'The Scented Year Draws to Its Close': Outstanding Events of the World: Armistice Day, 1925-Armistice Day, 1926

I

THE appointment of the Morrow Air Board was the most statesmanlike act of the present Administration. That board submitted its report in December 1925. Its recommendations, based on exhaustive investigation by disinterested experts of first ability, furnished out a fairly complete guide for Congress in legislating for the needs of army, navy, and commercial aviation. I make no doubt that the future historian will find that its aviation legislation (following, in a general way, recommendations of the Board) was the most important achievement of the late session. Commercial aviation has not yet found its stride, but it will ere long; suddenly, amazingly. Aviation will soon be in the very forefront of the nation’s activities.

I am of those who believe that we should consult, not justice merely, but even ‘enlightened self-interest,’ by total cancellation of the war debts; but the debt agreements (except the British, of which no generous American can think without disgust) probably represent as near an approximation to ideal justice as may be hoped for under present conditions in this our world of so fantastic a political and economic structure. Of the important agreements, only that with France remains to be consummated. Really, it’s quite absurd. The French, so often ‘stung’ that they are morbidly suspicious, hold out for explicit statement of certain considerations implicit in the general terms of the agreement as signed but not ratified, and we stiffly refuse to indulge them; with consequences sufficiently sad for France. Now would the British act that way? Certainly not. At Downing Street, whatever they lack, they possess humor, magnanimity, the grand style. At Washington they are innocent of all three. Otherwise, with inward chuckle and a grand and gracious air, they’d give France her ‘safeguarding’ clauses; Olympus rocking with ‘sweet laughter.’ There’s no more humor in Washington than there was in old Jerusalem. There’s a Bœotian quality in the air. For example: a typical Washingtonian statement presents us as ‘the Good Samaritan in civilization.’ No doubt, no doubt. But why say so? Why not enjoy our own virtue in silent bliss, ‘ourself our own delight,’ as Shelley would say? Why render ourselves obnoxious to the Comic Spirit? The British accepted the above statement, but with the trifling substitution of ‘Shylock’ for ‘Good Samaritan.’

It is by no means certain, but it is probable, that we shall ultimately find ourselves on the World Court; though a further ferocious logomachy threatens in that connection. ’T is to be hoped the closure rule will be applied, as in the original debate on the resolution of adhesion. Indeed, there are few persons in the world whose views on any subject cannot be fully expressed well within an hour; and this applies peculiarly to some of the Senatorial opponents of our adhesion to the Court. The human intellect never appeared to worse advantage than in their attack on the resolution, which did to death a strong case. It is sweet to reflect that, if we do join the Court, we shall be quite adequately protected against League taint, and, indeed, against any other danger. ‘Safe’ is the word, down by the Potomac.

The Congress devoted the better part of its energies in the long session to the agrarian problem. All that labor, only to bring forth a silly little mouse, the Coöperative Marketing Act. I am, I shall confess, nonplussed. Anyway, it was a nice, genuine little mouse; not the hideous abortion so many of us feared. It is at least reassuring that Congress, despite its desperate embarrassment in view of the coming elections, did muster the courage to reject vicious (using the word in the technical sense) proposals. I will even concede that the gentlemen on Capitol Hill discussed the great problem with as much sincerity, as little selfishness, as is possible to gentlemen who face elections, each and every profoundly convinced that the prime interest of the State is not salutary legislation but that he should be returned to his seat. So much conceded, yet it has to be admitted that little light was struck out by the clash of oratorical weapons.

The problem remains, presumably not to be seriously dealt with in the short session. A solution must be found. The Coöperative Marketing Act is excellent, but the relief called for is far beyond its scope. It is quite evident that the farmers, the indispensable, the supremely important element of the community, are at a disadvantage in comparison with other elements of the population; and this through defects of the economic structure. It’s up to Congress to find a solution that shall at once harmonize with genuine economic principles and remove the farmer’s disabilities. Sir, did I hear you, in course of defending the nefarious Haugen bill, pish at my citation of ‘the law of supply and demand’? Did I hear you wickedly assert that the very idea of a tariff runs counter to the free operation of that law? Oh, sir, let’s change the subject.

No doubt the late elections would have been fought out on the good old tariff issue but for intrusion of the prohibition issue. Wholly apart from what may be said for or against prohibition, it is a cold fact that the intrusion of that issue has utterly confused American politics; has made it quite impossible to obtain a clean-cut decision on other issues; has done away the natural dichotomy between Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians. And one can see no end to this chaos.

Oh! yes, one can. J. B. S. Haldane, in his astounding little book entitled Dœdalus, assures us that within 120 years a completely satisfactory diet will be produced by synthetic chemistry; sugar and starch, for example, from cellulose, the proteins from coal and atmospheric nitrogen. ‘This will mean that agriculture will become a luxury and that mankind will be completely urbanized.’ In 120 years no agrarian problem, and, if you please, no prohibition issue. When all are urbans, prohibition will die of innocuous desuetude. Moreover, time, we have learned, is only a shadow of the fifth dimension. Presto! we’re in A.D. 2046, and everybody jolly.

Next to the failure to enact adequate legislation (or, perhaps, modify or abolish existing legislation) in aid of the farmer (for which sin I have absolved the Congress), the most serious sins of omission in the late session were two. One is in the highest degree disgraceful; namely, the failure of the House to reapportion the House seats to accord with the 1920 census. The letter of paragraph 3, section 2, Article I, of the Constitution will not have been violated if reapportionment is made at any time prior to the end of 1930; but it is clearly the intention of that paragraph that lack of correspondence between the populations of the several states and their voting strength respectively in the House and the Electoral College should be corrected as soon as possible after completion of each census, and in postponing reapportionment the House has impudently flouted the spirit of one of the most important provisions of the Constitution. No language of reprobation is adequate to characterize the action of the House in that connection.

The other great omission was the failure to ratify the Turkish Treaty. The Treaty would put us on the same footing as Allied nationals in Turkey — the usual footing of aliens in a country recognized as civilized and fully sovereign. We may, of course, have our mental reservations on the question of Turkish civility; but one can’t do business with the Turk except on the basis of such recognition, and surely we want to do business with him. Indeed, candor must allow the Turk the right to question the perfection of our civility; the which, as a matter of fact, he does.

We handsomely maintain our position as the criminal nation par excellence. It is pleasant to note that a National Crime Commission, directed by terrific bigwigs, is making a sweeping survey of crime in this country. It is proper to assume that those gentlemen regard their function as that of art critics and historians, who would discover the origins, trace the development, and set forth the beauty and majesty of our national art. One pants to know what share of the credit for the magnificent development of recent years they will assign to the movies.

Automobile accidents in the past twelvemonth were more numerous by six per cent than those of the previous twelvemonth, happily supplementing Malthusian arrangements by ridding us of the aged and unfit and weeding out the unalert children. Our annual automobile bill now tops fourteen billions.

The two most striking achievements of the twelvemonth by Americans were the discovery by Dr. B. S. Hopkins, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Illinois, of a new chemical element to which he has given the name ‘illinium,’ and Commander Byrd’s flight to the Pole. Illinium is the first chemical element to be discovered by an American, and Dr. Hopkins’s exploit came in good time for our national self-esteem, as there now remain but two elements in Moseley’s series of atomic species yet to be discovered. Not impossibly the discovery will in the end bring to the University of Illinois a glory equal to that bestowed by Red Grange.

Commander Byrd was, to be sure, greatly favored by Fortune, but no man has better deserved that lady’s favors. There was no flukiness about his performance, which was based on the most elaborate scientific study and experiment. Science, plus a stout heart, plus good luck; result, immortal fame.

The most lamentable and discouraging episode of the twelvemonth was the demonstration upon the occasion of the laying-out in state of Valentino, the movie actor. But one’s disgust should be tempered by reflection, how brief is the interval since man transcended the pack.

The day that Valentino (a capable artist in his way) died, there died a really great man, Charles Eliot; one of those men who indicate the possibilities of the race. Will those possibilities ever be approximately realized? Only by the right sort of education; the sort of education Dr. Eliot did as much as any American has done to promote. ‘Quick about it,’ friends!

II

I’m afraid we shall have to say that in regard of the coal-mining problem Mr. Baldwin has just muddled along. One may not deny him impartiality, good will, magnanimity; but one does not discover in his conduct of that business the required imagination, large address, masterfulness.

Apparently Mr. Baldwin has failed to recognize that the coal-mining industry is the central industry to which all other British industries refer themselves; that it is a transcendently national interest to which private interests should be postponed; and that in dealing therewith, though nationalization is not the answer, the principle of laissez faire should go by the board. Reverence for the principle of property should not be carried to the fanatical degree of allowing Economic Bourbonism — whereof the majority of the coal owners are the outstanding champions — to ruin the country.

The coal-mining industry was in the doleful dumps; was, as a whole, being conducted at a loss. The coal export trade was dwindling, dwindling. A Royal Coal Commission of thoroughly competent experts was appointed to investigate and recommend. Their report supplied all necessary directions for cure of the sick industry, involving drastic economic surgery and physic. Had the main recommendations of the report been implemented at once by vigorous legislation, compulsory at least as to organization, along with discreetly generous financial aid, by way of subsidy over a reasonable period followed by a loan, it is possible that there would have been no strike and fairly certain that a strike would not have lasted long. But economic statesmanship was lacking to the Government, and the chiefs of miners and owners have fiercely contested for the superiority in stupidity and intransigence; in which contest the owners have won by a hair. As I write, it seems probable that the strike will soon end in complete victory for the owners. But, belike, a Pyrrhic victory, my masters! I note astonishing Laborite successes in recent municipal elections. Meantime the industry, not having received the treatment prescribed, continues sick.

But no doubt, the strike over, the coal-mining industry will muddle on, more Britannico, sullenly and slowly reforming itself as, willy-nilly, it must do to carry on in face of the fact that the foreign market for British coal will never again be what it was; will, indeed, in all probability, practically fade away — done to death by oil, white coal, and larger and cheaper output by competitors. And the industries so hard hit by the strike — iron and steel worst of all; almost, indeed, to the point of complete cessation of output — will pick up and recover a degree of prosperity, even in face of the keener competition threatened by reason of the new West European Steel Trust.

How much greater, however, would be that prosperity were cheap coal available! But it will be! Again Heaven has shown peculiar kindness to Britain. Rich new seams have been discovered in Robin Hood’s country. The Bourbons of the old Mining Association, deaf to the incursions of reason, blind to the Spirit of the Age, selfish and arrogant, must heed this Nature’s handwriting on the wall. Humorous Nature has solved the problem, the while the Conservatives, by weakly yielding to the Economic Bourbons, by subordinating the interests of the commonweal to a grotesque conception of the principle of property, have muffed a magnificent opportunity; whence the very strong likelihood that, unless they redeem themselves by salutary belated legislation, they will be constrained to yield the power to a much-chastened Labor. For one happy result of the strike year is the recovery of control in the trades-unions and in political Labor by the moderate leaders. Should the British people become convinced that their leadership is securely established, another Labor Government would be on the cards. It is deserving of remark that from the younger members of the Conservative Party a note of revolt against Economic Bourbonism, clear and formidable, is heard.

So one great lesson of the strike year is that Economic Bourbonism is not the ticket. I have dwelt on that lesson at such length because it has not received sufficient attention. Obviously, another great lesson is that extreme radicalism is equally not the ticket. The two lessons combined, the grand truth, declared by Philosophy since its Ionian dawn, emerges, that in generous compromise, which looks before and after and is thoroughly informed by the Spirit of the Age, lies the true solution of all great problems. The ignominious fate of the General Strike demonstrated that extreme radicalism is ‘no go’ in Britain. It opened the eyes of organized Labor to the fact that the middle classes, hitherto regarded by them as incapable of effective coöperation, as ‘submerged,’ so to speak, are really the great power in the nation; courageous, resourceful, dead-set for constitutional as against revolutionary action. Incidentally, the General Strike exhibited the general temper of the nation in a most pleasing, a most reassuring, light; so sportsmanlike, so humorous, so goodnatured. Really, you see the makings of a new ‘Merrie England,’ once the present discontents are past. That popular fallacy, the General Strike, has been exploded; that Grand Sham has been relegated to the Limbo of the Fatuous; that absurd, though horrific, Djinni has been put back in his bottle.

But to return for a moment to Economic Bourbonism. Speaking generally, that great bane of Britain is being fast eliminated from the industrial structure; the which fact increases our astonishment at the excess of tenderness shown by the Government for the coal owners. The first effect from conning the reports of the Board of Trade is of consternation at the fallingoff of foreign trade shown; but analysis substitutes amazement that, all considerations weighed, the showing should not be a vast deal worse. The explanation is that ‘silently, invisibly,’ British industry is adapting itself to a quite new face of the world. Probably the heavy industries will never quite recover their old position; but other industries are growing up answerable to fire-new opportunities, new markets, especially those provided by imperial development. Most significantly, the automotive industry has of late taken great strides, though still only a lusty infant. Why? It is developing to meet the growing requirements of the outlying parts of the Empire.

So, then, in this so dismal strike year the coup de grâce has been given to extreme radicalism and Economic Bourbonism, and thereby the ground has been cleared for a phase of prosperity for Britain and the Empire compared with which the Victorian period will seem pelting and drab. Let me list what my prophetic vision presents to me as the chief elements of the development which is to have so glorious a result.

1. Reorganization of the coal industry so as to put it on a handsomely self-supporting basis and so as to provide, through low-temperature carbonization of crude coal (or kindred process), for the necessities of the realm in respect of fuel oil, motor spirit, lubricating oils, Diesel engine oil, gas and sulphate of ammonia, the 70 per cent residue after distillation being a smokeless fuel of calorific value equal to that of the best raw coal and capable of far more economical use.

2. General reorganization and reconstruction of industries and transport on the basis of electricity and oil, provision being made for distribution of electric power cheaply throughout the realm.

3. Adaptation to British industry and trade of what is best (and only what is best) in American methods, whereof the British have been making an intensive and very intelligent study; a new psychology to be induced by stimulation from the contacts with America.

4. The relations between Capital and Labor to be immensely improved; another leaf out of our American book.

5. Institution of a thorough general anti-waste programme.

6. Elimination of smoke and grime, through use of smokeless fuel, whence a neater, sweeter Britain and happiest physiological, psychological, and æsthetic results.

7. An immense development of the sparsely populated territory of the Empire (which totals ten million square miles, a very large part immensely rich in sources of wealth, agricultural and mineral, waiting to be tapped), chiefly through use on the grand scale of roadless motor vehicles, all-tracked or half-tracked. The problem of imperial development is mainly one of transportation, and here is the solution. The possibilities thus opened up stagger the imagination.

No, no — Leo Britannicus has had many hard knocks in recent years, but the reports that he is in a mortal decline are greatly exaggerative. No, he’s tough and hale and ‘a good enough man.’ If we gaze low, the prospect seems bleak. But up eyes!

. . . Look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

As I write, the Imperial Conference of Premiers, which opened in London on October 19, is about to close. As our information of its proceedings is meagre, the more delicate discussions being secret, I may be excused for brevity in dealing with a business so important. The considerations that enter into the grand problem of imperial federation are about equally economic and political. I doubt we shall find that the conferees have given a clear answer to the question: Is the Empire to be henceforth a self-sufficing, closely interdependent federation, or not? Before that question can be answered, the following subsidiary question must be cleanly answered: How is the demand of the Dominions for extension of operation of the principle of Imperial Preference to be acquiesced in without fatally prejudicing the foreign trade of the British realm? I venture the opinion that we shall find that the conferees have softpedaled on the main issues of the constitutional relations of the Empire and imperial economic policy. These issues relate themselves intimately to the project of European federation (to include all the non-Soviet States of Continental Europe) and to the coming International Economic Conference under League auspices. Would realization of ’Pan-Europe’ promote solidarity of the British Empire and aloofness of Britain from Continental Europe? Or would the effects be quite the opposite? It is significant that the conferees devoted perhaps their main attention to imperial aeronautical development. It may be that hereafter as hitherto, though in a new sense, the Empire is to be held together mostly by aerial bonds.

Exigencies of space forbid my discoursing, as I should like to do, of intra-imperial developments and foreign policy. Britain has remarkably solidified her position in the Near and Middle East, and her relations with Egypt, thanks to the firm wisdom of Lord Lloyd, have been considerably improved. Apparently, also, the situation in India is developing happily both from the standpoint of the British Raj and from that of the Indian people. Especially notable is the Canadian wave of prosperity. No praise could be excessive for the magnanimity of the British Government and Parliament in procuring a settlement of the Irish boundary question by forgiving the Free State’s considerable share of the debt of the United Kingdom and of war pensions.

III

After painful study of the matter, I find it improper greatly to blame the French (Government, Parliament — least of all, of course, the great body of the nation) for the unfortunate fiscal developments from the outbreak of the war until the demonstration of the failure of the Ruhr experiment. I do not blame them for their long subjection to the illusion that the greater part of the costs of the war and of reconstruction would be recovered from Germany. Man is preëminently a gullible animal, and, especially where Patria or Helen is concerned, believes (your hard-headed Poincaré being no exception) what he passionately wishes to believe. Le fantôme des Réparations! It may not be doubted that the phantom was honestly believed to be the real Helen until, with the failure of the Ruhr experiment, eyes were unsealed. With eyes on the lovely phantom, France was treading the primrose path of the borrower toward the bonfire of the franc. Yet, in a manner of speaking, the illusion was a blessing. Under its spell the worst of the ruin in the devastated area was repaired. Had disenchantment come quickly, that work might have lagged disastrously.

Up to that point of the unsealing of the eyes, then, the French authorities were more to be pitied than censured. But the behavior of Parliament thence, until the supercrisis of July this year, deserves censure more than sympathy. The eyes unsealed, the necessary programme of rehabilitation was clearly indicated; to include (a) a supereffort of retrenchment and reorganization; (b) genuine balancing of the budget, without the slightest soupçon of camouflage, however cruelly burdensome might be the additional taxation involved; (c) debt agreements with Britain and the United States, preconditioning stabilization of the franc, as opening the door to foreign credits and loans without which stabilization could not be consummated; (d) finally, revalorization of the franc at a low par, knelling ad Avernum the hopes of the rentiers. Instant action was called for.

But two and one half years went by and you noted, not, on the whole, progress toward realization of the indicated programme; rather, on the whole, regression. And the reasons? Some, to be sure, of honorable import, but the chief, sans doubt, selfish, vicious politics; all the vices of the French political system (not less numerous or vicious than those of our own) in full flourish and clamant assertion. Not even the magnificent efforts of Briand could avail to disembroil the confusion worse confounded. Meantime, the franc went slithering, slithering down. Early in July last it had fallen to 1.94 cents on New York exchange and looked in posture to take the final irrecoverable plunge. But at this point the conviction suddenly established itself in the minds of all except the international Communists and the scatterbrained Socialists (that is, the Socialists proper, the socalled Unified Socialists) that only by a common effort under the ablest direction, only by postponement of Party to Patria, could the Republic be saved. As to the ablest direction, there could not be two minds: Poincaré was the man.

Having formed an exceedingly brilliant cabinet of all the talents, and fairly representative of the entire Parliament except the extremists of Right and Left, Poincaré vigorously resumed the task begun by him more than two years before, for the which beginning he was sent up Salt Creek — namely, the task of realizing the programme above outlined. He perceived the first and main desideratum to be restoration of self-confidence. He has gone very far to restore it; whereof sure evidences are steady renewal of National Defense bonds and return of expatriated capital. The condition of the Treasury and that of the Bank of France have been very greatly improved; the franc has appreciated to the equivalent of 3.30 cents; again you see favorable foreign trade balances; a sinking fund for amortization of the internal debt has been established on a sound basis; revenue has risen correspondingly to expectations from the new tax legislation promptly enacted at Poincaré’s instance (increasing the total of taxation by 25 per cent), so that the budget is now genuinely balanced; Poincaré has cut to the bone by way of retrenchments.

Yet it is probably true that the limit has nearly, if not quite, been reached of improvement possible under his programme of pure self-help. Those best qualified to speak are fairly agreed that the next step — namely, definite stabilization of the franc — waits upon ratification of the debt agreements, at any rate that with the United States.

As I write, the French Parliament is about to reassemble. To ratify or not to ratify! I eschew prophecy, but speculate gloomily on the probable effects of refusal to ratify.

Ratification, stabilization, revalorization — the indicated sequence; revalorization at too low a figure to allow of much comfort to the rentiers. Alas! ye rentiers, for that by your misfortune that beautiful thing, the French civilization, suffers shrewd tort. Your hope of recovery of the franc to pre-war par or anything like: purest illusion, like le fantôme des Réparations! No doubt much will be done, in the not distant future, toward correcting the monstrous injustice of the present world financial structure; but too late for your relief. Meantime, ye’re shent.

IV

The great events of the year for Germany were the signing of the Locarno pacts in London, the admission of Germany to the League of Nations and to membership on the League Council, and the formal announcement by Stresemann that the People’s Party, the party of the great industrialists headed by him, had renounced the cause of monarchy and was now irrevocably committed to support of the Republic and the Weimar Constitution. The important implication of Stresemann’s announcement is that the Reichstag now has an overwhelming majority friendly to the Republic; and presumably there is a corresponding popular majority. The Nationalists are out of the Government; and I am inclined to think that the time is not far distant when they will be as inconsiderable, both as to number and as to influence, as the French Monarchists. At last one should be justified in confidently asserting that the Republic is securely established.

Of course Germany’s entrance into the League was epochal. She thereby well-nigh recovered full status as a member of the society of nations and as a Great Power. Not quite; certain servitudes and disabilities still obtain. Much depends on how she goes about to have these removed. She will be narrowly watched.

It is not to show lack of magnanimity, it is to show just plain common sense, to ask the questions: Is Germany actuated by a genuine strong desire to coöperate with other nations toward peaceful settlement of issues, or does she propose cynically to use the League and to repudiate it should it prove insufficiently amenable? Has the Hohenzollern taint been purged out? With just the faintest lingering shadow of doubt, I would answer those questions favorably to German honor and candor. There seems to me a fairly conclusive body of evidence that the majority of the German people regard latter-day Hohenzollernism with aversion and are yearning back to the Germany of Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe. If it be so, the world is indeed to be felicitated upon Germany’s entrance into the League; that faint whiff as of an African in the woodpile is an olfactory illusion.

The coming year will be Beethoven Year, the one-hundredth year since the death of Germany’s most puissant genius, of him who is joined with Shakespeare in a ‘couplement of proud compare,’ whose soul is concentual with the Ninth Sphere. Why can’t Europe be reconciled to the strains of the Ninth Symphony? Through the medium of those strains there may be a free intercourse of souls across frontiers, past all barriers of race, tradition, and prejudice. Did someone suggest a total suspension of Jazz throughout Beethoven Year? Oh, blessed thought!

That question of war guilt! That reiteration of the claim of German innocence in respect of the origin of the war! This writer is profoundly convinced of the guilt of the German war lords, but why not forget it? Why not leave the matter to the quidnuncs and pundits of a generation hence? Or, better yet, let’s say it all began when Cain slew Abel, and let it go at that. Let the Germans, to ‘save face,’ call their reparations payments contributions to equalize the burden of the costs of a war whereof the grand result is to be the eternal friendship of the French and German nations and a United States of Europe. Cease, you Germans, to harp on that discordant string, to the prejudice of the Thoiry programme.

V

Perhaps the most important developments in the world during the past twelvemonth were the acceleration of the movement toward a Franco-German economic accord and the acceleration of the larger movement toward leveling of the economic barriers throughout the European peninsula (plus Scandinavia). Consummation of a comprehensive FrancoGerman economic entente would inevitably be accompanied or followed by a cordial political understanding between the two nations, and a politico-economic federation of Europe — United States of Europe — would be the logical sequel of a general leveling of economic barriers. The two movements dovetail. Realization of the larger plan must presuppose a close Franco-German accord; while on the other hand it may plausibly be contended that a completely invulnerable Franco-German entente would not be possible outside a general European federation.

The smaller movement was ‘featured’ in the course of the twelvemonth by the provisional FrancoGerman commercial agreement of August, by the formation of the West European Iron and Steel Trust, by sundry conversations looking to combinations of other French and German interests similar to the steel cartel, and by the famous trout luncheon at Thoiry (of a politico-economic bouquet). The larger movement was ‘featured’ by the first Pan-European Congress, held at Vienna in October under the inspiration and direction of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, whose book, Pan-Europe (which everyone should read), is the manifesto of the movement; and by a ‘plea’ signed by international bankers of note and captains of commerce and industry and a similar document issued by the International Chamber of Commerce at Paris, urging general leveling of European economic barriers.

Perhaps the Count exaggerates (though I do not think so) the military danger to a Balkanized Europe from a recovered and imperialistic Russia. Be that as it may, continuance (and, by the same token, exacerbation) of the intestine economic strife would alone suffice to wreck European civilization. It is difficult to answer the arguments that the strife may only be ended by federation and that only by federation may Europe hold her own in the industrial and commercial competition with those great federations, the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations. Note, please, that the concept ‘PanEurope’ excludes the British Isles and Russia, but includes the colonies of the Pan-European States; by which inclusion such a federation should be practically self-sufficing as to foodstuffs and raw materials.

You say the conception is Utopian? It is not. To be sure, man is such a ninny that it will probably not be realized. But it is not Utopian; it is, in fact, under cold consideration by statesmen, bankers, and captains of industry and trade. The French Government was officially represented at the First Pan-European Congress. The President of the Reichstag and the President of the Reichsbank are ardent champions of the Pan-European idea. These be grand matters, whereof I might only touch the fringe.

Realization of Pan-Europe would go far, very far, toward ending war on this planet; and of course only a prime scoundrel could wish otherwise. Yet for the passing of war as chivalrously waged wistful regrets will persist, pace the Pacifists.

I had a dream the other night as follows: —

Behold a highway flanked with cypresses and aspens, and a sign with an arrow and the inscription ‘To Lethe.’

But who are these, this gallant mounted company? Slowly they pass, with downcast mien, while

In the white aspens sad winds sing.

Hector and Achilles, Æneas and Turnus, Lancelot and Tristram, Si Peh and T‘ai Tsung, Roland and Oliver, Richard Cœur de Lion and Saladin, the Black Prince and Bayard, Percy and Douglas, Sidney and Garcilaso de la Vega: all the noblest heroes of war and tournament. Once Sir Lancelot broke out with a ‘Tirra lirra,’ but his voice suddenly died in his throat. They are gone the road to Lethe. As the cavalcade passes from view, a glimpse of the Spirit of Locarno wistfully smiling and waving adieu.

VI

Though by royal decree the Military Directorate was abolished last December and civilian government of sorts (in what you might call an Hispano-Pickwickian sense) restored in Spain, Primo de Rivera has remained at the head of affairs; his subordinates in the Government (mostly military men, if you please) being drawn from the new party, the Patriotic Union, organized by him to carry forward under ‘a restored régime of constitutional normality the programme of the Military Directorate.

