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

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

Part 6 out of 11

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

the mists and cross-currents of rival nationalities. The charge to be
made against the foreign policy of Austria-Hungary was, in fact, not
that she had got a policy--good or bad, ambitious or the reverse--but
that it was almost impossible as a rule to ascertain whether she had any
policy at all: the explanation being that her internal problems
paralyzed her action abroad. 'It was difficult to be a patriot in
Austria, for nobody exactly knew to the representatives of what race,
tongue, or language, his allegiance was due.' 'Austria was indeed of all
countries in the world by far the most difficult to govern, and as a
necessity of her condition she must before all things long for peace....
Under her many difficulties caused by racial divisions she had become
constitutionally timid and naturally slow to move, and the outlook was
far from promising ... nor had Prince Bismarck'--notwithstanding the
terms of the Triple Alliance--'bound Germany to espouse all the quarrels
of Austria, no matter where and with whom.' It had been said, and by
Prince Bismarck himself, that the bones of not a single Pomeranian
grenadier should be allowed to whiten in a Balkan quarrel. [Footnote:
Speech in the Reichstag, December 16th, 1876.] 'The only real question
worth asking was: Will Austria resist Russian pretensions, and will she,
if in danger of conquest, be supported by allies, or will she yield and
take her share of the spoils?' [Footnote: _The Present Position of
European Politics_, pp. 185, 193, 194, 205, 206, 219, 221-224.]

The long-standing jealousies, also, of Austria-Hungary, Italy, and
Greece, in regard to the future of the Adriatic coast, Sir Charles Dilke
felt were not sufficiently appreciated in England, where public opinion
was too much inclined to see the Turk and the Slav only in every
question concerned with the Balkan Peninsula. When Under-Secretary for
Foreign Affairs in 1880-81, he had given a strong support to the
proposals in regard to Albania of Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, which had the
approval of Mr. Goschen, then Special Ambassador to the Porte--proposals
which were framed with a view to the ultimate autonomy of the country,
and were not accepted by the European Commission of Reforms, mainly
owing to the opposition of Austria-Hungary. [Footnote: See _Life of Lord
Goschen_, vol. i, p. 215. These proposals were revived in 1912, and,
which is remarkable, by Count Berchtold, the Foreign Minister of
Austria-Hungary, in a despatch in favour of 'progressive
decentralization.' See an article in the _Edinburgh Review_, April,
1913: 'Austria and Italy have been rivals for influence in Albania, as
Austria and Russia were rivals in Macedonia. It was because of this
rivalry that the Treaty of Berlin, so far as it applied to the European
provinces of Turkey, was never properly carried into effect. For the
same reason the Fitzmaurice proposal of 1880 was defeated by the
opposition of Vienna. The suggestion was that a greater Albania should
be created, which would have been autonomous under a European guarantee.
It is among the ironies of history that this scheme, rejected by Austria
when it came from a friendly and neutral source, should have been put
forward by the Austrian Foreign Office itself thirty-two years later.
Count Berchtold's Circular Note of August 14th, 1912, revived the
Fitzmaurice programme. The proposition came too late.'] But in _The
Present Position of European Politics_ it is seen how the author's
increasing confidence in the future of Greece led to a change of opinion
on this, the most intricate, perhaps, of all diplomatic questions
connected with the Near East. He now advocated as large an extension as
possible of the existing northern boundary of Greece, and held that the
rest of Albania should be joined to Greece by some form of personal
union, which ultimately might grow into a closer tie, bearing in mind
the friendly cooperation of Greeks and Albanians in the War of
Independence against Turkey, and the fact that a strong Albanian element
already existed in the Greek kingdom. [Footnote: _The Present Position
of European Politics_, pp. 146, 148, 193, 206, 214-217, 232, 237, 238.]
A European Congress seemed to him the only method to avoid the ultimate
arbitrament of war in this mass of tangled questions, but experience had
shown that a Congress was useless unless the Great Powers had settled
the main questions beforehand in agreement among themselves. Experience
had unfortunately also shown the extreme difficulty of obtaining any
such agreement.

'Austria ought to have been the heir of Turkey; the protector of a
Greece extended to include Albania, Macedonia, the Islands, and the
coast to Constantinople and down to Asia Minor; the friend of Servia and
Roumania, and what not.' But these things remained in the class of
visions, even if occasionally some Austrian or Hungarian statesman, like
Herr von Kallay, seemed disposed to grasp them, and to renew the
tradition of the forward policy attributed to Prince Eugene of Savoy and
the Archduke Charles. Hungary also had made Roumania her antagonist by
her illiberal policy in regard to the navigation of the Danube. Any
permanent confederation of the Balkan States as distinct from a
temporary alliance for some special and defined object, such as a
possible attack on Turkey, seemed therefore no longer possible,
especially after the recent events in Bulgaria. Meanwhile there was to
be peace, because Prince Bismarck so willed it. [Footnote: See _Der
Krimkrieg und die Oesterreichische Politik_, von Heinrich Friedjung,
chap, ii., p. 16 (Stuttgart und Berlin, 1907); Louis Leger, _Etudes
Slaves: L'Autriche-Hongrie et la Question d'Orient_, p. 395.]

The overmastering sense of the importance of whatever happened at Vienna
and Constantinople--of which every page of _The Present Position of
European Politics_ is the evidence--will largely explain Sir Charles
Dilke's views on another question. It has been seen that he was amongst
the strongest advocates of an active policy in Egypt in 1882, agreeing
in this with Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Hartington. But at an early period
after the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir he pronounced himself, when the
question arose, in favour of the earliest possible evacuation of the
country, and contemplated it as a possibility of the immediate future.
[Footnote: Sir Charles wrote in the _Speaker_ of January 23rd, 1892, in
reply to Admiral Maxse: 'Admiral Maxse appears to think that my views in
favour of evacuation have been recently formed....' 'There was a time,
_before_ the intervention of the condominium with France by Lord Derby,
when I held a different view; but it was not only formed under
circumstances very different from those which have now existed for
fourteen years, but also at a time when I had not given special
consideration to our probable naval and military position in the event
of war.'] Egypt to him, considered from the point of view of British
interests, was subsidiary to Constantinople. All that really signified
was the right of passage through the Suez Canal, which could, he
believed, be secured by international arrangement and the neutralization
of the country, a plan for which, as already seen, was being actually
discussed by Mr. Gladstone's Government when it fell. Egypt, in fact, he
regarded as part of Asia rather than of Africa, and he believed that
time would make this more clear than ever, in proportion as railways
were developed in Syria, Arabia, and Asia Minor. In this connection
Constantinople, not Alexandria or Cairo, seemed to him the decisive
factor: an opinion which brought him into opposition with those who held
the view that since the occupation of Egypt by British troops events at
Constantinople had become comparatively unimportant to this country. He
also feared that if some great European crisis were to arise, in which
Great Britain was involved, the occupation of Egypt might be a hindrance
rather than a source of strength, and might hamper our exertions in
other lands.

He had, however, no fear of allowing the Bosporus and the Dardanelles to
be opened under suitable conditions to the passage of Russian ships of
war, but only on the condition laid down by Sir William White, that the
right accorded to Russia must be accorded to the ships of war of other
nations; and this partly out of regard to the dignity of the British
flag, and partly because any exclusive right accorded to Russia would be
resisted by the States bordering on the Black Sea and by those
interested in the trade and navigation of the Danube. But the opening of
the Straits was one thing, the possession of Constantinople by Russia
was another, and in his opinion would cause a European convulsion; for
he saw in Constantinople what has since been termed 'the great strategic
centre of the world': [Footnote: The expression was used by Mr. Winston
Churchill in a speech on November 15th, 1915, in the House of Commons.]
the meeting-place and clearing-house of the trade and politics of three

'Russia at Constantinople,' he wrote, 'would mean the destruction of
Austria and the Russification of a large portion of her Slavs. When
Austria had disappeared or had been transformed out of all knowledge,
Germany, placed between France and Russia, would be still weaker in her
military position than she is at present. It is no doubt impossible that
Germany can really contemplate that contingency with complete
satisfaction. And if she cannot get other people to help Austria to keep
Russia away from Constantinople, it is probable that she would be forced
to interfere to help to do so, however stoutly her rulers may make the
opposite declaration. One of my most valued correspondents, whose
criticisms have been of the highest use to me, admits that to place
Turkey at the head of a Balkan Confederation would be "adding a badger
to your three unfriendly cats and altogether hostile dog"; but,
nevertheless, he thinks that such a combination would be possible on
account of the overwhelming dread of the danger of absorption by Russia;
and I think it right to state his view, although I am unable to modify
that which I have said as to the difficulties which the dispute for
Macedonia causes.' [Footnote: _The Present Position of European
Politics_, pp. 372, 373.]

In the autumn of 1891 this note occurs in the Memoir: 'John Morley
having made a speech in favour of the cessation of the Egyptian
occupation, I wrote to tell him how pleased I was, and in his reply he
asked why we should go on mechanically applauding Lord Salisbury's
foreign policy, which left this danger standing.'

Mr. Morley's satisfaction was, however, not shared by Mr. Chamberlain,
who wrote in January, 1892, 'to implore me to have regard to the opinion
of society about Egypt.'

'I do not mean fashionable society,' he added, 'but political society,
and the great majority of cultivated politicians. I think you do go out
of your way to offend them when you advocate evacuation of Egypt, and I
ask you to consider if it is worth your while. It is not necessary for
your constituents, and with regard to the others, there is no need to
add to their causes of anger against you. My advice is, "Be as Radical
as you like, be Home Ruler if you must, but be a little Jingo if you

The correspondence had begun in the autumn of 1891, when Sir Charles
wrote the following letter:

'Pyrford by Maybury,
'Near Woking,
'_October_ 19_th_, 1891.

'My Dear Chamberlain,

'I have never said that there are not conceivable circumstances in
which it would be better for us to be in Egypt. I'm going to try and
discuss them in the book I am at work on. _Re_ command of the sea
against France. We have not quite a sufficient force to blockade
Brest and Toulon. Lefevre and most of our sailors contemplate only
"masking" Toulon by a fleet at Gibraltar, and using the Cape route.
In this case we could not reinforce Egypt except from India, and
not, of course, from India if we were at war with Russia too.

'I am in favour of a stronger navy, and attempting blockade, though
it is not _certain_ that it can be made _for certain_ successful.
Still Colomb is a better authority than Beresford, etc. I mean
"Admiral Colomb," not Sir John. The difficulty, even if blockades
are possible, is that France keeps building after us so as always to
be without the limits which would make it possible. Lefevre will
support Mr. G. in cutting down the navy on this ground--i.e., will
prove by figures that every time we lay down nine ships the French
lay down six or seven.

'I think that in the long-run France will beat Germany. She will
fight her some day single-handed on a point in which Austria and
Italy will not move, nor Russia either. Then, if Germany gets the
best of it, the others will "mediate."

'Yours ever,

'Chs. W. D.'

'November, 1891, we spent in France.... While I was away I had a
correspondence with Chamberlain about his speech on Egypt' (in reply
to Morley), 'and pointed out to him,' says the Memoir,' that he had
changed his mind so completely about evacuation that it was hardly
prudent in him not frankly to admit the change of mind, as he had
done in at least one speech previously.' He replied:

'"I have looked the matter up, and I think it is quite true that in
1884 we were all for evacuation as early as possible. But I did not
then estimate properly the magnitude of the task we had undertaken,
nor did I know how splendidly it would be performed by Baring and
his colleagues. Baring himself began as a strong advocate for

'In my answer, I said that Baring had only changed his mind in the
way in which all people are apt to change their minds when they are
employed as the agents of a policy, and I combated Chamberlain's
military views, which were, in fact, for defending Egypt by the
fleet--that fleet which is expected to do everything!'

Sir Charles set out in an article in the _Speaker_ all the pledges to
evacuate which had been given by the Liberal Government and repeated by
Lord Salisbury. Thereupon Mr. Morley, whose general views on foreign
policy were not as a rule at all the same as those of Sir Charles, wrote
from Biarritz, where he was in Mr. Gladstone's company, that he had read
the _Speaker_ with enormous satisfaction. It would have a stimulating
effect in quarters where a little stimulus was much needed, and had
given much satisfaction to other people in Biarritz besides himself.

