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

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suffrage. This was no mere academic opinion; and he gave later on proof of
his earnestness for the principle involved in convincing fashion.

To the argument still urged against that principle--the argument that most
women are against it--he gave his answer in 1870:

"You will always find that in the case of any class which has been
despotically governed--and though I do not wish to use strong
language, it cannot be denied that women have been despotically
governed in England, although the despotism has been of a benevolent
character--the great majority of that class are content with the
system under which they live."

He pointed out that to admit women to the franchise did not compel those
to vote who did not desire to do so.

In this matter Jacob Bright was his leading associate in Parliament; but
outside Parliament he was working with Mill.

To the two questions already dealt with--Education and Woman's Suffrage--
was now added a third, which Sir Charles describes as 'chief of all the
questions I had to do with in 1870--the land question.' There is this
endorsement on one of Mill's letters written in 1870:

"I acted as his secretary for above a year on (_a_) his land movement
= taxation of land values; (_b_) the women's suffrage proposal, which
followed the carrying of his municipal franchise for women by me in
1869 and the School Boards, 1870."

The Radical Club was founded, with Sir Charles as Secretary, in 1870, and
Mill was among the original members of the Club. [Footnote: The others
were Professor Cairnes, Mr. John Morley, Mr. Frank Hill (editor of the
_Daily News_), Leslie Stephen, Mr. Leonard Courtney, Mr. Henry Sidgwick,
Mr. W. C. Sidgwick, Mr. McCullagh Torrens, and Mr. Fawcett. Sir David
Wedderburn, Mr. Peter Taylor, and Mr. Walter Morrison were added at the
first meeting, as also was Mr. Hare. At the first meeting it was decided
that women should be eligible. Half the Club was to consist of members of
Parliament, half of non-members.] From this platform Mill propounded, in
1870, his views on land--views which forty years later became the adopted
principles of the Liberal party; and at the inaugural public meeting of
the Land Tenure Association in 1870 Sir Charles for the first time
promulgated the doctrine of taxing the "unearned increment." He insisted
that England's system of land tenure was "unique in the world," and
answerable for tragic consequences.

"One who has seen our race abroad under fair conditions knows how
frank and handsome the Englishman is elsewhere, and might be here. But
when he looks around him in Sheffield or in East London, he sees none
but miserable and stunted forms. The life of the English labourer is a
steady march down a hill with a poorhouse at the bottom. At the same
time the observer finds, when he asks for the remedy, that in these
matters there is not a pin to choose between the two parties in the
State." [Footnote: A note sent to Lord Courtney in 1909 will show
exactly what Sir Charles's position had been on this fundamental
matter from the very outset of his political career:

"Mill's object was--

"To claim for the benefit of the State the interception by
taxation of a great part of the unearned increase of the value of
land which is continually accruing, without effort or outlay by
the proprietors, through the growth of population and wealth.

"To purchase land for the State, and let for co-operative
agriculture under conditions of efficiency and to smallholders on
durable cultivating interests."

He adds a reference to his own Bill "for utilizing public and quasi-
public lands under public management, with repeal of the Statute of
Mortmain and forbidding of alienation."

This Bill was introduced by him in the early seventies, but obtained
no support till 1875 (see Chapter XIII., p. 192).]

Within the previous twenty-five years over six hundred thousand acres of
common land had been enclosed, under Orders sanctioned by Parliament. Of
this vast amount only four thousand had been set apart for public
purposes. In 1866 the commons near London were threatened, and a Society
for their preservation was formed, in which Mr. Shaw Lefevre was the
moving spirit. [Footnote: Now Lord Eversley.] Sir Charles became in 1870
Chairman of the Society. Among the latest of his papers is a note from
Lord Eversley accompanying an early copy of the new edition of his
_Commons and Forests_ "which I hope will remind you of old times and of
your own great services to the cause." 'We saved Wisley Common and Epping
Forest,' says the Memoir. It was more important that on April 9th, 1869,
the annual Enclosure Bill was referred to a Select Committee,
notwithstanding the determined opposition of the Government. The date is
memorable in the history of the question, for the Committee recommended
that all further enclosures should be suspended until the general Act had
been amended, as it was in 1876.

About the same time Sir Charles became publicly committed to another
cause, barren of political advantage, into which he put, first and last,
as much labour as might have filled the whole of a creditable career. He
began to take an active part in connection with the Aborigines Protection
Society and presided at its Annual Meeting in 1870. This, says the Memoir
laconically, 'threw on me lifelong duties.'


The Franco-German War broke upon Europe in July, 1870. Later, it became
one of the chief interests of Sir Charles's mind to track out the workings
of those few men who prepared what seemed a sudden outburst; here it is
important only to outline his attitude towards the combatants. In that
period of European history every politician was of necessity attracted or
repelled by the personality of the Emperor of the French. In Sir Charles's
case there was no wavering between like and dislike: he carried on his
grandfather's detestation of the lesser Napoleon. The chapter in _Greater
Britain_ which is devoted to Egypt shows this feeling; and when news of
Sadowa reached him during his American journey in the autumn of 1866, he
wrote home to say that he rejoiced in Prussia's triumph, and hoped "Louis
Napoleon would quarrel with the Germans over it, and get well thrashed,
with the result that German unity might be brought about."

'This' (he notes in the Memoir) 'is somewhat curious at a time when
everybody believed (except myself and Moltke and Bismarck, not
including, I think, the King of Prussia) that the French Army was
superior to the armies of all Germany.'

In coming down the Mexican coast he touched at Acapulco, which was under
Mexican fire, as the French still held the bay and city; and he had then,
later in 1866, 'begun to hope for the fall of Louis Napoleon, who was
piling up debt for France at the average rate of ten millions sterling
every year, and whose prestige was vanishing fast in the glare of the
publicity given to the actions of Bazaine.'

Before Sir Charles returned to Europe in 1867, Maximilian, the Austrian
Archduke sent by Napoleon III to be 'Emperor of Mexico,' had fallen, an
unlucky victim of French intrigue. But Paris was still the centre of
Europe; and the traveller on his way home from Egypt--where he had seen
French enterprise opening the Suez Canal, French language and influence
dominant--saw Louis Napoleon preside at a pageant, already darkened by the
rising storm-cloud:

'Reaching Paris' (in June, 1867), 'I attended the review held (during
the Exhibition of 1867) by the Emperors of Russia and of the French,
and the King of Prussia, at which I saw Gortschakof, Schouvalof,
Bismarck, and Moltke, on the day on which the Pole Berezowski shot at
Alexander II. Sixty thousand men marched past the three Sovereigns at
the very spot at which, three years later, one of them was, to review
a larger German force. The crash was near; Maximilian had been shot.
It is, however, not pleasant to contrast the horror with which the
news of the execution of the puppet Emperor was received in Europe,
with the indifference with which all but a handful of Radicals had
regarded the Paris executions of December, 1851.'

'In October, 1867, three months later, I again visited Paris, with my
father, and made the acquaintance of the Queen of Holland, the Queen
of Sheba to Louis Napoleon's Solomon in his glory. The Emperor of
Austria, the King of Bavaria, and Beust were also in Paris on business
which boded no good to Bismarck, and the populace were amusing
themselves in crying "Vive Garibaldi!" to the Austrian Emperor, as
three or four months earlier they had cried "Vive la Pologne!" to the
Tsar. At a banquet to the Foreign Commission to the Exhibition, at
which I dined, I heard Rouher make his famous speech, "L'Italie n'aura
jamais Rome," which he afterwards in December repeated in the Corps
Legislatif--"L'Italie ne s'emparera pas de Rome--jamais" (shouts of
"Jamais!" from the Right): "Jamais la France ne supportera cette
violence faite a son honneur et a la catholicite." When I heard the
word "jamais," I believed I should live to see Italy at Rome, but
hardly so soon.'

His governing dislike of France's rulers had reflected itself in that part
of his first address to the electors of Chelsea which laid down his views
on foreign affairs. "Our true alliance," he had told them, "is not with
the Latin peoples, but with men who speak our tongue, with our brothers in
America, and with our kinsmen in Germany and Scandinavia." This
prepossession, notable in one who came afterwards to be regarded as the
closest friend of France among English politicians, shaped his action when
the crash came. It tempted him to the German side, but contact with
Prussian militarism showed where his real sympathies lay.

War was declared on Tuesday, July 19th. On the following Saturday morning
Sir Charles left London for Paris: left Paris for Strasbourg the same
evening: visited Metz on the Monday, and saw the Imperial Guard at Nancy.
Within four days from the time of leaving he was back in London, and busy
with preparations. He had decided to attach himself to the ambulances of
the Crown Prince of Prussia's army, and in this expedition two other
members of Parliament joined him:

'Auberon Herbert (physically brave, and politically the bravest,
though not politically the strongest, man of our times) and
Winterbotham, afterwards Under-Secretary of State for the Home
Department, and a man of eloquence, whose early death is still
deplored by those who knew him. We took letters from Count von
Bernstorff, the Prussian Ambassador, and following up the German
armies through the Bavarian Palatinate, a journey during which we were
arrested and marched to Kaiserslautern to the King's headquarters by
Bavarian gendarmes, as French spies, we were enrolled under the
Prussian Knights of St. John at Sulz by Count Goertz, and received
billets from that time, although we used to pay for all we had at
every place. At Wissembourg and at Sulz we were sent to the inn, and
at Luneville I was planted on an ironmonger, but we were divided. At
Nancy only, being fixed on a legitimist Baron, I was not allowed to
pay for what I had, but I was put with him by his wish, by his friend
the Mayor, as he would not have real Prussians. He made things so
unpleasant for my companion, Count Bothmer--though, unlike his
brother, the Count was a non-combatant--that this Knight of St. John
had to go elsewhere. Auberon and Winterbotham were also put elsewhere
at Nancy. At Sarrebourg and Pont-a-Mousson I forget with whom we were,
but we were together and were nearly starved.

'We marched with the Poseners, or Fifth Army Corps, through
Froeschwilier and Reichshoffen; went off the road to Saverne to
witness the bombardment of Phalsbourg; joined again at Sarrebourg;
marched by Luneville, and from Nancy were sent to Pont-a-Mousson
during the battles before Metz.

'The first thing that struck us much during this portion of the war
was that the grandest of the early victories in this so-called war of
races, the Battle of Worth, was won and lost in the centre of the
position by pure Poles and native Algerians. Poseners were arrayed
against Turcos, and both fought well, while hardly a German or a
Frenchman was in sight. On the field of Worth I noted that the
Poseners had all many cartridges as well as their Polish hymn-books
with them, but the Turcos were as short of cartridges as of hymn-
books. Wanting a French cartridge, I was unable to find one in the
pouches of the dead, while of German cartridges I had at once as many
dozens as I pleased. I fancy, however, that it would not be safe to
conclude, from the fact that the French had fired away their
ammunition, that they fired carelessly because too fast; for the
Germans, vastly outnumbering the French (who ought not to have fought
a battle, but rather should have fallen back), had probably opposed at
different portions of the day different corps to the same French
regiments, who had not been relieved. After this battle all was lost
to the French cause. The scattered French spread terror where they
went, and while the railway might have been wholly destroyed by the
simple plan of blowing up some tunnels, only bridges were blown up,
which in the course of a few days were, of course, replaced even where
they were not in a few hours easily repaired....

'I was glad to have seen the beginning of the invasion. At no other
time could I have gained a real knowledge of that which every
politician ought to know--the working of the transport system of a
modern army. We were the smaller of the two invading forces, yet we
needed a stream of carts the whole way to Nancy from Bingen upon the
Rhine, perpetually moving day and, night. The French compared the
swarming in of Germany to the invasions of the Huns....

'My letters to my grandmother (by the military field post) were not
numerous. My first (written from Wissembourg) states that we are much
elated at the victory of Wissembourg; while the second is as follows:

'"I write on paper left by the French in the Palace of Justice. They
seem to have fled in haste, for... the judges' pen-and-ink portraits
of one another still adorn the blotting-paper. This place
(Wissembourg) is in much confusion.... When, by straining, and a good
deal of pressure upon the members of the old French municipal council,
a regiment is housed, in comes another with a demand for food and
lodging for six hundred horses and four hundred men; then a Prussian
infantry regiment two thousand strong, and so on all night.... We are
leaving as members of the Prussian Order of St. John for the Bavarian
camp. The whole series of French telegrams up to July 30th are still
posted here on the Sous-Prefecture, inside which is confined Baron de
Rosen, Colonel of the 2nd Cuirassiers of the French Guard." I go on to
say that the "town commandant is an English volunteer and lives in
London when at home.... He is a most accomplished man." He was
accomplished enough, but he was a lunatic; and there is no more
singular episode in the war than the fact that an unauthorized lunatic
should have appointed himself to the command of an important depot,
and been recognized for at least a week as commandant by all the
authorities. The fact was that no regiment was stopping many hours in
the town, and that each Colonel, finding a particular person
established there, although he may have thought him a curious
commandant, never thought of questioning his authority.

'One of my letters appeared in the _Daily News_. It was dated August
15th, and prophesied the complete destruction of the French armies,
and it contained a somewhat amusing paragraph:

'"In our march last night we came into a part of the country
unoccupied by either army. We were twice driven from villages by the
Mayors, who seemed at their wits' end in the mazes of international
law. One said to us: 'This town is not Prussian. It is French, and
martial law is proclaimed in this part of France. Accordingly I must
tell you that you need a French military safe-conduct. If you stop
here without it I must arrest you, and send you'--he thought for a
while--'to the Prussian Commandant at Sarrebourg.'" At Nancy I saw the
Crown Prince, Dr. Russell of the _Times_, Mr. Hilary Skinner of the
_Daily News_, and Mr. Landells of the _Illustrated London News_, who
afterwards died of rheumatism caused by exposure in the war. Lord
Ronald Gower was there on the same day, but was sent away, as his
presence with Dr. Russell as a guest was unauthorized.

'Among our adventures, in addition to our arrest near Kreuznach and to
our obtaining passes from the maniac commandant, was the adventure of
our being lost in the Vosges, and nearly coming to be murdered by some
French peasants, who in the night tried to force their way into the
village school in which we had barricaded ourselves. Another adventure
was our being nearly starved at Pont-a-Mousson, where at last we
managed to buy a bit of the King of Prussia's lunch at the kitchen of
the inn on the market-place at which it was being cooked in order to
be placed in a four-in-hand break. While we were ravenously gorging
ourselves upon it, a man burst into the room, and suddenly exclaimed:
"Winterbotham!" It was Sir Henry Havelock, who was hiding in the
place, being absent without leave from the Horse Guards, where he was,
I think, an Assistant Quartermaster-General. He had made friends with
the Prussian Military Attache, to whom Bismarck had lent his maps, and
we thus saw them and learnt much. It was on the same day that Bismarck
himself was nearly starved. The first part of the story had appeared
in print, and I asked him about it when I was staying with him in
September, 1889. He told me that he had with him at his lodging the
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg and General Sheridan, the American cavalry
officer. Bismarck had gone out to forage, and had succeeded in finding
five eggs, for which he had paid a dollar each. He then said to
himself: "If I take home five, I must give two to the Grand Duke and
two to Sheridan, and I shall have but one." "I ate," he said, "two
upon the spot and took home three, so that the Grand Duke had one, and
Sheridan had one, and there was one for me. Sheridan died: he never
knew--but I told the Grand Duke, and he forgave me."'

No turn of fortune any longer seemed possible, and in Sir Charles's mind
hatred of the Emperor began to be replaced by sympathy for France.

'Writing on the day of Gravelotte to my grandmother, I said: "I have
no notion how I shall get back.... Perhaps I shall come from Paris
when we take it, as I suppose we shall do in a week or two." Such was
the impression made on me by the rapidity of the early successes of
the Germans. My feelings soon changed. Winterbotham continued to be
very German, but Herbert and I began to wish to desert when we saw how
overbearing success had made the Prussians, and how determined they
were to push their successes to a point at which France would have
been made impotent in Europe....

'During the week which followed Gravelotte I saw much of Gustav
Freytag, the celebrated Prussian writer and politician, who was the
guest of the Crown Prince. This "Liberal," who had the bad taste to
wear the Legion of Honour in conquered France, was odious in his
patriotic exultation.

'Bringing back with me nothing but a couple of soldiers' books from
the field of Worth, and the pen of the Procureur-Imperial of
Wissembourg, which still hangs outside my room, I got myself sent to
Heidelberg in charge of a train full of wounded French officers of
Canrobert's Division, wounded at the Battle of Mars la Tour on August
16th, but not picked up until after Gravelotte on August 18th. It was
the first train back; and as there was no signal system, and we had to
keep a lookout ahead, it took me two days to reach the German
frontier. We halted for the night at Bischweiler, and, passing through
Hagenau, were received at the frontier of the Palatinate by a young
man who came and spoke to every French officer, and asked after his
wounds, introducing himself at each compartment by saluting and
saying: "Je suis le duc Othon de Baviere." This pleasant boy was
afterwards to show the hereditary madness of his unhappy race. One of
my prisoners was a Nancy man, and at this station I managed to find a
boy who ran to his house, and brought down his old nurse with wine and
food. It was a touching scene of a simple kind, and we were all the
gainers by the officer's hospitality.

'From Heidelberg and Karlsruhe, where I was examined as a spy, I made
my way by Switzerland and Paris to London. Almost the moment I reached
London I saw a telegram in an evening paper announcing Sedan. I
started that evening for Paris, accompanying Major Byng Hall, who
carried despatches to Lord Lyons. We were the first to bring the news
to Calais, where it was not believed, and we were mobbed in the
railway-station. Old Byng Hall put his hand on his heart, and assured
the crowd upon his honour that, though he was very sorry, it was true.

'On the morning of September 4th, my birthday and that of the French
Republic, I was standing in Paris with Labouchere, afterwards the
"Besieged Resident," in front of the Grand Hotel upon the Boulevard in
an attitude of expectation. We had not long to wait. A battalion of
fat National Guards from the centre of Paris, shopkeepers all, marched
firmly past, quietly grunting: "L'abdication! L'abdication!" They were
soon followed by a battalion from the outskirts marching faster, and
gaining on them to the cry of "Pas d'abdication! La decheance! La
decheance!" It was a sunny cloudless day. The bridge leading to the
Corps Legislatif was guarded by a double line of mounted Gardes de
Paris, but there were few troops to be seen, and were indeed very few
in Paris. We stood just in front of the cavalry, who were perhaps
partly composed of mounted Gendarmerie of the Seine, only with their
undress _kepis_ on, instead of the tall bearskins which under the
Empire that force wore.... Labouchere kept on making speeches to the
crowd in various characters--sometimes as a Marseillais, sometimes as
an Alsatian, sometimes as an American, sometimes as an English
sympathizer; I in terror all the while lest the same listeners should
catch him playing two different parts, and should take us for Prussian
spies. We kept watching the faces of the cavalry to see whether they
were likely to fire or charge, but at last the men began one by one to
sheathe their swords, and to cry "Vive la Republique!" and the Captain
in command at last cried "Vive la Republique!" too, and withdrew his
men, letting the crowd swarm across the bridge. So fell the Second
Empire, and I wished that my grandfather had lived to see the day of
the doom of the man he hated.

'The crowd marched across the bridge singing the "Marseillaise" in a
chorus such as had never been heard before, perhaps, for the throng
was enormous. After ten minutes' parley inside the Chamber the leaders
returned from it, and chalked up on one of the great columns the names
of the representatives of Paris declared to constitute the Provisional
Government, and I drew the moral--on a day of revolution always have a
bit of chalk. The crowd demanded the addition of Rochefort's name, and
it was added. We then parted, one section going off to look for Paul
de Cassagnac, [Footnote: M. Paul de Cassagnac was a conspicuous
Imperialist.] who was the only man that the crowd wanted to kill.

'I went with the others, first to the statue of Strasbourg, which was
decorated with flowers, and to which a sort of worship was paid on
account of the gallant defence of the city, Labouchere making another
speech, and then on to the Tuileries. A Turco detained us for some
time at the gates by dancing in face of the crowd. But at last they
insisted on the private gardens being thrown open, and then swept in,
and we passed through the whole of the apartments. Privates of the
National Guard stationed themselves as sentries in all the rooms, and
not a thing was touched, an inscription proclaiming "Death to thieves"
being chalked upon every wall. Precautions were necessary, for the
police, knowing themselves to be unpopular, had disappeared. Indeed
the first proof to me in the early morning of the certainty of a
revolution had been that on the boulevards the squads had passed me,
relieving themselves in the usual way, but no squads going to take
their places. The crowds were orderly, but the eagles, of course, were
broken down, and a bit of one from the principal guardroom hangs still
on the wall of my London study. The next day I wrote to my
grandmother: "I would not have missed yesterday for the world. Louis
Blanc and other exiles have come over, but I fear that the great
northern line will be cut by Wednesday, and then you will get no more
news from me."

'I had dined with Lord Lyons on the previous evening in such a costume
as had never till then been seen at dinner at the Embassy, and had
listened with him to the bands playing the "Marseillaise" and "Mourir
pour la Patrie," and on the morning of the 5th I had seen Louis Blanc.
On the 6th I wrote that I feared that my letters would be stopped. In
the course of the following days I visited all the forts with Alfred
Tresca, of the Arts et Metiers, who had been set by Government,
although a civil engineer, to organize the bastion powder-magazines,
so I saw the defences well. Alfred Tresca was afterwards arrested
while I was in Paris under the Commune, in the first week in April,
1871, for refusing to point out where his powder was.

'I did not believe in food being got in fast enough to enable Paris to
hold out long. Knowing as I do that the German cavalry were within 100
miles of Melun for a fortnight before they cut the Lyons line, I
consider that to have allowed the French its use was a great error on
the part of Germany, an error equal to that of letting Canrobert's
army join Bazaine by Frouard Junction without hindrance on August
13th, when we were already in Nancy, only five miles off. Both errors
turned out well enough, as the luck of the Germans had it; but I do
not believe that anyone now realizes the narrowness of the escape that
the Prussians had of being crushed by Gambetta. They undertook too
much when, with 210,000 men (at first), they set themselves to besiege
Paris, which had in it 500,000 (though of bad material and no
discipline), with 300,000 more French upon the Loire. The Germans
succeeded, but I believe, with the French, that if Bazaine had held
out a fortnight longer they must have failed....

'What was done in thirteen days at Paris was wonderful. It is to Jules
Favre and to Gambetta that France owed the exhaustion of the Germans
by a siege in 132 days, instead of a collapse in ten days, and it is
to them, therefore, that they nearly owed success--success which would
have crowned Gambetta a king of men, though he had done no more than
what, as it is, he did. I had an interview with Jules Favre [Footnote:
Jules Favre was at this time Vice-President of the Provisional
Government for National Defence with the Portfolio of Foreign
Affairs.] at the Foreign Office one morning at 6 a.m. I also met
Blanqui, [Footnote: Blanqui, well known as an agitator and
revolutionary writer, was elected to Parliament in 1871 for
Montmartre. He was disqualified from membership by various judicial
condemnations, but "the Chamber decided to invalidate his election by
solemn vote, instead of accepting as his disqualification the recital
of the sentences passed on him depriving him of political rights"
(_France_, by J. E. C. Bodley, vol. ii., p. 101). Theirs had him
arrested and imprisoned.] afterwards too famous, at breakfast at Louis
Blanc's restaurant (opposite the old Town Hall), the headquarters of
the Reds. Naquet, the hunchback, now known for his divorce law, was
also there.

'On one of the last sad days before the commencement of the siege
(Vinoy's or) Ducrot's army crossed Paris, and the 30,000 men which
formed it marched down the Rue Lafayette, across the Place de l'Opera,
and down the Rue de la Paix towards the south-western heights, where
they afterwards ran away on September 19th. I never saw a more
depressing sight. I stood all day and through the evening in the rain,
comparing these wretched, draggled, weary, dejected men, on the one
hand, with the French troops I had seen at Nancy six weeks earlier,
and, on the other, with the Prussian Fifth Army Corps I now knew so
well. Troops, however, cannot be always judged by the eye alone, for
the Bavarians, who fought admirably throughout the war, when I saw
them on the march at the beginning of it looked so bad that I expected
daily to see the whole 60,000 of their two strong corps eaten up by
the single French corps which I knew was just in front of them. This
French corps was commanded by de Failly, who had commanded three years
earlier a mixed Papal and French force against Garibaldi at Mentone,
near Monte Rotondo, and reported: "Les chasse-pots ont fait

'The day before I left Paris I saw a sergeant of foot surrounded by a
crowd of roughs. He was explaining to them that he was an Alsatian. "I
come from down there. They have eaten my cow!" "Ah," cried the witty
Paris crowd, "if they had only eaten _Leboeuf!_" The Marshal was
looked upon in Paris as the cause of the war in virtue of his
influence with the Empress.

