Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/45

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21
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

at Adrianople; and of these humble beginnings he was extremely proud. I visited him once or twice at his house; although Talaat was then the most powerful man in the Turkish Empire, his home was still the modest home of a man of the people. It was cheaply furnished; the whole establishment reminded me of a moderately priced apartment in New York. His most cherished possession was the telegraph instrument with which he had once earned his living. Talaat one night told me that he had that day received his salary as Minister of the Interior; after paying his debts, he said, he had just one hundred dollars left in the world. He liked to spend part of his spare time with the rough-shod crew that made up the Committee of Union and Progress; in the interims when he was out of the cabinet he used to occupy the desk daily at party headquarters, personally managing the party machine. Despite these humble beginnings, Talaat had developed some of the qualities of a man of the world. Though his early training had not included instruction in the use of a knife and fork—such implements are wholly unknown among the poorer classes in Turkey—Talaat could attend diplomatic dinners and represent his country with a considerable amount of dignity and personal ease. I have always regarded it as indicating his innate cleverness that, though he had had little schooling, he had picked up enough French to converse tolerably in that language. Physically, he was a striking figure. His powerful frame, his huge sweeping back, and his rocky biceps emphasized that natural mental strength and forcefulness which had made possible his career. In discussing matters Talaat liked to sit at his desk, with his shoulders drawn up, his head thrown back, and his wrists,