ā for I heard a horrible rumour on leaving New
York that they were planning a banquet and public
reception. If that should turn out to be so, there
will be no London for me till after midnight. I
wired Mr. White to stop it if possible, and hope he
will have done so.
An extract from a note to Senator Lodge written
from London a fortnight later adds a comic touch to
the description of Hay's triumphal entry into the
United Kingdom : ā
" If you had been at Southampton, you would not
have had the pleasure of seeing Oom Hendrik ^ gloat-
ing over my sufferings. He so thoroughly disap-
proved of the whole proceeding that he fled to the
innermost recesses of the ship ā some authorities
say to the coal-bunkers ā out of sight and sound
of the whole revolving exchange of compliments.
Henry James stood by, and heard it all, and then
asked, in his mild, philosophical way, 'What impres-
sion does it make on your mind to have these insects
creeping about and saying things to you?' . . .
"I have declined twenty-six invitations to eat
dinner and make speeches. I trust my action in this
matter meets your approval." (May 6, 1897.)
The Ambassador established himself at No. 5
^ Hay's nickname for Mr. Adams.
i6o JOHN HAY
Carlton Terrace. His first public appearance was at
the unveiling of the bust of Sir Walter Scott in
Westminster Abbey (May 21, 1897), where he made
an address of marked literary distinction which led
the British public to believe that they had in him
such a minister as America had not sent them since
James Russell Lowell. Immediately thereafter came
for Hay the fatigues incident to his share in the cele-
bration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Contrary to his wish, Whitelaw Reid had persuaded
President McKinley to send a special Embassy to
greet the Queen, with himself naturally at the head
of it. This greatly added to the burden of Hay's re-
sponsibility, in making arrangements for two Amer-
ican representations instead of one.
He writes confidentially about his annoyances
to Mr. Adams, who had gone to France: ā
^^ June 4. The town begins to grow abominable
for Jubilee. Six miles of lumber deform the streets.
The fellow-being pullules. How well you are out of
"July 7. The Jubilee is gone like a Welsh-rabbit
dream. It was an explosion of loyalty that amazed
John Bull himself. What a curious thing it is, that
there has been no king in England since Elizabeth
of special distinction ā most of them far worse than
mediocre ā only the foreigner, William III, of any
I'liotograpli by HoUiivjer \ Co. in 1S97
JOHN HAY WHEN AMBASSADOR TO ENGLAND
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP i6i
merit ā and yet the monarchical reHgion has grown
day by day till the Queen is worshiped as more than
mortal, and the Prince will be more popular still
when he accedes. ... I see nobody but everybody,
and that is a diet of husks."
To Mr. Adams's invitation that he come over and
refresh himself at St. Germain, Hay sent a serio-
To Henry Adams
London, July 25, 1897.
My dear D'Angouleme: ā
It is no less than a bloomin' shyme that I cannot
accept your kind invitation to your royal pleasure-
dome. But the flight of my household Goddesses
does not free me, as you seem to think, from all obli-
gations, human and divine.
I cannot leave this blessed Isle even at the sum-
mons of my betters in the Forest of St. Germain.
"Come again next week!" says my Lord of Salis-
bury, or, by preference, "Wait till I send for thee,
when I have a more convenient season."
The sight of a worthy human being happy is com-
forting to the soul, and I have seen my friend White-
law sitting between two princesses at supper every
night, a week running, and I now may intone my
nunc dimittis. His rapture had the aliquid amari
i62 JOHN HAY
that the end must come, but the memoty of it will
soothe many an hour of ennui at Ophir Farm.
I do not know why, in your presence, I naturally
run to slanderous gossip, but I suppose one must
once in a while abuse one's friends, ā and you in-
spire confidence. And E. A. has been to see me, and
called me and all my friends idiots and thieves, un-
der the impression that he was making himself espe-
If Hay, in his intimate correspondence, had his
joke at the foibles of others, he was, as we have often
seen, equally impartial in seeing his own comic side.
Hay's work as Ambassador may be divided into
two phases. One, covering his first year of residence
in England, resulted in cementing friendship be-
tween the two nations. This was a service of great
importance, because Cleveland's Venezuela Message
had aroused at home the chronic, though then
slumbering, animosity towards the mother country,
and had caused in Britain itself, quite logically,
indignation, resentment, and a predisposition to re-
gard every thing American unfavorably.
The Venezuela Message, however, put to the test
the deepest convictions of both peoples and re-
vealed to each of them that a war between England
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 163
and the United States on any grounds then con-
ceivable, would be not only an immeasurable calam-
ity, but also a crime against the Anglo-Saxon ideals
of civilization for which each stood. To bring about
friendliness was the task of not merely formal diplo-
macy but of personal influence : and this it was which
Hay possessed to a degree surpassing that of any of
his predecessors in the English mission. Personal in-
fluence is a force which can hardly be defined in such
a case. It acts cumulatively, often subconsciously,
and can be estimated only by its outcome. The great
diplomatist ā and Hay was that ā attains his ends,
not merely by the business-like methods with which
he receives visitors in his office, but by his social con-
tacts. In societies like the English and French, which
possess a long tradition of etiquette and manners,
the quality of man-of-the-world, which also was
Hay's, often counts for more than rank, intellectual
eminence, or learning in history and the technical-
ities of international law.
Several important questions were pending between
the United States and Great Britain. The dispute
over the Bering Sea fisheries; the attempt to pacify
the Free Silver fanatics at home by securing an inter-
national agreement on bimetallism; the conclusion
of the Venezuela arbitration; and the passage of
the Dingley Tariff Bill, by which the Republicans
i64 JOHN HAY
reaffirmed their devotion to high protection, ā all
gave the Ambassador work which called for two
qualities in which he abounded ā tact and courtesy.
"The town swarms with Senators on their holidays
[he writes humorously on August 12]. They are all
in a blue funk about the inspector on the New York
docks. It was gentle and joyous sport to pass the
Tariff Bill, but when it comes to paying duty on their
London dittoes it is another story."
Later he speaks of several prominent Americans
as "resting from the slaughter of grouse, and mark-
ing down their pajamas to get them under the $100
limit. You can go home as a Polynesian prince and
pay no duties " [he adds].
His fidelity to Protection never dulled his sense of
During the winter, Mr. Hay, accompanied by Mr.
Adams and other friends, went up the Nile. Before
he returned to London in March, the Maine had
been blown up in Havana Harbor and fire-eaters in
the United States were clamoring for war with Spain.
The Ambassador set himself to work to propitiate
English opinion, and this was the second phase of his
service. His formal instructions came, of course,
from Washington; but it depended largely on his
tact whether the British Government looked favor-
ably on them or not.
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 165
In a private letter he gives a summary of the feel-
ing in London.
To Senator H. C. Lodge
London, April 5, 1898.
If you think I am rushing in where I am not wel-
come, you can rap my knuckles and I will bear it
meekly ā but I will have had my say.
I do not know whether you especially value the
friendship and sympathy of this country [England].
I think it important and desirable in the present
state of things, as it is the only European country
whose sympathies are not openly against us. We will
not waste time in discussing whether the origin of
this feeling is wholly selfish or not. Its existence is
beyond question. I find it wherever I go ā not only
in the press, but in private conversation. For the
first time in my life I find the " drawing-room " senti-
ment altogether with us. If we wanted it ā which,
of course, we do not ā we could have the practical
assistance of the British Navy ā on the do ut des
I think, in the near future, this sentiment, even if
it amounts to nothing more, is valuable to us. . . .
[He now describes how, at the last levee,] all the
royalties stopped me, shook hands and made some
civil remark. The Spanish Ambassador coming next
i66 JOHN HAY
to me, was received merely with a bow. . . . You may
think "it is none of my Lula business," but I think
the Senate Committee's allusion to England in the
Hawaii [report] was not of sufficient use at home to
compensate for the jar it gave over here.
And there is that unfortunate Putnam award! ^
I suppose you all think ā as I do ā that it is ab-
surdly exorbitant; that P. gave us away ā which is
all true, I have no doubt. But, after all, he was our
representative, and we are included by his act. We
have nothing to do but pay and look pleasant, or else
say we won't, which is of course open for any nation
to do ā with the natural result. Is there no way of
hurrying the matter through? I am sure it will be
worth the sacrifice.
You have had an anxious and exciting week. You
may imagine what it is to me, absolutely without
light or instruction, compelled to act from day to
day on my own judgment, and at no moment sure
of the wishes of the Department. What I should
have done, if the feeling here had been unfriendly
instead of cordially sympathetic, it is hard to say.
The commonest phrase is here: "I wish you would
take Cuba at once. We would n't have stood it
* Judge W. L. Putnam, for the United States, and Judge King
for Canada, arbitrators of the British claims for the unjust seizure
of British vessels, awarded $425,000 to the claimants.
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 167
And of course no power on earth would have shown
such patience and such scrupulous regard for law.
Events now hurried on apace. On May i Com-
modore Dewey battered to pieces the obsolescent
Spanish fleet at Cavite, the news of the victory
being delayed several days.
On May 8 Hay replies to Mr. Theodore Stanton,
at Paris, who had suggested that it might do good if
Mr. Bryce would visit France, where also a current
of hostile feeling was blowing : ā
**I have received your letter about James Bryce
and have written him to-day to appuyer your request.
I think it an excellent idea. . . .
"We are all very happy over Dewey's splendid
Sunday's work at Manila, and anxiously waiting
news from Sampson and Schley. If we can carry off
one more serious sea-fight, I hope we can then see
daylight. I detest war, and had hoped I might never
see another, but this was as necessary as it was
righteous. I have not for two years seen any other
'*How Dewey did wallop them! [he writes to Mr.
Adams on May 9]. His luck was so monstrous that
it really detracts from his glory. And don't you go
to making mistakes about McKinley! He is no
tenderfoot ā he has a habit of getting there. Many
i68 JOHN HAY
among the noble and the pure have had occasion to
change their minds about him. My friend Smalley
changes his weekly. Sometimes he admires him more
than I do, and sometimes less. I think he is wrong
both times. I don't pretend to know the Major very
well, but the Cobden Club and Godkin ^ know him
Another letter to Senator Lodge gives this import-
ant information : ā
To Senator Lodge
London, May 25, 1898.
. . . Your letter gave me the most gratifying and
the most authentic account of the feeling among the
leading men in America that I have got from any
source. It is a moment of immense importance, not
only for the present, but for all the future. It is
hardly too much to say the interests of civilization
are bound up in the direction the relations of Eng-
land and America are to take in the next few months.
The state of feeling here is the best I have ever
known. From every quarter, the evidences of it
come to me. The royal family, by habit and tradi-
tion, are most careful not to break the rules of strict
neutrality, but even among them I find nothing but
hearty kindness, and ā so far as is consistent with
* Editor of the New York Evening Post.
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 169
propriety ā sympathy. Among the political leaders
on both sides I find not only sympathy, but a some-
what eager desire that "the other fellows" shall not
seem the more friendly. Chamberlain's startling
speech ^ was partly due to a conversation I had
with him, in which I hoped he would not let the
opposition have a monopoly of expressions of good-
will to America. He is greatly pleased with the re-
ception his speech met with on our side, and says
he "don't care a hang what they say about it on the
I spend the great part of my time declining invita-
tions to dine and speak. But on the rare occasions
when I do go to big public dinners the warmth of the
welcome leaves nothing to be desired. But the over-
whelming weight of opinion is on our side. A smash-
ing blow in the Caribbean would help wonderfully.
' On May 13, Mr. Chamberlain addressed the Birmingham Liberal-
Unionist Association and said: "What is our next duty? It is to
establish and to maintain bonds of permanent amity with our kins-
men across the Atlantic. There is a powerful and a generous nation.
They speak our language. They are bred of our race. Their laws,
their literature, their standpoint upon every question, are the same
as ours. Their feeling, their interests in the cause of humanity and
the peaceful developments of the world are identical with ours. I
don't know what the future has in store for us; I don't know what
arrangements may be possible with us; but this I do know and feel,
that the closer, the more cordial, the fuller, and the more definite
these arrangements are, with the consent of both peoples, the better
it will be for both and for the world ā and I even go so far as to say
that, terrible as war may be, even war itself would be cheaply pur-
chased if, in a great and noble cause, the Stars and Stripes and the
Union Jack should wave together over an Anglo-Saxon alliance."
170 JOHN HAY
But an enemy determined not to fight can elude a
battle a long time. And our hair is growing gray
while we wait and read the fool despatches. . , .
I wish we could all be chloroformed for a few
months, and begin life again in October. I do not so
much mind my friends going into battle, but the
fever is a grisly thing to encounter.
The next letter to Mr. Adams is dated May 27.
The Ambassador is already looking forward to the
end of the war. I have found no trace of the draft of
the "little project" which he mentions.
" I have your yesterday's letter, and it was a great
balm to my self-conceit to know that I held the same
views you express as to terms of peace. I had drawn
up a little project which was yours almost verbatim.
"The weak point in both of our schemes is the
Senate. I have told you many times that I did not
believe another important treaty would ever pass
the Senate. What is to be thought of a body which
will not take Hawaii as a gift, and is clamoring to
hold the Philippines? Yet that is the news we have
"The man who makes the Treaty of Peace with
Spain will be lucky If he escapes lynching. But I am
old, with few days and fewer pleasures left, and I
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 171
"I think, however, Paris will be the likelier place,
and I don't hanker after the job."
The stress of work during these anxious months
was partly relieved for Hay by the coming and go-
ing of American friends, among whom were several
of his Washington circle besides Mr. Henry Adams.
In June Mr. Adams writes: ā
"The Camerons came over and took the fine old
house of Surrenden Dering, in Kent, which they
made a sort of country-house to the Embassy."
Hay's letter to Senator Lodge, just quoted, Indi-
cates that he realized that civilization stood at the
cross-roads in those months of the Spanish war, and
that on the welding together of England and the
United States, the future welfare of two hemispheres
depended. Mr. Adams with his genius for keen and
philosophic generalization puts the Issue in a memor-
"After two hundred years," Mr. Adams writes,
"of stupid and greedy blundering, which no argu-
ment and no violence affected, the people of England
learned their lesson just at the moment when Hay
would otherwise have faced a flood of the old anxie-
ties. Hay himself scarcely knew how grateful he'
should be, for to him the change came almost of
course. He saw only the necessary stages that had
led to it, and to him they seemed natural; but to
172 JOHN HAY
Adams, still living in the atmosphere of Palmerston
and John Russell, the sudden appearance of Ger-
many as the grizzly terror which in twenty years
effected what Adamses had tried for two hundred
in vain, ā frightened England into America's arms,
ā seemed as melodramatic as any plot of Napoleon
the Great. He could feel only the sense of satisfac-
tion at seeing the diplomatic triumph of all his
family, since the breed existed, at last realised under
his own eyes for the advantage of his oldest and
The next note that follows belongs to this time.
To Senator Lodge
July 27, 1898.
I am most grateful to you for your letters. I
appreciate the sacrifice so busy a man makes in writ-
ing; and coming, as they do, from the very center of
news, they are most interesting and valuable.
I can send you little that is interesting in return.
The daily telegrams in the papers make everything
stale a few hours after it happens. There are a few
things, it is true, under the surface, but the people
you know tell you everything. I have been under
great obligations the last few months to X., who
knows Germany as few men do, and has kept me
wonderfully au courant of facts and opinions there.
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 173
How splendidly things have moved our way! I do
not see a ghost of a chance for Bryan in the next few
Meanwhile the change had come about in the
State Department at home which was presently to
affect Hay himself. He writes to Mr. Adams on
May 9: "Judge Day ^ is Secretary of State. He did
not want it, and the Major [McKinley] had other
views. But the crisis was precipitated by a lapse of
memory in a conversation with the Austrian Min-
ister of so serious a nature that the President had
to put in Day without an instant's delay ā I need
not tell you how much to my relief."
One summer evening while the Hays were visit-
ing their friends at Surrenden the Ambassador re-
ceived the following cablegram : ā
Washington, Aug. 13, 1898.
" It gives me exceptional pleasure to tender to you
the ofHce of Secretary of State, vice Day, who will
resign to take service on the Paris Commission, to
negotiate peace. It is important that you should
assume duties here not later than the first of Sep-
tember. Cable answer.
1 William Rufus Day, of Ohio, now a Justice of the United States
174 JOHN HAY
The honor offered came as a surprise. Whatever
had been rumored, or talked over, or conjectured,
the President had not earHer promised Hay the re-
version of Secretary Day's portfoHo. Hay would have
preferred to remain in London, where the duties were
more congenial, and, as he thought, better suited to
The friends at Surrenden debated what reply Hay
should make. He would gladly have found, Mr.
Adams writes, "a valid excuse for refusing. The
discussion on both sides was earnest, but the de-
cided voice of the conclave was that, though if he
were a mere ofhce-seeker he might certainly decline
promotion, if he were a member of the Government
he could not. No serious statesman could accept a
favor and refuse a service. Doubtless he might
refuse, but in that case he must resign. . . . His only
ambition was to escape annoyance, and no one knew
better than he that, at sixty years of age, sensitive to
physical strain, still more sensitive to brutality, vin-
dictiveness or betrayal, he took office at cost of life.
** Neither he nor any of the Surrenden circle made
pretence of gladness at the new dignity, for, with all
his gaiety of manner and lightness of wit, he took
dark views of himself, none the lighter for their
humor, and his obedience to the President's order
was the gloomiest acquiescence he had ever smiled.
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 175
Adams took dark views, too, not so much on Hay's
account as on his own; for, while Hay had at least
the honors of ofhce, his friends would share only the
ennuis of it; but, as usual with Hay, nothing was
gained by taking such matters solemnly, and old
habits of the Civil War left their mark of military
drill on every one who lived through it. He shoul-
dered his pack and started for home."
So he cabled his acceptance to the President. Ill-
ness and various duties detained him in England till
the middle of September.
As soon as his promotion was published, letters of
congratulation began to pour in upon him, and these
were followed by other letters in which his English
friends expressed their regrets at his departure.
To one correspondent he replied : ā
To Andrew Carnegie
London, August 22, 1898.
My dear Carnegie, ā I thank you for the Skibo
grouse and also for your kind letter. It is a solemn
and a sobering thing to hear so many kind and un-
merited words as I have heard and read this last
week. It seems to me another man they are talking
about, while I am expected to do his work. I wish a
little of the kindness could be saved till I leave office
176 JOHN HAY
I have read with the keenest interest your article
in the North American} I am not allowed to say in
my present fix how much I agree with you. The only
question in my mind is how far it is now possible for
us to withdraw from the Philippines. I am rather
thankful it is not given to me to solve that momen-
A few other letters which refer to his home-going
should be quoted.
To Sir John Clark
Osborne, August 30, 1898,
I have a few minutes left before my boat starts
for Portsmouth, and I improve them to send you a
word from the house of your august and venerable
friend and sovereign. The Queen spoke of you last
night with great kindness, and made me unhappy in
the thought that I could not go as I had intended to
Tilly pronie. But since I have said good-by to her
here, it would hardly answer to go so near Balmoral,
even if I could. It does not seem possible that I am
buried down with trivial affairs which will take all
my time till the day I sail.
I wish I might have a day or two to talk with you.
* The North American Review, August, 1898. "Distant Posses-
sions ā The Parting of the Ways."
HAY'S AMBASSADORSHIP 177
The peripeties which have led up to this most un-
welcome change are too complicated to write about.
When the time came, all too soon, that the President
sent for me, there was no possibility of refusing to
answer his summons. There could have been no
adequate explanation of my nolo episcopari.
I grieve to go away from England. In a year or
two I think I should have been ready, but the
charms of this blessed island are inexhaustible,
and perhaps I should never have had enough of
I have received much kindness here from all sorts
and conditions of men. Dearest and most enduring
of all my recollections are those happy hours spent
at Tillypronie with the earliest and best of our Eng-
lish friends. The chains of office will not fetter me
for ever, I hope, and the first use I shall make of my
liberty will be to cross the great water and to renew
an acquaintance which will be precious to me as long
as I live.
To Senator Lodge
London, August 31, 1898.
Just a word in advance of my home-coming to
thank you for your kind letter. I hope, after I am in-
stalled in Mr. Mullett's masterpiece,^ I may count on
* The State Department Building in Washington.