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 11 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.

speaking. He at once burst out: 'You are quite wrong. The men of
to-day are much greater than their predecessors'; and then he went
through all our prominent politicians and compared them with the men
of the past. The only comparisons I remember are Winston Churchill
with his father, and Asquith with Disraeli and Gladstone, in each
instance to the advantage of the present generation.

"Dilke was a great man, if ever there was one. He was a man of big
ideas, too big for prejudice or suspicion or self-interest. His mind
was at once imaginative and matter-of-fact, making him that rare
combination, a practical idealist. But the abiding memory which I
shall retain of him as long as I live is not his wide knowledge, his
singleness of purpose, his vital energy and driving force, so much
as the friendship he gave me. He put the whole of himself into his
friendship, and gave himself abundantly and without reserve. He was
so great a man, and meant so much to his friends, that he played a
large part in the lives of all he honoured with his regard. Though I
only knew him during the last three years, he filled so big a place
in my life that his death left a wide and empty gap. I regarded him
with love and veneration."

"He talked to everybody and on all subjects," and he talked to everybody
on a common ground of fellowship. Newman, the cabdriver at Shepperton,
beside whom he always insisted on sitting when he came to Dockett; Jim
Haslett, his ferryman; Busby, his old gardener and lodge-keeper at
Pyrford: these no less than "Bill" East who rowed with him, and "Fred"
Macpherson with whom he fenced, keep the same memory of his friendliness
and of the pleasure that they had in being with him. For his
constituents he was more than a representative: he was their friend, a
personal influence, a centre of affection in the lives of many among
them. "I hardly know what to do or say," wrote one of them after his
death. "For one man to say of another it seems strange, but I _loved_
Sir Charles."

Into this affection there entered that peculiar tenderness of loyalty to
the wronged which finds fit expression in these words of his old
comrade, Judge Steavenson, who had known his life since they were young
athletes together in the Trinity Hall boat: "I loved him, my oldest and
best friend, and how I mourn him! The tragedy of his life has been pain
and suffering to me for more years than I care to remember. Some say a
little band of friends never wavered in their belief in his innocence. I
am one, and so believing in good time I shall go to my grave."

Many a brave man has under the sense of injustice grown hard and bitter;
it was not so with Sir Charles. After his death a friend's widow wrote
to one who mourned him: "I should like to tell you how divinely kind he
was to me in my great grief." A lady who for long years had been on a
bed of pain said of his visits to her: "He seems to take your suffering
from you and give it back to you on a higher plane. I think he
understands because he has suffered so much himself."

In these last years after Lady Dilke's death, Sir Charles resumed, in
some moderate degree, the old habit of travel. From 1906 it grew to be
an institution that, when the Trade-Union Congress closed its sittings
in autumn, he should meet the editor of this book and her friend Miss
Constance Hinton Smith, [Footnote: Who attended these Congresses as
visitors representing the Women's Trade-Union League.] and with them
proceed leisurely from the trysting-place to Dean Forest for his annual
visit to the constituency. Thus in different years they set out from
Tewkesbury, from Bath, from Leicester, from Ipswich, and explored towns
and country places of beauty or historic interest, under the guidance of
one who had the gift for placing every detail in its setting, whether on
the physical map of England or on that crowded chart which depicts the
long course of British history. For him these journeys were each a
revisiting of places seen before--seen, as he would often recall, under
his grandfather's guidance in boyhood.

The annual Christmas visit to Paris, where his son often joined him, was
revived in company of his secretary, Mr. Hudson, and his wife. In more
than one autumn, after his stay in the Forest of Dean was completed, he
made a journey through Switzerland to the Italian lakes. He journeyed
under a resolution not to visit any gallery of pictures, for these must
recall too poignantly the companionship which had made the special joy
of all his picture-seeing. But he sent his companions that they might
compare their impressions with his memory, always astonishingly vivid
and exact. The sights to which he gave himself were sun and air,
mountain and lake. Here, as in England, trees especially appealed to
him, and in the famous garden of the Isola Madre on Lago Maggiore he
amazed the gardener by his acquaintance with all the collection, from
the various kinds of cypress and cedar down to the least impressive
shrub. But what gave him most pleasure was the actual journeying,
awakening not only associations with the places seen, but memories of
other places in far-off corners of the earth.

In the last year of his life the International Association for Labour
Legislation met at Lugano, and he stopped there on his autumn tour. His
health was already failing, he attended no meetings and received few
visitors; but experts in the subject, Ministers and ex-Ministers of
Labour from Prussia, France, Canada, and other countries, sought him, to
consult him on points of international policy. Two years later, when the
Congress met again at Zurich, M. Fontaine recalled the memory of Sir
Charles and the "conseils precieux" which other workers drew from him in
their interviews. It was only when the Congress was over that the
holiday really began, with a day on Maggiore and two days on Orta,
before the travellers made for their real destination, Aosta among its
hills, a scene new to him as to them, that filled him with fresh life.
All about it charmed him: the mountains, the Roman gateways, the
mediaeval cloisters, the long procession of the cattle coming down from
the hill-slopes during the night; the keen air gave him energy to walk
as he had never thought to walk again; and, for a touch of familiar
humours, the landlord of the rough little inn where they stayed had been
in his day a waiter in Willis's Rooms and remembered his guest among the
diners there.

An accident to one of his companions had caused him to go on alone, and,
accordingly, when he came back to Turin to fetch them it was as a guide
already fully qualified. On the drive up from Ivrea, in a valley whence
can be seen at the same moment Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, and the glacier
of the Gran Paradiso, he could show them the fort of Bard, blocking the
gorge just as in the days when it checked Napoleon on his road to
Marengo. But the memories awakened in him were not only of Napoleon; the
valley of the Dora Baltea was a complete image of the Khyber Pass, and
Bard the very counterpart of Ali Musjid.

As they came home through France, halt was made at Lyons, and, though he
refused to see the gallery, he could describe almost every canvas and
the place where it hung; but best of all he remembered Charlet's great
picture of the retreat from Moscow and the army that "dragged itself
along like a wounded snake." In Paris, too, on that homeward journey a
stop was made, and since few of his friends were yet back from the
country, there was more theatre-going than usual. Guitry, his favourite
actor, was not playing, but Brasseur and Eve la Valliere amused him, and
he found special delight in the _Mariage de Mademoiselle Beulemans_. Yet
not even the acting of Jaques as the good-natured, choleric old Belgian
brewer could induce him to depart from his practice of going away after
the first act.

Three times in the last years of his life he went back to Provence. The
first of these visits was in the January of 1909, and he with his
companions set out from Paris on the last day of the old year,
travelling by motor-car in defiance of heavy snow and frost. These made
obstacles which only gave piquancy to his journey through scenes where
stories of the Franco-German War crowded to his tongue, and when
difficulties delayed the car he struck up wayside intimacies--once with
an old non-commissioned officer now transformed into a _Garde
Champetre_, anon with a peasant couple from whose cottage he begged hot
water to make tea. In one such household, arriving with beard and
moustache frozen white, he announced himself to the children of the
family group as Father Christmas, and made good his claim with
distribution of little gifts.

At Hyeres he was rejoined by the old servant, once his gardener and
vine-dresser, who had marketed the produce of La Sainte Campagne in the
days when Sir Charles was trading, like any other petty Provencal
landowner, in grapes and artichokes, mimosa and roses and violets, for
the Toulon market. That former life lived again in his talk as he
recalled those whom he had known in his Provencal home: neighbours,
servants, local politicians; and from his hotel at Hyeres he never
failed to make excursions to Toulon, and to visit his old friend and
sometime man of business, M. Bertrand, who would carry him to the cafe
frequented by the leading citizens, to feast on a Provencal dejeuner
with red mullet and bouillabaisse. Another recurring visit was to Emile
Ollivier at La Moutte, his beautiful seaward-facing house on the
promontory beyond Saint Tropez.

"Sir Dilke" had friends everywhere in that corner of the world. His near
neighbour at Cap Brun, M. Noel Blache, leader of the local bar, a famous
teller of Provencal stories and declaimer of Provencal verse, said of
him: "He knows our country and our legends better than we know them
ourselves." In the years during which he lived for part of the
twelvemonth at Toulon he had followed every winding of the coast, had
explored all the recesses of the hills.

"It is my boast, probably vain," he wrote to M. Andre Chevrillon in
1909, "to have invented the Mountains of the Moors. Sizeranne had been
staying there for six weeks before he came into the British Hyeres, but,
_he_, only on the coast. When I first showed that coast to Emile
Ollivier, Noel Blache, then President of the Conseil-General of the Var,
and Felix Martin, the latter advised the narrow-gauge railway which
ruined the politicians of the Var, and became 'le Panama du Midi.' My
journey this time was to assure myself that the road and railway along
the coast had not spoilt the _interior_. They have improved indeed, and
I was glad, a road from the entrance to the forest on the main road from
Hyeres to Cogolin, turning to the north over two cols to Collobrieres.
The T.C.F. has made a road from Collobrieres up the hill to the
south-east, whence the walk to La Chartreuse de la Verne is easy. I used
to have to reach that spot from Campo, the police post on the stream,
called Campeaux upon the maps. The whole forest is unharmed. It is
unknown to the British inhabitants of Hyeres. Not one had been there,
or, I think, heard of it; and I met no human creature upon some twelve
miles of the finest parts of the improved road. Grimaud, at the other
end, I have no doubt you know. It was the Moorish capital. I went there
the day that I lunched with Emile Ollivier this time. There was a foot
of ice on the top, at La Garde-Freinet, and one looked back, down on to
Grimaud, standing baked by an African sun, and could make out the ripe
oranges and the heads of the great cactus."

"Why does not someone 'discover' France?" he writes to M. Joseph
Reinach. "How few Frenchmen know the sunset view _north_ from St. Tropez
in January!" And again to M. Chevrillon in 1909: "I adore the solitude
of Sainte Baume, and believe in Marie Madeleine--except her head and
tomb at St. Maxime, where Brutus Bonaparte helped keep the inn.
[Footnote: The eldest of the Bonapartes was not the only person of the
Napoleonic days as to whom stories were told in the neighbourhood.
Desiree Clary was said to have lived at the inn of St. Maxime, and Sir
Charles wrote to Mr. Morley concerning La Sainte Campagne: "My old
cottage is supposed to be that where Murat was concealed after the 100
days."] Intellect is represented here by Robert de la Sizeranne, _but_
it is only two and a half hours in motor or two and a half by rail to La
Moutte, where I make E. Ollivier read his fourteenth volume!"

