Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Vol. 2 by Stephen Gwynn

Part 10 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

so greatly valued.

"You have been a good and kind friend to me ever since I entered the
House, and I have always valued both your friendship and your good
opinion, when you could give it me. I have known well enough that I
owed much to Lady Dilke's friendship and affection for my wife; but
I shall never forget how generously that friendship was extended to
me. I was very deeply sensible of the privilege of receiving the
confidence and the good-will of a very noble and wonderfully able

"But I must not weary you with too long a letter. All I want to tell
you is that I cherish the hope that even now that this bond of
union, this comprehending and reconciling presence, is no longer
here to keep our tempers wise and sweet, you may still count me
among your warm friends, and--despite the estrangement of party
politics--may continue to give me your good-will and may believe in
the continuance of mine."

The Administration of Mr. Balfour fell in the last days of 1905. Sir
Henry Campbell-Bannerman was entrusted with the formation of a Liberal
Government, and the question was at once eagerly asked, in political
circles, whether Sir Charles Dilke would be a member of it. In February,
1905, he had written to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice expressing a hope that
he would be outside the next Government, so as to be free to oppose the
deal with Russia which in his opinion Sir E. Grey was contemplating.

The feeling of the Conservative party on the question of his return to
official life is sufficiently shown by the fact that he had previously
been sounded as to his willingness to accept the chairmanship of the
Royal Commission on the Poor Law. That the attitude of the Court towards
him had changed is also clear. Not only was his attendance at Levees
approved, but he and Lady Dilke had received the royal command to the
Queen's Garden Party at Windsor. The attitude of his own party was,
however, the determining factor.

Before the critical time actually arrived, there had been tentative
conversations, and, although Sir Charles did not expect that any
invitation would come to him, Mr. Labouchere thought otherwise, and a
letter from him describes conversations which he had held with Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman: "I thought then from his general observations that
you would be War Minister."

In Labouchere's opinion the determining factor was a public
correspondence in which Dr. Talbot, then Bishop of Southwark, took the
lead in protesting against any such appointment. But this was probably a
mistaken view. There is no reason to believe that the Liberal leader had
any wish to include Sir Charles in his Ministry. The Cordite vote was
not forgotten by the members of the Liberal Administration of 1892-1895.
No office was offered to Sir Charles. His answer to the letter written
by Labouchere on January 6th was:

"I never thought C.-B. could possibly offer me the War Office, and I
could not have refused it or made conditions for the post, and it
would have killed me. I did not expect him to offer me any place.
Had my wife lived, that would have hurt her, and, through her, me.
As it is, I prefer to be outside--a thing which, though often true,
no one ever believes of others.

"But when in office--April, 1880, to June, 1885--I was exceptionally
powerful, and nearly always got my own way in my department. That
could never have been repeated--a strong reason why I have all along
preferred the pleasant front seat in the house to a less commanding
position on the stage."

When Mr. Haldane's name was announced for the War Office, Mr. Arnold-
Forster sent a message agreeing with Sir Charles's high estimate of the
new War Minister's abilities. "By far the best appointment they could
possibly make--with the one exception." And Mr. T. R. Buchanan,
Financial Secretary to the War Office, wrote in reply to Sir Charles's

"I have taken the liberty of showing your letter to Haldane, and he
desires me to thank you for what you say about him, and he values it
all the more highly because of your generosity. You would certainly
have been the natural man to be now in his place, and it is a public
loss that you are not in it."

At the election which followed Sir Charles was re-elected by an enormous
majority for his old constituency, after issuing this, the shortest of
all his habitually short addresses:

"Gentlemen,--I solicit with confidence the renewal of your trust.

"Believe me, your devoted servant,
"Charles W. Dilke."

In the autumn of 1905 he had delivered a series of addresses, mainly to
audiences of Labour men, advocating a general co-operation of Radicals
with the Irish and Labour groups. For Ireland he urged a return to the
"Parnell-Chamberlain scheme of 1885," but applied as a part of Home Rule
all round. His proposal was that the Irish members should in the autumn
sit in Dublin, the Scottish members in Edinburgh, the Welsh in Wales,
and the English at Westminster, and should then transact local affairs,
their decisions being ratified or rejected by the United House when it
met in spring as an Imperial Parliament.

In December, 1905, he wrote to Mr. Deakin:

"The composition of the new Ministry seems to me, as to everybody
else, good. The Imperial question will slumber, I think, until the
Irish question has become again acute. The Ministry ought to be able
to do very well in 1906; two Sessions up to Christmas. In 1907 I
expect a row with Redmond, in which I shall be more or less on
Redmond's side. The Liberal party will not face the fact that they
cannot avoid dealing with the Irish question without the certainty
of the Irish moderates, of whom Redmond is the most moderate, being
forced to say: 'We can no longer keep Ireland quiet for you.' The
Liberal party will not have coercion, and, that being so, they have
no alternative except to do what they ought to do. It would be wiser
to do it before they are compelled; and if they did it before
compulsion was applied, they would have more chance of carrying the
country with them."

In a lighter vein he wrote to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, commenting on the
extraordinary predominance of Scottish members in the Cabinet, on
December 15th, 1905:

"I had already, before I received your criticism on the Scotch,
suggested to Hudson (who is with me) the things that Labouchere is
likely to say about his friends, and had yesterday got as far as his
turning round and asking us in a loud whisper: 'Who is it who
represents _England_ in this Government?'

[Footnote: The Cabinet consisted of nineteen persons. Of these, the
Prime Minister (Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman); the Chancellor (Lord
Loreburn); the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Asquith); the Secretary
of State for the Colonies (Lord Elgin); the Secretary of State for India
(Lord Morley); the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Haldane); the First
Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Tweedmouth); the Chief Secretary for Ireland
(Mr. Bryce); the Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Sinclair)--nine in
all--were Scottish Peers or represented Scottish constituencies. It was
also observed that Sir Edward Grey's constituency was the Scottish
Borderland; and it was jestingly said that John Burns was put into the
Cabinet because he had persuaded the Premier that he descended from the

Mr. Birrell, when the Government was formed, was not in Parliament, but
his last constituency had been Scotch, The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
was Lord Aberdeen.]

"We used to think that the value of Randolph was that he gave to
politics the constant pleasure of the unexpected. Rosebery now does
this in the Lords, and Charles II.'s truthful saying about the House
of Commons, 'It is as good as a play,' becomes on account of
Rosebery temporarily true of the House of Lords. We shall all of us
be drawn there very often, and even such a House of Commons man as
your humble servant, grumbling the while, will nevertheless find
himself attracted to that 'throne.'"

When the new Parliament met in 1906, Labour had for the first time a
really important representation. [Footnote: See Chapter LII., "Labour,"
p. 346.]

Sir Charles noted in his Diary: 'The Labour party was my original scheme
for the I.L.P. as developed in talks at Pyrford, before its formation,
with Champion and with Ben Tillett. To join it or lead it was never my

His purpose was rather to be a connecting link between the varying
groups in the development of a legislative programme which he forecast
with shrewd prevision. On January 6th, 1906, he wrote to Labouchere:

"As I now seem to have the confidence of Balfour, Redmond, and Keir
Hardie, the position will be difficult; but in the present year
Redmond and Keir Hardie will, I think, join with me in supporting
Government. Next year it will be different, unless, as I expect,
Grey goes for H.R. The small Budget of 1906 will be a
disappointment, and so, I fear, will be the big one of 1907.

"The really weak point is that the Government is damned unless it
fights the Lords in 1907, and that the promise of 'five years in
power' will prevent the hacks from fighting."

Holding these views, it was natural that he should seek to maintain that
organization of a Radical group which had existed continuously since
Fawcett established, or rather revived, it on first entering the
Parliament of 1865-1868. The Radical Club, of which Sir Charles himself
was the first secretary, grew out of this, and was largely directed by
him till 1880, when he ceased, on taking office, to be a member.
[Footnote: For earlier mention of the Radical Club, see Vol. I., Chapter
VIII., p. 100.] His brother succeeded him in the secretaryship; but with
Ashton Dilke's death the club died also, being replaced by a loose
committee organization which lasted till 1893, and then came to an
untimely end because the party Whips attempted to pack the meeting which
elected this committee. The elected body was then replaced by a
virtually self-chosen group. In 1904 an emergency committee of this
group was appointed; and when the new Parliament met, Sir Charles was
the only member of the committee left. Mr. Harcourt and Captain Norton
had taken office, Mr. Stanhope had gone to the Lords, Mr. Labouchere had
retired. It therefore fell to Sir Charles to reassemble surviving atoms
of this organism, to attract new ones, and to make known its nature and

It had always been essential, in his view, that there should be no
"party," no chairman, and no whips; but simply a grouping for the
purpose of stimulating the Government by pressure as to practical and
immediate Parliamentary objects on which advanced men think alike or
harmoniously, and for current arrangements, such as balloting for
motions and generally making the best use of private members' time.

There was at the outset a great influx of members, and three secretaries
were appointed. At all meetings at which he was present Sir Charles took
the chair, and through this centre exercised much influence, committing
the House of Commons to a series of resolutions--abstract indeed, but
none the less important.

The various objects which Radicalism should have before it in 1906 are
sketched in a kind of shorthand summary:

"Good understanding with Irish Nationalist members, based on at
least the Parnell-Chamberlain National Council scheme of 1885, and
with the Labour party for common objects.

"So far as further political reforms are needed no registration
reform worth having, but principle of adult suffrage of all grown
men and women carries simplification and single vote.

"Payment of members and expenses.

"Single Chamber, or restriction of power of House of Lords (i.e., no
'Reform' of = stronger). [Footnote: Sir Charles always maintained
that "Reform" of the House of Lords would result in strengthening
its position.]

"Fiscal reform, capable of being dealt with by Budget or
administratively, and money to be saved by ... increased revenue
provided by increased graduation of death duties and by relieving
the Imperial Exchequer of the local grants, substituting taxation of
land values by the local authorities for the latter.

"This last point is closely connected with full power to local
authorities to acquire land for all purposes, and this with
municipal trading and other forms of municipal Socialism. The heads
of the Labour policy are now so universally embraced as not to be
specially Radical; Taff Vale, for example, being supported by all
Liberals and some Tories, and the Miners' Eight Hours receiving the
support of nearly all Liberals and of some Tories."

On the question of electoral reform, and specially of woman's suffrage,
all his action was guided by one conclusion thus expressed, and embodied
in the Franchise Bill introduced by him each Session:

"The limited franchise, if it is ever carried, will be carried as a
party Conservative measure intended to aid Conservative opinions and
to rest the franchise upon an unassailable limited base, and it will
be carried in that case against the counter-proposal of the suffrage
of all grown men and women, made by those representing the advanced
thought of the country." [Footnote: Memorandum by Sir Charles Dilke
on "Suffrage of All Grown Men and Women," issued by the People's
Suffrage Federation.]

It is unnecessary to emphasize the completeness with which political
evolution has followed the lines here marked out by him. Others reaped
the harvest. But no man then living had done more to sow the seed.

The Parliament in which he found himself was one of singular interest.
He wrote:

"The old form of party divisions is, in the great majority of
constituencies, not yet much affected by recent events. In the House
of Commons it is almost dead for the present year....

"The future cannot be foreseen, and in politics it is always foolish
to attempt to prophesy. I have frequently myself made or quoted the
remark that in politics a year is equivalent to eternity. I have now
limited myself to 1906. Whether the party system, in which British
statesmen of our time and of past generations have been nurtured,
will ever be restored is another matter. Whether the birth of a
definite Labour party, in addition to a definite Irish Nationalist
party, will be followed by any further division, or whether, as I
expect, it will not, yet the division into four parties--of which
three will compete actively for the favour of the British
electorate--will, I think, continue, and we follow here the line of
political development in which first the Australian Colonies, and
now the Commonwealth, have led the way." [Footnote: _Potentia_,

Writing in the _Financial Review of Reviews_ for April, 1906, he spoke
of the "extraordinarily interesting nature of the debates," of which
example had already been given, and he foreshadowed no less interesting
action. The changes which he had in view, mainly financial, were "not
likely to be popular in the City, with solicitors, with the organized
representatives of the employing class," but none the less they would
probably be carried into law. The old assumption that democratic
movements would be carried into legislation "by capitalist members
steeped in Radical pledges" had ceased to correspond with the facts. A
new type of member of Parliament had appeared, and Sir Charles welcomed
the change.

"It is possible that the members are more Radical than the
constituencies. This is an arguable question; but that they are
convinced upon such questions, not by pressure, but by training and
by thought, is a conclusion which no one who knows the present House
of Commons can resist.

"There has probably never sat so interesting a House of Commons in
the history of this country. With a good deal of experience of
Parliaments and of their inner life and thought, and with the
opportunity of frequent discussion with those who, like Mr.
Gladstone, remembered all the Parliaments back to the early
thirties, and those, like Mr. Vernon Harcourt, [Footnote: George
Granville Vernon Harcourt, elected to the House of Commons as member
for Oxford in 1831. He held his seat till 1859.] who remembered much
earlier Parliaments, I am certain that there has never met at
Westminster an assembly so able and at the same time so widely
different in intellectual composition from its predecessors as that
which is now there gathered. The development of opinion, however, is
less of a surprise to those who have watched Australia and New
Zealand than to those who have confined their studies to the United
Kingdom and the Continent." [Footnote: In 1911, when Lord Hugh Cecil
described with violent rhetoric the alleged degradation of the House
of Commons, Mr. Balfour was moved to protest, and cited in support
of his own view "a man whose authority had always been admitted." "I
remember," he said, "talking over with Sir Charles Dilke the
question of general Parliamentary practice, and he said, and I
agree, that there has been no deterioration either in his or in my
Parliamentary experience."]

Payment of members he did not live to see, but he always regarded it as
"an extraordinary anomaly that payment should have been discontinued in
this country."

"Members are paid in every other country in the world, and in every
British colony (I believe without exception). Non-payment means
deliberate preference for moneyed oligarchy, as only rare exceptions
can produce a democratic member under such a system. It excludes all
poor men of genius unless they can get themselves paid by parties
like the Irish, which makes them slaves. It throws undue power into
the hands of the capital as the seat of the legislature, and it
leads to poor members selling their souls to rotten compromises."

Despite the advance of age and a growing weakness of the heart, the
impression which he produced was always one of commanding vigour. His
habit of fencing kept him alert and supple in all his movements.
Notwithstanding his elaborate preparation for the work, no man's
appearances in debate were less premeditated; he spoke when he felt
inclined: had he spoken for effect, his interpositions would have been
much less frequent. But when tactics required it, no man was more
willing to efface himself. Especially was this so in all his relations
with Labour; when he could leave to the Labour party the credit of
moving an important amendment, he gladly left it to them. Yet when he
was more likely than they to secure Liberal support, he was prepared to
move against the Government, and in one notable amendment on the Trade
Disputes Bill brought down their vast majority to the bare figure of
five. [Footnote: For a fuller account of Sir Charles's work connected
with the Taff Vale Decision and the Trade Disputes Act, see "Labour,"
Chapter LII, pp. 345 and 365.]

The work which in these last years cost him most labour--in view of his
failing health, it would have been well for his friends had he never
undertaken it--was that given to the Committee on the Income Tax, of
which he became chairman in 1906. Sir Bernard Mallet (now Registrar-
General) writes in 1916:

"In the spring of 1906 the Government decided to appoint a strong
Committee to inquire into the questions of graduation and
differentiation of the income tax, which had for some Sessions been
coming into prominence in consequence of the financial difficulties
caused by the South African War. Mr. Asquith, then Chancellor of the
Exchequer, offered the chairmanship to Sir Charles Dilke, who had
never claimed to be an expert in finance, and only accepted it after
strong pressure, and the Select Committee set to work accordingly
early in May. Having taken up the work, which occupied most of the
summer, Sir Charles threw himself into it with immense energy. He
familiarized himself with all the literature bearing on the
question, and he made a point of calling, as witnesses, not only the
usual officials, but also as many outside economists and
statisticians as might be able to throw light upon questions which,
as he rightly conceived, lay at the root of any proper consideration
of the problem before the Committee. He attached special importance
to all the evidence bearing upon foreign and colonial methods and
principles in the taxation of income and property, and to the
endeavour he made to get at statistics bearing on the distribution
of income--two vitally important factors introduced by him, for the
first time, into any official handling of the subject.

"But the result of all the knowledge, thoroughness, and enthusiasm,
which, as his friends could testify, he lavished without stint (and,
it is to be feared, to the serious detriment of his health) upon the
work, must have somewhat disappointed him. Sir Charles's attempts to
deal with the matter in a comprehensive spirit and produce a report
which would rival in interest the famous reports of two previous
Select Committees on the subject, those of 1851 and 1861, were
hampered by the necessity, under which the Committee lay, of
devising a means to increase the yield of the income tax with the
least political friction. The two expedients which came most
prominently before the Committee were those of differentiating the
rate of the income tax in favour of earned or precarious incomes,
and of imposing a supertax upon the larger incomes. Both of these
were included in the recommendations of the report which was
ultimately adopted, [Footnote: Report of the Select Committee on
Income Tax, II. of C. 365 of 1906.] and carried into effect in the
Budgets of 1907 and 1909 respectively. [Footnote: See _British
Budgets_, by Bernard Mallet (1913), pp. 262, 263, 274, 277-281, and
305, where also some comments on the recommendations of the
Committee are to be found.] Sir Charles's own view was opposed to
both these methods. He would have preferred to differentiation, even
in the limited form (up to L2,000 a year) in which it became law,
the method of separate taxation of property, or income from
property, as in Prussia and Holland, if death duties were not
considered as sufficient taxation upon property.

"He was certainly impressed by the unscientific character of the
proposed differentiation; by the difficulty of distinguishing
between 'earned' and 'unearned' incomes, and by the possibilities of
abuse which this method of dealing with the question offered.
Supertax he would have reserved for a national emergency, but it
should not be supposed that his opposition to it implied opposition
to graduation either in principle or in practice. He was, indeed,
strongly in favour of a graduated income tax, but, in his judgment,
a supertax was a somewhat clumsy way of effecting the purpose aimed
at. In his opinion the universal declaration of all taxable incomes
was an indispensable preliminary to the full and just graduation of
the income tax, and written notes of his are in existence showing
how much importance he attached to this point.

"Holding these views, he could not produce a report sufficiently
decisive in its acceptance of the methods favoured by the majority
of his colleagues.

"The stupendous increases which have taken place in the rates of the
income tax owing to the present war, increases far surpassing
anything contemplated by the Committee over which Sir Charles
presided ten years ago, have thrown all such controversies as these
into the shade; but apart from the practical results of its
recommendations, which for good or ill left at the time a very
decided mark on fiscal legislation, this investigation succeeded,
owing mainly to his influence, in eliciting a quantity of evidence
which will always make it of historical interest to students of



Even before his return, in July, 1892, to Parliament, Sir Charles Dilke
was still a powerful critic of the country's foreign policy. It is a
curious commentary on the wisdom of those who believe that, except at
moments of special excitement or of public danger, it is impossible to
interest the electorate in foreign affairs, that during this period he
was constantly able to gather large public audiences in the North of
England and in Wales, and induce them to listen to careful criticisms on
questions such as the delimitation of the African continent, the
Newfoundland fisheries, British policy in the Pacific, and the future of
the Congo State. This was achieved, although no party appeal could be
made or was attempted, and although there was a deliberate effort by an
influential section of the London Press to boycott the speaker. In these
speeches Sir Charles pointed out that a perhaps too general acquiescence
existed on the part of most Liberals in the foreign policy of the
Government, merely because Lord Salisbury had made no attempt to
continue or to revive the pro-Turkish and warlike policy which had
distinguished the Government of Lord Beaconsfield in 1878. Lord
Salisbury was now mainly intent on settling outstanding questions with
France and Germany, especially in Africa, dealing with them one by one.
The ordinary Conservative partisan still said in public that nothing
could be worse than the foreign policy and practice of the Liberal
party; but he was also saying in private that the policy of his own
party was little better, that the army both at home and in India was
neglected, and that the fleet was probably insufficient. Dread, however,
of Mr. Gladstone and of the possible return of the Liberal party to
power, made him with rare exceptions silent in Parliament; while, on the
other hand, the mass of the Liberal party had become supporters of Lord
Salisbury's foreign and colonial policy. "The fact that Lord Salisbury
had not been an active Turk or an active Jingo had proved enough to
cover everything." [Footnote: "The Conservative Foreign Policy,"
_Fortnightly Review_, January, 1892, by Sir Charles Dilke.] But the
absence of any well-sustained criticism in Parliament had evident
disadvantages, and Sir Charles's speeches at this time supplied the

The political fortunes of France between 1887 and 1895 were at a low
ebb. The financial scandals which led to the resignation of President
Grevy in 1887, the serio-comic political career of General Boulanger,
dangerous and constant labour disturbances in the great centres of
industry, the Panama financial scandals of 1893, the assassination of
President Carnot in 1894, and the impossibility of forming stable
Ministries, caused a general lack of confidence in the future of the
Republic both at home and abroad, which the facile glories of the Paris
Exhibition of 1889 could not conceal. The foreign policy of the country
seemed to consist in a system of "pin-pricks" directed against Great
Britain, and in hostility to Italy, which culminated in anti-Italian
riots in the South of France, a tariff war, and the entry of Italy into
the alliance of the Central Powers. The letters of Sir Charles during
this period are full of expressions of despair at the condition of
French politics and at the general lack of statesmanship. The suspicion
which he entertained of Russian intentions caused him also to look
askance at the newly formed friendship of France with Russia, which,
commencing with the visit of a French naval squadron under Admiral
Gervais to Cronstadt in August, 1891, was finally sealed by a treaty of
alliance signed in March, 1895, though the precise terms were not known.
[Footnote: In a letter to M. Joseph Reinach written after the appearance
of _The Present Position of European Politics_, Sir Charles says: "I did
_not_ say Gambetta had been a great friend to the Poles. I said he hated
the Russians. He told me so over and over again. He held the same view
as Napoleon I. as to Russia, and said, 'J'irais chercher mes alliances
n'importe oui--meme a Berlin,' and, 'La Russie me tire le pan de
l'habit, mais jamais je n'ecouterais ce qu'on me fait dire.' But, in
searching for my own reasons for this in the first article, I said that
as a law student he had been brought up with a generation which had had
Polish sympathies, and that perhaps this had caused (unconsciously, I
meant) his anti-Russian views. I know he did not believe in setting up a

In Germany the position was different. The Dual Alliance devised by
Prince Bismarck between Germany and Austria-Hungary had become the
Triple Alliance by the accession of Italy, and had been further
strengthened by an assurance of naval support given to Italy by Lord
Salisbury in the event of the _status quo_ in the Mediterranean being
disturbed. The presumable disturber aimed at was evidently France.
[Footnote: "In 1903 Lord Lansdowne explained that in February, 1887,
there had been that exchange of notes between Italy and ourselves of
which I had written in that year. In _The Present Position of European
Politics_ I made allusion to Disraeli's proposal, before his defeat in
1880, of a league of the Powers for the defence of the _status quo_ in
the Mediterranean. The notes of February, 1887, nominally dealt only
with the Mediterranean _status quo_ desired in common, it was said, by
Italy and Great Britain. Cynics might be tempted to ask whether all
Italian Ministers desired the maintenance of a _status quo_ in a
'Mediterranean' which included the coast of Tunis, the coast of Tripoli,
and even, Lord Lansdowne added, the Adriatic." (Sir Charles Dilke in the
_English Review_, October, 1909: "On the Relations of the Powers.") On
this subject see _Crispi Memoirs_, vol. ii., chap. v.] The meddlesome
intrigues of Russian partisans, and a long series of political outrages
culminating in the murder of M. Stambouloff, were gradually forming an
Austro-German party in Bulgaria; while the wise and progressive
administration of Bosnia and the Herzegovina by Herr von Kallay had
encouraged a belief that some good thing might even yet come out of
Austria, notwithstanding the famous expression of a belief to the
contrary by Mr. Gladstone.

In the circumstances Lord Salisbury determined to base his policy on a
good understanding with Germany, and he had his reward. The African
settlement of 1890 was a comprehensive scheme which undoubtedly made
great concessions to German wishes, but, taken in connection with
subsequent enlargements and additions, it was hoped that it had at least
removed any real danger of collision between the two Powers principally
concerned. A treaty with France, recognizing a French protectorate over
Madagascar, was defended by its authors as the complement of the
arrangements of 1890, as to Zanzibar, with Germany. Subsequent treaties
with Portugal and Italy made the period decisive as to the future
division of the African continent. Both in Great Britain and Germany the
arrangements of 1890 were attacked as having yielded too much to the
other side. But looking at the treaty from an English point of view, Sir
Charles said there had been too many graceful "concessions" all round,
and of these he made himself the critic. He did not, however, identify
himself with the extreme school of so-called "Imperial" thought, which
seemed to consider that in some unexplained manner Great Britain had
acquired a prior lien on the whole unoccupied portion of the vast
African continent.

But in the treaty of 1890 there was one clause--the last--which stood
out by itself in conspicuous isolation, and this Sir Charles never
ceased to attack and denounce. It decreed the transfer of Heligoland to
Germany. The importance of the acquisition was not fully appreciated at
the time even in Germany. What the surrender might some day mean was not
understood in Great Britain. On both sides the tendency was to belittle
the transaction. [Footnote: Reventlow, 38-51. _Hohenlohe Memoirs_, ii.
470-471.] Apart from some minor interests possessed by British
fishermen, Lord Salisbury described the value of the island as mainly
"sentimental," in the speech in which on July 10th he defended the
transaction in the House of Lords.

He supported the proposal by arguing that the island was unfortified,
that it was within a few hours' steam of the greatest arsenal of
Germany, that if the island remained in our possession an expedition
would be despatched to capture it on "the day of the declaration of war,
and would arrive considerably before any relieving force could arrive
from our side." "It would expose us to a blow which would be a
considerable humiliation." "If we were at war with any other Power it
would be necessary for us to lock up a naval force for the purpose of
defending this island, unless we intended to expose ourselves to the
humiliation of having it taken." This argument, Sir Charles Dilke showed
by a powerful criticism of the whole treaty in the columns of the
_Melbourne Argus_, went a great deal too far. It could be used for the
purpose of defending the cession of the Channel Islands to France. "The
Channel Islands lie close to a French stronghold, Cherbourg, and not
very far from the greatest of French arsenals, at Brest. They are
fortified and garrisoned, but they are feebly garrisoned, and they have
not been refortified in recent times, and could not be held without
naval assistance, and the argument about locking up our fleet applies in
the case of the Channel Islands, and in the case of many other of our
stations abroad, as it was said to apply in the case of Heligoland."
[Footnote: _Melbourne Argus_, September 10th, 1890. As to Heligoland,
see _Life of Granville_, ii, 362, 363, 425; Holland Rose, _Origins of
the War_, p. 18.]

Lord Salisbury went on to point out that we had obtained a consideration
for the transfer of Heligoland to Germany "on the east coast of Africa,"
a consideration which consisted mainly in an undertaking from Germany
that she would not oppose our assumption of the protectorate of
Zanzibar. But, said Sir Charles, the protectorate, when it included not
only the island of Zanzibar, but the strip of coast now forming the
maritime fringe both of British and of German East Africa, had been over
and over again refused by us. "I was one of those," Sir Charles
continued, referring to a still earlier chapter of Lord Salisbury's
policy during the short-lived Government of 1885-86, "who thought that
the policy of 1885 with regard to Zanzibar was a mistaken policy, and
that we should have insisted on supporting our East Indian subjects, who
had and have the trade on that coast and island in their hands. We had
joined with France in arrangements with regard to the whole Zanzibar
coast, and when we concluded an agreement with Germany about that coast
it became necessary for us to force that agreement upon the French on
behalf of Germany. A most mistaken policy, in my opinion, as we should
otherwise have had the support of France in resisting a German
occupation of any portion of the coast, an occupation which it is safe
to say would not have been attempted in face of a distinct statement on
our part."

Lord Salisbury expressed his inability to understand on what ground
those interested in South Africa objected to our recognizing an
imaginary German right over a strip of territory giving the Germans
access to the upper waters of the Zambesi. He said that our chief
difficulty about this territory was that we knew nothing about it; but
this consideration, Sir Charles said, "told against the agreement,
inasmuch as we had given up a territory which seemed naturally to go
with those which have been assigned to the South Africa Company, and
which might, for anything we knew to the contrary, be of high value in
the future." It was amazing to note how obediently the great majority of
the Conservative party followed Lord Salisbury's lead in accepting the
cession of Heligoland for no consideration at all, as Sir Charles
thought--in any case, for a consideration which must seem inadequate.
Contrast, he said, the grounds upon which the cession of Heligoland was
defended with those, welcomed by shouts of triumph from the
Conservatives, upon which the occupation of Cyprus was justified. It was
inconceivable that any man possessed of reasoning powers could support
holding Cyprus (which must be a weakness in time of war), and yet argue
that Heligoland must be a weakness of a similar kind, and therefore had
better be ceded. In the case of Heligoland the vast majority of the
islanders were opposed to union with Germany. In the case of Cyprus the
vast majority of the islanders were hostile to our rule, while the
majority of Heligolanders were favourable to our rule. To cede it
against the wish of the population was a step which should not be taken,
except for overwhelming national advantage, and that advantage most
certainly could not be shown.

"I am one of those," Dilke wrote, summarizing the argument of his
speeches, "who are sometimes thought by my own party to be somewhat
unduly friendly to the foreign policy of our opponents, a fact which I
mention only to show that I do not come to the present matter with
strong prejudice. I had heard during the negotiations in Berlin, and
some weeks before the publication of the agreement, the whole of its
contents with the exception of the cession of Heligoland, and I had
formed a strong opinion upon the facts then known to me--that it was a
thoroughly bad agreement, most unfavourable to British interests. The
only change since that time has been that Heligoland has been thrown in,
so that to my mind we are ceding that British possession, for which a
very high value might have been obtained, against the wish of the
inhabitants, and ceding it for less than no consideration. Lord
Salisbury seems to be subject to strange dimness of vision when Africa
is concerned. He positively claimed it as a merit, in the course of his
speech to the South African deputation, that while the Germans demanded
an enormous slice of our Bechuanaland sphere of influence, he had
induced them to put back their frontier; but I need hardly point out
that no German traveller had ever entered the country in dispute, that
we had for years acted on the assumption that it was within our sphere,
and that the Germans might as reasonably have set up a claim to the
whole sphere of influence and to all the territories previously assigned
by us to the British South Africa Company...."

In South-East Africa, too, it was to be remembered that we were dealing
with a country which is far less populated by natives and more open to
European settlement than was the case with Central Africa. [Footnote:
See supra, p. 84, as to the differences which had arisen in Mr.
Gladstone's Cabinet on this subject in 1884-85.]

"There has been in the whole matter," he declared, "a deplorable absence
of decision. If, when Lord Salisbury came into power in 1885,
immediately after the occupation by Germany of a slice of South Africa
and of the Cameroons, and at the moment of German activity at Zanzibar,
he had let it be clearly understood that we should support the policy of
Sir John Kirk, our Consul, and the Zanzibar Sultan's rule, and had at
the same time abstained from taking steps to facilitate the operations
of the Germans in Damaraland, we certainly should have occupied at the
present moment a stronger position than we do. But, instead of this,
Lord Salisbury allowed our Indian subjects established along the coast
to be ruined by German bombardments to which the British fleet was sent
to give some sort of moral support. Our explorers have carried the
British flag throughout what is now German East Africa and the Congo
State. They had made treaties by which the leading native sovereigns of
these countries had submitted to our rule, and the Germans are too
anxious for our countenance in Europe to have been willing to have
risked the loss of Lord Salisbury's friendship had he taken a very
different line." [Footnote: _Melbourne Argus_, September 6th, 1890.]

Though not professing to be himself an "African," Sir Charles also asked
how those who professed to come within that description, and speak as
advocates of an Imperial policy in the vast and undeveloped regions of
the Dark Continent, could quietly accept, as they seemed prepared to do,
the break in the so-called Cape to Cairo route which had been allowed to
form part of the great agreement of 1890.

"What, then," he asked in 1902, "have the Tories done with the free hand
that has been given them? Above all, they have 'made up to' Germany, and
this apparently for no definite object and with no definite result. They
have given to Germany as far as they could give; they have certainly
helped her to procure the renewal of the Triple Alliance, by inducing
sanguine Italians to believe that the British fleet will protect them
against France, though as a fact we all know that the House of Commons
will not allow a British fleet to do anything of the kind. France has
wholly given up the Temporal Power, and would not have threatened Italy
had Italy held aloof from the Triple Alliance; and, in spite of a recent
speech by the Minister of Austria-Hungary which was intended to 'pay
out' Italy for her talks with Russia, it is not Austria that would have
raised the question. Our Government have given Germany, so far as they
could give, a vast tract in Africa in which British subjects had traded,
but in most of which no German had ever been. They have also given
Germany Heligoland, which they might have sold dear, and which, if Mr.
Gladstone had given, they would have destroyed him for giving.... All
this for what? What have we gained by it?" [Footnote: _Fortnightly
Review_, January, 1902.]

The policy of Lord Rosebery and Lord Kimberley from 1892 to 1895
resembled that of Lord Salisbury in so far as it aimed at the settlement
of outstanding questions with Germany and France. The apprehensions of
trouble with France were still serious, because a constant succession of
short Ministries at Paris made any permanent agreement difficult if not
impossible. The few Foreign Ministers who were occasionally able to keep
their place for any length of time at the Quai d'Orsay were also
generally those who as a rule were indifferent, if not actually hostile,
to friendship with this country, such as the Duc Decazes in the early
days of the Republic, and M. Hanotaux at a later period, who, however,
was quite ready to invite Great Britain to join in reckless adventures.
[Footnote: Sir Charles notes in November, 1896, that Mr. Morley reported
that 'Hanotaux had told him that he could not understand why England had
refused to join in a France, Russia, and England partition of China.
"China is a dead man in the house who stinks."'] Towards France Lord
Rosebery's Government twice took up a firm stand: first in regard to her
aggressive action in Siam; and secondly by the clear warning, given
through Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons, that if the expedition
of Major Marchand, which was known to be crossing Africa from west to
east, reached the Nile Valley, as it eventually did at Fashoda, British
interests would be held to be affected. The gravity of this warning was
at the moment very inadequately comprehended by the House and by the
country, notwithstanding the repeated attempts of Sir Charles to
reinforce it before rather unconvinced audiences.

A firm attitude towards France was greatly facilitated through the
friendly position adopted towards Great Britain by Count Caprivi (the
successor in 1890 of Prince Bismarck in the Chancellorship of the German
Empire) and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Baron Marschall. This
period indicates the high-water mark of friendly relations between
Germany and Great Britain; and though Count Caprivi retired in 1894,
when he was succeeded by Prince Hohenlohe, who had special ties with
Russia, these friendly relations may be said to have been prolonged, so
far as the official relations of the two Governments were concerned,
though with ever-diminishing vitality, up to the retirement of Baron
Marschall from the Foreign Office in 1897. [Footnote: See the
observations of Reventlow, 115-118, and Buellow, _Imperial Germany_, 31,
34.] In this period German commercial policy took a strong turn towards
freer trade, to the great wrath of the feudal and military parties in
Prussia, who were the centre of the forces hostile to a good
understanding with Great Britain. The secret treaty also which Bismarck
had negotiated with Russia, behind the back of his allies, was allowed
to lapse, and a more conciliatory attitude was adopted towards the
Poles, which gratified Liberal opinion, especially in this country. But
even in the time of Baron Marschall there were evidences of the
existence in Germany of currents of opinion of a less friendly
character, which were able from time to time to assert themselves in
African affairs. As Sir Charles Dilke pointed out, Germany had joined
with France in 1894 in objecting to, and thereby nullifying, the Congo
Treaty of that year with Belgium; and some of the territories which had
been handed over to Germany in the neighbourhood of the Cameroons in
1893, with the express object, apparently, of barring a French advance
in that region, had been handed over by Germany to France by another
treaty in 1895. [Footnote: Reventlow, pp. 52, 53, admits this. For the
treaties themselves, see Hertslet, _The Map of Africa by Treaty_, ii.
658, in. 999, 1008.]

Throughout the period from 1892 to 1895 a Liberal Ministry was in
office, but hardly in power. For the next ten years a strong Tory
Administration possessing unfettered freedom of action was in real
power, with an Opposition weakened by internal dissension. It was not
unnatural that, under such discouraging conditions as to home affairs,
Sir Charles should have again devoted most of his time to foreign
questions and army reform.

"I recognize," Mr. Balfour wrote to him, in regard to some arrangements
as to the business of the House, "that no man in the House speaks with
greater authority or knowledge on foreign affairs than yourself, and
that no man has a better right to ask for opportunities for criticizing
the course in respect of foreign affairs adopted by this or any other
Government." [Footnote: March 31st, 1897.]

This recognition was general, so much so that what he spoke or wrote on
foreign affairs was constantly translated, reproduced verbatim and
commented upon in foreign newspapers--a distinction enjoyed as a rule
only by official speakers, and not always by them; while original
contributions from his pen were eagerly sought for not only at home, but
abroad, especially in France and in the colonies, "Il a pese constamment
sur l'opinion francaise," the _Figaro_ wrote at the time of his death;
and his known friendship for France and everything French made plain-
speaking at times possible without exciting resentment. Even those--and
there were many in England--who disagreed with his criticisms of the
details of Lord Salisbury's policy, felt the comprehensive grasp of his
facts, and the vast store of knowledge on which he drew; and the members
of his own party, many of whom did not altogether go with him, or
sometimes, perhaps, quite grasp his standpoint, nevertheless enjoyed,
especially while their own oracles were dumb, the sound of the heavy
guns which, after his return to Parliament, from time to time poured
political shot and shell into the ranks of the self-complacent
representatives of the party opposite. In those ranks, too, there were
men who at heart agreed very largely with the speaker, while compelled
by party discipline to maintain silence. On the other hand, there nearly
always came a moment when Conservative approval passed into the
opposite, for Sir Charles had no sympathy with the vast if rather
confused ideas of general annexation which prevailed in Conservative
circles: the policy of mere earth-hunger which Mr. Gladstone had
denounced in 1893.

[Footnote: See above, p. 256.]

When Lord Salisbury returned to the Foreign Office in 1895, the policy
of "graceful concessions" to France seemed to Sir Charles to have begun
again--concessions in Tunis, concessions in Siam, concessions all
round--and he returned to the attack. Tunis, he again pointed out, dated
back to 1878, when M. Waddington received, in his own words as given in
his own statement, a spontaneous offer of that country in the words
"Take Tunis. England will offer no opposition." But at least certain
commercial rights and privileges were then reserved. Now they were gone.
Even the nominal independence of Madagascar had finally disappeared.

Sir Charles also drew attention to the one subject of foreign affairs
upon which, during the last Parliament, Mr. Curzon never tired of
attacking, first Mr. Gladstone's and then Lord Rosebery's Government:
this was the advance of the French in Siam. Lord Rosebery had gone to
the verge of war with France in checking the French proceedings, and
when he left office France was under a promise to evacuate Chantaboon
and the provinces of Batambong and Siamrep, and to set up a buffer State
on the Mekong. We were then in military occupation of British Trans-
Mekong Keng-Cheng. Lord Salisbury came to an arrangement which left
France in Chantaboon and these provinces, thus giving away, against our
interests, what was not ours to give--as he had done in Tunis--and he
evacuated and left to France British Trans-Mekong Keng-Cheng, in which a
50 per cent, _ad valorem_ duty had just been put on British goods (from
Burmah), a duty from which French goods were free. Not only did Lord
Salisbury himself make this arrangement, but he had to submit when
France, in alliance with Russia, forced the Government of China to yield
territory to France, in direct derogation of China's treaty engagements.
Lord Salisbury had since made what was known as the Kiang-Hung
Convention with China; and it commenced by setting forth the cession by
China to France of territory which had been ceded to China on the
express condition that it should not be so ceded to France. This action
on the part of China was brought about by the violent pressure of France
and Russia at Pekin, which Lord Salisbury passed over. "The defence of
his Siam arrangements in the House of Commons consisted in Mr. Curzon,
who had become the representative of the Foreign Office, informing the
House that the provinces (which he had formerly declared most valuable)
were unimportant to British trade, and in pacifying assurances that the
Upper Mekong was not navigable, although a French steamer was actually
working on it where Mr. Curzon said no ship could go." [Footnote: Letter
to the _Liverpool Daily Post_, December 2nd and 5th, 1898.]

In the days of these petty collisions in West Africa and all the world
over--the "policy of pin-pricks" to which at this time Mr. Chamberlain
made fierce allusion in a public speech--Sir Charles arranged to publish
a dialogue between himself and M. Lavisse of the French Academy
discussing the international situation. "I shall be answering the
_Temps_ article which replies to you," he wrote to Chamberlain on
December 26th, 1898. "Lavisse, being of the Academy, wants a month to
polish his style. The dialogue will not appear till February 1st or
15th. There will be nothing in it new to you. What is new and important
is that the French, impressed by the fleet, and pressed by their men of
business, such as Henri Germain, the Director of the Credit Lyonnais,
and Pallain, now Governor of the Bank of France, want to be friends.
I've told these two and others that it is useless to try and settle
things unless they will settle Newfoundland. These two came back after
seeing Ministers, including the Foreign Minister and the Minister for
War, Freycinet, and independently said that they want to settle
Newfoundland. They've quite made up their minds that Germany does not
want them and will not buy their friendship. I have not seen Monson (the
British Ambassador) since my second interview with them, but I told
Austin Lee last night to tell him the terms on which I thought that
Newfoundland could be settled if you want to settle it. I do not put
them on paper as I am sending this by post."

The Newfoundland dispute as to rights of fishing under the Treaties of
Utrecht and Paris was one to which Dilke always attached special
importance, and immediately after this letter to Chamberlain he wrote
upon it in the _Pall Mall Magazine_ (February, 1899), describing it as
"the most dangerous of all international questions, as it is also one of
the most difficult." [Footnote: This dispute was mainly concerned with
the question whether the French fishermen possessed an "exclusive" or
only a concurrent right in the so-called French shore, under the above-
mentioned treaties (see Fitzmaurice, _Life of Shelburne_, 2nd ed., ii.
218). It was finally settled in the Lansdowne-Delcasse agreement of
1904, with other then pending questions. Sir Charles Dilke gave a useful
summary of the history of the question and its numerous developments
after 1783, in a small volume entitled _The British Empire_, published
in 1899.] Great Britain appeared to him to "have gone infinitely beyond
the strict terms of the treaty in the concessions to France made for the
sake of peace," and to have made proposals which "would not be tolerated
for an instant if any of the other ten self-governing colonies were in
question," and were only considered because of the "poverty and
feebleness of Newfoundland." Lord Salisbury was, in his eyes, no worse a
sinner in this respect than the Liberal Government of 1893, except that
Lord Salisbury had also made concessions in giving up the existing
situation secured by treaty in Madagascar, in Tunis, and in Siam,
against which there might have been set off a settlement of this "really
dangerous question." He said that in Newfoundland the British navy was
being used to coerce British colonists into submission to the French
demands; and he foresaw peril to the colonial relation, as well as peril
in the international field.

Whether it was possible during the period now under consideration to
make an alliance, or even to establish friendly relations with Germany
on a solid and permanent basis, is a question which will never fail to
be the subject of discussion and controversy: for on it hinged the
future of Europe. With an unfriendly France and a German Chancellor--
Prince Hohenlohe--aiming, and for a time with some partial success, at
re-establishing friendly relations with Russia, the advantages of a good
understanding between Great Britain and Germany were obvious; for hardly
had the difficulties on the North-West frontiers of India been for the
time quieted by the "Pamir" Treaty of 1895, [Footnote: This Treaty was
made while Lord Kimberley was Foreign Secretary.] when the war between
Japan and China opened up the long series of events in the Far East
which culminated later on in the Russo-Japanese War. In those events all
or nearly all the European Great Powers were taking a hand; Germany was
aspiring to take a leading part, and had to a certain extent obtained it
by the command-in-chief of the Allied Forces being given to Count
Waldersee, and by the expedition to relieve the Legations in Pekin. But
the Jameson Raid and the congratulatory telegram of the Emperor to
President Kruger in January, 1896, showed that Germany might intend also
to have a South African policy, which in the hands of a less skilful or
a less friendly Foreign Secretary than Baron Marschall might open,
notwithstanding all the previous treaties, a new chapter of diplomacy.
Meanwhile Baron Marschall, with the hand of a skilful jurist, softened
down the meaning of the famous telegram, by a close and minimizing
interpretation of the words, and, as a practised diplomatist, went out
of his way to meet the wishes of Lord Salisbury, who had proposed that
the cost of the recent British Expedition to Dongola should be a charge
on the funds of the Egyptian Caisse.

But Baron Marschall's tenure of his post was becoming precarious, and
Sir Charles did not believe in the possibility of any alliance or
permanent understanding with Germany. He feared, on the contrary, that
one result of the policy of concession might be ultimately to tempt
France, Germany, and Russia, to form a practical and informal union
against Great Britain, similar to that which had proved so great a cause
of anxiety in 1884-85. This, though not a formal alliance, had been
almost as dangerous as one more specific and avowed, and it was now, he
thought, likely to be found to exist with reference to events in China.

After the defeat of China by Japan in 1895, every year brought some new
and dangerous development, and the break-up of the Chinese Empire seemed
near. Any understanding on the part of Great Britain with Russia, in
regard to China, Sir Charles believed to be unreliable, and probably
impossible, and Lord Salisbury's policy, which seemed to have gone out
of its way to let Russia into Port Arthur, showed in his opinion
deplorable weakness.

Mr. Chamberlain in a speech in the winter of 1898--which was followed by
others in the same strain--had seemed almost to propose an alliance with
Germany. Following him at Birmingham, Sir Charles pointed out that the
Secretary of State for the Colonies had said: "If the policy of
isolation which has hitherto been the policy of this country is to be
maintained in the future, then the fate of the Chinese Empire may
be--probably will be--hereafter decided without reference to our wishes
and in defiance of our interests;" and went on to say: "If, on the other
hand, we are determined to enforce the policy of the open door, to
preserve an equal opportunity for trade with all our rivals, then we
must not allow jingoes to drive us into a quarrel with all the world at
the same time, and we must not reject the idea of an alliance with those
Powers whose interests most closely approximate to our own." No doubt,
Sir Charles replied, the Government were pledged to pursue the policy of
"equal opportunity for trade," but they had not successfully maintained
that policy in action. What were the Powers, he asked, which Mr.
Chamberlain had in view when he went on to say: "Unless we are allied to
some great military Power, as we were in the Crimean War, when we had
France and Turkey as our allies, we cannot seriously injure Russia"? Mr.
Chamberlain must have referred to an alliance with Germany. Personally,
Dilke said that he "was entirely opposed to a policy of standing and
permanent alliances; but was there any prospect that Germany would ever
agree to bear in Europe the brunt of defending for us--for that was what
it would come to--the most dangerous of our responsibilities? Prince
Bismarck's policy on the subject had been avowed over and over again; he
had foreseen these suggestions, and had rejected them in advance.
Speaking in 1887, Prince Bismarck said: 'Our friendship for Russia
suffered no interruption during the time of our wars, and stands to-day
beyond all doubt.... We shall not ... let anyone throw his lasso round
our neck in order to embroil us with Russia.' And again in 1888: 'No
Great Power can, in the long-run, cling to the wording of any treaty in
contradiction to the interests of its own people. It is sooner or later
compelled to say, "We cannot keep to that," and must justify this
announcement as well as it can.' [Footnote: See, too, _Bismarck
Memoirs_, ii., pp. 258, 259.] In 1890 the present German Emperor renewed
the Triple Alliance, and the relations also of Germany and Russia had
never, he believed, been closer than they were at the present time. Any
notion of a permanent or standing alliance with Germany against Russia
was, in short, a Will-o'-the-wisp. Opposed as he was to the whole policy
of alliances as contrary to the true interests of this country, he was
specially opposed to this particular proposal, because it was calculated
to lead our people to think that they could rely on the strong arm of
another Power instead of only on their own strong arm." [Footnote: The
speech of Mr. Chamberlain referred to above was made at Birmingham. It
was followed by speeches at Wakefield on December 8th, 1898, and at
Leicester on November 20th, 1899.]

Yet a strong action in the Near East, Sir Charles thought, might have
compensated for a feebler policy on the Pacific Coast. In Armenia,
Christians for whom Great Britain was answerable under the Treaty of
Berlin were being massacred, but Lord Salisbury did nothing to help
them. In November, 1896, there was a faint stir of public opinion, but
many of the suggestions made in regard to what ought to be done were
unwise. [Footnote: _November 4th_, 1896.--'Morley told me that in order
to force the hand of the Turks, before July, 1895, Kimberley had
proposed to force the Dardanelles, and that Harcourt had stopped it. Mr.
Gladstone had written to Morley to insist on his speaking about Armenia
and to complain of his lukewarmness. I said: "But Mr. G. in 1880, when
something could have been done, confined himself to what he called
'friendly' words to the Sultan.'" See on the whole subject _Crispi
Memoirs_, vol. ii., chap. ix.]

"No one," Sir Charles had said in 1896, "would protest more emphatically
than he did against some of the advice which had been given. One of the
ablest journalists and highest of financial authorities, Mr. Wilson, had
suggested the landing of a few troops and the deportation of the Sultan
to Cyprus. The defences of the Dardanelles were not such as could be
very easily forced even by the British fleet.... No British Admiral,
even if he succeeded in forcing the Dardanelles, would have troops to
land who could overcome the Turkish guard, an army corps, and the
excited Turkish population." Elsewhere, with prophetic foresight, he
showed that the forcing of the Dardanelles could not be carried out
without "heavy loss, possibly tremendous loss, and that the loss of a
first-class British ironclad is equivalent to the loss of an army corps
with all its guns." [Footnote: Letter to the _Macclesfield Chronicle_,
September 19th, 1896.]

Crete was now again in a state of chronic rebellion against Turkish
rule; and Turkish methods of repression only stimulated the popular
demand to be joined to Greece. Sir Charles Dilke thought that, if the
Powers really wished to coerce Turkey to bring about better government
within its dominions, coercion could most safely begin in the Greek
islands, where European fleets could absolutely control the issue and no
question of Continental partition need arise. In Crete the Sultan could,
Sir Charles believed, have been compelled to accept a nominal
sovereignty, such as he retained over Cyprus; and the aspiration towards
Hellenic unity, the need for Hellenic expansion, might thus have been

If England had taken "instant and even isolated action," France would,
he thought, not have thwarted British policy. "The effect would
ultimately have been the addition of Crete to the Greek kingdom under
the auspices, perhaps, of all the Powers, perhaps of the Powers less
Germany, perhaps of only three or four of them." [Footnote: Ibid.]

The occasion was missed, and war, declared by Turkey against Greece,
followed, and years of anarchy in Crete. The Ministers of the Powers
"even in the free Parliaments of the United Kingdom and France" "used
pro-Turkish language," and attacked those who, because they upheld the
traditional Liberal policy of both countries, were accused of abetting
the Greeks.

"The blockade by the fleets of the Powers became pro-Turkish, and
Europe took sides against Greece in the war. If Greece had been
allowed to hold Crete, she could have exchanged it against Thessaly,
if the worst had come to the worst, without those financial
sacrifices which are now necessary. [Footnote: Such a proposal had
actually been made in 1881 by Prince Bismarck. _Life of Goschen_, i.
214; _Life of Granville_, ii. 226.] The very claim of the Powers to
have localized the war by stopping the Slav States from attacking
Turkey is in itself a claim to have interfered on one side."

When Greece was defeated, "the majority in the Parliament of the United
Kingdom, if not of the British people," Sir Charles wrote, "professed
that their burning sympathies for Greece had been destroyed by Greek
cowardice, although the stand, at Domoko, of ill-supplied young troops
against an overwhelmingly superior force of Turkish veterans deserved
fairer criticism." He interpreted his own duty differently, and when the
Hellenic cause was most unpopular he continued to express his faith in
the "rising nationalities of the Eastern Mediterranean," and looked
forward with confidence to a future in which Palmerston's generous
surrender of the Ionian Islands should be emulated by a new act of
Liberal statesmanship. "There can be little doubt that Cyprus, as a part
of a great scheme for strengthening the elements of the Eastern
Mediterranean that are hopeful for the future, will not be kept out of
the arrangement by any reluctance on the part of the United Kingdom to
let its inhabitants follow the tendencies of their race!" [Footnote: The
above Notes on Crete relate to the period when war broke out, in 1897,
between Greece and Turkey, and the Turks invaded Thessaly.]

"Oh for an hour of Canning or of Palmerston!" he said, at a great public
meeting in the North in October, 1898. "Canning was a Tory, a Tory
Foreign Secretary of State, a Tory Prime Minister, although at odds with
the Duke of Wellington upon some subjects. Lord Palmerston was looked
upon by many Radicals as a Whig, but in foreign affairs he had never
exhibited that carelessness and that absence of a willingness to run
risks for the sake of freedom which no doubt marred his conduct of home
affairs. Canning had seen the interest of Great Britain in maintaining
the Greek cause, as Palmerston had seen her interest in strengthening
Greece by allowing the Republic of the Ionian Isles, of which we had the
protectorate, to join her after the downfall of the Prince called by
Palmerston 'the spoilt child of autocracy, King Otho.' Canning had
consistently refused in circumstances of far greater difficulty and
danger than those which attended the Greek or Cretan questions in our
times, to be dragged at the heels of the great despotic Powers. Canning
resolved not only to assist the Greek cause, but in doing so to maintain
the superiority of British influence in the Eastern Mediterranean; and,
seeing the course which was clear in the interest of Europe and in our
own interest, he determined to settle the question in his own way, as he
at the same time settled that of South America to the immense advantage
of this country, which now had found in South America one of the best of
all markets for her trade. There never was a greater loss to England
than when Canning died as Prime Minister and was succeeded in office by
one of those fleeting figures who, in the language of Disraeli, were but
transient and embarrassed phantoms. [Footnote: Lord Goderich, Prime
Minister from August 8th, 1827, to January 8th, 1828.] The deeds of
Canning in the questions of Greece and South America, his regard at once
for liberty and for Britain, might be read in all the lives of that
great Minister, and what Palmerston did of the same kind in the case of
Italy was perfectly known."

In consequence of observations of this kind, he had to defend himself
more than once against the charge of "Jingoism," as the cant term of the
day had it; and more particularly in the debate on foreign policy on
June 10th, 1898, when it was made by an old political friend, Mr.
Leonard Courtney.

"I am one of those," Dilke replied, "who are in favour of large
armaments for this country, and believe in increasing the strength of
our defences for the sake of peace; and one of the very reasons why I
desire that is because I repudiate the idea of making our policy depend
upon the policy of others. I have always repudiated, and never ceased to
repudiate, the policy of grab which is commonly associated with the name
of Jingo.... I submit that the worst policy in these matters is to have
regard to our own rights only, and not to the rights of others. We want
our country to be viewed with that respect which men will ever cherish
for unbending integrity of purpose. We should be more scrupulous with
regard to asserting nominal rights which we do not intend to maintain.

"When such transactions are criticized, the Government always reply
by asking: 'Would you have gone to war at this or that particular
point, for this or that particular object?' It always appears to me
in these cases that there is some confusion in our minds about this
risk of war on such occasions. If the intention of the other Power
is to avoid war, war will be avoided when you quietly hold your own.
But if the intention of the other Power is war, there will be no
lack of pretexts to bring it about."

His policy, therefore, would have been to advance no claims but such as
could be made good, if need arose, by England's own carefully measured
resources in connection with those of France.

It was, however, impossible at this time to focus public attention upon
events in the Mediterranean, or even in the Nile Valley. The eyes of all
politicians alike were becoming fixed upon a different part of the
African continent.

Mr. Chamberlain had taken the Colonial Office in 1895, and it was in
reply to a short speech from Sir Charles Dilke during the brief Autumn
Session of that year that he expressed himself glad to outline his
general policy, and spoke of finding in the Colonies an undeveloped
estate, which he was determined to develop. His phrases caught the
popular imagination then as always. Colonial enterprise was the theme of
all pens and tongues. Then on New Year's Day of 1896 had come the
Jameson Raid. But in the stormy chapters of Parliamentary life which
followed Sir Charles took little part, beyond commending Mr.
Chamberlain's promptitude in condemning the Raid. The speech which he
made in the vote of censure on the colonial policy of Mr. Chamberlain,
moved on January 30th, 1900, as an amendment to the Address, by Lord
Edmond Fitzmaurice on behalf of the Opposition, was of an independent
character, dealing more with the military and naval aspects of the
position than those purely political. But, though standing rather apart
from the general line of attack, the speech was recognized as one of the
most weighty contributions to the debate, as it brought home to the
country on how dangerously narrow a margin of strength the policy of Mr.
Chamberlain rested, and how entirely it owed its success to the
maintenance of the navy of this country, which German Navy Bills were
about to threaten. Four years later, when the German naval preparations
were assuming a definite shape, he repeated these warnings in a still
more decisive manner by a speech which attracted great attention in
Germany itself, as well as at home. [Footnote: "Der fruehere
Unterstaatsecretaer des Auswaertigen, und sehr angesehene Sir Charles
Dilke, wies damals auf Deutschland bin und sagte: man vergroessere dort
die Flotte mit einer ausgewohnten Schnelligkeit und richte sich damit
oeffentlich gegen England." (Reventlow, p. 242).]

Sir Charles disapproved of the Boer War, [Footnote: "I am myself opposed
to the Milner policy, which led up to the South African War. But in
spite of the Natal events I do not share the opinion either that the war
itself will be a long one, or that foreign complications will arise."
("Risk of European Coalition," _Review of the Week_, November 4th,
1899).] but he held that when the country was seized by the war-fever
interposition was useless: it did more harm than good both at home and
abroad. Staying in Paris, in the early days of the contest, when we were
suffering and beaten for the moment, he told those who commiserated us
and threatened European complications to "wait and see," laughing at the
idea that England could be permanently at a disadvantage, but not
entering into the abstract merits of the question. If forced to speak,
he admitted that the war was "unwise," but his utterances were very few.
It, however, raised a general principle, inducing him to recall facts
which had been too frequently forgotten. The party which was now
opposing government by Chartered Company was, he said, the party which
had revived it in 1881 in the case of North Borneo; while the Tories,
who then had condemned that method of colonization, were now
enthusiastic for it. Sir Charles, who had opposed the system in regard
to Borneo, where it was attended by little danger, now pointed out that
not only had it produced the Jameson Raid in South Africa, but that on
the West Coast the Niger Company threatened to involve England in
differences with France by action which England could not control. These
were conclusive proofs that the principle which in 1881 he had resisted
to the point of seriously differing from his official chief was fraught
with inconvenience and dangers. The Niger Company's position, however,
was the affair of political specialists; South African policy was
embroiled with the fortunes of a gigantic gambling speculation.
[Footnote: This is recalled by a fact in Sir Charles's personal history.
His son became entitled on coming of age in September, 1895, to a legacy
of L1,000. Sir Charles offered him in lieu of that bequest 2,000
"Chartered South African shares." Had he accepted, he could, when the
legacy became due, 'have sold them for L17,000 and cleared L16,000
profit! But he refused them when offered, and,' says Dilke, 'not
thinking them things for a politician, I sold them, and (purposely) at a

The Transvaal War destroyed whatever prospects there might have been of
a permanent understanding with Germany, and Mr. Chamberlain before the
war was over had to make at least one speech which brought on himself
the fiercest denunciations of the German Press, when he replied in
vigorous language to the charge of cruelty brought against the British
military authorities in Africa. The absolute mastery of the sea
possessed by Great Britain probably alone prevented the Emperor forcing
his Ministers into some imprudent act; and it was clearly seen that
Count von Buelow, who had succeeded Baron Marschall as Foreign Secretary
in June, 1897, and afterwards succeeded Prince Hohenlohe as Chancellor
in 1900, though not desiring a conflict, and convinced, as he has since
told the world, that none need come, was nevertheless less friendly than
his predecessors, and intended to pursue rigidly the policy of a free
hand with a strong navy behind it. [Footnote: Buelow, _Imperial Germany_
(English translation), p. 47. A later edition, with considerable
alterations and additions, was published in 1916.] Events were visibly
fighting on the side of those who saw that France was the only possible
ally of Great Britain, and that the only other alternative was, not an
alliance with Germany, but a return to the policy of "splendid
isolation." The apologist of Prince von Buelow has himself told the world
that the policy of an absolutely "free hand" now inaugurated by the new
Chancellor was evidently one, in itself, of great difficulty, because
Germany might frequently be compelled to change front; and, to use an
expression attributed to Bismarck, might have to "face about" until
friendship with this country became impossible. The prognostication was
soon to be justified. [Footnote: Reventlow, p. 159.]

It was perhaps the decisive moment in the relations of Great Britain and
Germany, when Count von Buelow, with the ink hardly dry on the Anglo-
German treaty of October, 1900, which was supposed to be intended to
protect China against further Russian advances on the north, cynically
went out of his way to make a statement in the German Parliament that
the treaty did not apply to Manchuria. The reply of the British
Government was the Anglo-Japanese treaty of February 11th, 1902.
[Footnote: Reventlow (_German Foreign Policy_, 1888-1914) speaks of this
incident as the "Wendepunkt der Britischen Politik und der Deutsch-
Englischen Beziehungen." (p. 168). See, too, Berard, _La Revolte de
l'Asie_, pp. 192-194, 208, 209, 293.]

In February, 1901, a typical article from Sir Charles's pen appeared in
the _Figaro_, strongly urging the absolute necessity for the creation of
really cordial relations between Great Britain and France, which he
considered were the sure and sufficient guarantee of European peace. It
was true, no doubt, that the increasing strength and efficiency of the
French army were a guarantee, up to a certain point, of peace with
Germany, just as the weakness of the French army had been an active
temptation to Germany in 1870 to attack France. The joint action of the
Powers in China at the moment was also itself a sign of improved
relations. Nevertheless, as Moltke had said, Germany would remain armed
for half a century after 1870, if she intended, as she did intend, to
keep Alsace-Lorraine; and as Europe had for the present to remain an
armed camp, more could hardly be hoped than to maintain peace, however
burdensome the cost. Europe, Sir Charles urged, should try to realize
that a great war would probably be fatal, whoever might be the victor,
to her commercial world-supremacy--as the great and ruinous burdens,
which would everywhere result, would surely cause that supremacy to pass
to America. There the development of the resources, not of the United
States only, but also of the Argentine Confederation, ought to give
pause to those who did not look beyond the immediate future and seemed
unable to realize that a Europe laden with all the effects of some
gigantic struggle would prove a weak competitor with the New World on
the other side of the Atlantic. To remind Frenchmen that the English
have not always been victorious in war was no very difficult task; but
he ventured to remind Englishmen also that, as the English army was
quite inadequate to take a large part in a Continental war under the
changed conditions of modern warfare, Great Britain and France, while
united, should more than ever walk warily, and distrust the counsels of
those who occasionally in Great Britain spoke lightly of war. It was
easy to talk about the victories of Marlborough and Wellington; but the
military history of England was really a very chequered one, and of this
Englishmen were, unfortunately, mostly unaware. Our military prestige
had never been great in the commencement of our wars, and, as he had
said in the recent debates on the Boer War, [Footnote: House of Commons,
February 1st, 1900] we had too often had to "muddle through." On more
than one occasion--in America, for example, during the Seven Years' War,
and more recently in New Zealand--we had only been got out of our
difficulties by the help of our own colonists. Here at least was a great
future source of as yet undeveloped strength. The disastrous Walcheren
Expedition was on record; even Wellington had had to retire over and
over again in the earlier period of the Peninsular War; in the Crimea we
had not shown any great military quality beyond the bravery of our
troops. These were truths, unpalatable truths, but they had to be
uttered, if on the one hand the cause of army reform in Great Britain
was to prosper, and if on the other France was not to reckon too much on
the assistance of a British army on the Continent of Europe, especially
in the earlier stages of a war. [Footnote: _Figaro_, February 11th,

In a cordial understanding with France, therefore, Sir Charles Dilke
considered to lie the sheet-anchor of British foreign policy and the
best guarantee of peace. In 1898 the arrival of the French force at
Fashoda, on the Nile, had brought things to a crisis, and the firm
attitude then adopted by Lord Salisbury at length convinced France, as
Sir Charles always believed it would, that she must make her choice
between Germany and Great Britain. In the action of Lord Lansdowne, who
had succeeded Lord Salisbury at the Foreign Office in 1900, and in the
policy eventually embodied in the Anglo-French agreement of 1904, Sir
Charles recognized the views which persistently, but not always
successfully, he had urged for many years on his own friends in France
and England. But the new departure was only rendered possible by the
appearance at the French Foreign Office of a statesman who, after the
bitter experience of the final failure of the policy of "pin-pricks"
before Lord Salisbury's firm stand in the Fashoda affair, boldly threw
his predecessors overboard, and managed to make himself the inevitable
Foreign Minister of France for a long period of years, successfully
maintaining himself in office against every competitor and every rival,
while other Ministers came and went. Late, perhaps too late, the policy
of Gambetta was revived by M. Delcasse, and it held its own.

By 1903, owing to the complete change in the attitude of France, matters
had so much improved as between England and the Republic that Sir
Charles could write in the _Empire Review_ of "An Arrangement with
France" as possible, basing himself on recent articles in _La Depeche
Coloniale_, which had been the extreme anti-British organ. "That the
French colonial party should have come frankly to express the desire
which they now entertain for an arrangement of all pending questions
between the English and the French is indeed a return towards relations
better than any which have existed since Gambetta's fall from power."
But this improvement in the relations of the two countries was
materially aided by the influence of the personality of King Edward
VII., which Sir Charles fully recognized, as he also did one of the
consequences, which was perhaps not so fully seen by others. "The wearer
of the crown of England plays in foreign affairs," he wrote, "a part
more personal than in other matters is that of the constitutional King.
No one can deny that there are advantages, and no one can pretend that
there are never drawbacks, attendant on this system. It is not my
purpose to discuss it, but it makes the adoption in this country of
control by a Parliamentary Committee difficult, if not impossible."
[Footnote: _English Review_, October, 1909. Article by Sir C. Dilke.]
"The great and sudden improvement in the relations between the
English-speaking world and France is largely due to the wisdom and
courtesy with which the King made clear to France that there was no
ground for the suspicions which prevailed."

[Footnote: _Quarterly Review_, July, 1905, p. 313. Article by Sir C.
Dilke. With France Sir Charles had for the moment again a certain
official relation, having been placed on the Royal Commission charged
with British interests at the Paris Exhibition--an honour due to him not
only in his own right, but as his father's son. At this moment also,
when relations between the neighbouring countries were severely
strained, he gave to the Luxembourg the reversion of Gambetta's
portrait, and sent the portrait itself to be placed among the works of
Legros on exhibition in June, 1900. M. Leonce Benedez, curator of the
Luxembourg, in writing to press for the chance of exhibiting the
picture, said:

"Je m'excuse vivement de mon importunite, mais je serais tres
desireux que notre public peut etre admis a juger Legros sur cette
belle oeuvre. De plus, je serais, en meme temps, tres heureux que
les amis de votre grande nation, plus nombreux que la sottise de
quelques journalistes ne voudrait le laisser croire, fussent a meme
d'apprecier la pensee elevee et delicate de l'illustre homme d'etat
anglais qui, au milieu des circonstances presentes, a tenu a donner
a notre pays une marque si touchante de sympathie en lui offrant le
portrait d'un de ses plus glorieux serviteurs."

The exhibition drew Sir Charles and Lady Dilke for a summer visit to
Paris, and it was during this visit that the sculptor Roty executed his
medallion of Sir Charles.]

But wisdom and courtesy were not a little aided by the royal habit of
mixing easily with men at home and abroad, just as, on the other hand,
the long retirement of Queen Victoria had been injurious in an opposite
direction. This feeling finds expression in the fragment of commentary
in which Sir Charles dealt with the change of Sovereigns:

'The Accession Council after the Queen's death was a curious comment
on history. History will tell that Victoria's death plunged the
Empire into mourning, and that favourable opinion is more general of
her than of her successor. Yet the Accession Council, attended
almost solely by those who had reached power under her reign, was a
meeting of men with a load off them. Had the King died in 1902, the
Accession Council of his successor would not have been thus gay;
there would have been real sorrow.'

Sir Charles thought hopefully of the situation at this moment, and there
is a letter dated as far back as 1900 in which Mr. Hyndman noted the
"unusual experience" of finding an Englishman who took a more favourable
view of France than he himself, and expressed his fear that Sir Charles
underrated "the strength of the National party." [Footnote: How well he
understood France may perhaps best be judged by an article written, at
the desire of M. Labori, for the _Grande Revue_ in December, 1901. It is
called "Torpeur Republicaine," and begins with the observation that
English Radicals are tempted to think French Republicans more
reactionary than any English Tories, for the reason that all English
parties had practically, if not in theory, accepted municipal Socialism.
"In France," he said, "the electors of certain cities return Socialist
municipal councils. They are all but absolutely powerless. We, on the
other hand, elect Tory or Whig municipalities, and they do the best of
Socialist work."] But, notwithstanding the alliance of France with
Russia, the action of Russia in the Far East in the period covered by
the events which ended in the Japanese War had not diminished Sir
Charles's rooted dislike of any idea of _entente_ or alliance between
Russia and Great Britain. He considered that Sir Edward Grey meant to be
Foreign Secretary in the next Liberal Government, and was intent on
making an arrangement or alliance with Russia to which he would
subordinate every other consideration. "Grey," he wrote early in 1905 to
Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, "has always favoured the deal with Russia. I
hope I may be able to stay outside the next Government to kill it, which
I would do if outside, not within. This," he said, alluding to the
recent death of Lady Dilke, "assumes that I regain an interest in
affairs which I have wholly lost. I am well, but can at present think of
nothing but of the great person who is gone from my side." [Footnote:
February 2nd, 1905.] At this time the old controversy was again raging,
both at home and in India, over the question of the defence of the
North-Western Frontier of India; and a recent Governor-General and his
Commander-in-Chief in India, it was believed, had not altogether seen
eye to eye. The latter was credited with very extensive views as to the
necessity of an increase in the number of British troops, with a view to
the defence of the frontier against Russian attack. Sir Charles put
neither the danger of a Russian invasion nor the general strength of
Russia as a military nation so high as did some who claimed to speak
with authority; and he did not believe that we had any reason for
constant fear in India or elsewhere, or to seek alliances, in order to
avoid a Russian attack on India. The vulnerability of Russia on the
Pacific, which he had always pointed to, was demonstrated in the
Japanese War; as well as the miserable military administration of
Russia, which he had indicated thirty-eight years before as a permanent
source of weakness, certain to be exposed whenever Russia undertook
operations on a large scale at any great distance from her base.
[Footnote: In _Greater Britain_, ii. 299-312.] The Japanese alliance, he
believed, could never be directly utilized for resisting in Afghanistan
an attack by Russia on India. Happily, as he considered, the facts had
demonstrated that there was no need for such a display of timidity as
would be involved in marching foreign troops across India to defend it
on the frontier. [Footnote: _Monthly Review_, December, 1905. It is to
be observed that this argument does not involve any criticism of the
Anglo-Japanese Treaty considered as a defensive measure elsewhere.]

But if he thought that an alliance with Russia was not a necessity for a
sound British foreign policy, on the other hand he was equally convinced
that a good understanding with the United States of America was such a
necessity. He believed that if fresh subjects of difference were not
created, and any remaining questions of difference--like the Fisheries--
were settled, as the _Alabama_ and Alaska questions had been settled,
the old Jeffersonian tradition of suspicion of English policy would die
out, even in the Democratic party, and that no obstacle would then
remain to prevent the co-operation of all the branches of the race in a
common policy.

In a speech made in June, 1898, he had referred to the improved
relations with the United States in terms which gave credit for the
improvement mainly to Sir Julian Pauncefote, then Ambassador at
Washington, for whose services he had the greatest admiration.
[Footnote: Sir Julian Pauncefote had previously been Permanent Under-
Secretary for Foreign Affairs for many years.] When, in 1896, the
question of Venezuela had threatened to make trouble between the two
English-speaking Powers, he counted the claims of Great Britain in
respect of the frontiers of Guiana as "dust in the balance" when weighed
against the advantage of not "running across the national line of policy
of the United States." He desired to sink all such petty affairs in a
policy of Anglo-American co-operation in the Far East. Rivals for trade
in China they must be, but the interest of both lay in working for the
"open door" which admitted a friendly rivalry. He wrote in the _American
Independent_ for May 1st, 1899: "The will of the United States, if it be
in accordance with the will of Great Britain and of the Australian
Commonwealth--the will, in other words, of the English-speaking
peoples--will be paramount in the Pacific if they are united"; and he
was never weary of urging the improvement in England's relations with
the United States which would follow from a friendly settlement with
Ireland. [Footnote: In _Present Position of European Politics_, 1887, he
had said: "I, for one, still have hope that the causes of strangement
between Great Britain and the chief of her daughter-countries, which are
mainly to be found in the friction produced by the Irish Question, may
even within our lifetime be removed, and the tie of blood, and tongue,
and history and letters, again drawn close." And in a note written later
in his own copy are the words: "It is for the Americans of the United
States to decide how far towards firm alliance this shall be carried."
Cf. _Life of Beaconsfield_, iv. 231.]

Bearing in mind all these considerations, he believed, notwithstanding
all the wars and the rumours of wars, that the Great Armageddon so much
dreaded could be avoided by diplomacy combined with proper measures of
defence. The long chain of events formed by the Sino-Japanese War, the
Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, and the Russo-
Japanese War, were in his opinion "secondary events," however important,
appearing to threaten the peace of Europe from time to time--very
disquieting, no doubt, and ominous occasionally of yet worse things--but
things such as diplomacy had conjured away before, and ought to be able
to conjure away again. He did not think that Morocco, long regarded at
the Foreign Office as a danger-point, would ever prove a sufficient
object to induce Germany to break the general peace. She would threaten,
take all she could get, and then withdraw with the spoils, just avoiding
the danger-point; and so it no doubt turned out to be in 1905-06 at the
time of the troubles which ended in the Algeciras Conference. But he
recognized the personal character of the German Emperor as a new factor
of danger in the situation.

The essential point since 1871, he wrote in 1905, had been that there
never had existed a serious and settled intention of making the much-
dreaded "European War" on the part of any of those with whom the great
decision rested. There was, he said, to the good this main
consideration--that, if any Power had intended war, a sufficient
pretext could always have been found, yet the war had not come. The
security for the maintenance of the long "armed peace" was, in fact,
this: that no Power had really intended war, or intended it now. What
the consequences would be was too well known by the responsible leaders.
The sudden heats which most seemed to jeopardize peace had arisen in
regard to questions not of European importance, mostly outside Europe,
where sometimes on one side or the other, and sometimes upon both,
tactful treatment in advance, and what might be styled "a long view,"
would have saved the world from trouble altogether, and ought to do so
in future under analogous circumstances, whenever the question of the
Bagdad Railway and the remaining questions relating to Africa came up
for final settlement. [Footnote: _English Review_, October, 1909.]

The guarantee of peace he believed to lie in the policy of _ententes_,
but on condition that the policy begun by Lord Lansdowne and M. Delcasse
should aim at agreement between two Powers only, and be limited to
specific objects. [Footnote: See the same opinion expressed in 1871,
Vol. I., p. 133.] Beyond this it was dangerous to go. An _entente_
between more than two Powers, as distinct from one between two only,
reminded him of an American game of cards which he had seen played in
the Far West. This game when played by two persons was called _euchre_,
but when played by three persons was called by another and very
disagreeable name, because it so frequently ended in the use of knives.
The Franco-Italian agreements of 1898 and 1900, the Anglo-French
agreement of 1904, the Franco-Spanish agreement of 1904, the agreements
between Japan and Russia which had followed and grown out of the
Portsmouth Treaty of September, 1905, the Anglo-Japanese Treaty which
followed, and the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1907 as to Persia, were
guarantees for peace, because they came within the above definition. It
does not appear, however, that he considered the alliance of France and
Russia, dating so far as was then known from 1895, as a real guarantee
for peace, or that he shared the later views attributed to Gambetta, of
the desirability of an _entente_ between Great Britain, France, and

[Footnote: "M. Gaston Thomson publishes in the _Matin_ extracts from
letters by Gambetta to M. Ranc. In one letter, written apparently at the
time of the crisis of 1875, Gambetta says:

"'You must know that the forger of the Ems despatch is about to
commit another act of treachery. But our calmness and
self-possession will prevent us from falling into the same trap as
in 1870. The croakings of a sinister raven will not plunge us into
folly this time. He has understood his mistake. He has been able to
transform a divided and impotent Germany into a great, strong,
disciplined Empire. For us and for himself he was less well inspired
when he exacted the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, which was the
germ of death for his work.... Until they have remedied this error
no one will disarm. The world's peace, which is so necessary for all
peoples, will remain always at the mercy of an incident.' In order
to prepare France to meet the future, Gambetta strove to bring about
the alliance which to-day unites France, Great Britain, and Russia.
In a striking passage he writes:

"'The number and importance of Russia's difficulties grow every day.
L---- keeps the Prince of Wales informed day by day of the
difficulties of that Power. The political ambitions of Russia will
be impeded by Austria, who is already assuming a hostile attitude.
She is exerting pressure upon Rumania. Do you see, as a consequence,
Austria allying herself with Rumania and Turkey against Russia? What
a conflict!

"'The Prince of Wales, however, foresees it. He does not share the
hostility of a section of the English nation against Russia. With
all his young authority he fights against measures which may be
prejudicial to Russia. I see in him the makings of a great

"'I desire that our enemies should be Russia's enemies. It is clear
that Bismarck wants an alliance with the Austrians. Russia must
therefore be made to see that we might be her ally.... Since the
Revolution our country exerts great influence in Europe. Before long
I see Russia and England at our side, if we only have a proper
internal policy.'" (_Times_, December 30th, 1915).]

He was strongly convinced that the improvement of the French army since
1871 had been so great that it afforded by itself a sufficient reason to
give Germany pause, and he believed that the German Emperor considered
the French army better in some respects than his own. [Footnote: Baron
Beyens says that in 1911 it was the general opinion that in many
respects the French was in advance of the German army (_L'Allemagne
avant la Guerre_, p. 229). Ibid., p. 220.] An alliance between the two
Western Powers and Russia might, in given circumstances, on the one hand
encourage the party of _revanche_ and push the country into dangerous
adventures, and on the other tempt the war party in Germany to try again
some extreme course, as it had in 1875.

From this point of view Dilke regarded with suspicion and anxiety the
journeys of the King on the Continent after 1905, unaccompanied by a
Secretary of State according to the ancient constitutional practice, but
accompanied by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State from the Foreign
Office, a former Ambassador to St. Petersburg. This gave plausible
opportunities for encouraging the belief then prevalent in Germany that
some mysterious policy was being devised, outside the ordinary channels
of diplomacy and Parliamentary knowledge--a policy which, with the aid
of France and Russia, was to take the shape of encircling Germany with
enemies, and cutting her off from legitimate development. These
anxieties were stimulated by a considerable amount of foolish writing in
London newspapers, and still more foolish and unauthorized talk.

"France and Russia," he wrote in 1908, "are drawn together by
geographical considerations--given the detachment of French territory to
the benefit of Germany in 1871. It did not need the parade of an
alliance to cause Kings and statesmen to recognize the fact. War was
made impossible in 1875--the last occasion when the well-informed
thought renewed German attack on France probable--by the absolute
refusal of the German Emperor; but behind that refusal lay the certainty
that Russia would not forward the aims of the Prussian military party,
as she had done, for a consideration, in 1870. It is, perhaps, too
trivial a suggestion, but one which comes inevitably to the mind, that
the householder is apt to be friendly with the man who lives next door
but one, on account of their common dislike of their next-door
neighbour. During the 'reign of force,' still extant upon the Continent
of Europe, a more appropriate simile may be found in the proverbial
habit of each of two men, in a street fight, frightening his opponent by
recognition of a personage in the background. That Germany, however
ambitious, and however boastful of her military strength, should be
rendered nervous by the menace of Franco-Russian co-operation is a
consideration modified only by the universal recognition of the desire
of France for self-respecting peace. As soon as another Power is
suspected of any intention of making use of the Franco-Russian
co-operation for the purpose of isolating Germany, a dangerous situation
has arisen.

"We are so confident in our own profound knowledge of our wish for
European peace that we hardly realize the extreme danger for the
future which is caused by all suggestion that we have succeeded in
isolating Germany, or are striving to bring about that result. The
London articles written in violent support of a supposed alliance
did the harm; and to anyone who keeps touch for himself of
Continental opinion the harm was undoubted, and tended to produce
several undesirable results.

"There is a word to be addressed to those who believe that our navy
is our true defence, until the progress of pacific thought in the
working classes of all countries has rendered the other Powers as
peaceful as France. Those who crowed over the isolation of Germany
took the best means of increasing the German Fleet, and contributed
at the same time, by the proposed inflation of our expeditionary
force, to the weakening of the British Navy.

"The true explanation of the _entente_, and it needs no better, is
to be found in the defence of its essentially pacific nature by one
of its original authors, M. Delcasse. [Footnote: M. Delcasse had to
resign office in 1905, under German pressure, in connection with the
controversies about Morocco.] He had his faults as a Minister, and
on two occasions provoked alarms or dangers, which afterwards,
however, he did more than any other man to allay. Should
circumstances change and European war become likely, as it has not
in fact been likely since 1871, the basis for our alliances, if we
needs must have them, lies in our peaceful policy, our vigour, and
our fleet.

"Thanks to the alarm itself, which the harum-scarum articles
excited, prudence will once more gain control of our foreign
affairs. The _entente_ will continue: Italy, we may hope, will not
once more be scared out of her improved relations with Powers
outside the Triplice. Recent occurrences may be turned to useful
end, by courage in speaking out displayed by those who insist that a
policy, profoundly peaceful in fact, shall not be exposed to being
represented as directed against any one of the European Powers."

Italy, he believed--and events have justified the forecast--would be
compelled by the pressure of circumstances to leave the Triple Alliance.
How far Germany would be able to keep a permanent hold on Austria-
Hungary might also, he thought, be doubtful, as it would largely depend
on the developments of home issues in Austria itself, as to which
prophecy was always rash. Like other statesmen of an older school, he
still probably clung to the hope that the Dual Empire might yet be
gradually converted into a Federal State, in which the Slavonic
populations of the Empire would play a larger part and would not submit
to take marching orders from Berlin in regard to policy in the Balkans.
[Footnote: A short time before his death, in 1902, Lord Kimberley said
to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice: "If ever there is another Liberal
Government--which is perhaps doubtful--Grey or you, or both of you, may
have something to say to foreign affairs. Now, remember, there is on no
account to be any quarrelling with Austria. She has been the only steady
friend we have had in Europe--I mean since 1866. The Hungarians have
always been our friends. So, I repeat, _no quarrelling with Austria_. I
have said the same thing to Grey." (Notes communicated by Lord
Fitzmaurice). See, too, the opinion of M. Ribot, cited in Rene Henry's
_Questions d'Autriche-Hongrie_, pp. 176-178: "Quant a l'Autriche, nos
rapports avec elle ont toujours ete bons; ils ont ete pleins, non
seulement de courtoisie, mais de quelque chose de plus; parceque
l'Autriche sait que, de toutes les puissances europeennes, la France est
la derniere qui pourrait souhaiter que l'Empire d'Autriche, garantie
necessaire de l'equilibre europeen, se brisat et disparut pour le
malheur de l'Europe." (Speech in the Senate, March 11th, 1903). An
interesting collection of opinions on the development of Austria into a
federal State, and the probable results on the Balkan Peninsula, will be
found in the last chapter of the work of Dr. Aurel Popovici, _Die
Vereinigten Staaten von Gross-Oesterreich_ (Leipzig, 1906).]

Both in 1908 and 1909, in the debates on the Foreign Office Votes in the
House of Commons, Sir Charles had expressed apprehensions of the
development of Great Britain's _entente_ with Russia, in regard to
Persia, into something far more extensive, and therefore dangerous--into
something, in fact, very like an "alliance." He feared that in the
Bosnian question it had been pushed to extreme limits. The result, he
said, had been to lead to a diplomatic humiliation. He claimed also that
recent debates in the French Chamber, which had taken place at the time
of the fall of M. Clemenceau's Ministry in the later half of 1909,
showed that a large body of French opinion shared this view. [Footnote:
See, for a summary of these views, an article by Sir C. Dilke in the
_English Review_ of October, 1909, p. 495; and Hansard for 1908,
cxviii., 955-970; and for 1909, vol. viii., 621-635.]

With these preoccupations present to his mind he spoke on the last
occasion on which he addressed the House of Commons at any length on
foreign affairs--on July 22nd, 1909--when the policy of Sir Edward Grey
in regard to the final annexation of Bosnia and the Herzegovina by
Austria-Hungary was discussed on the Foreign Office Vote. He attacked
this policy because it seemed to confirm the belief in the alleged
tendency of the Foreign Office to extend the Anglo-Russian arrangement
in regard to Persia into a general _entente_, with the probable result
of producing exactly the opposite of the result intended, and of thereby
strengthening the consolidation of the Central Powers. The diplomatic
admissions and confessions of Lord Salisbury, both before and at the
time of the Berlin Congress of 1878, had, he thought, made it difficult
for the Foreign Office to take any decided stand against the final
annexation, which the existing position had been certain to cause sooner
or later. Turkey and Servia both complained. He did not deny that the
Turkish Revolution brought about by the so-called "Young Turks," who
were the cause of the crisis in the Balkans, held out some possible
prospect of a future less hopeless than the previous state of things;
but this might have been conceded without expressing "unreserved
approval of a military pronouncement attended by a good deal of
hanging." Servia also, no doubt, might be said in some degree to
represent democratic principles upon the banks of the Danube; but he
thought it difficult to reconcile the expression before a rather cynical
Europe--and in very strong language, too--of our official horror at the
conduct of the Servians in the barbarous murder of their King and Queen,
with our joining Russia so very soon afterwards in a support of Servia
against Austria-Hungary too absolute even for French concurrence.

Lord Salisbury, he fully believed, had become acquainted in 1877, if not
before, with the substance of an agreement between Russia and Austria
which contemplated, amongst other things, the annexation by the latter
of the Provinces; and it was perfectly clear, from what passed at the
Berlin Congress, that in 1878, before the meeting, Lord Salisbury must
himself have concluded an engagement with Austria-Hungary, though the
word "annexation," no doubt, did not appear in it, and more general
terms probably were used, but containing no reservation, and promising
support to the Austrian policy in those Provinces. Technically the
engagement might have lapsed with the treaty, and probably it had; but
the fact remained, with its moral consequences. Meanwhile Lord
Beaconsfield had taken Cyprus from Turkey, and had given a greater shock
to Europe, by the form and the secrecy of the proceedings, than could
possibly attach to the recent unilateral action of Austria-Hungary.
During the proceedings at Berlin, it must also be remembered, Lord
Salisbury had practically promised Tunis to France. Turkish sovereignty
was technically, indeed, still maintained in Cyprus, as it also had been
for thirty years in Bosnia and the Herzegovina, [Footnote: See, on the
whole subject. Hanotaux, _La France Contemporaine_, vol. iv., pp. 314,
363-370; _Etudes Diplomatiques: La Politique de l'Equilibre_, by the
same author, p. 184. A secret clause was signed on July 13th, 1878, by
the Austro-Hungarian Plenipotentiaries, in which the occupation was
described as temporary and ordered to be the subject of a special
arrangement with Turkey. The secret clause was really made to save the
face of the Turkish Plenipotentiaries on their return to
Constantinople.] and as it was at that time in the Sudan; but at no time
did the Turks expect to see those territories again under their
effective sovereignty. Insistence on the letter of the treaty also
weakened our position in regard to Crete, where, as he had so frequently
contended, nobody could wish or believe the position made by the treaty
to be permanent. Lastly, he insisted that the policy into which we had
been drawn by M. Isvolski had been damaging to our interests, not only
because it had strengthened the ties between the members of the Triple
Alliance, but because it assisted the popularity in Germany of a naval
rivalry, which oppressed us with the cost of ever-increased armaments at

Sir Edward Grey, he went on to say, had taken for his text the
declaration of the London Conference of 1871 as to the denunciation by
Russia, in 1870, of the Black Sea clauses of the treaty of 1856. But
Russia got her way, and had practically been told she would get it on
the main question before the Conference met. When in 1885 Eastern
Roumelia was swallowed by Bulgaria, all the Great Powers theoretically
protested, but nothing came of their remonstrance. In 1886 Russia broke
the article of the treaty which related to the port of Batoum; and Lord
Rosebery, no doubt, wrote a despatch based on the same doctrine as that
now adopted by Sir Edward Grey. But Lord Rosebery at least avoided
introducing new matters. His final despatch concluded with the words:
"It must be for other Powers to judge how far they can acquiesce in this
breach of an international engagement." Russia again succeeded. Why,
then, have complicated the original issue in the present case by joining
with Russia and France, at the instigation of the former, in putting
forward suggestions to be considered at a European Conference for the
territorial expansion of Servia, if possible to the Adriatic, and in
regard to the Danube, that thorniest of diplomatic subjects? [Footnote:
"L'independance des bouches du Danube est pour nous un dogme" were the
words attributed to Count Andrassy in June, 1877 (Hanotaux, _La France
Contemporaine_, iv. 315). See, too, the opinion of Radetzki, quoted by
Rene Henry, _Questions d'Autriche-Hongrie_, p. 128.]

"Our action," Dilke argued, "in such matters ought to be, as it
generally is, to bring people together for public peace, and not to
interfere with matters where our interfering in details is certain to be
resented. Of course, there was more than this in the German resistance.
That resistance was always, I think, certain. It was certain to be
provoked by common action on the part of the three Powers in such
matters, but it was doubly caused by the indiscreet language used, not
by us, but by the Press, in support of the three Governments, and
officially in Russia. We heard talk about Russia having at last
completely joined two Western Powers in an anti-Austrian movement, and
articles headed 'Revelations of a New Triple Alliance' were calculated
to intensify opposition on the part of Austria and Germany.

"The net result has been a set-back, not so much for us as for our
supposed and suspected client, Servia. Servia has had her position
very much worsened by our interference on her behalf. It is
unfortunate that small Provinces in the Balkans should be in this
position, that when Powers who are not going to fight appear to take
up their cause against neighbouring Powers, however natural and wise
it may be in the abstract, the result is almost certain to be to
make their position worse; and undoubtedly there has been a set-
back, caused by us and Russia, to Servia. We have not even with us
our Mediterranean ally Italy, because Italy herself abstained from
supporting us in this matter, as she was bound to abstain under her
engagements. I therefore end this part of the matter by saying I
think we have set the doctrine of the sacredness of the Treaty of
Berlin, in the circumstances, too high. We have had two previous
examples of the risk of setting up that doctrine, and pressing it
too far, in such a case. We have tried to set it up on two previous
occasions, and have failed. The second of those two occasions, in
1886, is very clear. There was a distinct violation of an article of
the Treaty of Berlin, and of the protocol outside that article. Lord
Rosebery wrote a strong despatch with regard to that violation, and
he raised the same comparison of 1871 as we raised on this question,
but nothing happened. That is a very long time ago, and the Treaty
of Berlin has not become more sacrosanct since 1886 than it was at
that time, which was more near its conclusion. My main point is, we
have supported principles that we could not justifiably or wisely
support. If we had had any political or European idea behind us, any
idea of improving the conditions of peoples, or of giving greater
liberty to the peoples, the country would have been more inclined to
give support than it is on the mere bare doctrine of the sacredness
of a treaty. On the last occasion when these matters were discussed,
the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made a most brilliant
speech on the Naval Vote of Censure. In that speech he defended what
is very near the old doctrine of the balance of power in Europe. No
one will take exception to his statement of the effect of the
existing balance upon our position in Europe. The danger is now, as
it was 100 years ago, and still more 120 or 130 years ago, that you
may be tempted by these understandings, which are good, to convert
them into something very near, but not quite, an alliance, and to
pursue a policy in support of the balance of power which will keep
you in permanent hot water all round with everybody, and will risk

How far the belief in the existence of a policy of encirclement, as the
current phrase went, which existed in Germany from 1905 to 1909,
[Footnote: See Hanotaux, _La Politique de l'Equilibre_, chap, xxiii.;
Reventlow, 279, 296-305; Baron Beyens, _L'Allemagne avant la Guerre_,
pp. 220-221.] was justified is a matter which the historian of the
future will have to discuss. Certain it is, however, that the British
Foreign Office after 1909 gave no just cause of offence to Germany. The
disappointing outcome of supporting Russia in the negotiations connected
with Bosnia; the failure at this time of the Entente to produce any
satisfactory results in Crete and in various negotiations at
Constantinople, where French policy was deemed to be influenced by
considerations more financial than political; the friendly reception of
King Edward VII. at Berlin in February, 1909, and the great changes
which death or retirement brought about, in the years immediately
succeeding, in the personnel of the Ministries of Germany, France,
Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Italy--amongst others the retirement of the
German Chancellor--produced a new situation. [Footnote: Hanotaux, _La
Politique de l'Equilibre_, chap, xviii.; Reventlow, p. 339. Prince von
Buelow resigned on July 20th, 1909; M. Clemenceau on July 14th, 1909; M.
Isvolski and M. Tittoni in October, 1910; and Count Aerenthal in
February, 1912.]

In 1910 things seemed to point again to the possibility of clearer
skies. The negotiations between Germany and Great Britain in regard to
the Bagdad Railway and the still outstanding African questions were
resumed, and proceeded without any serious hindrance. Favourable results
seemed, and with good reason, to be in sight. There were also
negotiations between Germany and Russia. Thus it was that, a few days
before he passed away, Sir Charles was justified in still writing in a
hopeful strain that the Great War could and would be avoided--fortunate
at least in this, that he did not live to see the breaking up of the
foundations of the great deep. [Footnote: In his recently published
work, _England and Germany_, 1740-1914, Mr. Bernadotte Schmitt says,
speaking of the beginning of the year 1911--prior, it is to be
remembered, to the Agadir incident: "In the early summer of 1911,
Anglo-German relations, if not cordial, had lost much of the animosity
engendered by the Bosnian troubles of 1908 and the naval scare of 1909.
The German Emperor had been well received when he attended the obsequies
of his uncle, Edward VII., and again on the occasion of the unveiling of
the national monument to Queen Victoria in May, 1911. On the 13th of
March of the same year, Sir Edward Grey had remarked upon the friendly
relations obtaining with all the Powers.... In Germany the death of
Edward VII., who passed for the inspirer of the _Einkreisungs Politik_,
caused a feeling of relief." Speaking of the period immediately
preceding the outbreak of the war, the same author observes: "Whatever
Germany's motives may have been, the fact remained that in July, 1914,
Anglo-German relations were more cordial than they had been at any time
since the Boer War.... The tragedy of the Great War lies in the fact
that early in the summer of 1914 a substantial agreement had been
reached between Great Britain and Germany on those matters about which
they had previously disagreed" (pp. 195, 373). This book, by an American
Rhodes Scholar of the Western Reserve University, is a very valuable and
impartial contribution to the history of recent events. On the condition
of things in 1911 and 1912, see also the despatches of Count Lalaing and
Baron Beyens, from London and Berlin, to M. Davignon, the Belgian
Minister for Foreign Affairs, published in the official German White
book, _Belgische Actenstuecke_, 1905-1914, pp. 85, 113.]




Call no man happy or unhappy, said the philosopher, till you see his
end. With Sir Charles Dilke's life clear before us, if the question be
put, "Was he happy?" only one answer can be given. He was happy. With a
power of suffering which made bereavement poignant, with tragic
experience of disappointment and distress, he never lost the faculty of
enjoyment: he touched the world at many points, and his contact was
complete and vital.

Therefore, in the life that he lived after his second wife's death there
was nothing gloomy or half-hearted. At Pyrford and Dockett the same
interests continued to hold their charm, though in his home of homes,
the home that he did not make, but was born into, there was a change. At
76, Sloane Street, he still slept, breakfasted, and did his morning's
work; but he would never willingly return there for dinner, except on
very rare occasions when he entertained guests, or spend the evening

He still enjoyed the life of the House of Commons. Old friends were a
pleasure, new-comers a fresh spring of interest, and the younger men
naturally drew round this most willing teacher. One of the young
Liberals [Footnote: Mr. A. F. Whyte, M.P.] who came within his influence
describes the amazing interest of his talk, with its personal memories
of the leading personalities in Europe during half a century past. But
the true attraction was something simpler than that. "He made you
extraordinarily fond of him."

What is implied in that very simple phrase has been set out by another
friend of an opposing political school, brought into touch with him by a
common interest in Social Reform: [Footnote: Mr. J. W. Hills, M.P.]

"What first brought us together I forget; I think it was some action
I took with regard to sweated trades. At any rate he asked me to
stay for a Sunday at Dockett Eddy; and after my first visit I went
often. For one thing, we were both devoted to rowing; he was, of
course, a far more distinguished and accomplished oarsman than I,
but he and I went extraordinarily well together in a pair. Everyone
who has rowed knows that pair-oar rowing is the most difficult, as
it is the most fascinating, form of the art. We had many long rows

"The life at Dockett Eddy had an atmosphere and a colour different
from that of other houses. Breakfast was at a fairly early hour.
After breakfast, Dilke was invisible till lunch. Lunch was at 12.30,
French in character, and always, wet or fine, took place on the
broad verandah which ran along one side of the house. During the
afternoon Dilke rowed on the river, walked about the green and
winding paths of his beloved willow-clad island, and talked to his
friends. The prevailing recollection that I shall always have of
Dockett Eddy is good talk. No one who did not talk to Dilke knew the
man. His speeches--at any rate, from 1906 to his death--did not give
all his qualities. These came out in his talk. His amazing
knowledge, which occasionally overloaded his speeches and diverted
them from their main argument, wove itself naturally into the
texture of his talk and gave it a wonderful richness and depth. And
he talked to everybody and on all subjects; and to all he brought
his tremendous vitality and his vivid and many-sided personality.
You always felt that the whole force of the man was behind what he
said--the active, eager, questioning mind, determined to master all
facts that gave true knowledge, and when this was done, when all
facts were noted and weighed, coming to a conclusion which was both
clear-cut and unalterable. He was most tolerant of the views of
others, and never overwhelmed with greater knowledge; but all that
he had in him he gave freely and without stint. The talks I
recollect best are either on industrial conditions in other
countries, or on French history from 1848 onwards, or on English
politics. On French history I always listened to him with delight;
he not only knew literally every fact and every date, but he also
knew personally most of the great men who had latterly played
leading parts. On English politics it was characteristic of the man
to have a tremendous belief in the present. For instance, I said
something about the decadence of Parliament and Parliamentary

Book of the day: