The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke V1
Stephen Gwynn

Part 5 out of 11

_Life of Gladstone_, ii, 549; _Life of Granville, ii. 166 and 264, where
Lord Ampthill, writing in 1882, expresses the opinion that Lord Derby's
policy was most unfortunate.]

It was on May 19th, 1876, that the British Government dated their refusal
to intervene. As early as June, accounts of what had been done in Bulgaria
began to appear in the Press. Mr. Disraeli ridiculed them in the House of
Commons, but testimony soon accumulated, and the most important evidence
was that of Mr. Eugene Schuyler, then attached to the American Legation at
Constantinople. As American Consul at St. Petersburg in 1869-70, he had
become acquainted with Sir Charles, and had seen a good deal of him in
London during the earlier part of 1875. It was, therefore, to Dilke that
Schuyler wrote his account of the massacres at Batak, based upon his visit
to the spot, which he found still horrible with unburied corpses; and in
August, on the last day of the Session, Dilke, addressing his constituents
at Notting Hill, read Schuyler's letter to them.

Early in September, 1876, public indignation was set ablaze by Mr.
Gladstone's famous pamphlet, which demanded that the Turk should clear out
of Bulgaria, "bag and baggage." On the 14th of the same month Mr. Baring's
official report confirmed the Schuyler letter, and on the 21st Lord Derby
sent a despatch, which, says Sir Charles, 'in the sharpest words ever, I
think, used in a despatch, demanded reparation, and the "signal,
conspicuous, and exemplary punishment" of Chefket Pasha, director of the
Bulgarian massacres.'

Meanwhile Servia and Montenegro, feudatory States of the Porte, had gone
to war with their overlord; and in order to induce the Turks to grant an
armistice, Russia and Austria proposed to England a joint naval
demonstration, carried out in the name of Europe, by England and France.
Lord Derby proposed instead a conference of Europe to take place at
Constantinople, and to this the Powers agreed. But Russia, not contented
with this step, presented an ultimatum to Turkey demanding an armistice
for Servia, and obtained it on November 1st. Thus, by Lord Derby's action,
'the armistice was refused to Europe and yielded to a Russian ultimatum.'

The conference met at Constantinople in December, 1876, and on the 14th
Lord Salisbury, who represented England, was advocating the "efficacious
measure" of occupying Bulgaria by English troops, and, when this was
refused, proposed the employment of Belgians. But--

'It was now too late. Turkey had been encouraged by us into
mobilization. Russia had been thwarted by us into mobilization. The
time was past when we might have averted war, might have pacified the
East, protected alike the Eastern Christians and "British interests"
by a signature.'

Replying to a common argument, he said: 'Want of money will not cause
Russia to terminate the war. Machiavelli has truly said that nothing is
more false than the common belief that money is the sinews of war.'

The conference failing, all Ambassadors were withdrawn from the Porte, and
Russia continued to parley with the other Powers. 'Early in March, 1877, a
draft Protocol regarding the expectation of the Powers with regard to
Turkish reforms was handed to Lord Derby, who promised to sign if Russia
would promise to disarm.' Russia specified the conditions on which she
would 'disarm,' and Lord Derby then signed the Protocol, but added a
declaration that his signature should be null unless disarmament followed
both in Russia and Turkey. This, in Sir Charles's judgment, was tantamount
to a refusal to sign, because Lord Derby must have known that Turkey would
never grant, except under coercion, the conditions on which Russia had
consented to disarm. "All Turkish promises are of one material--
paper," he said, and in severely criticizing the action of the Government
added: "The unreformed state of Turkey is, and will continue to be, the
greatest standing menace to the peace of Europe."

Further, at the same moment England again separated herself from the other
Powers by sending an Ambassador--Mr. Layard--to Constantinople, 'to which
the Turks replied: "The Porte is very sensible of this delicate mark of

The effect was to encourage Turkey to count on English support, and
Russia, unable to secure concerted action, declared war single-handed.

Thus, not only was the result missed which Sir Charles desired and thought
possible--namely, the restoration of order by joint action of Europe--but
the way was paved for another result which he deplored--the extension of
Russia's influence, and even of her territorial sway.

As his speeches gave the story of the European position, so his diary
provides a commentary on that story from within:

'Things generally were in a disturbed condition at this moment. The
Eastern Question, which was to be so prominent for the next four
years, had grown critical, and Bourke, the Under-Secretary for Foreign
Affairs (afterwards Lord Connemara and Governor of Madras), said to me
at the House of Commons: "The one thing that astonishes me is the
confidence of people in Lord Derby." Now, Lord Derby was his chief.
This proved pretty clearly that Mr. Disraeli was, in fact, his own
Foreign Secretary, and had made up his mind that Lord Derby should
"go." [Footnote: Lord Derby did not "go" till the spring of 1878.]

'June 28th, 1876, is the date of the first of my letters mentioning
the Eastern Question. It is from Auberon Herbert: "We are sure to get
into some frightful trouble if Dizzy is to be allowed uninterruptedly
to offer what sacrifices he will on the altar of his vanity. You all
seem to me to be living in Drowsy Hollow, while Dizzy is consulting
his imagination, and Hartington politely bowing. What can you all be
doing? Is it the hot weather? Or are all of you secretly pleased at
England's 'determined attitude'? Please, dear Neros, cease fiddling
for a short time, and let us poor, harmless, innocent-minded country-
folk have some assurance that you are not going to fight all
Europe.... You sleepy and unfaithful guardians." ...

'Although I was the first politician to make a speech upon the
Bulgarian massacres, [Footnote: See reference to Eugene Schuyler's
letter in speech of August, 1876, p. 207.] I afterwards refused to
follow Mr. Gladstone into what was called the "atrocity agitation,"
because I feared that we should find ourselves plunged into a war with
Turkey in alliance with Russia, of which I should have disapproved.'

He subscribed, however, to the funds of those who took charge of the
fugitives on both sides.

The agitation offended him by its extravagance. "If Gladstone goes on much
longer, I shall turn Turk," he wrote to Sir William Harcourt. There was
general disquiet in the Liberal party. On October 10th, 1876, Sir William
Harcourt wrote:

"Things here are in the most damnable mess that politics have ever
been in in my time. Gladstone and Dizzy seem to cap one another in
folly and in pretence, and I do not know which has made the greatest
ass of himself. Blessed are they that hold their tongue and wait to be
wise after the event. To this sagacious policy you will see we"
(_i.e.,_ the Hartington section) "have adhered, and shall adhere. I
had a long letter from Hartington from Constantinople (whither, as you
will see, he has prudently retired), full of his usual good sense and
caution. I quite concur with him that, though a strong case can be
made against the Government for their deliberate _status quo_ policy
during the months of June, July, and August, there is little fault to
find with what they have been doing since Derby has taken the matter
into his own hands in September. There is a decided reaction against
Gladstone's agitation. The Brooksite Whigs are furious with him, and
so are the commercial gents and the Norwood-Samuda [Footnote: Leading
shipowners and Members of Parliament.] lot, whose pecuniary interests
are seriously compromised. The Bucks election [Footnote: This by-
election, on September 22nd, 1876, was consequent on Mr. Disraeli's
acceptance of a Peerage. The Conservative (Hon. T. F. Fremantle) beat
the Liberal (Mr. R. Carington, brother to Lord Carrington), but only
by 186 votes on a poll of over 5,000.] has a good smell for Dizzy. All
the Rothschild tenants voted Tory, though, to save his own skin, Nat.
went on Carington's committee. The Rothschilds will never forgive
Gladstone and Lowe for the Egyptian business. Chamberlain and Fawcett
... are using the opportunity to demand the demission of Hartington
and the return of Gladstone. But you need not ... prepare for extreme

By the same post came a letter from Mr. Chamberlain, who declared that he
was "not Gladstonian," but considered that--

"After all, he is our best card. You see Forster's speech--trimming as
usual, and trying to dish the Radicals by bidding for the Whigs and
Moderates. Gladstone is the best answer to this sort of thing, and if
he were to come back for a few years he would probably do much for us,
and pave the way for more. Lord Hartington ... is away and silent,
besides which he is pro-Turk. If Gladstone could be induced formally
to resume the reins, it would be almost equivalent to a victory, and
would stir what Bright calls 'the masses of my countrymen' to the

Sir Charles's own considered opinion was written to Sir William Harcourt
on October 16th:

"I, as you know, think Hartington the best man for us--the Radicals--
because he is quite fearless, always goes with us when he thinks it
safe for the party, and generally judges rightly--or takes the
soundest advice on this point. In fact, I don't think he's ever made a
mistake at all--as yet; but Chamberlain seems, by a sort of quasi-
hereditary Birmingham position, to look at him as Bright used to look
at Palmerston. This is serious, because Chamberlain is a strong man
and does not easily change, unlike the other member of our
triumvirate, Cowen, who is as fickle as the wind, one day Hartington,
one day you, one day Gladstone, and never seeming to know even his own

Mr. Gladstone's return to leadership was more and more assured, but he
would not find his old antagonist face to face with him in the House of
Commons. At the close of the Session of 1876 Sir Charles had unknowingly
witnessed a great withdrawal.

'On the night of August 11th I had listened to Mr. Disraeli's last
speech as a Commoner, and had noticed that on leaving the House in a
long white overcoat and dandified lavender kid gloves, leaning on his
secretary's arm, he had shaken hands with a good many people, none of
whom knew that he was bidding farewell to the House of Commons.'

This withdrawal marked no lessening of power. As Sir Charles had
perceived, Disraeli was his own Foreign Secretary, and a Foreign
Minister's influence gained by being exercised in the House of Lords.
Meanwhile, in Gladstone's absence the Liberal party seemed broken and
divided beyond hope of recovery. In the country, though the campaign
launched by the Bulgarian pamphlet had seemed so immediately effective
that a Tory county member said to Mr. Gladstone, "If there were a
dissolution now, I should not get a vote," yet the reaction, spoken of in
Harcourt's letter to Dilke on October 10th, very quickly developed. Those
who supported Mr. Gladstone identified themselves unreservedly with the
Slav as against the Turk. But by others the demand for ejection of the
Turk, "bag and baggage," from Bulgaria was construed as an invitation for
Russia to seize Constantinople, and thus as a direct infringement of
British interests in Egypt and the Mediterranean. Lord Beaconsfield
skilfully played upon this feeling, and there ensued a condition of
affairs in which Mr. Gladstone made triumphal progresses through the north
of England, and was hooted weekly in the streets of London.

Sir Charles himself was in a great difficulty, being as he says, 'anti-
Russian without being for that pro-Turk.' Sharing to the full the general
detestation of these massacres, of which the earliest complete exposure
had been made public [Footnote: See p. 207, Schuyler's letter.] by him, he
held that there ought to be armed intervention. But he knew too much of
Russia's action in conquered provinces to feel that the matter could be
settled satisfactorily by allowing Russian influence to replace Turkish

What was more, he knew that in 1870, when Russia repudiated the Black Sea
article in the Treaty of Paris, March 30th, 1856, Mr. Gladstone's
Government had pressed the Powers of Europe to make general the Tripartite
Treaty, April 27th, 1856, 'Our Government (Gladstone-Granville) proposed
to answer the Russian Circular by extending the Tripartite Treaty to all
the Powers, and it was only Germany's refusal that stopped it.' By this
treaty, 'France, Austria, and the United Kingdom bound themselves to
consider any breach of the Treaty of Paris, 1856, or any invasion of the
integrity of the Ottoman Empire, as a _casus belli_.' In other words, the
Liberal Government had been anxious in 1870 that all the Powers should
guarantee for all time the power of the Turk in its full extension, though
Turkish methods were in 1870 and before it no other than they revealed
themselves at Batak in 1876. Sir Charles thought that, as Liberals had
been precipitate in their desire to guarantee Ottoman integrity in 1870,
so now they were precipitate in their Pan-Slavism. Moreover, the
vacillation of the Liberal leaders had put a weapon into the hands of the
Government. 'Fancy what a temptation to the present Government to publish
the despatches,' notes Sir Charles, in comment on Sir William Harcourt's
remark 'that the Tripartite Treaty discussion would be a mine of gunpowder
to the Liberal Front Bench.'

