Andrew Dickson White.

Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) online

. (page 25 of 54)
Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the clash between the original instructions and the Mon-
roe Doctrine. I was very reluctant to send the despatch ;
but, on the whole, it seemed best, and it was adopted

In the afternoon, at five, the presidents of all the dele-


gallons went to the palace, by appointment, and were pre-
sented to the young Queen and to the Queen-mother. The
former is exceedingly modest, pretty, and pleasant; and
as she came into the room, about which were ranged that
line of solemn, elderly men, it seemed almost pathetic.
She was evidently timid, and it was, at first, hard work
for her ; but she got along well with Count Minister, and
when she came to me I soon brought the conversation
upon the subject of the " House in the Wood" by thank-
ing her for the pains her government had taken in pro-
viding so beautiful a place for us. This new topic seemed
to please her, and we had quite a long talk upon it ; she
speaking of her visits to the park, for skating and the
like, and I dwelling on the beauty of the works of art and
the views in the park. Then the delegates, going to the
apartments of the Queen-mother, went through a similar
formality with her. She is very stout, but fine-looking,
with a kindly face and manner. Both mother and daugh-
ter spoke, with perfect ease, Dutch, French, German,
English, and how many other languages I know not. The
young Queen was very simply dressed, like any other
young lady of seventeen, except that she had a triple
row of large pearls about her neck. In the evening, at
9.30, the entire delegations were received at a great
presentation and ball. The music was very fine, but the
most interesting thing to me was the fact that, as the
palace was built under Louis Bonaparte and Hortense,
the main rooms were in the most thoroughgoing style
Empire, not only in their decorations, but in their fur-
niture and accessories, clocks, vases, candelabra, and
the like. I have never seen that style, formerly so de-
spised, but now so fashionable, developed as fully.

After the presentation I met Sir John Fisher, one of
the English delegates, an admiral in the British navy, and
found him very intelligent. He said that he was thor-
oughly for peace, and had every reason to be so, since
he knew something of the horrors of war. It appears
that in one of the recent struggles in China he went


ashore with eleven hundred men and returned with only
about five hundred ; but, to my regret, I found him using
the same argument as regards the sea that Count Miinster
had made regarding the land. He said that the navy
of Great Britain was and would remain in a state of com-
plete preparation for war ; that a vast deal depended on
prompt action by the navy ; and that the truce afforded by
arbitration proceedings would give other powers time,
which they would otherwise not have, to put themselves
into complete readiness. He seemed uncertain whether
it was best for Great Britain, under these circumstances,
to support a thoroughgoing plan of arbitration; but,
on the whole, seemed inclined to try it to some extent.
Clearly what Great Britain wants is a permanent system
of arbitration with the United States; but she does not
care much, I think, for such a provision as regards other

There is considerable curiosity among leading mem-
bers to know what the United States really intends to do ;
and during the day Sir Julian Pauncef ote and others have
called to talk over the general subject.

The London "Times" gives quite correctly a conver-
sation of mine, of rather an optimistic nature, as to the
possibilities and probabilities of arbitration, and the im-
provement of the customs of war ; but in another quarter
matters have not gone so well : the ' ' Corriere della Sera ' '
of Milan publishes a circumstantial interview with me,
which has been copied extensively in the European press,
to the effect that I have declared my belief in the adoption
of compulsory arbitration and disarmament. This is a
grotesque misstatement. I have never dreamed of say-
ing anything of the kind ; in fact, have constantly said the
contrary; and, what is more, I have never been inter-
viewed by the correspondent of that or of any other Con-
tinental paper.



May 25.

THIS morning a leading delegate of one of the great
European powers called and gave me a very inter-
esting account of the situation as he sees it.

He stated that the Russian representatives, on arriv-
ing here, gave out that they were not prepared with any
plan for a definite tribunal of arbitration ; but that shortly
afterward there appeared some discrepancy on this point
between the statements of the various members of their
delegation; and that they now propose a system of ar-
bitration, mediation, and examination into any cause of
difficulty between nations.

In the evening our secretary spoke of the matter to
M. de Staal, the president of the Russian delegation and
of the conference, and was told that this plan would,
within a day or two, be printed and laid before the whole

This is a favorable sign. More and more it looks as
if the great majority of us are beginning to see the ne-
cessity of some scheme of arbitration embracing a court
and definite, well-contrived accessories.

The above-mentioned discrepancy between various
statements of the Russians leads me to think that what
Count Miinstei told me some days since may have some
truth in it namely, that Pobedonostzeff, whom I knew
well, when minister to Russia, as the strongest man on



moral, religious, and social questions in that country, is
really the author of the documents that were originally
given to the world as emanating from the Russian For-
eign Office, and that he has now added to them this definite
scheme for arbitration. Remembering our old conversa-
tions, in which he dwelt upon the great need of money
in order to increase the stipends of the Russian clergy,
and so improve their moral as well as religious condition,
I can understand easily that he may have greatly at heart
a plan which would save a portion of the enormous
expenditure of Russia on war, and enable him to do
more for the improvement of the church.

Dined at the British legation with the minister, my
old friend of St. Petersburg days, Sir Henry Howard,
De Martens, the real head of the Russian delegation, be-
ing of the party, and had a long talk with the latter about
Russia and Russians. He told me that Pobedonostzeff
is now becoming old and infirm, and it appears that there
has been a sort of cleaning out of the Foreign Office and
the Ministry of the Interior a procedure which was cer-
tainly needed in my time.

Later in the evening we went to a reception by Baron
van Hardenbroek, the grand chamberlain, where I met
various interesting persons, especially M. Descamps, the
eminent Belgian delegate, who, in the fervor of his speech
yesterday morning, upset his inkstand and lavished its
contents on his neighbors. He is a devotee of arbitration,
and is preparing a summary for the committee intrusted
with that subject. There seemed to be, in discussing the
matter with various delegates at this reception, a gen-
eral feeling of encouragement.

During the day Mr. Loeher, a Berlin sculptor, called,
and carried me off to see his plan of a great statue of
" Peace" which he hopes to induce the Emperor Nicholas
to erect in Paris. It seems to me well conceived, all ex-
cept the main figure, which I could not induce myself to
like. In the anxiety of the sculptor to avoid any more
female figures, and to embody virile aspirations for peace,


he has placed this main figure at the summit of the monu-
ment in something like a long pea-jacket, with an insuffi-
cient mantle at the back, and a crown upon its head.

The number of people with plans, schemes, notions, nos-
trums, whimsies of all sorts, who press upon us and try
to take our time, is enormous ; and when to this is added
the pest of interviewers and photographers, life becomes
serious indeed.

May 26.

At two the committee on arbitration met, and, as it
is the largest of all, its session was held in the main hall
under the dome. The Russian plan was presented, and
was found to embrace three distinct features :

First, elements of a plan of mediation ; secondly, a plan
for international arbitration ; thirdly, a plan for the inter-
national examination of questions arising between pow-
ers, such examination being conducted by persons chosen
by each of the contestants. This last is a new feature,
and is known as a commission Internationale d'enquete.

The project for a plan of arbitration submits a number
of minor matters to compulsory arbitration, but the main
mass of differences to voluntary arbitration.

But there was no definite proposal for a tribunal, and
there was an evident feeling of disappointment, which
was presently voiced by Sir Julian Pauncefote, who, in
the sort of plain, dogged way of a man who does not
purpose to lose what he came for, presented a resolution
looking definitely to the establishment, here and now, of
an international tribunal of arbitration. After some dis-
cussion, the whole was referred to a subcommittee, to
put this and any other proposals submitted into shape
for discussion by the main committee. In the course of
the morning the American delegation received an answer
to its telegram to the State Department, which was all
that could be desired, since it left us virtually free to take
the course which circumstances might authorize, in view
of the main object to be attained. But it came too late to


enable us to elaborate a plan for the meeting above re-
ferred to, and I obtained permission from the president,
M. Leon Bourgeois, to defer the presentation of our
scheme until about the middle of next week.

Just before the session of the main committee, at which
the Russian plan was received, I had a long and very
interesting talk with Mr. van Karnebeek, one of the lead-
ing statesmen of the Netherlands, a former minister of
foreign affairs, and the present chief of the Dutch delega-
tion in the conference. He seems clear-headed and far-
sighted, and his belief is that the conference will really
do something of value for arbitration. He says that men
who arrived here apparently indifferent have now be-
come interested, and that amour propre, if nothing else,
will lead them to elaborate something likely to be useful.
He went at considerable length into the value of an inter-
national tribunal, even if it does nothing more than keep
nations mindful of the fact that there is some way, other
than war, of settling disputes.

A delegate also informed me that in talking with M.
de Staal the latter declared that in his opinion the pres-
ent conference is only the first of a series, and that it is
quite likely that another will be held next winter or next

In the evening I made the acquaintance of Mr. Mar-
shall, a newspaper correspondent, who is here prepar-
ing some magazine articles on The Hague and the con-
ference. He is a very interesting man on various
accounts, and especially at present, since he has but just
returned from the Cuban campaign, where he was fear-
fully wounded, receiving two shots which carried away
parts of the vertebral column, a bullet being left in his
body. He seems very cheerful, though obliged to get
about on crutches.

May 27.

In the morning, calls from various people urging all
kinds of schemes for arbitration and various other good


things for the human race, including considerable ad-
vantages, in many cases, for themselves.

Best of all, by far, was John Bellows of Gloucester, our
old Quaker friend at St. Petersburg, whom I was exceed-
ingly glad to take by the hand : he, at least, is a thoroughly
good man sincere, honest, earnest, and blessed with good

The number of documents, printed and written, com-
ing in upon us is still enormous. Many are virtually ser-
mons displaying the evils of war, the blessings of peace,
and the necessity of falling back upon the Bible. Con-
sidering the fact that our earlier sacred books indicate
approval by the Almighty of some of the most blood-
thirsty peoples and most cruel wars ever known, such a
recommendation seems lacking in "actuality.'*

This morning we had another visit from Sir Julian
Pauncefote, president of the British delegation, and dis-
cussed with him an amalgamation of the Russian, British,
and American proposals for an arbitration tribunal. He
finds himself, as we all do, agreeably surprised by the
Russian document, which, inadequate as it is, shows
ability in devising a permanent scheme both for media-
tion and arbitration.

During the day President Low, who had been asked by
our delegation to bring the various proposals agreed
to by us into definite shape, made his report ; it was thor-
oughly well done, and, with some slight changes, was
adopted as the basis for our final project of an arbitration
scheme. We are all to meet on Monday, the 29th, for a
study of it.

In the evening to the concert given to the conference by
the burgomaster and city council. It was very fine, and
the audience was large and brilliant. There was music
by Tschaikovsky, Grieg, and Wagner, some of which was
good, but most of it seemed to me noisy and tending no-
whither ; happily, in the midst of it came two noble pieces,
one by Beethoven and the other by Mozart, which gave
a delightful relief.



May 28.

Drove with Dr. Holls to Delft, five miles, and attended
service at the "New Church." The building was noble,
but the service seemed very crude and dismal, nearly the
whole of it consisting of two long sermons separated by
hymns, and all unspeakably dreary.

Afterward we saw the tombs of William of Orange and
Grotius, and they stirred many thoughts. I visited them
first nearly forty years ago, with three persons very dear
to me, all of whom are now passed away. More than ever
it is clear to me that of all books ever written not claim-
ing divine inspiration the great work of Grotius on
"War and Peace" has been of most benefit to mankind.
Our work here, at the end of the nineteenth century, is
the direct result of his, at the beginning of the seven-

Afterward to the Prinzenhof, visiting the place where
William of Orange was assassinated. Was glad to see
the new statue of Grotius in front of the church where
he lies buried.

May 29.

In the morning President Low and myself walked, and
talked over various proposals for arbitration, especially
our own. It looks much as if we can amalgamate the Rus-
sian, British, and original American plans into a good
arrangement for a tribunal. We also discussed a scheme
for the selection, by disagreeing nations, of "seconding
powers, ' ' who, before the beginning of hostilities, or even
after, shall attempt to settle difficulties between powers,
or, if unsuccessful, to stop them as soon after war begins
as the honor of the nations concerned may allow. The
Germans greatly favor this plan, since it resembles their
tribunal of honor (Ehrengericht) ; it was originally sug-
gested to us by our secretary, Dr. Holls.

In the evening, at six, the American delegation met.
We had before us type-written copies of our whole ar-
bitration project as elaborated in our previous sessions,


and sundry changes having been made, most of them ver-
bal, the whole, after considerable discussion, was adopted.

At ten I left, via Hook of Holland and Harwich, for
London, arriving about ten the next morning, and attend-
ing to various matters of business. It was fortunate for
me that I could have for this purpose an almost complete
lull in our proceedings, the first and second committees of
the conference being at work on technical matters, and the
third not meeting until next Monday.

In the evening I went to the Lyceum Theatre, saw
Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in Sardou 's "Robes-
pierre," and for the first time in my life was woefully dis-
appointed in them. The play is wretchedly conceived,
and it amazes me that Sardou, who wrote * ' Thermidor, ' '
which is as admirable as "Robespierre" is miserable,
could ever have attached his name to such a piece.

For the wretchedness of its form there is, no doubt,
some excuse in the fact that it has been done into English,
and doubtless cut, pieced, and altered to suit the Lyceum
audiences; but when one compares the conspiracy part
of it with a properly conceived drama in which a con-
spiracy is developed, like Schiller's "Fiesco," the dif-
ference is enormously in favor of the latter. As literature
the play in its English dress is below contempt.

As to its historical contents, Sardou resorts to an ex-
pedient which, although quite French in its character,
brings the whole thing down to a lower level than any-
thing in which I had ever seen Irving before. The center
of interest is a young royalist who, having been present
with his mother and sister at the roll-call of the con-
demned and the harrowing scenes resulting therefrom,
rushes forth, determined to assassinate Robespierre, but
is discovered by the latter to be his long-lost illegitimate
son, and then occur a series of mystifications suited only
to the lowest boulevard melodrama.

As to the action of the piece, the only thing that showed
Irving 's great ability was the scene in the forest of
Montmorency, where, as Robespierre, he reveals at one


moment, in his talk with the English envoy, his ambition,
his overestimate of himself, his suspicion of everybody
and everything, his willingness to be cruel to any extent
in order to baffle possible enemies ; and then, next moment,
on the arrival of his young friends, boys and girls, the
sentimental, Rousseau side of his character. This transi-
tion was very striking. The changes in the expression
of Irving 's face were marvelous as wonderful as those
in his Louis XI ; but that was very nearly all. In every-
thing else, Coquelin, as I had seen him in Sardou's
1 ' Thermidor, ' ' was infinitely better.

Besides this, the piece was, in general, grotesquely un-
historical. It exhibits Robespierre's colleagues in the
Committee of Public Safety as noisy and dirty street
blackguards. Now, bad as they were, they were not at all
of that species, nor did their deliberations take place in
the manner depicted. Billaud-Varennes is represented
as a drunken vagabond sitting on a table at the com-
mittee and declaiming. He was not this at all, nor was
Tallien, vile as he was, anything like the blackguard
shown in this piece.

The final scene, in which Robespierre is brought under
accusation by the Convention, was vastly inferior to the
same thing in " Thermidor " ; and, what was worse, in-
stead of paraphrasing or translating the speeches of Bil-
laud-Varennes, Tallien, and Robespierre, which he might
have found in the ' * Moniteur, ' ' Sardou, or rather Irving,
makes the leading characters yell harangues very much
of the sort which would be made in a meeting of drunken
dock laborers to-day. Irving 's part in this was not at
all well done. The unhistorical details now came thick
and fast, among them his putting his head down on
the table of the tribune as a sign of exhaustion, and
then, at the close, shooting himself in front of the tribunal.
If he did shoot himself, which is doubtful, it was neither
at that time nor in that place.

But, worst of all, the character of Robespierre was
made far too melodramatic, and was utterly unworthy of


Irving, whom, in all his other pieces, I have vastly ad-
mired. He completely misconceives his hero. Instead of
representing him as, from first to last, a shallow Rousseau
sentimentalist, with the proper mixture of vanity, sus-
picion, and cruelty, he puts into him a great deal too much
of the ruffian, which was not at all in Robespierre 's char-

The most striking scene in the whole was the roll-call
at the prison. This was perhaps better than that in Sar-
dou's * ' Thermidor, " and the tableaux were decidedly

The scene at the "Festival of the Supreme Being"
was also very striking, and in many respects historical;
but, unless I am greatly mistaken, the performance re-
ferred to did not take place as represented, but in the
garden directly in front of the Tuileries. The family
scene at the house of Duplay the carpenter was exceed-
ingly well managed ; old Duplay, smoking his pipe, listen-
ing to his daughters playing on a spinet and singing
sentimental songs of the Rousseau period, was perfect.
The old carpenter and his family evidently felt that the
golden age had at last arrived ; that humanity was at the
end of its troubles ; and that the world was indebted for
it all to their lodger Robespierre, who sat in the midst
of them reading, writing, and enjoying the coddling and
applause lavished upon him. And he and they were to
go to the guillotine within a week !

Incidentally there came a little touch worthy of Sardou ;
for, as Robespierre reads his letters, he finds one from
his brother, in which he speaks of a young soldier and
revolutionist of ability whose acquaintance he has just
made, whom he very much likes, and whose republicanism
he thoroughly indorses one Buonaparte. This might
have occurred, and very likely did occur, very much as
shown on the stage ; for one of the charges which nearly
cost Bonaparte his life on the Ninth Thermidor was that
he was on friendly terms with the younger Robespierre,
who was executed with his more famous brother.


On the whole, the play was very disappointing. It
would certainly have been hissed at the Porte St. Martin,
and probably at any other Paris theater.

June 1.

Having left London last evening, I arrived at The
Hague early this morning and found, to my great satis-
faction, that the subcommittee of the third committee
had unanimously adopted the American plan of * * second-
ing powers, ' ' and that our whole general plan of arbitra-
tion will be to-day in print and translated into French
for presentation. I also find that Sir Julian Pauncefote's
arbitration project has admirable points.

The first article in Sir Julian's proposal states that,
with the desire to facilitate immediate recourse to arbi-
tration by nations which may fail to adjust by diplomatic
negotiations differences arising between them, the sig-
natory powers agree to organize a permanent tribunal
of international arbitration, accessible at all times, to
be governed by a code, provided by this conference, so
far as applicable and consistent with any special stipula-
tions agreed to between the contesting parties.

Its second provision is the establishment of a perma-
nent central office, where the records of the tribunal shall
be preserved and its official business transacted, with a
permanent secretary, archivist, and suitable staff, who
shall reside on the spot. This office shall make arrange-
ments for the assembling of the tribunal, at the request of
contesting parties.

Its third provision is that each of the signatory powers
shall transmit the names of two persons who shall be rec-
ognized in their own country as jurists or publicists of
high character and fitness, and who shall be qualified
to act as judges. These persons shall be members of
the tribunal, and a list of their names shall be recorded
in the central office. In case of death or retirement of
any one of these, the vacancy shall be filled up by new


Its fourth provision is that any of the signatory powers
desiring to have recourse to the tribunal for the settle-
ment of differences shall make known such desire to the
secretary of the central office, who shall thereupon furnish
the powers concerned with a list of the members of the
tribunal, from which such powers may select such num-
ber of judges as they may think best. The powers con-
cerned may also, if they think fit, adjoin to these judges
any other person, although his name may not appear on
the list. The persons so selected shall constitute the
tribunal for the purpose of such arbitration, and shall
assemble at such date as may be most convenient for the

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 54)