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

Part 7 out of 11

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the draft law....

'"Thanks for your news of Bismarck's map. Their true boundary is the
20th degree of longitude, and it will take them all their time to
retain even that, as the Damaras are entirely opposed to them, and
the German company which nominally holds that territory will soon
have to liquidate for lack of funds. It is one thing to paint a map,
and it is quite another to really occupy and govern a new territory.
I am still waiting for the news of the signature of the charter,
which I hope will not be much longer delayed. I think Kruger will
find his hands quite full enough without interfering with me. He is
still trying to get them to give him Swaziland in return for
non-interference in Matabeleland. The Matabele King (Lobengula)
still continues to slaughter his subjects, and makes the minds of
our representatives at times very uncomfortable. It is undoubtedly a
difficult problem to solve; but the plain fact remains that a savage
chief with about 8,000 warriors is not going to keep out the huge
wave of white men now moving north, and so I feel it will come all

'"C. J. Rhodes."

'In March, 1890, I received a letter from Rhodes from the Kimberley
Club, in which, after giving some facts with regard to the state of
South Africa, he went on: "I see that Home Rule is gaining ground.
[Footnote: Rhodes had given Mr. Parnell a subscription of L10,000.]
It really means the American Constitution. It is rather a big
change, and the doubt is whether the conservative nature of the
English people will face it when they understand what Home Rule
means. Schnadhorst is here, but is still suffering very acutely from

The reference to 'Bismarck's map' in the second of these communications
shows that Sir Charles had reported to Rhodes some of the observations
made by the Chancellor in the course of the visit of which an account
here follows.

'In September, 1889, having settled to take my son to Germany to a
gymnasium, and having told Herbert Bismarck my intention when he was
in London, I was asked by him in his father's name to stay at
Friedrichsruh with the Prince. I started for Germany with my son at
the same moment at which my wife started for the Trades Congress at

He wrote to M. Joseph Reinach in August, 1889: 'I'm going to
Friedrichsruh the week after next to stay with Prince Bismarck, who
seems very anxious to see me--about colonial matters, I think. I will
tell you what he says, for your private information, if he talks of
anything else, which is not, however, likely, as he knows my views about
that Alsace question which lies at the root of all others. But I had
sooner my going there was not mentioned in advance, and I shall not be
there until September 7th-9th.'

'Herbert Bismarck wrote: "I hope you will accept my father's
invitation, because he is anxious to make your personal
acquaintance. I am greatly disappointed that I shall be deprived of
the pleasure of introducing you myself to my father, owing to my
absence, but, then, I am sure that you will find yourself at your
ease in Friedrichsruh, whether I am there or not. Hoping to see you
before long in England, believe me,

'"Very truly yours,
'"H. Bismarck."

'The son was still called Count von Bismarck by himself, and
popularly Herbert Bismarck, but shortly afterwards his father gave
him the family castle of Schoenhausen, and from that time forward he
used on his cards the name of Graf Bismarck-Schoenhausen. When I got
to Ratzeburg, where I left my son, I found a telegram from
Friedrichsruh: "Prince Bismarck looks forward to your visit
to-morrow with great pleasure"; and then it went on to tell me about

'I was met at the station by Prince Bismarck's official
secretary--Rottenburg of the Foreign Office--with an open carriage,
although the house was formerly the railway hotel (Frascati) and
adjoins the station. I wrote to my wife on Saturday, September 7th:
"The great man has been very sweet to me, though he is in pain from
his sinews. We had an hour's walk before lunch together. Then
Hatzfeldt, the Ambassador in London, came, and all the afternoon we
have been driving, and went to the harvest-home, where the Bismarck
grandchildren danced with the peasants on the grass. The daughter,
and mother of these children, does the honours, and is the only
lady; and at dinner we shall be the Prince, Hatzfeldt, self,
Countess von Rantzau, Count von Rantzau, Rottenburg the secretary, a
tutor and another secretary, the two last 'dumb persons.' The forest
is a Pyrford of 25,000 acres, but the house is in the situation of a
Dockett, and must be damp in winter till the great January frost
sets in, when the Baltic is hard frozen."'

Sir Charles notes upon this: 'Hatzfeldt was the Chancellor's right-hand
man--of action. But Bismarck did not consult him: he said, "Do," and
Hatzfeldt did.'

The letter continues:

'"When Bismarck's Reichshund died, a successor was appointed, but
the Emperor, who had heard of the death and not of the appointment
to fill the vacancy, gave another, and the Prince says: 'Courtier as
I am, I sent away my dog to my head-forester's and kept the gift
one, but as I do not like him I leave him at Berlin.' Here the
favourite reigns, and her name is Rebekkah, and she answers very
prettily to the name of Bex. The old gentleman is dear in his polite
ways.... The daughter is equally pleasant, and the son-in-law as
well. We were loudly cheered at the harvest festival, of course....
You can write to our friend J. R. [Reinach] of the R.F. [_Republique
Francaise_] that I found the Chancellor very determined on peace as
long as he lives, which he fears will not be long, and afraid of
Prussian action after his death."

'In another letter the next day, Sunday, September 8th 1889, I
wrote: "I expected the extreme simplicity of life. The coachman
alone wears livery, and that only a plain blue with ordinary black
trousers and ordinary black hat--no cockades and no stripes. There
are only two indoor men-servants: a groom of the chambers, and one
other not in livery--the one shown in the photograph of Bismarck
receiving the Emperor, but there, for this occasion only, dressed in
a state livery. [Footnote: Photographs which Bismarck gave Sir
Charles, showing the Chancellor with his hound receiving the young
Kaiser, and Bismarck alone with his dog, always hung on the wall at
Dockett.] The family all drink beer at lunch, and offer the thinnest
of thin Mosel. Bismarck has never put on a swallow-tail coat but
once, which he says was in 1835, and which is of peculiar shape. A
tall hat he does not possess, and he proscribes tall hats and
evening dress among his guests. His view is that a Court and an army
should be in uniform, but that when people are not on duty at Court
or in war, or preparation for war, they should wear a comfortable
dress, and each man that form of dress that he finds most agreeable
to himself, provided that it be not that which he calls evening
dress and tall hats--a sort of 'sham uniform.' Countess von Rantzau,
however, dresses in a high, short evening gown like other people.
The Prince eats nothing at all except young partridges and
salt-herring, and the result is that the cookery is feeble, though
for game-eaters there is no hardship. The table groans with red-deer
venison, ham, grouse, woodcock, and the inevitable partridges--
roast, boiled, with white sauce, cold, pickled in vinegar. A French
cook would hang himself. There is no sweet at dinner except fruit,
stewed German fashion with the game. Trout, which the family
themselves replace by raw salt-herring, and game, form the whole
dinner. Of wines and beer they drink at dinner a most extraordinary
mixture, but as the wine is all the gift of Emperors and merchant
princes it is good. The cellar card was handed to the Prince with
the fish, and, after consultation with me, and with Hatzfeldt, we
started on sweet champagne, not suggested by me, followed by
Bordeaux, followed by still Mosel, followed by Johannesberg (which I
did suggest), followed by black beer, followed by corn brandy. When
I reached the Johannesberg I stopped, and went on with that only, so
that I got a second bottle drawn for dessert. When the Chancellor
got to his row of great pipes, standing against the wall ready
stuffed for him, we went back to black beer. The railway-station is
in the garden, and the expresses shake the house."

'Other points which struck me in the manners and customs of
Friedrichsruh were that the Chancellor invariably took a barrel of
beer out driving, and stopped halfway in the afternoon and insisted
on his guests consuming it out of a two-handled mug which appeared
from under the coachman's seat. I had some talk with him about the
wisdom of his going unprotected for great distances through the
woods, and he answered, "But I am not unprotected," and showed me a
pistol which he carried, but, of course, a man with a blunderbuss
behind a tree might easily have killed him. He never takes a servant
on the box by the side of the coachman, and generally drives
entirely alone. He rides alone without a groom, and walks alone with
only his dog, or rather the forester's dog, the daughter of the
Reichshund, who walks six or seven miles every morning to go out
with him, and six or seven miles every night to come to dinner.

'The Prince was evidently discontented with the Emperor, but wholly
unable to believe that he himself could be done without. He told me
that he must work each day and could never take a holiday, but that
even a few minutes' work was sufficient, as all that was necessary
was that he should keep an eye on what was going on. All was now so
well arranged that the only thing which gave him trouble was the
internal condition of Alsace, which as a Reichsland had him alone as
a Minister. In the evening he chatted much about the past; told me
of his visit to London in 1842, of how a cabman tried to cheat him,
and how at last he held out all his money in his hand and said to
the man, "Pay yourself"; how then the man took less than that which
he had refused, his right fare, and then with every sign of scorn
ejaculated, "What I say is, God damn all Frenchmen!" Bismarck speaks
admirable English, with hardly any trace of accent, but spoken very
slowly. French he speaks more rapidly but less well; and of Russian
he has a fair knowledge. He told me how (also in 1842) he had
visited Barclay and Perkins's, and had been offered an enormous
tankard of their strongest ale. "Thinking of my country, I drank it
slowly to the last drop, and then left them, courteously I hope; I
got as far as London Bridge, and there I sat down in a recess, and
for hours the bridge went round." He told me how he had striven to
keep the peace through the time of Napoleon III., but finding it
useless had prepared for war; and he made no secret of the fact that
he had brought the war about. He told me himself, in so many words,
that at the last moment he had made war by cutting down a telegram
from the King of Prussia, as I have said above; [Footnote: See
Chapter XL (Vol. I., p. 157).] "the alteration of the telegram from
one of two hundred words to one of twenty words" had "made it into a
trumpet blast"--as Moltke and Von Roon, who were with him at dinner
when it came, had said--"a trumpet blast which" had "roused all
Germany." As he mellowed with his pipes he told me that, though he
was a high Tory, he had come to see the ills of absolutism, which,
to work, required the King to be an angel. "Now," he said, "Kings,
even when good, have women round them, who, even if Queens, govern
them to their personal ends." It was very plain that he was on bad
terms with the Emperor, and equally clear that he did not believe
that the Emperor would dare dismiss him.'

A commentary on the last sentence follows at no long interval, when
_Problems of Greater Britain_ appeared and 'Herbert Bismarck, in
thanking me for a copy of my book, said: "My father ... sends you
his kindest regards. He is just going to disentangle himself from
the Prussian administration altogether, and will resign the post as
Prime Minister, so that he will only remain Chancellor of the
Empire." This was on February 10th, 1890, and before long Bismarck
had been still further "disentangled," not by his own act,' but by a
blow almost as sudden and dramatic as that which, in 1661, had
struck down the owner of Vaux. [Footnote: See the _Memoires de
Fouquet_, by A. Cheruel, vol.ii., chap, xxxviii.]

'In a second letter that young Bismarck wrote, he thanked me for
sending him the famous sketch from _Punch_ (Tenniel's cartoon) of
the captain of the ship sending away the pilot. He wrote:

'"My Dear Dilke,

'"I thank you very much for your kind note, which warmed my heart,
and for the sketch you have cut out of _Punch_. It is indeed a fine
one, and my father, to whom I showed it yesterday when your letter
reached me, was pleased with its acuteness, as well as with the kind
messages you sent him and which he requites. He has left last night
for good, and I follow to-night to Friedrichsruh. It was a rather
melancholy historical event, when my father stepped out of the house
in which he has lived for the benefit of my country for nearly
twenty-eight years. When I wrote you last, my father thought only of
leaving the offices he held in Prussia, but things went on so
rapidly that he did not see his way to remain as Chancellor in
Berlin after the Emperor had let him know that His Majesty wished
him to resign. I had no choice what course to take after he had been
dismissed. My health is so much shaken that I am not able to take
upon my shoulders alone the tremendous amount of responsibility for
the foreign affairs of Germany which hitherto fell upon my father.
When we drove to the station yesterday, our carriage was almost
upset by the enthusiastic crowd of many thousand people who thronged
the streets and cheered him on his passage in a deafening way; but
it was satisfactory for my father to see that there are people left
who regret his departure. I shall come back to Berlin after April
1st to clear my house and to pack my things, and then I shall stay
with my father till the end of April. In May I hope to come to
England, and I look forward to the pleasure of seeing you then.

'"Believe me,

'"Ever yours sincerely,

'"H. Bismarck."

'He dined with me on May 15th, 1890, when Arnold Morley, Borthwick,
Jeune, Fitzmaurice, Harry Lawson, and others, came to meet him; and
from this time forward he came frequently to England.'

Sir Charles, while meeting the younger man thus often, never again had
sight or speech of the old Chancellor. 'In Christmas week [1892] I had a
general invitation from Prince Bismarck to stay with him again at
Friedrichsruh. But the chance never came.' Immediately on his return
from Germany Sir Charles wrote to his friend Reinach:

'Pyrford by Maybury,
'Near Woking,
'_September_ l3_th_, 1889.

'My Dear Reinach,

'Bismarck c'est la paix. As long as he lives, which he thinks will
not be long, he expects no movement. He agrees with me that the
first movement will come from Russia. He expects the Republic to
last in France. Bleichroeder tells him that Ferry is the one man of
energy and power.

'Chs. W. D.'

Three weeks later, in answer to a question by M. Reinach, this is added:

'Health as good as he says. But he does _not_ say that. He says he
suffers very much. The fact is that he looks very much older than he
is, and his hands look like ninety instead of seventy-four.'

What Bismarck thought of his guest may be gathered from a saying quoted
in public by Dr. Stephen Bauer. Baron Rottenburg, Bismarck's first
secretary, had told him that, after Sir Charles's visit to
Friedrichsruh, the Chancellor spoke of him as 'the most interesting of
living English statesmen.' [Footnote: At the banquet given to Sir
Charles Dilke in April, 1910.]

In spite of Bismarck's efforts to bring about another meeting, this
visit was the only occasion on which the two men met. It was at a time
when the great maker of United Germany was nearing his fall. He was
becoming the bitter adversary of the Kaiser and of his policy, a policy
which he foresaw might imperil 'the strength and glory of the German
Empire.' In the often-quoted words of his instructions to diplomatic
representatives abroad--'Do all in your power to keep up good
relationship with the English. You need not even use a secret cipher in
cabling. We have nothing to conceal from the English, for it would be
the greatest possible folly to antagonize England'--is to be found one
main point of Bismarck's diplomacy; and feeling thus, he welcomed a
conference with the English statesman of that generation whom he had
looked upon as certain to be a force in the approaching years. When at
last the meeting took place, Dilke had been overtaken by circumstances
which altered his political position in England. But neither Bismarck
nor any other statesman on the Continent anticipated that they could
possibly have the result of excluding permanently from office one of the
very few English statesmen whose names carried weight with foreign
Powers on military and international politics.



1895 TO 1904

Few members of the House of Commons can have been sorry to see the last
of the Parliament which ended in June, 1895; and Sir Charles had nothing
to regret in its disappearance. In respect of foreign affairs, he saw
little to choose between the Liberal and Tory Ministers except that, of
the two, Lord Salisbury was 'the less wildly Jingo.' On questions of
Imperial Defence many of his old friends in the Liberal Government were
arrayed against him; and with matters standing as they stood between the
two Houses, there was no hope of any important Labour legislation. Lord
Salisbury had again become Prime Minister, and under the new
Conservative Administration everything went more easily. Sir Charles
testified in one of his speeches that Mr. Balfour's leadership, 'by his
unfailing courtesy to all members, made the House of Commons a pleasant
place'; and Mr. Balfour's leadership was well assured of several years'

A great Parliamentarian, Sir Charles nevertheless held no brief for
Parliament. As a practical statesman, he realized the advantages in a
strong hand of such a machine as Bismarck controlled; while his
democratic instincts made him favour the Swiss methods, with direct
intervention of the people through the Referendum.

'I trained a whole generation of professional politicians to respect the
House of Commons,' he said, 'but I was never favourable to the
Parliamentary, and I was even hostile to the Party, system.'

Nevertheless, since England was wedded to its traditional system, to
work this efficiently was the first duty of an English politician. A
note from Sir Reginald Palgrave in 1893 acknowledges gratefully some
criticisms of the tenth edition of the classical work which deals with
this subject. No one was ever better qualified than Sir Charles to say
what could or could not be done by the rules of order, and he would
certainly have inculcated upon every politician the necessity of this
knowledge as a practical equipment.

'What Dilke did,' writes Mr. McKenna, 'was to impress upon me the
importance of a thorough understanding of the procedure and business of
the House of Commons, a branch of knowledge in which he was an
accomplished master.'

Sir Charles's whole scheme of existence was arranged with reference to
the work of Parliament. Of it he wrote on December 15th, 1905, in reply
to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, who had dwelt on the interest of county

'The development of character in politics and the human side of the
House of Commons have an extraordinary dramatic interest for me, and
an attraction so strong that Harcourt told me that, knowing it, he
did not see how I could live out of the House of Commons. I managed
to do so, but only by shutting it for a time absolutely out of my
mind, as though it did not exist. Having the happiness of being able
to interest myself in everything, I suppose I am born to be
generally happy. You have known me so long and so closely that few
men are more aware of the kind of suffering I have gone through, but
the happiness of interest in life has rarely been wanting for long
in me, and if it were, I should go out--not of Parliament--but of
life.' [Footnote: Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice was Chairman of the
Wiltshire County Council. He had re-entered Parliament as M.P. for
North Wilts in 1898.]

Sir Charles never left London while the House was sitting, except for
the annual gathering of the Forest miners at the Speech House. On all
other working days of the session he was to be found in the House of
Commons. He held that the House offered the extremest form of interest
or of boredom, according as a man did or did not follow closely all that
was going on. For this reason, the smoking-room, where most
Parliamentary idling is transacted, saw little of him; cigars, of which
he was a great consumer, were for periods of leisure, and he was at the
House for business. He might be seen in the passages, going by with
coat-tails streaming behind him, most often in the members' lobby on his
way to the first corridor, where was his locker--marvellously stuffed
with papers, yet kept in a methodical order that made it a general
centre of reference for himself and his colleagues, who consulted him on
all subjects; or sometimes in the library, with multifarious
correspondence and documents outspread, snipping away with a pair of
scissors, after his habit, all in them that was not vitally important.
[Footnote: Mr. Hudson tells how in February, 1911, after Sir Charles's
death, he went down to clear his locker in the House of Commons, and
found it empty. Mr. Hudson surmised that, foreseeing his need for it was
over, Sir Charles had himself prepared it for his successor in its use.]
Again, since one form of relaxation which he permitted himself was his
afternoon cup--or cups, for they were many--of tea, the tea-room also
offered a chance to those who sought him. But whoever wanted Sir Charles
went first into the Chamber itself, and in five cases out of six would
find him there alert in his corner seat below the gangway, primed and
armed with documented information, and ready at any minute to interpose.
Every day he went through the whole bewildering mass of papers from
which members are presumed to instruct themselves concerning the
business of the sittings and to keep a check upon the general
proceedings of Government. In his case the presumption was realized.
Probably no private member ever equalled him in demands for 'papers to
be laid,' and certainly none was ever better able to justify his
requests for additional information. If these requests were refused, it
was never because he wanted what was superfluous, but that which, in his
hands, might become inconveniently serviceable.

One habit of his may be traced to his hatred of wasting time. The
instant a division was announced he was on his feet, hurrying so as to
avoid long minutes of waiting in a crush; and it came to be regarded as
part of the natural order that Sir Charles should be first through the

With all this industry, the record of divisions so carefully chronicled
by the hard-working M.P. was not of moment to him. If the business did
not seem to him important, he had no objection to absent himself and
dine at home. He was weatherwise in the assembly, and knew the
conditions which might lead to unforeseen disturbance.

In questions raised by alteration of rules or standing orders, he was
never averse from innovation, and even generally an advocate of change.
But while the rules were there he insisted rigorously on their
observance, in so far as they affected the larger interests of division
or debate. Also he fulfilled punctiliously the prescribed courtesies,
making it a usage to be down early and to secure his place, although no
one ever thought of appropriating it. He rigidly observed the rule,
transgressed by others, which prescribes the wearing of a tall hat by
members in the House. The hat which was thus endeared to him by
traditional usage is therefore inseparable from Parliamentary memory of
him. He was generally to be seen handling a sheaf of papers more than
Ministerial in dimensions; and he made his hat the receptacle for them;
often it would be crammed to bursting before the speech had concluded.
Yet there remained with him always the trace of his younger days of
grave dandyism; he never abandoned the Parliamentary frock-coat, and
sketches of him in the illustrated papers convey the austere correctness
of its folds; and the hat from which so much service was exacted
appeared each day unsurpassable in gloss.

The intricate mass of historical associations delighted his imagination
at Westminster. He took pleasure in all the quaint survivals, from the
long-transmitted ceremonial of the Speaker's entrance, the formal
knockings of Black Rod, the cry of 'Who goes home?' down to the still
continued search before each session for some possible Guy Fawkes.
Keenly alive to the past and to the present, he saw with special
pleasure any happy grafting of a new usage on to that old stock of
memories. Speaking in his constituency after the lying in state of King
Edward, which he had attended (standing next to the Prime Minister as
the senior Privy Councillor present), he welcomed the precedent which
gave a new association to Westminster Hall--that 'epitome of English
history.' He recalled to his hearers the outstanding incidents and
persons whose record had then come into his mind. His habit of tracing
out links with the past made him at Westminster the best and most
animated of guides.

So it was in Provence, in the Forest of Dean, on the road down from
London to Surrey; so it was always in the neighbourhood of his Chelsea

There could be no such companion for a ramble through its streets. His
memory, astounding in its recollections of his own time, held stories of
older records; in his eager, vivid talk the past lived again. As we
passed along Cheyne Walk, George Eliot held court in her house once
more, while a few doors off Rossetti's servant pushed aside the little
grating to inspect his visitors before admission. Carlyle dwelt again in
the house in Cheyne Row, with Whistler for his neighbour. Sir Charles
would tell how earlier the Kingsley brothers lived with their father in
the old rectory, and one at least of their novels was founded afterwards
on the traditions of the place. Then, as layer after layer of history
was lifted, Smollett wrote his novels or walked the Chelsea streets with
John Wilkes; Sir Richard Steele and 'his dear Prue' reinhabited their
house, and Dr. Johnson worked at the furnaces in the cellars where
Chelsea china was made. [Footnote: 'Sir Charles Dilke, in hunting about
for materials for his lecture on "Old Chelsea" to-morrow, has made some
very interesting discoveries. He has found that part of the building
once occupied by the famous Chelsea china works, which was thought to
have gone for ever, exists as part of a public-house with a modern
frontage looking out on the Embankment. The cellars are in an admirable
state of preservation. Another interesting point has been the
exploration of the old Moravian cemetery, which is now completely
enclosed by houses, the ironwork of the gate worn, and, as it were,
eaten out by age. Here lie the bones of Count von Zinzendorf, one of the
founders of the Moravian sect, and many other famous folk. This, again,
has led to some interesting discoveries about Sir Thomas More, all of
which will find a place in Wednesday's lecture' (Extract from _Leicester
Daily Post_, January 11th, 1888, on lecture to be delivered in Town
Hall, Chelsea).]

He would give, as a curious illustration of the way in which many years
may be covered by a few generations, the fact that he himself had known
intimately the daughter of Woodfall, printer of the _Letters of Junius_;
while Woodfall's acquaintance included Smollett as a resident, and Pope
as a visitor to Chelsea. He would talk long of Sir Thomas More,
[Footnote: He writes: 'On December 18th, 1886, Cardinal Manning wrote to
me: "On Saturday last Sir Thomas More was declared both martyr and
saint, to my great joy. We have bought a house and garden, 28, Beaufort
Street, which is said to be a piece of Sir Thomas More's garden. The
tradition seems probable. If you can give me any light about it, I shall
be very thankful."' Later (January, 1888) Sir Charles writes: 'In the
course of this same month I lectured on Old Chelsea, and made a
considerable attempt to clear up some points in the life of Sir Thomas
More, for whom I have a great admiration. The result was that Cardinal
Manning asked me to visit Father Vaughan at the house which stands on
the site of Old Beaufort House, which the Roman Catholics have purchased
as a house of expiation for the martyrdom of Sir Thomas More.'] 'the
first of Chelsea worthies,' whose memory is loved and commemorated by
every true inhabitant, and to whose voluntary poorhouse for the parish
he pointed, as the direct progenitor of the Chelsea Benevolent Society
and the Board of Guardians. But one episode in More's career specially
fascinated him: it was when two great lives touched, and More,
journeying to Calais, met that famous lady, Margaret of Austria, the
first Governess of the Netherlands, and negotiated the treaty between
the Emperor, England, and France, 1527. Great as was his respect for Sir
Hans Sloane, after whom the street in which he lived was named, and who
gave to Chelsea its beautiful Physic Garden, he never forgave him the
destruction of More's house or the removal of its water gateway.

He would describe the tidal shore, as it lies in the picture which he
bequeathed to the Chelsea Free Library, and which hangs on its
staircase, when below the old church the bank sloped to the water's
edge; or he would pass back to the earlier time when the boats of the
nobles lay there in such numbers that Charles II. described the river as
'Hyde Park upon the Thames.' Once more Bess of Hardwick lived at
Shrewsbury House, Princess Elizabeth sheltered under the Queen's Elm; at
the old Swan in Swan Walk, Doggett founded the coat and badge to be
rowed for by the watermen's apprentices 'when the tide shall be full.'
These things may be found in many a guide-book and in the lectures which
he delivered more than once in Chelsea, but told as he told them they
will never be told again.

This habit of associating the prosaic business of his daily work in
Parliament with picturesque traditions, and of peopling the dingy
streets of London with great figures of the past, gave colour and
character to his town life. He entertained still--at 76, Sloane Street,
or at the House of Commons.

For exercise he relied on fencing, rowing, and his morning ride. Busy
men, he held, needed what 'good exercise as contrasted with mere chamber
gymnastics' could give them: 'a second life, a life in another world--
one which takes them entirely out of themselves, and causes them to
cease to trouble others or to be troubled by the vexations of working
life.' [Footnote: _Athletics for Politicians_, reprinted from _North
American Review_.]

He was nowhere more characteristically English than through his faith in
this regimen, and in the pages of the _North American Review_ he
addressed to American public men in 1900 an advocacy of 'Athletics for
Politicians.' This exists as a pamphlet, and some of the friends who
received it were surprised to find themselves cited in confirmation of
the theory that nearly all English politicians, 'having been athletes as
boys, have found it wise as well as pleasant to keep to some sport in
later life.' But Mr. Chamberlain, 'the most distinguished debater in the
Government of the United Kingdom, who has an excellent seat on a horse,
but is never now seen on one, and who is no mean hand at lawn tennis,
which he scarcely ever plays,' had to be cited as a heretic who thought
himself 'better without such gymnastics.'

Sculling on sliding-seats [Footnote: In 1873 'sliding-seats' had just
taken the place of fixed ones, and Sir Charles, having gone as usual to
see the Boat Race, criticized the crews, in a notice which he wrote, as
not having yet learnt to make the best possible use of the slide.] and
rapier fencing were the exercises which Sir Charles recommended to men
no longer young. He continued his fencing in London and Paris. In Paris
he frequented chiefly the school of Leconte in the Rue Saint Lazare, and
always kept an outfit there. Teachers of this school remember with
wonder Sir Charles's habit of announcing, at the termination of each
stay in Paris, the precise day and hour, perhaps many months ahead, at
which he would appear--and at which, like Monte Cristo, he never failed
to be exactly punctual--to the joy and amusement of the expectant

It was at his riverside home that he found the exercise which beyond all
others pleased him best.

'1890 I took a good deal of holiday in the summer and early autumn,
doing much rowing with McKenna and others in a racing pair; we
challenged any pair of our united ages.'

'On my fifty-third birthday,' he notes, 'I began to learn sculling. My
rowing, to judge by the "clock," still improves. Fencing, stationary or

He timed himself regularly in his daily burst up and down the reach with
some first-rate oarsman, very often 'Bill' East, now the King's
Waterman, whose photograph stood with one or two others on the
mantelpiece of his study in Sloane Street. In the same way he kept a
daily record of his weight, which up to 1904 ranged between fourteen
stone and thirteen.

Dockett was essentially a boating-place, a place for sun and air, where
life was lived in the open or in the wide verandah hailed by Cecil
Rhodes and others as the only 'stoep' in England. His son, who was
travelling abroad much at this time, shared Sir Charles Dilke's love for
Dockett, and was frequently there in the intervals of his journeyings.
Other than boating friends came to lunch or to dine and sleep, for the
mere pleasure of talk. Such were the Arnold-Forsters, the H. J.
Tennants, Lady Abinger (the daughter of his old friend Sir William
White) and her husband: and there came also members of Parliament--Mr.
Lloyd George, or in a later day Mr. Masterman; and the knights errant of
politics, Mr. Cunninghame Graham and Mr. Schreiner. Many nationalities
were represented--often, indeed, through official personages such as M.
Cambon, the French Ambassador, or some member of the French Embassy.
Baron Hayashi and his wife came with many other Japanese friends, and
the various representatives of the Balkan States met in pleasant
converse. It was one of these who afterwards wrote: 'I never pass the
house in Sloane Street without raising my hat to the memory of its
former inmates.' That close friend M. Gennadius came also, and his
predecessors in the Greek Legation, M. Metaxas, M. Athos Romanes, and
half a score of other diplomatists, including Tigrane Pasha, and even
Ras Makonnen, who was brought to Dockett by the British representative
in Abyssinia, Sir John Harrington, a friend and correspondent of Dilke.
Thither also for leisure, not for athletics, came Cecil Rhodes,
described in _Problems of Greater Britain_ as a 'modest, strong man';
there came Prince Roland Bonaparte, Coquelin, and Jules Claretie, with a
host of others, politicians, wits, and artists, English and foreign. M.
Claretie thus, after Sir Charles's death, chronicled one visit:

'Nous avons canote, mon fils et moi, sur la Tamise avec Sir Charles,
un de ces "Sundays" de liberte. Quand il avait bien rame, il
rentrait au logis, et s'etendant en un petit kiosque au seuil duquel
il placait des sandales, l'homme d'etat, ami du sport, accrochait a
la porte un ecriteau ou se lisait ces mots: "Priere de faire
silence. Je dors." Helas! Il dort a tout jamais maintenant le cher
Sir Charles. Ce fut une energie, un cerveau, un coeur, une force.'
[Footnote: _Le Temps_, February, 1911.]

Then there were men illustrious in another sphere, the famous oars of
their generation. Mr. S. D. Muttlebury, most illustrious of them all,
has compiled a list of Cambridge 'blues,' young and old, who rowed with
Sir Charles at his riverside home. These were--

_School_ _College_
Bell, A. S. .. .. Eton .. .. Trinity Hall.
Bristowe, C. J. .. Repton .. .. "
Escombe, F. J. .. Clifton .. .. "
Fernie, W. J. .. Malvern .. .. "
Howell, B. H. .. -- "
McKenna, R. .. King's College "
Maugham, F. H. .. Dover College .. "
Muttlebury, S. D. .. Eton .. .. Trinity College.
Rowlatt, J. F. .. Fettes .. .. Trinity Hall.
Steavenson, D. F. .. -- "
Wauchope, D. A. .. Repton .. .. "
Wood, W. W. .. Eton .. .. University
College, Oxford.

In the list here given, Judge Steavenson was Sir Charles's contemporary.
Judge Wood, [Footnote: He was the son of Dilke's friend and constituent,
the Rector of Newent.] his neighbour at Chertsey, known among Etonians
as 'Sheep' Wood, was a University oar of the sixties, and rowed for Eton
at Henley against the Trinity Hall crew which included Steavenson and
Dilke. But most of the others were young. Mr. Charles Boyd [Footnote:
Mr. Charles Boyd, C.M.G., sometime political secretary to Cecil Rhodes.]
sketched the life in an article written just after Sir Charles's death:

'To know Dilke as he was you had to be with him at Dockett Eddy, on
the river. Dilke's ability is praised everywhere, but almost, one
thinks, his manly, ungushing kindness exceeded it. He could never do
enough for people, or too stealthily, as it were. He had a special
kindness for young men, for Trinity Hall men perhaps by preference;
the black and white blazer of his old college carried a certain
prescriptive right to share in every belonging of the most famous of
old Hall men. But many, oars or others, at different times in the
past fifteen to twenty years, as sons of the house, spent between
Shepperton and Chertsey Locks, or on the tennis lawns among Sir
Charles's famous willows, or lying on deck-chairs on the long, deep
verandah, the happiest and healthiest of week-ends or more extended
summer holidays. There are few pleasanter reaches of our river, and
none quieter, than this, for the rush and the intolerable crowds are
above stream or below stream, but not here. And there is no such
holiday house for young men as Dockett, hidden in its willow walks
and islanded by the Thames in front and by the expanse of Chertsey
Mead behind.

'Less a country-house, indeed, than a camp of exercise. You did as
you pleased, but under Sir Charles's guidance you were pleased to be
strenuous. He called everybody to bathe at 7 a.m., and where was
ever better fresh-water bathing-place than the floating raft below
the boat-house at Dockett? Etiquette required you to dive in and go
straight across to the other bank, touch, and return; when, like as
not, Sir Charles, in shorts and sweater, might be seen very
precisely preparing tea on the landing-stage for the deserving
valiant. His little kindnesses had an added and affecting quality
from his reserve and sternness. A rare figure of an athlete he was,
and a rare athlete's day his was in that retreat. For hours before
he called and turned out the morning guard he had been up busy
gardening, or reading, or writing. At a quarter to nine he
breakfasted. Very shortly after breakfast an ex-champion sculler the
admirable Bill East, would arrive from Richmond, and he and Sir
Charles would row in a racing skiff a measured mile or more of the
river. One summer at least he changed from rowing kit to boots and
breeches after his rowing, and rode till luncheon. At four o'clock
there would be a second bout with East, and thereafter, having
changed from his rowing kit into flannels and his Hall cap, he would
take Lady Dilke in her dinghy, which nobody else has ever used or
will use.

'After these exercises came dinner, and after dinner talk; and what
talk! How his intellectual weight and equipment affected those who
were much with him as young men, and who had a chance to revise
their impressions after years of close observation of the world and
its big men, a scrap of dialogue may illustrate. One who in his
"twenties" was much at Sloane Street and Dockett, and who passed
later into close working relations with several at least of the most
conspicuous, so to say, of Front Bench men in the Empire, after an
interval of thirteen years sat once more for a whole long evening
with three others at the feet of Gamaliel. A well-known scholar and
historian put questions which drew Sir Charles out; and all were
amazed and delighted by the result. After Sir Charles had gone, one
of the others, a distinguished editor, said to the wanderer: "Come,
you have known the Mandarins as well as anybody. Where do you put
Dilke with them?" "Well, I rule Lord Milner out," said ----: "but
all the others, compared to Sir Charles, strike me in point of
knowledge, if you must know, as insufficiently informed school-
boys." That is how his brain struck this contemporary. As for the
moral qualities observed, you get to know a man well when you see
him constantly and over years at play. And what intimate's affection
and respect for Sir Charles, and confidence in him, did not grow
greater with every year? It seems admitted that he was a great man.
Well, if there is anything in the intimate, not undiscerning
impression of nearly eighteen years, he was a good man, or goodness
is an empty name.'

Another account of his talk and ways comes from Mr. Spenser Wilkinson:

'I moved to London in 1892, and from that time on found the intimacy
with Dilke one of the delights of life. We used always to meet,
either for breakfast or lunch, at Dilke's house in Sloane Street, or
for lunch at the Prince's Restaurant in Piccadilly, or at 2.30 in
the lobby of the House of Commons. I was also frequently a guest at
the dinner-parties either at Sloane Street on Wednesdays, when Lady
Dilke was alive, or at the House of Commons. Then there were small
house-parties on Saturday and Sunday at Dockett Eddy, near
Shepperton on the Thames, where Sir Charles had built two cottages,
and where a guest was expected to do exactly what he pleased from
the time when he was punted across the river on arrival until he
left the punt on departing. In winter I used to bicycle over to the
cottage at Pyrford, where Dilke and his wife were always to be found
alone and where I spent many a charming afternoon.

'Every man takes a certain tinge from the medium in which he is, and
is therefore different in different company and different
surroundings. I knew three Dilkes. First there was the statesman,
the man of infinite information which he was ever working to
increase. When you went to see him it was on some particular
subject; he wanted precise information, and knew exactly what he
wanted. With him my business was always finished in five minutes,
after which I used to feel that I should be wasting his time if I
stayed. This Dilke, in this particular form of intercourse, was by
far the ablest man I ever met.

