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701 B48r 5 

Berenson 

Rumor and reflection 

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BOOKS BY BERNARD BERENSON 

Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (1894) 
Lorenzo Lotto, An Essay in Constructive Art Criticism ( 1895) 

Florentine Painters of the Renaissance ( 1896) 
Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance ( 1897) 
The Study and Criticism of Italian Art (3 volumes) 

(1901; 1902; 1916) 

The Drawings of the Florentine Painters (1903) 

North Italian Painters of the Renaissance ( 1907) 

Sassetta, Sienese Painter of the Franciscan Legend (1910) 

Catalogue of the Italian Masters in the J. G. Johnson Collection 



Venetian Painting in America (1916) (Italian edition, 1919) 

Essays in the Study of Sienese Painting (1918) 
Catalogue of Italian Masters of the Widener Collection (1916) 

Three Essays in Method ( 1927) 

Studies of Medieval Painting (1930) 

Introductory Essay to the Speculum Humanae Salvationis of the 

Riches Collection (1927) 

The Italian Painters of the Renaissance ( 1932) 
The Italian Pictures of the Renaissance ( 1932.) 

Metodo e Attribuzioni (1947) 

Aesthetics, Ethics and History (1948) 

Sketch for a Self -Portrait (1949) 

Echi e Riflessioni (1950) 

Piero della Francesca o DelFarte non Eloquente (1950) 
Del Caravaggio, delle sue Incongruenze e della Sua Fama 



Alberto Sard, An Artist Out of His Time (1951) 

Vedere e Sapere (1951) 

Rumor and Reflection (1952) 

L'arco di Costantino e la Decadenza della Forma ( 1952) 




DMITRI KESSELL 



Rumor and 
Reflection 



BY 



BERNARD BERENSON 



19 




52 



SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

New York 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 
INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION 

IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN ANY FORM 

COPYRIGHT, 1952, BY BERNARD BERENSON 

PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, INC. 

ROCKEFELLER CENTER, 630 FIFTH AVENUE 

NEW YORK 20, N, Y. 

THIRD PRINTING 



Frontispiece by LIFE Photographer 
Dmitri Kessel, copyright TIME Inc. 



MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY KINGSPORT PRESS, INC., KINGSPORT, TENN, 



TO 

NICKY 



"Edel sei der Mensch Hilfreich 
und gut" 

GOETHE, Das Gottliche 



Contents 



PREFACE 

page ix 



1941 



1942 

page 59 

- 1943 - 



page 105 



1944 



page 199 

EPILOGUE 

page 441 



INDEX 

page 447 



Preface 



LET ME try to tell why I have chosen Rumor and Reflection for 
the title of my diary. 

The greater part of it was written while I was in hiding from the 
rage of the gangs who, in the enjoyment of Nazi approval and sup- 
port, could throw of- the restraints of the more bourgeois elements 
of the Fascist regime, and return to the reckless violence with 
which it had started out. I read Italian and German dailies and 
listened to radio news from France and England, but direct con- 
tacts with the living world were limited to my hosts and fellow 
guests, or to a changing number of acquaintances of my hosts 
who found it convenient to disappear for short periods from 
Fascist-Nazi eyes. 

After more than sixty years in which I have been reading intel- 
lectualized, geometrized, dehumanized, or tendentious history I 
have come to question whether we get through it a more intelligi- 
ble panorama of a given period in the past than by reading bards 
like Herodotus and Livy on Persian and Punic wars, or Carlyle and 
Michelet with their somewhat more trustworthy account of causes 
and consequences, of motive and realization in the French Revo- 
lution. Even these do not give me the warm feeling of intimacy 
with the past that I get from diaries and letters. When I read 
Greville or the correspondence contained in the lives of public 

ix 



X PREFACE 

men, say of the Lord Clarendon of a hundred years ago, I feel the 
same sensation as being in it, of touching history in the making, as 
when looking through a batch of morning papers. 

Jet of what do the papers consist? Of rumors that may turn out 
to be events, of gossip about yesterday, of guesses about tomor- 
row, of attempts to shape the past into a model for the future and 
to steer tomorrow as today ( but perhaps not when tomorrow has 
become today} in the direction that we wish it to go. 

Nobody denies that this or that occurrence took place in the 
past: say the change-over from an orderly world state like the 
pagan Roman Empire to the all but anarchical, monastic one of 
Western and Central Europe in our seventh and eighth centuries. 
Discussions as to how, why, whether for worse or for better that 
make up the bulk of history books are not in the nature of events 
but of what people think and tattle about them. For my part I see 
little difference, except in quality, between pompous, self-admir- 
ing historians like Gibbon, and romancers writing about the same 
period like Felix Dahn or AmSdee Thierry. Or, coming nearer to 
our day, I wonder whether the majority of Frenchmen do not get 
a better acquaintance with their sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies reading Dumas when boys than they acquire later from 
Chartist historians, Dumas gossips in evocative, glowing fashion 
about the past and the others add up statistics and philosophize 
about them in a way that is just as much a mere interpretation. 
And all interpretations or conclusions, based as they are in the 
realms of history on data so inadequate, so questionable, can only 
be in the nature of what we happen to feel and think about them 
of gossip, in short. Indeed, William James used to say: Come, 
let us gossip about the universe! Six decades have passed and mar- 
velous discoveries have been made, yet I question whether he 
would be less inclined to feel that it was all gossip. 

Maybe even the principal actors do not know from day to day 
just what is happening. Man, say a Hitler, proposes but a complex 
of forces beyond his control, beyond his ken even, disposes. He 
too can only guess. 

What matters is not events but what we think about them. Any 



PREFACE XI 

number are now occurring that in a few years may change the 
quality of living. Yet they do not affect us until we begin to hear 
rumors, and gossip, and chatter about them. 

To conclude: I seldom took the rumors that reached me for 
more than suspensions for inquiry. As revelations of states of mind 
they were positive, for they told me what a representative section 
of Tuscan, and perhaps all Italian upper-class society, had been 
trained to feel, and what they fancied they were thinking about 
each day's events. 

Their state of mind, their reactions should not be ignored if we 
would understand how, in the long run, Italians are likely to take 
trial and error in the field of politics. 

So much for rumor. I need not explain what I mean by reflec- 
tion. According to mood and humor and leisure I put down what 
the gossip of the day, what conversation, what the books and pa- 
pers I was reading, what my musings and daydreamings stimu- 
lated me to write. Not all then put down appears here. Omitted 
are subjects that unfortunately have grown more controversial 
with time, and liable to rouse exasperated feeling rather than calm 
reflection. 

I have changed nothing in the text and added nothing to make 
me appear wiser after the event. Only repetitions and short pas- 
sages that might hurt friends and names not worth publicizing 
have been omitted. 

I am indebted to Raymond Mortimer for his help in preparing 
the manuscript for the printer. Also to Hugh Trevor Roper, who in 
reading over the proofsheets has made a number of valuable cor- 
rections. 

B. B. 

I TATTI, SETTIGNANO 

May 4, 1952 



1941 



January ist New Years Day 

No RESOLUTIONS at my age, unless to be as little of a nuisance 
as possible to others first, and then to myself, for the rest of my 
days. 

How deeply patent conventions like the days of the week, the 
numbers attached to dates, the holidays, feast days and fast days, 
have sunk into our minds and furrowed channels of habit! Here I 
am, a rational being, convinced that within the universe, as we 
know it, there is no force outside ourselves that we can appeal to 
with prayer or compel with magic, no conceivable intelligence 
aware of our existence, ready to marshal the stars in their courses 
to serve our individual, momentary needs. Nevertheless I am un- 
able to forget that a year, a month, begins on a Friday, or that a 
birthday falls on a thirteenth. Moreover, I dislike to see the new 
moon on a Friday or on a thirteenth, and I avoid initiating any- 
thing or undertaking a journey on the same unlucky day or date. 
How absurd for a person with my education, my reading, my life- 
long efforts to think clearly and to think things out, to remain 
affected by such primitive superstitions. 

So it is, but when I come up against people with no feeling for 
the numinous, no awe before the universe, no ever-present sense 
of the precariousness of human life, as happens with my Mary and 
many other Americans of English descent, I feel almost as remote 

3 



4 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

from them as I do from the prescientific mind of the Mediterra- 
nean lower classes, be they Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Turk- 
ish, Arab, or Berber, Christian, Jewish, or Mohammedan. I wonder 
at times whether art of any kind, poetry, painting, music, sculp- 
ture, and architecture, can flower and ripen on a humus entirely 
free from the state of mind that lies open to superstition. 

At my age, dates and seasons get nearer and nearer to each 
other. Soon they will be like the spokes of a wheel going so fast 
that they merge. Scarcely does it seem worth while any more to 
take count of the differences between summer and winter. Each 
passes so swiftly. Yet provision must be made against the cold, 
which I fear more and more: I have already reached the limits of 
clothing that in hard winter days will keep me warm out of doors. 
Thus far I have discovered but one place where I could be com- 
fortable in the worst winter months. It is not Egypt, which is no- 
where warm enough without heating in the evening. And heating 
is all but unprocurable. Only at Wadi Haifa by the second cata- 
ract of the Nile have I discovered a temperature and air that are 
bland enough to suit me. The present man-quake makes transport- 
ing oneself impossible, and when it is over, shall we be able soon 
to go so far, or to find creature comforts if we get there? 

The past year has been one to rouse indignation because of the 
most deliberate attempt to destroy the humanized society that for 
many centuries we had been trying to create. Besides, there were 
for me private worries. Mary's health, whether physical or mental, 
was far from satisfactory. I foresaw trouble in transporting her, 
should we have to leave and take refuge in America in America, 
where private attendance is so difficult to procure. Yet friends 
were urging me to go, because foes were suspecting and accusing 
me of carrying on propaganda and even spying. We were avoided 
by all but the fewest. An atmosphere increasingly hostile thick- 
ened around us. 

Little good to be said for the old year. So humble have we got, 
so modest in our expectations, that all I venture to hope for in this 
new year is that it shall not be worse than the last; and that a year 
hence we may still be here, all of us, that I may still be enjoying 



JANUARY, 1941 5 

my library, my walks, my few faithful friends, my meditations, my 
daydreams. 



January %d 

WHAT SHALL we be like when this war is over? I expect Italy to 
change least and England most. Not only will so many English 
cities and towns have to be rebuilt almost entirely ( and in what 
style! ) , but it will be an England where no longer the gentry but 
the laboring classes will govern. Will these last be seething with 
resentment and hatred of les riches and les aristos, as they do in 
France, in which case the future will be black indeed; or will they 
have been permeated by ideals and sentiments that their upper 
crust preached and tried to practice, as for instance fair play, 
tolerance of opposition, reasoned humanitarianism? Will they, in 
short, not only entertain the wish to govern for the Aation as a 
whole but be ready to recognize that their good cannot be bought 
at the expense of others? Will they think of their fellow English- 
men first, to be sure, but of the rest of mankind as well, as partners 
in a great estate, everybody's care and everybody's reward? If 
they can take up the burden of the previous governing class, 
which, despite its too human shortcomings, meant well by the 
others, then there will be hope of recovery with the best elements 
coming to the top, and forming a good as well as great society, 
a model to the rest of the world. 

There is the possibility that the English will come out of the 
war fearing that safety is to be had only by keeping themselves as 
well prepared for defense as their resources and genius will al- 
low. There is a chance that they may take to militarism as a perma- 
nent condition of society. In that case, despite themselves, they 
would lose little by little what has been their dominant quality, 
and end as another European Continental power, a middle term 
between Germany and France. 

And we Americans we shall scarcely remain on the defensive 
only if we too get militarized with huge standing armies and great 
navies. With like weapons in our hands, we could not resist seek- 



6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ing outlets for our energies in attempting with the best inten- 
tions, of course to boss the world, to impose our standard of life, 
and our own adolescent ideals, behind which would hide our own 
abuses, greeds, and cannibalisms. It would not be a pleasant pros- 
pect. 

A pleasant prospect would be a constellation of English-speak- 
ing peoples with England and America revolving around each 
other like a double sun, and the dominions and colonies like plan- 
ets of varying magnitudes. 

January $th 

CALLED YESTERDAY on acquaintances living on the slopes be- 
tween via Bolognese and Montughi. The approach, which, dur- 
ing my first years in Florence, went from the city gates through 
farmland studded with ancient cottages, is now over boulevards 
lined with morose buildings, ending in a vast hospital city. This 
hides away Cosimo de'Medici's villa with the loggia where he 
and his friends discussed Plato as they looked over the chimney- 
less, hangarless, uncrowded expanse of field and meadow stretch- 
ing towards Prato, Pistoia, and the Apennine. The house we 
visited enjoys a view over the town, with its soaring yet massive 
cupola, to the hills beyond. From the terrace rippled the curve of 
the horizon. As a level skyline is rare in Tuscany, it was pleasant to 
contemplate. 

Indoors the house is full of winding staircases, recesses, and 
cozy corners. Everywhere odds and ends of pictures, engravings, 
artistic knickknacks which I delighted in. 

We had scarcely got back to the front door when Mary, with her 
ceil denigrant, began to make grunts of relief leading up to severe 
disapproval of that way of furnishing and living. I on the contrary 
am easily pleased with the unusual. It affords a variant to my 
own stereotyped surroundings, and offers me other modes of think- 
ing and feeling. These newnesses overpower me, and while sub- 
mitted to them I am as uncritical as a registering instrument. 

For good or for evil, my first meeting with people is of the same 



JANUARY, 1941 7 

nature. Either there is no coming together at all, no hooking of 
atoms and nothing happens, or I take to the new presence without 
reserve. The result is at times disastrous. The critical faculties 
which vanished while the novelty of the contact lasted, no matter 
whether it was inanimate or animate, begin to peer through, to 
hiss with serpents' tongues and, likely enough, end by persuading 
me that my enthusiasm or sober appreciation was misplaced or 
excessive. I then sidle away from the new acquaintance, no mat- 
ter what resentment it stirs up. 

It is not newness alone that fascinates me out of all critical 
sense, but rather an admiring wonder at ways of living that I could 
not have planned and executed. What lay not beyond my ken, but 
had failed to occur to me and to inspire me to action, seems at first 
too exciting, too absorbing, too wonderful. In the same way an idea, 
one that I assimilate instantly but which I had not thought of, so 
delights me that I feel no trace of self -contempt for not having had 
it myself. 

To return for an instant to the new, or recent, acquaintance, his 
physical presence so bewitches my judgment that I cannot get 
myself to believe that he is deliberately lying or trying to get the 
better of me. That, rather than softness or weakness, is the reason 
why I find it so against the grain to refuse a request or deny an 
interlocutor a favor. That too explains why I am so poor at nego- 
tiation. If the other party puts his case plausibly I tend to run 
ahead of his effort to persuade me, and to assure him that he must 
be in the right, and that I have nothing to oppose. 

January 8th 

I CANNOT UNDERSTAND why I feel so embarrassed when being 
thanked. When thanks are at all profuse I get flustered, begin to 
wriggle and twist so that to cut things short I get rude. The other 
day I gave my hairdresser a New Year's tip. Handing it to him, I 
dismissed him abruptly to avoid his thanks, and forgot to wish 
him a happy New Year. I wonder whether he, a pure Florentine, 
was aware of my awkward shyness, or whether he took it as an 



8 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ungracious act to be passed over in a pazzo inglese a mad for- 
eigner. 

I am in a way as irritated by praise, even of the most tactful 
kind, especially when verbal and to my face. But even in print, in 
reviews of my books and still more when the praise is of myself, 
as distinct from my books. As for flattery, it gives me an imperative 
call to run away without looking back. By which I do not claim 
to be insensible to treatment worthy of my merits, provided it is 
disinterested, and with no afterthought of material advantage. 

Long ago the sense of myself to the extent that it is at all defi- 
nite was stabilized; nor is it subject to much inflation and defla- 
tion. No laudation or vituperation will affect it. I am far too well 
aware of my shortcomings, far more than others can be, but at the 
same time I know that, in the moral sphere, I am incapable of 
most meannesses and perfidies; and I can guess to what degree, in 
the realm of mind, I am able to cope with certain problems re- 
quiring thought, and feeling for antecedent probabilities. 

January gth 

HENRI BERGSON is dead. Pity he lived long enough to die at this 
particular hour, when France has fallen lower than at any other 
moment in her history. For this time she has suffered defeat not 
only at the hands of the stranger. She has gone through such un- 
happy days many times in the course of the centuries. Celts, Ro- 
mans, every species of Teuton, the Saracen, the Norseman, the 
Briton, the Spaniard, and again and again the Borussian have 
trampled over her soil and massacred its inhabitants. Yet never 
before has she been so utterly humiliated and betrayed as now; 
and by a gang of her own meanest, cheapest, falsest elements. Not 
even by the cannibals who came to the fore during the Dreyfus 
affair, foaming with fury because they feared for their authority 
in the army, in diplomacy, in society. Not even by them, but by 
lowborn snobs, cads, and gangsters who by flattering, aiding, and 
abetting the stupidest of heraldic classes expect to be accepted by 
them, and to share with them the thrones and powers of the land. 



JANUARY, 1941 9 

To die like this, he who lived through the Dreyfus civil war, and 
came out believing that France was made safe for humanity and 
enlightenment; to die while the France he loved so much was 
abjectly prostrated at the feet of the mechanized, nonhuman foe; 
to leave at the moment of deepest darkness before one reassuring 
ray of light could cheer him with its promise that indeed is sad. 
Perhaps we shall never know how he felt. Who was there to re- 
cord his last words? 



January 14-24 

CARLO DIED this morning between four and five and thus brought 
to an end a friendship of fifty years. It is now January 14, 1941, 
and the last time I saw him was in May, 1940. 1 passed the rest of 
that month and the first days of June in Rome. When I got back 
here war against France and England had been declared, and as 
we were notoriously friendly to both these powers, a ban of ex- 
communication had secretly been protocoled against us by the 
elders not of Israel but of the Florentine "high life/" I had not 
expected Carlo to submit. He did. He preferred their society to 
ours. Worse still, he took no means it would have been easy 
enough to let me know by word or sign that he was sorry, but 
could not afford to be cut by all the nice people. I should have 
understood, regretted, condoned. Worst of all he, who had been 
so friendly to France and England because of every material and 
social and society interest, began to talk, and even to write letters 
abroad, expressing his full sympathy with the program and hopes 
of the "Axis powers." 

I confess I felt bitter, for the only people who can hurt us are 
those we have loved and trusted. Others can do us material harm, 
malign and calumniate us, I feel no resentment, no indignation. 
My moral sense is not insulted. 

Yet what other conduct could I have expected of Carlo Placci! 
He was so completely socialized that death itself might have 
seemed preferable to being boycotted by the people in whose 
midst he was living. In the Cannibal Islands he would have been 



1O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

a cannibal, and would have talked as glibly in the defense of can- 
nibalism as our Southern clergy before the Civil War spoke of 
their peculiar institution, God-ordained slavery. During the Paris 
of the Dreyfus affair, Carlo out-Heroded the worst Herods of anti- 
Dreyfusism with the furious defense of their cause. True, there 
was an attenuating circumstance. He was head over heels in love 
with Mme Jean de Montebello, one of the chief prophetesses, 
if not the Deborah, of that cause. The "Great War" found him in 
Munich, frequenting the elegant salons of the capital of good beer 
and bad art. He was expecting his government, a member of the 
Triplice, to join in with Germany, and, on the anthropological 
principle of "my country right or wrong" and always ministerial in 
foreign relations, this notorious Francophile, accompanied to the 
station by "air Munich, waved his hat as the train was starting 
and shouted, "A bientdt a Paris!' But earlier still, while the Libyan 
campaign was on, we did not see him while it lasted. That hap- 
pened when he was suffering from a nervous breakdown, and on 
that score it was easy to forgive him. 

This time I smarted, and smarted so much that I swore I'd never 
see him again if we survived this war. Then I began to hear how 
unhappy he was over things in general and over our broken 
friendship. More recently he wrote a touching letter to my wife, 
and I spoke of him to Elisabetta de Piccolellis in a way that, if 
reported to him, would please him. 

I forgot to add that we were together in Paris during the so- 
called Peace Conference. The Fiume affair came up, and although 
he hated it himself he went about among acquaintances to say 
that, born a Russian subject, son of a noted nihilist, I was brought 
up as an enemy of bourgeois society, was a formidable Bolshevik 
propagandist and secret agent. That was why I opposed Italy's 
most just, most sacred, most invincible claims to a bit of her own 
territory, without which poor Italy could exist only miserably, ex- 
posed to every danger of aggression and invasion. 



When I first went out in Florence it was in the spring of 
-wherever I went I heard of Carlo Placci, but did not come 



JANUARY, 1941 11 

across him. My curiosity was excited as is everybody's about a 
name grown familiar but as yet without sufficient substance be- 
hind it. Unexpectedly a year or two later I encountered him at 
Vernon Lee's. It was evening. The light was dim. I got no clear 
impression of his features, but they seemed pleasant, and ex- 
tremely friendly. The voice was mellow, beautifully pitched, with 
a seductive timbre. 

To my surprised gratification, he looked me up the very next 
afternoon in my eyrie some hundred and thirty steps up in Lun- 
garno Acciaiuoli, and we had a long talk, I cannot recall about 
what. Nor can I recollect how soon acquaintance flowered into 
friendship and friendship into intimacy. He pulled me into his 
circle, not only inviting me to his house, then presided over by his 
mother assisted by a sister, and by a Miss Gibson, an old English- 
woman who had been their governess, but he made a point of 
introducing me to all his friends, whether Florentine, Italian, or 
foreign, who enjoyed his hospitality. My gregarious propensities 
would have succeeded surely in finding satisfaction of some sort 
and, for all I know, more profitable perhaps and even more suit- 
able; but as a matter of fact I owe most of my social and nearly 
all of my society contacts to Carlo. He was generosity itself in 
passing me from friend to friend, and never could I discover in 
him the least desire to monopolize or keep me away from othe&L 
Nor did he expect gratitude or compensation as if he had sacrificed 
certain claims on the people he brought together. I have had ac- 
quaintances who could not forget after decades that they had in- 
troduced me to a person who became a vital factor in my life. 
These acquaintances are like a character in a French comedy who 
ejaculates: *Je vous ai prete cinq francs, je ne Toublierai jamais!" 

Carlo was unlike that, yet there were drawbacks to his way of 
bringing people together. He prepared the ground by extravagant 
praise of the newcomer. That suffices to prejudice against the lat- 
ter. In which connection I cannot refrain from telling what hap- 
pened to me one day in Thebes, in the American House at Der-el- 
Bahari. It was presided over by a member of our smart classes who 
had taken to digging and was at the same time a fine Egyptolo- 



12 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

gist. We had not met before and as we sat down to lunch, he, 
tired after a long forenoon's work in the choking dust and scorch- 
ing winter sun, scarcely mumbled a how-do-you-do, and looked as 
if he would rather bite than talk. I tried to engage him in conver- 
sation but he only growled back. Finally I asked: "What is the 
matter? Why do you look so sullen and why won't you be civil?" 
"I'll tell you," he burst out. "That damned Joe Breck so rammed 
you down my throat that I got to hate the name of Berenson." 

Carlo was not only apt to stir reaction against his estimate of the 
friend he proposed introducing, but roused resentment, more 
often than not, by something in his tone implying that you were 
altogether inferior to the person he was going to present. 

* * # 

A similar tone, far more aggressive, he frequently, in truth 
nearly always, took when the conversation was about politics in 
general, but in particular of international affairs, when addressing 
himself to us outsiders, who had not his access to Foreign Office 
men of all countries nor his acquaintance with their secrets. As a 
matter of fact the utmost he could substantiate was knowing this 
evening what the newspaper would print early next morning. Per- 
haps there were exceptions. I suspect that at times ministers and 
even ambassadors used him as a lie-carrier. 

Be it so or not, with increasing years, like the tart in the story of 
Maupassant qui naimait que dans les Affaires Etrangdres, Carlo 
got more and more to divide his acquaintances into diplomats all 
glorious, and outsiders who could but weep and gnash their teeth 
for being excluded. He persuaded himself, I believe, that he was 
one of the chosen, and his most sacred privilege, the one that 
meant most to him, was a diplomatic passport he had from his 
government. The innocent vanity of a rich and idle man! Did not 
his mother, the blue-eyed Castillo-Aztec Mexican lady, widow of 
a banker from Faenza, did she not speak of this son as il ministro 
degli affari inutili, minister of affairs that do not count? He would 
not take it that way, but expected us to receive his pronounce- 
ments and prophecies in dead earnest. 

Time and time again he would begin with an offensive-defen- 



JANUAKY, 1941 13 

sive "Of course you will not believe, but take it from me." At other 
times, when he was most aggressive, it occurred to one to suspect 
that he was provoking us so as to draw us out and thereby come 
to some bit of gossip that his interlocutor might have picked up, 
once in a blue moon, from some transient diplomat. Later he con- 
fessed that he liked to "put fleas into people's ears'" to see what 
would happen. 

Needless to add that his political views were based on neither 
economics nor sociology nor history but were a matter of the ceil- 
de-bceuf and the alcove, as in Saint-Simon. And like that prince of 
memoir-writers he had his entrees everywhere, and was of course 
much more traveled. Wherever he went, kings and queens, dukes 
and duchesses rejoiced to see him. In Brussels, as he once drove 
off in a royal carriage to dine at the palace, the hotel people asked 
his faithful Giuseppe: "Who is your master, anyhow?" In a drawl- 
ing Sicilian voice came the answer: "II mio padrone non e nessuno, 
ma tiene delle buone relazioni" ( My master is nobody, but has 
important acquaintances.) 

# # # 

He had because he retained his early reputation of being genial, 
amusing, entertaining, even a jollier. As a guest he was perfect, 
and people used to say that he spoiled the trade of being a guest, 
quil gdtait le metier de visiter. He could condescend to parlor 
tricks, to imitations of types and even of individuals, but these 
were never unkind. He could be comical on the piano. He could 
organize theatricals and take the principal part in them. He could 
carry on games with children of all ages and keep them panting 
with pleasure. 

Perhaps he felt that he was paying enough with his wit and 
humor and brightening, and need not return hospitality. His 
mother kept open house and few foreigners or strangers passing 
through Florence failed to appear at her board. When this de- 
lightful Mexican, whom some of us fondly called Vitzli-Putzli, 
died, Carlo was already well on in the fifties. Hitherto he had 
found no occasion for forming habits of spending on bread and 
butter and butcher's meat and the other realities of daily life. 



12 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

gist. We had not met before and as we sat down to lunch, he, 
tired after a long forenoon's work in the choking dust and scorch- 
ing winter sun, scarcely mumbled a how-do-you-do, and looked as 
if he would rather bite than talk. I tried to engage him in conver- 
sation but he only growled back. Finally I asked: "What is the 
matter? Why do you look so sullen and why won't you be civil?" 
*TU tell you/' he burst out. "That damned Joe Breck so rammed 
you down my throat that I got to hate the name of Berenson." 

Carlo was not only apt to stir reaction against his estimate of the 
friend he proposed introducing, but roused resentment, more 
often than not, by something in his tone implying that you were 
altogether inferior to the person he was going to present. 

# # # 

A similar tone, far more aggressive, he frequently, in truth 
nearly always, took when the conversation was about politics in 
general, but in particular of international affairs, when addressing 
himself to us outsiders, who had not his access to Foreign Office 
men of all countries nor his acquaintance with their secrets. As a 
matter of fact the utmost he could substantiate was knowing this 
evening what the newspaper would print early next morning. Per- 
haps there were exceptions. I suspect that at times ministers and 
even ambassadors used him as a lie-carrier. 

Be it so or not, with increasing years, like the tart in the story of 
Maupassant qui naimait que dans les Affaires trangeres, Carlo 
got more and more to divide his acquaintances into diplomats all 
glorious, and outsiders who could but weep and gnash their teeth 
for being excluded. He persuaded himself, I believe, that he was 
one of the chosen, and his most sacred privilege, the one that 
meant most to him, was a diplomatic passport he had from his 
government. The innocent vanity of a rich and idle man! Did not 
his mother, the blue-eyed Castillo-Aztec Mexican lady, widow of 
a banker from Faenza, did she not speak of this son as il ministro 
degli affari inutili, minister of affairs that do not count? He would 
not take it that way, but expected us to receive his pronounce- 
ments and prophecies in dead earnest. 

Time and time again he would begin with an offensive-defen- 



JANUARY, 1941 13 

sive "Of course you will not believe, but take it from me." At other 
times, when he was most aggressive, it occurred to one to suspect 
that he was provoking us so as to draw us out and thereby come 
to some bit of gossip that his interlocutor might have picked up, 
once in a blue moon, from some transient diplomat. Later he con- 
fessed that he liked to "put fleas into people's ears" to see what 
would happen. 

Needless to add that his political views were based on neither 
economics nor sociology nor history but were a matter of the ceil- 
de-bceuf and the alcove, as in Saint-Simon. And like that prince of 
memoir-writers he had his entrees everywhere, and was of course 
much more traveled. Wherever he went, kings and queens, dukes 
and duchesses rejoiced to see him. In Brussels, as he once drove 
off in a royal carriage to dine at the palace, the hotel people asked 
his faithful Giuseppe: "Who is your master, anyhow?" In a drawl- 
ing Sicilian voice came the answer: "II mio padrone non nessuno, 
ma tiene delle buone relazioni." ( My master is nobody, but has 
important acquaintances. ) 

# # # 

He had because he retained his early reputation of being genial, 
amusing, entertaining, even a jollier. As a guest he was perfect, 
and people used to say that he spoiled the trade of being a guest, 
quil gdtait le metier de visiter. He could condescend to parlor 
tricks, to imitations of types and even of individuals, but these 
were never unkind. He could be comical on the piano. He could 
organize theatricals and take the principal part in them. He could 
carry on games with children of all ages and keep them panting 
with pleasure. 

Perhaps he felt that he was paying enough with his wit and 
humor and brightening, and need not return hospitality. His 
mother kept open house and few foreigners or strangers passing 
through Florence failed to appear at her board. When this de- 
lightful Mexican, whom some of us fondly called Vitzli-Putzli, 
died, Carlo was already well on in the fifties. Hitherto he had 
found no occasion for forming habits of spending on bread and 
butter and butcher's meat and the other realities of daily life. 



14 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Without such habits formed before the threshold of old age, peo- 
ple are awkward about spending, and easily get the reputation 
of being close, and at times deserve it, because of their miserliness. 

A case in point was Boston's precinema star, Mrs. Jack Gardner. 
While Jack was alive, he did all the paying out not only abroad 
but at home. Isabella spent only on clothes, pearls, diamonds, and, 
later, on almost as expensive old masters. When her husband died, 
and bills of the baker and butcher and electrician were brought to 
her, she got into a panic from which she never quite recovered. 
She who in Europe had traveled like royalty, with compartments 
reserved for her in railways and luxurious suites in hotels, now 
went second-class, and, frequenting the same hotels as before, 
would take the cheapest rooms and order the least expensive 
dishes. Remaining wealthy, but having had no training in the 
workaday use of money, she lived like a "Latin" rentiere in con- 
stant fear of losing it. She all but ceased acquiring works of art on 
the ground that she was poor, and this at a time when those near- 
est to her used to beg me to induce her to buy, assuring me that 
she could amply afford it. 

Another case in point is a friend of ours who, like Placci, in- 
herited late in life. He had been kept on short commons by a very 
close parent. He was generous to the point of folly almost when 
it was a question of giving large sums for charity, or art. When it 
was a question of paying out a shilling or two he could not bring 
himself to do it. More than once he invited me to a meal and I 
had to pay the scot. If one took a cab with him he fumbled and 
the friend paid. 

Well, Carlo had not learned to spend on ordinary things, al- 
though I am sure he too was large in his charities. He received 
less and less in the home where his mother had entertained, be it 
remembered, not for herself but for him. When abroad, say at 
Saint-Moritz when all were living at hotels, he never sat down to 
a meal of his own, and although he could have afforded as much 
as anyone to feed and drench a dozen people at a time, he never 
did. I discovered one fine day that it was not naive thoughtless- 
ness as I had supposed, but was calculated. He told me with a 



JANUARY, 1941 15 

grin of satisfaction that he would wait till the fag end of the sea- 
son and invite the last survivors to a tea at Hanselmann's. 

So reluctant was he to empty his pockets that, years after every- 
body who could afford it had a motorcar, he went without. He 
would come to our house every few days and always telephone 
to inquire whether our car might not happen to be in town and 
bring him up. This got to mean sending for him. As he could afford 
it better than many others, I finally lost patience and made him 
get a vehicle of his own. When he got it he treated it as gingerly 
as if it were a young wife in her first pregnancy. There was al- 
ways a sufficient reason why it was not in condition to climb up 
the hills to take us out for a walk, and why it would be preferable 
to use my car for that purpose. 

* * 

I said he came every few days to lunch or dine. When to the 
first, it was followed by a walk, during which en tete-&-tte he 
could be, and nearly always was, as reasonable as he was apt to be 
aggressively provoking in company. Boasting constantly of his 
tact and society experience, he could be, and quite deliberately 
so, the bull in the china shop or worse. No master of jujitsu knew 
one's weak spots better; no one could get one on the raw as he did; 
and always in company and at my own table. I cannot recall such 
behavior on his part when we were alone together, he and I. 

Singular how company goes to people's heads like bad drink. It 
made Placci jeer and sneer and cavil and quibble and boast, be- 
cause he could not sustain a cool discussion of current events in 
the presence of witnesses. It turned D'Anmmzio into a performing 
ape. He, who was such delicious company when you had him to 
yourself, talking with the greatest naturalness and self -forgetful- 
ness, talking always impersonally of literature, of poetry, of books, 
and with keenest zest for words, rare and sonorous words which 
he would caress as a jeweler caresses precious stones; this same 
D'Annunzio was not the same when another man was present, and 
if it was a woman, and a society woman at that, he lost interest in 
everything except in the impression he was making. Deplorable as 
this seemed to me, let me add by the way that women did not feel 



l6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

it. On the contrary, I have seen some of the most delicate, charm- 
ing, and intelligent of women subdued, enticed, bewitched, and 
confessing that they could not resist him. 

To return to Placci, his mother and sister, when they saw us 
getting intimate with him, warned us that he would behave to us 
as he did to them, that with intimates he could be quarrelsome, 
tiresome, and even offensive. And he was. Yet when driven to 
exasperation and on the point of refusing to see him again, I 
would as it were take a "last ride," and return feeling that I could 
not split with a character who could draw one out so caressingly, 
hanging on one's lips, anxious to let no word pass unappreciated, 
putting in his own in a way that would elicit one's best. 

Never shall I forget a walk we took nearly forty years ago over 
the Sibilla range on the descent to Ascoli. The day had been quar- 
relsome, and Carlo had called out the worst in me. Perhaps it was 
the fault of the sirocco lowering over the stewing pan that is the 
plain of Norcia. By the time the car had brought us to the top it 
had turned fresh. The road was barely completed and as yet so 
little used that it was grass-grown. We got out and walked. We 
talked of ultimate things, of beginnings and ends, of whence and 
whither, of why and how. He was then already reconciled to the 
Church, a practicing Catholic, and in company odiously dogmatiz- 
ing, making a point of gargling the a's as, in imitation of English 
coreligionist converts, he pronounced the word "Ca-a-a-tholic." 
His arguments could be so silly that on one occasion I cried out: 
"Carlo, I respect your beliefs, I do not quarrel with them, but I 
cannot swallow your second-rate arguments." "There are no 
others," was his reply. 

To his conversion, and to his agreeing to reasons that he him- 
self knew to be feeble, I shall return presently. Meanwhile, let me 
go back to the evening stroll down the slopes of the Sibilla. We 
"gossiped about the universe," we thrilled with cosmic emotion; 
we discussed revealed religions and their relation to mysticism; 
we deplored the inevitable necessity of institutions, churches, and 
governments; we touched upon the burning questions of the day 
and never disagreed, not even in opinion. 



JANUARY, 1941 I/ 

Carlo could be like that when he wished, and often he was 
when we were alone together, as I have said again and again. 
What made him so different in company was not merely the in- 
sistence on having the last word or the irresistible impulse to show 
off, but the fact, so foreign to Anglo-Saxons, that, like most Latins, 
Placci made a clear division between his private and his public 
self. No bridge, not even the Mazdian or Mohammedan, sharp as 
a knife's edge leading from earth to heaven, traversed the abyss. 
What an Italian thinks remains his own treasure hidden away in a 
safe, to the unlocking of which he alone guards the elaborate 
secret. 

I remember a jolly Irishman one met everywhere, when I first 
went out in Florence. His father came as a jockey in the court of 
the Grand Duke, did so well, and rendered such services beyond 
those devoted to the peaceful and polished society of horses, that 
he was made a baron. His son, my friend, used to say: "You can 
easily get an Italian to say what he feels. He revels in it. But no 
power on earth will drag a word out of him as to what he thinks." 

Intimate as we were, Carlo did not often give one a peep into 
the depth of his private thinking; yet enough, however, to make 
me suspect that to the end he was incapable of a wholehearted 
conviction about anything whatever. At bottom he was an integral 
unbeliever for whom existed neither deity, nor principle, nor qual- 
ity, nor value a nihilist, in short. And I also suspect that to the 
end he was haunted by a tormenting doubt, Le pari de Pascal 
"What if there were a hell?" that had no little influence on his 

conduct. 

# # # 

When I first knew him he was like most advanced young Ital- 
ians in the early eighteen nineties, like most young writers of those 
hopeful days, a declared atheist, a positivist, a fervent socialist, and 
all else that then was up-to-datest. That none of those professions 
was more than skin-deep was manifested by the rapidity and the 
completeness with which he turned away without even saying 
"good-by-to-all-that," and by the ardor and even fanaticism the 
fanaticism of a person who cannot get himself to believe in any- 



ig RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

thing that he displayed in burning what he had been adoring. 

The change-over was so sudden that we did not perceive it or 
as much as suspect it. We had just moved down from Fiesole to 
San Gervasio, he had been spending the day with us in the late 
spring, and we kept him company to the tram which was to take 
him back to Florence. I cannot recall what brought up the subject 
of divorce, but he startled us by pronouncing himself against it. 

Now the English-speaking reader, if Protestant, will not find 
it easy to believe to what a degree, early in this century, the ques- 
tion of divorce and remarriage became the storm-center around 
which "ignorant armies" of practicing and not-practicing Catholics 
"clashed by night." A divorced woman encountered nothing but re- 
sentment and disavowal, and if she remarried she was boycotted. 
It went so far that Paul Bourget wrote a novel to manifest his 
admiration for wives who murdered their husbands rather than 
to live in mortal sin as a divorcee who had married again. My 
wife, a red-hot feminist for whom divorce was identified with the 
emancipation from the oppression, exploitation, and exasperation 
of women by the odious but zoologically indispensable males, my 
wife pricked up her ears and asked what he meant and whether 
by chance he had returned to the Church. He answered with 
fervor that he had. We discovered soon that this conversion, al- 
ways prayed for, as he knew, by his genuinely and deeply religious 
mother, had been brought about by the same Mme de Montebello 
who later made an anti-Dreyfusard of him. He turned as violently, 
as vehemently, as aggressively reactionary as he had been "leftist" 
only a few weeks before. He even boasted of being a forcaiolo 
that is, to say, one who would make liberal, even extravagant, use 
of the gallows, and he favored every cause backed by force, fraud, 
and violence. I recall a quarrel over the conduct of his govern- 
ment, which gave its approval to Austria when, backed by Ger- 
many, Aehrenthal annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina and refused 
to receive it, as Grey proposed, from the Concert of Europe, thus 
making the first breach in those ramparts of legality which for 
nearly a century had kept Europe safe from a major and general 
war. 



JANUARY, 1941 19 

I am trying to write about Placci and not about Mme Jean de 
Montebello. I should have no little to tell if she were my theme. 
A word or two I cannot resist putting down. 

She regarded hereself as an Egeria of international relations, 
and it was said at the time a time when China was still Cathay, 
with its almost moveless cycles that a caller, on being ushered 
in, found her looking preoccupied and distressed. Asking what 
was the matter, he got the answer: "C'est la Chine qui minquiete" 
Her interest in foreign affairs had been fanned and shaped, it was 
said, by a M. de Chaudordy who had represented France at the 
court of Pius IX. I do not remember whether still at the Quirinal 
or already at the Vatican. I had the honor, and I must add the 
pleasure, of meeting him at Mme de Montebello's, where I greatly 
enjoyed his conversation. I recall an amusing anecdote in connec- 
tion with his Roman mission. 

The Pope wished to reward him for his services and bestowed 
on him the title of count; but the bureau that made out the di- 
ploma for this grant demanded as its perquisite a sum that seemed 
exorbitant to Chaudordy. He refused to pay it. When this reached 
the ears of His Holiness, he said: "Yes, I have made him a count 
but I have not decided of what. Very well. He shall be Count of 
Monteporcone" (of Pig's Hill). It should be added that the word 
porco is never used by Italians except as an insult far worse than 
our "swine." 

To return to Placci, this swift and sure turnover from the ex- 
treme of leftism to the opposite extreme was made easy in his own 
eyes by a book just published that I had in all innocence lent him: 
William James's The Will to Believe. It gave him the pragmatic 
justification for choosing the principles which his whim of the mo- 
ment and his tropism led him to prefer. Like the Scot who when 
politely told that he was eating asparagus from the wrong end re- 
torted "I prefer-r-r it," Placci would bang the lid on every discus- 
sion by rejoicing in iniquity, despising reason, and rejoicing in the 
right James had extended to him, to believe what he willed. 

I dare say Carlo reserved his aggressiveness, his Rechthaberei, 
the need for having the last word, for his more intimate friends. 



2O HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Once in a while I overheard him with ambassadors his gods 
and was amused to discover how soft-spoken he was with them. 
At the same time, let me add, I was struck with admiration for the 
tactfully flattering way in which he drew them out. 

I have often heard him accused of being a snob, by which the 
accuser meant presumably that he treated people according to 
their position in society, whether owing to rank, office, or fame. 
He did enjoy approaching people of whatever kind of eminence. 
I must add, however, it was more for individual distinction than 
for claims of group, class, or heredity. He delighted in what used 
to be called "high society" for its brilliance, its quicker pulse, its 
life-enhancing elegance. He was not displeased that, in all capitals, 
he received several invitations for each meal. By the time I knew 
him, society everywhere opened its doors wide to him on every 
occasion, and he did not need to work for admission. I cannot say 
that I have encountered anyone with gregarious habits and social 
qualities who would have acted otherwise and, like a desert her- 
mit, refused the appeal of good company. 

If to be a snob means above all to throw over one's own stand- 
ards, one's own values, one's own beliefs, for those of the bar- 
barians, no matter how gorgeous, then Placci surely was not a 
snob. On the contrary. For instance, when he first met me, sought 
me out, and introduced me to his friends and, I might almost say, 
forced me upon them, including the most exalted, I was unknown, 
from nowhere, with no guarantees, and introduced to him by a 
lady who was still under the impression, because I had lent her 
a book on the subject, that I was specializing in pre-Mohammedan 
Arab poetry. Likewise with Salvemini, who came to Florence fresh 
from one of those villages of Apulia which count fifty or sixty or 
seventy thousand peasants huddled together because it had not 
been safe to remain out for fear of the Barbaresques, those same 
pirates who infested the Mediterranean until little more than a 
hundred years ago, when the American navy followed by the 
English and French put an end to their man-hunts. This un- 
kempt lad, with his huge square head, broad shoulders, and pro- 
vincial accent, was destined to become the idol of all that was 



JANUARY, 1941 21 

most cultured in Florentine society, as well as of his pupils in the 
university, and to become one of the historians of the day and 
prophet and defender of every good cause. It was Placci who 
discovered him on arrival and passed him on to the rest of us. 
So it was with the martyred Amendola, hut also with Papini, 
Soffici, Prezzolini, and other, equally rubber-necked exploiters 
of the moment. Not only young writers but musicians, painters, 
sculptors he would catch them on their first flight and bring 
them home for us to sample. They did not always turn out the 
geniuses he expected them to be, yet often enough to make it 
worth while. Nor did he, unlike others in similar positions, the 
Napoleonid Count Primoli, for instance, demand from them any 
return, or regard them as clients who owed allegiance and grati- 
tude for his patronage. 

I have mentioned musicians, and it was with them that in earlier 
years his relations were the most active; for he was himself a 
highly trained connoisseur of everything musical, a tolerable 
pianist, and, as many singers and fiddlers used to tell me, an ideal 
accompanist. The sympathy, the almost uncanny way he could, 
when he wanted to, get under the skin of others made him feel 
the tact and the tempo of the performers exactly as they them- 
selves did. There used to be a great deal of music in his house. His 
teacher, Bonamici, played four-handed with him once a week, 
and Bonamici had studied with Liszt and with Biilow. No musi- 
cian stopped over in Florence, even the most celebrated, without 
being seen and most likely heard at Placci's. With them he seemed 
at his most genial, most appreciative, at his best. He was generos- 
ity itself in praising the talents of others. 

I have already spoken of how welcome Placci was in Paris, in 
London, in Munich and Vienna as well as in Rome. Hans von 
Biilow dubbed him the "cosmopolisson," and he remained proud 
of the nickname long after he had rejected cosmopolitanism, to 
belch anathemas at all who were not furious nationalists, and 
patridiots, as I beg pardon for punningly calling those who would 
be cannibals for their own dung heap. 

Carlo used to travel with us. The first long journey I can recall 



22 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

our taking together was in 1899 to Budapest for the millennial 
celebration of the Crown of St. Stephen, I believe. There we 
encountered people from the world over, and colleagues of every 
branch of study, who had gathered for an art congress. We 
punned, we chaffed, we poked fun, we drank or rather sipped 
sticky, sickishly oversweet but famous Tokayer; we even discussed, 
but one thing we did not do, we did not attend the meetings not 
once. 

From Budapest we took train to Fiume, then still as unaware 
of being Italian as Italians were unaware of its existence. By boat 
we wandered in the company of a much-traveled M.P., Philip 
Stanhope, a great admirer of Austrian rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
to Spalato, and from Spalato we crossed over to Ancona in a 
cabin not only first-class but numbered A-i. Ancona was at the 
periphery of a region I had made my own years earlier in connec- 
tion with a monograph I was preparing on the Venetian Lorenzo 
Lotto, Crivelli too, whom I then enjoyed inordinately, left many 
paintings there. Carlo was happy to be shown the best of every- 
thing, enjoyed the works of art he was seeing "under authority," 
and delighted with the prospect of talking about them. At last we 
got to Perugia, a day in early October. We had been sight-seeing 
and Carlo was in raptures. Toward the end of the day we were 
taking tea not literally, for tea was not being served in Italy 
outside the few hotels frequented by the English. He no doubt 
had ordered chocolate, and the richest, creamiest cakes in the 
place, and sopped up the one with other, enjoying it all the more 
as he knew that it annoyed me. Having consumed a dozen of these 
cakes, he rose from the table, shook hands merrily, and told us he 
had enough of our company, had all the Berenson he could stand, 
and was taking the train to Florence. 

Neither he nor I owned a car for quite a while after motoring 
came in; but his French nephew, Lucien Henraux, did. For several 
years this sensitive, this quick and gifted youth destined, alas! 
to a premature end came, spring and autumn, to take us to 
various parts of Italy, Piedmont, the Friuli, the Abruzzi, Calabria, 
Sicily. I used to make out the itinerary of the journey, but it often 



JANUARY, 1941 23 

was thwarted by Carlo's sudden recollection that we should be 
passing the dwelling of an acquaintance and must stop to lunch 
or tea, no matter how boring he might be or how little use he 
could have for us. Or he would become aware that it was a Sun- 
day, a holiday, and that he must attend mass. A low mass, no! It 
must be a high mass because that would give him the satisfaction 
of procuring the greatest inconvenience to the greatest number 
a pleasure inbred in Latins by all their governments no matter 
whether black or white, red or blue. Carlo did love to tease and 
sometimes he went on till it turned from a rather malicious joke 
to a more and more exasperating nuisance. He would insist on the 
sudden halting of the overcrowded open car at the crossroads of 
a Calabrian village, a stinging sun pricking like a swarm of angry 
bees, with our own dust choking us, and stop to question and 
cross-question the crowd, in an imitation of their own dialect, 
about the roads, their direction and condition, and about anything 
else that could prolong what to the rest of us was real distress. 
The more exhausted he got, the worse grew his teasing, the more 
sneeringly aggressive; and more than once it ended in a row which 
came close to breaking up the party. 

When we reached our destination after a long day of sitting 
three abreast in the smallish, far from luxurious vehicle, exhausted 
by sight-seeing, by the open air, by the driving, badly fed at that, 
he would insist, rain or shine, on dragging himself along through 
crowded streets and cobbled alleys before joining us for the 
evening meal. In calm moments, he would apologize winningly 
for his naughtiness, and I would answer that his, like an infant's 
naughtiness, was the result of exhaustion and that he ought to 
avoid getting overtired. It was no use, for on the whole he enjoyed 
annoying and exasperating those he loved best. 

A never-failing topic for teasing were my, rather than my wife's, 
English ways, the absurder, as while she is the purest of Anglo- 
Saxons I have not one drop of that precious ichor in my veins. He 
pretended to be annoyed by the inseparable tea-basket, by my 
giving thought to food, by my paying attention to no news that 
did not come out of the London Times. In short, he would call me 



#4 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the "Dean of Durham." I grin, calling up the revered image of the 
present wearer of that title. 

I recall two experiences among many others. We had left 
Benevento on a damp chilly late April morning, and taken no lunch 
with us, Carlo insisting that we should find all we needed some- 
where on the way. At Lacedonia, the only possible place, there 
was no inn, no eating house, nothing. With difficulty we picked 
up stale bread and onions. Another spring we were motoring from 
Potenza to Taranto, and again Carlo would not let us take food 
along. We were to stop at Miglionico to see a polyptych by Cima 
da Conegliano. Where such a masterpiece had been preserved 
through the centuries there was sure to be sugar and spice and all 
that was good to eat. We got to Miglionico, looked at the Cima, 
and long looking left us hungry. A gendarme whom we consulted 
about a restaurant humped his shoulders toward an open door. 
A staircase led upstairs to a large room, whitewashed. A queer 
odor of phenic acid prevailed, and looking around we discovered 
bunks with sick people in them. This hall was both hospital and 
restaurant. I cleared out and the others followed. We foraged for 
food. All we could get was a loaf of fresh-baked bread. It tasted 
delicious. We were hungry. It was sunny. We had seen a fine work 
of art. Above all, Carlo was drollery personified, describing our 
discomfiture. 

While on the subject of our early motoring days, let me add that 
Placci could be as full of fun as of spleen, and often I recall our 
litanies in dog Latin, Sancta Cachuchia ora pro rotis, Sancta Cla- 
vina ora pro portis ( and others unquotable ) : the first being inspired 
by the dread of being left in the wild with no rubber tires; the 
other, by the constant difficulty of entering museums and galleries 
because the keeper had gone away to a neighboring town with the 
keys in his pocket. To while away the time waiting for endless 
roadside repairs he invented a Monsieur Dupont, an average 
French bourgeois and his family, and made us talk in character, 
We did it too well, with some danger of forgetting how to talk in 
any other way. 

He made up for everything by being delightful as a companion 



JANUARY, 1941 25 

in churches, museums, before landscape; vibrating, stimulating, 
responsive, for he was, as I have said before, both sensitive and 
intelligent; and besides he had the required preparation. I dare 
repeat that he enjoyed it the more for enjoying it with me, whom 
he regarded as supreme arbiter of every phase of beauty that could 
reach one through the eyes. He felt he could rely on my guidance, 
and if in the course of my studies, which he followed with lively 
interest, we had to see artifacts that were but mediocre as works 
of art, he relished the satisfaction of being "in it/' 

A singular trait must not pass unrecorded. In the fifty years of 
intimacy, seeing each other so often, I never heard him talk of 
the subject uppermost in high society, the question of qui est atec 
qui with what Mabel is Edward now? I cannot recall his gos- 
siping about any particular woman. As far as I knew, sex did not 
seem to interest him in others or in himself. Only once did he 
speak of his own experience. Some thirty-five years ago we were 
crossing the Bernina on a sparkling late September day, and as 
we were crunching the hard dazzling snow he talked of the ex- 
pedients he had to take in order to keep his various loves from 
interfering with each other. He referred to it as to "old, unhappy, 
far-off things and battles long ago." If he had love affairs during 
the half century that I knew him, I never heard of them, although 
I did see him flirt rather ostentatiously with this or that ripe 
beauty. As for Mme de Montebello, he was Dante to her Beatrice. 
Nor did he take interest in my affairs of the heart. I recall suffering 
so much from peine d* amour that I could not help appealing for 
sympathy. He pooh-poohed me, and was almost as stony as was 
Edith Wharton on a similar occasion. 

I have been speaking of Placci so long and as yet have said 
nothing of his physical appearance. To foreigners he looked like 
Savonarola. My eye saw more resemblance to the portraits in pre- 
Inca, Peruvian potteries. Indeed, he had about him something 
Aztec, Mayan, Chiroquee Central America, in short. He had the 
enormous chest of a stone-age man, not short, not thick-set, yet 
pillarlike. When he got out of a chair and stood up, his natural 
position was as frontal as an early dynasty Egyptian's, with the 



^6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

palms of his hands flat, turned outward, and kept close to his 
thighs. His face, too, was unusually frontal and after seventy 
looked more and more like a M exican or Aztec mask. He kept his 
hair thick to the end and it never got more than iron-gray. His 
eyes were dark. The lower lip tended to protrude, especially when 
he was cross. He dressed neatly but with no elegance, and always 
conventionally. 

Placci was not only a dilettante in music, and a tolerable pianist 
as already told, but a man of letters. In earlier years he wrote one 
or two novels which his acquaintances read: and later, till the 
other day, in fact, he contributed several articles a year to the 
Corriere delta Sera, They were nearly always reminiscent or soci- 
etyish, and did no justice to what, in favorable moments, he could 
say in conversation. Curiously enough, while he could tell a good 
story, even when not merely droll, and discuss character penetrat- 
ingly, his pen remained far behind his tongue, and even his tongue 
could not make his ordinary doings interesting. His letters were 
seldom more than lists of people he had seen, and we got to dread 
our first meeting after a separation. He would insist on naming 
one person after the other he had seen, of whom so few for us had 
any interest. 

He began to decline some ten years ago, falling asleep after 
meals wherever he happened to be. He still went to Paris and 
London and Rome for their seasons, and people remained kind 
and hospitable, but he had less and less to contribute. He con- 
fessed that he could not read any more, that he did not care any 
more for travel, and little for music. Nothing remained for him 
but "people, people, people," as he told me his reminiscences were 
to be entitled, if ever the diary he kept should be published. Less 
than ever could he bear to be alone. He used to boast of turning 
the Italian proverb "Better alone than in poor company'' into "Any 
company rather than alone." When traveling he would look out 
as eagerly for the most crowded carriage as did the rest of us for 
the emptiest. Sad that during his last illness he would not or could 
not bear to see anyone. 

This is what I have to say at present about dear Carlo Placci, 



JANUARY, 1941 27 

Placci as I saw him, put up with him, loved him, and to a limited 
extent knew him. I wonder what people who have not known him 
will get out of what I have just written. A consistent impression, 
no matter how little like the Platonic idea, the metaphysical por- 
trait? In North Africa the natives attach bits of rags, wool, linen, 
cotton of any and every color to the scraggly bushes planted 
around the tombs of their marabouts or santons. Perhaps that is 
all I have contributed to the memory of Carlo Placci. Not even an 
effigy in mosaic. 

January i^th 

To ACQUIRE and retain a strangle-hold on a people, a church 
must identify itself with the national needs and aspirations. Wit- 
ness the Poles and Irish and ghetto Jews of today where the church 
swallows up the nation. In fact, until recently in the nearer East, 
church and nation were identical. Not more than a few years ago, 
in Yugoslavia, visiting an ancient site, I overheard my Serbian 
guides trying to find out of what tribe the custodian of the ruins 
was. Was he a Serb, was he a Croat, was he a Slovene? To each 
question he gave a more vehement negative. Finally he yelled: 
"Catholic, Catholic, I am a Catholic!" 

It is conceivable that if the attacks of Moslems from south and 
west had coincided with the Mongol invasions from the east, 
Christian Europe would have been welded into one church-state 
of a permanent nature, and not merely into the sketch of one 
achieved between Gregory VII and Innocent III. Under pressure 
of the Moravids, Spain became the most fanatical church-state 
that Europe knew before Jesuitized Poland. 

January 2gth 

DIFFERENCE OF AGE never made much difference to me at any 
moment of my life, nor does it now. That is to say it would not, 
but for the increasing age-consciousness that has crept upon us 
since I myself was a young person. During my visits to the U. S. A. 



28 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

I began to feel more and more parked into a round where we had 
to keep turning with our contemporaries like Paolo and Francesea 
in their circle of Dante's Inferno, seldom meeting the older and 
never the young. Indeed, we never saw the children of our best 
friends at their own table, and scarcely knew them by sight. 

I was not the baby monster who could not enjoy the society of 
other children, but in so far as I was allowed to listen, in so far as 
I could understand the talk of older and even old people, I pre- 
ferred it. To this much I must confess: that after childhood, the 
further I advanced in boyhood and youth the more I sought out 
my elders. At Harvard I preferred the conversation of James, of 
Toy, of Climer, of Wendell, to that of fellow students. The former 
not only seemed better worth while, but were more accessible. 
Nothing is so cliquy and exclusive as the schoolboy or the school- 
boy-minded Anglo-Saxon of all ages. 

From early years, old age inspired me with sympathy and good 
will. Perhaps it was due to a grandmother, to whom I was attached 
the more as my own mother, only eighteen when I was born, was 
herself too much the young girl lovely and perhaps giddy to 
play the mother. She left the happy task to her own mother. My 
giant grandfather, who used, like St. Christopher, to carry me 
seated on his right shoulder, may also have contributed to my 
friendly attitude toward old people. What I vividly recall is a 
story of a little boy who was discovered by his parents carving a 
bowl out of a piece of wood. Asked what he was doing, he an- 
swered that when his grandfather got too unsteady to hold earth- 
enware without breaking it, he was given a wooden bowl instead; 
and that he was getting one ready in good time for his own father. 

I not only remember the pity and the tenderness this made me 
feel for the old, helpless, friendless, neglected peasants that I must 
have seen, but it has haunted me through life, making me feel 
more unhappy to think of the suffering of the aged than of younger 
people. Then this story made me for the first time aware, but with 
a poignancy I never got over, how swift, how inexorable was the 
passage of the years, and how soon I too, then a small boy, would 
be an old man. Possibly another tale read soon afterwards helped 



JANUARY, 1941 2Q 

to burn it into me. It was by Jean Paul and told of a youth who 
dreams that he is no longer young, that he has w r asted his prime 
and maturity, and is now old and a wreck. With difficult)' he 
rouses himself from this nightmare, w r akes to youth again, but 
with the will to make good use of the remainder of his days. 

So I never felt that there was anything enviable in youth. I 
cannot recall that any of us, as youths, admired our condition to 
excess or had a desire to prolong it. Nor, when young ourselves, 
did we think of our contemporaries as looking particularly young. 
The older w r e get, the more and more childlike do the young look, 
and to me now all under thirty look cherubic almost, and babies. 

I for one was keenly aware of being young, of being alert, eager, 
and zestful. I enjoyed it. Yet not for an instant would I have 
stopped the march of time. On the contrary, I was panting to be 
twenty-one, to be of age, to graduate, and then to plunge into the 
vague, uncharted, fascinating future. 

Harvard undergraduates, when I was one, had no more cult of 
youth than I did; nor, living, as I have, a sheltered life on a Tuscan 
hillside, can I recall when and where this worship of youth began 
youth as an independent, complete state of being and not, as we 
used to treat it, a causeway between boyhood and manhood, youth 
belying the old adage "Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait," 
youth adding knowledge to power, wisdom to will, and dispensing 
not only with the experience of elders but of betters as well, and 
coming out the more efficient, the more creative, for doing so. 

Youth, advanced youth at all events, was, for all its exuberant 
gaiety and wild hopes, a period of anxious indecision as to one's 
place in the great society, one's mating, one's settling. This was 
particularly the case with those of us who were favored by nature 
rather than by fortune. Shallow as it may seem to the German- 
minded divers into deep seas of ink, I venture to believe that there 
would be little storm and stress, few youth movements, if young 
men were sure of walking straight into satisfactory careers. 

My first recollection of the word "youth" used in any but a 
temporal sense is attached to what seemed a hole-and-corner 
movement although it led to blood and tears, "Young Ireland." 



go RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Much later was started a German weekly named Jugend, which 
should have made me reflect, but I was no doubt prevented by the 
fact that the greedily devoured paper of my boyhood was the 
Youth's Companion, which certainly had nothing political, so- 
ciological, or anything beyond the interests suitable to a healthy 
boy. I seem to remember hearing or reading occasionally the 
phrase Giovane Italia young Italy. If I ever encountered the 
word "young" as applied to a social or political movement in 
France, England, or America it has certainly gone out of my mind. 

So when I first heard the Fascist song "Giovinezza, giovinezza" 
sung, if I am not mistaken, on a variant of the tune of an old 
Bersaglieri march I pricked up my ears and listened. How odd 
that youngsters should be rejoicing in something so inevitably 
transitory, so swiftly over and past as youth! Furthermore: real 
manliness, vigor, energy, creativeness, have on the one hand no 
such self -awareness, and on the other hand no such leisure as to 
make much of themselves in word rather than deed. Still less is a 
healthy community interested in celebrating its health, and boast- 
ing of all it means to do, and the expected rewards. That is more 
characteristic of used-up, of consumptive, of senile societies. 

Nor when I was young was "young" synonymous with "new." 
When in my youth there came to Boston Wagner, Browning, 
Ibsen, and Tolstoi they brought wonder, they widened horizons, 
they were newness itself, but neither were they young nor would 
that have made any difference. 

Is it not perhaps a symptom of decadence to take to the cult 
of youth, of the young? Normal youth needs no urging to be young 
and no drive to be enterprising, bold, and adventurous. Real youth 
is bursting with these qualities, with "dynamic" to use a contem- 
porary vocable for a concept as ancient as the Mousterians at least 
and, far from requiring their encouragement, needs to be re- 
strained. Achilles and Hector, Alexander and his marshals, Napo- 
leon and his, did not harp on being young. The first two respected 
the age-old Nestor and Priam, and the latter two would have done 
well to listen to Perdiccas and Talleyrand. 

History is being written from many different points of view, 



FEBRUARY, 194! 31 

each representing another approach, inspired by another interest. 
Why not study the past fifty centuries in the light of the question 
of old and young, old versus young, of what happened when the 
one predominated over the other, and what when there was a 
perfect balance between the two? Offhand I should be disposed to 
believe that in the most happy moments of civilization equilibrium 
prevailed. When youth is at the prow, the ship of society is too 
likely to be steered to strange and sterile adventures like the Ro- 
man and French revolutionary wars, like the horrors we are wit- 
nessing today to the tune of giovinezza. On the other hand, when 
the aged rule exclusively they tend to celestialism, to a sort of 
horticultural view of society, as if man were like a flower that had 
to bloom, put forth its beauty, and wither, yet return unchanged 
again and ever again, with the seasons. This attitude entertained 
toward society by the Chinese, the Hindus, the rabbis, and the 
muftis is one into which, in revulsion from too much youth, we 
may drift. 

February 4th 

Is THERE a connection between the emerging sense of individu- 
ality and the craving for a future life? It would seem possible that 
down to a certain period, man felt himself to be too much part of 
a group, and was at the same time too absorbed in mere living, 
either to think of himself as distinct from his tribe or to worry 
about what would happen to him after death. 

What was man's notion of individuality as late even as the 
aeneolithic period? Was it a privilege of the king only, of Cheops 
at Gizeh, of the ruler at Ur? And is that why they felt they must 
do all in their power, at the risk perchance of exhausting the ma- 
terial resources of the community, to prolong into an indefinite 
future a life that was and was not physical, was and was not im- 
material? 

I say "immaterial/' but what could the word have meant to 
Cheops or a nearly contemporary king of Ur? How far could they 
distinguish between material and not-material? How soon did the 



32 RUMOK AND REFLECTION 

surviving not-material begin to be more than a batlike something 
flitting about in a Sheol or Hades, and to take on the connotation 
of an existence beyond nature, altogether beyond, and not merely 
of one more attenuated and more helpless? It could not have been 
early or we ourselves by now should have got further. It would 
not be too safe today even to inquire what most of us meant by 
"spirit/* We might risk discovering that for most it still meant 
something material but infinitely thin although endowed with 
superterrestrial qualities. Almost all would insist that it was re- 
lated to an immortal soul. Few have got so far as to identify 
"spirit" with a realm of being in which we exercise those of our 
faculties that lead us as much beyond "nature" mere animated 
sentient matter as the fruit is beyond the soil and the seed out 
of which it grew. It is a realm in which we strive to attain certain 
qualities. Could we attain them, we should become these qualities 
and cease to be as individuals. We should be in Abraham's bosom, 
we should be dissolved in the Godhead, we should achieve Nir- 
vana. 

To go back to the question of a possible link between the sense 
of individuality and the craving for an afterlife, if it could be 
established that there was such a connection we should have a key 
with which to unlock many a mystery of the past, a light to illu- 
mine many a dark moment. 

In Egypt if at first it was the Pharaoh only who was a conscious 
individual with a craving for an existence prolonged indefinitely, 
the grandees nearest to the ruler soon followed him. They too built 
their homes for eternity, and little by little they were imitated by 
the less important members of the state. 

Perhaps it was the awareness of being individuals that led these 
grandees to assert themselves against the supreme power and to 
end as feudatories who more than once threatened the unity of the 
state. 

Despite much desultory reading I know too little about Eleu- 
sinian, Orphic, and other Greek mysteries to do more than ask 
questions. For instance: Did the growth of a conscious craving for 
an afterlife coincide in date with the rise of tyranny in Greece? 



FEBRUARY,, 1941 33 

The total individual is necessarily an autocrat, as Bismarck knew 
well when he confessed that if he were not employing his faculties 
in ruling the state he would use them as an anarchist to be rid of 
it, to be free of it, one may suppose. And individuals so detached 
from tribalism as the Spartan Pausanias and Lysander and the 
wholly emancipated Themistocles, Pericles, and Alcibiades was 
their integration as personalities connected with the hope of end- 
less continuation? 

In Persia, whether Achaemenian, Parthian, or Sassanian, did 
feudalism imply individualism as distinct from headship of a clan; 
and was advancing feudalism an increasing weakness accounting 
for the easy conquests first of Alexander and ten centuries later of 
the Islamic invaders? What is certain for those countries is that the 
belief in immortality was increasing all the time. 

Owing to Stoicism in the Roman Empire combining with other- 
worldliness in Judea and its almost countless tentacles over the 
then known world, the individual of even the humblest classes was 
getting so emancipated from his origins, was owing so little alle- 
giance to the community which begot him, that he was beginning 
to feel lonely and to seek for settled and organized companionship 
under the disguise frequently of a religious sodality as was to 
be continued by the corporations and guilds of the Middle Ages. 
That these specks of human dust, in the great cities, were getting 
to be more and more believers in an afterlife we know, as we know 
that the religions of the time were appealing to them as isolated 
individuals with immortal souls, owing no religious duties to clan, 
tribe, or city, but only to God alone. The reward they prayed for, 
and hoped to attain, was not only the continuation of life after the 
grave, but one so blissful that it would amply reward them for 
their previous sufferings. There were thus two distinct and op- 
posed states of mind to encourage a craving for an afterlife: 

either life on earth was so irremediably dreadful that it could 
be endured only if there were compensations hereafter, 

or life was so worth while that one wanted to live it, just as it 
was, for ever and ever. 

The first actuated the hopeless, the depressed, the poor, and led 



34 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

straight to Judeo-Christianity. The second inspired the Egyptian 
and Iranian feudatories. 

By our eighth century the belief in immortality among Jewish, 
Christian, or Mohammedan people had become so general that 
only the hardest and deepest thinkers conceived of doubting it. 
Probably this belief, with its terrors and hopes, not only rendered 
daily life more dramatic, but preserved for the common man, 
through succeeding centuries of oppression, repression, violence, 
and anarchy, a certain sense of equality. True enough, it was an 
equality before God only, in Whose presence everybody was him- 
self and himself alone, responsible only for the good and evil he 
alone had done. In the course of the centuries, however, since 
thought and feeling cannot be kept in watertight compartments, 
equality before God, individual responsibility of man to his Maker, 
suggested, inspired, and finally brought about every man's equal- 
ity before the law. 

In our century and almost within my memory covering some 
sixty-five years of awareness, the belief in the afterlife has waned 
everywhere but chiefly among proletarianized city dwellers. 

Is there a connection between the waning among these classes 
of the belief in an afterlife, with its rewards and punishments, and 
the loss of their sense of individuality, which they so readily 
abandon to identify themselves with the only individuals that 
count, the Pharaohs of our day? 

February gth 

WHEN I THINK freely, as I do at times in the teeth of fear, hate, 
the craving for revenge, and the ambition to be found in the right; 
when I meditate disinterestedly, I question and wonder. I wonder 
whether if to beat the Germans we have to take their verbal and 
material weapons; to become as militarized, as mechanized, as 
automatized as they, with nothing to distinguish us in conduct 
from the Germans, I ask then whether we are wise in opposing 
them. Why fight if our values disappear in the struggle, if we too 



FEBRUARY, 1941 35 

are to be reduced to abject totalitarianism, to be depersonalized, 
despiritualized, and above all deindividualized, reduced at best to 
rejoicing in our physiological functioning with barely more than 
animal awareness? In that case the cunning of the serpent might 
counsel us to submit while we still retained our values Intact, and 
to submit with the firm intention of keeping these values not only 
uncontaminated and untarnished, as certainly can be done, seeing 
the Jews have done it for thousands of years in the midst of their 
oppressors. More than that; we could discreetly and tactfully 
present them no, not present them, insinuate them rather, or 
better still let them be perceived as delicate but not easily named 
exhalations, by the more sensitive Germans. 

Might not such a procedure be the least bad way of getting out 
of present, ever more hellish troubles? 

I could laugh to think how the Germans would take it, if instead 
of resisting their evil we cheered their advent. They might totter 
as Atlas did when unexpectedly Hercules took the full weight of 
the earth, its whole crushing burden, off his shoulders. Pity we are 
not told what happened to Atlas! Had he got too accustomed to his 
load to feel relief? 

Unfortunate it is that the experiment cannot be made and 
reversed without consequence to the prior conditions! Sooner or 
later it will be tried. In the course of time, everything will be 
attempted, and again and again, till humanity becomes convinced 
of the result as it is that two and two are four. The experiment in 
question is being made in Paris just now but with consequences 
that scarcely promise to be satisfactory to Frenchmen or even 
Germans. Unfortunately, they are Frenchmen with small sense of 
reality against Germans with no sense of humanity. 

The following anecdote told by Gide in his Journal is rather 
comforting. During the First World War a German officer in occu- 
pied France was shopping when a woman came in with a baby in 
her arms. It seemed to have no hands but only two stumps. The 
officer jumped to the conclusion that they had been cut off, and 
rushed out of the shop crying out in despair: "Then it is true, it is 



36 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

true that we have cut off children's hands.'* As a matter of fact, the 
baby was born like that. 

Februanj 6th 

WHAT HAPPENS to civilization under the shock of military de- 
feat, we saw in Germany at the end of 1918 and we see in France 
today. We see it with this difference, however: that in both coun- 
tries this same civilization has, in the interval, suffered disaster 
after disaster so that after another defeat the elements to fall back 
on will be of a much lower, coarser, more animal type. With defeat, 
no matter how temporary, the authority that headed and ruled a 
society is swept away overnight as it was in Germany in 1918. The 
government of that country fell out of the hands of its traditional 
rulers, but uncovered an administration capable of carrying on, 
and leaders of moral and intellectual quality, singularly free, at 
least to the eyes of an outsider, from partisanship, if not from a 
disastrous optimism about human nature at home and abroad. 

If Germany is defeated now, the Lord only knows who will 
remain to run it! What is left over in France we see already. 
Wrong-headed, unpractical, fantastical romantics with their sterile 
and even destructive passions of blind love and staggering hate; 
and taking advantage of them the envious, jealous, resentful fail- 
ures of healthier times, during the prevalence of which these rates 
had small chance to come to the top. Truly in the last twenty years 
has been confirmed the Psalmist's utterance about his God: "De- 
posuit potentes a sede et exaltavit humiles" Yes, but humble not 
in contrition and feeling of unworthiness, humble in the sense only 
of being morally, spiritually, humanely inferior. 

February nth 

THE ELDEST GRANDSON of a friend is dying if not already dead, 
a beautiful boy of eleven, beautiful and gifted, intelligent, dreamy, 
thoughtful. A couple of months ago his grandmother brought a 
little landscape he had just painted. It was so well observed, so 



MARCH, 1941 37 

well done, that I asked her to leave it for a while in our sitting 
room. Everybody who came was struck by it, and wanted to know 
by whom it was. 

Now he is dying or dead of leukemia, a disease for which, as 
yet, no remedy has been found. My youngest sister, Rachel Perry, 
died of it within the week that it declared itself. The little boy 
has been kept alive by blood transfusions and other tortures to 
which, I am told, he prefers death. 

This same little boy looked and acted like his maternal uncle, of 
whom he seemed to be the reincarnation. This uncle took part in 
the First World War courageously and got through unhurt, to die 
frozen in the mountains, while on a rash climb. 

This same mother and grandmother is one of my oldest surviv- 
ing friends and one of the dearest. She has without exception the 
clearest and most vigorous mind I have encountered in a woman. 
A spirit as free as air. From the late eighteen nineties, when we 
became friends, I have always known her eager to face problems 
and ready to treat them from every angle, except one of family 
interests. I could write scores and scores of pages about her as 
she presented herself to me in those days, someday perhaps! 

And now at this minute the flower of her offspring, the one she 
loved for himself and adored as the reincarnation of her lost son, 
is perhaps already dead. We say "Man proposes and God disposes." 
More fatalistic people say that no one escapes his fate. 

March i8th 

THINKING of amusing experiments, an entertaining one would 
be to watch a European continent with the British islands not only 
conquered but swept clean of their inhabitants (excepting the 
southern Irish), and their place taken by Germans and their 
subjects. 

The most exciting expectation would be realized by the return, 
in time, of similar relations between Germany and England that 
now prevail. The German land has sent its children out again and 
again to the conquest of England. To speak of historical times and 



38 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

taking no account of previous aeons of history, there were the 
Belgae, the Jutes, the Angles, the Saxons. It did not take them long 
to forget, or to ignore, their connection with the inhabitants of the 
land they had left behind them. Nor would it now. One may sus- 
pect it would take less. It may be presumed that it would be the 
most enterprising of sea-minded and industrialized Germans who 
would occupy England and command and exploit the hordes of 
inferior immigrants coming with them. In a few decades they 
would feel that their interests were no longer identical with those 
of their cousins in the Fatherland. The last, in their turn, would 
be suspecting, sooner even, that they were being neglected, sacri- 
ficed. They thus .would be drifting apart, the ex-Germans in Eng- 
land becoming more and more sea-minded, the Germans on the 
Continent more and more dissatisfied with these ungrateful chil- 
dren. Sooner or later the inhabitants of the islands, no matter how 
different from the previous English whom the Germans had con- 
quered, would become a thorn in the flesh of the last-named, just 
as the former had been before their expulsion or extermination. 
The inhabitants of Germany would be roused sooner or later to 
want to conquer the islands, again and again. There would be but 
one effective remedy for German ambitions. It would be to tow 
England across the Atlantic and push her up against the American 
continent. This, by the way, is going to happen spiritually and 
materially and soon, but that is not at all what Germany is after. 
What she is after is the "geopolitical" removal of England from 
where this island stands in her way. 

As for the French and Dutch, the Spaniards and Italians, after 
some decades of German rule or even hegemony not the invisible 
and inaudible and merely inferred British hegemony but the 
obvious one which alone Germans understand the following 
results may be expected. 

The French may at last forget the Hundred Years' War and the 
Napoleonic struggles, and decide to be good neighbors of the 
English, who surely in the course of history have always treated 
them less badly than ever did the inhabitants of Germany since 
Ariovistus. 



APRIL, 1941 39 

The Dutch may decide to bury the hatchet and forgive England 
for being too strong to admit again of a Tromp's sailing up the 
Thames, with a broom at his masthead. 

The Spaniards even may mitigate their hatred of England be- 
cause of the Armada, because of Gibraltar, because of the assist- 
ance given them during the Peninsular War. 

As for the Italians, their fresh and fragile hatred of England will 
not outlive their perceiving how much better they were off under 
an impalpably vague hegemony if indeed hegemony it was and 
not authority, attributed but scarcely purposed than under the 
tremendous pressure Germany will exert. They will have learned 
how Germany has hemmed them in, how the same Germany has 
excluded them not only from their Mare Nostrum (in a way Eng- 
land never dreamt of doing in peacetime) but from all the seas, 
unless they, the Italians, consented to hew wood and draw water 
for them for a bare living wage while the Germans got the material 
profit, the joy accruing from successful functioning, and the glory 
of big achievements. 

April 20th 

ENEMY NUMBER ONE is the Machine in whatever form. Not only 
because of its ugliness as sight, sound, and smell, not only because 
it reduces entire counties and almost whole countries to sordid- 
ness, squalor, and disgusting rubbish heaps. My chief objection 
to the machine is that it exists only for an end and ignores, must 
ignore, the means, except in so far as the perfect functioning of the 
means is necessary to the end. The machine is not only a mecha- 
nism, it is a state of mind that existed thousands of years earlier 
than any but the crudest and simplest mechanism. It is a state of 
mind which for thousands of years has been aiming at an age like 
the present, during which the machine will go from triumph to 
triumph, and end by realizing its millennial endeavor to reduce 
the individual to a robot. 

It need scarcely be remarked that a machine age as just de- 
scribed, or rather the machine mind, tends invariably toward not 



40 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

only authoritarian but totalitarian rule, practiced in dynastic 
Egypt more than five thousand years ago, reducing its mass of 
individuals to a slave-mindedness known as fellahisni, from which 
indeed they have never recovered. 

Wonder of wonders, Now comes the most efficiently totalitarian 
of all regimes, now come the Nazis to free the rest of Europe, per- 
haps the rest of the world, from the machine! They are prepared 
to sacrifice themselves to it, mind and body. They will now under- 
take all the work that can be done only by the completest submis- 
sion to the machine, and they mean to go so far in self-sacrifice as 
to forbid and prevent other peoples from using it. No heavy in- 
dustries, no trusts elsewhere. They alone are to sweat, and toil, and 
moil, producing everything that the most elaborate, the most 
complicated, the most delicate machines can produce. 

The other countries will return to agriculture, to hoe culture, to 
horticulture, to glass-blowing, to the cottage and other charming 
industries that educate and amuse mind and eye, and humanize 
the worker. The people of these countries will be free to change 
about, to employ their time as the seasons and their own inclina- 
tion direct. They will work and play, play and work all day long, 
as individuals, as freemen almost. They will be emancipated from 
the slavery of the machine and from turning into robots; they will 
be men and women again. Their towns, their countryside, their 
hills and valleys will be cleaned of the ugliness, the belching chim- 
neys, the slag, the excrements piled up by the heavy industries, 
The Mediterranean world, with its three peninsulas and its frame 
of mountains, with its islands and islets, will be saved from detur- 
pation and end by forgetting the machine age. 

So the Nazis will bring about what I have been desiring and 
even yearning for: the return to the Italy and Greece and Spain 
of Winckelmann, of Goethe, of Washington Irving, of Tischbein, 
of the Nazarenes and the Romantics. I ought to be delighted and 
grateful Why am I not? JE' il modo che tnoffende. 



APRIL, 1941 41 



April 2ist 

GIVEN HUMAN NATURE, there is perhaps no way but violence 
to bring about rapid and large-scale changes. The Nazis may be 
instruments in the hand of a power making for good, no matter 
how bloodily, how bestially, how recklessly, how heartlessly. The}' 
know not what they do. They started out with the idea of de- 
Judaizing, de-Bohemianizing, de-Polonizing the German people 
and of bringing back into the fold all the groups that were being 
lost to the Fatherland. Having achieved this, they suddenly forgot 
their initial intention, and started attacking other peoples and pro- 
ceeded from conquest to conquest. In a few weeks they may be 
masters of the entire European Continent and before long of the 
whole Eurasian land mass. 

Force would unite this vast territory with its nations, tribes, and 
clans in a way that centuries of persuasion have not succeeded in 
bringing about. It would be unpleasant enough at first, but in the 
course of some decades or even a century a mere instant in the 
course of history the subdued peoples would begin to recover, 
the Nazis to tire of totalitarianism and its methods, and Eurasia 
might shake down or, at least, Europe might settle into a common- 
wealth of peoples, learning little by little to respect each other's 
individuality, and to understand that their own might profit by 
doing so. 

I ought to be deeply grateful to the Nazis for another result 
which they are bringing about, little though they have planned it. 
They are obliging the English-speaking nations the earth over to 
unite into an Anglo-Saxon constellation. It is a dream I dreamt for 
decades, but it seemed destined to remain a dream for centuries if 
not forever. The Nazis are bringing it about so quickly that it may 
be completed before the war is over. 

And what has become of the self-sufficiency, the autarchy Ger- 
many has been flirting with since the days of her economist List a 
century ago; and what of the Central European economy so ar- 
dently preached by Naumann during the last war? Nazism was 



42 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

founded on the first, violently took up the second, and now has 
dropped both. For this also one cannot be too grateful Autarchy, 
carried through with German thoroughness, would have brought 
into each country a Merovingian economy with all its narrowing, 
confining consequences. 

April 28th 

IT is A GREAT PITY that Continental people, with the rarest ex- 
ceptions, have so little acquaintance with the mind and character 
of England as a country, and of the English as a people; they are 
ready to believe anything of them. In the Middle Ages the Eng- 
lishmen were credited with having tails. What Continental people 
will affirm about them today is nearly as absurd but not so harm- 
less. 

There is the British Intelligence Service, omnipresent, omnipo- 
tent, utterly unscrupulous, to account for any death or uprising, or 
disaster at all unexpected, or anything that crosses the aims of 
this or that Continental government. Just now I have heard of two 
bits of gossip regarding English policy. One is that the Egyptians 
are being kept under by the threat that if they are disloyal or make 
trouble for England, the English will turn the Nile from its course 
and reduce Egypt to a desert. I have tried in vain to convince my 
Italian friends not only that it was beyond present human power 
to achieve such a purpose, but that it would not occur to English 
people to think of such a measure. Another thing that scarcely 
would enter an English head is believed here by many. It is that 
the English arranged their entire campaign in the Near East so as 
to conquer Abyssinia by a certain date, which date was the anni- 
versary of the Italian Giorno dell *Impero, the day when Mussolini 
declared the annexation of Abyssinia. I doubt whether anything 
remoter from the English way of feeling could be invented. Not so 
far from Continental ways! Witness Versailles! 



MAY, 1941 43 



May 5th 

YESTERDAY a friend was here, a Roman of good family, closely 
related to the late Cardinal Vannutelli and thus in touch with 
the Vatican. He told me that soon after the death of Pope Bene- 
dict XV, his own father was dying. A priest was called in, but the 
father refused to see him. Thinking to comfort the son, the priest 
said: "Don't take it hard. Such things will happen nowadays. Why, 
the late Holy Father on his deathbed sent away the priests with: 
X)ff with you, the play is over' " (la commedia e finita). His Holi- 
ness surely meant commedia as divina, Divine Comedy like the 
title of Dante's masterpiece. 

May 6th 

DR. NEUMANN, the famous throat, nose, and ear specialist of 
Vienna, spoke one day in my hearing of Jews as "coreligionists." 
I quizzed him and asked him whether he believed in the Penta- 
teuch and in the Torah, whether he followed any of the precepts, 
rules, and restrictions of the rabbinical code, and whether he be- 
lieved in a God at all. "No, he did not/* Then why did he speak of 
the Jews as his "coreligionists"? I pointed out to him that the term 
did not suit his case at all. Nor did the term "fellow sufferers," be- 
cause it was too general. The only phrase that exactly labeled his 
case was "fellow scapegoats." 



Casa al Dono, Vallombrosa. August 

YESTERDAY the ex-Prime Minister Orlando was here for lunch- 
eon. He is a sturdy, thick-set, and yet not ill-proportioned elderly 
man who, apart from the white hair which covers his head thickly, 
does not remotely show his age. He is in his eighty-second year 
and looks full ten years younger. Light and bright blue eyes, regu- 
lar features, a fine mouth. He came all the way on foot from his 
own villa. Although but across the ravine and perhaps not a mile 



44 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

away as the crow flies, it is as a walk neither short nor easy. One 
has a long and fatiguing climb after descending to the brook which 
runs through the bottom of the same ravine. Orlando had been to 
mass at the rustic church of San Miniato in Alpe, half a mile away 
from here, and at eleven was strolling up to our gate with his 
daughter Carlotta and her husband Garabelli. They remained till 
3 P.M. Orlando seldom silent for more than a minute at a time. He 
Is an unflagging and brilliant talker. A pleasant clear voice al- 
though his Sicilian pronunciation at times veiled the shape of a 
phrase. Only for an instant. He enjoys talking and evidently re- 
gards it as his most peculiar gift. He believes in his powers of im- 
provisation and oratory, and speaks of both not boastfully but de- 
scriptively as a fact there was no more need to be modest about 
than to be proud of. He held my attention, whatever he was say- 
ing. 

Although busier as a lawyer than ever, he finds time to write 
about the Peace Conference of 1919. I was nothing but ears and 
eyes when he told us this and my attentive looks encouraged him 
to go on. Quickly he came to President Wilson. 

All the evils that have happened since are due to Wilson's hos- 
tility to Italy. He refused to send troops to Italy. He would not 
listen to reason the moment it was a question of Italy's claims to 
Yugoslav territory. He liked Orlando personally and hated to make 
him unhappy. He insisted on giving Italy more of the South Tyrol 
than she ever claimed, and the claim itself had been encouraged 
(if I do not misquote Orlando) by Wilson. When the differences 
got acute the latter went so far as to propose Constantinople to the 
Italians. 

Orlando went on to say that on almost every other point Wilson 
grew more and more supple and ready to compromise and yield. 
Only on the question of Yugoslavia he remained adamant. 

By elimination of every other conceivable reason, Orlando came 
to the conclusion that the Yugoslavs had some kind of strangle- 
hold on Wilson. Of what nature he did not know, but of its effec- 
tiveness he was certain. 

Is it not possible that Wilson and the American people behind 



NOVEMBER, 1941 45 

him were horrified at the idea that Italy should aggrandize herself 
at the expense of the small nation to save which from Austrian 
greed the \var had been started? 

But this hypothesis is one not easily entertained by any Conti- 
nental European, unless perhaps by a Scandinavian, seeing that 
he considers it right, virile, heroic to fall upon a neighbor and do 
what he likes with him and his. So much do Continental Euro- 
peans still consider this right as universally axiomatic that to them 
any word against it is written down, with contempt and indigna- 
tion, as gross and insulting hypocrisy. 

While Continental Europeans continue to hold these views it 
is all but hopeless to expect good will and peace in the world. 
Sooner or later one or the other will fall on his neighbor. The aver- 
age European does not seem to feel free until he succeeds In en- 
slaving and oppressing others. 

November $d 

ITALIAN NATIONALISTS envy our riches, call us "plutocrats,** 
and incite their fellow subjects to insult us with cries of "detentori 
di dollari, detentori di sterline" My retort is that they are helio- 
crats. Our riches may easily fail us, may vanish into thin air, as so 
often happens in moments of financial crisis, or be taken from us 
by dishonest agents, by tax collectors, etc., etc. No power on earth 
can deprive Italians of their heliocracy, the riches stored up in the 
sun for their disposal, as for no other white people. They never- 
theless are among the most discontented mortals known to me, al- 
ways complaining of their poverty, their indigence, of the unfair 
distribution of the world's goods, of their having no coal, no iron, 
no precious metals, no cotton, etc., etc. When you point to the sun 
that enables them to live at half the outlay that it costs us North- 
erners, and to their own proverb which speaks of the sun as half a 
meal and the sun as father of the poor, they answer that you can't 
sell any of it or hand it on to your heirs. 

That is true enough and leads one to the reflection that when 
you own a thing in common, and cannot cash it or exchange your 



46 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

share in it for something else you desire at the moment, your own- 
ership is dust and ashes. 

If ownership in the sun is so little appreciated by the individuals 
who share its indivisible, inalienable wealth as to leave them dis- 
satisfied, rebellious, and ready to run amok against people who 
have riches they can do what they like with, does it not make one 
ask what would happen under Communism, where all wealth 
would be indivisible and inalienable? The individual would have 
to be painfully and thoroughly reconditioned before he could be 
happy without the right to own something he could do what he 
liked with. I doubt whether human nature could stand such a re- 
striction on one of its chief demands on life, the enjoyment of 
power as exercised in making and spending money. 

The conduct of the Italian heliocrats makes me wonder whether 
we Northerners, detainers of sterling and dollars, could not retort 
and say: "You do not appreciate your benefits. You see no good in 
all that the sun is shedding upon you. Though you toil not, neither 
do you spin. You long for Essen, for Glasgow, for oil fields and dia- 
mond mines, and for the hell their presence produces. Very well, 
you shall have them. Long enough have you enjoyed the blessings 
of the sun, so long that you have ceased to regard them as benefits 
or to be as much as aware of them. It is time you gave place to the 
miners and operatives of Wales and Pennsylvania, of Baku and 
Batum, of the burning sands of Iraq and the grim deserts of Iran. 
To them shall you go, and at once. Let others come who will ap- 
preciate, more than you do, what it is to live in an earthly paradise 
like Italy." 

November 6th 

As I WAS DRIVING up the road yesterday afternoon, in a light 
mist which gave a somewhat unreal aspect to the landscape, I sud- 
denly beheld striding before me tall, fair, well-shaped men in 
sporting jackets and short breeches, a costume easily neolithic. For 
part of a second I was transported to the Scottish Highlands, and 
wondered whether I had not Fingal and other Ossianic heroes be- 



DECEMBER, 1941 47 

fore me. Then I recalled that there were superior British officers 
being held as prisoners in the castle I had just passed. Sure enough, 
little fellows in greenish gray coats with guns in their hands ran 
along before, behind, and at the sides of these Northern giants. So 
the Normans must have looked who, though a handful, conquered 
Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, establishing an empire that lasted 
long enough to decide West Mediterranean history for centuries. 

December ijth 

IN MECCA there congregate every species, type, and color of hu- 
man being. What unites and identifies them all as of the true faith 
is their genuflections, prostrations, and ejaculations not words 
and prayers and sentences that can easily be learned, whereas the 
first are difficult to acquire after early and unconscious childhood. 

Thus the state of mind of a convert to Catholicism can never 
be the same as that of a born Catholic. The convert will always 
overformulate, overintellectualize, overdogmatize, because as a 
grownup the appeals for his conversion have necessarily been men- 
tal rather than emotional, excepting, of course, in rare cases, of 
which St. Paul is the type. This must be so particularly where Jew- 
ish converts are concerned. They cannot entertain the same instinc- 
tive attitude, have the same automatic reactions, as one who was 
suckled on Christian myths and values with his mother's milk, or 
in his pre-self -conscious years. 

This applies almost as much to naturalization as to conversion, 
now that the only effective religion is nationality. Unless one has 
taken its fetishes, its aspirations, its ambitions, its indignations, its 
hates in the pre-self-conscious years before one could criticize 
them, one will never be as a native. One will either be coldly util- 
itarian or try to identify oneself with the mind and heart of the na- 
tion. As, however, the effort is inevitably deliberate and not in- 
stinctive and spontaneous, it is bound to be more explicit, more 
reasoned, and, by that very fact, more dogmatic, more aggressive, 
than the native's feeling for his own country. 

Sure enough! Among the most rabid Italian nationalists, or 



48 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

wide-sweeping annexationists, among Italian patriots whose patri- 
otism consists more in hating other people than loving one's own, 
are the offspring of English and worse still of American mothers. 
They have invariably been "patridiotic," as I call it, that is to say 
grossly nationalistic for the land of their fathers, as if they felt the 
need of justifying themselves for having had an Anglo-Saxon 
mother, from whom, in pre-self-conscious years, they could not 
imbibe the national folk prejudices of their fathers. 

How about the Jews who are natives of the lands they live in, 
and have been living in long before the ancestors of the greater 
number of its present inhabitants settled there? Yes, physically 
they may be descended from forebears who have been there 
longer than those of their fellow subjects, but spiritually they have 
not, till recently, partaken of the political and religious life of the 
rest of the community. They are therefore, in their native lands, 
like recently naturalized aliens, and the more so as those of them 
that still cling to the synagogue cannot feel in every respect like 
the overwhelming majority brought up as Christians. 

Jews too, then, whether as converts to Catholicism or to nation- 
alism, tend to exaggerate manifestations of their faith-patriotism. 
It is notorious that converted Jews are apt to turn bitterly and rag- 
ingly anti-Semite; and by "converted" I refer this time not to reli- 
gion alone but to standards of living, feeling, and thinking. 

I am not concerned just now with the converts from Judaism to 
Christianity, although even today some of the most passionate and 
effective defenders of Thomism and Neo-Catholicism are born 
Jews. It is in the political field where I am shocked by the super- 
patriotism of German, Italian, and French Jews. 

The fact first identified by Heine, namely, that a Jew to be taken 
for silver must be of gold, militates against his being as much a 
matter-of-course citizen as his other fellow beings in the sam.e 
land. He has to force his qualities to bring them into evidence, to 
court approval. 

The same applies to sons of Anglo-Saxon mothers in foreign 
lands, and, of course, to all members of a permanent minority any- 
where. 



DECEMBER, 1941 49 



December i8th 

NEO-CATHOLTCS in particular, but all apologists for and defend- 
ers of their Church or the foreign policy of their nation, talk up 
to a point rationally and talk my language I mean a language 
we have in common. Suddenly they go off at a tangent and behave 
like the asylum guard who was showing an inspector around a 
madhouse. This guard explained every case quietly and feelingly 
until they came to one patient who made him cry out: "This is the 
craziest individual in the asylum. He believes he is God and will 
not see that it is I who am God!" I do not mean that they believe 
they are God; but their plunge into an irrational, a magic universe 
is as unexpected. 

December 20th 

WAR is a barbarous affair, but it is necessary for so long as we re- 
main the barbarians that we are, violently impatient, unable to 
use our reason, and thus to learn what we are and what our ad- 
versaries are worth, instead of letting wishful thinking flatter us 
into overestimates of our own might. War is necessary because it 
is desirable that after a too burdensome accumulation of hubristic 
self-confidence we should come to a trial of strength. When this is 
done seriously and with unquestionable results, we take the ensu- 
ing situation as something to build on, and for a time we look facts 
in the face and use them for repairing our old or for designing a 
new House of Life. 

Here let me put in a parenthesis and say that the last war the 
one of 1914-1918 failed to bring about a settlement, because 
though way down it was a struggle between France and Germany, 
the French would not have got the better of their enemies but for 
the aid of the English, the Russians and the Americans. The 
French could not fool themselves into believing either that, with- 
out this aid, they would have been victorious or that they would 
get the Germans to agree that they had been beaten by the 



50 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

French alone. France feared her foe, though conquered, more 
than ever before, and her consequent conduct served only to in- 
flame the vindictiveness and conceit of the Germans. Hence the 
present war hence chiefly, if not only. 

The part of me that is a relatively dispassionate student of his- 
tory and politics is as pleased with the Japanese attack on the 
U. S. A. as a chemist may be who is eager to see how two elements 
will behave whose reciprocal reactions are not fully known. 

Americans who, above all others, have been preaching for gen- 
erations contempt for talk and the value of action, have found 
such apt pupils in the so recently petted Japanese that these have 
caught them not napping but talking, and have acted while the 
Americans kept discussing. Comical it is that, knowing that the 
Americans were still in a conversational mood, they sent a special 
negotiator to make them fancy that they, the Japanese, also were 
disposed to go on talking. 

They, the Japs, had meanwhile made the most precise and de- 
tailed preparations, and while appeasing talk was going on in 
Washington, Tokyo bombarded, ignited, exploded, smashed, in- 
vaded from the air, by sea, on land every American as well as ev- 
ery British position within reach. 

The initial advantage of the Japanese is most spectacular and a 
marvelous pick-me-up for their allies as well as for their own pop- 
ulations. Yet is it a frischer, froher Krieg like the Franco-German 
War of 1870, or is it simply Malays running amok? And by the 
way, we must not forget that it is the Malay strain in the Jap that 
makes a fighter of him. 

It is hard to believe hard for me, at least that the Japanese 
will not be stopped. Assume that they will not, and that the Brit- 
ish will be driven out of all their possessions this side of Burma, 
and we Americans compelled to withdraw to the Sandwich Is- 
lands or even to our own mainland. 

Would the Japanese be wise enough to wait and digest the 
Anglo-Saxon as well as Dutch possessions that they had taken? 
Would a conqueror know, for once in history, where and when to 
stop? Would they not attack Burma and threaten India, Australia, 



DECEMBER, 1941 51 

New Zealand? Would they know how to persuade the conquered 
peoples that, under the circumstances, they, the Japanese, were 
the least possible evil? If not, could they afford to occupy these 
wide-flung vast territories, and hold them down with air and na- 
val and land forces? If they turned out to have the skill and the 
strength to maintain themselves, and to reconcile an adequate 
number of the vanquished, they might play in Asia the part 
played by the Normans in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth cen- 
turies. Even if, owing to their being relatively so few, they ended 
by being absorbed by their subjects, they might modify these as 
advantageously as the Saxons were manifested by their more ad- 
venturous kinsmen from across the Channel. 

Could and would the Anglo-Saxon peoples sit down under this 
"New Order"? If they did, then it is well over with their "superior- 
ity," which so puzzled French students of politics not long ago. 

They are expansive peoples. Their family is centrifugal and not, 
like other families, centripetal. There is no cry of Ma m&re and 
mia mamma and whatever the Japanese equivalent,, to keep them 
unweaned and to pull them back to mother's bosom. They leave 
home with the will to stay away. 

Then they are explorers, pioneers, inventors, openers out of new 
territories, and know how to make something out of them, reck- 
lessly, rashly, hastily perhaps but doing endlessly more than any- 
body else has done in the last few hundred years. They are not 
cuckoos waiting for well-built nests to occupy. Thus the Japanese 
have been in possession of Korea for nearly fifty years and of Man- 
churia for nearly twenty. To neither have they come as colonists, 
like the British in America, in Africa, in Australasia, but only like 
the same British in India, with the significant difference, however, 
that in India the British have invested not only brains but capital, 
have not merely exploited but benefited in a thousand ways. 

It may be doubted that the English-speaking people would sit 
down to being excluded from the Far East, even if the Japs pro- 
ceeded no further in Asia and Oceania. A Japanese victory now 
could scarcely be more than an armistice to last only till their ad- 
versaries got ready to attack them. Fear of attack would keep the 



52 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Japs in a state of continuous tension, unable to turn their minds to 
productive matters. The determination to oust them would tend 
to militarize the Anglo-Saxons. I am not sure that a militarized 
United States, with all its contiguous material resources and 
power, would behave as England has done. It might turn into a 
conquering, annexing, world-domineering empire, and might be- 
have no better than its predecessors in the past. Europe might live 
to regret the invisible, inaudible hegemony of the sea-minded Eng- 
lish, with their readiness to live and let live, and to share with 
whoever was disposed to work with them. 

There remains another possible result of a Japanese victory or, 
even, defeat. It is that the Chinese fighting desperately against the 
Japs, if the struggle lasts long enough, may learn not only to be 
good soldiers but accurate and punctual organizers as well as loyal 
administrators, and find themselves in a position to start on a ca- 
reer of military adventure whether against the Japanese or to be- 
gin with under them. If they did, who could withstand them? 
From Han to Yuan the Chinese drives westward not only took 
them far towards the Caspian but initiated movements which, like 
tidal waves, reached Europe and threatened to overwhelm it. 

These considerations are not practical politics, I know; yet 
much that is murderous and destructive could be avoided if they 
were not altogether absent from the minds of practical politicians. 

