? And where was the German influence supposed to be so
strong in the upper commercial classes? Germans as well as Austrians
were scurrying out of Italy as fast as they could. Their insinuating
multiplicity was proved by the numbers of shuttered shops. More hotels
along the Pincian, whose "Swiss" managers found it prudent to retire
over the Alps, were closed. Angry crowds swarmed about the Austrian
and German consulates, also the embassies when they could get through
the cordons of troops on the Piazza Colonna. Noisy Rome these days might
very well give rise to pessimistic reflections on the folly of popular
government to politicians like Giolitti and the Prince von Buelow, whose
obviously prudent policies were thus being upset by the "voice of the
piazza" led by a very literary poet! No doubt at this moment they would
point to Ferdinand of Bulgaria and the King of Greece as enlightened
monarchs who know how to secure their own safety by ignoring the will
of their peoples. But the end for Ferdinand and Constantine is not yet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The trouble with the politician as with the trained diplomat is that
he never goes beneath the surface. He takes appearances for realities.
He has often lost that instinct of race which should enable him to
understand his own humanity. To a Giolitti, adept in the trading game
of political management, it must seem insane for Italy to plunge into
the war against powerful allies, who at just this time were triumphing
in West and East alike--all the more when the sentimental and trading
instincts of the populace might be partly satisfied with the concessions
so grudgingly wrung from Austria. It was not only rash: it was bad
politics!

But what Giolitti and men of his stripe the world over cannot
understand is that the people are never as crafty and wise and mean as
their politicians. The people are still capable of honest emotions, of
heroic desires, of immense sacrifices. They love and hate and loathe
with simple hearts. The politician like the popular novelist makes the
fatal mistake of underrating his audience. And his audience will leave
him in the lurch at the crisis, as Italy left Giolitti. Italy was never
enthusiastic, as its enemies have charged, for a war of mere aggression,
for realizing the "aspirations" because Austria was in a tight place,
even for redeeming a million and a half more or less of expatriated
Italians in Austrian territory. Politicians and statesmen talked of
these matters, perforce; the people repeated them. For they were tangible
"causes." But what Italians hated was Austrian and German leadership--were
the "_barbari_" themselves, their ancient foe; and when told that they
had better continue to make their bed with the "_barbari_," they revolted.

There are many men in every nation,--some of the politician type, some
of the aristocratic type, some of the business type,--who by interest
and temperament are timid and fundamentally cynical. They are pacifists
for profit. About them gather the uncourageous "intellectuals," who
believe in the potency of all established and dominating power whatever
it may be. But these "leading citizens" fortunately are a minority in
any democracy. They do most of the negotiating, much of the talking, but
when the crisis comes,--and the issue is out in the open for every one
to see,--they have to reckon with the instinctive majority, whose
emotional nature has not been dwarfed. That majority is not necessarily
the "rabble," the irresponsible and ignorant mob of the piazza as the
German Chancellor sees them: it is the great human army of "little
people," normal, simple, for the most part honest, whose selfish stake
in the community is not large enough to stifle their deepest instincts.
In them, I believe, lies the real idealism of any nation, also its plain
virtues and its abiding strength.

The Italian situation was a difficult one, obviously. Public opinion
had been perplexed. There were the classes I have just mentioned, by
interest and temperament either pro-German or honestly neutral. There
was the radical mob that the year before had temporarily turned Italy
into republics. There was the unreliable South. And the hard-ground
peasants who feared, justly, heavier taxes and the further hardships
of war. And there were the millions of honest but undecided Italians
who hated Teutonism and all its deeds, who were intelligent enough to
realize the exposed situation of Italy, who felt the call of blood for
the "unredeemed," and the vaguer but none the less powerful call of
civilization from their northern kin--above all who responded to the
fervid historical idealism of the poet voicing the longing of their
souls to become once more the mighty nation they had been. These were
the people whose change of hearts and minds surprised Giolitti and the
Germans.

What had been going on in those hearts of the plain people all these
months of the great war, Giolitti could not understand. It was another
Italy from the one he had charmed that rose at his prudent advice and
threw the bitter word "_traditore_" in his teeth and howled him out of
Rome. Traitor, yes! traitor to the loftier, bolder, finer longings of
their hearts to take their stand at all cost with their natural allies
in this last titanic struggle with the barbarians. It was this sort of
public that spoke in the piazza and whose voice prevailed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The diplomat deals too exclusively with conventional persons, with the
sophisticated. The politician deals too exclusively with the successful,
with the commercial and exploiting classes. Giolitti's associations
were of this class. Like any other _bourgeoisie_ of finance and trade,
"big business" in Italy was on the side of the big German battalions,
who at this juncture were winning victories. Italy was peculiarly under
the influence of German and Austrian finance. One of its leading lending
banks--the Banca Commerciale--was a German concern. Most of its newer
developments had been accomplished with German capital, were run by German
engineers, equipped with German machines. Germany has bitterly reproached
her former ally for the "ingratitude" of siding against the people who had
brought her prosperity. Gratitude and ingratitude in business transactions
are meaningless terms. The lender gets his profit as well as the borrower,
usually before the borrower. If Italy has needed German capital, Germany
has needed the Italian markets and Italian industries for her capital. The
Germans surely have used Italy as their commercial colony. Italy bought
her bathtubs, her electric machines, her coal, and her engines from
Germany. For the past generation the German commercial traveler has been
as common in Italy as the German tourist. In fact, was there ever a German
tourist who was not in some sense a commercial agent for the Fatherland?

To the international financier all this is simply intelligible--a matter
of mutually desirable exchange. No debtor nation should feel aggrieved
with a creditor nation: rather it should rejoice that it has attracted
the services of foreign capital. Is the international economist right
in his reasoning? Why does the delusion persist among plain people that
the creditor is not always a benefactor? It is a very old and persistent
delusion, so strong in the Middle Ages that interest was considered
illegal and the despised Jews were the only people who dared finance
the world. Abstractly the economists are undoubtedly right, yet I am
fain to believe that the popular notion has some ground of truth in it
too. Obviously, according to modern notions a country rich in natural
resources, but poor in capital, inherited savings, must borrow money to
"develop" itself. But granting for the moment that material exploitation
of a country is as desirable as our modern notions assume it to be, even
then there are reasons for grave suspicion of foreign lenders. Take abused
Mexico. Its woes are in good part traceable to the pernicious influence
upon its domestic politics of the foreign capital which its riches have
attracted. One might instance the United States as an example of
beneficial exploitation by foreign capital, but with us it must be
remembered the lender has had neither industrial nor political power.
We have always been strong enough to manage our affairs ourselves and
satisfy our creditors with their interest--if need be with their
principal. We have drawn on the European horde as upon an international
bank, but we have absolutely controlled the disposition of the moneys
borrowed. A weak country can hardly do that. Mexico could not. It had
to suffer the foreign exploiter, with his selfish intrigues, in person.
Italy has never been as weak as Mexico: it has maintained its own
government, its own civilization. But the increasing amount of foreign
investment, the increasing number of foreign "interests" in Italy, has
been evident to every Italian. The hotels, the factories, the shops all
testify patently to the presence of the stranger within the gates looking
after his own interests, breeding his money on Italian soil.

But why not? the dispassionate internationalist may ask. Why should not
the Italian hotels be in the hands of Austrians, Germans, and Swiss; the
new electrical developments be installed and run by Germans; the shops
for tourists and Italians be owned by foreigners? There we cross the
unconscious instinct of nationality, which cannot be ignored. Assuming
that there is something precious, to be guarded as a chief treasure in
the instinct of nationality, as I assume, there are grave dangers in too
much friendly commercial "infiltration" from the outside. The indirect
influences of commercial exploitation with foreign capital are the
insidious, the dangerous ones. The dislike of the foreign trader, the
foreign creditor, may voice itself crudely as mere envy, know-nothingism,
but it has a healthy root in national self-preservation. For an Italian
the German article should be undesirable, especially if its possession
means accepting the German and his way of life along with his goods. The
small merchant and the peasant express their resentments of foreign
competition rawly, no doubt. Consciously it is half envy of the more
efficient stranger. Unconsciously they are voicing the deep traditions
of their ancestors, vindicating their race ideals, cherishing what is
most enduring in themselves. They would not see their country given over
to the stranger, whose life is not their life.

One unpleasant aspect of the commercial invasion of Italy by the Teuton
was his liking to live there, and consequently the amount of real estate
which he was collecting on the Latin peninsula--so much that the lovely
environs of Naples were fast becoming a German principality! These
invaders were not traders, nor workers, but capitalists and exploiters.
The process is known now as "infiltration." The German had filtered into
Italy in every possible way, was supplanting its own native life with the
Teutonic thing, as it had in France so largely. Italy could well profit
from that experience of its sister nation. The Germans who filtered into
French life, commercial, industrial, social, were German first and last.
When the crisis came they turned from their adopted land, where they had
lived on terms of cordial hospitality for ten, twenty, thirty years, and
took themselves back to Germany, in many cases to reappear as the invader
at the head of armed troops. The experience of France proved that the
peaceful German resident was a German all the years of his life, not a
loyal, vital factor in his adopted country--too often something of a spy
as well. Therefore Italy might well be disturbed over the presence of so
much Teutonic "infiltration" in her own beloved land. And why should
Germany call her ungrateful when she sought to rid herself of her
unwelcome creditors? German capital had made its five per cent on its
investments, and better: it should not expect to absorb the life of the
nation also.

       *       *       *       *       *

In every debtor nation there must be an element which profits directly
from the creditor relation. It assumes, naturally, the aspects of
"progress," and consists of the richer trading class and bankers,
sustainers of politicians. Such, I take it, were the followers of
Giolitti, and such was Giolitti himself, a sincere admirer of Teutonic
success and believer in the economic help which Germany could render
to his kind of Italian. Such men as Giolitti are easily impressed by
evidences of German superiority: they identify progress with the rapid
introduction of German plumbing, German hotel-keeping, German electric
devices, German banks. All these, they believe, help a "backward country"
to come forward. They do not understand the finer spiritual risks that
such material benefits may involve. They are not as sensitive as the
humble peasant, as simpler citizens, to the gradual sapping of the
precious national roots, of the internal debasement that may be going
on through the process of "infiltration." They are too prosperous, too
cosmopolitan to feel losses in national individuality. They realize
merely the better hotels, the better railways, the improved plumbing
in their country. Their souls are already half-Teutonized.

In his dignified answer to the German Chancellor's vulgar attack on him
in the Reichstag, Salandra referred to the long history of the Italian
people, who "were civilized and leaders of the world" when the Teuton
hordes were still savage. It was the spirit of that ancient civilization
which did not consist primarily of industrial development that stirred
in the souls of true Italians and made them scorn the advice of the
Teutonized politician. He was "_traditore_" to all that nobler Italians
hold dear--to the Latin tradition.




III


_The Poet Speaks_

The poet prophet has so long abdicated his rights among us moderns
that we are incredulous when told that he has again exercised his
function. That is the reason why the story of a poet's part in leading
the Italian people toward their decision is received by Americans with
such skeptical humor. And Gabriele d' Annunzio in the role! A poet who
is popularly supposed to be decadent, if not degenerate, gossipingly
known for his celebrated affair with a famous actress, whose novels and
plays, when not denounced for their eroticism, are very much caviar to
the "wholesome" man, so full are they of a remote symbolism, so purely
"literary." "Exotic" is the chosen word for the more tolerant American
minds with which to describe the author of "Il Fuoco" and "San Sebastian."

In recent years the Italian poet has abandoned his native land, living
in Paris, writing his last work in French, having apparently exiled
himself for the rest of his life and renounced his former Italianism.
Circumstances were stronger than the poet. The war came, and D'Annunzio
turned back to his native land.

       *       *       *       *       *

He came to Italy at a critical moment and characteristically he filled
the moment with all the drama of which it was capable. His reappearance
in Italy, as every one knows, was due to the ceremonies in connection
with the unveiling of a monument to the famous Garibaldian band,--the
Thousand,--in the little village of Quarto outside of Genoa, from which
Garibaldi and his Thousand set forth on their march of liberation
fifty-five years ago. The monument had been long in the making. The
opportunity for patriotic instigation was heightened by the crisis of
the great war. The King and his ministers had indicated, previously,
their intention of participating in this national commemoration, but
as the day grew near and the political situation became more acute,
it was announced that the urgency of public affairs would not permit
the Government to leave Rome. It may have been the literal fact that
the situation precipitated by the presence of Giolitti demanded their
constant watchfulness. Or it may well have been that the King and the
Salandra Government had no intention of allowing their hand in this
dangerous game to be forced by any reckless fervor of the poet. They
were not ready, yet, to countenance his inflammation. At any rate,
they left the occasion solely to the poet.

How he improved it may best be gathered from his address. To the
American reader, accustomed to a blunter appeal, the famous _Sagra_
will seem singularly uninflammatory--intensely vague, and literary.
One wonders how it could fire that, vast throng which poured out along
the Genoa road and filled the little Garibaldian town. But one must
remember that nine months of hesitation had prepared Italian minds for
the poet's theme--the future of Italy. He linked the present crisis of
choice with the heroic memories of that first making of a nation, "_Oggi
sta sulla patria un giorno di porpora; e questo e un ritorno per una
nova dipartita, o gente d'Italia!_"--A purple day is dawning for the
Fatherland and this is a return for a new departure, O people of Italy!
The return for the new departure--to make a larger, greater Italy, just
as the Thousand had departed from this spot to gather the fragments of
a nation into one. "All that you are, all that you have, and yourselves,
give it to the flame-bearing Italy!" And in conclusion he invoked in a
new beatitude the strong youth of Italy who must bear their country to
these new triumphs: "O happy those who have more because they can give
more, can burn more.... Happy those youths who are famished for glory,
because they will be appeased.... Happy the pure in heart, happy those
who return with victory, because they will see the new face of Rome,
the recrowned brow of Dante, the triumphal beauty of Italy."

The youth of Italy avidly seized upon the poet's appeal. The _Sagra_
was read in the wineshops of little villages, on the streets of the
cities. The voice of the poet reached to that fount of racial idealism,
of patriotism, that glows in the hearts of all real Italians. He tied
their heroic past with the heroic opportunity of the present. And he
did not speak of the "unredeemed" or of the "aspirations." Instead,
"This is a return for a new departure, O people of Italy!"

The politician, awaiting in Rome the effect of his advice to choose
the safe path, must have wondered, as too many Americans wondered,
how this poet fellow could stir such mad passion by his fine figures
of birds and sea! But there was a spirit abroad in Italy that would
not be appeased with "compensations": the poet had the following of
all "young Italy."

       *       *       *       *       *

D'Annunzio came to Rome. Not at once. A whole week elapsed after the
_Sagra_ at Quarto, the 5th of May, before he reached Rome--a week of
growing tumult, of anti-Giolitti demonstrations, in which his glowing
words could sink like hot wine into the hearts of the people. The delay
was well considered. If the poet had seized the occasion of Quarto, he
made his appearance on the larger scene after the interest of the whole
nation had been heightened by reading his address.

I was one of the immense throng that awaited the arrival of the train
bringing D'Annunzio to the capital. The great bare place before the
terminal station was packed with a patient crowd. The windows of the
massive buildings flanking the square were filled with faces. There
were faces everywhere, as far as the recesses of the National Museum,
around the flamboyant fountain, up the avenues. There were soldiers
also, many of them, inside and outside of the station, to prevent any
excessive disturbance, part of the remarkable precaution with which
the Government was hedging every act. But the soldiers were not needed.
The huge throng that waited hour after hour to greet the poet was not
rabble: it was a quiet, respectable, orderly concourse of Romans. There
was a preponderance of men over women, of youth over middle age, as was
natural, but so far as their behavior went, they were as self-contained
a "mob" as one might find in Berlin.

The train arrived about dusk, as the great electric lamps began to
shine above the sea of white faces. To most the arrival was evident
merely from the swaying of the dense human mass, from the cadence
of the Garibaldian Hymn that rose into the air from thousands of
throats. As room was made for the motor-car, one could see a slight
figure, a gray face, swallowed up in the surging mass. Then the crowd
broke on the run to follow the motor-car to the hotel on the Pincian
where the poet was to stay. The newspapers said there were a hundred
and fifty thousand people before the Regina Hotel in the Via Veneto
and the adjacent streets. I cannot say. All the way from the Piazza
Tritone to the Borghese Gardens, even to the Villa Malta where Prince
von Buelow lived, the crowd packed, in the hope of hearing some words
from the poet. The words of Mameli's "L'Inno" rose in the twilight
air. At last the little gray figure appeared on the balcony above the
throng....

It is impossible to give an adequate idea of the effect of what D'Annunzio
said. His words fell like moulded bronze into the stillness, one by one,
with an extraordinary distinctness, an intensity that made them vibrate
through the mass of humanity. They were filled with historical allusions
that any stranger must miss in part, but that touched the fibers of his
hearers. He seized, as he had at Quarto, on the triumphant advance of the
liberating Thousand and recounted the inspiring incidents of that day
fifty years and more ago. As I stood in that huge crowd listening to the
poet's words as they fell into the thirsty hearts of the people,--who
were weary with too much negotiation,--I realized as never before that
speech is given to man for more than reason. The words were not merely
beautiful in themselves: they flamed with passion and they touched into
flame that something of heroic passion in the hearts of all men which
makes them transcend themselves. The crowd sighed as if it saw visions,
and there rose instinctively in response the familiar strains of the
Garibaldian Hymn.

Italy had found its voice! The poet did not speak of "compensations,"
a little more of Trent and Trieste, of a more strategic frontier. He
stirred them with visions of their past and their future. He voiced
their scorns. "We are not, we will not be a museum, an inn, a picnic
ground, an horizon in Prussian blue for international honeymoons!...
Our genius calls us to put our imprint on the molten matter of the new
world.... Let there breathe once more in our heaven that air which flames
in the prodigious song of Dante in which he describes the flight of the
Roman eagle, of your eagle, citizens!... Italy is arming, not for the
burlesque, but for a serious combat.... _Viva, viva Roma_, without shame,
_viva_ the great and pure Italy!"

That was the voice which called Italy into the war: the will that
Italy should live "ever grander, ever purer, without shame." The poet
spoke to the Latin in the souls of his hearers.

       *       *       *       *       *

He spoke again a number of times. In those feverish days when the
nation was in a ferment, the restless youth of Rome would rush in
crowds to the hotel on the Pincian and wait there patiently for their
poet to counsel them. He gratified their desire, not often, and each
time that he spoke he stung them to a fuller consciousness of will.
He spoke of the larger Italy to be, and they knew that he did not mean
an enlargement of boundaries. He spoke clearly, briefly, intensely.
It was once more the indubitable voice of the poet and prophet raised
in the land of great poetry.

D'Annunzio grew bolder. He recognized openly his antagonist--the traitor.
The most dramatic of his little speeches was at the Costanzi Theater
where a trivial operetta was being given, which was quickly swept into
the wings. After the uproar on his entrance had been somewhat stilled,
he spoke of Von Buelow and Giolitti and their efforts to thwart the will
of the nation.

"This betrayal is inspired, instigated, abetted by a foreigner. It is
committed by an Italian statesman, a member of the Italian Parliament
in collusion with this foreigner to debase, to enslave, to dishonor
Italy.".... _Traditore!_ I never thought to hear the word off the
operatic stage. From D'Annunzio's lips it fell like a wave of fire
upon that inflammable audience. A grizzled, well-dressed citizen
suddenly leaped to his feet, yelling,--"I will drink his blood, the
traitor.... Death to Giolitti!"....

While the big theater rocked and stormed with passion, outside on
the Via Viminale barricades were being hastily thrown up. The cavalry,
that had been sitting their mounts all day before Santa Maria Maggiore
guarding the unwelcome Giolitti from the angry mob, had charged the
packed street, sweeping it clear with the ugly sound of horses' hoofs
on pavement and cries of hunted men and women. That was the end. The
next morning, be it remembered, the politician sneaked away, and two
days afterwards the Salandra Government returned to power. Rome, all
Italy, became suddenly calm, purged of its passion, awaiting confidently
the reopening of Parliament.

The Government had won. The people had won. The poet had beaten the
politician. For his was the voice to which the great mass of his
countrymen responded.

       *       *       *       *       *

D'Annunzio spoke again admirably at those great gatherings of concord
when the citizens of Rome assembled in the Piazza del Popolo and in the
Campidolgio. The poet had made himself the spokesman of the new Italy
which had found itself in the storm of the past agonizing weeks, and as
such he was recognized by the Government. The King and the ministers
accorded him audiences; he was given a commission in the army and
attached to the general staff. Wherever he appeared he was received
with acclamations, with all the honor that is accorded the one who can
interpret nobly the soul of a nation. And the poet deserved all the
recognition which he received--the throngs, the flowers, the _vivas_,
the adoration of Italian youths. For he alone, one might say, raised
the crisis from the wallow of sordid bargaining, from the tawdriness
of sentiment, to a purer passion of Latin ambition and patriotism. He
loftily recalled to his countrymen the finer ideals of their past. He
made them feel themselves Latin, guardians of civilization, not traders
for safety and profit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Germans, naturally, have had bitter things to say about D'Annunzio.
German sympathizers in America as well as the German Chancellor have
sneered at the influence wielded in Italy's crisis by a "decadent"
poet. Even among American lovers of Italy there has been skepticism
of the sincerity of a national mind so easily swayed by a man who "is
not nice to women." A peculiarly American view that hardly needs
comment!

Is it not wiser to assume that the case of D'Annunzio was really
the case of Italy itself--conversion? The deepest passion in the
poet's life came to him when, a voluntary exile in France, he witnessed
the splendid reawakening of French spirit in face of awful danger.
Living in Paris during the early months of the cataclysm, witness of
the mobilization, the rape of Belgium, and the turn at the Marne, the
heroic struggle for national existence in the winter trenches, he saw
with a poet's vision what France was at death-grips with, what the
Allies were fighting for, was not territorial gains or glory or even
altogether selfish self-preservation, but rather, more deeply, for
the existence of a certain humanity. This world war he realized is no
local quarrel: it is the greatest of world decisions in the making.
And the man himself was transfigured by it: he found himself in his
greatest passion as Italy found herself at her greatest crisis. Latin
that he is, he divined the inner meaning of the confused issues presented
to the puzzled world. He was fired with the desire to light from his
inspiration his own hesitant, confused people, to voice for them the
call to the Latin soul that he had heard. For Italy, most Latin of all
the heirs of Rome, with her tragic and heroic past, the war must be not
a winning of a little Austrian territory, the redeeming of a few lost
Italians, but a fight for the world's best tradition against the forces
of death. Once more it was "_Fuori i barbari_," as it had been with her
Latin ancestors.

It seems to me no great mystery.

In the poet's writing there are passages of a large historical
understanding. Of all modern writers he is foremost Latin, in
knowledge, in instinct for beauty and form, in love of tradition.
Even in his erotic and mystical passages this vein of purest gold
may be seen, this understanding of the potential greatness of the
tradition into which he was born. What wonder, then, that the first
fundamental passion of the mature man's soul should be his desire to
proclaim once more the cause of Latin civilization, should be the
ardor of fighting in his own manner with his weapon of inspired words
the world battle? So it seemed to me as I listened to his voice in
the stillness of that May night. The voice of Roman glory, of ancient
ideals awoke an answering passion in the hearts of the thousands who
had gathered there. "_Una grande e pura Italia ... sensa onta_." And
it would be a lasting shame for Italy to keep out of the struggle
that the allied nations were making, to take her "compensations"
prudently and shrink back within a cowardly neutrality. Better any
other fate.

So it seemed to that throng of eager, soul-hungry Italians who stood
beneath the balcony of the hotel on the Pincian and drank the poet's
fiery message like a full-bodied wine. At last they had found
themselves.




IV


_The Piazza Speaks_

"The voice of the piazza prevailed," the German Chancellor sneered
in his denunciation of Italy at the conclusion. It can easily be
imagined, the picture he made to himself, in his ugly northern office
on Friedrichstrasse, of the influence that upset all German pressure
and sent Italy into the war on the side of the Allies; that defeated
the industry of the skilled ambassador, the will of the wily politician.
The Chancellor saw one of those large public squares in which Latin
countries abound, open centers in their close-built cities, where so
much of the common life of the people goes on, now as it has for hundreds
of years. For the piazza, descending in direct tradition from the ancient
Forum, is the public hall of citizens, where they trade, gossip, quarrel,
plot, love, and hate, from the crone sunning herself in a sheltered nook
over her bag of chestnuts to the grandee whose palace windows open above
the noisy commonalty. The Chancellor saw this common meeting-ground, this
glorified street, filled with a ragged mob of "the baser quality," as on
the operatic stage, emptily vocal or evilly skulking for mischief, like
the _mafia_, the _apache_. He saw this loose gathering of irresponsibles
suddenly stirred to evanescent passion against the real benefactors of
their country by the secret agents of the Allies, "corrupted by English
gold," in the mechanical melodrama of the German imagination, marching
to and fro, attacking the shops and homes of worthy Germans, howling and
stoning, by mere noise drowning the sober protests of reflecting citizens,
intimidating a weak king, connived at by a bought government, pushing a
whole nation into the bloody sacrifice of war out of mere recklessness of
rioting--a piazza filled with the rabble minority who have nothing to lose
because they neither fight nor pay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such a picture, reflected in Bethmann-Hollweg's splenetic phrase,
is a complete delusion of the German mind. I was in Rome and saw the
real piazza at work. I was on the streets all hours of day and night,
and what I saw was nothing like the trite imaginings of the German
Chancellor. As I have said in a previous chapter, the "demonstrations"
did not begin in any perceptible form until the bungling hand of Prince
von Buelow betrayed his intrigue with Giolitti and the politician's
intention of defeating the Salandra Government in its preparations for
war became evident. At no time did the rioting in the streets equal the
violence of what a third-class strike in an American mill town can
produce. Such as it was the Government showed the determination and
ability to keep it strictly within bounds. Rome was filled with troops.
Alleyways and courtyards oozed troops at the first shouts from the
piazza: the danger points of the Corso, especially the Piazza Colonna
on which the Chigi Palace, the residence of the Austrian Ambassador,
fronts, were kept almost constantly empty by cordons of troops. All
told, the destruction done by the mobs could not have amounted to
several hundred dollars--a few signs and shop windows smashed, a few
pavements torn up in the Via Viminale. It is true that after war was
declared upon Austria there was some pillage of Austrian and German
shops in Milan, which has been greatly exaggerated by the German and
pro-German press; it was nothing worse than what happened in Berlin
to English residents in August, 1914. And the Italian Government
immediately took severe measures with the officials who had permitted
the disorders--removing the prefect and the military commander of
Milan.

There is no saying, of course, what might have happened had the King
offered the premiership to Giolitti, and had that astute politician
been rash enough to accept the responsibility of forming a government
in accord with his own _neutralista_ sympathies. It is more than
likely that revolution would have ensued: possibly Italy would have
entered the war as a republic. For the Italians are not Greeks, as
has been amply proved. But the King of Italy, whatever his own
sympathies may have been, showed plainly that he had enough political
understanding not to run counter to the expressed will of his people,
to deal with the "traitor." After a week of tempestuous inter-regnum,
in which the piazza expressed itself passionately, the Salandra
Government returned to power with all which that implied in foreign
policy. Then the piazza became quiet. If the piazza must shoulder the
responsibility of Italy's decision, it must be credited with knowing
marvelously well its own mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The constitution of this "mob" is worth attention. I saw it at
many angles. I followed its first erratic flights through the streets
when Salandra resigned and a gaping void opened before the nation. I
waited for the poet's arrival at the Roman station, for hours, while
the dense throng of men and women pressed into the great square and
swelled like a dark pool into the adjoining streets. And I followed
with the "piazza" in its instinctive rush to the hotel on the Pincian
Hill to hear the voice of its spokesman. Again I was in the Corso when
the plumed cavalry cleared the surging mass from the Piazza Venezia to
the Piazza Colonna. I heard the people yell, "Death to the traitor
Giolitti!" and "_Fuori i barbari!_" and sing Mameli's "L'Inno." I saw
the uproar melt away in the soft darkness of the Roman nights, leaving
the cavalry at their vigil before Santa Maria Maggiore, guarding the
repose of Giovanni Giolitti.

I can testify that the "piazza" was composed very largely of perfectly
respectable folk like myself. It varied more or less as chance gatherings
of men will vary. Sometimes there were more workingmen in dirty clothes,
sometimes more youths and boys with their banners, sometimes more
shouters and fewer actors. But the core of it was always that same mass
of common citizenship that gathered anciently in the Forum, that to-day
goes orderly enough to the polls in New York or Chicago,--plain men,
rather young than old, who are so distinctly left on the outside of
affairs, who must perforce turn to the newspaper for information and
to the open street for expression, who relieve themselves of uncomplex
emotions by shouting, and who symbolize the things they hate to the
depth of their souls with personalities like Giolitti and occasionally
shy bricks at the guarded home of authority. All this, yes, but not
"riff-raff," not anarchist, nor _mafia_, nor _apache_. Nothing of that
did I see those days and nights.

The greeting to D'Annunzio was made by men of the professional and
intellectual classes I should say, having wormed my way in and out
of that vast piazza gathering. The daily crowds before the poet's
hotel were composed chiefly of youths, at school or college, others
in working dress. The noisiest, most inflammable of all these mobs
was that in the Costanzi Theater the evening of D'Annunzio's appearance
there. They were citizens--and their wives--who could afford to pay
the not inconsiderable price charged--and seats were at a premium.
The men around me in evening dress, who were by no means silent, came
from the "classes" rather than the masses. The crowds that hung about
the Corso and the adjacent squares were more mixed, but they held a
goodly proportion of the frequenters of the Cafe Arragno. The worst
that could be said against these casual gatherings was their youth.
It is the way of youth to vent its passion in speech, to move and not
to stand. Middle age stood on the sidewalks and watched, sympathetically.
Old age looked down from the windows, contemplatively. But both old
age and middle age consorted with youth in the great meetings of
consecration in the Piazza del Popolo and the Campidolgio, after the
will of the people had prevailed. And after all, youth must fight the
wars, and pay for them for long years afterwards--why should it not
have its say in the making of them as well as middle age and old age?
The youths in the ranks of the patient, good-natured soldiers who did
_piquet a mato_ all day and half the night in the Roman streets during
that vocal week while the piazza spoke, were openly sympathetic with
the mobs they were holding down. I knew some of the gray-clad boys.
I strolled along the lines and saw the smiles, heard the chaffing
give-and-take of citizen and soldier as the mob tried to rush through
the double ranks that cordoned the streets. There was no hatred there,
no violent conflict with authority. Each understood the other. The young
officers seemed to say to the crowd,--"You may howl all you like, you
fellows, but you mustn't throw stones or make a mess.... What's the
good! War is coming anyway in a few days--they can't talk it away!"
And the crowd replied heartily,--"You are all right. We understand
each other. You are doing your duty. Soon you will be doing something
better worth while than policing streets and saving that  traitor
Giolitti's skin from us. You will be chasing the Austrians out of
Italian territory, and many of us will be with you then!" And the
young officers looked the other way when the members of the "mob"
offered the tired soldiers cigarettes and chocolate, and sometimes
slipped through the cordon on private business within the forbidden
area. Only once, once only in all the excitement did the long-haired
horsemen clatter through the streets in a serious charge, scattering
the shrieking pedestrians. That was by way of warning, possibly as
much to the Government as to the populace.

Then the decision was made, and after the Salandra Ministry, in
whom the people had confidence, had returned to power, the ministry
that had broken with Austria and refused her grudging compromises,
the piazza purred like doves and listened to long patriotic speeches
from "representative citizens." No soldiers were needed to keep order
in these immense gatherings. For all were citizens, then, piazza and
palace alike in the face of war.

       *       *       *       *       *

One easily understands the German Chancellor's scorn over any irregular
expression of public opinion, his disgust that the loose public in the
streets dares to vent any emotion or will other than that suggested to
it by a strong government, above all daring to voice it passionately.
In a nation such as Germany, where the franchise is so hedged about
that even those who have it cannot effectively express their wills,
where political opinion is supplied from a central fount of authority,
where the nation goes into war at the command of the Kaiser and his
military advisers, where a war of "defense" and all other national
interests are controlled by the "high commandment," consisting at the
most of forty or fifty men, while the remaining sixty-five millions of
the people are obedient puppets, nourished on falsehoods, where the
popular emotion can be turned on like an electric current at the order
of the "high commandment,"--now against this enemy, now against that
one,--first hate of English, then hate of Italians, now hate of
Americans--it is natural that a high government functionary should
despise all popular effervescence and misread its manifestations as
merely the meretricious, bought noise of the mob, quickly roused in
the Southern temperament and badly controlled by a weak, and probably
corrupt, government. The elements in the piazza have no power in the
close organization of Germany, no political expression whatever: all
good citizens are instructed by a carefully controlled press how to
think and feel and speak. To my thinking it is rather to the glory of
the Latin temperament that it cannot be throttled and guided like the
more docile Teuton nature, that when it feels vividly it will express
itself, and that it can feel vividly, unselfishly in international
concerns. The Latin cannot be made to march in blind obedience into
the jaws of death. The piazza merely shouted what Italy had come to
feel, that Teutonic domination would be intolerable, that at all cost
the Austro-German ambitions must be checked, and the Latin tradition
vindicated and made to endure. It was proved by the marvelous content,
the fervid unanimity of patriotism that spread over Italy, once the
great decision had been made.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since those full May weeks the world has had an example of what no
doubt the Imperial Chancellor considers the suitable method of dealing
with popular sentiment. The sympathies of Greeks and Rumanians have
been, since the opening of the war, with the allied nations, yet
their Teutonized sovereigns have kept both countries from declaring
themselves in favor of the Allies. The King of Greece has stretched
the constitution to preserve a distasteful neutrality, which, if it
were not for the failure of the Allies to make impressive gains in
the first year of the war, would have doubtless cost him his crown.
The Balkan States are near enough the actual theater of war to suffer
acutely from fear, and a natural timidity worked upon by many German
agents, more successfully than Prince von Buelow, has thus far kept the
people of Rumania and Greece passive in a false neutrality. Bulgaria
is a fine example of the perfect working of the German method. The
piazza certainly had no hand in the intrigues of King Ferdinand of
Bulgaria. The representatives of his people urged him to maintain at
least neutrality, not to put the nation at war with its blood kin,
against its best interest. But the thing had all been "arranged"
between the German King of Bulgaria and the German Government through
"negotiation." Germany had been successful in buying the cooeperation
of Bulgaria as it tried to buy Italy's neutrality, at the expense of
Austria. There were other factors in the case of Bulgaria that worked
to the German advantage, but the method is clear. Not the voice of the
piazza, but the secret agreement of "responsible government," in other
words, the control of despotic, German rulers. Italy may well be proud
that she has a sovereign who faithfully interprets his responsibility of
rule in a constitutional state and executes the will of his people--who
listens also to the voice of the piazza, not merely to the arguments of
the foreign diplomat. And Italy may also be proud that the piazza spoke
at a dark hour in the Allies' cause, if not the darkest, when German
arms were prevailing in the East; if the dangers of German conquest were
not as close to Italy as with the Balkan States, they were not remote,
as German threats too plainly showed.

The Venezelos-Zaimis situation was impossible in Italy, though the
circumstances were almost parallel, with Salandra and Giolitti. The
piazza knew the deep Biblical truth, "He who is not for me is against
me," and execrated the professed _neutralista_ Giolitti. But the Greeks,
it seems, are more easily managed by a "strong" government and a German
king. The end, however, is not yet in sight. It remains to be seen
whether the path of prudent passivity is the safe one, even selfishly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why, after all, should we feel so apologetic for the voice of the piazza?
All popular government, even in the limited form of a constitutional
monarchy such as Italy, is a rough, uncertain affair. "The House of Savoy
rules by executing the will of the Italian people." Good! But how is that
popular will to be determined? Not, surely, by taking a poll of the five
hundred-odd Deputies of the Italian Parliament elected two years before
the world was upset by the Teuton desire to rule. Those Deputies were
chosen, as we Americans know only too well how, by mean intrigues of party
machines, by clever manipulation of trained politicians like Giovanni
Giolitti, who by their control of appointed servants--the prefects of the
provinces--can throw the elections as they will, can even disfranchise
unfriendly elements of the population. Manhood suffrage is not a precise,
a scientific method of getting at public opinion. It is possibly the least
accurate method of gauging the will of a people. Something other than the
poll is needed to resolve the will of a nation. And when that will is
determined it makes little odds what instrumentality expresses it. Even
the Giolittian Deputies, when brought to the urn for a secret vote on the
Salandra measures a week after the lively expression of popular will in
the piazza, voted--secretly--against their neutral leader, in favor of
war! They had been converted by the voice of the piazza--by other things
also in all likelihood. If their votes had been taken ten days before,
when Giolitti first arrived in Rome, the result would have been far
different: as Salandra and his colleagues knew. In the end the Italian
Parliament merely registered the will of the people, both men and women,
which expressed itself, as it always must, in diverse ways, through the
press, by the voice of the piazza, in public and private discussion,
flightily, weightily, passionately, timidly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Will, individual or collective, is a mysterious force. What enters into
that act of decision which results in will is never wholly apparent, from
the least to the gravest matters. And no scheme of government, which
admits the right of the individual citizen, plain and exalted alike,
to be heard and obeyed, has discovered a perfect way of polling this
collective will of the nation. Our electoral representative method and
majority vote is surely rough, though better than the Bulgarian way. That
right to vote, for which our women are so eagerly striving, as thinking
men realize only too well, is an empty privilege. The will of a people is
inaccurately registered, not made, by the vote. The voice of the piazza
when deep enough and strong enough is as good as any other way, perhaps,
of determining the collective will of a nation in a crisis; surely far
better than the secret way of Ferdinand of Bulgaria. Further, the reason
of the piazza on any vital fundamental matter, such as war, which means
life or death, is as sure as your intelligence or mine, possibly surer,
because the piazza, having less to lose or gain, feels and believes and
acts more simply, basically. The Roman piazza, the people of Italy,
reacted to the crime against Belgium, to the atrocities committed on
priests and women and children, to the murders of the Lusitania,--all
deeds of that ancient enemy whose barbarism had now reappeared, after
centuries, under an intellectual and sophisticated mask with a blasphemous
perversion of religious sanction. They reacted also, it might be, to their
own sense of personal danger from an unprotected frontier dividing them
from this unscrupulous enemy, to the wrongs of some thousands of Italians
condemned to live under Austrian rule and fight her battles against their
friends. They responded also to the glory of Garibaldi's Thousand, who had
liberated their fathers from foreign domination and made a nation out of
Italy, and they responded to the great past of their people from whom the
essential elements of what men know to-day as civilization has spread over
the world. All these emotions were hidden in that one cry,--"Out with the
barbarians!"

The voice of the piazza, with its simple unanimity, its childlike
psychology, came nearer to expressing the soul of Italy than the German
Chancellor can comprehend, than any sophisticated diplomat, who has
associated only with "thinking" and "leading" people, can believe. The
Latin soul of Italy which cursed its politician and thrilled at the words
of its poet! That soul of a people which is greater than any individual,
which somehow expresses itself more authoritatively through the simple
people who must suffer for their faiths than through the intellectuals
and the protected members of a society....

"_Viva Italia!_" the tanned conscript leaning from the car window at
Subiaco shouted back to his friends and home. And the old men and girls
left in the fields raised their hats as the train passed and shouted in
reply,--"_Viva Italia!_" It was not English gold, nor the desire for
Trent and Trieste, that brought that cry to the boy's lips!




V


_Italy Decides_

Whatever one may think of the piazza voice, whether the disposition is
to sneer with the German or to trust with the democrat in its spontaneous
expression, it is a matter of history now that Italy's decision had been
made before the question came to a vote in the Chamber of Deputies, a
fortnight or more before the reluctant ambassadors of the ex-Alliance
backed into their waiting trains and departed homeward across the Alps.
It is a significant fact of personal psychology that the crisis of a
decision takes place before action results to calm the disturbed mind. So
it was with Italy. Her decision had really been taken when the Lusitania
sank, when the politician, in face of this fresh outrage, advised the
safer course of neutrality, which would amount to a connivance with her
former associates in their predatory programme. _Traditore!_ meant but
one thing--a betrayal of the nation's soul. In the light of more recent
events, since Italy entered the war, there are probably many Italians who
secretly wish that the safer counsel had prevailed, that, like Greece and
Rumania, Italy had "preserved a benevolent neutrality" in the great war,
even possibly that she had concluded to make her bed in the Teutonic camp.
If the world is to be Teutonized, they would argue, why put one's head in
the wolf's jaw! There are prudent people of that stripe in every nation,
but since the end of May they have kept silence in Italy. And it should be
forever remembered to her honor that Italy made her decision in face of
Teutonic successes. If the military situation did not look so black for
the Allies at the end of May as it does this December, it looked black
enough with the crumbling Russian resistance before Mackensen's phalanx.
Neuve Chapelle had been a costly and empty victory. There had been no
successful drive in Champagne and Artois to encourage those who bet only
on winning cards. There were heavy clouds in the east, merely a sad
silence along the western wall. It was long past Easter, when England
had boastfully expected to open the Dardanelles and the truth was
beginning to appear that Constantinople might never be reached by the
allied operations in Gallipoli. Italy threw in her lot with the Allies
in a dark hour, if not the darkest.

The great decision which had lain in solution in the hearts of the
people was evoked by events and made vocal by the flaming words of
D'Annunzio, interpreted by a faithful king, who resisted the temptation
to dethrone himself by calling Germany's hired man to power, and finally
registered by the Deputies at Montecitorio on May 19. It was virtually
made, I say, the tumultuous week that came on the resignation of the
Salandra Government. What followed the return of the ministry to power
was merely automatic, as peaceful as any day's routine. Parliament was
called to meet on Wednesday, the 19th. The Sunday afternoon before, the
piazza, and the palace and all other elements of Roman citizenship met
in a great gathering of content and consecration at the foot of the
Pincian Hill in the Piazza del Popolo, again the day after in the
Campidolgio above the Forum. How fortunate a people are to have such
hallowed places of meeting, steeped in associations of great events!

It was a warm, brilliant, sunny day, that Sunday, and in the afternoon
every one in Rome, it seemed, was as near the Piazza del Popolo as he
could get. The meeting was addressed by a number of well-known Romans
of varied political affiliations. But the high note of all the speeches
was a fervid patriotism and harmony. Rome was calm, believing that it had
chosen nobly if not wisely. On the Campidolgio, D'Annunzio again sounded
the tocsin of the heroic Thousand, and lauded the army which had been
belittled by the followers of Giolitti. Already the troops were leaving
Rome.... Then Parliament opened. The meeting of the Deputies if memorable
was short. The square and streets about Montecitorio had been carefully
cleared and held empty by cordons of troops. There was to be no shouting,
no demonstration within hearing of Parliament. Long before midday the
Chamber was crowded with all the notables who could gain admission. The
proceedings were extremely brief, formal. All knew that the die had been
cast: what remained was for the army to accomplish. The Premier Salandra
made a brief statement summarizing the diplomatic efforts that his
Government had undertaken to reach a satisfactory understanding with
Austria, the record of which could be followed in the "Green Book,"
which was then given to the public. He informed the Chamber, what was
generally known, that the Triple Alliance had already been denounced on
the 5th of May, and he offered a "project of law," which was tantamount
to a vote of confidence in the Government and which also gave the King
and his ministers power to make war and to govern the country during the
period of war without the intervention of Parliament. It thus authorized
both the past acts of the Salandra Ministry and its future course. The
measure, undebated, was voted on secretly. And it is significant that of
more than five hundred Deputies present only seventy-two voted in the
negative. Of these seventy-two who voted against the Government, some
were out-and-out _neutralistas_, and some few were Socialists who had
the courage of their convictions. The great majority of the Giolittians
must have voted for war. Had they seen a great light since the piazza
raised its voice, since their leader had fallen from his high place?
Possibly they had never been with Giolitti on this vital national
question. At least, the fact illustrates how representative government
does roughly perform the will of its people when that will is clear
enough and passionate enough: the will registers itself even through
unwilling instruments.

After the vote had been taken, the Chamber adjourned, and when the
following day the Senate ratified, unanimously, the action of the
Chamber of Deputies, Parliament was dissolved. Many of the members
enlisted and went to the front. Since the end of May Italy has been
autocratically governed. The decrees of the King and his ministers
are law--an efficient method of governing a country at war, avoiding
those legislative intrigues that latterly have threatened the concord
of France.

It is noteworthy that the Italian Senate voted unanimously for war.
The Senate is not an elective body. It is composed of dignitaries, old,
conservative men from the successful classes of the nation, who are not
easily swayed by the emotions of the piazza. From this unrepresentative
body might have been expected a show of resistance to the Government's
measure, if, as Giolitti and the German party asserted, there was a
serious sentiment in the country in favor of neutrality which had been
howled down by the mobs. It is inconceivable that such a body could have
been completely cowed by rioting in the streets. The unanimous vote of
the Italian Senators is sufficient refutation of the Bethmann-Hollweg
slur.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I crossed the Piazza Colonna the morning Parliament opened, my
attention was caught by a small crowd before a billboard. First one,
then another passer-by stopped, read something affixed there, and,
smiling or laughing, passed on his way. In the center of the board was
a small black-bordered sheet of paper, with all the mourning emblems,
precisely resembling those mortuary announcements which Latin countries
employ. It read: "Giovanni Giolitti, this day taken to himself by the
Devil, lamented by his faithful friends"; and there followed a list of
noted Giolittians, some of whom even then were voting for war with
Austria. A bit of Roman ribaldry, specimen of that ebullition of the
piazza disdained by the German Chancellor; nevertheless, it must have
bit through the hide of the politician, who for the sake of his safety
was not among the Deputies voting at Montecitorio. Later I read in a
Paris newspaper that Giolitti was to spend the summer as far away from
the disturbance of war as he could get, in the Pyrenees, but it was
rumored in Paris that the French Government, having intimated to its
new ally that it did not wish to harbor Giolitti, the Italian politician
was forced to remain at home. I believe that once since the "Caro Carlo"
letter he has spoken to his countrymen, a patriotic interview in which
he announced that he had been converted to the necessity of the war with
Austria! Thus even the politician comes to see light. But Giovanni
Giolitti, as the black-bordered card said, is dead politically.

       *       *       *       *       *

With the votes of Parliament the Roman part in the drama, the
civil part, was ended. Rome began to empty fast of soldiers, officers,
officials. The scene had shifted to the north, where the hearts of all
Italians were centered. There was a singular calm in the city. One
other memorable meeting should be recorded, on the Saturday afternoon
following the Parliamentary decision. If popular manifestations count
for anything, the dense throng in the Campidolgio and later the same
afternoon before the Quirinal Palace demonstrated the enthusiasm with
which the certainty of war with Austria was accepted.

There are few lovelier spots on earth than the little square of the
Campidolgio on the Capitoline Hill and none more laden with memories
of a long past. Led by a sure instinct the people of Rome crowded up
the steep passages that led to the crest of the hill, by tens of
thousands. In this hour of the New Resurrection of Italy, the people
sought the hearthstone of ancient Rome on the Capitoline. About the
pillars of the Cancelleria, which stands on Roman foundations, up the
long flight of steps leading to the Aracoeli, even under the belly of
the bronze horse in the center of the square, Italians thrust themselves.
Rome was never more beautiful than that afternoon. Little fleecy clouds
were floating across the deep blue sky. The vivid green of the cypresses
on the slope below were stained with the red and white of blooming roses.
In the distance swam the dome of St. Peter's, across the bend of the
Tiber, and through the rift between the crowded palaces one might look
down upon the peaceful Forum. The birthplace of the nation! Here it was
that the people, the decision having been made to play their part in the
destiny of the new world now in the making, came to rejoice. The spirit
of the throng was entirely festal. And these were the people, working-men
and their wives and mothers from the dark corners of old Rome, neither
hoodlums nor aristocracy, the people whose men for the most part were
already joining the colors.

The flags of the unredeemed provinces together with the Italian
flag were borne through the crowd up the steps of the municipal palace
to wave beside Prince Colonna, as he appeared from within the palace.
Mayor of Rome, he had that afternoon resigned his position in order to
join the army with his sons. Handsome, with a Roman face that reminded
one of the portrait busts of his ancestors in the Capitoline Museum
close by, he stood silent above the great multitude. The time for oratory
had passed. He raised his hands and shouted with a full voice--"_Viva
Italia!_" and was silent. It was as if one of the conscript fathers had
returned to his city to pronounce a benediction upon the act of his
descendants. The people repeated the cry again and again, then broke
into the beautiful words of Mameli's "L'Inno,"--"_Fratelli d' Italia._"

Then the gathering turned to cross the city to the Quirinal, where the
King had promised to meet them. The way led past one of the two Austrian
embassies in the Piazza Venezia--a danger spot throughout the agitation;
but this afternoon the crowd streamed by without swerving, intent on
better things. On the Quirinal Hill, between the royal palace and the
Consulta, where the diplomatic conferences are held, the people packed
in again. The roofs of the neighboring palaces were lined with spectators
and every window except those of the royal palace was filled with faces.
On the balcony above the palace gate some footmen were arranging a red
velvet hanging. Then the royal family stepped out from the room behind.
The King, with his little son at his side, stood bareheaded while the
crowd cheered. On his other side were the Queen and her two daughters.
King Victor, whose face was very grave, bowed repeatedly to the cheering
people, but said no word. The little prince stared out into the crowd
with serious intensity, as if he already knew that what was being done
these days might well cost him his father's throne. The people cried
again and again,--_"Viva Italia, viva il re"_; also more rarely, _"Imperio
Romano!"_ At the end the King spoke, merely,--_"Viva Italia, mi!"_

Perhaps the presence of the German and the Austrian Ambassadors,
who that very hour were at the Consulta vainly trying to arrange a
bargain, restrained the King from saying more to his people then.
Possibly he felt that the occasion was beyond any words. His face was
set and worn. The full passion of the decision had passed through him.
His people had desired war, and he had faithfully followed their will.
Yet he more than any one in that crowd must know the terrible risk, the
awful cost of this war. Those national aspirations for which his country
was to strive,--Trent and Trieste, Istraia and the Dalmatian coast, in
all a few hundred miles of territory, a few millions of people,--the
well informed were saying would cost one hundred and fifty thousand
Italian soldiers a month, to pick the locks that Austria had put along
her Alpine frontier! No wonder the King of Italy met his people after
the great decision in solemn mood.

       *       *       *       *       *

The crowd melted from the Quirinal Square in every direction, content.
Some stopped to cheer in front of the Ministry of War, which these days
and nights was busy as a factory working overtime and night shifts.
People were reading the newspapers, which in default of more vivid news
contained copious extracts from the "Libro Verde." Yet the "Green Book"
was not even now completed!

The politician had spoken, the poet had said his fiery word to the
people, the piazza had hurled its will, Parliament had acted and gone
its way, the army staff was hastening north. Yet the Austrian Ambassador
and his German colleague had not taken the trains waiting for them outside
the Porta Pia with steam up. It was a mystery why they were lingering on
in a country on the verge of hostilities, where they were so obviously
not wanted any longer. Daily since Parliament had voted they had been at
the Consulta--were there now in this solemn hour of understanding between
the King and his people! Singly and together they were conferring with
Baron Sonnino and the Premier. What were they offering? We know now that
at this last moment of the eleventh hour Austria had wakened to the real
gravity of the situation, and with Teutonic pertinacity and Teutonic
dullness of perception made her first real offer--the immediate cession
and occupation of the ceded territories she had set as her maximum, a
thing she had refused all along to consider, insisting that the transfer
be deferred to the vague settlement time of the "Peace." I do not know
that if she had frankly started the negotiations with this essential
concession, it would have made any real difference. I think not. Her
maximum was insufficient: it nowhere provided for that defensible
frontier, and it was but a meager satisfaction of those other aspirations
of nationality which she despised. It still left a good many Italians
outside of the national fold, and it still left Italy exposed to whatever
strong hand might gain control on the east shores of the Adriatic. At all
events, in this last moment of the eleventh hour, if the ambassadors had
been authorized to yield all that Baron Sonnino had begun by asking, it
would not have kept Italy from the war--now.

Elsewhere I have dealt with the legal and strategic questions involved
in the "Green Book." These diplomatic briefs, White or Yellow or Orange
or Green, seem more important at the moment than in perspective. They
are all we observers have of definite reason to think upon. But nations
do not go to war for the reasons assigned in them--nothing is clearer
than that. Like the lengthy briefs in some famous law case, they are
but the intellectual counters that men use to mask their passions, their
instincts, their faiths. According to the briefs both sides should win
and neither. And the blanks between the lines of these diplomatic briefs
are often more significant than the printed words.

While Baron Macchio and Prince von Buelow, the Ballplatz and
Friedrichstrasse, Baron Sonnino and his colleagues were making the
substance of the "Green Book," the people of Italy were deciding the
momentous question on their own grounds. The spirit of all Italy was
roused. Italian patriotism gave the answer.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Viva Italia!_" the boy conscript shouted, leaning far out of the
car window in a last look at the familiar fields and roof of his
native village. "_Viva Italia!_" the King of Italy cried, and his
people responded with a mighty shout,--"_Viva Italia!_" What do they
mean? In the simplest, the most primitive sense they mean literally
the earth, the trees, the homes they have always known--the physical
body of the mother country. And this primal love of the earth that
has borne you and your ancestors seems to me infinitely stronger,
more passionate with the European than with the American. We roam:
our frontiers are still horizons.... But even for the simple peasant
lad, joining the colors to fight for his country, patriotism is
something more complex than love of native soil. It is love of life
as he has known it, its tongue, its customs, its aspects. It is love
of the religion he has known, of the black or brown or yellow-haired
mother he knows--of the women of his race, of the men of his race,
and their kind.

Deeper yet, scarce conscious to the simple instinctive man, patriotism
is belief in the tradition that has made you what you are, in the ideal
that your ancestors have seeded in you of what life should be. Therefore,
patriotism is the better part of man, his ideal of life woven in with
his tissue. Men have always fought for these things,--for their own
earth, for their own kind, for their own ideal,--and they will continue
to give their blood for them as long as they are men, until wrong and
unreason and aggression are effaced from the earth. The pale concept
of internationalism, whether a class interest of the worker or an
intellectual ideal of total humanity, cannot maintain itself before
the passion of patriotism, as this year of fierce war has proved beyond
discussion.

Italian patriotism, which in the last analysis Italy evinced in
making war against Austria, was composed of all three elements. Italian
patriotism is loyalty to the Italian tradition, hence to the Latin ideal
which is fighting a death battle with the Teutonic tradition and ideal.
Teutonism--militaristic, efficient, materialistic, unimaginative,
unindividual--has challenged openly the world. Italy responded nobly
to that challenge.




VI


_The Eve of the War_

Rome became still, so still as to be oppressive. Her heart was
elsewhere,--in the north whither the King was about to go. Rome, like
all the war capitals, having played her part must relapse more and more
into a state of waiting and watching, stirred occasionally by rumors and
rejoicings. The streets were empty, for all men of military age had gone
and others had returned to their normal occupations. Officers hurried
toward the station in cabs with their boxes piled before them. And the
sound of marching troops also on the way to the station did not cease at
once.

Saturday, the 22d of May, I took the night express for Venice. The
train of first- and second-class coaches was longer than usual, filled
with officers rejoining their regiments which had already gone north
in the slower troop trains. There were also certain swarthy persons
in civilian garb, whom it took no great divination to recognize as
secret police agents. The spy mania had begun. Theirs was the hopeless
task of sorting out civilian enemies from nationals, which, thanks to
the complexity of modern international relations, is like picking
needles from a haystack. My papers, however, were all in order, and
so far there had been no restrictions on travel; in fact no military
zone had been declared, because as yet there was no war! When would
the declaration come? In another week? I settled myself comfortably
in my corner opposite a stout captain who rolled himself in his gray
cloak and went to sleep. Other officers wandered restlessly to and fro
in the corridor outside, discussing the coming war. It was a heavenly
summer night. The Umbrian Hills swam before us in the clear moonlight
as the train passed north over the familiar, beautiful route. If
Germany should strike from behind at Milan, exposing the north of
Italy? One shuddered. After Belgium Germany was capable of any attack,
and Germany was expected then to go with her ally.

One thing was evident over and above the beauty of the moonlit country
through which we were rushing at a good pace, and that was the remarkable
improvement in Italian railroading since my last visit to Italy a dozen
years before. This was a modern rock-ballasted, double-tracked roadbed,
which accounted in part for the rapidity and ease of the troop movements
these last months. The ordinary passenger traffic had scarcely been
interrupted even now on the eve of war. The terrors of the mobilization
period, thanks to Italy's efficient preparation, were unfounded. It spoke
well for Italy at war. It was a sign of her economic development, her
modernization. Even Germany had not gone into the business of war more
methodically, more efficiently. Italy, to be sure, had nine months for
her preparation, but to one who remembered the country during the
Abyssinian expedition, time alone would not explain the improvement.

The railroad stations at Florence and Bologna were under military
control, the quays patrolled, the exits guarded, the buildings stuffed
with soldiers. I could see their sleeping forms huddled in the straw
of the cattle cars on the sidings, also long trains of artillery and
supplies. Shortly after daylight the guards pulled down our shutters
and warned us against looking out of the windows for the remainder of
the journey. A childish precaution, it seemed, which the officers
constantly disregarded. But when I peeped at the sunny fields of the
flat Lombard plain, one of the swarthy men in civilian black leaned
over and firmly pulled down the shade. Italy was taking her war
seriously.

At Mestre we lost the officers: they were going north to Udine
and--beyond. The almost empty train rolled into the Venetian station
only an hour late. The quay outside the station was strangely silent,
with none of that noisy crew of boatmen trying to capture arriving
_forestieri._ They had gone to the war. One old man, the figure of
Charon on his dingy poop, sole survivor of the gay tribe, took me
aboard and ferried me through the network of silent canals toward the
piazza. Dismantled boats lay up along the waterways, the windows of the
palaces were tightly shuttered, and many bore paper signs of renting.
"The Austrians," Charon laconically informed me. It would seem that
Venice had been almost an Austrian possession, so much emptiness was
left at her flight. But within the little squares and along the winding
stony lanes between the ancient palaces, Venice was alive with citizens
and soldiers--and very much herself for the first time in many centuries.
The famous piazza recalled the processional pictures of Guardi. Only the
companies of soldiers that marched through it on their way to the station
were not gorgeously robed: they were in dirty gray with heavy kits on
their backs. The bronze horses were being lowered from St. Mark's, one
of them poised in midair with his ramping legs in a sling. Inside the
church a heavy wooden truss had been put in place to strengthen the arch
of gleaming mosaics. There was a tall hoarding of fresh boards along the
water side of the Ducal Palace, and the masons were fast filling in the
arches with brick supports. Venice was putting herself in readiness for
the enemy. Even the golden angel on the new Campanile had been shrouded
in black in order that she might not attract a winged monster by her
gleam. From many a palace roof aerial guns were pointed to the sky, and
squads of soldiers patrolled the platforms that had been hastily built
to hold them.

Out at San Niccolo da Lido, where I supped at a little _osteria_
beneath the trees, a number of gray torpedo boats rushed to and fro
in the harbor entrance, restless as hunting dogs straining at the
leash. That night Venice was dark, so black that one stumbled from
wall to wall along the narrow lanes in the search for his own doorway.
War was close at hand: the menace of it, a few miles, a few hours
only away, across the blue Adriatic, at Pola. In order to understand
the significance of frontiers an American should be in Venice on the
eve of war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some hours later I awoke startled from a heavy sleep, the
reverberation of a dream ringing in my ears. It was not yet dawn.
In the gray-blue light outside the birds were wheeling in frightened
circles above the garden below my balcony. Mingled in my dreams with
the disturbing noise was the song of a nightingale--and then there came
another dull, thunderous explosion, followed immediately by the long
whine and shriek of sirens at the arsenal, also the crackle of machine
guns from all sides. Now I realized what it meant. It was war. The
Austrians had taken this way to acknowledge Italy's defiance. The enemy
had threatened to destroy Venice, and this was their first attempt. Above
the sputter of the machine guns and the occasional explosions of shrapnel
could be distinguished the buzz of an aeroplane that moment by moment
approached nearer. Soon the machine itself became visible, flying oddly
enough from the land direction, not from the Adriatic. It flew high and
directly, across Venice, aiming apparently for the arsenal, the Lido,
the open sea.

It was an unreality, that little winged object aloft like a large
aerial beetle buzzing busily through the still gray morning sky, heading
straight with human intelligence in a set line, bent on destruction. The
bombs could not be seen as they fell, of course, but while I gazed into
the heavens another thunderous explosion came from near by, which I took
to be the aviator's bomb, distinguished by the sharpness of its explosion
from the anti-aircraft bombardment. Other guns along the route of the
enemy took up the attack, then gradually all became silent once more.
Only the cries of the frightened birds circling above the garden and the
voices of the awakened inhabitants could be heard. From every window and
balcony half-dressed people watched the flight of the monoplane until it
had disappeared in the vague dawn beyond St. Mark's.

In another half-hour the sirens shrieked again and the machine gun
on the roof of the Papadopoli Palace just below on the Grand Canal
began to sputter. This time every one knew what it meant and there
was a large gathering on the balconies and in the little squares to
witness the arrival of the hostile aeroplane. It was another monoplane
coming from the same land direction, flying much lower than the first
one, so low that its hooded aviator could be distinguished and the
bands of color across the belly of the car. It skirted the city toward
the Adriatic more cautiously. Later it was rumored that the second
aeroplane had been brought down in the lagoons and its men captured.

Thereafter no one tried to sleep: the little Venetian bridges and
passages were filled with talking people, and rumors of the damage
done began to come in. Eleven bombs in all were dropped on this first
attack, killing nobody and doing no serious harm, except possibly at
the arsenal where one fell. I was at the local police station when
one of the unexploded bombs was brought in. It was of the incendiary
type containing petroleum. Also there had been picked up somewhere in
the canals the half of a Munich newspaper, which seemed to indicate,
although there was nothing of special significance in the sheet, that
the monoplane was German rather than Austrian. Yet Germany had not yet
declared war on Italy. But was it not the German Kaiser who had threatened
to destroy Italy's art treasures? Were not the German armies in Flanders
and France making war against defenceless, unmilitary monuments?

       *       *       *       *       *

I realized now the necessity of those preparations to guard the
treasures of Venice, priceless and irreplaceable--why the Belle Arti
had been emptied, and the Colleoni trussed with an ugly wooden framework.
But little at the best could be done to protect Venice herself, which lies
exposed in all her fragile loveliness to the attacks of the new Vandals.
The delicate palaces,--already crumbling from age,--the marvelous facade
of the Ducal Palace with its lustrous color, the leaning _campanili_, the
little churches filled with noble monuments to its great ones,--all were
helpless before an aerial attack, or shelling from warships. Nothing could
save Venice from even a slight bombardment, quite apart from such pounding
as the Germans have given Rheims, or Arras, or Ypres. At the first hostile
blow Venice would sink into the sea, a mass of ruins, returning thus
bereaved to her ancient bridegroom.

Italy is aware of the vengeful warfare she must expect. Great
preparations for the defense of Venice have been made. The city might
be ruined; it could not be taken. The gray destroyers moving in and
out past the Zattere contrasted strangely with the tiny gondolas shaped
like pygmy triremes. It was the mingling of two worlds,--the world of
the gondola, the marble palace of the doges, of the jeweled church of
St. Mark's, and the world of the torpedo boat and the aerial bomb,--the
world as man is making it to-day. The old Venetians were good fighters,
to be sure, not to say quarrelsome. War was never long absent, as may
easily be realized from the great battle-pieces in the Ducal Palace.
But war then was more the rough play of boisterous children than the
slaughterous, purely destructive thing that modern men have made it. And
when those old Venetians were not fighting, they were building greatly,
beautifully, lovingly: they were making life resplendent.

That awakening in the early dawn into the modern world of distant
enemies and secret deadly missiles was unforgettable. Some one showed
me a steel arrow which had been dropped within the arsenal, a small,
sharpened, nail-like thing that would transfix a body from head to feet.
These arrows are dumped over by the thousands to fall where they will.
That little machine a mile and more aloft in the sky, busily buzzing
its way across the heavens, is the true symbol of war today, not face
to face except on rare occasions, but hellish in its impersonal will
to destroy.

       *       *       *       *       *

A wonderful day dawned on Venice after the departure of the hostile
aeroplanes, a day among days, and all the Venetians were abroad. The
attack which brought home the actual dangers to them did not seem to
dull their lively spirits. They were busy in the quaint aquatic manner
of Venice. The little shops were full of people, the boatmen reviled
one another in the narrow canals as they squeezed past, the _vaporetti_
and the motor-boats snorted up and down the Grand Canal.

Venice seemingly had accepted her liability to night attack as a new
condition of her peculiar life.

There were more soldiers than ever moving in the narrow, winding
footpaths, the restaurants were full of officers in fresh uniforms.
On the water-front beyond the Salute there was much movement among
the destroyers. One of these gray seabirds went out at midnight, when
war was declared, and took a small Austrian station on the Adriatic.
They brought back some prisoners and booty which seemed to interest
the Venetians more than the hostile aeroplanes.

Yet with all this warlike activity it was hard to realize the fact
of war in Italy, to remember that just over the low line of the Lido
the hostile fleets were looking for each other in the Adriatic, that
a few miles to the north the attack had begun all along the twisting
frontier, that the first caravan of the wounded had started for Padua.
As I floated that afternoon over the lagoons past the Giudecca, and
the blue Euganean Hills rose out of the gray mist that seems ever to
hang on the Venetian horizon, it was impossible to believe in the fact,
to realize that all this human beauty around me, the slow accumulation
of the ages of the finest work of man, was in danger of eternal
destruction. Venice rose from the green sea water like the city of
enchantment that Turner so often painted. Venice was never so lovely,
so wholly the palace of enchantment as she was then, stripped of all
the tourist triviality and vulgarity that she usually endures at this
season. It was Venice left to her ancient self in this hour of her
danger. She was like a marvelous, fragile, still beautiful great lady,
so delicate that the least violence might kill her! In this dying light
of the day she was already something unearthly, on the extreme marge
of our modern world....

That evening the restaurant windows were covered tight with shutters
and heavy screens before the doors. The waiter put a candle in a saucer
before your plate and you ate your food in this wavering light. There
was not the usual temptation to linger in the piazza after dinner, for
the cafes were all sealed against a betraying gleam of light and the
Venetian public had taken to heart the posted advice to stay within
doors and draw their wooden shutters. As I entered my room, the moon
was rising behind the Salute, throwing its light across the Canal on to
the walls of the palaces opposite. The soft night was full of murmuring
voices, for Venice is the most vocal of cities. The people were exchanging
views across their waterways from darkened house to house, speculating on
the chances of another aerial raid tonight. They were making salty jokes
about their enemies in the Venetian manner. The moonlight illuminated the
broad waterway beneath my window with its shuttered palaces as if it were
already day. A solitary gondola came around the bend of the Canal and its
boatman began to sing one of the familiar songs that once was bawled from
illuminated barges on spring nights like this, for the benefit of the
tourists in the hotels. To-night he was singing it for himself, because
of the soft radiance of the night, because of Venice. His song rose from
the silver ripple of the waves below, and in the little garden behind the
nightingale began to sing. Had he also forgotten the disturber of this
morning and opened his heart in the old way to the moonlight May night
and to Venice?

       *       *       *       *       *

The enemy did not return that night, the moon gave too clear a light.
But a few evenings later, when the sky was covered with soft clouds,
there was an alarm and the guns mounted on the palace roofs began again
bombarding the heavens. This time the darkness was shot by comet-like
flashes of light, and the exploding shells gave a strange pyrotechnic
aspect to the battle in the air. Again the enemy fled across the Adriatic
without having done any special damage. Only a few old houses in the
poorer quarter near the arsenal were crumbled to dust.

Since that first week of the war the aeroplane attacks upon Venice
have been repeated a number of times, and though the bombs have fallen
perilously near precious things, until the Tiepolo frescoes in the
Scalsi church were ruined, no great harm had been done. The military
excuse--if after Rheims and Arras the Teuton needed an excuse--is the
great arsenal in Venice. The real reason, of course, is that Venice is
the most easily touched, most precious of all Italian treasure cities,
and the Teuton, as a French general said to me, wages war not merely
upon soldiers, but also upon women and children and monuments. It is
vengefulness, lust of destruction, that tempts the Austrian aeroplanes
across the Adriatic--the essential spirit of the barbarian which the
Latin abhors.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are some things in this world that can never be replaced once
destroyed, and Venice is one of them. And there are some things greater
than power, efficiency, and all _kaiserliche Kultur_. Such is Italy
with its ever-renewed, inexhaustible youth, its treasure of deathless
beauty. As I passed through the fertile fields on my way from Venice
to Milan and the north, I understood as never before the inner reason
for Italy's entering the war. The heritage of beauty, of humane
civilization,--the love of freedom for the individual, the golden mean
between liberty and license that is the Latin inheritance,--all this
compelled young Italy to fight, not merely for her own preservation,
but also for the preservation of these things in the world against the
force that would destroy. The spirit that created the Latin has not
died. "We would not be an Inn, a Museum," the poet said, and at the
risk of all her jewels Italy bravely defied the enemy across the Alps.
This war on which she had embarked after nine long months of preparation
is no mere adventure after stolen land, as the Germans would have it: it
is a fight unto death between two opposed principles of life.

"He who is not for me is against me." There is no possible neutrality
on the greater issues of life.




PART TWO--FRANCE


I


_The Face of Paris_

I shall never forget the poignant impression that Paris made on me that
first morning in early June when I descended from the train at the Gare
de Lyon. After a time I came to accept the new aspect of things as normal,
to forget what Paris had been before the war, but as with persons so with
places the first impression often gives a deeper, keener insight into
character than repeated contacts. I knew that the German invasion, which
had swept so close to the city in the first weeks of the war, and which
after all the anxious winter months was still no farther than an hour's
motor ride from Paris, must have wrought a profound change in this, the
most personal of cities. One read of the scarcity of men on the streets,
of the lack of cabs, of shuttered shops, of women and girls performing
the ordinary tasks of men, of the ever-rising tide of convalescent
wounded, etc. But no written words are able to convey the whole meaning
of things: one must see with one's own eyes, must feel subconsciously
the many details that go to make truth.

When the long train from Switzerland pulled into the station there
were enough old men and boys to take the travelers' bags, which is
not always the case these war times when every sort of worker has
much more than two hands can do. There were men waiters in the station
restaurant where I took my morning coffee. It is odd how quickly one
scanned these protected workers with the instinctive question--"Why
are you too not fighting for your country?" But if not old or decrepit,
it was safe to say that these civilian workers were either women or
foreigners--Greeks, Balkans, or Spanish, attracted to Paris by
opportunities for employment. For the entire French nation was
practically mobilized, including women and children, so much of the
daily labor was done by them. The little cafe was full of men,--almost
every one in some sort of uniform,--drinking their coffee and scanning
the morning papers. Everybody in Paris seemed to read newspapers all
day long,--the cabmen as they drove, the passers-by as they walked
hastily on their errands, the waiters in the cafes,--and yet they
told so little of what was going on _la-bas!_.... The silence in the
restaurant seemed peculiarly dead. A gathering of Parisians no matter
where, as I remembered, was rarely silent, a French cafe never. But I
soon realized that one of the significant aspects of the new France
since the war was its taciturnity, its silence. Almost all faces were
gravely preoccupied with the national task, and whatever their own
small part in it might be, it was too serious a matter to encourage
chattering, gesticulating, or disputing in the pleasant Latin way.

Will the French ever recover wholly their habit of free, careless,
expressive speech? Of all the peoples under the trials of this war
they have become by general report the most sternly, grimly silent.
Compared with them the English, deemed by nature taciturn, have
become almost hysterically voluble. They complain, apologize, accuse,
recriminate. Each new manifestation of Teutonic strategy has evoked
from the English a flood of outraged comment. But from the beginning
the French have wasted no time on such _betise_ as they would call
it: they have put all their energies into their business, which as
every French creature knows is to fight this war through to a triumphant
end--and not talk. An extraordinary reversal of national temperaments
that! From the mobilization hour it was the same thing: every Frenchman
knew what it meant, the hour of supreme trial for his country, and he
went about his part in it with set face, without the beating of drums,
and he has kept that mood since. Henri Lavedan, in a little sketch of
the reunion between a _poilu_, on leave after nine months' absence in
the trenches, and his wife, has caught this significant note. The good
woman has gently reproached her husband for not being more talkative,
not telling her any of his experiences. The soldier says,--"One doesn't
talk about it, little one, one does it. And he who talks war doesn't
fight.... Later, I'll tell you, after, when _it_ is signed!"

       *       *       *       *       *

There were plenty of cabs and taxis on the streets by the time I
reached Paris, rather dangerously driven by strangers ignorant of the
ramifications of the great city and of the complexities of motor engines.
Most of the tram-lines were running, and the metro gave full service
until eleven at night, employing many young women as conductors--and
they made neat, capable workers. Many of the shops, especially along
the boulevards, were open for a listless business, although the shutters
were often up, with the little sign on them announcing that the place was
closed because the _patron_ was mobilized. And there was a steady stream
of people on the sidewalks of all main thoroughfares,--at least while
daylight lasted, for the streets emptied rapidly after dark when a dim
lamp at the intersection of streets gave all the light there was--quite
brilliant to me after the total obscurity of Venice at night! But my
French and American friends, who had lived in Paris all through the
crisis before the battle of the Marne,--with the exodus of a million
or so inhabitants streaming out along the southern routes, the dark,
empty, winter streets,--found Paris almost normal. The restaurants were
going, the hotels were almost all open, except the large ones on the
Champs Elysees that had been transformed into hospitals. At noon one
would find something like the old frivol in the Ritz Restaurant,--large
parties of much-dressed and much-eating women. For the parasites were
fluttering back or resting on their way to and from the Riviera,
Switzerland, New York, and London. The Opera Comique gave several
performances of familiar operas each week, rendered patriotic by the
recitation of the _Marseillaise_ by Madame Chenal clothed in the national
colors with a mighty Roman sword with which to emphasize "_Aux armes,
citoyens!_" The Francaise also was open several times a week and some
of the smaller theaters as well as the omnipresent cinema shows,
advertising reels fresh from the front by special permission of the
general staff.

The cafes along the boulevards did a fair business every afternoon,
but there was a striking absence of uniforms in them owing to the strict
enforcement of the posted regulations against selling liquor to soldiers.
That and the peremptory closing of cafes and restaurants at ten-thirty
reminded the stranger that Paris was still an "entrenched camp" under
military law with General Gallieni as governor.... The number of women
one saw at the cafes, sitting listlessly about the little tables, usually
without male companions, indicated one of the minor miseries of the great
war. For the _midinette_ and the _femme galante_ there seemed nothing to
do. A paternal government had found occupation and pay for all other
classes of women, also a franc and a half a day for the soldier's wife
or mother, but the daughter of joy was left very joyless indeed, with the
cold misery of a room from which she could not be evicted "_pendant la
guerre._" They haunted the cafes, the boulevards,--ominous, pitiful
specters of the manless world the war was making.

Hucksters' carts lined the side streets about the Marche Saint-Honore
as usual, and I could not see that prices of food had risen abnormally
in spite of complaints in the newspapers and the discussion about
cold storage in the Chamber of Deputies. Restaurant portions were
parsimonious and prices high as usual, but the hotels made specially
low rates, "_pendant la guerre,_" which the English took advantage of
in large numbers. The Latin Quarter seemed harder hit by the war than
other quarters, emptier, as at the end of a long vacation; around the
Arch there was a subdued movement as between seasons. The people were
there, but did not show themselves. One went to a simple dinner _a la
guerre_ at an early hour. All, even purely fashionable persons, were
too much occupied by grave realities and duties to make an effort for
forms and ceremonies. Life suddenly had become terribly uncomplex, even
for the sophisticated. In these surface ways living in Paris was like
going back a century or so to a society much less highly geared than
the one we are accustomed to. I liked it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Even at its busiest hours Paris gave a peculiar sense of emptiness,
hard to account for when all about men and women and vehicles were
moving, when it was best to look carefully before crossing the streets.
It could not be due wholly to the absence of men and the diminution of
business--there was at least half of the ordinary volume of movement.
Nor was it altogether a cessation of that soft roar of traffic which
ordinarily enveloped Paris day and night. It was not exactly like Paris
on Sunday--except in the rue de la Paix--as I remembered Paris Sundays.
No, it was something quite new--the physical expression of that inner
silence, of that tenacity of mute will which I read in all the faces
that passed me. Paris was living within, or beyond--_la-bas_, all along
those hundreds of miles of earth walls from Flanders to the Vosges,
where for nine months their men had faced the invader.

Most of the women one met were in black, almost every one wearing some
sort of mourning, for there was scarcely a family in France that had
not already paid its toll of life, many several times over. But the
faces of these women in black were calm and dry-eyed: there were few
outward signs of grief other than the mourning clothes, just an enduring
silence. "The time for our mourning is not yet," a Frenchman said whose
immediate family circle had given seven of its members. With some, one
felt, the time for weeping would never come: they had transmuted their
personal woe into devotion to others....

There was little loitering and gazing in at shop windows, few shoppers
in the empty stores these days. Everybody seemed to have something
important that must be done at once and had best be done in sober
silence. Even the wounded had lost the habit of telling their troubles.
Doctors and nurses related as one of the interesting phenomena in the
hospitals this dislike of talking about what they had been through,
even among the common soldiers. Most likely their experiences had been
too horrible for gossip. There was a conspiracy of silence, a tacit
recognition of the futility of words, and almost never a complaint!
One day a soldier walked a block to give me a direction, and in reply
to my inquiry pointed to his lower jaw where a deep wound was hidden
in a thick beard. "A ball," he said simply. It was the second wound
he had received, and that night he was going back to his _depot_. For
they went back again and again into that hell so close to this peaceful
Paris, and what happened there was too bad for words. It must be
endured in silence.

There were not many troops on the streets,--at least French soldiers
and officers; there was a surprising number of English of all branches
of the service and a few Belgians. The French were either at the front
or in their _depots_ outside the city. On the Fourteenth of July, when
the remains of Rouget de Lisle, the author of the _Marseillaise_, were
brought to the Invalides, a few companies of city guards on horseback
and of colonial troops in soiled uniforms formed the escort down the
Champs Elysees behind the ancient gun carriage that bore the poet's ashes.
There were many wounded soldiers, hopelessly crippled or convalescing, in
the theaters, at the cafes, and on the streets. As the weeks passed they
seemed to become more numerous, though the authorities had taken pains to
keep Paris comparatively empty of the wounded. One met them hobbling down
the Elysees under the shade of the chestnut trees, in the metro, at the
cafes, the legless and armless, also the more horrible ones whose faces
had been shot awry. They were so young, so white-faced, with life's long
road ahead to be traveled, thus handicapped! There was something wistful
often in their silent eyes.