All the little hill towns were known to him, and their history; he could
show the spot at Cavalaire where the Moorish lords of Provence trained
their famous horses; he knew the path at Le Lavandou, worn into the
solid rock by the bare feet of countless generations. It irked him that
the plain of Frejus was spoilt by the intrusion of white villas on what
had once been called "a better Campagna." But these changes were of the
surface only. Provence was still Provence, its people still unchanged
from the days when Gambetta said to Sir Charles of one who projected a
watercourse at Nice: "Jamais il ne coulera par cette riviere au tant
d'eau qu'il n'en depensera de salive a en parler." There was still the
local vintage in every inn, still the _beurre du berger_, the cheese and
the conserves of fruit which every housewife in Provence sets out with
pride in her own making; still the thin breeze of the mistral through
the tree-tops, still the long white roads running between fields of
violets and narcissi, and still white farmhouses among the terraced
oliveyards and vines. All these things were an abiding joy, but a
greater joy than all, and still more unchangeable, was the daily
oncoming of light, the subtle flush and gradations of colour before the
sun rose from that beloved sea.


In the year 1908 Sir Charles's health had been very bad, and he risked
his life in attending the annual miners' meeting at the Speech House,
leaving Dockett Eddy, as his custom was, at six in the morning, and
returning home the same night. But by the following year he had regained
his physical condition and his cheerfulness. The aspect of politics,
too, had been transfigured. Speaking to his constituents in September,
1909, he reminded them how a year earlier the Liberal party had been

'This year all of them felt that the Government, with the country
behind it--for the country was thoroughly behind the Government in
the matter of the Budget--had taken, not only a new lease of life,
but had adopted an attitude which on the whole, apart from any
little doubts in reference to particular details, commanded a
confident and an enthusiastic support on the part of a wider
majority of people than any other movement of modern times.'

He told them of his own objections to the famous Budget--one in regard
to the cider duty, upon which he had carried his point, the other to the
increased tax on tobacco, which he had unsuccessfully resisted. So long
as tea and tobacco were taxed as they were, the working classes, in his
judgment, paid more than their just proportion. Still, a great stride
forward had been taken. As for the House of Lords throwing out the
Budget, "those who did not like that Chamber wanted that fight, but it
did not seem to him natural that the House of Lords would desire it,
because it appeared to him to be a fight in which the Peers were
perfectly certain to be beaten." Nevertheless it came to pass, a General
Election followed, and the huge independent Liberal majority
disappeared. Sir Charles was active to keep together the various
sections which most desired to limit the power of the House of Lords,
and on February 22nd, 1910, he, on behalf of the Radicals, held an
interview with the Labour and Irish leaders together, to ascertain and
discuss the line of action contemplated. Also, since there was a
proposal that Government should, as a matter of urgency, oust private
members and take all the time of the House, he saw Mr. J. S. Sandars,
Mr. Balfour's chief private secretary, and in Sir Charles's phrase
"factotum," to find out what the Opposition was going to do.

In the debates upon the Government's Resolutions which laid the
foundation for the Parliament Act, Sir Charles took no part. The matter
had gone as he desired.

By April the Resolutions were adopted; but before action by Bill could
be begun, the Parliamentary struggle was suspended by the death of King
Edward. In that national loss Sir Charles Dilke felt special sorrow.
Whether as Prince of Wales or as King, the dead Sovereign had
consistently shown him, not merely consideration, but friendship. It was
among the satisfactions of Sir Charles's last years of life that the
principle, for which he had incurred odium by contending forty years
earlier, now came to be fully recognized as that most respectful to the
Crown. Lord Knollys writes that on the accession of King Edward VII.,
Sir Charles had called and "offered to support any reasonable Civil List
which might be proposed." A Civil List Committee was appointed, on which
Sir Charles served, and the result of its deliberations was to recommend
a discontinuance of occasional grants from Parliament to members of the
Royal Family. It did not, indeed, go to the length of making adequate
provision for the family and leaving its distribution to the King, which
was what Sir Charles always recommended; but it moved far in that
direction, and to that extent carried out his views.

The royal funeral brought to London another Sovereign with whom Sir
Charles had friendly personal relations, and the last page in his Memoir
tells of a 'long talk with King George of Greece at Buckingham Palace.'
The King was inclined to deprecate the summoning of a National Assembly
for that autumn. He called it "stupid," whereat, says Sir Charles,
'blank look on my part.' Then, after a pause ('whereas till then we had
talked in a perpetual duet'), the King went on to admit that the
National Assembly was his own creation.

"Well, I was against it at first because we can do by law already
everything that is to be done by the National Assembly. But I saw that
it was the only way out."

"I am glad, Sir," Sir Charles quickly rejoined, "that I was not
'stupid,' for I attributed the invention to" (and he pointed) "its

The King, however, was afraid that some might "blame him," and when Sir
Charles answered, "No one," he quoted the phrase once applied to him:
"Bon petit roi, manque d'energie." The reply was: "I don't know who said
that, Sir! Your prestige is exactly opposite to the German Emperor's
prestige, but equally important to your country and to peace. It may
have been a fool who said it, but it was probably chaff."

"... My family?"

"Oh, well, that is chaff--that is what I meant by chaff."

But Sir Charles took occasion to tell a very important member of the
"family" that "Berlin and Athens were different."

When autumn came, the sitting of the Constitutional Conference silenced
Sir Charles and all men who desired a fair field for that great
experiment. Its failure precipitated a new General Election.

By this time there was no doubt in Sir Charles's mind as to the gravity
of his physical condition. To a friend, who in October was setting out
for extended travel in West Africa, he wrote these words in a letter
wishing him God-speed:

"You are much more likely to come back alive than I am to be alive
to welcome you. Yet I _hope_ that the less likely survival _may_ be,
and of the other I feel pretty sure."

Knowing what he did of his own health, knowing the loyalty of his
constituents, who had within a few months returned him by a majority of
over two thousand, he might well have consented, as his friends wished,
to fight the new election by deputy. It was not his way. Haggard and
physically oppressed, he spent a fortnight in that bitter December going
the round of meetings, addressing his supporters as best his bodily
weakness allowed that strong will and fine courage to have their way.
The result was foregone: his majority was triumphant; but the exertion
killed him. None the less, he came out of the fray jubilant; his side
had won, the victory had been decisive. In Paris, where he went with Mr.
Hudson, the journalists came to him for his accustomed review of the
total situation. "Depuis que je suis au Parlement, je n'ai pas connu un
Ministere aussi solide que le Ministere preside par M. Asquith," was his
emphatic word to M. Leudet in the _Figaro_.

The strain had in no way impaired his intellectual vitality. Those of
his old friends who saw him, such as M. Reinach, had never known him
more animated. To M. Andre Chevrillon, a newer friend by whom he had
been greatly attracted, he wrote:

"I see in the _Times_ that you are writing on Russian literature and
_music_. Please, then, include _Bell_ music: a saint's eve at
Troitsa Sergeifski! The silver notes floating in the dusty--or the
frozen--air. I've been there in September, and I've been there in

"Any chance of seeing you--without moving, for I'm suffering from
weak heart, after two winter-contested elections in one year? I'm
extraordinarily better to-day, but am apt to 'blow' in other than
the Australian sense."

M. Chevrillon has written his impression of the gravity which lay behind
that cheery tone.

"J'allai le voir a l'Hotel St. James. Je n'oublierai jamais
l'impression que m'a laissee cette visite. II etait d'une paleur de
marbre; il m'a dit brievement qu'il se savait en danger immediat,
que le medecin l'avait averti; et tout de suite, quittant ce sujet,
il m'a parle avec son animation, sa verve et sa precision habituelle
de la situation politique en Angleterre. II y avait ce jour--la sur
cette noble figure toute bleme, une dignite, j'ose dire une majeste,
extraordinaire; il etait deja marque par la mort; il la regardait
venir avec une tranquillite et un courage absolu; j'emportai de
cette visite le douloureux sentiment que je ne le reverrais pas, et
une admiration qui me restera toujours pour ce que je venais
d'entrevoir de son caractere."

From Paris he insisted on moving South once more. He travelled now as an
invalid; but when morning light came into the compartment where he lay,
he made his way to the window and beheld again cypress and olive,
sun-baked swarthy soil, little hills with rocky crests fantastically
chiselled, all bathed in the dazzling sunshine of the South. Leaning his
face against the window, he said: "Provence always plays up."

At Hyeres he was kept in bed. But he still read the books that came to
him by post, still dictated his reviews for the _Athenaeum_, and still
enjoyed the reading aloud of French plays, which had become a habit of
holiday time. And, above all, from his window as he lay he watched with
delight unjaded the spectacle of sea and sky. "Am I not a fortunate
invalid," he said, "to have the most beautiful view in the world to look

Now and then his shout of laughter would be heard and the old spirit of
fun would assert itself. When the journey home in January, 1911, had to
be faced, he rallied for it, came to the restaurant on the train, and
during the crossing sat on deck with Miss Constance Smith, who writes:

"At that time his thoughts seemed to stray from this last journey
back to that which we had taken in the autumn. 'It is worth while,'
he said, 'to have seen Aosta. I am glad to have done it. It is not
often at my age that one can get so much pleasure out of a new
thing.' I think he had a double motive in mentioning Aosta. He put
it forward partly to obliterate for me the sadness of the past three
weeks by raising the memory of the pleasant times that lay behind."

When he reached London he was happy to be again at home and he felt
better. Those with him had no fear for the immediate future, and he
himself fully expected to take his place in Parliament when it met.
Friends would have induced him to consider what part of his work could
be abandoned, but his answer was peremptory: "I won't be kept alive to
do nothing." Confined to bed as he was, work still went on; he received
and answered letters, read and annotated Blue-books. Curiously and
almost dramatically, the occupations of these last days sifted
themselves out in such fashion that the very latest things he handled
became, in some sort, an epitome of his life's work. M. Michelidakis,
President of the Cretan Executive Committee, had written to complain, on
behalf of the Cretan people, that the last note of the Powers seemed to
reverse their policy of slowly transferring Crete to a local government.
On January 24th Sir Charles answered this appeal for his help. It was
the last letter that he signed with his own hand--fit close to a
lifelong championship.

Other clients were knocking at his door that same day, other voices from
that strange retinue of petitioners who brought from all quarters of the
world to this one man their cry for protection and redress. What they
asked was no romantic action, nothing stirring or picturesque, but
simply the weight of his authority exhibited on their side, and the
wisdom of his long practice in public life for their guidance. He was to
fix a date for introducing a deputation concerning certain grievances of
the coloured people in Jamaica, and was to advise upon the best way to
raise a number of minor West African questions in the new Parliament.
His answer was sent from 76, Sloane Street:

_January 24th_, 1911.

"I am still lying up, but I think that I could answer any ordinary
call to duty, and I am trying a small private meeting to-morrow
afternoon, though I shall return to bed here.

"I will note Thursday, 2nd, at noon, on the chance of being well

"The questions which personally interest me the most are those
affecting the concessionary companies, and I should be glad if you
would ask Wedgwood to keep very close touch with me on these. He
likes me, and is quite willing to show me things; but he does too
much and, like myself, is always tired, and the result is that he
has to be reminded as to consultation in advance, though he does not
mind this being done.

"I doubt there being much danger about the Gambia. As for the
Southern Nigerian ordinances, I am not competent, and have a general
impression that as a rule we do best on more general lines, though
some of the concessionary companies make such 'cases' as to form

His strength was far spent. This letter, says Mr. Hudson, writing two
days later to the President of the Aborigines' Protection Society, "he
asked me to sign, after wishing to sign himself."

