CHAPTER IV: STOCKHOLM 1906-1908
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Latest revision as of 05:06, 25 October 2008
It has been necessary, in order to give sequence to the story of the political crisis of 1905 in the Scandinavian peninsula, to omit many of the experiences which gave me insight into the life of its people. Those of my countrymen who have never lived there probably think of Sweden in the first instance in the terms of Norse legend, as a land where nature is cold and stern. They will be less apt to conceive it as a region where summer's magic yields to no gentler land in charm. Perhaps just because the period is long between the progressively darkening weeks of an early autumn and the slow unbinding of the frozen earth which precedes an ephemeral spring the Swedes, who are great lovers of nature, enjoy their summer life as though any moment of it were too good to lose. We found it difficult in June and July to accustom ourselves to the brevity, to the absence almost of night, and indeed it seemed to us that the population, like the birds, hardly devoted any time to sleep. All who can then leave the city for wooden houses or chalets, some modest, others more pretentiously designed, overlooking the fiords or on the many islands which lie within easy reach. Such a wooden house of comfortable proportions, simply but adequately furnished, on an island not far from the narrow entrance into the Stockholm fiord, was our home for two consecutive summers. I had acquired a yacht, cutter of some forty tons, a Brixham trawler fitted as a yacht, which sailed out from England and had its anchorage throughout the summer in sight of our garden. These inland waters are ideal for sailing, as there is seldom any sea and wind is fairly constant. The Swedes are past masters in the art of small yacht sailing, and indeed there are few forms of sport in which they do not excel. An excellent service of steamboats linking the capital with its dependencies over an ample radius facilitates life among the islands. A telephone message to the city ensures your order being delivered by the first available boat and deposited on the landing-pier nearest to your residence. It is not entrusted to any caretaker or watchman. It simply lies there till you go or send to fetch it, and it is not conceivable that anyone would remove parcels which were not his own. The summer with its long days of sunshine is phenomenally productive, and the maturing of fruits and vegetables rapid. This is but just, as during the long winter fresh vegetables are practically unobtainable. Dairy produce is, however, always abundant and good. Sweden with a far less favourable climate supplies us with butter and cheese. As autumn approaches there is a plentiful supply of game, partridge, woodgrouse, blackcock and capereafizie. It is of course the country of trout and salmon. As regards the latter I was assured by competent authorities that in the Swedish rivers flowing into the Baltic, running that is from west to east, the salmon will not take a fly, whereas the Norwegian and the Finland rivers which all run from east to west are the paradise of the fisherman. There was said to be only one river in the whole of Sweden, in the south, where salmon could be tempted by the fly, and that was also the only river in the country which runs from east to west. If it is a stern land in winter, it is soft and winsome in its radiant summer, and nowhere more so than in beautiful, Dalecarlia, the land mountain and lake, where the people still wear the old national costume and live in log houses, coloured a glorious rusty red, nestling against the woodlands on the borders of the big pasture-lands. By the end of September the country chalet near the capital are abandoned and boarded up until the snow shall melt and the long days bring back their summer guests. We had just returned to the Legation when the news reached me of the death of Frankie Rhodes. He had gone to Nyasaland for the opening of the railway, and there his old enemy, the African fever, developed a pernicious black water character. He was the last survivor of my East African friends. It was just twelve years since Lloyd Mathews and I had parted from Raymond and Gerry Portal, Roddy Owen and Frank Rhodes at Mombasa when they started on the historic expedition which led to the annexation of Uganda. He had lived through much since then. But the siren land had drawn him back once more, and he was to die in the continent where his resource and geniality had given heart to many an exploit from the Cape to Khartoum and Dongola. Not one of all those knight-errants of adventure had left a child behind, and their tradition lives only in the memory of friends who knew and loved them. Sometimes, when the new generation seems to forget that a nation is constituted not only of the units living in it at a given moment with their fleeting ambitions and interests, but of all the collective values of the race that has formed it and lived and died for it, when they speak, as it seems to me, without adequate reverence for the empire which has come to them as an effortless inheritance, I grow resentful thinking of the goodly lives by whose sacrifice our African dominion grew, and I wonder whether the coming years will see a breed of men like those it was my privilege to know.
On the 2nd of November, Freddie Curzon, the King's messenger, arrived in Stockholm from St. Petersburg, and brought us more precise news of the revolutionary movement which had broken out there than was to be found in the Press. He had obtained a passage on a ship hired at a cost of £3,000 by Mr. Pierpont Morgan the younger and certain French and German financiers who had been negotiating a new loan. Lord Revelstoke, who was one of the group, had engaged a steamer for Lübeck. I never appreciated so vividly before the value of the time of a financier. Morgan told me that they were actually closeted with the Finance Minister when he was called to the telephone, and one of the party who understood Russian heard him say, "This is the end of everything, and Witte has triumphed all along the line." The next morning the Tsar issued his constitutional manifesto. Finland took advantage of the occasion to renew claims which had hitherto been refused a hearing, and obtained all that she at that time desired. The movement had, however, not been so pacific elsewhere. The Russian Minister told me a characteristic story illustrating the primitive instincts of the peasantry in his part of the country. When agrarian outrages began, a friend of his who owned a large estate assembled his tenants and addressed them. They had, he reminded them, always lived on happy terms together. He had done all that was in his power to improve their condition, and assisted them when times were hard. He assumed, therefore, that they did not mean to attack him or his family. "Oh no," they replied, "never should we think of doing such a thing. We have made an arrangement with the peasants on the estate of your neighbour X. We shall attack him, and his peasants will attack you." A year before I had met at a dinner-party at Lord Reay's, Komarow, the Russian delegate who had been sent to Canada to regulate the vexed question of the seal fisheries. He had said to me: "Our position in Russia is really an impossible one. We, the cosmopolitan dominant class, are like you of the twentieth century; our bourgeoisie are of the fourteenth; and the peasantry are of the fourth." Such conditions make it easy for things to happen in Russia which would be quite inconceivable in countries where the evolution of classes has been more uniform.
Towards the end of the year the venerable King sent for me, and after some very kind words about my helpfulness during the national crisis, put into my hands a box which I realized contained the Grand Cross of the Order of the Northern Star. I had to explain that we were not allowed to accept foreign decorations, and that my sovereign had only in rare cases sanctioned exceptions. The King, however, insisted on my asking for permission, and said that should any objection be raised I could eventually give the Order back quietly to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I wrote to Lord Lansdowne, and apologized for not having managed better on an occasion which had quite taken me by surprise. King Edward, however, to whom the matter was referred, was so gracious as to say he was glad to think appreciation had been shown of the manner in which Great Britain had been represented at a critical moment, with other words which it is unnecessary to repeat. This was, to my regret, my last official correspondence with Lansdowne, to whose able management of Foreign Affairs my country owed a great debt. Just after I reached London for three weeks' leave in the beginning of December, Mr. Balfour's Government resigned, and Sir Edward Grey became my chief in the Campbell-Bannerman administration. I had spent a few days on the way home at Brussels to examine in the Royal Library the fourteenth-century manuscript of the Livre de la Conquête de la Morée, which had formerly belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy, and I only arrived in London the evening before the death of my old friend, Clinton Dawkins. He had not yet reached his fiftieth year. The public service lost a very conscientious and valuable official when he left it to become the London Manager of Morgan's bank. All through his life he did everything too strenuously, and the exacting and perhaps not altogether congenial work he had undertaken wore out what seemed a very strong frame. A few days after this sad parting I was meeting Curzon at Charing Cross on his return from India after his duel with Kitchener and the authorities at home. There was a large and representative gathering assembled to greet him. But no minister of the Crown was present.
On the evening of the 29th of January we were entertaining the Crown Prince of Sweden at dinner when a rumour spread through Stockholm that the King of Denmark had suddenly died. It proved to be true, and Court mourning cut short the winter season. For us all social obligations would in any case have been terminated by a grave domestic anxiety which overtook us in February. A telegram from England summoned us home, as our eldest boy, now ten years old and at a private school, had developed alarming symptoms. We started at once. Happily for us my sister had, in our absence, acted with great decision, bringing the boy up at once to a nursing home in London, where he was placed in the hands of Sir Alfred Fripp and Dr. Hale White, and a first operation had been performed just in time to save his life. It was an aggravated case of appendicitis with hardly any premonitory indications, which had produced strangulation and intestinal paralysis. This is not a place in which to dwell on the experiences of the terrible six weeks through which we passed. The details of what proved to be a very exceptional case were duly recorded in medical journals. But it is difficult not to pay a paternal tribute to the pluck of that gallant little life which, hanging so long upon a thread, never allowed us to see his courage flinch through three severe operations, rendered more critical by pneumonia, and the ordeal of daily subcutaneous injections of olive-oil to nourish the system which could not otherwise be supported. It would also be impossible, in such a volume of recollections, to omit a testimony of gratitude to the astounding skill, the resourcefulness and the devotion of Fripp, Hale White, and their assistants, and the nursing of Sister Irwin. It is at such moments that we learn to appreciate human nature and the warm heart of the world. Relations, friends---and we then realized how many they were---were overflowing with kindness, and the King himself sent repeatedly to inquire after the progress of our boy. At the end of nearly five weeks a final operation, which lasted an hour and three-quarters, to join up several internal communications, was successfully surmounted, and after a grim interval of forty-eight hours' uncertainty, vitality returned to the paralysed organ. Five days later the patient was asking how soon he could start for Stockholm.
By the end of the first week in April I was able to return alone to my post in good time to do my duty at an episode of old-world ceremonial. An event was expected in the household of the heir-presumptive, and as Princess Margaret was contingently if remotely in the succession to the British Crown, it behoved its representative to be present in the immediate vicinity in order to testify to the act of birth. The old barbarous procedure which had required the attendance of the Ministers of State at a royal accouchement had been modified, and it was only expected that the wife of the Grand Marshal, or some Court Lady taking her place, should actually be present. I was just finishing dinner on the evening of the 23rd of April when I received a warning to be ready to proceed to the Palace at about eleven, and was putting on my uniform when a telephone message instructed me to lose no time. At the Palace I met M. Staaf, the Prime Minister, and Baron Trolle, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with a representative of the Grand Marshal, who had been incapacitated by a fall from his horse. At ten minutes past eleven a young Prince was born and brought in to us for verification. The formal protocol was then drawn up and signed, and after telegraphing to London I retired to bed. The christening of the young Duke of Västerbotten took place some seven weeks later. The Duke and Duchess of Connaught came in the Enchantress, and the occasion was memorable for the simultaneous presence of four male generations of the House of Bernadotte. The youngest member behaved admirably during the religious service, but protested audibly at the Bishop's address.
Meanwhile, a conflict arose between the two houses of the legislature over an Electoral Reform Bill, which led to a constitutional crisis. In Sweden, when there is a difference between the two houses they vote together as one body, and the decision of the majority obtains. In this case a Government Bill, accepted by the second Chamber, corresponding to the House of Commons, which favoured proportional election, was rejected in the combined assembly by a majority of seventy. M. Staaf, the Radical Prime Minister, asked for an immediate dissolution not of the First but of the Second Chamber, in which he had a majority. The Crown Prince, who was constantly called upon to act as Regent at critical moments, refused the request on the ground that it would not be in accordance with precedent to dissolve a Chamber which had just accepted a Bill submitted with the approval of the Crown. The Constitution laid down that the country should be governed by two Chambers of equal authority, and independently of the Reform Bill there was a great deal of current business to be disposed of before a dissolution could be contemplated. Staaf tendered his resignation. He had certainly a majority of the country behind him, and the dynasty would no doubt have acquired more popularity by adopting a suggestion, which Staaf's personal attitude had made difficult. Questions of popularity, however, did not appeal to the Prince Regent so much as they might have to his father. His view was that by dissolving the Second Chamber and going to the country with a cry against the Upper House, the Crown would have been acting as a partisan. An administration which rather represented practical men than politicians drawn from the Conservative centre took office under Admiral Lindman, a former Minister of Marine, to study afresh the question of electoral reform. At that moment the position of the dynasty was not a very enviable one.
Among the many short cruises we made that summer, one at least was not without its adventurous side. The Special Service Squadron under Admiral Bosanquet had been ordered in August to Gothenburg to salute the King as a British Admiral, and we decided to sail there, with my boy, who was rapidly putting on flesh after his long illness. In the middle of the Baltic we met a small gale. Our crosstrees were carried away, and one of our two boats was knocked to pieces. There was a disagreeable moment when water began to appear in the saloon. But it proved to be only an intake from the hawse-hole as the nose of the cutter buried itself in the seas, and this was quickly remedied. My Swedish skipper did not leave his helm for thirty hours, and at last brought us safely in under the lee of the long island of Öland, enabling us to reach Kalmar and so make our way overland to Gothenburg. There the weather was equally inclement, and seas ran so high that communications between the shore and the squadron were difficult. But the venerable sovereign carried out his programme, crossed from his yacht to the Euryalus, inspected every detail with a seaman's eye, lunched and got off again. He was in his 77th year. We returned in the cutter, but, paradoxical as it sounds, mostly overland, crossing Sweden by the Gotha canal, sailing through the lakes, ascending and descending ridges of hills by a succession of locks, of which there were sometimes as many as eleven in a single group.
In the autumn I took six weeks' leave, most of which was spent in Scotland. While at home I delivered to the publisher, The Princes of Achaia, my study of medieval Greece, at which I had been working on and off in my leisure time for some fifteen years. It had often had to be set aside altogether for a year and more when I was in remote countries like East Africa. We stayed at Newmarket with Sir Ernest Cassel to meet the King. Our host had considerable interests in Swedish iron mines, and was a constant visitor to Sweden. I was amused at the consternation of Sir John Fisher, as he then was, who, though prepared for almost any contingency, did not dare to meet his Sovereign without the Order of Merit, which he had forgotten to bring with him. His servant was hastily dispatched to Town to fetch it, and returned just in time for dinner. This reminds me of a story of Bismarck, who had received nearly all the Grand Cordons in the world. Having to meet a certain monarch who was visiting Berlin, he hunted in vain for the ribbon and star of the appropriate order, which he presumed he possessed. Unable to find his own he succeeded in borrowing one, and then discovered that it had never been conferred upon him, and that the sovereign in question intended to present him with it at their interview.
At the beginning of 1907, King Oscar was seriously ill, and the Crown Prince was once more called upon to assume the Regency. The Diet which he opened had to deal with a new Government Bill introducing a proportional electoral system for members of the Second Chamber and for the electors of the First. All the leading mathematicians in Sweden had been called upon to give their expert advice. The method of counting the votes struck me as complicated for the average man to grasp, but the measure was generally well received, and its popularity was increased by the complete reform of the upper house which its adoption would entail. I shall not attempt to describe a system, the details of which are readily available to those who are interested in them. This far-reaching Reform Bill, proposed by a Conservative Government, was eventually safely piloted with one or two amendments through a Second Chamber with a big Liberal majority by the able statesmanship of Admiral Lindman.
In April came the news of Lord Cromer's resignation. Letters from Egypt gave me no little anxiety as to his health. He could not have continued his work there with safety to his life. Sir Eldon Gorst succeeded him. After Cromer no Englishman knew Egypt better. It had been his first diplomatic post, and he had subsequently served in nearly every department of the Egyptian Administration, which he only left to become for a short time an Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. Nevertheless, I was not without some misgivings as to how far he would be able to replace Cromer with any prospect of success. With all his great ability there were certain personal qualities of essential importance in the East to which he would not himself have laid claim, and he had been for so many years the servant of the Khedive, and was so well known to the Egyptians in that capacity, that it would be difficult for him to reverse the rôle.
After officially attending a second family event at the suburban Palace of Drottningholm, to which we were summoned at 4 a.m., I went home in June. The new King and Queen of Denmark paid a visit to London. After the Court Ball I made the acquaintance of John Burns, and found no difficulty in understanding his popularity with all classes. I had been lamenting certain modern tendencies which might in the long run weaken the ties which bound us to the children of the Empire overseas,---for one thing, the Government had recently declined to entertain the question of preference at the Colonial Conference. But all my misgivings were, or should have been, dissipated by a hearty smack on the back and a confident voice exclaiming: "Don't you be downhearted, Rodd, my boy." The King gave me a message to take back with me which I found very useful in the next few months. I was authorized to tell the Crown Prince that His Majesty's feelings for Sweden were most friendly, and that his only wish was to see the two Scandinavian neighbours in cordial relations. It was not to be imagined that he himself had any partiality. He, of course, could not but take a personal interest in the welfare of his daughter and son-in-law, the new sovereigns of Norway. But that in no way affected his general attitude, which was one of warm regard for Sweden and her King, who was one of his oldest friends. In view of an attempt, which was shortly to be made, to attribute to King Edward an influence which he never attempted to exercise, the framing of this message might almost have seemed to indicate rare political foresight. He was in any case before long to give practical proof of these friendly feelings.
During the remainder of the summer and autumn in Sweden I had exceptional opportunities for exploring more intimate aspects of the country for which the stress of public events had till then left but little time. A residence of three years had led to many welcome and cordial friendships. My wife had a genius for organizing new forms of social entertainment which enlarged the circle of our acquaintance, and have, I am told, left a tradition which is still remembered in the capital. To several of these friends we paid visits at their country houses, where we learned many details of the national life. From none of them did I gather more about Swedish methods of dealing with the land and the condition of the agricultural labourer than from Count Frederick Wachtmeister, a former diplomatic colleague who had acted as Foreign Minister during the crisis with Norway. After the settlement he was offered the post of Minister in London. Conciliatory and very cultivated, he and his charming wife would have been ideal representatives of their country. But he could not tear himself away from his large estates, which he managed in the best traditions of a conscientious landlord. Another well-remembered visit which I paid alone was to my friend, Count Clarence Rosen, a pioneer in every sporting venture and a prince of good fellows. On his little property, which we reached after a long motor drive through forest country from the nearest station, he does himself what wealthier men achieve vicariously, and breeds and trains the horses on which he and his sons win prizes at Olympia.
The great elk which ranges through the forests and over the moors of the Norseland may be shot only during a fortnight in September. My wife and I, with Mrs. Murray Guthrie and Wilfrid Ashley, were invited by a friend, a business man who had lived many years in England, Herr Petersen of Elvestorp, to join his party and to pursue the elk on a mining estate, extending over a considerable area of mountain and woodland which he was developing. There we had three days driving and one day tracking with dogs, and then another big drive at Goldsmedshutten. I was lucky enough to secure a very fine bull as well as a two-year-old.
We had a long railway journey north and west, and then a long motor drive to our destination at the head-quarters of the Elvestorp mines. The house in which the first three or four days were spent, an old wooden country house taken over with the estate, had for long been uninhabited. But it had been especially equipped for the occasion with new beds and all that was necessary. Infinite goodwill had improvised a bathroom, though when it came to be tested, the plumbing proved defective. Even a piano had been sent from Stockholm into the wilds. No trouble was too great for our hospitable friends.
The life was very strenuous while it lasted. Our first experience was repeated daily with little change. We rose reluctantly at 4 a.m. to prepare for a start at six. After driving as far as possible in motor-cars over rough tracks we reached a limit, whence it was only possible to proceed on foot to the points some miles away where the guns were to be posted. The beaters, mostly hands from the mines, had many hours before set out by circuitous routes for a distant line of country, the physical contours of which had been studied by the experts, with due regard also to the prevailing wind. For the shy elk is extraordinarily sensitive to scent as well as to sound, and would not fail to detect the presence of a hunter to windward. The drivers, after encircling a wide extent of highland forest and clearing, eventually converge towards the spots where the guns are posted. A big drive will take the whole of a morning or an afternoon. Sometimes the encircling movement was made in vain, and no elk was sighted by any of the party, or there might only be a momentary glimpse of a shadow flitting behind a palisade of tree trunks, or again you might catch a distant view of an antlered monster crossing the far side of a valley out of range. It was a grand wild country, wooded with birch and fir. Stretches of water-logged moorland were ruddy with the cranberry in full fruit. So far as human habitations were concerned, it might have been the end of the world, but still a very good place in which to be. As you stood for hours together at your post, silent and tobaccoless, hiding among the tree stems, the capercailzie would tantalizingly alight and preen himself on a neighbouring branch, or, where the clearing skirted the wood, a mountain hare would stare at the intruder and then gallop away into the bush. Thus you wait and wait, breathing an aromatic air in a spell-bound stillness till you seem to be one with the spirit of mountain and forest. At last, if you are fortunate, you may hear the sound of a light hoof trotting over the fir-needle bed, and a great bull elk will show for a moment, clean outlined, lifting his nostrils as he scents danger, and then your chance has come.
Towards midday the drive will be over, and the more distant guns, collected by the guides, will pick up the nearer ones. Pipes can be lit again, and the party marches a few more miles to some delightful spot by lake or river in which crayfish abound, where fires are burning and lunch has been prepared. There you will find abundant provision of those smoked delicacies which are a prelude to every meal in the north, bucketfuls of the red crayfish, freshly boiled, and elk steaks for those who appreciate them. After lunch there will be another long trek over hill and vale, and perhaps a passage in boats across a lake to a different area, where a second drive has been organized which will last till the light begins to wane.
I shall always remember the homeward tramp of the collected party in the darkling twilight to the tune of old Swedish choruses and marching songs. By the time we reached a spot where we could pick up train or motor-car, we had covered some twelve to fifteen miles on foot. At the head-quarters of the mining station, in a long barn-like room lighted with candles, dinner awaited us with friendly rows of bottles and the cheerful faces, ruddy with the life of the hills, of the chief engineers and superintendents of the mines, fine stalwart men with the physique of Vikings. There were speeches, as always at a Swedish banquet, but not long ones, and skoals for the successful slayer of the elk, and the glasses were never empty. It was a kindly, merry, virile company in surroundings reminiscent of a scene of revelry from Gösta Berling's palmy days. The Swedes are an indefatigable as well as an efficient race. Long and tiring as the day had been, nothing could damp the high spirits of our hosts making holiday. There were some good voices in the party, and dinner was followed by songs, and then the carpet was rolled back for dancing, which went on till after midnight, notwithstanding that the morrow's breakfast hour was nominally at five. It was mid-September and the close of the good summer life, during which, as I have suggested, every moment is grudged to sleep, was at hand. We; for our part, I trust, kept up the good name of the Englishman and the English woman for physical endurance. The tracking of the elk with dogs led to no result. But the last day's driving at Goldsmedshutten added several more to our record, one of the best of them being killed by our host. I never spent a more enjoyable week, nor met with greater kindness nor more generous hospitality in any land.
Yet one more expedition undertaken at the end of this summer deserves a brief mention, because so few seem ever to have heard of the strange old-world Hans City in the mid-Baltic isle of Gothland, which has slept for some five hundred years since the Danes rifled its treasures and destroyed the homes and vessels of its wealthy merchant princes. A night's passage from Nynäsholm brought us in the early morning to the roadstead of Visby, where the grey stone walls with their eight and thirty towers rose beyond a grass meadow. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was the Baltic emporium of the trade of the East, and certainly one of the richest cities of the middle ages. No less than thirteen great Abbey churches, dating from the period of its mercantile supremacy, still stand within the circuit of the walls, roofless and ruinous to-day, all save one which suffices for the needs of the present inhabitants. The ruins of St. Katharine's are perhaps the most beautiful in their present aspect, while the Church of the Holy Spirit is structurally the most interesting. It is the more remarkable that so many churches conceived on such a noble scale should be found in this remote island, because, with the exception of the Cathedral of Lund, Sweden has little to show that is memorable in ecclesiastical architecture.
If I have wandered rather far away from the Capital to follow certain pleasant byways of memory, it must not be assumed on that account that there were not also serious matters to occupy the attention of the British representative. And, indeed, there was at this time a political issue which gave me not a little anxious preoccupation, as it for a moment threatened to compromise relations which had hitherto run so smoothly. The issue in question was probably one which passed unperceived by the majority at home. Its evolution, however, was so typical of the old diplomacy as practised by certain nations that it demands more than a passing mention.
After the repeal of the Union with Norway had once become an established fact, and the immediate difficulties presented by the settlement had receded into the background, public opinion in Sweden, reflecting on the history of recent months and years, was undoubtedly conscious of a certain loss of self-conceit, and in their disillusion men began to cast about for responsibilities. They reflected, whether rightly or wrongly at any rate too late, that the dissolution was a contingency which might perhaps have been avoided by an earlier perception of the forces at work and a more sympathetic appreciation of Norwegian susceptibilities. The attitude of Denmark during the crisis was recalled with some acerbity. The efficiency of their own diplomatic and consular services was called in question; and even the dynasty did not always escape a certain undercurrent of criticism. This was in such circumstances inevitable, and the soreness which the events of 1905 left behind continued vaguely to manifest itself in various forms until it found a definite object on which to concentrate.
This occasion was presented by the proposed Norwegian Treaty of Guarantees. Norway, as a separate kingdom, desired not only to have her territorial integrity secured by the great northern powers as it had been by Great Britain and France under the old Treaty of 1855 with the Union, but she was also anxious that her neutrality should be guaranteed. Now the neutralization of Norway would have closed the door for ever against any co-operation between the two kingdoms of the peninsula in the face of a common danger to both, and would therefore have been deeply resented by Sweden. The King spoke to me very earnestly on the subject towards the end of 1906. The point of view from which the proposal was regarded by the Swedish Government was duly appreciated in London, and the elimination of any idea of neutralization was made a condition of our agreeing to guarantee territorial integrity. We had, from the moment when Norway became a separate kingdom, made known our readiness to renew in her behalf the guarantee we had given in 1855, and we should have been equally ready to do so on behalf of Sweden also, had the latter desired its renewal, which she did not. Germany and Russia were now prepared to join as guaranteeing powers.
Discussions, regarding the form as well as the substance, of the new Treaty continued throughout the spring of 1907, when public attention in Sweden was concentrated on the question of proportional elections, and they continued through the summer. When eventually the Government became aware of the text of the proposed instrument, which was communicated to them by the Russian Minister, they were greatly disturbed. They had no objection to Norway receiving a guarantee of territorial integrity in the form of a self-denying ordinance from the four great powers. But when they learned that it was contemplated that Norway should be guaranteed by these against any power, they assumed that such a measure could only be aimed at Sweden. After the peaceful dissolution of the Union, in which they had deferred to the wish of Norway, they were much concerned that the Great Powers should be invited to guarantee her against her former partner. The point was only raised at the eleventh hour, and the Swedish Government might well have asked earlier for information regarding the discussions which were taking place. We, however, then did our best to have the text modified and reduced to the anodyne form of a self-denying ordinance. The German Government professed to be entirely disinterested in the matter, as might have been anticipated where no direct German interest was involved. Russia, however, was not willing to modify the text which had been adopted, and France, at first at any rate, followed the Russian lead. In these circumstances it was somewhat disconcerting to find that the Russian and French representatives, who were perfectly well aware that we were' pledged to a Treaty of Guarantees, kept assuring the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs that only Great Britain would be able to move in the matter with any prospect of success. If Sweden failed to obtain satisfaction, the onus was thus to be thrown upon us. The Russian Minister in Stockholm had nothing but soft words for Sweden, while his colleague at Christiania kept pressing for the immediate signature, and indeed used strong language in denouncing us for holding back. Now these peculiar symptoms gave me occasion for much reflection.
There was, however, still what appeared to be a trump card for Sweden to play. We had promised Russia not to sign the new Treaty until the old Treaty of 1855, which had been directed against her, was formally abrogated. Sweden, whose agreement as a party to that Treaty had to be obtained, refused her consent to its abrogation until she had satisfied herself that the new Treaty with Norway contained nothing contrary to her dignity or interest. Thereupon Russia shifted her ground, and announced that it was a matter of indifference to her whether the Treaty of 1855 were first abrogated or not.
The French Government were probably puzzled by the attitude of their ally. They were in any case themselves hardly consistent, as they now proposed that Sweden should prove her complete disinterestedness by herself becoming a party to the new Treaty as one of the guaranteeing powers. The other three powers accepted the proposal, but Norway emphatically rejected it, while advancing a suggestion that Denmark should be associated in the Treaty, a course which would inevitably confirm the impression that it was directed against Sweden. In the face of Norwegian opposition the French Government did not press their proposal, which, however, continued to have our support. Sweden then herself directly asked to be included as a co-signatory or, as an alternative, that certain modifications should be made in the article to which exception had been taken. Failing to obtain satisfaction, the Government did not pursue the matter further. We held out to the last in an endeavour to meet their wishes, but, in view of the pledge originally given, we were at last obliged to fall into line with the other great powers. The actual text of the Treaty remained undisclosed for a time, but its substance became known, and there was a feeling of strong resentment among all classes in Sweden that Norway should have called in the four great northern powers to protect her, as they assumed, against her former partner in the Union whose attitude in 1905 should have made it plain that she desired to be a peaceful neighbour. The Treaty of Guarantees appeared, in fact, to rouse more bitterness than had the dissolution of the Union itself.
When this feeling was at its height, the French Press and the correspondents of Swedish journals writing from Paris, quite gratuitously represented the situation which had arisen as being entirely due to Great Britain, who was alleged to have resisted the generous proposal of France to make Sweden a co-signatory, and it was asserted that dynastic influences had turned the scale in favour of Norway. No allegation could have been more unfounded, as King Edward had throughout used his influence in favour of respecting Swedish susceptibilities. The French Minister was treated as the hero of the hour, and no less than three portraits of him were published in the Stockholm Press. As a useful corrective I obtained authority to issue a contradiction of the statement that we had opposed the association of Sweden with the four guaranteeing powers.
Now what was the real purport of these manoeuvres? The Russian Minister in Stockholm had taken the initiative in communicating the text of the Treaty to the Swedish Government. The Russian Minister in Christiania took an entirely different line to that ostensibly adopted by his colleague in Sweden. It was Russia- that declined to modify the Treaty in the sense desired by Sweden, and then precipitated the signature by unexpectedly withdrawing her demand that the Treaty of 1855 should first be abrogated. I concluded, and rightly as events proved, that France had been rather unwittingly let in by Russia in a matter in which she took only a subordinate interest. But Russia had a definite object to gain in aggravating the tension between Sweden and Norway. Hitherto, Swedish interests had been identical with those of Great Britain as regards an open Baltic. But if Sweden could be alienated from us she might in her isolation and irritation look for support elsewhere. Confirmation of this diagnosis was afforded not long afterwards by Russian advances to Sweden for the negotiation of a Baltic agreement, to which Germany was to be a party. Such advances might develop into a policy of reservations in the Baltic.
Negotiations, however, hung fire, and France began to be disconcerted at the action of her Russian ally. Sweden also found herself in troubled waters because Russia made it a condition of any agreement that she should waive her objections to the fortification of the Åland Islands. If the consent of Sweden could have been secured, Russia would then have invited Great Britain and France to abrogate the post-Crimean Treaty of 1856, which precluded her from reconstructing the Åland forts. But Sweden could never willingly agree to the arming of those islands which practically commanded the entrance to the Stockholm fiord. The very suggestion created something like a panic. Having failed in this object, the Russian Government allowed the Press agencies to disclose the fact that certain negotiations had been taking place. The disclosure forced the Swedish Government to make some announcement, and it was admitted that there had been pourparlers regarding the maintenance of the status quo in the Baltic. The Russian Government followed this up with an official communication very similar to the information published by the Press agencies, supplemented by a statement that Denmark had not been consulted. The German Government which had in the meantime shown the Danish Government the proposed agreement, also announced that such discussions as had taken place concerned the shores, and not the waters, of the Baltic. While Russia now decided not to press the question of the Åland Islands, and in fact went so far as to pretend that it never had been raised, the position of Sweden was made still more secure by an opportune reply given by Sir Edward Grey to a question on the subject in Parliament. It was to the effect that if we were asked to abrogate the Treaty of 1856 or to modify its terms, we should not answer without having first consulted Sweden. The British Press adopted a very friendly attitude, and cordially supported the claim of Sweden to become a signatory of a North Sea agreement, which was concluded early in 1908 simultaneously with a very anodyne Baltic agreement and the abrogation of the Treaty of Guarantees of 1855. The menace of the reconstruction of the Åland forts made the Swedes understand more clearly the motive of the attempt to isolate them and to create an entirely unjustified spirit of irritation against Great Britain. Feeling in the country reverted to its old orientation.
A very pleasant experience in the autumn of 1907 was our visit to Gothenburg, to which we were invited by the "English Factory." The members of the Factory are by origin Scotch and English, whose ancestors settled there a century ago, and it was their enterprise which made Gothenburg the powerful and wealthy city which it has become. It would indeed not be too much to say that it is from the initiative of the English Factory at Gothenburg that a modern commercial movement spread over the whole of Sweden. The descendants of the old business colony all became Swedes, but they still remain English and Scotch in type and character. It seems strange to find Dicksons, Barclays, Keillers, Seatons, Lyonses, and Carnegies, many of them only speaking English with an effort. The principal families of the Factory, whose members all appear to be prosperous and wealthy, live in great comfort very much after the manner of Englishmen sixty or seventy years ago. They are a healthy-minded people, contented with their lot, and munificent in their benefactions to the city which adopted their ancestors, while to complete the picture I might add what every one who has been to Gothenburg knows, that the ladies of the Factory are not only smart and accomplished but also exceptionally good-looking.
1 had only been some ten days in London, whither we went at the end of October, when I learned that the venerable King of Sweden was ill, and that little hope was entertained of his recovery. I started at once for my post, but only arrived in time to be received with the other heads of missions by his successor. King Oscar, as the youngest of three brothers, was not born to be King, and yet he had reigned some five and thirty years. If he was not a strong man, a more lovable one never existed, and it was therefore the sadder that the end of his long life should have been embittered by the diminution of his royal title. It came back to my mind how two years earlier he had said to me, with tears in his eyes
- "They might have waited a little till I had been carried
out to the Church at Riddarholm.." Thither I followed the old King to his last resting-place, and watched with a pathetic interest his two oldest friends, the Riksmarshal Baron Essen, and Ankarkrone, the Grand Veneur, who was eighty-four, standing by his bier with the regret of a lifetime in their faces.
The new King, who had, during the last two years as regent in time of stress, really borne the burden of kingship, entered upon his duties modestly and earnestly. It was announced that the ceremony of a coronation would be suppressed. When his predecessor had succeeded, the Riksdag had refused to defray the expenses of a coronation, and King Oscar who, notwithstanding his great simplicity of character, had a certain artistic appreciation of the pomp and circumstance of his high office, paid for it out of his own pocket.
The visits to England of the new Danish and Norwegian Sovereigns were to be returned at the end of April (1908), and King Edward, who, as I have already indicated, missed no opportunity of showing his friendliness to Sweden and its Royal House, announced his intention of paying a visit at the same time to Stockholm without waiting for the King and Queen of Sweden to have come first to England in accordance with precedents. This visit would in the natural order of events have been the last of the three. But as King Gustaf had to be in Russia for his second son's marriage at a date already fixed, it was agreed by mutual consent that Stockholm should in this case have precedence over Christiania, and the decision, though really due to accidental circumstances, was gratifying to Swedish amour-propre. The arrival of King Edward and Queen Alexandra in Stockholm just after public opinion in Sweden, momentarily misled by misrepresentations of a diplomatic intrigue, had realized that it had done less than justice to the constant goodwill of Great Britain, was the signal for a national demonstration of cordiality. In a long and rather comprehensive experience, no ruler that I have ever met understood the métier of kingship as did King Edward. Combining a natural dignity of presence with a cordial kindliness which won every heart, he was such a consummate man of the world that he never missed an opportunity of saying and doing the right thing with unerring tact at the right moment. Those two days in Stockholm won unbounded popularity for the uncle of the English princess, to whom the Swedes were already devoted, and the visit, helping to restore national confidence at a difficult moment, was immensely appreciated.
I was glad also to feel that a little of the satisfaction which it gave went out to the Sovereign to whom it was paid, whose position was growing stronger every day. H.M., who presented me with the collar of the Northern Star, which it seems is a distinction very rarely conferred, told me that he had learned that we should be leaving in the course of the autumn.
When the visit was over we went to St. Petersburg, and saw for the first time that strange city where the magnificent and the mean are so strikingly contrasted. It was the Hermitage collections that we had really come to see, and these surpassed all my anticipations. But we had unfortunately only been able to go there twice, when the galleries were closed in consequence of the death of the curator.
At the end of June, only a few days after my arrival in London, my old friend, Sir Edward Malet, passed away. I have, in the first volume of these recollections, spoken so much of him and of the sound lessons he taught us as young men, both as regards our profession and as members of society and citizens of the world, that it is unnecessary to repeat that testimony here. His diplomatic career had been a remarkable one. He began at seventeen as an attaché, and was afterwards for a short time in disponibility to enable him to go to Oxford. He became Ambassador at Berlin at forty-eight, after a very interesting career, and retired at the age of sixty. During the last twelve years of his life he took no further part in public affairs, though he was appointed in 1901 British member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. If Malet did not originate much he had a very just appreciation of things and saw rightly and clearly. He gave human nature all and perhaps more than the credit it deserves, and was very tolerant in his judgments of men, having imagination enough to appreciate their very different points of view. Thus, though he often dissented, he hardly ever condemned. His nature made him one of the most considerate, but also one of the most sensitive, of men.
Two days after I had attended his funeral at Chenies, Sir Edward Grey offered me the Embassy at Rome in terms which were very gratifying to me. I was in my fiftieth year, not quite so young therefore as Malet when he was appointed to Berlin, but then I did not enter the service till I was twenty-four. I thus realized an ambition which I had never openly admitted of reaching the highest rank in my profession in twenty-five years. The Embassy at Rome was, however, not to be vacant till November. Meanwhile, it would be convenient for service reasons that I should withdraw from Stockholm earlier in order to enable Cecil Spring Rice to take my place. It suited me perfectly to go for two or three months into disponibility, as this would enable us to visit Canada and the United States, which we had long desired to do. There was some little delay in obtaining the royal sanction, because the King had desired, as he told me soon afterwards, to send me to Berlin. The Foreign Office, however, were of opinion that my position there might become difficult, in spite of my having many old friends in Germany, because, though the Emperor had apparently quite got over the grievance he once entertained, his moods were unforeseeable, and at a difficult moment an old prejudice might have revived. This was certainly my own view, and I had no ambition to return. Had the King's wishes prevailed, it is conceivable that I might still have been at Berlin six years later in 1914, and so might have been called upon to meet the grave situation which was handled with so much dignity and patience by Sir Edward Goschen. After barely a month at home we returned to my post for a -few weeks to take our leave. I had also to assist at the official receptions of President Fallières and the German Emperor.
The constitution had just been declared in Turkey after the almost bloodless revolution engineered by the Young Turks to the success of which Salaeddin, the Sultan's own nephew, so largely contributed by his work in Asia Minor, while Ahmed Bey Rizah was the prime-mover in Turkey in Europe. The movement in its early days indeed appeared to be full of promise and goodwill. The Turkish Minister in Sweden was General Cherif Pasha, a particular friend of mine who had embraced the ideas of the group with enthusiasm, but became later on the most conspicuous opponent of a camarilla which only served the ambition of unprincipled adventurers whose rule was even more disastrous to Turkey than that of Abdul Hamid. His life was attempted at least once in Paris, where he edited and produced a paper which unmercifully castigated the new oligarchy. His wife, Princess Eminée of Egypt, who was related to the Sultan as well as to the Khedival family, had with the new reign in Sweden abandoned the seclusion of Eastern domestic life, and had appeared at Court with the other ladies of the Diplomatic body. She was certainly one of the most cultivated and accomplished ladies it has been my privilege to meet, and had been intimate with my wife long before she took the step which must always be very difficult for one brought up in the unchanging tradition of the East.
It was twenty-six years since I had had an opportunity of talking to the German Emperor, who on the occasion of his visit received all the heads of Missions separately. He was extremely amiable but looked older than I had anticipated. He had recently lived through certain difficult passages. No reference was made to the difficulty which had arisen just after I left Berlin in 1888. He asked me to write after I reached Rome, and tell him how I liked the Statue of Goethe which he had presented to the city and whether it had been well placed in the Villa Borghese. After I had seen the statue standing on an inverted Corinthian capital, and the groups which surround it, it seemed to me more prudent to forget the invitation.
It was with real regret that we bade farewell to our Swedish friends who had accepted us in warm-hearted genuine intimacy. Four years of friendly intercourse had created ties which it was not easy to sever, and no one made me feel this more strongly than the King himself when I presented my letter of recall. Of the Crown Prince and Princess we had seen a good deal since their marriage, and it was a pleasure to realize that an English Princess had already acquired so strong a hold on the popular affection. The Prime Minister, Admiral Lindman, thanked me for having been a good friend to Sweden. Perhaps the good-bye which touched me most was that of the veteran Riksmarshal, Baron von Essen, to whom we had both been much attached. He was a very old man then. He began: "On dit toujours au revoir---Mais." Then he paused some time, and holding my hand and looking me straight in the eyes he said: "Je ne vous oublierai jamais," and turned away.
Of all the peoples among whom I have lived, the Swedes seemed most like ourselves in their general outlook on life with perhaps a greater tendency to reserve. I learned many things from them, and found much in their social institutions worthy of admiration and even of imitation, were it possible to apply in a very populous country methods which work without friction in a relatively small population. Their educational system seemed to be admirably thought out, and I appreciated the application of a uniform primary education to all classes between the ages of seven and thirteen. There are no boarding schools for primary pupils. The youth of the country thus learns to rub shoulders with all sorts and conditions. At least one hour a day is devoted to learning some handicraft which the pupil is free to select. It is only in the secondary course that the study of the classics is initiated : Latin at thirteen and Greek at fifteen. The age for commencing to learn Latin ranges from eleven to thirteen all over the Continent, where the atavistic survivals of the Middle Ages, to which we still tenaciously cling, have been discarded. In the secondary stage the pupil can select his own school. Boarding schools as yet are rare, but their popularity is increasing. What struck me as perhaps more open to question in Sweden was the extreme length of the University course. But the standard of education throughout the nation is very high.
It was in Stockholm in those days that I first heard from Swedish Naval officers, who in common waters were in constant and intimate touch with the German Navy, of a mysterious ward-room toast "Der Tag," which was drunk in the warships of the latter. My naval friends had never any doubt as to which navy and which nation was contemplated as the eventual antagonist. That such a toast was pledged in the German Navy was, in the early days of the war, denied in Germany. But it was well known in Sweden before 1908. Generally everything that I heard in Stockholm regarding the country which their close proximity and commercial dependence compelled the Swedes to study closely, confirmed the view which I had reluctantly adopted, that the ultimate ambition of the younger generation in Germany was the overthrow of the British Empire, and one of the last private letters I wrote to my Chief in the Foreign Office (to Lord Lansdowne before he retired from office) summed up the grim conclusions of my experience.
Having already enjoyed my summer leave in England, I had now a longer period of liberty in prospect than I had ever known since I entered the public service. It was, however, overcast by the grave illness and death of a very beloved sister-in-law, who has left behind an abiding memory of sweetness and charm. After a brief interval, my brother-in-law, Cecil Bingham, and his second son decided to accompany us for the sea voyage to Canada, and we left on the 2nd of October in the Allan liner Corsican for Quebec. A wireless telegram in mid-Atlantic announced the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria, and the Bulgarian proclamation of independence. On the receipt of this news, which struck the first menacing note of a remodelling of the old Europe, the habit of life made me regret that I was not at my post in Rome instead of on the high seas. But the entrance to the St. Lawrence and the shores brilliant with the autumn foliage distracted my thoughts. Every few miles we passed a very big church with a village of small white houses constituting its dependency. There was something rather suggestive in the stationary life of these modest houses occupied by the old French settlers under the shadow of the belfries, on the threshold of a vast progressive Canada.
Quebec, magnificently situated, had the character of a French provincial town. As such its interest is perhaps less intrinsic than due to its situation in a new continent. The Château Frontenac, one of the best hotels in the world, offered a welcome atmosphere of home to those who had crossed the great water. But it was Wolfe's cove and the Heights of Abraham which I had always longed to see that struck the first note of real emotion in the new world. The area seemed incredibly small for an event which had decided the fate of the vast Canadian dominion. The battle-field, hardly larger than Lord's cricket-ground, lay close to the fort and the town, and the scene of the unopposed landing itself was far nearer the ground of action than I had imagined it to be. To realize the conditions under which Wolfe's little army of 5,000 men carried out their immortal enterprise, one had to think oneself back into the early days of colonial warfare, when the range of action was restricted and the movements of troops and ships slow, when communications with an unimaginative Government at home were rare and precarious, when men worn down with anxiety and sickness and uncertainty of support were only sustained by a romantic faith in the destiny of their country and a paramount sense of duty. So, thinking backward, we may measure the stature of that solitary and heroic figure who dared the great adventure with the prophetic line upon his lips, "The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
In Montreal all doors were opened to us through the genial sponsorship of Charles Hosmer and his wife. I was much impressed by the genuine love of art which distinguished the hospitable members of the cultivated group whom it was our privilege to meet. The Ross and Drummond galleries were remarkable. Hosmer himself had good pictures and a very interesting collection of miniatures and Greek statuettes. Sir William van Horn was to our regret absent. But we had great pleasure in making the acquaintance of another owner of beautiful things, the veteran Mr. Angus, the handsomest old man I ever saw, if indeed one could call him old in his seventy-seventh year. For more than a decade later I met him quite unexpectedly in the Vatican gallery, when his daughter complained to me of his unreasonable attitude in declining to wear an overcoat in the Roman spring.
The Binghams left us at Montreal to return to England, while we went on to Toronto. I was a little disconcerted on arriving there after a night journey, when a knock on the door, while I was in pyjamas and preparing to shave, was followed by the immediate entry of a gentleman who announced himself as the representative of a newspaper which I need not name, and forthwith settled himself down in an armchair. I made myself as agreeable as the circumstances permitted during an interview which lasted the best part of an hour, and when at last at liberty to dress went off to see Goldwin Smith, whom I found very flourishing in spite of his eighty-six years and delighted to have news of old friends at home.
At Niagara I was pleasantly reminded of my old Chief, Dufferin, to whose influence it was, as I was told, largely due that nature's superb manifestation of power has been so admirably framed on the Canadian shore, in contrast with the grim and ugly utilitarian structures which deface the American side. Thence after a hasty glimpse at Buffalo, whose thronging streets had the aspect of a perpetual fair, we went directly to Washington, where George Meyer and his wife made us cordially welcome in the gracious city which, having started with nothing provisional or ugly to undo, promises to become, and indeed is already, an ideal capital. Meyer, who became secretary for the Navy in the following administration, was then Roosevelt's Postmaster-General. In the evening after our arrival and a dinner at which Secretary of State Root and the Jusserands were guests our host took me to the White House.
1 have always felt a little diffident at first meetings with celebrated people whom I should wish not to disappoint, and I must confess that a certain sense of shyness possessed me when a broad-shouldered man with a large mouth opening in its eagerness, but corner-lifted in a characteristic smile, advanced to greet me, and hailed me with a warm grasp. of the hand, as the author of the Princes of Achaia. Theodore Roosevelt put me at my ease at once. He had, he said, always been interested in lost causes, in great designs which through the accident of circumstance had led to no result, and the particular bypath of history subsequent to the Fourth Crusade which I had investigated had fascinated him. We went on to discuss the last phase of Venetian achievement in the near East and Morosini's great campaign in the Morea. He had just been studying letters of Prince Eugene who served under Francesco Morosini.
Besides Meyer, there were also present Taft, genially hopeful of the success of his election campaign now in full swing, Garfield and Wright, respectively Secretaries for the Interior and for War. It was, in fact, a sort of informal Cabinet meeting, where the members were addressed as Will and George, or referred to as Elihu, and when the President could get his mind away from books he would decide a few current affairs with Ministers. Then we went back to literature and the latest volumes which he had been reading with unadulterated pleasure : Trevelyan's Garibaldi, and Gilbert Murray's Rise of the Greek Epic. He asked me for suggestions as to what he could best include in the limited library which he could take on hi forthcoming African expedition. I submitted a few book which would take time to digest and be sufficiently absorbing without demanding greater concentration than camp life would permit. Among these was Gregorovius' Rome in the Middle Ages, which he had never read. Then came the turn of the others, and a lurid light was thrown on the proceedings of a certain big boss who was not to escape with impunity. The President took notes and sketched a modus operandi. After that we returned to his travels, and my East African experience was invoked for various counsels. I was also consulted as how he could get through a contemplated European tour in 1910 without being treated as a lion like President Grant, whose example he did not wish to emulate. I could only advise to accept the gifts of the gods and be his own genial self. Taft outlined a witty programme of the ceremonies to be anticipated, and there was Olympian laughter when the President talked of travelling like a simple tourist. It was a small but goodly company of real men, simple and direct, with a quiet force behind them. As for Roosevelt, he was a splendid type or honest, vital humanity, sparkling with energy and quick with brain of the highest quality. It was bracing to meet him. We sat late. But when the President said: "I am out for Bryan to-morrow," it seemed time to leave him to prepare for the battle. I enjoyed myself immensely, and walked home with Meyer feeling that I had been exceptionally privileged
There was a visit to Mount Vernon. The place has undoubtedly an anima loci, that spiritual atmosphere which attaches itself to certain, to a very few, spots. The wonderful situation on the Potomac, where the ships dip their flags as they pass; the intimate suggestion of the old colonial life conveyed by the house with its wood-columned porticoes; the perfect simplicity and good taste within and without; the association of the great life whose home it was and the grave in the garden---he would be cold and insensitive indeed whose soul did not respond to their appeal.
The great event, however, in a wholly delightful week was the dinner at which we were entertained at the White House. In addition to the President's family and the Meyers, the other guests were Jusserand and his wife, he the ideal French Ambassador for Washington, Mr. Root and the Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Bacon, and Mrs. Bacon. My wife sat between the President and Mr. Root, who was in the best of his brilliant form. She asked the latter whether he thought Mr. Bryan, who was beating the record in speech-making, was gaining ground. "Ah. Bryan," said Root, " is busy talking about his principles. Mr. Bryan's principles are like ghosts. We may not ever have seen them, but we are all of us very much afraid of them." If my volumes of verse have only attracted a moderate attention at home, I had reason to be proud of the appreciation they had received on the other side of the water. I was shown a scrapbook by Mrs. Roosevelt, into which a number of poems had been copied, and our cordial host quoted a stanza in proposing my health. He seemed to have committed to an unfailing memory all the poetry which appealed to him, and he told me that he kept it fresh in mind by reciting to himself when he was alone in his dressing-room. After dinner he took my wife into his study and showed her a table piled with books which had just arrived, including all the numerous volumes of Gregorovius ! "Look," he said, "at the result of an hour's conversation with that man of yours; if he were to stay here another week he would ruin me in books." He told us some astounding stories about the wild men in his regiment during the Spanish War. A reference from Root to a certain politician who had offended evoked a characteristic outburst. "If I did not belong," said the President, "to a preposterous and effete civilization, I should certainly kill that man." We found another bond of sympathy in appreciating the rare individuality of our mutual friend, Cecil Spring Rice, and then returned to African reminiscences and anticipations. Roosevelt was of course the ideal man with whom to hunt the lion and rhinoceros, and discuss the Hohenstauffens or Canossa over the camp fire at night. We were to meet again in Rome in 1910, and that was a date to which to look forward, for in less than a week I had grown to love the man.
Philadelphia we saw from the hospitable house of an old friend of Roman associations, Mrs. Rowland, the daughter of the Provost of the University. The city of William Penn has a quite homelike charm for Englishmen, and its kindly citizens made us regret that a public official on his holiday could not pay a longer visit. Boston was full of old friends, and Barret Wendell initiated us into the life of Harvard. In much that was memorable there I think I most appreciated the privilege of an invitation to the ancient Wednesday Evening Club, where were Rhodes the historian and Lancelot Lowell and many more, who talked brilliantly and made me happily sensible of the freemasonry of letters in all lands. After these too few well-filled days we were due at Ottawa to pay a visit to the Greys. There we met Milner, who was to address the Canadian Club, and Mackenzie King, whom I find already then indicated in my diary as a probable future Prime Minister. I paid a long visit to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was suffering from shingles, a most picturesque figure in a blue dressing-gown, with his long grey hair and a profile which would have been appropriate to one of Ghirlandaio's frescoes. He gave me a summary of points which might be of common interest to Italy and Canada. Though actually in opposition, he spoke of politics with studied moderation, and mentioned as a proof of his well-balanced mind that the Catholics were denouncing him as an anti-clerical, while the Radicals branded him as an ultra-montane. Grey, with his imperial convictions, his infectious enthusiasm, and an eternal boyhood of the heart, was an ideal Governor. He had just returned from an expedition to the Far West, and was full of its boundless possibilities.
A brief visit to the Hosmers took us back to Montreal, where Milner made an excellent speech on Imperial Preference as a step on the road to federation. It fired the audience to sing "God save the King," and they sang it from the heart. Thence we went to New York, of which bewildering city I will not attempt to speak. I wondered how the men of letters with whom I lunched at the Players Club could do any writing in its bustling atmosphere. But after all there is plenty of good work produced within a hundred yards of the Strand, and did not Lowell himself find inspiration in the hum of the great city, which suggested to him the roaring loom of time ? In the midst of it I sat for an hour with a veteran who was still compiling and criticizing at the ripe age of ninety-three, old John Bigelow, who had been America's representative at Paris under the Second Empire.
It was our good fortune to be in New York on election day. After dinner Ralph Stuart Wortley took us out to see the humours of the crowd in Broad Street. The popular carnival was entirely good humoured and free from any suspicion of roughness. We went on to a broker's office, where the returns were being posted. Before eleven o'clock it was clear that Taft had swept the country. The rooms were crowded, and there was supper for all comers. I found it most refreshing there to talk to men who did not think in grooves. In contradistinction to most of my countrymen, who on their return from the United States dilate chiefly on the charms of the American women---and far be it from me to differ from them---I found that it was the men who in their own country interested me most. They may perhaps have less general culture than the average men of a similar class at home, and are in any case very modest about their attainments, but they think for themselves, and give you a first-hand bed-rock opinion on things as they see and feel them.
Our "discovery of America" had been all too brief, but not a minute had been wasted. Thanks to the sheltering hospitality of friends, I escaped with a record of only three interviews and three inevitable cocktails, and on the 16th of November the Cedric safely delivered us at Liverpool.
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