The investment of Paris was completed on September 15th, and on the
16th 'I parted from Louis Blanc, who was despondent, and to whom I was
able to give no reassuring words, for I had seen the wonderful
organization of the Germans. I left by the southern station for
Geneva. Thousands of packing-cases encumbered the courts, the luggage
abandoned by the women and children flying from Paris. At Villeneuve
St. Georges the French marines were drawn up in skirmishing order, and
the enemy's cavalry were in sight. Our train was the last but one
which passed, but we could, if stopped, have left Paris two days later
by the Rouen line, although on the 18th the trains by that last line
were fired at. I wrote home that I could not help thinking of one of
the plays of Aristophanes, in which a peasant wings his way to heaven
on the back of a gigantic dung-beetle in order to remonstrate with God
upon the evils which He has inflicted upon man by war, and finds that
God is out, and that His place has been taken by a devil, who is
pounding all the powers together in a mortar.

'I went to Lyons, where the red flag was flying from the Town Hall,
but where the feeling in favour of continuing the war was just as
strong as in the districts of the tricolour. I then crossed France to
Tours, where I saw M. Cremieux, a Jew, the representative of the
Government outside Paris, Gambetta not having yet descended from his

'I visited the camp of the Army of the Loire, of which the
organization was commencing, saw Lord Lyons and Sheffield, his
secretary, near Tours, and took despatches for them to Calais by Rouen
and Amiens. They included the correspondence of Mme. de Pourtales and
Mme. de Metternich. The railways were in terrible confusion--National
Guards moving, people flying before the Prussians, no food. I was
three days and three nights on this little bit of road, and slept on
tables in waiting-rooms at Vierzon and elsewhere. Passports were
strictly demanded at this time on leaving as well as on entering
France. When I reached Calais I found that the boat (and even that
boat one with no passengers) would leave about 4 a.m., after the
arrival of mails by sea. The inspection of my passport could only take
place, I was told, when the boat was starting. It was midnight, the
gates of the town were shut and drawbridges up, and the hotel at the
station had been closed for lack of visitors. Watching my time, I
dropped on board the steamer from off the quay, when the
coastguardsman's head was turned, and, finding a deck-cabin unlocked,
I popped in and bolted the door, going fast asleep, and woke only when
we were outside the harbour in the grey light of early morning, which
shows that passport regulations can be evaded. All through the war
Prussian spies could get into France with ease, without any need of
false papers, by visiting the Savoy coast of Lake Leman as Swiss
peasants. I was not called upon to show my papers when I passed from
the Germans to the French by way of Basle, Ouchy, and Evian.'

Sir Charles here concludes the story of his French adventures of this year
by giving his judgment of that moment upon the--

'events which will never be forgotten by those of my time ... the
downfall of the most magnificent imposture of any age--the Second

'As I noted in my diary at the time, "it is possible that the
Bonapartists may raise their heads again, though if so, it is more
likely to be under Plon-Plon than under the Empress, an impossible
woman, whom even her son would have to exile should he come to the
throne. But the 'Sphinx' who dominated Europe for so long is fallen,
and it seems that my grandfather and dear old Kinglake were right, who
always said that he had long ears and was a sorry beast after all. Now
Europe thinks so, except the Rothschilds and the _Daily Telegraph_.
What will future ages say of the shameful story of the _coup d'etat_
of 1851, of the undermining of the honour of every officer in the
French Army by promises of promotion for treachery to the nation, of
France ruined by the denying of all advancement to those who had not
Court favour, of the Morny war in Mexico--of Maximilian, abandoned
after having been betrayed, of the splendour of the Guards and of the
Imperial stables, of the plundering, of the degradation of justice, of
the spying by everybody on everybody else? What a sad farce the whole
thing was, but how seriously Europe took it at the time!"'




In September, 1870, shortly after the Siege of Paris had begun, the
Russian Chancellor, Gortschakof, intimated to the Powers that the Tsar
proposed to repudiate that article in the Treaty of Paris which declared
the Black Sea neutral, forbade Russia to build arsenals on it, and limited
her fleet there to six small vessels. [Footnote: Treaty of Paris, July
13th, 1856 (Hertslet's _Treaties_, vol. xiv., p. 1172).] This particular
article had been specially demanded by England; and when France, desirous
of closing the Crimean War, spoke of yielding to Russia's resistance,
Palmerston had declared that without this stipulation England and Turkey
must carry on the war alone.

Sir Charles, on this matter as on many others, inclined to the
Palmerstonian tradition, which was certainly neither that of Mr. Gladstone
nor of Lord Granville. But Lord Granville gave him introductions for his
projected second journey to Russia, and charged the young Liberal member
with the task of representing the Cabinet's views:

"In talking to Russians I hope that you will say that we are about the
most peaceable Ministry it is possible for England to have, but we are
determined not to put up with any indignity. On the other hand, we
greatly regret any stop to increasing good relations between the two
countries, and shall be glad to make them even more cordial than
before if we are properly treated."

He added the request that Sir Charles would write him first-hand
impressions of the situation in Russia.

From St. Petersburg Sir Charles, in November, 1870, went to Moscow, where
he lived with the Mayor, Prince Tcherkasky, 'who afterwards became
Governor of Bulgaria, and died at San Stefano, just after the signature of
the Treaty.' He was thus brought into touch with 'the political intrigues'
of the moment:

'The Imperial Prince, who was afterwards Alexander III., was no
stranger to them. Alexander II. was, like his grandfather Alexander
I., a German and a dreamer, as well as melancholy mad. His son, the
Imperial Prince, like his grandfather Nicholas and like Paul, was both
violent and sulky; but he was patriotic, and had at this time the
sense to put himself in the hands of the Moscow men.'

"It is satisfactory to know that the antagonism of an heir-apparent to the
reigning Sovereign docs not depend on race or climate," was, says Sir
Charles, Lord Granville's comment on this description.

'It was an interesting moment, and no foreign residence of my life was
ever more full of the charm which attaches to the development of new
political situations. The Emperor Alexander II. had fallen back from a
most brilliant early part of his reign into its second period, which
saw the rise of his unpopularity and the birth of Nihilism. He had
become frightened, had not perhaps lost all his good intentions, but
become too terrified to escape political reaction. His son, afterwards
Alexander III., was, as often happens in despotisms, glorified by a
popularity which he afterwards did not retain. When I saw the heir-
apparent at his palace he seemed to me to be a hard-working, stupid
man, and I never afterwards was able during his reign to divest myself
of this first impression.

'Of all those that I met in Russia, the ablest were the two brothers
Miliutine. The General, I think, survived his brother by a long time,
and continued to be Minister of War for years after his brother's
death; but the brother, the Miliutine of the reorganization of Poland
after the last Polish insurrection, who was when I knew him half
paralyzed in body but most brilliant in mind, struck me as being more
full of ideas than any man I have ever met. His inferior brother was,
though inferior, nevertheless a good Minister of War.

'The Miliutines were Liberals. The leader of the high Tory party of my
time was an equally remarkable man, Count Tolstoi, the iron
representative of iron Toryism, of perfect honesty, in whom energy and
strength were not destroyed by prejudice. He was the most ideal
minister of despotism that autocracy has produced, representing the
principles of order and authority with more ability than is generally
found in leaders of his type. He was intensely hated by the
Universities and by most of those, chiefly Liberals, with whom he
lived. But although he is said by his terrorism to have created
Nihilism, I am far from being convinced that any other course was
possible to the Russian Empire, and if this course was to be taken, he
took it well. In modern times there never was so unpopular a Minister,
and when, in after years, Alexander III. recalled him to power as
Minister of the Interior, one could not but feel that the break
between the principles acted on by this Sovereign as Emperor, and
those which he had honestly professed when heir-apparent, was

'I not only well knew Jomini, but I had made the acquaintance in 1868
in London (and renewed it at a later date) of his colleague Vlangali,
at that time as truly brilliant and as supple as Jomini himself,
though as silent as Jomini was talkative; ... and between them and
their marvellous subordinates, Hamburger the hunchback Jew, and his
head of the Asiatic Department, Westmann, I do not wonder that two
stupid men, the vain Gortschakof and the drill-sergeant de Giers, were
able successively to pretend to rule the Foreign Office without the
policy of the country suffering.

'In Katkof I was greatly disappointed. The man was very powerful under
two reigns, and with the exception of Count Tolstoi, he was the only
man who was so, since otherwise all the adherents of Alexander II.
were in disgrace during the reign of Alexander III.; but I could see
nothing in Katkof except strength of will and obstinacy. He was
entirely without judgment or measure or charm. The two Vassiltchikofs
were men of what is called in Russia a "European" type, or
"civilized." There was nothing specially Russian about them, but they
were far pleasanter than as a rule are able Russians, and this was
also the case with Madame Novikof's brothers, the two Kiriefs. In
general it may be said that in the Moscow chiefs of the Slav
Committees there was more European give and take, and less obstinacy
or pig-headed Toryism of Russian character, than among any other set.
One of the Vassiltchikofs had an art collection, and afterwards
became, I think, Art Director at St. Petersburg, while the other, who
was the greater Slav, and who was the son-in-law of Prince Orlof
Davydof of St. Petersburg, who sent me to him at Moscow, was chiefly
given to good works in Moscow. I think, if I remember right, that my
hostess, Princess Tcherkasky, with whom I lodged, was their sister.

'I saw a good deal of Peter Schouvalof, known as "all-powerful," of
whom I afterwards again saw a great deal when I was at the Foreign
Office and he was Ambassador in London. He was the bitter enemy of
Count Tolstoi all through life; but his complete fall, and it may even
be said utter destruction, during the reign of Alexander III., was, I
think, not owing to this fact, but because he was easygoing and had
made friends with the morganatic wife of Alexander II. in his last
years. Alexander III. never forgave anyone who had shown this
disrespect to the memory of his mother, although as soon as his son in
time succeeded to the throne, the members of the Imperial family
visiting France, who had never acknowledged the existence of the
Princess during all the years of Alexander III.'s reign, immediately
began to revisit her at Biarritz or in Paris.

'Peter Schouvalof represented the French Regency in our times, with
all its wit, with all its half-refined coarseness--the coarseness of
great gentlemen--with the drunkenness of the companions of the Regent,
and with their courage. At the time that I knew him in St. Petersburg
he was as much hated as his enemy Count Tolstoi, but that was because
he held the terrible office of head of the Third Section or Director
of the Secret Police, with the power of life and death over everyone
except the Emperor. It was a somewhat sinister contrast to find, in
one who used to the full the awful powers of his office, the greatest
gaiety that existed in mortal man, unless in Gambetta.

'K. Aksakof was in Moscow the superior in power even of Tcherkasky the
Mayor, even of the two Samarines, even of Miliutine of Moscow, the
brother of the General. He was not in reality so strong a man, but he
had the ear of the heir-apparent, and I cannot but think, from a good
deal which came to my knowledge at the time, that there was some
secret society organization among the Slavophiles, of which he was the
occult chief. Some think that had he liked he would have continued to
rule Alexander III. after the latter ascended the throne, but my own
impression is that he would have ended his days in Siberia. His
brother John, who survived and had influence, was a very different
man, and held other views. His influence for a time was enormous,
although I could more easily have understood the dominance in the
party of Miliutine or of Samarine. Katkof retained his influence
because he was above all of the despotic party. Aksakof would have
failed to retain his, because, although he held, as an article of
faith, that reforms must come from the Emperor to the people, yet he
desired that the Emperor should be a Russian Liberal--a very different
thing from a "European" Liberal, but still something different from
Alexander III. or from Count Tolstoi's ideal of a Russian autocrat....

'Among those I knew' (says a later note) 'was the pretty little child
of Count Chotek of the Austrian Embassy, the bosom friend of Prince
Henry VII. of Reuss, the Prussian Ambassador. The child's mother,
Chotek's wife, was Countess Kinsky. She became the wife of the
Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and the birth of her son, in 1902, was
hailed by the Magyars as that of an heir to the throne of the dual
monarchy, and may lead to civil war in Austria some day.' [Footnote:
It was the assassination of this Archduke which preceded the Great War
of 1914.]

Sir Charles continued to correspond with Lord Granville about the
international complication. The Foreign Secretary wrote in December of the
proposed Conference of London that--

"It would not be a bad result that each side should imagine it had had
a victory. There would remain the public opinion of Europe, and as we
are neither of us popular, that may be tolerably impartial."

The Russian point of view had been put to Sir Charles before he left
England in a letter from Baron Jomini, who complained that attempts to
revise the Treaty of Paris by a European Congress had repeatedly failed,
because England had always made it a condition that at such "a Congress
the Eastern question should not be raised." What, then, was open to
Russia--since "all the world privately admitted that the position created
for her by the Treaty of 1856 was inequitable and an obstacle to good
understanding" but to show the signatory Powers the impossibility of her
remaining any longer in a false position?

The view which Sir Charles formed at the time was in strong condemnation
of Lord Granville's action. In his opinion, Great Britain, by consenting
to a Conference (proposed by Russia's friend; Prussia), consented to
negotiate upon an act of repudiation by which her own rights were
infringed; and this surrender seemed to him wholly unnecessary. Later
knowledge only confirmed him in his opinion.

'We knew' (he writes in the Memoir) 'that Austria, the original
proposer of the neutralization, had on November 22nd stated that she
would join us in a war with Russia if we declared war upon the
question, and Italy had already declared that she would act with
Austria and ourselves. On the other hand, we now know (1906) that the
British Cabinet of 1856 did not contain a member who thought the
neutralization worth anything, or that it could be maintained beyond
"the first opportunity." Gladstone, in 1879, returned to the question,
and said that even Turkey had been willing to agree in 1870 to what
had been done; but from a despatch to Lord Granville, dated November
24th, 1870, which has been published, it is clear that Austria, Italy,
and Turkey would have gone along with us. Under these circumstances no
fighting would have been wanted. All that we need have done would have
been to have declared that we should take no notice of the Russian
denunciation, and to have sent our fleet into the Black Sea, and the
Russians could have done nothing but give in, as a platonic
declaration that they were free would not have enabled them to launch
a ship. Then we might gracefully have yielded; but as it was, we gave
in to a mere threat of force.'

Acceptance of the Conference, moreover, seemed to Sir Charles a betrayal
of France. France, who had been England's ally in the Crimea, one of the
signatory Powers to the Black Sea Treaty, saw her capital beleaguered by
the Prussian friends of the Power which repudiated the Treaty, and could
not even send a representative to the Conference to protest.

It was natural, then, that at the opening of Parliament in 1871 the member
for Chelsea should raise this question. But to do so involved the bringing
forward of a motion tantamount to a vote of censure on the Government,
which Sir Charles Dilke himself supported; and Mr. Gladstone contrived to
put his too critical supporter in a difficulty.

The Queen's Speech inevitably contained reference to Prince Gortschakof's
action, and in both Houses there was considerable comment upon this in the
debate on the Address. The Prime Minister referred to the opportunity for
fuller discussion which would be afforded by Sir Charles's motion, but,
when pressed to name a day for the motion, deprecated discussion while the
Conference was sitting. Frequent questioning led finally to the
intervention of Mr. Disraeli, who raised the whole question of Conference
and Treaty in a speech, and was answered by Mr. Gladstone. When after all
this Sir Charles still persisted in his motion, the purpose of which was
not to discuss either the methods or the results of the Conference, but to
deplore the Government's action in having entered on it at all, Mr.
Gladstone declared that Government could spare no time, and would give a
day only if it were taken as a direct vote of censure, which they must in
honour meet; adding that the day could only be found by the postponement
of a Licensing Bill which had much support in the Liberal party. Sir
Charles persevered, and made a very able speech, to which no serious
answer was given. He entirely destroyed the pretence that the Conference
had met without a "foregone conclusion," and stigmatized the indecent
haste which could not wait to secure the presence of France even as an
assenting party to this acceptance of an act of repudiation. But the House
was dominated by dislike for anything which seemed to hint at opening up a
new European war at the moment when a settlement of the existing conflict
was expected. The Tories, 'would only speak, and would not vote'; while
Sir Charles's Radical associates, such as Mr. Peter Rylands, welcomed
anything done under pretext of avoiding war.

'An attempt was made by Sir Henry Bulwer, the cynical and brilliant
brother of Lord Lytton, by Mr. Horsman and Mr. Otway, to use my motion
for their own purposes. Otway had resigned his Under-Secretaryship of
Foreign Affairs on account of his strong opinion upon the question,
and was distressed to find that his resignation had fallen flat.
Horsman was always discontented, and Bulwer wanted to be a peer.
[Footnote: Sir Henry Bulwer was afterwards created Lord Calling; Mr.
Horsman had been a conspicuous Adullamite in the previous Parliament.]
I used to tell Bulwer up to his death that I gave him his peerage, for
he received Gladstone's offer of the peerage just in time to prevent
him from speaking for my motion. Bulwer, whom I had known as
Ambassador at Constantinople, Sir Andrew Buchanan, whom I had known as
Ambassador at St. Petersburg, Horsman, and Otway came and dined with
me, and we made a great plot, and thought we were going to upset the
arrangement with the Russians. But Gladstone succeeded in taking away
Goldsmid, who was one of our very few Liberal supporters, made Bulwer
a peer, and left me only with Otway, Gregory, afterwards Governor of
Ceylon, and Horsman....

'I ought to have divided, even if I had been in a minority of one, for
the proposal to withdraw my motion brought a hornet's nest about my
ears, and was a parliamentary mistake.'

Michel Chevalier, the celebrated French Economist and Free Trader, wrote
thanking Sir Charles. He had spent, he said, thirty years of his life in
advocating an Anglo-French understanding, and now he would not know how to
look his countrymen in the face were it not for the courageous utterances
of a few friendly Englishmen to which he could point as evidences of a
good-will that had not forsaken France in her evil day.


'Immediately after my return to England in the middle of the winter of
1870-1871, which had already been the severest ever known in Russia, I
again started for the scene of war. I first visited the army of
General Faidherbe, which was gallantly fighting in the north, and I
was present at one of the engagements near Bapaume, in which the
French took prisoners sixty sharpshooters of the Prussian Landwehr--
splendid soldiers, towering above our little Frenchmen, to whom it
seemed incredible, whatever the odds, they should have surrendered. I
never saw so wretched an army to look at as Faidherbe's. His cavalry
were but a squadron. He had one good regiment of foot Chasseurs and
two good regiments of marines; and the gunners of his artillery
(escaped men from Sedan) were excellent, and the guns were new; but he
had for his main body some 20,000 second-skim of the National Guard,
the cream from the north having been sent south to the Army of the
East under Bourbaki, with whom they were driven into Switzerland.

'Ours were what schoolboys would call second choice. Oh, such men! and
without boots, without overcoats, facing arctic weather in wooden
shoes and old sacks--facing the Prussians, too, with old muzzle-
loading guns; but they fought well, and their leader, a man of genius,
made the most of them. I returned two or three times to England--that
is, to Dover--to eat and buy things I could carry, for I could hardly
get anything at Lille, where, by the way, I heard Gambetta make his
great speech. It was the finest oratorical display to which I ever
listened, though I have heard Castelar, Bright, Gladstone, the Prime
Minister Lord Derby, Gathorne Hardy, and Father Felix (the great
Jesuit preacher) often, at their very best.

'Picking up Auberon Herbert, who was on his way to Versailles to wait
for the surrender of Paris in order to take in food to his brother
Alan, who was serving as a doctor on the ambulance inside, I went to
the siege of Longwy. Like all the fortresses of France bombarded in
this war, with two exceptions, it surrendered far too easily.

'From Longwy we passed on to Montmedy, at which latter place we
witnessed the immediate effects of a fearful railway accident, a
collision in a tunnel between a trainful of French prisoners and one
of recruits for the Prussian Guards. The scene in the darkness and
smoke, with the stalwart, long-bearded Landwehr men, who formed the
garrison of the town, holding blazing torches of pine and pitch, and
the glare from the fires of the upset engines, was one which would
have delighted Rembrandt. When a rush of water, a cataract from the
roof of the lately blown-up tunnel, suddenly occurred, adding to the
horror of the night, the place was pandemonium. Almost the only men
unhurt in the front carriages, which were smashed to pieces, were the
Mayors of the villages on the line, travelling compulsorily as
hostages for the safety of the trains. I made military reflections on
the advantage of blowing up tunnels, as against the practice of
destroying bridges and so forth.'

Sir Charles was one of the first in Paris after the siege (which was
raised by an armistice on January 29th, 1871), taking in with him a large
quantity of condensed milk, of which he made presents to his Paris
friends. The purpose of the armistice was to enable regular conditions to
be signed between the conqueror and the conquered. The Imperial Government
had declared war on Prussia; but the Empire had fallen and the existing
Government was only provisional. It had a branch in Paris, another branch
in Bordeaux, and between these the investing army barred all
intercommunication. The purpose of the armistice was to allow the holding
of elections throughout France to return a National Assembly, which in its
turn should appoint Ministers fully authorized to treat for peace. The
elections did but emphasize the division between Paris and the provinces,
for in Paris an Ultra-Radical representative was returned, while in the
country a considerable majority of monarchical deputies were elected.
Republican France feared, and not without cause, some attempt to re-
establish a dynasty.

When, on February 20th, the new Government, with Thiers at its head,
signed preliminaries of peace, a condition was included which stipulated
that the Prussian troops should formally enter Paris and remain for three
days in possession of all the forts before evacuating the place. The
National Guard, refusing to obey orders, entrenched itself in Montmartre;
the seat of government was transferred to Versailles, lately the Prussian
headquarters; fighting broke out in the streets, and the control of the
city was seized in the name of the Commune.

So began the second siege, in which revolutionary Paris stood at bay
against those whom they called 'the Prussians of Versailles,' while the
real Prussians, still occupying part of the exterior line of forts, looked
on, impartial spectators. Sir Charles writes:

'At this time my attention was exclusively turned to foreign affairs,
and immediately after my Black Sea speech I started for Paris. I took
with me an appointment as a Daily News correspondent--not that I
intended to correspond, but only because it would explain my presence.
Having been unable to leave London during the first days of the rising
of March 18th, which developed into the Commune of Paris, I left it
with my brother on April 2nd, and reached Creil at night, and St.
Denis in the morning. From Creil I wrote to my grandmother: "We shall
reach Paris in the morning. It is no use writing, and we shall not be
able to write to you." We drove into Paris, and at once went to the
Hotel de Ville, where we found the famous Central Committee sitting.
We obtained from some Garibaldian officers of the Staff a special pass
to leave Paris in order to see Gustave Flourens, for whom I was
carrying a private letter from a friend of his in London.... The drums
were beating through the streets all day, and great numbers of
National Guards were under arms attempting to march upon Versailles,
and there was heavy fighting, which we witnessed from a distance.

'We counted 160 battalions of National Guards all carrying the red
flag, and saw altogether, as near as we could compute, almost 110,000
men. That all Paris was in the movement at this time was clear, not
only from this fact, but also from the following: that on March 26th
between 226,000 and 227,000 electors voted, a full vote for Paris
considering the great number of persons who, having left Paris before
the siege, had not returned. In the municipal elections after the
Commune, when the Conservatives had come back and made a great attempt
to win, the total number of voters was only 186,000. I noticed at the
Hotel de Ville that the Parisians had a great many sailors in uniform
with them. These were sailors who had remained in Paris after serving
there during the siege, and my pass was handed to me by a splendid
specimen of a French tar wearing the name of the _Richelieu_ on his
hat. I was one of the few persons not in the insurrection (and these
were mostly killed) who saw the pictures in the Hotel de Ville so
late--that is, so soon before the fire which destroyed them all--and I
recognized old friends which I had known from 1855, when I was there
at the great ball. Those who showed us from room to room were chiefly
Garibaldian Poles, among them the Dombrowskis, one of whom was killed,
and two of whom I afterwards befriended in London in their exile.

'The next morning we left Paris early by the Vaugirard gate, for no
one could tell us where Flourens was engaged. We had followed the main
line of fighting; his death occurred upon the other line; but so great
was the confusion of these days that we knew nothing of it until the
5th. We thought that to make for Clamart would be the surest course to
bring us to the forefront of battle, and at 8 a.m. we were in Issy. We
then heard heavy firing, and came over the hill between Forts Issy and
Vanves, but there was a dense fog which deadened sound, and it was not
till we were well down the hillside that we heard the crunch of the
machine-guns, when we suddenly found ourselves under a heavy fire from
the other side. Seeing the railway embankment in front of us at the
bottom of the hill, we ran down and got under shelter near an arch at
the corner of a park wall, which may, perhaps, have been the cemetery.
Here we sat in safety while the bullets sang in swarms through the
trees over our heads, while the forts cannonaded the heights, and the
heights bombarded the forts, and while the federal regiments of the
National Guard tried in vain to carry once more the line of hills
which they had carried on the previous day, but had of their own
accord at night abandoned, having no commissariat. They used, in fact,
to go home to dinner. Indeed, many would in the morning take an
omnibus to the battlefield, and fight, and take the omnibus back home
again to dine and sleep--a system of warfare which played into the
hands of the experienced old soldiers--the police of Paris--all ex-
non-commissioned officers, and the equally well-trained Customs guards
and forest guards, by whom they were opposed. General Vinoy, who was
commanding, had, however, heavy work on this day, in which Duval, the
General of the Commune, met his death within a quarter of a mile of
the spot where we were hiding. With this day ended, indeed, the
offensive operations of the Federalists against Versailles, and began
the offensive operations of the regulars against Paris. After sitting
a long time in our corner we found ourselves starved, and ran up the
hill by the park wall, under a heavy fire, to Issy and then walked
into Paris. I have a bullet in my room which struck the wall between
us just as we reached shelter at the top. One of my curiosities of the
time is the official newspaper of April 4th, which was conducted, of
course, for the insurrection, but which played so well at being
official that it announced as good news the telegrams from Algeria
showing that the Arab insurrection was being put down, although the
Government which was putting down this insurrection was the very same
Government which was engaged in putting down the more formidable
insurrection in Paris, to which the journal temporarily belonged.

'On Wednesday, the 5th, my brother went to the fighting at Neuilly
bridge, where the troops from Versailles were beginning to develop a
serious attack, destined, however, to continue for six weeks without
result, for Paris was not entered at this point. I, with a letter from
Franqueville [Footnote: Le Comte de Franqueville, well known to a
large circle of English friends by his book, _Le Gouvernement et le
Parlement Britanniques_ (Paris, 1887).] to the Duc de Broglie,
afterwards Prime Minister, in one pocket, and a pass from the
Insurrection in the other, left Paris at 5 a.m. by the Porte
Montrouge, and walked by Bourg la Reine to La Croix de Berny, and
thence by Chatenay to La Cour Roland, where I met a cavalry patrol of
the regular forces, and then came to an infantry camp. Having shown my
letter, my English passport, and my appointment as a newspaper
correspondent, I was allowed to go on to Versailles. There I slept on
a table, there being a terrible crowd of Paris fugitives in the town.
In the morning I had my interview with the Duke. He was kind to me,
and I saw much of him in London and in Paris in later years. Thiers
was right in alluding to his dull father as "The Duc de Broglie; the
other, _the_ duke." But both were narrow doctrinaires.

'After looking at M. Thiers' reserves, which at this time consisted of
250 guns parked on the Place d'Armes, with no artillerymen to work
them, and a Paris regiment, the 118th, raised during the siege, locked
up in the park to prevent their joining the insurrection, I started
for St. Germain, where I met Major Anson, M.P., afterwards the leader
of "the Colonels" (who resisted abolition of army purchase) in the
House of Commons, and lunched, watching the firing of Mont Valerien on
Paris. I then drove to St. Denis, the Prussian headquarters. Thence I
drove again (the La Chapelle gate of Paris being shut) to Pantin.
After a long parley the Belleville-Villette drawbridge was lowered for
me, and I was admitted to Paris, having been almost all round it in
the two days.

'Major Anson gave me a bag of gold to pay to his brother's (Lord
Lichfield's) cook. This man was in Paris, and on the 7th I called on
him at a house close to the Ministry of the Interior, and to the
Palace of the Elysee. The cook's rooms were at the top of the house,
over the Librairie, still there in 1907. He received the visit of
myself and my brother in bed. "Excuse me," he said, "but I have been
fighting these three days, and I am tired out." I asked his wife what
he was fighting for, and she did not in the least know. No more did
he, for the matter of that. He was fighting because his battalion was
fighting. "The Prussians of Versailles" had taken the place of the
other Prussians; that was all. At this moment 215 battalions of the
National Guard supported the insurrection, having joined in pursuance
of the resolution that, in the event of the seat of Government being
transferred from Paris to any other place, Paris was to constitute
itself a separate Republic. This more than anything else was at the
bottom of the insurrection, and, as M. Jules Simon has said, "many
Republicans who were neither Socialists nor Revolutionists hesitated.
One asked oneself if in fighting on the side of order one was not at
the same time fighting for a dynasty." Then, again, serving in the
National Guard meant pay and food, especially for the working man, for
there was no work to be got in Paris, as business had not been
reopened. Moreover, Paris was writhing with rage at the Prussian
entry, and Parisian vanity was engaged on the side of the

'The insurrection was certainly at this time very far from being a
communistic movement, as from a natural confusion of names it was
thought to be by foreigners. There was a burning jealousy in Paris of
the "Rurals," and a real fear, not ill-founded, that a Royalist
conspiracy was on foot. The irritations of the siege, however, played
the largest part. The National Guard, who had fought very well at
Buzenval on January 19th, profoundly moved by the capitulation, had
carried off their guns to their own part of Paris in February, and it
may be said that the insurrection dated from that time, and was
historically a protest against the peace, for M. Thiers temporized
with the insurrection until the old seasoned soldiers were beginning
to return to him from their captivity in Germany. The fighting began
with the sudden attempt of the Government to remove by force the guns
which had been taken to Montmartre, followed as it was by the murder
of two Generals by the mob. [Footnote: General Lecomte and Clement
Thomas, the Commandant of the National Guard, were shot on March 18th,
1871, under conditions of peculiar brutality.] A number of men threw
themselves into the movement from love of fighting for fighting's
sake, like the Garibaldian Poles. Some joined it from ambition, but
the majority of the men who later on died on the walls or in the
streets in the Federalist ranks died, as they believed, for the
Republic, and had no idea of the plunder of the rich. Ricciotti
Garibaldi was near Dijon "in observation," as he afterwards told me.
He said that he wanted to march upon Versailles with his excellent
little army, which would have followed him, and fought well, and would
certainly have taken the new capital, although it would have been
crushed later on. He telegraphed to Garibaldi, and "Papa" telegraphed
to him not to move, Garibaldi being wiser, perhaps, in his son's case
than he would have been had it been his own, for he was not remarkable
for wisdom. It was a strange moment: the Prussians watching the
fighting from those of the forts which were still in their hands, and
a careless, idle Paris crowd of boys and women watching it from the

'On the 7th my brother and I were all but killed by a shell from Mont
Valerien which suddenly burst, we not having heard it, close to us in
a garden at the corner of the Place de l'Etoile and Avenue d'Uhrich,
as the Avenue de l'Imperatrice had at this time been named, from the
General who defended Strasbourg. During the 7th and 8th a senseless
bombardment of a peaceable part of Paris waxed warm, and continued for
some days uselessly to destroy the houses of the best supporters of
the Conservative Assembly without harming the Federalists, who did not
even cross the quarter. M. Simon has said that Thiers did not bombard
Paris; that he only bombarded the walls of Paris at the two points at
which he intended to make a breach.... All I can say is that if this
was the intention there must have been someone in command at Mont
Valerien who failed to carry it into effect, and who amused himself by
knocking the best part of Paris to pieces out of mischief, for no
artilleryman could have been so incapable as to fire from hill to hill
when intending to fire down into that which, viewed from Mont
Valerien, looks like a hole. In 1841, curiously enough, Thiers had
been accused, at the time of the erection of the forts of which Mont
Valerien was one, of making it possible that Paris should be bombarded
in this way, and had indignantly replied, asking the Assembly if they
believed that after having _inonde de ses feux la demeure de vos
familles_ a Government could expect to be continued in power. But in
1871 he did it, and was continued in power for a time, and that with
the triumphant support at the moment of the very persons whose houses
he had destroyed. The Commune had a broad back, and that back was made
to bear the responsibility of the destruction.'

Sir Charles returned to his duties in London after the Easter recess, but
he was back in Paris to see the last moments of the second siege. On May
21st the army had forced its way into the city, though several days of
bitter street fighting remained, in which the town was fired, and the
Hotel de Ville and Ministry of Finance were destroyed. [Footnote: Sir
Charles writes of the celebrated order, "Flambez Finances": 'the order to
burn the Ministry of Finance was an undoubted forgery, as a distinguished
Frenchman, signing himself "A Communalist," showed in the _Pall Mall
Gazette_. The evidence before the court-martial of the porter of the
Ministry of Finance, that the fire was caused by shells, confirms my view,
and shows how the events of the moment have been distorted by the passions
of writers.'] Sir Charles had foreseen the destruction of these uildings,
"because they were behind great barricades in the direct line of the
necessary attack," and was also proud of the verification which a minor
military forecast received. Alan Herbert, Auberon's elder brother, who for
many years practised as a doctor in Paris, was awakened on May 21st by a
disturbance in the street, and

'"saw several National Guards and dirty-looking fellows taking counsel
together whether they should raise a barricade opposite my windows,
and they were actually beginning it. However," he wrote to his mother,
Lady Carnarvon, "Sir Charles Dilke, when he was in Paris with Auberon,
came to see me here, and the question being raised as to a barricade
being placed opposite my windows he decided it could not be, as the
only proper place for one would be some doors lower down at the
meeting of the three streets. This recollection was some consolation
to me, and his opinion was quite correct, for an officer arrived,
supposed to have been the General Dombrowski, who made them begin
lower down."'

It was on May 25th that Sir Charles left London to reach Paris, which was
known by the 24th to be in flames.

'Crossing by Calais, I reached St. Denis at night, drove to Le
Bourget, got a pass into Paris from the Germans at dawn, with a
warning, however, that it would not bring me out again. By the
drizzling rain I passed unhindered into Paris, all the gates being
open and the drawbridges down, as the Federalists were both within and
without the walls. I reached the great barricade in front of the gates
of the Docks de la Villette at seven in the morning. My road had been
lighted till the daylight grew strong by the flames of the
conflagration of the warehouses. This day, Friday the 26th, was that
of the third or last massacre of hostages--the thirty-seven gendarmes,
the fifteen policemen, the eleven priests, and four other people, I
believe. It was a very useless crime. When I reached the great
barricade at a meeting of roads, one of which I think was called Route
d'Allemagne, fighting had just recommenced after a pause during the
night. At this point the field artillery were bombarding the barricade
from the Rue Lafayette. I stood all day in comparative safety at the
door of a baker's shop in the Rue de Flandre, for the baker was
interested in what was going on sufficiently to keep his door open and
look out and talk with me, though his shutters were up at all the
windows. When evening came the Federalists still at this point
maintained their strong position, and I, of course, knew nothing of
the movements on the south by which the troops had all but hemmed them
in. The baker with whom I had made friends offered me hospitality for
the night, which I accepted, and I might have stayed longer with him
had I pleased; but not knowing how long the fighting might continue, I
determined to make my way into the Versailles lines at dawn.

'Fighting in our quarter had been again suspended at night, and in the
grey light of early morning (it was fine after a long rain) I left my
baker and made my way to the left, the left again, and then down a
long street towards the Eastern Railway. A sentry about two hundred
yards off presented his piece. I stood still in the middle of the
street. He seemed then not to know what to do. I had on the red-cross
armlet which I wore throughout the war, and held a white handkerchief
in my hand. I suppose I looked respectable enough to be allowed to
come nearer, for he let me advance. When near enough I called to him
that I wished to speak with the officer of the post. He called out a
corporal, to whom I made the same statement. They kept me there for a
time which seemed an age, and then brought an officer. I shouted to
him that I was an English newspaper correspondent, that I had an
authorization as such, an English passport, and a Prussian pass into
Paris, and that I was known to the Due de Broglie and to Lord Lyons;
also that I could name friends in the centre of Paris to whom I might
be sent under guard. He let me pass, and said: "Allez! Vous avez eu de
la chance." I went straight to the Arts et Metiers. The dead were
lying thick in the streets, especially at the Porte St. Martin
barricade, where they were being placed in tumbrils. The fighting had
been very heavy; the troops alone had lost 12,000 killed and wounded
after entering Paris. At least as many Federalists were killed
fighting, or wounded and finished, besides the great number shot after
their surrender. I found Tresca, the father, picking up the pieces of
the shells which were bursting in the courtyard, and putting them all
together with wires, to the greater glory of his own particular make.
It was the Federal artillery on the heights which was bombarding Paris
with Tresca's shells. When one burst perfectly into some twenty equal
pieces he would say:" Beautiful; that is one of mine." Any that burst
into one large piece and two or three little ones he set down to the
"genie militaire" of Vincennes.

'After several days I left Paris with Dr. W. H. Russell of the
_Times_, my former opponent at Chelsea at the '68 election, whom I had
last previously seen at Nancy on the day of Mars la Tour, and returned
to London, having for the purpose of leaving Paris a pass from Marshal
MacMahon's Chief of the Staff, which I still preserve.' [Footnote:
This Diary Extract of the War of 1870 was published in the _Nineteenth
Century_ of January, 1914.]

So ends the story. Later in life, during his championship of army reform
in the House of Commons, a Tory Colonel interrupted the civilian critic
with some bluntness. "I have been on more battlefields," Sir Charles
retorted, "than the honourable and gallant member has ever seen." The
white ambulance cap, with its black and green peak, which he preserved as
a memento, bore on its lining:


Preserved among Sir Charles's papers, and dated September 30th, 1870,
there is this letter from John Stuart Mill:

"If Gladstone had been a great man, this war would never have broken
out, for he would have nobly taken upon himself the responsibility of
declaring that the English Navy should actively aid whichever of the
two Powers was attacked by the other. This would have been the
beginning of the international justice we are calling for. I do not
blame Gladstone for not daring to do it, for it requires a morally,
braver man than any of our statesmen to run this kind of risk."

At the outset of hostilities France, and not Germany, appeared to Sir
Charles not only ostensibly, but really the attacking Power, and therefore
the true menace to the liberties of Europe. The policy of Louis Napoleon
was apparently responsible for the Franco-German War, and as he said in
_Greater Britain_: "If the English race has a mission in the world, it is
surely this, to prevent peace on earth from depending upon the verdict of
a single man." With the fall of Napoleon and observation of the Germans as
conquerors, Sir Charles became wholly French in his sympathies, and before
long his close study of events preceding the war showed him that it had
really been of Bismarck's making. This did not lead him to advocate
"alliance," for when alliances between various Powers were constantly
advocated, he declared his belief that "the time for permanent alliances
is past"; [Footnote: Speech at Chelsea to his constituents, January 24th,
1876.] but his observations in these years made him through life the
steady friend of France, the constant upholder of her value to Europe, the
advocate of fellowship between her free greatness and that of his own free
country. "France," said he, "has in England no stronger friend than I." He
lectured and spoke more than once upon the great war and its results, and
the passage which ends a Recess speech of 1875 was delivered after one of
the critical moments when Germany had shown a disposition to renew attack
on France. Someone had spoken of Germany "as the most 'moral' among the
nations." Sir Charles replied:

'Not only do I think the conduct of Prussia towards Denmark the
reverse of "moral," but I confess I have the same opinions of her
later conduct towards France.... No doubt the military law presses
hardly on the German people, and no doubt the Prussian Court tells
them that it is the fault of France; but is it true? Do not believe in
the French lamb troubling the waters to the hurt of the Prussian wolf.
Taxes and emigration increase in Germany because, as Count Moltke said
in his place in Parliament, "Germany must stand armed to the teeth for
fifty years to defend the provinces which it took her but six months
to win." But why have taken them? Did not England and Austria at the
time warn Prussia what would be the wretched consequences of the act?
German fears of to-day are the direct outcome of the frightful terms
which victorious Germany imposed on France. She might have had money,
reduction of forces, dismantlement of fortresses, but she would have
the dismemberment of France and her money too. She insisted, in
defiance of all modern political ideas, in tearing provinces from a
great country against their will. France has since that time set an
example of moderation of tone, yet Germany cries out that she will
fight again, and crush her enemy to the dust. Poor German Liberals,
who abandoned all their principles when they consented to tear Alsace
and Lorraine from France, and who now find themselves powerless
against the war party, who say: "What the sword has won the sword
shall keep!"'

He then quoted 'the words of an Alsatian Deputy who spoke before the
German Parliament on February 16th, 1874, words which were received with
howls and jeers, but which were none the less eloquent and true.' The
words dealt with the dismemberment of France, and ended with this passage:
"Had you spared us you would have won the admiration of the world, and war
had become impossible between us and you. As it is, you go on arming, and
you force all Europe to arm also. Instead of opening an age of peace, you
have inaugurated an era of war; and now you await fresh campaigns, fresh
lists of killed and wounded, containing the names of your brothers and
your sons." "The view of this Alsatian Deputy is my view," said Sir
Charles: "I do not believe that might makes right.... For our own sakes as
well as hers, T pray that France may not be crushed. France is not merely
_one_ of the nations. The place of France is not greater than the place of
England, but it is different. The place of France is one which no other
nation can quite hold."



The disregard of party allegiance which Sir Charles showed in regard to
the Education Bill and the Black Sea Conference did not grow less as time
went on. When the Ballot Bill of 1870 was in Committee, he moved an
amendment to extend the hours of polling from four o'clock to eight, as
many working men would be unable to reach the poll by the earlier hour.
There was much talk in debate of the danger which would ensue from
carrying on so dangerous an operation as voting after dark, and the
Government Whips were actually put on to tell against this proposal; nor
was any extension of the hours effected till 1878, and then by Sir Charles
Dilke himself, in a Bill applying to London only, which he introduced as a
private member of the Opposition under a Tory Government.

The first of the many Bills introduced by him was that to amend the
procedure of registration, which in the session of 1871 he got
successfully through Committee stage; but it perished in the annual
"slaughter of the innocents."

One of the measures which contributed to a decline of the Government's
popularity was the unlucky proposal in Mr. Lowe's Budget of 1871 to levy a
tax on matches; and Sir Charles was the first to raise this matter
specifically in Committee, condemning the impost as one which would be
specially felt by the poor, and would deprive the humblest class of
workers of much employment. On the day when Lowe was forced to withdraw
the obnoxious proposal, Sir Charles had opened the attack by a question
challenging Government interference with a procession of the matchmakers
organized to protest against the tax. He was, therefore, personally
identified with the rebuff administered to the Chancellor of the

The tremendous spectacle of events in France had inevitably bred a panic
in England. It was proposed to increase the active army by 70,000 men. Sir
Charles was no friend to panics, and he was one of the seven who voted
against the motion.

But his was not merely a blank negative directed against any proposal for
increasing the standing army. He writes:

"About this time" (March, 1871) "I promoted a movement in favour of a
system of universal instruction in arms, and between fifty and sixty
members of Parliament attended the meeting which I called, the most
prominent among them being Sir M. Hicks Beach, Mr. Mundella, and Henry
James. We all lived to know better."

Those who joined him in this momentary propaganda dropped the proposal of
universal instruction in arms, and turned their attention elsewhere. He
substituted for it another ideal of military efficiency, and laboured all
his life to give it effect. Speaking to his constituents at Kensington in
the autumn of 1871, he advocated "the separation of the Indian from the
home army, and the adoption of the Swiss rather than of the Prussian
military system." As a Radical, he faced the question whether Radicals
ought to interest themselves at all in army reform, and he answered:

"As a mere matter of insurance, it is worth taking some trouble to
defend ourselves. There are, however, higher reasons for such
interest, and among them are treaty obligations and the duty which we
owe to the rest of the world of not suppressing our influence--on the
whole a just and moral one."

'In these words,' Sir Charles notes, 'there lies in a nutshell all that I
afterwards wrote at much greater length upon army reform in my book, _The
British Army_.'

In this year he made a visit to the autumn manoeuvres, then held for the
first time, and 'looked upon by the army reformers as the dawn of a new
day.' Sir Charles, however, with his knowledge of war, 'thought them
singularly bad.' He was to repeat that experience several times, attending
manoeuvres both in France and England. He held that annual manoeuvres were
"essential to efficiency," and with other army reformers brought later
much pressure to bear on the Government to secure this end.

As early as February, 1871, Mr. Trevelyan (then out of office) had written
to propose "a little meeting of Radical army reformers, say ten or twelve
or fifteen, to arrange parts for practical work in the House, and to found
a nucleus for an Army Reform Association in case of dire need (to stump
the country)." The stumping of the country Mr. Trevelyan did himself, and
his speeches led to the abolition in this year of the purchase system.
What he wanted of Sir Charles is indicated by another sentence: "There
never was a time when your turn for organization would be of more
immediate value." But even more immediate use was made of Sir Charles's
willingness to confront unpopularity. The "practical" part assigned to him
in House of Commons' work was to undertake a motion (on going into
Committee of Supply) for the suppression of two regiments of Household
Cavalry and the substitution of two regiments of cavalry of the line. The
change was justified by Sir Charles not only on the score of economy, but
upon the ground that heavy cavalry had proved unserviceable in the Franco-
Prussian War. Whatever his arguments, this attack on the maintenance of
privileged troops brought social displeasure on the assailant.

In 1870 the Queen had consented to abandon the tradition which made the
appointment of the Commander-in-Chief a matter within the Sovereign's
personal control; and the subordination of the military head of the forces
to the Secretary for War was formally recognized. But the Duke of
Cambridge continued to be Commander-in-Chief, and army reformers were
extremely desirous to remove him. On this subject the Press was reticent
no less than public speakers, and finally it was left for Sir Charles to
advocate in the speech at Kensington already referred to the substitution
of some other officer "more amenable to parliamentary control."

In 1870 the Civil Service had been (with the exception of one preserve,
the Foreign Office) thrown open to competitive examination. In 1871 the
institution of purchase in the army perished after a fierce conflict.

In the autumn of 1871 Sir Charles arranged to deliver at great centres
throughout the country a series of speeches advocating a redistribution of
seats which should make representation more real because more equitable.
The first of the series, delivered in Manchester, merely propounded the
view that a minority in Parliament very often represented a large majority
of voters, because one member might have 13,000 electors and another only
130. But when he came to speak at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on November 6th, he
gave this general principle definite application to a particular instance,
in which very small minorities had nevertheless represented very large
bodies of the electorate, and, as Sir Charles held, very widespread

This instance was the vote for an allowance of L15,000 a year to Prince
Arthur, proposed on his coming of age. Radical opinion had been already
stirred in the earlier part of the Session by the Queen's request for a
dowry of L30,000 for the Princess Louise on her marriage with the Marquis
of Lorne; and Mr. Peter Taylor, in opposing the dowry, had spoken of the
probability that such a grant would strengthen the tendency towards
republican views among the artisan class. [Footnote: Taylor's opposition
had led to a division, in which Fawcett had a lobby to himself, Dilke,
with Taylor, being tellers for the "Noes." But on the question of the
allowance to Prince Arthur fifty-three voted for a reduction of the
allowance, and eleven against any grant at all.]

'I visited Newcastle, and there spoke chiefly upon the Dowry question,
which had led to a division in the House of Commons, in which the
minority had consisted of but three persons, with two tellers.... But
in the course of the recess I had gone into the question of the Civil
List expenditure upon the Court, and at Newcastle I made references to
this subject which were accurate, though possibly unwise.'

The Queen's long retirement (now of ten years' duration) from all
ceremonial functions had occasioned considerable discontent. A pamphlet,
under the title _What does She do with it?_ written, as Sir Charles
believed, by one who had been a member of the Government, had received
wide publicity. Sir Charles alluded to this, and, taking up the
pamphleteer's argument, drew a picture of royal power as increasing, of
quaint survivals of ancient offices kept up at high cost, and of the
army's efficiency impaired by the appointment of Royal personages to
command. He concluded by a peroration on the model State, inspired, one
fancies, not only by his early training, but by Vacation reading of that
long series of Utopias and "Commonwealths ideal and actual," the
recollection of which fascinated him to the end: [Footnote: Chapter V., p.

"It is said that some day a commonwealth will be our government. Now,
history and experience show that you cannot have a republic unless you
possess at the same time the republican virtues. But you answer: Have
we not public spirit? Have we not the practice of self-government? Are
not we gaining general education? Well, if you can show me a fair
chance that a republic here will be free from the political corruption
that hangs about the monarchy, I say, for my part--and I believe that
the middle classes in general will say--let it come."

This was the abstract avowal of a theoretical preference, which Sir
Charles expressed with greater clearness and decision than others who
professed it--than Fawcett, who preached Republicanism at Cambridge, or
than Chamberlain; whose attitude is sufficiently indicated by the letter
which he wrote to Dilke on seeing the very violent leader with which the
_Times_ greeted the Newcastle speech:

"I am glad to see that you have raised the Philistine indignation of
the _Times_ by your speech at Newcastle, which, as well as that at
Manchester, I have read with interest and agreement."

'Going on beyond my utterances, or indeed my belief, Chamberlain

'"The Republic must come, and at the rate at which we are moving it
will come in our generation. The greater is the necessity for
discussing its conditions beforehand, and for a clear recognition of
what we may lose as well as what we shall gain."'

The essence of Republicanism to Sir Charles was equality of opportunity
for all citizens in a well-ordered State.

His theoretical avowal of Republicanism was seized upon by all who were
offended by his lack of deference in dealing with a matter so nearly
connected with Royalty. Charges of treason were made against the member of
Parliament who, in defiance of his oath of allegiance, proposed to
overthrow the monarchy.

This general outcry did not begin till the _Times_ leader had circulated
for a few days. But within a week the whole Press had broken out in fury.
The London correspondent of the _New York Tribune_ reported that "Sir
Charles Dilke's speech competes with the Tichborne trial" as a subject of
public comment. There was a second article in the _Times_ The _Spectator_
imputed to Dilke a want both of sense and decency, and declared that he
"talked sheer vulgar nonsense and discourteous rubbish in order to mislead
his audience." But as the correspondent of the _New York Tribune_ said:
"No one proved or attempted to prove that Sir Charles Dilke had misstated

'On one point, and on one point only, had I any reason to think that I was
wrong--namely, upon the Queen's Income Tax.' No documents existed, and
information was promised to Sir Charles by Mr. W. E. Baxter, Secretary to
the Treasury, 'but when he applied for it he was told that it could not be
given unless Mr. Gladstone agreed, and on this Mr. Gladstone wrote one of
his most mysterious letters, and I never really believed that the matter
was cleared up.'

In December, when the Prince of Wales was brought to the extremity of
danger by grave illness, an outburst of loyalty was aroused which shaped
itself into a protest against the "republican" demonstrations. But in the
hearts of thousands of working men who had expected some great change from
the Reform Act of 1868 and found no real alteration, there was a deep
resentment against the power and the attitude of the upper classes; and
against this power Sir Charles had struck a blow. The Press campaign
against him had the result which always follows when popular clamour seeks
to brand a strong man for an act of moral courage--it made him notable. He
was at a crisis in his political career, and the risks were great.
Opposition to him in Chelsea was threatened from orthodox Liberalism. A
letter from Labouchere warned him of this, and of the support which such
opposition would assuredly receive from Government organizers. Dilke went
straight ahead. It happened that the projected campaign on Representation
had pledged him to a series of speeches, and he did not therefore need to
seek occasions.

His next appearance on a public platform after the Newcastle meeting was
fixed for November 20th at Bristol, and opposition was promptly
threatened, somewhat to the surprise of Professor F. W. Newman, who had
been asked to take the chair.

"I do not read the papers daily" (the Professor wrote), "and was quite
unaware that any animosity against Sir Charles Dilke existed among the
Bristol Liberals. But I think it is high time that the Liberal party
everywhere be pulled out of the grooves of routine, and that _new men_
take the lead of it. I hope there will not be a mere noisy
disturbance, but I will try to do my duty in any case."

There was a noisy disturbance, but at Leeds on November 23rd the chairman
of the meeting was Alderman Carter, a Radical member of Parliament, of
considerable local influence, and an immense hall was packed by 5,000
supporters who secured the speaker from any interruption. Under these
conditions, Sir Charles delivered a speech much better, in his own
opinion, than the Newcastle discourse. As he put it many years later, the
former was on the cost of the Crown, the second a defence of the right of
free speech in the discussion of the cost of the Crown. [Footnote: Private
letter to the Editor of _Reynolds's Newspaper_, June 23rd, 1894.]

A main part of his defence was devoted to one point on which throughout
all this controversy he showed himself sensitive. "I care nothing," he
said at Leeds, "for the ridiculous cry of 'treason,' but I do care a great
deal for a charge of having used discourteous words towards the Queen;"
and he went on to explain by citation of his speech that 'the
malversation, if there was one,' had been charged, not against the Queen,
but against the neglect of her Ministers. He added now that the "breach of
the spirit of the Civil List Act," in allowing the savings to accumulate,
was one for which neither the present Government nor the Opposition were
responsible so much as their predecessors; and he made it doubly clear
that, although he desired to see savings made for the public, his true
objection to the office of Hereditary Grand Falconer and other sinecures
was 'not on account of the money that they cost, but on account of the
miserable political and moral tone which was set by their retention.'
Asserting that the Duke of Edinburgh had been appointed to an independent
naval command without the training which other officers would have
undergone, he reverted to the ideal of the model State:

"To say these things is not to condemn the monarchy, because they are
no necessary part of the monarchy, although the opposite idea--that of
promotion by merit alone and of the non-recognition of any claims
founded upon birth--is commonly accepted as republican. I care not
whether you call it republican or whether you do not, but I say that
it is the only principle upon which, if we are to keep our place among
the nations, we can for the future act."

'Not only was the Leeds meeting a success, but so also was one at
Middlesboro' a few days later than that at Leeds. But on November
30th, when I attempted to address a meeting at Bolton under the
auspices of the local leaders of the Liberal party, such as Mr. Cross
[Footnote: Eventually the chairman named withdrew his support in view
of the agitation; and the Liberal Association (on the casting vote of
their Chairman, Mr. J. K. Cross) decided to refuse sanction to the
meeting.] (afterwards Under Secretary of State for India), Mr. Mellor,
and Mr. Haslam, there was a fearful riot, at which a man was killed
and a great number of persons injured by iron nuts and bars being
thrown in through the windows by the Tory roughs outside the hall.'
[Footnote: Eight of the party who broke up the meeting were put on
their trial, and Serjeant Ballantine, who defended, made such play
with "Citizen" Dilke's unpopular opinions that "most of the jury felt
that, as loyal men, they were bound to acquit the prisoners." Mr.
George Harwood, the late member for Bolton, related in a letter of
1911 what he saw as "an indifferent young fellow" who had "strolled
down to look on." "The crowd" he writes, "was very thick and very
fierce, having declared that Sir Charles should not get away alive;
but when the excitement was hottest, Sir Charles came out of the main
door and stood quietly in sight of all, then struck a match and lit
his cigar, and walked unguarded and unaccompanied through the thickest
part of the crowd. His cool courage quite took everyone's breath away,
so not a sound was uttered."]

One passage in the speech is notable in view of later events: "I think
working men should not make themselves too much the slaves of any
political party, but should take care of the means of seeking
representation in Parliament, and when they have got the means in their
hands, they will then be able to use them so as to be favourable to their
interests as a whole."

'My speech at Newcastle had been not only as true as Gospel, but a
speech which, as Americans would say, "wanted making." But I was
nearly subjected to physical martyrdom for it at Bolton, and was
actually and really subjected to moral martyrdom for a time. The thing
was not, however, wholly painful. It had its ludicrous side. The then
Lord Chelsea, for example, afterwards my friend Lord Cadogan,
regretted, in a discourse at Bath with regard to my speech, "that the
days of duelling were over."'

The Memoir goes on to note that Lord Chelsea and Sir Alfred Slade, the
Receiver-General of Inland Revenue--

'who had both accused me of inventing "lies," afterwards asked to be
introduced to me and were very civil, and I, for political and local
reasons, had to forget their speeches and to be civil to them.

'On December 6th I spoke at Birmingham Town Hall, and Chamberlain, who
was Mayor, and who was my host, had the whole borough police force
present or in reserve, and had every interrupter (and there were
several hundred) carried out singly by two policemen, with a
Conservative Chief of Police to direct them, after which I delivered
an extremely humdrum speech to a very dull assembly. [Footnote: He
spoke on the House of Lords.] Chamberlain was more lively, and made a
speech in ridicule of Second Chambers, in which I still (1895) agree.
On the other hand, in Chelsea we carried the war into the enemy's
camp. The "loyal inhabitants" tried to hold a meeting at the Vestry
Hall to censure me, on which occasion no article or piece of furniture
larger than a match was left in existence in the room, and the meeting
concluded with a vote of confidence in me, carried in the dark after
the gas had been put out. The second attempt was made outside the
borough, at the Duke of Wellington's Riding School at Knightsbridge,
but the result was the same. Although the meeting was a ticket
meeting, the hall was stormed, and the loyal address to the Queen
captured and carried off in triumph by my friends. It is still (May,
1905) at the Eleusis Club--the centre for the Radical working men in

Hostility concentrated on Sir Charles because the courage and cogency with
which he expounded views shared by many men of standing, and men far
senior to himself at this time, marked him out for the public as the

'Fawcett had taken a far more active republican line, as had
Chamberlain, and both of them had joined republican clubs in towns,
while Fawcett had himself founded one in the University of Cambridge,
which had but a short existence. I had refused to join these clubs,
and to work in any way in connection with republican propaganda, but
it was difficult to get people to understand my position, and the
perfect legality of holding republican opinions was even denied by
many, while the wisdom of expressing them was denied by almost all.
Some thought that I was of opinion that an immense amount of
revolutionary feeling existed in the country, and that I wished to
lead a storm to my own profit. Some thought that I was sorry I had
said what I did.

'It never seemed to occur to anyone that there were many persons who
had been trained up in families republican in sentiment, and that it
was possible that I should have never been anything but a republican
without the trace of a "reason," and thought it honest to say so when
I was charged with Republicanism as with some fearful crime. But to
think and even to say that monarchy in Western Europe is a somewhat
cumbersome fiction is not to declare oneself ready to fight against it
on a barricade. It is only to protest against the silence of many
being read into agreement with the fulsome nonsense that the majority
talk about the personal loyalty of the country to the reigning House.
My Republicanism was, however, with me a matter of education. My
grandfather was a conservative republican in old age, a radical
republican in youth, but a republican through life, and, as I have
said before, my young ideas were my grandfather's ideas. It is a
mistake to think that republican opinions in England died with
Algernon Sidney, that Tom Paine was about the only English sympathizer
with the French Revolution, and Shelley, Landor, and Swinburne only
three mad poets. It is forgotten now that Burns subscribed to the
funds of the French Republic, that Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Moore
all wrote republican odes to it, and that at the beginning of the
century Southey and Brougham were republican, not to speak of Bentham
and Godwin and other writers on whose books I had been brought up.'

Sir Charles was not only denounced, but boycotted. [Footnote: Shirley
Brooks of _Punch_ wrote in his diary, under date December 5th, 1871:
"Macmillan asked me to dine, but as Sir C. Dilke, who has been spouting
Republicanism, was to be one, I would not go, hating to dine with a man
and abuse him in print, as I must do." (_Life, Letters, and Diaries of
Shirley Brooks_, by G. S. Layard).] He seems for the moment to have had
only two close friends available in London, Mr. Trevelyan and Lord Edmond
Fitzmaurice. The former--

'who had been deeply engaged in the anti-dowry agitation, although
keeping himself in the background ... used to come every Sunday to go
for walks with me; generally the two of us only, though on one of
these occasions he brought Wilfrid Lawson, the wit of the public
platforms, but a dismal man enough in private, [Footnote: Sir
Charles's friendship with the great Temperance Reformer was cemented
five years later by his adhesion to the Temperance ranks.

'February 4th, 1877, in Paris on my road I received a letter from
Wilfrid Lawson, who had learnt that I had turned teetotaller. I was as
a fact teetotaller for some eleven years, from 1874-1885. Lawson's
letter was in verse with a chorus:

"Coffee and tea,
Coffee and tea,
Those are the liquors for Lawson and me."

There was a good deal of chaff of the Bishop of Peterborough in the
letter, as this Bishop, whose name unfortunately rhymed to "tea," had
been speaking against Lawson's views in the House of Lords:

"Some day, perhaps, we both bishops may be,
And both much more sober than Doctor Magee,
Who finds that he cannot be sober _and_ free;
But it's only last week that I heard from you, Dilke,
That you'd rashly and recklessly taken to milk.
Abandon the habit, I beg and I pray,
Only think what the scoffers and mockers will say.
They'll say, with a cynical grin and a laugh,
'He has taken to milk--just the thing for a calf.'
Oh, abandon that milk--stick to coffee and tea,
For those are the liquors for you and for me.


"Coffee and tea,
Coffee and tea,
Finest of Mocha and best of Bohea;
"Coffee and tea,
Coffee and tea,
Those are the liquors for Dilke and for me."'] while George
Trevelyan was in private most agreeable.'

This social isolation, if it severed Sir Charles from some acquaintances,
restored to him a friend, Miss Katherine Sheil, who was living in Sloane
Street with Miss Louisa Courtenay, a near neighbour and old friend of
Charles Dilke. Both Miss Sheil's parents were dead. Her father, who died
when she was a baby, had been a Captain in the 89th Foot; her mother came
of an old Devonshire family, the Wises. Although she and Sir Charles had
been close friends for about three years, their friendship had broken

For a long time we avoided one another, and I was only forgiven when
the attacks on me in November, 1871, and the Bolton riot led to an
expression of sympathy on her part. Miss Courtenay, who knew us both
extremely well, ... said: "A very suitable marriage. You are neither
of you in love with one another, but you will get on admirably
together." Miss Courtenay was, perhaps, at this time not far wrong. I
had a profound respect for Miss Sheil's talent and a high admiration
of her charm and beauty, and I think she had more liking than love for
me. We both of us had a horror of the ordinary forms of wedding
ceremonies, and we told only five persons in all-my great-uncle, who
came up to town for the wedding, and was present at it; my brother,
who was in Russia; my grandmother, who kept house for me, and who was
present at it; George Trevelyan, [Footnote: 'On January 14th I
announced to him my intended marriage with Miss Sheil, which was a
profound secret... but our walks did not come to an end with my
wedding a fortnight later.' Sir Charles's marriage to Miss Sheil took
place January 30th, 1872.] and Kitty's maid.'

From a photograph by Hills and Saunders]

'We did not go far away till Easter. Castelar [Footnote: 'Easter,
1870, I spent in Spain. I made the acquaintance of Castelar, then
Professor of Political Economy in the University of Madrid, and
probably the first orator in the world--a little man, though not so
small as Thiers, or my other orator friend, Louis Blanc.'] sent over a
friend to ask me to go to stay with him in Spain, but when I had been
in Paris at the end of '71, I had found myself watched by the French
police, doubtless under the impression that I was helping the English
Comtists under Harrison in supplying English passports to the
Communards in hiding to help them to leave France; and I objected to
return to the Continent till this spy system was at an end.'
[Footnote: "Kinglake, dining with Thiers at the close of the Franco-
German War--the sole Englishman at a dinner to Deputies of the Extreme
Left--tells how 'among the servants there was a sort of reasoning
process as to my identity, ending in the conclusion, "il doit etre Sir
Dilke."' Soon the inference was treated as a fact, and in due sequence
came newspaper paragraphs declaring that the British Ambassador had
gravely remonstrated with the President for inviting Sir Charles Dilke
to his table. Then followed articles defending the course taken by the
President, and so for some time the ball was kept up. The remonstrance
of the Ambassador was a myth; Lord Lyons was a friend of Sir Charles,
but the latter was suspect at the time, both in England and France--in
England for his speeches and motion on the Civil List; in France
because, with Frederic Harrison, he had helped to get some of the
French Communards away from France, and the French Government was
watching him with spies" (A. W. Kinglake: _a Biographical and Literary
Study_, by the Rev. W. Tuckwell, p. 114).]

This assurance was procured for him by his friend Louis Blanc from
Casimir-Perier, then Minister of the Interior, who wrote by the hand of
his son, afterwards President of the Republic.

'Before I could leave London, I had to meet my constituents, which I
did with complete success, and to stand the fire of my enemies by
bringing forward in the House of Commons, on the earliest day that I
could obtain, a motion on which I should be able to repeat the
statements of my Newcastle speech, that they might be answered if any
answer could be given.

'I had a rival in this project, a member who had given notice in the
previous session for a Committee to inquire into the Civil List,
George Dixon, known at that time in connection with the Education

But as the day, March 19th, approached, Mr. Dixon wrote to Sir Charles--

'saying that his mind had been greatly exercised with regard to the
motion of which he had given notice, and which had originally been
suggested to him by Trevelyan, that he had come to the conclusion to
leave the matter in my hands, but that he thought it one which ought
to be brought before the House. "Of course," he added, "I shall go
into the lobby with you if you divide the House." This, however, he
did not do.'

No ordinary moral courage was needed to face the demonstration which had
been carefully prepared. The House of Commons has seldom witnessed a
stormier scene.

When Sir Charles stood up in a crowded House, charged with that atmosphere
which the expectation of a personal incident always engenders there, Lord
Bury intervened with an appeal to privilege, and, backed by tempestuous
cheers, asked the Speaker to refuse the member for Chelsea a hearing on
the ground that by declaration of republican principles he had violated
the oath of allegiance. When this appeal had been dismissed, Sir Charles,
on rising again to address the House, was, in the discreet words of
Hansard, "received with much confusion." There was a "chorus of groans and
Oh's and ironical cheers." But the House, after a brief demonstration,
settled down to hear the speaker, who proceeded to set out the grounds on
which he asked for full information concerning the Civil List under a
number of tabulated heads, "his object," said the London correspondent of
the New York Tribune, "clearly being to crowd as many facts as possible
into a certain amount of time." It was, he says himself, 'solid and full
of matter, but studiously wooden, 'unutterably dull,' and 'towards the
latter part of the speech members went trooping out of the House, and
conversation was general.' At last Sir Charles sat down, and men crowded
in, all agog to hear Mr. Gladstone, who had sat uneasily on his bench,
"longing to be at him," says one reporter; and at him he went, with
tremendous artillery of argument, sarcasm, and declamation, while the
Opposition cheered every point to the echo, though the Liberals sat in
glum silence. Probably many of them shared the feeling which Sir Wilfrid
Lawson reflects in his _Reminiscences_, that Mr. Gladstone was "often most
unfair in debate," and on this occasion (not for the first time) "simply
tried to trample upon Dilke, having the whole House at his back."

The Prime Minister ended with an appeal for the division to be taken at
once, but Sir Charles's seconder, one of the most picturesque figures in
the politics of that time, insisted upon claiming his part in the
condemnation. Not so much Radical as Anarchist, converted from the
traditional Toryism of his surroundings by the influence of J. S. Mill and
Ruskin, Auberon Herbert was at this moment vehemently republican, and
nothing would serve him but to rise and, in supporting this motion purely
on the Civil List, to make an avowal of republican principles:

'He stood up before a howling House, which had listened quietly to me,
but was determined to have no more, with remarkable pluck, equal to
that with which he had faced bullets in the Danish lines; but it was
partly useless and partly mischievous.'

When clamour failed to silence the speaker, members trooped out, and
attempts were made to count out the House, but unsuccessfully. Thereupon
Lord George Hamilton "spied strangers," and the Press having been
excluded, Tories trooped back and went resolutely to work to howl Herbert
down. Imitations of the crowing of cocks were said to have been given by
Mr. George Bentinck, though Sir Wilfrid Lawson declared that he did not
hear them, and added:

"If there was such a manifestation it was, however, for the last time
in the House of Commons; therefore I mention it. The division was 276
against 2--the two consisting of Anderson, one of the Glasgow members,
and myself. [Footnote: Dilke and Herbert acted as tellers.] I think my
vote was quite right, for the returns asked for by Dilke were due to
the country, and Mr. Gladstone did not at all benefit the monarchy by
withholding them."

That was the impression which Sir Charles desired to leave on the mind of
Radicals. But he had produced also the effect that he intended on the mind
of the general public. The Press complained

'that my speech was voted prosy, and that my want of vivacity tended
to prevent the interruptions which had been organized, and that it
would have been impossible to make an oration more mild and
inoffensive. This was exactly what I had wished and intended....

'My speech was left unanswered, and I afterwards had the satisfaction
of arranging while in office for acting on the principles which I laid
down, and that action has since been taken. My main point was the
right of the House of Commons to inquire into the Civil List even
during the continuance of the reign, a right important because inquiry
at the beginning of a reign is held under circumstances which prevent
the possibility of its being satisfactory. This has since been
admitted by Mr. Gladstone himself, and my view has been acted on. Mr.
Gladstone professed to answer me at the time, and to do so with much
vigour, but as a fact he carefully avoided coming to close quarters.
He stated indignantly that he had not been able to find who were the
members of the Committee of 1837 who had complained of insufficient
investigation, to whose complaints I had referred, and he said this as
though none did complain, although it is notorious that Grote and his
friends, especially Hawes, did so complain. He maintained that I was
wrong in saying that the Civil List in the present reign was greater
than in the last, although I was quoting a Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and although Mr. Gladstone made his figures support his
view by including the allowance to Queen Adelaide, while I properly
excluded both that allowance and the allowance of Prince Albert, as
these personages were supposed to spend these allowances themselves,
and not to hand them over to the King or to the Queen Regnant, as the
case might be. Mr. Gladstone denied the pretended statement by me that
the annuities to Princes and Princesses in the present reign were
unprecedented in amount, but I had never named Princes, and I had
never named amount. What I had said was that the provisions made for
the Royal children during the reign were unprecedented in character,
and so they were, as I showed clearly in my speech, and especially the
allowances to the Princesses. Mr. Gladstone, with regard to the Royal
savings, declined to go into the Exchequer accounts on the ground that
I had not given him enough notice. I had given him eight days' notice,
and he had not asked for any further information than that which I had
afforded him. He argued that the savings were not great, for L590,000
had been spent on private allowances and personal pensions, a fact
which was wholly new to us and not intended by Parliament. He argued
that there was little to say about sinecures, because none had been
created during the present reign, a reply which gave the go-by to the
fact that the old ones continue. Long afterwards, when I was Mr.
Gladstone's colleague, he recanted a good deal of his doctrine of
1872, as I shall show. Indeed, in 1889 all the information was given
to the House which I had asked for and been refused in 1872, and the
principle was laid down by the Committee on grants to the Royal
Family, which I had privately suggested in 1880.' [Footnote: See also
Chapter LIX., which deals with the Committee on the Civil List (Volume
II., pp. 526, 527).]

During the whole of 1872 it was not easy to find a platform on which local
Liberals would be at ease in company with the member for Chelsea. Even
Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice hinted that at a meeting held in Wiltshire to
promote the cause of the agricultural labourer, Dilke and Auberon Herbert
would be better away. But towards the close of the year, when a meeting
devoted to the same cause was fixed for Exeter Hall, Joseph Arch, its
chief promoter, insisted that Sir Charles should speak, and though the
appointed chairman, Sir Sydney Waterlow, resigned his office, Archbishop
Manning and Dr. Jackson, Bishop of London, made no scruple of attending
while Dilke's speech was delivered.

'It was a dreary speech, and, given the fact that my speaking was
always monotonous, and that at this time I was trying specially to
make speeches which no one could call empty noise, and was therefore
specially and peculiarly heavy, there was something amusing to lovers
of contrast in that between the stormy heartiness of my reception at
most of these meetings, and the ineffably dry orations which I
delivered to them--between cheers of joy when I rose and cheers of
relief when I sat down.'

But courage and resource and knowledge had got their chance. His opponents
had gone about to make a marked man of Sir Charles Dilke; within six
months they had established his position beyond challenge as a man of



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