Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg}, July 22, 1914.
D. 1:46 P.M.
Tel. (No. 168.) R. 3:22 P.M.
Servian Minister told me yesterday that he regarded present crisis as most dangerous one through which Servia had passed during the last two years. After repeating to me all that his Government had done to show their readiness to meet any legitimate demands that Austria might address to them, he said that Count Tisza and Count Forgach were inflaming Austrian public opinion so as to force hands of aged Emperor. On my remarking that if Servia adhered to her present correct attitude it would be impossible for Austria to find a pretext for attacking her, Minister replied that she would create some incident that would furnish her with it.
I repeated above to President of the Republic, whom I saw immediately afterwards, and also mentioned what you had said in your telegram No. 38 of 20th July.(1) His Excellency expressed opinion that a conversation a deux between Austria and Russia would be very dangerous at present moment, and seemed favourable to moderating counsels by France and England at Vienna.
I also spoke to Minister for Foreign Affairs, whom I met later in the day. His Excellency said that if Austria could prove plot had been hatched in Servia there was no objection to her asking Servian Government to institute judicial enquiry, and this, he believed, Servia was ready to do. He thought, however, it would be advisable for three Governments to counsel moderation at Vienna. This should be done in friendliest manner, and should not tale the form of any collective action. He begged me to telegraph to you in this sense, and said he would speak to the President of the Republic to-day on the subject.(2)
Any counsel to Vienna will be a very delicate matter, and in any case I presume we should wait to know what the Austrian Government are going to say at Belgrade. — G. R. C.
I very much doubt the wisdom of our making any representations at Vienna. It is for the German Government to do this. — E.A.C.
I understand that the Secretary of State intends to see Count Mensdorff. This would be all to the good, but I would deprecate any representations or advice by the three Powers at Vienna. I feel sure that such action would be resented and would do harm. — A.N.
I am going to see Count Mesndorff to-morrow. (3) — E.G. July 22, 1914
(1) No. 67
(2) See Nos. 84, 90 and F No. 22.
(3) See No. 86.<p
At last the note is ready. It is very long, and begins by demanding from the Serbian King a declaration in set terms denouncing all Greater Serbia agitations, to be published without delay in the official organ, like the verdict in the Press at the close of a libel action. Then follow ten demands, five of them directed against the agitation: suppression of all propaganda in the Press and associations; dissolution of the Narodna Obrana; supervision of instruction in schools; dismissal of all officers and officials compromised—their names to be communicated from Vienna; and the participation of the Imperial and Royal Governments in the investigation. Apparently general proscription is still possible, as enacted by Austria and Prussia in concert a hundred years ago in the Karlsbad Decrees, to prevent any union of German races and German states. Then come the points relating to the murder, and the inquiry, Austrian officials participating.
These are the principal points of the Ultimatum. Before it was despatched, Count Forgatch hurriedly took a pencil and made it a little more venomous still. State institutions, opinions, sentiments, are summoned in peremptory fashion to appear before a Court which is judge in its own cause, forty-eight hours being allowed for unconditional acceptance. The note is to be delivered at Belgrade at such a moment that when its contents are telegraphed to Petersburg, the French President, who is just finishing his visit there, will no longer be present to hear them. The time-table is worked out. At the last moment Jagow learns that Poincare is not leaving Petersburg in the afternoon, but only in the evening. Berchtold accordingly puts off the delivery of the note by one hour. So the two work, one slender shoulder against the other; and the German occupies himself with the hour of presentation of a note, the contents of which he does not know, but for which he has promised his nation’s support. The two are united by the truly statesmanlike thought that the French and Russians must not be allowed to discuss it together; the Frenchman must be on the high seas when he gets the message. Count Berchtold’s concoction is to be acid, with an additional relish of unexpectedness : a note a la surprise. He knows that this omelette, his masterpiece, means an ultimatum to Europe. His old Emperor, too, sees clearly. After reading the ultimatum, he says to Bilinski: ”Russia cannot accept this. . . . It is no use shutting one’s eyes; this means a big war!”
Emil Ludwig, July ’14
The New York Tribune
Escorted by the Guard Cossacks, whose scarlet tunics flamed in the sunshine, our carriages passed along the Neva at a smart trot.
A few days ago, when I was settling with Sazonov the final details of the President’s visit he had said to me with a smile:
"The Guard Cossacks have been told off to escort the President. You see what a fine figure they’ll cut! They’re splendid fellows, fearful fellows. Besides they’re dressed in red. I rather think Monsieur Viviani does not dislike that colour."
I had replied
"No, he doesn’t dislike it but his artistic eye doesn’t enjoy it thoroughly except when it’s next to white and blue."
In their scarlet tunics these long-haired, bearded and bristly Cossacks are certainly a formidable sight. When our carriages disappeared with them through the gateway of the fortress a spectator with a turn for irony, or a lover of historical antitheses. might well have asked whether it was not to the State Prison that they were conducting these two certificated and avowed "revolutionaries," Poincaré and Viviani, not to mention myself, their accomplice. The moral contradiction in terms, the tacit paradox in the background of the Franco-Russian Alliance, has never struck me more forcibly.
At three o’clock the President received the deputations of the French colonies in St. Petersburg and throughout Russia. Some of them had come from Moscow, Kharkov, Odessa, Kiev, Rostov, Tiflis. In presenting them to Poincaré 1 could say with perfect sincerity:
"Their eagerness to come and greet you in no way surprises me. Every day I see practical proofs of the fervent and pious love of the French colonies in Russia for their distant homeland. In no province of our old France, Monsieur le Président, will you find better Frenchmen than those here before you."
Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs
Mme. Henriette Caillaux, wife of the Finance Minister (widely touted to be the next Prime Minister), had pumped six bullets into the body of France’s most powerful journalist, the editor in chief of Le Figaro, Gaston Calmette. That had been back in March. But now, in mid-July, fireworks between prosecutor and defense counsel lit up the erotic glamor behind this charismatic homicide. Much of the trial revolved around the love letters Caillaux had written Henriette during the extramarital affair that preceded their wedding-letters whose imminent publication in Le Figaro had driven Mme. Caillaux to murder.
The shots at Sarajevo faded rapidly as those from the Figaro office resounded once more in newspaper columns. This was the stuff of prime gossip, made even tangier by a courtroom duel. It enlivened millions of French vacations. Certainly it piqued President Poincare on his summer cruise. About to land in St. Petersburg, he asked to be apprised of every moist detail by cable.
Frederick Morton, Thunder at Twilight, ch. 32