'Then came Dilke the host, the Dilke of general conversation. Here
again he towered above his fellows. The man who had been everywhere
and knew everybody--for there seemed to be no public man of great
importance in any country with whom Dilke was not acquainted and
with whom he had not corresponded--a man who was almost always in
high spirits and full of fun, had an inexhaustible fund of
delightful conversation, about which the only drawback was that, in
order to appreciate it, you had to be uncommonly well informed

'But the Dilke I liked best was the one I used to have to myself
when I spent a day with him either in the country or on the river,
when neither of us had anything to do, when there was no business in
hand, and when we either talked or were silent according to the
mood. In these circumstances Dilke was as natural and simple as a
civilized man can be. If one started an uncongenial subject, he
would say. "It does not interest me," but the moment one approached
any of the matters he cared for he mobilized all his resources and
gave himself with as little reserve as possible.

'Dilke was a past-master in the art of ordering his time, and this
was the secret of the vast quantity of work which he was able to do.
He was a voracious and quick reader, as is proved by the number of
books which he used to review for the _Athenaeum_, of which he was
proprietor. Yet he was an early riser and went to bed early, and a
part of his day was given to exercise.

'A great deal of time was consumed in interviews with all sorts and
conditions of men, and his attendance at the House of Commons,
constant and assiduous, accounted for a large part of half the days
in the year. But everything was mapped out in advance; he would make
appointments weeks, or even months, in advance, and keep them to the
minute. His self-control was complete, his courtesy constant and
unvarying; he was entirely free from sentimentality and the least
demonstrative of mankind, yet he was capable of delicate and tender
feelings, not always detected by those towards whom they were
directed. He was simple, straightforward, frank, and generous. It
was delightful to do business with him, for he never hesitated nor
went back upon himself. Modest and free from self-consciousness, he
was aware both of his powers and of their limitations. I once tried
to persuade him to change the manner of his Parliamentary speeches,
to stop his minute expositions of facts and to make some appeal to
the emotions of his hearers--at any rate in cases where he had
strong feelings of his own. He made one experiment in accord with
this suggestion, and told me that it had been most successful; but
he said that he would not try it again, because it was not in accord
with his natural bent, and he was unwilling to be anything but

Dockett was the home of the Birds. Sir Charles's evidence before the
Select Committee on the Thames as to the destruction of kingfishers led
to a prohibition of all shooting on the river, and to an increase of
these lovely birds. In 1897 he had two of their nests at Dockett Eddy.
His acres of willow-grown all-but-island were made a sanctuary for
birds, and therefore from Dockett only, of all his homes, cats were kept
away. Nests were counted and cherished; it was a great year when a
cuckoo's egg was discovered among the linnet's clutch, and its
development was watched in breathless interest. Owls were welcome
visitors; and the swans had no better nesting-place on the Thames than
the lower end of Dockett. They and their annual progeny of cygnets were
the appointed charge of Jim Haslett, Dilke's ferryman and friend.
Pensioners upon the house, they used to appear in stately progress
before the landing raft--the mother perhaps with several little ones
swarming on her back or nestling in her wings, and from time to time
splashing off into the water. Always at their appearance, in answer to
Sir Charles's special call, a cry of 'Swan's bread' would be raised, and
loaf after loaf would disappear down their capacious throats. A place
with such privileges was not likely to be undisputed, and many times
there were battles royal against 'invaders from the north,' as Sir
Charles called the Chertsey swans who came to possess themselves of the
Dockett reach and its amenities. Swan charged swan, with plumage
bristling and wings dilated, but not alone they fought; Jim Haslett and
his employer took part against the invaders, beating them off with
sticks; and even in the night, when sound of that warfare rose, the
master of Dockett was known to scull out in a dinghy, in his night gear,
carrying a bedroom candlestick to guide his blows in the fray.

Evening and morning he would steal along the bank in his dinghy,
counting and observing the water-voles, which he was accustomed to feed
with stewed prunes and other dishes, while they sat nibbling,
squirrel-like, with the dainty clasped in their hands.

A few gay beds of annuals by the house, a purple clematis on the
verandah, and a mass of syringa at the landing-stage, were all the
garden permitted; roughly mown grass paths here and there led through
the wild growth of nature, where the willows met overhead.

Such was his summer home, described in the lines of Tibullus which were
carved on the doorway of the larger house:

'Jam modo iners possim epntentus vivere parvo
Nec semper longae deditus esse viae,
Sed canis aestivos ortus vitare sub umbra
Arboris, ad rivos praetereuntis aquae.'

[Footnote: Thus translated by the Rev. W. Tuckwell:

'Here, fancy-free, and scorning needless show,
Let me from Life's dull round awhile retreat,
Lulled by the full-charged stream's unceasing flow,
Screened by tall willows from the dog-star's heat.']

He guarded its quiet, and, champion as he had always been of the public
right of common on land and on the river, he was resentful when its
privilege was carelessly abused. He rebuked those who broke the rules of
the river in his marches--above all, such as disturbed swans or pulled
water-lilies. After every Bank Holiday he would spend a laborious day
gathering up the ugly leavings.

Many associations endeared to him what he thus defended. When he was out
in the skiff, darting here and there, Lady Dilke, in the little dinghy
which he had caused to be built for her--called from its pleasant round
lines the _Bumble Bee_--would paddle about the reach. After her death he
would paddle out in the dinghy which no one else might take out, and lie
for hours watching the light change on that familiar and tranquil beauty
of green mead and shining water, of high-waving poplar and willow, with
drooping boughs awash. When he also was gone, the little boat was not
suffered to pass into the use of strangers, but burnt there on the bank.

In his other home at Pyrford, all the day's relaxations were of this
intimate kind. [Footnote: Here, too, work was disturbed by his natural
history researches. He writes apologetically to Mr. Hudson as to some
mistake in a letter: 'I can plead as a disturbing cause three young
brown owls, quite tame; one barks, and two whistle, squeak--between a
railway guard and a door-hinge. The barker lets me get within four or
five feet before he leaves off yapping. He worries the cuckoo into
shouting very late. I leave the owls unwillingly, late--one night 1 a.m.
They are still going strong.'] Here also was no formal garden; Nature
had her way, but under superintendence of a student of forestry. Sir
Charles was a planter of pines; great notebooks carefully filled tell
how he studied, before the planting, the history of each species, how he
watched over the experiments and extended them. [Footnote: Here is a
detail entered concerning Lawson's cypress--_Erecta vividis_: 'I
remember Andrew Murray, of the Royal Horticultural, first describing
Lawson's cypress, introduced by his brother in 1862, when my father was
chairman of the society of which Murray was secretary. Our two are
gardener's varieties, one greener and the other bluer than the true
Lawson. The American name is Port Orford cedar. It will not do very well
on our bad soil, but I've given it a pretty good place. It is said that
Murray _first_ sent it to Lawson of Edinburgh in 1854. This variety was
made by A. Waterer in 1870.']

In summer, on the dry heathy commons of Surrey, there is always danger
of a chance fire spreading, and it was part of his care to maintain a
cleared belt for fending off this danger. Much of his day went in
gathering debris and undergrowth, so as to keep clear ground about the
trees, and then the heaped-up gatherings rewarded him with a bonfire in
which he had a child's pleasure, mingled with an artist's appreciation
of the shapes and colours of flame. It was for praise of this beauty
that he specially loved Anatole France's _Rotisserie de la Reine
Pedauque_, with its celebrations of the salamanders and their vivid

The heath blossom in all its kinds was cultivated, and it was his
invariable custom to come up on a Monday from Pyrford with a spray of
his favourite white heather in his buttonhole.

Here, too, were associations, interesting if not exactly historic. The
Battle of Dorking was fought close by, and in this neighbourhood the
Martians descended.

Chief of Pyrford's distinctions was the discovery on Sir Charles's own
land, by Mr. Horace Donisthorpe, of a beetle (Lomechusa) which in Queen
Anne's day Sir Hans Sloane had first identified in Hampstead, parasitic
in a nest of red ants. A second specimen was found in 1710 in the mail-
coach between Gloucester and Cheltenham; but from Queen Anne's day till
1906 it was regarded as extinct, until once more it was discovered, and
discovered in its true place among the ants, on whose gestures and
behaviour towards it, whether as indicating worship or serfdom, Sir
Charles dilated with such rhetoric of description that the beetle
assumed dimensions in the mind disappointing when it was viewed in

Another rarity of insect life at Pyrford was a spider whose appearances
have been oftenest noted at Hampton Court. These creatures, large,
black, and horrific, were accordingly known as 'Hampton Courters,' but
received no welcome, being slain on sight, their slayer quoting a
characteristic saying which he had heard from Anatole France:

'We all know of dangers which seem more terrible than they are. The
spider alone suffers death for his carelessness as to this habit of
exaggeration. Many an uncle spider walks about by candlelight, and
is slain by us on account of his monstrous shadow, whereas his body,
being but small, would have escaped our rage.'

It was here that much of his Memoir was dictated, based on an enormous
mass of letters, papers, and private diaries, kept throughout his
Government career. After 1891 there is only a scattered series of
entries, increasingly sparse as time went on. Mr. Hudson recalls their
walks from the station at Woking to Pyrford across the then open common,
the lunch of eggs and milk, and the hours of work, during the period
between the publication of _Problems of Greater Britain_ and Sir
Charles's return to Parliament for the Forest of Dean.

These two country homes, Pyrford and Dockett, held Sir Charles so fast
with their simple pleasures that the once insatiable traveller ceased to
roam. At the close of 1892, after his return to Parliament, he sold his
house and garden at Toulon. Pyrford to a great extent had come to take
its place. But to the end of his days he was a constant visitor to that
Provencal country which he loved. Apart from them there was another
place where, though he neither owned nor rented house or land, he was no
less at home than among his willows or his pines. No resident in the
Forest of Dean was better known in it than its member, and nowhere had
Sir Charles more real friends. For many years he spent three periods
among them: his Whitsun holiday, which was very much a visit of
pleasure; a visit in autumn, when he attended all meetings of the
Revision Courts; and finally a month in the dead of winter, when he went
round to meetings in each polling district, at night educating his
electors in the political questions of the time, and in the day working
with his local friends at the register till it became the most accurate
record of its kind in all Great Britain--so perfect, indeed, that he was
at last able to discontinue his attendance at the Revision Courts,
though never relaxing his keen personal interest in every change.

His friendships in the Forest were not bounded by class or party. He had
the support, not merely of the Liberal and Labour groups, but of many
strong Conservatives, here as before at Chelsea. Mention has been made
of Mr. Blake, and another friend was Mr. John Probyn, who had stood as a
Liberal candidate for Devizes as far back as 1868, and had not changed
his views. Of his many faithful friends and supporters, one, the
honorary secretary of the Liberal Association for all Sir Charles's
years of membership, had as far back as 1886 proclaimed his faith in
him. [Footnote: Mr. John Cooksey, formerly proprietor of the _Dean
Forest Mercury_.] Another equally active in conveying the original
invitation to Sir Charles was the agent of the Forest miners, a Labour
leader of the wisest type, [Footnote: Mr. G. H. Rowlinson.] who writes:

'He did not live for himself; it was always others first. I never
made an appeal to him for any case of need in vain. With regard to
local matters, he seemed at the beck and call of nearly everyone.
Nothing was too small or too large for him to undertake to assist
any constituent, and oftentimes an avowed and lifelong political
opponent. In a multitude of ways he did us service with his
knowledge of affairs, his influence, his experience, his ability and

'In the matters of commoners' right, the right of "turnout" on the
Forest, free miners' rights, questions of colliery owners, matters
relating to the Crown, the development of the lower coal seams--in
all these (and many of them are local intricate historical questions
involving a mass of detail) he rendered valuable service.

'In his electoral battles he was always a keen fighter and a
courteous opponent. In every campaign he seemed more anxious to beat
his opponent by sheer weight of reason and argument, and intellect
and knowledge, than by any appeal to party passion or feeling.

'I have been at a great many of his meetings, and never saw him
shirk a question, nor saw one put to him that he did not, nine times
out of ten, know more about than the questioner, however local the
point might be.

'As an example, he was holding a meeting at Newnham. Questions were
invited; none asked. Sir Charles looked disappointed; so Mr. King,
of the "Victoria," in a friendly way, thought he would put him a
poser, and asked his opinion about Sir Cuthbert Quilter's Pure Beer

'For about twenty minutes Sir Charles talked beer--the origin,
ingredients, what it should be, what it often is and what it is not,
what it is in other countries. As Mr. King remarked afterwards, he
told him more about beer than he ever knew before, though he had
been in the trade all his life.'

Probably none was more rejoiced at the unexpected display than the
genial Tory host of the Victoria, who lived to deplore his friend and to
quote especially one of his observations: 'If you see a man put on
"side," Sir Charles once said to me, you may be sure he feels the need
of it.' [Footnote: Among those who worked with him and for him best and
longest should be named at least Mr. Charles Ridler and Mr. T. A. H.
Smith of Lydney, Mr. Henry Davis of Newent, Mr. B. H. Taylor, and Mr. S.
J. Elsom.]

Part of the service which he rendered to the constituency was by means
of the honorary presidency of the Liberal Four Hundred, first created,
to be held by himself, in 1889. Under this title the foremost spokesmen
of Liberalism were in successive years brought into the Forest;
[Footnote: The list included Mr. Asquith, Lord Morley, Mr. McKenna, Mr.
Lloyd George, and Lord Loreburn.] and thus member and constituents
worked together alike in political and in personal friendship. He hailed
the little clump of trees on the conical top of Mayhill, the first
landmark which indicated the Forest, almost as if it stood above his
home. All was homelike to him as he drove from the pastoral country by
the Severn, with its apple and pear orchards, to the typical mining town
of Cinderford, and on to the great expanse of Forest in whose midmost
glade was the Speech House Hotel, more ancient than the hollies about
it, which had been planted to mark Charles II.'s Restoration. The
Panelled Room, always reserved for his use during his stay there, had
been for many generations the place in which the free miners met to hold
their courts; it had been built for the purpose, as the gallery for
speakers showed.

He loved the Forest--not only the distant spots of interest, but every
tree, delighting to act as guide to all its pleasant places. So each new
guest was taken to see High Beeches and the great wind-swept row of
Scots firs by Clearwell Court. The aged oak-tree, which at a distance
resembled a barn--for nothing was left but its great trunk above the
roots--was another point of pilgrimage; so were the dwarf thorns on
Wigpool Common, which reminded him of the tiny Japanese trees centuries
old, as, indeed, probably were these.

Then there were the expeditions to the rocking stone called the
Buckstone, a relic of the Druids; to the Scowles, the wonderful Roman
iron workings like the Syracusan quarries; to Symons Yat, where the old
military earthworks ended in a triple dyke, with the Severn and the Wye
on either side; to Newland Church, in which a fifteenth-century brass
shows the free miner of those days equipped for work; or to the lovely
valley by Flaxley Abbey, once in the precincts of the Forest, where the
monks had their fish-ponds, and where on the side of the hills their old
ironworks may still be seen.

He and Lady Dilke rode early in their stay to all these outlying places,
with Miss Monck as their constant companion. She was President of the
Women's Liberal Association, stayed with them during their long visits
to the Forest, and was with him for the election at the end. [Footnote:
Miss Emilia Monck, sister of Mr. Berkeley Monck, of Coley Park, Heading,
of which he was several times Mayor, and which he contested as a Liberal
in 1886.]

These were far rides, but close about the Speech House the place teems
with interest. In the last years he would walk every evening to look at
the great stag-headed ruins of the oaks, which thrust their gnarled and
crooked limbs fantastically into the closing night, or stand watching
the shadows fall on the spruce rides which stretch out near the old inn,
till, in the fading light, it seemed as though figures were moving in
and out on the greensward of the great vistas. In the bright sunshine,
imposing silence on himself and his companions, he would watch for long
together the life in one of the forest glades, the moving creatures in
the grass, the tits playing on the branches of a silver birch
silhouetted against the sky, the little blue butterflies chasing each
other over the pink crab-apple bloom. He would follow the tapping of a
woodpecker, and wait in the evening for the owl's cry to begin; and
here, as elsewhere, to be with him was to see in everything unsuspected

In the winter, Speech House was at first Sir Charles's headquarters for
part of January, but there, 500 feet above the sea, the roads were
sometimes impassable from snow. At last Lady Dilke became too delicate
to face the mid-winter visit, and, except for elections, Whitsuntide and
the autumn were the two occasions for their stay. He went also each year
to the miners' demonstration--in 1908 so ill that it seemed impossible
that even his power of endurance could enable him to bear the strain,
and in 1910 again because he said he 'would not fail Rowlinson and the
miners,' though he fainted after the meeting there.

One of their early headquarters in the Forest was Lindors, the home of
two among their first and warmest friends--Mr. Frederick Martin and his
wife. It is in a lovely little valley with sheltered lawns, the rush of
the water sounding always behind the house, above which the old castle
of St. Briavels stands. The ancient prison is still there, and the
castle dates back to the thirteenth century, and claims an almost
unbroken succession of Constables of the Castle and Wardens of the
Forest of Dean, beginning with John de Monmouth.

After Speech House the Victoria at Newnham saw them oftenest. Its
interior is fascinating, with a low hall and fine old oak stairway,
broad and shallow; a bit of quaint French glass let into the staircase
window bears an illustrated version of La Fourmi et la Cigale. Lady
Dilke found there a remnant of fine tapestry--a battle scene with a bold
picture of horses and their riders. She traced and located this as
belonging to a great panel which is in the Palace at Madrid. At each
election, after the declaration of the poll, Sir Charles made from a
balcony of the Victoria or from a motor-car his speech to the cheering
constituents, who had followed him from the town-hall, first under
happiest circumstance, with his wife waiting for him in the porch, later
alone, till the last occasion, in December, 1910, when he fought and won
the election, dying, but with dogged courage; and as he spoke of the
long term of Liberal government which would ensue before a new electoral
struggle, friends standing near caught the words, 'When I shall not be

* * * * *

Sir Charles had given up the habit of travel except for some special
purpose, as when in 1897 he journeyed with Lady Dilke to see the
Nattiers at Stockholm, or in another year to Bordeaux for her work on
French Art in the Eighteenth Century. But every Christmas they went for
a month to Paris. It was the great holiday of their year, and all the
engagements were made far ahead. There was interest in their Parisian
associations, for their differing attainments made them part of various
separate coteries not familiarly accessible to English people.

Their friends were of all worlds, political, literary, artistic, and
social; and since Sir Charles's intimacy with France dated back to
boyhood, and Lady Dilke's to the days of her first close study of French
art, which, beginning in the sixties with the French Renaissance,
terminated in her big work on French Art in the Eighteenth Century,
their friendships extended over a long period of years, though each
fresh visit enlarged their circle of friends and acquaintances.

In the memoir prefixed to her _Book of the Spiritual Life_ Sir Charles
says of his wife:

'Those who are familiar with several languages learn instinctively to
take the natural manners of the people who are for the moment their
companions. So it was with Lady Dilke.... In Paris she was French with
sufficient difference to give distinction.' As to himself, his great
friend M. Joseph Reinach wrote, 'Dilke connaissait la France mieux que
beaucoup d'entre nous.' But while his command of the French language and
his knowledge of many sides of French life quickened his genial
intercourse with the French, he never failed to impress them as an
English statesman. He paid his French friends the compliment of adopting
many little mannerisms; and however pure the French he spoke, he always
entertained himself by keeping up to date his acquaintance with French
slang, so that the latest developments of fashionable Paris jargon were
familiar to him. Yet that never could be said of him which he himself
noted of his friend M. Richard Waddington, brother to William
Waddington, for many years Ambassador in London, and, in Sir Charles's
opinion, a man of even higher ability than the Ambassador. Of this
friend, half French, half English, he said that he had two mentalities,
and that among Englishmen he was English, among Frenchmen French. Sir
Charles's talk with Frenchmen was unrestrained; as Bismarck felt of
England, so he of France: 'We have nothing to conceal from the French;
they are our natural allies.' But it was always the Englishman who
spoke; no slight veneer of manner in his social intercourse could
conceal that.

There are many scattered entries in his Diary which show how great a
relaxation the Paris holiday yielded.

'At Christmas at Paris we were always gay, though often among the
aged. The gayest dinner I remember was at Henri Germain's with
Gerome, Gaston Boissier, Laboulaye, and others, all about eighty, I
being the chicken of the party.'

Gerome, the painter, is often mentioned. Laboulaye must have been Paul
Laboulaye, born 1833, the diplomatist who had been Ambassador to St.
Petersburg in 1886. It was during his embassy that the _rapprochement_
took place between France and Russia which was announced to Europe by
the welcome of the French fleet to Cronstadt.

Gaston Boissier, Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy, and a great
classical scholar, figures again with another friend, M. Bonnat, in Sir
Charles's memoir of his wife; for he notes that during their last
Christmas in Paris, in 1903, 'the gaiety of their meetings' with these
two friends and others 'had been as unrestrained as ever.' Earlier
memories recall the sculptors Christophe and Gustave Moreau.
Christophe's beautiful 'Mask,' of which Lady Dilke had written, stands
in the Tuileries Garden, and was some time ago horribly disfigured by
inkstain. One of Sir Charles's late letters was written to M. Joseph
Reinach, to ask whether anything had yet been done to cleanse this work
of the sculptor she venerated. Only two small casts were made by
Christophe from the statue, and one of these, given to her by him,
decorated the Pyrford home. So did a picture by Francois Louis Francais,
another artist friend, chief in his day of the water-colour school, a
picture which had inspired one of her stories, and gave the motto,
'Dites-moi un Pater,' to her _Shrine of Death_. In all the later and in
some of the earlier friendships Sir Charles shared, as he did in those
of the great custodians of art treasures. M. de Nolhac, the poet and the
Curator of Versailles, was prominent among them, and Eugene Muentz, head
of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Lady Dilke's correspondence with the
latter, extending over a period of twenty-three years, is preserved at
the Bibliotheque Nationale.

One great friend among collectors was M. Gustave Dreyfus, a high
authority on Donatello and on the medallists of the Italian Renaissance.
At his house there was another attraction in the shape of the
concierge's cat, on whom Sir Charles would call before paying his
respects upstairs. At another house a cat named Pouf was held in great
honour by him, and his feelings were deeply wounded when, with feline
capriciousness, it turned, on Paul Hervieu's entrance, to bestow all its
blandishments on the writer. His love of cats was as well known to his
French as to his English friends, Emile Ollivier writes in 1891 from La
Moutte: 'Campion lui-meme cherche d'un regard afflige son protecteur
disparu'; and M. Andre Chevrillon, being 'touche par la facon dont je
vous ai entendu parler de ce divin animal,' sent him Taine's sonnets 'A
trois chats, Puss, Ebene, et Mitonne, dedies par leur ami, maitre, et

Memorials of dinners with the well-known collector Camille Groult were
preserved in the shape of some sketches, one of a cavalier in peruke and
cravat, another an excellent crayon head of the host, by Domingo, the
Spanish artist, drawn on the back of a torn menu and given by him to
Lady Dilke.

The Groults' admiration of the beauty of Dockett Eddy was testified in
the gift of a little reflecting mirror, a 'camera obscura,' which, held
to the light, made exquisite vignettes of river, clematis, and syringa;
and a dinner at 76, Sloane Street was marked by the gift of little
copies of M. Groult's famous lately acquired Fragonard, in which Cupid
levels his arrows at the dainty feet of a well-known dancer of the time.

The sculptor Rodin was an acquaintance of late years, and a Christmas
card sent to 76, Sloane Street, in the form of a framed and signed
pencil sketch of a female head, was that master's tribute to Sir
Charles's heresy that Rodin drew much better than he sculptured.

'For old Francais,' says Sir Charles, 'Lady Dilke had the veneration she
felt for Christophe among sculptors,' and for a few women, such as Mme.
Renan. To both the Renans they were bound by ties of familiar
friendship, and some of their pleasantest hours were spent at the
College de France. On November 11th, 1880, there is a note of Sir
Charles's of a talk with Gambetta: 'They discussed Renan's "Souvenirs,"
which were appearing in the _Revue_ for November, wonderfully
entertaining, and perfectly beautiful in style.' It was Renan who had
presented Lady Dilke's two volumes on the French Renaissance, in 1880,
to the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, with an admiring
report, and Sir Charles's admiration for Renan's writing was great. Of
Mme. Renan he says: 'This homely-looking old dame was not only a good
wife, but a woman of the soundest sense and the most upright judgment.'

The same feeling of attachment and respect bound them to Mme. de
Franqueville, [Footnote: Mlle. Erard.] the first wife of Sir Charles's
old friend M. de Franqueville, whom he saw often both in Paris and
London. They visited them at La Muette, famous for its memories of Marie
Antoinette, where in the early years of her prosperity she would take
her companions to play at dairying with dainty emblazoned milkpails.

One whose friendship dated far back was Emile Ollivier, and with him Sir
Charles often discussed, both in Paris and at St. Tropez, a vanished era
in France's history, that of the 'Liberal Empire.' To these talks the
Prime Minister of Napoleon III. would bring such wealth of oratory and
such fertility of gesticulation that his hearers felt themselves
transported to a crowded chamber, of which he occupied the rostrum, and
woke with bewilderment to find themselves in the tranquil calm of his
sun-flooded Southern home. There were those who said that the point of
view urged with such conviction varied, and Sir Charles retains a _mot_
of M. Jusserand: 'Emile Ollivier change souvent d'idee fixe.' Mme. Emile
Ollivier, his devoted second wife and helper, was also a great friend,
and her photograph was one of those which Lady Dilke kept near her.

'Relations of the pleasantest kind,' says Sir Charles, were formed with
the Due d'Aumale, in Mr. Bodley's phrase 'last of the grands seigneurs
of France.' On September 25th, 1895, the Duke wrote asking them 'to
spend a whole day going through the books at Chantilly.' 'The charm of
these books, however, and of these repeated visits of 1895 and 1896, lay
in the fact that books and drawings alike excited historic memory.'

'In October, 1895, we were in Paris, and took Went [Footnote: Sir
Charles Dilke's son, the present Sir C. Wentworth Dilke.] to stay at
Vaux, that he might see the finest of the chateaux, and also the
room where, according to Dumas, Aramis and Porthos carried off Louis
XIV., though d'Artagnan saved him again. We also went ourselves to
lunch at Chantilly with the Due d'Aumale, who told us how Mme.
Adelaide, his aunt, used to slap his brother, the Prince de
Joinville, already a distinguished naval officer, and stop his
talking politics with, "Tais-toi, mechant morveux, qui oses
critiquer la politique de ton pere." Comtesse Berthe de Clinchamp
has looked after the house since the days of the Duchesse d'Aumale,
though she lives in another house. This distinguished old dame was
also there. A daughter of the Due de Chartres was once slapped by
her aunt, the Comtesse de Paris, in public, for asking to be taken
to stay at Chantilly with "tante de Clinchamp." In 1896 to 1897 we
were a great deal at Chantilly, finding the Duke interesting with
his reminiscences of his father's account of the Court of Louis XVI.
With the ex-King of Westphalia, and Bismarck, the Duc d'Aumale was
in old age the most interesting companion that I have known. It was
the projecting of his stories into a newer generation that made them
good. Sir S. Smith ("Long Acre") was a bore at the Congress of
Vienna, but would have been delightful to us could we have known
him.' [Footnote: Sir Sidney Smith must have been prolix over his
achievements at the siege of Acre and elsewhere. It is certain that
a reputation for bombast injured his career and caused his
remarkable achievements to be underrated.]

When in May, 1897, the Duke suddenly died, Lady Dilke wrote a little
article which, in spite of the sadness of the circumstances of his death
and the consequent deep note of pathos, in certain parts of the obituary
recalled very happily the brightness of their talks. Letters of the time
speak of the losses which the Dilkes and their friends had sustained by
the fire at the charity bazaar which had indirectly caused the Duke's
death, through that of the Duchesse d'Alencon, his favourite niece. One
of Lady Dilke's dearest friends in France, the Marquise de Sassenaye,
had escaped, but several of her relations who were with her had died a
dreadful death. The tie with these friends was very close, and the
daughter of the Marquise de Sassenaye, the Baronne de Laumont, and her
granddaughter, the Comtesse Marquiset, were among Sir Charles's last
guests at the House of Commons. But he did not live to know that his
friend the Baron de Laumont and his only son laid down their lives for
France in 1915.

Colonel Picquart Sir Charles had met in 1891 during the 'belles journees
de ces manoeuvres de l'Est,' chronicled by M. Joseph Reinach. He deeply
admired the character of this noble and chivalrous gentleman, who,
convinced that wrong had been done to an innocent man, sacrificed his
fine career to save him, and suffered for his Dreyfusism by imprisonment
and military degradation. Sir Charles met Picquart often at the table of
M. Labori and elsewhere, and at one dinner when Emile Zola was present
in 1899 there were also two English friends, the genial Sir Campbell
Clarke, Paris correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_, and his kind wife,
at whose house in Paris the Dilkes dined almost every Christmas Day. He
touched in this way the struggle over the Dreyfus affair, and his
attitude is summed up in a letter conveying through M. Reinach to
Colonel Picquart 'that intense sympathy which I do not express publicly
only because all we English say does more harm than good.' [Footnote:
'At Christmas, 1900, in Paris we met Labori and Colonel Picquart two
nights running, and heard fully the reasons of their quarrel with the
Dreyfus family, which will probably all come out. Labori with great
eloquence, and Picquart quietly, developed the view that Dreyfus, by
virtually accepting the amnesty along with his own freedom, has taken up
the position of a guilty man and sacrificed all those who have
sacrificed everything for him. When, during the season of 1901, Labori
came to London, and we saw much of him, he had toned down this view, or
did not think it wise to express it. But it came out in November,

His friendship with M. Joseph Reinach, so often mentioned, dates back to
the days when the latter was Gambetta's secretary. 'C'est par Gambetta
que j'ai connu Dilke,' says M. Reinach. 'Gambetta avait pour lui une
vive affection.' In London and in Paris they met and talked and fenced,
and kept in touch by close political correspondence. 'Dilke was a great
friend of mine, and I thought him a true and intrepid patriot and
citizen,' said M. Reinach; and perhaps of all M. Reinach's great
qualities it was his courage which most provoked the admiration of Sir
Charles and of his wife. They knew all the three brothers, and M.
Salomon Reinach, asking Sir Charles to come and discuss manuscripts,
signs himself 'in admiration of your enormous knowledge'--a happy
tribute from one of whom it was said 'il sait tout.' 'Salomon Reinach,
the outgoing President of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles
Lettres,' writes Sir Charles in 1908 to Lord Fitzmaurice, 'is what
Arthur Strong (Librarian of House of Lords) was, and Acton tried to be,
"universal." He asked me to listen to him for two whole evenings, till
we became a nuisance to our hosts--on the way in which, despite our
Historical Manuscripts Commission, we still lock up papers. His
strongest examples were Horace Mann's letters to Horace Walpole, and the
letters received by the Duke of Wellington (the loss of nearly all the
letters written by J. S. Mill moves me more).'

M. Pallain, Regent of the Bank of France, was another friend whose
acquaintance with Sir Charles dated back to the days when he was
Gambetta's secretary. His book on Talleyrand, the 'fameux livre de
Pallain,' as Sir Charles calls it in a letter to M. Jusserand, was
hardly less interesting to him than his mastership of French finance.

The Siegfrieds, representatives of the wealthy and serious Protestant
world, were friends who shared Sir Charles' interest in questions of
social reform, as was that wisest of permanent officials, M. Fontaine,
head of the French Labour Department; and he discussed these matters
also with the great representative of Roman Catholic Socialism, Count
Albert de Mun. The list of his Diary engagements, ranging over a long
period of time, is filled with the names of French writers, from Ludovic
Halevy, the novelist and dramatist (passages from whose _Belle Helene_
he would recite and whistle), to Anatole France; and of politicians of
every school of thought, from Leon Say, 'a statesman of rare
competence,' to M. Delcasse, whom he saw often, Deschanel, Leon
Bourgeois, Millerand, Viviani, and that great friend of Greece--M. Denys
Cochin; Calmette, the editor of the _Figaro_, assassinated by Mme.
Caillaux; and Lepine, the Prefect of Police; while Jaures was a London
as well as a Paris guest.

The excellence of much French acting attracted Sir Charles and his wife
to the theatre in Paris, though in London their visits to a play were
rare. M. Jules Claretie, the Academician, and for nearly thirty years,
till his death in 1913, the distinguished Director of the Theatre
Francais, constantly put his box at their disposal, and rarely failed to
join them for a talk between the acts.

There is a reply from General de Galliffet, the 'beau sabreur'--that
brilliant soldier whom Sir Charles had followed through the French
manoeuvres accepting a theatre invitation in 1892: 'J'ai, en principe,
l'horreur du theatre; j'en benis le ciel puisque je pourrai ainsi mieux
jouir de votre societe et de celle de Lady Dilke.'

In these visits to Paris they went always to the Hotel St. James, in the
Rue St. Honore, attracted by the beauty and interest of their rooms
there. It is the old Hotel de Noailles, and the staircase and landing,
and several of the rooms, are still as they were when three members of
the family--grandmother, mother, and daughter--were guillotined at the
time of the French Revolution. The guardroom at the head of the stairs,
with its great folding doors, and the paved landing with its old
_dalles_, are intact, as are some of the state-rooms. Their sitting-room
and the great bedroom opening from it looked out on to the courtyard,
where in old days, before it became a courtyard and when the garden
stretched away to the Seine, Marie Antoinette walked and talked, the
story goes, with La Fayette, with whom her friend Mme. de Noailles had
arranged an interview. The windows and balconies here, and part of the
garden front, resemble exactly their representations in pictures of the

They saw many of their friends during the year both at the House of
Commons and at Dockett. Describing them in London, dining in the room
decorated by Gambetta's portrait, M. Jules Claretie writes: 'La premiere
fois que j'eus l'honneur d'etre l'hote de Sir Charles la charmante Lady
Dilke me dit, souriante, "Ici vous etes en France. Savez-vous qui est
notre cuisinier? L'ancien brosseur de General Chanzy."' And among Sir
Charles's collection of Dockett photographs was one in which the chef,
accompanied by the greater artist, the elder Coquelin, was fishing from
a punt on the Thames.

'Je me rappelle avec tristesse,' says the same friend in February, 1911,
'les beaux soirs ou, sur la terrasse du Parlement, en regardant, de
l'autre cote de la Tamise, les silhouettes des hauts monuments, la-bas,
sous les etoiles, dans la nuit, nous causions avec Sir Charles de cet
_Athenaeum_, la revue hebdomadaire ou il accumulait tant de science, et
dont j'avais ete un moment, apres Philarete Chasles et Edmond About, le
correspondant Parisien; puis de Paris, de la France de Pavenir-du passe

When M. Jules Claretie came to London to deliver a lecture in 1899 on
the French and English theatre, Sir Charles was asked to preside, and
also to assist in welcoming him at the Ambassador's table. The charming
and unfailing friendship of that Ambassador, M. Paul Cambon, is worthy
of record, and Sir Charles's admiration for him was very marked. He used
to say that so long as a great Ambassador, either French or English,
represented his nation in Paris or London, the other representative
might be a cipher, and M. Cambon's embassy in London sufficed for both
countries. 'He is a man,' he wrote to Mr. Morley in 1892, 'who (with his
brother Jules) will survive Ribot, and even Freycinet.'

Another close friend was M. Jusserand, whose graceful studies of English
literary history adorned the Pyrford bookshelves. While he was
counsellor to the Embassy in London he was a frequent guest at 76,
Sloane Street, and when he became Ambassador at Washington he still kept
in constant touch with Sir Charles.

'Des qu'on nous parle d'un homme d'etat etranger, ministre ou
diplomate,' says M. Joseph Reinach, writing of Sir Charles, 'c'est notre
premiere question: Aime-t-il la France? C'est une sottise. Un Italien
n'aime que l'Italie, un Russe n'aime que la Russie, un Anglais n'aime
que l'Angleterre.' It may be so. In 1887 Sir Charles wrote to M. Reinach
concerning the possibility that Bismarck would attack France, which, he
added, 'everybody thinks likely except your humble servant, Lord Lyons,
and Sir E. Malet, our new man at Berlin.' If it did happen, said he,
'whatever use I can be I shall be, either if I can best serve France by
writing here, or by coming to be a private of volunteers and by giving
all I can to the French ambulances.' Some there are who can recall Sir
Charles's face as he turned over the pages of M. Boutet de Monvel's
_Jeanne d'Arc_, and dwelt on that first picture in which the little
'piou-pious' of the modern army advance, under the flag on which are
inscribed the battles of the past; while the Old Guard rises from the
earth to reinforce their ranks, and the ghostly figure of Jeanne d'Arc,
symbolizing the spirit of France, leads on to victory. Listening as he
talked, his hearers became infected with Sir Charles's spirit, and
thinking of the past, looking to the future, he so kindled them that
when he closed the book they all were 'lovers of France.'





'From 1870 to this date one man has stood for all the great causes of
industrial progress, whether for the agricultural labourers, or in the
textile trades, or in the mining industries, or with the shop
assistants. That man is Sir Charles Dilke.' So, in 1910, spoke Dr. Gore,
the present Bishop of Oxford, at that time Bishop of Birmingham.

In Sir Charles's early days, economists were still governed by
individualist doctrines. The school of _laissez faire_ was the
prevailing school of thought, and in its teaching he was trained. "We
were all Tory anarchists once," was his own summary of the views which
characterized that economic theory. But to "let alone" industrial misery
early became for Sir Charles a counsel of despair. _Greater Britain_,
published in 1868, when he was twenty-five, gave indications of a change
of view, and his close friendship with John Stuart Mill directly
furthered this development. Mill's lapses into heresy from the orthodox
economics of the day were notable, and Sir Charles was wont to point to
a passage written by Mill in the forties showing that sweated wages
depressed all wages, and to claim him as the pioneer of the minimum

It was left for Mill's disciple to become one of the foremost champions
of the legislation which now protects the industrial conditions of the
worker, and also the guardian of its effective administration.

His policy was distinguished by his determination to act with those for
whom the legislation was created, and to induce them to inspire and to
demand measures for their own protection. The education of the
industrial class, the object of "helping the workers to help
themselves," was never absent from his mind. This view went farther than
the interest of a class: he held the stability of the State itself to be
menaced by the existence of an unorganized and depressed body of
workers. An organized and intelligent corporate demand put forward by
trained leaders chosen from the workers' own ranks was essential to the
development and stability of industrial conditions and to appropriate
legislation. Sir Charles was therefore the unwavering advocate of
trade-unionism. It is worth while to emphasize his attitude, since views
now generally accepted were not popular in the sixties. His first speech
to his Chelsea electors in 1867 dealt with his trade-union position, as
it did with the need for strengthening the Factory Acts.

Violent utterances on the part of certain sections of Labour did not
affect his advocacy of its claims, for he would have endorsed the words
of Cardinal Manning written to him on September 13th, 1884: "It is the
cause of the people mismanaged by imprudent and rough words and deeds;
but a people suffering long and stung by want of sympathy cannot speak
like county magistrates." During the later period of his life he tried,
at innumerable meetings all over Great Britain, to help trade-unionists
to make their claims understood. So he came to fill "a unique position
as counsellor, friend, and adviser to the Labour cause." [Footnote:
Letter from the Rt. Hon. George Barnes, Labour M.P. for the Blackfriars
division of Glasgow, and Minister for Pensions in Mr. Lloyd George's
Government of 1916, once general secretary of the Amalgamated Society of

His belief in trade-unionism was never shaken; for though he did not
pretend that in the distant future trade-unionism would be sufficient to
redress all social ills, holding it, as Lady Dilke did, to be, not "the
gospel of the future, but salvation for the present," he believed that
during his lifetime it was far from having perfected its work. He was a
strong municipal Socialist, but with regard to State Socialism he would
never bind himself to any general theory; he was in favour of large
experiments and of noting those made elsewhere; beyond this he "did not
see his way."

His faith in the maintenance of all safeguards for trade-unions was well
demonstrated by his action on the occasion of the Taff Vale judgment and
its sequel. [Footnote: _Taff Vale Judgment_.--As trade-unions were not
incorporated, it was generally assumed that they could not be sued, but
in 1900 Mr. Justice Farwell decided that a trade-union registered under
the Trade-Union Acts, 1871 and 1876, might be sued in its registered
name; and this decision, after being reversed in the Court of Appeal,
was restored by the House of Lords in 1901. The result of this case (the
Taff Vale Railway Company _v_. the Amalgamated Society of Railway
Servants) was that damages could be obtained against a trade-union for
the acts of their officials in "picketing" during a strike; and by
making the trustees in whom the funds were vested defendants, an order
could be obtained for the payment of damages and costs out of the
accumulated funds of the trade-union.] He wished to keep for them the
inviolability of corporate funds which formed their strength and staying
power. While he admitted that theoretically a good case could be made
out against such inviolability, he was clear that in practice it was
essential to the continued existence of Labour as an organized force,
capable of self-defensive action. The conference on the effect of the
Taff Vale decision held in October, 1901, was arranged by him after
consultation with Mr. Asquith, who suggested Sir Robert Reid and Mr.
Haldane as legal assessors. How grave was the position which the
judgment had created may be gathered from the declaration of Mr. Asquith
in a letter to Sir Charles written on December 5th, 1901: "How to
conduct a strike legally now, I do not know." He advised the
introduction of two Bills, one to deal with the question of trade-union
funds, the other with picketing, etc. In April, 1902, Sir Charles Dilke
introduced the deputation, organized to ask for special facilities for
discussion, to Lord James of Hereford, who received it on behalf of the
Cabinet, and to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Leader of the

In an article contributed by him to the _Independent Review_ of June,
1904, he notes a private offer of the Government for dealing with the
matter by a small Royal Commission of experts, whose recommendations
should be immediately followed by legislation. This was refused by the
Labour leaders, and he thought it a lost opportunity for what might have
been a favourable settlement. [Footnote: Mr. D. J. Shackleton, an
Insurance Commissioner, and appointed Permanent Under-Secretary of the
Ministry of Labour in December, 1916, was in 1906 M.P. for Clitheroe,
and a prominent member of the Labour party. He writes of the passing of
the Trade Disputes Act, which reversed the Taff Vale judgment: "It was
my privilege to be the spokesman for the Labour party and Joint Board on
the Trade Disputes Bill in the House of Commons. On the evening when the
Bill was read a third time in the House of Lords, the three National
Committees gave me a complimentary dinner at the House of Commons. In
the course of my speech in reply to the toast, I expressed, on behalf of
the Labour movement and myself, our sincere and grateful thanks to Sir
Charles for the very valuable help he had given us through all our
Parliamentary fights. My consultations with him whilst the Bill was
before the House were almost daily. On many occasions he crossed the
floor to give me points in answer to speeches that were made in
opposition to the Labour position."] But at the same time 'the Taff Vale
judgment virtually brought the separate Labour party into existence, and
the difficulty of upsetting the judgment and of amending the law of
conspiracy will,' he said, 'nurture, develop, and fortify it in the
future.' To him this was matter for satisfaction. [Footnote: A full
account of the action taken by Sir Charles on the Taff Vale judgment and
the Trade Disputes Act which reversed its decision will be found in
Appendix II. to this chapter, furnished by Miss Mary Macarthur (now Mrs.
W. C. Anderson). Miss Macarthur, secretary of the Women's Trade-Union
League from 1903, worked with Sir Charles on many questions.]

His absence from the House of Commons from 1886 to 1892 gave him leisure
for deep study of industrial questions, and he drew much of illustration
and advice from his knowledge of colonial enterprise in social reform.
Thus, in his advocacy of a general eight-hour day, observation of
colonial politics largely guided his suggestions. In his first speech in
the Forest of Dean in 1889, he said: "Australia has tried experiments
for us, and we have the advantage of being able to note their success or
failure before we imitate or vary them at home." The experiments in
regard to regulation of hours and wages which colonial analogy justified
should, he urged, be carried out by Government and by the municipalities
as employers and in their contracts. His visits to our Colonies were
followed by constant correspondence with Colonial statesmen, especially
with Mr. Deakin, and the introduction here of minimum-wage legislation
may be traced to Sir Charles's close study of Colonial experiment.

But he never narrowed his policy to developments which would confine the
leaders of Labour to the management of the internal affairs of their
trade-unions; he early urged the representation of Labour by Labour in
Parliament, where its influence on legislation affecting its interests
would be direct, and there is a note in his Diary in 1906, when the
"Labour party" in Parliament came into existence, chronicling the
"triumph of the principles" to which during his life that part of his
activities devoted to Labour had been given.

In 1894, when the Independent Labour party was emerging into light, he
had advocated in talks with Labour friends its development into the
Labour party of later days. But he noted the limits which bounded his
own co-operation except as an adviser: "My willingness to sink home
questions and join the Tories in the event of a war, and my wish to
increase the white army in India and the fleet--even as matters
stand--are a bar."

There were those who prophesied that the Labour party's appearance had
no permanent interest; that it owed its existence to political crises,
and would soon fade out of the life of Parliament. Sir Charles, on the
contrary, was clear that it constituted a definite and permanent feature
in Parliamentary life. It might vary in number and in efficiency; it
might, like other parties, have periods of depression; but it was
henceforth a factor to be reckoned with in politics. Its power, however,
must largely depend upon its independence. The point to which an
independent party can carry its support of the Government in power must
not be overstepped, and when, as in 1910, in the case of the "Osborne
judgment" [Footnote: Mr. Osborne was a member of the Amalgamated Society
of Railway Servants. He brought an action against them for a declaration
that the rule providing contribution for Parliamentary representation is
invalid, and for an injunction to restrain the funds being used in this
way. He was successful in the Court of Appeal and in the House of Lords
(A.S. of R.S. _v_. Osborne, 1910, A.C., 87). This practically made it
impossible for trade-unions to support the Labour party.] or the
Unemployed Bill, he thought that he detected weakening in the ranks of
the Labour party in their fight for these Bills, he noted it gravely.

His view that Labour should find its leaders in its own ranks was not
shared by Chamberlain and others who initiated Labour legislation;
[Footnote: April, 1893, letter to Dilke from Chamberlain: "A political
leader having genuine sympathy with the working classes and a political
programme could, in my opinion, afford to set them [Labour leaders]
aside." Reference to this letter has been made also in Chapter XLIX., p.
288.] but Dilke's principle was to act as spokesman for Labour only so
long as it stood in need of an interpreter; when the movement had
attained stability and become articulate, his work as the advocate who
had expressed its aspirations and compelled public attention for them
was done.

His policy did not involve his silence on points in which he differed
from the Labour party. In his first speech in the House of Commons in
1893, on the question of the destitute alien, he did not agree with some
trade representatives, who would in those days have excluded aliens, in
fear of their competition. His dissection of the figures on which the
plea of exclusion was based showed that they were misleading, since
emigration and immigration were not accurately compared. He maintained
that protective legislation with regard to conditions and wages would
deal with the danger from competition which the trades feared, and he
pointed out that anti-alien legislation must strike at the root of that
right of asylum which had always been a distinguishing feature of
British policy.

He met the contention of those who wished for a Labour Ministry by
pointing out that co-ordination and readjustment, not addition to the
number of Ministers, was needed. The size of our Cabinets was
responsible for many governmental weaknesses in a country where
Ministers were already far more numerous than was the case in other
great European countries; too numerous to be accommodated on the
Treasury Bench, and with salaries which would almost have met the cost
of payment of members.

From Labour developments everything was to be hoped, and nothing to be
feared, in the interests of the State or community. The only danger
which menaced the gradual and wise evolution of Labour was "an
unsuccessful war." The danger to peaceful evolution from such a war
would be great indeed. He warned those who advocated the settlement of
international difficulties by arbitration, that this result could only
be obtained when the workers of the different countries were in a
position to arrive at settlement by this means. Till then we could not
neglect any precaution for Imperial Defence.

Complete data are needed to carry out efficient work, and to Sir
Charles's orderly mind the confusion of our Labour and other statistics,
and the absence of correlation arising from their production by
different departments, were a source of constant irritation. Both by
question and speech in the House of Commons and as President of the
Statistical Society he laboured to obtain inquiry into "this
overlapping, to obtain co-ordination of statistics and the possibility
of combining enforcement with economy under one department," instead of
under three or four. [Footnote: Sir Bernard Mallet, Registrar-General,
gives an account of Sir Charles's work in this direction. See Appendix
I. to this chapter.]

Trade-unionism had by no means achieved "its perfected work," and
outside the highly organized trades there was a vast unorganized mass of
labour, largely that of women. The existence of such a body of workers
undermined the Labour position, and of all Sir Charles's efforts to
improve industrial conditions none is more noteworthy than that which
was done by himself and Lady Dilke for women and children. His wife's
work for the Women's Trade-Union League, to which are affiliated women's
trade-unions (the League increased its membership from ten to seventy
thousand during her lifetime), brought him increasingly in touch with
women's work; and, from his return to Parliament in 1892 to the end,
scarcely a month in any Session passed without many questions being put
by him in the House of Commons on points dealing with their needs. These
questions tell in themselves a history of a long campaign; sometimes
dealing with isolated cases of suffering, such as accident or death from
ill-guarded machinery, or a miscarriage of justice through the hide-
bound conservatism of some country bench; sometimes forming part of a
long series of interrogatories, representing persistent pressure
extending over many years, directed to increased inspection, to the
enforcement of already existing legislation, or to the promotion of new.
The results were shown not only by redress of individual hardships and
by the general strengthening of administration, but by the higher
standard reached in the various measures of protective legislation which
were passed during his lifetime. Nearly every Bill for improving Labour
conditions, for dealing with fines and deductions, for procuring
compensation for accident, bore the stamp of his work. [Footnote: As
Minister he helped in measures far outside his department. Mr. W. J.
Davis, father of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade-Union
Congress, tells how once, at Dilke's own suggestion, he and Mr.
Broadhurst came to see Sir Charles, then Under-Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, about the Employers' Liability Bill and the Contracting-out
Clause. "We spent an hour with him in the smoking-room," says Mr. Davis,
"and left, Sir Charles having agreed to see the full Committee at 9.30
next morning. The House did not rise until 3 a.m., but Sir Charles was
at our offices in Buckingham Street prompt to time. In the afternoon he
met a few of us again, to consider an amendment for extending the time
for the commencement of an action to six months instead of six weeks.
This desirable alteration he succeeded in obtaining. When the Bill was
passed--which, with all its faults, restored the workers' rights to
compensation for life and limb--there was no member of the Government,
even including the Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt), from whom the
Parliamentary Committee had received such valuable help as from the
Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs."]

Characteristically he mustered for use every scrap of information
available on a subject. Thus, he detected in the Employment of Children
Act (1903) powers which neither the framers nor the promoters of the Act
had foreseen, and, by speech and question, pressed their use till these
previously unknown powers of protection for children were exercised by
the officials to the full. Equally characteristic was his fashion of
utilizing his specialized knowledge of regulations in one department in
order to drive home his point in another. Thus, having cited the case of
a stunted child told off to carry loads amounting to 107 pounds, he was
able to add the information that, "in regulating the weight to be lifted
by blue-jackets in working quick-firing guns, the limit was put at 100

His care for women workers was not confined to public advocacy; it
showed itself in unostentatious and unremitting help to those who worked
with him or came to him for advice. Such advice was not confined to
large questions of policy: he spent himself as faithfully on the
smallest points of detail which made for the efficiency of the work. His
knowledge furnished "briefs" for that group of workers which his wife's
care for the Women's Trade-Union League drew round them both, and it
guided and inspired their campaign. He watched every publication of the
League. However busy, he would find time to correct the proofs of
articles brought to him, to dissect Blue-books and suggest new points;
each quarter he read the review which was issued of the League's work.

The man who knows, and is ready to help, is early surrounded by clients.
Tributes from the organizers and leaders of the great trades are as
frequent as the testimony to his help which came from workers in
unorganized and sweated trades. The representative of a mining
constituency in later years, his work for the miners was great, and
repaid by their trust and support. [Footnote: "During the whole of his
Parliamentary life he was always ready and willing to help the miners,
assist in preparing and drafting Mines Bills, regulations for increased
safety in mines, and the eight hours. He was in charge of the Mines
Regulation Amendment Bill, bringing it before the House every Session
until the Government appointed a Royal Commission, and ultimately
brought in a Bill which became an Act of Parliament. By his tact and
influence he managed some years ago to get a short Bill passed raising
the working age underground from twelve to thirteen," writes Mr. T.
Ashton, secretary of the Miners' Federation.] From a standpoint which
gives an estimate of all his Labour work come these words from Mr.
Sidney Webb:

"He was an unfailing resource in every emergency. No one will ever
know how much the Progressive Movement, in all its manifestations,
owed to his counsel, his great knowledge, and his unsparing
helpfulness. Trade-unionism among women as well as men; the movement
for amending and extending factory legislation; the organization of
the Labour forces in the House of Commons, are only some of the
causes in which I have myself witnessed the extraordinary
effectiveness which his participation added. There has probably been
no other instance in which the workmen alike in the difficulties of
trade-union organization and amid the complications of Parliamentary
tactics have had constantly at their service the services of a man
of so much knowledge and such extensive experience of men and
affairs. But the quality that more than any other impressed me in
Sir Charles Dilke as I knew him was his self-effacement. He seemed
to have freed himself, not only from personal ambitions, but also
from personal resentments and personal vanity. What was remarkable
was that this 'selflessness' had in it no element of 'quietism.' He
retained all the keenness of desire for reform, all the zest of
intellectual striving, and all the optimism, of the enthusiast."


That "true Imperialism" which Sir Charles advocated was never more
clearly shown than in matters of Social Reform. His demand that we
should learn from the example of our Colonies was dictated by his desire
to promote the homogeneity of the Empire. He believed in developing our
institutions according to the national genius, and he viewed, for
example, with distrust the tendency to import into this country such
schemes as that of contributory National Sickness Insurance on a German
pattern. His attitude during the early debates on Old-Age Pensions
helped to secure a non-contributory scheme. He laid, then as always,
special stress on the position of those workers who never receive a
living wage and already suffer from heavy indirect taxation, holding
that to take from such as these is to reduce still further their
vitality and efficiency. During the debates on the Workmen's
Compensation Act he urged the extension of the principle to out-workers
and to all trades. The protection should be universal and compulsory.

In a speech of April 27th, 1907, he promised to "fight to the death any
scheme of Old-Age Pensions based on thrift or on the workers'
contributions." Later, when the proposals as to workmen's insurance were
nebulous, but nevertheless pointed to a contributory scheme, he,
criticizing some words of Mr. Haldane's, spoke his anxiety lest "to have
a system for all labour, including the underpaid labour of unskilled
women, based on contributions by the individual, might involve the
difficulty expressly avoided by the Government in the case of pensions--
namely, the use of public money to benefit the better-paid class of
labour, inapplicable to the worst-paid class, but largely based on
taxation which the latter paid." One of his last pencillings on the
margin of an article reviewing the Government's forecast of the scheme
for sickness insurance includes a note of regret and indignation at the
apparent omission to make any special provision for the lowest-paid
classes of workers.

One neglected class of Labour whose grievances he sought to remedy by a
measure which has not yet reached fulfilment was that of the shop
assistants. Year after year, from 1896, he spoke at their meetings,
introduced their Bill in the House of Commons, urged its points,
inspired its introduction in the Lords, till at last the Liberal
Government, in 1909, introduced proposals embodying its main features.
The question of the representation of the shop assistants on the Grand
Committee when the Bill should reach that stage was discussed by him
just five days before his death, and many attributed very largely to his
absence the fact that the Government were obliged to permit mutilation
of their proposals before they became law in 1911. The National Union of
Shop Assistants have commemorated his work for them by giving his name
to their new headquarter offices in London.

An amusing tribute to his legislative activities and the effect they
produced on reactionaries is to be found in a speech by that famous
"die-hard" of the individualist school, the late Lord Wemyss, who warned
the House of Lords that their lordships should always scrutinize the
measures that came from "another place," and "beware of Bills which bear
on their backs the name of that great municipal Socialist, Sir Charles

A minor but important characteristic of Sir Charles's views as an
administrator was his conviction that wherever the interests of women
and children are concerned the inspectorate should include an effective
women's staff. The appointment of women inspectors for the Local
Government Board made by him in 1883 was a pioneer experiment, which he
vainly urged Sir William Harcourt to follow in the Home Department--a
reform delayed till twelve years later, when Mr. Asquith as Home
Secretary carried it out.

But his most important service to Labour in the direction of
administration is connected with the Home Office Vote. Though Bills were
closely followed by him in Committee, he refused to take part in any
obstruction upon them, holding that "all obstruction is opposed to the
interests of Radicalism, in the long-run." Acting on this view, he with
others helped the Government to get votes in Supply. The true policy
was, in his view, to obtain "ample opportunity for the discussion of
important votes at those times of the Session when we desire to discuss
them." So he dealt with Home Office administration on its industrial
side. Some more marked and centralized criticism of the workings of this
great department was necessary than that supplied by questions in
Parliament, correspondence, and private interviews. The administration
of the War Office, the conduct of Foreign Affairs, or of the Admiralty,
claimed the attention of the House of Commons as the annual vote on the
Estimates came round. It was not so with the "Ministry of the Interior,"
and it was practically left to Sir Charles to create that annual debate
on the Home Office Vote, which dealt with the industrial side of that
department's administration. Year after year he reviewed its work,
forcing into prominence the Chief Inspector's Report on Factories and
Workshops; examining the orders, exemptions, exceptions, and
regulations, by which the Home Office legislates under the head of
administration, always with a view to the levelling up of industrial
conditions and the promotion of a universal incidence of protection for
the workers. "We can trust no one but Sir Charles Dilke in Parliament to
understand the principles of factory legislation," wrote Mr. Sidney Webb
in comment on some destructive Government proposals as to industrial
law. This appreciation of the fundamental ideal underlying our
legislative patchwork of eccentricities went hand in hand with a half-
humorous and half-lenient understanding of his countrymen's attitude to
such questions. "We passed Acts in advance of other nations," he said,
"before we began to look for the doctrines that underlay our action, and
long before we possessed the knowledge on which it was said to have been
based." But for one afternoon in the year the attention of the House of
Commons was intelligently focussed on the details of the suffering of
those, the weakest workers of all, on whose shoulders the fabric of our
industrial system rests. Matters left previously to the agitation of
some voluntary society or to the pages of the "novel with a purpose"
were marshalled according to their bearing on different administrative
points, and discussed in orderly detail. The overwork of women and girls
in factory or workshop; the injury to health and the risks that spring
from employment in dangerous trades; poor wages further reduced by fines
and deductions; the employment of children often sent to work at too
early an age, to stagger under loads too heavy for them to bear; the
liability to accident consequent on long hours of labour--these were the
themes brought forward on the Home Office Vote, not for rhetorical
display, but as arguments tending to a practical conclusion, such as the
inadequacy of inspection or the insufficient numbers of the available

In the atmosphere thus created much progress was possible. Take, for
example, one dangerous trade, that of the manufacture of china and
earthenware, in which during the early nineties suffering which caused
paralysis, blindness, and death, was frequent and acute. Speaking as
late as 1898 on the Home Office Vote, and quoting from the official
reports, Sir Charles showed that the cases for the whole country
amounted to between four and five hundred out of the five to six
thousand persons exposed to danger. Under his persistent pressure
Committee after Committee inquired into this question and promulgated
special rules; attention was focussed on the suffering, and this evil,
though still unfortunately existing, abated both in numbers and
acuteness, till at his death the cases had fallen to about a fifth of
those notified in 1898.

His standpoint was one which raised industrial matters out of the arena
of party fight, and on both sides of the House he found willing

Help came not from the House of Commons alone. Lord James of Hereford,
Lord Beauchamp, Lord Milner, lent their aid on different occasions, and
Lord Lytton paid generous tribute to one "who was always ready to place
his vast knowledge and experience, his energy and industry, at the
service of any cause which has for its object the social well-being of
the people of this country."

In Sir Charles's crowded day, the early luncheon at half-past twelve
which allowed time for talk before the House met was often set aside for
interviews. During the meal itself conversation for the greater part
ranged wide, but towards the end he would turn to his guest with a
demand for information on the point at issue, or, if his advice were
needed, with an appeal for questions. The mass of information which he
elicited was due to the simplicity of his talk with all who came to him.
"He asked me my views as if I were of his own standing," said the young
secretary of the Anti-Sweating League after his first interview.

[Footnote: Apart from these scattered conversations, Sir Charles met the
united representatives of trade-unionism once a year at the opening of
Parliament, for then the Trade-Union Congress Parliamentary Committee
lunched with him and talked over Labour questions at the House of
Commons. This custom, which began in 1880 and lasted through Mr.
Broadhurst's secretaryship, was resumed in 1898, and was continued to
the end, and the meeting was fruitful of results. "These annual
conversations," says Mr. Davis, "had much more to do with the policy of
the legislative Labour party than could be understood by the party as a

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