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namely, those relating to arbitration, to the extension of
the Geneva rules, and to the laws and customs of war.
We voted to sign the first, to send the second to Washing-
ton without recommendation, and to send the third with
a recommendation that it be there signed. The reason
for sending the second to Washington without recom-
mendation is that Captain Mahan feels that, in its
present condition, it may bring on worse evils than it
prevents. He especially and, I think, justly objects to
allowing neutral hospital ships to take on board the
wounded and shipwrecked in a naval action, with power
to throw around them the safeguards of neutrality and
carry them off to a neutral port whence they can again
regain their own homes and resume their status as com-

The reason for submitting the third to Washington,
with a recommendation to sign it there, is that consider-
able work will be required in conforming our laws of
war to the standard proposed by the conference, and that
it is best that the Washington authorities look it over

I was very anxious to sign all three conventions, but
the first is the great one, and I yielded my views on the
last two.

The powers are to have until the 31st of December, if
they wish it, before signing.

July 27.

Early in the morning to a meeting of our American
delegation, Mr. van Karnebeek being present. We
agreed to sign the arbitration convention, attaching to
our signatures a reservation embodying our declaration
of July 25 regarding the maintenance of our American
policy the Monroe Doctrine. A telegram was received
from the State Department approving of this declaration.

The imbroglio regarding the forcing of the Pope into
the midst of the signatory powers continues. The ul-
tramontanes are pushing on various delegates, especially


sundry Austrians and Belgians, who depend on clerical
support for their political existence, and, in some
cases, for their daily bread; and the result is that M.
Descamps, one of the most eminent international lawyers
in Europe, who has rendered great services during the
conference, but who holds a professorship at the Univer-
sity of Louvain, and can hold it not one moment longer
than the Jesuits allow him, is making a great display of
feeling on the subject. Italy, of course, continues to take
the strongest ground against the proposal to admit his
Holiness as an Italian sovereign.

Our position is, as was well stated in the great com-
mittee by Mr. Low, that the contracting parties must all
consent before a new party can come in; and this under
one of the simplest principles of law. We ought also
to add that any power thus admitted shall not only con-
sent to arbitrate on others, but to be arbitrated upon.
This, of course, the Vatican monsignori will never do.
They would see all Europe deluged in blood before they
would submit the pettiest question between the kingdom of
Italy and themselves to arbitration by lay powers. All
other things are held by them utterly subordinate to the
restoration of the Pope's temporal power, though they
must know that if it were restored to him to-morrow he
could not hold it. He would be overthrown by a revolu-
tion within a month, even with all the troops which
France or Austria could send to support him; and then
we should have the old miserable state of things again
in Italy, with bloodshed, oppression, and exactions such
as took place throughout the first half of this century,
and, indeed, while I was in Italy, under the old papal
authority, in 1856.

In the afternoon to the "House in the Wood" to go
over documents preliminary to signing the * ' Final Act. ' '

July 28.

In the afternoon in plenary session of the conference,
hearing the final reports as to forms of signing, etc.


To-day appears in the London " Times" the interview
which its correspondent had with me yesterday. It de-
velops the reasons for our declaration, and seems to give
general satisfaction. Sir Julian Pauncefote told Holls
that he liked it much.

The committee on forms of the "Final Act," etc., has at
last, under pressure of all sorts, agreed that the question
of admitting non-signatory powers shall be decided by
the signatory powers, hereafter, through the ordinary
medium of diplomatic correspondence. This is unfor-
tunate for some of the South American republics, but it
will probably in some way inure to the benefit of the
Vatican monsignori.

July 29.

The last and culminating day of the conference.

In the morning the entire body gathered in the great
hall of the "House in the Wood," and each delegation
was summoned thence to sign the protocol, conventions,
and declarations. These were laid out on a long table in
the dining-room of the palace, which is adorned with
very remarkable paintings of mythological subjects imi-
tating bas-reliefs.

All these documents had the places for each signa-
ture prepared beforehand, and our seals, in wax, already
placed upon the pages adjoining the place where each
signature was to be. At the request of the Foreign
Office authorities for my seal, I had sent a day or two
beforehand the seal ring which Goldwin Smith gave
me at the founding of Cornell University. It is an an-
cient carnelian intaglio which he obtained in Rome,
and bears upon its face, exquisitely engraved, a
Winged Victory. This seal I used during my entire con-
nection with Cornell University, and also as a member
of the Electoral College of the State of New York at
General Grant's second election, when, at the request
of the president of that body, Governor Woodford, it
was used in sealing certificates of the election, which were


sent, according to law, to certain high officials of our

I affixed my signature to the arbitration convention,
writing in, as agreed, the proviso that our signatures
were subject to the Monroe Doctrine declaration made
in open session of the conference on July 25. The other
members of the American delegation then signed in
proper order. But the two other conventions we left
unsigned. It was with deep regret that I turned away
from these; but the majority of the delegation had de-
creed it, and it was difficult to see what other course we
could pursue. I trust that the Washington authorities
will rectify the matter by signing them both.

We also affixed our signatures to the first of the "dec-
larations. ' '

At three P.M. came the formal closing of the conference.
M. de Steal made an excellent speech, as did Mr. van
Karnebeek and M. de Beaufort, the Netherlands minister
of foreign affairs. To these Count Minister, the presid-
ing delegate from Germany, replied in French, and ap-
parently extemporaneously. It must have been pain and
grief to him, for he was obliged to speak respectfully,
in the first place, of the conference, which for some weeks
he had affected to despise; and, secondly, of arbitration
and the other measures proposed, which, at least dur-
ing all the first part of the conference, he had denounced
as a trick and a humbug; and, finally, he had to speak
respectfully of M. de Staal, to whom he has steadily
shown decided dislike. He did the whole quite well,
all things considered; but showed his feelings clearly,
as regarded M. de Staal, by adding to praise of him
greater praise for Mr. van Karnebeek, who has been
the main managing man in the conference in behalf of
the Netherlands Government.

Then to the hotel and began work on the draft of a
report, regarding the whole work of the conference, to
the State Department. I was especially embarrassed by
the fact that the wording of it must be suited to the


scruples of my colleague, Captain Mahan. He is a man
of the highest character and of great ability, whom I re-
spect and greatly like ; but, as an old naval officer, wedded
to the views generally entertained by older members
of the naval and military service, he has had very little,
if any, sympathy with the main purposes of the confer-
ence, and has not hesitated to declare his disbelief in
some of the measures which we were especially instructed
to press. In his books he is on record against the im-
munity of private property at sea, and in drawing up
our memorial to the conference regarding this latter
matter, in making my speech with reference to it in the
conference, and in preparing our report to the State
Department, I have been embarrassed by this fact.
It was important to have unanimity, and it could not be
had, so far as he was concerned, without toning down
the whole thing, and, indeed, leaving out much that in
my judgment the documents emanating from us on the
subject ought to contain. So now, in regard to arbitra-
tion, as well as the other measures finally adopted, his
feelings must be considered. Still, his views have been
an excellent tonic; they have effectively prevented any
lapse into sentimentality. When he speaks the millen-
nium fades and this stern, severe, actual world appears.

I worked until late at night, and then went to Scheven-
ingen almost in despair.

July 30.

Eeturned to The Hague early in the morning, and
went on again with the report, working steadily through
the day upon it. For the first time in my life I have
thus made Sunday a day of work. Although I have no
conscientious scruples on the subject, it was bred into
me in my childhood and boyhood that Sunday should be
kept free from all manner of work; and so thoroughly
was this rule inculcated that I have borne it in mind
ever since, often resisting very pressing temptation to
depart from it.


But to-day there was no alternative, and the whole
time until five o'clock in the afternoon was given to
getting my draft ready.

At five P.M. the American delegation came together,
and, to my surprise, received my report with every
appearance of satisfaction. Mr. Low indicated some
places which, in his opinion, needed modification ; and to
this I heartily agreed, for they were generally places
where I was myself in doubt.

My draft having thus been presented, I turned it over
to Mr. Low, who agreed to bring it to-morrow morn-
ing with such modifications, omissions, and additions as
seemed best to him. The old proverb, * * 'T is always
darkest just before daylight," seems exemplified in the
affairs of to-day, since the kind reception given to my
draft of the report, and the satisfaction expressed re-
garding it, form a most happy and unexpected sequel to
my wretched distrust regarding the whole matter last

July 31.

The American delegation met at eleven in the morn-
ing and discussed my draft. Mr. Low's modifications and
additions were not many and were mainly good. But he
omitted some things which I would have preferred to
retain: these being in the nature of a plea in behalf of
arbitration, or, rather, an exhibition of the advantages
which have been secured for it by the conference; but,
between his doubts and Captain Mahan's opposition, I
did not care to contest the matter, and several pages were
left out.

At six in the afternoon came the last meeting of our
delegation. The reports, duly engrossed, namely, the
special reports, signed by Captain Mahan and Captain
Crozier, from the first and second committees of the con-
ference; the special report made by myself, Mr. Low,
and Dr. Holls as members of the third committee; and
the general report covering our whole work, drawn al-


.most entirely by me, but signed by all the members of
the commission, were presented, re-read, and signed,
after which the delegation adjourned, sine die.

August 1.

After some little preliminary work on matters con-
nected with the winding up of our commission, went with
my private secretary, Mr. Vickery, to Amsterdam, visit-
ing the old church, the palace, the Zoological Gardens, etc.
Thence to Gouda and saw the stained-glass windows in
the old church there, which I have so long desired to

August 3.

At 8.30 left The Hague and went by rail, via Cologne
and Ehrenbreitstein, to Homburg, arriving in the even-

August 5.

This morning resumed my duties as ambassador at

There was one proceeding at the final meeting of the
conference which I have omitted, but which really ought
to find a place in this diary. Just before the final
speeches, to the amazement of all and almost to the stu-
pefaction of many, the president, M. de Staal, handed to
the secretary, without comment, a paper which the latter
began to read. It turned out to be a correspondence
which had taken place, just before the conference, be-
tween the Queen of the Netherlands and the Pope.

The Queen's letter written, of course, by her minis-
ters, in the desire to placate the Catholic party, which
holds the balance of power in the Netherlands dwelt
most respectfully on the high functions of his Holiness,
etc., etc., indicating, if not saying, that it was not the fault
of her government that he was not invited to join in the

The answer from the Pope was a masterpiece of Vati-


can skill. In it he referred to what he claimed was his
natural position as a peacemaker on earth, dwelling
strongly on this point.

The reading of these papers was received in silence,
and not a word was publicly said afterward regarding
them, though in various quarters there was very deep
feeling. It was felt that the Dutch Government had taken
this means of forestalling local Dutch opposition, and
that it was a purely local matter of political partizanship
that ought never to have been intruded upon a confer-
ence of the whole world.

I had no feeling of this sort, for it seemed to me well
enough that the facts should be presented ; but a leading
representative of one of the great Catholic powers, who
drove home with us, was of a different mind. This
eminent diplomatist from one of the strongest Catholic
countries, and himself a Catholic, spoke in substance as
follows: "The Vatican has always been, and is to-day,
a storm-center. The Pope and his advisers have never
hesitated to urge on war, no matter how bloody, when the
slightest of their ordinary worldly purposes, could be
served by it. The great religious wars of Europe were
entirely stirred up and egged on by them; and, as
everybody knows, the Pope did everything to prevent
the signing of the treaty of Minister, which put an end
to the dreadful Thirty Years ' War, even going so far
as to declare the oaths taken by the plenipotentiaries at
that congress of no effect.

"All through the middle ages and at the Eenaissance
period the Popes kept Italy in turmoil and bloodshed for
their own family and territorial advantages, and they
kept all Europe in turmoil, for two centuries after the
Reformation, in fact, just as long as they could, in the
wars of religion. They did everything they could to stir
up the war between Austria and Prussia in 1866, thinking
that Austria, a Catholic power, was sure to win ; and then
everything possible to stir up the war of France against
Prussia in 1870 in order to accomplish the same pur-


pos'e of checking German Protestantism; and now they
are doing all they can to arouse hatred, even to deluge
Italy in blood, in the vain attempt to recover the temporal
power, though they must know that they could not hold
it for any length of time even if they should obtain it.

' ' They pretend to be anxious to * save souls, ' and espe-
cially to love Poland and Ireland; but they have for
years used those countries as mere pawns in their game
with Russia and Great Britain, and would sell every
Catholic soul they contain to the Greek and English
churches if they could thereby secure the active aid of
those two governments against Italy. They have obliged
the Italian youth to choose between patriotism and Chris-
tianity, and the result is that the best of these have become
atheists. Their whole policy is based on stirring up ha-
tred and promoting conflicts from which they hope to
draw worldly advantage.

"In view of all this, one stands amazed at the cool state-
ments of the Vatican letter."

These were the words of an eminent Roman Catholic
representative of a Roman Catholic power, and to them
I have nothing to add.

In looking back calmly over the proceedings of the
conference, I feel absolutely convinced that it has accom-
plished a great work for the world.

The mere assembling of such a body for such a purpose
was a distinct gain; but vastly more important is the
positive outcome of its labors.

First of these is the plan of arbitration. It provides
a court definitely constituted; a place of meeting easily
accessible; a council for summoning it always in session;
guarantees for perfect independence ; and a suitable pro-

Closely connected with this is the provision for "inter-
national commissions of inquiry," which cannot fail to
do much in clearing up issues likely to lead to war be-
tween nations. Thus we may hope, when there is danger
of war, for something better than that which the world


has hitherto heard the clamor of interested parties and
the shrieks of sensation newspapers. The natural result
will be, as in the Venezuelan difficulty between the United
States and Great Britain, that when a commission of this
sort has been set at work to ascertain the facts, the howl-
ing of partizans and screaming of sensation-mongers will
cease, and the finding of the commission be calmly

So, too, the plans adopted for mediation can hardly
fail to aid in keeping off war. The plans for ''special
mediation'* and " seconding powers," which emanated
entirely from the American delegation, and which were
adopted unanimously by the great committee and by the
conference, seem likely to prove in some cases an effec-
tive means of preventing hostilities, and even of arrest-
ing them after they have begun. Had it been in operation
during our recent war with Spain, it would probably have
closed it immediately after the loss of Cervera's fleet,
and would have saved many lives and much treasure.

Secondly, the extension of the Geneva rules, hitherto
adopted for war on land, to war also on the sea is a dis-
tinct gain in the cause of mercy.

Thirdly, the amelioration and more careful definition
of the laws of war must aid powerfully in that evolution
of mercy and right reason which has been going on for
hundreds of years, and especially since the great work
of Grotius.

In addition to these gains may well be mentioned the
declarations, expressions of opinion, and utterance of
wishes for continued study and persevering effort to
make the instrumentalities of war less cruel and de-

It has been said not infrequently that the conference
missed a great opportunity when it made the resort to
arbitration voluntary and not obligatory. Such an ob-
jection can come only from those who have never duly
considered the problem concerned. Obligatory arbitra-
tion between states is indeed possible in various petty


matters, but in many great matters absolutely impos-
sible. While a few nations were willing to accept it in
regard to these minor matters, as, for example, postal
or monetary difficulties and the like, not a single power
was willing to bind itself by a hard-and-fast rule to sub-
mit all questions to it and least of all the United States.
The reason is very simple: to do so would be to in-
crease the chances of war and to enlarge standing armies
throughout the world. Obligatory arbitration on all
questions would enable any power, at any moment, to
bring before the tribunal any other power against which
it has, or thinks it has, a grievance. Greece might thus
summon Turkey; France might summon Germany; the
Papacy, Italy; England, Russia; China, Japan; Spain,
the United States, regarding matters in which the deepest
of human feelings questions of religion, questions of
race, questions even of national existence are concerned.
To enforce the decisions of a tribunal in such cases would
require armies compared to which those of the present
day are a mere bagatelle, and plunge the world into a sea
of troubles compared to which those now existing are as
nothing. What has been done is to provide a way, always
ready and easily accessible, by which nations can settle
most of their difficulties with each other. Hitherto, secur-
ing a court of arbitration has involved first the education
of public opinion in two nations ; next, the action of two
national legislatures; then the making of a treaty; then
the careful selection of judges on both sides ; then delays
by the jurists thus chosen in disposing of engagements
and duties to which they are already pledged all these
matters requiring much labor and long time; and this
just when speedy action is most necessary to arrest the
development of international anger. Under the system
of arbitration now presented, the court can be brought
into session at short notice easily, as regards most na-
tions, within a few weeks, at the farthest. When to these
advantages are added the provisions for delaying war
and for improving the laws of war, the calm judgment of



mankind will, I fully believe, decide that the conference
has done a work of value to the world.

There is also another gain incidental, but of real and
permanent value; and this is the inevitable development
of the Law of Nations by the decisions of such a court
of arbitration composed of the most eminent jurists from
all countries. Thus far it has been evolved from the
writings of scholars often conflicting, from the decisions
of national courts biased by local patriotism, from the
practices of various powers, on land and sea, more in
obedience to their interests than to their sense of justice ;
but now we may hope for the growth of a great body of
international law under the best conditions possible, and
ever more and more in obedience to the great impulse
given by Grotius in the direction of right reason and



IN view of a connection with the diplomatic service
of the United States begun nearly fifty years ago
and resumed at various posts and periods since, I have
frequently been asked for my opinion of it, as compared
with that of other nations, and also what measures I
would suggest for its improvement. Hitherto this ques-
tion has somewhat embarrassed me: answering it fully
might have seemed to involve a plea for my own interests ;
so that, while I have pointed out, in public lectures and
in letters to men of influence, sundry improvements, I
have not hitherto thought it best to go fully into the

But what I now say will not see the light until my dip-
lomatic career is finished forever, and I may claim to
speak now for what seems to me the good of the service
and of the country. I shall make neither personal com-
plaint of the past nor personal plea for the future. As
to the past, my experience showed me years ago what
I had to expect if I continued in the service insufficient
salary, unfit quarters, inadequate means of discharging
my duties, and many other difficulties which ought not to
have existed, but which I knew to exist when I took office,
and of which I have therefore no right to complain. As
to the future, I can speak all the more clearly and ear-
nestly because even my enemies, if I have any, must con-
fess that nothing which is now to be done can inure to
my personal benefit.



As to the present condition, then, of our diplomatic
service, it seems to me a mixture of good and evil. It
is by no means so bad as it once was, and by no means
so good as it ought to be and as it could very easily be
made. There has been great improvement in it since
the days of the Civil War. The diplomatic service of no
other country, probably, was so disfigured by eminently
unworthy members as was our own during the quarter
of a century preceding the inauguration of President
Lincoln, and, indeed, during a part of the Lincoln admin-
istration itself.

During one presidential term previous to that time
our ministers at three of the most important centers
of Europe were making unedifying spectacles of them-
selves, whenever it was possible for them to do so, before

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 54)