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really yielded nothing at all. Their opinion was that, as Italy had been given the strongest possible frontier in the north, a grant which included as Italian even the southern part of the Austrian Tyrol, and as the remaining land-frontier had been drawn east of the ethnic line, Italy had received all her just claims; and they considered, too, that Italy would be safe as to the Adriatic, an opinion shared by the American naval experts.
The other argument was that, assuming the correctness of the views of the American territorial advisers, the importance of reaching a solution outweighed the importance of the change in the line in Istria; that the difference between the two proposals was not great enough to be a difference in principle, but only in degree; that the advantages of a present solution so nearly correct in theory, a solution in which Italy had yielded her claim to Fiume, — a claim which, whether defensible or not, had aroused passions and feelings of a grave character, — should not be dismissed in favor of the mere possibility of a slightly different solution later on; and that a continuance of such a difference between two neighboring countries involved grave risks of war; or if not the risk of war, that it involved at least the possibility of the application of the provisions of the Pact of London — a treaty which everyone, Italy included, wished to discard.
I am frank to say that the latter was my own view; I thought that President Wilson should have yielded for the sake of the greater good of a final settlement as against the lesser good of the assumed correctness of the Wilson line.
Whether I am right or not, certainly the failure of the settlement brought about a year and a half of uncertainty, and made possible the mimic war of d'Annunzio; and the final result, as we
shall see, was more favorable to Italy in regard to Istria and the Wilson line than the solution proposed in the conversations that I had with Orlando.
Whether one agrees or not with the stand of President Wilson, one cannot but admire its courage and its disregard of political results; the man who stands for what he thinks just, even when his course is bound to lose votes, is almost as rare nowadays as the great auk. Those political results followed as surely as the night the day; the opposition to President Wilson capitalized his stand on the Adriatic question, and from their flotation of the sentiment which that stand had aroused drew large dividends in ballots.
After President Wilson came back to Washington, discussions continued at Paris and by exchanges between the various governments. Their most important feature was the proposal to Italy, made in December, 1919, by Great Britain, France, and the United States jointly, in which President Wilson, under the advice of Dr. Bowman, of the American Geographical Society, made substantial concessions from his earlier views. But this proposal was not accepted, and it was followed by the accord of January, 1920, between France, Great Britain, and Italy, under the leadership of Signor Nitti, an accord which President Wilson refused to accept, but which, so far as it related to Jugo-Slav relations with Italy, was in substance incorporated into the final agreement of the Treaty of Rapallo.
I omit any discussion of the occupation of Fiume by d'Annunzio — that amazing madness which destroyed for months the trade of a commercial city and brought about increased feeling among the various partisans on all sides, but which convinced no one who was not convinced before, and left the official attitudes of the governments of Italy and of the Jugo-Slavs unchanged.
Nor can I do more than allude to the matter of Albania — an important part of the Adriatic question, but one not so much discussed at Paris.
All ideas of any partition of Albania, or of an Italian protectorate, or even of Italian occupation of the port of Valona, have been finally abandoned. By a treaty signed on August 2, 1920, Italy, retaining only two headlands near Valona and the island of Saseno, off the coast, recognizes the independence of Albania within the frontiers of 1913; any doubt as to the separate existence of Albania is at an end: she has a real and apparently stable government of her own, and has, indeed, become a member of the League of Nations.
But the final settlement of the Adriatic question between Italy and the Jugo-Slavs is not unrelated to the inconclusive Paris negotiations. That settlement took place last autumn, and its moving cause was the American election on November 2, which obviously left Italy a free hand and which brought keenly home to the Jugo-Slavs the advice of the Scriptures: 'Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him.'
For just ten days after our election, there was signed on November 12, at Rapallo, a little winter resort near Genoa, a treaty between Italy and the kingdom of the Serbs, the Croats, and the Slovenes, which settled their differences as to the Adriatic, and settled them as the Italian government, not as
the Italian extremists, wanted them settled.
It is interesting to compare the terms of the Treaty of Rapallo with those proposed at Paris. Italy gets four island groups in the Adriatic, of considerable strategic but little other importance; and in Dalmatia a little territory at Zara. Fiume, with a small strip running along the gulf, becomes independent. Thus far, we might be in Paris instead of at Rapallo. But the Wilson line in Istria becomes a thing of dreams. Not only do the Italians get a frontier touching that of Fiume; not only do they get all of Istria; but the line near Laibach goes even east of the line of the Pact of London, making a strategic frontier even more strategic than before.
I called the Adriatic negotiations at Paris a failure. Perhaps I was too harsh: although they did not reach any final result, they demonstrated the obsolescence of the Pact of London, they paved the way for an agreement to be reached between the parties, and they showed the moral fibre of a man who wanted to be right, even while he was President.
I try never to think of what might have been at Paris, for nothing is more vain than to recast a mythical present from an imaginary past. One must be a philosopher and think of Sainte-Beuve's striking phrase in his introduction to the Memoirs of Saint Simon: 'On ne refait point l'histoire par hypothese.' (History cannqt be made over by supposing.)
THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB
In our town, as in others like it, the recent years have proved epochal. First there was the War, and after that the H. C. L., and after that the Coal Boom, and after that the Interior Decorator. On every hand new houses are going up and old ones either coming down or undergoing a transforming process of rejuvenation.
Contractors and builders are bustling busily, and our afternoon bridge clubs flow gently along, — like the tide of Sweet Afton, — to a murmuring stream of period furniture, oriental rugs, glassed-in porches, grass-cloth hangings, refectory tables, and breakfast alcoves.
One morning I received a call from an interior decorator. He was a pleasant little gentleman with a portfolio under his arm, and he greeted me with so obvious an assurance of being expected that I asked him to come in.
'I have called,' said he, 'about the period furniture for the library and dining-room, and I have here' — indicating the portfolio — 'the photographs of the special "pieces" which our Mr. Astrachan has selected for those rooms. The designs are extremely chaste, as you will see, and entirely correct in line and detail. If you are at leisure —'
And then it developed that he was a pleasant little gentleman who had made a mistake.
He had been assigned by Messrs. Astrachan & Kolinsky, Interior Decorators, of Fifth Avenue, to take charge of the furnishings and fittings of an extensively remodeled mansion farther up the street, whose owner bore the same name as my own. The homes in this section
of the town are not numbered, and inquiries at the hotel had resulted in his arrival at my door.
Followed explanations, profuse apologies, and a bowing exit.
Our interview had taken place in the hall, from which, through uncurtained doorways, were widely visible the contents of the library, the living-room, and the dining-room; and during the brief colloquy the pleasant little gentleman's glance — heavily bounded by tortoise-shell — had embraced with the sweeping observation of an expert the varied appurtenances of those apartments.
Incredulity, shocked disapproval, a look akin to horror, following his swift survey of the dining-room, passed rapidly in procession across his mobile countenance; and as he politely backed away, it was with the feeling of one artistically condemned that I closed the door.
In the hall I stood still and looked about me.
'Period furniture!' Surely no dwelling-place in all the town was so thoroughly period-furnitured as mine! The dining-room, now, — the dining-room, whose time-honored plenishings had received that devastating lightning glance from Mr. Astrachan's dismayed deputy, — were not that massive board of convoluted oak, and those six accompanying chairs, 'Jacobean'? They were — great-uncle Jacobean; indirectly inherited by my husband at the dismantling of his bachelor relative's oldfashioned domicile. The sideboard and china-closet — also inherited, but not from the same source — were eloquent emblems of an obsolete pattern, whose material and finish contrasted neatly with the table and chairs. The library at my right harbored the customary craft of libraries, — books aplenty, magazines galore, — but the desk between the windows was a middle-aged 'rolltop,' and before the fireplace stood an armchair with a gilt-embossed back and permanently waved legs — a 'William and Mary' chair, presented at my marriage, twenty years ago, by Aunt Mary and Uncle William, and held ever since in the reverence befitting the wedding-gift that was accompanied by a check.
The living-room across the hall — but here my descriptive powers fail, coming to a full stop, as it were, before the florid architecture of the mid-Victorian 'sofa,' the Bronze Age on the mantelpiece, the bent-wood rocker of the early eighties, the monastic simplicity of the Mission table, with its bulging-bowled lamp of Royal Worcester, and the rigid outlines, blackly angular, of the 'upright' piano in the corner. No, the familiar furniture of this wellloved and lived-in room is not, strictly speaking, 'Period' — it is exclamation point, preceded by a dash!
My mind's eye in its travels ascends the stairs.
In the large front bedroom is the Period of Archibald II. Here stands austerely the bed of black walnut, — the wide double bed of the old regime, — whereon my grandparents slumbered peacefully, undisturbed by scandalized fore-visionings of the slim twin couches of fashionable modernity. Here, too, is its companion bureau, ponderous, moving reluctantly, when needs must, upon complaining castors, and boasting a swinging oval mirror and a mottled marbled top.
Through the doorway of the adjoining dressing-room looms a mausoleumlike structure of carved and paneled cherry, which, like the dining-room
table and chairs, had once belonged to Great-uncle Jacob. Blatantly this article of vertu hits the eye. Frankly hideous it is, indeed — exteriorly; but within — ah, it is within that one must seek its adequate excuse for being; for behind its glossy red panels are smooth, wide shelves of fragrant cedar, where moth-inviting peltry may be safely stored. A separate compartment is divided into broad dust-proof spaces — spaces fortuitously ideal for shoes, admirable for hats. Beneath are four brass-handled drawers, deep and generous, wherein repose my most cherished linens and where, in un-cramped ease, my treasured centre-pieces lie extended, their broidered surfaces untroubled by a fold.
At one side an unexpected door, fitted with a lock and key, conceals a small receptacle quite perfectly adapted to the particular use to which I am confident it was put by bachelor Great-uncle Jacob. At any rate, as the little door swings back, a faint bouquet, subtle, alluring, salutes my nostrils, and I find myself thinking oddly of — of lemonpeel and Araby the Blest, and tinkling, delicate glasses.
There is, indeed, a legend extant, to the effect that, in the reign of Greatgrandfather Archibald I, there existed certain possessions of rare old mahogany. Whispers have reached me of a glass-knobbed 'low-boy,' of Chippendale chairs, of adorable top-tipping card-tables with pie-crust edges; there is even a tradition of a wondrous Sheraton sideboard. But, alas, these gems of antiquity were all reduced to ashes by a destructive fire, which necessitated the immediate erection of a new house furnished throughout in 'modern' style.
Perhaps, after all, it is just as well. As a family we should probably have quarreled violently over the distribution of those gracious relics. For what domestic disintegrations might not that Sheraton sideboard have been responsible? — besides occasioning the sin of covetousness in the souls of our friends and acquaintances.
As it is, we accepted our just apportionment of our ancestors' 'delusions of grandeur' in a spirit of resigned calm and the harmony of mutual commiseration.
But what is one to do — such a one as I, that is, to whom has descended, in the fullness of time, a proportionate share of the Lares and Penates of two dismantled homesteads, as well as a sprinkling of bestowals from several on the side-lines?
Sell them? Give them away? Cast them to the flames? Never! Forbid such sacrilege! Besides, — I confess it unashamed, — I don't want to. I like these things. I am'attached'to them. The 'Elizabethan' roll-top desk in the library where, in years agone, Aunt Elizabeth kept her circumspect accounts and copied her recipes; the cherry sarcophagus, where Great-uncle Jacob housed his wardrobe and assembled the ingredients of the mellow consolation that warmed his lonely heart, are companions tried and true. Chosen with anxious care and conscientious economy in the placid 'boomless' past, endeared by long usage and hallowed by memory, these 'Period' furnishings are now beloved members of the family; and so I am determined they shall remain, even though my gardener's spade should strike oil in the backyard, or my facetious Airedale unearth a coal-mine under the front steps. Nevertheless, my inherited honesty, chaste in design and correct in line and detail, forces me to admit that, at times, the rummage-sale has been a help.
Teresina has gone to school. I watched her round black hat, snug blue sweater, scarlet dress, white legs and
brown feet, twinkling away up the path in the frosty morning dew, safely escorted by an older black-hatted, bluesweatered edition of schoolgirlness, very patronizing and sweet in her role of friendly protector.
Teresina will come racing home at noon, full of wisdom: French words shyly attempted, crayoned chefs-d'ceuvres, 'writings' of incalculable value.
And I shall be so glad — oh, so glad! — to have her back again; to hug her and wash her and feed her, and listen to her complex tales of the big boy who cried and the light-haired boy who pushed her head off his desk when she leaned harmlessly upon it, and the girls who whispered and had to go out and sit on the stairs, and the dog who looked in the window. Teresina has given me five years of gladness; for she is curly and crinkly in body and mind, stubborn and sweet, amazingly good and appallingly naughty. Truly, to send her to school has been my adventure almost more than hers, such adventures being of the privileges of parenthood.
But to-day, after two weeks of school, my own private adventure begins. Today, for the first time in all her five darling demanding years, I am all alone in the house — and the clock just striking ten! For Jennie, the beneficent tyrant of our domestic past, has gone to command another kitchen, and to begin loving another baby just come from the Blue Children, as she has so loyally loved our Teresina.
Even though her departure means baking and brewing and sweeping for me, and many moments of regret for lost comfortingsand cossettings — I am all alone in the house!
This morning my new green dishes danced perilously from their suds; the steel wool scratched without pity over pans and kettles; the kitchen floor got a lick and a promise of further sweeping. I sprinkled a basket of clothes against