'"Quarters" of course meant Rosebery,' is Sir Charles's comment, and he

'In order to meet the Rosebery objection to evacuation, I wrote an
article for the January _Fortnightly_, of which the editor changed
nothing but the title. I had called it "Lords Salisbury and
Rosebery," and he changed it to "Conservative Foreign Policy."'

At a later date, in a letter [Footnote: This letter was apparently
written on April 14th, 1893:

'Those of us who bitterly dislike the occupation of Egypt by a
British force have been both to add to your work before and during a
session in which, not to speak of the ordinary demand on the time of
a Prime Minister, your unprecedented relation to the chief measure
makes it the duty of your supporters to confine themselves to
helping clear the road. Naught else could have excused us from
having hitherto refrained from pressing the state of Egypt on the
consideration of yourself, or of the House of Commons. It is only
because since the publication of a recent despatch we feel that the
time has nearly come for making up one's mind to be for ever silent
upon the question, and because I cannot do so, given the strong
feeling that I have with regard to it, without one last attempt to
cause some change in a "temporary" situation now crystallizing into
permanency, that I venture to address you. I ask for no reply. I
shall have to bring the question before the House of Commons. I have
no illusions as to what is likely to be the result of so doing. Sir
E. Grey will tell us that the occupation is still "temporary," but
must last, "for the sake of Egypt," till we can "with safety" leave:
and so it will continue, with all its dangers to ourselves, till the
next great war. Whoever else may again raise the Egyptian question
in the future, I shall not. Vote I must, whenever it comes before
the House, but I need not do more.

'Not one word of blame of anyone will fall from me when I raise the
question on first going into Committee on Civil Estimates. It seems
to me, I confess--but I shall try to keep the opinion to myself--
that it would have been, on the whole, the safest course to have
done in 1892 that which Lord Granville, under your guidance, did in
1880, and to have ourselves proposed, on the very day of the
accession to office of the new Government, the policy which we
thought best in the interest of the country and had supported in
Opposition. Lord Granville congratulated himself, and with justice,
on the promptitude with which, before the Russians could say a word
to him as to the complete fulfilment of the Treaty of Berlin, he had
told the Ambassador, in the first minute of their first interview,
that the Government would insist on that fulfilment. Had the present
Secretary of State, at his first interview with the French
Ambassador, made a similar communication with regard to Egypt (at
least so far as to propose to resume the negotiations of 1887), we
should, perhaps, have avoided many evils. I share to the full the
belief, which you expressed in such admirable terms a couple of
years ago, that the long-lasting occupation of Egypt by our forces
is the cause of all the difficulties by which our foreign policy,
and even our position in Europe, are oppressed. Our hands are not
free, and never will be free, so long as the occupation continues.
But ills more direct are likely to fall upon us; and no one can look
forward without the gravest dread to the prospect of our being
drawn, step by step, into a situation in which we shall be driven to
arrest the persons of the young Khedive and those of his advisers
who possess the confidence of all that is intelligent among the
Egyptian people; or (as seems hinted in Lord Bosebery's despatch) to
insist upon a deposition.

'In the discussions as to the occupation of Egypt which occurred in
the Cabinet, before I was a member of it, in 1882, even before the
expedition (for the occupation was foreseen), I took a share, as
Lord Granville was good enough to consult me on the papers
circulated by his colleagues. As far as I am concerned, I have never
budged from the principles of a memorandum which I wrote on July
4th, 1882; but those principles were far more excellently stated by
you in a memorandum of the beginning of September, 1882--before
Tel-el-Kebir--a memorandum which was approved by men now so hostile
to your views as Sir Auckland Colvin and Sir Edward Malet. Sir E.
Baring, now, as Lord Cromer, so bitterly opposed to us, in a paper
of September or October, 1882, and Chamberlain in his paper of about
October 21st, 1882, both pointed out how essential it was that our
occupation should be really temporary, and that our condition--that
we should leave behind us a "stable" state of things--depended on
and meant what Chamberlain called "the extension of Egyptian
liberties": the convoking, if not of a truly representative
Assembly, at least of the Notables. Lord Dufferin, in December 1882,
wrote to me that he would sooner run any risk than abandon the
representative institutions proposed for Egypt in his famous scheme.
Yet now the French are bidding the Khedive call together, against
Lord Dufferin's virtual successor, this very Assembly of Notables,
which Lord Cromer, such is his present policy, dare not call. The
conception of this Assembly was the act of yourself, supported by
Lord Granville and Sir William Harcourt and supported on paper by
Lord Dufferin and Sir E. Baring, and opposed by Lord Hartington, by
the then Chancellor, and by Lord Northbrook. This "extension of
Egyptian liberties," which was our pride, which was our excuse for
that "short prolongation" of the occupation, to which I was myself
opposed--an extension of liberties which has not been carried into
practical effect by us--is certain to result in a declaration by the
Notables, when they meet, as within this year, through the French
Agent's influence, they will, that they are rootedly opposed to our
presence in their land.

'It may be said that neither the Turks nor the French have pressed
us, directly, to come out. The Turks will never really press us. The
Sultan is forced by Moslem public opinion to ask us to leave Egypt,
but he is in fact personally anxious that we should stay there to
keep Mahdism in the desert and representative institutions in the
shade. The French have also their inner policy--their Rothschilds to
keep in good humour--and two currents, one political and one
financial, with which to deal. M. Waddington expressed to you at
Hawarden a mere desire for exchange of views between the Cabinets.
He was naturally anxious not to be refused in any direct request.
But French public opinion is exasperated against us; only one man in
France believes a word we say, and our diplomatists and admirals
behave as though they represented German instead of neutral
interests. We are responsible for tempting Italy to stay in the
alliance of the Central Powers, to her own hurt.

'None of these things shall I be able to say when I bring the
question before the House of Commons. To do so would involve
statements based on private letters and statements as to Cabinet
differences of 1882, which I cannot make. We shall be compelled to
rely chiefly upon the declarations of Lord Salisbury, which were
summed up in his words of May, 1887, to the effect that the
occupation entails on us "heavy sacrifices, without adequate return
either in peace or in war."

'Having given attention for some years past to our general position
as a nation, feeling as I do, with you, how adversely it is affected
by the prolongation of the "temporary" occupation, which, as matters
stand, seems likely to endure till the next war, even should it be
postponed till half a century hence, I cannot but feel miserable at
the situation of this affair, and I once more ask your pardon for in
this way liberating my mind, or, I fear, rather discharging upon
you, regardless of your prodigious avocations, this last expression
of a regret deeper than that which I have previously entertained on
any public question.

'Through the mischiefs of the occupation there now seems to come no
single ray of light. The present year will not pass over without a
change in the local situation at Cairo, from which a conference is
likely to result. A passage near the end of Lord Rosebery's despatch
shows that he is prepared to have a conference forced upon him. Had
we invited it, such a conference would be to us the blessing that it
will be to others. Would it not at least be best that we should call
that conference on the first opportunity rather than have it thrust
down our throats?

'This letter has not been shown to anyone, and needs, as I said, no
reply, but I should be glad if it were not handed to anyone outside
of your own circle. It has not been mentioned to anyone except Mr.
Herbert Gladstone.']

to Mr. Gladstone during his last Premiership, Dilke summed up his views
when a debate was about to take place in the House of Commons, and four
days later he notes: 'On April 18th I had a long interview with Mr.
Gladstone, who sent for me, on my letter. The only thing he said worth
remembering was, "Jingoism is stronger than ever. It is no longer war
fever, but earth hunger."'

In 1887 the possibility of a German attempt to violate the neutrality of
Belgian territory, notwithstanding the treaty of guarantee of 1839,
which Prussia herself had signed, was again attracting attention owing
to a sudden renewal of warlike apprehensions on the Continent. The
position of Luxemburg was a kindred question, though the international
guarantee was of a far more uncertain character than in the case of
Belgium. Sir Charles, as already related, had returned from his work in
France during the war of 1870 with a profound conviction that a spirit
of reckless violence was abroad in Germany, which would stop at nothing
if favourable circumstances offered a temptation to action; and in his
opinion the absence of any fortifications at Liege and Namur afforded
such a temptation. The point had been till then little discussed in
England, though General Brialmont had written in the _Revue de Belgique_
on the subject. Sir Charles's view having been questioned, that the
danger to Belgium's neutrality for military and other reasons was from
Germany alone, he drew attention to the enormous accumulation of
supplies of every kind in the entrenched camp of Cologne as of itself
sufficient in military eyes to prove the truth of what he said. He
considered also that the reduction of our horse artillery greatly
impaired the possibility of Great Britain affording really effectual
military assistance to Belgium, and that the recent utterances of the
principal organ of the Conservative party, the _Standard_, and of the
writers in the _National Review_, that intervention in support of
Belgium 'would be not only insane but impossible,' showed that the
public opinion of Great Britain was no longer unanimous as it had been
in 1870-71. [Footnote: The questions connected with the Belgian and
Luxemburg guarantees are very fully discussed in a recent work,
_England's Guarantee to Belgium and Luxemburg_, by C. P. Sanger and H.
T. J. Norton. See also chapter i. of _War: Its Conduct and Legal
Results_, by Dr. Baty and Prof. J. H. Morgan; _The Present Position of
European Politics_, pp. 42-48, 73, 321-323.] This dispassionate
consideration of the chances of England's intervening single-handed and
without allies, in the case of a European war, to protect the neutrality
of an unfortified Belgium, led to statements that he was opposed to such
a step, and he had to point out in reply that for years he had
consistently expressed the contrary view, but that he was now dealing
with facts and tendencies, not with his own wishes. [Footnote: _British
Army_, chap. ii., p. 55.] Shortly after the appearance of this article,
discussion in Belgium led to the introduction of a Government Bill for
the fortification of the towns upon the Meuse, and it was afterwards
decided to fortify Namur and Liege.

Estimating the probabilities of a Continental war, he thought that
Russia came next to England in staying power, because her enormous army
formed a smaller proportion of her working class than in the case of any
other great Continental Power. Notwithstanding his suspicions of her
policy, he spoke of Russia with a deep and discriminating interest born
of numerous visits to all parts of her dominions, and deprecated the
attitude of those Englishmen whose dislike of Russia had done harm to
the cause of sense and truth by exaggeration, and had led them to ignore
'her power and the marvellous patriotism of her people.' 'In the union
of patriotism with religion I know no nation which can approach them.'
There could be no doubt in any reasonable mind of her real and lasting
strength. But her unlimited power of self-deception; the necessary
instability of a policy resting upon the will of a single man; her
misgovernment of Poland and her alienation of Bulgaria, constituted
dangers which it was idle to ignore. He, however, set against these
weaknesses her popularity with all the Slav nations; her influence in
the Baltic provinces of Germany, and even with the Poles, 'who, like
everyone else of Slavonic race, seem born with a hatred of the Teutons.'

'The only foreigner who is known to the Russian peasantry is the
German, and the name for German and for foreigner with the peasantry
is the same, and the hatred of the "dumb men," as they call their
German neighbours, is intense. The peasantry know little of the
English, and if you listen to their sentiments you discover that it
is their belief that one day there will be between _them_ and
Germany a war compared with which, their soldiers say, that of 1870
will be child's play, and that if Germany wins this will not be the
end, but that war after war will follow until Germany is destroyed.'

'Because Russia is very violent in her language and her acts, we
often fail to see how a peasantry, which an aristocratic government
or a government of political economists could never win, is won over
by her to her rule. The Moscow men failed in Bulgaria, but in Poland
they succeeded, and in the Baltic provinces, too, their methods and
their policy have not been wanting, and the problems that have so
long perplexed this country in her relations with Ireland would have
been solved in a week by Samarin, or Miliutin, or Prince
Teherkasky.' [Footnote: _Present Position of European Politics_, pp.
125, 134.]

The popular phrases which dubbed Sir Charles Dilke as 'anti-German' or
'anti-Russian' were never more curiously misapplied. The flaw to be
found even in the mental constitution of Gambetta's great personality,
as shown by his antagonism to Russia, had no part in his friend's
outlook; nor did Sir Charles's friendship for all things French make him
an enemy to Germany, though the possibility of conjuring 'the German
peril' was ever in his mind. But he doubted the wisdom of the wavering
counsels which began with 'lying down to Germany,' and were to be marked
by the cession of Heligoland. Strong men and strong Governments
recognize and respect one another; and in dealing with Germany he
believed that it was necessary never to forget this trite yet valuable

If personal friendships and political sympathy made Sir Charles, as the
previous chapters have shown, look constantly to France as the natural
ally of Great Britain, and also her most desirable ally, neither
friendships nor sympathies could blind him to the constant danger
arising from the instability of French Administrations, and the
consequent difficulty of relying on any certainty in arrangements
projected for joint action. Of this the events connected with Egypt had
been a most conspicuous illustration. Nor were these the only dangers:
for the best friends of France were painfully aware of the immense
influence exercised by powerful financial interests both in her domestic
and in her foreign affairs, and by the growth of fierce antagonisms on
home questions which seemed to tear the country asunder and paralyze her
position abroad. Numerous questions, not only in Egypt, but elsewhere in
Africa; the old quarrels about the Newfoundland fisheries, on which Sir
Charles was constantly putting his finger as a possible cause of a
serious quarrel; and increasing jealousies in the Pacific, contributed
to produce a condition of permanent tension for many years in the
relations of the two countries, until the Fashoda incident in 1898
brought a crisis which cleared the air. Two of the ablest men in France,
M. Jules Ferry and M. Hanotaux, were, to say the least, not friendly to
Great Britain, and a plan which Sir Julian Pauncefote [Footnote: Then
Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and afterwards Lord
Pauncefote and Ambassador at Washington.] had suggested in 1884, of
attempting to bring all outstanding questions with France into one great
settlement, fell still-born, to be vivified, but twenty years later, by
Lord Lansdowne in more favourable circumstances.

In all possible complications Sir Charles relied much on Italy's close
friendship for England--notwithstanding her entry into the Triple
Alliance--a friendship due to permanent gratitude for the support which
she had received from Lord Russell, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Palmerston,
at the crisis of her fate in 1859; and also to the offer to her of a
joint occupation of Egypt in 1882--an offer rejected indeed, but
fruitful of good feeling.

But more important even than any question of alliances was, he insisted,
the necessity that Great Britain should know her own mind, and have a
definite policy in regard to the future of Constantinople and of Egypt,
and in regard to the Belgian guarantee. Army organization itself
obviously depended on policy, and in this connection there was a danger
at home greater, perhaps, than any originating abroad.

'It is too much the case with us in England,' he wrote, 'that when
we are occupied with the consideration of the Irish problem, or
dealing with the circumstances which most often lead to the rise and
fall of Ministries, we allow the foreign affairs of the country to
be transacted in the dark: with an absence of control which, owing
to the efficiency of our Foreign Office, may produce no ill, but
also with an absence of knowledge which cannot be advantageous. On
the other hand, when some awkward circumstance arises, a
disproportionate weight is attached to it by those who have wilfully
remained in ignorance of the true position, and the diplomacy of the
country is suddenly unduly hampered by criticism which rests on no
foundation of fact.'

Speaking from experience, he uttered a warning as to the danger of
uninstructed debates and foolish questions--then so frequent--on foreign
affairs in the House of Commons, and the harm done by them abroad. He
spoke of the tendency to take advantage of some rebuff in foreign
affairs for party motives, and urged that, as secrecy was not to be
hoped for, members should at least try to inform themselves and the
electorate, and avoid 'periods of ignorant calm' or 'equally ignorant
panic.' In this connection he never ceased to insist on the weakness of
our position abroad, owing to the deficient strength and want of
organization of our army; the small results shown for the immense amount
spent; the insufficient stock of arms and ammunition, and the poor
reserves of rifles; and he urged that, whatever our economies, none
should fall upon equipment or reserves of material. Such economies he
stigmatized as a 'horrible treachery to the interests of the country.'
[Footnote: The military situation as a whole is discussed in chapter vi.
of _The Present Position of European Politics_, 'The United Kingdom.']




Pathways of return to political life soon began to open to Sir Charles
Dilke. In November, 1886, Mr. Labouchere wrote:

'It looks as though Chamberlain will be the scapegoat. At present
his going over bag and baggage to the Whigs has utterly disgusted
the Radicals. As long as Gladstone lives things will go on fairly
with us, but after--the deluge. The Radical M.P.'s are regretting
your not being in, as they would have accepted you as the leader.'

In the autumn of 1886 the Council of the Chelsea Liberal Association
unanimously asked him to be their candidate (for Parliament), but he
replied that he could not serve the borough to his own satisfaction
while so large a section of the public still attached weight to the
'gross calumnies' with which he had been assailed. He was, however, from
the autumn of 1887, increasingly active in local affairs, both on the
Vestry and the Board of Guardians, [Footnote: In the winter of 1888, Sir
Charles was unanimously elected Chairman of the Board of Guardians, as
also of the Vestry ('as was the case in subsequent years'). He wrote to
Mr. Chamberlain: 'I've taken the chairmanship of the Chelsea Board of
Guardians, so am keeping my hand in on the prevention of obstruction. I
am forced to begin gradually with them, and have only as yet ruled that
I cannot _let two speak at once_.'] and also on the newly formed Library
Committee, on which he served for three years, till both the local
libraries were established and opened.

To M. Joseph Reinach he wrote in April, 1887: 'I have a splendid
position as a writer, and writing projects which will occupy me for
three years at least; and if any great calamity should occur which would
force me back into public life--such as war with Russia, for example--I
do not know that I should like the change.' Nor was the political scene
attractive at this moment. His friends were tearing each other asunder;
and not only his political friends--both parties were rent with faction.

'On October 1st, 1886, Chamberlain called and gave me an interesting
picture of the political state. He seemed to think that he could
keep Mr. Gladstone out for life, and was persuaded that Randolph
would give him all he wanted and leave Hartington and Salisbury in
the lurch. Randolph had promised him to have an anti-Jingo foreign
policy, leaving Turkey to her fate, and to pacify Ireland with the
National Councils scheme, modified into two Councils, or into
Provincial Councils, to suit Ulster; and Churchill had also promised
him procedure reform--that is, a sharper closure--and a three-acres-
and-a-cow policy for England.

'There was an article in the _Morning Post_, October 2nd,
representing Churchill's democratic views, but in the later autumn
(while Chamberlain was away abroad) Churchill was beaten in the
Cabinet both on his Irish scheme and also on the amendments which he
proposed to make in the Local Government (England) Bill in the
three-acres-and-a-cow direction. On December 17th Chamberlain, who
had returned from abroad, came to lunch with me, furious at the
defeat of Randolph Churchill. He found no fault with the Irish
policy' (which was strongly coercionist), 'or with the foreign
policy of the Cabinet; but he was anxious to defeat them on their
Local Government (England) Bill, if it was not altered back again to
suit his policy. Ultimately a compromise on this matter was

For a moment it seemed as if Chamberlain's anger with the Tory party was
going to drive him back into his old associations. On December 31st,

'Chamberlain and John Morley came in together to lunch, Chamberlain
having been asked and Morley not, and it was somewhat startling.
"Chamberlain thinks that he can get Mr. Gladstone by the bait of
'Four times Prime Minister' to accept his terms. On the other hand,
Mr. Gladstone thinks that he can detach Chamberlain from Hartington.
Conferences are sitting: Harcourt, Herschell, and Morley, meeting
Chamberlain and Trevelyan. Hartington is crusty at this. Chamberlain
has threatened Hartington with the consequences if he, as he wants
to, supports a reactionary Local Government Bill of Salisbury's.
Chamberlain has written to Salisbury as to this Local Government
Bill, and received a dilatory reply." He told me the whole long
history of Randolph's troubles with the Cabinet which preceded his
resignation; first on procedure, as to which he finally obtained his
own way, secondly as to foreign affairs, thirdly as to allotments,
fourthly as to Local Government, and fifthly as to finance.
Churchill always stood absolutely alone, and, being in a minority of
one, could only get his way at all by continually tendering his
resignation. At last he resigned once too often, as it was of course
on the wrong subject; Salisbury jumped at it, and accepted it in a
cool letter when Churchill did not mean it in the least. It was only
the classical annual resignation of a Chancellor of the Exchequer
against his colleagues of the army and navy. The Budget always
involves the resignation either of the Secretary of State for War
and First Lord of the Admiralty, or else of the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, but hitherto they have always managed to make it up.'

Within a fortnight Sir Charles 'was hearing from all sides about the
Round Table Conferences which were intended to reunite the Liberal
party.... From Chamberlain I heard that his view was to bring about a
_modus vivendi_ only, under which the Conservative Government was to be
turned out on some side-issue. Mr. Gladstone would become Prime Minister
for the fourth time, if the Irish would consent to take Local Government
and a Land Bill first, and to leave Home Rule over. He thought that Mr.
Gladstone was not unwilling, but that there would be difficulty in
getting the Irish to consent. Morley and Harcourt were, according to
Chamberlain, friendly to his suggestions, and Hartington hostile, not
trusting Mr. Gladstone.'

On January 15th, 1887, Sir Charles wrote to Mr. Chesson [Footnote: See
note, p. 273.] that

'Chamberlain and Morley were both going to make conciliatory
speeches, but that nothing had really been done at Harcourt's house,
every difficulty having been "reserved." There could be no doubt
that several of the five who were there meeting were anxious to keep
things open, on the chance of Mr. Gladstone not remaining in
sufficiently good health to continue to lead the party. The
independent Liberals were vexed at the Conferences. Willy Bright
called on me, and said that obviously the great difficulty of the
moment was "to keep Mr. Gladstone in the Gladstonian party." Morley,
who also called on me, casually observed, "Harcourt was never a Home
Ruler. The only Home Rulers in the last Cabinet were Lord Granville
and Spencer, in addition to myself and Mr. Gladstone." When we
remember the views of Spencer in May, 1885, his violent Home Rule,
which dates from July, 1885, is laughable.'

'On the 15th I had a long and curious conversation with Chamberlain
about the matter. He said that the articles which had been appearing
in the _Birmingham Post_ about his own position were inspired by
him--that he and the other members of the Conference were telling
the newspapers that everything was going on swimmingly, but that the
whole thing was in reality a sham on both sides. Parnell was
frightened at Mr. Gladstone's declining health, and Mr. Gladstone
did not wish to end his life by having smashed his party, so that
the Conference was willingly continued, although it was doing
nothing. It was the wish of all concerned in it to be at the point
of an apparent reconciliation whenever Mr. Gladstone might become
incapacitated, but he, Chamberlain, was firmly decided not to take
office under Mr. Gladstone.

'Chamberlain said that Randolph Churchill on the previous night had
asked him, "Shall I come over?" but that he, Chamberlain, had
replied that he advised him not to, being afraid that Randolph would
play for the lead of the party, and not liking the notion of having
him for leader. He had advised Randolph to simulate moderation
towards Lord Salisbury, in spite of his anger at the Duke of Norfolk
and the members of the Conservative party who, since his quarrel
with the Government, had been "attacking his private character."'

'On February 4th, 1887, Chamberlain again came to see me, and I
noted in my diary that he was "very sore against Labouchere and

'On February 13th, Morley called and said that the Round Table
Conference was hopeless, although they were to meet at dinner on the
14th, and once again after that. He said, "Both sides are very
cross, and each side asks, 'What is to become of the other?'"

'On the same day Chance, M.P., told me, he being the attorney of the
Nationalist party, that O'Shea was going forward with his divorce
case against Parnell, and that Parnell had no defence possible. I
have never known what was the reason of the immense delays which
afterwards occurred.'

Parties now began to settle into their new groupings.