December z^d 

I SPOKE two or three days ago of the Japanese having been the 
pets of the American public. Their popularity was founded first 
on the fact that they were rediscovered, so to speak, by our Com- 
modore Perry. Then came Mitford's Tales of Old Japan and the 
avalanche of netsukes, swordguards, lacquers, ceramics, silks, 
screens, colored prints, kakemonos, makemonos, and other objets 
d'art. They told us of an idyllic people, living exquisitely artistic 
lives, brave, no doubt, and ready to defend themselves, with a del- 
icate sense of honor, but far from aggressive. Followed Lafcadio 
Hearn, with volume after volume of momentarily captivating 



DECEMBER, 1941 53 

prose-poetry about the Japanese soul, the Japanese heart, the 
Japanese mind. Even when they attacked the Russians without 
warning we were delighted and fancied that these Japs defended 
our own ideals. 

Now that they have attacked us in the same way, the legendary 
Japan of Hearn has faded and we ask ourselves how we could 
have been so silly as to be taken in. 

Before going further I want to say that Hearn lived to write Jfl- 
pan, an Appreciation, which gave a very different picture, a far 
less attractive, a more stern, an even forbidding picture of this 
people. Few read this valuable book. His revulsion of feeling was 
bound to come, seeing he was no fool, nor hireling propagandist. 
It was perhaps expedited by what happened to him directly he 
had become a Japanese subject, a step to which his enthusiastic 
sympathy led him. He was at the time professor of English at To- 
kyo. The minister of public instruction came to thank him, the 
American, the famous author, the glorifier of Japan, for having 
done that country the great honor of becoming its subject. As he 
was leaving he observed casually and with a twirl of his fan: "You 
are, of course, aware, Professor Hearn, that as a Japanese subject 
you now will receive but half the salary you enjoyed as a for- 
eigner." 

How is it that we were taken in by the Japanese and did not 
realize that "they" in so far as one can apply that pronoun to an 
entire people that they had much more in common with the Ma- 
lay running amok, or the Siberian tiger preparing to spring, than 
with folk whom we assume to be charming because they are so 
daintily, delicately artistic! 

I am reminded of a visit we had many years ago, during the 
height of enthusiasm for Japan. It was of a highborn lady of that 
land who was at the head of a school for girls of the noblest 
houses. We talked of education and she complained of her diffi- 
culties. We thought they were financial or perhaps administrative. 
Not at all. She went on to say that we could not imagine what 
cruel, ferocious, untamable savages these young things were, and 
how hard it was to lick them into shape. It required an iron disci- 



54 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

pline, and nothing less could keep law and order among a people 
like hers with instincts still so wild, so unruly, so bloodthirsty. 

The error results from our almost ineradicable belief that the 
art of a people is the transcript of its workaday actuality, whether 
in family or public life. 

That is seldom the case, and when it is it tends to be a caricature 
nearer, no doubt, to what is called reality but yet not reality. "Re- 
alistic" art seldom escapes caricature and is no more representa- 
tive than classical, idealistic, idyllic art. Justly we discard the de- 
liberate malformations and monstrosities, often pornographic, 
that Japanese no less than Greek art abounds in. We regard such 
things as grossly exceptional and do not let them touch our illusion 
about the art in general. 

Art is not based on actuality but on the wishes, dreams, and as- 
pirations of a people. Even the art of today has no other source. In 
the same way that we have had enough of reason, of free order, 
of elastic as well as plastic government because we get bored with 
our civilization despite its advantages and amenities, so we get 
satiated with all, and more than all, we can take in of what has 
hitherto meant art, and crave instead for the confused, the enig- 
matical, the ugly, the absurd, the puzzling. 

No doubt whatever that the Japanese, like the Greeks, like the 
Chinese, like Europeans ever since the twelfth century, have rep- 
resented in their art what they hoped life would someday yield, 
but not what it gave them already. Greek actuality was, except for 
a small number, much less livable, not to speak of its being so 
much less secure, than it is now. Hence the longing for a mode of 
existence, an order, a clarity, a distinction, a charm, a loveliness 
that actuality seldom if ever could realize and art alone could of- 
fer for contemplation at least. 

December 24th 

JAPANESE LIFE in even its highest moments could not have been 
exactly as pictured in Murasakfs Tale of Genji. Life there was 
lived "above the clouds," was given over to passing the days, and 



DECEMBER, 194! 55 

nights, and hours in various artistic occupations, and In delicate 
refined human relations, as well as in sweet love-making with its 
bitter lees. The men of the Olympus were the emperor and his 
court. They governed, they administrated, they commanded, they 
must have had no end of tasks, of scarcely soluble problems, of 
boring duties. Scarcely a word of all this. It offers no more com- 
plete, no more faithful picture of life as lived in Japan toward the 
year 1000 than Dante's Vita Nuova does of Florentine life toward 
1300. 

There is perhaps no more elaborately refined verse than Turk- 
ish. Yet the cruelty and perversity of the Turks had no limits. Nero 
died exclaiming, "What an artist perishes with me!" Caligula was 
a happy "interior decorator" and perhaps a good one. 



1942 



January ist 

I BEGIN the New Year of 1942 as a civilian prisoner, in this Italy 
where I have resided for fifty-four years, in this Florence where I 
have lived, first, at 24 Lungarno Acciaiuoli, then at Villa Kraus, 
Fiesole, then at Camerata, and since 1900 in this house of our own, 
I Tatti. Of all the improbabilities that could have been suggested 
when I first trod its earth in September, 1888, none would have 
seemed more fantastic than that in my lifetime Italy would be at 
war with the United States. Nor would it have sounded less ab- 
surd during the "Great War/' or the years following, when Amer- 
ica was the idolized model of the Italian public. 

Yet here we are and here I am. We have not blundered into re- 
maining here. We have done so after due consideration and de- 
spite orders from Washington, prayers of friends at home, and the 
warnings, the urgent advice of people devoted to us here. 

Many of the reasons for staying I will not go into, as they are of 
more or less material nature; the chief est being that, given Mary's 
physical condition, the journey home, under recent circumstances, 
would have been difficult, and more difficult still taking up life 
over there at our age. 

The spiritual reasons are more interesting. They are three: 

In the first place, I felt so identified with the people, I mean the 
so deeply humanized majority of Italians, that I could not face 

59 



6O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

deserting them in a moment like this, little as anybody would have 
felt that I was deserting them, and much as many would have 
been pleased at having got rid of such a nuisance as these re- 
garded me. 

Then came the consideration, deepest down in me, that if I re- 
turned home or went even to Switzerland, it would be hard, if not 
impossible, to avoid serving in some capacity against this Italy 
which I love so much, against this people who will have to pay 
the piper no matter who called the tune. 

This last, I now feel, was the determining factor in the decision 
to stay on and risk it. 

The third consideration is one of curiosity. I want to round off 
my acquaintance with the Italian people as a whole, by seeing 
how we shall be treated. I have cherished the hope, amounting al- 
most to a conviction, that given the conventions of war, we shall 
be treated as humanely as possible. 

I should be disappointed if we were not, and delighted if we 
were both disappointment and delight being of an even more 
aesthetical than practical nature. Despite all blemishes inherent in 
human nature, my idea of the Italian people is a picture that I 
have been painting, as it were, for more than half a century; and 
I am eager to see how it will be perfected, en beautS or otherwise. 

Friends in Rome are alarmed, fear that the government, though 
having the best intentions, may be compelled by "public opinion" 
to take measures against me. These friends urge me to lie low and 
let people forget me. To see nobody, so that talk about me will die 
down. 

Will it? Most of it is pure invention, and what is to prevent its 
continuing? Thus the other day a Florentine gentleman asked 
Maestro GUI whether he had not heard that the British war pris- 
oners confined above me in the castle of Vincigliata were fre- 
quently having tea with me at I Tatti. 

Measures against me might mean being ordered to leave my 
paradise of a house, and to be exiled to some village where one 
would perish of cold. 

Whence this bitter hostility against me on the part of persons 



JANUARY, 1942 6l 

I do not so much as know by sight, except one or possibly two? 
The leading and most active of these enemies is the already men- 
tioned Florentine. I have never exchanged ten consecutive words 
with him, and I do not remember meeting him even casually more 
than twice or possibly thrice. Why this war against me? I cannot 
recall ever getting in his way, or having anything to do with him 
except once in an official manner. It was like this. While he was 
in office as Podesta, commissioner as we should say (not mayor) 
of Florence, the town wanted to widen the street running through 
Ponte a Mensola. This could be done only with my land. I was 
asked to sell what they needed, I refused to sell, but I let them 
have it as a gift. He is a patriot ( which of course means an impe- 
rialist and annexationist ) , he is devoted to the Fascist regime and a 
stout believer in the "Protocol of the Elders of Israel." Does he 
take me for one? But there is a heat and persistence in the hostile 
group which he leads that smells of personal hatred stoking the 
fire of political differences. 

I can guess what this hatred is based on, but it would take the 
gifts and style of a Saint-Simon and his remote successor Proust to 
go into it in a convincing way. The central fact seems to be that 
he and his clan cannot bear that any of their society, let alone 
their own sort, should frequent us. Their chief charge against me 
is that I am debauching the snow-white lambs of his fold and that 
instead of being inculcated with the teachings of Hitler and Ro- 
senberg they may imbibe the "Judeo-demo-plutocratic" milk of 
humaneness. 

"He is crazy on the subject of anti-Semitism but so sincere/ 7 say 
his friends, as if being "sincere" justified his conduct. In that case 
any cannibal conduct is justified. 

I cannot follow the convention that "sincerity" is an excuse and 
even justification. 

To begin with, what does the average man or woman mean by 
the word "sincerity" and the word "sincere"? They mean, proba- 
bly, that it implies saying what one thinks and believes. Why 
should that be approved or even admired! 

Few have the right to claim "sincerity" as I would define it. It 



62 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

should mean that when a proposition is presented to a person with 
a mind trained in critical investigation, he should do his utmost to 
examine it in order to reach an unprejudiced, logical conclusion. 
How many, in a given number of individuals, have the right to 
claim the capacity for "sincerity" as just defined? As it is, a pre- 
mium is set for those who are too stupid, too ignorant to know or 
to understand what is involved. The less competent they are to 
have an opinion, the more likely they are to hold it "sincerely." 

It is these "sincere" folk who constitute one of the great dangers 
to a progressively human society. Evil is a species of microbe that 
can be carried only by the tolerably healthy, in this case tolerably 
decent, respectable, well-placed people. Left to their own devices, 
evildoers soon come to the end of their tether. As out-and-out 
criminals I mean vulgar gangsters, bank robbers, embezzlers, 
speculators, bribable officials they have a short run. Even in our 
commonwealths, so far from perfect, they do relatively little harm. 
Serious evil attitudinizes, as Good, before the "sincere," who can- 
not pierce the thin imposture, and are so taken in by it that they 
are ready to defend it till it comes down on them like the hammer 
on the head of the ox in the slaughterhouse. 

No, give me rather the "insincere" people who know to the bot- 
tom what they are about. We can approach them as a matter of 
business, drive a bargain with them, and make it worth their while 
to serve us with their talents and their experience. 

January ^d 

MY "ENEMIES" seem to insist that, if I am suffered to remain in 
my own house and home, it must be as an "untouchable," as a ta- 
booed person not to be approached. They cannot fear the con- 
tagion of my other-mindedness, for one of the many accusations 
brought against me is that I see only people of my "subversive" 
way of thinking. They must therefore be hoping to inflict punish- 
ment by depriving me of company, 

How often have my "enemies," here, there, and everywhere, 
plotted to do this or that and done it successfully enough from 



JANUARY, 1942 63 

their point of view, only to deprive me as a rule of something that 
no doubt would have distressed them hut not me. This time I am 
isolated. Nobody comes near me. The fact is that for a while, at 
any rate, I do not know for how long, I am glad to be left alone. 
Even recently I have been seeing too many people for either 
pleasure or health. 

One goes on seeing people, all but a few of whom one can dis- 
pense with. They afford so little stimulus, or life-enhancement of 
any kind. They come for an outing, for a better meal than they 
may get usually, and with the hope of picking up something to 
repeat, or to boast of. I do not grumble and am tolerably cordial, 
enough to mask my indifference. They have wearied me and I am 
glad to be without them. In ordinary circumstances it is so hard 
to find a polite way of getting rid of bores. Even outboring them 
won't do, as they come for the prestige of being received. 

How conventional one can go on being about company! It is not 
unlike making oneself believe that one is glad to hear from So- 
and-so. Deep down very few letters that I receive touch me or 
even interest me. And yet I go on believing that I miss them, and 
get alarmed when they are delayed too long. In the case of real 
intimates that is true, but the glimpse of their writing on an en- 
velope suffices. I know they are alive and learn where they were 
on a given date. The content matters little except in the rarest 
cases. 

In Herodotus I read this morning a passage that bears on my 
situation (VII, 10, translated by A. D. Godley in*Loeb Classics). 
Artabanus says to his nephew Xerxes; "Calumny is a very gross 
business, there are two in it that do, and one that suffers wrong. 
He that utters the calumny wrongs another, accusing an absent 
man, and the other does a wrong likewise in that he is overper- 
suaded before he has learnt the whole truth; and he that is absent, 
and hears not what is said of him, suffers wrong in the matter be- 
ing maligned by the one, and condemned by the other." 

It has occurred to me again and again on returning to London 
or Paris or New York after an absence of perhaps three, four, or 
five years, to hear for the first time of accusations brought against 



64 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

me that meanwhile had had ample time to spread, seeing there 
was no reason why they should not be believed. Nobody is more 
exposed than one whose name is known to people who can attach 
nothing to it, having no acquaintance with the man bearing the 
name, or with any friends of his. It is in human nature to want to 
hear something besides the name; and something of a disparaging 
nature is more savory and therefore more likely to be remembered 
than anything favorable. 

Even here in Florence where I reside, I am absent as far as all 
but a few are concerned. I hardly ever go out, not even to my best 
friends'. Having lived here for a half century, at least, and having 
for the last forty years enjoyed a certain position, I am known by 
name to many. Naturally, they are glad to pick up anything about 
me. What they pick up is not likely to be good or true. Against a 
person who will not solicit the much-sought-for privileges of a 
society, there is a certain resentment that makes its members in- 
clined to believe anything against him. Then there are one's resi- 
dent countrymen (and countrywomen) who dislike one for keep- 
ing aloof, and resent not being invited and welcomed. 

# * ** 

My hairdresser this morning told me that when he was a little 
boy he lived at La Lastra on the Via Bolognese. Every day Prince 
DemidofE drove from his villa into Florence and, as he passed in 
his coach and four through the hamlets on the roadside, would 
throw out shining copper coins to the children. The elder brother 
was working where the Prince's agent every day brought a bag of 
coppers to be cleaned with acids, and furbished up to look as if 
fresh from the mint. By the way, my barber went to work himself 
when he was eight years old, walking into town early and return- 
ing late, a chunk of bread for his midday meal, and a copper for 
onions and figs. "Ah, but how happy we were then, wanting so lit- 
tle and getting it." 

ft 4 # 

Read in Ruskin's letters to Norton, the end of December, 1858, 
about his conversion to life, away from evangelicalism. He had been 
to a dreary gray Waldensian conventicle at Turin and then went 



JANUARY, 1942 65 

to the picture gallery and fell in love with a Paolo Veronese, He 
fell in love with it, began to question whether the connection be- 
tween art and puritan Christianity was as close as he used to be- 
lieve, and regretted his previous publications. 

He wrote December 28th: "I want to macadamize some new 
roads to heaven with broken fools' heads." 



January gth 

"THERE ARE TALENTS made for scientific, formulated truth, 
reached methodically by analysis and synthesis. There are others 
for whom this truth is too abstract, too bald, besides being un- 
swerving as well as devitalized talents in short whom truth can 
reach only when it is presented through life. Emotionally, Amiei 
belonged to the second; by his mental schooling and habits, to the 
first category. His wavering personal feelings, mounting from the 
fathomless depths of his nature, were too strong to allow him to 
attain the 'objectivity' of the philosophical thinker or the scientific 
investigator. Yet he longed for the objectivity to be able to ex- 
change the irrational that was his private affair for the rational 
entertained universally. But this again did not satisfy him: the 
universal is the nought; the sentient subject only is alive. 

"Against this contradiction, both his creative powers and his in- 
tellect broke down. In an age when criticism and creation were 
unusually opposed, because critical scientific reasoning, which 
should only accompany, check, and collect, claimed to govern cre- 
ation; in such an age one has to be overwhelmingly one-sided to 
remain in the realm of genuine creativeness. Amiel, however, was 
nothing if not many-sided, centripetal, protean. He hovered, his 
life long, between the two contrasted activities, between science 
and art, between analysis and presentation." ( Heinrich Homber- 
ger, Selbstgesprache, pp. 134-135, written in 1866. ) 

Excellent as the above is as a description of Amiel's mental con- 
stitution, it fails to realize that he nevertheless was creative. He 
succeeded in analyzing and recording a character and situation 
alike, on terms so accessible to less gifted individuals of his own 



66 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

kind that it helps them to understand their own souls as they 
never would have otherwise, That surely is one of the principal 
functions of literature as an art. 

I am as split-up a nature as Amiel. I am perhaps as cultured, 
perhaps even as intellectual, but I have nothing of his art. Where- 
fore I have scarcely attempted and certainly have not succeeded 
in writing about myself in a way that could manifest to even the 
most kindred spirits visions of themselves that lay hidden too well 
to be perceived more than dimly, if at all. 

January 6th 

FINISHED Waverley, which I had never read before. I enjoyed it 
because I unconsciously swing over from an aesthetic to a schol- 
arly interest. The first half, and much of the rest, is ethnology, 
manners, customs, history in the raw and not art at all. The rest 
is delightful enough as narrative but not as character. The pedan- 
tic laird is too much of a caricature, the hero, as heroes usually do, 
remains shadowy. Rose does not exist; Flora is too much of a 
piece. The figures that stand out are the Chevalier as a charming 
sketch, and Fergus, although the latter is good only in parts, 
which somehow do not make a whole. 

How account for the sudden and great popularity of Waverley? 
I am too uninformed as to what preceded it. Was it the newness 
of the subject matter for which perhaps Ossian had prepared the 
public? Was it a reaction against the novel of mystery and horror 
on the one hand, and on the other against the novel of common- 
place ordinary society? 

In the hero of Waverley in Edward, I mean there is more 
than a little that is autobiographical not infrequent in a first 
novel. 

January Qth 

READ IN LAST NUMBER of Forschungen und Fortschritte two 
articles, A very long one on origin of Shakespeare's name, rebut- 



JANUARY, 1942 67 

ting various attempts made by English scholars to trace it back to 
the Norman conquerors. Strange how snobbish scholars and men 
of letters can be, and how seldom they miss a chance of oozing, 
and spraying, if not loudly expressing, contempt for themselves as 
a class, attributing merit to their own members when it can be 
proved to their, the scholars', satisfaction that they, the great 
among themselves, Shakespeare in this case, were of gentle birth! 

The other article was about another ice age being due in about 
five thousand years. Will science in the interval find ways of ob- 
viating its consequences? Even now Finland and northernmost 
Scandinavia manage to carry on a highly civilized existence. The 
greater part of Central, let alone Western, Europe may not be 
worse off under an ice age than those regions are now. Progress in 
heating and lighting may have rendered possible all sorts of com- 
forting alleviations, may have got so far as to prevent the glacier's 
advancing to cake with ice the neighboring land. Tutto pud darsi! 

So this prediction, although of so cosmic a nature, has not up- 
set me. 

Twice have I been upset, in the sense that my universe tottered. 
Once in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when walking down Brattle 
Street to dine with Miss Grace, the noble and highly cultured sis- 
ter of Professor C. E. Norton, a friend convinced me that they had 
succeeded in disintegrating the atom. I felt dizzy with nothing to 
cling to for support, now that my ultimate, as I then and there re- 
alized, the atom, had been shattered. The other time was when 
the Austrian and German imperial houses collapsed, dragging all 
princes, potentates, and powers down with them. The fall of Tsar- 
dom did not affect me as a cosmic catastrophe, for as a grownup I 
never had much faith in its stability. But Austria and still more 
Germany! 

The fact is that, as a youth and young man, I was so convinced 
of the stability of the universe I was bred into, and accepted as a 
matter of course, that no dissatisfaction of mine, no crying need of 
change, no projected reforms, could remotely touch it. I suspect 
most young people are still in the same state of mind, and their 



68 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

slings and arrows are hurled so joyously at society because they do 
not dream of shaking it. 

a # a 

Much talk of disarmament after this war. No artillery, no sub- 
marines, no aircraft to be allowed the vanquished. Very good and 
relatively easy to achieve; but how useless if hearts and minds are 
not disarmed! The best beginning for that kind of disarmament 
would be: to allow no schoolbooks concerned with the teaching 
of any kind of history, not only political but cultural history as 
well, that had not been approved by the disarming powers. Later, 
whatever international body will be set up to control our destinies 
should see to it that history is taught nowhere the way it has been 
taught in recent decades, everywhere, with the exception of Eng- 
land. There a serious effort was made in the last thirty years to 
inculcate it decently, 

* * 

Soon after the Russians occupied Galicia in the autumn of 1939, 
Dorothy Palffy reported that their equipment both in arms and in 
clothes was of the poorest. For instance, officers even had no 
waistcoats and some no underclothes under their tunics, many 
nothing under their overcoats. They seemed amazed at the uni- 
forms and accouterments of their German colleagues, and even of 
the Polish prisoners they made. Their curiosity was as boundless 
as it was indiscreet. 

All this left the impression on Polish gentry and German officers 
that the Russian army was in a state of utter unreadiness to en- 
counter another army. The Finnish war seemed to confirm this 
conclusion, for, during the greater part of that campaign, the Rus- 
sians cut such a poor figure that when, finally, they got the better 
of the Finns, most of us believed it was due to the help in arms, 
and even in officers, that the Germans gave them. 

Is it possible that the Russians deliberately misled the Germans 
into the belief that they would not be able to resist an aggression? 



JANUARY, 1942 69 



January nth 

JUST A MONTH AGO war was declared between the country and 
people I most love on earth and the people to whom I owe whole- 
souled allegiance. 

Reading Herodotus now with no philological, I mean grammati- 
cal, cares of any kind, reading him as so much literature and his- 
tory, I am amazed to find him not only so fascinating but so con- 
temporary in the workings of his mind. How much of him, with 
change of name regarding persons and places, could be recent his- 
tory. Take, for instance, the expedition of the first Cyrus into 
Scythia, and then of Xerxes into Greece. How much the first re- 
sembles Napoleon in Russia as described by Segur, Caulaincourt, 
Tarle, and others! 

What films, and what ballets, could be extracted from the mar- 
shaling and reviewing and marching of his forces by Xerxes, each 
nation with its own dress, its own accouterments, its own arms. 
And the ships with the Sidonians at the head, the swiftest with 
ablest captains. All commanded by brothers, cousins, and other re- 
lations of the king's. In fact, the Persian Empire seems to have 
been run as a family affair and, as in all closely knit families, a 
great deal by women. Of Atossa, the wife of Darius, the heroine of 
Aeschylus' Persae, Herodotus says that so great were her author- 
ity and influence that they would have sufficed to secure her favor- 
ite son Xerxes the throne, even if he had no right to it. We know 
from Xenophon how Parysatis plotted to make her favorite, the 
younger Cyrus, king. Herodotus recounts without comment that 
"when Xerxes's wife Ainastris attained to old age, she buried four- 
teen sons of notable Persians as a thank-offering, on her own be- 
half, to the fabled gods of the nether world." All Herodotus says 
by way of comment is, "to bury alive is a Persian custom." 

Where did this custom originate? The earliest instances are 
Mesopotamian, going back to the fourth millennium B.C. Did it 
spread thence all over the world as things will, given time, or did 



7O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

it spring spontaneously from the human mind at a certain stage of 
development? 

All that I read in Herodotus about Persia makes the Bible story 
of Esther so plausible that its author must have had access to the 
same sources that the Greek drew from, or indeed was a reader of 
his history. The influence of women must have increased rather 
than diminished, if we may judge by their role in the late Sassa- 
nian romance of Vis and Ramin. 

The writer of the story of Esther must have been a Hellenized 
Jew. It is one of the best-constructed stories in literature, and un- 
like what we know of prior Hebrew narrative, so syncopated, so 
ejaculatory, so disjointed. The same is true of the exquisite idyl of 
Ruth and the tale of Tobit, probably as late and as Hellenized. 

January igth 

A. C,, MY FRIEND and lawyer, came yesterday to ask what I 
wanted him to do in dealing with a publisher who intends to un- 
dertake a translation into Italian first, and then into French, of my 
Florentine Drawings. 

Afterwards he began to say it was all over with Europe; that if 
the Allies won, England would less than ever count as a European 
power; that she would drift away toward America, toward her 
dominions, and leave the Continent to its own more and more 
negligible devices. 

That England is not a European power, that England not only 
fails to understand Europe but succeeds too well in misunder- 
standing it, its material no less than its spiritual interests, appe- 
tites, and aspirations, and therefore can never be other than mis- 
chievous, is a thesis not new to me. It was made in Germany not 
for this occasion, yet lately, in fact since the introduction of the 
Nazi New Order; and the cyclonic, typhonic winds of propaganda 
that like a new Aeolus it sends out have taken hold of many minds 
in the Latin world. 

Far from being no part of Europe and opposed to its interests, 
England in the last century led it to the effective conquest of the 



JANUARY, 1942 71 

earth, taking the lion's share, if you will, as befits the pioneer, the 
discoverer, the inventor, but letting every other people that could 
follow have what advantage it could take. This was particularly 
true of Germany and, so far as I can remember, remained true 
until the Germans kicked England into awareness of their own 
hostile intentions. 

The fabulous inflation of the nineteenth century, due to the ex- 
ploitation of the entire earth carried on by Europe with England 
at its head, could not go on forever. Europe in the future can no 
more hold the center of the stage in world affairs than Italy in 
European ones. 

It is not here that I would, if I could, put down the reasons for 
this impossibility. They are too many and chiefly in the nature of 
things. Thus, it would seem that no colony is truly successful until 
it begins to clamor for autonomy, if not complete independence. 
England's policy or, if you like, something less deliberate, more 
like a drift, almost a tropism, makes in the long run, not too long a 
run, for the training of her colonies and conquests in self-govern- 
ment, in self-help, and in building up their home industries. 

Non-European people, the Japanese most conspicuously, have 
learned the mechanics of the Anglo-Saxons so well that they could 
attempt to undersell them and the other Europeans, in their 
homes and elsewhere. 

The hegemony enjoyed by geographical Europe is going or 
gone, and would go even if the wars of the last forty years had not 
given such golden opportunities to the Japanese to build up their 
power, both industrial and military. The nation to feel it most will 
necessarily be the one that has most to lose, the English. In the 
present historical horizon, they cannot retain the advantages they 
had for a century and a half before 1914, any more than Italy- 
could retain, in recent times, the position she had in later an- 
tiquity as the center and exploiter of the Europe of those cen- 
turies. If England's adversaries on the Continent rejoice in her im- 
pending decline, they must be filled with hatred and blinding 
rage, for England's decline means their fall. 

So much for geographical Europe, and geographical England, 



72 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

There is, however, another Europe and another England. I shall 
go on thinking and speaking of them as Europe in short. This 
Europe is not identified with the proboscis of Asia known by that 
name since Herodotus at least, but is the name I would give to all 
countries where Europeans live in compact, coherent, self-govern- 
ing masses; where they carry on materially and spiritually as na- 
tions of Europe would under similar geographical, climatic, and 
economic conditions. Just as down to our sixth century Greek, 
Southern Italy, Sicily, and even Marseilles, even Emporia and 
remoter settlements both to west and to east, were Hellas; so, for 
me, America north and south, whether English-, Spanish-, or Por- 
tuguese-speaking, has for a long time counted as European. That 
even the U. S. A. was not aware of this and would not hear of it, 
if told, made no difference to me. Since 1917 at latest, the U. S. A. 
has been as much a European power as England. Only too much 
like England, in being slow to recognize the solidarity of her po- 
litical interests with those of geographical Europe. 

In this greater Europe which now comprises the whole western 
Continent, Australia, New Zealand, much of South Africa, coastal 
Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt to a certain extent, and to a like 
extent Italian and French North Africa in this Europe, for many 
a year to come, the English-speaking, English-thinking, English- 
feeling people will count for at least as much as they have in the 
last two centuries. This result would scarcely be affected by an 
issue of the present war unfavorable to the Motherland. 

The Latin, the Central European, and others who would rejoice 
at the downfall of geographical England would not rejoice for. 
long. They would soon discover that its place had been taken by 
an England over the seas which, given present and future com- 
munications, would not be in a strategical sense farther away, and 
politically far less disposed to mildness, to living and letting live, 
and to fair play. 

I may have already referred, since I began this journal, to the 
unfortunate fact that few intellectuals or even professionals on the 
Continent speak English, and that not many read it, while still 
fewer English-speaking people can converse in a Continental Ian- 



JANUARY, 1942 73 

guage. The result is that living contact between English-speakers, 
whether British or American, is kept up by diplomats, whose ob- 
ject is not to understand but to negotiate and cultivate the society 
of frivolous, smart creatures whose sole thought is of amusement 
amusement not only as an end but as a means. Of these, the dis- 
gruntled on both sides, suffering from offended vanity or material 
disappointment, do much more to envenom than those of good 
will do to understand each other. It remains a distressing fact that 
among the people who count in France and in Italy more read and 
even speak German than English. The one Continental country 
where acquaintance with Anglo-Saxon language and institutions 
was most widely spread is Germany. Unfortunately, the propa- 
ganda carried on, more and more intensely, against England in the 
last fifty years has succeeded in nullifying its benefits and bringing 
about the present situation. 

January 2$d 

HAVE FINISHED Johannes Volkelt's Aesthetik des Tragischen. 
The preface to the first edition is dated October, 1896. Whether his 
System der Aesthetik appeared earlier I do not know, but suspect 
it did. I was unaware of him and his work until a couple of months 
ago, when I found a reference somewhere to this book on tragedy. 
In October, 1896, 1 was completing or had already completed my 
Central Italian Painters, in which, along with the previous essay 
on the Florentine Painters, I stated my theory of art-enjoyment as 
fully as I ever have. Had I read Volkelt's Aesthetik, assuming, as 
I do, that it had already been published, I should have had to ac- 
knowledge that he had anticipated me. His approach, judging by 
this one book, seems psychological and empirical, based on the 
concrete and specific, and not merely spun out of his inner con- 
sciousness, I wonder whether he has anticipated me as well about 
"tactile values"! 

Should I have read him when I was in my late twenties? Per- 
haps not. I did not read Lipps, of whose writings I heard. I went 
so far as to buy one or more of the earliest but did not read beyond 



74 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

a few pages, I disliked his vocabulary and his way of developing 
his theory of Einfuhlung or "telling the clock by algebra," as if 
putting oneself in the place of the art object needed elaborate 
demonstration. I might have avoided Volkelt out of fear that he 
would rob me of my job, making me feel there was nothing left 
for me to say. 

Now I have read him out of pure curiosity to see what can be 
said on the subject of tragedy. He cannot influence me any more. 
My mind is like the omnibus with the sign "full up" hung out. No 
more passengers can enter. So why do I read? 

I read in the first place to feed a ravenous curiosity, a curiosity 
perhaps not unlike the thirst of Miinchhausen's horse, insatiable 
because its rear half had been shot away, and there was nothing to 
retain what poured through the mouth. Then I read for sheer en- 
tertainment: verse, prose, narrative of all kinds, whether fiction 
pure, or the story which facts cannot disprove that we call history, 
besides travel, memoirs, correspondence, etc., etc. Finally I read 
books that, as I peruse them, stimulate my own thinking, inter- 
rupted by much woolgathering, musing, and sheer idling. 

Volkelt comes among the last-named. Although I enjoyed my- 
self over him, I should be put to it to say what it was all about, 
excepting in the most general way and far from what a precis 
should be. 

The same holds true of almost every book that deals with ab- 
stract thought or criticism. I cannot read much of that sort. The 
little I do seldom holds my attention. When it does and interests 
me, as Volkelt certainly has, it leaves, after a little, no more than 
the vague recollection that I enjoyed it. Thus I could not for the 
life of me say what were the contents of Gundolf s colossal work 
on Shakespeare, though I read it from cover to cover. I enjoyed 
dreaming over it in connection with Shakespeare and the drama. 

I am led on to say that old people, like myself, feel less and less 
tempted to publish as their age increases. It is not due to declining 
faculties, diminished capacity for concentration, or senile daw- 
dling so much as to the paralyzing conviction that others have 



JANUARY, 1942 75 

said what one might still say, and if not, that younger people will 
do it soon and do it better. Better if for no other reason than that 
they will do it with no questionings about its being worth while, 
about their being able to do it better than anybody else, about 
their claims to the world's attention. 



January ^oth 

ALL DAY YESTERDAY it snowed. Little by little the featherlike 
flakes blanketed the landscape with soft down, that wrapped the 
tree branches and their twigs as if with a woman's hand. It was 
just not full moon when I looked out at midnight. The snow had 
stopped falling, the sky was crystal clear and of gemlike purity. 
The stars sparkled and one of them, beaming opaline, amethystine 
almost, I should have liked to hail. The moonlight fell upon the 
persimmon trees and changed their branches into white coral, the 
rounded tops of the cut laurels cast deep oval shadows. 

What an interpretation, or better still translation, is afforded by 
this disappearance from the landscape of every color but black 
and white! The same and yet how unexpected, how much in 
shapes and ribbings is revealed, and how it effaces the ever-pres- 
ent feeling of being in Italy! I speak as an American who, though 
he has spent more than fifty years here, recalls New England win- 
ters, walking to school through tunnels cut in the snow, sledging 
and sleighing, and taking snow seriously as a material to be mas- 
tered for use and for pleasure; not as Italians, for whom it is a 
mere nuisance soon out of the way. 

This snowfall is a windfall, for there has been little rain for close 
on to a year. Returning in early October, I found the lawns here 
looking like powdered tobacco. Since then, there were just enough 
showers to encourage the planting of wheat. The cold came on 
more biting than usual and threatened to destroy the hoped-for 
crops. The lack of water power has led to alarming restrictions in 
the use of electricity. From this desperate situation, the snowfall 
will save us. Considering how the countryside has been deforested 



76 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and increasingly so in the last two years with pitiless tree-cutting 
for fuel, rain would have run off the hillsides, doing little good. 
The snow will seep in and irrigate. 

To the small credit side of war should be placed "summertime" 
through the winter. It means that when at 8 A.M. I look out 
of the window, it being seven by solar time, the sun is still out of 
sight. It has barely begun to dawn. Then the sky begins to flush 
faintly in the east, in the way I used to love to see it pictured when 
I was a small boy. Most mornings, before sunrise, there is a still, 
restful blue-grayness over the landscape that is solemn and sooth- 
ing. 

Later. Walked or rather tramped in the Laghetto wood, my feet 
sinking into the virgin snow still soft on the paths. Many of these 
were turned into arbors by overladen branches of the younger 
trees, so weighed down by their burden that when I shook it off, 
they could not spring back at once, A pine tree was broken at the 
stem and lay sprawling on the ice of the pool. The sky was clear, 
the dome of the cathedral shone with snow decking its ribs. The 
shadows cast were blue, and lavender, and purple. A cypress pro- 
duced a cone of shadow as defined, and constant, as if it were a 
rug of blue velvet spread out over the snow. 

February ist 

JUST RETURNED from a morning stroll in the garden. It snowed 
the livelong day yesterday, in soft, fluffy flakes. In the night it 
froze. So walking was not easy. There was a light crust which 
crackled crisply as my rubber boots sank ankle-deep into the 
snow, which snow lay virgin, white, unsullied. Not a human being 
in sight, not a sound except the soft thud of a falling flake or the 
piping of the returning thrush. The distant hills pale blue. 

Last night I looked out about eleven. The moon, already a day 
past its full, had risen an hour or more previously. It was strong 
enough to light up the entire sky in a way that made it look as if 
it were a mother-of-pearl shell. Yet the same moon was low 
enough to strike the cypresses and stone pines sideways, so that 



FEBRUARY, 1942 77 

these threw long shadows over the inner garden and the snow- 
covered roof of the orangery. Not a light visible, not a sound, but 
far from estranging as "real" nature would be (the high moun- 
tains, for instance), it was cozy, friendly, silent, because everybody 
had gone to rest, leaving the world to moonlight and to me. 

Two days ago, walking up the road, w r e met a squad of soldiers, 
some very good-looking. A few minutes later a slim officer came 
striding down, half singing, half whistling the chorus to "John 
Brown's Body." I could not help stopping and asking whether he 
(an Italian serving a totalitarian, authoritarian state) was aware 
that he was singing a battle song of the American Secession War, 
chanted by soldiers who supposed they were fighting for universal 
freedom, for individual liberty and all that is opposed to totalitar- 
ian authoritarianism. The young officer took my question in good 
part, and said he did know it was American and introduced him- 
self. Nicky told me he had the charge of the British prisoners at 
Vincigliata, the castle just above us. I asked him whether it was 
not marvelous to have so much snow and sunshine together, and 
remarked that nothing could spoil the beauty of the world, not 
even the war. He sighed: "If only it ends soon/* 

Since our first glimpse of the British war prisoners we have met 
them again and again. It seems such a stupid convention, such an 
annoying farce not to be able to speak to them, to lend them books. 
My "enemies" lost no time in spreading the report that I had 
found a way of getting these carefully guarded prisoners to come 
to tea with me, presumably despite the watchful authorities 
such was my diabolical power. 

February ^d 

A RUSSIAN VICTORY that ended in the complete occupation of 
Germany might be the only way to convince the Germans that 
their interests lay with France and England, and at the same time 
might persuade the French and English that they were as much 
concerned as the Central Europeans to keep Russia from domi- 
nating the whole of the Continent, including Western Europe. If 



78 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the Germans could and would be brought to feel that they must 
not again attempt to trample the rest of the world under their 
heel, and had better join France, England, and America in the 
defense of the West against the East, this war would not have 
been fought in vain. 

When I say "East" I have in mind civilizations where the horde, 
the tribe (as in Japan), the mass (as in China) prevails, and in- 
dividuality exists only negatively, not positively; by what the 
single person fails to do, not by what he could do if he were en- 
couraged. Ever since my first long visit to Germany in 1888 I have 
been given to saying, half playfully, that Asia begins at the Rhine. 

Nazism is an attempt on the part of Germany to Asiatize itself 
completely, destroying and eradicating everything in itself that 
spells Europe, which Europe is equivalent to Mediterranean. It 
began with the easiest to accomplish, the wholesale massacre of 
the Jews, always the spearhead of Mediterranean civilization. Not 
so easy to get rid of is the Mediterranean's greatest and most in- 
destructible achievement, Christianity, whether considered as cul- 
ture or as institution. If Nazism wins it will not rest until it eradi- 
cates its every root and retains, like the Japanese, the mechanical 
side only of our common civilization. 

The Russians may be as gifted a people as any in European his- 
tory, which history they have, however, as yet barely approached. 
Their masses are little more than what I call, by a word of my in- 
vention, "androplasm"; that is to say, raw material awaiting in- 
dividualization. For that reason it has been relatively easy for 
Stalin to treat the Russian people like so much dead matter, tear- 
ing them away not from their fields alone (fields in the sense of a 
patch of ground) but from their native land: Kirghizes from their 
horses, Buriats from their reindeer, other nomads from their sheep 
and cattle, and throwing them into furnaces to be melted into 
every kind of day laborer, whether as kolkhoz worker, miner, 
gold-washer, or factory hand. For the present, the Russian, having 
got rid of his Europeanized classes, is further from individuality 
than ever, and his doctrinal influence, bad enough as it is already, 



FEBRUARY, 1942 79 

will be immeasurably surpassed if military conquest reinforces it. 
For which reason Europe, the Mediterranean-Atlantic world and 
its offspring everywhere, not only in all the Americas but even in 
Australia, must in the present historical horizon regard Russia and 
not Germany as the most serious menace. For the German soul 
has been too deeply affected by the Mediterranean vaccine to let 
itself be overwhelmed by the ochlocratic upheaval that is now 
threatening it. 

February $th 

"As THE STARS are the ornament of the heavens when the air is 
clear, and as the flowers adorn the meadows in the spring, so do 
lively sallies and appropriate anecdotes constitute the charm of 
polite conversation." 

This seriocomic aphorism, which I recall learning at Oxford 
in January, 1888, applies signally to Herodotus, whom I have 
just finished reading. It is, by the way, the third time I have read 
him from beginning to end in the original, apart from the second 
book that I read in Egypt, and the pages on the rest of North Africa 
in a later book. Shall I ever find the time to do so again! 

I know no other historian who has such a keen sense of the 
characters and humors that go to shape events. He never lugs in 
an anecdote. It comes of itself as a witness to substantiate what 
he wants to recount, and it seldom fails to be amusing, or signifi- 
cant, or both. Character and humor adorn events, but these are 
determined by inexorable forces which it is not only absurd but 
wrong to oppose. Mycerinus succeeds a series of wickedly op- 
pressive rulers, and does his best to repair the evil they have done. 
Yet all goes wrong with him, and at last he consults the oracles. 
They answer that he is punished for putting himself against des- 
tiny. So before the Battle of Plataea, at the banquet offered by the 
Thebans to the Persians, one of these, unable to keep himself in 
any longer, bursts into tears, saying that he knows his countrymen 
will lose the war and perish miserably; that he has not failed, not 



80 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

only he but many of his friends, to warn the commander-in-chief 
Mardonius, but all to no purpose, for destiny has deereed their 
destruction. 

The Jews of that time seem to have been free from this belief. 
Among the Greeks it was so deep, and so strong, that according 
to Herodotus every state, every ruling family was constantly con- 
sulting oracles and putting them in cold storage for future use, 
and that the Pisistratidae had a wondrous collection of them. 
From this state of mind spring the various Sibylline books, in- 
cluding of course those sold to Rome. Yet it is hard for us to under- 
stand the immense authority of Delphi as the foreteller and inter- 
preter of destiny. As reported by the Greeks themselves, it would 
seem to have been a sinister humbug. No doubt, people were so 
eager to believe that they lost critical sense, like those of us today 
who frequent fortunetellers. 

The feeling that one must not, one should not, interfere with 
destiny still persists in Aegean lands. In his nimble, airy account 
of a journey through Asia Minor, just after the last war, Carl 
Burckhardt meets with a Nathan the Wise, It is at Tarsus I believe, 
and in the course of being taken to all the sights, that he comes 
across a young woman of the best Russian society fallen to the low- 
est steps of degradation. His heart leaps to help her, and the sage 
chides him for not letting things happen, for not letting "deter- 
mined things to destiny hold unbewailed their way." 

But it is not about Herodotus that I mean to write just now, 
rather about the striking parallel between the present war and the 
war with Persia that he narrated. The war news, the war com- 
ments, the war gossip we nowadays get from both sides make us 
indulgent to any error of fact he may have committed. We won- 
der that he did not fall oftener out of reckoning, considering the 
violence of prejudice, and the proneness to lap up information 
agreeable to this violence; given as well the far greater difficulty 
he must have had in getting at the sources. Moreover, he was 
seldom deliberately unfair, and perhaps never so to the enemy in 
chief, the Persian. This Persian, let me add, he depicted as cruel 



FEBRUARY, 1942 8l 

at times, and arbitrary, but always as a gentleman, and not a too 
overbearing one. 

As for the parallels with the present war, we begin with the fact 
that Herodotus does not tire of reiterating how the Persians re- 
garded the whole of Asia as belonging of right to them, and be- 
ing subject to their "order." 

We turn to the Greeks. They sent envoys to Syracuse to ask 
Gelon to join them. They plead that although Xerxes pretends to 
be warring against Athens alone, his real purpose is to subjugate 
Hellenes wherever he can find them. "Think not," they say at the 
end, "that if the Persians defeat us in battle, and subdue us, they 
will leave you unassailed, but look well to yourself ere that day 
come. Aid us and you champion your own cause; a well-laid plan 
commonly leads to a happy issue" (VII, 157). 

How often has not England said this in the last thirty years to 
Belgium, to Holland, but above all to the Sicily of the Anglo-Saxon 
world, the U. S. A.! 

Close parallel between Xerxes and Hitler in their efforts to win 
over, the former the Athenians and the latter England in particular 
and Anglo-Saxons in general. "Medizers" no less frequent in Eng- 
land than in America and in the Dominions. The Greeks could 
have found their equivalent in South Africa, with its Hertzog, and 
in Eire, with its De Valera. Likewise their neutrals, the most re- 
spectable being the Thessalians, who honestly declared that un- 
less they were sure of help they must submit to Xerxes. "Fifth 
columns" were not lacking, and the Persians had Delphi and the 
greatest Greek singer of all time, Pindar, on their side. 

Parallel again were the discussions between allies then and 
now, even to Spartan "weekending" at leisure, for ten whole days, 
engaged in celebrating the feast of Hyacinthia, while the Athenian 
envoys were "peppering" to know whether they would or would 
not be supported. At home they were meanwhile receiving the 
most flattering proposals from the Persians if only they would 
"collaborate." A parallel, and a contrast with Vichy. 

Herodotus recounts that after Thermopylae, Xerxes hastily 



8& RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

buried nineteen out of the twenty thousand Persians that had 
fallen, and invited all and sundry to come and see that he had lost 
only one thousand, whereas the Greek dead were ever so many 
more. He had no more success in blinding onlookers to the facts 
than the Germans who led American correspondents around Ber- 
lin to see with their own eyes how little damage British aircraft 
had done. 

The equivalent of the mined roads were not lacking. The Pho- 
caeans met invading horsemen by "digging a great pit where the 
cavalry had to pass and filled it with jars. The horses fell into them 
and broke their legs." 

After Mycale the Lacedaemonians proposed removing all 
Greeks from Ionia and settling them in those Greek cities that 
would be evacuated because they had taken the Persian side. The 
Nazis have been doing such transfers to any and every extent. 

February 6th 

HAVE WRITTEN of the interest in the character and humor of the 
individual displayed by Herodotus, with his anecdotes about the 
various persons he has occasion to mention, their wit, their foibles, 
their wisdom. 

Where else in the whole world's literature at so early a date as 
the middle of the fifth century B.C. does one find record of such 
an interest! If it is already so lively and so ever-present it must 
have been widespread in conversation before Herodotus wrote. 
So, as they invented everything else, save perhaps mechanics and 
mathematics, the Greeks invented gossip and the significant anec- 
dote. Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, recollections are 
possible without anecdotes and gossip, like Vico's autobiography, 
for instance, but how lifeless, dull, and dry they are like things 
cooked without butter, oil, or other generous fats. One has to be as 
great as Thucydides to write history without them. The Greeks 
seem to have reveled in them; and as the easiest and most fetching 
stories are naughty and malicious, the better known a name, the 



FEBRUARY, 1942 83 

more disparaging the anecdotes gathered around it. Yet how much 
we owe to what has come down to us of this gossip! 



February wth 

READ THE OTHER DAY that they are preparing to celebrate the 
fourth centenary of the Council of Trent that Council which 
definitely turned the Church Catholic into a sect, the greatest 
numerically, the most coherent and highly organized, the most 
powerful, the most awe-inspiring of sects thus denying her high 
claims to be the entire body of Christ and reducing her to the 
status of a fragment. One could speculate as to what the fragment 
consists of, and how much of the body it represents. 

Just now my speculation takes another turn, more consonant 
with my profession. 

It is whether the immense increase of priestly authority and 
power enacted by the Council had any effect on the interior ar- 
rangement of church buildings. 

I never made express study of the subject, but I seem to recall 
that as time went on, the choir, the part assigned to the clergy, 
crept more and more from the apse towards the fagade, leaving 
relatively as little room for the congregation as in a college chapel 
that, for instance, of New College, Oxford. In this chapel as in 
all monastic establishments the available space was intended first 
and foremost for the monks or friars. I seem to recall, however, in 
sixteenth-century and in later Spanish churches the exorbitant 
disproportion between the space allotted on the one hand to the 
clergy and, on the other, to the laity; and I ask again how much 
this was due to the increasing claims of the clergy. 

Two distinct attitudes toward the use of churches are implied 
in the division of space between clergy and laity. One attitude, 
held increasingly under the tendency of the Catholic Church to 
monasticize itself, was to regard its chief function as a sanctuary 
for continuous prayer and praise to God. Belief, if not dogma, 
feared Him as being so wrathful against mankind that if adoration 



84 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and supplication were interrupted for one second He would wipe 
it off the face of the earth. The other was to regard the foremost 
purpose of congregating in churches as instruction, as catechiz- 
ing, as preaching. The first took little or no account of the laity 
and tolerated, rather than solicited, its presence. The second, on 
the contrary, existed chiefly for the laity; as indeed is the case with 
all communities genuinely Protestant, as well as with Catholic 
churches, like most Jesuit ones, where the laity counted almost as 
much. 

Fifty years ago I wrote a "Plea for Renaissance Churches," a 
short paper in which I pleaded that these had a much finer feeling 
for space than had those in the Gothic style. How just my plea was 
I did not realize at the time, for I too was impressed by the grand 
naves and transepts of medieval cathedrals. Space, however, could 
not have been much in the minds of the builders, and not at all in 
the heads of the public. In those edifices where we now are 
tempted to believe there was feeling for splendid space the rood 
lofts, the rood screens, the jubes, and all sorts of other contrap- 
tions cut up the space in such a way that you never got a full view 
from west to east except along the roof. Where the contrary now is 
the case, where the lungs can dilate in a space that is harmoni- 
ously uplifting, it is due to quite recent, to nineteenth-century, 
taste, which removed impediments to continuous vision and swept 
away the chantries, sepulchral chapels, confessionals, etc., etc., 
which still clutter up churches in Spain. Yet I must confess that 
these Spanish churches, with their rich paraphernalia, the visual 
equivalent of the incense and candle smoke filling the air, feel 
as if lived in night and day; whereas churches like Saint-Ouen at 
Rouen are as unhomelike as a dwelling that has been empty for 
a long time. 

February nth 

THE QUESTION of suffrage is a serious one. Universal suffrage, as 
now practiced, leads easily to plebiscitism and that quickly to 
Fuhrertum and all that it brings in its train. Yet to abolish univer- 



FEBRUARY, 1042 8$ 

sal suffrage, and leave the proletariat unrepresented in the dis- 
cussion of public affairs, cannot be advocated by people like our- 
selves who want every class in the community to get what it legiti- 
mately and sanely can out of life. 

How would it be, then, if something like the following were 
proposed? Every person above tw T enty-one, male and female, to 
have one vote. Property, public service, professional merit, in- 
telligent and active interest in politics, to increase the number 
of votes the individual is to have. Instead of bestowing Legions 
of Honor, orders, decorations, and titles the citizen shall have 
granted to him, with the increase of his merits, an increasing num- 
ber of votes. 

Naturally, this idea would encounter objections, as for instance: 
that there would be no way of preventing greedy swopping of 
illegitimate favors in order to procure the promotions. Against 
human nature one cannot legislate. One can only try to educate 
it, and that is a slow process with only a distant hope of success. 

February igth 

MY BEGINNINGS as a writer encountered no little opposition. Not 
so much on account of my ideas. The crime was that I used the 
first person singular instead of the plural, or the various awkward 
circumlocutions, each serving only to draw attention to the fact 
that you were trying to avoid saying "L" 

What is wrong with "I"? Used as I have innocently used it, it 
is nothing but a grammatical fiction without which discourse be- 
comes exceedingly difficult, nay, true discourse impossible. 

Deliberately avoiding it implies a self-consciousness about your 
own personal ego that is far from what happens when I write "I/* 
"We" has through such long and constant use got to be almost as 
natural as "I," but substitutes like "it may be said," "it may be 
allowed," "it has been thought," or, worse than all the other sub- 
terfuges, the four words "the idea is that" seem to me increasingly 
absurd, and the last cynical and impudent. 

Shyness about the use of "I," common in England and America 



86 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

as late as fifty years ago, may he connected with the convention 
of polite society in previous generations, that assertion of individ- 
ual opinion should he avoided and that private tastes, private no- 
tions, private ideas were to he eschewed. 

In one of Jane Austen's novels she says, speaking of her hero, 
that he was too well-bred, too much a gentleman to have, in mat- 
ters of art, tastes that were not of his class. When, as a youngster 
fifty-five years ago, I was taken to picture galleries by ladies old 
enough to be my grandmothers, never did any of them pull me by 
the sleeve toward a painting and say, "I like it." No, they would 

sav: "Now we shall look at that Madonna. It is considered to be 

, 

very fine." 

In these old ladies there may have lingered a certain humility. 
There surely is little left in the young of today or perhaps of yes- 
terday who say "the idea is" when they mean "I think" or "I be- 
lieve" or "I fancy." 

February igth 

AN INTERESTING STUDY of anthologies might be made from the 
point of view of changing taste. 

Thus Palgrave's anthology, on which I lived so many years, did 
not contain Andrew MarvelTs "Coy Mistress." It was first revealed 
to me, although I may have read it years earlier without feeling it, 
it first was brought home to me in the Oxford Book of Verse of 
1919. In a little while everybody was quoting it, and one encoun- 
tered it here, there, and everywhere in periodicals. 

Likewise in a selection of a hundred best French poems pub- 
lished by Gowans and Grey, I first met La Fontaine's "Volupte." 
Since then I have murmured it frequently, and I doubt whether 
many anthologies of French verse have appeared in the last fifteen 
or twenty years that do not contain it. 

The anthologies I had as a boy in Boston were still eighteenth- 
century in taste. Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats were barely coming 
forward, although Byron was represented with his "Isles of 



MARCH, 1942 87 

Greece" and Hebrew melodies. Tennyson and Browning were as 
yet unknown. 
What do these changes in taste reveal of changes in the mind? 



March igfh 

JUST AFTER the First World War I made my way in Naples to 
Donna Anna Regina, and after some difficulty and delay was ad- 
mitted to the church. I found it filled with workmen who evidently 
had turned it into a meeting place. I was horrified to see ladders 
placed against the frescoes, and other signs of utter indifference 
to the Cavallinesque paintings that we, students and lovers of art, 
prized highly. When I drew their attention to the damage they 
were doing, they rather insolently answered that it did not mat- 
ter if they disappeared. They could replace them with creations 
of their own. 

Their huffy tone was largely bluff, but their state of mind was 
that of the medieval scribe who scraped clean a perhaps irreplace- 
able Greek text to use the parchment for a work he could appreci- 
ate, some dreary theological affair, at best a Church Father. 

Neither the socialistic workman nor the medieval scribe was an 
intentional vandal. The latter understood no Greek, so it had no 
value or interest for him. The former feels no art that is not of his 
own day, and has no use for frescoes painted in a language as 
strange to him as Greek was to the scribe. For art, visual art, is as 
much a language as any other, and like language has to be ac- 
quired unconsciously in infancy, or consciously later on. 

When does decline of a ruling nation or of a ruling class within 
a nation set in? Perhaps when it begins to parry challenges with 
palliatives and worse still with the pretense of ignoring them. 

That is what England did from 1920 till 1939, first toward 
France, then toward Italy, and finally toward Germany. 

Ruling class and ruling nation are happily not identical. When 
the challenge turned into an attack, as it did in May, 1940, the 
English people leaped to the defense, dragging the reluctant part 



88 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

of the ruling class with it so quickly that this class may have fan- 
cied that it was taking the initiative. In a sense it did, in the sense 
only that in England the difference between ruling class and peo- 
ple is less than elsewhere, excepting perhaps in the U. S. A. 

A ruling class begins to decline when it ceases to be enterprising 
and acquisitive, and begins to play for safety, for securing its 
privilege, power, and wealth and while sitting tight on its money- 
bags opposes innovation. 

It distressed me to become aware that, with few exceptions, the 
ruling class in America was taking that turn: first with its cult of 
Coolidge, and then with its hatred of the present Roosevelt. It 
manifested its sympathies with every effort to secure Tbranorder" 
by whatever agency, unless this struck directly at capital Its idol 
was a banker who advocated a loan to Mussolini, admitting that 
with its help the latter would enslave the Italian people for a good 
ten years. But what of it, if Fascism would save the world from 
Bolshevism! 

The authority of our ruling class, whose wealth was more often 
the consequence of the country's rising prosperity and of the "un- 
earned increment" than of its own enterprise, will scarcely survive 
this war. Despite its suicidal faults, I shall regret it. It attained a 
relative mellowness, excellent, not merely showy, standards of life, 
sensitiveness to cultural, not merely intellectualistic, interests. Be- 
sides, this class was already producing individuals who were in 
themselves works of art. 

March i6th 

IT is IMPOSSIBLE to punish the misrulers of a nation. In the first 
place, by the time you are in a position to punish them, their 
power is gone; and shorn of that power they cease to be worth the 
trouble. Punishment, to the extent that it is possible to inflict it, 
falls on the people of all classes, not only the relatively few who 
aided and abetted misrule, but the overwhelming majority who 
could not help putting up with it. Such punishment, if it is done 
on statesmanly grounds, not out of sheer vindictiveness, cannot 



MARCH, 1942 80 

be serious. To be serious, Italy as a punishing power would have 
to destroy England and leave the Europe of which Italy forms 
part I often fear an unconscious part to the unchallenged con- 
trol of Germany. If it is Germany that wanted to punish England, 
she might find herself, even though she dominated all Europe 
west of the Vistula, in no position to face a combination of Eurasia 
ruled by a Russo-Japanese alliance, always a possibility. On the 
other hand, if England wanted to punish France for her conduct 
since Laval's treachery coming on top of all other French follies 
since 1920, she, England I mean, w T ou!d only strengthen Germany. 
This is so obvious that an Italian journalist during the Laval be- 
trayal had the effrontery to encourage the French government, 
saying whatever it did, could, or would do, England out of self- 
interest could not afford to drop her. Likewise, if England tries to 
punish Italy, it could end only in giving France an undesirable 
preponderance in the Mediterranean, etc., etc. 

Seeing, then, that there is no way of punishing a nation for the 
crimes of its rulers against other nations, it should be the impera- 
tive duty of its neighbors, near and far, to prevent it from falling 
into the hands of mischievous men even if, to prevent it, recourse 
must be had to force. 

Before power passes into the hands of those usurpers (whose 
traits it is easy enough to recognize) the nation destined to be 
their victim has not yet been stupefied enough physically and 
mentally to give the assistance their misrulers would need to 
maintain themselves. If these dared to try their luck it would go 
back on them. True, it may be no easy task to get rid of them and 
their supporters, but no difficulty encountered is to be compared 
to what neighboring states will have to put up with if they wait 
until they are attacked. They surely will be; for certain types of 
rule, totalitarianism and autarchy, for instance, serve no purpose 
but war, and war which must be made piping hot when ready. 

It is difficult to believe that statesmanlike persons sincerely en- 
tertained a policy of pretending that what went on within another 
state was no other government's concern, or took in earnest the 
slogan of the last ten years and more, that "ideologies'* must not 



go RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

invade international affairs. Useless to discuss the cowardice for 
I take it to be that rather than sheer folly of such a policy. One 
can only point to the results. On what grounds are England and 
America fighting now, if not to defend their ideologies against the 
diametrically opposed "Axis" ones! 



March 24th 

IT LOOKS as if Turkey would not he allowed to remain neutral 
much longer. For the present, she can do little for the Allies except 
to keep a strict neutrality; at most, a benevolent neutrality. For 
the Axis, Turkey can help to decide in their favor by joining 
against Russia and invading the Caucasus. Turkey would be wiser 
than other powers if she resisted the bribe that the Axis may be 
offering, the bribe of the Dodecanese and other Aegean islands 
(which naturally England could not offer), and perhaps as well 
the further bribe of Syria, Palestine, and Iraq in short, the resto- 
ration of the Ottoman Empire as before the last war. Will Turkey 
resist? 

April 3oth 

Too BUSY PRUNING, filling out, correcting my Art Theory and 
Art History to have had the leisure of mind to write here. 

Last night the Christian Science Monitors radio speaker talked 
of China, how big it was, and how ready to form part of our Amer- 
ican civilization, and what a power for stabilization on a humani- 
tarian plane it will be when the war is won and China is thor- 
oughly mechanized. 

I suppose it is necessary propaganda to rouse fraternal enthusi- 
asm in favor of a numerous nation whom, not long ago, we ex- 
cluded from America, and not more than three years ago re- 
fused loans of sums as petty as fifty million dollars, to be expended 
on armament for defense. All sorts of mean, sordidly pacifistic and 
cowardly reasons intervened, covered by the cry that we must not 
goad Japan into making war on us. 

I recall vividly how we throbbed in united sympathy for Japan 



MAY, 1942 91 

forty years ago when Japan attacked Russia at Port Arthur just as 
she attacked us a few months ago at Pearl Harbor. We had ample 
reason for wishing to diminish the power of the Tsardom and its 
menace to our civilization. Japanese prints, Japanese netsukes and 
ceramics prepared the way for Lafcadio's keepsake pictures of 
Japan, penned with a luscious language that captivated. What has 
been the progress of Japan since? What reason have we to believe 
that a victorious, united, mechanized, commercialized, and of 
course militarized China will act any better? On the contrary, her 
immense population, her more central position may be more of a 
menace. It seems a law of history if indeed history has laws 
that once aroused to a feeling of nationhood, a people cannot stop 
till it goes the whole way of nationalism and annexationism. A 
people in that condition will not settle down till it has had the sat- 
isfaction of enslaving and oppressing others; or else fail so mis- 
erably, as the Greeks did in 1919, that they sink into impotent 
dissatisfaction with themselves as well as others. So I should expect 
the Chinese to regain the territories recently taken by Japan, and 
Indo-China and Korea as well, and then to set up a Mongol soli- 
darity which would include Siam, Burma, Nepal, and much else, 
as the lust for conquest increased with its satisfaction, 

May 2,d 

HEARD JUST NOW of Delfino Cinellfs death. Death, like the sun 
and the rain, acts on the just and on the unjust. I knew nobody 
who less deserved to die, whose disappearance can bring so little 
profit to anyone, whose loss will be mourned so unanimously by 
all who knew him. 

Not alone because he was one of the most delicate and genuine 
verbal artists of recent years, communicating the full perfume of 
the Tuscan countryside and its folk as I have never felt in another 
writer; not only because he had a fine sense of letters. As well, and 
as much, because of his deep and generous humanity and coura- 
geous attitude toward events, and his understanding of what was 
behind them. 



92 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

His business took him often to America and he learnt to appre- 
ciate and to love us. So he was one of the few Italians with whom, 
as with Carla Garabelli Orlando, I could discuss things and per- 
sons American as if he were one himself. His looks used to puzzle 
me. Slender, tallish, with pronounced features, blue-gray eyes, 
and a shock of darkish chestnut hair over a full, slightly beetling 
brow, at first he suggested the Russian. I was not satisfied with 
this classification and one day I perceived how much he looked 
like the "Dying Gladiator." So that was what he was, a Celt w T hose 
idioplasm, disappearing for centuries, returned to life with him, its 
characteristics tempered by Italic elements into the completely 
rational, frank, and fearless being whom we loved and cherished. 

May 6th 

THE HIEROGLYPHS in the innermost chamber of Zoser's pyramid 
are perfect as sculpture in low relief. So are the masterpieces of 
the earliest Egyptian dynasties, whether in the round or in relief. 
Wonderful also are the works of figure arts, mostly in the round, 
dug up in Mesopotamia and dating from its earliest periods and 
dynasties. A head like the one discovered at Warka a few years 
ago, although of the Jemseh-Nasr period, some 3000 B.C., would, 
if found in Greece or Aegean lands, be placed in the fifth century 
and ranked with the masterpieces of that century. 

Verbal utterances nearly coeval with these early creations of 
Egypt and Babylonia are scarcely to be graced with the name of 
literature even in the most generous and indulgent sense of the 
word. One may question whether these antique lands in the course 
of their entire history ever produced literary works comparable to 
their plastic arts. 

This leads me to wonder whether poetry as we understand it is 
not a later product than the visual and, more specifically, the fig- 
ure arts. It is true that we have no specimens of Minoan or even 
Mycenaean Dichtung, poetry, whether in prose or verse. Someday 
they may be discovered and deciphered, but I am willing to affirm 
that they will not be of the value interest of the figure arts pro- 



MAY, 1942 93 

duced by the same civilizations. Although I do not share the 
boundless admiration for their wasp-waisted, cakcwalking, bull- 
fighting heroes, or their young women easily mistaken for crea- 
tures out of Vogue, their representations of animals are of the 
highest order, and their action has a spring, a lightness, a gaiety 
that makes one feel eager and happy. 

Then comes the Iliad, centuries after the occupation of the My- 
censean world by a darkness that swept down from North Central 
Europe, as it did many centuries later when it produced our Dark 
Ages. It took nearly as long to recover from, but in technical tradi- 
tion as in subject matter Homer may have been the singer of a past 
whose memory was preserved and nostalgically transfigured in 
Aeolia by descendants of Mycenseans there sheltered from the 
worst brutalities of the Nordic invaders on the Greek mainland. In 
that case, the Iliad too would date much later than the visual rep- 
resentations to which we owe acquaintance with the Mycenaean 
world. 

I suspect that early mankind, when feeling its oats, danced and 
shouted, chanted perhaps, and that castanets, tom-toms, and 
even some crude wind instruments may have been among its early 
artifacts. 

Its shouts when exuberant, its grunts, its howls when satisfied or 
angry, ultimately were organized into units of sound, and these 
units in the course of numberless ages were split up into bits, each 
bit carrying a distinct meaning. This meaning was stamped upon it 
as the value was stamped at first roughly upon the earliest coins into 
the casting of which chunks of gold and silver and bronze and elec- 
trum were broken up and then with more and more defined im- 
ages, until they attained the beauty of Syracusan and other Greek 
coins of the fifth century and later. Indeed, one may be led on to 
say that units of sound reached their perfection as words, at the 
same time that mere bullion attained its greatest beauty as coin- 
age. 

Which brings me back to the question whether words, in our 
sense of the term, were not latecomers in poetry, although they 
may have existed in some utilitarian connection long before. With- 



94 RUMOR AN ? D REFLECTION 

out the aid of appropriate gesture words till late did not attain 
precision and currency enough to serve for something so prismatic 
as poetry, not to speak of the exigencies of prose. 

May 8th 

I CAN RECALL w y hat, as a little boy not over seven, I felt about 
parents, teachers, and other grownups. I must pay attention to 
what they said and obey their orders. Why? Not for fear of pun- 
ishment chiefly, although that, no doubt, played its part. No: it 
was that I felt these elders were betters and spoke with knowl- 
edge. Most of all, they enjoyed "authority," and I knew that "au- 
thority" was not force alone, the power to do what they liked with 
me, but something numinous which filled me with awe, with a 
sense of its moral right to utter commands that I had to obey. I 
might and would rebel, yet knew that I ought not, that it was 
naughty to do so. It made me unhappy and compelled me to seek 
reconciliation. 

Need I add that this numinous authority, with which I endowed 
my elders, ended by embracing government and all its agents? 
Moreover, their authority was a moral authority that could not act 
except in a moral way. Nor was it there merely to secure and guar- 
antee life and property; it had to serve besides as a model for con- 
duct, a model we had but to follow in order to enjoy what was 
good for us here and hereafter. 

I left America too soon to have heard in my sheltered and un- 
political school and college days of the venality and brutality of 
the executants of the law. Nor did much happen abroad to open 
my eyes till toward my thirtieth year, when I began to take an in- 
terest in international affairs. Even then I did not wake entirely, 
and it took yet a while before I began to realize that, internation- 
ally at least, governments, excepting possibly the English and 
American, did not believe in moral conduct toward each other, 
and scarcely claimed to be guided by anything but their advan- 
tage, and the power to secure it. 

It was a discovery that would have turned me into an anarchist 



MAY, 1942 95 

if I had made it as a youth. Happily, it occurred when I was capa- 
ble of reflection; and although I had not yet consciously reached 
the conclusion that government was a necessary evil without 
which we could not get on in our present civilization, I was pre- 
pared to act on it and accept the inevitable. 

I go on asking, however, how one can expect morality, decency, 
and humanity from individuals who corporatively have none, who 
corporatively expect to be praised for being regardless of the rest 
of the world, and glorying in any cannibalism that may seem ma- 
terially advantageous at the moment, 

May g 

THE COLORED picture postcard, following on the heels of the one 
in black and white, as that had succeeded to the plain photograph, 
is putting an end, if indeed it has not already done so, to an ele- 
gant accomplishment of young and mature gentlewomen that was 
still common in my earlier days. An exact contemporary of mine, 
Mme de C. B., can turn over the pages of albums into which are 
gathered the vignettes and "Prout-bits" she water-colored long 
ago, in Egypt and other antique lands. It must give her raptures 
of transfigured memory that no view of the same place not done 
by her own hands would give, least of all the mechanical ones now 
current. Quality apart, the thing done with one's own hands has 
a power to call back the past, and just how a given place or scene 
felt, as no ready-made reproduction can offer. 

Now it is the turn of the amateur pianists and songsters to van- 
ish. How shall they compete with the ever-improvable radio that 
brings us the music we want, performed by the best artists? Teach- 
ing the piano and singing may be carried on, but the end is not far. 

We shall then have a completer and more decisively final di- 
vorce between artists and enjoyers of art, between painters, sculp- 
tors, and amateurs in short, between producers and consumers. 



96 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 



May 2%d 

AT THE FUNERAL of Novalis, his father was deeply touched by a 
hymn that was sung. He asked for its author and was told, "But 
it is by your dead son." Father and son had fallen out over what 
the former, strictly and narrowly evangelical, regarded as religion. 
He was moved to contrition w ? hen the hymn revealed how truly 
religious his son had been all along. Without the identical trap- 
pings of myth and dogma he had failed to recognize this quality 
in his child. 

May 24th 

WHILE READING Huizinga, it occurs to one to ask who first 
thought of the questions one puts regarding this or that period of 
history in a given region, as in this case the civilization of France 
and Flanders at the end of the Middle Ages, or of an individual, as 
Taine did in the case of La Fontaine. When we deal with an entire 
civilization and not a single person, I with my limited reading can 
trace the kind of question no further back than to Jakob Burck- 
hardt. I suspect that he owed something to the Schlegels and more 
to Herder; but for us who come after him, it is to him we owe the 
problems to be solved when we attempt to inquire into a past 
civilization. 

How to set about to discover what are the problems touching 
such a chaotic affair as an epoch of the past requires great ante- 
cedent knowledge feeding imagination, and a creative gift with- 
out which one has no idea how to find one's way through such a 
jungle. In that sense Jakob Burckhardt was a real pioneer. After 
him it is easy for any instructed person to apply the same ques- 
tions, to pose the same problems, to set up the same categories for 
any period of the past and with relatively modest gifts reach satis- 
factory results. It is easy for these mediocrities to ignore their 
debts, and to be accepted as great scholars and interpreters. 



JUNE, 1942 97 

"Who fished the murex up?" 
"What porridge had John Keats? 3 * 



June 8th 

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, aristocracy and le monde society fasci- 
nated me. To begin with, like most not born to it, I was attracted 
by its seeming access to a larger, more intense, as well as freer life. 
Its manners, its customs, its habitations, its relations to others 
seemed more beautiful intrinsically than ours. Then, when I real- 
ized how few members of this class were the better for these ad- 
vantages, how sordid, how greedy, how predatory, how vulgar- 
minded, how heartless, how rude the majority of its individuals 
could be, I still entertained the hope that there were enough of the 
better sort to keep up its cadres, in the sense that an army de- 
feated and decimated but keeping up its formations can expect in 
time to fill them up properly. 

Royalties made me feel shy because I did not know how to get 
on with them. Obviously, they expect other treatment than is 
meted out to mere mortals in whose veins flows no drop of the 
ichor of the gods Odin and Thor. I am reminded of what a diplo- 
mat told me in Rome. Whenever an officially important foreign 
personage was coming to Rome, information was asked as to the 
amount of enthusiasm with which he was to be received. 

Aristocracies may continue to exist and the great society to af- 
ford them as the humblest cottages can afford to cultivate flowers 
in their patch of garden, and poor city folk a geranium in a pot on 
the window sill. So long as aristocracies continue to give satisfac- 
tion either through the nobility of their mceurs or the beauty of 
their ways and aspects, we can profit by the aesthetic pleasure 
they give us, as well as by the example that they furnish to us 
plebeians. 

When they degenerate to mere smartness, and rot into parasites 
of the nouveaux riches, whether these are rich in money or rich in 
power, then they are at best a nuisance, and at less than best a 



98 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

pernicious model for the rest of us. The sooner they are eliminated 
the better. It is to he feared, moreover, that even the worthier sec- 
tions of the aristocracies in all countries have sunk to the state of 
mind that possesses people who live on inherited incomes, which 
the}' cannot creatively increase, but only diminish through stupid- 
ity, bad luck, or taxation. They sit tight on their moneybags with 
little thought for the community as a w r hole, except to the extent 
that it serves their needs and greeds. Their more enterprising men 
go into business of an adventurous and hazardous kind with the 
hope of getting rich quick. The others wait for the marriage bro- 
ker to bring them an heiress to increase their income and discolor 
the blueness of their blood. 



June 2gth 

THE GERMANS again are threatening Egypt. If the experiment 
could be reversed, it would interest me to see how the Egyptians 
would enjoy German rule for several years, for long enough to 
have a good taste of it and see how they liked it. The Nazis might 
play into the hands of the effendis, letting them at the start op- 
press and squeeze the fellahin as they did before English rule lim- 
ited their privileges. 

In India likewise the baboos and their like might prefer Japa- 
nese totalitarianism to British rule. 

Eastern, and semi-Eastern, and Near Eastern people seem to 
find difficulties in distinguishing between a government that cares 
not how much harm it does to attain its ends, and one that tries to 
reduce to a minimum the odious but necessary evils that accom- 
pany politics and administration. 

England does the latter consciously, but as it cannot get rid of 
all evil-doing, hard as it tries, every Oriental or semi-Oriental from 
Gibraltar to Japan points a finger and boohoos at its hypocrisy, 
cant, and fraud. You would think they could not conceive a mid- 
dle term between a cannibal and Gandhi. 

One or the other, a cannibal or a Gandhi, if a Gandhi could rule, 
they might understand and be reconciled to. 



JULY, 1942 99 

A Gandhi being out of the question, it is by no means certain 
that these peoples would not settle down to Nazi rule with resig- 
nation as to an act of God, in submissive and reposeful irresponsi- 
bility, and be much happier than under the English, who allow 
them to clamor for more and more advantages, 

England necessarily is least English in her connection with In- 
dia. Scarcely an international action one may disapprove that 
England does not commit because of India. Keeping Cyprus from 
the Greeks, Egypt from the Arabs, Palestine from the Jews all 
this is to provide for the safety of India and of the route to India. 

I should be happy to let the Hindus stew r in their own or in au- 
thoritarian juice and free England from the ungrateful task of pro- 
tecting and ruling. An English-speaking union strong enough to 
defend itself against attack that for the present w r ould be my 
international ideal. 



July 2d 

"THEY" HAVE CUT our telephone, without even letting us know. 
What harm could we do through the telephone? It is carefully 
watched. If one attempted to communicate anything seditious, let 
alone of military interest, the spy at the station could report at 
once. It would serve counterespionage to let the few decrepit, tot- 
tering "alien enemies" like ourselves use and abuse the telephone, 
on the chance that they might betray something of interest to the 
authorities. But no: in wartime an alien enemy must not be al- 
lowed to use a telephone. Discussion strictly forbidden. 

July sd 

How I USED TO LAUGH forty years ago at Salomon Reinach's 
when I saw that almost all the Academicians and members of the 
Institute I met there wore elastic-sided boots. I had no idea then 
as I have too clearly now that this saved those elderly people the 
trouble of bending to lace their footgear. 



1OO RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

When the Germans first attempted to invade Egypt from Libya, 
I was assured by even such a military authority as Prinee Rupprecht 
of Bavaria that they would reach Alexandria in five or six days. 
Other Germans could not find adequate terms to praise Rommel 
as perhaps the finest mind in their army: all had been arranged 
like clockwork, and timed for the defeat of the British and the con- 
quest of Egypt. Beaten, Romrnel became a rash, headstrong ad- 
venturer who, without orders and without consulting his superi- 
ors, had let himself into a gamble foredoomed to failure. Again, he 
is a hero, he is field marshal. What will be his reward if he reaches 
Cairo? On the other hand, what will Germans say if, like Sen- 
nacherib, he mysteriously retires? 

August 2jth 

I HAPPENED to go to the window at about an hour before sunrise. 
The full moon was still some degrees above the western horizon. 
To the east the sky was beginning to flush with the dawn. The 
moon had a dimmed luster as of old gold and was bedded in its 
own rays, making a halo like a great wheel, and touched with faint 
rainbow color. Under it, the hillside rising to Poggio Gherardo 
looked grayish green and the olive trees did not come out singly or 
in clusters, but as rolls of felt folded back on the ground. The sky 
had a strange, almost uncanny air, both gay and solemn. 

I looked and gazed and breathed deep and recognized that in 
seventy years and more that I have looked at landscape con- 
sciously I had never seen the like effect. While contemplating the 
scene I did not think of any poet, whether Homer or Wordsworth 
or Goethe, who might interpret what I felt but could not put into 
words. For some minutes I was the world seen by my eyes and felt 
by my senses, the landscape, the freshness of the air, the smells 
coming up from the garden, the caress of the breeze. 



DECEMBER, 1942 101 



December 28th 
IGOR SAID yesterday that it was the Endish of course who had had 

<* " Ci 

Darlan assassinated. I was shocked and told him I should have to 
revise my idea of England if I thought her capable of such an act. 
To the Continental mind, nothing seems more likely. Darkn's dis- 
appearance serves England's policy and besides, under the circum- 
stances, is a blessing for the Allied cause. So why not? That, I 
suppose, is the kind of Rcalpolitik that you cannot eradicate from 
the Continental mind. They are alw r ays ready to accuse the ^Brit- 
ish Intelligence Service" of any and every crime that, in their mis- 
informed opinion, might serve British policy. Indeed, so insistent 
is this belief that at times I am tempted myself to wonder whether 
there is anything in it. 



1943 



January ist 

FOR THE LAST three years I have been reading one of the most 
respected dailies in Germany, the Deutsche Attgemeine Zeitung. 
According to this authority, Germany has in these years commit- 
ted no act of aggression, never fought except in self-defense or, at 
most, to anticipate ascertained attack; never done more than repel 
hostile forces; never suffered defeat, never retreated except to oc- 
cupy better strategic positions, never massacred, never acted 
cruelly to Jews or Poles or Czechs; never behaved in any but ex- 
emplary fashion in all occupied countries, except of course where 
it had to defend its so humane police against Heimtuckische, dis- 
loyally sinister plots and conspiracies. How different the behavior 
of the British in India, of the British and Russians in Persia, of the 
British and French in Syria, and now of the Americans in North 
Africa: brutality, bloodshed, sadic ferocity, and everywhere Jews 
let loose to wreak their hatred of the human race on the so ex- 
quisitely civilized Arabs. 

Nor is the radio of the Germans more truthful than their news- 
papers. 

So the great, the overwhelming majority of the German public 
will come out of this war indignant at the way other people will 
speak of them, hate them, and behave towards them. As after the 
last war, they will think they are being wronged, and again their 

105 



106 RVMOR AND REFLECTION 

state of mind will become a bouillon in which all sorts of revenge- 
ful microbes will flourish, ending in another mass revolt against 
wicked and inhuman treatment. 

German young people must be taught all that. They and their 
like must be taught that what they do to others they must suffer 
In turn and that they have no right to howl and foam with indig- 
nation when not half or even quarter is paid back to them of what 
they have inflicted on others. They must be taught that just being 
German does not make them superior to the rest of mankind; they 
must learn that taken all around and considering the whole course 
of known history, it is doubtful whether one people can lay claim 
to superiority over another. They must learn that there are no 
chosen peoples. 

January 2d 

CURIOUS how faithful the Nazis are to the Israelitish pattern. Not 
only are they the chosen people; not only have they the exclusive 
right to trample upon all others and to dispossess them of their 
territories in good Hexateuch fashion. They must not intermarry, 
Nazi with Jew or Pole and ultimately with any person whose 
blood cannot be scientifically proved to be Teutonic. Finally, like 
ghetto Jews of the later centuries, who were not allowed to read 
anything in a language not Hebrew, or about matters not reli- 
gious, the Nazis must not read anything written by a Jew and, to 
make sure that they shall not, all writings by Jews must be burned. 
So much for the present, and presumably this applies only to the 
books of the last couple of centuries. Yet I doubt not that if they 
prevail, the Nazis will end by excluding all printed matter not 
written by uncontaminated Teutons. Thus a day may come when 
a German will encounter the same difficulties in starting to learn 
another tongue that Maimon in his eighteenth-century Polish 
ghetto experienced. 

From Ezra down, this Jewish exclusiveness was due less and 
less to a feeling of superiority, certainly not in the ways of this 



JANUARY, 1943 lO/ 

world, but rather to a fear of contamination. Rabbinical Judaism 
is first and foremost an organization for keeping a small minority, 
scattered among the nations, from dissolving and disappearing. 
It was thus based on fear and on a reasoned fear. Why should the 
Germans of today have such a fear? In the Germany of before the 
Nazis' conquests, the Jews were not one per cent of the popula- 
tion. The only way of accounting for this fear is that the Jews were 
believed to make up for quantity by quality, that is to say that one 
Jew was able to affect the German nation more than one hundred 
non-Jews. In the course of three thousand years, this despised 
handful of so-called Semites has never had such a compliment 
paid to it. 

To the Nazi, whether he is conscious of it or not, the Jew is 
the begetter of Christianity, and for this he can never forgive 
him. This religion begotten by Judaism, fostered by Hellenism, 
and imposed upon the Germans by Rome, has according to the 
Nazi doctrine gone far to corrupt, emasculate, and soften in our 
speech, to humanize the wild ardor and berserker ferocity of the 
primitive Teuton. This religion, the most recent phase of Mediter- 
ranean culture, must be washed away, in blood, if necessary, from 
the Nordic peoples; and, to make sure that it does not return, they 
must wipe out after the Jews the Italians, followed by Greeks and 
finally the Spaniards. Then Wotanism will be sure of ruling the 
earth. 

Meanwhile Italians and Spaniards are allied to the present in- 
carnation of Wotan, as if Ulysses had come to terms with Poly- 
phemus on the promise that he would be devoured last. 

January 3$ 

PAUL ELMER MORE pleads in his Christ the Word for the Re- 
demption, the Incarnation, Purpose in the Universe, Revelation. 
Pity that God gave us minds incapable of receiving a revelation 
and hearts too feeble to accept and hold it without doubt and 
fear! As for Purpose, one may ask whose? Every purpose proposed 



108 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

or suggested smells of the blood of a human being is so anthro- 
pomorphic that I can only smile at the touching infantility of the 
idea. 

January 4th 

IT WILL BE INTERESTING to learn, when the war is over, what 
discoveries have been made under pressure of privations. One 
seems already clear, although not exactly a new discovery. It is 
air transport, not only of passengers but of goods. Should the sub- 
marines continue to raven for another couple of years, air trans- 
port may be so perfected and so generalized that the ship will 
cease to be a carrier, except for bulk of the least perishable kind, 
demanding the least outlay for freight. In that case, before an- 
other war overwhelms us, the submarine will also have disap- 
peared. 

In war all is fair. So we may not speak of the cruelty of the sub- 
marine. Despite individual heroism, the submarine is not a chiv- 
alrous arm. Ce nest pas de la bonne guerre. Its use is a confession 
of weakness. It serves the Nazis in this war because their ships 
have been as good as swept from the seas. Nor could they profit 
by it, as they do, if they did not control the coasts of the Continent 
from the Baltic to Biscay; and I daresay they have stations in the 
Cantabrian rivas and the Spanish coast all the way to Finisterre 
as well as support and supplies of Venezuelan profiteers and sym- 
pathizers. 

January jth 

I ALMOST NEVER read the highly advertised and fervidly praised 
book of the hour. So I looked at no Steinbeck while I could have 
got him in English. Now that I have waked up to him, I can find 
him in Italian translations only. Luckily, these are excellent. 

Plan delta Tortilla Tortilla Flats, in English is scarcely a 
picaresque novel or story. It is too innocent, too infantile, although 
naughty enough. Rather than of Lazarillo or Gil Bias, it reminds 
one of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. 



JANUARY, 1943 209 

What a distance America has traveled since the last two were 
written about small boys of pure British descent! How little, even 
in his mature much later books, Mark Twain betrays familiarity 
and understanding of Latin peoples and their religion! Steinbeck 
on the contrary is amazingly intelligent about popular Catholicism 
and the state of mind of foreigners so utterly unlike Anglo-Saxons 
as are these pacsanos he is exhibiting. He does not describe them, 
he stages them, and makes them play. The worst that could be 
said, although with small justice, is that they would tend to turn 
into marionettes. 

Are they a community of degenerates like our "mean whites" of 
the South, or those of New England described in Edith Wharton's 
Summer? Scarcely. They rather are a survival, or throwback, to 
the period of human development before hunting ( and still less 
agriculture ) had begun to be pursued and the straggling groups 
of bipeds lived by gathering what they could pick up for food. 
They have scarcely any sense of property, decency, or decorum 
although not free from the kind of snobbishness which we find 
already among horses, cattle, and even sheep. Few signs of sexual 
morality, no scruples, no loyalties. The only one who possesses the 
last-named virtue is wanting in even the animal intelligence which 
guides his companions. Their demands on life limited to food, 
drink, and sex. They have no difficulty in satisfying their erotic 
needs, and food they pick up somehow with little trouble. The 
only serious problem is how to get drink. What brains they have 
is devoted to overcoming that difficulty. Much of the fun in the 
book is connected with the devices they use for that purpose. 

January nth 

BEGAN TO READ for the fourth time Greville's Memoirs, now in 
a more complete edition than any previous one. It starts with the 
return of Napoleon from Elba. Rumors were rare and contradic- 
tory. Nobody knew how the army would act, nor how the people 
would react. There was the wildest guessing before it was defi- 
nitely known that the so-recent monster, ogre, and brigand, now 



I1O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

His Majesty the Emperor, had returned to his palace of the 
Louvre. 

More and more I enjo\ reading history in the making, as we get 
it from diaries and the press of the day. As for the press, it has 
for the last fifty years and more become so voluminous, so un- 
scrupulous, so corrupt, represents so many divergent and even 
warring interests, or indeed is so severely controlled in favor of 
one national interest, that the future student of our own epoch 
will not be able to cope with it. The past, down to even Waterloo, 
does not suffer from a like abundance, and we welcome any infor- 
mation we can gather. 

The contradictory rumors and fluctuating opinions that consti- 
tute the coming event as we see it approaching give it an uncer- 
tain shape and an indefinite content: it is finally formed by 
unpredictable so-called accidents accidents in fact as well as in 
appearance. 

The last consideration and similar trains of thought have led 
me far from the doctrine, lapped up in my youth, about the in- 
evitability of events and the Moloch still devouring us today, *liis- 
torical inevitability." I believe less and less in these more than 
doubtful and certainly dangerous dogmas, which tend to make 
us accept whatever happens as irresistible and foolhardy to op- 
pose. 

* # * 

Have just read in Kierkegaard's Riens Philosophiques, an inter- 
esting discussion as to whether the people who knew Jesus in the 
flesh enjoyed any advantage over us who know Him only by hear- 
say. He concludes that unless they had faith they had no advan- 
tage, and I agree with him. Miracles happen to those who believe 
in them. Otherwise why does not the Virgin Mary appear to La- 
maists, Mohammedans, or Hindus who have never heard of her? 

a * a 

During the last war before entering it himself President Wilson 
used to proclaim that he would not allow it to end either with 
victors or vanquished, with profiteering, with booty, with land- 
grabbing, with reparations. 



JANUARY, 1943 HI 

What he could not achieve, although he went into the war to 
do so, this war will bring about by the sheer force of events. 

No victors or vanquished. We shall all be far too rained to insist 
much on the slight advantages that may be seized by the "victors." 
Excepting perhaps in the Pacific islands. There will be no annex- 
ations because the Anglo-Saxons are not hungering for more ter- 
ritory than they already rule over. It is not likely that Russia will 
want to extend her frontiers westward beyond what was allotted 
to her by Germany in August, 1939, if indeed she will want to re- 
tain all that rather than to return to her frontiers of 1914. As for 
Germany, the utmost she can hope for is a compromise peace that 
will oblige her no more than to give up everything she did not 
have before 1938, excepting possibly Austria. 

There will be no talk of indemnities and reparations because 
nobody will be in condition to pay them either in money or even 
in kind. What will the nominal vanquished have to give to the 
nominal victors? Of goods, none; of money, the mere idea of it is 
absurd; of labor, to make good destruction or damage the nation 
that takes it will have to feed it and care for its being kept in con- 
dition to yield satisfactory results, for the country obliged to give 
it will not be able to do anything for them. And besides, what of 
native labor that in consequence would be out of work! 

I recall what Bismarck said after 1871: that if he beat France 
again soon, it was Germany that would pay her an indemnity. It 
took a genius like Bismarck to see that it was to the interest of the 
victor to help restore the vanquished. 

That lesson the Anglo-Saxons have learnt, at least in theory. 
Will they have the sense to carry it through? Will they be in a po- 
sition to do so with even the best will in the world? 

Then why this war? No rational explanation possible. One is 
tempted to fancy that extrahuman wills are at work to prevent 
mankind from humanizing itself too rapidly. If there are to be 
"victors" in this war it will not be the nations engaged in it ac- 
tively as belligerents, or passively as neutrals, but the proletarian 
classes in each of the belligerent countries. There the upper classes 
will all but disappear, and the survivors lose most of their incomes 



112 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and, with their wealth, their authority. The fourth estate will tri- 
umph at last, and thereby put back the clock of essential human 
progress for many a generation. 

Another victor will be the state within each nation. It will con- 
sist of a formidable bureaucracy which will impose first its own 
standards, and then its own convenience masked as efficiency, and 
finally its ow 7 n advantage. 

There will be little room for the individuals when this war is 
over. For every unavoidable reason, restriction will follow restric- 
tion, and the individual will find that freedom from persecution 
because of race, religion, or opinions will not carry him far, or pro- 
cure him much beyond the barest mass-produced comforts and 
satisfactions. As super on the stage of life, as member of a chorus, 
in highly favorable conditions as impresario or orchestra conduc- 
tor, he may manage to enjoy himself. Woe betide him if he is un- 
able or unwilling to keep step with the crowd. 

January i$th 

As A SPECIMEN of what Fascists could believe, the following ac- 
count of talk overheard in the train between Florence and Milan 
a few days ago may be of interest. 

The principal speaker was a nobleman whom we shall call the 
Duke of Green Mansions. He had spent a number of years in New 
York, received as only dukes are, and had then transferred himself 
to Berlin, where he lived as a privileged person. His countrymen 
naturally regard him as a great authority on America as well as on 
Germany. The other two, a well-known count and a financier. 

Duke, delighted with sinking of sixteen American oil tankers. 

Count hopes this blow will favor operations in Tunisia. No 
time must be lost in freeing North Africa from the Allies. 

Duke: "On the contrary. Let them stay there. Hitler not only 
expected their invasion, not only did nothing to prevent it, but in- 
directly drew them into a trap. Our victory can follow only after 
the destruction of the enemy's tonnage. In northern seas our prog- 
ress was too slow. It is therefore providential for us that the Afri- 



JANUARY, 1943 

can front has come about and is being so generously and continu- 
ously refurnished by Anglo-American shipping in waters where it 
is an easier target for our attacks. We now sink about eight mil- 
lion of their tonnage while they can rebuild only three million. 
They are now losing five million tons a year, that is to say one 
fourth of their total, which is twenty million. 

"So then while the armies of the Axis are making an end forever 
of the Russian peril our navies are giving the deathblow to the 
British Empire/* 

Financier: "I have just come from Tunisia, where I was with our 
aviation, and it is clear that there the situation of the Allies is 
hopeless. Russia cannot resist much longer. If it is the armies that 
are to win the war, the Axis victory is already assured. How can 
England and America go on having illusions?" 

Duke: "They go on with their illusions because they rely on 
other forces and give no great importance to the military situation. 
England has never fought with armies but always used disloyal 
and indirect methods. Today everything is in the hands of interna- 
tional Jewry, which controls the gold reserves of the earth and em- 
ploys as its agents men of the highest order." 

Count: "But is international Jewry a concrete fact and does it 
really head an organization?" 

Duke: "How can you question it? It is the one real enemy that 
we must fight without quarter. It is all the more dangerous as it 
is so hard to lay hold of. It has armed Russia, it has guided every 
step of Roosevelt, has intrigued with every small nation > compel- 
ling Hitler to intervene with violence to prevent greater peril. 
Take one instance: After the Munich conference, Jews plotted 
with Benes to establish air bases in Czechoslovakia, and this 
obliged Hitler to go back on his word in appearance only. Simi- 
lar conspiracies forced us, little prepared as we were, into the 
Greek adventure, which, as it happened, turned out providen- 
tially, for it showed up the treachery of the Serbs and allowed us 
to master Yugoslavia in good time." 

Count: "Who is at the head of this organization? Where are its 
headquarters?" 



114 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Duke: "They have no headquarters because they operate the 
world over through an elaborate net of financiers and politicians. 
When I say the whole world, I do not exclude the vast region un- 
der Axis control. But their chiefs are known and someday it will 
seem beyond belief that these problems were treated with so little 
understanding and seriousness. The real chief is Baruch, the ad- 
viser of Roosevelt, whom he blackmails into obedience. Close to 
him stand three others as heads of this stupendous organization 
( which to a certain extent has absorbed the freemasons ) . One of 
these chiefs is Rabbi Wiseman [sic] of New York, but for us the 
most dangerous is Bernard Berenson, w r ho lives undisturbed in his 
villa at Settignano." 

Count: "I have heard about Berenson and know that he counts 
as an enemy of Italy, but what harm can he do now, isolated as 
he is? Is he not cut off from the others?" 

Duke: "That is where you are mistaken. Berenson is the most 
effective of them all and for that reason has decided to remain 
here. He had the idea as brilliant as it is simple: to use the Vati- 
can. He has encountered no difficulty in getting what he wanted 
because the Vatican, to exercise its activities in the Catholic 
world, needs a lot of money. It lived a good deal on American 
Catholicism. Nowadays this contribution has been reduced to a 
third, while at the same time its expenses have almost doubled. 
Who could make up the difference? International Jewry alone, 
which rushed to the rescue, and by that means got hold of the 
most powerful propaganda organ in the world. Thus the Church 
is nowadays an unconscious instrument of Jewry and freemasonry. 
Of this the last allocution of the Pope furnished dazzling proof. In 
the very center of both the Nazi and the Fascist parties there lurk 
most dangerous individuals whom the Church uses for its own 
ends with the excuse of imaginary religious persecutions and in- 
fringement of individual liberty. Only one Italian has understood 
this danger, Preziosi. It is comforting to see how this man's merits 
have been recognized and rewarded with the appointment of Min- 
ister of State. It leads me to hope that this Judeo-Vatican peril will 
be met in earnest, and that serious measures will be taken to fight 



JANUARY, 1Q43 115 

these enemies of ours whose arms are more potent and more 
deadly than the mechanical ones with which they have armed the 
Russian soldiers." 

The financier tries to explain the apparent successes of the 
Russians: 'The German front is not continuous. The forces are 
grouped in armies, islets of armed posts at strategic and vital 
points. In the winter months when the rivers multiply their pos- 
sibilities of access, the Russians break through the various groups 
and push forward for hundreds of kilometers. But they do not ex- 
tend their conquests, so that their effort is profitless on the con- 
trary, it helps the Axis because it weakens their resistance at vital 
spots and uses up their reserves of men and material. Their suc- 
cesses therefore are but the death throe of a body in its last ag- 
ony." 

The Count assures them that the food situation on the Conti- 
nent has improved considerably and that in eighteen months Eu- 
rope will have resolved the food problem by the exploitation of 
the Ukraine. Already there is more grain than necessary, more ce- 
reals, more fats; in short, the Axis has already reached autarchy, 
complete self -feeding. 

January 20th 

IN THE NOVEMBER Critica Benedetto Croce asks whether we 
may call ourselves Christians and decides that we must. We must, 
he writes, because the Church has been so marvelous despite all 
that can be said against it. 

His apology, which is a eulogy, will offend violent radicals and 
scarcely satisfy Churchmen. If the last are genuine believers and 
a bit thoughtful, they will not be disposed to accept Croce's de- 
fense of the Church on its merits, on what it has done for human- 
ity. With them it can be no question of "damn merit." The Church 
does not exist for man, but for the glory of God. 

Are we Christians? What else can we be, we Europeans who for 
eighteen hundred years have imbibed the teaching of Christian- 
ity! Unless we have shut ourselves up in spirit-tight ghettoes, like 



Il6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the Jews between 1000 and 1800 A.IX, we have not drawn a breath 
during eighteen hundred years that was not affected by its enfold- 
ing us, by its possessing us, by being the very condition of our ex- 
istence. 

Today everybody who has been brought up as a European, no 
matter in what country of the earth, is the product of that culture, 
that civilization which under the name of Christianity absorbed 
nearly all worth preserving that was left over of the Judeo-Hel- 
lenic-Roman world, and acting both as a nucleus and as a leaven, 
has shaped mankind, for good and for evil, into what we are now. 
It has not done for our hearts what it started out to do, what on 
the whole it always meant to do, what human nature would not let 
it do. It has had more success in shaping our minds, and to this 
day, despite rebellions and revolutions, few of us are entirely 
emancipated from its categories and very many still cuddle into 
its cosmos, as into a placenta. 

Christianity is still sovereign in the modes of our verbal expres- 
sion. We cannot utter a dozen words without some turn, some 
touch, some reference which goes back to Christian myth, Chris- 
tian liturgy, or Christian doctrine. It does not matter whether we 
are believing, let alone practicing, Christians. It holds true of So- 
viet Slavs and Nazi Teutons despite their bitter hatred of Chris- 
tianity, and of European Jews whether they have left the syna- 
gogue or still cling to it. For the present and who knows for how 
many further centuries to come we can no more get away from 
Christianity than from the earth's gravity, can no more exist with- 
out it than without the air we breathe. 

January zgth 

C. E. NORTON in a letter says he never touched English soil 
without feeling that he had come home. I can't say quite that, for 
Norton implies almost as if even on coming from America, Eng- 
land felt more like home. But arriving from the Continent, par- 
ticularly in my earlier years, I felt as if I was coming to a country 



JANUARY, 1943 117 

where things and people were almost as at home, I mean Boston, 
and New England. 

I never felt as a foreigner in England, and great was my shock 
when, happening to he there when the last war broke out, the po- 
lice treated me as one and subjected me to restrictions. 

It was a pity and a mistake. Americans should be made to feel 
at home in England and no difficulty should be put into the way 
of their getting there, nor should they be subjected on arrival to 
the same treatment as out-and-out foreigners. During the last war 
coming and going travelers were parked off into three divisions, 
British subjects, Americans, and foreigners. After the war Ameri- 
cans and foreigners were treated alike and I could not help re- 
senting it; particularly when landing at Harwich to be interro- 
gated by overworked inspectors with curtness if not rudeness. 

January 2Qth 

A FEW DAYS AGO we celebrated Funtykfs sixth birthday in the 
absence of his father, Igor Markevitch, and his mother, Kyra Ni- 
jinskaia. We presented him with his heart's desire, a magnificent 
helmet, a gun with a folding bayonet, a sword in its scabbard, and 
a belt. All this he had on him, when he came to luncheon, and a 
bow and an arrow as well. With some difficulty I persuaded him 
to take the helmet off his head and to put it as a centerpiece on the 
table. He was so excited that he could not eat, and scarcely lis- 
tened when we drank to his health. Even in bed he would not be 
separated from his panoply and insisted on having it in his grasp. 
You would think intoxication and illusion could go no further. 

A couple of afternoons later, arrayed in his martial magnifi- 
cence, his nurse took him for walk on the road. A squad of soldiers 
were passing and seeing him shouted: "You are one of us and you 
must come with us! Come along now, right away!" Funtyki hid 
behind his nurse, crying he would not go with soldiers, that he 
was a persona onesta. 

What did he mean by the words "persona onesta"? I asked him 



Il8 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the next day and he answered that it was the same as respectable, 
in other words, the late Roman, the medieval and Renaissance 
Italian as well as French honnete, as it was used as late as a hun- 
dred years ago. 

Funtyki was thoroughly frightened, put off his soldierly trap- 
pings, and has not reverted to them, confining himself to the bow 
and arrow. He was so afraid the military would come after him 
that he begged the servants if they did to deny his presence. 

What does all this mean, if not that he is perfectly well aware 
that he was playing soldier, but not the least illuded into imagin- 
ing or even believing that he was one? At his age I should have 
abandoned everything to join the troops I used to see drilling and 
parading. Thus even with six-year-olds, temperament and disposi- 
tion differ. 

