Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White Volume II by Andrew Dickson White

Part 3 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

practice. I asked him if he had formed a theory as to a future
life, and he said in substance that he had not; but that, as we
came at birth from beyond the forms of space and time, so at
death we returned whence we came. I said, "You use the word
'forms' in the Kantian sense?" "Yes," he said, "space and time
have no reality."

We arrived just too late at the house of mourning. The dead man
had been taken away; but many of those who had come to do him
honor still lingered, and were evidently enjoying the "funeral
baked meats." There were clear signs of a carousal. The friends
who came out to meet us had, most of them, flushed faces, and one
young man in military uniform, coming down the stairs, staggered
and seemed likely to break his neck.

Tolstoi refused to go in, and, as we turned away, expressed
disgust at the whole system, saying, as well he might, that it
was utterly barbarous. He seemed despondent over it, and I tried
to cheer him by showing how the same custom of drinking strong
liquors at funerals had, only a few generations since, prevailed
in large districts of England and America, but that better ideas
of living had swept it away.

On our way through the street, we passed a shrine at which a mob
of peasants were adoring a sacred picture. He dwelt on the
fetishism involved in this, and said that Jesus Christ would be
infinitely surprised and pained were he to return to earth and
see what men were worshiping in his name. He added a story of a
converted pagan who, being asked how many gods he worshiped,
said: "One, and I ate him this morning." At this I cited
Browning's lines put into the mouth of the bishop who wished,
from his tomb,

"To hear the blessed mutter of the mass,
And see God made and eaten all day long."

I reminded him of his definition of religion given me on one of
our previous walks, and he repeated it, declaring religion to be
the feeling which man has regarding his relation to the universe,
including his fellow-men, and to the power which governs all.

The afternoon was closed with a visit to a Raskolnik, or Old
Believer, and of all our experiences this turned out to be the
most curious. The Raskolniks, or Old Believers, compose that
wide-spread sect which broke off from the main body of the
Russian Church when the patriarch of Moscow, Nikon, in the
seventeenth century attempted to remove various textual errors
from the Bible and ceremonial books. These books had been copied
and recopied during centuries until their condition had become
monstrous. Through a mistake of some careless transcriber, even
the name of Jesus had been travestied and had come to be spelled
with two e's; the crudest absurdities had been copied into the
test; important parts had become unintelligible; and the time had
evidently arrived for a revision. Nikon saw this, and in good
faith summoned scholars from Constantinople to prepare more
correct editions; but these revised works met the fate which
attends such revisions generally. The great body of the people
were attached to the old forms; they preferred them, just as in
these days the great body of English-speaking Protestants prefer
the King James Bible to the Revised Version, even though the
latter may convey to the reader more correctly what was dictated
by the Holy Spirit. The feeling of the monks, especially, against
Nikon's new version became virulent. They raised so strong an
opposition among the people that an army had to be sent against
them; at the siege of the Solovetsk Monastery the conflict was
long and bloody, and as a result a large body of people and
clergy broke off from the church. Of course the more these
dissenters thought upon what Nikon had done, the more utterly
evil he seemed; but this was not all. A large part of Russian
religious duty, so far as the people are concerned, consists in
making the sign of the cross on all occasions. Before Nikon's
time this had been done rather carelessly, but, hoping to impress
a religious lesson, he ordered it to be made with three extended
fingers, thus reminding the faithful of the Trinity. At this the
Raskolniks insisted that the sign of the cross ought to be made
with two fingers, and out of this difference arose more
bitterness than from all other causes put together. From that day
to this the dissenters have insisted on enjoying the privilege of
reading the old version with all its absurdities, of spelling the
word Jesus with two e's, of crossing themselves with two fingers,
and of cursing Nikon.

This particular Raskolnik, or Old Believer, to whom Tolstoi took
me, was a Muscovite merchant of great wealth, living in a superb
villa on the outskirts of the city, with a large park about it;
the apartments, for size and beauty of decoration, fit for a
royal palace--the ceilings covered with beautiful frescos, and
the rooms full of statues and pictures by eminent artists, mainly
Russian and French. He was a man of some education, possessed a
large library, loved to entertain scientific men and to aid
scientific effort, and managed to keep on good terms with his
more fanatical coreligionists on one side and with the government
on the other, so that in emergencies he was an efficient
peacemaker between them. We found him a kindly, gentle old man,
with long, white hair and beard, and he showed us with evident
pleasure the principal statues and pictures, several of the
former being by Antokolski, the greatest contemporary Russian
sculptor. In the sumptuous dining-room, in which perhaps a
hundred persons could sit at table, he drew our attention to some
fine pictures of Italian scenes by Smieradsky, and, after passing
through the other rooms, took us into a cabinet furnished with
the rarest things to be found in the Oriental bazaars. Finally,
he conducted us into his private chapel, where, on the
iconostas,--the screen which, in accordance with the Greek
ritual, stands before the altar,--the sacred images of the
Saviour and various saints were represented somewhat differently
from those in the Russo-Greek Church, especially in that they
extended two fingers instead of three. To this difference I
called his attention, and he at once began explaining it. Soon he
grew warm, and finally fervid. Said he: "Why do we make the sign
of the cross? We do it to commemorate the crucifixion of our
blessed Lord. What is commemorated at the crucifixion? The
sacrifice of his two natures--the divine and the human. How do we
make the sign? We make it with two fingers, thus"--accompanied by
a gesture. "What does this represent? It represents what really
occurred: the sacrifice of the divine and the human nature of our
Lord. How do the Orthodox make it?" Here his voice began to rise.
"They make it with three fingers"--and now his indignation burst
all bounds, and with a tremendous gesture and almost a scream of
wrath he declared: "and every time they make it they crucify
afresh every one of the three persons of the holy and undivided

The old man's voice, so gentle at first, had steadily risen
during this catechism of his, in which he propounded the
questions and recited the answers, until this last utterance came
with an outcry of horror. The beginning of this catechism was
given much after the manner of a boy reciting mechanically the
pons asinorum, but the end was like the testimony of an ancient
prophet against the sins which doomed Israel.

This last burst was evidently too much for Tolstoi. He said not a
word in reply, but seemed wrapped in overpowering thought, and
anxious to break away. We walked out with the old Raskolnik, and
at the door I thanked him for his kindness; but even there, and
all the way down the long walk through the park, Tolstoi remained
silent. As we came into the road he suddenly turned to me and
said almost fiercely, "That man is a hypocrite; he can't believe
that; he is a shrewd, long-headed man; how can he believe such
trash? Impossible!" At this I reminded him of Theodore Parker's
distinction between men who believe and men who "believe that
they believe," and said that possibly our Raskolnik was one of
the latter. This changed the subject. He said that he had read
Parker's biography, and liked it all save one thing, which was
that he gave a pistol to a fugitive slave and advised him to
defend himself. This Tolstoi condemned on the ground that we are
not to resist evil. I told him of the advice I had given to
Dobroluboff, a very winning Russian student at Cornell
University, when he was returning to Russia to practise his
profession as an engineer. That advice was that he should bear in
mind Buckle's idea as to the agency of railways and telegraphs in
extending better civilization, and devote himself to his
profession of engineering, with the certainty that its ultimate
result would be to aid in the enlightenment of the empire; but
never, on any account, to conspire against the government;
telling him that he might be sure that he could do far more for
the advancement of Russian thought by building railways than by
entering into any conspiracies whatever. Tolstoi said the advice
was good, but that he would also have advised the young man to
speak out his ideas, whatever they might be. He said that only in
this way could any advance ever be made; that one main obstacle
in human progress is the suppression of the real thoughts of men.
I answered that all this had a fine sound; that it might do for
Count Tolstoi; but that a young, scholarly engineer following it
would soon find himself in a place where he could not promulgate
his ideas,--guarded by Cossacks in some remote Siberian mine.

He spoke of young professors in the universities, of their
difficulties, and of the risk to their positions if they spoke
out at all. I asked him if there was any liberality or breadth of
thought in the Russo-Greek Church. He answered that occasionally
a priest had tried to unite broader thought with orthodox dogma,
but that every such attempt had proved futile.

From Parker we passed to Lowell, and I again tried to find if he
really knew anything of Lowell's writings. He evidently knew very
little, and asked me what Lowell had written. He then said that
he had no liking for verse, and he acquiesced in Carlyle's saying
that nobody had ever said anything in verse which could not have
been better said in prose.

A day or two later, on another of our walks, I asked him how and
when, in his opinion, a decided advance in Russian liberty and
civilization would be made. He answered that he thought it would
come soon, and with great power. On my expressing the opinion
that such progress would be the result of a long evolutionary
process, with a series of actions and reactions, as heretofore in
Russian history, he dissented, and said that the change for the
better would come soon, suddenly, and with great force.

As we passed along the streets he was, as during our previous
walks, approached by many beggars, to each of whom he gave as
long as his money lasted. He said that he was accustomed to take
a provision of copper money with him for this purpose on his
walks, since he regarded it as a duty to give when asked, and he
went on to say that he carried the idea so far that even if he
knew the man wanted the money to buy brandy he would give it to
him; but he added that he would do all in his power to induce the
man to work and to cease drinking. I demurred strongly to all
this, and extended the argument which I had made during our
previous walk, telling him that by such giving he did two wrongs:
first, to the beggar himself, since it led him to cringe and lie
in order to obtain as a favor that which, if he did his duty in
working, he could claim as a right; and, secondly, to society by
encouraging such a multitude to prey upon it who might be giving
it aid and strength; and I again called his attention to the
hordes of sturdy beggars in Moscow. He answered that the results
of our actions in such cases are not the main thing, but the
cultivation of proper feelings in the giver is first to be

I then asked him about his manual labor. He said that his habit
was to rise early and read or write until noon, then to take his
luncheon and a short sleep, and after that to work in his garden
or fields. He thought this good for him on every account, and
herein we fully agreed.

On our return through the Kremlin, passing the heaps and rows of
cannon taken from the French in 1812, I asked him if he still
adhered to the low opinion of Napoleon expressed in "War and
Peace." He said that he did, and more than ever since he had
recently read a book on Napoleon's relations to women which
showed that he took the lowest possible view of womankind. I then
asked him if he still denied Napoleon's military genius. He
answered that he certainly did; that he did not believe in the
existence of any such thing as military genius; that he had never
been able to understand what is meant by the term. I asked, "How
then do you account for the amazing series of Napoleon's
successes?" He answered, "By circumstances." I rejoined that such
an explanation had the merit, at least, of being short and easy.

He then went on to say that battles are won by force of
circumstances, by chance, by luck; and he quoted Suvaroff to this
effect. He liked Lanfrey's "History of Napoleon" and Taine's book
on the Empire, evidently because both are denunciatory of men and
things he dislikes, but said that he did not believe in Thiers.

We came finally under the shade of the great tower and into the
gateway through which Napoleon entered the Kremlin; and there we
parted with a hearty good-bye.

The question has been asked me, at various times since, whether,
in my opinion, Tolstoi is really sincere; and allusion has been
made to a book published by a lady who claims to have been in
close relations with his family, which would seem to reveal a
theatrical element in his whole life. To this my answer has
always been, and still is, that I believe him to be one of the
most sincere and devoted men alive, a man of great genius and, at
the same time, of very deep sympathy with his fellow-creatures.

Out of this character of his come his theories of art and
literature; and, despite their faults, they seem to me more
profound and far-reaching than any put forth by any other man in
our time.

There is in them, for the current cant regarding art and
literature, a sound, sturdy, hearty contempt which braces and
strengthens one who reads or listens to him. It does one good to
hear his quiet sarcasms against the whole fin-de-siecle
business--the "impressionism," the "sensationalism," the vague
futilities of every sort, the "great poets" wallowing in the mud
of Paris, the "great musicians" making night hideous in German
concert-halls, the "great painters" of various countries mixing
their colors with as much filth as the police will allow. His
keen thrusts at these incarnations of folly and obscenity in the
last quarter of the nineteenth century, and especially at those
who seek to hide the poverty of their ideas in the obscurity of
their phrases, encourage one to think that in the next generation
the day of such pretenders will be done. His prophesying against
"art for art's sake"; his denunciation of art which simply
ministers to sensual pleasure; his ridicule of art which can be
discerned only by "people of culture"; his love for art which has
a sense, not only of its power, but of its obligations, which
puts itself at the service of great and worthy ideas, which
appeals to men as men--in this he is one of the best teachers of
his time and of future times.

Yet here come in his unfortunate limitations. From his
substitutions of assertion for inference, and from the inadequacy
of his view regarding sundry growths in art, literature, and
science, arises endless confusion.

For who will not be skeptical as to the value of any criticism by
a man who pours contempt over the pictures of Puvis de Chavannes,
stigmatizes one of Beethoven's purest creations as "corrupting,"
and calls Shakspere a "scribbler"!

Nothing can be more genuine than his manner: there is no posing,
no orating, no phrase-making; a quiet earnestness pervades all
his utterances. The great defect in him arises, as I have already
said, from a peculiarity in the development of his opinions:
namely, that during so large a part of his life he has been wont
to discuss subjects with himself and not with other men; that he
has, therefore, come to worship idols of his own creation, and
often very unsubstantial idols, and to look with misgiving and
distrust on the ideas of others. Very rarely during our
conversations did I hear him speak with any real enthusiasm
regarding any human being: his nearest approach to it was with
reference to the writings of the Rev. Adin Ballou, when he
declared him the foremost literary character that America has
produced. A result of all this is that when he is driven into a
corner his logic becomes so subtle as to be imperceptible, and he
is very likely to take refuge in paradoxes.

At times, as we walked together, he would pour forth a stream of
reasoning so lucid, out of depths so profound and reach
conclusions so cogent, that he seemed fairly inspired. At other
times he would develop a line of argument so outworn, and arrive
at conclusions so inane, that I could not but look into his face
closely to see if he could be really in earnest; but it always
bore that same expression--forbidding the slightest suspicion
that he was uttering anything save that which he believed, at
least for the time being.

As to the moral side, the stream of his thought was usually
limpid, but at times it became turbid and his better ideas seemed
to float on the surface as iridescent bubbles.

Had he lived in any other country, he would have been a power
mighty and permanent in influencing its thought and in directing
its policy; as it is, his thought will pass mainly as the
confused, incoherent wail and cry of a giant struggling against
the heavy adverse currents in that vast ocean of Russian life:

"The cry of some strong swimmer in his agony."

The evolution of Tolstoi's ideas has evidently been mainly
determined by his environment. During two centuries Russia has
been coming slowly out of the middle ages--indeed, out of perhaps
the most cruel phases of mediaeval life. Her history is, in its
details, discouraging; her daily life disheartening. Even the
aspects of nature are to the last degree depressing: no
mountains; no hills; no horizon; no variety in forests; a soil
during a large part of the year frozen or parched; a people whose
upper classes are mainly given up to pleasure and whose lower
classes are sunk in fetishism; all their poetry and music in the
minor key; old oppressions of every sort still lingering; no help
in sight; and, to use their own cry, "God so high and the Czar so

When, then, a great man arises in Russia, if he gives himself
wholly to some well-defined purpose, looking to one high aim and
rigidly excluding sight or thought of the ocean of sorrow about
him, he may do great things. If he be Suvaroff or Skobeleff or
Gourko he may win great battles; if he be Mendeleieff he may
reach some epoch-making discovery in science; if he be Derjavine
he may write a poem like the "Ode to God"; if he be Antokolsky he
may carve statues like "Ivan the Terrible"; if he be Nesselrode
he may hold all Europe enchained to the ideas of the autocrat; if
he be Miloutine or Samarine or Tcherkassky he may devise vast
plans like those which enabled Alexander II to free twenty
millions of serfs and to secure means of subsistence for each of
them; if he be Prince Khilkoff he may push railway systems over
Europe to the extremes of Asia; if he be De Witte he may reform a
vast financial system.

But when a strong genius in Russia throws himself into
philanthropic speculations of an abstract sort, with no chance of
discussing his theories until they are full-grown and have taken
fast hold upon him,--if he be a man of science like Prince
Kropotkin, one of the most gifted scientific thinkers of our
time,--the result may be a wild revolt, not only against the
whole system of his own country, but against civilization itself,
and finally the adoption of the theory and practice of anarchism,
which logically results in the destruction of the entire human
race. Or, if he be an accomplished statesman and theologian like
Pobedonostzeff, he may reason himself back into mediaeval
methods, and endeavor to fetter all free thought and to crush out
all forms of Christianity except the Russo-Greek creed and
ritual. Or, if he be a man of the highest genius in literature,
like Tolstoi, whose native kindliness holds him back from the
extremes of nihilism, he may rear a fabric heaven-high, in which
truths, errors, and paradoxes are piled up together until we have
a new Tower of Babel. Then we may see this man of genius
denouncing all science and commending what he calls "faith";
urging a return to a state of nature, which is simply Rousseau
modified by misreadings of the New Testament; repudiating
marriage, yet himself most happily married and the father of
sixteen children; holding that Aeschylus and Dante and Shakspere
were not great in literature, and making Adin Ballou a literary
idol; holding that Michelangelo and Raphael were not great in
sculpture and painting, yet insisting on the greatness of sundry
unknown artists who have painted brutally; holding that
Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Wagner were not great in
music, but that some unknown performer outside any healthful
musical evolution has given us the music of the future; declaring
Napoleon to have had no genius, but presenting Koutousoff as a
military ideal; loathing science--that organized knowledge which
has done more than all else to bring us out of mediaeval cruelty
into a better world--and extolling a "faith" which has always
been the most effective pretext for bloodshed and oppression.

The long, slow, every-day work of developing a better future for
his countrymen is to be done by others far less gifted than
Tolstoi. His paradoxes will be forgotten; but his devoted life,
his noble thoughts, and his lofty ideals will, as centuries roll
on, more and more give life and light to the new Russia.



The difficulties of a stranger seeking information in Russia seem
at times insurmountable. First of these is the government policy
of suppressing news. Foreign journals come to ordinary
subscribers with paragraphs and articles rubbed out with pumice
or blotted out with ink; consequently our Russian friends were
wont to visit the legation, seeking to read in our papers what
had been erased in their own, and making the most amusing
discoveries as to the stupidity of the official censorship:
paragraphs perfectly harmless being frequently blotted out, and
really serious attacks on the government unnoticed.

Very striking, as showing control over the newspaper press, was
an occurrence during my first summer at Helsingfors. One day our
family doctor came in, and reported a rumor that an iron-clad
monitor had sunk, the night before, on its way across the gulf
from Reval. Soon the story was found to be true. A squadron of
three ships had started; had encountered a squall; and in the
morning one of them--an old-fashioned iron-clad monitor--was
nowhere to be seen. She had sunk with all on board. Considerable
speculation concerning the matter arose, and sundry very guarded
remarks were ventured to the effect that the authorities at
Cronstadt would have been wiser had they not allowed the ship to
go out in such a condition that the first squall would send her
to the bottom. This discussion continued for about a week, when
suddenly the proper authorities served notice upon the press that
nothing more must be said on the subject.

This mandate was obeyed; the matter was instantly dropped;
nothing more was said; and, a year or two afterward, on my
inquiring of Admiral Makharoff whether anything had ever been
discovered regarding the lost ship and its crew, he answered in
the negative.

But more serious efforts than these were made to control thought.
The censorship of books was even more strongly, and, if possible,
more foolishly, exercised. At any of the great bookshops one
could obtain, at once, the worst publications of the Paris press;
but the really substantial and thoughtful books were carefully
held back. The average Russian, in order to read most of these
better works, must be specially authorized to do so.

I had a practical opportunity to see the system in operation.
Being engaged on the final chapters of my book, and needing
sundry scientific, philosophical, and religious treatises, such
as can be bought freely in every city of Western Europe, I went
to the principal bookseller in St. Petersburg, and was told that,
by virtue of my diplomatic position, I could have them; but that,
in order to do so, I must write an application, signing it with
my own name, and that then he would sell them to me within a few
days. This took place several times.

Still another difficulty is that, owing to lack of publicity, the
truth can rarely be found as regards any burning question: in the
prevailing atmosphere of secrecy and repression the simplest
facts are often completely shut from the foreign observer.

Owing to the lack of public discussion, Russia is the classic
ground of myth and legend. One sees myths and legends growing day
by day. The legend regarding the cure of the Archbishop of St.
Petersburg by Father Ivan of Cronstadt, which I have given in a
previous chapter, is an example. The same growth of legend is
seen with regard to every-day matters. For example, one meets
half a dozen people at five-o'clock tea in a Russian house, and
one of them says: "How badly the Emperor looked at court last
night." Another says: "Yes; his liver is evidently out of order;
he ought to go to Carlsbad." Another says: "I think that special
pains ought to be taken with his food," etc., etc. People then
scatter from this tea-table, and in a day or two one hears that
sufficient precaution is not taken with the Emperor's food; that
it would not be strange if some nihilist should seek to poison
him. A day or two afterward one hears that a nihilist HAS
endeavored to poison the Emperor. The legend grows, details
appear here and there, and finally there come in the newspapers
of Western Europe full and careful particulars of a thwarted plot
to poison his Majesty.

Not the least of the embarrassments which beset an American
minister in Russia is one which arose at various times during my
stay, its source being the generous promptness of our people to
take as gospel any story regarding Russian infringement of human
rights. One or two cases will illustrate this.

During my second winter, despatches by mail and wire came to me
thick and fast regarding the alleged banishment of an American
citizen to Siberia for political reasons; and with these came
petitions and remonstrances signed by hundreds of Americans of
light and leading; also newspaper articles, many and bitter.

On making inquiries through the Russian departments of foreign
affairs and of justice, I found the fact to be that this injured
American had been, twenty years before, a Russian police agent in
Poland; that he had stolen funds intrusted to him and had taken
refuge in America; that, relying on the amnesty proclaimed at the
accession of the late Emperor, he had returned to his old haunts;
that he had been seized, because the amnesty did not apply to the
category of criminals to which he belonged; that he had not been
sent to Siberia; that there was no thought of sending him there;
but that the authorities proposed to recover the money he had
stolen if they could. Another case was typical: One day an
excellent English clergyman came to me in great distress, stating
that an American citizen was imprisoned in the city. I
immediately had the man brought before a justice, heard his
testimony and questioned him, publicly and privately. He swore
before the court, and insisted to me in private, that he had
never before been in Russia; that he was an American citizen born
of a Swedish father and an Alaskan mother upon one of the Alaskan
islands; and he showed a passport which he had obtained at
Washington by making oath to that effect. On the other hand
appeared certain officers of the Russian navy, in excellent
standing, who swore that they knew the man perfectly to be a
former employee of their engineering department and a deserter
from a Russian ship of war in the port of St. Petersburg. It was
also a somewhat significant fact that he spoke Russian much
better than English, and that he seemed to have a knowledge of
Russian affairs very remarkable for a man who had never been in
Russia; but to account for this he insisted upon the statement as
to his birth in Alaska. Appearances were certainly very strongly
against him, and he was remanded to await more testimony in his
favor; but the next thing I heard was that he had escaped, had
arrived in New York, was posing as a martyr, had graciously
granted interviews to various representatives of the press, and
had thereby stimulated some very lurid editorials against the
Russian Government.

Another case was that of a Russian who, having reached the United
States, burdened the files of the State Department and of the
legation with complaints against the American minister because
that official did not send out the man's wife to him. The
minister had, indeed, forwarded the necessary passports, but the
difficulty was that the German authorities would not allow the
woman to enter Germany without showing herself to be in
possession of means sufficient to prevent her becoming a public
charge; and these her husband could not, or would not, send,
insisting that now that he was naturalized he had a right to have
his wife brought to America.

I have no apology to make for the Russian system--far from it;
but I would state, in the interest of international comity, that
it is best for Americans not to be too prompt in believing all
the stories of alleged sufferers from Russian despotism, and
especially of those who wish to use their American citizenship
simply in order to return to Russia and enjoy business advantages
superior to those of their neighbors.

That there are many meritorious refugees cannot be denied; but
any one who has looked over extradition papers, as I have been
obliged to do, and seen people posing as Russian martyrs who are
comfortably carrying on in New York the business of
counterfeiting bank-notes, and unctuously thanking God in their
letters for their success in the business, will be slow to join
in the outcries of refugees of doubtful standing claiming to be
suffering persecution on account of race, religion, or political

Nor are Russian-Americans the only persons who weary an American
representative. One morning a card was brought in bearing an
undoubted American name, and presently there followed it a tall
raw-boned man with long flaxen hair, who began orating to me as
follows: "Sir, you are an ambassador from the President of the
United States; I am an ambassador from God Almighty. I am sent
here to save the Emperor. He is a good man; he is followed up by
bad men who seek his life; I can save him; I will be his
cup-bearer; I WILL DRIVE HIS TEAM." This latter conception of the
Emperor's means of locomotion struck me as naive, especially in
view of the fact that near my house was an immense structure
filled with magnificent horses for the Emperor and court--a
veritable equine palace. "Yes," said my visitor; "I will drive
the Emperor's team. I want you to introduce me to him
immediately." My answer was that it was not so easy to secure a
presentation to the Emperor, offhand; that considerable time
would be necessary in any case. To this my visitor answered: "I
must see him at once; I am invited to come by the Empress." On my
asking when he received this invitation, he said that it was
given him on board the steamer between New York and Hamburg, her
Majesty and her children being the only other passengers besides
himself in the second-class cabin. To this I said that there must
certainly be some mistake; that her Majesty rarely, if ever,
traveled on public lines of steamers; that if she had done so,
she certainly would not have been a passenger in the second
cabin. To this he answered that he was absolutely certain that it
was the Empress who had given him the invitation and urged him to
come and save the Emperor's life. On my asking him the date of
this invitation, he looked through his diary and found it. At
this, sending for a file of the official newspaper of St.
Petersburg, I showed him that on the day named her Majesty was
receiving certain officials at the palace in St. Petersburg;
whereat he made an answer which for the moment threw me
completely off my balance. He said, "Sir, I have lived long
enough not to believe everything I see in the newspapers."

I quieted him as best I could, but on returning to his hotel he
indulged in some very boisterous conduct, one of the minor
features of which was throwing water in the faces of the waiters;
so that, fearing lest actions like this and his loud utterances
regarding the Emperor and Empress might get him into trouble, I
wrote a friendly letter to the prefect of St. Petersburg, stating
the case, and asking that, if it was thought best to arrest the
man, he should be placed in some comfortable retreat for the
insane and be well cared for until I could communicate with his
friends in America. Accordingly, a day or two afterward, a
handsome carriage drove up to the door of his hotel, bearing two
kindly gentlemen, who invited him to accompany them. Taking it
for granted that he was to be escorted to the palace to meet his
Majesty, he went without making any objections, and soon found
himself in commodious rooms and most kindly treated.

It being discovered that he was an excellent pianist, a grand
piano was supplied him; and he was very happy in his musical
practice, and in the thought that he was lodged in the palace and
would soon communicate his message to the Emperor. At various
times I called upon him and found him convinced that his great
mission would soon be accomplished; but after a week or ten days
he began to have doubts, and said to me that he distrusted the
Russians and would prefer to go on and deliver a message with
which he was charged to the Emperor of China. On my showing him
sundry difficulties, he said that at any rate there was one place
where he would certainly be well received--Marlborough House in
London; that he was sure the Prince of Wales would welcome him
heartily. At last, means having been obtained from his friends, I
sought to forward him from St. Petersburg; but, as no steamers
thence would take a lunatic, I sent my private secretary with him
to Helsingfors, and thence secured his passage to America.

A very curious feature in the case, as told me afterward by a
gentleman who traveled in the same steamer, was that this
American delighted the company day after day with his music, and
that no one ever saw anything out of the way in his utterances or
conduct. He seemed to have forgotten all about his great missions
and to have become absorbed in his piano.

Among the things to which special and continued attention had to
be given by the legation was the Chicago Exposition. I was
naturally desirous to see it a success; indeed, it was my duty to
do everything possible to promote it. The magnificent plans which
the Chicago people had developed and were carrying out with such
wonderful energy interested thinking Russians. But presently came
endeavors which might easily have brought the whole enterprise
into disrepute; for some of the crankish persons who always hang
on the skirts of such enterprises had been allowed to use
official stationery, and they had begun writing letters, and even
instructions, to American diplomatic agents abroad.

The first of these which attracted my attention was one
requesting me to ask the Empress to write a book in the shape of
a "Report on Women's Work in Russia," careful instructions being
given as to how and at what length she must write it.

A letter also came from one of these quasi-officials at Chicago,
not requesting, but instructing, me to ask the Emperor to report
to his bureau on the condition of the empire; funnily enough,
this "instruction" was evidently one of several, and they had
been ground out so carelessly that the one which I was instructed
to deliver to the Emperor was addressed to the "King of Holland."
It was thus made clear that this important personage at Chicago,
who usurped the functions of the Secretary of State, had not even
taken the trouble to find out that there was no such person as a
"King of Holland," the personage whom he vaguely had in mind
being, no doubt, the Queen Regent of the Netherlands.

Soon there followed another of these quasi-instructions, showing
another type of crankishness. Beginning with the weighty
statement that "the school-boys of every country are the future
men of that country," it went on with a declaration that it had
been decided to hold a convention of the school-children of the
world at Chicago, in connection with the Exposition, and ended by
instructing me to invite to its deliberations the school-children
of Russia. Of course I took especial care not to communicate any
of these things to any Russian: to have done so would have made
the Exposition, instead of the admiration, the laughing-stock of
the empire; but I wrote a letter to the assistant secretary of
state, Mr. Quincy, who presently put an end to these vagaries.

One is greatly struck in Russia by the number of able and gifted
men and women scattered through Russian society, and at the
remarkable originality of some of them. The causes of this
originality I touch in my chapter on Tolstoi.

It was a duty as well as a pleasure for me to keep up my
acquaintance with persons worth knowing; and, while many of the
visits thus made were perfunctory and tedious, some were
especially gratifying. My rule was, after office hours in the
afternoon, to get into the open sledge; to make my visits; and as
a result, of course, to see and hear a vast deal of frivolity and
futility, but, from time to time, more important things.

The entertainments given by wealthy Russian nobles to the
diplomatic corps were by no means so frequent or so lavish as of
old. Two reasons were assigned for this, one being the abolition
of the serf system, which had impoverished the nobility, and the
other the fact that the Emperor Alexander III had set the fashion
of paying less attention to foreigners than had formerly been the

The main hospitalities, so far as the Emperor and Empress were
concerned, were the great festivities at the Winter Palace,
beginning on the Russian New Year's day, which was twelve days
later than ours. The scene was most brilliant. The vast halls
were filled with civil and military officials from all parts of
the empire, in the most gorgeous costumes, an especially striking
effect being produced by the caftans, or long coats, of the
various Cossack regiments, the armor and helmets of the Imperial
Guards, and the old Russian costumes of the ladies. All of the
latter, on this occasion, from the Empress down, wore these
costumes: there was great variety in these; but their main
features were the kakoshniks, or ornamental crowns, and the
tunics in bright colors.

The next of these great ceremonies at the Winter Palace was the
blessing of the waters upon the 8th of January. The diplomatic
corps and other guests were allowed to take their places at the
palace windows looking out over the Neva, and thence could see
the entire procession, which, having gone down the ambassadors'
staircase, appeared at a temple which had been erected over an
opening in the ice of the river. The Emperor, the grand dukes,
and the Archbishop of St. Petersburg, with his suffragan bishops,
all took part in this ceremonial; and the music, which was
selected from the anthems of Bortniansky, was very solemn and

During the winter came court balls, and, above all, the "palm
balls." The latter were, in point of brilliancy, probably beyond
anything in any court of modern times. After a reception, during
which the Emperor and Empress passed along the diplomatic circle,
speaking to the various members, dancing began, and was continued
until about midnight; then the doors were flung open into other
vast halls, which had been changed into palm-groves. The palms
for this purpose are very large and beautiful, four series of
them being kept in the conservatories for this special purpose,
each series being used one winter and then allowed to rest for
three winters before it is brought out again. Under these palms
the supper-tables are placed, and from fifteen hundred to two
thousand people sit at these as the guests of the Czar and
Czarina. These entertainments seem carried to the extreme of
luxury, their only defect being their splendid monotony: only
civil, military, and diplomatic officials are present, and a
new-comer finds much difficulty in remembering their names. There
are said to be four hundred Princes Galitzin in the empire, and I
personally knew three Counts Tolstoi who did not know each other;
but the great drawback is the fact that all these entertainments
are exactly alike, always the same thing: merely civil and
military functionaries and their families; and for strangers no
occupation save to dance, play cards, talk futilities, or simply

The Berlin court, though by no means so brilliant at first sight
and far smaller,--since the most I ever saw in any gathering in
the Imperial Schloss at the German capital was about fifteen
hundred,--was really much more attractive, its greater interest
arising from the presence of persons distinguished in every
field. While at St. Petersburg one meets only civil and military
functionaries, at Berlin one meets not only these, but the most
prominent men in politics, science, literature, art, and the
higher ranges of agriculture, commerce, and manufacture. At St.
Petersburg, when I wished to meet such men, who added to the
peaceful glories of the empire, I went to their houses in the
university quarter; at Berlin I met them also at court.

As to court episodes during my stay, one especially dwells in my
memory. On arriving rather early one evening, I noticed a large,
portly man, wearing the broad red ribbon of the Legion of Honor,
and at once saw that he could be no other than Prince Victor
Napoleon, the Bonaparte heir to the crown of France. Though he
was far larger than the great Napoleon, and had the eyes of his
mother, Princess Clothilde, his likeness to his father, Prince
Napoleon ("Plon-Plon"), whom I had seen years before at Paris,
was very marked. Presently his brother, who had just arrived from
his regiment in the Caucasus, came up and began conversation with
him. Both seemed greatly vexed at something. On the arrival of
the Italian ambassador, he naturally went up and spoke to the
prince, who was the grandson of King Victor Emmanuel; but the
curious thing was that the French ambassador, Count de
Montebello, and the prince absolutely cut each other. Neither
seemed to have the remotest idea that the other was in the room,
and this in spite of the fact that the Montebellos are descended
from Jean Lannes, the stable-boy whom Napoleon made a marshal of
France and Duke of Montebello, thus founding the family to which
the French ambassador belonged. The show of coolness on the part
of the imperial family evidently vexed the French pretender. He
was, indeed, allowed to enter the room behind the imperial train;
but he was not permitted to sit at the imperial table, being
relegated to a distant and very modest seat. I was informed that,
though the Emperor could, and did, have the prince to dine with
him in private, he felt obliged, in view of the relations between
Russia and the French Republic, to carefully avoid any special
recognition of him in public.

A far more brilliant visitor was the Ameer of Bokhara. I have
already spoken of the way in which he was placed upon the throne
by General Annenkof. He now came to visit the Czar as his
suzerain, and with him came his eldest son and a number of his
great men. The satrap himself was a singular combination of
splendor and stoicism, wearing a gorgeous dress covered with
enormous jewels, and observing the brilliant scenes about him
with hardly ever a word. Even when he took his place at the table
beside the Empress he was very uncommunicative. Facing the
imperial table sat his great men; and their embarrassment was
evident, one special source of it being clearly their small
acquaintance with European table utensils. The Ameer brought to
St. Petersburg splendid presents of gold and jewels, after the
Oriental fashion, and also the heir to his throne, whom he left
as a sort of hostage to be educated at the capital.

An eminent Russian who was in very close relations with the Ameer
gave me some account of this young man. Although he was then
perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age, he was, as regards
conduct, a mere baby, bursting out into loud boohooing the first
time he was presented to the Emperor, and showing himself very
immature in various ways. Curiously enough, when he was taken to
the cadet school he was found to be unable to walk for any
considerable distance. He had always been made to squat and be
carried, and the first thing to be done toward making him a
Russian officer was to train him in using his legs. He took an
especial fancy to bicycles: in the park attached to the cadet
school he became very proficient in the use of them; and,
returning to Bokhara at his first vacation, he took with him, not
only a bicycle for himself, but another for his brother. Shortly
after his home-coming, the Ameer and court being assembled, he
gave a display of his powers; but, to his great mortification,
the Ameer was disgusted: the idea that the heir to the throne
should be seen working his way in this fashion was contrary to
all the ideas of that potentate, and he ordered the bicycles to
be at once destroyed. But on the young man's return to St.
Petersburg he bought another; resumed his exercises upon it; and
will, no doubt, when he comes to the throne, introduce that form
of locomotion into the Mohammedan regions of Northern Asia.

Among the greater displays of my final year were a wedding and a
funeral. The former was that of the Emperor's eldest daughter,
the Grand Duchess Xenia, at Peterhof. It was very brilliant, and
was conducted after the usual Russian fashion, its most curious
features being the leading of the couple about the altar and
their drinking out of the same cup.

Coming from the ceremony in the chapel, we of the diplomatic
corps found ourselves, at the foot of the great staircase, in a
crush. But just at the side was a large door of plate-glass
opening upon an outer gallery communicating with other parts of
the palace; and standing guard at this door was one of the
"Nubians" whom I had noticed, from time to time, at the Winter
Palace--an enormous creature, very black, very glossy, with the
most brilliant costume possible. I had heard much of these
"Nubians," and had been given to understand that they had been
brought from Central Africa by special command. At great
assemblages in the imperial palaces, just before the doors were
flung open for the entrance of the Majesties and their cortege,
two great black hands were always to be seen put through the
doors, ready to open them in an instant--the hands of two of
these "Nubians." I had built up in my mind quite a structure of
romance regarding them, and now found myself in the crush at the
foot of the grand staircase near one of them. As I looked up at
him he said to me, with deferential compassion, "If you please,
sah, would n't you like to git out of de crowd, sah, through dis
yere doah?" By his dialect he was evidently one of my own
compatriots, and, though in a sort of daze at this discovery, I
mechanically accepted his invitation; whereupon he opened the
door, let us through, and kept back the crowd.

Splendid, too, in its way, was the funeral of the Grand Duchess
Catherine at the Fortress Church. It was very impressive, almost
as much so as the funeral of the Emperor Nicholas, which I had
attended at the same place nearly forty years before. The Emperor
Alexander III, with his brothers, had followed the hearse and
coffin on foot, and his Majesty was evidently greatly fatigued.
Soon he retired to take rest, and then it was that we began to
have the first suspicion of his fatal illness. Up to that time
there had been skepticism. Very few had thought it possible that
a man of such giant frame and strength could be seriously ill,
but now there could be no doubt of it. Standing near him, I
noticed his pallor and evident fatigue, and was not surprised
that he twice left the place, in order, evidently, to secure
rest. There was need of it. In the Russian Church the rule is
that all must stand, and all of us stood from about ten in the
morning until half-past one in the afternoon; but two high
officials covered with gold lace and orders, bearing tapers by
the side of the grand duchess's coffin, toppled over from
exhaustion and were removed.

As to other spectacles, one of the most splendid was the midnight
mass on Easter eve. At my former visit I had seen this at the
Kazan Church; now we went to the Cathedral of St. Isaac. The
ceremony was brilliant almost beyond conception, as in the old
days; the music was heavenly; and, as the clocks struck twelve,
the cannons of the fortress of Peter and Paul boomed forth, all
the bells of the city began chiming, and a light, appearing at
the extreme end of the church, seemed to run in all directions
through the vast assemblage, and presently all seemed ablaze.
Every person in the church was holding a taper, and within a few
moments all of these had been lighted.

Most beautiful of all was the music at another of these Easter
ceremonies, when the choristers, robed in white, came forth from
the sanctuary and sang hymns by the side of the empty sepulcher
under the dome.

The singing by the choirs in Russia is, in many respects, more
beautiful than similar music in any other part of the world, save
that of the cathedral choir of Berlin at its best. I have heard
the Sistine, Pauline, and Lateran choirs at Rome; and they are
certainly far inferior to these Russian singers. No instrumental
music is allowed and no voices of women. The choristers are men
and boys. There are several fine choirs in St. Petersburg, but
three are famous: that of the Emperor at the Winter Palace
Chapel, that of the Archbishop at the Cathedral of St. Isaac, and
that of the Nevski Monastery. Occasionally there were concerts
when all were combined, and nothing in its way could be more

Operatic music also receives careful attention. Enormous
subsidies are given to secure the principal singers of Europe at
the Italian, French, and German theaters; but the most lavish
outlay is upon the national opera: it is considered a matter of
patriotism to maintain it at the highest point possible. The
Russian Opera House is an enormous structure, and the finest
piece which I saw given there was Glinka's "Life for the Czar."
Being written by a Russian, on a patriotic subject, and from an
ultra-loyal point of view, everything had been done to mount it
in the most superb way possible: never have I seen more wonderful
scenic effects, the whole culminating in the return of one of the
old fighting czars to the Kremlin after his struggle with the
Poles. The stage was enormous and the procession magnificent. The
personages in it were the counterparts, as regarded dress, of the
persons they represented, exact copies having been made of the
robes and ornaments of the old Muscovite boyards, as preserved in
the Kremlin Museum; and at the close of this procession came a
long line of horses, in the most superb trappings imaginable,
attended by guards and outriders in liveries of barbaric
splendor, and finally the imperial coach. We were enabled to
catch sight of the Cossack guards on the front of it, when, just
as the body of the coach was coming into view, down came the
curtain. This was the result of a curious prohibition, enforced
in all theaters in Russia: on no account is it permitted to
represent the sacred person of any emperor upon the stage.

As to other music, very good concerts were occasionally given,
the musicians being generally from Western Europe.

Very pleasant were sundry excursions, especially during the long
summer twilight; and among these were serenade parties given by
various members of the diplomatic corps. In a trim steam-yacht,
and carrying singers with us, we sailed among the islands in the
midnight hours, stopping, from time to time, to greet friends
occupying cottages there.

As to excursions in the empire, I have already given, in my
chapter on Tolstoi, some account of my second visit to Moscow;
and a more complete account is reserved for a chapter on "Sundry
Excursions and Experiences." The same may be said, also,
regarding an excursion taken, during one of my vacations, in
Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

In 1893, a new administration having brought into power the party
opposed to my own, I tendered to President Cleveland my
resignation, and, in the full expectation that it would be
accepted, gave up my apartment; but as, instead of an acceptance,
there came a very kind indication of the President's confidence,
good-will, and preference for my continuance at my post, I
remained in the service a year longer, occupying my odds and ends
of time in finishing my book. Then, feeling the need of going
elsewhere to revise it, I wrote the President, thanking him for
his confidence and kindness, but making my resignation final, and
naming the date when it would be absolutely necessary for me to
leave Russia. A very kind letter from him was the result; the
time I had named was accepted; and on the 1st of November, 1894,
to my especial satisfaction, I was once more free from official



Early one morning, just at the end of 1895, as I was at work
before the blazing fire in my library at the university, the
winter storms howling outside, a card was brought in bearing the
name of Mr. Hamlin, assistant secretary of the treasury of the
United States. While I was wondering what, at that time of the
year, could have brought a man from such important duties in
Washington to the bleak hills of central New York, he entered,
and soon made known his business, which was to tender me, on the
part of President Cleveland, a position upon the commission which
had been authorized by Congress to settle the boundary between
the republic of Venezuela and British Guiana.

The whole matter had attracted great attention, not only in the
United States, but throughout the world. The appointment of the
commission was the result of a chain of circumstances very
honorable to the President, to his Secretary of State, Mr. Olney,
and to Congress. For years the Venezuelan government had been
endeavoring to establish a frontier between its territory and
that of its powerful neighbor, but without result; and meantime
the British boundary seemed to be pushed more and more into the
territory of the little Spanish-American republic. For years,
too, Venezuela had appealed to the United States, and the United
States had appealed to Great Britain. American secretaries of
state and ambassadors at the Court of St. James had "trusted,"
and "regretted," and had "the honor to renew assurances of their
most distinguished consideration"; but all in vain. At last the
matter had been presented by Secretary Olney to the government of
Lord Salisbury; and now, to Mr. Olney's main despatch on the
subject, Lord Salisbury, after some months' delay, had returned
an answer declining arbitration, and adding that international
law did not recognize the Monroe Doctrine. This seemed even more
than cool; for, when one remembered that the Monroe Doctrine was
at first laid down with the approval of Great Britain, that it
was glorified in Parliament and in the British press of 1823 and
the years following, and that Great Britain had laid down
policies in various parts of the earth, especially in the
Mediterranean and in the far East, which she insisted that all
other powers should respect without reference to any sanction by
international law, this argument seemed almost insulting.

So it evidently seemed to Mr. Cleveland. Probably no man less
inclined to demagogism or to a policy of adventure ever existed;
but as he looked over the case his American instincts were
evidently aroused. He saw then, what is clear to everybody now,
that it was the time of all times for laying down, distinctly and
decisively, the American doctrine on the subject. He did so, and
in a message to Congress proposed that, since Great Britain would
not intrust the finding of a boundary to arbitration, the United
States should appoint commissioners to find what the proper
boundary was, and then, having ascertained it, should support its
sister American republic in maintaining it.

Of course the President was attacked from all sides most
bitterly; even those called "the better element" in the
Republican and Democratic parties, who had been his ardent
supporters, now became his bitter enemies. He was charged with
"demagogism" and "jingoism," but he kept sturdily on. Congress,
including the great body of the Republicans, supported him; the
people at large stood by him; and, as a result, a commission to
determine the boundary was appointed and began its work in
Washington, the commissioners being, in the order named by the
President, David J. Brewer of Kansas, a justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States; Chief Justice Alvey of the District
of Columbia; Andrew D. White of New York; F. R. Coudert, an
eminent member of the New York bar; and Daniel C. Gilman of
Maryland, President of Johns Hopkins University.

On our arrival in Washington there was much discouragement among
us. We found ourselves in a jungle of geographical and legal
questions, with no clue in sight leading anywhither. The rights
of Great Britain had been derived in 1815, from the Netherlands;
the rights of Venezuela had been derived, about 1820, from Spain;
but to find the boundary separating the two in that vast
territory, mainly unsettled, between the Orinoco and the
Essequibo rivers, seemed impossible.

The original rights of the Netherlands had been derived from
Spain by the treaty of Munster in 1648; and on examining that
enormous document, which settled weighty questions in various
parts of the world, after the life-and-death struggle, religious,
political, and military, which had gone on for nearly eighty
years, one little clause arrested our attention: that, namely, in
which the Spaniards, despite their bitter hatred of the Dutch,
agreed that the latter might carry on warlike operations against
"certain other people" with reference to territorial rights in
America. These "certain other people" were not precisely
indicated; and we hoped, by finding who they were, to get a clue
to the fundamental facts of the case. Straightway two of our
three lawyers, Mr. Justice Brewer and Mr. Coudert, grappled on
this question, one of them taking the ground that these "other
people" referred to were the Caribbean Indians who had lived just
south of the mouth of the Orinoco, and had been friendly to the
Dutch but implacable toward the Spaniards, and that their
territory was to be considered as virtually Dutch, and,
therefore, as having passed finally to England. But the other
disputant insisted that it referred to the Brazilians and had no
relation to the question with which we had to deal. During two
whole sessions this ground was fought over in a legal way by
these gentlemen, with great acumen, the rest of us hardly putting
in a word.

At the beginning of the third session I ventured a remonstrance,
saying that it was a historical, and not a legal, question; that
it could not possibly be settled by legal argument; that the
first thing to know was why the clause was inserted in the
treaty, and that the next thing was to find, from the whole
history leading up to it, who those "other persons" thus vaguely
referred to and left by the Spaniards to the tender mercies of
the Dutch might be; and I insisted that this, being a historical
question, must be solved by historical experts. The commission
acknowledged the justice of this; and on my nomination we called
to our aid Mr. George Lincoln Burr, professor of history in
Cornell University. It is not at all the very close friendship
which has existed for so many years between us which prompts the
assertion that, of all historical scholars I have ever known, he
is among the very foremost, by his powers of research, his
tenacity of memory, his almost preternatural accuracy, his
ability to keep the whole field of investigation in his mind, and
his fidelity to truth and justice. He was set at the problem, and
given access to the libraries of Congress and of the State
Department, as also to the large collections of books and maps
which had been placed at the disposal of the commission. Of these
the most important were those of Harvard University and the
University of Wisconsin. Curious as it may seem, this latter
institution, far in the interior of our country, possesses a
large and most valuable collection of maps relating to the
colonization history of South America. Within two weeks Professor
Burr reported, and never did a report give more satisfaction. He
had unraveled, historically, the whole mystery, and found that,
the government of Brazil having played false to both Spaniards
and Dutch, Spain had allowed the Netherlands to take vengeance
for the vexations of both. We also had the exceedingly valuable
services, as to maps and early colonization history, of Mr.
Justin Winsor, librarian of Harvard University, eminent both as
historian and geographer, and of Professor Jameson of Brown
University, who had also distinguished himself in these fields.
Besides these, Mr. Marcus Baker of the United States Coast Survey
aided us, from day to day, in mapping out any territories that we
wished especially to study.

All this work was indispensable. At the very beginning of our
sessions there had been laid before us the first of a series of
British Blue Books on the whole subject; and, with all my
admiration for the better things in British history, politics,
and life, candor compels me to say that it was anything but
creditable to the men immediately responsible for it. It made
several statements that were absolutely baseless, and sought to
rest them upon authorities which, when examined, were found not
to bear in the slightest degree the interpretation put upon them.
I must confess that nothing, save, perhaps, the conduct of
British "experts" regarding the Behring Sea question, has ever
come so near shaking my faith in "British fair play." Nor were
the American commissioners alone in judging this document
severely. Critics broke forth, even in the London "Times,"
denouncing it, until it was supplanted by another, which was fair
and just.

I, of course, impute nothing to the leading British statesmen who
had charge of the whole Venezuelan question. The culprits were,
undoubtedly, sundry underlings whose zeal outran their honesty.
They apparently thought that in the United States, which they
probably considered as new, raw, and too much engaged in
dollar-hunting to produce scholars, their citations from
authorities more or less difficult of access would fail to be
critically examined. But their conduct was soon exposed, and even
their principals joined in repudiating some of their fundamental
statements. Professor Burr was sent abroad, and at The Hague was
able to draw treasures from the library and archives regarding
the old Dutch occupation and to send a mass of important material
for our deliberations. In London also he soon showed his
qualities, and these were acknowledged even by some leading
British geographers. The latter had at first seemed inclined to
indulge in what a German might call "tendency" geography; but the
clearness, earnestness, and honesty of our agent soon gained
their respect, and, after that, the investigators of both sides
worked harmoniously together. While the distinguished lawyers
above named had main charge of the legal questions, President
Gilman, who had in his early life been professor of physical and
general geography at Yale, was given charge of the whole matter
of map-seeking and -making; and to me, with the others, was left
the duty of studying and reporting upon the material as brought
in. Taking up my residence at Washington, I applied myself
earnestly to reading through masses of books, correspondence, and
other documents, and studied maps until I felt as if I had lived
in the country concerned and was personally acquainted with the
Dutch governors on the Cuyuni and the Spanish monks on the
Orinoco. As a result lines more or less tentative were prepared
by each of us, Judge Brewer and myself agreeing very closely, and
the others not being very distant from us at any important point.
One former prime minister of Great Britain I learned, during this
investigation, to respect greatly,--Lord Aberdeen, whom I well
remembered as discredited and driven from power during my stay in
Russia at the time of the Crimean War. He was wise enough in
those days to disbelieve in war with Russia, and to desire a
solution of the Turkish problem by peace, but was overruled, and
the solution was attempted by a war most costly in blood and
treasure, which was apparently successful, but really a failure.
He was driven from his post with ignominy; and I well remembered
seeing a very successful cartoon in "Punch" at that period,
representing him, wearing coronet and mantle and fast asleep, at
the helm of the ship of state, which was rolling in the trough of
the sea and apparently about to founder.

Since that time his wisdom has, I think, been recognized; and I
am now glad to acknowledge the fact that, of all the many British
statesmen who dealt with the Venezuelan question, he was clearly
the most just. The line he drew seemed to me the fairest
possible. He did not attempt to grasp the mouth of the Orinoco,
nor did he meander about choice gold-fields or valuable strategic
points, seeking to include them. The Venezuelans themselves had
shown willingness to accept his proposal; but alleged, as their
reason for not doing so, that the British government had preached
to them regarding their internal policy so offensively that
self-respect forbade them to acquiesce in any part of it.

Toward this Aberdeen line we tended more and more; and in the
sequel we heard, with very great satisfaction, that the
Arbitration Tribunal at Paris had practically adopted this line,
which we of the commission had virtually agreed upon. It need
hardly be stated that, each side having at the beginning of the
arbitration claimed the whole vast territory between the Orinoco
and the Essequibo, neither was quite satisfied with the award.
But I believe it to be thoroughly just, and that it forms a most
striking testimony to the value of international arbitration in
such questions, as a means, not only of preserving international
peace, but of arriving at substantial justice.

Our deliberations and conclusions were, of course, kept secret.
It was of the utmost importance that nothing should get out
regarding them. Our sessions were delayed and greatly prolonged,
partly on account of the amount of work to be done in studying
the many questions involved, and partly because we hoped that,
more and more, British opinion would tend to the submission of
the whole question to the judgment of a proper international
tribunal; and that Lord Salisbury, the prime minister, who, in
his rather cynical, "Saturday-Review," high-Tory way, had scouted
the idea of arbitration, would at last be brought to it. Of
course, every thinking Englishman looked with uneasiness toward
the possibility that a line might be laid down by the United
States which it would feel obliged to maintain, and which would
necessitate its supporting Venezuela, at all hazards, against
Great Britain.

The statesmanship of Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Olney finally
triumphed. Most fortunately for both parties, Great Britain had
at Washington a most eminent diplomatist, whose acquaintance I
then made, but whom I afterward came to know, respect, and admire
even more during the Peace Conference at The Hague--Sir Julian,
afterward Lord, Pauncefote. His wise counsels prevailed; Lord
Salisbury receded from his position; Great Britain agreed to
arbitration; and the question entered into a new stage, which was
finally ended by the award of the Arbitration Tribunal at Paris,
presided over by M. de Martens of St. Petersburg, and having on
its bench the chief justices of the two nations and two of the
most eminent judges of their highest courts. It is with pride and
satisfaction that I find their award agreeing, substantially,
with the line which, after so much trouble, our own commission
had worked out. Arbitration having been decided upon, our
commission refrained from laying down a frontier-line, but
reported a mass of material, some fourteen volumes in all, with
an atlas containing about seventy-five maps, all of which formed
a most valuable contribution to the material laid before the
Court of Arbitration at Paris.

It was a happy solution of the whole question, and it was a
triumph of American diplomacy in the cause of right and justice.

I may mention, in passing, one little matter which throws light
upon a certain disgraceful system to which I have had occasion to
refer at various other times in these memoirs; and I do so now in
the hope of keeping people thinking upon one of the most wretched
abuses in the United States. I have said above that we were, of
course, obliged to maintain the strictest secrecy. To have
allowed our conclusions to get out would have thwarted the whole
purpose of the investigation; but a person who claimed to
represent one of the leading presses in Washington seemed to
think that consideration of no special importance, and came to
our rooms, virtually insisting on receiving information. Having
been told that it could not be given him, he took his revenge by
inserting a sensational paragraph in the papers regarding the
extravagance of the commission. He informed the world that we
were expending large sums of public money in costly furniture, in
rich carpets, and especially in splendid silverware. The fact was
that the rooms were furnished very simply, with plain office
furniture, with cheap carpets, and with a safe for locking up the
more precious documents intrusted to us and such papers as it was
important to keep secret. The "silverware" consisted of two very
plain plated jugs for ice-water; and I may add that after our
adjournment the furniture was so wisely sold that very nearly the
whole expenditure for it was returned into the treasury.

These details would be utterly trivial were it not that, with
others which I have given in other places, they indicate that
prostitution of the press to sensation-mongering which the
American people should realize and reprove.

While I have not gone into minor details of our work, I have
thought that thus much might be interesting. Of course, had these
reminiscences been written earlier, this sketch of the interior
history of the commission would have been omitted; but now, the
award of the Paris tribunal having been made, there is no reason
why secrecy should be longer maintained. Never, before that
award, did any of us, I am sure, indicate to any person what our
view as to the line between the possessions of Venezuela and
Great Britain was; but now we may do so, and I feel that all
concerned may be congratulated on the fact that two tribunals,
each seeking to do justice, united on the same line, and that
line virtually the same which one of the most just of British
statesmen had approved many years before.

During this Venezuela work in Washington I made acquaintance with
many leading men in politics; and among those who interested me
most was Mr. Carlisle of Kentucky, Secretary of the Treasury. He
had been member of Congress, Speaker of the House of
Representatives, and senator, and was justly respected and
admired. Perhaps the most peculiar tribute that I ever heard paid
to a public man was given him once in the House of
Representatives by my friend Mr. Hiscock, then representative,
and afterward senator, from the State of New York. Seated by his
side in the House, and noting the rulings of Mr. Carlisle as
Speaker, I asked, "What sort of man is this Speaker of yours?"
Mr. Hiscock answered, "As you know, he is one of the strongest of
Democrats, and I am one of the strongest of Republicans; yet I
will say this: that my imagination is not strong enough to
conceive of his making an unfair ruling or doing an unfair thing
against the party opposed to him in this House."

Mr. Carlisle's talents were of a very high order. His speeches
carried great weight; and in the campaign which came on later
between Mr. McKinley and Mr. Bryan, he, in my opinion, and indeed
in the opinion, I think, of every leading public man, did a most
honorable thing when he deliberately broke from his party,
sacrificed, apparently, all hopes of political preferment, and
opposed the regular Democratic candidate. His speech before the
working-men of Chicago on the issues of that period was certainly
one of the two most important delivered during the first McKinley
campaign, the other being that of Carl Schurz.

Another man whom I saw from time to time during this period was
the Vice-President, Mr. Stevenson. I first met him at a public
dinner in New York, where we sat side by side; but we merely
talked on generalities. But the next time I met him was at a
dinner given by the Secretary of War, and there I found that he
was one of the most admirable raconteurs I had ever met. After a
series of admirable stories, one of the party said to me: "He
could tell just as good stories as those for three weeks running
and never repeat himself."

One of these stories by the Vice-President, if true, threw a
curious light over the relations of President Lincoln with three
men very distinguished in American annals. It was as follows: One
day, shortly before the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, a
visitor, finding Mr. Lincoln evidently in melancholy mood, said
to him, "Mr. President, I am sorry to find you not feeling so
well as at my last visit." Mr. Lincoln replied: "Yes, I am
troubled. One day the best of our friends from the border States
come in and insist that I shall not issue an Emancipation
Proclamation, and that, if I do so, the border States will
virtually cast in their lot with the Southern Confederacy.
Another day, Charles Sumner, Thad Stevens, and Ben Wade come in
and insist that if I do not issue such a proclamation the North
will be utterly discouraged and the Union wrecked,--and, by the
way, these three men are coming in this very afternoon." At this
moment his expression changed, his countenance lighted up, and he
said to the visitor, who was from the West, "Mr. ----, did you
ever go to a prairie school?" "No," said the visitor, "I never
did." "Well," said Mr. Lincoln, "I did, and it was a very poor
school, and we were very poor folks,--too poor to have regular
reading-books, and so we brought our Bibles and read from them.
One morning the chapter was from the Book of Daniel, and a little
boy who sat next me went all wrong in pronouncing the names of
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The teacher had great difficulty
in setting him right, and before he succeeded was obliged to
scold the boy and cuff him for his stupidity. The nest verse came
to me, and so the chapter went along down the class. Presently it
started on its way back, and soon after I noticed that the little
fellow began crying. On this I asked him, 'What's the matter with
you?' and he answered, 'Don't you see? Them three miserable
cusses are coming back to me again.'"

I also at that period made the acquaintance of Senator Gray of
Delaware, who seemed to me ideally fitted for his position as a
member of the Upper House in Congress. Speaker Reed also made a
great impression upon me as a man of honesty, lucidity, and
force. The Secretary of State, Mr. Olney, I saw frequently, and
was always impressed by the sort of bulldog tenacity which had
gained his victory over Lord Salisbury in the arbitration matter.

But to give even the most hasty sketch of the members of the
Supreme Court, the cabinet, and of both houses of Congress whom I
met would require more time than is at my disposal.

This stay in Washington I enjoyed much. Our capital city is
becoming the seat of a refined hospitality which makes it more
and more attractive. Time was, and that not very long since, when
it was looked upon as a place of exile by diplomatists, and as
repulsive by many of our citizens; but all that is of the past:
the courtesy shown by its inhabitants is rapidly changing its

Perhaps, of all the social enjoyments of that time, the most
attractive to me was an excursion of the American Geographical
Society to Monticello, the final residence of President
Jefferson. Years before, while visiting the University of
Virginia at Charlottesville, I had been intensely interested in
that creation of Mr. Jefferson and in the surroundings of his
home; but the present occupant of Monticello, having been greatly
annoyed by visitors, was understood to be reluctant to allow any
stranger to enter the mansion, and I would not intrude upon him.
But now house and grounds were freely thrown open, and upon a
delightful day. The house itself was a beautiful adaptation of
the architecture which had reached its best development at the
time of Jefferson's stay in France; and the decorations, like
those which I had noted years before in some of the rooms of the
university, were of an exquisite Louis Seize character.

Jefferson's peculiarities, also, came out in various parts of the
house. Perhaps the most singular was his bed, occupying the whole
space of an archway between two rooms, one of which, on the left,
served as a dressing-room for him, and the other, on the right,
for Mrs. Jefferson; and, there being no communication between
them save by a long circuit through various rooms, it was evident
that the ex-President had made up his mind that he would not have
his intimate belongings interfered with by any of the women of
the household, not even by his wife.

But most attractive of all was the view through the valleys and
over the neighboring hills as we sat at our picnic-tables on the
lawn. Having read with care every line of Jefferson's letters
ever published, and some writings of his which have never been
printed, my imagination was vivid. It enabled me to see him
walking through the rooms and over the estate, receiving
distinguished guests under the portico, discussing with them at
his dinner-table the great questions of the day, and promulgating
his theories, some of which were so beneficent and others so

The only sad part of this visit was to note the destruction, by
the fire not long before, of the columns in front of the rotunda
of the university. I especially mourned over the calcined remains
of their capitals, for into these Jefferson had really wrought
his own heart. With a passion for the modern adaptation of
classic architecture, he had poured the very essence of his
artistic feelings into them. He longed to see every stroke which
his foreign sculptors made upon them. Daily, according to the
chronicle of the time, he rode over to see how they progressed,
and, between his visits, frequently observed them through his
telescope; and now all their work was but calcined limestone.
Fortunately, the burning of the old historical buildings aroused
public spirit; large sums of money were poured into the
university treasury; and the work was in process which, it is to
be hoped, will restore the former beauty of the colonnade and
largely increase the buildings and resources of the institution.

During my work upon the commission I learned to respect more and
more the calm, steady, imperturbable character of Mr. Cleveland.
Of course the sensational press howled continually, and the press
which was considered especially enlightened and which had
steadily supported him up to this period, was hardly less bitter;
but he persevered. During the period taken by the commission for
its work, both the American and British peoples had time for calm
thought. Lord Salisbury, especially, had time to think better of
it; and when he at last receded from his former haughty position
and accepted arbitration, Mr. Cleveland and the State Department
gained one of the most honorable victories in the history of
American diplomacy.



On the 1st of April, 1897, President McKinley nominated me
ambassador to Berlin; and, the appointment having been duly
confirmed by the Senate, I visited Washington to obtain
instructions and make preparations. One of the most important of
these preparations was the securing of a second secretary for the
embassy. A long list of applicants for this position had
appeared, several with strong backing from party magnates,
cabinet officers, and senators; but, though all of them seemed
excellent young men, very few had as yet any experience likely to
be serviceable, and a look over the list suggested many
misgivings. There was especially needed just then at Berlin a
second secretary prepared to aid in disentangling sundry
important questions already before the embassy. The first
secretary, whom no person thought of displacing, was ideally
fitted for his place--in fact, was fitted for any post in the
diplomatic service; but a second secretary was needed to take, as
an expert, a mass of work on questions relating to commerce and
manufactures which were just then arising between the two nations
in shapes new and even threatening.

While the whole matter was under advisement, there appeared a
young man from Ohio, with no backing of any sort save his record.
He had distinguished himself at one of our universities as a
student in political economy and international law; had then
taken a fellowship in the same field at another university; and
had finally gone to Germany and there taken his degree, his
graduating thesis being on "The Commercial and Diplomatic
Relations between the United States and Germany." In preparing
this he had been allowed to work up a mass of material in our
embassy archives, and had afterward expanded his thesis into a
book which had gained him credit. As the most serious questions
between the two countries were commercial, he seemed a godsend;
and, going to the President, I stated the matter fully. Though
the young man was as far as possible from having any "pull" in
the State from which he came, was not at all known either to the
President or the Secretary of State or assistant secretary of
state, all of whom came from Ohio, and was equally unknown to
either of the Ohio senators or to any representative, and though
nothing whatever was known of his party affiliations, the
President, on hearing a statement of the case, ignored all
pressure in favor of rival candidates, sent in his nomination to
the Senate, and it was duly confirmed.

The next thing was the appointment of a military attache. The
position is by no means a sinecure. Our government must always
feel the importance of receiving the latest information as to the
armies and navies of the great powers of the world; and therefore
it is that, very wisely, it has attached military and naval
experts to various leading embassies. It is important that these
be not only thoroughly instructed and far-seeing, but gentlemen
in the truest sense of the word; and I therefore presented a
graduate of West Point who, having conducted an expedition in
Alaska and served with his regiment on the Western plains most
creditably, had done duty as military attache with me during my
mission at St. Petersburg, and had proved himself, in every
respect, admirable. Though he had no other supporter at the
national capital, the Secretary of War, Governor Alger, granted
my request, and he was appointed.

These matters, to many people apparently trivial, are here
alluded to because it is so often charged that political
considerations outweigh all others in such appointments, and
because this charge was frequently made against President
McKinley. The simple fact is that, with the multitude of
nominations to be made, the appointing power cannot have personal
knowledge of the applicants, and must ask the advice of persons
who have known them and can, to some extent, be held responsible
for them. In both the cases above referred to, political pressure
of the strongest in favor of other candidates went for nothing
against the ascertained interest of the public service.

The Secretary of State at this time was Mr. John Sherman. I had
known him somewhat during his career as senator and Secretary of
the Treasury, and had for his character, abilities, and services
the most profound respect. I now saw him often. He had become
somewhat infirm, but his mind seemed still clear; whether at the
State Department or in social circles his reminiscences of public
men and affairs were always interesting, and one of these
confirmed an opinion I have expressed in another chapter. One
night, at a dinner-party, the discussion having fallen upon
President Andrew Johnson, and some slighting remarks having been
made regarding him by one of our company, Mr. Sherman, who had
been one of President Johnson's strongest opponents, declared him
a man of patriotic motives as well as of great ability, and
insisted that the Republican party had made a great mistake in
attempting to impeach him. In the course of the conversation one
of the foremost members of the House of Representatives, a man of
the highest standing and character, stated that he had himself,
when a young man, aided Mr. Johnson as secretary, and that he was
convinced that the ex-President could write very little more than
his signature. We had all heard the old story that after he had
become of age his newly wedded wife had taught him the alphabet,
but it was known to very few that he remained to the last so
imperfectly equipped.

Of conversations with many other leading men of that period at
Washington I remember that, at the house of my friend Dr. Hill,
afterward assistant secretary of state, mention being made of the
Blaine campaign, an eminent justice of the Supreme Court said
that Mr. Blaine always insisted to the end of his life that he
had lost the Presidency on account of the Rev. Dr. Burchard's
famous alliteration, "Rum, Romanism, and rebellion," and that the
whole was really a Democratic trick. Neither the judge nor any
other person present believed that Mr. Blaine's opinion in this
matter was well founded.

An important part of my business during this visit was to confer
with the proper persons at Washington, including the German
ambassador, Baron von Thielmann, regarding sundry troublesome
questions between the United States and Germany. The addition to
the American tariff of a duty against the sugar imports from
every other country equivalent to the sugar bounty allowed
manufactures in that country had led to special difficulties. It
had been claimed by Germany that this additional duty was
contrary to the most-favored-nation clause in our treaties; and,
unfortunately, the decisions on our side had been conflicting,
Mr. Gresham, Secretary of State under Mr. Cleveland, having
allowed that the German contention was right, and his successor,
Mr. Olney, having presented an elaborate argument to show that it
was wrong. On this point, conversations, not only with the
Secretary of State and the German ambassador, but with leading
members of the committees of Congress having the tariff in
charge, and especially with Mr. Allison and Mr. Aldrich of the
Senate and Governor Dingley of the House, showed me that the case
was complicated, the various interests somewhat excited against
each other, and that my work in dealing with them was to be

There were also several other questions no less difficult, those
relating to the exportation of American products to Germany and
the troubles already brewing in Samoa being especially prominent;
so that it was with anything but an easy feeling that, on the
29th of May, I sailed from New York.

On the 12th of June I presented the President's letter of
credence to the Emperor William II. The more important of my new
relations to the sovereign had given me no misgivings; for during
my stay in Berlin as minister, eighteen years before, I had found
him very courteous, he being then the heir apparent; but with the
ceremonial part it was otherwise, and to that I looked forward
almost with dismay.

For, since my stay in Berlin, the legation had been raised to an
embassy. It had been justly thought by various patriotic members
of Congress that it was incompatible, either with the dignity or
the interests of so great a nation as ours, to be represented
simply by a minister plenipotentiary, who, when calling at the
Foreign Office to transact business, might be obliged to wait for
hours, and even until the next day, while representatives from
much less important countries who ranked as ambassadors went in
at once. The change was good, but in making it Congress took no
thought of some things which ought to have been provided for. Of
these I shall speak later; but as regards the presentation, the
trying feature to me was that there was a great difference
between this and any ceremonial which I had previously
experienced, whether as commissioner at Santo Domingo and Paris,
or as minister at Berlin and St. Petersburg. At the presentation
of a minister plenipotentiary he goes in his own carriage to the
palace at the time appointed; is ushered into the presence of the
sovereign; delivers to him, with some simple speech, the
autograph letter from the President; and then, after a kindly
answer, all is finished. But an ambassador does not escape so
easily. Under a fiction of international law he is regarded as
the direct representative of the sovereign power of his country,
and is treated in some sense as such. Therefore it was that, at
the time appointed, a high personage of the court, in full
uniform, appeared at my hotel accompanied by various other
functionaries, with three court carriages, attendants, and
outriders, deputed to conduct me to the palace. Having been
escorted to the first of the carriages,--myself, in plain
citizen's dress, on the back seat; my escort, in gorgeous
uniform, facing me; and my secretaries and attaches in the other
carriages,--we took up our march in solemn procession--carriages,
outriders, and all--through the Wilhelmstrasse and Unter den
Linden. On either side was a gaping crowd; at the various corps
de garde bodies of troops came out and presented arms; and on our
arrival at the palace there was a presentation of arms and
beating of drums which, for the moment, somewhat abashed me. It
was an ordeal more picturesque than agreeable.

The reception by the Emperor was simple, courteous, and kindly.
Neither of us made any set speech, but we discussed various
questions, making reference to our former meeting and the changes
which had occurred since. Among these changes I referred to the
great improvement in Berlin, whereupon he said that he could not
think the enormous growth of modern cities an advantage. My
answer was that my reference was to the happy change in the
architecture of Berlin rather than to its growth in population;
that, during my first stay in the city, over forty years before,
nearly all the main buildings were of brick and stucco, whereas
there had now been a remarkable change from stucco to stone and
to a much nobler style of architecture. We also discussed the
standing of Germans in America and their relations to the United
States. On my remarking that it was just eighteen years and one
day since the first Emperor William had received me as minister
in that same palace, he spoke of various things in the history of
the intervening years; and then ensued an episode such as I had
hardly expected. For just before leaving New York my old friend
Frederick William Holls, after a dinner at his house on the
Hudson, had given his guests examples of the music written by
Frederick the Great, and one piece had especially interested us.
It was a duet in which Mr. Holls played one part upon the organ,
and his wife another upon the piano; and all of us were greatly
impressed by the dignity and beauty of the whole. It had been
brought to light and published by the present Emperor, and after
the performance some one of the party remarked, in a jocose way,
"You should express our thanks to his Majesty, when you meet him,
for the pleasure which this music has given us." I thought
nothing more of the subject until, just at the close of the
conversation above referred to, it came into my mind; and on my
mentioning it the Emperor showed at once a special interest,
discussing the music from various points of view; and on my
telling him that we were all surprised that it was not
amateurish, but really profound in its harmonies and beautiful in
its melodies, he dwelt upon the musical debt of Frederick the
Great to Bach and the special influence of Bach upon him. This
conversation recurred to me later, when the Emperor, in erecting
the statue to Frederick the Great on the Avenue of Victory,
placed on one side of it the bust of Marshal Schwerin, and on the
other that of Johann Sebastian Bach, thus honoring the two men
whom he considered most important during Frederick's reign.

After presenting my embassy secretaries and attaches, military
and naval, I was conducted with them into the presence of the
Empress, who won all our hearts by her kindly, unaffected
greeting. On my recalling her entrance into Berlin as a bride, in
her great glass coach, seventeen years before, on one of the
coldest days I ever knew, she gave amusing details of her stately
progress down the Linden on that occasion; and in response to my
congratulations upon her six fine boys and her really charming
little daughter, it was pleasant to see how

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,"

her eyes lighting up with pride and joy, and her conversation
gladly turning to the children.

It may be added here that the present Empress seems to have
broken the unfortunate spell which for about half a century hung
over the queens and empresses of the house of Hohenzollern. I
remember well that, among the Germans whom I knew in my
Berlin-University days, all the sins of the period, political and
religious, seemed to be traced to the influence of Queen
Elizabeth, the consort of the reigning King Frederick William IV;
and that, during my first official stay in the same capital as
minister, a similar feeling was shown toward the Empress Augusta,
in spite of her most kindly qualities and her devotion to every
sort of charitable work; and that the crown princess, afterward
the Empress Frederick, in spite of all her endowments of head and
heart, was apparently more unpopular than either of her two
predecessors. But the present Empress seems to have changed all
this, and, doubtless, mainly by her devotion to her husband and
her children, which apparently excludes from her mind all care
for the great problems of the universe outside her family. So
strong is this feeling of kindness toward her that it was comical
to see, at one period during my stay, when she had been brought
perilously near a most unpopular course of action, that everybody
turned at once upon her agent in the matter, saying nothing about
her, but belaboring him unmercifully, though he was one of the
most attractive of men.

These presentations being finished, our return to the Kaiserhof
Hotel was made with the same ceremony as that with which we had
come to the palace, and happy was I when all was over.

Of the other official visits at this time, foremost in importance
was that to the chancellor of the empire, Prince Hohenlohe.
Although he was then nearly eighty years old and bent with age,
his mind in discussing public matters was entirely clear. Various
later conversations with him also come back to me--one,
especially, at a dinner he gave at the chancellor's palace to
President Harrison. On my recalling the fact that we were in the
room where I had first dined with Bismarck, Prince Hohenlohe gave
a series of reminiscences of his great predecessor, some of them
throwing a strong light upon his ideas and methods. On one
occasion, at my own table, he spoke very thoughtfully on German
characteristics, and one of his remarks surprised me: it was that
the besetting sin of the Germans is envy (Neid); in which remark
one may see a curious tribute to the tenacity of the race, since
Tacitus justified a similar opinion. He seemed rather melancholy;
but he had a way of saying pungent things very effectively, and
one of these attributed to him became widely known. He was
publicly advocating a hotly contested canal bill, when an
opponent said, "You will find a solid rock in the way of this
measure"; to which the chancellor rejoined, "We will then do with
the rock as Moses did: we will smite it and get water for our

As to the next visit of importance, I was especially glad to find
at the Foreign Office the newly appointed minister, Baron (now
Count) von Bulow. During the first part of my former stay, as
minister, I had done business at the Foreign Office with his
father, and found him in every respect a most congenial
representative of the German Government. It now appeared that
father and son were amazingly like each other, not only in
personal manner, but in their mode of dealing with public
affairs. With the multitude of trying questions which pressed
upon me as ambassador during nearly six years, it hardly seems
possible that I should be still alive were it not for the genial,
hearty intercourse, at the Foreign Office and elsewhere, with
Count von Bulow. Sundry German papers, indeed, attacked him as
yielding to much to me, and sundry American papers attacked me
for yielding too much to him; but both of us exerted ourselves to
do the best possible, each for his own country, and at the same
time to preserve peace and increase good feeling.

Interesting was it to me, from my first to my last days in
Berlin, to watch him in the discharge of his great duties,
especially in his dealings with hostile forces in Parliament. No
contrast could be more marked than that between his manner and
that of his great predecessor, the iron chancellor. To begin
with, no personalities could be more unlike. In the place of an
old man, big, rumbling, heavy, fiery, minatory, objurgatory,
there now stood a young man, quiet, self-possessed, easy in
speech, friendly in manner, "sweet reasonableness" apparently his
main characteristic, bubbling at times with humor, quick to turn
a laugh on a hostile bungler, but never cruel; prompt in
returning a serious thrust, but never venomous. Many of his
speeches were masterpieces in their way of handling opponents. An
attack which Bismarck would have met with a bludgeon, Bulow
parried with weapons infinitely lighter, but in some cases really
more effective. A very good example was on an occasion when the
old charge of "Byzantinism" was flung at the present regime, to
which he replied, not by a historical excursus or political
disquisition, but by humorously deprecating a comparison of the
good, kindly, steady-going, hard-working old privy councilors and
other state officials of Berlin with fanatics, conspirators, and
assassins who played leading parts at Constantinople during the
decline of the Eastern Empire. In the most stormy discussions I
never saw him other than serene; under real provocation he
remained kindly; more than one bitter opponent he disarmed with a
retort; but there were no poisoned wounds. The German Parliament,
left to itself, can hardly be a peaceful body. The lines of
cleavage between parties are many, and some of them are old
chasms of racial dislike and abysses of religious and social
hate; but the appearance of the young chancellor at his desk
seemed, even on the darkest days, to bring sunshine.

Occasionally, during my walks in the Thiergarten, I met him on
his way to Parliament; and, no matter how pressing public
business might be, he found time to extend his walk and prolong
our discussions. On one of these walks I alluded to a hot debate
of the day before and to his suavity under provocation, when he
answered: "Old ----, many years ago, gave me two counsels, and I
have always tried to mind them. These were: 'Never worry; never
lose your temper.'"

A pet phrase among his critics is that he is a diplomatist and
not a statesman. Like so many antitheses, this is misleading. It
may be just to say that his methods are, in general, those of a
diplomatist rather than of a statesman; but certain it is that in
various debates of my time he showed high statesmanlike
qualities, and notably at the beginning of the war with China and
in sundry later contests with the agrarians and socialists. Even
his much criticized remark during the imbroglio between Turkey
and Greece, picturing Germany as laying down her flute and
retiring from the "European Concert," which to many seemed mere
persiflage, was the humorous presentation of a policy dictated by
statesmanship. Nor were all his addresses merely light and
humorous; at times, when some deep sentiment had been stirred, he
was eloquent, rising to the height of great arguments and taking
broad views.

No one claims that he is a Richelieu, a William Pitt, or a
Cavour; but the work of such men is not what the German Empire
just now requires. The man needed at present is the one who can
keep things GOING, who can minimize differences, resist
extremists, turn aside marplots, soothe doctrinaires, and thus
give the good germs in the empire a chance to grow. For this work
it would be hard to imagine a better man than the present
chancellor. His selection and retention by the Emperor prove that
the present monarch has inherited two of the best qualities of
his illustrious grandfather: skill in recognizing the right man
and firmness in standing by him.

The next thing which an ambassador is expected to do, after
visiting the great representatives of the empire, is to become
acquainted with the official world in general.

But he must make acquaintance with these under his own roof. On
his arrival he is expected to visit the Emperor and the princes
of his family, the imperial chancellor, and the minister of
foreign affairs, but all others are expected to visit him; hence
the most pressing duty on my arrival was to secure a house, and,
during three months following, all the time that I could possibly
spare, and much that I ought not to have spared, was given to
excursions into all parts of the city to find it. No house, no
ambassador. A minister plenipotentiary can live during his first
year in a hotel or in a very modest apartment; an ambassador
cannot. He must have a spacious house fully furnished before he
can really begin his duties; for, as above stated, one of the
first of these duties is to make the acquaintance of the official
world,--the ministers of the crown, the diplomatic corps, the
members of the Imperial Parliament, the members of the Prussian
legislature, the foremost men in the army and navy, and the
leaders in public life generally,--and to this end he must give
three very large receptions, at which all those personages visit
him. This is a matter of which the court itself takes charge, so
far as inviting and presenting the guests is concerned, high
court officials being sent to stand by the side of the ambassador
and ambassadress and make the introductions to them; but, as
preliminary to all this, the first thing is to secure a residence
fit for such receptions and for entertainments in connection with

Under the rules of European nations generally, these receptions
must be held at the ambassador's permanent residence; but,
unfortunately, such a thing as a large furnished apartment
suitable for a foreign representative is rarely to be found in
Berlin. In London and Paris such apartments are frequently
offered, but in Berlin hardly ever. Every other nation which
sends an ambassador to Berlin--and the same is true as regards
the other large capitals of Europe--owns a suitable house, or at
least holds a long lease of a commodious apartment; but, although
President Cleveland especially recommended provision for such
residence in one of his messages, nothing has yet been done by
the American Congress, and the consequence is that every
ambassador has to lose a great amount of valuable time, effort,
and money in securing proper quarters, while his country loses
much of its proper prestige and dignity by constant changes in
the location of its embassy, and by the fact that the American
representative is not infrequently obliged to take up his
residence in unfit apartments and in an unsuitable part of the

After looking at dozens of houses, the choice was narrowed down
to two; but, as one was nearly three miles from the center of the
city, selection was made of the large apartment which I occupied
during nearly four years, and which was bought from under my feet
by one of the smallest governments in Europe as the residence for
its minister. Immediately after my lease was signed there began a
new series of troubles. Everything must be ready for the three
receptions by the eighth day of January; and, being at the mercy
of my landlord, I was at a great disadvantage. Though paying
large rent for the apartment, I was obliged, at my own expense,
to put it thoroughly in order, introducing electric light,
perfecting heating apparatus, getting walls and floors in order,
and doing a world of work which, under other circumstances, would
have been done by the proprietor himself. As to furnishing, a
peculiar difficulty arose. Berlin furnishers, as a rule, have
only samples in stock, and a long time is required for completing
sets. My former experience, when, as minister, I had been obliged
to go through a similar ordeal, had shown me that the Berlin
makers could never be relied upon to get the apartment furnished
in time; and therefore it was that, having secured what was
possible in Berlin, I was obliged to make large purchases at
Dresden, London, and Paris, and to have the furniture from the
last-named city hurried on to Berlin in special wadded cars, with
attendants to put it in place. It was a labor and care to which
no representative of the United States or of any other power
ought to be subjected. The vexations and difficulties seemed
unending; but at last carpenters, paper-hangers, electric-light
men, furniture men, carpet-layers, upholsterers, and the like
were driven from the house just five minutes before the
chancellor of the empire arrived to open the first of these three
official receptions. Happily they all went off well, and thereby
began my acquaintance with the leaders in various departments of
official life.

On my settling down to the business of the embassy, it appeared
that the changes in public sentiment since my former stay as
minister, eighteen years before, were great indeed. At that time
German feeling was decidedly friendly to the United States. The
Germans had sided with us in our Civil War, and we had come out
victorious; we had sided with them in their war of 1870-1871, and
they had come out victorious. But all this was now changed.
German feeling toward us had become generally adverse and, in
some parts of the empire, bitterly hostile. The main cause of
this was doubtless our protective policy. Our McKinley tariff,
which was considered almost ruinous to German manufactures, had
been succeeded by the Dingley tariff, which went still further;
and as Germany, in the last forty years, had developed an amazing
growth of manufactures, much bitterness resulted.

Besides this, our country was enabled, by its vast extent of
arable land, as well as by its cheap conveyance and skilful
handling of freights, to sweep into the German markets
agricultural products of various sorts, especially meats, and to
undersell the native German producers. This naturally vexed the
landed proprietors, so that we finally had against us two of the
great influential classes in the empire: the manufacturers and
the landowners.

But this was not all. These real difficulties were greatly
increased by fictitious causes of ill feeling. Sensational
articles, letters, telegrams, caricatures, and the like, sent
from America to Germany and from Germany to America, had become
more and more exasperating, until, at the time of my arrival,
there were in all Germany but two newspapers of real importance
friendly to the United States. These two journals courageously
stood up for fairness and justice, but all the others were more
or less hostile, and some bitterly so. The one which, on account
of its zeal in securing news, I read every morning was of the
worst. During the Spanish War it was especially virulent, being
full of statements and arguments to show that corruption was the
main characteristic of our government, cowardice of our army and
navy, and hypocrisy of our people. Very edifying were its
quasi-philosophical articles; and one of these, showing the
superiority of the Spanish women to their American sisters,
especially as regards education, was a work of genius. The love
of Spanish women for bull-fights was neatly glossed over, and
various absurd charges against American women were put in the
balance against it. A few sensational presses on our side were
perhaps worse. Various newspapers in America repaid Teutonic
hostility by copious insults directed at everything German, and
this aroused the Germans yet more. One journal, very influential
among the aristocratic and religious public of Northern Germany,
regularly published letters of considerable literary merit from
its American correspondent, in which every scandal which could be
raked out of the gutters of the cities, every crime in the
remotest villages, and all follies of individuals everywhere,
were kneaded together into statements showing that our country
was the lowest in the scale of human civilization. The tu-quoque
argument might have been used by an American with much effect;
for just about this period there were dragging along, in the
Berlin and other city journals, accounts of German trials for
fraud and worse, surpassing, in some respects, anything within my
memory of American tribunals. The quantity of fig-leaves required
in some of these trials was enormous; and, despite all
precautions, some details which escaped into the press might well
bring a blush to the most hardened American offender. It was both
vexatious and comical to see the smug, Pharisaical way in which
many journals ignored all these things, and held up their hands
in horror at American shortcomings. Some trials, too, which at
various times revealed the brutality of sundry military officers
toward soldiers, were heartrending; and especially one or two
duels, which occurred during my stay, presented features
calculated to shock the toughest American rough-rider. But all
this seemed not for a moment to withdraw the attention of our
Teutonic censors from American folly and wickedness. One of the
main charges constantly made was that in America there was a
"Deutschen Hetze." Very many German papers had really persuaded
themselves, and apparently had convinced a large part of the
German people, that throughout our country there existed a hate,
deep and acrid, of everything German and especially of
German-Americans. The ingenuity of some German papers in
supporting this thesis was wonderful. On one occasion a petty
squabble in a Roman Catholic theological school in the United
States between the more liberal element and a reactionary German
priest, in which the latter came to grief, was displayed as an
evidence that the American people were determined to drive out
all German professors and to abjure German science. The doings of
every scapegrace in an American university, of every silly woman
in Chicago, of every blackguard in New York, of every snob at
Newport, of every desperado in the Rocky Mountains, of every club
loafer anywhere, were served up as typical examples of American
life. The municipal governments of our country, and especially
that of New York, were an exhaustless quarry from which specimens
of every kind of scoundrelism were drawn and used in building up

Book of the day: