Part 2 out of 11
and retire' expedition by the Nile route for the autumn, 'it being
assumed that the boats then ordered could not pass the various
cataracts before High Nile.' See _Life of Lord Northbrook_, pp.
185-186. A review by Sir Charles of March 28th, 1908, in the same
paper, of _Modern Egypt_, by the Earl of Cromer, also deals with
Lord Northbrook's pressure for a Nile Expedition in March, 1884.] On
April 28th, Berber, Khartoum, and Gordon, on which there was nothing
new, but Hartington insisted on a large and important military
'On April 29th Baring had now come over about Egypt, and attended a
Cabinet to state his views. I saw him privately, and settled with
him the details for a possible Nile expedition "small and early."
The difficulty was at the sixth cataract. He also broached to me his
scheme for a new control by the four Powers already represented on
the Caisse de la Dette--namely, England, France, Austria, and Italy,
with an English president.'
'At the next Cabinet there was a proposal by Hartington that there
should be a vote of thanks to Sir Gerald Graham and Admiral Hewett
for the Suakim expedition--a proposal which the Cabinet rejected,
having had quite enough of votes of thanks on the former occasion
when Wolseley and Beauchamp Seymour were in question. The next
matter was what we should say about our Law of Liquidation
Conference, on which there arose an awkward question as to what
should happen in the probable case of the representatives of the
Powers not being unanimous. There was every reason to suppose that
the French would not agree to anything, and precedents went to show
that unanimity was necessary to render valid the decisions of a
conference. Indeed, there was no precedent as regards questions of
principle which told the other way; and at the Congress of Berlin
Prince Bismarck had stated, as recorded in the first protocol, that
as regarded substantive proposals it was an incontestable principle
that the minority should not be bound to acquiesce in a vote of a
'Then came the consideration of the action to be taken by the
Egyptian Government towards Mr. O'Kelly, M.P., [Footnote: Mr. James
O'Kelly, then M.P. for Koscommon, a very adventurous war
correspondent. He died in 1916.] Parnell's friend, who had been
trying to join the Mahdi. We next considered Lord Salisbury's
relations towards Tewfik as Khedive, as affected by the violent
attacks of many Conservative members, put up by Broadley, upon
Tewfik's character. Randolph Churchill had made a most ferocious
series of attacks upon the Khedive, without one atom of truth in
them. It is a curious example of his forgetful flightiness, that
when, a few years later, he went to Egypt, he was struck with wonder
at the Khedive's refusal to receive him. The terms of the French
acceptance of our invitation to the Conference were discussed, as
were the House of Commons questions as to Gordon, and the offer of
Mr. Guy Dawnay, M.P., to go as a messenger to Gordon at his own
cost. Then followed the internal condition of Egypt, as to which
Baring's views were stated by me; then Harrar; then the employment
of negroes or Turks for the Egyptian army; then the Turks at Suakim;
then the Somali coast.
'On the same day I had an interview with the ex-Khedive Ismail, who
had gone downhill. He always had a certain difficulty in collecting
his ideas and putting them into words, but on this occasion it went
farther than I had previously known. He wished to impress on me the
necessity for defending Egypt against the Mahdi at some given point
upon the Nile, when occurred that incident of his continually
working up to the name of the place and forgetting it. [Footnote:
See Chapter XXX., Vol. I., p. 487.]
'On May 5th there was a Cabinet. We considered the vote of censure
as to Gordon, and decided that time must be given for it; and I then
had some correspondence with Northbrook across the table as to an
expedition. I said: "Northbrook, I should be glad to know all you
know against the Nile route. Ismail, who knows all about it, thinks
it quite possible." Northbrook replied: "My objections are
uncertainty of getting steamers up at all (we know nothing of the
140 miles beyond Wady Halfa), and necessity of assistance from
natives, which may not be given. Key" (Sir Cooper Key) "is in rather
a delicate position, as he does not like to go against Wolseley,
whose opinion is for the Nile, and the responsibility is with the
'On May 7th there was another Cabinet. It was decided that Nubar
need not be brought to London for the Conference, that a fresh place
in some other unhappy portion of the world must be found for
Clifford Lloyd; [Footnote: A Resident Magistrate who had come
violently into collision with the Nationalists in Ireland, and who
had also proved himself a storm centre in Egypt, as he afterwards
did in Mauritius.] and one was found, and he again fought with the
local authorities as he had fought in Ireland and in Egypt. With
regard to the attitude of France, it was decided that we could not,
so long as we remained in Egypt, put up with a new international
control. It was decided to bring the Turks to Suakim, although this
decision was afterwards reversed. We then wasted much of our time on
the consideration of what should be our attitude on the vote of
censure which was pending in the House. Harcourt had drawn an
amendment for Mr. Gladstone on which they had agreed. Chamberlain
and I had agreed to support a mere negative, and we talked the
'On May 11th Fitzmaurice wrote to me complaining that no definite
instructions had been given him with regard to the conduct of the
Gordon debate' (on the vote of censure), [Footnote: See _Hansard_,
vol. cclxxxviii., 3rd series, debate of May 13th, 1884] 'as was
usual in such important cases, but stating that he expected me to
speak. On the next day, May 12th, I learnt that Hartington had
refused to speak, although he was finally made to do so by Mr.
Gladstone. On Tuesday, May 13th, I made a good speech from 12.10 to
1.10 a.m.--too late for the reporters. "The debate has (I noted in
my diary) been the best I ever heard. Mr. Gladstone was not so good
as usual, while Hartington and I were neither better nor worse than
usual. But Churchill, Forster, Cowen, John Morley, and Beach, all
spoke far above their usual level; and the rest were good. A
memorable debate, which I do not expect to see excelled for interest
and fire, and I am glad to have had the honour to wind it up for the
Liberal party." Afterwards I noted that it "does not read well."
'On May 14th Cabinet again decided that Nubar must not come over for
the Conference; discussed internal affairs of Egypt, then the
Conference again; and then called in Sir Evelyn Baring and discussed
with him the same matters of Clifford Lloyd, Nubar, Conference, the
Turks and the Red Sea ports, what was to be said to Waddington about
the Conference, and the detail of a scheme of Childers upon Egyptian
finance, which was extraordinarily unpopular with the Cabinet.
'On May 17th at noon there was a full Cabinet (Spencer being
present), and a long one. The first matter discussed was the Queen
and Conference, [Footnote: Proposed Conference of the Powers on the
Law of Liquidation.] and a strong objection on the part of Mr.
Gladstone to tell Parliament anything about the Conference.
Chamberlain wrote to me on this: "What a queer twist this objection
of Mr. G. is!" To which I replied: "I really wish he would have gone
to Coombe for this lovely day and let us go on without him. He has
wasted an hour and a half. Mr. G. will fight a whole day in Cabinet
to avoid telling Parliament something, and then after all will tell
them twice as much in reply to Ashmead Bartlett." On this
"Here lies Mr. G., who has left us repining,
While he is, no doubt, still engaged in refining;
And explaining distinctions to Peter and Paul,
Who faintly protest that distinctions so small
Were never submitted to saints to perplex them,
Until the Prime Minister came up to vex them."
[Footnote: These were notes passed during the sitting of the Cabinet. On
Mr. Gladstone's inconvenient habit of giving information at question
time, see Vol. I., pp. 307, 384, 459, 535; and _infra_, p. 118.]
'The Cabinet decided to send a telegram to Gordon through Zebehr, in
order to obtain safe conveyance for it, offering free use of money
among the tribes.
'To Grant Duff I wrote on May 17th: "The Queen is much against our
arrangements with France. If we 'let them out' we spoil them, and if
we don't we shall be condemned for a 'secret negotiation with France
by a moribund Cabinet.' Yet, though we look very wrong, we _are_
'On the 19th it was decided that the Nile was to be patrolled by the
Navy as far as Wady Halfa.'
This was in the direction of the military policy which Sir Charles
favoured, but in which he was not to succeed. His diplomatic proposals
now have to be considered.
'At this time I sent a box round the Cabinet as to the
neutralization of Egypt, Northbrook assenting. In a minute dated May
22nd, Lord Northbrook wrote: "I am disposed to think it would be
wise to propose at once an international guarantee of the neutrality
of Egypt, (1) It would give a substance and solidity to the French
assurances." (To Grant Duff I wrote on the 22nd: "We have got from
France an engagement not to go to Egypt when we come away, and never
at any future time, except by the authority of Europe.") "(2)
Without it I hardly see a chance of escaping from annexation.... All
the circumstances of Egypt ... point to this solution, and ... the
release of Egypt from the Soudan makes the solution possible."
Chamberlain wrote: "I agree entirely with Dilke and Northbrook. (1)
As to the intrinsic importance of such a proposal. If adopted it
secures every essential British interest, and promises relief from
the intolerable burden of a continued occupation. I am strongly in
favour of making the proposal at once. It will give a real guarantee
to the Powers of our good faith and intention to clear out of the
country. (2) I attach great importance to it as forming a definite
policy.... To make Egypt the 'Belgium of the East' is an object
easily popularized. The phrase will carry the proposal." Kimberley
wrote: "I agree with Northbrook and Dilke. The neutralization of
Egypt will be a gain in itself, irrespective altogether of the
question of its internal administration. It would also ... render it
easy to establish a firm domestic Government in so far as it would
put an end to the rivalries ... which exercise a very disturbing
influence on all Egyptian affairs.--K." This minute received the
support of the signatures of the Chancellor, Harcourt, and Childers.
Lord Derby wrote: "I agree so entirely with the views of Lord
Northbrook and Sir Charles Dilke that I need add nothing to what
they have written. There is only one alternative in the long-run;
guaranteed neutrality or annexation.--D., May 23." Carlingford also
agreed, but Hartington strongly dissented; and although Lord
Granville agreed with us, Hartington's dissent was so fierce that he
succeeded in preventing Mr. Gladstone from expressing an opinion,
and the view taken by ten members of the Cabinet remained without
'... On May 24th, the next matter discussed was the neutralization
of Egypt, which Mr. Gladstone decided, in face of Hartington's
minute, was "not to be immediately proposed."' [Footnote: The offer
of neutralization was, however, made. See _infra_, Chapter XXXVIII.,
pp. 94, 97.]
'We then returned to our old business of Waddington and the
Conference. Mr. Gladstone next complained that he had been
catechized in the House of Commons on Monday, May 19th, as to
whether he "told most lies on Monday or on Thursday." We then
discussed the desirability of making a statement in the House as to
the number of years that our troops would remain in Egypt;
Northbrook and Hartington suggesting either five years or three
years from January, 1885, and Carlingford suggesting one year, in
which he was supported by the Prime Minister and myself; but three
years prevailed. Next came Morocco; and then a Gordon
expedition--Mr. Gladstone speaking strongly against it.
'On May 27th there was a Cabinet before the Whitsuntide recess. It
was decided what statement was to be made to Parliament about the
Conference. Lord Granville had told Waddington that we should not
stay more than five years in Egypt at the outside, and Hartington,
who himself had been willing to limit our stay to three years, now
fought violently against a limitation even to five. Chamberlain
wrote to me: "As usual--the question having been twice settled,
Hartington, in a minority of one, raises the whole question again.
It is direct, unmitigated, and unconcealed obstruction." We then
discussed the expedition to Khartoum and the making of a Suakim-
Berber railway, but it was decided that orders were not yet to be
given. On the next day Mr. Gladstone, who had gone to Hawarden,
'"My Dear Northbrook,
'"I have received and read this morning Sir Cooper Key's very
interesting paper on an expedition to Khartoum. I write, however, to
suggest that it would be a great advantage if two suggestions it
contains were to be fully examined and developed. (1) The _small_
river expedition which he thinks practicable. (2) The small desert
expedition from Korosko to which he also adverts as an auxiliary
method.... Clear as is the case for the railway from Suakim, as
against the large expedition by the Nile, in every other view it is
attended with the most formidable difficulties of a moral and
political kind ... whether the 'turning of the first sod' of a
Soudan railway will not be the substitution for an Egyptian
domination there, of an English domination ... more unnatural, more
costly, more destructive, and altogether without foundation in
public right. It would be an immense advantage that the expedition
(should one be needed) should be one occupying little time, and
_leaving no trace behind it_.
'"W. E. Gladstone."
'Of this letter a copy was made by Edward Hamilton, and enclosed to
me with an autograph letter from Mr. Gladstone.
'On May 31st I had received a further letter from Mr. Gladstone
about the Soudan expedition, in which he said: "Suakim and Berber
route has utterly beaten Nile route for a large expedition.... But
the question of a small expedition has hardly yet been touched,
while some believe Gordon is or will be free, and there need be no
expedition at all." I sent this letter to Lord Northbrook, and to
Lord Hartington, pointing out that Colonel Sartorius had written a
letter to the papers in favour of an expedition of a thousand picked
men armed with repeating rifles; and after receiving replies, I
wrote to Mr. Gladstone on June 4th that I had not had much
encouragement from Hartington and Northbrook, the fact being that
Hartington was determined on giving Wolseley his big job. [Footnote:
See _Life of Granville_, vol. ii., p. 395.]
'On June 6th Lord Granville called a meeting to ask us whether,
Waddington having now agreed to all our demands, we could devise
some plan of getting out of them. He said that for his own part he
should not have asked the question, but that Hartington had
suggested it.... He said: "I must rather complain of Hartington's
conduct--from so intimate a friend. If it had been Dodson I should
have been very angry." After such an introduction, the meeting could
hardly come to a conclusion favourable to Hartington's views.
'On June 9th Sir Henry Ponsonby came to see me before the Cabinet,
wishing to talk to me before he spoke to any other member, as the
Queen thought that I was the most in agreement with her views, which
was not the case, as regarded evacuation. He discussed with me two
points: First the term of years, as to which I explained that, under
the agreement, if at the end of three and a half years any one Power
thought we had better stay, and we ourselves wished to stay, then we
could stay. It was not my wish that we should. Secondly, as to the
union of Bulgaria and East Roumelia, about which I did not care, and
as to which I suggested that the Queen should propose to Lord
Granville to take counsel with Austria. [Footnote: The union took
place in 1885.] At the Cabinet which followed we discussed the words
of our promise to lay our French agreements before Parliament, and
also our answer as to the Turks and Suakim. The French having
written us a disagreeable despatch, we agreed that they must be made
to take it back.
'On the next day, June 10th, there was a Cabinet to begin the
railway from Suakim. and to consider the draft despatch to
Waddington, and as the Government at this time was not very strong,
it was decided to leave for our successors a Cabinet minute upon the
subject of our relations at this time with France. After the Cabinet
I had to see Mr. Gladstone from Lord Granville upon the question
whether we should insist on a casting vote on the Caisse. Mr.
Gladstone, against the unanimous opinion of the Cabinet, replied:
"No, not to the point of breaking off."'
On June 12th Sir Charles made two notes in his Diary of that date:
'I think that if Mr. Gladstone was to stay in, and live on, we
should come as regards Egypt to evacuation and neutralization. Under
the Tories, or under Hartington, the _status quo_ may be tried for a
'When Bismarck offered Egypt to Dizzy, it was in order to embroil
England with France.'
From this point onwards in the Memoir the focus of the Egyptian question
changes; attention is centred on the diplomatic questions arising out of
the financial problem.
As between England and France the issue concerned itself with the
proposal to pay less than the promised interest on previously existing
loans. The French view, expressed through M. Barrere, the French agent
in Egypt, was that interest need not be reduced; the alternative view
was that the bondholders must make a sacrifice of part of their
interest, at any rate for some period of years, in return for the better
security they were obtaining.
'On July 3rd Barrere called and explained to me a scheme of his on
Egyptian finance, in which he was now highly skilled, having been
French Agent in Egypt for some time. I put the matter before Lord
Granville, who sent it to Mr. Gladstone and Childers. Barrere argued
that it was not necessary to reduce interest, or, to use the slang
of the moment, to "cut the coupon." We called a meeting of the
Commons Ministers, and Chamberlain announced that he should resign
if the coupon were not cut.
'July 18th, 1884.--We had virtually decided on declaring Egypt
bankrupt in order to force the hands of the French, but Waddington,
at a meeting with Childers, had broached a plan, which had
originally been suggested by the Germans, for a temporary reduction
of interest, to be reconsidered at the end of a certain number of
years.' (These proposals were discussed at the Conference, which met
in the latter half of July, held seven sittings, and then broke down
without arriving at a conclusion on August 1st.) 'The question now
raised was--at the end of what number of years? The French said
three, and we decided to propose ten; but with a willingness to take
six or even five; we advancing 4 1/2 millions instead of 8, or, in
other words, leaving out the indemnities due by Egypt. If this
arrangement failed, then we were to fall back on bankruptcy.
Harcourt was much against declaring bankruptcy, and in favour of the
policy of "scuttle." Hartington was against bankruptcy, and for
paying the differences ourselves; so as to force us into annexation.
Spencer, Childers, Chamberlain, and I, were for bankruptcy or for a
strong threat of bankruptcy.
'On July 21st there was a meeting of members of the Cabinet after
questions, at which Mr. Gladstone, Lord Granville, Hartington,
Harcourt, Childers, and I, were present. The French had backed out
of their proposals, and we considered a new scheme of Childers's to
put all administrative charges in Egypt before interest of debt, a
scheme which it was certain that the French would refuse. Harcourt
was again violent against bankruptcy, which he announced he thought
grossly "illegal," as if there were such a thing as illegality in
'On August 2nd there was a full Cabinet, every member being present,
and we had to consider whether, the Conference having broken down,
Baring should go back to Egypt or remain at the Foreign Office and
continue to advise us. Lord Granville proposed that he should
remain, and that Malet should go to Egypt. Chamberlain proposed that
Goschen should go. Childers proposed J. K. Cross. [Footnote:
Under-Secretary for India.] Dufferin was mentioned; then Lord
Granville proposed Northbrook. All other names were immediately
withdrawn, and Northbrook took time to consider, but evidently meant
to go, and decided, I think, in the course of the same evening.
Baring was then called in, and we once more began to chop straw by
considering the "ulterior consequences" of the collapse of the
Conference--i.e., bankruptcy. Lastly, Gordon was dealt with, and
it was decided that a supplementary estimate should be proposed,
with the understanding that we should spend more if it was wanted. I
wrote to Chamberlain: "We always have two subjects--(a) Conference,
(b) Gordon." And he wrote back: "The first always taking up two or
three hours; and the second five minutes at the fag end of
'On August 3rd I noted "we are going to send Northbrook to Egypt to
put down Barrere."
'On August 5th we considered the instructions to Northbrook, or
rather whether he should have any at all, and if so, what they
should be. Northbrook read us a scheme which he had written, which
attempted to conciliate Turkey and Italy, so as to have great naval
strength in the Mediterranean and to prevent all chance of a sudden
occupation of Egypt by France. We were to express our continued
determination not to annex. We were to stay five years at the
request of the Sultan. We were again to propose to the Powers those
arrangements with regard to the Canal which we had proposed already.
We were to pay the indemnities in stock; and the next coupon in
full; and we were to promise for the future not less than 4 per
cent, on privileged stocks, and not less than 3 per cent, on the
Unified debt, while we were in Egypt. Indian troops were to hold
Massowah. Harcourt, in reply, read a written counter-statement,
again proposing to "scuttle," and again threatening us that we
should have war with France. Hartington again spoke for a guarantee
by us of the whole Egyptian debt. After Hartington's observations
the discussion was, as usual, adjourned. Chamberlain and I decided
that we would ask for our old term of three and a half years'
occupation, as against Northbrook's five. Next came Gordon, and
Hartington proposed that we should embody some militia.
'On August 6th there was another Cabinet, and the first question was
that of Northbrook's scheme. Lord Granville agreed to a temporary
use of Turkish troops provided that they were to leave Egypt when we
left. Chamberlain would not agree, and wished to stick to
Northbrook's phrase only inviting "co-operation." This view
prevailed, and it was decided that if the Turks proposed to send a
commissioner, we were to refuse. But the question of troops was
really left open for more discussion. Next came the question of an
advance of nearly a million which had been made by Rothschild to
Egypt, and we asked him, as a favour to ourselves, to let it run,
which was all he wanted us to do. Northbrook, who is not strong, had
been a good deal fatigued with the discussion on his scheme, and
instead of sleeping (his usual practice at a Cabinet) on this
occasion fainted, and we had to get up and look after him at this
'On August 26th I received a letter from Hartington, saying that
Northbrook was going to Osborne at the end of the week, and starting
for Egypt from there. Hartington told me he was coming up to meet
him, and he afterwards wrote to me to fix an appointment at the War
Office on the 29th. This I kept. Northbrook was deplorably weak. He
had returned from Rosebery's completely under the influence of Mr.
Gladstone's pro-French views. [Footnote: At Dalmeny Lord Northbrook
"met Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone." See Life of Lord Northbrook, p. 190.]
He had settled to spend a day at Walmer, and had telegraphed to Lord
Lyons to meet him there. His plan now was to ask the French
Government to send a man to Egypt in order that he and the Frenchman
might settle matters together. Hartington and I pointed out to him
that the Frenchman's instructions from his Government must either be
to refuse all reduction of interest, or to consent to it upon
obtaining from us a better political position than that given to
France by the Anglo-French agreement. We explained to him that it
would be impossible for us to tolerate such proposals. I wrote to
Chamberlain a full account of the interview.
'September 22nd_.--We decided with reference to Egyptian finance
that Chamberlain should write a strong letter to Lord Granville
protesting against any British advance to Egypt, unless accompanied
by a cutting of the coupon. He did so, and on September 25th sent me
a copy, and I sent the copy to Childers, and wrote myself to Lord
Granville. On the 27th I received a memorandum from Chamberlain as
to Lord Granville, Lord Derby, and Bismarck.
'Chamberlain's memorandum was a fierce denunciation of the
principles laid down in Northbrook's despatch No. 4, dated September
13th, and received September 22nd.' [Footnote: Lord Northbrook had
arrived in Egypt.]
Controversy now raged over Lord Northbrook's scheme, and added to the
difficulties of the Cabinet, which was divided on the question of
lowering or not lowering the rate of interest.
'On 19th November the second matter mentioned was Northbrook's
scheme, against which I fought hard.... I pointed out that early in
April, when Mr. Gladstone had wished to borrow on the future value
of the Canal shares, that proposal had not been accepted, and we
laid down the principle that it was for the bondholders to make
sacrifices. On July 3rd we had decided that the coupon must be
"cut." On July 18th the whole Cabinet had taken the same view except
Harcourt and the Chancellor, and four members--Childers, Spencer,
Chamberlain, and I--had advocated distinct bankruptcy. On August 2nd
we had seen Baring to lay our plans for bankruptcy. On August 5th
Northbrook himself had proposed a reduction of the interest. On
August 29th there had been a general agreement to the same effect.
Northbrook's policy had enormously sent up Egyptian stocks. After my
strong observations the opinions stood: Mr. Gladstone, Childers,
Chamberlain, Harcourt, Trevelyan, and Dilke against Northbrook's
scheme; for it, Lord Granville, the Chancellor, Hartington, Spencer,
Kimberley, Derby, Carlingford, and Northbrook himself. All the Lords
on one side, curiously enough, and all the Sirs and Mr.'s on the
other; eight to six against us. But I noted: "Mr. Gladstone is so
strong that we shall win." "As we did."' [Footnote: Letter from Sir
Charles to Mr. Brett (afterwards Lord Esher):
Local Government Board,
_November_ 19_th_, 1884.
'_My_ policy has always been bankruptcy and stand the shot, and if
we had stuck to that we should have had no trouble with the Powers;
but indiscretions have made that difficult. It is not pleasant to be
called in too late. I quite agree in your general view, but how can
the bondholder be got to make sacrifices without his consent?']
'At the meeting of the Cabinet of December 2nd, Egyptian finance
again came up. We were informed that Prince Bismarck suggested oral
communications among ambassadors. For this Malet proposed Paris, and
we replied Berlin.'
During this time the Government continued to waver as to the Soudan
On June 21st
'with regard to Gordon it was decided to wait ten days before
settling anything, and to see whether we heard from him in reply to
the silly questions which had been asked.'
On June 27th came the definitive news that Berber had fallen on May
26th. On July 5th
'We discussed the Egyptian army of the future, and then the question
of whether we should send an expedition to Khartoum, as to which we
again could come to no decision; Mr. Gladstone still opposing.'
Dilke, backed by Chamberlain, was still pressing the military solution
which he favoured. On July 16th
'Hartington on this occasion gave up the Berber-Suakim route, and
pressed for a decision as to an immediate expedition by the Nile. He
was supported by the Chancellor, Northbrook, Carlingford, and
Dodson. Mr. Gladstone, Harcourt, and Childers opposed.
'Chamberlain and I opposed a large expedition by the Nile, and
supported a small expedition, under the control of the navy, with a
body of picked men. Baring was called in about the police in Egypt,
and his views in support of Nubar were approved. Nubar was to have
his own way in the appointment of Inspectors of Police in Egypt.'
'On July 22nd we found that Mr. Gladstone had again taken up Zebehr,
and was anxious to send him to Khartoum in order to avoid a British
'On July 25th there was a full Cabinet, Spencer being present, which
first discussed the Conference and then the Gordon expedition, for
which for the first time a large majority of the Cabinet pronounced.
The issue was narrowed down to that of sending some sort of British
force to or towards Dongola; and this was supported by Hartington,
the Chancellor, Derby, Northbrook, Spencer, Carlingford, Dodson,
Chamberlain, and me, while on the other side were only Mr.
Gladstone, Harcourt, and Kimberley. Lord Granville said nothing. By
the stoutness of their resistance the three for the moment prevailed
over the nine.
'On July 31st a storm was brewing about Gordon, and Harcourt went
about declaring that the Government would break up upon the
question. On the next day, August 1st, a way out of the difficulty
was found in an agreement that we should ask for a small vote of
credit, which we were to use or not as should be thought right
It must be remembered that communications with Gordon were now
interrupted, though occasionally renewed, and this added to the
'On September 17th we received a telegram from Gordon which looked
as though he were perfectly mad, although some of the other
telegrams from him sent at the same time were sane enough.'
Since Parliament had risen and the Cabinet scattered, preparations had
been going on apace.
'When Hartington came to me on September 15th he told me that he had
already spent "L750,000 out of the L300,000" for the Gordon
expedition.' [Footnote: 'On August 9th Lord Hartington again asked
us for permission to embody militia or call out a portion of the
First-Class Army Reserve.']
'On October 4th Chamberlain had written strongly against Wolseley's
great expedition, Harcourt was still opposing the whole thing. After
this meeting of the Cabinet Northbrook wrote to Gordon a long letter
based on the Cabinet decision. He stated that the expedition under
Wolseley was not sent for the purpose of defeating the Mahdi, but
only of enabling the Egyptian garrison of Khartoum, the civil
employees and their families, with Gordon, to return to Egypt. He
offered the Grand Cross of the Bath' (to Gordon) 'as from the Queen
personally. He explained our refusal of Zebehr, and he suggested the
placing at Khartoum of the Mudir of Dongola. It was easy, however,
to write to Gordon, but it was not easy to get the letters to him;
and we had to attempt even to send them by Tripoli and the desert.'
[Footnote: As to the last communications with Gordon, see _Life of
Granville_, vol. ii., pp. 397-399. Besides the authorities already
quoted, the Parliamentary Papers Nos. 2, 6, 12, 13, and 25, for
1884, may be referred to.]
That is the last detailed reference to Gordon in the Memoir until
February 5th, 1885, when the news of the fall of Khartoum reached
London. The matter had passed out of the hands of the Cabinet into those
of the soldiers.
This comment in the Diary may fitly end this chapter:
'On February 20th I noted (conversation, I think, not printed), Lord
Acton says of Gladstone: "Cannot make up my mind whether he is not
wholly unconscious when working himself up to a change of position.
After watching him do it, I think that he is so. He lives completely
in what for the moment he chooses to believe."'
FRANCHISE AND REDISTRIBUTION
JULY TO DECEMBER, 1884.
In the summer of 1884 the Government Bill for extension of the franchise
had strong and even passionate support throughout the country; but that
policy threatened a breach with Lord Hartington, who in the opinion of
many was by prescriptive right Mr. Gladstone's successor. Still more
entangling were the difficulties in respect of Egypt, over which the
Government was so hopelessly divided that no coherent policy could be
pursued. Sir Charles notes that on July 18th Mr. Gladstone,
'who had the greatest abhorrence for City dinners, proposed the
extinction of the Lord Mayor's ministerial banquet; the fact being
that the Government of London Bill and the failure to send an
expedition to Khartoum had made the Ministry so unpopular in the
City that he did not think it wise to subject himself to the torture
which such banquets are to him.'
'The Tory game,' Sir Charles wrote on May 24th, 1884, to his agent,
'is to delay the franchise until they have upset us upon Egypt,
before the Franchise Bill has reached the Lords.' [Footnote: This
letter is also quoted in Chapter XXXIV.]
When the Franchise Bill went up to the Lords in the first week of July,
it was rejected for a reasoned amendment which declined to alter the
franchise except as part of a scheme dealing with redistribution of
'On July 5th there was a Cabinet to consider what was called the
crisis--our relations with the House of Lords over the franchise,
and Spencer was present.... The question to be considered was that
of dissolution or an autumn Session. Lord Granville, Hartington, and
Lord Derby were for an immediate dissolution on the old franchise,
which was at once negatived.'
'On June 21st there was mentioned the attitude of the House of
Lords. Lord Granville said something in favour of life peerages. I
asked Chamberlain whether he thought that it was seriously meant,
and writing passed between us in which he replied: "Serious, I
think"; to which I answered: "You won't have it, will you?" Answer:
'On July 7th Mr. Gladstone explained to me his plan for dealing with
the House of Lords, which was not so objectionable to me as the
schemes known as "Reform of the House of Lords." It was to imitate
the French constitution, and in cases of difference to make the two
Houses sit in Congress and vote together. From the practical point
of view it would be as difficult to carry as the abolition of the
House of Lords, and if carried would not be of much use to the
Liberal party except on occasions when their majority was absolutely
'On July 8th offers of compromise came to us from the Lords, but
they would not offer terms which we could accept. We decided to
propose to them a solemn resolution by both Houses pledging us to
redistribution. This they refused.'
The extent of real agreement which existed between the two sides had not
yet been divined; and it was Sir Charles who set on foot the work which
finally averted conflict.
'Early in July I began to take time by the forelock by preparing,
without instructions from the Cabinet, a Redistribution scheme; and
the first memoranda drawn up by Sir John Lambert for my use were
written in that month, although it was not till after Parliament had
separated for the recess that we got seriously to work. In the
evening of July 14th Mr. Gladstone broached to me his views on
Redistribution, and we practically hatched the Bill.'
Party feeling ran high, and the Queen intervened.
'On July 9th in the morning Sir Henry Ponsonby came up to see the
Duke of Richmond and some of us, and tried to settle the deadlock,
but failed.... The Cabinet decided that Chamberlain must not take
the chair at a meeting at the Agricultural Hall to denounce the
House of Lords.'
Liberals in general were, however, speaking out, and at a Cabinet a week
later they had 'some fun with Hartington concerning his Lancashire
meetings, with strong resolutions directed against the House of Lords
for doing that which he privately approved.' Also, there was a
tremendous demonstration in the Metropolis.
'On July 21st I saw the Franchise Demonstration on this day from the
Speaker's window, the procession passing from three till six.'
'After the Cabinet on August 5th we congratulated Chamberlain upon
his Birmingham franchise meeting, and he told us that Birmingham was
"thirsting for the blood of the Lords"--saying to Bright: "You are
too lenient with them. We won't stand them any longer." I told him
that as the _Times_ had said that he was too violent, I had no doubt
the Queen would say so also, to which he replied: "Probably, and if
she does I shall most likely ... deny her right to criticise my
speeches, although she may, if she likes, dismiss me, in which case
I will lead an agitation against the Lords in the country." I
answered: "Yes, but you cannot go alone in such a case, and
therefore should not appear to contemplate doing so." He replied: "I
am not going, but perhaps she can dismiss me. What then? I am not
going to tie my tongue." I retorted: "In that case it would surely
be even more essential than usual that I should go too." He closed
the matter by saying: "If it really arose out of the agitation
against the Lords and the interference of the Crown with the liberty
of speech of ministers, I do not see how a Radical could stay in.
Remember, I have observed Mr. Gladstone's limits. I have said
nothing about the future; only denounced past action."'
Mr. Chamberlain's outside agitation coincided with Sir Charles's work
towards a peaceful solution. On August 9th
'A Committee of the Cabinet was appointed to deal with
Redistribution--to consist of Hartington, Kimberley, Childers,
Chamberlain, and me, with the addition of Lefevre. They forgot
James, who was anxious to be on it, [Footnote: Sir Charles wrote to
Sir Henry James on the matter, and received a reply admitting that
he had been "slightly touched" by the omission of his name, but
saying that he would still give his services.] but I soon got rid of
the Committee and went on by myself with Lambert.'