February loth 

DID THE CULT of the Madonna not so much as Virgin but as 
Theotokos, as Mother of God, go hand in hand with the increase 
of sacerdotal celibacy? If it did, one would be tempted to inquire 
whether it was not a return to the worship of the Magna Mater. 
This worship was perhaps not quite dead at the time of the Coun- 
cil of Ephesus, and the majority of the bishops who proclaimed 
the Theotokos were from the lands where the Magna Mater had 
been worshiped for millennia. Her priests were celibate, but celi- 
bate in deed, not merely in doctrine, for they were castrated. 

February 20th 

There are people who deplore the breakup of the unity of the 
Christian world. What is it they regret, I mean what kind of unity? 
Is it unity as such? If that is it, why do they not lament over the 
passing of a far more comprehensive, far more extensive unity 
with a uniformity far more complete, ever so much more perva- 
sive the union, namely, of the ancient world under Rome as it 
was, say, under Trajan? Or is it the unity of dogma of faith, o 



FEBRUARY, 1943 119 

ritual? But there never was a unity in these matters comparable 
to what medievalizers would have us believe. 

To begin with, there was the division between the Latin world 
and the rest of Christendom. Even in the Latin world, exeept for 
short periods, there was no actual unity except in one respect. 
This, the only unity which imposed itself during the Merovingian 
and Carolingian periods, and which the Catholic Church down to 
our own day insists upon and fights for, is the use of Latin wher- 
ever practicable, wherever possible. As for the rest of Christen- 
dom, each language group ended sooner or later by going its own 
way, although the reason given, the excuse made was always of 
dogma, ritual, or both. 

To return to our to the Latin world as a matter of fact the 
Catholic Church never before enjoyed such complete, such far- 
reaching, deeply penetrating uniformity as increasingly it has 
since the Council of Trent and the triumph of the Jesuits. Since 
that Council the Church has needed unity and uniformity more 
and ever more to fight open and organized opposition and seems 
to have attained it. It keeps it because, out of growing indifference, 
opposition is slackening, I mean opposition from within. It would 
seem that Catholics, like non-Catholics, have one and only one 
real religion nowadays, the religion of exasperated nationalism. 

If uniformity is what certain people hanker for then surely we 
have it now as never before, whether in extent or in intensity. Ev- 
erywhere on the face of the earth there is the same lust for its 
prizes, the same trust in government as the power best able to pro- 
vide them, the same disregard for all human beings outside our 
own country, the same freedom from all superstitions, prejudices, 
considerations that would militate against appetites and ambi- 
tions. We employ the same vocabularies, and we use them to vi- 
tuperate others and to flatter ourselves with the same cynical dis- 
regard to the suddenness of the change-over. 

As for material and cultural civilization, when have they been 
remotely so uniform? Go to Manchester or Mandalay, Calcutta 
or Cape Town, Berlin or Boston, Baltimore or Buenos Aires, the 
same cinemas, the same radios, the same self -belauding speeches, 



12O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the same manners and customs, the same newspapers, the same 
dances and drinks. If a universal language could be imposed, dif- 
ferences would vanish, and a smooth, slack, soft uniformity would 
adorn the surface of life over nine tenths of what is now dry land. 

July 2jt\i 

EVENING BEFORE LAST after dining at the villino with Igor and 
de Simony we got back in time to hear the German radio trans- 
mission for Austria from London. After a while the usual propa- 
ganda-tinged war news was followed by the announcement that 
the King of Italy had accepted the resignation of Mussolini, had 
appointed Badoglio to succeed him, but that the war would con- 
tinue. My movement was of joy at the first words, slight disap- 
pointment over the second phrase, and distress over the last. 

Yesterday morning the barber appeared and told me what re- 
joicing there was in Florence, how people embraced in the streets 
without knowing each other, and how the feeble attempts at re- 
bellion on the part of the Fascists had been foiled. He himself was 
drunk with happiness. In the course of the day I learned that the 
departure of Mussolini had been received everywhere with accla- 
mations as relief from an incubus, and that the gayest flags were 
hung out of the windows in token of gladness. 

Toward eleven yesterday forenoon Carla Garabelli, the daugh- 
ter of the former Prime Minister V. E. Orlando, appeared and 
stayed till after luncheon. She began with indignation over the 
way the proclamation of the King was being received in America 
as she learnt from the radio at 6 A.M. Clearly the Allies would not 
understand what royalty meant to Italians, how it alone could 
hold them together, how upon it alone could be built a new Italy. 
She had suspected something must be up because her father, al- 
though he had no professional duties calling him to Rome, went 
there thrice in a few days. He is there now. 

Later in the day the radio proclaimed the state of siege, includ- 
ing curfew, and decreed that all front doors in towns must remain 



JULY, 1943 121 

open and lit through the entire night. The case del Fascia had 
been shut up everywhere and Fascist inscriptions are already be- 
ing painted and hammered out on walls and house fronts. 

In short, the revolution, like all revolutions, including the 
French and Soviet, begins with roses, roses all the way and rarely 
a spray of rue. I fervently hope that it may proceed as bloodlessly 
and quietly and in as orderly a way as it has begun. 

If it does and I expect it to one may ask now, as I always 
asked, if a similar act by the King and the army would not have 
had the same result at any time during the last twenty years. 
Amendola assured me in 1924 that if the King on the occasion of 
the march on Rome had proclaimed the state of siege and had op- 
posed a few battalions to the marchers, we should have had no 
Fascism. In more recent years Badoglio is rumored to have prom- 
ised the King that he could put an end to Fascism with a regiment. 
Why was it not done? Was it the King alone who would not have 
it? They were certain that any attempt to get rid of the Fascists 
by force would lead to civil war and toward disaster. Patience! Let 
Fascism age, decay, and die a natural death. 

In the evening, Igor joined us and we listened to English and 
American radio news. They proclaimed their intention to go on 
fighting the Fascist King of Italy and the Fascist Badoglio. This 
morning Alda comes from town and is indignant that they have 
not already announced the abolition of racial enactments, and the 
decrees about listening to Allied radio, etc., etc. 

They do not realize that the first call on the new government is 
to secure order and prevent rebellion on the part of the more 
headstrong Fascists, relying on passive resistance from the others 
as well as the retributive popular justice against more obnoxious 
members of the outgoing regime. Not only Igor and Alda but the 
Allies should understand this, give the new government credit for 
knowing what they are about, and have patience. 

I myself am now thinking that it may have been wise not to be 
silent at the first announcement, but to pretend that the war 
would go on. It surely cannot stop on the Italian side until they 



122, RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

see what happens in Sicily, what German forces remain in Italy, 
and what chances there are of getting rid of them at small outlay 
of Italian life and property. A few days may decide. 

Meanwhile, all sorts of rumors reach me from the "servants' 
hall"; that Badoglio was in full understanding with the Allies, who 
would stop bombing Italy; that Hitler committed suicide yester- 
day; that Mussolini and Ciano have both been arrested to save 
them from violence, and that Scorza has been killed. More au- 
thentic and interesting reports are sent by Carla to the effect that 
the ministers now coming into power are trained for their several 
jobs, and that the former chief-of-police Senise, much liked and 
trusted by non-Fascists, has returned to his post. 

July 2Qth 

DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY H. was here. He is a young German 
art historian and has been working with the German armistice 
commission at Turin. It seems to be composed of retired colonels 
and generals. H., although anti-Nazi, is treu und fromm in his feel- 
ings toward the army, and absorbs their opinions with reverence. 
Well, he said that the withdrawal of Italy from the war would be 
an alleviation for Germany, for Italy has never been more than a 
dead weight. On the other hand, they would not tolerate North 
Italy being turned into territory from which Allied aircraft and 
eventually armies could attack Germany. If, therefore, North Italy 
was not neutralized they, the Germans, would defend it tooth and 
nail, no matter what the destruction entailed upon monuments 
and what miseries inflicted on the population. 

The same evening we heard transmitted to Austria more of 
Churchill's speech. So far as I could make out, it betrayed no lit- 
tle comprehension of the difficulties attending the emerging non- 
Fascist government, counseled patience with the Italian people, 
and warned against the danger of turning them into intractable 
soreheads. 

What I gathered of Roosevelt's last utterance sounded less 
statesmanlike. The present Italian government has its hands full 



JULY, 1943 123 

keeping outs and ins from massacring each other, and has no time 
to think of punishing offenders. It is a pity Roosevelt started with 
that as his first greeting to the new Italy. 

It is a pity also, if this new regime wishes to gain the sympathy 
of the Anglo-Saxon world, that it does not hasten to abrogate the 
racial enactments, and does not free political prisoners, whether 
in jails or concentration camps. It is a pity too that, if I may judge 
by the glimpse I had just now of the Florence Nazione, it allows 
the press to talk nonsense about American internal conditions, and 
to publish the fantastic claims of Germans and Japs regarding 
their air and sea victories over the Allies. 



July soth 

NOT A STRANGER only like myself but most of my Italian friends 
have been impressed by the way the peasants, the artisans and 
small tradespeople have kept their heads over imperialism, an- 
nexationism, and nationalism. The answer occurred to me yester- 
day in the following way. 

The woman who valets me is a remarkably intelligent as well 
as levelheaded person of canonical age. Being from upper Val- 
darno, she speaks agreeable Tuscan and her handwriting is excel- 
lent. I supposed therefore that she had had considerable school- 
ing. I happened to quote some lines of Dante that suited what we 
were discussing, and I noticed that she did not take them in at 
once, and looked vague at the mention of the poet. I asked 
whether she had not learned about him at school. No, she had left 
after learning to read and write. 

Then it flashed on my mind that she had not been influenced by 
the catchwords of the elementary history books, not poisoned by 
the rhetoric of writers, that she remained innocent of the high- 
falutin, bulging, pompous periods that Italians acquire at school 
and college, and feed on for the rest of their lives. 

Books might be written about the influence of rhetoric in all 
shapes over thought and feeling, and worse still over action. Per- 
haps nothing separates and unites nations so much as their differ- 



124 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ent rhetorics. Ours (Anglo-Saxon) remains Biblical still, but the 
Italians, French, Spaniards, and Rumanians are common sufferers 
from the same rhetoric. This common rhetoric goes so far as to 
make them believe that, although they have so little else in com- 
mon, the\' are of the same "*Latin" race, whereas they are merely 
victims of the same Latin rhetoric. 



October 2$d 

ALMOST THREE MONTHS have slipped by without a word of 
mine in these pages. There are various reasons. I have a limited 
amount of energy, and hold a limited quantity of ink. Both were 
being used up on a book I am writing. At the same time, the con- 
fusion of the situation, the endless rumors that reached me, each 
contradicting the other, the continuous vapor or, if you like, smoke 
of my own reflections, were at once discouraging to the effort of 
putting them in black and white and far too numerous to be writ- 
ten down, unless I took all day for it. 

An hour or two after the feux de joie and the delirium of the 
servants, who while we were dining out of doors announced the 
armistice, the confidential chauffeur of Carla appeared with or- 
ders to carry me off at once. It was far too sudden, and Nicky 
would not hear of my leaving so precipitously. The decision 
turned out happily, for the place I was to be taken to would not 
have suited the requirements of my age-weak flesh. Carla feared 
that the Germans, taking possession, would allow the local Fas- 
cists to return to power and wreak their will upon well-known 
anti-Fascists. Besides, there was danger that the Germans on their 
side would treat me not only as an American but as enemy num- 
ber one, the enemy for whom and with whom there were no pos- 
sible pacts, namely, a Jew. 

So a couple of days later, the Marchese Filippo Serlupi, Minis- 
ter to the Holy See of the Republic of San Marino and enjoying 
the privilege due to an active diplomat, came and brought me and 
Nicky here, where I am now writing. 

It is a villa built on the site of the house where nearly five hun- 



OCTOBER, 11)43 125 

drecl years ago lived the Platonist Marsilio Ficioo, It stands high 
over the palace of Careggi built by Cosimo de'Medici on the brow 
of the Monte Vecchio, which towers over it and shelters it com- 
pletely from the cruel north wind that we suffer from at I TattL 
In consequence, the house and the grounds, wood and tilth, enjoy 
all the sunshine there is, and a climate like the more sheltered 
parts of the French Riviera. The trees, olive, oak, ilex, pine, cy- 
press, and mimosa, take the most shapely and even romantic as- 
pects. Everywhere they cluster as in a Titian, and one is tempted 
to wonder whether they are planted after his model, or whether 
he found them thus in favored places in the Veneto, and painted 
them from nature. Then there is a sweep of sky that I miss from 
my own house. I enjoy watching the soft sunlit vapors curling up 
after sunrise and turning into gentle clouds. I grow ecstatic over 
the sunsets which I see here, not reflected only but in full splen- 
dor. They are sublime, they are gorgeous, they are romantic, they 
are passionate, they are tender, they are menacing, they are reas- 
suring, they are apocalyptic; everything except indifferent. 

The grounds as they climb the hillside are spaced with grassy 
terraces which are almost as soft and springy as English lawns. 
The peasants seem to like their work, greet one pleasantly, and 
are ready for a chat. They are well-informed and full of sense. One 
family has its own radio and listens intelligently. Its head is an old 
man of eighty-six who tells me every day, as I come across him in 
the fields, that he still enjoys life and would feel perfectly well but 
for a flat foot. It is singular, by the way, and greatly to the credit 
of the Tuscan peasants with whom I come in contact, how little 
they are disposed to complain, and how ready to express satisfac- 
tion with their lot and its incidents. 

Above the house, the well-wooded hill rises sharply to a flat top 
crowned by a towered farmhouse. It was the goal of our walks 
when we lived on the Lungarno in Florence, and used to come out 
on foot to climb up from the stream and walk down again by the 
Via Bolognese. I speak of more than fifty years ago, when there 
were no houses beyond the Mugnone except ancient villas. Now, 
alas! a huge suburb has grown up, filling the valley all the way to 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION" 

Sesto with the tenements of the poor, with factories around huge 
cylinders as hideous as gasometers and with belching chimneys. 
Besides, the bottom of the hill is crowded with the buildings of the 
hospital city which wreck the nearer part of the view although 
no doubt the site is well chosen for its climate. 

I recall bringing William James here I mean to the towered 
farm. He hated walking between high walls because they shut out 
the view. I protested that one enjoyed it all the more for not hav- 
ing it constantly before one. He would not listen. It was churlish 
to deprive one of the view. It made him mad. 

I am not writing memoirs of my past, or about the friends and 
acquaintances of the present, and must not let myself be tempted 
to speak in detail of the great psychologist's stay in Florence, or 
of my hosts and fellow guests in this and a neighboring villa, more 
or less like myself in hiding, alia macchia, as it is called. Macchia 
is the Italian for bush. Dam alia macchia means to take to the 
woods when one is wanted by the police. Just now, however, as so 
many are in hiding, macchia means a variety of things. For ci- 
vilians, not being in their own homes when the police come for 
them. As many of these officials are far from zealous in the interest 
of the republican Fascists, they are glad not to find the subject 
they had orders to arrest, and do not take much trouble to discover 
him. Of course, when the authorities really want a person they can 
get him, as happened some days ago with all and sundry who had 
connections with royalty, particularly as ladies and gentlemen in 
waiting. Some who could not be found in their houses have been 
ferreted out easily and jailed. 

It is hard to imagine what advantage the Italian Quisling re- 
gime for that is what Fascism is now reduced to hopes to get 
out of putting against it court people and their friends, the greater 
part of aristocratic society in the country. If it is done to win over 
the lower orders it is a mistake, for these orders in Italy, excepting 
some rabid Communists and half -educated intellectuals, have no 
feelings of resentment and still less of hatred against the upper 
classes. This action can therefore be no more than a sfogo an 
outburst rather a sign of helplessness than of power. The persons 



OCTOBER, 1943 127 

arrested may suffer discomfort or even worse for some weeks, 
They will come out realizing, at last, what was behind the regime 
that the majority of them approved, supported, or tolerated. 
Among them, as a matter of fact, are ardent propagandists who 
did no little to spread the Fascist gospel l>oth in England and in 
America. 

Thus many who fear what the Fascist rump may do in their 
brief last moment of sunshine are alia macchia in fairly comforta- 
ble quarters, hiding neither from Germans alone nor from Fas- 
cists alone, but from Fascists taking advantage of the German 
occupation to do their worst. As this worst can happen only under 
the German occupation, it is they, the Germans, who are held 
responsible, and it does not tend to increase the number of those 
who favor them. 

Indeed, nothing surprises me more than the universal hatred of 
the Germans that is revealed by recent events. It is manifested 
in every class, except perhaps the highest, most of all in the peas- 
antry, the artisans, and the "lower orders'" generally. It is based on 
fear, for it is believed that Germans without exception are capable 
of every cruelty, every atrocity, every robbery, every theft, and 
not merely while doing their duty collectively as commanded but 
as private individuals. 

So it is accepted as beyond question that before leaving Naples 
they fired the university library and deliberately poured petrol 
over the books, to make sure that nothing remained unbumed. 
Every kind of vehicle is fair booty, but they are particularly keen 
on smart and powerful cars. They do not steal them oh, no, in- 
deed. They leave a receipt, and payment in some sort of marks is to 
be effected after the war. They carry away everything made of 
wool, mattresses included, and all other apparel and footgear. They 
make no bones about emptying wardrobes, and show a preference 
for silk pajamas, underwear, and ties. These appeal to the officer 
class of all grades. 

The real macchia is naturally the woods and hills and any more 
inaccessible nook or haunt. These are said to be full of soldiers 
and officers who will not fight under this regime. Also police and 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



cambinieri who, out of patriotism or, perchance, prudence, prefer 
to keep away. Numbers, too, of youngsters liable to service, or 
fearing forced transport to Germany. Also war prisoners, English 

chiefly. 

The Germans and Fascists together do their utmost to capture 
or disperse these bands, but so far with no great success. The peas- 
ants are almost to a man on the side of the refugees and prisoners, 
including the British. They feed them and shelter them and help 
them to get away. Even shepherds driving their flocks to the Ma- 
remma from our own hills will dress British soldiers with their 
own clothes and take them along. Persons of the upper classes, too, 
are said to be contributing a great deal with money and organiza- 
tion to feed, clothe, and house "these brigands and Communists." 
It is reported that they are receiving arms, and that they crawl, 
creep, and drift towards the Allied forces whom they hope to join. 

Although I have been in a macchia de luxe for six weeks, I have 
not written a word either in these pages or on the three books I 
have on the stocks. After more than two years without leaving my 
grounds, except for visits to the dentist, I felt the change on com- 
ing here as if I had gone to a distant and softer land. I relaxed in a 
way that spoke of overwork and tension. I more than relaxed: I 
collapsed, not nervously, but physically. I was too tired to touch 
a book connected with my work. My hosts did not force me to 
strenuous conversation. So I spent the days strolling gently on 
these charming slopes, chatting, reading, and being read to. 

Little by little an itch for something more strenuous began to 
trouble me. First it was for more serious reading. Then for re- 
search. At last I am writing, having got the better of difficulties 
that I found absurdly disconcerting. 

I am reminded of what a Belgian friend told me early in the 
last war. He had been sent over to England to see how his hum- 
bler refugee countrymen were faring. He discovered that they 
were ill-fed and disgruntled. Were they not provided with suffi- 
cient foodstuffs and was fuel wanting? Neither, but the women 
could not cook because they did not have their own pots and pans. 
So it has been here with me. I am so spoiled in my own home, with 



OCTOBER, 1943 129 

just the right desk, the perfect light, the drawers and pigeonholes 
for paper and slips, for pen and pencil, that here where everything 
of the kind is missing, I have been put off from making the effort 
I always have to make before starting to write. 

And after all, what have I to say? Rumors only gossip that 
reaches me and my own reflections based on a certain acquaint- 
ance with international affairs, history, German and French and 
Italian character and politics. All was confusion and contradiction. 
I heard nothing convincing, even when assured that the informa- 
tion came straight from the horse's mouth. It generally turned out 
that it was handed on by somebody who had had it from some- 
body else who, perhaps, had it firsthand. It was like hearing of 
ghosts w r ho appeared to somebody one's interlocutor had seen, but 
never to that gossip himself. 

In one way all these rumors, alarming, frightening, or comfort- 
ing, and inspired by wishful thinking, were profitable. They con- 
firmed the conviction I had been reaching that we can never know 
why things happened, seldom how, and rarely as much as what 
not, at least, till they are over, and an event has turned out conclu- 
sive, a fait accompli. Until that moment, not even the principal 
actors, neither a Hitler, nor a Stalin, nor a Churchill, nor a Roose- 
velt, knows exactly what is going on. Put in this way, it is, of 
course, an obvious commonplace. 

Therefore history should not be too busy about the Why, as is 
too often the case with German-minded books, nor too strenuous 
about the How, but insist on finding out the exact What. 

So far as one now can tell, the Gran Consiglio met and was fol- 
lowed by the dismissal of Mussolini. After six weeks or so the 
Badoglio government announced the armistice and the threat to 
all and sundry who should oppose it. This, of course, was equiva- 
lent to a declaration of war against Germany. 

I suspected that something was being prepared to upset Musso- 
lini. It was rumored that Orlando and Cini and presumably Grand! 
were in touch with Badoglio. I cannot yet understand what in- 
duced some seventeen members of the Gran Consiglio to vote 
against the Duce, thereby jeopardizing their own position, per- 



13O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

haps their lives. It would raise one's estimate of these men, and 
make one think better of politicians, if one could believe they 
were actuated by no other motive than the public weal. 

Different and contradictory versions are current as to just what 
happened at the Gran Consiglio. It seems that, expecting trouble, 
Mussolini brought with him the incriminating documents he had 
gathered against his colleagues. When, in his wrath at their oppo- 
sition, he was about to begin to read them, he was asked why he 
did not reveal them before. 

Conflicting stories, too, about the way Mussolini behaved on 
his arrest: some saying that he wept, and others that he was 
stony. Some reported that he was confined in a fort where the 
heat was suffocating, and that the Pope intervened to procure him 
better treatment. According to others he was carried out to sea, 
but never allowed to land. 

Followed every kind of rumor about the fate of Ciano, of his 
"Augusta" Edda, of Grandi and others; and to this day I have 
heard nothing convincing about their whereabouts. 

Just what was going on during the six weeks between the dis- 
missal of the ex-omnipotent Duce and the armistice I have not 
been able to gather. 

Could the King-Emperor and his new Prime Minister really be- 
lieve that they still might carry on the war on the side of the Na- 
zis? If not, did they not realize that for them as for every Italian 
the problem was how to get rid of the Germans without turning 
Italy into a battlefield? Were they trying to induce their allies to 
leave the country, bag and baggage, so that the Anglo-Saxons 
might occupy and use it as a springboard for the invasion of the 
Vaterland, or at least to use Italian airdromes for attacking it from 
the air? It remains a mystery that the King and Badoglio did not 
wait till the Allies could have landed in force to go against the 
Germans, at the moment that these heard of Mussolini's dismissal, 
and of the simultaneous declaration of the armistice. Taken by 
surprise, the Germans might have had to withdraw in haste, if not 
from the entire peninsula at least to the valley of the Po. I suspect 
that the King, to save the dynasty, and perhaps the empire as well, 



OCTOBER, 1943 

had some scheme of his own. Whatever it was, it did not work; 
and finally when the armistice did come, the way it was brought 
about exposed Italy not only to accusations of treachery but to 
ridicule as well. 
The German pretense that they were taken unawares by the 

armistice is absurd in view of the fact that thev had made all their 

f 

preparations to occupy all of Italy that was not yet in Allied 
hands. Although they were anxious to set up a Quisling or Vichy 
regime to help them out in local administration, and with them to 
share the blame of unpleasantnesses, and although they hastened 
to liberate Mussolini, with whom and his republician Fascists they 
pretend to be allies and not conquerors, they nevertheless act 
exactly as in Norway and France. They are the masters and the 
local authorities dare not take a step without orders from the Kom- 
mandantur, except when the Blackshirts want to do something 
against private persons unfriendly or disaffected. In rounding up 
recalcitrant Italian troops or deserters, the Blackshirts do the spy- 
ing and, guided by them, the Germans, when they feel like it, do 
the shooting and killing. 

This must surely open, if need still were, the eyes of the popula- 
tion to the weakness of the pretended Fascist republicans, and 
the small account the Germans make of them. It is, by the way, 
rather mysterious that the Duce, who used to love to strut and 
utter oracular, crisp declarations and commands has spoken but 
once or twice since his liberation and then in a husky voice, utter- 
ing banal phrases so as to leave one doubting whether it was he 
at all. 

It is believed by many that he and Graziani are both dead, the 
latter assassinated by the Germans, and the Duce dying under an 
operation necessitated by a mortal wound inflicted while they 
were rescuing him. From two "perfectly certain sources'* this has 
been communicated to me. As for Graziani, the Nazis suspected 
him of being in league with Badoglio to do what he could for 
Italy during the German occupation. 

As they do not "intend" to hold Rome against the Allies, it is 
said that they, the same Germans, mean to carry the Pope away 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



with them. When they announced this decision, His Holiness is 
said to have answered that they would take away no Pope but 
only Cardinal Paeeili; that his abdication was ready and that the 
moment he was seized, the election to the Papacy of Archbishop 
Spellman of New York would be made public. A conclave is sup- 
posed to have been already held, and the smoke of the burned 
voting slips has been seen by the Romans. 

A further version is that the Germans have let the Pope know 
that, not being able to answer for his safety, they would carry him, 
his court and chancellery to the principate of Liechtenstein, of 
which he was to be temporal sovereign during his exile from the 
Vatican. 

The Germans here, as in other countries, seem to be carrying 
away all of those who might resist them, or who could serve their 
several countries when liberated. Persons like Vittorio Cini have 
been transported to Germany for safekeeping. It is even rumored 
that they have already shot him. All the Italian troops who have 
refused to co-operate with them have been packed off in cattle 
vans to Germany. People speak of a press gang snatching individ- 
uals in the streets and cafes to be sent to the same land as laborers. 

Whatever the conduct of the Nazis may be, that of the Fascists 
is worse. They miss no trick to make themselves not only hated 
but despised. They behave foolishly in things great and small. 
They might have announced that they would have no dealings 
with the present King, and many would be with them; but to de- 
clare a republic is to alienate the possessive and upper classes still 
attached to monarchy, whether out of sentiment, interest, or the 
belief that monarchy is a guarantee for property and privilege. At 
the same time, this declaration automatically transfers to the King 
all who wanted to get rid of him because of his agreement with 
Mussolini for twenty-one years. 

So much for big mistakes. As for smaller ones, they are innu- 
merable, consisting chiefly of doing the dirty work for the Germans, 
as well as performing every kind of pettily vindictive act. Of this 
nature have been the numerous arrests of high-placed people. In- 
deed, I am told that the Kommandantur has forbidden further ar- 



OCTOBER, 1943 133 

rests without their express permission. The Fascist prefecture is 
said to be furious and to he talking of the German Consul as a 
monster, as a public enemy who must be got out of the way. 

It would seem that out of disgust with the behavior of the Black- 
shirts, the Germans are getting almost popular. They are here to 
win the war or, at least, to defend their country. The others be- 
have like the mean gangsters and rancorous proletarians that the 
overwhelming majority of them have always been. 

Meanwhile, the snail's pace at which the Allies are advancing up 
the Peninsula is distressing. As yet it inspires good-natured criti- 
cism, but it may turn sour and bitter if it does not soon improve. 
The Allied radio speaks apologetically of the difficulties of the ter- 
rain. That means that they had not given it sufficient study a 
sorry confession and all but incredible. The Germans are mining 
every furlong of the roads they are leaving. Should not that have 
been foreseen? 

Did they expect a walkover, and that the Nazis would not de- 
fend the territory that was serving them, the continental part as 
shield, and the peninsular one as spear, to prevent or delay the 
invasion of their own country? 

Why did the Anglo-Saxons not invade Yugoslavia, where they 
would have had the full support not only of the extremely warlike 
and apparently well-organized and armed natives but of entire 
Italian armies as well? It looks almost as if they followed the ap- 
parently easiest, the obvious way. Having taken Sicily, it must 
have seemed a matter of course to cross over to the mainland and 
march north. 

I speak as an outsider. There may be cogent reasons unknown 
to me for the campaign in Italy. But I am equally at sea about the 
rest of the affair. There must be fully three million soldiers in 
Great Britain, armed, equipped and ready for battle. Why, then, is 
no landing on a grand scale attempted over the Channel? A suc- 
cessful invasion of France and Belgium would surely lead to the 
heart of Germany much quicker than through Italy or even the 
Balkans. Am I entirely wrong? Are the difficulties there still un- 
surmountable? 



134 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

I am tempted to believe, at times, that the Anglo-Saxons want 
to shed their own blood as little as possible, while both Germany 
and Russia are letting themselves bleed white. 

Something of that sort has been urged in defense of French mil- 
itary tactics since the last war at all costs to spare French lives. 
No doubt it is now being preached by Lavallists: that after all 
France will come out of this war with small loss of life and far less 
sacrifice of wealth than if she had taken a full share in hostilities. 

October 2gth 

AUGUST STH LAST the director of the German Institute in Flor- 
ence, Friedrich Kriegbaum, having expressed a desire to see me, 
came to lunch. Such was the state of mind of all of us that I did 
not have to guess what he was coming for. It was to procure my 
influence in favor of saving the German Institute of Art History 
from confiscation or even dispersal by the Allies. He was in touch 
with the German authorities, military as well as civil, an intimate 
friend of the German Consul (of whom more later), and it was 
clear that none of them expected to remain here many days. In 
fact, a few weeks later all German residents were being advised, 
urged, and even forced to leave, and did leave. 

Why did the Allies fail to appear? They were expected to land 
anywhere and everywhere, near Rome, at Grosseto, at Piombino, 
at Leghorn. Even a day or two after the armistice the prefecture 
here let it be known that a force had been landed at Leghorn, was 
already at Pistoia, and in a few hours would be here. 

Instead, it was the Germans who had moved inland to occupy 
Florence and adjacent places. 

What palsied the movement of the Allies, I, and the majority of 
dwellers in this paradise, ask again and again, and discuss with- 
out ceasing. Was it the shifty and shilly-shallying Italian King- 
Emperor, was it the diplomats with their Byzantine finessing, or 
was it the English tendency to refuse to fight until the enemy had 
every advantage? 



OCTOBER, 1943 135 

Yet I wish Italy would be accepted as a full ally. It would 
strengthen the authority of the King and his cabinet, which, de- 
spite every fault, is the least bad rallying point just now. Italians 
w r ould be readier to clo their utmost against the Germans and even 
to fight alongside of the Allies if they were assured they would not 
have to pay materially or morally for a war which, as Hitler him- 
self as good as declared, was wanted only by Mussolini. It would 
encourage Hungary and Rumania, perhaps even the Bulgars, to 
follow. 

What is the alternative? Granted that the ruling classes and the 
people, too, were held responsible for having made war against 
the Allies. What ways have these of punishing them? None of 
them would take as a gift a foot of Italian territory; and it is to be 
hoped they will not allow their half -barbarous Slovene, Croat, and 
Serb adherents to annex any district that is not overwhelmingly 
Slav. Imposing reparations, indemnities whence can they be 
drawn in a country so bankrupt financially and so incapable, as it 
will be for a long time to come, of producing exportable goods or 
capital in adequate quantities? 

International affairs will be placed on a better footing when it is 
understood that there is no way of punishing a people for the 
crimes of its rulers. You might conceivably kill them off, seventy- 
five million Germans, forty-five million Italians, etc., etc. What 
would you do with the void thus created? Have you enough men 
and means to replace the energies, mental and moral, that you 
have destroyed? Not likely. You simply would have got rid of so 
much genius and talent that would stimulate your own, and in- 
jured your trade to the extent that you would have slain your po- 
tential customers. 

There is no way of punishing a people that does not boomerang 
back on yourself. 

Wherefore the moment a people begins to show signs of pre- 
paring to run amok, stop it even by force of arms. See what it has 
cost England, whose government is chiefly responsible for having 
encouraged Mussolini and saying: "Good doggie, nice doggie, 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



136 

only growls a little bit, will never hurt anybody," until both he and 
Hitler were ready to spring, with the results that we now are en- 
joying. 

There is no more suicidal doctrine than what has prevailed in 
my lifetime the notion that no one has a right to interfere with 
the internal affairs of another country. It is, by the way, a doctrine 
followed only towards countries of considerable strength. In my 
own memory there was constant interference in Turkey, in Bul- 
garia, in Yugoslavia, and by Americans almost anywhere and ev- 
erywhere to the south of us, in the Western Hemisphere. Immedi- 
ate intervention may be annoying, may even be expensive. Yet 
think of the consequences of letting trouble pile up till you can 
stand it no longer, and you have to fight as we are fighting now. 
How small would have been the cost in lives and property and 
every kind of cultural value if Mussolini had been nipped in the 
bud, long before he played the part of the ape that opened the 
cage for the tiger Hitler. 

As it is impossible to punish peoples without injury to ourselves, 
it would seem that the policy of the Allies should be to reconcile 
them, beginning with those most likely to yield to immediate kind- 
ness. Thus between the dismissal of Mussolini and the armistice 
I should have tried the following experiment: While bombarding 
war industries I should have showered from the sky millions of 
tons of chocolate, coffee, sugar, rice, cigarettes, etc., etc. I am al- 
most certain that the result would have proved so favorable to our 
cause that the tragicomic return of Mussolini and the ghoulish 
reappearance of Fascism would have found no trace of the favor 
that it is still to a certain extent enjoying. 

I am told, however, that yesterday, October 28th, to celebrate 
the 2ist anniversary of the march on Rome there were scarcely 
two hundred Blackshirts in the procession, and most of them raga- 
muffins. The raging prefect is said to have had the air alarm 
blown, so that the public should not see how few and of what kind 
the republican Fascists of Florence were. Indeed, to procure ad- 
herents to the militia they have gone so far as to take the lads out 



OCTOBER, 1943 137 

of the reformatories, and to ami them with guns and pistols. These 
parade in open ears singing Fascist songs, and insult and provoke 
the passers-by. It will be recalled that when the Soviets began to 
massacre the upper classes, they were accused of employing boys 
of sixteen or seventeen, because at that age these are supposed to 
have no human feelings and no capacity for pity. 

This is far from being the only practice of the Fascists at all 
times, and most of all now, that is exactly parallel to Bolshevism. 
Thus, great estates were taken over for the benefit of the so-called 
proletariat the which often enough, in ways as strange as for the 
Heathen Chinee in Bret Harte's ballad, ended in aggrandizing the 
already vast possessions of prominent suddenly enriched *liier- 
archs" of the regime. A few days ago an estate near Ravenna was 
taken over and another near Siena, that of the Chigi-Zondadaris. 
Then there is raging a crusade against individuals, like Cini and 
Volpi. Of course they enriched themselves as perhaps would not 
have been so easy in England, or even in America, in the last 
twenty years; but there is no reason to think that they did more 
than take that advantage of a situation which any financier and 
promoter would have taken quite legally, under the same con- 
ditions. 

This conduct of the Fascists is what they have been practicing 
ever since they came into their own twenty years ago. Yet this is 
what England, leading the procession, followed, as always in Eu- 
ropean matters, by the U. S. A., aided and abetted because Mus- 
solini was a shield and buckler against Bolshevism. And the Fas- 
cist rump still has the impudence to proclaim that it is fighting 
Bolshevism. 

A distressing trait of human nature comes to the top in times 
like these. We were told by a German officer that his fellow vic- 
tims of Nazism were horrified, when they occupied Paris, by the 
number of charges brought against each other by people in fair 
standing. They accused one another of anything that might in- 
duce Germans to act. So it is here now, and it seems that the Ger- 
mans are disgusted. 



138 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



October goth 

BEFORE THE OCCUPATION by the Nazis I felt sure Florence 
would not be bombarded. I was less confident afterwards but 
hoped it would not occur. I was not a little surprised when, on 
September 25th, out walking towards noon, we saw Allied aircraft 
forming in triangles and throwing down bombs over the town. It 
is my belief that the aviators were returning from a serious expedi- 
tion and, without previous thought of doing so, happened to see a 
train passing along the edge of the town and thought it would be 
fun to pot it. 

The result was a sad one. It destroyed the lives and the houses 
of innocent people. Among them was Kriegbaum, whom I have al- 
ready mentioned. He was calling on the Viennese connoisseur 
Planiscig when a bomb fell and killed him. He was one of the most 
thoroughly humanized and cultured individuals of my acquaint- 
ance, gentle and tender, incapable of evil, and was doing nothing 
but good. He was one in a thousand, and if Germany had seventy- 
five thousand like him she would be worth saving and cherishing. 
Unfortunately, it seems impossible to bring them together, unite 
them in common action. Man seems to find it so easy to organize 
for evil, and so difficult to unite and remain united for good! 

To return to Kriegbaum: not long ago he went through two ter- 
rific air raids in Germany. They shattered his nerves, and, for fear 
of bombs, he dreaded returning to his own country. His dread was 
well founded; but he could not escape his destiny. 

When he came to see me on August 5th it was, as I have already 
told, to ask protection for his Institute. Two or three days before 
his death it was our turn to ask his. He was not only willing but 
eager and said that he and the Consul frequently put their heads 
together as to how they could save I Tatti from depredation. It 
seems that a member of Goring's gang approached him some 
eighteen months previously to inquire about a villa belonging to 
an American which they had been told was full of valuable pic- 
tures and books. He put them off by assuring them that at I Tatti 



OCTOBER, 1943 139 

there were no paintings except of Catholic subjects, and no hooks 
of more than local interest. 

Immediately on the German occupation we got hints, not only 
from the art superintendent but from a friendly German, that we 
had better put books and pictures in safety. No time was lost in 
doing what one could, in the expectation that the enemy might he 
upon us at once. Happily, there were so many pictures of smaller 
value in the house that they could cover the walls and thus pre- 
vent any suspicion that important works of art had been removed. 
With the books it was, and remains, more difficult. Nearly half 
have been removed, the more irreplaceable ones. Yet some twenty 

thousand remain, and I should be sorrv if anv of them fell into 

* 

rough hands, with small profit probably to German students, and 
considerable loss to myself. The serious loss would be not the 
money so much as the labor it would be to replace them. 

Until recently I remained skeptical about the predatoriness of 
the Germans in this war. I was ready enough to concede that they 
would snatch the vehicles, woolens, leather, anything more or less 
necessary for carrying on. But that, as reported, they would in an 
allied country like Italy, whose government they were recognizing 
as an equal, carry away works of art, libraries, and every kind of 
valuable that, being under sequestration, was temporarily Italian 
national property, seemed too improbable. Let me add that thus 
far there has been no attempt on the part of the occupying Ger- 
mans to touch my property. 

Privates, particularly if from Austria or other territory annexed 
by the Reich since 1938, are said to be deserting in numbers. They 
sell their arms and whatever they have been able to raffle and take 
to the macchia. Their money will in time be spent, the weather 
will turn cold and wet, and the humanity of the contadino or vil- 
lager will become exhausted. Then these deserters may become a 
public danger. It is not only now, and as deserters, that Nazi 
troops are said to be free and easy with war material in their keep- 
ing. More than a year ago I heard of their selling benzine, rubber 
tires, etc., etc., at Leghorn and all along the coast. 

It seems that the German Consul goes on believing that he will 



14O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

not remain here long. He wishes he could. He would like to, so as 
to see whether the Allied troops would behave better than his. 
Evidently he does not expect them to. Troops must average pretty 
much the same everywhere in our world. There will be so many 
roughs, so many brutes, so many gangsters, so many petty thieves, 
so many sadists. Discipline relaxes as war goes on. 

The same Consul is said to feel so insecure in his tenure here 
that he is anxious to put the library of the German Institute in 
safety. He seems certain that when the Allies arrive they will seize 
it as booty. It shows what he knows the Germans would do in sim- 
ilar cases where they felt they were entirely free to do so as per- 
haps they are not quite here. 

For me, it is hard to believe that the English or Americans 
would do such a thing as seize the cultural instruments of the van- 
quished the instruments by which they may be humanized. Yet 
one wins wars only by employing the arms that, at first, one was 
horrified to see the enemy using. 

It seems that the Nazis have ordered the library of the German 
Institute to be packed and sent to Germany. As in that land of 
learning and libraries the books and even the photographs would 
be of relatively little use, the order can come only from authorities 
so disgusted with Italy that they never mean to return. The Con- 
sul, on the other hand, realizes the importance of Italian art as a 
civilizing instrument; and, as it can be properly studied here only, 
he is eager to have the Institute continued. 

I gather that we have barely escaped having as one of our rulers 
under this regime Dumini, the assassin of Matteotti. I recall trav- 
eling about in the autumn after this murder, and finding in Um- 
brian and Latian villages, painted in red on the walls, "Viva Du- 
mini/' This vulgar slayer was to be exalted as a national hero, a 
benefactor, a friend of the people. It did not work; and after a 
while he was totgeschwiegen complete silence with regard to 
him. Many years later we were motoring from Gyrene to Derna 
and as we were approaching the last-named place the chauffeur 
pointed out a fine villa and told us it belonged to Dumini. Last 
spring it was rumored that he had been made prisoner by the Eng- 



OCTOBER, 1943 i41 

lish. Yet here he is, a living remembrance of what is and has l>een 
under and behind the Fascist regime. 

While penning these last few paragraphs a letter written in 
English reached me. It is from a woman in Florence, one quarter 
American in blood, but far more than that in spirit, although Ital- 
ian for the rest and bom and bred in Italy. It contains passages 
confirming or supplementing what I have noted down, and I can- 
not resist the temptation to insert them here: 

"One sees strutting about Blackshirts with faces of convicts, but 
behind their arrogant mien lurks a good deal of wholesome fear. 
They make me think of Neapolitans under the last Bourbons who 
were drilled to look feroce, cchiu fcroce [fierce, more fierce]. They 
seem to be quite oldish men with gray hair or young beceroni 
[town riffraff ] under twenty. I have now spent two nights here in 
the Via dei Bardi. The Germans have handed over the guarding of 
the Ponte Vecchio to the Blackshirts. The first night I was startled 
out of my sleep by wild shooting, which was kept up half the 
night; and this morning the house shook from hand grenades be- 
ing hurled into the Arno. These people are so terrified of being 
pounced upon in the dark that they bolster up their courage by 
warlike display. 

"I have been almost a month in a faraway fattoria estate of my 
daughter's. It is out of the way in the upper Chianti, a most beau- 
tiful region with fine woods of huge chestnut trees, brooks all over, 
steep stony paths that climb right up to the ridge, from which one 
dominates all the Valdarno, way up to Arezzo. It was the moment 
of the uendemmia grape-gathering and as like Benozzo Goz- 
zoli as one could wish. Whole hills and valleys covered with vines, 
bowed down by huge purple branches of grapes. The peasants 
winding in and out among them, picking and carrying the over- 
flowing crates on their backs up to the fattoria, to cellars lined 
with huge barrels. The heady smell, the swarthy faces, the big 
paunches of the vats in a dim half-light, were picturesque and 
gave one a feeling of the plenty and riches of the soil that was 
comforting to behold." 

I interrupt and ask for the thousandth time what a paradise like 



142 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

this, where I spend the sunny hours of the day writing out of 
doors, where life for people of the same condition is so much eas- 
ier than anywhere else in the white man's world, where, but for 
one per cent of one per cent, the population is the most peaceable 
and peace-loving, having long ago passed the age of militarism 
I ask what it can have to do with such an inhuman, that is, so 
mechanized, sapper-and-miners', engine drivers', artillerists', and 
airmen's war. Even under occupation I look over this lovely town, 
this landscape, and wonder. 

Returning to my friend's letter, she writes further: "I walked a 
lot and sat about under trees or on warm sun-baked stones to 
read and dream away the hours. Then news began to come up of 
raids in the middle of the night, of plunder and of the proprietors 
of villas taken away under arrest. Needless to say that almost 
everyone hides, and helps the poor young men who refuse to serve 
the Germans and their satellites. It makes things pretty dangerous. 
We did our share as best we could. So we were advised to leave, 
for in the country one is trapped in the middle of the night, al- 
though we had organized means of escape with romantic ladders, 
and slept with our clothes on. At Bagno a Ripoli in a house near 
by, a young couple, she having just had a baby, were spirited 
away in the night by the police. As soon as they had left, two 
enormous trucks with Fascists on board arrived and looted the 
whole house. The same plundering is going on in town. A couple 
of nights ago young Fascists were emptying a house in Via Masac- 
cio, and the regular police had to use hand grenades because the 
young gangsters were armed and threatened to shoot. These got 
away with all they could carry." 

November 4th 

FROM ALL that we hear regarding the conduct of the Fascists 
during their Cent Jours, one sees what kind of foundation the 
party had in the country, even though at the start the upper crust 
may have been inspired by a certain idealitd, which word, how- 
ever, is the Italian for a passing disregard of self -interest and fear. 



NOVEMBER, 1943 143 

Between the dismissal of Mussolini and the declaration of the 
armistice, there were constant demands for the abrogation of the 
"racial laws/' They could not be touched because they were an 
essential part of the es Stccl Compact" They were quietly dropped. 

With the Nazi occupation, Jews naturally feared the worst and 
took to the macchia. As many as ten or twelve are hiding in a villa 
near Siena. One great landed proprietor, brother and cousin of 
officers high in army and navy, has been flitting from hole to hole, 
and at last has decided to take shelter in the small apartment of a 
friend in the heart of Florence on the Arno. It was said that the 
Fascist prefect, the moment he was installed, warned Jews to 
leave their homes and to go into hiding. It is not easy to believe 
this, seeing that most reports make him out a blackguard. But, 
happily, human nature is centrifugal! 

To the credit account of the Fascist government in the last 
years, it must be said that, while fierce laws were kept on the 
statute books, and new ones were being framed, the administra- 
tion did everything it could to prevent their execution. This made 
zealots furious but they seldom prevailed. In France, Italian con- 
sular authorities went out of their way to help Jews hounded by 
the "collaborators" and on the least pretext offered them protec- 
tion and easy entrance to Italy. 

Some time ago it was rumored that the Germans in Rome or- 
dered the Jews of that town to bring them fifty pounds' weight of 
gold, failing which they would be transported to Poland, pre- 
sumably to be gassed. As the well-to-do Israelites had fled, only 
the poor remained, and they could raise ten pounds at most. The 
Vatican offered twenty and the Roman aristocracy as much again. 
It is hard to believe such a tale. 

I jot down what seems interesting of the reports that reach me. 
I know that they must be taken with great skepticism, above all 
when they come from "unimpeachable sources/* 



144 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



November 6th 

I WONDER whether the Nazis are in good faith when they go on 
ranting about Badoglio and the King as Verratcr betrayers. Can 
they be so ignorant as to have forgotten that history is full of 
cases where one ally deserted the others? It was common practice 
in the eighteenth century, Queen Anne of England, Elizabeth and 
Paul of Russia, and perhaps even Alexander at Tilsit early in the 
last century, the Germans' own idol Frederick, Louis XV, and 
Maria Theresa. Did not Charles, the last Austrian Emperor, want 
to betray, and did not Napoleon III almost betray? Yet the Nazis 
howl as if the conduct of Italy was too monstrous to have occurred 
before in history. I ask what they would have done in Italy's 
stead? 

November 8th 

YESTERDAY Nicky and I lunched with Baroness Ritter at Quarto. 
In that huge Noah's ark, haunted by the ghosts of Demidoffs and 
Leuchtenbergs, of Thiers, and of Princesse Mathilde, the Baroness 
has inserted a Louis XVI apartment which she, herself a French- 
woman, occupies. It made me happy to pass some hours there in 
the midst of proportions, colors, chairs, tables, pictures, the most 
livable with, that have ever been seen. 

While we were at Quarto, about which there would be much 
more to say, our hosts here were lunching the German Consul. He 
has just returned from the north, where he had been with 
Rahn, the last Ambassador to the Quirinal, and brought back the 
news that Ciano was in custody and certainly would be shot. 

Why? Because he voted against Mussolini at the last Grand 
Council? Would his father-in-law shoot him for that? Then why 
did he call the Council to meet, if it was high treason to express 
an unfavorable opinion? 

Or is it the Germans who will shoot him for reasons of their 
own? It is an interesting point, because if they do, they will be 



NOVEMBER, 1943 145 

treating this country as conquered and occupied not as an ally 
on an equal footing. 

The same question comes up in connection with the Jews. We 
heard from Rome a couple of days ago that Jews were being 
penned into cattle vans to he transported to Germany. The Consul 
yesterday said that two hundred Polish and German Jews had 
been found here huddling in the synagogue and had been carried 
to Naziland by the Gestapo. 

I cannot make out whether there were Italian subjects among 
them. If there were, it would be another proof that Italy, republi- 
can Fascist Italy, was being treated as occupied territory. 

I recall Hitler's threat that if Judeo-pluto-democratic America 
came into the war, he would see to it that not a Jew was left alive 
on the European Continent. From the way he is carrying out this 
threat, it would seem to be the most unfaltering and unchanging 
point in his policy. 

I have always assumed that Hitler believed in the omnipotence 
of the Jews, a belief so absurd that it comforted me. If he could 
so miscalculate the forces he was opposing, and their where- 
abouts, as to waste energies upon helpless Jews instead of con- 
centrating upon dangerously determined actual enemies, then he 
was fighting windmills, and could not possibly win the war. It is 
my conviction that, a small percentage apart, Jews are exactly 
like other people of the same class everywhere. Those with real 
power, the financiers, the promoters, the industrialists, the inven- 
tors, were employing their resources to at least the same degree 
as the most viejos cristumos, for the "Fatherland." Nothing in any 
country more bourgeois, more conservative than the average, 
well-to-do, well-placed Jew. He has not only the readiness to cling 
tight to his moneybags, to dread a diminishing of his income, to 
support "loranorder," but a special interest in showing that, al- 
though not quite as others, he is as eager to be on the side of the 
"nice" people. He wants to be on their side out of conviction or 
interest but also with the hope that thereby he will attain com- 
plete assimilation, and cease to feel that he is looked upon as not 
quite "one of us." 



146 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

This may account for the Jews* scrupulously avoiding in their 
immense charities any discrimination against non-Jews. On the 
contrary, they would seem rather to favor Gentiles as they so 
obviously do socially. These assimilated Jews, like Copts under 
British and Syrians under French rule, make no bones about pre- 
ferring the company of their masters. Everywhere, the assimilated 
Jew avoids rather than cherishes his fellow scapegoats and is 
proud to serve a well-known or highly placed person, entirely 
judenfrei with no drop of Jewish blood in his veins. 

Neither in experience nor in serious reading have I come across 
a trace of organization by Jews as Jews, for any purpose not chari- 
table or educational; until Zionism there was no political organi- 
zation, and even since, no Jewish party in any state west of the 
Vistula. The greatest Hebrew combine I ever heard of was the Al- 
liance Israelite Universelle, whose one and only purpose it was to 
better the condition of proletarian Jews in less "civilized" coun- 
tries. 

I had heard vaguely of this Alliance but it interested me little 
until I happened to spend some days in Rhodes seven or eight 
years ago. To my surprise and pleasure, almost all the cabmen 
spoke excellent French. I took them for Greeks of the island, but 
on inquiry it turned out that, although there was nothing in their 
look or behavior the least Semitic, they were Spanish Jews settled 
in Rhodes centuries ago, and taught French in the schools of the 
Alliance. Their Fascist lords, who would have liked to treat the 
natives of the Dodecanese as scarcely human, had little sympathy 
for these parenti della Madonna relatives of the Virgin Mary, as 
Jews are frequently called in Naples and were urging them to 
emigrate. Many went, and found refuge in South Africa. On a 
later visit I learnt that they were not only urged but forced to 
leave. 

The Alliance Israelite Universelle I had occasion to learn much 
more about later. So far as I could discover, the worst charge that 
could be brought against it was that it spread the French language 
wherever it went. Nothing further from its intention than to unite 
Jews with the intent of increasing their political power in any 



NOVEMBER, 1943 147 

country, let alone of forming a secret organization for interna- 
tional and even universal dominion. 

Far from being internationalists, the great majority of assimi- 
lated, bourgeois Jews tend to be nationalists in the aggrandizing 
annexationist sense of the word. It was the Jew Disraeli who in- 
vented British Imperialism. It was Leopoldo Franchetti and Sid- 
ney Sonnino who egged Italians on to fish in the troubled waters 
of the Balkan coastlands. In France the three Reinachs were rabid 
patriots who invested a great part of their fortunes in Russian 
funds the Russia that all the time was massacring Jews be- 
cause it was supposed to serve French interests. And personally 
I have never met a Hebrew of German nationality or descent who 
did not believe in Deutschhnd iiber dies in dcr Wcti above 
everything else in the world. Not only in the Fatherland but in 
America what did they not do in the last war to secure its victory! 
I am confident that the majority of Jews w r ould have been good 
Nazis in Germany if they had been allowed to be. As a matter of 
fact, they helped the emerging party not a little. Here in Italy 
with rare exceptions they were Fascists, and some of them ardent 
and active ones. Jews everywhere tend to overdo patriotism for 
fear it should be thought they did not do enough. It is strange 
that they preserve an immigrant attitude, so many generations 
after migrating from the ghettoes of their native lands, where 
their ancestors have dwelt for centuries, in the case of Germany 
for thousands of years. 

November gth 

THE ACCOUNTS that reach me of the Jew-hunt here the other 
day remind me of what I read decades ago about the rounding 
up of the stray dogs in Constantinople. They were hounded and 
forced into conveyances that carried them to a desert island on 
the Propontis, there to starve to death. 

That, if not worse, may be the fate of the Jews seized, hand- 
cuffed, and sent off to Poland perhaps to be gassed. Why the ex- 
pense and trouble of taking them all the way to distant Lublin 



148 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

when they could so simply he put an end to here! Or is it that the 
Gestapo has been trained to prolong sadistically the agony of its 
victims? 

November izth 

THREE OR FOUR DAYS AGO, in a speech at Munich, Hitler de- 
clared that if the Germans lost the war he would not shed a tear, 
for it would prove that they were not what he had taken them for. 

He had taken them for the heroes of Wagner's trilogy out for 
the HerrscJiaft der Wcti lording it over the earth. Far more even 
than Napoleon, Hitler is the victim of Romanticism. The former 
based his dreams on the vast complex and universalistic traditions 
of Rome, as idealized by the French Revolution; Hitler his on the 
Nibelungs and inmates of Walhalla, with their animal lust of en- 
ergizing, and contempt for human values. He miscalculated the 
capacity of the Germans to face and overcome the rest of the 
world; for the Japanese can be of no efficient help, and the Euro- 
pean allies are of small account. Qui a plus $ esprit que Monsieur 
de Voltaire? it used to be asked in the lifetime of the most bril- 
liant writer of his century. Who is wittier than Voltaire? The an- 
swer was: Tout le monde that is to say, a combination of every- 
body. So we may ask: Who is stronger than the German people? 
Answer: A union of all the other peoples. These, so long as they 
retain strength, will always combine to prevent one of them from 
enslaving the others. If Hitler thought that England was too de- 
generate, Russia too unorganized, America too indifferent to op- 
pose him successfully, he is learning to know better. Too late to 
save him. 

Hitler will be remembered as an adventurer more inhuman, 
more desolating, more destructive not only of other countries but 
of his own than the futile Charles XII of Sweden. The last, how- 
ever, remains a fascinating subject of song and story while I see 
in Hitler's career nothing that will serve literature. The word 
"literature" reminds me that the Nazis promised that a Jewless 
Germany, freed from the corroding or dissolving influences of de- 
generate art, would produce wonders in the way of prose and 



NOVEMBER, 1943 149 

verse, philosophy and history, painting and sculpture, architecture 
and music. If Nazis have produced anything in belles-lettres, mu- 
sic, or the fine arts worth reading, hearing or seeing, and enjoying, 
they have escaped my attention, although it has been close. 

The same may he said of Russia. What has anyone brought up 
under the Soviets produced? The brilliant profusion at the begin- 
ning of their rule was due to suppressed energies, liberated during 
the brief moment between two tyrannies. 

If Italy has been, in literature, more creative than the two other 
totalitarian countries it is because totalitarianism has been less 
serious, less thoroughly applied, and altogether less efficient* Yet 
even here translations, chiefly of American fiction, attract a far 
wider public than the native products. 

November i^th 

IN THE LAST German paper to reach me I read of two executions 
for the foul crime of listening to the London radio, and discussing 
its reports with friends and neighbors. It will be interesting when 
the fighting is well over to inquire as to how many in German- 
occupied lands, including the Reich itself, have suffered capital 
punishment for having listened to the enemy radio, and drawing 
from it material for criticizing war and policy; then to compare the 
number in Anglo-Saxon countries hanged or shot for the same rea- 
son. It would also be worth while to compare the number of na- 
tive spies caught and judged in German and In Allied lands. The 
inferences drawn from such statistics might be instructive. 

The Nazi papers, by the way, since the German occupation ar- 
rive irregularly. For ten days none came at all. Then arrived a 
sheaf from Graz eight or more days old, followed by the Munich 
edition of the Volkische Beobachter. It was days later before any 
from Berlin appeared. Now they come rather more regularly but 
take at least six days. All of which speaks for difficulties of trans- 
port and communication in the Reich itself. Otherwise why should 
the Graz dailies have been the first to reach me, while the Berlin 
ones followed a whole week later? 



15O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

While I am here alfa macchia, my own place has become a 
macchia for others. Among them is a woman, a great friend of 
ours, who received a mysterious telephonic warning to leave her 
home immediately. She thinks that the invasion of her apartment 
by Nazi and Fascist S.S., which followed shortly after, was due 
to the imposition here, as in Germany, of the Nuremberg anti- 
Semitic laws. As a matter of fact, being herself a fervent Catholic 
and baptized at birth by a Catholic mother according to current 
Italian law, she was immune, even if her father was a Jew and I 
may add one of a family that for several centuries, perhaps for a 
thousand years, has had distinguished members. 

It turns out that she was wanted because of her intimacy with 
Marina Volpi, against whom the German authorities had a heavy 
list of charges, inspired by the German governess of her daughter. 
The S.S. were searching for proofs that our friend had contributed 
a million lire toward helping English escaped prisoners and Ital- 
ian deserters. As it happens, she has not a penny to her name, and 
lives on a pension of three thousand lire a month. But the Nazi- 
Fascists seem to believe that no contribution under a million is ac- 
cepted by their opponents. 

I have reported this little anecdote because it proves that a per- 
son whom a given event most concerns can be utterly mistaken as 
to its causes. 



November 

WINTER is creeping up. The sun still triumphs over the rising 
mists, but only for a few hours. Yesterday it was thick enough to 
hide the sunset. But the fragrant, spicy Japanese medlar is in 
flower and the hedges are profuse with roses, the meadows starred 
with dandelions. Think of this day and this hour in Berlin or Lon- 
don! 

I am pleased that President Roosevelt's party has suffered a set- 
back in his home state and its neighbors. Not that I disapprove his 
policy, or his conduct of events, but that he has had far too large 
a majority. I believe that parliamentary institutions can function 



NOVEMBER, 1943 

only when the forces are nearly equal, and the ruling party has to 
fight for its life, subject to perpetual criticism and the danger of 
losing control. 

Overwhelming majorities make possible the follies of the Cham- 
berlain period, when back-benchers would get up in the House 
and yell at the opposition; "Why are you wasting our time with 
your talk? You can do nothing against our numbers!" 

The universal prevalence of huge majorities in the years pre- 
ceding the war may be interpreted as a sinister tendency to one- 
party rule and Fuhrertum dictatorship. 

The Axis press and other enemies of Roosevelt not only rejoice 
at his discomfiture, hoping to profit thereby, but sneer at his being 
deserted by his own state. 

Yet it is natural that a man should have more enemies at home, 
where his activity from the beginning of his career offended many 
interests, individual and corporate, than farther away, where he 
came to full notice only when he had become a figure of national 
importance, and where he was far less likely to encounter opposi- 
tion on personal grounds. 

November i$th 

A WILD SOUTH WESTER. Rain in squalls dashes against window- 
panes. Everything creaks, groans, and clatters, as on a transatlan- 
tic crossing in the Gulf Stream in a southerly gale. 

When we have thoroughly beaten them how should we treat 
the Germans? If I had my way it would be either as convalescents 
or as incurables. The latter I should segregate, isolate, and see to 
it that they did no mischief, whether by word or by deed. The 
rest I would put in charge of fellow countrymen of their own who 
had never been seized by the Nazi madness, nor yet grown too 
embittered and vindictive by Nazi atrocities committed against 
themselves, or their relatives and friends. I repeat what I have 
said more than once: that there is no way of punishing a people, 
even if we had a right to. 

Have we that right? Let me confine myself to the Anglo-Saxon 



152 RUMOR AXD REFLECTION 

world. Did we not aid and abet Fascism in Italy as a bulwark 
against Bolshevism? When Hitler began to stir the Germans, de- 
claring in Mein Kanipf exactly what he meant to do (and as a 
matter of fact has done ) , did people in our countries do anything 
to oppose him? 

The upper classes dared not touch him for fear of war or Bol- 
shevism. The lower classes had no little sympathy with his prom- 
ises and instalments of welfare for those of their own condition 
in Germany, and, besides, wanted no money wasted on arma- 
ments that should go to raise their own standard of life. So Hitler 
was unopposed not only when he marched into the Rhineland 
but even when he annexed Austria and raped Bohemia. Nor was 
anything done to prevent his open attack on a legitimate govern- 
ment in Spain. The never-to-be-forgotten parliamentary under- 
secretary of the time got up every few days in the House of Com- 
mons to deny that Hitler and his boon companion Mussolini were 
doing anything out of the way. And what shall we say of crimes 
committed against dissidents, lay and ecclesiastic, in army and 
navy, and the unparalleled behavior toward the Jews? Of course 
the last two counts come under the convenient rule of not inter- 
fering with what goes on inside another country. We certainly 
need not have flattered and caressed Hitler, the way the British 
Ambassador did in obedience to orders. Were they, I mean the 
Anglo-Saxon public, the English one in particular, unaware that 
the Nazis were arming portentously, and would run amok the 
moment they were ready? For years Winston Churchill was kept 
out of the cabinet, and for a while even out of Parliament, because 
he lost no occasion to speak of the wrath to come. 

We could have stopped Hitler in time, as we easily could have 
stopped Mussolini, if we had wanted to. 

So I question whether, in justice, we have any right to punish 
those Germans who could not help submitting to force that 
we had allowed to grow overwhelming and irresistible. Sinclair 
Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here describes how a similar state 
of things might arise and flourish in America. How expect better 



NOVEMBER, 1Q43 

resistance from the people of Germany, so untrained in resisting 
government! 

We should ocenpy Germany thoroughly, north and south, west 
and east, particularly east. The occupation should have three 
tasks before it, to he carried out simultaneously: 

Parliamentary government and a press free to criticize not only 
its own but the occupying authorities. Members of Parliament ir- 
reconcilably disaffected toward parliamentary rule or to the oc- 
cupying authorities to be disqualified and silenced for a limited 
period. Newspapers bringing false charges against their own or 
the occupying authorities to be punished with heavy fines and in 
rare cases with suspension. 

I daresay parliamentary institutions will work badly enough at 
the start. It is only by using them, and them alone, that people 
learn to rule themselves and need not be forced to a bloody revo- 
lution when a change of government, not to say regime, becomes 
necessary. 

Parliamentary rule will always be unsatisfactory, as will the 
human lot in general. Yet parliamentary rale is the least bad that 
experience has discovered. It must be put up with, and made the 
most of. 

Militarism has eaten so deeply into the soul of Germans that 
even among one's own enlightened, humanized acquaintances, 
whose horror of the Nazis exceeds ours, many keep longing for 
the triumph of German arms. It is not of what defeat may bring 
in its train to them individually and to their country as a whole, 
nor even out of patriotism as we Atlantic people understand the 
word, but for fear of being left without an idol, without a palpa- 
ble ideal like Heine's "Grenadiere" with their "der Kaiser, der 
Kaiser gefangeri' Napoleon, Napoleon a captive. They will not 
face the fact that only the defeat of their army can bring about 
the end of Nazism. 

And yet this religious cult of the army cannot be said to con- 
stitute an essential element of the German soul. Except perhaps 
among the squires beyond the Elbe as a class, and stray townsfolk 



154 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

here and there in the rest of Prussia, militarism was in the eight- 
eenth century less widely spread in Germany than in France and 
perhaps even England if we include sea as well as land forces. 
One does not get the impression that either the peasant or the city 
folk hankered after soldiering. It would appear not only in histor- 
ical works but in contemporaries like Seume that governments 
had to institute man-hunts to procure recruits. For all Frederick's 
victories, the impression one gets of Germany for the generations 
preceding Waterloo is of an unwarlike, peace-loving people with 
petit-bourgeois standards, given over to plain living and, not a 
few, to high thinking. The moloch of militarism compared with 
whose lust the moloch of Carthage was as one to a thousand the 
moloch of German militarism was a child, almost an infant, at 
Koniggratz, but a fresh and joyous youth at Sedan. At Verdun, 
not full five decades later, he was already aged, dogged, and 
grim. He died and was buried in November, 1918. The German 
army of today has nothing in common with the armies of Sadowa, 
Sedan, and Verdun except in destructiveness, wherein, as we have 
had ample occasion to learn, it surpasses anything the world has 
known hitherto. But it is no more an army in the old sense of the 
word than the steel and oil trusts of America are chivalrous hosts. 
It is an army of laborers. Soldiering exerts a limitless fascina- 
tion over small boys, and over grownups who remain small boys 
to the end of their days. I remember how I felt at the age of six 
as, spell-bound, I watched soldiers drilling, and the rapture at 
hearing the blare of the trumpets and the tramp of the horses 
carrying mounted brass bands. I shall not soon forget the enthu- 
siasm that a little while ago seized the whole Italian people over 
the Abyssinian expedition. Relatively few realized that it was not 
a crusade as painted by romantic artists and authors a hundred 
years ago. Military glory was an irresistible lure, although it 
ended in conquest brought about not with knightly, chivalrous 
prowess but chiefly with the help of superior armament. 

Nevertheless, I believe that when it is pointed out to Germans 
of the younger generation that war is now nothing but a Gross- 
Industrie at the service of a ruling clique, and that armies are as 



NOVEMBER, 1943 155 

much organizers and overseers of this industry as in the Ford 
plant at Detroit, it should not lx difficult to destroy this idol even 
as the great Irminsnl of the Saxons, more than eleven centuries 
ago, was shattered by Charlemagne. 

It might he brought home to them that, to all but specialists, 
the only German military geniuses that have impressed the rest 
of the world are Frederiek the Great and Moltke. Compare this 
number, and throw in Bliieher if you like, with the glorious galaxy 
of poets, philosophers, musicians, men of learning, men of sci- 
ence, men of creative enterprise that Germany has produced in 
the last few hundred years and particularly in the century that 
runs from, say, 1740 to 1840. 

In that one century, when Germany was little more than a 
geographical term, when Prussia celebrated triumphs against 
other Germans with Frederick, and suffered humiliating defeats 
inflicted by Napoleon in those short hundred years flourished 
Lessing and Herder, Goethe and Schiller, Holderlin and Novalis, 
Kleist and Jean Paul, Hoffmann and the Schlegels, Kant, Fichte, 
Hegel, and Schopenhauer, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, the 
Humboldts and the Grimms, Bopp and Niebuhr. Those years 
built not only the foundations but much of the superstructure 
that made Germany, throughout the nineteenth century, leader 
in every field of activity, even in the noblest. Well before 1840 
were born Bismarck, Heine, Hebbel, Schubert, Schumann, Marx, 
Wagner, Mommsen, and they grew to manhood in the spirit of 
their age. What has Germany to show among her sons who came 
to full manhood after the triumph of militarism? Except in the 
quantitative sciences, industries and commerce, no personalities 
to be compared with their predecessors of the previous hundred 
and fifty years. The boyhood and youth of those born before 1840 
was that of dreamers and prophets who looked forward only to a 
Germany of the spirit able materially to hold her own in Europe 
but not to claim and conquer the controlling position. 

In the nerve-racking truce between this war and the last, Ger- 
mans were told they must choose between Weimar and Potsdam. 
I would urge that we should encourage Weimar as we certainly 



156 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

did not after the last war. German genius of every kind should 
be given fair treatment. 



November ijth 

"THOUGH HE SLAY ME yet will I trust in him." Nothing more 
optimistic, more life-approving, more life-affirming has ever been 
uttered. 

The more wonderful, as this comes from the member of a small 
community, nestling between w T arring empires. Its insignificance 
saved it for a while. It was finally crushed as carelessly, as capri- 
ciously, as on a wood walk we encounter an anthill and kick it 
to pieces. 

Like the ants, the Jews never lose faith in life. No nation, no 
community; Hamans and Hitlers everywhere; they live on, and 
enjoy life. 

November i8th 

I DREAM of depoliticizing nationality. As a millennial association 
of certain capacities, certain energies, certain habits of mind, cer- 
tain qualities of character, certain achievements, and certain tra- 
ditions, a nation calls for nothing but sympathy, admiration, and 
affection. We welcome it in the symphony of humanity, we accept 
it, and can be loud in our praises. 

But when the government of a nation begins to take advantage 
of this sympathy, this gratitude, to smooth the way for political 
influence with the eventual hope of conquest, we protest; we try 
to reason, but ultimately we fight. In justified indignation, we 
pour the baby out with the bath and end by denying that the in- 
vader ever had anything to give us, was ever more than a wicked 
barbarian. 

Toward the German, this is the present attitude of countries 
occupied by them, or warring against them. Yet to Slavs Ger- 
many, centuries long, meant civilization, meant culture. To us 
Westerners, in England and America particularly, Germany meant 



NOVEMBER, 1943 157 

philosophy, literature, learning, science, music. By the time this 
little war qwsta guerrctta* us some of my Italian friends called 
it in June, 1940 is over, it will he difficult to find Anglo-Saxons, 
let alone French, Belgians, Dutch, or Poles, to recall what human- 
izing contributions Germans in the past have made to the House 
of Life. 

A parallel case is Italy's with regard to the Yugoslavs and 
Greeks, To her eastern neighbors, Italy spelt civilization, human- 
ity, freedom. Italian was the speech of the educated classes in 
Dalmatia. They loved Italy with a nostalgic love. The dream of 
every cultivated Dalmatian was to spend years in Italy, attend its 
universities, know its people. All shattered by the advantage Ital- 
ian annexationists thought they could take of this sentiment, to in- 
corporate Dalmatia in the Savoy family estate. Italian influence 
will disappear from Dalmatia, the Italian language will cease to 
be spoken, will be forgotten as it is in Greek lands. 

When I first traveled in Greece in 1888, in the remotest recesses 
of Arcadia I was constantly saluted in Italian. Perhaps the peas- 
ant who addressed me had no extensive acquaintance with this 
language. But he took me for a foreigner, a Frank, and a Frank 
was no longer a Frenchman but an Italian. In his mind a Euro- 
pean was an Italian. How different today, although in candor it 
should be added that this is not due to politics alone. Greek peas- 
ants have been to America and will shout as you pass them: "Mis- 
ter, I come from Tombstone, where do you come from?" 

About Japan, I have written elsewhere in these and other pages. 
This Arcady, built up as daintily, as exquisitely, as devoid of evil 
intent as the construction of the loveliest of birds* nests, a heaven 
of Korin screens, Satsuina vases, colored prints, bronze Kwan- 
nons, was beginning to look like an illusion in the eyes of one 
who read the Grass Roof, with its story of the Japanese in Korea, 
and supplemented it with the picture of Japanese vulgarity given 
in THonordble Partie de Campagne. It has vanished now, this 
sham Arcady, and will not reappear except as what Japan has al- 
ways been down to our opening it up, a cultural province of 
China. It will be long before we are ready to give Japan its due 



158 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

even as a spiritual, intellectual, and artistic province of China. 

A touching attempt to base political claims on fable and song 
was made for my benefit by the wife of the Minister of one of the 
Baltic states. She spoke wistfully and most persuasively of her na- 
tional folk songs. No other people on earth had such songs. They 
surpassed everything that mankind has achieved as poetry and 
music. It was unique. It was supreme. Therefore her little land 
should be aggrandized with the territory of her neighbors, and 
powerful enough to be relieved of the shameful duty of playing 
the ichneumon engaged in picking the teeth, not, to be sure, of 
the Nile crocodile, but of the Russian bear. 

I cannot refrain from giving one or two instances of how it 
works the other way round. 

On my first visit to Budapest toward 1890 everybody answered 
you politely, cordially even, when you addressed them in German. 
I returned ten years later for the millennial celebration, in 1900, 
I believe, and neither at the railway station nor in the street could 
you discover a person who would admit to understanding Ger- 
man. The same in Bohemia. We were within fifty miles of Prague, 
the once so German town, and wanted to know the way to a coun- 
try house we were going to visit. A well-dressed, intelligent-look- 
ing young priest shrugged his shoulders when we asked him in 
German and shook his head. Addressed in French, he replied with 
alacrity, and the more volubly as he had, of course, understood 
our first question and had time to prepare his answer. 

November 22d 

HITLER'S BEHAVIOR toward the Jews, as if they were enemy 
number one to his people, has many different causes. The chief is, 
I take it, the one given in Mein Kampf a book beside which Ma- 
chiavelli's Principe is small beer. There, he insists upon the nec- 
essity of holding up to his subjects a fundamentally irreconcilable 
enemy, one who never slumbers or sleeps, for whom pity is sui- 
cide, against whom everything making for his complete annihila- 
tion is a sacred duty. Moreover, there must be no multiplication 



NOVEMBER, 1943 159 

of enemies; for that divides and diminishes intensity of hatte. So 
whatever is done against Germany, whether by Russians, Brit- 
ish, or Americans, must be led back to the Jews who lurk behind 
the rulers of these unhappy, misguided peoples, who, but for 
these same Jews, would Joyfully embrace Hitler as their prophet, 
Mein Kampf as their Koran, and Nazidom as their Islam. 

But there exhales from Hitler's attitude toward Israel a hatred 
too deep for impersonal politics, a rankling that would seem the 
result of some humiliation that he had had to suffer, some intoler- 
able bitterness that he had been obliged to gulp down in his form- 
ative days. When walking the slimy sidewalks of wintry Vienna, 
peddling postcards colored by his own hands, he was reduced to 
sleeping in a Jewish night shelter where he was sneered at for his 
haranguing loquacity, and perhaps as well for his being conceived 
not in a purple chamber, but belowstairs, in a Rothschild estab- 
lishment. 

If that were so, it would be the most interesting case in history 
of a petty offense towards a seemingly helpless individual ending 
in horror to the like of which civilized humanity offers no parallel 

About the same time that this butt of low-class Jewish wit, this 
future failure as a painter of whom, by the way, we never 
should have heard if he had been a tolerably successful one rose 
to power as the deified autocrat of all the Germanics, the Dublin 
Review published against the Jews an article by a Catholic priest 
of such poisonous virulence that it surprised me to find it in the 
organ of intellectual Papists. The chief charge was that a Jewish 
shopkeeper, in order to get the insurance, set fire to his own 
house, which fire communicated itself to other houses and caused 
serious damage to this priest's parishioners. The tone and impli- 
cation of the charge was that every Jew was a potential incendi- 
ary. 

Simplifications of this kind are almost universal, and it is in 
reaction toward them that Jews are apt to spring to the defense 
of any fellow scapegoat, I mean Jew, against whom a dishonoring 
or felonious accusation is brought. They know that prejudice 
flares up with the phrase "What can you expect of a Jew!" 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

A Cilian acquaintance of mine, of noble Spanish origin, was 
cold-shouldered by English high circles but made welcome in 
German society, invited to country houses and to shooting and 
hunting parties. In a measure, he became an active friend of the 
Central powers, and an active enemy of England. If I am not mis- 
taken this individual succeeded as a mischief-maker not only far 
beyond his position in Spain but beyond his wealth or natural 
gifts. I half suspect that he took a considerable part in the negotia- 
tions which took place between Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco in 
a common effort to wipe Europe clean of English parliamentar- 
ism, beginning with Spain. Who knows! A little more hospitality 
on the part of the English and Scotch gentry and this person 
might never have stored up the venom against England that he 
was distilling for many years. 

Whose breast is not filled with rage when he recalls how he, as 
a foreigner, has been yelled at by French customs officials, sized 
up with insulting looks by passport inspectors, annoyed and 
teased at post offices, left in the lurch by railway porters, rudely 
disobliged by the fanged watchdogs of the museums, the Louvre 
in particular? And yet the French are the politest people in the 
world. Imagine therefore what friendly memories one cherishes 
of treatment at German frontiers, and at the hands of Nazi po- 
lice! I know of nothing worse except an Italian government offi- 
cial who is obviously swindling you out of your eyeteeth while 
protesting that he is only doing his plain duty: "Faccio il mio 
dovere" 

Bad treatment of strangers visiting your country, any rudeness 
toward them, any attempt to make them feel small, not to speak 
of getting the better of them, may turn them into bitter enemies; 
and who knows what potential Hitler is in the number! Again, 
when you are in a foreign land, by condescension, by an air of 
superiority, by ostentatiousness of wealth, not to speak of worse 
behavior, you may be helping to produce an atmosphere unfavor- 
able to your country which, in moments of crisis, may prove dan- 
gerous. 

The fact is that you cannot shake off corporate responsibility. 



NOVEMBER, 1943 l6l 

Every person is responsible when abroad for his country, when at 
home for his coreligionists, if they are relatively few, for his class, 
even though it may be the ruling one, for his profession, for his 
trade. If a Protestant in a Catholic country, or a Catholic in an 
overwhelmingly Protestant one, you cannot produce an unfavor- 
able impression, not to speak of committing a crime or misde- 
meanor, that will not be met with the cry: "What can you expect 
of a Catholic?" or "of a Protestant" as the case may be. So for your 
class or profession. You may make dangerous enemies by your 
conduct. 

We feel a natural call to magnify a grudge by universalizing it. 
It is not enough that Hans, Patsy, Donald, Isaac, or the individual 
with a more aristocratic name displeases us. We instantly jump 
to the conclusion that his race, his religion, his class, can produce 
no better persons. 

So if you must misbehave, do so in your own religion, your own 
class, your own profession best of all in the bosom of your own 
family. Even there, however, the offended member will say: "He 
is a regular Jones in the midst of us Robinsons, and what can you 
expect of a Jones!" 

November ^oth 

YESTERDAY I received a batch of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zei- 
tung and perused the two of latest date. Like a ghoul, I pounced 
upon the deaths at the front. They were, with one exception only, 
childless, either because they remained bachelors or because, as 
was almost always the case, they were far too young to have fami- 
lies. 

It makes one wonder what the quantity and quality of the Ger- 
man population will be like in, say, 1960. It will be seriously im- 
poverished, owing to the childless death at the front of so many 
of her best. Nearly all offspring of historic and other ancient fami- 
lies have been cut down. No small proportion of these obituary 
announcements boast that the deceased was the last of his race. 

This does not prevent the more heraldic families from proclaim- 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ing their faith in Hitler. Humbler gentry and middle-class folk 
rarely mention the Fiihrer and simply affirm that their dear one 
departed, in complete confidence that Germany would win 
through. Some still say that he died for the "bigger Germany." 

With never-failing Schadenfreude a peculiarly German trait 
the same paper gathered the information that the Anglo-Saxons 
were deeply disgusted with Badoglio, They accuse him of having 
misinformed them about Southern Italy and the difficulties of 
terrain to which they attribute the snail pace of their advance. 

If Badoglio did misinform them it could not have been inten- 
tionally. If he did, it was because he himself did not know. But 
what of the Anglo-Saxons who before beginning it did not make 
themselves thoroughly acquainted with the theater of their cam- 
paign? 

December ist 

I RETURN to the fact that while I am free of any belief in provi- 
dence, predetermination, fatalism, from any astrological notions, 
from any faith in miracles or supernatural intervention of any 
kind, yet I am not free of superstition with regard to Friday and 
the number thirteen. A certain expectation of trouble haunts me 
during the month or the year that begins with a Friday, or the 
birthday that falls on a Friday. The same for the first glimpse of 
the new moon on a Friday, on a thirteenth or seen through glass. 
I have lived through whole years, not to say months, under a 
shadow of expected evil. Happily, the evil never came and I 
am still alive and as well and comfortable as one dare expect to be 
in one's seventy-ninth year. 

The curious thing is that I knew nothing of these superstitions 
during boyhood, youth, and earlier manhood. It came upon me 
as suddenly as the feeling of dizziness upon looking down from 
heights, whether tower, unparapeted roof, or precipice with noth- 
ing between me and the bottom. I felt it for the first time twenty 
years ago when riding along the bank of a stream not so very far 
below, between Hosios Loukas and Livadia, in central Greece. A 



DECEMBER, 1Q43 163 

fortnight or so before, mounted on a swift pony, I flew along a 
narrow path on the edge of a cliff sinking many hundreds of 
feet down, in the wild country between Andritsaena and Phigalia, 
in the heart of the Peloponnesos. 



December 2d 

Two OR THREE DAYS AGO the republican Fascist government 
met to discuss the Jewish question (among others, no doubt), and 
the only decision come to was that Israelites had to declare works 
of art in their possession. 

Yesterday morning, to the surprise and consternation of almost 
everybody, the government radio came out with the following 
police order: "} ews > whether Italian subjects or foreigners, were 
all to be treated as strangers and alien enemies, to be segregated 
in concentration camps, and their property to be confiscated for 
the benefit of the poor who have suffered from air raids." So much 
for the ukaz, but the radio went on to explain that in Russia as 
enemies of the state they would be shot, but that Italians, being 
sentimentally kindhearted, put up with relegating "the descend- 
ants of Judas and eternal betrayers of Christ" to concentration 
camps, and with returning their property to the poor from whom 
it had been robbed. 

It seems that the prefect is beside himself, threatens to resign 
if the execution of these orders is insisted on. It is to be feared 
that more personal considerations may make him reconsider this 
resolution. I cannot believe that Mussolini and his counselors 
would have given out such an order. They know too well what 
the reactions would be on the part of every Italian except possibly 
some anti-Semites. 

One must conclude that this enactment must have been forced 
by the Nazis, by Himmler's emissaries, if not by himself in person, 
on the chief of police. So much for the independence of the pres- 
ent Italian regime. 

A couple of days ago I read in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zei- 
tung an article on Mussolini. It described the comfortable, spa- 



164 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

cious, rather old-fashioned villa in which he was living. At the 
entrance to the grounds, German S.S. and Blackshirts keep guard. 
At the door one S.S. and one Blackshirt act as sentinels. Mussolini 
was making a marvelous recovery from the hardships which he 
suffered between his dismissal and his liberation. He has thinned 
down but his step is brisker than ever, his eyes brighter, the toss 
of his head more alert. 

He looks the image of decision to regain his power and increase 
it. Meanwhile, he has two doctors, one German and one Italian. 
They take care that he should not get tired; and to assure this, 
they allow nobody to approach him, except for the most urgent 
purposes, or to telephone to him. Indeed, there is no telephone on 
the premises. 

In polite words, the article confirms what I had heard already, 
that the Duce is prisoner of the Nazis, who use him as a figure- 
head when they require one, but deal with Italy as conquered as 
well as occupied country. 

December ^d 

GIOVANNI COLACICCHI was here yesterday, and recounted that 
his brother-in-law was on a repair ship in the harbor of Gaeta 
when German troops tried to take it over. As it ran on steam, 
there was no time to leave port. A dogfight ensued but the Ital- 
ians succeeded in sinking the vessel. The same officer told that in 
all harbors, some of the warships were invaded by the Germans, 
but as they ran on oil they could get away, and after severe tus- 
sles succeeded in throwing the enemy overboard. 

Whether this happened just before or just after the proclama- 
tion of the armistice, I have not learned. It seems that when the 
armistice was agreed upon, the date of its publication was to de- 
pend on events. It had to be proclaimed because it could no longer 
be concealed. What happened seems to have been something like 
this: 

Cavallero, the army chief, played false to Badoglio and be- 
trayed to the Nazis not only the date and conditions of the armi- 



DECEMBER, 1943 165 

stice but the plans of the Allies, which included landings in vari- 
ous places simultaneously, with the assistance of Italian troops, 
By this betrayal the campaign had to take another pattern a 
sorry one, I must add. 

Badoglio must have believed and assured the King that he had 
the army with him, and apparently the Anglo-Saxons took him at 
his word and made their arrangements accordingly. 

It turned out that the army chiefs funked, either because they 
knew that their troops were war-weary or because they them- 
selves hated the British more than they resented the Germans. 
When the armistice was proclaimed, the High Command here in 
Florence, for instance, refused to believe it and left time for the 
Germans to occupy the place. The same happened in Rome and 
probably everywhere. 

Treachery or war-weariness probably a corribinazione. The 
wild joy of all at the announcement of Mussolini's downfall and 
later of the armistice would point to a condition like that of Rus- 
sia early in 1917. Treacherous perhaps, and inglorious certainly, 
the Italian High Command and most officers may have built bet- 
ter than they knew. By standing aside they may have saved the 
country from a social revolution. One may doubt of its success, 
but it might have been more serious than the republican Fascist 
regime. 

December 4th 

MY RETREAT has terraces concentric with the horizon, which is 
just far enough away to seem on a level with the eye. I command 
a full view of the sky southward and westward. I can watch all 
that goes on under its dome. The clouds are endlessly varied, 
from the most delicately evanescent vapors lit up with rose tints 
to massive layers of slate with a curious tendency to stretching 
out in long horizontal strips. I could wish I had Buskin's Modem 
Painters, to read his treatise on clouds, which I now should study 
with an interest it never inspired me with before. I wish I had 
his vocabulary to narrate what goes on in the sky. As it is, I am 



l66 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

reduced to comparing effects with the way the great Italian paint- 
ers reproduced them. The brightest and gayest skies are like Ti- 
tian's in his middle years. When covered, milky, and pearly, they 
remind me of the late Bellini. The cold, watery dawn could be 
painted in gray and green by Bassano, a damp and shivering day 
by the harsh lapis colors of Paris Bordone. As for sunsets, more 
often than not they call up the late Titian and above all Tinto- 
retto and one more enchanting than either, their English descend- 
ant Turner. 

As I look down over Florence, the cathedral, Giotto's campa- 
nile, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio appear romantically silhou- 
etted, and at times startlingly near. The foreground is the usual 
suburban higgledy-piggledy of houses, churches, gardens strag- 
gling at my feet in rags and tatters. Its mass does not disturb, and 
would not annoy but for two cylinder-like gasometers, only taller 
and slimmer. 

I may not speak for the admirers of "abstract art" who no 
doubt prefer gasometers to other edifices, as they generally are 
the most geometrical objects in a landscape. My kind of person 
is distressed by them and one may ask why. 

I suspect that the reason is something like this: not alone be- 
cause of sordid association and evil odors, nor on the other hand 
because of the circular shape. We are not offended by the tomb 
of Cecilia Metella and similar structures all over the ancient 
world. 

The reason may be found in the disparity between shape and 
substance. Their shape, cylindrical and tall, recalls recipients, 
whether of iron, bronze, or even tin, cast all of a piece in a mold, 
not buildings compact of blocks of stone held together by pres- 
sure of weight and contact. 

We can identify ourselves only with things that have weight 
and can carry, and need adequate support. We can feel ourselves 
into a block of stone, or marble, or wood, and realize what is 
above us, to our sides, to our back. We cannot assimilate a shape 
which seems to have walls so thin that they scarcely suggest hav- 
ing a third dimension. 



DECEMBER, 1943 l6/ 

That is, I take it, the chief reason, apart from associations, why 
we dislike gasometers and why we cannot enjoy a structure like 
the Eiffel Tower. We can admire this edifice only as engineering, 
as a geometrical design. It remains as much a mere drawing on 
the sky as if done on paper of ordinary size. 

For the same reason I cannot abandon myself wholeheartedly 
to the enjoyment of certain Gothic masterpieces like Saint-Ouen 
at Rouen. The pillars are relatively so light that I remain uncon- 
vinced of their ability to carry a roof of masonry; and I am led to 
question whether the elements concerned are of solid stone, with 
which I can identify myself, and not of some light metal. So Saint- 
Ouen has always impressed me as an architectural design rather 
than a real building. 

The effect may have been different when it had its glass and its 
furniture. Indeed, Gothic building, as it advanced, found its justi- 
fication more and more as a framework for glass, as a sort of 
cabinetwork, or as a huge metallic casket rather than as architec- 
ture. 

Probably our pleasure in good masonry, where each individual 
block fits into the other, is based on the ease with which we can 
live ourselves into it. Better still, when it is bossed as in many 
Renaissance and some antique buildings and substructures. It 
almost certainly accounts as well for the way I enjoy the huge 
beveled blocks at Baalbek, at Hebron, at the Wailing Wall in 
Jerusalem. 

Architecture, as an art, deals with appearances, and not with 
the actualities of engineering. I approve therefore of the Ameri- 
can skyscraper, which, as structure, is of the same nature as the 
Eiffel Tower, but is so masked with stone, or what looks like 
stone, that we get the impression of masonry that satisfies our de- 
mands for weight and support. 

I mention our skyscrapers because they furnish a supreme in- 
stance of how necessary it is that a building, as a work of art, no 
matter how engineered, how constructed, should appeal through 
the eye to the senses and not to the mind alone. 



l68 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



December 6th 

ALL THE WHILE that Russia has been fighting Germany, I have 
never heard of the colossal advantage she enjoys over her ad- 
versary, thanks to the Anglo-Saxons' keeping Japan too busy to 
attack her, as the warring enemy of her Nazi ally. As it is, the Mika- 
do's empire can do relatively little for Hitler's Reich. The Anglo- 
American forces engaged in the Pacific could be far less effective 
against the Nazis, being chiefly sea and air forces, of which in 
their struggle with Germany they now have enough; while the 
Japanese armies if free to be launched against Russia might give 
the victory to the Axis. 

December jth 

WHEN THE WAR is well over, Europe will be kept busy rebuild- 
ing and restoring all that has been destroyed or used up. That will 
furnish employment to millions, for years. Each country will have 
to find means to keep its laborers in working condition. 

But what shall we do in America with our thirty, or is it forty, 
millions engaged in war work? We shall have to find paid occupa- 
tions for them, but as our houses and office buildings, banks, 
shops, and factories will remain intact, we shall have to invent 
other employment for them than rebuilding and restoring. We 
shall be forced to engage in enterprises that bring no immediate 
return but greatly increase our industrial efficiency. We shall not 
only build dams adding to our electrical power, build or improve 
roads abbreviating and accelerating traffic, but direct most of our 
energies to improving industries to such a degree that we shall be 
able to offer better and less expensive goods, from airplanes to 
children's toys, from the most efficient machinery, swiftest and 
most comfortable cars, to standardized clothing and footgear. 

Europe, busy rebuilding and restoring, will need our producers' 
and our consumers' goods. Europe will get more and more in debt 
to us. We know the state of mind of creditor to debtor, in all ages 
and climes. The moment he insists on payment he is the enemy, 



DECEMBER, 1943 169 

the enemy that must be got rid of. Did not a Harvard professor 
some eighty or ninety years ago murder a dunning moneylender? 
Think how bankers are hated by the fanners at home, and not 
only by farmers. Think of the universal hatred of the usurer, be 
he Semite, Greek, Armenian, or native. I recall being insulted in 
Italy in the years following the last war as a possessor of dollars. 
I recall also the ill feeling there was against us everywhere in 
Europe, over repayment of debts incurred in the last war. It 
reached its most violent expression in France and was openly 
uttered in England. The resentment I encountered there among 
acquaintances was greater than elsewhere. I go so far as to say 
that it may have influenced British policy. 

Britain must already be deeply indebted to us. It will be more 
and more so in the years to follow more perhaps than any Con- 
tinental country. The good result may be that England will feel 
more and more as part of Europe and partner in its difficulties. 
For us Americans, the consequences may not be so happy. The 
British, sooner or later, may lead a crusade against us to free the 
world from the intolerable burden of debt due to us. Delenda 
est America. The late Neville Chamberlain seems to have mut- 
tered it more than once, His successors in the next twenty years 
may shout it from the Houses of Parliament. 

The remedy is at hand; but human nature, even in America, is 
not ready to take it. The remedy is to cancel debts incurred dur- 
ing the war, and to furnish free of charge, to the extent of our 
ability, whatever is necessary to start up the industries of all Eu- 
ropean countries, regardless of what part they took in the war. 
Naturally, those who suffered most would need most help, as may 
be the case where Nazi occupation was most predatory and de- 
structive. That, indeed, would be a "new order" but I fear it 
comes under the rubric "if pigs had wings." 

December gth 

GREECE may be excused for keeping control of antique marbles 
found in its soil. The Greece of today has no other art treasures, 



170 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and can claim a right to retain the more significant finds. Cardinal 
Pacca did well to forbid the alienation of masterpieces that had 
been acquired at public expense by papal nephews, to enhance 
their own family position, while serving for the enjoyment and 
instruction of every man. Indeed, when I first wintered in Rome, 
some five and fifty years ago, I was told by the oldest inhabitants 
that before the Piedmontese occupation, galleries of papal origin, 
like the Doria, Borghese, Barberini, etc., etc., were always open 
for everybody to walk in and out, as if through a public square. 
The common people carried their sense of copartnership so far 
that, having no privies of their own, they used instead the vesti- 
bules and grand staircases of the great palaces. 

On the other hand, the attempt of communities, big and little, 
to retain their own art creations, good and bad, great and small, 
for no better reason than that they were done by fellow country- 
men or fellow townsmen long ago, is as narrowing, as self -immur- 
ing, as the rest of nationalism. 

I have no little to say about the campaign and propaganda in 
favor of the Italian patrimonio artistico, but it would take me too 
far, and demand much more space than I want to give to any 
one of these notes and reflections. If common sense, rather than 
the parish pump, dictated in these matters, Italian cities, instead 
of thoughtlessly keeping endless duplicates of their own works of 
art to themselves, would exchange all except the very best and 
most significant with the equivalent from other towns in the pen- 
insula. 

You can have such a thing as too many Botticellis or Bellinis in 
one museum; and an exchange between Florence and Venice 
would be sensible, some Botticellis going to Venice and some Bel- 
linis to Florence. 

It is still easier to get overfed, as one does at Siena, with Sano 
di Pietros, Giovanni di Paolos, Matteo di Giovannis, Girolamo di 
Benvenutos, Beccafumis, etc., etc. Likewise at Perugia, Verona, 
Vicenza, one gets satiated with the abundance of local compe- 
tence and incompetence in the realm of art, as one does even at 
Bologna and Ferrara. 



DECEMBER, 

In the greater Italian galleries you seldom see a Sienese, a gen- 
uinely Perugian (for Perugino was not one), or, excepting Paolo 
Caliari, a Veronese painting. The only approach to a pan-Italian 
collection of pictures, the Brera in Milan, was formed under Na- 
poleonic auspices. 

Duplicates of more representative artists should go abroad. 
Every noble and even attractive work of art that goes to a foreign 
land acts as a missionary, inspiring sympathy for the people who 
produced it, and eagerness to visit their land. 

Italian towns have the excuse that their works of art are all 
native and that their alienation is no light matter. 

But what shall we say of Nazi Germany! There Munich sold 
Raphael's "Bindo Altoviti" and Berlin recalled all Italian pictures 
that it had distributed in various provincial collections, including 
more than one masterpiece, from Konigsberg to Cologne, in order 
to sell them. With the proceeds more Pachers, more Cranachs, 
more Altdorfers, more Hubers could be added to collections that 
already had too many. No small part of these acquisitions had the 
interest only of being stepping stones in the career of a painter. 

This leads me to say, parenthetically, that in making purchases 
for public collections, the whole staff should be consulted and not 
merely the expert for the article proposed. He is too apt to con- 
found artistic with archaeological interest, and to subordinate the 
first to the last. 

Dutch and Spaniards may not be inspired by a wish to exclude 
foreign museums from acquiring their works of art the Dutch 
certainly not. Yet I would urge tibe former, these most rational of 
men, to exhibit fewer Vanderhelsts and similar hand-photogra- 
phers. They bore one to the extent of indisposing one toward such 
a marvelous picture gallery as Amsterdam's. 

As for Spaniards, they seem to have lost their heads over Goya. 
This real genius was most unequal. Portraits even do not always 
do him justice. In the painted cartoons for tapestries he is vulgar 
and hasty. Filling hall after hall of the Prado with these sprawling 
and screaming compositions is doing him no service. 

Public funds should not be spent on imitating the American 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

millionaire, honored and even glorified, for having acquired some 
twenty copies of the first-folio Shakespeare, thereby preventing 
libraries, where they might be useful, from acquiring even one. 

December loth 

I CANNOT HELP identifying religion and nationality. A Protes- 
tant is not quite a Frenchman, scarcely an Italian, and certainly 
no Spaniard. A Catholic is not quite an Englishman, nor even an 
American. To be a real Bostonian, when I was a lad, one had to be 
a Unitarian. Now society in that part of the U. S. A. with which I 
am acquainted drifts toward Episcopalianism. 

The tendency everywhere is toward the dominant church. Who 
hears nowadays of a French Catholic turning Protestant, let alone 
an Italian or Spaniard? Who has ever heard of a Berlin Jew of the 
upper classes turning Catholic or a Viennese one Evangelical? 

I cannot therefore blame the Turks of today for requiring that 
to share in the privileges and duties of a citizen he needs to be 
born a Mohammedan. If he grows up and becomes an atheist all 
the better. A like notion may have lurked in the background of 
Italian Fascism, and sprung all armed from the head of Mussolini 
when, in deference to Hitler, he began his anti-Semitic campaign. 

December nth 

A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO the Regime Fascista had a serious arti- 
cle on Christ and Israel. 

After vague talk about a Christ that was not God and indeed in 
no ways superterrestrial and of Spirito the equivocal term 
spread by Croce's followers, which may mean mind or spirit, but 
generally mind the writer went on to say that Israel was the 
enemy of humanity. Japan alone was as yet uncorrupted by 
Jewry. Even Fascism had not escaped its contagion, as is proved 
by the fact that nineteen out of twenty-five, at the last meeting of 
the Grand Council, voted against its chief, the immaculate Mus- 
solini. 

The article went on to appeal to the human race in general, but 



DECEMBER, 1943 173 

to the Anglo-Saxons in particular, to stop killing each other in a 
war started, fostered, and prolonged by Jewry for world domin- 
ion. It is a war that is ruining a Europe from which most Jews 
took care to get away before trouble began. 

In short, the article out-anti-Semitized the reasoning of the Na- 
zis with arguments made in Germany but served up cold and fly- 
bitten here. Could the writer have believed a word of what he 
said? And what of his readers? 



December izth 

I RECALL that, some five and twenty years ago, in Paris, W. L., 
then a young man, asked what was the matter with our world. I 
remember answering that most states were far too big and that all 
undertook too much. 

The big states are overgrown, overheavy, overcomplicated, 
overworked. Attempts to prune them, to simplify them, to divide 
up the burden lead to authoritarian totalitarianism. They may 
end by breaking down, returning to anarchy, and at best to a feu- 
dal anarchy. 

I recall, too, saying at the same time that the solutions offered 
were as a rule of too abstract a nature and applied (if at all) to 
economic man only; but that economic man had the same relation 
to the real man that a geometrical figure inscribed within the out- 
lines of a human body has to the living, acting, selfish, acquisitive, 
ruthless, passionate, human individual. 

I cannot rid myself of a suspicion that has haunted me for dec- 
ades, namely, that we might attain results better or as good by 
letting things drift, letting things happen, letting them find their 
own level, and stop fussing. What could be worse than the con- 
sequences that accompany, if they are not the product of, our uni- 
versal and constant intervention, so profoundly thought out, so 
ingeniously planned, so mathematically certain! Would more mil- 
lions be killed on land, in the air, on and under the seas than will 
have perished before this war is over? And when it is over, what 
shall we be reduced to but to a poorhouse where we shall have to 



174 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

slave for bread and water, with nothing to comfort us except the 
certainty that, our overseers apart, nobody is better off than we 
ourselves are. Ever-present state interference in Germany, in 
Italy, and even in England and America has kept these countries 
out of civil wars. But I doubt if international war is any more de- 
sirable. Internal wars are fought to decide what class in the com- 
munity, at a given moment, is most fit to rule. The decision surely 
is not more subject to accident than is international strife; and the 
strife is about something more concrete, more real, and more in- 
telligible. 

If there are more wars, they may be social wars, interest against 
interest, class against class. I am tired of sentimentalizing over the 
workingman, crooning over him, and coddling him, as if he were 
the only concern and care of the state. If it comes to a free fight, 
with power in his hands, he will not be sentimental toward us; he 
will not think of all we have done for him since civilization began; 
he will not be more merciful to us than he has been in Soviet Rus- 
sia. Let us give every chance to the workman's son. If he has the 
gifts to take advantage of them, let us do our utmost to assimilate 
him and make him feel that he is, in every way, one of us. Let us 
avoid educating the proletarian who has no aptitude for being 
taught to reason, and from teaching can only retain catchwords. 
If he has the gift of gab, and malignant stars favor him, he may 
turn out a Mussolini or a Hitler. 



December i$th 

AFTER HIGH MASS YESTERDAY, at the SS. Annunziata, the 
Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Delia Costa, gave an allocution. 
Among other things he said that the chief dangers for society to- 
day were nationalism, racism, and tribalism. The church was only 
half full and the congregation consisted for the most part of the 
lower classes, some of the men in uniform. They seem to have lis- 
tened with grins and even laughter, and whether it was of ap- 
proval or of jeering, my informant could not say. 



DECEMBER, 1943 175 

At last a full account of what has happened to my house. 

Soon after the coming of the Germans, the art authorities fur- 
nished placards warning that the place was under their special 
protection and not to be occupied. 

Nevertheless, it was not long before German officers appeared 
and inspected the house to see whether it would suit them. Berti 
Anrep received them nicely, and they let themselves be per- 
suaded that they had better look elsewhere. 

Later other Germans showed up, this time medical officers with 
a view to taking up quarters at I Tatti. At first it was five or six 
with their orderlies; then it was the entire staff, comprising at 
least fifty persons. That would have been a disaster indeed. In the 
first place, it would have meant moving Mary, in her helpless in- 
valid condition, from her nest, her special bed, her familiar sur- 
roundings, to an impersonal nursing home. Then it might have 
entailed rough handling by common soldiers, and damage not 
soon repaired, given the conditions we shall be left in when the 
Allies arrive. 

While the Anreps were already packing up their belongings 
the Germans suddenly decided that Poggio Gherardo, the neigh- 
boring place, suited them much better and, taking possession of 
it, ordered the tenants there to clear out and to settle down in my 
house instead. 

The first thing the jolly boys did there was to throw all the fur- 
niture out of doors and windows, letting it rattle down hill. Then 
they installed a pig in what used to be the dining room. In short, 
they made themselves at home. 

Poggio Gherardo, as a place, may go back some eight or nine 
hundred years. The present house must be of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. There are wide corridors and spacious rooms. It now be- 
longs to the Aubrey Waterfields, British subjects. When Mussolini 
declared war against England, the estate was sequestrated and a 
Fascist Senator chose to occupy it on a nominal rental, although 
he disposes of two houses in town. At a moment's notice he was 
bidden to remove himself to I Tatti, where nine rooms were as- 
signed to him, my study, bed and dressing room, music and din- 



176 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ing room and drawing room downstairs, and three rooms on the 
second floor. All this for the Senator, his lady companion, and 
three servants. 

The first thing he did on reaching the Tatti was to sit down and 
write five foolscap pages of claims for damage, addressed to the 
occupying authorities. Nearly one page was filled with his titles 
Grand Officer of the Kingdom, Grand Officer of the Order of Sts. 
Maurice and Lazarus, ex-Undersecretary for Agriculture, etc., 
etc. His claims were of two sorts, moral and material. The moral 
damage consisted of disturbance inflicted on an old man, who for 
his services to the state merited a well-earned repose. He would, 
however, set up no claims for damages because, although he was 
known to high-placed Nazi officials, and through them could get 
a hearing, he did not want to trouble the glorious occupying 
forces, for he had an admiration amounting to reverence for the 
German army. For material damage, he expected to be repaid, 
and that consisted of furniture that had suffered in transport, and 
the cost of bringing it over. 

It seems that the occupying authorities pay claims of the last 
kind, provided of course they are made by Italians and not by 
enemy aliens, as indeed they pay rent for Italian houses they oc- 
cupy. One of the reasons, by the way, why they look out for 
places belonging to foreigners, and under sequestration. 

The above-mentioned Senator's claims for damage remind me 
of what happened to Aline Sassoon, in the early days of the auto- 
mobile. She was motoring in the Scotch Highlands, and at the 
approach of the car sheep were scattered. The owner claimed fifty 
pounds for moral damages to this flock. 

The claimant in this case is only sixty, nor does anybody under- 
stand just what were the services that entitled him to a well- 
earned repose. He seems to have picked up quite a bit by creep- 
ing and crawling. 

He has been living for many years with a lady some fifteen 
years his senior. She dominates him completely. She still has a 
husband, it seems, in a high mountain village on the way to Rome. 



DECEMBER, 1943 177 

It was famous in its day for its highwaymen and, if we may trust 
Horace Walpole, for possessing, among its relics, a complete set of 
gnashing of teeth, and a bit of the blessed fig tree which Our Lord 
cursed. 

Alda Anrep, who, with husband and son, is living at I Tatti ? had 
to receive this lady and was told by her that we should strew 
roses, roses all the way where the Germans were going to tread, 
because they were saving us from the worst horror known to man 
an Allied occupation. 

This same lady has a very grown-up son. His only title to fame 
is that he counts as a fervid anti-Semite. 

I learn, by the way, that the Mussolinian radio every day 
belches out a chapter of the anti-Semites' law and prophets the 
"Protocols of the Elders of Israel" 

December i^th 

THE FASCIST RADIO and the Stefani agency yesterday made a 
declaration to the following effect: In times of trouble and un- 
certainty, as all history teaches, not only are political prisoners 
liberated but many criminals get loose. 

Such criminal elements have gathered into groups, arrogating 
to themselves police powers, and committing regrettable acts, for 
which they have no authority. They pay off private grudges, or 
want to get hold of other people's property. 

They must be dissolved at once, and nobody must exercise po- 
lice functions except a national guard of carabinieri in combina- 
tion with Blackshirt militia. 

One may ask: Why have the prefect and other authorities now 
in power made no effort to stop these gangsters? Why have they 
not until now dared to disown such a hemomaniac as according 
to all accounts their chief, a certain Capitano Carita charity! 
seems to be? 

Dreadful things have indeed been going on, apart from Jew- 
hounding. In Florence alone there are several places to which 



178 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

people are taken, tortured, half killed, and let out, some to die 
almost immediately. The pretext nearly always is that the victims 
are Communists, i.e., anti-Fascists. 



December 

ITALY, the Italy of the resuscitated Mussolini, of the Mussolini 
who in 1934 said all he could and all that need be said about anti- 
Semitism, namely, that Italy was no place for it, has followed 
Germany and declared that no Jew can be an Italian, that all Jews 
are to be considered as foreigners and, while the war is on, as 
alien enemies. 

Now there are no countries in the world that have benefited 
more by the Jews than the Italy and Germany of the last century 
and a half. Here they have not only contributed to finance, to 
commerce, and to every kind of material welfare, but fought for 
the liberty, independence, and unity of the country. When some- 
body at the beginning of the racial laws took their defense the 
Fascist answer was not to deny what the Jews had done but to 
assert that they had done it for their own advantage. As if anyone 
ever did anything against his own advantage, the term taken in 
its widest meaning! 

I need not attempt to say how loyal, how helpful Jews have 
been to even the Fascist regime here, and how much they did to 
create a Germany that made it possible for Nazis to carry on the 
war they are fighting so wonderfully. 

The hardest thing for Italian and German Jews of the better 
class to bear now is to be deprived of the feeling for the country 
and people with which from early infancy they have been taught 
to identify themselves. Many were baptized at birth, or were 
brought up with no sense of difference between themselves and 
their fellow citizens. Suddenly, for no fault of theirs or of their 
forebears, they are deprived not only of home, country, and of 
national identity but massacred as anthropomorphic microbes, 
or at best driven out with no land to receive them, no people to 
welcome them. They are too many and the world everywhere is 



DECEMBER, 1943 *79 

too full of them, for the bitter truth is that no community can 
afford more than a certain number of Jews. Sad is the lot of these 
Schlehmils who have not sold, but been brutally shorn of their 
shadows. 



December i6th 

HAVE JUST READ Charles Louis Philippe's Bubu de Montpar* 
nasse. I cannot attempt to apprize it as writing, although even as 
a layman, and no expert critic, I could find much to say about the 
unexpectedness and freshness of the style, its suppleness, its duc- 
tility, remaining so classical while neither neglecting nor hiding 
anything. I may venture, however, to speak of the book as litera- 
ture; and literature is the art which creates, or discovers, types 
and characters, enlarges, widens, deepens our feeling for human- 
ity, our sense of the universe, and of our place in it. From that 
point of view, Bubu de Montparnasse is a masterpiece. It intro- 
duces us to a Paris of poor and lonely students who come up from 
the country to train for a profession, soft-boiled, tender, aspiring, 
and encounter another Paris, the Paris of the hard-boiled, the 
tough souteneurs, and the prostitutes. It is not the Paris that we 
American tourists or even artists know, the Paris between the 
Louvre and the Bois, nor yet the Paris of the studios, but of the 
lower and lowest classes of the Boulevard Sebastopol and its 
variegated, multicolored, crapulous night life. 

The heroes of the book, if it has any, are Pierre Hardy, a tender- 
foot and tenderheart, and the tough-tough in the slang as well as 
in the ordinary sense the souteneur, the blackguard who exploits 
prostitutes for a living, Bubu de Montparnasse. He victimizes a 
little woman whom he debauched and so sealed to himself (in the 
Mormon sense of the word "sealed") that she neither could nor 
would get away from him, despite his slapping her, cuffing her, 
and treating her as his mere convenience. And yet she is a little 
woman who in sheltered circles would have made a dear wify. 
Pierre Hardy meets her streetwalking, takes her to his bosom, and 
might have ended by marrying her. Bubu, who has been in prison, 



l8o RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

appears unexpectedly with other toughs, male and female, and 
snatches her out of Hardy's bed. 

The hard-boiled in this story have it all their own way, and 
the soft ones knuckle under. Yet the author has understanding 
and, if not sympathy, at least charity for everybody. Even these 
brutes are not wholly inhuman, are capable of pity and affection, 
if not of love. In none of them is the sense of better things wholly 
dead. 

Bubu is an Ubermensch, a superman. He is solid, he is chesty, 
self-possessed, without scruple, without a thought of how his con- 
duct may affect others. "He walks abroad without a care while 
others toil; he can get the better of everything about him; he 
walks like a man to whom the street belongs, as if it were his 
Louvre. He felt ample and free in his thoughts, in his vital parts, 
in his ideated life, in his life as he lived it. ... He takes Berthe 
the florist, picks her up lovely and virgin, and turns her into an 
instrument for his pleasure and then of his profit. He feels his 
muscles, he taps his chest and says: *I am Bubu de Mont- 
parnasse.' " 

He is the stuff of which is made the late American gangster, the 
Italian Ardito and squadrista, now giving his last kick, the Ger- 
man S.S. men and their equivalents in Spain, Rumania, and else- 
where. They come to the top in moments of social upheaval, and 
rule and ruin their victims as have Fascist and Nazi leaders to 
mention the two worst gangs, the two who unfortunately have 
made history, and done so much to unmake our world. 

I wonder whether Celine would have written his Voyage au 
Bout de la Nuit if he had not read Charles Louis Philippe. His 
book is still farther away from our Paris as far as Belleville and 
even farther, places from which our Paris looms in the distance, 
no more to be approached or even envied than Olympus was by 
ordinary mortals. In a sense I find Au Bout de la Nuit more of a 
revelation than Bubu. As no other work does it make me feel how 
much mere animal happiness can underlie the most horrible con- 
ditions of life, and make it worth living. 

It would be interesting to compare Stephen Crane's Maggie: A 



DECEMBER, 1943 l8l 

Girl of the Streets with Bubu. Crane was dead before the latter 
was published, nor is it likely that the author of Bubu was ac- 
quainted with Crane's story. They have much in common, both 
being tales of toughs and prostitutes. But the contrasts and not the 
resemblances attract me. The Irish-Americans are pugnacious, 
brutal, utterly without self -awareness, energizing with no thought 
of consequences, and ending dead drunk on the dung heap. The 
girl Maggie, a flower of that dung heap, too delicate, too tender to 
live in her surroundings, makes away with herself. Not even in her 
does mind count, and in the others there is no sign of it. In the 
Parisians there is intelligence among the coarsest and toughest, as 
well as in the least tough and least bestial, as in Berthe, Bubu's 
bread-winner and pleasure-giver. 

December ijth 

YESTERDAY I saw an elderly Englishwoman married in Genoa 
to an Italian and having grown-up Italian children. When Mus- 
solini made war on the British Empire, she was sent to a concen- 
tration camp somewhere in Umbria. Influence procured her liber- 
ation, but not permission to return to Genoa. 

When Mussolini decreed the return of all income held abroad 
by his subjects, American women were compelled to do it as Ital- 
ian citizens. Long before he joined Japan against us, American 
women married to Italians were already treated with suspicion, 
cold-shouldered and made uneasy, no matter what their social 
condition. They had to keep out of the way, lie low, almost in 
hiding. 

December i8th 

MANY IN THIS COUNTRY, I learn, believe that it was Roosevelt's 
master stroke to get the Japanese into such a corner that there 
was nothing left for them but to attack us as they did at Pearl 
Harbor. After this the American people, hitherto still uncertain, 
still hesitating, could not help hitting back and thereby entering 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the war, who knows how much earlier than it would have other- 
wise. The delicate question remains whether such a Themistoclean 
thought ever passed through Franklin Roosevelt's head. Did it 
through the minds of Irish and Jewish secretaries? 

December igth 

I WAS READING recently how Andrea Dandolo turned the Fourth 
Crusade aside from its idealistic purpose of liberating the Holy 
Land from the Moslem yoke. Instead, he induced it to conquer, 
impoverish, and ruin the only Christian power that might act for 
Europe as a shield and buckler against the invading Turk, Seljuk, 
or Ottoman. 

It struck me as a parallel to what happened more than six cen- 
turies later when the Italian Rteorgimento was taken over by the 
Piedniontese. These greedy and insatiable annexationists trapped 
the movement into serving their own ambitions, to satisfy their 
will to power, to prestige, to swagger. When His Sardinian Maj- 
esty visited London just after the Crimean War, did he not go 
about begging for a petit agrandissement de territoire! 

The Risorgimento might have ended in a cantonal federation 
of the Swiss type. It could have remained liberal, humanitarian, 
and enlightened. Its population, its moral and material resources 
would have placed it at the head of the smaller powers. With 
them, it could have confederated to defend every decent, every 
civilizing, every humanizing principle. Instead, it let itself be an- 
nexed by Piedmont, which thereby could realize its multisecular 
dream of claiming recognition as a great power. 

As a great power, Italy with no material resources, with no re- 
liable army, with no adequate authority enabling it to play the 
part, was driven to take up a sorry role. 

It had to trouble the international waters so as to fish in them. 
It had to encourage the evil courses of the effective great powers, 
so as to establish precedents for its own rapacious conduct, should 
it have the chance. So much has the Italian soul been imbued with 
the lust for conquest, for increase of territory, for prestige, that 



DECEMBER, 1943 183 

few Italians disapproved the imposition of their rule over hun- 
dreds of thousands of Germans and Yugoslavs in the Tirol, the 
Triestino, and Istria. Even after the last war Salvemini, after- 
wards persecuted and driven into exile as opposed to aggrandize- 
ment, assured me that these new subjects would profit by the 
benignity and humanity of Italian administration. After the bom- 
bardment of Corfu certain anti-Fascists announced with great 
complacence that in international matters they would always be 
found on the side of their government. When Nitti, the very bug- 
bear of Italian nationalists, returned to report about the settle- 
ments after the war, he made the memorable declaration that Italy 
at last had the keys to her house, and that in consequence nothing 
of an international nature could happen anywhere on earth in 
which she would not have her say. I do not recall whether it was 
in public or privately that he made the declaration that against 
America he held in his hand a powerful weapon. It was stopping 
the supply of Italian labor! 

The other fatality of the Rteorgimento was Garibaldi the cow- 
boy, the gaucho, the chesty Don Quixote who when all is said and 
done found but windmills and sheep to face him. As when the 
French arrived in 1796, or the Nazis three months ago, Garibaldi 
and his Thousand encountered no serious resistance; and every- 
thing fell before him as he marched from Palermo to end in the 
net spread for his capture by the Piedmontese. His successes and 
the assistance of the French in Lombardy, costing all together 
some five or six thousand Italian lives, left them with the convic- 
tion that they could make successful wars at small outlay. Thus 
they attacked a scarcely defended Libya, and Abyssinians armed 
with superannuated muskets, bows and arrows, and javelins. 

Along the same lines there would be much to say about Mus- 
solini's policy in Spain, as well as in attacking France when he 
thought she was finished and that in a few weeks England too 
would yield to the Nazis. But of that on another occasion. 



184 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 



December zoth 

A FEW DECADES AGO the Bostonian psychiatrist Morton Prince 
wrote The Dissociation of a Personality. It spoke of a pious, good, 
rather ailing young woman called "Miss Beauchamp." When her 
health was worse than usual, she lost her more constant continu- 
ous personality, which gave place to a naughty, even malicious 
will-o'-the-wisp of a creature, whom Prince called "Sally." 

This Sally would eat and drink things that made Miss Beau- 
champ sick, boasted, swaggered, strutted, swore in a way that 
would have horrified the other; or took her a tramp of, say, fifteen 
miles, wearing the body out to a frazzle, and then leaving poor, 
utterly exhausted, and helpless Miss Beauchamp to find her way 
home. Fascism has played Sally to Italy's Miss Beauchamp. The 
great majority of the Italian people is as peace-loving as any in 
our world, humane to others and hating adventure. Nevertheless, 
the Fascio made it bombard Corfu, invade Abyssinia, intervene 
with all its available resources in Spain, in order to spread its own 
madness further and to extend its dominions over the whole Mid- 
land Sea. And finally it made it stab France in the back, when this 
seemed safe to do so. 

Sally-Fascio is still gibbering, gesticulating, and misbehaving 
revoltingly; but her days, perhaps her hours, are numbered. Who 
will pay but poor Miss Beauchamp-Italy, and it will be a long and 
heavy bill. It will take this unhappy land and its people decades, 
generations perhaps, to obliterate the effect of its misdoings in 
the last ten years. I pity innocent Italians and Germans who were 
misled into consenting, or terrorized into submitting, to the ac- 
tions of their governments. If only they could learn that it is every 
citizen's business to watch his rulers, who should be good house- 
keepers and not conquering demigods, peaceful participants in 
the House of Life and not gangsters panting to exploit it! 

* * * 

I hear that the Vatican has a representative at Moscow and is 
pleased with the way he is being treated. It is rumored also that 



DECEMBER, 1943 *&5 

the Pope summoned Weizsacker, the German Ambassador, and 
told him that if his government insisted on applying here in Italy 
all the Nuremberg laws against Jews he at Christmastime would 
radiophone a discourse that they would not like. It seems that in 
consequence an alleviation of these mad monstrosities has been 
promised; but I have not heard yet that anything more humane 
has been done. 

Far from it! But first, let me jot down that it is now ascertained 
that the bombs that fell upon the Vatican buildings a little while 
ago were not thrown by Anglo-Americans, nor even by Germans, 
but by Mussolinians starting from their airfield at Viterbo, with 
the intention of smashing up the Vatican radio installation. 

December 2ist 

NEARLY TWO MONTHS AGO my hostess began to talk of prepar- 
ing a plum pudding for Christmas. I expressed the hope that she 
would invite me to partake of this Yuletide dish. She looked at me 
archly and said that of course I would be as I should still be here. 
I submitted skeptically, but here I am and the Allies are fighting 
in the Abruzzi for ditches, for crumbling slopes, for precipices, 
for crags, or merely marking time. Meanwhile, people in the Italy 
occupied by the Germans, and their bootlickers the neo-Musso- 
linians, are losing faith in the Allies, doubting whether they ever 
will come, and drifting towards a sort of reconciliation with their 
former masters, hoping that these will turn out no worse than they 
were previously. 

It will take great events to justify the Allied campaign in South- 
ern Italy. At present they seem to be fulfilling the prophecy of 
Churchill, when he spoke of what it would be if they had to con- 
quer Italy inch by inch. 

** * # 

I have been reading for months past about Italy and the Near 
East from Constantine to Dandolo from 300 to 1200. It confirms 
the conviction I have had for forty years at least that if parlia- 
mentary rule had nothing else to be said in its favor, it was yet the 



l86 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

least bad regime, because the only one that permitted a change 
of ministry without confiscations, mutilations, massacres, and civil 
wars. 

** <* 

A claim for racial purity can be made in good faith only by 
those who know no history and forget human nature. Apart from 
the obvious fact that sex ignores race, ignores class, ignores re- 
ligious differences, not to speak of such newfangled dogmas as 
nationality, and that infiltration of heterogeneous blood was even 
more abundant in the past than at present, we know that in every 
migration the immigrant and conquering males have taken up 
with the native women. We know that in historical times transfers 
of populations have taken place under Assyrian and Babylonian 
rulers as in our day under Stalin and Hitler. Stalin has been churn- 
ing all the races of Asia and Eastern Europe in one churn, and it 
will be interesting, in generations to come, to study the result. 
Hitler has called back Germans from the heart of Russia, from 
Yugoslavia, from Bulgaria, as well as from the Baltic provinces. 
Does he really believe that these peasants and tradespeople have 
suffered no mixture with other races? 

The noted publicist Hermann Keyserling jokingly asserts that 
he is a descendant of Genghis Khan. Many of his cousins on his 
mother's side have the same Mongoloid eyes and skin. They 
scarcely go back to Timugin. More likely to a licit or illicit alliance 
with native Estonians among whom the Ungern-Sternbergs set- 
tled as conquerors. 

So much for conquests, migrations, and transfers of population. 
It is not all. There is still another flow of foreign blood into the 
veins of settled populations from the earliest times down to nearly 
our own day, in Turkish harems till the end of the sultanate. I re- 
fer to slavery. It was for thousands of years the most uninterrupted 
and profitable trade. Nobody in antiquity or the earlier Middle 
Ages was immune from the liability of being sold into slavery. If 
we may trust report, even a Plato did not escape it and more than 
one philosopher Epictetus, for instance remained a slave or 
was so born. I need not expatiate on facts which are easily accessi- 



DECEMBER, 1943 187 

ble in books. What must have been the result? Not to speak of 
the upper-class women who abandoned themselves to slaves phys- 
ically and morally superior to their husbands, the huge slave pop- 
ulation ended by merging with the natives and injecting into their 
veins blood from every white and perhaps from every black, even 
every yellow, race. I have seen Moslem women in Syria looking 
like French great ladies, I have seen Van Dycks hoeing in the 
fields of the Hauran. At Constantine I have seen Jewesses blonder 
than any Scandinavian. Near Ghadames I conversed with Arabs 
as pink-cheeked as any beef-eating English farmer. On the other 
hand, I know Italians who look as Hittite as any Syrian, Germans 
of many quarterings who look as Jewish as if they came straight 
from the Pale. One need not speak of Arab, Berber, and even 
Negroid types in Sicily, Spain, and above all in southern Portu- 
gal. 

The Nazi may protest that he had no southern slaves, that he 
was never invaded by yellow warriors. The latter claim is certainly 
not true. What of all the Eastern tribes that stampeded across the 
length and breadth of Germany in the train of Attila and other 
conquerors! Did they piously spare the Teutonic females and 
avoid fecundating them? Later, Westphalian cadets with no place 
for them at home wound their way across the Elbe and occupied 
Slav territory. They dispossessed the native gentry and married 
their daughters. In the Balticum they brought no peasantry with 
them, and most probably it was the same in the trans-Elbe region. 
Probably the lower orders of those territories are Teutonized Ma- 
zurs, Poles, and Lithuanians, everything but pure-blooded Ger- 
mans. Not so long ago when they were in a rage with a neighbor 
they were still sending him not to the devil but to the Teuton. Es 
hole dich der Teutsche. Even if "Teutsche" was only a euphemism 
replacing "Teufel" it would not be intelligible if not heartfelt! 

December 2^d 

READING Crispoltfs Pio IX, Leone XIII, Pio X e Benedetto XV, 
I note that the author, like all Catholic publicists in France 



l88 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and Italy, tries to defend the last-named Pope against the charge 
of having been pro-German during the last World War. 

I used to know a man who was born, so to speak, on the thresh- 
hold of the Vatican and all but brought up in its precincts. He 
knew all that was going on during the reign of Benedict XV, and 
assured me that he was uncompromisingly pro- Austrian and there- 
fore pro-German. Should the future be interested in this Pope it 
will not find it easy to get at the facts. Scholars will discuss, po- 
lemicize, and conclude in accordance with their prejudices and 
call their conclusions "history." 

The same friend told me that Benedict XV fell head over heels 
under the influence of a certain Gerlach. Consequently, Roman 
Black society raved over this fascinating, aristocratic, wealthy 
young prelate. He entertained the cardinals magnificently, he was 
prodigal in alms-giving, he was most devout and scrupulously at- 
tentive to every ritual prescription. 

He came to Rome highly recommended by the Archbishop of 
Cologne. Yet it turned out that this personage who said mass, 
heard confession, and administered the Holy Sacrament, even to 
the Pope himself, was no priest, not even a Catholic but a Protes- 
tant and a Prussian secret agent. 

The acquaintance from whom I learnt this remained an unques- 
tioning, pious, practicing Roman Catholic. All the same, he had 
no great opinion of the perspicacity or character of even the high- 
est clergy. We were talking one day of the difficulties in bringing 
back Anglicans to the bosom of the Church. We discussed many, 
and finally I mentioned papal supremacy. That, he said, was the 
one and only insurmountable difficulty. Every other could be in- 
dulged or smoothed over; not that one. No non-Catholic could see 
through papal actualities as this true and loyal son of Holy 
Church. 

December 24th 

WHEN THE AIR WAR CEASED to favor Nazis and their junior 
partners it became mere terrorizing on the part of the Allies. The 



DECEMBER, 1943 l&J 

last German papers speak of it now as the Judenkrieg the Jew 
war. 

Who began it? Who used it with every material accompani- 
ment to overwhelm Holland, Belgium, and France? Who gloated 
over devastations in London and the total destruction of Coven- 
try? I recall the German press stating with satisfaction that forty- 
three thousand English men and women lost their lives during the 
first German air campaign. It was all the fault of Churchill, who 
alone prevented the dear, over-the-water cousins from joining the 
family of pure-blooded Teutons. 

Judenkrieg in a sense it does answer to the description in the 
Apocalypse of what would happen when Antichrist came to reign. 

Not a little of Nazism runs parallel with, if it is not copied from, 
the meanest kind of ghetto Judaism. We need not enumerate other 
items of the rabbinical dream. For the most part it is a Zukunfts- 
musik a music of the future promising the messianic triumph 
of Judaism over other nations. These would submit or disappear. 
The ejffective program of rabbinism is the segregation of the Jew. 
As that is getting more and more difficult, the individual Jew in 
hundreds of thousands if not in millions refuses to be segregated 
in a ghetto. Once out of it, the Jew ceases to be a Jew in every- 
thing cultural and remains one, if at all, only zoologically and to 
some extent, no doubt, atavistically. 

Hitler, following Mussolini here as in so much else, but effec- 
tively and not merely as a stato di progetto as a program, as a 
pious wish compels every German subject out of his own coun- 
try not to live in a ghetto but to remain ghetto-minded. I mean 
to say that he has to bring up his children in schools where every- 
thing, even the alphabet, is taught with Nazi intent. He has to at- 
tend frequent Nazi gatherings. In these conventicles he is com- 
manded to remain true to the Nazi faith, to extirpate Jews, and to 
worship Hitler as God, as Lord of all, just as Israelites adore Je- 
hovah. The individual German is carefully watched, and woe to 
him if he utters a word against the faith or shows himself luke- 
warm. 

From the very beginning of air war as practiced by Germans, in 



IQO RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Poland, in the Netherlands, in France, and most of all over Lon- 
don and other English towns, I felt sure they would lose especially 
if we Americans came in, as indeed I never doubted we should. 
Anglo-Saxon mechanical resources, Anglo-Saxon mechanical skill, 
Anglo-Saxon sportsmanship would take to it and carry it beyond 
competition. 

This has already happened. The Nazis can put up no adequate 
defense against our air attacks. Let infantry-minded people sneer 
to their bile's content, I for one believe that we could win the war 
from the air alone. 

If I had my way I should go on pounding at Berlin until panic 
possessed its denizens I deliberately say "denizens" so that 
they ran hither and thither all over the Fatherland spreading hap- 
less, despairing dread and woe, far and wide. Against millions in 
such a state no S.S., no Gestapo, no Himmler nor even a Hitler 
could prevail. The armies at the front, if they did not catch the 
disorder, would soon be left without food, without munition, with- 
out clothes, and have to give up the game. 

In making this proposal, am I so bloodthirsty, so heartless, so 
inhuman? I am none of those things. I am abstract. Anyone who 
knows me or who has read these notes must be aware how much 
I appreciate and love the kind of German who, until a not distant 
past, contributed so much towards building our House of Life. In 
actual life I am almost caressing to individuals who come into my 
presence. The moment it is not Hans or Bodo or Waldemar in the 
concrete but Nazis in general, human pity, feeling, sympathy can 
disappear and give place to an abstraction with no human content. 

December 2^th 

I REFERRED YESTERDAY to the way abstraction can dehuman- 
ize one. I recall that in the last war I was wondering whether that 
was not the reason why Germans for the great part, as individuals 
so kindhearted and so ready to feel with others, can turn into 
mechanized executioners, as impersonal as a guillotine, the mo- 



DECEMBER, 1943 igi 

ment the Fatherland, the state, the army orders them to go against 
abstractions labeled French, English, Russian, etc., etc. 

I have been tempted at times to ask whether this unusual readi- 
ness of Germans to submit to abstractions in every field, not of ac- 
tion alone but of thought as well, was not in part at least due to 
their indulging too much in symphonic, relatively timeless, music. 
Such music easily puts one into moods whence the concrete dis- 
appears almost entirely, where the mind is filled with exhalations 
that cannot be condensed into verbally statable concepts. It can- 
not remain unsatisfied; yet the vaguest abstractions suffice. 

Wagner must have felt something of this danger, for he fur- 
nishes a verbal basis for the symphonic and undramatic intervals 
of his operas that keep the listeners tied down to the words of the 
libretto. Pious Wagnerians attend to it as closely as to the score. 
There is nothing of the sort to keep one from opiatic vagueness in 
the symphonies of a Beethoven, a Brahms, a Bruckner, and their 
foreign followers Cesar Franck and Sibelius. 

* # 

I learn that the Nazi authorities have had the libraries of their 
archaeological and historical institutes in Rome packed, put into 
railway vans and started on their way to Germany. 

Why have they done so? What risk of destruction did they run 
that could not be obviated either by depositing them in the pre- 
cincts of the Vatican or in one of the many safe subterranean halls 
in which Rome abounds? Rail at the present moment is far from 
safe, even for Germans. These cases may be subjected to bom- 
bardment, to being sidetracked, to being exposed to the wind and 
the rain, and eventually to falling into the hands of the enemy. 

Of the libraries belonging to the German historical institute, I 
know nothing. The library of their archaeological institute I know 
to be the completest of its kind in the world. It contains every 
printed word regarding Greek and Roman antiquity. It has many 
an item that could not be replaced. It has been the paradise of 
every student for generations. 

The obvious reason why the Nazis have ordered its removal and 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

return to Germany is the fear that if it fell into Anglo-American 
hands it might be used to replace libraries destroyed by them in 
Holland, in Belgium, in France, in Poland. It looks like a confes- 
sion on their part; they are aware of the damage calling for retri- 
bution that they have committed. 

December 26th 

BOTH THE POPE and the Cardinal of Florence have spoken cour- 
ageously and clearly. The interesting thing about both discourses 
is that the substance of them has been summarized in the press 
subject to this regime. Another sign of something is that the Os- 
servatore Romano, the Vatican daily, is again being sold at news- 
stands. After the armistice it disappeared. Has the rump of Nazi 
Fascism suddenly become aware that its days are numbered, and 
that it would do well to start acting in a way that might make peo- 
ple forget its recent behavior? 

How lawless > brutal, even bestial it has been, including foul 
torture of its victims, has been clearly referred to in the allocution 
of the Florentine Cardinal. 

Another explanation is that Nazi Fascists are trying to ingratiate 
themselves with the Vatican in the hope that it may induce the 
Allies to treat, instead of insisting on unconditional surrender. 

Interesting, too, is the account given this evening by the Mus- 
solinian radio of the Christmas dinner offered by the commander 
of the German forces in one of the great hotels of Rome to Allied 
prisoners. What a contrast, this radio took care to say, with the 
conduct of the Allies, who even Christmas Eve went on pitilessly 
bombarding German towns. "Peace to men of good will." Dare 
Nazis claim immunity on that ground? 

December 2fth 

I CHERISH DREAMS about human society. A persistent one is of 
a vegetative society where the individual will bloom and wither 
like a flower. A perfect society, toward which we are striving, if 



DECEMBER, 1943 

we could attain it, would by definition leave no room for improve- 
ment or change. 

Some such ideal must have been in the mind of Confucius and 
his disciples, for almost all Chinese have attempted to realize it. 
The Jesuits likewise tried it in one way in Paraguay, where the 
population was to be lifted to the state of superior animals; in an- 
other way in Europe, where the upper classes were to be trained, 
drilled, and shaped to a superb magnificence, to a high degree of 
classical culture, to missionary zeal, fixed, stable, and moveless. 

I vaguely recall mystics, English ones in particular, comparing 
paradise to a garden in which the souls were the flowers. 

I confess this vegetable ideal of society makes no small appeal 
to my artistic sense. And I cannot help dreaming of a society in 
which every individual would be a work of art, of ethical as well 
as aesthetical art. My life long, from earliest awareness I have ad- 
mired and loved nothing so much as beauty of conduct, goodness 
as a natural function, truthfulness likewise, with an ever-present 
sense of its being no isolated phenomenon but the responsible part 
of the universe. 

I am wandering away from the subject, a vegetative humanity, 
society as a garden. But flowers and fruit nowadays are being con- 
stantly improved, grafted, combined. Why not try the same with 
mankind? 

Why not, indeed? The trouble is that in the case of human be- 
ings we start with an idea, an ideal, a dogma even of what they 
ought to be, how they should behave, what they should think and 
say. If only we could treat them the way gardeners deal with 
plants! They do not say: "You must, you shall be and do so and 
so." No, they study the nature of the plant until they ascertain 
which improvement can be attempted; and they often succeed 
not only in bettering its health and its appearance but even in pro- 
ducing combinations superior to any of their ingredients. 

In other words, we are far too unempirical in our attitude to- 
ward society, and far too much guided by fears, or hopes, or in- 
tellectual and political constructs, ecclesiastical or sociological, 
economical or tribal, class-conserving or class-resenting. 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

To conclude: just as plant improvement must rest on botany, 
the improvement of mankind must rest on anthropology. 

December 28th 

IT is SURPRISING how many Italian Jews of the highest class 
have taken to agriculture, investing not only capital but their 
energies in the enterprises, most of which have prospered. And 
now under this ghost-Mussolinian regime, the proprietors have 
had to take to the bush and their estates are confiscated. 

One of the accusations brought against Jews is that they will 
not take to the land, cannot be fanners. But until very few gen- 
erations ago where would they have been allowed to become 
tillers of the soil? I recall from my childhood in Lithuania hearing 
of Israelites making most urgent and piteous appeals to be allowed 
to take up land and farm it. The Russian government turned a 
deaf ear. 

In Hitler-ridden countries one of the first and most insistent 
items of persecution against the Jews is to confiscate the land 
they are trying to work. 

An acquaintance who knows the Vatican and what goes on 
there told me once that unless God was behind it, it could not 
possibly go on. Such was the incompetence, the foolishness of 
most of its officials and the confusion and even disasters they pro- 
duce. He is at one with the Jew in Boccaccio's tale whom his 
Florentine friends could not reason into conversion but who re- 
turned from Rome a Christian, saying that unless God upheld the 
Church as he saw it there, it could not possibly go on. 

The same acquaintance related an anecdote that was new to 
me: Cardinal Consalvi, Pius VII's Secretary of State, opposed 
some terms of the Concordat arranged between the Pope and Na- 
poleon. The Emperor was furious and had the Cardinal brought 
to give him a piece of his mind. He ended up by saying: "I can 
destroy the Church if I want to." "Sire," answered Consalvi, "we 
have not succeeded in doing so in eighteen centuries/' 



DECEMBER, 1943 

Later, I remember, we talked of the Jesuits and he assured me 
there were priests of that order working as engineers and foremen 
in Russia on the chance of being able to put in a word in the right 
place for the one and only Church. For the glory of God and the 
Church, His instrument, the individual Jesuit had to do whatever 
he was ordered to do, including even deviation of conduct. We 
have heard all this and it is always being denied. So it was interest- 
ing to get it from a stout Catholic who not only admitted it but ap- 
proved it and was proud of it. 

December $ist 

I HAVE BEAD Charles Louis Philippe's Marie Donadieu. I do not 
begin to understand his attitude toward the heroine. She is one 
of the most voluptuous creatures in literature and yet somehow 
not gross, not carnal, not exciting, nor yet repulsive. I understand 
the self-searching, self-excavating, self-delving hero better, him 
but not his talk. Most of it is over and beyond my head. He antici- 
pates Lawrence in his views of sex but with endlessly greater 
depth as well as delicacy. One thing about Philippe's hero I 
envy: when he talked, people did not feel as if listening to him 
but to someone inside themselves. 



1944 



January ist 

A RADIANT icy day with gemlike details in landscape as in the 
backgrounds of the Van Eycks, Roger van der Weyden, and their 
followers. Out of the wind, it is warm yet invigorating. Where the 
northeaster is free to approach you, draw your wraps about you. 
He comes straight from the Eurasian steppes of Russia. There, 
how lake and marsh must be frozen over, and fighting will be pos- 
sible over vast territories hitherto dividing armies. 

I am reminded at this time of the year of days spent with Edith 
Wharton in her cMteau at Hyeres. In sheltered parts of her many- 
terraced garden mimosa was in flower. More exposed spots re- 
ceived the arctic blast as here. 

I am reminded as well of the January and February, 1891, that 
I spent at Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Day after day, week after 
week without a speck of cloud in the sky. My rooms had the sun 
all day. In the evening a fire of dry twigs kept me warm. In the 
daytime, icy though sparkling, I drove about in a light two- 
wheeled cart, uncovered, of course, rather thinly clad, not mind- 
ing the cold, eager to explore every church within reach. I could 
go a fair distance, to Montepulciano, to Asciano, the Montalcino, 
and to Siena itself. 

What jolly evenings we passed, the Abbate di Negro and I, be- 

199 



200 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

fore the crackling fire, when he told me numberless good stories 
about his early days in Rome under Pope Gregory! 

Four and fifty years ago, and as present as today! What is this 
strange thing time which caresses, gnaws, and devours us, which 
nevertheless memory can ignore or conquer? 

January zd 

ACCIDENT has put in my hands the verses Byron wrote on Na- 
poleon's fall. They anticipate by many years not only the odes 
of Victor Hugo but the entire book dedicated to the Emperor by 
Chateaubriand in his memoirs. They outline and sketch the atti- 
tude most of us still have toward the ever-fascinating Corsican; 
and in the lines entitled "Napoleon's Farewell" they prophesy the 
return of his spirit. Surely no anticipated prophecy has been so 
well fulfilled: "Yet may thy heart leap to my voice. . . . Turn 
thee and call on the chief of thy choice." 

January $d 

YESTERDAY, talking of the belief in the evil eye, I suddenly re- 
membered what happened to us at Bitonto in Apulia. My wife was 
with me. We had barely left the station when a swarm of children 
began to follow us as we walked, joined by others, as well as by 
women and men. They streamed into the cathedral after us, they 
crowded up, they got between us and the object we wanted to 
look at. Sight-seeing was out of the question. 

Suddenly we had a happy idea. I began to roll my eyes, not 
fixing them on anybody in particular. My wife turned to the crowd 
and said: "We are very sorry to have to warn you that my husband 
is a jettatore has the evil eye but he is the kindest of men and 
would be distressed if he harmed anybody he happened to look 
at." 

No sooner said than the people began to stream out of the 
church as fast as the wide-open doors would let them. For the rest 



JANUARY, 1944 2O1 

of the day we were left severely alone. No wonder the great Ho~ 
henstaufen wrote: 

Bitontorum 

Tot caput asinorum 

Bitontines, so many heads of asses. 



January 4th 

THE SPECTER-FASCIST PRESS does not call us Americans any 
more but Unitedstaters Statunitensi. The last atrocities we and 
our British allies have committed in Southern Italy are too dread- 
ful to relate. We have deprived Fascist bigwigs who for years held 
high positions and replaced them with anti-Fascists. And instead 
of designating the mayors as podesta in authoritative medieval 
fashion, we have returned to the "liberalistic" title of Syndic. The 
worst atrocity is still to be mentioned. Naples is teeming with 
typhoid fever. Are the Anglo-Unitedstaters devoting their energies 
to stamping it out? Not a bit of it! Why, they are distributing cans 
of macaroni with tomato sauce. 

I wonder what inspires the tone of diffidence toward Russia 
discernible in Roosevelt's holiday utterances. Surely no doubt as 
to fighting Germany to a finish. Can it be that when Roosevelt, 
Churchill, and Stalin met, and Japan was the chief object of dis- 
cussion, it proved a bone of contention? Did the first two try to 
wangle from the third that the moment the Nazis were brought 
to their knees the Soviets should immediately join us against the 
Japanese? Stalin may have hesitated, fearing that his people 
would be exhausted and eager to relax. Perhaps we want only to 
use the airfields and harbors of Pacific Russia, and perhaps Stalin 
is asking, in return, more than we are ready to give. 

I used to get bored with acquaintances who read the French 
Swiss dailies, and would come and shake their heads, and express 
great fear of Russia's imminent defection. At times I would lose 
patience and turn the subject. 



2O2 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Great, therefore, was my satisfaction, while reading Ambassa- 
dor Davies* book on his mission, to discover that the Soviets had 
had their minds open to the immensity and urgency of the Nazi 
threat long before we ours, and that this conviction inspired their 
conduct in matters international. 

January $th 

I AM NO THEATERGOER, and never have been, except in early 
boyhood; then I used to get crazy with expectancy and so dizzy 
that when I got in sight of the stage, chandeliers and balconies 
whirled round and round for some time, before I calmed down to 
enjoy, and not merely to be possessed. 

Since I have been elderly, the rush of air in turning doors in 
America, the annoyance of the petty, grasping ouvreuses in Paris, 
and the fact that I would lose most of the first act before my ears 
had learned to grasp the talk on the stage all contributed to mak- 
ing me fight shy of the theater. Add the fact that in Florence it 
was a Sabbath day's journey to any theater, and that when one 
got there one might be chilled to the bone, ill-disposed by the 
cold smoke of cheap cigars, and presented with acting seldom 
bad, but rarely to any mental or moral purpose. 

Nevertheless, I regret that only now have I made the acquaint- 
ance of Alfredo Testonfs Cardinale Lambertini. I might have seen 
it acted by Zacconi, who, I am told, did it to perfection. 

As a presentation of character, as the picture of a society, as wit, 
as humor, it is a play that one may venture to place somewhere 
in the same Hall of Fame as Shakeapeare's Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor. 

Not that it is as merry or as farcical, but that it is as much the 
revelation of a character and a picture of life. The high society of 
a typical Italian town in the mid-eighteenth century is conjured 
up before our minds in a way so convincing that almost we cease 
to be spectators and become part of it. I scarcely can recall an- 
other presentation as good of its haughtiness, its fatuity, its empti- 
ness, its reducing life to sex, swagger, and heraldic flash. In the 



JANUARY, 1944 203 

midst of it, towering high above it, the Cardinal-Archbishop, a 
prince of the Church but an enlightened eighteenth-century great 
gentleman on a level with a Montesquieu, and with the noblest of 
the progressive man-loving thinkers in France and England. The 
way he dominates his high and mighty fellow Bolognese, the way 
he persuades them, the way he gets round them, the way they baf- 
fle him, is brought home to us, almost as if we were in his skin, not 
in ours. 

There is but one false note. It is De Brasses, who is portrayed 
as a French fop, with silly curiosities and far too keen about 
women. He was anything but that. 

January 6th 

HAVING REACHED the shady side of my seventy-ninth year, I 
regret at times that I cannot hope to see the outcome of this gog- 
magoggery of a war. One can vaguely, faintly imagine the linea- 
ments of new territorial combinations, new cartographic shapes, 
new political unities; one can even guess at the outlines, articula- 
tions, and mechanisms of a new social order. What I cannot con- 
ceive is how it will affect the Weltanschauung the attitude 
toward the whole of existence, the cosmos as a pattern of indi- 
viduals; nor can I admit, if serious change there must be, that it 
will be permanent, as for instance Christianity after paganism, 
and not a mere passing phase. 

How many important utilitarian discoveries and inventions 
have I seen appear: electric light, the telephone, the motorcar, 
the wireless telegraph, the radio, aviation, and the cinema. They 
are conveniences by which I profit every day. Yet I should not be 
surprised if, after a little, I could not be as happy without them. As 
a matter of fact, they have not become part of my world. I can re- 
call being steam-minded. As a small boy, I saw a locomotive being 
stoked and watered, after slag and liquid had poured out from 
below. The identity with animal processes made it easy to assimi- 
late steam. Of how electricity works I have only the vaguest no- 
tions. Little boys of five are more electricity-minded, motor- 



204 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

minded, air-minded than I am. Left to myself I could only switch 
on the light. I could scarcely call up on the telephone. I never 
use it. All in all, I belong to the pre-rnachine age. 

Surely people who are born to electricity, and know all about 
the workings of telephones, automobiles, aircraft, wireless, must 
have a different outlook upon the world from mine! I can see that 
they do, yet to me their tastes, their appetites, their absorptions 
seem like aberrations. The songs they like to hear, the print they en- 
joy reading, the pictures and sketches they admire, their society 
ideals and performances are as foreign to me as if they came from 
the heart of Africa, far more than if from China and Central Asia. A 
polite truce reigns between us based on their side in the feeling 
that I am not worth troubling about, and on mine, on the convic- 
tion that they, or their descendants, will return to my House of 
Life, which alone offers a permanent home for the soul of man. 

No age is understood by its participants; for life muddles and 
confuses, if it does not exclude understanding. Only when it is 
over and past can a later age attempt to understand it, an age that 
feels mirrored in it as we are just now in the last centuries of an- 
tiquity. So it does not follow that contemporaries appreciate or 
recognize their creative, or even their merely effective, personali- 
ties. A society may be much more transformed by an individual 
obscure in his lifetime like Marx, destined to inspire a Lenin and 
a Trotsky, founders of a new world order, than by blustering, 
bluffing, warring, massacring, brutalizing figures like the rnad 
Mahdi or a Hitler or a Mussolini. Just yet we cannot see who will 
rise up and lead us after the war, nor by what signs we shall recog- 
nize them. 

How many understood Jesus of Nazareth as He passed by? The 
greater part of humankind after full nineteen centuries still fails 
to understand Him. One may ask how many have understood 
Him, how many, free of prejudice, have as much as attempted to 
understand Him. 

Soren Kierkegaard asked whether it would have been easier for 
one who frequented Jesus to understand Him than for us today. 
He argues the case at length and concludes that unless he had 



JANUARY, 1944 205 

faith it would have made no difference. And every reader of 
Kierkegaard knows that for him faith meant his relation to Deity 
and that this relation constituted his cosmos. 

My cosmos was in essence and potentiality complete when I 
was thirty, if not earlier. I have been able to assimilate number- 
less matters that fitted into this scheme of the universe. Others 
I discarded altogether, such as spiritistic and occultistic phenom- 
ena. The uncanny activities of dowsers and radiosthenists I 
shunted for the present. 

At this point I must relate a singular occurrence. I was invited 
to take tea with Professor Toesca, of the University of Rome. 
There I found Professor Mercati, a well-known Byzantinist and 
brother to the Cardinal of the same name. He is a famous dowser 
and can find water wherever it is to be found, not only on the spot 
but from a photograph of the place where water is to be expected. 
Likewise, he will discover metals. Toesca put a number of photo- 
graphs taken pell-mell of pictures by old masters face downwards 
on the table, and invited Mercati to assemble in different piles 
those that were by the same painter. To my no small astonish- 
ment, I might almost say to my stupor, he with the guidance of a 
wand or pendulum accomplished the feat fully as well as any of 
us who have spent years, a lifetime, on the practice of connoisseur- 
ship. The fact was there. I could not ignore it, but in no way ex- 
plain it. I had to leave it as, before Franklin, did the observers of 
electrical phenomena. 

I can, after a kick or two, accept the new theories about Nordics 
appearing in Greece and in Asia Minor as early as the beginning 
of the second millennium B.C., and the even earlier identity of the 
civilizations prevailing in Mesopotamia and in North- West India. 
I not only accept these discoveries but assimilate them, and hence- 
forth they are part of my universe. Not so with the world of sci- 
ence and philosophy. 

I remember being among the earliest readers of Bergson's 
Premieres Donnees and Mature et Memoir e. I worked hard to 
understand them and perhaps did; the more so as I enjoyed the 
acquaintance of the great thinker and could ask him for enlighten- 



2O6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ment But it dropped off the rolling platform that was carrying 
me along, and left me as much of a Kantian as if I had never heard 
of Bergson. 

Likewise with Einstein. I enjoyed the advantage of having 
friends who could claim the right to understand him. They did 
their l>est to explain him and left me with the confused sense 
that I had grasped something, although I could not say what. But 
it would be foolish to pretend that what I had snatched of Ein- 
stein became part of my cosmos. 

I cannot mention Bergson without recalling our first meeting. 
He had read me, which made me happy, and remarked that much 
of my work was concerned with discovering and establishing iden- 
tities* But what were identities and how did we recognize them? 
I remember looking at him fatuously, and answering that it was 
by comparing detail with corresponding detail. Of course; but that 
was not what he had in mind, and I have never got over being 
ashamed at the puerility of my answer. 

Before meeting Bergson, I read everything of Nietzsche's I 
could lay hands on. For some time he absorbed me completely. 
It coincided with occupations and meditations that prepared me to 
write my Florentine Painters. Even that essay bears few traces of 
Nietzsche's transvaluing influence. The male bodies of the Olym- 
pian statues and the Parthenon pediment are as beautiful as thor- 
oughbred horses, as stags and antelopes and gazelles; but I do 
not crave for a humanity as unconscious, as unaware of itself as 
these quadrupeds. Far from being the first degenerate, Socrates 
remains for me the earliest superanimal, and thus the first super- 
man in Nietzsche's despite. 

As an organism that took in and gave out, as an instrument, I 
was complete at five and twenty, and this instrument has worked 
and preserved its identity for more than fifty subsequent years, 
in the face of all the forces pulling and pushing, forward and 
backward. It has changed little if any, although much it dealt with 
has disappeared, and much that was not there before has taken 
its place. 

So I say with Ogni Ben in Browning's "Soul's Tragedy": "Forty- 



JANUARY, 1944 2O7 

seven leaders of revolt have I known." I have lived through no 
end of fads and isms, not to speak of blasting winds of doctrine, 
like Sovietism, Fascism, Nazism, from which we are still suffering. 
I have seen such turns of fashion, such crazes come and go, and 
visual topsy-turvydoms like surrealiste painting and visual athe- 
isms like "abstract art." 

I come back to my beginning, and venture to doubt whether, if 
I lived some years longer, I could hope to descry what movement 
was going to decide the future and what on the contrary was 
merely a passing seizure leaving nothing behind but a weakening 
of the social machine, and a shaking up of our House of Life. 

Luckily, we live on what is unchanging in human nature and 
not on its fads and fashions, whether visual or mental. To a limited 
degree, I can penetrate to what is under them and ignore them 
when they seem bubbles and mere vapors; or, if promising, leave 
them to fitter and better-attuned minds to be pursued and under- 
stood. 

For the greater part of my eighty years I have been meditating 
on the future of mankind, and have accustomed myself to the 
idea of a society where there will be no want, no forced labor, no 
prestige values. It is probable that idiosyncrasy among men is so 
thoroughgoing that individuals exist for every kind of occupation. 

Aldington in his autobiography, speaking of the last war, tells 
how much he feared his Tommies would resent having to remove 
and get rid of the ordures of the camp, when a noncom came for- 
ward and assured him that a friend of his would prefer it to any 
other job. 

Assuming that certain communal and even national tastes exist, 
for which volunteers in sufficient abundance may not be found, 
conscription might have to be enacted. It would be no greater 
hardship, and one year's labor, at say one and twenty, would suf- 
fice. 

For the rest of their days individuals would be free to dispose 
of their time as they pleased. Some of it they would give to a 
trade they enjoyed. Some few hours a week will suffice to supply 
them with the material needs of life, whether vital or luxurious. 



208 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

How will they put in the rest of their time? The gifted will be able 
at last to devote themselves to the pursuits urged by their daimon. 
But the mediocre, the dull, the languid, the lazy, how will they 
get on with nothing they are obliged to do for a living? 

The problem of the future would seem to be above all the prob- 
lem of how to put in one's leisure, what to do with idle hours. In 

a desultory wav it has been dealt with bv industrial and mer- 

j s * 

eantile organizations. By Ford, for instance, in America, and half 
a century earlier by the firm of which my friend Herbert Cook's 
forebears were the proprietors. On a nation-wide scale, it was 
first attempted by the Italian Fascist government unless, indeed, 
there too the Soviets came first. 

The Fascists deserve praise for the intention, and I tribute it 
the more willingly, as it is the only praise I can give them. In prac- 
tice, however, they turned their Dopolavoro into mere propa- 
ganda, into putting megalomaniac ideas into the heads of working 
people, into inducing them to hate other nations, into a cult of 
Fascism, and into insisting on loyal adherence to its chiefs. 

* * * 

My imagination is baffled when I try to picture a society with 
no prestige values, whether of inheritance, gifts, or occupation. 
Ideologically that is what we are tending to, and it may not take 
centuries before elaborate efforts are made to realize it. The re- 
sult should be interesting. Anatomy and physiology will oppose; 
and it is to be feared that they will win through, for they are 
coeval with mammalian life. The instincts with which they have 
endowed us will prove masters of any scheme our so feeble in- 
telligence can frame. 

Let us play with the notion not yet an idea of a society with- 
out prestige values. The scavenger would be a hygienic expert or 
functionary, on a level with any other. So would the courtesan. 
She would cease to be a whore or even harlot, and be an hetaera. 
Even humble females would no more be looked down on for keep- 
ing shop than society ladies who do so today. Every activity not 
manifestly harmful would be as well rewarded as any other. 



JANUARY, 1944 20g 

In a sense, there would be no rewards. The pooled products of 
everybody's labor would be for everybody to use freelv. As there 

J 4 * *> 

would be no prestige connected with possessions, and conse- 
quently no love of display, no manifestation of ^conspicuous 
waste," people \vould want only what they could enjoy by way of 
houses and furniture, of clothes and ornament, of food and drink, 
and other physical needs. There would be less jealousy if love was 
purged of prestige, and sex relief was admitted as a physiological 
necessity, like food, and as distinct from love, Love would be 
purified and sublimated, if it ceased to be what its essence still is, 
a call of nature, and became a spiritual as well as physical inter- 
penetration. 

Unfortunately, jealousy is not confined to sex. It will be hard 
to get the better of it in persons who resent every inequality that 
does not suit their heart's desire. Few are able to admit superiority 
and, instead of secretly, if not publicly, resenting it, are ready to 
welcome it, to enjoy it aesthetically, and when it ethically de- 
serves it, to worship it. Resentment is unhappily at the bottom of 
more social discontent than economical difficulties. When these 
last are overcome, as in the course of time they may be, inequality 
of physical make-up, of mental and moral gifts, will remain and 
fester in many natures. 

Nevertheless I go on dreaming of a society based not on theo- 
logical, sociological, or any other abstract dogmas and pre-estab- 
lished principles, but on the pooled product resulting from the 
functioning of the individuals composing it. In a sense we have it 
always; for despite ideologies, human nature resists change and, 
given time, assimilates every ideal pattern of life, even the Chris- 
tian one, to what it can realize. 

January gth 

AM I MUSICAL? Hand-readers tell me that I ought to be, When 
half my present age I must have looked it, for I can remember, on 
one of my periodical returns home, being cold-shouldered by f el- 



210 RUNfOR AND REFLECTION 

low passengers on Ixwd ship for refusing to perform at a concert. 
They would not believe that I coulcl neither sing nor play an in- 
strument 

I doubt whether I have an ear or a sense of rhythm; and I cer- 

tainlv have little musical memory. I catch an air as easily as the 

, . * 

next man. When it comes to symphonic or other concert music, 
I seldom grasp a composition at a first hearing. I get a sense only 
of whether it is worth pursuing further. At times, it leaves a long- 
ing to have it repeated immediately. And when I can experience 
a piece often enough, my feeling about it ends, somehow, by be- 
ing what the authorities approve. 

Music does various things to me. First and foremost, it liberates 
trains of thoughts. Then it encourages musing and daydreaming. 
Best of all, it conjures up worlds of marvelous possibility, condi- 
tions of ecstasy, visions of magical radiance, of a universe per- 
meated by divinely intelligent goodness, and of a Beyond sur- 
passing all present powers of imagination. 

Only the greatest poetry, the noblest architecture, the sublimest 
scenery can compete with music in arousing such feelings. And 
it is perhaps more poignant, more penetrating, more permeating 
than any of them, or all of them put together. It certainly is more 
transporting. 

It is singular how associative music can be. I was walking one 
day in January, 1891, from Buonconvento to Monte Oliveto Mag- 
giore. For no assignable reason perhaps I had heard it recently 
at a concert I hummed as I went Schubert's Unfinished Sym- 
phony. Since then, and to this day, I cannot hear or even think of 
that composition without vividly recalling that walk, its incidents, 
and who was with me. It was the late Charles Loeser, well known 
as a collector and art critic in my time. 

January izth 

THE LAST Volkischer Beobachter the Nazi party paper, jour- 
nalistically excellent and the last Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung 



JANUARY, 1944 

the organ of the respectable German bourgeoisie bring in- 
teresting matter. They dwell and insist on the kernel of Hitler's 
last speech: that the Allies were not fighting for victory but for 
the annihilation of Germany, for the extirpation of all Germans. 

Who accuses others confesses what he would do himself, This 
monstrous idea that the Anglo-Saxons want to leave no German 
on the face of the earth could have arisen only in the mind of a 
person like Hitler, who has tried, and not unsuccessfully, to deal 
that way with Poles and Jews. 

In both these German papers the Jew remains enemy number 
one. Poor, poor England fearful pressure is being brought by 
American Jews to induce, to oblige, to compel her to withdraw 
the ban on further Zionist immigration into Palestine. Can old 
England resist and stick to her policy of reconciling the Arabs at 
all costs? 

But, oh joy, the wave of anti-Semitism which reached America 
some time ago is rapidly rising and cries of "Down with the Jews" 
are being painted on walls everywhere, particularly in New York. 
Although the policy is to ignore feeling against Israelites, Mayor 
La Guardia has had to take note at last, and to implore his fellow 
townsmen not to listen to anti-Jewish propaganda. 

The Englishman, the American, the anti-Fascist Italian may 
now and again disappear from the German press. The Jew never. 
The last Jewish atrocity is that Litvinov and Maisky have got 
themselves appointed on a committee for the after-war settle- 
ment. Maisky a Jew? I never knew that. 

But sooner or later every individual opposed to the Nazis is 
sure to be designated as pluto-demo-bolshevik-Jew. 

Indeed, I am surprised that these same papers, when speaking 
of the skirmish between specter-Fascist armed forces and "ban- 
dits" in the neighborhood of Florence, making out that these last 
have been scattered like chaff, and their chief captured alive I 
am surprised that they designate him as a Russian simply, and do 
not add that he is a Jew as well 

This skirmish, by the way, did not turn out so well for the Nazi- 



212 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

protected Fascists as their papers try to make out. The "bandits" 
took fourteen prisoners to the three or four taken by their adver- 
saries. 

"Bandit" is a term applied easily by Italians. Thus the Abyssin- 
ians opposing Mussolini's invasion were bandits, and so of course 
were the troops of the legitimate Spanish government, against 
whom the same Mussolini was defending civilization, "loranor- 
der," as he had for so many years previously. 

Januanj igth 

AT A QUARTER TO SEVEN this morning the sun had not risen. 
To the east the morning star was darting its rays in a sky bluish 
green at the zenith; overhead the moon, about to enter its last 
quarter, was pouring down its refulgence. 

Toward noon it was almost hot in the sun and not cold in the 
shade. We climbed the hill covered with bottle-green cypresses, 
and oaks retaining their leafage bleached to the color of pale 
bronze. On the other side of the top, we got into real woods. I 
mean among trees with plenty of undergrowth and not, as above 
I Tatti, each stem growing out of the rock, as if it too were a 
mineral, jade and emerald. Paths crisscrossed every way, Indeed, 
the whole of Italy is cobwebbed with the traces of immemorial 
treading of human footsteps. Returning, I reveled in the sight of 
the oranges glowing golden on their trees real oranges growing 
in the shelter of the house. What a paradise! A few minutes later 
a heavy bombing shook us up. 

January 2ist 

MY THOUGHTS still run along the lines pursued in the pages I 
started writing the 6th, 

How will the future deal with boredom, the accidie and the 
more "common or garden" ennui which grips a society when noth- 
ing happens to stir hopes and fears, nothing to excite and absorb, 



JANUARY, 1944 213 

and worse yet, nothing to satisfy youth's craving for adventure 
of youth and those who through a lifetime remain youthful. 

Some few years after Waterloo the nieces of Metternieh went 
to him in a body and begged for another war. Life in peacetime 
was so dull. No exciting news. No hairbreadth escapes of friends 
in whom one took a peculiar interest, no brilliant dances for the 
shining youth on leave from the front. 

In the middle decades of the last century, again and again, the 
cry was raised, "La France sennuie* France is bored and it 
frightened Europe. 

The whole world may feel like that when wars are no longer 
possible. Would there still be adventure? Where? How? The earth 
will have been explored in its entirety: land and sea, mountain top 
and ocean floor. Adventure will have to take to interplanetary ex- 
cursions, or to invention, and the solution of problems. The first 
may be feasible someday, sooner perhaps than we now expect. As 
for the others, they will be confined to the few who have the gift 
and character. They will be mathematical and out of reach for 
people like myself. It is not likely that historical scholarship will 
survive. Who will look back to a past when self-interest, passion, 
and sentiment ruled the world? For an elite there will be abun- 
dance of adventure along intellectual lines. What will the rest of 
the community do, who have no brains for such occupations, and 
find no happiness except in a sphere where courage and physical 
aptitudes count along with brains? 

Hithertho even the most quiescent communities, say the Con- 
fucian Chinese, have found outlets for adventure in conquest and 
hazardous administration. They wedged their dominion into the 
Islamitic world as far as Kashgar, lorded it over the vast Amur 
Basin, colonized or imposed their civilization on Korea, on Japan, 
on Indo-China, on Siam. This could be achieved only by the ma- 
terial as well as spiritual superiority of the Chinese, 

But our midget of an earth will soon be too small for large-scale 
energizing, in the material sphere. Wars will have been demon- 
strated to be utterly absurd and survive, if at all, as a sport, as an 



214 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

excuse for betting and gambling. And man's last gesture may be 
a wordless yawn. 

There comes back to me a summer afternoon when I was enjoy- 
ing the cool on the veranda of a cottage neighboring on the park 
at Versailles. Suddenly there appeared a shortish old man, all bald 
head, with malicious eyes and a quizzical smile, who, when we 
were introduced to each other, spoke with a warm, husky voice. 
He stayed but a few minutes and, in connection with I remember 
not what, remarked that in the Middle Ages people were more 
amused than in our own time. 

I was in my early forties. I had read and reflected, and this ob- 
servation of Henry Adams was like a spark on tinder. It flared and 
lit up so much that hitherto had remained vague and murky, be- 
cause I had been taking too deterministic, too solemn, even too 
pompous a view of the past. 

Fledglings of puritanism that we were, we had given ourselves 
up to studying history as a spiritual combat against evil within and 
without ourselves, and thought seldom of panem of bread and 
never of circenses amusements. 

By amusement, however, neither Adams nor I had in mind cir- 
cuses and other deliberate entertainments. What we meant was 
living keenly, zestfully, relatively free to work as one liked and to 
loaf when one pleased. It meant not to be the slave of fixed hours, 
and of so much output per hour. It meant to run risks, to allow for 
ups and downs in short, to leave room for variety, excitement, 
and some sense of adventure. 

We retain this kind of life in the slums. Cobblers, tinkers, chim- 
ney sweeps, plumbers, clothes-menders, small shopkeepers of ev- 
ery kind in these purlieus, can alternate work with play and are 
not obliged to take either in unpalatable, in indigestible doses. 

Though frequently exposed to cold, disease, hunger even, as in- 
deed most city dwellers were in the Middle Ages, may they yet 
not be happier, more zestful, more eager, in short more amused, 
than the same number of people in their comfortable well-sup- 
plied mansions and country houses? 

Once upon a time a woman of my acquaintance who was trying 



JANUARY, 1944 215 

to uplift working girls in the East End of London asked a class of 
them what the words "bore," "being bored/* and "boredom" 
meant. 

None of them knew the words except one, who thought it re- 
ferred to being lost in deep thought. This happened some fifty 
years ago. By now uplift may have taught slum girls what it means 
to be bored. 

It is interesting to reflect that accidie no appetite for life 
never attacked city dwellers of the Middle Ages with their helter- 
skelter, higgledy-piggledy manner of life, but haunted the over- 
organized, clockwork-monasteries. 

I have known women who lived opulently with the income de- 
rived from their incomes yet not knowing how to get through 
the day. Too old to attract, too shrewd to be trapped by adventur- 
ers, they would snatch at this or that diversion, but in no sense of 
the word were they amused. To be amused by art, by ideas, or even 
by society, one must have the appropriate gifts, and few of the 
overrich have them. I verily believe that charwomen get more out 
of their lives than these millionairesses. 

Nor is the condition of the average well-to-do American woman 
much better. Often she has no housekeeping or children to occupy 
her; and where she has both, they yet leave her with a leisure that 
she does not know what to do with. If she is energetic, she may go 
into business or push a gentleman friend. More likely, she will go 
into politics and, as a rentiere, campaign against Franklin Roose- 
velt, or in favor of something else which she understands little. 
The average female of the same class, apart from joining her in 
cursing the President and his Jewish and Irish advisers, will look 
forward to the fad lectures she will hear, the discourses she will 
not understand, but above all to the bridge parties of the after- 
noon. 

I recall staying at an hotel in Boston in cultured Boston 
where the average rentiere women of the possessive classes would 
come by hundreds and occupy all the sitting rooms at small tables. 
There they sat. Not a word was spoken. Not a sound was heard ex- 
cept the hushed thud of the cards as they flapped on the tables. 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Killing time, instead of employing it as the very substance of 
life lived and not merely got through with, is surely the sin of sins. 
And that is what overleisure may lead to! 

Happily, it is conceivable that the majority of mankind will 
evolve, through inheritance and instruction, tastes for art creation 
of every kind. As women, in leisure hours, knit and embroider, 
man may develop talents for the arts as well as for the sports that 
we take to naturally. When so many will be working with no ex- 
pectation of material reward, intent on the same problems, who 
knows what genius may be revealed, and what masterpieces cre- 
ated! Already, in almost every civilized country, hobbies are rife 
among individuals with a certain leisure. As leisure increases, 
these hobbies will find more opportunities for spreading out and 
flowering into something more artistic, more creative, at once 
more penetrating and more expansive, pushing further and fur- 
ther back the flaming frontiers of the human universe and turning 
aspiring man into a hopeful rival of the Demiurge. 

January 22$ 

I READ nearly all the German papers that can be had: the 
Deutsche Allgemeine, and the Borsenzeitung of Berlin, the Ham- 
burger Fremdenblatt, the Kolnische, the Munchener Neueste 
Nachrichten, the Wiener Journal and the Volkischer Beobachter. 

All have the same news, the same propaganda, the same sneers 
and insults directed against Anglo-Saxons in general and against 
Churchill and Roosevelt in particular. These take the shape of 
quotations from the English and American press. I assume that 
they are neither falsified nor even too much distorted. 

Now, the readers of most of these papers are anything but un- 
educated. They belong to the upper layers of German public opin- 
ion. How is it possible that they do not distinguish the attitude of 
these particular Anglo-American journals as of opposition? Is it 
likely that many German readers of these extracts ignore this and 
do not envy countries where, in the midst of the bitterest war, 



JANUARY, 1944 217 

people are free to say what they think, to criticize their govern- 
ment fairly and unfairly, to poke fun at their rulers? 

It may be therefore a questionable policy to cany on a cam- 
paign with quotations from writers of the countries against whom 
the campaign is directed, even if the writers include such hoary 
Victorian jokers as Bernard Shaw, and malaprops like Margot As- 
quith. 

The intelligent German readers may go so far as to ask why the 
Russian press is never quoted for carpings and insults against Sta- 
lin and his regime. They may come to the conclusion that Soviet 
subjects, like Nazis, are not free to say what they think, and that 
no daily dares print a word of opposition. 

January 2$th 

EVERY DAILY appearing in the Reich and in its hernia gives con- 
siderable space to Jews and to Roosevelt. At times the President 
of the U. S. A. is an out-and-out Jew. More often he is only Jew- 
haunted and Jew-minded. 

In the papers I received yesterday there was an account of 
Roosevelt's last "swindle." It consisted of the monstrosity of giving 
each soldier that left for the front a copy of the New Testament 
for which he had written a preface. 

The daily anti-Jew article rubbed its hands with glee over Ja- 
pan's behavior toward the few sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 
still found in the wide-flung empire of the Sun God's descendants. 

The Nuremberg laws were being applied strictly to all those 
"human microbes" in Japan's recent conquests. But that was little. 
The real business was tracking and extirpating the insinuating, 
penetrating, sinister, world-hungry, antihuman, antinational Jew- 
mindedness that had already taken hold of influential classes, in 
the Far East even. 

Before this war began E. M. Forster spoke of the Jew-conscious- 
ness with which Hitler had inoculated us. How true it is for all of 
us, from Honolulu eastward, through America, through Europe, 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

through Asia to Meshed in farthest Persia, we all know. But we 
were left to believe that Ainus, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Sia- 
mese, Tonkinese, Javanese, Fonnosans, etc., etc., were unaware of 
the existence of Jews, let alone knowing of their hellish, devour- 
ing, destructive, grasping, clutching, all-conquering propensities. 
They too are now made Jew-conscious. I am sure there are mem- 
hers of that so-called race who will ejaculate: "What an ad!" 

I am seeing friends who, unlike myself, have no drop of Jewish 
blood to taint their veins. They are at least as much horrified over 
the treatment of Jews as I am, and can get it as little out of their 
minds. 

The hunt still goes on. The other day forty new agents were ap- 
pointed in Bologna to ferret out Jews still in hiding. Even a Do- 
minican of Hebrew origin had to flee his monastery for fear of ar- 
rest, and found his way here. 

The other day a parish priest of this diocese was arrested for 
harboring a Jew. The Cardinal of Florence intervened, declaring 
that he himself was the culprit and requesting to be jailed in place 
of the priest; which, of course, resulted in the liberation of the 
prisoner. 

I heard an amusing anecdote yesterday. Children in a Sunday 
school were being taught that no child was a Christian until it was 
baptized. "Are they all Jews before?" asked one little girl. 

What was Haman to Hitler! He never hoped to kill more Jews 
than were to be found in the one hundred and twenty provinces of 
the Persian Empire. Hitler's ambition embraces the whole earth. 
He has made a good beginning with his present Reich, where it is 
calculated he has massacred some three million. This number must 
include those of Poland as well. 

Poles have hitherto ranked with Jews, as mere vermin to be got 
rid of at any cost. All of a sudden they have become objects of 
tender solicitude. Stalin threatens to include an entire million in 
the frontiers he means to make for Russia. And his hypocritical 
allies who made war to defend Poland against Germany permit 
this monstrosity! Truly, the Nazis are softhearted. Stalin wants to 



JANUARY, 1944 219 

annex one million Poles. They have put several millions out of 
misery. 



January 26th 

THE ANGLO-AMERICANS have made a landing on the spot 
where Aeneas landed three thousand years ago. According to last 
accounts they are already at Velletri and have thus achieved, in 
a couple of days, what it took the Trojan hero so long to accom- 
plish. The terrain still sets the same problems that it did of old. 
Lord Allenby soon after the last war told me that in his campaign 
against Jerusalem the David of the Book of Kings was his best 
guide. All this will be changed when war will be confined to 
the air. 



January zjth 

IF MANKIND SURVIVES another five thousand years, making 
progress slow indeed, yet progress, we now living and acting will 
seem to people of that distant date to have belonged to what we 
call "antiquity." Should anyone question this, he will be advised 
to look at the place Jewish and Greek expressions, Jewish and 
Greek feeling and thinking went on occupying; how much that 
combination of Jewish religion, Greek metaphysics, and Roman 
imperialism known as Christianity dominates us still; how much 
our literature, no matter in what offspring of Greek, Latin, or an- 
tique barbarian speech, still carries on the values, the traditions, 
the historical references, and the rhetoric of antiquity. Our ethical 
axioms, the courses of conduct to which we consent, even if they 
do not enjoy our reasoned approval, will seem singularly like those 
of the ancient Oecumene. They will point to our preference for 
Greek and Latin literature, to our cult of Homeric notions of viril- 
ity and war, and to an even greater and more formative regard for 
the Bible among Protestants and its derivatives among Catholics; 
point to our creeds and prayers and hymns. 



22O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Time and time again I have asked myself when and how the 
break would come. A full hundred years ago a Parisian gamin 
cried out, <4 Qui nom delivrera des Grccs et des Romains" and the 
cry was not to a wilderness. Some fifty or sixty years later Vien- 
nese politicians shouted, "Los von Rom" away from Rome 
Rome as the administrative seat of Catholicism. The ejaculation 
was not taken too seriously but attracted my attention. It was fol- 
lowed some two or three decades later still by the revulsion of 
Professor Strzygowski from the visual art of the Mediterranean 
world and its "hothouse products." He favored anything that did 
not glow with the heat and did not smell of the honey and brine of 
the Midland Sea. He ended by finding little to his taste in the 
world's architecture, except the timber buildings of Galicia and 
of more and more northern climes. As for the figure arts, nothing 
pleased him but Runic and even more primitive scratchings in 
lands close to where Shakespeare's Lapland sorcerers gather. 

Despite the considerable influence he had not only in all Ger- 
manies but in France and England as well, I would not let the 
Viennese professor have the honor of directly inspiring Hitler, 
Goebbels, and Himmler, or the practitioners and interpreters of 
"abstract art'* who surpass him by turning altogether away from 
representation to find satisfaction in geometrical pattern only. 

Art and its interpreters are like the swallows that do not make a 
spring but prelude it. Bode's behavior over his "Leonardo bust," 
and the way the whole of Germany was marshaled to support him, 
gave, before the First World War, a foreboding of what was cook- 
ing tip in Berlin and Potsdam and how they would conduct hostil- 
ities and propaganda. 

Nazism, and the present conflict, are continuations and realiza- 
tions of the means and ways of the last war, with overwhelmingly 
improved instruments of combat. Nazism is, in a sense if not in 
essence, a barbarian revolt let us hope not a revolution against 
the humanistic values thought out by the best Greeks and their 
Hellenized disciples in Alexandria, in Rome, and even in Judea. 
Its anti-Semitism is but the spearhead of its anti-Christianity, and 
is based on resentment against minds subtler, quicker, and more 



JANUARY, 1944 221 

cognizant of fact as well as value. It would rage as furiously 
against Catholics as against Jews if they were as small and as vul- 
nerable a minority. Nazism is the last phase of the intermittent, 
ever-renewed attempt of partially Romanized Germany to shake 
itself free of Mediterranean influence. 

Despite the horrors committed and damage done, it does not 
look as if these descendants of Hermann, Attila, and Genseric 
would have their way. 

More probably the present phase of the antique world, the har- 
mony of Greek, Jew, Roman, and assimilated barbarian known as 
Christianity, and identical with European civilization wherever 
found, will gradually give place to a society which has outgrown, 
forgotten, or discarded it. 

No longer is Greek regarded as essential in education. It is al- 
ready being pursued only by students who mean to make a pro- 
fession of teaching it, or of using it as philologers and archaeol- 
ogists. Latin will follow before long. Hebrew disappeared from 
general culture generations ago. Little by little their literatures, 
including our rituals, will sink into the background and disappear 
along with institutional Christianity itself. 

What will replace them? I for one cannot conceive. Our lan- 
guages will cease to be understood even earlier than our ideas and 
feelings. Our literature will be as dead as Hebrew is today. If as- 
pirations toward the good and the beautiful survive, what shape 
will they take, what expression will they find in the visual and 
verbal arts, and in music? We can no more imagine it than even 
an Alexandrian, let alone a Periclean, Greek could foresee Chartres 
or Rheims Cathedral, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Bee- 
thoven, Wagner, and Strauss. And I speak of art only. What of the 
material world, and all that will have been invented inventions 
and discoveries that may change society even more radically than 
the arts! Underneath it all, the least changed will remain man 
himself. 



222 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



January 28th 

ANOTHER REFUGEE, a lady of the best society, has found shelter 
in this house. She arrived after adventures worthy of the late 
Greek romances, with a babe six months old that, on foot, she car- 
ried for many hours over stony paths. She had to avoid roads 
where the ghoul-Fascists might have arrested her. 

Her husband has had a prominent position in one of the African 
provinces where apparently a good deal of anti-British propa- 
ganda was current. One of the chief accusations regarded the Suez 
Canal This lady seemed to believe that the canal being "inter- 
nazionaF meant that everybody could pass through it free of 
charge. Nevertheless England made Italy pay so much for every 
ton, and so much per person for every ship, and every soldier or 
civilian going to and from Eritrea, Abyssinia, and the seat of em- 
pire. She had no idea that the canal was a private concern, and 
that although nobody, in peace or war, could be stopped from 
passing, everybody had to pay, from England as well as from 
other countries. 

Italian imperialism rests on a most unexpected ignorance and 
a total disregard of the questions of labor and transport. One of 
the bitter complaints after the last war against France and Eng- 
land was that Italy had not been given the coal mines of Eregli. 
Now, Eregli is on the southern shores of the Black Sea. I tried in 
vain to tell my Italian friends that even if they owned the mines 
they would have to supply machinery, pay engineers and work- 
men, and send ships to fetch the coal; that apart from giving em- 
ployment to a mere handful of Italian subjects, the economic ad- 
vantages might be questionable. 

The pusillanimous conduct of the Chamberlain cabinet over 
Abyssinia, and later over Spain, led the Italian press to believe 
that England was in her decline, and that she would not be able 
to hold India much longer. Who, then, should take up the task 
England had carried out so incompetently, so greedily, so wick- 
edly, who but Fascist Italy? 



JANUARY, 1944 223 

It was not only newspapermen, with no notion of the facts, and 
obliged to write what they were told, hut in one instance an emi- 
nent Indianist. This scholar, who, with British protection, encour- 
agement, and assistance, could study Indian prohlems and must 
have been aware of the difficulty of solving many of them, except 
with patience, and in the course of many years this gentleman, 
when convinced that both France and England were collapsing, 
did his best to make Mussolini see his duty in taking over the 
white man's burden in India. 

It seems our new lady refugee was made unhappy when she 
heard me say Abyssinia would not be returned to Italy. 

It never occurred to her apparently to ask: What rights so an- 
cient, so well grounded did Italy have to that Empire? It appar- 
ently had not entered her head that it was inhuman and immoral 
to fall upon your neighbor with superior arms, in order to enslave 
him and exploit his resources; that Italy had no claims on Abys- 
sinia, and that in fact the conquest of that country was one of the 
sources for the state of feeling that led to this war. This same lady 
believes that absolute government alone is good government and 
that all revolutions are due to intellectuals. 

January ^oth 

IN O'MEARA'S Memoirs of St. Helena Napoleon is constantly 
harping on Castlereagh's stupidity. The English working classes 
are famished and yet their government does nothing to encourage 
manufacture and trade. The British, who stood the brunt of the 
long war against him, should have demanded advantageous com- 
mercial treaties from Spain, who owed so much to England, and 
from the latter's allies, Prussia and Russia. Not a bit of it, and the 
last two are excluding British goods. 

Then, how foolish to have given back Java to the Dutch and the 
Isle de Bourbon to the French the French, who should be pre- 
vented from occupying stepping stones to India. Napoleon seemed 
to believe I have no doubt with secret joy that England had 
ruined herself fighting him, and was too far gone and too stupid 



224 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



to recover. The future was Russia's, as indeed so many believe 
today. 

He harps on England's getting nothing out of the war against 
him, and it seems to him the depth of stupidity. It does not occur 
to him that grab and grip were even in his day archaic and already 
superannuated policies, and that Great Britain might be wise in 
refusing to keep all that fell to her while fighting. 

Even now, it is the rarest of experiences to discover a Conti- 
nental European who will not tell you that England is out for 
nothing but more and more territory and that despite the sur- 
renders that incurred Napoleon's contempt, and the later cession 
of the Ionian Islands and of Helgoland. 

O'Meara's chronicle of Napoleon's complaints over his treat- 
ment by Hudson Lowe is distressing. The moment an official tells 
you that he is only doing his duty, you may expect the worst. He 
may merely be stupid, resentful of superiority, unconsciously en- 
joy taking it down a peg and bossing over it. He has nevertheless 
immortalized himself: as much as the creature who, to secure his 
name for posterity, burned down the Temple of Diana of Ephesus. 
But Napoleon was a chatterer. He had to talk, and O'Meara had 
to act as go-between and complaint-carrier. Great, perhaps, and 
fascinating, certainly, as was Napoleon, a gentleman he was not. 
Un monsieur ne se plaint quune settle fois- a gentleman com- 
plains but once. 

February ist 

EXCEPT in the human sphere, the irrational is being pushed back 
all the time. It is already so far from us that, for practical consid- 
erations, it no longer counts. 

I have marveled that one could undertake to treat man in the 
lump as rational. Yet our ethics and politics are based on the no- 
tion that he is. Nature we regard as irrational, and are never in- 
dignant with her for the havoc she commits. An eruption of Etna 
with accompanying earthquakes kills fifty thousand human beings 
and overwhelms the work of years; turns the prosperous farms, the 



FEBRUARY, 1944 005 

busy tow r ns, the smiling landscape into a desert of grim lava tinder 
a malignant sun; and we feel no indignation. Nature is irrational 
and the irrational is irresponsible; you cannot get indignant with 
blind, unconscious force. 

And is man in the lump more aware of the consequences of his 
actions, more responsible and therefore a subject for indignation? 
For indignation is based on the idea that its subject could have 
acted otherwise. 

Man in the lump is little, if any, more rational than a herd of 
buffaloes on the stampede, as it used to be described when I was 
a small boy and buffaloes still roamed free in regions now thickly 
settled by Babbitts, their bosses, and dependents. The individual 
man may be more rational, but nothing like so much as, despite 
universal experience to the contrary, we expect him to be. 

We do this so as to hold him responsible for his acts, to stir up 
indignation against him, and to punish him accordingly. 

As far as mankind was concerned, whether in the mass or as in- 
dividuals, this has been our attitude until some generations ago. 

A gradual change has come over us since the publication of 
Ossian and the Percy Reliques on the one hand, and on the other 
the rise of Romanticism in Germany. 

Literary critics have called it the awakening of wonder. It was 
rather the dawn of a suspicion that man was not a rational being. 
The awakening came slowly, and is perhaps only now being com- 
monly recognized. 

At first it took the shape of awe before hitherto unsuspected 
depths and passions lurking in the human breast. It found, or tried 
to find, expression in Novalis, in Chateaubriand, in Scott, in By- 
ron, in Tieck, in Chamisso, in Jean Paul, in La Motte-Fouqu6, in 
Hoffmann, in Pushkin, in Lermontov, and of course in the galaxy 
of the French Romantics. 

This recognition of the individual's irrationality would have 
done little harm to the European world as a whole. But it quickly 
passed over to an admiration for the heroic, that is to say for out- 
breaks of energy no matter how directed, as well as for primitive 
societies where heroism could be continually displayed. It stood 



226 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

for a life wild but free, indifferent to consequences and therefore 
noble; the kind of life that the contemporary British official in 
Palestine his imagination fired by the ultraromantic Lawrence 
and contrasting it with his own cribbed and cabined one fancies 
the Bedouin is always living. 

Unfortunately, admiration was followed by nostalgic longings 
to return to a similar state of society and to the actual cult of the 
irrational. It no longer sufficed Wagner to celebrate passionately, 
tenderly, magniloquently the victims of a love philter; he had to 
go further and sing his contempt for reason as embodied in Mime, 
and rational order as incarnate in Freya, and belch out delirium 
over brainless derring-do in Siegfried. 

From Wagner and Nietzsche, and the former's son-in-law the 
ex-English Chamberlain, to Hitler and Rosenberg, with their 
blood and soil, was but a step. Nazism and its affinities are based 
on the cult of the irrational as the ultimate reality. Hence the re- 
turn to a primitive, or at least archaic, tribal solipsism, and the 
politics, morality, and inhumanity of the jungle in short, the 
spirit of a Siberian tiger provided with every up-to-date mechan- 
ical, theatrical, and propagandist instrument of combat. 

Nazism in the collective sphere is paralleled by Freudism in the 
case of the individual. For thousands of years reason has endeav- 
ored to tame the wild beast in our bosoms, to chain the mad dog, 
to extirpate the vermin. Now we are urged to let them loose and 
disport themselves in the sun, even if nominally it is with the pur- 
pose of getting rid of them. I confess to little faith in the promise. 
The immediate result is an excited interest in what goes on be- 
neath the belt to the exclusion of head and members. It is as if 
in a household everything was ignored proportions, architecture, 
comfort, furnishing and that nothing counted but drains, more 
drains, and ever more drains. 

How far is man, as an individual, rational? Where does he begin 
to be invincibly irrational? How far can sex and amusement be 
safely suppressed? Ascetics of the last five and twenty centuries 
thought, enacted, and tried to enforce the reduction of the last to 



FEBRUARY, 1944 

zero and the first to the grudgingly admitted necessity of continu- 
ing the race. 

We have successfully revolted against puritanism, and the pres- 
ent tendency is to study problems of sex and recreation with no 
respect for theological or moralistic prejudices. The results could 
be hopeful, if a dragon did not lie in the path. It is the tendency 
of totalitarian societies, and of many economists elsewhere, to turn 
sex not into a fountain of joy, of inspiration to poetry, to painting, 
to music, to all the other arts, but into an industry for the produc- 
tion of cannon fodder or of consumers for manufactured goods. 

To my knowledge, the question has never been studied of just 
how much man, whether in the mass or as individual, is affected 
by catchwords and phrases. That we are highly verbo-toxic seems 
certain to our rulers, if not to ourselves. The press was powerful, 
yet how feeble compared with a monopolized radio, in producing 
crowd-mindedness! The individual who resists, even when not 
subjected to police persecution and social ostracism, is left out in 
the cold, angry and gasping. A state-directed and exclusive radio 
may succeed in plunging or, shall we say, doping its subjects into 
a condition of mind as unquestioning as that of any archaic so- 
ciety. Nazism has achieved it. It can fall upon its neighbors, over- 
come them, slaughter them by the million, and enslave the sur- 
vivors with as little protest from the all but totality of Germans as 
ever reached the ear of a Babylonian conqueror in the third mil- 
lennium before our era. Not only Nazism but any other authori- 
tarian society must end in a return to archaic conditions of a more 
and more primitive kind. The circle will be ultimately rounded 
off; the irrational will have triumphed, and there will be no further 
question of reason. 

But there is Russia. I have read a good deal of what has been 
published in England and America, France and Italy, about Soviet 
politics, Soviet society, Soviet economics. 

Only two books seem to throw a certain light on the country 
that is now warring so successfully against the Nazis. Ambassador 
Davies* observations are largely concerned with industries and 



228 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

preparations for meeting the onslaught from Germany that Stalin 
was expecting. Interesting as he is, he has little to say about the 
sociological, and nothing about the inner life of the Russian 
masses. 

The other book is by Littlepage, an American mining engineer 
who confines himself to describing what he saw. He saw all sorts 
of peoples and clans torn away from their hunting, their nomadic, 
their agricultural pursuits and tribal organizations; flung far from 
their habitual haunts, and forced into mines and factories along 
with groups of different speech, different religions, different cus- 
toms; and although many perished, many others ended as good 
workmen, excellent mechanics, as well as detribalized and stand- 
ardized Soviet subjects. 

Talk of the "melting pot" in America! It will take generations 
before Irish and Poles, Italians and Jews will get out of their sev- 
eral ghettoes and be Americanized. 

Stalin's policy, cruel, inhuman, reckless of associations of at- 
tachment to soil and blood, of tradition, of family ties even, is by 
far the most interesting social experiment ever made. It treats men 
and women as mere clay or as chemical elements. It remains to be 
seen whether, in the long run, they will remain as inert. One of my 
few regrets at being so near my seventy-ninth year is that I cannot 
expect to see the result of Stalin's undertaking. He may succeed 
in detribalizing, in deregionalizing the variegated populations of 
his vast empire if indeed that has been his intention. He may re- 
duce the human beings dwelling between the Baltic and Pacific 
to the same condition, speaking the same language and uttering 
the same catchwords, with the same fervor. Will they stay put? 

Not likely. They will develop a governing class not only in ad- 
ministration, in industries, in business, in politics, but no less in 
the realm of mind, in the sciences, in thought, in literature, and in 
the arts. Will this ruling class not grow too selfish, too self -appreci- 
ative, too arrogant, too exclusive, too possessive, as similar classes 
have done in the past as they did in Russia to such degree that 
the masses could easily be roused to massacre them? 



FEBRUARY, 1944 229 

Revolutions are necessary because ruling classes lose grip, fail 
to rule for the common good, and have to be swept away. To give 
the sweepers adequate enthusiasm for their distressing task, one 
has to dope them into ecstasies of conviction that they are creating 
a paradise upon earth: no hunger, no disease, no jealousy, no envy, 
no spite; only brotherly love, disinterested activities, freedom for 
the exercise of the highest, most individualized functions; every 
creature encouraged to strive for his own perfection. 

If this is so, if mankind is destined to go through the same 
phases eternally, no matter in how many generations or centuries 
or even millennia a full circle is completed, then man is not a sub- 
ject for history but for anthropology. 

Indeed, I have often asked myself whether history has begun. 
Political and social history certainly not. The histories where the 
rational gets the better of the irrational are the histories of the sci- 
ences and of the arts. Yet such is the lust of writers and readers for 
blood and thunder that no history is read much, no narrative is 
considered to be real history, unless it mythicizes politics and war. 

The corollary should be I fear it is seldom drawn that most 
so-called history is read not for instruction and enlightenment but 
for entertainment. It is either as attractive narrative, like most of 
our classical histories from Herodotus downwards, or it attempts 
to rationalize the past, as started by the authors of the Biblical 
Books of Kings, pursued by Polybius and Tacitus, St. Augustine 
and his host of followers through the ages, and the Hegel-inspired 
historians of the last hundred years. 

For which reason I am at times induced to approve the Chinese, 
who will hear nothing of the past except actualities. Or I tend to 
fall back on memoirs and letters, which tell what at any given 
moment people were feeling and thinking about the events that 
were taking shape in their presence. I end by having more respect 
for them than for the documents so revered by philological his- 
torians. 

A fear often takes hold of me that we may not be meant to be 
rational. It looks as if man is an animal who like other animals has 



230 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

to spend his long life fighting, with the difference, however, that 
at the same time he is, as Bergson had it, a machine for creating 
gods and of course myths. 

It is not improbable that once mankind ceases to battle, and to 
believe in life-sustaining lies, religions, superstitions of every kind, 
it may cease to live. 

We are too far from such an eventuality to regard it as practical 
politics. At present we must fight the irrational tooth and nail. 

February 6th 

A GERMAN OFFICER who has just returned from leave reports 
that cities like Cologne and Frankfurt, which he saw with his own 
eyes, are reduced to heaps of ruins. The shops are empty. He 
asked for a uniform and was told that he could take what he 
found. He found nothing. He saw, in midwinter, recruits practic- 
ing in clothes barely suitable for summer. The soldiers were being 
well fed no longer. Even for the officers, the food was poor and 
far from plentiful. The only comforting recent event, he said, was 
for Germans that they had struck oil both in Hungary and in ad- 
jacent Austria, so that they no longer fear a shortage or even stop- 
page of petrol. 

Here in Florence, open trucks arrive from the "Gustav line" 
with wounded Germans lying on straw. They look pitiable, wan, 
greenish. The town is full of their troops going southward. They 
may not remain more than three days. Everybody praises their 
correct behavior. 

Which is not the case with the ghoul-Fascist regime. These con- 
tinue to arrest generals all over the place, and priests who have 
sheltered and fed English prisoners. On the other hand, Fascist 
bosses are being attacked and at times with success. There is no 
little sabotage. Reports are rife that the bands in remoter places 
no longer ask but demand obliging proprietors to give them not 
only food and clothing but money as well, considerable amounts. 

The same officer told us that Hitler has apparently taken Flor- 
ence under his special protection, and issued orders that nothing 



FEBRUARY, 1944 23! 

shall be done to draw upon it the terror of the Anglo-Saxons. It 
seems that Hitler was profoundly impressed by the town. When 
taken to the Piazzale Michelangelo, he stood and looked down OB 
the churches and palaces with the Arno running between them to 
the plain toward Pisa. He stood lost in deep feeling from which he 
found himself again with the ejaculation: "At last I understand 
Feuerbach and Bdcklin!" 

The realm of beauty, of art even, exists for Hitler as it does not 
for his precursor Mussolini. What a mystery is this demon of a 
Hitler, the incarnation of the irrational, yet with something fas- 
cinating that makes one wonder. 

February Qth 

YESTERDAY toward midday high up out of a dazzling sky ap- 
peared formations of Allied aircraft, which bombed and bom- 
barded with detonations that sounded like thunder. 

It is difficult to find out what they were after, or even what they 
hit. Apparently nothing of military use. Rumor has it that they 
struck an orphan asylum. 

The Axis-minded will go so far as to say that the flying ma- 
chines came for no other purpose. 

Many of the Axis-minded who now recognize the evils of Fas- 
cism and the bestiality of the Nazis have been so successfully 
"vaccinated against the truth," to use Michelet's phrase, by Axis 
propaganda against the English, that they snatch, seize, and grasp 
eagerly at anything that makes the English out to be no better 
than the Germans. 

We all are miserable sinners, and it is easy enough for those so 
disposed to pick out and isolate cases of English conduct that 
are reprehensible, and to insist on them with so much emphasis 
that they swell to the bulk of Nazi atrocities. 

To win the war, these Allies must inevitably resort to the arms 
of their opponents, a corsaire corsaire et demi, and thus give 
ground for their being charged with as much devilishness. 

What gets me is the Axis propaganda about the war in the air. 



232 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

At the beginning of the last war, in 1914, 1 heard Lord Desart say 
that of course nobody would commit such a crime as bombing 
civilian populations from the air. The Germans began it, and in 
this war the Nazis won with it their world-shaking, disconcerting 
triumphs in Poland first, and then in Holland, Belgium, and 
France. Upon which, they set about deliberately to destroy Lon- 
don, and succeeded in almost bombing Coventry out of existence. 
From its name the Germans made a verb and boasted that all 
other British towns would be "coventrized." When the statistics 
of some forty-seven thousand killed by their onslaughts appeared, 
the Germans gloried in the figure, and snarled that it was the 
fault of Churchill for daring to resist them. In Axis lands, no pub- 
lic protest was raised against these massacres and destructions. 
I doubt whether so much as a twentieth part of their populations 
minded. The overwhelming majority were delighted. 

Italian Fascists were day by day hearing and reading of the 
continuous bombarding of Malta, with no thought of the killed 
or wounded, and no regret for the destruction of peculiarly beau- 
tiful masterpieces of their own architecture. And when Mussolini 
begged humbly for the permission, graciously granted by Hitler, 
to join with several hundred machines in the air war against Lon- 
don, Fascist bosoms swelled with pride. 

This state of mind and heart regarding the air war would have 
gone on as careless of humanity, and as indifferent to destruction, 
and would have increased in compliance, if only the earlier air 
triumphs had continued. 

February nth 

THE AMERICANS who a few days ago bombed the environs of 
Florence made a victim of Lina Cavalieri. This at one time notori- 
ous beauty lived here for years, it seems, and in sufficient obscu- 
rity for me never to have heard of her presence. Latterly she got 
frightened of remaining in town, and went to occupy a villa in the 
Pian dei Giullari region, out of harm's way, as she thought. There 
her fate overtook her. 



FEBRUARY, 1944 233 

In O'Meara's memoirs Napoleon speaks of chance and luck, 
and how in his earlier career as a soldier, always directing or tak- 
ing part in battles, people were shot down next to him, while he 
never suffered more than slight wounds. 

To return to Lina Cavalieri I had forgotten her and supposed 
she no longer existed. At one time in Italy, and then abroad, she 
excited some curiosity. She was of the humblest possible origin: 
it was believed that her father ran the privies of the Roman rail- 
way station. She was discovered by Carlo di Rudini and trained 
by him for the role of femme galante the high-stepping co- 
cotte. 

Rudini, by the way, was a first-class trainer for society splendor 
and success. Did he not change the small-bourgeois D'Annunzio 
from a gifted poetical genius into a flashy man of the world? 

I cannot recall how the Cavalieri lived before she reached the 
skyscrapers of Manhattan. I seem to remember that she kept a 
beauty parlor in Paris. In New York she was taken up by Bridget 
Guinness, an exquisite creature whose house before the last war 
was all but the center of New York's smartest society. Bridget 
as all called her, whether they had or had not a right to got it 
into her charming, irresponsible head to make Lina's fortune. She 
threw her at the tousled, half -crazy "Chimpy Chanler," and lie 
married her. The wedding was soon followed by a divorce. 

February i^th 

MY HOSTESS lunched yesterday in the company of the editor of 
the most authoritative Tuscan daily, the Nazione. His name is 
Mirco Giobbe, the first part certainly Yugoslav and the second 
probably Venetic. He claims, however, to be a Roman and to have 
been at school with Ciano. He talked freely; and she is a precise 
as well as a lively reporter. 

Of Ciano he said that Edda Mussolini made desperate efforts 
to save her husband. Nothing availed. It seems that orders for 
his death came from Hitler and were peremptory. I recall that on 
the second day after Ciano and the other four were shot, the Fas- 



234 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

cist press came out with notices and articles discreetly but clearly 
regretting the execution. 

The editor regarded the execution as necessary for winning the 
war and he was certain they would win it. Presumably the ex- 
ample would make the chiefs of other satellite countries think 
twice before they attempted to get out of the Nazi camp. 

He confessed that he had been commanded to prepare a special 
edition of the Nazione to celebrate the repulse of the Anglo-Amer- 
ican forces venturing to land with felonious intent on the sacred 
shores of Latlum. He had no little difficulty in keeping back the 
publication. This is on all fours with the Duce's going to Libya, 
prepared to ride into Alexandria as conqueror on a white horse. 

He went on to say that the Germans could not leave the Pope 
in Rome. If they did ? he would order American Catholics to vote 
for Roosevelt, in the impending presidential elections. 

I tried to point out to my hostess that in the first place Roose- 
velt, so far as I knew, had not yet decided whether he was going 
to stand again. Moreover, if His Holiness gave out such a com- 
mand, it does not follow that all Catholics would obey. The cer- 
tain result would be that most still practicing Protestants and 
Jews, as well as pious freethinkers, would thereby be induced to 
vote against Roosevelt. 

But it is not easy to get the attention of Continental Europeans, 
when one tries to talk to them about American politics as an ac- 
tuality and not as suits their prejudices and wishes. 

She inquired of the editor what the shooting affray of a few 
afternoons ago in Florence had been about. 

When the resurrected Fascists returned here, as a cynically 
transparent mask for a Nazi occupation, they could trust neither 
the militia, nor the carabinieri, nor the police to do their bidding. 
They proceeded to empty out of the reform schools boys of crimi- 
nal propensities, armed them to the teeth, mounted them on 
cycles, and ordered them to act as police. These are having a 
grand time, ordering people about, insulting, threatening, and at 
times carrying out their threats. 

It seems that the other day they had been banqueted and came 



FEBRUARY, 1Q44 235 

out the worse for drink. While marching through one of the prin- 
cipal thoroughfares, some of them fired off guns and pistols, upon 
which the others, in their booze, concluded that they were being 
shot at from the houses they were passing, A general fantasia suc- 
ceeded, and some of the cheery lads rushed into the houses to dis- 
cover who might be shooting at them. In one they found a most 
respectable professional man in his bath and killed him outright, 
shouting as they left: "We have done for him." 