Yet the brain was clear and the will unshaken. The "small private
meeting" of which he wrote was a committee of directors of the
_Gardeners' Chronicle_, and on the 25th he was preparing to rise and
dress to attend this, but was persuaded to go back to bed. In bed, he
was still busy reading and marking Blue-books which bore upon the case
of the unorganized workers. The papers so prepared were, by his
direction, set aside for the service of the Women's Trade-Union League.
They were delivered next morning, but the messenger who took them
carried with them the tidings of Sir Charles Dilke's death. He had
slipped suddenly out of life, his heart failing, soon after four o'clock
on the morning of Thursday, January 26th, 1911.

* * * * *

To the funeral service at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, on January 30th,
there came from the House of Commons members of the Cabinet and of the
Ministry, representatives of Liberalism and Labour, the Irish leader
with several of his colleagues, while from the Unionist benches also men
paid this tribute to an honoured opponent. But the Parliamentary figure
of most interest was Mr. Austen Chamberlain, who carried from a
sick-room to the graveside the farewell of old comrade to old comrade.

Among the congregation were men who had been official representatives of
great dominions of the Empire or of foreign Governments. These came in
their private capacity, but one nation as a nation was represented
there. The King of the Hellenes sent his Minister in London to be his
deputy, and the Greek Government ordered a wreath, the token of their
sorrow and gratitude, to be laid upon the bier.

Tributes poured in from the great mass of his fellow-countrymen; from
philanthropic societies; from those who, in or out of Parliament, had
worked with his help and guidance. But above all there were messages
from every trade union and organization of wage-earners, letters from
men and from women in every kind of employ, testifying of service done,
of infinitely varied knowledge, of devotion that knew no limit, and that
had not gone without the one reward acceptable to the man they honoured,
their responsive love and gratitude.

So closed a life across which many commentators of the moment wrote,
some lightly, some in sincere regret, the word Failure. It was
ill-chosen. They should have written Loss. His career had not fulfilled
the promise of its opening; his abilities had never found the full scope
which once seemed assured to them; he had done for his country only what
his country permitted him to do. Over this it was natural, it was
reasonable, to speak words of sorrow. Those who said--and there were not
a few who said it--that he had accomplished more out of office than he
could ever have achieved in office, paid a tribute to the greatness of
his work, but they did not understand the force which had been wasted.
He combined two gifts rarely found in combination--the gift of
Parliamentary leadership and a profound knowledge of foreign affairs.
Amongst the men of his time he stood out as essentially a House of
Commons man, but he was also a European personality. In these
characteristics he recalls Lord Palmerston. Whether to foreign or to
domestic affairs, he brought a knowledge, a judgment, and a mastery of
detail, which none of his contemporaries surpassed and few equalled; and
he added to these the priceless gift of tact in dealing with men and
with bodies of men. In the only Parliament which knew him as an
administrator his advance was rapid and decisive: five years placed him
by universal admission in the front rank; and yet the general opinion
was not less clear than that of the few great ones. Beaconsfield and
Bismarck singled him out by their special interest; Gladstone looked to
him as probably his own ultimate successor.

Then came the day when there was taken from him for ever the opportunity
of directing great affairs, and Sir Charles Dilke's career must be
numbered among things that might have been. Yet was his "the failure"?
"It was England's misfortune, and perhaps her fault," wrote one
[Footnote: Mr. Spenser Wilkinson.] who knew him intimately and shared
but few of his political opinions, "that she could thus have been
deprived of the services of one of her best statesmen."

All that he could do to repair the misfortune to his country was done
without stint. Dismissed from his high command by a scandal, the truth
of which he persistently denied, when a life of ease was open to him he
chose, in spite of obloquy, to return to the ranks. Of what he
accomplished in the ranks some outline has been given; its record stands
as an answer to those who think, as many are tempted to think, that work
in Parliament without office is, in these days, foredoomed to futility.

Yet not in the external results of his wisdom and his labour, but in
another sphere, lies his supreme achievement. The same fate which
obscured the statesman's greatness revealed, what prosperity must have
hidden, the full measure of the man. To have requited public contumely
with public service; in the midst of humiliation to have kept his nature
unspoilt, unimbittered, every faculty bright and keen; to have abated no
jot of his happiness; and at the last to have passed away in serene
dignity, all the voices of reproach hushed and overawed--this was not
defeat, but victory; this, complete in its fulfilment, was the triumph
of Sir Charles Dilke's life.



[Footnote: By Miss Constance Hinton Smith.]

No view of Sir Charles Dilke's life can be complete which fails to take
account of his literary interests and activities. He disclaimed the
title of man of letters. [Footnote: 'Except in editing some of my
grandfather's papers, I never myself at all ventured into the paths of
pure literature; but I have lived near enough to it and them ... to be
able to enjoy.'] Except for the little memoir of his second wife, all
the books he gave to the world, as well as the larger part of his
periodical writing, were inspired by political, though not by party,
considerations. And throughout the years of his public career the
pressure of daily work inside and outside Parliament left him small
leisure for reading other than that through which he kept himself
acquainted with every movement, and as far as was humanly possible with
every fact, that seemed to bear upon the wide range of subjects handled
by him. So prodigious was his industry, however--only Dominie Sampson's
adjective will serve--and so quick his faculty for detecting at a glance
the quality of a book and extracting from it the pith and marrow, that
even in the busiest periods of his life he contrived to keep abreast of
the things best worth knowing, not only in English, but also in French
literature. From the time when, by his father's death, he inherited the
proprietorship of the _Athenaeum_, he exercised, through that journal, a
definite if indirect influence in the maintenance of the high standards
of literary honesty, accuracy, and taste in which he had been brought
up. This was done partly by means of his own contributions to the paper,
which covered a field which included history, travel, art, poetry, and
archaeology in two languages, and partly through "his comments and
suggestions on the proofs," of which Mr. C. A. Cook, a former acting
editor, writes with abiding gratitude. Other newspaper proprietors have
doubtless done as much to preserve uniformity of tone and principle;
few, if any, have probably brought such close and unwearied care to bear
upon those details in which tone is audible and principle expresses

Sir Charles Dilke's attitude towards literature, like his attitude to
politics and art, was peculiar to himself. He judged books, as he judged
men, not by the conventional verdict of the world--in this case the
world of critics--but by the quality his own mind discerned in them. His
judgments, therefore, were personal judgments, uncoloured, as far as
human judgments can be, by traditional respect or prejudice. This does
not mean that he had no literary canons: his grandfather's pupil could
hardly have left old Mr. Dilke's hands so unfurnished; but he never
became the slave of a rule or the docile worshipper of any reputation,
however well established. This mental freedom was partly due to
intellectual courage. The humour of Lamb, for example, delights the
majority of educated Englishmen: it had no charm for Sir Charles, and he
was not afraid to say so. But his liberty of appreciation owed something
also to the circumstances of his education. The fact that he had never
been at a public school--thus missing, in the plastic years of a
sensitive boyhood, the influences which make most strongly for
conventionality of outlook among men of a certain class--made it easier
for him than it might otherwise have been to examine literary questions
with his own eyes, and not through the medium of special glasses imposed
by authority. By the time he went up to Cambridge this habit of judging
for himself was already formed; and although Cambridge did much to
mould, she did not remake him.

The catalogue of his published writings, apart from those contributed to
magazines and newspapers, is brief. It consists practically of the early
book that made him famous as a political thinker, _Greater Britain_; the
brilliant satire, _Prince Florestan_, published anonymously in 1874, of
which he subsequently acknowledged the authorship; and the few volumes
written after the close of his official career, each of which deals with
large questions of public and international interest. _Problems of
Greater Britain_ and _Imperial Defence_ (the latter written in
collaboration with Mr. Spenser Wilkinson) were the most important of
these works, which do not represent fully the literary ambition of his
earlier years. There is plenty of evidence in the Memoir to show that,
at the time of that journey round the world of which _Greater Britain_
was the result, he had not only formed, but had begun to carry out,
several literary projects. Some of these, essays in verse, story-
writing, and metaphysical speculation, belong to the category of
experiment or amusement, and represent nothing more than the natural
activity of a fertile mind trying its powers now in this direction, now
in that. Others are more characteristic: a History of Radicalism, a
Political Geography, a book to be called _The Anglo-Saxon Race_ or _The
English World_, and a work on _International Law_. [Footnote: See
Chapter VI. (Vol. I.)]

As late as 1878 he was 'working hard at' a _History of the Nineteenth
Century_ 'for three or four months' in Provence, 'besides managing to do
some little work towards it when I was in London.' At this time he was
engaged upon the History of Germany in the early part of his chosen
period, and was corresponding with Professor Seeley as the highest
authority on that subject.

'My history of events began with 1814. I showed that the doctrine of
nationality had been made use of for their own purposes by the Kings
in 1812-13, and crushed by them at congresses between 1814 and 1822,
and then appealed to by the revolutionary party in 1823, and in a
less degree in 1848. That doctrine of nationality was described even
in our own times by Heine as a dead thing, when it was yet destined
to prove, in 1859 and 1866 and 1870 and 1878, the phenomenon of the
century, and nowhere to work such change as in Heine's own Germany.
Heine thought that the idea of the emancipation of nationality had
already in his day been replaced by the emancipation of humanity;
but, whatever may be the case in the long-run, the emancipation of
nationalities was destined to prove the more lasting side of the
movement of 1848.'

After stating that the nineteenth century must be held to have begun in
1814, he writes:

'History to me was one and could know no commencements, yet in the
development of a concerted action of the Powers I found 1814 so
convenient a starting-point as to be as good as a real beginning. In
the rise of the new society, the social revolution,'

he found himself less fortunate. There was no clear starting-point, and
when he selected August 4th, 1789, as his,

'I felt that I chose only the moment of the springing of the plant
from the soil ... and stood in some danger of neglecting the
previous germination of the seed beneath the soil.'

After delivering a lecture on "Old Chelsea," in which 'I made a
considerable attempt to clear up some points in the life of Sir Thomas
More, for whom I have a great admiration ... I conceived ... the idea of
writing a Life of More, whose life has never been well told since it was
written by his son-in-law at the time; but the immense difficulty of
writing any Life which would stand a comparison with the son-in-law's
notes ultimately deterred me.'

It is easy to understand why the foregoing projects were dropped; but
why Sir Charles never published the book on Russia which he was known to
have had in preparation is not so apparent. He had paid four protracted
visits to the country, travelled over a great part of it, and was
intimately acquainted with Russians of the most widely differing
opinions. Obviously he would have enjoyed writing the book that he had
planned. He had actually fixed the date of publication, when he found
that Mr. Hepworth Dixon had come, almost at the same time, to a decision
to write on his subject. On August 3rd, 1869, he wrote to Mr. Dixon:

"My Dear Dixon,

"In reference to your request that in good feeling and friendship
towards you I should defer the publication of my _Russia_ from
February 1st, 1870 (the date fixed with Macmillan), to a later
period, I have carefully thought the matter over, and have decided
to do as you wish. The only condition that I make is that you will
write to me by return of post saying whether, if I fix January 1st,
1871, as my day, you will date your preface not later than February
1st, 1870, and issue your first edition not more than a week after
that date."

