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this: he had already made the acquaintance of Laurence Oliphant, when Hardmann, Oliphant's colleague at Versailles, was called away to England. Oliphant asked Blowitz to discharge Hardmann's duties for a fortnight. Blowitz was overjoyed, conscious that the one chance of his life had come, and determined not to miss it. Yet for a moment he hesitated. Oliphant surmised that the remuneration was insufficient. "No," said Blowitz, “it is no question of money. I can assure you it is something much more embarrassing. Before beginning, I should like to know something more about the paper. I should like to see a number of "The Times.'" Blowitz had never seen a number of "The Times!" To us, for whom Blowitz has been for many years inseparable from "The Times," the story seems incredible. But it is perfectly true, and is only a single instance, one among many, of Blowitz's astounding ingenuousness.
For a while he discharged his duties with triumphant success. In his first telegram, to read which in "La Liberté" was "one of the strongest emotions he ever experienced in his life," he publicly repeated what Thiers had told him in private. He visited the statesman the next day with apprehension, and if he expected to find his friend indifferent, he was disappointed. "Tell me," said Thiers, "how it comes about that "The Times' was able to publish a conversation which I have had with no one but you." Blowitz, with his customary frankness, confessed at once, and Thiers seems to have seen a profit in such transactions, for he never withdrew his confidence from the man who printed all he knew. However, Blowitz's triumph was interrupted by Hardmann's return, and again he was forced to turn his eyes to frost-bound Riga. But presently Oliphant himself left Paris for America, and then it was that
Blowitz was appointed assistant to Hardmann, whom in two years he succeeded. Such is Blowitz's own account of the circumstances which led to his appointment to "The Times." It is but fair to say that Laurence Oliphant had another and curiously different tale to tell, and used to tell it with infinite gusto.
Once in the saddle, Blowitz set no bounds to the course which he would run. He aspired to govern Europe through "The Times." He knew, none better, how much may be accomplished by the sudden throwing of a bombshell of news into the columns of a journal, and he took care to be liberally supplied with bombs. He possessed in full measure the tact and spirit which make a Parisian; the salons welcomed him as eagerly as the boulevards. He went everywhere, and everywhere he went he picked up gossip, nor did he ever reveal the source of his information to the outside world. Those who told him secrets knew that their names would never be revealed, and the least discreet of diplomatists made use of Blowitz with the utmost confidence. But while in one sense he was Parisian, in another sense Parisian he never was. His foreign blood and his English journal saved him from those accesses of political madness which were apt to excite his colleagues, and he was able to keep a cool head in the presence of the many affaires which have disturbed Paris during the last thirty years. His influence, then, is easily intelligible; he got authentic information, and he sifted it with sound judgment. His prophecies were so often fulfilled that he seemed infallible, and he very soon became an object of envy to all the journalists of Paris, French and English alike. His first great coup was made in 1875, when he sent a letter to "The Times," entitled "A French Scare," in which the warlike projects of Germany were
when he reached the Prussian capital, he found all the world resolved upon silence. "At Paris the fish talk," said he in his pleasant way; "at Berlin the parrots are dumb." But Blowitz was not without a plan. He had already got a young foreigner, a friend of his, appointed secretary to the representative of one of the Powers; and the young foreigner was pledged to reveal to him the secret proceedings of the Congress. It is not a pretty story; yet none can deny that Blowitz's exhortation to his young friend is a masterpiece of sophistry. "I do not ask you to divulge the smallest secret to me," said he, "or to commit the slightest indiscretion. You will simply keep me summarily informed of the things done. It will be for me to supplement your hints. You will never speak to me about things about to be done, for I will not give you a derogatory task." In these distinctions there is a nobility which the common man cannot understand. To seek a confidential post in order to betray official secrets-that, we gather, is not derogatory; it is derogatory to reveal what is about to be done; and surely it must take a peculiarly special correspondent to ap
preciate the difference. However, the young man's task, though not derogatory, was delicate. If the two accomplices were seen to converse, the game was up. But Blowitz never despaired. He stayed at the Kaiserhof; the young man dined there; and every day he put what secrets he had to betray in the lining of his hat; when he had dined he went off taking Blowitz's hat with him, and leaving his own in exchange. A dignified artifice, truly, and very well it succeeded, until the young man grew careless, fell under a just suspicion, and was summarily dismissed.
Again Blowitz was at his wits' end. The young man, whom he believed to have been marked out by a Supreme Power to assist him, was driven from Berlin. To whom should he turn? He was moping disconsolately in his hotel, when suddenly another instrument presented itself. This time it was a diplomatist, who whispered in his ear, "Walk out to-morrow between one and two in the Wilhelmstrasse, and I will see you." The next day the diplomatist met him and gave him the promise which made his heart palpitate with delight; "Come for the treaty the day before the closing," said this amiable plenipotentiary, "and you shall have it." The rest may be briefly told. On the day appointed the treaty was placed in Blowitz's hands. The French Ambassador gave him a sight of the preamble, and he committed it to memory; from the Belgian Minister he obtained a letter to the Inspector-General of Telegraphs at Brussels; and he left Berlin before the treaty was signed, apparently disconsolate at defeat. But the treaty was printed in "The Times" before it was signed at Berlin, and Blowitz had won the most splendid victory of his life.
It is a strange triumph, which the most of men would rather miss than win. To us, it seems nothing less than flat burglary. The whole business, of
suborning spies and picking up furtive messages, savors too much of the crowbar and jemmy; but it symbolizes accurately enough the talent of Blowitz.
The world, as he understood it, was simple enough. Kings and ambassadors were pledged to secrecy by an honorable oath. He was pledged, by whatever means he might, to surprise their secrets, and to discover what was in their minds. The proceeding would be intolerable were not the game played on either side with a callous effrontery. The diplomatists, who did not scruple to make use of Blowitz when it suited their policy, could hardly grumble if, to suit his own, he took away more secrets than they wished to part with. Blowitz could not grumble, if he were charged with performing a task unfit for a gentleman; but if the work is to be done, we cannot imagine any man better adapted by nature to carry it out than Blowitz. In the first place, he was gifted with a complete absence of humor, which not only permitted him to overlook inevitable rebuffs, but also to exaggerate the importance of his mission. He cherished a child-like confidence that a Supreme Power interested itself exclusively in the intrigues of Blowitz. He faced Bismarck as an equal, and declared that the Prussian Chancellor and the Pope were the only two men who had not disappointed him. In the second place, he was magnificently persistent. If one plan failed him, he was always ready with another. Long practice had given him the habit of ubiquity. He went everywhere; he knew everybody; and he never came away from a place or an interview empty-handed. Give him a hint, and he would confront a statesman with so fine an assumption of knowledge, that the statesman, believing that his interlocutor knew all, would withhold nothing from him. Then, again, he was absolutely fearless,-fearless even of
ridicule, which is enough to quell most men into a commonplace career; nor could his worst enemy charge him with disloyalty to his accomplices. He who entrusted Blowitz with a secret knew that the origin of that secret would never be revealed, so that, with “The Times" to aid them, diplomatists could fight one another with the weapon of publicity, and never let the world know who armed the journalist's hand.
Moreover, in all his intrigues Blowitz was served by an astounding memory. Once, when Delane regretted that a speech of Thiers could not appear in to-morrow's paper, the zealous correspondent went off straight to a telegraph-office. "There," to quote his own words, "I put in operation my mnemonic process. Alternately I shut my eyes to see and hear M. Thiers, and then opened them to write out the speech for the wire." In this way he reconstructed the whole oration, telegraphed it to London, and Delane, to his complete surprise, saw his wish realized in "The Times." So, too, Blowitz remembered the preamble of the Berlin Treaty from a single reading, and this talent alone was enough to place him head and shoulders above his rivals. It is not difficult, therefore, to explain the man's success. His popularity is as easily explicable. He had a trick of taking his readers into his confidence. He gave you the impression that not only was he himself eavesdropping behind the scenes, but that you were there also, listening to the voice of some distinguished diplomatist. "I knew M. Waddington well," says he, on one occasion. "M. Dufaure had deputed me to ask him whether he would agree to take the Foreign Office." It was an unimportant fact and casually introduced, but it was effective enough to throw a simpleton into the midst of a political intrigue. Now, this impression is very soothing to the untravelled reader, and Blow
itz's letters owed far more to a touch of pomposity than to their inherent wisdom. Of late years, no doubt, the diplomatist was mythical; it was more by habit than by conviction that Blowitz peppered his correspondence with august titles. But for all that, his popularity on this side the Channel steadily increased, while on the other side he was fast losing the confidence of the public. No one, who has lived, in Paris of late, could fail to be struck by the hatred of Blowitz cherished by the journalists who owed most to his example. The reason of this hatred is easy to understand. Blowitz, being naturalized a Frenchman, used the privilege of citizenship to criticise his adopted country with the utmost freedom. He detested the follies of nationalism, anti-Semitism, and the rest, with the fury of an instructed cosmopolitanism; and the French Press did not hesitate to assail with all the eloquence of their abuse the man whom, in 1875, they called Saviour of the Country. The method of attack was simple enough. The journalists began by describing the correspondent of "The Times" as M. de Blowitz (né Oppert), and they went on to call him a Jew, a traitor, and a spy. Blowitz's treatment of their assaults was characteristic. Like M. de Cassagnac, though for another reason, he declined to fight a duel, and there was no other method by which he might chastise his opponents. So he passed all attacks over with a haughty silence, or pilloried the worst of his enemies in "The Times" with a single sentence. Such a system best became a man who was grandiose before all things, who always presented himself to the world with a flourish of trumpets and a beating of drums, who was even used to signalize his arrival at Petites Dalles by hoisting the Union Jack upon the roof of his villa. But the system not merely became him; it was prudent as well. Even the journalists of France soon Macmillan's Magazine.
tired of abusing a colleague who never sought retaliation upon the field.
And now his work is done, what was it worth? Very little, indeed. He him. self did not rate it highly. "I would rather have written "The Battle of Dorking," he confesses, "than have published all the secret documents of the world." That is modest enough, and it puts the best face upon Blowitz's achievements. But there is a far worse side than futility to the work of an over-zealous correspondent. Blowitz liked to think himself an ambassador rather than a journalist, and in so thinking he set an ominously bad example. There is nothing more dangerous to a State than a diplomatist without responsibility, who, indeed, is more highly rewarded in proportion to his indiscretion. A journalist may say what he chooses without fear of impeachment. The heaviest disaster that can fall upon him is the loss of his salary; and nothing is more foolish than that unqualified persons should go up and down the world, affecting to govern when they know nothing of the art of government. At no time in our history has the Press arrogated more influence to itself than at present, and though it is still over sanguine, the influence which it does possess is wholly bad. We have had enough of the cry "Government by journalism," yet we can never hear it without remembering how much Blowitz did to give it volume. It is not of itself a noble action, to print by trickery a document which the rulers of Europe are unanimous in desiring to withhold: there is an obvious indignity in bribed clerks and changed hats; and the kindest thing we can say of Blowitz's triumphs is that they would have been better unachieved. In other words, while he did a bad thing, he did it very well; and though we part from him without rancor, we fervently hope that we shall not look upon his like again.
A Special Correspondent.
THE BALLAD OF LONDON RIVER.
From the Cotswolds, from the Chilterns, from your fountains and your springs,
Flow down, O London river, to the seagull's silver wings:
Isis or Ock or Thame,
Forget your olden name,
And the lilies and the willows and the weirs from which you came.
Forego your crystal shallows and your limpid lucid wave,
Where the swallows dart and glisten, where the purple blooms are brave, For the city's dust and din,
For the city's slime and sin,
For the toil and sweat of Englishmen with all the world to win.
The stately towers and turrets are the children of a day:
They dared your deeps in vain,
The Roman and the Norman,-they are past, but you remain.
Your Water-Gate stands open o'er your turbid tide's unrest,
Till the tattered sails are furl'd
In the avenue of Empire, in the highway of the world.
The argosies of Egypt, the golden fleets of Ind,
In streaming flocks and coveys they beat adown the wind:
They hover to your doors,
They lay their lordly merchandise on your insatiate shores.
The gallant boy you beckon: to his eager eyes a-gleam
His valiant hopes inspire,
And he woos you for the pathway to his utmost heart's desire.
You draw him to his destiny, you lure him to his fate:
With tales of old adventure his soul you subjugate,
With sounds of quay and creek,
And the ripple grey and sleek,
And the rough winds in the ratlins where they pipe their summons bleak.