The programme is an admirable one, but in the expression quoted one scents that rich, woody odor made familiar to us by American party platforms; the odor, namely, of bunkum. For there was n’t any ‘régime of constitutional normality’ to restore; the old constitutional system being a preposterous sham. However, bunkum waived, it would seem that the Marqués proposes to bestow upon the Spanish people a measure of representation in the form of a ‘National Assembly.’ The precise character of the proposed body has not been disclosed, but apparently a leaf has been taken out of Mussolini’s book, and the representation is to be on the basis of ‘occupational interests.’ Oh, no! the Italian text has not been slavishly copied — the new body will be quite Hispanic; just as Spanish Gongorism, though deriving its inspiration from Italian Marinism, was yet emphatically of the Cosas de España.

For the rest, the Marqués has probably made all the progress possible toward realization of his programme in face of multitudinous obstructions; of which, not Catalonian separatism, nor insubordination and hugger-mugger intrigue in the services, nor clerical obscurantism, nor this nor that, but the deservedly famous Spanish inertia, is the chief. Something he has done and much more has been definitely planned in respect of irrigation; the same as to education. He is now addressing himself to the grand task of fiscal reform; next to reform of the services, the chief desideratum for Spain. He must proceed warily as to both; softly, most softly, as to the latter, as results from his initial efforts have demonstrated. Many will have it that his hold of power is most precarious. I opine, to the contrary, that his seat is firm enough. Wish, however, may be father to the thought; for I consider Spain happy in his leadership. Call him Dictator, if you like. But there are dictators and dictators. Most of them, to be sure, pests, as we have had sufficient occasion within the last decennium to note; but now and then, in the course of the rolling centuries, a good one, answerable to the temporary need of his country. Such an one, it seems to me, is Primo de Rivera; cool, sensible, magnanimous, and (most precious of qualities in a dictator) humorous. Though pointed toward efficiency, he lacks fanaticism in that sense. Like Confucius, but unlike B. Mussolini, he ‘is not desirous to have things done quickly, lest they be not done thoroughly’; he is a Confucian man.

The foreign policy of Primo de Rivera is pacific and nonimperialistic, but he has conceived for Spain a far more splendid rôle than her old imperial one; namely, that of leadership of what might be called an Hispanic Spiritual Commonwealth. It was in that imagined capacity that Spain held out for a permanent seat on the League Council. But ah! the pathos of it! It would seem that the twenty daughters do not respond with any show of enthusiasm to the mother’s call. You may say that the mother was not of old a good mother and so deserves the rebuff. True, perhaps, but nevertheless infinitely pathetic.

VII

Had Mussolini allowed a reasonable measure of autonomy to his experiment of a modern adaptation of Guild Socialism, the world in general (if not, perhaps, Italy) would consider itself in his debt. But by subjecting it to the most rigid autocratic control he has completely vitiated it.

It is quite evident that Mussolini has completely lost his head; that he no longer has any sense of limitations. There is scarce another instance in the modern history of civilized nations of such assumption of autocratic power as Mussolini’s; so great or so swift. A main lesson of that history is that any great departure to Right or Left is followed by a reaction; the greater and swifter the departure, the swifter and more violent the reaction. If Fascismo does not quickly regress toward the Centre, it will come to grief.

To be sure, the economic achievement of Fascismo (that is, of Mussolini, for the Duce’s assertion that he and Fascismo are one and the same is quite simply accurate) is considerable; but it is largely due to supereffort, supersacrifices, responsive to high incitement and not to be indefinitely maintained. The new efficiency must needs lapse when the excessive effort falters, when the limit of sacrifice is reached. You must not drive a people too hard; you must respect human limitations. Except, perhaps, for a brief period of a war à outrance, it is not proper to subject a people to unnatural incitements. In both respects Mussolini has egregiously offended; and I do not hesitate to prophesy that he and the politicoeconomic system he has constructed will pay the penalty. It is a great pity. It behoved that the old constitution be scrapped; that the old parliamentary system, a travesty of British parliamentarism, go into the discard. But only on condition that there should be forthcoming to replace it a far better system, at once corresponding to the peculiar genius of the Italian people and establishing on a firmer and more genuine basis the popular rights and liberties. Instead, Mussolini has produced a system of which the outstanding feature, which completely overshadows all others, is autocracy.

To be sure, a great part of mankind seem to be edified and pleased by Mussolini’s relegation of ‘rights’ to Lethe’s wharf and substitution of ‘duties’ therefor, and by his elegant funerary discourse on ‘the corpse of Liberty’; and they will tell you that Mussolini has given the Italians a system corresponding to their genius, as proved by their enthusiastic acceptance of it. The answer is that the Italian people are ensorcelled.

But though this ensorcellment is no doubt the most extraordinary instance of the sort in history, it is by no means novel. Germany, great, competent, intellectual Germany, afforded a similar instance the other day; we in America are now affording an instance not too dissimilar. There is nothing peculiarly discreditable in the Italian condition; men are what humorous Nature has made them, though perhaps she was in an especially whimsical mood when she created the Italian complex. Anyway, the doings of the Italians during the past year (particularly at this time of writing, the eve of Armistice Day) are out of all cess.

But what is the very head and front of Mussolini’s offending? It is the character of the incitements by which he holds the Italian people up to the mark, keeps ’em on the move, maintains their dander. The chief note of his policy during the past year has been the arousing of a ‘colonial consciousness.’ And to what, pray, is this colonial consciousness to direct itself? Not to any great degree, certainly, to the present colonial possessions of Italy. Those colonies could not by utmost effort of reclamation and development be made to accommodate more than a small part of the Italian surplus of population. Whose tuum, your Excellency, dost thou propose to convert into meum? Tunis, say, or Nice, or Abyssinia, or Anatolia, or Syria; belike every region o’er which the Roman legions thundered, the Roman eagles screamed?

Ah! forget it, forget it, good Benito! Thanks to William of Doorn, your fashion of thought is outmoded. ‘Trade follows the flag’ is ‘old hat.’ Keep on aspiring till the cows come home, but the Roman Empire is not going to be revived. In certain respects it’s a glorious, but in others a hideous, memory. You must reconcile yourself to the idea that, as the Italian population increases, thousands upon thousands of emigrant Italians will in steady succession identify themselves with their adoptive countries and be politically lost to Italy. Remember William of Doorn! Remember William of Doorn! Seeing that you have failed to pierce the irony of the great Italian, substitute for The Prince, as your constant guide, the Four Books of the Confucian Canon. Cultivate the Happy Mean. Hold thy wild horses, sweet chuck, lest worse befal!

But of course there are other aspects of Mussolini. You might say that but for that notable man Europe might be altogether under the spell of the spirit of Locarno. That would be a pity; some day there would be a terrible reaction, as from every extreme. Europe hath need of all three: Realpolitik, the Spirit of Locarno, and the Comic Spirit. Mussolini may be counted on to supply whatever may be needed of Realpolitik.

After previous attempts on his life Mussolini, to his great credit, displayed a share of the Cæsarean clemency; but apparently the last attempt has hardened his heart and bewildered his head. One may scarcely blame the Duce; three hair’s-breadth escapes within six months! Under such circumstances even a Cæsar’s equanimity might suffer a shade of impairment. But ’ware dictators when the fear of assassination has sensibly wrought upon their nerves, when magnanimity has given place to vindictiveness!

VIII

I regret that I must forbear discourse of a myriad other matters which have contributed to make the past twelvemonth in ‘this courtly and splendid world ’ (as the great Sir Thomas called it) a more than usually interesting one; as: —

Of Portugal and her coups, and how little the latter signify.

Of Austria and Hungary, and of how the Hungarian Counterfeit Plot created a stench that pervaded the planet and called for a cosmic fumigation.

Of Greece. General Kondylis’s gem of a coup and the fall of ‘Passionate Pangy.’

Of Russia, or Eurasia; and that, because of the meagreness and vagueness of reports from that great quarter, my silence should be esteemed golden.

Of Turkey. How she has completely reorganized her judicial system on a Western basis, taking over the Swiss Civil Code in toto and large parts of the Italian Penal Code and the German Commercial Code. Of how Turks did riot, fight, and die in resistance to the order from Angora that hats replace fezzes; and that men have died for worse causes. What joy to the shades of Swift and Carlyle! — the crowning joke of the matter being that the fez is of Greek origin.

Of Persia. Her new monarch, Riza Shah Pehlevi, and how one could wish to have witnessed his coronation, the greatest show of the year.

Of China. The chaoticity of the political chaos; and of how day by day and in every way the Chinese mess grows more messy and China never ceases to outgo herself in incredible fantasticalities and chinoiseries to make the fabulist gasp.

Of derring do; for the year has known sporting adventures of the first rank. In particular (for I already have noticed Byrd’s great exploit), of the flight of the Norge; how her gallant company were the first of mankind to supervolate the top o’ the world from Europe to Alaska, to gaze on the Pole of Inaccessibility, to pass completely over the ‘unexplored region.’ They were the first that ever burst over that silent sea. But, a saddening thought! When the last great secret of earth’s superficies has been unveiled (the polar regions fully explored, Everest topped), must there be an end to grand adventure? No, no — Nature cannot, having given us such ‘aspiring minds,’ cannot be so cruel. On to the Moon’s Sphere, on to the region of the planet Hercules!