The Autobiography of a Journalist, Volume II
William James Stillman

Part 4 out of 5

have ever known, sound to the core, and with an almost unlimited
intellectual vitality and an individuality which nothing could
infringe on, but which a singular sensitiveness towards others
prevented from ever wounding even the most morbid sensibility; a
strong man armed in the completest defensive armor, but with no
aggressive quality. His was a nature of utter sincerity, and what had
seemed to me, reading his poetry before knowing him, to be more or
less an affectation of obscurity, a cultivation of the cryptic sense,
I found to be the pure expression of his individuality. He made short
cuts to the heart of his theme, perhaps more unconscious than uncaring
that his line of approach could not be followed by his general
readers, as a mathematician leaves a large hiatus in his
demonstration, seeing the result the less experienced must work out
step by step.

At Cortina, too, I saw again Gladstone, late in the summer, when the
place was abandoned by the general crowd. I had begun a study of
running water, over which I lingered as long as the weather permitted,
when he came with Mrs. Gladstone and his son Herbert and daughter
Helen. The old man was full of physical and mental energy, and we had
several moderate climbs in the mountains of the vicinity. They had
not come out to be together as at home, and each took generally
a different walk. Gladstone was a good walker, and talked by the
way,--which not all good walkers can do,--but I do not remember his
ever talking of himself; and in this he was like Ruskin,--he assumed
himself as an element in the situation, and thought no more about it;
never in our conversations obtruding his views as of more importance
than the conversation demanded, and never opinionated, not even
dogmatic, but always inquiring, and more desirous of hearing of the
things that had interested him than of expressing his own views about
them. It was a moment in which, for some reason I do not now recall,
Beaconsfield was much in evidence, and we discussed him on one of
our walks; on his part with the most dispassionate appreciation and
kindness of manner. I had said of his great rival that he had struck a
blow at the prestige of the English aristocracy, from which it would
never recover, and he asked with a quickened interest what that might
be, and when I replied that it was by his putting himself at the head
of it, he thought a moment and replied, nodding his head, "That is

He was very fond of talking with the people of the valley, who are
Italians, and his Italian was better than one is accustomed to hear
from English people, even from those who live in Italy. We passed a
fountain one day, at which a washerwoman was washing her linen, and he
stopped to talk to her, and asked her, among other questions, if she
had always been a washerwoman. No, she replied, she had been a _bália_
(nurse) once. He was struck by her pronunciation of the word _bália_
and walked on; but presently he said, "I thought that that word
was pronounced _balía_" and, when I explained that there were two
words--_bália_ which meant a nurse, and _balía_, which came from the
same root as our "bailiff," and meant a charge, custody,--he seemed
annoyed, and made no more remarks during the continuation of our
climb. It was evident that he was vexed, not at me, who corrected
him, but at his not having known the trivial detail of a language
efficiency in which he prided himself on. It was the only foible I
detected in him. He was very much interested in America, and asked
many questions about our politics. Two things, he said, in the future
of America, seemed to him ominous of evil: the condition of our civil
service, and the amount of our Western lands going into mortmain
through the gifts to the great railway systems.

It would be, perhaps, unjustifiable to form a firm opinion on a man of
Gladstone's calibre from the few days of our intercourse, even in
the freedom and openness of mind of a mountain walk, politics and
Parliament forgotten; but the final impression he gave me was that of
a man, on the whole, immensely greater than I had taken him to be, but
with conflicting elements of greatness which neutralized each other to
a certain extent. He had in him the Platonist, the Statesman, and the
Theologian, of each enough for an ordinary man, and one crowded the
other in action. The Platonist crowded the Statesman, and, at certain
dangerous moments, the broad humanitarian feeling overlooked the
practical dangers of the critical juncture in which he had to act. His
idealism took off the point of his statecraft, and what has always
seemed, and still seems, to me his aberration in the artificial
problems of our ecclesiastical theology, is the only thing I cannot
yet understand in so great a man.

That winter I had a commission from the "Century" (then "Scribner's")
to make an archaeological and literary venture in Greek waters, the
results of which in a series of papers in the magazine were afterwards
published in a volume entitled "On the Track of Ulysses."

Accompanied by Mr. H.M. Paget, the artist, I went to Corfu and hired
the Kestrel, my old friend of the Cretan days, and I decided to follow
the track of Ulysses in his return to Ithaca from Troy. Beginning at
Santa Maura we examined every point in the Ionian Islands to which
any illusion is made in the "Odyssey" as far as Cerigo and Cerigotto,
meeting a storm off the former island which might well have ended our
trip. A well-found Greek brig foundered only a short distance from us
in the gale, and we drifted all day and till early in the morning of
the day following, when we managed to make the port of Cerigo, during
which time we could neither eat a meal nor even get a cup of coffee.
Paget made a capital sailor, and, though the old Maltese captain of
former days was dead, his two sons, lads then, were dexterous sailors
in the rough-and-ready, rule-of-thumb manner of the Levantine boatman,
knowing nothing of navigation and little more of geography than
Ulysses himself. We had no charts, and only a very primitive compass,
but we all had the antique love of adventure and indifference to
danger. Leaving Cerigotto, an island out of the line of traditional or
historic interest, but, curious for its fine and extensive Pelasgic
remains, we laid our course for Crete, starting with the breeze that
at nightfall generally blows towards the land, which was visible from
where we took our departure, and counted on being at Canea with the

But the Aegean is a tricky sea, and furnishes many surprises, as St.
Paul knew, and, when not more than ten miles from the shelter of the
Cretan coast, it came on to blow from the southwest with such violence
that we were unable to beat up to the shelter of the Cretan highlands,
and under a mere rag of canvas had to run before the wind, wherever it
might drive us. I was the only one on board who knew anything of the
Archipelago, and I had to decide the course, which it was possible
to vary only a point or two either way, for the yacht would only run
free, or, under favorable weather, with a beam wind. I had to guess
our course, which from my knowledge of the islands I saw could only be
directly to Milo, about forty miles away. If we hit the harbor, well
and good, for it gives excellent shelter in all weather, but if we
missed it we had two chances--to find an opening between the islands
and reefs, or to hit a lee shore and go on it, for there was no hope
of clawing off. I set the course, left the boys in charge, and went to
bed. The boat was jumping through the sea with a shock at each wave
she struck, as if she had leaped out of the water, and it seemed as if
she must be showing her keel with each jump. I awoke in the night and,
getting out of my berth to take a look outside, put my feet in the
water which had risen to cover the cabin floor. All hands at the pumps
kept it down, but it was clear that the old craft, nearly twenty years
older than when I first saw her, was no longer seaworthy, and we
had no hope of the weather lifting, for these southwesterly gales
generally blow at least a day. I went back to bed again, for there was
nothing to be done but wait on fortune, and be glad that we should
make Milo by daylight.

My previsions justified themselves, for in the course of the afternoon
we made the entrance to the harbor, and ran in before such a sea as I
never saw in those waters before. The waves broke against the great
pillar of rock that stands in the entrance of the harbor, sending
the spray to its very summit, and as we ran to the anchorage off the
little port the whole population poured down to see the arrival,
wondering what sent the tiny craft out in such weather. The old pilot
said that it had been the worst gale of forty years, which I could
well believe. The weather having abated, we ran over to Crete, where
I found the island laboring with reforms, a constitution, and a
Christian governor, in the person of my old friend Photiades Pasha. We
were invited to dine at the Konak, and of the company was Edhem Pasha,
a charming, intelligent, and thoroughly civilized Turk, by far the
most liberal and progressive of his race I had met, with the single
exception of A'ali Pasha. We played at "Admiration" that evening, a
game which puts a series of questions as to the qualities one admires.
In reply to the question "What kind of courage do you admire?" the
pasha, turning to me, replied, "I admire the courage of that gentleman
in going to sea in so small a boat in such weather," and he admitted
laughingly that his courage was not at that level.

I found in the place of my old friend Dickson, consul for England and
colleague of the Cretan days, since dead, Humphrey Sandwith, a noble
and faithful representative of the dignity and humanity of his
nation, and for many years subsequently my intimate friend, who has
disappeared while I write from the lessening list of living friends,
but who will ever keep his place in my regards as a noble, just, and
humane representative of his race, as of his government. In the years
of the subsequent Cretan difficulties, Sandwith was always the good
and wise friend of the islanders. It is good to remember such a
representation of the power and dignity of England in lands where his
colleagues have not always honored England or humanity, and I shall
always think of Sandwith with greater respect for his nation.

The results of the "Century" expedition were nothing in respect of
excavation, and the records of the tracing of the route of the Great
Ithacan were written out in the Dolomites in the course of the summer.
We found that excavation was a matter beyond achievement with the
limited funds at my disposal, but Photiades was munificent in promises
of support if I wished to return for serious undertaking in that
direction. In the following winter I was accordingly requested to take
charge, for the American Archaeological Institute, of an expedition
for research and if possible for excavation. Trusting to the
benevolent promises of the pasha, I accepted the mission. He renewed
his assurances of aid, and showed me the greatest cordiality and
benevolence, invited me to dinner and to spend the evening, and
treated me generally with a friendliness which astonished the old
Turkish element, who considered me the devil of the island. (In fact,
my appearance was considered the omen of trouble, and the Mussulmans
said when they saw me, "Are we going to have another war?") It was
easy to see, however, that the elements of trouble in the island had
not been eliminated by the appointment of a Christian governor or the
concessions which had been made to the Christian majority. So long as
the power of rendering ineffective any reforms, or blocking the way
to progress of the higher civilization of the island, remained at
Constantinople, the Turkish minority in the island would retain their
faculty of making the concessions to the majority fallacious.

Photiades Pasha, an amiable and very intelligent man, recognized the
dominant fact of his position to be the necessity of keeping the favor
of the Mussulman oligarchy at the capital, and he could not offend
the Mussulmans of the island by even a maintenance of equal justice
between the two religions. He was therefore obliged to satisfy
the leaders of the Christian agitators by the concession of minor
advantages in the local conflicts, oftener of Christian against
Christian than of the same against the Turk, and finally he was
obliged to resort to the inciting of feud and jealousy between the
clans, villages, and provinces in the island, to keep them from
uniting against him. He found it convenient to employ me as a tub to
the whale, and, having first excited the insular jealousy against
archaeological intrusion by foreigners, and inducing his clique of
subordinate intriguers to oppose my operations, though the Christian
population in general were in favor of permitting me to excavate
wherever I liked, he made them the concession of refusing me the
permission I sought. Therefore, while he promised me all things and
urged me to go at once to select my locality, he wrote to the Porte
advising the refusal of the firman, which had been applied for
directly by the Institute, through the minister at Constantinople.

My assistant, Mr. Haynes, who had been sent by the Institute to take
his first lessons in archaeology and photography, having arrived, we
went to Candia to select our site. We decided on attacking a ruin on
the acropolis of Gnossus, already partially exposed by the searches
of local diggers for antiques. It had a curiously labyrinthine
appearance, and on the stones I found and described the first
discovered of the characters whose nature has since been made the
subject of the researches of Mr. Evans. I made an agreement with the
Turkish proprietor of the land, and prepared to set to work when the
firman should arrive. After more than one letter from Photiades,
assuring me in unqualified terms that I might confidently count on the
reception of the firman, I received a communication from the minister
at Constantinople, that on the advice of Photiades Pasha the firman
was refused. I had selected as the alternative locality the cave known
as the burial-place of Zeus, on the summit of Mount Yuctas, not
far from Gnossus, in the excavation of which I am convinced that
archaeology will one day receive great light on early Cretan myth. The
importance of the locality in the prehistoric research in which Crete
is one of the most important sections of our field of study, will,
I am convinced, one day justify my anxiety to attack it; and the
subsequent discoveries, so important, made by Halbherr in the
companion cave on Mount Ida, where Zeus was believed to have been
hidden and nursed, confirm my conviction of the value of the evidence
still hidden on Yuctas.

Debarred from carrying out the purpose of my expedition, I contented
myself with making such a survey of that part of the island as should
serve the Institute for another attempt when the artificial obstacles
should be removed; and I was on the point of visiting Gortyna when
troubles broke out, initiated by the murder of two Mussulmans at
Gortyna, revenged by the murder of Christians at Candia, and there
was nothing to be done but to get back to civilization. From the
Mussulmans of the island I had less hostility to endure than from the
more influential of the Christian Cretans, with whom the dominant
passion of life seemed to be that of intrigue, and with whose
mendacity and unscrupulousness I could not contend.

