REVIEW of REVIEWS

When Sir Edward Grey Wept

Ambassador Page Tells How Leading Statesman Acted on War's Announcement.

BURTON J. HENDRICK December 1 1921
REVIEW of REVIEWS

When Sir Edward Grey Wept

Ambassador Page Tells How Leading Statesman Acted on War's Announcement.

BURTON J. HENDRICK December 1 1921

When Sir Edward Grey Wept

Ambassador Page Tells How Leading Statesman Acted on War's Announcement.

BURTON J. HENDRICK

I SHALL never forget Sir Edward Grey’s telling me of the ultimatum while he wept; nor the poor German ambassador who lost his high game— almost a demented man; nor the King as he declaimed at me for half an hour and threw up his hands and said: ‘My God, Mr. Page, what else could we do?’ Nor the Austrian ambassador wringing his hands and weeping and crying out: ‘My dear colleague, my dear colleague’.”

In those swift, nervous words is pictured the tragic hour in England when war with the central powers became inevitable on August 4th, 1914. It is from a letter from Walter H. Page, then ambassador for United States in Great Britain, to President Woodrow Wilson in the third chapter of the“Lifeand Letters of Walter H. Page,” compiled by Burton J. Hendrick, and now appearing serially in World’s Work. (New York)

Mr. Page opened his letter to the president: “God save us! What a week it has been!” The whole series of letters at that period reflects the super-tense pertubration of that period. “Upon my word,” Mr. Page writes further on, “if ene could forget the awful tragedy, all this experience would be worth a lifetime of commonplace. One surprise follows another so rapidly that one loses all the sense of time.”

Mr. Page aptly pictured scenes in London—returned travellers from Paris who reported indescribable confusion—people everywhere unable to obtain beds and fighting for seats in railway carriages— crazy men and women weeping, imploring, cursing and demanding. “God knows,” he remarks, “it was bedlam turned loose. I have been called the man of a great genius for emergency by some, by others a damn fool, by others every epithet between the extremes. Men shook English banknotes in my face and demanded United States money and swore our government and its agents ought to all be shot.” Mr. Page tells ef his visit to Count Lichnowsky, the German ambassador, the following afternoon:—“He came down in his pyjamas—a crazy man. I feared he might literally go mad. He is of the antiwar party and he had done his best and utterly failed. This interview was one of the most pathetic experiences of my life. The poor man had not slept for several nights. Then came the crowds of fright-

ened Germans, afraid that they would be arrested. They besieged the German Embassy and our Embassy. I put one of our naval officers in the German Embassy, put the United States on the door to protect it and we began business there, too. Our naval officer has moved in—sleeps there.” He paints a wonderful picture of Sir Edward Grey at that memorable meeting on August 4th, when he uttered the words: “England would forever be contemptible if it should sit by and see this treaty violated. The American ambassador came away, he writes “with a sort of stunned sense of the impending ruin of half the world.”

Of Sir Edward Grey’s demeanor at that meeting he writes:—

“Sir Edward, a tall and worn and rather pallid figure, was standing against the mantelpiece. Overwrought the Foreign Secretary may have been, after the racking week which had just passed, but there was nothing flurried or excited in his manner; his whole bearing was calm and dignified, his speech was quiet and restrained, he uttered not one bitter word against Germany, but his measured accents had a sureness, a conviction of the justice of his course, that went home in almost deadly fashion. He sat in a characteristic pose, his elbows resting on the sides or his chair, his hands folded and placed beneath his chin, the whole body leaning forward eagerly” and his eyes searching those of his American friend. The British Foreign Secretary was a handsome and an inspiring figure. He was a man of large, but of well knit, robust, and slender frame, wiry and even athletic; he had a large head, surmounted with dark brown hair, slightly touched with gray; a finely cut, somewhat rugged and bronzed face, suggestive of that out-of-door life in which he had always found his greatest pleasure: light blue eyes that shone with straightforwardness and that on this occasion were somewhat pensive with anxiety; thin, ascetic lips that could smile in the most confidential manner or close tightly with grimness and fixed purpose. He was a man who was at the same time shy and determined, elusive and definite, but at the same time if there was one note in his bearing that predominated all other, it was a solemn and qu:et si eerity. He seemed utterly without guile and magnificently simple.