It appears that the German commander of the district asked 
the specter-Fascist general of the same district how many troops 
he could dispose of. "Seven thousand/' was the answer, "but they 
are unarmed and unless you supply them with guns and ammuni- 
tion they are of no use." The Germans, for fear that they might 
turn against themselves, will not trust them with arms. 

The same journalist defended the bloodthirsty, sadic Captain 
Carita because he was so "sincere" and in "buona fede" What 
crimes, O sincerity, are condoned and even approved of when 
done in thy name! Carita may not be torturing or killing for finan- 
cial profit or even place: he simply may be satisfying his lust for 
the agony and blood of his fellow men. 

The editor expressed his conviction that in France the only 
person left to collaborate with the Nazis was Laval. Similar state- 
ments have reached me again and again from German sources. 

February i$th 

THE Volkischer Beobachter the Peoples Observer is the offi- 
cial daily of the Nazi party, and is edited by its John the Evange- 
list, Alfred Rosenberg. 

On the yth of this month it published an illustrated broadside 
about Siena, and in big square letters announced that this abode 
of art in every field and every kind, this treasure house not infe- 
rior to Florence, had been almost totally and deliberately de- 
stroyed by the terroristic Anglo-American air gangsters. 

I did not believe this piece of news, seeing the Italian press 
and radio did not start up the hullabaloo they would have made 



236 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

if it had been true. They only spoke of damage done to the Os- 
servanza across the valley to the north of Siena; and even that 
seems doubtful. 

Nevertheless, to make sure, I had inquiries made at the office 
of the art superintendent. There nothing was known, it not being 
their business; but they did not regard the report as probable. 
Their indifference, by the way, speaks either for a lack of interest 
in monuments and works of art for which they are not personally 
responsible, or perhaps for a sense like mine: that the Anglo- 
Americans are not likely to go out of their way to destroy build- 
ings and their contents when they have no military value. 

On further inquiry it turned out that Ranuccio Bianchi-Ban- 
dinelli had been at Siena days after the publication of the Nazi 
organ, and that he had seen no sign whatever of damage from the 
air. 

We can add that whatever devastation Siena has suffered in 
the fifty-six years that I have known it has come entirely from its 
aediles, eager for novelty at all costs. 

February i^th B. B. to X ... 

DEAR FRIEND, thank you for the political letter. I cannot leave 
it unanswered although I can scarcely more than indicate briefly 
the subject I would like to discuss with you. If we could talk 
things over calmly, quietly, fully, and ohne Feindschaft, I should 
probably take back or modify some of what I shall now write 
down, and clarify the rest. I fear our opportunity for such talk 
is still far away. So I jot down what spontaneously comes to my 
mind. 

To begin with, let me remind you that for several years I have 
been urging my Italian friends to master conversational English. 
Few Anglo-Saxons understand and speak any language but their 
own. Even then many of my Italian friends will be handicapped 
by the fact of not having the material means to receive the Anglo- 
Saxon warriors and dine and wine them in the midst of attractive 
society. It might easily happen that such hospitality dispensed by 



FEBRUARY, 1944 

the wrong kind of people will greatly appeal to these warriors 
who, impressed by their titles, may torn to them for advice, and 
believe that they can trust their recommendations. Thereby the 
more politically minded people who will come after will find 
themselves sidetracked. 

You must expect little sympathy from the Anglo-Saxon occupa- 
tion for ideas of redistributing or diminishing the legal rights of 
private property. You may propose taxing its incomes to the ex- 
tent of 90 per cent and you will perhaps encounter no opposition. 
On no condition must you question on principle the "sacred rights 
of private property." 

So much for the occupying forces. Now as to your fellow citi- 
zens. I fear you underestimate the force of passive resistance that 
can be developed by your possessive classes. They have ceased 
to be a governing aristocracy, but by their mass they can still 
afford a stout let us hope not overwhelming resistance to 
threats against their hold on property, if not of privileges. You 
should therefore be cautious in the language you use with regard 
to private property, particularly in land, and the rights that go 
with it. 

I would propose reconciling landowners, industrial, and finan- 
cial interests by introducing and fostering a spirit of compromise. 
The trouble with most Latin politics is dogmatism, turning poli- 
tics into theology. Discuss with your adversary, no matter how 
little, at first, he seems inclined to listen. Propose meeting him 
part of the way. Make it clear to him that it is his only chance of 
not losing everything. 

A like course might reconcile many of the least stupid property- 
holders, and at the same time rally Anglo-Saxon public opinion to 
your side. 

If you offend and frighten property-holders, not to speak of 
attempts at using violence, there is serious danger that this time 
they will throw themselves into the arms of the Vatican as twenty 
years ago into those of the Fascio. The Vatican, with its cohorts 
of Jesuits and other praetorians, has a beautiful, liberal-sounding, 
comforting, and reassuring program ready a sort of Dollfuss 



238 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

regime and is on the watch, hoping that the leftists will drive 
other parties to its motherly embrace. 

And, dear friend, you must let me say a word about my own 
position. You will easily believe that, given my advanced age, 
having no heirs of my body and my entire income in America, I 
am fairly free from fears about my own possessions in Italy. You 
will not suspect me of property-holding sympathies and preju- 
dices, on personal grounds. I can assure you that if I had my way 
I would have property attached to service, to usefulness to the 
community as a whole. But I would proceed not only without 
violence but gradually. 

My own deep-rooted instinctive desire is to preserve cultural 
values, humanistic standards, and freedom of thought and speech 
for every individual in a community. 

I do not trust a proletariat to care for these matters, let alone 
to foster them. It would take long to explain why I have such a 
dread of the proletariat, and more still of its "intelligentsia." I 
fear it, and I would oppose in every way the prevailing tendency 
to regard the proletarian and his interests as the chief concern of 
the state. 

I know what the proletariat is like in America, where the fac- 
tory hands are being exploited by hundreds of Mussolinis and 
Hitlers. These "Fiihrer," these "Duci," are just as arbitrary, just 
as despotic, and just as ambitious as over here. In America, hap- 
pily, there is among the burjui a strong enough civic spirit to de- 
feat them, chiefly by yielding to what is feasible in their demands. 
In England, likewise, demagogy is checkmated by the readiness 
of the possessive classes to anticipate exasperation of the working 
classes by giving in to their more reasonable demands before it is 
too late. 

Luckily, Italy as yet has a percentually small, an almost insig- 
nificant proletariat, and by proletariat I mean workers engaged 
in heavy industries and to a limited extent the manual workers, 
excluding the peasantry. I would not encourage it to believe in 
its own supposititious rights and in its dominating importance. 
I am inclined to believe that it is your and my only serious long- 



FEBRUARY, 1944 

range enemy. Remember: Fascism, Nazism, etc., etc., are ulti- 
mately based on plebiscitism, and the plebiscite is invariably an 
appeal to the proletarian spirit. 

If there is a serious difference between me and Italian leftists 
it is over that. Other differences could be easily reconciled. I fear 
the fanatical sympathy of the Italian intelligentsia for a proletar- 
iat which threatens in our day to play the part of the third- and 
fourth-century soldieries. I dread abstractions of every kind when 
applied to politics, I dread fanaticism over formulas and systems, 
I dread Soterism, messianism, the Fuhrerprinzip, the expectation 
of getting good government quickly. 

Life and political thinking have taught me, as they have others, 
that government is the art of the momentarily feasible, of aiming 
at the least bad attainable, and not of the rationally most desir- 
able. 

I must end with a word about my own possible usefulness as 
interpreter between Italians and Anglo-Saxons. 

To begin with, there is my age. This not only incapacitates me 
for hard and continuous work but exposes me to the charge 
perhaps well founded of being an old fogy, unable to under- 
stand the problem of the hour. 

Then I fear that of the Anglo-Saxons coming here, the very 
few who know of me at all as a political thinker consider me an 
ideologist. The reasons for this they will have forgotten. For 
twenty years I have been telling them that Mussolini meant dis- 
aster, meant war, and that his ideas were incompatible with our 
world order. They have been compelled at last to fight an ideo- 
logical war but retain the vague memory that I was inopportune 
and therefore not practical in politics. 

I should have the further disadvantage of being the "man on 
the spot." It is a cardinal principle of Anglo-Saxon policy to put 
no trust in the "man on the spot." In foreign, particularly in Latin, 
Slav, and Moslem lands, the "man on the spot" tells of things that 
in England and America could not happen. So the Anglo-Saxons 
believe that they cannot happen anywhere and the "man on the 
spot" exaggerates, and talks nonsense. 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Despite everything, I shall be happy to do whatever I can to 
help you to heal Italy of her sickness and to get her into a con- 
valescent condition. 

February igth 

ITALIAN FRIENDS are more and more disgruntled and indignant 
with the Anglo-Saxons for bombing their cities and being so slow 
in coming to free them from German occupation and its foul 
specter-Fascist parasite. They naively demand to be treated as 
the prodigal son for whom was killed the fatted calf, in the shape 
of all the good things they have been deprived of and to receive 
them unrationed and almost gratis. 

They demand that much to reward them for being sick of the 
war, and not wanting to continue the fight. The Anglo-Saxons 
should therefore treat them not only as allies but as privileged 
ones, because they are Italians quia nominorLeo. 

They cannot realize that ever since war-weariness lay hold of 
them, the chief problem has been how to get rid of their former 
allies, the Nazis. 

The Germans will not go. They seem inclined to make serious 
sacrifices in order to remain in their positions. The Italians are 
doing nothing to evict them. They leave it to us. 

But the Anglo-Saxons must refrain from using the one arm in 
which they have developed crushing superiority. They must not 
bomb towns which the Nazis are using as strongholds. 

Propaganda is converting more and more Italians to the con- 
viction that it is cowardly, inhuman, wicked to use aircraft. The 
Germans should be met with the bayonet and not with aerial 
armaments. 

Absurd stories are being unofficially whispered, told, and 
printed of the terrible and willful havoc made by English and 
American bombs. It seems to be turning Italians who were ready 
to receive us with flowers and hymns into soreheads who conclude 
that there is nothing to choose between Nazis and Anglo-Saxons. 

Perhaps it is as well. An occupation can never be satisfactory, 



FEBRUARY, 1944 24! 

and Italians were expecting a paradise to follow an Anglo-Saxon 
one. After a lowered opinion of the snail-pace victors, there is a 
chance that they will be agreeably disappointed. 



February 2Oth 

MUSSOLINI issued a decree yesterday telling recruits who do 
not answer the call to the colors that if they do not do their duty 
in the next few days they will be shot wherever found, preferably 
in their own homes. What better confession that the youth of the 
country either wishes to ignore this regime or simply is war-weary 
and wants the end of soldiering, and that they take to the woods 
rather than to the recruiting office. Yet the Nazi press had been 
rejoicing at the alacrity of the numerous forces that were running 
to the defense of the Duce! 

The same press from day to day fills its columns with quota- 
tions from Fortune, Time, and other periodicals in America, from 
the Daily Herald, the Daily Worker in England, and similar pub- 
lications complaining of abuses and expressing dissatisfaction with 
their several governments, Yesterday I read of a member of Par- 
liament who got up to accuse Churchill of conniving at various 
malpractices. Would anyone in Naziland have dared to make a 
similar charge against Hitler, and would any German publication 
be allowed to make the complaints and criticism that fill columns 
of the Anglo-American press? 

February zist 

YESTERDAY there died, as he was stepping out of his cottage 
to take the noontide sun, an old peasant of over eighty-six, the 
head of the family that has been working the neighboring farm 
for three hundred years and more. Ever since I have been here 
I have found him on my walk along the terraces cushioned with 
grasses and wild flowers that lead to his dwelling. He was as 
merry and talkative as Wordsworth's Simon the old huntsman. He 
enjoyed being alive, and was always smoking his overpowering 



RVMOR AND REFLECTION 

Virginia stump with keen relish. Sundays he came out in holiday 
attire and went to mass on foot. There was a man who said "yes" 
to life. He had nothing to complain of. He accepted old age as in- 
evitable, and suffered only from its bodily inconveniences. He 
was well treated by sons, daughters, and in-laws. They showed 
no sign of wanting to get rid of him. 

How different from the end of peasants, too old to work, as de- 
scribed by most French writers since Balzac! How much less cruel 
than what was the custom fifty years ago, and may still be in 
Calabria! There the old couple, as soon as they could work no 
more, left the farm and took to the road. When I protested, such 
a couple replied that it was quite right, that their fathers and 
forefathers had done so. 

My hostess tells me that this dear old man did not hesitate to 
fill a big basket with plums of no very pleasant kind, putting on 
top a layer of better looks and taste to take to market. When he 
was dividing walnuts into the share going to her, and the one he 
was going to keep, he weighed each one and passed to her the 
ones with no kernel 

The Florentine peasant is a civilized, in a sense cultivated, in- 
dividual. He is human and kindly, but he knows his rights and 
his perquisites. He is aware that his landlord does not approve, 
and if nothing is said he will behave charmingly. Woe to him who 
starts opposing what the contadino regards as his rights. He gets 
nothing out of him, and for himself a sore head. 

Every profession has it perquisites and privileges at the public 
expense; only what is considered right in one's own day and one's 
profession, group, or class changes from time to time. Thus sine- 
cures for aristocracy and gentry were a matter of course: their 
morality was questioned by nobody. The paymaster of the British 
forces in the eighteenth century used the big sums entrusted to 
him as his own property for the time being, to employ to his own 
advantage. In our own days, bankers take as perquisite a day's 
interest on sums deposited with them. 

It is beautiful to watch the peasant at his work. When digging 
up the tough clay with his spade, his movements express directed 



FEBRUARY, 1944 243 

energy that no work of art has surpassed. The chocolate-colored 
furrows after hoeing look as if they had been treated by a jeweler 
rather than an agricultural laborer. As a matter of fact, Tuscany 
scarcely knows agriculture horticulture only, if not something 
still more delicate. 

The old man who died yesterday wanted to live to see his 
grandson, who was either prisoner of the Allies or collaborating 
with them in the south of Italy. The mother of this boy dreams 
of him all night long. To her the war is a question of how soon 
she will be able to see him again. At the same time she and the 
whole family are as pro-Ally as I am, have their radio, and listen 
to it with excited interest. 

It is, by the way, not easy to discover Italian peasants, or even 
artisans, who do not believe in the victory of the Allies. Without 
the propaganda of the specter Fascists, they would not even re- 
sent the bombardments. 

I mentioned the mother of the boy who is with the English. It 
is a pleasure, like listening to music, to see with what zest and 
keenness she digs and hoes and picks olives or does washing. One 
icy day I asked her how she could stand dipping her hands and 
arms up to the elbow into the cold water. She would not hear of 
sympathy; on the contrary, she was enjoying it. The other mem- 
bers of the family are scarcely inferior in spirit. They employ a 
young woman as help, who is supposed to be wild and half- 
witted; but her head, her eyes, her entire face, are as beautiful as 
Sebastiano del Piombo's women in his early Giorgionesque phase, 
as in San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice, or the Fornarina of the 
Uffizi. 

When I think of Italy's future it is on the peasantry that I fall 
back, on the peasantry, the independent artisans, and small shop- 
keepers. They still are the majority, and if only the intelligentsia 
does not succeed in addling their pates Italy may be the first coun- 
try to recover after this man-quake. I envy Italy this peasant, 
artisan, and small tradesman population. We have too little of 
it in America, and of peasantry nothing of our own. I mean to 
say that the descendants of the Fathers and pioneers, just because 



#44 RUMOR AN ? D REFLECTION 

they had the blood of pioneers in their veins, could never become 
peasants. For by peasants, as I probably have said earlier in these 
notes, I mean a person so attached atavistically to his bit of soil 
that he would rather suffer and endure than quit. 

Our fanner never hesitated to leave his acres on the chance of 
bettering himself by selling or even deserting his ancestral hold- 
ings and going west, then selling that farm so as to acquire with 
the proceeds a much larger estate still farther west. The result 
is that we not only have no peasantry but no places to which, gen- 
erations after generations, persons can turn to, as to home. Pos- 
sibly the Polish and Lithuanians who have taken up our deserted 
New England farms may remain a peasantry. If they do, it may 
be because they do not get assimilated, do not become American- 
ized, and remain priest-ridden Slavs. 

Stalin, if we may trust what we hear, is determined to get rid 
of the peasant in Russia, and of turning him into a proletarian. I 
wish I could live long enough to see how this experiment will turn 
out. Can it succeed, and with advantage to the peasant and his 
country? 

February z^d 

SOFT SNOW in huge flakes, like bunches of grapes, has been fall- 
ing for hours. I have just returned from our usual morning round. 
I could have wished the snow harder, for I still enjoy crunching 
it underfoot, as I enjoy crunching crusts with my teeth. 

The entire landscape was translated into black and white like 
a Chinese painting even though close at hand, a touch of gold 
hung to the drooping mimosas as in the Far Eastern pictures a 
touch of russet to the trees. The distances were mysteriously lit 
up with shy sunlight behind misty vapors circling in the sky. 
What a miracle, what a transfiguration! Yet none of our friends 
seem to appreciate it. For most of them, nature and life are not 
a miracle; only a fancied departure from nature and life seems 
miraculous. 



FEBRUARY, 1944 



February 24th 

I HEAR from various quarters that my book on Italian Painters, 
written for the most part nearly fifty years ago, is still being read 
in Italy and in France but no longer in America and England. 
This smallish volume may count as the nearest approach made by 
me to giving a fillip to thought on art matters. 

Which leads me to ask what use I have been since I was forty. 
By that time I had written the book just mentioned and I had 
completed and published the systematic work on the Drawings of 
the Florentine Painters. I had already made many attributions. 
It is true that in later years I perfected and refined the method 
in a way that enabled me to reconstruct the careers of Filippo 
Lippi, of Botticelli, of Antonello da Messina, of the young as well 
as of the old Giovanni Bellini, and others. Since forty I have been 
the chief instrument for directing a stream of Italian pictures to 
America. I have collected a library which may turn out of some 
utility to students of art and civilization who come after me. As 
a contributor to thought I doubt whether my death soon after 
fifty would have made the slightest difference. 

When only three and twenty myself, I happened to hear the 
then well-known journalist, amateur artist, and husband of a pe- 
culiarly Rossettian Greek wife, the Schenectady American W. J. 
Stillman, say that he did not care a pin for what was written by 
men under forty. 

At that time forty seemed an immeasurably remote age after 
which one would be relegated to vegetative obscurity; and Still- 
man, who then was absorbed in Italian hand-to-mouth politics, 
and was defender in chief of Crispi both in England and America, 
may have had in his mind only what is written on day-to- 
day affairs, I recall how bitterly I resented his declaration. What 
was to do in the endless years to pass before I too was forty and 
could say my say? 

Stillman was as wrong as only a journalist can be. It is histori- 



246 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

cally demonstrable that, with rare exceptions, genius and even 
talent appear long before forty, and achieve their utmost before 
the end of the fourth decade. There are glorious exceptions, of 
course, Rembrandt certainly and Frans Hals as well. Titian and 
Tintoretto perhaps likewise. Possibly also both Bellinis. In the 
field of literature it would have been a great loss if Shakespeare 
and Goethe, Plato and Sophocles, Cervantes and Tolstoi had died 
at forty. And what of Kant and Hegel? 

I remember having been told years ago by one of the few great 
mathematicians of our day that in his pursuit genius revealed it- 
self around the twenties, when it made its most valuable con- 
tributions to the advance of their art. In lyric poetry Coleridge, 
Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, and Shelley were dead before thirty or 
had given their most specifically best at that age. In music there 
are Mozart and Schubert, in Italian painting we have Giorgione 
and Raphael, none of whom lived to be forty. 

In the case of Raphael I doubt whether we need regret his 
early demise. As for Michelangelo, who knows what we might 
have been spared had he disappeared on the completion of the 
Sistine Chapel ceiling. True, we should be without the fascinating 
nightmares of the Medici Tombs; but how many distorted, heav- 
ing, bulging monstrosities we should have been spared, not so 
much of his own as of his followers, whether architects, sculptors, 
or painters down to our own day almost! 

February 2,$th 

IT is WHISPERED about that the Allies are preparing two land- 
ings in full force, for the end of this month. As this month has 
only four days before it, I have my doubts about the date. So 
much for the time; and as for the place, one is to be on the shores 
of the gulf of Lyons and the other in the neighborhood of Trieste. 
An Allied force in Istria would attract partisans from Slovenia, 
Croatia, as well as the Serbian Banat, and could annex Tito's 
army. It could, if properly prepared, and in sufficient strength and 



FEBRUARY, 1944 247 

intelligently conducted, begin a march towards Vienna: with re- 
sults as effective as Sherman's ride from Atlanta to the sea. 

* * * 

Hitherto Himmler has stood for all that was most unscrupulous, 
inhuman, and thorough in ridding the Nazi cosmos of dissidents, 
of Jews, of Poles, of unsubmissive Dutch, Belgians, Norwegians, 
etc., etc. His name was a name of dread, of horror, of terror, and 
widely advertised as such by Nazi propaganda. 

All of a sudden this same propaganda has taken to speaking of 
him as a friendly, affectionate, even tender and most paternal 
person who thinks of nothing but inviting all who suffer, old and 
young, and little ones in particular, to come to him for comfort 
and security. 

It reminds me of the broadside portrait of Mussolini appearing 
years ago in a Sunday issue of the Daily Mail, or was it the Sun- 
day Times? There, instead of the ferocious prizefighter that he 
tried to look like, he was represented as if he were a young grand- 
father leading by hand his tender flock to church on a sweet 
Sunday morning. 

What can be the object of this transfiguration? Has he been 
marked out to succeed Hitler in case the first Fiihrer should dis- 
appear? Are the Nazis preparing to turn on humanitarian tunes 
in their propaganda orchestra, now that force is no longer with 
them? 

It seems that the Nazi authorities have ordered the present 
Duchess of Aosta to quit Florence and to go where she wished, 
provided it was safe from the Allied occupation. She protested 
that she did not want to leave. They have allowed her to remain 
for the present, warning her, however, that at the next summons 
she might not have more than an hour to get ready in. 

Why? The only explanation that occurs to one the explana- 
tion offered by the person who reported this piece of news is 
that the Nazis want to keep firm hold on the baby boy the Duchess 
had some months ago. Consequently, in case of victory they 
would not countenance the resurrected regime of Mussolini and 



248 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

his republic, but restore the monarchy in the person of this infant 
of the Aosta branch. They could then rule Italy through men of 
straw who acted as regents. In that case the dowager Duchess of 
Aosta author, I believe, of many of our woes would at last be 
able to sing Nunc dimittis. She would have seen the ambitions of 
a lifetime, the plotting of many decades, brought safe to port and 
crowned with success. 

# * 

A cyclist fired as he passed at a German soldier and disap- 
peared. The Kommandantur at once ordered that in the ward 
where this happened cycling should be forbidden on pain of be- 
ing shot at. 

The German paper tells of Selbst-Schutz organization for self- 
defense formed by Germans in North Schleswig, the local police 
being unable or unwilling to protect them. I ask against whom? 
Of course, against the native Danes. 

* * * 

Governments last as long as the undertaxed can defend them 
against the overtaxed. 

# # ** 

Continental folk easily fall into saying that the various English 
tribes do not know how to carry on war. This opinion is confirmed 
among Italians by the way the Allies have been campaigning 
here the last eight or nine months. It may be true that they, the 
Anglo-Saxons, do not know how to make war, but how is it that 
they win them? Is it because, as was said by Berthelot or Clemen- 
ceau during the last war, that war had got to be too complicated 
an affair to be successfully conducted by soldiers? Do the Anglo- 
Saxons win wars because they are not soldiers? 

February 2jih 

THE GEKMAN PRESS of the last few days is devoted to Monte 
Cassino and its destruction by those barbarians, those air gang- 
sters, those terrorists, the Anglo-Saxon aviators. They publish dec- 
larations signed by the Abbot and confirmed by Kesselring 



FEBRUARY, 1944 249 

that not a single Nazi soldier was to be found within the monastic 
buildings. But, even if there was not a single German trooper 
within the walls of the enclosure, there must have !>een any num- 
ber of pillboxes and bunkers just outside, Nazi tactics during Al- 
lied air attacks are well known. Ex-Premier Vittorio Emanuele Or- 
lando has seen again and again their armored cars rushing during 
air raids toward St. Peter's in Rome. Here in Florence a canon 
of the cathedral, who lives across the way from it, tells me that 
they hug its walls when the alarm sounds. 

The Nazi newspapers are filled with press quotations from all 
over the world, not only of their friends but neutrals like Span- 
iards, Portuguese, and Swiss, including to my no small amaze- 
ment the Ziircher Zeitung. 

I wonder how many of the writers, let alone readers, of such 
stuff had ever heard of Monte Cassino; and of those who had 
heard of it what percentage had any notion of what the place was 
worth artistically. 

From the artistic point of view, excepting the library and per- 
haps some precious utensils, brought to Rome months ago, there 
was nothing in the mother house of the Benedictine order that re- 
called its founder and its sovereign abbots of the Middle Ages. 
The buildings and decorations were no earlier than of the seven- 
teenth century and in no way remarkable for that period. There 
are in Catholic countries hundreds of structures far more valua- 
ble. What connoisseur would dream of placing it beside the Es- 
corial or Sankt Florian or Melk! 

The outcry is cynical propaganda. It is based on the queer 
axiom that a Mussolini is free to demolish and disfigure whatever 
he pleases in a city like Rome, to make hideous gashes, to bottle 
up spaces, to furbish up and even to forge ruins, and to receive 
nothing but prayer and praise except from a few soreheads; while 
the accidental destruction of this or that bit of ancient building 
by Allied bombardment is a crime against civilization, against 
humanity. 

Mussolini's ideal was Haussmann's Paris. In pursuit of it he 
cleared away the Borgo and made St. Peter's the end of a vista 



250 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



like the one afforded by the tiresome avenue leading up to the 
Paris Opera House. Had his reign lasted another ten years, little 
of Sistine, of Baroque, of Rococo Rome the human Rome 
would have been left standing, nor much of medieval. He might 
have thought twice of making away with the ruins of the Caesars, 
but they also would have gone ultimately and nobody daring to 
pipe a protest. 

There is more reason to deplore destructions at Cologne, and 
elsewhere in the Rhineland, of Romanesque churches. Yet there, 
too, even the most cultured people may be unaware that those 
structures have been as much repaired as the stocking so darned 
and redarned that nothing remained of the original fiber, in this 
case the original masonry. As a matter of fact, most of them, all 
of them, can be rebuilt to look no less old than before present dis- 
asters. 

Far be it from me to deny that architecture owes much of its 
beauty to the caress of time, to what we call patina, which in 
America a few decades ago we appreciated so much that we had 
houses built "weather-beaten.*' I deplore damaging, let alone de- 
stroying, old buildings. Yet let me ask how much of Cologne Ca- 
thedral was old enough to have acquired the weathering, the 
patina. As a matter of fact, the nave and fagade are forgeries of 
the last century. 

It would take a book to say all one might say about the pres- 
ervation of ancient monuments, and the cultured cant and hypoc- 
risy regarding them. I cannot undertake to do it here. I will say 
a word about the attitude of modern aediles toward the problem. 

They act on the notion that a building remains unharmed, is 
brought back to its pristine state, if it is freed from other struc- 
tures choking it or encrusting it in short, if it is scraped down 
and furbished up. Then they isolate it so that you can examine it 
inch by inch, as does the archaeologist. When you protest, they 
grow indignant with, your captiousness. You cannot make them 
understand that there is no such thing as an isolated building 
abstractly itself, like a marble or ivory reduction of the Tower of 
Pisa or of the Taj Mahal standing on a table, that a building is a 



FEBRUARY, 1944 

part of a complex of masses and profiles, deprived of which it 
changes almost as a head or a hand cut off from its body. The 
same aediles will insist that only what interests archaeologists 
for the archaeological reasoning they can follow is of any value, 
and that if they demolish a whole square and preserve everything 
that serves the momentary pursuits of the scholar they have cared 
for every interest of culture, I well remember after the demolition 
in Florence of the Mercato Vecchio, perhaps the most beautiful 
and characteristic product of popular Florentine art a complex 
of bulk and shape in freestone, in marble, in bronze, in glazed 
terra cotta the like of which Europe had never seen when some- 
one had the courage to protest, Count Torrigiani, the syndic, 
indignantly replied that every bit of sculpture and painting of 
artistic value had been scrupulously saved and deposited in a 
museum. 

What I have in mind will be made more intelligible to others 
if I cite an example near to all of us Americans, A century and 
some decades ago the Episcopalian community of New York built 
a house of worship which we know as Trinity Church, It stood 
monarch of all it surveyed, pointing heavenward with no struc- 
ture close at hand or big enough to take away from its impor- 
tance. Go now to look at it. You will have to search. In the hud- 
dled midst of huge skyscrapers, it remains intact but lost, like an 
obelisk at the bottom of a well waiting to be pulled up and placed 
under the open sky. 

Ninety-nine per cent of the good people whose propaganda-fed 
horror of air destruction is vociferous would not as much as think 
of saying a word against the jobbed demolitions of old towns so 
as, in the words of the proud inscription that runs over the arch 
of the life-diminishing piazza which replaces the Florentine Mer- 
cato Vecchio, "to bring it back from old mustiness to the life of 
our day" dallantico squallore alia vita moderna. 

Not only would they not raise their voice to oppose such van- 
dalism but would probably be outraged if others did. Only a little 
while ago the principal Tuscan daily, the Nazione, among various 
charges against Anglo-Saxons, reminded its readers that those 



252 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



barbarians had had the brutal impudence to interfere and prevent 
the good Florentines from pulling down their Ponte Vecchio, old, 
squalid, moldy, and replacing it with an up-to-date bit of engi- 
neering. Worse still, owing to the same barbarian intervention the 
higgledy-piggledy, shapeless, sordid stretch across the Arno be- 
tween tiie last-named bridge and the Ponte S. Trinita had to re- 
main a plague to Florentine eyes, instead of giving place to a cozy 
public garden with consumptive palms, green benches, lanterns 
of the same color, and conveniences named after one of the twelve 
Caesars. 

February 28th 

MONTE GASSING will be rebuilt and with no regard to expense; 
for "money is no object" when Catholic piety is appealed to. 

Instead of erecting an exact copy of the mediocre edifices that 
we have known, why not do something more interesting? I re- 
member how grateful I felt to discover on Mount Tabor in Pales- 
tine that they had put there a close copy of the fifth-century 
Church of Turmanin which had been taken to pieces by progres- 
sive natives for its masonry to serve as material for roads and 
bridges. ( Did I not with my own eyes see an Arab as elegant as 
a Van Dyck carting away stone, brick, and mortar from Mschatta, 
a once-noble palace in the land of Moab? ) I would propose noth- 
ing less than replacing the Monte Cassino of our day with the 
copy of old St. Peter's. We know enough of that venerable and 
noble structure, the church, its forecourts, its terraces, its ap- 
proaches, the interior with its colonnades and transepts and mo- 
saics, to be able to reconstruct it. 

It would look new at first. There is a difference between archi- 
tecture and scenic edifices. The first constructs for the future as 
well as the present; the second, for the brief present only, a pres- 
ent as brief as the duration of exhibition buildings. 

Stop to recall what Louis XIV would have seen of Versailles! 
the palace and terraces raw with freshness and hard with new- 



FEBRUARY, 1944 253 

ness; the trees like matchsticks and looking for all the world like 
one of our young cemeteries. 

After what has been said it will surprise no one, although It 
may shock many, who will stone me for a Philistine, if I venture 
to say that most edifices of the past could be rebuilt with little if 
any loss of their ultimate artistic effect as shape and mass. The 
more so as most temples, churches, and palaces have been meas- 
ured inch by inch, centimeter by centimeter, have had plans and 
elevations and cross sections most accurately recorded, not to 
speak of the water-color and photographic reproductions of the 
chiaroscuro effects. 

Most Romanesque and Renaissance structures could be rebuilt 
and after two or three generations look to all but prying archae- 
ologists as if they were the original edifices. 

The case is different with later Romanesque, with ripe Gothic, 
with Rococo, where much delicate carving and real sculpture 
occurs. These cannot be replaced; for the hand of our stonecutter 
has been so mechanized that it cannot deviate from the geomet- 
rically correct to breathe life into stone animals and plants and 
make them look as if they had flesh and sap and circulating blood. 

To come back to our starting point, nothing of late Roman- 
esque as at Aulnay or on the f aade of Chartres, or of ripe Gothic 
like Rheims or Rococo as found so often in France and in South 
German lands, was to be seen at Monte Cassino or, for that mat- 
ter, in the porch and neighboring part of San Lorenzo in Rome. 

Now that, so carefree, I have let myself go in a rollicking mood, 
I want to confess to one of my many cherished dreams. 

It regards San Marco in Venice. 

Under irresistible Gothic influence, the soft, shadowy effect of 
what certainly was the Byzantine interior was dissipated by the 
huge rose windows to the west and to the south. I would have 
these gashes that flood the basilica with glaring light bricked up> 
leaving only smallish, narrow, arched openings. 

Inside as well as in the narthex and north corridor, I would re- 
move all mosaics later than the end of the fourteenth century. 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Byzantine mosaic confined itself to accentuating ribs and inter- 
vals of structure with architecturally appropriate figures. It left 
narrative compositions to the darker and otherwise less conspicu- 
ous parts of walls or chapels. Even the arrangement severely 
followed the verticals of the structure. 

Nothing can be less suitable to the wall spaces of San Marco 
than narrative compositions like those of a Campagnola or a 
Titian, and least of all the sprawling designs of a Tintoretto. As 
decoration they are scarcely better than modern newspaper illus- 
trations stuck onto walls. 

I would remove them and replace them with an undifferenti- 
ated gold ground, than which nothing is more impressive and 
more transfiguring. 

As for the outside of S. Marco, the later ribbons and laces do 
not disturb me, but the hideously inappropriate recent mosaic 
over the central door and the only less evil older ones in the lu- 
nettes above I would not tolerate. Why, seeing that happily Gen- 
tile Bellini in the masterpiece representing the Corpus Domini 
procession that has San Marco for background has reproduced 
the original mosaics, still intact toward 1500, in accurate detail 
why would it not be possible to copy them? As for the central 
lunette, I would cover it with various marbles that took the color 
and tone of the fagade as a whole. 

March 1st 

RUMORS FROM ROME say that the Nazis mean to defend it with 
might and main, that the Pope expects to be carried off to Ger- 
many, and that notice has been served to the refugees in the Vati- 
can that their safety can no longer be guaranteed, for the Ger- 
mans would not respect the right of asylum. I can believe none 
of this and yet it is possible. The Nazi propaganda machine can 
undertake to put even the kidnaping of a Pope in a light that will 
sanctify their conduct in the eyes of their hypnotized sympathiz- 
ers, particularly of those fervently devoted Papalists, the Spanish 
pro-Germans. 



MARCH, 1944 255 



March 2d 

RECKLESS BELIEVERS in equality tell us that seeming "inferi- 
ority" is a matter of chance, of circumstance, of opportunity, etc., 
etc., and not of essential physiological formation. The so-called 
"inferiors" will catch up with us if with might and main we help 
them, and assuming a large assumption that they will let 
themselves be helped. 

What of us in the meantime? Shall we stand still, waiting for 
the others to catch up? Surely not. We go forward or disappear, 
or as good as disappear. Between those who keep going forward 
and those who are catching up, there still remains an interval. I 
will not take as examples the African blacks; for they have but 
lately begun to benefit from the blessing of our civilization. Let 
us rather take the North Germans, free from any taint of "Ne- 
groid" Mediterranean blood. For well over a thousand years they 
have been submitted to strong Mediterranean influence in the 
shape of Christianity and humanism. Have they caught up yet? 

March 4th 

I CANNOT CONSULT the big Oxford dictionary to ascertain when 
the word "international" was first used. I recall hearing it as an 
epithet for activities of a praiseworthy nature, "international so- 
ciety" for this, "international organization" for that, all meant to 
bring people together in friendship and to promote humanitarian 
ideals. 

Suddenly, under the pressure of anti-Dreyfus propaganda, it 
began in France to be a term of abuse and as such spread not only 
to Latin countries but to a certain extent to Germany, Scandina- 
via, and even England and America. To be internationally 
minded was to be a deracine, a sans-patrie with no roots any- 
where, without a country, a danger to the community, a Jew, a 
Nihilist, etc., etc. 

At the same moment, by the way, for the first time in human 



2$6 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

history the word "intellectual," hitherto a term of praise, became 
one of reproach, of contempt even, as leading to "international- 
mindedness." A Montesquieu in the middle of the eighteenth 
century could say that God had made him a human being and 
politics alone had made him a Frenchman. A Goldsmith at the 
same time could write The Citizen of the World. A Goethe re- 
mained international-minded to the end and after Jena regarded 
without dread the possibility that the Germans might be scat- 
tered like the Jews among the nations. 

As a matter of fact, internationalism characterizes the horizon- 
tal as distinct from the vertical groupings of society. 

The vertical groupings are of the clan, the tribe, the nation. 
Just now the last are the only ones to count, and standing alone, 
perhaps as mere survivors, they risk being overwhelmed by the 
horizontal tendencies of society. 

The horizontal tendencies manifest themselves with increasing 
force in every activity and every association except the political 
ones. 

Royalty constitutes an "international" ready to take employ- 
ment with any country that still believes in its usefulness. High 
society, less and less designated nowadays as "good society," 
recognizes its own across frontiers, linguistic barriers, and even 
color in the case of the yellow peoples. Officers of army and navy 
are as ready to fraternize, act for common interests, and enjoy 
common gossip as to be up and at each other's throats the mo- 
ment the vertical powers unleash them. Great financial and in- 
dustrial interests are notoriously hostile to barriers, lose no chance 
and neglect no means to leap over them. One need scarcely add 
that but for personal envies and jealousies, science, learning, art, 
literature, music, theater, and, most obviously, the radio and the 
cinema ignore politics, that is to say vertical divisions, except 
when they are engaged or prostituted in their service. The most 
rabid nationalisms sympathize if they do not join hands with like- 
minded groups in countries hostile to their own, and in a latent 
state of war with it. And I have nearly forgotten to name the most 



MARCH, 1944 

horizontal of entities, the most international of institutions, the 
all-pervasive Roman Catholic Church. 

But fanaticism, like misery, makes strange bedfellows; and 
nationalism, when it found voice with a theology, mythology, 
and ethics all armed in the France of fifty years ago, tried hard 
and for a time succeeded in using the French religious orders and 
clergy to fight internationalism in one of its least aggressive 
phases, in the shape of those scapegoats for economic sins called 
Jews. Of this later. 

Clearly what those who succeeded in turning the epithets ^in- 
ternational" and "intellectual" from terms of praise to expletives of 
vituperation had in mind was a blind horror of these qualities 
when found in individuals who put them at the service not of the 
heraldic, the possessive, the institutional and governing classes, 
but of the unsatisfied who were clamoring for a seat at the ban- 
quet of life, or in those terrible individuals who, in ripe years, had 
not got over asking "why" and saying "I want to know." You could 
defend tooth and nail the German army, the British House of 
Lords, and the French Academy as Paul Bourget used to do with 
no small intellectual skill; you could sing the praises of the Jesuits, 
Redemptionists, and similar associations; you could be as clever 
defenders of "international law and order" as Joseph de Maistre 
and in our own day Brunetiere, Jules Lemaitre, and other powers, 
thrones, potentates, and prophets of the French Academy and 
French press, and nobody would reproach you with being an "in- 
tellectual" or an "internationalist." If, however, you said a word in 
favor of those anti- Jesuits, the Latin freemasons, or in defense of 
socialism, of the "lower orders" in general, of oppressed and mas- 
sacred Armenians, then you were an "intellectual," an "interna- 
tionalist," to be boycotted, to "have your life made difficult" to 
use the hallowed phrase of Mussolini, for years the idol, the "de- 
fender of the Faith" of the upper social ranks everywhere. 

It is a question whether anti-Semitism was at the bottom of the 
anti-Dreyfus movement in France or only incidental to it. But it 
opened the sluices to a pent-up hatred of the Jews that took one 



258 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

by surprise. It was not, as in other countries, confined to humble 
shopkeepers and an occasional swell or paradox-monger, but 
raged among the gentry high and low, and their sons in the army; 
was voiced by most Academicians and aspirants to the Academy; 
was served by gifted caricaturists and of course music-hall singers. 
In fact, the Dreyfus affair practically turned into a Jewish affair. 

As I am not writing reminiscences, I shall not jot down what I 
could call to mind of my experiences during that passionate pe- 
riod of French history when Frenchmen were divided into two 
camps as opposed as any in the past, and only saved from civil 
war by the conditions of society and government at the moment. 

All honor to France that the struggle ended in favor of hu- 
manism and that the blind reactionary forces that elsewhere in 
Spain, for instance would have led to their complete victory 
were almost wholly laid low and silenced. It took the bestial 
bludgeoning that France received in June, 1940, to bring to the 
fore, not to power nor to govern, but to execute the mad Nazi 
will and to realize the measures against liberals, intellectuals, in- 
ternationalists, all more or less qualified as "J ews >" ^at the anti- 
Dreyfusards wanted to actuate fifty years ago. But the France 
where this could happen has fallen lower than ever before in its 
history as an organized nation, in enjoyment of its present fron- 
tiers; even lower than when Jeanne d'Arc came to save it after a 
similar collapse five hundred years ago. 

March 6th 

THE ALLIES have stopped sending war materials and other sup- 
plies to the Turks. The Allies are at long last tired of Turkish 
hesitation to join their dance. 

Why should the Turks join it? What could the Allies offer them 
to make it worth their while to partake in a contest which, who- 
ever won, bode them no good? They are still an army with a peo- 
ple to support it, and keenly appreciate another people given over 
to supporting an army, as do the Germans. They put no trust in 
navies and airplanes, being duffers in both these ultramodern 



MARCH, 1944 259 

services. Besides, why should they want to see Germany's power 
destroyed? They do not share our indignation and our humani- 
tarianism, having acted before and being ready to act again like 
the Nazis at their worst. For them the diminution of Germany 
spells increase of power and authority to the contiguous, all-pow- 
erful, hereditary enemy Russia. 

What have the Allies had to offer the Turks to induce them, 
despite sympathy for Germany in its militaristic Nazi phases, to 
join in its destruction? It does not seem that they want more ter- 
ritory, in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Arabia, or in any part of the far- 
flung Ottoman Empire of a hundred years ago. They seem to be 
interested only in holding tight to Asia Minor and its coasts. 

From a military point of view that Turks can understand, the 
only appreciable bait the Allies could have held out to them were 
the islands that hug their shores and approaches, Lemnos, Lesbos, 
Chios, Samos, Cos, Rhodes. But these are overwhelmingly Greek 
in population, and Allied public opinion would not tolerate their 
being allocated to them. 

So this Turk, so sympathetic to the English as a "Gentleman" 
has played off the Anglo-Saxons against the Germans, the latter 
against the former, and put the war to profit. If only Italy had had 
"realistic politicians" to rule it, neutral Italy too would have made 
a good thing out of this shindy, and still better, Italy would have 
been the center for everything required by civilized life, would 
have been courted by everybody, would have won credit and au- 
thority as a real great power and not the sham one she has been. 

a a # 

The Nazi press tells of six thousand Japanese, four thousand 
military and two thousand civilians, in an island of the Pacific 
having committed suicide rather than surrender to Americans, I 
cannot share in the admiration of such incandescent patriotism. 

It is running amok against one's self in good Malay fashion. 
For one must not forget that the backbone of Japan is Malay, and 
that Malay savagery and ferocity still smolders there under a thin 
coating of Chinese culture and a thinner coating of Western civi- 
lization. 



260 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Then you believe in the persistence through the ages of racial 
characteristics?" someone will ask. Yes, I do when the race has oc- 
cupied the same territory for many centuries, submitted other 
ethnic elements to its unquestioned will, and for a thousand years 
remained in almost airtight seclusion. That is the case with the 
Japanese but, for instance, not with the Jews, scattered over the 
face of the earth, suffering, despite every possible defense, all 
kinds of physical infiltrations as well as moral and intellectual in- 
fluences and taking part in the life of other communities, as the 
Japanese until recently did not. 

This collective suicide, so highly praised by German propa- 
ganda, must rouse the envy of the Nazi leaders. They too would 
liked to reduce religion to patriotism and to a faith that, if it could 
not move mountains, could inspire self-immolation. For an opera- 
tive religion is a faith for which one is as ready to die as to live. 

Our civilization must dread such religions, such ages of faith, 
particularly as the totalitarian nations do not hide but glory in 
proclaiming, almost as the Japanese do, that the spirit of the na- 
tion is its God and that they mean to treat other peoples as ma- 
nure, as drudges, as raw material for exploitation. 

March jth 

MUCH SOCIETY TALK, whether of the drawing room, the table, 
the club, or the caf6, satisfies a physical need that we share with 
our chattering anthropoid forerunners in remote ages. Heard at 
a distance, it is confused, unintelligible, and encourages thought- 
ful children to expect that if only they could come close enough 
to a cackle of geese they would understand it, as they do human 
beings when near enough. 

Several dialogues going on in my presence, each regardless of 
the other, either deafen me with their clamor or annoy me because 
I overhear snatches of talk sufficiently interesting to prevent my 
giving entire attention to my interlocutor. I enjoy conversation 
as much as ever, provided it is only between two persons, the 
others listening until their turn comes. Let me add that I am as 



MARCH, 1944 26l 

ready to listen as to speak. I do not, as I did no doubt in tlie past, 
use the other person's talk as a springboard for my own. 

The younger one is, the more the interlocutor is a mere incentive. 
So eager are young and youngish people to find utterance and be 
heard that they scarcely care what they say, so long as it satisfies 
two demands of their nature, namely, talking and self-assertion. 
From the moment they have blurted out something, they will 
argue till they have the last word regardless of sense, as when 
Hogg and Shelley quarreled over Goethe, tooth and nail, and 
ended by confessing that neither of them had read a word of him. 

So much of the talk I hear, or overhear, silences me. At my age 
I have no physical exuberance forcing me to jump up and take 
part in a conversation which, I know, is not intended either to 
inform or to enlighten, but merely to enable one to let off steam, 
to salivate intoxicatingly, and to enjoy one's own wit and its effect 
on others. 

So I sit silent and hear all sorts of things said, and statements 
made that I know are inexact, or false, or absurd, and I feel no 
itch to play the sage and to try to put matters straight. 

Young and youngish people seldom want that. They want to 
exercise their own functions, their own powers, and to use us 
elders as supply stores for facts, anecdotes, ideas even. And not 
infrequently, these same facts and ideas, after a few days, will be 
served up to us as discoveries we failed to make. 

With writing it is not quite the same. When young, you were 
so charged to the muzzle with things you wanted to say that say 
them you must. Later you discover that not only your happy 
thoughts your Einfdlle but even your more serious trains of 
meditation and reflection have been anticipated again and again, 
numberless times. If you had known this when about to explode 
into print with your own ideas, naively believing that they were 
as new and fresh as the dawn of creation, your animal spirits 
might have got too damped, and kept you from utterance. Within 
a year of eighty, my present age, one seldom is carried away by 
the conceit that one has a communication to make or a message 
to give not heard of before. In a sense this is a mistake. True, the 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

fundamental ideas are few, long recognized, and rarely subject 
to serious mutation. Yet the way a person with the experience, 
reading, and the thought of a lifetime presents an idea may make 
it more palatable, more assimilable to younger contemporaries 
than previous, and perhaps more penetrating, versions of the same 
idea. 

In writing there is thus no excuse for stopping because of age. 
In talk the physical facts are so much against us that one sym- 
pathizes with Walt Whitman, who, when sitting out on the piazza 
and invited to join the chat of young people indoors, said: "No, 
dearie, I love to hear your laughter, but I do not care for your 
talk." 

So much for me and others nearly as aged. Something similar 
happens to human societies as wholes. Our society of today has 
taken in, and assimilated, what it could grasp and understand of 
a given train of thought: for instance, what the propagators and 
opponents of nineteenth-century enlightenment and liberalism 
had to say. It transpires that, like young people, the crowd of to- 
day has snatched only at the crude, brutal, paradoxical ideas of 
the last century, reduced to catchwords that the Mussolinis, the 
Hitlers, the Rosenbergs enounce with loud-speakers and million- 
mouthed oratory. Gobineau misunderstood by uneducated per- 
sons who have never had a volume of Gobineau in their hands; 
Darwin misunderstood by individuals who knew him by hearsay 
only, or through premasticated popular articles; Nietzsche mis- 
understood and reduced to the one word "Superman," furnish the 
unanswerable appeal to demagogy. There was no stemming such 
cataracts of verbosity and its effects on the average lord of a vote, 
on the plebiscites based on unmitigated universal suffrage. Those 
who know better are reduced to silence. 

Nineteenth-century liberalism appealed to trained, instructed, 
well-informed reason, and naturally could not thrive in countries 
where the majority of voters were not politically fit to hear, let 
alone listen to and understand, such a summons. Hence its eclipse 
until the day when again the competent few will take govern- 
ment into their hands and educate the many to an appreciation of 



MARCH, 1944 263 

what politics means, what obligations it imposes, and how it is to 
be conducted. 

Nineteenth-century liberalism had not emancipated itself 
enough from eighteenth-century rationalism and illuminism. It 
failed to take account of original sin, that is to say the animal, the 
wild beast still caged in man and pawing his mind. That was the 
chief if not the only error of nineteenth-century liberalism. It 
might ask with Briinnhilde when against orders she tried to spare 
Sieglinde and Siegmund from the wrath of Fricka: "War es so 
schmahlich, was ich verbrach" "Was it so mean, what I have 
done then." 

My sympathies go out to Briinnhilde even if it led to her being 
put to sleep for twenty years, as indeed liberalism has been for as 
many and more years. Its awakening is sure to come, and for so 
long as man remains human, and not merely the cleverest of the 
anthropoids, he will return to reason after wallowing first voluptu- 
ously, and then miserably, in the mire of the irrational, and in the 
slaughterhouses of violence. 

March gth 

THERE is SNEERING at Allied bombardments and how seldom 
they hit a bridge or any other aid to traffic, and how wicked it is to 
go on pelting at Prato and Ponte a Sieve. 

Florentines are atavistically ungrateful, and factiousness stupe- 
fies them, or they would realize that the Allies want to prevent the 
Germans from sending by rail men and armaments to attack them. 
They keep on bombarding Prato and Ponte a Sieve, two important 
points to north and to south of Florence itself. The two or three 
raids on Florence that have done some slight damage, and cost 
some few human lives, have not touched the heart of the town 
and have been peripheral if not merely accidental 

Insistent reports din my ears with descriptions of what Allied 
bombing has done to towns like Pistoia, Arezzo, Pisa, not to speak 
of Bologna and Milan. I find it hard to believe them. Take the case 
of Pistoia. I have been assured that it is in total ruin, nothing 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

left of the great square with its cathedral and frowning medieval 
buildings. Well, there happens to be a servant here whose home 
is near Pistoia and who has just come from there. She reports that, 
excepting what was hit near the station, everything is intact, par- 
ticularly the great square. On the other hand, a person as respon- 
sible as a university professor of art history should be, goes about 
saying that there is nothing left of Arezzo. If that was the case, 
how is it that the Piero della Francescas in the Church of San 
Francesco, so near the station, have suffered no damage, nor the 
scarcely less important sculptures on the faade of the Pieve, nor 
the cathedral? As for Bologna, one would suppose that its brick 
chimneys, like leaning towers, would be the first to fall under 
heavy bombardment, but I gather they lean towards each other as 
for centuries past. Pisa likewise is said to be in ruins and as good 
as deserted, yet excepting its flimsily constructed Campo Santo 
none of its artistically valuable buildings seems to have been 
greatly affected. 

I am eager to know what actually is the case and how far these 
destructions have gone; whether intentional, as the Fascist-minded 
insist, or unhappy accidents, as the rest of us think. As soon as I 
am free and have a car, I mean to visit the towns above mentioned, 
see what really happened, and draw up a detailed report. My ex- 
pectation is that much will have been lost but nothing like what 
the Fascists claim. 

March loth 

OVERPRODUCTION. Ever since I can remember Chicago has 
dreaded a bumper grain crop, sure to bring down the price of 
wheat and to ruin not only speculators but hard-working farmers 
as well. In most recent years our Southern states have harvested 
millions of bales of cotton that they have burned either because 
they could sell them only at figures so low that they might cheapen 
prices for years to come or else not at all. Similar calculations led 
Brazil to burn millions of tons of coffee. 
In the last hundred and more years the human crop in Europe- 



MARCH, 1944 ^65 

American acres has been so abundant that for much of it, and of 
good quality at that, no market could be found. Worst of all, this 
was not a passive crop like cotton or wheat, coffee or tobacco, but 
one bursting with energies which, pent up too long, might fer- 
ment and spoil it altogether. Nature, Providence, the economic 
process, or by what other names we invoke the powers whose do- 
mestic animals we seem to be, had to find a way of decimating the 
herds and of getting rid of the millions of individuals it could not 
market. Ancient methods of keeping down the human crop 
namely, pestilence, the obligatory celibacy of the nunnery, mon- 
astery, and clergy, the toll of a perpetual petty state of warfare, 
the insecurity of life had almost ceased to operate. Other ways 
had to be found. They were discovered in more and more modern- 
ized warfare with its ever-increasing wholesale slaughter. 

Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" celebrates an in- 
stance of such slaughter, and the sensitive human poet concludes 
that "someone had blundered." That someone did not blunder. He 
was a domestic animal obeying the invisible masters of our species 
and herd. 

The Crimean War was on a small scale. Ours of the Secession, 
lasting four whole years and ending only after the South had been 
devastated by generals acting on the principle that you should 
leave the enemy nothing but eyes to weep with, marked a definite 
advance in ridding peoples of their unmarketable, that is to say 
unemployable, members. 

Parenthetically one may ask: How one can think of unmarket- 
able members of a society claiming a territory so vast as in 1861 
was already the United States of America. In the first place this 
huge domain was thinly settled west of the Alleghenies, Beyond 
the Mississippi it was only beginning to be occupied. The whites 
of the South were not over many. Only in the New England states, 
marching with southeastern New York, was the population at all 
dense. Schenectady, not a hundred miles to the north of New York 
City, little before this date, as we know from W. J. Stillman's auto- 
biography, was a border town with redskins in and out as familiar 
figures. 



266 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

If the land was so unexploited how can one think of its being 
unable to market, that is to say to employ, its entire population? I 
need not remind readers, most of them much better economists 
than I am, that a nomad civilization can employ perhaps one per- 
son to a square mile, while an intensive society like Belgium can 
make use of hundreds in the same area. 

To return to the evolution of the slaughtering establishment by 
which superfluous individuals are eliminated, we cannot praise 
Sadowa or Sedan for effectiveness. They incurred relatively small 
loss of life. The dire necessity of diminishing population and using 
up energies increased alarmingly between Sedan and the Marne. 
Meanwhile the instruments of destruction had not been idle. Far 
more shattering explosives had been invented; the range of artil- 
lery had been greatly increased, as witness the Big Bertha; the air 
war was trying its doves' wings, and the submarine became a 
great power. The expenditure of energy was enormous. Individu- 
als were killed by the million. Before the First World War was 
over the countries engaged began to boast of the quantity of lives 
each had lost; and I was assured that one government, at least, de- 
liberately exposed its troops to certain slaughter so as to be able 
to enlarge claims based on the number of its dead. 

And yet the last war, the First World War, was child's play 
compared with the one of which we are now enjoying the well- 
advanced fifth year. The Nazi press calculates the Russians killed 
as mounting up to fifteen millions. It is no doubt grossly and de- 
liberately exaggerated. Assuming it to be exact, then surely the 
German mortality cannot be less than half that quantity. Perhaps 
five million dead the war is not over may not be far out of the 
actual figures. Compared with these, the dead of the Anglo-Saxons 
are relatively few, yet still a respectable amount. 

This war is the first in which all the energies, positively all, with- 
out exception, are being employed by the imperceptible powers 
that breed us and herd us in expending the greatest output of en- 
ergy that can be summoned to rid us of the greatest number of in- 
dividuals. As the war is proceeding, more and ever more are taken 
over from productive to destructive occupations. As "nature" 



MARCH, 1Q44 267 

works by overwhelming excess, the loss of life, the waste of en- 
ergy accruing before the war and its aftereffects of disease and 
listless confusion are over, will go beyond, the original purpose 
of destroying unmarketable individuals and their irrepressible ac- 
tivities. The same something has so constituted mankind that it 
behaves like the child who enjoys building a sand castle and 
equally enjoys kicking it over and trampling it down. 

The word "Moloch" still gives a shiver to us who were brought 
up on the Bible and who at the same time have some acquaint- 
ance with Carthaginian history. Yet it only means "King," Moloch 
was the King of the Semitic city to whom, in moments of great 
distress, babes were sacrificed as burnt offerings, A cruel and 
wicked practice, surely. 

But wait a moment! How many do you suppose were the dear 
innocents thus devoured by the superstition of a relatively primi- 
tive, only partially civilized, and certainly not Christianized com- 
munity? Let us say ten, twenty, forty, sixty, and, at most in mo- 
ments of deepest distress and utter hopelessness, a hundred at a 
time. Bear in mind, however, that much as babes and sucklings 
may touch a mother s heart, they were creatures in whom society 
as yet had invested little by way of nurture, culture, and training. 

And we? Today? What do we do to propitiate and satisfy and 
satiate our Moloch, our King of the City, our indwelling spirit of 
the race, of the people, of the nation; when with our voices, our 
radios, our loud-speakers, he screams and shouts and yells for ag- 
grandizement, for space in which to act, for monopoly, for the 
slaughter of heretics within, and the massacres of aU gentiles 
whether still resisting or already submitted? 

We sacrifice to him as holocausts our youth, our manhood, spar- 
ing old age only because it is not to his liking. We send our young 
women and mothers into fields and factories. Every able-bodied 
person, regardless of nature or sex, is put to preparing Moloch's 
fiery furnaces or to offering victims to his godhead. And how in- 
finitesimal is the number of victims sacrificed by Sidonians, Tyri- 
ans, and Carthaginians as compared with the millions upon mil- 
lions that nowadays Teutons and Anglo-Saxons, Latins and Slavs 



#68 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

offer up to their respective Molochs and Baals, Kings and Lords 
of the State! 

The Semites of old were more true to themselves, more genuine 
than we are today. They made no bones about it and talked no 
nonsense. Their Moloch was no God of Love, no well-wisher of 
his people. They were his slaves, his chattels, and when they 
served him well, obeying his behests, singing his praises night and 
day without interruption and feeding him with an abundance of 
blood and fat, he did them no harm, nor prevented nature from 
producing plentiful crops, both vegetable and animal, including 
man-fruit, human children. But woe to his worshipers if they dis- 
pleased him in word or deed no matter how unintended, how in- 
nocent. He addressed them in the only language at his command: 
pestilence, plague, and famine. The Sidonian understood, and 
paid his dismal tribute to the "furnace blue." 

We send off our millions to our Molochs, pretending that we are 
noble, heroic, self-sacrificing, ready to die for the good of human- 
ity, for a higher civilization, for the love of our kind. The real rea- 
sons are not those. They remain either deliberately hidden from 
view by propaganda or buried too deep in human nature to rise 
to the awareness of the average patriot. 

March 12th 

SEVERAL DAYS AGO I wrote that the Allies were bombing Prato 
and Ponte a Sieve to the north and south so as to spare Florence. 
Yesterday forenoon Florence itself was bombed. The bursting of 
the shells was deafening and made everything tremble. It sounded 
as if vertically overhead, and directed at one's person. 

I was disappointed and distressed, for I had hoped that Flor- 
ence would be spared. A gentleman who with me was watching 
the spectacle said he could not understand why the Allies had al- 
lowed the Germans so long to use the town as an accumulating 
and distributing center, not so much for railway as for road traffic, 
without doing anything to stop it. The Germans, he thought, were 
taking advantage of Allied respect for Florence, thereby recogniz- 



MARCH, IQ44 29 

ing that their enemies aimed only at military objectives and not, 
as the Axis propaganda pretends, at terrorizing and destroying. 

Later in the day the B.B.C. spoke of what had been done over 
Florence and why, offering reasons identical with those given by 
my Italian friend. 

Meanwhile I remained agitated and nervous with fear of what 
might have happened to Santa Maria Novella and other noble 
buildings in the vicinity of the railway station. Happily, no edifice 
of the least historical importance has been hit. The B.B.C. said the 
Allies had sent their most expert bombers, noted for their accurate 
aim. As a matter of fact, they spared no skill in making sure that 
no building of architectural value was harmed. 

Which does not mean that there were no human victims. Nor 
can I understand why, on leaving, they let fall bombs, as animals 
their droppings. Such bombs seem to have hit hospitals and houses 
at San Domenico, and done harm to life and limb. 

March i6th 

INDIGNATION of spectro-Fascist press with the Pope, for not ful- 
minating against Anglo-Saxon bombardments of Monte Cassino, 
Castel Gandolfo, and Rome itself. The leader writer of Farinaccf s 
paper, probably the ex-seminarist and anti-Semite Church Father 
Preziosi, complained that although the Primate of England spoke 
out, as likewise the Primate of France, the Primate of Italy did 
not. No one should know better than Preziosi that the Holy Father 
is not the Primate of Italy any more than Marcus Aurelius was the 
Emperor of Italy. The Pope, it is true, is Bishop of Rome, but not 
Archbishop of Italy. If he is Archbishop, it is of the orbis terrarum, 
and an ex-seminarist and ex-priest knows that well. He is in bad 
faith, as are most intelligent and educated Axis propagandists. 

Which reminds me that Virginio Gayda died the day before 
yesterday, killed, it was reported, by an Allied bomb. I first read 
him at the beginning of the last war, in touching appeals to liber- 
ate Italians from the oppressive, stifling, asphyxiating Austrian 
rule. Not so many years later, ten years at most, he became the 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

chief defender of Fascist imperialism and ended by being the 
mouthpiece or rather the pen of Mussolini. A British diplomat as- 
sured me that Gayda used to weep on his shoulders, and swear he 
did not believe a word he had to write, and that he was in indig- 
nant despair at having to do so. 

Hullabaloo over bomb that fell plumb on the Mantegna chapel 
of the Eremitani at Padua. Few can regret their destruction more 
than I do, and I hope that early reports are exaggerated for propa- 
ganda purposes. But even if it is a fact I would not weep my eyes 
out. They were not oversuitable for the space they covered and 
their coloring was not harmonious. The best in them can be en- 
joyed in the highly satisfactory photographs of them that now 
exist, with an abundance of detail. 

How many of those who now put on sackcloth and ashes for the 
destruction of the Eremitani Mantegnas have as much as heard 
what happened in Rome at the beginning of the last century. 
There then reigned a saintly Pope, Pius VII. He had the laudable 
idea of increasing the Vatican museum by adding a gallery known 
ever since by the name of his family, Chiaramonti. To procure 
ground for this gallery a Quattrocento chapel had to be demol- 
ished, and the interior of this chapel was frescoed over with com- 
positions by Mantegna in his maturest years. 

No voice was heard, no word of protest raised against this van- 
dalism. Drawings after the frescoes might have been made, if 
fragments could not be preserved, as might have been done had 
anybody cared. Manifestly, nobody gave a thought to flinging to 
oblivion an important series of paintings by one of the few great- 
est Italian artists. 

Not so many months ago Mussolini pronounced that he pre- 
ferred museums crowded with flags taken from the enemy to any 
filled with masterpieces of art. 

March i?th 

I HAVE A TASTE for reactionary and illiberal literature, provided 
it is well argued. Not only do I enjoy the writings of a Joseph de 



MARCH, 1944 271 

Maistre, a Gentz, a Barbey d'Aurevilly, a L6on Bloy, a Maurice 
Barres, but the documents and letters of a Metternich and a Bis- 
marck. Never has anything so backward as the Memorandum of 
Solaro della Margherita reached me before. 

For twelve full years he ruled the dominions of His Sardinian 
Majesty, and the Memorandum is his account of it. 

He approved the support given by his King, Carlo Alberto, to 
the comic Duchesse de Berry and, when himself in power, encour- 
aged the Carlist effort in Spain. He wanted to interfere in favor 
of the Sonderbund a reactionary secession movement in Switz- 
erland, and praised Nicholas of Russia for helping to suppress the 
Hungarian rebellion. He would have liked to help Francis Joseph 
in trying to put an end to revolutionary activities in Lombardy. 

He abhorred aspirations toward Italian unity, which he sus- 
pected of being less a national than a liberal movement subversive 
of law and order, of rank and privilege, and, worst of all, of the 
Church in all its manifestations and activities. He would not have 
kindergartens because they were the invention, he thought, of a 
Protestant named Owen. He hated agricultural societies. In the 
first place what did they know and what could they do that was 
not known and done already, seeing it was a pursuit that went 
back to Adam? Then he smelt liberalism behind these idyllic pre- 
texts. He went so far as to disapprove of liberal Churchmen, in- 
cluding, of course, the tendencies of the new Pope, Pius IX. In 
short, he did his best to restore and perpetuate a seventeenth- 
century Baroque society and government, with the Church su- 
preme and the gentry prospering under its beams and happy in 
the radiance of their sovereign. 

Internationally, apart from interfering when feasible in favor 
of reaction, his two ideas were both unfortunately inherited by 
united Italy, namely, to stickle for her dignity and to add to her 
territory. He confesses that these have been the main pillars of 
Piedmontese policy and they have gone on dictating Italian policy 
to our present day, at what cost and with what results we can now 
judge. He goes so far as to suggest that his King, Carlo Alberto, 
who dismissed him for his illiberalism, was as little liberal as him- 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

self. The King was playing with Italian yearning for liberty be- 
cause he meant to use it to get the better of Austria. When this 
was achieved, he would divide the peninsula between himself and 
the Pope, throw off the mask, and return to principles and policies 
of the good old times, before the French Revolution of accursed 
memory. 

Solaro della Margherita's critical sense may be gauged by his 
belief that the Talmud teaches ritual murder, of course not obeyed 
by civilized Western Jews, but still practiced in the Near East, as 
instanced by their murder of a Capuchin missionary in Damascus. 

This was the man who was allowed to rule Piedmont before 
Italy threw herself into its arms, as, in our day, into the embrace 
of Fascism. 

Talking of reactionary mentalities, I was told lately that the dis- 
possessed Italian dynasties not only hankered to return but were 
by no means without hope of taking up their thrones again. They 
live with Astolfo's brains in the moon. With the King of Sardinia, 
who outlived the Revolution and the Napoleonic period, they have 
no language but the cry of "ottant" otf " that is to say, 1788. 

March i8th 

THE GERMANS have given up the pretense that they were treat- 
ing Florence as an open city, and are said to be putting back air 
defense at every suitable eminence around the town. 

Florence was surrounded by Mussolini with autocentri, air- 
fields, and barracks, some of the last rivaling Mauretanian Lambe- 
sis in imposing grandeur. Now they are crowded with German 
troops, as are schoolhouses and other public buildings, while no 
room in any house in the suburbs or environs is left unrequisi- 
tioned by the Nazis. In short, Florence is now the distributing 
center of men and ammunition for the whole of central Italy. And 
yet they have the impudence to call it an "open city/' 

A hat factory belonging to a friend some twenty miles from 
here has had orders to use up all its reserves of raw material to the 
last scrap for hats to be sent to Germany. The director, who had 



MARCH, 1944 273 

to deal with the German officials, asked them to lunch and, having 
put them in good humor with food and drink, ventured to say that 
what they were doing to his establishment was utter spoliation. 
They did not deny it, but seeing he had been so nice they would 
recommend him for some sort of repayment. < With the money re- 
ceived, you may be able to procure fresh stock, and if luck is on 
your side, you may get away with it before we are in a position to 
return and requisition it once again." How much I prefer the Ger- 
man who says "There it is" to the propagandist who says "It is 
not"! 



March igth 

REFORM, reform, reform institutions, constitutions, laws, de- 
crees. None that can be enacted will help much. Our fundamental 
difficulties are not political but anthropological, and even zoologi- 
cal. They spring from the depths of human nature, of animal na- 
ture. Their sinks are not easily drained, scoured of their bestiality, 
and made fit for humanity. Much can and will be done. Much can 
and will be done, but it will take centuries, not months or even 
years. 

The remedy to our afflictions lies outside the range of "practical 
politics" and, as its application can in no way profit the ephemeral 
politician, is not likely to be taken up by him, unless he is at the 
same time a lover of mankind, ready to sacrifice himself to the im- 
provement of their dense, confused, and devil-driven minds. 

Vichy France, assuming it to be sincere, wants to re-educate its 
subjects, and realizing that the process must be retarded to assure 
its genuineness, has decreed that Spanish shall be first, and for 
most the only, foreign language taught to French youth. 

The expression "ephemeral politician" makes me think of D'An- 
nunzio, the verbal Garibaldi who spoke as if he expected to con- 
quer with catchwords and tinkling cymbals, as the other did with 
derring-do. His words were taken out of his mouth by Mussolini, 
who fed them to his followers, and with these verbosities expected 
to beat England and America when he challenged them to war. 



$74 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The closest parallel to D'Annunzio that France in my time 
could offer was Maurice Barr&s. The distance between them was 
perhaps more national than individual. Barres had incomparably 
greater originality as a writer, a wider horizon, a more penetrating 
depth, and to my palate greater beauty of language. Moreover, he 
was an active journalist and politician. Yet not even remotely did 
he dominate France as D'Annunzio did Italy a land seemingly 
as subject to the cult of the hero, the savior, the Duce, as France 
in the main is opposed to it. 

March 2^d 

YESTERDAY morning five "deserters," that is to say young men 
who had not answered the call to the levy, were executed. It 
seems to have been a hideous affair. In vain General Adami Rossi, 
head of the regular army here, was entreated to commute the sen- 
tence. He ordered recruits of the regiment to which these victims 
should have belonged to act as a firing squad. Whether they did 
not want to aim or aimed badly, the poor victims were an hour 
being murdered. 

This same General Adami Rossi at Siena had similar deserters 
tried in the great square while he smoked cigarettes and yawned 
as if it was none of his business. When the so-called trial was over, 
he drew out a paper previously prepared and read out the death 
sentence. He also insisted on having representatives of all the mili- 
tary services present to watch the performance. They were to be 
taught the lesson of devotion and duty to the flag, and the conse- 
quences of disobedience. The result seems to have been that loath- 
ing and horror filled the breasts of the bystanders. They went 
away each coloring his version of the massacre, and preaching 
hatred of the proceedings. 

Those, by the way, who answered the call to the levy are given 
no arms, but ordered off to labor, digging, carrying heavy loads, 
breaking stones, etc., etc. If, tired and faint, they fall out, they are 
driven back with kicks and the butts of rifles, just "as if they were 
Jews or Poles," added my informant. 



MABCH, 1944 2/5 

It is reported that the Eremitani chapel at Padua with the Man- 
tegna frescoes was bombed because the nunnery next door had 
been occupied by the Fascist army headquarters. So it was not be- 
cause of a stray shot, as I had supposed, that these paintings have 
been destroyed. 

A commission has been called by the Fascist prefect consisting 
of the Cardinal, the art superintendent, and other notables to en- 
lighten and calm the townsfolk about the persistent rumors that 
the basements, cellars, and crypts of public buildings from the ca- 
thedral to the Uffizi, from San Lorenzo to the Pitti, are filled with 
explosives and other war material that may invite enemy bom- 
bardment. The same commission eventually might guarantee that 
the conditions for treating Florence like an open city have been 
fulfilled. 

The Germans want Rome and Florence to be accepted by the 
Anglo-Saxon invaders as harmless places of refuge for the princi- 
pal works of art of the entire peninsula. It would suit them to take 
shelter in the midst of masterpieces which the "terrorist air gang- 
sters'* would respect. 

Qui trompe-t-on id? How can Florence and Rome be made 
open cities when both towns even if not a single Axis trooper, 
gun, or bullet remained in them are hugged in the embrace of 
Axis armies and armaments? Surely the Germans must know that 
their opponents will not consent to this proposal. Why, then, do 
they make it? To induce their sympathizers to believe it will not 
be their fault if Italy's "art heritage" perishes. 

So far as I can make out there are three different bands in the 
bush, harassing the specter Fascists. There is the tricolore monar- 
chical one, there is the Communist Garibaldi lot, and there is a 
riffraff of all sorts of undesirables ready for anything. The first two 
work together, but will have nothing to do with the third. The first 
two get supplies by air from the Anglo-Americans. It seems that a 
box containing six hundred thousand lire descended on a group of 
Germans and that a huge box containing chocolate, coffee, and 
tinned edibles landed in the public square of Figline. 

The attitude of some Italians to the Anglo-Saxons is that the lat- 



276 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ter must and shall win the war; but if in the process they give 
signs of stupidity, of incompetence, of failure, they feel less dis- 
tress at the consequent prolongation of the war than pleasure in 
the thought that after all the Anglo-Saxons are not as superior as 
all that. 



March 26th 

THIRTY-FIVE S.S. have been ambushed and killed somewhere 
in Rome, and the Nazis have had three hundred and fifty hostages 
shot as reprisals, ten Romans for one Tudesque. Very merciful on 
their side, for, in their heart of hearts, one German is worth a hun- 
dred at least, if not a thousand, Italians, none without a touch of 
"nigger." 

In the concrete, each of the Romans slaughtered and even each 
of the S.S. ambushed has my sympathies. In the abstract I cannot 
but welcome the event, for it will convince Italians of what they 
never would believe: that the Nazis acted in this way in every 
country they occupied, 

March 2?th 

NICKY READ ALOUD Goethe's dedication to his Faust. It moved 
me to tears. It was not so much the beauty and humanity of the 
verse as the thought that only little over a century ago the Ger- 
mans had a Goethe and that the same people now has a Hitler. 
Caliban triumphing over Prospero, and enjoying the enthusiastic 
adherence of tens of thousands where Goethe could not muster 
hundreds. 

What an Umwertung aller Werte change of values! I wonder 
what the inventor of that phrase, what Friedrich Nietzsche, would 
think of the result! 

Between the two wars, the most humanized Germans under- 
stood the contrast between Weimar as the focus of the Goethe 
cult and Potsdam-Essen as the symbol of the materialistic im- 
pulses of their people, the worship of efficiency and trust in force 



MARCH, 1944 277 

even though it slay them. They came as suppliants to the python- 
slaying Apollo but forgot the Sminthean, the vermin-killer. And 
Apollo, as incarnate in Goethe as ever God in man, did nothing to 
prevent the tribes and hosts of verminous man-shaped monsters 
from overcoming and enslaving the humanized, the Apollonian 
Germans. 

o # <* 

Italian friends listened to Winston Churchill's speech of yester- 
day evening, and came away not only disappointed but contemp- 
tuous. No word of comfort, no promises of a speedy conclusion to 
our troubles, but instead, talk of tables and chairs, and other 
homely articles of furniture and housing. 

It is sad that so many, perhaps most Italians of the upper if not 
governing classes, have been brought up to believe that politics 
deals with prestige, with magnificence, with power, with con- 
quests. In the speech Churchill made yesterday they not only miss 
the rhetoric to which they are accustomed but think it infra dig 
for the "head of the government" to insist as he did on housing, 
on cottages, on furniture and similar domestic matters too hum- 
ble, too trivial for the attention of a statesman. 

Italians and Germans, indeed most Continental peoples, will 
not have it that government is only housekeeping for as many mil- 
lions as compose the nation. 

<* * * 

A gentleman from Lucca brings the news that there they have 
shot seven who failed to appear at the call to arms. All could have 
received a pardon but only two asked for it. The condition, how- 
ever, was to join up and to be sent at once for labor either to the 
front or in Germany. 

He tells me that the plan of the Germans and their Quisling is 
that the moment a given region is invaded by the Allies, the males 
shall be sent either to the front or to Germany while women and 
children are collected into concentration camps. This has been 
whispered already from house to house, from man to man, from 
woman to woman, and is creating consternation. 

The same informant reports that in the mountainous region be- 



278 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

tween Tuscany and the M odenese there have been pitched battles 
between the Quisling Italians and the "bands,** and that it was 
going so badly with the first that they called in the Germans. Over 
a hundred of the Communists officially all who resist are Com- 
munists were taken. As to their fate there is serious disagree- 
ment. The Fascists want to shoot the ringleaders only, but the 
Nazis insist on shooting all. 

Finally, he said that at Lucca the person responsible for the 
worst excesses is an idealist. God save us from idealists in politics! 

March 28th 

NATIONALISTIC PROPAGANDA seldom fails to infect the victims 
of the oppression from which liberalism would free them. The 
riots fomented by baboos and landlords in India are a case in 
point. They have the British, I mean many difficulties in at- 
tempting to rule a subcontinent inhabited by hundreds of lan- 
guage groups and thousands, perhaps, of castes. No effort more 
serious than the effort to free the peasant, the workingman, the 
small shopkeeper, the officer-clerk from the oppression of the hard- 
hearted landowner, his accomplice the bloodsucking lawyer, and 
the indifferent industrialists; to alleviate the lot of the working 
classes and the condition of the poverty-stricken "cultured prole- 
tariat." Yet propaganda periodically rouses these suffering millions 
to protest against British rule and its efforts in their favor. 

The same in Egypt. There the Turkish and Turkicized Arab 
landowners exploit the peasantry, treating them as no better than 
cattle. Their hygienic conditions were revolting. Their standard 
of life was scarcely neolithic. The English tried hard to improve 
their lot. In vain, and when Zagloulites in the course of their cam- 
paign against the English started markets outside the towns, the 
fellahin flocked to them. 

The same in Palestine. The Jewish settlers committed the crime 
of raising the wages of agricultural laborers, not out of philan- 
thropy but because they needed the peasant and could pay him. 
They wanted the land of the peasant-proprietor and were ready 



MARCH, 1944 Z79 

to pay his price not the pitiful one offered by the wealthy na- 
tives. 

These are the fundamental reasons for the bitter hatred the 
"Arab," that is to say the Palestinian effendi, cherishes against the 
Zionists. The literates ( seldom of Arab origin, some trained at Ox- 
ford and Cambridge ) have been won over or hired by the effendis 
with the result that not only have the feelings of the Arab-speak- 
ing middle class, gulping propaganda from the papers and hear- 
ing it on the radio, been affected, but those of the peasantry, 
whose lot the British administration and Zionist economy were 
improving. 

To what extent the German peasant and workman have been 
turned against their liberators by Nazi propaganda it is hard to 
judge at a distance. Here in Italy, Fascist revivalists have had, so 
far as I can judge, no effect on the peasantry and little on the 
workingman. The first may feel that they are untouched by gov- 
ernment, and the second has not had his head stuffed with "things 
that ain't so" by superior schooling at the expense of his good 
sense. 

Even before the last war, these interests had induced the Ital- 
ian nationalists, few as yet, to coalesce their aspirations. Their 
party was made up at that time of romantic schoolmasters, of a 
small number of writers and journalists, and of some of that vast 
horde of titled Italians who resented it that abroad they did not 
receive the same welcome as the subjects of more prosperous 
countries. The moneyed powers started party dailies where they 
could spit out their hearts as the French say while rousing the 
people, that is to say the newspaper-reading classes, to indigna- 
tion over the fact that they had neither coal, nor iron, nor cotton, 
nor copper, nor wool in sufficient quantities to enable them to 
compete in big and heavy industries with more favored lands, like 
Germany, England, France, and the United States. 

At this point it may be asked what this has to do with the Hindu 
raia and the Arab fellah. In this way. The Italian nationalist, in 
so far as genuine, was as much the victim of interested propa- 
ganda as the Hindu and Arab peasant and office drudge. It was 



280 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

all the fault of the great powers, England in particular, who not 
only had fabulous resources at home but snatched everything 
abroad, leaving nothing for Italians. Finally came the cry that 
poor Italy was strangled, asphyxiated in its narrow seas by Eng- 
land, who would not let her get out into the air to breathe, to live, 
to conquer, to profit by the slave labor of natives and the wealth 
of grabbed territories. 

I remember going to a music hall in Paris during the last war 
when the French government was making propaganda for Eng- 
land and hearing a song of many stanzas recounting the hardships, 
troubles, and miseries of mankind; each ended with the refrain 
"C'est la faute de TAngleterre" "It is all the fault of England" is 
the universal cry when things go wrong for a nation, as it is "all 
the fault of the Jews" when things go wrong with individuals. But 
Germans, Italians, Russians, French even, do not seem to realize 
that by whining, whimpering, and howling this complaint they 
are recognizing England's natural hegemony, that England is the 
ruling power, that England is a St. Nicholas owing everybody a 
Christmas present, and even a living or better still a kingdom and, 
most imperative need of all, a people to oppress and enslave. 

Continental European sympathizers with the victims of British 
tyranny and misrule would be left without a hobby if their own 
governments were running Judea or Egypt. No meetings of pro- 
test, no agitation, no newspaper opposition, no flaunting of au- 
thority permitted, and no cry of the oppressed would reach their 
ears. 

March 2Qth 

FRONTALLY, Nazi propaganda has relatively little effect on more 
liberal Italians. When Hitler made the alliance with Stalin and 
the apostles of Nazism in Italy preached to their flocks that the 
Bolsheviks were no longer Bolsheviks, my acquaintances and 
friends paid little attention; nor did they when the Russians again 
became tooth-and-claw cannibal Bolsheviks, the moment the Fiih- 
rer made war on them. 



MARCH, 1944 28l 

A subtler German propaganda, emanating chiefly from French 
Switzerland, kept insisting that Stalin would seize the first favor- 
able moment for making a separate peace with the Third Reich, 
and probably enough for joining it in war against the Anglo- 
Saxons. 

When his successful steadfastness proved that this kind of prop- 
aganda would not hold water, it became subtler still and began to 
moan over the fact that the Western powers were letting Stalin 
have all the innings, and that the victory of his arms would end 
by making him dictator over Europe, if not over the whole earth. 
The English and Americans had better make haste to share his 
laurels. 

As a matter of fact, people who talk that way know no more 
than the rest of us what the Soviets mean to make of their victory, 
assuming that it is theirs alone. Still less do they know what ca- 
pacity Russia will have after the war to realize imperialistic or 
Communistically apostolic ambitions. 

Let us assume the worst: that Russia alone has won the war (as 
many Italians now seem to believe ) , that their military power will 
be at the service of a will not only to rule but to impose their Com- 
munistic religion on the rest of the world. 

I am Pangloss enough to fancy that if Russia does come out as 
the greatest power at the end of this war, the others, England par- 
ticularly, will automatically look for partners and buffers. They 
will realize that through a Germany too crushed to rise again the 
Soviets can as easily sweep over the Continent as the Nazis did in 
the early summer of 1940. In self-defense and instinctively, they 
will tend to restrain the wild, thoughtless vindictiveness and fa- 
natical hatred of so many who have suffered from Nazi onslaughts 
and Nazi oppression, Nazi provocation to war, and Nazi methods 
of carrying on war. Anglo-Saxons and even French will be com- 
pelled to see that without a German buffer state Russia would 
soon be at their own frontiers. This conviction would lead them to 
do everything in their power to restore to Germany sufficient mass 
and solidity to serve as a bulwark against Soviet aggression. 

Before the last war and particularly during its course the bal- 



282 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ance of power was much discussed, disapproved, and decried by 
many idealist lambs in Anglo-Saxonia, too innocent to recognize 
the German wolf under his sheep's clothing. 

Every regime that has attempted to dominate Europe has en- 
countered, no matter after what flashy triumphs and even thrill- 
ingly glorious victories, the successful opposition of all who held 
to their independence and would not be absorbed by another 
power, no matter how magnificent. Instinctively they turned to 
England, and as instinctively England went to their aid. Why? 
Because for three centuries and more England has shown no wish 
to annex Continental territory. Like other states, she asks to be 
left in peace, free from blustering threats and probabilities of ag- 
gression. So she has headed coalitions against Philip of Spain, 
against Louis XIV, against Napoleon, and now against Hitler. 

England's conduct, as well as that of all the peoples who 
hope for her victory, is instinctive and spontaneous. We see it 
even in private life. Where there are three and one is disposed to 
be overbearing the other two automatically join against him. So 
in business, in public life from ward politics to international af- 
fairs, we instinctively clutch at anyone who will help us against 
the menace of the moment. 

There is nothing more natural than the "balance of power" as 
international policy. 

March ^ist 

I AM SURPRISED that so little indignation appears on the surface 
against the systematic enslavements carried on by the Germans. 
On secure authority I have it that the Nazis mean to carry off a 
million and a half Italians to work in Germany. They have already 
required a definite contingent from each town: for instance, thirty 
thousand from Florence and ten thousand from Siena. When I re- 
call the indignation felt a hundred years ago in England, and in 
our Northern states, over slave raiding in Nigeria and how it even- 
tually led to our Civil War, one of the most maddening and hor- 
rible in history, I cannot help suspecting a singular incapacity for 



MARCH, 1944 283 

indignation on the part of Italians. Indeed, Dante is witness to it, 
or he would not have let Vergil embrace him with such rapture 
because he had given way to those feelings. 

Here are episodes described by a correspondent quoted earlier 
in these notes. They may be subject to the personal equation but 
are true to the idea if not the detail: 

"One of the worst things done yet is this deportation. We have 
seen trucks passing crammed full of unfortunate people standing 
up pressed against each other, among whom there were ladylike- 
looking women in handsome fur coats. One of these cargoes came 
from Rome and unloaded its contents in Piazza della Signoria for 
a brief respite. The poor victims with ashen faces and sagging 
limbs leaned stupefied against the Palazzo Vecchio. They had 
neither eaten nor had a drop of water since they left. The gaping 
crowd was stirred to pity, two thousand lire were collected, and 
food was bought and distributed before they were brutally packed 
in again, to be carried to an unknown destination. My daughter 
was passing through Piazza Vittorio when suddenly all the issues 
were blocked by 'republicans,' and every able-bodied-looking man 
or woman was seized and packed in a truck. Women shrieked and 
kicked, men were roughly handled. Two days ago the same thing 
happened in Via della Vigna; another time they walked into all 
the restaurants and carried off men and women. A few hours after 
they are packed into a sealed car and taken off to Germany." 

The same friend describes her experience of a bombing and 
follows it with a characteristically burlesque episode: 

"But I must not sadden you only with tragic news and shall 
tell you of a most comic scene that happened during the first bom- 
bardment of Florence in the refuge of one of the better-known 
palaces. One of the ladies living in it rushed down, florid, over- 
blown, decked out in all her jewelry, which she wears all the time 
now, terrified, dashed into the vast and dim cellars into which 
poured a few minutes later all the prostitutes from a neighboring 
brothel. They were clutching around their persons more or less 
bedraggled kimonos, and were followed by half -clad clients and 
by the padrona clasping the cashbox to her ample bosom. As the 



284 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

bombs fell, the lady got frantic and, extracting her rosary from 
her bag, fell upon her knees before a marble statue that glim- 
mered pale in a remote corner. The prostitutes followed suit and 
they wailed their Ave Maria in mournful chorus. As everyone's 
eyes got used to the semidarkness, it was perceived that the statue 
was a naked Bacchus, clad only in a most visible large tin fig leaf." 
Another friend, one in a position to receive the confidences of 
German officers, writes that they speak of how everything is crum- 
bling on their side, and of the indescribable horrors going on un- 
der the Nazis. How I pity these officers, whom automatizing dis- 
cipline compels to act as the instruments of a gang they abhor, 
more perhaps than even we do, we who are no Quislings helping 
the Nazis in their worst behavior toward fellow men. 



April ist 

FINISHED Goethe's Faust, part one for the how many-eth time, 
I wonder, since my first reading more than sixty years ago. 

As a composition it is so disappointing that I doubt whether I 
shall want to peruse the whole again. The real drama, that is to 
say the love of the hero and Gretchen, is not sufficiently realized, 
not adequately developed, not given enough body, is only indi- 
cated, brilliantly and beautifully but intermittently, in episodes. 
And these episodes are either too short or too long too long as 
compared, for distance, with the Ophelia passages in Hamlet. 
How much more Shakespeare would have made of it we can see 
from the way he treated Romeo and Juliet, which is as brief a tale. 

Nor can I find characters as distinct from types in this first part. 
Faust is the young intellectual, tired of climbing the Mount of 
Purgatory, I mean life; and while waiting for his second wind, 
belches his disappointments. Mephisto is the smart, youthful 
cynic. Gretchen is the young girl trapped by her own impulses 
and innocence into a tragic passion. 

To give the play if indeed play it can be called substance, 
Goethe stuffs it with irrelevancies like the scenes in Auerbach's 



APRIL, 1944 285 

Keller, and the Walpurgisnaeht. I confess that this time the first 
did not amuse me and the second bored me. 

Goethe's Faust is not a plant with roots deep down in the earth 
and branches reaching to the heavens, as are the tragedies of 
Aeschylus and Shakespeare. It is a Christmas tree hung and dec- 
orated with gorgeous fruits and flowers and toys of many kinds. 
There are beautiful verses like the dedication, the ballad of the 
King of Thule, Gretchen's "Meine Ruh ist hin," the Easter walk, 
and the marvelous last scene, although that is just a trifle prolix. 
Then, all the profound and so well-ordered sayings which Goethe 
his life long kept pouring out. 

The truth seems to be that Goethe, perhaps the greatest man of 
letters and one of the completest of human beings, must have had 
a short breath as a creative artist and may have lacked staying 
power. Without changing its pattern he could not carry through 
an undertaking that required development. Thus even the second 
half of the first part of Wilhelm Meister lacks the Mozartean radi- 
ance of the first half. As for the second part, it is of course a casual 
collection of episodes little if at all concerned with Wilhelm. Nor 
can we seriously consider the many episodes and interludes of 
the second part of Faust as illustrating the protagonist's evolution 
from youth to old age. You may regard them as symbolical if you 
like, but symbols in poetry can never be more than exhalations. 

In a sense Goethe's most considerable effort at a composition 
is his Elective Affinities, a relatively commonplace, modern, in. 
some respects up-to-date novel, the kind done nowadays more 
delicately, more subtly, by Charles Morgan and his peers. 

Goethe was, at rare times, a divinely lyrical singer, in earlier 
years a fair playwright, always a wonderful gnomic poet and a 
great man of letters, seldom a creative dramatist or narrator of the 
highest order. I say this with no intention of belittling him, but 
only to define him as an artist, as the artist within the man of let- 
ters, the scientist, the administrator, the comprehensive human 
being. 



286 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Gretchen in her prison cell sings the ballad of the Machandel- 
boom, the juniper tree, of which the Grimms give such a gruesome 
Low-German version in their Tales. Loeper, in whose edition I 
first read Faust more than sixty years ago, cites a parallel in a 
Provencal folk song. It begins like this; 

Ma maire ma tuat 

Mon pere ma mangat 

Ma sure Margaridate ma pleurat, etc., etc. 

How account for this? Scarcely by recent importation from 
Germany. More likely the ballad was brought by the Goths who 
invaded the South of France and in Septimania, the strip of terri- 
tory between the Rhone and the Pyrenees, remained a sovereign 
people till the end of the sixth century at least. 

It would be interesting to inquire what contribution the 
various tribes which occupied what is now France made to its 
history: the South, with its Gothic conquerors penetrating a so- 
ciety composed of Celts and Iberians, Greeks and Romans; the 
Northeast, the Paris Basin, with its Franks and Normans penetrat- 
ing Romanized Gauls; the West, Vendee and Brittany, with Gauls 
Celticizing who knows what. For the Celts scarcely began to in- 
vade Gaul before the end of the sixth century B.C. Whom did they 
encounter when they began to occupy this territory? Basques in 
the Southwest, but farther north, whom? 

According to all we can descry of the past, the Goths were of 
all barbarians the most disposed to accept the Hellenic universe, 
then already in Christian garb. Their mingling with the Celto- 
Greco-Roman elements may account ultimately for the Albigen- 
sians, for the Trouveres, for the revival of sculpture. Who knows? 
Perhaps these inquiries have been made with interesting results. 
But the individual counts for so much and it is seldom that he can 
be explained. Chateaubriand, Renan, Briand were Bretons. What 
have they in common? A gift of words? 



APRIL, 1944 287 



April zd 

AMERICAN BOMBERS have killed some twenty and wounded ten 
times as many innocent inhabitants of Schaffhausen and done 
much damage. Unfortunately, this Swiss town lies on the ragged 
edge of the Reich. I can account for this unhappy event only in 
this way: The Allies must have known that, taking advantage of 
the vicinity of the frontier, the Germans using it as a shelter 
placed as near to it as possible plants or stores, and the Allies at 
last could not stand it any longer. 

* # # 

I hear that government offices are now open only till 9:30 A.M. 
The air visitations of the Allies are effective in disorganizing work 
and diminishing output. Many are pleased, as they do not like to 
toil for the Germans. The lower orders, now that spring has come, 
flock to the nearest heights, take food, and spend the day pic- 
nicking. One of the many by-products of war. 

April $d 

REREADING Labriolle's Reaction Payenne has led me again to 
wonder what might have happened if, instead of reigning a bare 
three years, Julian the Apostate had ruled the Empire, for thirty. 

The doctrinaires of historical necessity and historical inevita- 
bility, if any survive, will scarcely deny that in thirty years Julian 
might have achieved what, in less time, the Bavarian and Austrian 
rulers did in the last years of the sixteenth century. 

These princes found a Germany running fast towards Protes- 
tantism. They succeeded in bringing back to Rome, to a post- 
Tridentine, asceticized, Jesuitized, sectarian Catholicism, not only 
the South and the Rhineland, but Nordic Westphalia as well. The 
wars ended with the agreement that the sovereign of each state 
could impose the religion he pleased. Cujus regio, hujus religio. 
What clearer and completer denial of historical inevitability than 
this decision: that the prince could compel his subjects to run 



288 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

into the mold and take the shape he pleased, for that is what re- 
ligion means. It means the shaping of character, conduct, politics, 
institutions, of the whole of life, in short. 

What Bavarian, Austrian, and other rulers could do for Roman- 
ism, Henry VIII and Elizabeth for Anglicanism, could surely have 
been done by Julian for his beliefs. The majority of the Empire 
was as yet not even avowedly Christian and the minority was 
pagan at heart. This was particularly the case with the landown- 
ing and other ruling classes. The Emperor would have found en- 
thusiastic adherents among them, and as for the inglorious com- 
pany of time servers, they would have turned with the wind 
toward the sun. 

In thirty years he might have succeeded in having his way as 
much as Constantine did in as many. He evidently meant to imi- 
tate what was best in the organization of the Christian parish and 
would have taken away from Church and diocese the care of the 
poor while alive and of their decent burial when dead two im- 
portant functions the Church inherited from the Synagogue, He 
would have created a ritual in which the worshipers were not 
dumb bystanders but participants in soul-stirring responses and 
hymns. 

Furthermore, he would have succeeded in drawing to his re- 
ligion most of the best talents of the time. That would have been 
better than wasting them, occultating their minds in hair-splitting 
theological speculation based on perverted history and undis- 
cussed metaphysical premises held together by the impeccable 
logic of the madhouse. 

True, Julian was goaded to fanaticism and to the disgusting 
monstrosity of hecatombs, as well as to a grimly facetious perse- 
cution which might have been carried further had he lived. On 
the other hand, given his intellectual powers and administrative 
ability, both as soldier and as statesman, it is by no means im- 
probable that in the long run success and good sense would have 
got the better of him. He might have ended by letting the Chris- 
tians alone. Deprived of patronage and other material and hon- 
orific advantages, they would have been reduced in the course of 



APRIL, 1944 289 

three decades to the number of genuine adherents a small num- 
ber, perhaps. 

One cannot even attempt to formulate what kind of religion 
Julian might have succeeded in establishing. It would have had 
to be more than mere ritual; it would have had to promise life 
hereafter, and learn to console and comfort here below r . It would 
have produced a theology and, almost certainly, one based, like 
Christianity, on Neoplatonic metaphysics. It would, however, 
have been unburdened with the products of a staggering attempt 
to harness its theology not to vague symbolical fairy tales like 
the Greek myths but to presumed historical actuality as related 
in the Old and New Testaments. 

Be that as it may, certain advantages would have accrued from 
which we should be profiting even now. 

In the first place, Julian's religion would have respected an- 
tiquity. It would have cherished the buildings and works of art, 
and prized the masterpieces of literature. Not only the great and 
glorious but the dreariest and silliest "JulianisnT let us so call it 
would have saved poems, plays, histories, memoirs, biographies, 
scientific and philosophic treatises which Christian indifference 
and even hostility allowed to perish. 

Furthermore, it might have saved the Eastern world from the 
horrors of a monachism which furnished squadristi or Stoss- 
truppen to ferocious partisans like "Saint" Athanasius and 
"Saint" Cyril of Alexandria. It certainly would not have allowed a 
Cossack hetman like "Saint" Ambrose brandishing his nagaika to 
satisfy his lust for power by humiliating and massacring Arians, 
Jews, etc., etc. 

Julianism would have prevented the monopoly which led the 
Church to actuate a totalitarian authoritarianism the like of which 
the world had never known before or since, till our own day in 
Russia and Germany. 

Julianism might have induced the Church, already so arrogant, 
so masterful, so unevangelical, to return, with the genuinely faith- 
ful, to its sources and its primitive purity. It might have compelled 
it to drop theological controversy harnessed to power and instead 



HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

to cultivate the Christianity of the Gospels, and to behave as a 
struggling and not as an all-powerful institution. 

One could write volumes on this subject. If I were twenty-nine 
instead of seventy-nine it would tempt me. As it is, it must suffice 
to draw attention to this fallow field of history. 

If Akhenaton had reigned half as long as Ramses II the Nilotic 
Roi Soleil he might have freed Egypt from the strangling grip 
of the Theban priesthood, and anticipated by a thousand years 
the best that Jerusalem and Athens were going to teach. If Philip 
of Macedon had not been assassinated he would have turned his 
arms westward to Hellenize perhaps the whole of Europe pene- 
tratingly, instead of leaving the task to be half done by Romans. 
If only Alexander, his son, had lived thirty or forty years more! 
If Antiochus Epiphanes had succeeded, Hellenism would not have 
been addled by Judaism. There was no historical necessity for any 
of these misfortunes and failures, nor for hundreds of others. But 
for Mussolini and his peculiar temperament Italy, in the face of 
manifold opposing reasons, would not have engaged in this war 
and be suffering her present humiliation and distress. If Hitler's 
mind had not been possessed by infantile stories about the Jews, 
he would not have made their extirpation one of the most urgent, 
if not the foremost, of his tasks. 

No, we must stop thinking and writing about human history 
as if it were geology or astronomy. It is, on the contrary, crossed 
and recrossed by the unforeseeable and incalculable, and subject 
to accident, to individual character, to caprice even. 

April gth 

IN THE LAST ENTRY I referred to the disparagement encoun- 
tered by attempts to rewrite history. I suggested that they could 
be defended as criticisms of a past held responsible to some extent 
for what is unsatisfactory in the present. 

Writing about the future does not interest teachers of history, 
but it escapes the disapproval of those solemn seniors. Besides, it 
is more excitingly fanciful. And yet most attempts to paint the 



APBIL, 1Q44 291 

future are merely utopistic pictures of what the author would 
wish the present to be. In sober fact the future Is seldom more 
than an epithet, an adjective of an optative kind, applied to the 
present, whether to modify, intensify, or emphasize. Naturally, I 
have in mind a future stretching indefinitely before us: not the 
future of tomorrow, the next day, or the next month, when, short 
of accident, we, as individuals or communities, shall be achieving 
this or that action already well on the way in our minds, if not yet 
materially manifest. 

The future in the sense we usually give the word is, I repeat, 
optative, is et8s yap, is utinam, is would that., always some de- 
sired or imagined improvement of the present or, indeed, and that 
more seldom, a warning against actual practices expected to affect 
us in a future so near that it is all but present as the butter in 
the churn. 

From the present we cannot get away, and it is more honest- 
minded not to pretend to. This, however, should not prevent us 
from attempting to understand how a given moment in the past 
seemed and felt to those who were living it. Nor should it dis- 
courage efforts at drawing conclusions about the more remote 
consequences of activities and policies of today. Thus Jules Verne 
made anticipations of the submarine that as yet are but half re- 
alized; and Wells's War in the Air was a prophecy more than ful- 
filled in the war now going on. It is far more risky to try to fore- 
tell the effect of current policies. What will England be like when 
this war is well over? What class at home will have the say, what 
will be our position abroad? What authority will the United States 
have in international affairs and, assuming it to be great, what use 
will it make of it? What understanding will it have of its responsi- 
bilities? What individuals will emerge capable of handling events 
so much more complicated than any we have dealt with hitherto? 

April wth 

A FRIEND returned from Berlin reports that the town is in ruins; 
many faades remain standing but with nothing behind them. As 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the noted Berlin humor slumbereth not nor sleepeth, it now calls 
the town Trummcrshausen bci Potsdam (anglice Rubblehome 
near Potsdam). It seems, however, that the capacity of its deni- 
zens for organization is so great that life is livable even under 
continuous bombardment from the air. He went on to say that, 
despite everything, the humbler classes retain a boundless faith 
in Hitler and his ability to save them. 

He had occasion, this same friend, to visit the salt mines near 
Heilbronn, where quantities of things precious by way of art or 
history have been stored away in galleries of an even temperature 
and free from damp. It made me happy to hear that the marvelous 
art treasures of Germany are being so well cared for and kept safe 
for a better day. Let us hope for a generation better fitted to ap- 
preciate them, and to learn from them. 

Fascist propaganda has suddenly discovered that Rome is a 
holy city, and therefore not subject to the ordinary course of war. 

It seems that Allied bombs fell here and there in the outskirts of 
Rome yesterday, Easter Sunday. Fascist Catholic sentiment was 
profoundly shocked. I will not ask here how Fascism, a new to- 
talitarianism, can live together with the immemorial totalitarian- 
ism of the good Catholic. They sneer bitterly at the indignation 
expressed by Anglo-Saxons over the Mussolinian invasion of Al- 
bania on a Good Friday, while these same Anglo-Saxons do not 
hesitate to bombard the "Holy City" on the same Christian an- 
niversary. 

These Fascists forget, or perhaps never understood, that the 
Anglo-Saxon horror was not over the violation of a holiday but 
the violation of the right of a small nation to be safe from the ag- 
gression of a bigger one, and that bigger one a nation which had 
already assumed, of its own choice, the role of protector. The 
Anglo-Saxons were bombarding the outskirts of Rome in the rou- 
tine course of a war that they did everything decent to prevent, 
which nevertheless the Sultan of Italy, obeying his Nazi Calif, 
insisted on making. But one of the results of Fascist propaganda 
is that it renders its victims incapable of appreciating differences 
and distinctions not produced by bayonets. 



APRIL, 1944 293 



April 12th 

IN THE FACE of all that has happened, Florence and, I suppose, 
other towns not occupied by the Anglo-Saxon ogres are placarded 
with the following appeal to the citizens: "Sea, do not give us 
back our dead, do not give us back our ships, but give us back our 
glory." 

This to a population so war-weary that the majority would 
rather go into concentration camps or let themselves be sent to 
forced labor than fight. This to a population aware that they have 
no voice in affairs, and that the Germans leave them to stew in 
their own juice, or to let pothouse fight pothouse, unless their own 
safety is concerned; to a population knowing that the other day, 
for the killing of thirty-five German Gestapo men, at least three 
hundred and fifty Italians, happening to be at hand, were shot 
dead; to a population well aware that the bands, so-called brig- 
ands" or "Communists," who haunt the neighboring hills, were 
more than a match for the republican Fascists, seeing that these 
have to ask the Germans for a thousand men specially trained 
to cope with guerrilla tactics. 

It seems that the public considers these placards a most won- 
derful and poetical appeal. It makes one despair of the near future 
for Italy. If only the dear people would take to heart the words 
of Renan in the preface to the Pretre de Nemi: "The party who 
cherish dreams of a transcendent future for their country are then- 
country's worst enemies"! 

April isth 

WITH INCREASING INTEREST and attention, the Nazi press de- 
votes itself to calculating and speculating what the afterwar will 
be like in Allied lands, in England particularly. As might be im- 
agined, these Pisgah sights are of the murkiest kind. Are they in- 
tended to act as a card of comfort to the German public by assur- 
ing them that it will be bad on the other side, even if that side 



294 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

wins? Or is it a roundabout way to satisfy curiosity about the 
future without letting it dwell on their own on what will happen 
to them? The Anglo-Saxon reader may not know that in Naziland 
it is strictly forbidden to print anything about Germany after the 
war. The more intelligent Germans will read between the lines 
and, with the help of what they are asked to believe about the 
Allies, will draw conclusions about themselves, 

***** 

The King of Italy, no longer Emperor of Abyssinia and King 
of Albania, declares his irrevocable intention to hand over his 
legal powers to his son, the Prince of Piedmont, the moment the 
Allies occupy Rome. 

I have never met or even seen this Prince. From all I can gather 
he is a good soldier, a veritable soldier. 

That is what I object to. The morally if not legally responsible 
head of an up-to-date commonwealth, whether King or President, 
should be trained in ways that cannot be acquired in a military 
school or in commanding a battalion, a division, an army. In all 
these OBEDIENCE is the rule. You obey those above you, and order 
about all below you. This is no training for the presiding officer of 
a parliamentary regime. In such a regime not command but per- 
suasion is the only technique which will produce results. You can- 
not dragoon, you must convince. The experience of a good drill 
sergeant, of a colonel, or of a general will not stand you in good 
stead. On the contrary, it will unfit you for the task. 

In all history I cannot recall an instance of an eminent soldier's 
successfully ruling a country governed by free discussion. Even 
the Duke of Wellington is no exception, although he comes near 
being one, perhaps indeed because no Briton has had the gentle- 
man in him completely replaced by the soldier. In our times 
MacMahon was a pitiable failure, and in our own country Gen- 
eral Grant was worse than a failure. 

The presiding officer of a community, and pre-eminently so a 
lifelong presiding officer, that is to say a king, should be taught 
history, anthropology, law, and the effective use of words. 

A further objection to the soldier-king is that he will tend to 



APRIL, 1944 295 

give far too much weight to military matters, sacrificing more vital 
national interests while giving the army undue prestige in the 
eyes of the public. It should enjoy no more consideration than 
any other body serving the state, and should be as subordinated 
to its pedestrian, workaday welfare. 

April 14th 

THE NAZI PRESS is full of deep sympathy and profound under- 
standing, manifested by the echoing voice of all Europe "Eu- 
rope," be it noted, meaning that part of this continent under Ger- 
man occupation for Ribbentrop's admonitions to the Rumanians 
and the other once satellite, now commandeered, countries. 

In this allocution, the Nazi Minister for Foreign Affairs told his 
vassals that they must not expect the Allies to quarrel among 
themselves, to make separate peace, or to do anything else to the 
Axis advantage. As for England, where would her Asiatic posses- 
sions now be if Germany had not made war to bridle the power 
and ambition of Stalin! 

I begin to see the line of defense the Germans will take when 
they have lost the war. It will be something like this : 

We alone have understood the danger the barbarous and brutal 
Slav is to European civilization. We knew that a Russian invasion 
was imminent. In vain, we urged the Western powers to join us in 
a crusade against them. Neither France nor England would listen. 
Not only that, but they declared war against us, we who were 
sacrificing ourselves for the sins of the world, who were prepar- 
ing our defensive-offensive campaign against the Slavs. We were 
driven to defend ourselves against the people for whose defense 
we were getting ready to fight. Our might enabled us to put an 
end in no time to French opposition. England escaped our benev- 
olent attentions, and continued to be a thorn in our side. 

A moment came when we could afford to ignore the West and 
turn eastward. Continuing the campaign to which the invasion 
of Poland was but an overture so misunderstood by the Poles 
that we had to massacre millions to save the rest we invaded 



96 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Russia, and in no time reached the gates of Moscow and before 
long were on our way to the Caspian. 

Thus far reason had prevailed. Then the irrational began to op- 
pose us, and little by little, with the help of the uncomprehending 
English and their colonials, the United States foremost, we were 
forced out of Slav territory and saw our own Fatherland invaded 
not only by Stalin's forces but by his Anglo-Saxon auxiliaries as 
well. 

That is all that you are Stalin's auxiliaries. For centuries we 
have been a shield and a buckler for you against the Scythian and 
Sarmatian hordes. With your help they have conquered. We are 
at their mercy. No longer can you count on us as a bulwark. 
Power, as we know to our cost, has its momentum. Will you let it 
overwhelm you after it has steam-rolled us into a highway for 
the invader? What are you going to do about it? Will you have 
the sense, before it is too late, to save us from an enslavement 
which may compel us to help enslave you? No more talk of Nazis 
and anti-Nazis! We all are totalitarians now, and for many a day 
to come authoritarian as well 

What separates us now? 

The answer may be: the humiliation, the despoliation, the 
blood of hundreds of thousands of Jews. 

April igth 

THERE LUNCHED HERE yesterday a gentlemen fresh from the 
distant bourne which Rome has become. He told us of the three 
hundred and fifty seized in the quarter where thirty-five Germans 
had been killed, and sacrificed to their shades by the Teuton 
brutes. Men, women, and children, among them the eighty-five- 
year-old widow of Tittoni, in his day a figure in European politics. 
It was with no little difficulty that she was saved from the holo- 
caust. 

In many streets of Rome have been prepared gates which the 
Nazis can shut at a minute's notice to control the population. 



APRIL, 1944 297 

The same gentleman, a Sicilian by origin and a lawyer by pro- 
fession, had two versions, new to me, of why the armistice was 
announced on the wireless three weeks earlier than agreed upon. 

One version is that De Gaulle, out of spite at not having been 
admitted to the discussion as an equal, gave it away. The other is 
that the Allies, not trusting the Italians and fearing these might 
use the terms for bargaining with the Nazis, hastened to publish it 

I jot both down, to me equally improbable, as instances of how 
difficult it is to know how and why things happen. The evidence, 
so called, is confused and conflicting. Tired of discussing, his- 
torians settle down to a conventional statement, to Napoleon's 
fable convenue. 

In a long-drawn conflict like the present one, the opponents 
adopt and assimilate those qualities of each other that make most 
surely and swiftly for victory. Fas est ab hoste doceri it is just 
to learn from the enemy. 

We Atlantic peoples will come out of this war as totalitarian 
certainly and almost as authoritarian as the Germans. Necessarily 
so. The only thing that may differentiate us from other totalitar- 
ians and authoritarians is freedom of speech, a free press, a free 
radio, etc., etc. That may save us. 

April igth 

LONDON AND NEW YORK send missionaries to China, to Africa, 
to the remotest and wildest parts of the earth, to inculcate the 
Gospel by the example of their own standard of life. Likewise we 
send expeditions to study the manners, customs, folkways of the 
Trobriand and Easter Islanders, and other fashionable haunts of 
overexcited anthropological curiosity. 

Many, myself included, question whether missionaries are not 
wasting our money and their energies, doing the objects of their 
zeal more harm than good. We believe there are no end of Tro- 
brianders, Easter Islanders, and other neolithics, not to speak of 
paleolithics, in our midst: in our slums as well as in every grade of 



28 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

society, the fashionable not least. We should prefer our mission- 
aries to sacrifice themselves rather in humanizing these savages 
or barbarians, these fetish worshipers in our own ranks. 

Anthropology should begin at home. 

By anthropology I mean the study of usages, practices, man- 
ners, customs, beliefs, superstitions, etc., etc., that do not readily 
submit to rational treatment but remain as they are, mobile or 
fixed, and find brilliant defenders armed with all the learning that 
up-to-date research can apply, 

I could wish that our anthropologists grew serious and, forgoing 
aquatic picnics among Pacific islands, would devote laborious 
years to the study of all that is naively taken for granted, and no 
less tenaciously than irrationally held, by the average matron, 
the average businessman, the average cleric, the average lawyer, 
the average soldier, sailor, administrator, butcher, baker, etc., in 
our own societies, high and low, low and high. 

Something of this kind must have been in the mind of the late 
Professor Sumner of Yale, with his sociological investigation and 
publications. Far from being a Philistine as Van Wyck Brooks 
designated him, we should honor him as the great scholar and 
pioneer that he was. What he meant to initiate was an inquiry as 
to what in our own people was too fixed, too immovable to yield 
to immediate philanthropic effort or legislative decree; what 
among "the heirs of all the ages in the foremost ranks of time" 
remains as little subject to persuasion and even to force as any 
other irrational energy, say a certain volume of water in motion 
or turning to steam. 

You know enough about the nature of water not to argue with 
it, preach to it, or appeal to its better instincts. You let it alone; or 
if you must deal with it and want it to take a more convenient 
turn, you provide ample space for its career by canals, sluices, 
safety valves, and other devices. 

Human nature in a given moment, at a given place, is scarcely 
more subject to reason or persuasion. It took a community of half- 
educated, I mean untraditional, folk to legislate alcohol out of all 
but therapeutic use. Anglo-Saxons can prevent control of prostitu- 



APRIL, 1944 299 

tion, although, in India at least, the British army has it. To take a 
higher flight religion is a human necessity. Few are they who 
can burrow through the muck and grime and hard-caked filth of 
superstition, or shake off the admirable and appealing doctrines 
of Christianity, to reach a sustaining vision of their own. The rest 
require some sort of comforting assurance against fear, and an 
outlet of enthusiasm. If you take their childhood's creed and rites 
away, they will hanker for others and find them in Nazism, in 
Communism, and worst of all in nationalism. The average man 
can no more be deprived of access to some sort of mass emotion 
than steam of an outlet. 

The anthropological study of ourselves in all classes and layers 
should be as indispensable to the statesman as the study of Roman 
and other laws to the lawyer, and anatomy and physiology to the 
physician and surgeon. Otherwise your legislation will be a mock- 
ery and your attempts to enforce it a tyranny which human nature 
will expel or at best alter to its own requirements, as we West- 
erners have done with actual and not verbal Christianity, or East- 
erners with Buddhism. The reformer, the legislator, who enacts 
improvements and laws suitable to people as they should be but 
not as they are, will always succumb to the demagogue, the Mus- 
solini, the Hitler, to the Fascism, to Tammany Hall, with their 
cynical acquaintance with human nature at its worst, and their 
playing down to it. In a moment of great distress and uncertainty, 
they invariably conquer with appeals to the lowest morality and 
the meanest intelligence. Far be it from me to urge imitation of 
the various Fascisms, or the politics of Tammany Hall. On the 
contrary, I believe in the possibility of humanizing that beastliest 
of all animals, man. Only you must know what you have to deal 
with, and use appropriate measures based on the knowledge of 
what you can do with him at a given time and place. You must 
not act, as reformers generally do, in accordance with what man 
should be, but with the intellectualized experience of what he is. 

There are in effect no worse enemies of society than the crystal- 
clear, incorruptible idealists. They ignore the animal in man, and 
recognize only a highly rational being who easily should be con- 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

vinced and persuaded to change his ways and conform to their 
program. They invariably disappoint the masses, leaving them at 
the mercy of the sly, the greasy masters of appealing catchwords 
and gross promises, the Duce, the Fiihrer. 

The anthropologist should prepare as thorough and searching 
a diagnosis as possible of a community. On this, the statesman 
with infinite patience, and despite discouragements, knowing 
what he has to start with, what he can count on, what pace he can 
take, could build, and with one step after the other, feeding, amus- 
ing, comforting, and in extreme moments flattering, attain results 
desirable in themselves and able to serve as levers for further ef- 
fort. 

April 22d 

SOME EIGHT DAYS AGO Gentile was assassinated. Returning from 
Florence to his "refuge/ 7 halfway to Settignano, while the chauf- 
feur was opening the gate of the drive, four youngish men ap- 
proached the car and asked whether the man inside was Giovanni 
Gentile. When he answered that he was, they shot him dead. 

It was given out at once that the assassins were "intellectuals." 
I could not see why these should be in such haste to kill Gentile, 
in a moment like this. True, he has been the partiarch of the 
Fascist church for Fascism like Hitlerism is more religious than 
political he has been as well the philosopher who attempted to 
justify the ways of Mussolini to men. Yet I never heard that, as 
Minister of Public Instruction or as influential person, he had ever 
been unjust, let alone cruel to individuals. On the contrary, he 
was helpful and good to everybody. 

It seems that Goring's "merry men," while sweeping the lower 
slopes of Monte Morello clean of "Communists," killed the favorite 
secretary of Gentile, who was spending the Easter days with his 
mother in a villa at Cercina. When Gentile learnt this, he threat- 
ened to go to Mussolini and tell him what was going on here, that 
it was sheer anarchy and misrule. 

Thereupon, as is by no means unlikely, Captain Carita, who 



APRIL, 1944 301 

under S.S. protection still runs the province, had him assassinated. 
At the same time that Goring's merry men were clearing the 
slopes of Monte Morello, they were "murthering and ravishing" 
in the deep valley at its bottom, and on the opposite slopes of 
Monte Senario. The Cardinal of Florence happened to be on a 
pastoral visit to Vaglia and had immediate reports of the killing, 
the robbery, the devastation committed by these merry men. His 
Eminence has not kept silence. He may get the Germans to hold 
their hand. Will he rouse the Florentine possessive classes, the 
Tuscan aristocracy, to effective indignation? That is doubtful. It 
is so much safer to keep quiet! 

April 2%d 

I DO NOT KNOW to what poverty economic pressure will reduce 
us. Nor do I foresee how deeply our people will let themselves be 
doped by the propaganda of universal providers, electioneering 
speakers, and soapbox orators promising plenty and pleasure if 
only we shut our eyes and, except to them, our ears as well, and 
let them lead us to the stall or sty, cinema or circus, that we dream 
of as paradise, as the Garden of Eden. 

Assuming, however, that the spiral of history will continue to 
function, this war may be followed by much the same distaste for 
"enthusiasm" as prevailed in the first half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. 

The translation of the concept "enthusiasm" into recent speech 
has been in Italy idealita and in the Reich more honestly can- 
nibal "the greater Germany," both leading to wars as vile, as 
mean, and as bloody as the religious wars preceding the Treaty 
of Westphalia. 

I do not expect that all enthusiasm will disappear. Some of it 
certainly will accrue to the benefit of that residuary refuge of the 
soft-minded, the Roman Church, and drops may irrigate the bar- 
ren land of Protestant religiosity. With rare exceptions, members 
of the influential classes will turn toward reasonable ways of look- 
ing at society and its problems, try to discover its pressing needs 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and how to supply them, while endeavoring to make political 
questions rationally intelligible to all members of the community, 
teaching them what are its problems, and which the most promis- 
ing solutions. 

Rationalism in ethics and politics is necessarily optimistic, for 
it believes that the effort to improve avails. It will instinctively 
give attention to the elements of goodness in things as evil as 
original sin has made us. The cumulative effect of finding so much 
gentleness, humanity, and good sense in the common people 
objects of aversion and disgust hitherto led to the sentimentality 
that found its voice and its advocate in Rousseau. Its rising tide 
carried the ruling classes back to enthusiasm, as manifested in the 
French Revolution, followed by the Napoleonic Wars. 

Those years a bare quarter of a century were succeeded by 
as many of divided interest: the ruling classes, as exemplified in 
Metternich, Charles X, and the Vatican tending toward a cold, 
dry, and restrictive outlook on society and politics, while the ro- 
mantic intellectuals reacted indignantly and created the liberal- 
ism of the middle decades of the nineteenth century. 

Dare we hope that the period of rational politics which we may 
expect after this war will not be followed by a wave of senti- 
mentality, ending in another tidal wave of enthusiasm? 

April 28th 

NATIONALISTS keep insisting that the Italian forces which re- 
fused to join the Germans and the recruits that take to the woods 
rather than join the republican colors do not do so because they 
prefer the Allies to the Axis but simply because they have had 
enough of fighting. 

Italian nationalists began as early as the fiasco in Greece to 
speak contemptuously of their countrymen as soldiers; and as the 
Allies were keeping quiet and the Soviets in seeming flight, the 
same nationalists concluded that the Germans were invincible, a 
superior race, a race of heroes, of supermen. Nazi victories kept 
confirming them in this opinion until it became a conviction 



APRIL, 1944 303 

nay, a faith they have not yet given up, nor probably ever will. 

How is it that these nationalists, dreaming as they did of Roman 
glories and the reconquest of its ancient empire how is it that 
they do not realize now, at long last, that with such unwarlike ma- 
terial as they say is furnished by the Italian people, military glory 
and conquests are out of the question; and that they miscalculated 
and led their country not to magnificence, splendor, and world 
exploitation, but to abject defeat? Years ago, before the filibuster- 
ing campaign in Abyssinia, it was reported that Mussolini ejacu- 
lated: "This people will never make good soldiers." Knowing this, 
why did he start a series of wars intended to turn the Mediter- 
ranean into an Italian lake, driving the English off its waters, and 
penning up the French, or even pushing them back to the hinter- 
land of Provence, after expelling them from Africa? 

Surely Renan is right when in the Pretre de Nemi, as already 
quoted here, he says that the worst enemies of a people are those 
who encourage it to dream of glory and magnificence. How dan- 
gerous to trust in Duci, Fiihrers, messiahs, except as Orthodox 
Jews do who forbid human interference and leave all to God. 

* a 

Here in Florence the mood of some, if not all, Germans is ap- 
parently not cheery. Officers up from the south do not hesitate to 
declare that the Allies deliberately mark time and do not come 
forward. The same Allies will fight desperately to win a certain 
position and after hours abandon it. 

The common soldiers in their Soldatenheim soldier's home 
speak of decapitating Hitler and shooting Mussolini. 

The Germans are getting seriously afraid of the bands occupy- 
ing the heights all around. These seem well organized and armed. 
Their soldiers feel no eagerness to meet them, and it is rumored 
that they are thoroughly drenched with spirits before they are 
sent out. 



304 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



April 2gth 

THE SENSE of antecedent probability is the sixth sense. We are 
not born with it as with the five senses, but acquire it through 
education and training, experience and practice. Every mature 
person uses this sense in his job as well as in whatever else inter- 
ests him deeply and uninterruptedly. 

Here is an instance. The late R. van Marie, the author of some 
twenty volumes on Italian painting, was asked during the First 
World War to replace, at a few hours' notice, a friend who was 
going to give a lecture on bees. He did so, and observed that one 
of his auditors kept jumping up again and again as if startled out 
of his wits. The lecture no sooner over than this individual came 
forward and, introducing himself as a beekeeper, wanted to know 
whence the lecturer had drawn his facts. Van Marie confessed 
that he got them out of Maeterlinck. 

You may say this was a case of professional knowledge. If you 
like, but it also proves that the beekeeper's sense of antecedent 
probability, acquired through experience, did not prevent his ad- 
mitting the bare possibility that Van Marie's statements might 
have something in them. He would have been ready to discuss 
them, although the conclusion would not have been far off. 

Most cases of antecedent probability are less obvious than the 
one just cited. They are dimmer, vaguer, more diffused, harder 
to substantiate. Take my own case. 

An Italian picture is put under my nose and I am told it is a 
Leonardo, a Raphael, a Titian, a Botticelli, as happens often 
enough. My sixth sense, that is to say my previous experience of 
the painter in question, runs to the window, as it were, to see, and 
almost immediately decides for or against the attribution. 

Many years ago in Washington a picture was shown to me as 
by Raphael, and I turned it down without a moment's hesitation. 
It created a scandal: that I was so hasty in my judgment, did not 
take time, did not submit the painting to an elaborate analysis, 
etc., etc. 



APRIL, 1944 305 

While there are works of art sufficiently close to the masters to 

j 

whom they are ascribed to be a thorn in the side of a scholar for 
years, and even for his lifetime, in most cases his sense of ante- 
cedent probability saves him from doubt and the need of further 
investigation. 

But miseducation can do as much as education to establish a 
sense of antecedent probability. It can do it all the swifter as it 
does not count on experience and firsthand knowledge but on 
mere statement, so oft repeated that it gets fixed in the memory 
like a jingle, like Mark Twain's at one time universally known 
"Punch, brothers, punch." It answers to the well-known saying 

of the Duchess in Alice: "What I sav three times is true." The 

j 

sort of misinformation now called "bourrage de crane" ( Michelet 
spoke of it as vaccination against the recognition of facts, and our 
Josh Billings as filling heads with "things that ain't so") estab- 
lishes a sixth sense that makes its possessors capable of seeing 
only what that sense permits them to believe probable. 

The domains where a miseducated sixth sense has the easiest 
time finding the greatest abundance of tasty food for its preju- 
dices and furies are religion and politics, particularly in time like 
ours, when it is far from easy to keep them apart, so closely are 
they intertwined. 

I recall that during the First World War English and French 
dailies were sold at all newsstands in Germany. There was no 
danger that the average Hohenzollern subject would believe a 
word that did not accord with his sense of antecedent probability. 
That had been seen to by propaganda against England as the 
chief criminal. A series of deliberate calumnies first forged by 
Jesuits against Queen Elizabeth, taken up by the Spaniards of 
Philip II, then by the French of Louis XIV, and enlarged as well 
as intensified by Napoleon were forced, cut and dried, into the 
politically anticritical mind of the good and true Teuton. Then, 
as so much more now, everything that could or might reach him 
from the other side was only "an English lie." 

Anti-British propaganda has not only affected Germany, where 
it has been rife for the last sixty years, or Spain, where it has been 



306 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

preached for nearly four centuries, but Italy in a measure un- 
expected; seeing that it has been applied only since Mussolini's 
plebeian fury over the sanctions against his rape of Abyssinia, 
and considering how much friendship with England had been, 
ever since the Risorgimento, a principle of Italian policy. There 
was an old rhyme: Con tutti guerra salvo con Flnghilterra. The 
people who have acquired this perverted sixth sense smell out 
anything told by the Allies, unless indeed it is in accord with 
Axis news, as bugie inglesi English lies; and nothing from an 
Allied source will convince them. They will have to be re-edu- 
cated, and given another sixth sense, more open to facts as facts 
at least our facts. 

I could fill volumes with instances from Germany, Italy, and 
Spain, not to speak of France and French Switzerland, of people 
in this as well as in the last war whom no arguments, no display 
of facts could move. It goes to prove the eighteenth-century 
rhyme: "A man convinced against his will/is of the same opinion 
still." 

I will cite but one further instance. We were at Madrid in the 
winter of igid-igi/. One evening we went to have tea with pas- 
sionately reactionary, ultra-Catholic acquaintances. My wife, who 
had just joined me from London, was asked whether people there 
were not starving, whether there was no lack of water, whether 
Londoners still had gas and electricity. My wife assured them 
that three or four days previously they were suffering from no 
such privations, although of course they could not enjoy the abun- 
dance of prewar days. Our Spanish friends looked pitifully in- 
credulous. 

April soth 

I HAVE FOLLOWED the Nazi press ever since the beginning of 
this war. Never have the Germans attacked. They made war on 
Poland to save hundreds of thousands of their brethren from 
being massacred by Slav savages. They made war on Russia be- 
cause they knew that the Soviets were on the point of attacking 



APRIL, 1944 

them. As for England and France, it was they who started hostili- 
ties; and it was only to defend them against destruction from the 
Allies that the Nazis occupied Norway and Denmark, Holland 
and Belgium. If some stupid and treacherous persons in those 
small countries conspired against their German protectors, they 
had to be dealt with and at times rather harshly. 

Look at the aims of the Nazis and those of their opponents. The 
former are fighting to establish a reigti of peace and good will in 
Europe to begin with, and on the rest of the earth later. They 
meanwhile have the greatest regard for occupied territories, car- 
ing infinitely for their welfare to the extent that the necessities 
of defense against inexorable enemies will permit. The Germans 
are bleeding, not to death they hope, but bleeding to protect the 
European part of Europe from Slav bestiality, Yankee imperial- 
ism, and English lust for power. And what are these fighting for, 
if not to destroy the Reich and reduce its population to slavery 
and famine, to be trod under the boot of the Soviets, oppressed 
by the haughty and arrogant Briton, and exploited by the Yankee- 
Jew? Surely no good and true German will fail to see whither his 
approval, his devotion, his affection should be directed. 

The good and true reader of the Volkischer Beobachter, the 
Mtinchener Neusten Nachrichten, the Berlin Borsen- and All- 
gemeine Zeitung, the Kolnische Zeitung, the Hamburger Frem- 
^jdenblatt (to name those I most frequently peruse) will under- 
stand, when this war is over, that he has been beaten but will not 
believe that justice, humanity, and civilization gave us the man- 
date to beat him. He will remain soreheaded, morose, more than 
ever believing in force has it not overwhelmed him! and plot- 
ting in his heart, as so many Germans after the last war, to get 
force on his side. 

One of the chief afterwar problems will be how to convince 
this good and true German victim of Nazi propaganda that it was 
our bounden duty to keep making war on him, no matter at what 
cost and what suffering, until his rulers stopped behaving like 
the neolithic cannibals that in their twentieth-century jargon 
they boasted of being. 



308 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

It will be no easy task. To bamboozle is not easy, to debam- 
boozle is almost impossible. This phrase of Maynard Keynes, ap- 
plied to President Wilson, is as true not only of Germans but of 
Spaniards and Italians in this war. I fear there is nothing to be 
done with grownups but to let them die off. We must concentrate 
effort on young people, and see to it that our version of events 
reaches them in detail, and in the most convincing terms. We 
cannot prevent their parents* trying to rouse them to revenge. In 
the schools at least let them be taught our version of the story. 

Propaganda is but one of the means, and the grossest, of pro- 
ducing a sense of antecedent probability in envisaging events and 
interpreting information. There are others, scarcely less effective 
in intervening between us and actuality. Education as distinct 
from training should endeavor to emancipate us from this kind of 
tyranny. 

Even as I was writing this, I received the last German papers. 
They speak complacently of having put three hundred thousand 
Jews into concentration camps in recently occupied parts of Hun- 
gary. Old and young, men, women, and children, none excepted 
but physicians and apothecaries. Then the Nazi papers boast of all 
that is being done to de-Judaize business and professions of every 
kind in Hungary. 

May 22d 

THE SLOPES OF ETNA afford landscapes enchanting to the eye 
as well as to every other sense. In their season the fragrance of 
orange and lemon blossoms is almost overpowering. The wheat 
grown there is of such excellence that it is held too good for local 
consumption and exported abroad even out of Italy. In every re- 
spect this region is a garden of the Lord, a paradise. Not only 
materially but spiritually it is the heart of Sicily. Catania, its 
center, is the intellectual capital of the entire island. Its university 
is one of the best in Italy. It has been the home of Verga, the 
great novelist, the adopted home of De Roberto, whose Vicere, in 
the opinion of Edith Wharton no mean judge of the novel 



MAY, 1944 309 

should rank with the highest literary achievements of the last 
century, as the most creative Italian romance after Manzoni's 
Promessi SposL 

Once in every fifty years or so this Eden, this paradise, is visited 
by destruction. Etna vomits torrents of lava which overwhelm the 
countryside, and belches up clouds of cinders which cover it 
with a sinister snowfall. Farms, villages, towns, cities, are burnt 
and buried, thousands perish. 

Undiscouraged, the inhabitants of this region begin all over 
again, as we do after so relatively mild an "act of God" as a winter 
blizzard. Forgetting Etna's rages, or believing that they will not 
return in their day, they go to work and enjoy the exercise of 
their functions as if nothing could disturb or interrupt, let alone 
put an untimely end to them. 

So with future persecutions of the Jews as by Hitler defined. 
They may occur again and again, and even be worse than the 
present one, which is the most violent and destructive in the three 
thousand years and more of Hebrew history. This time many have 
been able to escape to countries the Nazis could not reach. Where 
would they flee to from America, for instance, or from a world 
state where the entire earth would be subject to the same decree? 

Life itself is, as Victor Hugo put it, a death sentence with an 
indefinite reprieve. Death is always imminent. A friend seldom 
leaves me for more than an hour without my wondering whether 
I shall see him again. And I refer to periods of steeped peaceful- 
ness, not to the man-quaky conditions of today. Nevertheless we 
do not long for "easeful death" to put an end to our anguish and 
fear of dying. Christians or Jews, we no longer canalize all our 
energies toward making a pious end, but "enjoy weeping in this 
vale of tears." 

May 23$, 

So, ALTHOUGH I do not believe in the likelihood of a satisfactory 
end to anti-Semitism within our historical horizon, and can offer 
but the coldest comfort to the victims of the present outburst of 



31O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

the Furor Teutoniciis, I can promise the Jews pleasant intervals 
between massacres and, further, that these intervals may be ex- 
tended. The conditions under which for so many centuries the 
Jew has had to live have endowed him with unusual zest and 
capacities for life. Let him use them, yet "walk in the fear of the 
Lord." If only he can avoid waxing fat and kicking like the Deu- 
teronomist's Jeshurum and worse still kicking the inferior of his 
own "race" while cringing and fawning on his non-Jewish social 
superiors, and bribing his way into their society with expensive 
gifts and lavish entertainments! 

The Jew still has a mission. This word I must let go at its cur- 
rent value. To discuss the contradictions implied in the attempt 
to define it, unless indeed one accepts it as appointed by divine 
providence, would carry me too far and involve me in fruitless 
controversy. The Jew's first mission was to give the white race its 
religion. Christianity is detribalized Judaism in nearly everything 
but its Neoplatonic and Gnostic theology. Its expansion over the 
earth is the fulfillment of prophecy. It is so much the Jewish 
dream of spiritual dominion come true that in a future not too 
distant it may be hard to believe that Judaism and Christianity 
were not the same religion, answering to the evolving needs of 
successive ages. Strange that the contemporary Jew takes no 
pride in an achievement the effects of which surpass those at- 
tained by Greece and Rome together! 

In the future he should cultivate the qualities that anti-Drey- 
fusards and other anti-Semites have reproached him with. He 
should not identify himself with the rest of the nation in its chau- 
vinism, in its overweening self-satisfaction, self-adulation, and 
self -worship. He should be in every land the element that keeps 
up standards of human value and cultivates a feeling for propor- 
tion and relations. He should be supernational as the Roman 
Church claims to be. Who blames the Church for being so, ex- 
cept mad anti-Papists? The pity of it is that its hold on the gov- 
erning classes, and even on its clergy, from archbishops and bishops 
down, is not strong enough to cope with their nationalism. For 



MAY, 1Q44 311 

instance: \fussolinfs filibustering expedition against Abyssinia 
enjoyed the enthusiastic approval of the Italian clergy and, I 
fear, of Pope Pius XI himself. 

The Jew should try to check stampedes of opinion and mitigate 
mass movements of animal fury. Thereby he would prove himself 
a patriot; for patriotism, it cannot be too often repeated, signifies 
love of our country, whereas nationalism teaches the hatred of 
other countries. There the German Jew sinned. Who wrote the 
hymn of hate against "Engelland" at the outbreak of the last war? 
A German Jew. Who tried to get to America with a film display- 
ing faked British atrocities? Another German Jew. Who encour- 
aged the Emperor William in his naval and colonial ambitions? 
Again a Jew, Ballin, who, however, had the pluck to kill himself 
when he realized what it led to. The German press was, to a con- 
siderable degree, in the hands of Jews. Did they do anything 
to stem and check militarism, imperialism, annexationism? Who 
whipped the dogs of war more than the Jew Harden? Who 
preached nationalism more than the Jewish editor of the Magde- 
burger Zeitung? Who served German propaganda and intrigue 
in neutral countries during the last war better than that editor's 
brother, both bearing an illustrious rabbinical name? 

Most of the German Jews I myself have met or known through 
others were fanatical nationalists and remained so as prosperous 
immigrants in America, Until we went into the First World War 
many of them, far and beyond anything done by non-Jews, made 
propaganda for the Reich and organized every species of assist- 
ance that our easygoing laws tolerated. Even since the triumph 
of Hitler, there have been Jews who have let themselves be de- 
clared "edel-Arier" honorary Aryans so as to serve the Nazis 
with might and main. What insanity on the part of Hitler to have 
combined his (or his people's) passion for power with an exter- 
minating war against the Jews! In all Europe, except perhaps 
France and England, in nearer Asia as well as in our country, not 
a few might have been his propagandists, his defenders, his help- 
ers. 



312 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 



May 26th 

THE JEW WHO, soul and body, heart and mind, has got away 
from the ghetto and acquired the methods of up-to-date science, 
scholarship, and thought along with the mental attitude and ac- 
quisitions that they have achieved, can be more easily dispas- 
sionate and objective than so-called Christians, alias Gentiles, 
alias Aryans, especially in things human, in fields where tradi- 
tional and personal prejudices run wild, like philosophy, history, 
criticism, literature, and art. 

This same Jew has learnt not to resent condescending, sneering, 
or even outrageous remarks about his "fellow scapegoats." He has 
read plays, romances, and novels where the Jew is seldom mani- 
fested as an ordinary citizen. Generally he is described as less 
honest, less sociable, even less kindly, while at other times, though 
rarely enough, he is too good to be true. The same enlightened 
Israelite has learned to appreciate high qualities in literature, or 
merely witty and humorous writers, despite what they bring up 
against his own people. 

In reading history he will appreciate the fine qualities in states- 
manship of a Titus, a Trajan, a Hadrian and of thousands of 
others later who were wolves to Jews. He will even admire the 
political and administrative as well as theological gifts of fero- 
cious Church Fathers like Ambrose of Milan, who was anything 
but a saint to Jews, or of Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria. 
Christian saints, when dealing with Jews or speaking of them, 
have seldom if ever seen anything but their bad qualities and 
odious characteristics. These are so easy to find everywhere in 
every people. For instance, while I am writing this, we who are 
in this war attribute these defects to our adversaries regardless of 
race and religion. Their being so universally applied to the Jew 
does not prove that he monopolizes these faults but only that the 
feeling towards him is still hostile, although not always actively 
so. Excepting Francis of Assisi, it is not easy to discover an emi- 
nent saint who cherished "Christian" feelings toward the Jew. 



MAY, 1944 313 

Men of letters have been almost as prejudiced from first ac- 
quaintance with this intractable people. Even Goethe remained 
cold towards them and received icily Rahel Levin, the person 
who among his own contemporaries did most for his fame and 
popularity. No doubt he could not get over the tales heard from 
nurses and schoolfellows about the denizens of the Judengasse 
of Frankfurt, his home town, denizens of that miserable ghetto 
whence swarmed Rothschilds, Erlangers, and many others down 
to the Blumenthals and Seligmanns of our own day. 

The enlightened Jew has learnt to forget his "own tribesmen" 
when judging of events and persons and literary creations. What 
Frenchman, German, Italian, or even Anglo-Saxon can claim as 
much fairness in deed and word toward enemies of his own na- 
tion! 



May 

AT TIMES I ask myself where lies the difference between the 
enlightened Jew I have been trying to make out as so objective 
to use the word much abused by Germans with their constant 
claims to objectivity and the non-Jews of the same grade. Of 
course I omit mental and moral characteristics of a kind that es- 
cape unprejudiced investigation, whether introspective on the 
part of the Jew himself or studied from the outside by the anthro- 
pologist or ethnologist. 

I would suggest that the chief difference is in the attitude to- 
ward Jesus. The individual brought up as a Christian sucks in 
with his mother's milk a feeling toward Jesus that he never gets 
over, unless, indeed, it is changed to one of half-educated dema- 
gogical revolt. No matter how much he has shaken himself loose 
from the rites and practices of his bringing up, he retains for 
Jesus a tender reverence of love and awe combined, which ren- 
ders him incapable of approaching His personality and career as 
he would approach any other historical figure. 

The enlightened Jew can and does, but with piteous results. 
What would he not give to know everything about this greatest 



314 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and sublimest genius of his race, greatest and sublimest in in- 
fluence, in effects, in results. Were these merely due to chance, 
because the yearning and wishful thinking of the times conjured 
them up out of the mist of confused and confusing religious as- 
pirations, crystallizing around Paul's certainty that Jesus, who 
was crucified and died, had risen from the dead, and thereby, in 
a world hungry for the afterlife, assured survival for every man? 

There certainly was more, as can be guessed rather than per- 
ceived from the Gospel narratives. Sad it is that the synoptic ones 
the fourth scarcely counts in this connection are but the 
murky record of what struck the humble intelligence of Galilean 
villagers and fishermen. They believed in Him for his cures and 
miracles, and were simple enough to desert Him when these 
failed, yet to return when convinced that He had risen from the 
dead. Of His aspirations, His qualities of mind and heart, His 
teaching, His sublime irony, they who saw Him as through a 
glass darkly, understanding Him only as one possessed of a 
power a barakah, as the Moslem calls it spoke to others who 
probably had not known or even seen Him, in a way that has 
come down to us in the Gospels. They allow us to see Jesus as we 
decipher a stained-glass figure seen not from within but from out 
of doors. 

If only Jesus, like Socrates, had had a Plato among His listeners! 

Yet the sayings reported, few and contradictory as they are, 
suffice to make one marvel. He who had on the one hand such 
penetrating and clear-eyed insight into human nature, and on the 
other such freedom from prejudice, such a sense of values, and of 
all that man needed to be completely humanized, must have been 
beyond what any Jew had known or seen before Him; must have 
been the fulfiller of the law and the prophets in so far as they 
were spiritual and not tribal. What would one not give for a life 
of Him written by a contemporary Israelite, an enlightened Phar- 
isee or an unworldly Sadducee. We hunger and thirst to know of 
His origins and childhood; for neither the fairy tales of the Gos- 
pels nor the rough folkloristic anecdotes of the "Gospel of the 
Infancy" come anywhere near to satisfying us. We want to know 



MAY, 1944 315 

about His boyhood and youth. Did He impress the Temple with 
His wondrous precocity, and if He did, how was it that they lost 
sight of Him? Then the years before His brief activity begins 
how were they spent, under what influence did He come while 
in Galilee? Did He know the Greeks and had He an inkling of 
their ways of thinking? And what really happened toward the 
end? 

We have Hebrew and Aramaic records of messianic apparitions 
nearly contemporary with His. If He alone deserved death at the 
hands of both Temple and Synagogue, He must have been more 
alarming. Why, then, this stillness, this Totschweigen, as the Ger- 
man has it, about Him? Jewish lore, whether doctrinal, biograph- 
ical, or legendary, betrays not a single trustworthy reference to 
Him that is not centuries later. 

The explanation must be that Jesus was regarded as a national 
danger for preaching doctrines that Temple and Synagogue rec- 
ognized as harmful to their faith and opposed to their interests. 
Their faith, against which Jesus seems to have rebelled, was a 
narrowly tribal one, consisting mainly of rites, ordinances, usages, 
and practices that would isolate the Jew and prevent his being 
assimilated by the Gentiles as the "lost ten tribes" had been. 
Their interests lay in the moneys brought by pilgrims to the an- 
nual feasts, as well as those collected by apostles sent out for that 
purpose to every land where Jews dwelt, lands covering not only 
the Roman Empire but beyond. 

Parenthetically, let me explain that "apostles" went abroad to 
gather what the Synagogue's daughter, the Holy Roman Church, 
came to call "Peter's pence." Even Paul, in order to justify him- 
self before the surviving disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem, had to 
claim that he was serving in that capacity. Preaching was inciden- 
tal, but Paul took every advantage of the opportunity offered him 
by his apparent mission to speak of his visions, ideas, and aspira- 
tions. The real basis for the rapid growth of Christianity was not, 
as writers since Augustine have believed, the existence of the 
Roman Empire but the ubiquity of the Jew in and out of the Em- 
pire. 



316 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

To return to Jesus and the constituted authorities in Jerusalem, 
these could have had no reason for getting rid of Him unless He 
held and published doctrines that were opposed to their tribal 
faith and their money interests. It is probable that Jesus Himself 
did not realize the bearing of His mission as clearly as His per- 
secutors did. To them it must have meant that He intended to de- 
stroy the Temple, and to by-pass Mosaism as a religion merely 
tribe-preserving. The events proved that they were right. 

There may have been another reason besides for the way the 
Synagogue ignored Jesus. I do not have in mind the fear its doc- 
tors may have had of hostile ears and eyes. There were Jews in 
numbers beyond the reach of the Church Fathers who guided and 
governed the ex-Roman Empire. Under Parthian, followed by 
Sassanian and succeeded by Mohammedan rulers, they could 
safely have published what they pleased. Yet we discover no 
word, no sign betraying acquaintance with the historical Jesus, 
scarcely with His name, in the Babylonian Talmud, the most im- 
portant of all rabbinical writings. 

The second cause for this deliberate ignoring may have been 
the horror felt by the Synagogue at the attempt, following so soon 
after His death, to deify Jesus. It began with Galileans and was 
greatly advanced by a citizen of Hellenic Tarsus, named Saul and 
afterwards Paul, all of them influenced, no matter how indirectly 
and how unconsciously, by contact with Greeks. Hellenes had al- 
ways been ready to declare divine the unknown fathers of 
princely mothers. One of them, Euhemerus, taught that all the 
gods were deified historical figures. Hellenistic rulers assumed 
godhead without shocking opinion. Later on Roman emperors, 
first at their demise and then in their lifetime, were deified and 
worshiped as gods practically if not theologically, for to all 
but a few the genius of the emperor was the emperor. 

The Jew, unless strongly influenced by Gentiles, never deified 
not even his most revered teachers, prophets, guides, and war- 
riors; not even Moses, not even Joshua, not even David, not even 
Elijah. On the contrary, if we may trust the scholarship of the last 
hundred years, the Israelite's instinctive tendency was in the op- 



MAY, 1944 317 

posite direction, to reduce gods to men, as he did with his patri- 
archs, as he did with Samson.* 

The Jew returning from the Babylonian captivity brought with 
him such a horror of the blasphemous claim of a mortal to god- 
head that he was ready to submit to martyrdom rather than to 
pay divine honors to a creature of flesh and blood, no matter how 
powerful, how exalted. The horror increased with time. The wise 
Roman understood this, and exonerated the Jew from the worship 
of the emperor's genius to which all other inhabitants of the Em- 
pire were subjected. 

Imagine, then, what the deeply religious Jew must have felt 
when the individual who had proposed detribalizing Judaism, 
and consequently was crucified, began to be worshiped as a god 
by His followers, and identified with Jehovah. A blasphemy so 
revolting that it could only be met with total silence. 

And so to this day, ready as it is to annex every individual that 
it can claim, Jewry has not yet turned toward Jesus. 



May 

I COULD WISH that some rich Jews would turn away from showy 
altruism and establish a school for the study of Judeo-Christian 
relations from the birth of Jesus the Galilean to our day; the be- 
havior of Jewry to the emergent Church, and the reaction of this 
Church from its cradle to its full growth, its many centuries of 
monopolistic splendor, rising too often to arrogance, and its break- 
ing up into numbers of sects, whereof the Church of Rome, al- 
though by far the most dominant, is yet but one. 

Seldom, I fear, would the publications of these scholars be 
pleasant reading. In their books, these scholars should avoid Ger- 

*In this connection let me quote in paraphrase from the Selbstgesprache of 
Heinrich Homberger, p. 81: "What makes Jews distasteful to demigods like Liszt, 
Wagner and Co., is beyond question that they have no awe for them. They feel 
that the Jew sees through them to their earthenness, that m short they are found 
out to be mere mortals." 

So in Jewish legend Moses had to escape from Egypt not because he had slain 
an Egyptian but because he had happened to see Pharaoh satisfying the call of 
nature, which, as a god, the same Pharaoh pretended not to be subject to. 



318 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

man-mindedness and write as French and English historians used 
to write, before they too were enmeshed in Teutonic philology. 
They should write for every well-educated person to read and not 
merely to exercise their own faculties of acumen and subtlety 
while displaying prodigies of learning in the presence of fellow 
athletes. 

If not pleasant, it would be instructive reading; and by explain- 
ing what reaction followed what action, it might go far toward 
removing misunderstandings, perhaps might end with inducing 
the Papists and Orthodox to insist in their myth and ritual less 
and less on the passion and death of their founder, the root of so 
much anti-Semitism implanted in the preconscious minds of in- 
nocent infants.* The cry of Los von Rom, of qui nous delwrera 
des Grecs et des Romains, precursors of German Nazism and 
French collaborationism, may again and again threaten everything 
that in our civilization comes from both the classical and Hebrew 
worlds. We shall have to pass over differences in order to save 
with Christianity that heritage of the Mediterranean past which 
modern barbarians resent as bitterly as ever Kleist's Hermann did. 



May 

IT WOULD NOT BE FAIR to end without a word about assimila- 
tion, It is inevitable. The emancipated Jew will not return of his 
free will to a mental and spiritual ghetto, nor can he be forced to 
it. The Jew still remaining in this ghetto aspires to get away un- 
less his mediocrity, petty ambitions, material interests, or indeed 
his nationalistic religiosity keeps him there. Out in the world, he 
finds it increasingly irksome to follow the isolating, antisocial pre- 
cepts and ordinances concerning food, clothing, ritual, cleanli- 
ness, and sexual life, and no less difficult to follow the nobler en- 
actments regarding worship and the study of the Torah. He ends 
by compromising with his religious habits, usages, and beliefs, 

* A good start toward the goal has been made by James Parker in two readable 
and informing books, published by the Soncino Press, London: The Conflict of the 
Church and the Synagogue, 1934, and The Jew in the Mediaeval Community, 1938. 



MAY, 1944 31 g 

and dropping them one by one, till little is left except a vague 
Deism. 

At the beginning of the Nazi persecutions of the Jews, one of 
the most reputed German-Jewish intellectuals told me that it 
would take another two thousand years before complete assimila- 
tion could take place. On the other hand, a remarkably intelligent 
German gentlewoman assured me that it would have happened 
before the end of the present century if only Hitler had not 
started his mad campaign. 

There have been and there may be again Hitlers not only with- 
out but within Jewry. The Synagogue that maltreated Uriel da 
Costa and Spinoza at Amsterdam was composed of so many little 
Hitlers. A true precursor of Hitler in preventing assimilation was 
the prophet Elijah. A rather open-minded king of Israel, Ahab 
by name, wedded a Tyrian who not only did not worship the 
tribalized Jehovah but brought with her a civilization at least 
materially higher, and tried to induce her husband to adopt it. 
Against this threat of assimilation, Elijah with his young dervishes 
raged furiously, rousing the backwoodsmen to revolt and to mur- 
der Jezebel. The worst they had to tell of her was the story of 
Naboth's vineyard. I ask what would happen nowadays to an in- 
dividual who stood against the sovereign in the way Naboth did? 

Elijah's nationalism did not avail. The northern tribes were too 
closely related to their Phoenician brothers and Aramaic cousins 
in blood, in speech, in thought, in feeling, to escape the lure of 
their more attractive ways of life. Soon their existence as an inde- 
pendent state was put an end to. The politically minded were 
dragged to Assyria and there for the most part disappeared, dis- 
solved into the kindred population. Of the remainder the more 
enterprising must have gone over to the Sidonians and Tyrians, 
contributing who shall tell how much to the building up of Car- 
thage, to the splendor and misery of Semitic power in the West- 
ern Mediterranean. The others remained on the land and became 
the Samarians, who until the sixth century were a numerous com- 
munity scattered over the Empire like their brothers, the Jews. 
Between them fraternal hatred raged. 



32O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The Judeans meanwhile clung to their rocks jutting up between 
the Dead Sea and the lowland. They were comparatively safe 
from intrusion, and as late as the fifth century B.C., Herodotus, 
who took such an interest in Egypt and Persia and all that lay be- 
tween, did not know of their existence, neither their tribal name 
nor the name of their city, Jerusalem. And yet he may have trav- 
eled over the road connecting the two empires that passed almost 
within sight of that same city. Foreign influence touched them 
too little to prevent their integrating into a close-knit commu- 
nity, impenetrable and impermeable. Even when they too lost 
their independence, and their leading families were dragged into 
captivity, many returned from Babylon and established the Tem- 
ple state a political entity not rare in Syria and Asia Minor 
that lasted till the destruction of Jerusalem and did not wholly 
perish before the second-century rebellion of Bar-Cochba and its 
bitter consequences. 

But were these Judeans Israelites? In the farewell address put 
by the Deuteronomist into the mouth of Moses so little is made 
of Judea that its mention seems like an afterthought prefixed 
later. Deborah in her glorious song does not name it at all. They 
may have been latecomers, surging from the Arabian desert and 
not taking easily to city civilization. Among them Elijah's fanati- 
cal tribalism prevailed, producing a ghetto state from which 
emerged the Judaism that, for good or for evil, has had a "dy- 
namic" formative influence on the white man's world which is 
still operative and likely to be so for many years to come. 

Persecution from without did much more than compulsion, that 
is to say persecution within to prevent assimilation. But for the 
violent impatience of Antiochus Epiphanes there would have 
been no Judas Maccabaeus, and Hellenism might have made 
sufficient headway to affect the history of the entire white race. 
Incipient rabbinical Judaism might have been far too enfeebled 
to beget two daughters like Christianity and Islam. 

Although arrested, assimilation was not killed. I suspect that 
not only the Books of Wisdom in the Bible were done under Hel- 
lenic influence, but that even prose masterpieces like Esther, 



MAY, 1944 

Ruth, and Tobit, so im-Semitie in form, were written by Hel- 
lenized Jews. In Alexandria Philo's head was turned by Plato, 
the metaphysical, theosophic Plato, the mystagogue Plato, not the 
delicate ironist and poetical visionary, the ethical and political 
thinker and king of prose writers. Called to book by his mental 
habits, that is to say his conscience, or perchance by tribal bonzes, 
Philo made the acrobatic attempt to reconcile his Platonism with 
Judaism, and foisted on the world not only the allegorical inter- 
pretation of the Bible but the "Logos" and a cloud of ever more 
misty thought connected with that alluring word. It should be 
remembered that without them Christian theology could scarcely 
have taken the senseless shape it has, regardless of the Jesus of 
the Gospels, and in opposition to His spirit. It was Philo's applica- 
tion of allegory to the Old Testament that enabled the Church 
Fathers to oust the Chosen People from their inheritance and to 
assert that they, the Christians, were the true Israel. The rapid 
expansion of Pauline and Hellenistic Christianity and the opposi- 
tion encountered in the Synagogue led to cruel hatred on both 
sides; and then, on the victory of the Church, to legislation that 
limited the Jews' activities, confined them more and more, and 
finally cooped them up in ghettoes. There they festered and by 
the end of the eighth century persecution had reduced them to 
such isolation, not obligatory, but self-imposed, that they would 
not even use the Greek or Latin alphabet as hitherto but wrote 
their vernacular in Chaldaic or in cursive Aramaic, as still in our 
day is the case with Yiddish. For a thousand years to come the 
ghettoes in Christian lands would not permit acquaintance with 
the Latin character. As late as towards the end of the eighteenth 
century Salomon Maimon, wishing to acquire it, had to have re- 
course to Robinson Crusoe expedients. 

And yet the outer world seeped in and the ghetto oozed with 
Neoplatonic, Gnostic and Manichaean notions some of which 
got coagulated and shaped into the Zohar and other cabalistic 
writings while many a Catholic superstition and practice found 
its way into the Jewish home. 

How much more difficult for the Jew out of the ghetto to re- 



322 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

main uninfluenced by the civilization of the people about him! 
If he uses their language he cannot avoid its reaction on his mind 
and heart. This language is based on Christianity, as, of course, 
Is the rest of our civilization. Every practice as well as every law, 
every ethical standard, every attitude toward our fellow men is 
based on Christianity or colored by it. No one can escape its 
pervasive, penetrating, absorbing influence. 

The more advanced do not attempt to oppose it. The others 
must follow. Unless persecution retards it, in our country assimi- 
lation cannot be so far away, is in fact already here, although 
more in deed than in name. 

We make as much of Christmas as the rest of our fellow citi- 
zens, and of the other Christian holidays and Sundays scarcely 
less. Unconsciously we follow the customs and folkways of our 
neighbors and, unlike St. Paul, who boasted of being more Jewish 
than other Jews, we aspire to be no less American than other 
Americans. And we genuinely feel so. Even our sewing women 
speak of our "Pilgrim Fathers" as if they were descended from 
them. 

But to be an American or indeed a Briton, Frenchman, or any 
other European, is to be a Christian. Not, of course, as the mem- 
ber of a church or suscriber to a creed or dogma, but as a partici- 
pant of a civilization that we can no more shut out than the air 
we breathe. 

A year or two ago Benedetto Croce published a pamphlet en- 
titled "Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians." It will surely 
appear in English translation before this is published. I recom- 
mend it to my readers. They know that this eminent philosopher, 
literary historian, critic, and interpreter is emancipated from spe- 
cifically Christian theology, prejudices, aspirations, rituals, and 
usages. Yet he feels that he must call himself "Christian." 

I often used to meditate on the fact that before Hitler rendered 
Jew-conscious Yakuts and Tibetans, Kamchatkans and Japanese, 
Javanese and Eskimos, Andaman Islanders and Hindus, it would 
not have occurred to any of these far-flung nations crawling over 
the earth's rind that a European Jew I mean European in the 



JUNE, 1944 

cultural, not in the geographical, sense that a European who 
happened to be a Jew was not a Christian. 

Christianity as the product of European history is inescapable 
unless a ghetto were still to be had. You cannot establish such 
insulators in Western lands. And vet the alternative remains: 

<d> 

complete isolation or assimilation. 

June ist 

WE ARE READING Shakespeare and Racine side by side. I enjoy 
the Frenchman for what he is. But how different! Always the 
heroic, superman, grand, magniloquent, even when declaiming 
and he is always declaiming sentiments of exquisite tenderness 
and subtilty. He never derogates from his statuesque perfection. 
I love the music of his verse and his world freed from physical 
and economic wants and restrictions, a world of people at liberty 
to give vent to their passions with nothing to consider except 
similar qualities in others, as much "above the clouds" as them- 
selves. They give me something of the same sensation that I 
get from Cosimo Turn's pictures only they are not contorted, 
and distorted, and they live in noble architecture more to my 
taste. 

Think of Frenchmen brought up from early years on this heroic 
eloquence. Surely it must falsify values of real life and inspire 
them with rhetorical sentiments that make them incapable of 
looking superpersonal affairs, international affairs, for instance, 
straight in the face. 

Shakespeare, on the other hand, seldom heroizes his characters. 
They remain human, no matter how much raised above other hu- 
man bipeds by situation or individual qualities. The comic, the 
humorous interludes bring one back to workaday existence how- 
ever tragic and superhuman the theme may be. 

But what a puzzle Shakespeare remains! We have now read 
his comedies as well as The Tempest and all the Roman plays ex- 
cept Antony and Cleopatra. They are best when most lyrical 
As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, 



324 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

some scenes in The Merchant of Venice, and others everywhere. 
I cannot understand Shakespeare's inequalities. Coriolanus is so 
dull and Timon so ranting, yet they were composed after Julius 
Caesar and after the great tragedies. How account for such a fall! 
Perhaps Shakespeare was sick and tired. 

As must have been the case with Dickens when he wrote the 
Tale of Two Cities, which we are finishing. It is rant, sob-stuff, 
and bad Carlylese throughout, with but few touches of the Dick- 
ens who wrote David Copperfield. 

June 3d 

A MONTH has gone by without my jotting down a word about 
current events and the gossip they exhale, which, let me add, 
suffers no slight "sea change" before it reaches me, It reaches 
others, even those placed near actualities, in shape little more de- 
fined and of closer correspondence to what happened. 

For three weeks no daily or weekly has arrived from Germany. 
I cannot believe that this failure is due to difficulties of trans- 
port only. I have had a letter from Stockholm. It had to cross the 
Reich and its suburbs and yet reached me in ten days. It would 
look as if the Nazis had reason for not wishing their troops in 
Italy to read the press of the Fatherland, and to learn what goes 
on and what is thought there. 

One of the last weeklies that I perused was Das Reich. Therein 
Goebbels, taking as usual the pose of the philosophical historian, 
spoke of the uncertainties of war and that this one had turned 
idiotic, with no reason for going on. But if continued it must be, 
the Germans were ready to defend the Fatherland against the 
Anglo-Saxon mercenaries who were not fighting for their homes, 
their wives, their children, etc., etc. 

Between the lines, one read an appeal to the Allies for a peace 
of compromise. The same desire lies behind the insistence that 
they are ready to carry on the war ten years in short, that they 
will never yield the fortress, Germania. 

Not so long ago they spoke only of the Fortress Europa. Since 



JUNE, 1944 

then it has shrunk a bit, but this dungeon they mean to keep. Yet 
I am told that they are not sure they can. They even speak of 
Soviet troops* sweeping across from the Carpathians to the Rhine. 
Perhaps this fear is cast upon the waters with the intention of its 
infecting with a dread of the Cossack all who live to the west of 
that stream. Again propaganda in favor of compromise. 

The "Atlantic Radio" is generally so jammed that one gets 
little out of it. That little tells of dreadful conditions in Germany 
and growing discontent, even within the Nazi ranks. The wisdom 
of pumping so many foreign workers into the Reich is being ques- 
tioned, as well as the miscellaneous employment of untrained 
women and girls. 

I hear that in Naziland there must be some twenty million for- 
eign laborers and that one seldom hears German spoken in the 
streets. It seems that the most pliable are the Russians, some of 
whom are employed as "noncombatants" on all fronts, as they 
certainly are here in Italy. Next come the French. Of Anglo-Sax- 
ons one never hears. 

Press gangs seize people here too, not only men but women, 
and pack them off to do slave labor in Germany. The Nazis are 
determined to get their one and a half million Italians to replace 
as many Germans for the front. 

When the smash comes, how will these twenty and perhaps 
more than twenty million workers from occupied and satellite 
countries behave? Will there be sufficient police to deal with 
them? Do the Germans rely on their being too reduced by semi- 
starvation and hardships to take action? Or do they count on the 
Allies" occupying their country so quickly that the slaves will have 
no time to organize a vindictive revolt? 

The Germans complain that their Far Eastern twins, the Japa- 
nese, do not prevent Chinese coolies from going by the hundreds 
of thousands to Siberia to replace Russians drawn to the front. I 
wonder how many other coolies work for the Japanese. It would 
be absurd to suppose that the lowest-rank Chinaman had politi- 
cal preferences. 



326 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Meanwhile, here the last call not to dinner, but to arms, com- 
bined with the threat of the death penalty to those who do not 
answer, has resulted in some thirty thousand appearing at the re- 
cruiting stations. They were treated like returned prodigals and 
one case under our notice is characteristic. It is of a youth who 
having been enrolled six months ago had deserted, and was in 
hiding. Tired of remaining cooped up in his room, he answered 
the call of military authorities. They, who a few months ago had 
taken him as fit for the front, now invalided him with the order to 
appear again after 360 days precisely. 

This would give a certain substance to what is said and be- 
lieved by his defenders: that Mussolini has insisted so much on 
getting Italians liable to service into the army, in order to save 
them from being sent as coolies to Germany. I have my doubts, 
seeing a similar apology was offered for his declaring war on 
France. It was to save Italy from being occupied by the Nazis 
and from the consequences of such an occupation as already 
exemplified not only by belligerent countries like France, but by 
one which, like Poland, had not wanted war, or by neutrals like 
Holland and Belgium, which had not so much as dreamt of it. 



The contemptuous attitude of Nazi-minded Italian bourgeois 
toward the bands seems to be unjustified. No doubt many are 
no better than what these moneyed, comfortably situated people 
say. Others are a thorn in the flesh of the occupying troops, 
whether German forces or Fascist riffraff. They help to pull up 
rails, wreck trains, destroy bridges, and they keep in touch with 
the Allies, who, like Elijah's raven, supply them not only with 
money but with arms and ammunition for defense, receiving in 
exchange precise information about Nazi-Fascist doings. These 
bands fight when necessary, and I understand that the Germans 
are far from sharing the contempt for them that some Italians ex- 
press. 

A German press agent has been here and, speaking of the Al- 
lied bombings of Germany, insisted that they are largely done to 



JUNE, 1944 327 

terrify. Then he went on to explain them on the ground that An- 
glo-Saxons were convinced that a German policy of terror can be 
defeated and destroyed only by proving that it could be out- 
trumped by superior terror. 

The same press attache said that American prisoners cannot 
be made to answer questions about fighting or war. Not so much 
out of reticence as lack of interest. The war has to be fought to 
an end; but their preoccupation is only with what is to happen 
afterwards, how work will be found for thirty million now en- 
gaged in war industries, not to speak of how, when returned to 
strictly economic conditions, they are to be cured of the wasteful 
habits there acquired. 

For the last weeks the numerous poor in Rome have lived on 
the edge of starvation, as no supplies could reach the town, iso- 
lated as it was by American aviation rendering traffic, whether 
by rail or road, too dangerous to be attempted. 

To such a degree rises the Italo-Nazi cult of the German forces 
that their retreats south of Rome are described as voluntary, occa- 
sioned by deeper insight into the strategic problem, never as con- 
sequence of the enemy's superiority. Why should I be surprised, 
I who remember reading some years after the last war, in one of 
the most respected Italian dailies, that Caporetto was the greatest 
victory of that war? How this was argued I cannot recall. It suf- 
fices that it was declared with no paradoxical and no comic inten- 
tion, in a responsible organ of Italian public opinion, 

June 5th 

YESTERDAY Rome was evacuated by the Germans, whose radio 
boasts of this forced retreat as a great victory. A few days ago 
they were still insisting that Rome must be held at all costs. Mili- 
tary necessity required it, and prestige demanded it prestige 
of which they know so well the value. But Hitler, the completest 
cynic who ever ruled, knows that his subjects do not recall today 
what he insisted upon yesterday, and that he can safely urge at 
this hour the opposite of what he said four and twenty hours ago. 



328 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

When Mussolini declared war against the United States, it 
seemed fantastic that Italy should be making war against us who 
never had stood in its way, never opposed its interests, never did 
worse than sending our heiresses to enrich the penniless gentry, 
and our tourists to spend their money here. At home we received 
them and treated them fully as well as other immigrants. More- 
over, when Fascism was young it took American methods for its 
model, sought our friendship and found it, and some of its most 
showy measures were taken to impress us, as for instance trains 
that arrived on time, roads made fit for fast driving, museums free 
of charge, Herculaneum to be excavated, etc., etc. 

All this went by the board in Mussolini's theatrical rage against 
the British, unaware that in the present historical horizon 
America would not fail to run to the aid of an England in danger. 

And now, more incredible still, American and British troops, 
after beating the toughest, most highly trained, most expert army 
the world has ever seen, are marching in triumph through the 
streets of Rome, "the Holy City," as the godless Fascists have had 
the impudence to call it. 

Mussolini has decreed three days' mourning, despite the Nazi 
pretense that they freely abandoned Rome, a burden they were 
happy to unload on the Allies. 

The Roman population seems to be of another mind. Much 
cheering, hugging, smothering with flowers is of course the trib- 
ute that a Mediterranean crowd offers to any conqueror. The ma- 
jority, however, has welcomed them as liberators from abuses, 
from oppression, from torture, not to speak of fast-approaching 
starvation. It is rumored but denied by the Nazi-minded that 
jubilating Romans packed full the Square of St. Peter and were 
blessed by His Holiness. I can believe it. He too must feel re- 
lieved; for to the last minute he risked being dragged captive to 
Germany. 

As the end of Nazi-Fascist tyranny approaches, it grows more 
and more beastly and wicked. Credible accounts reach me of re- 
volting tortures, physical as well as moral, that they inflict. The 
boss of the Arezzo district seems to have been the worst yet. Even 



JUNE, 1944 329 

defenders of the Mussolinian faith acknowledge this, but add 
boastfully that he has been transferred. Yes. Nobody left to wreak 
himself on, he has gone to fresh woods and pastures new. 

At the same time equally credible reports come through of 
thoroughly trained, completely equipped, well-organized groups, 
waiting for the signal to act against Nazis and Quislings. It would 
make me happy if Tuscans proved able to rouse themselves from 
their lethargy and "do their bit" in freeing themselves from the 
corrupting, un-manning and dehumanizing rule under which they 
have cowered and quaked for over twenty years. 

June 6th 

THE GERMAN RADIO brings news of Allied landings in the estu- 
ary of the Seine, as well as on the Cherbourg peninsula. 

No doubt an infantry and artillery invasion of the Fortress Ger- 
mania and its outer defenses is necessary to convince people who 
believe in bayonets and cannons only, that the Anglo-Saxons too 
can use these obsolescent arms. 

As for me, I am more than ever of the opinion that for free 
people, like ours, the air is the most suitable and effective arm. 
Our young men are natural mechanics, are sportsmen to a dare- 
devil degree. They should be encouraged to volunteer in aerial 
forces; and these should be sufficiently strong and ready to inspire 
fear in the hearts of future Hitlers, not to speak of verbal warriors 
like Mussolini. We could then guarantee Abyssinias, Albanias, Po- 
lands, Hellenic kingdoms against aggression and nobody so rash 
as to beard us. If the Anglo-Saxons had had five years ago the air 
armies they have now, would Hitler have ventured his throw? He 
made it because he relied on his mastery of the air. Neither he nor 
his chum Goring knew what they were doing. As a matter of fact, 
"Unser Hermann" seems to have retired from war and politics, 
and to be devoting himself to collecting works of art. Does he ex- 
pect to retain them when the war is over? Is he acting automati- 
cally out of habit, or to impress his victims, the German people, 
that he does not doubt of victory and the Reich's ability to keep 



33O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

what it has seized, robbed, and raffled in every occupied and sat- 
ellite country? 

There will be a cry on our side for restoration of all the Nazis 
have taken; and I should approve of making them give up to the 
farthing's worth everything they have snatched. What has been 
destroyed or lost in consequence of their predatoriness, I should 
make them repay not with Mediterranean masterpieces but Teu- 
tonic ones, German, Flemish, Dutch. Of these, claimed by Teu- 
tomaniacs as flesh of their flesh, the museums of the Reich have 
more than enough. They could spare a percentage of their Van 
Eycks, their Roger van der Weydens, their Van der Goes, as well 
as their Master of the Death of the Virgin and similar fifteenth- 
century Rhenish and Hanseatic artists. I would leave them their 
Diirers, their Holbeins, their Cranachs even, but not all their 
Baldungs. Italian, Greek, and other classically inspired works I 
should let them retain in the hope that their civilizing, humaniz- 
ing influence will affect them as it did their grandfathers and 
great-grandfathers. 

June jth 

TOTALITARIAN WAR as conducted at present, with conscript 
armies and labor, nobody of an age and health "to do his bit" ex- 
empted, is a return to primitive savagery, when one tribe or clan 
sought to exterminate another standing in its way, and every 
neighbor north and south, east and west, was held as standing 
in the way, even as now. 

Seeing that no individuals except invalids and dotards are 
exempt from work of some sort to achieve victory, why go on 
making the pretotalitarian difference between soldier and civilian? 
Soldiers are still treated as a class apart and above, way above, 
civilians. 

As an instance let me cite my own case. I am a civilian prisoner 
in Italy. If I were a soldier, I should be corresponding with rela- 
tions in about a tenth of the time. The same Red Cross that brings 
the trooper news from America in two months or so takes two 



JUNE, 1944 331 

years or eighteen months at least to bring me twenty-five words 
from my sisters. 

It is not the fault of the so well-instructed Swiss institutions. It 
is our censorship. A letter sent through the Red Cross is forwarded 
to an inquiry office, where it is kept a year and a half or more. 
Why? Either to exhaust the possible effects of treasonable com- 
munication or because the office takes time. Our censorship is so 
cautious that it will not even allow the delivery of a cable sent 
from Switzerland saying that So-and-so is well, unless it makes 
sure that So-and-so is not bodily in an enemy country. 

Censorships seem to be carried on in our countries, and here 
in Italy, by unpaid amateurs to start with and then by hirelings 
for the most part wdth no training and even less intellectual 
preparation. I could tales unfold! 

The only censorship which, since the beginning of this war, has 
worked with dispatch, discretion, and common sense has been the 
German one. Whether from the homeland or from occupied ter- 
ritories, letters have reached me in reasonable time; moreover, the 
correspondents have been allowed to write what they pleased 
about the difficulties and follies they encountered and to criticize 
what they pleased, provided of course that they kept away from 
military matters. 

June 8th 

INSTEAD OF DICKENS and his distressing Tale of Two Cities, we 
are now reading the ferocious historical books of the Old Testa- 
ment. What is Torquemada or any worse persecutor, if one there 
be, of Christian times compared with that nationalistic archfa- 
natic the prophet Elijah! But the stuff has an incomparable grip 
of human reality at its average worst and best. It never talks of 
actions and feelings of which we do not feel ourselves capable. 
At the same time we go on with Shakespeare and Racine. 
Othello is too poignant, too painful, and almost makes one wish 
Shakespeare had some of Racine's marmoreal coolness and dis- 
tance. The Frenchman never reaches emotion except through 



332 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

tranquillity. This morning we finished Macbeth, which did not 
lacerate me at all. It is far enough from actuality to carry one on 
the wings of wondrous verse to the sunset and back to the sunrise 
and forward, without churning up one's insides. What poetry is 
there, not only as idea and image but as verse! Truly, Shakespeare 
was the greatest transmuter, the greatest verbal alchemist that 
ever wrote. 

Pity he never took a Biblical theme. What might he not have 
done with it say the story of Saul and David, and Jonathan, 
and Samuel! 

June Qth 

I SCARCELY KNOW a German who does not want the victory of 
his army, and I certainly know no German who does not yearn 
for the downfall of the Nazis. The same German wants both and 
seems incapable of thinking things out to the end, and saying 
that if the army wins the victory will not be theirs but of the Na- 
zis. In fact, if the German army won the war it might start Na- 
zism on its run for a thousand years, as predicted by its Brigham 
Young, I mean Adolf Hitler. 

With my Italian friends it is not the same. They are too intelli- 
gent to believe that the end of Fascism would follow the triumph 
of Axis arms. They are courageous enough to sacrifice military 
glory to rationally human politics. In the upper classes, however, 
there remains a minority who, while not desiring the triumph of 
Hitler and his hosts, still seethe so much with hatred of England 
that they will not allow the superiority of Allied arms. They chafe 
over every move, pointing to Allied stupidity and contrasting it 
with the miraculous intelligence of the Germans. For these, their 
sympathies remain so strong that in their hearts they would like 
them to smite the Anglo-Saxons, to drive them into the sea from 
Italy, and to prepare for them a worse Dunkirk in France. They 
go on believing that there will be returns of fortune, and that 
somehow German military genius will prevail. Yet in these same 



JUNE, 1944 333 

hearts there is no desire for the imposition of Nazi-Fascist rule 
upon their own or other countries. It is singular how incapable 
of mental integration people remain, particularly in matters po- 
litical, and how comfortably they squat on both horns of a di- 
lemma. 

Human incapacity for integration is notorious, and an historical 
account of it would fill a library. In the restricted matter of po- 
litical thinking, or rather feeling, integration seems not to exist 
for most people. 

Perhaps it is just as well; for the few who cherish and cultivate 
it arrive quickly at state worship and totalitarianism as by Fas- 
cists and Nazis practiced and preached. Better far the "muddling 
through" which accounts for the political superiority of Anglo- 
Saxons up till now, I begin to fear that in America particularly 
we are getting too impatient for an integration that, if hurried, 
will be premature, and even disintegrating, in the end. 

June loth 

IT is RUMORED in Florence that bands, alias brigands, alias 
rebels, have occupied Siena and Perugia. I wish it were so. I 
should like them to give the lie to the stories that reach me ac- 
cording to which these boys took to the woods out of distaste for 
soldiering, and sheer cowardice. 

Graziani, head of the specter-Fascist army, has issued a decree 
that Italians drafted as laborers to Germany will be considered as 
soldiers at the front. If without permission they return to Italy, 
they will be treated as deserters. 

Senator Contini and his son have been arrested. Major Carita 
made a perquisition in their country house, accusing them of har- 
boring weapons and supplies for the bands. He found none but 
carried away a diary which he pretends has incriminating entries. 
He will release them on the payment of three million lire, at pres- 
ent rate of exchange something like twenty-five thousand dollars. 

Jewish acquaintances of mine have been threatened with the 



334 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

worst if they did not immediately pay a ransom. They have com- 
promised on half a million to be paid at once and as much again 
next October. The last item is mere face-saving, of course. 

These figures prove how modest are Italians in their financial 
expectations. The case is different in the realm of fancy the valu- 
ations of art objects, for instance. Their journalistic imagination 
mounts sky-high and, being seldom called back to earth, puts 
prices on pictures at figures that have no relation to what they 
would fetch at Christie's, or at the Hotel Drouot. 

June nth 

Six YEARS and more have passed since I have perused an Italian 
newspaper. Most of this time I have been an assiduous student of 
the German press. This is in essence no less mendacious, no less 
sneering, jeering, and vulgar than the Italian. But it does not of- 
fend me so much. 

Why? The reason must be that German abominations do not 
touch me so closely, because Germans are remoter from me than 
Italians. After living for fifty years in the midst of Italians and 
with them, everything they do and say comes home to me almost 
as if they were my own people. 

Now it is well known that the bad behavior, the stupidity, and 
above all the vulgarity of one's own people sting and smart and 
touch us to the quick. 

Some of my disgust with the Italian press is due to the fact that 
Italians seem to regard as indecently naked a substantive that is 
not wrapped up and swaddled with adjectives. In the case of a 
suspected adversary no epithet is too absurd. Thus when Richard 
Norton some thirty-three years ago led an archaeological expedi- 
tion to Gyrene, the Italian press, including the so authoritative 
Corriere della Sera, incapable of believing that the enterprise did 
not mask annexationistic intentions with regard to territory con- 
sidered by them as an Italian reversion, applied to him every term 
of abuse, of which the least was "codfish." Who knows what that 
conceals! I have never been able to discover. 



JUNE, 1944 335 



June 12th 

THE FEW WORDS jotted down yesterday about our tolerance of 
vulgarity in another nationality that it is hard to put up with in 
our own reminds me of a matter that has been in my thoughts for 
fifty years and more. It is this. 

I first read Dante with Charles Eliot Norton at Harvard in 
1885. I could not utter a phrase in Italian, and knew It as one 
spells out a dead tongue. Nevertheless, the Divine Comedy made 
me breathless as it loomed up before me, and I panted to reach 
up to it. 

Three years later I was residing in Florence, learning its living 
spoken language. For an hour or more every morning I conned my 
Dante. 

After a while I began to be aware and this awareness grew 
upon me as the years went by and my familiarity with the worka- 
day speech of Tuscany increased that although I understood its 
greatest poet better and better and loved his passages of pure 
poetry ever more feelingly, yet a certain glory was departing from 
his trilogy. Not merely that so much of it lost interest and progres- 
sively bored me, as I realized that Dante had compressed his 
spiritual universe only less than his physical one into a limited 
compass, and made it too much like an ingeniously contrived 
clock whose scope it was to ring out perpetual praise of its Maker; 
not that alone. 

There was something else. 

When we read a dead language or a living one that we do not 
speak, few or any words or phrases we encounter are linked with 
commonplace, or mean, or sordid, or disgusting associations. That 
fact removes them from the workaday atmosphere into a more 
refined spiritually, a purer and nobler one. Single words in a for- 
eign tongue may have a splendor in our eyes that those who ordi- 
narily use them do not feel, or deliberately avoid feeling. We 
know of the old lady who took such comfort in hearing or uttering 
the word "Mesopotamia," or about the sentimental German who 



336 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

on her first visit to Italy read out the word latrina as her train 
stopped at a station, and was enraptured by it. 

Which reminds me of the Chinese diplomatist who, on being 
introduced into a Boston drawing room, discovered there con- 
spicuously displayed Kienlung vases, beautiful indeed as ce- 
ramics, but destined in China to more humble and intimate use. 

Familiarity breeds insensibility, and every Western language 
since the early Renaissance has periodically tried to refresh itself 
first with wholesale draughts of Latin and Greek, more recently 
with borrowing from each other, and in the last hundred years 
with increasing doses of slang, thieves' lingo, and shoptalk; so that 
at the present rate, classical English and perhaps classical French 
as well may cease to be understood except by the learned in some 
few generations. 

It is well known that the less we are acquainted with a foreign 
language, provided we know it at all, the more likely are we to 
interlard our talk with it. When we get to be nearly as much 
at home with that language, its vocabulary and idiomatic expres- 
sions, as with our own, it ceases to enjoy the fascination of being 
"Herrlich wie am ersten Tag' glorious as on the day of creation. 

There can be no doubt but that subjective remoteness it need 
not be objective lends enchantment to speech as to space. We 
recall Ruth Draper's fashionable lady who in her overcrowded, 
futile life finds no leisure for her snobbish aspiration to read 
Dante, and getting no further than nel mezzo del cammin discov- 
ers there a height and depth of meaning that the equivalent 
phrase in New Yorkese would never have yielded, 

And our continued employing of Biblical phraseology, stig- 
matized as Wardour Street English, or of the style noble in French 
what is it but the effort to get away from Wardour Street and 
the BouT Miche? 

This train of thought leads me to wonder whether returning 
to where we began English-speaking readers of Dante do not 
overestimate him, as we all perhaps overestimate Latin and even 
Greek writers, because of the glamour shed upon him by unfa- 



JUNE, 1944 337 

miliarity with the language in which he wrote, as certainly is the 
case with the admiration foreigners have for Byron. 

On the other hand, our so eerie American slang and its equiva- 
lent French argot, as faintly displayed in Celine, is an attempt to 
steer clear of the commonplace and overfamiliar by ducking un- 
der it instead of rising above it. I enjoy it, and shall not be un- 
grateful enough to pretend to denounce it. Yet I cannot refrain 
from saying that its psychological foundation is ignorance or neg- 
lect of idiomatic English or French, both competent enough to 
express anything we can have to say, provided we are able to 
exploit their resources. Slang, no matter how brilliant, is but froth 
and bubble over the placid depth of classical speech. 

June ijth 

ANNIVERSARY of Bunker Hill! When I was a small boy it meant 
a holiday comprising a pilgrimage to the monument, and pleasant 
hours spent in play with boa-constrictor cordage in the Charles- 
town Navy Yard* 

Nearly seventy years later I am here in Italy under German oc- 
cupation, but with the Anglo-Saxons approaching, and their guns 
almost audible. 

Meanwhile, Fascists are skedaddling and evacuating as fast as 
they can. One hears of fifteen thousand going a veritable exodus 
men, women, and children. Why are they going, what are they 
afraid of? They must feel guilty, well aware of what they have 
done, and what reprisals to expect. If they stayed, most of them 
would be agreeably disappointed. Few have anything to fear from 
our authorities, and not too much from theirs. No doubt they 
dread payment in kind and what kind! from neighbors they 
have maltreated or humiliated. 

Celle, near Pistoia, the magnificently romantic seat of our friend 
the bibliophile De Marinis, has for months been preparing to 
house the German General Staff and its chief, Marshal Kesselring. 
It would seem that he is there now, incog, but his real presence 



338 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

betrayed by the distance kept by all who approach him. They say 
he spends hours together staring at the landscape, rapt in thought 
and looking the picture of misery. 

A fluke brought me ten days of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung and 
as many of the Deutsche Allgemeine. The differences and con- 
trasts are interesting. The German daily boasts, blusters, jeers, 
sneers, insults, rejoices in what to us is iniquity, while the Swiss 
dispassionately looks around the circle of the earth, espying what 
can interest a humanized man, under present conditions. Nothing 
escapes its observation and its humane as well as rational com- 
ment. I know no other daily so universally well informed almost 
as if war opposed no difficulties to collecting and publishing dis- 
interested information. 

Not all of it from our side is pleasant reading. Plans for the 
future, social, economic, international. How I dread self-satisfied 
dogmatism not alone on the part of the new lords risen from the 
coal mine and the locomotive, but of the Cambridge paragons, 
the Robespierres of finance. They know what they want. Who 
does not? But they have no idea what it will cost to get it how 
much more than any return on the investment. 

A young officer has joined us, fresh from a German concentra- 
tion camp situated near Brest Litovsk. He wintered in a log house, 
with the cold and snow driving in through the chinks, but yet 
keeping fairly warm. For food they had twice a day they, Ital- 
ian officers five boiled potatoes. They had soup consisting of hot 
water with lumps of grease thrown in. They had to do their own 
washing, which they hung up to dry in the hut they occupied. No 
books, no dailies, no radio, no news of any kind, no writing paper, 
seldom a word or a parcel from home. No contact with any human 
being outside the camp. Death, if they succeeded in approaching 
a German female, death for the Italian and the female as well. 
Utterly cut off! 

When the armistice between Italy and the Allies was declared, 
the superior officers, from army chiefs down, with rare exceptions, 
funked and disappeared. They would take no responsibility and 
give no orders. A million and a half Italian troops who, if properly 



JUNE, 1944 339 

led, still had fight in them, were carried off like sheep to Nazi con- 
centration camps. Half a million of them are already dead of star- 
vation and hardship. 

This same officer blames the King of Italy as the first deserter. 
I have no clear opinion of this so unintelligible personage. Is he a 
monster of indifference, a chicken-livered egoist caring for noth- 
ing but his throne and his dynasty if even for these? 

I nearly forgot to mention that the Deutsche Attgemeine 
Zeitung, organ of the Berlin upper classes, continues to rejoice 
in the progressive de-Judaizing of Hungary. I supposed it would 
stop with finance, great commerce, and the professions. Not at 
all! It goes down to the petty trades and careers. It would seem 
that in Hungary as in Poland the humbler Christian natives fol- 
lowed no occupation but shepherding, farming, and soldiering. 
All else was left to the Jews. 

What will happen to these putative descendants of the Hebrew 
patriarchs is of small interest. But how will life go on in Hungary 
when the Israelites are not allowed to exercise any of their usual 
occupations? Who will shoe horses, who will build and repair 
houses? Who will sell bread and salt, who will make shoes and 
clothes, who will drive them when they have to go to town, who 
will doctor them or supply them with medicines? It would seem 
that without the Jews, Hungary would fall back into a neolithic 
condition. The magnates have Vienna, Paris, and their shooting. 
But the rest of the Hungarians! 

June i8th 

FINISHED Marie BashkirtsefFs Journal. Most of it is boring, end- 
lessly repetitious. But she was precocious to an unusual degree 
and at twelve, although she feels like a Backfisch a flapper 
she writes like a gifted grownup. 

She is possessed by the ambition to excel, whether in love, in 
society, in music, or in painting. It haunts her night and day. As 
she has no inhibitions a rare thing seventy years ago she puts 
down everything she feels and thinks. And she puts it down in 



340 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

straightforward, clear language; but she never refers to anything 
below the belt. 

Having done with flirtation, and her voice giving out, she turns 
to painting, frequents Julian's studios, enjoys the instruction of 
Tony Robert-FIeury and, toward the end, of Bastien Lepage. 
With the last, she gets on intimate terms, adoring him as an artist, 
and all but loving him as a man. She is touched by his suffering, 
as he is dying, although he was destined to outlive her, if only by 
days. 

She never loses sight of her rank, her wealth, her privileges. Yet 
she sees through the vapidity of society, and particularly of her 
set in Russia. Indeed, writing between fifty and forty years before 
the Bolshevik revolution, she describes a society that can give no 
reason for being allowed to live on, to be borne at such expense to 
the community at large. 

She can have generous outbursts of extrapersonal feeling, as 
over the death of the Prince Imperial and the end of Gambetta. 
About this so mysterious figure she writes eloquently, apprecia- 
tively, convincingly. Perhaps out of admiration for him, she has 
outbursts of enthusiasm for the republic, and finds words of scorn 
for its reactionary opponents. 

The most important part of the journal is concerned with her 
zest, her ambition, her passion as a painter. She feels that she 
could be one, must win recognition, and whether or not, do, excel, 
and achieve what will satisfy her. 

I could wish, by the way, that the glib writers on the artist in 
general, and the painter in particular, would read her journal. 
They would understand better what it means to be a painter, what 
an effort, what a torment, what an agony it is to become one. How 
little philosophy, metaphysics, sociology, cosmology, ontology, 
etc,, etc., enter into his occupations and preoccupations. How ab- 
sorbed the painter is day and night by the question of "how," and 
how seldom by "what," how much by technique, and how little 
by anything else. Never a word about the subject matter as con- 
cept or idea, but always as something to exercise your technical 
ability. 



JUNE, 1944 341 

She was learned after a fashion, seeming to have some acquaint- 
ance with Latin, well-read in the classics, in translation probably, 
reading history intelligently and delighted to discover that Sten- 
dhal was fascinating and Zola almost great. Later, after perusing 
Vogue's articles on Tolstoi, she devours War and Peace and finds 
no higher praise than to say that he was as good as Zola. She en- 
joys Turgenev and has the good taste to prefer the Memoires dun 
Chasseur the stories of a squire out shooting to his society nov- 
els. 

Two quotations from her journal will give a fair idea of her. 

On September 5th, 1882, she writes: "I am a crazy creature 
plus awareness." 

And on August ist, 1884: "Will you believe it? Well, I am 
neither painter, nor sculptor, nor musician, nor woman, nor daugh- 
ter, nor friend. All in me becomes material for observation, for 
reflection, and analysis. A look, a shape, a sound, a joy, a sorrow 
are instantly weighed, examined, proved, pigeonholed, taken ac- 
count of. And when I have talked or written I am happy/' 

June 20th 

FOR MILES TOGETHER the highway to Bologna is crowded with 
German soldiery tramping, motoring, employing carts, any and 
every obtainable vehicle, in their trek northwards. They take 
along all they could lay hands on, mattresses, blankets, woolens, 
clothes, pots and pans, spoons, knives, forks, pieces of furniture 
from houses they have occupied for months perhaps; every kind 
of foodstuff, oil and wine particularly. Not inanimate things alone, 
but cows and calves, oxen and horses, mules and asses, rabbits, 
geese, chickens, anything alive and edible. 

Yesterday forenoon the clerks serving the railways were seized 
and without ceremony dragged off to the station to be sent north. 

The Germans are not only destroying what may serve the Allies 
but taking with them whoever might help to rebuild the country 
they are evacuating. The same policy led them to take Blum, 
Daladier, and Weygand from France to be interned in Germany, 



342 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and from Italy Cini, and millions of men from the various coun- 
tries they occupied. That policy, by the way, dictated the treat- 
ment allotted to a million and a half Italians suffering and dying 
in Nazi concentration camps. 

Assisi is in our hands and I envy my friend F. Mason Perkins 
for being liberated from the Fascist-Nazi incubus, which, no 
doubt, has been weighing crushingly on him, as on the rest of us. 

As the day of liberation approaches I begin to have a new set 
of fears. In what condition shall I find my house? How long will 
it be before I can occupy it with comfort? What will be the be- 
havior of Americans and British when they occupy Florence? Will 
they be pedantic or humane, gullible or sensible? Will they avoid 
the glib sirens on the wait for them, and their male instigators 
who believe you can get anywhere with an American if you feed 
and drench him and flatter his simple soul? 

What I fear most is this: a legend has grown up and prevails 
here, the Lord knows through no action or fault of mine, about 
my political importance as an American. They cannot believe that 
at home, to the extent that I am known at all, I count only as an 
art critic. As a citizen, alien born, I should be of the second class, 
but living abroad and selling no American products, I rank at 
best as of the third class. I have no political acquaintances whom 
I could influence, I have no authority. Catch Italians believing a 
word of that! Every effort to enlighten confirms them in their con- 
viction. 

So I expect to be besieged by acquaintances and their relations, 
clients and dependents of acquaintances, expecting me to procure 
them exemptions, favors, privileges from the occupying Anglo- 
Saxons. As I shall rarely succeed, they will go away thinking that 
I, who could, would not help them. 

With this I do not mean to say that Italians are greater believers 
in "pull" than the rest of us. I recall numerous cases of favors pro- 
cured in France and even England by people in "high society" 
that it would not be easy to procure for the rest of us. And I need 
scarcely refer to what a Congressman, let alone a Senator, can 



JUNE, 1944 343 

procure for his constituents from the administration at Washing- 
ton. 

Human nature is not different from country to country. Under 
similar conditions and like pressure, it acts in pretty much the 
same way everywhere. 

June 2ist 

PEOPLE GO ON saying: "Whatever you may think, Mussolini and 
Hitler are makers of history." There have been other such makers 
whom we do not admire for what they made. There was Ravaillac, 
who stabbed Henri IV and made history. There was Princip, who 
shot Francis Ferdinand and thereby started the First World War. 
There was the shoddy assassin Ante Pavelich, who murdered 
Alexander of Yugoslavia and also made history. Then there are 
the spectacular Asiatic conquerors, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, 
to mention only the most notorious. But what kind of history did 

they make? 

# * * 

The dreamt-of world state, if not unfailingly liberal, might af- 
ford no escape to dissident individuals from the wrath of a Hitler 
who with his paladins had seized universal dominion. 

Hitler has shown what is the position of an outlaw in every 
land submitted to his occupation or his hegemony. Imagine their 
fate if there had been no countries these could take refuge in. 

My dream is not of a centralized world state but of an earth 
whence state has disappeared, and municipalities only are left, co- 
operating peacefully and happily with one another. 

June 2zd 

FOR THE FIRST TIME in years I have been perusing not this or 
that play of Shakespeare but all of them in the accepted chrono- 
logical order. 

I venture to put down a few of the impressions made on me by 
this rapid survey, without stopping to ponder over the problems 



344 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



suggested, or to puzzle out the enigmas and obscurities of the text. 

First and foremost the lyrical quality. Ariel-like, swift, leaping, 
dancing, surpassing anything I know except perhaps Aristophanes 
in his Birds, Shakespeare seems to lose no occasion for dashing off 
in lyrical ecstasy. And it is as a lyrical dramatist, first and fore- 
most, that the plays mark him. 

He is good at the stage business. He is better far in his deeply 
penetrating insight into human nature, and his charitable, kindly 
acceptance of its mixed fry of good and evil. He is still more mar- 
velous in his gnomic sentences and passionately dispassionate re- 
flections. Yet in each of these fields others, if only a few, have done 
as well and perhaps better. 

Shakespeare reigns supreme as the poet of youthful, exuberant 
gaiety, of fairylike insubstantiality, of high spirits and joyousness. 

I never before realized how much Goethe owes him in this 
respect. Not in this respect alone; more still, and not always hap- 
pily, in the comic, facetious, and farcical episodes in his plays. 
Faust particularly has few episodes, few lines even, that do not 
smack of Shakespeare. 

As much and more may be said of Hofmannsthal. 

After his lyrical supremacy what impressed me most in this 
gallop through his plays is Shakespeare's genius for fooling, clown- 
ing, billingsgating, vituperating, mocking, jeering, etc., etc. What 
a vocabulary! There again, I can think of no parallel in European 
literature since Aristophanes. 

None of these last heights could Shakespeare have attained if he 
did not have a supreme, unique gift of words. Others by the thou- 
sands and, in the course of the ages, by the millions may have felt, 
thought, imagined what he did, but were mute comparatively 
though great after a fashion. There has never been another Euro- 
pean who could find not only adequate words but evocative, radi- 
ant, illuminating, transfiguring, as well as penetrating and reveal- 
ing words for whatever idea, fancy, fact, reflection passed through 
his head. 

After his supremacy in the world of words, what struck me most 
was his political wisdom, his political charity, his acquaintance 



JUNE, 1944 345 

with the crowd, and his singular insight into the demagogue. Take 
Thersites: Shakespeare has no little sympathy with him, and states 
his ease eloquently and convincingly. At the same time he sees 
through him down to the envy which inspires him. His victors 
never fail to find noble words for the vanquished, not even Mark 
Antony for Brutus, not even the cold-blooded Octavius for the 
same Mark Antony. 

Shakespeare seems to me more Shakespeare in Macbeth and 
Lear than in Hamlet. The last has no doubt his best-expressed and 
deepest thinking. The others rise higher and sink deeper, are end- 
lessly more tragic, I venture to say Wagnerian, and despite Wag- 
ner's advantage of orchestra and voice, of the words interpreting 
the music and the music the words, they surpass even his Tristan. 
Far from filling me with horror as Othello does, Lear and Mac- 
beth, like all sublime tragedy, lift me up into the peace of under- 
standing. 

Othello horrified me. Not the Moor, but lago, No violence, no 
brutality affects me as does villainy, plotting, planning, out of 
jealousy, envy, and love of evil; compassing the despair of the 
innocent, and driving them to deeds of violence against others 
or themselves. Unconsciously, unwittingly we do evil enough. Life 
is at the expense of others. The more reason to avoid malignancy, 
by which I mean deliberate evil-doing, cold-blooded, carefully 
thought out mischief as a fine art, almost forgetting its end, while 
rejoicing in iniquity. 

This reminds me to speak of Shakespeare's relation to Italy. So 
many of his plays take place there or have Italians among their 
dramatis personae. It is easy to account for it, without recourse to 
the improbable supposition that he had a personal and intimate 
acquaintance with that paradise and its people. As a matter of 
fact, most of the stories read in England at the end of the sixteenth 
century were Italian, drawn from Boccaccio, Cinzio, Bandello, 
etc. With the gift for living himself into others and their situa- 
tions, with his command of words, the author of Shakespeare's 
plays could have had no difficulty in conjuring up an Italy as 
glamorous as, since then, many of us northerners have found it. 



34 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Parenthetically, let me add a word about the Elizabethan atti- 
tude towards Italy. English and French, let alone Spanish, history 
is no less full than Italian of deeds of treachery, villainy, monstros- 
ity, and blood. Think of the later Plantagenets and Tudors, and 
what they could do! 

None of them ever said it. That is the reason why Italians 
seemed such devils to people capable of doing as ill, and perhaps 
worse. The Italian put it into words: Machiavelli the inhumanity 
of statecraft, the storytellers deeds of darkness in private life. 

The Anglo-Saxon has a dislike for self-consciousness and for 
putting into words, in clear phrase, and in logical exposition ac- 
tivities "human, too human," pursuing which, he cannot bear to 
have put before him in language that discloses the gulf yawning 
between his ideals and his conduct. Because he is but vaguely 
aware of what he is doing, he can flatter himself that he is always 
acting, or trying to act, up to the standards with which his class 
and station have fitted him out. 

As for Shakespeare's deep tender humanity, where in literature 
can one find the like of the scene in King John between Arthur 
and Hubert, commissioned to blind him? I know nothing to com- 
pare with it, not even Oedipus and Antigone at Colonus. Nor the 
increasing depths of self-abasement and self-pity, yet never mean, 
petty, or sordid, as uttered by Richard II from the moment of his 
return from Ireland to the end. To the very end, as if pitying not 
himself, but anyone placed in the same situation. For depths of 
doubt, sorrow, despair, and resignation I can think of nothing to 
place above it or even beside it. 

To these cursory and necessarily superficial impressions about 
the work I would add one, and one only, observation about the 
author. He must have been brought up a Papist. No born and 
trained English Protestant at that time of fierce controversy, clash- 
ing propaganda, and persecution could have had such a familiarity 
with Roman Catholic ritual, practice, folklore, as well as dogma 
and church policy. Who has stated Vatican claims through the 
ages as his Pandulph in King John! 
Finally, let me mention his love of romance and the romantic, 



JUNE, 1944 347 

his feeling for the glamor of the Orient. Few great writers have 
understood as he the magic of evocative names. 

Curiously dull I find Coriolanus, and Timon is somewhat rant- 
ing in its pessimism. One might think they were written in a fit 
of despairing depression and that the author came out of it sad- 
dened yet serene, with diminished joie de uivre but no loss of faith 
in humanity and hope for its future. 

June 2$d 

I HEAR that the Cardinal has received assurance from the Pope 
himself that the Allies will do their utmost to spare Florence, and 
that only the most pressing military necessity will lead them to 
bombard it. 

It was gossiped that before they evacuated Florence, the Ger- 
mans would blow up all the bridges. Then that a commission went 
to Hitler imploring that they be spared. Now it seems that the 
Ponte Vecchio and the S. Trinita bridge will not be touched. The 
last is the most elegant and artistic thing of its kind in Europe, 
and its destruction would indeed be a loss, more than a dozen 
Monte Cassinos. 

June 24th 

GERMAN SOLDIERY, ever since the occupation, have been quar- 
tered on the estate of friends in the environs of Florence. There 
has been a continuous coming and going. Yesterday or the day be- 
fore as a company was leaving the captain sent his orderly to ask 
for a puppy which belonged to the -fattores little girl. He was 
begged not to insist, because since its birth the little girl had been 
devoted to it, and it would break her heart to lose it. The German 
captain replied that he would have it, and if it was not sent at 
once he would come and take it at the pistol's point. 

June 26th 

MY SEVENTY-NINTH BIRTHDAY! Little did I expect to celebrate 
it still "in hiding" when I came here almost ten months ago. I then 



348 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

thought to be from home eight or ten days, and no more. Then for 
Thanksgiving, and thereafter for Christmas surely. On New Year's 
Day my hostess prophesied that I should be here for my birth- 
day. I laughed heartily. Easter passed, so did Whitsun, and here 
I am on June 26th. 

There is nothing in which I have been so much out of reckon- 
ing as the time factor. All through this war I have been out in my 
calculation. For instance, I remember feeling that from the day 
we Americans entered the war, it would last but a few months. 

It served to keep up my spirits and I hail my error as felix culpa 
happy error. 

# # # 

There has come to my notice the document of an agent sent in 
!936 by Hitler to the Vatican. Hitler felt that a good part of the 
Catholic clergy, not to speak of the laity, would adhere to him if 
only they had papal approval. He felt, too, that what stood most 
intransigently between him and the Vatican was the racial ques- 
tion, namely, the exclusion of Jews from humanity and humane 
consideration and their treatment as inferior animals to be de- 
stroyed pitilessly, or to be used when use could be made of them. 

Hitler wanted to bring the Vatican to his way of thinking, and 
his clinching argument was that, if not now, two or three centuries 
hence the Vatican would agree with his ideas as it does now with 
Galileo's. 

The person who during the Jewish persecution had the charge 
of justifying it to the Tuscans has been lodged in my house during 
my exile. Now he has run away, and I shall have the room he oc- 
cupied not only cleaned and disinfected but exorcized. 

This individual engaged a peasant to take him and what he 
wanted to carry with him in a cart. On the way to Firenzuola 
they were stopped by German warriors who took everything they 
had except the clothes on their backs, all the propagandist's lug- 
gage and whatever they found in his pockets, the peasant's horse 
and cart and, what affected his peasant's soul most, his fede, his 
wedding ring. 



JUNE, 1944 349 

This reminds me of the sacrifice made by Italian women on 
the occasion of the filibustering Abyssinia expedition. It was "vol- 
untary," of course, as voluntary as the volunteers who were made 
to go to Spain. No doubt many gave up their wedding rings su- 
perstitionally sacred to Italians of all classes with passionate 
fervor and the hope of serving their country in its attempt to op- 
press another country. But the great majority, in all classes, did 
it out of fear and even out of snobbery. Among the last was a lady 
of enigmatical descent married to an American of high standing. 
I knew her to be anything but favorable to Mussolini and his am- 
bitions. Yet she, an American citizen, came to Italy on purpose to 
throw her wedding ring into the crucible. Let us hope it served to 
preserve and improve her position in the best Fascist-minded so- 
ciety! 

June 28th 

LATE LAST NIGHT, and again from six this morning, the dull thud 
of distant guns, some of them shaking the house. It reminds me 
of evenings spent in the eastern quarters of Paris during the spring 
months of 1918, when the Germans were only forty miles away. 

The peasants with whom I have been exchanging "good morn- 
ings" all say che finisca presto may it finish soon. In these four 
years of war ? I never heard them express a wish for a happy issue, 
or anything similar. 

The head of the specter-Fascist forces here, Adami Rossi, a gen- 
eral of the royal Italian army of whom I have already spoken as a 
man of blood, guilty of many, if not most, of the atrocities com- 
mitted here, now proposes that all hotels should be blown up by 
the Axis troops before they leave, so that the Allies may find no 
lodging. 

The other day, stretched full length on the sidewalk at Rifredi 
a suburb a mile down from here were found the bodies of two 
women. They were recognized as two Jewesses who had been 
sequestered for some time by the Hitlerites. On the slopes of 



35O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Monte Morello, a few miles from here, were found the bodies of 
four women. Their dress and shape were of the prosperous classes. 
Their faces had been made unrecognizable. 

I heard months ago, but could not believe it, that Italian Jews 
who happened to be in the Dodecanese or elsewhere under Axis 
occupation in Greece were brought home and handed over to the 
Gestapo, who took them to Como and drowned them in the lake. 
Now I have had the same information on the best authority. 

I fail to understand why they were not made away with where 
found, instead of putting their murderers to the expense and trou- 
ble of bringing them all the way to Como. I inquired but got no 
answer. I can only think of some Odinite sacrifice that might be 
propitiously performed at Como alone. 

We do not even begin to conceive what may be lurking in the 
heads of uneducated brutes like many among those to whom Hit- 
ler has given authority. 

June 2Qth 

READING SHAKESPEARE recalls me to the intention I had of long 
standing to jot down a few words about euphuism and slang, its 
stepsister, its opposite, its reverse, its wrong side on the carpet. 

Slang, like euphuism, is due to an inability to say what one 
wants to say in the vocabulary and phraseology of current edu- 
cated speech. "If you cannot say it sing it," said the young woman 
to the shy and stammering lover. The euphuists try to sing it, the 
users of slang and shall we call them dysphuists bawled it, 
croaked it, spat it, flashed out phrases like rockets, luridly illumi- 
nating a world as murky as the one of the euphuists was dainty 
and gingerly. 

The last have always been a handful, speaking a Cdteriesprache, 
as Carlyle called it. The Tudor and Jacobean euphuists were not 
only on the lookout for a language that could be a vehicle for what 
they had to say but one which was cryptic enough to be unintel- 
ligible outside their circle. This kind of elegance always has ex- 
isted when and where there was an exclusive society. Like 



JUNE, 1944 35* 

"thieves' talk," it served their ends and shut out the rest of the 
world. It raged in London just before the last war under the lead- 
ership of highly gifted young men and women of the most culti- 
vated sets in smart society. 

Slang has humbler origins. It arises among the young and spir- 
ited who have had no chance, occasion, or leisure to learn the 
classical use of their tongues. To express themselves, they wrench 
current words and phrases out of their setting, and invent new 
ones. Some are so vivid, so iridescent, so poignant, or so pictur- 
esque that they appeal to the better-educated and are incorpo- 
rated into their own speech. 

In that way slang, the humble stepsister of euphuism, turns out 
to be the fertile if rather earthy daughter of the spirit of language; 
while euphuism is apt to be too refined, too remote from life, to 
result in anything but sterility. 

# * $ 

Cannonading continues under a sky as crystalline, as pure as 
has ever been seen. But for this continuous thud, one could de- 
scribe the landscape with Goethe's "liber alien Gipfeln ist Ruh" 
the horizon is still but the cannonading sounds nearer than it 
did yesterday. 

From dark to well on in the morning, a continuous roar and 
rattle of traffic on the north road leading to Bologna. I should not 
have known whether is was going up, that is to say to the north, 
or down. The wide-awake contadina I encountered on my walk 
told me it must have been up and not down, because the rattling 
and rasping was of motor vehicles climbing and not descending. 

# * * 

Finished Montesquieu's Grandeur et Decadence des Romains. 
Written fully two centuries ago, it is more like what persons like 
myself think about Roman history than anything that has ap- 
peared since. Only in his treatment of the Byzantine Empire does 
he fail to be up to date, not so much, however, in spirit as in de- 
tail. 

I happen to be more interested in the way past events are mir- 
rored in the centuries intervening between their occurrence and 



352 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

our own day than in the events themselves. No doubt some Ger- 
man unknown to me has written an unreadable book on the fame 
Rome enjoyed in the eighteenth century. I do not know where to 
look for it. So I am left to speculate. What was it, and when was 
it, that Montesquieu's rational view of Rome was replaced by the 
mythically heroic one that has reigned since, and is still reigning 
today? 

It must have begun before the French Revolution, for that was 
inspired by the Plutarchian view of Roman history. Then it must 
have been the reading of Plutarch that made the difference be- 
tween Montesquieu's rational and critical view of Rome, and the 
romantic one of the French Revolution, the Italian Risorgimento, 
and Mommsen's Caesarism. 



June soth 

THE HOUSE SHOOK after midnight, as if the cannonading were 
overhead. Yet it could not have been nearer than sixty miles as 
the crow flies. 

Less traffic on the Bologna road. Have the Nazis exhausted their 
enforcements? Have they stopped trooping northward? 

Kesselring, the chief of all German forces in Italy, has given out 
an order in which acts of sabotage and activities of the bands are 
censured as cowardly behavior which, if not stopped, will, to his 
sincere regret, mean the death of ever so many people who will be 
shot in reprisal even if perfectly guiltless. And yet Kesselring is 
reported to be a devout Catholic and Christian. How reconcile 
this order with his religion? It raises the question of the German 
army chiefs. Most of them disapproved of Hitler and all his ways. 
Yet they have been serving him. "Oh no, not him, but the army" 
that army which has a people to feed, clothe, and arm it, "the 
army that must prove its invincibility." "And no matter at whose 
service and for whose advantage?" "No matter." 

Nothing left for us, if we mean to have peace for some time to 
come, but to prove that this army is not invincible; to demonstrate 
that it served inhuman purposes and that it must not be allowed 



JUNE, 1944 353 

to retain any halo of romance or glory, that on the contrary we 
must detail its servile conduct, obeying every Assyrian behest, let- 
ting itself be the instrument without which the Nazi attack on 
humanity never could have taken place. It can but redound to the 
eternal disgrace of the Junker class, to which the army chiefs 
belonged, that they abetted and aided such a monstrosity. 

Talking of monstrosities, the official Nazi press, as quoted by 
the specter-Fascist one, gives it out that, if perish they must, they 
will see to it that all Europe perishes with them; that they reserve 
in their quivers poisoned arrows of a malignity undreamt of by the 
Allies, which they will use at a last resort. 

Declarations like these and Kesselring's may account for the 
fact that the Nazis, with their Gestapo and S.S.'s, are viewed with 
horror wherever they go. The minority here that is still with them, 
and cannot deny their atrocities, does not attempt to excuse them 
but insists that it is the way war is made and that in similar condi- 
tions and occasions the Allies if they know their business would 
act in the same way. 

There lurks the poison that Michelet characterized so well as 
vaccin contre la verite inoculation against the truth. 

Have been perusing recent issues of Forschungen und Fort- 
schritte, a German periodical that kept one up to date in all fields 
of scholarship, exact science, and philosophy. It has become more 
and more imbued with the intellectual perversity of the Nazis. 

The decline, the corruption even, was fostered by the tendency 
of German writing, whether historical or metaphysical, to trouble 
the waters with such curls and swirls and plunges and involutions, 
convolutions, and obscurities that when you took great pains to 
find out what there was to fish up, it turned out to be some ac- 
cepted idea that had been stated in a few clear words by a Scho- 
penhauer or a Mommsen, a von Hartmann or even a Treitschke, a 
Burckhardt or a Wolfflin. 

Young Germans of my acquaintance seem to enjoy this muddy, 
faintly translucent style and cannot understand my exasperated 
intolerance of a writer like Srbik. They may understand my dis- 
approval of his attitude as an historian although they themselves 



354 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

are rarely free from his awe-inspired state worship; they cannot 
follow me in finding his prose turgid, involved, and obscure. 

These epithets apply to most German writers of recent years, 
including some whose popularity is by no means confined to Nazi- 
land, whose names I prefer to leave unmentioned. 



July 2d 

A PASSIONATE flower-grower friend has sent up as a birthday 
present orchids so rare that it has taken twelve years of watchful 
attention to bring them to full florescence. I have enjoyed the 
twist and droop as well as the shape and color of the petals. How 
little that is, compared with the passionate understanding on the 
part of the lady who cherished them through twelve whole years! 

* # <* 

There have fallen under my eyes the papers of a Fascist propa- 
ganda agent during the filibustering Abyssinian adventure. He 
reported to both Duce and Fiihrer, to Mussolini and Hitler. 

In France, he saw riffraff only or madcaps like La Roque and, 
with the exception of Chautemps, nobody of any consequence. All 
express great admiration of the Duce and hope for the success of 
his adventure. Nearly all give vent to hatred of England and their 
loathing of the League of Nations. Some offer advice as to how to 
circumvent Britain's game. 

In England, he does not seem to have seen Sir Mosley (sic], 
but he saw members of the Imperial Policy Group most of 
them admirers of Mussolini and in sympathy with his ambitions. 
At least so this agent thought. He reports that among them there 
were six and twenty M.P/s and has letters from one of them. 

Clearly, this agent must have been accredited by the Duce to 
do what he could, both in France and in England, to make friends 
not only for Fascism but for its imperialistic ambitions. High and 
deep moral indignation against so many governments, sixty or 
more in number, leaguing themselves against one lamb, innocently 
munching grass! 

The success of this agent seems to have been small in England, 



JULY, 1944 355 

even if he did win over some few cranks. In France, on the other 
hand, he met with a sympathy rather frightening in its hatred of 
England and its eagerness to stop at nothing to do it harm. I won- 
der if the hatred of England will not be more difficult to stamp 
out in France than in Germany. 

July sd 

THE GERMANS, on the plea of saving them from Judeo- American 
predatoriness, want to take along with them as they leave all the 
valuable and admired masterpieces of art to be found in Florence. 
They must be aware that, owing to the constant bombing of lorries 
on the highroads, these masterpieces run serious risk of destruc- 
tion on their way to the north. Why, then, do they want to carry 
them off? I can scarcely believe it is the vindictive desire to de- 
prive Florence of them. They surely believe the Americans will 
do what they, the Germans, would if victorious: seize all works of 
art as booty. 

German troops are snatching whatever they can lay hands on 
and not only in obedience to orders and for army purposes. They 
do a great deal of freebooting quite openly and the officers must 
be aware of it. If these do nothing to prevent it, the rank and file 
must be out of hand and no longer amenable to discipline. The 
other day the counselor of the German Embassy at the Vatican 
was made to get out of his car. Still worse, the Vice-Duce, Pavolini, 
was treated in the same way, while the offenders drove off with 
his car of magnificent state, as they did with the counselor's more 
modest vehicle. 

The German soldiery in Florence hold open market of their 
stolen goods, from motorcars and fine clothes to eggs and radishes. 
They sell at a tenth of value, and with the proceeds rush to the 
shops to buy underwear and other dire necessities. 

Under my windows I hear the lowing of cows and calves. They 
used to be shedded hundreds of yards away. For fear of their 
being carried off, they now are kept all but in the house. 

On the other hand, a villa near by occupied by the German 



356 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Red Cross is being treated as satisfactorily as possible, under the 
circumstances. 



July 4th 

THE GLORIOUS DAY! 

I wonder whether our Sammies sweating under the midsummer 
Tuscan sun recall the day the day when the Yankee sons de- 
clared their independence of the British sire. Let us hope that the 
companionship in arms will rub out the last trace of ensuing ill- 
feeling, and make the ordinary American private realize that he 
is member of a great constellation of communities, if not of one 
consolidated commonwealth. 

Suddenly there rises to conscious memory, as if coming up with 
a submarine from the depths, the recollection of my first Fourth 
of July. I had just come from quiet, neolithic Lithuania, a boy of 
ten. The heat, the sweat, the scorching sun, the noise, the clatter, 
the penny whistles, the firecrackers, the magenta-colored toy bal- 
loons, the pink lemonade, the sticky balls of popcorn, deadly fa- 
tigue, stumbling feet, sleepy weariness that was my first Fourth 
of July on American soil. 

I never again was exposed to this annoyance. On that day I was 
always at a safe distance from a celebration. 

The nearest parallel to this distressing experience was twelve 
years later when, induced by fellow students in Paris, I went 
through a Quatorze Juillet. I witnessed the parade at Long- 
champs, marching and shows, and the evening with the sweaty 
dancing in all the squares of the Quartier. 

No, decidedly, I lacked the exuberance, the abandon required 
for hearty participation in mass festivities. Besides, I had an in- 
stinctive distaste for "man in the lump" and fear of their feelings. 
The more so as I could not resist feeling with them. 

With shame do I recall as a student in Berlin being caught in a 
crowd when, with bands playing and banners flying, Crown 
Prince William was returning from a review at Tempelhof . They 
cheered and cheered and I got a lump in my throat, and tears in 



JULY, 1944 357 

my eyes. I was horrified, for I disapproved of William's conduct 
toward his dying father and despised his popularity. Yet I could 
not resist mass emotion. Nor can I even now. Wherefore I have 
done my best not to find myself in a crowd. 

July gth 

MY OWN HOUSE is sheltering a major of the regular (not the "re- 
publican") army, who with his troops was swept down to Cassino 
by the Nazis when, expecting a landing, they rushed southward 
to stop the advance of the Allies. There his men were disarmed 
and set to roadmaking. His story proves that these highways were 
finished in time to be used by the Allies, and that in the monastery 
of Monte Cassino the Germans stored arms, ammunitions, and ex- 
plosives sufficient for a campaign. The Allies had no alternative 
but to blow it up. 

I receive a letter written June 25th by a friend who farms his 
own land on an estate some ten kilometers this side of Siena. It is 
occupied by the Germans and their antiaircraft guns are placed 
within a stone's throw of his house. The privates snatch from the 
peasants everything they find: food, horses, mules, donkeys, cows, 
calves, pigs, etc., etc. 

He went to Siena to ask the protection of the Kommandantur, 
and was told by the German in charge that he could do nothing, 
that the troop was out of hand, that they stopped officers on the 
road and at pistol's point made them get out and leave the cars to 
them. 

Siena itself has been deserted by the specter-Fascist authorities, 
big and little. A kind of municipal police remained to represent 
law and order. 

July 6th 

SOON AFTER last midnight, two officers sent by Marshal Kes- 
selring woke the Cardinal-Archbishop of Florence with an im- 
peratively urgent request. It was to get into a car and rush to 



358 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Rome, there to get a promise of the Allies that they would not oc- 
cupy Florence, or even pass through it, but treat it as an open city 
as by the Germans defined. 

The German definition of an open city, as illustrated by their 
conduct here, is a city where they can have their Kommandantur, 
their S.S. organization, their Gestapo, their armored cars, their 
arms and troops, excepting a tiny bit in the center where they may 
not lodge but pass and repass, shop, stroll, and loiter. 

This is "open city" for Germans, for the Chosen People, for the 
Herrenvolk which has one law for itself and another for the rest 
of mankind. From the Allies, the Germans demand and expect 
that Florence shall harbor no offices or officers, no troops, no arma- 
ments, no armored cars, no cannons, and above all permit no 
transit. 

If the Allies do not consent to this, Marshal Kesselring threatens 
to defend the town of Florence square by square, street by street, 
house to house. 

As in the days of Attila and Pope Leo, Totila and St. Benedict, 
the Church remains when military and civil authorities disappear. 
Both friend and foe here ( and by foe everybody, except the dregs 
of Fascism, means the Germans) appeal to the Cardinal to advise, 
to help, to save. I wonder if a like appeal to the Church could take 
place in France, let alone England or Germany. 

I forgot that a few days ago a man old enough to be the father 
of a gardener on this estate was shot by the Germans. It was for 
neglecting his duty as watchman on a telephone line. 

The Germans are not missing a trick to leave behind them a 
hatred which this time is mingled with contempt. For now they 
seem to be mere pilferers, petty thieves, marauders, and assassins. 

My heart aches for all the Unsereiner Germans of our own 
kind who will suffer for this not only materially but morally. 

July 8th 

THIS MORNING, as the peasants were driving into market with 
their produce, Germans stopped them, pulled them down, and 



JULY, 1944 359 

went away with fruits and vegetables, cart or wheelbarrow, horse 
or ass. 

Yesterday three vehicles stopped in front of the principal fur- 
rier's. One had German officers, the other German soldiers, and 
the third German police. They proceeded to sack the shop, laying 
hands on all they found, chiefly the furs deposited for summer 
keep by the ladies of Florence. 



July Qth 

FINISHED R. C. Muschler's Philipp zu Eulenburg, an excitingly 
interesting book. It consists of three elements: the character and 
career of an artistically and poetically gifted German gentleman, 
who was at the same time a Prussian nobleman; his intimate 
friendship with the impulsive, wayward, conceited, irresponsible, 
but fascinating Kaiser Wilhelm of our day; and the story of how 
he, Eulenburg, was brought to a miserable end. 

He was creatively musical and poetical. He was statesmanlike 
as diplomat, and intimate adviser and moderator of his sovereign. 
He was a perfect husband and a delightful, perhaps too indulgent 
father. He was a loyal, helpful friend. His relations with the Kaiser 
which, by the way, offer an unrivaled view of German affairs 
international as well as national, and a picture of court and society 
ended by rousing envies which account for his fall. 

But for that envy of his seemingly so starry, so radiant position, 
what could the accusations brought against him have availed? 
They were of having committed homosexual acts some twenty 
years previously, and of having perjured himself by swearing that 
he had not. 

The plot against him was directed by that spider Holstein, no- 
torious as the chief weaver of German international intrigue, and 
by the unscrupulous, brilliantly sensational journalist Maximilian 
Harden. Although the first hated Eulenburg out of envy and jeal- 
ousy, both aimed not so much at him as at the Kaiser, meaning 
to expose the latter's lack of judgment, decency, and taste in hav- 
ing a "degenerate" for his closest friend and chief adviser. 



360 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The Kaiser behaved like a sneak, and his Chancellor Bernhard 
von Biilow like a skunk. 

Only a few weeks before the accusation was publicly brought 
against Eulenburg, the Emperor was on the most affectionate 
terms with him, and insisted on bestowing on him the highest 
decoration at his command. From that moment, without waiting 
for private explanation or public trial, he dropped him in the most 
cowardly fashion. To use common parlance, he got such a scare 
that he shrunk away, and hid his face from the friend who hitherto 
had meant most to him, the friend to whom he owed most. The 
Kaiser could have hushed voices and stopped proceedings if a 
craven fear had not got hold of him. 

But his court circles and his Chancellor were actuated by other 
sentiments than cowardice. Billow, who owed the success of his 
career to Eulenburg, not only did nothing for a benefactor to 
whom he had often and recently expressed his gratitude and af- 
fection, but worked against him, helping to prepare his fall, ad- 
vising William not to interfere with the proceedings and seeing 
to it that they were as severe and harsh as possible. In the court, 
in society, in the Foreign Office, not a soul to stand up for him. 
Quite the contrary. All rejoiced in his fall. 

Why? Moral indignation? Surely not. In the first place, the 
charge was far from proven and was of a "crime" supposed to 
have been committed twenty years previously. Twenty years ago 
*1 have never done it since I left school/' Besides, excepting the 
Rhadamanthine spouse of the Kaiser, who in high court, military, 
literary, or journalistic circles cared? Oscar Wilde was at that 
time read in Germany as nowhere else before or since. Portraits 
of him faked up to look the happy pederast were exposed in all 
bookshop windows. Far from being frowned upon, homosexuality 
was not discountenanced. In the army, on the contrary, Greek 
friendship among officers was smiled upon as leading to greater 
efficiency. 

The England of Dilke, Parnell, and Wilde was pruriently puri- 
tanical, cantingly hypocritical, and while personal grudges and 
politics may have contributed, it was offended public opinion, 



JULY, 1044 361 

the bellowing of the herd, that made it impossible to employ them 
in any realm of the commonweal. This was a kind of self -mutila- 
tion. What was lost by excluding Dilke and Parnell from affairs I 
cannot gauge. In the case of Wilde I venture to believe that he 
would have transformed the theater of the English-speaking 
world, and might have been the Congreve of our time. 

In Germany, on the other hand, the fall of an Eulenburg was 
due to nothing but envy and jealousy the invidia of which 
Tacitus spoke nearly two thousand years ago. 

Envy is the master passion of the German. One seldom opens 
their diaries, correspondence, or memoirs without being struck 
by the outrageous role of envy. What an iron discipline or love of 
the task must it take to get teamwork out of such characters! 

We know already what part this hellish ailment played under 
William. Not yet, what ravages it has committed under Hitler. 
No doubt these gangsters felt from the first that they must hang 
together or hang separately! Someday we may learn what part 
envy and jealousy played in the inevitable and invincible strug- 
gles for power among the Nazi paladins. 

July loth 

SCARCELY a doctor to be found. Who has not been pressed for 
Germany is in hiding. Thus the Nazis get little advantage from 
their slaving, but the countries they occupy suffer. 

A couple of days ago the Kommandantur issued the declara- 
tion that six lawyers of high professional standing, known to be 
blameless but friendly neither to Fascism nor to Nazism, had 
been arrested. They are to be kept as hostages and shot at the 
first attack on any individual Germans or after any act of sabo- 
tage. 

Yesterday as I was walking in the grounds I was hailed back 
to the house because the Germans were at hand, slave-driving 
and carrying away cattle, horses, asses, edibles, anything they 
could lay hands on. As I approached the house, groups of young 
and youngish people were sheltering under its shadow. 



362 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Then it turned out that the alarm was caused by two German 
soldiers, tired out deserters perhaps hungry and thirsty, who 
humbly asked for bread. 

July nth 

FOR HOURS before and after midnight, one kept not only hearing 
the muffled boom of the cannon but seeing in quick succession 
flashes of light. This forenoon, continuous sound of explosions. 
The Germans are blowing up and destroying what they cannot 
carry away, that might be of use to the Allies. They do not spare 
hospital furniture and fittings. Even the dear Florentines accus- 
tomed to regard characters and events as being mere Tweedle- 
dum and Tweedledee, one people as good and one government 
as bad as another and all of us, as Holy Church teaches, miserable 
sinners and nothing to choose between us after the experiences 
of the last ten months, on coming in contact with the Allies may 
be moved to consider whether a better humanity, with more de- 
cent ways of keeping law and order, may not be attainable. For 
centuries they have stewed in political atheism and the conviction 
that the struggle "naught availeth." 

I am saying this from my more than fifty years* acquaintance 
with them, and their history. I know this history not as they write 
it with frothy magniloquence. Diaries, letters, memoirs, the hum- 
bler storytellers are more informing. These recount what life is 
like in Tuscany, what their preoccupations, what their politics. 
How free from humbug, from so-called idealism, how close to the 
existence of higher animals as indeed is the lived life of most of 
us everywhere! 

July 12th 

THE TWO Italian regions which in early years I explored most 
minutely are the Marches and the Sienese. Alone or with my wife, 
I returned to them again and again, and few were the towns and 
villages, monasteries and churches I did not study. It was an en- 
chanting adventure, the joy of being the first to recognize the 



JULY, 1944 363 

authorship of countless altarpieces that had not been correctly 
attributed before. 

Little did I think then that some fifty years later American 
troops, our Sammies, would be fighting around and in these same 
towns and villages, furlong almost by furlong, against German 
hosts. Even when Mussolini had the puerile impudence to declare 
war against us, I had no idea that my happy hunting grounds 
would soon be battlefields for our soldiers. 

I wonder how many among them realize that they are tread- 
ing holy ground ground, I mean, that has been tended and 
cherished for three thousand years and more. Are they aware of 
what lives have been lived in these thirty centuries, and what 
traces and records they have left behind? Has any one of my fight- 
ing countrymen my Italian Painters and my Italian Pictures with 
him, to tell him what places he is occupying, and what to see in 
them? 

The Germans whose business it is to interrogate American pris- 
oners say that the great majority have no idea or ideals and no 
notion where they are, and why. Europe does not exist for them, 
Japan does, and Japan they hate. 

July 13th 

PERFECT SUMMER WEATHER. Fresh mornings. Throughout the 
forenoon, even when one stands in the sun, the air is cool and in- 
vigorating. A caressing breeze flatters one's senses. Toward eve- 
ning a golden light glimmers and flashes from all objects, trees, 
towers, palaces, churches. Attavanti, at the end of the fifteenth 
century, tried to produce the effect with touches of gold. On the 
scale of an inset on an illuminated page, it is merely gaudy. Even 
in panel paintings, as in the earliest Peruginos, it is more quaint 
than successful. The great Flemings used more sober means. 

a # # 

The carabinieri, that is to say the Italian gendarmerie, have 
been ordered to Germany or at least to Northern Italy, as I have 
noted already. Many have taken to the woods or joined the bands. 



364 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The instant we are abandoned by the Nazis they are ready to re- 
turn to help establish and maintain order in the interval between 
the two regimes. 

The police are doing the same. Thus, the well-known subchief 
of the Florence police, to avoid leaving with the Nazis and specter 
Fascists, has gone into hiding but is ready to return the moment 
the enemy has cleared out. 

I purposely say the "enemy." In Florence certainly, and I am 
told the same holds for the rest of Italy, the police has always 
been anti-Fascist, and particularly so since the German occupa- 
tion. I need scarcely add that so have been most of the newspaper 
people obliged to write the stuff that filled their papers. 

It must be clear now to thoughtful Germans in the army that 
they have lost the war. Why do they go on? 

In the first place, Hitler and his gang command them and they 
are "conditioned" for obedience. Hitler and Co. many thousands 
know that the moment fighting has ceased there will be no 
place for them in the land of the living. Naturally, they will de- 
fend themselves to the end. Every day is to the good. And apres 
nous le deluge what care they for what their criminal resistance 
may entail upon their country! 

As for the rank and file of officers in the present German forces, 
they have little to go back to. The majority are neither capitalists 
nor landowners. If they had houses they are in ruins, their belong- 
ings scattered to the winds. In the army they still eat their belly- 
ful, more than civilians at home. They still enjoy a sense of power. 
What awaits them when peace comes? Why, then, should they 
not wish to go on even though the war is lost? 

July i$th 

FRIENDS OF MINE have seen the German who represents Himm- 
ler in the whole of Italy. He is a certain Dollmann, good-looking, 
in the early forties, cultivated, affable, a man of the world, and 
claiming to have spent sixteen years in Rome. In just what capac- 
ity remains uncertain. Not in diplomacy, nor in the consular serv- 



JULY, 1944 365 

ice. Neither in finance nor in trade. He speaks of the smartest 
society ladies as intimates, calling them by their Christian or pet 
names. 

He has no high esteem of them and of the way they threw 
themselves into the arms of Ciano, whom they spoiled. The first 
time the latter dined as Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Ger- 
man Embassy, he started making love to the Ambassadress, Frau 
von Mackensen, in a way so disgusting to this lady that she 
loathed him ever after. 

Dollmann regretted that the frivolous, venal, ultrasmart world 
had so much influence in politics. Many important matters, in- 
ternal and international, were decided by Ciano offhand, at the 
golf course, in the midst of his houris and their gigolos. 

I fear it is not only in Rome that the smart world has its finger 
in the political pie but in Paris and perhaps in Washington as 
well. Otherwise how account for our accepting a mayor of Ver- 
sailles as French Ambassador at our seat of government? How 
account after the last war for our harshness to statesmen and ref- 
ugees like Count Karolyi, and our favoring titled "White Rus- 

r\ 

sians r 

To return to Dollmann. He is here to wind up affairs before 
removal. He does not disguise his contempt for the specter-Fascist 
gang and regrets that his people countenanced and aided them. 
Although the Swiss Consul considers the Fascist prefect here an 
angel compared to those of Pistoia and Grosseto, Dollmann puts 
him down as a blackguard and holds him responsible for many of 
the brutalities and massacres committed by Major Carita and 
others. As for this Major, of whom I have written again and again, 
Dollmann has induced him to leave, not by ordering as he could 
have but by assuring him that he could not protect him against 
enemies who were hotfoot after him. 

How can a civilian of such culture, sense, and judgment be the 
lieutenant of Himmler? 

About the war he said little or nothing, but made this interest- 
ing remark: Both sides were handicapped by having to conduct 
it in the halls and corridors of an art museum. 



366 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The Nazis are carrying off all the printing presses and for some 
days we shall be without a daily paper. A more serious privation 
will be the drainage carts, which also are being seized. Entire 
families of peasants are being driven northward, leaving farms 
unattended and deserted. 

Italy has suffered nothing resembling this invasion since the 
Lombards came, nearly fourteen hundred years ago. Those bar- 
barians did not have the possibilities their remote cousins, the 
Nazis, own of asserting their will and power over a prostrate peo- 
ple. Present events help us to understand what a Lombard and 
even a milder Gothic invasion meant. Indeed, it was the German 
way of carrying on war in the first world conflict so humane, so 
gentlemanly compared with their present behavior that drew 
my attention to the history of our third to seventh century. It 
has absorbed me ever since. 

July I'/th 

THOSE ITALIANS who will not and cannot purge themselves 
of the ill will against Britain injected into their veins by Musso- 
lini on the occasion of the sanctions decreed against him for his 
felonious attack on Abyssinia keep sneering that the Allies never 
take a place until the Germans, the invincible, unshakable, stead- 
fastly unmovable, have chosen to leave it. Why have they left it? 
Because it amused them, or because when the war was planned 
to the minutest detail by all-foreseeing German intelligence, such 
and such a position or stronghold, defended obstinately, bitterly, 
for months even, was to be abandoned for the adversary to oc- 
cupy on the prescribed day? What they will not admit is that the 
Germans were compelled to leave if they were to escape the 
alternative of death or surrender. 

It is to be feared that, as after the last war, many of the incur- 
ably German-minded, allying themselves with other politically 
and socially dissatisfied elements, will conspire against any gov- 
ernment that tries to restore administrative, economic, and cul- 
tural order in this much-tried land. 



JULY, 1944 367 

I hear already of cells left behind by escaping specter Fascists, 
cells consisting of individuals intelligent enough to whisper per- 
suasively, armed enough to use violence in order to hinder and 
if possible to prevent the settling down of the people to tolerably 
promising conditions. These individuals will take advantage only 
of every mistake made by the Allied occupation, as well as by 
anti-Fascists. They look forward to profiting by the relative free- 
dom of a liberal regime. They are no negligible gang, and it will 
not be easy to deal with them! 

July i8th 

THE DULL THUD of cannonading all the time. Through the dark 
hours of the night, flashes of light in continuous succession, from 
beyond the hills. 

A journalist who claims to have been present through the con- 
demnation and execution of Ciano insists that the latter behaved 
like a man throughout and died heroically. 

I would gladly believe it, but there is an insistent other version 
that he broke down and had to be dragged to execution. 

Which version is exact? A mile below us all sorts of things have 
been happening during the last ten months. When I try to learn 
just what, just where, just how, I get nothing but mutually con- 
tradicting reports. Something has happened, no doubt. Just what, 
few if any get to know. The rest of us have to be satisfied with the 
"fable agreed upon" called "history." 

July iQth 

HAVING CARRIED AWAY or destroyed everything that might 
serve the Allies or allow life to continue in tolerable conditions, 
the Germans are now blowing up the roads they no longer mean 
to use, and mining the others. 

Mining roads, discharging flying death-carriers, is legitimate, 
clean, chivalrous war, think the unconvertible Italian nationalists; 
but Allied air warfare remains cowardly and contemptible. These 



368 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

same nationalists are in despair over the vanished dream. It was a 
dream of empire, of reacquiring all that Rome once had, even if 
it begins modestly, with the conquest and control of all Mediter- 
ranean shores. Their good right, derived from the fact that they 
inhabit the same land as the ancient Romans, and are therefore 
their heirs. 

Their mourning is sincere enough. If they knew German they 
might find alleviation in murmuring with Goethe: "Weh, weh, sie 
ist zerstort die schone Welt" "the beautiful world is in ruins"; or 
if they knew English, with Shelley: "Out of the day and the 
night/A joy has taken flight." 

But these same nationalists know only golf and jazz English 
and no German whatever, nor have they any idea of the resources, 
the character, the traditions, the history, and the literature of 
these peoples. 

Heading such dreamers of glory and world conquest, Musso- 
lini, when he declared war first against England and eighteen 
months later against America, reminded me of the Tsar Paul of 
Russia. This intermittently mad monarch one day expressed his 
intention of tearing India away from the British. When his ad- 
visers ventured to suggest that the enterprise offered difficulties, 
he answered: "Man schickt die Kosacken voraus und das IJbrige 
findet sich" "We send the Cossacks ahead, and the rest will fol- 
low." 

Two days ago the radio spoke of German lads of eighteen taken 
prisoner, and behaving arrogantly, insolently, declaring it did not 
matter if they lost this war, they would win the next one some 
twenty years hence. 

These boys have been fed with Nazi propaganda and condi- 
tioned to act as "human bullets." Many, the majority, will survive 
and not only work but wait for den Tag, the day when they will 
conquer the earth and be the lords thereof. 

Some five years ago there was staying with us the sixteen-year- 
old son of an American mother and an Austrian father. He hor- 
rified us with his utterances, his deep conviction that while Ger- 
many might lose the war he expected to break out soon, it would 



JULY, 1944 369 

not matter, for they would make another, and another. Nothing 
would stop them from ruling the earth. 



July 2oth 

THE FASCIST RADIO and press are hard driven to invent atroc- 
ities in the Italy occupied by the Allies. The latest is that these 
have requisitioned all the radios so as to oblige people to pur- 
chase American ones. Obviously, the U. S. A. has gone into the 
war, which before it is over will have cost it a good hundred mil- 
liards at least, for the profit of selling a few thousand radio sets. 

As we were sitting out on the terrace after dinner yesterday eve- 
ning, servants and peasants dashed up in a panic. Germans were 
in a farm below, and there was no telling what they might not 
want to take or do. Would the padrone come and see. He went 
and when he returned told us that the Germans were two 
n.c.o.'s, one toward thirty perhaps, the other barely twenty, and 
that they were shouting Prussian-wise, as if addressing deaf male- 
factors. The younger spoke some Italian. A handsome lad he 
seemed, but rather insolent and probably capable of any cruelty. 
They disappeared when it turned out that what they were really 
after, a pig and a good fat one, was not to be had on the farm. 

One of the most arduous afterwar problems will be to re-edu- 
cate and humanize the Hitler youth of Germany, conditioned as 
they have been to Nazi cannibalism. 

July 2ist 

WHEREIN DO I DIFFER from a good Catholic? Only in this: he 
believes that his Church knows, and believes what, having unques- 
tionable authority, his Church has told him. I have long ago con- 
cluded that my mind has not been made for coping with these 
problems. I go so far as to question whether any human mind can 
deal with them. Yet I too have my faith. 

My faith consists in the certainty that life is worth living, life 
on its own terms. I know it is limited, a tiny speck as even the 



370 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

earth in the infinite. But there is the infinitesimal, the infinitely 
little, and reality pervades it as completely and is a reality I can 
live by. What is that but faith? Confidence in life as worth while, 
confidence in humanity despite all its devilish propensities, zest 
for suitable exercise of function, enjoyment of the individual hu- 
man being as a work of art. 

July zzd 

ALL DAY YESTERDAY there was louder cannonading, and more 
continuous, than I had ever heard before, even at Eastertide of 
1918 in Paris. In my bedroom it sounded as if heavy rollers were 
rumbling over my head. In the evening a great river of flame was 
flaring in the near distance, and reminded one of descriptions of 
burning lakes of naphtha. It was a Neronian spectacle. Nobody 
knew what it meant, nor do we know yet. It looked as if the Ger- 
mans had drenched with benzine the sleepers of the railway to- 
ward Pisa, and set fire to them so as to stop the train service as 
soon as possible. 

What would I not give for a copy of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 
to read what it, the best-informed and most impartial daily known 
to me, has to say about events within Germany! That something 
like a serious menace to Hitlerism is cooking up is clear. But how 
organized, how widespread, with what forces, what leaders? 

Read Egmont. It leaves the impression that Goethe must have 
conceived it in his youth, when he was lyrically creative, but 
composed most of it when he had lost this vein and was already 
on the way to become a verbal Canova or Thorvaldsen in his 
plays, and elsewhere a great gnomic poet, and even greater man 
of letters. As a man of letters he was probably the greatest that 
ever lived. As a creative artist of the highest order, he counted 
less and less after his early thirties. 

There is a wild west wind blowing from the sea. It invigorates 
me despite the heat, and I enjoy it as much as reading Shelley's 
"Ode" written at the end of the Cascine, the public park that I 
see from afar even as I write. 



JULY, 1944 371 



July 23d 

THE RUMBLING more and more continuous, and even nearer. 
I can understand that one gets used to it, and if it lasts long 
enough one misses it as one does the rolling of a vessel on which 
one has crossed the stormy seas. 

July 24th 

LESS BOMBARDMENT but no fewer explosions. The Germans 
blow up the roads, not only the highways but the byways as well, 
and burn what they do not blow up. They can have no dearth of 
petrol and dynamite, seeing the way they employ the one and the 
other. 

And things go on in the most exquisite summer weather, fresh, 
bracing, breezy, sparklingly radiant, with incense hanging on 
every bough. This morning at six by solar time, the thermometer 
marked only 65 Fahrenheit, and although the sun in the after- 
noon yesterday was glowing, the west wind made it agreeable. 

It seems that the German commander in chief, Kesselring, 
has assured the Cardinal that he would not touch either the water 
or light. Yesterday the supplies of both were being mined, and 
when the German authorities were appealed to, they declared 
they had had orders to destroy them, and that these orders had 
not been countermanded. Meanwhile, Kesselring himself is 
said to have disappeared. Every time the light goes out, one asks 
whether it is for good. Italian engineers declare that once de- 
stroyed it will take two years to restore. We should be in a fix, for 
petrol and oil lamps have vanished, and neither petrol nor oil is 
to be had. 

The Wehrmacht the German army must be reduced indeed 
if obliged to seize the few cabs that still circulated in Florence. 
They not only took the vehicles and the horses but forced the 
drivers to deliver their reserves of fodder. 

I am told their privates now make a miserable show, haggard, 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

dust-bitten, ragged, and discouraged. The spirit of the lively and 
gay war has disappeared from their faces. Those that reach their 
homes will bring as sorry a sight as they will find. 

July 2$th 

REREAD Schiller's Don Carlos, a fascinating dramatic poem 
rather than stage play, except for the last act, which has theatrical 
possibilities. 

Never before Schiller or after him in any other country, any 
other language, have there been such eloquent appeals for per- 
sonal freedom and humanity. His plays are the operative, spiritual 
heritage of every German; for not only does he learn them at 
school but he hears them on the stage. Every educated German 
knows their tirades by heart. 

How, then, account for the German's abject submission to au- 
thority, even of a Hitler, a Goring, or worse still a Himmler? 

In the first place, there is the good historical reason that the 
authority of the state of Prussia, let us say saved the German 
from the insecurity, the caprice, the violence of the feudal classes. 
This was followed more and ever more by the Potsdam spirit, 
which was ripening to perfection just as Schiller was composing 
his youthful plays and, with the enactment of universal con- 
scription, was destined to reduce the German to the automatized, 
mechanized biped he becomes, the moment he is called upon to 
form part of the ARMY. Be it remembered that in the enlarged 
Prussia which is the Germany of our day, it is the army that dis- 
poses of a nation to feed, clothe, lodge, and amuse it, not a nation 
that has an army to defend it. 

The same German who as private individual is sentimental, 
tender, romantic, literary, artistic, will, like a Jesuit with his 
perinde ac cadaver, carry out any and every order of his military 
superiors without turning a hair without a moment's hesitation 
derived from personal feeling. 

The trouble with the German is that he cannot break the logi- 
cal thread which he follows through the labyrinth of war, no more 



JULY, 1944 373 

than in any other of his activities. Where these activities, the 
exact sciences, for instance, can profit by the logical chain, the 
German is wonderful. Everywhere else he ends as the monster he 
is in war, and the cuttlefish he is in philosophy. It takes intellect, 
intelligence, and judgment to know when to snap a dialectical 
process short. 



July 

THE ESTATE known as Torre Galli happens to lie near several 
roads, and the Germans have occupied it. They do not remain 
more than some days at a time, and are relatively decent, al- 
though they take as their own whatever suits them. The agent 
and his wife try to remain on good terms with them, and the indi- 
vidual German, being as human as the rest of us, chatters and 
even talks. Now that the Allies are imminent the Germans are 
saying that people have nothing to fear, that English and Ameri- 
cans are kindly, but beware of Moroccans! 

Despite the fact that the Germans are so reduced for transport 
that they have seized every motorized vehicle, every draft animal, 
and nearly every bicycle and wheelbarrow, they have just sent 
a train of some eighty lorries to carry away the works of art stored 
in Florence. 

What can be their object? To prevent their falling into the 
hands of the Allies? Can the Germans really believe that the Al- 
lies would claim them as Italy's share of reparations; or are the 
Germans carrying them away to use them if indeed they reach 
their destination as things to bargain with, threatening to de- 
stroy them if the Allies insist on hard terms? 

Or is it possible that German leaders still believe they will win 
the war with the help of the specter Fascists, and restitute the 
works of art to a covictorious Mussolinian Italy? 

July soth 

NOT WRITTEN for several days, the situation being too confused, 
uncertain, unintelligible as much as Waterloo was to Fabrice 



374 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



del Dongo in Stendhal's Chartreuse de Parme. Continuous explo- 
sions have been going on of factories, mills, bridges, roads. From 
beyond the cosmic apse of the southwestern sky flashes, huge 
columns of smoke and growling, rumbling booming of artillery, 
aerial and terrestrial. 

But yesterday evening as we were peacefully sitting out on a 
terrace as romantic as any in Tuscany, a man came up with the 
order just given out by the Kommandantur. It was something like 
this: Seeing that the Allies have vouchsafed no answer to the Ger- 
man request to treat Florence as an open city, the Wehrmacht 
would have to do everything in its power to prevent the Allies 
from attacking and damaging it and destroying the bridges. 
Therefore a rhomboid of territory both sides the Arno in the heart 
of the city must be evacuated by noon today. 

Of course, now it will be said that the stupidity of the Allies is 
as destructive as the criminality of the others and that they have 
but one notion, which is to push forward like a steam roller push- 
ing the Germans before them by brute force alone. 

Did not Napoleon and Clausewitz teach that war consists of 
the effort to bring superior force to bear on the enemy? 

I would feel like saying: "Yes, the English and Americans are 
neither military-minded nor war-minded. When you make war 
on them you cannot crush and conquer them by surprise as the 
Germans have the Poles, the Dutch, the Belgians, the French 
even. They will take time to get ready, and when at long last they 
feel ready they will be cautious, make sure of their rear, and ad- 
vance inch by inch, at snail's pace not a bit like the Russian 
armies you admire so much. Moral: do not go to war with the 
slow, stupid Anglo-Saxons, unless you feel materially and morally 
ready to have it long and devastating." 

My own house is occupied by Germans. Luckily, they are de- 
cent people. They have taken the first and second floors, obliging 
my wife, bedridden as she is, to occupy an apartment under the 
roof, where, at this season, it is boiling hot. They have been urg- 
ing her to leave, as they believe it likely that I Tatti will be under 



JULY, 1944 375 

heavy fire and may suffer destruction or at least serious damage. 
They went so far as to offer transport to take her down to the 
best hotel in town. 

I fervently hope this has not been carried out, for the same 
hotel has to be evacuated, by noon today, along with every other 
building in that region. 

Much genuine distress here over the destruction going on: the 
Germans deliberately make a desert of every bit of country they 
leave; the countryside will never be the same, the towns will be 
rubbish heaps. True. As for the towns, I fear the worst from re- 
building. When I think what in the last fifty years the Genoese 
have made of their superb city, and what under Fascist rule has 
been done to every considerable town in Italy, I cherish no hope 
that rebuilding will not be in the worst taste attainable. 

For the countryside the prospect is not so dark. It has been fash- 
ioned by three thousand years of culture. Impenetrable forests, 
dreary marshes, bare hillsides have been turned into the great 
park which Italy now is. True that visually it has lost a great deal, 
owing to immense increase of population and the accompanying 
decline of taste a decline amounting to indifference to every- 
thing but the showy, the smart, and the new. How unlike us in 
America, who build houses to look "weather-beaten"! 

Happily, the Italian countryside is, like humanized nature 
everywhere, indestructible; and the damage done through ma- 
terial violence or aesthetic vulgarity will be licked into shape, 
assimilated, and absorbed. 

I almost forgot to add that since yesterday, just before mid- 
night, we have been without light. It means that the supply of 
electric power has been cut off, and nobody need be told what that 
means nowadays when so much depends on it. No more laid-on 
water, no mills going, no hygienic services, no more trams, no 
more radio. The telephone was cut off days ago. At last we are 
completely isolated. We can look over the battle that is raging, 
but without the interpretation of the radio or even the newspaper 
we can make little sense of what we see. 



376 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



July 3ist 

THE TERRACE of this villa, facing the heights, hills, and moun- 
tains that environ the vale of Florence southward and westward, 
is like the dress circle of a theater, Florence itself being the or- 
chestra and the hills beyond the stage. 

From this dress circle, by moonlight yesterday we enjoyed 
not in a physiological but in the aesthetic sense of the verb a 
marvelous spectacle accompanied with appropriate music. The 
music consisted of the growl, the rumble, the roll of cannon that 
sounded antiphonaL Visually it was more impressive still. A dis- 
tant mountain flamed up like Vesuvius. From beyond the hills 
came flashes of light, fan- or pyramid-shaped. This spectacle, this 
music, went on for hours, Just what it meant was beyond me, al- 
though my fellow spectators interpreted it to their satisfaction. 

I could not help being frivolous, and wondering what people 
would not pay for a seat in our dress circle: to see the same per- 
formance, if it were merely theatrical, and not fraught with tragic 
possibilities. 

Tragic-minded must have been many of the hundred thousand 
who, before noon yesterday, had to evacuate their homes from 
both sides of the Arno, 

People of all classes were seen waiting for their turn to lap up 
water in any kind of vessel, no matter how humble, from ground 
taps. Others carrying what they could with them, to provide for 
the most rudimentary necessities. Still others taking away the sick 
on wheelbarrows. 

Why? I cannot believe that the Germans mean to defend Flor- 
ence house by house. It does look, however, as if their plan is to 
blow up the bridges, including the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte 
della Trinita. For my part, as I already have written, I could more 
easily forgive the destruction of any other building. 

Besides learning what war nowadays really means, people un- 
der fifty are offered free of charge the experience of a world where 



JULY, 1944 377 

electric power was not everything, where steam was still the rul- 
ing omnipotence, where the telephone, the wireless, and air traffic 
did not exist. 

So far so good and a salutary lesson for those who take these 
facilities and comforts for granted, with no thought of what they 
cost. They cost the passionate effort of genius on the part of in- 
ventors, improvers, and perfectionists. And they may cost us our 
freedom. 

Now that power is so overwhelmingly electrical and this power 
so concentrated, what is to prevent a gang from seizing it and 
thereby reducing us to mercy? A brilliant Italian journalist, a po- 
litical atheist, Curzio Malaparte, some fifteen years ago wrote 
his Technique dun Coup d'Etat Technique for Seizing Power 
and asserted that the Bolshevik revolution was brought about 
that way. Despite Trotsky's sneers, we should take Malaparte's 
warning seriously. 

People under fifty must not, however, jump to the conclusion 
that we were as badly off as they are now. We had kerosene lamps 
and gas to light us. We had water that did not depend on electri- 
cal pumping. We had trams and other horse-drawn vehicles, for 
long and short distances. We had all sorts of contrivances for com- 
fort that have disappeared and are not easily replaced. 

Should our present condition continue, even if it got no worse, 
we soon should be transported not to the life after the Napole- 
onic Wars but to the time of the barbarian invasions. One thing 
after another is missing without which trades cannot be carried 
on. Most medicines not to be had; doctors disappear for fear of 
being carried off to German slavery; barbers likewise; hospitals, 
clinics, and nursing homes taken over by the Germans, often at 
only a few hours' notice, with no pity for the patients. A savage 
and embittered "ally" of the Italian is the German who answers 
every protest with "Go and see what it is like in the Fatherland, 
you who still are wallowing in luxury"; for what they find here 
seems luxury to them, and they take a malignant pleasure in spoil- 
ing or making way with it. Here in Italy as widespread and 



378 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

thorough a decline of material civilization and standard of life 
has not been known since the Lombard invasion fourteen hundred 



years ago. 



August ist 



A MOONLIT EVENING like yesterday's, enjoyed on the terrace 
of this villa with its fronded arbors framing oblong landscapes, 
with its cypresses exhaling incense as they dip upward into the 
limpid ether, could be worded only by a Shakespeare. It was not 
spectacular like the previous evening and was almost silent. Far 
away lights and rumblings. This quiet went on through the night, 
and is continuing. 

Rumor has it that the Allies instead of advancing have re- 
treated. How stupid and cruel of them to leave the population of 
Florence in the fix they are in at present! Even vegetable gardens 
have been irrigated with electrically laid-on water. Now all will 
be dried up and perish. C'est la faute de FAngleterre! 

By the way, with a true instinct that in the long run language 
makes "race," the people here refuse to speak of us Americans as 
separate or distinct from the English. 

It reminds me of hearing years ago an Italian lady speak of her 
brother-in-law as having married an English person in New York. 
I ventured to ask how it happened that he had to go to America to 
find an Englishwoman. "No, no," she protested, "I mean an Eng- 
lish-speaking American." 

German privates say that they are retiring from Florence but 
will remain in the mountains some five and twenty miles away 
till September, when the new weapon is ready that will give them 
back all they seemingly have lost. They say that the King of Eng- 
land has brought his Life Guards with him. They are to be clean- 
shaved, their gorgeous uniforms in apple-pie order, with drum 
majors swaggering and privates parading, all to impress the Flor- 
entines and to point a contrast with the ragged, dusty, tired Ger- 
mans. 

Among German subalterns, admiration of Nazi rule is not yet 



AUGUST, 1944 379 

extinct. They say it has been marvelous and it will be a great pity 
if it fails. 

August 2d 

YESTERDAY, relative quiet. The evening as silent as the moon, 
which seemed to be rounding out before our eyes. Only toward 
midnight cannonading and the churning of aircraft began and 
went on for hours. Again it sounded as if stone rollers were hur- 
tling over my head. It has gone on this forenoon. 

I have already settled down to short commons in the way of 
baths and to the light of one candle or oil lamp. I still miss the 
radio. We are cut off from news. Even the local daily papers do 
not appear. We are reduced to bits of gossip. 

If true, the most important rumor is that Turkey has declared 
war against Germany. It would facilitate the advance of the Al- 
lies through the Balkans, where the overwhelming majority of the 
populations must be in sympathy with them, in Bulgaria no less 
than in Yugoslavia, and perhaps even in Rumania. 

The Bulgars are a strange people, and the passionate propa- 
ganda of a Bourchier in their favor at the beginning of the last 
war blinded English policy to the fact that while the nation was 
Russophile, the government was Russophobe. Nor has the situa- 
tion changed. It is the same today. Ever since the Greek cam- 
paign, if not earlier, the head of the Bulgarian government has 
been a mere Quisling, an excellent archaeologist known to be 
wholeheartedly German-minded but with no trace of political 
sense or experience. 

The battle is fast approaching and we may soon be in the firing 
line. The villa of Quarto, where most of my valuable books as well 
as my collection of photographs are stored, seems to be there 
already. 

August $d 

THE VILLA I mentioned yesterday was occupied in the after- 
noon by the Germans. It is a palatial house with magnificently 



380 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

furnished apartments. The owners were busy putting my books 
in safety when the Germans arrived and unceremoniously stalked 
from room to room to pick out what best suited their fancy. 

The officers were civil in a way, Nicky, whose mother tongue is 
German, spoke them fair and they responded. They said they ex- 
pected to stay only two or three days, and would be followed 
soon by Allied troops. They, the Germans, would leave every- 
thing as they had found it, spoiling nothing and taking nothing 
away. When the others came it would be another story! They had 
been at Montegufoni, where they had enjoyed the company of 
beautiful pictures particularly a portrait by Rubens. Unfortu- 
nately, they could not save them from the rapacity of the Ameri- 
cans, who would carry them off and sell them at fabulous prices. 

As a matter of fact, Montegufoni is a medieval castle built, if 
memory does not fail me, by the Acciauoli. In the seventeenth 
century it was humanized and made inhabitable as a country 
house. In the last century it became a rabbit warren for riffraff, 
and the present owners had no little difficulties in getting rid of 
them and asserting their proprietory rights. 

These owners now are the well-known triad of Sitwells. To my 
knowledge they had no old masters that I would have given a 
hundred dollars for. 

So much for Montegufoni.* To return to the German officers, 
the chief of whom was a first lieutenant, they spoke with the 
greatest contempt of Italians, of their indolence, of the way they 
lounged about the streets instead of being at the front, and above 
all of the bad reception they, the Germans, had met with every- 
where. Not even in Russia had the civil population behaved so 
ill. 

It takes the dense conceit of Germans to blind them to the fact 
that from the beginning of their occupation they treated people 
and things in a way to confirm the stories of massacres, devasta- 
tions, and terrorism rumored but scarcely believed. 

** I was not aware while referring to Montegufoni that many of the Florentine 
Gallery masterpieces had been stored there to be out of the way of air raids ( Oc- 
tober, 1944). 



AUGUST, 1944 381 

What is the result? The very name of "German" fills the inhab- 
itants of this land with fear. It is as if the devil incarnate was 
coming with his bull's-eye stare, his horns, his fangs, and his 
claws. They run and hide. The most humble and harmless pri- 
vates make them blench. As a rule all these want is drink and 
food. 

Last night from the porter's lodge, a fifth of a mile down, came 
the telephone message that they were there. It turned out that 
they were two poor devils perishing with thirst, who said there 
was no water to be had in the neighborhood, and could they have 
some wine to drink. 

Returning again to the villa of Quarto, and the German officers, 
a comic episode was the following. 

The villa has been sheltering many hiding from the Nazi-Fas- 
cist terror, or from possible bombardment. Among them five Jews, 
a mother with a son, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, 
one of these a baby boy of some eight months, looking like an 
infant Buddha. A German youthful sergeant took it, dandled it, 
fell into raptures over it while his comrades were laughing at 
him and asking whether, when he got married, he would not like 
to have just such a baby. And he, the German, never guessed that 
he was caressing an offspring of the calamitous, infectious, sub- 
human, verminous Jewish race. 

Before going further let me add that these Jews had been 
among the most respected, most public-spirited, and wealthiest 
of their "race" in Italy. At the appearance of the Nazis they has- 
tened to leave the villa where they had been hiding since autumn. 
Nicky last saw these people, accustomed to every luxury, walking 
toward the town, pushing before them the baby carriage and a 
hand cart laden with all it could hold. 

Yesterday evening the moon was nearly full and it was more 
romantically lovely than ever an Arcadia. Until after eleven 
almost complete silence. Since then even till noon today contin- 
uous growling, grumbling, bombarding, and exploding. While in 
my bath this morning, it sounded as if the house were going to 
tumble on my head. 



382 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

The battle is approaching, and closing us in. Yet we can find 
out no details of what and where. At any moment we may have to 
leave. From this morning's aerial incursions shell splinters have 
been picked up on the terrace, just outside where I am writing. 

In a house below this, the Germans arrived toward midnight, 
Prussian-wise ordered everybody out of their beds, occupied the 
place, and ate and drank up everything they could find. 

They accuse the Italians of having betrayed them not only in 
Africa, in Sicily, and here, but everywhere. All German defeats 
are the fault of the Italians even Stalingrad! 

August 4th 

DESPITE THE PROMISE that they would leave the place as they 
had found it, breaking nothing and taking nothing, the orderlies 
and privates, if not the officers themselves, smashed the huge 
terra-cotta vases containing lemon trees at Quarto, threw down 
an over-life-size statue, carried away provisions of every sort and 
all else they fancied, typewriters, footgear, traveling bags, ko- 
daks, etc., etc. They decamped in the late afternoon of the next 
day, because the armored cars and ammunitions they brought 
along were immediately discovered by our aircraft and blown to 
bits. 

The last twenty-four hours have been eventful and no inmate 
has slept in the interval. The evening passed in relative quiet. 
From this outlook, we enjoyed the Neronian spectacle of a huge 
fire which flared up like an immense column of thick, glowing 
flame, thinner in the middle than at the ends. At the same time a 
great explosion seemed to burst from the heart of Florence. It 
threw up a serpentine jet of smoke that reached the sky, and then 
bent to the right as if to meet the flames of the conflagration. We 
fear the sound was of a bridge dynamited by the Germans. 
Flashes and many-colored rockets kept lighting up the horizon. 

I was undressing toward midnight when I was told to keep 
doors and windows wide open. 

About a quarter of a mile below this hill runs a lane which 



AUGUST, 1944 383 

narrows into a bottleneck. At the narrowest point are a number of 
houses grouped around a grocery. The occupiers of this hamlet 
had just been given orders to evacuate within two hours. It was 
to be dynamited in order to clutter up the way with enough de- 
bris to provide an obstacle to the pursuing Allies. 

The same lane debouches in a road that leads to the great high- 
way to Bologna. It is the Germans' principal line of retreat, and 
they do what they can to delay pursuit. They are reported to have 
used the same technique in every village, road, or lane passed 
through. If so, it would go some way to explain the slow progress 
of the Allies in this Italian campaign. 

* * * 

While we were waiting for this explosion, sleep was not easy. 
It had scarcely come when I heard the voices of fellow inmates 
talking together. I lay quietly and after some time Nicky came to 
tell me that the Belvedere, a small villa with peasant house an- 
nexed, on this same estate, was being occupied by the Germans. 
First they asked for food and drink, and then told the tidings that 
they had come to plant a battery to defend the hillside against 
the oncoming "Tommy." Protests were unavailing, and the ter- 
rified peasants, as well as the refugees in hiding, implored the 
landlord to come to the rescue. Nicky, who went with him, could 
not get anything out of the troops except that they were obeying 
orders. Finally they offered to take her to their superior officer, 
who might be appealed to. 

I must not forget to say that straggling, footsore, weary troop- 
ers came up again and again through the night, some asking 
where they could find their squad, others for a bit of food, others 
for shelter. One solemn, almost sepulchral cry I shall not easily 
forget: "Let me lie down somewhere, and please be quick, for 
morning will be here soon, when we must start out again bald 
wird es Morgen sein und da mussen wir welter gehen. Despite 
myself, I could not help recalling the refrain in the Proven9al 
aubade: I' alba, Talba tan tost va dawn is coming so soon. 

While Nicky was being taken to the officer, other troops to the 
number of forty, at least, invaded our own terraces and declared 



384 HUMOR AND REFLECTION 

that they had come to occupy the house, that it was to be the 
foremost spot of their new line of defense, and that we must get 
out at once. 

Happily, I did not know of this before Nicky returned from her 
first mission. I saw in a flash my works of art, priceless paintings 
and rare sculptures, either destroyed by explosion and fire or, at 
best, carried off to Naziland. Moreover, I might be captive not 
only as an alien enemy but as a "non- Aryan" and sent to Lublin 
if not killed first. Until the situation improved, as it did after sev- 
eral hours, I remained as in a nightmare, saying: "No, no, it can- 
not be, it is only a horrid dream." 

Where could one go if one was allowed to go? Florence we 
could not get to. Where else? Nor could I trudge far on foot, 
carrying with me some few bits of apparel. Then there were the 
manuscripts of four years' scribbling, and the books I brought 
here for my work, publications of an expensive kind, for many 
years to come irreplaceable. Without them my present task could 
not be continued, as many of these volumes would not be found 
in the libraries of Florence even if I could afford the time and en- 
ergy it would use up in getting to them and returning to the villa. 

Again Nicky appealed to the Germans, individually not bad 
fellows, although parachutists. They too answered that they were 
obliged to carry out orders, but that she might apply to their su- 
periors, who were to be found some three miles away, under Cer- 
cina. A corporal offered to guide her. 

As Nicky can speak Germans fair in their own Ladeen and, as 
it were, sing the songs of the Fatherland to these hard-visaged 
but not always hardhearted and nearly always homesick lads, 
she succeeds in softening them and gaining their confidence. 

The corporal was bitter against the English. He grimly enjoyed 
telling her that in France they were being massacred by tens of 
thousands and their armored cars smashed. The flying bombs 
were reducing London to a heap of ruins. Other towns suffered 
little less. Germany had still more formidable arms to launch. Be- 
sides, he knew for a fact that the British were so war-weary that 
their falling out of the fight was a matter of days. 



AUGUST, 1944 385 

They were good fighters, no mistake, and clean fighters. The 
Americans were redskins destroying everything as they came 
along. 

The officers Nicky had to see spoke in the same strain and in- 
sisted that the Russians would never touch an inch of the sacred 
soil of the Fatherland, and that this time the Anglo-Saxons would 
learn the lesson not to fall on Germany when fighting for her 
life. 

At last Nicky reached the commander of the squad camping 
on our terrace. With his men he was occupying the rooms adjoin- 
ing a wayside wineshop. This camp, as indeed the one she visited 
earlier, was a picture of filth, confusion, and squalor. Dirty dishes, 
chunks of meat, opened tins, broken crockery, some soldiers fast 
asleep in uncomfortable positions, some shaving, and others 
washing. Complete comradeship between officers and men. No 
trace of the Styx that used to separate them. The commander, a 
captain, received Nicky with an icy blue look and no little hard- 
ness, but he too softened as she talked and when, at one moment, 
she said: "Can't you be a little human?" he laughed heartily and 
said it was asking too much after five years of war. Nicky ex- 
plained that our house is just above the hospital city, which they 
should not expose to being bombarded, and besides that our place 
was the official residence of a functioning neutral Minister, and 
therefore enjoyed extraterritorial rights. Moreover, if they re- 
spected its neutrality we could expect the Allies to do the same. 
It might be more advantageous as neutral than as occupied 
ground. 

He would not listen, said he knew nothing about extraterritori- 
ality and that he had not studied law, and that it was out of the 
question that the line of defense as it had been decided upon 
could be changed; yet he gave in, and in Nicky's presence had 
himself put in telephonic communication with his direct superior, 
an Oberstleutnant, to whom he reported the case. Evidently the 
answer was not unfavorable, for he told Nicky that he would 
have to go himself to re-examine the positions, then to speak to 
his superior, and that in the afternoon he would let us know. He 



386 RUMOU &W REFLECTION 

offered to send her back in a car which wa,S! to take one of his 
colleagues, a lieutenant, to our place. There wvais much cursing 
and swearing before the car could be got readljy,. Finally it started 
and to our great relief Nicky reappeared lee&og rather hopeful 
about the result of her mission. 

Meanwhile, the lieutenant commanding thue innit that should 
have been quartered here had had a look at thie; house and had 
shown some disappointment over its having nnio- cellars and no 
bomb shelters. Waiting for the reply from hfe mperiors, he did 
not take possession, but remained sitting oa fcbfc iterrace with his 
noncoms, while the privates spread themselrassiioout all over the 
grounds near the house, some sleeping, othen-dwiimg, others pre- 
paring their midday meal, hanging about theesliitchen door and 
clamoring for all sorts of things, A squad of jribdoesers was digging 
holes for the machine guns to be placed aloiagjtthe terrace and 
pergola. About two o'clock the Hauptmann &||3eared, inspected 
the grounds, and reported by telephone to ttJMs Oberstleutnant 
that he would suggest respecting the house Itellllbut keeping the 
excellent position on the terraces. Evidently lHaenreply was favor- 
able to us, for, shortly after this conversation., hi bad Nicky called 
out and told her that they were leaving ties jjkce but that the 
Minister was to put up the flag of his legattoro ion the towers of 
the villa. 

This was done at once and the squad began to [pack and retire. 

They did not go far, some two or three hirndbdl feet higher up 
on the hill above our grounds. As a matter oi lfaftft:, they use these 
freely for going up and down, and their battteri are placed just 
above us. We are not occupied. The owner's magnificent collec- 
tion of incunabula and rare books as well as my (fiown works of art, 
and perhaps even my own life, are safe. 

All recognize that we owe our relative safely t<n Wicky. 

August jth 

THREE NIGHTMARISH DAYS, and the end i!s mot yet. I doubt 
whether at any time one has been more cut oflf ftlaan we are here 



AUGUST, 1944 

now. We look over Florence and, with a glass, can identify 
churches and palaces in every detail not only in the town itself 
but on the semicircle of hills beyond. Yet we know nothing of 
what goes on. Even rumors do not reach us. We see smoke going 
up from fires across the Arno, but we cannot make out what is 
burning. 

The bombing has been more and more deafening, more and 
more frightening. Left to myself, I should not have thought of 
shelter, but my host, feeling his responsibility, insists on my keep- 
ing indoors and sleeping in the safer part of the house. The two 
first nights we slept in a room to the back. It is under an over- 
hanging rock of the hillside, is built of concrete, and has over it 
a room of the same dimension and same materials. There we lay, 
some ten persons, including a baby of fourteen months. Yesterday 
this did not seem safe enough to the head of the house. He in- 
sisted on establishing us in the vaulted corridor running along the 
back wall. 

We passed these nights listening to the whirling of shells, the 
rattle of machine guns, and the crackling of grenades. At times 
I seemed to hear hoarse German voices and their heavy tread 
just outside. 

At last, toward five, on the first two mornings, the firing 
stopped and with a full feeling for St. Ambrose and his flock 
greeting the dawn after watching through a night of terror, we 
could retire to real beds. 

Our hillside happens to lie between the principal line of Ger- 
man retreat along the Via Bolognese and a side road reaching 
the same Via Bolognese after a few kilometers. The Allies are 
bombarding both these roads and the hill above us as well, for 
it creeps with parachutists hiding in dugouts in the wood and 
keeping their batteries going at the top. We are at the heart of 
the German rear-guard action, and seriously exposed. 

"Pleasant or unpleasant, it is always an experience," as I heard 
a Californian patrician say after visiting nocturnal haunts in Arab 
Cairo. 

No news of what is happening in my own place and to my bed- 



388 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

ridden wife, although they are not two miles away as the crow 
flies. 

On the other hand, from Quarto reports come through, all bad. 

It seems that since the departure of the first unit, other isolated 
groups of parachutists have been tramping through the house, 
bursting open doors and safes, opening cabinets and drawers, 
scattering on the floor everything they found, and picking out, as 
from a rag fair, whatever they could carry away. 

It is a sign that even the iron discipline of the Germans is giv- 
ing way, and that officers no longer can or dare keep the troops 
from turning into marauders. 

The bulletin of August 2d distributed to the German troops 
has fallen into my hands. It is supposed to keep them informed 
of what is going on. It is propaganda of the grossest kind. Suc- 
cessful Abwehr defense, repulse of enemy everywhere. Two 
Lithuanian villages only, with names never heard of before, lost. 
In Normandy, the Allies have been using their terroristic aircraft. 
In the same breath they are told that German aviation has suc- 
cessfully attacked North African ports and that German flying 
bombs were creating havoc in England. They have been tenderly 
respectful of works of art, and for that reason have treated Flor- 
ence as an open city. The Allies, on the contrary, would not con- 
sent to do likewise, and did not care what happened to the noble 
mother of the arts and her marvelous monuments, if they, the 
Germans, were driven to defend it. 

While this inferno has been going on, we have been reading 
Goethe's Iphigenie. What a contrast between the noble humanity 
of this beautiful drama and the bestiality of Hitlerism, both prod- 
ucts of the same soil, same air, same fundamental living condi- 
tions. How is it possible that the same people should produce 
such opposites? The answer perhaps is that the great majority of 
Germans were alien to the traditions, the training, the culture 
the Bildung, in short of the classes that could beget a Goethe 
and his readers. What this Bildung meant to the ruling class in 
Germany not more than fifty years ago may be read in Harry 
Kessler's autobiography. 



AUGUST, 1944 389 



August gth 

THE NIGHT from the 7th to the 8th was infernal Booming, bang- 
ing, crashing, whistling, hissing, and the house creaking and shak- 
ing, threatening to crack open. Early yesterday it was decided 
that the women should migrate to Quarto. Sacked and gutted as 
they might find the house, it had roomy dry cellars where they 
could feel safe. 

Yesterday repeatedly they came saying that after all they must 
place machine guns on our terrace. Nicky rushed to their camps 
to mollify them. They promised they would do their best to put 
the guns not on our own grounds, which they would try to respect 
as neutral territory, but to right and left just outside. More than 
that they could not do, because they must defend the hillside, as 
it commands an important line of retreat. 

How long will they defend it? They themselves told us that the 
Allies were already bivouacking near the Piazza Beccaria, well 
on this side of the Arno, and that they had heard the shouts of 
joy with which these were received. 

Nor are there many Germans remaining. So it is not even to 
save the shedding of sacred Nordic blood that their rear is so 
obstinately defended. Whatever their reason, we still run great 
risks until they receive orders to withdraw. 

As individuals, the subaltern speak fair. Here, when they come, 
they are treated to coffee and cigarettes. They know no Italian, 
almost no French, and only a trifle more English. Nicky inter- 
prets, and one tries to keep them in a good disposition of mind. 

Meanwhile, nothing can surpass the visual beauty of these 
days, and the delightfulness of the weather. It is fresh yet radiant, 
and a pleasure to remain in the sun even at noon. Except when 
bombardment is going on, or an airplane is buzzing in the sky, 
it is the silence of an abandoned city. Not a sound comes up from 
Florence, nor of traffic on the roads. 

As a great concession by the Germans, women at certain lim- 
ited hours are allowed to leave their houses to fetch water and 



3QO RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

to do their marketing and hasten home. Males must keep indoors. 

Never have I been so cut off, so isolated from the rest of the 
world. It is like being on a whaler of the good old days, which 
did not touch port for many months together. Only that here I 
am not two miles from the heart of a populous town and not far- 
ther away, as the crow flies, from my own home. 

Whether my wife is there and still alive, whether it has not 
been sacked, gutted, bombed or burnt I have had for ten days 
no means of knowing. Nor of what is going on in Florence. We 
hear explosions and see smoke going up; but just what they mean, 
what, where, we keep guessing and disputing, with no conclusive 
results. 

And the rest of the world? Has Turkey really joined up? Or 
does she at least allow us airports and passages for troops? And 
what have the Russians done these days? Have they penetrated 
the "holy ground" of the Prussians? And in Normandy, just where 
are our friends? 



August nth 

A RELATIVELY QUIET NIGHT following a day of nearly unin- 
terrupted bombardment. For a whole hour in the afternoon the 
shells seemed to burst over our heads after emitting a whistling 
sigh as of the "dying pig." We hid in the most out-of-the-way and 
massive parts of the house, crouching like Maeterlinck personages 
in the dark, for we are reduced to small oil lamps which serve 
merely to make the darkness visible. Oil itself olive oil, usually 
so abundant in Tuscany has been turned by Nazi-Fascist ex- 
actions into a rare and expensive liqueur. Only toward evening 
do we venture out to enjoy the colors in the clouds, deep rose, 
rich amber, pale purple, glowing with the gold of the setting sun. 
This morning as I reached my bedroom after a night spent in a 
Piranesian corridor, I heard a tremendous explosion and saw a 
vast volume of smoke shoot up as from an Indonesian volcano. The 
rising sun lit it up, and made it look like the basaltic Staffa in the 
Western Islands of Scotland and similar formations I recall seeing 



AUGUST, 1944 391 

in southern Auvergne. It remained bulky and compact for quite 
a while before it began to dissipate. 

Explosion has been following explosion. Destructive as these 
must be, and no doubt of irreplaceable buildings, we cannot help 
greeting each as a promise of the German retreat. 

From Quarto comes authentic news confirming and detailing 
the pillage, the sacking, the wanton destruction committed by 
the German troops. An appeal to their chief brought a higher of- 
ficer to inspect, and he declared what he found eine SchweinereL 
He left a couple of military police, presumably to see that no 
further jollification of the kind occurred. 

The lady of the place and her two granddaughters lost no time 
in beginning to wipe up. They are leaving one or two of the worst 
mishandled rooms as they found them, till they have been photo- 
graphed. 

My books and photographs at Quarto seem to have escaped 
intact. 

Three days ago a fashionable Florentine couple were turned 
out at midnight from their fine villa close by and, after passing 
the greater part of the night in a ditch, found their way here. 
They turn out to be two very dear human beings and a most wel- 
come addition to our little group. 

* * * 

Read Ben Jonson's Volpone. It had no little success in Paris 
some years ago. It must have been so modernized that of the 
original only the subject matter remained. 

Heavy, dull, pedantic, uncouth even in language; archaic in 
plot, and with no idea of creating character. The personages re- 
main mere functions as much as in a Punch and Judy show. 

To the child in us, such a show appeals when presented to the 
eyes; and to an Elizabethan public Volpone as a spectacle may 
have seemed great fun. Today some who prefer Stravinsky's 
Petrouchka to other music may work themselves up to believe 
that they enjoy the performance of this puerile play. 

There is a smart saying here and there which still works; and 
there are sideswipes against Marston, against Shakespeare and 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

his discovery of Montaigne, which may have tickled contempo- 
raries. 

What contemporaries were they who could stand this autom- 
aton, with its creaking mechanism, after any play of Shake- 
speare even the least good? Did his contemporaries realize the 
impassable gulf between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson? Probably 
not, and the most influential preferred Ben's verbose pomp and 
donnish pedantry to Will's "wood notes wild/* 

Tieck has written a story about the young Shakespeare and 
the already famous Marlowe, and how the latter recognized the 
measureless superiority of the former on reading his first play. It 
takes genius to recognize genius. The public in general, even an 
Elizabethan, even an Athenian public, does not encourage it, but 
exudes it as the oyster does the pearl with as little recognition of 
its beauty. It wins through only if it is strong enough to survive 
and to educate a fresh and unspoiled audience. 

Surely the same circumstances that produce the genius pro- 
duce his inferiors. Who could remember them, who would recall 
them but for the interest we take in him? We hope to understand 
him better by seeing what they were like; how near they came 
to him and how much he to them. Were it not for this curiosity, 
who but professors of literature would turn their pages? In the 
case of the Elizabethans most would be more satisfied with 
Lamb's extracts. 

It is Shakespeare who makes us read the Elizabethans, as 
Dante the poets of his circle. As to what made Dante, what made 
Shakespeare, that remains a mystery of mysteries, the mystery of 
genius. 

I recall reading in Renan that there might have been no 
Greeks, that there might have been no white race at all. So there 
might have been no Shakespeare and Marlowe, there might have 
been no Schiller and Goethe, there might have been no Mozart 
and Beethoven. And then? 

Is there just a chance may we hope that from our mold 
will flower a race more universally human than we are, and gen- 



AUGUST, 1944 393 

iuses in great numbers at all times and not so rare and infrequent 
as up till now? 



August 

THE DAYS GO BY, serenely radiant midsummer days. We see 
and we hear only as if we were looking at hieroglyphs. We under- 
stand nothing. Only vague and contradictory rumors reach us. 
We know less of what is going on two miles away from us in the 
heart of Florence than do the citizens of San Francisco or Mel- 
bourne, so many thousand of leagues away. They are informed 
hour by hour. We are shut out, cooped in. No civilian may come 
or go across the forbidden line. 

The noise last night was so continuous, and the shelling seem- 
ingly so near, that sleep was unattainable. One could only pray 
for dawn. 

Just now comes word from the neighboring convent, the home 
of sixty nuns, that the Germans insist on placing machine guns 
right in front of their infirmary. Nicky has gone over to see how 
this can be averted. We here are protected by our extraterritorial- 
ity, which they make great show of respecting they, who did not 
hesitate to invade Holland and Belgium, Norway and Denmark. 
The Oberstleutnant wrote to my host to that effect, assuring him, 
at the same time, of his eagerness to spare every building of ar- 
tistic interest, and every work of art. 

One thing is certain. It is that the fighting is coming nearer and 
nearer to our hillside. The obstinate delaying action of the Ger- 
mans can be due only to their wish to keep the Allies busy here 
until their Maginot line on the Futa pass is completed. It was to 
take eight weeks, and these were over yesterday. 

I conclude that fear takes hold chiefly of the people who have 
few if any interests outside their own bodies and the extension of 
their own bodies, namely, family and tangible belongings. So 
little else exists for the peasant woman and the domestic! And 
how possessive they are! They will talk to you for as long as you 



394 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

will listen about a glass, a cup, a towel, of what not that Germans 
have broken or carried off. Catch them being Communists! They 
would seize on their allotted share of the property of those rich 
but, once acquired, wild horses could not part them. 

* # * 

Read Goethe's Clavigo and Stella. They have the nimbleness, 
the alacrity, the vivacity of the early chapters of Wilhelm Meister. 
What goes on in woman toward the man she loves has seldom 
been rendered as well. The interest of these plays lies in the con- 
flict between love and ambition, and between love and love the 
impossibility of giving up one love for another. 

No doubt when Goethe composed these plays, he was tor- 
mented by such conflicts, and they can be used as documents in 
the biography of the author. 

The contrary is not true. The knowledge of what was happen- 
ing to an author while creating a masterpiece can inspire zestful 
curiosity to read, to hear it, to see it. It cannot make it more com- 
municative, more convincing, more life-enhancing. 

These few remarks might serve as text for discussing the way 
literature is being treated by critics, and taught in schools. It 
amounts to little more than prying into the private recesses of 
authors, exploring the paths of their wayward hearts, investigat- 
ing their conjugal troubles or money difficulties, not neglecting 
quarrels with other authors, publishers, newspapermen, etc., etc. 

Seldom have I come across an interpretation that illuminates 
like Yoshio Markino's two or three T'ang poems in his When I 
Was a Child. 

August igth 

THIS is THE FEAST of the Madonna, the most popular holiday 
of the year. It is the seventeenth or eighteenth day since we have 
been without electric power, and in consequence without light, 
without city water, with alarmingly diminishing provisions, and, 
worst of all, without the radio and the news. The first bit of com- 
fort has just reached us with the sound of church bells that can- 



AUGUST, 1944 395 

not be far away, yet already under Allied occupation; for since 
the "state of emergency," some ten days ago, the Germans have 
not allowed them to be rung. 

Strange how quickly one settles down to getting on with the 
least of everything! As oil for lamps is strictly limited and candles 
even more, one thinks twice before using them. One shrinks from 
using more than the smallest quantity of cistern water for wash- 
ing, and of spring water for drinking. Although we are reduced 
in number by half, while the menservants seem to be increased, 
things begin to have a neglected, dust-bitten, run-down look. 

We are not free yet. At the end of the terrace yesterday evening 
I heard the German soldiers just above us singing to the accom- 
paniment of a concertina, and manifestly enjoying life, saying 
"yes" to it. 

Why not! For them war is a picnic, a rather perilous one, but as 
jolly as if it were in the Forest of Arden and perhaps, to some few 
sensitive ones, as idyllic as Arcady. Here they are, sheltered under 
pine, cypress, and ilex, food seemingly abundant and besides 
who dares to refuse them the supplements they ask for, as they do 
here for wine, milk, coffee, and cigarettes? 

A far from Vergilian spectacle was offered to our fellow refugees 
who strayed over to their house on the Via Bolognese. It had been 
occupied by the Germans, and what they had not smashed or 
spoiled they carried away. 

There were seven bathrooms, each with W.C., but the Germans 
did their business into the baths. 

I heard from Belgian refugees, during the last war, that in 
princely country houses the Germans would squat on the most 
sumptuous beds, when nature called. 

How account for this? It would look almost as if the lowest 
classes in Central Europe, and no doubt more so farther east, in- 
stinctively resent being pulled up from the neolithic slum ways 
of life where they feel at home, and revenge themselves not only 
by destroying but by befouling whatever reminds them of a stand- 
ard of life that their flesh resents and abhors. I wonder at times 
whether today's conflicts are not mainly over standards of life. In 



396 KUMOR AND REFLECTION 

that case the Anglo-Saxon missionaries who, wherever they go, 
endeavor with evangelical zeal to impose their own standards, are 
laboring not so much in the vineyard of the Lord as in the garden 
of a graded capitalistic society. Unconsciously, of course. Capi- 
talistic society has no less interest in lifting humanity out of pro- 
letarianism than Bolshevism, Fascism, and Nazism have in keep- 
ing it there or pushing it still lower down. Thus far the country in 
Europe where the nearest approach to complete proletarization 
has been made is Russia, where the standard of life was lowest 
and hardest. In Asia it is probably the Chinese proletariat that has 
the greatest difficulties in life. If the American missionary can 
raise its standards, he may save it from Bolshevism. 

Be that as it may, let me tell of the neighboring convent with its 
sixty nuns, mostly of good family. Their buildings are far more 
exposed than we are, so that all of their windows are broken. 
Shells, shrapnel, and splinters have peppered their walls. A missile 
penetrated a room where they were sitting together, and but for 
a miracle would have struck down one or more. 

They have with them just now the head of a religious order on 
his way to Rome from Northern Italy. Unable to go farther, he has 
taken refuge with them. A fine-looking man who but for his black 
gown, with the red cross reaching from chest to knees, might 
easily pass for an intellectual lawyer or administrator. He came 
a day or two ago to consult my host. I asked him whether the nuns 
were frightened. He said no, that every evening before they re- 
tired he gave them absolution and that comforted and calmed 
them. 

The non-Catholic must be informed that to die unabsolved is 
the greatest evil that can befall a person. What confidence faith 
still gives! 

August i6th 

LAST NIGHT the pocket electric lamp that was lighting me up- 
stairs gave out. The only one left over will follow. We are nearly 
at the end of matches. If this goes on, we shall be reduced not to 



AUGUST, 1944 397 

flint, for we do not possess any, but to the most primitive of all 
methods of making fire, twirling a pointed stick on dry leaves till 
they begin to burn. It is a tedious process. 

Rumor has it that the Allies, to avoid the horror of street fight- 
ing and the destruction of buildings, are trying to encircle the 
town, so that the Germans must leave it or surrender. 

These same Germans do not seem to have the slightest regard 
for Florence. If they have blown up the bridge of Santa Trinita 
we shall never see the like of it again. Its moldings were too subtly 
delicate to be copied; and besides, the whole fabric has been ca- 
ressed by centuries of sun and shadow and given a patina, a color, 
between ivory and honey that restoration cannot supply. 

We are told as well that the huge castlelike palace opposite has 
been dynamited. It was built toward the end of the fourteenth 
century for Niccolo Acciaiuoli, as enterprising and successful a 
European as ever lived. 

This huge building in my time has served various ends, includ- 
ing apartments for strangers. I had one there some hundred steps 
up, and it faced the bridge. My desk was in the embrasure of the 
wall. As I looked out from work, I could see the crowd streaming 
across the pea-colored river, and San Miniato lit up by the sunset 
glow. I spent my first three Florentine years there, and there I 
wrote my earliest articles for the New York Nation, the Essay on 
Connoisseur ship, the Venetian Painters, and the monograph on 
Lorenzo Lotto. I never could pass this building without recalling 
one or more of a thousand memories. 

I will not put down the stories that reach us of brutality of every 
kind committed by the German soldiery, and of their rapes of 
very young girls. They are too abominable to be believed. No 
worse in ancient chronicles. 

As we were finishing luncheon yesterday, a missile came 
through the window, passed between me and my hostess, and hit 
the wall opposite. It was the splinter of a shell which had burst 
near the kitchen door. Another bursting near the chapel smashed 
several windows, damaged the ilexes, and did other damage. We 
are being more and more exposed as the battle approaches this 



398 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

hill, which commands the German line of retreat and is occupied 
by them. 

August iyth 

LAST NIGHT, from nine in the evening till this morning, the can- 
nonading louder, more insistent, more menacing, more continuous 
than ever. Sleep was scarcely possible. One could but doze and 
wake, wake and doze. On returning to my room I found not only 
the window sills but my bed powdered with plaster that the blast 
of artillery fire had shaken down from ceiling and cornices. 

Yesterday began well. A Red Cross doctor living a mile or so 
below, and seeing how much of a target our hillside had been 
the day before, came early to see whether we were dead or alive. 
He had various bits of good news to tell us. 

The Allies seem as yet not to be in full force this side of the 
Arno, but Florence is already in the hands of their vanguards and 
of Italian partigiani. A new mayor has been appointed in the per- 
son of Dr. Pieraccini, a Socialist deputy before Fascism, a saintly 
physician and great scholar, whose life at Mussolini's order, to use 
Mussolinf s own words, had been made "difficult for him." 

An Allied general and his a.d.c. are said to have been shot at 
and killed from a house they were passing. It was immediately 
surrounded and turned out to be an arsenal filled with arms and 
explosives. Eight hundred Fascists were lurking there to receive 
the Allies. I noted weeks ago that the Fascists and Nazis in com- 
bination were organizing groups for mischief in every Italian 
town; but that they would attack openly, desperately, and in num- 
bers passed expectation. 

So much for local news. From the outside the following: The 
Russians seem to be still knocking at the gates of Warsaw. Strange, 
by the way, that these lightning warriors should be even slower in 
taking the Polish capital than the Anglo-Saxons the Tuscan one. 
Then, that the Allies have made another landing in France, this 
time between Frejus and Marseilles, and that in Normandy they 
are doing well and advancing toward Paris. 



AUGUST, 1944 399 

Incidentally, I got the comforting news that my house is oc- 
cupied by Germans who are behaving correctly and that my wife 
is still there and the Anreps are with her. 

The Anreps are the sister, the brother-in-law, and the nephew 
of Nicky, and took up residence in my villa the moment I left it. 
Thanks to their knowledge of German, and German ways, they 
have done through an entire year for my wife and my place what 
Nicky has done here the last three weeks. 

All to the good, and we were comforted. Our host is convinced 
that such a feeling is invariably followed by the opposite. This 
time it certainly was. 

At the end of the terrace where you enjoy one of the loveliest 
views in Mediterranean lands, there is a turn to the right, like a 
long L, It is occupied by a chicken coop and hen roost, a rabbit 
hutch and some turkeys. Toward noon all was there. By 6 P.M. 
they had disappeared. 

What happened was clear enough. The Teuton lads picnicking 
just outside the fence either tired of canned goods and, lusting for 
fresh meat, or just out of sheer fun, broke through the wire netting 
and carried them off. Not only could traces of their hobnailed 
boots be followed but later on the fowls could be heard in their 
camp. This livestock was, for as long as this situation lasts, our 
only reserve of food, supplying us with eggs and meat. Their loss 
casts a gloom on my hosts, which had not lifted when we parted 
for the night. 

August i8th 

THE WORST night yet! Every species of cannonading from the 
Germans above us and from the Allies seemingly not far below 
on our left. This was followed by a series of explosions each louder 
and more terrific than the last. The Germans have dynamited via- 
ducts, bridges, roads leading here, have made houses to fall on 
the roadway, all to delay the pursuing Allies. The group of dwell- 
ings just below, belonging to very humble people, has been blown 



4OO RUMOK AND REFLECTION 

up. The least poor of them, the grocer, gave a bribe of forty thou- 
sand lire to be spared. No avail. This destruction, this misery on 
the pretext of delaying the enemy! If only it teaches that war is 
not an affair of rhethoric, drums, and trumpets but of blood and 
iron! 

According to rumors reaching us yesterday, the Allies are sur- 
rounding Florence on every side, and the only part of the ring still 
incomplete would be the wedging mass of our hill. These rumors 
seemed substantiated by the fact that the Allies could almost be 
seen to our right at Calenzano a few miles away and that to 
the left the Germans were blowing up the highway to Bologna. 
Their only remaining retreat would be, therefore, on both sides of 
our hill by rather tortuous byroads leading northwards to join the 
Via Bolognese at some distance. All this encourages me to expect 
our liberation in a day or two. 

Complaints that domestics and peasants have had a hand in 
the stealing that has been going on these last three weeks. I hope 
it is true. If domestics and peasants saw the Germans using up and 
carrying away everything they could lay hold of, they surely were 
right in taking it for themselves and using it up before the same 
Germans snatched it from them. Successfully hidden valuables 
remain in the country as parts of its wealth; and, besides, domes- 
tics and peasants may return them to their owners. 

* * 

Goethe's Burgergeneml and his Aufgeregten treat of the effer- 
vescence occasioned in Germany by the French Revolution. Peo- 
ple of all classes, from highest to lowest, have their say, each ac- 
cording to his station, interests, and character. In the person of the 
Baron, in the first of these plays, Goethe tells how he would treat 
the situation: not with measures inspired by herd panic but with 
understanding, with calm, with humanity, with good will, with 
readiness to meet fair claims, with persuasion with reason, in 
short. 

Surprised to discover in Goethe a prose flowing so swiftly, rip- 
pling so gaily, and as crystal-clear as in these plays written after 
1790. By that time he is apt to write in a somewhat embarrassed, 



AUGUST, 1944 401 

rather dragging way, as in his later Wahrheit und Dichtung as 
well as in the Wahlverwandschaften. 

Strange how little mankind learns. The fight toward 1100 for 
the freedom of the municipalities, ''the communes/' inspired the 
same crazed horror in the feudal classes that "Communism" alias 
"Bolshevism" inspires in the upper and middle classes today, and 
"democracy" during the French revolutionary period. 

The reactionary ferocities of the Restoration in France, and 
to a milder degree of the Biedermeier decades in Germany, have 
been paralleled and "more than paralleled" by our conduct toward 
Bolshevism. What did the revulsion after Napoleon produce com- 
parable to Fascism and Nazism, which were "to save the world 
from Bolshevism"! Every kind of oppression, humiliation, assassi- 
nation, as of Matteotti and the Rosselli brothers, shootings, mas- 
sacres of tens of thousands of innocent Abyssinians, hundreds and 
thousands of Spaniards, millions of Poles and Jews; and a war 
now of five years' duration which, before it is over, will have cost 
tens of millions of lives and the savings of generations. I trust the 
shades of the bankers who boosted Mussolini with a huge loan are 
satisfied. 

August igth 

THE BATTLE FRONT is pressing more closely and narrowing like 
a belt around our hill. This morning the denizens of this strip of 
ground have been ordered to keep indoors except from seven to 
eight in the morning, and seven to eight in the evening. Anyone 
who is seen out at other hours will be fired at. 

Yesterday passed in relative calm. Much skirmishing and can- 
nonading and dynamiting: sounds and sights with no meaning. 

In the course of the day a German trooper appeared, surly, 
harsh-voiced, asking for food and saying they had none. He was 
offered all that could be spared, potatoes and peas. He refused 
them disdainfully. So they were not so famished as all that. He 
hoped, no doubt, to get dainties. 

I daresay this same youngster if I met him in his civilian clothes 



4O2 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and character, and asked him the way, would answer politely and 
even kindly. 

I have often been struck by the abyss in Germans between their 
manners in society and their official manners. The first are almost 
embarrassingly polite. I recall a very great gentleman, a reigning 
prince, in fact, who had preserved and carried over into my time, 
until the last war even, the high breeding and exquisite courtesy 
of the Maria Theresa period. His politeness called out my nostalgic 
admiration, although at the same time it made me feel like a clod- 
hopper. One day when I happened to be in his office I heard him 
talk to a subordinate of no mean rank in a way that horrified me. 
No doubt our great businessmen can be gruff enough and curse 
when something dissatisfies them, but they would not treat a per- 
son with such insulting and humiliating contempt. 

August 20th 

WHEN I CAME DOWN yesterday toward noon, I was no little sur- 
prised to find our friends not cowering in the shelters withindoors 
but sitting on the terrace. Fear had left them. It returned soon 
enough when cannonading, machine-gunning, and dynamiting 
drove us back into the house. With longer or shorter intervals 
these have continued; the dynamiting grows closer and louder and 
all the time making one more and more jumpy. The Germans are 
blowing up houses along the roads, in the hope of delaying the 
pursuer. 

Indeed, it is in preventing, or at least delaying, pursuit that the 
originality of German tactics is revealing itself in this war. One of 
their subalterns, haunting this hill, confessed that they did not 
dream of giving battle but meant to hold positions as long as they 
could, and then retire. 

Just now some of them clamored for chickens and eggs at the 
lodge gate, as if every fowl had not been stolen days ago. 

Toward evening the Germans bombarded the suburbs of Flor- 
ence to this side but not far from the center. 



AUGUST, 1944 403 

Goethe's Epimenides followed by his Pandora. There is little in 
either that could not have found place in the second part of the 
Faust. They are parallel passages, side paths, tentative efforts 
which he discarded from the great work but used as building ma- 
terial for more modest compositions. 

What reservoirs of ink there must have been in Goethe to be 
overflowing so copiously and pouring down so continuously! It 
would be interesting to calculate from what remains how much 
he wrote every day from his twentieth to his eighty-third year. 
Most probably this has been done already, for "Goethe research" 
has been a favorite pursuit of German scholars. 

August zist 

NIGHT-LONG artillery fire and dynamiting. The Germans have al- 
ready destroyed everything that might serve the enemy or permit 
a return to normal life. Now they are busy smashing and ruining 
the dwellings of the poor and lowly in the industrial suburb be- 
low, with the sole object of delaying pursuit by a day or two, per- 
haps only by hours. The fact is that the chivalrous, clean-fighting 
German Wehrmacht, from the pious Catholic Field-Marshal Kes- 
selring, their commander in chief in Italy, down to the common 
soldier, are still raging because they had to leave Rome before 
they could deal with it as they had with Naples. The colonel of 
the parachutists commanding the troops in Florence is reported 
to have declared that since Smolensk had been completely de- 
stroyed before it was abandoned there was no reason why Flor- 
ence should be spared. 

Yesterday Allied troops had approached the hospital quarter at 
our feet. The German artillery shot into it at once, ruining build- 
ings and wounding and killing patients. To spare further innocent 
lives, they withdrew. 

Strange how little indignation German behavior rouses among 
my Italian friends. True, they are not given to indignation. Yet 
they had it in abundance against the Allied bombardments of Na- 
ples, Milan, Turin, Genoa, and still more against "terroristic at- 



404 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

tacks" on German towns. The Germans must be granted every 
advantage, for God has given them a chivalrous, exquisitely dis- 
ciplined, invincible army. As for the Allies, did not Mussolini de- 
scribe their troops as "men without jobs pushed into uniforms to 
consume five meals a day"! 

After being cut off for some time from the rest of the world, 
people around me are getting bored and confess that they can 
turn to no activity. 

That is not my case, because my dominant interests are unac- 
tual. Theirs depend on the events and contrasts of the day. Mine 
do not. Mine go on despite alarms and excursions. I can read and 
be read to by the hour. I can write and I can meditate. My oc- 
cupations can continue absorbingly so long as I retain my mind, 
so long as my eyes do not give out, so long as I have access to 
books, pen, and paper. Even if deprived of everything but one's 
mind one could still carry on for a good while, and bridge over an 
interlude like this. 

I have often thought that there is no guarantee against listless- 
ness and boredom like historical pursuits of any kind: history not 
only of events but of ideas, of literature, of the fine arts, of the 
sciences. Nor do I mean to exclude interest in anthropology, in 
travel, and in the descriptive sciences; far from it. 

Individuals armed with these hobbies never come to the end 
of their tether, as I have known mathematicians to do or get fed 
up with their job, as friends of mine who have philosophized for 
many years. True that days come when I feel saturated with what 
I have been doing. Almost unconsciously I veer over to another 
curve of my horizon, and before long I can come back to the first 
with renewed zest, and even excitement. 

August zzd 

NOTHING NEW. The German rear guard, consisting of young par- 
achutists in their vestments of protective coloring, seem to be dig- 
ging in all around as if expecting a trench war indefinitely drawn 
out. 



AUGUST, 1Q44 405 

The only pleasure I had yesterday outside of the working of my 
own mind was in the sunset. It was like a Turner of the most ex- 
travagant kind, of the kind described by jeering critics as a 
"lobster-salad slapp't upon a pallet." It was fuliginously golden 
and azure and green and yet rosy withal. The sunsets of previous 
days were scarcely less romantic a compensation for the great 
heat, which at last is troubling us. Heat that means dripping with 
sweat while doing nothing. 

Yesterday three German officers came for a friendly call, were 
polite, and talked. From them and from privates one could gather 
the following. 

Between Florence and us here, there are many partisans, as 
many as thirteen thousand, the privates say, troublesome and 
frightening. 

It seems that the Germans take these partisans that is to say 
anti-Fascist volunteers much more seriously than do many Ital- 
ians, who, as I wrote again and again earlier, said they were mere 
shirkers who ran away because they would not fight. 

The German officers added that they themselves were not many 
but that the Allies were scarcely more numerous and consisted 
chiefly of Moroccans and New Zealanders. On being asked if there 
were any real French in the Allied armies, they replied that there 
were any number, and good fighters too. How many bitterly anti- 
French Italians would have been disappointed to hear that the 
North African Corps did not consist only of Jews forcing Moroc- 
cans and Senegalese to fight for them! 

If it be a fact that there are so few Allied troops in the neigh- 
borhood, what has become of the rest of their forces, the 5th and 
8th Armies what are they doing? Even Allied aviation has sel- 
dom appeared the last days, except an observer or two. Yesterday 
for the first time there were as many as twelve churning over us. 

What would I not give to know what our forces are doing here 
and what is happening in other sectors! Our armies cannot be do- 
ing nothing. 

The Germans say their own morale both at the front and be- 
hind the lines is high. Their seeming retreat on all fronts is but a 



406 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

taking position for the final spring. It will crush all enemies, and 
procure a lasting German peace. Not their numbers, their dis- 
cipline, their courage, their steadfastness, their endurance will 
bring about this glorious result, but a new weapon: that is to say 
a mechanical invention, a Jules Verne discovery. How far we are 
from the armor and plumes of chivalry with which the friends of 
Germany decked the Wehrmacht! 

People are half inclined to believe in this new arm, and prepare 
to be circumspect in the interval between the complete German 
withdrawal and their possible return. 

August 23d 

THE CANNONADING which had been continuous through the 
night sounded at six this morning like the rush and swish of a 
gale, while above my head a stone colossus danced a hornpipe. 
Gradually it quieted down, and just now I heard the cathedral 
bell as one seldom does normally when the manifold noises of a 
city absorb the sound. 

Yesterday passed with frequent calls for Nicky to see this Ger- 
man, to talk to the other, and to try to mollify a third. They were 
taking away a door from the porter's lodge at the convent and 
the nuns thought it was to be used for firewood. Not at all: it was 
to construct an observatory on what the Germans had recognized 
to be neutral ground that they were bound to respect. It turns 
out to be an admirably camouflaged affair that perchance a vet- 
eran might suspect, but he alone. 

Toward evening a German subaltern turned up and talked a 
little more freely, said that he for his part was not so sure that the 
Allies were not close at hand in great force. He feared a terrible at- 
tack tomorrow or the day after. Nor did he believe that they would 
resist long on the Futa their ligne Maginot. What were they do- 
ing here, anyhow, when the Russians were already less than a hun- 
dred miles from his home in Silesia! 

We had been indoors all day, owing to the great heat, and after 
dinner were taking the air on the terrace when the dragging shuf- 



AUGUST, 1944 407 

fle of German boots was heard. We stepped to the railing and 
Nicky asked, "Wer da?" No answer, but the sound of retreating 
steps, and muttered curses of the most obscene kind. 

Probably the same man who had successfully stolen chickens 
and rabbits the other day now hoped to take a calf. The cattle 
belonging to this place are gathered in the limonaia the shed 
for the lemons in winter under the terrace. It was decided to 
make them come up to the upper terrace and tie them to the col- 
onnade before the house. There, marauding Germans would not 
venture to approach, and besides peasants would remain on 
watch. Followed a clatter, a kicking, a lowing, a bellowing which 
lasted a good while before these cows and calves and oxen were 
shepherded up steps not meant for quadrupeds, to their quarters 
for the night. All this by the light of the stars, as no lamp or lan- 
tern could be lit. 

Provisions seem inexhaustible, although it is more than three 
weeks since they have been replenished. The housewife laid in 
abundantly for an emergency. Only fresh meat is at an end. Who 
cares in this season when one has all the homemade pasta and 
home-baked bread one wants, plenty of green vegetables, luscious 
pears, huge succulent plums, and honey-sweet figs! 

What a paradise this Italy, and how kind to its children if only 
inky-tongued agitators with their belching rhetoric did not whip 
them up to run amok at Abyssinia, at Spain, at Albania, at Greece, 
against England, Russia, and America! 

August 24th 

"FOR THE SKINNY JADE the Lord provides horseflies," says a 
Neapolitan proverb. On top of our hallucinated, cooped-up, un- 
ventilated way of life for now almost a month, scarcely daring to 
put our noses out of doors for fear of stray shots or splinters, full 
of worries for the poor and the peasants as well as for relations 
and ourselves; tired of the Germans even when they bring gifts 
as a sort of peace offering for the marauding of some among them 
on top of all we are macerated by the great heat. Every door 



408 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and window is shut to keep as cool as possible inside; yet in my 
spacious bedroom the thermometer neared 90. It was warmer still 
when I took a step or two on the terrace after sunset. 

Artillery fire the night through, but no appreciable result. In the 
hospital city below, not only patients but many who took refuge 
there are starving. Their own provisions are coming to an end, and 
the Germans have nothing to give them. 

One of the officers whom Nicky went to see when the Germans 
wanted to take this house has been killed in a motor accident, 
they say. But their rage against the partisans, whom they still go 
on calling "rebels" and "brigands," the fact that they are searching 
every house and hut, that they allow no male to show his head out 
of doors, incline one to suspect that he was shot dead by one of 
them. 

# # * 

Yesterday read Shelley. Something subconscious in me made 
me want to reread Leopardfs poem about the Oriental shepherd 
and the moon. I was amazed to find how much it had in common 
with Shelley's various poems and references to the moon; how 
many similar images and even epithets, not to speak of the iden- 
tity of mood. The form is different enough, Leopardfs being more 
severe, more marmoreal, while Shelley is more rhythmic, more 
fluent, and more wavelike, more aerial even. The difference in at- 
titude is significant. Though they feel so similarly about things as 
they are, the Englishman is buoyed up with hope, dances with 
excitement over the conviction that all will come right, and the 
Italian does not even wish to look for a remedy. 

I have no books here to satisfy my curiosity, but I wonder 
whether Shelley did not know Leopardfs poem. He was a great 
reader of Italian while in this country. If he did not know it or 
any other of Leopardfs writings, then the singular likeness would 
be an unusual instance of the time-spirit inspiring in the same way 
an Italian and an Englishman. Let me add that by time-spirit I 
do not mean anything mythical or mystical as many do when they 
talk of Zeitgeist. I mean the advance in feeling, thought, and ex- 
pression that manifests itself almost simultaneously in the crea- 



AUGUST, 1944 409 

tions of gifted artists in our world. Artists are autonomous in the 
sense that they owe nothing to each other, or at least are not so 
ready to receive the same revelation that the merest hint suffices. 



August 25th 

A FAINT BREEZE sprang up yesterday after sunset, and clouds 
appeared. One hoped for a change in the weather, but this morn- 
ing the sky was like a gem of purest ray serene. 

I no longer mind the deafening, crashing, spluttering noise of 
the cannonading. It seems to signify no more than the serving of 
tennis balls. 

For days the Allies have made no appreciable progress, while 
the Germans, who, when they blew up viaducts, bridges, and 
roadways, were expecting to retreat immediately, now seem to be 
digging in as if for trench warfare. They must regret their own 
demolitions and destructions. It leaves them almost no way open 
for counterattack except through the hospital city at our feet. 

The Germans claim that they have respected the neutrality of 
the hospital city: by which they seem to mean that they have used 
it as a thoroughfare and in every other way that suited their con- 
venience, but did not fortify it or place batteries there. 

They must be itching to do so now, and it is not impossible that 
this explains the visit of two captains which delayed our luncheon 
yesterday by a full hour. 

One of them seemed a quiet, tolerably human individual; the 
other talked in the clipped jargon and with the arrogant sneer of 
Potsdam. 

They came, they said, on a purely humanitarian errand. In the 
hospital there were twenty-five hundred sick and fifteen hundred 
refugees. They had no water; and while the Germans did all they 
could to feed them, supplies were not sure, seeing how much their 
only remaining connection with their depots were under constant 
fire. Would the Minister of a neutral government not take a step 
toward alleviating the situation? The patients and refugees were 
clamoring to be taken into town, where, if not better fed, they 



41O RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

would be free from the fear of bombs and shells, and having so 
frequently to run for shelter. 

Would not the Minister write to the Allied authorities already 
in Florence, to the Cardinal-Archbishop, to the Swiss Consul, to 
the Director-General of the Hospitals urging them to evacuate 
the hospital city of the sick and the refugees? Of course they 
would have to supply the transport, as the Germans no longer had 
any. 

My impression would be that one of these officers meant what 
he said; but as for the other, he may have had it in his mind that, 
once evacuated of sick and silly, the hospital could be occupied 
and turned into a fortified camp. 

The letters have been written and are to be taken under the 
white flag by the chief doctor of the hospitals. I await the result 
with curiosity. 

The Potsdamish officer asked with a sneer whether we had not 
been bombarded. "Not so far." He gave a malignant grin. "You'll 
be lucky if you fare no worse." No doubt he thought that we 
should be. 

August 28th 

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY, after a pretty noisy night, artil- 
lery sounding ever nearer, it was decided not to lunch in the din- 
ing room but to picnic in the library. This is a large room backing 
against the rock and lit by clerestory windows. The meal passed 
off cheerfully and we retired to shelter for the siesta. Soon after 
four, Nicky and I thought of returning to the library to go on with 
the reading of Shelley's "Prometheus." We had scarcely settled 
down when an ominous rattle, clatter, and swish made us start up. 
As I reached the drawing room, I saw gliding along the shut win- 
dow blinds what I should have taken for hissing snakes if I had 
not recognized that they were splinters of shell. We ran to the 
shelter, which our friends had not abandoned, and at four-thirty 
a systematic shelling of this house began and lasted a full half 
hour. 
It was done with smallish missiles not more than two or three 



AUGUST, 1944 411 

inches in diameter. They did no serious damage to the fabric but 
left few windowpanes unbroken, few doors, shutters, and wire 
nettings unshattered, untattered, or unperforated. Indoors the 
splinters behaved in the erratic way that projectiles have. The 
drawing room, after the bombardment, looked like an antiquity 
shop that was hastily being demolished. Thick layers of plaster 
over every object and dust rising from them in a mist. The furni- 
ture damaged: here a leg gone, there a desk torn asunder, a 
chair punched through, books lying about, bitten off at the edges, 
while frail glass flower vases remained untouched. In the library 
not only had the glass of the clerestory gone but chairs, tables, 
rugs, folio volumes thrown here and there as by a hurricane. 

In my bedroom, besides broken windows, little damage. A bit 
of shrapnel not an inch long pierced the door of the clothespress, 
went through a silk jacket, and lodged in the trousers that were 
folded over the same hanger. 

This morning at seven, all as quiet as this countryside can be 
between bombardments, silent to the farthest horizons, not a bird 
chirping or stirring, no voice from the valley below with its mil- 
lion of human bipeds, I stole out and walked up and down the full 
length of the terrace and could take account of the damage done 
out of doors. 

The house itself untouched except in the most superficial way. 
The staff of the legation flag on a tower had its neck broken. On 
the terraces marble tables and balustrades were in fragments, the 
ground pitted with shells, and the ilexes with broken branches 
tattered and despoiled. 

I spoke of "stealing out." Ever since the bombarding grew seri- 
ous, my hosts have been increasingly nervous if any guest at- 
tempted to put his nose out of doors. I was particularly unruly 
and would not obey. They assured me that every time I went out 
they had their hearts in their mouths. 

After the shelling of the house we were kept indoors more 
tightly than ever. Not only indoors but in the dark, for every open- 
ing was closed up with temporary contrivances. No reading, no 
writing. 



412 



RUMOR AND REFLECTION 



It is curious whom fear takes and whom it leaves. The servants 
turned out to be much more resistant than I expected, the house 
maids particularly, but bravest of all a young man who had inter- 
rupted his training as a carabiniere to go into hiding from the Ger- 
mans; he seems not only untouched by fear but goes on serving 
meals and carrying knives, forks, plates, and dishes, as if he 
had done nothing else for many years. The example given to them 
by our perfectly fearless hostess has a great deal to do with it, I 
imagine. 

In the face of every difficulty, meals are as well cooked, as var- 
ied, and sufficient as at any time since our siege began for siege 
it is that we have been submitted to, for a full month. 

It is curious how Mediterranean people take fear. It is for them 
a disease, a disturbance as physiological as, say, toothache to 
which you give in as unresistingly. They feel no more shame in 
confessing to it than to any other physical fact and I need not 
add that they discuss our animal nature with a frankness that I, 
after fifty years of living with them, have not yet got used to. 

# # $ 

THE EVENINGS are tedious. Our hosts have been assured that no 
matter what you contrive to leave no fissure open, the light, even 
of the tiniest pocket lamp, traverses not only barred and sealed 
opening but stone walls, and hovers around the house like a halo 
which artillery observers can perceive ten or more miles away, in- 
viting them to bombard us. 

So we pass the evenings like Maeterlinck's Aveugles, and after 
having been cooped up together for a month, talk is apt to run 
stale and dry up altogether. The favorite subject is speculation as 
to what the Allies are doing, how near they are approaching, and 
when they will relieve us. Our host, the Minister of a neutral 
power, is not a little indignant that this house, with the legation 
flag flying over it conspicuously, should have been subjected to 
deliberate shelling by the Allies. Nor could I take their defense or 
offer an explanation. Most likely armored-car people not far off 
have inferred that this house was occupied by the German staff 
commanding this sector. If that is so, I can scarcely wonder, see- 



AUGUST, 1944 413 

ing how free the Germans have made with these grounds, respect- 
ing only the house and its own terrace. Not even that much, for 
hardly a day has passed without one or two or even more appear- 
ing to ask for something. As they come in helmeted and fully 
armed, artillery observers could easily have noticed them. 

I hope the error has been recognized. Yesterday there was no 
repetition of the bombardment. 

Speaking of the damage done in and outside this building, I 
forgot to mention that a cow and calf, stalled under this terrace, 
were killed. And unfortunately a peasant who went about his work 
early yesterday morning, lower down in our grounds, stepped on 
an unexploded shell and was blown up. These unexploded shells 
are a symbol of the unspent rage that will go on festering when 
the war with arms is over. 

This experience not only of a close siege but also, as it were, of 
an unlit prison will remain to feed imagination for the rest of my 
days. 

I must not forget a word about that mulier fortis, that "woman 
of price," our hostess. Not only her housekeeping under serious 
difficulties and danger but her spirit, her cheerfulness, her gaiety, 
are beyond praise. Let us allow that it is just the least bit put on to 
buck up the rest of us; that is only more laudable. 

August 2Qth 

YESTERDAY FORENOON one could write and read by daylight. 
At lunchtime, keen bombardment began again and we had our 
meal in the refuge. Yet merrily enough! Somewhat later, the bom- 
bardment grew more and more deafening, and suddenly came a 
sound of something falling indoors, and the patter of plaster 
reached our ears. Before long, the bravest of the servants came 
screaming and shouting that a bomb had flown into our hostess' 
dressing room, turned into the bedroom, where it leaped and 
bounded from wall to wall, from one piece of furniture to another, 
doing damage as it went, before it came to rest in the middle of 
the floor unexploded. 



414 



RUMOB AND REFLECTION 



Our hosts were exemplary. Instead of wailing, they said they 
were grateful that the bomb, which might have blown up the 
house, had not exploded. Yet what to do with it? A letter was 
written by Nicky to the lieutenant of the parachutists to our left 
(with whom we have had good relations from the start) begging 
him to send a specialist to deal with this affair. None of the pri- 
vates at the observation post near us would take it yesterday, but 
this morning some were willing, and soon two boys appeared, one 
being the mine expert and the other an ambulance driver. The ex- 
pert examined the bomb and declared that it was not spent and 
could still explode. In a touching way he said to his comrade: 
"Must I risk picking it up?" The other answered: "You must." 
Then he sent all of us away to the other wing of the house, and 
after a few minutes he reappeared beaming, having carried the 
bomb to the rocks behind the house. 

I hope our hosts and their guests will recall this when inclined 
to condemn Germans in the lump. It is a painful part of our men- 
tal machinery that we tend so to abstract and simplify, and to 
forget that a nation is made up of all sorts, more good than evil 
perhaps, and different as individuals from what they are as part of 
a collectivity. The nearer we come to a collectivity, let us say a 
nation, the less human it is apt to be. But to condemn all the in- 
dividuals constituting a group for the crimes of the collectivity is 
to rival Caligula when he wished the Roman people had but one 
throat for him to cut. 

This night it seemed as if the German artillery above us had 
placed their guns closer to get a better aim at the English below, 
for the noise was deafening. Even under the vaults of our corridor 
one felt shaken. Mosquitoes, with their buzz and sting, kept me 
awake more than the noise outside. 

Living like moles in the dark is depressing, stupefying, and 
hypnotizing. The mind gets lazier, emptier, and almost ceases to 
function, leaving one in a kind of hallucination. Then there is the 
lack of exercise, which I feel particularly. I do Swedish gymnastics 
twice a day but it does not replace my daily walks. 

What a part these daily walks have played in my life from earli- 



AUGUST, 1944 415 

est boyhood till now! They have been not only among my best 
hours but among the most formative. I owe to them in great part 
my love of "nature," my feeling for poetry, even my love of beauty. 
When I am deprived of my walk, a day is not a day. 

August $oth 

No CHANGE for the better. Yesterday was stuffy, sticky, muggy, 
tepid, oozing, and produced restlessness, bad temper, and impa- 
tience. The artillery practice went on with such violence that at 
times the house shook to its foundations. 

If our incarceration lasts much longer, the resources of our 
provident hostess will be exhausted and we shall be reduced to 
feeding on bread and water if we can procure them. Water for 
washing is running short, and we are not like the Arabs of the 
desert who can cleanse themselves with sand. We shall have to 
scrape our bodies with the gravel from the shell-pitted terrace. 
My silvery beard will get so large before I can see a barber that 
it may wave as a white flag! 

And the Germans on this hillside are taking it easy as if they 
never would move. One drops in for a smoke and another to cook 
a turkey in our kitchen. To the amazement of the servants he 
stuffed it with grapes and any other fruit he could find. 

It reminds me of the disgust with which an Italian friend turned 
away when, in a Munich restaurant, he was handed stewed fruit 
with his venison and exclaimed, "Come, il dolce col manzo!" 
What, sweet with meat! 

August soth 

FINISHED A THIRD or fourth rereading of Shelley s "Prometheus." 
As after previous perusals, I leave it saying "never again." It is, as 
Pierre Mille of the Paris Temps used to say, an ennui auguste a 
solemn bore. Critics seem to accept it as the poet's masterpiece. 
Naturally, it has touches of beauty, but the whole reminds me of 
the vaguest, least vital, least evocative parts of Goethe's second 
Faust. 



416 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

How often Shelley recalls the aging and aged Goethe! Similar 
airy rhythms, curling like faint mists and dissolving before they 
take shape and substance in my mind. I have often asked what 
may have been the connection between the two poets. I cannot 
recall that the German ever mentions the Englishman, who un- 
doubtedly knew him. But how much? The likeness is strongest in 
his versification, and this he surely had perfected before he read 
Goethe. 

After going over the greater part of Shelley's verse I conclude 
that the best has been skimmed by anthologies like the Golden 
Treasury, the Oxford Book of Verse, and one or two others. I go 
so far as to approve the way Tennyson and Palgrave have lopped 
and pruned the "Lines Written among the Euganean Hills," giv- 
ing them a continuity and concentration of feeling and thought 
that, as left by Shelley, the poem lacks. 

No doubt this is a drastic proceeding but more than justifiable, 
if our first interest is poetry and not the poet. If, as seems to be the 
case with most of our professors, students, and critics of literature, 
interest is focused on the author, no jot or tittle can be omitted, 
for an iota subscript may give the key to this or that mijmte point 
in the hero's career still awaiting elucidation. And if the author is 
as fascinating a person as Shelley or Byron, and his writings are 
regarded as so much autobiography, every syllable counts. Only 
do not let us believe that by doing so we are studying poetry, and 
devoting our best energies to getting its full meaning. 

Which leads me to wonder whether perchance antiquity, while 
still itself, did not select for us what was best in Greek lyrical 
poetry, as well as in the drama. The fragments that the sands of 
Egypt have preserved for us, even of Sappho and Pindar, are dis- 
appointing enough, and Bacchylides, so much admired by the 
Greeks, turns out to be a sort of Tupper, a versifier ordinary in 
feeling and obvious in expression. 

But to return to the "never again" how often I have said it to 
places that disappointed me, to music, to books, to sculptures, to 
pictures, or to people yes, to people. Then accident, and at times 
a bad conscience or curiosity, led me to experience the object 



AUGUST, 1944 417 

again, and often the result was a complete change. What I pre- 
viously was too unreceptive, too lacking in a state of grace to per- 
ceive, to penetrate, and to admire, now revealed itself at last, and 
added so much to my House of Life. 

My conclusion is that what has been admired by generations, 
let alone centuries and millennia, contains something worthy of 
sympathetic attention; and that, failing to give it and refusing the 
proffered gifts, we take our punishment into our own hands. One 
must try again and again. Only now in advanced age have I got 
to enjoy Dickens, although I have not yet become an ardent ad- 
mirer. 



August $ist 

YESTERDAY was the worst day yet. The cannonading grew more 
and more terrifying and seemed to be ever nearer, obliging us to 
spend most of the long day and even longer night in the oval shel- 
ter supposed to be the safest on the premises. The house trembled, 
shook, and rattled. It was not easy to keep one's heart from quak- 
ing. 

Early morning brought the rumor that the Germans had with- 
drawn from our hill to a position five miles higher up, and that the 
English were already masters of the hospital city at our feet. 

This was confirmed later by a man who came up from Florence. 
He reported that there all was well, that half a pound of good 
white bread was being distributed to every person, that the 
troops, English and American, were behaving nicely, that there 
were no black savages among them as had been feared, etc., etc. 

As for news from abroad, it seems that almost the whole of 
France is already liberated and that Soviet troops are on German 
territory. 

The tension here has been too great to allow one to enjoy the 
imminence of complete freedom from fear of Fascists, of Germans,, 
and of bombs. The last affected me little, so little that but for my 
protectors, who felt responsible for me, I scarcely should have 
taken to shelter. But human malevolence makes a coward of me 



418 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

and I blench at the approach of any person whom I suspect of 
coming to annoy me, especially when it is to ask what they know 
I ought not to do for them. 

September ist 

EVENTS HAVE BEEN LEAPING and outracing each other the last 
thirty hours. It is hard to select what to write down in these notes. 

The cousin of my host, a young officer who had been taken 
prisoner in Crete after the armistice a year ago and sent by the 
Germans to a concentration camp in Poland and, on his return 
to Italy in the spring, spent some time here as fellow refugee this 
same young officer appeared in the door of my bedroom like a 
full-length portrait in a frame, and I had a momentary hesitation 
in placing him as I have at times in attributing a picture. 

He was the first visitor to appear and bring news from the outer 
world. He confirmed the worst rumors that had reached us about 
the deliberate German destructions in Florence. All the bridges 
down except the Ponte Vecchio, and their approaches blown up. 
After evacuating the town the Germans shelled it without the 
least care for the monuments and hit the cathedral, Giotto's tower, 
the baptistery, and San Lorenzo luckily, without serious dam- 
age. He told us that the Fascist radio and press, and no doubt the 
Nazis likewise, hurled indignation at the Allies for blowing up 
the bridges over the Arno and their approaches, as well as for the 
deliberate bombardment of the cathedral, campanile, and baptis- 
tery a fine transmutation of fact to fiction. 

Here we were not yet quite rid of the Germans. A bunch of ten 
continued to camp close by and several of them insisted on cook- 
ing in our kitchen. Nicky warned them that it was no longer safe 
to linger. They did, and presently a troop of partisans appeared 
on the terrace, made two of them prisoners, and shot a third trying 
to escape. 

Our friends were terrified lest the comrades of these Germans 
would return to take reprisals. 

So much for yesterday. This forenoon began with a visit from 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 419 

young Contini in partisan outfit with two companions, followed by 
a partisan fighter with a note from my friend Colacicchi, who ap- 
peared in person later in the day. Then came Captain Cagiati, fol- 
lowed by Major Sampson (the head of the Allied Office for D.Rs), 
the last with offers of assistance. He will take me over tomorrow 
afternoon to see Mary and arrange to move me toward the end of 
next week, bag and baggage, that is to say with the pictures and 
other works of art, as well as the books I have had here. 

Furthermore, he brought the news that he had been to my 
house, which had been left unharmed by the German occupants, 
and seen my wife, who seems to be no worse for all we have gone 
through this past year. 

Of intimates, the first to appear this morning was Igor Marke- 
vitch, who occupies a villino on our place and besides being one 
of the most gifted composers and a remarkable conductor is one 
of the most stimulating and entertaining of young men. He also 
brought encouraging news of my wife's health and of the state of 
repair in which my house remains. The garden seems to be in a 
sorry way, as the population of Ponte a Mensola would crowd in 
for safety from air attack and other alarms. 

Strange how instinctive it is for the "lower orders" to seek safety 
in huddling close to some building bigger and stronger than their 
own. Originally it may have been a stronghold of sorts that drew 
them. Much later the feeling of security was transferred to the 
man who occupied this structure. Thus as gods first took shape 
long after man had begun to grope for the numinous, so authority, 
lordship, and finally sovereignty may have proceeded from faith 
in the impersonal protection of the stockade, the tower, and finally 
the castle. 

In the afternoon Colacicchi, Arturo Loria, and other friends 
trooped in, among them also Carlo Steinhauslin, the Swiss Consul, 
and his wife. I was told that the head of the Committee of Libera- 
tion, the body which is to represent civil government in Tuscany, 
is a youngish art historian with whom all, including the Allied 
Command, are well satisfied. 

So this thirty-year-old art critic may turn out one of the rulers 



420 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

of reviving Italy. How often during the last war teachers from 
schools, colleges, and universities at home, who in ordinary times 
might have passed obscure and perhaps tedious lives, revealed 
talents which turned them into important government function- 
aries! Needless to say, they never returned to their posts as 
teachers. 

The only time I met Woodrow Wilson, he was still professor at 
Bryn Mawr. I no more suspected that he would live to be, first, 
the astute and powerful party chief, and then the messianic states- 
man, than that Monsignor Ratti, who some fifty or more years ago, 
as underlibrarian of the Ambrosiana, used to fetch and carry man- 
uscripts for me, would end as Pius XI, the Pope who first hailed 
Mussolini as the "man sent by Providence," and later came little 
short of stigmatizing him as anti-Christ. Nor when I was charmed 
by a youngish couple named Franklin Roosevelt that I met dur- 
ing the Peace Conference in Paris did I foresee that he would be- 
come the most remarkable President we have had since Lincoln, 
and she a helpmate such as no former chief of our state had had. 

September ^d 

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON a car sent by Major Sampson came to 
take me for a visit to my home. 

An errand obliged us first to go to the Piazza dei Giudici on the 
Arno, close behind the Uffizi. Driving there, I could get an im- 
pression of what had happened. On both sides of the Mugnone 
nearly all the houses were empty shells, like buildings I remember 
seeing at Rheims after the first German retreat during the last 
war. Driving by the outer avenues toward the Arno, the destruc- 
tion showed up less and less till we came to our destination. There 
I got out of the car and walked to the Ponte Vecchio. In the 
course of these few steps I saw nothing but piles of ruins heaped 
high as in eighteenth-century drawings of the Roman campagna. 
Only the early medieval towers remained erect. Of the S. Trinita 
bridge no more than parts of the pillars remained standing. Be- 
tween the two bridges the so picturesque and continuous fagade 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 421 

of houses was pounded to dust. I doubt whether deliberate havoc 
like this has been perpetrated before in the course of history. 
Attila the Hun and Genseric the Vandal may have had the will 
but lacked the machinery. It has taken science, at the service of 
the dehumanized spirit of militarism, to bring about what my 
eyes have seen. 

What I heard was worse still. I cannot begin to recount it, but 
one fine Nazi act I must note. I am assured that, before leaving, 
the Germans put mines in the rubbish coating of the ruins so as 
to blow up the first who rummaged in them. 

These monstrosities were ordered by a commander who is a 
fervent Roman Catholic. But of what avail is Roman Catholicism 
pitted against Potsdam militarism? 

If they had been fighting hard to take a town, there might be 
some faint excuse. This sadistic destruction of one of the most 
beautiful, as well as most historic, spots on earth for no more use- 
ful purpose than to hold up their enemy's advance for a couple of 
days at most. 

They continue to bomb Florence. Already they have killed 
some three hundred and fifty, mostly civilians, for there are few 
Allied soldiers as yet in the town. So, at least, I am told. If I was 
to judge by the numberless tanks, armored cars, caterpillars, etc., 
we saw lining the roads as we dashed along, I should say there 
were a great many. All the way to my own house, the drive, the 
farm, and the orchard grounds opposite were crowded with vehi- 
cles and swarming with troops. These looked anything but mili- 
tary and like nothing else than factory hands in their overalls, like 
laborers in steel and other heavy industries. We have touched 
the fundamental fact, at last. War, no matter what its origin and 
our attitude towards it, turns out to be an outlet for overproduc- 
tion and unemployment; or, if you like to mythicize it, war now 
unites in one person Mime the forger of the sword and Siegfried 
who wields it. 

I found my wife no better for the year, less one week, that has 
separated us. She was suffering spasms of acute pain, and her 
speech was clogged. I carried away a sad and painful impression. 



422 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Nicky's sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, the Anreps, I saw 
next. They cared for my house and my wife while I was away. 
Thanks to their devotion and their tact, the Germans who in suc- 
cessive hundreds occupied the place did not sack it or damage it. 
The only mischief these did was to soak in full bathtubs, care- 
lessly letting the taps open so that both our copious reservoirs 
have been emptied and are now without water. I may add that in 
times of drought all the houses surrounding us profited by our sup- 
ply, and are now suffering from a water famine. 

It is not the only calamity that afflicts the peasants and small 
people in our neighborhood. They are starving. Even the Anreps 
are living chiefly on rationed bread and tomatoes. The German 
soldiery have plucked every fruit tree bare, have left no vegetable 
on the ground, have even picked the olives, although they do not 
begin to be ripe before January. They have seized what wheat 
they could lay hands on and dragged the cattle with them when 
they left. Needless to add that they left no fowl or rabbit alive. 

To return a moment to the Anreps. In 1918 they had to run for 
their lives from the Bolsheviks invading Estonia. Their country 
mansion was burnt to the ground with its contents, accumulated 
by generation after generation. Later the entire estate was con- 
fiscated. All they could bring away were jewels, trinkets, a few 
miniatures, and other souvenirs. 

At last they succeeded in making a new home for themselves 
in a house between the two bridges in Florence. There the Baron- 
ess received company as few others in Florence men of letters, 
artists, musicians, and interesting people of every kind, residing 
Dr passing through. 

Now this is gone like their Baltic home. I trust it is a rare case 
that the same family should suffer in the same way, and for the 
same reasons, in the course of one lifetime. 

My house has had the honor of a visit from Marshal Kes- 
selring, the so pious and so humane commander in chief of the 
Nazi forces in Italy. Perhaps it was at his orders that artillery was 
placed in the garden not a hundred feet away from my wife's bed- 
room. It is a miracle that the place has not been more damaged. 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 

Most of the glass has gone a serious matter, as it cannot easily 
be replaced and rain followed by cold will soon be here. Part of 
the fattore's house was smashed, with all his furniture. The ga- 
rage bore marks of shelling. The garden looked unkempt and 
shaggy, not so much through damage as through lack of care. 
With the approach of the Allies, and the consequent intensifica- 
tion of bombardment, two of the gardeners deserted, as did half 
of the domestics. When I proposed that the cook should be or- 
dered to return, I was answered that there was no need to hurry 
for there was nothing to cook. 

The disastrous impression I carried away was due most of all 
to the squalor, the filth, the disorder conspicuous on the farmland 
and in the orchard opposite a combination of city refuse heaps, 
automobile cemetery, and gypsy camp. Unfortunately, narrow 
and winding as the road is which, after passing through my estate, 
climbs up the hill, it happens to be at the moment the only 
one available for our armies to reach the Via Bolognese in pursuit 
of the Boches. Every kind of mastodontic ponderous vehicle goes 
up and down all the time, raising clouds of dust unbreathable, 
bumping into and smashing park walls and gates. 

I went away discouraged. I could not face returning home until 
at least this traffic stopped and the fields were cleared of squalor. 
Indoors we can manage somehow. The problem is how to feed 
the household and how to light it now that days are getting short 
and then, in the near future, how to heat the few rooms into 
which we must huddle. 

September tfh 

I FORGOT TO SAY that a couple of days ago there came here a 
nut-brown giant of a Cossack speaking English with an unmis- 
takable Russian accent. He had been sent to find out how I was, 
how I was faring, and if possible to see me. 

He saw me and I asked him whether he was a Soviet officer de- 
tached to our troops. Not at all: though born in Russia, he was a 
good American and a captain in our army. He had left the corn- 



424 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

fields and steppes in 1917. Had he been back? Yes, with a detach- 
ment of the Air Force some little time ago. At Ekaterinoslav, at 
Elisavetgrad, at Kharkov, and other Ukrainian towns he saw 
with his own eyes the huge trenches which the Jews in their thou- 
sands had been made to dig before they were stripped almost 
naked and machine-gunned. Then he told us that ever since the 
taking of Rome, American troops were yawning their heads off 
doing nothing. They were not allowed to stir. And what were the 
English up to? He knew the Germans here all together were 
about only some hundreds, and millions upon millions were being 
wasted on firing at them with almost no results, while if permitted 
he could wipe up in a jiffy all that was left here of Nazi squads. 

# # a 

The fattore of I Tatti has come and reports that an American 
unit has placed heavy guns in our fields and given warning that 
windows and doors must be left open; for if they began to fire the 
blasts might smash them. Our farms are trodden to powder and 
will take time and hard work to recondition. 

It appears that the behavior of the Allied soldiers gives great 
satisfaction. The bobbies controlling traffic are the wonder of the 
Florentines. They have never imagined so much kindness and 
such good manners in police. Wherever quartered, they amaze 
people by their cheeriness, their jolliness, their happy-go-lucky 
carefreeness. A lady who had Germans quartered on her told us 
yesterday that they always were taking precautions about light 
and constantly running to shelter. The English replacing them 
keep lights going, play the piano, sing and pass the time gaily. 

I hear that among the Fascist desperadoes remaining in the 
town there is a fair percentage of women. For instance: the street 
where the Etruscan Museum is placed was made unsafe by firing 
from a window. It took some time to locate the exact spot, when 
out came the perpetrator, an old hag. 

There can be no question about the sincerity of most of these 
desperadoes. They run imminent and certain risks for a most un- 
certain reward. Yet we do not hesitate to shoot them when we 
catch them. But when an individual of the upper crust incites to 



SEPTEMBEK, 1944 

murder and massacre of radicals, or Jews, or Rooseveltites, we 
are all forgiveness and smiles because he is so "sincere." 

More and more accounts from eyewitnesses come in of the 
conduct of the Germans: how much they rejoiced in every species 
of iniquity and obscenity, not to speak of deliberate rapine and 
vandalism. 

Individually many were decent enough. One of these was 
asked by a countrywoman of their own, here resident, why they, 
including chaps like himself, behaved as they did. He assured her 
that but for some few who got out of hand and went on their own, 
the others did only what they were ordered to do. 

The individual German trooper, like the individual Fascist, has 
nothing to do but what he is told by his superiors. Not for him 
to act as in ordinary life, not for him to reason why perinde ac 
cadaver. 

September 6th 

ONE FRIEND AFTER ANOTHER comes to recount what hap- 
pened to him and his during the month that the Nazis were trying 
to hold on to Florence, or merely to delay the Allies. It is the same 
story of inhumanity, brutality, and sadism. 

Toward evening yesterday loomed up over the terrace a tall, 
well-made, rather Socratic-faced youngster. It was my cousin 
Robert Berenson, who had been looking for me for some time. He 
told me that having been active in shipping he wanted to join the 
navy but was refused a commission. The army likewise. He then 
volunteered as a private. 

The refusal was based on the ground that his wife was the 
daughter of the most fashionable dressmaker in Paris, the Italian 
Schiaparelli. Our sea and land forces evidently were told that she 
was a militant Fascist and the conclusion was drawn that her son- 
in-law could not be trusted to serve his country as an officer. 

As a matter of fact, Madame Schiaparelli was a pronounced 
anti-Fascist and must have become a French subject, for she was 
turned back at the frontier when, just before the war, she wanted 
to revisit her Italian home. 



426 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

I was interested in what Robert told me about the American- 
born Japs in our army. Despite dissatisfaction with the way their 
immigrant parents were being treated, they are among the best 
fighters in the army. Is it patriotism? Is it eagerness to prove that 
they are as American-minded as any others? Or is it that racially 
they have more fight in them than most? By "racially" I mean, of 
course, a body of men who for a matter of fifteen hundred years 
at least have been welded into one community originally com- 
posed of Ainus, Mongols, and Malays. 

Baroness Ritter de Zahony, nee de Fenelon-Salignac, the 
mother-in-law of my hostess, the Marchesa Filippo Serlupi Cres- 
cenzi I now feel free to give names returned yesterday from 
the neighboring great villa of Quarto and related her adventures 
during the siege she stood while we were having ours.* 

September jih 

IxDisxRESSEDMEto hear somebody say in my presence that the 
young anti-Fascists are no better than their opponents. They are 
accused of having the same tendencies to violence, to self-asser- 
tion, to repaying private grudges. Little to be hoped from 
them. . . . 

September iyth 

AT THIS POINT the pen fell from my hands because I felt too 
sick to go on. For several days I, who have never got over infan- 
tile disgust with the eliminating functions of the body, had my 
body turned into a drain, a sewer. It was accompanied by acute 
stomatitis, from which I am still suffering. Both left me exhausted 
and, as it were, hollowed out. The little energy that bubbled up 
had to be given to correspondence; for at last, after two years, I 
could write home as well as to England. 
I doubt whether I shall be able to continue these notes. Cor- 

* I have just read the diary she kept those days. It is as interesting as delightfully 
told, and will no doubt appear before long in some French review. Nicky has 
written hers, swift and vivid. ( January, 1945. ) 



SEPTEMBER, 1Q44 427 

respondence and professional writing will consume the little ink 
I produce daily. I should, however, like to wind it up with my 
home-returning, which I expect to take place in a few days, and a 
few words about prospects for Germany and Italy. 

It will not be easy to pacify Germany. The Nazi desperadoes 
have nothing to lose by continuing as. long as they can get the 
Wehrmacht to drag it on as a "legal war" or by themselves after- 
wards as partisans. They will not be easy to get rid of, and will 
hold out long enough to embitter further a situation already 
bitter. 

When law and order our kind of law and order reign at last, 
Germany should be treated as a patient broken down by the ill- 
treatment she suffered at the hands of the madmen who broke 
loose and ran her, as in Poe's story of "Drs. Tarr and Fether." 

An American officer, returning yesterday from the front, de- 
plored the death of such fine-looking fellows as the German youth 
we were mowing down. They are as gifted a stock as the world 
has ever seen. In the past they contributed to invigorate and en- 
rich the blood of European lands all the way to the Crimea, all 
the way to Portugal. Today I discover an unusual percentage of 
German names among prominent Americans in military as well as 
civil positions. In France the Alsatian contribution to every nobler 
activity has been remarkable, and in 1919 thoughtful Frenchmen 
told me that their eagerness to get Alsace back was not a question 
of territory but of a sturdy stock to set off the more volatile ele- 
ments in their country. 

We must convince the Germans of the moral necessity we were 
under to fight the Nazis as well as the Wehrmacht. We must rec- 
oncile them by treating them not vindictively or with short- 
sighted selfishness but with reason and even humanity. We must 
not leave them thinking that they have the right to pity them- 
selves as victims of brute force. It will be no easy task to re-edu- 
cate a generation brought up in the schools described by Georg 
Ziegler in his Education for Death. 

This account of how a whole people was being trained to live 
and die for one individual and his dream of world dominion 



428 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

makes one thank the stars that the present war came so soon, 
when only the youngest recruits had enjoyed this training. They 
are the most cruel, the most savage, the most fanatical. If all the 
German forces had been like them, we should be having greater 
difficulties in beating them. 

One word about frontiers, even at the risk of repetition. I hope 
they will be the same as those left by the Treaty of Versailles, 
with one exception, the Polish Corridor and East Prussia. I would 
abolish the first and give the second to Poland on condition that, 
despite history and propaganda, it ceded Poznan to Germany. 

Poznan is a deep intrusion into the very heart of Prussia, and its 
belonging to a possibly hostile state might be justly resented. 
Moreover, it has been German off and on for more than a hundred 
years, much Germanized in that time and to speak politically 
in these war years, cleared of Polish subjects. It should not there- 
fore be too difficult to transfer to Poznan the population of East 
Prussia when it is taken over by Poland. 

As for economic considerations, they are out of bounds for me 
and I must leave them to the competent, among whom I should 
take the advice of the experienced rather than of the theologians 
of finance and the students of that geometrical abortion, the so- 
called "economic man." 

"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord, and I should not be puni- 
tive to the German community as a whole, nor overmuch to in- 
dividuals. I should be severe with Hitler, Himmler, Ribbentrop, 
Goring, Goebbels, and their spawn of underlings. I should not be 
opposed to using the surviving Gestapo, S.S. men, and parachut- 
ists to slave in restoring the countries they did so much to ruin, 
if their labor can be profitably employed. 

I should make the Germans restore loot of every kind when it 
can still be traced, and when it cannot they should furnish its 
equivalent, whether in works of art, furniture, or household goods, 
linen, wool, leather, etc., etc. 

I should oppose any attempt at money payments. 

I should encourage them to return to the federal system of 
largely autonomous states that they enjoyed before 1918. Only 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 42Q 

I should allow Prussia no foot of Brunswick, Hanover, Schleswig- 
Holstein, Westphalia, or the Rhineland. I should restore the an- 
cient landmarks of these regions and erect them into autonomous 
communities. 

In short, I should not try to put five quarts into a gallon meas- 
ure. You can no more squeeze a given quantity of human beings 
than a given quantity of water. As the latter will burst through 
its recipient so will the first through frontiers unless indeed you 
allow them to build skyward in order to replace what you have 
taken from them on earth. We cannot hope for peace or prosper- 
ity for ourselves with a Germany self-pitying, self-justified, and 
resentful. 

* * # 

I am too well acquainted with Italy to sum up in a few words 
what I hope for her in the immediate future. 

We must recollect that she has only just started out of a night- 
mare that has lasted for over twenty years, and that she is not yet 
quite sure that it is over. She is confused, wavering, and distrust- 
ful of us as well as of herself. I hope we shall be easy with her and 
do nothing to offend her pride as a nation. If only Italians had as 
much political sense as they have humanity they would be in the 
forefront of great powers. But as I must have said again and again 
in these pages, their leading classes are in their hearts political 
atheists. They do not believe in the possibility of good govern- 
ment and therefore "why bother"? If by "government" they mean 
the highly centralized French type of rule which Piedmont im- 
posed and Fascism screwed down on them, this opinion is not 
ill-founded. In the course of the fifty-six years that I have fol- 
lowed Italian affairs I often have wondered whether its central 
government's chief function was not to put its people at logger- 
heads with those of other governments. 

I believe that there would be no lack of civic sense in Italy if 
government began with the municipality. Everybody would be 
interested in it because he could see and feel how it affected him 
immediately. The most intelligent would recognize the identity 
of municipal interests with those of the region say, Tuscany, 



430 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Lombardy, Latium, Campania, Sicily, Piedmont, etc., etc. and 
they would end by believing in the identity of national with re- 
gional interests. 

We should use our influence discreetly, inaudibly, and invisi- 
bly, to promote decentralization in Italy; to encourage regional 
autonomies; to reduce the functions of the central government 
to interregional and international business only. And I should 
try to insinuate that government is business and not theology. 

Thus, the form of the regime is perhaps less important than 
most of my Italian friends seem to think. If my ideal of a confed- 
eration, of a United States of Italy, could be made compatible 
with it I should have no objection to a monarchy, provided pro- 
vided it was demilitarized; provided the sovereign and his heirs 
were not brought up as soldiers having soldiers for governors, 
tutors, and teachers, their minds filled with military matters and 
canalized towards them. A soldier's training fits him to obey and 
command. A sovereign of today, a constitutional sovereign, can- 
not command, he can only persuade; and to prepare him for that 
he should be brought up as a civilian and given a civilian educa- 
tion. 

"Education" it is that which our world, friend as well as foe, 
most needs. What I, who am not an educator, could say on this 
subject would take a stout volume. Here I can allow myself but 
a few words. 

They are to this effect: Let us, if we can do so tactfully, urge 
Italians to stop training their young to be rhetoricians, forensic 
orators, makers of phrases, forgers of catchwords, and rapt ad- 
mirers of verbal performances as such, regardless of their sense. 
Where else could the manipulator of a gorgeous vocabulary and 
orchestral phrases have infected a people's taste, morals, and, 
worst of all, politics as D'Annunzio did! Even as a demagogue, he 
prepared the Italian public to enjoy by contrast Mussolini's sting- 
ing whiplash pronouncements. As in the schools of all other coun- 
tries, I should propose a strict control of history teaching, and 
revision of textbooks to see that they are unpartisan and do not 
unduly exalt national merits or instill contempt of other peoples 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 43! 

and even hatred of them like the hatred of England taught by 
the Fascist schoolbooks after the aggression on Abyssinia. 

Economically, we can do a great deal for Italy by loans, by 
helping to restore shipbuilding and the construction of motor ve- 
hicles the only heavy industries for which there is possibility 
and aptitude here by encouraging her carrying trade, by buying 
the products of her soil and the handiworks of her arts and crafts, 
and by reconciling her with her Yugoslav neighbors. For these 
have the wood, the livestock, the grain, and many of the raw ma- 
terials which Italy needs; she could pay for them with her indus- 
tries, while the expense of transport would be low, seeing how 
relatively short are the distances to be traversed. Surely if there 
are two peoples on earth whose interests are reciprocal it is the 
Italian and the Yugoslav. 

We should insist on the restoration of government by discus- 
sion and persuasion, of parliamentary government, in short, not 
only in Italy but, to the extent of our authority and influence, in 
all lands where these have been silenced by tyrannies, in panic, 
fear of free speech and a free press. I say deliberately in all lands, 
so as to include Spain, now ruled by police, priests, and absentee 
landlords, who for selfish ends perpetuate Baroque seventeenth- 
century ideas, ideals, and methods. Let me add that by "absentee 
landlord" I mean any considerable landowner who for the greater 
part of the year does not live on his estates and does not take an 
active part in their management. 

In these notes I have spoken of the Danubian Confederation. 
My ideas are not essentially different from those that as I hap- 
pened to discover a few days ago Kossuth entertained seventy 
years ago and many another Danubian since. If this confedera- 
tion on a Swiss model could embrace the Balkanic Slavs as well, it 
would go far toward stable conditions in Europe. They have been 
the springboards for most wars in the last hundred years and 
more, originating in hereditary class hatreds of the most primitive 
type, kept alive in our day by internal folly and external fraud. 
The lasting reconciliation of Bulgars, Serbs, Macedonians, Slo- 
venes, and Croats would dry up the springs whose waters fili- 



43* 



KUMOR AND REFLECTION 



blistering foreign statesmen kept troubling so as to fish in them. 

Likewise in the north I would encourage every effort to con- 
federate Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland so that they 
might enjoy more respect from both Germany and Russia than 
they have in recent years. 

I have already gone beyond my billet and yet feel an urge to 
jot down a dream I have dreamt again and again since my earliest 
maturity. It is of putting language groups, that is to say nation- 
hood, out of politics; to stop identifying language groups with 
states; to allow different language groups to flourish within the 
state. Great Britain has done it with Welsh and Gaelic; in good 
sooth, because for two whole centuries these, for their part, did 
not act eruptively, and did not claim, like the various language 
groups in the late, ever-to-be-lamented Austrian Empire, each to 
form a separate state. 

If that depoliticizing of nationalities could be achieved, we 
could encourage each language group to cherish its own indi- 
viduality, its own peculiarities, its own traditions, its own myths 
and legends, its own folk songs, thereby enriching the rest of us 
with all that this language has to contribute to our common cul- 
ture, instead of suppressing it, as Russia did under the last Tsars, 
and Germany under its last Kaiser, and Italy under Fascism. 
Smaller communities, on their side, would not fear being dena- 
tionalized if they learned the language of their powerful neigh- 
bors, as was lately the case with Czechs toward German and of 
Greeks toward Italian. If this dream could come true, we might 
have everywhere examples like the one given in Carl Burckhardt's 
Ariel-like account of a visit to a bookseller in Paris. He and Rilke 
meet there Lucien Heer, whom many years ago I knew as the 
staunchest of Frenchmen although an Alsatian by birth. With 
Carl Burckhardt, he comes out as a thoroughbred Alleman, who 
ranks Hebbel with La Fontaine and declaims him with rapture, to 
the confusion of Rilke, who cannot catch the beauty of the dialect. 

I can recall reading in Matthew Arnold, when I was still an un- 
dergraduate, of all the nations of Europe or was it of all nations? 
being so many strings to a harp, none of which could be spared, 



SEPTEMBER, 1944 433 

for each contributed its timbre to enrich and harmonize the music 
the instrument was playing. That no doubt was the source of my 
dream. 



September 2^th 

FIRST MORNING at I Tatti. Less than three months ago Serlupi 
talked of not letting me return till it was again in apple-pie order 
exactly as I left it. 

Meanwhile I Tatti has been through the wars, has been at the 
forefront of battle; and the glimpses I had three weeks ago of its 
squalid bareness gave me an attack of acute xenodochiophobia. 

I daresay the polysyllabic word just employed will not be found 
in dictionaries. I invented it long ago to designate the sinking 
feeling that in my travels often overcame me: of fear lest the inn 
or hotel at which we were to lodge would be sordid, would not 
let me have the promised apartment; that my bedroom would 
have the wrong proportions, mulling or flattening me out of my 
normal shape and squeezing me out of my own way of breathing; 
that the lights would be glaring and no reading lamp by my bed; 
that there would be sharp or clattering sounds outside, or bad 
smells without or within. Motoring in the Vendee or Poitou, in 
Spain or Greece as evening darkened, tired or even exhausted, I 
would wish the destination farther and farther away, for fear of 
what I should find when I reached it. 

In such cowardly fashion I could have delayed returning to 
I Tatti. As in the twilight of yesterday evening I came in sight 
of the broken-down garden walls and scorched fields, I sank into 
a pool of despair. 

It ebbed quickly when I found the dear Anreps and domestics 
at the door to receive and lead me into the ground-floor corridors, 
where everything was in place. Upstairs my study, my bedroom, 
the adjacent passages, in a most unexpected magical fashion, 
looked exactly as I left them, September loth, 1943 looked in fact 
more peopled with dear and half-forgotten objets tfart, chiefly 
Chinese, that had been stored out of view for several years. 



434 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

Mary, too, seemed in a less painful state of health than I feared. 

Even the dinner, although it consisted of a thin vegetable soup, 
boiled potatoes, a salad, and fruit, was appetizing. The only de- 
pressing sensation came from the smoky kerosene lamps, with 
their uncertain light and foul smell. How we shall revive when we 
have odorless electric light again! I wonder whether the oil and 
kerosene lamps of years ago were less offensive when servants 
were trained to attend to them and kerosene was of the best qual- 
ity; or was it simply that we were so used to them from the cradle 
that they did not offend us? 

After dinner in the small sitting room, everything in place, 
bookshelves, writing desk, chairs, tables, sofas, each saying: "You 
need lean over only so much to reach me, to move me." And then 
later stretching out in one's own bed, with just the right pillows 
to support head and neck and shoulders, and the crisp cool sheets 
"all as before, love, only sleep." 

September 26th 

HAVING NO CAR at my disposal, the Wehrmacht having ripped 
off the tires from the one I might have used, and another set not 
to be had under fifteen hundred dollars, I engaged the ragged, 
rickety village cab with its apocalyptic horse to take me to the 
dentist's in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. 

The driver took me a way I never took before, not avoiding the 
narrow, more crowded streets, but straight along through the 
populous quarter leading from the shoddy, grandiose Piazza Bec- 
caria to the cathedral. Before reaching the Piazza I passed along 
houses shattered in pieces, houses pock-marked with shot, and 
houses untouched. Nothing more seemingly capricious than the 
behavior of missiles, unless it be the conduct of the High Com- 
mand which orders them to be fired off. 

From Piazza Beccaria the streets and squares showed up more 
Allied troops than Florentine civilians. I take it that they were 
British for the most part, but knew too little of their uniforms, 
signs, and signals to distinguish a Canadian from a New Zea- 



OCTOBER, 1944 435 

lander. They went about not as if they owned the place but yet 
as if at home. All looked like workmen, like proletarian workmen, 

As I drove along Borgo alia Croce I suddenly came to a squalid 
void which made on me a far more painful impression than the 
ruins produced wantonly by the "so humane Wehrmacht" There 
was something tragic and romantic about those, while this desert 
was sordid and disheartening. It was, I am told, created by the 
Fascist regime on the pretext of improvement, of clearing out 
slums and giving breathing place to the town. The result is hid- 
eous to the eye. In the summer the glare and heat, in the winter 
the skinning cold of the bitter north wind, and at all times chok- 
ing dust will haunt this bareness. 

Years ago at Genoa I was taken by the town architect to visit 
some of the oldest houses near the port. He told me that, properly 
cleaned and drained, these tall houses in narrow streets were far 
healthier than the up-to-date palaces on wide avenues in the mod- 
ern quarters of the city. His explanation was that the narrow 
streets were shelters against the wind, and the houses, sharing 
side walls, helped to keep each other warm; whereas in the new 
parts of the town the winds raged and the dust filled nostrils and 
throat. Ever so many more cases of pneumonia there than in the 
old, narrow lanes. 

October i$th 

BACK HOME three weeks now and not yet settled in. It takes 
time to find my bearings after having been away so long. Besides, 
I cannot settle down satisfactorily, for I shall not be able to re- 
main in my usual apartment. We shall have to shut off those two 
rooms, the corridor leading to them, the libraries, all the rest of 
the house, in short, and huddle into the three guest rooms small 
enough to be warmed. I am to keep my study as well. Stoves are 
being put in, hideous terra-cotta monstrosities in themselves, and 
ruinous to space-relations and color-harmony. Nor are we sure 
as yet of procuring enough fuel for the coming six months. Wood 
is to be had at no place nearer than over thirty miles by road. It 
will take twenty-five hundred dollars to fetch it, apart from its 



436 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

cost on the spot. Then there is the difficulty of lighting. With the 
miserable lamplets available and the foul kerosene, reading is 
nearly excluded. 

I never thought before of how little is printed for eyes as old 
as mine. What fervor and determination, what ingenuity are de- 
voted to producing publications for the wholly blind! Nothing to 
my knowledge for the aged. Perhaps the Bible, the Prayerbook, 
and the Hymnal exist in type large enough for our ease of read- 
ing. Shakespeare and other classics can be had no doubt in pages 
suited to our sight, but only in editions de luxe, cumbrous to han- 
dle and ruinous in price. 

As money can procure scarcely any of the customary necessities, 
one is reduced to begging. Scarcely one of our Allied friends 
comes without being asked for anything and everything he can 
spare: food, medicines, cigarettes, candles, matches. I hold open 
my hand for print, no matter what, in English, of which we have 
been deprived for four years and more; for from the moment that 
Hitler began his war, Mussolini's censorship prevented the de- 
livery of any book or review of a thoughtful nature, no matter 
how unpolitical. All respond with comforting promises, and some 
few are not called elsewhere before fulfilling them. 

The Anglo-Saxons who come to see me are of three kinds: sons 
or close relations of friends at home and in England, as a rule at- 
tractive youngsters, good-looking, cultivated, and free as well as 
liberal-minded; others, older as a rule, brought by Italian friends 
on whom they are billeted, more official than the first, but affable, 
eager to understand, and ready to help. The third category, 
chiefly American, consists, as I might have expected, of accred- 
ited journalists who, before they joined up, had taken "art 
courses" or had been teaching the what and the why of art in 
various colleges. A surprising percentage of these are of Jewish 
Lithuanian origin, good, sound, even distinguished-looking. All 
no doubt come with the intention of seeing and substantiating 
what was behind a name with which their studies had made them 
familiar. One, a Jew but not Lithuanian was frank enough to 
say that I was a sight one had to see. They bring or send reading 



OCTOBER, 1944 437 

matter, and I spend most of my time perusing it. I am devoured 
with curiosity to learn what people who enjoy a free press think, 
and what they plan for the future not only at home but abroad. 
It is as well that I had no access to them earlier. I should have 
lacked the courage to write my own reflections. I find most of 
these anticipated, or better put. My meditations may have more 
sweep, but they have less immediacy. 

The pine-clad, cypress-studded hills above me, cobwebbed over 
with innumerable paths, my favorite haunts for nearly half a cen- 
tury, must now be untrodden ground, They have been sown by 
the Germans with mines, and wayfarers have lost their lives. 
Walks must be limited to the highroad winding steeply past Vin- 
cigliata to the hilltop above a little arduous for my eighty years. 

Little by little I discover that my art possessions have not come 
out so well as at first flush I was led to believe. Of the thirty-two 
pictures buried under the ruins of Borgo San Jacopo in the quar- 
ter of Florence dynamited by Field-Marshal Kesselring two have 
not yet been found, several are severely damaged, and the rest re- 
quire repairs before they can be placed on walls again. 

I cannot resist the temptation to recount the efforts made to 
save my treasures. It illustrates how little planning and plotting 
mattered; how much it was touch and go. The same is true of per- 
sonal safety. Many a one would still be alive if he had trusted luck 
or fatality instead of leaving home and house for some remote 
refuge. 

When I first left, September loth, 1943, I expected to return 
soon, but before long German as well as Italian authorities 
warned me that I had better hide my possessions. So in a great 
hurry the paintings and sculptures we valued most were removed 
and brought to the Fontanelle, where I was myself. Likewise all 
the photographs and some twenty thousand volumes less easy to 
replace, if lost, were secreted at Quarto. Both places seemed so 
safe that the art superintendent, as well as the German Institute, 
wanted to follow our examples and store books, documents, and 
pictures either at Quarto itself or in a house some few minutes 
away from ours, known as the Belvedere. To prevent Goring's 



438 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

beaters, should they come to I Tatti, from seeing how much had 
gone, remaining books and pictures were redistributed so as to 
look as if nothing were missing. Moreover, the photographs of the 
hidden-away pictures were removed from the collection of the 
art office and of the German Institute, and the sequestrator's in- 
ventory of the Tatti was retyped so as to leave them out. Had the 
Nazis insisted on coming to the Tatti they would have missed 
nothing of which they had seen the photographs. Sometime in 
June Ludwig Heydenreich (the successor of Kriegbaum as direc- 
tor of the German Institute), on receiving official orders to have 
my pictures and other works of art packed up and sent north, 
managed to create so many difficulties by insisting on the agree- 
ment of the Italian Sequestration office, that finally there was no 
time left to do anything about it. 

My house was occupied by successive waves of the Wehr- 
macht, and as the Allies approached, German officers, as I must 
have recounted already, warned the Anreps that it was likely to 
suffer from severe bombardment and that works of art and other 
valuables had better be carried elsewhere. No place seemed less 
likely to suffer than the heart of Florence, where the Anreps had 
their home. This was totally ruined when Kesselring dynamited 
the bridges between which it stood, while no object left at I Tatti 
suffered damage. 

At the Fontanelle we were in the hands of. the parachutists and 
were constantly shelled in consequence. A miracle saved from 
destruction the house and its contents, among them my most pre- 
cious possessions. A like miracle turned away the attention of the 
German marauders who were pillaging Quarto, from the books 
and photographs stored there. 

In war as now fought there is no shelter, no safety, whether for 
persons or property. Men and women, take heed! 

November izth 

YESTERDAY a Florentine friend in position to know what is going 
on said he was sorry the Allies were favoring the continuation of 



NOVEMBER, 1944 439 

the monarchy. If retained, many would be driven to Communism. 

He went on to say that the Communists were by far the strong- 
est party here. In Florence alone they had between twenty and 
twenty-five thousand enrolled members, while his party, that of 
action, equivalent to the ultraradical in England before this was 
absorbed in Labor, had only fifteen hundred. 

I asked what he supposed "Communism" meant to most of its 
adherents. He thought it was composed of many threads, newness 
and otherness being the most attractive. 

If elections were held now, the Communists almost certainly 
would have the majority and begin to impose all sorts of hasty ex- 
periments, and of course the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The supporters of Mussolini, here and abroad, in France, in 
England, and America, would rejoice in having upheld Fascism 
as the one and only effective opponent of Communism and shout: 
"We told you so." To be sure, they did, but Fascism was doomed 
to fail. If Communism is an experiment we cannot avoid making, 
or only a catchword hypnotizing ever greater numbers of the vari- 
ously discontented, it is not by violence that we can suppress it 
but by persuasion, and in the last resort by trial and error. 



Epilogue 



September 1945 

I HAVE NOT continued this diary. For one thing I had too many 
calls on my leisure to enjoy the serenity required for composition. 
Then, if I had gone on, I should have got involved in jotting 
down the misunderstandings, the mistakes, the disappointments, 
the unpleasant, upsetting surprises, rumor or even knowledge 
of which came to my ears daily; besides tales of hunger, cold, 
and disease, suffered by the middle and lowest classes. 

No less distressed was I to hear so much carping criticism of 
one section of the Anglo-Saxon community by the other. Ameri- 
can against English, and vice versa. One felt how true it was that 
we could be one people if the same language did not separate us. 

Using the same language makes us oversensitive to differences 
we should not as much as notice in speakers of other tongues. 
As I recall saying here before, we are almost indignant to discover 
differences where we expected identity. Once started on ferreting 
out differences, we go far and every divergence from our own 
folkways, our own standards, our own valuations and our own 
aspirations is counted as an inferiority in those who differ from us. 

So much for our fellows whose mother tongue is some kind 
of English. 

It would have distressed me no less to put down in black and 
white the invincible misconceptions of Italians on the part of our 

441 



442 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

officers, and the know-nothing, care-nothing humor on the part 
of the men. Among the first, a few, more English than American, 
felt drawn to Italian landscape, Italian street life, Italian easygoing 
ways. 

As, however, I look "back on the past year and the "contacts" 
made therein, I can recall but few Anglo-Saxow who seemed to 
want to find out what Italians were like in themselves, what they 
cared for, what they wanted out of life; how we could try to give 
them what they thought they desired as distinct from what we 
thought they should want. 

One may say we were not here for that purpose; that we were 
here to drive out the Germans, and that the presence of the 
Italians in the peninsula did not concern us. Yet our propaganda 
before our landings insisted we were coming as liberators. Libera- 
tors of what? The earth is indifferent and cares not who tramples 
over it, and shows no preference to Anglo-Saxons over Germans. 
It was the Italian then we came to liberate from what? From the 
person of the German, from his mere presence? No, of course not. 
It was to free him from restrictions, moral as well as material, from 
arbitrariness, from tyranny, from terror, but also from starvation. 

True, we have freed the Italians from the terror entirely, from 
such tyranny and arbitrariness as, under the existing conditions, 
human nature allows. Promises fulfilled are soon forgotten; the 
unfulfilled rankle, particularly when they were of food, light, heat 
and raiment. 

It was vain to say that we were doing our best. Unhappily our 
propaganda had succeeded in convincing the Italian public that 
we were a Christmas tree from which one might pluck whatever 
one needed and wished for, without diminishing its abundance. 
Nothing would convince them that in relation to the demand 
made on us, we, the "world's dear papa, 9 ' were poor. If we did 
not, then we would not. And I confess our behavior again and 
again, behavior dictated by red tape more binding than the iron 
clamps that held Prometheus fast against the cruel crags of Cau- 
casus, went some way to justify their suspicions. True we were 
here not as fair-minded, good-hearted individuals but as a machine 



EPILOGUE 443 

to fight and defeat the Germans. We had to achieve our ends, but 
Italians cannot be blamed for feeling that the cost was appalling. 
To go into details would lead too far, and besides the time is 
not yet when one can say all one could wish. 

As for myself, I am glad I withstood persuasion and pressure 
to return home, and that I stuck it through in Italy. 

The six years of the war went a good way to complete and per- 
fect my acquaintance with Italian mankind. It has been worth 
while: for, when their material interests, their personal dignity, 
and their national vanity are not put in question, they are the most 
understanding, the most easygoing, the least censorious, the least 
"I-am-holier-than-thou" of peoples. Their sympathies for suffering, 
whether physical or moral, are wide and warm. No other society 
is so indulgent to the frailties flesh is heir to, or expects less by way 
of heroics. (That, by the way, may be the reason why they so 
inordinately admire stunts, moral and spiritual, no less than physi- 
cal and material. ) Nowhere else have I encountered like generos- 
ity and self-sacrifice. 

Marchese and Marchesa Serlupi Crescenzi were little more 
than acquaintances when they offered me shelter at serious risk 
to their peace of mind, and even to their personal safety. They 
took me in, and treated me not as a refugee whom one has to be 
nice with, but as if it made them happy to have me, to serve me, 
to see to my every comfort, to study the wants of a man of my 
advanced age. It was caritas in the most human and Christian 
sense of the word. 

Unforgettable proofs of friendship were given me by the Ger- 
man Consul, Gerhard Wolf, and by the assistant chief, now chief 
of police, Virgilio Soldani Benzi. Both of them not only knew 
where I was, but spread the semi-official declaration that I had 
gone to Portugal. Hundreds of persons could have known and 
some did know my macchia my hiding place. Despite alarms 
and excursions, nobody in any situation gave me away. I learned 
afterwards that some friends deliberately avoided finding out 
where I was, not to run the risk of betraying it under torture. 



444 RUMOR AND REFLECTION 

I have already spoken of what the two directors of the German 
Institute, the late Friedrich Kriegbaum and Ludwig Heydenreich 
have done to defend my property. 

Other friends made when Europe if not yet Italy was already 
at war, and who afterwards came forward with efficient help al- 
though I had no claim on them whatever, were ex-Prime Minister 
Orlando and his family, his daughter Carlotta Garabelli in par- 
ticular, Countess Marina Volpi, Count Vittorio Cini, Count Al- 
fonso Gaetani, for years Prefect of Florence, the Swiss Consul, 
Carlo Steinhauslin, and Achille Malavasi, chief of the press bureau 
of the prefecture and close friend of Count Gaetani. 

Thanks to the Serlupis, this year of sequestration seemed al- 
ready, while I was living it, and seems more and more in retro- 
spect, one of the most satisfactory of a lifetime. For many a day 
I had been longing for leisure, for freedom from workaday mat- 
ters, and from over-much society. All this and more was granted 
me at the Serlupis. I was cut off from company except of the few- 
est. I could not write letters or be written to. I could not worry or 
vex myself over big or little, because literally I was not in a posi- 
tion to do anything about it. Luckily I was free from fear. Goethe 
in his Marchen, which I read as a youth, says that small annoy- 
ances distress and even exasperate one, while tragic possibilities 
have wings and carry us beyond ourselves. That certainly was my 
case during darkest prospects. 

Then I feel justified in having stayed here, because I thereby 
saved my art treasures as well as my books and photographs. They 
would have been carried off perhaps to Germany, and recovery 
would have been incomplete if not problematic. 

The library has only some forty thousand items but scarcely one 
that, in the course of sixty years, has not been acquired for the 
quality of its contents whether literary or scholarly. Few master- 
pieces of our world's great authors are missing, the European in 
the originals, the others in translations. Criticism likewise, whether 
of the written word or of the visual arts. And histories of events, 
of ideas, of religion, of science, of the arts again. Books for use 
only, for most part indispensable to the student and, given the 



EPILOGUE 445 

destructions suffered in the last six years, a fair number of them 
irreplaceable. 

The greatest loss of all might have been the photographs. They 
comprise a fair showing of the worlds art in every phase., and 
reproductions of Italian paintings down to the seventeenth cen- 
tury, more complete possibly than elsewhere, and a certain num- 
ber perhaps unique. 

It would not have been anybody's business to save them if I 
had been away. I could put them in presumable safety, thanks not 
only to the Serlupis and the Baroness Ritter de Zdhony who took 
them, but to the assistance of the art superintendent Giovanni 
Poggi, and to the personal attendance during packing and trans- 
port of a dear friend, the delicate restorer and picture expert, 
Giannino Marchig. 

Elsewhere in these pages I have spoken of my deep gratefulness 
to Baron Egbert and Baroness Alda Anrep as well as to their son 
Cecil, for their devotion to my interests and the care taken of my 
wife during my absence. In the same connection I take pleasure in 
mentioning my agent, Geremia Giofredi, whose loyal service 
during all the past difficult years has been invaluable. Indeed not 
one of the servants attached to the house, or of the peasants, has 
taken advantage of the political situation to behave in a disloyal 
way. 



INDEX 



abstractions, dread of, 239 

power of, 190 

Abyssinia, 42, 154, 183, 222 
Adams, Henry, 214 
adults, deference to, 94 
adventure, craving for, 213 
Aesthertik des Tragischen, by 

Volkelt, 73, 74 
after-life. See immortality 
age-consciousness, 27 
aged, the. See old 
air transport, future, 108 
air war. See World War II 
Allenby, Lord, 219 
Alliance Israelite Universelle. 

See Jews 

Ambrose of Milan, 289, 312 
America and Americans. See 

United States 
Amiel, Henri Frdric, 65 
amusement, search for, 214 
"androplasm," Russian, 78 
Anglo-Saxons. See Great Britain; 

United States 
Annunzio, Gabriele d*. See D*An- 

nunzio 



Anreps (family), 399, 422, 433, 

445 

antecedent probability, 304, 308 
anthologies, 86 
anthropology, 297 
anti-Semitism, See Jews; also 

names of countries 
Aosta, Duchess of, 247 
archaeology, 92 
architecture, Gothic, 167 

rebuilding, 250 

"restoration," 250 
aristocracy, 97 
Aristophanes, 344 
art 

"abstract," 166, 220; and sur- 
realist, 207 

ancient, 92 

exchange of, 170 

German, preservation of, in 
wartime, 292 

identification of a painting, 

304 

interpreters, 220 
Mediterranean, 220 
of a people, 54 
painters, 340 
talents for, 216 



447 



448 

Athanasius, 289, 312 
atom, disintegration of, 67 
Aufgeregten, by Goethe, 400 
Austen, Jane, 86 
autarchy, 89 

authoritarianism, 40, 173, 227 
authors. See books 



B 



Badoglio, Marshal, 120, 130, 131, 

144, 162, 165 

balance of power, European, 282 
Balkan States, 431 
Baltic States, 158 
Barres, Maurice, 274 
Baruch, Bernard M., 113 
Bashkirtseff, Marie, Journal, 

339-41 

Benedict XV, 43, 188 
Berenson, Bernard 
"agent of international Jewry," 

114 

and music, 209-10 
birthday, 347-48 
books by, 70, 73, 90, 206, 245, 

363, 369 
house, 433; German use of, 

175 
House of Life, 49, 157, 190, 

204, 207, 417 
illness, 426 
interpreter between Italians 

and Anglo-Saxons, 239 
isolation in wartime, 59, 330, 

347-48 

liberation, 342 
life at Harvard, 28 
life since forty, 245 
occupations, 404 
prisoner in Florence, 59 
property, 238 
theory of art enjoyment, 73 
writings, early, 85 
youth, 28 



INDEX 

Berenson, Mrs. Bernard (Mary), 
4, 6, 18, 23, 59, 175, 306, 362, 
374, 389, 399, 419, 421, 434 
Berenson, Robert, 425 
Bergson, Henri, 206, 230 

death, 8 

Mature et Memoire, 205 

Premieres Donnees, 205 
Bible, the, 331; Old Testament, 

70 

Bismarck, Otto von, 33, ill 
Blucher, Marshal, 155 
Bode, Wilhelm von, 220 
Bolshevism. See Communism 
books 

criticism and teaching of, 394 

egotism in writing, 85 

reactionary, 270-71 

reading, 74 

writing, 261 
boredom, 214 
Bourget, Paul, 18 
British. See Great Britain 
Bubu de Montparnasse, by 

Philippe, 179 
buildings, church, 83 

See also architecture 
Bulgaria, 379 
Burckhardt, Carl, 80 
Burckhardt, Jakob, 96 
Burgergeneral, by Goethe, 400 
Byron, Lord; poem on fall of 
Napoleon, 200 



calumny, 63 

Cardinal of Florence. See Costa, 

Elia della 
Cardinale Lambertini, by Tes- 

toni, 202 
Caritk, Capitano, 177, 235, 

300-01, 333, 365 
catchwords, 227 
and ideas, 262 



INDEX 



449 



Cavalieri, Lina, 233 
Cavallero, General, 164 
Catholicism. See Roman Catho- 
lic Church 
celestialism, 31 
Celine, Voyage an Bout de la 

Nuit, 180 
censorship, 99, 331 
Chamberlain, Houston Stewart, 

226 

Chamberlain, Neville, 169, 222 
Chaudordy, M. de, 19 
China, 51, 90 
Christ. See Jesus 
Christ the Word, by More, 107 
Christendom; breakup of unity, 

118 

Christianity 
anti-Christianity of Nazism, 

220 

begetting by Judaism, 107 
culture, 115 

detribalized Judaism, 310 
future of, 221 
Judeo-Christianity, 34 
"Why We Must Call Ourselves 

Christians," by Croce, 322 
church 

and nation, 27, 287 
buildings, 83 
sodality, religious, 33 
Churchill, Winston, 122, 152, 
185, 189, 201, 216, 232, 241, 
277 

Ciano, Count, 130, 144, 365, 367 
Ciano, Edda, 130, 233 
Cinelli, Delfino, 91 
Cini, Vittorio, 130, 132, 137 
civilization, effect on, of defeat 

in war, 36 
uniformity of, 119 
Clavigo, by Goethe, 394 
clouds, 165 
Cocteau, Jean, 37 
Colacicchi, Giovanni, 164 



colonialism, 71, 98 
Communism, 46 

and Fascism; parallelism, 137 

Italian, 439 
concentration camp, German, 

338 

Conegliano, Cima da, 24 
Conflict of the Church and the 

Synagogue, by Parker, 318, 

note 

conquest, right of, 45 
Consalvi, Cardinal, 194 
conservatism, 88 
"conspicuous waste," 209 
Constantine, Emperor, 288 
continuation of life. See immor- 

tality 

conversation, 260 
Coolidge, Calvin, cult of, 88 
corporations, Middle Age, 33 
Costa, Elia da, Cardinal (Cardi- 

nal of Florence), 192, 218, 

387 

Costa, Uriel da, 319 
Council of Trent. See Roman 

Catholic Church 
courtesans, 208, 283 
Crane, Stephen, Maggie: A Girl 

of the Streets, 180-81 
creation and criticism, 65 
Crispolti, Pi o IX, Leone XIII, Pio 

X e Benedetto XIV, 188 
Crivelli, Carlo, 22 
Croce, Benedetto, 115, 172, 322 
crop, human, in Europe, 264-65 
Cyril of Alexandria, 289, 312 
Czechoslovakia, 158 

D 
D'Armunzio, Gabriele, 15, 233, 



Dante, 336, 123 

Divine Comedy, 335 
Danubian Confederation, 431 



450 

Darlan, Admiral, 101 

Davies, Joseph E.; book on his 

mission to Moscow, 202, 

227-28 
death; apologue of, 37 

and life, 309 

debts, international, 168-69 
decline in a nation or ruling 

class, 87 

Demidoff , Prince, 64 
destiny and determinism. See 

fatalism 

Dickens, Charles, 324 
dictatorship, 151 
diplomats, 73 
disarmament, postwar, 68 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 48, 147 
Dissociation of a Personality, by 

Prince, 184 

Divine Comedy, by Dante, 335 
divorce, 18 

Dollmann, Captain, 364, 365 
Don Carlos, by Schiller, 372 
Dopolavoro, 208 
Dreyfus affair, 9, 258 
Dumini, 140 



"East, the," 78 
economic man, 173 
education and miseducation, 305 
Education for Death, by Ziegler, 

427 

Egmont, by Goethe, 370 
egotism in writing, 85 

Egypt 34> 4, 98. io , 278 

Pharaohs, 32; mortal, 317, note 
Einfuhling, theory of, 74 
Einstein, Albert, 206 
Elective Affinities, by Goethe, 

285 

electricity, age of, 203-04 
Elijah, 319, 331 
England. See Great Britain 



INDEX 



English language, 236 
envy, 209 

Epimenides, by Goethe, 403 
equality, 255 

before God, 34 
espionage, 149 
Esther, Book of, 70 
eternity. See immortality 
Ethiopia. See Abyssinia 
Etna, Mount, 308 
Eulenburg, Philipp zu, 359 
euphuism and slang, 350 
Europe 

balance of power, 282 

Fortress Europa, 324-25 

Greater, 72 

overpopulation, 264-65 

post-World War II, 168 
events, inevitability of, no 
evil, good from, 40 

microbe of, 62 



faith. See religion 
fanaticism, 257 
Farmacci, Roberto, 269 
Fascism and Bolshevism; paral- 
lelism, 137 
fatalism, 36, 79 

Faust, by Goethe, 276, 284, 403 
fear, yielding to, 412 
feudalism, 33 
Fiume, 10, 22 

Florence, bombing of, 138, 231, 
263, 268, 272, 275, 283, 387 

destruction by Germans, 397, 
418, 420 

glory of, 293 

Hitler's impressions of, 231 

in wartime, 293 

looting by Germans, 139, 355, 

359, 361, 373 
"open city," 275, 374, 388 
rebuilding of, 251 



INDEX 



451 



foreigners, prejudice against, 160 
Forster, E. M., 219 
Fortress Europa, 324-25 
France, defeat of, 8 

Jews; anti-Semitism, 258. See 
also Dreyfus affair 

peoples of, 286 

post- World War II, 134 

Revolution, 400 

Romanticism, 225 

tinder German rule, 35 
Franchetti, Baron, 48 
Franchetti, Leopoldo, 147 
Francis of Assisi, 312 
Francis Joseph I, 271 
Frederick the Great, 155 
freedom, 238 
French Institute, 99 
Freudism, 226 

Fuhrerthum. See totalitarianism 
Funtyki, 117 

future, influence of the past on, 
219 

writing about, 291 

See also World War II 
postwar world 



Gandhi, Mahatma, 98 
Garabelli, Carla, 120 
Gardner, Mrs. Jack, 14 
Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 183 
Gaulle, General Charles de, 297 
Gayda, Virginio, 269 
Gentile, Giovanni, assassination 

of, 300 
Gerlach, 188 
German Institute in Florence, 

134, 138, 140 

Germany and the Germans 
army, 372 
art, 171 

preservation of, in wartime, 

292 



Germany (continued) 
Asiatization through Nazism, 

7 8 

"chosen people," 106 
conditions in Germany, 230 
conquest, recurrent, of Eng- 
land, 37-38 
culture, 388 
envy; national characteristic, 

361 

future of, 427 
habits, foul, 395, 425 
hatred of, by Italians, 127 
in World War II; defense of 

actions, 105 
Jews; anti-Semitism, 145, 159, 

217; benefit to the nation, 

178; in World War I, 311; 

leaders in art, literature 

and science, 155; minority, 

small, 107 
manners, 402 
militarism, 153 
music, 191 
Nazism; anti-Christianity, 220; 

sterility in art, 148-49; 

teaching of, 189 
nobility, death of, 161 
post-World War II, 161, 368; 

treatment of, 151, 153 
propaganda, 280; about war in 

the air, 232 
Romanized, 221 
Romanticism, 225 
sixteenth-century, 287 
Steel Compact., 143 
submission to authority, 372 
totalitarianism, 40 
views on loss of the war, 

295 

writings, 353 
ghetto, the. See Jews 
Gide, Andr ? 34 
Giobbe, Mirco, 233 
Goebbels, Joseph Paul, 324 



45* 



INDEX 



Goethe; and Shelley, 416 

and Shakespeare; effect of the 
latter on Goethe, 344 

Aufgeregten, 400 

Burger general, 400 

Clavigo, 394 

Elective Affinities, 285 

Epimenides, 403 

Faust, 276, 284, 403 

Iphigenie, 388 

Pandora, 403 

Stella, 394 
good from evil, 40 
Goring, Hermann, 329 
Gothic architecture, 167 
government, acceptance of, 94 

definition of, 277 
Grandeur et Decadence des Ro- 
mains, by Montesquieu, 351 
Grandi, Dino, 130 
Graziani, Marshal, 131, 333 
Great Britain; and the United 
States; differences between, 
441 

colonialism, 99 

conquest, recurrent, by Ger- 
mans, 37-38 

decline, 71 

"home" of Americans, 116 

hypocrisy, 361 

ideals and conduct, 346 

leadership in the nineteenth 
century, 70-71 

policy, foreign, 223-24 

post-World War II, 5, 169 

prejudice against, 160 

prisoners, British, in Italy, 46- 

47> 77 

propaganda against, 280, 305 

rulers, 88 

understanding of, 42 
Greece, modern, 157 
Greek, classical, decline of, 221 
Gregory VII, 27 
Greville, Charles, Memoirs, 109 



guilds, medieval, 33 
Guinness, Bridget, 233 
Gundolf, Friedrich, on Shake- 
speare, 74 

H 

handicrafts, 40 

Hearn, Lafcadio, 53, 91 

Japan, an Appreciation, 53 
Hebrew language, decline of, 

221 

Heine, Heinrich, 48 
Henraux, Lucien, 22 
Herodotus, 69, 79, 82 
heroism, 225 

Himmler, Heinrich, 163, 247, 364 
history, "if s" of, 290 

makers of, 343 

reading of, 229 

rewriting of, 290 

teaching of, 96 
Hitler, Adolf 

and Xerxes, 81 

attempt to get Vatican sup- 
port, 348 

destroyer, 148 

impressions of Florence, 231 

on Allies' war aims, 211 

persecutions of the Jews, 
causes of, 159 

rise of, 152 

Romanticist, 148 

threat to exterminate the Jews, 

M5 

Hof mannsthal, Hugo von, 344 
Homberger, Heinrich, Selbst- 

gesprache, 65; 317, note 
Homer, 93 

homosexuality, German, 359 
House of Life, 49, 157, 190, 204, 

207, 417 

Hugo, Victor, 309 
Huizinga, Johann, 96 
human crop in Europe, 264-65 



INDEX 



453 



human nature. See man 
humanitarianism, 5 
Hungary, 158 
de-Judaizirig of, 339 



I Tatti. See Berenson, B. house 

ice age, coming, 67 

idealism, 299 

ideologies, conflict of, 89-90 

ideas and catchwords, 262 

"if s" of history, 290 

Iliad, 93 

illuminism, 263 

immortality, 31 

imperialism, 91 

Independence Day (July 4), 356 

India, 98, 222, 278 

individual and society, 192 

individuality, 31, 32, 78 

inevitability of events, no 

Innocent III, 27 

"intellectuality," 256 

"intelligentsia," 238 

internationalism, 255, 257 

intervention, international, 136 

inventions, 203 

Iphigenie, by Goethe, 388 

Iran. See Persia 

irrational, cult of, 225 

It Cant Happen Here, by Lewis, 
152 

Italy and the Italians 
after the armistice, 126 
and the United States, before 

World War II, 328 
art treasures, 170 
clash between Italians and 

Germans, 164 
Communists, 439 
criminals, freeing of, 177 
destruction by Germans, 375 
enslavement of Italians by 
Germans, 283 



Italy (continued) 
evacuation by Germans, 341, 

366, 367 

fear, attitude toward, 412 
feeling and thinking, 17 
freeing from Germans, 240 
hatred of Germans, 127 
heliocratic, 45 
imperialism, 222 
"intelligentsia," 243 
invasion by Americans, 219 
invasions, 366 

Jews; anti-Semitism, 163, 172, 
218; flight of, 143; Jews a 
benefit to the nation, 178; 
massacre of, 350; Papal 
stand for, 185; roundup of, 

145, 147 

laws, racial, 143 
lust for conquest, 182-83 
militarism, 154 
nationalistic, 279, 302 
newspapers, 334 
occupation of Italy, 237 
Pacca Law, 170 
partisans, 126, 363 
peasants, 242 
personality, dual, 184 
post-World War II, 429 
proletariat, 238 
revolution in; downfall of 

Mussolini, 120 
royalty, 120. See also personal 

names and titles 
Steel Compact, 143 
unification of Italy, 182 



j 



James, William, 19, 126 
Japan, 168, 259 

attack on the United States; in 
World War II, 50 

history, 51-53. 9 1 

"ideal"; books on Japan, 157 



454 



INDEX 



Japan (continued) 

Jews; anti-Semitism, 217 
life in, 55 
power of, 71 
Japan, an Appreciation, by 

Hearn, 53 
Japanese in the American army, 

426 

jealously, 209 
Jesuits, 119, 195, 237 
Jesus, no 

and Israel, 172 
attitude toward, 313 
deification, 316, 317 
understanding of, 204 
Jew in the Medieval Community, 

The, by Parker, 318, note 
Jews 

alienation from the land, 194 
Alliance Israelite Universelle, 

146 

anti-Semitism, 48, 107, 113-15, 
145-48, 189, 194, 211, 257, 
309-14, 348; among Jews, 
319; causes, 321; Church 
Fathers', 312; root of, 318 
See also names of countries 
as recently naturalized aliens, 

48 

assimilation of, 145, 318, 320 
calumny by an Irish priest, 

159 

charities, 146 

conservatism, 145 

contempt of, by fellow Jews, 
310 

converts to Christianity, 47, 48 

defense of fellow Jews, 159 

enlightened, 313 

European, 322-23 

exclusiveness, 106 

extermination threat by Hit- 
ler, 145 

future of, 310 

ghetto, 189; philosophy in, 321 



Jews (continued) 
history, 319 
"international," 113 
"Jew-consciousness," 218 
limitation of number in a na- 
tion, 179 
mission, 310 
nationalistic, 147 
objectivity, 312 
persecution by Hitler; causes, 

159 
persistence, 35, 156, 260 

philosophy in the ghetto, 321 
"Protocols of the Elders of 

Zion," 61, 177 
Rhodes; Spanish Jews, 146 
scapegoats, 43 
segregation, 189 
super-patriotism, 48 
survival, 35, 156, 260 
Zionism, 146, 279 

See also names of nations 
Jonson, Ben, and Shakespeare, 

391 
Volpone, 391 

Journal, M. Bashkirtseff, 339-41 
Judaism. See Jews 
Judenkrieg. See World War II 
Judeo-Christianity. See Chris- 
tianity 

Julian the Apostate, 287, 288, 289 
July Fourth ( Independence 
Day), 356 



K 



Kesselring, Marshal Albert, 337, 

352, 371, 403, 421, 422 
Keynes, Maynard, 308 
Keyserling, Hermann, 186 
Kierkegaard, Soren A., 204 

Riens Philosophiques, no 
King-Emperor. See Victor Em- 
manuel III 
Kriegbaum, Friedrich, 134, 138 



INDEX 



455 



labor, place for, in post-war 

world, 174 

Labriolle, Reaction Payenne, 287 
language; euphuism and slang, 

350; groups, 432 
languages, 335 

classical, decline of, 221 
Laval, Pierre, 89, 134, 235 
Lawrence, David H., 195 
Lee, Vernon, 11 
leisure, use of, 208, 216 
Leo XIII, 188 
Leopardi, Giacomo, and Shelley., 

408 
Lewis, Sinclair, It Can't Happen 

Here, 152 

liberalism, 262, 278, 302 
libraries in Rome; looting by 

Germans, 191 
Libya, 10, 183 
life; and death, 309 

standards of, 395-96 
Life, House of. See House of 

Life 

Lipps, Theodor, 73 
List, Georg Friedrich, 41 
Literature, definition of, 179 

See also books 

Littlepage, book on Russia, 228 
"Logos," the, 321 
Lotto, Lorenzo, 22 
love; and sex, 209 

M 

macchia. See Italy partisans 
Machine, The; Enemy Number 

One, 39 

Madonna, the; cult of, 118 
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 304 
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, by 

Crane, 180-81 
makers of history, 343 



Malaparte, Curzio, Technique 

dun Coup tftat, 377 
Malta, 232 
man, economic, 173 

human nature, 298 

rational, 225, 226, 229 
Marie Donadieu, by Philippe, 

195 

Marini, de, 337 

Markevitch, Igor, 101, 117, 419 
Markino, Yoshio, When I Was a 

Child, 394 
Marie, R. van, 304 
masonry, good, 167 
material and non-material, 31 

32 
Matiere et Memoire, by Bergson, 

205 

Matteoti, assassination of, 140 
meeting, first, with people, 6-7 
Memoirs, by Greville, 109 
Memorandum, by Solaro della 

Margherita, 271 
Michelangelo, 246 
militarism, 154 
miracles, no 
missionaries, 297 
Mitford, Algernon, Tales of Old 

Japan, 52 

Modern Painters, by Ruskm, 165 
Mohammedans, 47 
"Moloch," 267 
Moltke, Marshal von, 155 
monachism, 289 
Montebello, Mme Jean de, 10, 

18,25 
Monte Cassino, bombing of, 248, 

5*> *53> 357 
Montesquieu, Grandeur et D6- 

cadence des Romains, 351 
More, Paul Elmore, Christ the 

Word, 107 

Moses and Pharaoh; legend, 317 
Murasaki, Baroness, Tale of 

Genji, 55 



456 

Muschler, R. C., Philipp %u 

Eulenburg, 359 
music, 209-10 

and the radio, 95 

German, 191 

Mussolini, Benito, 42, 88, 241, 
247 

after his dismissal, 164 

and Rome, 249 

dismissal, 129 

rise, 152 
Mycenae, 92 
mysteries, Greek, 33 

N 

Naples; Church of Donna Anna 

Regina, 87 
Napoleon I, 148, 194, 223, 224 

fall; poem by Byron, 200 
nation; and church, 27, 287 
decline in, 87 

misrulers; immunity from pun- 
ishment, 88 
nationalism, 47, 256, 260, 278, 

432 

and patriotism, 311 

religion of, 119 
nationality; and religion, 172 

depoliticizing of, 156 
nations, great, 173 
"nature/* 32 
naturalization, 47 
nature, human. See man 
nature, split, 66 
Nazism. See Germany 
Neoplatonism, 289 
Neumann, 41 
newspapers, Italian, 334 

of today, no 
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 206, 226, 

262, 276 

Nijinskaia, Kyra, 117 
Nitti, Francesco Saverio, 183 



INDEX 



Norton, Charles Eliot, 64, 116, 

335 

Novalis, 96 
numenal, the, 3 



O 



old, rule by, 28 

treatment of, 241 
Old Testament, the, 70, 331 
Orlando, Carla Garabelli, 92 
Orlando, Vittorio, 43, 120, 129, 

249 

oracles, 80 
overpopulation, European, 264- 

65 

ownership; rights, 236 
valueless, 46 



Pacca Law, 170 

painting. See art 

Palestine, 279 

Palffy, Dorothy, 68 

Palgrave's anthology, 86 

Pandora, by Goethe, 403 

Paris, 179 

Parker, James, The Conflict of 
the Church and the Syna- 
gogue, 318, note 

parliamentary rule, 185-86 

partisans. See Italy 

patriotism, 259 
and nationalism, 311 

Paul, Saint, 47, 314 

people, a; punishment of, 135- 

36, 151 

Perkins, F. Mason, 342 
Persia, 33, 34, 69, 80 
personality, dual, 184 
Pharaohs. See Egypt 
Philipp zu Eulenburg, by 

Muschler, 359 



INDEX 



457 



Philippe, Charles Louis, Bubu 

de Montparnasse,'\7Q 
Marie Donadieu, 195 

Philo, 321 

Piedmont, Prince of, 294 

Pio IX, Leone XIII, Pio X e Ben- 
edetto XV, by Crispolti, 188 

Pius VII, 270 

Pius IX, 19, 188, 271 

Pius XI, 311, 420 

Pius XII, 114, 130, 132, 185, 192, 
234, 254, 269 

Placci, Carlo, 9-27 

Plato, 371 

plays. See Theater, the 

plebiscitism, 84 

poetry, 416 
anthologies, 86 
history of, 92-93 

Poggio Gherardo, 175 

Poland, 218, 428 

politics; and religion, 305 
society world in, 365 

Popes, four; biographies of, 188 
See also Benedict XV; Greg- 
ory VII; Innocent III; Leo 
XIII; Pius VII; Pius IX; 
Pius XI; Pius XII 

population, European, 265-65 

postwar world. See World 
War II 

postcards, picture, 95 

praise, impatience with, 8 

Premieres Donnees, by Bergson, 
205 

press. See newspapers 

prestige values, 208 

PrStre de Nemi, by Renan, 293, 

303 

Preziosi, Father, 269 

Prince, Morton, The Dissocia- 
tion of a Personality, 184 

probability, antecedent, 304, 308 

proletariat, the, 238 

"Prometheus," by Shelley, 415 



propaganda, 308, 325 
property. See ownership 
prostitutes, 208, 283 
"Protocols of the Elders of Zion," 

61, 177 
punishment of a people, 135-36, 

151 

puritanism, 227 
purity, racial, 186 
purpose of the universe, 107-08 



Quarto, 144, 379, 381, 382, 388, 
389, 391, 4*6, 437 



R 



race, persistence of, 260 
racialism, 226, 257 
Racine, Jean Baptiste, 323, 331 
radio, 227 

and music, 95 

enemy; ban on, 149 
Rann, Ambassador von, 144 
rationalism, 263, 302 
reaction, 270, 272 
Reaction Payenne, by Labriolle, 

287 

reading. See books 
reform, 273 
Reinach, Salomon, 99 
Reinach brothers, 48, 147 
religion; a necessity, 299 

and nationality, 172 

and politics, 305 

and state, 287 

faith, meaning of, 205 

revealed, 16 
Renan, Joseph Ernest, Pretre de 

Nemi, 293, 323 
Revolution, French, 400 
revolutions, cause of, 229 
rhetoric, influence of, 123 



458 



INDEX 



Rhodes, Spanish Jews in, 146 
Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 295 
Riens fhilosophiques, by Kier- 
kegaard, no 
ring, wedding, Italian devotion 

to, 348-49 

Risorgimento. See Italy unifi- 
cation 

Hitter, Baroness, 144 
Roberto, de, Vteerd, 308 
Roman Catholic Church 
continuance of, 194 
Council of Trent; fourth cen- 
tenary, 83 

"dependence of the Vatican 
on international Jewry/* 114 
eulogy by Croce, 115 
faith by followers, 369 
Hitler's attempt to get Vatican 

support, 348 
internationalism, 257 
movement from, 220 
Neo-Catholicism, 48, 49 
supernationalism, 310 
uniformity, increasing, 119 
Vatican, conditions in, 194 
Romanticism, German and 

French, 225 
Rome, bombing of, 292 
evacuation by the Germans, 

328 

libraries; looting by the Ger- 
mans, 191 

massacre in, by Germans, 296 
"open city, ?> 275 
rebuilding by Mussolini, 249 
Rommel, Marshal Erwin, 100 
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 88, 
113, 122-23, 150, 151, 181, 
201, 215, 216, 217, 234, 420 
Rosenberg, Alfred, 235 
Rossi, General Adami, 274, 349 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 302 
royalty, 97, 256 



rulers, decline in, 87 
immunity from punishment, 

88 
\j\j 

training of, 294 
Ruskin, John, 64 

Modern Painters, 165 
Russia 

"androplasm," 78 

army equipment, poor, 68 

art, sterility in, 149 

Davies book on mission to 
Moscow, 202, 227-28 

Jews, massacre of, 424 

menace to civilization, 79 

Russification, 228 
Russo-Japanese War, 90-91 



Salvemini, Gaetano, 20 
San Marco in Venice, 253 
Schiller, Johann von, Don Car- 
los, 372 

Scorza, Carlo, 122 
Scott, Sir Walter, Wawrley, 66 
Selbstgesprache, by Homberger, 

65, 3*7> note 
Serlupi, Filippo, 124 
sex; and amusement, 227 

relief; and love, 209 
Shakespeare, William, 66-67, 

S^S, 331, 343 

and Jonson, 391 

effect on Goethe, 344 

Gundolf s work on, 74 
shape and substance, 166 
Shelley, Percy Bysshe; and 
Goethe, 416 

and Leopardi, 408 

"Prometheus," 415 
Sicily, 308 
Siena, 235 
sin, original, 263 
sincerity, 61-62 
Sitwells, the, 380 



INDEX 



459 



skyscraper, the, 167 
slang and euphuism, 350 
slavery, 187 
snobbery, 20 

of scholars and writers, 67 
snow, 75 
society; and the individual, 192 

groupings, 256 

high, 256. See also aristocracy 

in politics, 365 

talk, 260 

Solaro della Margherita, Memo- 
randum, 271, 272 
soldier as ruler of a nation, 294 
Sonnino, Sidney, 48, 147 
Soviet Russia. See Russia 
Spain; postwar, 431 
Spellman, Francis Cardinal, 132 
spending habits, 14 
spies, 149 

Spinoza, Baruch, 319 
"spirit," 32 
Stalin, Joseph, 78, 201, 218-19, 

228, 244 

standards of life, 395-96 
state. See nation 
Steinbeck, John, 109 
Stella, by Goethe, 394 
Stillman, W. J., 245, 265 
stoicism, 33 
strangers, ill-treatment of, 160 

prejudice against, 160 
Strzygowski, Josef, 220 
substance and shape, 166 
Suez Canal, 222 
suffrage, universal, 84-85 
Summer, by Wharton, 109 
Sumner, William Graham, 298 
sun; heliocracy, 45 

ownership in, 46 
Superman, 206, 262 
superstition, 3, 162 
System der Aesthetik, by Volkelt, 
73 



Tale of Genji, by Murasaki, 55 
Tales of Old Japan, by Mitford, 

5* 

Tatti, I. See Berenson, B. house 

Technique (Tun Coup d'Etat, by 

Malaperte, 377 
Testoni, Alfredo, Cardlnale 

Lambertini, 202 
theater, the, 202 
theory of art-enjoyment, 73 
Thomism, 48 

time-spirit, the (Zeitgeist), 408 
totalitarianism, 35, 40, 89, 174, 

227, 260, 330, 372 
Fuhrerthum, 84-85 
"traitors" in history, 144 
Trent, Council of. See Roman 

Catholic Church 
tribalism, 33, 226 
Tura, Cosimo, 323 
Turkey, 90, 258 

U 

understanding one's age, 204 
United States 
Americanization, 228 
and Great Britain; differences 

between, 441 
and Italy, before World War 

II, 328 

election in, 151 
Italian opinion of Americans, 

45, 201 

Jews; anti-Semitism, 211 
population, 265 
post-World War II, 5, 168, 291 
ruling class, 88 
women, American, married to 

Italians, 181 

universe, stability of, 67 
Uriel de Costa, 319 



460 



INDEX 



Utopia, 213, 229, 290-91 
plan for, 207 



V 



values, prestige, 208 

vandalism in a church, 87 

Vatican, the. See Roman Catho- 
lic Church 

Venice; San Marco, 253 

Verga, 308 

Vicerd, by de Roberto, 308 

Vico, Giovanni Baptista; auto- 
biography, 82 

Victor Emmanuel III, 120, 130, 
132, 134, 144, 294, 339 

Virgin, the, cult of, 118 

Volkelt, Johannes, Aesthetik des 

Tragischen, 73, 74 
System der Aesthetik, 73 

Volpi, Marina, 137, 150 

Volpone, by Jonson, 391 

Voltaire, 148 

voting. See suffrage, universal 

Voyage an Bout de la Nuit, by 
Celine, 180 

W 

Wagner, Richard, 191, 226 
war 

adventure in, 213 

cause of, 421 

conquest, right of, 45 

inevitability of, 41 

loss of life in, 266 

need for, 49 

totalitarian, 330, 372 
wars, international and social, 

174 
water, finding of, by dowsing, 

205 

Waterfield, Aubrey, 175 
Waverley, by Scott, 66 



wedding ring, Italian devotion 
to, 348-49 

Weizsacker, Ernst von, 185 

Weltanschauung, 203 

Wharton, Edith, 25, 199, 308 
Summer, 109 

When I Was a Child, by Mar- 
kino, 394 

Wilde, Oscar, 360, 361 

Will to Believe, The, by James, 

19 
William II, German Emperor, 

360 
Wilson, Woodrow, no, 308, 420 

hostility toward Italy, 44 
women, American, See United 

States 
words; and feeling, 191 

early, 93 
world, postwar. See World 

War II 

world state, prefigured, 343 
World War I, 219 

causes, 18 
World War II 
aims, German, 41 
air war, 329; called Juden- 
krieg, 189; German propa- 
ganda about, 232 
Allies' war aims, according to 

Hitler, 211 

armistice in Italy, 124 
cause, in 
effect, 49 

Fascist opinion on, 112 
German methods, 34 
Japanese attack on the United 

States, 50 
loss by Germans, as seen by 

them, 295 

parallel with Persian War, 80 

postwar world, 5, 36, 68, 70, 

72, 77, 111, 152, 168, 174, 

203, 281, 291, 297, 327, 332, 



INDEX 41 

World War II ( continued ) Y 

428. See also names of na- 
tions youth, 29 
propaganda, German, 306 Yugoslavia, 44, 133, 157, 431 
restitution by Germany, pro- 
posed, 330. See also names 
of nations Z 
writers. See books 

Zeitgeist (time-spirit), 408 
X Ziegler, Georg, Education for 

Death, 427 
Xerxes and Hitler, 81 Zionists. See Jews 



About the Author 



BEKNARD BERENSON was born in Lithuania in 1865 and was taken 
to Boston at the age of ten. There he remained until he was grad- 
uated from Harvard University in 1887. During these twelve years 
in the States he became a devoted Bostonian, New Englander, 
and American. Sixty years of living abroad have not diminished, 
but rather enhanced, his love for the land and the people who 
were so kind to him during his formative years. 

After frequenting many schools and universities, artists, and 
authors all over Europe (west of Berlin, Dresden, and Budapest) , 
he settled down in Florence. By that time his interests had taken 
definite shape. He determined to learn all he could about Italian 
art from Giotto and Duccio to Bronzino and Tintoretto. He con- 
centrated not only on Italy itself, but on all the lands bordering 
on the Mediterranean and its inlets. 

He has published a number of books on Italian art, treating of 
subjects only where he believed nobody knew more than he did. 
At the same time he was scarcely less interested in the art of the 
rest of the world, from the Paleolithic age down to the drying up 
of creative genius which in his view occurred with the passing of 
Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, and Rodin. 

For the last thirty years he has been more and more concerned 
with the problem of the decline of the visual arts. A book he has 
begun on that subject was interrupted by the last war. He has re- 
cently published a study of Aesthetics and History, a sketch for 
a self-portrait, and a work on the Arch of Constantine. He is now 
revising a book on Lorenzo Lotto which he originally wrote more 
than fifty-seven years ago. He is a member of the American Acad- 
emy of Arts and Letters, and of the Royal Academies of Norway 
and Belgium, and is an Honorary Citizen of Florence. Since his 
first work, Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, published in 
1894, he has written twenty-eight books. 



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