I had a curious instance of the honesty of the Mussulman in a dealer
in bricabrac, embroideries, and stuffs with whom I used to deal at
Candia. Arapi Mehmet, as he was called, i.e. Mahommed the Arabian, was
a man in whom no religious fanaticism disturbed his relations with his
fellow-men; no English agnostic could be more liberal, and we often
had dealings in which his honesty was evident. On one of the last
visits I made to his shop I looked at two embroidered cushion covers
which I wanted to purchase, but the price he put on them made it
out of the question, and as he refused to take less I gave up the
bargaining, and he called for the coffee. While we were drinking it
and conversing of other matters, I said to him, "Arapi, why do you ask
such absurd prices? You know that the cushions are not worth so much."
"Oh," he replied, "you are rich and can afford it." "What makes you
think I am rich?" I asked. "You travel about and see the world, and
take your pleasure," he said. "But I am not rich," I said; "I am a
workingman; I do not travel for pleasure, but to earn my living. I am
a scribe, and am paid for what I write, and what I earn is all I
have to live on. I have no property." "Is that true?" he asked me,
earnestly, looking me in the eyes. "That is quite true; I have nothing
but what I earn," I replied; "I make the living of my family in this
way. If I do not write we have no bread." The cushions had meanwhile
been sent back to his house, as he kept all his fine goods there; and,
without another word to me, he shouted to his shop boy to go and get
them, and, when brought, he threw them to me, saying, "Take them and
give me what you like."

I always found that the Mussulman merchants were more trustworthy in
their dealings with me than the Christians, and, though there was, as
a matter of course, at first an amount of bargaining and beating down
the prices, which was expected, they never attempted to deceive me
in the quality of the goods, and they often called my attention to
articles of artistic or archaeological value, which were cheap, and
when they came to know me well they gave me, at the outset, the lowest
price they could take, while it never happened with a Christian
shopman in Crete that I was treated with frankness or moderation. The
next time I went back to Candia, Arapi was dead.

Returning to Canea, my archaeological mission being abortive, I was
told by the Christian secretary of the pasha that the difficulty had
been that I had not offered to give to His Excellency the coins that
might be found in the excavations, and that if I did this I might hope
for a firman. As it was not in my power to give what, by the agreement
arrived at with the proprietor of the soil, had been definitely
disposed of, half to him and the other half to the museums of the
island, and as the troubles had begun, there was nothing more to be
done, and I made a flying trip to some parts of the island which I had
not seen. Of this, the passage through the valley of Enneochoria
(the nine villages) will remain in my memory as the most delightful
pastoral landscape I have ever seen, and the ideal of Greek pastoral
poetry. A beautiful brook, to the perennial flow of whose waters the
abundant water-cresses testified, which is a very rare thing in an
Aegean scene, meandered amongst mingled sycamores and olives, and gave
freshness to glades where the sheep fed under the keepership of the
antique-mannered shepherd lads and lasses; and in the opening of the
bordering trees we saw the far-off and arid mountains, rugged and
picturesque peaks. The Cretan summer for three or four months is
rainless, and a valley where the vegetation is fed by the springs so
abundantly as to sustain a perpetual flora is rarely to be met in
one's travels there. I saw many new flowers there, and amongst them
a perfectly white primrose, in every other respect like the common
flower of the English hedgerows. The scenery had that attractive
aspect which can be found only where immemorial culture, without
excessive invasion of the axe, has left nature in the undiminished
possession of her chief beauties, without a trace of the savage
wildness--a nature which hints at art. It was classic without being
formal, but no description can give an idea of the charm of it in
contrast with the general aridity of the Cretan landscape.

As we rode through the villages we found the population animated by
that joyous hospitality which belongs to an antique tradition, to
which a stranger guest is something which the gods have sent, and
sent rarely so that no tourist weariness had worn out the welcome.
Something of the welcome was, no doubt, due to the reputation I had
acquired in former times as a friend of the Christians of the island,
but I found that in Crete, where the invasion of the foreign element
had been at a minimum and the people were most conservative, ancient
usages and ancient hospitality had retained all their force, as, to
a lesser extent, I had found them in the Peloponnesus, while in
continental Greece I never found hospitality in any form. The Cretans
are probably the purest remnant of the antique race which resulted
from the mixture of Pelasgian, Dorian, Achaian, Ionian, and the best
representative of the antique intellect.

It was almost impossible to travel in the interior of the island,
where the Christian element still held its own unmixed, without coming
in contact with remnants of the most ancient superstitions. In one
place my guide pointed out to me a cave where Janni the shepherd one
day gathered his sheep in the midday heats to fiddle to them, when
there came out of the sea a band of Nereids, who begged him to play
for their dancing. Janni obeyed and lost his heart to one of the sea
damsels, and, sorely smitten, went to a wise woman to know what he
should do to win her, and was told that he must boldly seize her in
the whirl of the dance and hold her, no matter what happened. He
followed the direction, and though the nymph changed shape many times
he kept his hold and she submitted to him and they were married. In
process of time she bore a child, but all the while she had never
spoken a word. The wise woman, consulted again, told Janni to take the
child and pretend to lay it on the fire, when his wife would speak. He
obeyed again, but made a slip, and the child, falling into the fire,
was burned to death, whereupon the wife fled to the sea and was never
seen again. This was told me in all seriousness as of a contemporary
event, and was evidently held as history. I bought from a peasant one
of the well-known three-sided prisms with archaic intaglios of animals
on the faces, and had the curiosity to inquire the virtues of it, for
I was told that it was greatly valued and had been worn by his wife,
who reluctantly gave it up. He replied that it had the power of
preventing the mother's milk from failing prematurely.

We passed through Selinos, where the riflers of the antique necropolis
brought me quantities of glass found in the graves, and a few bronze
and gold ornaments; and when I had loaded myself and my attendants
with all the glass we could safely carry, the people begged me still
to buy, if only for a piastre each piece, what they had accumulated
for want of a buyer. But what is found in this district is mainly or
entirely of a late period, that of the Roman occupation of the island,
I suppose, for we found no archaic objects of any kind, or early
inscriptions, and only a few in late characters. But the ride through
this section of the island is one of the most delightful one could
take, so far as I know, in classical lands. The kindly, hospitable
Seliniotes, known for centuries as the bravest of all the Cretan
clans, persecuted with all the cruelty of Venetian craft in the days
when the island city ruled the island sea, always refractory under
foreign rule and often unruly under their own régime, seem to have
enjoyed in the later centuries of Roman rule and the earlier of the
Byzantine a great prosperity, if one may judge from the evidence of
the necropolis, the graves in which yield a singular indication of a
well-distributed wealth. These graves lie for great distances along
every road leading to what must have been the principal centre of the
civilization, though there are no ruins to mark its location. This
singular absence of ancient ruin indicates a peculiarity in the
civilization of that section of the island which history gives no clue
to. Northward, near the sea, there are the remains of great Pelasgic
cities, of which when I first traveled in the island the walls were in
stupendous condition, but of which at this visit I had found hardly
a trace--the islanders had pulled them down to get stone for their
houses. The site of Polyrhenia, connected in tradition with the return
of Agamemnon from Troy, was one of the finest Pelasgic ruins I have
ever seen when I first visited it, but on this visit I could hardly
find the locality, and of the splendid polygonal wall I saw in 1865
not a stone remained.

Our route brought us through Murnies, celebrated for its orange groves
and for the horrible execution of many Cretans by Mustapha Kiritly in
the "great insurrection"--that of 1837--to punish them for assembling
to petition the Sultan for relief. It is one of the most ghastly of
all the dreadful incidents of Turkish repressions, for the Cretans,
pacifically assembled without arms, were arrested, and all their
magnates, for the better repression of discontent and to overawe
rebellions to come, were hanged on the orange-trees in such numbers
that, as the old consul of Sweden, an eye-witness, told me during my
consulate, the orchard was hung with them, and left there to rot.
According to the statement of the consul, not less than thirty of the
chief men of that district were so executed.

But the history of the Venetian rule shows that it was no less cruel
and even more treacherous, and Pashley gives from their own records
the story of the slaughter of many of the chief people of the same
district to punish refractoriness against the government of that day.
Read where we will, so long as there is anything to read, we find
the history of Crete one of the most horrible of the classic
world--rebellion, repression, slaughter, internecine and
international, until a population, which in the early Venetian times
was a million, was reduced in 1830 to little more than a hundred
thousand, and during my own residence was brought nearly as low, what
with death by sword and bullet, by starvation and disease induced by
starvation, added to exile, permanent or temporary. Yet in 1865 it
had been reckoned at 375,000, Christian and Mussulman. But it must be
admitted that the Cretan was always the most refractory of subjects,
and, though at the time of this visit the island had obtained the
fundamental concessions which it had fought for, in the recognition of
its autonomy with a governor of the faith of the majority, in a later
visit in 1886 I found it ravaged by a sectional war of vendetta,
Christian against Christian, in which, as Photiades Pasha assured
me, in one year 600 people had been killed and 25,000 olive-trees
destroyed in village feuds. But the evidence was at hand to show that
the pasha himself, finding the islanders no less difficult to control
for all the concessions made them, had been obliged in the interest of
his own quiet and permanence in government to turn the restlessness
of the Cretans into sectional conflicts during which they left him in
peaceful possession of his pashalik. In eastern countries government
becomes a fine art if not a humane one.



The troubles initiated at Gortyna increased until the eastern end of
the island was drawn into them, and, as the Greek government at the
same time began to agitate for the execution of those clauses in the
Treaty of Berlin which compensated it for the advantages gained by the
principalities through the war, I received orders to go to Athens and
resume my correspondence with the "Times." Athens was in a ferment,
and the discontent with the government for its inefficiency was
universal; the ministry, as was perhaps not altogether unjustifiable
under the circumstances past, allowed the King to bear his part of the
responsibility, and discontent with him was even greater than that
with Comoundouros, the prime minister, whose position became very
difficult, for the King and his _entourage_ opposed all energetic
measures, and the people demanded the most energetic. Excitement ran
very high, and the ministry was carried along with the populace, which
demanded war and the military occupation of the territory assigned to

Comoundouros was, on the whole, the most competent prime minister for
Greece whom the country has had in my time. Tricoupi, who was the
chief of the opposition at the time, was an abler man, and a statesman
of wider views,--on the whole, the greatest statesman of modern
Greece, _me judice_; but in intrigue and Odyssean craft, which is
necessary in the Levant, Comoundouros was his master. In 1868, when
they were both in the ministry, they formed the most competent
government Greece has known in her constitutional days, but it was
betrayed by the King, who paid now in part for his defection, for no
one placed the least confidence in him. The diplomatic corps pressed
for peace, and the nation demanded war, for which it was not in the
least prepared. The animosity towards the King was extreme. I saw
people who happened to be sitting in front of the cafés rise and turn
their backs to him when he walked past, as he used to do without any
attendant. Comoundouros ran with the diplomats and hunted with the
populace,--I think he really meant to continue running and avoid
hunting at any risk, but he talked on the other side. I knew him well,
and used continually to go to his house when he received all the world
in the evening, in perfectly republican simplicity, as is the way in
Athens, and he said to me one evening that the King prevented action,
and impeded all steps to render the army efficient.

This was evidently the feeling of the populace, and public
demonstrations took place which menaced revolution, and on one
occasion shots were fired, and the demonstrators were dispersed by the
cavalry. I asked him on that occasion why the ministry did not let the
revolution loose, and drive the King away. "Ah! they think now that we
have no stability,--what would they think then? and what could we get
better?" I find in a file of my letters of the time one which says: "I
am not surprised at Mrs. ----'s opinion of the King,--there are few
people of either sex here who are not of the same opinion, and the
conviction is getting very general that no progress or reform is to be
hoped for until he is expelled the country." Another, a little later,
says: "It looks very much as if there were a revolution preparing, and
that the King would have to go. He is so detested that I don't think
any one wants to save him." To complicate matters, there came some
scandals to light concerning the frauds and peculations in the
furnishing of supplies for the army, which was being prepared for
a campaign in extravagant haste, and rumor involved persons in the
closest intimacy with the prime minister. I do not believe that
Comoundouros was personally complicated, but I find in one of my
letters the following, under date, "Athens, June 10:"--

"Things here are in a horrible state. The latest disclosures of
the great defalcations seem to involve so many officials and
non-officials, and break out in so many new directions, that one
does not know whom to exonerate. The King and most of the
ministers--quantities of officials, persons in high social positions
and unblemished reputation--seem to have been carried away by the
fever; Comoundouros himself is accused of participation; ---- and ----
are clearly guilty, and I think the ministry must resign. So far we
have no accusation against Tricoupi or any of his friends. That is the
only comfort we can draw out of the affair. I am holding back from
exposing the affair in the 'Times' from the double motive that the
scandal will affect all Greece, and because the affair is not yet
fully disclosed and we don't know what it may lead to in the way of
exposures. The government is doing everything it can to prevent the
investigation extending, and this I mean to stop by exposing the
whole matter in the 'Times,' but until it succeeds in arresting the
disclosures I shall let them go. Comoundouros is buying up all the
correspondents he can, and one of his emissaries told me two or three
days ago that if I would help him out I could pocket 20,000 francs."

To this offer I replied by a letter to the "Times" attacking the
ministry savagely, and when it was printed and reached Athens, and I
saw the minister again, he remarked with his imperturbable good-humor,
which indeed never failed him, "How you did give it to us to-day!" As
I recall the old man, running over the twenty odd years during which
I had known him more or less with long interruptions, I retain my
impression of his genuine patriotism and personal integrity; but he
was surrounded by people who did profit by their relation to him. He
was singularly like Depretis in manner and character; and of Depretis
it was said that he would not steal himself, but he did not care how
much his friends stole; but I think that the Greek was the abler man
by much. Comoundouros mitigated the rancors usual in the politics of
Greece (as in those of Italy of to-day) by his unvarying good-nature,
never permitting his antagonisms to degenerate to animosities. In the
years when I first knew him, during the Cretan insurrection of 1866,
he was at his best in power and in patriotism; but during the years
which followed, full of the base intrigues which had their birth in
the influences surrounding the court, he got more or less demoralized,
for patriotism and honesty were no passports to power, and he was
ambitious before all things. Not to be in office or near coming to
office is in Greece to have no political standing whatever, and the
King's defection and betrayal of the interests of Greece in 1868
convinced Comoundouros and many others that with the King there was
nothing to be done for a purely Hellenic and consistent policy. All
my study of Levantine politics since that day convinces me that in
sacrificing the interests of Greece to the demands of the Russian
ministry in 1868, the King threw away the only opportunity which
Greece has ever had of attaining the position her people and her
friends believed her destined to,--that of the heir of the Ottoman
empire. The case is now hopeless, for the adverse influences have
gained the upper hand, and the demoralization of Greece has progressed
with the years. The sturdy independence of Comoundouros in 1868 was
wasted, and I can imagine that the old man understood that, though the
forms of independence and the semblance of progress must be kept up,
there was really no hope of a truly Hellenic revival, and with his
hopes and his courage he lost all his patriotic ambitions. In this
juncture he was satisfied with the husks which the diplomats threw to
Greece, and blustered and threatened war to attain a compromise which
should keep him in office and in peace with the King, whom he would
gladly have rid Greece of if it had been practicable.

In the struggle with diplomacy he so far gained his point that there
was an adjustment of the frontiers in accordance with the treaty. The
commission for the delimitation, at the head of which was General
Hamley, met at Athens with the intention of beginning the trace from
the Epirote side, and I had made all my preparations for accompanying
it, when there happened one of those curious mischances which are
possible only in the East. The summer was hot and dry, and the mayor
of Athens, foreseeing a drought, had decided to turn the stream known
as the "washerwoman's brook," one of the few perennial sources in the
vicinity, into the aqueduct which supplied the city with drinking
water. As all the dirty clothes of Athens, comprising those of the
military hospital, in which there were grave cases of typhoid, were
washed in that stream, the consequences were soon evident in a great
outbreak of the malady in the city, the victims being estimated at
10,000 persons; and, two days before that on which the commission was
to start on its work, I was taken ill. I sent for a doctor and he
declared the illness to be fever, and probably typhoid. I went to bed,
and took for three days in succession forty grains of quinine a day,
getting up on the fourth, to find the commission gone and myself in no
condition to follow it; and so I missed the most interesting
journey which had ever offered itself in my journalistic career. My
exasperation at the imbecility of the mayor can be easily imagined,
and it was vented in a proper castigation in my correspondence. In
the burning weeks that followed, the state of Athens reminded one of
Boccaccio's description of Florence in the plague. There were not
physicians enough in the city to attend the sick, or undertakers to
bury the dead. The funeral processions to the great cemetery beyond
the Ilissus seemed in constant motion, and the water-sellers drove a
brisk trade in the water of a noble spring under Hymettus.

At the next municipal election the mayor was reëlected triumphantly!
The ministry was less fortunate, a dissolution resulting in a majority
for the opposition, and Tricoupi came into power. As the most
competent and eminent of the rulers of Greece in the following years
(for Comoundouros died not long after), and cut off prematurely in the
midst of his services to the land he always served with an honest,
patriotic devotion, he deserves the commemoration which, as his
intimate friend for many years, I am better qualified, perhaps, to
render him than any other foreigner. Our friendship began in the
period when he held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs in 1867-8 and
continued till his death. He was educated and, I think, born in
London, where his father held for many years the legation of Greece.
The elder Tricoupi and his wife were two of the most sympathetic
and admirable people of their race I have ever known, and the elder
Tricoupi's history of his country in its later fortunes is recognized
as the standard, both in its history and in its use of the modern
Greek, purely vernacular, which we have. The son, head of the
government or leader of the opposition from an age at which in few
countries a man can lead in politics, was, _rara avis_ in those lands,
an absolutely devoted patriot and honest man; but his country has
never been in a state of political education or patriotic devotion
such as to enable it to profit by his ability or his honesty. I well
remember that during his first premiership I said to him that I hoped
he was in for a long term of office, which might establish some
solidity in Greek politics, and he replied, "They will support me
until I am obliged to tax them, and then they will turn me out." And
so it happened.

The general elections, which were stormy, brought Tricoupi into power;
but the violence to the freedom of election of which the government
was guilty made them very exciting. One of Tricoupi's chief supporters
was standing for Cephalonia, I think, and we heard that there were
great preparations to defeat him by the common device of overawing his
supporters and driving them from the polls, and I decided to go at
once to the locality and watch the method of the elections. The
presence of the correspondent at the polling booths, all of which I
visited in rapid succession through the day, completely deranged all
the plans, and only at one place was there an attempt at illegal
pressure, on which occasion one man was shot. The chief of police
at the place came to me from time to time, saying, "Have you seen
anything illegal?" as if he were under orders to convince me that the
law had been obeyed. The result was that the Tricoupist candidate
was elected, and he admitted to me that his election was due to my
presence. He had only had one man shot, the general plan of carrying
the elections by violence having been abandoned in deference to public
opinion in England, represented by the correspondent of the "Times."

I decided to go to Volo as soon as the annexation was accomplished,
and took letters of introduction to several leading citizens, amongst
them one from Tricoupi. The Christian portion of the town was, of
course, in exultation, but an attempt at inspection of the Turkish
quarter had to be abandoned precipitately before a demonstration of
the Mussulman juvenility. My visit had to be abbreviated, for the
filthy khan which was the only place of entertainment for man and
beast swarmed with bugs and mosquitoes; and, though the five letters
I had were to the wealthiest persons in Volo, amongst them being the
mayor, not one offered me hospitality when I told them the next day
that I must return by the steamer that brought me, in default of
a decent bed and eatable food; and, though they expressed polite
regrets, they saw no alternative, and I took a return passage.
Hospitality in continental Greece has no traditions; and even in
Athens, except from Greeks who had lived in England, I have never been
asked to accept bed or bread, while in Crete and in the Peloponnesus
there was always a more or less active competition as to who should
give me both. The stranger, who was in the classical days the
messenger of the gods and received welcome as such, has degenerated to
the position of the modern tramp. The difference is, no doubt, due to
the centuries of oppression and isolation in which the fragments of
the race have lived, and in which they have suffered the intrusion
of unwelcome elements amongst them, always overborne and finding no
protector except their own cunning, and no friend save in their own

A thought that comes up very often while one deals with the Greek in
Hellenic lands, is the wonder at the tenacity of the religion of the
Greek, surviving the hostility not only of the Turk, but of his fellow
Christian of the rival creed. No other nation has ever endured the
hostile pressure on its religious fidelity which the Greeks have had
to submit to since the fall of Constantinople. The Venetians were even
more cruel with the Greeks under their rule than the Turks have ever
been, and the influence of the Papal See has always been exerted with
the most inflexible persistence for the suppression of what in Rome is
called the Greek schism, to which it has shown an animosity greater
even than that displayed toward the Protestant Church. And yet I have
always found the Orthodox Church in all its ramifications the most
charitable and liberal of all the forms of Christianity with which I
have come in contact. No stranger is turned from the doors of a Greek
convent or refused such succor as is in the power of its inmates, be
he Protestant, atheist, or even of their bitterest enemies, the Roman
Catholics. No questions are ever asked, and it has twice happened to
me that I have lodged at a Greek convent during the most rigid fasts
of the Church, when the inmates sat down to a dinner of herbs and dry
bread, while to me was given the best their resources could compass--a
roast lamb or kid, generally. The _kalogeros_ in attendance, when I
was dining on one occasion with the prior of a convent on Good Friday,
and ate flesh when the prior himself had nothing but herbs and bread,
turned to his superior with a perplexed smile, saying, "Why! he is
not even a Christian!" but was none the less cordial afterward--he
evidently had no other feeling than that of pity that a man who had
been their protector (it was in Crete during the insurrection) should
not enjoy the privileges of the Church. This liberal hospitality on
the part of the ecclesiastics makes the want of it on the part of the
people all the more conspicuous and inexplicable.

In the event Comoundouros found his game of bluff a safe one, for his
claims were just, and diplomacy was derelict, or there would have been
no utility in the demonstration. But the futility of the Greek threats
was most conspicuously shown, for not a battalion got to the frontier
in a condition to fight, and two batteries sent off from Athens in
great pomp broke down so completely that not a gun was fit to go into
action when they reached the frontier. The (for them and for the
moment) fortunate issue of the contention by the cession of the
territory in dispute seemed to the Greeks in general due to their good
military measures, and so confirmed them in the dangerous conviction
that the powers were afraid that they might beat the Turks and open
the question of Constantinople, etc., which the powers had determined
should not be opened. Tricoupi alone of all those who had a policy was
of the opinion that the powers should not have interfered, but should
have let the Greeks have their way and learn their lesson. It was his
opinion that the political education of the Greeks was thwarted
by this continual intermeddling of the powers, which made their
independence a fiction. Subsequent events showed that he did not
nourish that blind confidence in the military capacity of his
countrymen which they had, but he said until they were allowed to test
their abilities they would never know on what that confidence reposed.
The common opinion was that one Greek was worth ten Turks, even in the
state of the Greek training. This was not Tricoupi's opinion, which
was that it was impossible under the tutelage which the powers
exercised for them to know the truth, and he had, from 1867,
persistently urged the let-alone policy, which would at least enable
them to find their level.

Time has shown that Tricoupi was the only party leader in Greece who
saw affairs justly. Had his counsel prevailed, the nation would have
found in 1881 what they discovered only in 1897, that they needed
training and concentration to hold their own, and that the path of
conquest of their ancient estate was set with obstacles which only
Spartan discipline and endurance could clear away. As it has happened,
the lesson has been learned only after all the competing elements have
had theirs and are on the way to the primacy in the Balkans which the
Greeks thought the heritage of their race, but of which they can now
hold no hope. The protection of the powers has been fatal, for
the future of the Levant belongs to the Slav in spite of all the
intelligence, activity, and personal morality in which the Greeks
excel all their rivals. An English statesman who had to deal with
Tricoupi in regard to official matters said to me once that he found
him apparently open and business-like, but that when they came to
the transaction of matters at issue he proved to be as slippery and
dishonest as any of his countrymen. But Tricoupi was a Greek, and
evasion, diplomatic duplicity, and the usual devices of the weak
brought to terms by the strong, are ingrained with the race. He felt
the truth, viz., that all the powers, while professing to protect
them, were really oppressing them by their protection, and that the
negotiations in which they posed as friends were really hostile
measures which he was, in duty to his nation, bound to fight by all
the means in his reach; and in this case the means were those of the
weak, deprived of liberty of action as much as if they were held down
by the troops of the powers.

In all these considerations Tricoupi stands as much the type and
impersonation of the modern Greek in his best phase, and the
Hellenic cause lost in his early death the largest exponent of the
characteristics of the race I have ever known, but, as fate had it,
lost him only when his abilities could only serve to mitigate disaster
and accentuate failure. Had he been alive, I am convinced that the
disaster of 1897 would not have taken place, and, if a conflict was,
through the ignorant impetuosity of the masses, unavoidable, it would
have resulted more creditably to the Greek army, not in victory
indeed, for this was under the circumstances not to be hoped for, but
in a defeat which was not irretrievable.

The campaign finished, I returned to Florence, where, during the lull
in Eastern matters, I found my only public occupation in the contest
with regard to the restoration of ancient buildings in Italy. Those
who can remember the aspect of the Ducal Palace and St. Mark's in
those years, shored up to prevent large portions of them from falling
in crumbling ruin into the Piazza, and can see that now at least the
general aspect of the perfect building is preserved, and in the case
of the Ducal Palace even the details of the most important decorative
elements restored with a fidelity which defies examination, will
hardly be inclined to resent the restorations which have abolished
the hideous balks of timber and bulkheads of most of the southern and
western façades. The southwest angle of the Palace was prevented
only by massive shoring from falling bodily into the Piazzetta. The
anti-restoration society in England had raised a great outcry over the
works, which had, however, been going on without criticism during the
Austrian occupation since 1840; and, after a thorough examination of
the state of the two precious buildings, and the plans and appliances
for their restoration, I undertook the defense of the restorers, and
the hot controversy in the "Times" and other journals on the subject
resulted in the confirmation of the authorities in their resolution
to continue the works which have left the Ducal Palace at least in a
condition to be seen for a few hundred years to come, and relieved the
church of the scaffolds and bulkheads which disfigured it up to 1890.
The works in St. Mark's reëstablished in more than its original
solidity the south flank, which was in such a state of ruin that only
the abundant shoring had prevented the façade from top to bottom from
falling bodily into the Piazza.

On the other hand, I found at Florence that the authorities, in
anticipation of the completion of the present splendid façade of the
Duomo, had decided to refresh the entire surface of the flanks to put
them in keeping with the new sculpture of the front, and had actually
inaugurated the system of removing with acids, followed by the chisel,
of all the toned surface of the sculptured parts so that the Duomo
should, when the façade was revealed, present the aspect of a
bride-cake in the brilliant whiteness of its marble, but without a
touch remaining of the workmanship of its original architects and
sculptors. At this juncture the editor of the "Cornhill Magazine"
asked me for an article on the restorations in Italy, and I profited
by the invitation to write a scathing article on the cleaning up of
the Duomo, which, falling under the attention of the government at
Rome, provoked a telegram ordering peremptorily the cessation of
all restoration on the church. I received the thanks of the Italian
ministry and the formal request to inform it of any other similar
operations which should fall under my attention, and when a few
weeks later I saw the scaffold raised around the beautiful pulpit
of Donatello at Prato, a note to the ministry had the effect of
telegraphically stopping operations. The indignation of the good
people of Florence at the cessation of the house-cleaning brought me
a request from a high quarter to undertake the defense of the city
against the insolent Englishman of the "Cornhill!"

The subsequent years of my residence in Florence were on the whole the
most tranquil and the happiest of my mature life. We all enjoyed it
without serious drawback, the routine becoming a visit in early summer
to Venice, then visits to the Venetian Tyrol, Cadore, Cortina, and
Landro, and the return to Florence in the autumn. I found in Florence
an intellectual life and serenity of which there was no evidence
elsewhere, with surroundings of the noblest art of the Renaissance,
and an intellectual atmosphere hardly, I think, to be found in any
other Italian city. Amongst our dearest friends were the Villaris,
with whom we still remain in cordial sympathy. I can wish Italy no
greater good than the possession of many children like Pasquale
Villari. Our great diplomat George P. Marsh had an unbounded
admiration for him--he used to say, "Villari is an angel;" and he
certainly stands at the head of the list of noble Italians I have
known for the personal and intellectual virtues and subtlety of
appreciation, not rare amongst Italians, but unfortunately to be
sought for in their politics in vain. In Italy as in America men of
that type are pushed to the wall and crowded out of the conflicts of
political life.

I was finally, after five years of residence, obliged to abandon our
home at Florence by the constant recurrence of fevers, which gave us
perpetual anxiety as well as perplexity, for there is no malaria in
that part of Tuscany. After an attack which nearly proved fatal to one
of the children, my courage gave out, and we broke up housekeeping,
and the family, with the exception of myself and my eldest daughter,
went back to England. It was only subsequently that I discovered that
the secret of the fevers was in the water drawn from the wells of
Florence. These are sunk in a stratum of gravel in which are countless
cesspools, the filtration of which extends through the entire stratum
and poisons every well within the limits of their influence. On
my accession in later years to the service of the "Times" as Rome
correspondent, I attacked the system of drainage and water supply of
Florence in a series of letters, and brought down on my head the most
furious abuse which my journalistic life has known, but which ended in
the reformation, not yet complete, however, of the water supply of the
city, and the admission by the Florentines that if they had attended
to my warnings earlier they would have been saved great losses, chief
of which was the abandonment of a projected return to Florence by
Queen Victoria, on account of a serious epidemic of typhoid which
broke out after her first visit. Like most reformers, I was threatened
with violence if I returned to the scene of my labors, to be hailed as
a friend when I had been found to be right and my warnings salutary.
But at the moment, the effect of the fevers was to drive me out of
Florence, where residence had on many accounts proved most delightful,
and send me off again on adventure.

I passed the next year at New York on the staff of the "Evening Post,"
sending occasional correspondence to the "Times," and during this
absence my father-in-law became involved in financial embarrassments
which ultimately cost my wife her allowance, after we had again
established our residence for the family in London. With a widened
literary experience and connection I could see my way to a better
situation than that of the past years, but in 1886 the death of the
Rome correspondent of the "Times," and the definite retirement of Mr.
Gallenga, the Italian correspondent _par excellence_, brought me into
a regular and permanent employment by the paper as its representative
for Greece and Italy, with residence at Rome.



I took possession of my double charge of the (to me) most interesting
of all foreign lands, Greece and Italy, at a moment when affairs were
quickening for new troubles in the former, where demagoguery had again
taken the upper hand. Comoundouros was dead, and Tricoupi, who had
succeeded, as I had long before anticipated that he would, to the lead
in Greek politics, had fallen, as he had foretold, on the question of
taxation. The new successor to the bad qualities of old Comoundouros,
Deliyanni, in his electoral programme had promised to relieve the
people of all taxation, and had, of course, been elected, and I found
Tricoupi still at the head of the opposition. I had stayed at
Rome only long enough to take possession of my place and have a
conversation with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, General
Robilant, as to the course which Italy would follow if there were
troubles in Greece, and received his assurance that Italy would stand
with England, whatever might happen.

Robilant was one of the ablest ministers of foreign affairs Italy has
had in my time, and, if not the most conspicuous occupant of that
position in intellectual qualities, he certainly was so, with one
exception--that of Baron Blanc--in sound common sense and a large and
comprehensive perception of the situation of Italy amongst the powers,
and her true affiliations. To him, more than to any other individual
Italian, was due the entry of Italy into the Triple Alliance, a
measure which has probably been very largely instrumental in keeping
the peace between the European powers ever since it was formed. Simple
and reserved in his manner to a correspondent, he was entirely frank
and courteous in communicating what could be communicated, and quietly
silent beyond. Always the butt of the most savage hostility of the
Italian radicals, he resigned the year after, though supported by the
majority in the Chamber, rather than expose himself longer to the
vulgar and brutal partisan insolence of Cavallotti and his allies in
the Chamber. As individual, as soldier, and as minister, Robilant was
the type of the Italian at his best. Very few of the extreme Left in
the Italian Chamber made any pretensions to a comprehension of the
nature of a gentleman, and the vulgarity of the outbreak which
provoked his resignation--it was on the occasion of the disaster of
Dogali--was of a nature which only a hardened politician could adapt
himself to. It was my first experience of the indecencies of Italian
parliamentarism, and, when he left the Chamber under the unendurable
insults poured on him in language adapted only to street broils, I
said to a colleague that he would never appear again in the Chamber. I
was right, for, though the ministry obtained a vote of confidence, and
he was urged to withdraw his resignation, he refused. In his charge
the foreign policy of Italy was at its best.

I found affairs at Athens in a critical condition. Deliyanni was
trying the game of bluff which had succeeded in the hands of
Comoundouros, but with quite a different measure of competence. With
Deliyanni it was an evident sham. He had promised war without the
least intention of preparing for it, in the childish expectation that
Europe would oblige the Sultan to make some concession which would
save his credit in the country and enable him to continue in office.
But circumstances were different; Greece had on the former occasion a
valid claim, admitted by the powers, while on this there was only the
pretension that Greece should receive a compensation for betterments
acquired by Bulgaria. In the former, the Treaty of Berlin had
sanctioned the cession; in the latter, there was only the bare
impudence of Mr. Deliyanni to move the powers. The ministry called out
class after class of the reserves and sent them northward, but made no
effective preparation for war; the men were ill-clad, worse provided,
and everything was lacking to make them ready for a campaign. The
casual observer could see that war was not intended, and that
Deliyanni was silly enough to believe that the agents of the powers
did not see through his sham, and thought that he could frighten them.
The men on the frontier finally amounted to about 45,000 men, kept
there as a scarecrow to the powers at an expense, ascertained from the
safest authorities, of 1000 deaths per month. The powers insisted on
demobilization. Deliyanni replied by waving his torch and threatening
to set fire to Europe if they did not give him a province; and
meanwhile the Turkish government was gathering a solid force of about
40,000 men on the menaced frontier, and preparing silently to march on

The common people of the city, ignorant of everything connected with
war, and inflamed by the jingo official press, conceived that nothing
was needed but to set the Greek army in motion to insure a triumphant
march on Constantinople, and were shouting for the troops to cross the
frontier. Deliyanni had never had the least intention of making war,
but he dared not withdraw for fear of his own people and the war fever
he had inoculated them with. The worst feature in the position was
that he had armed and provided with large quantities of ammunition the
entire population of the Greek frontier, and the irregulars so formed
had no discipline and obeyed no orders, but began each on his own
account to harass the Turkish outposts. The Turks, obedient to their
orders, contented themselves with repelling these minute stings,
keeping their own side of the frontier, and waiting till the attack
developed to take up a solid and thoroughly prepared offensive. The
summons came from the powers to demobilize, or the Greek coast would
be blockaded. This was Deliyanni's only escape from a terrible
disaster to the country, or the personal humiliation of withdrawal he
would not submit to, with the added risk of violence on the part of
the mob of the city, fired to a safe and flaming enthusiasm by the
reports continually coming in of new victories on the frontier,
each little skirmish with a picket being invariably followed by the
withdrawal of the Turks to a position well within their own territory,
according to the general order to accept no combat under actual
conditions, so that the least skirmish was magnified at Athens to
a new victory. The summons to demobilize was met by a point-blank
refusal, when the fleets of the powers--Russia and France
excepted--entered on the scene, and the blockade of the Greek coast
was declared. This saved the credit of the ministry with the country;
and Deliyanni, protesting against intervention as a measure on behalf
of the Sultan, and hostile to Greece, resigned, but gave no orders to
his commandants on the frontier to withdraw, and the skirmishing went
on. The King in this crisis behaved well, and put Deliyanni in the
alternative of demobilizing or resigning; and, when he chose the
latter course, the King called Tricoupi to form a ministry.

Tricoupi's position was difficult. He protested against the blockade
as an unwarrantable interference with the freedom of action of Greece,
as he considered that the government should have been allowed on its
own responsibility to make war and take the consequences, as the only
method of teaching the Greeks how to fulfill their international
obligation. But the withdrawal of the diplomatic representatives of
the great powers, whose fleets were blockading the coast, had left
him without any channel of communicating with the powers, either for
protesting or for yielding, and the fighting was increasing in extent
if not in intensity. On the day, too, on which Tricoupi accepted the
charge, the Turkish commander had received his orders to cross the
frontier on the next day and march on Athens if the annoyance were
not stopped. A great extent of the frontier was not provided with the
telegraph, and the chosen partisans of Deliyanni were in command, and
determined to force a conflict. The blockade prevented Tricoupi from
sending officers by sea to take over the command, and there was not
time to send them by land. General Sapunzaki was the only general
officer on whom the minister could depend to obey orders, and he could
reach only a part of the line on which the fighting was going on.
There was no subordination and no general plan in the offensive;
but each detachment of troops on the frontier made war on its own
responsibility, and the Turks contented themselves with repelling

I went to the telegraph office to get the late advices in the
afternoon of the last day of the fighting, when it had become very
general all along the frontier. Tricoupi had sent imperative orders to
cease hostilities, but the telegraph had been cut, probably by some
one who wanted the war to ensue, and when I found Tricoupi at the
telegraph in the afternoon in conversation with Sapunzaki over
the wire, he turned to me with an expression of intense distress,
exclaiming, "They are fighting again all along the line, and if it
cannot be stopped at once we are lost." "Can I do anything?" I asked.
He replied, "I should be glad if you would go to Baring" (who had been
sent to take charge of the legation, but with no diplomatic powers or
relation with the Greek government) "and tell him the position, and
ask him to telegraph to his government to urge Constantinople to send
word to Eyoub Pasha that the Greek government had given stringent
orders to stop the fighting, and ask him to coöperate."

It was an intensely hot day in the end of May, and the streets of
Athens, deserted by the population, were an oven; not a cab was to be
found on the square or in the streets. I ran to the British legation,
fortunately found Baring there, and explained the position, saying
that Tricoupi, in the absence of any diplomatic relation between them,
had begged me to present myself personally to urge intervention.
Baring was convinced that Tricoupi, as well as the late premier, was
bent on war, and would not at first believe that his request was
sincere, but finally, overpersuaded, did telegraph to London. I then
flew to all the other legations, except the French and Russian,
which had been supporting Deliyanni, and repeated the request to the
secretaries in charge, winding up with the Turkish minister, whose
ship had not yet arrived, and who was therefore still in Athens,
pending its arrival, and gave him the fullest explanation of
Tricoupi's position and the difficulties of it, and begged him to
telegraph Constantinople to order Eyoub Pasha to withdraw from the
frontier far enough to leave the bands no outlying detachment to
attack. I succeeded in convincing him that Tricoupi was sincere in his
efforts to keep peace, and the good fellow said at once, "If Tricoupi
is sincere, I will not stand on diplomatic etiquette, but will go to
see him at once." He did so, and found the Greek minister at the war
office, as he had taken that portfolio with the premiership, and
they arranged between them that the Porte should be telegraphed to,
requesting Eyoub Pasha to put a sufficient distance between him and
the attacking bands of Greeks to make a conflict out of the question;
and before nightfall the white flag was flying along the frontier, and
communication established between Eyoub and Sapunzaki via Salonica,
and peace was secured.

Eyoub's orders to cross the frontier with his solid column of thirty
to forty thousand men, and march straight to Athens if the attacks
persisted another day, were peremptory, and there was no force or
dispositions of defense to prevent his triumphal movement. There were
no defensive works, for the jingo Greeks ridiculed the idea of needing
a defensive preparation against an invasion of the Turkish army, which
they were confident of annihilating ten to one. There was no lack of
personal courage on the part of the Greek population, but there was no
efficient organization even of the so-called regular army, and there
was really nothing to prevent a Turkish walk-over as far as the old
frontiers of Greece, and even there there were no earthworks.

The sequence was disgraceful and humiliating. I wrote at the time that
"The wounded are not yet all in the hospitals when the attacks on
Tricoupi for having ordered the demobilization already begin in the
Chamber and the press. His happy arrival at the moment of danger has
saved Greece from, a disaster which, now that it is averted, the
Greeks in general will never believe to have been so near, and will
not accept as a lesson." And for the trifling part I had taken in the
final negotiations I was afterwards insulted in the streets of Athens
as having "prevented the Greeks from marching to Constantinople." They
got their lesson years after, when they were far better prepared for
war than on this occasion. But Tricoupi was right when he said that
the blockade was a mistake, and that the powers should have allowed
the Greeks to take their own course and learn their lesson.
Undiscriminating Philhellenism has been the worst enemy of Greece.

The flurry over and quiet restored, the heat, the excitement, and the
hard and unremitting work and anxiety of that month of May told on
me, and I broke down with an attack of nervous prostration and acute
dyspepsia, by which I was quite incapacitated from movement. Taking
the first steamer to Naples, I passed the rest of the summer at Rome,
disabled, until the heats had passed, for any considerable exertion.
But, contrary to the general superstition regarding Rome, it is a
city where one may pass the summer months most agreeably if not very
actively. The English ambassador of that time, Sir John Saville
Lumley, afterwards Lord Saville of Burford, to whom I owe many
delightful hours in that and subsequent years, used to say that he
knew no city where one could pass the year so delightfully as in Rome.
By strict diet and an activity limited to the hours of the early
morning and afternoon I weathered the summer, but each return of the
heats during the succeeding six years brought me a relapse, so that
on the whole I paid a long penalty for my participation in Greek



The following year was marked by the accession of Crispi to the
direction of the government of Italy. So many fables have accumulated
regarding Crispi, and such bitterness of prejudice against him even in
England, that as one of the very few disinterested witnesses of his
conduct from that day until his second fall after Adowah, and supposed
to be in his confidence, I am disposed to put briefly on record
my impressions of him. His popularity at that date (1887) was
incontestably greater than that of any other Italian statesman, but
the animosity entertained for him by the Radicals was intense, owing
to his most vigorous repression of all anti-dynastic tendencies, and
the bitterer for his having once been himself a Radical leader; but,
what was at first sight inexplicable, the hostility to him of
the Conservatives was scarcely less bitter than that of the
Republicans,--the former because he had once been a Republican, and
the latter because he had ceased to be one. The leading chiefs of
groups among the politicians were afraid of him on account of his
strength, and the court had the most cordial hatred of him, partly
because he had never tried to conciliate it or to conceal his distrust
of it, and partly because Signora Crispi was an object of aversion to
all the society of Rome. This aversion was intensified by the fact
that, as the wife of a member of the order of the Annunciata, she was
entitled to precedence over all the Italian nobility not so honored.

A Knight of the Annunciata is technically the cousin of the King, and
at the receptions of the Queen, Signora Crispi, who was really an
antipathetic person, had her seat in the royal circle, where she
sat as completely ignored by all present as if she were a statue of
Aversion. I am convinced that the larger part of the animosity shown
for Crispi by the better classes in Rome was due to her. One of
Crispi's oldest and most constant friends told me of a visit he once
made to his house with General----, one of the Mille of Marsala, when,
as they left the house, the general said mournfully, "Poor Crispi, he
has not a friend in the world." "Nonsense, he has thousands," replied
the other. "No," returned the general, "if he had _one_ he would kill
that woman." In the latter part of Crispi's first ministry we were on
friendly terms, though our first intercourse was anything but kindly;
but I avoided going needlessly to his house to the end of my term of
residence in Rome, except when the service demanded it, because I did
not like to meet his wife.

Crispi and I were never intimate, and the supposed confidence between
us never extended beyond the communication of political matter which
he thought should be made public, and which could be made public
without violation of official secrecy. He had far too high an estimate
of his position as the head of the government of one of the powers
of Europe to enter into intimacy with a correspondent of even the
"Times," a journal of which, nevertheless, he always spoke with the
respect due another power. "It is not merely a journal, but a great
public institution," he said, and he treated me as the agent of that
power; but intimacy in any other sense there never was. Crispi had, to
a degree I never knew in any other Italian minister, the sense of the
dignity of his position, which, to those who did not read the man
thoroughly, seemed arrogance, and made him many enemies. He had an
invincible antipathy to newspaper correspondents, but at the outset of
our acquaintance I made him understand that even if he did not see
fit to treat me with cordiality, he should not treat the "Times" with
disrespect. He had two secretaries, Alberto Pisani Dossi, one of the
most noble Italian natures I ever knew, and Edmond Mayor, a Swiss,
naturalized in Italy, and an admirable diplomat, now in its service,
an honest, faithful child of the mountain republic; and both these
became and remain my excellent friends, and, as they were permitted,
they kept me informed of the matters which it was for the advantage
of the "Times" to know; but until near the end of the first term of
Crispi's premiership we never came nearer than that to being friends.
I found his manner intolerable, as, no doubt, other journalists did,
and, as the relations of the journalists to the man in office are in
Italy generally corrupt, Crispi's aversion to them and their ways
accounted easily for the very general and violent hostility between
him and the press.

The tone of the journals in Italy has very little to do with public
opinion. All the world knows that, with the exception of two or
three dailies, the Italian papers are the organs of purely personal
interests, ambitions, and opinions,--not even of parties, which do not
exist except in the form of fossil fragments; and when a journal emits
an opinion or formulates a policy, everybody knows that it is the
opinion or policy of the man who has a dominant or entire control of
its columns. Crispi had his own journal, "La Riforma," which frankly
and entirely expressed his views, and he paid no attention to the
others. I happened to be on the way to the Foreign Office the day
after Crispi assumed the reins of government, and by the way fell in
with the foreign editor of one of the journals of the Left, exulting
in the accession of a minister of his old party. He said to me, "I
will wager you, Stillman, that in six weeks we are recognized as
official,"--which meant subsidized. He had his audience first, and
it was short, but within the fortnight his paper was one of the most
violent opponents of the ministry. I had my audience, and in five
minutes I turned my back on the premier and walked out of the office,
and never put my foot in it again until, many weeks after, some
trouble on the African frontier between English and Italian officers
brought me a request from Crispi to come and receive a communication.

I finally conquered his respect by showing him that I was the sincere
friend of Italy, and our relations became confidential as far as his
very rigorous sense of his official limitations permitted, but not a
line beyond. I have seen in his hands the copy of the treaty of
Triple Alliance, but I never drew from him the faintest hint of its
provisions except that it was purely defensive and contained no
stipulation for any aggressive movement under any circumstances. I
learned them from other sources, and, with the changes of ministries
and the diversities of their policies, foreign as well as domestic,
there is no doubt that all the powers are fully informed of the
details of the treaty. But personal intimacy, in the sense of that
friendship which obtains amongst equals, could never have existed
between us. Crispi is extremely reticent and reserved in his personal
relations and has very few intimate friends, and those, so far as I
know, entirely amongst the faithful few who were his intimates in the
days of insurrection and conspiracy; but I know him as well as any
one out of that circle, and I know him to be an absolutely honest
and patriotic statesman, the first of Italy since Cavour. It is my
opinion, too, that he is the ablest man not only in Italy but in
Europe, since the death of Bismarck. In 1893 he was urged to assume
the dictatorship, and the King in the general panic was willing to
accord it, but Crispi refused, saying, "I am an old man with few
years to live, but I will not give my countrymen an example of
unconstitutional government."

But Italian politics are only the wrangle of personal ambitions and of
faction intrigues. The Chamber is a legislative anarchy from which a
few honest and patriotic men occasionally emerge as ministers through
a chance combination, to disappear again with the first tumult, and
the influence of the chief of the state was never such as to guide it
out of the chaos. King Humbert, one of the truest gentlemen and most
courteous sovereigns that ever sat on the throne of any country, never
made an effort to defend the prerogatives of the crown, and accepted
with the same _bonhomie_ every ministerial combination proposed to
him, whether it comprised dangerous elements or not. At no time did he
attempt to exert the enormous influence which the crown possesses in
Italy for the maintenance of a consistent policy, internal or foreign.
Lord Saville told me that, when Crispi came to power in 1887, he asked
the King if he was a safe head of the government, and the King replied
that it was better to have him with them than against them, for at
that time Crispi was regarded by all Conservatives as the devil of
Italian politics. But in the following years Crispi's profound--even
exaggerated--reverence for the King, and his masterly administration
of the government, had laid all the apprehensions of the sovereign at
rest, and gained for him the widest popularity ever possessed, in my
knowledge of Italian affairs, by any minister. The King said to me
that he had the most absolute confidence in his devotion, integrity,
and abilities. Yet, when in 1891 an artificial crisis in the Chamber
gave Crispi his first defeat on a question of so little constitutional
import that his successors adopted his measure and passed it, the King
accepted with the same equanimity a ministry composed of the most
discordant elements, ignoring all the constitutional proprieties. At
a later epoch, that of 1893, when Crispi saved Italy from menacing
chaos, the King repeated to me his expression of confidence in Crispi
and his very low opinion of his only possible alternative, Rudiní, but
in the succeeding crisis accepted Rudiní with the same cheerfulness he
had shown when Crispi saved the position in 1893.

Nothing could exceed the devotion of the King to his subjects and
their personal welfare, but he allowed the ship of state to drift into
the breakers because he would not maintain the highest prerogative
of the crown, that of insisting on a ministry which possessed and
deserved his confidence. Knowing, as he did, that parliamentary
government in Italy had become a mere farce and the derision of the
country, he never attempted to insist on exercising any influence on
the composition of the ministry, which represented his authority as
well as the popular will, and in 1896 he yielded the dissolution of
the Chamber to the pressure of a court favorite against the advice of
all his constitutional advisers. Personally I was a warm admirer of
the man, but I regard his reign as a long disaster to the kingdom of
Italy, the greater because his personal qualities gave him such a hold
on the population that he might safely have assumed any initiative
beneficial to the state. He might have abolished the Chamber--he
allowed it to abolish him.

The return of the summer heats bringing on a recurrence of the malady
acquired at Athens, I was obliged to leave Italy for the summer and I
returned to England. On my arrival the "Times" manager proposed to
me a trip to America in quest of evidence connected with the Parnell
case. A professional detective sent out some time before had failed to
get hold of the threads of the question, and MacDonald, thinking that
as an American I might succeed where the professional had failed,
desired me to try my luck. Of the general history of that case the
public has long ago learned all that it cares to know. I had nothing
to do with that and am not here concerned with it; but I had a curious
and interesting experience in my visit, the object of which was the
obtaining of documents that would confirm the connection of Mr.
Parnell with secret and illegal acts in Ireland, with which the Irish
conspirators in America were probably connected, it being hoped
that some of the latter might be induced to give up documents in

I had warned MacDonald that the published facsimile of a letter
purporting to have been written by Parnell in connection with the
Phoenix Park murders was not what he supposed it to be, and that the
theory that it had been written by Parnell's secretary and signed by
Parnell was erroneous. It was clear to me that it had been written and
signed by the same hand and by the same pen. I had once gone through
a complicated case of forgery with Chabot, the great expert in
handwriting, in the course of which I became greatly interested in
the man. We had become friends and he had taught me all that could
be taught of his profession, so that I had some capacity to form a
judgment on the matter. MacDonald replied that they were certain of
their facts, and that they should maintain that position. There was
ample personal evidence that a letter of the import of that produced
in facsimile in the "Times" had been sent by Parnell to Sheridan, who
was implicated in the Phoenix Park murders, and that this letter had
been seen by many persons supposed to be in the councils of the Irish
party! and it is probable that Pigott had seen it and bargained for
its delivery to some party on behalf of the "Times." He was probably
deluded in this expectation, and, not to fail in his promise,
reproduced it from memory and with the aid of the handwriting of
Parnell's secretary and an old signature of Parnell, and delivered it
as the original. Confirmation of this hypothesis is given by the fact
that Parnell dared not bring his suit against the "Times" until the
forged letter had been shown in court in the course of the connected
case of O'Donnell, and was seen by him not to be the original. That
was safe in the custody of Sheridan, who had taken it to America and
kept it in hiding from both parties. It was the special object of my

The English detective who had preceded me had the naïveté to apply
to the chief of the New York detective police, an Irishman, for
assistance, and was handed over to pretended colleagues who were
really agents of the Irish organization, and so completely duped by
them as to be induced to send a supposed detective (who was one of
themselves) to Mexico, where he was assured that Sheridan had gone,
and led to undertake various operations which were simply contrivances
to make him lose his time and his money.

On carefully surveying the ground at New York before attempting to
make any direct application to any person whom I supposed capable of
furnishing me with what I sought, I discovered that the detective
service of New York was in the hands of the Fenian organization, that
the chief of police (now deceased) was their confederate, and,
above all persons, not to be taken into my confidence, and that the
principal line of transatlantic telegraph was under the supervision of
a confederate of the association. The latter betrayed himself at once
by the absurd difficulties he made about my registering a London
telegraphic address, which I at the instant saw to be assumed for the
purpose of delay and imposing on me a prearranged address, which,
however, I accepted with apparent simplicity and good faith. My
telegrams were of course to be in cipher, and this was so secure from
all attempts at deciphering that I had no anxiety about the Irish
chiefs solving it. I have heard in later times that they boasted of
having copies of all my messages (which is probable) and having read
them, but this was impossible, as not only was the cipher extremely
difficult to any one even who had the key, but the key was changed
every day by a scheme arranged before I left London and known only by
the office and myself. My cipher, if used according to the directions,
is absolutely insoluble by any patience or experience, and the Fenian
boast that they read it was pure "blague." I knew that they had the
telegraph in their hands and made my arrangements accordingly. But the
secret power of the organization surprised me, though I knew very well
the political influence at election time which the rottenness of our
politics gave them.

I obtained from a leading New York merchant a letter of introduction
to a well-known private detective whom, as a fellow-countryman, I
succeeded in so far interesting in my work that I had no difficulty in
getting from him all the useful information that he possessed; but
to my request for practical assistance he replied that half of the
detectives in his own employment were Irish, and that the knowledge
that he had taken part in any such undertaking as mine would lead to
their desertion and the paralysis of his own service. But he put me
in the way of getting the services of a most competent detective who
worked on his own hook, and from whom I obtained all that I needed. He
succeeded in tracing Sheridan to a ranch in Nevada, and ascertained
that he had the Parnell letter which we wanted, but that he did not
carry it with him, for fear of being robbed of it, and that he was
watched so closely by the agents of the Fenian organization that, as
my mission was suspected, my connection with the "Times" being known
to all the world, any attempt on my part to enter into personal
relations with him would be dangerous to me personally, and if I did
succeed in purchasing the desired document from him, I should be
killed, if necessary, to get it from me. Sheridan was willing to sell
it, but he considered his life to be in such danger if it were known
that he had done so, that he demanded a price which would, in the
event of his being assassinated, put his wife at ease for the rest of
her life. Later he would have accepted a much smaller price, and it is
said that a prominent English Radical, to put the matter out of the
possibility of renewal of the accusation, subsequently purchased it.

Pending these researches and the arrival of a reply by post to
my request at length for more detailed instruction as to certain
negotiations which I had entered into, I went into the Adirondack
woods for ten days, a movement which proved how closely I was watched
by the Irish agents. Since my early knowledge of that wilderness, a
railroad had been built through it, and to see the portion through
which it passed--a section far from my old haunts--I followed it as
far as "Paul Smith's Hotel," on the northern edge of the woods, and
then took a boat across the lake country, reaching "Martin's," on the
south, near my former camping-grounds. Two days later an Irishman
arrived at "Martin's" from "Paul Smith's," in a buggy. As I had made
no secret of my destination in leaving Smith's, having no suspicion of
being shadowed, and quite indifferent to it if attempted, I suspected
at once that our Hibernian guest was on my track. He brought with him
an old army carbine, but as it was the close season for the deer, and
the arm was rusty and unfit for sporting uses, I was confirmed in my
suspicions that his business was with any person who might come to
hold a conference with me. Finding that no one came to meet me, he
grew friendly and, under the influence of the good whiskey plentiful
there, confidential. He pretended to have served in the Federal
cavalry during the War of Secession, and that the carbine was his
accustomed weapon; but one day when well soaked with whiskey he was
induced to come out and join in a shooting match, when we found that
he actually did not know how to fire at a mark, and it was evident
that his employers considered that a revolver would be a greater
danger to him than to the man he was expected to punish, and so had
provided him with a safer weapon. I kept him pretty drunk for two or
three days, and he told us frankly that he was employed usually in
carrying messages between New York and Ireland. There remained no
question that his business was to take care of any traitor to the
cause who might have been so incautious as to meet me in secret, and
the caution of my detective that my life was in danger if I entered
personally into negotiation with Sheridan was shown to be justified.

As the negotiations had showed me that the members of the party were
not all incorruptible, and as I had learned that Tynan, who was
then in New York, and who was supposed to be the famous No. 1, was
conversant with all the facts relating to the murder in Phoenix Park,
I suggested to my friend the principal detective that I should make
Tynan a direct bid for the information we wanted, offering an ample
compensation. He replied that Tynan was incorruptible, and that my
proposition would most probably be regarded as an insult which he
would resent by a revolver bullet, "and," he added, "in the present
state of politics here, no jury could be found which would convict him
of murder."

As the result of my expedition, we obtained some unimportant
documents, though nothing that related to Parnell; but the picture
of the state of politics in New York, dominated by a clique of
conspirators and murderers, in possession of the police of the city,
and the telegraph service, sitting as a Vehmgericht in the principal
city of the Union, and paralyzing the criminal law whenever its
security was threatened, was worth some trouble and expense. Of its
truthfulness there remained no question. I did not depend on one
source of information in my researches, but, having had a confidential
letter to the English consul in New York, I applied to him for help
simultaneously with my dispatch of the detective, and he ultimately
confirmed the report of the detective in every respect, but cautioned
me on my first visit against coming to the consulate again, as the
surveillance of the Fenians was constant, and if my business with him
were suspected it might lead to needless complications, so that I was
obliged, in order to consult him, to meet him at some prearranged
place, a restaurant by choice, where we could exchange information
without attracting the attention of the Fenian spies.

Though the chief object of my mission was not attained, the
information I did gather was considered of such importance that on my
return to Rome the "Times," "for the good service rendered," added to
my salary the rent of my quarters, the only advance in my pay ever
made from the beginning of my service. I remained in charge of the two
peninsulas, Greece and Italy, as long as Mr. MacDonald lived. He died
in 1889, and though I have never had any ground for discontent at the
relation I was in with the office, under either his successor or the
change of proprietorship which took place not long after, I felt when
MacDonald died that the strongest personal tie which bound me to the
paper was severed. When I joined the staff Delane was the editor, and
though, on account of his health, he rarely interfered in the details
of the management, and my relations were entirely with the sub-editor,
Mr. Stebbing, whose real and hearty friendship was matter of great
personal satisfaction to me then and since, we always felt that Delane
was over us. When Chenery succeeded, the relation became one of
cordial friendship with the chief, who was a scholar as well as a
journalist, of whose sympathy for a good piece of work one was sure.
His death and the accession of Mr. Buckle in no manner changed my
situation at the office, but it was another editorial change, while
with MacDonald not only had I the relation of a subordinate with a
friendly chief, in constant correspondence on every point of duty
from the beginning of my service, but there were many and strong ties
between us in outside sympathies, and he was as kind to me as an elder
brother. He was most unjustly credited with the Pigott fiasco, but,
as I have shown, the evidence of the genuineness of the letter which
Pigott had forged was so strong that the experienced counsel were all
deceived by it, and the conduct of Parnell himself showed that he was
not sure that it was not the genuine document until he saw it. _Au
fond_ the "Times" was right, and its accusation against Parnell was
fully justified, but by one of those chances which occur to even the
most prudent, there was a defect in the chain of evidence at the most
important point.

The animosities developed by the affair found expression in terms of
the most unjustifiable imputations of collusion with the forgery, on
the part of MacDonald and Mr. Walter, which I have seen repeated in
later years; but no one who knew either of the men would for a moment
admit that there could be a shadow of justice in the imputation.
Mr. Walter, though of an uncompromising hostility to any political
measures or persons that he considered dangerous to the country, was
of an inflexible sincerity and honesty, and absolutely incapable of
the remotest complicity with a fraud. No other man of his race have I
known in whom the patriotic fire burned more intensely, or who
better merited the description of the Latin poet, "Justum et tenacem
propositi virum," or had more of the English bulldog tenacity in a
cause which he considered just and of vital importance to the country.
Slow to form antipathies, he was immovable in them once formed, and as
constant in his confidences once he found them merited. To his intense
conservatism and antagonism to shifty politics was probably due
the unvarying opposition of the "Times" to Home Rule and all other
attempts at infringement of the British Constitution, but so far as my
own experience goes he never attempted to influence the views of the
correspondence. There were points in which, in regard to Italian and
Greek affairs, he differed from me seriously, but he never imposed
a hair's weight on what I had to say, nor do I believe that he
intentionally influenced the tone of the paper beyond the exercise of
the inevitable control over its national policy. The antagonism to the
United States at the outbreak of the War of Secession was Delane's,
and not in accordance with Mr. Walter's feeling, but, like most of
Delane's views, borrowed from London society or the government. The
"Times" has its traditions like those of a monarchy, interests to
defend which are not in all cases those of an ideal state policy, but
are those which have made England what she is, and which are probably
those which will keep her what she is the longest and most safely. And
of these interests, and of this inflexible maintenance of them, John
Walter was the most strenuous of supporters. He was a consistent
liberal as far as he felt liberalism to be perfectly safe, but he had
the most vivid dislike of Gladstone and his ways; a dislike dating
from their earliest contact in the House of Commons, long before
Gladstone adopted Home Rule. And to this nature the character of
MacDonald responded as the natural executive. The following letter
which I received from Mr. Walter in reply to mine of grief at the
death of MacDonald, tells the story of their relation better than I

Bearwood, December 19, 1889.

Dear Mr. Stillman,--One appreciates true sympathy at such a time
as this, and none that I have received has touched me more than
yours. It is sad indeed to go down to the office and be no more
greeted with MacDonald's cheery voice and kindly look. His illness
was unexpected and its progress rapid. Within a few days after his
return from his holiday in Mull, he was attacked by the
complaint which proved fatal--"an enlargement of the prostate
gland"--brought on, I have no doubt, by exposure day after day to
continual rain, and accompanied by recurrent attacks of fever.
To myself personally his loss is irreparable, for I had been
intimately associated with him for thirty years, while his
connection with the paper, formed in my father's time, was very
much longer. He was confident, to the last, of the successful
issue of the great cause to which he had devoted so much time
during the last three years, and I would that he had been spared
to witness it.

Yours very truly,


Of the fourteen years of increasing and finally cordial intimacy
that followed Mr. MacDonald's acceptance of my services as casual
correspondent of the "Times," I have the unbroken record in the file
of letters received from him at every post where my duty carried me.
These contain the evidence of a noble, honest, and sympathetic nature,
whose loss to me was, as Mr. Walter found it, "irreparable," for
such friendships sever themselves from all relation of interest and

During the tenure of the joint jurisdiction over Greece and Italy, I
had an amusing experience through a report of my assassination by the
Albanians. I profited by one of the visits to Athens and Crete to
pass through Trieste and take Montenegro and northern Albania in
the itinerary. Disembarking at Cattaro I drove by the new road to
Cettinje, a magnificent drive with unsurpassed views seaward and
inland, but the abolition of the natural defense of Montenegro against
the Austrian artillery. No doubt the astute Prince understood that
after the recognition of Montenegrin nationality by all Europe and the
emphasis put on its importance by the Dulcigno demonstration and its
results, he could afford to ignore the hostility of Austria and take
his chances as the head of a civilized nation which had rights Austria
must respect. But even in this breaking down of a barrier provided by
nature he showed his shrewdness and tenacity, for the Austrians, in
passing the frontier, had made the trace of the road pass over an
elevation from which their artillery would command the difficult gorge
that was the gate to the principality, and the Prince refused to bring
his portion of the road to meet it but brought it up to the frontier
by a safe route, and left the terminus there until the Austrians
brought their road to meet it where the junction was in favor of the
Montenegrin defense.

My reception in Cettinje was one of the pleasant incidents of my
career as correspondent, for it was marked by a grateful cordiality
unique in my experience, and I saw that a people and a Prince could
retain gratitude for past services where nothing was needed or to be
expected in the future. The Prince received me as a brother. There was
no time to revisit under happier circumstances the familiar places as
I should have been glad to do, but I determined at least to see the
new possessions on the coast, and passing from Cattaro I followed the
coast road by Spizza, the impregnable (if defended) fortress which
had surrendered to Montenegro towards the close of the war, and was,
without the shadow of a right, taken possession of by Austria in the
settlement, and made a halt at Antivari. Here all was decay and ruin;
the damages by the bombardment years before had not been repaired, the
former Albanian inhabitants, mainly Mussulmans, had not returned, and
the Montenegrins had not come. I could not even pass the night there,
but took a boat from the port (there is no harbor) to Dulcigno. The
owner of the boat put a mattress in it where I could lie at length,
and so, sleeping, or listening to the songs of the rowers, or watching
the stars overhead, I found myself in the course of the night at
Dulcigno, where I was warmly received and hospitably entertained by
the governor, a comrade of the war-days. With a little expenditure and
energy Dulcigno might be made a delightful winter resort, the climate
being that of Naples and the surroundings picturesque, but Montenegro
has neither the capital nor the appliances to profit by its position.
A company had proposed to the Prince to build a port and construct
a hotel and all necessary appurtenances if he would give, in
compensation, the right of establishing gaming-tables, after the
fashion of Monte Carlo, but the Prince, awake to the importance of
maintaining the respect of Europe so fairly won, refused the offer.

From Dulcigno the road I had to take to Scutari was a plunge into the
unknown. I hired two horses, one a pack-horse for the baggage and the
other a poor hack for riding. The roads were fetlock deep in mud,
and the whole region so inundated that we often had to take across
country, profiting by the ridges to avoid fording the unconjecturable
depths of water in the ancient roads. At one point we had to pass a
deep ditch, over which I forced my horse to jump, but the baggage
horse refused it until pushed to it by main force, when he plumped
in over head, ears, and baggage, and we had very great difficulty to
extricate him, as the water was at least four feet below the bank.
But I reached Scutari fortunately before night, wet, bedraggled, and
muddied from head to foot, my clothes in tatters from the tenacious
wait-a-bit thorn hedges we had had to force our way through, and all
my baggage soaked, more or less as the water had had time to penetrate
to it. Not an inhabited house did we pass on the way, such had been
the terror of the border warfare still not dissipated. But from
Scutari south there were other dangers. The Albanians were in a state
of incipient revolt, and the country was unsafe for a Turkish escort,
if even such protection were not to me a greater danger, and I found,
not I confess without a little trepidation, that the only protection I
could count on was the consular postman who rode with the mail-bag to
San Giovanni di Budua, the first point at which the Austrian Lloyd
steamers called. We met with no annoyance, however, and though we had
at some points curious looks we encountered nothing more offensive,
but I decided to give up the remainder of the land journey till more
propitious times. San Giovanni seems to have been an important Roman
port and there are interesting remains of the Imperial epoch.

On my arrival at Athens I received a telegram from my brother-in-law
in London mysteriously praying me, "If you are alive, wire us." On the
heels of that came another from my father-in-law, "If you are safe,
telegraph to Marie," one to Tricoupi, then prime minister, to ask news
of me, one to the English legation from the Foreign Office demanding
information of my whereabouts, and another to the same from the
"Times"--to all which I could get no explanation nor could anybody
in Athens conjecture the why of the querying. We soon learned that a
telegram from Cettinje, based on a report from Albania, had reported
my being beheaded in the interior of Albania. I was honored by a
question in the House of Commons, and obituary notices were general
in the American papers. The official Montenegrin journal went into
mourning. Several kind-hearted ladies waited on my wife in Florence
to condole with her, but as I had telegraphed her on receipt of the
telegram from her father that I was well, and the Italian papers with
the news of my death had not frightened her, for she never read them,
the condolence was discounted and the condoling friends went away,
their object unexplained and their equanimity upset by the information
that she had received a telegram from me that morning. There was
a small compensation in the reading of my obituary notices, a
satisfaction that can rarely be given a man.



In the reorganization of the office consequent on the entry of a new
manager, I was offered the choice between the posts of Athens and
Rome. Personally I should have preferred Athens, but I had recently
established my family at Rome, and the serious objection to a family
residence at Athens in the want of any refuge from the heats of the
intense summer of that city at a practicable distance from it, was
an insuperable obstacle to my accepting it. The succession of Lord
Dufferin to the Embassy at Rome, and the friendly personal relations
which his large-hearted nature established between the Embassy and the
correspondentship, made the position highly agreeable. He was of all
the diplomats I have ever known the one who best understood how
to treat a correspondent. He took my measure as correspondent and
accepted me _pro tanto_ into his confidence. He used to say, "I tell
you whatever information there is, because I know that then you will
not telegraph what ought not to be telegraphed, while if you find it
out for yourself I have no right to restrain you."

In 1890 the negotiations between England and Italy in reference to the
occupation of Kassala by the latter, culminated in the congress of
Naples, where Crispi met Sir Evelyn Baring (now Lord Cromer), for the
discussion of the conditions. Until that time my relations with Crispi
had been such as he generally maintained with journalists, viz., a
distant civility, but in my case attended by confidential relations
with his two secretaries. I attended the congress, and was admitted
by both Dufferin and Baring to such confidential knowledge of the
negotiations as was possible. From Crispi's private secretary I
learned his views, and, knowing the opinions on both sides, I was able
to remove certain prejudices on the part of Crispi and so smooth the
difficulties which his suspicious nature raised. Unfortunately there
was one misapprehension on his part of which I became aware too late,
namely, that Sir Evelyn Baring was hostile to Italians in Egypt and
predisposed to combat Crispi's conditions. This was due to sheer
misrepresentation on the part of the Italian delegates, who were both
Anglophobes; and the conviction on the part of Crispi that he must
fight Baring as an enemy led to protracted and obstinate contest of
each point in the conditions, till finally, just as agreement had been
arrived at, a dispatch from Lord Salisbury ordered the withdrawal from
the negotiations, and the convention fell through, to Crispi's great
annoyance. His total miscomprehension of the large-hearted and
generous ruler of Egypt was a misfortune to Italy and to Crispi, but
the defect was in his temperament--a morbid tendency to suspicion of
strangers characteristic of the man and in the roots of his Albanian
nature. Crispi was not a judge of men--had he been he would have
avoided the friends who ruined his political career, and made friends
who would have strengthened his position. The efforts I had made to
remove misunderstandings satisfied Crispi that I was really
friendly to Italy and established more cordial relations between us
thenceforward. In acknowledgment of his mistaken treatment of me he
conferred on me the cross of commander of the Crown of Italy.

A little later the combination was formed in the Chamber to overthrow
the ministry. I had some time before befriended Monsignor X., the
victim of an outrageous act of injustice on the part of the French
government, and of accessory indifference on the part of the Vatican,
and he had repaid me by valuable information from the Vatican from
time to time. When this ministerial crisis was in progress, Monsignor
X. came to me one evening to tell me that the chiefs of the factions
in opposition were in conference with agents of the Vatican to support
them in the overthrow of Crispi. The Vatican promised to release
Catholics from the _non expedit_ in case of the fall of the ministry
and the necessity of going to the country in a general election. The
ministerial combination which accepted this pact with the immitigable
enemy of the unity of Italy, whose sole motive for hostility to Crispi
was the latter's invincible antagonism to the temporal power and
the immixtion of the Church in civil affairs, comprised a leading
Republican and Radical, Nicotera, and Rudiní, the chief of the
ultra-Conservative group, beside members of various groups of
intervening shades of politics. Knowing little of the rottenness of
the politics of Italy at that time I was amazed by the information of
Monsignor X., and went at once to the Palazzo Braschi to inform Crispi
and ascertain if there was positive confirmation of the information. I
asked him to use his means of intelligence at the Vatican, which was
always sure, and so well informed that Cardinal Hohenlohe told me one
day that Crispi knew better what was passing at the Vatican than the
cardinals did. On inquiry he discovered that my news was true, and
for the first time he understood the full meaning of the combination
against him.

That the King should have accepted Crispi's resignation under the
circumstances (the adverse vote in the Chamber, being a surprise vote
involving no question of policy, and, as all knew, the result of a
secret combination--a conspiracy, in fact) was a grave mistake on
the part of His Majesty, and opened the way to all the confusion
and parliamentary anarchy which has followed, and which to-day is
increasing and menaces the stability of the throne and the unity of
Italy. The government of Crispi had been most successful, his attitude
in the Bulgarian affair had rendered an important service to the
cause of European peace, as was acknowledged by Lord Salisbury in a
published dispatch, and he had strengthened the ties between England
and Italy; he had maintained perfect order, and had effected economies
in the national expenditure to the amount of 140,500,000 lire a year,
besides suppressing some annoying taxes and without imposing any new
one, and when he fell gold was practically at par and the financial
position solid as it had not been since 1860. He had decided on
the reform of the banking system, which would have prevented the
catastrophe that fell on the succeeding ministry, and the rotten banks
and the corrupt element in the Chamber which was in their pay were
the leading element in the combination against him. Under these
circumstances the King's duty was to support a minister who had at the
grave crisis of the death of Victor Emmanuel saved the dynasty from
a serious danger, who was universally known to be the only Italian
statesman whose nerve was equal to any sudden emergency, and of whose
devotion, as the King personally assured me later, he was absolutely
certain. That no reason for the crisis existed was shown by the fact
that the succeeding ministry adopted the identical measure on which
Crispi was defeated. But the King (whose death has occurred while I am
revising these chapters) showed on many occasions that, though loyal
to his constitutional obligation so far as deference to parliamentary
forms is concerned, he never had the nerve to assume a responsible
attitude or maintain the authority of the throne; and, while he was
ready to abdicate if popular opinion demanded it, he was unable to
withstand a factious and revolutionary movement as his father had
done, by calling to his support the statesmen who could maintain order
when menaced. His form of constitutionality was perfectly adapted to
a country where the Conservative forces were supreme and the
institutions solid; but in a half-consolidated monarchy, attacked from
within and without by dissolvent influences as is Italy at present, he
was a cause of weakness to good government. And Rudiní assured me when
I went to pay the formal visit of congratulation on his accession to
power, that the King had said that he was in the position of the young
Emperor of Germany when he threw off the yoke of Bismarck--he was
tired of Crispi's strong hand. The King later denied the statement
in an audience he gave me, but I am afraid that Rudiní was, for a
novelty, nearer the truth.

Rudiní as minister of foreign affairs began with a blunder which might
well have been fatal. When the murder of the Italian prisoners at New
Orleans took place, he determined to show his energy and patriotic
spirit, and he telegraphed to the Italian minister at Washington to
demand of the federal government the immediate bringing to justice of
the murderers under the alternative of sending the Italian fleet to
New Orleans. This amazing display of ignorance of the situation and
of geography appeared in the Roman journals of the next morning. As I
knew enough of the temper of my countrymen to foresee that this demand
was certain to end in war or a humiliating result to Italy, I jumped
into a cab and drove over to the ministry of public instruction, the
titular of which, Professor Villari, was an old friend of our life
in Florence, and begged him to go at once to Rudiní and urge the
countermanding of the telegram of the previous night, for, as the
federal government had no jurisdiction in the case, it could not
comply, and the imperious demand of the Italian government, intended
for home consumption and as demonstration of the high spirit of the
ministry, was certain to be peremptorily responded to, while the
menace of sending the ironclad fleet to New Orleans was absurd and
impossible of execution as the Mississippi did not admit ships of
their draft, to say nothing of the defenses of the river and the
certainty of war if the ultimatum were pushed. Vlllari at once took
a cab and drove to the house of the minister, and we never heard
anything more of the matter.

The presence (which nothing but the amorphous state of Italian
politics could explain), in that scratch ministry, of Villari, one
of the most devoted, honest and patriotic of living Italians and for
years one of my best friends in Italy, secured my support of the
ministry until their financial measures came on, and I was obliged
to expose their specious character in the "Times," when our friendly
relations ceased temporarily. Political opponents in Italy are more
likely to meet with seconds than at a friendly dinner party, as used
to be the case in the days of Minghetti and Sella, and this passionate
personal antagonism for purely political motives which influences all
political and social intercourse in Italy is one of the gravest causes
of political decline.

Amongst the notable men whose friendship I gained at this period of my
service was Von Keudall, the German ambassador, one of the most human
diplomatists whose acquaintance I have ever made. Like Dufferin,
he measured exactly the distance to which a correspondent could
be treated confidentially, without encouraging him to presume on
cordiality. Introduced to him by Sir John Saville Lumley, I was
treated as one of the diplomatic body, with the confidence which is
so important to a journalist, and as long as he remained in Rome our
relations were of the most cordial and unceremonious. Wishing to make
me a confidential communication one day and the coast not being clear,
he asked me, in the presence of others, if I had ever seen the view
from the tower of the embassy, and, as of course I had not, he invited
me to come and see it, and we had our conversation on the platform
of the lookout with all Rome and the Campagna spread out before us,
beyond the reach of others' hearing. Von Keudall was a power in Rome,
and no ambassador of any government in my time had the influence at
court that he had.

During the period of Von Keudall's residence Lord Rosebery came
to Rome, in an interval of being in opposition, and, as the late
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and probably a future occupant of the
same post, it was important that in a brief stay he should see all
the important people in the capital. Lady Rosebery, who was the most
assiduous and intelligent manager possible of her husband's interests,
had sent for me to ascertain who were the people whom he should know
in order to learn the true condition of affairs in Italy. Chief
amongst them I put Von Keudall, but, as Lord Rosebery did not know
him, and the custom of Rome is that the newcomer makes the first call,
Lady Rosebery was in a quandary, her ideas of the position of her
husband not consenting that he should make the first call on an
ambassador. At the last moment, for he was to leave Rome the midnight
following, she begged me to tell her how the acquaintance could be
made, without derogation of Lord Rosebery's position between two
portfolios. "Give me his card," I replied, "and I will manage it." I
had intended to ask Von Keudall for some information, and I made my
visit, finding him engaged with a dispatch, and as I wrote a message
on the business on which I had come, I added that Lord Rosebery was at
the Hôtel de Rome and was leaving that night, and left his lordship's
card with mine. When I got back to the hotel I found Von Keudall's
carriage at the door and him closeted with Lord Rosebery. And
certainly no man could then have told the English statesman the state
of things in Italy so well as the large-hearted German ambassador,
who enjoyed the confidence of every element in Italian politics as a
sincere friend of the country. He was recalled later on account of a
pique of Herbert Bismarck, whose untimely meddling with public affairs
had, I believe, more to do with his father's fall than any act of the
Prince. As an eminent German statesman put it, in a conversation not
long after the recall of Von Keudall, "a Bismarck dynasty could not be
tolerated." Von Keudall was succeeded by his antithesis, a nullity in
court and country of whom even his fellow diplomats could say nothing
in praise.

The Rudiní ministry had no long life and merited no more, while that
of Giolitti, which followed, ended in scandal and disaster. The
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brin, with whom alone I had had to do,
was an honest, able, and patriotic man, and my relations with him
were always excellent. The fall of that ministry coincided with the
culmination of the financial and political disorders which were the
direct consequence of the overthrow of Crispi and the demoralization
which ensued. From the beginning of the financial embarrassment which
came to its crisis during the term of Rudiní's government, I had
devoted much attention to the financial situation and had predicted
the crash when no one else foresaw it. But for Villari I should
have been expelled from Italy on account of my letters exposing the
situation, which created such a sensation that Rothschild wrote to a
financial authority in Rome to inquire what truth there was in them,
receiving naturally such assurances as only hid the trouble. But when
the crash came people said, "How did you know? What a prophet you
were!" etc., etc. Tanlongo, the director of the Banca Romana, which
led off in the crash, threatened the "Times" with a libel suit,
and accompanied the threat by offers to me of personal "commercial
facilitations" to drop the subject. The _argumentum ad hominem_ did
not weigh, but it was desired in the office to avoid legal troubles
and I was advised to keep a more moderate tone. The disaster came so
soon after, however, that I got all the credit, and maintained abroad
the prestige of a greater authority in Italian finance than I perhaps

It is true that honesty and courage are two things that a
correspondent has no right to boast of, for honest editing and
management presupposes them in him, and a conspicuous want of either
cuts his career very short unless he is uncommonly clever; but as the
result of my personal experience I may say that, having campaigned
with many English colleagues, I have found them to be almost
universally men of thorough honesty and unflinching courage.
Personality aside, I think I may be permitted to say so much of a
profession of whose real character and besetting temptations no one
can know so much as one of themselves, and of whom the general public
knows very little.

The financial authority which thus accrued to me became of not
unimportant influence a little later when the second scratch ministry
broke up under the financial depression, with gold at 16 premium, the
scandals of the bank affair oozing into publicity, and insurrection
breaking out in Sicily and Tuscany, with movements pending in the
Romagna, where the spring had come late and so saved the country
from a great disaster. It became so clear to even the most benighted
partisan that a strong hand at the Palazzo Braschi was imperiously
necessary, that even the strongest Conservatives submitted in silence
to the call for Crispi which came from all parts of Italy, and no
section of the Chamber except the extreme Left, who were the prime
movers in the insurrectionary movement, raised the least objection to
the old Sicilian's return to the position from which the most corrupt
and ignoble intrigues had driven him hardly three years before, years
of discredit and steady demoralization.

The disgraceful struggle for office then grown characteristic of
Italian parliamentary politics now assumed the most shameful form
that I have ever known. The general sentiment of the country was that
Crispi should be given dictatorial powers, and one of the Venetian
deputies, an ultra-Conservative, coming fresh from an audience with
the King, said to me that Crispi ought to be made dictator and that
the King had professed his readiness to confer that power on him; and
the chiefs of all the factions that had been engaged in the conspiracy
for his downfall in 1891 were among the most eager to enter his
ministry, when the King finally gave him the call to form one, after
having combined in the most desperate intrigues to effect some other
combination. In the anteroom of the minister designate all the
political world, personally or by deputy, was represented except the
friends of the insurrection, who fought him by every device. I met
there a Roman deputy who was one of the amphibious politicians that
breed freely in Italian politics, who gave his right hand to Crispi
and his left to Rudiní, and who, under the impression that I had great
personal influence with the old man, begged me to urge him to offer
the portfolio of Foreign Affairs to Rudiní. In fact, my defense of
Crispi in the "Times" in 1891 and the fulfillment of my predictions of
his inevitable and necessary return to office, at a moment when there
was no one in Italy who did not consider his career at an end, gave
me a purely fanciful importance as a counselor in the crisis and as
having great weight with the minister.

The obsequiousness of the leading politicians at that juncture must
have given Crispi a savage satisfaction for the contumely he had had
to suffer in 1891, and there is no kind of question in my mind that,
if he had then insisted as a _sine qua non_ on a dictatorship, he
would have had it with the almost universal approbation of Italians
out of office and the acquiesence of those who hoped to be in it.
Cavalotti, his most implacable opponent and personal enemy in
disguise, in a session of the Chamber made a passionate appeal to him
to avoid Sonnino and take a ministry of one color, i.e. the Left,
promising his entire devotion on such a concession. The hostility was
sullen and masked, but purely parliamentary; the country at large
would have been delighted to see the old man sweep the parliament out
of existence, and I am convinced that he might then have played the
rôle of Cromwell and received the support of nine tenths of all
Italians. The Chamber had become nauseous to the nation.

I was cool enough to see that the key of the position was finance, for
I knew that Crispi would make short work with the insurrection, and I
knew also the full value of all the possible ministers of finance
in the country, and their influence abroad. When I saw that the
constitution of the cabinet really hung on the disposition of that
portfolio, I did not hesitate to say to Crispi that, while I could not
pretend to any judgment as to the formation of the ministry at large,
I could assure him that if there was to be a rehabilitation of the
financial position of Italy abroad by his ministry, it could only be
by the appointment of Sonnino to the Treasury. I said to him in so
many words that Sonnino was as necessary to the restoration of the
credit of the financial situation as he himself was to that of order.
The pressure in the Chamber was very great to induce him to take the
finance minister from the Left and so move toward the constitution
of the government in accordance with the color of the majority, and
Crispi was urged that way by most of his oldest and most faithful
adherents, either unconscious of or indifferent to the influence of
financial opinion through Europe on the stability or success of the
ministry. I could see that he was hesitating and that the idea
of reconstituting parties, which had always been one of his most
cherished and important schemes, was very present with him, but I
think that the conviction of the necessity of the restoration of the
confidence of the financial publics of Europe finally prevailed


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