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

Part 6 out of 11

enclosure for the Deputy Ranger in Hyde Park. The cottage was erected, but
Sir Charles and his allies 'were ultimately able to get back a large part
of the land which had been enclosed near it.' Another encroachment was
resisted more successfully, and by other means. In Fulham 'the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners had made an enclosure shutting out the public
from Eelbrook Common, the use of which it had enjoyed for many years.'

'I went to a meeting at Beaufort House, and made, as I thought, a
moderate speech recommending abstention from acts of violence, but one
at the close of which the meeting went off to the place, pulled down
the fence, and burnt it in a large bonfire. The enclosure was never
reasserted, and the ground was ultimately handed over to the
Metropolitan Board of Works to be managed as an open space, and is
open now for ever.... In Lord Eversley's _Commons_, revised edition of
1910, he names my services to the "cause," but not _this_ one.'

At the close of the Session

'On September 4th I addressed my constituents, and received an ovation
in consequence of the passing of the Hours of Polling Bill (letting
them vote till eight in the evening instead of four) and of my
Registration Bill. Vast numbers of electors had been disfranchised by
the former hours, who were able now to record their votes. My
Registration Act was only to come into force in the course of the
following year, and was to affect the next registration and revision.

'Turning to foreign affairs, I pointed out the absolute impossibility
of the fulfilment of the promises which the Government had made to
give to Asiatic Turkey "rest from the heavy weight of military
service, rest from the uncertainty of unjust Judges and persons placed
in command." I went on to discuss the Greek question, which I had to
do somewhat fully, because the Greek Committee was at present only
operating in the dark, and had not made known its constitution to the
public. [Footnote: He made in this year the acquaintance of
'Delyannis, Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was a very inferior
man to his great rival, Tricoupis.']

'Two days after my speech, on September 6th, I learnt that the Greek
Government had decided to recognize the insurgent Debt of 1824. People
often talk of the possibilities of Ministers speculating on the Stock
Exchange on secret information. It is a curious and perhaps an
interesting fact that during the more than five years that I was in
office I do not think that any official information came into my hands
the possession of which would have enabled any Minister to make money
on the Stock Exchange, although a private secretary was charged with
the offence during those years--most unjustly charged. On the other
hand, it is the case that on at least two occasions when I was a
private member of Parliament, before I had held office, I had secret
information of a certain kind upon which I might have speculated, and
which very probably was given me with the intention that I should do
so. This was one of the two occasions. The other was my knowledge of
the financial intervention in Egypt before it took place. [Footnote:
He knew this from something said to him by Nubar Pasha.]

'The Greek information of September 6th reached me in Paris, whither I
had gone on the day after my speech, and to which I was followed by
very favourable criticism upon it. Gambetta, with whom I breakfasted
on the 6th, told me that Lord Salisbury, who had been in Paris, had
come there with a view to reopen the Egyptian question, but had not
received encouragement.

'On Thursday, September 12th, I breakfasted with Gambetta in the
country, he coming to fetch me at the Grand Hotel, and driving me down
in a victoria. We talked partly of Egypt, partly of people.'

That autumn Sir Charles spent in the South of France, still working on his
History. [Footnote: _History of the Nineteenth Century_. See Chapter XI.,
p. 154; also Chapter LX. (Vol. II., p. 537).] His son, then four years
old, used to be with him at La Sainte Campagne, Cap Brun, his house near
Toulon. In November a new crisis arose. 'There seemed a chance of war with
Russia about the Afghan complications,' and Sir Charles proposed to his
brother Ashton that, 'in the event of Russia's entry on the war, he should
bring out a daily halfpenny noonday paper, to give, on a small sheet, news
only, and not opinions. At that time evening papers could not be bought
till four o'clock, and the idea was discussed between us until it became
clear that we were only going to fight Afghans, and not Russians.'

The situation was serious enough to demand an autumn Session, because the
beginnings of the war were directly connected with Russian action. After
the Queen had assumed her new title of Empress of India, Lord Lytton was
instructed to propose a Mission to the Amir. But the Amir, who had
previously declined to admit surveying parties of British officers, now
refused this. In the spring of 1878, when war threatened between England
and Russia, the Russian Government also proposed an Embassy to Kabul, and
although they likewise met with a refusal, the Mission was despatched and
reached Kabul.

The Indian Government now saw themselves under a slight; Russia's Mission
had been received, theirs had been refused entrance. Peremptorily they
renewed their request. No answer was returned; the Mission set out, and
was stopped by armed force. Declaration of war followed, and by November
20th British troops had crossed the frontier. Invasion of Afghanistan was
in full progress when Parliament assembled.

Sir Charles saw Gambetta on December 3rd, and returned to England, and by
the 4th was discussing at the Radical Club the course to be taken on the
Address. In his travels he had visited the north-west frontier of India.
It was settled that he should speak, but, as he notes, the debate in the
Commons 'was swamped by that in the Lords,' and, further, 'I found myself
once again in a difficulty on the Afghan question, as I had been on the
Eastern Question, that of not agreeing with either side.'

Lord Hartington, as usual, had been prompt in the assurance of patriotic
support for a Government actually engaged in war; Mr. Gladstone was
passionate in denunciation of the war itself. Between these poles Sir
Charles had to steer, and the pith of his speech was a charge against the
Government that they were punishing the Afghans for having submitted to a
violent act of aggression perpetrated by Russia.

'On Tuesday, December 10th, I spoke in the debate, doing my best to
calm down a revolt which had broken out below the gangway against
Hartington for not having countenanced an amendment to the Address,
and for having made on the Address a speech supposed to be too
friendly to the Government.

'On the other hand, Edward Jenkins, [Footnote: Author of _Ginx's
Baby_.] who called himself a Radical, and who was a strong
Imperialist, was busy drawing amendments which were mere pretexts for
voting with the Government, and I noted in my diary my despair at
finding such men blaming Hartington for going too far, when
Chamberlain was blaming him for not going far enough. While I was
speaking on the 10th Wilfrid Lawson passed to me his copy of the
Orders of the Day, bearing at the head the lines:

'"Lord Salisbury once was the 'master of jeers,
But now he has met with disaster;
For, on reading the Blue Book, it plainly appears
That Giers is Lord Salisbury's master."

The lines were excellent, and I burst out laughing in the middle of my
speech. Giers was the new Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and
the phrase quoted in Lawson's first line was, of course, an abridgment
of Mr. Disraeli's memorable quotation from Shakespeare about his
colleague, and the four lines formed a summary of my speech....
[Footnote: On August 5th, 1874, Disraeli, speaking in the debate on
the Lords' disagreement to certain amendments made by the House of
Commons in the Public Worship Regulation Bill, had described Lord
Salisbury as "a great master of gibes and flouts and jeers."] It came
out clearly in these debates that Northcote had not expected war, and
that Lord Lytton had acted directly under the instructions of the
Prime Minister, and had not only expected, but intended it. I called
Lord Lytton in my speech "a diplomatist rather than a Viceroy, a
Secretary of Legation rather than a ruler of men." This was not
intended for abuse, but to bring the House to see him as I had seen
him in my knowledge of him as Secretary at Paris, in order to show
that he had been sent out to India to be an instrument--obedient to a
policy dictated to him from home.' [Footnote: Sir Charles had been
staying with the Commander-in-Chief at Madras, General Haines,
afterwards Field-Marshal, in January, 1876, when the news came of Lord
Lytton's appointment as Governor-General. 'The old soldier absolutely
refused to credit the information, being a strong Conservative, and
unwilling to admit that Mr. Disraeli could have been guilty of so
extraordinary a mistake.']

This Afghan War, so lightly begun, and fraught with so much disaster, was
the first of a series of events which sapped the credit of the Government
that had triumphantly claimed to bring back "peace with honour" from the
Congress of Berlin.

Some intimate aspects of that gathering are preserved in Sir Charles's
account of a dinner-party at Sir William Harcourt's house on December
11th, the guests including the Russian Ambassador, who had been one of the

'Schouvalof was very funny. He gave us a fancy picture of the whole
Congress of Berlin. He described almost every member of the Congress,
standing up at the table speaking English when he did Lord
Beaconsfield, and mimicking the Prime Minister's grave manner, with
absurdly comical effect. At last he came to Lord Salisbury, who,
according to him, spoke bad French. He made Lord Salisbury coin an
extraordinary phrase, at which he himself (Schouvalof), all the
Frenchmen, and Gortschakof, shrugged their shoulders with one accord.
Lord Salisbury turned fiercely round, and asked what was the matter
with it, to which Saint-Vallier replied that "there was nothing the
matter with it except that it was not French." "Not French?" said Lord
Salisbury, and rang the electric bell by the button in front of him,
and when the door was opened, holding up his hand to show the
messenger who had rung, said: "Fetch Mr. Currie." Philip Currie
appeared at the door, bowing deeply, whereon Lord Salisbury read his
phrase to him, and said, "Mr. Currie, is that good French?" to which
Currie replied, "Excellent French, my lord;" whereon Lord Salisbury
turned, said Schouvalof, "to our French colleagues, and said:
'There!'" Schouvalof carried on violent discussions between Lord
Beaconsfield, speaking English, and Gortschakof, speaking French,
about various boundary questions, and brought in Bismarck every minute
or two as a chorus, the Chancellor stalking up and down the room with
his arms folded, and growling in a deep voice: "Eh bien, messieurs,
arrangez-vous; car, si vous ne vous arrangez pas, demain je pars pour
Kissingen." Under this Bismarckian pressure Schouvalof, after making
us shriek for half an hour, brought his Congress to an end.... In a
confidential talk with me afterwards Schouvalof said: "I have known
many rude people, but I never knew anyone so rude as was Bismarck at
the Congress. I happened to name our poor clients, the Montenegrins,
when Bismarck roared at me: "Je ne veux pas entendre parler de ces
gens-la." Schouvalof also said of our relations with the Afghans: "You
don't understand dealing with Orientals. Compare your letters to the
Amir and ours, published in your Blue-Book. We call him the Sun and
Moon, and you call him an 'earthen pipkin.'" This last was an allusion
to the phrase used to the Amir, "an earthen pipkin between two iron
pots," the iron pots being ourselves and Russia.'


Sir Charles Dilke in this year has record of meeting with many interesting
persons, some of them links with a vanishing past, such as the daughter of
Horace Smith, who with his brother wrote _Rejected Addresses_. Miss "Tizy"
Smith was, he says,

'the last survivor of that school of noisy, frolicsome, boisterous old
ladies given to punning and banging people on the back; but she was
very witty, and, for those who had spirits to bear her spirits, most
entertaining. She was for many years known as the "Queen of Brighton,"
but her sway was not despotic.'

In February he

'dined with Lady Waldegrave to meet the Duc de Chartres--no better and
no worse than the other Princes of his house...., not excepting the
Duc d'Aumale, who had, however, the reputation of being brilliant, and
who ... was interesting from his great memory of great men. They all
grew deaf as they grew old, and the Comte de Paris is now (1890)
almost as deaf as the Prince de Joinville, who was put into the navy
in his youth, because, not hearing the big guns, he alone of all the
family was not frightened by them.'

In March, 1878, Gambetta sent to Dilke with an introduction 'Henri Hecht,
who was deep in his secrets, and in the habit from this time forward of
visiting for him Germany as well as England.' Going backwards and forwards
to his house at Toulon, Sir Charles always broke the journey at Paris to
see Gambetta. He writes to Ashton Dilke:

"Gambetta says that he shall say at Grenoble that MacMahon said:
'J'irai jusqu'au bout,' and that he must--_i.e._, he must complete his
term. He won't have him again. 'J'en ai assez d'une fois.'"

At Easter Sir Charles was using his influence with Gambetta on behalf of a
great artist who had been politically compromised in the troubles of 1871
--Dalou the sculptor, who had done to Dilke's commission a copy in has-
relief of Flaxman's "Mercury and Pandora."

'When I was leaving for Paris I had several interviews with Dalou as
to getting him leave to return to France without his asking for it. He
had been sub-curator of the Louvre under the Commune, and had helped
to preserve the collections from destruction; but after he fled the
country he had always refused to ask for leave to return, which, had
he asked, would at once have been granted to him. Gambetta always
insisted, when I spoke to him upon the matter, that Dalou should write
some letter, however private and however personal, to ask for leave to
return; but this was just what Dalou's pride would never let him do,
and although he was willing to ask me verbally, and even to refer to
the matter in a private letter to myself, he never would write about
it to anyone in France. Dalou was afterwards selected to make the
official statues of the Republic, and may be said to have become,
after the general amnesty, Sculptor-in-Ordinary to the Government of

There is a story of Count Beust's difficulties when the Empress of Austria
suddenly asked herself to dine with him at the Austrian Embassy at six on
Sunday, at twenty-four hours' notice. Beust's cook was out of town; but
worse was the difficulty of finding guests of adequate importance. The
Prince of Wales had a dinner-party of his own at Marlborough House, so
recourse was had to another Royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Teck.
They were engaged to the Marlborough House dinner, but suggested a heroic
expedient. "Why not dine with you at six, and go on at a quarter-past
eight and dine again!" So it was settled.

An eccentric dinner took place at 76, Sloane Street, when the Maharajah of
Johore returned the visit which Sir Charles had paid him in his States
near Singapore. Lord Randolph Churchill and other people interested in
India were among the guests, and the Maharajah brought his own cook, who
prepared enough for all, so that the guests had their choice of two menus.
The host took the Maharajah's, 'which was good but rich,' and 'suffered,
as did all who ate his garlics and his grease.'

'On March 21st I breakfasted with Lord Granville to meet Lord Lyons,
there being also there Lord Ripon, Lord Acton (a man of great learning
and much charm), Lord Carlingford (Chichester Fortescue that had
been), Grant Duff, Sir Thomas Wade (the great Chinese scholar, and
afterwards Professor of Chinese at Cambridge), Lefevre, Meredith
Townsend of the _Spectator_, old Charles Howard, and "old White,"
roaring with that terrible roar which seems almost necessary to go
with his appearance. I have known two men, both in the Foreign Office
service, that looked like bears--Lord Tenterden, [Footnote: Permanent
Under-Secretary of State, afterwards Dilke's colleague at the Foreign
Office.] a little black graminivorous European bear, and "old White,"
a polar bear if ever I saw one, always ready to hug his enemies or his
friends, and always roaring so as to shake the foundations of your
house. "Lord Lyons," I noted in my diary, "does not make any mark in
private, but that may be because he does his duty and holds his
tongue. The diplomatists who talk delightfully, like Odo Russell, are
perhaps not the best models of diplomacy." But White afterwards made a
great Ambassador.

'On March 3rd Goschen dined with me, asked by me to meet "Brett,
Hartington's new secretary"' (now Lord Esher). 'Reginald Brett was,
and is, an extremely pleasant fellow, and he was the ablest secretary,
except Edward Hamilton, that I ever came across; but he was far from
being a model secretary, because ... he always behaved as if he held
delegated authority from Hartington to represent Hartington's
conscience when it would not otherwise have moved, and "Hartington's
opinion" when the chief had none.... But Brett in all he did had
public ends in view....

'On July 30th I dined at a dinner given by a lion-hunter who managed
to get together some remarkable and some pleasant people--Cardinal
Manning, Ruskin, Greenwood, and Borthwick. But whether it was the
influence of the host, or whether it was because Manning did not like
his company except me, and Ruskin did not like his company at all, the
dinner was a failure. No one talked but Ruskin, and he prosed, and his
prose of speech was not his prose of pen. Manning wished to see me
about some education matter, and I called on him on August 2nd, and
from that time forward saw a good deal of the Cardinal.'

Next came members of what was to be the Fourth Party, although then
'isolated individuals.' In February Sir Charles had a long talk with Sir
Henry Drummond Wolff, and 'found him holding very different views upon
foreign affairs from those which afterwards united him with his future
leader. In fact, he had nothing at this moment in common with Lord
Randolph except a personal detestation of Lord Derby.'

Sir John Gorst had acted with Sir Charles to preserve the rights of native
races, especially the Maories; and thus a friendship had grown up, in
which Dilke was anxious to include Mr. Chamberlain.

'On July 26th Chamberlain dined with me to meet Richard Power, the new
Irish Whip, and Gorst, the latter soon afterwards to join with
Randolph Churchill in the formation of the memorable Fourth Party, and
to be known as "Randolph's Attorney-General." Many years afterwards,
when Randolph Churchill had quarrelled with Gorst, and the Fourth
Party had finally gone to pieces, Lord Randolph said to me: "Gorst was
the best adviser I ever had. I often failed to follow his advice, and
have always regretted not following it." When the Fourth Party was
first formed, he advised that we should sit immediately behind the
leaders--I with my knees in Northcote's back. I overruled him, and we
sat below the gangway; but he was right. We should have done far more
execution if I had been nearer to "the Goat." Lord Randolph never
alluded to Sir Stafford Northcote except by this playful appellation,
based upon the long, straggling, yellow-white beard of the
Conservative Chief. When he was in good humour the Fourth Party leader
alluded to the Conservative leader as "the goat"; but when angry as
"the old goat," and often with many of those disrespectful adjectives
in which in private conversation he delighted.

'At dinner at the Harcourts' on August 10th, Arthur Balfour present:
... I am the greatest of admirers of his "charm."'

Ireland, which makes or breaks politicians, made Mr. A. J. Balfour. Here
is some detail of one of the men whom Ireland broke. Towards the end of
the Session came to Sir Charles a letter from the Duchess of Manchester at

"Please back up Mr. Forster. I think he is quite right. Fancy, to be
chosen and proposed by a Committee, adopted by 300 idiots or geniuses,
and to have to submit, when you can stand on your own merits."

'A German Conservative Duchess was not likely to be able to understand
the Caucus. Forster was her friend, going and sitting with her almost
every day, and chuckling over her politics with his extraordinary
chuckle, and playing cards with her at night. To his card-playing,
indeed, he ultimately owed his life, for the Invincibles in Dublin
used to wait for him night after night outside his club to murder him
(as afterwards came out in the Phoenix Park trial), and, tired out
with waiting, at last fancy that he must have gone home. Forster was
at this moment at loggerheads with his Bradford constituents, and
hence the letter of the Duchess; but I did not "back up" Forster,
being myself an absolute believer in the wisdom of the Caucus system.
I had, indeed, invented a Caucus in Chelsea before the first
Birmingham Election Association was started.'

Sir Charles left for Paris, and--

'on September 6th I met Emile Ollivier, who said that there had never
been in France a personal power equal to that of Gambetta at this
moment; even that of Napoleon, when First Consul, was not so great.
Then the Bourbons were dimly seen behind. "Now there is nothing
behind; nothing except Clericalism, and Clericalism can be bought."

'Ollivier I found still full of burning hatred for the Empress, but he
had forgiven Rouher and the Emperor for making him the scapegoat. I
discussed with him once more the origin of the war of 1870, and he
maintained most stoutly that France had been driven into it by
Bismarck, and had only put herself in the wrong by herself declaring
war, and had done this because her army system gave her a fortnight's
start, the advantage of which was lost through the Emperor's
hesitations. He thinks that in that fortnight the German Army could
have been destroyed. It is on this point that he is wrong.'



The chronicle of the year 1879 begins with a visit paid by Sir Charles to
Paris on his way back from his house near Toulon, to which he had returned
after the brief Session of December, On February 2nd 'I breakfasted with
Gambetta. His furniture was being packed up for removal to the Palais
Bourbon, where he was about to take up residence as President of the
Chamber,' and 'saw him again late at night at the office of his paper'
(_La Republique Francaise_). 'Gambetta was then,' says a note added later,
'at the height of his power, and, in fact, Dictator. He was a patriot, but
too big for the Republic.'

'On my return to London I found that Chamberlain was most anxious to see
me,' and on February 5th Sir Charles went to Birmingham, to discuss their
joint line of action in the coming Session. During this visit 'Chamberlain
told me of Lord Beaconsfield's pleasant prophecies with regard to myself,
of which I heard from all sides just after this time.'

The "pleasant prophecies" declared that Sir Charles would certainly be
Prime Minister. Mr. Gladstone, it will be seen later, came to the
conclusion in 1882 that Dilke would be his natural successor in the House
of Commons; but this opinion was given only a little in advance of a
widely received public estimate, and it came after the test of office had
proved those qualities which Lord Beaconsfield discerned while the younger
statesman was still only a private member of the Opposition, not promoted
to the Front Bench.

But no one, even in 1879, doubted that Sir Charles was of Front Bench
rank; and close upon this came a decisive opportunity in Parliament.

Trouble, which threatened to become acute, between the Zulu power under
Cetewayo and his encroaching Boer neighbours had led the British
Government to carry out the annexation of the Transvaal during the course
of 1877. The Zulus were inclined to trust the British more than the Dutch;
but the advent of Sir Bartle Frere as High Commissioner put a new
complexion on matters. Frere had made up his mind that the Zulu power must
be broken, and a pretext was soon found in a demand for the abolition of
the Zulu military system. This ultimatum was presented on December 11th,
1878, by Frere, of his own motion, and without warning to the Home
Government. The inevitable refusal followed, leading to invasion of the
Zulu territory, with disastrous result. On January 23rd, 1879, Lord
Chelmsford's force was cut to pieces at Isandhlwana; and it seemed
possible that the whole colony of Natal might be overrun by Zulu _impis_.

This was the governing factor of the political situation at the moment
when Parliament reopened in 1879. Sir Charles had not previously taken a
prominent part in the discussion of South African affairs, and his
attitude is indicated only by isolated passages in the Memoir.

In 1875, when Lord Carnarvon sent J. A. Froude to 'stump South Africa' in
advocacy of a scheme of federation devised in Downing Street, Sir Charles
condemned a mission which seemed to him to cast a slur on the local
Colonial governments. In his opinion, this mission helped to create those
disturbances which rent South Africa in the succeeding years. On May 27th,
1877, he noted that the Blue Book on the Transvaal, then published, was
'an indictment of the Republic intended to justify the annexation,' but
that it did not 'show the existence of any overwhelming necessity for
annexation, or, indeed, any necessity at all.' Yet he gave only a half-
hearted support to Mr. Courtney's opposition to the South Africa Bill when
those matters were debated in the House, for, as he wrote in a letter to
the _Spectator_, he was opposed, "not to the policy of annexation, which,
as leading up to confederation," he supported, "but to the manner in which
that annexation had been carried out." It was said to have been done by
the desire of the Dutch themselves. If so, why were three battalions of
British troops still needed in the Transvaal? The Bill did not establish a
self-governing federation; it only provided that federation might be
established by an Order in Council. What guarantee had the Dutch, he
asked, that such an order would ever be issued?

Events justified his question, for the promise was never made good, even
when the Liberals themselves came into office, and Sir Charles resented
the iniquity of this dealing.

In February, 1878, he met Froude at dinner, and 'discussed with him the
South African question, on which we took widely different views, and of
which his were to be the source of much unhappiness to the Mother Country
and the Colonies.'

With the difficulty of the Transvaal the Zulu outbreak was indirectly
connected. Great Britain had been drawn into strife with the Zulu power,
which had for more than thirty years lived peaceably beside the Natal
Government, only because the annexation had made England responsible for
the peace of the disputed territories beyond the Vaal. There was also a
strong if indirect connecting-link in the personality of Sir Bartle Frere,
who, as High Commissioner in South Africa, had belittled the Boer claims,
and who now by a violent stretch of authority had precipitated war with
the Zulus.

After his discussion with Chamberlain at Birmingham, Sir Charles had
decided to indict the Government's South African policy on the first
possible occasion, and he communicated this intention to Lord Hartington.
Owing to the prolonged winter Session there was to be no Queen's Speech,
and consequently no Address, at the opening of Parliament, and Sir
Stafford Northcote was to begin the proceedings with a general statement.
Lord Hartington, after some hesitation as to the course to be pursued,
ultimately commissioned Sir Charles to reply at once on behalf of the
Opposition--a task which would naturally fall to the official leader of
the party. The opportunity thus given to him was the more notable because
the Liberal chiefs were divided as to the line which should be taken.
Harcourt, Sir Charles records, 'tried to prevent me from bringing forward
any motion as to the Zulu War,' but Chamberlain was strong in the opposite
sense. "We want to din into the constituencies," he wrote, "that the
Government policy is one of _continual_, petty, fruitless, unnecessary,
and inglorious squabbles--all due to their bullying, nagging ways." This
was consonant with the Birmingham leader's fierce opposition to Jingoism;
and for once he shared the view of his titular leader.

'Hartington fell in with the view taken by Chamberlain, and my notice
to call attention to the South African papers and the causes of the
war was given with his consent. The bad news from the Cape '--news of
Isandhlwana--' which came on February 11th, had changed his former
view. My speech on Northcote's motion was on the 13th February.'

He then brought forward on behalf of the Liberal party a resolution
condemning the Government's policy in South Africa, and more especially
the conduct of Sir Bartle Frere. The date for this main attack was not
fixed till after considerable delay, and before it arrived the words of
the motion which stood in Sir Charles's name were annexed bodily, and put
down in the name of Lord Lansdowne, to be moved in the Lords on an earlier
day. Lord Lansdowne sat on the Liberal Front Bench in the Upper House
(where he took an active part in criticism of Conservative policy), and
Sir Charles called this proceeding "taking the bread out of a private
member's mouth," despite the implied compliment to his tact in drafting
the Resolution. Sunday, the 23rd March, he spent at Mentmore, Lord
Rosebery's house, where Lord and Lady Granville were staying, and he

'I could not but think (although Lord Granville was very civil and
told me that he had advised the King of the Belgians to go to the
House of Commons on the following Thursday to hear my speech) that if
Lord Granville had thought that my speech was going to be a success,
he would not have stolen my motion for Lord Lansdowne to bring it on
first in the House of Lords. I could not see the wisdom of the
tactics, because it was already certain we should have a better
division in the Commons, proportionately speaking, than in the Lords.
At Devonshire House, on the previous Wednesday, Lord Lansdowne came up
to me in the entrance hall, where it is rather dark, and began talking
to me, and as I did not see who it was, he introduced himself--
"Lansdowne the pirate," of course in allusion to the robbery of my

The words were--

"That this House, while willing to support Her Majesty's Government in
all necessary measures for defending the possessions of Her Majesty in
South Africa, regrets that the ultimatum which was calculated to
produce immediate war should have been presented to the Zulu king
without authority from the responsible advisers of the Crown, and that
an offensive war should have been commenced without imperative or
pressing necessity or adequate preparation; and this House further
regrets that after the censure passed, upon the High Commissioner by
Her Majesty's Government in the despatch of the 19th day of March,
1879, the conduct of affairs in South Africa should be retained in his

'These words did not please all men. Fawcett wrote me two strong
letters to protest against them. Lord Granville also discussed them at
some length with me in writing. Fawcett was largely moved by
detestation of Sir Bartle Frere, and, while my chief object was to
stop the war, his object was to force Frere to resign. The feeling
against the proconsul was strong among the Liberals.

'On the 25th the debate in the Lords took place. The House was
thronged, the galleries being filled with ladies, and (there being a
Court mourning) all in black--save one, Lady ----. She was in scarlet
from top to toe, or more than toe, for she displayed a pair of long
scarlet stockings to a startled House, and each member as he came in
said, "Good gracious me, who's that?" so that Lansdowne could hardly
begin for the buzz. His speech was dull, and the result was favourable
to the Government. Two days later I brought forward my motion in the
Commons, and had a great personal success, receiving the
congratulations of all the leading men of both parties. I spoke for
two hours and a half, and kept the House full, without ever for an
instant being in doubt as to the complete success of the speech;
greatly cheered by my own side, without being once questioned or
interrupted by the other. But the speech was far from being my best
speech, although it was by far my greatest success. It was an easy
speech to make--a mere Blue-Book speech. The case from the papers was
overwhelming. All that had to be done was to state it in a clear way,
and I should think that more than half the speech consisted of mere
reading of extracts, which, however, I read in such a way as to
incorporate them in the body of the speech. The opening and the
conclusion, both of which were effective, were not my own; for they
were suggested to me, only I think on the same day, by William
Rathbone, who sometimes thought of a good way of putting things. While
I was gratified by the success of the speech, I could not help feeling
how completely these things are a matter of opportunity, inasmuch as I
had made dozens of better speeches in the House, of which some had
been wholly unsuccessful.'

Nothing was wanting to the completeness of the after-effects of his House
of Commons triumph.

'The general feeling seemed to be, as Lord Reay put it in his letter
of congratulation, that my speech on South African affairs was "the
Cape of Good Hope of the Liberal party."' [Footnote: Lord Reay (Baron
Mackay of Ophemert), a Hollander by birth, then recently naturalized,
spoke with special authority when South Africa was in question. The
Barony was originally Scotch, and created in 1628. A peerage of the
United Kingdom was conferred on Lord Reay (the eleventh Baron) in

By this speech his contemporaries remember Sir Charles as a speaker. Sir
George Trevelyan writes:

"His great speech on South Africa was a wonderful exposition, lucid,
convincing, detailed, without being heavy. I can well recall how old
members admired the manner in which he ticked off topic after topic,
with its due amount of illustration from the Blue-Books."

A letter to Mrs. Pattison, written, as he says in it, "under the violent
excitement of a splendid personal success," contains his own estimate. The
congratulations of leading men of all parties were couched, he said, "in
such a way as made me realize how badly I had always spoken before." And
in his Memoir he adds the modest comment that 'praise was forthcoming in
abundance. The only praise, however, that I can accept as fairly belonging
to this speech, is praise for a past of work which had led up to it.'

The result, especially with an indolent man like Lord Hartington as
leader, was that the conduct of the Opposition's case was increasingly
left to Sir Charles Dilke. _Truth_ put the popular view amusingly enough
in Hiawathan verse:

"Never absent, always ready
To take up the burning question
Of the hour and make a motion:
Be it Cyprus, be it Zulu,
He can speak for hours about it
From his place below the gangway.
No Blue Book avails to fright him:
He's the stomach of an ostrich
For the hardest facts and figures,
And assimilates despatches
In the most surprising fashion."

A serious tribute to his success follows:

'I was asked by Sir Thomas Bazley, who was eighty-two years of age, to
stand for Manchester in his place, with a promise from Manchester that
my expenses would be paid. But I was under a volunteered pledge not to
leave Chelsea until beaten, which I thought I should be "this time."'

Sir Charles records as one feature of the debate the sudden and painful
failure of Mr. Lowe's hitherto great debating powers:

'On the second night of the debate I dined with Sir Charles Forster'
(member for Walsall, and well known as a dinner-giver to the chiefs of
the Liberal party) 'to meet Lord Hartington, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr.
Bright. Almost the sole topic of conversation was the breakdown in the
debate of Lowe, who had apparently been trusting as usual to his
hitherto marvellous memory, when this had failed him, and he stopped
short' (in the middle of a sentence), 'and failed ever, henceforward,
to regain his power.'

The future of Greece engaged Sir Charles's attention far more constantly
than this South African embroilment. Cyprus was a branch of the Greek
question, and (in a speech of March 20th, 1879) he had attacked Wolseley's
administration of the island. The General replied in a Blue Book, which
was debated on June 20th, 1879:

'The Cypriotes were so excited that they were sending me not only
every fact, but every story, and as it was difficult to sift them in
London, I dare say some of the charges were untrue and some were
certainly trivial.'

One telegram had complained bitterly of the injustice done to two priests
whose beards were cut off in a British gaol, although nothing was said as
to the justice of their imprisonment. But "the existence of forced labour
under our rule had certainly been admitted," said Sir Charles in his
speeches on the question, and on this and on the law which the Government
of Cyprus had passed, taking to itself powers of arbitrary exile without
trial, he rested a case in which he persevered throughout the Session,
debating Cyprus 'at such length, I fear, as to bore the House.' He relates
that he once began a speech on Cyprus before a party of members set out
for the Crystal Palace to dine, and was still delivering the same speech
when they came back. Later, when in office, he was able to make the
administrative changes he desired for the benefit of the island.

One result of Sir Charles's interest in the affairs of Cyprus was to bring
down upon him 'an enormous correspondence in modern Greek, to read which I
had to engage the services of a translator.'

'The Cypriote Bishops are the most long-winded people with whom I ever
had to do, and their communications, although flattering, were
somewhat burdensome. I was also receiving many letters in modern Greek
from Athens and various centres of Greek activity with regard to the
proceedings of the Greek Committee, and I received addresses from
Epirus and from the other Turkish provinces and islands inhabited by
Greeks in which there was any thought of cession. I was appointed
Honorary President of the "Zenon," whatever that might be, and
received similar appointments from various Greek societies. I am,
indeed, also a "citizen of Athens."'

He received the freedom of that city on July 12th, 1879; the Grand Cross
of the Saviour was also offered, but declined.

'On Sunday, March 30th, Hartington sent to me to exchange notes upon
the position of the Greek question, and his attitude seemed to me
that, as he did not understand anything about it, he hoped I was being
careful and not doing anything very wrong. At all events, he left me
to myself, and I delivered my soul in the House.'

This he did on April 17th, putting forward a complaint that, although
Greece looked to Great Britain's representatives at the Congress of Berlin
for a traditional championship of the Hellenic claims, Lord Beaconsfield
and Lord Salisbury had allowed the proposal for an extension of Greek
territory to come from French diplomatists; and, further, that the
recommendation to this effect inserted in the Treaty of Berlin had been
evaded by Turkey. He described in his speech the delays and the
unsatisfactory proposals which had been put forward by Turkey in
conference with Greek delegates, and demanded European pressure to carry
out the declared intentions of Europe. A special obligation of honour
rested upon England, so he held, because England had induced Greece to
desist from war when Turkey was at grips with Russia, and when the Greeks,
by attacking, might easily have secured possession of the territory they

These representations were put forward a month later as the general appeal
of the Greek Committee, which had existed as a secret body for a year, but
was formally and publicly organized on April 25th, 1879. Preparations were
begun for a public meeting, and after several conferences with Lord

'I invited the speakers and drew up an appeal to the public, and acted
as Chairman of the Executive Committee, with Rosebery for President
and Lefevre for Treasurer. The meeting was held at Willis's Rooms on
May 17th, 1879, and was attended by men of all shades of opinion--the
Duke of Westminster, Sir Robert Peel, an independent Conservative, and
several other Conservatives, as well as the mass of the Liberals. I
presided, and Lansdowne moved the first resolution.'

Dilke said afterwards that this meeting had been 'sufficiently interesting
to keep Harcourt and a Duke standing for three hours--putting Harcourt
first because he was the more august.'

Immediately afterwards he went to Liverpool, as the guest of the Liverpool
Reform Club, to speak specially upon the Greek question.

'My speech was dull; the best thing said in the course of the evening
was said by a man who had been _Daily News_ correspondent in Crete--
"They talk of Europe! What is Europe? Europe is a number of wicked old
gentlemen with decorations, assembled in a room."

'During my stay in the neighbourhood of Liverpool I was the guest at
Knowsley of Lord and Lady Derby, who were trying by all means in their
power to emphasize the fact that they were quite ready to go over to
the Liberal side' (as they did within the year). 'I tried hard to get
Rosebery to make some speeches in the country upon the Greek question,
but this attempt was a failure. He was greatly pressed to go to
Manchester in the same way in which I had gone to Liverpool, but after
taking a long time to think of the thing, he distinctly refused. I
never quite knew why; but caution was always the predominant element
in his nature, though he was occasionally rash just when he should
have been cautious.'

In June Sir Charles became possessed of 'a curious document which he
translated and made public.' According to the story told him, the letter
had been in the mailbags aboard a steamer which was wrecked, and it had
been retrieved along with the rest from the bottom of the sea. But

'it was probably bought for the Greeks by their spy Fitzgerald, the
"journalist" who afterwards disappeared--finally--about 1894. He had,
however, often disappeared for some years. The letter was stamped with
an Italian stamp for foreign post, addressed to Mouktar Pasha,
commanding in chief the Turkish army in Epirus; and, although the
envelope was plain and not calculated to attract attention, the letter
was on Italian Foreign Office paper, and dated from the Foreign Office
at Rome on April 6th. It was from Corte, an Italian Consul-General who
had been employed in Albania and afterwards in the Italian Foreign
Office, and pointed to Italian intrigue in Albania to make the
Italians rather than the Greeks the successors of the Turks in Albania
and Epirus. Seven years later I saw a good deal of Mouktar Pasha at
Constantinople, but I did not mention this letter either to him or to
the Sultan. It referred to Mouktar's idea of "colonization in Epirus,"
and, from the context, and from what we know of previous proceedings,
it would seem that this colonization of Epirus was to have been a
colonization by Italian peasants.'

This letter came to Sir Charles as President of the Greek Committee, and
here may be added notice of the birth of an enterprise kindred in spirit
to the political association of those who loved Greece:

'On Monday, June 16th, I took part in the meeting at which the
Hellenic Society was founded, it having grown out of a conference held
at Cambridge between Mr. Newton of the British Museum (afterwards Sir
Charles Newton), Professor Colvin, and me. The first resolution was
moved by Lord Morley (Earl Morley, afterwards Chairman of Committees
of the House of Lords), and seconded by Professor Sayce; the second by
me, and seconded by the Dean of St. Paul's; the third by Sir John
Lubbock, and seconded by Professor Jebb; and the fourth by Professor
Colvin, and seconded by Gennadius.'

Two other questions of abiding interest were touched on by Sir Charles
this year. That of Upper Houses is mentioned in connection with interviews
with Sir Graham Berry, one of his Colonial acquaintances.

'Mr. (afterwards Sir) Graham Berry, Prime Minister, or, as they call
it in the Colonies, "Premier" of Victoria; a rough, able man, son of a
Chelsea tradesman.... We arranged a reception, which was given to
Berry by the parish of Chelsea at the Chelsea Vestry Hall, myself in
the chair, when we presented him with an address expressing the hope
that the Victoria Lower House might prevail in its struggle against
the Upper. Professor Pearson, formerly of Oxford--a Free Trader,
though Mr. Berry was a Protectionist--was with him, and they were over
to try to persuade the Colonial Office to support them against the
Upper House.'

'Sir Graham Berry was afterwards the Agent-General of his Colony, but
still possessed the confidence of the Liberal party in Victoria in a
higher degree than any other man, and he afterwards returned to local
politics and became Speaker. Pearson wrote a great book before he

Sir Graham Berry wrote later in this year 'for opinions upon a Bill of
reform of the Upper House in his Parliament,' to which Sir Charles replied
'that I disliked Upper Houses so much as not to be in favour of reforming

This attitude he always maintained. His views upon the whole question of
representation were this year put into a pamphlet which

'advocated, in addition to the reforms upon which Liberals were
agreed, the system of double elections, as on the Continent--that is
to say, a second poll to be held when at the first the person at the
head of the poll did not obtain a clear majority of votes.'

The other question takes the first place in Sir Charles's note of his
conversations with Chamberlain at the beginning of the Session. This
touched on economic difficulties, and runs thus:

"That it would be wise to have a motion on the condition of the realm:
probably by moving for a Committee to inquire into the cause of the
present distress, and that Mundella would be the best person to move,
especially if the Front Bench would support him, as the distress is
most severe in Sheffield."

Some years, however, elapsed before Sir Charles was able to deal with such
questions authoritatively as President of the Local Government Board.

We can trace at this time the beginning of those close relations which
Dilke and Chamberlain cultivated (even after they had joined Mr.
Gladstone's Government) with the new power that was growing up in
Parliament. On February 15th, 'we were anxious that the Irish should vote
with us about the Zulu War, the more so because her leaders were
hesitating upon the subject,' and Sir Charles invited Mr. Parnell to meet
Mr. Chamberlain at dinner; but they 'were able to make but little of him.'
Further meetings took place, from which the only practical result was a
promise of Parnell's support in their opposition to the County Boards
Bill, which the Conservative Government were putting forward as their main
measure. The ground of opposition was that 'it was better to leave the
present system alone than to create new Boards only half elective.'

The Memoir has a note respecting one of these meetings with the Irish
leader at which Parnell was accompanied by Major Nolan, then member for
County Galway:

'Nolan showed opportunist Nationalism; Parnell irreconcilable
Nationalism. The latter let out, in spite of his great caution, that
if we chose to go to Ireland on Mill's land programme, we could
destroy his position and the Home Rule movement. Nolan said that a
party which would give security of tenure to the small tenants could
afford to leave the large ones out. (To touch the large tenancies in
that sense would be virtually to charge the possession of property in
Ireland with partial compensation.)'

At this moment, the beginning of 1879, the purely Nationalist agitation
for self-government had not yet been joined to the demand for an improved
and freer status for the Irish tenant. This was mainly the work of Davitt,
and Davitt had scarcely yet been heard of by the wider public.



Hospitable and popular, Sir Charles had the best of what those days could
offer in talk and talkers. He compared his own country very unfavourably
with the possible standard of social intercourse:

'In England and in France people seem wholly unaware that they cannot
either in politics or in literature deal with or even understand
questions involving philosophical and historical considerations
without any training in either philosophy or history, and one sees
writings and speeches by persons who think themselves members of an
educated class which are unintelligible to any who have the slightest
discipline of either habit of thought or form of expression.'

'In the best English political and literary society there is no
conversation. Mr. Gladstone will talk with much charm about matters
that he does not understand, or books that he is not really competent
to criticize; but his conversation has no merit to those who are
acquainted with the subjects on which he speaks. Men like Lord
Rosslyn, [Footnote: Lord Rosslyn died in 1890.] Lord Houghton, Lord
Granville (before his deafness), had a pleasant wit and some
cultivation, as had Bromley Davenport, Beresford Hope, and others, as
well as Arthur Balfour, but none of these men were or are at a high
level; and where you get the high level in England, you fall into
priggism. On the whole, Hastings, Duke of Bedford, was the best
specimen that I ever knew of an English gentleman as regards learning
and conversation; but then he was horrible as a man, in spite of his
pretty manners, because ferocious in his ideas upon property. Now, at
Rome is to be found that which is unknown in London, in Paris, in St.
Petersburg, and unknown, I fancy, at Vienna and Berlin, although of
these I know far less--namely, conversation not priggish or academic,
and yet consistently maintained at a high level.

'I often heard Mr. Gladstone talk well at little Charles Forster's.
"Mr. G." also seemed to me to talk especially well at the table of Sir
Walter James, [Footnote: The first Lord Northbourne.] an old gentleman
who had left Parliament soon after I was born. In those two houses he
was supreme; but if Coleridge or the Viper (Abraham Hayward) or
Browning were present, who talked better than he did, and would not
give way to him, he was less good. Villiers, who was another good
talker, "Mr. G." could not abide, and his presence also was a damper.'

In the next year we have 'a dinner at the French Embassy, where Gladstone
was very agreeable, talking French well in an old-fashioned style.'

Also, in 1880, there is a dinner to which

'the first man to come was the Duke of Cambridge, who gave Mr.
Gladstone his left hand, and said that his right was too painful
through gout. Mr. Gladstone threw his arms up to the sky, as though he
had just heard of the reception of Lord Beaconsfield in heaven, or of
some other similar terrible news. His habit of play-acting in this
fashion, in the interest of a supposed politeness, is a very odd one,
giving a great air of unreality to everything he does; but of course
it is a habit of long years.

'I heard good talk about this time at Coleridge's house, but preferred
his Blakes--which were even better than mine--to his conversation.'

Under the date February 23rd is record of sitting up late at night at the
Lubbocks' with Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, the Judge:

'We did not agree upon any point, for his opinions upon all things,
especially hanging, were the exact opposite of my own. He talked of
"our dear old British gallows." But we got on well, and I was one of
those who greatly regretted his breakdown, which occurred some ten
years later. He and Leslie Stephen were the sons of Sir James Stephen,
Professor of History at Cambridge--very unlike one another in early
life, when J. F. Stephen was a fat, half-Whig, half-Tory lawyer and
_Saturday Reviewer_, and Leslie a starved-looking, free-thinking
Radical parson, afterwards to throw off his Orders. As they grew old
they became much alike in appearance, and in opinion.'

There is a note of spending a Sunday in March 'at Aston Clinton, with the
widow of Sir Anthony de Rothschild and her daughter, Mrs. Cyril Flower,
afterwards Lady Battersea.

'Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild and his wife came to dinner, and, well
knowing as I did two other members of the family, I could see how
strangely like a Royal family the Rothschilds are in one respect--
namely, that they all quarrel with one another, but are united as against
the world. When Cyril Flower, in 1878, made a speech unfriendly to the
Government, but not more so than might naturally be expected at that time
from a Liberal member, Baron Lionel sent for him, and told him that it was
"wicked and abominable for him to attack a man who had been a poor Jew and
was now the greatest man in England." "In Europe, papa," cut in Nathaniel,
who was present at this public cursing.

'From March 15th to the 17th I stayed at York House with the Grant
Duffs, where I met the Marquis and Marquise de la Ferronnays, Henry
Cowper, Minto, Lord Reay, and Herbert Spencer. La Ferronnays was at
this time Military Attache at the French Embassy, but resigned as soon
as the Republic became consolidated, and, being elected to the
Chamber, was soon the fighting leader of the high Tory party--a not
clever, but excellent gentleman, like the others.

'On Monday, March 31st, I dined at the Harcourts', but, alas I this
time no Schouvalof. His place was occupied by Rancez, the Spanish
Minister, who had the same diplomatic capacity for concealing the
truth while talking with equal apparent frankness, but who was less

'On Monday, April 7th, I dined with Lord and Lady Arthur Russell, to
meet old Lady Russell. I had seen her once before at Pembroke Lodge,
and once at Harcourt's at dinner, on both of which previous occasions
I had seen Lord Russell too--a shadow of his former self.... On this
occasion Lady Russell was alone, Lord Russell having died in the
previous year. [Footnote: In 1878.] The old lady was pleasant, and
gave me a general invitation to come to Pembroke Lodge any or every
Sunday, an invitation of which I afterwards availed myself.

'On April 9th I left for France for Easter, and had long and pleasant
breakfasts at the Palais Bourbon with Gambetta, varied by a grand
dinner on April 16th, at which I met many of those who afterwards held
office--Ferry, afterwards Prime Minister; Rouvier, afterwards Prime
Minister; Spuller, afterwards Minister for Foreign Affairs; Constans,
afterwards Minister of the Interior; and Freycinet, afterwards Prime
Minister--all of them dull men enough. Spuller, a kindly and pleasant
dull man; Constans, a red-faced Burgundy drinker; Freycinet, a little
white intriguer--on the whole a sorry crew, Gambetta towering above
them in ability, in joviality, and even in reading.'

In a scrap of an old letter, dated Wednesday, April 16th, Sir Charles

"I've spent nearly all my time with Gambetta. He said that he thinks
Sella 'le premier homme politique de l'Italie, mais enrage
protectionniste.' He says he told him that if he were not so violent a
Protectionist he would be 'l'homme absolument necessaire.'"

On this follows later the observation:

'If Gambetta was anything, he was anti-Russian and a Free Trader, and
his friends, professing to continue his work, became, after about
1887, rabid Russians and fierce Protectionists.'

He speaks of Gambetta's 'contempt for Sella because Sella was a
Protectionist,' and adds: 'I suppose Gambetta would have become one
had he lived.'

While Dilke was in Paris he received a letter from Chamberlain referring
to a motion about 'the interference of the Crown in politics,' of which
Mr. Dillwyn had given notice. Mr. Chamberlain thought the subject
"certainly a popular one, but very difficult to treat in the House of

'Dillwyn's motion was obviously what people would call "interesting,"
but obviously also highly dangerous, as it was really impossible to
prove the case. The Queen does interfere constantly; more, however,
when Liberal Ministers are in power than when she has a Conservative
Cabinet, because the Conservatives on the whole do what she likes, as
she is a Conservative; whereas the Liberals are continually doing, and
indeed exist for the purpose of doing, the things she does not like.
But it is very doubtful how far her interference is unconstitutional,
and it would be quite impossible to prove it, unless Mr. Gladstone,
for example, were to publish her letters--a not very likely
supposition. The Queen is a woman of great ability.... She writes to
the Prime Minister about everything she does not like, which, when he
is a Liberal, means almost everything that he says or does. She
complains of his colleagues' speeches. She complains, with less
violence, of his own. She protests against Bills. She insists that
administrative acts should not be done without delay, for the purpose
of consulting with regard to them persons whose opinions she knows
will be unfavourable. But if the Minister acts as she directs, he, and
not she, becomes responsible; and he may be impeached, for example,
for so doing. And... her action, to my mind, is, strictly speaking,
constitutional. Even in the House of Commons, and in a speech taking a
rough popular view of the Constitution, it would be difficult to
maintain that with her immense experience the Queen is not justified
in asking for time in order that men of distinction should be
consulted upon various acts; and anything beyond this would be mere
matter of inference, not proving the case even if the facts were
known, which of course they are not. Our poor Dillwyn on this
occasion, prompted by Trevelyan, walked into a hornets' nest; and, as
he did it without consulting his two leaders, his leaders were not
bound to follow him.'

'On March 21st I dined with Sir Baliol and Lady Bret, meeting the
German Ambassador (Count Munster) and his daughter, and Lord and Lady
Derby. She was not at all bitter about Lord Beaconsfield, although
very bitter about the Court; and after dinner Lord Derby said that the
Queen was now carrying on a confidential correspondence with every
quarter of the globe, so that he was evidently bitter too....

'On April 22nd I received from Auberon Herbert a letter: "Things look
well. The gilding is much tarnished, and shows the brass underneath.
You have done right well. Many thanks for your letter. I went to
Leeds--on the chance but I suspect I am best out of the House. I can
do more to make people believe in themselves, and not in our Moslem
idea of government--perhaps--outside the House than in it. You do
agree in the fearfully paralyzing effect of belief in Government,
don't you?" The last words reveal the growth in Auberon Herbert of
anarchic views, which shortly afterwards turned him for all practical
purposes from a Radical into a Tory, or, rather, turned him back to
the point from which he had started, for as a Tory private secretary
to a Tory Cabinet Minister he had begun political life at the time
when he drew up the plan for the action of the troops against the mob
on the day of the Hyde Park railings being torn down--a plan so
drastic that the Home Secretary, Walpole, refused to move.

'On Wednesday, April 23rd, I dined with Waddy, M.P., Q.C., [Footnote:
Afterwards County Court Judge.] a man who would have been a Judge but
for his odd name and his odder manners, "to meet Lord Hartington and
the President of the Wesleyan Conference," an odd mixture. Waddy is a
Wesleyan, and wanted Hartington to make the acquaintance of the
leading Wesleyans in England, and took this course to bring about the

'My Sundays at this time I had taken to spend at Pembroke Lodge,
preferring it to Strawberry Hill as quieter, for we often had there
(besides Lady Russell) only Lady Agatha and Rollo Russell, and little
Lord Russell when he was home for the holidays from Winchester.

'On Monday, April 28th, I had an interview with the Duke of Argyll at
his wish with regard to the Eastern Question generally, in which he
took deep interest, and on which he made, perhaps, on the whole, the
most conclusive speech delivered in Parliament against the policy of
the Conservative Government. The Duke of Argyll was at this time the
most finished and (for a stately occasion and a cultivated audience)
about the most convincing speaker that could be found--to me, not so
convincing as Gathorne Hardy, and, to all men, less gifted with charm
and melody of voice than Mr. Bright; but fine in the extreme, with no
serious drawbacks except a little too much satisfaction with himself;
a very able man, as his monumental book upon the Eastern Question will
suffice to show. In philosophy he dabbled, and for dabblers was a

'On Friday, May 9th, I lunched with Lord and Lady Lansdowne, and found
her one of the nicest women that I had ever met--a plain and simple
lady. In the evening I dined with Lady Elizabeth Biddulph, and made
the acquaintance of Herbert of the Colonial Office, whom I afterwards
heard described by Grant Duff in a public speech as "the perfect
permanent official." I had later, when Undersecretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, to act twice for a short time during changes in the
Colonial Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the
Colonial Office, in addition to my own duties, and I was able to
discover for myself how true was what Grant Duff said. On one of these
occasions Hicks Beach, who had been Colonial Secretary, gave notice to
call attention to salaries of officers on the West Coast of Africa,
and I at once sent over to the Colonial Office to tell Herbert that he
had done so. Herbert immediately replied that the salaries were low,
and the coast unhealthy, and that salaries could hardly be reduced;
while, on the other hand, when Sir Michael had been Secretary of
State, he had not proposed to raise them; but that so soon as we could
learn which it was that he intended--_i.e._, to lower or to raise--he
would send me, "in either event, a perfect case."

'On May 10th George Sheffield, the _alter ego_ of Lord Lyons, asked
himself to breakfast, and I gathered that Lord Lyons had told him to
come and pump me as to what Gambetta had indicated of his intentions
in France, as George Sheffield kept telling me that Gambetta evidently
intended to make himself Dictator in name, as he was in fact.

'On Sunday, May 11th, I dined with Edmund Yates and his wife, meeting
Irving, Browning, Sala, Mrs. Lynn Linton (just back from three years
in Florence), Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Murray, and some others. I was
intensely amused at watching Mrs. Douglas Murray, agreeable but rather
superfine, looking at the Bardolphian nose of "George Augustus," who
took her in to dinner, and of whom she had evidently never heard, and
wondering what manner of wild man he could be.

'On May 17th, after the Greek Committee, I dined with the Lyulph
Stanleys.... Chamberlain took Lord Airlie, whom he had never
previously met, for Sir George Campbell, and addressed him in a
friendly but disrespectful manner, whereupon Lord Airlie promptly and
publicly said: "It is all right. You take me for Sir George Campbell.
I am used to it; "for they were extraordinarily alike. [Footnote: Mr.
Gladstone once made exactly the same mistake at a great public meeting
in Scotland in 1879.] In fact, Lord Airlie used to wear his ribbon
oftener than other people chiefly because Campbell had not got one, so
that it formed a distinction, but not a sufficient one, for members of
the House sometimes said to me at parties, "What is that ribbon that
Campbell is wearing?" It must have been a relief to Sir George
Campbell when Lord Airlie died; but it would have been a greater
relief to Lord Airlie had Campbell died first.

'The next day I spent at Lubbock's.... Fitzmaurice, Fawcett, and I
went for a walk to the oak under which Wilberforce decided to abolish
slavery, and, strolling on, came to a stile, where we were doubtful of
our way. Fawcett sat down, and Fitzmaurice, looking for the road,
cried out: "Here comes a clod. We will ask him." The slouching
labourer was Lord Derby, as we recognized with a loud laugh, joined in
with terrific shouting by Fawcett as we privately informed him of the
cause, at which Lord Derby was no doubt astonished. However, he did as
well as the yokel, for he led us towards home. My low opinion of Lord
Derby as a politician does not prevent my thinking that in private he
is a most agreeable man; but his appearance is against him. He took us
round by Holmwood, where Pitt lived, and Hayes, where his father,
Chatham, lived.

'Whitsuntide I spent partly upon the river in my canoe, [Footnote:
Canoeing had at this time taken for him the place of rowing, and he
spent his Sundays on the river.] partly at Lord Derby's, and partly at
Dudbrook, Lady Waldegrave's place in Essex; but the first part of my
holiday was spoiled by a summer flood, although the river was very
beautiful, there being beds of the snowflake or summer snowdrop in
bloom, with large white cups tipped with green. They are all gone now
(1900). [Footnote: One at least grew in the willow thicket by his
house at Dockett Eddy in May, 1911, after his death, close by a
nesting swan--two sights which would have filled him with interest and
joy.] The weather was so cold that Lord Derby called it "winter
dressed in green." He and his wife seemed to me to have come over to
our side with almost indecent violence and suddenness; but to be
called "Titus Oates" in the House of Lords by your relative and
successor is too much. [Footnote: This speech of Lord Salisbury's was
made on July 18th, 1878.] The close family connection between the
Derbys and Lord Salisbury had a great deal to answer for in the
sharpness of the quarrel.

'At the beginning of June I received at my house two distinguished
Frenchmen whom I had not previously known: Edmond About and Coquelin
the actor, the latter introduced to me by Gambetta.'

Coquelin was thus introduced:

'"31 _Mai_, 1879.


'"J'introduis aupres de vous mon ami Coquelin dont vous pourrez
apprecier le charmant esprit, et je vous le recommande sans autrement
faire de phrases, sachant que vous savez a premier vu reconnaitre les
vrais hommes.

'"C'est a l'ami que je confie l'ami,


'About dined with me at the House of Commons on the day on which the
House of Commons met after the Whitsuntide recess; but I did not at
the moment know his peculiarity of being unable to touch any article
of food which contained onion in any form or had been cooked with it,
so that I am afraid I starved him. On June 13th I had prepared
accordingly, and he dined with me, and met all the people who spoke
good French--Leighton, Mitford, Fitzmaurice, Borthwick, Barrington,
Bourke (the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs), Chamberlain--and
Montebello and La Ferronnays of his own Embassy, and Gennadius the
Greek. It was hard to say whether Mitford, Leighton, or Borthwick
spoke the best French. But certainly neither Fitzmaurice, who was a
quarter French, nor the three Frenchmen, could venture to contest
matters with such talkers. I never heard any fault found with
Leighton's French except that it is too good, though I have heard
people declare that his Italian and his German were yet better; but I
myself could see no fault in Mitford's. About naturally came to the
conclusion, not entirely justified by fact, that all Englishmen could
speak French.

'On June 22nd I gave a dinner for Gambetta's friends, Coquelin and
Hecht, at which I had Lord Granville, Lord Lansdowne, Malet,
Montgelas, Lord Reay, Lord Arthur Russell, and Gavard. Lord Granville
was at his very best, shining as he always did when he could talk
French theatre anecdotes to a man playing up to him as could Coquelin.

'I think it was on Thursday night, June 19th (1879), that, about
midnight, Pender brought me a telegram to the House of Commons telling
me that Prince Louis Napoleon had been killed by the Zulus, in order
that I might telegraph it to Gambetta. I did so; and in the morning
received from Gambetta a telegram asking me to repeat my telegram if
it really came from me, evidently thinking that he had been hoaxed in
my name, for my news reached Paris long before the thing was known
there. The Queen was not told till 10.30 a.m., and she then informed
the Empress Eugenie, so that I knew it eleven hours before the poor

On Sunday, June 29th, Sir Charles had stayed at Strawberry Hill. Within
the same week Lady Waldegrave died suddenly. He was among the friends who
went down to see her buried at Chewton, near Chewton Priory, her place in

'Carlingford was present at the funeral, although his condition was
very painful to his friends and he refused to leave the place, and
remained there, with great fortitude but little wisdom, for a long
time, until his nerve was completely gone. He never was afterwards the
same man, and, although Mr. Gladstone put him into his Cabinet in
1881, for friendship's sake, [Footnote: There was another reason: his
intimate knowledge of the details of the Irish Land Question, then the
subject of legislation. He became Lord Privy Seal on the resignation
of the Duke of Argyll.] he had become a broken invalid, and was unable
even to bear the smallest reference to past days or even the sudden
sight of friends who had known him in happier times.'

On July 8th there is a note of dining with Lord and Lady Derby, where were
'Lord Odo Russell and a good many other interesting people; Odo Russell
always easily the first wherever he goes. He told me, what I was glad to
hear, that Bismarck was most favourable to Greece.'

'_July_.--Two Crown Princes were in London at this time, and to both
of them I had to be introduced as the maker of speeches in the House
which they had heard: the Crown Prince of Sweden and the Hereditary
Duke (son of the Grand Duke) of Baden. Like all Kings and Princes,
except the King of Greece, and in later days the Emperor William II.,
they seemed to me heavy men, bored by having to pretend to be
thoughtful persons, and I found that difficulty in distinguishing them
the one from the other, which has always oppressed me in dealing with
Royal personages.'

'At this time I had several interviews with Cardinal Manning, at his
wish, about the Irish primary education question, in which I agreed
with him, differing, however, wholly from him with regard to English
education, which caused him always to reproach me with having what he
playfully called a "geographical conscience."'

'In the many visits that I received from the Cardinal and paid to him
at the end of July and beginning of August, 1879, I was amused by
finding how much he cared for general gossip and even scandal. He
insisted on talking to me about Sarah Bernhardt, and Gambetta, and the
Prince of Wales, and all sorts and conditions of people. He told me
that if he was not Cardinal Archbishop he would stand for Westminster
in the Radical interest. But, Radical though he be in social
questions, he is a ferocious Jingo.'

Manning, unlike almost all other Englishmen of his creed, had a sympathy
for Irish Nationalism. Dilke shared the Cardinal-Archbishop's view as to
the power of Rome in Irish politics, as may be seen from the concluding
sentence of this passage from a letter written by him in August, 1879,
with regard to the Act establishing what was called the Royal University:

"Shaw is a Protestant--a Congregationalist--who once was a preacher
and now is a banker, but he is the leader of the Irish party, and
speaks for the Bishops, as did Butt, who also was a Protestant.
Parnell, too, is a Protestant, curiously enough. Biggar was, but has
turned. I don't think popular feeling is engaged; but you must either
govern through and with the priests--or by force."

Mr. Shaw's day of influence was nearly ended. The revolutionary party--for
they aimed at, and effected nothing less than, a revolution--led by
Parnell in the House and by Davitt in the country, were sweeping away the
staunch adherents of pure constitutionalism, among whom Shaw and Butt were
to be numbered. The Irish party was not the only one which contained
conflicting elements:

'Manning attached more importance to an understanding with me and
Chamberlain than to one with Hartington, and sided with us in the
conflict which followed the scene between Hartington and Chamberlain
on July 7th.'

Sir Charles describes the occurrence, though somewhat toning down a
sufficiently stormy passage:

'What occurred was this: James, who was Hartington's right-hand man,
and absolutely in his confidence, had started a debate on flogging,
and came to us and told us that he quite agreed in our view that much
should be made of it, and that it offered a good opportunity for
getting rid of flogging in the Army, and then went away to dinner. Our
men kept up the debate with a good deal of violence of language; and
then Hartington, strolling in after dinner, and hearing that there was
this obstruction, made a violent attack upon poor Hopwood (the Queen's
Counsel, afterwards Recorder of Liverpool, a member of the Radical
Club) and on those acting with him, for obstruction. Chamberlain, much
nettled by this attack upon our men below the gangway for doing only
that which they had been told to do, got up and ironically referred to
Hartington as "the late leader," and I was stung, by Fawcett clumsily
siding with Hartington, into supporting Chamberlain and Hopwood.

'My talents of diplomacy were called into requisition after the
Hartington-Chamberlain quarrel, and I was very proud of managing to
get through nineteen clauses of the Irish University Bill on the next
day, July 8th, stopping all divisions except one, in which Parnell and
I told together, and got Hartington into our lobby, which was, I
think, a triumph of conciliation.

'Later in the month the Whigs, or men above the gangway, showed great
anger at the completeness of Hartington's surrender to us, which,
indeed, meant more than the immediate conquest, for it involved the
ultimate supersession of Hartington by Gladstone. Harcourt, James, and
Adam [Footnote: The Right Hon. W. P. Adam, afterwards Governor of
Madras.] (the Chief Whip), in giving Chamberlain the victory by
insisting that Hartington should yield, were considering the
constituencies, not the House. As regarded the House, the popularity
of stamping upon us would have been great. There was strong Whig
dislike of our activity, and strong Radical personal hatred among
ourselves. If Chamberlain were to have fought Hartington on any
question on which he had not the Liberal constituencies with him, he
would have got the worst of it; but then he was too wise to stir on
any question on which he could not at least carry all the active
elements of the party in large towns. The anti-Chamberlain set went to
work to get up a banquet to Hartington, and were very cross with me
when I told them that I was certain that the Whips would not let
Hartington accept the banquet unless they obtained Chamberlain's
signature to the requisition. It, of course, turned out as I expected.
Some twenty men said that they would not sign unless Chamberlain did
so, and he was then begged to sign, and, when he did, at once deprived
the manifestation of all significance. It was all rather small and
mean, but when one went to the root of the matter, one saw that the
whole difficulty sprang from the fact that the Whigs had now no
principles. Once upon a time they had had principles, but their
principles had been adopted by the other side, and long before 1879
their distinctive opinions had been taken from them. A party cannot be
dignified and consistent if its chiefs and the mass of its rank and
file have no principles. My own opinion, which I preached on all
occasions, was that the right course in these democratic days was for
leaders to say, "Here are my opinions, but I know that on certain
points they are not those of a majority;" and not to continue to
pretend that all agreed when, as a fact, they differed.

'In a note in my diary upon the question of the leadership I say:
"Harcourt's good points and bad points are both on a large scale.
Childers is too much in city business and in companies to be one of
the leading men in the party in the future. Hartington is too careless
and too much bored to interest others. Gladstone and Bright are old;
Bright 'past'; Gladstone still a great power, and, but for his Scotch
deference to the aristocracy, which is a sad drawback, I could admire
him with little check."

'On July 26th I received from Bradlaugh a letter about his candidature
for Parliament, in which he wrote: "It appears that the so-called
moderate Liberals mean to fight for one seat only at Northampton. I,
therefore, can only fight for myself. This means Phipps's seat sure,
and for the second either Merryweather or Ayrton, and I think the
order expresses--subject to contingencies--the probability. There are
one or two county constituencies and several boroughs where moderate
Liberals will stand who cannot be elected without the votes of my
friends. I am now consulted as to what my friends in such cases ought
to do. Speaking moderately, I think I could surely prevent the return
of five or six moderates, and render doubtful the return of ten or
twelve more. Is it reasonable to expect me to aid actively those who
do me the most possible mischief? I owe no debt of gratitude to anyone
in England ... except the people who love me. May it not be as well
for me this coming election to pick, say, twenty seats and make a few
burnt-offerings by way of example, to show the moderates that I am
strong enough to be worth reckoning with? Pardon me if I am boring you
with a matter in which you have no interest."'

At the close of the Session Sir Charles addressed his constituents--

'with an overwhelming case against the Government, in which I showed
the folly of the pretences which had been put forward as to the Berlin
settlement in Bulgaria and in Asia Minor, of the Anglo-Turkish
Convention, of the occupation of Cyprus, and of the South African
policy; and pointed out the fact that in the year we were spending
fifty millions sterling upon our army and navy, and that if the navy
was in excellent condition, no one would venture to make the same
assertion with regard to our land forces.'

He crossed to France, saw Gambetta in Paris, and also Nubar Pasha, and
went to drink waters at La Bourboule, and on to Le Puy, and thence started
on one of the long tramps by which he came to know France as few
Englishmen have done. He walked across to Vals, 'and so to the Rhone, and
then to my solemn Provencal country--to my mind, a better Italy.'

At Toulon he busied himself with the German history of the nineteenth
century for his projected book, and wrote much to his brother, who was now
hoping to enter Parliament.

'Nubar, who had a quarrel with our Foreign Office, and who had been
expelled from Egypt by the new Khedive, but, as Nubar thought, at the
wish of the French Consul-General, was another correspondent of these
days, destined afterwards to return to be made Prime Minister at the
hands of this same Khedive.'

The Government's sixth year of office was running out, and a General
Election was at hand.

'At the end of the year I had letters describing the state of things
in England from Harcourt, Chamberlain, and Adam. Chamberlain wrote:
"Things look bad for the Tories. We shall have a majority at the next
election. I feel confident." Adam wrote: "As things are at present, we
shall have a majority independent of Home Rulers." Harcourt wrote that
he was unusually dull and stupid: "I feel as if the soul of Northcote
had transmigrated into me, and, if only I had a flaxen beard, I am
sure I should make one of his Midland speeches to admiration.... I
really find nothing new to say. Of course, there is the old story of
Afghanistan, but the latter is already discounted, and it is rather a
ticklish question. I never felt it so difficult to mix a prescription
good for the present feeling of the constituencies.... Depend upon
it, if we are to win (as we shall), it will not be on some startling
cry, but by the turning over to us of that floating mass of middle
votes which went over to the Tories last time, and will come back from
them in disgust at the next election. It is much easier to persuade
the public that the Government are duffers than that we are conjurers.
I shall therefore ... be dull and safe, and not overabusive. That, at
least, is my diagnosis of the treatment the patient requires just
now.... Not having materials for one speech, I have got to make a
second. I must trust to the newspaper abuse of the first to supply me
with materials for the second."'

Sir William Harcourt was too diffident, as his brilliant speeches at
Oxford and elsewhere, full of epigrams, had more effect on the electorate
than any others--not even excepting Mr. Gladstone's speeches in his
Midlothian campaign.

There is no suggestion in the correspondence of the ferment which was
working in Midlothian. Mr. Gladstone was apart from both Whigs and
Radicals in these days.

So closed the last years of Sir Charles's second Parliament. He had played
in it a commanding part in debate upon matters of war and of foreign
policy without abating his activity in domestic politics, such as the
franchise, or flogging in the army, which he helped finally to abolish. No
man could well seem to have fewer enemies or more friends.




By the close of 1879 the Beaconsfield Administration was deeply
discredited. The year had opened with the disaster in the Zulu War at
Isandhlwana; in September came the tragedy at Kabul, when Sir Louis
Cavagnari and his staff were slain by a sudden uprising of the tribesmen;
and though Sir Frederick Roberts fought his way into the Afghan capital on
October 12th, it was only to be beleaguered within the fortifications of

The European situation Sir Charles described to his constituents before
the Session of 1880 opened:

'What, I asked, were they promised in the Treaty of Berlin? Turkey
restored to strength, reformed, and, if reformed, made secure for a
distant future; Greece contented; Russian influence excluded; and the
Balkans fortified as "an impregnable frontier" for Turkey. Very
different were the realities. Turkey had been partitioned; Greece had
not been satisfied; surrender of Turkish territory to Greece, though
it was the one form of surrender which might really have strengthened
Turkey, had been opposed rather than advocated by the British
delegates. Austria, gorged with Bosnia and Herzegovina, was alone

'Of the Asia Minor clandestine convention, it was beyond our power to
fulfil the terms. Russian intrigue would sooner or later create
insurrection in Armenia. The insurrection would be put down by the old
Turkish means, by the old savagery, and our guarantee would prove
useless in face of public opinion at home. The Government had allowed
Russia to gain exactly those things which in the excellent circular of
April 1st, 1878, they had declared that it would be fatal to our
country that she should possess. The Government had proclaimed British
interests in language which I had described as the gospel of
selfishness, but there was not a British interest which was not worse
off for their rule. In Egypt, their policy of joint action with France
was certain to lead to future trouble. Greece was dissatisfied, and
leant on France, and the rising nationalities of South-Eastern Europe
were all alienated from us. Russia was in possession, not only of
Bessarabia, not only of a firm hold over Turkey by the stipulations
with regard to the debt due to her, but of that fortress of Kars and
that port of Batoum which our Government had told us she could not
consistently with British interests be permitted to possess. To add
insult to injury, we were thought such silly children as to believe
that what was left of Turkey had been saved by our plenipotentiaries--
saved in Asia by a bit of paper, and in Europe by an "impregnable
frontier" which was situated in the middle of the Bulgarian country,
and which the Sultan's troops would never be allowed to approach.

'This was a strong indictment, and, as is now seen, it was all true.'

Sir Charles's "indictment" was strengthened by information he had received
as to England's treatment of M. Waddington's circular proposing mediation
between Turkey and Greece, and by the knowledge that the championship of
Greek interests was at this moment being left to France.

'On January 26th I reached Paris on my return from Toulon, and
breakfasted with Gambetta, stupid Spuller remaining with us all the
time. Barrere came to see me, and told me that the late ministerial
crisis in France had had for cause Waddington's refusal to accept
Gambetta's orders to turn out all the reactionaries from the Foreign
Office. "That lock has now been forced." [Footnote: The Waddington
Ministry had fallen in the last days of December, and M. de Freycinet
came into power. M. Camille Barrere was at this time Gambetta's chief
private secretary. Sir Charles had first met him in London during the
Commune. He has had a distinguished career, and is, in 1917,
Ambassador at Rome.] Tissot, French Minister at Athens, and known to
me as having been formerly the representative of the Government of
National Defence in London, when he occupied the Embassy and acted as
an unauthorized Minister, is to be Ambassador at Constantinople, and
Waddington will take the Embassy in London. Barrere has been made
French Commissioner on the European Commission of the Danube, which
enables him for nine months in the year to continue his newspaper work
in Paris. It is true, as stated in the French newspapers, that
Waddington's last circular proposing mediation between Turkey and
Greece was accepted by all the Continental Powers, but not answered by

'On the 27th I breakfasted with Gambetta to meet General Billot,
commanding the Marseille _corps d'armee_, who, in the event of war
occurring between 1887 and 1890, would have been second in command of
the French armies.

'"On the 28th Gambetta, at a private interview, confirmed what Barrere
had said about Greece, regretted that Waddington had proposed to leave
the town of Janina to Turkey, and thought that the French Government
ought to go back to the old position of 'Thessaly and Epirus.' He
added (most confidentially) that as soon as the trouble about 'Article
7' was over Leon Say would come as Ambassador to London." [Footnote:
The double quotes here show that Sir Charles transcribed in his Memoir
a note of the conversation taken at the time.] Leon Say did come, but
Waddington came afterwards, though with some between. Article 7 was,
of course, the Ferry proposal with regard to unauthorized
congregations, which I opposed in conversations with Gambetta, who
supported it as strongly in private as in public. [Footnote: The
'Article 7' referred to was in the Education Bill then under
discussion in the French Assembly. By this article it was proposed
that members of religious bodies which were not recognized by the law
should be forbidden to teach in public or in private schools.] Opinion
in France undoubtedly backed him in his opposition to "Clericalism,"
but I myself continue to think that it was unwise to harry the Church,
although the position of the Government was in accordance with the

'On the same morning I received a letter from Chamberlain inviting
himself to dine with me on February 4th "to discuss the situation."
Chamberlain was strongly opposed to taking Lord Derby in the next
Administration, and determined also, if he could, to shut out Goschen.

'On Wednesday, January 28th, I reached London, and on the 29th saw
Harcourt as to a request which had been made to him by A. M. Sullivan
on behalf of Lord Ramsay, who was standing at Liverpool as the Liberal
candidate, but who had pronounced in favour of Home Rule, to the great
scandal of the country. The Irish members were supposed to be doing
more harm than good by helping him, and were most anxious that someone
from the Liberal Front Bench should give them countenance. Hartington
was strongly opposed to Ramsay's action. Harcourt consented to go, and
went, which must have meant, I think, that he had decided to throw
over Hartington, seeing that Mr. G. was the only possible leader, and
that he did not think that Mr. Gladstone would feel strongly about the
Home Rule pledge. Harcourt told me that Lord Granville and Hartington
intended that Lord Derby should be in the next Government, but found
difficulties, inasmuch as they thought that the land question must be
dealt with, and he was too conservative for the party on it. The Duke
of Argyll was to be left out of the next Cabinet; no one would consent
to become Viceroy of Ireland or Irish Secretary; and there was a
difficulty about the Viceroyalty of India. I suggested Lansdowne for
India, if his wife would go, and it is curious that after many years
he was sent, although sent by the other party. Harcourt said that some
of the older men over whose heads I had passed were very jealous of
me. I said, half in jest: "I believe I am the only English politician
who is not jealous," at which Harcourt laughed very much, and replied:
"We all think that of ourselves." I said: "I mean it."'

The sincerity of that assertion was to be proved within three months. But
he notes in his diary a decision in consequence of Harcourt's warning "to
keep in the background this Session."

'On February 4th Harcourt wrote to me to say that, if I would go to
his house that night, someone from Devonshire House should meet me to
show me the Queen's Speech, as he had to go to Liverpool; Hartington,
he said, was full of approval of my speech.'

The dissolution came suddenly, hastened by the result of a by-election,
which encouraged the Government to believe that the country was with them.
On February 10th Sir Charles dined at Lady Ripon's, where were 'the Duke
of Argyll, Lord Granville, the Childers, and the Hayters.'

'The conversation of the evening turned upon the Southwark election,
where we all knew that the Conservative must win, Clarke (later Sir
Edward Clarke) being a popular Queen's Counsel, an excellent election
speaker, while the Liberals were divided between two bad
candidates.... When the numbers became known to me I wrote in my
diary: "Southwark not quite so bad as I expected, but quite bad
enough." Yet it was this election, which, to anyone who knew the
facts, should have meant nothing, which is supposed to have induced
the Tories to dissolve.' [Footnote: The Conservatives won both the
Liverpool and Southwark elections.]

'Cross drowns the Government,' is Sir Charles's comment on the Return on
the Water Question, for which he now moved; 'the notice contained such a
mass of statistics as to make the return of a very searching character in
its bearing on the agreement that the Home Secretary had come to with the
water companies.' It did frighten Cross, as Mr. Trevelyan had prophesied,
'and the trouble between himself and his colleagues over this question was
the immediate cause of the dissolution.' [Footnote: Mr. Cross, Home
Secretary, had introduced a Bill to provide for the purchase of the
undertakings of the London Water Companies, which was supposed to offer
the companies too favourable terms. Sir Charles notes (July, 1879):
"Manning was getting up a meeting on the water question, and got me to
manage it for him." 'I fancy, indeed,' he adds in his Memoir, 'that it was
the Cardinal who was the indirect cause of the dissolution in the spring
of 1880, for he induced Cross to undertake the purchase of the
Metropolitan Water Supply, and so got him into tangled negotiations.']

Just before the electoral campaign began--

'On March 4th I received a note from Lord Fife asking me to dine with
him on Friday, the 12th, to meet the Prince of Wales at the Prince's
wish. The note was of such a character that it left no choice. When
the dinner came off it turned out well. The Prince laid himself out to
be pleasant, and talked to me nearly all the evening--chiefly about
French politics and the Greek question. The other guests were
Lansdowne, Dunraven, Burnand of _Punch_, Bernal Osborne, and Colonel
Carington, brother of Lord Carrington, a very pleasant member of the
House.' [Footnote: Colonel Carington was M.P. for Wycombe, 1868-1883.]

There was still among leading politicians 'much doubt as to the prospects
of the election,' which Sir Charles found expressed when he spent Sunday,
March 7th, 'at Aston Clinton with the Cyril Flowers, Lord Hartington being
there, and Charles Villiers (at eighty), and Wolff walking over from Tring
Park.' However, on March 15th, Sir William Harcourt wrote from Oxford: "I
have never wavered in my opinion that the Government will be beaten,
though I thought a fortnight ago it would only be a shave."

In his own borough Sir Charles found that there were 580 publicans, and
that 500 of them were Conservative.

'My belief in the influence of the publicans made me hesitate with
regard to Chelsea, where I thought myself not unlikely to be beaten,
but I had a full belief in the success of the party generally. I was
triumphantly returned, bringing in Firth with me, by great majorities
over a clever Tory, Lord Inverurie (afterwards Earl of Kintore, and
Governor of South Australia), and a colonial sheep-farmer, who paid
the cost.'

The result was declared on April 2nd, and Sir Charles, having stayed to
vote in two divisions of Surrey where he owned property, left England for
Toulon on the 7th--a proceeding which separated him from those who were
importunate for office. Before his departure he had dined with Sir William

'I found his ambition to be to ... succeed Lord Selborne as Lord
Chancellor. In order to reach this goal, he would prefer to be
Attorney-General rather than Home Secretary. James, however, cannot
well be anything but Attorney-General. Harcourt would like James to be
Home Secretary, for which James is not fit, but which he would like to
be. If this combination should fail, then Harcourt would like to be
Chancellor of the Exchequer.... He asked me what I should like, and I
told him that I did not expect to be offered a great post, but that if
there were any such chance the Navy was the only one that I should
like.' [Footnote: Sir Charles's view that a Foreign Secretary had
better be in the House of Lords, so long as there is a House of Lords
to put him in, no doubt influenced his preference for the Admiralty.]

In regard to the events which have now to be narrated, it must be
remembered that the Chamberlain of 1880 was not yet the author of any
"unauthorized programme" or any "gospel of ransom." He was admittedly the
controller of the Caucus. It was widely known that he, like Fawcett, had
professed republican principles. But Queen Victoria's objection to Sir
Charles Dilke--and it will be seen how strongly she maintained it--was
based not merely on his avowal of abstract Republican theories, but also
on his very concrete proposal to assert control over the Civil List.
Chamberlain upon this matter was not committed to a personal view, and it
had not yet been demonstrated that whatever position Dilke defended,
Chamberlain would defend also.

A compact laying down the principle of mutual support between the two
Radicals was proposed in a letter written by Chamberlain to Dilke--then at
Toulon--immediately after the General Election had given the Liberals a
sweeping triumph. They came back 349 against 243 Conservatives. Irish
Nationalists were 60, of whom 35 followed Mr. Parnell.

Chamberlain's proposal was in these words:

"The time has come when we must have a full and frank explanation.

"What I should like--what I hope for with you--is a thorough offensive
and defensive alliance, and in this case our position will be
immensely strong.

"I am prepared to refuse all offers until and unless both of us are

"Can you accept this position with perfect satisfaction? If you think
I am asking more than I can give, I rely upon your saying so--and in
this case you may depend on my loyalty and friendship--I shall support
your claim cordially and just as warmly as if I were personally

"But my own feeling is that if you are stronger than I am in the
House, my influence is greater than yours out of it, and therefore
that, together, we are much more powerful than separated; and that in
a short time, if not now, we may make our own terms.

"To join a Government as subordinate members, to be silenced and to
have no real influence on the policy, would be fatal to both of us. If
we both remain outside, any Government will have to reckon with us,
and, on the whole, this would be the position which on many grounds I
should prefer.

"I am ready to make all allowances for the difficulties in the way of
giving to both of us the only kind of places which it would be worth
our while to accept. If these are insuperable, I will give a hearty
support to any Government which is thoroughly liberal in its measures;
but I am not going to play the part of a Radical Minnow among Whig

"The victory which has just been won is the victory of the Radicals.
Gladstone and the Caucus have triumphed all along the line, and it is
the strong, definite, decided policy which has commended itself, and
not the halting, half-hearted, armchair business.... The country feels
it, and we should be mad to efface ourselves and disappoint the
expectations of all our strongest supporters.

From the painting by F. Holl, R.A., in the National Portrait Gallery.]

"You see that my proposed condition is--both of us to be satisfied.

"As to what ought to satisfy us, if you agree to the principle, we
will consult when the time comes, but my present impression is all or

'In other words, Chamberlain's view was that we should insist on both
being in the Cabinet. My own view was that we should insist on one
being in the Cabinet, and the other having a place of influence,
giving him the opportunity of frequent speech in the House of Commons,
pleasant to himself; and my view prevailed.

'On April 19th, Chamberlain wrote again that he had heard from Mr.
Bright that "Mr. Gladstone will take the Premiership if pressed."'

'"I am glad to see that all the papers speak of you as a certainty for
the Cabinet. For myself, I am absolutely indifferent to office, and
the only thing on which I am clear is that I will take no
responsibility which does not carry with it some real power. Another
point on which I have made up my mind is that I will not play second
to Fawcett, or to anyone of the same standing, except yourself."'

On April 22nd, Sir Charles received at Toulon a telegram from Sir William
Harcourt insisting on his immediate return, and he started at once for
London, missing a second urgent telegram from Harcourt on his way. From
Mr. Frederic Harrison he received a letter strongly urging him to claim at
once a place in the Cabinet and 'to lead the new men.' He meant 'the
cultured Radicals; Mr. Bryce and the like.' He urged that the new Left
must have a full place in the Ministry, and that any Liberal Minister must
be pledged to deal with redistribution in the House.

'Hill of the _Daily News_ had written to me that with the exception of
Harcourt everybody thought that Gladstone must be Prime Minister.' Sir
Charles goes on to note a breakfast with Lord Houghton, Renan, Professor
Henry Smith of Oxford, Henry Reeve of the _Edinburgh Review,_ Lord Arthur
Russell, and Lord Reay, at which they

'agreed that Gladstone must be Prime Minister, or would upset the
Government within a year. ... Hill advised that I should take the
Cabinet without Chamberlain if Gladstone was Prime Minister, but
refuse the Cabinet without Chamberlain--_i.e.,_ insist on both being
in the Cabinet--if Hartington was Prime Minister.'

By the night of April 23rd, when Sir Charles reached London, the question
of Mr. Gladstone's primacy was settled, and Ministry-making had begun,
with the decision of Lord Granville to return to the Foreign Office, and
Lord Hartington's consent to act as Secretary of State for India. Mr.
Childers went to the War Office, Lord Northbrook to the Admiralty; Lord
Selborne, most conservative of Whigs, became Lord Chancellor; Lord Spencer
was President of the Council, Lord Kimberley took the Colonies, the Duke
of Argyll the Privy Seal. Sir William Harcourt, who had been called "a
Whig who talked Radicalism," was Home Secretary. Mr. Forster at the Irish
Office, with Lord Cowper as Lord-Lieutenant, did not commend himself
greatly to the advanced party, and Mr. Bright, in returning to the
Chancellorship of the Duchy, brought with him only a tradition of
Radicalism. When it is added that Mr. Dodson was President of the Local
Government Board, ground will be seen for a warning which Sir Charles
received that, although the victory had been forced upon them by the
Radicals almost against their will, the "incorrigible old place-hunters
would, if left to have their own way, appropriate the victory and the
prizes calmly enough to themselves."

On Saturday, April 24th, Sir Charles had two interviews with Sir William
Harcourt, and communicated the result to Chamberlain:

'The position is that Gladstone is in the hands of Lord Wolverton,
[Footnote: As Mr. Glyn he had been Chief Whip.] the evil counsellor of
1874, and that, while a Whig Premier must have had a Radical Cabinet,
Gladstone will say, "You have got me; that is what you asked for," and
will give us a Whig Cabinet. Stansfeld is likely to be in the Cabinet
owing to W. E. Forster's influence, of which I personally shall be
glad. Rosebery is likely to be put in, at which I shall not be
sorry.... Gladstone disapproves strongly of people being put straight
into the Cabinet who have not held office before. This is for
Chamberlain and for me. They are likely to offer me the Under-
Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, which I suppose I shall be unable
to accept. Later in the evening I was informally offered the
Secretaryship of the Treasury, with management of the Government
business in the House. Harcourt at a second interview said that
Gladstone intended pedantically to follow Peel's rule that men should
not be put straight into the Cabinet without going through non-Cabinet
office; and that Chamberlain and I must both take non-Cabinet office;
[Footnote: It is worth noting that Sir Robert Peel himself had
violated this rule if it ever existed.] that he, Harcourt, strongly
advised us to take Under-Secretaryships of which the Secretary was in
the Upper House, or the Secretaryship of the Treasury. He then offered
me the Under-Secretaryship for the Colonies, to which I replied,
"Certainly not." He said, "Remember that with Mr. Gladstone Prime
Minister, the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs will have no chance
to speak, because Gladstone will do all the talking." [Footnote: Sir
William Harcourt's prophecy received frequent confirmation. See
_infra_, pp. 384, 459, 535, and Vol. II., p. 51.] At the same time,
there was evidently another reason behind--namely, that Lord Granville
had sooner have anybody in his office than me; in other words, he
would like me in anybody's office except his own. Harcourt strongly
urged me to take office on personal grounds--namely, in order to get
over the Queen's prejudice, and so succeed naturally to the first
vacancy in the Cabinet. I replied that I had sooner keep my
independence than take office without power. He then said curtly, "It
will not be a pleasant opposition." I said it would not be an
opposition at all, as far as I could see, as I should support the
Government and lead a very quiet, humdrum Parliamentary existence.
Harcourt replied, "That is what is always said." "But I shall not be
cross," was my last word. I telegraphed at night for Chamberlain, who
replied that he would come up at five on Sunday afternoon and dine and
sleep. But I prepared him, and was prepared by him, for a double
refusal of office. In fact, we were decided on refusal of that which
alone was offered.

'On Sunday afternoon, 25th, before seeing Chamberlain, I saw James,
who went to Lord Granville and fully stated my views, reporting to me
afterwards that Lord Granville seemed inclined to come round a little.
James added of Harcourt: "Confound that Home Secretary! How discreet
he is even before kissing hands! I shall live at the Home Office." I
went to Euston to meet Chamberlain. We were fully agreed in our line,
and he remained at my house the next morning, when I was sent for by
Mr. Gladstone through Lord Granville, the note being simply to ask me
to call at four o'clock at Lord Granville's house, where Mr. Gladstone
was. The questions which I put to Chamberlain were--"Is your former
opinion changed by the fact that Mr. Gladstone can, if he likes, do
without us, whereas Hartington could not? Or is it changed by the fact
that Gladstone's Government will last six years, whereas Hartington's
would soon have been modified by Gladstone?" Chamberlain's view was my
own view, that, although we were much weaker, we could not change our
attitude as regards one of us being in the Cabinet. Before seeing Mr.
Gladstone I had calls from Fawcett and Lefevre. Nothing had been
offered to Fawcett; Lefevre had been sounded as to an Under-
Secretaryship, and would take it. He told me he was sure that
Stansfeld would have the Local Government Board again and be in the
Cabinet. Childers came three times to see me in the course of the day,
and said that he was most anxious that I should be in the Cabinet and
Chamberlain in a good place outside it; but that the Queen had made a
difficulty about my Republicanism, and he asked me to write him a
letter about it. I declined to say anything new, but ultimately we
agreed that I should write him a letter marked "Private," in which I
wrote to the effect that on March 13th I had been asked the question
at a meeting, and that my answer had been in the newspapers on March
15th, that it was the same answer which I had made before the election
in 1874, and that I had nothing to alter in it.' [Footnote: The rest
of the letter gave a full account of the incident of Saturday, March
13th, 1880:

"The Tories sent the 'Reverend' W. Pepperell, an ex-dissenting
minister, to a meeting of mine, who asked me 'whether it was true that
I was a republican?' I replied to the effect that 'while as a matter
of speculative opinion I thought that a country starting afresh--as
France after Sedan--would in these days generally do better to adopt a
republican form of government than a limited monarchy, yet that in a
country possessing a constitutional monarchy it would be mere folly to
attempt to upturn it, and consequently folly even to try to disturb
it.' The answer was a very long one, and was nowhere _fully_ reported,
but everything in it was on these lines."]

A copy of this letter was ultimately brought to the Queen, and on May 5th
returned by Sir Henry Ponsonby with the words, "Her Majesty accepts Sir
Charles Dilke's explanation." But Lord Granville, through whom it had been
sent, and who had by that time become Sir Charles's immediate chief,
softened the austerity of this formula by explaining that the Queen in a
private letter had said she was "quite ready to believe all I had told her
about you, having known you as a child."

These preliminary conversations having occupied the morning, Sir Charles
set out after luncheon for the decisive interview.

'When I got to Lord Granville's I found Lord Granville, Lord
Wolverton, and Mr. Gladstone in the room, and Mr. Gladstone at once
offered me the Under-Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs. I asked who
was to be in the Cabinet. I was told Mr. Gladstone, Lord Granville,
Hartington, Harcourt, and Lord Spencer. Further than this, they said,
nothing was settled. I asked, "What about Chamberlain?" Mr. Gladstone
replied to the effect that Chamberlain was a very young member of the
House who had never held office, and that it was impossible to put him
straight into the Cabinet. I then said that this made it impossible
that I should accept the Under-Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, or
any place. Mr. Gladstone said he would see whether anything could be
done, but that he feared not. I then asked whether, supposing that
anything could be done in my direction, I should be excluding Grant
Duff [Footnote: Sir M. Grant Duff had been spoken of for this office
in 1868, and had then in that Ministry become Under-Secretary of State
for India. In 1880 he was--much to Sir Charles's joy--made Under-
Secretary for the Colonies, his chief, Lord Kimberley, being in the
Lords.] from the Under-Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, because I
said that I should be very sorry to do that, for both personal and
public reasons. He replied that if I refused it, it would not be
offered to Grant Duff; and I then left....

'On Tuesday morning Chamberlain was sent for, and accepted a seat in
the Cabinet (with the Presidency of the Board of Trade), and at one
o'clock I accepted the Under-Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs. Just
about this time I received a message from James: "Do, for the sake of
our future comfort, take something. The Bench will be dreadfully dull.
Stansfeld _in_ office must be worse than Stansfeld out." But Stansfeld
was not in office. What had interfered at the last moment to prevent
an appointment which was resolved upon I never knew for certain.
[Footnote: Mr. Stansfeld is generally believed to have refused office
owing to his wish to devote himself entirely to the cause of a special
measure of social reform in which he was interested.] But, as they had
not intended to put Chamberlain in, and I forced him in, I suppose
that Stansfeld was the man who had to make way for Chamberlain.'


So ended the negotiations. The Radical wing had asserted itself, and
asserted itself successfully. It had been enabled to do so by Sir
Charles's action. To him the matter represented the mere carrying out of a
bargain; but friends were, as is natural in such a case, remonstrant, and
he was accused of "needless self-sacrifice," of "Quixotic conduct," of
"self-abnegation," of "your usual disinterestedness in politics," and the
bargain was much criticized. A letter from Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice,
congratulating Sir Charles on the stand he had made, added: "Not that I am
altogether satisfied with the result. I had assumed that as a matter of
course you would be in the Cabinet. I share the universal feeling that of
the two you had the undoubted claim to priority." But this regret was
probably based on more than personal grounds, and may well be read with a
letter written many years afterwards, in July, 1914:

"The real truth is that Dilke was too big a man to be an Under-
Secretary in 1880, and the whole position was a false one. I fancy
Lord Granville felt it to be so. One of his best points was his
readiness to recognize ability. I think he desired Dilke's sphere in
the Office to be as large as possible consistently with the general
arrangements of the Office, but it is always difficult to make special
arrangements work smoothly if they are based on a false principle.

"Dilke ought to have insisted on being in the Cabinet. It was very
much to his honour that he did not do so."

Lord Fitzmaurice goes on to say that in the making of the Cabinet public
opinion would have substituted Sir Charles Dilke for Mr. Dodson, who, in
spite of his work as Chairman of Committees from 1868 to 1873, and
afterwards as Secretary to the Treasury--("he would have made an excellent
Speaker")--had done but little in the House for the party in the long
period of Opposition from 1874 to 1880.

A mistake had, in fact, been made. The strong man should be put where his
services can avowedly be best utilized. This statement is true of
Chamberlain. He was, as the _Times_ put it, "the Carnot of the moment, the
organizer of Liberal victory." [Footnote: Neither Sir Charles Dilke nor
Mr. Chamberlain would, however, have desired to underrate the great share


Back to Full Books