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Title: Spies and Secret Service
       The story of espionage, its main systems and chief exponents

Author: Hamil Grant

Release Date: April 29, 2015 [EBook #48823]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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From an engraving after Girardet









The Ethos of the Spy17
The Pragmatical Age—Spies always with us—Prehistoric Ages—Antiquity—Jurists and Spying—Morin's Views—Napoleon and Spies—Modern Spy's Characteristics—The Aristocrat as Spy—Teutons inferior to Latins—Women as Spies—The Salic Law—Mentality of Efficient Spy—Degeneracy of Spy—Good Education and Presence essential—Audacious rather than Courageous—Napoleon's Leniency towards Spies  
The Spy through the Ages29
  Spies and the Bible—The Jew as Spy—Polyænus and his Work—Mithridates his own Spy—Frontinus and Stratagems—Ruses of Lelius—Tarquin's Son—Military "Psychologising"—Alexander's Black Cabinet—Histiæus and Ionia—Carrier-Pigeons used by Ancients—Hannibal and his Spies—Cæsar's Use of Spies—Rome and Church Spies—Continental School Spies—Frederick the Great real Founder of Modern Espionage—His Ambition for Prussia—Napoleon and Spies  
Le Caron39
  Piggott and Le Caron—How the Major adopted his Alias—Birth and Bringing-up—Puritanical Surroundings—Works in Paris—Volunteers in American Civil War—His Religion—Fenian Movement—Employed by British Government to spy on Fenians—Joins Irish Republican Army as Organiser—An Impromptu Speech—Fenian [8]Movement's Growth—General O'Neill's invasion of Canada—A Generous Cheque from Ottawa—The Clan-na-gael Movement—Le Caron an Active Spirit—The Irish World—Influence of the Clan—A Russo-Irish Alliance—Le Caron and Parnell—The Major's real Status—How he won his quasi-Heroic Reputation  
  Schulmeister a Master Spy—His Value to Napoleon—A Claimant to Lofty Origin—Birth and Early Life—Smuggling as a Trade—Meets Savary—His Capture of Duc d'Enghien—Is presented to Napoleon—His Rôle in Austerlitz Campaign—Becomes Mack's Confidant—Supplies False Information to the Austrian—Personal Description of the Spy—The Capitulation of Ulm—His Advice to the Allies—Austerlitz—His Political Sense—His Social Ambition—Employed at Congress of Erfurt—Spies on Emperor Alexander, Queen Louise and Goethe—His Request to General Lasalle—The Legion of Honour—Retires from Paris—Fortunes crippled—Poverty in Old Age—Meets Napoleon III.—Death  
Nathan Hale79
  Nathan Hale's Fanaticism—Compared with André—Puritanism of Hale's Family and Education—At Yale University—His Splendid Appearance—A Schoolmaster—Battle of Lexington—Hale wins a Captaincy—The Military Situation—Hale volunteers as Spy on British—He justifies his Action—Enters British Lines in Disguise—Mission serves little Purpose—A Fatal Rencontre—Is captured by the British—Sentenced to Death by Howe—His Last Words  
Mack and the Molly Maguires90
  M'Parlan a North-of-Ireland Man—The Rush to Pennsylvania Coal-fields—The Irish Adventurers—Growth [9]of New Ireland—Erin a Land of Political Unrest—A Nursery of Political Agitation—The Four Provinces—Irish Hatred of Traitors—The "Molly Maguire" Dispatch—Frequency of Murders—Franklin Goven intervenes—Mack enters the Field of Investigation—His Qualifications for the Business—Picking up the Lines—A Narrow Shave—Becomes an accepted Molly—His Strenuous Task—Becomes a Suspect—Is sentenced to Death—Eludes his appointed Slayers—Whisky saves him—His Escape from the Coal Zones  
Major André104
  Mongrel Breed of Spy—Marcus Crassus and his Spies—Birth of André—Geneva University—His Precociousness in Love Affairs—Buys a Commission in the Royal Fusiliers—Learns his Trade in Berlin—His Charming Personality—Leaves for Quebec via Philadelphia—Captured after Lexington—His Value to Howe—Promotion—Mr W. Seargent's Picture of André—Relations with Benedict Arnold—His Correspondence with the American Traitor—Importance of West Point—André's Bright Hopes—Interview with Arnold—His Adventures in Hostile Lines—Capture by an American Farmer—Bribery of no Avail—Colonel Jameson's Mistake—André's Letter to General Washington—What Tallmadge thought—Is sentenced by Court Martial—His Execution at Tappan—A Last Request  
British Secret Service123
  Little or no Espionage in Britain—Beginnings of Secret Service—Henry VII. and the Monastic Estates—The Intelligencer in Elizabeth's Time—Statesmen employ his Services—Some Expensive Intelligencers—Cromwell well served by Spies—Charles II. and Duchess of Portsmouth—Many German Spies in Georgian Times—Pitt organises Foreign Spy System—Fox and the First Consul—Canning's famous Tilsit Coup—Pre-Union [10]Espionage in Ireland—Le Caron's Indictment of British Paymasters—The Trench-Brandon Trial at Leipsic—Germany's Fear of Foreign Spies—Her Traitors seek English Gold—The Cost of Espionage to England, France, Germany and Russia—Home Office Alertness in August 1914—Measures of Counter-Espionage  
French Secret Service147
  Frenchmen Unwilling Spies—Paris Centre of vast Police Network of Spies—Colonel Henry's Fate—The Prevalence of the Dossier—Fame and the Dossier—The Agent Provocateur—Divisions of French Secret Service—Esterhazy's Seventeen Poursuivants—M. Bertillon's Bureau—Lower Orders of Spies—Forced Espionage—Newspaper and Bankers' Spies—The French War Office well informed—Renan's Views  
German Secret Service161
  Germans are Natural Spies—The Principles of Frederick the Great—Matinées du Roi de Prusse—Royal Views on War, Religion, Policy, Justice—Essential Militarism of Social Germany—Price Collier's Opinion—Stieber the Organiser of German Espionage—His Origin, Character, Unscrupulousness—Employed by his Sovereign—His Importance in Official Circles—His Activity in all Classes of Society—His Decorations of Honour—Bismarck meets a Kindred Soul—Stieber "fixes" Bohemia—Downfall of Austria at Sadowa—Stieber promoted  
German Secret Servicecontinued179
  Bismarck's Faith in Stieber—Red Eagle for the Sleuth—Stieber's Preparation to invade France—His Requisitions of Female Agents—An Attempted Assassination—Bismarck's Far-sightedness—Stieber precedes the Army [11]of 1870—His Duties in the Field—A Pen Picture of De Gallifet—Stieber's Ferocity and Boastfulness—The Reptile Press—Bismarck and the Sleuth—Shooting a Bridegroom—German Gold wins Friends—Importance of Stieber in Berlin—His Wealth and Social Pretensions—Fears the Theatre and Literature—Meeting with Mommsen—Berlin a new Urbs Sacra  
German Secret Servicecontinued195
  German Strategic Railways—Their Military Personnel and Character—Stieber's Railway Spies in France—His Foreign Agents of Domestic Unrest—England also "covered"—Stieberism and the Dreyfus Case—Economic Unrest and Berlin Gold—An Appeal to Irishmen—The Mesnard Pamphlet—Who financed the Suffragettes? (Note)—Death of Stieber—His Decorations of Honour—German Lecturers and Teutonic Ambitions—Jewish Eugenics copied—Prussia's National Missionaries—Creation of "Sympathetic" Areas—Stieberism a Sink of Immorality—"All is Justifiable"—How France was overrun—German Sleuths at Work—The Residential Spy  
German Secret Servicecontinued214
  Berlin and Polyænus—What the Spy has to find out—Lanoir's Tales in Point—Buying a Subaltern—£8000 to a Lieutenant—Berlin pays £10,000 for False Information—A Pole does the Bureau for £4000—German Spies in 1914—The War Lord's Unacted Drama—Germanising Influences in Belgium—Rhodes Scholarships objected to—Ex-Priests in German Army—Cipher and Red Man's Signals  
German Secret Servicecontinued229
  Steinhauer in Stieber's Chair—His Work at Headquarters—Scare Policies—Elme Caro quoted—The [12]Zeppelin Programme—Hermann Turr's Revelations—Windell the "valet"—"Number Seventy, Berlin"—The Personal Qualifications of German Agents—No Pretenders need apply—Salaries of Secret Agents—A Hard Curriculum—Berlin's Tireless Quest of Intelligence—Mr Graves and his Experience—Generous Pay for Good Work—Game not worth the Candle  
German Secret Serviceconcluded242
  Impotence of German Espionage—Berlin's Sleuths and Diplomats equally bad—Training Secret-Service Men—Insistence on Facts—Naval Agents and their Knowledge—The Fatuity of German Ambitions—Practice versus Theory—A Bismarck Touch—"Dirty Little Lieutenants"—An American War Correspondent in the Field  
Diplomatic, Social, Church Spies255
  No Sex Mystery about D'Eon—The Chevalier's Great Courage—His Trip to Russia in Woman's Dress—Empress rewards him—Spies for Louis XV.—Proves an Apt Soldier—Minister in London—Is removed and recalled—Receives Fat Pension—His Return to France—Resumes Female Attire—Disappoints the Curious—Death in 1810—Comte d'Antraigues—Napoleon's Opinion of—His Real Importance—Murdered in London—Diplomatic Secrets rarely divulged—Popular Misconceptions of Diplomatic Spies—Napoleon's Cabinet Noir—Prussian Spies at every Court—The "Posen" Case—Social Spies ubiquitous—The Lower Types—The Tausch Bureau—London's Peer Spy—A Self-constituted Social Cerberus—His Courage in Action—Rise and Fall of the "Prince"—Sainfoin's Derby—The Meyerling Tragedy—Church Espionage—The Spanish Inquisition—Its Terrors and Tortures—Congregational and School Spies  
American Secret Service282
  Few Spies in America—Political Spies active—Charles I. and his Spies—Louis XVI. and De Kalb—Washington and his Spies—James Rivington's Work—Secession Dreams in 1812—The Mexican and Civil Wars—Southern Female Spies—Their Cleverness and Exploits—Belle Boyd and her Corps—The Whisky Ring Spies—Custom House Spies—American Newspaper Spies  
Napoleon, his Mistress and—a Spy298
  The Long Arm of British Diplomacy—Its fateful World Rôle—Spying on Bonaparte—Romance of a Captain's Wife—Madame Fourès and Bonaparte—Getting rid of a Husband—John H. Barnett, British Agent—Bonaparte's Unscrupulousness—The Harem of Elfi Bey—Thrashing an Unfaithful Wife—Self-sacrifice of Fourès—Napoleon's Narrow Escape  



Henri Le CaronTo face page 40
The Duchess of Portsmouth"      "128
Frederick the Great"      "162
The Chevalier d'Eon"      "256



The worldly philosophy of the current age bears the name of Pragmatism, the principles of which, so far as they are susceptible of being weighed, constitute a more or less modified view of the doctrine that the end justifies the means, a teaching which has become familiar to us through the pages of Nietzsche and Stendhal, and which is based mainly on the idea that might is the proper measure of right. Taking it, then, that pragmatical notions of this sort have become almost an implicit condition of individual progress, it would seem to serve little purpose seriously to go into the question of the wrongfulness or the rightfulness of spying as a factor in the struggle for complete self-expression—itself the real aim of all ordered and prearranged lives. It is sufficient for us to reflect that the successful spy flourishes to-day, as he has flourished since the beginnings of recorded time, and as in all probability he will continue to flourish till the day of doom. Indeed, it is not an unreasonable presumption that in the very earliest ages of the world, espionage must have been an entirely necessary condition of the struggle for existence among the infra-men who then peopled the caves [18]of the earth and who succeeded in successfully surviving only by virtue of predatory acts and excursions in which the spoils and the plunder went to the strongest, who had also made themselves the best-informed as to sources of supply. Bible history, too, has told us about the Spy. The story of Joshua, the leader of Israel's hosts and the excellent organisation of informers which he controlled, remain like other tales of common human interest in the Scriptures among those that linger always in the minds of the least Biblical of students. Babylon, we are told, was overrun with informers of all kinds, Memphis and Thebes in their turn became what Alexandria proved to be in the time of Tiberius, and what the great capitals of our own day have become—namely, recruiting centres for criminal adventurers of all types, nationalities and classes, and consequently happy hunting-grounds for all in rapid quest of the agents of intrigue, iniquity and maleficence. Those, too, who have read the classical writers will remember that great leaders like Alexander, Mithridates, Scipio, Hannibal, Pompey and Cæsar, laid the foundations of successful campaigns and political achievement upon information previously supplied them by commissioned spies.

According to the Roman idea, spying was accounted a fair stratagem in both war and politics and was, in theory at least, distinguishable from treachery. Between the two acts there is, of course, a real difference, although in works dealing with international law the terms are often confused, [19]some writers treating them as interchangeable, whilst others but loosely differentiate between the act of spying and that of betrayal, the presumption always remaining that the man who is capable of being a successful and voluntary spy also possesses talents which are common to the elemental traitor. The penalty of death, says Bluntschli, should be such as to terrify all spies, and it is the custom accordingly to execute them ignominiously by hanging. Technically the spy has been defined as one who clandestinely goes in quest of information, whilst a traitor is one who spies within his own community and to its undoing. Although most authorities agree in considering espionage as lawful among the ruses of warfare, all, with one exception, concur in determining that death remains the only logical desert of the man who has possessed himself of secrets upon which the common safety depends. Certain international jurists have objected to the employment, in any cause, of spies, as being immoral, or as condoning acts which are of themselves immoral, and the French writer Morin looks upon espionage with particular horror on the ground that it is "usually malice aforethought and is never voluntary," a peculiar enough view. It is especially blameable, he holds, because a premium is placed upon essentially dishonest dealing, although he admits, with some inconsistency, that it may sometimes become lawful—when it is unsoiled by perfidy, as he puts it. Only the last emergency can at all justify it, says Morin, who [20]is singular in declaring that a spy should not be put to death unless caught in the act. Napoleon himself displayed an unexpected leniency wherever possible towards captured spies, and this on the ground, as he said, that the spy is, by his nature, a base character. In the opinion of the great soldier the best spy is the half-breed who is a natural cosmopolitan and is consequently unaffected by ideas of patriotism. His greatest spy, Schulmeister, was a man of decidedly mongrel antecedents and began life as a smuggler. Pedlars he also declared to be invaluable in espionage, and for the reason that they are naturally disposed to vagabondage, itself a trait of degeneracy. It is well known that he would only employ in such work men whose past had been soiled by some act of a disgraceful or criminal kind, and like the great Frederick, it was his custom to propose to actually convicted criminals their enlargement as the reward of a successful piece of spying.

Modern spies of the professional type, more especially those employed by Germany, fully meet the specifications of Napoleon's idea of the race. The accomplished spy of to-day is invariably a man of at least quasi-criminal proclivities, a being entirely lacking in a moral sense, a degenerate briefly; and indeed experts in the secret history of the German special-information departments all agree in declaring that a "white man," to use an Americanism, is worse than useless to the experts at the chief bureau of the Berlin Secret Service. [21]As a consequence, their corps d'élite is mostly made up of men who, if they have not known the inside of prisons, have at least earned an unequivocal right to such knowledge. One of the profoundest technicians in the business of organising spy campaigns, the late Karl Stieber, has stated that the most valuable spy is your born aristocrat with a bad record and a worse reputation. Proof of the soundness of this view would seem to have been fully advanced by the noble interveners in the Dreyfus case, and, in any event, it is known that among the names of the organising staff of Berlin's school for spies, a large number are those who bear the names of famous families, while the remainder, if not all gentlemen by birth, are at least gentlemen by act of parliament, as the saying is. Courage, aplomb, the possession of what Americans so aptly term "a good front," easy manners and a genial temperament—of any or all of these qualifications, a man of good birth is only in rare cases devoid. Heredity alone has given him many of the psychic requirements that go to make up the most valuable of actors in a desperate situation, including, perhaps, that philosophy of absolute insouciance which makes of him the most sinister and cold-blooded of all criminal agents.

It would be unfair, however, to accuse the Germans of monopolising all those vicious characteristics which go to form the complete spy. Indeed, it would probably be nearer the mark to declare that it is only because of the elaborate [22]excellence of the German organisation that the Teuton has signalised himself so prominently these later times in espionage. For, in truth, the Teutonic mind is fundamentally lacking, it is well known, in those qualities of craft and imagination which produce the best kind of secret service agent. Perseverance and the philosophy which knows how to wait on circumstances, these conventional enough qualities he undoubtedly possesses in a marked degree above his fellows. Nevertheless, they are not the most important requirements of the master-spy, whose base diplomacy and its results must depend to a great extent upon the exercise of constructive imagination and the forcing of circumstances to suit his particular strategy. The German has excelled his congeners at the business in the opinion of modern men solely for the reason that among the Germans the trade of the spy is not accounted more dishonourable than any other. In all probability, however, the Italian, the Greek, the Kelt, given a highly systematised school and an equal ethical standpoint, would prove abler executants in any mission which called for the employment of deep-set guile, the power of divining motives and the ability to calculate the effect of moves. The essential arts of the diplomatist—has not an ambassador been described as an official spy?—underlie, in respect of the mental operations required, the work of your successful secret service agent, and although men like Bismarck, whose mentality was not of a positively Teutonic cast, [23]may be cited in disproof of the statement, it is certain that the German mind is less adapted and less adaptable to the fine processes of the arts of political negotiation than that of either the Kelt or the Italian.

Women, it is interesting to learn, from high authorities on the arts of espionage, are rarely effective or satisfactory agents in secret service. Not, it must be understood, that woman is incapable of the requisite baseness that is, in the successful spy, an indispensable quality. Far from it. Goethe, who was a competent judge of the sex, has placed on record his view that woman, when intent on turpitude, is capable of sounding lower depths than the vilest of the male species. German experts are, however, unanimous in eliminating to a minimum point the services of women as spies, and that too on the ground that they are rarely to be relied upon if once romantic sentiment becomes engaged in their operations—an ever-present possibility. "Any woman but a German woman" was a common cry of Karl Stieber who may be trusted to have well understood the character of his fair compatriot, for whom love and romance—the purer the better—constitute the only things worth living for in this drab enough world. Indeed, the famous Salic Law is said to have owed its first enacting mainly to the fact that German women were as a rule found to be unreliable, shall we say? where their intimate feelings were apt to become involved, and those who have resided in Germany will not [24]require to be told that a handsome face and a brave air, added to a romantic bent, go very much further with women in the land of beer, love and song than with their sisters in perhaps any other country in the world. The work of the efficient spy involves, it is clear, a peculiar but none the less specific proportioning of analytical and synthetical qualities of brain-work, and while the feminine mind, which works mainly on its intuitions, may be described as wholly of a synthetic calibre, it has, except in the rarest cases, of analytical faculties—the ability for properly appraising and forecasting causes and effects—the very poorest provision.

The elaborate calculations of your Schulmeisters and Stiebers may be said, in nearly all cases, to have worked out with the smoothness of algebraic equations, and it is extremely rare that women display either the self-restraint or the reasoning power which carry to successful solution dragging intrigues with anything like the patient routine and regularity which a series of really unromantic situations calls for. Obviously, the work of the spy, no matter how dramatic it may appear in its co-ordinated whole, must, in respect of its various separate acts and phases, be bared of all dramatic or arresting incident. Were the opposite the case, woman, a natural actor, would find herself in the most congenial of elements. Anything more sordid, however, or more commonplace than the general phase-work of the spy, it would be difficult to imagine, and it is precisely for this [25]reason that woman as a rule fails as a secret service agent. In matters of love or revenge, where her deepest feelings are concerned, she is capable of a sustained effort calling for the application of whatever analytical powers she may possess, but seldom in other cases; for an appeal to, say, her patriotism leaves her almost invariably cold and unenthusiastic, since love of country is a quality which depends too largely on an essentially platonic and impersonal principle to attract and hold for long her undivided interest and attention.

On the whole, a study of the spy, however interesting it may prove in respect of the undoubted variety of its actors and dramatic aspects, must be held to be a criminological study. Even in the cases of Hale and André, whose careers owe much of the halo which invests them to their tragic fate, one is suspicious of fanaticism in the former and pronounced megalomania in the latter, both symptoms of unsoundness of mind. However much the spy may plead disinterestedness in the pecuniary sense, or point to present poverty as a token of his claim to have worked for an implicit moral principle, one is conscious in studying the life of any one of the species in more modern times, that he contained within him all the necessary elements which go to make up the character and personality of that class of degenerate who is prepared to travel any path provided he be given the means to play a more or less spectacular rôle. He is invariably to be found among that type of men who advance the peculiar claim that "the [26]world owes every wight a living," strangely forgetful of the historic retort in point. The application of this principle to all the length to which it is capable of being extended would, of course, justify the struggle for existence of the summer burglar, the swell mobsman, the sand-bag artist and the lead-pipe assassin, to mention but a few members of the big brotherhood which lives by crime. It is undoubtedly true that many successful spies lay claim to be scions of splendid families, and, as we have said, German authorities will not employ men on important missions in espionage who have not at least had the education of gentlemen. The boastful claim of pedigree—obviously untenable in the majority of cases—provides for the writer, at any rate, something of a key to the psychology of the spy. Pride of mythical ancestry is undoubtedly a capital symptom of megalomania, among the conditions of which is the obsession of self-importance, and this would seem to be a widely prevalent disease among the sons of men. The desire to be near important people, to be engaged in no matter how lowly a capacity with men who direct important affairs, to associate in more or less familiar fashion with celebrities, or people highly placed, to count for even an infinitesimal part in the conduct of big events, to have the tips of one's fingers in the particular pie of the moment, to have been "not altogether out of it," as the cant phrase goes, in any given episode, but above all to be known to integral outsiders as having played the rôle of a [27]fractional insider in any cause—this is an acute mania with a larger part of the human race than is commonly suspected. Megalomania of this kind goes a far way to explain the reason why men fitted for success in the unspectacular and prosaic careers of life will deliberately devote themselves to what must ever be considered as among the most disreputable of trades.

It may be objected that at least it is a business which requires courage and that all successful exponents of the metier of spying have been men of undoubted courage. While admitting the boldness of men like Le Caron and Schulmeister, it may be said that they displayed audacity rather than courage, and the two qualities spring from entirely distinct motives. Often the audacity which passes for courage arises either from a lack of imagination, or else from a blind fatalism, and in neither case is there any display of real courage. Duty, presumably, is the fundamental motive of courage, and until your spy can be shown to have engaged in the perilous business of espionage out of purely conscientious devotion to task and principle—Le Caron, it is only right to say, claims all of this—he must be classed with that type of individual who enters into the business of unrighteousness "for all there is in it," to use an American phrase, and well knowing the tolls and penalties which failure will inevitably exact. It is impossible, in perusing the private correspondence of the loud and boastful Stieber, not to divine the presence of a spirit of active maleficence, the [28]measure of whose humanity is to be found in the number of cold-blooded executions for which he was responsible in his capacity as an agent of Bismarck's lust for conquest. And Stieber's congeners were as a rule no worse and no better than himself, the only difference being that the German held a larger stage on which to enact his rôle and had correspondingly greater opportunities. The most charitable argument that one can employ to excuse the existence of the spy is that by which Napoleon sought to explain his leniency towards them: They are a species of humanity which is by nature base, and to that extent only are not responsible for their characteristics.



The spy, as we have seen, has been given mention in the Old Testament, Joshua, David and Absalom having employed their services, and most of us remember that passage in Genesis in which his brothers answer Joseph saying: "We are true men, thy servants are not spies." The protracted peregrinations of the Israelites necessarily called for the employment of emissaries who should learn the qualities and dispositions of the many peoples whom they encountered on their way to the Promised Land, and your anthropologist might possibly not be far wrong in concluding that it was the experience gained in the course of his ever-perilous wanderings which made the Jew so apt an exponent of the arts of spying as he most certainly proved himself to be in the days of consular and early imperial Rome. In the New Testament, too, we hear of the spy when the high priests, having Christ under suspicion, sent forth spies who should feign friendship with Him for the purposes of extracting information. Every commander of antiquity was accustomed to employ the services of spies, as the Greek historian Polyænus tells us in the course of that marvellous compilation of his in which he gives [30]details of some nine hundred stratagems, serviceable, it is noteworthy, not only in war, but also in civil and political life. If we are to judge by what the Romans say of themselves, their character was incapable of stooping to the baseness of common spying or studied treachery of any sort. The view is, of course, open to criticism, and when we reflect upon the treatment which triumphing generals were wont to accord to their most illustrious captives, not easily acceptable. One of the most formidable spirits of antiquity, Mithridates, King of Pontus, a prince regarding whose exploits writers have been strangely neglectful, was himself the chief spy of his army, and for the purposes of this work had made himself master, Pliny tells, of some five and twenty languages and dialects, by means of which, as well as fitting disguises, he was enabled to penetrate every region of Asia Minor. It is written that from the time of his succession to the throne of Pontus at the age of fourteen, he spent seven years wandering through and spying out the countries which he eventually conquered, and for the possession of which he waged a lifelong war against the power of Rome.

In the course of a work entitled Stratagems, Frontinus, a military writer in the time of Vespasian, records how Cornelius Lelius, having been sent by Scipio Africanus in the capacity of envoy to Syphax, King of Numidia, but in reality for the purposes of espionage, took with him several officers of high rank in the Roman army, all disguised. A general in the camp of Syphax, recognising [31]one of these companions, Manlius, as having studied with him at Corinth, and well knowing him to be an officer in the Roman army, began to put awkward questions. Thereupon Lelius fell upon Manlius and thrashed him, declaring the fellow to be a pushful valet and nothing better. On the same occasion, the envoy allowed a high-spirited and richly caparisoned horse to escape from his suite in order to be given the opportunity of going through the camp to recover it. Again there was Tarquin the Proud who, failing to capture the city of Gabii to which he was laying siege, had his son flogged till the blood ran from his body and then sent him a refugee into the midst of the enemy, with instructions to procure by bribery the surrender of the place, all of which the youth accomplished. Polyænus tells how Sertorius, the Roman general in Spain, was the owner of a white fawn that he had trained to follow him everywhere, even to the steps of the tribunal which the animal had been taught, at a given signal, to approach as Sertorius was about to deliver sentence in judicial cases. The commander allowed it to be made known that he derived much information from this fawn. Meanwhile his spies were very active all over the country and the tribes all marvelled at the knowledge of the general, who attributed it to the little beast for which he claimed supernatural powers.

Polyænus also teaches the necessity of "psychologising"—a term not unknown to American experts in that form of police torture which is [32]known as the Third Degree—the leader to whom one may be opposed. "One must exert oneself," says the Greek, "to find out the character of one's enemy as well as his disposition; whether he is impetuous and spirited at the first shock, or patient and apt to await the onslaught." Every general should know all there is to be known about the business of opponents, and he goes on to tell the tale in point, showing that what we know to-day as the Black Cabinet—that is, the spying of private correspondence in the post—was practised by Alexander the Great who lived some three hundred years before Christ. "Being in Carmania, he was informed that the Macedonians and Greeks in his army were speaking badly about him. Alexander thereupon assembled his friends and told them that as he intended writing home they should do likewise. Accordingly, they all wrote home and Alexander saw to it that the couriers were recalled with the mails before they had gone very far on their journey." Recurring to the same authority, we learn that cipher was well known to the Greeks under the name skutate and to the Romans as scutula, meaning a wooden cylinder around which an inscribed papyrus was rolled. He also records the story of Histiæus, a tyrant of Miletus who wished to incite Ionia to rebel against Darius; fearing however to send letters to the Ionians in those perilous times, he thought out the ruse of having the head of a trusted slave clean shaved and a message written on the scalp, addressed to Aristagoras in the [33]simple words: "Rouse Ionia to revolt." The slave was then sent on his way to Ionia, and, his hair having grown over the fateful message by the time hostile camps were reached, he passed safely through to Aristagoras, who had the poll shaved once more and so learned his general's design. Altogether it would seem that during antiquity, ruse rather than real ability was the cause of many loud-famed successes and victories. Frontinus tells how the Consul Hirtius used to send carrier-pigeons to his friend Decimus Brutus, and Justus Lipsius is responsible for the statement that swallows were trained for purposes of military and other espionage, the same authority informing us that it was the custom among Eastern nations for birds to be trained as long-distance messengers, more especially between lovers. It may be certain, too, that postal communications were not all entrusted to the famous relay runners, regarding whose marvellous stamina the Roman records tell us.

Hannibal, it is certain, could never have performed that wondrous march from the edge of Andalusia right up through Spain, over the Pyrenees, across France and beyond the Alps into the plains of Piedmont, where he fought his most artistic battle in 218 B.C., at the Trebia, had it not been for an organisation of spies and informers who prepared the way by ruse and diplomacy for the advance of his hordes. Of him Polybius writes: "For years before he undertook his campaign against Rome, he had sent his agents [34]into Italy and they were observing everyone and everything. He charged them with transmitting to him exact and positive information regarding the fertility of the trans-Alpine plains and the valley of the Po, their populations, their military spirit and preparations and, above all, their disposition towards the government at Rome. There was nothing too large in promises that the Carthaginian was not ready to make in return for their support against the hated City." Cæsar too employed spies to the undoing of his adversaries in Egypt, in Gaul and also in Britain, and although in his Commentaries he records his employment of emissaries of this kind, history remains generally blank as to special details, leaving us to conclude that, like Napoleon, he relied mainly on the exigencies of the moment to produce the required information through the bribery of individuals in the opposite camp. In his early political career, especially during his tenure of the office of Pontifex Maximus, it seems clear that he then laid the leading lines, through the employment of many informers, of that vast political network of which he subsequently became the master, while his later association with Marcus Crassus, who mainly owed both wealth and power to the army of spies which he controlled, was in every way to Cæsar's advantage in respect of the means of procuring important information. Had he employed the services of a spy system on his attainment to supreme power, it is unlikely that he would have come to his destruction at the hands [35]of a group of the best-known men in Rome, the fact leaving us to infer that he had ceased to use a secret service after the Civil War.

On the passing of Constantine to the Bosporus in the fourth century, Rome, in the process of the ages, became the centre of a vast ecclesiastical power. The work of the spy then reached the honours of a kind of consecration. Writers like Lachesnaie and Deville emphasise the view that ecclesiastics are especially fitted for the business of spying. Fouché and Talleyrand had been clerics in their early days and certainly both were masters in the business of organising special-information corps. In his works, too, the Prussian General, Karl von Decker, declares that "a secret which cannot be penetrated by a woman or a priest will never be penetrated." To tell the story of Church espionage would exhaust the capacity of a large library, and in this connection it may be said that adversaries of the Church of Rome have ever held that the Confessional was a purely political invention, the object of which was to spy upon the community. Whether this be so or not, it is fortunately not our business to decide; it is fair, however, to mention the prevalence of the view. In any case, clerics have ever proved themselves apt for the work of espionage, and in a collection of ordinances issued and signed by Louis XIV. in 1652, a certain Father Berthoud, "although an ecclesiastic, is authorised to disguise himself in any way he likes in Paris, Bordeaux, Blaye and elsewhere," for the purposes [36]of spy work among the political and social enemies of the Crown. Cardinal Richelieu and his understudy, Père Joseph, practically inaugurated in France the system of opening private communications, a practice which was carried to its extreme under Napoleon, of whose daily budget of private letters, his fourth secretary, Fain, has told us much.

That the system of espionage persists to our own day in Continental colleges and convents under the control of congregational clerics, is a fact which is well known. Each division of a school is invariably placed under the chronic vigilance of a "surveillant," or watcher, who in his turn employs his own corps of spies, privileged boys moving among the masses of their congeners, marking their intentions, noting the relations of the younger boys with the older, getting information as to unlawful programmes to be carried out, ferreting out secret testimony as to the habits of suspect characters and, if possible, intercepting amorous billets which pass between elder boys in other divisions and the younger fry. In regard to these unwholesome liaisons the vigilance of the spies is certainly justified; but the system goes much deeper than this in foreign schools, its objects being to inquire into the most intimate details regarding the private character of a boy—heaven only knows why, if it is not for the pure love of finding out. Indeed, it must be allowed that the baser tendencies which are to be noted in the case of all spies, here display themselves in [37]the form of a pruriency which often touches the indecent and always the unwholesome.

The real founder of the business of organised spying in modern times was Frederick the Great, who was wont to boast that his spies exceeded his cooks in the proportion of a hundred to one. It is impossible closely to read the story of Frederick, or even to study minutely his face as pictured, say, by Meyn, without becoming conscious of the fact that here was a being who realised in his personality the claim of the psychologists that great ability and criminal tendencies are often closely affiliated. Apart from what we know of his perverse eccentricities, it is certain that his deliberate elimination of all the higher ideals of humanity from a place in his political philosophy had the effect of making him as impersonal as an automaton where his material ambitions were concerned, and he knew no other. Like the true pragmatist he was, Frederick considered all things good in themselves which served his ends, and his policies were invariably conceived on his pet principle: "If honesty fails us, we have always dishonesty to fall back upon." He it was who laid the foundations of that policy of Prussianisation of which our story of Stieber tells in its turn, and in which no measure was to be considered too extreme or base, nor turpitude too abhorrent, provided it advanced the interests of his House and furthered its ambition to play in Europe that rôle which had passed to the Habsburgs by inheritance from the Cæsars. For [38]Prussia Frederick sought a permanent predominance in Europe equal to all which Louis XIV. had exercised between 1661 and 1715. An understanding of these facts is really the condition of grasping the significance of the elaborate Prussian spy system of our own time.

Lastly comes the age of Napoleon, in which we find that, for all the essential militarism of the imperial regime, the spy really played a more prominent rôle in the social and political drama than in that of the camp, the great soldier, except in extraordinary cases of long-laid plans, as in the Austerlitz campaign, relying mainly on human cupidity touched by the magic of his gold, to find, as the occasion demanded, willing perverts to provide him with the information necessary to the success of his combinations.



Away back in the later eighties, when Ireland was in the throes of her penultimate fight for the principle of self-government, all true sons of Erin had marked out for their particular obloquy two individuals who have since become notorious—namely, Piggott, the forger, and Major Le Caron, the spy. Those whose memories travel back easily to the famous Times Commission will recollect how offensively both names stunk in the nostrils of all who supported the late Irish leader. Among Nationalists, it will be remembered, the spy was invariably spoken of under the name "Le Carrion," and even those who gave him the benefit of a proper pronunciation of his pseudonym were wont to utter it with that peculiarly hissing emphasis with which Irishmen, among all men, seem able to invest the names of those who run counter to their political bias. The positive venom which certain eloquent Nationalists seem actually to instil into the pronunciation of names like "Dublin Castle," "Major Trant," "Lord Clanricarde" lingers long afterwards in the memory of English listeners, just as the rattle of certain snakes is said ever afterwards to linger in the ears of those who have escaped them in the [40]jungle. To hear the late Mr Biggar, for instance, utter the nom de guerre of the famous British spy was a real lesson in the onomatopœic art, and on his lips the name, otherwise inoffensive and, indeed, on English tongues a liquid enough quantity, was made to attain a sibilancy which was truly weird in its effect.

Henri Le Caron

By permission of Mr. William Heinemann

How came the Major by his adopted name, and was it really meant to portend anything? It was humorously said at the time that the spy had taken his pseudonym from the French form of the name of that mythical boatman of classic memory who was wont for a few halfpence to ferry the souls of the damned across the river Styx, Charon, to wit. Le Caron is, however, a common enough French name, and the Major had lived some years in France previously to migrating to the United States, in which country Thomas Beach first became Henri Le Caron. Born at Colchester, Essex, in 1841, Beach belonged to a type of family which was clearly of old-fashioned puritanical stock, and the point is important enough in view of his later claim to have acted the rôle of traitor purely on the ground of moral principle. In his autobiography he tells how from his earliest days he had been brought up to cherish the Bible and to loathe all forms and quantities of alcoholic liquor. His home life was altogether not a very bright one and dull domestic repression soon began to exert its own particular reaction on a character which was already bursting with the spirit of adventure and derring-do. He records it that [41]the routine of his existence grew too monotonous for the larger soul within him, and how he ran away from home and a Quaker's shop at least three times before his sixteenth year, breaking his apprentice bonds and travelling far and wide, yet managing, at whatever town he made a halt, to earn what he calls a respectable living. Like most characters of his obviously crude and untutored kind, in whom the spirit of romance is a considerable, if a somewhat jumbled, equation, there was not a little of the megalomaniac in the boy, and even in those early days his soul thirsted after the big things of life. In young Beach, too, there was a bit of artistry of sorts, and just as it was a chief ambition of Spy Schulmeister to dance like a marquis of the old regime, and a foible of Spy Stieber to accumulate pectoral decorations testifying to his honour, so also the youthful Le Caron discovered a precocious passion for hymns and the music of the church organ. At Colchester he became a leading and decorous choir lad, and according to himself it was his love for psalmody rather than any regard for his puritanical parents which invariably brought about his return, prodigal-wise, to the paternal roof. One is obliged in that spirit of fairness which gives the devil all that is due to him, to insist on what are otherwise prosaic enough details, and all the more so because, to the man's admirers, his piety provides an argument for the rôle he afterwards adopted in life.

Having spent some years in Paris, where he [42]worked as an agent for that now-extinct old worthy, John Arthur, earning a living which enabled him to present a highly respectable figure, he clearly felt a call, he tells us, to join the North in 1861, when the kindling American Civil War made the States a kind of promised land for all sorts of adventurous spirits, most of whom, it may be supposed, were still feeling the influences of the comparatively fresh Napoleonic legend. Taking out a passport in the name of Henri Le Caron, young Beach shipped on the Great Eastern, then about to take her maiden trip across the Atlantic, and landed duly in New York, where the military authorities enlisted him as a private in the Pennsylvania Reserves. Le Caron—he was never after 1861 known by the name of Beach—passes over his military career with unexpected haste in his autobiography, it must be said. He was present, he tells, at important engagements during the course of the war, first as an infantry soldier, subsequently as a cavalryman, receiving promotion and being especially detailed for scouting operations. In 1864 he was gazetted second lieutenant and by 1865 had attained the rank of regimental adjutant with the title of Major—a rank which became, it may be said in passing, at the close of the war, so common throughout the States, that humorists were wont to tell how in 1866 it was impossible to throw a brick in any given direction where men happened to assemble without hitting an officer of that standing.


Le Caron, it is interesting to note, records his act of religious faith in the following words:—"We are impelled by some unknown force to carry out, not of our own volition or possible design, the work of this life, indicated by a combination of circumstances to which unconsciously we adapt ourselves." This, it may be remembered, was the religion of the late Prince Bismarck, and it must be allowed that it is a highly convenient and elastic hypothesis of life. It goes far to explain how he came to be associated with Fenianism. Le Caron declares, however, that he was far from having gone in search of the Fenians; on the contrary, he insists, the Fenians came in search of Le Caron. The Major disappoints us rather badly, nevertheless, by failing to show how it was that the Irish in America, even in those days a powerful community, should have sought out the psalmodical soldier who abhorred alcohol in all its forms and possible quantities, and why he, a Briton, of all men, should have been singled out to put life into the Irish-American movement for the emancipation of the Sister Isle. At the head of that movement in 1865 was James Stephens, who directed the organisation both in Ireland and America, while his agents on American soil included some of the shrewdest Irishmen of that age and, indeed, some of the most prosperous. Le Caron explains briefly how he first entered the movement as a spy. A fellow-officer had informed him quite casually that the main object of the Irish-American agitation of that date was the [44]invasion of Canada. This startling bit of news proved more than sufficient to call out the fires of the old puritanical moralist dormant in the Major, who proceeds to inform us in the language of tragic passion which one applies to a tailor who has omitted a minor detail, that he "felt quite indignant at learning what was being done against the interests of my native country." Accordingly, and in order to unload his chest of the perilous secret, he addressed a letter to his father, a local tradesman, at Colchester, informing the sire that an attack was contemplated on the Dominion by a group of bold bad Irishmen. Evidently there was in the Beach tribe a congenital incapacity for holding a secret, for no sooner had the old man read his son's letter than, "startled and dismayed at the tidings it conveyed, he, true Briton that he was," made over the letter to the then sitting member for Colchester, a Mr Rebow. It was this gentleman who was instrumental in procuring Le Caron his salaried commission to act in America as a spy for the British police authorities.

In 1867, Major Le Caron, freed from military service, was looking around him for the means of maintaining his family, and in the course of a visit to England, was instructed by the British Government to ally himself with the Fenian organisation in America, "in order," as he frankly admits, "to play the rôle of spy in the rebel ranks." His adventurous nature welcomed the work as congenial, he says, while his British instincts made [45]him a willing worker from a sense of right. Accordingly, on his return to America, he offered his services as a military man to General O'Neill, who was to lead the anti-British forces in the event of another uprising. On his cordial acceptance by O'Neill, as well as initiation, on his solemn oath, into the Fenian Brotherhood under that soldier's sponsorship, Le Caron returned to his Western home and lost no time "in commencing to lead my double life," as he puts it. At Lockport, Illinois, he set about the organisation of a Fenian "circle" in which he took the position officially known by the title of "center," or commander, a post which entitled him to receive all official reports and communications issued by O'Neill. These reports were duly transmitted to London by the Major and one pauses here to reflect that in this supplementary office Le Caron might not inappropriately have borne the subsidiary title of "scenter." The soul of the Major was clearly one of no ordinary beauty and versatility, for in order to supplement his gains as a secret-service agent, he accepted about this time a comfortable post as hospital steward in a vast gaol in Illinois. Here, he naïvely admits, he felt at home, because, as he writes, "in such a vast assembly of criminals, there were many whose characters and careers formed subjects for very interesting study to me. I was fortunate in being connected with the prison at a time when some more than usually clever and facile scoundrels were temporarily resident there." O'Neill was, however, on the look-out for [46]energetic agents, and Le Caron was not suffered to remain long in the comparatively inactive life of an Illinois gaol. In response to a telegram from headquarters, he proceeded hurriedly—and apparently without giving due notice to his employers—to New York, where he was engaged as "major and military organiser of the Irish Republican Army," at a salary equivalent to £650 a year, a rare exchange for the few pounds he was being paid weekly as a prison official in Illinois. With his commission he received instructions to proceed on an organising tour, in the course of which, the Major learned, to his deep disgust, that he was expected to address public meetings as a sworn advocate of the Irish cause. He knew nothing whatever about Irish politics and was well aware that ignorance of Irish aspirations meant, in the opinion of most Irishmen, wholesale indifference, which was hardly worse than active hostility itself. Once, indeed, he found himself in a tight fix which called for all the undoubted nerve the spy possessed. The occasion was a Convention of the Fenian Brotherhood at Williamsburg. The Major tells the story in the course of his autobiography in the following words:—

"The evening came and with it our trip to Williamsburg. On arrival there in the company of O'Neill and some brother officers, I found several thousands of persons assembled. We were greeted with the greatest enthusiasm and given [47]the seats of honour to the right and left of the chairman. My position was a very unhappy one. I was in a state of excessive excitement, for I feared greatly what was coming. Seated as I was next to O'Neill, I could hear him tell the chairman on whom to call and how to describe the speakers; and as each pause took place between the speeches, I hung with nervous dread on O'Neill's words, fearing my name would be next. The meeting proceeded apace, some four or five of my companions had already spoken and I was beginning to think that after all the evil was postponed and that for this night at least I was safe. Not so, however. All but O'Neill and myself had spoken when to my painful surprise I heard the General call upon the chairman to announce Major Le Caron. The moment was fraught with danger; my pulses throbbed with a maddening sensation; my heart seemed to stop its beating; my brain was on fire and failure stared me in the face. With an almost superhuman effort, I collected myself, and as the chairman announced me as Major M'Caron, tickled by the error into which he had fallen and the vast cheat I was playing on the whole of them, I rose equal to the occasion, to be received with the most enthusiastic of plaudits.

"The hour was very late and I took advantage of the circumstance. Proud and happy as I was at being with them that evening, and taking part in such a magnificent demonstration, they could not, I said, expect me to detain them long at so [48]advanced an hour. All had been said upon the subject nearest and dearest to their hearts. (Applause.) If what I had experienced that night was indicative of the spirit of patriotism of the Irish in America (tremendous cheering), then indeed there could be no fears for the result. (Renewed plaudits.) And now I would sit down. They were all impatiently waiting, I knew, to hear the stirring words of the gallant hero of Ridgeway, General O'Neill (thunders of applause), and I would, in conclusion, simply beg of them as lovers of liberty and motherland (excited cheering) to place at the disposal of the General the cash necessary to carry out the great work on which he was engaged. This work, I was confident, would result in the success of our holy cause and the liberation of dear old Ireland from the thraldom of the tyrant's rule which had blighted and ruined her for seven hundred years. These last words worked my hearers up to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and amidst their excited shouts and cheers I resumed my seat, with the comforting reflection that if it took so little as this to arouse the Irish people, I could play my rôle with little difficulty."

Fenian Conventions came and passed; the organisation had grown to extraordinary proportions, as is shown by the fact that in 1868, when the Brotherhood made a demonstration at Philadelphia, not fewer than 6000 armed and uniformed Fenian soldiers paraded the city, [49]with General O'Neill at their head and Le Caron among the staff. In the course of his work in the Eastern States, the Major had already distributed, he tells, 15,000 stands of arms and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition for the prospective raid which promised shortly to be undertaken, on the prime condition, however, that the funds should be forthcoming to finance the adventure. In the spring of 1870 it was decided to make the projected move upon Canada, O'Neill declaring with a Kelt's enthusiasm that "no power on earth could stop it." Le Caron, who was, of course, already in active touch with the Ottawa authorities, met the British agents at Buffalo, giving them full particulars and details as to the Raid which was about to take place. On their departure to make complete preparations for all eventualities, O'Neill arrived at Buffalo, whence, and accompanied by Le Caron, he left for the Front. "O'Neill," writes the Major, "was full of enthusiasm and firmly believed that the Canadians would be taken entirely by surprise, while I myself was laughing at his coming discomfiture." Arrived at the frontier, O'Neill, who expected to find at least 1000 Fenians under arms—the nucleus of an army which was to attract another 500,000 Irishmen from all parts of America—discovered to his dismay that only 250 men had assembled; this number was swelled by the arrival of 250 more on the morrow, when the General, fearful of the effects of hesitation and delay, ordered his force [50]to cross the border from Vermont into Canadian territory. The simple Irishman addressed his troops in early-Bonapartian fashion as follows:— "Soldiers! This is the advance guard of the Irish-American army for the liberation of Ireland from the yoke of the oppressor. For your own country's sake you enter that of the enemy. The eyes of your countrymen are upon you. Forward—March!"

The spy himself, from the crest of a slope, watched the advance of the little band of invaders as it crossed the border-line into British territory, some in Fenian uniform of green and gold, others in ordinary "Sunday" garb. Not a soul was in sight, nor anything like a force to oppose their progress. Le Caron well knew, however, that behind the ridge towards which the Fenian army advanced deployed, cheering wildly and with bayonets fixed, at least 1000 Canadian volunteers were lying in wait. As the invaders touched the slope, the Canadian rifles opened fire, the Army of Liberation ceased forthwith to exist, and the last the Major saw of General O'Neill was that officer's passing in a hackney-coach seated between the two policemen who had arrested him. Le Caron of course fled with the rest of the invaders, and immediately made his way to Ottawa for the purpose, he says somewhat unconvincingly, of personally "reporting" to the authorities as to the raid, the result of which had in all probability been telegraphed to Government House ten minutes after the fiasco. [51]Duly he arrived at the political capital, where he was, he says, received with the honours that usually fall to the carriers of military dispatches. Here a significant enough incident occurred. Wishing to return home at once, Le Caron prepared for the journey only to find at the last moment that he was without funds for the ticket; he thereupon applied to a certain Judge, who wrote him a cheque for the unusually generous sum of £70—generous seeing that the sum was at least ten times the amount of his fare supposing him still to have lived in the West, while the fare from Ottawa to New York State does not exceed fifteen dollars at the farthest. With his usual dispatch in regard to matters in which one's curiosity not unnaturally looks for relief, Le Caron passes from the episode without volunteering any explanation of a satisfactory kind.

In the intervening time between the failure of O'Neill's rising and the advent of the society of United Irish Brothers, the Clan-na-gael, in 1873, Le Caron spent his time studying medicine. As a practitioner he claims to have had successes. His taste for spying seems nevertheless to have exceeded his love for medicine, for in 1873, with the coming of the Clan, we find him laying his plans to deal with that important body, which, it may be said, differed from all other Irish-American societies in the technical excellence of its organisation. Its primary object was to unite throughout America and the world all Irishmen [52]who loved their country. Naturally the Major, although supposedly French, presented himself as a candidate for membership in the new organisation, and having improvised an Irish grandmother to fortify his candidacy, was in due course admitted to the Brotherhood on his sworn oath to be loyal to its covenants. From the very first, however, he became an object of suspicion to several prominent leaders of the movement, and it was only after a pressing fight for recognition that he was eventually appointed to such a position as should enable him to penetrate the arcana of the society's inner shrines. As with the Fenian body, he became in the Clan a member of the Military Board. Every document of value which afforded evidence of the Brotherhood's dynamite propaganda directed against English cities was, as in the F.B. days, transmitted to the British Home Office, the correspondence being actually carried on between Le Caron's wife and another member of her sex in London. Accordingly, one may readily believe the spy's own statement that while he was a member of the military councils of the Clan, he was also shaking hands with danger and discovery at every turn and only saved his skin by a miracle. In the course of his association with the Brotherhood Le Caron of course made the acquaintance of some of the most prominent Irishmen in America's anti-British movements of the past generation, among them Messrs Egan, O'Donovan Rossa and the late Patrick Ford. The last of this trio was [53]never, he says, a member of the Clan nor any other secret society, however much he may have supported in his early days the physical-force views which were advocated by extremists of all kinds. Mr Ford owed his prominence, says the Major, to the wide influence of his paper, The Irish World, in the conduct of which was also associated his brother, Mr Austin Brendan Ford, as a business director. It was undoubtedly the force which kept together the various elements of the Irish community in the States; edited with great ability, it had a vast circulation, which went well into the hundreds of thousands and had its readers among Irishmen in every quarter of the globe. Mr Ford, though not a member of the Brotherhood, allowed himself, says Le Caron, to voice its policies through his paper.

Some idea of the influence of the Clan may be formed when one realises that between 1876 and 1880, Russian revolutionary societies were treating with the American organisation to carry out any part of the propaganda in which a common co-operation was possible. In return for Irish-American financial aid, in the event of an Anglo-Russian war, the Muscovite revolutionaries pledged assistance to the Irish in the cause of complete emancipation from the English bond. Two extremely wealthy Irish-Americans were prepared, it was understood, to support this strange Russo-Irish alliance with many millions of dollars. Included in a somewhat lengthy programme were the three items, assassination [54]of Queen Victoria, the kidnapping of the Prince of Wales and the killing of the Tsar. All of these intentions Le Caron ferreted out, conveying due information to Scotland Yard. The late Mr Parnell the Major also met in America, becoming instrumental in "promoting" the Irish leader's Land League ideas in the States. Of Parnell Le Caron expressed the view that he was out wholly and solely for what financial rewards there were to be found in political agitation. Davitt he regarded as a simple soul, but a born conspirator and one who could not long be induced to tread a constitutional path. It is clear that Major Le Caron made the acquaintance of all who were prominently engaged in the Parnell movement, and it is a remarkable tribute to his powers of deception that until he returned to England for good and proved his real quality before the Commission, not one of the actors in the last phase of that memorable struggle ever suspected him of being a secret-service man.

It is not the purpose of this story to follow the Major throughout the whole of his career as a spy. His work, which differed but little in regard to its methods at any time or in any undertaking, cannot at all be said to have been of a class which required a very high type of mentality or any diplomacy worthy of that description. For all his prominence in the profession, it cannot be said that Le Caron, at any point in his career, ever rose above the status of a common informer. He himself admits that he owed much of his [55]success to the fact that, finding himself among a hard-drinking society, he was one of the rare men who never allowed a taste for fire-water to endanger the operation of his business. Nor can we suppose that the Clan-na-gael men, whom he deceived so long, were at all adept in the deeper arts of political intrigue, or that they possessed any of that finesse which marked the type of men with whom Schulmeister had on nearly every occasion to measure his nimble wits. Le Caron claimed to be considered on a different level from all other spies and for the reason that he adopted the profession purely in the interests of his patriotism. A close study of his confessions discloses, however, a positive disposition towards the mercenary aspect of things and the Major's art—in literature, at least—is far too feeble to conceal the fact. There is in many of his reflections upon the parsimony of British secret-service paymasters the suggestion of a whimper in regard to the small pecuniary rewards he obtained for services which he himself naturally appraised very highly, but which really only provided results which were certain to have been arrived at even if the British Government had never employed an official spy upon the Irish-American brotherhoods.

Le Caron owed much of that quasi-heroic reputation which grew up around him and his career to the fact that he appeared on a drab enough stage as the only figure with melodramatic possibilities inherent in it at a time when the Americanised [56]type of journalism was creeping into England and when journalists were being gradually initiated into the mysteries of writing up what is technically known among newspaper men as the "human interest" side of all persons and things. In the personal cast of the Parnell Commission and its long-drawn sessions, there was nothing of picturesque interest outside the occasional appearance in the witness-box of Irish peasants who were called upon to bear witness, in Doric accents, to the truth. Apart from these, the individuals who gave testimony were a bunch of frock-coated, plug-hatted Philistines of the most "orn'ery" description, as they say out West, men who used unfailingly to put the special writers to sleep. In Parnell there was nothing, externally at least, which could be said to be in any way picturesque, and Biggar only came up to the specifications of a very curious picture. Along, then, came Le Caron, a veritable godsend to the correspondents who were gaping for a bit of decent colour. The Major may be trusted, as a man who had touched hands with the American journalist, to have realised and seized his opportunity. The obvious Napoleon pose, the arms folded across the breast, the sharp sibilant tones, the Westerner's "yus, yus" and "no, siree," the Machiavellian suggestion of knowing all there was to be known about mystic shrines and tangled intrigues, the obvious consciousness of being the apparent villain of the piece who was finally, he thought, to issue as its real hero, the glacial fixity of the stare, [57]the pose of long-suffering righteousness—yes, the spy in the witness-box was exactly what the New Journalists were looking for, and in making Le Caron they were helping to make themselves.



Of all modern spies, Karl Schulmeister, Napoleon's chief secret-service agent, appears to have possessed mental and temperamental qualities of so high an order as to justify one's belief that in the business of haute politique he might have played a prominent rôle, had his destiny lain that way. As it was, he played in the Napoleonic drama a part which, although practically unknown even to well-informed students of history, may be said to have contributed an important quota not only to the Corsican's achievement of his lofty position in the world, but also in some measure to its retention. And although Napoleon made his chief spy a rich man and allowed him to hold in his time many positions of consideration if not of honour, such as the organisation of the corps d'espions and the headship of the imperial secret police, it is a matter of definite record that he consistently and to the end refused to bestow on Schulmeister any decoration of honour. In what degree and to what extent the work of the spy was less dignified or honourable than that of Fouché, the high-placed minister of police, is not easily apparent and it seems hard to find any real justification for Napoleon's refusal to Schulmeister [59]of a pectoral certificate of worth when we reflect on the personal and public character of the heavily bedizened Duc d'Otranto who, apart from his long career of duplicity and intrigue, was eventually to prove the agent of the Emperor's final undoing and betrayal. In view of our expressed opinion that megalomania largely underlies the psychology of the spy, it is interesting to note that Schulmeister also laid claim to the honour of lofty birth. His grandfather, he told the world of his time, had been a Hungarian refugee noble of the family of Biersky, who settled in Baden, about 1730, where he adopted the profession of schoolmaster, taking at the same time a name descriptive of his occupation—hence Schulmeister.

What we know for a certainty is that the spy's father was a kind of unattached or nonconforming Lutheran minister at Neu-Freistett in 1760, and that Karl Schulmeister was born here on 5th August 1770, when Napoleon was about one year old. The meagre accounts which remain extant give us the picture of a village boy of respectable position whose character bore a striking resemblance to that which Robert Clive earned among the townspeople of Market Drayton in his early years. Schulmeister, at the age of twelve, was the acknowledged leader of the local band of youthful marauders and scapegraces—hooligans we would call them in these days. At the age of seventeen he had already become known as one of the most accomplished smugglers on the Franco-German frontier, a business, it is [60]noteworthy, in which he engaged, either personally or by proxy, to the closing years of his life. At the age of twenty-two he married an Alsatian maid called Unger, and established himself in two distinct trades which his considerable smuggling operations were likely to render lucrative at the time. In after years, however, when he had become the lord of a château and large pleasance, and preferred to be known as Monsieur de Meinau, the spy was prone to overlook the fact that he had at one time kept a provision shop and an ironmongery at Neu-Freistett. Smuggling he was always willing to admit, and for the reason that in Revolutionary times, when life was accounted cheap, it required much courage and resource, he said, to become a successful smuggler. Undoubtedly the experience he acquired in this dangerous trade had called for many of the mental qualities which were to serve him so well in his after-career.

About 1799 he was introduced to Colonel Savary, afterwards to become the Duc de Rovigo, who was then engaged on a minor commissarial mission for the Directory in Alsatian countries. Savary was evidently one of those fortunate individuals on whom the gift of sensing great events to come appears to be bestowed, and, like all of his kind, he had both the eye for useful men and the talent for attaching them. An acuminous judge of character, he was first attracted to Schulmeister by the latter's cool audacity and splendid resource in the conduct of perilous smuggling enterprises, [61]though whether, as it is said, Savary was himself anxious to share in the very liberal profits of the smuggler's trade, is not so clear. It is certain, however, that the rising soldier and the prosperous contrabandist continued to meet and to correspond, so that in 1804, being commissioned to allure a princely emigré across the French frontier, in accordance with Napoleon's resolve to put a term to conspiracies against his power by sacrificing the blood of a Bourbon, Savary at once remembered his friend Karl Schulmeister. The man who had so long and successfully eluded the excise officials at the frontier would in all probability, he argued, prove easily equal to the task of trapping a royalist on the wrong side of the international boundary-line.

Entrusting the conduct of his business operations to his wife, Schulmeister visited Savary at Besançon early in March 1804. Here he was definitely instructed by the French General—Savary had been promoted to this rank in 1803—in the details of the intrigue which was to bring about the capture of the young Duc d'Enghien, whose murder had been resolved upon by the authority in Paris, its object being to strike terror into the royalist camp and clear the way towards a larger rôle for Bonaparte. Enghien was at that time a young man of thirty-two resident in the territory of the Grand Duke of Baden close to the French frontier. Proscribed like all the members of his House, he was admittedly a man in whom a taste for political [62]intrigue counted for little, too far removed from possible succession to the throne of France to be seriously suspected of ambitious designs and, from what his contemporaries assure us, one who represented the best type of his royal race. That harshness of lot which was common to the emigré of every rank in those times did not spare the young Duc, who lived in very unpretending fashion at Ettenheim, a harmless dependent on the bounty of England. Historical inquiry into details connected with the residence of the young Bourbon in Baden has entirely removed from him all suspicion of having been in any way privy to a conspiracy against the First Consul. It was the Duc's custom often to visit Strassburg, where lived a lady friend who was to prove a cruelly unconscious agent in the intrigue which brought about her lover's destruction.

In accordance with the plans which Schulmeister laid down for the trapping of Enghien, this lady, to whom the Bourbon was passionately attached, was taken one morning by emissaries of the spy, conveyed to Belfort across the French border and interned at a country house near the frontier, the reasons given for her detention being that she had become an object of suspicion to the omnipotent French authority. In the lady's name, a letter was then forged by Schulmeister, purporting to come from her to Enghien at Ettenheim, retailing the misadventure and asking her lover to use whatever means he could to procure her release from the country house. This implicit appeal to [63]his chivalry was sufficient for the Duc, who, on 14th March, decided to see if by bribery he could not himself effect the release of his mistress. Acting just as the astute Schulmeister had foreseen, Enghien left Ettenheim with two attendants before midnight of the 14th, and it was at a hamlet in Baden territory close to the frontier and near Lorrach, that the spy's emissaries, all on the alert and noting the opportunity of an easy capture, seized upon his person. Thence the prince was conveyed to Strassburg, from which city he was taken to Vincennes, where, having undergone a mock-trial, he was executed on 20th March at dawn, his gaolers forcing him to hold a lantern so that the bullets might find their mark. It may be remembered that one of Enghien's last requests was for permission to send a letter to his lady friend, who, as soon as she had ceased to serve any further purpose, was quickly released by Schulmeister. This letter, it may be presumed, would have conveyed the Duc's explanation for the reasons which had prevented him from coming to his mistress's aid as she had requested. It is said that Savary, for whom the capture of Enghien meant the certain continuance of Napoleon's favour, paid the spy blood-money equal to £6000 for his successful entrapping of the Bourbon prince.

Schulmeister was presented to the notice of Napoleon by his patron Savary in 1805. "Here is a man who is all brain and no heart, Sire," said the General. Our spy has left a short description [64]of Napoleon of those days, which contains, as far as the writer knows, the only record of the quality of the great soldier's voice, a more important index of personality than is generally supposed. According to Schulmeister, Napoleon's voice was high-pitched, but crisp and with a certain stridency, while his habit of speaking through the teeth seemed also to give his utterances a peculiarly hissing sound. For the rest, the spy does not appear to have carried away a marked impression of the conqueror's personal appearance. The great soldier seems to have treated the spy with a playful interest and kindliness, and by the spring of 1805 we find that Schulmeister had received a commission from him to report upon the coastal towns of the south of England. It is also said that the spy visited Ireland, where he made it his business to become acquainted with the remnants of the rebels of 1798, who still placed a somewhat simple trust in Napoleon's vague promise, expressed, if at all, through third parties, that he would some day consider the question of attacking England through Ireland, granting her independence to the latter. Whether or not the English and Irish visits were ever paid, it is certain that Napoleon, in thinking out the campaign of 1805, especially remembered the existence of Karl Schulmeister—in itself a rare tribute to the spy's ability from a master-judge of clever and useful agents. Napoleon, as we gather from historical writers like Paul Muller, did not place an absolute [65]confidence in the reliability of non-military spies. "The spy is a natural traitor" was his expressed view of the species. As a rule the Emperor trusted to his military intelligence department to supply him with all that information upon which he based his complex strategic and tactical calculations. The Austerlitz campaign in view, not so much of the momentous political contingencies inherent in the whole event, differed from others, however, as to the character of some of the most prominent actors engaged. It was on this account that an apparently insignificant person like Schulmeister came to play, in the stirring political drama of 1805, a rôle which in its way was almost as helpful to Napoleon as his own genius in elaborating that memorable episode.

It is well known that the Emperor, more than all other generals, and true to the maxims of Polyænus, made it invariably his business to learn all he could about the personality and character of any commander with whom he was about to measure himself. With Alvinzy, Wurmser, Beaulieu, the Archduke Charles and Mélas, Napoleon had fought different types of battles based to a large extent on the personal qualities and disposition of the general whom he happened to be opposing. In the early months of 1805, Napoleon, always well served by his regular diplomatic agents, may be trusted to have known the names and characters of most of the commanders to whom Austria and Russia were about to entrust the command of their armies in the [66]campaign which all Europe knew to be inevitable. As to the attributes of Field-Marshal Mack, then a man of fifty-three, he can have had but few illusions and well knew that family influence, rather than the possession of real ability, had given the Austrian his high position in the military councils of his country. In Mack was a dull simplicity of mind, unusual to a man of his class, added to the fatal quality of allowing himself easily to be influenced by others. Conditions in the Austrian army, which had within recent years suffered a series of reverses at the hands of both Bonaparte and Moreau, lent themselves easily to irregular influences, a fact which had not escaped the penetration of Napoleon. Mack, again, was anxious to atone for his defeat by the French in 1797 and was prepared to take advantage of any opportunity which should give him in the conflict a superiority over the conqueror of Italy and Austria.

In the summer of 1805 that opportunity presented itself in the form of a letter which was addressed to him from one Karl Schulmeister, who, like many well-educated Alsatians, spoke and wrote French and German equally well. The writer in the course of a lengthy communication informed the Field-Marshal that he had been removed across the French frontier by Napoleon's orders, on the ground that he was an Austrian spy. Schulmeister admitted the facts. He had been moved, he wrote, out of pure love of his country and hatred of Napoleon, to act the spy [67]through the imperial armies of France, as to the equipment, plans, intentions and organisation of which he was perfectly well acquainted. All this information he was willing to give up on the condition of being allowed to serve on the staff of the Austrian army. Then followed an account of his Hungarian ancestry and many other details which need not be particularised here. It is sufficient to say that Mack eagerly seized the opportunity of possessing himself of the services of a man who knew all about the French army, and engaged him as secret-service agent on his own particular account. The spy, who had visited Vienna in order to meet the Field-Marshal, was furthermore given military rank, and Mack procured him—on the ground of his noble Hungarian descent, with forged attestations as to which Napoleon's agents had supplied him at his own request—membership of some of the most exclusive military clubs in the Austrian capital. As his supply of money, coming as it did from Napoleon's long purse, was practically unlimited, Schulmeister, the ex-smuggler and actual spy, became an easy favourite in some of the most exclusive circles in the proudest society in Europe.

A description of the chief spy is given by M. de Gassicourt, a member of the medical suite of Napoleon: "Schulmeister is a man of rare courage and imperturbable presence of mind. He is made for great activities, his shoulders being broad, his chest deep, his body not tall, but [68]capable of sustained exertions. His face is like an impenetrable mask." A German writer—an anonymous journalist in the Courier du Bas-Rhin, who has written much about the spy's career—describes Schulmeister as "one who ever seemed to affect the air of a man on whom the safety of the State depended." While absolutely incapable of the commonest feelings of humanity where strict business was concerned, as in the murder of Enghien, the spy appears to have considered it an indispensable part of his social equipment to waltz like a gentleman of the old court of Versailles, and with this momentous object in view employed the services of the most eminent dancing masters. His manners were said to be excellent by men who were sufficiently good judges, and, in any case, he must have acquired considerable polish to have passed muster in Austrian society of that age. He had not been long in Vienna, at all events, before he had attached to his own service, and of course for cash considerations, two well-known military men, who, when Mack took command of his army in the autumn of 1805, accompanied him to the Front, Schulmeister also proceeding thither as head of the military intelligence department attached to Mack's forces. During all this time he successfully contrived to keep closely in touch with Napoleon, from whom he was now taking sums of money for necessary expenditure and salary which, according to documents in the National Archives of France, containing much of the spy's correspondence, [69]amounted to a sum equal to at least £20,000 per annum of our own money. Like most of the spy species, Schulmeister was a high liver, although Napoleon, a hard enough critic of accounts of all kinds, never laid any complaint to his charge on the ground of unnecessary extravagance.

Mack, as we have seen, was one of those men who easily surrender their will-power to bolder spirits. Accordingly, Schulmeister, who possessed the Austrian's complete confidence and who was well assisted by his Austrian fellow-spies, Wend and Rulski, acting on the instructions transmitted to him by Napoleon's headquarters, kept the Field-Marshal, by means of forged communications purporting to come from traitors in the French camp, falsely informed as to the movements of the three advancing imperial armies. As an aristocrat and a convinced supporter of all feudalistic forms and ideals, Mack was easily led to believe that the newly established throne of the Corsican received but half-hearted adherence from the French people. Napoleon even had newspapers especially printed which were to be shown to Mack in order to strengthen this impression. According, also, to letters supplied by the spy, Napoleon, who had left Paris with Vienna as his objective, had been forced to return with the greater part of his armies in order to quell a revolution which had broken out against his throne on his departure from the French capital. Coincident reports, supplied by [70]Schulmeister's paid collaborants, seemed to point to the truth of the Alsatian's startling intelligence, and acting upon it, the Austrian Field-Marshal, with an army of 30,000 men, issued from the city of Ulm in pursuit of what he thought to be the retreating French armies only to find himself surrounded by a ring of steel, or what Napoleon was wont to term his "necklace" manœuvre, Soult, Marmont, Lannes, Ney, Dupont and Murat closing him in on all sides. The memorable capitulation of the city, a pivotal point in the set strategy of Austria's military plans for the campaign of 1805, followed at once, Mack paying the penalty of what was for long thought to be an act of treachery, by being deprived of his rank, with a further punishment of two years in a military fortress. As for Schulmeister himself, his audacity never showed itself more conspicuously than in the immediate sequel. Not content with having practically assured to Napoleon the success of what is known as the Austerlitz campaign, admittedly the most spectacular of all the Emperor's military exploits, the spy, after Mack's disgrace, repaired to Vienna, where in the chief military councils, which were attended by the Emperor Francis and the Emperor of Russia, he is said to have counselled plans which were sure, he said, to enable the Allies to offset the disaster of Ulm and redeem the situation. Strange though it appears, his views, supported as usual by forged letters of intelligence, were applauded by the military commanders present, and the result was [71]the shattering of the Austro-Russian armies at Austerlitz on 2nd December 1805. On the morrow of that memorable conflict, the spy was arrested at the instance of highly placed persons in Vienna who had long suspected him. The timely arrival of the French saved him, however, from a felon's fate, and it is said that by January 1806 he was back in Paris, boasting to his friends of the large amounts of money he had accumulated out of payments made to him not only by the French but also by the—Austrians!

It is impossible to trace Schulmeister in anything like recordful fashion between 1806 and 1809. His name is occasionally mentioned in connection with the missions of Savary, who always gave his confidence to the spy and entrusted him on occasion with rendering military and political reports in hostile territory, and experts agree in the opinion that these reports were drawn up with the skill and precision of an exceptionally well-endowed critic of strategic and diplomatic values. On Napoleon's second visit to Vienna, the spy was appointed censor over theatres, publishing houses, religious establishments and newspapers, and as indicating his possession of a large political sense, it may be pointed out that he had the works of Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, Montesquieu and Holbach translated and scattered broadcast among the various races of Austria-Hungary, in furtherance of the liberal ideas of the Revolution which [72]Napoleon claimed to represent. All these productions had up till that time been included on the Index, political as well as religious. In 1809, for a short season, he occupied the important position of commissary-general of the imperial armies in the field. At Landshut he distinguished himself by leading a troop of hussars in person and capturing several important positions. In the same year he reappeared in Strassburg, still under Savary's orders, and in the course of a revolt which he was called upon to quell, distinguished himself by blowing out the brains of one of the most violent agitators, the trouble ceasing forthwith. At Strassburg he was always at home and to the very end held his popularity among all classes.

Some years previously he had purchased in the neighbourhood of his old home the important Château Le Meinau and in 1807 had become also the proprietor of an estate called De Piple, not far from Paris. In that year, too, he began to use the territorial distinction—Monsieur de Meinau. At both mansions people knew him for his lavish hospitalities, the magnificence of his receptions and routs, his unfailing generosity to the poor of his districts and, above all, for his love of little children—this last trait an easily comprehensible transition, it may be supposed, from the vicious intrigues of his complex trade, to the confiding simplicity of guileless minds. His property was said in those years to be worth the equivalent of £200,000, some said much [73]more, and it is quite certain that Napoleon rewarded him generously for his undoubted services to the imperial throne.

His last important work in an official capacity was executed also in 1809 when, through the influence of the ever-obliging Savary, Schulmeister was appointed by Napoleon to act as chief of the secret police during that famous Congress of Erfurt to which the Corsican commanded the presence of nearly all the sovereign princes of Continental Europe. In the voluminous correspondence which the spy conducted—his particular Atticus being Savary—Schulmeister, whose pen was clearly as fluent as his wits were nimble, keeps his patron, who, it will be remembered, afterwards succeeded Fouché as head of the French ministry of police, in full touch with the intrigues of that historic gathering of European celebrities. None was too low or unweighty, nor any too highly placed to escape the often hypercritical and always interesting comments of the all-observing spy. The result is that apart from details bearing on the political significance of the Congress we are also regaled with tittle-tattle concerning the often far from dignified relations of the Tsar Alexander, as well as other august personages, with the subsidiary grand army of demi-mondaines who had taken advantage of the opportunity afforded them by the afflux of wealthy princes and nobles from every capital, to accumulate profit during the process of the congressional sun. The Corsican, with his omnivorous sense of [74]intrigue, laid particular emphasis on the necessity of closely watching the movements of Russia's Emperor, whose taste in venal characters of the hetaira type was often in the inverse ratio of his exalted station. Napoleon, indeed, found himself more than once under the necessity of reproving the Imperial Muscovite whose attentions to a celebrated French actress with whom the Corsican himself had once been on the best of terms, very much perturbed him. "Visit that woman," he said, with the coarseness of the soldier, "and to-morrow all Europe will know what your physical proportions are from the ground up." Schulmeister had even explicit orders to note the movements of the fair Queen Louise of Prussia, her personal attractions for the Tsar also providing a source of much soul-burning to the French Emperor, who, whether he were well informed or not, allowed no opportunity to escape him of aspersing the much-humiliated Queen to Alexander. Goethe himself, despite all the admiration the Corsican professed for the Sage of Weimar, was not sacred from Napoleon's agent. The insistent "ce Monsieur de Goet'—qui voit-il?" was hardly less frequent on imperial lips than that other demand: "Et l'Empereur Alexandre—où a-t-il passé la nuit dernière?" These were types of implicit instructions which were daily issued to his spy by the sometimes least dignified of sovereigns.

Readers of the Imperial legend will remember well the young General Lasalle, Napoleon's most [75]famous leader of light cavalry. This soldier was also the possessor of many of those characteristics which we are accustomed to associate with that harmless enough social type which is described by the term, "funny man." The General's peculiar aptitude for cutting strange and grotesque figures, his talent for distorting his features into the most singular of grimaces, his capacity for assimilating strong drinks, as well as his unfailing geniality with all sorts of men, were traits as well known to the Army as the theatrical dress-manias of Murat, or the boastfulness of General Rapp. It is not surprising to learn, therefore, that Schulmeister, between 1800 and 1809—Lasalle was killed at Wagram, in the latter year—was on terms of great intimacy with the young General. Well aware of the high favour with which Napoleon regarded his cavalry leader, Schulmeister confided to the latter the secret of his great ambition. He had riches, he said, far beyond his needs and everything, indeed, which was capable of satisfying the heart of ambitious man. He lacked, however, the one especial decoration on which his aspirations were set. That was—of all things—the Legion of Honour! The bestowal of that distinction would, he declared, cap his noblest and most honourable ambitions. Would Lasalle use his undoubted influence with the Emperor to procure him that supreme testimony of Imperial good will? The General, accordingly, informed Napoleon of his chief spy's aspiration only (a writer says) to draw [76]from the great soldier what was probably the only horse-laugh in which the conqueror had ever indulged. "Schulmeister," said the Emperor, "may have all the money he wants, but the Legion of Honour—never!" With the Emperor himself the spy was, nevertheless, on terms which were cordial enough. It was Napoleon's custom to address him by his Christian name "Karl," and, in the presence of others particularly, to twit him, often in the most cruel terms, on the despicable nature of his trade. The Emperor's refusal to include him among the wearers of the famous Order which he founded is not to be explained on very logical grounds, seeing that the decoration was worn by soldiers like Radet, whose chief business in the Army seemed to be the execution of, frankly, dirty jobs, from the performance of which the far from squeamish officers of the Corsican shrank with wholesome aversion. Such, for example, was the invasion of the Vatican and the arrest of a harmless old Bishop like Pius VII., or the supervision of the incarcerated Black Cardinals who had refused in 1810, on religious grounds, to attend the church ceremony which gave Napoleon a second wife in the person of Marie Louise.

On the advent of this Austrian Archduchess to share the Imperial throne, Viennese influence at the Court of Napoleon began to count in Paris as an important enough factor. Sufficiently important, at any rate, to put a term to the activities of the man who had been to a great extent [77]responsible for the debâcle of Austria's military and political schemes in 1805. Schulmeister accordingly disappeared from Paris, selling his estate near Paris and retiring to his splendid property at Meinau, where his popularity with the Alsatians was so great as to justify the belief that the spy was generously endowed with many qualities other than those which had led him to adopt the trade of espionage. "He is a spy," his countrymen used to say, "but surely also a gallant man." In 1814, during the invasion of France, a regiment of Austrian artillery was especially detailed to demolish his mansion and to destroy as much of his personal property as possible. The spy returned to Paris during the Hundred Days, only to be arrested when Napoleon left for Belgium. He was released on paying over so large a ransom that his fortune was permanently crippled. On the return of the Bourbons, all his attempts to play a social rôle were severely frowned down by the friends of his prosperous days, and with the small remnants of a fortune which unfortunate speculations had now reduced to the vanishing point, he returned to Alsace, there to live a life of lean days and pathetic obscurity. As late as 1840 he was the keeper of a bureau de tabac, one of those tobacco stalls which are given to Frenchmen as a solatium for public services in the lower grades. He was alive in 1850 when the Prince-President toured through Alsace, but refused to bring himself to the notice of the nephew of Napoleon. The President called on him, however, vouchsafing [78]him an honour which he had never received from the great Captain—namely, a handshake. He died in 1853 and was buried near his wife and parents in the cemetery of Saint Urbain in Strassburg.



On studying the career of Nathan Hale, who, with Major André, owes his historicity to the American War of Independence, one is conscious of being in touch with a character at once dangerous and difficult, to quote the words in which an eminent English statesman has described the mystic who is at the same time a practical man. In Hale, as his private correspondence clearly shows, there was every indication that an otherwise reasonable and lovable disposition was supplemented by a deep-running current of that hard fanaticism which has ever marked your descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers. Like his fellow-spy André, Hale was a man whose social and intellectual gifts were of an important order, while the admitted excellence of the man's private character, as well as his high sense of personal honour, go a long way to justify the opinion generally held by Americans regarding the motives which induced Hale to enter into the business of spying—according to that view, a pure love of the principle of liberty, which prompted him to risk his life in the service of his country. "Spies," says Vattel, "are usually condemned to capital punishment and not unjustly, there being hardly any other way [80]of preventing the mischief which they do. For this reason a man of honour who would not expose himself to die by the hand of a common executioner, ever declines serving as a spy. He considers such work disgraceful, as it can seldom be done without some kind of treachery." Hale himself gave recorded expression, however, to his view of the matter when he said that, "every kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honourable by being necessary"—a view which is quite in keeping with that mysticism which ever characterises the fanatic who claims the support of spiritual principles for his acts. Again, Hale declared: "I wish to be useful. If the exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service, its claims to the performance of that service are imperious." André, on the other hand, stated that in the ill-starred enterprise into which he threw himself, he was mainly "actuated by a thirst for military glory, the applause of his countrymen and perhaps a brigadiership"—clearly a true megalomaniac. Indeed, André's last words gave the key to the large personal vanity which underlay his undoubtedly interesting character: "I call upon you all, gentlemen, to bear witness that I die like a brave man." Hale indicated a purely ethical or religious attachment to the ideas inherent in Independence doctrines of liberty, when he made his last utterance: "I only regret that I have but one life to sacrifice for my country"—the true spirit of the Coliseum martyr. The [81]young American was willing to give up life itself for his idea of liberty.

The Hale family, originally of the Kentish family of that name, had been settled since 1635 in various parts of the New England States, the country of the Puritan settlers. The parents of Richard and Elizabeth Hale were, it is on record, of the strictest sect of Puritans of their day. The Bible was to them the speaking voice of the Almighty, says a friend of the family; their admirable civic virtues were also based upon the religion that was in them and they respected the Law because they recognised its divine origin. Records still extant emphasise the important fact that the domestic life of the Hale family was one in which practical religion played a leading part. Nathan Hale was born in 1755, the sixth of twelve children, and from his earliest days was destined for the ministry. With this object he was entered at Yale College in 1771, after an uneventful village life in the course of which he gave evidence of a more than usually studious nature. Of the famous American University he became a graduate in 1773, leaving there in that year to take up the profession of teaching. All contemporary writers agree in attributing to young Hale a singularly engaging personality as well as a presence which was conspicuous among men whose physical excellence was of a splendid type. "Six feet high, perfectly proportioned, in figure and deportment, he was the most manly man I ever saw," wrote an enthusiastic college friend, [82]who added the interesting fact that "all the girls in New Haven fell in love with him and wept tears of real sorrow when they heard of his sad fate. Ever willing to lend a helping hand to a being in distress, brute or human, he was overflowing with good humour and the idol of his acquaintances." During his university days Hale had made a mark in the debating society and his political speeches were remarkable, it is recorded, for a strong advocacy of those principles of personal liberty which had reached America by way of France, then in the final stage of that academic propaganda which was so soon to precipitate the catastrophe of the Revolution. Determined to devote his life to teaching, and with a view to obtaining ultimately a professorship at his old university, Hale settled down to the prosaic enough life of a New England schoolmaster, devoting his extra-professional hours to the study of science, ethics and literature.

The outbreak of the War of Independence with the battle of Lexington, 19th April 1775, upset the philosophic dreams of the Connecticut teacher. Throughout the New England States, action was at once and almost unanimously called for, and among those who became earnest advocates of patriotic endeavour, young Hale began to take a prominent place. "Let us march at once," he cried, "nor ever lay down our arms till we have obtained our independence." Hale was, indeed, the first speaker to voice the popular notion of freedom from the union with Great Britain. In [83]co-operation with kindred spirits, he set about the forming of a local regiment for immediate service at the Front. He himself eventually enlisted in Webb's corps, a kind of territorial organisation for local defence. In 1775 Hale was present with his regiment at the siege of Boston, where his conspicuous activities won him a captaincy. The British were driven from that city in March 1776 and sailed for Halifax, the American forces in their turn moving on New York. That Hale's patriotism was of a purely disinterested kind would seem to be shown by the fact that he himself paid for the services of many of his enlisted men. At New York Hale distinguished himself at once by capturing a British vessel carrying large supplies, a midnight raid of much danger which secured for his regiment provisions for a lengthy subsistence and to himself the notice of General Washington, by whom he was presently to be entrusted with the carrying out of a mission the successful results of which must react decisively on the whole war. The commission entrusted to Hale was nothing less than the penetration of the enemy's plan of campaign, an absolutely necessary condition of success for the Revolutionary commanders and for the following reasons:—

After the various actions which compelled the retreat of the insurgents from Long Island, the main American army in Manhattan, owing to the demoralised state of its men, ill-clad, half-starved and unpaid as they were, seemed to be [84]on the point of dissolution. In a force which on paper totalled 20,000 men, desertion and disease had discounted one-third of the numbers. Opposed to them was a British army of 25,000 strong, supported by a powerful naval force. Its soldiers were veterans who had already tasted success and were magnificently equipped with artillery, stores and war-munitions of every sort. The military crux which confronted Washington was the defence or the abandonment of New York, the strategic key of the existing military situation. Unable, owing to inaction to which his topographical position as well as the hesitations of Congress condemned him, to divine the real intentions of the British, Washington instructed his lieutenants to obtain at all hazards correct information as to the designs of the enemy's generals. "Leave no stone unturned," he wrote to General Heath, "nor do not stick at expense to bring this to pass, as I was never more uneasy than on account of my want of knowledge on this score." The vital matter was to find out at which point, if at all, the British intended to attack New York. Such being the situation, it was decided to send a competent observer in disguise into the British lines on Long Island, in order to penetrate the momentous secret, and Nathan Hale volunteered for the execution of the perilous undertaking.

It is recorded that when Colonel Knowlton, on calling the insurgent officers together, suggested that one of them should volunteer his services [85]for what was undoubtedly the work of a spy, a murmur of indignation went round the room. Many of the officers in bitter terms reproached the Colonel for having dared to carry such a suggestion to men of honour, even from Washington himself. Knowlton replied that he was only carrying out his General's instructions, but nevertheless managed to insinuate in his reply that the reward in the way of promotion for the successful achievement of the mission would be proportioned to the danger with which it was undoubtedly fraught. His fellow-officers, to whom Hale's high spirit and probity were well-known characteristics, little expected that the Captain would prove the very first to undertake the work of a common spy. Nevertheless Hale was the only man, among a band of men of undoubted courage, who could be found to respond to the suggestion. His friends, in no way deterred, indeed, rather encouraged, by the presence of Knowlton, whose proposal they considered as an insult, used all the arts of persuasion at their command to turn him from his purpose, but without success. Hale in accepting the perilous commission addressed them as follows:—

"Gentlemen, I think I owe to my country the accomplishment of an object so important and so much desired by the commander of her armies, and I know no mode of obtaining the information but by assuming a disguise and passing into the enemy's camp. I am fully sensible of the consequences of discovery and capture in such a [86]situation. But for a year I have been attached to the Army and have not rendered any material service while receiving a compensation for which I make no return. Yet am I not influenced by any expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honourable by being necessary. If the exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service its claims to the performance of that service become imperious."

On the same afternoon Hale met Washington for the second time, receiving from the General instructions with regard to the perilous task he had undertaken. He was also given a general order addressed to American shipmasters to convey Captain Hale to any part of Long Island on which he might desire to land. Sundown already saw him on his way, accompanied by a sergeant and a boatman, to a point fifty miles north of New York, Norwalk, where there was a safe crossing of the Sound into territory occupied by British forces. Dismissing his companions at dawn on 15th September, and exchanging into the brown civilian dress and Quaker hat common to that period, Hale ferried across the narrow water, instructing his retainers at the last moment to await him at the same spot with a boat on 20th September. Reaching Huntington Bay on the other side, he assumed the character of a schoolmaster who, disgusted with the course of the Revolutionary cause, had come to pursue his profession in surroundings more congenial to his [87]political and social tastes. His appearance and speech both carried conviction to all with whom he conversed; he was made free of the British lines, visited all the camps on Long Island, making observations openly and drawing up memoranda, written in Latin, as well as plans, in the privacy of his room. In the meantime, the British had invaded Manhattan and captured New York, so that as far as the penetration of the designs of English commanders was concerned, Hale had really made his excursion to little purpose beyond what he had achieved in the gathering of military information on Long Island. Having heard of the British success, he retraced his steps in the direction of Norwalk, and on 18th September, at sundown, found himself again at Huntington Bay, where he had first landed on his mission. Wearing coarse shoes with loose inner soles, under which he was able comfortably to conceal his drawings and memoranda, and still in the plain dress of a middle-class citizen, he felt secure in the disguise which had already carried him so happily through the perils of many British camps. Accordingly he entered a famous tavern "The Cedars" and asked for a night's lodging. At his entrance, a number of persons were in the lounge, and one of them, a man whose face he seemed to recollect, suddenly rose and left the place. Hale spent the night at the hostelry and at dawn left for the waterside in quest of the boat which he had ordered to be ready. Agreeably surprised to find his supposed boatman so punctual, he gaily saluted [88]an approaching skiff which was carrying several men. Hastening to the beach in expectation of meeting his friends, he discovered to his dismay that the boat was manned by British marines. Flight was impossible; he was seized, taken aboard and conveyed to the British guard-ship Halifax. His capture, it is said, had been brought about by the stranger whom he had recognised the previous night at "The Cedars," a distant cousin of disreputable habits, who had betrayed him to the British. Proper warrant is, however, lacking for this part of the story. Inevitably his captors found full proofs of the purport of his adventure and he was conveyed to the headquarters of General Howe who, on the evidence of the concealed papers, summarily condemned him to death by hanging.

In the presence of Howe Hale frankly admitted his rank and mission. "I was present," wrote a British officer who was an eye-witness of the closing scenes, "and observed that the frankness, the manly bearing and the evidently disinterested patriotism of the handsome young prisoner sensibly touched a tender chord of General Howe's nature; but the stern rule of war concerning such offences would not allow him to exercise even pity."

As might be expected from such a man, Hale met his doom with the iron firmness of one who is convinced of the righteousness of his purpose. His last requests to Cunningham, the provost-marshal who supervised the execution, were [89]refused, and even his poor, hurriedly written letters to his mother, his sisters and his youthful betrothed, Alice Adams, were ruthlessly destroyed before his face. There was, indeed, a real nobility about the whole person and demeanour of Hale which, as is commonly enough the case, called forth the brutality and coarseness of the completely opposite nature of Cunningham, who jeeringly requested the doomed youth to make his dying speech. And Hale replied, in words which still ring in the spirit of the Independence Fathers:

"I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country."



James M'Parlan, a North-of-Ireland man, must be ranked among the most successful spies in modern times and for the good reason that he was mainly instrumental in breaking up one of the most lawless and terrible conspiracies against public order and private liberty which any state has yet been called upon to suppress. Its home was Pennsylvania, its name the "Molly Maguires," and to find a parallel to its iniquitous arts and methods one must go to the Klux Klan, the Corsican Vendetta or the White Veil society of the Middle Ages in Italy. As the discovery of gold in Australia and California in the middle of the nineteenth century led to the commission of a vast amount of crime by reason of the peculiar character of the masses of adventurers who soon overran the gold-bearing regions, so also the discovery of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania led to the assembling of great camps of speculators and prospectors, wealthy capitalists and common labourers for whom the word Law meant next to nothing at all. The comparatively unorganised condition of new towns which had sprung up as if by magic in the anthracite zones made Pennsylvania in those days a likely jumping-off ground [91]for any man who possessed good physique, a brutal bearing, a disregard of private rights and the ability to impose his ideas upon a band of men of his own kind and kidney. Knowing what we know of the enterprising courage of many types of Irishmen and their talent for the business of pioneering, it is not difficult to imagine that they swarmed to the valuable coal regions of the Quaker State in legions proportionate to the vast immigrant hordes of their countrymen that were then flowing into every port of the United States. Great settlements consisting only of Irishmen sprang up at once in the mining districts of Pennsylvania and this new Irish colony separated automatically into as many divisions as there were counties in Ireland itself, each section carrying with it all the local pride, prejudice and other characteristics which had marked it within its geographical bounds in the old home. In fact a New Ireland sprang up in Quaker State hardly differentiable from the Old.

Most people who have read the story of Ireland divested of that halo of cloistral romance, sentiment and song, which presents Erin in the mellow light of a land of untroubled repose, are well aware that in all its recorded ages, paying due credit to its title to religiosity, it has been a country which for inter-racial animosities and political divisions is comparable only with that aggregation of states which until historical research and record had presented them as they truly were, [92]once bore the half-sacred name of Greece. In Ireland the man of the North differs from the man of the South and rarely likes him, the people of the West do not understand the masses of the East and do not want to; we have the stout Men of Munster who scorn the Scottish Huguenots of the North as alien intruders, while the Gentleman of Leinster affects to despise his hard-working and thrifty countryman from Connaught. In a land like this it is not hard to imagine that those who possess a talent for prospering by the promotion of political intrigue and secret societies find themselves at once in an element which is entirely congenial to themselves and their schemes, as well as fruitful of profit in every sense of the word. Their objects, too, are made all the more easily attainable by reason of that peculiar trait in the Irishman's temper which makes him regard an act of treachery to the covenants of any secret organisation, no matter what its objects, as the most hateful of all traitorous acts. It has been well said, indeed, that in Ireland "to inform of a crime is nearly always considered as bad as the crime itself, and to such an extent has this feeling developed that it has become a part of the Irish character and is universal in its application." In a large measure owing to this contempt of the informer by Irishmen, all manner of crime has at all times and in all places gone undetected in every part of the world where Irishmen have developed large Irish settlements, and it was precisely for the foregoing reasons that the great [93]Molly Maguire Conspiracy was, in the first place, able to come into existence and, in the second, able by the black secrecy attending upon its criminal operations, to mystify the authorities of a great State of the Union for more than a generation. The long series of murders committed by this infamous body in the Pennsylvania coal regions were revolting and brutal to the most cold-blooded degree, were entirely without the barest elements of justification, and for the most part were perpetrated for grievances of a wholly childish and imaginary kind, based mainly on mere personal dislike or other trivial reasons of the sort.

The iniquitous exploits of "Boycott" propagandism in Land League days, which possessed at least a semblance of political motive underlying them, were respectable when compared with the foul and wanton killings of the Molly Maguires in America—a body, it may here be said, which derived its peculiar name from the fact that to every warning its agents addressed to an intended victim there was invariably attached the generic signature "Molly Maguire." An unfriendly attitude towards the Mollies, the least suspicion of being anxious to uproot them, common race feeling, and, as we have said, simple personal dislike were each and all sufficient to bring upon any man visitation from the band in the form of a card bearing the fateful name. Private and public denunciation and the dispatch of threatening letters invariably preceded the killing which [94]was not only not to be denounced, but which was to be treated by all who knew of its commission as if it had never taken place. The mangled Molly Maguire corpse came, accordingly, to rank in a class by itself among all other corpses, enshrouded as it usually was with a general and sacrosanct mystery regarding the manner in which life had come to leave it. Murders were commonly committed during the dinner-hour of the miners who, so frequent was a crime, would go on calmly eating their meal while a fellow-man was being dispatched to a happier world than this not fifty yards away; and if his bloody passing called up a feeling of pity in the breast of one of the diners, it was only to be squelched at once with the chorus "Shure wasn't the man war-rned"—meaning that a man might be warned of possessing too ambitious a wife, or the fact that he was "putting on th'airs iv a jintleman," or that he may have been trying to ingratiate himself into the favour of a capitalist who happened not to be in sympathy with Irishmen, or, indeed, perhaps that he had been seen "iv a Sunda' wearin' peg-top throusers, no less." On receipt of a card bearing the signature of doom, if the recipient did not desist from "anny of the said coorses," he had only himself to blame if a band of Mollies visited him one fine night and bludgeoned his body into releasing the soul.

One of the chief shareholders of a great coal-bearing area, Franklin Goven by name, decided, to his lasting credit and with the support of all [95]right-minded Irishmen in America, to subsidise from his own pocket a movement to destroy this band of chartered assassins. Acting in concert with important public men in Philadelphia, he applied to the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency for the assistance of an expert in tracking the organisation to its original sources and destroying it for good and all. After full preliminary inquiries, the Agency decided that the ramifications of the secret organisation were so complex and so comprehensive that the real truth as to the operation of its methods could only be reached by planting a spy amidst the very band itself. To this end were enlisted the services of M'Parlan, who under the name of M'Kenna set about the destruction of one of the foulest criminal societies yet known to the world. Mack, as he became known ever afterwards, accordingly began, in 1873, his almost hopeless task of tracing the source of the perpetration of some hundred murders which had taken place within a few years preceding, to make no mention of hundreds of maimings, mutilations and other horrors which were to be attributed to the same propagandism. From the outset it was discovered by Mack, in the course of preliminary goings and comings in the coal country, that connected with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a well-established benefit society chartered by the Legislature of the State, there was an inner movement composed of members of the Hibernians who were subsidising a criminal organisation of wide-reaching power [96]and influence, not unlike the Italian Black Hand society of our own day. It was clear that at the head of the society was an open and properly constituted body, and connected with it was a secret and criminal movement. Mack began his subsequent sleuth work in approved Irish fashion by becoming a regular customer at one of those low-class Pennsylvania coal-town drinking shops—"speak-easies" they are called by the police, who are well aware that many men who visit them are not the sort loudly to advertise the methods by which they make their living. Here he entered on friendly terms with the landlord, Patrick Dormer by name. Mack, it was certain, was a gifted soul and in every sense what your American so expressively terms "a good mixer"; could sing a rowdy song, foot it to the moving music and "cough up" the ready yarn when it came to his turn. Moreover, he could "keep his end up" when it meant replenishing the convivial glasses, while his passion for what is known as being in the thick of a purely personal mix-up soon made him the most popular Irishman in the coal zones. Most important of all, in view of his especial business, he was what is known among Americans as "a cold soak"—that is to say, he could saturate his system with fire-water and still command his intellect. While his boon companions washed their sodden brains publicly in their beer, Mack, always affecting to be easily susceptible to the effects of Old Crow, was quietly taking mental notes. Accordingly it was not [97]long before he discovered that his friends, when under the influence of Bacchus, were apt to give up certain secret pass-words. Having listened to one of these several times, he carefully learned the exact phrase, and soon after, finding the landlord alone, he invited him to take a drink. Leaning mysteriously over the counter he repeated the mystic pass-word.

"What," cried the astonished landlord, "are you one of them things?"—meaning a Molly Maguire.

"Troth, that's what they call me," replied the North-of-Ireland man.

Dormer unsuspectingly began from that day to treat Mack as one of the insiders, taking his word that he had been in the Hibernian Order at Buffalo, but had been obliged to leave on account of a serious crime. He was now, he confessed, in hiding, and consequently became an object of sympathy and solicitude to the Irishmen. When it came, however, to introducing Mack to genuine Hibernians, matters advanced less smoothly, since the self-styled Molly did not understand the "grip" and had only one single pass-word to back his claim. And so it happened that on the occasion of his being presented to one Cooney, a Molly of note and standing, the latter, having made certain signs which remained unanswered, jumped from his toady-chair declaring that Mack was an elemental liar. The spy brazened the matter out, boldly called the bar for drinks and pretending to have drunk too deeply fell in a [98]stupor to the floor. His enemy thereupon proposed to disintegrate the spy by jumping on him, but the "bunch" vetoed this proposal, Mack being admittedly a good fellow. Again Cooney took up the frenzied word, crying:

"I wouldn't take his oath to it acrast his mother's corp. No—not till he brung me a card from his body-master."

To Mack, still prone upon his vertebræ, this was good enough information. He was getting into it by degrees. The Mollies, then, had grips, pass-words, toasts, likewise body-masters; and as he snored, he also registered the facts. Cooney then "quit," and strangely enough Mack, so far from being molested by anyone, was actually taken to the hearts of the Mollies as one of themselves. Thereafter there remained but the inner ring to conquer and Mack, plentifully supplied with money—the result, he pretended, of nefarious tradings and misdoings—set about improving his position. By violent and reckless talk he soon won the confidence of his fellows and as he boasted of having borne a hand in crimes which had actually been perpetrated in years gone by, and of which, as a detective, he must have known the details, the local Mollies began to reflect that in Mack they possessed a "hunch"—that is to say, a man over whom they held a sword and who was at the same time in intelligence, intrepidity and means incomparably above his fellows. He was described about this time: five feet eight inches high, broad forehead, chestnut hair and of very [99]genial aspect. Accordingly Mack was chosen to be an active Molly. Subsequently and in the course of the judicial proceedings which finally broke up the Brotherhood, Mack was able to show that he had never once engaged in the commission of a planned crime and that by cipher and especially prearranged telegrams he was able in many cases to prevent the further commission of murders in the coal regions.

That the double-dealing duties which fell to Mack were of a perilous nature may be realised from the fact that after a few months in residence among the Mollies all his hair had fallen off, he had lost his eyebrows and his sight had become impaired. During this time his duties compelled him to make unwilling love—the lady was exigeante, worse luck—to the sister of a high-placed Molly in order to extract special information. And as for the quantities of vile whisky he had found himself forced to swallow round the low bars he frequented, Mack, commonly a sober soul, declared afterwards that this was in many ways the hardest part of his business. A period came, however, when suspicion began to throw its red eye upon him and his death, on general principles and as a possible spy, was finally decided upon. Other men might have excusably enough fled the place, but this was too brave a man to fail his employers just as he was on the point of penetrating to the mystic shrine of the organisation and finding out where "killing orders" came from. One Kehoe, it was, who [100]suspecting Mack for a spy, called a number of Mollies together and advocated the summary murder of the man. Evidently Kehoe knew something, for at this meeting he adjured his brethren to take rapid action. "For God's sake," he cried, "have him killed this very night that ever was, or half the countryside will hang."

Accordingly it was decided to put Mack to death and men were detailed to do the deed. On that evening, it was known, the spy was to arrive at the Shenandoah railway station, whence a long stretch of lonely roadway led to the townlet of that name. Mack arrived, the sole passenger, and, to his surprise, was met by none of the Brotherhood. This was a bad omen; but he decided to go on, and made his way to the hotel of one M'Andrew, whom he still considered to be his friend. Affecting the usual cordiality, he entered the house and parlour; but conversation becoming at once strained, he realised that serious business was in contemplation; two sentinels were placed outside the house, one Sweeny remaining in the room; he too got up dreamily and left, telling the landlord he was going home. Presently, however, he returned with a piece of snow which he carelessly threw at M'Andrew's feet, where it melted. This meant that time was short and nothing was being done—an established sign. M'Andrew looked at the spy, gave a groan and said: "My feet are sore, I must take off my boots," another sign which conveyed that as men were not coming in sufficient numbers, the [101]business of murdering Mack would have to be postponed. Mack, who, like all Mollies, was well armed, accordingly left the place, making for his lodgings by the highway. Once at home he spent the night in self-defensive vigil and on the morrow, early, two Mollies from a local camp called upon him. With true Irish trust to chance and the possible ignorance of the other man, they declared they had come from Scranton by rail and Mack was well aware that no train arrived at such an hour from that town. These were, however, the men who had been chosen overnight, and after the last failure, to remove him. The spy, always on his guard, told the men boldly he was going straight to Kehoe's house to ask why they had placed him under suspicion. Marching from the house, he made for the hotel of M'Andrew, whom he induced to accompany him to Kehoe's by sleigh. The other two men decided also that they would accompany Mack to Kehoe's and hired a second sleigh. On the journey several stops were made at intervening pot-houses, where the victim-to-be treated his would-be murderers to all they desired in the way of drink—and then some. At Kehoe's the master of the house was preparing to celebrate the slaying of Mack with a dinner to a score of Mollies, and when the man who was already supposed to be a "corp" walked up to the house with a front of brass, followed by his appointed murderers, both sorely besotted, Kehoe began to pinch himself to see if he might be dreaming. In the front parlour, [102]where the spy knew they would not dare to murder him, were a dozen Mollies all celebrating his slaughter in Old Crow, most of them already on the blink. Mack entered the room after Kehoe and did a bold thing: "Boys," he said, "you are a band of foul murderers to seek to take the life of the truest Molly in the whole bunch. Give me the whisky." They handed him a glass filled to the brim and the spy drained it. "Kehoe," he demanded, "what is it you have against me and why do you want my life?" "Father O'Connor knows all about you," retorted Kehoe. "He knows you for a spy." Mack looked at his watch and brazened it out. "Well then," says he, "'tis Father O'Connor himself I will have here, and by God I'll go and fetch him." Passing from the house he met Mrs Kehoe, with whom he was a favourite, and telling her how her husband and his friends had put him on the mortuary list, Mack reached his sleigh, M'Andrew following him. At the priest's house, he was informed that Father O'Connor had gone to a neighbouring town. Under pretext of sending him a wire the spy then drove to the station, reflecting wisely at this somewhat overdrawn point that his mission was now really at an end. He had timed his arrival well but still had a few minutes to wait for the noon train. In the short interval Mack feigned to be busy drawing up his telegram to the priest. The train arrived to the minute, and Mack, waiting till the moment of its departure, threw down the prepared message as the cars were drawing clear [103]of the platform, boarded the last carriage and vanished for good from the coal regions. His next appearance was made in the witness-box at Philadelphia, where his evidence incriminated the leading spirits of the Conspiracy, who were sentenced to long imprisonment, the Molly Maguires passing thereafter into the history of evils that had been.



When the psychology of the Spy comes to be expounded by some master thinker, one wonders if he will emphasise the fact that, more often than not, there is that in the pedigree and antecedents of the agent of stealth which clearly suggests a mongrel breed. Was it not Tacitus who wrote of the half-caste races who swarmed the Roman Suburra, describing them in the memorable words: "Despectissima pars servientium"—the most despicable of the slave tribe? It was among this class that Marcus Crassus was wont to go in quest of recruits for that grand army of touts, quidnuncs and informers who, by bringing him first-hand intelligence of fires, burglaries, murders and kindred daily occurrences in Rome, most of which were pregnant with the possibilities of profit of some sort, helped to build up the monster fortune that made him one of the most important men of antiquity. Your Stiebers and Schulmeisters, too, all in some vague way convey an impression that they are beings who are not quite human, although not wholly brute; living things which seem to come from an unracial stock without stamp or tradition. To a man who has been accorded the honour of a monument in [105]Westminster Abbey these reflections do not, of course, apply. Nevertheless they suggest themselves, and when one reads in the life of John André that "it was not known whether the place of his birth was London or elsewhere in England," one feels disposed not to care particularly whether or not he ever had a father, or if his mother ever changed her name. André, too, was by origin a Swiss, and there is invariably lacking in the inhabitants of Switzerland a specific national cachet or clear racial type. His sire had been born in Geneva, while his mother was a Frenchwoman called Girardot, who in 1751 gave birth to the unfortunate British spy.

To add to the complexities of André's particular case, no one seems to be very certain where he passed the early years of his education, though it seems correct that the best part of his academic training was obtained in that always very cosmopolitan University of Geneva. We are assured that there he mastered several European tongues, that he became an adept in the social arts and possessed an acquaintance with the best classical literatures. It is only, however, in 1769, the year of his father's death, that we really begin to locate him, and then we find him living at Clapton, where his father, a merchant, resided in the local manor-house. At the time of this gentleman's death, André was eighteen years of age and his precociousness seems to be established by the fact that in those days he was paying his addresses to the daughter of a clergyman named Seward, [106]the lady being several years older than himself. Not only that, but Anna Seward was, it appears, a poet and the leader of a salon of sorts at Lichfield, where many well-known literary lights of the day were wont to assemble and discuss the trends of literary and artistic thought and action. Evidently Miss Seward did not take her gallant too seriously, for we hear of him shortly afterwards as a worshipper at the shrine of Honoria Sneyd, who was afterwards to become the mother of Maria Edgeworth. Romance, it is certain, entered generously into the youth of André.

It is clear also that the counting-house of a London merchant's establishment was not at all to the taste of the young man. He had always thirsted for military adventure, and it is not surprising to hear that in his twentieth year, he purchased a commission as under-lieutenant in the Royal English Fusiliers. It may be noted in passing that this was a period in which commissions in the Army—since become an easy enough achievement—were practically the monopoly of men who were far superior by birth and social position to the sons of even the most princely merchants, and there is nothing to indicate that André's father was at all a man of more than moderate means. The point is interesting, however, inasmuch as it points to the psychological tendencies of the young man's mind. His commission duly obtained, André repaired at once to Berlin, where he received considerable insight into the military arts. Berlin, [107]it may be parenthetically observed, was in those days probably the best-organised centre of a vast system of spies, for had not the collector of the famous giant-regiment of Potsdam Guards passed that way a generation before, and was not Frederick the Great still boasting that he had only one cook and a hundred spies? Some authorities incline to the belief that young André, while in Berlin, was already an active spy of the British Government. It is clear at any rate that when after a few years' residence in Germany he returned to England, he became known to prominent officers as a man not only more than usually well informed on all matters of a military kind, but also as a soldier who had fitted himself by very special study for the business of probing the military secrets and plans of other countries.

To the man's personality justice must, however, be done, for it is agreed on all hands that a more captivating or picturesque officer had never worn King George's uniform. Unlike Wolfe, also a man of literary parts, though a somewhat dark and silent person, André was a conversationalist of such fascination and sparkle that his presence in a drawing-room proved sufficient to attract the larger portion of both sexes to its immediate vicinity. Even his male contemporaries all declare that a more lovable being had rarely crossed the social stage, while the number of women of note and fashion with whom the young officer was said to be on that footing which the [108]French so expressively describe by the term au mieux, can hardly have been inferior to that which favoured handsome John Churchill in a former age. Great facial beauty, a splendid presence, romantic courage, a reputation for brilliancy in an age which was far from being a superficial one—all these were qualities which we expect in the pages of fiction, but which are only occasionally to be met with in actual experience. They are qualities, nevertheless, which have been the possession of most of the distinguished adventurers of history and it is obviously the consciousness of possessing such gifts that turns your born adventurer towards a life to which he has no definite social or traditional right.

It is often pointed out in the way of evidence of André's particular mission as a spy having been officially forecast for him, that on leaving England for Quebec, where his regiment was stationed, the young officer travelled thither by the very roundabout route via Philadelphia. Here he arrived in September 1774. His experience as a man who had seen much of the military spy system of Frederick and who was in any case an acute observer of all things were facts of which General Carleton, the Governor-General of Canada, was well aware. That officer, coincidently enough, left England about the same time as André, the twain travelling however by different ways. It is assumed, by Americans generally, that Carleton, who foresaw the imminence of the Revolutionary conflict, had directed his[109] subordinate to visit Philadelphia in the capacity of a commissioned spy, in order to learn all he might regarding the condition of public affairs, the temper of the people and, above all, to obtain some clear idea as to the intentions of the leaders of the American forces. Halting a short while and for the accomplishment of his purpose in the old Quaker City, André subsequently passed to New York and Boston, ever observant, everywhere transcribing, always on the alert. At Quebec he arrived early in November 1774. On the outbreak of the war André was one of the first British officers to be captured by the enemy and for over a year remained a prisoner in several Pennsylvania cities, where his charming personality and accomplishments gave him among the enemy the footing of a privileged guest rather than a captive. He was exchanged at the close of 1776 and rejoined the Army at New York, then commanded by Howe. To that officer André came like some visitor from Fortune herself, for during his late captivity, in the course of which he held practically carte blanche to move about the outlying country, the young soldier had always done so with his professional instincts set and with the result that he was able immediately to present Howe with more accurate information as to the military effective, disposition and plans of Washington than the regular Intelligence service could have procured him in three years. A vacancy falling due on the staff of General Grey, Howe procured its reversion to André, giving him the rank of[110] Captain. At this time the British Army was moving on Philadelphia.

Literature dealing with the story of Philadelphia in that age presents us with the picture of a city of perennial pageant. The British Army was in occupation in the winter and spring of 1778 and revelry ran long and high in every phase of the social life of Quaker City. Our André was here in his very element and among the acquaintances he formed was that of Margaret Shippen, who afterwards became the wife of Benedict Arnold. "No one," wrote Mr Winthropp Sergeant in 1861, "seems to have created such a pleasing impression or to have been so long admiringly remembered as André. His name in our own days lingers on the lips of every aged woman whose youth had seen her a belle in the royal lines.... He is described as of five feet nine inches in height and of singularly handsome person—well made, slender, graceful and very active, a dark complexion with a serious and somewhat tender expression; his manners easy and insinuating.... If the serious business of life was a part of his lot, there was yet ample scope for the exercise of those elegant arts in which he excelled. His infirmities, if any there were, sprang like Charles Townshend's from a noble cause—that lust of fame which is the instinct of all great souls; and his comely person, his winning speech, his graceful manners procured him universal acceptance, while his freedom from the grosser passions of his fellows was especially observed." The[111] universal gaiety which prevailed throughout Philadelphia was not without its effect on the Army as a whole and the inevitable demoralisation of all classes of society followed. It remains a lasting tribute to the attractions of the fair maids of Philadelphia that the number of irregular marriages which took place among the lower ranks of the Army alone was so large as to necessitate the organisation of special pickets with the object of preventing the wholesale depletion of regiments through long absence or desertion. As Benjamin Franklin declared at the time: "Howe has not taken Philadelphia, Philadelphia has taken Howe," and it is written that on the evacuation of the city by the British forces, 18,000 strong, at least 1000 privates deserted, returning to their sweethearts and lately married wives in Quaker Town. General Howe himself proved far from a shining example to his subordinates or soldiery, indolence and sensuality being his chief characteristics, while there were not wanting those who accused him of malversation of military funds. "He returned to England richer in money than laurels," while Americans are wont to thank him for having given them America, as they put it. His relations with André hardly seem consistent with what we know of that officer's usual discernment. In his honour, André, now a major, had composed and stage-managed a kind of allegorical tourney entitled the Mischianza, which was enacted to honour a general who was already under sentence of recall to England. Howe was[112] in due course succeeded by Sir Henry Clinton, to whom André, on the departure of General Grey in 1778, became chief aide and secretary, a position in which he so clearly proved his ability that in 1779 he was appointed deputy adjutant-general to the British forces in America with headquarters in New York.

We have seen that during his earlier stay in Philadelphia the young officer had formed a close friendship with Margaret Shippen, daughter of a wealthy resident. By 1779 this lady had become the wife of Benedict Arnold, one of the leading Revolutionary generals who was appointed military governor of Philadelphia on its evacuation by the British. Arnold, it was well known, maintained a sumptuous style of living which was wholly out of keeping with his means or position. A princely retinue, a lavish table, extravagance in all things were sufficient, once the British ascendancy had given way to the staid Quaker rule and custom of Philadelphia, to make him an object of distrust among a naturally suspicious community. Nor was Arnold at all a man of high character, whether domestic or public. Already in 1780 he was formally accused of peculation and, though exonerated on inquiry, was reprimanded by Washington for "imprudent and improper conduct." Arnold, who fully expected a complete vindication by his superiors, never forgave them the last implied stigma on his character. He was suspected even then of disloyal conversation with the enemy under adopted names,[113] and his present wrath was not calculated to weaken any predisposition he may have felt towards the commission of an act of supreme treachery. It seems clear that André, an unusually astute judge of character, had fully taken the measure of Arnold and perhaps had already learned something when, on 16th August 1779, he wrote to the General's wife at Philadelphia a rather whimsical letter offering to do some "shopping" for her in New York—a somewhat inconsequent kind of offer if its object was not to discover the condition of the lady's purse. Shortly afterwards a communication was addressed from the Tory side—the Whigs were the Revolutionaries—sounding Arnold and his general disposition, and it is now well established that the correspondence, which ensued thereafter between Clinton and himself, partook of a treasonable character on the part of the American General, who wrote in a disguised hand and assumed the name of "Gustavus" for the purpose of his communications, Clinton not then being aware of the identity or the importance of his correspondent. It seems clear, however, that André, as Clinton's secretary, was well aware of that identity and we may suppose the Major to have suggested the transference to himself of the duty of keeping up communication with the traitor, a transference which accordingly took place. Major André continued therefore to keep in touch with Arnold, himself writing under the name "John Anderson" in a slightly disguised hand. It is not implausibly maintained by some[114] that in the "shopping" letter which André had addressed to Mrs Arnold in August 1779 he had used a disguised handwriting with the object of making clear to her husband—reasonably certain to see the letter—the identity of John Anderson. Shortly after André had taken a hand in the intrigue, Arnold began to importune his superiors to give him the command of West Point near New York, urging the costliness of keeping up his position in Philadelphia. The request seemed reasonable and was granted by Washington, Arnold assuming the command at West Point, already, it is certain, resolved to surrender that strong fort to the British who were lying some fifty miles below in New York, and for whom the possession of the Point meant a free communication with Canada.

Up till the contemplated treachery of Arnold, the ascendancy of the British had been well maintained on the American Continent. Charleston had fallen and here André had twice risked his life disguised as a spy; the South was in British possession; Gates had been beaten at Camden and Manhattan was in their army's occupation. Arnold astutely chose the proper moment for his act of treachery, certain in that dark hour to produce a strong moral reaction upon the Revolutionaries. In September 1780 the American General forwarded to André a letter asking for a personal interview within the American lines, the Major to disguise himself as John Anderson. André refused to enter the danger zone and the[115] meeting was arranged to take place at Haverstraw—neutral ground—on 21st September. Thereafter it became a matter of somewhat dangerous rumour that André, whose daring men well knew, was about to undertake a perilous enterprise, a successful execution of which must swiftly end the war. A baronetcy, a brigadiership, a large sum of money—these were the rewards Clinton is said to have promised his young Adjutant. It is generally agreed that André faced his present mission with anything but that imperturbability which had marked his departure on similar expeditions. He was saddened, it was said, by an indefinable presentiment of death and impending disaster, and left New York to keep his appointment with Arnold, sailing up the Hudson in the British sloop Vulture. Arnold had agreed to send a boat to the sloop at midnight, 21st September, in order to take off the Major, who, on his landing, was led by a friend of the former to the secret tryst on neutral ground. The interview was long, Arnold haggling desperately over the terms of settlement; dawn had already begun to shadow the eastern hill-tops and still the bargain was not square. By five o'clock, however, the men had come to terms, and Arnold, who had horses in waiting, suggested the completion of the details in documentary form at the house of a local farmer, Smith his name. André consented reluctantly, well knowing the house in question to be within the American lines. By ten o'clock the deeds were drawn up and signed; André was in[116] possession of all necessary information concerning the post to be surrendered. Arnold was to make a show of resistance on the arrival of the British on 25th September, while Washington himself was to be delivered into the hands of the enemy on his return that way on September 27th. Benedict Arnold was to receive some £6500 as a reward for his treachery, a sum which was eventually paid though the surrender of West Point never took place.

On leaving Smith's residence and bidding adieu to Arnold, the Major discovered to his surprise that the Vulture had disappeared. The sloop had been cannonaded during the night and compelled to drop down the river. As the Major considered his difficult position, the vessel returned to its previous moorings and André requested Smith to convey him aboard. Smith refused, pleading reasonably enough that he was afraid of the consequences to himself of rendering such a service. No bribe being sufficient apparently to move the farmer, André found himself forced to remain where he was and to his undoubted peril, until nightfall. Smith offered to provide the Major with an American uniform, but finding it impossible to procure one, gave him instead an old-fashioned coat of the cavalier style, purple in colour, with faded gold lace. A melancholy beaver hat completed the strange attire of the British officer who covered the whole with an ordinary surtout. Contrary to express instructions from Clinton, André took away the papers[117] which Arnold had given him at the farmhouse, concealing them in his top-boots—an entirely senseless as well as purposeless proceeding, which eventually led to his undoing. Accompanied by Smith and a negro, André crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry on 22nd September, rode boldly into the American lines, spending, indeed, a night at another farmhouse in the midst of the enemy. On the 23rd, bidding his companions adieu, the Major, following directions given him by Smith, made for so-called neutral ground which swarmed with Tories and where he might feel reasonably safe. Mistaking a turn, however, in the old Tarrytown Road, along which he rode his horse slowly and with some hesitation, he came suddenly upon a group of farmers who were ranging the countryside in quest of suspicious persons. One of them, Paulding by name, wore a Hessian surtout given him by a friend. When André came in sight the company was playing cards, and on the Major's approach, Paulding, the master spirit of the gang, stepped to the front, musket in hand, commanding the traveller to halt and account for himself. Seeing the Hessian coat—a garment peculiar to King George's troops—André stopped his horse.

"My lads," he said, "you belong to our side, I see."

"What side?" asked Paulding.

"The British side," André replied.

"We do," answered Paulding.

André was momentarily taken off his guard.[118] "Thank God!" he exclaimed. "I am a British officer out on particular business. I am glad to be among friends once more and I hope you will not detain me."

"We are Americans," cried Paulding, "and you are our prisoner."

Assuming as much composure as he could, André drew Arnold's passports from his pocket permitting "Mr John Anderson to pass the guards to the White Plains," only, of course, to confirm the suspicions of the farmers, who thereupon dragged him from his horse, searching him from head to foot, duly to find the incriminating documents which clearly proved their captive a first-class spy. The Major began by offering them in turn, cash, his gold watch, one hundred guineas, and finally made a promise of one thousand guineas, saying he would remain a hostage in their hands till one of the party should return with the money. "We would not let you go for ten thousand guineas," shouted Paulding, and André's doom was spoken. He was taken to the nearest American post and delivered to the commandant, Colonel Jameson, under his name John Anderson. André at once requested that General Arnold should be notified that his friend "Anderson" was in custody, and the Colonel, an unsuspicious soul, concluded that he could best serve his superior officer by returning the captive to Arnold, under a guard of four troopers in charge of Lieutenant Allen, who was also entrusted with a letter in which the Colonel mentioned that he was "forwarding[119] certain documents found on Anderson forthwith to Washington," and this was accordingly done. André, to his joy, set out with his escort on the return journey to Arnold's lines. Before the party had progressed many miles towards West Point, a messenger arrived with orders for their return, and André found himself a captive once more in Jameson's lines, the Colonel, on a subordinate's advice, having decided to refer the whole matter to General Washington. In the meanwhile Allen, of his own initiative, had proceeded to Arnold's headquarters with the private letter and report from Jameson to the commander at West Point. For this blunder your true American has never forgiven the simple-minded Colonel.

On 24th September, the day following his capture, Major André, of whose real name and rank the American officers were still ignorant, indited his famous letter to Washington, full of rhetoric and self-justification, in which he advanced several considerations for his release from captivity. Mentioning his name and military rank, he only wrote, he said, to vindicate his good fame, not to solicit security. He was not, he vowed with a strange distortion of actuality, accustomed to duplicity. He justified his negotiations with "a person" (Arnold, unnamed) who was to give him intelligence which should prove serviceable to British arms, a fair ruse of war, he thought. Having concluded these negotiations, he proceeded, he was conducted without his knowledge into the American lines. He had thus become a[120] prisoner and was justified in his endeavour to escape by all means available, and having reached neutral ground, through a disguise, he had been arrested by irregulars. There were gentlemen at Charleston, he concluded, in a half-menacing and highly impolitic phrase, whose rank might be set in exchange for his; in any case they were persons whom the treatment he received could not fail to affect. Washington received this communication after the flight of Arnold who, learning from Jameson's letter, duly delivered by Allen, how perilously matters stood for him, had taken refuge on board the British vessel Vulture. The American commander-in-chief gave immediate orders for the transfer of André to West Point, where he arrived on 26th September, under the care of a strong escort commanded by Major Tallmadge, the officer who had advised Jameson to countermand the first order sending the prisoner to Arnold. It was to Tallmadge that André made the memorable confession that he had engaged in the adventure "for military glory, the applause of his King and country and perhaps a brigadiership." The Major asked the American in what light General Washington was likely to regard him.

"He will regard you," replied Tallmadge simply, "just as the British regarded my old comrade and schoolfellow, Nathan Hale. Your fate will be the same as Hale's."

It is not difficult to understand the fierce indignation of the Americans at this critical time,[121] when the black treachery of a commander on their own side is considered, and it was, from the very first, written in the stars that André should receive no mercy, although, indeed, a strong effort was made to exchange him for Arnold whom, in all probability, the Americans would have preferred. In General Washington, above all, there was an elemental severity of the early Roman type which would leave nothing to chance, although the plot had, happily for his own arms, totally miscarried. Nevertheless, with that ideal sense of justice which was found later in his illustrious successor, Lincoln, he convened a military board with the object of making careful inquiries and reporting their "opinion of the light in which the prisoner ought to be considered and what punishment ought to be inflicted." The court consisted of six major-generals and eight brigadier-generals. It was held at Tappan, where Washington had his headquarters. Inevitably André was held to be "a spy from the enemy and only death could satisfy his crime." Washington stood by the verdict and sentenced Major André to be hanged as a spy on the second day of October at four in the afternoon.

At four accordingly on the second day of October 1780, Major André was executed upon an eminence near Tappan village, in the presence of a vast concourse of people. He was dressed in full military costume and white top-boots. A large procession of officers preceded him to the gallows—a cross-piece between two trees. The prisoner's[122] step was firm nor did he falter until he saw the gallows, realising then that, despite his appeal to Washington, he was to die as a felon and not as a soldier. His hesitation was only momentary, however. A baggage-wagon, in which was laid a plain pine coffin, had been driven under the gallows, a grave being dug near by. Into this wagon the prisoner stepped, and taking the rope from the hangman adjusted it to his neck, tying also a white silk handkerchief over his eyes. The Major was then told that he might speak if he wished. Lifting the fold lightly from his eyes and bowing courteously, André replied in a firm voice: "All I request of you, gentlemen, is that while I acknowledge the propriety of my sentence, you will bear me witness that I die like a brave man." And taking his last look at the sky, he replaced the bandage on his eyes. The wagon was driven swiftly from under him, and in a few minutes he was no more.



Under the euphemism Secret Service, we describe in England our system of espionage. In common with other countries, espionage has always prevailed in England as essential in some degree to most conditions of our political, social, diplomatic and commercial life, all of which are conducted on the most comprehensive and complex lines. The story of England has, however, revealed but little of the spy in any class and, indeed, next to nothing at all when considered in proportion to the vastness of its national and international relations and commitments, a happy state of affairs which is attributable to the fact that our constitutional liberties represent the nearest approach to the ideal in respect of the completeness of their guarantees. Going back to early periods, it is only in the case of prominent figures like Alfred—who did his own spying, it will be remembered—or the seventh Henry, or Wolsey, that we find there was anything like the beginnings of an organised secret service system. The father of King Harry, through the agency of his lawyers Empson and Dudley, undoubtedly spied out the financial conditions of the territorial nobles as well as the monastic properties, and by doing so,[124] certainly facilitated the seizure of the Abbey possessions when the Reformation took place in the next reign. The agents employed in the case of the wealthy landowners were usually chaplains who also exercised secretarial functions for their patrons, while in the monasteries renegade monks were always to be found willing at a price to put Henry's financial sleuths in the way of obtaining correct information. The Lord Cardinal, there is no doubt, spied on the goings and comings of Campeggio when that legate was in England, and neither is there any doubt of his having spied successfully, and much to the irritation of the monarch, on King Henry himself who retaliated, however, more than once by informing the Chancellor as to certain romantic but very unpriestly trysts of the Cardinal which had come within the royal cognisance. In royal circles, of course, we may be sure that spying has always been the custom, all the more so since household officers justify their persistent attentions on the ground that the safety of the royal person requires that it should be perennially shadowed. Did not Fouché once surprise Napoleon, who was boasting of the superiority of service rendered by his own corps d'espions, when he informed the Emperor regarding every detail of a nocturnal outing which Majesty had made through Paris in company with Murat, and in the course of which visits were paid, in turn, to a low music-hall, a lower night-house and a cheap restaurant?

To find the first definite shapings of organised[125] secret service we must come to the time of Elizabeth when the Intelligencer and the Spy were well-known characters in the society of the period. The Intelligencer proves highly interesting as a study of the purely parasitical life. In general, he started in life as a man who made it his business to learn what was going on at all the main centres of public and private life, trading off the items to men of business, politicians and diplomatists for the best price he could obtain. He corresponded very closely to the Roman quidnunc with whom the Satires of Horace made us all familiar in our schooldays. Who can forget the picture of that oily Nasidienus—what a nose for news the name holds!—whose chief title to dine with Mæcenas depended on the fact that he constituted in his own person a kind of central news agency upon which all the gossip and intelligence of Rome was sure to converge. For indeed, the famous quidnunc had his own corps of reporters whom he employed to scour the City in quest of tittle-tattle for his patron. The Intelligencer or private newsmonger of Elizabeth's age was, it is recorded, looked upon as a highly respectable member of the workaday classes until, to use a journalistic Americanism, he began to "put it over" on his patrons—meaning to say, when he began to supply them with the news that was not, drawing good money in exchange for false intelligence. Like the free-lance of our own day, the Intelligencer had first of all to build up a connection, as the phrase goes, the same[126] being remunerative, or the reverse, in proportion to the man's energy and reliability. Since in those days he invariably dealt with principals, it happened not so seldom that he effected a permanent way into the good graces of a wealthy patron, rising afterwards to positions of honourable importance. It is, nevertheless, a fact that the majority of these men deteriorated, and for the simple reason that, deeply versed as they became in the sordid architectonics of life of all kinds, social, political and commercial, they quickly shed their ideals. Their previous experience and knowledge of ways and means had, however, fitted them in a peculiar manner for the business of watching other men and they were invariably sought out by personages of wealth and position to exercise the trade of spy, or common informer. And, accordingly, when Burleigh and his congeners were looking around for plausible excuses for killing off Mary of Scotland, they fell back on the services of an informer who had originally made his bow before the public as an Intelligencer. It is not necessary to go into the story of the mysterious "J. B.," whom one Delbena, an Italian adventurer, had introduced to the English Ambassador in Paris, Poulet, as a man of good birth, but desperate in all enterprises and a traitor to the last fibre of his spinal column. The records of Elizabethan days would seem to indicate either that Burleigh and Walsingham were not very astute judges of the common spy, or else that "J. B." was devilishly[127] apt in extracting large sums out of credulous statesmen and diplomats, for it is written that having raised many thousands from Poulet on his simple promise to capture an agent of Mary Stuart, whose papers were certain to incriminate that Queen—why, the rascal failed to deliver goods, to use another expressive newspaper Americanism. Then there was the informer Gifford whose early training as a priest enabled him, in his clerical capacity and with forged credentials, to spy on the great Catholic families of his time, in all cases transmitting false yet incriminating information to Burleigh. His nefarious activities brought at least a dozen men to the execution block in those days. In two years another of the species, one Thomas Phillips, also an ex-Intelligencer, had contracted to the Crown a debt equal to the large sum of £60,000 of our own money on account of infamous work done for its ministers, mostly political, be it said. Indeed, the record of the Elizabethan spy constitutes one long chronicle of the bloodiest treachery in the whole history of secret service, since the Tower, if not Tyburn, invariably figured as the last scene in the life of the unfortunate who fell into the hands of the Queen's sleuths. Treachery seems, for all the halo which surrounds our notion of the "good old days," to have played a part in the whole social fabric as universal as it was sinister, nor can the fact be wondered at, seeing that the promiscuous distribution of the confiscated estates of murdered men, which[128] often in a day rewarded poor men with vast lands, was an ever-present incentive to the cupidity of the adventurer.

Cromwell, if we may judge by diaries and records of his day, was the best-informed man in England. He had an undoubted faith in the value of secret service and was ably served by the many agents he employed, not only at home, but also abroad, where their activities helped to lay the broad foundations of that foreign policy which is based upon the principle known as the Balance of Power. It was the Protector's custom to invite to his table men whom he well knew to be what the current vernacular of the time termed "trimmers" and what the American calls a "mugwump"; these men he invariably surprised with the correctness of his information regarding the variety of their political friends and relations, as well as of the dangerous company which they frequented, advising them always in a friendly way to beware. The Protector was one of the few statesmen in Europe who remained a perennial puzzle to Mazarin, during whose large ascendancy on the Continent, Cromwell strengthened the foundations of that naval power which has given England for so long a paramount voice in Europe's councils. His successor Charles II. distinguished himself above all other English monarchs by receiving into his intimate court circle a paid spy of Louis XIV. in the person of Louise de Kérouaille, on whom he conferred the title of Duchess of Portsmouth. This lady, as Duchesse d'Aubigny in [129]France, was at the same time drawing a ducal revenue from the coffers of Louis XIV., while it remains a matter of statistical record that in the year 1681 she took in perquisite from the English Exchequer the sum of £136,000—equal to more than half-a-million sterling of our time. There can be little doubt that the capacity for political intrigue of the Duchess, as well as her complete ascendancy over Charles and her own greed of money, contributed at a later stage to swell the indictment which ultimately led to the banishment of the Stuarts. In her Life of the Duchess, Mrs Colquhoun Grant takes a view generally accepted by historical writers, to wit, that the favourite's character was neither vicious nor depraved, that her conduct was not immoral according to the notions of the age, that she was a woman of immense political capacity, while of a tender and affectionate heart. Her political correspondence, in which she exercised her specific rôle as informer to the French court, was carried on with Madame de Montespan, who is memorable as one of the splendid favourites of Louis.

The Duchess of Portsmouth

Passing over to Georgian times we find that the employment of spies was common in all departments of life, and there can be little doubt that the Hanoverians brought to England many men and women who had learned the arts of espionage at the best of all possible schools—namely, Berlin. The history of England of those days shows us nothing in the way of pre-eminent exponents of[130] the business, nor can espionage be said, in its political aspects, to have reached to that excellence of organisation which it attained later in the times of Pitt, whom the ever-present activities of Bonaparte compelled in the interests of our security to develop a secret-service system the operations of which were inferior to none in Europe. It remains a matter of record that in the days of the French Revolution certain political leaders in England were in the pay of the Committee of Public Safety presided over by Robespierre. This fact was communicated to Pitt through his own spy, a professedly violent Jacobin, who by means of cipher and anagrammatic correspondence, carried on with a relative in Italy, was transmitting by that roundabout route the most minute and accurate accounts of the Committee's proceedings to the English Premier. The sums paid for such dangerous work, while never, of course, disclosed, were undoubtedly very large, seeing that the all-observant Saint-Just was moving at the time through Revolutionary circles. The failure of the French invasion of Ireland in December 1796 is also set down to an act of paid treachery on the part of the captain of one of the French vessels, the story being that he took advantage of prevailing foul weather to decline approaching the Irish coast for several days, and since the general commanding the expedition was on board, the brave venture became a foregone failure. Charles Lever, who, it will be remembered, acted as British Consul at Spezzia and[131] Trieste, introduces us on more than one occasion to a kind of consular or ambassadorial spy, an individual who in those days was as regular a member of a chancellery as its archivist is in our own.

In the time of Napoleon, Charles James Fox, an admirer and friend of the First Consul, found himself, all unconsciously, caught in the vast woof of the Fouché-Talleyrand system of intelligence, thus becoming an unwitting agent in communicating to the French Government certain of the designs of the British Government for the destruction of Bonaparte's Continental policy. The fact that Fox was a desperate gambler, and ever in debt, was not of course allowed to escape the notice of his few, but bitter, enemies, who in this case were obviously moved by malice rather than by anything they really knew. The cleverness of Canning in procuring private information regarding the secret clauses of the Treaty of Tilsit between Alexander of Russia and Napoleon is commonly regarded as among the greatest achievements of diplomacy in all time. How the British foreign minister obtained this information will probably remain a secret for ever; but the momentous results of his cleverness are indisputable, since they led to the seizure of the Danish fleet and broke up the northern confederation of powers by which Napoleon still hoped to invade England, and some analogy to which is found at our own time in the occupation of Belgium by the Germans, England having been the[132] main objective in both cases. Conjecture is, of course, not wanting as to the means which placed this intelligence in the hands of Canning. According to one writer, a certain Lady Sarah Spencer, in a letter addressed to her father at Althorp, declared at the time that "Lord G. L. Gower had got possession, for £20,000, of the original treaty of Tilsit and that one of the secret articles stipulated that the Danish fleet should be employed against us, which induced Ministers to adopt such measures." It is declared by a member of the Mackenzie clan that one Colin Mackenzie, who perfectly understood and spoke French, disguised himself as a Cossack and was one of the attendants chosen to accompany the Russian Emperor to the raft on which the interview with Napoleon was held—a story which does not, it must be said, meet with very cordial acceptance. Again it is asserted that the famous Launay, Count d'Antraigues, obtained the treaty from a friend in Russia, a version which seems disproved by the fact that the Count was at that time in disgrace in England. On Sir Robert Wilson has also been conferred the distinction of discovering the secret understandings of Tilsit, while the tradition of the Foreign Office is that the information came indirectly from the Emperor Alexander and was given publicity through some blunder on the part of the Russian Ambassador in London—most probably the correct facts.

The enactment of the Union between England and Ireland led in its time to the commission of[133] untold treacheries. Until within a score of years ago there stood in the private offices of Dublin Castle two iron-clamped chests filled to the top with papers relating to pre-Union days. These chests bore the Government seal and on them was inscribed the legend: "Secret and confidential—not to be opened." For close upon a century, these chests remained unexplored until, leave having been given for their examination, hundreds of betrayals and treacheries leapt to light. Men of the highest names, says Dr Fitzpatrick, in effect, were found to have been spies of the Government and practically agents provocateurs, although to the outer world they bore themselves as high-souled patriots of unimpeachable honour. The various causes in which these men served were not less filled with the foulness of secret crime than outwardly they proved to be fraught with deliberately constructed outrage and injustice to a whole nation. Coming down to more modern days, we seize upon the story of Major Le Caron. This man's adventure among the open and admitted enemies of England shows us the meagre extent to which our Government is prepared to subsidise its agents abroad. Le Caron is not singular in his criticism of the British authorities who, by a consistent policy of paying starvation pay, have reduced the secret service to the proportions of a vanishing quantity. Le Caron warned the authorities of their fatal and improvident parsimony in his time. "Some day," he said, "a big thing will happen about which[134] there will be no leakage beforehand and then the affrighted and indignant British citizen will turn on his band of thirty secret-service men and rant and rave at them for their want of capacity and performance. The fault will be the want of a perfect system of secret service, properly financed. If plots are to be discovered in time, they can only be discovered through information coming from men associated with them. If it is to be made worth their while to speak, then the price offered by the British Government must be higher than that of the other paymasters." Le Caron's words are clearly based on the assumption that men enter into revolutionary movements rather for what there is in them, than from any spiritual or ethical motives. Until far more evidence than we possess is afforded us, we fear that the spy must be held to be right, for the tortuous path of political agitation is a path which is ever crowded with self-seekers and one on which the altruist is always the loneliest of pilgrims.

In the course of the trials of Captains Trench and Brandon at Leipsic in 1910, the public prosecutor emphasised his view that British gold had bought up the services of hundreds of agents scattered throughout Germany, all of them engaged in the business of transmitting important information to the British Admiralty and War Office. Visitors to what is known as the Black Country of Westphalia will recollect, too, how ordinary English tourists who arrive at towns in the neighbourhood of Essen, the home of Krupp,[135] such as Bochum, or Wesel, or Elberfeld invariably become the objects of police attention from the moment of their arrival at local hotels. It is certain that espionage on the part of the foreigner excites more real concern in Germany than is the case in England, a fact that we must put down to her geographical position which leaves her, despite vast armaments and preparations, an ever-possible object of attack to heavily armed nations which surround her on all sides. Even, however, if it be the fact that England has held her spies within Germany itself, few will be found to argue that it is not a legitimate use of secret service funds, as well as a matter altogether apart from the infamy which attaches to the person who accepts money in return for the betrayal of fatherland. It is, nevertheless, very questionable if any information really worth having, in the military sense, ever escapes the record of duly appointed military attachés, whose official existence dates from 1864 and whose admitted business it is to keep themselves professionally posted as to the resources of a possible enemy. In regard to Germany, it may be said that in the business of spying, she occupies a class by herself, since professional espionage is not looked upon by the people as in any way degrading or underhand. An easy tolerance of this kind towards a trade which is in itself intrinsically base cannot, it must follow, be without a corresponding reaction on the common mind in regard to spying for the benefit of foreign powers, and we may reasonably[136] assume it to be the fact that in such cases the British authorities go far less frequently in quest of native spies, than the native spies come in quest of British gold. A sum of less than £40,000 is annually set aside for the purposes of the British Secret Service, according to official books. The smallness of the sum must clearly be some index of the limits of our secret-service operations, although no one is asked to suppose that the amount in question covers the entire expenditure made on account of useful information given up. Germany, it is known, makes a public appropriation of, roughly, £1,000,000 sterling for the secret-service system. Russia's budget for the same object amounts to £500,000, while that of France is less than £200,000, as far, in all cases, as public figures are available. The public appropriations do not, of course, reveal anything like the entire sums expended, the facts as to which could be realised only by a survey of the various accounts of consular offices and embassies throughout Europe.

Much ink has been spilt and many public utterances have been made with the object of showing that the British Government had taken but perfunctory measures in order to fight the system of espionage which was preparing England for invasion, even as France had been prepared for invasion in 1870. Writers in the daily Press and members of Parliament had declared, by the end of August 1914, that anything more inadequate than the British system of what is known as[137] counter-espionage—that is to say, the organising of spies to watch and report on Germans who were obviously overrunning the country in quest of information of military value—was inconceivable. After all, results afford the best test of the precautions taken, and it is on record that the ease and rapidity with which the authorities rounded up over 14,000 German and Austrian potential spies, within a few weeks of the outbreak of the war, came as an illuminating shock to the German Secret Service authorities themselves who had based their warlike decisions largely upon the hypothesis that England was still asleep. A well-known authority on such matters at the Home Office informed the writer in September 1914 that even the so-called "incendiary points"—that is to say, localities which had been marked out as suitable for the setting fire to houses, in the event of aerial raids on London—were being gradually and completely scheduled by vigilant officers of our Secret Service, and in such a way that nothing was left to assist the operations of possible spies who have succeeded in eluding enumeration by our somewhat silent and unofficious, but nevertheless eternally wakeful police. As we have said in another place, the German organisation of spies, internal and external, had been raised to a point under Stieber, beyond which, given the present conditions of the world and mankind, it was practically impossible to go, and since for the past twenty years and more, we have been in possession[138] of the technical details of Stieberism, we may rely on it that the authorities, on their side, have not read in vain. Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War, and in order to allay the anxiety created by critics of such departments as are charged with the duty of watching the enemy in our midst, the Home Office issued the following statement dealing with measures which had been undertaken with a view to counteracting the operations of foreign spies scattered throughout the Islands:—

"In view of the anxiety naturally felt by the public with regard to the system of espionage on which Germany has placed so much reliance, and to which attention has been directed by recent reports from the seat of war, it may be well to state briefly the steps which the Home Office, acting on behalf of the Admiralty and War Office, has taken to deal with the matter in this country. The secrecy which it has hitherto been desirable in the public interest to observe on certain points cannot any longer be maintained, owing to the evidence which it is necessary to produce in cases against spies that are now pending.

"It was clearly ascertained five or six years ago that the Germans were making great efforts to establish a system of espionage in this country, and in order to trace and thwart these efforts a Special Intelligence Department was established by the Admiralty and the War Office which has ever since acted in the closest co-operation with [139]the Home Office and Metropolitan Police and the principal provincial Police Forces. In 1911, by the passing of the Official Secrets Act, 1911, the law with regard to espionage, which had hitherto been confused and defective, was put on a clear basis and extended so as to embrace every possible mode of obtaining and conveying to the enemy information which might be useful in war.

"The Special Intelligence Department, supported by all the means which could be placed at its disposal by the Home Secretary, was able in three years, from 1911 to 1914, to discover the ramifications of the German secret service in England. In spite of enormous efforts and lavish expenditure of money by the enemy, little valuable information passed into their hands. The agents, of whose identity knowledge was obtained by the Special Intelligence Department, were watched and shadowed without in general taking any hostile action or allowing them to know that their movements were watched. When, however, any actual step was taken to convey plans or documents of importance from this country to Germany the spy was arrested, and in such case evidence sufficient to secure his conviction was usually found in his possession. Proceedings under the Official Secrets Acts were taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and in six cases sentences were passed varying from eighteen months to six years' penal servitude. At the same time steps were taken to mark down [140]and keep under observation all the agents known to be engaged in this traffic, so that when any necessity arose the Police might lay hands on them at once, and accordingly on August 4, before the declaration of war, instructions were given by the Home Secretary for the arrest of twenty known spies, and all were arrested. This figure does not cover a large number (upwards of two hundred) who were noted as under suspicion or to be kept under special observation. The great majority of these were interned at or soon after the declaration of war.

"None of the men arrested in pursuance of the orders issued on August 4 has yet been brought to trial, partly because the officers whose evidence would have been required were engaged in urgent duties in the early days of the war, but mainly because the prosecution, by disclosing the means adopted to track out the spies and prove their guilt, would have hampered the Intelligence Department in its further efforts. They were, and still are, held as prisoners under the powers given to the Secretary of State by the Aliens Restriction Act. One of them, however, who established a claim to British nationality, has now been formally charged, and, the reasons for delay no longer existing, it is a matter for consideration whether the same course should now be taken with regard to some of the other known spies.

"Although this action taken on August 4 is believed to have broken up the spy organisation which had been established before the war, it is [141]still necessary to take the most rigorous measures to prevent the establishment of any fresh organisation and to deal with individual spies who might previously have been working in this country outside the organisation, or who might be sent here under the guise of neutrals after the declaration of war. In carrying this out the Home Office and War Office have now the assistance of the Cable Censorship, and also of the Postal Censorship, which, established originally to deal with correspondence with Germany and Austria, has been gradually extended (as the necessary staff could be obtained) so as to cover communications with those neutral countries through which correspondence might readily pass to Germany or Austria. The censorship has been extremely effective in stopping secret communications by cable or letter with the enemy; but, as its existence was necessarily known to them, it has not, except in a few instances, produced materials for the detection of espionage.

"On August 5 the Aliens Restriction Act was passed, and within an hour of its passing an Order-in-Council was made which gave the Home Office and the Police stringent powers to deal with aliens, and especially enemy aliens, who under this Act could be stopped from entering or leaving the United Kingdom, and were prohibited while residing in this country from having in their possession any wireless or signalling apparatus of any kind, or any carrier or homing pigeons. Under this Order all those districts where the [142]Admiralty or War Office considered it undesirable that enemy aliens should reside have been cleared by the Police of Germans and Austrians, with the exception of a few persons, chiefly women and children, whose character and antecedents are such that the local Chief Constable, in whose discretion the matter is vested by the Order, considered that all ground for suspicion was precluded. At the same time the Post Office, acting under the powers given them by the Wireless Telegraphy Acts, dismantled all private wireless stations; and they established a special system of wireless detection by which any station actually used for the transmission of messages from this country could be discovered. The Police have co-operated successfully in this matter with the Post Office.

"New and still more stringent powers for dealing with espionage were given by the Defence of the Realm Act, which was passed by the Home Secretary through the House of Commons and received the Royal Assent on August 8. Orders-in-Council have been made under this Act which prohibit, in the widest terms, any attempt on the part either of aliens or of British subjects to communicate any information which 'is calculated to be or might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy'; and any person offending against this prohibition is liable to be tried by court martial and sentenced to penal servitude for life. The effect of these Orders is to make espionage a military offence. Power is given both to the [143]police and to the military authorities to arrest without a warrant any person whose behaviour is such as to give rise to suspicion, and any person so arrested by the police would be handed over to the military authorities for trial by court martial. Only in the event of the military authorities holding that there is no prima facie case of espionage or any other offence triable by military law is a prisoner handed back to the civil authorities to consider whether he should be charged with failing to register or with any other offence under the Aliens Restriction Act.

"The present position is, therefore, that espionage has been made by statute a military offence triable by court martial. If tried under the Defence of the Realm Act, the maximum punishment is penal servitude for life; but if dealt with outside that Act as a war crime the punishment of death can be inflicted.

"At the present moment one case is pending in which a person charged with attempting to convey information to the enemy is now awaiting his trial by court martial, but in no other case has any clear trace been discovered of any attempt to convey information to the enemy, and there is good reason to believe that the spy organisation crushed at the outbreak of the war has not been re-established.

"How completely that system had been suppressed in the early days of the war is clear from the fact—disclosed in a German Army Order—that on August 21 the German Military Commanders [144]were still ignorant of the despatch and movements of the British Expeditionary Force, although these had been known for many days to a large number of people in this country.

"The fact, however, of this initial success does not prevent the possibility of fresh attempts at espionage being made, and there is no relaxation in the efforts of the Intelligence Department and of the Police to watch and detect any attempts in this direction. In carrying out their duties, the military and police authorities would expect that persons having information of cases of suspected espionage would communicate the grounds of the suspicion to local military authority or to the local police, who are in direct communication with the Special Intelligence Department, instead of causing unnecessary public alarm, and possibly giving warning to the spies by public speeches and letters to the Press. In cases in which the Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed to the authors of such letters and speeches to supply him with the evidence upon which their statements were founded in order that he might consider the question of prosecuting the offender, no evidence of any value has as yet been forthcoming.

"Among other measures which have been taken has been the registration, by Order of the Secretary of State, made under the Defence of the Realm Act, of all persons keeping carrier or homing pigeons. The importation and the conveyance by rail of these birds have been prohibited; and, [145]with the valuable assistance of the National Homing Union, a system of registration has been extended to the whole of the United Kingdom, and measures have been taken which it is believed will be effective to prevent the possibility of any birds being kept in this country which would fly to the Continent.

"Another matter which has engaged the closest attention of the police has been the possibility of conspiracies to commit outrage. No trace whatever has been discovered of any such conspiracy, and no outrage of any sort has yet been committed by any alien—not even telegraph-wires having been maliciously cut since the beginning of the war. Nevertheless, it has been necessary to bear in mind the possibility that such a secret conspiracy might exist or might be formed among alien enemies resident in this country.

"Accordingly, immediately after the commencement of hostilities, rigorous search was made by the police in the houses of Germans and Austrians, in their clubs and in all places where they were likely to resort. In a few cases individuals were found who were in possession of a gun or pistol which they had not declared, and in one or two cases there were small collections of ancient firearms, and in such cases the offenders have been prosecuted and punished; but no store of effective arms—still less any bombs or instruments of destruction—have so far been discovered.

"From the beginning, any Germans or Austrians who were deemed by the police to be [146]likely to be dangerous were apprehended, handed over to the military authorities, and detained as prisoners of war; and, as soon as the military authorities desired it, general action was taken to arrest and hand over to military custody Germans of military age, subject to exceptions which have properly been made on grounds of policy. About 9000 Germans and Austrians of military age have been so arrested, and are held as prisoners of war in detention camps, and among them are included those who are regarded by the police as likely in any possible event to take part in any outbreak of disorder or incendiarism."



Napoleon it was who once expressed the view that if not impossible, it was rare to find a Frenchman who could really put his heart into the business of spying, whether military or civil, and it was his custom, as far as possible, to employ in either capacity men of that cosmopolitan or unnational type of which we have spoken. The Emperor's view would hardly seem, however, to fit in with the preconceived notion entertained by most of us. Regaled as we have long been with the fantasies and fictions of modern French writers and their inspired master detectives, we find ourselves almost invariably crediting the French system of secret service with being, in respect of its excellence, an exemplar to all other kindred bodies. No satire, so far as we know, of the stolen-white-elephant type has ever yet been written with the object of pointing out the futility of its processes or the imbecility of its methods, and in any case, it is a matter of statistical record that the amount of undiscovered crime in France is twenty per cent. lower than that of any other country in the world. Here, it must be admitted, we seem to be confusing the business of the detector of crime with that of the[148] secret-service agent; in most countries, nevertheless, the two departments work largely in conjunction, and it may be, in general, fairly presumed that a service which is likely to provide a good corps of detectives is also capable of producing an able body of spies. It would seem that in no age in French history was the system of organised spying so complete as during the ascendancy of Richelieu, when clerical influences, supported by a vast network of espionage, were everywhere overwhelming, and again during the times of Napoleon's military empire, a contrast in conditions which suggests the idea that governments which are based on autocratic or non-representative principles invariably require the help of intrinsically corrupt and vicious influences to enable them to maintain their existence. For all the lauded excellence of the imperial German organisation of spies, that of France may be said, when we take into consideration the lighter political and social machinery of a Republican country, to be hardly less comprehensive, as well as quite as effective in its results.

Paris is, of course, the centre of the French organisation. Here it works craftily and silently and though rarely coming into contact with the work of the President or his Cabinet, is permanently in touch with departmental officials in all the great public offices. It is declared on the authority of a now-retired divisional chief of the French secret service, Saint-Just, that even the Prefect of Police in Paris only rarely hears of the[149] business details of his own department, though it is very doubtful if such a statement could be made about M. Méline, whose omnivorous activities and private information during his tenure of that office are said on more than one occasion to have extricated the Republic from a difficult international impasse. As a rule the divisional chiefs of the system only invite the attention of the titular head of the service in the event of a cause célèbre in which great names are mentioned, or else in cases in which international complications, as in the Dreyfus drama, are to be feared. The French Secretary for Foreign Affairs can alone be said, in regard to the work and the results of the French spy system, to be in close touch with it; and in all certainty this was true about M. Delcassé in the perilous period of the Moroccan imbroglio of 1906. Other Ministers, all of whom, like the Prefect of Police himself, hold office by virtue of their being party men, know as a rule less about what is taking place in the underground of political movements than much humbler civil servants. The divisional chiefs without doubt are the real controllers of the police organisation; these men are practically irremovable and they are invariably so well acquainted with inside working of state affairs that no Government dares dismiss one of them without grave reason. Colonel Henry, whose momentous knowledge of the real motives which underlay the Dreyfus affair made his own removal by suicide or murder—who can tell which?—an insistent necessity, had acted[150] as a go-between from a divisional chief to an important political personage in France and consequently learned, in the course of his dealings with them both, that formidable secret which eventually cost the Colonel his life.

The spy system of France is largely based nowadays, as in the time of Fouché, on the Dossier. In France any person who has had, or even who is likely to have, anything like a career which is of a public nature is duly taken cognisance of by the police, and all and everything in the way of private information or gossip or documentary evidence and the like is collated against all possible eventuality and upshot, the result being forthwith archived in the offices of the chief of police. The merest novice who enters in any capacity into the limelight of publicity, even artists, literary men, frail queans of the demi-monde, financiers, politicians, social fancy-men, jockeys, actors, clerics, opulent mistresses, editors—all these in point of personal "pedigree," to cull an expression from the American police vocabulary, are better known to the secret service than to their own parents. And so it happens, when a man attains to high political power and is courted by ministers, he invariably makes it his business to become as intimate as possible with the Chief of the Police, his object being to recover and destroy all incriminating documents concerning his past life. In former times, we have all read, kings were wont on occasion to ask useful retainers if they had anything to solicit in the way of[151] favours. If a French President were nowadays to invite a rising or, better still, a risen politician who had served the party well, to make his particular request, it is certain that first, and before all things, the politician would ask to be put in possession of his dossier, since no man, great or small, cares that the world should know by what arts he taught himself to rise, as Pope puts it. It is an undoubted fact that the dossier is frequently asked for by arrivals at high political position, and the police, of course, make a pretence at surrendering it. But do not think for a moment that they actually surrender each and all of the documentary proofs and tit-bits of private intelligence which have come into their possession regarding the person most concerned. The great man is, of course, given a dossier of sorts. Yet a year or so later, when the politician has fallen from his high office, the "pedigree" is replaced in the police archives, often fatter and more succulent than ever. Since the days of Fouché, who was the inventor of the dossier secret, this has been a fixed official custom of the French Police and the cost of its maintenance is charged on the municipal rates. It is also certain that no constant visitor to Paris, no matter whence he comes or what his nationality, provided he possesses high political or social importance, or even notoriety, in his own country, all unconsciously goes through the ordeal of having his pedigree taken, as they say in New York. And again, since the art of police photography has[152] become common, as often as not, and unknown to himself, the visitor has to submit to the official process of having his portrait taken, or being "mugged," as the American police so expressively describe it.

Years back, in the time of Napoleon the Third, there existed a system of spying throughout France, known as that of the "White Blouses," these being a ubiquitous band of agents provocateurs who were paid to incite the people to riots and so furnish the police with pretexts for incarcerating leading popular spirits who were likely, if allowed their freedom, to become dangerous to the stability of the Empire. The fall of that fabric in 1870 led to the partial break-up of this monstrous organisation, and many who were known to be its paid agents were very deservedly shot in the days of the Commune. After the establishment of the Republic the spy police was reorganised and a special brigade of secret-service agents was formed whose object was—and still is—to spy upon all those political sects at the head of which stand pretenders like the Duke of Orleans, or Prince Napoleon, or the late General Boulanger. At any grave political crisis in France these political sects display more than their usual energies, trusting more or less, as they do, in the star of their particular candidate, and at such times the corps of spies become correspondingly active. This especial body is said to have constituted far more than any other force to the permanent stability of the present Republican[153] regime. Most of its special spies are recruited, it is known, among the newspaper reporters and writers of Paris and the larger towns of France, and for the reason that their business affords them better opportunities than are given to most men of coming in touch with people who are anxious to "move the public mind" in regard to pet principles, or in simpler words, who have an axe to grind. This service was the invention of the celebrated Prefect of Police Andrieux, who also organised a system of fractional divisions of his police which still exists, and which is also associated with the body that spies upon the movements of anarchist societies in France, Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Holland and the United States, with all the chief bureaux of which countries it continues to remain in permanent affiliation. Its magnificent work undoubtedly accounts for the chronic failure of the militant anarchists to do serious damage or outrage in anything like proportion to the fiery sentiments which they profess to entertain towards all reasoned systems of government, or even in proportion to their numbers.

The real chief of the French Secret Service is, as we have told, not the Prefect of Police, who is a politician and a party man. The traditions of a generation will it that the active headship of that service be taken over generally by the chief of what is officially known as the Third Division of the Police. Under this functionary's control are the head of the First Bureau in which the[154] dossiers are kept, and the head of the Second Bureau which deals with the reports of political agents and which also directs the notorious Black Cabinet having charge of the opening of all private letters passing between suspected persons; when read these letters are photographed and archived. The Third Bureau has been made famous in recent times by the Panama, Dreyfus and Humbert scandals in which its large corps of handwriting experts and interpreters came on the scene. In the First Division the various bureaux are made up as follows: (A) Spies upon persons of note; thus Esterhazy during the Dreyfus case had seventeen members of this division following him in all places and at all hours. (B) The corps of men who are detailed to watch women frequently visited by prominent politicians, and who are, when it is found necessary, instructed to "engage the sentiments" of the ladies at their dwelling places, cash-expenses being allowed the spies in proportion to the cubicular tariff of any given lady who may be suspected of knowing anything. (C) The body of spies who are detailed to spy upon the actions and movements of notable foreigners. This body includes those spies who are available for hire by great bankers, the heads of large business houses, the chiefs of great newspapers, or any other private individuals of great wealth and position who for reasons of their own, wish to have their employees, their acquaintances, or their mistresses followed and their movements reported[155] upon. Foreigners and others whose presence is not considered desirable in France are invariably tracked down by the spies of this department. (D) The service of spies whose qualifications enable them to look out for traits of insanity or eccentricity, especially in persons of wealth and "in the interests of public health and security," it is officially stated. There is then the Second Division, which is composed mainly of a bureau the agents of which are stationed at the different ports of France and who watch all suspicious characters landing in or leaving France, or who, as occasion requires, visit foreign ports in quest of criminal evidence; a subsidiary body of its spies are detailed to watch malefactors and politicians of the municipal order. Finally there is the "laboratory" to which the late M. Bertillon, the anthropometrician, has given celebrity as chief of its Identification department, in which criminals are measured or identified. In this department, should the police be very anxious to possess the "identification dossier" of any person who is suspected of criminal relations, the chiefs have the suspect arrested on some pretext or other. He is at once haled to the Identification bureau, where the officials go through the mock process of recording his measures. Subsequently it is discovered that, after all, he is not the person required, and he is released with much apology. The bureau authorities nevertheless retain his card and when, if ever, the suspect is caught in the act, he is sure to be[156] confronted with his record in measurements even though he have never so many aliases.

As in Germany, so in France, that type of inferior spy who is known by the term mouchard is generally to be found among the municipal inspectors of lodging-houses, the supervisors of night-houses, those detectives whose business is the watching of the street-police, all of which individuals have opportunities for picking up clues to more or less important crime. There is also an inferior corps of mouchards who are known by the expressive term remueurs de casseroles—that is to say, persons whose business it is to stir up the social saucepan in any district in order to bring minor details to light. As may be supposed from their name, they move in the very lowest circles of the unchosen races of evil and are generally to be hired, for a franc or two the job, among waiters, money-lenders' touts, race-course "narks" and such gentry. Spies are also, it is well known, sent in the guise of convicted offenders among those already undergoing imprisonment, with the object of bringing to the knowledge of the police further details as to crimes already committed. Such a person is usually known among French professional criminals by the name "mouton." All these classes of spies may be said to come under the supervision of the chief of the Third Division, who also takes charge of that portion of the system which is detailed to watch the mining, the manufacturing and the wine districts for the purposes of reporting on anything[157] in the way of "syndicalist" disaffection. The political corps d'espionnage in France numbers, it may be said, some 1000 paid agents of all grades of society, men and women. They are expected to earn their living among the class of people upon whom they report to the police, so that being in regular employment their movements shall not be open to suspicion. When the chief-of-division requires the service of a particular spy at an established point, the individual chosen is requested formally to present himself at district headquarters. Here he is informed by the presiding chief that some details have been gathered concerning his relations with a dishonest and punishable piece of business which had taken place perhaps ten years before in, perhaps, another neighbourhood, or even a different town. The visitor admits the fact, but pleads that the occurrence is really statute-barred. The police official declares himself ready to forget the matter provided his visitor will consent to work on his behalf among the people of his factory, or store, or municipality, as the case may be. There will be a little money in it—according to the man's standing, and all he is required to do is to forward once or twice weekly a letter detailing conversations, opinions expressed by others, various acts, trysts and so on of any or all of those with whom he works and consorts. The prospective spy does not know, nor will he ever know, what object the police have ultimately in view, or how important it is, or for what stakes they are playing. He is[158] in reality on the outside rim of some gigantic movement the penetration of the inmost workings of which is being sought. Naturally he consents and enters the public service as an "agent of record."

In France, it is well established, each great newspaper has a spy who is in receipt of occasional tips from the proprietor. His duty is to watch editors, writers and reporters, their movements, the quality of the people they visit and how they spend their spare hours. These newspapers also employ their agents in other offices in order that items of special interest in the way of news shall not be omitted by their own papers. In the great banking-houses of Paris there are spies paid from inside to spy upon employees and spies paid from outside to spy on the especial details of the business, its investments, its intentions and plans, and even these men are spied upon in their turn to prevent their abusing their information on the Bourse. Politicians, senators—all these are watched by colleagues who draw salaries from the secret-service funds. Going back many years, it will be recalled that at a critical moment in his political career, General Boulanger fled from Paris because, as he explained to the reporters in Brussels, his enemies had decided upon his seizure and imprisonment. It was afterwards shown that the General's valet, one Georget, was a paid spy in the service of the police, and Boulanger had taken him to Brussels. Furthermore, the maid who waited upon Madame de[159] Bonnemain, Boulanger's mistress, was the sweetheart of Georget, and she also was a paid police spy, the result being that the movements of both were perfectly well known to the secret-service agents, who could have arrested the General at any one of the twenty stations between Paris and Brussels. The police were fully aware, indeed, as Boulanger himself was, that, his cause being discredited, he no longer counted in politics or society.

The French War Office is now as well informed as any war office in Europe and the war of 1914 may be held to have disproved the opposite view. Into its secret intelligence bureau flows information from every part of Europe. The military attaché of the present day is responsible for much that is pigeon-holed in its offices—services of transportation, war material, armaments, railroads, mobilisation plans, finances—and there is little of moment in any other country upon which French emissaries cannot throw all necessary light in the way of special information. From the General Staff down every military official collects his quota. He is trained what to observe, what to ask about, what to look for and what to expect—plans of fortifications, new guns, or parts of guns and so forth. Accordingly it is not surprising to hear that France, which had neglected to watch, or who more probably despised the internal enemy in 1870, had by 1914 perfected a system of counter-espionage which totally neutralised that of Germany in all directions. Since 1895 the French Code has been increased by[160] practically only one item of importance in regard to spies. The clause in question states that "all dealings with the enemy, by private French citizens, which shall have the effect of conveying knowledge that hostile armies can make use of in war shall entail penal servitude for life. In the case of officers or officials who are found to be transmitting information to the enemy the penalty shall be death."

Renan has declared that, to the honour of France, it has ever been found impossible to discover a traitor in her hour of trial. On the whole this statement may be taken as representing the truth, and in flagrant cases in which French citizens have been proved to have betrayed their country, it has almost invariably been proved that the offenders were of German origin.



In order properly and fully to understand the nature of the German system of spying, it is essential that we go down to fundamentals. The principles on which it is based may be said to have their roots in the character of the Germans themselves and that character has been largely developed by a special type of ethical education, the lines of which were to a great extent conceived by Frederick the Great as especially applicable to the qualities of his people, and subsequently elaborated into a kind of national philosophy by writers like Nietzsche, Treitschke, Bernhardi and others, all of whom were the leaders of that extreme pragmatical school of which we have spoken. Frederick, it may be said, was like his descendant[1] of to-day, William the Second, a man who outwardly professed religious principles and held the view that Religion is absolutely necessary in a State government. In the famous Matinées du Roi de Prusse, published in 1784, the Prussian monarch is made, however, to say that the value of religion for the people consists mainly in the fact that it enables their rulers to hold them more completely in subjection. For a King to have [162]any religion whatsoever is, he is also said to have declared, a very unwise policy, and for the reason, he adds, that "if a King fears God, or more exactly, if he fears a future punishment, he becomes a greater bigot than any monk. If a favourable opportunity presents itself of taking forcible possession of a neighbouring province, immediately an army of demons seems to him ready to defend it; he is weak-minded enough to think he is going to commit an injustice and he proportions the punishment of his crime to the extent of his evil designs. When he is about to conclude a treaty with some foreign power, all is lost if he stops to remember that he is a Christian, for by doing so, he will always suffer himself to be duped and imposed upon."

It is only right to state here that the Matinées have been disavowed as the work of Frederick himself, and in the British Museum catalogue are placed among the "doubtful and spurious" works relating to the King of Prussia. It may be pointed out, however, that the "Testament of Peter the Great" was also in its time disavowed, although the policies it lays down for the Russianisation of the Near East have always been followed to the letter by successive Tsars. It is certain, too, that the successors of Frederick the Great on the Prussian throne have followed in every sense the spirit of their ancestor's alleged teachings and counsels, as far as indicated by the work under consideration, and since the policies in regard to the conduct of war and government, which [163]were counselled as far back as 1784, are to-day being followed and improved upon by German commanders, we make no apology for assuming that the Matinées fully represent the mind of the monarch to whom they are attributed. As regards war, for example, here is the alleged opinion of Frederick:

Frederick the Great

The founder of modern organised espionage

"War is a business in which the slightest scruple is detrimental to one's arms and policies. It may be said that no sovereign can seriously enter into the business of war, if he feels he has not the right to justify pillage, incendiarism and carnage," a declaration which allows us to assume that at least one Hohenzollern heart would never have bled for the fate of Louvain, or Arras, or Rheims, in 1914.

Continuing to voice his opinions on religion, the King is made to say: "Whatever we may think inwardly, impiety is never to be displayed at any time, although we must adapt our sentiments and opinions to our rank and standing in the world. It would be the height of folly, if a monarch's attention was diverted by trifles of religion which are fit only for the common people. Besides, the most complete indifference for religious matters is the best means which a King can hold to prevent his subjects from becoming fanatics. My ancestors acted in a most sensible manner in dealing with religion, undertaking a religious Reformation which, while it gave them a glorious apostolic halo, at the same time filled their treasuries with money. The Hohenzollerns began by being pagans, of course, but became[164] Christians in the ninth century in order to please the Emperors; in the fifteenth century they became Lutherans in order to have an excuse to rob the Church, and Reformers again in the sixteenth, in order to placate the Dutch over the succession of Cleves."

In regard to Justice, Frederick declared that justice is due to the subjects of a State, although it is especially necessary that rulers should not be brought so far within the scope of justice that they become themselves subject to it. "I am too ambitious and autocratic by nature to suffer willingly the existence of another order within my States which should restrict my action. It was for this reason that I drew up a new code of laws. I am fully aware that I did away with the real spirit of justice, but the truth was, I had become rather afraid of the influence such notions exert among the common people. A King must not allow himself to be dazzled by the word Justice: it is only a relative term, and one which is susceptible of application and explanation in different ways. Everyone likes to be just in his own fashion, and as I early realised this, I decided to undermine the foundations of that great power Justice. And so it has only been by simplifying it as much as possible that I have been able to reduce it to the point where I wanted it to be—that is, to a minimum. I could never have accomplished anything had I been restrained by legal ideals. I might have passed for a just monarch, but I should never have won the title of a hero."


Of the value of a set policy in the world and as the only means of achieving any success, Frederick had very decided notions: "As it has been agreed among men that to cheat our fellow-creatures is a base and criminal act, it has been necessary to find a word which should modify the conception, and accordingly the term policy was adopted. By the word policy, I mean that we must always try to dupe other people. This is the only sure means of getting, not necessarily an advantage, but a fair chance of remaining on an equal footing. I am, therefore, not ashamed of making alliances from which only myself can derive entire advantage; but I am never so foolish as not to break faith when my interests require it, since I uphold the rectitude of the maxim that to despoil one's neighbours is to deprive them of the means of injuring one. Statesmanship can be reduced to three principles or maxims: the first is to maintain your power and, according to circumstances, to increase and extend it, just as I doubled my army on reaching the throne for the sole purposes of conquest. Make sure of your army; have plenty of money and bide a favourable time; you can then be certain, not only of preserving your States, but of adding to them. The term 'balance of power' is one which has subjugated the whole world; in reality, however, it is nothing but a mere phrase. Europe is a family in which there are too many bad brothers and relatives, and it is only by despising the whole system that vast projects can be formed. The[166] second principle is to make your allies serve you, and to throw them off when they have ceased to be useful. The third principle is to make yourself feared—this is the height of great statesmanship. All your neighbours must be led to believe that you are a dangerous monarch who is moved by no principle except martial glory. If they are convinced that you would rather lose two kingdoms than not occupy a prominent place in history, you are certain to succeed. Above all, let no one within your kingdom write anything except to extol your actions and efforts."

Given a political philosophy of this kind as the inspiration of the Prussian idea—"Kultur," they call it—it is not hard to realise that the essentially evil qualities of the government of Prussia were certain ultimately to react upon the character of the people themselves. If anyone should doubt the correctness of our view that non-constitutional systems of government invariably require the support of vicious subsidiary systems in order to assure their stability, as in the militaristic regime of Napoleon, or the quasi-ecclesiastical rule of Richelieu, a study of Prussian autocracy will soon put him in the way of settled conviction. Since the day of Frederick, some one hundred and twenty-eight years ago, the people of Prussia have only known such liberty as is consistent with a bureaucracy the underlying conditions of which are conceived on entirely military ideas—that is to say, the type of individual freedom which we are accustomed to associate with a feudalistic[167] regime or rule by martial law. People who travelled much on the Continent before the outbreak of the Great War may recollect how on crossing the frontier of Belgium into Germany—at Herbesthal, if we remember—one invariably seemed to experience much the same sensation as that of exchanging the atmosphere of some warm and comfortable sitting-room for the cold and formal conditions of a public office. Once across the border, the military spirit seemed to predominate everywhere, while among the friendly enough natives of the unofficial classes there was a subdued not to say cowed demeanour which was in saddening contrast with the free-and-easy cheeriness of the people just left behind. Everywhere was there evidence of set discipline and on all hands the spectre of officialism appeared to darken the daily lives of men with some sort of unexpressed threat. Even fair and open dealings seemed among the townsmen to be undertaken with the consciousness that at any moment some furtive official might come upon the scene and utter the irrevocable verboten—forbidden. Later in the noisy gaieties of the beer-garden or music-hall, one ever seemed to note that fear of the boisterous schoolboy who under the watchful eye of a forbidding master never ceases even in the fullness of his frolic to wonder just how far he is allowed to go. "Germany," says the admirable Price Collier, "has shown us that the short-cut to the government of a people by suppression and strangulation results in a dreary development [168]of mediocrity." In our opinion the American might have added that a nation which is ruled as if it were a country of convicts, actual or potential, cannot fail inevitably to develop in a pronounced degree those symptoms of character and predisposition which land your convict in the correctional institutions where he is most commonly to be found. "Prussia and Germany," again says Collier, "are still ruled socially and politically by a small group of, roughly, fifty thousand men, eight thousand of them in the frock-coat of the civilian official and the rest in military uniforms."

It is the fashion to say that Doctor Stieber was the organiser of the modern spy system of Germany, for the conduct of which some million pounds sterling are annually appropriated. The truth is, however, that the organisation goes much farther back, a well-known statesman of the Napoleonic period, Baron Stein, having been responsible for the practical application of the theories which lie implicit in the philosophy of Frederick the Great. In his turn, Stieber assumed control of the lines and developed them to a point at which improvement became almost impossible. Stieber was a typical adventurer of the middle class, a man who, it is clear enough, had in him all those elements of character which we associate with the criminal who operates along the higher lines. It is said that he qualified as a barrister, not so much with the object of practising law, as to discover its limitations, or in other words, to[169] know for a certainty how far scheming and the exploitation of simpler natures can be made a lawful trade. He was born in Prussia in 1818, and having been called to the Prussian Bar, sought to apply his knowledge of legal matters as a kind of counsellor in a Silesian factory, Silesia being in those days, 1847, the nursery of that vast school of Socialism which has since gained over twenty millions of adherents throughout Germany—indeed, one-third of the empire's entire population. By far the larger percentage of the workmen attached to the factory at which he was employed were Socialists, and Stieber realised that if he could only penetrate the secrets and methods of this important socialistic nucleus, he might prove undoubtedly serviceable to the central government in Berlin. Accordingly he joined the Socialist brotherhood, professing to be entirely in sympathy with their aims and aspirations, and in a short while became an acknowledged leader of the Silesian movement. As a man of superior education, Stieber gained admittance to the family of the firm which employed him, won the heart of his employer's daughter and married her.

It is certain that by 1848 he was already in touch with officials at the chief police bureau in Berlin, and traitor that he was, in order further to ingratiate himself with the Berlin authorities, Stieber persuaded his wife's uncle to enter into the Socialistic movement, the new recruit compromising himself so deeply by the violence of his radical opinions and utterances that, with[170] Stieber's complicity, he was denounced, arrested and imprisoned on the ground that he was inciting the Silesians to revolt against the government. To have been a Socialist about 1850 was, it may be said, as bad as to have been an Anarchist in the last years of the nineteenth century, when that movement was at its height. The arrest of a relative through Stieber's instrumentality was accordingly a real earnest of his good disposition towards existing authority, and it was readily realised that in this recruit there was all the baseness and treachery which Berlin looked for in its officials. Stieber was summoned to Berlin, where he was given a commission in the secret police, with the duty of allying himself to the Socialist movement and reporting as to its progress, designs and machinations to headquarters in Berlin. Parenthetically, it may be observed, the German word stieber is equivalent to our own term sleuth-hound, so that the spy was happy in his patronymic as well as mentally adapted for his traitorous trade. A writer has described him in the following terms:—"Herr Stieber is a man whose head, nose and ears suggest a Hebrew strain, although it is known that his father was a Gentile. There is in the general aspect of the face, and especially in the drawn lines of the mouth, much of that self-justifying hardness which is associated with the ideas given us of the Inquisition Fathers; his eyes are almost white in their colourlessness. With subordinates he adopts the loud airs of a master towards his[171] slaves, and when in the presence of high authorities he is self-abasing and quiet of voice, wearing a smile of perennial oiliness and acquiescence, with much rubbing of the hands, a Jewish characteristic."

His work in Silesia was so ably performed and so many arrests and imprisonments followed as the result of his services, that the Berlin authorities decided to employ their sleuth in the capital, where already the Socialists were becoming an important enough body. Armed with letters of introduction from his committees in Silesia, Stieber arrived in Berlin and forthwith became a member of the principal revolutionary clubs in the metropolis. The spy himself describes his presentation to King Frederick William: "My duties required me as a Socialist leader to head a procession of revolutionaries through the capital. At a point in the progress of our bands, the King appeared on the scene, and naturally felt but little at his ease, seeing that the Socialists were the avowed enemies of all existing forms of government and their representatives. Noting his trepidation, I approached his majesty near enough to say: 'Sire, have no fear. I am of your majesty's side and have taken every precaution for your safety. In the meanwhile I must proceed with my rôle of leading these poor deluded people.'" Notwithstanding that Stieber from this day became an object of suspicion to men of the Socialist clubs who had known him in Silesia, the influence of the King protected him and eventually took him[172] into the monarch's service with the title of "police-counsellor," a position which allowed him virtually to act on his own initiative and independently of the minister of police. Stieber's real business in his new post was to keep a close watch upon the ministerial or official police, and that he did so with particular satisfaction to the Prussian monarch, the latter one day admitted to the official chief of police who was complaining of the officious activities and energies of the police-counsellor, and suggested his removal on the ground that since the man was a traitor to those with whom he professed to adhere, he must necessarily be suspect in any cause in which he engaged. The King replied:

"Stieber is more devoted to his King than to any cause and I reward him well. He used to come to me from time to time and tell me what the Socialists were doing, what their plans and intentions were and how on one occasion they had debated the question of seizing the royal family and establishing a Commune."

The minister of police was accordingly forced to realise that Stieber had for several years been engaged in the double game of working for the secret service as an agent and at the same time of spying upon them at the instance of the King. A few days later he was appointed by his royal patron chief of the Prussian secret service with a salary of £1200 per annum. In his new capacity, as the confidential man of the sovereign and the head of a system which operated almost as much[173] against the official police as against revolutionary bodies, the spy had not only to organise the nucleus of that army corps of espionage which by 1912 was said to number 45,000 active agents, but had also to fight strong and influential enemies who saw with dismay the promotion of this unknown intruder. In order to effect the complete independence of his own body from all others which exercised kindred functions, Stieber suggested the entire modernisation and specialisation of his service with proper subsidies and adequate appropriations from parliament, the department to enjoy autonomy under its presiding chief. He undertook himself to organise an "internal" and an "external" service, and here it may be said that the Russian dual system of espionage has been based entirely on Stieber's ideas and, in so far, differs not at all from the secret service of Prussia, except possibly in that the almost entire absence of ideas of personal liberty renders illegal acts and outrages far more frequent in Russia than in Germany. It was Stieber also who inaugurated the well-established system of court-spying which is known to exist at all the German capitals; he was responsible for the corps of spies within government offices who spy upon departmental bureaux, while a highly efficient body of clerks who were employed in banking and commercial houses and all institutions which possessed large internal and foreign relations were also paid in proportion to tit-bits of information which they were able to place at the disposal of his cabinet.[174] To the King—clearly a worthy descendant of Frederick II.—Stieber, by virtue of his office, had free access and presented a daily report in person in which all and everything of any import concerning the public and private life of men and women was made known to the sovereign. On one occasion the King jokingly reproved his spy, saying: "You give me all the information I require regarding the private lives of my courtiers; but what about my brothers? They are certainly not angels."

"Your Majesty had not authorised me to spy upon the Princes," replied Stieber, "but in the meantime I had prepared myself against the possibilities of your Majesty doing so. Here are three sealed documents containing all there is to be known about their Royal Highnesses since I have had the honour of serving."

By 1854 the chief agent had become a personage in Berlin, and although the nobility of the higher rank would not receive him, Stieber found many valuable acquaintances among the wealthy "climbers" of the capital who were eager to be associated with the powerful chief confidant of the King. When the special-service department was in full running, Stieber was given orders to apply its methods to foreign countries and accordingly by 1860 Austria, Bohemia, Saxony, Luxembourg and France were under the observation of his employees. In 1855 the Reichstag voted an appropriation of about £15,000 in order to "secure for the State the benefits of useful intelligence," [175]the secret-service agent himself drawing some £1800 yearly from the fund. At this time, says a writer of the period, Stieber was the most prominent official in the kingdom. All were conscious of being closely watched by himself and his agents and everyone was aware that ruin and dismissal could be brought about at the nod of the chief, and accordingly Stieber effected the entrance of himself and his wife into some of the best houses in Berlin under veiled threats of disclosing secrets of moment unless his advances were respectfully received. About this time, too, Stieber began that collection of decorations which were to testify to the high honour and esteem in which his King and country held him. He had no proper military uniform and that which on official occasions he was wont to wear resembled not a little the quasi-regimental garb of the commissionaire. By 1860 it had become heavily covered with medals and decorations.

Stieber's activities had enabled him to learn so much as to the inner workings of the whole political and social fabric of Prussia and the Germanic nations that an attempt to abolish the private police system, undertaken by the Reichstag in 1855, had no practical result, although Stieber disappeared for a short while from official life in that year. It was certain, however, that the very extent of his private information had made him a man who was no less dangerous than important and who, in any case, was an individual who had to be calculated with. Bismarck, an[176] already-established figure in national politics, was the first to realise this in 1864, when he was president of the council of ministers and when Stieber was reinstated in active public life. In the previous couple of years he had occupied his comparative leisure by organising the Russian secret police, by discovering the manœuvres and designs of a certain French intrigante whose services were being used by diplomats, the Tsar conferring on him the order of Stanislaus and making him a large grant of money. Bismarck was well aware of the splendid services Stieber had rendered to Russia and it was with a view to making use of the chief's universal information that he attached him to the foreign office as a secret-mission agent, with instructions to proceed into Bohemia. It was already Bismarck's intention to strike down Austria, even as he had struck down Denmark in 1864 and as again he was to strike down France in 1870. Stieber's mission was to prepare the invasion of Bohemia by supplying Bismarck with all kinds of topographical information which must prove of the first importance to German military commanders. It was information which could only be acquired by a most minute inspection of the various military routes available into Austria, and Stieber felt that this could best be accomplished by disguising himself as a pedlar. His stock-in-trade consisted of religious statues and indecent pictures. During 1864, 1865 and 1866, the supposed pedlar, travelling with a small wagon, mapped out in the completest detail the[177] country through which the Prussian armies marched in the last-named year to the victory of Sadowa by which Austria finally surrendered any possible claim she may still have entertained to hold the headship of the Germanic States in Europe. Even Moltke, the Prussian organiser of victory, was astonished at the vast amount of valuable military information by which the spy had facilitated the rapid advance of his armies. "A man with a genius for military combinations could not have done better for his own purposes," declared the old Field-Marshal to Bismarck. King William, too, while occupying Brunn as his headquarters after Sadowa, requested the ex-pedlar to administer the town, explaining to both Bismarck and the commander-in-chief his reasons in the following words:—

"One must not confine oneself to giving money to spies. One must also know how to show them honour when they deserve it."

Stieber was Governor of Brunn, the capital of Moravia, for several months, a position which Napoleon had also allowed his spy Schulmeister to hold at several towns in his time. It has to be remembered, however, that in both cases the spies were in districts about which they were far better acquainted than any members of the military or political personnels. Expediency also counted for something in each appointment. At the close of the war he was appointed a Prussian privy-councillor and minister of the national police. Asked afterwards how much he had expended on[178] his network of strategic spies and traitors who practically sold Austria to Prussia in 1866, Stieber replied:

"One cannot set down in dollars the value of bloodshed which has been avoided, nor of victories which have been secured."



That Stieber was admitted to the more intimate confidences of Bismarck would seem indicated by the fact that in the year after Sadowa, the chief of police suggested, he tells in his Memoirs, that he should be entrusted with the task of doing in France what he had done in Bohemia. This was in June 1867, when he asked Bismarck for eighteen months' time in which to supply the Chancellor with all the military and regional intelligence of the French frontiers and invasion zones, which it was necessary to possess for a successful campaign. Prussia was then paying some £52,000 a year for the secret-intelligence service, and Bismarck was not slow to perceive that Stieber in his own way was making the path of victory more smooth for von Moltke's commanders. In the month of June the Chancellor had induced King William to confer on his police-minister the order of the Red Eagle, and in the course of the evening which followed the conferring of that decoration Bismarck and Stieber were for long engaged in conversation, the momentous nature of which was soon shown by the departure of Stieber, accompanied by his aides, Zernicki and Kaltenbach, into France with[180] the object of laying down base-lines, as the surveyors put it. Among the various results of that journey was the appointment of over 1000 spies within the invasion zones with "head-centres" at Brussels, Lausanne and Geneva. Another result of this journey, he himself tells, was his handing over to Bismarck some 1650 reports of fixed local spies, in the pay of Prussia, 90 per cent. of them Prussians, which called for (a) the drafting of large bodies of German agriculturists into districts which lay along the possible routes of advancing German armies, and (b) the sending of several thousands of female employees for service in public places as barmaids or cashiers. It was emphasised that these women should be "as pretty as possible." Several hundred retired non-commissioned officers were to be sent to France, where local "fixed spies" guaranteed them employment of a commercial kind. Furthermore in the garrison towns in the eastern departments some fifty young and pretty girls to act as servants in canteens were requisitioned by Stieber, who laid stress on the fact that women of a "high type of morality" would hardly serve his purpose, which was to extract information from drinking soldiers. Several hundred more domestic servants were to be placed among the homes of middle-class people such as doctors, lawyers, merchants. From the year 1867, and in pursuance of Stieber's plans, some 13,000 German spies of the minor order were asked for, itself a sufficiently large body of immigrants,[181] one would imagine, to awaken the suspicions of alert French people. Between that year and 1870, Stieber had added at least 20,000 more, all of them scattered in various kinds of capacities along the routes of intended invasion from Berlin and Belgium to Paris. There was one important interlude, however.

In 1867 an attempt was made on the life of Alexander II. of Russia by a Pole, when that Emperor was paying an important political visit to Napoleon III. Stieber was then in Paris with Bismarck, also attached to the staff of the King of Prussia, who was a participator in this meeting of sovereigns. Information had come to the Prussian minister of police that an attempt was to be made on the life of Alexander. Accordingly Stieber called on Bismarck, imparting to him this important information. Bismarck assured his police-minister that he was already acquainted with the plot to assassinate the Tsar.

"But," added the Chancellor, "we must allow this act to be attempted and for political reasons. Nevertheless, we can assure the safety of the Emperor by having the conspirators shadowed and arrested once they have fired their revolvers. You, Stieber, must have your men on the spot, and when the attempt is made, the assailant's aim must be deflected. The very fact that an attack is made upon the Tsar while in Paris will prevent the arranging of a Franco-Russian alliance which is not just now to the interests of Prussia, and if the would-be assassin is not condemned to[182] death, a period of estrangement must follow between France and Russia and this is just as I would have things to be."

As it fell out, a young Pole actually made the attempt on the next day. Stieber's men had shadowed him all through the night, till the very moment in which he fired at the Tsar, the outrage taking place, but without harmful results to the object of the attack. All had fallen out as Bismarck had foretold, and with the subsequent failure of a Paris jury to convict the youthful Pole, France was prevented, by the estrangement which succeeded, from assuring herself the friendship of an ally whose support might have changed the history of the Franco-German War of 1870. The story is told in detail in Stieber's own Memoirs, and we confess that, having read it several times with care, we are ourselves forced to the conclusion that Bismarck's supposition that a French jury would fail to convict the Pole was based upon something much more tangible than the arts and processes of divination. In other words, the impression left upon the mind is that Bismarck's gold had subsidised the conspirators in the plot as well as the Paris jurymen, in order to bring about a political situation which should not interfere with his plans. Bismarck had already more than once proved himself an expert in preparing his schemes far in advance, as the Danish and Austrian wars had already proved, and as the Franco-German War was even more fully to demonstrate.


When, in due course, and as a result of Bismarck's plan of forcing a fight on the French at the psychological moment, war was declared against France in July 1870, Stieber and his two lieutenants, Zernicki and Kaltenbach, left for the Front with the headquarters staff. His title was Chief of the Active-Service Police and his duties, drawn up by himself, were as follows:—

1. To provide information to the Staff regarding the situation, strength and movements of each of the French armies in the field.

2. To provide all possible details with regard to the age, the disposition and character and the personal and military reputation of each commander, his possible successor in the command and other superior officers. In respect of this provision, it is interesting to learn that part of the report regarding the late General de Gallifet, the cavalry leader and hero of Sedan, was given in approximately the following terms:—"This officer is one who under Napoleon the First would have held the highest rank. A real Frenchman, with his heart in the war and a hater of all things Prussian. A fighter for the initiative, by every instinct, a dangerous adversary and, for us, better dead. Should be watched; has no thought for anything in the present war but the success of the French arms."

3. Reports as to the political dispositions and temper of all districts for twenty miles ahead of the advancing Prussian armies, as well as[184] the capacity of each district for supplying the commissariat.

4. To have available at every point of importance traversed by our armies several persons of intelligence who can give directions as to routes, sources of supplies and so forth. In other words, the purchase of traitors.

5. To arrange that suitable persons shall be in residence at each important point who are willing to accommodate such persons as the Staff may designate.

When questioned by von Roon as to the likelihood of his being able to facilitate their armies' progress by supplying commanders with so much information, Stieber boastfully replied: "All this information is not only ready; it is already printed. Remember, my army has been entrenched in France for nearly two years." It was also at this time that Stieber informed von Roon that his army counted nearly 40,000 persons of both sexes—an army corps, almost. In the first three months of the campaign the chief of police held a position which was as much a puzzle to German generals themselves as to departmental officials connected with the army. Stieber, when Bismarck and the King of Prussia were not present, exercised a power which no general durst override, since his own department was officially independent and in war-time the existence of martial law added to his summary powers. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear that the boastful sleuth displayed a ferocity of[185] disposition to the conquered populations which one always suspects to be part of his base and treacherous character. As an exponent of the arts of terrorism, he must have regaled the heart of the bloodiest of Hohenzollerns. Children, old men and invalids were flogged, spread-eagle fashion, and in the presence of their parents and relatives, with the object of forcing the elders of municipalities to reveal information. Women and girls were violated in the same interests, while summary executions became the order of the police-minister's passing. "Oppose me," he would cry to cowering mayors and magistrates who begged mercy for their townsmen, "and I will hang a hundred of your people." The successful mongrel was clearly in his element in those days; nor did he omit any opportunity of adding to his collection of orders and medals with all of which he was accustomed to adorn his breast on every possible and impossible occasion. Not at all a welcome guest at mess-tables, the spy was nevertheless invited on more than one occasion to dine with Bismarck and his staff. We may easily suppose that the diplomatic corps gave the man the cold shoulder at all times. An official at one of these field banquets having just observed that the German army was invincible, Stieber, on his own record, jumped up brusquely and declared that the speaker should have said that the German armies were invincible. "My army," continued the braggart, "has already preceded your army by six months." Bismarck,[186] who had noted throughout the evening the many slights put upon the spy, thereupon rose from his seat and passed round to Stieber's, when "without a word, but looking straight into my eyes, he held out to me his left hand wide open, which I clasped tightly in both of mine," to quote the Memoirs.

What Bismarck was wont to term "action on the Press" was undertaken also by Stieber during the course of the war of 1870. For this purpose the sleuth had in 1868 requested Bismarck for an appropriation of £15,000 annually, in return for which he promised the Chancellor to make many of the important provincial and other French papers "talk Prussian," as he put it. In a large measure he may be said to have contributed to the modern importance which has grown up around the Press, and by 1870 he declared that he could control the opinions of some eighty-five writers in the French daily and weekly newspapers. He had divided his corps of writers into home and foreign bodies. Writers, for example, who were able to influence the insertion of articles favourable to Prussia and Prussian policies were paid several times the amount which they commonly received for their articles through the ordinary channels of remuneration. These foreign writers were not confined to France, but were active also in Austria, Italy and England. Well-known bankers, business men and the heads of news agencies—many of them German Hebrews—were the instruments through whom Stieber worked.[187] Most of these individuals were able, through acquaintanceship with professional leader-writers and journalists, to procure the insertion into articles of views held by the Prussian Government; such gentry were themselves receiving Prussian Orders and decorations, while their particular private scribes were rewarded in cash. It was by means of Germans occupying high positions in the public life of European countries that in 1864 the world was prepared intellectually for the partition of Denmark, in 1866 for the war with Austria and thenceforth for the federation of the Germanic States under the ægis of Prussia. It must not be imagined that this propaganda ceased with Prussia's attainment of the headship of the Teutonic Bond. Indeed, it may be said only to have been inaugurated with its early successes under Bismarck, whose control of a venal Press in Vienna, Rome and even London was hardly less effective in its day than that which he exploited and subsidised all over Germany. By 1870 Stieber had, he himself tells, assured himself of a Press in Lyons, Marseilles and Bordeaux, which kept the Prussian view openly and permanently before the inhabitants of those important cities.

There is a naïveté about Stieber's autobiography which recalls Le Caron. During a memorable evening spent in the company of Bismarck, "the most beautiful of my life," says the spy, conversation turned upon the question of opportunity as the condition of success in life. The Chancellor[188] sought to point the moral of his philosophy in the matter by the following words:—"Just consider, Stieber," he said, "how far and high destiny has led a tramp like yourself who was hated by everybody." That conversation, writes the spy, may become historic; and he rejoices to think of the good fortune which has enabled him to serve Bismarck, "assuredly the greatest of modern men." Again, he is frankness itself when he declares that his aide-de-camp Zernicki represented the elements of courtesy and kindliness, while he himself had no thought for anything but action and results and certainly no time to expend upon formalities. In all his remarks upon his records and successes we inevitably get the true note of the upstart who has achieved the power of making other men fear him. Thus, at Versailles, the police agent, for some minor offence, threatened to "hang ten members of the municipal committee as sure as my name is Stieber," and wrote to his wife recording the fact with much self-glory and glee. His part in the execution of a young gentleman, Monsieur de Raynal, was especially characteristic. This resident of Versailles, who had just recently returned from his honeymoon, had been in the habit of keeping a diary recording the daily occurrences of the German occupation. Stieber could easily have settled the matter with a reprimand. "No," he said, "I must have an example. M. de Raynal is a young man who writes very interesting matter. I am sorry for[189] him, but he will have to face the rifles. If he escapes, I will allow him to go free." When told that the young man had just recently been married, he replied with mock feeling, "That makes my duty all the more painful," and Raynal was accordingly shot. In truth the Prussian sleuth was an ideal type of the official who would "hang the guiltless rather than eat his mutton cold," and though there is no statistical record of the number of lives which he sacrificed in the interests of his policy of terrorism, there can be no doubt that it could only have been expressed in terms of scores.

On his arrival with the headquarters staff and the King of Prussia at Versailles in September 1870, Stieber took up his lodgings at an important hotel belonging to the Duc de Persigny and here he also housed his corps of active-service agents, numbering altogether 120. It is hard to credit the statement, but the authority, M. Paul Lanoir, declares that the police-minister was successful in enlisting the services of some 10,000 persons in Versailles who, in consideration of the payment of one franc daily, agreed to "acclaim with cheers and hurrahs the Prussian monarch and princes whenever they made their excursions into the neighbourhood." Another first-class authority, M. Victor Tissot, seems by his remarks to disprove the statement of Renan to the effect that it is well-nigh impossible to find a traitor among Frenchmen. Tissot assures us that Stieber's work in France was much facilitated by the fact[190] that the Prussian secret service was paying large salaries to important men in French public life, in return for information supplied. The same Paul Lanoir whom we have quoted above also states that Prussian gold has been active in French political life up till within quite recent times. He has met and still knows men, he says, who entered politics without a decent coat to their names who have become as if by magic possessed of splendid mansions, and whose wives, formerly milliners or washerwomen, have now taken to giving receptions on a lavish scale. These politicians would seem to be political only to the extent that they represent a purely personal policy of their own, for, says Lanoir, they continue to "champion the cause of the people," the assumption being that they are paid agents provocateurs in the service of Germany whose duty it is to keep the Republic in a state of such unrest that it must fall an easy prey to an attack from outside. M. Lanoir's statements apply, it is only right to add, to that period of grave unrest in France which succeeded upon the Church crisis and the Moroccan difficulties, and which may be said to have closed by 1911.

It is necessary unfortunately to follow this man Stieber to the close of his career and for the reason that the modern system of espionage in Germany, in regard to both its home and foreign relations, is based wholly on the methods which he laid down after the Franco-German War of 1870. He returned to Berlin a more important man than[191] ever, with several more decorations to add to his already heavily bestarred chest. At this period he possessed a house in the neighbourhood of the Hallesches Thor and was credited with the possession of about 1,000,000 marks or £50,000 sterling. His womenfolk proved a source of some anxiety to him in a social sense, and not even the patronage of the omnipotent Chancellor von Bismarck could induce the exclusive classes of Berlin to look upon them with favour. Prussian vulgarity possesses a brand entirely its own, and the House of Stieber appeared to be afflicted with all its worst symptoms, including the inability to realise that position, even supported by wealth, which owed its existence to a talent for exploiting the basest characteristics of human nature, must ever, except among the most servile and venal, remain isolated and practically ostracised during at least the life of its founders. We are therefore not surprised to learn that in order to maintain some outward semblance of an important rôle in society for his family, Stieber was forced to resort to a kind of blackmail, in which he threatened persons of high social worth, who consistently refused to meet his relatives, with the revelation of domestic secrets of the most intimate nature. In this way, he effected some progress, though it is also well known that he became instrumental in driving several notable personages permanently back to their country estates. Stieber himself made no secret of his philosophy in such matters. "To hold a certain power over men who are my[192] superiors, is the sweetest power I have known, and accounts in many ways for my success," is a remark attributed to the sleuth. Like many another well-known nouveau riche of modern days, whose rise to vast wealth has served only to emphasise an elemental ineptitude for the wielding of public power, Stieber feared the Theatre as a potential flagellant of his ignoble self, and to this end exercised, through subsidiary agents, a veritable censorship upon the German drama. In order to provide against this possibility of seeing himself burlesqued upon the stage by some rising Molière, he was at great pains to procure the position of censors for members of his personal acquaintance, and even in the literary world his secret influence was always at work. His ambition to possess the "particle of nobility," von, the old Emperor William firmly withstood, nor could the Chancellor move his master to include Stieber in any list promoting the sleuth to Adelstand, as the Germans term the condition of noble rank.

It was perhaps with some remorseful consciousness of the sorry tenor of his whole career that Stieber, about 1875, decided to exercise his talents in a more important branch of high politics than had been possible up to that time. Perhaps, too, it was with his pathetic quest of a patent of nobility in view that the sleuth thought out a plan for the consolidation of imperial Germany, which in his opinion must recommend itself to his omnipotent friend Bismarck. We do not, of[193] course, rely implicitly on all he says in his Memoirs; but there is little doubt that his intimacy with the Chancellor was of the closest kind and that Bismarck encouraged his police-minister's counsels to every possible furtherance of imperial plans. It used credibly to be said that Stieber, who was, of course, a man of good education, especially sought out the historian Mommsen with a view to discussing with that luminary something about the secret of Rome's predominance in the world and of her hold upon her conquests. No records remain of any such conversations if they ever really took place, but we may be sure that if they did take place, Stieber was put in full possession of those principles of "dividing in order to govern"; of the strategic value of roads; of the garrisoning of subject countries by the troops of races mutually antipathetic; of the value of blood-letting in political combinations, to quote a memorable phrase of Napoleon. In any case by the year 1880, Stieber had presented a memorial to Prince Bismarck the political effects arising from which have been seen down to the most recent times and have mainly contributed to the costly militarism of the past generation. The railway systems of Germany were to be developed in the main with regard to their strategic military values, a consideration which had only been partly realised in the earlier construction of lines. In the second place, large appropriations for German Secret Service funds were annually to be set aside with the object of buying, or placing, traitors in every[194] great country in Europe with which the German Empire, in accordance with its plan of dominating the Western World, was likely ever to come into conflict. As will be seen later, no country in Europe became exempt from the operations of German emissaries whether as spies or else as the agents of domestic unrest and revolution and all to the end that the new urbs sacra, Berlin, should be to the modern world all that Rome was to that of antiquity. It is not difficult therefore to understand that the secret-service fund sanctioned by the Reichstag had grown from £52,000 in 1867 to the sum of £800,000 in 1910.



The German railway system radiates from Berlin, not according to the concessional plans of other countries, but in accordance with the definite warlike designs and conceptions of the military authorities whose ulterior aim is a confederation of all European States governed from Berlin. Thus, the great network of railways is divided into military divisions, the most familiar of which to us are Berlin, Magdeburg, Hanover and Cologne, the first of the strategic lines of attack which is directed like a pistol at the French frontier and which co-operates with parallel systems with depôts at Coblentz and Elberfeld. Along these lines German military authorities profess to be able to transport, within twenty-four hours of the order to mobilise, a number not far short of 1,000,000 men, together with full equipment, commissariat and war material. At the head of each of the railway divisions is a military officer whose functions are much similar to those of a general commanding an army; under him is a staff of officers, non-commissioned officers and men who in reality "run" the system and are responsible for its working in regard to freights, passenger transportation and time-schedules. And since[196] the railway systems are designed primarily for military purposes—as were the old Roman roads—little if any consideration has been paid in their construction to commercial or industrial requirements. In every respect the systems are regarded as, first of all, the means of military transportation, and accordingly, wherever any portion or portions of a given line may appear to be exposed to hostile attack, principles of ordinary fortification are adopted. The depôts are mainly built with commissarial objects in view. The personnel of the systems, guards, ticket collectors, engine-drivers, are all military in every sense (including the worst) of that term, as no one who has ever travelled over the German-Belgian boundaries at Herbesthal and met the dictatorial German railway guard for the first time will require to be told. Along these lines, which radiate from Berlin to the French frontier, it has been laid down as one of the most stringent of official German regulations that:

"No native of Alsace or Lorraine, even if performing his military service in Germany, shall, under any circumstances whatever, be recruited or admitted in any capacity, no matter how minor, for employment on German divisional railroads."

On the other hand Stieber had seen to it that as many hundreds of Alsatians and Lorrainers who were willing to enter his service should be employed by the French railway systems at the other side of the Frontier as soi-disant Frenchmen. In accordance with their engagement to serve[197] Stieber, they were paid at the rate of twenty-five per cent. of the wages they were drawing from their French employers, and until 1884 there were at least 1500 of them so serving both the French system and the German espionage bureau. In 1884 the French Government was roused to a realisation of the peril of allowing these men to work on their railroads, and they were rapidly removed. It is on record that in 1880 Stieber had promised the old Emperor William that on the day on which Germany should again mobilise her armies, he himself could guarantee for the railways of France over 1000 trusted agents who were prepared, by destroying locomotives and other railroad stock, to paralyse the French mobilisation to the Frontier in such a way that German armies should have fairly approached the capital before the Republic had got her forces decisively in hand.

In regard to the second part of his programme—namely, that which was to create factions, unrest and revolutionary conditions in countries which were to become the objects of German military aggression—Stieber developed the ideas which still hold good in the plans of the German Secret Service. The main principle underlying his plan of campaign was the fomenting of industrial disorders. In each case a literary propaganda was to precede action, which was first to be undertaken by trained spies and agents provocateurs who were capable, by the common methods of political and industrial agitators, of promoting class antipathies. German enterprise in this[198] respect has not been confined to France, but has been active in every country in Europe, including England. In 1893 the successor of Bismarck, Count Caprivi, signed an appropriation of £4000 for the purposes of "providing foreign pamphlets and publications useful to the policy of the Empire." In later years the sum was increased to £20,000, while a number of paid agitators, inciting the great industrial centres of France, of Belgium, of Russia and (it is recorded) of England, is said to have drawn large sums from the German funds. The recent epidemic of industrial strikes in France, Russia and England is declared to have been fomented by paid agitators working on behalf of German authorities—some of them unconsciously, and as a result of the influence exerted by publications which had been subsidised by German gold. There are French writers who still maintain that the Dreyfus agitation was initiated and supported with the connivance of the highest military authorities in Berlin for the purpose of destroying one of the most potent forces in France—namely, belief and trust in the Army. Most of us, at all events, will recollect how towards the close of the momentous Affaire, when the Republic was already weakened by the series of national and international crises attending on the entire event, ominous threats of mobilisation were more than once made from Berlin. Again, the memorable Associations Bill, which enacted the disestablishment of the Church in France, was said to have owed its conception to[199] German secret-service agents. To this movement—bound in any case to awaken the cupidity of venal politicians, in view of the vast Congregational possessions involved—succeeded the era of Syndicalist unrest, and finally the outbreak of the war of 1914. Nor can Englishmen forget that the so-called Agadir incident of the spring of 1911 coincided with one of the most devastating strikes Britain has yet known. In view of what we now know, there can hardly be a doubt that German plans and policies had meditated the paralysing of our transport system and our coal-supplies. Nor is there, again, the least possible doubt that for many years past German "philosophers," drawing pay from the secret-service funds, have been instructing British as well as French and Russian workmen in the art of combining "in defence of their rights" against the privileged classes. In Germany such revolutionary doctrines never leave the theoretical stage, nor could they do so, given the system of government which is in principle and practice hardly different from martial law. Most people who have been resident for any time in Germany will, in this regard, recollect an old piece of advice which friendly elders are accustomed to give their juniors—namely, that in the Fatherland every good citizen is required to "pay taxes, build barracks and shut his mouth." When one considers this pearl of civic wisdom in conjunction with the unwritten law which requires that even the public portraits of all royal and princely[200] personages shall be criticised favourably, or not at all, one is bound to admit that anything like Anglo-Saxon liberty of opinion or outspokenness is still far removed from the ordinary life of your German of to-day.

In order to indicate the operation of the German secret service in regard to the spreading of revolutionary unrest among neighbouring countries, we cannot do better than cite the publication which was addressed to Ireland, the supposedly "revolted province," in the early days of August 1914. Here are the terms of that historic manifesto which moved all Ireland to mirth for many a day:


"Have you forgotten that England is your only enemy?

"Have you forgotten, Kathleen, that you are willing to shed your blood to win England's battles?

"Have you lost your wits that you believe all the ridiculous lies published against the Germans in the Jingo papers?

"Have you forgotten how the English treated the Boers?

"Have you forgotten Ninety-Eight?

"Have you forgotten the Manchester Martyrs?

"Have you forgotten the K.O.S.B. murders?

"Have you forgotten that the Future lies in your hands?


"Have you forgotten that England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity?

"God Save Ireland."

It is hardly necessary to say that so obviously crude and inartistic an appeal had no effect upon an essentially acute and artistic race; and its positive inartisticity bears the hall-mark of your Prussian's incapacity for entering into the more intimate feelings of men of other nations, a point which need hardly be laboured, having in view recent and current bovine misconceptions on the part of German diplomatic agents both in Europe and America.

A more serious attempt to "revolutionise" French railway systems was made in 1893 some few months after the granting of £4000 from the secret-service funds for the purposes of international pamphleteering. In August of that year the Mesnard pamphlet made its appearance containing an appeal to all workers connected with the railroad systems of France and urging them to take advantage of their country's dependence upon them in order to wring concessions in money from the Government, failing which a general and permanent strike was to be declared having the inevitable result of paralysing the country's energies and exposing it to attack on the part of its traditional enemy. The pamphlet was proved to have been issued from Geneva, a chief centre of the German international secret-service body. It was promptly disavowed by[202] the labour unions of France, and it was well recognised at that period that its appearance was timed to create an industrial upheaval to coincide with the friction which the Dreyfus Affair was then causing between French and German diplomatists. During the course of several general strikes which have taken place in France within the past twenty years, it has clearly come to light that the charitable subscriptions made in support of the families of strikers by Frenchmen have been exceeded by contributions coming from German "sympathisers," in the proportion of twenty sovereigns to one. In the famous strike of boot-makers at Amiens in May 1893, for example, local subscriptions amounted to £48. At least £1000 was sent direct from Frankfurt![2] "In the last fifteen years," wrote Lanoir in 1910, "the instigation of strikes in French industries has been raised by the directors of the German Secret Police to the degree of a real principle of government." The same authority states that in 1893 he heard an ultra-Radical parliamentary candidate for the Seine Department declare that a German admirer, whom he did not know, had sent him £100 towards his election expenses. Stieber in his Memoirs affects to believe that this sum is [203]commonly sent to any French parliamentarian who advocates a policy which is thought to be useful to German imperial interests.

Stieber died in 1892, being honoured with a public funeral at which the highest personages in Berlin were officially represented. His fortune amounted to nearly £100,000 of our money and he possessed both a town residence in Berlin and a villa in the Hartz Range. He had been successful in accumulating throughout his public career twenty-three decorations testifying to his Honour, and as this would appear to have been his chief ambition in life, there can be little doubt that the sleuth died happy. It is customary to say that Stieber took with him to his grave the essential secrets underlying his organisation of a national system of internal and external espionage. Frankly we think that this can hardly have been the case, since the operations of German espionage have at all times clearly proved themselves traceable to definitely ascertainable objects and plans. Nor do we think that the German system holds anything more in the way of elemental secrets to be revealed, and the excellent systems of counter-espionage adopted by British and French authorities justify us in our belief. Price Collier's pregnant statement that the Germans have organised themselves into an organisation, ahead of which they are incapable of thinking or planning, may well be held to apply to their organised espionage, and Stieber's elaboration of its arts may be taken to have reached the highest[204] possible point. In bursts of friendly confidence, and presumably as a matter of proving the ineluctable superiority of the Teuton over the poor Anglo-Saxon, German lecturers in English universities have occasionally permitted their patriotic sentiments so far to exceed the bounds of official reticence as to throw a certain amount of light upon this mystic bag-of-tricks which is going to assure to the House of Hohenzollern the overlordship of the five continents and the seven seas. According to one of these German professors whom we well and, indeed, affectionately remember, the high priests of the policy of Prussianisation have thought out the whole matter along lines alleged to have been laid down by the Hebrew Elders in accordance with their policy of recovering the world for the Chosen Race. According to this interesting system of Jewish Eugenics, the racial stock of Sem is to be permanently assured as to its integrity by enforcing the marriage of all male Jews with Jewesses. Result: all-Jewish offspring. The superfluous women of the Hebrew families are to be distributed as far as possible among the Gentile males, especially among those who possess means, with the object of ensuring that the resultant offspring shall possess such an admixture of Jewish blood as to make it at least sympathetic towards Jews and Jewish ideas. And as sympathetic qualities come in the main from the distaff side, the eugenic results must inevitably favour Hebrew propagandism. We might go[205] further into this matter and point out that the Jewish rite of circumcision was not meant to be simply hygienic in its effects and reach. We will not labour the point, however, but proceed to indicate the analogy—according to the learned German lecturer.

Prussia, said our authority, had appropriated large sums from the indemnity of £200,000,000 sterling which she had obtained from France in 1870, for the purpose of establishing her "national missionaries" in every quarter of the world. Men were chosen according to their abilities to preside over the destinies of foreign commercial houses, banking institutions, agencies of all kinds, commission and money-lending businesses and contracting corporations. These men were really in the pay of the Berlin authorities who were financing the various firms in question and paying their agents large or small profits in proportion to the turnover of each particular business. It was, however, certain that every German, no matter what his position, was really acting in the interests of Germany, and so the ubiquitous German clerk was enabled to undersell the labour of the British clerk for the good reason that the deficit was offset in his particular case by a quarterly grant from official German sources. The intermarriage of Germans with British women was not only smiled upon, but a premium was actually paid in each case and unknown to the women. The children were, as far as possible, brought up in sympathy with German institutions[206] and ideas and taught to revere the chief of Hohenzollern as the potential overlord of every country which came within the operations and purview of German ambitions and land-lust. In the event of war and in accordance with this propagandism, "everything went," as the Americans say. In the early days of the conquest of Belgian territories in 1914 we saw how particular attention was paid to the younger unmarried women, as in Louvain, to give but one example. These women were interned in a sort of concentration camp and systematically seduced, making it a last possible hope for many a hapless victim to accept a German husband, who in his own turn was offered either a premium or promotion, whether civil or military, for marrying the lady, as the saying is. It is not necessary to pursue this theme to the extent to which it is capable of being emphasised. It is sufficient for us to reflect that the main principles upon which German ideas of conquest are based are not only vicious and immoral in themselves, but are openly admitted and encouraged by the German civil, military and cultural authorities who have raised their apostolic voices in the cause of Prussian propagandism. Those who possess even an elementary acquaintance with the history of nations do not require to be told that, with the object of forcing "sympathies," methods quite as outrageous as those cited above have more than once been resorted to and, notably, in the early days of Rome's founding. It has been[207] well said that Stieberism has had the result of demoralising the entire German nation by putting a premium on treachery and immorality in the pursuit of special information and so has made that trade a career open to the talents of all who care to adopt it. Responsible ministers have declared more than once in the imperial parliament at Berlin their concurrence in the view that "all is justifiable" in the interests of the future of the Fatherland, and in this regard we remember that not so long ago Herr Richter, the leader of the Opposition, raised a protest reflecting on the doubtful character of the secret-service agents of the Government only to receive from Puttkamer the now-stereotyped retort:

"It is the right and duty of the German Imperial Government to employ all possible and necessary methods in order to secure for the State the benefits of useful intelligence, and if the Minister of Police has had success by employing doubtful persons for his purposes, I personally express to him my satisfaction and thanks."

The particular methods to which Richter had taken exception included the bribing of magistrates, politicians and wealthy industrialists to give up information in their possession. Some of the most disreputable night-houses in Berlin were protected by the police for the reason that they had become the fashionable rendezvous of officers and diplomatists who, in their cups, were easily induced to give up information regarding their superiors, which the secret-service sleuths[208] were anxious to obtain with the object of creating situations that left important public men at their own mercy or else at the mercy of men immeasurably higher up. Much has been written about the "high sense of virtue" which prompted the famous revelations which were made by Harden in his publication Die Zukunft in 1907. We do not personally question the sense of virtue possessed by the German editor, but it is certain that the opinion was current in Berlin in the succeeding year that reasons of State had required the removal from official life of many of the high social and political personages implicated in the scandals, and that the apparently "private" information possessed by an editor was selected as the easiest means of forcing them irrevocably from public life. Knowing what we do of the exiguous liberties of the Prussian Press, it is quite obvious that the life of an editor who should venture, of his own initiative and authority, to divulge a tenth part of the story which was printed in the Zukunft, would not have been worth an hour's purchase in militaristic Berlin. And here we recur to the statement once made by an old servant of Frederick the Great to the famous Count d'Antraigues: "That day on which you begin to imagine your services are indispensable to him will be your last day. He has no heart, and the very thought that you possess a claim on his friendship will suffice to destroy you."

It is essential before passing from Stieber to consider his methods of covering a foreign country[209] with a fully organised system of German spies, and all the more so because the work done in modern days by Steinhauer and his congeners is based altogether on the conceptions of Bismarck's sleuth. We have seen that in 1870, when the German armies crossed the frontiers of France, they had already been assured, through the energies and foresight of Stieber, of the co-operation of some 36,000 spies in Northern and Eastern France who were to smooth the way for von Moltke's advancing legions. Indeed, Stieber's work largely discounts that of both Bismarck and von Moltke, if it does not wholly supersede it. In his Memoirs the sleuth tells how Bismarck, when told that Jules Favre was putting out feelers for the surrender of Paris in 1871, sent for his lieutenant, instructing him to keep Favre under the closest possible observation during the course of the negotiations. The Prussian and French statesmen met at Versailles, where Stieber had made all necessary arrangements for lodging the visitor. He selected for this purpose, and unknown, of course, to Favre, the headquarters of the German Secret Police Service—Stieber's own office. The Frenchman was given as valet a man whom the proprietor highly recommended. This valet was Stieber himself, who, during Favre's whole stay at Versailles, acted for the statesman in the most menial capacities, taking care during his master's absence to ransack the latter's luggage and examine all his voluminous correspondence entering from Paris. Stieber boasts[210] that much of the information he thus obtained formed the basis of the negotiations on which peace terms were concluded. Moritz Busch in his Memoirs makes no especial mention of the sleuth's services in this regard, and we may dismiss Stieber's claim to have counted for much in the peace negotiations as being characteristically overdrawn.

He was, however, active in the remapping of the invasion zones in 1871 for the operations of his corps d'espions, the members of which, in regard to all French territories, were from that year chosen mainly from among the French-speaking Swiss. He laid it down as a condition of the "fixed-point" spy's employment that he should be the keeper of a shop of some kind, a public-house, a tobacconist's, an hotel, a grocery of an established character and certain to attract custom from the townspeople. Each spy was to assume the character of an honest peace-loving citizen, anxious to give public service and make himself personally popular. He was to receive in payment some £4 a week besides out-of-pocket expenses to Brussels, or Lausanne, or Geneva where his particular reports were made and whence his salary was paid every month in the form of business remittances. The system of counter-espionage adopted in France during the past five and twenty years has undoubtedly had the effect of neutralising the work of the fixed-point agent. Nevertheless, it is certain that in August 1914 there were some 15,000 of them[211] still operating throughout France. Paul Lanoir gives a specimen of the remittance letters which pass between the chief spy inspector and his agent, the fixed-point expert. In some cases they are ordinary business letters; but in the larger number they affect to be communications between relatives. Thus:

"My dear George,—I am sending you the interest on your loan. We never can forget your generous act in coming so promptly to our assistance. Things are not going too badly; next year, perhaps, you may have a larger share in our profits, and we are anxious you should have as much as possible. But write more often giving us fuller news. Do not abuse Uncle Charles; he is a very good man who is to be trusted always. We are all well here, but have only just managed to pull through a hard winter. My husband and the children send you our greetings, as also do Charlotte, Charles and Frederick. Your loving sister."

Occasionally a man is suspected of being a spy. He is asked to produce his foreign correspondence, and does so, giving some such letter as the above in token of his integrity.

"There!" he is certain to say, "that's the sort of spy I am—a kind and loving brother who has lent money to his relatives to keep them out of the poorhouse. And this is a letter which encloses me the interest on my loan." And then, of course,[212] the fixed-point agent gives way to tears. Nevertheless, the above apparently harmless message is well understood by our spy who reads it as follows:—

"I enclose your salary for the past month. Your reports of last month are not bad. On the whole your work is satisfactory and next year you may get a better salary. Nevertheless, your reports are too few in number; work harder, send more. Don't trouble about Uncle Charles; we have all the information we require. We got through the last inspection without loss of salary. Keep up your relations with your correspondents."

It is obvious that our residential spy is not allowed to select his place of business at random. His location is at some strategical point in the line of military advance, mapped out some years ahead. Thus, our agent can spy upon the local garrison, upon a military post, a railway depot, a terminal, and at any critical moment he has his own corps of agents—some of them, alas, unconscious traitors—ready, for a few francs, to do his bidding, among them, perhaps, a poor charwoman or an unemployed labourer. In country towns in France it is not hard for a prosperous man of business to make friends with the officers of the garrison. Sooner or later and after a series of visits to the billiard-table, or the hotel bar, he discovers among his military acquaintances needy[213] young officers who are in debt, who have lost heavily on the race-courses, and it is not long before he begins to talk of his large winnings on the turf. The way is quickly opened to a loan, and then the German Secret Service begins to find out things. Naturally our residential spy keeps his book of expenses and is duly recouped for his outlays on drinks, dinners, race-course visits and loans, with interest at 5 per cent. And if the spy is unable to make headway with a young officer, there is always a possibility of his being able to bribe the officer's wife or mistress, and his allowance of earnest-money is practically unlimited. So that, when we consider how our agent is a man of leisure who fishes the local streams, and has plumbed their various depths; how he keeps horses and knows the average amount of forage available in his town at any given moment; how he has shot over the outlying country and knows the lie of the land for miles around; how he is on visiting terms with every local farmer and knows his resources—why, it is not surprising that when German armies are moved across the frontiers, they should know every step of the country much better than the inhabitants themselves are likely ever to know it. And so with Belgium and England, where there is not a farmhouse, a strategic copse or upland, the depth of a river, or military capacity of a given road, which is not as well known to the headquarters staff in Berlin as to our own ordnance-surveyors.



The strategic ideas laid down more than two thousand years ago by Polyænus, of whom we have spoken in an earlier chapter, and to whom Napoleon admitted some indebtedness, are evidently rated high among the military authorities of the Berlin military academies. It is therefore not surprising to learn that in accordance with the Greek's teachings every foreign general or superior officer of note who is considered likely ever to play a prominent rôle in European wars, is in each case as well known to the German military authorities as he is to his own military superiors. His personal character, disposition, virtues, vices and foibles, once an officer reaches to high rank and acquires a reputation as a possible commander, all form the subject of one of those dossiers with which the Dreyfus case made us so familiar. It is a main part of the duty of our fixed-point agent to collect all sorts of information regarding the chief garrison officers at the town in which they are established and transmit the resulting data to their inspectors by whom, when verified, they are forwarded to military headquarters. The especial categories which[215] claim the attention of the German authorities are the following:—

(a) Generals and officers of superior rank and high repute.

(b) The staff-college professors at Saint-Cyr, the École Polytechnique and Saint-Maixent, the disciplinarians, bursars and superior employés of these institutions.

(c) The managers of all arsenals and military establishments.

(d) All aides-de-camp and staff-officers.

(e) All superior employés in the department of the Ministers of War and the Navy.

(f) Special information as to the financial and domestic conditions and relations of all those officers mentioned in the above categories who are known or thought to be "unsettled" in their mode of life.

It is also stated that promising cadets from the military and naval academies are at once registered at Berlin and honoured with their respective dossiers. Lanoir is the chief authority for the above-mentioned details, and as a trained journalist, he gives an instance of the working of the spy in a case which came directly under his notice. The fixed-point agent in question had found it somewhat difficult to penetrate into the society of the superior officers at a garrison town. He therefore decided to find out all he required through certain subaltern officers who were accustomed to frequent his place of business—an hotel, as it happened. Accordingly he called in[216] the services of an occasional visitor at the house—a commercial traveller who was also a spy in German pay. Possessed of all those gifts of the genial man of the world, the supposed commercial traveller found no difficulty whatever in winning the confidence of junior officers whose social talents were far in excess of their means and who were quite willing to overlook the inferior rank of their new acquaintance when they discovered that with him the spending of money was altogether a small consideration. It was not long before one of the subalterns had confessed that inability to keep up his position had necessitated sending in his resignation, which had been duly forwarded to the authorities. Expressing sympathy in a fatherly way, the traveller requested the young officer to inspect his own military papers. "You will see that I, too, have done my duty to France," he said, handing over some forged certificates attesting military service, for the manufacture of which Berlin has a special department. "Knowing me for a good Frenchman, perhaps you will treat me with more confidence." The commercial man goes on to propose that the subaltern shall enable him to do business with the officers of the garrison. His particular line of goods is hosiery, which he is willing to sell to officers, since he is an ex-soldier himself, at almost cost price. The subaltern is naturally interested, but declares that he knows nothing about business. The tempter then tells his young friend that in reality he is travelling for his own[217] firm and can make a profit on the goods even if he allows the subaltern 50 per cent. on everything sold. "For every £4 worth of hosiery I sell, you shall have a cheque for £2. As for the difficulty of introductions—just say I am your cousin; it is done every day and all over France. It will be worth £250 a year to you." The poor subaltern is not long in falling, and by the end of the next month the commercial traveller has wormed his way into the officers' quarters, has learned all there is to be known about the ammunition and ordnance stores, together with personal details about superior officers, which he could never have obtained in any other way. German money is making up the deficit on hosiery sold at cost price, but in return Germany is getting far more than her money's worth in military intelligence.

Lanoir also gives an instance in which one of the most promising French officers of his generation was, less than a score of years ago, paid £8000 by a supposed man of wealth, a casual garrison-town acquaintance, in order to rescue his father from bankruptcy. The information had come to the ears of the German tutor of a French General to whom our young officer was acting as aide-de-camp; the tutor forthwith informed the German fixed-point agent, with the result that the offer of £8000 was subsequently made and accepted, the young officer in question ultimately transferring his services to the dossier bureau attached to the Secret Police in Berlin.[218] Another officer is said to have been given a sufficient fortune by the German War Office to make him an eligible parti in the eyes of the daughter of a well-known French General who was said to possess especial knowledge regarding mobilisation plans and arsenal material. The officer, whose heart was elsewhere, as they say, accepted the commission from Berlin, paid half-hearted court to the lady in question, but was seen sufficiently often in her company to justify the local agent's belief in the young man's assertion that things were going on famously. On his promise to supply Berlin with copies of documents belonging to his fiancée's father, they consented to advance £10,000. He thereupon drew up plans of mobilisation of his own, as well as details regarding artillery, which he had himself thought out. Eventually the price was paid in full, our officer promising to reveal much more when the wedding was over. Then he went off with the other lady, and Berlin was badly beaten, though not, it is certain, for the first time. Within the past ten years it is well known that large sums of money have been on several occasions paid for intelligence regarding French and Russian fortifications, the plans and specifications having been drawn up by individuals who had deliberately devoted themselves to military studies in order scientifically to produce the "information" in question. Such a set of plans was sold to Germany in 1909 by a Pole, for a sum exceeding £4000. It is, however, not often that the German military experts are[219] caught nodding, their sources of primary information being as a rule excellent. They take few risks, but then there is no source of possible information which they overlook. This being so, the extravagant wife of an army man is always an object of interest to them, and many an officer has fallen, owing to his desire to shield a venal wife, blackmail, in such a case, being invariably the method of coercing the husband.

If ever a nation has proved to the world that she is devoid of essential military genius, that nation is Germany. Her successful campaign of 1870 was almost entirely due, as we have seen, to the preparations and plans laid down by Stieber and his co-adjutors as well as the fact that France had relied too much upon the traditional ability of the French armies to cope successfully with those of Germany. The same may be said of Germany's "marvellous advance" towards Paris in 1914, which was really a triumph for organised espionage and by no means a proof that military genius was inspiring the movements of the Kaiser's hosts. This organised system of espionage has for some years been in the hands of Major Steinhauer, the present chief of the Berlin Secret Service, and evidently a worthy successor to Stieber. Belgium, as all know who have studied German methods in what has been long known as the "penetration area" of the Netherlands, was so completely in the hands of German spies at the outbreak of the war, that it was only the failure, by a rare miscalculation, of the Berlin military[220] authorities to have forwarded adequate siege-guns to Liège which prevented the Imperial armies marching through the country in a week and reaching France sooner. The entry into the Belgian capital of 700,000 men, without confusion or mishap, has been credited to the military genius of von Kluck and his lieutenants, the fact being entirely overlooked that in view of the inevitable war which Berlin expected to take place before 1915 (as a well-known German newspaper-proprietor told American and Canadian reporters in 1910) the German Secret Service authorities had made an especial appropriation from their funds for the purpose of placing some 8000 spies on the various routes of march between Aix-la-Chapelle and Saint-Quentin. As a result, the very quarters of the various regiments of German invading forces had been marked out for occupation by the Berlin authorities at least two years ahead, while for the purposes of lodging important personages, special hotel managers had been installed several months before August 1914. In Brussels as well as in Paris the city had been so well mapped out that, as American correspondents reported, distinguished officers arriving by rail at the Gare du Nord or the Gare de l'Est gave their instructions as couriers might have done, without doubt or hesitation, to the cabmen at the stations. All these preparations had been made by German fixed agents whose various residences throughout the line of advance bore the familiar caricature of "Kluck's cow." As the event[221] proved in Belgium, such fixed spies had become, from lengthy and normal residence in the various cities, so familiar to Belgian inhabitants that these last supposed them to be either the victims of the German billeting process, or else compulsory agents under the terms of martial law. In Paris matters had been prepared so far in advance that it had been decided to give a representation of Sudermann's Heimath at the Comédie Française, at which the Kaiser and his Staff were to be present. That chronically disappointed potentate was to reside, the German papers of the time declared, at the Élysée, the President's abode, while the procuresses of Paris, mostly Germans, felt, in view of the commissions already distributed in advance among them, emphatically assured that their financial millennium was to arrive with the German Staff. It had even been arranged, by way of a spectacular revanche, that the so-called War Lord was to visit the Invalides, where Napoleon's body reposes, and there possess himself of the great soldier's sword, as the Corsican had, in 1806, possessed himself of the sword of Frederick the Great, saying as he took it, "Ceci est à moi"—this is mine. The military set-back was in all probability the least which the Emperor William suffered by his failure to "hit" Paris as a Westerner might put it, seeing that the Kaiser can hardly be called a military man in any practical sense of the term.

In regard to the fixed spies in Belgium, it has to be noted that they were not all, as far as is[222] known, natives. Competent Belgian journalists declared at the outbreak of the present war that, at the defeat of France in the war of 1870, Germany had already laid down plans for eventually overrunning and annexing both Belgium and Holland. With a view to carrying out her plans, she made in 1872 definite appropriations for the covering of both countries with a system of what was known at Berlin as "Germanising influences." It was based on a principle of giving to deserving minor tradesmen in the Rhineland districts sums of money sufficient to set them up in business in the so-called Belgian "penetration area." Preference was given to couples with young children who had been born on German soil. The people of the Rhineland and Westphalia are for the most part Catholics; large numbers of them speak both French and Flemish, or at least "Plat-Deutsch," while from a mental point of view, there is very little difference between them and the populations of Liège and Limburg. Once settled on Belgian soil, it was easy for them to adapt themselves to the people and bring up their children as Belgians. It was part of the agreement, however, that the children, after attaining a certain age, should return to the Fatherland, there to undergo a process of re-Germanisation, at the close of which, having resided with close relatives and passed through German schools, they returned to Belgium ostensibly pro-Germans. In the meantime their parents were being helped to enrich themselves by acting as commission-agents[223] for large industrial houses on the German side. It was supposed that this scheme—an invention of Bismarck—would prove the key to the conquest of the Netherlands, for the plans were also put into operation in Holland. As a matter of fact, the results of the scheme were far from coming up to expectations, and if any proof were wanting to demonstrate the elemental incapacity of the German for assimilating another race, here it was. The Belgian and the Dutchman both proved their capacity (and at the same time their racial superiority) for assimilating the Germans to the point at which the latter became anti-German—even as is the case with the German-Americans of to-day, who are Americans first and Germans last of all. By the mid-nineties it was hoped that a large nucleus of Germanophile Belgians and Dutch would be preparing for the easy (and perhaps peaceful) conquest of the Low Countries. Bismarck had realised, however, by 1890 that "the German is not by nature or disposition a good coloniser," whatever virtues he may possess as a colonist, and for that reason was opposed to his new Kaiser's ambition to push the frontiers of the Fatherland farther than they had already gone. At all events, the organised system of the Germanising influences proved, to a large extent, a failure in the Low Countries. It is precisely because it had not proved so to the whole extent that Belgium fell so easy a victim to the German aggressive advance, once Liège had fallen, in 1914. For as a result of the system of 1872 and onward, [224]it was hard for Belgians themselves to know who was in 1914 an agent for Germany and who was not. In this connection, and as the analogy holds in some degree, it may be stated that the main objection to the Oxford Scholarships founded by the late Mr Rhodes was based on an argument advanced by observant German professors who had seen Britain's system at work—namely, that the German citizen was too easily assimilable by stronger and superior types to allow of his passing three or four years at the intellectual hub of the British Empire without detriment to his German patriotism.

While discussing Belgium we are reminded of the fact that at the University of Louvain many theological students from Germany were in residence before the war and were, therefore, enabled to keep their correspondents in Germany in touch with matters of importance as to the feeling of Belgian professors and the Belgian hierarchy generally towards Germany and German aspirations in Belgium. It is not so commonly known, however, that every German army includes in its ranks a number of renegade priests, or priests in minor orders, who are sufficiently well acquainted with religious matters to be able to impose upon villagers, or local parish priests and nuns. The non-Catholic forces which arrived at Louvain in September 1914, when they came into conflict with the Catholic Bavarian troops, were entirely to blame for the mutilation of the historic city, since reprisals on the part of[225] the inhabitants—if any serious reprisals ever took place—were said by American and Australian correspondents to have probably been due to the fact that many of these ex-priests had been given clerical attire from the military clothing department and sent to visit the local religious houses, not as soldiers, but in their clerical capacity. The result was a series of outrages both at convents and colleges, the recital of which has already been officially given to the world by Belgian authorities. Stieber placed much reliance on this peculiar class of spy in the Austrian campaign of 1866 and again in that of 1870. The German authorities continue to employ them and they are ever willing to serve, since as a rule they belong to a class whose poverty and rakishness are known throughout Germany. They are not, it may be said, confined to any particular religion, and in the present war their functions have been exercised mainly in ministering to the wounded, from whom they are successful enough in extracting information as to the movements of opposing forces. Readers do not require to be told at this juncture of the unscrupulous use which German armies have made of the Red Cross ambulances in the war of 1914. Not only have they clothed the most notorious creatures of German towns in nuns' attire, but in many cases youthful soldiers have been dressed as Red Cross Sisters and have thus been enabled to pass through the enemy's lines, ostensibly on errands of mercy, but in reality in order to spy out the situation. That German[226] commanders have little regard for the lives of their men is better known, perhaps, than a common ruse to which they resort when looking for artillery range. At nightfall two recruits are invariably asked to volunteer for duty with the wire-coil. They advance towards the enemy's lines which they are instructed to inspect, paying out the coil of wire as they advance. Naturally they are shot as they approach the other camp; their officer's object has, however, been accomplished, and when his end of the coil ceases to "pay out" he is in possession of the range.

The present war, experts assure us, has not developed anything new in the way of cipher messages, and it is now generally admitted that man has yet to devise a cipher which, given time to solve its principle, will continue long to remain a puzzle to inquiring minds. Napoleon adopted a cipher with which he communicated on many occasions with his chief-of-staff, Berthier, whose only recorded witticism is that the Emperor's handwriting was the hardest cipher he knew. By Napoleon's directions, a certain pamphlet was to be employed according to the day of the week or the date. The names of these were of course known beforehand. The instructions ran: "The first figure will give the number of the page; the second figure will give the line; the third number will serve as index to the required word, or letter, and give its position in the line indicated by the second figure; if the figure denotes a whole word, it will explain itself; if it[227] only means a letter the fact will be shown." The whole system was found, however, to be too slow for the most impatient of commanders, and as a result was rarely called for by the Emperor. The Great War has disclosed the fact that old Indian tricks of conveying information over long distances have been resorted to, particularly the Red Man's signals by smoke which ascends at various points along a given line and the different readings of which are settled by agreement in advance among those sending and receiving the signals. It is now known that information as to "range," which, at the opening of the war, German artillerists were able to discover with a rapidity and a precision which were not less than miraculous, was being transmitted to the enemy by fixed spies in towns behind the French and British positions by means of smoking fires built upon upland territory according to indications previously agreed upon and based mainly on the number and arrangement of the different volumes of smoke. The ruse was quickly penetrated however, and thereafter German gunners proved less expert in judging distances. We also heard much at the beginning of the war, both on the Continent and in England, of the "window-light" and the "window-blind" system of communicating intelligence to the enemy on land as well as on the coastline. All these tricks have been discovered, and as a result of the most stringent exercise of precautions, as well as the insistence upon martial-law regulations at nightfall in the fighting[228] areas, military spies have been forced to rely more largely on personal adventure and its risks, than was the case in the earlier phases of the conflict. Spies sent in advance of an army, disguised as peasants of the countryside, can keep their friends informed of the movements of the enemy by various signals also drawn from the Red Man's code, such as the breaking of trees or branches, cutting up squares of turf and disposing them in a certain order near trees, by chalk-marks not very dissimilar to the "marks" used by English and American tramps or by the placing of stones at certain distances—all signs which can be read according to previous arrangement. In regard to these ruses it may confidently be said that modern man is far behind primitive or uncivilised man in the effective employment of them, and, in any case, there were few of those now recently in use which were not commonly practised by Napoleon and his commanders.



The man who now occupies the chair at the headquarters of the Berlin Secret Police is called Steinhauer. For the past two decades he has been one of the most important officials connected with the bureau and was responsible for the commissions given to Turr, Windell, Graves, Lody, Ernst and a host of experts, the majority of whom have engaged in espionage both in France and England and unfortunately remained uncaptured. Steinhauer's contribution to the German system of spying has been connected mainly with the adoption to its ends of modern scientific inventions. At the outbreak of the War of 1914, for instance, it is certain that in Paris alone, his agents were manipulating a round dozen of wireless apparatus concealed, in several cases, on the roofs of hotels which were, of course, under German management, and in other cases in private houses, as well as on private yachts on the coasts of France. Much of Steinhauer's money has also passed into the hands of British manufacturers of automobiles and makers of British military uniforms who were, all unconsciously, selling their goods to the Berlin sleuth's emissaries in Britain and France,[230] to be used for the purposes of espionage in time of war. A writer in the Petit Parisien has stated that the Berlin military authorities possess uniforms of all grades capable of clothing an army corps composed of all the different types of soldiers in Europe, while their batteries of foreign-made automobiles can only be numbered in terms of hundreds. Steinhauer is a firm believer in the arts of "demoralising" by scares the non-combatant population of an enemy country. Those notorious but substantial rumours, which occasionally ran through England, of Zeppelin raids upon Newcastle and Colchester, and which were subsequently proved to be groundless, all emanated from servants of the chief of the Berlin Secret Police operating in Britain. The French writer, Elme Caro, has drawn the attention of his countrymen to this form of espionage in the following words:—

"There is above all one especial ruse in which our enemy excels, and that is in spreading false reports and rumours. We are forced to believe that this characteristic must have its roots deep down in the traditions of Germans and the institutions of their race, since it called forth the especial indignation of Immanuel Kant. Their methods of applying treachery and bad faith to the arts of war are peculiarly a Prussian talent and one which in the war of 1870 cost us more than one bloody defeat. What is the process? We are given just that particular brand of news which is likely to please us and[231] lull us into a fancied security, such news being, if necessary, invented for the purpose. These experts in the arts of deceit and trickery are past-masters in demoralising the enemy by conveying to him news which suggests the idea that peace is close at hand. During such lulls, one's courage begins to weaken, the soul of a great city begins to find itself growing unaccustomed to the idea of war, our firm resolutions are soon forgotten and we go back to the old routine of life with relieved minds and hearts. Our will-power is broken and the enemy then seizes his opportunity to attack us with many chances in his favour. To prevent us from getting good news, to convey to us the worst, to invent it if necessary—this is the policy of the leaders of German armies and diplomacy. Bismarck possessed all this talent and carried it out with the prescience of a master in the art of judging and estimating the weaknesses of common human kind."

Steinhauer was also responsible for the rumours of 1909 and 1910 in regard to the alleged nocturnal visits of aircraft to the east coast of England, and his henchmen in the Press go so far as to declare that in 1911 a Zeppelin visited the London area on more than one occasion for the purpose of "taking time-distances," so that in the day of war any given airship would know by the time schedule where to drop its bombs, in such a way as to destroy buildings which had been previously marked out for attack. By this method, it is said, a Zeppelin can act independently of fog, and[232] indeed, would be enabled to carry out its work more effectively because of fog, provided it was favoured by fair winds—a view supported by Mr Graves, who also maintains that Zeppelins have already in peace-time "stood over" London. "A mysterious sky-monster," says Graves, "which carried a complement of five-and-twenty men and twelve tons of explosives, sailed across the North Sea, circled over London and returned to Germany. This new dreadnought of Germany's flying navy was aloft ninety-six hours and maintained a speed of thirty-eight miles an hour in the face of a storm-pressure of almost eighty-three metres." The German Press, in November 1914, declared that its airship fleet was three times as large as that which already existed in 1910, and through its confidential writers in the Dutch papers, it asserted that the German General Staff had produced Zeppelins which were "75 per cent. more air-worthy and safe" than the passenger-Zeppelins which travelled over Germany in 1909—all of which claims are purely "scare-work" of the Steinhauer bureau, for obviously enough, Berlin's military authorities would long ago have acted against Paris and London had they been able to do so, time being such a tremendous factor in their campaign. We pass over the cases of Schultz and Ernst as being still fresh in public memory to take up that of Lieutenant Turr, one of the most important spies who has operated in Europe since Steinhauer has been connected with the Berlin Secret Police.[233] In regard to the man Ernst, the Islington hairdresser, who received at first £1, and subsequently £1, 10s. a month from Berlin, it is certain that the Berlin authorities showed themselves, in modern times, as inept in their naval and military espionage, as they proved to be in their diplomacy, for all the information they obtained through the instrumentality of their North London barber collaborant. Indeed, at this writing, it is rumoured that Dr Steinhauer has been disrated in his Berlin office and is about to take the road into retirement with many more of the Kaiser's incompetent servants.

Hermann Turr was a subaltern in a regiment of the Prussian Hussars who, owing to perversity of character and disposition, was removed by the Kaiser's orders from the Army List about ten years ago. At the suggestion of the then head of the Prussian Secret Service, who urged the man's bad character as a point in favour of his being employed as a spy, Turr was given employment by the secret police in Berlin, his first duty being the watching of other spies in the same department—an employment, it may be said, which is only given to a man whose social and financial condition is in the desperate stage. It was in respect of what we will call the "Sans Souci" correspondence—it was really nameless—that Turr came into prominence, not only in Germany, but in every country in the world. The "Sans Souci" correspondence was published, without name or title, in Germany and contained[234] accusations of the most serious kind laid to the account of the Hohenzollern family as well as to that of the highest official and court personages of Berlin. The present Emperor, suspecting a member of his entourage whom he had been forced to exile, called in the services of Turr, promising him a large sum for proofs as to the identity of the author of the letters. These appeared in 1905 in pamphlet form and were immediately suppressed, severe penalties being threatened, as in the equally notorious "Hotzé" letters of a previous generation, to all who should be proved to have sold them. Turr proved his zeal within a month of receiving his commission by giving alleged proofs that the letters had been written at the instigation of a well-known French politician whose Germanophobia is only exceeded by his remarkable talents in diplomacy. It is certain that about this time, 1906, Germany was on the verge of declaring war against France, and it was only when full proofs were forthcoming that Turr's "evidence" was based mainly on forgeries, that Franco-German diplomacy weathered the storm which threatened its relations. Turr, it is understood, was imprisoned, but secured his release on a personal appeal to the Emperor, promising to reveal the real authorship of the forgeries in question. In accordance with his story, the forged evidence had really been handed to him in Paris by persons acting in the interests of the Berlin war-party which was already anxious for a trial of strength with France and[235] which chose this means as likely to precipitate events, Turr being really the dupe of their agents who were acting in conjunction with the Berlin Secret Police in order to force the Emperor's hand. Another man who also served the bureau over which Steinhauer now presides was Windell, who once tended the French General de Boisdeffre as valet in Paris and was taken by that officer all through France on his tours of inspection of the military districts and fortresses, Windell, an educated man and a trained engineer, supplying Berlin with plans and memoranda of all and everything which might serve the interests of the General Staff.

In a large measure also to Steinhauer must be attributed the rigorous methods which govern the production of the modern first-class German spy. A full possession of those personal gifts which characterise the man of the world is insisted upon by the authorities at "Number Seventy, Berlin," as the headquarters in Kœnigergratzerstrasse in that capital are invariably known to employees. A candidate for service is not only expected to "look the part," as they say, he is also expected to be able to act it. He is therefore required to be a man who has had the advantage of good home training of a really superior class, one who possesses social breeding besides decent scholarship, a combination which is less common in Germany than in either France or England. Apart, however, from the mere matter of scholarship and address, the rule holds here as in every[236] other business of life, that it is after all character which really counts. A man is looked for, indeed, very much similar, as to his mental capacities, to the really high-class newspaper correspondent of our own day—one who is at home in all capitals, who can talk intelligently and intelligibly on current topics and has a good repertoire of languages at his tongue's disposal, who is unquestionably master of his own language and who can associate with men placed above his own condition without displaying the servility of the flunkey, or the assurance of the man whose loudness is invariably the measure of his own uncertainty of his social worth and standing. As far as Prussia produces men of presentability, the Berlin bureau has always succeeded in enlisting excellent agents for its purposes, and, in any case, we have seen that it generally looks for them among decadent members of the territorial families, or among officers who have made false steps in the course of their careers, but who are still sufficiently attached to life to be content to serve under the double flag of the corps d'espionnage, despised by all who pretend to imposing standards of honour, yet certain of a good living if they perform their duties. The number and scope of the studies to which they have to devote themselves, once they are entered on the books of the bureau, will surprise men who recall the years they spent in lecture-rooms studying for army or higher civil-service examinations. Indeed, it is only a well-educated man[237] possessed of really an advanced kind of knowledge who is competent to engage in the curriculum which goes to form the German spy of our own time. The average Sandhurst or Woolwich cadet on "passing out" would only just about hold his own with the men who "coach" in Espionage for the examination set by Dr Steinhauer and his board of professors.

Once accepted as a member of the Secret Service of the higher grade, the agent is entered on the pay-sheet at a fixed salary commencing at £200 a year, with an added ten shillings a day for personal expenses whether on active service or not. For each "job"—neatly executed, to be sure—he is promised a bonus with an increase of personal out-of-pocket allowance up to £2 daily. He is notified, however, that 33 per cent. of all moneys coming to him will be kept back and banked for him at 5 per cent., the object of this measure being to assure the Service a hold upon its agents in case they should be inclined to leave without giving due notice. The salaries are paid monthly in advance. Personal instructions are given verbally to each accepted agent, on his initiation: he must report daily when not on active service at Number Seventy; should he be on active service, he must telegraph a certain number to indicate that he is alive and accessible; he must observe absolute silence in respect of his missions, nor converse even with high officials under whom he is not acting; he shall carry no memoranda and no documents,[238] but must trust to memory; he is to avoid fellow-agents, is forbidden to drink, or associate with women; he must never sign his name, but always his number; he is provided with a separate cipher which he must always use for cabling and telegraphing. It is only at this point, however, that the real "grind" begins for your German Secret Service agent, who, whatever may be his moral shortcomings, is certainly worthy of all respect when considered in regard to his mentality.

His studies of a technical character may be said to be confined to Topography, Trigonometry, Naval Construction, Military Fortification and Drawing. His tutors are invariably taken from the ablest experts in their subjects. Supposing a Secret Service be sent to Antwerp to study the forts and report upon them, he must be in a position to give correct estimates of heights, angles, distances, ground-lay; he must, therefore, be a surveyor the accuracy of whose intuitions must to a large extent cover the work of the theodolite or the transit-compass. In the case of the spy, for instance, who reported to Berlin upon the Forth Bridge, the work had to be performed without arousing the attention or the suspicions of officials; the man in question effected his measurements by pacing, by observing angles and by subsequent triangulation, the result being highly creditable to his training, for he judged the required measurements to within yards and feet in distances and heights, respectively. It may be objected that this was wasted[239] time, since these facts are available to anyone. The General Staff at Berlin was taking no chances, however. Its object in sending its man to examine the Forth Bridge was solely to find out how many men could be so disposed, in the vicinity of the structure, as to blow it up at a given signal, what was the geological nature of the foundation-shafts, how much dynamite would be required to destroy the bridge. And Berlin wanted to know.

So too with regard to all matters military and naval, as we shall presently show. There is, indeed, no time for leisure and no laggards are allowed to remain very long upon the roster of the General Staff's Secret Service College. Anything more complete or thorough, it would be hard to imagine, and but for the sinister aims and objects of the whole curriculum, it would be difficult to picture anything more admirable or workmanlike in its organic perfection. The work entitled Secrets of the German War Office written by Mr Graves has, as most people are by this time aware, been disavowed by the Berlin authorities as being the work of what Americans call "a good guesser." This, it must be seen, was the only course open to the German Staff, and their disclaimers in no way discount the value of their ex-agent's story when he touches upon purely departmental and organic details connected with the Steinhauer bureau. He tells us himself that he served for twelve years in the German Secret Service which has three distinct[240] branches—that of the Army, that of the Navy and the Personal Corps. The General Staff of Berlin controls the Secret Service departments dealing with both military and naval affairs, while the Personal department is directed from the Foreign Office and is really under the direct eye and touch of the German Emperor himself. The military and naval sections deal with the procuring of hidden and secret information in regard to armaments, plans, new inventions and codes. The Personal Corps concerns itself with diplomatic affairs, details as to cabinet discussions, royal and princely scandals and includes among its agents men and women who are conducting inquiries on behalf of the Emperor himself. Among its members are to be found princes, dukes, counts and barons, lawyers, clergymen, doctors, actors and actresses, mondaines and demi-mondaines, journalists, authors, money-lenders, jockeys, trainers, waiters and porters. Mr Graves dismisses the waiters and the porters as being nonentities who are never given commissions except those of the most non-committal kind, and in any case are never entrusted with the reasons underlying the little jobs which they perform at a few shillings each time. After a successful series of missions, men in the higher departments receive salaries from the bureau varying between £600 and £2000 yearly, which sums are invariably supplemented by generous bonuses—£1500 is not uncommon—as a reward for good work in particularly perilous enterprises. The remuneration [241]is, however, mean when compared with the dangers undergone, and since no official countenance is ever given (nor, indeed, expected) on the part of an agent's employers, once a spy falls into the hands of the enemy, the game is far from being worth the worry and strain it entails. Moreover, a time comes in the case of the very successful agent when he has learned so much about the "policies" of his highly placed patrons that his existence becomes a source of anxiety to them, and his removal is often effected by means which recall the time of the Borgias or the days of the oubliette.



We have emphasised the German Spy System to the extent of devoting five chapters to an exposition of its methods and the principles underlying its origin, development and application. Our object has been mainly to show not only to what extent a nation may become demoralised by allowing a system of espionage to assume the proportions of a constitutional principle, but more especially to indicate how ineffective its operations must ultimately prove when opposed, not necessarily by counter-espionage, but by the ordinary legal safeguards which foreign governments can at all times put into force to neutralise such operations. At the outbreak of the War, for instance, the British authorities were able, by the simple process of internment and registration, to destroy in these islands the bulk of effective German influences on which Berlin had long relied for the consummation of its insane dream of "making Britain a German province." Again, the comparative ease with which eleventh-hour systems of counter-espionage have proved themselves capable of defeating the elaborate and far-flung organisations of fifty years of German master-spies must have the result of teaching[243] Germany that a military establishment which puts its first trust in its external spy systems as providing the royal road to warlike successes, really admits its own lack of military genius. Indeed, it is impossible to read the story of Stieber's exploits and not realise that Stieber, rather than von Moltke, won those strategic successes of 1866 and 1870 which laid the foundations of the modern German Empire. And just as Bismarck has had no successor in the business of German diplomacy, so is it certain that Stieber's mantle has fallen upon no modern exponent of German espionage capable of adding to the original system. We have heard much of the triumphs of the Berlin Secret Service; the results of the War must disclose its total failure, though we may even now confidently predict that the blunders of its present directors have not been less glaring than those of Berlin diplomats. Like everything systematised in Germany, its organisation of espionage was systematised to the point at which independent and original action became impossible, so that when faced with conditions which Stieber had not known and provided for, it at once revealed its impotence and ineptitude, as well as the incapacity of its organisers for attaining practical results.

We propose in this present chapter, which concludes our account of Germany's system, to show how complete is the training of agents for the work of military and naval espionage. The German military spy, it must be premised, is[244] rarely an officer on the active or retired list, but almost always a civilian who has, of course, had military training. Turr and Windell had both been military officers who had practically been cashiered, while Lody had been a minor officer in the German merchant service. The German military agent must know all units of foreign armies at sight and must also be able to memorise the code words by which such units are indicated in the Berlin bureau. In respect of code words, indeed, his memory must, in all military matters, be of a Napoleonic capacity, and when corresponding with his head office as to the work of any particular pattern of gun on which he is instructed to report, it will go badly with him if he fails to quote his code accurately. Since, by the regulations, he is not permitted to carry documents, his task is obviously not an easy one. And so, again, with classes of explosives and types of shell. Furthermore, he must be so intimate with the science of fortification as to be competent to produce a map of any required fortified place, its maximum content and capacity for resistance. No Woolwich cadet of two years' standing is expected to know half as much as your German military spy, while his periodical examinations are conducted on a scale which would be sufficient to make studious officers of the Staff College doubtful as to their ability to "floor" the papers. Any error transmitted in the way of information as to guns, man-capacity of fortresses, new ideas in strategy and tactics, ballistics, plans and[245] military maps, are dealt with in Berlin on the American plan—that is to say, the offender is never given a chance to offend twice. Nor is the art of generalisation, so common in journalism, ever permitted to pass muster at Number Seventy. Particularisation is insisted upon, for Berlin wants facts first, last, always and everywhere. To ensure complete accuracy, the General Staff will employ, if necessary, a dozen spies on the same mission; they operate unknown to each other, their reports are compared and discrepancies mean the sending out of supplementary agents on the same mission, until by a process of exhaustion, and perhaps after several years of observation, the mathematical truth is finally arrived at. In the meantime, perhaps, the structure of any given fortress has been radically or partly altered; still the process goes on, for Berlin's General Staff never sleeps, is eternally vigilant and alert and possesses the only financial stocking in the Empire which knows no end. All this is in accordance with a rule laid down by the Bismarck-Stieber combination—namely, that the German Intelligence Staff shall know as much about any country in Europe as that country's own Intelligence Department could possibly know. In Austria in 1866 and in France in 1870, events proved that it knew far more. In whatever other way a high-class German secret-service man may fail to please the critics, there can be no question as to the degree of sheer intellectual ability required to enable him to reach his position—and retain it.


In regard to Naval espionage, the course of study and the mental discipline exacted are, if anything, more severe. Fundamentally, of course, the system differs but little from that just dealt with, just as the winning of a battle involves the employment of strategy and tactics which are not fundamentally different from those employed in the taking of a fortress, as Napoleon said. The majority of accepted secret-service agents on entering upon their studies in Berlin, Kiel or Wilhelmshafen, rarely know enough about naval matters to be able to distinguish a torpedo from a torpedo-boat destroyer. After a course with the instructors the agent not only distinguishes easily between the large variety of types of torpedoes, submarines, mines, he can also tell by the peculiar whistle it makes whether a torpedo when being discharged is a Whitehead or a Brennan, as the case may be. Then his work in naval dockyards and on coastal defences has practically no limit. Naval construction he must be as fully versed in as the best informed of naval commanders. All sorts of naval war-craft are set before him for the purposes of study, and the candidate for advancement is required, before he passes out with a certificate, to be able to tell at a glance, and from their silhouettes, all known war-craft in existence, big and little. After months of study, a quick learner will be able to say at once the type of any given war-vessel shown him and what its nationality. Add to this a perfectly accurate acquaintance with flag-signals [247]and codes, the different ranking officers of all the navies of the world, the personnel of warships of the heavier classes, the various uniforms, the ability to talk about any or all parts of a gun, a torpedo, a tube, a mine, whether assembled or unassembled, and it will be freely admitted that the German naval spy must be a ready man in the fullest sense of Bacon's term. And yet on another page we have said that German espionage is a doomed failure. We still maintain it, and for the reason that the foregoing studies only result, after all is said, in naval theory. As a maker of theories, your German of all kinds and conditions, is the first man in the world; it is when he comes to their practical application that he fails so badly and disappoints his admirers so painfully. The end of German naval espionage is of course the invasion and conquest of Britain, and until German armies defeat us and our Allies on land and her Navy has beaten us at sea, we may feel justified in holding that both her military and naval systems of espionage are respectively not worth the rentals paid for their dingy offices in Berlin. There is a hoary old tale told about an Englishman, a Frenchman, a German and a certain wonderful crocodile which once made its appearance in Orinico waters and made the nations talk about him. The Englishman decided to start at once for Brazil and hunt the creature out; the Frenchman decided on general principles to carve him out in stone, just as he imagined the new animal[248] to be; but the German went to a zoological museum, thought out the new crocodile from a set of palæozoic bones, and wrote a theory about him. Your German theorist is still far from having passed away and hardly yet realises that there is a large difference between learning the secrets of our naval forces and defeating them at sea. We recognise that German espionage is a danger—a fact which need not, however, blind us to the certainty that Germany has no more Bismarcks or Stiebers to build up new organisations with which to face the conditions of a new world. Germany has certainly no minister in office to-day who could prophesy so far ahead the course of events as Bismarck prophesied them to an Austrian lady, the Countess Hohenthal, in 1866. We recall the anecdote:

"Tell me, Count," said the Austrian to the famous Chancellor at a dinner-party in Berlin. "I have two homes in Europe, one in Bohemia, the other at Knautheim, near Leipsic. My countrymen are all talking about the possibility of Prussia invading us in the near future, and you might set my mind at rest if you would advise me where to remain for the rest of the year—in Bohemia, or in Saxony?"

"Countess," replied the Chancellor, "if I were you, I should remain in Saxony. It is not on a military route." The lady's Bohemian Castle was not, as it happened, very far from—Sadowa.

As to the financial aspects of the German Spy System, it is a matter of public record that the[249] Reichstag makes a yearly appropriation of about £1,000,000 sterling for the purposes and objects of the Imperial Secret Service. It is obvious, however, that the total expenditure must be far in excess of this sum, since, to use a memorable phrase, "every dirty little lieutenant" who has taken a holiday within the past ten years and has consented to spend his time in England, has done so at the expense of the Secret Service of Berlin. In these cases the young officers are "invited" to inspect the counties through which they travel, and in order to facilitate their movements, they are each supplied with sectional maps which are more perfect in every particular than the cyclists' hand-books with which we are so familiar in these days. There is no lane, bridle-path, road, farmhouse, pot-house, or farrier's which is not clearly marked in these sectional maps. The prospective tourist—who is most frequently a minor departmental official—is handed one or more of them on the understanding that if he can improve upon their topographical value in the smallest particulars, he will benefit to the extent of a hundred marks or so. The result is that official Berlin knows England north, south, east and west, far better than any Englishman knows Berlin, and one may depend upon it that if an army corps were to land anywhere in Britain, its commanders would know the road to London, as well as local facilities and capacities for feeding 40,000 men, far better than the majority of Irishmen know the way to Tipperary or even the civic standing[250] of that much-sung city. The gathering of such minute information involves a costly process. One million sterling yearly must be inadequate to cover the expenditure of 500 registered and salaried officials, with "details" numbering at least 500 more of a more or less fixed status, and twice that number of annual tourist candidates looking for German bank-notes.

Before concluding our examination of the German Spy System, we may hear what an American war-correspondent has to say in regard to the precautions which the General Staff takes in order to preclude the operations of spies inside the German lines. The following incident was communicated to The New York Times by its special correspondent on 1st December 1914:—

"GERMAN GREAT HEADQUARTERS IN FRANCE, Dec. 1.—There is a certain monotony about the scientific murder of the firing line—a routine repetition of artillery duels, alarums, and excursions which can be and are being vividly described by 'war correspondents' from the safe vantage ground of comfortable cafés miles away. The real human interest end of this ultra-modern war is to be gleaned from rambling around the operating zone in a thoroughly irresponsible American manner, trusting in Providence and the red American eagle sealed on your emergency passport and a letter from Charles Lesimple, the genial Consul at Cologne, to keep you from being shot.


"For instance, you get some interesting first-hand knowledge as to how spies can 'get away with it' in spite of the perfect German military system of controls and passes. There is no 'spy hysteria' in Germany but none the less the German authorities know perfectly well that there are swarms of spies in their midst and are hunting them down with quiet, typically Teutonic thoroughness. But the very perfection of the German military machine is its weak spot, and on this, my second visit to the German Great Headquarters, I was able to give the astonished authorities a personal demonstration as to how any smooth-tongued stranger could turn up at even this 'holy of holies.' The nocturnal trail led in a military train from Luxemberg over Longwy to Longuyon.

"From here I started out on a foot tour, and entered the Grosses Hauptquartier (Great Headquarters) unchallenged, by the back door. Journalistically it was disappointing at first, for it was Sunday morning and apparently Prussian militarism keeps the Sabbath holy. There was no one interviewing the Kaiser, for he had gone 'way down East' and with him his war minister, Gen. von Kalkenhayn. The courteous commandant, Col. von Hahnke, was not on the job. Even the brilliant chief of the press division, Major Nikolai, was out of town when I called on the Great General Staff. But there were compensations, for at a turn of the road I saw a more impressive sight than even the [252]motoring Kaiser—a mile of German cavalry coming down the straight chausse, gray horsemen as far as the eye could see and more constantly coming over the brow of the distant hill, with batteries of field artillery sandwiched between.

"On the next day I again dropped in on the great General Staff and found it not only at home, but very much interested on discovering that I had no pass to come or go or be there at that time. The war-time mind of Prussian militarism is keen and right to the point. It saw not the chance of getting publicity in America, but the certainty that other more dangerous spies could come through the same way. By all the rules of the war game, Prussian militarism would have been thoroughly justified in treating me as a common spy in possession of vital military secrets, but it courteously contented itself in insisting on plucking out the heart of the journalistic mystery. All attempts at evasion and humour were vain—here was the ruthless reality of war. It was the mailed Prussian Eagle against the bluff American bird of the same species, and the unequal contest was soon ended when Major Nikolai, Chief of Division III. of the great General Staff, stood up very straight and dignified and said:

"'I am a German officer. What German violated his duty? I ask you as a man of honour how was it possible for you to come here?'

"The answer was quite simple: 'The German military machine was so perfect that it covered every contingency except the most obvious and [253]guarded every road except the easiest way. All you have to do is to take a passenger train to Luxemberg, and hang around the platform until the next military train pulls out for Belgium or France, hop aboard, and keep on going. In case of doubt utter the magic phrase, "I am an American," and flash the open sesame, the red seal of the United States of America—to which bearded Landsturm guards pay the tribute of regarding it as equally authoritative as the purple Prussian eagle stamped on a military pass.'

"Followed a two-hour dialogue in the private office of the chief of the Kaiser's secret field police, as a result of which future historians will find in the Kaiser's secret archives the following unique document, couched in Berlin legal terminology and signed and subscribed to by the Times correspondent:

"'Secret Field Police, Great Headquarters, Dec. 1, 1914.

"'There appears the American war correspondent and at the particular request of the authorities, explains:

"'On Saturday, Nov. 30, I arrived at Trier on a second-class ticket at about 10.30 P.M. There I bought a third-class ticket and boarded a train leaving Luxemberg at about 12.15 A.M. I did not go into the railroad station, but trusting to my paper, boarded a military train leaving at 12.45 A.M., going over Longwy to Longuyon, where I arrived at 3.30 A.M., Sunday. There [254]an official whose name I do not know took me to a troop train and made a place for me in the brake box. I left the train at X and went on foot to H (the Great Headquarters), where I reported myself to the Chief of Police.

"'I recommend that a sharper control be exercised on the station platform at Luxemberg as it is a simple matter to avoid the only control which is at the ticket gate, by simply not going out and therefore not having to come in.'"



The so-called mystery of the notorious Chevalier d'Eon has long since been proved to have been no mystery at all. The question of his sex was, during his whole life, a matter of fierce dispute and much speculation in many countries. At his death in London, in the year 1810, an English doctor, Courthorpe by name, gave full attestation to the fact that the deceased Chevalier was neither a female nor an hermaphrodite, but a complete man. D'Eon, it is hardly to be disputed, must rank among the great diplomatic spies whom the world has produced and even in his own age, when the mystery attaching to his person made him an object of extraordinary social interest, all men were willing to bear testimony to his courage, physical energy, industry, audacity and wit. In all probability no one was ever made the confidant of his reasons for adopting female dress, but in every likelihood there was nothing more romantic in his peculiarity than the mania for being conspicuous and attracting attention, unless indeed, as has been suggested, he chose to wear woman's dress for the reason that it was more comfortable than that of man and had the advantage of making him appear taller than he[256] really was. About the Chevalier it is known for a certainty that one Douglas, a Scottish diplomatic agent, when proceeding to Russia in 1755, on a mission to the Empress Elizabeth, in the interests of Louis XV., took the clever youth with him—at the suggestion of d'Eon himself—dressed him as a female and introduced him to the Court of Russia, where his knowledge of languages soon obtained for him a post as reader to the Empress, over whom for a short season he obtained an ascendancy which enabled him to turn her sympathies towards an alliance with France. Louis XV., as we remember, had never possessed any real political or diplomatic power within his own realm, and in order to offset his official impotence, thought out his famous private organisation of court and political intrigue-mongers, which eventually became known as "The King's Secret." Douglas was among the men employed in this body, the Prince de Conti, Duc de Broglie and many other nobles, both French and foreign, also assisting the King in the conduct of a conspiracy the real object of which is not very apparent, if it was not for the pure love of the mystery and intrigue surrounding the whole business.

The Chevalier d'Eon

After a painting by Angelica Kauffmann

Practical results were, however, achieved in the case of d'Eon. According to the Duc de Broglie, Douglas had proved himself an unacceptable person at the Russian Court and it was only through the employment of the services of the youthful Chevalier, then about eight and [257]twenty years old, that he was enabled to attain his mission's object. Far from resenting the trick, when d'Eon, on asking to be released from his position in order to return to France, at the same time revealing the real nature of his sex, the Empress Elizabeth was delighted at the manœuvre and made her reader a handsome present on his departure. He was described about this time as highly educated and capable of writing with distinction on literary subjects; very much devoted to the study of law and philosophy, but, one is somewhat uneasy to hear, as indifferent to female beauty as was Frederick the Great. It is in 1759 that he is to be found working for Louis as a spy upon the official French envoys. In that year the Duc de Choiseul was sent to Russia with the object of inducing the Empress Elizabeth to mediate for peace in the Seven Years' War. The Chevalier was at the same time deputed to go to Russia, where his earlier exploits had given him favourable notice, and bring about the failure of Choiseul's mission. Accordingly d'Eon became possessed of an important French secret which Louis was not disposed to have revealed to his contemporaries; he was given at the successful issue of his mission, a sum equal to £1200 yearly of our money and was sent to the army of the Upper Rhine as aide-de-camp to Marshal de Broglie, where the King hoped a bullet might remove him. The Chevalier appears, however, to have exhibited prowess as a soldier, and in 1762 we find him secretary to the[258] French Embassy in London, where he was instrumental in rifling the portfolio of an important English Foreign Office attaché by resorting to the somewhat vulgar expedient of giving the diplomat too much to drink, the inference being that the wine was drugged. His success must have been important, for in 1763 he was resident Minister in London. In this capacity he began to organise a scheme on behalf of Louis for the invasion of England, and as Horace Walpole states, the importance both of his rôle and position began to prove too great for his usually cool intelligence. As a result of a few sharp repartees to French visitors of rank whom he suspected of spying upon him, as in truth they were, the Chevalier soon found himself reduced to the rank of Secretary, the King, indeed, ordering his man to return to France, but not to present himself at Court. In what followed the intelligent observer begins to discern glimpses of that so-called "artistic temperament" with which we have become so familiar in these later days. D'Eon declared that Louis, far from wishing for his removal in an official capacity, had instructed him to resume female attire and keep up the game of espionage in England. The late Mr Andrew Lang declares his belief in the probability that Louis, realising that the little Chevalier's possession of so many important secrets made him a dangerous enemy, actually wrote the letter in question, fully aware how far the "artistic temperament" was likely to carry the disappointed minister.[259] D'Eon indeed threatened to reveal so much to English statesmen that Louis deemed it better to compound with a pension equal to several thousands yearly and permission to correspond with himself. Up till the death of the King in 1774 the Chevalier indulged his old taste for espionage in the intrigues which sought to restore the Stuarts to the English throne. The new Government, probably with the prescience of unrest to come which should require the financial aid of England, sought to buy the Chevalier off, offering him a large sum in return for the documents regarding the projected invasion of England, an alleged condition of the contract being the extraordinary clause that d'Eon should return to France and continue during the rest of his life to wear woman's clothes. It was hoped by this means to deceive the public with the story that d'Eon was a lunatic woman if he ever should give way to his well-known petulance. At all events the Chevalier returned to France where, to the disgust of the connoisseurs, the lady showed signs too evident of the use of the razor, was as muscular as an athlete, wore high heels, but spoke like a musketeer, had her hair cut to the scalp and used to do the hall-room staircase at the unladylike rate of four steps to the jump. D'Eon soon lost his popularity in Paris and even his public offer "to become a nun" failed to tickle the quidnuncs. He returned to London, where he died, a faded old dowager-looking scarecrow with a very red nose, in 1810.


And, of course, there was another very clever diplomatic spy who flourished in the same age, a member of the famous de Launay family, who was known all over Europe as the Comte d'Antraigues. He was a singular example of the man who was determined at all costs to play a part in the tortuous diplomacies of his time and, paradoxically speaking, it must be said that although his life proved a failure he achieved an historical success which has endured. We confess to a liking for a phrase which his biographer Pingaud has written in his regard: "His life is interesting like that of all men who have kept up the fight, have always been beaten, but have never admitted their defeat." A man whom Napoleon condescended to notice must have been not only interesting but important. The Emperor characterised him as a "blackguard" and "a walking impertinence"—the French word insolent meaning here perhaps our term an officious busybody, which the Count undoubtedly was. Louis XVIII. called him "the fine flower of sharpers"; for Spain he was a "charlatan"; Austria christened him "a downright rascal," and Russia characterised him as one of the vilest men in the universe. Nevertheless, Napoleon tried once to buy his services, the Bourbon emigrés paid him to keep their cause before the eyes of reactionary Europe, while Austria, Russia and the Court of Naples always listened to his advice and suggestions. We have shown in another chapter that Antraigues was mentioned as the person who had[261] procured first-hand information of the secret clauses of the Treaty of Tilsit, and it is certain that French and Russian writers for the greater part declare the Count to have been the betrayer of both France and Russia. There can be no question that he became known to Canning, the Foreign Minister of the day, as a man whose "inside information," to use the American phrase, made him a magnificent ally; but it is also certain that by the year 1807 Antraigues had become discredited both in Russian and French diplomatic circles and, in any case, was hardly in a position to exercise much personal or practical influence in so momentous a conference as that which took place upon the historic Raft. The accepted English view is that the secret clauses came to the knowledge of Canning through an oversight on the part of Alexander who had allowed the Russian Minister in London to learn more than was expedient.

There is no better exemplar among all the exponents of espionage in its higher phases than the Comte d'Antraigues in so far as he provides us with positive proof that there comes a point at which a spy, already too dangerous by reason of his private knowledge, must be placed beyond all possibility of indiscretions. The Count was murdered in 1812 by an Italian valet who was afterwards declared by enemies of d'Antraigues to have been in the employ of the foreign secret service, a somewhat easy ex-post-facto explanation on the part of individuals who had long wished[262] the Count on the safer side of Styx. The fact that his wife was murdered at the same time lends, however, some colour to the statement that the murder had been "fixed" as they say in the vernacular of the Black Hand. She had been in her time a famous opera singer who had tried to found a political salon on the basis of the private information which her husband possessed, and altogether seems to have been one of those terrible but inept females who wander through the world for the unrest of souls, not only knowing, but knowing that they know. We make no apology for insisting that the fact that d'Antraigues was of Gascon birth is a point in favour of our idea that megalomania is in a large measure the motive-power which turns men and women to the business of espionage. The native of Gascony is by every tradition, both home and foreign, said to represent Pretence made flesh.

It is very certain that the number of secrets which pass out of the cabinets of diplomacy into the possession of non-diplomatic persons must be infinitesimal, and it is also certain that the Machiavellian waiters on whose long ears depend the fate of thrones; or the inspired courtesans who wheedle men like Bismarck out of information the divulging of which is sufficient to shake the hemispheres; or the journalistic sleuth who divines a cabinet débâcle from the way the Foreign Secretary gives an expression of opinion to the War Minister about the fineness of the night as both leave Downing Street; or the mysterious[263] Ambassador to Everywhere who visits Constantinople and "draws up a treaty" which he submits to an uncle of the Sultan's head doorkeeper as a modus vivendi for the Balkans—all of them are the fictitious creations of very "yellow" writers. These beings really count for less in the processes of diplomacy than the proverbial row of pins, and only the most credulous of souls can accept such a story as that which professes to show how so important a personage as a Russian Ambassador was once taken off his guard to the extent of giving away a secret the publication of which to the world led to an estrangement between France and his own country, the medium of his lapse being a Polish Countess with a form like Juno Victrix, eyes as big as billiard-balls, the soul of one of those awful Ouida heroines who felt it in her to "dominate the world with the man I love," and the manners and attitudes of a vaudeville high-kicker. Important information which has ever "transpired" from an embassy or a ministry for foreign affairs has done so in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred by sheer accident; in the unique case has it been given by agents from within and then most certainly not to a courtesan, but to a practical man of business by an equally practical man of business, money being in each case the first consideration. The diplomatic espionage of reality is quite a different matter from that of fiction and in all probability Napoleon was its best exponent, with his cabinet noir for the supervision of suspect letters; his couriers who were[264] always on the road, ostensibly carrying dispatches, but in reality in quest of special information; his sisters who through their ladies of honour spied upon each other's movements; and his secretaries who controlled the organisation of private spies who spied upon the spies set by Talleyrand and his department.

Prussia, as everywhere else, leads the way in internal diplomatic espionage and there is not a court of kingly or princely rank in the German Confederation which can boast that its most intimate actions, scandals, expressions of opinion and intentions are safe from the scrutiny of the authorities at Potsdam. Indeed, it is safe to say that Potsdam has long had its especial agents watching and reporting in every Court of Europe, and the comparatively recent "Posen" case shows to what length the vile system of Prussian espionage is prepared to go in order that Potsdam shall be kept informed. Some years ago the Berlin authorities were anxious to know what was the real state of feeling towards Germany in Prussian Poland, and accordingly a well-known Prussian Guardsman was sent to Posen with instructions to seduce the somewhat flighty and "modern" daughter of a Polish notable who was said to stand high in the Polish liberation movement. It was not quite certain, however; but as Berlin saw the approach of the war of 1914, it was necessary to know soon how the exact situation lay. The young Guardsman effected all that was required of him, also discovered how matters stood[265] in regard to the Polish movement and then returned to Berlin. This fact was one of the many which came to light in the course of the Harden trial of 1907, when it was clearly proved that the Emperor William had his own private corps d'espionnage, even as Napoleon and Louis XV. had had theirs. This body attended to diplomatic as well as social matters, and in her Memoirs the Princess Louise of Saxony shows that no society is too exalted nor any too low for the operations of its sleuths who, as in Stieber's hey-day, have driven men from public life to satisfy the private hates of persons only too willing to purchase their services.

Social espionage is too well known the world over, to call for very much attention. It is one big trade in information of one kind or another, in return for which the giver expects to receive special consideration, or achieve some end. The anonymous letter fiend who transmits real or pretended information about another person to a third party, the lady's maid who is in the service of other women besides her mistress, the private secretary to a politician, or banker, or commercial man, who accepts "presents" from his master's rival, the tattling flunkey, the money-lender's tout, the race-course and training-stable "lumberer," the copper's "nark," the parish gossip who "tells things" to the Vicar, the little 'tweeny maid "wot's got eyes in her 'ead" and all these—there is no nation on earth, nor any little hamlet that does not know them, and it[266] would be idle to speculate as to whether they are less known in England or America than in any other country. It is sufficient to know that they exist and that they carry on a trade in special information either for money or its equivalent. In Paris they are more numerous than in London, while in Berlin, at the great houses in the official quarter, it is a certainty that nearly all the men and women employees are paid to spy upon their employers by outside influences of various kinds—official, military, social, commercial and clerical, and when the people of Berlin are not spying on those above or below their own classes, they fall back upon spying among themselves, as a writer named von der Goltz remarked more than fifty years ago.

The famous Tausch bureau of private espionage, of which we heard so much during the Harden trial in 1907, and which was founded by Baron Tausch for the purposes of spying, just as a private individual in Britain, or America, or France, might found a news agency—this bureau had its analogy once in London on a minor scale, and was conducted, very privately to be sure, by a deceased peer bearing a title of ancient degree which is now owned by a youth whose relationship to "Old Inquisition" (as he was once called by a society paper) must necessarily have been very remote. Nevertheless, and for fear of hurting anyone's susceptibilities, we propose to speak of the defunct noble as Lord Pinkerton. It was not necessary to be in Society to recognise this peer whose business was as well known to London[267] residents as his face—aquiline as to the nose and eye, somewhat furtive in his movements, generally silent, but always observant and mysterious. He flourished in the late mid-Victorian days when nearly every man and woman in important Society was able to show as many quarterings of nobility as are required for membership among the Knights of Malta, or as formerly were essential to every candidate for inclusion in White's Club. Accordingly, he was an elderly man in the eighties and early nineties when golden keys began to open the doors of the most sacrosanct circles. One does not require to be very old to remember the great social transition that took place between, say, 1887 and 1902, when the first-fruits of the Education Act of 1870, together with the results of Colonial enterprise had combined to create a new class of social climber, which altogether upset previously existing conditions and, indeed, finally ended by flooding them out. In former generations wealth had, of course, always found a way in; but it was wealth with some added virtue and by no means that which expressed itself in mere display and extravagance such as arrived in the mid-eighties with adventurers of all types and kinds in the hunt for social distinctions and honours. By the nature of things, the exclusive peer found he was fighting elemental forces, and as a consequence he was far from proving the regenerator of Society that he hoped to be. It is certain, however, that his private correspondents kept him well informed, for it was well known that[268] by 1890 he had been successful in hunting down many individuals, mostly foreigners, whose claim to social recognition had not only not even the merit of being backed by great wealth or good birth, but whose early careers had been stained by crimes of the darkest kind and who had made their appearance in London society under assumed titles and names which were either fictitious, or to the ownership of which they had no claim whatever. Some of these men had made their early debut by successful operations on that dead-leveller the Turf, had been elected to fashionable racing-clubs and had passed by an easy transition into important social cliques which were patronised by the first leaders of English society. Nor was there any doubt about it that the detective-peer had the courage of his chosen mission, for once in possession of facts sufficient to provide him with a sure case, it was his practice to call immediately upon the social masquerader offering him the choice of either retiring from Society quietly and unobtrusively, or else of running the gauntlet of a campaign of ostracism which should effectually force his disappearance both from the Turf and English Society. The victim invariably made a brave show of indignation and outraged innocence, only, however, to submit when unequivocal evidence of his past was presented to him in full.

Pinkerton was instrumental in removing from both Turf and Society a foreigner of Teutonic origin who was known in his meteoric career as[269] "the Prince." He had, it was found out after his demise, begun life as a waiter in Vienna, and possessing a famous gift of tongues as well as an unusual talent for self-education, passed successively to Berlin, Paris and London; here as a private secretary he entered the employment of a wealthy Englishman of profuse and eccentric habits. It was related of our "Prince," as middle-aged racing-men can tell to-day, that he obtained his first start in life by backing the Derby winner Sainfoin in 1890. To effect this coup he had extracted from his employer's private desk eight bank-notes each of the value of £1000. Arriving somewhat late at Epsom, he handed the whole amount over to the bookmaker so well known in those days as "Chippie" Norton, who laid the market odds—at least 5 to 1 against. Sainfoin won the race, beating both Le Nord and Surefoot and "the Prince" requested Norton, as a favour, to let him have his bank-notes back, the balance, some £32,000, to be paid in the ordinary way. On the same evening the lucky winner replaced the notes, and on the following Monday received his bookmaker's cheque, told his employer the story of his good fortune, receiving from his patron introductions which gave him at once a social footing among racing men. The man's personality was admittedly a fascinating one and he quickly made his way among some of the best-known coteries in London. It may be remembered of him that, being Austrian, not long from Vienna, he professed as an eye-witness [270]to have the true story of the tragedy of Meyerling which closed the lives of the Archduke Rudolf and Marie Vetsera. In a day when all London had the "correct version," with its attendant mysteries and political intrigues, the story of our "Prince" differed from others by reason of its simplicity. The Archduke (he used to tell), when deeply flown with wine, insulted the Baroness in presence of other guests. The lady left the room, returned with a revolver and shot her lover dead, turning the weapon on herself in a frenzy of remorse.

The adventurer's season of prosperity was not long and by the end of 1890 he had lost the bigger portion of what the late Mr Dick Dunn used to call his "Sanfoinery." He recovered, however, over the Lincoln which was won by a horse called Lord George and also followed Colonel North's famous luck with much advantage to himself. At the close of 1891 it was rumoured that "the Prince" was about to marry into a family whose standing was high in Scotland. It was about this time, however, that Pinkerton began to make inquiries and the result was in every way detrimental to the "Prince's" plans for domestication. He was soon on the run and in 1893 was found trying to beat the Pari Mutuel at Longchamps, when the exclusion of bookmakers from the enclosures put a term to his turf activities. This man was by no means the most important of Lord Pinkerton's victims, for the vigilant peer's system of espionage was influential enough[271] to close the doors of society to men whose wealth and influence in Africa was second only to that of Rhodes himself, but who failed to come up to our peer's ideas of what was morally fitting for the great London world of those days. Pinkerton's self-appointed rôle was not looked upon at all times with favour by the more liberal-minded members of what Thackeray calls the Best English People and, indeed, when one considers the origin of some of the so-called noble families of England, Ireland and Scotland, we think the social purist carried his apostolate just a little too far. Suicide was, in at least one case, the end of a victim whose social ostracism Pinkerton had brought about, and when several of his victims conspired to bring about a situation that publicly showed up the noble regenerator in a character which was at the very least embarrassing, and as a result of which much mud continued to adhere after the disposal of the case in a magistrate's court, very few people were found to sympathise with the only social spy whom our peerage has probably ever produced.

We have elsewhere touched upon ecclesiastical espionage which, we may presume, is not confined to any particular Church. Its operations in certain bodies may be said from earliest times to have assumed the importance of an institutional principle. In view of our expression of opinion that espionage is a necessary condition of any essentially autocratic polity, we are only consistent in supposing that any Church which requires [272]from its adherents a total submission of the Will to its arbitrary authority can only maintain its semblance of doctrinal and disciplinary freedom by the most guileful arts and methods; and it is not necessary to enunciate the doctrine of Private Judgment to show that intellectual or political liberty can flourish only where its principles fully prevail. It is easy, but altogether supererogatory, for the once great religious congregations to disclaim—now that they are shorn of the secular and political influence which was undoubtedly theirs in the darker ages—all possession of secret systems by which they once so effectively kept men's minds under their sway. It is only necessary to read the story of the Inquisition in Venice, in Spain, in Portugal, to learn how these Church-ruled communities fared under the iron tutelage of their congregational overlords. There is to be found, indeed, a strong analogy between the demoralised soul of modern spy-ridden Prussia and that of Spain in the days of the Inquisition, when, under the pretence of winning men to salvation, crimes were committed in the name of the Cross beside which the short but horrific annals of modern Hunnism stand spectral and anæmic in their comparative bloodlessness. Napoleon was, as usual, correct in his view that men who sought the refuge of the cloister were of a kind who neither wanted the world, nor were wanted by the world; it was unfortunate, however, that the wish and will to segregate oneself from secular activities, far from[273] killing those characteristics of intrigue which we associate with the business of worldly life, had the effect merely of emphasising them in the chosen narrower sphere and, by a natural reaction, of turning their currents to baser uses and abuses than would have been possible in the larger freedom of the world. We speak, of course, of the Dark Ages.

It is not our intention to go into the question of ecclesiastical espionage; but inasmuch as the Inquisition's operations in Europe were based mainly, in respect of its bloody triumphs, on the work of a vast network of espionage which assured to the Inquisitors their periodical supply of victims it is only fair, without taking sides, that the story should be told. Our authority for the following account of espionage as it was used by the Inquisition—the name itself suggests its spying character—is Joseph Lavallée, a French Catholic, who has dealt authoritatively with the whole subject of the Inquisition. Lavallée writes in effect:

The Inquisition was at Rome known as the Holy Office, all the members of which were nominated by the Pope. They were bound to do his bidding without question; they were removable at his pleasure and he could recall them without any formality, or even without letting them know the cause of their disgrace. We need no longer wonder, therefore, at the intrigues and crimes to which these men had recourse in order to preserve their places. The business of [274]the Roman Inquisition was to examine the books, the opinions, the doctrines, the public and private conduct of those who were brought before its tribunals; in virtue of their office they were bound to make a report of all their proceedings, and it was almost always upon their statements that the cardinals formed their judgments and decrees. The number of subordinate officers was immense and these mainly constituted the corps d'espionnage proper, forming the Hermandad, or Brotherhood, and the Cruciata, or Crusade. When any particular crime was necessary in order to "establish" a case, no matter how revolting or iniquitous or sacrilegious, the Office could always find among its spies men and women both competent and willing to execute its orders. Whatever crime they might commit, the secular power had no authority over them; they were amenable only to the Inquisition, and it is not to be wondered at if the very dross and scum of human kind eagerly sought out the work of espionage as being most congenial. In Spain and Portugal, the Holy Office was known as the Inquisition. Its bands of informers were mostly drawn from the most unmanageable pupils of the schools; they were sent into the world at maturity, ostensibly to earn a living, but in reality to carry out the work of the Inquisition in the capacity of spies, as the historian Infessura tells us. The supreme council of the Inquisition was composed of the Grand Inquisitor and five members, one of them a Dominican necessarily. [275]The number of "familiars," or spies, surpasses belief and was in the proportion of one to every family in Madrid and Valladolid of that period. As in Italy, they were placed above the ordinary civil courts and were amenable only to the Inquisition.

In order to qualify as an Inquisitor, or to hold any office in the Inquisition, it was necessary for the candidate to be descended, and to be able to prove his descent, from a line of "perfect Christians." Having given this proof, he was obliged to take an oath of secrecy and fidelity to the Inquisition, the violation of which was punishable with death. The body of informers were bound by the same oaths, and if it was necessary to procure the "removal" of any person or persons, these men were employed as agents provocateurs, death being the alternative if ever they disclosed the methods of their Christlike patrons and employers. As we have seen, both the Hermandad and the Cruciata were the Inquisition's agents throughout the Peninsula, and were employed mostly for the purposes of watching and seizing victims. The smallest hamlets swarmed with these vermin and they were mainly drawn by the Inquisitors from the worst characters in the country. They themselves were often victims of the Inquisition, whose influence had destroyed all kinds of secular industry in order that the Church should profit by it, and members of both brotherhoods served for the lowest wage the system which had robbed them of all chance [276]of procuring an honourable livelihood. In order to possess the better claim upon their patrons, they had devoted all the faculties of mind and heart to perfecting the arts of espionage, and no system has ever produced more crafty, more ruthless, more persevering servants. When once their attention was fixed upon a victim, it was but of small importance that he was innocent, for his doom was settled from that moment. If his reputation, his rank, his riches did not allow of his immediate seizure, then recourse was had to stratagem. All means, however vile or base, were allowed; they employed all arts, they assumed all characters, they made use of every dress, they adopted every possible method of circumventing and capturing their prey. Caresses, flattery, entertainments, gold, were all employed in forwarding their designs; months and years often passed before a victim was entrapped, but the Hermandad never lost a victim once it had fixed its eyes upon his belongings. The Cruciata was formed with the object of watching over members of the Catholic body and seeing that its members performed their religious duties. It is not difficult to conceive to what a degree of hypocrisy such an establishment must have brought a nation, and if "most Catholic Spain" were Catholic at all in those days, it was rather from fear of the Cruciata than from love of God. So then the Inquisition had two first-class corps d'espionnage which formed two active armies, always on the alert and always moving among [277]the masses, through which both their political and their spiritual ascendancy remained assured.

That few could escape the attentions of these spies must be evident when we consider that the Inquisition characterised as Heretics all who taught, wrote, or spoke against the Church, its teachings, its hierarchy and priesthood, or even those who wrote in favour of methods or teachings belonging to non-Catholic bodies, or who simply criticised the Church. To be a suspect was practically to be a man who was already dead. To have spoken irreverently of holy things, or to have failed to inform of those who had so spoken, to have read forbidden books, or to have lodged or entertained an heretical friend—these were sufficient to condemn a man, and according to the principles of the Inquisition, a man was obliged to inform against his father, his brother, his wife, his children, under pain of himself being brought within the notice of the Inquisitors. As it happened, the larger percentage of men and women who became its victims were such as possessed large means which the ecclesiastical powers desired to possess. Jews, Moslems, non-Catholics of all sorts were, equally with Catholics, amenable to the Inquisition for specified "crimes," all of which were punishable by death if the accused were unable to justify themselves. Public report, secret information, discovery by means of spies and voluntary accusation were the four ways employed by the Inquisition, in order to bring matters under its jurisdiction. Flight [278]was impossible in view of the ubiquitous Hermandad, and the summary seizure of an accused person and his immediate incarceration constituted the usual procedure, once the spies had reported to headquarters. These spies, or "familiars," as they were called, were invariably supported by the Inquisitors, even if evidence had to be fabricated in order to make up a plausible case. What was the quality of the Justice dispensed may be gathered from the following facts: first, the names of witnesses deposing against the accused were never given to these last; secondly, witnesses were not obliged to prove their depositions; thirdly, all and sundry who cared to volunteer testimony were accepted, so that men who were notorious for infamy, for perjury and for the most scandalous vices were welcomed to bear witness to the "truth"; fourthly, two hearsay witnesses were equivalent to one ear-witness; fifthly, the spies were always accounted the most reliable witnesses, notwithstanding that they were in the pay of the Inquisition. Finally, a son might be witness against his father, a father against his son, a wife against her husband, a husband against his wife, a domestic against his master, or a master against his servant—an inexhaustible source of treachery, revenge and the worst qualities of the human heart. The tortures to which the accused were subjected in order to make them confess to the commission of crimes of which they were guiltless were of three kinds. In the first place the victim [279]was taken to a vault which lay sometimes as many as one hundred feet below the surface of the highway. According to the nature of the charge, he was put through the torture of dislocation by being fastened as to his extremities, with cords, then raised by means of a pulley, kept some time in suspension and suddenly let fall to within a foot of the ground. If on repetition this means was found insufficient to make the "subject" confess, his Christian tormentors resorted to the water-trough, laying him on his back, binding him as to the legs, and having stopped his nostrils, poured water from a considerable height in such a way that its weight fell upon the throat. Occasionally the master of ceremonies turned off the flow, not, however, to give the victim relief, but to prevent his death by suffocation. Perhaps, even then, he refused to surrender, and in order to cure his obstinacy a couple of religious smeared his feet with lard or oil, stretched him on the ground with the soles exposed to a terrific fire, and after half-an-hour's subjection to this ordeal invited him to speak. If he refused, he was put through the torture once more and then removed to a dungeon where he invariably found some others in apparently as bad a plight as his own, who, as soon as he was brought in, began to curse the Inquisition and all connected with it. These were nearly always spies whose evidence constituted subsequently that on which the unfortunate man was eventually condemned to death. The executioners of [280]the torture-room were as a rule monks clothed in cassocks of black buckram, with the head and face concealed under a cowl of the same colour, with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. A Prior was accustomed to supervise the torture, assisted by a clerk who referred to his spy agents as occasion required, or summoned them from an adjoining hall, where most of them wiled the time away at dice, in order to fortify all accusations against the victim. Sometimes an innocent man, in the vain hope of saving his life, confessed his guilt. He was then accounted a happy repentant and, by a special favour, was permitted to be strangled before being cast into the flames. Those who persisted in their obstinacy were summarily burned to death.

In modern foreign congregational colleges the divisions of the school take the form of junior boys, middle grade and seniors, and as communication of the youths of one grade with those of any other grade are most strictly forbidden, mainly on the ground of morality, a considerable system of espionage is from the outset part of the institution's plans. In foreign schools the spies of any particular grade are officially known by the other boys, just as monitors are known in ordinary schools. The functions of the foreign school-spy go, however, very much farther than those of the monitor, and so busy is he in the performance of his duties, that espionage enters into the minds and habits of foreign youths from their earliest years. When the late Cardinal[281] Vaughan—a typical Englishman if membership of a territorial family of half-a-score of generations counts for anything—was laying plans for the founding of a Catholic school in England, he visited many of the principal colleges in France with the object of obtaining ideas for his proposed foundation. Everywhere he was depressed at the absence of individual liberty and the ever-present prevalence of espionage. Nor was he consoled very much, on once asking the distinguished head of such an establishment what provision was made for training youths in the proper use of individual freedom, to hear that the school authorities saw to it that no freedom whatever was allowed except under the eyes of the official supervisors. Neither does the system fail in its application among the members of any governing confraternity itself in which the lay-brothers are spied upon by the functionaries in minor orders, and these in their turn by clerics in higher orders, the superior exercising espionage upon the entire community while the sport begins again in inverse order, and the chief finds out that his reports dealing with the subordinate end of the line are fully supplemented by spies who report with equal completeness on his own end of the game. Contemplative Orders, as they are called, are not, it may be said, confined to the Roman Catholic Church, and we presume monastic espionage is as prevalent among the non-Catholic monks as among the Catholic.



It is customary for Americans to declare that they possess no system of espionage in their country, and as a rule this is true of American life under normal conditions. Putting aside the questions of purely detective work and criminal investigation, and in these spheres of police activity America is probably served as well as any other country in the world, we may safely say that there is too much individual or social freedom in the United States to warrant the permanent existence of anything like organised espionage. Nevertheless, politics plays a rôle in every state of the Union, the complexity and strenuousness of which are not known in any other country in the world, and wherever the political game is pursued with resoluteness and vigour, we may depend upon it that all factions possess what Americans themselves very aptly describe as "inside information" regarding what is taking place in other opposing camps; all the more so, indeed, as success in political campaigns in America means possession and employment of a kind of patronage which is invariably expressed in terms of dollars and cents. Such information can only come by way of emissaries planted in[283] the midst of political enemies, and there is attached to every political organisation a selected body of men who make it their business, for due consideration, to work in other camps on behalf of particular factions. This kind of political espionage is, it may be said, quite as common in England, or Canada, or Australia, or France, or Germany as in the United States, for as it has been said: "So long as there are governments so long will there be political spies, and so long as there are attempts being made to overturn governments by force, so long will political espionage remain a necessity." As in England, or Scotland and Ireland, so in America there is little in the way of systematised espionage, even among the vast community of German-Americans who might be supposed to revert to type, as the Darwinians put it. Over there, as in these Islands, espionage is only organised for expediency's sake and according to the exigencies of any particular scandal, social or commercial, which may require the intervention of the agent of stealth and observation.

Yet, how many Americans are themselves aware that Charles the First sent his agent Randolph to America in order to report on the condition of the Colonies which were even then discussing the question of severing themselves from the British bond? Louis the Sixteenth also sent Baron de Kalb to inquire into the revolutionary spirit which, as a result of the importation of French encyclopædism, preceded the Declaration of[284] Independence, and upon the Baron's favourable report, gave the Revolutionaries that aid which led in the end to their triumph. Of Hale we have spoken at fuller length, but have yet to tell how General Washington had his own secret agents within the British lines, from whom he received constant intelligence as to what was taking place in Howe's and Clinton's camp. Major Tallmadge, whom we have mentioned in the story of André, was the agent through whom the information was transmitted. At first it was written in sympathetic ink, then a new invention and imported by General Lafayette, which only disclosed its message when the paper on which it was written had been dipped in another fluid. Once the invisible ink was made visible by the application of the chemical reagent which developed it, the manuscript appeared as if it had been written in the ordinary way. Washington was, however, a particularly cautious man. He suspected that the British might very well possess this same sympathetic ink, and conveyed a message to Tallmadge that the latter's spy "should avoid making use of the stain (ink) upon a blank sheet of paper which is the usual way of its coming to me. This circumstance alone is sufficient to excite suspicion. A much better way is to write a letter in the Tory-style with some mixture of family matters, and between the lines in the remaining part of the sheet communicate with the stain the intended intelligence. Such a letter would pass through the hands of the enemy[285] unsuspected, and even if the agents should be unfaithful or negligent, no discovery would be made to his prejudice, as these people are not to know what is concealed writing in the letter and the intelligent part of it would be an evidence in his favour."

James Rivington, editor and printer of The New York Gazette, was another agent in the secret service of Washington. By 1781 this man, realising that the British were unlikely to succeed in quelling the rebellion, undertook, in the interests of his own person and property—for earlier he had sided with the British—to furnish the American commander-in-chief with important information. This he conveyed to the general, written on tissue-paper and bound in the cover of school books. Although Rivington was thus aiding the revolutionary Whigs, he kept up his daily abuse of them in his newspaper, retaining the confidence and good will of the Tory leaders and residents. When in the autumn of 1783, the British evacuated New York, Rivington was, of course, suffered to remain, while other Tories were driven away and their estates confiscated. Major Tallmadge mentions Rivington as "a gentleman of business, of education and of honour," a somewhat stilted way of describing the journalist who, owing to his position, was able to mix with the loyalist families on a friendly and familiar footing, the revolutionary authorities paying him at the rate of £100 a month for services rendered. Soon after the Declaration of the War of Independence[286] the new government of the United States made the then considerable appropriation of £6000 annually for the purposes of secret service. This money continues to this day to be appropriated. It is drawn by the direction of the President in such sums as he may require for specific services, without any voucher being given beyond the certificate of the Secretary of the Treasury registering the fact.

In 1812, it is recorded, President Madison communicated to Congress the commission and correspondence of John Henry, a British agent, proving that while the two countries were still at peace "a secret agent of the British Government was being employed in certain States in fomenting disaffection to the constituted authorities of the nation, and in intrigues with the disaffected for the purpose of bringing about resistance to the laws, and eventually, in concert with a British force, of destroying the Union and forming the eastern part thereof into a political connexion with Great Britain." This work of an agent provocateur naturally aroused great excitement throughout the whole of American Society. No one had really believed that there were persons in New England capable of any idea of secession, although British gold, it was well known, had been heavily subsidising the eastern Press in order to rouse up civil discord. To no avail, however; Henry passed, and the disquiet of the period gave way to a long period of rest and prosperity.

In the Mexican War large sums of money were[287] spent on secret service, and in 1849 Congress made an appropriation of £10,000 for the purposes of enabling a body of spies to be formed who were under the personal direction of the President. After this war the "hire of interpreters, spies and guides for the army" was included among the incidental expenses of the Quartermaster's department, for which an appropriation has since annually been made by Congress. When the war for the suppression of the Southern Rebellion broke out in 1861, large sums were necessarily expended by the officers of the regular army and of the volunteers, on account of secret service. We note one account sent in by General Butler for the payment of fifty dollars for a hand-organ and a monkey. This item was disallowed by the Treasury officers, until it was explained that both organ and monkey had been bought at Annapolis to enable a young officer familiar with Italian to go through the enemy's country to Washington, disguised as an organ-grinder and notify the President of the great Northern uprising as well as of the approach of the Union troops for the rescue of the capital. There was undoubtedly a large number of what Frederick of Prussia termed "double-spies" in the Civil War, and many secret-service men who carried intelligence to Washington also carried Union information back to Richmond.

At this momentous period many of those in the secret service were convicts who had broken out of jail, and neither side derived much benefit from their employment. Blackmail, false charges and[288] forgery were used by them solely with the purpose of obtaining money from their victims. Prominent merchants in New York and Boston were accused on false documentary evidence of defrauding their country. Their books and papers were accordingly seized and their owners paid exorbitant sums in order to avoid arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. One victim remonstrated with the President in the following words:—"It is hard that citizens enjoying a good name who had the misfortune to come into business relations with the Government, should be exposed to such a spirit [espionage]; that they should be dragged from their homes and hurried to a military prison; that they should be obliged to undergo a protracted trial by court-martial, damaging their good name, destroying their peace, breaking up their business and subjecting them to untold expense, when at the slightest touch, the whole case vanishes into thin air, leaving behind nothing but the incomprehensible spirit in which it had its origin." The informers continued, despite all remonstrance, to enrich themselves at the expense of wealthy business men in the North, and many spies then laid the foundations of fortunes which to-day may be counted in the tens of millions. The military spies were doing good work, at the same time, in the South, though it was afterwards admitted that the secret service of the Confederates was far more efficient than that of the Union, the reason being, it was said, that in the service of the South were scores of intelligent women of position[289] who were successful in obtaining at Washington, New York and elsewhere in the North, correct information of the plans and intentions of the Union generals. This was the case in regard to the battle of Bull Run, when a Mrs Greenhow obtained from a Northern politician information as to the advance of the Federal troops. Indeed, the operations of wealthy women-spies in the secret service of the South, during the Civil War, is one of the most curious features of that event. Nor were they all Southern women; many of them were Northerners, and at all events every one of them owed her fortune and position to the principles for which the Union stood. These women watched and waited at official doors until chance or the unguardedness of an employee allowed them to learn the particular secret intelligence they were looking for; they stole maps and plans and most of them had taken lodgings close by the War Office, to which they were wont to invite young departmental secretaries to whom they offered the pleasures of the tea-table and an enlightened discussion of Federal iniquities. Mr Perley Poore, writing in the well-known magazine, The Chautauquan, in January 1887, says: "They smuggled the information which they obtained, in the linings of honest-looking coats and hid the army secrets in the mysteries of innocent-looking bustles; they burned signal lights from garret-windows and crossed the Potomac below Alexandria at dead of night and with muffled oars. At one time the Government had caught and hived[290] over a dozen of these busy Confederate bees in a house at Washington where, in a few days, they beguiled the young officers charged with guarding them and carried on their vocations as before." One of the best known of these creatures was Belle Boyd, the daughter of a Federal official; according to report she was sharp-featured, black-eyed, quick-tongued, of wonderful energy and spirits, twenty-five and—very free. She wore a revolver in her belt, rode a mettlesome horse and easily attracted the attentions and interest of the younger officers from whom she extracted valuable information, though what the officers extracted in return, we are not told. Boyd organised her own corps of women spies who were very much of the same type and character, and if not worse than herself, were apparently no better than they ought to have been.

Many stories are told of the ease with which Confederate secret-service men obtained first-class information from the departments. A young Englishman, member of a Washington firm of stationers who executed contract work for the Government, was once inveigled into giving away an important piece of military intelligence to a secret-service sleuth who had shadowed him from the capital to New York. Both took up lodgings at the Brevoort House, became acquainted and spent several evenings together. The Englishman casually allowed it to be known that he was on terms of particular intimacy with departmental officials and his friend suggested on leaving New[291] York that they should correspond. A few weeks later, the Briton received a letter, addressed to him at Washington, asking if it were true that the blockaded port of Galveston was to be opened—could he find out the facts for a certainty from his official friends. Suspecting nothing, the stationer inquired at Washington and was duly informed as to governmental intentions by a secretary who really knew. He conveyed the news to his friend and was only reminded of the occurrence a few days afterwards when he was arrested and sent under guard to New York. Here he found that a noted blockade-runner had been arrested with the Washington letter in his pocket. The prisoner proved to be his friend of the Brevoort House who eventually received a long sentence, the Englishman escaping only through the intervention of the British Consul. The stationer received, however, no more favours from his official friends and lost a certain fortune through his lack of caution.

At the close of the war many spies who had worked for both the North and the South made their appearance at Washington, where most of them were taken into the services of the war department, at that time under the direction of Lafayette Baker in respect of its corps d'espionnage. When, in the course of time, President Johnson was impeached by the Republican party, Baker, a man of great cunning and resource, set about impressing the public with the value of his services to the country. He sought to prove that a Mrs[292] Cobb had given bribes to members of the Cabinet in order to procure the pardon of ex-Confederates. The funds employed in the impeachment of Johnson were contributed by the distillers, and the secret service of the Treasury Department conceived and organised the "whisky ring," formed of Government officials and distillery magnates. The whisky taxes were divided and about one-half was paid into the Treasury, while the "ring" divided what remained. When the distillers slackened in their production the officials urged them to greater activity, the result being that although the ring included almost every revenue official in the West, many politicians of note and well-known personages in Washington, the fraudulent gains amounted to millions of dollars and for years even minor participants in the combine were pocketing some $500 (£100) a week as their share in the transaction. General Babcock, one of General Grant's personal staff, who was considered to be a member of the ring, was subsequently tried at St Louis, but acquitted, although public opinion always regarded him as guilty and made no concealment of its view that it was only Grant's influence which had procured him his acquittal. During the presidency of the victorious Federal commander, the Secret Service flourished at Washington and was mainly connected with the wire-pulling activities of politicians who saw large profits in contracts for municipal improvements, a form of "political" enterprise which has also become common in Europe since[293] Baron Haussmann, of Paris, showed how much money there is be made in the exploitation of "civic patriotism," as it is called. Mr Perley Poore must be quoted in full in order to demonstrate the method of the Washington ring and its agents. He writes:

"Among its other operations was the execution of a plot concocted by General Babcock and District-Attorney Harrington to blacken the reputation of Mr Columbus Alexander who had made himself obnoxious to the ring. A certain detective one day informed Mr Alexander that he could obtain and deliver to him the private account-book of a contractor which would show the entire rascality going on. These books had already been delivered by the contractor to District Attorney Harrington who locked them up in his safe. The next night two professional burglars were hired to enter the office, blow open the safe and carry the books to Mr Alexander's house. That day Harrington had informed the police that he feared a burglary was about to be attempted and the superintendent, with the whole detective force, was on hand at the appointed hour. When the burglars had performed their work, they walked boldly out at the front door of the District Attorney's office, where they were kindly received by Harrington and his friend A. B. Williams. The principal burglar, having pocketed his fee, bade his confederates good-night and walked home. His assistant, in pursuance of the [294]agreement, started for Mr Alexander's house, followed by the detectives and representatives of the ring. He lost his way unfortunately and Williams was obliged to direct him. He rang the bell for fifteen or twenty minutes, but failed to arouse anybody. He was then arrested by the detectives and locked up. Subsequently he signed an affidavit, at the instigation of Harrington, setting forth that he had been hired by Mr Alexander to blow open the safe in the District Attorney's office and bring the contractor's books to his house.

"The affair was immediately investigated. Harrington and the secret-service officials involved themselves in an inextricable mass of perjury, and then the detective first employed by Harrington came forward and revealed the whole conspiracy. The feeling against the scoundrels who had thus plotted to ruin the character of an upright and honourable man was very bitter. The masks were torn from their faces and they stood revealed in their true colours. The few honest men who had been deceived by their pretences into defending their acts repudiated them utterly. This exposure of the wrong-doings of the Secret Service led to the refusal of Congress to make any appropriations for its pay, with the exception of a small force attached to the Treasury Department. The old Capitol prison was converted into dwelling-houses and nearly all the agents were scattered over the country, many of them becoming connected with private secret-service organisations. [295]As a general rule, these fellows are inferior in intellect and ability, if not in honesty, to the professional rascals whom they occasionally arrest. They often lay traps for weak men in crimes designed for them, and find vulgar employment by those seeking divorce from matrimonial bonds. Secret Service is certainly not a necessity in a Republic in times of peace, and when their virtues and their weaknesses during the War for the suppression of the Rebellion are impartially summed up, it will be difficult to decide whether those who professedly served the Union were a blessing or a curse to it."

The Customs House of the great City by the Hudson has its own corps d'espionnage, the object of which is to defeat the large number of tourists returning from summer trips to Europe, who attempt the next-to-impossible feat of "beating the Customs" by smuggling heavily excisable goods. Under the Roosevelt and McKinley regimes, when high tariffs were the ruling order, even rich men and women resorted to all manner of expedients in order to defeat the excisemen in West Street landing-stages. In the year 1905 matters had come to such a pass that a definitely organised system of espionage was adopted with a view to curtailing the operations of wealthy smugglers who could well have afforded to pay the heavy duties involved. The services of stewards and stewardesses on board the liners were not only requisitioned, both men and women being[296] given pass-keys for the purpose of privately inspecting the luggage of suspected passengers, but women, apparently of wealth and standing, were also commissioned to travel to and fro between European and American ports and use all the means at their disposal to induce sister American tourists to give up, confidentially of course, a correct estimate of their purchases in Paris and London, the same information being duly transmitted to the New York Customs as soon as vessels berthed, or touched at Sandy Hook. Not only were the maids and valets of suspected smugglers suborned, but even, in London and Paris, the counter salesmen connected with fashionable outfitters and jewellers, as well as invoice clerks, were paid a fixed rate of reward for all information given to American Consular agents in Europe which might help the transatlantic port authorities to discover the delinquents and their private contraband on arrival at New York. Then there was the trick of the weighing-machine, guaranteed to take avoirdupois to the smallest fractions—plausible women spies and officious stewards and stewardesses making it their pleasure to have each saloon passenger "scaled" in order to show how beneficially sea-travel affected the health. At the Customs offices at New York these machines stood ready, in duplicate, to weigh any fair suspect who might possibly have swathed her form in contraband silks or other prohibited commodities, and a comparison with weight-lists previously supplied by obliging stewardesses was sure[297] to decide the question as to whether or not she was to be made the object of a personal visitation by the official female searchers of the Port. In the case of one lady who was weighed off Queenstown, the indicator then recording 10 stone 6 lb., or 146 lb., duly registered by a stewardess, it was found that the duplicate machine at New York made her turn the scale at 168 lb., the result being that she was found to be carrying dutiable goods concealed on her person worth many hundreds of dollars excise tax to the authorities.

Much is told of the alleged system of newspaper spies employed by English and American "yellow" papers, which are said by the uninitiated to employ their corps of spy detectives in the same way as an established secret service employs its special agents. In America it is quite certain that since the so-called "yellows" depend to the larger extent on the providing of purely "police" news to their clients, a certain amount of espionage becomes part of the work of the daily reporter. During the course of the notorious Thaw trial, in the last decade, witnesses of all sorts—including the young wife of Thaw—were subjected to the attentions of reporters who, by following their social movements, were able to add suggestive tit-bits to the "stories" appearing daily and nightly in the papers, and much to the surprise and annoyance of their victims. As far as we know, however, nothing of the kind has yet entered into the processes of British journalism.



The authorities for the following story are these:—Correspondence of Napoleon, vol. v.; Memoirs of Bourrienne, vol. ii.; Memoirs of Prince Eugene, vol. i.; Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantés, vol. iii. Except to very minute students of the Napoleonic legend, it is not very well known, nor could the episode be said to rise very much above the commonplace, were it not for the extraordinary personality of the central figure around whom the incidents play. It is simply with a view to showing the operations of what has been called "the long arm of British diplomacy" that we tell the tale of an attempt to put a term to Bonaparte's ambitions as early as 1798, when the Corsican had only reached his thirtieth year. It is customary to say that historic figures, no matter how great or spectacular their enterprises, are never—or rarely ever—so magnificent, in the classical sense, to the eyes of their contemporaries as they prove afterwards to succeeding generations. It took the battle of Austerlitz, for example, to force Benjamin Constant and Madame de Staël, to say nothing of the Bourbon Princes, as well as a host of public men of note, into a full and final realisation that in the person of Napoleon an elemental[299] force had appeared in Europe whose activities in the world were not to stop till, to use the great soldier's own memorable phrase, Nature had ceased to require him as an instrument of its designs. And we all know the story of how the younger Pitt received the intelligence of that conflict of a December midday: "Roll up the map of Europe," he is alleged to have said, "it will not be required these ten years"—which was prophecy with almost mathematical accuracy, if we may use such a term. The truth is, however, that seven years previously, British diplomacy had already gauged the significance of the new world-portent, and by 1800 plans were already laid to fight the coming menace to the principle of the balance of power. The fact itself holds a lesson for all who fatuously imagine that the history of the world is enacted in a series of accidents and that the business of diplomatic agents consists in meeting and dealing with these accidents as they automatically appear. The work of all great foreign ministers whom the world has known has, on the contrary, consisted in providing for contingencies long foreseen and patiently awaited. What Prussia's unique foreign expert worthy of that name in the story of its whole diplomacy—Bismarck—achieved in this way as preparatory to the campaigns of 1864, 1866 and 1870, British Diplomacy is always and eternally achieving. To the process of its perennial vigils and deliberate acts we may apply the famous remark: "There it is, the great engine,[300] it never sleeps," and as the custodian of the set principle that no single Power shall overrule the rights of other nations, men are beginning at last to realise what in reality it represents, and that not only is Great Britain now and for ages invincible and indestructible, but that in her self-charged world-rôle of defending the Right there is that which, if need were, shows the mind of watchful Providence itself.

When, in 1798, Bonaparte set out for his Egyptian campaign, there were already in active existence two redoubtable forces with which his ambition was destined to become fatefully engaged—namely, Nelson and British diplomatic vigilance. Long before his début on the Nile, British Secret Service had put all its forces in motion in order to upset his designs against England's Eastern dominions, and not one of these designs was unknown to Downing Street. Egypt then, as now, was in respect of its commercial activities almost wholly under the domination of English political and monetary influences, the result being that from the moment of his arrival at Cairo, an extraordinary web of espionage had already been woven round the Corsican. It is suggestive enough that the means which the secret agents of London proposed to employ for the undoing of the young conqueror of Italy were based mainly on the idea that Napoleon was easily susceptible to feminine influences. His quasi-public heart-affairs with Madame Colombier, Caroline Bressieux, Madame Saint-Huberti, Desirée[301] Clary and the woman Turreau, in Paris, had misled the British Cabinet, strangely enough, with the notion that he could be destroyed through the agency of ministering angels of the venal variety. At all events, the system of espionage was conceived upon Bonaparte's supposed foible and its direction was undertaken by Sir Sidney Smith—whose interminable after-dinner tales of his exploit at St Jean d'Acre were afterwards to win him the title of "Long Acre"—assisted by John H. Barnett, a secret-service agent in British employ.

Bonaparte, it is known, had allowed but very few women to follow his army to Egypt, among these few being the wives of some of his principal generals. One of his inferior officers, a certain Fourès, just lately married, had, however, transgressed the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, to the extent of taking his bride-wife with him to Egypt dressed as a man-servant. In this disguise Madame Fourès was successful in reaching the Nile, where she assumed her regular woman's attire, took lodgings in Cairo and proceeded to lead an ordinarily domesticated life with her husband. It was not long, however, before the story of the lady's deceit came to the ears of Bonaparte through Junot, a connoisseur in feminine attractions, and the youthful General was moved by curiosity to see the rare bird that had eluded his vigilance and transgressed his rigorous orders—all the more so, perhaps, as Junot declared that this one was a veritable bird[302] of paradise in respect of her personal charms and other allèchements. Accordingly, he so arranged matters that in the course of a review of his army all the French ladies in Cairo should be present to witness the manœuvres of the troops. Among them came the youthful Madame Fourès, whom Junot pointed out discreetly to his General. Evidently the latter was satisfied with his cursory inspection, for he turned to his famous lieutenant, instructing him to issue invitations to a dinner on the subsequent day to which certain ladies were to be invited, including Madame Fourès, whose husband was, however, not among the invited guests. Naturally, the Captain felt slighted. He was well known to be a man of fire-eating disposition—as John Barnett, who knew him personally, could fully testify—and his first inclination was to issue a direct challenge to his superior officer, Junot, whose propensities, where pretty women loomed large, were known throughout the army to be what the late Mr Labouchere used to term patriarchal. Then, on second reflection, he urged his wife to refuse the invitation. Now Madame Fourès was just in the newly wedded stage of her personal emotions, and every man of experience is aware that a bride in that stage is more susceptible to the external symptoms of the love-passion than at any other time. Indeed, the lady had already divined from Bonaparte's ardent glance the state of his feelings towards her. And although she practically, to use an Americanism, already "saw her finish,"[303] the truth would seem that she did not much care where she was to end. At all events, she declined to obey the Captain, twitting him with jealousy, and accepted the invitation for herself alone. It had been prearranged that Bonaparte was not to be of the invited party, but was to make his appearance during the course of the dinner, which arrangement was duly carried out, Bonaparte being presented to all the guests on his arrival.

Was it not Wellington who declared that "Bonaparte was no gentleman"? In any case, after presentation to Madame Fourès, the young General took a seat opposite to hers and began to stare the lady out of countenance, exceedingly to her embarrassment. Then quickly finishing a cup of coffee and with a curt word of adieu he passed from the room. Some moments after, Junot, whose place was beside that of Madame Fourès, in turning his chair, upset the lady's coffee into her lap. Apologising profusely for his awkwardness, the soldier, assisted by General Dupuy, sought to remedy the disaster with the aid of sponges and serviettes, only to find that the stain began to travel all over the skirt and was, for that day at least, irremovable. General Dupuy affected to be on the verge of tears. "Junot," said he, "perhaps it would be better to allow Madame Fourès to arrange her dress in some adjoining room." And Junot led the Captain's wife to an adjoining room, in which was—Bonaparte.


At this juncture our mind travels back, anachronistically enough, perhaps, to the late Artemus Ward, his "morril bares and wax figgers," and we feel inclined to ask the honourable printer to "put sum stars here." We prefer, however, to fall back on the profound observation of a French historian who deals with this episode. He says: "Madame Fourès entered that adjoining room with a blot upon her dress which was bad enough. It was nothing, however, to the blot upon her character when she came out." The lady was, it appears, wholly complacent, and as the presence of her husband was now a matter of embarrassment both to herself and Bonaparte, the latter took immediate steps to assure the return of Captain Fourès to France—ostensibly as the bearer of sealed orders to the Directory.

"My dear Fourès," said Berthier to him in accordance with this decision, "you are luckier than the rest of us, for you are going to see France once more. The Commander-in-Chief has decided to entrust you with a mission of the highest importance, knowing as he does your ability and reliability. Your future lies in your own keeping. The orders are that you shall leave at once with dispatches."

Fourès saw his chance at once and took it. When, however, he declared it his intention to take his wife, too, Berthier objected. It would be impossible, urged the famous Chief of the Staff, to allow Madame Fourès to run the risk of capture by English naval officers who—Berthier[305] emphasised the point—were notorious for their taste in Frenchwomen. Besides, there was the discomfort of confinement on board a battleship, which would give the British officers every excuse for treating the lady as quite other than a prisoner of war, whatever they might do with himself. Et puis, ce cochon de Sir Seedny Smeet—ah, Fourès, mon ami, voyons donc! And so poor Captain Fourès left Egypt on board the Chasseur, commanded by Captain Laurens, while Bonaparte installed Madame Fourès near the palace of Elfi Bey, where he himself resided, and thereafter lived with her as openly as he had lived with the actress Grassini in Milan.

As mischance would have it, the Chasseur was captured by the British man-o'-war Lion, commanded by Sir Sidney Smith, under whose orders John H. Barnett was then serving as secret agent. On their meeting for the second time, the Englishman said to Fourès:

"Well, Captain, you must now be edified at the moral character of the scoundrel whom the Directory has given you for Commander-in-Chief in Egypt."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked the Frenchman, with some colour.

"Don't be angry, Captain," replied Barnett. "I understand your heat and will try to cool it. Listen: as we consider you to be the victim of a disgraceful intrigue on the part of Bonaparte, we propose to land you on the Egyptian coast. Once arrived there, you will rejoin your corps and[306] regain possession of Madame Fourès, your former wife."

"Sir," exclaimed the now indignant Frenchman, "will you be pleased to explain?"

"That," replied Barnett, "is exactly what I am endeavouring to do, and if you will have the patience to listen, you may understand."

Thereupon the secret-service man drew from his pocket several newspaper cuttings which gave full details of the scandal in which the names of Madame Fourès and Bonaparte were associated. The story showed, furthermore, the arrangement by which Fourès had been induced to carry dispatches to the Directory, Bonaparte being well aware at the time he entrusted the Captain with his mission that only a miracle could enable him to elude the vigilance of the British cruisers and pass over to France. Once he became a prisoner of war, Bonaparte would be assured of the possession and enjoyment of his new mistress.

The Captain's emotion on hearing of his commander's treachery and his wife's connivance in the trick was painful to witness, and the poor fellow broke down under the ordeal. His papers, it was proved to him, were of no importance whatever, and Barnett showed him duplicates which had been taken of them before the Captain had even left Cairo.

"When you arrive at headquarters," the relentless Barnett proceeded, "one of our agents will conduct you to the palace of Elfi Bey, where Madame Fourès has lived with Bonaparte since[307] December 18, the date of your departure with the dispatches. As for your fellow-officers, they all know of the affair and you have become the object of the army's ridicule throughout Egypt. As a man of honour you will doubtless know how to avenge yourself on both culprits. Life is cheap in Egypt in these days, Captain."

In due course Captain Fourès reached Cairo and soon realised that Barnett had told him nothing more than the truth. His wife remained a willing prisoner with Bonaparte. Accordingly he prepared for action, meaning to kill his two betrayers. It was pointed out to him that in view of the existence of martial law and his failure to carry the dispatches entrusted to him, the Commander-in-Chief would be justified in having him shot; while his friends urged, knowing the man's character, that, after all, to risk his career for a worthless woman, in a quarrel with a man like Bonaparte, was worse than madness. The Captain determined, however, to see his wife and obtain an avowal from her own lips as to the facts of the whole intrigue. According to the records, Fourès found her, still unrisen, at the mansion of Elfi Bey, learned from her own admission that she was satisfied with her present lot and, without further parley, flogged the strumpet till she writhed in agonies on her bedroom floor. Fatality of fatalities, who should enter and find her in this condition, but Bonaparte himself. He gazed for one dramatic moment at the shrieking woman and turned with a raucous[308] laugh on his heel. Fourès, in due course, procured his divorce and made, as he himself declared, "a sacrifice of his resentment against Napoleon to France and the Army." As it happened, the luck was, on this occasion, against the British Secret Service agents. Had Bonaparte fallen a victim to the jealous rage of Fourès, should we have had a Trafalgar, an Austerlitz, a Jena, a Waterloo? There are not wanting those who maintain that all these historic events were in the inevitable logic of the French Revolution and that with a Bonaparte, or without him, they must in their due turn have come to pass—a question which is far too large for present discussion. In any case, it is certain that Bonaparte's removal in 1799 would have relieved many European cabinets of much anxiety.



The bibliography connected with the business of espionage is not, as may be supposed, a very extensive one. Great spies have all written their memoirs, but in no case can these works be regarded as trustworthy records of the actual parts played by their writers in important historic events or episodes, and it is always necessary to go to independent chroniclers in order to arrive at the truth. As regards themselves, they are peculiarly fortunate in that highly placed patrons and collaborators have rarely, if ever, condescended to criticise or question their claims or statements, the result being that their most preposterous pretensions find acceptance at face value. It is well, too, that not one of them, as far as the writer has discovered, evinces anything like literary tact in his attempts to conceal the essentially underhand nature of his professional art. Your Schulmeisters and Stiebers, on the bare evidence of their own life stories, disclose their real motives and characters so clearly and intimately as to leave us with the impression that it is only very poor judges of human nature who can fail to categorise them accurately.


Our own study of the master spy has left us unimpressed regarding the qualities of either head or heart which are called for in the business of espionage, and whatever courage may appear to attach to the characters of men like Schulmeister, Stieber and even André, we remain convinced that there was in none of them anything like nobility of purpose and that a very cheap material ambition underlay all their respective rôles, dramatic though those rôles may have been. The characters of the two spies of the War of Independence seem to us to have been lamentably lacking in that fine spirituality which one looks for in men who are willing to die for any strong faith that is in them; the American appears to have been an idealist of a type which is not easily differentiable from the oriental fanatic who is said to possess no very settled convictions about his cause; while the Englishman's motives were based purely upon rapid self-advancement. As to Le Caron, we admit having approached his case with every predisposition to admire him, only to find our earlier illusions entirely shattered after a careful study of his reminiscences; and the printed word must be allowed to go a long way towards self-revelation. As for Schulmeister, he threw his lot in with the side which paid him the highest price, and patriotism or nobility of sentiment in no way coloured his otherwise important abilities and services, while Stieber—the odious Stieber was at once a cringing self-seeker, a bragging bully and, shorn of his protections,[311] an obvious and elemental coward. MacParlan was a detective pure and simple, and to him there attaches no stigma of having taken an oath to serve a cause which secretly he meant to betray. Of all the rôles enacted by the various exponents of espionage with whom we have dealt, MacParlan's appears to us to have been far and away the most heroic and, in view of the dread organisation which he was fighting single-handed, also the most patriotic and utilitarian.

In regard to the sources which we have drawn upon, those which deal with Schulmeister call for some comment. Napoleon's agent is mentioned by many of the high functionaries of the Empire who published memoirs dealing with its glittering legend. Savary, Fouché, Rapp and Marbot all give him a word, while Thiers, much later, mentions him as having contributed a share to the glories of the Corsican. With the exception of the short Life by Diffenbach, and his own very unreliable Fragments, we are aware of no exhaustive biography of the spy, while magazine and newspaper articles, such as those published in the Allgemeine Zeitung, the Courrier du Bas-Rhin and other periodicals, differ altogether as to details and chronology in descriptions of him. The author remembers to have read, when a student in Germany, many years back, an account of Schulmeister obviously written by an Alsatian and signed with the name, F. Ott, which gave particulars as to the spy's first meeting with[312] Napoleon, as well as the story of his social career in Vienna before joining the army of Mack. These particulars are not mentioned by any other writers except Savary and a scribe in The Royal United Service Magazine of December 1897. In view of so many conflicting accounts, however, we have thought it fair to draw upon this recollection in our own story of the Alsatian, although at present we cannot recall the exact source.

Le Caron has, of course, been his own biographer and the popular Press of the time of the Parnell Commission teems with accounts, correct or imaginary, of the Anglo-American major. Sir Robert Anderson, in his reminiscences, speaks of his agent in terms of consideration and respect. In a letter which Sir Robert was so good as to write to the author, in this connection, appear the following remarks:—

"My best agents, when I had charge of secret-service work, were as much entitled to respect as were my officers in the Criminal Investigation Department when I had charge of that branch of Police work, or as our military who 'spy' the German trenches from aeroplanes. Others again take up that sort of work for 'filthy lucre sake,' and yet others from all sorts of motives, some praiseworthy and some contemptible. Spies differ as much as parsons or doctors, and no general rule can be applied to them. Le Caron was in every way a worthier and more respectable [313]man than were some of the M.P.'s who abused him in Parliament. Some of my other agents were much in the same category. Others, again, who gave me information of great value, were creatures whom it was an ordeal to have to deal with."

MacParlan's career was well known to many of the old stagers of the New York and Philadelphia newspapers, and from one who knew him, the writer has taken the version he gives of the admirable detective's final disappearance from the coal regions of Pennsylvania, according it preference over the somewhat prosaic departure as told by MacParlan's excellent biographer, Mr Dewees. While volumes have been written to the glorification of Major André, it is unfortunate that very little is known regarding Nathan Hale, and it is certain that no portrait remains extant of that youthful hero. The Duchess of Portsmouth has been fully dealt with by many writers; the Chevalier d'Eon has had the advantage of being portrayed by the late Mr Andrew Lang, while Pingaud has treated the Count d'Antraigues. The French Divisional Police Chief Saint-Just has given to the world an account of the French Internal Spy System as it exists in our own day, and Doctor Fitzpatrick is the chief among many who have written of the British Secret Service, to the chapter concerning which we append a Home Office paper, issued in September 1914, which clearly shows that the[314] British authorities were by no means uninformed or unmindful of the contemplated operations of the swarms of German spies who filled London hotels and lodging-houses at the opening of the War. Official alertness, it may also be said, was shown during the course of the campaign, as (to cite but one instance) when the Special Police Constables were mobilised on the night of the air raid on Sandringham and therearound, a fact which spoke eloquently for our system of counter-espionage.

With regard to the German System of Espionage, it must be said that while we do not accept everything that the arrogant Stieber claims for his organisation and himself, we are inclined to look upon Lanoir as being too much a hater of all things Prussian either to do justice to himself or to be fair to Stieber. In any case, we have supplemented the French writer's views by others emanating from Klembowsky, A. Froment, Tissot and various publicists well known in France. The work of Mr Graves we have read, and while admitting that he wins our sympathy as regards his perennial good humour and cleverness, we confess our total inability to "negotiate" (as he himself would probably say) his version of the instructions to the Panther at Agadir, the same having really been conveyed by the very ordinary process of telegraphing from Berlin to the gunboat's commander by code to the Fabra news agency at Madrid, whence the message travelled to Tangier and Agadir. In the pages of The New [315]York American Mr Graves's diplomatic work would certainly prove to be "just the goods," if we may judge by the printed European dispatches of that paper's ineffable correspondents. All his English countesses and peers have respectively the airs and manners of Chicago "store-ladies" and Buffalo drummers—exactly as the American yellow-paper requires them for home consumption.

Following is a short list of the principal publications to which the writer referred in the course of his work:—


[1] Frederick was childless.

[2] It has even been stated that the funds which enabled the so-called Suffragettes to carry on their recent militant propaganda were, for the greater part, supplied by Berlin, through private persons acting on behalf of its secret service. The identity of the real donors of very large sums given for the furtherance of the movement was said not to have been known even to the Suffragette leaders.




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