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was speedily given a place of honor among the interior
decorations of our hall, and all then went on satisfactorily.

As the war with Spain progressed, various causes of
difficulty arose between Germany and the United States ;
but I feel bound to say that the German Government con-
tinued to act toward us with justice. The sensational
press, indeed, continued its work on both sides of the At-
lantic. On our side it took pains to secure and publish
stories of insults by the German Admiral Diederichs to the
American Admiral Dewey, and to develop various legends
regarding these two commanders. As a matter of fact,
each of the two admirals, when their relations first began
in Manila, was doubtless rather stiff and on his guard
against the other; but these feelings soon yielded to dif-
ferent sentiments.

The foolish utterances of various individuals, spread
by sundry American papers, were heartily echoed in the
German press, the most noted among these being an al-
leged after-dinner speech by an American officer at a
New York club, and a Congressional speech in which the
person who made it declared that ''the United States,
having whipped Spain, ought now to whip Germany."
Still, the thinking men intrusted with the relations between
the two countries labored on, though at times there must
have recurred to us a sense of the divine inspiration of
Schiller's words, " Against stupidity even the gods fight
in vain. ' '

Of course the task of the embassy in protecting Ameri-
can citizens abroad was especially increased in those times
of commotion. At such periods the number of ways in
which American citizens, native or naturalized, can get
into trouble seems infinite; and here, too, even from the


first moment of my arrival in Berlin as ambassador, I
saw evidences of the same evil which had struck me dur-
ing my previous missions in Berlin and St. Petersburg
namely, the constant and ingenious efforts to prostitute
American citizenship. Among the manifold duties of an
ambassador is the granting of passports. The great ma-
jority of those who ask for them are entitled to them;
but there are always a considerable number of persons
who, having left Europe just in time to escape military
service, have stayed in America just long enough to ac-
quire American citizenship, and then, having returned
to their native country, seek to enjoy the advantages of
both countries while discharging the duties of neither.
Even worse were the cases of the descendants of such so-
called Americans, most of them born in Europe and not
able even to speak the English language ; worst of all were
the cases of sundry Russians sometimes stigmatized as
"predatory Hebrews" who, having left Russia and gone
to America, had stayed just long enough to acquire citizen-
ship, and then returned and settled in the eastern part
of Germany, as near the Russian frontier as possible.
These were naturally regarded as fraudulent interlopers
by both the German and Russian authorities, and much
trouble resulted. Some of them led a life hardly out-
side the limits of criminality ; but they never hesitated on
this account to insist on their claims to American pro-
tection. When they were reminded that American citi-
zenship was conferred upon them, not that they might
shirk its duties and misuse its advantages in the land of
their birth, but that they might enjoy it and discharge
its duties in the land of their adoption, they scouted the
idea and insisted on their right, as American citizens, to
live where they pleased. Their communications to the
embassy were, almost without exception, in German,
Russian, or Polish ; very few of them wrote or even spoke
English, and very many of them could neither read nor
write in any language. For the hard-working immigrant,
whether Jew or Gentile, who comes to our country and


casts in his lot with us, to take his share not only of privi-
lege but of duty, I have the fullest respect and sympathy,
and have always been glad to intervene in his favor; but
intervention in behalf of those fraudulent pretenders I
always felt to be a galling burden.

Fortunately the rules of the State Department have
been of late years strengthened to meet this evil, and it
has finally become our practice to inform such people
that if they return to America they can receive a passport
for that purpose ; but that unless they show a clear inten-
tion of returning, they cannot. Very many of them persist
in their applications in spite of this, and one case became
famous both at the State Department and at the embassy.
Three Russians of the class referred to had emigrated
with their families to America, and, after the usual man-
ner, stayed just long enough to acquire citizenship, and
had then returned to Germany. One of them committed a
crime and disappeared ; the other two went to the extreme
eastern frontier of Prussia and settled there. Again and
again the Prussian Government notified us that under
the right exercised by every nation, and especially by our
own, these " undesirable intruders" must leave Prussian
territory or be expelled. Finally we discovered at the
embassy that a secret arrangement had been made be-
tween Germany and Russia which obliged each to return
the undesirable emigrants of the other. This seemed to
put the two families in great danger of being returned
to Russia; and, sooner than risk a new international
trouble, a proposal was made to them, through the em-
bassy, to pay their expenses back to America; but they
utterly refused to leave, and continued to burrow in the
wretched suburbs of one of the German cities nearest
the Russian border. Reams of correspondence ensued
all to no purpose; a special messenger was sent to in-
fluence them all in vain: they persisted in living just as
near Russia as possible, and in calling themselves Ameri-
can, though not one of them spoke English.

From time to time appeared in our own country attacks


against the various American embassies and legations
abroad for not protecting such American citizens, and a
very common feature of these articles was an unfavorable
comparison between the United States and England: it
being claimed that Great Britain protects her citizens
everywhere, while the United States does not. This state-
ment is most misleading. Great Britain, while she is re-
nowned for protecting her subjects throughout the world,
bringing the resources of her fleet, if need be, to aid
them, makes an exception as regards her adopted citizens
in the land of their birth. The person who, having been
naturalized in Great Britain, goes back to the country of
his birth, does so at his or her own risk. The British
Government considers itself, under such circumstances,
entirely absolved from the duty of giving protection. The
simple fact is that the United States goes much further
in protecting adopted citizens than does any other coun-
try, and it is only rank demagogism which can find fault
because some of our thinking statesmen do not wish to
see American citizenship prostituted by persons utterly
unfit to receive it, who frequently use it fraudulently, and
who, as many cases prove, are quite ready to renounce it
and take up their old allegiance if they can gain advantage

Another general duty of the embassy was to smooth
the way for the large number of young men and women
who came over as students. This duty was especially
pleasing to me now, as it had been during my life as
minister in Berlin twenty years before. At that time wo-
men were not admitted to the universities ; but now large
numbers were in attendance. The university author-
ities showed themselves very courteous, and, when there
was any doubt as to the standing of the institution from
which a candidate for admission came, allowed me to pass
upon the question and accepted my certificate. Almost
without exception, I found these candidates excellent ; but
there were some exceptions. The applicants were usually
persons who had been graduated from some one of our


own institutions ; but, from time to time, persons who had
merely passed a freshman year in some little American
college came abroad, anxious to secure the glory of going
at once into a German university. Certificates for such
candidates I declined to sign. To do so would have been
an abuse sure to lead the German authorities finally to
reject the great mass of American students : far better for
applicants to secure the best advantages possible in their
own country, and then to supplement their study at home
by proper work abroad.

In sketches of my former mission to Berlin I have men-
tioned various applications, some of them psychological
curiosities; these I found continuing, though with varia-
tions. Some compatriots expected me to forward to the
Emperor begging letters, or letters suggesting to him new
ideas, unaware that myriads of such letters are constantly
sent which never reach him, and which even his secre-
taries never think of reading. Others sent books, not
knowing the rule prevailing among crowned heads, never
to accept a published book, and not realizing that if
this rule were broken, not one book in a thousand would
get beyond the office of his general secretary. Others sent
medicine which they wished him to recommend; and one
gentleman was very persistent in endeavoring to secure
his Majesty's decision on a wager.

Then there were singers or performers on wind or
string instruments wishing to sing or play before him,
sculptors and painters wishing him to visit their studios,
and writers of music wishing him to order their composi-
tions to be brought out at the Royal Opera.

All these requests culminated in two, wherein the gen-
tle reader will see a mixture of comic and pathetic. The
first was from a person (not an American) who wished
my good offices in enabling her to obtain a commission
for a brilliant marriage, she having in reserve, as she
assured me, a real Italian duke whom, for a consideration,
she would secure for an American heiress. The other,
which was from an eminently respectable source, urged


me to induce the imperial authorities to station in the
United States a young German officer with whom an Ameri-
can young lady had fallen in love. And these proposals
I was expected to further, in spite of the fact that the
rules for American representatives abroad forbid all
special pleading of any kind in favor of individual in-
terests or enterprises, without special instructions from
the State Department. Discouraging was it to find that
in spite of the elaborate statement prepared by me dur-
ing my former residence, which had been freely circulated
during twenty years, there were still the usual number
of people persuaded that enormous fortunes were await-
ing them somewhere in Germany.

One application, from a truly disinterested man, was
grounded in nobler motives. This was an effort made
by an eminent Polish scholar and patriot to wrest Ameri-
can citizenship for political purposes. He had been an
instructor at various Russian and German universities,
had shown in some of his books extraordinary ability, had
gained the friendship of several eminent scholars in Great
Britain and on the Continent, and was finally settled at
one of the most influential seats of learning in Austrian
Poland. He was a most attractive man, wide in his know-
ledge, charming in his manner; but not of this world.
Having drawn crowds to his university lectures, he sud-
denly attacked the Emperor Franz Josef, who, more than
any other, had befriended his compatriots; was there-
fore obliged to flee from his post; and now came to Berlin,
proposing seriously that I should at once make him
an American citizen, and thus, as he supposed, enable
him to go back to his university and, in revolutionary
speeches, bid defiance to Austria, Russia, and Germany.
Great was his disappointment when he learned that, in
order to acquire citizenship, he would be obliged to go
to the United States and remain there five years. As he
was trying to nerve himself for this sacrifice, I presented
some serious considerations to him. Knowing him to
be a man of honor, I asked him how he could reconcile


it with his sense of veracity to assume the rights of
American citizenship with no intention to discharge its
duties. This somewhat startled him. Then, from a more
immediately practical point of view, I showed that, even
if he acquired American citizenship, and could reconcile
his conscience to break the virtual pledge he had made
in order to obtain it, the government of Austria, and,
indeed, all other governments, would still have a full right,
under the simplest principles of international law, to for-
bid his entrance into their territories, or to turn him out
after he had entered, the right of expelling undesirable
emigrants being constantly exercised, even by the United
States. This amazed him. He had absolutely persuaded
himself that I could, by some sleight of hand, transform
him into an American citizen ; that he could then at once
begin attempts to reestablish the fine old Polish anarchy
in Austria, Russia, and Germany ; and that no one of these
nations would dare interfere with him. It was absurd
but pathetic. My advice to him was to go back to his
lecture-room and labor to raise the character of the
younger generation of Poles, in the hope that Poland
might do what Scotland had done rise by sound mental
and moral training from the condition of a conquered and
even oppressed part of a great empire to a controlling
position in it. This advice was, of course, in vain, and
he is now building air-castles amid the fogs of London.

In my life at Berlin as ambassador there was a tinge
of sadness. Great changes had taken place since my stu-
dent days in that city, and even since my later stay as min-
ister. A new race of men had come upon the stage in
public affairs, in the university, and in literary circles.
Gone was the old Emperor William, gone also was the
Emperor Frederick, and Bismarck and Moltke and a host
of others who had given dignity and interest to the great
assemblages at the capital. Gone, too, from the univer-
sity were Lepsius, Helmholtz, Curtius, Hoffmann, Gneist,
Du Bois-Reymond, and Treitschke, all of whom, in the
old days, had been my guests and friends. The main ex-


ceptions seemed to be in the art world. The number of
my artist friends during my stay as minister had been
large, and every one of them was living when I returned as
ambassador; the reason, of course, being that when men
distinguish themselves in art at all, they do so at an earlier
age than do high functionaries of state and professors in
the universities. It was a great pleasure to find Adolf
Menzel, Ludwig Knaus, Carl Becker, Anton von Werner,
and Paul Meyerheim, though grown gray in their beauti-
ful ministry, still daily at work in their studios.

Three only of my friends of the older generation in
the Berlin faculty remained; and as I revise these lines
the world is laying tributes upon the grave of the last of
them Theodor Mommsen. With him my relations were
so peculiar that they may deserve some mention.

During my earlier stays in Berlin he had always seemed
especially friendly to the United States, and it was there-
fore with regret that on my return I found him in this
respect greatly changed : he had become a severe critic of
nearly everything American ; his earlier expectations had
evidently been disappointed; we clearly appeared to him
big, braggart, noisy, false to our principles, unworthy of
our opportunities. These feelings of his became even
more marked as the Spanish- American War drew on.
Whenever we met, and most often at a charming house
which both of us frequented, he showed himself more
and more bitter, so that finally our paths separated. There
comes back to me vividly one evening when I sought to
turn off a sharp comment of his upon some recent Ameri-
can news by saying: "You must give a young nation like
ours more time." On this he exclaimed: "You cannot
plead the baby act any longer. More time! You have
had time; you are already three hundred years old!"
Having sought in vain to impress on him the fact that
the policy of our country is determined not wholly by
the older elements in its civilization, but very largely by
newer commonwealths which must require time to de-
velop a policy satisfactory to sedate judges, he burst into



a tirade from which I took refuge in a totally different

Some days later came another evidence of his feeling.
Meeting an eminent leader in political, and especially in
journalistic, circles, I was shown the corrected proof-
sheets of an "interview" on the conduct of the United
States toward Spain, given by Mommsen. It was even
more acrid than his previous utterances, and exhibited
sharply and at great length our alleged sins and short-
comings. Certainly a representative of the American peo-
ple was not bound to make supplication, in such a matter,
even to so eminent a scholar and leader of thought, and
my comment was simply as follows : * ' I have no request
to make in the premises of Mommsen or of anybody.
The article will of course have no effect on the war; of
that there can be but one result : the triumph of the United
States and the liberation of the Spanish islands of the
West Indies; but may there not be some considerations
of a very different order as regards Mommsen himself?
Why not ask him, simply, where his friends are ; his read-
ers, his old students, his disciples f Why not ask him
whether he finds fewer clouds over the policy of Spain
than over that of the United States; of which country,
despite all its faults, he has most hope; and for which,
in his heart, he has the greater feeling of brotherhood ? ' '

How far this answer influenced him I know not, but
the article was never published; and thenceforth there
seemed some revival of the older kindly feeling. At my
own table and elsewhere he more than once became, in a
measure, like the Mommsen of old. One utterance of his
amused me much. My wife happening, in a talk with him,
to speak of a certain personage as "hardly an ideal man,"
he retorted: "Madam, is it possible that you have been
married some years and still believe in the ideal man?"

His old better feeling toward America came out espe-
cially when I next called upon him with congratulations
upon his birthday his last, alas! But heartiest of all
was he during the dinner given at my departure. My


speech was long, over an hour, for I had a message to
deliver, and was determined to give it a message which
I hoped might impress upon my great audience reasons
for a friendly judgment of my country. As I began,
Mommsen came to my side just back of me, his hand at
his ear, listening intently. There the old man stood from
the first word to the last, and on my conclusion he grasped
me heartily with both hands a demonstration rare indeed
with him. It was our last greeting in this world.

Would that there were space to dwell upon those in the
present generation of professors who honored me with
their friendship; but one is especially suggested here,
since he was selected to make a farewell address on the
occasion above referred to Adolf Harnack. At various
times I had heard him discourse profoundly and bril-
liantly at the university, but came to know him best at
the bicentenary of the Berlin Academy, when he had just
added to the long list of his published works his history of
the academy, in four quarto volumes : a wonderful work,
whether considered from an historical, psychological, or
philosophical point of view. His address on that occasion
was masterly, and his conversation at various social func-
tions instructive and pithy. I remember in one of them,
especially, his delineation of the characteristics and ser-
vices of Leibnitz, who was one of the founders of the Royal
Academy, and it was perfection in that kind of conversa-
tion which is worthy of men claiming to possess immor-
tal souls : for it brought out, especially, examples of Leib-
nitz 's amazing forethought as to European policy, which
seemed at times like divinely inspired prophecies. He
also gave me a number of interesting things which he had
noted in his studies of Frederick the Great. Some of them
I had found already in my own reading, but one of them
I did not remember, and it was both comical and charac-
teristic. A rural Protestant pastor sent a petition to the
King presenting a grievance and asking redress. It was
to the effect that his church was on one side of a river
in Silesia, and that a younger pastor, whose church was


on the opposite side, was drawing all his parishioners
away from him. On the back of the petition Frederick
simply wrote, "Tell him to go and preach on the other
side of the river : that will drive his people back again. ' '
Hearing Harnack and his leading colleagues in dis-
course at the university or academy, or in private, whe-
ther in their loftier or lighter moods, one could understand
why the University of Berlin, though one of the youngest,
is the foremost among the universities of the world.



AN interesting event of this period was the appearance
/"A in Berlin of ex-President and Mrs. Harrison. The
President had but recently finished his long and weari-
some work before the Venezuela Arbitration Tribunal
at Paris, and was very happy in the consciousness of duty
accomplished and liberty obtained. Marks of high dis-
tinction were shown them. The sovereigns invited them
to attend the festivities at Potsdam in honor of the Queen
and Queen Mother of Holland, who were then staying
there, and treated them not only with respect, but with cor-
diality. The Emperor conversed long with the President
on various matters of public interest : on noted Americans
whom he had met, on the growth of our fleet, on recent
events in our history, and the like, characteristically end-
ing with a discussion of the superb music which we had
been hearing; and at the supper which followed insisted
that Mrs. Harrison should sit at his side, the Empress
giving a similar invitation to Mr. Harrison. At a later
period a dinner was given to the ex-President by the
chancellor of the empire, Prince Hohenlohe, at which a
number of the leading personages in the empire were
present; and it was a pleasure to show my own respect
for the former chief magistrate by a reception which was
attended by about two hundred of our American colony,
and a dinner at which he and Mrs. Harrison made the ac-
quaintance of leading representative Germans in various



In another chapter of these memoirs I have spoken of
President Harrison as of cold and, at times, abrupt man-
ners; but the absence of these characteristics during his
stay in Berlin, and afterward in New York, made it clear
to me that the cold exterior which I had noted in him
at Washington, especially when Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Lodge,
and sundry others of us urged upon him an extension
of the classified civil service, was adopted as a means of
preventing encroachments upon the time necessary for
his daily duties. He now appeared in a very different
light, his discussion of men and events showing not only
earnest thought and deep penetration, but a rich vein of
humor ; his whole bearing being simple, kindly, and dig-

During the winter of 1899-1900 came an addition to
my experiences of what American representatives abroad
have to expect under our present happy-go-lucky provi-
sion for the diplomatic service. As already stated, on
arriving in Berlin, I had great difficulty in obtaining any
fitting quarters, but at last secured a large and suitable
apartment in an excellent part of the city, its only disad-
vantage being that my guests had to plod up seventy-five
steps in order to reach it. Having been obliged to make
large outlays for suitable fittings, extensive repairs, and
furniture throughout, I found that more than the entire
salary of my first year had been thus sunk; but I con-
gratulated myself that I had at least obtained a residence
good, comfortable, and suitable. To be sure, it was infe-

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 54)