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George von Lengerke Meyer. His Life and Public Services. By
M. A. De Wolfe Howe. (New York: Dodd, Mead and
Company. Pp. 519.)

In the preparation of this work, Mr. Howe has followed the golden
rule for biographers, by allowing his subject, so far as possible, to tell
his own story. Letters and diary entries in large measure make up
the five himdred pages of this substantial volume. They constitute
the record of an interesting, useful and busy life. It might be said of
Geoi^ Me3rer, as LoweU did of Josiah Quincy:

''This was in all ways a beautiful and fortimate life — fortimate in
the goods of this world — ^fortimate, above all, in the force of character
which makes fortune secondary and subservient.'/

Meyer was ''well bom," as the phrase goes. His father was a suc-
cessful merchant, of German descent. His mother was of pure New
England stock. He was graduated at Harvard University in 1879.
The life of a man of ease and fashion was open to him. He loved
sport. It IB said that he "first came into prominence on horseback."
But from early life his habits were industrious, and he was inspired
with the ideal of public service. During the first ten years after leav-
ing college, he devoted himself to business, and, as Mr. Howe says,
"he laid the foimdations of a well deserved reputation for sagacity and
acumen in business matters."

He entered public life in 1889, when he was elected a member of the
Boston common coimcil. In 1892, he became a member of the state
l^slature, and in 1895, he was chosen to be speaker of the house,

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a position which he held for three yeajs. His party interest and
activities made him a delegate to the Republican national convention
in 1900, and led to his appointment by President McKinley as ambas-
sador to Italy in December of that year, at the age of forty-two. Four
years in Rome, two years as ambassador to Russia, two years as post-
master-general in President Roosevelt's cabinet, and four years as
secretary of the navy imder President Taft; this is the outline of Meyer's
services in the national government. His diary and his letters contain
the record of these abundant years.

''It was rather as a 'listening post' in the European world than as a
station for difficult work in diplomacy," sa3rs Mr. Howe, "that Rome
gave Meyer his opportunities for valuable service during the four
years of his ambassadorship; and in establishing many relations of
intimacy and friendship, he was constantly turning the pleasant life
he led to valuable purposes of his own government."

He formed warm friendships with representative men and women
of all classes in Italy, and won the confidence of the government to
which he was accredited, as well as of his colleagues in the diplomatic
corps. During this period, he attended the yacht races at Kiel, where
he met and formed an acquaintance with the Emperor of Germany,
which later proved of value to him and to his country.

In January, 1905, President Roosevelt wrote to Meyer expressing
his intention of appointing him ambassador to Russia. "St. Peters-
burg," he said, "is at the moment, and bids fair to continue to be for at
least a year, the most important post in the diplomatic service, from
the standpoint of work to be done, and you come in the category of
public servants who desire to do public work, as distinguished from
those whose desire is merely to occupy public place — a class for whom
I have no particular respect."

The prologue to the great Russian tragedy was enacted a few days
before Meyer left Rome for his new post, when the Tsar refused to
receive from Father Gapon a petition on behalf of the workingmen of
Russia, and the troops fired upon the crowd, killing and wounding a
number of people. January 22, 1905, Meyer, noting this fact in his
diary, prophetically adds: "Probably the commencement of a revolu-
tion, and possible fate of the Tsar as ruler of Russia."

He elaborated his thought in a letter to the President: "The histor-
ical relations between the people and the Tsars explain how it was
possible that those unarmed Russians should have entertained the
hope that they would be permitted to see the Tsar in person and lay

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their petition at his feet. The pathetic trust the people have put in
the Tsar has failed them, and they have lost their blind faith in him,
and they are now ripe for socialistie agitations."

His observations concerning this incident illustrate Meyer's ability
correctly to interpret the significance of public events — a capacity
which served him well during his years of foreign service. His letters
and diary entries record in great detail his dealings with the Tsar, un-
der instructions from President Roosevelt, during the Portsmouth

Meyer's accoimts of the meeting of the first Duma in May, 1906,
the characteristics of its members, and the attitude of the Tsar and his
court towards them, clearly indicate the strength of the ciuxent which
was setting against the imperial government. Yet, he records:

"The court party appears to be laboring under the delusion that the
Dimia misrepresents the nation. They are apparently as blind to the
storm that is gathering as they were to the evidences which foretold a
naval defeat to Rodjestvensky. I cannot help but take a pessimistic
view as to the future, when I see evidences almost everywhere of a
communistic spirit among the workmen and peasants. Added to this
is the fact that the Government throughout the year has been driving
even the moderate element which are now unorganized, over to the
extremists The Tsar is stronger in ideals than in achieve-
ments. The education of the masses has been shamefully neglected.
The Jews have been persecuted and massacred. The bureaucracy is
corrupt and unpatriotic. There are no leaders on either side. The
revolutionists want capital punishment abolished, but freedom to use
the bomb."

This is the note of doom. The dhhouement was postponed longer
than Mr. Meyer apprehended. But the conditions which he noted
inevitably led to the collapse of government and the chaos which now
reigns in the Russian Empire.

From the picturesque and dramatic life of ambassador to Russia,
Mr. Mejrer was transferred in 1907 to the toilsome office of postmaster-
general in President Roosevelt's cabinet. He addressed himself to
his new work as to a business problem of first importance. The ability
he displayed in dealing with the problems of the post office department
led President Taft, in 1909, to appoint him secretary of the navy.
The navy department had suffered from having had six secretaries
during the seven years of Roosevelt's administration. After thorough
investigation and careful study, Meyer brought about a complete

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reorganization, resulting in increased efficiency and greatly reduced
cost. He reorganized the active fleet, placing it upon a war basis and
maintaining seventeen battleships at all times in cruising condition at
sea. He divided the business of the department into four parts, each
imder the supervision of a naval aid to the secretary.

The value of this work was quickly recognized. Admiral Sims
writes that ''Mr. Me3rer's great service to the Navy was that he placed
the control of the Navy, and particularly the control of the design of
all of our vessels, in the hands of line of&cers." That is, he put the
control of the navy as a fighting machine in the hands of those who
were to direct the fighting. He drew into close association with him
the most competent officers in the service. Towards the close of his
administration he told a friend that no other emplo3mient ever had
given him so much keen pleasure and inspiration as this.

During the unhappy controversy after the renomination of Mr.
Taft for the presidency in 1912, despite his love for Roosevelt, Meyer
remained loyal to T^t. He strongly entertained and indorsed the
opinion expressed in Senator Root's speech of announcement to the
President, "Your title to the nomination is as clear and unimpeach*
able as the title of any candidate of any party since political conven-
tions began."

The few years remaining to Meyer after he left public office in 1913
were full of interest. His letters describe two visits to E2urope. In
1913, he was the guest of the Kaiser on his yacht at Kiel, a visit de-
scribed at length in his diary. He was in Grermany in August, 1914, at
the outbreak of the great war. Upon his return home, he threw him*
self with ardor into the campaign for preparedness, and in 1916, he
worked hard on behalf of Judge Hughes' candidacy for President.
His life came to an end in March, 1918, shortly before his sixtieth

''Life," sa3rs Judge Holmes, ''is action, the use of one's powers. As
to use them to their height, is our joy and duty, so it is the one end
that justifies itself." George Meyer's life justified itself. He lived
abundantly. He enjoyed life. He put forward his powers with a
conscious joy in the effort. Always the interests of his country in-
spired him to his greatest endeavors. As President Roosevelt wrote
of him, "he was a singularly useful public servant." The record of
his life which Mr. Howe has so well prepared will be an inspiration
and an example to the youth of our country.

George W. Wickersham.

New York City.

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Arguments and Speeches of William Maxwell Evarts. Edited
by Sherman Evarts. (New York: The Macmaian Com-
pany. 1919. Three volumes.)

The publication of these volumes makes a notable addition to Amer-
ican political and legal literature. The pubUc life of Mr. Evarts cov-
ered more than fifty of the most important and exciting years in our
history. A supporter of Daniel Webster in his unsuccessful struggle
for the presidency, he afterwards became a founder of the Republican
party and was long active in its councils. He was a member of two
cabinets, of several special commissions, and finally of the United
States senate. A leading member of the New York bar, he appeared
as counsel in some of the most celebrated cases of the nineteenth cen-
tury. It is to be regretted that the editor has given only a bare outline
of his career. Something to show his relations with the other leaders
of the period would have been a valuable addition.

These volumes will not be of as great value to students of history
and government as to those interested in constitutional and inter-
national law. The arguments of special interest in these latter fields
are those in the Prize Cases, the Savannah Privateers Case,
the Springbok Case, and in Hepburn vs. Griswold. Of particular
interest is the argument before the international tribunal at Geneva,
where Mr. Evarts was associated with Caleb Cushing and Morrison R.
Waite as counsel for the United States in the Alabama Claims con-
troversy. Equally important and probably of greater interest histor-
ically are the great arguments made in defense of President Johnson
during the impeachment trial, and on behalf of the Republican claim-
ants before the electoral commission of 1877.

The chief effort of Mr. Evarts' private practice, in the present col-
lection is the selection from the closing address for the defendant in
Tilton vs. Beecher. It may be questioned whether this, great f(»:en8ic
achievement as it was, really deserves the 245 pages devoted to it.
The miscellaneous addresses, political and commemorative, have been
well chosen and show a high degree of literary excellence. Perhaps
Mr. Evarts is seen at his best as a public speaker in the New England
Society addresses, several of which have been included. The editor's
introductions and comments are brief and well chosen throughout.
Taken as a whole, the volumes are a worthy memorial to one of the
the influential leaders of the American bar, and of the Republican
party during a difficult period of our history.

William A. Robinson.

Dartmouth College.

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Have Faith in Massachusetts. By Calvin Coolidge. Boston
and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Pp. x, 275.)

This is a collection of forty-three occasional addresses, official mes-
sages and proclamations, all but one of which were spoken or written
by Mr. CooUdge while either Ueutenant governor or governor of Masssr
chusetts, that is, during the years 1916-19. They range from collie
dinner speeches to papers and utterances in connection with the strike
of the Boston poUce.

Governor Coohdge's personality is most interesting* He forges his
way to the front without the assistance and in spite of the lack of
those qualities of geniality and affability which are generally supposed
to be a sine qua non for success in American political life.

This book uncovers some of the reasons. It does not disclose any
new poUtical philosophy; there are none of the rounded periods of the
conscious orator; but there is a distinct gift for setting forth old truths
in pithy, epigrammatic form, and a continued insistence upon the
traditional New England virtues as a saving grace in troubled times.
As a phrase-maker, Governor CooUdge has few present-day equals;
but the book reveals also a man well r^A in history; with a fine appre-
ciation of good Uterature; with a keen sense of the value of education,
especially that which has somehow come to be termed ''a classical
training;" and above all, a mind of manifest sincerity. He usually
thinks straight, and he always speaks plainly. If one regrets occasion-
ally a tinge of somewhat smug satisfaction with ''things as they are,''
per contra one will not find a sentence that is mean or ignoble; if there
is now and then a platitude, there is also no resort to the wiles of the
demagogue nor the sophistries of the political charlatan.

The elected officer whose creed is "Don't hesitate to be as revolu-
tionary as science — Don't hesitate to be as reactionary as the multi-
pUcation table," is too rare a figure.

Governor CooUdge is revealed as a welcome twentieth century
embodiment of the somewhat old-fashioned but fine New England t3rpe
of pubUc man, and moreover as one evincing steady and hopeful growth.

James P. Richardson.

Dartmouth College,

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The Return of the Democratic Party to Power in I884. By Har-
rison Cook Thomas, Ph.D. (New York: Columbia Uni-
versity Press. 1919. Pp. 2Q1.)

One cannot read Dr. Thomas's monograph without being impressed
with the astonishingly close resemblance between the party situation
in the period 1880-84 and the party situation in 1916-20. A com-
parison of the two periods, even with due allowance for differences,
will furnish slight comfort to those who rejoice to think that they
discern in the present indistinctness of party lines and absence of clear-
cut fundamental issues, immistakable symptoms of the early demise
of the old parties and the emergence of new parties bearing the labels,
Liberal and Conservative. For some such prediction in the early
eighties there was about as much foundation as there is today.

While Dr. Thomas has evidently made a painstaking first-hand
study of contemporary newspapers, biographical and autobiographical
material and campaign Uterature, his conclusions respecting the influ-
ence of the several factors in the election of 1884 are not essentially
different in most respects from those reached by earlier writers, notably.
Sparks, Rhodes and Stanwood.

The material in this volume is well arranged and presented in a
pleasing style with a commendable degree of detachment, discrimina-
tion and impartiality. The least satisfactory part of the work is the
imnecessarfly long introductory sketch of political events from 1860 to
1880, which constitutes almost one-fourth of the book. The portions
which come the nearest to being real contributions are those dealing
with the Independent movement and the part played by Benjamin F.

Dr. Thomas has performed a real service in bringing together more
widely selected and carefully digested material relating to the presi-
dential campaign and election of 1884 than is to be found in any other

P. ORBiAN Rat.

Narihwestem University.

Our War with Germany. By John Spencer Bassett. (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1919. Pp. 378.)

Professor Bassett has written modestly and intelligently in a field
in which it would be easy to go far astray, and has attaiaed more than
the "reasonable accuracy" that his preface hopes for. No better book

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is as yet available for the student interested in our participation in the
world war, and no other is so detached and historical-minded as this.
It will be a useful handbook in the numerous coiuises on the history
and diplomacy of the war now imcfer way.

The least successful portion of the book is that which covers the
obscure yet significant leadership of the United States in the develop-
ment of the "single front," military and economic. Professor Bassett
appears to have overlooked a group of facts that may prove, eventu-
ally, to cover the key to Allied victory. "Inter-allied" does not appear
in his index, nor does "Supreme," which ran in the titles of many
cooperative control bodies; while "Allied" appears but once, and then
refers to an inadequate and misleading statement (p. 296) respecting
the Allied Naval Council. The fact is that in the summer of 1917
American loans started a course of events that led irresistibly to the
Supreme War Council of December, the supreme command of March,
1918, and the pooling of resources upon the basis of "work or fight" in
August. Enough of the evidence on this point is visible to make it a
matter of regret that Professor Bassett failed to see it.

The general survey of events lacks dramatic appreciation, and is
tireeiome but sound in the chapters preceding the outbreak of the war.
The external facts are generally unimpeachable. Here and there a
slip has been noticed: the earliest Plattsburg camp was in 1915, not
1916 (p. 121); Hoover was named food commissioner May 19, 1917,
not May 20 (p. 138); the order taking over the railroads was dated
December 26, not 27 (p. 150) ; Mr. Ryan's promotion to assistant secre-
tary of war (p. 188) was more than an elevation in rank, for he as-
sumed control of the division of military aeronautics, in addition to
that of aircraft production; Foch seems to have become commander in
chief March 26, 1918, two da3rs earlier than Mr. Bassett's date (p. 221) ;
action on the Saloniki front began September 15, 1918, not September
16 (p. 263).

Such errors are trifles. The book is a commendable and useful

Frederic L. Paxson.

University of Wisconsin.

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The German Empire, 1867-1914^ and the Unity Movement. By
William Harbutt Dawson. (New York: The MacmiUan
Company. 1919. Two volumes.)

This is a good, perhaps the best, considerable work in English on
the political history of Germany since the establishment of German
unity. This is not extravagant praise, for good accounts in English
are few. Sir A. W. Ward's recent volumes are rather crammed with
minutiae and do not deal with the last years before the great war.
Mr. Grant Robertson's Bismarck is an exceptionally brilliant biog-
raphy, but naturally says but little of the German WeWpotUik after the
Iron Chancellor surrendered the helm to his impetuous imperial suc-
cessor. Mr. Dawson's own admirable earlier works on German tariffSi
socialism, municipal government, and The Evolution of Modem Ger-
many lead one to expect a high level of interest and excellence in the
present work. The expectations are nearly but not quite fulfilled.
This is probably because the author's special studies on Germany
heretofore have been mainly on the side of economics and government;
biit in these two volumes he ventured to give some three-quarters of
the space to diplomatic history, with which we suspect he is less famil-
iar. In fact he often spreads out his narrative into a pedestrian account
of general European politics so far as Germany was involved in them,
instead of interpreting in detail the secret springs of German poUcy
and weighing nicely her gains and losses. In the account of the Cri-
mean War he is too hard on Sir Stratford de Redclifife. He is totally
unacquainted with the details of Bismarck's Reinsurance Treaties with
Russia, because he had not read Gonainov's article in the American
Historical Review (January, 1918). He does not make sufficiently
clear the disastrous effects on German foreign policy exerted by Em-
peror WilUam II's personal influence and by the mediocre advisers
with whom he surrounded himself after Bismarck's dismissal. On the
other hand, it is a pleasure to read a work which is so impartial and
objective. Though it was written during the war and completed just
after the armistice was signed, the author was in no way warped in his
judgments by the passions which the war has stirred in so many. In
fact in the chapters on the Morocco Affair he gives a much more sym-
pathetic consideration of Germany's side of the case than is to be
found in most French and English books.

As to general emphasis, one may say, on t)ie whole, the events of
the Bismarckian era are treated in more detail and are handled in ^

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more satisfactory way than those of the post-Bismarckian age; this is
perhaps natural since our sources of information are so much fuller for
the earlier period, and so many sound books have been written upon
different phases of it. But precisely because there is such a dearth of
sympathetic and scholarly accounts of Germany under William 11 we
could have wished that Mr. Dawson had been able to devote a relar
tively greater amount of space to the period since 1890. But it is
ungracious to find fault with an author for the way he chooses to treat
his subject. And we repeat that the general reader will scarcely find
in English a better explsomtion of Germany's rise to European domina-
tion through the establishment of political unity and Bismarck's genius,
and of her loss of this leading position through the anxiety and drawing
together of her neighbors on account of her threatening WeltpoiiHk
and the follies of the Kaiser and his advisers.

The chapters on domestic affairs, tariffs, railroads, colonial expan-
sion, and social legislation are brief but excellent and accurate; we
could have wished that they had been fuller had not the authcn* already
dealt with them in conedderable detail in the recent enlarged edition
of his EvoltUion of Modem Germany.

Sidney B. Fay.

Smith College,

The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary, 1879-1914» Vol I:
Texts of the Treaties and Agreements. Edited by Alfred
Franzis Pribram and Archibald Gary Coolidge. (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press. Pp. 308.)

One result of the destruction and collapse of several old govern-
ments in Europe is that the supposed need for secrecy in the affairs
of state which concerned them has disappeared. The process of revela-
tion throws considerable light on the affairs of governments which still
exist and whose secrets are being maintained. Professor Pribram has
begun a work of supreme value based upon material in the archives of
Austria-Hungary, which promises to reveal a large part of the internal
^ructure and workings of the European statensystem as it existed
during the period of "armed peace" between the Treaty of Berlin and
the outbreak of the great war. The central documents of the vast
yet incomplete "League of Nations" of which Austria formed a part
are presented in this volume, together with a preface by the American
editor, a general preface by the Austrian editor, and the latter's intro->

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duction to his discussion of the negotiations which led up to the five
treaties of the Triple Alliance. Professor Pribram plans to complete
the discussion of the secret treaties, and then to embark upon an exten-
sive history of the foreign policy of Austria-Hungary dining the same
period. *

Seventy-two documents are presented here, grouped under tw^ty-
right heads, and arranged in general in chronological order. The
heads may be classified further as fdlows: three relate to the Austro-
German Alliance, three to the League of the Three Emperors, five to
the Triple Alliance, and two to Austro-Itahan Balkan agreements; five

Online LibraryWestel Woodbury WilloughbyThe American political science review → online text (page 35 of 77)