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up a flight of marble stairs to a spacious anteroom, to be conducted through two more, with a dwindling number of people waiting in each, and finally, relieved of hat and coat, through an inner lobby into the Duce's room. A vast tapestry-hung chamber, relatively bare of furniture, save for a statue of Victory in the centre. The door by which one enters is at a corner of the room, and diagonally across, at the far corner, is Signor Mussolini's desk, a model of orderliness. Significantly, behind and above his chair is a bust of Julius Cæsar, and on the desk lies a heavy, finely wrought Egyptian chain, given him for luck by an admirer.


What of the man himself? When I had word that he would be receiving me, sundry acquaintances prepared me for an impression totally different from the reality. Certain ones conveyed the idea that the setting was arranged with a touch of dramatic art, and that I should be left to walk the length of the room, growing smaller and smaller, and then be kept in silence for an interval under the penetrating gaze of eyes that are mentioned with awe in Italy. Others, Italians, declared that Mussolini was never known to smile.

I found, instead, a most courteous advance to meet me, a complete naturalness both of pose and of manner, cordial yet not effusive, and in conversation a spontaneous and ready smile at anything that caught his humor or particular interest. In appearance he was shorter than I had expected, broad but muscular, and dressed in a conventional morning coat, well turned out, but not too dapper. The eyes, somewhat projecting, fulfill their reputation in expressiveness and penetration; a powerful jaw, yet a brow that dominates the jaw.

Unlike most men of Latin race, he does not use his hands to emphasize his words; but he uses his head, and by its sharp and often unusual angles of inclination conveys great expressiveness. His voice, soft-toned but firm, is at the same time the most musical I have ever heard. With him, almost alone of the Ministers and senior officers I met, I was able to speak in English, which he understands perfectly so long as one speaks distinctly and without haste. He is already fluent in French and German. His progress in English is the result of lessons he has been taking in the last year or two from an Englishwoman, correspondent for an American paper, Miss Gibson. By a strange coincidence the name is the same as that of the other Englishwoman who crazily shot him. I fancy it appeals to his sense of humor that, as one Miss Gibson impaired his nose, another should improve his tongue. And, although so busy a man, he has taken biweekly lessons with marked regularity, an assiduous if a somewhat difficult pupil, owing to his preference for reading Bernard Shaw rather than mastering grammatical points.

My meeting with him was not a formal interview, and I refrained from putting to him the customary inquiries as to the policy and condition of Fascism. To such trite inquiries the replies are long stereotyped; there can be nothing more boring to a much occupied head of a Government than such interviews. Here, fortunately, there was a more intimate conversational link in the fact that my life of Scipio Africanus was being translated by the Italian War Ministry and brought out under its auspices, as well as his interest in my impressions of the Italian forces in comparison with those of other countries. If most of the conversation was thus not of general interest, it yielded, and was perhaps

more conducive to, occasional comments which appeared to me side lights on his mental trend. Thus I had the impression that he keeps a closer eye on the press and polemical literature of other countries than do most statesmen immersed in their own internal politics. This attention is evidently not confined to their views on his Government, but extends to their reaction to domestic questions and matters which may influence their policy or future - and thus, of course, have an indirect reaction on Italy. His opinion of democracy, and its inherent contradiction to human nature and the scheme of nature, he took no pains to conceal. In one vivid phrase he likened it to a candle snuffer.

When, in contrasting systems of government, I referred to him as 'dictator,' I wondered for a moment whether I had stepped out a little too far. I was soon reassured, by implication, that he had no distaste for the term. It was refreshing to meet a statesman with both the instinct and the latitude for uncloaked honesty of expression. And for him the exercise of authority by one man, in turn delegating local authority to other individual men, is quite clearly the one form of government which can govern at a time when and in a country where progress, and not merely the preservation of a relatively static society, is essential. That he enjoys the possession of this power he does not conceal, but to a student of human nature he gave the impression that he enjoys it basically for the power it gives him to improve and advance his country and his ideals for that country. These ideals may change and develop; they have changed and developed; for he is a man the reverse of static in his moods or in his conceptions. And he would not blush for this, or fear the charge of inconsistency, for he believes that

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change is the law of life, and that the static is contrary to nature and to truth. But the responsiveness and power of adaptation to the law of change are greater in one man than in many. Hence he is confident that a State directed by one man has the same advantage, and is equally confident that he is the one man to direct it. If this betokens and demands an immense self-confidence, such, in nature and in scale, could spring only from self-dedication, not self-advantage. And, as with all examples in history of supreme self-dedication, one senses in the man a spiritual loneliness which evokes sympathy.


From the new Romulus I pass to the new Rome that he is striving to build. For the word 'Rome' holds the clue to the understanding of Fascism to-day. Fascism was launched on the banks of the Piave; it has cast anchor on the banks of Father Tiber. Arising as a patriotic revolt of the disillusioned soldiers of the war against the sorry pass to which Liberal politicians and Communists had brought the land, Fascism seized power and restored order. Then, however, came the problem, 'What next?' For mere restoration was a narrow aim, and reconstruction more worthy of their conscious power. To the question the answer came, 'Rebuild Rome.' And to-day Rome in her greatness, her discipline, and her State worship is the pattern and goal of Fascism - the ideal of a new Italy is swallowed up in the greater vision of a Roman State rebuilt and reborn.

No observer who has traveled through Italy recently can deny the reality of the material change and improvement that Fascism has wrought, whatever prejudice he may feel against

its methods or doubts as to its spiritual results. It is true that at present the effect is most apparent in the growing efficiency of the public services of all kinds, and is not yet so marked in the economic condition of the people and their standard of living. But, apart from the fact that in the Fascist creed the welfare of the State takes precedence of that of the individual, it is obvious that, in a long-sighted view, the reconstruction of the State foundation is an essential preliminary to an expansion of the industrial superstructure.

Let me survey briefly a few of the activities and achievements of Signor Mussolini's Government. Order and internal security are indispensable to a healthy state of industry, and the Government has certainly, if severely, ensured the removal of all causes of disturbance to the regular flow of the industrial and civic life of the community.

The Fascist Militia, styled the 'Voluntary National Militia,' represents Signor Mussolini's solution of the problem, ever difficult in history, of converting the heterogeneous elements of the force that made the revolution into a homogeneous force for the preservation both of the régime and of good order. If its position vis-à-vis the other forces of the State remains inevitably anomalous, Signor Mussolini seems on the way to give another proof of his practical genius for turning surplus enthusiasm and energy into constructive and useful channels. For he has entrusted to the Militia the charge of the physical development and moral education in the Fascist code-of the nation's youth. The first fruits of the former are marked not so much by the erection of stadia, where throngs of spectators can watch the gladiatorial fray of the football field, as by the sight of fields and hillsides dotted with

gymnastic appliances. To judge by the results seen among young men undergoing their military service, the system is producing a race of men agile as cats and of superlative physique and endurance. The second task is characteristic of its source, for Fascist policy is concentrated on the young, and their inculcation with the practical virtues of discipline, integrity, honest work, and subordination of self to the national interest. The attitude seems to be that the present generation can accept Fascism enthusiastically, accept it passively, or accept it under coercion, as they choose, but that the real hope and fulfillment of Fascism lie with the next generation, who will have grown up from birth saturated in its ideals and its code. Only the future can show whether this attitude is too optimistic or not. But its indirect interest is an illustration of how a system of government freed from the trouble of vote catching, with its waste of time and inherent halfmeasures, can take long views and plan for the future in a way impossible to an elected government.

This habit of working on a programme is now spreading downward, with obvious benefit to efficiency, from the national to the provincial and municipal activities. For the same system of government has also been adopted recently in local government

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Signor Mussolini is clearly a believer in government by experts, for most of his Ministers have been chosen for expert qualifications in their several departments; and no choice was a greater inspiration than that of Gentile, the great philosopher and educational reformer, who first carried through the reorganization of the educational system and now gives himself to the more ultimately important task of training the teachers. If some may cavil at the reintroduction of religious instruction, and others cavil at utilitarian aim, Italy to-day is almost unique in reviving the pride of honest craftsmanship and discouraging the production of half-educated babus, fit only for office stools, while giving better scope than ever to the youths of more than average aptitude.

Better known to the outside world is, of course, the restoration of Italy's finances, the recovery and final revalorization of the lira under Count Volpi's immediate charge. If the strain for a time was great, and is not yet over, it seems to have been distributed skillfully between the various classes of the population, so that general grumbling has not focused into the more dangerous condition of sectional grievances. Now, with her foreign war debts most favorably funded, a heavy Treasury deficit turned since 1925 into surpluses, strict economy in the public services, the lira stabilized, prices slowly on the down grade, and production developing, Italy has gained a sound economic base for future advance. For this her greatest impulse comes from her apparent solution of the wasteful friction between capital and labor. Putting the national interest before all sectional interests and individual rights, Fascism is now trying a vast and ambitious scheme of coördinating and combining private initiative with public regulation. The

capitalist system is recognized on condition that it serves the national interest, and to this end the employers and employed in each industry are to be welded together in corporations or guilds, under a joint council or syndic, with compulsory arbitration in case of disagreement. This corporative organization, in which all workers, professional included, are to be grouped, is ultimately to have political functions, through the formation of a Corporative Chamber, for which only producers will have the suffrage, but at present it is essentially economic. If its detailed establishment is still incomplete, a working arrangement exists, and its most vital purpose has already been long realized, for strikes have ceased for five years, being forbidden, and there is certainly no sign of 'ca' canny' methods being practised.


In many other directions Italy is seeking to check the sources of waste and to augment production. The work of industrial welfare has been taken over by the State. Strenuous and organized efforts are being made, by draining the marshes and by a campaign against the mosquito, to stamp out the malaria which debilitates large sections of the population. Equally scientific and coördinated is the effort to increase the production and quality of the wheat of the wheat new machinery, new seed, new methods, even new roads, are factors in the campaign. Similar measures are being applied to other crops, and as Italy is already so closely cultivated that it is not easy to extend the area, the aim is, by intensive efforts, to increase the yield. The exploitation of the natural resources in water power is progressive and continuous. The effort is not to replace coal, for at present there are technical difficulties

which check this ideal, but, by supplementing and economizing it, to develop a cheaper and greater output of power for industrial purposes.

These manifold campaigns are proclaimed and described in the metaphorical language of strategy and battle. Foreign critics are apt to regard these battles 'for the Lira' and 'for Wheat' as evidence of the essentially militaristic tendencies of Fascismwherein, I think, they reveal the shallowness of their own understanding of psychology compared with that of Mussolini. He is too practical to attempt the suppression of age-old human instincts, and can be trusted to profit by the experience of Imperial Rome, to whom the establishment of universal peace within her borders was a fatal curse, because it closed the safety valve for the virile instincts. Many people talk of the problem and importance of turning these instincts into constructive channels. Mussolini, by one of his shrewdest psychological strokes, seems on the way to solve the problem. And he has done it by investing the prosaic struggles of national life with the glamour that modern war has lost, and with all the romantic trappings of war - even to the war correspondent.

These trappings, moreover, as in an army, are the necessary sugar to coat the severest pill of the new system

discipline, the most stressed note and most recurrent word in Fascist Italy to-day. As this is harder of attainment than any venture that Fascism has essayed, so it is perhaps greater than any concrete achievea miracle, indeed that Fascism has accomplished. This discipline is a combination of two sharply contrasting types which would be curious to anyone not conversant with the conditions which have produced it. On the one hand it resembles what an


Englishman would characterize as the discipline of Sir John Moore; on the other, that of Frederick the Great. The freely offered and even joyous subordination of self for the good of the cause, combined with a discipline of the reflexes-a rigorous repression, not merely of contrary opponents, but of contrary instincts in themselves. It is a commonplace, of course, that under Fascism neither an Opposition nor opposition is tolerated. For those convicted or suspect of it the result is as summary as, and less transient than, in the 'castor oil' days. They may be 'admonished,' which will involve the limitation of their movements and an enforced curfew at 9 P.M., or, if less fortunate, they will be removed to one of the smaller Italian islands, where they will receive ten lire a day for sustenance provided that they work for it.

But if Fascists are drastic with their opponents, holding that the regeneration of a nation must take precedence of the rights of the individual, their self-imposed discipline is equally stern, emphasizing duties rather than rights. And it is my impression that Fascists high and low abstain scrupulously from claiming any privileged exemption from their own strict laws wherein they are in marked contrast with most revolutionary and not a few 'democratic' régimes. "The same law for all' seems here, for a wonder, translated into fact, and the only relaxation is with foreign visitors. Why, with a people so intelligent, should not the discipline be purely of the Moore pattern? The answer may perhaps best be illustrated by the words of a senior Italian officer, who remarked to me a year or two ago that even he, when receiving an order, had an instinctive impulse to revolt against it

an instinct that was the product of an age-old tradition of individualism.

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