Parliament was prorogued on August 14th, but very soon compromise was in
'On August 21st and 22nd I had interviews with Hartington at his
wish, nominally to talk over the sending of Wolseley to Egypt, but
really to see what I thought of a compromise with the Lords on the
basis of Lord Cowper's letter in the _Times_--introduction of the
Redistribution Bill in October.'
The situation was profoundly modified by speeches from Lord Salisbury,
which made it clear that the plan "hatched" between Mr. Gladstone and
Sir Charles was not likely to have any terrors for him. Lord Kimberley
wrote in September:
'Now that Salisbury is going in for electoral districts, it will
become a sort of open competition which party can go furthest. I
should not be surprised if he were to trump us by proposing to
abolish the House of Lords.'
'I had now decided to agree with Lord Salisbury in advance, and
divide the counties into single-member districts if Mr. Gladstone
would let me; and Trevelyan, to whom I had broached my scheme,
wrote: "I very much approve of the scheme of dividing counties. I
hope to goodness you will be able to carry it out."'
The original draft, completed on September 18th, followed the lines laid
down in consultation with Mr. Gladstone. The object of obtaining fair
representation, and doing away with over-representation of vested
interests, was thus attacked and began with two great industrial
The scheme for England treated Lancashire and Yorkshire as urban
throughout, and divided them into single-member districts; but the
remaining 'rural' counties of England were divided into two-member
districts. Thus, 'the net increase of county members was 53.' Boroughs
which had less than 10,000 inhabitants (53 in all) were merged into the
counties; those with a population of between 10,000 and under 40,000,
which had two members, lost one. Thus, having added to the under-
represented, Sir Charles took from the over-represented, and adds: 'this
gave us 33 more seats.' Sir Charles in a secret memorandum added that he
thought the fixing of so low a limit as 10,000 showed 'an altogether
indefensible tenderness to vested interests.' 'I should carry the loss
of one member far higher than the 40,000 line adopted, and should take
away one member up to the point at which I began to give two' to a new
constituency. Dilke was in favour of carrying merger of small boroughs
to a greater extent than was adopted in the Act.
'Summing up, on our English borough scheme,' he said, 'I am struck
by its _extreme_ timidity. I do not see how it is to stand the
revolutionary criticism of Lord Salisbury.' 'My plan for the
Metropolis gave to it its legitimate proportion of members: 55 in
all.... These figures should be compared with 22--the previous
As to Ireland, he admitted that 'if you take its population as a whole
it was over-represented in our plan; yet the difference in favour of
Ireland is very small; moreover, Wales is vastly better treated than
Ireland.' Lord Spencer 'thought there would be a howl from Belfast,' and
wished for the representation of minorities. 'But the Irish Government
made no practical proposal,' and the whole of this intricate business
was left almost entirely to Sir Charles.
'On September 29th Mr. Gladstone wrote at length conveying his
general approval of my plan, and stating that he did not intend to
"handle" the Bill in the House of Commons; and so wished to defer to
the opinions of his colleagues. He gave me leave to add 12 members
to the House for Scotland, instead of taking the 12 from England;
and he congratulated me upon the "wonderful progress" which I had
made.... On the same day on which I had received Mr. Gladstone's
letter I saw one from Sir Henry Ponsonby to Mr. Gladstone with Mr.
Gladstone's reply. Sir Henry Ponsonby made proposals.... Mr.
Gladstone had refused both for the present; the former with scorn
and the latter with argument. [Footnote: The first was "that the
Lords should read the Franchise Bill a second time, and then pass a
resolution declaring that they would go into Committee as soon as
the Redistribution Bill reached them."]
'On September 30th further letters were circulated, one from Sir
Henry Ponsonby on the 27th, in which he said that the reform of the
House of Lords must in any case come, but must come later, and that
he would see the leaders of the Opposition about the second
suggestion of his previous letter as it had not been absolutely
refused (the suggestion being that the Lords should provide in the
Franchise Bill that it should come into force on January 1st, 1886,
unless the Redistribution Bill were sooner passed).
'On October 4th Hartington made a speech which produced a storm upon
this subject of Compromise as to Reform.' (He proposed that the
Lords should pass the Franchise Bill 'after seeing the conditions of
the Redistribution Bill and satisfying themselves that they were
fair.') 'But Mr. Gladstone went with Chamberlain and myself against
Mr. Chamberlain put the point that no bargain could be considered unless
the Franchise Bill were first passed without conditions very plainly in
a speech on October 7th, and next day at the Cabinet
'Mr. Gladstone expressed his approval of Chamberlain's speech of the
previous night, and attacked Hartington for his earlier one. It
seemed to me that at this moment Lord Salisbury might have caught
Hartington by offering the compromise which Hartington had
suggested.... I refused to discuss Redistribution with the Cabinet,
telling Chamberlain that they would "drive me wild with little
The appreciation of Sir Charles's competence was general. It was not
limited to Parliament, and he met the expression of it when he appeared
on the platform in three great centres of the Lancashire industrial
'On Tuesday, October 14th, I spoke at Oldham, and on October 15th at
the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, and on the 16th at Stockport. I had
a wonderful reception at all these meetings, but especially at the
Sir Charles's personal record served the party well, for the Tory cry
was that the Liberals wished to preserve the inequalities of the
existing divisions. To this he answered by appealing to the projects
which he had introduced year after year, and recalling their reception
from the Tory Government:
'I have preached for redistribution in the desert, I have advocated
it unceasingly for years, I have been a bore upon it in Parliament
and out; even the franchise is no less important in my eyes as being
that which I have a dozen times called "the necessary first step to
a complete redistribution" than in and for itself. Redistribution
is, however, if possible, of even more tremendous difficulty than
importance. It offers a greater hold than any other subject to the
arts of blocking and delay.' [Footnote: October 14th, at Oldham.]
'On October 17th Spencer reported from Balmoral that the Queen was
much pleased with her "Speech"; but not so with other people's
speeches, being angry at the violence of the language used.'
Lord Salisbury had declared that if Birmingham was going to march on
London, he hoped Mr. Chamberlain would head the procession and get his
head broken for his pains. Mr. Chamberlain retorted that he would gladly
head the procession if Lord Salisbury would promise to come and meet it,
and then, if his own head were broken, 'it should be broken in very good
company.' On October 21st
'I was sent for by Mr. Gladstone about Chamberlain's speech, and
wrote to Chamberlain to ask him if he could tone it down a
little.... On October 22nd at the Cabinet Chamberlain told me that
he was willing to adopt the words of my letter in explanation of his
He agreed to write for publication a letter to one of his Quaker
constituents; but it was judged insufficient.
'On October 28th Mr. Gladstone wrote to me: "I thought you and I
were perfectly agreed about the unfortunate expressions in
Chamberlain's speech ... and in the expectation that his letter ...
would fully meet the case. I own that in my opinion it did not come
up to the mark. All I had really wished was a note conceived in the
same spirit as that in which he withdrew the 'jackal' because it
gave offence. Can nothing more be done? You saw a recent letter of
mine in defence, written when I thought the objections taken not to
be just. I am precluded from writing any such letter with the facts
as they now stand, but I hope that you may be able to bring them to
the standard of our reasonable expectations." I sent this letter to
Chamberlain, as was intended, with a note from me to say that it was
clear that the Queen had written Mr. Gladstone a second letter about
the matter, and asked whether I should say that I thought
Chamberlain's letter met the case; and Chamberlain replied: "Yes. I
cannot and _will not_ do more." This I communicated to Mr.
Gladstone. Randolph Churchill had taken the matter up. He accused
Chamberlain of having advocated violence, and was loudly
threatening, even to me, that there should be "somebody killed at
Birmingham next time." Chamberlain told me that Randolph had tried
to get up a march against Highbury on the part of the Birmingham
Tory roughs; but they were still on speaking terms, and often
chatting together at the smoking-room at the House. On the same day,
the 28th, late in the evening Mr. Gladstone sent for me about the
Chamberlain matter, and said of the Queen: "She not only attacks him
but me through him, and says I pay a great deal too much attention
to him." When Chamberlain and I went home, as we almost always did,
together in one cab, he broke out, evidently much worried and
excited, against Mr. Gladstone.
'Next day I warned Mr. Gladstone that it would not take much to make
a serious row.'
On October 15th Sir Charles wrote to Sir M. Grant Duff that he expected
'they would sit till February, and send the Bill up a third time.' On
October 24th Mr. Gladstone was inclined to resign at the second
rejection, which was taken for a certainty. But as to the final issue,
it was becoming daily clearer that the Commons were going to win against
the Lords. Even in the home counties Liberalism had become aggressive.
'October 24th.--Franchise and Redistribution seemed well in view
when I discovered on this day that Nathaniel Rothschild, who had
lately looked on Buckinghamshire as his own, was now down on his
knees to Carrington about it.' Work now began on the details of the
'On October 25th there was a full meeting of my Committee of the
Cabinet on Redistribution. I took the chair, and Hartington,
Kimberley, Childers, Chamberlain, James, and Lefevre, sat round the
table. I got my own way in everything, and succeeded in raising the
10,000 limit of merger to 15,000. Mr. Gladstone, who disliked the
change, and who was the strongest Conservative living upon the
subject, yielded to it on the same night by letter.'
Sir Charles now threw himself into getting as big a measure as possible
by a 'truce of God' between the parties.
'On October 29th Mr. Gladstone told me that Lord Carnarvon had
proposed to him that they should meet in order to come to some
conclusion about Redistribution. He had declined, but had tried,
through Sir Erskine May, to induce the Tories to appoint a Committee
of their own to draw up a scheme. I saw Sir Erskine May and told him
to tell Northcote that I would accept, and press the acceptance of,
any scheme not obviously unfair, and not containing minority
representation, which I should be unable to carry.'
'On October 31st there was a Cabinet which was Trevelyan's first,
and very glad he and his wife were to escape from Ireland,
[Footnote: The Chief Secretaryship was offered to Mr. Shaw Lefevre,
who refused on the same ground as had previously been taken by Sir
Charles. Without Cabinet rank he was not prepared to accept it. Sir
Henry Campbell-Bannerman was then appointed. Mr. Lefevre entered the
Cabinet as Postmaster-General after the death of Mr. Fawcett, which
occurred on November 6th, 1884.] which had aged him dreadfully....
On the question of Reform Hartington told us that he had had several
interviews with Sir Michael Beach, who had expressly stated that he
was not authorized by his party to make suggestions, but had
proposed total merger up to 25,000, and loss of the second seat up
to 80,000. I, to clinch the matter, at once volunteered to draw up a
scheme on this basis.'
'James called my attention to some communications in the
Conservative newspapers, stating that he had it on very high
authority (which with James always meant Randolph Churchill) that
the extremely large schemes hinted at were Lord Salisbury's, and
would be supported by the whole Conservative party; but these
schemes suggested minority-representation in urban districts, with
single-member constituencies in counties; or, as Chamberlain said,
"Tory minority represented in towns, and Liberal minority
extinguished in county." Lord Salisbury, however, was only keeping
his friends in good humour with minority-representation. In the
evening Randolph Churchill sent me a message that he wished to have
a conference with me about Redistribution, and by an arrangement
made through Sir Erskine May, we met in the Office of the Serjeant-
at-Arms. He then told me that Beach's scheme was his, and that he
was convinced that an agreement might be come to on those lines. I
assured him of my warm support for a large scheme. I think this was
the occasion (about this time) when Randolph, who was thinking of
going to India, vented his anger as to Salisbury. Winston Churchill
told me in March, 1901, that his father had come to terms with
Salisbury as to the future Tory Government before he started for
India. I told him this could not be, as the possibility of forming
one depended on the Irish, and that Lord Salisbury could not at this
early date have agreed to buy them by the promises of (1) Enquiry
into Spencer's police, (2) no Coercion, (3) a Viceroy personally
favourable to Home Rule.
'In the evening I dined with the Duchess of Manchester to meet the
Dufferins, on which occasion Dufferin shone, but his health and
spirits were now beginning to decline. Hartington was at the dinner,
and told me that he had had a fresh interview with Beach, this time
at his (Hartington's) request.
'On Saturday, November 1st, I had some correspondence with
Hartington about these interviews, of which I warmly approved; and
on the 3rd Hartington wrote to me that he was going to see Beach
again that day, and I placed all my scheme before him for
communication to the Conservative front bench.'
Publicly there was war.
'On November 4th was the laying of the foundation-stone of the
National Liberal Club, at which Harcourt, after saying that he was a
moderate politician, compared the House of Lords to Sodom and
'on this day Hartington again saw Beach, and afterwards
Churchill.... Beach said that Lord Salisbury unreservedly accepted
the Queen's suggestion for a meeting of the leaders.... Conferences
went on, but all through the month Beach declined to take a
"representative character, or negotiate in such a way as would
commit his party"--to use Hartington's words. Hartington now thought
"Mr. Gladstone would be able either to come to terms with Lord
Salisbury or to put him completely in the wrong." Hartington added:
"Beach very much regrets the Lowther and John Manners speeches,"'
and probably Lord Hartington expressed regret for Sir William Harcourt's
references to Sodom and Gomorrah.
'On the 6th there was a meeting of my Committee on Redistribution to
consider Beach's proposals, at which I took the chair, but did
little else, and left all the talking to the others, and their view
came to this--that they were quite willing to agree to the Tory
revolutionary scheme, provided the Tories would take the odium with
the House of Commons of proposing it.'
'On November 7th the Cabinet decided that I should be joined to
Hartington as recognized plenipotentiary.'
On the 10th
'I proposed and Mr. Gladstone agreed to write to Lord Salisbury
"distinctly accepting the Queen's offers." On November 11th we
confirmed our decisions at the last Cabinet as to completely taking
away from Lord Salisbury the power of saying that he had accepted
and we declined the Queen's proposals, by unreservedly supporting
Mr. Gladstone's letter to the Queen.'
On November 15th Mr. Gladstone informed the Cabinet that the Lords were
'Northcote had taken tea with him on the previous evening. The Lords
would not part with the Franchise Bill till the Redistribution Bill
was in their House. As regarded Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford
Northcote, Mr. Gladstone considered the door absolutely closed, but
he was informed that the Duke of Richmond and Lord Cairns did not
agree with the leaders. We then drew up a statement to be made on
Monday, November 17th, in both Houses of Parliament as to the steps
we had taken to produce conciliation, Harcourt saying: "This is the
apple-woman spitting on her old apples and shining 'em up!"--the
fact being that it was only done to put the Lords in the wrong.'
'On Monday, November 17th, when I returned from Sandringham, I had
to see Lord Rowton, who had been sent to me by the Prince of Wales
to try and produce a settlement of the Redistribution difficulty,
but we only sat and smiled at one another; he saying that he had
come because he had been told to come, and I saying that I had
nothing new to tell him, for Lord Salisbury knew all we had to say.'
'On November 19th there was a Cabinet. The first matter mentioned
was the arrangement with the Conservatives for an interview, and at
four o'clock on this day, November 19th, occurred the first meeting
of the parties: an interview between Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford
Northcote on the one side, and Mr. Gladstone and Lord Granville on
the other. Lord Salisbury had written to me about it already, and
had privately seen my papers the previous day at the Commission, and
had asked me a great number of questions, and I had given him my
division of the Metropolis and of Lancashire at his wish, and
received from him the following note: "I do not know whether it will
be possible to discuss the application of the one-member principle
to the Counties and the Metropolitan Constituencies and the suburbs
of the larger towns." The hesitating way in which he asked shows
that we might have avoided the single-members had we fought upon the
point. But, as I liked them myself, I fought the other way, against
Mr. Gladstone. At the interview between the leaders of the two
parties and the two Houses it was merely decided that the real
interview should take place on Saturday, November 22nd, at noon
between the two Conservative chiefs and Mr. Gladstone, Lord
Hartington, and me, Lord Granville being left out as knowing nothing
of the subject. On November 21st I continued my private conference
with Lord Salisbury at the Royal Commission, and we settled who the
Boundary Commissioners should be. On Saturday, November 22nd, I had
a conference with Chamberlain before going to the meeting with Lord
Salisbury. Chamberlain was in favour of two-member seats as against
single members, especially for boroughs. He was as clear as was Lord
Salisbury that the single-member system would damage the Liberal
party in the Metropolis.
'In the afternoon the Conference took place, and there never was so
friendly and pleasant a meeting. I fully described it in three
letters to Chamberlain, in which I said, among other things: "It
looks as though Lord Salisbury is really anxious that we should pass
our Bill." No memorandum on this day passed in writing, and the
written compact was concluded between Lord Salisbury and me only on
November 28th. The meeting of the 22nd was known at the time as the
Downing Street meeting; and the other as "the Arlington Street
'On Sunday, November 23rd, Lord Salisbury wrote to me a letter which
I sent on to Mr. Gladstone and which he kept. Mr. Gladstone replied
on the same day undertaking to move the adjournment of the House for
a week, and showing that he was not at all sure that Lord Salisbury,
having got from us the whole of our scheme and given us nothing in
writing which was worth anything, did not mean to sell us.
Chamberlain wrote on the same day in reply to my letters, "I cannot
make head or tail of Salisbury. He appears to be swallowing every
word that he has ever written or spoken about Redistribution.... I
wonder if he will carry his party with him.... On the whole, you
seem to be doing very well."'
Discussion now went on by correspondence between Sir Charles and Lord
Salisbury, and it touched subjects which might easily have led to
friction. Lord Salisbury proposed to create a number of urban
constituencies by grouping; his plan being to get the small towns taken
out of rural districts which he looked upon as otherwise Conservative,
and to group them with small manufacturing boroughs:
'I was aghast at this suggestion, because it was a very difficult
thing, in a Parliamentary sense, to create a few such groups in
England; and if the thing was to be carried far and not confined to
a few cases only it would entirely have destroyed the whole of the
work that we had done, because all the counties would have had their
numbers altered. I therefore fought stoutly for my own scheme, which
I succeeded in carrying almost untouched. Lord Salisbury's letter
crossed one from me to him in which, after Mr. Gladstone's leave
(conveyed in the words "I see no objection to sending him this
excellent and succinct paper marked Secret"), I had communicated to
Lord Salisbury my views and the grounds on which they were based.'
'On the 26th, at four o'clock, we met at Downing Street, all five
being present.... Lord Salisbury, yielding to my reasoning, gave up
grouping,' on the understanding that the Boundary Commissioners were
'to keep the urban patches as far as possible by themselves....
Ultimately it was settled that single-member districts should be
universal in counties, and that we should leave open for the present
the question of how far it should be applied to boroughs.'
Lord Salisbury wished to retain the minority clause in places where he
thought it had worked well, but he did not ask for it in Birmingham and
Glasgow. 'All this showed great indecision,' says Sir Charles, and he
observes that 'Lord Salisbury did not seem to me thoroughly to
understand his subject.' It is probable, at all events, that he was no
match on the details either for Sir Charles or for Mr. Gladstone, who,
after the Conference, thus summed up his impressions in a letter dated
'My Dear Dilke,
'I send you herewith for your consideration a first sketch which I
have made of a possible communication to-morrow after the Cabinet
from us to the Legates of the opposite party. I think that if the
Cabinet make it an _ultimatum_ we should be safe with it. There was
a careful abstention to-day on their side from anything beyond
praising this or that, and at the outset they spoke of the
one-member system for boroughs "with exceptions" as what they
'W. E. Gladstone.'
'Mr. Gladstone's memorandum was on my lines. On the next morning,
November 27th, Mr. Gladstone, Lord Granville, Hartington, I, and
Chamberlain met before the Cabinet at 11 o'clock, and kept the
Cabinet waiting, the Cabinet having been called for twelve, and
Redistribution alone being considered at it. I announced at the
Cabinet that the Tories proposed and we accepted single-member
districts universally in counties, boundaries to be drawn by a
commission who were to separate urban from rural as far as possible,
without grouping and without creating constituencies of utterly
eccentric shape. The names of the commissioners had been settled,
and both sides were pledged to accept their proposals, unless the
two sides agreed to differ from them. [Footnote: At the meeting of
the 26th 'it was agreed that the Boundary Commissioners should
consist of those gentlemen who had been advising me.']
'The Tories proposed single-member districts almost everywhere in
boroughs, and only positively named one exception--the City of
London--but were evidently prepared to make some exceptions. They
made our agreement on this point the condition of passing the
Franchise Bill, of giving up the decrease of the Irish members from
103 to 100 which they urged, of giving up all forms of minority
vote, and of giving up grouping. My own opinion and that of the
Prime Minister were in favour of agreement. Hartington, who much
disliked what he thought would be the extinction of the Whigs by an
omnipresent caucus for candidates' selection, was hostile to the
single-member system. I pointed out that we already proposed in our
amended scheme 120 single-member borough seats out of 284 borough
seats. We had thrown out to the Tories a question as to whether they
would accept, say, 184 single-borough seats, and give us, say, not
more than 100 for double-member seats; or, if they liked, two-thirds
and one-third; and they did not positively decline this suggestion.
Mr. Gladstone proposed to "save from compulsory division those urban
constituencies, not Metropolitan, which, now possessing dual
representation, are to have their representation neither increased
nor diminished." (This was the ultimate agreement.) Also, that
"cities and towns which are to receive four members and upwards, ten
in number, should have one central or principal area set apart with
two members." (This was purely personal on Mr. Gladstone's part and
was universally rejected.)
'I argued warmly in favour of supporting Lord Salisbury's scheme
(upon which he and I were absolutely agreed), I being delighted at
having got seven more members for the Metropolis than were given by
my scheme in its last form after the Cabinet had cut it down. In
order to secure Chamberlain's support I told him "I might be able to
save a seat for you and give the extended Birmingham seven if you
liked to make that a condition, but in that case I must get one
somewhere for Glasgow also out of the rest of Scotland, which is
'The reception of our proposals by the Cabinet, to which Grosvenor'
(the Chief Whip) 'had been called in, was not altogether favourable.
Childers talked about resigning, and Grosvenor was most hostile. We
had the enormous advantage, however, that Chamberlain and I and Mr.
Gladstone were the only three people who understood the subject, so
that the others were unable to fight except in the form known as
swearing at large. I was sent off from the Cabinet to Lord Salisbury
to tell him that we could agree. At three o'clock we had a further
conference with the Conservative leaders, and came to an agreement
on my base, Chamberlain, who was somewhat hostile, yielding to me, I
going in and out to him, for he was at Downing Street in another
Next day memoranda were exchanged between the parties to the Conference,
and Mr. Gladstone was pledged to stand by the heads set down in his
memoranda, and accept no provision outside of these without Sir Stafford
Northcote's agreement. One detail is of interest as illustrating Mr.
Gladstone's inherited Conservatism, which comes out all through these
'Mr. Gladstone in sending this (memorandum) to me said: "You will
see that Salisbury stands upon our printed statement as to
Universities." Mr. Gladstone, knowing that I was strongly opposed to
University representation, took this matter upon himself. He
proposed a more general form of words in place of Lord Salisbury's
pledge against new matters, and, as for Universities, wrote: "Assure
Salisbury that I personally will _bind_ myself out and out to this
'In the afternoon I went to Lord Salisbury to settle the terms of
agreement, and had to go four times from him to Mr. Gladstone, and
four times back again, before we finished....
'The next day I lunched with Mr. Gladstone to meet Miss Mary
Anderson, the actress, and Princess Louise. I received at lunch a
letter from Lord Salisbury making a few reservations ... none of
them difficult of acceptance.
'On December 2nd I got a note from Harcourt--to ask what I had been
doing with the British Constitution in his absence. On December 8th
I had a serious grumble from Spencer from Dublin as to my having
settled with Salisbury who were to be the Irish Commissioners, and
only asked the Irish Government after the thing was done. I had
undoubtedly been wrong, and can only say that Spencer let me off
Sir Charles's holiday in the South of France, whither he went on
December 17th, was broken by copies of a correspondence between Lord
Spencer and Lord Salisbury, the latter writing 'with much sound and
fury' on the question of another Conservative Boundary Commissioner for
Ireland. 'Lord Salisbury had always been so extremely soft and sweet to
me that it was a revelation to find him writing to Spencer in the style
of Harcourt or of Chamberlain when in a passion.'
'Sir Stafford Northcote also wrote to me upon the subject, and
passing on to Scotland in his letter, added, "It is, I think,
understood that we may have a free fight over the grouping of Scotch
boroughs." This question of the Scotch boroughs was afterwards
referred to me and Charles Dalrymple (M.P. for Buteshire), and I
gave Dalrymple one or two changes that he wanted, which, I think,
did not matter.'
Such difficulties were few and subordinate. The scheme was settled in
principle, for after the Arlington Street compact
'I wrote the letter to the Boundary Commissioners the same night,
and after I had signed their instructions on December 5th I had a
pause in my Redistribution work for some time.'
But at the end of December Lord Hartington wrote:
'I think it will take two of us all our time to work the Bill
through; and you know so much more about it than anybody else that
you must necessarily take the greatest share of the details';
and ended with an invitation to Sir Charles to stay at Hardwick to do
some preliminary work on the measure.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS IN 1884
Mrs. Mark Patterson
During 1884 'I warned Lord Granville, Mr. Gladstone, Fitzmaurice, and
Childers, that I should not in future be able to speak on foreign
affairs on account of the terrible work of the Redistribution Bill, and
of the Royal Commission,' for 'I was now so busy with the preparation
for working the Redistribution Bill through the House, and with the
Report of the Royal Commission, that I objected to receiving Foreign
Office papers not sent to other members of the Cabinet ... but Lord
Granville insisted that I should still see them, and circulated a letter
to that effect.'
During 1884 and 1885 Foreign Office work was not only exacting, but was
connected with acute disagreements in the Ministry itself. It has been
seen how closely Sir Charles was occupied with the Egyptian question,
and how constantly he found himself opposed to Lord Hartington in his
views of policy. Moreover, out of the Egyptian difficulty there sprang a
general divergence from France, and this led to action by France in
various quarters of the globe calculated to offend British
susceptibilities and to injure British prestige. Sir Charles, friend of
France as he was, had been strong for resenting and resisting such
action, and this attitude had brought him into conflict with those who
on the whole had supported him in Egyptian matters. A new factor was now
introduced. Bismarck had previously been content to urge on the French
in their colonization policy, but in 1884 the German Chancellor, who in
1883 had been working out his schemes of national insurance, found his
hand forced by the Colonial party, and, in view of the coming German
elections, could no longer afford to ignore them. Bismarck, 'contrary to
his conviction and his will,' said Lord Ampthill, accepted a policy of
colonization, which had the secondary effect of harassing and
humiliating the British Liberal Administration. [Footnote: _Life of
Granville_, vol. ii., p. 355.] Sir Charles, who realized that every such
annexation meant the exclusion of British trade from an actual or
potential market, fought for strong British action, but he fought
against the older Liberals of the Cabinet. Again and again the Radical
leaders were overborne by Mr. Gladstone.
The German Government had demanded protection for a German firm of
traders who had established themselves in the territory of Angra
Pequena, on the west coast of Africa, 280 miles south of Walfisch Bay.
Lord Granville, after considerable delays, caused chiefly by the
necessity of consulting the Colonial Office, which in its turn had to
consult the Cape Government, where a change of Ministry was impending,
objected to the declaration of a German protectorate.
'June 14th, 1884.--At a Cabinet at Lord Granville's house on
Conference.... Waddington waiting in another room.
'H. Bismarck was also in the house, and had been very rude to Lord
Granville about Angra Pequena, which was mentioned to the Cabinet,
which would do nothing.
'June 2lth--... Angra Pequena was mentioned, and it was decided that
Bismarck, who was greatly irritated with the Government, was to have
all he wanted.
'On September 22nd Chamberlain came to me on his return from abroad.
He told me that H. Bismarck had told him that the German Chancellor
was very angry at having had no answer to a full statement of German
views as to Angra Pequena and other colonial matters, which had been
sent to Lord Granville on August 30th, and he was astonished to
learn that the Cabinet had not seen his letter....
'On the 27th Lord Granville had in the meantime written: "I will
send you my letter and Bismarck's answer, but I do not wish the
correspondence to be mentioned.... My only excuse, but a good one,
for acting merely as a medium between the German Government and the
Colonial Office, was that I had continually the most positive
assurances in London, and still more in Berlin, that Bismarck was
dead against German colonization--as he _was_."' [Footnote: On this
chapter of African history, see _Life of Granville_, vol. ii., chap.
This was the first of a series of instances in which, to Sir Charles's
great disgust, the British Foreign and Colonial Offices 'lay down to
Since the annexation of part of New Guinea by Queensland had been
disavowed in April, 1883, all Australia was vehemently concerned over
the ultimate fate of this territory, and pressed the home Government to
forestall other Powers by occupying it.
'June 27th we discussed New Guinea, as to which Lord Derby was
getting into serious trouble.
'On July 5th there was a Cabinet called to consider what was called
the "crisis"--our relation with the House of Lords over the
Franchise. But so peculiar is the British Empire that, although the
Cabinet was called upon this question, we immediately proceeded to
consider for the greater portion of the day matters in Sumatra, in
the Malay Archipelago, and the Pacific, and ... the affairs of New
Guinea and so forth. Harcourt, Lord Selborne, and Mr. Gladstone
violently opposed the occupation of New Guinea--Harcourt and Mr.
Gladstone on anti-imperialistic grounds, and Lord Selborne on
grounds connected with the protection of the aborigines against the
rapacity and violence of the Queensland settlers. Hartington, Lord
Granville, Derby, Kimberley, Chamberlain, and I, took the Australian
view. The matter was adjourned, as matters always are adjourned when
the Prime Minister is against the Cabinet.'
'August 6th.--We then attacked New Guinea, most of us wanting
annexation, some protectorate, and decided on the latter to please
the Chancellor and Mr. Gladstone.'
'August 9th.--We first discussed German colonies in the South Seas.
Bismarck had seized North New Guinea, and we decided to stick to the
long peninsula which faces both north and south.'
Bismarck's immediate answer was to annex, not only the north coast, but
what is now called the Bismarck Archipelago.
'October 4th.--Next came New Guinea. Were we to insist, as we had
done previously, on keeping the Germans off the north coast of the
long eastern peninsula? The previous decision was reversed. The
Cabinet, however, vetoed a suggestion for the joint commission with
Germany as to land claims in the Pacific Islands being allowed to
meddle in New Guinea. We then decided to annex one quarter, and
several members of the Cabinet expressed a hope that _this time_ the
thing would "really be done."' [Footnote: A useful sketch of these
events has recently appeared in the paper read before the Royal
Geographical Society by Sir Everard Im Thurn, K.C.M.G. See
_Journal_, vol. xlv., No. 5, April, 1915.]
These instances did not stand alone. Two native chiefs in the Cameroons
had so far back as 1882 proposed to be taken under British protection,
and Sir Charles had pressed acceptance of their offer. The matter had
been discussed in the Cabinet, and Lord Derby and Lord Granville were
still debating what should be done, when a German expedition seized the
'On September 18th I received from Chamberlain a letter from
Leipsic, in which he said: "The Cameroons! It is enough to make one
sick. As you say, we decided to assume the protectorate eighteen
months ago, and I thought it was all settled. If the Board of Trade
or Local Government Board managed their business after the fashion
of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office, you and I would deserve
to be hung."'
Those who thought with Sir Charles felt considerable anxiety about
possibilities on the East Coast of Africa. The Cameroons were lost, but
a protectorate over Zanzibar had been offered, and Zanzibar was the
outlet for an important trading district, which the forward party
thought of securing. The Prime Minister was opposed to all such schemes.
'On December 14th Mr. Gladstone broke out against the proposed
annexations in what is now called the Kilimanjaro district.'
He wrote to Sir Charles: 'Terribly have I been puzzled and perplexed on
finding a group of the soberest men among us to have concocted a scheme
such as that touching the mountain country behind Zanzibar with an
unrememberable name. There _must_ somewhere or other be reasons for it
which have not come before me. I have asked Granville whether it may not
stand over for a while.' [Footnote: The allusion is to the treaties with
native chiefs which were negotiated by Mr. (afterwards Sir) Harry
Johnston in 1883-84. These treaties were the foundation of what is now
known as British East Africa, and related mainly to the Kilimanjaro and
Taveita districts. It would appear that Mr. Gladstone himself had at
first expressed an interest in the development of British influence
'over this hinterland of snow mountains and elevated plateaux,' to which
his attention had been drawn by the report of Mr. Joseph Thomson.
Speaking subsequently at the Colonial Institute, Sir Harry Johnston said
that 'about twenty years ago he was making preparations for his first
expedition to British Africa. He had a very distinguished predecessor,
whom he regarded as the real originator of British East Africa: Mr.
Joseph Thomson, who died all too young in 1895. His great journey from
Mombasa was commenced in 1882 and finished in 1884.... His reports sent
home to the Royal Geographical Society had attracted the attention of
Mr. Gladstone; and there was another British statesman, Lord Edmond
Fitzmaurice, who perhaps more than most of his colleagues saw the
possibility of a white man's settlement in Equatorial Africa, and who
chose to select him (Sir H. Johnston) as one agency by which this work
should be commenced.' (_Journal_ of the Royal Colonial Institute,
1903-04, No. 5, p. 317.) The territory covered by the Kilimanjaro
Treaties was ceded to Germany under the arrangement made at the end of
1885, but the remainder has continued to be British (see Sir Harry
Johnston, _A History of the Colonization of Africa by Alien Races_, pp.
Mr. Gladstone could not bring himself to understand that the great
States of Europe had, almost without premeditation, moved into a field
of policy which involved the apportionment of regions scarcely yet known
in any detail to the geographers; nor did he realize the far-reaching
consequences of the acquisition or refusal of some of these districts.
The question of the Congo, for example, involved, as Sir Robert Morier
had foreseen, the settlement of the whole West African coast. In April
Sir Charles had recorded how he
'had to read up African papers, and found reason to fear that the
King of the Belgians was contemplating the sale of his Congo
dominions to France. We had a meeting at the Foreign Office in the
afternoon, [Footnote: April 26th, 1884.] at which were present Lord
Granville, Kimberley, Chamberlain, myself, and Fitzmaurice, and,
finding that we could not possibly carry our Congo Treaty with
Portugal, we determined to find a way out by referring it to the
Powers.' [Footnote: The following extract from an article in the
_Quarterly Review_ explains the importance attached by Sir Charles
to this Congo treaty, and the far-reaching results which it would
'In 1875 the results of Lieutenant Cameron's great journey across
Africa became known.... They revealed ... the material for a Central
African Empire awaiting the enterprise of a European or an Asiatic
power. There is now little doubt that, had the famous treaty
negotiated by Sir Charles Dilke, Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, and Sir
Robert Morier in 1884, been ratified and carried out ... the Congo
Basin would have been added to the British Empire, together with
Delagoa Bay and Nyasaland, before its time; with Dahomey also, and
an all-British West African Coast between Sierra Leone and the
Gaboon.' (_Quarterly Review_, January, 1906.)
It would perhaps have been more accurate had the author spoken of the
'treaty proposed to be negotiated.' The original plan of Sir Robert
Morier--part of a large scheme for the settlement of all outstanding
questions with Portugal--contemplated _inter alia_ some territorial
acquisition on the Congo by Great Britain. But the Cabinet put a veto on
this. The Foreign Office had therefore to fall back on the alternative
but less ambitious plan contained in the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of
1884, which was never ratified, owing to the opposition of Germany.
(_Life of Granville_, vol. ii., chap. x.; and supra, I. 418. See also
on this subject the observations of Sir Harry Johnston in his _History_,
quoted above, pp. 277, 278, 343, 405.)]
In October he goes on to relate how
'Lord Granville had been frightened by Plessen, the Prussian, coming
to invite him to a Conference at Berlin, but explained that he had
been much relieved on finding, as he put it, that it was only about
the Congo. It was, however, the famous Africa Conference which
virtually settled the whole future of the Dark Continent.'
Sir Charles notes the result in January, 1885:
'The sittings of the West African Conference, as it was called, were
at this time taking place at Berlin, and the General Act was signed
in the following month--that of February, 1885. [Footnote: He notes
in this month, February 4th, at "a meeting at the Admiralty of all
the Ministers in town, Childers and I stand alone in support of
Portugal as regards the Congo. I stated very freely what I still
believe, that we had behaved shamefully to the Portuguese; but this
neither convinced Lord Granville at the time, nor excused the
subsequent behaviour of the Portuguese." On February 11th Sir
Charles wrote to a diplomatic friend: "I cannot quite follow the
present phase of Congo, but I hope that nothing will be done to back
up the rascally association against Portugal. I believe that
Portugal will seize the disputed territory, and I certainly should
if I were the Portuguese Ministry."] I was very busy with this work,
in which I had long taken a deep interest, and was much relieved
when I found that what I thought the folly of the House of Commons
in upsetting our Congo Treaty, and preventing a general arrangement
with the Portuguese as regarded both West Africa and South-East
Africa, had turned out better than could have been anticipated,
owing to the interposition of the Germans. My joy was short-lived,
for King Leopold has not kept his promises.'
The interests thus claimed or created beyond the seas had to be defended
upon the seas. Either Great Britain must be prepared to abate her
pretensions, or she must strengthen her power to enforce them. Dilke and
Chamberlain were strongly against giving way to anything which could be
regarded as usurpation. Mr. Gladstone, on the other hand, pointed out
that to maintain a control, or veto, over the allocation of
unappropriated portions of the globe meant large increase of naval
expenditure, and he set his face against both. On December 2nd
'Naval expenditure was mentioned. The Cabinet had been about to
agree both to Northbrook's proposals (for Egypt) and to the sums
suggested for the defence of coaling-stations, when Mr. Gladstone
suddenly broke out, told us that he did not much care for himself,
as he now intended to retire, but that had he been twenty-five years
younger nothing could have induced him to consent. A loan he would
not tolerate. Then there was a general veer round, and all went
against the fortifications. Mr. Gladstone, however, said that he
should retire as soon as the Redistribution Bill was carried.'
The affairs of South Africa, where Great Britain was consolidating her
position, are also touched on in 1884.
'On March 22nd we had another Cabinet without Mr. Gladstone. The
first matter discussed was Zululand, Chamberlain opposing Kimberley
and Derby, who wished to increase the British Protectorate. At last
Kimberley said: "I see the Cabinet do not want more niggers," and
dropped the scheme.
'On May 17th ... we decided to defend the Zululand reserve against
Later in the year there are entries as to the annexation of
October 4th, 'Bechuanaland was discussed, as to which Chamberlain wanted
to go to war with the Boers, and had written to me.'
And on November 11th 'there was a Cabinet called on the Bechuanaland
trouble, and we discussed votes of money for the Gordon and Bechuanaland
During this year the Central Asian question, always of first-rate
interest to Sir Charles, constantly claimed his attention.
'On February 22nd there was a meeting at the Foreign Office which
was intended to be a meeting about my Central Asian scheme, but
which developed into a virtual Cabinet. There were present Mr.
Gladstone, Hartington, Kimberley, Northbrook, myself, Fitzmaurice,
and J. K. Cross, Undersecretary of State for India. The delimitation
of the Afghan frontier was further considered and pretty much
'Pleasures of Office. I dined with the Dean of Westminster, and was
called away in the middle of dinner to make a speech about Central
Asia, and got back again for coffee.'
'On March 5th Hartington suggested that we should recommence the
Quetta railroad, and it was decided to give a hint to Lord Ripon to
ask for it.'
'August 5th.--Lord Granville informed us that the Shah was alarmed
at the Russian advance upon the Persian frontier, and asked us for
'August 7th.--There was a meeting of the Central Asian Committee....
Lord Granville, Hartington, Kimberley, I, and Fitzmaurice were
present, with Philip Currie. As to the amount of support to be given
to Persia Lord Granville wrote an excellent despatch, while we were
talking. It was settled that we were to repeat our statements at St.
Petersburg at a convenient opportunity, but to ask the Shah that, as
an earnest of his good intentions towards us, the Persian rivers
should be thrown open to our trade--not a bad touchstone. We
discussed the Afghan boundary, and decided that, if the Russians
would not agree to our proposed starting-point for the delimitation,
we would send an Afghan British Commission without them to make our
'November 18th.--Edmond Fitzmaurice consulted me as to Central Asia.
The Russians had agreed in principle to the delimitation, but ...
had made much delay in questions of detail.'
On the Committee Sir Charles and Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice were unequally
yoked with the lethargic Secretary of State for War. Lord Fitzmaurice
has vivid recollection of Lord Hartington's entry at one sitting half an
hour late, after his fashion. The question turned on the probable action
of some Afghan chiefs, whereupon Lord Hartington broke silence by
observing reflectively: "I wonder what an Afghan chief is like." Sir
Charles, with a glance at the high-nosed, bearded, deliberate face of
his colleague, pushed a scribbled note to Lord Edmond: "I expect an
Afghan chief is very like the Right Honourable the Marquis of
Sir Charles's interest in this Central Asian question, where political
and military interests lay so close together, led to a correspondence,
and the correspondence to a friendship, with Lord Roberts.
'In March I received a letter from Sir Frederick Roberts, not yet
personally known to me, in which he enclosed a memorandum by him
called "Is an Invasion of India by Russia Possible?" In his letter
he said that he had given up the idea of returning to Kandahar, and
only desired that we should make ourselves secure upon our new
frontier, improve our relations with the Afghans, and clearly show
that we could not allow the Russians to establish themselves in
Northern Afghanistan. In his printed paper he showed that Persia
might be looked upon as virtually Russian, and that what we had to
do was to prevent Afghanistan falling into the same position. He
incidentally admitted the strength of the view of those of us who
had advocated the evacuation of Kandahar by saying that the Afghans
"must be assured that we have no designs upon their country, and
that even should circumstances require a British occupation of
Kandahar, the direction of all internal affairs would be left in
their hands; we must guarantee them the integrity of their kingdom."
He strongly supported my view that no time should be lost in
defining the northern boundary of Afghanistan.
'Roberts went on to lay down the principle that the main body of a
Russian army destined for the invasion of India must advance by
Herat and Girishk on Kandahar, whence, if not defeated, the Russians
must move by Ghazni, Kabul, and the Khyber. Sir Frederick Roberts
pointed out that India could not place in the field, under the then
conditions, more than 40,000 men, with from 130 to 140 guns. Part of
the native army could be relied on, but, writing as Commander-in-
Chief in Madras, he pointed out that the Southern Indian Sepoys had
not the courage and physique to fight against Russian troops, or
even against natives from the north. On the other hand, many of our
northern native troops would be of doubtful loyalty in the event of
Russia becoming predominant in Afghanistan. "Sir Fred" laid down
the principle of completing railway communication to a point near
Kandahar, with a bridge across the Indus near Sukkur, and generally
described the plan of a vigorous offensive on the Kandahar side and
a defensive on the Khyber line, which has since been adopted.'
'At the end of May I received from Sir Frederick Roberts a letter in
reply to mine, acknowledging the receipt of the Defence of India
papers which I have named. I had told him that the real danger was
that Russia would detach Herat by local intrigue without appearing,
and that I did not see how we could prevent this alarming danger.
Sir Frederick admitted the truth of my view, and again pointed out
the importance of trying to win the friendship of the Afghans. He
favoured my proposals for the delimitation of the northern frontier
of Afghanistan. "But I much doubt Russia's now agreeing to any
proposal of the sort." He ended by expressing his gratification at
our issue of the order for the completion of the railway to Quetta
Discussions preliminary to the Budget occupied the Cabinet in January,
1884, and Mr. Childers announced that the Army and Navy Estimates would
leave him with a deficit, chiefly because the newly introduced parcel
post had been 'a disastrous failure.'
'In the course of this Cabinet of January 24th, I for the first time
stated my views on the subject of army reform. I have a slip of
paper which passed backwards and forwards between Chamberlain and
myself, headed "The condition of the army." I wrote: "Do you
remember my saying one night in our cab to you that I could not go
to the W.O. because of my views upon this very point?" Chamberlain
wrote back: "But that really is the reason why you should go. I have
the lowest opinion of army administration wherever I can test it--
contracts, for instance. It is most ludicrously inefficient." To
which I replied: "The Duke of Cambridge and the old soldiers and the
Queen would make it very nearly hopeless."'
The War Office never tempted Sir Charles as did the Admiralty, where, he
wrote to Lord Granville in 1885, 'I fear I should be extravagant.'
A holiday home in the South of France had ceased to be easily accessible
to the 'most hard-worked member of the Government.' Though for many
years he retained his little villa of 'La Sainte Campagne' near Toulon,
nestling in its olive groves with, from windows and cliff, the view of
the red porphyry rocks across the deep blue of the bay, he had for some
time been negotiating for the purchase of strips of land by the
riverside near Shepperton, and among the pines at Pyrford.
In 1883 the building of the cottage at Dockett Eddy was begun, over the
door of which he set this inscription:
"Parva sed apta mihi, sed nulli obnoxia, sed non Sordida, parta meo sed
tamen aere, domus."
[Footnote: Thus rendered in English by the Rev. W. Tuckwell:
''Tis tiny, but it suits me quite,
Invades no jealous neighbour's right;
'Tis neat and clean, and--pleasant thought--
I earned the cash with which 'twas bought.'
(It was bought out of his official salary.)]
This was to be always his riverside home, and in it he always slept,
even after the larger house had been built near by. There he was one of
the river's most jealous guardians, and in this year notes that he
'gave evidence before the Select Committee on the River Thames, and
was instrumental in securing the insertion of a clause in the Bill,
afterwards produced by the Committee, which put an end to shooting
on the Thames, and did a great deal to protect the quiet of the
The Dockett cottage was not finished till 1885, and:
'On Saturday, March 21st, I took a holiday on the river, starting
down with my punt from Taplow Court, and bringing her down to
Dockett Eddy, of which I now took possession, the little house being
On May 22nd, 1884,
'I settled to go on Whitsun Tuesday to look at Lord Onslow's land at
Pyrford, for a winter house. I had forgotten that my ancestor Sir R.
Parkhurst had been Lord of the Manor of Pyrford, and that my
ancestor Sir Edward Zouche had lived even nearer to my new purchase,
at old Woking St. Peter, whence I hear his bells.'
Late in the year
'I settled on my motto for my cottage at Pyrford--a line of Ruskin,
"This is the true nature of Home,--it is the place of Peace."
'The selection meant in my mind that home was about to exist once
more for me.'
'In July, 1884, Mrs. Mark Pattison had been left a widow by the
death of the Rector of Lincoln College. She went to live at The
Lodge, Headington, near Oxford.
'Later in the year we became privately engaged, and told Mr. and
Mrs. Frank Pattison, Mrs. Westlake, Mrs. Earle, and Mrs. Grant Duff,
as well as Chamberlain, but no one else. It was decided that others
should not be told until much later, and to Lord Granville, who
(without mentioning a name) congratulated me, I had to feign
ignorance of what he meant. Mrs. Pattison settled to go to India in
February, March, or April, 1885, to stay with the Governor of Madras
and Mrs. Grant Duff in the hills, and to return in September or
October for our wedding, which before her departure was fixed for
October. Before the return there happened Emilia's typhoid fever at
Ootacamund, and our terrible misfortunes; but the date of October,
1885, was fated to remain the date, and Chamberlain, who had, before
Emilia left, consented to be best man, was best man still. The place
of the wedding alone was changed--from Christ Church Cathedral,
Oxford, to the parish church of Chelsea. Mrs. Grant Duff wrote to us
on being told a most pleasant letter.
'Chamberlain wrote the best letter of his life to her.'
This was the letter:
'40, Prince's Gardens, S.W.,
'November 5th, 1884.
'My Dear Mrs. Pattison,
'Dilke has told me his great secret, and I sympathize with him so
warmly in the new prospects of happiness which are opening for him
that I have asked leave to write to you and to offer my hearty
'I venture to think that we are already friends, and this adds
greatly to the pleasure which this intelligence has given me.
'For many years I have been on the most intimate terms with your
future husband; and while I share the general opinion of the world
as to his talents and force of character, I have better reason than
any other man to appreciate his generosity and goodness, and the
chivalrous delicacy which a natural reserve conceals from casual
'I prize his friendship as the best gift of my public life, and I
rejoice unfeignedly that he will have a companion so well able to
share his noblest ambitions and to brighten his life.
'I know that you will forgive me this intrusion, which is justified
by the fact that next to yourself I am more interested than anyone
in the change which will bring so much happiness to my dear friend.
'Believe me always,
'Yours most sincerely,
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1885
At the close of 1884 Mr. Gladstone's colleagues expected that he would
resign, and it appears that he had really thought of doing so, provided
that a ministry could be formed under Lord Hartington's leadership.
Franchise and Redistribution were virtually settled, and there was no
legislative proposal before either the Cabinet or the country on which
Lord Hartington was in marked disagreement with his colleagues. But they
were still 'an Egyptian Government,' and here differences seemed to be
'The Egyptian policy of the Government had now become thoroughly
unpopular, and those of us who, although we had favoured
intervention as necessary at the time, had deplored alike the
engagements of our predecessors which had made it necessary, and the
occupation which, unnecessarily in my opinion, followed it, were as
unpopular as were those like Hartington, and the majority of the
peers in the Cabinet, who had insisted not only on going, but on
staying--at least in Cairo. It is curious to reflect how
intervention in the East is judged by subsequent complications which
do not affect the principle. The intervention of 1860-61 in Syria
gave considerable popularity to the Government who agreed to it, and
to Lord Dufferin who conducted it on the spot; and it was as popular
in France which found the troops, as in England which found the man.
By that intervention Syria was pacified and war in the East
prevented, and ultimately it was followed by evacuation and
reversion to what diplomatists style in their jargon "an improved
'It is too often now (1891) forgotten that we actually proposed in
1884 to France (in connection with a Conference which took place,
obtaining therefore to some extent, it might be contended, valuable
consideration for our proposal) that we would, at or before the
expiration of our occupation, propose to the Powers and to the Porte
a scheme for the neutralization of Egypt on the basis of the
principles applied to Belgium. A document which we printed at the
beginning of 1885 gave our suggested wording for the neutralization
treaty, declaring that Egypt should be an independent and
perpetually neutral State under the guarantee of the contracting
parties; limiting the strength of the Egyptian army, the claim of
Turkey to military aid from Egypt, and so forth.'
The suggestion was not welcomed by the Powers.
'On New Year's Day I left Antibes for Paris, which I reached on
Friday, the 2nd January, and quitted for London on Saturday, the
'Chamberlain wrote to me that Mr. Gladstone was threatened with a
return of his illness, that he required rest, that Egypt had been
for the moment tided over, though it might at any moment break up
the Government. It had been decided to send a firm but courteous
despatch to France demanding immediate consideration of our
proposals, failing which we should "take our own course."
Chamberlain, however, added, "What that course is to be is the
question on which agreement appears impossible. It is 'scuttle and
bankruptcy' against 'protectorate and guarantee.' Sufficient unto
the day is the evil thereof."'
Mr. Gladstone was with Dilke and Chamberlain in opposing protectorate or
guarantee in any shape. But there were other questions of Imperial
policy upon which the Imperialism of these two Ministers divided them
from Mr. Gladstone.
'New Guinea had also been discussed, and Chamberlain was for
demanding explanations from the Germans. Zululand had been
mentioned. Chamberlain supported the annexation of the coast of
Pondoland: Mr. Gladstone, with the support of Trevelyan, "opposing
any attempt to anticipate Germany."
'On Sunday, January 4th, Chamberlain wrote again from Birmingham.
His letter shows that I was anxious for resignation on the Egyptian
question, and Chamberlain replied that he could not find a
satisfactory boat to leave the ship in, and that he thought that the
Government had more lives than a cat. Chamberlain added that he had
to speak on January 5th, and should find it difficult to steer
between Jingoism and peace-at-any-price.'
'He also was engaged in preparing a programme for the future to be
set forth at Ipswich. This last was the memorable "Unauthorized
A first instalment of this programme was given by Mr. Chamberlain in a
speech at Birmingham, which advocated restriction of game-preserving,
provision of land for agricultural labourers, and better housing. The
accusations of Communism brought against Mr. Chamberlain began at this
point; and they, of course, redoubled after he had proposed on January
10th at Ipswich to give local bodies power for compulsory acquisition of
At this juncture Mr. Chamberlain was absent from London, and
communicating only by letter with Sir Charles, whom he had not seen
since the middle of December, when Sir Charles crossed to Paris, on his
way to Toulon; and before the unauthorized programme was launched Lord
Hartington contemplated forming a Government which would have given the
foremost positions to Dilke and Chamberlain.
'On the morning of January 5th Harcourt had told me that Mr.
Gladstone intended to resign, and that Lord Granville would follow
Mr. Gladstone, in which case Hartington intended to make him,
Harcourt, Chancellor, to move Lord Derby and Childers, to put in
Rosebery, [Footnote: As Secretary for the Colonies.] to offer
Chamberlain the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, and me the
Secretaryship of State for Foreign Affairs. But, great as were the
offices proposed, Chamberlain and I could not have consented to
remain in if Mr. Gladstone had gone out notoriously dissatisfied. If
he had gone out on grounds of health alone, it would, of course,
have been another matter.'
In a letter,
'probably of Monday morning, January 5th, Chamberlain said that Mr.
Gladstone's retirement was possible, and might be necessary; that
Hartington and Harcourt could bring it about; but that we must be
most careful not to allow them to say that we had been engaged in an
intrigue with them against Mr. Gladstone. He thought that we ought
to tell them frankly that we could enter into no negotiations with
them, and to put this in a Memorandum to which we could afterwards
appeal. On the other hand, he was willing to state his views as to
policy, provided all reference to personal questions was avoided. As
his Egyptian policy, he stated "immediate bankruptcy, communication
to the Powers of our fixed intention to leave, declaration that we
would not allow intervention by other Powers in our place, and
Conference to settle details of neutralization." As to domestic
policy, he agreed in my suggestion that we should insist upon an
immediate Civil List Committee, and proposed an inquiry into labour.
He gave me leave to discuss his letter with Harcourt ("the latter
has always been a most loyal friend, though he can not be expected
to agree with us in everything"), and I did so before the Cabinet of
By this time Mr. Chamberlain had come to London, and there is no
indication that his speech at Birmingham had created friction. But the
party which wished to offer resistance to Germany's high-handed policy
had been strengthened by a new instance of usurpation.
'Mr. Gladstone was absent from this Cabinet. The first matter
discussed was that of Samoa raised by me. There had been received on
the night of the 6th from the Governor of New Zealand a telegram
saying that the Germans had made a treaty giving the whole authority
of Government to the German Consul. While Muenster had been telling
Lord Granville that Germany would take no step hostile to Samoan
independence, the Germans had sent warships there with secret
orders, and had hoisted their flag in various parts of the islands.
The next subject mentioned was that of Zanzibar, and it was decided
that we should warn Germany that we would not brook interference
there. At the same time I had much doubt whether Lord Granville
would act upon the instructions of the Cabinet in this matter, and
my doubts were justified. The third matter was that of the Pondo
coast, and also the coast of Zululand. Mr. Gladstone alone objecting
to a protectorate and being absent, it was decided to have one.'
'Then came the old question of sending troops to Suakim; [Footnote: