50. Ventures in Diplomacy

Andrew Scott cast about in his mind for some useful occupation for his grandson Francis MacNutt that might be fascinating enough to attract his interest and hold it.  Banking in Richmond would not do at all; Francis already had outgrown Richmond at twenty-two.  The diplomatic service!  Exactly the right idea, he thought; the lad had savoire faire and yearning for the great world.  Andrew Scott knew important men in politics who liked and respected him.  He would see.

Grover Cleveland had been elected President in 1884, and Andrew Scott was a good Democrat.  He wrote his grandson in Mexico that he might be able to help him get a secretaryship in some legation or consulate.  Francis already had planned to meet Father Vaughan in New Orleans soon and in Europe later; a post in the diplomatic service might fit in well with his general plans.  After a final sight-seeing trip in Mexico, he went on to New Orleans and the Cotton States Exposition, and more comradeship with Father Vaughan.

By the time he arrived in Richmond his grandfather had secured for him the promise of a secretaryship to the newly-appointed Minister to Sweden.  The thought of Scandinavia chilled him.  He preferred a Mediterranean country, with warmth and color.  But he visited the Minister to please his grandfather, and a half-hour interview convinced him the Minister would not do at all.

In the autumn of 1885 Andrew Scott accompanied Francis to Washington and introduced him to Senator Vorhees of Indiana, who took him one morning to see President Cleveland.  We do not know what Cleveland thought of Francis, but this is what Francis wrote of Cleveland: "He produced no impression whatever on me, and there was nothing to suggest to me that I was in the presence of the chief of a great nation."

Senator Vorhees told Francis quite frankly it would be wasted effort to try to get an appointment for one of his immature years and inexperience; there were ten applicants for every job.  Andrew Scott had to swallow his disappointment; perhaps it was not so easy for him as for Francis, who already had other plans.

Parting from his grandfather, he went to Baltimore to rejoin Father Vaughan, who was staying in the Archbishop's house.  There he met Archbishop Gibbons, later to become a Cardinal, who invited him several times to dinner.  Francis had resolved to go to Madrid to continue with his work on the Cortes letters, while Father Vaughan was bound

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for the Dominican Convent of Notre Dame de Prouille, near Fanjeaux in France, and also near Toulouse and Carcassone.  There he was to spend some time with his spiritual director, Père Doussot, who was acting as chaplain for the nuns of the community.

On his way to Spain Francis stopped in London for a while, and was kindly received several times by Cardinal Manning.  When he finally left he carried a number of useful letters of introduction, including a very special one from the Cardinal, addressed to the Catholic hierarchy and asking for favors and assistance as needed.

One afternoon at tea at the American Legation in Madrid he met a famous man of the Church: the Nuncio and Archbishop -- later Cardinal -- Rampolla.  With him was his secretary, Monsignor della Chiesa, who in later years was to become Pope Benedict XV.  He was constantly meeting dignitaries who were helpful to him.  One of them was Señor Zarco del Valle, then librarian at the royal palace, who assigned him an alcove in the library for use in his Cortes researches.

After a period of these endeavors Francis toured the principal cities of Spain, and then made his way to the Convent of Notre Dame de Prouille to rejoin Father Vaughan.  He was given a room in the presbytery next that of his friend, and the two proceeded in preparation for the Work of Expiation.  On a low hill in a nearby vineyard was a small, unused tool-house of one room that Father Vaughan had made into an oratory.  The two painted Latin inscriptions on the walls, and on brackets they placed plaster images of the saints chosen as patrons and protectors of their work.  The little building they called l'Hermitage de St. Jeremie.

A pit four feet deep had been dug in front of the entrance at the direction of Father Vaughan, and in this the two friends made a penitential practice of sitting, after the manner of Jeremiah, and reciting the lamentations of the prophet.  These devotional rites excited curiosity; the neighboring clergy did not much care for novelties, and wondered whether heresy might be afoot.  Whatever conclusions may have been reached about the pit-sitters by those who visited them, nothing was done to interfere with them.

Presently Father Vaughan proposed a journey, and the two made a long, rambling trip with neither scrip nor purse that took them as far as Barcelona.  In these days we would call it hitch-hiking.  After their return, Père Doussot proposed a stay at a monastery in the Pyrenees for Francis; we do not know just why, unless for punishment, or to separate him from his companion.  It proved a cheerless place, and Francis was allowed to go to another, which was just as austere.  He was happy when a letter arrived from Cardinal Manning, summoning him to Lon-

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don to assist in the purchase of a house for the Work of Expiation.

The desired house at 28 Beaufort Street was owned by Lord Cadogan, a staunch Protestant, who it was presumed would not allow it to be sold for Catholic purposes.  Therefore Francis was delegated, in the guise of an ordinary American, to buy the house.  This done, Father Kenelm, his brother, Father John, and Francis moved into the place.  Their only helper was a country boy of eighteen.  The desire for penitential living was realized here; Francis later wrote that the food was plain and ill-prepared, and the house was cold and dirty.

Father Kenelm covered the walls with primitive religious paintings he had gathered in Latin America: they represented "naiveté, terror, and frivolity."  There were scenes of "painfully realistic crucifixions, flagellations and martyrdoms, also startling representations of the sufferings of purgatory and the tortures of hell.  Alongside these were doll-faced madonnas, in crinolines, flowered silks . . . . holding in one hand a dainty lace handkerchief and in the other a Child Jesus. . . . Some of these pictures fell under canonical censures and would not be tolerated in any church, not even in Latin America, so it may be imagined the impression these unfamiliar works of debased, baroque art produced upon English beholders."

Among the relics for veneration were the bones of the benediction fingers of the Blessed Julian Lazarte, which had been presented to Father Kenelm by a bishop in Latin American after he had discovered the skeleton in some walled-up enclosure.

Efforts to enlist other priests in the Work of Expiation did not succeed.  The young men who offered themselves were found not suitable.  After a time Cardinal Manning tactfully closed the house for alterations and brought the Work of Expiation to an end.

Francis then was invited, in the spring of 1887, to become a member of the Cardinal's household and for some time he remained, doing researches in the libraries and going on occasional journeys for His Eminence.  Cardinal Manning sometimes read aloud to him, and engaged him in discussions of literature.  Francis introduced him to Poe by reciting "The Raven"; afterward they read a great deal of Poe together.  When the great man criticized the work of Elizabethan and Restoration dramatists as wholly bad and spoke of the coarseness of Shakespeare, the youngster audaciously retorted: "And how about the Bible?"  The Cardinal shook a finger and said: "Now I have discovered your vocation; you are destined to be the Devil's Advocate."  Evidently Francis was regarded as a good companion, as the Cardinal often had him in his carriage on drives.

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Callers included Anglican clergymen presumed to be heading toward Rome; these the Cardinal received, but "never at table."  A young rector with a correct Oxford manner who came frequently was an object of special interest to Father Kenelm, who now was living in the Cardinal's house.  Not over-strong in theology, "Father Kenelm's religion was all fire and flame from the heart."  Fiery exhortations did not please the rector so much as quiet talks with the Cardinal, and the rector came less frequently.  We read in the MacNutt autobiography:

After an interval he reappeared, but the Cardinal did not see him.  As he was descending the stairs, he met Father Kenelm, who stopped him and asked him point-blank what was the obstacle that still stood in his way.  Embarrassed by this direct question, fired at him like a pistol-shot, and with me, a stranger, standing by, the clergyman murmured something vague about not being willing to take such a step as long as his mother lived, as it would give her such pain.  Something, call it what one will, second sight, perhaps, flashed a message to Father Kenelm.  With a look on his face I shall never forget and which visibly startled the clergyman, he exclaimed: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  You make your mother the obstacle to your conversion and she will be taken from out your path."  Within ten days we read of the lady's sudden death.
Whether this striking incident aided Father Kenelm in completing the rector's conversion is not stated.

Cardinal Manning thought it would be well for Francis, after a further period of pleasant jaunts and experiences, to attend the Accademia Ecclesiastica in Rome, for studies leading to the priesthood.  The final decision rested with Pope Leo XIII.  Only two Americans had been admitted before that time.  Francis went to Rome and met Monsignor Satolli, president of the Accademia, who one evening took him to see the Pope.

After waiting alone for half an hour in a dim antechamber he was admitted, to find the Pope seated in a chair, with Monsignor Satolli standing beside him.  Francis knelt at the other side, and while His Holiness was not speaking in Italian with the Monsignor, he asked questions in French of the applicant.  On reaching a favorable decision the Pope placed a hand on the young man's shoulder, looked at him directly in the face, and told him he must first learn Italian; that on his next visit to the Vatican he must be able to speak in this language.  "Be obedient to your president and study hard.  We shall see."

For two years Francis continued his studies in the Italian language and literature, philosophy, and theology, not working as hard as he should, he afterward confessed.  His best friend in the Accademia was

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another student, Monsignor Merry del Val.  He continued making acquaintances with the great men of the Church, and exploring the sacred buildings and the lore that pertained to them.  Occasionally he had a kindly word from Leo XIII.

In the summer after he entered he made a vacation trip through Russia and Poland.  Russian soldiers in Poland previously had fired a Catholic church full of people and had shot down those trying to escape.  No one known to be connected with the Church was allowed to cross any frontier into Russia, and mail was censored.

In order to make the trip, Francis obtained a passport and visas as an American student, without reference to his studies for the priesthood.  He did a leisurely tour through the most interesting cities and regions in Russia, and went from St. Petersburg through Poland.  Then he returned safely to Rome in October.

Later it became known that some confidential messenger had brought to St. Petersburg from Leo XIII an autographed letter for the Czar telling of the massacre, supplemented by documentary proofs.  The Czar had been kept in ignorance of the persecutions by bureaucrats, and he immediately caused consternation by punishing the guilty.  An agent who had deceived him committed suicide rather than face an inquiry.

Francis was ever afterward suspected by Russian diplomats of having been the carrier of the Pope's letter to the Czar.  His autobiography is reticent on this point.  It doesn't say yes and it doesn't say no.  We cannot escape the feeling that Francis was in fact the Pope's messenger, and that he gave a pledge of eternal secrecy before undertaking the important mission.

At the end of his second year in the Accademia he became certain once more he had no vocation for the priesthood, and believed it would be dishonest to continue.  Monsignor Satolli was chagrined, and directed him to report to Leo XIII.  The Pope listened to him gravely, and then agreed it was best for him to leave the Accademia.  It may be regarded as an evidence of consideration that Leo XIII ordered him to carry messages to Paris and Brussels, and to leave immediately on the errand.  Thus Francis was sent away, but with a mark of favor.  It was a serious matter for him to deny vocation -- it wasn't done -- and he had to be dismissed from Rome on the spot, but the Pope's kindly way of mitigating the sting impressed Monsignor Satolli and all the rest.

On his return to London Francis had to explain his defection to his sponsor, Cardinal Manning.  He didn't anticipate severe censure, and he didn't receive a scolding.  The Cardinal said: "I never expected you to

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become a priest at all."  "Then why did you encourage me?" "Well dear boy" -- and the Cardinal went on to explain he had wished to keep Francis out of worse hands; away from Kenelm Vaughan, perhaps.  The time in Rome hadn't been wasted, and so they continued with their discussion.  Finally: "And now, Francis, I will read you 'The Bells.'"

Francis never again was to see Cardinal Manning, whose long life was soon to end.  It was a singular friendship the young man was permitted to enjoy with the venerable prelate, who must have found pleasure in the vital youth of his protegé'.

On the homeward trip to Indiana the wanderer dallied for a few weeks in the elite society of Lenox, Massachusetts.  It would appear from his own account that all his life he divided his time between two major interests -- the Church and aristocratic international society.  Whether he planned it that way or not we do not know, but he achieved a great deal of success in both spheres by setting his engaging personality at the task of cultivating persons older than himself.  He was undoubtedly sincere in his liking for personages like the Abbé Fischer and Cardinals Manning and Gibbons, and in his veneration for Leo XIII.   Elderly men and women are warmed by the devoted attentions of keenly intelligent young people: the young usually are prone to give scant attention to the old.  So the great churchmen rewarded Francis, as one promising in the faith, with the wealth of their kindness and with golden opportunities.  Society dowagers, gratified in their own way by his attentions, opened innumerable doors to him.

Back in Richmond again, he found his grandfather living contentedly in a home reorganized by the inclusion of the family of his younger son Augustus.  New grandchildren had come along, one of them named for him.  But Francis was not pleased with the alterations that had followed his grandmother's death.

"For the first time," he wrote in his autobiography, "now that it was absent, I realized what a forceful, all-pervading personality my grandmother's had been.  The house without her was, for me, like an empty picture frame or a broken mirror. . . . I visited her grave, next to my mother's and father's, and sat there long, reflecting on those ended lives and on my past, feeling singularly near in spirit to that stormswept, passionate soul which in life I had never understood, though in our way we had loved each other very dearly."

In the autumn a Plenary Council of American Bishops was held in Baltimore, presided over by Archbishop Satolli, head of the Accademia Ecclesiastica when Francis had so recently been dismissed.  Francis was present during the closing days; he called at Cardinal Gibbons' house,

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and was invited to the grand reception and dinner that closed the sessions.

Tables were arranged in the form of a great horseshoe, with the chief dignitaries at the center and head.  Inside the horseshoe were other tables for lesser guests; as one of these, Francis found himself near the head.  President Benjamin Harrison and Secretary of State James G. Blaine were at the dinner; the former was to respond to a toast from Cardinal Gibbons, and Mr. Blaine was to reply to a toast by Archbishop Satolli, now the Papal Legate.

Learning he was to answer an address to be delivered in Latin, Secretary Blaine confided uneasily to Cardinal Gibbons he would be at a loss what to say.  Observing the presence of Francis, the Cardinal gave him a sign to approach, while telling Mr. Blaine this young man could give him a running translation of the Archbishop's Latin address.  The Secretary welcomed the aid gladly, and made room beside him.  As the Latin speech flowed on, a smoothly rapid translation was given him in a low voice.  Francis knew his Latin, and he was entirely familiar with the Archbishop's manner of delivery.

The outcome was that Secretary Blaine warmly invited Francis to his office, and then to his home, in Washington.  When he found the young man was versed in several modern languages as well as in Latin, he suggested a post in the diplomatic service.  How would he like Brazil?  Francis was not very sure he would, and the subject was dropped.

Not a great while later, Mr. Blaine sent word of his appointment as secretary to the Minister to Turkey, Solomon Hirsch, of Oregon.  This was accepted with gratitude.  At last he was to be in the diplomatic service and his grandfather's ambition for him was to be realized.  The experience in the legation in Constantinople went along comfortably with a chain of social activities that made life agreeably exciting.  He met and captivated the Sultan, Abdul Hamid.  Then in the course of time the young secretary was transferred to the American legation in Madrid, after a blameless course in helping Protestant missionaries straighten out their troubles in Turkey.

The year was 1892 and Spain was celebrating the 400th anniversary of the sailing of Columbus for America.  Our Minister had recently been recalled, and as head of mission and chargé d'affaires Francis was called upon to represent his country at celebrations and festivities.  He felt somewhat out of place, believing his country should have been represented by a man of highest rank, rather than by a young secretary whose lack of seniority placed him at the foot of the diplomatic line.  Nevertheless he enjoyed all the spectacles and the people he met.
 

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Within a short space three important things happened.  A new Minister came to Madrid, Grover Cleveland was elected President again over Harrison, and Francis involuntarily got into difficulties.  When the new Minister went away for a while on leave, he sent Francis a voluminous dispatch with instructions to look up the details of an issue that had long been pending between the American and Spanish governments.

A considerable time before this, a dispute had risen between Spain and Germany over the possession of the Caroline Islands.  Prince Bismarck had submitted the matter for arbitration to Leo XIII, who had awarded the islands to Spain.  When Spain took them over, a native insurrection occurred; the Spaniards blamed American missionaries in the islands for exciting it.  The insurrection was put down, property of the missionaries was destroyed, and the missionaries were deported to a distant Pacific island.

The United States government demanded of Spain that the missionaries be permitted to return to their labors, and that they be indemnified for their losses.  Spain had expressed willingness to pay indemnities, but was entirely unwilling to allow the Protestant missionaries to come back under any circumstances.

This is what Francis found on investigating; he recommended to his Minister that the Spanish terms be accepted.  Because the fact of his adherence to the Catholic Church was well known, Francis was immediately suspected of bias to the disadvantage of his own country and people, and in favor of Catholic Spain.  Despite the fact that the Spanish terms were ultimately accepted, in accord with his recommendations, Francis long suffered from blame.  The animus against him lasted into the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, who thought Francis had put his country into a difficult position, from which it had been impossible to emerge with satisfaction.

The Minister who had resented his secretary's recommendation, set about trying to get the issue of the missionaries adjusted in accord with the State Department's desire, and failed.  Grover Cleveland had again been elected President in 1892; before Harrison's term expired Francis was ordered in February 1893, by cable from the State Department, to report in Paris for duty in connection with the approaching Bering Sea arbitration conference between the United States and Great Britain.  Not until thirteen years later did he learn that the Minister had written to Washington that Francis had refused to obey instructions, and that his loyalty was to be doubted.

But Francis knew anyway that his work in Madrid was finished, for he was out of favor, and an incoming President would in any case make

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many replacements.  In May he received notice from Washington of his dismissal for cause, but even earlier than that the Minister in Madrid had lost his post.

At loose ends again, Francis wandered from Paris to Munich, and then to Brixen in the Austrian Tyrol for a visit with friends of long standing: Baron and Baroness Schönberg.  Thence back to Indiana, by way of Washington, where he collected the last of his salary.  His grandfather urged him to attend the Columbian Exposition in Chicago; after ten days of that he went on to Bar Harbor in Maine, a place where summer society always pleased him.  Washington called him next: the only large city in the country where he found the social atmosphere wholly congenial.  He liked his club, the Metropolitan, and he felt a natural affiliation with the Virginians he knew there.

The spring of 1894 found him dissatisfied.  What was he to do with his life?  The Orient interested him, and presently he began a trip that took him round the world.  When Francis reached Port Said, he took a steamer to Jaffa.  Christmas was approaching, and he resolved to spend it in the Holy Land.  On Christmas eve he drove from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in crisp, cold air under the stars, and attended three Masses.  In the days following he visited the Jordan, the Dead Sea, the site of Jericho, and each evening he climbed the Mount of Olives to await the sunset and the shadows.

Now it was the beginning of 1895, and Francis went to Cairo to find a kind of society life that he enjoyed.  He established contact with the American Consul General, Frederick Penfield, and met the Khedive and the Sirdar, then Sir Herbert Kitchener, and Lady Cromer.  On the 18th of March he received a cablegram from home: his grandfather had died the day before.  He sailed at once, and on arriving at Richmond he found Andrew Scott had provided well for him in his will; that the last word on his lips had been the wanderer's name.

Francis found also that his brother Albert was in a military hospital in hopeless condition; he had suffered sunstroke while doing some hard work at an Army post in the Southwest, and paralysis had followed.  The grandfather had provided equally in his will for Albert and Francis.  The latter's autobiography gives more than a hint that Albert was viewed dimly by his brother.  For one thing, he had married a girl whose father's fortunes had declined, and though an Army officer, he had not the plumage of his brother.

In September Francis sailed again, and in Paris he saw Jim, the only remaining friend of his early youth, who was far gone from a complication of wasting diseases resulting from alcoholic excesses, and who was

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soon to die.  Then on to Schloss Pallaus in the Tyrol for a visit with Baron Schönberg and his American-born Baroness; thence to Rome to renew acquaintance, and then to Cairo again.  During this winter season in Egypt he met the family of Robert Hall McCormick of Chicago, and through the pleasant months of spring in 1896 he lingered on, enjoying museums and reading Egyptian history.

In this period he received news that he had been appointed a Chamberlain at the Papal court.  The appointment did not call for immediate attendance, but for the satisfaction of preliminary requirements.  Two years later he was to enter into active performance of duties at the Vatican.  In June he departed for America by way of Venice and London.

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