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to them, I have no hesitation in saying that the hold of Signor Mussolini upon the imagination and faith of the people is not only unshaken, but deepening. In some ways the most civilized of peoples, the Italians are also less sophisticated as well as more patient than the Anglo-Saxons or the French. This has helped in bringing it about that to them as a whole the Duce has become almost more than man, demigod even. And their faith, as well as their patience to endure until the Promised Land is gained, is fortified not only by their belief in his inspiration, but by the comforting knowledge that above the bureaucrats is the autocrat. If local authorities are not always immaculate, - how could they be in any scheme of society? -and those under them have been sorely tried, it is much to feel that there is one above with the will and power to give instant redress. To such inevitable trials has, of course, been added the far more generally severe trial caused by dear living, trade depression in a poor country, and the hard-won 'Battle of the Lira.' These trials have caused much grumbling, but without a special target; and the traditional patience of the Italian, strengthened by the unquestioned evidence of miracles already achieved, seems to have carried him through the strain now lessening, if only in degree without serious damwithout serious damage to his new faith.

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II

What shall I say of the atmosphere as it affects the minority who, politically or instinctively, are in opposition to Fascism? As regards the active opponent there is only one answer: that it is stifling! But for those who, because of intellectual disagree ment or temperamental individualism, are critical of Fascism, while

content with passive distaste for the régime and doctrine, the conditions, if trying, seem certainly far less oppressive than one is led to believe by critics outside the country.

While, in view of my mission, I met and was received by many of the leaders of the régime and the services, it was natural that I should also meet in literary and historical circles numerous people who were far from being adherents of Fascism. But to my surprise I found that they indulged both their wit and their critical faculties with a freedom, even in public places, which caused me a strong sense of embarrassment, particularly at first. It was certainly incompatible with the idea not uncommon abroad that Italy to-day is a land of suspicion and espionage. And it was a further significant feature that these criticisms were directed against the abstract ideals of Fascism, its suppression of the freedom of the press, and its severe treatment of opposition, but rarely against the probity of its administration or the personality of its chief. The man himself usually held the honest respect even of those who disagreed with his ideal and his action.

And what of this man? For to any returning traveler from Italy the first question seems inevitably to be, not as to the conditions, the people, or the system, but 'Did you see Mussolini?'

No one can traverse Italy to-day without seeing the hand of 'Il Duce' throughout. His face also, incidentally

for on town house and small farmsteads, far off the beaten track, in the endless plains of Lombardy or the towering battlements of the Apennines, his features are to be seen stenciled on the walls. But outside Italy, if all to the youngest know him by name, few know him as more than a symbol-of wonder-working changes or of iron tyranny, according to taste and prejudice.

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the craving for fuller knowledge is rarely satisfied. For neither man nor his personality is made up merely of deeds and words. Yet these are traditionally the stuff that chroniclers and biographers, past or contemporary, serve up in indigestible lumps for our malnutrition. I shall not present Signor Mussolini in this form, and to do so would not aid the appetite. For his passing deeds are duly recorded in the bforeign telegrams, and his past deeds

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enshrined already in several bulky la biographies which anyone can obtain. And as for his words, the formal speeches of any statesman rarely throw a revealing light on the man himself or his inner thoughts; still less his utterances in an interview 'for publication.' Instead, as straws show the way of the wind, so do trifles the way of the mind.

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combines the charge of no less than six Ministries six Ministries-Foreign, Home, War, Marine, Air, Corporations. The strain on his endurance is not lightened by the fact that since the successive attempts on his life he has been persuaded to forgo, save exceptionally, his former regular riding exercise in the public parks, he is rarely seen at all now except on formal occasions, and thus has to take his exercise within the narrower limits of private grounds. Not that he seemingly shows any ill effects; his appearance gives no support to the rumors that periodically float, or are floated, abroad of his imminent breakdown. Perhaps the strain is less intense also, for I gathered that with the machinery running well, and his assistants sifted, he is now able to delegate, and has learned the wisdom of delegating, the more routine functions of his many offices.

His sparse hours of leisure and repose are spent during the winter in a small, simple apartment in an old palace on one of Rome's side streets. Here his equally simple wants are attended to by a single servant, a middle-aged housekeeper, and here also he snatches stray hours for his one recreation, other than riding - that of violin playing. On this instrument he is no mean performer. His wife and children still live in Milan, although they come to Rome for periodical visits. For all his cares as father of a greater family, Signor Mussolini makes opportunity to follow closely and keenly the development of his own offspring.

So here I propose to give merely a few homely trifles, sprinkled with an impression or two, in the hope that they may help to form a portrait of 'Mussolini Intime,' so that for the transatlantic public which follows the devious currents of European politics he may no longer be merely a deed- and wordproducing mechanism. Let me first fill in the background of his daily life before I treat the man. The greater part of his working hours are spent at the Chigi Palace, the Italian Foreign Office, in a room which overlooks the Corso, the principal, if narrow, artery of Rome's daily life. The length of Mussolini's working hours considerably exceeds trade-union standards- as do those of most of the Ministers and officials under Fascism, for the governare still humming with after Whitehall has re

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At the Chigi Palace itself the outward trappings of power are not in greater evidence. Entering from the Corso, the visitor meets a solitary doorkeeper in the gateway, sees a cluster of cars in the inner courtyard, and perhaps catches a glimpse of an unobtrusive but watchful plain-clothes man. Thence, unattended, he proceeds

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.

III

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.

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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 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 be 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 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. 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.

IV

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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

the one-man system. In each province the authority and responsibility of the prefect are almost absolute, under the Central Government, and below him the old elected municipal councils have been replaced by a nominated podesta, combining in himself all the powers of mayor and corporation. The Fascist system throughout, like the military system, provides for advice and assistance, but leaves the decision and executive power to a single head.

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