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to go at considerable length into more or less minute
restrictions upon the conduct of invaders and invaded.
On the other side, M. Bernaert of Belgium, one of the
two most eminent men from that country, and others, take
the ground that it would be better to leave the whole
matter to the general development of humanity in in-
ternational law. M. de Martens insists that now is the
time to settle the matter, rather than leave it to indi-
viduals who, in time of war, are likely to be more or less
exasperated by accounts of atrocities and to have no
adequate time for deciding upon a policy. After consid-
erable discussion by our delegation, the whole matter
went over.

In the evening to a great reception at the house of
Sir Henry Howard, British minister at this court. It
was very brilliant, and the whole afforded an example
of John Bull's good sense in providing for his represen-
tatives abroad, and enabling them to exercise a social
influence on the communities where they are stationed,
which rapidly becomes a political influence with the
governments to which they are accredited. Sir Henry
is provided with a large, attractive house, means to enter-
tain amply, and has been kept in the service long enough
to know everybody and to become experienced in the
right way of getting at the men he wishes to influence,
and of doing the things his government needs to have
done. Throughout the whole world this is John Bull's
wise way of doing things. At every capital I have vis-
ited, including Washington, Constantinople, St. Peters-
burg, Eome, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, the British repre-
sentative is a man who has been selected with reference to
his fitness, kept in the service long enough to give him
useful experience, and provided with a good, commo-
dious house and the means to exercise social and, there-
fore, political influence. The result is that, although, in
every country in the world, orators and editors are al-
ways howling at John Bull, he everywhere has his way:


to use our vernacular, he "gets there," and can laugh
in his sleeve at the speeches against him in public bodies,
and at the diatribes against him in newspapers. The
men who are loudest in such attacks are generally the
most delighted to put their legs under the British am-
bassador's mahogany, or to take their daughters to his
receptions and balls, and then quietly to follow the gen-
eral line of conduct which he favors.

June 9.

In the morning an interesting visit from M. de Staal,
president of the conference. We discussed arbitration
plans, Brussels rules and Geneva rules, and, finally, our
social debts to the Dutch authorities.

As to the general prospects of arbitration, he expressed
the belief that we can, by amalgamating the British, Rus-
sian, and American plans, produce a good result.

During the day, many members of the conference hav-
ing gone to Rotterdam to see the welcoming of the Queen
in that city, I took up, with especial care, the Brussels
rules for the conduct of war, and the amendments of
them now proposed in the conference, some of which have
provoked considerable debate. The more I read the
proposals now made, the more admirable most of them
seem to be, and the more it seems to me that we ought,
with a few exceptions, to adopt them. Great Britain de-
clines to sanction them as part of international law, but
still agrees to adopt them as. a general basis for her con-
duct in time of war ; and even this would be a good thing
for us, if we cannot induce our government to go to the
length of making them fully binding.

At six o'clock Dr. Holls, who represents us upon the
subcommittee on arbitration, came in with most dis-
couraging news. It now appears that the German Em-
peror is determined to oppose the whole scheme of ar-
bitration, and will have nothing to do with any plan for
a regular tribunal, whether as given in the British or
the American scheme. This news comes from various


sources, and is confirmed by the fact that, in the subcom-
mittee, one of the German delegates, Professor Zorn
of Konigsberg, who had become very earnest in behalf
of arbitration, now says that he may not be able to vote
for it. There are also signs that the German Emperor
is influencing the minds of his allies the sovereigns of
Austria, Italy, Turkey, and Eoumania leading them to
oppose it.

Curiously enough, in spite of this, Count Nigra, the
Italian ambassador at Vienna and head of the Italian
delegation, made a vigorous speech showing the im-
portance of the work in which the committee is engaged,
urging that the plan be perfected, and seeming to indi-
cate that he will go on with the representatives who favor
it. This, coming from perhaps the most earnest ally of
Germany, is noteworthy.

At the close of the session Sir Julian Pauncefote
informed Dr. Holls that he was about to telegraph his
government regarding the undoubted efforts of the
German Emperor upon the sovereigns above named,
and I decided to cable our State Department, in-
forming them fully as to this change in the condition of

At eight went to the dinner of our minister, Mr. Newel,
and found there three ambassadors, De Staal, Miinster,
and Pauncefote, as well as M. Leon Bourgeois, president
of the French delegation; Sir Henry Howard, the Brit-
ish minister ; Baron de Bildt, the Swedish minister ; and
some leading Netherlands statesmen. Had a long talk
with M. de Staal and with Sir Julian Pauncefote regard-
ing the state of things revealed this afternoon in the
subcommittee on arbitration. M. de Staal has called a
meeting of the heads of delegations for Saturday after-
noon. Both he and Sir Julian are evidently much vexed
by the unfortunate turn things have taken. The latter
feels, as I do, that the only thing to be done is to go
on and make the plan for arbitration as perfect as pos-
sible, letting those of the powers who are willing to do


so sign it. I assured Mm and De Staal that we of
the United States would stand by them to the last in the

Late in the evening went to a reception of M. de Beau-
fort, the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs, and
discussed current matters with various people, among
them Count Nigra, whom I thanked for his eloquent
speech in the afternoon, and Baron de Bildt, who feels,
as I do, that the right thing for us is to go on, no mat-
ter who falls away.

June 10.

This morning I gave to studies of the various reports
sent in from the subcommittees, especially those on ar-
bitration and on the Brussels Conference rules. Both
have intensely interested me, my main attention being,
of course, centered on the former ; but the Brussels rules
seem to me of much greater importance now than at first,
and my hope is that we shall not only devise a good work-
ing plan of arbitration, but greatly humanize the laws
of war.

At four o'clock in the afternoon met the four other
ambassadors and two or three other heads of delegations,
at the rooms of M. de Staal, to discuss the question of
relaxing the rules of secrecy as regards the proceed-
ings of committees, etc. The whole original Russian
plan of maintaining absolute secrecy has collapsed, just
as the representatives from constitutional countries in
the beginning said it would. Every day there are pub-
lished minute accounts in Dutch, French, and English
journals which show that, in some way, their represen-
tatives obtain enough information to enable them, with
such additional things as they can imagine, to make read-
able reports. The result is that various gentlemen in
the conference who formerly favored a policy of com-
plete secrecy find themselves credited with speeches which
they did not make, and which they dislike to be considered
capable of making.


After a great deal of talk, it was decided to authorize
the chairman of each committee to give to the press com-
plete reports, so far as possible, keeping in the back-
ground the part taken by individuals.

At six the American delegation met, and the subject
of our instructions regarding the presentation of the
American view of the immunity of private property on
the high seas in time of war was taken up. It was de-
cided to ask some of the leading supporters of this view
to meet us at luncheon at 12.30 on Monday, in order to
discuss the best way of overcoming the Eussian plan of
suppressing the matter, and to concert means for getting
the whole subject before the full conference.

June 11.

Instead of going to hear the Bishop of Hereford preach
on " Peace," I walked with Dr. Holls to Scheveningen,
four miles, to work off a nervous headache and to invite
Count Miinster to our luncheon on Monday, when we
purpose to take counsel together regarding private prop-
erty on the high seas. He accepted, but was out of humor
with nearly all the proceedings of the conference. He is
more than ever opposed to arbitration, and declares that,
in view of the original Eussian programme under which
we were called to meet, we have no right to take it up at
all, since it was not mentioned. He was decidedly pessi-
mistic regarding the continuance of the sessions, asking
me when I thought it would all end ; and on my answering
that I had not the slightest idea, he said that he was
entirely in the dark on the subject; that nobody could
tell how, long it would last, or how it would break off.

June 12.

At half-past twelve came our American luncheon to
Count Miinster, Mr. van Karnebeek, and Baron de Bildt,
each of whom is at the head of his delegation, our pur-
pose being to discuss with them the best manner of get-
ting the subject of immunity of private property at sea,


not contraband, before the conference, these gentlemen
being especially devoted to such a measure.

All went off very well, full interchange of views took
place, and the general opinion was that the best way
would be for us, as the only delegation instructed on the
subject, to draw up a formal memorial asking that the
question be brought before the conference, and sending
this to M. de Staal as our president.

Curious things came out during our conversation.
Baron de Bildt informed me that, strongly as he favored
the measure, and prepared as he was to vote for it, 'he
should have to be very careful in discussing it publicly,
since his instructions were to avoid, just as far as pos-
sible, any clash between the opinions expressed by the
Swedish representatives and those of the great powers.
Never before have I so thoroughly realized the difficult
position which the lesser powers in Europe hold as re-
gards really serious questions.

More surprising was the conversation of Count Mini-
ster, he being on one side of me and Mr. van Karnebeek on
the other. Bearing in mind that the Emperor William,
during his long talk with me just before I left Berlin,
in referring to the approaching Peace Congress had said
that he was sending Count Minister because what the con-
ference would most need would be "common sense,"
and because, in his opinion, Count Minister had "lots of
it," some of the count's utterances astonished me. He
now came out, as he did the day before in his talk with
me, utterly against arbitration, declaring it a "humbug,"
and that we had no right to consider it, since it was not
mentioned in the first proposals from Eussia, etc., etc.

A little later, something having been said about tele-
graphs and telephones, he expressed his belief that they
are a curse as regards the relations between nations;
that they interfere with diplomacy, and do more harm
than good. This did not especially surprise me, for I
had heard the same opinions uttered by others ; but what
did surprise me greatly was to hear him say, when the


subject of bacteria and microbes was casually mentioned,
that they were "all a modern humbug. ' '

It is clear that, with all his fine qualities, and he is
really a splendid specimen of an old-fashioned German
nobleman devoted to the diplomatic service of his country,
he is saturated with the ideas of fifty years ago.

Eeturning from a drive to Scheveningen with Major
Burbank of the United States army, I sketched the first
part of a draft for a letter from our delegation to M. de
Staal, and at our meeting at six presented it, when it
met with general approval. President Low had also
sketched a draft which it was thought could be worked
very well into the one which I had offered, and so we
two were made a subcommittee to prepare the letter in

June 13.

This morning come more disquieting statements regard-
ing Germany. There seems no longer any doubt that
the German Emperor is opposing arbitration, and, in-
deed, the whole work of the conference, and that he will
insist on his main allies, Austria and Italy, going with
him. Count Nigra, who is personally devoted to arbitra-
tion, allowed this in talking with Dr. Holls ; and the Ger-
man delegates all of whom, with the exception of Count
Miinster, are favorably inclined to a good arbitration
plan show that they are disappointed.

I had learned from a high imperial official, before I
left Berlin, that the Emperor considered arbitration as
derogatory to his sovereignty, and I was also well aware,
from his conversation, that he was by no means in love
with the conference idea; but, in view of his speech at
Wiesbaden, and the petitions which had come in to him
from Bavaria, I had hoped that he had experienced a
"change of heart."

Possibly he might have changed his opinion had not
Count Miinster been here, reporting to him constantly
against every step taken by the conference.


There seems danger of a catastrophe. Those of us
who are faithful to arbitration plans will go on and do
the best we can; but there is no telling what stumbling-
blocks Germany and her allies may put in our way ; and,
of course, the whole result, without their final agreement,
will seem to the world a failure and, perhaps, a farce.

The immediate results will be that the Russian Em-
peror will become an idol of the ' ' plain people ' ' through-
out the world, the German Emperor will be bitterly hated,
and the socialists, who form the most dreaded party on
the continent of Europe, will be furnished with a thor-
oughly effective weapon against their rulers.

Some days since I said to a leading diplomatist here,
1 ' The ministers of the German Emperor ought to tell him
that, should he oppose arbitration, there will be concen-
trated upon him an amount of hatred which no minister
ought to allow a sovereign to incur." To this he an-
swered, * ' That is true ; but there is not a minister in Ger-
many who dares tell him."

June 14.

This noon our delegation gave a breakfast to sundry
members of the conference who are especially interested
in an effective plan of arbitration, the principal of these
being Count Nigra from Italy ; Count Welsersheimb, first
delegate of Austria; M. Descamps of Belgium; Baron
d'Estournelles of France; and M. Asser of the Nether-
lands. After some preliminary talk, I read to them the
proposal, which Sir Julian had handed me in the morning,
for the purpose of obviating the objection to the council
of administration in charge of the court of arbitration
here in The Hague, which was an important feature of
his original plan, but which had been generally rejected
as involving expensive machinery. His proposal now is
that, instead of a council specially appointed and sala-
ried to watch over and provide for the necessities of
the court, such council shall simply be made up of the
ministers of sundry powers residing here, thus doing


away entirely with the trouble and expense of a special

This I amended by adding the Netherlands minister of
foreign affairs as ex-officio president, there being various
reasons for this, and among these the fact that, without
some such provision, the Netherlands would have no
representative in the council.

The plan and my amendment were well received, and I
trust that our full and friendly discussion of these and
various matters connected with them will produce a good
effect in the committees.

Count Nigra expressed himself to me as personally
most earnestly in favor of arbitration, but it was clear
that his position was complicated by the relations of
his country to Germany as one of the Triple Alliance;
and the same difficulty was observable in the case of
Count Welsersheimb, the representative of Austria, the
third ally in the combination of which Germany is the

In the course of our breakfast, Baron d'Estournelles
made a statement which I think impressed every person
present. It was that, as he was leaving Paris, Jaures,
the famous socialist, whom he knows well, said to him,
"Go on ; do all you can at The Hague, but you will labor
in vain : you can accomplish nothing there, your schemes
will fail, and we shall triumph," or words to that effect.
So clear an indication as this of the effect which a fail-
ure of the conference to produce a good scheme of ar-
bitration will have in promoting the designs of the great
international socialist and anarchist combinations can-
not fail to impress every thinking man.

Dined in the evening with the French minister at this
court, and very pleasantly. There were present M. Leon
Bourgeois, the French first delegate, and the first dele-
gates from Japan, China, Mexico, and Turkey, with sub-
ordinate delegates from other countries. Sitting next
the lady at the right of the host, I found her to be the
wife of the premier, M. Piersoon, minister of finance, and


very agreeable. I took in to dinner Madame Behrends,
wife of the Russian charge, evidently a very thoughtful
and accomplished woman, who was born, as she told me,
of English parents in the city of New York when her fa-
ther and mother were on their way to England. I found
her very interesting, and her discussions of Russia, as
well as of England and the Netherlands, especially good.
In the smoking-room I had a long talk with M. Leon
Bourgeois, who, according to the papers, is likely to be
appointed minister of foreign affairs in the new French
cabinet. He dwelt upon the difficulties of any plan for
a tribunal, but seemed ready to do what he could for the
compromise plan, which is all that, during some time past,
we have hoped to adopt.

June 15.

Early this morning Count Miinster called, wishing to
see me especially, and at once plunged into the question
of the immunity of private property from seizure on the
high seas. He said that he had just received instructions
from his government to join us heartily in bringing
the question before the conference ; that his government,
much as it inclines to favor the principle, could not yet
see its way to commit itself fully ; that its action must, of
course, depend upon the conduct of other powers in the
matter, as foreshadowed by discussions in the conference,
but that he was to aid us in bringing it up.

I told him I was now preparing a draft of a memorial
to the conference giving the reasons why the subject
ought to be submitted, and that he should have it as soon
as completed.

This matter being for the time disposed of, we took
up the state of the arbitration question, and the con-
sequences of opposition by Germany and her two allies
to every feasible plan.

He was very much in earnest, and declared especially
against compulsory arbitration. To this I answered that
the plan thus far adopted contemplated entirely volun-


tary arbitration, with the exception that an obligatory
system was agreed upon as regards sundry petty matters
in which arbitration would assist all the states concerned ;
and that if he disliked this latter feature, but would
agree to the others, we would go with him in striking it
out, though we should vastly prefer to retain it.

He said, "Yes; you have already stricken out part of
it in the interest of the United States, ' ' referring to the
features concerning the Monroe Doctrine, the regulation
of canals, rivers, etc.

"Very true," I answered; "and if there are any spe-
cial features which affect unfavorably German policy or
interests, move to strike them out, and we will heartily
support you."

He then dwelt in his usual manner on his special hobby,
which is that modern nations are taking an entirely false
route in preventing the settlement of their difficulties by
trained diplomatists, and intrusting them to arbitra-
tion by men inexperienced in international matters, who
really cannot be unprejudiced or uninfluenced; and he
spoke with especial contempt of the plan for creating a
bureau, composed, as he said, of university professors
and the like, to carry on the machinery of the tribunal.

Here I happened to have a trump card. I showed
him Sir Julian Pauncefote's plan to substitute a council
composed of all the ministers of the signatory powers
residing at The Hague, with my amendment making the
Dutch minister of foreign affairs its president. This he
read and said he liked it; in fact, it seemed to remove a
mass of prejudice from his mind.

I then spoke very earnestly to him more so than ever
before about the present condition of affairs. I told
him that the counselors in whom the Emperor trusted-
such men as himself and the principal advisers of his
Majesty ought never to allow their young sovereign to
be exposed to the mass of hatred, obloquy, and oppo-
sition which would converge upon him from all nations
in case he became known to the whole world as the sov-


ereign who bad broken down the conference and brought
to naught the plan of arbitration. I took the liberty of
telling him what the Emperor said to me regarding the
count himself namely, that what the conference was
most likely to need .was good common sense, and that he
was sending Count Miinster because he possessed that.
This seemed to please him, and I then went on to say that
he of all men ought to prevent, by all means, placing
the young Emperor in such a position. I dwelt on the
gifts and graces of the young sovereign, expressed my
feeling of admiration for his noble ambitions, for his
abilities, for the statesmanship he had recently shown,
for his grasp of public affairs, and for his way of con-
ciliating all classes, and then dwelt on the pity of mak-
ing such a monarch an object of hatred in all parts of
the world.

He seemed impressed by this, but said the calling of
the conference was simply a political trick the most
detestable trick ever practised. It was done, he said,
mainly to embarrass Germany, to glorify the young Rus-
sian Emperor, and to put Germany and nations which
Russia dislikes into a false position. To this I an-
swered, "If this be the case, why not trump the Russian
trick ? or, as the poker-players say, l Go them one better, '
take them at their word, support a good tribunal of arbi-
tration more efficient even than the Russians have dared
to propose; let your sovereign throw himself heartily
into the movement and become a recognized leader and
power here; we will all support him, and to him will
come the credit of it.

"Then, in addition to this, support us as far as you
can as regards the immunity of private property on the
high seas, and thus you will gain another great point;
for, owing to her relations to France, Russia has not
dared commit herself to this principle as otherwise she
doubtless would have done, but, on the contrary, has
opposed any consideration of it by the conference.

"Next, let attention be called to the fact and we will


gladly aid in making the world fully aware of it that
Germany, through you, has constantly urged the great-
est publicity of our proceedings, while certain other
powers have insisted on secrecy until secrecy has utterly
broken down, and then have made the least concession
possible. In this way you will come out of the confer-
ence triumphant, and the German Emperor will be looked
upon as, after all, the arbiter of Europe. Everybody
knows that France has never wished arbitration, and
that Russian statesmen are really, at heart, none too ar-
dent for it. Come forward, then, and make the matter
thoroughly your own; and, having done this, maintain
your present attitude strongly as regards the two other

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 54)