Dixon wrote back on the same day:

"My Dear Charles,

"I am more pleased at your resolution than words can say. It is more
than right. It is friendly and noble."

'Mr. Dixon immediately went to Russia, where we met in the course of
the autumn, and speedily published his _New Russia_, a remarkable
book considering the haste with which it was prepared. After five
visits to Russia, I handed over the whole of my notes to my brother,
who spent two years at one time in that country, and who finished
the book.' [Footnote: Only two chapters ever appeared--in

Sir Charles's contributions to the _Athenaeum_ began while he was still
at Cambridge. His article of October 22nd, 1864, [Footnote: See Chapter
V. (Vol. I.)] was the first of a long series of reviews and notices,
which continued unbrokenly till within a week of his death. It was
natural that, as years went by, his knowledge and experience should be
drawn upon for reviews of important political biographies, and of books
on imperial and colonial questions or military history. But he did not
confine himself entirely to such grave topics. The files of the
_Athenaeum_ contain many columns from his hand dealing with the lighter
matters of topography (especially in France), travel, and fiction. The
fiction was mainly French, modern English novels commending themselves
little to his liking, though he was among the earliest and steadiest, if
also among the more discriminating, admirers of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, and
Robert Louis Stevenson's _Prince Otto_ had a place with his favourite
books. Another subject which attracted his pen was the local and
legendary history of his beloved Provence. His intimate acquaintance
with the beliefs and fancies of that region could be gathered from his
slightest notice of an ephemeral book on the country, as readily as his
store of political knowledge and familiarity with the events that made
history in his time from an extended review of a volume of _L'Empire
Liberal_ or the life of a leading contemporary in the House of Commons.
In neither case could his hand be hid.

In influencing the choice of contributors to his paper, he threw his
weight always on the side of the man who had complete knowledge of his
subject. No brilliancy of style could make up in his eyes for lack of
precision in thought or inaccuracy in statement. Next in order he
appeared to value in a reviewer a judicial quality of mind, as essential
to a sane and balanced criticism. "He disapproved"--to quote Mr. C. A.
Cook again--"of anything fanciful in expression or any display of
sentiment;" but, so long as writers kept clear of these literary
pitfalls, he let them go their own road of style, with ready
appreciation for any freshness or liveliness they exhibited on the
journey. Reviews of French books were a special object of care, and for
the _Athenaeum's_ annual survey of French literature he bestirred
himself to secure the best hand available. In a letter to M. Joseph
Reinach, dated July, 1888, he gives a list of the distinguished
men--including MM. About, De Pressense, and Sarrazin--who had written
this survey in past years, ending with a suggestion that M. Reinach
himself might perhaps be willing to undertake the task.

In his writing, as in his speaking, his object was always either to
place facts before his audience, or to develop a closely reasoned
argument based upon the facts. He took no trouble to cultivate literary
graces in this connection; rather he seemed to distrust them, as in his
speeches he distrusted and avoided appeals to the feelings of his
hearers. But it would be a great mistake to infer from his own practice
that he was insensible to beauty of form and style. The literature he
cared for most, that which roused his enthusiasm and provoked the
expression of emotion so rare with him in the later years of his
life--the literature of France before the Renaissance, the poetry of
Keats and Shelley, some of the lyrics of the Felibres--is of the kind in
which content owes so much to beauty of form that it is impossible to
conceive of the one without the other; and he certainly took quite as
much delight in the sound as in the sense of his favourites. Even in
those favourites he was quick to detect a flaw. His grandfather's
introduction of him to the best in literature had not been wasted; and
his own early reading had given him a touchstone of taste which he used
freely as a standard, although it was powerless to obtain admission to
his accepted company of men of letters for those who made no appeal to
him individually. The Memoir shows that his self-training in literature
(for the grandfather did no more than indicate the way) was carried out
in youth; it was at Cambridge, while still an undergraduate, that he
read Shakespeare 'for pleasure.' And this was true also of the great
authors of his own time. The results of that reading remained with him
through life.

The Memoir dwells little upon his literary interests, and contains few
literary judgments. He himself gives the reason:

'They do not pretend to be critical memoirs.... I have known
everyone worth knowing from 1850 to my death; but, as I knew the
most distinguished of my own country in childhood or early manhood,
my judgments have changed. I have either to give crude judgments
from which I dissent, or later judgments which were not those of the
time. I have omitted both.... I knew the great Victorian authors.
Thackeray I loved: _Vanity Fair_ delighted me, and _Esmond_ was
obviously a great work of art; the giant charmed me by his kindness
to me as a boy. But Dickens was to me a sea-captain with a taste for
melodrama, and the author of _Pickwick_. It is only in old age that
I have learnt that there was real beauty and charm in _David
Copperfield_. So, too, Mill I worshipped; and Carlyle, though I knew
him, I despised--perhaps too much. Mat. Arnold was to me, in his day
and my day, only a society trifler, whereas now ... after for years
I have visited his tomb, I recognize him as a great writer of the
age in which he lived.'

Here and there in the Memoir are glimpses of the world of literature
with which he was often in touch. He discusses with Swinburne a much-
disputed reference in Shelley's _Epipsychidion_. In 1872 Browning reads
his _Red Cotton Nightcap Country_ at 76, Sloane Street. There are
admiring references to the work of George Eliot, and to Mrs. Lynn
Linton--'perhaps the cleverest woman I know.' When he goes to the United
States, we get his warmly drawn picture of the Boston group--Emerson,
Agassiz, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Asa Gray, Longfellow, Lowell, Dr.
Collyer, and Dr. Hedge.

[Footnote: See Chapter VI. (Vol. I., p. 60).]

Recording Stepniak's suggestion that Bismarck, Mazzini, and Oliver
Wendell Holmes were the three greatest conversationalists of our times,
'I said that, having known all three, I agreed that they were
remarkable, although I myself found Mazzini a little of the bore.
Disraeli was sometimes very good, although sometimes singularly silent;
but there were once two Russians that I put in the first rank--Herzen
and Tourgenief.'

Questions relating to one literary personality alone receive full-length
treatment in the Memoir. On any point that concerned Keats Sir Charles
was always keenly interested. He may be said to have inherited the Keats
tradition and the Keats devotion from his grandfather, and anyone
connected with Keats found easy way to his sympathy and attention. It
was his intervention which finally obtained for Keats's sister, Mme.
Llanos, a regular Civil List pension in 1880. When the Lindon family
sold to Mr. Buxton Forman Keats's letters to Miss Brawne, Mme. Llanos
wrote 'from Madrid saying how greatly she was vexed that her brother's
love-letters should have been placed before the world,' and 'I had a
good deal of correspondence with Lord Houghton over this matter....
[Lord Houghton] wrote:

'"My Dear Dilke,

'"Since the _Athenaeum_ fixed my place in poetical literature
between Rogers and Eliza Cook, I have naturally not read that
journal, but I have been shown a capital flagellation of those
unfilial wine-merchants. [Footnote: Miss Brawne married Louis
Lindon, a wine-merchant.] I thought I had even gone too far in my
elegant extracts--with which you furnished me. I have, alas! no
poetical amours to be recorded, out of which my family can make
anything handsome."'

The letter ends with an invitation to lunch and 'talk Keats.'

Sir Charles notes further:

'About this time (1878) Mr. Buxton Forman announced for publication
the Keats Love-Letters, which I certainly thought I had in a vague
way bought for the purpose of preventing publication. They had been
long in my possession, but the son of Fanny Brawne had claimed them,
and I, having no written agreement, had found it necessary to give
them up--although what I had bought and paid for, unless it was the
right to prevent publication, I do not know.'

About this time Mr. John Morley proffered a request that Sir Charles
would write a monograph on Keats for his _English Men of Letters_. Lord
Houghton thought that a "new view" from Sir Charles "would have great
interest"; but he decided to decline the undertaking.

The Memoir records at length the course of a correspondence with Joseph
Severn, on the subject of his portraits of Keats, about which the old
man's memory, in his last days at Rome, had grown very hazy. He thought
that the miniature from which the engraving for Mr. Buxton Forman's
edition had been made was the original presented to Fanny Brawne,
whereas it was the copy made for old Mr. Dilke from that original, which
itself was afterwards 'bought by my grandfather to prevent its being
sold by auction.' There was also at Pyrford a copy in oils made for Mr.
Moxon, which Sir Charles had obtained by exchange from Mr. Frederick

'After completing my investigations as to the portraits, I placed
them on record in a letter to my old friend Scharf, the Keeper of
the National Portrait Gallery, who replied: "Thanks for your
interesting note, which we will duly place upon record. The portrait
which we have here is posthumous. Severn painted it in 1821, and we
hold a very curious letter from him describing the circumstances
under which he painted it." Here, therefore, is another undoubted
Severn in addition to the three which I possess. But I know myself
of at least one other.'

The gift of his collection of Keats relics to Hampstead has been
elsewhere recorded. In deciding on Hampstead for its resting-place, he
brought it within the circle of local associations with Keats himself,
and with the grandfather who had been Keats's friend. [Footnote: The
Memoir records, in 1878, a visit paid with his great-uncle, William
Dilke, to Wentworth Place, 'the little house at Hampstead in which for a
time Mr. C. W. Dilke and his brother were Keats's next-door

Modern French authors interested him more than their English
contemporaries. In the former case he found, perhaps, less declension
from the standard of the giants of whom he had been an eager student in
his early manhood, when he read "all Balzac," and recorded his
admiration for the "dignity" of Mme. de Stael's _Germany_. Dumas he
loved then and always, returning to him with ever new delight, and
utilizing the rare periods of inaction imposed upon him at intervals by
illness to read the whole of _The Three Musketeers_ series 'through
again--properly.' Where other writers who held sway over the mind of
France during the nineteenth century were in question, his independence
of taste came into play. Sainte-Beuve he could 'make nothing of.' For
Chateaubriand he felt something like contempt: 'Equally feeble as a
maker and a writer of history ... the inventor of a drawing-room
Christianity without Christ;' but he recognized the high quality to be
found in the early writings of Senancour. In later days the revival of a
Stendhal cult filled him with wondering amusement. To the best work of
Renan his affections were always faithful: _Souvenirs d'Enfance et de
Jeunesse_ was among his favourite volumes. Anatole France gave him
exquisite pleasure, and it is hard to say whether he most enjoyed the
wit, the irony, or the style of that great writer. He had his
favourites, too, among the minor gods, and was always ready to introduce
a new-comer to the charms of _Francois de Barbizanges_ or the fun of
Alfred Capus.

In French poetry his taste was eclectic. His feeling for Charles
d'Orleans and his contemporaries barely stopped on this side idolatry;
but the classics of the seventeenth century had no message for him, and
Victor Hugo as a poet left him, for the most part, unmoved. Indeed, he
asserted that all French verse between Ronsard and Verlaine was purely
rhetorical, and without genuine poetic quality. But in some modern
poets, he thought, the true spirit of French poetry had revived. Early
he proclaimed the genius of Charles Guerin, whose claim to high place in
his country's literature remained unrecognized till after his death;
early, too, he hailed a new poetic star in Francois Porche. The star
seemed to him later to wane in brilliancy, but the disappointment with
which he read the poems of M. Porche's second period never weakened his
admiring recollection of the splendour of the poet's Russian verses and
the searching pathos of _Solitude au Loin_.

His familiarity with French literature, his hearty affection for it, his
understanding of the national spirit by which it is informed and
quickened, constituted one of the strongest ties which bound him in
sympathy to his French friends. The literary forms which have had so
much attraction for the best French minds both before and after 1789--
the chronicle and the memoir--were precisely those to which his
unfailing interest in human nature led him by choice. Paradin and
Froissart were companions of whom he never grew tired; and it would be
difficult to decide whether he found more absorbing matter of
entertainment in Sully or Mme. de Dino.

But if he read these authors for delight, he read them also as a serious
student. On this point the testimony of one of the most learned men in
contemporary France is clear. M. Salomon Reinach writes: [Footnote: In a
letter addressed to the editor, and written in English.]

"Talking with Sir Charles Dilke about Renaissance and modern
history, I soon perceived that he had taken the trouble of going to
the sources, and that he had read and knew many things of importance
which a man of letters, and even a scholar, are apt to ignore. It
was Sir Charles, to give only one instance, who revealed to me the
value of Guillaume Paradin's _Histoire de Notre Temps_ and
_Chronique de Savoie_, which he admired to such a degree that he put
the now forgotten author (the name of whom is not in the British
Encyclopaedia) on the same level as Guicciardini and the great
historians of antiquity. I would like to know how he discovered
Paradin, and if copies of his rare works were in his library. When I
happened to get hold of Major Frye's manuscript, afterwards
published by me (thanks to Sir Charles Dilke's recommendation) at
Heinemann's, he was the first to appreciate its interest, and gave
me much information about abbreviated names and other allusions
which occur in that diary. He chanced to dine with me the very
evening when I first had brought the manuscript to my house, and he
remained till past one in the morning, picturesquely seated on the
edge of a table, reading passages aloud and commenting upon them. He
also knew many secret and unrecorded facts about recent French
history; some of them have been given by him in unsigned articles of
the _Athenaeum_, in reviews of books relating to the Franco-German
War. I hope he may have left some more detailed notes on that
subject. I would have had the greatest pleasure in corresponding
with him, and regret I did not do so; but his handwriting was as
mysterious as his mind was clear, and I soon found that I could not
make it out."



After Lady Dilke's death, the Rev. W. and Mrs. Tuckwell, her brother-
in-law and her elder sister, made their home with Sir Charles Dilke at
Pyrford; and notes of his talk put together from memory and from diaries
by the old scholar give a vivid impression of the statesman as seen in
intimacy. Mr. Tuckwell says:

During the last five years of his life I breakfasted alone with Sir
Charles whenever he was at Pyrford. It was his "softer hour," and
showed him in a specially endearing light. Not only was he fresh
from his night's rest, full, often, of matter interesting or amusing
in his letters which he had just read, but the tete-a-tete brought
out his finest social nature. In large companies, as we saw him at
Dockett, he was occasionally insistent, iterative, expressing
himself, to use a term of his own, with a "fierceness" corresponding
to the strength of his convictions. With me at our breakfasts he was
gentle, tolerant, what Sydney Smith called "amoebean," talking and
listening alternately. I was told that before his death the two
experiences to which he referred in anticipating a return to his
Pyrford home were the forestry among his pines and the early
breakfast table.

Much of his talk was, of course, Parliamentary, bearing on incidents
or persons from the House. He often spoke of Harcourt, whom he
dearly loved. When Harcourt's death was announced to a party at
breakfast in Speech House, several in the company told anecdotes of
the dead man or commented on his character. One lady spoke of him
harshly. Sir Charles remained silent, but more than once during the
meal his eyes filled with tears. He told me on another occasion that
"Lulu" promised to be a greater man than his father, just as Winston
Churchill is a greater man than Randolph. Lulu resembles his father
curiously in all things except in the paternal habit of swearing.
Once, when an attempt by the Opposition to snatch a victory in a
thin House had been foiled, Harcourt said savagely across the table:
"So that d----d dirty trick has failed!" Hicks Beach sprang up to
ask the Speaker if such language were Parliamentary. Speaker Gully
was too discreet to have heard the words. Dilke remembered being in
company with Harcourt and Mrs. Procter, amongst several more. As she
left the room, Harcourt said: "There goes one of the three most
charming women I ever knew; the other two"--a pause, during which
the ladies present looked keenly expectant--"the other two are

He turned to talk of Dizzy, to whom he had first been introduced in
his early days by Lady Lonsdale, the great man wishing to know him.
He quoted some of Dizzy's sayings. Dizzy called Spencer Walpole and
Russell Gurney "those two whited sepulchres of the House of
Commons." Walpole, consequential and lugubrious, he spoke of as "the
high-stepping hearse-horse of public life." Of deaf Mr. Thomasson,
who, ear-trumpet in hand, was wont to place himself near every
speaker, he said that "no man had ever so neglected his natural

Of Gladstone Dilke rarely spoke, but used to describe the periodical
entrance of Mrs. Gladstone into the meetings of the Cabinet with a
large basin of tea for the old man. [Footnote: In the last years of
Sir Charles's life, at a party given by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert
Gladstone at Downing Street, he stopped in the room where Cabinet
meetings used to be held, and pointed out to the editor of this book
the door through which Mrs. Gladstone used to enter bearing the bowl
of tea. For Sir Charles's recollections of Mr. Gladstone, see
appendix at end of this chapter.] Once he had to work out with his
chief some very difficult question. As they sat absorbed, Hamilton,
the private secretary, entered with an apologetic air to say that
----, a well-known journalist, had called, pressingly anxious to see
the Prime Minister on an important subject. Without raising his
head, Gladstone said: "Ask him what is his number in the lunatic

He told of a Cabinet in 1883 at which ---- talked a great deal, "and
I told Chamberlain that at the Political Economy Club, where I had
been dining on the previous night, there was a closure of debate in
the shape of the introduction of hot muffins, which I thought would
be excellent for Cabinets." At this Cabinet Lord Granville said: "We
all agree that ---- is a bore, but I have never been able to make up
my mind whether that is a drawback or a qualification so far as
public service is concerned."

Asquith he looked upon as one of the greatest Parliamentarians he
had known, much superior in that capacity to Gladstone. His
allocution on the King's death was noble; still finer his
introduction of the Veto Bill in December, 1909. "His speech was
perfect: forcible in manner, statesmanlike in argument, felicitous
in epithet and phrasing." Balfour on the same occasion was at his
worst: "hampered by his former contrary declarations, trivial in
reasoning, feeble in delivery." He was ill, and ought not to have
come. I asked if Balfour's frequent inconsistencies and vacillations
were due to carelessness. He said no, but to the necessity imposed
upon him, not of proclaiming principles, but of keeping together a
divergent party. I asked what other notable recent speeches he could
recall. He said the Archbishop of Canterbury's [Footnote: Dr.
Randall Davidson.] on the Congo scandal, in the House of Lords: "a
marvellous performance, nothing said which should not have been
said, everything said which required saying; the speech of a great
statesman." Bishop ---- followed him with a mere piece of missionary
claptrap. In the Commons on the same occasion our charming friend
Hugh Law distinguished himself, silencing some of his compatriots,
the Irish Roman Catholics, whose line was to support Leopold because
the Protestant missionaries abused him. Leopold II. Sir Charles
called "the cleverest--and wickedest--man living." He broke off to
speak of the Archbishop, whom he met weekly at Grillion's, as a
delightfully instructive talker, not only full, that is, of light
agreeableness, but supporting the opinions he advances with
convincing, cogent, logical force, yet never boring his hearers. As
another powerful speech he instanced T. P. O'Connor on Sir R.
Anderson's indiscretions, "most terribly crushing in its grim,
ruthless exposition," Anderson sitting in the Gallery to hear it.

In his own great speech on Army Reform in April, 1907, Sir Charles
said that Haldane was "all things to all men." His hearers perceived
it to be a quotation (which in fact I had furnished), but no one
localized it! An amusing misquotation was Arnold-Forster's in the
same debate: he said that Haldane was like King David, who drilled
his men by fifties in a cave. In March, 1909, Sir Charles told me
sadly of Arnold-Forster's sudden death, which he had just learned.
"With some defects of manner, he was very clever, writing and
speaking well. As War Minister Balfour gave him no chance. His last
speech in the House, a fortnight before his death, just preceded
mine. 'I must speak,' he said to me, 'on those damned Special
Reservists;' and speak he did for a good, well-sustained half-hour,
going out as soon as he had finished." He had been with us at
Dockett. He and Sir Charles sparred continually and amusingly, both
equally aggressive, imperious, stentorian, iterative, each insistent
on his own declamation and inattentive to his opponent's.

Sir Charles, while on this topic of oratory, went on to quote with
much hilarity a speech by Lord ---- in the Lords: "This Liberal
Government injures friends no less than enemies. Look at me! I am a
passive resister; I belong to the National Liberal Club; I have
married my deceased wife's sister; and none of my children are
vaccinated; yet they are meddling with my rights as a landlord." The
Lords did not see the fun, the papers did not report it, but it is
to be found in Hansard.

I asked Dilke how my old pupil, Sir Richard Jebb, comported himself
in Parliament. He said: "Handsome, beautifully groomed, with a
slight stoop, slow delivery, speaking rarely and on subjects which
he thoroughly understood, his phrasing perfect, manner engaging: a
man reserved and shy, not seeking acquaintance, but, if sought,
eminently agreeable." University members, he added, should come
always in pairs: one to represent the high University ideal,
embodied only in a very few; his colleague reflecting the mob of
country parsons who by an absurd paradox elect to Parliament. Jebb
was the ideal Cantab.; didactic, professorial, the Public Orator;
seeming incomplete without a gown: but for his rare and apt
appearances, he might have overdone the part.

He told a story of Major O'Gorman. A professed Roman Catholic, he
was dining in the House one Friday on a devilled chicken, when his
parish priest was announced. "Waiter," he said, "take away the
devil, and show in the priest."

When Sir Charles first took office, he was cautioned by his
colleague, Lord Tenterden, not to read the newspapers: "If you do,
you will never distinguish between what you know and what you have
just read."

He mentioned ----. I said that his elaborate manners and bridegroom
dress marked him out as _natus convivio feminali_, meant by nature
to be a guest at ladies' tea-tables. Dilke assented, adding that he
was less bland to men than to women. "Tommy" Bowles said of him in
the House: "The right honourable gentleman answers, or, rather, does
not answer, my questions with the pomposity of a Belgravian butler
refusing twopence to a beggar."

He spoke of the decadence in costume characteristic of the present
day. I said that, according to Wraxall, we must go back for its
beginnings to Charles Fox, who came down to the House in boots. I
added that, when I first went up to Oxford, a frock-coat and tall
hat were imperative in walking out; that a "cut-away" coat, as it
was called, would have been "sconced" in Hall; that men even kept
their boating-dresses at King's or Hall's, changing there; that a
blazer in the High would have drawn a crowd. He said that till very
lately--he was speaking in 1907--the custom of dress in Parliament
had been equally rigid; that Lord Minto had recently scandalized his
peers by wearing a straw hat; that when, some years before, a member
whose name I forget had taken the same liberty in the Commons, the
Speaker sent for him, and begged that he would not repeat the

In February, 1908, we talked of the Sweating Bill. Two years before,
he said, it could command so little support that, having obtained
for it the first private members' night, he withdrew it. Now it was
accepted with enthusiasm, and the second reading passed without a
division--the change, he added, entirely due to the Women's
Trade-Union League.

He expressed satisfaction with the stiffening procedure rules of
April, 1906, but added that they would make great Parliamentary
orations impossible. I said: "All the better, we want business in
the Commons; for oratory there are other occasions." He said how
transient is the public interest in men and questions; the community
is like a kitten playing with a cork: so soon as it is tempted off
by something else, the cork becomes dead to it. He instanced
Rosebery; the Aliens Act; Tariff Reform, in spite of Chamberlain's
galvanizing efforts. Of Campbell-Bannerman, then alive and well, he
said that all his work was done for him by his subordinates: "he had
only to read novels, prepare jokes, look inscrutable and fatherly."

In July, 1909, he attended the memorial service for Lord Ripon at
the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Knowing that the leading statesmen on
both sides, Protestant to a man, would be present, the ecclesiastics
made the show as fine as they could, bringing out all their
properties. All the monks and priests in London attended; the
Archbishop, in gorgeous attire, sat on a stool, with two boys behind
holding up his train. The music was exquisite; Sir Charles had never
heard anything so sweet as the warbling of the Requiem by the
chorister boys. But the whole was palpably a show, the actors intent
on their acting, never for a moment devotional; where changes in the
service involved changes in position, they were prepared while the
part before was still unfinished, so that the stage might never be
empty nor the transformations lag: the whole thing a Drury Lane
pageant; while the richly decorated catafalque in the centre, on
which the ceremonial supposed itself to converge, was empty--
_sepulchri supervacuos honores_--the body being at Studley. Of Ripon
himself, whom everyone loved, he spoke affectionately.

Of talks on miscellaneous topics I recall the following. We spoke of
the Tilsit Secret Articles, revealed mysteriously to the English
Government. Sir Charles thought the informant was a Russian officer,
betraying it with or without the connivance of the Tsar. Evidence
has since come out connecting the disclosure with a Mr. Mackenzie,
who is supposed to have obtained the secret from General Benningsen.
Or Canning may have learned it through the Russian Ambassador in
England, who was his intimate friend, and strongly adverse to his
master's French policy. [Footnote: See for a recent discussion of
the evidence J. Holland Rose's _Life of Napoleon_, ii. 135-140.] Sir
Charles went on to say that in history lies find easier credit than
truth. All the books have said and say that England refused to buy
Delagoa Bay from Portugal. He always denied this alleged refusal;
and now Lord Fitzmaurice has caused search to be made, and finds no
confirmatory evidence. Again, he maintained in Paris, against all
the experts, that Nigra engineered the Franco-Prussian War. His
words were repeated to the Empress Eugenie, who said, "Yes, he is
right: Nigra was a false friend."

He talked of the Japanese, whom he had known in England and lived
with in Japan.... Their only religion is patriotism, and their
prayers to the Emperor are formal merely, yet they are reckless of
life and eager to die for Fatherland; indeed, so incapable of
retreating before an enemy as sometimes seriously to damage
strategic plans. Were they launched against the West, they would go
through any European army.

He spoke of the durability of the Third French Republic. It will be
unbroken while peace lasts. War may bring a temporary Dictatorship,
but the republic will of necessity revive again. The immense
majority of Frenchmen are opposed unalterably to a monarchy.

He quoted what was said to be Napoleon's only joke. In opening
negotiations with the British Government, he found it to be demanded
as a preliminary that, as matter of principle and without prejudice,
he should formally recognize the Bourbon rights, "Most certainly,"
he said, "if, also as matter of principle and without prejudice, the
British Government would formally recognize the Stuart rights."

Dilke spoke of the old Political Economy Club, to which he was
introduced by John Stuart Mill. The President was Lord Bramwell; its
dominant member William Newmarch, a rough man of powerful intellect,
of whose ferocious criticisms everyone stood in awe, and who was
habitually hard on Mill.

He told a story of a well-known dandy, now a peer. The talk turned
on "Society" in the second intention of the word ---- had
enumerated certain houses in which you must be at home if pretending
to the exclusive social set. It was objected that the inmates of
some amongst these houses were persons whom the Queen (Victoria)
would not receive. "The Queen!" said ---- in a tone of pained
surprise--"the Queen was _never_ in Society."

I had been to church unwittingly on "Empire Day," and reported a
sermon stuffed with militarism. He poured cold water on the idea.
"Ireland won't have it; Canada won't have it; South Africa loathes
it; India has an Empire Day of its own. Only Australia cares for it.
It is a vulgar piece of Tory bluff, and a device for annoying the

He had lately visited Dropmore: said how frequently the Dropmore
Papers upset accepted history, but that the historian will answer,
_Mon siege est fait_. He explained the phrase. A man had written a
history of some famous siege; after it was published fresh facts
were brought to his notice: he declined them--"Mon siege est fait."
[Footnote: Ascribed to the Abbe Dubois.]

He talked of Marlborough's victories: he hummed the opening verse of
"Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre." I said it was our "For he's a jolly
good fellow": he said yes, but the tune goes back to the time of the
Crusaders. I asked who wrote the words. He said an unknown French
soldier on the night of Malplaquet, when Marlborough was believed to
have been killed. Napoleon, who knew no music, often mounted his
horse at the opening of a campaign singing the first line as he put
his foot into the stirrup.

He spoke often of Grillion's which he habitually frequented and much
enjoyed. He told of its formation in 1812; of old members whom he
had known--Sir Robert Inglis, Chenery of the _Times_, regal old Sir
Thomas Acland, Fazakerley, Gally Knight, Wilmot Horton; of its
effect in socially harmonizing men bitterly opposed in politics. He
told the story of "Mr. G." dining there by accident alone, and
entering himself in the club book as having drunk a bottle of sherry
and a bottle of champagne. He said what care was taken to exclude
undesirables, preserving thereby a high tone of company and of talk.
I asked him what was the finest conversation to which he had ever
listened. "In Boston," he said; "at Lowell's breakfast-table; the
company Lowell, Wendell Holmes, Longfellow, Agassiz, Asa Gray."
[Footnote: See Vol. I., Chapter VI.]

We talked of precious stones, recalling the Koh-i-noor in its small
gas-lighted tent at the 1851 Exhibition. He said that modern paste
is more beautiful and effective than diamonds. The finest pearls
known belonged to the Duchess of Edinburgh: she showed Sir Charles a
collar valued at two millions sterling. I named the Hope jewels,
shown also in 1851. He knew the "rich Hope," Henry, who built the
house in Piccadilly. The "poor Hope," Beresford, had only L30,000 a
year. They were a Dutch family, "Hoop" by name. Beresford's wife,
Lady Mildred, aped the Queen, driving in the Park dressed in black,
with a large hat, and finely mounted outriders. The same thing was
done by Mme. Van de Weyer. Beresford bought the _Morning Chronicle_
in order to promulgate his High Church views, writing under the
signature D.C.L. He ruined the paper.

He more than once sang the praises of Sir George Grey--honoured in
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand; statesman, aristocrat,
Radical, creator of the Australian Labour Party, terror of our
Colonial Office at home; one of the few men who have done great
things by themselves. Bismarck told Sir Charles that Cavour, Crispi,
Kruger, were greater than himself. "I had the army and the State
behind me; these men had nothing." Amongst Bismarck's minor desires
was a hope that he might outlive his physician, Dr. Schweininger,
who plagued him with limitations as to diet. "To-day potatoes will
we eat; to-morrow comes Schweininger." He owned to having over-eaten
himself once, and only once: "Nine nine-eyes (lampreys) did I eat."
"People," he said, "look on me as a monarchist. Were it all to come
over again, I would be republican and democrat: the rule of kings is
the rule of women; the bad women are bad, the good are worse."

Sir Charles spoke of Botha, whom he met here in 1907. People were
unexpectedly charmed with him: they anticipated a replica of old
Kruger; instead of that they beheld a handsome man, with the most
beautiful eyes and mouth ever seen. His daughter with him was very
pretty; fashionably dressed, in the style of a French American.

He told of an Indian official under the old East India Company
stationed in a remote place, a "Boggley Wallah," who for several
years sent in no reports, money, or accounts. An emissary,
commissioned to bring him to book, found him living in great luxury
on the borders of a lake. He said that he did his work and kept his
papers on an island in the lake, and sent a boat for them; but the
returning boat somehow sank in mid-water, and books and papers went
to the bottom. The Company dismissed him without a pension: he came
to London, took his seat daily in ragged clothes just outside the
offices in Leadenhall Street, standing up to salaam when any
Director or official passed in or out, but speaking no word. People
gathered to look at him, and at last the Company gave him L1,000 a
year. He drove down in a carriage and four, and handed in a letter
stating that he had already amassed L5,000 a year in their service,
that they had now raised it to L6,000, and that he desired to
express his gratitude.

I quoted from some book I was reading a dictum that no woman
nowadays can be called perfectly beautiful. He said he had known
only two, Lady Dudley and Madame Castiglione. The latter was in the
pay successively of Victor Emanuel and Louis Napoleon; in the second
capacity supposed to have been a spy employed by Cavour.

He spoke of John Forster, biographer of Dickens, an intimate friend
of his own grandfather and father, as a man of violent, noisy
passions, but very lovable; his attitude towards Dickens
pathetically affectionate.

He described two German Princesses whom he had met at lunch; dowdy
and of the ordinary Teutonic type, looking on their brother "Billy"
as the greatest of mortals. They had been shopping up and down
Oxford Street, delighted with their purchases, and with their escape
from Court ceremonial. He went on to say how common every Prussian
officer looks when in plain clothes. Wearing them very rarely, the
officers never look at ease in them; and the swagger which they
adopt in uniform is highly ridiculous in mufti.

When Napoleon's death was known, one of George IV.'s Ministers went
to his master with the news: "Sir, your greatest enemy is dead."
"Good G---! they told me she was better," was the royal answer. Sir
Charles spoke of Jerome Bonaparte, whom he knew; a dull man, a thorn
in the side of Napoleon III. "You have nothing of the great Napoleon
about you," Jerome said one day. "I have his family," answered the
worried Emperor. From him we passed to the death of the Duc
d'Enghien. The Princes were notoriously plotting against Napoleon's
life; by slaying a Prince of the blood he made it clear that two
could play the game. The first copy of Mme. de Remusat's book was
thought to deal too plainly with this and other topics; it was
destroyed, and rewritten in a softer tone.

In November, 1909, Sir Charles spent some days in the Record Office,
coming back each time in much need of a bath, after rummaging
amongst papers which had not been disturbed for a century. He found
amongst other papers a letter from a Grand Duke of Modena to
Castlereagh, written just after Napoleon's fall, saying how exultant
were his subjects at his return to them, and asking Castlereagh to
lend him L14. With the letter was the draft of Castlereagh's answer,
congratulating the Duke's subjects and himself, but adding that
there would be difficulty in applying to Parliament for the loan.

Sir Charles remarked on my _Athenaeum_ review of Francis Newman's
Life. He said that when he himself was in bad odour for his early
Civil List speeches, so that he had been exposed to serious
disturbances, and a break-up of his intended meeting at Bristol was
threatened, Newman, from sheer dislike to mob tyranny, came forward
to take the chair; and through a tempest of shouts and rushes, and
amid the stifling smell of burnt Cayenne pepper, sat in lean
dignity, looking curiously out of place, but serene in vindication
of a principle. [Footnote: See Vol. I, Chapter IX.]

The publication of the Life of Goldwin Smith led us to talk of
University reform. I said how by means of it my own college had
become _ex humili potens_, had arisen from depths to heights, from
obscurity to fame. Of his, he said, the contrary was true: his
college had been ruined by Parliamentary interference. Trinity Hall
was founded for the study and teaching of jurisprudence, the old
Roman canon and civil law, on which all modern law is based. It was
the only institution of the kind, a magnificent and useful monopoly.
This exclusive character was destroyed by Parliament; scholarships
in mathematics and classics were instituted; it is now like other
colleges, and men who wish to study law at its source no longer
frequent it. He talked to me of Cambridge, and related with mimicry
anecdotes of "Ben" Latham, Master of Trinity Hall. Dining at Trinity
Hall one Sunday in 1883, he said Latham told him that he had lately
been sitting on an inter-University committee with Jowett, and that
Jowett was so sharp a man of business that "it is like sitting to
represent the Great Northern against the London and North-Western.
His one idea is to draw away passengers from the rival line." Latham
went on to say that the students for India who were made to stay two
years at Cambridge or Oxford, under Jowett's scheme, "the first year
learn _Sandford and Merton_ in Tamil, translated by a missionary;
and the second year _Sandford and Merton_ in Telugu, translated by
the same missionary. Thus they acquire a liberal education."

He talked of Waterloo, the battlefield being known to us both. It
was, he said, as the Duke always owned, a wonderfully near thing. If
Napoleon had had with him the two army corps left in France to
overawe insurrectionary districts, who would have joined him in a
week; and if at Ligny he had persevered in so smashing the Prussians
as to leave them powerless--if these two "if's" had become
realities, Napoleon must have driven Wellington back on Brussels.
Then the Belgians would have joined him, and the Austrians would
have forsaken the Allies, Metternich wishing well to Bonaparte for
the sake of his wife and child. The mystery of his escape from Elba,
which the English fleet might easily have prevented, remains still
to be explained: for the Vienna Congress was riddled with intrigue.
[Footnote: Sir Charles Dilke discussed the whole question of
Napoleon's escape from Elba in an article in the _Quarterly Review_,
January, 1910, entitled "Before and After the Descent from Elba."]

He made me laugh at a parson who in moments of provocation used to
say "Assouan!" His friends at last remembered that at Assouan was
the biggest dam in the world.

He gave me a recipe for beefsteak pudding: _no beef_, fresh kidney,
fresh mushrooms, fresh oysters, great stress laid on the epithet:
serve the pudding in its basin.

He came in to breakfast one morning whistling an attractive air. I
asked what it was; he said from _Carmen_, and hummed the air
through. He went on to say that he had well known the composer,
Bizet, who founded his opera on Merimee's romance. It fell flat, and
Bizet died believing it a failure; afterwards it became the rage.

This whistling of music was a favourite practice with him. His
accurate ear enabled him to reproduce any tune which had at any time
impressed him. He would give Chinese airs, would go through parts of
a Greek Church service, would sing words and music of the _Dies Irae.
On the Sunday following the death of Florence Nightingale our
Chertsey organist played Chopin's Funeral March. Sir Charles said
its _motifs_ were Greek rustic popular airs, each of which he
hummed, showing how Chopin had worked them in.

The dinner given to him in April, 1910, in connection with the Trade
Boards Bill was a great success, and much delighted him. He said
Bishop Gore had made a splendid speech. Sir Charles had a long chat
with Gore, and was, as always, delighted with his information and

He talked of a Parisian jeweller who lived by selling jewels and by
lending money to the great Indian native potentates, and had
establishments for that purpose in India. This man wished to be
employed by our Government as a spy: Sir Charles applied on his
behalf to Lord George Hamilton, who handed to him the man's
_dossier_, an appalling catalogue of crimes and misdemeanours. He
had an extraordinarily noble presence; Sir Charles said to him:
"_You_ ought to be Amir of Afghanistan." "No," he replied; "I should
never have the patience to kill a sufficient number of people."

Of a French gentleman who had come to tea, recommended by the French
Ambassador, Sir Charles said that he was a French fool, the worst
kind of fool, _corruptio optimi_.

He showed the number of peerages having their origin in
illegitimacy, although the official books conceal the fact where
possible. The facts come out in such memoirs as Lady Dorothy
Nevill's. He went on to talk of divorce in the Roman Church, and to
scout their boast that with them marriage is an indissoluble
sacrament. The Prince of Monaco was for years the husband of Lady
Mary Hamilton. They tired of each other, wished for a divorce; the
Pope, with heavy fees for the transaction, declared the marriage to
have been for some ecclesiastical reason null and void. Each married
again; but the son of the nominally annulled union succeeded his
father as legitimate heir.

Sir Charles spoke--this was in 1906--of Buelow's speech in the German
Parliament, as one of the best ever made by any statesman, and
creating universal astonishment. Its appreciation of France and of
Gambetta was magnificent as well as generous. The French, after the
_debacle_, behaved as a nation self-respecting and patriotic ought
to have behaved. His hint at the bad feeling between the Kaiser and
King Edward was dexterous; it was real and insuperable; none of our
Royal Family can forgive the seizure of Hanover by Prussia; and
added to this was our King's indignation at the Kaiser's treatment
of the Empress Frederick, a member of his family for whom he felt
strong affection.

Of Morny he said that he was very handsome, but in an inferior
style. His beautiful Russian wife never cared for him, but in
obedience to Russian custom cut off her wonderful hair to be laid
with him in his coffin.

He spoke of the brothers Chorley, one the supreme musical critic of
his time, the other a profound Spanish scholar, shut up through life
in his library of 7,300 volumes.

Dilke told me one morning that he had been writing since five
o'clock an article for the _United Service Gazette_, and had
finished it to his satisfaction, adding that papers dashed off under
an impulse were always the best. I demurred. "Those papers of mine,"
I said, "specially praised by you have been always the fruit of long
labour." "Ah!" he answered, "but you have style--a rare
accomplishment; that is what I have admired in yours." "Would you,"
I said, "admire the style if the matter were ill considered?" "Yes."

He often talked admiringly of the Provencal language, declaiming
more than once what he called a fine Homeric specimen:

"Pesto, liona, sablas, famino, dardai fou,
Avie tout affronta."

(Pestilence, lions, sandy deserts, famine, maddening sun-heat,
Ye have all this faced.)

He was fond, too, of quoting Akbar's inscription on the Agra bridge:
"Said Jesus, on whom be peace, Life is a bridge: pass over!"

He described the French Foreign Legion: two regiments employed by
the French chiefly among the natives in the Tonquin settlement--
desperate men most of them, many of high social position and of army
rank, who had "done something" and had gone wrong; disgraced, hiding
from society, criminals escaped from justice, with a sprinkling of
young adventurers and riotous Germans. No enormity they would not
commit, no danger they would not court; some even seeking death; all
knowing that if left wounded in the bush by retreating comrades they
would be tortured horribly by the Tonquin women. They had a hospital
served by Roman Catholic nurses, to whom they paid every respect.
When a man newly joined once whistled rudely while the Sister was
praying, as was her custom before leaving the ward, his comrades
severely punished him. Intra-regimental offences, such as theft,
were visited with death.

He mentioned one morning that he had just received a Privy Council
summons. I asked why the Bidding Prayer held a petition for the
Lords _and others_ of Her Majesty's Privy Council: old Regius
Professor Jacobson used to tell us that it was a mistake, that all
Privy Councillors were "Lords" of the Privy Council. He thought that
the word "others" represented the Lord Mayor, who attends Accession
Councils and signs the parchment, but, not being a Lord of Council,
is then required to leave, while other business proceeds.

Twice in these years he dined at Oxford--once at All Souls as the
guest of Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, again on the invitation of some
undergraduates, sons mostly of his political acquaintances. He
greatly enjoyed both; the young men were the pick and flower of
Oxford; the All Souls high table was full of young teachers and
professors. What a change from the aristocratic college of my time,
whose head was Lewis Sneyd, its Fellows William Bathurst, Henry
Legge, Sir Charles Vaughan, Augustus Barrington, etc.! Anson very
charmingly presided; the talk was everything except political.

He was extraordinarily impressed by the funeral of the King--a
wonderful and novel ceremony he called it. As a senior Privy
Councillor he had an excellent place with Asquith close to the
coffin. The most magnificent figure in the show was Garter
King-of-Arms, but all the heralds were splendid. The Archbishop,
with the Dean of Westminster and a cross-bearer, was the only
prominent ecclesiastic, the Bishops in their places as peers being
crowded out of sight. The colouring was most effective, black
setting off the scarlet. The singing was somewhat drowned by the
Guards' bands, but the Dead March came in grandly through the
windows from Palace Yard. He mentioned a curious fact: that
Westminster Hall is controlled, not by Parliament, not by any
Government department, but by the Great Chamberlain. It is the sole
remaining part of the royal palace, which was lent to Parliament by
our early Kings. I said that it had not witnessed such a scene
since, on Mary's accession, the Sovereign and the two Houses met
there to receive Papal absolution from the Legate Pole. He wished I
had told him so before.

He recalled the Cambridge Union debates of his time: the best he
ever heard was on a personal question, the impeachment of a man
named Harris for some breach of rule. Henry Sidgwick was in the
chair, the speaking extraordinarily animated and well sustained. The
finest orator of his time was a man called Payne. [Footnote: Payne
belonged to the same college as Dilke, Trinity Hall, and was
bracketed Senior in the Law Tripos of 1868. He had begun to make his
mark both at the Bar and in the Press, when, still a very young man,
he was killed in a mountaineering accident in Wales.] I said our
best speaker in my day was Goschen; his Union reports caused
Gladstone to pick him out and bring him forward. He said yes, but
that Goschen never fulfilled his promise until his really powerful
speech on Free Trade in 1903.

He enumerated the Jewish types in England. There is (1) the sallow
Jew with a beak; (2) the same without a beak; (3) the "hammy" Jew,
with pink face like a _cochon-a-lait_. The Florentine type, with
fair hair and beautiful clear face, is not seen in England.

His criticism of a certain lady led me to ask who, of people he had
known, possessed the most perfect manners. He said Lord Clarendon,
who had the old carefully cultivated Whig manners, yet with the
faintest possible tendency to pomposity. This style became
unfashionable, and was succeeded by what he called the "early
Christian" or "Apostolic" manners, of which the late Lord Knutsford
was a perfect exemplar. The best-mannered woman he had known was the
late Lady Waterford. Domestic servants too, he said, have manners;
he instanced as magnificent specimens Turner, Lady Waldegrave's
groom of the chambers, and Miss Alice Rothschild's Jelf. Lady
Lonsdale once spoke of the latter as "Guelph, or whatever member of
the Royal Family it is that waits on Alice."

Sir Charles talked about the Wallace Collection. Sir Richard was not
the natural son either of the fourth Lord Hertford, or of his father
the third Lord, Thackeray's Steyne and Disraeli's Monmouth. He was
brought up by the fourth Lord Hertford, under the name of Monsieur
Richard, not by any means as the expectant heir; yet, excepting the
settled estates, which went to the fifth Marquis, all was left to
him. Part of the great art collection remained at Bagatelle, which
became the property of a younger Wallace, an officer in the French
army; the rest has come to the English nation through Lady Wallace,
to whom her husband left the whole. Why Sir Richard assumed the name
Wallace no one knows. He was French, not English, speaking English
imperfectly: a kind, cheery, polished gentleman.

Apropos of the Education Bill: old Lady Wilde from her window in
Tite Street heard a woman bewailing herself in the street--her son
had been "took away," to gaol that is. "He was a good boy till the
Eddication came along;" then, kneeling down on the pavement and
joining her hands, she prayed solemnly "God damn Eddication."

Sir Charles contrasted the idiosyncrasies of some politicians: Grey
reserved, Balfour telling everything to everybody; Arnold-Forster
closely "buttoned up," Gorst dangerously frank. On Gorst he
enlarged: a nominal Tory, in fact a Radical, ever battering his own
side for the mere fun of the operation; old in years, young in
activity of brain and body; a poor man all his life.

He said that the two incomparable sights which this country could
show to a foreigner were (1) Henley in regatta week; (2) the Park on
a fine summer day: everyone out riding, and the Life Guards' band
going down to a Drawing-room.

I asked if he had heard a certain London preacher who was drawing
large audiences. He said yes, and that he was well worth hearing.
"He is High Church and anti-ritualist, Socialist and aristocrat,
orthodox while holding every heresy extant, not cultured or
literary, slovenly and almost coarse; yet grasping his listeners by
the feeling impressed on each that the preacher knows and is
describing his (the hearer's) experiences, troubles, hopes,

I questioned him about Leonard Montefiore, a memoir of whom had
caught my eye in one of the bookcases. He was a man of brilliant
promise, unpopular at Balliol, giving himself intellectual airs;
went unwashed, with greenish complexion and generally repulsive
appearance; would have been prominent had he lived; was much petted
by Ruskin.

He said that, if London were destroyed to-morrow, in ten years' time
its site would be covered with a forest of maple, sycamore, robinia,
showing an undergrowth of Persian willow-herb.

He told of a man whom his groom pronounced to be "the footiest gent
on a 'oss and the 'ossiest gent on foot as he ever see."

He spoke of the "Local Veto Bill," forced by Harcourt on a reluctant
Cabinet; Harcourt was, he said, a genuine convert to the principle--
a curious intellectual phenomenon, this development of a belated
conviction in a mind hitherto essentially opportunist. It cost him
his seat later on.

Sir Charles described Speaker Peel's farewell to the House: said
that it was quite perfect in every way. He thought Gully undesirable
as his successor, and should not vote for him.

Of the rising I.L.P. he said once, in early days, they had done
wrongly in formulating a programme. Their name was a sufficient
programme; now they would indirectly help the Tories.

He had an extraordinary insight into the mental habits and emotions
of domestic animals, interpreting the feelings and opinions of his
horses when out riding, of his Pyrford dog Fafner, of his Sloane
Street cat Calino, in a manner at once graphic and convincing. His
love for cats amounted to a passion; a menagerie of eight or ten
tailless white or ginger Persians was kept in an enclosure, at
Pyrford. Once, when exploring a fine Ravenna church, we missed him,
returning from our round to find him near the door, caressing a cat
belonging to the custodian, which he had inveigled into his lap.

His literary dislikes and preferences were numerous and frankly
expressed, deeply interesting as the idiosyncrasies of a rich and
highly trained intelligence, even when to myself somewhat
unaccountable. While keenly appreciating the best in modern French
literature, he could see no charm in Corneille or Racine. Quite
lately Rabelais, reopened after many years, appealed to him
strongly, as keen satire and invective veiled by wit, and, so only,
tolerated by those scourged. To be laid hold of and temporarily
possessed by a book was as characteristic of him as of old
Gladstone; in their turn, _Pantagruel_, Anatole France's _Penguins_,
most of all _The Blue Bird_, which he read delightedly, but would
not see acted, formed of late the breakfast equipage as certainly as
the eggs and toast: any utterance of conventional apology or regret
was expressed by, "Voulez-vous que j'embrasse le chat?"

His acquaintance with English literature was intermittent. He was
apparently a stranger to our eighteenth-century authors, both in
poetry and prose; of those who followed them in time, he undervalued
Scott, disliked Macaulay, admired Napier, admired Trollope.
Wordsworth he condemned as puerile, inheriting the _Edinburgh
Review_ estimate of his poetry, and often called on me ecstatically
to repeat Hartley Coleridge's parody of _Lucy_. Of Keats he was
immeasurably fond, drawn to him by the poet's relation to his
family, declaiming his lines often--as he did sometimes those of
Shelley, whose verses in his own copy of the poems are heavily and
with wise selection scored--in tones which showed a capacity for
deep poetic feeling. A quotation would accidentally arrest him, and
he would call for the book, usually after short perusal discarding
the author as a "poopstick," a favourite phrase with him. I remember
this occurring with the _Rejected Addresses_, though he knew and
loved James Smith. A travesty of Omar Khayyam, called _The Rubaiyat
of a Persian Kitten_, he read delightedly, much preferring it to the
original. He professed contempt for the study of English grammar,
more especially for the scientific analysis of English
sentence-structure, which plays so large a part in modern education.
The contempt was certainly, as Osborne Gordon said, not bred of
familiarity. I fear that, like most University or public school men,
he would have been foiled by the simplest Preliminary Grammar Paper
of a University Local Examination to-day.

But his knowledge of political history, foreign and domestic, during
the last centuries was marvellously extensive and minute. In earlier
history he was oblivious often of his own previous knowledge,
argumentatively maintaining untenable propositions. Though fortified
by Freeman and Bryce, I could never get him to admit that all the
historic "Emperors," from Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C. down to
Francis, King of Germany, who gave up the Empire in A.D. 1806, were
Emperors, not of Germany or Austria, but of Rome; or that the
Reformed English Church of Tudor times, with all its servility, had
never relinquished, but steadily held and holds, its claim to
continuous Catholicity. But a query as to the French Revolution, the
Napoleonic dynasties, the Vienna Congress, the South African or
Franco-Prussian War, or the developments in India, Canada, Egypt,
would draw forth a stream of marshalled lucid information, which it
was indeed a privilege to hear.

"Neque ille in luce modo atque in oculis civium magnus, sed intus
domique praestantior. Qui sermo! quae praecepta! quanta notitia
antiquitatis! quae scientia juris! Omnia memoria tenebat, non
domestica solum, sed etiam externa bella. Cujus sermone ita tunc
cupide tenebar, quasi jam divinarem, id quod evenit, illo exstincto
fore unde discerem neminem" (Cicero, _De Senectute_).



The difficulty in the way of furnishing reminiscences of Mr. Gladstone
in Cabinet is in part the Privy Council oath, but still more the fact
that, where the matters that would be touched are of interest, they
often affect individuals or parties. I saw the most of Mr. Gladstone
between 1880 and 1886, and to this period the restrictions imposed by
the considerations named are most highly applicable. In the earlier days
when I sat in Parliament with him, from 1868 to 1880, we were, though
sitting on the same side of the House, frequently opposed to one
another, for I was often fighting for the claims of independent
Radicalism as against his commanding personality. This was especially
the case from 1868 to 1874; and his retirement after his defeat in 1874,
when Lord Hartington became the leader of the Liberal party, was so
complete that it was not until Mr. Gladstone was aroused by the
development of the Eastern Question in 1877 that we again saw much of
him in the House of Commons. An interesting reminiscence of the great
struggle of 1878 is afforded by the copy in my possession of the Whips'
list of the Liberal party marked by Mr. Gladstone and myself. I was
acting for him, against the party Whips, in the preparations for the
division upon his famous Resolutions. We daily went through the promises
of the members who had undertaken to support his Resolutions, of those
who remained steadfast in adhesion to Lord Hartington and who were
prepared to vote against the Resolutions, and of those who would vote
neither way. The changes from day to day in the ascertained opinions of
the party were most strange. Family was divided against family--for
instance the family of Cavendish--and the cleavage followed no line that
corresponded with shades of Liberalism. The pro-Turks upon the Liberal
side were joined in their support of Lord Hartington by the "peace at
any price" section of the Radicals. Curiously enough, the division of
the party was exactly equal, and remained equal through all the changes
of individual promises. On the day on which peace was made, and (to Mr.
Gladstone's immense relief) the chances of a complete disruption
averted, the number of members pledged to Mr. Gladstone was 110, and an
exactly equal number of members was pledged to Lord Hartington and the

Coming to later times, a reminiscence is one of April, 1893, when Mr.
Gladstone sent for me to discuss a motion of which I had given notice
upon the Egyptian occupation. He talked on that occasion with that
absolute frankness which accompanied the confidence he always placed in
others. It was not peculiar to him, but belongs more, perhaps, to the
old days in which he received the training of his mind than to present
times. We are told that democratic diplomacy is to be outspoken. But, so
far as Parliament is concerned, the older leaders were, I think, like
Mr. Gladstone, more given to outspokenness than the newer men, who find
themselves forced by the ubiquity of the Press to a greater reserve than
was formerly necessary to be maintained. Mr. Gladstone was always of a
playful mind, and it would be impossible ever to fully relate any of his
conversations without recalling the manner in which, however absorbed in
his subject, he always would break off to discuss some amusing
triviality. Sir William Harcourt has touchingly recalled Mr. Gladstone's
old-world courtesy, which was in private life his distinguishing
characteristic.--_Daily News_, May 24_th_, 1898.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest