Whether he [President Wilson] gave out the statement as to the break too early, and without the consent of England and France, of course I don’t know. Quite like him to do it if he thought the thing had hung long enough, and that Italy was too damn predatory. And she does seem to be. The New Idea seems to have less real hold in Italy—at least among the governing class—than in any other European country. Her present position will postpone peace. This will cause us trouble over the extra session of Congress for our appropriations will run out. And perhaps in England it may give a chance for labor troubles to rise. It will postpone the return of good times to this country. But ultimately Italy will have to come through. If economic pressure were put upon her she would be compelled to yield at once, for she depends on England and ourselves for all the coal she uses, and on us chiefly for her wheat. Of course this form of coercion will not be resorted to. She might think more kindly if she were given an extended credit, say of two hundred million dollars. But the people being aroused now over what they think is a matter of principle—loyalty to their compatriots in Fiume—they may not be able to compromise. Lord Reading rather fears that this is the situation and that it might have been avoided if the President had not issued his statement when he did. However, I have no doubt that the President will have his way. He nearly always does. Surely the God that once was the Kaiser’s is now his.
To be the First President of the League of Nations is to be the crowning glory of his life. I believe in the League—as an effort. It will not cure, but it is a serious effort to get at the disease. It is a hopeful effort, too, for it makes moral standards, standards of conduct between nations which will bring conventional pressure to bear on the side of peace, to offset the old convention of rushing into war to satisfy hurt feelings. Sooner or later there will come disarmament—the pistol will be taken away and the streets will be safer.
The boy is having a tough time in his oil work. It is so dirty! But I hope he sticks out until he proves himself. I hear that the Dutch Shell people have bought out Cowdray in Mexico, and now are trying to get Doheny’s lands. They bestride the earth, and as soon as their activities are known generally, this country will look upon the Standard Oil as the American champion in a big international fight.
... Well, dear old chap, I know that I could add nothing to your cure if I were there but I am not content to be so far away from you. ... F. K. L.
Washington, May 20, 1919