THE BATTLE BIGINS
"The difficulties here would have been incredible to me before
I got here." WOODROW WILSON, April 25, 1919.
IN THE early evening of March 13, 1919, the good ship George Washington again steamed into the harbor of Brest. Although a few banners were hastily hung out proclaiming "Welcome to Wilson," and although the shouted greetings were spontaneous and cordial, this reception naturally lacked the magnitude and exuberance of the first one. Messiahs tend to arouse less enthusiasm the more they show themselves: the role requires aloofness and the spell of mystery. And the French people were beginning to have grave doubts as to the ability of this particular Messiah from the West to deliver the Promised Land of Perpetual Peace.
Wilson was anxious to discover precisely what had happened in his absence, for no general can leave the battlefield for a month and find things just as he had left them. Colonel House met Wilson at the dock, and hastened to tell him in detail how the battle had gone. The two men were closeted together for several hours, and when Wilson emerged from the conference his wife was shocked by his appearance. Seemingly he had "aged ten years." He smiled bitterly and said: " House has given away everything I had won before we left Paris. He has compromised on every side, and so I have to start all over again . . ." In this incident Mrs. Wilson sees the beginning of her husband's tragic collapse.
The testimony of a loving spouse must always be accepted with caution, and in this case it is clear that Mrs. Wilson entertained a strong distrust of the quiet Colonel. But it is also clear that Wilson, with good reason or not, was displeased with what