He set forth his position in a speech to his constituents at Kensington on
January 9th, 1877. He condemned Lord Derby, who had neither "the energy
nor the force of character to fit him for the post of Foreign Secretary,"
and whose policy had left them at the close of 1876 in "absolute
isolation." Yet, "on the other hand, he marvelled to see Radicals, for
years the enemies of Russian autocracy, propose the immediate adoption of
the policy of Canon Liddon and of the Emperor Alexander." [Footnote: Dr.
H. P. Liddon and Dr. Malcolm MacColl were conspicuous as enthusiastic
supporters of Mr. Gladstone's campaign.] And he went on to depict what
that policy might mean:

"The world could not afford to see 120,000,000 of Slavs united under the
sceptre of an absolute despot, holding at Constantinople the strongest
position in all Europe, stretching from the Adriatic to Kamskatka and the
Behring Straits, and holding in Corea the strongest position in the
Pacific." Then he recalled the record of "that Power with which the
Liberals of England were to strike alliance--an absolute autocracy of the
purest type, the Power which crushed Poland, the Power which crushed
Hungary for Austria." And by what methods! The long story of violation
"both of the public and the moral law" was repeated, with citation of
British Ministers who had spoken in fierce condemnation of, Russian
methods; the decoration of Mouravief, the "woman-flogging General," was
set off against the promotion of Chefket Pasha. He himself had seen in
1869 "long processions of Polish exiles, who were still being sent by
hundreds into the solitudes of Siberia." In Turkestan General Kaufmann had
ordered a massacre of women and children, and Kaufmann, "loaded with
favours by the Emperor Alexander, still ruled in Turkestan." It was a
vehement denunciation of the autocracy of Russia, and he notes that he had
never before so moved his hearers. To his attack on the Russian Government
were added some severe strictures on the barbarities perpetrated by
Servians, and by Mr. Gladstone's special favourites, the Montenegrins,
inhabitants of "countries whose civilization had not sufficiently
progressed to allow of the belief that they were the unselfish champions
of an outraged Christianity."

Holding these views, and holding them the more strongly because they were
the outcome of personal experience and knowledge laboriously acquired, he
was in a considerable degree isolated, not only from the Liberal party as
a whole, but even from that more intimate organization whose existence was
already recognized in the autumn of 1876, when Mr. Knowles asked him to
write in the _Nineteenth Century_ on the "New Party."

His closest associate, now and henceforward, was Mr. Chamberlain, who in
1877 stayed a great deal in Sloane Street, and Dilke notes that in
February of that year he was giving dinners almost every night to
introduce the member for Birmingham to London. But the "New Party," when
Mr. Knowles made his unsuccessful request, consisted

'of Chamberlain and myself and Cowen in the House of Commons, and
Morley outside of it.... As Chamberlain and Cowen failed to agree upon
any subject whatever, the House of Commons portion of the party soon
dwindled to two leaders, in the persons of Chamberlain and myself,
who, however, picked up one faithful follower in Dillwyn. From
September, 1876, to April, 1880, there did exist a very real and very
influential, but little numerous, party, consisting of Chamberlain and
myself, followed blindly by dear old Dillwyn, and supported in the
Press by Morley. As Randolph Churchill afterwards said to me, shaking
his head over Balfour's desertion: "When you and Chamberlain were
together, your party was not too large." He had begun with four (three
regular and one half-attached), and found it certainly one, perhaps
two, and I sometimes think three, too many, though Wolff indeed
followed him almost as steadily as Dillwyn followed us.'

For a time the "New Party" consisted of six. Mr. Edmund Dwyer Gray, an
Irish Nationalist, owner of the _Freeman's Journal_, was of it, but soon
dropped out, and for a time Mr. Burt--Father of the House in 1910--was
also included.

At the beginning of 1877 summons was sent to a meeting before the opening
of Parliament, to which Mr. Chamberlain replied solemnly: "The party will
be complete." Further solemnity was added by the holding, at 76, Sloane
Street, of a Queen's Speech dinner in due form on the eve of the Session,

'the dinner of six members, which assembled democratically without
dressing in order to suit Burt's habits, was not graced by that copy
of the Queen's Speech which is sent by Government to the leaders of
the regular Opposition.'

The "New Party" of 1876-77 differed notably in one respect from the other
small and influential group of which it was the forerunner. It had no

'On Saturday, February 17th, Chamberlain dined with the Prince of
Wales. In noting the invitation in my diary I put down: "The Prince of
Wales has asked Chamberlain to dinner for Saturday. I call this
'nobbling my party.'" But the possessive pronoun with regard to the
party was not according to my custom. We always said that the party
consisted of three in all--two leaders and a follower--and Dillwyn
acknowledged Chamberlain and myself as equal leaders.'

'On July 4th I drove Dillwyn down to Chiswick to the Duke of
Devonshire's garden party. The Prince of Wales was there, and gave
Dillwyn a very friendly bow, whereupon I asked Dillwyn how he came to
know him so well, to which "the party" answered that he had shot
pigeons with him; and on my reproaching my old friend for indulging in
such sport, he said that he not only shot pigeons, but that the Prince
had been so struck with his shooting that he had asked who the old
gentleman was "who looked like a Methodist parson and shot like an

At the beginning of 1877, when they were still six, division existed even
in that small group on the burning question of the hour. Mr. Cowen was
strongly influenced by his intercourse with a settlement of Poles at
Newcastle, and--

'although his anti-Russian views were only the same as my own, yet he
allowed them, as I think, without reason, to drive him into a position
of support of the Government which from this time forward separated
him from the Liberal party.'

None of Sir Charles's other colleagues approached the Eastern Question
entirely on its own merits as distinct from party. His study of foreign
politics had, however, forced him to understand the issues, and thus his
position was rendered difficult: 'I was anti-Russian, and in this with
Hartington. On the other hand, I was for avowed intervention in the East,
and in this more extreme than Mr. Gladstone.' But at the same time his
exceptional competence in the discussion brought him steadily to the
front. Without any sacrifice of independent judgment he found himself
increasingly consulted.

His Memoir gives, therefore, an interesting picture of the movement of
opinion in the Liberal party. At the beginning of the Session, when it was
known that Lord Salisbury had advocated active interference in the name of
Europe, Sir Charles found that 'only Harcourt and the Duke of Argyll were
for strong action in the sense of coercion of Turkey.' The Duke, however,
soon made two converts, and Dilke wrote to his brother on January 6th,

"Lord Granville and Lord Hartington will, I am delighted to say, speak
for concerted intervention. The only man who strongly opposed their
doing so was Mr. Gladstone, who ran away from his own views." Against
this Sir Charles notes later: 'Both at the meeting of Parliament in
1877, and also later on in the Session in the case of his own
memorable resolutions.'

'Mr. Gladstone had in private conversation told Harcourt that such a
course as European intervention to coerce Turkey "should only be
resolved upon after much deliberation." To this Harcourt had retorted:
"Well, Mr. Gladstone, if people outside knew what you were saying,
they might reflect it was you that hung the bag of powder on the

On February 11th Sir Charles noted, 'Harcourt has got frightened and has
gone back,' fearing a division in the House of Commons on which Henry
Richard and the peace men would either support the Government or abstain
from voting, lest intervention should mean war.

Thus party feeling fluctuated. On February 16th, 1877, Sir Charles's diary
recorded that 'the popular name for our Front Bench with the London mob is
"Bag and baggage Billy and his long-eared crew."' This showed that 'in the
popular mind the personality of Mr. Gladstone had finally triumphed over
that of Hartington.'

At this moment Sir Charles's views coincided with those of Lord Hartington
to the extent of being anti-Russian, and, as already seen, he was more
drawn by personal feeling to him than to any of the various leaders. Mr.
Forster and Mr. Goschen seemed to him inclined to what a letter of
Harcourt's called "the old facing-both-ways style," and the magic of Mr.
Gladstone's personality never exercised its spell on Dilke. But he liked
Lord Hartington personally, and liked also Lord Hartington's ally, the
Duchess of Manchester, who, he says--

'used to try very hard to pick up political information for Lord
Hartington; but her own strong Conservative prejudices and her want of
clearness of head made her by no means a useful guide, and in fact the
wonder to me always was to see how Hartington's strong common sense
kept him from making the mistakes into which she always tried by her
influence to press him.'

That was written after an interview which Sir Charles had with her, at her
request, on January 8th, 1877. The Duchess had read a report of a speech
of his, in which 'I lectured on the Franco-German War, and condemned the
taking of territory as bound to lead to further wars.' On February 10th he
met her again to discuss the difficulties which were beginning to spring
up, since Mr. Gladstone's sudden access of activity, as to the leadership
of the party. In this matter Sir Charles kept himself 'absolutely
independent, going now with one and now with the other, with mere regard
to the opinions which they put forward.... I had a full knowledge of what
was going on behind the scenes,' although, because he was not in complete
agreement with either party among the Liberal leaders, he 'had not the
complete confidence of either side.'

This detachment of attitude adds the more weight to the judgment which is
passed in the following detailed review of the situation as it was in the
spring of 1877:

'At this moment' (February 18th, 1877) 'London was a centre of
intrigue. But my interest in the Eastern Question had nothing to do
with persons, and was an honest one, and I found myself able to act
only with those who had no candidate of their own for the leadership
of the party, or who, like Lord Granville, were brought to a similar
position by the conflict between party loyalty and a personal
affection for Mr. Gladstone, and I was able therefore at this moment
to act more steadily with Lord Granville than with any other leading
member of the Liberal party. He was jealous of Lord Hartington, but he
was loyal to him as the party chief. Towards Mr. Gladstone he was
affectionate, but not blind.' [Footnote: Sir Charles summarises here a
memorandum he drew for Lord Granville for the debate on February 19th,
used then and on several other occasions. He pointed out that the
Government policy, since the failure of the Conference, of leaving
things alone, was safe for the moment, but it did nothing for the
Eastern Christians, gave no satisfaction to the demands made in the
name of the Queen by Lord Derby on September 21st, 1876, offered no
bridge to Russia for the avoidance of war, and therefore left the
Turkish Empire and British interests exposed to the gravest danger.
Concerted action was the course Liberals desired.]

'There can be no doubt that many were making use of the Eastern
Question for the purpose of advancing their particular views as to the
leadership of the party. When men have to use other men as tools for
the execution of any plan, it is difficult for them to refrain from
that tricky handling of them which is best for the immediate end, but
debases both the user and the used. To sway men by knowledge of their
weaknesses is the task of a charlatan rather than of a statesman. Mr.
Gladstone, with all his inconsistency upon the Eastern Question, and
in spite of the fact that he had only just seen evils which had always
been there, had that which the others lacked, moral conviction, and
Hartington was infected with moral indifferentism. The Conservatives
no doubt thought that Mr. Gladstone's attitude was mere emotional
facility, a mere exhibition of spasmodic power of transient
enthusiasm, an effect rather of temperament than of conviction, and
unlikely therefore to produce a continued consequence of action
sustained at a high level. The public, however, saw more clearly.
Power over the moral fibre of other natures is not given to those
whose own nature is wanting in this moral force, and Mr. Gladstone's
attitude on the Eastern Question, in spite of his contradictions and
of his occasional running away from the consequences of his own acts,
was appreciated with accuracy by that large section of the public
which ultimately followed him.'