To cope with the grist of wounded, the mass of refugees and destitute,
Paris was filled with relief organizations. The sign of some "_oeuvre_"
decorated every other building of any size, it seemed. Apart from the
numerous hospitals, there were hostels for the refugee women and
children, who earlier in the war had poured into Paris from the north
and east, workrooms for making garments, distributing agencies, etc.
All civilian Paris had turned itself into one vast relief organization
to do what it could to stanch the wounds of France. Of the relief and
hospital side of Paris I have the space to say little: much has been
written of it by those more competent than I. But in passing I cannot
refrain from my word of gratitude to those generous Americans who by
their acts and their gifts have put in splendid relief the timid
inanities of our official diplomacy. While the President has been
exchanging futile words with the Barbarian over the murders on the
Lusitania, to the bewilderment and contempt of the French nation,
the American Ambulance at Neuilly has offered splendid testimony
to the real feelings of the vast majority of true Americans, also
an excellent example of the generous American way of doing things.
That great hospital, as well as the American Clearing-House and the
individual efforts of many American men and women working in numberless
organizations, encourage a citizen from our rich republic to hold up
his head in spite of German-American disloyalty, gambling in munitions
stocks, and official timidity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Already the French had realized the necessity of creating agencies
for bringing back into a life of activity and service the large
numbers of seriously wounded--to find for them suitable labor and
to reeducate their crippled faculties so that they could support
themselves and take heart once more. Schools were started for the
blind and the deaf, of whom the war has made a fearful number. I
remember meeting one of these pupils, a young officer, blind, with
one arm gone, and wounded in the face. On his breast was the Service
Cross and the cross of the Legion of Honor. He was led into the room
by his wife, a young school teacher from Algeria, who had given up
her position and come to Paris to nurse her fiance back to life and
hope. He was being taught telegraphy by an American teacher of the
blind.

In such ways the people of Paris kept themselves from eating their
hearts out in grief and anxiety.

       *       *       *       *       *

At three o'clock in the afternoons, when the day's _communique_ was
given out from the War Office, little groups gathered in front of
the windows of certain shops where the official report was posted.
They would scan the usually colorless lines in silence and turn away,
as though saying to themselves,--"Not to-day--then to-morrow!" The
newsless newspapers abounded in something perhaps more heartening
than favorable reports from the front--an endless chronicle of bravery
and devotion, of valor, heroism, and chivalry in the trench. That is
what fed the anxious hearts of the waiting people, details of the large,
heroic picture that France was creating so near at hand, _la-bas_.

There were few occasions for popular gatherings. The taste for
"demonstrations" of any sort had gone out of the people. Sympathetic
crowds met the trains from Switzerland that contained the first of
the "_grands blesses_" the militarily useless wounded whom Germany at
last concluded to give back to their homes. And I recall one pathetic
sight which I witnessed by accident--the arrival of one of the long
trains from the front bringing back the first "_permissionnaires_"
those soldiers who had been given a three or four days' leave after
nine months in the trenches. In front of the Gare de l'Est a great
throng of women and children were kept back by rope and police, until
at the appearance of the uniformed men at the exit they surged forward
and sought out each her own man. There were little laughs and sobs and
kisses under the flaring gas lamps of the station yard until the last
_poilu_ had been claimed, and the crowd melted away into Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

Across the street from my hotel there was an elementary school; several
times each day a buzz of children's voices rose from the leafy yard
into which they were let out for their recess. Again the thin chorus of
children's voices came from the schoolroom. It seemed the one completely
natural thing in Paris, the one living thing unconscious of the war. Yet
even the school children were learning history in a way they will never
forget. In one of the provincial schools visited by an inspector, all
the pupils rose as a crippled child hobbled into the schoolroom. "He
suffered from the Germans," the teacher explained. "His mates always
rise when he appears." A French mother walking with her little boy in
one of the parks met a legless soldier, and turning to her child she
said sternly, as if to teach an unforgettable lesson,--"Do you see that
legless man? The _Boches_ did that--remember it!" In these ways the new
generation is learning its history, and it is not likely to forget it
for many years to come.

       *       *       *       *       *

At dawn and dusk in Paris one was likely to hear the familiar buzz
of the aeroplane, and looking aloft could detect a dark spot in the
clear June sky--one of the aerial guard that keeps perpetual watch
over Paris. Sometimes when I came home at night through the dark
streets I could see the silver beams of their searchlights sweeping
like a friendly comet through the heavens, or watch the dimmed lamp
glowing like a red Mars among the lower stars, rising and falling
from space to space. Often I was awakened in the gray dawn by the
persistent hum of this winged sentry and looked down from my balcony
into the misty city beneath, securely sleeping, thanks to the incessant
watchfulness of these "eyes of Paris." The aviator would make wide
circles above the silent city, then swiftly turn back toward Issy and
breakfast. Thanks to the activity of the aerial guard the Zeppelins
have done very little damage in Paris and latterly have made no
attempts to sneak down on the city. It is too risky. They have succeeded
in killing some peaceable folk near the Gare du Nord, in dropping one
bomb on Notre Dame, I believe,--for which they have less excuse than
even for Louvain or Rheims,--and in making a big hole close to the
Trocadero. This after all the vaunted terrors of the Zeppelins! What
they have done, what they could do at the best is of the nature of
petty damage and occasional murder. Instead of terrorizing the Parisians
the Zeppelin raids have merely roused a vivid sense of sportsmanship
and curiosity among them--at first they had a real _reclame!_

Day by day as I lived in Paris the city took on more of its ordinary
activities and aspects. More people flowed by along the boulevards or
sat at the tables in front of the cafes, more shops opened--even the
great dressmaking establishments began to operate in an attempt to
restore commercial circulation. More transients flitted through the
city. There were more people of a Sunday in the Bois and at Vincennes.
Considering that less than a year before the national government had
left Paris, together with a million of its people, also that the
battle-line had remained all these months almost within hearing, it
was marvelous how quietly much of the ordinary machinery of life had
been set running again. Yet Paris was not the same. It was a Paris
almost wholly stripped to the outward eye of that parasitic luxury with
which it has catered to the self-indulgent of the world. Paris--as had
been the case with Italy--had returned under the stress of its tragedy
to its best self--a suffering, tense, deeply earnest self. If the nation
conquers--and there is not a Frenchman who believes any other solution
possible--victory will be of the highest significance to the race. It
will fix in the French people another character wrought in suffering--a
deeper, nobler, purer character than her enemies, or her friends for that
matter, have believed her to possess. Paris will never again become so
totally submerged in the business of providing international frivolities.
She has lived too long in the face of death.




II


_The Wounds of France_

The wounds of France are still bleeding. The trench wall still lies
for four hundred miles across the fair face of the country from the
Vosges to the North Sea, and the invader rules some of her richest
provinces, in all an area equal to something less than a tenth of
the whole.

The wounds have already begun to heal in the marvelous manner of
nature: already life has begun again in the valley of the Marne;
the vineyards and grainfields run close up to the front trenches.
Yet even where the scar has covered the wound it is plain enough to
see how deep that wound has been. The scorched and bruised valley of
the Marne, the ruined villages of Champagne and Artois, have been
described many times by visiting journalists, yet it is worth while
to record once more some of the outstanding features of this rape
of France.

       *       *       *       *       *

To begin with Senlis, which is one of the nearest points to Paris
reached by the German cyclone in September, 1914. There are fewer
older towns in France than Senlis, thirty miles or so northeast of
Paris, the center of the old "Island of France." Once a Roman camp
whose stout masonry walls can still be seen for considerable distances,
it had a mediaeval castle, and, until the greater grandeur of Beauvais
stole the honor, was a bishopric with a lovely small Gothic cathedral.
Its lofty gray spire dominates the green fields and thick woods in the
midst of which Senlis sleeps away the modern day. There are other
curious and beautiful examples of Gothic building in Senlis: indeed,
just here, the experts find the first workings of the principles of
pure Gothic architecture, transforming the round-arched, thick-walled
Norman building. If for nothing more Senlis would have amply earned its
right to live always as the birthplace of French Gothic.

What happened to Senlis when the German troops visited it can be
seen at a glance to-day. From the railroad station at one end of
the town to the green fields beyond the hospital on the Chantilly
road at the other end, a black swath of burned and ruined buildings
is the memento. These houses and stores were not shelled: they were
burned methodically. The Germans arrived late in the afternoon of
the 2d of September, in that state of nervous excitement and hysterical
fear of _francs-tirailleurs_ that characterized them from the time
they passed Liege. The Mayor of Senlis, an old man over seventy, was
made to understand that he would be held responsible for the conduct
of the citizens, and was ordered to have water and lights turned on
in the town and a dinner for the German staff prepared at the chief
hotel. While he was busy with these commands,--most of the inhabitants
had fled that morning,--shots were exchanged in the lower end of the
town between the Germans and the retreating French. Thereupon the usual
order to burn and destroy was given, and the buildings along the main
thoroughfare were set on fire. The mayor and six other citizens,
gathered haphazard on the streets, were taken to a field outside the
town and shot. There were other moving and significant incidents in
the occupation of Senlis which are well authenticated, characteristic
of the German method, but need not be repeated here.

The older part of the town, the cathedral, the Roman wall fortunately
escaped with only a few chance shell holes here and there. The black
scar runs through the place from end to end, incontrovertible instance
of the German thing, which has been visited by thousands of French and
foreigners the past year. The wounds of Senlis are not deep: by
comparison with much else done by the Germans they are almost trivial.
The murder of the Mayor of Senlis was not a large crime in the German
scale. But the whole is nicely typical: Senlis is the kindergarten
lesson in the German method of making war.

       *       *       *       *       *

As every one knows, the Germans breaking into France at Namur and
Mons came on with unexampled rapidity from the north and east toward
the south and west, circled somewhat to the west as they neared Paris,
and then the 5th of September recoiled under the shock of the French
offensive. For the better part of a week two millions of men struggled
on a thousand different battlefields from Nancy and Verdun on the east
to Coulommiers, Meaux, and Amiens on the south and west. This was the
great battle of the Marne, which checked the German invasion. The
pressure of this human cyclone, in general from northeast to southwest,
was more intense in some places than others. One of the bloodiest storm
centers lay east and west from the town of Vitry-le-Francois--from
Sermaize-les-Bains on the east to Fere-le-Champenoise, Montmirail, and
Esternay on the west. For fifty miles there in the heart of Champagne
the path of the cyclone can be traced by the blackened villages, the
gutted churches, the countless crosses in the midst of green fields.

One thinks of Champagne as a land of vineyards, but here in the
center and south of the fertile province there are few vines, mostly
fields of ripening wheat, green alfalfa, or beets--long undulating
swales of rich fields, cut by little copses of thick woods and by
white poplar-lined highways as everywhere in France. It has peculiarly
that smiling and gracious air of _la douce France_--gently sloping
fields and woods and little gray stone villages each with its small
church ornamented by the square tower and spire of Champenoise Gothic.
And it was here that the blast struck hardest, along the little streams,
in the thick copses, up and down the straight roads whose deep ditches
lent themselves to entrenchment, and in almost every village and
crossroads hamlet.

It is a country of few towns, of many small villages, farm and manor
houses. The buildings cluster in the hollows or about the crossroads,
and sometimes they escaped the storm because the shells exchanged
from hill to hill went quite over their roofs; again, as was the
case with Huiron just outside Vitry or with Maurupt near by, they
could not escape because they were perched on hills, and they were
almost completely razed by the fierce fire that raked them for days.
Sometimes they escaped shell and machine gun to be burned to the
ground vengefully with incendiary bombs, as at Sermaize-les-Bains,
where of nine hundred buildings less than forty were left standing
after the Germans retreated. These instances are the saddest of all
because so wanton! There was scarcely a single collection of houses
in that fifty miles which I traversed which did not bear its ugly
scar of fire and shell, scarcely a farmhouse that was not crumbled
or peppered with machine-gun bullets. Miles of desolation may be
seen in a couple of hours' drive around Vitry-le-Francois,--Favresse,
Blesmes, Ecrinnes, Thieblemont, Maurupt, Vauclerc,--with acre upon
acre of ruined buildings, a chimney standing here and there, heaps
of twisted iron that once were farm machines, withered trees--and
graves, everywhere soldiers' graves.

The churches suffered most, probably because they were used for
temporary defense. At Huiron the upper half of the thirteenth-century
Gothic church had been shaved off--in the ten-foot deep mass of debris
lay the richly carved capitals of the massive pillars. At Ecrinnes near
by the apse of the exquisite little church had been blown off, leaving
the front and spire intact. At Maurupt the whole edifice, which commanded
the rolling countryside for miles, was riddled from end to end. Again,
I would enter an apparently sound building to find a pile of rubbish in
the nave, a gaping hole in the roof. And the same thing was true about
Bar-le-Duc to the east and Meaux to the west. It is safe to say that in
a fifty-mile wide stretch from Nancy to the English Channel not one
village in ten has escaped the scourge.

       *       *       *       *       *

I speak of the churches because of their irreplaceable
beauty, the human tenderness of their relation with the earth.
But even more poignant, perhaps, were the wrecks of little country
homes--the stacks of ruined farm machinery, the gutted barns, the
burned houses. In many cases not a habitable building was left after
the cyclone passed. In one hamlet of thirty houses near Esternay I
remember, all but seven had been devastated--by incendiary fire.
Indeed, it was clearly distinguishable--the "legitimate" wrack of
war, from the deliberate spite of incendiarism. Maurupt was the one
case, Sermaize-les-Bains (where there was no fighting) the other. If
it had been simple war, shell and machine gun, probably fifty per cent
or more of the devastation would have been saved. But the German makes
war against an entire country, inanimate as well as animate.

The inhabitants of these ruins had come back in many instances--where
else had they to go? Swept up before the blast of the cyclone, they had
fled south over the fields and hard white roads, then crept back a few
days after the cyclone had passed to find their homes pillaged, burned,
their villages blackened scars on the earth. But they stayed there! The
English Society of Friends has given some money with which to put up
wooden huts, on which old men and Belgian refugees were working when I
passed that way. There is a French charity that tries to outfit these
new homes in the devastated districts, one of the numberless efforts of
the French to put their national house in order. But for all that charity
can do, the lot of these villagers is a bitter one: their strong men have
gone to the front; old men, women, and children are left to scratch the
fields, and exist miserably in the cellars, underneath bits of corrugated
iron roof, in tiny wooden huts. But they have planted their potatoes, in
the ruins in some cases, and have taken up sturdily the struggle of
existence in the wreck of their old homes. The children play among the
crumbling walls, the women go barefoot to the public well for water. The
fields have been sown and harvested somehow. Until the Germans can kill
off the French peasant women, they can never hope to conquer France.

Compared with the burning of homes, the razing of villages, mere
pilfering and looting seem commonplace, unreprehensible crimes. Yet
the loss of property by plain theft is no inconsiderable item in that
bill which France expects to present some day. The old chateaux that
were fouled and gutted by the invader, the trainloads of plunder that
went back to German cities, the emptied cellars and ransacked houses
have fed the fire of disgust and loathing which the French feel for
their foe. Yet they should not begrudge the invader the extraordinary
quantity of good wine which he consumed on his raid, because the
victory of the Marne was doubtless won in part by the aid of the
champagne bottle!

       *       *       *       *       *

When I passed through the Marne valley the fields were being harvested
for the first time since those fatal days in September. Among the
harvesters were a number of middle-aged men with the soldiers' _kepi_,
who had been given leave to make the crop, which was unusually abundant.
The fields of old Champagne, watered with the best blood of France, had
yielded their richest returns. Outside the charred and crumbled ruins
of the villages one might have forgotten the fact of war were it not for
the graves. Here and there the corner of some wood where a battery had
been placed was mowed as if cut by a giant reaper. The tall poplars
along the roadsides had been ripped and torn as by a violent storm. Some
hillsides were scarred with ripples from burrowing shells, and hastily
made trenches had not yet been ploughed completely under. But over the
undulating golden fields it would be difficult to trace the course of
the tempest were it not for the crosses above the graves, thousands upon
thousands of them,--singly, in clumps, in long lines where the dead
bodies had been brought out of the copses and buried side by side in
trenches, or where at a crossroads a little cemetery had been made to
receive the dead of the vicinity.

Often as you crawled along in a train you could follow the battle by
the bare spots left in the fields around the graves. They will never
be ploughed under and sown, not even the graves of Germans, not in
the richest land. Generally they were carefully fenced off, almost
always with a simple cross on the point of which hung the soldier's
_kepi_ whenever it was found with the body. It is remarkable, considering
the scarcity of hands, the desolation of the country, the difficulty of
existence, what tender care has been given these graves of the unknown
dead. Many of them were decorated with fresh flowers or those metal
wreaths that the Europeans use, and where a company lay together a
little monument had been erected with a simple inscription. It would
seem that these Champenoise peasants still retain some of that pagan
reverence for the dead which their Latin ancestors had cultivated,
mingled with passionate love for those who gave themselves in defense
of _la patrie._

So for years to come the beautiful fields of France will be strewn
with these little spots of sanctuary where Frenchmen died fighting
the invader. The fields are already green again: Nature is doing her
best to remove the scars of battle from this land where so often in
the past ages she has been called upon to heal the wounds inflicted
by men. Nature will have completed her task long before the ruined
villages can be restored, long, long before the scars in men's hearts
made by this ruthless invasion can be healed. Another generation,
that of the little children playing in the ruins of their fathers'
homes, must grow up with hate in their hearts and die before the
wounds can be forgotten.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Germans were shelling Rheims the day I was there. From the
little Mountain of Rheims, five miles away on the Epernay road, I
could see the gray and black clouds from bursting shells rise in the
mist around the massive cathedral. An observation balloon was floating
calmly over the hill beyond, directing the fire on the desolated city.
It was necessary to wait outside the town until a lull came in the
bombardment, and when our motor at last entered, it was like speeding
through a city of the dead, with crushed walls, weed-grown streets,
and empty silence everywhere save for the low whine of the big shells.
With the five or six hundred large shells hurled into Rheims that one
day, the Germans killed three civilians, wounded eighteen more, and
knocked over some hollow houses already gutted in previous bombardments.
They did not damage the cathedral that day, though several explosions
occurred within a few feet of the building.

There were no soldiers, no artillery in Rheims--there have not been
any for many months. Of its one hundred and thirty thousand people,
only twenty thousand were left hiding in cellars, skulking along the
walls, clinging to their homes in the immense desolation of the city
with that tenacity which is peculiarly French. In the afternoon when
the fire ceased the boys were playing in the streets and women sat in
front of their cellar homes sewing. They have adapted themselves to
sudden death. They move about from hole to hole in the wilderness of
shattered buildings. For the city had been gutted by the acre: street
after street was nothing but an empty shell of walls that crumpled up
from time to time and tottered over. Within lay an indescribable mass
of household articles, merchandise, all that once had been homes and
stores and factories. Around the cathedral there was a peculiar silence,
for this quarter of the city which received most of the shells is
absolutely deserted. The grass grew high between the stones in the
pavement all about. The sun was throwing golden cross-lights over the
battered walls as I came into the deserted square and stood beside the
little figure of Jeanne d'Arc before the great portal. As seen from
afar, now in the full nearer view, the amazing thing was the majesty
of the windowless, roofless, defaced cathedral. Acres of other buildings
have crumbled utterly, but not even the German guns have succeeded in
smashing the dignity out of this ancient altar of French royalty. It
still stands firm and mighty, dominating its ruined city, as if too old,
too deeply rooted in the soil of France to be crushed by her enemies.
After a year of bombardment it still raised its mutilated face in dumb
protest above the crumbling dwellings of its people, whom it could no
longer protect from the barbarian.

Not that the Germans have spared the cathedral in their senseless
bombardment of Rheims! From that first day, when their own wounded
lay within its walls and were carried out of the burning building
by the French, until the morning I was there, when a shell tore at
the ground beneath the buttresses hitherto untouched, the Germans
seem to have taken a special malignant delight in shelling the
cathedral. They have already damaged it beyond the possibility of
complete repair, even should their hearts at this late day be
miraculously touched by shame for what they have done and their guns
should cease from further desecration. The glorious glass has already
been broken into a million fragments; many of the finely executed
mouldings and figures--irreplaceable specimens of a forgotten art--have
been crushed; great wall spaces pounded and marred. It is as if a huge,
fat German hand had ground itself across a delicately moulded face,
smearing and smudging with vindictive energy its glorious beauty.
Rheims Cathedral must bear these brutal German scars forever, even
should the vandal hand be stayed now. It can never again be what it
was--the full, marvelous flowering of Gothic art, precious heritage
from dim centuries long past. Like a woman at the full flower of her
life who has been raped and defiled, all the perfection of her ripened
being defaced in a moment of lust, she will live on afterward with a
certain grandeur of horror in her eyes, of tragic dignity that can
never utterly be erased from her outraged person....

A French officer, speculating on the German intentions with that
admirably dispassionate intelligence with which the French consider
these brutal manifestations of the German mind, remarked, "At present
they seem engaged in ringing the cathedral with their fire, as if to
see how close they can come without hitting the building itself, but
of course from that distance they must sometimes miss." One theory
why the enemy pursues this unmilitary monument with such peculiarly
relentless ferocity is that they enjoy the outcry which their vandalism
creates. Moreover, it is a way of boasting to the world that they have
not yet been expelled from their positions behind Rheims, are not being
driven back. If any special explanation were needed, I should find it
rather in the fact that Rheims is peculiarly associated with French
history,--minster of her kings,--and its destruction would be especially
bruising to French pride. William the Second probably swells with
magnitude at the thought of destroying with his big guns this sanctuary
of French kings. Some of the graven kings still cling to their niches
in the lofty facade. Two have been taken to the ground for safety and
look out with horror in their blind eyes at the ruin all about them.
The little figure of Jeanne d'Arc, rescuer of a French king, still
stands untouched before the great portal, astride her prancing horse,
bravely waving her bronze flag. Around her were heaped garlands of
fresh flowers, touching evidence that the city of Rheims still holds
stout souls with faith in the ultimate salvation of their great church,
who lay their tribute at the feet of the virgin warrior. Once she
protected their ancestors from a less barbarous enemy.

What use to enumerate the wounds and outrages in minute detail? For
by to-day more of this unique beauty has gone to that everlasting
grave from which no German skill can resurrect it.... Within, the
cathedral has been less spoiled, but is even sadder. One walked over
the stone pavement crunching fragments of the purple glass that had
fallen from the gorgeous windows, now sightless. Once at this hour
it was all aglow with color, radiating a mysterious splendor into
the vaults of transept and nave. A shell had blasted its way into
one corner, another had rent the roof vaulting near the crossing of
transept and nave. The columns and arches were blackened by the smoke
of that fire which caught in the straw on which the German wounded
lay. There was something peculiarly forlorn, ghostly within the dim
ruins of what was once so great, and I was glad to escape to the old
hospital in the close, now turned into a hospital for the cathedral
itself. Here on benches and in piles about the floor of the low-vaulted
room had been gathered those fragments of statue and moulding that a
pious search could rescue from the debris around the cathedral. In this
room, while the German guns were still raining shells upon Rheims, an
old man in workman's apron was already moulding casts of the faces and
lines of the shattered stones so that in some happier day an effort to
reproduce them might be made. I saw between his trembling old fingers
the fine features of a stone angel which he was covering with clay. I
know of nothing more beautifully eloquent of the French spirit than
this labor of preservation. Within range of shell fire this old man
was calmly working to save what he might of the beauty that had been
so prodigally murdered. If spiritual laws are still operative in this
mad world of ours, the Latin must endure and conquer because of his
unshakable faith....

At the hill on the Epernay road I looked back for a last view of the
cathedral. The evening mist was already creeping over its scarred
walls. With the two towers lifting the great portal to the sky, it
dominated the valley, the ruined city at its feet, a monument of men's
aspirations raising its head high into the sky in spite of the unseen
missiles that even then were beginning once more their attack. I would
that these words might go to swell that cry which has gone up from all
civilized peoples at the sacrilege to Rheims! Even now something of its
majesty and its glory might be saved if the German guns were silenced--if
within the German nation there were left any respect for the ancient
decencies and traditions of man. But I know too well with what contempt
the Germans view such pleas for beauty, for old memories and loves. They
are but "sentimental weakness," in the words of the "War Book," along
with respect for defenseless women and children. The people who gloried
in the sinking of the Lusitania will hardly be moved to refrain from the
destruction of a cathedral. Rheims--unless saved by a miracle--is doomed.
And it is because neither beauty nor humanity, neither ancient tradition
nor common pity can touch the modern German, that this war must be fought
to a real finish. There is not room in this world for the German ideal
and the Latin ideal: one must die.

       *       *       *       *       *

The tragedy of Rheims has been repeated again and again--at Soissons,
at Arras, at Ypres, in every town and village throughout that blackened
band of invaded France from the Vosges to the sea. Also the tragedy of
exiled and imprisoned country folk, of ruined farms and houses, of mere
destruction.

The wounds of France are so many, the outward physical bleeding of
the land is so vast, that volumes have been written already as the
record. Very little can be said or written about another wound,--the
lives of those in the invaded provinces behind the German lines,--for
almost nothing is known as to what has happened there, what is going
on now. A word now and then comes from that dead, no man's land; a
rare fugitive escapes from the conqueror's hand. The military rule
forbids any correspondence through neutrals, as is permitted prisoners
of war, to those held "behind the lines." The inhabitants are kept as
prisoners. Worse, they have been used at certain places along the front
as bucklers against the fire of their countrymen--in a quarry near
Soissons, at Saint-Mihiel. It is known that heavy imposts are laid upon
them, as at Lille, and that the invader is exploiting this richest part
of France's industrial territory. This last wound is, perhaps, the most
serious of all for France, in this modern, machine war. Latterly rumor
has it that the treatment of the inhabitants imprisoned behind the
German lines has become less rigorous, because, as a French general
explained,--"They hope to make peace with us--_quelle sale race!_"

These wounds are still bleeding. They cannot be ignored. They, as
well as the death, suffering, and agony of the long trench combat,
make the faces of the French tense, silent. "To think that they are
still here after a whole year since this happened!" a young Frenchman
exclaimed in bitterness of soul as we looked out over the thickly
scattered graves in the fields around Bercy. To him it was as if a
crazed and drunken marauder had taken possession of his house, burned
a part of it, and still caroused in another wing. The unforgettable,
unforgivable wounds of France!

The French, so clear-seeing, so reasonable even about their own
tragedies, are bitter to the soul when they think of the brutality
done to their _"douce France."_ To the French, quite as much as to
the Bryanited American, war is a senseless, inhuman thing; but it
becomes direfully necessary when the home has been burned and laid
waste. The Gallic spirit cannot understand that spirit of malevolent
destruction which vengefully wreaks its spite against defenseless and
inanimate works of age to be reverenced, of art to be loved. There are
certain scrupulosities of soul in the Latin that divide him from his
enemy, more effectually than a thousand years of life and an entire
world of space.




III


_The Barbarian_

The barbarian, as the Greeks used the word, was not necessarily a
person or a people without civilization. Indeed, certain ancient
peoples known as barbarians had a high degree of luxury, civilization.
The Persians under the barbarian Xerxes were probably quite the equals
in the mechanics of civilization of the Greeks, and the Egyptians could
lay claim to a large amount of what even the Greeks considered culture.
The barbarian was a person or a nation without a spiritual sense in his
values. The barbarian was often strong, able, intelligent, "organized"
as we say, but he was incapable of self-government: the barbarian nations
were ruled despotically. Their position in the world depended upon the
force and the ability of the particular despot who got control of their
destinies. The barbarian peoples were often crude in what is called
fine art. They neither believed in nor practiced those amenities of daily
life which express themselves superficially in manners, more deeply in
sensitive inhibitions, nor those amenities of the soul which are known
as honor, justice, mercy. The barbarian despised as soft and degenerate
such persons as permitted themselves to be trammeled in their conduct by
non-utilitarian considerations. In his primitive state the barbarian's
instinct was to destroy what he could not understand; as he became more
sophisticated, his instinct was to imitate what he could not create.

What, above all, the barbarian cannot appreciate is the suave mean
of life, the ideal of individual human excellence, of a tempered
social control, the liberty of the individual within the fewest
possible restrictions to work out his own scheme of existence, his
own civilization. For the barbarian mind recognizes only two sorts
of beings--the master and the slave. One is a tyrant and the other
is a docile imitation of manhood. The barbarian never totally dies
from the world. In every race, in every nation, in every community
fine examples of the barbarian instinct, the barbarian philosophy
of existence can be found. I have known personally a great many
barbarians,--American life is full of them,--and my knowledge of
them, of their strengths and their limitations, has given me my
understanding of the modern German as manifested in this world war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Real truth often underlies popular nomenclature. It is neither accident
nor a desire to abuse that has given the German the name of barbarian
in the Latin nations. Just as the Latin peoples are the inheritors of
Greek ideals, so the German peoples seem to be the active modern
protagonists of all that the Greeks meant by their term "barbarian."
The French before the war regarded the Germans as not wholly well-bred
persons, lacking in some of those niceties of feeling and conduct which
seemed to them important--"_parvenus_" as a French officer characterized
his feeling about the race, and added the descriptive adjective
"_sale_"--dirty. Since the war there has been ground into the French the
more awful inhumanities of which these _parvenus_ are capable. Therefore,
when they think of the German, there comes instinctively to their lips
the ancient term of complete distinction,--_les barbares_,--by which is
meant a person and a nation who are not governed by ideals of taste,
honor, humanity, what to the non-barbarian are summed up in the one
word "decency." The adjective that the officer used--"_sale_"--does
not imply necessarily literal physical dirt, but a moral callousness
and unrefinement of soul which in the spiritual realm corresponds with
the term "dirty" in the physical. He sees the soul of the German as a
dirty soul, unclean, unsqueamish. And this conception of the enemy has
given to the French soldier something of that crusader spirit which has
sustained him through his terrible conflict. As M. Emile Hovelaque has
expressed it,--"France is fighting the battle of humanity, of the world,
of America, of every nation, man, and child who are resolved to live
their own life in their own way, under the dictates of their conscience,
within the limits of the laws they have accepted." The battle of the
world to push back once more the pest of barbarism! It is that which
has roused French chivalry, French heroism, not merely the love of
the _patrie_. Indeed, for the higher spirits the _patrie_ is closely
identified with the non-barbaric ideals of humanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The whole conscious world has had the manifestations of the new
barbarism before its eyes for an entire year and more. It has recoiled
in disgust from the invasion of Belgium, the sinking of the Lusitania,
the shooting of Edith Cavell, from the wanton destruction of monuments.
All these barbarities are indisputable facts, which may be explained
and extenuated, but cannot be denied. There is another class of
barbarities,--the so-called "atrocities,"--which are more easily denied,
but which most people who have taken the trouble to examine the charges
know to be equally true. The record of these multiplied atrocities is
so enormous and so well authenticated that it would seem to me useless
to add any words to the theme were it not for an amazing attitude of
indifference to the subject on the part of many Americans. "We don't
want to hear any more atrocity stories," they say. "Perhaps the
atrocities have been exaggerated, probably there's truth on both sides.
Anyway, war is brutal as every one knows." Some newspapers will not
publish the atrocity charges, whether because of our popular prejudice
against anything "unpleasant" unless freshly sensational or because of
more sinister reasons, the reader may judge.

This attitude is both evasive and cowardly. It is essential to
understand the atrocity for a proper realization of the war and of
the German menace. It is false to say that all war is barbarous, and
that in every war similar atrocities have occurred. As Mr. Hilaire
Belloc has well said,--"Men have often talked during this war ... as
though the crime accompanying Prussian activities in the field were
normal to warfare.... It is of the very first importance to appreciate
the truth that Prussia in this campaign has postulated in one point
after another new doctrines which repudiate everything her neighbors
have held sacred from the time when a common Christianity first began
to influence the states of Europe. The violation of the Belgian
territory is on a par with the murder of civilians in cold blood, and
after admission of their innocence, with the massacre of priests and
the sinking without warning of unarmed ships with their passengers and
crews. To regard these things as something normal to warfare in the past
is as monstrous an historical error as it would be to regard the Reign
of Terror during the French Revolution as normal to civil disputes
within the states."

It is the business of every person who is concerned about anything
more than his own selfish fate to examine into the atrocity charges
and to convince himself, not only of the truth, but of the more serious
implications in their premeditated and persistent character. The record
has been well made, fortunately, often in judicial form. It is already
voluminous and being added to constantly. Best of all the evidence,
perhaps, are the German diaries of soldiers and officers, extracts of
which have been edited by Professor Bedier, of the College de France,
with facsimile photographs of the texts. Next I should place in evidence
the so-called German "War Book" ("Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege"), where
under the convenient title of "Indispensable Severities" may be found
the text for many of the worst atrocities committed in Belgium and
France.

If the atrocity charge against the Germans is false or exaggerated,
it is surely time to know it, but no mere denial or general argument
can be accepted in rebuttal. The world must convince itself of the
truth. The German crimes have been too many and too public, too well
authenticated by witnesses to be disproved by mere denial. The best
public opinion of the world has condemned military Germany as a
barbarous outlaw. The crimes committed with the connivance of the
supreme military authorities, authorized by their instructions to
their officers, have fouled the name German for eternity: it will
be coupled with Vandal, Tartar, Barbarian.

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe the atrocity charges to be substantially true in a vast
majority of cases. Moreover, I do not believe that half the truth of
them has been told or ever will be. My reasons for this belief in the
atrocity charge are the following: First, undisputed crimes, such as
the Lusitania and Cavell cases. A government that would sanction these
murders would sanction all other atrocities. Second, the witness of
persons in whose credibility I have confidence, such as French officers
and civilians, nurses and doctors, whose occupations have thrown
first-hand evidence in their way, who have personal knowledge of
specific outrages. Third, from what I myself gathered while I was in
France from the lips of abused persons. Although I did not look for
atrocities, I could not avoid getting reports from such people as I
met in the devastated territory of the Marne, weighing their stories,
and estimating the validity of them.

I believe in the truthfulness of that abbe of Esternay, who was one
of the unfortunates that the Germans used as a screen before the
operations of a body of troops. I believe in the truthfulness of the
keen old peasant woman at Chatillon, whose home had been riddled by
German bullets and who had been fired at when she took refuge in the
cellar of her house, and of many others with whom I talked of their
experiences during the early days of September, 1914. Unfortunately,
there was no photographer at work those days along the Marne valley,
though no doubt the German denying office would instantly impugn the
evidence of a photograph of the act. Each one of us, however, has his
own inner instinctive tests of truth to which he puts the credibility
of a story, and I believe the abbe, the old woman, and many others
who suffered abominably at the hands of German soldiers.

One fact only too evident to anybody who has followed in German
footsteps through the valley of the Marne is the part that mere
drunkenness had in this affair. The flower of the German army was
incredibly drunken throughout the advance into France. Pillage, rape,
incendiarism followed inevitably. They are common crimes to be expected
where an exhausted soldiery is inflamed with drink. But the cowardly
slaughter of non-combatants, the wanton destruction of monuments, the
brutal tyrannies toward conquered peoples--these are the blacker crimes
against the German name.

       *       *       *       *       *

Self-control is not a Teutonic ideal. Of all the psychological surprises
that the war has revealed, the exhibition of the German temperament has
not been one of the least. Not its frank philosophic materialism, which
any one who had followed the drift of German thought and literature might
have expected, but its extraordinary lack of self-control. English and
Americans are taught that an individual who cannot master his own temper
is unfit to master others. Yet here is a people pretending to world rule
whose tempers individually are so little under control that they explode
in senseless passion on the least provocation. The German nation froths
with hate first against the English because they were neither as cowardly
nor selfish as had been expected, then against the Italians because they
would not listen to Prince von Buelow's song, latterly against Americans
because the United States dared to question the divine right of Germany
to do with neutrals what she pleased. Judging from the German press and
from the Germans whom I have met, the German nation is living in a
ferment of rage, all the more extraordinary as the fighting seems to
have gone their way thus far. What would happen to this uncontrolled
people should the war take an unfavorable turn and not supply them with
daily victories? Self-control is not included in that famous German
discipline. Uncontrolled tempers, drink, the ordinary fund of brutality
in the pit of human beings with the extraordinary conditions of war
will explain much of all this barbarism--but not all.

The supreme evidence of German atrocities is to be found in the
infamous "Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege," a singular revelation of
national character in which the German general staff has summed
up for young officers the principles that should govern the conduct
of invading armies. One finds here,--"By steeping himself in military
history an officer will be able to guard himself against excessive
humanitarian notions; it will teach him that certain severities
are indispensable to war, nay, more, that the only true humanity
very often lies in a ruthless application of them." This convenient
generalization covers the multitude of Belgian crimes. This interesting
manual of conduct for officers further warns against "sentimentalism
and flabby emotion," such as are embodied in the Hague Conventions,
and after stating the generally accepted rule or custom of warfare
warns that exceptions are always permissible where the officer deems
exceptional severities are "indispensable." After perusing the
"Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege," need one seek more evidence of German
atrocities from the levying of confiscatory fines upon conquered
peoples to the use of noncombatants as human screens in military
operations? The germ of the barbarous system is there contained in
its entirety.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the implication of all this is much deeper than might appear on the
surface. Such a theory of warfare as is set forth in the "War Book," as
has been exemplified throughout the war, having its climax to date in
the murder of Edith Cavell, is not the result of uncontrolled passions
wrought to ferocity. It is deliberate, preconceived, defended,--an
article of faith intimately bound up with the German ideal of the state.
There is the danger. That the precept of the higher military authorities
is accepted by the general public may be seen in the following passage
from the Hamburg "Fremdenblatt"--or is it but a press note inserted by
the high commandment? "Toxic gases are simply a new instrument of
warfare; they are condemned because they are not universally adopted....
In warfare humanity does not exist and cannot exist. All the lucubrations
of the Hague Conferences on this subject are childish babbling. New
technical knowledge gives new arms to those who are not fools and know
how to use them.... Knowledge creates power, power creates law, law
creates humanity. All these are changing ideas and Germans are not
disposed to discuss them during the war."

An Indian on the warpath scalps, burns, tortures, and we say it is
the Indian nature to do these things. So-called civilized white men
have gone on the loose in and out of war and have done many shameful
deeds: we blush for them and draw the veil. But what never before has
been accomplished is to have barbarism deliberately inculcated as
part of the policy of warfare by a so-called civilized state; also
warfare considered to be the flower of statecraft. Clausewitz lays
down the principle that war is the legitimate carrying-out of state
policy; the state relies upon war to execute its designs. The German
military authorities announce and print for the use of their officers
that in war deviation from any recognized principle of conduct is
permitted under the excuse of "indispensable severity"--for the sake
of terrorizing hostile peoples--and humanitarianism is condemned as
"sentimentalism and flabby emotion."

There we have the gist of the whole affair--what makes the Frenchman
instinctively consider the German to be a barbarian, what makes modern
Germany the menace of the entire world. It is not its militaristic
ideals, its mechanical civilization, not even its brutality and
vulgarity, not even the ferocity of its warfare: it is the methodical
application of this underlying principle of conduct which has been
inculcated into the people so that they rejoice at the sinking of the
Lusitania, which has been employed in this war systematically from the
first day. This is the barbarian essence of the German character.

It is not the raping of women, not the staff officers' drunken
orgies in chateaux, not the looting and burning of houses, not the
stupid treatment of Belgians and French "hostages," etc. All these
are distressing but not necessarily characteristic. It is the principle
of the legitimacy of evil provided only that evil works to the advantage
of the German state. That is the vicious term in the German syllogism.
The state can do no wrong: therefore the individual acting for the state
can do no wrong. The one supreme end sanctioned by divine authority is
the endurance and the magnification of the German state. Whatever a
German may do or cause to be done with this holy end in view is not
merely just and reasonable, but necessary and praiseworthy. Hence there
follows, naturally, the vile system of German espionage, of propaganda
in neutral countries, the indiscriminate use of the submarine weapon,
terrorization, military murders of civilians, and all the rest of the
long count against Germany. Assume the vital major premise and the rest
follows inevitably, provided her citizens are both docile and have a
natural fund of brutality.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In warfare humanity does not exist and cannot exist. All the
lucubrations of the Hague Conferences on this subject are childish
babbling.... Knowledge creates power, power creates law, law creates
humanity. All these are changing ideas."

The world has known the barbarian always; we are all acquainted with
him from personal experience. But the world has never before known a
reasoned, intellectual barbarism, a barbarian that has elevated into
a philosophy of human life with the sanctions of religion his instincts
and impulses. And that is the menace of the German, not his force nor
his brutality, but the risk that he can successfully impose upon the
world such an atrocious creed, intimidating into imitation those cowardly
souls whom he does not care to conquer. If Germany were to win this war,
it would not be her bumptious aggression that the world ought to fear
so much as the enormous impulse it would give to her detestable creed,
to the principle of evil in the world. The danger for us Americans is
greater than for others, not because of exposed coasts and an unprepared
army, but because we are already tainted with the same raw materialism
of belief. Too many individuals in America would find a sympathetic
echo in their own hearts to the German creed of collective selfishness
and barbarism.

       *       *       *       *       *

One heard in Paris surprisingly little about German atrocities, less
than in Boston and New York, much less than in London. Not that the
French do not believe them: they know the bitter truth about German
inhumanity as none others. With that admirable stoicism and lucid
conservation of moral force displayed by the French from the beginning,
they do not waste their strength in denunciation: they have accepted
it as one of the terrible aspects of the evil they are fighting. They
probably understand the German character as now wholly revealed better
than the rest of the world and are not so much surprised by its
manifestations. They have examined the German, and have fortified
themselves against his cruel power.

But they cannot forget these incredible outrages. There are too many
fresh examples--too many robbed and maltreated refugees, too many
fatherless and motherless children, still coming to Paris by the
trainload, whom they must provide for, too many relatives and friends
who have been abused and murdered or whose property has been looted
by German soldiers and officers. Also there are too many Frenchmen
who have seen the horrors with their own eyes, too many doctors and
stretcher-bearers shot down by those they were trying to aid, too many
hospitals bombarded, too many wounded prisoners killed. The German
atrocity is documented in France over and over, within the knowledge
of millions. It will prove to be Germany's great stumbling-block after
the war, when she looks about a shocked world for peoples to trade with.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the dining-room of the military club at Commercy, where a corps
of the French army now has its headquarters, there is a wall painting
of the last century representing the heroic deeds of Jeanne d'Arc.
"That," said General C., pointing to the little figure on horseback,
"is French! And the French have fought this war chivalrously--not
against monuments, against women and children and old people, but
as soldiers against soldiers!"

The Latin is sometimes cruel--he has within him the capacity for
cruelty--and the history of Latin peoples is stained here and there
with ferocity. But the Latin has never organized cruelty methodically,
has never elevated terrorization into a principle of warfare, a weapon
of statecraft. For one thing he is too intelligent: he knows that
cruelty begets reprisals, that brutality breeds hate. After Alsace
the German should have known too much to try the same method in harsher
forms upon Belgium and invaded France. But the barbarian learns no
spiritual lessons. Persian atrocity, Saracen atrocity, Indian atrocity,
Spanish atrocity--they have all failed. An enduring triumph was never
won on that principle of "indispensable severity."

It is barbarism as well as the barbarian which France is fighting,
and the French know it, are profoundly conscious of it, from the
cool, dispassionate philosopher, like Bergson or Boutroux or Hovelaque,
to the girl conductor on the tram, the dirty _poilu_ in the trench.
For more than a generation the French world has suffered from the
fear of this new barbarian, and the time has come again, as it has
come so many times before in history, for the momentous decision with
the barbarian. Again as before it must come on the fields of France
where the ancient curse of barbarism has been met and destroyed.




IV


_The German Lesson_

The barbarian must be met on his own ground of force and efficiency,--"an
eye for an eye," not with arguments or apologies, not even with numbers
or wealth. The vital question for us all to-day is not how unprepared the
Allies were for the onslaught of barbarism, but how far they have overcome
their handicap, how thoroughly they have learned the barbarian's lesson.
The varying degrees in which the different allied nations have grasped
the meaning of the lesson and applied it tell us not merely their chance
of survival, but also the probable outcome of the world decision. What
that lesson is which Germany is teaching the world by blood and iron is
a byword on men's tongues to-day: the value of it is another question.

       *       *       *       *       *

Long before the war, Germany had published far and wide her scorn
of her enemies. The Russians were an undisciplined barbarian horde;
the English, stupid idlers who spent on their sport the energy that
the industrious German devoted to preparing himself for world rule.
As for the French, they were an amiable and amusing people, but
degenerate--fickle, feeble, rotten with disease. Germany's hate
was reserved for the English, her most ignoble slurs for the French.
Needless to say, Germany has not found any one of her many enemies as
wholly despicable as she had imagined them to be. Her miscalculations
were greatest with France. That the French people are smaller in
stature than the German, that they eat less and breed less, that by
temperament they are cheerful and gay and witty convinced the dull
German mind that the race had become degenerate and trivial,--negligible.
This habit of contemptuously attributing to other peoples vileness and
degeneracy because their social ideals differ from her own is part of
that lack of imagination which is the Teuton's undoing.

The courage, endurance, and high spirit displayed by the French have
compelled German admiration. The French have become the most tolerable
of all her enemies, and it is an open secret that for many months
Germany has desired to win France away from her allies by an honorable,
even advantageous peace. Meantime French prisoners are favored in the
German prison camps, being accorded a treatment altogether more humane
than that given the English prisoners or the Russians. But France has
replied to the dishonorable advances no more than to the calumnies.
One of the astonishing revelations of national psychology unfolded in
the war has been the taciturnity of the French, their silent tenacity.
For nearly two generations the nation has lived in expectation of an
ultimate struggle for existence with the barbarian: now that it has
come with more than the feared ferocity the French have no time or
energy to waste in comment. They must expel the barbarian from their
home and put a limit "for an hundred years" to the menace of his
barbarism.

That is in part why the clear-headed Latin has learned the German
lesson faster than his allies.

       *       *       *       *       *

What everybody knows by this time, and in America is repeating with
sickening fluency, is that Germany is "efficient," not only militarily
efficient, but socially and economically efficient--which these days
amounts to the same thing. Germany is "organized" both for peace and
war more efficiently than any other nation in the world. The two terms
that this war has driven into all men's consciousness are "efficiency"
and "organization." We in America, prone to admire the sheen of tin,
have bowed down in greater admiration than any other people to German
"efficiency." For efficiency values in the operations of life are just
the ones we are most capable of appreciating, although our government
and general social organization remain as lamentably inefficient as,
say, the English. But being a business people we are fitted to admire
business qualities above all others. The German army, the German state
are magnificently run businesses! To some of us, however, the term
"efficiency" has become nauseating because it has been associated with
so much else that we loathe from the bottom of our souls. If we cannot
have an "efficient" civilization without paying the price for it that
Germany has paid,--the price of humanity, of beauty, the price of her
soul,--let us return to the primitive inefficiency of a Sicilian
village!

Germany under a highly autocratic system of government has created
a social machine of unexampled and formidable efficiency. The German
realized before his rivals that war had become, like all other human
activities, a matter of business on a huge scale. And he had prepared
not merely the special instruments of war, but also the tributary
business on this scale of modern magnitude: he had converted his state
into a powerful war machine. All this which is now commonplace has
become more glaringly evident to us onlookers because of the lamentable
failure of England and Russia especially to meet the requirements of
the new business. So incapable do they seem of learning the German
lesson that to some Americans the cause of the Allies is doomed already
to disaster. Certainly the English and the Russians have justified many
of those bitter German taunts.

It has not been so with France. The French also were caught
unprepared--to their honor--like their allies. Can a real democracy
ever be prepared for war? France, suffering grievously from the first
blow dealt by the enemy, looked destruction in the face before the
stand at the Marne. The famous victory of the Marne, I believe, is
still unknown in Germany--I have been so informed by an American who
spent last winter in Germany. The battle of the Marne may not rank
in history as quite the greatest battle in the history of the world.
The French may exaggerate its importance as a military event. The
English have certainly exaggerated the part played by their little
expeditionary force of less than a hundred thousand in "saving France."
That is for others to dispute. But it was without any question a great
moral victory for the French of the utmost tonic value to the nation.
It saved France from despair, possibly from the annihilation that
follows despair. And ever since the Marne victory, French confidence
and _elan_ have been rapidly growing. During that bloody September week
they realized that the barbarian was not invincible, the machine was
not so perfect but that human will and human courage could resist it.
Moreover, the machine lacked that quality of spirit which the French
felt in themselves. As the months have dragged around an entire year
and more in the trenches, almost contempt has grown in the mind of
the French soldier for the formidable German machine. Strong as it
is, it yet lacks something--that something of human spirit without
which permanent victories cannot be achieved. Its strength can be
imitated. The spirit cannot be "organized."

French confidence is more than an official phrase, a mere bluff!

       *       *       *       *       *

But--and just here lies the profound significance of it all--the
French realized at once that in order to conquer the German machine
they must create an equally efficient and powerful machine, which
with that plus of human spirit and the inspiration of their cause
would carry them over into victory. So while the English were berating
the barbarian for his atrocious misconduct, advertising "business as
usual," and filching what German trade they could, bungling at this
and that, until they have become a spectacle to themselves, the French
nation concentrated all its energies upon preparing an organization
fit to meet the German organization. While General Joffre held the
Germans behind the four hundred miles of trenches, France made itself
over into a society organized for war--the new business kind of war
which is waged in factory and railway terminal, not by gallant charges.
"_Organiser_" has become in the Frenchman's vocabulary the next most
popular word to "_patrie_." One implies, these days, the other.

It is said that when Germany invaded France, the French had not a
ton of their chief high explosive on hand. Some of its ingredients
they had been getting from Germany! France lost her coal and iron
mines and her largest factories the first weeks of the war and has
not regained them. Yet early in last April, according to the official
announcement, France was turning out six times as much ammunition as
was deemed, before the war, the maximum requirement, and would shortly
turn out ten times as much, which has ere this probably been greatly
exceeded. Meanwhile, by April the artillery had been increased
sevenfold. In attaining these results, France has accomplished a
greater marvel relatively speaking than the most boasted German
efficiency. She has had to get her coal from England, her ores from
Spain, her machines for making guns and shells from us. She has had
to improvise shell factories and gun plants from automobile factories,
electric plants, railway repair shops--from anything and everything.
I visited a small tile factory that was being utilized to make hand
grenades. Innumerable small shops in Paris are engaged in munition
work. The amount of ammunition bought in America by France has been
grossly exaggerated by the German press. Latterly, France has employed
American engineers to build large munition plants in France that will
become the property of the Government.

Throughout the spring the Paris newspapers appeared every morning
with large headlines: "More guns! More ammunition!!" And they got
them, made them. The headlines are no longer needed, for the
superiority in shell and guns rests with the French, not with the
Germans, on the western front.

       *       *       *       *       *

France, industrially crippled, has accomplished this marvel in
one short year. The country has become one vast workshop for war.
The Latin genius for organization on the small scale has met the
German genius for organization on the large scale. The industrial
transformation has been facilitated by the system of conscription
over which the English have wrangled so long and so futilely to the
mystery of their keener-witted allies. To the Frenchman conscription
means merely the most effective method of applying patriotism, of
cooeperation for the common cause. France has mobilized not only her
men, but her women and children, it might be said, so thoroughly have
the civilian elements worked into the shops and other non-military
labor. To sort out their labor and put it where it was most effective,
to substitute women workers for men wherever possible, were the first
steps in the huge work of social reorganization. There were no labor
troubles to contend with, thanks to the conscription system and to
the awakened patriotism of every element in society. France looked
on aghast when her necessary supplies of coal were threatened by the
strike of Welsh miners, averted only by the personal pleadings of a
popular minister! To the Latin, more disciplined and more alive to
the real dangers of the situation than the Anglo-Saxon, the English
attitude was simply incomprehensible. Also France has not had her
efficiency so seriously threatened by the liquor problem as has
England: the military authorities have taken stern measures against
this danger and have carried them out firmly. So far as the army
itself is concerned, the drink evil does not exist.

The manufacture of ammunition and cannon is but one element in the new
warfare. France has had to feed, clothe, and maintain her armies under
the same handicap, to meet all the unexpected requirements in material
of the trench war. The French have rediscovered the hand grenade and
developed it into the characteristic weapon of the war, have unearthed
all their old mortars from the arsenals and adapted them to the trench,
and created the best aerial service of all the combatants. Incidentally
they have effectually protected Paris from air raids since the first
months of the war by their careful aerial patrol. All this is aside from
the task of putting the nation socially and economically on the war
basis--in providing for the wounded, the dependent women and children,
and also for a perpetual stream of refugees from Belgium and the invaded
provinces, a burden that Germany has not yet had to carry.

Not all this huge work of reorganization could be done immediately
with equal success. The sanitary service suffered grievously, especially
at the beginning,--needed all the help that generous outsiders could
give,--still needs it. The percentage of death among the wounded is too
high, of those returned to the army too low. There have been wastes in
other directions due to haste, inexperience, political interference, but
nothing like the wastes that England has suffered from the same causes,
infinitely less than we should suffer judging from the ineptitudes we
displayed in our little Spanish War.

Probably France is not as well organized to-day for the war business
as is Germany. Very possibly she never will be, which is not to the
discredit of her people. The nation has had to do in one short year,
grievously handicapped at the start, what Germany has done at her leisure
during forty years. Moreover, the Latin temperament is intolerant of the
mechanical, the routine, which is the glory of the German. Although the
French have realized with marvelous quickness the necessity of war
organization and have adapted themselves to it,--have learned the German
lesson,--they are spiritually above making it the supreme ideal of
national effort. Without argument they have accepted the conditions
imposed upon them, but they do not regard the modern war business as
the flower of human civilization.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mere preparation, no matter how scientific and thorough, is by no
means the whole of the German lesson. The first months of the war
we heard too much about German preparedness, too little about German
character. By this time the world is realizing that military preparation
is but one manifestation of that German character, and the real danger
is German character itself. According to reports in her own newspapers
Germany found herself running short of war materials after the first
weeks of this extraordinarily prodigal war, which exceeded even her
prudent calculations. But Germany had the habit of preparation and the
social machinery ready to enlarge her war product. Without advertising
her situation to the world, she provided for the new requirements so
abundantly that she has not yet betrayed any deficiency in material.
And while she was sweeping victoriously across northern France toward
Paris, with the belief that the city must fall before her big guns,
nevertheless her engineers took pains to prepare the Aisne line of
defense, which saved her armies from disaster and enabled them to keep
their tenacious grip on Belgium and northern France. This is the real
strength of Germany, the real import of the bitter lesson she is
teaching the world--the habit of preparation, discipline, organization,
thrift. On the specifically military side the French seem to have learned
this lesson well. They have fortified the ground between the present
front and Paris with line after line of defensive works. The fields are
gray with barbed wire. A few miles outside of the suburbs of Paris may
be seen as complete a system of trenches as on the front, and the _kepi_
of the territorial digging a trench is a familiar sight almost anywhere
in eastern France. It is inconceivable that any "drive" on the western
front could be successful. The confidence of the French rests in part
on these precautions.

Whether the French can apply the inner meaning of the German lesson,
can incorporate it into their characters and transmit it to their
children, is a larger question for us as well as for them, for the
whole world. But their success in applying it in this war is all
the more noteworthy in contrast with the failure of their two great
allies, who were not invaded, not handicapped at the start, as was
France. The failure of Great Britain and of Russia to master the
lesson is so obvious, so lamentable, that it needs no emphasis here.
France, with the brunt of invasion only a few miles from the gates
of Paris, her factories and mines lost, has provided herself very
largely, has supplied Serbia with ammunition, Italy with artillery,
Russia, England, and Italy with aeroplanes. For many months the
thirty miles of the western front held by the English was defended
with the assistance of French artillery.

The Slav one expected to fail in getting his German lesson, for
obvious reasons, especially because of his reactionary and corrupt
bureaucracy. But not the Anglo-Saxon! As a clever French staff
officer remarked,--"The two disappointments of the war have been
the Zeppelins and the English." Without making a _post mortem_ on
the English case, the Latin superiority is a phenomenon worth
pondering. For the Anglo-Saxon, cousin to the Teuton, would supposably
be the better fitted to receive the German lesson of organization
and discipline. But that ideal of individual liberty, which England
surely did not inherit from her Germanic ancestors, seems to have
degenerated into a license that threatens her very existence as a
great state. The English still talk of "muddling through somehow"!
If the end of autocracy is barbarism, the end of liberty is anarchy.

The Latin has kept the mean between the two extremes. The French,
having fought more desperately in their great revolution for individual
freedom than any other people, seem able to recognize its necessary
limits and to subordinate the individual at necessity to the salvation
of the nation. In the Latin blood, however modified, there remains
always the tradition of the greatest empire the world has known, which
for centuries withstood the assaults of ancient barbarism. The wonderful
resistance and adaptability of the French to-day is of more than
sentimental importance to mankind. All the world, including their foes,
pay homage to the gallantry and greatness of the French spirit in their
dire struggle, but what has not been sufficiently recognized is the
significance to the future of the recovery by the Latin peoples of the
leadership of civilization. We Americans who have both traditions in our
blood, with many modifications, are as much concerned in this world
decision as the combatants themselves.

So much has become involved in the titanic struggle, so many
subordinate issues have risen to cloud the one cardinal spiritual
issue at stake, that we are likely to forget it or deny that there
is any. Is the world to be barbarized again or not?

       *       *       *       *       *

This reiterated use of the term "barbarism" is not merely rhetorical
nor cheap invective. It is exact. One of the Olympian jests of this
world tragedy has been the passionate verbal battles over the claims
of respective "_Kulturs_" to the favor of survival. Why deny that the
barbarian can have a very superior form of "_Kultur_" and yet remain
a barbarian in soul? These pages on the German lesson are a tribute
to Germany's special contribution to the world. Social and industrial
organization, systematic instead of loose ways of doing things,
prudence, thrift, obedience and subordination of the individual to
the state, discipline--in a word, an efficient society. It is a great
lesson! No one to-day can belittle its meaning. Possibly the remote,
hidden reason for all this seemingly useless bloody sacrifice in our
prosperous modern world is to teach the primary principles of the
lesson. God knows that we all need it--we in America most after the
Russian, and next to us the English. If the world can learn the lesson
which Germany is pounding in with ruin, slaughter, and misery,--can
discipline itself without becoming Teutonized,--the sacrifice is not
too great. If the non-Germanic peoples cannot learn the lesson
sufficiently well, then the Teuton must rule the world with "his old
German God." His boasted superiority will become fact, destiny.

That is the momentous decision which is being wrought out these days
in Europe with blood and tears--the relative importance to mankind of
discipline and liberty. The ideal is to have both, as much of one as
is consistent with the other. In this country and in England may be
seen the evil of an individualism run into license--the waste, the
folly of it. And in Germany may be seen the monstrous result of an
idolatrous devotion to the other ideal--the man-made machine without
a soul. Between the two lies the fairest road into the future, and
that road, with an unerring instinct, the Latin follows.

       *       *       *       *       *

The German lesson is not the whole truth: it is the poorer half of
the truth. An undisciplined world is more in God's image than a world
from which beauty, humanity, and chivalry have been exterminated. But
discipline is the primal condition of survival. Between these two poles,
between its body and its soul, mankind must struggle as it has always
struggled from the beginning of time....

When I looked on the sensitive, suffering faces of Frenchwomen in
their mourning, the wistful eyes of crippled youths, the limp forms
of wounded men, the tense, bent figures of dirty _poilus_ in their
muddy trenches, I knew that through their souls and bodies was
passing the full agony of this struggle.




V


_The Faith of the French_

I do not mean religious faith, although that too has been evoked,
reaffirmed by the trials and griefs of the war, but I mean faith in
themselves, in their cause, in life. The unshakable faith of the French
is the one most exhilarating, abiding impression that the visitor takes
from France these days. It is so universal, so pervasive, so contagious
that he too becomes irresistibly convinced, no matter how dark the present
may be, how many victories German arms may win, that the ultimate triumph
of the cause is merely deferred.

There has never been the slightest panic in France, not during the
mobilization when white-faced men and women realized that the dreaded
hour had struck, not even in those days of suspense when the public
began to realize that the first reports of French victories in Alsace
were deceptive and that the enemy was almost at the gates of Paris.
A million or so people left the city with the Government in order to
escape the expected siege, but there was no panic, not even among the
wretched creatures driven from their homes in the provinces before the
blast of the German cyclone.

Ever since the battle of the Marne the tide of confidence has been
steadily rising, in spite of the tedious disappointments of trench
warfare, the small gains of ground, the steady toll of lives, in
spite of reverses in Galicia and Poland and the mistakes in the
Dardanelles, in spite of English sluggishness and Russian weakness.
Each reverse has been courageously accepted, analyzed, and found not
decisive, merely temporary. Victory must come to the ones who can
endure to the end, and the French know now that they can endure.
"We can do it all alone, if we have to!" Again, "The Germans know
that they are beaten already: they know it in Berlin as well as we
do." This confidence is based on realities--first on the success with
which France has learned the German lesson and completely reorganized
her life for the business of war. "We were not ready last August--but
we are now." Her machine is growing stronger in spite of the daily
waste of life, while the German machine is weakening steadily.

       *       *       *       *       *

The farther one gets into the military zone, the more fervent and
evident is this confidence, until on the front it is an irresistible
conviction that inspires men and officers alike. Even a novice like
myself began to understand why the army is sure of ultimate victory,
and the longer one stays at the front the more this faith of the
French seems justified. In the first place, they have so well got
that German lesson! The supply of shell and gun is so abundant, also
of fresh troops in reserve thanks to "Papa" Joffre's frugality with
human lives; the first, second, third lines--on _ad infinitum_ to
Paris--are so carefully fortified, so alertly held against any "drive"!
And the troops are so fit! They have made themselves at home in their
new camping life behind the lines of dugouts and caves; they have
become gnomes, woodsmen, cavemen, taking on the earth colors of the
primitive world to which they have been forced to return in order
to free the soil of their country. Then one sees the steady creeping
forward of the front itself, not much as it looks on a small-scale
map, but as the officers point out the blasted woods, or the brow of
a hill over which the trenches have been slowly pushed metre by metre
throughout the interminable weeks of constant struggle, one sees that
gradually the French have got the upper hand, the commanding positions
in long stretches of the trench wall. They are on the hills, their
artillery commands the level fields before them. It is like the struggle
between two titanic wrestlers who have swayed back and forth over the
same ground so long that the spectator can see no advance for either.
But one wrestler knows that the inches gained from his adversary count,
that the body in his grasp is growing weaker, that the collapse will
come soon--with a rush. He cannot tell fully why he feels this
superiority, but he knows that his adversary is weakening.

Perhaps a colonel on the front will tell you with elation,--"We know
that the Boches across the way are discouraged, because our prisoners
say so,--we take prisoners more easily than we did,--and they are all
mixed up in their formations. We know that they have to drive their men
to the job, that the lines about here are stripped as bare as they dare
keep them. There used to be a lot of reserve troops behind their lines,
but our aviators say there aren't any in X----any more! And they aren't
as free with their _obus_ as they used to be, and they are 'old
nightingales,' not first quality." Perhaps the staff officers will smile,
knowing that the enemy is massing his forces elsewhere on the long front,
but this trick of rapid change is becoming harder to perform, and more
exhausting. At any rate, the plain _poilus_ in the front trenches are
instinctively sure: "We'll have 'em now soon!" They have watched that
grim gray wall opposite so long that, like animals, they can feel what
is going on there on the other side.

       *       *       *       *       *

At staff headquarters in a more contained, reserved way there is
the same air of vital confidence. "Have you seen the new pump?" the
general asked me. "We are pumping good water all over this sector
into the front trenches, too.... Oh, we are _bien installe!_ ... It
may be another year, two, perhaps more, but the end is certain. There
is one man in the trenches, another just behind in reserve, still
another resting somewhere in the woods for his week off, and more,
all the men we want back in the _depots_!" And he turns the talk to
the good health of his men, their fine spirit. For one of the human,
lovable qualities of the officers whom I met is that they prefer to
talk about the comfort, the _morale_, the _esprit_, of their men to
discussing "operations."

Just here I see where the French have risen above the machine idea
of the German lesson. There is a something plus, over and above
"preparation," "organization," "efficiency," which the Latin has
and on which his confidence in ultimate victory largely rests. That
is his belief in the individual, his reliance on the strength of the
individual's spirit. To the French officer this seems the all-important
factor in the army: military force depends ultimately upon the _esprit_
of the individual which creates the _morale_ of the whole. Of course,
the army must be equipped in the modern way and fought in the modern
way with all the resources of science, with aeroplanes, bombs, motor
transport, and heavy artillery. But without the full devotion of the
individual, without the cooeperation of his _esprit_, the army would
be a dead machine, especially in this nerve-rending endurance contest
of the trenches. Here is the Latin idea, which is absolutely opposed
to the German machine theory of war.

The German staff has done marvels with its machine. It hurls armies
over the map of Europe of initiative and devotion in the common soldier,
who in the Latin conception of the word remains a human being with a
soul. An officer remarked to me, "We cannot have our men come from the
trenches glum and downcast--a Frenchman must laugh and joke or something
is wrong with him. So we started these vaudevilles behind the lines, and
sports." Instead of more drill they give their men "shows," so that they
may laugh and forget the horrors of the trench. Good psychology!

       *       *       *       *       *

The civilian shines through every French soldier--the civilian who is
a human being like you or me, with the same human needs. The officers
chat and joke familiarly with their men. Comradeship is substituted for
tyranny. France, one comprehends, is a real democracy, and still takes
the ideal of equality seriously. When I asked an officer at Rheims why
he had not had a day's leave in ten months while English officers went
home on leave, he said, with a shrug,--"France is a republic: our men
must get their leaves first."

The machine system gives startling results--in a short campaign. But
when it comes to an endurance contest, to the long, long strains of
trench warfare, something other than drill and organization is necessary,
something that will rouse the human being to the last atom of effort
that he has in him. When men must stand up to their waists in icy water,
live in the inferno of constant bombardment, not for hours and days, but
for weeks and months, something other than discipline is needed to keep
them sufficiently alive to be of use. Doctors tell how willingly,
unquestioningly, the wounded go back to the hell they have escaped,--not
once, but twice, three times. To evoke the capacity for heroism in the
individual soldier has been the triumph of the Latin system.

The faith of the French rests justly on their heroic resolution, their
ability to endure as individuals, more than on the lesson learned of
preparation and organization.

       *       *       *       *       *

Faith is a belief in the evidence of things unseen. French faith
is of many kinds, not purely material, not military. They believe
so profoundly in the perfect justice and high importance of their
cause that it would seem as if they counted upon the cause alone to
win the victory. No nation, they say, ever spent itself in a better
cause. Victims of an unprovoked attack, unprepared, which is the best
evidence of peaceable will, witnesses of the outrage of a neighbor
people, bleeding from the wounds of their own country,--what better
cause for war could men have? And the Latin intelligence of the
French enables them from the humblest to the highest to perceive the
universality of the principles for which they are called upon to die.
It is no selfish, not even a merely national, cause--it is the cause
of nothing less than humanity in which they fight.

The philosopher Bergson expressed this sublime confidence in the
cause thus (I give the substance of his words from memory): "Not all
wars can be avoided--perhaps nine out of ten can. But this one, no!
For it is a war of principles. It will be a long war because the enemy
is strong and we were unprepared. But we can wait the end confident in
the result. The Germans have created a false belief, a wrong idea, and
have carried that idea into action with extraordinary thoroughness. But
the belief rests upon error. When the day comes that they meet reverses,
when their idol of force no longer works miracles for them, then they
will collapse, from within. There will be a general breakdown of
personality from realizing the falsity of their idea. There lies our
victory."

The philosopher's belief is based on the faith that the principles
of justice, of law, of humanity are stronger, more enduring than any
organization of force no matter how efficient, for this is a moral
world. And the individual or nation who relies upon might to enforce
wrong must in the end, perceiving the irrationality of his world,
collapse. The grinding of the mill may be heart-breakingly slow, but
the grist is as sure as life itself.

Similarly, the statesman Hanotaux has expressed "The Moral Victory":
"It is the noblest, the highest of causes which has been submitted
to the arbitrament of arms. Its grandeur justifies the terrible extent
of the drama and the immense sacrifices it imposes. The material results
of victory will be immense, the moral results will be even greater....
Moral forces are superior to physical forces, and in spite of all they
will have the last word.... Our youth has gone to the front in the
serene conviction that it was fighting not only for the _patrie_, but
for humanity, that this war was a sort of crusade, that they could
claim place beside St. Louis and Jeanne d'Arc."

It is that heroic consciousness of a righteous martyrdom that I read
on the faces of the black-robed women in the street, too proud for
tears; in the silent figures on the hospital beds, suffering without
protest an agony too deep for words. And when I encountered a file
of soldiers in the muddy trenches, flattening themselves out against
the earth walls to let me pass, carrying pails of soup to the comrades
up front, or sitting motionless beside their burrows along the trench
wall, their hands clasping their rifles,--dirty, grimed, and bearded,--I
saw the same thing in their tired eyes, their drawn faces. Mute martyrs
in the cause of humanity, in _my_ cause, they were giving their lives
for others, for _me_, not merely that the German might be driven from
France, but that justice and honor and peace between men might prevail
in the world!

       *       *       *       *       *

Because the French people are inspired with the grandeur and the
moral significance of their cause, they cannot understand a certain
cynical attitude of mind, well illustrated by a former Senator of
the United States, who has been high in the councils of the defunct
Progressive Party. After spending ten days in Paris last spring, he
remarked at a luncheon given him by some distinguished Frenchmen,--"Don't
tell me about the justice of your cause or about the atrocities. I am
not interested in that. What I want to know is, who is going to win!"
Who is going to win! There spoke the barbarian mind. The barbarian
mind cannot comprehend that the winning itself in a world cause is
inextricably involved in the justice and worth of the cause.

For the same reason the French people have been puzzled by the sort
of neutrality preached and practiced at Washington since the outbreak
of the war. It is plain enough that neither France nor England desires
to have the United States go to war with Germany. We can help them
better as a huge supply house than as an ally, much as that might
offend our vanity. The French appreciate also our President's desire
to keep his country at peace. They are a peace-loving people and know
the frightful costs of war. But they cannot understand a neutrality
that avoids committing itself upon a moral issue such as was presented
to the world in Belgium, in the sinking of the Lusitania. And in spite
of the strict censorship, which for obvious reasons has muzzled the
French press in its comment upon our diplomacy with Germany, occasionally
flashes of a biting scorn of the Wilson neutrality have appeared in print,
as the following from Hanotaux: "We should be wanting truly in frankness
toward our great sister republic if we left her in the belief that this
series of documents, of a tone particularly friendly and affectionate,
addressed to the German Government after such acts as theirs, had not
occasioned in France a certain surprise.... Up to this time the Allies,
who have not, God be praised, compromised or even menaced the life of
any neutral, of any American, have not received the twentieth part of
these friendly terms that the German Government has brought forth by
its implacable acts.... What the world awaits from President Wilson is
not merely a note, it is a verdict. What do neutral peoples, what does
the American Government, what does President Wilson think of the German
doctrine,--'Necessity knows no law--the end justifies the means'?...
Every Government that acts or speaks at the present hour decides the
nature of the real peace, whether it will be an affirmation of those
eternal principles that are alone capable of directing humanity toward
its sacred end."

To our eternal shame as a nation our Government has evaded, up to
this hour, pronouncing the expected verdict, has preferred to quibble
and define, in its vain attempt to hold the barbarian to a "strict
accountability"--whatever that may mean. France does not want our
army or our navy, not even our money and our factories, except on
business terms, but she has looked in vain for our affirmation as
a nation of our belief in her great cause, which should be our own
cause--the cause of all free peoples.

       *       *       *       *       *

What a timid and verbal interpretation of neutrality has prevented
our Government from affirming, the American people, let us be
thankful, have done generously, abundantly. They have pronounced
a not uncertain verdict, and they have followed this moral verdict
with countless acts of sympathy. The cause of France, the faith of
the French, have roused the chivalry of the best Americans. Our youths
are fighting in the trenches, our doctors and nurses are giving their
services, our money is helping to stanch the wounds of France. As
a people we too have affirmed our faith in the cause and are doing
generously, spontaneously, as is our wont, what we can to win that
cause for the world. The splendid hospital of the American Ambulance
at Neuilly, equipped and operated on the generous American scale,
is the real monument to the beliefs, the hopes, the faith of the
American people.

In that modification of the Anglo-Saxon tradition which America is
fast evolving, there is a subtle sympathy and likeness with the Latin,
which this crisis has brought into evidence. We are less English than
French in spirit, in our ideal of culture, of life.




VI


_The New France_

"This is a return for a new departure!" the Italian poet cried to
his people at Quarto when they were still hesitating between the
paths of a prudent neutrality and intervention in the world decision.
Probably in the poet's thought there was more of concrete ambition
for "national aspirations" than of spiritual rebirth. But for the
French nation it is the spiritual rebirth alone that has any meaning.
No material enlargement of France has ever been seriously contemplated.
The acquisition of Alsace can hardly be termed conquest, and whatever
hopes of indemnity or other material advantages the French may have
permitted themselves to dream of must fade as the financial burden of
all Europe mounts ever higher. Even the recovery of Alsace, according
to those best able to judge,--in spite of German assertions,--would
never have roused France to an aggressive war. Conquest, material
growth, is not an active principle in the French character. How often
I have heard this thought on French lips,--"We want to be let alone,
to be free to live our lives as we think best, to develop our own
institutions,--that is what we are fighting for!" For forty years
the nation has lived under the fear of invasion, a black cloud
always more or less threatening on the frontier, and when the day of
mobilization came every Frenchman knew instinctively what it meant--the
long-expected fight for national existence. And the hope that sustains
the people in their blackest moments is the hope of ending the thing
forever. "Our children and our children's children will not have to
endure what we suffer. It will be a better world because of our
sacrifice."

The conquest that France will achieve is the conquest of herself,
and the fruits of that she has already attained in a marvelous measure.
The reality of a new France is felt to-day by every Frenchman and is
aboundingly obvious to the stranger visiting the country he once knew
in her soft hours of peace. To be sure, intelligent French people say
to you, when you comment on the fact, "But we were always really like
this at bottom, serious and moral and courageous, only you did not see
the real France." Pardonable pride! The French themselves did not know
it. As so often with individual souls, it took the fierce fire of
prolonged trial to evoke the true national character, to bring once
more to the surface ancient and forgotten racial virtues, to brighten
qualities that had become dim in the petty occupations of prosperity.

After I had been in France a short time, nothing seemed falser
to me than the pessimistic assertions of certain German-Americans
and faint-hearted other Americans, that whatever the outcome of the
world war France was "done for," "exhausted," "ruined," must sink to
the level of a third-rate power, and so forth. Nor can I believe the
words of those saddened sympathizers and helpers in the ambulances
and hospitals, that "France is proudly bleeding to death." Her wounds
have been frightful, and through them is still gushing much of the
best blood of the nation. Her bereavement has been enormous, but not
irreparable. Once a real peace achieved, the triumph of the cause,
and I venture to predict that France will give an astonishing
spectacle of rapid recovery, materially and humanly. For the New
France is already a fact, not a faith.

       *       *       *       *       *

Evidence of this rebirth is naturally difficult to make concrete
as with all spiritual quality. It is not merely the solidarity of
the nation, the fervent patriotism, the readiness for every sacrifice,
which are qualities more or less true of all the warring nations,
especially of Germany. It is more than the perpetual Sunday calm
along the rue de la Paix, the absence of that parasitic frivolity
with which Paris--a small part of Paris--entertained the world.
It is not simply that French people have become serious, silent,
determined, with set wills to endure and to win--for that moral
tenacity may relax after the crisis has passed. It is all these
and much more which I shall try to express that has revealed a
new France.

To start with some prosaic proofs of the new life, I will take
the liquor question, a test of social vitality. It is significant
to examine how the different belligerent nations have treated this
problem, which becomes acute whenever it is necessary to call upon
all national reserves in a crisis. Turkey, Italy, and Germany
apparently have no liquor problem; at least the war has not called
attention to it. Russia, whose peasantry was notoriously cursed with
drunkenness, eradicated the evil, ostensibly, by one arbitrary ukase,
though, if persistent reports from the eastern war region are true,
her great reform has not yet reached her officers. England has played
feebly with the question from the beginning when the ravages of drink
among the working population--what every visitor to England had
known--became painfully evident to the Government in its efforts
to mobilize war industries and increase production. Various minor
restrictions on the liquor traffic have been imposed, but nothing
that has reached to the roots of the matter--probably because of
the powerful liquor interest in Parliament as much as from the
Englishman's fetish of individual liberty. Although the direct
handicap of drunken workmen did not affect France as it did England,
the French authorities quickly realized the indirect menace of
alcoholism and have taken real measures to combat it. Absinthe has
been abolished. For the army--and that includes practically all the
younger and abler men--the danger has been minimized by the strict
enforcement of regulations as to hours and the non-alcoholic nature
of drinks permitted, which are posted conspicuously in all cafes
and drinking-places and which are carefully observed, as any one who
tries to order liquor in company with a man in uniform will quickly
find out! I never saw a soldier or an officer in the least degree
under the influence of liquor while I was in France, either at
the front or outside the military zone, and very few workingmen.
Not content with the control of liquor in the army, the French have
seriously attacked the whole problem, which in France centers in the
right of the fruit-grower to distill brandy,--an ancient custom that
in certain provinces has resulted in great abuses. Legislation
against the _bouilleurs de crue_ is one inevitable outcome of the
awakened sense of social responsibility in France.

Connected with the liquor evil is the birth-rate question, to which
since the war the attention of all serious-minded people has been
drawn. The French Academy of Sciences has undertaken an elaborate
series of investigations into the relations between the birth-rate
and the consumption of alcohol, which would seem to show that there
is cause and effect between the excessive use of alcohol and a
declining birth-rate. This will undoubtedly tend to create a popular
sentiment favorable to restrictive liquor legislation, specifically
to abolishing the right to distill spirits. But what is of more real
significance is the changing sentiment among the French in favor of
larger families. Due, no doubt, directly to the necessities of a
draining war, it is also an expression of those deeper experiences
that trial has brought. The French have always prized family life,
and French family life is, perhaps, the best type of the social bond
that the world knows. Under the stress of widespread bereavement the
French are realizing that the base of the family is not love between
the sexes, but the existence of children. They want children, not
only to take the place of their men sacrificed, but as symbols of
that greater love for the race that the war has evoked. Although
the crudity of the "war-bride" method of increasing the population
is not evident in France, every working-girl wears the medallion of
some "hero" on her breast. Girls say frankly that they want children.
The Latin will never accept the German principle of indiscriminate
breeding. As in every other aspect of life, the Latin emphasizes the
individual, the personal; but an awakened patriotism and pride of
race, a deepened sense of the real values of life will lead to a
greater devotion to the family ideal.

       *       *       *       *       *

To shift to the political life of France, the history of the republic
has been tempestuous in the past. There has been a succession of
_coups d'etat_, plots, and scandals. One political _cause celebre_
has followed another--the Boulanger, the Dreyfus, and quite lately
the Caillaux. The wide publicity which these political scandals have
had is due partly to the Latin love of excitement, also to the Latin
frankness about washing dirty political linen in public. To the
foreigner it has seemed strange that a republic could endure with
such abysses of intrigue and personal corruption beneath its political
life as have been shown in the Panama and Dreyfus scandals. The Germans
probably have been misled by them into considering the French nation
wholly despicable and degenerate. But France has not only endured in
spite of these rotten spots, but her republicanism has grown stronger.
Americans experienced in their own sordid politics should understand
how uncharacteristic of the real citizenship of a democracy politicians
can be. The real France has never taken with entire seriousness the
machinations of "those rats in the Chamber." These "rats" were quite
active during the first months of the war. Aside from the incompetence
of the first war ministry, which kept the public in ignorance of the
danger so completely that the enemy was at Soissons before Paris was
aware that the French army was being driven back, and all the blunders
of the raid into Alsace, France had its sinister political menace in
Joseph Caillaux, who it has been rumored plotted a disgraceful peace
with Germany before the battle of the Marne. Caillaux, when his
creature, the grafting paymaster-general, was exposed, found it wise
to go to South America. An able and on the whole a competent ministry
was placed in power.

When Caillaux returned last spring, rumors of legislative unrest
and plotting against the Joffre-Millerand control of the army
began once more. Outwardly it was an attempt of party leaders in
the Chamber to gain greater legislative control of the conduct of
the war, ostensibly for the improvement of bureaucratic methods,
as in the sanitary service, which was notably deficient. But beneath
this agitation were the dangerous forces of political France seeking
to oust Joffre, and there lay the menace that a political clique might
get control of the army. This agitation, however, did not disturb
the public. As one Frenchman put it, "If those rats get too active,
Gallieni will take them out and shoot them. France is behind the
army, and the people will not tolerate legislative interference with
it." The political unrest has at last resulted in a new and larger
cabinet, admittedly the most representative body that France could
have. The danger of political interference has passed without resort
to summary methods. It is a triumph of democracy. France will fight
the war to an end under constitutional government, a much more
difficult task than Germany's. Obviously, as may be seen in England,
parliamentary government is a great hindrance to a nation in the
abnormal state of war. Free societies have this handicap to contend
with when they fight an autocratic machine. To maintain her republican
government without scandals throughout the war will be a political
triumph for France, indicative of the new spirit that has entered
into the nation. The seriousness of the present situation has sobered
all men and has suppressed the politicians by the mere weight of
responsibility. The New France emerging from the trial of war can
profit by this experience to purge her political life of the
scandalous elements in it.

Italy has closed her Parliament and relapsed temporarily into autocracy.
England and France are struggling to maintain popular government as we
did through the Civil War.

       *       *       *       *       *

Much has been said of the heroic spirit of the French nation under
the tragedy of the war. Too much could not be said. The war has
evoked patriotism among all the peoples engaged, but with the French
there is a peculiar idealistic passion of tenderness for the _patrie_
which impresses every observer who has had the good fortune to see
the nation at war. I shall not linger long on these familiar,
inspiring aspects of love for country that the war has called forth
from all classes. The ideal spirit of French youth has been
illustrated in some letters given to the public by the novelist,
Henry Bordeaux, called "Two Heroes." They relate the personal
experiences of two youths, one twenty, the other twenty-one, whose
baptism of fire came in the battle of the Marne. They grew old fast
under the ordeal of battle and of responsibility for the lives of
their men; their letters home show a loftiness of spirit, a sense
of self-forgetfulness, of devotion to the cause, that is sublime,
poignant--and typical. In every rank of society the same immense
devotion, the same utter renouncement of selfish thought can be felt.
A spirit of ideal sacrifice has spread throughout the nation, making
France proud, heroic, confident. Such a spirit must be a benediction
for generations to come.

The common effort, the universal grief, has drawn all French people
so close together that social and party differences have disappeared.
The French priest has become once more the heroic leader of his
people, fighting by their side in the trenches. The scholars, the
poets, the artists have all done their part,--the nuns, the
aristocrats, the working-people theirs. While England has been
harassed with strikes and class recriminations, France has never
known in her entire history such absolute social harmony and unity,
such universal and concentrated will.

This spirit of "sacred union" embraces the women who are doing men's
tasks, the rich who are surrendering their good American securities
to the Government in exchange for national defense bonds, the poor
who are bringing their little hordes of gold to the Bank of France to
swell the gold reserve. I wish that every American might stand in the
court of the Bank of France and watch that file of women and old men
depositing their gold--the only absolute security against want they
have! That is faith made evident, and love.

       *       *       *       *       *

In looking over the bulky file of French newspapers, illustrated
weeklies, and pamphlets on the war, which I brought back with me, I
am struck by the fact that the outstanding characteristic of all this
comment on the great war from journalist to statesman and publicist
is not denunciation of the barbarian. Denunciation plays a singularly
small part in the French reaction to their suffering. References to
Germans and Germany are usually of a psychological or humorous
character, illustrating the grotesque and antipathetic aspects in
which the Teuton presents himself to the Latin mind. That part which
grieving and denunciation have played in English comment, the gross
and apoplectic hate of the German press, is taken by lyrical
enthusiasm for heroism. The newspapers, sure pulse of popular
appetite, are filled daily with stories of sacrifice, gallantry,
heroism. This is the aspect of the sordid bloody war that the French
spirit feeds on. It is a fresh manifestation of an old national
trait--the love of chivalry. Some day, doubtless, these splendid
tales of individual heroism, of soldierly and civilian sacrifice,
will be gathered together to make the laurel wreath of the New
France. I could fill a volume with those I have read and heard. And I
like to think that while Germany went wild over the torpedoing of the
Lusitania,--even dared to celebrate it in America,--while the
Zeppelin raids arouse her patriotic enthusiasm, the French gloat over
the story of the private who crawled out of the trench and hunted for
two days without food or water for his wounded officer. The love of
the _beau geste_ is an ineradicable trait of French character. It has
had a bountiful satisfaction in this war.

"We have fought a chivalrous war," General C. exclaimed, pointing to
the little figure of Jeanne d'Arc. The same general ordered that the
government dole of a franc and a half a day be paid to those Alsatian
women whose husbands were fighting in the German army. "They are
French women: it is not their fault that their husbands are fighting
against France!" And the deathless touch of all, which will be
remembered in the world long after the destruction wrought to the
cathedral of Rheims, is the picture of French saving German wounded
in the burning church--fired by German shells!

The _beau geste_, the beautiful act, which ennobles all men, not
merely the doer of the deed,--that is what France is giving the
world. The image of men who are more than efficient and strong and
physically courageous, of men who are filled with a divine spirit of
sacrifice and devotion. Truly supermen.

Chivalry was a trait of the Old France as it is of the New. It
has fallen somewhat into disrepute of late years with the rise
of the comfort and efficiency standards. Nowhere else on the broad
battlefields of Europe has it revived, to redeem the horror of war,
so shiningly as in the New France.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another aspect of French character which is both old and new is
the quality of humorous "sportsmanship" the French have displayed.
When Germany's crack aviator made a daily visit to Paris, dropping
bombs, in the afternoon during the early weeks of the war, the
Parisians took his arrival as a spectacle and thronged the boulevards
to watch him and applaud. When at last he was shot through the head,
the French press lamented his loss with genuine appreciation of his
nerve and his skill. A young cavalry officer at the front told me
this story: One of the younger officers of his regiment, to encourage
his men, had offered rewards for German shoulder straps, that is,
prisoners. Two simple peasants, misunderstanding his words, proudly
brought in a couple of pairs of German ears strung on a string like
game. The officer, brooding over the incident, resolved to explain
and apologize to the enemy. Putting his handkerchief on the point of
his sword, he crawled out of the trench and advanced across the field
of death between the lines.

Tales from the trenches by the hundreds prove that the French have
not lost the sparkle of wit even under the dreary conditions of
trench-fighting. When Italy joined the Allies, some soldiers of a
front-line trench hoisted the placard,--"Macaroni mit uns!" Again,
when boasting placards of German successes in Galicia were displayed,
the French _poilus_ retorted,--"You lie. You have taken ten thousand
officers and ten millions of troops." When in a German military
prison the keepers boasted of their recent successes on the western
front, the French prisoners began to sing the _Marseillaise_ to the
astonishment of their German guards, "because," as they explained,
"we know if you have killed all those French soldiers, you must have
lost at least four times as many!"

The barbarian misread the Gallic love of wit and laughter. To joke
and quip seemed to him beneath the dignity of men. It is, rather,
the safety-valve of a highly intelligent people--the outlet for their
ironic perceptions of life. The most amusing songs of the war that I
have heard were given by the _poilus_ on a little stage near Commercy
while the cannon thundered a few miles away. This ability to turn
upon himself and see his life in a humorous light is an invaluable
quality of the French soldier. So, too, is his love of handicraft
which finds many ingenious expressions even in the trenches. The
French soldier is always a civilian, with a love of neatly arranged
gardens and terraces, and he lays out a _potager_ in the curve of a
shell-swept hillside, or a neat flower garden in the crumbled walls
of a village house. He makes rings from the aluminum found in German
shell-caps, carves the doorposts of his stone dugout, or likenesses
of his officers on beam-ends, as I saw in a colonel's quarters in
the Bois-le-Pretre.

The French soldier remains, even in this bloodiest of wars, always
a civilian, a man, capable of laughter and tears, of heroic heights,
of chivalrous sacrifices,--with the soul's image of what manhood
requires, with the vision of a state of free individual men like
himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

The New France is inspired with qualities of Old France, qualities
which I call Latin, which have emerged into high relief under grief
and suffering and effort. It is above all gallant and high-minded.
The wounded Frenchman never complains or whimpers. "_C'est la
guerre--que voulez-vous!_" To the surgeon who has operated on
him,--"_Merci, mon major_." And they lie legless or armless, perhaps
with running sores, a smile on the face in answer to the sympathetic
word, in long hospital rows....

The fundamental element in this New France is the gravity, the
seriousness of it. Of all the warring peoples the French seem to
realize most clearly what it all means, what it is for, and the deep
import of the decision not merely to them, but to the whole world.
They are fighting, not for territory, but for principles. Peace must
be not a rearrangement of maps, but of men's ideas, of men's wills.
They are the conscious protagonists of a long tradition of ideals
that have once more been put in jeopardy. It is the character of this
human world of ours which they are struggling to mould, and like
actors in a Greek tragedy they are suitably impressed with the
gravity of the issue in their hands.

The New France has been born in the travail of the monstrous
desolation of trench-land that stretches, scabby with shell-holes,
leprous with gray wire, pitted with countless graves, scarred with
crumbled villages for four hundred miles across the fair fields of
_la douce France_. In this savage desert, inhumanly silent except
for the shrieking of shells, for now more than a year's time France
has struggled with the incarnated spirit of evil, rearing its head
again, armed with all the enginery of modern science. The little,
dirty-bearded soldiers squat there in their burrows, white-faced,
tense, silent, waiting, watching, month after month, or plunge over
their walls to give their lives on that death-field outside. They are
the simple martyrs of the New France.

       *       *       *       *       *

France has learned her German lesson; has reorganized her life to
make it tell effectively for her task, has reorganized her inner
life, discarding frivolity and waste. She has found herself in the
fire. France is not "done for," as my German-American friends so
pityingly deem. Bleeding from her terrible wounds, she is stronger
today than ever before,--stronger in will, in spirit, in courage, the
things that count in the long, long run even in the winning of wars.
Technically minded soldiers may judge that "Germany can't be beaten."
But the French know in their souls that she can be, that she is beaten
today! In this greatest of world's decisions it is the spirit of the
Latin that triumphs again--the sanest, suavest, noblest tradition that
the earth has ever known, under which men may work out their mysterious
destiny.




Part Three--America


I


_What Does It Mean to Us?_

I went from the French front back to America. The steamer slipped
down the Gironde between green vineyards, past peaceful villages,
a whole universe distant from that grim, gray trench-land where the
French army was holding the invader in Titan grip, stole cautiously
into the Bay of Biscay at nightfall to escape prowling submarines,
and began to roll in the Atlantic surges, part of those "three
thousand miles of cool sea-water" on which our President so complacently
relies as a nonconductor of warfare. I was homeward bound to America,
the land of Peace, after four months spent in "war-ridden Europe"--to
that homeland stranger somehow than the war lands, where my countrymen
were protesting to both belligerents and making money, manufacturing
war supplies and blowing up factories, talking "peace" and "preparedness"
in the same breath; also--and God be thanked for that!--helping to feed
the starving Belgians, sending men, money, and sympathy to the French.
As the old steamer settled into her fourteen-knot gait, the submarines
ceased to be of more than conversational concern, and I began to ask
myself,--"What does it all mean to us, this bloody sacrifice of world
war,--to us, strong, rich, peaceful, confident Americans?"

For in spite of a curious indifference among many Americans to the
outcome, so long as it did not get us into trouble with either party,
betrayed by personal letters and press articles which I had received,
I was profoundly convinced that the issues of the world tragedy were
momentous to us too. "This European butchery means nothing," said one
friend, who supplies editorial comment for a most widely read American
weekly, "except a lot of poverty, a lot of cripples, and a lot of
sodden hate in the hearts of the people engaged. Europe will not be
changed appreciably as a result of the war!" Our pacifist ex-Secretary
of State, I remember, wrote Baron d'Estournelles de Constant inquiring
what the French were fighting for, implying that to the reasonable
onlooker there was no clear issue involved in the whole business,
merely the passions of misguided patriotism. The well-meaning agitation
for peace, which as I write has been lifted into the grotesque by the
Ford peace ship, is based largely on this inability to realize the
reality of the issue between the belligerents. And there is our national
attitude of strict neutrality, which fairly represents the evasive mind
of many Americans. Happily, they seem to say to themselves, "This war is
not our affair." We were warned by Washington to keep clear of European
"quarrels," and wisely we covered our retreat at The Hague by inserting
that little clause which relieved us from all real responsibility for
the observance of the conventions. Excuse for cowardice and blindness
of vision! Such Americans like to think that as a nation we have no more
concern in the present war than a peaceable family in one house has with
the domestic upheavals of an unfortunate family in the next house. The
part of prudence is to ignore all evidences of unpleasantness, to profess
good offices, and to keep on friendly terms with all the belligerents.

The impression that such an attitude makes on the American in
Europe is painful, whether it be expressed in personal letters,
in newspapers and magazines, or in diplomatic "notes." He becomes
impatient with the provincialism of his own people, ashamed of their
transparent selfishness, astonished that human values should have got
so fatally distorted in our fat, comfortable world. To the European,
American neutrality has become a matter of public indifference, of
private contempt. Inspired with the lofty ambition of playing the
role of mediator in the world war, President Wilson has lost his
chance of influencing the decision toward which Europe is bloodily
fighting its way. At that great peace conference which every European
has perpetually in mind, America will be ignored. Only those who have
shared the bloody sacrifice--at least have had the courage to declare
their beliefs--will penetrate its inner councils. We have had our
reward--money and safety. It is not fantastic even to expect that the
conquerors might under certain circumstances say to the conquered,
"Take your losses from the Americans: they alone have made money out
of our common woe!"

No, ours has not been the _beau geste_ as a nation. Nor can the
American take comfort in the thought that Washington diplomacy does
not fairly represent the sentiment of our people. As the weeks slip
past, it is only too evident that our President has interpreted
exactly the national will. The farther west one travels the colder
is the American heart, and duller the American vision. The numerical
center of the United States is somewhere in the Mississippi Valley.
Europe gave Chicago, in her distress after the great fire, eighty
cents per person; Chicago has given Belgium and France seven cents
per Chicagoan. Not a single Chicago bank appears on the list of
subscribers to the Anglo-French loan,--very few banks anywhere west
of the Alleghanies. "It is not our quarrel; we are not concerned
except to get our money for the goods we sell them!"

       *       *       *       *       *

But are we not concerned? I asked myself as the old steamer throbbed
wheezily westward. Beneath the deck in the ship's strong room there
were thick bundles of American bonds, millions of them, part of the
big American mortgage that Europe has been obliged to sell back to
us. They represent European savings, hopes of tranquil old age, girls'
_dots_, boys' education and start in life. The American mortgage is
being lifted rapidly. The stocks and bonds were going home to pay for
the heavy cargoes of foodstuffs and ammunition and clothes which we
had been shipping to Europe. The savings of the thrifty French were
going to us, who were too rich already. The French were bleeding their
thrift into our bulging pockets, selling their investments for shells
and guns and barbed wire which would not keep old age warm, marry their
girls, or start their boys in life. They were doing it freely, proudly,
for the salvation of their _patrie_, which they love as the supreme
part of themselves. And to us what did all this sacrifice mean? Oh,
that we were growing richer day by day while the war lasted; "dollar
exchange" was coming nearer; we were fast getting "rotten with money,"
as a genial young coal merchant who had the deck chair next mine
remarked affably. Yes, the war meant that to us surely,--we were fast
raking in most of the gold that Europe has been forced to throw on the
table of international finance, the savings, the _dots_, the stakes of
her next generation. The number of lean-faced American business men,
war brokers, on the steamer was plain evidence of that. Already
Prosperity was flooding into America--that prosperity upon which our
President congratulated the country in his Thanksgiving address.

But is that prosperity a good thing for the American people just
now? Aside from the speculation excited by the superabundance of gold
in our banks, there is the envy of hungry Europe to be reckoned with
a few months or years hence, after the close of the great war, an envy
that might readily be translated into predatory action under certain
circumstances, as some thoughtful Americans are beginning to perceive.
Eastern America, where the war money has largely settled, is already
fearful, desires to arm the nation to protect its prosperity. And
there is the more subtle, the more profound danger that this undigested
war bloat of ours will dull the American vision still further to the
real issue at stake--the kind of world we are willing, the kind of soul
we wish, to possess. Can we safely digest the prosperity that the happy
accident of our temporary isolation and the prudent policies of our
Government have given us? Are we not feeding a cancer that will take
another war to cut from our vitals?

       *       *       *       *       *

Most of us on board were Americans going about our businesses on a
belligerent nation's ship in defiance of Mr. Bryan's advice. The man
next to me was building a new munitions plant for France, and beyond
him was the European manager for a large American corporation whose
factories have been taken over by the German Government. He was
returning to America to enter the munitions business in Pittsburg
or Connecticut. To these commercial travelers of war the European
struggle meant, naturally, first of all money, the opportunity of a
lifetime to make money quickly; it meant also less vividly helping
the Allies, who needed everything they could get from us and were
willing to pay almost any price for it. Sometimes they talked of the
long list of "accidents" that were happening daily in American factories
and genially cursed the hyphenated Germans. As for the other sort of
Germans they felt vaguely that some day America must reckon with them,
too. Evidently they put small faith in the "three thousand miles of
cool sea-water" as a nonconductor of warfare! So here was another
aspect of the war--the possible dangers to us, without a friend in
the world, as every one agreed. And we talked "preparedness" in the
usual desultory way. The munitions men seemed to think that they were
patriotically working for their own country in getting "the plant" of
war into being. "Some day we shall need guns and shells too!" Afterwards
I found in America that this vague fear of probable enemies had seized
hold of the country quite generally, and that the very Government which
had done nothing toward settling the present war rightly was planning
for "defense" with a prodigal hand. Peaceful America was getting
alarmed--of what?

There were also in our number some young doctors and nurses who were
returning from the hospitals in France for a little needed rest. They
were of those young Americans who are giving themselves so generously
for the cause, eager, courageous, sympathetic. They seemed to me to
have gotten most from the war of all us Americans, much more than the
munitions men who were making money so fast. In Belgium, in Serbia,
behind the French lines, in the great hospital at Neuilly, they had
got comprehension and all the priceless rewards of pure giving. They
had seen horror, suffering, and waste indescribable; but they had
seen heroism and devotion and chivalry. And with them should be joined
all the tender-hearted and generous Americans at home who have aided
their efforts, who are working with the energy of the American character
"for the cause." Alas, already the word was coming of a relaxation in
the generosities, the devotions, the enthusiasms of these Americans.
Other interests were coming into our rapid activities to distract us
from last year's sympathies....

       *       *       *       *       *

So as we rolled on through the soft summer night while the passengers
discussed the latest Russian reverse of which news had been received
by wireless, I kept asking myself,--"What does it really mean to us?
To vast, rich, young America?" Surely not merely more money, more
power, even a loftier inspiration for the few who have given themselves
generously in sympathy and aid. After all, these were but incidental.
The threat we were beginning to feel to our own security, this campaign
for "preparedness," did not seem of prime, moving importance. Probably
in our bewildered state of mind we should wrangle politically about the
matter of how much defense we needed, then drop some more hundreds of
millions into the bottomless pit of governmental extravagance and waste.
We had already spent enough to equip another Germany! When peace was
finally made in Europe, we would forget our fears; our Congressmen and
their parasites would fatten on the new appropriations, which would be
as actually futile as all their predecessors had been. No; these were
hardly the significant aspects of the war to us as a people.

No more was that acrobatic exhibition of diplomatic tight-rope
walking we had witnessed from Washington. Mere "words, words, words,
professor!" Our dialectic President had thus far failed to establish
any one of his contentions, either with Germany or Great Britain, nor
did it seem likely that he ever could. While he was still modifying
that awkward phrase, "strict accountability," Germany obviously would
murder whomsoever it suited her purpose to murder, and England would
hold up any ship that attempted to trade with Germany. All those
neutral rights for which Washington was paying big cable tolls had
not been advanced an atom. The time had gone by when our strong voice
could compel respect from the barbarian, could hearten the soul of
other weaker neutrals. Europe had taken our exact measure. We should
have saved some dignity had we not murmured more than a formal
protest....

And yet, returning from "war-ridden Europe" I was more convinced
than of anything else in life that what was being slowly settled
in that grim trench--land over there did mean something to us--more,
much more than money or neutral rights or sympathetic charities. Not
that I was apprehensive of an immediate German raid on New York, the
crumbling of her sky-scrapers and the exaction of colossal indemnities.
For it looked to me that Germany might well have other occupation
after peace was made in Europe, whichever way the war should go. The
German peril did not lie, I thought, in her big guns, her ships, her
"Prussianized machine." It lay deeper, in herself, in her image of
the world. If Germany could win even a partial victory under that
monstrous creed of applied materialism, illuminated as it had been
with every sort of cynical crime, with its reasoned defiance of contract,
its principle of "indispensable severities," its "military reasons,"
_that_ must become inexorably the law of the world--the barbarians'
law. Germany would have made the morality of the world! And of all
the world's peoples to accept the victor's new reading of the
commandments, proud America would be the first. For we cannot resist
the fascination of success. The German aim, the German tyranny over
the individual, the German morality--one for you and me as individuals
and another utterly lawless one when we get together in a social
state--would be imitated more than the German lesson of thoroughness
in civil and military organization. Hypnotized by German success, we
should not discipline ourselves, which is the German lesson, so much
as we should riot in the moral license of the German creed. Americans
would worship at the altar of that queer "old German god," who
apparently encourages rape, murder, arson, and tyranny in his followers.
For in young America, with every social tradition in it seething blood,
there is already an insidious tendency to accept this new-old religion
of triumphant force. American "Big Business" can understand the Kaiser's
philosophy, can reverence his "old German god" when he brings victory,
more than any other people outside of Germany. For it, too, believes
in "putting things over" with a strong hand. There is not an argument
of the German militarist propaganda that would not find a sympathetic
echo somewhere in the headquarters of American corporations.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the old fourteen-knot steamer finally dropped anchor off
quarantine in New York Harbor and the reporters came on board with
the dust of America on their shoes, the roar of America in their
voices, I was surer than ever that this greatest of world wars meant
a vast deal more to us than trade or charity or politics, which is
what we seem to be making of it for the most part. It means the form
which our national character is to take ultimately. The German peril,
which is held before the public in moving pictures and in alarmist
appeals for "preparedness," is already in our midst, not so much at
work blowing up our factories as insidiously at work in our hearts.
The German apologist--even of Anglo-Saxon blood--is suggesting the
reasonableness of a German verdict. "After all," one hears from his
lips, "there is much on the other side of the shield, which our
English prejudices have prevented us from seeing. Germany cannot be
the monster of barbarism that she has been painted. As for broken
treaties, the atrocities, the submarines, the murder of Edith Cavell,
and her rough work over here,--well, we must remember it is war, and
the Russian Cossacks have not been saints!... As to her military
autocracy, perhaps a little of it would not be a bad thing for
America. At any rate, Germany seems to have the power--it is useless
to think of putting her down.... The American public will forget all
about German crimes once Germany is victorious." "Nothing succeeds
like success." "There is always a reason for success," etc. Which
cynical acceptance proves that we have already "committed adultery in
our hearts."

There are many voices in the air, too many. Americans have not yet
found themselves in this crisis of world tragedy, and the Government
at Washington has not helped them to an understanding. We are vastly
relieved at not finding ourselves "involved" and accept shabby verbal
subterfuges as a triumph of American diplomacy. Meanwhile the Lusitania
incident has been conveniently forgotten, with the awkward phrase
"strictly accountable." Along the eastern seaboard the anxious and the
timid are clamoring for "defense"--against what? The talkative pacifists,
who would make a grotesque farce of the bloody sacrifice by a futile
peace, are bringing further ridicule and contempt on their country
with their impertinent if well-meant efforts. Meantime, the money-makers
have taken this occasion to stage a spectacular bull market, grumbling
on the fruits of war! And there is the "good-time" side to American life.
For a few brief months after the outbreak of the war Americans were
staggered by the awfulness of the tragedy and moved under its shadow.
Their hearts went out in sympathy, in feeding the dispossessed, and
sending aid to the wounded. We spent less on ourselves, partly because
of financial fear, partly because of our desire to give, partly because
our hearts were too heavy to play. But already that serious mood is
passing, and to-day as a people we are hard at it again, chasing a good
time. We feel once more the same old lustful urge to get and enjoy....
The other night as I looked out on the peopled sea of the New York
opera-house, with its women richly dressed and jeweled, its white-faced
men, leading the same life of easy prodigal expense, of sensual
gratification, I remembered another opera staged in the mysterious
twilight of Bayreuth where from the gloom emerged the hoarse bass of
Fafner's cry,--"I lie here possessing!" The voice of the great worm
proved to be the voice of Germany. Is it ours also?

       *       *       *       *       *

Do we Americans desire to have our world Germanized? Not in art and
language and customs, though may Heaven preserve us from that fate
also! But Germanized in soul? Do we want the German image or the Latin
image of the world to prevail? And are we strong enough in our own
ideal to resist a "peaceful penetration" by triumphant Germany into
our minds and hearts? That is the urgent matter for us. No amount
spent on big guns, superdreadnoughts, submarines, and continental
guards--no amount of peace talk--can keep the German peril out of
America if we surrender our souls to her creed, now that Germany
seems to be imposing it successfully with her armies in Europe. Those
dirty _poilus_ in the front trenches are, indeed, fighting our battle
for us, if we did but know it!




II


_The Choice_

"We have all sinned, your people as well as mine, the English,
the French, the Germans, all, all of us,--but Germany has sinned
most." When M. Hanotaux spoke these words with a Hebraic fervor of
conviction, I did not have to be told what he meant. The people of
our time have sinned through their hot desire for material possession
of the earth and its riches--through commercialism, capitalism, call
it what you will. Each great nation has made its selfish race for
economic advancement at the expense of other peoples: commercial
rivalry has largely begotten this bloody war, which is essentially
a predatory raid by one barbarous tribe against the riches of its
neighbors. Whether England or Russia under similar circumstances
would have dared a similar attack on the liberties of the world is
open to speculation. To Germany alone, however, has been reserved the
distinction of elevating greed and the lust of power to the dignity
of a philosophic system, a creed with the religious sanction of that
"old German god" to smite the rivals of the Fatherland and take away
their wealth. It is because Germany has made a consistent monster out
of her materialistic interpretation of modern science that she is now
held up before the nations of the world as a spectacle and a warning.
"We have all sinned" in believing that the body is more than the
spirit, that food and pleasure and power are the primary ends of all
living; but Germany alone has had the effrontery to justify her
cynicism by conscious theory and to teach it systematically to all
her people. She has endowed with life a philosophical idea, given it
the personality of her people, created a national Frankenstein to be
feared and loathed. More, she is coming perilously nigh to imposing
her god upon the world!

We have all worshiped at the shrine of material achievement--in
America with the riot of young strength. England, like old King
Amfortas, is now bleeding from the sins of her youth and calling in
vain for some Parsifal to deliver her from their penalty. She has
built her rich civilization on a morass of exploited millions, and
her Nemesis is that in her hour of peril her sodden millions strike
and drink and feel no imperative urge to give their lives for an
England that sucked her prosperity from their veins. In the race for
commercial supremacy the Latin nations--Italy, Spain, and France--have
been deemed inferior to Germany, England, and the United States,
because they were less tainted with the lust of possession, less
materialistic in their reading of life, less powerful in their grasp
upon economic opportunity than their rivals. In the Latin countries
industry yet remains largely on the small scale, which is economically
wasteful, but which does not build up fabulous wealth at the expense
of the individual worker. The great corporation designed for the rapid
creation of wealth has not found that congenial home on Latin soil
which it has on ours, or on German soil. And this fact accounts for
the touch of handicraft lingering in the product of Latin industry,
for the strength and health individually of their working classes,
for their fervor of devotion to the national tradition. The Latin
has never forgotten the claims of the individual life: democracy to
him is more than the right to vote. Therefore, pure art, pure science,
pure literature--also the world of ideas--has a larger part in the life
of Latin peoples than with us in the eternal struggle with the
materialistic forces of life. To the Latin living is not solely the
gratification of the body. He reckons on the intelligence and the
spirit of man as well.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may seem to some that throughout these pages I have spoken
paradoxically of the world war as primarily a struggle between the
Latin and the Germanic ideal, ignoring the significance of Russia
and of England. In spite of the heroic resistance of the French and
the pertinacious thrust of the Italians against the steel wall in
which Austria has bound them, the Latin forces engaged are obviously
less than half of the Allied Powers. On the sea England is virtually
alone. Nevertheless, I see the struggle as a Latin-German one, the
great decision as essentially a decision between these two types of
ideals. All else is relative and accidental. Apart from the
surprising vitality developed by the two Latin peoples, their
astonishing force in the brutal struggle for survival,--which has
disagreeably put wrong the calculations of their enemy,--it is the
mental and spiritual leadership of the world which is being fought
for rather than the physical. The ideas and the ideals under which
the Allies are fighting, which can be simply summed up however
divergent their manifestations, are French, are Latin ideas and
ideals, not English, not Russian. The spirit of the cause to which
England has lent her imperial supremacy and Russia her undeveloped
strength is Latin, and since the war began the English have widely
borne testimony to this fact.

The right of peoples, little as well as strong nations, to live their
own lives, to preserve their own political autonomy, to develop their
own traditions, is part of the Latin lesson learned in the throes of
the great Revolution. It is expressed passionately, wistfully in that
universal cry of the French people: "We must end this thing--it must
never happen again--we must win the right to live as we see fit, not
under the dictation of another!" To the Latin mind the world is
peopled by individuals who cannot and should not be pressed in the
same political or economic mould, who must win their individual
salvation by an individual struggle and evolution. This is the ideal
of liberty the world over, which prompted France to send us help in
our struggle with England. It is a wasteful, an uneconomic ideal, as
we Americans have proved in our slovenly administration of our great
inheritance. Yet we would not have a machine-made, autocratic
organization, no matter how clean and thrifty and efficient it might
make our cities. We prefer the slow process of conversion to the
machine process of coercion. And that is one source of our sympathy
with French civilization. Let us have all liberty to its possible
limit short of license: the Latin intelligence has known how to
preserve liberty from becoming license. The result in the human being
of the principle of liberty is individual intelligence and spiritual
power; those are the high ideals toward which democracy aims. The
cost of them is efficiency, organization--immediate results which
German discipline obtains. But the cost of the German ideal is the
humanity of life, and that is too big a price to pay. That there
should be found many among us who are willing to exchange the
spiritual flower of our civilization for the sake of a more efficient
social organization is evidence of the extent to which the cancer of
a materialistic commercialism has already eaten into our life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Latin vision of life includes chivalry, as has been abundantly
revealed by the spirit of the French, sorely tried in their struggle
with the new barbarian. Chivalry means beauty of conduct, an
uneconomic, a sentimental ideal, but without which the life of man on
this earth would be forlorn, lacking in dignity, in meaning. Take
from mankind the shadowy dream of himself implied in his desire for a
chivalrous world, and you leave him a naked animal from the jungle,
more despicable the more skillful he becomes in gratifying his lusts.
The Latin vision of life includes also beauty of art, man's radiation
of his inner spiritual world, and closely woven with the love of art
is respect for tradition--reverence for the past which has been
bequeathed to him by his ancestors, which is incorporated in his
blood.

We in America have striven for these beauties of chivalry, art, and
tradition. We have striven to put them into our lives often blindly,
crudely. We have borrowed and bought what we could not create;
instinctively we pay homage to what is beyond our industrial power
to make, confessing the inadequacy of our materialism to satisfy our
souls. We, too, demand a world in which beauty of conduct, beauty of
manners, and beauty of art shall be cultivated to give meaning to our
lives. The bombardment of Rheims, the murder of Edith Cavell are as
shameful to the American mind as to the French, and as incomprehensible.
These are not matters of reason, but of instinct--commands of the soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Latin ideal is not predatory. Whatever they may have done in
their past, the Latin peoples to-day are not greedy of conquest. If
the Allies win, France will gain little territory. Both Italy and
France have limited their territorial ambitions to securing their
future safety by establishing frontiers on natural barriers. France
also expects indemnity for her huge losses and for outraged Belgium.
She must rebuild her home and be freed for generations to come from
the inhibiting fear of invasion. One does not feel so confident of
England: in the past she has had the pilfering hand. But from
prudence if not from shame England may content herself with a
reestablished prestige and a tranquil Europe. Russia has already
reconciled herself to relinquishing Poland, and except for her
natural ambition to enter the Mediterranean she seems without
predatory desires. Russia, it should not be forgotten, took up arms
to protect her own kin from the Austrians. The Slav and the Latin
have a spiritual sympathy that cannot exist between the Latin and the
Teuton, which gives their present union more than an accidental
significance.

Whatever secret ambitions may be brewing in the chancelleries of
Europe, France has put herself on record against conquest too
emphatically to countenance at the peace conference any predatory
rearrangement of the map of Europe. She has made the great war a
struggle of principle--the principle of national liberty against the
principle of military conquest. It is this great principle which
gives significance to her cause and justifies the awful slaughter and
waste of bleeding Europe. If the pretensions of physical might, no
matter with what excuses, can be thoroughly defeated, proved to be an
impossible theory of life, so that never again in the history of the
world will a nation attempt to take with the sword what does not
belong to it, the bloody sacrifice will have been well worth making.
The issues of the great conflict have been obscured, especially in
America, but to the humblest soldier of France they are as clear as
blazing sunlight. "Never again!" Never the monstrous pretension that
power alone makes right, that the will to eat gives free license to
the eater, however great his appetite or his belief in himself. That
is the cause of all the world, for which the French are willing to
give all that they have. And I know no cause more important to be
settled for the future of the human race.

       *       *       *       *       *

Are we not interested in the right decision of this cause? A
peaceable people, loving our own way, jealous of interference,
we should assuredly present a lamentable spectacle were we called
upon to defend ourselves against a predatory enemy. Possibly a more
lamentable spectacle of inefficiency combined with corruption than
England has given the world the past year! And at last we are becoming
aware that our policy of selfish isolation does not mean immunity from
attack. We are realizing that those "three thousand miles of cool
sea-water" no longer make an effectual barrier against the ingenuity
of modern men.

But I would not put the matter on the selfish basis of our own
security. It is vastly larger than that. It is, vitally, what
manner of world we wish to have for ourselves and our children.
At the invasion of Belgium, America gave with splendid unanimity
the response: Americans did not want the German world! Since then,
alas, it would seem that the clear moral reaction of our people to
the demonstration of the world struggle has been gradually weakening:
we are becoming confused, permitting insidious reasoners to cloud the
issue, listening to the prompting of the beast in our own bellies,
hesitating, dividing, excusing, evading the great question--"seeing
both sides." As if there were two sides to such a plain issue stripped
of all its fallacies and subterfuges and lies! Do we wish to have
American life take on the moral and intellectual and artistic color
of German ideals? Do we prefer the "old German god" to the culture
and humanities we have inherited from the Latin tradition?... "We,
too, have sinned." In our blood is all the crude materialism of a
triumphant Germany without her discipline and her organization. We,
too, are ready to enter the fierce war of commercial rivalry with
England and Germany. We, too, believe in the good of economic expansion,
though dubious about our own imperialism. Surely no people that ever
lived stood hesitating so dangerously at the crossroads as America at
this hour. Prudence has prevented us as a nation from pronouncing
that moral verdict on the cause which might have had decisive weight
in hastening the world decision. But a selfish timidity cannot prevent
us individually from realizing the immense importance to us of the
decision that is being ground out in the tears and blood of Europe.
And no ideal of diplomatic neutrality can prevent Americans who care
for anything but their own selfish well-being from doing all in their
power to make ours a Latin rather than a Teutonic world.

Every soldier who dies in the trenches of France, who bears a maimed
and disfigured body through life, is giving himself for us, so that
we may live in a world where individual rights and liberties are
respected, where beauty of conduct and beauty of art may endure,
where life means more than the satisfaction of bodily appetites.




III


_Peace_

The real cynics of the war are the pacifists. They see nothing more
serious in the European agony than what can be disposed of easily at
any time in a peace conference--by talk and adjustment. So obsessed
are some of them by the slaughter of men, by the woe and travail of
Europe, that they would turn the immense sacrifice into a grotesque
farce by any sort of compromise--a peace that could be no peace,
merely the armistice for further war. Their eyes are so blinded by
the economic waste of the war and its suffering that they are incapable
of seeing the great underlying principle that must be decided. Americans,
having evaded the responsibility of pronouncing a decisive moral
judgment on the rape of Belgium, the sinking of the Lusitania, and
the extermination of the Armenians, play the buffoon with women's
peace conferences, peace ships, and endless impertinent peace talk.
We, who have forfeited our right to sit at the peace conference, who
are busily making money off the war, having prudently kept our own
skins out of danger, are officiously ready with proposals of peace.
What a peace! The only peace that could be made to-day would be a
dastardly treason to every one of the millions whose blood has watered
Europe, to every woman who has given a son or a father or a husband
to the settlement of the cause. The parochialism of the American
intelligence has never been more humiliatingly displayed than in
the activities of our busy peacemakers.

       *       *       *       *       *

No sane person believes in war. The sordidness and the horror of war
have never been so fully revealed as during this past year. War has
been stripped of its every romantic feature. Modern war is worse than
hell--it is pure insanity. We do not need peace foundations, peace
conferences, peace ships to demonstrate the awfulness of war. But
crying peace, thinking peace, willing peace will not bring peace
unless conditions that make peace exist. Here in America we use the
word peace too loosely, as if it meant some absolute state of being
which we had achieved through our innate wisdom rather than from the
happy accident of our world position. But peace is an entirely
relative term, as any one who has given heed to the social conditions
we have created should realize. We have enjoyed a certain kind of
peace, the value of which is debatable. And now, alarmed at the
exposed condition of our eastern seaboard, we are agitatedly
preparing to arm to protect ourselves--from what? From Germany? Or is
it from England? And still we recommend an instant peace to Europe!

Awful as are the waste and suffering caused by war, hideous as modern
warfare is, there are worse evils for humanity. To my thinking the
perpetuation of the lawless, materialistic creed of the new Germany
would be infinitely worse for the world than any war could be. When
the German tide broke into Belgium and poured out over northern
France, sweeping all before it, killing, burning, raping, the
pacifists no doubt would have accepted the conqueror as the will of
God and have made peace then!... There are none more eager for peace
than the soldiers in the trenches who are giving their lives to press
back the barbarian flood. But no peace until their "work has been
done, the cause won." I have heard Americans express the fear that
European civilization is in danger of annihilation from the prolonged
conflict. Even that were preferable to submission to the wrong ideal.
But I see, rather, the possibility of a higher civilization through
the settlement of fundamental principles, the reaffirmation of
necessary laws. It is surely with this abiding faith that the
enormous sacrifices are being freely made by the allied nations. "It
is of little importance what happens to us," a Frenchman said to me
in Rheims, whose home had been destroyed that morning, whose son had
already been killed in the trenches. "There will be a better world
for the generations to come because of what we have endured." That is
what the American pacifist cannot seem to understand--the necessity
of present sacrifice for a better future, the cost in blood and agony
of ultimate principles.

       *       *       *       *       *

This war is leading us all back to the basic commonplaces of
thinking. Is life under any and all conditions worth the having? Our
reason says not. It tells us that the diseased and the weak-minded
should not be permitted to breed, that an anaemic existence under
degenerating influences is not worth calling life. We shudder in our
armchairs at the thought of "cannon food," but why not shudder
equally at the words "factory food," "mine food," and "sweat-shop
food"? We are inclined to sentimentalize over those brave lives that
have been spent by the hundreds of thousands on the battlefields of
France and Poland, but for the most part we live placidly unconscious
of the lives ground out in industrial competition all about us.
Between the two methods of eating up, of maiming, of suppressing
human lives, the battle method may be the more humane--I should
prefer it for myself, for my child. What our pacifists desire is not
so much peace as bloodlessness. We should be honest enough to
recognize that for many human beings,--possibly a majority even in
our prosperous, war-free society,--a violent death may not be by any
means the worst event. And it may be the happiest if the individual
is convinced that the sacrifice of his existence will help others to
realize a better life. That is the hope, the faith of every loyal
soldier who dies for his country, of every soldier's father and
mother who pays with a son for the endurance of those ideals more
precious than life itself.

The higher one rises in consciousness, the more nearly free and
self-determined life becomes, the greater are the rewards of complete
sacrifice. There are many who have "fallen on the field of honor"
whose lives, if lived out under normal peace conditions, might have
meant much to themselves, possibly to humanity. They have given
themselves freely, without question, for what seems to them of more
importance than life. Wounded, mutilated past all usefulness, dying,
they have not rebelled. Doctors and nurses in the hospitals tell the
story of their endurance without complaint of their bitter fate. Much
as we must feel the awful price which they have felt obliged to pay,
it is not sentimental to say that the finer spirits among them have
lived more fully in the few crowded weeks of their struggle than if
they had been permitted to live out their lives in all the
gratifications of our comfortable civilization. Letters from them
give an extraordinary revelation of priceless qualities gained by
these soldiers through complete renunciation and sacrifice. War, it
must not be denied, is a great developer as well as a destroyer of
life. Nothing else, it would seem, in our present state of evolution
presses the cup of human experience so full of realization and
understanding as battle and death. The men who are paying for their
beliefs with their lives are living more in moments and hours than we
who escape the ordeal can ever live. For life cannot be measured by
time or comfort or enjoyment. It is too subtle for that! A supreme
effort, even a supreme agony, may have more real living worth than
years of "normal" existence. The youths whose graves now dot so
plentifully the pleasant fields of France have drunk deeper than we
can fathom of the mystery of life.

As for the nation, that greater mother for whose existence they have
given their individual lives, there is even less question of the
benefit of this war. We Americans are fond of measuring loss and gain
in figures: we reckon up the huge war debts, the toll of killed and
wounded, and against this heavy account we set down--nothing. It is
all dead loss. Yet even to-day, in the crisis of their struggle,
there is not a Frenchman who will not admit the immense good that has
already come to his people, that will come increasingly out of the
bloody sacrifice. The war has united all individuals, swept aside the
trivial and the base, revealed the nation to itself. The French have
discovered within their souls and shown before the world qualities,
unsuspected or forgotten, of chivalry, steadfastness, seriousness,
and they have renewed their familiar virtues of bravery and good
humor and intelligence. The French soldier, the French citizen, and
the French woman are to-day marvelously moulded in the heroic type
of their best tradition: in the full sense of the word they are
gallant--chivalrous, self-forgetful, devoted. Is there any price
too great to pay for such a resurrection of human nobility?

The pacifist is fain to babble of the "disciplines of peace." No
one denies them. But how can humanity be compelled to embrace these
disciplines of peace? The German lesson of thoroughness and social
organization and responsibility was as necessary before the war as it
is to-day, but neither England nor France, neither Russia nor our own
America gave heed to it until the terrible menace of extermination
in this war ground the lesson into their unwilling souls. It may be
lamentable that humanity should still be held so firmly in the grip
of biologic law that it must kill and be killed in order to save
itself, but there are things worse than death. Until humanity learns
the secret of self-discipline it will create diseases that can be
eradicated only with the knife; it is merely blind to assume that
the insanity of war can be prevented by any system of parliamenting,
or litigation, or paper schemes of international arbitration. Some
issues are of a primary importance, unarguable, fundamental. No
man--and no nation--is worthy of life who is not ready to lay it down
in their settlement. I know that some Americans are still unable to
perceive that any such fundamental principle is at stake in Europe
to-day. Extraordinary as it seems to me I hear intelligent men refer
to the great war as if it were a local quarrel of no real consequence
to us. Even the humblest _poilu_ in the trenches, the simplest
working-woman in France, know that they are giving themselves not
merely in the righteous cause of self-defense, but in the world's
cause in defense of its best tradition, its highest ideals. Their
cause is big enough to consecrate them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Therefore a new, a larger, a more vital life has already begun for
invaded and unconquered France! In order to reap the blessings of
war, a nation must have an irreproachable cause, and aside from
Belgium, France has the clearest record of all the belligerents in
this world war. She will gain most from it, not in land or wealth,
but in honor and moral strength, in dignity and pride. She is ready
to pay the great price for her soul. This is the one supreme
inspiration that the French are giving an admiring world--their
readiness to give all rather than yield to the evil that threatens
them. With the light of such nobility in one's eyes, it is difficult,
indeed, to be patient with the cynical clamor of comfortable neutrals
for peace at any price. If there is anything of dignity and meaning
in human life, it lies in selfless devotion to beliefs, to
principles; it is readiness to sacrifice happiness, life, all, in
their defense.

And that is patriotism in its larger aspect. Our intellectuals
discuss coldly the primitive quality of patriotism and its unexpected
recrudescence in this world war. They talk of it in the jargon of
social science as "group consciousness." Before I felt its fervor
in the crisis of Italy's decision, in the sublime endurance of the
French, I did not realize what patriotism might mean. It is not
merely the instinctive love for the land of birth, loyalty to the
known and familiar. Much more than that! The natal soil is but the
symbol. Patriotism is human loyalty to the deeper, better part of
one's own being, to the loves and the ideals and the beliefs of one's
race. It is the love of family, of land, of tongue, of religion, of
the woman who bore you and of the woman you get with child, of the
God you reverence. It is loyalty to life as it has been poured into
you by your forefathers, to those ideals which your race has conceived
and given to the world. "_Viva Italia!_" "_Vive la France!_" is a
prayer of the deepest, purest sort that the Italian or the Frenchman
can breathe. Without these subconscious devotions and loyalties the
human animal would be a forlorn complex of mind and sense. Those
amorphous beings who, thanks to our modern economic wealth, have become
"citizens of the world," who wander physically and intellectually from
land to land, who taste of this and that without incorporating any
supreme devotion in their blood, our cosmopolites and expatriates and
intellectuals, froth of a too comfortable existence, give forth a
hollow sound at the savage touch of war. They become pacifists. They
can see neither good nor evil: all is a vague blur of "humanity."

Patriotism is the supreme loyalty to life of the individual. Wherever
this loyalty is instinctive, vivid, there some precious tradition has
been bequeathed to a people that still burns in their blood. Latin
patriotism is ardent like man's one great love for woman, ennobling
the giver as well as the loved one; it is tender like the son's love
for the mother, with the sanctity of acknowledgment of the debt of
life. Can any vision of "internationalism" take the place of these
powerful personal loyalties to racial ideals?... "Mere boys led to
the slaughter" is the sentimentality one hears of the marching
conscripts of European armies. Better even so than the curse of no
supreme allegiance, or devotion, or readiness to sacrifice--than the
aimless selfishness in which our American youth are brought up!

       *       *       *       *       *

For every boy in Europe knows, as soon as he knows anything, that he
owes one certain fixed debt, and that is service to his country, to
that larger whole that has given him the best part of his own being.
If need be, he owes it his life itself. It is an obligation he must
fulfill before all other obligations, at no matter what inconvenience
or sacrifice to himself, unquestioningly, immediately.

What takes the place for the American youth of this primary
obligation? Himself! He is expensively nurtured, schooled, put
forward into life--for what? To help himself as best he can at the
general table of society. He can never forget himself, subordinate
his personal ambition to any transcendent loyalty. He becomes from
his cradle the egotist.

To-day under the shadow of world war we are taking thought of
national protection, projecting schemes of defense including the
enrollment of citizens who may be called upon to fight for their
country. It is less important to teach our youth the military lessons
of self-protection than it is to teach them the greater lesson of
self-forgetfulness, of devotion to a national ideal--so that they may
be ready to give their lives for that national ideal as the youth of
Europe have given their lives to settle this world cause. Not a few
hundreds of thousands of national guards, then, in order to secure
ourselves from invasion are what we need, but that every man or woman
born into the nation or adopting it as home should be made to feel
the obligation of national service. It matters less what form that
service should take, whether purely military or partly military and
partly social. It is the service, the sense of obligation that counts
for the individual and for the nation. The responsibility of service
teaches the importance of ideas, the necessity of sacrifice. And he
who is ready to sacrifice himself, to forget himself and become
absorbed in the life that surrounds him, of which he is but an
infinitesimal unit, to which he owes the best in him, has already
achieved a larger peace than the pacifist dreams of.

       *       *       *       *       *

Consider what happened to the youth of France a little more than
a year ago. Suddenly with no preparation or warning they were called
to defend their country from invasion. It was no longer possible to
argue the rights of that diplomatic tangle into which European
statesmen had muddled. Whatever the ultimate truth, the ultimate
right of the controversy, the state--that larger self which was their
home, their mesh of loves and interests and beliefs--demanded their
service. The youth of France had been brought up with the knowledge
that any day such a sacrifice might be required, with the
consciousness deeply rooted in their beings that one of the necessary
conditions of their living was to give their all at the call of the
state. They conceived of no honorable alternative: it was as
inevitable to pay this obligation as it is for decently minded
citizens to pay their legal debts. They hurried to their mobilization
posts, donned uniforms and equipment, and were shipped away in
regiments to the front. Most of them did not worry about the
possibility of death, but acted like all healthy human beings,
ignoring what they could not affect, caught up in the novelty and the
requirements of the new life. Yet deep in the consciousness of the
most careless must have lain some thought that he might never return,
that the cross-marked grave on the hillside, the pit, or the hospital
might be waiting for him.

This consciousness that he can no longer dispose of himself, at
least for the finer spirit, must act as a great release. Having
accepted his fate, and therefore willed it as the only possible
choice for him, he becomes another person, a largely selfless person,
a strangely older, calmer being capable of thinking and acting
clearly, nobly. Once the great personal decision made, the resolve
to forego life and happiness and personal achievement, a clogging
burden of selfish considerations drop from within. So one can read
the experience of those two young officers preserved in Henry
Bordeaux's "Two Heroes." They were free as never before to do what
lay before them,--their officers' duty,--simply, directly. Many things
that they had previously valued seemed to have lost color, to have
become trivial. They thought solely of acquitting themselves with,
honor in what it was their fate to do. They were ready to obey
because before death they were humble. They had begun to glimpse
the blind mystery that is life, in which every one must needs act
his part without questioning, with faith in its ultimate meaning,
with the will to trust its end. They were brave because they were
simple and single-hearted, selfless. They were strong because they
disdained to be weak, having renounced all. If it were to be their
fate to die unnoted, they were content with the satisfaction of having
done what was expected of them. And if they died in glory, they were
unaware of their honor, believing that they had done no more than
any of their fellows would have done in the same opportunity.

Thus, having laid down their lives for the cause that commanded
their faith and loyalty, they found their real lives--larger, more
beautiful, stronger.... Not once, but many thousands of times, has
this miracle happened! Their graves are strewn, singly and in groups,
over every field of eastern France. They paid the debt, did their
part little or great, unknown or glorified by men. Literally they
have given their blood for the soil of their fathers' land.

       *       *       *       *       *

We know that they have given much more than their blood to that soil.
Just as at the call to arms, the selfish, the mean, the vicious
qualities of these lives dropped from them in the freedom of
sacrifice accepted, and in place of egotistic preoccupations rose
once more to the surface of their natures the ancient virtues of
their race, so in their going they left for the others who lived, who
were to be born, a tremendous legacy of honor and noble
responsibility. By watering the soil with their blood they have made
it infinitely more precious for every human being that treads upon
it. They have helped to make mere life more significant for those who
remain to mourn them. It can never again be quite the same
commonplace affair, so lightly, cheaply spent, as it had been before.
They have not left behind them joy, but faith. And that is why the
faces of the earnest living who are able to realize this sacrifice of
youth have a grave sternness in them which touches even the most
careless stranger. Something of the glory created by the dead and the
wounded radiates out even to us in a distant, peaceful land....

But why, we ask, all this sacrifice, this cruel, agonizing sacrifice
of war? That is a mystery too deep for any to fathom. It is better
not to probe too insistently, to accept it as the man in Rheims,--"It
must be better for the others afterward because of what we have
endured." That is the expression of faith in life which is the better
part of any religion. For what we suffer now, for what we give now of
our most precious, it will be repaid to those who are to come. Life
will be freer, grander, more significant: it will be a better world.
Nobody who has seen or felt the heavy tragedy of this world war could
endure its horror if he were not sustained by that faith. But with
that faith the losses seem not too vast. One by one the world's great
decisions must be made, in suffering, in blood and tears. Peace comes
not through evasion or compromise, either for the individual or for
the state.




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