'On March 2nd, 1887, Chamberlain came to lunch, and told me a good
deal about the failure of the Round Table Conference, but it was not
till April 3rd that he told me the whole story. On this latter day
Deakin, the Chief Secretary of Victoria, and most interesting of
Colonists, was with me; and Chamberlain came in before Deakin had
gone, and, talking with his customary frankness, discussed the whole
matter before the astonished Victorian. There had been a sad split
caused by a letter which he had written, and which he admitted was
an indiscreet one, to the _Baptist_, as to Welsh Disestablishment. A
hint was then let fall that the Gladstonians were going to negotiate
with Hartington direct. On this Chamberlain went off to Hartington
and got from him a letter to say that Hartington would not negotiate
himself, but that Chamberlain was in possession of his views.
Efforts were then made to get Chamberlain to meet Mr. Gladstone.
Chamberlain agreed to do so, but not to ask for the meeting. At
length a meeting was fixed at Mr. Gladstone's request for the
morrow, Monday, April 4th. It was settled that at this Mr. Gladstone
would ask what Chamberlain had to propose. Chamberlain was going to
reply that Mr. Gladstone knew his views, and to then ask whether
they were accepted, and he knew perfectly that nothing would come of
it. He had on the same day, April 3rd, met Randolph at Mrs. Jeune's
at lunch. They had walked away together, when Randolph had proposed
a Chamberlain-Hartington-Randolph league against both parties. This
had tempted Chamberlain, but was an idle suggestion, as Hartington
and Randolph could never work together.'

In the autumn of 1887 Sir Charles and Lady Dilke went to Constantinople,
and he writes:

'I had received at this time a letter from James, in which he said
that Mr. Gladstone had sent for him to talk to him about me in the
friendliest way, and, Mr. Gladstone having called, I wrote to him,
and transmitted some messages from the Sultan, in the following

"_October 14th_.

'"I have never thanked you except verbally through James for a kind
and pleasant message which I had from you by James and Chamberlain
last session.

'"At Constantinople last Friday, and again to Lady Dilke last
Monday, the Sultan said that he wished complimentary messages
conveyed to you. The Greek Patriarch said the same thing to us on
Tuesday and Wednesday. My wife told both that she hardly knew you,
and I replied that I was unlikely to see you for some time, but
would see that the messages reached you.

'"The Greeks on the one hand, and the Bulgarians on the other, are
now very friendly with the Sultan, but I regret to find that the
dislike between the Greeks and the Bulgarians is as strong as ever.
The common preference of both for the Sultan over Russia has not
sufficed to draw them together. The split between the Bulgarian
Government and the Exarch of Bulgaria will, however, probably draw
Bulgaria closer to the Phanar."'

Mr. Gladstone replied, on October 24th, that his message to Sir Charles
expressed his real feeling, which he should have been glad to find other
modes of expressing. He added that if the Sultan spoke sincerely in the
message which Sir Charles transmitted,

'he must be acting as a good Christian: for Hobart Pasha when here,
as a spy on Fehmi, told me the Sultan believed I was his greatest
enemy. I have never been so great an enemy to him as he to himself.
I have never had extreme views about Turkey. Had I the settling of
the affair, I should be disposed to keep the Turks in
Constantinople, and not to let Home Rule when freely and honestly
given mean total severance. But the materials of convulsion are, I
fear, slowly gathering in that quarter, and Russia, shut out from
her just claim to the passage of the Straits, means to have the
mastery of them. I always grieve over the feud of Hellene and Slav,
out of which much mischief may come. The situation here is
favourable to those who view the Irish Question as you do. The
relations with Chamberlain have been rather painful. I think he has
developed since the schism of March, 1886, even greater speaking and
debating talents than he had shown before. I think also that the
organization of dissentient Liberalism, in which he has borne so
large a part, has been enormously favourable to his general creed as
an advanced Radical, whereas Hartington with his weak-kneed men has
been utterly hoodwinked, and hoodwinked by himself. On the other
hand, I own myself amazed at Chamberlain's proceedings during the
last month. Everyone took a favourable view of his accepting the
American mission; [Footnote: Mr. Chamberlain was corresponding with
Sir Charles in regard to his mission, for which he started on
October 29th, 1887. It had for its object the negotiation of a
treaty with America on several outstanding questions.] but a man of
one-tenth of his talent ought to have seen the folly of widening
breaches and exasperating all passions as a preliminary to charging
himself with a business that eminently requires a serene atmosphere.

'We witnessed at Nottingham an enthusiasm literally the greatest I
have ever seen.'

'On my return to England before the middle of November, 1887, I
received a letter from the Cinderford Liberal Association, in the
Forest of Dean, in which they referred to an attempt which had been
made to induce me to stand for the Forest of Dean when Blake retired
in July, 1887, and went on to press me to go there to speak....
After the completion of the army articles and of the book, I
intended to set to work on a new version of my _Greater Britain_.
This afterwards became the book published under the title of
_Problems of Greater Britain_.'

On October 28th, 1887, 'Chamberlain wrote ... "Mr. Gladstone's last
speech shows distinct signs of old age. I think matters cannot long
remain in their present state, and the whole policy of England--both
foreign and domestic--may be greatly altered."'

On reaching Washington, Chamberlain wrote: 'I do not find the "civilized
world" so much pro-Irish as Mr. Gladstone would have us believe. On the
contrary, I have as yet only met two Americans who have expressed
themselves favourable to Mr. Gladstone's policy. They are, generally
speaking, inclined to some concession in the direction of State rights,
but they are entirely opposed to anything in the nature of a self-
governing colony, and they have no personal liking for the Irish. Above
all, they are horrified at Mr. Gladstone's recent utterances about law
and order, and say openly that he must have lost his head.'

'On January 4th, 1888, I made a speech in which I laid down my
position as regarded Parliamentary candidature. It was made in
presiding at the first dinner of the Hammersmith Central Liberal
Club. About the same time I received requests to stand as candidate
for Merthyr and for the northern division of the borough of West
Ham, which I declined, pointing to my Hammersmith speech without
giving further reasons.'

'About this time, my son being now at Rugby, we went down to see him
and lunched with the Percivals.'

In the new session of 1888 Mr. Ritchie introduced his Local Government
Bill, which (as Sir Charles had predicted to the Chelsea electors in
1885) was much influenced by the Liberal scheme that lay accessible in
an official pigeonhole. The outline given by the new President of the
Local Government Board in introducing the measure showed, however, that
it fell short of expectation, and Sir Charles immediately criticized the
project in an evening paper without waiting for publication of the text.
When the Bill was published, he issued notes upon it, in concert with
Mr. Cobb, M.P. for the Rugby Division, condemning the absence of any
attempt to 'reform and revivify the parish.'

'My main objection to Mr. Ritchie's scheme was that, whereas in my
scheme the District Councils had been more highly organized than the
County Councils, in his scheme the reverse was the case. [Footnote:
The allusion is here, apparently, to the Bill which Mr. Chamberlain
prepared in 1886, but with considerable help from Sir Charles.]
There was no building up out of the smaller districts, giving the
work as far as possible to the smallest, where the people were at
their homes; but Mr. Ritchie's unit was the county, and the smaller
bodies were neglected.

'The Liberal leaders took a short-sighted course in recommending
their friends to allow the Bill to pass almost without discussion.'
[Footnote: In 1892 he again notes his intervention on this question.
'On November 9th, 1892, I had a long interview at the Local
Government Board with Henry Fowler, the President, at his request,
before I went down to the Chelsea Board of Guardians for the last
time. He consulted me as to all his Bills, especially as to that on
Local Government.']

There were, however, friends who considered that the new institutions
established by Mr. Ritchie's Act opened a way back into public life for
Sir Charles. Among these was Mr. Chamberlain. He was, as usual,
corresponding with Sir Charles, during his absence abroad, on all
matters, and an interesting letter is noted here.

'In, I think, May, 1888, while we were at Royal, I received a letter
from Chamberlain in which he indicated a change in his views upon
the South Africa question. Ultimately he completely turned round
from his old position, which was violently anti-Dutch, and, like
everyone else, fell into line upon the principle of the fusion of
race interests in South Africa.'

'On our return Chamberlain came down to Dockett and spent the
afternoon, bringing Austen with him, and very strongly urged that
the time had now come when I should stand for Parliament. I said
that I thought that the time would come, but that, after India, I
had _Problems of Greater Britain_ to write before I thought about
it. He then urged that I should stand for the County Council in my
absence in India, and as to this point a great difference of opinion
arose, I being inclined to accept his advice, which was also very
strongly pressed upon me by my former colleague Firth; my wife and
G. W. Osborn strongly took the opposite view, to which I yielded. I
afterwards came to think it had been the right view. Chamberlain
pressed his opinion very hotly to the last. I received a deputation
from Fulham which represented the entire Liberal and a portion of
the Conservative party, and the seat would certainly have been won;
but I declined, and Chamberlain then wrote: "You must be the judge,
and are probably the best one. But I yield reluctantly."'

This decision was made public in answer to the Fulham deputation just
before Sir Charles started on a journey to India.

In February, 1889, after his return to England, he was confronted with a
new proposal. The Progressive party now in power on the London County
Council desired to put him forward as one of the first Aldermen. Sir
Charles refused; but a preliminary circular in reference to his
candidature had been issued, and a protest was immediately organized by
the section which desired his permanent ostracism. This opposition was
then formidable in its proportions, and it never wholly disappeared. It
was, however, increasingly clear that a much stronger body of public
opinion desired his return to public and Parliamentary life.

In March, 1889, he was elected Honorary President of the Liberal Four
Hundred in the Forest of Dean. The election did not pass without
challenge, and one of the objectors was the Rector of Newent (Canon
Wood). Sir Charles sent this clergyman the papers in the divorce case,
which had been collected by Mr. Chesson [Footnote: Mr. Chesson had died
earlier in this year; and the token of Sir Charles Dilke's gratitude to
this defender of unpopular causes is commemorated in the High-Altar of
Holy Trinity Church, Upper Chelsea, which he presented in memory of his
friend. Sir Charles wrote: 'He had been for many years a useful man in
politics, and he was to me at this period a very precious friend; one of
the best and truest men I ever knew; he had been the most helpful man in
England to the anti-slavery cause of the Northern Abolitionists, the
working man of the Jamaica Committee, and, many years afterwards, of the
Eastern Question Association, and of the Greek Committee; and since his
death no one has taken his place.'] and his associates, and a study of
them turned the Rector of Newent into a strong supporter of the man whom
he had at first denounced.

Dilke's first visit to the Forest of Dean took place in May, 1889. By
this time it was clear that his absence from Parliament could be
terminated at his own pleasure. Mr. Gladstone had intervened almost
officially in the matter. In June, 1889, he again sent for Sir Henry
James, who transmitted the purport of his talk: which was that, while
Mr. Gladstone was most anxious to see Sir Charles back, his opinion was
that steps should not be too quickly taken. Sir Henry thought that Mr.
Gladstone would willingly give his opinion and advice if Sir Charles
thought that would be of any value to him. A few weeks later Mr.
Gladstone called at 76, Sloane Street, but missed Sir Charles.

'In August he wrote to me in regard to his correspondence with
James. The most important passage in the letter was:

'"I deeply feel the loss we sustain in your absence from public
life, after you had given such varied and conclusive proof of high
capacity to serve your country; and I have almost taken it for
granted that with the end of this Parliament, after anything
approaching the usual full term, the ostracism could die a kind of
natural death. And I heartily wish and hope that you may have lying
before you a happy period of public usefulness."'

Sir Charles was in no hurry. Another invitation had reached him, from
Dundee, and 'on November 4th a unanimous request to contest the borough
of Fulham.'

But his determination was to let nothing interrupt the work on his book;
after that, various promises both of writing and speaking had to be

Meanwhile he remained in touch with the political world. 'I carried on a
controversy with Labouchere about his views in favour of reforming the
House of Lords, to which I was bitterly opposed, preferring, if we could
not get rid of it, to go on as we are.' All Labouchere's letters were
full of references to the position of Chamberlain, and Chamberlain
himself came from time to time to discuss that point.

'On December 2nd, 1889, I saw Chamberlain. On October 10th he had
told me that he was clear that ultimately he should join the
Conservatives, unless Mr. Gladstone were soon to go and a
Rosebery-Harcourt combination would come to terms with him about
Ulster. On December 2nd I found a little change back from his
general attitude, and in face of the probable break-up of the
Parnellite party over the O'Shea case, which was beginning to be
talked of in detail, Chamberlain was undecided, he said, and no
doubt thought, between the two parties. But I noted in my diary:
"Labouchere sets him against the Liberals, and Balfour attracts him
to the Tories." It was clear that I thought that the change was but
a temporary one, and that he was certain to return to his attitude
of October, as in fact he did.'

_Problems of Greater Britain_ appeared at the end of January, 1890, and
within a month the edition was exhausted. In America, Sir Charles,
expecting censure, had arranged to reply in the _North American Review_
to his censors; but there was so little adverse comment that he chose
another subject.

Discussion of military problems abounded in the book, but the 'Problems'
treated were by no means only those which concerned military experts.
Mr. Deakin wrote:

'It will not merely be the one book treating authoritatively of the
Empire, and the one book making it known to Britons in Europe, but
it will also be the first book enabling the various groups of
colonies to understand each other, and their individual relation to
the whole of which they form a part.... Knowing some of the
difficulties you encountered ... I have been completely amazed at
the skill or the intuition with which you have caught the right tone
of local colours and the true tendency of our political and social

'On July 23rd, 1890, I lunched with McArthur [Footnote: Mr. W. A.
McArthur, Liberal Whip and member of Parliament, who had made Sir
Charles's acquaintance in 1886, and become a warm personal friend.]
to meet Schnadhorst, who had returned from South Africa, and who
warmly pressed my standing at the General Election, and I allowed
myself to be persuaded so far as to promise that I would consider
the matter in connection with the offer of any first-rate seat.'

Different constituencies were mentioned; but in the following October,
when it became known that the then member for the Forest of Dean would
not stand again, Mr. Schnadhorst wrote at once to Sir Charles urging him
to let his name be put forward. He added, as an indication of the
general feeling, that the adjacent constituency of South Monmouthshire
had also sent in a request for Sir Charles's services--'which should
assure you that popular support will overwhelm any other influence.'
Accordingly, at the end of this year Sir Charles saw a deputation of
leading men from the Forest, and fixed a date on which he would give a
reply to a formal invitation. Having spent Christmas in his house at
Toulon, he returned thence in February, 1891, met a further deputation,
and agreed to give his public reply in the Forest in March.

In December, 1890, Chamberlain had concurred in the decision that,
before Dilke accepted any candidature, there should be published a
digest of the case with annotation and with the new evidence, 'which had
grown up out of Chesson's notes, and which was largely the work of Howel
Thomas, Clarence Smith, Steavenson, and McArthur. This was published in
February, 1891, on my return.' [Footnote: In 1886 he had written: 'In
the course of this winter a committee of friends of mine, got together
by Chesson, and containing Steavenson (afterwards Judge Steavenson), and
Howel Thomas of the Local Government Board, but also containing W. A.
McArthur, M.P., Clarence Smith, ex-Sheriff of London and Middlesex,
afterwards M.P., and Canon MacColl, who were mere acquaintances, or
less, had begun to investigate my case with a view of getting further

'The Cinderford meeting (the central town of the Forest) on March
9th, 1891, was unanimous, and after it we remained chiefly in the
Forest of Dean for a long time. I had promised to give my final
reply in June. At the meeting of March I had only stated that if,
after all the attacks which might be made upon me, they should
remain in the same mind, I would accept.'

Sir Charles was fortunate in his new constituency. Throughout England
there was no other so suited to him; he desired contact with large
bodies of labouring men, and the Forest made him a representative of
that great and typical British Labour group, the miners. He loved 'each
simple joy the country yields,' and, whereas almost everywhere else a
mining district is scarred, defaced, and blackened, here pit-shafts were
sunk into glades as beautiful as any park could show, forest stretches
of oak and beech enveloped that ugliness in green and gold, and from
many a rising ground you might look over the broad vale where the wide
Severn sweeps round a horseshoe curve and the little, unspoilt town of
Newnham stands set in beauty, winter or summer.

Newnham was dear to Sir Charles, and there he stayed for visits in
winter. But the place of his most frequent and prolonged abode in his
constituency was the Speech House, built in the very heart of the
woodland, remote from any town, yet at a centre of the communal life;
for outside it, on a wide space of sward, the Forest miners held their
yearly meeting, their 'speech-day.' The miners' interest, which he
represented, was not of recent growth, nor arising out of some great
enterprise of capital; it linked itself with those rights of commonage
of which he had always been a chief champion, and appealed not only to
the radical but to the antiquarian in him. The 'free miners' privileges
marked only one of many ancient customs in that Crown domain which he
studied and guarded.

As in 1867 and 1868 he had made it his business to be sure that the
electors whose votes he sought should know his opinions, so far as
possible, not on one subject, but on all, so now in 1891, at his
meetings throughout the constituency, he unfolded the whole of his
political faith.

He developed in speech after speech the views which he had put forward
in _A Radical Programme_, published in 1890, and in a great speech at
Glasgow on March 11th of that year. His views on Housing, as given in
his Glasgow speech and afterwards dealt with in his Forest campaign,
show how far he was in advance of the recommendations made in the Report
of the Royal Commission on Housing of the Poor.

'As chairman of that Commission, I had to instruct the secretary
working with myself to draw such a report as would at least obtain a
majority upon the Commission, and we succeeded in drawing a report
that obtained a unanimity of votes; but, of course, to do so we had
to put forward the points in which we felt that many would concur,
and to keep out our most extreme suggestions. I personally would go
much farther, and would allow towns to build or hire or buy, and
would encourage them to solve the problem for themselves, and not
ask the State to help them, except by setting free their hands and
allowing them to obtain land cheaply and to tax themselves freely
for the purpose.... Gladly would I see towns armed with the powers
to destroy, without compensation, in extreme cases, filthy
dwellings, where it is proved to the satisfaction of the magistrates
that the owners are in fault, and the sites of such dwellings might
be obtained by a cheap process. In all cases we ought to give powers
to public bodies to take land for public purposes at a fair price
... and by the adoption of the principle of betterment ... owners
would be called upon to make special contribution towards schemes
which would improve their property at large.'

He dwelt on the sufferings of the working classes owing to improvements
which ejected them from their dwellings, and urged that the Local
Authority should in all cases come to terms as to rehousing before
granting any facilities for improvements.

For land he advocated taxation of unearned increment and fixity of
tenure under fair rents fixed by judicial courts, with power to the
community to buy up land at its real price.

He also advocated, not only the limitation of hours of work, a principle
to which he had been converted by the Industrial Remuneration Conference
of 1885, but that the workers should be qualified for the enjoyment of
their leisure by educational opportunities. He urged the example of
Switzerland in making education compulsory up to sixteen years of age,
and that of Ontario in granting free education up to the age of

He advocated municipal Socialism, by giving to municipalities the widest
possible power to deal with local needs, and, passing from local
expenditure to that of the State, he dealt with the need for graduation
of Imperial taxation, and urged the equalization of the death duties (as
between real and personal estate) and making these duties progressive.
He would raise them gradually to 25 per cent. By such means we should
attain the double purpose of raising money and discouraging the
possession of large estates, which are the cause of the existence of a
too numerous idle class.

Adult suffrage and one man or woman, one vote, was always a part of his

In his utterances the change from individualism to collectivism is
marked. 'We were all Tory anarchists once,' he used to say in reviewing
economic theories of the sixties, and the change which had come over the
attitude of economists to social questions. His own conversion was so
thorough that in industrial questions he acted often as a pioneer, and
his constituency adopted his views on the limitation of hours by
legislation as in the demand for a legal eight-hour day. [Footnote:
Speeches in Forest of Dean and elsewhere (1890-1891). _Radical
Programme_, 1890.]

He had laid it down as a condition of acceptance of the candidature for
the Forest that there must be 'full and absolute belief' in him and in
his word. Time was given for the personal attack to develop, and it was
made by pamphlet propaganda with unsparing virulence, but entirely
without result. Not a dozen Liberals in the division declared themselves
affected by it; and 'on June 11th, 1891, I gave my consent to stand for
Parliament at a meeting held at Lydney, which was extraordinarily
successful and unanimous.'

The chair was taken by Mr. Thomas Blake, who had been member for the
division, and who in the darkest hour of Sir Charles's political life
had come forward with a proposal to resign and make way for him. He was
there now to say that, if Sir Charles would stand, he himself would act
as unpaid election agent. On the platform were all the leading Liberals
of the Forest, among them Canon Wood of Newent, whose opposition had
been turned into strenuous advocacy. There also was 'Mabon' to speak for
himself and the Welsh miners, and from the outside world Mr. Reginald
McKenna, an inseparable friend. Sir Charles's speech, which he counted
to have been the best of his life, dealt briefly with the leading
political topics of the day--Home Rule and the Radical programme--but
soon passed to the personal issue. He recalled the change from the murky
dreariness of March to the height of summer loveliness which reigned
about them, and the change no less great in the moral atmosphere. He
reviewed the history of the attacks that had been made, the avowed
determination to prevent his being their member; and at the close he
declared himself satisfied that their trust was fully his. 'My
conditions have been fulfilled. I accept the confidence you have reposed
in me. I trust that strength may be given to me to justify that
confidence, and I reply--not for a day, nor for a year, but from this
day forward, for better for worse; and thereto I plight my troth.
To-morrow we go forth from among you and commit our honour to your

He was justified in the confidence which he reposed in them. One attempt
was made to raise the personal issue against him; and its result showed
that any man would be imprudent who sought to oppose Sir Charles Dilke
in the Forest of Dean except on strictly political grounds. First and
last no member of Parliament ever got more loyal support; but no man
ever trusted less to personal popularity. He carefully developed the
whole electoral machinery. The month which he spent every autumn in the
Forest was very largely a month of work on the detail of registration,
and the register as he caused it to be kept might be put forward as an
example of perfection unapproached elsewhere in Great Britain.

'A day or two afterwards I received at a public meeting at Chelsea
Town Hall an address signed by 11,000 inhabitants of Chelsea,
congratulating me on my return to public life. It was signed by
persons on both sides of politics. In reply, I made another good
speech; but it was a great occasion.'

Among the letters which reached him from all quarters was one from Sir
Henry Parkes, who wrote:

'Chief Secretary, New South Wales,
'Sydney, _March 9th_, 1891.

'I still hold the belief that few men have before them a broader
path of honourable usefulness than you. May you succeed in nobly
serving the dear old country!'

He received now and henceforward many invitations to address labouring
men, especially from the miners of Great Britain.

At Cannock Chase, in August, 1890, he attended his first miners'
meeting. How rapidly the list increased may be judged by the fact that,
speaking in July, 1891, at Ilkeston, he alluded to his conferences with
miners of Yorkshire, of Lancashire, of Cheshire, Somerset,
Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Staffordshire, and the Swansea and Neath
districts in England and Wales, and of Fife and Ayrshire in Scotland.
Attempts had not been wanting to stimulate against him the strong
puritanism of these people, especially in South Wales; the answer had
come from men like Tom Ellis, [Footnote: Mr. Thomas E. Ellis was a
Liberal Whip at this time.] who brought him to address the quarrymen of
Blaenau Festiniog, or like Mabon--William Abraham--miner, bard, and
orator, who organized a gigantic torchlight procession of his own
constituents in the Rhondda Valley to welcome Sir Charles and Lady
Dilke, and who, at Lydney, when Sir Charles finally accepted their
invitation, congratulated the Forest of Dean on having secured the
services of 'one who was not only a political leader, but a real Labour

Parliamentary action in favour of an Eight Hours Bill formed the burden
of Sir Charles's discourse at all these meetings. Accepting a special
invitation to the annual conference of miners in the beginning of 1892,
he dealt with the proposal, then strongly advocated, of a general
international strike, pointing out that this measure 'should not be even
talked about until they had seen the exhaustion of all other means of
obtaining what they wanted.' It meant civil war; would 'disorganize the
whole economic condition of the country and the trade of the Empire, and
produce also a great feeling of exasperation between classes.' He
pressed them to consider whether, in the event of such an international
conflict, the whole brunt would not fall on Great Britain. In Belgium
and in France there was no such strength of organization as among them;
and a general strike succeeding in Great Britain, but failing on the
Continent, would be a national danger. He proposed, as an alternative,
co-operation with the British representatives of other trades, for whom
also Parliamentary interference was demanded. In the discussion which
followed, the weight of his argument was fully recognized, and a
resolution favouring the international strike was amended into one
calling for Parliamentary action.

In the following June Sir Charles Dilke attended the Miners'
International Congress, and spoke at the banquet given to foreign
delegates. A month later, when the General Election came on, 'thousands
of handbills and posters,' says Mr. Thomas Ashton, 'were sent to the
Forest of Dean by our federation recommending the workers to vote for
the working man's candidate.'

Nor were his public utterances on Labour questions limited to Great
Britain; request came from a society of the Belgian economists for a
lecture on some subject connected with Greater Britain, and he chose the
Australian strike and the position of Labour in the Colonies. This
discourse was delivered by Sir Charles in Brussels on his way back from
France at the beginning of 1891, and he then, he says, 'made the
acquaintance of all the leading people on both sides in that city.'

As early as May, 1891, Dilke had made up his mind (and stated it in a
letter to Count Herbert Bismarck) that the Liberal party would win the
next election. The question of the Leadership was raised at the end of
the session in a letter from Chamberlain:

'I am told that Mr. Gladstone is much shaken by his late illness,
and I cannot see how he can ever lead the House again, though his
name will always be a tower of strength in the constituencies.'

But in December Mr. Chamberlain said that he did not think the prospects
of a General Election were so good for Mr. Gladstone as they had been
six months ago.

'James, dining at my house, had said a long time before this that
the prospects of the Liberals might look rosy, but that they had not
realized the extent to which the Liberal Unionists intended to spend
their money upon Labour candidates;' and this danger 'began to show
itself more clearly about this time.' On December 28th 'I had an
amusing letter from Cyril Flower:

'"Surely for a real good muddle in political affairs, Welsh, Irish,
Scotch, and English, there has never been a bigger, and what with
Pamellites and anti-Parnellites (Christian and anti-Christian)
Whigs, Labour candidates, Radicals, Tories, Jacobites, and Liberal
Unionists, the next House will be as rum a kettle of fish as ever
stewed since George III. The worst of it is, as the House gets more
and more divided (like the French Chambers) into sets, it also
becomes more and more incapable of getting through its business, and
the littleness of the individual members becomes daily more

The real difficulty for the Liberals was, however, the question of
leadership; and Sir Charles wrote an article in the _Speaker_ [Footnote:
September 5th, 1891.] in support of one of his few paradoxes--that Great
Britain would be better off without a Second Chamber, but that, given a
House of Lords, the Prime Minister should be a member of it. For this
reason he urged that though, 'when the moment has come for Mr. Gladstone
to think that he has earned a change into the position of adviser from
that of military chief, Sir William Harcourt will occupy the place he
pleases to assume--he will be able to make himself Prime Minister if he
chooses'--yet 'the party would be strongest with Mr. Gladstone for
adviser, Sir William Harcourt, as fighting chief, sharing the
responsibility with the leader in the Lords more fully than he would if
he were Prime Minister in the Lower House'; and he named Lord Spencer as
possible Prime Minister, since Lord Rosebery should be Foreign
Secretary, and the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister should not be
the same man, 'so heavy is the work of each of these two offices.'

With the opening of 1892 Parliament entered on its sixth, and last,
session, and 'on April 1st I received a letter from Chamberlain, in
which he said:

'"My own firm conviction is that parties will be nearly divided, and
if Mr. G. has a majority nothing will be done either in regard to
Ireland or to social questions in Great Britain.

'"I do not _expect_ the election till late in the autumn, and,
judging from appearances, the Opposition are much divided and rather
depressed in spirit. My prediction is that, unless the Gladstonians
give up the idea of a separate Parliament (I do not say extended
local government), they will not obtain power--though they may
obtain office--for this generation.

'"This is a bold prophecy for you, but it is my sincere opinion."'

Right essentially--for there was a very small Liberal majority--Mr.
Chamberlain was wrong on the point of date: the election came in July,

In the Forest proper, the local war-chant, 'Yaller for iver, an' Blue in
the river!' was shouted everywhere. But the constituency, 'a microcosm
of England, industrial and agricultural,' as Sir Charles had called it,
had districts where support of the 'working man's candidate' could only
be whispered; where closed hands were furtively opened to show a
marigold clasped in them; where perhaps, as a farmer's trap drove by
carrying voters to the poll, the voters, outwardly blue-ribboned, would
open their coats a little and show where the yellow was pinned. Lady
Dilke on polling-day took charge of these districts. Yellow flowers from
every garden were heaped into her carriage as she passed; and when votes
came to be counted, more than one had been spoilt by too enthusiastic
votaries who wrote across their paper, 'For Lady Dilke.' Her courage and
devotion had touched the loyalty of the Forest people, and she received
from them a tribute of genuine love. One who accompanied her tells of a
later day when, after a terrible mine accident, Lady Dilke came down to
visit the homes on which that blow had fallen. In one a young widow sat
staring dry-eyed at the fire or turning tearless looks on the child that
played near her. But when Lady Dilke entered, the woman rose from her
chair, and, running to her visitor, put her arms about her neck, and as
the two held each other, tears came at last.

Sir Charles Dilke was returned by a majority of two to one, and, he
writes laconically, 'in August was well received in the House of

In 1891 Sir Charles had expressed some surprise at hostile comment in
the _Times_ and other important organs on his selection as candidate for
the Forest of Dean, and Mr. Chamberlain told him candidly that opinion
in society and in the House itself was hostile to his candidature, and
that he must look forward to a 'mauvais quart d'heure.' But it was
otherwise. After his election there appears to have been a general
expectation that he would be silent, and keep out of the range of
hostile criticism. As a fact, he fell directly into his old habit of
raising every subject which interested him. Parliament met again on
January 31st, 1893, and as soon as notice of questions could be given,
Sir Charles was reviving interest in a subject familiar to him of old,
by asking the new Liberal Government to issue papers which had been
omitted from the official publications of France and Great Britain, but
had been published in the Madagascar Red Book.

Amongst congratulations on his election came one from the Prime Minister
at Antananarivo, rejoicing that the threatened freedom of Madagascar
would again have his support, and transmitting the Red Book just named.
Within the first week of the session Sir Charles had questioned
Government about the arbitration as to the Newfoundland fisheries; and
concerning a vacancy in the Bombay command, with inquiry as to whether
amalgamation of the Indian armies would be considered [Footnote: The
amalgamation of the Indian armies was achieved by abolition, in 1894, of
the separate military commands of the Presidencies.]--a change which he
had long advocated. He also reappeared in a different field, but one
familiar to him, by introducing a Bill to amend the system of voting in
local elections. Then, on February 11th, while the Address to the Crown
was still under discussion, he took part in a full-dress debate.

Mr. James Lowther, the leading Protectionist of days when Protection was
not a fashionable creed, proposed an amendment seeking to restrict the
immigration of destitute aliens; and he found a seconder in a trade-
unionist, Mr. Havelock Wilson, who spoke for the seamen. After Mr.
Gladstone had argued strongly against the proposal, but had shown his
perception of the widespread support which it received by expressing
willingness to appoint a committee of inquiry, Sir Charles Dilke rose,
and, claiming to speak for a small minority, opposed legislation and
committee alike.

The force of his appeal to the House lay in the description which he
gave of persecution directed against the Jews in Russia, coupled with
citation of many previous instances in which England had afforded
asylum, and had gained both advantage and respect by so doing. First-
hand knowledge of Russian conditions and detailed mastery of the
historical case were combined in what one of the more important speakers
for the motion (Sir William Marriott) called a 'magnificent speech'; and
Sir Charles himself observes that it turned many votes. Mr. Mundella
wrote to him after the debate: 'I think it was the best I ever heard
from you, and, moreover, was courageous and just.'

Mr. Mundella was no doubt struck by the fact that a man coming in, as
Sir Charles did, specially dependent on the support of organized Labour,
had in his first speech combated the view of Labour interests which was
put forward by trade-unionists. Sir Charles's reply to the trade-
unionists ran thus: If these aliens come to England, they very often
join trade-unions, and so accept the higher standard; if they do not,
the products of their work come in and compete even more disastrously.
From this there lay an argument against Free Trade, and this he
characteristically admitted. Free Trade was only a balance of
advantages, and Labour politicians, he pointed out, considered that the
arguments against it were outweighed by countervailing considerations.
To exclude the immigrants and not to exclude the products of their
labour would be inconsistent, and also it would lower the nation's
standard of humanity.

Early in the session he spoke again on the qualifications for membership
of local elective bodies, and incidentally condemned the proposed
Ministry of Labour as 'a sham remedy.' [Footnote: See "Labour," Chapter
LII., pp. 347, 348.] Not to create new Ministries, but to reorganize and
redistribute their work, was his policy, advocated repeatedly both in
the House of Commons and from the chair of the Statistical Society. He
spoke also on redistribution in this session, and these speeches were
'successful in their business way. Thus I regained influence of a quiet

'For the first time' (1893) 'I dined at the Speaker's third dinner,
or "dinner of the discontented." The first dinner each year is to
the Government, the second to the late Government, and the third to
the Privy Councillors who were not of either of the others, and to a
few other leading members. Little Northcote was on the Speaker's
left, parted only by the Speaker from Randolph. I was opposite,
reflecting, whenever Jim Lowther would leave off slapping me on the

On January 29th, 1893, Sir Charles noted in his diary:

'There is a league between Harcourt and Labouchere against the
Rosebery-Asquith combination. Labouchere showed me a letter from
Harcourt: "Hell would be pleasant compared to the present

'On my return to the House of Commons,' notes Sir Charles, 'I found
Chamberlain's debating power marvellous, but, while his method has
improved, it ... no longer carries the conviction of conviction with
it, which, to me, is everything.

'Asquith is the only new man who is "any good"--a bold, strong man,
of great intellectual power. Sir E. Grey is able, but terribly
Whiggish. Hanbury has improved, and so has Harcourt. The others are
where they were.'

Mr. Asquith he had met for the first time in 1891, at Mr. Chamberlain's
house, and found him 'much more intelligent than the ordinary run of

Dilke and Chamberlain, once closely united through a long period of
public life, had now been working apart for more than seven years.
Strong minds, that in the collaboration of their earlier policy mutually
influenced each other, had by a turn of personal fortune combining with
a great political change followed divided destinies; and their evolution
carried them far apart. They had met in private, had maintained the
personal bond, [Footnote: 'At this time I was searching for a secretary,
and Chamberlain found me Hudson, who, as he said, "fulfils all your
requirements."' The connection between the secretary and his chief ended
only with Sir Charles's death.] and in so meeting must inevitably have
been prompted by a desire to minimize differences. But now they stood
both again in the public arena--the one returning after the lapse of
years, the other sustained by an unbroken continuance of Parliamentary
activity--and the situation became difficult.

There were not many men who could work with Mr. Chamberlain in equal
alliance. For that a man was needed, confident enough in his own weight
not to fear being overbalanced in the combination; great enough in
nature to be devoid of jealousy; and wise enough to understand that
restless activity was the law of his ally's being. Upon those conditions
only was it possible for a cooler, more temperate, and, on some
subjects, better instructed politician to steer the tremendous motive
power which Mr. Chamberlain's personal force afforded. What was lost to
the world when the crippling of Sir Charles disjointed that alliance can
never be reckoned. Not only the alliance, but the personal intimacy, was
broken when their political ways sundered on the Home Rule division.
Friendship remained; but it was not possible that men of that mark, who
had met incessantly in the closest confederacy, could meet easily when
the very groundwork of their intimacy was gone.

Sir Charles worked hard for a Bill specially interesting now to his

On April 18th, 1893, 'I wrote to Chamberlain and to Randolph Churchill
as to the Miners Bill, as its authors had asked me to lay plans for the
debate. From both I had replies favourable to local option, and on my
writing again to Chamberlain he answered: "The sentence about the Labour
leaders escaped me because I am, I confess, impatient of their extremely
unpractical policy, and also because I believe their real influence is
immensely exaggerated. A political leader having genuine sympathy with
the working classes and a practical programme could, in my opinion,
afford to set them aside. Mr. Gladstone has no real sympathy with the
working classes, and a perfect hatred for all forms of Socialism. His
concessions are extorted from him, and are the price paid for votes, and
therefore I do not wonder at the pressure put upon him."'

In the first week in May, 1893, 'I brought forward my Egypt motion,
spoke for the Miners Bill, and carried a resolution, drawn for us by the
Lord Chancellor himself, as to the appointment of the magistrates for
counties. From this time forward I shall not name my speeches and
ordinary action in the House, as I had now regained the position which I
had held in it up to 1878, though not my position of 1878-1880, nor that
of 1884-85.'

No Parliament is exactly like its predecessor, and changed conditions
had also changed the character of Sir Charles Dilke's Parliamentary
personal surroundings; but they were drawn now, as of old, from neither
party exclusively. The group comprised several young supporters of the
Government, like Mr. McKenna, who, having failed in Clapham, wrote to
Sir Charles on July 7th, 1892, of his regret at not being near him in
the House of Commons 'to go on learning from you--I don't mean
information, but patience and judgment and steadfastness.' Mr. McKenna
had now been returned for South Monmouthshire, one of the constituencies
which had been anxious to secure Sir Charles himself. Here Sir Charles
had many devoted friends, who gave introductions to Mr. McKenna, which
led to his adoption as candidate, and he wrote again to Sir Charles on
his election: 'I am glad to owe it to you.' Old friends--as, for
example, Mr. Morley--remained, and from the ranks of the Opposition at
least one rarely interesting figure stands out, that of H. O.
Arnold-Forster, who with Mrs. Arnold-Forster came to rank among the
nearest friends of Sir Charles and Lady Dilke. The political tie was
here due to common advocacy of army reform, and it took shape in a kind
of formal alliance.

'In November, 1893, in the debates on the Local Government Bill, I
carried a good deal of weight, and was able greatly to improve the
measure. I also in December made a speech in a naval debate which
was as successful as my Zulu speech--with as little reason, except
its opportuneness.'

In the Home Rule portion of the session of 1893, Sir Charles was mostly
silent, being, in his own words, inclined to 'keep still' on the main
issue. His only contributions to the long debates were made during the
Committee stage, and concerned the electoral arrangements--a matter upon
which Mr. Gladstone was quick to acknowledge his high competence. When
at last, in 1894, the Bill reached the Lords, it was rejected; and then
the foreseen change of leadership came to pass, and Lord Rosebery was
'popped into Mr. Gladstone's place by an intrigue.' Sir Charles
discussed in the _North American Review_ the result, which his Memoir
describes thus. Admitting that the choice, which 'came as a surprise to
the Liberal party in the country,' would strengthen the Government in
Scotland and in London by Lord Rosebery's personal prestige, he none the
less foresaw that the new leader would come into conflict 'with all that
is active in the Liberal party,' unless he could renounce 'his personal
wishes in favour of a reformed but a strong and indeed strengthened
Second Chamber.' His chance of success lay in putting himself as a peer
at the head of a movement against the veto of the House of Lords. 'The
chance is before him, but he is a cautious Scotchman who seldom makes up
his mind too soon, and who may possibly make it up too late.'

Meanwhile 'I was pressed to join Labouchere and Storey in opposing him,
which I declined to do, on the ground that I was concerned with the
measures proposed, but not with the men.'

Speaking in the Potteries on November 22nd, 'to a big audience which
took it well,' he 'attacked Rosebery about the Lords.'

'He would like to see Lord Rosebery in the popular House in which he
had never sat, and he would like to see Lord Salisbury back again.
Their ideas would undergo a change. The reform of the Upper House
was now not a Liberal but a Conservative nostrum.... It would be
necessary for the Radicals to fight even against their Liberal
leaders to prevent lengthening the life of the Parliamentary sick
man.... The Liberal party was still hampered by men who wanted
peerages for themselves and their sons, and he should not believe
that the leaders were in earnest until the Liberal party gave over
making peers. Moderate men must be warned by the example of what had
recently happened in Belgium, where the moderate Liberals had been
promptly suffocated between the two opposing forces of Toryism and
Socialism, as they were too pretentious to submit to Tory discipline
and too slavish to become frankly democratic.'





In the period covered by the earlier portion of the previous chapter,
Sir Charles Dilke had used his freedom as an opportunity for travel.

'During a visit to Paris, in the winter of 1886, paid in order to
discuss the question of the work which ultimately appeared in France
as _L'Europe en 1887_, I saw a good deal of Castelar, who was
visiting Paris at the same time; and it was to us that he made a
speech, which has become famous, about Boulanger, who was beginning
to attract great notice, declaring in French, "I know that General
Boulanger--he is a Spanish General;" meaning that the Spanish habit
of the military insurrection under the leadership of a showy General
was extending to France. [Footnote: In 1889 Sir Charles notes: 'My
wife and I were asked to dinner to meet General Boulanger; and I
decided that I would not go, neither did she.']

'Chamberlain, during his journey abroad, had seen a good deal of Sir
William White, the Ambassador at Constantinople, who wrote to me
about him: "We became friends, and spoke naturally of you, our
mutual friend. I could not help seeing Chamberlain's immense
quickness of observation and talents. In foreign politics he
appeared to me to be beginning his ABC, but disposed to learn...."
The Ambassador went on to say that the intimacy between France and
Russia was coming to the front at Constantinople, and that
Bismarck's Ambassador did not seem to take umbrage at it.

'In September, 1887, we went to France, where our journey had
nothing of great interest, except a visit to Vaux-le-Vicomte,
Fouquet's house, [Footnote: Near Melun, in the Seine-et-Marne, where
Fouquet gave the celebrated fete referred to. See _Memoires de
Fouquet_, by A. Cheruel, vol. ii., chap. xxxv.] which remains very
much as Fouquet left it, although the gardens in which he received
Louis XIV. in the great fete recounted by Dumas have been completed
by their present proprietor, with whom we stayed. We afterwards
visited Constantinople, and stayed for ten days at Therapia, and
then at Athens, where I had a great reception, as indeed throughout
Greece, on account of my previous services to the Greek cause; in
some cases payment was refused on this ground. [Footnote: A letter
from Lady Dilke of October 29th, 1887, written to Cardinal Manning,
a constant correspondent, deals with one of these episodes:

"We were received at the Piraeus by an order not to open our boxes,
an ignorant underling being severely rebuked, and bid to 'look at
the name on the boxes. Would you ask money from one who has done so
much for Greece?' In short, we had a royal reception. The Prime
Minister, the Metropolitan, and the other Ministers and their
families, and all dignitaries, ecclesiastical, academical,
political, military, all vied in showing Charles honour. The crowd
watched outside for a glimpse of him, and M. Ralli, when I said how
touched he was at their faithful gratitude, said: 'It is not only
our gratitude we wish to show him. You have no idea of the intense
sympathy felt for him in Athens.' We had but three days to give, and
so missed the great public banquet and the torchlight procession
which the students wished to organize. At Corinth the King and Queen
were equally kind."]

'Our journey to Turkey and Greece was full of interest. The Sultan
showed us immense courtesy. Greece after twenty-five years seemed to
me as lovely as ever. The Eastern Church were very civil to us, and
the reception at the Phanar at Constantinople by the Oecumenical
Patriarch, the Archbishop of Constantinople, Dionysius V., in Synod
was striking. I wrote from Constantinople to Chesson: "The
Bulgarians and the Greeks are both now on excellent terms with the
Turks, although, unfortunately, they still detest one another. The
Sultan does not care two straws about Bulgaria now, and will do
nothing in the matter except mark time. The Greek Patriarch gave us
an official reception, with some Archbishops present, who
represented the Churches of Asia and of the Islands, and showed us
their splendid Byzantine treasures. It is extraordinarily
interesting to see all the effects of St. Chrysostom; but I cannot
help feeling that the Church sold the Empire to the Turks, and would
have been more estimable had it _lost_ its jewels. The last
Constantine tried to reunite the Eastern and Western Churches, and
the poor man was denounced as a heretic, and surrounded only by
Latins when he was killed on the breach. The Church, however, went
through a small martyrdom later on, and was glorified by suffering
at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence, when the then
Patriarch was hanged by the Turks and dragged about for three days
by the Jews. They all seem on very good terms now, and the Patriarch
sang the praises of the present Sultan loudly. The Sultan has been
very civil. I did not want to see him, which doubtless made him the
more anxious to see me. He sent for me twice, and, besides the
audience at the Selamlik, had us to a state dinner given in our
honour at the Haremlik. I refused the Grand Cordon of the Medjidieh,
but Emilia accepted the Grand Cordon of the Chefkat for herself. He
is very anxious to make a good impression, and is having the _Shrine
of Death_ done into Turk!"

'I received a letter of thanks from the Secretary of the Trustees of
the National Portrait Gallery for having obtained for them from the
Sultan a copy of the portrait of Nelson which is in the Treasury at
Constantinople; but what I really tried to obtain was the original,
inasmuch as no one ever sees it where it is.'

Sir Charles Dilke, writing to Mr. Chamberlain an amused account of the
Sultan's advances, says: 'Lady White told Emilia that she heard I was to
be Grand Vizier.'

'My riding tour along the Baluch and Afghan frontiers was,' Sir
Charles notes, 'one of the pleasantest and most interesting
experiences of my life.' [Footnote: He adds, 'I described so fully
in the _Fortnightly Review_, in two articles of March 1st and April
1st, 1889, my riding tour ... that I shall say no more about it.'
This account of the journey is summarized from those articles, the
criticism on military questions being dealt with by Mr. Spenser
Wilkinson in the chapter on Defence (LV.).] Leaving England in
October, 1888, he landed with Lady Dilke at Karachi in November.
They were met by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Frederick Roberts, and
went on over the broad-gauge line, then not officially open, through
the Bolan Pass to Quetta. 'When we reached the picturesque portion
of the pass, we left our carriages for an open truck placed at the
head of the train, in front of two engines, and there we sat with
the fore part of the truck occupied by the paws and head of His
Excellency's dog; next came the one lady of the party and Sir
Frederick Roberts, and then myself and all the staff. The long-
haired warriors and tribesmen, who occupied every point of vantage
on the crags, doubtless thought, and have since told their tribesmen
on their return, that the whole scene was devised to do honour to a

They were travelling over part of 'the great strategic railroad
constructed after the Penjdeh incident, on orders given by the
Government of which I was a member.'

At Quetta he was among the guests of Sir Robert Sandeman, Agent for
British Baluchistan, ruler in all but name of those nominally
independent frontier principalities and clans. 'Quetta conversations
soon brought back reminiscences of far-off days. When I had last seen
Sir Robert Sandeman it had been in London, during the discussion of the
occupation of the Khojak position, in which I sided with him.... We
brought with us or found gathered here all the men who best understood
the problem of frontier defence--a very grave problem, too.'

The party assembled under the roof of the Residency included the
Commander-in-Chief, of whom Sir Charles says: 'Sir Frederick Roberts
knows India as no one else knows it, and knows the Indian Army as no one
else has ever known it'; the Adjutant-General; the Quartermaster-
General, who was Director of Military Intelligence; the Military Member
of Council, General Chesney; and Sir Charles Elliott, the Member of
Council for Public Works, who had charge of the strategic railways. With
them were the Inspectors-General of Artillery and of Military Works, the
Secretary of the Defence Commission, and the General in Command at
Quetta, as well as his predecessor, who had not yet vacated the post.

He saw manoeuvres outside Quetta in the valleys that lead from the
Afghan side, and he had the experience of riding up and down those stony
hill slopes beside the Commander-in-Chief. He explored the Khojak
tunnel, then under process of construction, running through 'a wall-like
range which reminds one of the solitude of Sainte-Baume in Provence,'
surveyed all the defences of Quetta, and then, while Lady Dilke went on
by rail to Simla, he set out to ride, in company with Sir Frederick
Roberts and Sir Robert Sandeman, from Harnai, through the Bori and Zhob
Valleys, towards the Gomul Pass. On that journey he saw great gatherings
of chiefs and tribesmen come in to meet and salute the representatives
of British rule. He watched Sir Robert Sandeman parleying with the
borderers, and was introduced to them as the statesman who had
sanctioned the new road. These were regions beyond the reach of
telegraph, where outposts maintained communications by a pigeon post, of
which the mountain hawk took heavy toll; and each day's journey was a
hard and heavy ride.

The ride continued for twelve days, through scorching sun by day and
bitter cold at night; and every march brought its full portion of
strange and beautiful sights. All the romance of border rule, outposts
among robber tribes, order maintained through the agency of subsidized
chiefs, were disclosed; and even when the conditions of travel changed,
when a train took them from the Upper Indus to Nowshera and Peshawur, it
brought to Sir Charles the opportunity of seeing what interested him no
less than the wild tribal levies--namely, the pick of British regulars
in India, both native and European.

The splendour and beauty of the pageant pleased the eye, and there was
not lacking a dramatic interest. He had seen by Sir Frederick Roberts's
side the mountain battle-ground where the day of Maiwand was avenged and
British prestige restored; now he was present when Ayub Khan, the victor
of Maiwand, voluntarily came forward to hold speech for the first time
with the conqueror who so swiftly blotted out the Afghan's victory.

'On our way back (from India) we stayed at Cairo, and saw much of
Sir Evelyn Baring, Riaz, Mustapha Fehmy, the Khedive, Tigrane,
Yakoub Artin, and the other leading men. At Rome, as we passed
through Italy, I made the acquaintance of many of my wife's friends,
the most interesting of whom was, perhaps, Madame Minghetti, known
to her friends as Donna Laura, and previously Princess Camporeale;
and I obtained through Bonghi, whom we saw both at Naples and at
Rome, an order to see Spezia--an order which was refused by the War
Office, and granted by the Admiralty. The Admiral commanding the
Fleet and the Prefet Maritime were both very kind, and I thoroughly
saw the arsenal, fleet, and forts, with the two Admirals.'

In 1905 Sir Charles writes:

'On September 7th in the year 1891 I started for the French
manoeuvres, to which I had been invited by Galliffet. By sending
over my horses I was able to see the manoeuvres extremely well....

'The Marquis de Galliffet was an interesting figure, a soldier of
the time of Louis XV., who, however, had thoroughly learned his
modern work. There were 125,000 men in the field, but, looking back
to my adventures, I am now more struck by the strange future of the
friends I made than by the interest, great as it was, of the
tactics. We had on the staff almost all those who afterwards became
leading men in the Dreyfus case, on both sides of that affair.
Saussier, the Generalissimo, had with him, to look after the foreign
officers, Colonel (afterwards Sir) Reginald Talbot, Huehne' (German
Military Attache), 'and others--Maurice Weil (the Jew friend of
Esterhazy), who was in the Rennes trial named by the defence as the
real spy, though, I am convinced, innocent. We now know, of course,
that Esterhazy should have been the villain of the play.... General
Billot, afterwards Minister of War, was present, living with
Saussier, as a spectator. Galliffet had under him nearly 120,000
men, but the skeleton enemy was commanded by General Boisdeffre,
afterwards Chief of the Staff, and the leader of the clerical party
in the Ministry of War, and friend, throughout the "affair," of
Billot. General Brault, also afterwards Chief of the Staff, was in
the manoeuvres Chief of the Staff to Galliffet. He, it will be
remembered, also played his part in the "affair," as did Huehne,
named above. On Galliffet's staff, besides General Brault, were
Colonel Bailloud, also concerned in the Dreyfus case; Captain
Picquart, afterwards the youngest Lieutenant-Colonel in the French
army, a brilliant and most thoughtful military scholar, the hero of
the Dreyfus case in its later aspects; the Comte d'Alsace,
afterwards a deputy, and, although a clerical Conservative, a
witness for Dreyfus; and Joseph Reinach, the real author of the
virtual rehabilitation of Dreyfus. It was a singularly brilliant
staff. Bailloud, it may be remembered, afterwards became
Commander-in-Chief of the China Expedition.

'Of those who have not been named, in addition to the remarkable men
who figured in the Dreyfus case, and among the few on this staff who
were not concerned in it, were other interesting persons: the Prince
d'Henin, M. de la Guiche, and a man who was interesting, and figures
largely in memoirs, Galliffet's bosom friend, the Marquis du Lau
d'Allemans. "Old Du Lau," as he is generally called, was a rich _bon
vivant_, with a big house in Paris, who throughout life has been a
sort of perpetual "providence" to Galliffet, going with him
everywhere, even to the Courts where Galliffet was a favourite
guest. Reinach and Du Lau were not soldiers in the strict sense of
the term, although members of Galliffet's staff. Maurice Weil,
though a great military writer, was himself not a soldier, although
on Saussier's headquarters staff in Paris and in the field. Weil and
Reinach were both officers of the territorial army: Weil a Colonel
of artillery, Reinach a Lieutenant of Chasseurs a Cheval. Du Lau was
a dragoon Lieutenant of stupendous age--possibly an ex-Lieutenant,
with the right to wear his uniform when out as a volunteer on
service. I was walking with him one day in a village, when a small
boy passing said to a companion "What a jolly old chap for a
Lieutenant!" And it was strange indeed to see the long white hair of
the old Marquis streaming from beneath his helmet. He was older, I
think, than Galliffet, who was retiring, and who received during
these manoeuvres the plain military medal, which is the joy of
French hall-porters, but the highest distinction which can be
conferred by the Republic on a General who is a member of the
Supreme Council of War and at the top of the tree in the Legion of
Honour. Joseph Reinach was, of course, young enough to be the son of
old Du Lau, but since leaving the regular regiment of Chasseurs--in
which he had done his service at Nancy, while Gyp (his future enemy
and that of his race) was the reigning Nancy beauty--he had expanded
in figure so that his sky-blue-and-silver and fine horse did not
save him from comments by the children who had noted Du Lau's age.
The Duc d'Aumale was also present on horseback as a spectator, but
his official friends, and their friends, were forced to ignore him,
as he had not yet made his peace with the Republic.

'As soon as I had joined Galliffet, I wrote to my wife: "Conduct of
troops most orderly. It is now, of course, here, as it was already
in 1870 with the Germans, that, the soldier being Guy Boys
[Footnote: Guy Boys was Lady Dilke's nephew; Jim Haslett the
ferryman at Dockett. Sir Charles was illustrating the fact that all
classes serve together both in the ranks and as officers.] and Jim
Haslett and all of us, and not a class apart, there is no 'military
tone.' Discipline, nevertheless, seems perfect, but are the officers
as good as the non-commissioned officers and the men? I doubt.
Promotion from the ranks combined with special promotion to the
highest ranks for birth of all nobles who have any brains at all is
a combination which gives results inferior to either the Swiss
democratic plan or the Prussian aristocratic. Perhaps a fifth of the
officers are noble, but more than half the powerful officers are
noble; and here we are with the sides commanded by the Prince
d'Eckmuehl and the Prince de Sartigues." (During the first days of
the manoeuvres the four army corps and the two cavalry divisions
were combined under Galliffet; half the army was commanded by
General Davoust, who, of course, is the first of these two Princes;
and Galliffet had for "second title" the name of his Provencal
principality near Marseilles.) "You may say, 'The Generalissimo,
sausage-maker, restores the balance.' But the real Generalissimo is
Miribel, Aristo of the Aristos--for he is a poor noble of the South.
Another of the army corps is commanded by a Breton, Kerhuel, and the
other by a man of army descent for ever and ever, Negrier, son and
nephew of Napoleonic Generals."'

'An amusing billet adventure was named in another letter to my wife:

'"I am in a Legitimist chateau: one side of the room, Callots; the
other, Comte de Chambord. Over the bed a large crucifix. The room
belongs to 'Mathilde.' But as I live with the staff I do not see the
family. The butler is charming, and the fat coachman turned out two
of _his_ horses to make room for 'Madame' and 'W'f'd'r.' I had to
write a letter to a French newspaper, which had charged me with
turning my back on the standard of a regiment instead of bowing to
it, and dated from this place: 'Chateau de Boussencourt.'"'

His observations were summed up in an article for the _Fortnightly_,
which was later translated into French by an officer on the staff of
the Commander-in-Chief, and, after appearing in a review, was published
separately by the military library. His strictures on the handling of
the cavalry led to a controversy in France into which he was obliged
later to enter.

'As I passed through Paris on my return, Galliffet wrote: "You are
as a writer full of kindness, but very dangerous as an observer, and
next time I shall certainly put you on the treatment of the military
attaches--plenty of dinners, plenty of close carriages, plenty of
gendarmes, no information, and a total privation of field-glasses.
This will be a change for you, especially in the matter of dinners.
Lady Dilke cannot have forgiven me for sending you back in such
wretched condition."'

M. Joseph Beinach wrote in 1911:

'Nous recommandions tous deux le rajeunissement des cadres. II s'est
trouve enfin un ministre de la guerre, M. le general Brun, pour
aborder resolument le probleme. Comme nos souvenirs revenaient
frequemment aux belles journees de ces manoeuvres de l'Est! Je
revois encore Dilke chevauchant avec nous dans l'etat-major de
Gallififet. II y avait la le general Brault, le general Darras, le
general Zurlinden, le "commandant" Picquart, Thierry d'Alsace, le
marquis Du Lau.... Ah! la "bataille" de Margerie-Haucourt, sous le
grand soleil qui, dissipant les nuages de la matinee, fit scintiller
tout a coup comme une moisson d'acier les milliers de fusils des
armees reunies! Comme c'est loin! Que de tombeaux!... Mais nous
sommes bien encore quelques-uns a avoir garde intactes nos ames
d'alors!' [Footnote: An article in the _Figaro_ written after Sir
Charles Dilke's death.]


It was in 1889 that Sir Charles Dilke came into touch with Cecil Rhodes
during a visit paid by the latter to England.

'In July, 1889, I saw a good deal of Cecil Rhodes, who was brought
to my house by Sir Charles Mills, [Footnote: Then Agent-General for
the Cape and a great personal friend.] and afterwards came back
several times. He was at this moment interesting, full of life and
vigour, but when he returned to England after the British South
Africa Company had been started he seemed to have become half torpid
and at the same time dogmatic. The simplicity which had
distinguished him up to the end of his visit of 1889 seemed to have
disappeared when he came back in 1891; and his avowed intention of
ultimately coming to England to take part in English politics seemed
also a strange mistake, as he was essentially a man fitted for
colonial life, and had none of the knowledge, or the mode of
concealing want of knowledge, one or other of which is required for
English public work.'

'In August, 1889, I received a note from Rhodes from Lisbon which
constitutes, I believe, a valuable autograph, for his friends all
say he "never writes." I had asked him to clear up an extraordinary
passage in one of Kruger's speeches (on which I afterwards commented
in _Problems of Greater Britain_), and Rhodes wrote:

'"The fates were unpropitious to my day on the river, as matters
required me in South Africa, from which place I propose to send you
the famous speech you want. I quite see the importance, if true, of
his utterance, but I can hardly think Kruger would have said it. I
hope you will still hold to your intention of visiting the Cape, and
I can only say I will do all I can to assist you in seeing those
parts with which I am connected. I am afraid Matabeleland will be in
too chaotic a state to share in your visit, but between the diamonds
and the gold there is a good extent to travel over. I am doubtful
about your getting Kruger's speech before you publish, but it will
be the first thing I will attend to on my arrival at the Cape.
Kindly remember me to Lady Dilke.

'"Yours truly,

'"C. J. Rhodes."

'At the beginning of November, 1889, I heard again from Rhodes, who
wrote from Kimberley:

'"Dear Sir Charles Dilke,

'"I have come to the conclusion that Kruger never made use of the
expression attributed to him, as I can find no trace of it in the
reports of his speech on the Second Chamber. I send you a copy of

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest