SOCIAL AND DIPLOMATIC MEMORIES
BY THE RIGHT HON.
SIR JAMES RENNELL RODD, G.C.B.
EDWARD ARNOLD & CO.
The two preceding volumes of my memories would have remained incomplete without a third carrying on the record until the end of the Great War, to which much of the matter contained in them seems now to have been a prelude. The reception accorded to the second not less than to the first series has, moreover, encouraged me to continue. My critics have been so consistently kind that there has been little in their comments to elicit a rejoinder. One reviewer from the other side of the Atlantic, however, gently protested against a tendency to intermingle with really serious matter stories in a lighter vein as being distracting to the reader. To him I would reply that l did not set out to write a history of my own times, but rather to give a picture of contemporary life, as I had seen it from posts of vantage. Since life is compounded of grave and gay, my picture would be unfaithful without the lighter element.
Another suggested that I must have been surprised myself at being able to compile three volumes of autobiography. I should be disposed to agree with him had these volumes been more than incidentally autobiographical. Their aim was rather to convey the atmosphere in which events of importance took shape, to describe certain phases of an old order which is passing away, and to throw a more familiar light on some of the personalities who have played an important part in public affairs. Thirty-seven years of diplomatic experience in foreign countries have provided ample material. So little did I seek to be autobiographical that in the earlier volumes I refrained as far as possible from expressing opinions of my own, and endeavoured to exclude matter which was only personal. It has been less easy in dealing with recent events to adhere to this principle, and occasions inevitably arose when conflicts of view in matters affecting the public service had also a personal element. For any opinions which may be here expressed I am solely responsible.
One further criticism which provokes a reply is that of having been too discreet. In an old public servant due reserve is not only a virtue, but an obvious duty, and it must be a condition of the publication of such memoirs. Some who have lived through exceptional times with exceptional opportunities for observation may feel tempted like Procopius to compile an Arcana Historia, supplementing the more circumspect judgments of men and things which it is legitimate to express. An unexpurgated history of experiences during the Great War might be an entertaining document. But it would record conclusions derived from sources which could not be properly used and appreciations which, though the author might not doubt their accuracy, could not be supported by evidence which would satisfy the judicial standard. There is, however, to my mind something antipathetic in posthumous criticism, and what it is not convenient to say openly is best buried and forgotten.
I wish to repeat, more especially in regard to this volume, that all that has been recorded here is derived from notes in my diaries, from letters written at the time and from memory refreshed by these. The sequence of events as I saw and interpreted them is fully dealt with in dispatches which remain available for examination at a proper time and place. I have not re-read any of my own dispatches since. There must always be much which eludes or would be out of place in an official report, and my present purpose has rather been to reproduce the ambience in which historic developments took place, and to supplement the balder narrative with more intimate appreciations.
Finally, I wish to emphasize that in describing the attitude of Italy immediately before and during the Great War, the story of which begins with the eighth chapter, I have endeavoured to convey what I believe to have been the general trend of popular opinion. Certain groups, certain individuals were no doubt inspired by more directly nationalistic or even imperialistic ambitions, and were less concerned with moral and ethical obligations. I do not pretend to have fathomed, as some writers claim to have done, the recesses of the minds of San Giuliano, of Salandra, of Sonnino, or even of Bissolati, for whose political appreciations I had a great respect. The important point for me was that Italy entered the war on the side of the allies at a very critical moment. And this she could not have done without the support of the nation constraining and overawing an admittedly neutralist majority in Parliament. It is the mentality of the nation and not that of individuals which I have endeavoured to interpret. The Italian temperament is an inheritance from an ancient marriage between the practical and the ideal, the Latin and the Lombard. The practical and logical spirit reaffirmed itself when the hour came to balance accounts. But in the valley of decision ideal considerations played a greater part than has been generally recognized. And the idealists have had their reward. For although the nation, influenced by an intensive process of suggestion from groups or individuals disappointed m particular aims, has not yet realized the fact, the material results of the war for Italy have, in my opinion, been more important and intrinsically more valuable than those achieved by any of the great powers engaged in the struggle.
I gratefully acknowledge a debt to my friends Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Trevelyan who have been so good as to look through the proofs of this volume.
CHAPTER I: ROME, 1902
Lord Currie, Ambassador. Political situation. Prinetti, Sonnino, Giolitti. Diplomatic representatives. Social life. Intellectual society. Monseigneur Duchesne. Sabatier. The Keats-Shelley Memorial. Ninfa. The Shah's visit. Illness of King Edward VII. Vallombrosa. Summer festivals. Kitchener in Rome.
CHAPTER II: ROME, 1903-1904.
Sir F. Bertie, Ambassador. King Victor Emmanuel. Prinetti's illness. Visit of King Edward VII. Illness and death of Leo XIII. The Funeral. The Conclave and the election of Pius X. Death of Lord Salisbury. Bertie as Ambassador. Appointment to Stockholm. The Layard pictures.
CHAPTER III: STOCKHOLM, 1905
Swedish characteristics. King Oscar and his Court. Visit to Christiania. The Scandinavian crisis. New Ministry in Norway indicates dissolution of Union. Engagement of heir presumptive to Princess Margaret of Connaught. Sven Hedin. King Oscar refuses sanction to Norwegian Consular Bill. Norway appoints Provisional Government. Royal Wedding. Sweden agrees to dissolution of the Union. Karlstadt Conference. Prince Charles of Denmark offered throne of Norway.
CHAPTER IV: STOCKHOLM, 1906-1908
Summer life in Sweden. Frank Rhodes. Revolutionary movement in Russia. Domestic anxieties. Proportional Election Bill. Count F. Wachtmeister. Elk shooting. Visby. Diplomatic rivalries. Aland Islands. Death of King Oscar. Visit of King Edward to Stockholm. Death of Sir E. Malet. My appointment as Ambassador at Rome. Farewells. Visit to Canada and United States. President Roosevelt. An informal Cabinet meeting. Mr. Taft's election.
CHAPTER V: ROME, 1908-1910
Political situation in Italy. The earthquake at Messina. Aehrenthal and lsvolsky. Opening of Keats-Shelley Memorial. With King Edward in the Mediterranean. My official reception. Porto Fino. Crete once more. The diplomatic body. Herr von Jagow. Sonnino's "hundred days." San Giuliano as Foreign Minister. Roosevelt in Rome. Death of King Edward.
CHAPTER VI: ROME, 1910-1911
The Funeral. Kitchener. The Villa Rosebery. The old Protestant Cemetery at Rome. Cholera at Naples. Shakespeare monument at Verona. Prince Bülow. Fiftieth anniversary of Italian Unity. Exhibitions at Turin and Rome. Reconstitution of British school. Visit to Sardinia. The National Monument. The Coronation. Agadir. Island of Giannutri. Grounding of the San Giorgio. Outbreak of Italo-Turkish War. A Bismarck story.
CHAPTER VII: ROME, 1912-1913.
A Franco-Italian incident. Visitors to the Embassy. Attempt on life of King of Italy. The Dedication of the Campanile at Venice. Italo-Turkish peace negotiations. Germany and Great Britain. A Corsican Vendetta. The Balkan States attack Turkey. The Layard bequest. Death of Sir Reginald Lister. V. Jagow appointed Foreign Minister at Berlin. His hopes for an understanding with Great Britain. Austrian pressure on Italy to join in action against Montenegro and Serbia. The historic Ball at the British Embassy. Second Balkan War. Second Austrian attempt to involve Italy in aggression against Serbia. The Conference of Ambassadors. Albania. Aubrey Herbert. Deadlock in negotiations regarding the Layard collection.
CHAPTER VIII: 1889-1914
Antecedents of the Great War. Retrospect over relations between Great Britain and Germany from 1889. The part played by the Emperor. Estimate of the measure of his responsibility.
CHAPTER IX: ROME, 1914
The Serajevo assassinations and the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. Efforts to avert war. Italy declares her neutrality. We enter the war. News of Goeben and Breslau. Death of Plus X and election of Benedict XV. Propaganda at Conclave. British representation at Holy See. Counter-propaganda. M. Destrée. The anti-war groups in Italy. The interventionists. Salandra and San Giuliano. Importance of Italy's neutrality. Embassy Staff. Sir C. Capel-Cure. Death of San Giuliano. Turkey enters the war.
CHAPTER X: ROME, 1915
Sonnino becomes Minister for Foreign Affairs. Strength of neutralist groups. The American Ambassador, T. Nelson Page. Arrival of Prince Bülow as Special Ambassador. Earthquake in Abruzzi province. Amateur diplomatists. Bülow's conversations with Page and others. Giolitti and the parecchio. Negotiations for Treaty of London. Final decision regarding Layard pictures. Triple Alliance denounced. Internal divisions. D'Annunzio's apostolate. Mussolini. Majority in Parliament for Giolitti and neutrality. Salandra resigns. Popular uprising. Salandra reappointed. Parliamentary decision of 20th May. War with Austria declared. Demonstration at Embassy. Why Italy entered the war.
CHAPTER XI: ROME, 1915-1916
Opening of campaign. British Military Mission. An emissary from the ex-Khedive. Sonnino's Balkan policy. Italy and Germany. Difficult nature of Alpine warfare. Characteristics of Sonnino. British ambulances. G. M. Trevelyan. Charles Lister. Rifles for Russia. A hospital in Sicily. Summons to London. British Italian Corporation. Kitchener's visit to Rome. His views. Serbian retreat in Albania. Measures for relief and rescue. British Adriatic Mission. Lord Montagu. Red Cross and Blue Cross. Shortage of material and foodstuffs in Italy.
CHAPTER XII: ROME, 1916
Mr. Asquith's visit. The Italian Front. Reverse in the Trentino. Salandra resigns. Boselli Prime Minister. The Fascio. Shortage of shipping. Mr. Runciman. Conference at Pallanza. Contraband and War-Trade issues. We take charge of the fruit trade. Hemp purchases. Miscellaneous duties of Ambassadors in war-time. General Foch. Dr. Benes. Supilo. Pasitch. Propaganda. Donna Bettina di Casanova. The British Institute in Florence. The war work of the Ambassadress. Club for British soldiers in Rome.
CHAPTER XIII: ROME, 1916-1917
Military situation at end of 1916. Greece and the Allies. German peace proposals. M. Caillaux in Italy. Summoned home to confer. Conference at Rome. Mr. Lloyd George's plan of campaign. Proposals withdrawn. General Sarrail. General Lyautey. Briand and Albert Thomas. The Vatican. Death of H. Cust. Visit of Sir W. Robertson. Russian Revolution. The United States enter the war. Negotiations with Senoussi. Mark Sykes. St. Jean de Maurienne. Anti-military propaganda in Italy. A midnight adventure. My first leave.
CHAPTER XIV: ROME, 1917-1918
Orlando Prime Minister. Caporetto. Moral influences largely responsible. The retreat and recovery on the Piave. Conference at Rapallo. Arrival of Allied contingents. Generals Cadorna and Diaz. Spirit of the country. Enemy subjects interned. Sir Eric Geddes. Sir Cecil Spring-Rice. Mr. Wickham Steed in Italy. Conference of races subject to Habsburg Dynasty. Steed and Sonnino. The "Italian Committee." Anomalies of war-time. The Prince of Wales in Rome. The Guards' Band. Salaries. Austrian offensive on Piave repelled. Leave. Conditions at home.
CHAPTER XV: ROME, 1918-1919
Premonitions of victory. The advance from the Piave. Vittorio Veneto. Mutiny at Pola. The German débâcle The Armistice. Return of King of Italy to Rome. Preparations for Peace Conference. Considerations which moved Italian Statesmen. President Wilson's progress. Death of Roosevelt. Peace negotiations. Withdrawal of Italian Delegates from Paris and return. Departure of American Ambassador. Colonel Lawrence. Orlando succeeded by Nitti. Sonnino withdraws from public life. His death. My retirement. Mission to Egypt. D'Annunzio and Fiume. Departure from Rome. Subsequent activities. Byron and Missolonghi.