Read CHAPTER XVI of A Journey Through France in War Time , free online book, by Joseph G. Butler‚ Jr., on ReadCentral.com.

BACK TO PARIS

We arrived at Paris at three o’clock P.M., October 17th, and here received our first news of the submarine work off Nantucket. In the evening we met Antoine Borrel, deputy from Savoy, on six days’ leave of absence from the Alsace Lorraine district. He entered the war a common soldier and now has the Legion of Honor on his breast.

On Wednesday, October 11th, we visited Consul Thackara and arranged about our passports.

I succeeded in securing some fine war relics and a partial line of French war posters which I brought home with me.

On Thursday, October 12th, with Mr. Weare, of the United States Steel Corporation, I called upon Consul Thackara, Charge d’Affairs Bliss, and other friends at the Embassy. We also visited the general offices of the Schneider Company.

On Friday, October 13th, a meeting of the Commissioners was held and, although our passage had been engaged on the Rochambeau of the French line, it was decided to cancel the passage and return to America by way of the American line. This was a disappointment to some of the Commissioners, although the change appeared to be inevitable. The secretary of the Commission then set about to get us safely across the Channel. We were told we would be convoyed by a British vessel, usually used in carrying soldiers. We were fed on this information for three days, telegrams were sent to the American Embassy in London and a lot of valuable time wasted. The whole scheme proved to be a myth, and we were obliged to content ourselves with getting to England the same as ordinary mortals.

On Friday, October 13th, Charge d’Affairs Bliss gave a luncheon to some of the members of the Commission, and this was an enjoyable affair.

We were informed in the evening that accommodations had been secured on the steamer “Philadelphia”, of the American line, sailing October 21st, from Liverpool. Deputy Damour was greatly disappointed, as he had planned a farewell dinner at Bordeaux and great preparations had been made by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce for this event.

An informal supper was given Deputy Damour at the Hotel de Crillon at which some of the members of the Commission were present.

A neighbour haughty in its strength without the slightest provocation has torn up the treaty bearing its signature and has violated the territory of our fathers because we refused to forfeit our honor. It has attacked us. Seeing its independence threatened the nation trembled and its children sprang to the frontier, valiant soldiers in a sacred cause. I have confidence in your tenacious courage. I greet you in the name of Belgium a fellow citizen who is proud of you.

King Albert’s Address to the Belgians.]

Notwithstanding the war, we noticed some signs of gaiety in Paris. On Saturday evening I visited the Follies Bergère, where there was fine music and some dancing. The audience contained principally soldiers on six days’ leave of absence from the front.

On Sunday, October 15th, we had a joint meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce and discussed the tariff question, credits and other things too numerous to mention.

On Sunday afternoon I visited the American Ambulance for the third time. I paid particular attention to the pathological department. I was shown a piece of spine with an imbedded bullet visible, and other specimens entirely too realistic for me to look at. I was shown an electric apparatus for locating bullets and shells, without X-ray treatment, I saw a badly wounded soldier undergoing the Carrel treatment. Dr. Sherman, chief surgeon of the Carnegie Steel Company, had spent two months in France investigating this treatment. He was most thoroughly imbued with its usefulness and enthusiastic about introducing it in the hospitals of the Steel Corporation in the United States. My own belief is that this is an advanced stage in surgery and, in fact, is an epochal discovery. It will no doubt be adopted, not only in the military hospitals of the world, but in other hospitals. A description of the treatment was furnished me by Dr. Lee, of the University of Pennsylvania, who had spent several months in Paris hospitals, and also by Mr. Bennet, who was the superintendent of the American ambulance. These descriptions follow in later pages, the subject being of vast importance to those interested in the cause of humanity.

On Monday, October 16th, we met, at the Hotel de Crilion, the Belgian Chamber of Commerce. This was a notable gathering. The president of the Chamber of Commerce, René Nagelmackers, made a passionate and forceful address, thanking all the United States for the aid and assistance rendered the Belgians and setting forth their needs. He said a line of vessels had already been arranged for and financed, and that it was the intention of the Belgian Government to bring to France and deposit where they could be quickly reached, machinery, tools and everything needed to immediately rehabilitate Belgium. The intention was to have these in readiness so that restoration can be promptly effected and all Belgians returned to their native soil. The president and other members of the Chamber expressed a belief that all Belgium will again be restored to its rightful owners. On materials and machinery they will want fair prices, but they will be in need of large quantities of these and the United States will, on equal terms, be given the preference. A number of other members of the Belgian Chamber of Commerce spoke, some of them in English and some in French. Victor Haardt, a member residing temporarily in Paris, suggested that the meeting was important and should be brought to the attention of the Belgian Government. When it became known that I was a personal acquaintance of King Albert, a number of the delegates suggested that I write to him and give an account of the conference and they would in turn write an official account of it. This I proceeded to do, the King’s military address having been furnished me by one of the members. I gave the King in my letter full particulars of the meeting and in response received the following letter from his secretary soon after my arrival home:

La Cambre, Belgium, October 29th, 1916.
Office of the Secretary to the King and Queen.

Mr. J. G. Butler, Jr.
Youngstown, Ohio.

Dear Sir:

I was particularly pleased to read to his Majesty your good letter, and to receive the pamphlet.

I am charged by the King to thank you for the sentiments which you have expressed and for your sympathy for Belgium.

Our Sovereign wishes you to know that he recalls with pleasure the meeting with the Directors of the American Iron and Steel Institute at Brussels.

I beg you to accept, dear sir, the assurance of my highest regards,

J. INGENBLECK, Secretary.

I spent a good part of the following day in buying war relics, many of them made by the soldiers in the trenches out of such material as exploded shells, buttons from the uniforms of dead soldiers, etc. I purchased some unique postal cards, painted by hand in the trenches by soldiers who were artists. Other relics consisted of hat pins, napkin rings, bracelets and finger rings, all made as before stated, from war material.

A copy of an English publication was brought to my attention during the Belgian conference, and I was struck by a paragraph which is quoted:

SUBMARINING AMERICA

What Germany is Doing now is Submarining
the Monroe Doctrine and that is Submarining America.

In this connection there was some discussion and I was surprised to learn that the French, even those who are at the head of things, have a very hazy idea of what the Monroe Doctrine is. I explained to them that it was a statement made in a message to Congress by President Monroe in 1823, in which he laid down in a few words the principle that America, because of her history and the form of government established in the western world, was not a proper place for the exploitation of despotic governments, and that any attempt on the part of European nations to gain a foothold or to extend their territorial interests on the American continent would be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States. I explained that this statement was never questioned and had become an accepted principle. The explanation seemed to please the French and Belgians to whom it was translated, and they apparently approve of the idea.

Coming back to America, by the way, I found that there was no occasion to be surprised at lack of understanding of the Monroe Doctrine abroad, as few of us understand just what it is at home.

On October 17th, I visited the American Embassy and met there, among others, Captain Eugene Rosetti, a captain in the Foreign Legion. This Legion was recruited from friends of France who were not Frenchmen, but largely Americans. When the war broke out this body was thirty-six thousand strong, and on the date I talked with Captain Rosetti there were but thirteen hundred survivors. The Foreign Legion was largely in evidence at the early part of the war and stories of its bravery were heard everywhere.

In the evening Dr. Veditz made an address before the Commissioners, telling of the work he was engaged in and what he had accomplished.

On October 18th, the Commission gave a luncheon to Wilbur J. Carr, Consul in Europe with headquarters in Washington. Some very plain talk was in evidence as to the inefficiency of some of the American consuls. Consul Carr delivered a very forceful address. He had been in the consular service for nearly a quarter of a century and is working, with much success, to better the service.