To this estimate should be added the record of a talk which passed in June
of the same year at a dinner party, where Sir Charles, 'along with Matthew
Arnold, Bowen, afterwards Lord of Appeal, and Frederick Pollock,'
discussed 'what is known as moral force':

'I upheld the view that to me Gathorne Hardy (although I never agreed
in a word which the future Lord Cranbrook said) possessed moral force
in the highest degree, but that this moral force was one which I felt
had only prejudice behind it. Still to me the intense conviction of
the man gave him immense strength, and made him the most really
eloquent Englishman to whom I had ever listened. Gladstone, I thought,
had moral force, because he believed in the particular thing of which
he was speaking at the particular moment at which he spoke. I somewhat
differed from the others with regard to Bright, thinking that he was
seldom really in earnest, although I admitted that no man gave more
strongly the impression of earnestness to his hearers, and therefore
no man had "moral force" in a higher degree.... Courtney (who had come
in during the autumn of 1876) and Fawcett both have "moral force."'

In March, 1877, the last stage was reached in those long-drawn
negotiations by which the statesmen of Europe endeavoured to avoid war,
and the declaration which Lord Derby attached in the name of England to
the Protocol of London was virtually a refusal to assent to coercion of
Turkey. Acting as leader of the Opposition, Lord Hartington asked Dilke to
'sketch a vote of censure on the declaration.' In the debate which took
place on April 13th (the day after Russia declared war against Turkey)--

'I spoke at great length, but too late for good reports, and by my
"gospel of selfishness" and other similar phrases raised ringing
cheers and counter-cheers, which for some time stopped my going on. I
felt after this day no longer afraid to stand up to anyone upon the
other side, but I noted that if Mr. Disraeli had been still in the
House I should not have hoped to have escaped as I did, after saying
all I had said of his colleagues in a full house, and coining such a
phrase of their proceedings as "gospel of selfishness"; but that which
struck me most in the whole debate was above all the want of
statesmanlike suggestion.'

A week after the declaration of war it seemed all but certain that Great
Britain must be drawn into the conflict; and Sir Charles--

'prepared (on April 20th, 1877) a resolution, which put on record my
opinions, and stated that the House regretted the failure of the
policy of the Government either to improve the position of Christian
subjects of the Porte or to avert war. It also regretted their
unwillingness to co-operate with any other of the European Powers.'

But the Liberal party as a whole was not able to formulate any such clear
conclusion. Within a week Mr. Gladstone had determined to break away from
the "upper official circles of Liberalism," and to move a series of
Resolutions, which were actually drafted on April 26th, but the existence
of which did not become generally known till the 29th.

'_29th April_.--Took Chamberlain to a party at Lord Houghton's, where
Lord and Lady Salisbury were leading figures, and where was Harcourt,
boiling over with rage at Mr. Gladstone, whose Resolutions had just
been heard of. Gladstone will very probably split the Liberal party
into two factions, but I do not see that he could have avoided doing
as he has done. Chamberlain and I and Fawcett must vote with him.
Cowen will vote against him, although if principles and not persons
were in question he must vote the other way. Gladstone will move a
string of resolutions, of which only one will touch the past--namely,
one to condemn the Turks for not carrying out the sentences on their
officers employed in the Bulgarian massacres. The main one, which
touches the future, will, I believe, bind over the Government not to
give aid to Turkey. His speech will be very fine.'

The "upper official circles" met, and in full conclave decided to separate
themselves publicly from Mr. Gladstone.

More serious still, this decision to oppose their colleague and quondam
leader was communicated to the Press. But on May 5th reconciliation was
effected. Concerning this Lord Morley says:

"What was asked was that he (Mr. Gladstone) should consent to an
amended form of his second resolution, declaring more simply and
categorically that the Turk by his misgovernment had lost his claims."

Gladstone himself wrote that the change was "little more than nominal."
But Sir Charles's Memoir of the time shows at once how far the schism had
gone, and also how different a view was taken of the alteration by some of
Mr. Gladstone's supporters:

'On May 3rd I noted in my diary: "The Liberal party will next week
cease to exist. I have already eighty-eight names of men who will vote
with Gladstone, and, the Front Bench having foolishly decided to
support the previous question, the party will be equally divided, and
Hartington will resign. Gladstone will, I think, refuse to lead.
Hartington will be asked to come back, but Goschen's friends may spoil
the absolute unanimity of the request, and Hartington then refusing,
Goschen would succeed. This seems to be the Goschen intrigue. I am
sincerely sorry. The Front Bench people might perfectly well have
voted against the 'previous question' on the ground that they support
the first resolution, and yet have spoken against Gladstone's later
resolutions."' He added later: 'I have still in my possession (1890)
the list of the party as made up by me, showing who would have voted
with Mr. Gladstone, who would have voted with Lord Hartington, ... and
who had stated that they would abstain. The analysis is of interest,
as the facts have never been made known.' [Footnote: For analysis see
Appendix at end of this chapter, p. 223.]

The outcome was a day in which Mr. Gladstone had to sustain singlehanded
from half-past four to seven a Parliamentary wrangle of the most
embarrassing kind, concerning the alteration of the form (and possibly the
substance) of his original motion, and then to speak for another two hours
and a half.[Footnote: See _Life of Gladstone_, vol. ii., chap, iv., p.

'At the last moment Mr. Gladstone executed a sudden change of front,
which prevented a break-up of the party, but made his own position
somewhat foolish. I was lunching with old Mrs. Duncan Stewart to meet
Mrs. Grote and Lady Aberdare, the wife of Mr. Gladstone's former
colleague (Bruce, the Home Secretary), when I heard what was to
happen. But publicity was only given to the change at the last moment.

'On May 8th I recorded in my diary that "Gladstone's noble delivery of
his peroration last night saved the evening from being a complete
fiasco, but only just saved it. The Duke of Westminster, who was to
have presided at the meeting at St. James's Hall, absented himself on
account of the change of front; but the meeting was not told that the
third and fourth resolutions were to be withdrawn. Both Gladstone and
also the rest of the Front Bench people are in the wrong--he for
moving at all in a sense hostile to Lord Hartington unless he meant to
go through with the thing, and they for not finding a better way out.
Such a way was clear last night. If Hartington had given notice of a
direct vote of censure on the new reply to Russia published yesterday,
as he might have done consistently with his views, Gladstone could
have withdrawn in face of it."'

A general note on his personal difficulties follows later:

'In August (1877) I was again embarrassed by my attitude upon the
Eastern Question. The fact that, being responsible, we had neglected
to be humane, or to be politic, during the previous one-and-twenty
years in which we might have taken the lead--might have insisted upon
reform in Turkey and fostered the possibilities of self-government in
the dependent States--made it difficult to approve the sudden activity
which the conduct of the Turks in their straits called forth on the
part of many Liberal politicians. Action might doubtless have been
taken by us at any time between the Crimean War and the outbreak of
the Russo-Turkish War, but, as the opportunity had been neglected, it
was difficult to inaugurate such a policy under pressure of the
atrocities agitation....

'The new position of the Eastern Question, although it did not unite
me with Mr. Gladstone, made a political breach between myself and
Hartington. He fell more and more under the somewhat stupid influence
of his surroundings, and I, holding a position between the two wings
of the party, found few with whom I myself agreed. Randolph
Churchill... made advances towards me which led to joint action, as
will be seen, in 1878. But in the autumn of '77 I was isolated, for
Chamberlain went, although with moderation, with Mr. Gladstone's


'The division of the party was a very singular one. The Whigs were
divided; the Radicals were divided; the wild Irish were divided, for the
wild Irish at this particular moment were receiving the Liberal whip, and
were, accordingly, on the party lists. On the whole, out of 296 members
who were at this moment receiving the Liberal whip, about 110 had
pronounced for Mr. Gladstone, and about 110 for Lord Hartington against
Mr. Gladstone, the remainder, who included a majority of the Irish, having
announced their intention of walking out, or having refused to take
sides.... With Lord Hartington and against Mr. Gladstone were, of course,
nearly all the Front Bench, even those who at first promised to support
Mr. Gladstone having seen fit to change under pressure. One curious fact
about my list is the large number of persons at first marked with a single
line, as having promised Mr. Gladstone, and afterwards altered to crosses
as having yielded under Front-Bench pressure. The Basses were with Lord
Hartington; Sir Thomas Bazley, leader of the middle-class Lancashire
Whigs, who at first had gone with Mr. Gladstone, had gone over to Lord
Hartington. The Beaumonts were with Lord Hartington, as were the Brasseys.
The two Brights, John and Jacob, who at first had been expected to support
Mr. Gladstone, had finally decided, under peace influences, to support
Lord Hartington, on the ground that his policy was less likely than that
of Mr. Gladstone to bring about an armed intervention. Campbell-Bannerman
was frankly with Lord Hartington from the first; and Lord Frederick and
Lord Edward Cavendish went with their brother, although Lord Frederick
Cavendish was one of Mr. Gladstone's dearest friends. Childers knew no
doubts, but Joe Cowen's support of Hartington was more peculiar. Peace
men, like Sir Wilfrid Lawson, who disapproved the Crimean War, were
perhaps in their right place in supporting Lord Hartington's opposition to
Mr. Gladstone's resolutions; but Cowen and his set, such as Norwood and
Leatham, went with Lord Hartington chiefly, I think, on account of their
bitter personal hatred for Mr. Gladstone. J. K. Cross, afterwards to be
Under-Secretary of State for India, went with Hartington, against our
expectation; but the joint weight of Devonshire influence and the Brights
was too much for Lancashire. Cowper Temple, de Grey (afterwards lady
Ripon), and Grant Duff were with Lord Hartington, as was to be expected.
Ellice, and Evans of Derbyshire, representative Whigs, separated
themselves from such other ordinary Whigs as Leveson-Gower and Young, and
went with Hartington. Fitzmaurice separated himself from Fawcett and me
and Chamberlain and Courtney, and pronounced, after some hesitation, for
Hartington. W. E. Forster, the two Goldsmids, Goschen, Harcourt, and
Hayter, were, of course, with Hartington, as was also Herschell. Sir Henry
James could no more be expected to separate himself from Hartington than
could Nigel Kingscote, Knatchbull-Hugessen, or Lord Kensington, the Second
Whip.... Stansfeld supported Hartington, as did very naturally Sir N. de
Rothschild (afterwards Lord Rothschild), the Marquis of Stafford, Lord
Tavistock, and Mr. Roebuck (who, oddly enough, received our whip, though
he never voted with us unless we went wrong). Trevelyan went with
Hartington--a thing which had been less expected than the support of
Hartington by Mr. Villiers, by Mr. Whitbread, and by Walter of the
_Times_.... Mr. Biggar characteristically stated to various people that he
should vote against Hartington, for Hartington, and not at all.... Mr.
Butt from the first declared that he should not compromise his party by
taking part in the division.... Parnell, like Butt, from the first said
that he should abstain.... P. J. Smyth, the orator of the Irish party, or
who might perhaps rather be described as forming a party in himself, for
he was not a Home Ruler, but a Repealer, also, after at first intending to
support Mr. Gladstone, decided not to vote.'



In a week spent in Paris at the end of 1876 Sir Charles stayed with
Gambetta, and took occasion to bring about a meeting between him and Sir
William and Lady Harcourt, who were also in Paris. With Sir William
Harcourt was his son and inseparable companion Mr. Lewis Harcourt, who
recalls a day when Sir Charles said to him: "Now, Loulou, I want you to
come and have lunch with me by yourself; I'm not asking your father and
mother to-day." He remembers his pride in going off to the Cafe Anglais,
where they were met by a man with a big black beard. "This, Loulou, is
Monsieur Gambetta." The two men talked, and the boy listened, as he was
well used to do, for in those days he constantly "ran about beside his
father like a little dog." After lunch they went for a drive, and still
the men talked, and Gambetta pointed to the window from which he had
proclaimed the Republic, and Dilke showed where he had lain for half a day
while the French troops were besieging the French of Paris. The boy
listened eagerly--to understand, years after, how the whole drive had been
planned for his edification and delight.

Since August, 1876, Gambetta had been talking of a visit, proposing, says
Sir Charles, to "come to me in town, and probably bring Challemel-Lacour
also to 76, Sloane Street." The visit was to be purely private and social;
"he will receive no deputations, no addresses, and will visit no
provincial towns."

'It was in 1876 that he sent to me a certain Gerard, who became French
reader to the Empress Augusta of Germany, and it is supposed that the
somewhat brilliant volume called _The Society of Berlin_, long
afterwards published under the name of _Count Paul Vasili_ by Madame
Adam (although not the later volumes of the same series, which were by
Vandam), was from Gerard's pen. Gambetta, when he came to power as
Prime Minister, appointed Gerard, who was then in the Legation at
Washington, his private secretary, Georges Pallain being the second,
and Joseph Reinach the third. But Pallain and Reinach, in fact,
exercised the functions, because Gambetta fell before Gerard arrived.
Gerard is now (1909) an Ambassador.'

Just before Dilke's visit to Gambetta in the spring of 1877 another
indication of his popularity in France occurred. 'Gavard had come to me
from the French Embassy to ask me whether I should like to go to Paris
with Sir Louis Mallet to arrange a new French Treaty, as "his Government
would like me."' The proposal fell through. As Sir Charles said, 'the
Government could not well, I think, have sent two Liberals at the head of
the Commission.' Mallet

'was a very experienced official, not, however, very successful at the
Board of Trade, and greatly given to grumble and growl. He held the
mildly reciprocitarian views in which he followed Mill and expanded
Cobden's opinions, and was thought by us to be the author of the
_Letters of a Disciple of Richard Cobden_, the circulation of which by
the Cobden Club, at his own request, nearly destroyed that
institution. He afterwards left the Board of Trade for the India
Office, where he became permanent Under-Secretary of State, on which
occasion Grant Duff said, "Mallet will be happy now. He will have
_two_ worlds to despair of;" for he generally began each sentence with
the words, "I despair," uttered in a deep voice.'

On April 10th, 1877, just before the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War,
which seemed as if it might involve all the Great Powers, is this entry of
a dinner with the French Minister:

'Went to dine with Gavard, meeting his second and third secretaries,
the Italian first secretary, the Dutch Minister (Baron de Bylandt),
the Belgian Minister (Solvyns), and "The Viper" (alias Abraham
Hayward, Q.C.). Cypher telegrams poured in all through dinner, and
portended no good to the peace of Europe. It was, however, a pleasant
dinner, in which Hayward and Solvyns had most of the talk to
themselves, but made it good talk. Gavard was afterwards accused by
the Republican party of having conspired against them, which for his
friends seemed always to be a statement in the nature of a joke. I
once asked Gambetta if he seriously believed that Gavard had
conspired, at which Gambetta shook with laughter in his jovial way,
but added that it was absolutely necessary to pretend he had, for
other people had conspired in the Embassy, and the head man (in the
absence of an Ambassador) must be held responsible in such a case.'

Another diplomatist whom Sir Charles met in the same month was the Comte
de Montgelas, first secretary to the Austrian Embassy:

'... A man who played a great part at this time, belonging to a
Bavarian family which had furnished a distinguished politician to the
Congress of Vienna. He went everywhere, knew everyone, was clever,
showy, talkative; but after being one of the leading exponents of the
Beaconsfield policy, he was suddenly dismissed by his Government, ...
and when, many years afterwards, I again saw him, he had become a
servant of the British North Borneo Company. I believe he was too
friendly to Bismarck to please Beust (then Austrian Ambassador in

He tells also the story of a 'King-maker':

'The Portuguese Minister in 1876 was the old Duc de Saldanha. This was
the man who some years previously, at the age of eighty, being
dissatisfied with the state of things in Lisbon, had taken the steamer
from Southampton, and, though he was at the time Minister in London,
landed at Lisbon, put himself at the head of the Guards, marched on
the palace, locked up the King, turned out the Ministers, put in his
friends, released the King, and returned by the next steamer to his

Here too is gossip from Berlin:

'On June 15th, 1877, I breakfasted with Goschen to meet Lord Odo
Russell, who was most amusing. He told us that, Bismarck being ill,
the Chancellor's temper was so bad as to make him "impossible for his
family, his subordinates, and even his Sovereign." He said that
Bismarck hates the Empress Augusta with so deadly a hatred as to have
lately said to him: "I am not Foreign Secretary. My master's Foreign
Secretary is the Empress, whose Foreign Secretary is the French
Ambassador, whose Foreign Secretary is the General of the Jesuits."...

'At this time General Grant came to London, and, as I had known him at
Washington and he had liked me there, I had to go about a good deal to
meet him at his wish, and he also dined with me on June 10th, when I
invited him to choose his own party. He knew, however, so few men in
London that I had to suggest men to him, and asked him whether he
would like to meet Butt as the leader of the Irish party. He said he
should, but was very silent all through dinner and until he had begun
the second of two big cigars. Then, as usual with him, he began to
thaw under the influence of tobacco, and whispered to me--when Butt
was talking very pleasantly under the influence of something besides
tobacco, and with his enormous, perfectly round face assuming, as it
always did after dinner, the appearance of the harvest moon--"Is he a
Papist?" to which I replied "No"; whereupon Grant became friendly to
him. General Grant's chief weakness, unless that position be assigned
to his cigars, was his detestation of the Roman Catholics.'

Many political personages are sketched in passing reference. Here is
Roebuck, who in his fierce prime had been known as 'Tear 'em':

'The famous orator and Radical of past days was now a little,
shrivelled-up old man, but he was still able to play a great part in
the House of Commons, although entirely decayed in mind. His vinegary
hatred of Mr. Gladstone, and of the Liberal party generally, uttered
from the Liberal side in a piercing treble, was destined to be cheered
to the echo for a short time from the Tory benches, and Roebuck, later
than this, saw himself made a Privy Councillor by Lord Beaconsfield.'

In January, 1877, is this reference to a force of the future:

'Randolph Churchill and Drummond Wolff to dinner; amusing in the style
of Robert Macaire and his man.'

Among more disciplined sections of the Tory party Sir Charles had many
friends. One of them, a social figure of great charm and distinction, was
Lord Barrington,

'who used, when Mr. Disraeli was leader of the House of Commons, to
keep for him the notes which have to be kept by the Prime Minister for
the Queen.... Barrington showed me his one night; it began: "Lord
Barrington presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and begs to
inform your Majesty that..." The Queen in no way showed her
favouritism to Mr. Disraeli more than in excusing him from the
performance of this tiresome duty, which, however, had the one
advantage of giving Mr. Gladstone in his administration something
quiet to do during exciting divisions such as those on Bradlaugh....

'Lady Waldegrave pressed me to go to Strawberry Hill on a particular
Saturday in the month--the only one, I think, on which, as a fact, I
did not go--to meet the Prince of Wales, but as she playfully took me
to task at the same time for not attending levees, I connected the two
things, and thought she had been asked to speak to me, and declined. I
told her that I had left off going to levees in 1865, before I left
Cambridge, for no reason except that they bored me; and that if I were
suddenly to go, people would think that I had changed my views, and
wished it to be known that I had changed them, for they thought that
my not going was connected with my opinions, which, however, it was

There is a note early in this year:

'I was engaged at this moment on an attempt to form a circle of
friends who would be superior, from the existence with them of a
standpoint, to the mere ordinary political world, and I began doing my
best to meet frequently those whom I most liked--John Morley, Dillwyn,
Leonard Courtney, and Fitzmaurice, prominently among the politicians;
and Burton (Director of the National Gallery), Minto, and Joseph
Knight, prominently among the artists and men of letters. All these
were men with something noble in their natures, or something delicate
and beautiful, full of sterling qualities.'

Minto was the well-known man of letters. Joseph Knight, for many years
dramatic critic of the Athenaeum, and, later, editor of _Notes and
Queries_, was perhaps the best known and most beloved of Bohemians, a
pillar of the Garrick Club, and one of the men to whose tongue came
ceaselessly apt and unexpected quotations from Shakespeare. He had the
same passion as old Mr. Dilke for accumulating books, and like him, too,
was a living catalogue to his own library, or libraries, for he
accumulated and sold two in his lifetime.

Another man of letters needs no introduction:

'A wreck of glasses attests the presence of Swinburne. He compared
himself to Dante; repeatedly named himself with Shelley and Dante, to
the exclusion of all other poets; assured me that he was a great man
only because he had been properly flogged at Eton, the last time for
reading _The Scarlet Letter_ when he should have been reading Greek;
confessed to never having read Helvetius, though he talked of Diderot
and Rousseau, and finally informed me that two glasses of green
Chartreuse were a perfect antidote to one of yellow, or two of yellow
to one of green. It was immediately after this that Theodore Watts-
Dunton took charge of him and reduced him to absolute respectability.'

Sir Charles tells stories of a remarkable political and literary

'Lord Houghton's anecdotes were rendered good by the remarkable people
that he had known.... He once about this time said to me: "I have
known everyone in the present century that was worth knowing." With a
little doubt in my mind, I murmured, "Napoleon Bonaparte?" "I was
taken to Elba when I was a boy," said Houghton instantly. I thought
his recollections of the first Emperor apocryphal. There was, however,
a chance that the father--who was in Italy--did take the child to

Another story, of which Lord Houghton was not the narrator, but the
subject, came to Sir Charles during a party at Lady Pollock's, and
concerned the dinner which had preceded the party.

'It had been at seven o'clock in honour of Tennyson, who would not
dine at any other hour, and Tennyson sat on one side of the hostess,
and Lord Houghton on the other; and the latter was cross at being made
to dine at 7, preferring to dine at 8.30, and sup, after dinner, at
11. The conversation turned on a poem which had been written by
Tennyson in his youth, and Tennyson observed "I have not even a copy
myself--no one has it." To which Lord Houghton answered: "I have one.
I have copies of all the rubbish you ever wrote."--A pause.--"When you
are dead I mean to publish them all. It will make my fortune and
destroy your reputation." After this Tennyson was heard to murmur,
"Beast!" It must have been a real pleasure to him to find himself
survive his brother poet.

'On the same evening I heard a story (probably a well-known one, but
certainly good) of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon's body; how the
Government of the day wrote to the Duke to tell him they had agreed to
let the French transport the corpse from St. Helena, the Duke being in
Opposition at the time; how the answer ran: "F.-M. the Duke of
Wellington presents his compliments to H.M.'s Ministers. If they wish
to know F.-M. the Duke of Wellington's opinion as on a matter of
public policy, he must decline to give one. If, however, they wish
only to consult him as a private individual, F.-M. the Duke of
Wellington has no hesitation in saying that he does not care one
twopenny damn what becomes of the ashes of Napoleon Buonaparte."'

Sir Charles had always many friends among artists, and his weekly visit to
the National Gallery was rarely intermitted by him even when in office. To
the end of his life he maintained the habit of going there whenever he
could make time, and always inspecting each new purchase. He kept in
touch, too, regularly with the art of his own day, and records his sight
of the first exhibition in the still unfinished Grosvenor Gallery. The
exhibition did not please him as a whole, though he admired not only
Burne-Jones's "Days of Creation," but a picture called "Passing Days,"
also allegorical, the work of Burne-Jones's disciple, Mr. Strudwick. His
taste in art was always personal; Velasquez, the painters' painter, made
no appeal to him. He worshipped Perugino and Bellini, rating "The Doge"
among the masterpieces of the world; while Raphael had for him degenerated
from his master's (Perugino's) perfection into mere expressionless beauty.
His appreciations were made with great force and originality, and an old
Academician who had accompanied him round galleries once said to the
second Lady Dilke (herself a most authoritative judge of painting): "It is
always interesting to see what a man like that will admire."

Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Charles's frequent guest at 76, Sloane Street, was
usually his companion in picture-seeing. It is also recorded that in the
spring of this year Dilke took his friend, 'at an unearthly hour for one
of his lazy habits,' to see the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race.

In the matter of music his preferences were no less emphatic, as witness
this entry:

'On May 29th I dined with a sister of Edward Levy Lawson, married to a
German who was Rubinstein's great friend; and not only Rubinstein, but
Joachim, played to the guests. Mrs. Bourke, a sister-in-law of Lord
Mayo, was always asked everywhere in London where Joachim was meant to
play, inasmuch as she was his favourite accompanist among amateurs.
The modesty of the great man led him after dinner, once when I was
dining with the Mitfords, when he knew that his time had come, to turn
to Mrs. Bourke, who was famous only as shining in his reflected light,
and say: "Mrs. Bourke, won't you play us something, and I will just
come in with my fiddle?" Rubinstein's playing I never liked. To me he
seemed only the most violent of all the piano-bangers of the world;
but he was literally worshipped by his admirers, and was grand to look
at--as fine as Beethoven must have been.'

Early in March of this year occurred the death of George Odger. The
working class of London decided to show their great respect by giving him
such a funeral ceremony as is rare in England, and Sir Charles walked
bareheaded through the streets with the great procession that accompanied
the body from the house in High Street, St. Giles's, all the long miles to
Brompton Cemetery.

A shrewd observer of Parliaments wrote of Sir Charles at this time:

"There is no more popular man in the House of Commons than he who
seven years ago" (it was only five) "was hooted and howled at, and was
for many succeeding months the mark of contumely and scorn in all
well-conducted journals."

On this statement Sir Charles's diary affords a commentary:

'At this time (April, 1877) there occurred some discussion between
Chamberlain and me as to what should be our attitude in the event of
the formation of a Liberal Government, and he was willing to accept
office other than Cabinet office, provided that it was office such as
to give him the representation of his department in the House of
Commons. Chamberlain and I found that we could exercise much power
through the Executive Committee of the Liberal Central Association,
which was a new body which at this time managed the whole of the
electoral affairs of the party. It comprised the two Whips _ex-
officio_--the Right Hon. W. P. Adam, and Lord Kensington; and among
the other seven members, Chamberlain and I represented the Radicals,
and communicated with the union of Liberal associations commonly known
as the Birmingham Caucus. Of the others Waddy was there to represent
the Methodists; C. C. Cotes [Footnote: M.P. for Shrewsbury. He was a
Lord of the Treasury and one of the Whips in Mr. Gladstone's second
Government.] and Sir Henry James were there chiefly as amateur whips
fond of electoral work; Lord Frederick Cavendish, to represent his
brother, the leader of the party; and Whitbread, to strengthen the
Whig influence.'

Sir Charles notes here that on June 29th, when he was to second, as usual,
Mr. Trevelyan's annual motion concerning franchise and redistribution, he

'had a conference with Chamberlain on the question whether we could
possibly get together a small knot of young peers to help us in the
House of Lords. Rosebery seemed the only one that we could find worth
thinking of, and we had him to dinner, and went to stay with him, and
generally tried to join forces, but without any very marked effect.'

Dilke and Chamberlain also sounded the Home Rulers to see if they could
find any basis of co-operation; and about this date Sir Charles, with Lord
and Lady Francis Conyngham and Butt, and 'in their sitting-room, full of
perennial clouds of smoke,' where a captive nightingale sang ('thinking
the gas the moon unless he took Butt's face for that luminary of the
heavens'), settled with the Irish leader that in following years they
should amend Mr. Trevelyan's franchise resolution by moving for the
extension of the franchise in counties throughout the United Kingdom; not
even Radicals had previously proposed to enlarge the electorate in

But in these days the Irish party were beginning to apply and develop that
use of Parliamentary forms for obstructive purposes which had been first
systematically attempted by the "Colonels" in opposition to Mr. Cardwell's
Bill for abolishing purchase in the Army, and Liberals were a little
scandalized by their allies. In the close of July Sir John Lubbock, then a
Liberal, 'foreshadowed his future Unionism by observing that "the
obstructive Irish were the Bashi Bazouks, who did more harm to us by their
atrocities than good by their fighting."' A couple of days later, when
Liberals supported an Irish amendment, Dilke himself agreed with Mr.
Rylands's pun that "they would have had a bigger vote if it hadn't been
Biggar." Upon this matter Sir Charles's attitude was naturally affected by
that of Butt, in whose company he delighted. The great advocate believed
in his own power to effect by eloquence and reasoned argument that change
of mind in the British House of Commons which five-and-twenty years'
experience of Ireland had wrought in himself since the days when he
opposed O'Connell on Repeal, and this led him to resent the methods of
unreason. Mr. Parnell, who never believed that England was open to reason
in the matter of Ireland, was only beginning to impress his personality on
the House; there is but one incidental mention of his name in the Memoir
for 1877.

But notwithstanding all the claims of home politics, in Sir Charles's
judgment every statesman had, under existing conditions, to study the
details of modern warfare, and he kept closely in touch with naval

'On February 24th I suddenly went down to Portsmouth to go over the
dockyard and see the ships building there, taking letters from
Childers and from Sir Edward Reed to Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock,
the Arctic explorer (Superintendent), and to Mr. Robinson, the Chief
Constructor. I went over the _Inflexible_, the _Thunderer_, and the
_Glatton_, which were lighted up for me. Noting the number of sets of
engines, and the number of the separate watertight compartments of the
_Inflexible_, I wrote: "All these extremely complicated arrangements
are handed over to a captain, of whom ... is a favourable example, and
to engineers who are denied their due rank in command."'

Nearly thirty years later the necessary reform which the last words
indicate was carried out by Lord Fisher.



At the beginning of 1878 Parliament was summoned a month earlier than
usual to tranquillize public feeling--a result not thereby attained, for
the Russians, now completely victorious, were but a short distance from

Sir Charles returned from Toulon, 'breakfasting with Gambetta on the 14th
January,' and on the 15th delivered to his constituents the speech already
quoted, which gave a summary of the events leading up to the war, his
judgment of the facts as they existed at the time of his speaking being
that the Government's whole policy was "isolated, undignified,
inconsistent, unsafe." [Footnote: See p. 205]

"We stand alone, absolutely alone, in face of terms of peace which we
dislike, but can't resist. Turkey is crushed, about whose integrity
the Tory party raved. Russian influence will have risen and English
influence fallen in the East. Greece, the anti-Russian friend of
England, is not to gain. Servia and Montenegro, the tools of Russia,
are to be rewarded. Bulgaria is to owe its freedom, not to Europe, but
to Russia."

So much was accomplished fact. It had still to be decided how much farther
Russia should be allowed to push her advantage. Upon this he said,
speaking "as a European Liberal,"

'I agree with what the first Napoleon said, in those St. Helena days
when he was acting Liberalism for the benefit of his historic
character and of his line, that "it is necessary to set up a
guaranteed kingdom, formed of Constantinople and its provinces, to
serve as a barrier against Russia." The open question for discussion
is whether the present Turkey serves the purpose....

'Were the choice between Russia at Constantinople and Turkey at
Constantinople, I should prefer the latter. The Turkish is in ordinary
times a less stifling despotism than the Russian....

'The Turks let any man go to any church and read any book, the
Russians do not, and in such a position of power as Constantinople I
should prefer the Turk if, as I do not think, the choice lay only

Where else, then, did the choice lie? The answer is that Dilke, in his own
words, "dreamed of a new Greece." He spoke of the lands then blighted by
the Sultan's Government--of "rose-clad Roumelia and glorious Crete"--of
countries held back by Turkish incompetence, that were by Nature
incredibly rich--"the choicest parts of Europe, perhaps of the world."

"The Greek kingdom is a failure, we are told. Greece, liberated by the
wise foresight of Mr. Canning, but left, on his ill-timed death,
without Thessaly, Epirus, Crete, has been starved and shorn by the
Great Powers. As once said Lafayette, "the greater part of Greece was
left out of Greece." What kind of Greece is a Greece which does not
include Lemnos, Lesbos, or Mitylene, Chios, Mount Olympus, Mount Ossa,
and Mount Athos? Not only the larger part, but the most Greek part of
Greece, was omitted from the Hellenic kingdom. Crete and the other
islands, the coast of Thrace, and the Greek colony at Constantinople,
are the Greek Greece indeed, for Continental Greece within the limits
of the kingdom is by race half Slav and half Albanian. We must not,
however, attach too much importance to this fact, for in all times the
Greeks have been a little people, grafting themselves on to various
barbaric stocks. Race is a small thing by the side of national spirit,
and in national spirit the Greeks are as little Slav as the Italians
are Teutonic. Even the corrupting influence of long slavery--and it
was deep indeed--had not touched this spirit, and the very thieves and
robbers of the hills of Greece made for themselves in Byron's days a
glorious name in history. I do not think that Greece has failed. I
believe in Greece, believe In the ultimate replacement of the Turkish
State by powerful and progressive Greece, attached in friendship to
France and England, her creators--an outpost of Western Europe in the
East; and I think the day will come when even Homer's city may once
more be Greek. Those who do not wish to see Slavonic claims pushed
much farther than justice needs should speak their word on behalf of

From this ideal he never swerved, and the authority which he possessed in
European politics helped to keep it present before the mind of Europe.
Greece knew her friend, and after his death the Municipality of Athens
gave his name--_hodos Dilke_--to a fine street in the true mother city of
Hellas. [Footnote: "The name of Sir Charles Dilke is more highly prized in
Greece than that of any living Englishman," wrote M. Zinopoulos, General
Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior in Greece. "This feeling still
survived in 1887, when we went to Athens," adds Sir Charles's note.] He
never lived to see Hellenic government extend itself over Turkish fiefs,
except in that poor strip of northern territory which, thanks greatly to
his exertions, was secured for Greece in 1881. But before this memorial of
him could be completed, while those who worked on it were still searching
among his papers to reconstitute the projects he had shaped, came the
realization of some of his premonitions, and the end of Turkish sway in
"the most Greek parts of Greece."

'It was a good speech so far as concerned the position of Russia, of
Turkey, and of the Opposition, and in its protest against Manchester
Doctrine and in favour of a broader view of foreign policy, but it
proposed the annexation of Egypt, a view from which I soon afterwards
drew back, and which I did not hold at the time at which it became
popular some years later on.'

Upon the main issue which in 1878 lay before the mind of Europe, he was
for a partition of the Turkish Empire, though upon condition of keeping
Constantinople secured to the Turk. But as to the question of England's
going to war, he asked:

"For what are we to fight? Against an extension of Russian boundaries
in Armenia which will be slight, and which, if it were great, would be
better met by an even greater extension of English territories in
Egypt? Against 'the passage of the Dardanelles'--which means in time
of war its passage if Russia can--a passage which Russia would equally
attempt if she could, but had not the right. Against this we are to
fight without allies. Again, let us pray for peace. I will not
describe what war must mean--your sons and daughters killed, or lying
crippled amid horrors worse than death; the proceeds of your toil
wrung from you by new taxes; the dearness of your children's bread. I
have seen too much of war. ... No tongue can depict its horrors. ...
It is said that the constituencies are warlike, and that party wire-
pullers think that war would be "a good card to play." I hope and
believe that English constituencies would be warlike if real honour
and real interests were at stake. If they are warlike now, it is that
they know not war. Are those for war who know its face? ... The day
may come when England will have to fight for her existence, but for
Heaven's sake let us not commit the folly of plunging into war at a
moment when all Europe would be hostile to our arms--not one Power
allied to the English cause."

It seemed as if that folly were to be committed. When Parliament opened in
January, a declaration of war was foreshadowed by the hint of a demand for
funds to make "adequate preparation against some unexpected occurrence."

Nor was there any steady rallying point offered by the Opposition:

'January 17th was the day of the meeting of the House, the Radical
Club Dinner having replaced our private Queen's Speech Dinner of 1877.
But the disorganization of the Liberal party at this moment was so
complete that no Front Bench party was given on the night before
Parliament met, and Liberal politicians, or such of them as were
asked, had had to do their best to talk at a Tory house--Lady
Stanhope's in Grosvenor Place--where I met Harcourt and some of the
others. The situation in the debate on the Address was one which ought
to have led to successful attack upon the Government. The Queen's
Speech was neither of war nor of peace, but of perplexity and
division, and gravely informed us that poor Turkey had not interfered
with British interests. The discourses of the Ministers were peaceful
in the Lower House, and warlike in the Upper. Money was to be asked
for in the event of an "unexpected occurrence" happening.'

'Nothing, however, was made of the situation by the Opposition, and I
felt more interest therefore for the moment in my proposed political
reforms, in which I was on the point of a partial success, [Footnote:
'I introduced my two Bills of the previous year--both destined this
year to pass, though one of them after amalgamation with a
Conservative Bill--my Hours of Polling Bill and my Registration Bill.
I moved for my return, intended to facilitate my action in the
direction of redistribution, and got my Select Committee promised
me.'] and sheered off from the Eastern Question, with regard to which
I felt that in Parliament at the moment I could do no good.'

The speech to his constituents had attracted much attention. Among the
personal congratulations which he received he valued most highly those of
a great diplomatist and friend, 'high praise from Sir William White.'
[Footnote: Sir William White (1821-1891): February 27th, 1875, British
Agent and Consul-General in Servia; March 3rd, 1879, Envoy Extraordinary
and Minister Plenipotentiary at Bucharest, Roumania; April 18th, 1885,
Envoy Extraordinary at Constantinople; October 11th, 1886, Special
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Constantinople.] On
January 17th he 'received a deputation of London merchants with regard to
the Black Sea blockade.'

'On Friday the 18th I dined at Lady Waldegrave's to meet the old
Strawberry Hill set--the Duke of Argyll, the Duchess of Manchester,
Lord and Lady Granville, Harcourt, James, Ayrton, Lord William Hay,
and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hughes--and some people came in after dinner, of
whom Sir J. Rose and his daughter (Mrs. Stanley Clarke) warmly
congratulated me on my speech. There was a discussion between the
Liberals and the Duchess of Manchester, who was in both camps, and Sir
John Rose, who as a financier was the same, as to the reasons for Lord
Carnarvon's absence from Lord Beaconsfield's Queen's Speech Dinner,
but we could not get farther than to learn that "Dizzy had made it
unpleasant for him. ..." [Footnote: 'Another matter as to which I was
personally interested, though the others seemed hardly to have heard
of it, was a communication which had been made to France about Egypt
with regard to joint inquiry into the state of finances, a
communication all but volunteered by us, and not, I thought, in the
least necessary, but which was so strong in terms as to appear to shut
the door in the future against any possibility of action on our part
other than joint action with the French.']

'On Saturday the 19th Mr. Gladstone sent Lefevre to me, and asked me
not to raise the case of Greece at present, as he thought that a
combined movement with regard to Greece might soon be made in the
House of Commons with some chance of success.

'On the Sunday Drummond Wolff dined with me, very full of the
intrigues to get rid of Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon from the
Conservative Front Bench, and very hopeful of success, for at this
moment the Conservatives were so angry with their two peaceful men
that they made no secret of their intention to force them out, and
used freely to discuss the situation with the Liberals.

'On January 22nd I started an attempt to get up a Greek Committee, an
attempt which was successful, for our little meeting of this day, of
Fitzmaurice and Lefevre and myself, with the adhesion by letter of
Lansdowne and of Rosebery, led to the private formation of a
Committee, afterwards made public, and much enlarged, of which I made
Lewis Sergeant secretary, and which was able to do much good in the
course of the three next years. ...That night I dined with Mrs. Inwood
Jones (Lady Morgan's niece), and met Mr. and Mrs. Stansfeld, Browning,
Charles Villiers, Lady Hamilton Gordon, and another man whom I will
not name, because I wish to mention that I received from him on that
occasion a document relating to Greek affairs, from which I was
afterwards able to show how badly our Government had treated Greece,
but the origin of which I ought not to reveal.

'On January 23rd Evelyn Ashley, Chamberlain, and I had a meeting with
regard to Greek matters, at which we drew up the public declaration to
be made on behalf of the friends of Greece.

'On the next day, January 24th, a good many startling events occurred.
A War Ministry was formed at Athens; the vote of money was announced
in the British Parliament. Lord Carnarvon resigned in the morning, and
Lord Derby at night; but Lord Derby's resignation was for a time

In 'the great debate' on Mr. Forster's motion against the vote of six
millions sterling for 'adequate preparation'--a debate which opened on
January 31st, and was prolonged to the second week in February--Sir
Charles took part on the fourth day. Great interest attaches to this
speech in view of all his later work:

'I pointed out that we spend normally on defence or war far more than
any other Power: at that time twenty-five millions sterling at home
and seventeen millions in India, or forty-two millions in all, swelled
in that year by the extraordinary vote to forty-eight millions, while
France and Germany spent much less. I was to return to this subject
after many years, and when I wrote upon it in 1890, while the Indian
expenditure stood at the same sum, the annual expenditure in England
had risen to over thirty-eight millions, making the whole fifty-five,
and with the rest of the Empire nearly fifty-seven millions sterling.'

A side-note adds: 'It is now (1905) vastly greater.'

As he was the first non-military politician to devote himself to the
question of defence and to call public attention to the subject, so this
question of wasteful expenditure always occupied his attention. He laid
stress on the inadequate return received for naval and military outlay,
not only on the popular ground that money was thus deflected from projects
of internal reform, but pre-eminently because the nation in time of peace
resents heavy defence expenditure, and he feared that the necessary money
might not be forthcoming for that naval equipment which he held to be
essential to our existence as a Great Power.

But the main burden of his complaint was that now when a Conference was
proposed, and when England ought to have gone into the Conference with all
the weight of a unanimous people, the bringing forward of a "sham war
vote," which was a contradiction of the alleged desire to negotiate, had
produced inevitable division of counsels. Before the debate closed came
the rumour of an occupation of Constantinople by the Russians, and under
the belief that the war vote might be needed in good earnest, Mr.
Forster's motion was withdrawn.

'On February 6th ... I dined with Lady Brett and went on to Mrs.
Brand's, and at the Speaker's House heard that the Russians had
occupied a fort in the Constantinople lines. This lie got out the next
day, and was universally believed; and after a panic in the City,
Hartington decided, also in a panic, to make W. E. Forster drop the
resolutions which he had brought forward at Hartington's request.
Hartington saw me, and told me this behind the Speaker's chair before
questions. Within an hour after the withdrawal of the resolutions had
been mentioned in the House the whole story had been blown into the
air by the Russian Ambassador.'

At this period Sir Charles Dilke had entered into relations with Lord
Randolph Churchill, who was virtually against the policy of the Government
and yet 'open-mouthed in his general dislike of Lord Derby and Lord
Carnarvon, though in complete agreement with their principles.' The Fourth
Party did not yet exist. Nor was it in this Parliament that Lord Randolph
achieved ascendancy.

'As late as the autumn of 1880 Lord Beaconsfield was to style Randolph
"only Dilke and water"; but had he lived for another twelvemonth
longer he would not have used this language, for Churchill had then
developed a very different "Moloch of Midlothian" style, and had made
himself through his party a greater power than I ever was.'

The attempt to concert action between independent Tory and independent
Radical began after the great scare of February 6th. [Footnote: This
correspondence was placed at Mr. Winston Churchill's disposal by Sir
Charles Dilke, and used by him in the _Life of Lord Randolph Churchill._
Sir Stafford Northcote was leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor
of the Exchequer.]

'On February 7th negotiations between Randolph Churchill and myself
began as to moving an address to the Crown praying that the objects
with which England should enter any Conference that might be held,
should be European and civilized rather than pro-Turkish. On this day
he wrote to me:


'"As I suppose this debate will come to a close with an enormous and
disproportionate majority for the Government, and as I think the
Opposition have made their stand on an unfortunate ground, and that
another fight might yet be fought with far greater chances of
commanding sympathy in the country, I want to know whether, if an
address to the Crown praying Her Majesty to use her influence at the
Conference in favour of the widest possible freedom to Bulgaria,
Bosnia, Herzegovina, Thessaly, and Epirus, and in favour of totally
and finally putting an end to all direct Turkish Government in these
provinces, was moved by me on the Tory side of the House, it would be
supported by the Liberal party. I think I could almost make sure of a
strong Home Rule vote on this. I think some Conservatives would
support it. If Northcote does not give some very clear intimation of
what is going to be the policy of the Government, I think a motion of
this sort should be made on the Report. The real cry for the country
is not sympathy with Russia, still less with Turkey, but complete
freedom for the Slav and Hellenic nationalities. I am off to Ireland
to-night. I don't care enough for the Government to vote for them. ...
I shall see Butt in Dublin, and shall sound him on what I have written
to you. My address is Phoenix Park, Dublin. Please excuse this lone

'"Yours truly,


'The reference to Butt is curious, and the address of "Phoenix Park,"
for Lord Randolph was at this time private secretary to his father,
who was Viceroy of Ireland, and was living in the Viceregal Lodge,
which, of course, is in the Phoenix Park. How far the Duke of
Marlborough was cognizant of the intrigues between his son and the
Irish I never knew, but at one time relations were very close."
[Footnote: Sir John Gorst read this chapter in 1913 and wrote:

"With Randolph's negotiations with the Irish at this time I had
nothing to do. I was not cognizant of them; I never acted with R.
before 1880.

"So far as I knew, the alliance between the Fourth Party and the Irish
leader arose in this way: In the 1880 Parliament Parnell had not
enough men to move an adjournment of the House--in those days the most
effective form of obstruction. Forty members must stand up. On one
occasion after 1880, P., wanting to move an adjournment, sought an
interview with us--Balfour may or may not have been present. He stated
his case, and we replied that the matter was a proper case for an
adjournment, and we and those we could influence would stand up in
support. He thanked us and was leaving the room, when R., twirling his
moustache, said: 'I suppose, Mr. Parnell, that in cases of this kind
there will be a little reciprocity.' After that, when we moved
adjournments, the Parnellite members always stood up for us.--J. E.

'On February 8th Lord Randolph wrote:



'"Many thanks for your two letters. As you say, things remain in such
an uncertain state nothing can be done. The Government have too great
an advantage, but I think if we are led into taking any decisive steps
hostile to Russia, a great effort should be made for an authoritative
declaration that the ultimate aim and object of any move on our part
is the complete freedom and independence of the Slav nationality, as
opposed to any reconstruction of the Turkish Empire. This I am sure
should be the line for the Liberal party, and not the peace-at-any-
price cry which it is evident the country won't have. In this I shall
be ready to co-operate heartily as far as my poor efforts can be any
good. It is just possible that if any movement of this kind be made it
would be better for it to originate from the Conservative side of the
House. I regret to see so much excitement getting up among the masses.
It is dangerous matter for Beaconsfield to work on. Would you think me
very foolish or visionary if I say that I look for a republican form
of Government for Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, as far more to be
preferred than some German, Russian, or other Prince set up as a
puppet under the name of constitutional monarchy? Perhaps if these
ideas seem at all to your liking, and if you think they would command
the support of the Liberal party, you would advise me what appeared to
you the most favourable moment for bringing them forward. I shall have
some conversation with Butt, and have great hope of securing a solid
Irish vote on any proposition which might seem to favour the self-
government of nationalities.

'"Yours truly,

'"_February 8th_.

'A few days later Lord Randolph telegraphed to me from Careysville,
Fermoy: "I shall be in London Monday morning. Am not ambitious of
taking any prominent part unless it might contribute to the advantage
of ideas which I think we have in common that a motion should be made
from my side of the House. I leave it absolutely to your judgment."

'On this telegram I wrote to Lord Granville, who replied, dating his
letter "September 13th" by mistake for February 13th:



'"Such a motion as Lord R. C. proposes, supported by a certain number
of Conservatives, might be well worth consideration. But I doubt his
getting any Conservative support, and a contingent of Home Rulers
would hardly justify us in making another attack upon Plevna just yet,
with the probable alternative of either a crushing defeat or a second
withdrawal in face of the enemy. I gather that you are doubtful. What
did Hartington think?

'"Yours sincerely,


'"If R. Churchill could give you evidence on which you felt you _could
rely_ that he would have real Conservative support, the case would be

'Hartington thought nothing, merely recommended acceptance of Lord
Granville's advice. Lord Granville's mistake in date was
characteristic, for, while a most able man who did not, in my opinion,
decline in intellectual vigour during the many years in which he took
a great part in public affairs, he always had the habit of
substitution of words, and I have known him carry on a long
conversation with me at the Foreign Office about the proceedings of
two Ambassadors who were engaged on the opposite sides in a great
negotiation, and call A "B," and B "A," through the whole of it, which
was, to say the least, confusing. He also sometimes entirely forgot
the principal name in connection with the subject, as, for example,
that of Mr. Gladstone when Prime Minister, and had to resort to the
most extraordinary forms of language in order to convey his meaning.

'Randolph wrote after his telegram from a fishing lodge on the Irish


'"I have sent you a telegram which I think you will understand. I am
sure that my views, whatever they are worth, are in accordance with
your speech, and Harcourt's, and Gladstone's, on the question of the
future policy of this country. I am convinced that under the present
circumstances no motion should be unduly hastened on. There is lots of
time. If I was asked to move a resolution my speech would be an attack
on Chaplin, Wolff, and the rest of the Pro-Turkish party, confidence
in the Government and invitation to the Liberal party to act as a
whole. I feel I am awfully young to endeavour to initiate such a line;
but I am so convinced of the soundness of our views that I would risk
a smash willingly to have them properly brought forward. If only your
party would agree as a whole to support a resolution moved from my
side, the Government would only at the best have a majority of 80,
after 190, and that would be a check. I shall see Butt before arriving
in London, and endeavour to make him take up a position upon this
question. The Government are apparently doing their 'level best' to
keep the peace, and perhaps another debate might not be unwelcome to

'"Yours very truly,

'"_February 15th._

'In reply, and in consequence of Lord Granville's suggestion, I
pressed him closely as to who would vote with him, and he wrote:



'"In reply to your letter I shall be over in London on the 26th inst.,
and I think it will be time enough then to make my motion. I should
not like to make it unless it would command the support of a large
number of members. Such support could only come from your side. I
think the Conservative party are gone mad. Their speeches are
calculated to provoke war. As it is so uncertain whether we shall go
to war or to a Conference, I think I had better wait a little, as,
though the motion should, I think, be made in any case, the terms of
it would vary very much according to either alternative.... I know of
no one except Forsyth whom I could ask to ballot for me. If the motion
commanded much support, I should certainly like to press it even to a
division. Cowen's speech (and the vociferous cheers of the C. party)
evidently shows that the idea of the integrity and independence of the
Turkish Empire is still predominant on our side, and against that I
would try to go a great way. I should, of course, be very glad if you
would second any motion of the nature of those sketched.... I send a
sketch of it.

'"Yours very truly,


'"_Draft of Motion._

'"That in view of the extreme sufferings so long undergone by the
Slav, Bulgarian, and Hellenic nationalities of Bosnia, Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Thessaly, and Epirus, and considering that the Turkish rule
over these provinces has now been definitely put an end to, the
efforts of Her Majesty's Government, in the opinion of the House of
Commons, should be principally directed towards the establishment of
the complete freedom and independence of the populations of these

'I have in my diary on Friday the 15th the note: "See Chamberlain as
to Churchill's plan, and say I won't go to a meeting." Evidently I had
seen that Churchill was unsafe.

'When Randolph Churchill came back to town I discovered, or rather he
discovered and told me, that old Walpole, the ex-Home Secretary, was
the only member upon his own side who would even pretend that he would
vote with him, and when it came to the point on one occasion, Walpole
himself said that he should go away.'

Preparations for war were pressed on till, on March 3rd, the signing of
the Treaty of San Stefano, which put an end to Turkish rule in Bulgaria,
seemed to close the crisis. But instantly the trouble broke out again. The
British Government claimed that this new treaty, since it altered the
European settlement ratified in 1856 by the Treaty of Paris, must be
submitted to and endorsed by a Congress of the Powers. Russia declined to
be thus bound, and a new crisis arose in which Lord Derby, who had
withdrawn his previous resignation, now finally gave up the Secretaryship
of Foreign Affairs, being succeeded by Lord Salisbury.

In 1881 Sir Charles, while Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, became
aware that Lord Derby's retention of office after his first resignation
had been little more than nominal. He says in the Memoir for that year:

'In the course of my researches among the Tunis papers I discovered
the curious fact that in February and March, 1878, foreign affairs
were being conducted by a committee of the Cabinet, consisting of Lord
Beaconsfield, Lord Cairns, and Lord Salisbury, and that Lord Derby,
the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was virtually shelved for
the whole period. At this moment Lord Beaconsfield proposed the
creation of a Mediterranean league for the maintenance of the _status
quo_ in the Mediterranean: England, France, Italy, and Greece to be
first consulted, and Austria to come in afterwards if she pleased.
Italy declining, the scheme collapsed. Foolish Italy!'

While in Parliament the Tory party was ridding itself of its 'peace men,'
party feeling out of doors ran to unusual heights. These were the days
when a music-hall song added a word to the political vocabulary, and the
"jingo" crowd signalized its patriotism by wrecking Mr. Gladstone's
windows at 73, Harley Street, where he went to live after his retirement
from the Liberal leadership.

'On Sunday, March 10th, in coming back from the Grosvenor Gallery, I
passed a great mob, who were going to howl at Mr. Gladstone--at this time
the ordinary Sunday afternoon diversion of the London rough.'

Schouvalof, the Russian Ambassador, had on March 4th summed up the
situation in an epigram: "England has challenged Russia to a duel, and has
chosen for her weapon swords at fifteen paces" (_l'epee a quinze pas_).
But the preparations for this combat were menacing.

'On March 29th the Eastern Question blazed up again with Lord Derby's
resignation, the discussion of which enlivened a party at Lady
Waldegrave's, there being before us a Queen's Message alleging the
existence of imminent national danger and great emergency as a reason
for calling out the reserves. On Saturday the 30th Trevelyan ...
informed me of a resolution which had been prepared by Lubbock on
behalf of those Whigs who had not gone with Gladstone, but wished to
make some movement of their own. Later in the evening I saw Childers,
who proposed a better motion in the form of an addition to the Message
in the sense of a strong desire for peace. The object of both
suggestions, of course, was by a moderate middle course to prevent a
division for and against the Message in which Gladstone and Bright and
eighty others would vote No, while eighty would follow Hartington in
voting Yes, and the majority of the party run away, thus destroying
the Liberal party, as it was destroyed in the time of Pitt and the war
with France. Later, again, in the evening I saw Montgelas (who told me
that Russia had held different language to Austria and to England, and
that she had drawn back and did not mean war) [Footnote: 'On February
9th I went to a party at the Austrian Embassy "to meet the Archduke
Rudolf." Beust was gone away and Montgelas was host. ... On February
12th I met again the Crown Prince of Austria.'] and Randolph
Churchill, who made an appointment to come to me on Sunday about the
papers, which he agreed with me in thinking damaging to the
Government, and full of evidence of their total isolation. When he
came, we decided only that the Government ought to be asked for
further papers.'

This demand Sir Charles accordingly made on April 1st. His position was at
this point extremely difficult. He was not prepared to acquiesce in the
aggrandisement of Russia, and therefore could not go with his habitual
associates, who had formed a Committee upon the Eastern Question. On the
other hand, he was determined to join with them in opposing the calling
out of the reserves, because this step implied that England would go to
war alone, and he did not believe either that England was likely to do so,
or that she ought, as a member of the European Concert, to take such a

'There was a moment after the fall of Lord Derby when I became a
supporter of the Government in their Eastern policy, for they appeared
to me to adopt my own, but it did not last long. "Lord Salisbury's
circular" (so-called, but written by Lord Cairns), issued upon the
accession of Lord Salisbury to the Foreign Office, contained the
statement of this policy. ... Speaking in the House on April 9th ...,
I repudiated the defence which came from some on the Liberal side, of
the conduct of Russia, and, looking upon the Government despatch as a
vindication primarily of general European interests, and, in the
second place, of Hellenic interests, against Russian violence and
universal Slav dominion throughout the Levant, I separated myself from
my party and praised the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. I was
afterwards bitterly disappointed at finding the policy of the April
circular abandoned by its authors in the Congress of Berlin. ...

'On April 4th Gennadius, the Greek Charge d'Affaires (afterwards
Minister), the American Minister, Matthew Arnold, W. E. Forster, Grant
Duff, Lubbock, George Sheffield (Lord Lyons' factotum), Tom Hughes,
and my old friend Sir David Wedderburn dined with me. And in this Whig
and Hellenic party a general agreement with my views was met with; but
the same was not the case amongst my brother Radicals of "Mr.
Dillwyn's Committee upon the Eastern Question."'

This Radical organization got into difficulties of its own while
contemplating a motion to condemn explicitly the calling out of the

'On April 5th Dillwyn's Committee had had before it a letter from Lord
Hartington, saying that Mr. Gladstone on Monday wished to speak next
after Sir Stafford Northcote, and to deprecate the moving of an
amendment. It was in consequence resolved by a majority that no
amendment should be moved. Courtney then said that the intimation of
Mr. Gladstone's opinion had been obtained from him by gross pressure,
and that he himself should move an amendment if no one else did.
Wilfrid Lawson then said that he would move; and there were seven in
favour of an amendment. This broke up the Committee, and on Dillwyn
reporting to Hartington its dissolution, the latter said: "Well, Mr.
Dillwyn, you see it is not so easy to lead."

'On Sunday, April 7th, there dined with me, among others, Hartington,
Harcourt, Goschen, Lord Granville, and Lord Ripon, and we discussed
the position, on which Lord Ripon was far from agreement with me. I
warmly supported to them the Government circular (issued by Lord
Salisbury), as putting British action on European rather than on
British-interests grounds, and only differed from the policy of
calling out the reserves because this was an action of isolation.'

When Sir Wilfrid Lawson's amendment was moved, Sir Charles voted with the
Radical minority of sixty-four against calling out the reserves, but
'differed from every word in which the Radical speakers supported their

The pith of his speech was a powerful plea for allowing Greece to secure
the emancipation of Greek populations, then under a Turkish rule heavy as
that from which Russia claimed to liberate the Slavs of Bulgaria.

So far, the action of the Government had not united the Liberal party in
any concentrated attitude of resistance. But during the Easter recess,
which Sir Charles spent in France, meeting Gambetta, politics took a more
dramatic turn.

'When Parliament adjourned for the holidays, not one word had been
said of an act long previously determined, which was announced the
next day. The fact that Parliament was allowed to learn from the
newspapers that it was intended by the Government for the first time
to employ Indian troops within the European dominions of the Crown in
time of peace, without the previous consent of Parliament, [Footnote:
By despatching 7,000 Sepoys to Malta.] was a singular commentary upon
the Government declaration at the beginning of the Session that
Parliament had been called together at an unusually early date in
order that under circumstances of delicacy the Ministry might have the
advantage of its advice.... Public feeling, I found from Chamberlain,
had gone round a good deal during my absence, and to satisfy the
opinion of our Radicals he was determined to move something. I
suggested to him (on May 6th) a resolution condemning "the policy of
menace and warlike demonstration which has been pursued by the
Government," and expressing the belief "that an honourable and
peaceful settlement of existing difficulties will be best promoted by
their consenting to state frankly the changes in the Treaty of San
Stefano which they consider necessary for the general good of Europe
and the interests of this country."'

But already the Government were in secret negotiation with Russia, and had
entered into an agreement as to the modification of the provisions of the
Treaty of San Stefano. Amongst other changes it was proposed to curtail
the limits of Bulgaria by a division severing South from North, and to
allow Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and the Herzegovina.

'On Tuesday, May 7th, after the Radical Club, at a party at the
Harcourts', I learned what the Government intended to do at the
Conference or Congress--namely, limit Bulgaria on the south by the
Balkans. But I was informed at the same time that they would
themselves propose to give Thessaly and Epirus to Greece, an
undertaking which I think they did give to the King of Greece, but
from which, if so, they afterwards departed. The Greek Patriarch from
Constantinople came over at this time, as did the Armenian Patriarch
shortly afterwards, and I met both, although conversation with these
dignitaries was not easy, for their French was about as feeble as my
Greek; but through Gennadius I, of course, knew the views of the
Greeks, and in the Armenian question I took no special part.'

The question of employing the Indian troops was debated on May 20th. Lord
Hartington opened; and Sir Charles replied to Sir Michael Hicks Beach, who
followed Lord Hartington. Concerning the discussion, he says:

'The technical point which we argued was a narrow one. Had Cyprus been
in Asia, our arguments would not have applied to Cyprus; and it is
very likely that the Government thought Cyprus was in Asia, and did
not like to say that they had made a mistake, and having first ordered
the troops to Cyprus, and then ordered them to Malta (which was
undoubtedly in Europe), had forgotten the distinction. The real
objection to the bringing of the Sepoys was the same as the objection
to the calling out of the reserves--that it was isolated action, and
that these military measures and the expenditure which they involved
were mere bunkum, and mere waste if the Government intended to give
up, as they were secretly telling Russia they did intend to give up,
the main points of dispute. Moreover, Russia could do us hurt in
India, and Indian troops could not touch her at all....

'The Government were said to have only "conquered by giving way," for
they agreed to put the number of men into the Estimate, and thus avoid
making a precedent, according to our contention, absolutely
unconstitutional. On the other hand, Lord Beaconsfield's speech in the
House of Lords was defiant in the extreme, and Holker's [Footnote: The
Attorney-General.] in the Lower House was an assertion of higher
prerogative doctrine than had been heard in Parliament since the days
of Elizabeth.'

'On May 30th I dined with Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, and met Lord
Northbrook (the former Viceroy of India) and his daughter, Lady Emma
Baring, Lord Rosebery, Lord and Lady Napier (he a most distinguished
man, the best of Ambassadors to Russia and the best of Governors of
Madras, too little known),[Footnote: Baron Napier and Ettrick.] Lord
Macduff (afterwards Duke of Fife), and Monty Corry, afterwards Lord
Rowton, Lord Beaconsfield's private secretary.' Corry 'told me what
was at the moment a startling secret--that Lord Beaconsfield was going
to the Congress himself. "Can he speak French?" I asked with wonder,
to which he shook his head.'

On the day after the meeting of the Congress a sensational disclosure
revealed to the world that it met; only to register foregone conclusions.

'At the end of the month (May) the secret agreement was signed with
Russia, and revealed to us by the _Globe_ [Footnote: The Globe
disclosure came from Mr. Marvin, a civil servant in temporary employ.
Dilke noted: "Besides the 'Marvin Memorandum' and an annex, there was
a curious stipulation insisted on by Russia, that the annex should
never be published, even if No. 1--that is, the 'Marvin Memorandum'--
should become public; and this looks very much as though Marvin was
really the Russian Government, which I have always suspected. They had
this to gain by publishing the Memorandum--that they showed themselves
the real victors in the Congress of Berlin, in spite of all our
bluster, and they damaged Lord Beaconsfield, who was their enemy.
Marvin could never have got a copy, and always pretended that he had
learned the whole document by heart, which, considering its length and
the total absence in the copy published in the _Globe_ of the
slightest error, even of punctuation, is incredible. The annex, which
was dated May 31st, only said that the Russians had no intention of
extending their conquests in Asiatic Turkey: 'The Emperor of Russia
... not having the intention of extending Ids conquests in Asia ...
the Imperial Government does not refuse to conclude with the British
Government a secret engagement for the purpose of reassuring it upon
this point.'"] on June 14th; and it then appeared that the military
preparations of the country must have been intended to keep up the
spirits of the Jingoes while their cherished principles were being
sacrificed behind their backs. The _Daily Telegraph_, which was the
Jingo organ, said: "If _such_ a compact has been concluded, this
country has fatally descended from the lofty position occupied by the
Salisbury despatch." Not only was the compact authentic, but there
were two other secret compacts of the same date which did not come
out. What the Government had done was to give up all the points for
which they had made their enthusiastic followers believe that they
would fight, and at the same time in the Anglo-Turkish Convention to
declare that their successors should fight for what was left. This may
have been a prudent policy, but it was not a policy which carried with
it the necessity for bringing Indian troops to Europe or spending
eight or nine millions sterling upon apparent preparations for
immediate war. The third agreement, in addition to the Salisbury-
Schouvalof agreement and the Anglo-Turkish Convention, the first of
which came out by chance and the second of which was ultimately
published by the Government, was an Anglo-Austrian secret agreement
which has never been printed, the character of which is revealed by
the fact that the English plenipotentiaries themselves proposed at
Berlin, in spite of the strong dissent of Turkey, to make to Austria
the gift of Bosnia and Herzegovina.'

To this note, written in 1890, there is added in the margin of the
manuscript: 'There was also a secret supplementary agreement with Russia,
of which later.' And also this: "The compact giving Bosnia and Herzegovina
to Austria is now (1908) known to Lucien Wolf." [Footnote: See Thomas
Erskine Holland, _The European Concert in the Eastern Question_, 292,

Before the Berlin Congress met, Sir Charles had pressed by way of
questions to secure if possible a representation for Greece at the
Congress, and failed; and the speech which he made in the debate (opened
on July 29th) on the Treaty of Berlin was mainly a censure on Great
Britain for having failed to support the Hellenic claims. He dwelt
specially on Crete, the government of which by Turkey was, he said, "a
perpetual menace to European peace."

Replying in the debate for the Liberal party to Mr. David Plunket
(afterwards Lord Rathmore), he notes that he

'spoke, and spoke well, making the best of my debating speeches, but
was overshadowed by one speech which would have caused better speeches
than mine to have been easily forgotten. Mr. Gladstone's speech on
this occasion, like all his speeches, does not read; but it was the
finest that I ever heard him make with one exception--the Bradlaugh
speech in the next Parliament.'




Sir Charles Dilke's first concern was with foreign affairs, but he was
also of high authority in whatever related to the business and management
of the House of Commons; and at this period the question of remodelling
forms which lent themselves to the arts of delay began to be urgent, and
threatened to become paramount. Here, early in 1878, is the first
considerable mention of the man whose relentless use of obstruction has
affected parliamentary procedure all over the world:

'On February 20th I was asked by Lord Hartington to serve upon the
Government Select Committee on the business and forms of the House,
upon which Parnell was asked to represent the obstructive element. It
was somewhat a distinction, as I was to be the sole representative of
the English independent members, and in consequence I gave up the
Standing Committee on Commons, upon which I asked Fitzmaurice to
replace me. The proceedings of Sir Stafford Northcote's Committee, as
the Committee on Public Business was called, presented only one
singularity--namely, the examination of the Speaker--a prolonged one--
by Parnell. Both of them were in a way able men; but both were
extraordinarily slow of intellect--that is, slow in appreciating a
point or catching a new idea--and Mr. Brand (as he then was) and
Parnell used to face one another in inarticulate despair in the
attempt to understand each the other's meaning. There were a good many
fairly stupid men on the Committee, but there was not a single member
of it who did not understand what Parnell meant by a question more
quickly than could the Speaker, and not a man who could not understand
what the Speaker meant by a reply more quickly than Parnell.'

'With Speaker Brand I afterwards had a singular connection.

'At the time when the President of the Free State, whose name was also
Brand, had rendered important services to the British Government, I
made one of the briefest of my brief minutes and put it in a box, and
sent it round the Cabinet: "I think Brand should be knighted.--Ch's W.
D." Nearly all the members of the Cabinet having added their initials
in approval, Brand was knighted, but the wrong Brand, for they gave
the G.C.B. to the Speaker, and it was only some time afterwards that
the G.C.M.G. was conferred on the South African statesman. I had not
thought of the Speaker, and Mr. Gladstone or his private secretary,
Edward Hamilton, had forgotten the Free State. What may have been the
frame of mind of the various members of the Cabinet who approved my
suggestion I do not know, but some probably meant the one and some
probably meant the other, and no one remembered that there were two.'

Concerning the proposals which Sir Stafford Northcote was contemplating as
the result of the Committee on Public Business, but not in exact
accordance with its decisions, Sir Charles notes, under June 25th, that he
was not in agreement with the mass of the Liberal party.

'Our men were inclined to oppose all proposals for closure by
majorities, and for investing the Speaker with large powers, while I
was beginning to feel as strongly favourable to such proposals as I
afterwards became. My "record" upon this subject constituted,
therefore, almost as "sharp a curve" as that of others. As a rule I
have not greatly changed my mind upon political subjects, but upon
this one (as upon Africa [Footnote: See Chapter XVI., p. 238, and also
Chapter XLVIII, (Vol. II., pp. 251-2).]) I undoubtedly turned round,
and did so in consequence of the full consideration which I had to
give it in the course of this single year.'

In the same year Sir Charles had secured support of Tory metropolitan
members, whose constituents were affected, for his Bill to extend the
hours of polling in London; and it passed before the end of January as an
agreed measure. Then came another advance:

'On February 27th, at the most important sitting of my Committee on
the Registration Bills, which had three Bills before it, mine being
one; and Martin, who had charge of the Conservative Bill, being in the
Chair, with a Conservative majority on the Committee, Martin's Bill
was rejected, and mine adopted by the Committee on a division as a
base for its proceedings. I at once decided that I would hand over my
Bill to Martin, so as to let him have charge of it, as Chairman of the
Committee, as the Bill of the Committee.'

This was designed not so much to insure the passage of his own Bill as 'to
prevent Martin from carrying a mere bit of a Bill with some of the things
in it which we wanted.' But, 'to the amazement of everyone,' Sir Charles's
measure, under its new sponsorship, actually passed, and 'became law in
1878, and ultimately added an enormous number of voters to the franchise

By June 7th the Registration Bill was read a third time, and

'My Hours of Polling Bill had now become "Dilke's Act," and I felt as
though I was making such progress towards the political reforms I had
long advocated that there might be some faint chance that one day
redistribution itself might be accomplished.'

Six years later he himself carried out redistribution and extension of the
suffrage on a scale hardly dreamed of by politicians in 1878. Already, in
the debate of February 22nd, when Sir Charles, as usual, seconded Mr.
Trevelyan's annual motion on the equalization of voting power, the
division was better than ever before, and the _Annual Register_, which a
few years earlier had known nothing but contempt and aversion for this
Radical group, devoted considerable space to the arguments by which reform
was supported, with full reference to Sir Charles's speech. Mr. Goschen
and Mr. Lowe were the only Liberals of note who opposed the motion--if,
indeed, Mr. Lowe could still be called a Liberal--and Lord Hartington
spoke for it.

One of Sir Charles's preoccupations at this moment was the choice of a
Liberal candidate to stand for Chelsea with him, and the matter presented

'Horace Davey ... was wishful to stand with us, and I had asked him to
a dinner at which he met some of the leading men, and later he called
on me to see whether he would "do." In the meantime I had sounded our
best people, and found that he would not.... I told him at once that
he must vote against fresh dowries to the Royal Family until a Civil
List inquiry had been held, which ... sent him away.'

Another lawyer followed, and was shown off at several dinners, but 'the
borough did not seem inclined to welcome Queen's Counsel,' and ultimately
settled, very much to its own satisfaction and Sir Charles's, on a great
friend, Mr. Firth.

The campaign in defence of open spaces was actively carried on this year,
and in March Sir Charles was fighting on behalf of the Commons
Preservation Society to resist the erection of a new cottage with an


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