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

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last night.

'"In this really serious crisis we must all make efforts to work
together; and I gladly recognize your effort.

'"Moreover, reading as well as writing hastily, I think we are very
much in accord.

'"Both reflection and information lead me to think that time is very
precious, and that the hour-glass has begun to run for a definitive

'"But I am certainly and strongly of opinion that only a Government
can act, that especially this Government should act, and that we
should now be helping and encouraging them to act as far as we
legitimately can.

'"In reply to a proposal of the Central News to send me an
interviewer, I have this morning telegraphed to London: 'From my
public declarations at Edinburgh _with respect to the Government_,
you will easily see that I have no communication to make.'

'"Be _very incredulous_ as to any statements about my views and
opinions. Rest assured that I have done and said _nothing_ which in
any way points to negotiation or separate action. The time may come,
but I hope it will not. At present I think most men, but I do not
include you, are in too great a hurry to make up their minds. Much
may happen before (say) January 12th. The first thing of all is to
know _what will the Government do?_ I know they have been in
communication with Parnellites, and I hope with Parnell.

'"I remain always,

'"Sincerely yours,

'"W. E. Gladstone."

'I fancy that I was the cause of Chamberlain receiving this letter,
as I had told Brett (who at once wrote to Hawarden) that Chamberlain
was angry at not having been consulted.'

'On December 21st we went down to Pyrford, which was now just
finished, to stay there for the first time, and remained until
Christmas Eve. On December 22nd I received a letter from Chamberlain
from Highbury.'

In this letter Mr. Chamberlain chronicled Sir William Harcourt's
visit--who, after 'raving against the old man and the old cause,' had
left in better spirits. Mr. Chamberlain was in much doubt whether Mr.
Gladstone would go on or would retire after Lord Hartington's letter to
the Press, [Footnote: This is a reference to Lord Hartington's letter in
the Press of December 21st, 1885, which he alludes to, in writing to Mr.
Gladstone, as "published this morning" (_Life of Duke of Devonshire_,
vol. ii., p. 103).] and had written to Mr. Gladstone to say that he did
not think the country would stand an independent Parliament. He saw
nothing between National Councils and Separation, and wondered whether
Mr. Gladstone thought that--in the event of a separate Irish
Legislature--Ireland could be governed by a single Chamber, and England
and Scotland by two.

'On December 26th Chamberlain wrote:

'"I do not envy you the opportunity of speaking on the 31st. It is a
dangerous time, and I am inclined myself to 'lie low.' Is it
desirable to say anything? If it is right to speak at all, I think
something like a full expose of motifs is necessary, and I put the
following before you as the heads of a discourse.

'"At present there are two different ideas, for settlement of
Ireland, before the public imagination, viz.: (A) National Councils;
(B) Separation.

'"As to A, the fundamental principles are supremacy of Imperial
Parliament and extension of local liberties on municipal lines. It
is a feasible, practical plan. But it has the fatal objection that
the Nationalists will not accept it. It is worse than useless to
impose on them benefits which they repudiate. As to B, everyone
professes to reject the idea of separation. If it were adopted, I
have no doubt it would lead to the adoption of the conscription in
Ireland; then to the conscription in England, and increase of the
navy; fresh fortifications on the west coast, and finally a war in
which Ireland would have the support of some other Power, perhaps
America or France. Between these alternatives there is the hazy idea
of Home Rule visible in Morley's speech and Gladstone's assumed
intention. It is dangerous and mischievous to use vague language on
such a subject. Those who speak ought to say exactly what they mean.
It will be found that Home Rule includes an independent separate
Irish Parliament, and that all guarantees and securities, whether
for the protection of minorities or for the security of the Empire,
are absolutely illusory.

'"At the same time we are to continue to receive Irish
representatives at Westminster in the Imperial Parliament, and we
shall not even get rid of their obstruction and interference here by
the concession of their independence in Ireland. To any arrangement
of this kind, unworkable as I believe it to be, I prefer
separation--to which, indeed, it is only a step.

'"Is there any other possible arrangement which would secure the
real integrity of the Empire for Imperial purposes, while allowing
Irishmen to play the devil as they like in Ireland?

'"Yes, there is. But it involves the entire recasting of the British
Constitution and the full and complete adoption of the American
system. According to this view you might have five Parliaments, for
England, Scotland, Wales, Ulster, [Footnote: This is the first
suggestion of a scheme under which part of Ireland would be
separated from the rest.] and the three other provinces combined.
Each Parliament to have its own Ministry, responsible to it and
dependent on its vote. In addition an Imperial Parliament or
Reichsrath with another Ministry dealing with foreign and colonial
affairs, army, navy, post-office, and customs.

'"To carry out this arrangement a Supreme Court or similar tribunal
must be established, to decide on the respective attributes of the
several local legislatures and the limits of their authority.

'"The House of Lords must go, or you must establish a separate
Second Chamber for each legislature.

'"It is impossible to suppose that the authority of the Crown could
survive these changes for long. One or other of the local
legislatures would refuse to pay the expense, and, as it would have
some kind of local militia at its back, it is not likely that the
other legislatures would engage in civil war for the sake of
reimposing the nominal authority of the Sovereign.

'"As a Radical all these changes have no terrors for me, but is it
conceivable that such a clean sweep of existing institutions could
be made in order to justify the Irish demand for Home Rule? Yet this
is the only form of federal government which offers any prospect of
permanence or union for Imperial purposes.

'"If English Liberals once see clearly that indefinite talk about
Home Rule means either separation or the entire recasting of the
whole system of English as well as Irish government, they will then
be in a position to decide their policy. At present they are being
led by the _Daily News_ and Morley and Co. to commit themselves in
the dark."

'Next day, December 27th, Chamberlain wrote:

'"The situation (Irish) is now as follows:

'"(1) The Government have been informed that Mr. Gladstone thinks
this great question should not be prejudiced by party feeling, and
that he will support them in any attempt they may make to give Home
Rule to Ireland.

'"(2) Mr. Gladstone has been informed that the Government will see
him damned first.

'"(3) The Irishmen have been informed that Mr. Gladstone will not
move a step till the Government have spoken or until the Irish have
put them in a minority.

'"(4) In either of these events he will do his best to effect a
thorough settlement. 'He will go forward or fall.'

'"(5) I gather that he will not, as he ought, challenge Parnell to
say publicly exactly what he wants, but that he will propose his own
scheme, which is an Irish legislature with a veto reserved to the
Crown--to be exercised on most questions on the advice of the Irish
Ministry, but on questions of religion, commerce, and taxation, on
the advice of the Imperial Ministry.

'"(6) The Irish are suspicious, and have not made up their minds.
Parnell says nothing, but the rank and file are inclined to give Mr.
Gladstone his chance and turn him out again if they are not
satisfied with his proposals.

'"The Tories hope to get out Mr. Gladstone's intentions in debate on
Address, and threaten another immediate dissolution if they are
placed in a minority; I think, however, their true policy is and
will be to let Mr. Gladstone come in and make his proposals. This
will divide the Liberal party, and in all probability alarm and
disgust the country.

'"Was there ever such a situation? Test Mr. Gladstone's scheme in
practice. The Irish Ministry insist on necessity of restoring Irish
manufactures by protection. The Imperial Parliament veto their
proposals. Thereupon the Irish representatives join the Tories and
turn out the Government on a foreign and colonial debate, the same
Government being in a great majority on all English and Scotch
questions. How long can such a state of things last? Mr. Gladstone
will have the support of a portion of the Liberal party--Morley, for
instance, Storey, the Crofters' representatives, and probably some
of the Labour representatives. How many more will he get? Will he
have the majority of the Radicals? Will he have the majority of the
Liberals, following the party leader like sheep? It is curious to
see the _Scotsman_ and the _Leeds Mercury_ leading in this
direction. What are we to do? Certainly I will not join a Government
pledged to such a mad and dangerous proposal. But this may mean
isolation for a long time.

'"The prospect is not an inviting one.

'"I have told Harcourt the facts as in the numbered paragraphs. Do
not say a word to anyone else. Harcourt is perplexed and hesitating.
I think he is impressed with the danger of Fenian outrages,
dynamite, and assassination.

'"For myself, I would sooner the Tories were in for the next ten
years than agree to what I think the ruin of the country."

'On New Year's Eve, the 31st, we went to Rugby, where I had to make
the speech alluded to in Chamberlain's letter. I had received an
invitation, dated December 29th, to a meeting at Devonshire House.
Hartington wrote:

'"My Dear Dilke,

'"You know, no doubt, that Harcourt has had a good deal of
communication with Chamberlain lately. I hear that Chamberlain will
be in town on Friday (New Year's Day), and it is proposed that he,
Harcourt, you, and I, should meet here on Friday at four to talk
over matters, especially Irish. I have asked Granville to come up if
he likes. I do not think there would be any advantage in having any
others, unless Rosebery?

'"Yours sincerely,


'I sent this letter to Chamberlain with an inquiry as to what he
knew about the meeting, and he replied on New Year's Eve:

'"The meeting to-morrow was arranged by telegraph.... I suspect Mr.
Gladstone is inclined to hedge. He refuses to satisfy the Irish by
any definite statements. I hope they may continue suspicious and
keep the Tories in for some time."'

'Yet it was Chamberlain who was to turn out the Tories. On New
Year's Eve, at Rugby, referring to the Irish Question, I praised the
speech made by Trevelyan on the previous night as being "a
declaration in favour of that scheme of National Councils which he
supports for Ireland at least, and which was recommended in an able
article in the _Fortnightly Review_ for Scotland, Ireland, and
Wales." I said: "I am one of those who have never limited my views
upon the subject to Ireland. Mr. Trevelyan last night spoke as
though it were only in Ireland that it was necessary to institute
some local body to deal with purely local questions--with those
questions which now come before nominated boards or branches of the
Executive Government." I went on to speak in the sense of Mr.
Gladstone's letter, in favour of the Conservatives being encouraged
to propose such Irish remedial legislation.

'On New Year's Day, 1886, an important meeting took place at
Devonshire House between Hartington, Harcourt, Chamberlain, and
myself. I did not see my way clearly, and did not say much; the
other three arguing strongly against Mr. Gladstone's conduct in
having sent Herbert Gladstone to a news agency to let out his views
for the benefit of the provincial Press, in such a way as to put
pressure on his colleagues. It seemed to me that the pressure,
though no doubt unfair and indefensible, had nevertheless been
pretty successful, as neither Harcourt nor Chamberlain saw their way
to opposing Mr. Gladstone, although both of them disliked his
scheme. Hartington only said that he "thought he could not join a
Government to promote any such scheme." But, then, he would not, I
pointed out, be asked to do so. He would be asked to join a
Government to consider something. The practical conclusion come to
was to write to Mr. Gladstone to urge him to come to London to
consult his colleagues. On January 4th I heard from Hartington that
Mr. Gladstone informed him that he had nothing to add to his
previous letter dated December 17th. Hartington wrote:

'"I have heard from Mr. Gladstone. He declines to hasten his arrival
in London, but will be available on the 11th after 4 p.m. for any
who may wish to see him. He will be at my sister-in-law's (Lady F.
Cavendish), 21, Carlton House Terrace.... He has done nothing and
will do nothing to convert his opinions into intentions, for he has
not the material before him. There is besides the question of
Parliamentary procedure (this refers to action on the Address). For
considering this, he thinks the time available in London will be

'In forwarding the correspondence to Chamberlain with a copy of the
letter of December 17th, 1885, as I was requested by Hartington to
do, I added that Mr. Gladstone could hardly be said not to have done
anything which had enabled the Nationalists to establish rival
biddings between the two sides (to use his phrase), because we knew
that he had asked Arthur Balfour to go to Lord Salisbury with a
message from him promising his support if the Government would bring
in a Home Rule scheme. This he had let out to the Irish.

'After this we were in consultation as to whether we ought to see
Mr. Gladstone separately; and Hartington wrote to me on January
10th, 1886, from Hardwick, that he did not see how we could decline
to see Mr. Gladstone separately, but that we might be as reticent as
we pleased, and could all combine in urging further collective
consultations; and it was arranged that Hartington himself should
see Mr. Gladstone on January 12th--the day of the election of the
Speaker. Mr. Gladstone then informed us all that he would see such
of us as chose on the afternoon of January 11th, and Chamberlain
then wrote:

'"As far as I know, only Harcourt is going on Monday, and I on
Tuesday morning. If for _any_ reason you think it well to go, there
is really not the least objection."

'I went on the 11th, but nothing of the least importance passed, and
the same was the case with Chamberlain's interview on the 12th.
Harcourt was present on the 11th, and evidently in full support of

'On the 15th Labouchere gave a dinner to Chamberlain and Randolph
Churchill, but I do not think that anything very serious was
discussed. There was a sharp breach at this moment between
Chamberlain and Morley, Chamberlain telling Morley that his speeches
were "foolish and mischievous," and that he was talking "literary
nonsense--the worst of all."

'On January 21st we had a meeting of all the ex-Cabinet at Lord
Granville's. Chamberlain breakfasted with me before the meeting, and
he drew and I corrected the amendment which was afterwards accepted
at the meeting as that which should be supported by the party on the
Queen's Speech, and which was that moved by Jesse Collings by which
the Government were turned out on the 26th. The adoption of our
amendment was very sudden. The leaders had met apparently without
any policy, and the moment Chamberlain read our "three acres and a
cow" amendment, they at once adopted it without discussion as a way
out of all their difficulties and differences. [Footnote: This
amendment was carried by seventy-nine votes, and the Government thus
overthrown.] The Government resigned on the 28th, and on the 29th I
had an interview with Chamberlain as to what he should do about
taking office.

'On January 30th Mr. Gladstone offered Chamberlain the Admiralty,
after Hartington had refused to join the Government. Chamberlain
came and saw me, and was to go back to Mr. Gladstone at six. He
thought he had no alternative but to accept a place in the
Government, although he did not like the Admiralty. Mr. Gladstone
showed him a form of words as to Irish Home Rule. It was equivalent
to a passage in Sexton's [Footnote: Home Rule M.P. for S. Sligo,
1885-1886; Belfast W., 1886-1892.] speech on the 22nd, at which Mr.
Gladstone had been seen to nod in a manner which implied that he had
suggested the words. The proposal was, as we knew it would be, for
inquiry. Chamberlain did not object to the inquiry, but objected to
the Home Rule. Chamberlain, before returning to Mr. Gladstone, wrote
him a very stiff letter against Home Rule, which somewhat angered
him. On Sunday, January 31st, Chamberlain wrote that for personal
reasons he had sooner not accept the Admiralty. Mr. Gladstone saw
Chamberlain again later in the day, on the Sunday, and asked what it
was then that he wanted; to which Chamberlain replied, "The
Colonies," and Mr. Gladstone answered, "Oh! A Secretary of State."
Chamberlain was naturally angry at this slight, and being offered by
Mr. Gladstone the Board of Trade, then refused to return to it.
After leaving Mr. Gladstone he went to Harcourt, and told Harcourt
that he would take the Local Government Board, "but not very
willingly." On Monday, February 1st, I asked Chamberlain to
reconsider his decision about the Admiralty, and found that he would
have been willing to have done so, but that it was now too late. On
the 2nd Mr. Gladstone wrote me a very nice letter quoted above,
[Footnote: Chapter XLII., p.172.] about the circumstances relating
to the trial then coming on which made it impossible for him to
include me in the Ministry. Morley wrote: "Half my satisfaction and
confidence are extinguished by your absence. It may and will make
all the difference."'

Mr. Morley's apprehension was justified by events.

In 1880 the position of the Radical leaders, while only private members,
had been of such strength that Sir Charles had been able to secure, from
a reluctant Prime Minister, the terms agreed on between Mr. Chamberlain
and himself. He had obtained for both positions in the Government, and
procured Cabinet rank for Chamberlain. Now that the power of one of the
allies was demolished, and Mr. Chamberlain stood alone, Mr. Gladstone's
view of the changed situation was apparent. The 'slight' to Chamberlain
was followed by that course of action which resulted in his breach with
the Liberal party. Together the two men could, from a far stronger point
of vantage than in 1880, have made their terms; with Mr. Chamberlain
isolated Mr. Gladstone could impose his own. The alteration in the
course of English political history which the next few months were to
effect was made finally certain by Sir Charles Dilke's fall.

Lord Rosebery wrote on February 3rd to say that he had been appointed
Foreign Secretary, an office which in happier circumstances would, he
said to Sir Charles, 'have been yours by universal consent.' The letter
went on to state in very sympathetic words how 'constantly present to
his mind' was his own inferiority in knowledge and ability to the man
who had been set aside.

'I had written to Rosebery at the same moment, and our letters had
crossed. I replied to his:

'"My Dear Rosebery,

'"Our letters crossed, but mine was a wretched scrawl by the side of
yours. I do not know how, with those terrible telegrams beginning to
fly round you, you find time to write such letters. I could never
have taken the Foreign Office without the heaviest misgiving, and I
hope that whenever the Liberals are in, up to the close of my life,
you may hold it. My 'knowledge' of foreign affairs _is_, I admit to
you, great, and I can answer questions in the Commons, and I can
negotiate with foreigners. But these are _not_ the most important
points. As to the excess of 'ability' with which you kindly and
modestly credit me, I do not admit it for a moment. I should say
that you are far more competent to advise and carry through a
policy--far more competent to send the right replies to those
telegrams which are the Foreign Office curse. As to questions, these
are a mere second curse, but form a serious reason why the Secretary
of State should be in the Lords.

'"I have always said that, if kept for no other reason, the Lords
should remain as a place for the Secretary of State for the Foreign
Department, and _I_ think also for the Prime Minister. Between
ourselves, you will not have quite a fair chance in being Secretary
of State for the Foreign Department under Mr. Gladstone, because Mr.
Gladstone _will_ trust to his skill in the House of Commons, and
_will_ speak and reply when the prudent Under-Secretary would ask
for long notice or be silent. Lord Granville was always complaining,
and Mr. Gladstone always promising never to do it again, and always
doing it every day. [Footnote: See supra, p. 51 and note.] I am
going to put down a notice to-day to strengthen your hands against
France in _re_ Diego Suarez."

'From Bryce I heard that he had been appointed Under-Secretary of
State for the Foreign Department, and asking me whom he should take
as his private secretary; and I told him Austin Lee, and he took him
at once.'

'To the Prince of Wales I wrote to say that I should not attend the
Levee, and had from him a reply marked by that great personal
courtesy which he always shows.'

Thus came into being Mr. Gladstone's third Administration. In 1885 the
continuance of Mr. Gladstone's leadership had seemed necessary in order
to bridge the gap between Lord Hartington and the Radicals. Now in 1886
Lord Hartington was out, to mark his opposition, not to Chamberlain, but
to Gladstone; and Chamberlain was in, though heavily handicapped. Yet
none of these contradictions which had defied anticipation was so
unforeseen as the exclusion of Sir Charles Dilke.


See p. 196. Letter of Mr. Gladstone to Lord Hartington, December 17th,

'The whole stream of public excitement is now turned upon me, and I
am pestered with incessant telegrams which I have no defence against
but either suicide or Parnell's method of self-concealment. The
truth is I have more or less of opinions and ideas, but no
intentions or negotiations. In these ideas and opinions there is, I
think, little that I have not more or less conveyed in public
declarations: in principle, nothing. I will try to lay them before
you. I consider that Ireland has now spoken, and that an effort
ought to be made by the _Government_ without delay to meet her
demand for the management, by an Irish legislative body, of Irish as
distinct from Imperial affairs. Only a Government can do it, and a
Tory Government can do it more easily and safely than any other.

'There is first a postulate--that the state of Ireland shall be such
as to warrant it.

'The conditions of an admissible plan, I think, are--

'(1) Union of the Empire and due supremacy of Parliament.

'(2) Protection for the minority. A difficult matter on which I have
talked much with Spencer, certain points, however, remaining to be

'(3) Fair allocation of Imperial charges.

'(4) A statutory basis seems to me to be better and safer than the
revival of Grattan's Parliament, but I wish to hear more upon this,
as the minds of men are still in so crude a state on the whole

'(5) Neither as opinions nor as intentions have I to anyone alive
promulgated these ideas as decided on by me.

'(6) As to intentions, I am determined to have none at present--to
leave space to the Government--I should wish to encourage them if I
properly could--above all, on no account to say or do anything which
would enable the Nationalists to establish rival biddings between

'If this storm of rumours continues to rage, it may be necessary for
me to write some new letter to my constituents, but I am desirous to
do nothing, simply leaving the field open for the Government, until
time makes it necessary to decide. Of our late colleagues, I have
had most communication with Granville, Spencer, and Rosebery. Would
you kindly send this on to Granville? I think you will find it in
conformity with my public declarations, though some blanks are
filled up. I have in truth thought it my duty, without in the least
committing myself or anyone else, to think through the subject as
well as I could, being equally convinced of its urgency and its

The remainder of this letter is not quoted in the Memoir.




The acute political crisis now maturing within the Liberal party had a
special menace for Sir Charles Dilke. It threatened to affect a personal
tie cemented by his friend's stanchness through these months of trouble.

On January 31st, 1886, he wrote:

'My Dear Chamberlain,

'I feel that our friendship is going to be subjected to the heaviest
strain it has ever borne, and I wish to minimize any risks to it, in
which, however, I don't believe. I am determined that it shall not
dwindle into a form or pretence of friendship of which the substance
has departed. It will be a great change if I do not feel that I can
go to your house or to your room as freely as ever. At the same time
confidence from one in the inner circle of the Cabinet to one wholly
outside the Government is not easy, and reserve makes all
conversation untrue. I think the awkwardness will be less if I
abstain from taking part in home affairs (unless, indeed, in
supporting my Local Government Bill, should that come up). In
Foreign Affairs we shall not be brought into conflict, and to
Foreign and Colonial affairs I propose to return.

'I intend to sit behind (in Forster's seat), not below the gangway,
as long as you are in the Government.

'There is one great favour which I think you will be able to do me
without any trouble to yourself, and that is to let my wife come to
your room to see me _between_ her lunch and the meeting of the
House. The greatest nuisance about being out is that I shall have to
go down in the mornings to get my place, and to sit in the library
all day....

'Yours ever,

'Chs. W. D'

When the first trial of the divorce case was over (almost before Mr.
Gladstone's Government had fairly assumed office), in the period during
which Sir Charles designedly absented himself from the House of Commons,

'Chamberlain asked me to act on the Committee to revise my Local
Government Bill, and to put it into a form for introduction to the
House; and I attended at the Local Government Board throughout the
spring at meetings at which Chamberlain, if present, presided.... It
is a curious fact that I often presided over this Cabinet Committee,
though not a member of the Government.'

During the month of February, while the Press campaign against him
was ripening, Sir Charles had little freedom of mind for politics.
Yet this was the moment when Mr. Chamberlain's action, decisive for
the immediate fate of a great question, had to be determined. Sir
Charles had been a conducting medium between Mr. Gladstone and Mr.
Chamberlain. He was so no longer. "I wonder," wrote Chamberlain,
years after, on reading Dilke's Memoir, "what passed in that most
intricate and Jesuitical mind in the months between June and
December, 1885." Perhaps the breach that came was unavoidable. But
at all events the one man who might have prevented it was at the
critical moment hopelessly involved in the endeavour to combat the
scandal that assailed him. [Footnote: There is a letter of this date
to Mr. John Morley:

'76, Sloane Street, S.W.,

'_February 2nd_.

'My Dear Morley,

'As I must not yet congratulate you on becoming at a bound Privy
Councillor and member of the Cabinet, let me in the meantime
congratulate you on your election as a V.P. of the Chelsea Liberal
Association. But seriously, there can be no doubt that you now have
sealed the great position which you had already won. My _one_ hope
is that you will work;--my hope, not for your own sake, but for the
sake of Radical principles--as completely with Chamberlain as I did.
It is the only way to stand against the overwhelming numbers of the
Whig peers. I fear Mr. Gladstone will find his new lot of Whig peers
just as troublesome as the old.

'As long as I am out and _my friends_ are in, I shall sit, not in my
old place below the gangway, but behind, and do anything and
everything that I can do to help.

'Yours ever,

'Chs. W. D.

'I _hope_ it is true that Stansfeld is back?'

It was not till March 3rd, 1886, that

'I resumed my attendance at the House of Commons, and Joseph Cowen,
the member for Newcastle, did what he could to make it pleasant. I
wrote to him, and he replied: "It is a man's duty to stick to his
friends when they are 'run at' as you have been."'

'On March 4th a meeting of the Local Government Committee at
Chamberlain's was put off by the absence of Thring, who had been
sent for by Mr. Gladstone with instructions to draw a Home Rule
Bill. I went to Chamberlain's house, he being too cross to come to
the House of Commons, and held with him an important conversation as
to his future. I tried to point out to him that if he went out, as
he was thinking of doing, he would wreck the party, who would put up
with the Whigs going out against Mr. Gladstone on Home Rule, but who
would be rent in twain by a Radical secession. He would do this, I
told him, without much popular sympathy, and it was a terrible
position to face. He told me that he had said so much in the autumn
that he felt he _must_ do it. I said, "Certainly. But do not go out
and fight. Go out and lie low. If honesty forces you out, well and
good, but it does not force you to fight." He seemed to agree, at
all events at the moment.

'On March 13th there was a Cabinet, an account of which I had from
Chamberlain, who was consulting me daily as to his position. Mr.
Gladstone expounded his land proposals, which ran to 120 millions of
loan, and on which Chamberlain wrote: "As a result of yesterday's
Council, I think Trevelyan and I will be out on Tuesday. If you are
at the House, come to my room after questions." I went to
Chamberlain's room and met Bright with him. But real consultation in
presence of Bright was impossible, because Bright was merely
disagreeable. On Monday, the 15th, Chamberlain and Trevelyan wrote
their letters of resignation, and late at night Chamberlain showed
me the reply to his. On the same day James told me that the old and
close friendship between Harcourt and himself was at an end, they
having taken opposite sides with some warmth. On the 16th
Chamberlain wrote to Mr. Gladstone that he thought he had better
leave him, as he could only attend his Cabinets in order to gather
arguments against his schemes; and Mr. Gladstone replied that he had
better come all the same.

'On the 22nd I had an interesting talk with Sexton about the events
of the period between April and June, 1885. Sexton said that he had
agreed to the Chamberlain plan in conversation with Manning, but it
was as a Local Government plan, not to prevent, so far as he was
concerned, the subsequent adoption of a Parliament. It was on this
day that Chamberlain's resignation became final. On March 26th I,
having to attend a meeting on the Irish question under the auspices
of the Chelsea Liberal Association, showed Chamberlain a draft of
the resolution which I proposed for it. I had written: "That while
this meeting is firmly resolved on the maintenance of the Union
between Great Britain and Ireland, it is of opinion that the wishes
of the Irish people in favour of self-government, as expressed at
the last election, should receive satisfaction." Chamberlain wrote
back that the two things were inconsistent, and that the Irish
wishes as expressed by Parnell were for separation. But his only
suggestion was that I should insert "favourable consideration" in
place of "satisfaction," which did not seem much change. This,
however, was the form in which the resolution was carried by an open
Liberal public meeting, and it is an interesting example of the
fluidity of opinion in the Liberal party generally at the moment. A
rider to the effect that the meeting had complete confidence in Mr.
Gladstone was moved, but from want of adequate support was not put
to the meeting. I violently attacked the land purchase scheme in my
speech, suspended my judgment upon the Home Rule scheme until I saw
it, but declared that it was "one which, generally speaking, so far
as I know it, I fancy I should be able to support." On this same day
Cyril Flower told me that on the previous day the Irish members had
informed Mr. Gladstone that it was their wish that he should
entirely abandon that land purchase scheme which he had adopted for
the sake of conciliating Lord Spencer. On March 27th Chamberlain
wrote: "My resignation has been accepted by the Queen, and is now
therefore public property. We have a devil of a time before us."

'On April 5th there was a misunderstanding between Hartington and
Chamberlain which almost shivered to pieces the newborn Liberal
Unionist party. Hartington had taken to having meetings of James and
some of the other more Whiggish men who were acting with him, which
meetings Chamberlain would not attend, and at these meetings
resolutions were arrived at to which Chamberlain paid no attention.
Chamberlain consulted me as to the personal question between
Hartington and himself, and placed in my hands the letters which

Mr. Gladstone was to introduce his Home Rule Bill on April 8th, and on
the 5th Lord Hartington wrote to Chamberlain announcing that he had
'very unwillingly' decided to follow Mr. Gladstone immediately, 'not, of
course, for the purpose of answering his speech, but to state in general
terms why that part of the party which generally approves of my course
in declining to join the Government is unable to accept the measure
which Mr. Gladstone will describe to us.'

Chamberlain replied on April 6th to Lord Hartington that his letter had
surprised him. Having tendered his resignation on March 15th, he had
kept silence as to his motives and intentions. He said he thought that
it was understood that retiring Ministers were expected to take the
first opportunity of explaining their resignations, and Trevelyan and he
were alone in a position to say how far Mr. Gladstone might have
modified his proposals since their resignations, and thus to initiate
the subsequent debate. He objected to what he understood to be Lord
Hartington's proposed course--namely, formally to oppose Mr. Gladstone's
scheme immediately on its announcement; and this he thought not only a
tactical error, but also discourteous to Trevelyan and himself.

'Chamberlain went on, however, virtually to accept Hartington's
suggestion, and the real reason was that he had not received the
Queen's permission to speak upon the land purchase scheme, and that
he did not want to make his real statement until he was in a
position to do this. Chamberlain, in sending me this correspondence,
said that Hartington's proposal was "dictated by Goschen's uneasy

Sir Charles at this moment believed it possible that Mr. Chamberlain
might carry his point against Mr. Gladstone as to the continued
representation of Ireland at Westminster, and, although he disliked this
proposal, desired its success because it would retain Mr. Chamberlain in
the party. This is the moment at which Dilke's influence, had he
retained his old position, would probably have proved decisive. What Mr.
Gladstone would not yield to Chamberlain alone he would probably have
yielded to the two Radicals combined; and Mr. Chamberlain, deprived of
the argument to which he gave special prominence, could scarcely have
resisted his friend's wish that he should support the second reading.
Sir Charles wrote, April 7th, 1886:

'I don't like the idea of the Irish throwing all their ferocity
against you, and treating you as they treated Forster. Unless you
are given a very large share in the direction of the business, I
think you must let it be known that you are not satisfied with the
Whig line. I hate the prospect of your being driven into coercion as
a follower of a Goschen-Hartington-James-Brand-Albert Grey clique,
and yet treated by the Irish as the Forster of the clique. I believe
from what I see of my caucus, and from the two large _public_
meetings we have held for discussion, that the great mass of the
party will go for Repeal, though fiercely against the land. Enough
will go the other way to risk all the seats, but the party will go
for Repeal, and sooner or later now Repeal will come, whether or not
we have a dreary period of coercion first. I should decidedly let it
be known that you won't stand airs from Goschen.

'Yours ever,

'Chs. W. D.'

'Another meeting on the Irish Question in Chelsea led to no clearer
expression of opinion than had the previous one, for it was
concluded by Mr. Westlake, Q.C., M.P., who afterwards voted against
the Home Rule Bill, moving that the meeting suspend its judgment,
and Mr. Firth, who was a Gladstonian candidate and afterwards a Home
Rule member, seconding this resolution, which was carried

'On April 20th Labouchere wrote to me as to an attempt which he was
making to heal the breach between Mr. Gladstone and Chamberlain.

'Chamberlain wrote on April 22nd from Highbury: "I got through my
meeting last night splendidly. Schnadhorst has been doing everything
to thwart me, but the whole conspiracy broke down completely in face
of the meeting, which was most cordially enthusiastic. The feeling
against the Land Bill was overwhelming. As regards Home Rule, there
is no love for the Bill, but only a willingness to accept the
principle as a necessity, and to hope for a recasting of the
provisions. There is great sympathy with the old man personally, and
at the same time a soreness that he did not consult his colleagues
and party. Hartington's name was hissed. They cannot forgive him for
going to the Opera House with Salisbury. I continue to receive many
letters of sympathy from Radicals and Liberals, and invitations to
address meetings, but I shall lie low now for some time. The
Caucuses in the country are generally with the Government, but there
will be a great number of abstentions at an election.... Parnell is
apparently telling a good many lies just now. He told W. Kenrick the
other day, not knowing his relationship at first, that I had made
overtures to him for Home Rule, which showed my opposition to Mr. G.
to be purely personal. I have sent him word that he has my leave to
publish anything ever written or said by me on the Irish Question,
either to him or to anyone else.... I have a list of 109 men who at
one time or another have promised to vote against the second
reading, but they are not all stanch, and I do not think any
calculation is to be relied on."

'On April 24th Labouchere wrote that Chamberlain and Morley could
not be got together, Chamberlain sticking to his phrases, and Morley
writing that Chamberlain's speech is an attempt to coerce the
Government, and they won't stand coercion.

'On April 30th Chamberlain wrote to me from Birmingham to get me to
vote with him against the second reading. "The Bill is doomed. I
have a list of 111 Liberals pledged against the second reading. Of
these I know that fifty-nine have publicly announced their
intentions to their constituents. I believe that almost all the rest
are certain; but making every allowance for desertions, the Home
Rule Bill cannot pass without the changes I have asked for. If these
were made, I reckon that at least fifty of the malcontents would
vote for the second reading. Besides my 111 there are many more who
intend to vote for amendments in Committee. The Land Bill has hardly
any friends;" and then he strongly pressed me to go down to Highbury
upon the subject.'

To this Sir Charles replied:


'_May Day_, 1886.

'My Dear Chamberlain,

'Lots of people have written to me, confident statements having been
made that I was against the Bills, which I see Heneage repeats in
the _Times_ to-day. I have replied that I was strongly against the
Bill for land purchase, but that as regards the chief Bill I had
said nothing, and was free to vote as I thought right when the time
came. I have called my caucus for Friday. We don't have reporters,
but I think I ought to tell them what I mean to do, and why.

'As to our being separated, I am most anxious, as you know, that you
should not vote against the second reading. I know the Bill is
doomed, but I fancy the Government know that, too, and that some
change will be made or promised, and it is a question of how much.
My difficulty in being one to _ask_ for those changes you want is
that I am against the chief change, as you know. If it is made--as
seems likely--I shall keep quiet and not say I am against it, but go
with you and the rest. But--what if it is not made? You see, I have
said over and over again that, if forced to have a big scheme, I had
sooner get rid of the Irish members, and that, if forced to choose
between Repeal and Federation, I prefer Repeal to any scheme of
Federation I have ever heard of. Now, all this I can swallow
quietly--yielding my own judgment--if I go with the party; but I
can't well fight against the party for a policy which is opposed to
my view of the national interest. If it is of any use that I should
remain free up to the last instant, I can manage this. I can explain
my views in detail to the caucus, and not say which way I intend to
vote; but I do not well see how, when it comes to the vote, I can
fail to vote for the second reading.

'The reason, as you know, why I am so anxious for YOU (which matters
more than I matter at present or shall for a long time) to find
yourself able if possible to take the offers made you, and vote for
the second reading, is that the dissolution will wreck the party,
but yet leave _a_ party--democratic, because all the moderates will
go over to the Tories: poor, because all the subscribers will go
over to the Tories; more Radical than the party has ever been; and
yet, as things now stand, with you outside of it.'

Chamberlain wrote on May 3rd from Highbury:

'My Dear Dilke,

'Your letter has greatly troubled me. My pleasure in politics has
gone, and I hold very loosely to public life just now.

'The friends with whom I have worked so long are many of them
separated from me. The party is going blindly to its ruin, and
everywhere there seems a want of courage and decision and principle
which almost causes one to despair. I have hesitated to write to you
again, but perhaps it is better that I should say what is in my
mind. During all our years of intimacy I have never had a suspicion,
until the last few weeks, that we differed on the Irish Question.
You voted for Butt, and I assumed that, like myself, you were in
favour of the principle of federation, although probably, like
myself also, you did not think the time had come to give practical
effect to it. The retention of the Irish representatives is clearly
the touchstone. If they go, separation must follow. If they remain,
federation is possible whenever local assemblies are established in
England and Scotland. Without the positive and absolute promise of
the Government that the Irish representation will be maintained, I
shall vote against the second reading. You must do what your
conscience tells you to be right, and, having decided, I should
declare the situation publicly at once.

'It will do you harm on the whole, but that cannot be helped, if you
have made up your mind that it is right. But you must be prepared
for unkind things said by those who know how closely we have been
united hitherto. The present crisis is, of course, life and death to
me. I shall win if I can, and if I cannot I will cultivate my
garden. I do not care for the leadership of a party which should
prove itself so fickle and so careless of national interests as to
sacrifice the unity of the Empire to the precipitate impatience of
an old man--careless of the future in which he can have no part--and
to an uninstructed instinct which will not take the trouble to
exercise judgment and criticism.

'I hope you have got well through your meeting to-night. I send this
by early post to-morrow before I can see the papers.

'Yours very truly,

'J. Chamberlain.'

'The meeting to which Chamberlain in his letter referred was that at
Preece's Riding School, in which I announced that I had succeeded in
inducing the Queen's Proctor to intervene.... The meeting was a very
fine one, and the next day Chamberlain wrote to congratulate me on
it and on my speech, and added: "Labouchere writes me that the
Government are at last alive to the fact that they cannot carry the
second reading without me, and that Mr. G. is going to give way. I
hope it is true, but I shall not believe it till he has made a
public declaration."'

Sir Charles replied:

'76, Sloane Street, S.W.,

'_Wednesday, May 5th_, 1886.

'My Dear Chamberlain,

'... It is a curious fact that we should without a difference have
gone through the trials of the years in which we were rivals, and
that the differences and the break should have come now that I
have--at least in my own belief, and that of most people--ceased for
ever to count at all in politics.... The fall was, as you know, in
my opinion final and irretrievable on the day on which the charge
was made in July last--as would be that, in these days, of any man
against whom such a false charge was made by conspiracy and careful
preparation. I think, as I have always thought, that the day will
come when all will know, but it will come too late for political
life to be resumed with power or real use....

'You say you never had a suspicion that we differed on the Irish
Question. As to land purchase--yes: we used to differ about it; and
we do not differ about the present Bill. As to the larger question--
when Morley and I talked it over with you in the autumn, I said
that, if I had to take a large scheme, I inclined rather to Repeal,
or getting rid of the Irish members, than to Home Rule. I don't
think, however, that I or you had either of us very clear or
definite views, and I am sure that Morley hadn't. You inclined to
stick to National Councils only, and I never heard you speak of
Federation until just before you spoke on the Bill in Parliament. I
spoke in public against Federation in the autumn in reply to

'I do not pretend to have clear and definite views now, any more
than I had then. I am so anxious, for you personally, and for the
Radical cause, that anything shall be done by the Government that
will allow you to vote for the second reading, and so succeed to the
head of the party purged of the Whig element; so anxious, that,
while I don't really see my way about Federation, and on the whole
am opposed to it, I will pretend to see my way, and try and find
hope about it; so anxious, that, though I still incline to think (in
great doubt) that it would be better to get rid of the Irish
members, I said in my last, I think, I would be silent as to this,
and joyfully see the Government wholly alter their scheme in your
sense. I still hope for the Government giving the promise that you
ask. Labouchere has kept me informed of all that has passed, and I
have strongly urged your view on Henry Fowler, who agrees with you,
and on the few who have spoken to me. I care (in great doubt as to
the future of Ireland and as to that of the Empire) more about the
future of Radicalism, and about your return to the party and escape
from the Whigs, than about anything else as to which I am clear and
free from doubt. I don't think that my circumstances make any
declaration or any act of mine necessary, and on Friday at the
private meeting I need not declare myself, and can perhaps best help
bring about the promise which you want by not doing so. Why don't
you deal with the Chancellor (Lord Herschell), instead of with
Labouchere, O'Shea, and so forth?

'I care so much (not about what you name, and it is a pity you
should do so, for one word of yourself is worth more with me than
the opinion of the whole world)--not about what people will say, but
about what you think, that I am driven distracted by your tone. I
beg you to think that I do not consider myself in this at all,
except that I should wish to so act as to act rightly. Personal
policy I should not consider for myself. My seat here will go,
either way, for certain, as it is a Tory seat now, and will become a
more and more Tory seat with each fresh registration. If I should
make any attempt to remain at all in political life, I do not think
that my finding another seat would depend on the course I take in
this present Irish matter. This thing will be forgotten in the
common resistance of the Radicals to Tory coercion. I think, then,
that by the nature of things I am not influenced by selfish
considerations. As to inclination, I feel as strongly as any man can
as to the _way_ in which Mr. Gladstone has done this thing, and all
my inclination is therefore to follow you, where affection also
leads. But if this is to be--what it will be--a fight, not as to the
way and the man, and the past, but as to the future, the second
reading will be a choice between acceptance of a vast change which
has in one form or the other become inevitable, and on the other
side Hartington-Goschen opposition, with coercion behind it. I am
only a camp follower now, but my place is not in the camp of the
Goschens, Hartingtons, Brands, Heneages, Greys. I owe something,
too, to my constituents. There can be no doubt as to the feeling of
the rank and file, from whom I have received such hearty support and
following. If I voted against the second reading, unable as I should
be honestly to defend my vote as you could and would honestly defend
yours, by saying that all turned on the promise as to the retention
of the Irish members, I should be voting without a ground or a
defence, except that of personal affection for you, which is one
which it is wholly impossible to put forward. If I voted against the
second reading, I should vote like a peer, with total disregard to
the opinion of those who sent me to Parliament. Their overwhelming
feeling--and they never cared for Mr. Gladstone, and do not care for
him--is, hatred of the Land Bill, but determination to have done
with coercion. They look on the second reading as a declaration for
or against large change. They believe that the Irish members will be
kept, though they differ as to whether they want it. Both you and I
regard large change as inevitable, and it is certain that as to the
form of it you must win. The exclusion of the Irish has no powerful
friends, save Morley, and he knows he is beaten and must give way. I
still in my heart think the case for the exclusion better than the
case against it, but all the talk is the other way. The _Pall Mall_
is helping you very powerfully, for it _is_ a tremendous power, and
even Mr. G., I fancy, is really with you about it, and not with
Morley. It seems to me that they must accept your own terms.

'The meeting was a most wonderful success.

'Yours ever,

'Chs. W. D.

'Since I nearly finished this, your other has come, and I have now
read it. I have only to repeat that I should not negotiate through
Labouchere, but through a member of the Cabinet of high character
who agrees in your view. L. is very able and very pleasant, but
still a little too fond of fun, which often, in delicate matters,
means mischief.

'I have kept no copy of this letter. When one has a "difference with
a friend," I believe "prudence dictates" that one should keep a
record of what one writes. I have not done so. I can't really
believe that you would, however worried and badgered and
misrepresented, grow hard or unkind under torture, any more than I
have; but you are stronger than I am, and perhaps my weakness helps
me in this way. I don't believe in the difference, and I have merely
scribbled all I think in the old way.'

Chamberlain wrote:

'_May 6th_, 1886.

'My Dear Dilke,

'The strain of the political situation is very great and the best
and strongest of us may well find it difficult to keep an even mind.

'I thank you for writing so fully and freely. It is evident that,
without meaning it, I must have said more than I supposed, and
perhaps in the worry of my own mind I did not allow enough for the
tension of yours.

'We never have been rivals. Such an idea has not at any time entered
my mind, and consequently, whether your position is as desperate as
you suppose or as completely retrievable as I hope and believe, it
is not from this point of view that I regard any differences, but
entirely as questions affecting our long friendship and absolute
mutual confidence. If we differ now at this supreme moment, it is
just as painful to me to lose your entire sympathy as if you could
bring to me an influence as great as Gladstone's himself.

'I feel bitterly the action of some of these men ... who have left
my side at this time, although many of them owe much to me, and
certainly cannot pretend to have worked out for themselves the
policy which for various reasons they have adopted. On the
whole--and in spite of unfavourable symptoms--I think I shall win
this fight, and shall have in the long-run an increase of public
influence; but even if this should be the case I cannot forget what
has been said and done by those who were among my most intimate
associates, and I shall never work with them again with the
slightest real pleasure or real confidence. With you it is
different. We have been so closely connected that I cannot
contemplate any severance. I hope, as I have said, that this
infernal cloud on your public life will be dispersed; and if it is
not I feel that half my usefulness and more--much more--than half my
interest in politics are gone.... As to the course to be taken, it
is clear. You must do what you believe to be right, even though it
sends us for once into opposite lobbies.

'I do not really expect the Government to give way, and, indeed, I
do not wish it. To satisfy others I have talked about conciliation,
and have consented to make advances, but on the whole I would rather
vote against the Bill than not, and the retention of the Irish
members is only, with me, the flag that covers other objections. I
want to see the whole Bill recast and brought back to the National
Council proposals, with the changes justified by the altered public
opinion. I have no objection to call them Parliaments and to give
them some legislative powers, but I have as strong a dislike as ever
to anything like a really co-ordinate authority in Ireland, and if
one is ever set up I should not like to take the responsibility of
governing England.

'I heartily wish I could clear out of the whole busine&s for the
next twelve months at least. I feel that there is no longer any
security for anything while Mr. Gladstone remains the foremost
figure in politics. But as between us two let nothing come.

'Yours ever sincerely,

'J. Chamberlain.'

'On May 7th Chamberlain wrote:

'"I hope it will all come right in the end, and though not so
optimist as I was, I do believe that 'le jour se fera.'

'"I got more names yesterday against the Bill. I have ninety-three
now. Labouchere declares still that Mr. G. means to give way, and
has now a plan for the retention of Irish members which is to go to
Cabinet to-day or to-morrow."

'On May 18th I presided at the special meeting of the London Liberal
and Radical Council, of which I was President, which discussed the
Home Rule Bill; but I merely presided without expressing opinions,
and I discouraged the denunciations of Hartington and Chamberlain,
which, however, began to be heard, their names being loudly hissed.
On May 27th we had the meeting of the party on the Bill at the
Foreign Office, which I attended. But there was no expression of the
views of the minority.'

Mr. Chamberlain wrote to the Press some phrases of biting comment
concerning the meeting of the 18th, and Sir Charles made protest in a
private letter.

'It is a great pity,' he wrote to Chamberlain, 'that you should not
have done justice to the efforts and speeches of your friends at
that meeting. Many were there (and the seven delegates from almost
every association attended, which made the meeting by far the most
complete representation of the party ever held) simply for the
purpose of preventing and replying to attacks on you. For every
attack on you there was a reply; the amendments attacking you were
both defeated, and a colourless resolution carried, and Claydon,
Osborn, Hardcastle and others, defended you with the utmost warmth
and vigour.'

'Chamberlain wrote to me (May 20th, 1886) about the attacks which
were being made on him:

'"I was disgusted at the brutality of some of the attacks. I am only
human, and I cannot stand the persistent malignity of interpretation
of all my actions and motives without lashing out occasionally. You
will see that I met your letter with an apology. I might complain of
its tone, but I don't. This strain and tension is bad for all of us.
I do not know where it will ultimately lead us, but I fear that the
mischief already done is irretrievable.

'"I shall fight this matter out to the bitter end, but I am getting
more and more doubtful whether, when it is out of the way, I shall
continue in politics. I am 'wounded in the house of my friends,' and
I have lost my interest in the business."

'In another letter (May 21st) Chamberlain said: "Your note makes
everything right between us. Let us agree to consider everything
which is said and done for the next few weeks as a dream.

'"I suppose the party must go to smash and the Tories come in. After
a few years those of us who remain will be able to pick up the
pieces. It is a hard saying, but apparently Mr. Gladstone is bent on
crowning his life by the destruction of the most devoted and loyal
instrument by which a great Minister was ever served." [Footnote: In
a letter of January 2nd, 1886, Lord Hartington, writing to Lord
Granville, said: "Did any leader ever treat a party in such a way as
he (Mr. Gladstone) has done?" (_Life of Granville_, vol. ii., p.

'On June 2nd Chamberlain wrote: "I suppose we shall have a
dissolution immediately and an awful smash." On that day I spoke on
the Irish Registration Bills in the House of Commons--almost the
only utterance which I made in the course of this short Parliament.

'On June 4th Sir Robert Sandeman, who had sought an interview with
me to thank me for what I had done previously about the assigned
districts on the Quetta frontier, came to see me, to tell me the
present position and to discuss with me Sir Frederick Roberts's
plans for defence against the eventuality of a Russian advance.'

The defeat of the Home Rule Bill by a majority of thirty came on June
8th, and the General Election followed. [Footnote: See Morley's _Life of
Gladstone_, vol. iii., p. 337, which gives one o'clock on the morning of
the 8th as the time of decision. Sir Charles's Memoir contains among its
pages an article from _Truth_ of October 14th, 1908, marked by him. The
article, which is called 'The Secret History of the First Home Rule
Bill,' states that Mr. Gladstone's language did not make clear that the
proposal to exclude Irish representatives from the Imperial Parliament
was given up. Mr. Chamberlain, who had made the retention of the Irish
members a condition of giving his vote for the second reading, left the
House, declaring that his decision to vote against the Bill was final.
The _Life of Labouchere_, by Algar Thorold, chap, xii., p. 272 _et
seq_., gives the long correspondence between Mr. Chamberlain and Mr.
Labouchere prior to this event.] Sir Charles voted for the Bill.

'On July 5th I was beaten at Chelsea, and so left Parliament in
which I had sat from November, 1868.

'The turn-over in Chelsea was very small, smaller than anywhere else
in the neighbourhood, and showed that personal considerations had
told in my favour, inasmuch as we gained but a small number of
Irish, it not being an Irish district, and had it not been for
personal considerations should have lost more Liberal Unionists than
we did.

'Some of my warmest private and personal friends were forced to work
and vote against me (on the Irish Question), as, for example, John
Westlake, Q.C., and Dr. Robert Cust, the learned Secretary of the
Royal Asiatic Society, and Sir Henry Gordon--General Charles
Gordon's brother--who soon afterwards died, remaining my strong
friend, as did these others.

'James wrote to Lady Dilke, July 26th:

'"No one but your husband could have polled so many Gladstonian
votes. London is dead against the Prime Minister."'

Mr. Chamberlain wrote of his deep regret and sympathy that the one
Ministerialist seat which he had earnestly hoped would be kept should
have gone. He pointed out that the falling off in this case was less
than in other London polls; but the reactionary period would continue
while Mr. Gladstone was in politics. If he retired, Mr. Chamberlain
thought the party would recover in a year or two.

There is a warm letter from Mr. Joseph Cowen of Newcastle, who wrote:

'Chelsea has been going Tory for some time past, and only you would
have kept it Liberal at the last election.... If you had not been
one of the bravest men that ever lived, you would have been driven
away long ago. I admire your courage and sincerely sympathize with
your misfortunes.... I always believed you would achieve the highest
position in English statesmanship, and I don't despair of your doing
so still.'

For a final word in this chapter of discouragement may be given a letter
from Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, who wrote from a detached position, having
been prevented by illness from standing both in 1885 and 1886:

'What a delightful leader of a party is the G.O.M.! It is an
interesting subject of speculation, though, thank God, it is one of
speculation only, what might happen to this country if, like the old
Red Indian in Hawthorne's novel, he lived to be 300 years old.... My
own opinions about setting up a Parliament in Dublin are quite
unchanged, but I look on the G.O.M. as the great obstacle to any
satisfactory settlement. I see nothing but pandemonium ahead of us.'

The question was whether the future Assembly in Dublin was to be called
a 'Legislature' or a 'Parliament.'

Sir Charles, as a Gladstonian Liberal politician, was involved in the
misfortune of his party. But in the first weeks of July he hoped that
justice in the court of law might soon relieve his personal misfortunes.
That anticipation was rudely falsified. Within a fortnight after he had
lost the seat which had been won and held by him triumphantly in four
General Elections, the second trial of his case was over, and had
followed the course which has been already described.



Sir Charles Dilke's marriage in 1885 extended rather than modified his
sphere of work. Lady Dilke, the Emilia Strong who was studying drawing
in 1859 at South Kensington, [Footnote: See Chapter 11. (Vol. 1., p.
17).] had submitted herself in these long intervening years to such
scholarly training and discipline as gave her weight and authority on
the subjects which she handled.

The brilliant girl's desire to take all knowledge for her kingdom had
been intensified by her marriage at twenty-one to the scholar more than
twice her age. In the words of Sir Charles's Memoir: 'She widened her
conception of art by the teaching of the philosopher and by the study of
the literatures to which the schooling of Mark Pattison admitted her.
She saw, too, men and things, travelled largely with him, became
mistress of many tongues, and gained above all a breadth of desire for
human knowledge, destined only to grow with the advance of years.'
[Footnote: _The Book of the Spiritual Life_, by the late Lady Dilke,
with a Memoir of the Author by Sir Charles W. Dilke, p. 18.]

At twenty-five years of age she was contributing philosophical articles
to the _Westminster Review_, and for years she wrote the review of
foreign politics for the _Annual Register_. Later she furnished art
criticisms to the _Portfolio_, the _Saturday Review_, and the _Academy_,
of which last she was art editor. It was as an art critic that she had
come to be known, and to this work she brought a remarkable equipment;
for to her technical knowledge and artist's training was added a deep
study of the tendencies of history and of human thought. _Art in the
Modern State_, in which she wrote of the art of the 'Grand Siecle' in
its bearing on modern political and social organizations, has been
quoted as the book most characteristic of the philosophical tendency of
her writing, but this did not appear till 1888. The _Renaissance of Art
in France_, which had been published in 1879, was illustrated by
drawings from her own pencil, and in 1884 had appeared _Claude Lorrain_,
written by herself in the pure and graceful French of which she was

She had been a pupil of Mulready, whose portrait still decorates the
mantelpiece of her Pyrford home, and in the early South Kensington days
had come much under the influence of Watts and Ruskin. There were
numbered among her friends many who had achieved distinction in the art,
literature, or politics of Europe. Her letters on art to Eugene Muentz,
preserved in the Manuscript Department of the Bibliotheque Nationale,
commemorate the friendship and assistance given to her by the author of
the _History of the Italian Renaissance_, whose admiration for her work
made him persuade her to undertake her _Claude_. It was Taine who bore
witness to her 'veritable erudition on the fine arts of the
Renaissance,' when in 1871, lecturing in Oxford, he used to visit Mark
Pattison and his young wife at Lincoln College, and described the 'toute
jeune femme, charmante, gracieuse, a visage frais et presque mutin, dans
le plus joli nid de vieille architecture, avec lierre et grands arbres.'
[Footnote: 'The Art Work of Lady Dilke,' _Quarterly Review_, October,
1906.] It was Renan, a friend of later years, whom as yet she did not
know, who 'presented' her _Renaissance_ to the Academie des Inscriptions
et Belles-Lettres.

But there was another side to her activities, as intense. Public service
was to her a duty of citizenship, and her keen sympathy with suffering
had inspired her to such study of economic and industrial questions
that, in her effort for the development of organization among women
workers, she was for years 'the practical director of a considerable
social movement.' Her four volumes on Art in France in the Eighteenth
Century, which occupied her from this time onwards, were not more
absorbing to her than was the growth of the Women's Trade Union League.

She had concentrated her powers on a special period of French art, just
as she concentrated them on a certain phase of industrial development;
but her reverence for and pursuit of all learning persisted, and, in the
words of the Memoir written by Sir Charles, 'she was master enough of
human knowledge in its principal branches to know the relation of almost
every part of it to every other.' [Footnote: _Book of the Spiritual
Life,_ Memoir, p. 70.]

The intense mental training of the years of her first marriage had given
her a grasp of essential facts and a breadth of outlook most unusual in
women, and rare among men. She always correlated her own special work to
that of the larger world. She found in the Women's Protective and
Provident Union a little close corporation, full of sex antagonism and
opposition to legislative protection, but under her sway these
limitations gradually disappeared, and the Women's Trade Union movement
became an integral part of industrial progress. It is difficult to
realize now the breadth of vision which was then required to see that
the industrial interests of the sexes are identical, and that protective
legislation does not hamper, but emancipates. It was this attitude which
brought to her in this field of work the friendship and support of all
that was best in the Labour world of her day henceforth to the end.

'It is delightful to talk to Mrs. Mark Pattison,' said Sir Charles Dilke
years before to Sir Henry James. 'She says such wonderful things.' She
had the rare power of revealing to others by a few words things in their
true values, and those who came within the sphere of her influence try
still to recover the attitude of mind which she inspired, to remember
how she would have looked at the fresh problems which confront them, and
to view them in relation to all work and life.

It was this knowledge and breadth of view which told. A perfect speaker,
with tremendous force of personality, charm of manner, beauty of voice,
and command of emotional oratory, her power was greatest when she
preferred to these methods the force of a reasoned appeal. Conviction
waited on these appeals, and in early days, at a public meeting, a group
of youthful cynics, 'out' for entertainment, dispersed with the comment:
'That was wonderful--you couldn't heckle a woman like that.'

Her serious work never detracted from her social charm, which was
influenced by her love and study of eighteenth century French art. Her
wit, gaiety, and the sensitive fancy which manifested itself in her
stories, [Footnote: _The Shrine of Love, and Other Stories_; and _The
Shrine of Death, and Other Stories_.] made up this charm, which was
reflected in the distinction and finish of her appearance. Some touches
seemed subtly to differentiate her dress from the prevailing fashion,
and to make it the expression of a personality which belonged to a
century more dignified, more leisured, and less superficial, than our
own. [Footnote: _Book of the Spiritual Life,_ p. 120.] Her dress
recalled the canvases of Boucher, Van Loo, and Watteau, which she loved.

She played as she worked, with all her heart, delivering herself
completely to the enjoyment of the moment. 'Vous devez bien vous amuser,
Monsieur, tous les jours chez vous,' said a Frenchwoman to Sir Charles
one night at a dinner in Paris. [Footnote: _Book of the Spiritual Life,_
Memoir, p. 96.] In this power of complete relaxation their natures
coincided. Her gaiety matched Sir Charles's own. This perhaps was the
least of the bonds between them. The same high courage, the same
capacity for tireless work, the same sense of public duty, characterized

Sir Charles's real home was the home of all his life, of his father and
grandfather--No. 76, Sloane Street. Pyrford and Dockett were, like La
Sainte Campagne at Toulon, mainly places for rest and play. This home
was a house of treasures--of many things precious in themselves, and
more that were precious to the owners from memory and association.
Through successive generations one member of the family after another
had added to the collection. Many had been accumulated by the last
owner, who slept always in the room that had been his nursery. He
believed he would die, and desired to die, in the house where he was
born. The desire was accomplished, for he died there, on January 26th,
1911, a few months before the long lease expired.

Partly from its dull rich colouring of deep blues and reds and greens,
its old carpets and tapestries, partly from the pictures that crowded
its walls, the interior had the air rather of a family country-house
than of a London dwelling in a busy street.

Pictures, lining the walls from top to bottom of the staircase,
represented a medley of date and association. Byng's Fleet at Naples on
August 1st, 1718, with Sir Thomas Dilkes second in command, hung next to
a view of the Chateau de la Garde, near Toulon. This picturesque ruin
rose clear in the view from Sir Charles's house at Cap Brun, 'La Sainte
Campagne,' and figures as an illustration in one of Lady Dilke's
stories; 'Reeds and Umbrella Pines' at Carqueiranne, by Pownoll
Williams, kept another memory of Provence. Next to a painting, by Horace
Vernet, of a scene on the Mediterranean coast, little Anne Fisher, born
1588, exhibited herself in hooped and embroidered petticoat, quaint cap
and costly laces, a person of great dignity at six years old. She was to
be Lady Dilke of Maxstoke Castle and a shrewd termagant, mother of two
sons who sided, one with the Commonwealth, the other with the King. The
Royalist Sir Peter Wentworth was a great friend of Milton, with whom he
came in contact on the Committee of State when Milton was Secretary for
the Council of Foreign Tongues. But Cromwell turned him off the Council,
and he was arrested and brought to London for abetting his Warwickshire
tenantry in refusal to pay the Protector's war-taxes. Her Puritan son,
Fisher Dilke, followed, with a sour-faced Puritan divine, and then came
a group of water-colours by Thomas Hood, the author of 'The Song of the
Shirt,' and an intimate friend of the Dilkes.

One of the ancestors, an earlier Peter Wentworth, son of Sir Nicholas
Wentworth (who was Chief Porter of Calais, and knighted by Henry VIII.
at the siege of Boulogne), bore the distinction of having been three
times sent to the Tower. The first was for a memorable speech on behalf
of the liberties of the House of Commons, in 1575. Imprisonment does not
seem to have taught him caution, for he was last imprisoned in 1593,
because he had 'offended Her Majesty,' and a prisoner he remained till
his death in 1596, occupying the period by writing a _Pithie Exhortation
to Her Majesty for Establishing her Successor to the Crowne_.

Engravings of Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Harry Vane,
Fulk Greville, Lord Burleigh, William Warham (the friend of Erasmus,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chancellor), Queen Katharine Parr, Robert
Devereux (Earl of Essex), who all came into the Dilke pedigree, hung on
the walls. But the most interesting portrait might have been that of Sir
Charles himself in fancy dress, the Sir Charles of the early eighties
before trouble had lined his face or silvered his hair. This was the
painting of Sir Thomas, afterwards Lord Wentworth, who died in 1551 and
lies in Westminster Abbey. The reversion to type was so striking that
guests would often ask to see again 'the best portrait of Sir Charles.'
[Footnote: This first Baron Wentworth had been knighted for his bravery
in the taking of Braye and Montdidier in the expedition to France of
1523, and in 1529 was summoned to Parliament under the title of Lord
Wentworth of Nettlestead. He attended Henry VIII. in his interview with
the French King at Calais, and under Edward VI. was Lord Chamberlain of
the Household and a member of the Privy Council.]

Among more recent portraits and drawings were a group of trophies,
illustrating Sir Charles's experiences in the Franco-German War. Of
three passes, the first was carried when he was with the Crown Prince
Frederick and the Knights of St. John; the other two showed the change
in his sympathies from Germany to France--one from the Commune, the
other from the national headquarters at Versailles. Here lay a bullet
which struck the wall beside him at Clamart Railway Station, just
missing him; pens taken from the table of the Procureur Imperial at
Wissembourg when the first French town was entered by the Germans; and a
trophy of his birthday in 1871, a bit of the Napoleonic Eagle from the
Guard-room at the Tuileries, smashed by the crowd on that day, September
4th, when the Third Republic was proclaimed.

Then followed old photographs of members of Parliament and Cabinet
Ministers; pictures of Maxstoke Castle, where the elder branch of the
Dilkes had its home; etchings by Rajon; framed numbers of _Le Vengeur_,
printed after the entry of the Versailles army into Paris during the
'semaine sang-lante'; addresses, including some in Greek, presented to
Sir Charles on various occasions. In the double dining-room a famous
portrait of Gambetta--the only portrait taken from life--hung over one
mantelpiece. A favourite citation might have been upon the lips: 'La
France etait a genoux. Je lui ai dit, "Leve-toi".' In 1875 Sir Charles
asked Professor Legros to go to Paris and paint Gambetta, who never sat
to any other artist. This portrait hangs now in the Luxembourg, and will
ultimately be transferred to the Louvre, its destination by Sir
Charles's bequest. The only other portrait of Gambetta is that by
Bonnat, painted after death. It was the property of Dilke's friend M.
Joseph Reinach, and the two had agreed to bequeath these treasured
possessions to the Louvre. But the Legros was the more authentic. M.
Bonnat said to Sir Charles: 'Mine is black and white; I never saw him.
Yours is red as a lobster. Mais il parait qu'il etait rouge comme un
homard.' Sir Charles himself wrote: 'It is Gambetta as he lives and
moves and has his being. What more can I ask for or expect?' He always
predicted that its painter, whose merit had never in his opinion been
adequately recognized, would after death come to his due place.

The rooms had been lined with the grandfather's books, but soon after he
came into possession Sir Charles disposed of them. He had a strong
belief in keeping round him only the necessary tools for his work, and a
large library was an encumbrance to him. But sentiment was strong, and
for some time they remained, till a comment of George Odger's sealed
their fate. Looking round the shelves, he remarked with wonderment on
the number of the books and the wisdom of the friend who had read them
all. Sir Charles, conscious that he had not done so, and that he never
should lead the life of a purely literary man, gave away the more
valuable, and sold the rest of the collection. Lord Carlingford profited
by the Junius papers; Mr. John Murray by the Pope manuscripts; the
British Museum by the Caryll papers; and pictures took the place of
shelves. [Footnote: See Chapter XI. (Vol. I., pp. 161, 162).]

A number of fine old prints after Raphael were there, and also a
photograph of the head of Fortune in Burne-Jones's 'Wheel.' Sir Charles
had commissioned Burne-Jones to paint a head of Fortune, and the
correspondence on the subject was sufficiently complete to suggest that
the commission had been executed, though as a fact it was never carried
out. Sir Charles, who knew something of the difficulty of tracing and
attributing pictures, used to declare laughingly that the correspondence
might go far to mislead some critic of the future into search after a
non-existent original. Anyway, the beautiful head with its closed eyes
hung there always, presiding over the varying fortunes of the last
tenants of the house.

The far dining-room opened with French windows on a paved terrace, which
led by steps to a little garden and to the stables beyond. This terrace
was the scene of the morning fencing, when the clashing of foils and Sir
Charles's shouts of laughter resounded to the neighbouring gardens. Lord
Harcourt recalls the parties in the eighties, as one of the
characteristic features of life at 76, Sloane Street. Lord Desborough,
then Mr. W. Grenfell, a first-rate fencer, came frequently, and he
chronicles the 'deadly riposte' of Sir Julian Pauncefote, a regular
attendant when he was in town. Mr. R. C. Lehmann, best known as oarsman
and boxer, but a fencer as well, came whenever he could. A great St.
Bernard, lying waiting for him in the entrance hall, announced his
master's presence.

Baron d'Estournelles de Constant, of the French Embassy, was one of the
most regular attendants. When M. d'Estournelles left London it was to go
to Tunis; and further reference in one of Sir Charles's letters betrays
the pride with which he learnt that this frequenter of his school had
done it credit by 'pinking his man' in a duel. M. Joseph Reinach came to
fence whenever he was in London; so did Italian masters--for example,
the Marchese Fabrizio Panluoci de' Calboli, 'who wants to set up here.'

The _maitre d'armes_ was senior master at the London Fencing Club, and
many young fencers joined these parties to gain experience. Sir Charles
was one of the first Englishmen to use the epee; he fenced always when
in Paris, as in London, and any famous French fencer who visited this
country received as a matter of course an invitation to the morning
meetings at No. 76. [Footnote: Sir Charles fenced whenever he was
abroad, if he could get an opponent. There is a note of 1881: 'August
29th-September 3rd, fenced with de Clairval at La Bourboule.' As late as
1907 he was fencing at Hyeres with a master who came over from Toulon on
certain days in the week. Also at the end of 1881 he 'started a local
fencing club in my own street, and trained some good fencers there, and
used to get away to fence there whenever I could find time in the
evening hours.' He took part in a competition at this club, and 'won the
prize for rapier fencing, being beaten, of course, for foil fencing.']
Sir Theodore Cook, now editor of the _Field_, an antagonist of a later
date, and captain of the first international fencing team of 1903,
speaks of the considerable reputation of Sir Charles as a fencer,
'taking the same place in a quiet way as that Lord Howard de Walden
takes towards the public now' (1913).

It was the 'unconventional style and the boyish enjoyment of his
pastime'--to use Lord Desborough's words--which were characteristic of
Sir Charles. His mischievous attempts to distract his adversary's
attention, his sudden drops to the ground and bewildering recoveries,
his delight at the success of his feints, and contagious merriment, must
have gained the sympathy of even the most formal fencer. Many stories of
these bouts are told. One is that, having driven an antagonist from the
terrace into the Garden Room, into which he was followed by his
favourite cat, Sir Charles caught up and threw the protesting animal at
his opponent, and dealt his final blow at a foe embarrassed by the
double onslaught. Those, however, who know his respect for the dignity
of cats will always regard the story as apocryphal.

He delighted in having near him the pictures of his friends, and there
were many on the next landing, in the vestibule and the Blue Room to
which it led. Mr. Chamberlain, keen-eyed and alert, looked out from
Frank Holl's canvas. Fawcett, [Footnote: Now in the National Portrait
Gallery, as also Holl's 'Chamberlain,' by Sir Charles's bequest.]
painted by Ford Madox Brown in 1871, recalled an earlier friendship, as
did the portrait of John Stuart Mill, who, never having sat to any
painter, just before his death allowed Watts to paint this for Sir
Charles. The picture came home on the day Mill died, and is the
original. It was left by will to the Westminster Town Hall. The picture
in the National Portrait Gallery is a replica, painted by Sir Charles's
leave. By Watts was also a beautiful portrait of Sir Charles himself,
the pendant to another which has gone. He and his first wife were
painted for each other, but the portrait of her seemed to him so
inadequately to render the 'real charm' of the dead woman that he
destroyed it. The illustrations of this book contain some reproductions
of pictures mentioned here.

Reminiscent of earlier family friendships were the Keats relics here and
in Sir Charles's own study. Many of these had been bought by old Mr.
Dilke from Keats's love, Fanny Brawne, to save them from the indignity
of an auction.

In the Blue Room also hung some extraordinarily fine pictures by Blake,
who was the friend of Sir Charles's grandfather--among them 'The
Crucifixion,' 'The Blasphemer,' and 'The Devil,' [Footnote: 'I gave four
of my Blakes to the South Kensington Museum in 1884.'] The best loved
both by the grandfather and by Sir Charles was the beautiful 'Queen
Catherine's Dream.' A precious copy of _The Songs of Innocence_,
hand-painted by Blake and his wife, completed the collection. There were
several reliefs by Dalou in the house, the finest let in over the
mantelpiece of the Blue Room, a copy of Flaxman's Mercury and Pandora.
They were executed for Sir Charles when the sculptor was in London in
great distress after the Commune, before the amnesty which retrieved his

Here also were reminiscences of Provence. One side of the wall was
largely covered by a picture of Frejus by Wislin, painted in the days
when St. Raphael and Valescure did not exist, and when the old town rose
clear from the low ground as Rome rises from the Campagna, the beautiful
Roquebrune, a spur of Sir Charles's beloved Mountains of the Moors,
behind it. Sevres china, vases, bronzes, filled the window ledges,
presents to the first Baronet from the Emperor of Austria, Napoleon
III., the Crown Prince of Prussia (afterwards the Emperor Frederick),
and other royal persons and Governments, with whom his Exhibition work
brought him into touch.

At the time when Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill was
sold, Sir Charles's grandfather had stayed at Twickenham, and had
brought away many purchases, which peopled the Red and Green
Drawing-rooms on the next landing. There was a little group of
miniatures in which the 'Beautiful Gunnings' and a charming 'Miss
Temple' figured; in another group, miniatures of Addison, of Mme. Le
Brun, of Moliere, came from Lady Morgan, whose pen of bog-oak and gold,
a gift to her from the Irish people, hung in Sir Charles's own study.
The best of the miniatures were those by Peter Oliver, and portrayed
Frederick of Bohemia, Elector Palatine, and his wife Elizabeth, Princess
Royal of England, afterwards married to Lord Craven; while the finest of
all was 'a son of Sir Kenelm Digby, 1632.' It was one of 'several
others' which Walpole 'purchased at a great price,' a purchase which was
thus chronicled 'by Mason (Junius) in a letter to Walpole: 'I
congratulate you on the new miniatures, though I know one day they will
become Court property and dangle under the crimson-coloured shop-glasses
of our gracious Queen Charlotte.' The set were all brought together for
the first time since 1842 at the Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition.

In these two drawing-rooms, among the medley of enamelled and inlaid
tables, royal gifts and collectors' purchases, pictures by Cranach,
Mabuse, Van Goyen, Mignard, and many more, some special objects stood
out. These were a beautiful Madonna by Memling, on a circular panel,
from Lord Northwick's collection; the Strawberry Hill marble version of
the famous Bargello relief by Donatello, of the head of the infant St.
John the Baptist; and a portrait ascribed to Cornelius Jansen, which,
owing to the fleurs-de-lis on the chair, passed by the name of 'the
Duchess,' a portly lady of some dignity, with beautiful white hands and
tapering fingers. Lady Dilke's researches, however, placed the lady as
Anne Dujardin, an innkeeper of Lyons. The painter, young Karl Dujardin,
unable to pay his reckoning, had settled it by marrying his hostess and
taking her to Amsterdam, and the fleurs-de-lis on the chair explained
that the lady was of French extraction. A Flemish head of Margaret of
Austria, Regent of the Netherlands, had come from the Gwydyr Collection.
She was much exhibited, but her main interest was due to Sir Charles's
intense admiration for the governing capacity and the overshadowed life
of the woman. He made two pilgrimages to the church at Brou, near
Bourg-en-Bresse, where her sculptured face, closely resembling that of
the portrait, looks out from tomb and windows, as she lies side by side
with Philibert le Beau, the husband of her love and of her youth, in the
magnificent shrine she built for him.

Tapestry hangings divided the rooms from each other, and in many cases
only heavy curtains divided them from the stairs.

Above these rooms, Sir Charles's little study, occupied all day by his
secretary or himself, was lined with books of reference and piles of
despatch-boxes, while every spare foot on the wall held relics of the
past. There was the Herkomer portrait of his second wife, there also a
copy of a favourite picture, Bellini's Doge Leonardo Loredano; the
portrait of Keats, the only one Severn did from the life--now on loan at
the National Portrait Gallery--old political cartoons of Chelsea days,
portraits and prints of John Wilkes, and a head of Mazzini. Felix
Moscheles (the nephew of Mendelssohn and baby of the Cradle Song)
painted Mazzini. Concerning its subject the Memoir notes: 'In the course
of 1872 I lost a good friend in Mazzini, whose enthusiasms, Italian and
religious, I at that time scarcely shared, but whose conversation and
close friendship I deeply valued.... The modernness of the Universal
Cigarette Smoking Craze may be judged by the fact that Mazzini was the
first man I ever knew who was constantly smoking cigarettes.'

The rest was a medley impossible to catalogue: portraits of Charles
Lamb, who had been the grandfather's friend; a scarce proclamation by
the Pretender; medals and other 'Caryll' relics; rapiers, pistols which
had travelled with Sir Charles through America; a section of the Trinity
Hall boat which was head of the river in 1862 and 1864; seven cups,
trophies of rowing, walking, fencing, and shooting matches, with shots
dug up on his Toulon estate which were mementoes of the British
blockades of the town. Apart from works of reference, a special case was
given to autographed books from Hood, Rogers the poet, Gambetta,
Laveleye, Louis Blanc, Castelar, Cardinal Manning, Queen Victoria, and
many more. In this collection figured all Sir Charles's college prizes,
carefully preserved; the family Bible of Lord Leicester, uncle to Sir
Philip Sidney, with Dilke family entries; and a little volume in which
his second wife had written for him some of the most beautiful passages
from 'Queens' Gardens' in _Sesame and Lilies_; it was bound in white
vellum and 'blessed by Ruskin.' Here, too, were many Keats letters and
books afterwards left by will to Hampstead.

A hoard of treasures filled a little book-room above--his mother's
sketches, drawings of his first wife driving her ponies in Sloane
Street, photographs and trinkets of hers, old family caricatures, and
also some original sketches by Leech. In the room next to it, occupied
by his grandmother till her death in 1882, was a John Collier of the
first Lady Dilke.

When the grandmother's sitting-room was used later by Sir Charles's
second wife, its main features were a small reference library of French
art and a collection of books on Labour. Before the fireplace, on the
writing-table as it was in 1885, were bowls of French porcelain filled
once a week with fresh flowers from the Toulon garden--paper white
narcissus and purple anemones or big violets of Provencal growth.

Sir Charles's bedroom above was the old nursery, connected with his
mother's room, in which he was born, and out of which opened a little
room where as a child he slept. His memories of that room were the
terrors of a nervous boy, lying alone in the dark, creeping downstairs
to sit--a tiny white-robed figure--as near as possible to the
drawing-room door, to get comfort from the hum of talk or thunder of the
four-handed piano pieces of the period.

His own room for many years was full of drawings by his second wife--her
studies under Mulready, her drawings for her _Renaissance_, and other
pen-and-ink sketches by her hand, as well as two miniatures of her by
Pollet. Some of Frank Dicey's Thames water-colours, one showing Sir
Charles's river house at Dockett Eddy, and sketches from his own pen or
brush made in his Russian, American, and world-wide wanderings, were
here also. In a tiny glazed bookcase by the fire were some 'favourite
books,' a volume or two of Kipling, two volumes of Anatole France, next
to a cookery book of 1600, Renan's _Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse_,
and a volume of Aubanel. The place of honour was given to a deeply
scored copy of Jeremy Taylor's _Golden Grove_.

Beside his great-uncle's Peninsular medal and clasps hung one of Roty's
medals, a present from the artist. There were several of Roty's
beautiful medallions in the house, the finest one of Sir Charles
himself, explained by the legend on the back as 'done for his wife.' She
had it made, and it was always with her.

There were a good many of W. E. F. Britten's pictures, painted for Sir
Charles; the finest was that of 'St. Francis preaching to the Birds,' a
thing of delicate colour and taste, which fitted with his love of the
Umbrian Holy Land and went later to the country cottage at Pyrford.
There was more force in a large crayon drawing of the Earl of
Southampton in the Tower: 'his cat had just arrived down the chimney,
probably saving his master's reason by relief of the intolerable tension
of lonely confinement.'

The painted cats, or Miss Chaplin's modelled pussies, of which there
were many, were seldom without some magnificent living representative at
76, Sloane Street. Zulu, an enormous dark long-haired cat, was very
popular; but the last of the 'Head Cats,' Calino, was so engaging that,
at his death about 1908, Sir Charles decided that he should never be
replaced. The sway of these cats was despotic, but there were occasions
on which their own territory was too limited for them, and messages
would come from far down the street demanding the removal of the
reigning favourite from some article of furniture where it had ensconced
itself with such majesty that a show of violence was out of the
question. Among his precious books was a cat story--privately printed
and bound--which his second wife had gradually evolved among the
wonderful essays in story-telling with which, when he was jaded, she
diverted him. This held so large a share in his affection that it nearly
displaced his little French copy of the _Contes de Perrault_, containing
the adventures of the Marquis of Carabas and Puss in Boots. At the
winter cottage at Pyrford, among the pines, was a cattery, where Persian
tailless cats, some ginger and some white, were bred. A list of names
was kept ready for them, and Babettes, Papillons, Pierrots and
Pierrettes, Mistigrises and Beelzebubs, were distributed to friends and
acquaintances. Among the treasured pathetic scraps kept in his father's
desk, his executors found a pencil drawing by his wife, the closed
window of a silent house, into which the perfectly sketched figure of a
little kitten was trying to enter.

In the gracious setting of this house the pervading atmosphere was that
of work. The three generations of Dilkes whom it had sheltered had each
found the sphere for which he was best fitted, and pursued it
tirelessly. The grandfather, beloved old scholar and critic; the father,
indefatigable organizer of international exhibitions, horticulturist,
newspaper proprietor, member of Parliament--both passed on the
traditions of strenuous labour to the great Parliamentarian who was now
the occupant of the house. He had absorbed those traditions and far
outvied his predecessors, working day and night, bringing down from his
bedroom almost illegible memoranda to be deciphered by his secretary in
the morning.

From 1880 to 1885 his accession to public office had intensified the
work. Messengers with official boxes waited in the hall; callers on
political or electoral business, to be interviewed by him or his
secretaries, filled the Blue and Red Rooms. After the morning's fencing
he passed rapidly from letters to interviews till the Office or the
House of Commons claimed him, and his faithful coachman, Charles Grant,
who when he died in 1901 had served his master for thirty years, waited
for him at the door. Yet with all this the house continued, as in his
father's day, to be noted for its hospitality, and the lists of guests
in the tattered diaries bear witness to the enormous and varied circle
of Sir Charles's friends. Here met foreign diplomatists and artists,
English statesmen, and men of letters. Even Cardinal Manning broke his
rule against dining out, as 'yours is a Cabinet dinner,' to come to 76,
Sloane Street; but as he met M. de Franqueville, Baron Ferdinand de
Rothschild, and the friend whom the Cardinal designated to be his
biographer, the future author of _France_, J. E. C. Bodley, there must
have been talk of other subjects than 'Housing of the Poor.' Indeed,
absence of 'shop' seems to have been one of the charms of these dinners,
and Mr. G. W. Osborn, the Chairman of the Chelsea Liberal Association,
records that, even when the local leaders met there, some outside
element was always introduced which made the talk general.

On another occasion Sir Charles notes: 'July 9th, 1884. On this day
Cardinal Manning dined with me, and gave me, in return for a Spanish
crucifix with which I had presented him, a miniature of "our patron, St.
Charles,"' which now, he adds, '(1891 and 1903) hangs in my bedroom.
Manning and H. von Bismarck met at my table--I think for the first

His first invitation to Mr. Gladstone, of October 26th, 1882, was to
meet the Duc de Broglie: 'the leader of the Conservative party in France
is at this moment a sufficiently interesting figure for me to think you
may like to come to meet him, if you are not engaged.'

Such social life, like the morning's rapid turn with the foils or the
Sunday afternoon on the river, helped to save him from breakdown under a
strain of work persistently intense. Another quality which saved him was
his power of turning at once and completely from one occupation to

A friend thus describes him as he appeared in 1885: 'There was in him a
quality of boyishness I have never seen in any other man, coupled with
deep gravity and seriousness, and the transition from one mood to the
other came with lightning rapidity. Appeal to him on some question of
high politics, even at a moment of the most joyous relaxation, and his
face gravened, his bearing changed; he pulled himself together with a
trick of manner habitual to the end, and the 'boy' became the statesman
before it seemed the last echoes of his laughter had died away. We all
prophesied for him accession to the highest offices of the State; for
though so far the offices which he had held had been of but minor rank,
yet he had magnified these offices till they became of the first
importance, and his knowledge and authority were as great as were his
charm and his power of gathering round him supporters and friends. He
spoke with the authority of one who knows his value to the nation which
he serves.'

So with Sir Charles's second marriage the house entered on its last
phase, and the dark days which followed were lightened for its two
occupants by mutual confidence and the support of an abiding love.



After a brief stay at Royat, whither doctor's orders had sent Lady
Dilke, Sir Charles returned with her, in September, 1886, to the little
riverside cottage at Dockett. Thence, as autumn drew on, they moved to
the other cottage that had been built among the pines on the sandy ridge
near Woking.

No longer having a seat in the House of Commons, Sir Charles again
resumed the pen, by which he had first gained distinction.

In the English home politics of 1887, the Irish Question predominated as
it had never done before: Home Rule was being thrashed out on every
platform. This was a matter on which Sir Charles, to use his own words,
'never clearly saw his way'; it was one that he naturally avoided, for
it had separated him from his most intimate political associate, and he
turned to the field of foreign affairs which had continuously occupied
him during his tenure of office, and which, save during the episode of
the franchise negotiations, had been his central concern.

For a moment he had the notion of entering into the business of
newspaper management. His object was not to secure literary reputation,
but to direct and influence public opinion. Early in 1887 he wrote to
his friend Mr. Thursfield of the _Times_:

'What I want is work on foreign affairs, or rather external affairs,
or foreign and colonial. I would prefer not to write, but to suggest
and supervise foreign news, and to work up the subjects of the
leaders which others would write. If I wrote, I think I should write
less well than other people, because I always write as I speak, and
not as people are taught to write.'

Nothing came of this idea; but it was a proposal remarkable in its
self-depreciation, because it was made when work from his pen was
already having a conspicuous success. Beginning in January, 1887, a
series of six articles dealing with the existing position of the six
Great Powers appeared in the _Fortnightly Review_, anonymously, but the
author was at once identified. They sent the _Review_ into repeated
editions. They appeared translated into French in the _Nouvelle Revue_,
and were discussed all over Europe. Later in the summer they were
published in book form, and called in English _The Present Position of
European Politics_ and in French _L'Europe en 1887_.

In the author's own words, the articles dealt with 'facts and
tendencies'; and though he would have been the last to hold himself a
prophet, saying that in the nature of things 'two years meant for ever
in politics,' much that he wrote is still of interest, and the
suggestion of Mr. Erskine Childers' hero that we should 'Read Dilke' is
not yet out of date. [Footnote: _Riddle of the Sands_, by Erskine
Childers, popular edition, p. 127. First published March, 1903.]

The keynote of the book is contained in the opening words, 'The present
position of the European world is one in which sheer force holds a
larger place than it has held in modern times since the fall of
Napoleon.' This reign of force the author traced back to 1878, the date
of the Treaty of Berlin, but it was originally due, as he pointed out,
to the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871, which had left a permanent
source of irritation in the European States system. Nevertheless, he
recognized that for the time the continuance of Prince Bismarck's
policy, based as it was on the maintenance of the Treaty, meant peace,
because Prince Bismarck believed peace to be necessary for the
maintenance in undiminished strength of the German Empire, wedged in
between France and Russia, the former always hostile, the latter an
uncertain quantity. An alliance with Austria-Hungary was necessary to
this policy: an alliance dictated by the fact that no other was likely
to be permanent. Italy, it was true, had recently joined the alliance;
but Italy, like Russia, was an uncertain factor, and Sir Charles Dilke
believed that, if a critical moment were to come, the desire to get the
Trentino would be stronger than the ties of any alliance. The policy of
Prince Bismarck was accordingly to prevent a Russo-French alliance, and
to help Russia to push into the Far East; to help her also in the
Balkans, but not beyond the point at which Austria might remonstrate;
and to prevent Austria from seeking anything calculated to precipitate a
war between herself and Russia, such as an attempt to add to the
position which she had obtained in the Balkan Peninsula under the Treaty
of Berlin. This policy also involved keeping Turkey quiet and preventing
a league of the Balkan States, lest such a league should irritate Russia
and Austria and produce a European conflagration.

General Fadejew, in a celebrated pamphlet [Footnote: General Fadejew,
_Ueber Russland's Kriegsmacht und Kriegspolitik_, Leipzig, 1870,
translated from the Russian.] which fluttered all the Chancelleries of
Europe in the early seventies, had said that the road from Russia to
Constantinople lay through Vienna; and Vienna, Sir Charles agreed with
the Russian general, was the centre to be watched, for it was there that
the key of European policy was to be found. 'Austria interests me,' he
wrote, when preparing his book, to Sir William White, the Ambassador at
Constantinople. 'I can't leave London, but I'm thinking of sending a man
to Vienna to tell me certain things. If so, to whom should he go?' And
he watched the strange development of events in Bulgaria. Early in
January he notes an interview with 'Dr. Stoiloff, the ablest man except
the brutal Stambuloff, and the leader of the Conservative party' in
Bulgaria, where the perpetual intrigues of Russian agents, official and
unofficial, had recently culminated, in August, 1886, in the kidnapping
of the reigning chief of the State, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, and
had thereby created an Austrian party: events which were to have many
long-drawn-out consequences, as the following century to its own cost
was to find out. Bulgaria from this time began to move in an orbit of
her own, distinct from, and often unfriendly to, the other Balkan

In 1887 it was still a current belief--especially on the part of many of
Sir Charles's own political friends--that Germany was eagerly watching
for an opportunity to seize the German provinces of Austria, and that
Austria was eagerly watching for an opportunity 'to go to Salonica,' as
the current phrase had it. The two propositions were almost mutually
destructive, but, without insisting on this rather obvious
consideration, Sir Charles was well aware that (even apart from reasons
of international policy) Germany could not desire the disruption of
Austria, because the German provinces of Upper and Lower Austria and
Styria did not lie next to North Germany, but were cut off from it by
countries in which the most enterprising of all Slavonic peoples--the
Czechs of Bohemia--'hated the Germans with a deadly hatred,' and
already, even in 1887, had got the upper hand. Count Bismarck himself
had resisted--and successfully--the desire of the military party to
annex Bohemia in 1866 after Sadowa. The permanent exclusion of Austria
and the House of Hapsburg from Germany was also no sudden or ephemeral
policy. In the middle of the seventeenth century, as the author of the
_Holy Roman Empire_ had reminded his readers, it had been proposed by
the famous publicist Philippe Chemnitz, who wrote under the name of
'Hippolytus a Lapide,' as the surest means of securing a permanent unity
of some kind in Germany. [Footnote: See Bryce, _Holy Roman Empire_,
chap. xx., p. 386; Louis Leger, _Histoire de l'Autriche-Hongrie_, chap.
xv., p. 258.] It had been adopted by the leaders in the Frankfurt
Parliament of 1848-49, and Count Bismarck was the inheritor of these
traditions when he finally expelled the House of Hapsburg in 1866, and
thus translated ancient theories into modern facts. It was therefore
highly improbable, to say the least, that only a few years after the
Treaty of Berlin he should be engaged in an attempt to nullify his own
work. [Footnote: On January 14th, 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament voted
the exclusion of Austria from Germany.]

Austria, Sir Charles Dilke pointed out, some day by mere competition
with Russia, if that Power made further advances, might perhaps be
forced forward unwillingly to Salonica; but by thus seizing Macedonia--a
far larger proposition than that of the annexation of Bosnia and the
Herzegovina, and in many respects a different one--it was clear she
would 'increase her military weakness, would deeply offend the Servians,
the Greeks, and the Bulgarians, and by increasing the number of her
Slavonic subjects would only hasten her own break-up.' Here, in fact,
lay the real danger to the 'Eastern Empire.' Prince Bismarck, as a
matter of fact, was of all men in Europe the man who most desired to
keep Austria alive. 'It is a necessity to him that she should continue
to exist. Once destroy Austria, and Germany is left to fight it out with
France and Russia without assistance, for in this case Italy would not
move,' notwithstanding the recently renewed Triple Alliance. That a
military party existed in Austria which might desire to go to Salonica,
and would also rejoice in a war with Italy, Sir Charles was well aware;
but he saw no reason to believe that it would succeed in forcing these
adventures on the Ballplatz, or on the statesmen of Hungary, who above
all things dreaded an increase of the Slavonic elements in the Empire.
The Austria-Hungary of 1887 was the Austria-Hungary of the long rule of
Count Taafe at Vienna, of M. Koloman Tisza at Buda-Pesth, and of Count
Kalnoky at the Ballplatz; and it was not unreasonable at that time to
consider it possible that, 'after the division of the respective spheres
of influence of Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia, in Macedonia, Austria
might gradually increase her influence in the Balkan States; and if she
would take the bold step of making up an arrangement for evacuating part
of Bosnia and the Herzegovina, so as to show she had no intention of
going southwards to Salonica, she might bring together in a general
understanding with herself the small States and the Turks.' This,
however, Sir Charles admitted, was probably impracticable, 'as Austro-
Hungarian pride would effectually prevent the abandonment of any portion
of Bosnia.' But so late as 1909 Dilke told Lord Fitzmaurice, when, at
the time of her final annexation of Bosnia and the Herzegovina,
Austria-Hungary had retired from the Sandjak of Novi Bazar, that he
thought the British Foreign Office 'had made too great a fuss' over the
annexation, which had been certain to come, sooner or later. [Footnote:
Lord Fitzmaurice was then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and
represented the Foreign Office in the House of Lords. See further as to
Sir Charles Dilke's' views on the events of 1908, Chapter LVIII.]

Mr. Robert Lowe is credited with having said that a metaphysician
resembled a blind man groping in a dark room for a black hat that was
not there. The comparison might almost have been applied to the Foreign
Minister of the Dual Empire, vainly seeking for a coherent policy among

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