1 OCTOBER 1921, Page 6


TIIE second instalment of the correspondence of the late Mr. Page, formerly American. Ambassador in London, which is being published in the World's Work, is as interesting as the first. We are glad to think that there are many more letters to come. This second instalment confirms our early impression that Mr. Page's conception of the duties of an American Ambassador was the only sound one. Before the war and during the war he was " first and last " a good American and never pretended to be anything else. Indeed, he considered that an Am- bassador who did not regard it as his primary function to fight for the interests of his own country would bid' dentally forfeit the esteem of Englishmen. In that conviction we are sure he was absolutely right. lie was scrupulously upright ; he was always anxious that his country should be the champion of square deals but he seemed to be longing for little points of disagree- ment to arise in order that he might prove how good an American he was and how fairly and courteously he could state his case.

One would think that this fine conception of his duties. And his very obvious Americanism, would have saved him_ from the attacks of the Anglophobes in his oscn country. But not so. The reason was not that the Anglophobeereally found any subservience to Great Britain in the Ambassador's speeches or acts, but that they wanted to pour abuse on Great Britain in any case. Any excuse was good enough.. For example, when Mr. Page spoke in commemoration of the `Mayflower' Pilgrims at South- ampton in August, 1913, he stated in very graceful and eloquent language facts which cannot be disputed because they are part of history. " Blood," he said, carried with it that particular trick of thought which made Americans English in the last resort." Thus, in spite of all the fusion of races in America the American nation was still " English- led and English-ruled." These last words caused a great outburst of anger in the United States, and it was only the first of several similar outbursts. Yet every serious historian acknowledges that the structure of American life, both political and social, is built upon English origins, upon the English form of religion, and above all, perhaps, upon the English Common Law. That is why Americans are " English-led and English-ruled "—led and ruled in the broad historical sense of a tradition which has been handed down, and not of course led or ruled even remotely by any British Government. As Mr. W. S. Rossiter, who was for many years chief clerk of the United States Census, has pointed out, 55,000,000 Americans trace their origin, however far back, to England, Scotland, and Wales. And among their names are to be found those of most of the great political leaders. Only perversity could have caused Mr. Page's words to be misunderstood. But that perversity was forthcoming. Mr. Page on this occasion, and on other similar occasions, blamed the Irish in America. We have no doubt that he was right. Referring to his Southampton speech, he said in a letter to President Wilson : " Of course it was a harmless courtesy—no bowing low to the British or any such thing " ; and he adds, " These Anglophobiacs—Irish and Panama—hound me wherever I go."

Although he deplored and resented the abuse, Mr. Page was far too strong a man to alter his method. He knew how to deal with Englishmen and how not to deal with them. " These people," he wrote to President Wilson, " are infinitely kind and friendly and courteous. They cannot be driven by anybody to do anything, but they can be led by us to do anything by the use of spon- taneous courtesy." To all these letters the question of the Panama tolls forms the background. Mr. Page was intent upon a magnificent gesture of international honesty. We can hardly say what a pleasure it is to read these letters when one compares them, as one cannot help doing, with the diplomatic correspondence of many other countries. There is in them nothing cunning, nothing diplomatically over-clever, nothing histrionic, nothing cynical. They represent the direct thoughts of a man intent upon the keeping of promises and the preservation of good faith. Mr. Page knew perfectly well that if his Government gave preferential treatment to American shipping contrary to the spirit of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty he would again be accused of " bowing low" to Great Britain. He therefore suggested that President Wilson in his speeches should take the line that America was great and strong and wealthy enough to be without envy of any other country, and that the real trucklers to Great Britain were those who appeared to be afraid of her—in short the Anglophobes. The wild Irish ! " he wrote to President Wilson—" they must be sat upon sometime. Why not now ? "

The understanding between Mr. Page and Sir Edward Grey during all this controversy was complete. After one conversation with the Ambassador, Sir Edward Grey said that he proposed to make a speech in the House of Commons on The proper way for great governments to deal with one another." The news that the Senate, after a very long and stormy debate, had at last consented to waive the preference for American shipping arrived in London when Mr. and Mrs. Page were at a ball at Bucking- ham Palace. The editor of the letters says :— " The word was rapidly passed from guest to guest, and the American Ambassador and his wife soon found themselves the Centre of a company which could hardly restrain itself in ex- ressing its admiration for the United States. Never in the

history of the country had American prestige stood so high as that night."

We have not space to go Into Mr. Page's philosophical discussion of European policy. Enough to indicate that he conceived several years in advance of the Covenant something in the nature of mandate territories. I wonder," he says, " if we could not serve notice that the land-stealing game is for ever ended, and that the clearing up of backward lands is now in order." He then suggests that America might clear up Mexico for the good of the Mexicans. A doubt of course at once occurs to us. America is in the Philippines no doubt for the good of the Filipinos ; she watches over Cuba and has a naval station there no doubt for the good of the Cubans ; she is in Haiti and San Domingo and Panama also for like reasons. What is called " land-stealing " by Europeans, however, was often done for reasons which apparently would have seemed to be very good to Mr. Page. But we must not open a debate on this subject. Let us go on to the extraordinarily interesting revela- tions about Colonel House's visit in May, 1914, to Germany. Colonel House was the missionary of a scheme for an inter- national peace pact which had been thought out by President Wilson, Mr. Page, and Colonel House himself. Colonel House saw most of the principal men in Berlin and was terribly oppressed by the militaristic atmosphere. He had no doubt whatever that the military party was high in the ascendant. Admiral von Tirpitz listened to the missionary cynically. " He simply bristled with antagonism," says the editor, " at any suggestion of peace, disarmament, or world co-operation," and he consumed a large part of the time which Colonel House spent with him " denouncing England and all its works.' At last Colonel House was received by the Emperor himself. We are told that the Emperor hardly gave, his visitor a chance to speak :— " His speech rattled on with the utmost animation ; his arms were constantly gesticulating, he would bring one fist down into his palm to register an emphatic point, he would stop abruptly m his walk, and enforce certain ideas with a menacing forefinger."

The subject which mainly aroused the Imperial warmth was the Yellow Peril. According to the Kaiser, there could be no question of disarmament 80 long as this danger existed. The Kaiser spoke of Mr. Bryan's Arbitration Treaty with derision. Altogether Colonel House formed the opinion that the .Kaiser was a man of " unstable nervous organization—one who was just hovering on the border line of insanity." Colonel House then hurried to London, full of fore- bodings that a man like the Kaiser should be entrusted with such powers, and discussed his pact with Mr. Asquith and the Liberal Ministers. The Government did not believe in the possibility of war, and seemed to think that there was " no necessity to hurry." That was a few weeks before the war began. Colonel House was inclined to think that if the British Government had been more alert the pact might have become a reality and the war might have been prevented. To this Mr. Page, with perfect justice as we believe, replied :— " No, no, no—no power on earth could have prevented it. The German militarism, which is the crime of the last fifty years, has been working for this for twenty-five years. It is the logical result of their spirit and enterprise and doctrine. It had to come. But, of course, they chose the wrong time and the wrong issue. Militarism has no judgment. Don't let your conscience be worried. You did all that any mortal man could do. But nobody could have done anything effective. We've got to see to it that this system doesn't grow up again. That's all."

If British readers of these letters do not see that the prevention of international dishonesty and outrage in future lies with the nation whose representatives wrote these letters, and with the nation whose representatives were so highly praised and trusted by Mr. Page, they must be blind indeed. " We have got to see to it that complete Anglo-American co-operation comes about. That's all," as Mr. Page himself might have said.