HotFreeBooks.com
The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke V1
by Stephen Gwynn
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

'On March 26th we learnt our majority on the power to close debate was far from certain, and that on Sir John Lubbock's amendment we very probably should be beaten. Mr. Gladstone began to wish to bow before the storm, but Chamberlain and others were for holding to our proposals at all risks.

'On March 31st there was a Cabinet, at which Mr. Gladstone, thinking with the Whips that we should be beaten on the Closure, again wished to give way. It was decided to make no fresh declaration of standing or falling by our rule.'

The question of Procedure remained till the Autumn Session, a constant embarrassment to the Government. But a difficulty, personal to Sir Charles, and affecting the Government only through him, arose on the Civil List.

'On this day (March 31st) the Queen wrote to Lord Granville to complain of my having walked out on the division on the annuity to Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and Sir Henry Ponsonby also wrote. I refused to give any further explanation, and on April 1st Lord Granville wrote:

'"HOLMBURY, DORKING.

'"MY DEAR DILKE,—I thought Chamberlain had voted in the majority. The Queen appears to me to have a prima facie right to complain of any of her servants refusing to support a Government measure which she and the administration think necessary for her comfort and position. But if you stated to the Prime Minister on taking office that you did not intend to vote for these grants, your responsibility ceases. Resignation is not in question either with the Queen, yourself, or Gladstone. The thing to consider is how to put the matter best in answer to Ponsonby's letter. I do not mind the bother in the least.

'"Yours sincerely,

'"Granville."'

A reply from Sir Charles explained to Lord Granville why Mr. Chamberlain's name had come in. Although he had voted for the grant

"neither he nor I would ever be likely to let the other resign alone. Our relations are so close that I should resign with him if he were to resign because he thought Forster did not have his hair cut sufficiently often."

This explanation was promptly endorsed by Mr. Chamberlain.

'Chamberlain wrote on April 2nd two letters, one for me and one for me to show to Lord Granville.... In the latter he said:

'"I am very sorry to hear that any notice has been taken of the absentees in the vote for Prince Leopold's grant. Considering the strong views held on this subject by the Radical party in the country, I think their representatives in the Government made great sacrifices in order to maintain unity of action as far as possible. You and Fawcett and Trevelyan have on previous occasions, both by speech and vote, and on strictly constitutional grounds, opposed these grants, and you could not have supported the present one without loss of self- respect and of public reputation. For myself, I agree in your opposition, but having never taken any public part in reference to the question, and having never voted against the grant itself, I felt myself free to yield my opinion to that of the majority, and to vote with the rest of my colleagues in the Cabinet. In your case such a course was impossible, having regard to the prominence which, through no fault or desire of your own, has been given to your past action in the matter, and which has made you in some sort the chief Parliamentary representative of objections which are widely felt to the present mode of providing for members of the Royal Family. When the Government was formed I mentioned this point to Mr. Gladstone, and told him you could not vote for any grant of the kind. He asked me if I was equally pledged, and I replied that this was not the case. Mr. Gladstone then said that, of course, a divergence of opinion in a member of the Cabinet would be more serious than in a Minister outside the Cabinet, and I took it for granted that under the circumstances you, at least, would not be expected to vote at all. I assume that although the subject has now been referred to, there is not the slightest intention or suggestion from any quarter that you should resign on such a matter. If there were, I have not the least hesitation in saying that I should make common cause with you; and I cannot conceive that any Radical would consent to hold office in a Government which had expelled one of its most popular members, and one of the few representatives of the most numerous section of the Liberal party, for such a cause. But I cannot believe in the possibility of any such intention. If I did I might end with Lord Hartington's celebrated postscript, and 'Thank God we should soon be out of this d—d Government.'

'"Yours ever,

'"J. Chamberlain."

'I received further letters about the matter from Lord Granville, who ultimately replied on April 4th that "Gladstone does not admit your contention." But he said, "The case is not likely to arise again for some time.... In the meantime he approves my writing to the Queen off my own bat," and this was done accordingly, the letter not being shown to me, so that I do not know what was in it. But the whole matter came up again in the autumn, when it was proposed to put me in the Cabinet.'

Sir Charles wished on public grounds to get rid of questions as to these grants, the recurrence of which must always lead to trouble, and to do this by settling them on a principle. But also he was desirous to forward the wishes of the Prince of Wales, and in the month of May he devised a method for meeting the difficulty, which might be proposed by the Prince himself.

'On Friday Mr. Gladstone talked for an hour to me about the Royal Grants question, and the conversation was satisfactory on both sides, for he told the Cabinet yesterday that it had been satisfactory to him. In the course of it he said that many years ago a memorandum on the provision for the younger branches of the Royal Family had been agreed upon by the Cabinet, and shown to the chiefs of the Opposition. He added that this was a course perhaps not so wise as would have been the appointment of a Select Committee of the House of Commons. I at once told him that the consideration of the subject, which had not been discussed by the Civil List Committee at the beginning of the reign, by a later Select Committee, would in my opinion have prevented all but most unreasonable opposition to the various grants. There are many years to spare, and I only write because the matter is fresh in my mind.... My suggestion is that when provision is proposed for the establishment of the eldest son of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, for whom a liberal provision would be made without reasonable opposition, as he is in the direct line of succession, it should (at the same time) be stated by the Government of the day that the question of the extent of the provision for the younger children of the Prince and Princess of Wales should be, on the motion of the Government, considered by a Select Committee. On that Committee all shades of opinion ought in prudence to be represented, and to it as much information be given as is given to the Civil List Committee at the beginning of the reign. Its decisions would be respected by all who value Parliamentary methods, and much unseemly wrangling would be prevented for many years. The fate of this plan, however prudent it may be, would be certain if it came from anyone except His Royal Highness himself or the Prime Minister of the day.'

Sir Charles embodied this suggestion in a letter to Mr. Knollys of May 9th. The proposal was agreed to in principle by Mr. Gladstone's Government in 1885, and it was adopted later on.

'On May 3rd I had heard from Knollys that the Prince, who had frequently been restive about not getting Foreign Office information, which Lord Granville would not allow him to have for fear he should let it out, had made Knollys write to Sir Henry Ponsonby to ask him to beg the Queen to direct Lord Granville to send the Prince the confidential telegrams.... On the 7th Knollys sent me Sir Henry Ponsonby's "not very satisfactory reply," and a copy of his answer.'

In the reply Mr. Knollys pointed out that the Prince was under the impression that the Queen would have wished him to know as much of what was going on as possible. The question whether telegrams were to be shown to the Prince depended entirely on Her Majesty, as Lord Granville would not be likely to raise difficulties in the matter if the Prince put his wishes before him. The fact that the private secretaries of Cabinet Ministers had Cabinet keys, and therefore had access to all confidential documents, was quoted as showing the curious position of the Prince.

The Queen persisted in her objection, and Sir Charles supplied the lack of official access to the papers by keeping the Prince privately informed from day to day in critical moments. He spent the first Sunday in February of this year at Sandringham,

'where the company was chiefly sporting, even the clergyman who performed the service being the famous "Jack" Russell, eighty-seven years of age, known in Devonshire as "the hunting parson"....

'On March 21st the Prince of Wales invited me to go with him to see the Channel Tunnel works, and to bring the map of Central Asia, and to explain to him the matters that we were discussing with the Russians. But I was unable or unwilling to go—probably unwilling because of overwork, and dislike to commit myself to the Channel Tunnel project. I was one of those who thought that the Channel Tunnel was far less important in a commercial sense than was generally believed, and, on the other hand, I feared that the creation of it might lead to panic....'

Later: 'I converted the Prince of Wales to oppose the Channel Tunnel.'

The one matter which, Sir Charles notes, still caused serious friction between himself and his Chief came up in this Session. On February 12th

'I was still fighting about Borneo and about a Garter Mission to the King of Saxony, which I thought a waste of public money, and I was in a difficulty with the Cabinet as to Errington's mission—of the details of which I was not kept informed.

'Wolff, who evidently had been told something by Errington himself, gave notice of a question to ask Hartington whether communications had taken place with the Papal See as to prelates in India, and Lord Granville directed me to answer that no such communications had been made by Her Majesty's Government. As, however, I thought that communications had been made by Errington, I felt that this would be a virtual lie, and wrote to Hartington to ask him. Hartington then took the answer upon himself, and in his reply to me he said that there had been some discussions on a closely connected matter, but not exactly on that mentioned in the question, and that nothing had been done by him in the matter. Who, then, instructed Errington?... The Errington mission led for a moment to strained relations between Lord Granville and myself, and one of my letters he said was evidently intended to be "wholesome in Lent." "The tone of it is hardly that of two members of the same Government, more particularly when they are excellent friends."'

Sir Charles apologized frankly and cordially for the tone of his certainly peremptory letter, but

'I had to stick to my text....

'It was evidently monstrous that I should be made to answer questions about negotiations of which I knew nothing, thus leading the House of Commons to believe that I was in some sense responsible to them for what passed, when as a matter of fact I was not informed, except privately, and in strict confidence, by Errington himself. One result of the concealment as to the whole Errington business was that Mr. Gladstone on one occasion gave an answer in the House of Commons which was untrue, although he did not know that it was untrue, and that on another occasion the same thing happened to Courtney, who as Under- Secretary of State for the Colonies denied that a Roman Catholic question affecting the Colonies' (the proposal for a cathedral at Gibraltar) 'had been discussed, when Errington himself told me that it had. The Colonial Office did not know.'

Later:

'There never was a more discreditable piece of business than the whole of this Errington matter. Errington himself is an excellent fellow. I have not a word to say against him. It is the Government and not Errington that must be blamed.

'At this time I received a pamphlet from Auberon Herbert on the title- page of which he had drawn a picture of Gladstone in the fiery pit beckoning me, and I, winged and crowned as an archangel, falling from heaven to him, with the inscription: "Lapsus e coelo; or how C.D. accepted an invitation."'

II.

Notwithstanding his attention to domestic politics, Sir Charles was first and foremost the representative of the Foreign Office, and during the spring of 1882 he was ceaselessly concerned in the negotiations which were in progress between the Russian Government and the British India Office, over which Lord Hartington then presided.

'I had received from the India Office on January 6th a private communication suggesting arrangement with Russia as to the delimitation of the new Russo-Persian frontier. The India Office were inclined to hand over Merv nominally to Persia, regardless of the fact that the Russians would not consent to any proposal of the kind. I wrote to Lord Granville on the 9th, "I must say I don't like it at all," and he answered: "It appears to me that some of the permanent Jingoes in the I.0. want to establish that they are always pressing the F.O. to do spirited things, and constantly thwarted. I rather agree with you that it is better to do nothing than to do that which is not really effective, but Hartington is very anxious not to be altogether quiet.—G."

'On January 17th I had the first of a series of important interviews with Brett, Hartington's secretary, with regard to Central Asian affairs. He gave up Merv, and in return I agreed with him that the Foreign Office should propose to the India Office to ask Russia to define the Persian frontier by an English-Russian-Persian Commission, and the Afghan frontier by an English-Russian-Afghan Commission. Lord Granville was unfavourable, Lord Hartington favourable to this view, which after a great number of meetings at the Foreign Office prevailed, the Russians ultimately accepting the Afghan delimitation, a matter to which I shall have to return. The policy to which I have always adhered was on this occasion stated in a paper which we drew up—a secret "Memorandum on the question of the undefined frontiers between Persia, Afghanistan, and Russia"—in words which, referring to the probability that without an agreement Russia would establish herself at Herat, went on:

'"Peace might be maintained for a time, but it would always be a precarious peace, for the direct influence of Russia, backed by her show of military force, would in time overawe the Afghans, and give her a preponderance of which we should feel the effects, either in the necessity for costly defensive preparations and a large increase of the garrison of India, or in the danger to the tranquillity and permanence of our rule.... Secure on a strong line, flanked at one end by Balkh and at the other by Herat, covered towards Kabul by a zone of friendly Hazara tribes ... and connected by rail and steam with her bases in the Caucasus and on the Volga, she could afford to laugh at threats from India, and might deal at leisure with Afghan tribes and leaders."'

Two later jottings on the manuscript follow:

'"This is still true in 1906."

'"In 1908 I approved the main lines of an agreement with Russia."

'On February 20th (1882) a conference took place between Lord Granville, Lord Hartington, Tenterden, and myself as to Central Asia. Hartington wanted to pay Persia to hold the Turcoman oasis—a most monstrous proposition.

'On the next day, the 21st, a telegram was written to go to India, which was so drawn by Hartington as to make the Foreign Office approve his absurd Merv scheme. I got it altered, and Merv left out, and guarding words put in.

'On February 22nd the Russian Ambassador promised Lord Granville that we should be allowed to carry out my idea of a joint commission for the Afghan frontier.

'On March 10th there was a meeting between Lord Hartington and Lord Granville and myself as to Central Asia.'

Lord Ripon wrote from Simla on May 15th to condemn Lord Hartington's policy of

'"trying to interpose Persia as a buffer between Russia and the Afghans.... I do not believe either in the strength or in the good faith of Persia," said Lord Ripon. "...I am afraid that the India Office have by no means got rid of the notions which were afloat in Salisbury's time." On the other hand, Lord Ripon was in favour of a treaty with the Afghans, to which I was opposed except in the form of a mere frontier delimitation.'

The India Office, however, never caused Dilke so many heart-burnings as sprang from his concern with those African and Australasian matters on which the Foreign Office was obliged to secure co-operation from the Colonial Office.

'On January 13th, in addition to further trouble about Borneo, a new controversy sprang up between me and the Colonial Office. It was, I think, on January 6th, 1882, that I received from Mr. Gladstone the letter which began: "Cameroon River, West Africa. Mr. Gladstone. Dear Sir, We both your servants have meet this afternoon to write to you these few lines of writing, trusting it may find you in a good state of life, as it leaves us at present. As we heard here that you are the chief man in the House of Commons, so we write to you to tell you that we want to be under Her Majesty's control." It ended: "Please to send us an answer as quick as you can. With kind regards, we are, dear sir, your obedient servants, King Bell and King Akua."

'Lord Kimberley had absolutely refused; but I, holding that this spot was after all the best on the West Coast of Africa, and the only one where a health station could be established, urged acceptance, without being able to get my own way. Lord Granville wrote concerning Lord Kimberley' (not without a retrospective glance at his own Under-Secretary): '"Perhaps he fears Cameroon cold water too much in consequence of the scalding water from Borneo." Being entirely unable to get my way, I proposed that the letter of the Kings should be "made official," and sent to Lord Granville; that he should officially invite the opinion of the Colonial Office on it, and that if the Colonial Office wrote a despatch against it we should refuse, but not refuse without the Colonial Office opinion being on official record. The offer of the cession of the Cameroons having been renewed later, and I having again most strongly urged acceptance, a consul was sent to the country to investigate the matter, when the Germans suddenly interfered; snapped it up, and made it a new colony. Kimberley was entirely responsible, as I had persuaded Lord Granville to agree with me.'

III.

Among the passages which carry on the Parliamentary narrative come sundry jottings and observations. Those for the first session of 1882 concern themselves mainly with two names—Bismarck and Gambetta.

'On January 14th I heard from Germany that the Crown Prince had suddenly broken away from Bismarck on the issue of the last rescript, and that he had sent his secretary to the Liberal leaders to tell them that he had first heard of the rescript when he read it in the paper. Writing to Grant Duff, I added that the Crown Prince "swears that nothing will induce him to employ Bismarck when he ascends the throne." This was but a passing feeling caused by Bismarck's attacks on the Princess.'

"Herbert Bismarck is coming to see me in Paris at his father's wish....

"18th.—He is confined to his bed in London; I am to see him there instead of here."

'On January 20th Herbert Bismarck dined with me—a man to whom I took a liking. I had not seen much of him before this date, but from this time forward we had continual meetings—a man of far stronger ability than that for which the public gives him credit. He had a special aversion to being called "Herbert," and insisted on being called the Count of Bismarck-Schoenhausen.

'On Sunday, January 22nd, I dined with the German Councillor of Embassy... and met again Count Bismarck. I wrote in my diary on this day: "Bismarck is a chip of the old block: not a bad sort of brute, with a great deal of humour of a rough kind. He saw through ——, an Austrian, who is a toad-eater, in a moment, and stopped a pompous story of his about ——. As soon as we were told by the narrator, with a proper British shake of the head, that he 'drank,' Bismarck shouted at the top of his voice: 'Well, that is one point in his favour.' ——, disconcerted, went on and said: 'He fell from the landing and was killed.' 'Ah,' cried Bismarck, 'what a wretched constitution he must have had!'" In an aside to me Bismarck violently attacked Papists, and broke out against the Confessional in the tone of Newdegate, or of Whalley, or of General Grant. To the whole table he stoutly maintained that it was right that no Jew should be admitted into the Prussian Guards or into clubs. One man at table said: "But you had a Jew in the Guards"; to which Bismarck replied: "We precious soon hunted him out." The man hunted out was the son of Prince Bismarck's banker, the Rothschilds' agent, British Consul at Berlin, and Bismarck's confidential adviser at the time of the treaty of Versailles. I added in my diary of young Bismarck: "He is only 'sham' mad."

'On March 29th I received a letter from Crowe [Footnote: Of Sir Joseph Crowe, British Commercial Attache, Sir Charles says:

"Joseph Archer Crowe had been known to me as Daily News correspondent in Paris when I was six years old in 1849, and when my grandfather was managing the Daily News. Many years afterwards I got to know of a Crowe, a great authority on Italian Painters, but I had not the least idea that this Crowe was the same person as the other Crowe. When I entered the Foreign Office I became aware of the diplomatic and consular work that had been done by J. A. Crowe, but I was not aware of his identity with either of the others till we sat together on the Royal Commission. After ceasing to be a young painter in Paris, Crowe became Illustrated London News correspondent in the Crimea, and then accepted an art appointment in India. He was at Bombay during the Mutiny. Subsequently he went through the Franco- Italian campaign of 1859 as the war-correspondent of the Times, being present at the battle of Solferino. He was appointed in 1860 Consul-General for Saxony. Few men wrote four languages so well, and while I never heard him speak German I'm told that it was as good as his English, and his French was as good as either."] from Berlin, saying that the Chancellor was weak in health and prophesying ultimate war. In sending it to Lord Granville, I wrote: "I obstinately refuse to believe that the Russian Emperor will go to his destruction at the behest of his revolutionists." And Lord Granville wrote back: "I agree. Herbert Bismarck confirms the account of his father's weakness. Cannot walk eighty yards without sitting down."'

In France, the greatest of French statesmen had been turned out of office on January 26th. [Footnote: The Gambetta Ministry fell by a vote on Scrutin de Liste on January 26th. The Freycinet Ministry succeeded to office on January 31st. On January 31st, 1882, Sir Charles wrote to Mr. Frank Hill: "No member of the new French Government is taken from the majority that overthrew Gambetta. All who are deputies voted in the Minority. All who are senators would have so voted."] But already people were saying that Gambetta must be President, and that by 1886, the date of the next Presidential election, he would have recovered all his popularity—or lost it for ever. 'The alternative of death,' says Dilke, 'had not occurred to them; yet it was death, coupled with popularity, that came.'

The friends had not met since Gambetta's fall, but

'Gambetta found time to write and thank me for my speech, as well as for what I had said to him about his fall. He again promised a visit to London in one of these letters.'

"PARIS, "Le 31 Janvier, 1882.

"MON CHER AMI,

"Je vous remercie de votre bonne et forte parole. Elle me plait par- dessus tout venant de vous, qui etes bon juge en fait de dignite et d'autorite politique.

"Je ne regrette en partant qu'une seule chose—de n'avoir pu terminer le traite. Mais j'ai grand espoir d'avoir porte les choses assez loin pour empecher les successeurs de reculer.

"Quand vous reverrai-je? Je compte bien que ce sera e Londres, qui sera toujours en beau quand vous y serez.

"Bien cordialement,

"LEON GAMBETTA."

'But the visit was destined never to take place,' though for years it had been continually talked of between them. About August, 1876, when it was almost settled, Sir Charles had noted:

'Gambetta never came to England in his life but once (about 1869), and that was on a curious mission, considering what the future was to bring forth; for he came under the Empire as the representative of the Republicans to enter into consultation with the Orleans Princes for the overthrow of Louis Napoleon. This interview would no doubt be denied if mentioned by many of Gambetta's friends, but he told me of it himself.'

On April 16th, 1882, Sir Charles, on his way back from spending the Easter recess at Toulon, breakfasted with Gambetta, who told his friend 'that he was "unique among fallen Ministers, for others, once fallen, are forgiven," whereas he was "worse hated and more attacked than when in power."'

He was none the less witty. There was talk of reforms in Russia—reforms that had been suddenly obliterated by the murder of the reforming Tsar. "What did Russia want with a 'Parlement'?" (Gambetta asked). "She has two Generals who provide her with it. Skobelef, Parle; et Ignatief, Ment."

'On the 21st January, 1882, Alfred de Rothschild came to see me to tell me that Bontoux had been to "Alphonse" [Footnote: The head of the Paris house.] to ask him to help the Union Generale, which had been a Catholic alliance against the Jews, and was now on its last legs. On the next day Alphonse de Rothschild decided that he would not, as was indeed to be expected, unless he had very strong, purely financial, reasons the other way. He ultimately helped enough to save the brokers, but not enough to save Bontoux or the rest. I found that, ever since the Battle of Waterloo, the Rothschilds in London and in Paris have been in the habit of writing to one another long letters every day, and from time to time I saw these letters from Alphonse when they bore upon political affairs.'

Sir Charles was not impressed by the political insight of those documents, which seemed to him 'extraordinarily uninteresting,' expressing old- fashioned Conservative ideas, though 'the Rothschilds all think they are Liberals.'

The jottings end with a definition of diplomacy:

'On the 24th January, 1882, I dined at the French Embassy, where Baron Solvyns, the Belgian Minister, amused me with the saying that diplomacy meant "to pass one's life a expliquer les choses sans les comprendre."' [Footnote: Adapted from Beaumarchais, who thus describes "la politique" in 'Le Mariage de Figaro,' Act III., Scene ii.]



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE PHOENIX PARK MURDERS

I.

Ireland and Egypt fill the most important places in the history of 1882. That was the year, in Ireland, of the Kilmainham Treaty, the resignation of Mr. Forster, and the Phoenix Park murders; in Egypt, of the riots in Alexandria, followed by the bombardment, which caused Mr. Bright's resignation, and the battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

They had their roots far back in preceding years. But the abrupt development of the trouble in Egypt was due to an accident; that of the Irish question was of no sudden or casual growth. The Parliamentary difficulty as to procedure of the House was only part of Parnell's deliberate design to paralyze legislature and executive alike. [Footnote: Sir Charles notes: 'In 1890, when I wrote out these diaries, I showed them to Chamberlain, and gave him a copy of some part, notably that relating to the Kilmainham Treaty and that relating to Egypt (1882). His remembrance of events agreed with the notes made by me at the time.']

Government, for the moment, was trying to suppress Parnell and his associates. The Irish leader himself had been in gaol since October 12th, 1881; Mr. Dillon, Mr. Sexton, Mr. Davitt, and many hundreds of lesser men, had been imprisoned without sentence or form of trial. Sir Charles Dilke, whom nobody believed to be an adviser of coercion, experienced as a member of the Government manifestations of Irish displeasure.

'On January 31st I addressed my constituents. The Irish attacked the meeting, and one East-Ender came at my private secretary with a chair, howling Mr. Bright's phrase: "Force is no remedy!" As a very violent breach of the peace had been committed, the police came in and cleared the room, and after that our people came back again, and I was able to make my speech quietly.... Congratulations upon my speech on all hands were warm, especially those of Chamberlain and Lord Granville. Chamberlain had written to me before the meeting to recommend a free resort to "chuckers-out," and on my informing him of the use made of Bright's maxim, he amused himself by communicating it to Bright, who was only grim upon the subject.'

Irish discontent could count on sympathy and support from the rulers of America. On March 31st, 1882, the Memoir notes: 'It was settled to tell the Americans that those suspects who would leave the United Kingdom and engage not to return might go.'

'On April 20th I had to point out to Lord Granville the fact that the Irish had shown on the previous day that they had got hold of the condition which we had attempted to make with the Americans as to the liberation of American suspects, a condition which the Americans had indignantly refused.'

All these things affected public opinion in Great Britain. At this moment the Radical wing was demanding a change of policy in Ireland, while Mr. Forster was pressing hard for renewal of the Coercion Act, which, having been passed in 1881 for a year only, was now expiring. The Radicals won, and the change of policy was inaugurated by the so-called Kilmainham Treaty.

'At this moment' (April, 1882) 'Parnell was let out of prison, at Mr. Gladstone's wish, to go to Paris to attend a funeral, but he was away from prison, also at Mr. Gladstone's wish, unnecessarily long, and, staying in London with Captain and Mrs. O'Shea, was seen by Chamberlain at the wish of Mr. Gladstone (expressed on April 20th), with the view that Chamberlain should offer him leave of absence from prison with the view of concocting some arrangement (for his release and for the pacification of Ireland) between him and the Government. On the 21st Chamberlain and I met and decided that we would resign if it was proposed to renew the Coercion Act, or the power of arbitrary arrest in its then naked form.

'On April 22nd, 1882, Chamberlain obtained from the Cabinet, by a majority, Mr. Gladstone being strongly with him, his own way in the Irish Question, with full leave to enter into negotiations with Parnell through O'Shea, but to be disavowed if he failed. Mr. Gladstone reported the Cabinet of the 22nd to the Queen, stating that the decision of the Cabinet was to the effect that it was wise "to strengthen the law in Ireland." This was one way of putting it. What the Cabinet really decided on April 22nd was to let out Parnell and his friends, and to drop arbitrary arrest, although they did decide to have a new Coercion Bill on minor points, to which Coercion Bill Parnell himself was favourable. The statement that Parnell was favourable would be denied, but O'Shea showed me a draft Bill, which was, so he said, in Parnell's writing. I knew the hand, and it seemed to be so.

'On April 25th Chamberlain reported to the Cabinet the result of his interviews. Lord Cowper had already resigned the Lord-Lieutenancy, but Forster's resignation (for some reason which I have never understood) was kept back for a little. It is a curious fact that the Duchess of Manchester told me in the middle of March that Lord Spencer was to succeed Lord Cowper; but the first the Cabinet heard of it was on April 25th.

'On April 26th, Parnell having returned to gaol, leave was given to Captain O'Shea to go and see him at Kilmainham with full powers, but nothing in writing. On the same day a letter, which was sent me by Chamberlain, after Forster had seen it and sent it on to him, shows that Forster was still acting, or at all events being treated by Mr. Gladstone as though he was going forward with his policy. But on the 28th Chamberlain told me that Forster would resign. In my diary I say: "The Chancellor and Lord Kimberley may go with him. In this case the Irish Secretaryship would be offered to Shaw" (member for Limerick, Mr. Butt's successor as leader of the moderate Home Rulers), "but he would refuse because he could not get his county to return him. Then it must come either to Chamberlain or to myself. I said I should wish in this event that he should take it and I succeed him at the Board of Trade. He said that my appointment would make less row than his. I admitted this, but said that his would be the best for the public service. Besides, my opinion in favour of Home Rule would form a grave difficulty in my way." It will be seen that it never occurred for a moment to either Chamberlain or myself that the Irish Secretaryship would be offered without a seat in the Cabinet; but we counted without remembering Mr. Gladstone's affection for Lord Spencer.... It will also be seen that I did not count Chamberlain as being a Home Ruler like myself.

'On the 29th Forster told Harcourt at the banquet of the Royal Academy that he should resign "if it is decided to let out the men." It is necessary to be careful about one's history of this moment, for no authorities are to be trusted. My diary was written at the time from information chiefly supplied by Chamberlain, and Chamberlain has since seen and agreed to this record (1906). On Sunday, April 30th, the Observer gave an account of what had passed at a Cabinet of the previous day; but no such Cabinet was held, and on May 1st the Times also gave an account of what passed at "Saturday's Cabinet"!

'On May 1st I saw Chamberlain before the Cabinet. Parnell had written to Justin McCarthy to promise that if let out he was ready to advise payment of rent and cessation of outrages, but McCarthy would not allow the letters to be made public. Forster insisted that he should give a public promise. I suggested to Chamberlain that to call on Parnell to give a public promise was to recognize Parnell as the Government of Ireland. Chamberlain agreed to argue that the promise should be a private one so far as Parnell was concerned, but that the Government should state that such a promise had been made. After the Cabinet Chamberlain told me that at the Cabinet of the next day Forster would resign; but he thought that the Chancellor, who was restive about the remedial legislation proposed in the shape of an Arrears Bill, would "go" too. I fancy the Chancellor had promised to resign, but he didn't.'

This reference to Lord Selborne is supplemented by the Memoir for 1893, where Sir Charles has a detached note:

'Our former Chancellor at eighty-two is "not less" prosy in the Lords than he used to be, for he was always "slow." When W. E. Forster resigned in 1882, Lord Granville left the Cabinet room to go down to tell the Queen. Then, and then only, Lord Selborne said: "But I agree with him, and must resign also." "It is too late," said Harcourt, "it would not now be respectful to the Queen as Granville has started." So the Chancellor did not resign.'

The Memoir continues: 'On May 3rd Chamberlain, who had decided to take the Irish Secretaryship if offered to him, was astonished at having received no offer. At 11.30 p.m. on the same day, the 3rd, I found that the appointment had been offered to and declined by Hartington; but the offer to, and acceptance by, his brother, Lord Frederick Cavendish, came as a complete surprise both to me and to Chamberlain.

'In the night between May 4th and 5th the Queen telegraphed to Harcourt: "I can scarcely believe that Davitt, one of the most dangerous traitors, has been released without my having been consulted, as I was in the case of the three members." The fact was that Harcourt had so impressed upon the Queen the wickedness of Davitt, at the time when he withdrew Davitt's ticket-of-leave, that it was rather difficult for him to explain to the Queen his very sudden change of front.

'On the 5th I had an interview with Mr. Gladstone as to royal grants. I carefully abstained from giving any pledge as to future action, and at the Cabinet of the 8th' (after Lord Frederick Cavendish's murder), 'when the question of my being offered the Chief Secretaryship with the Cabinet came up, Mr. Gladstone stated to the Cabinet that I remained unpledged.

'On May 6th I heard from Brett and from the Duchess of Manchester that Hartington had proposed me in the Cabinet for Chief Secretary, with a seat in the Cabinet, and that both Mr. Gladstone and Lord Granville had said: "Dilke won't do." The Duchess asked me what this meant, and I said that it was the Queen's objection on account of the Leopold grant, which it was; but Mr. Gladstone was glad to give Spencer his own way without a Chief Secretary in the Cabinet.'

At half-past six that afternoon, May 6th, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke, the permanent Under-Secretary, were murdered in the Phoenix Park, within sight of the Viceregal Lodge.

'On the night of May 6th the scene at the party at the Admiralty was most dramatic. Mrs. Gladstone had come there from a dinner party at the Austrian Embassy, not knowing of the murder, while everybody else in the room knew. At last she was sent for suddenly to Downing Street to be told, and went away under the impression that the Queen had been shot, for she was assured that it was very dreadful, but "nothing about Mr. Gladstone."

'Early on Sunday morning, the 7th, Parnell came to see me with Justin McCarthy. He was white and apparently terror-stricken. He thought the blow was aimed at him, and that if people kept their heads, and the new policy prevailed, he himself would be the next victim of the secret societies. [Footnote: In the letters of Justin McCarthy to Mrs. Campbell Praed (Our Book of Memoirs, p. 97) there is an account of what happened in London on that Sunday. There was a gathering of Irish leaders at Parnell's rooms.

"Then Parnell and I talked together, and we thought the best thing for us—we two—was to go and consult some of our English friends. We started out, and went first to see Sir Charles Dilke. Our impression was that either Dilke or Chamberlain would be asked to take the post of Irish Secretary. Indeed, the general impression was that either one man or the other would have been asked at the time when Lord Frederick Cavendish was appointed.... We saw Dilke. He was perfectly composed and cool. He said that if Gladstone offered him the post of Irish Secretary, nothing that had happened lately would in the least deter him from accepting it....

"He went on to say that he was a Home Ruler quand meme; that he would be inclined to press Home Rule on the Irish people, even if they were not wholly inclined for it, because he so fully believed in the principle, whereas Chamberlain would only give Home Rule if the Irish people refused to accept anything less. But on the other hand, Chamberlain was an optimist in the matter, and thought he could do great good as Irish Secretary; and he (Dilke) was not so certain, seeing the difficulty of dealing with the Castle and the permanent officials, and therefore they agreed that as far as they were concerned it was better Chamberlain should go.

"He said, 'If Chamberlain goes, he'll go to smash things'—meaning the Dublin Castle system.

"Then we went to Chamberlain and had a long talk with him. We found him perfectly willing to go to Ireland, but he said he must have his own way there and he would either make or mar—by which we understood the Castle system...."]

'On this day, May 8th, I noted that I thought it most unlikely that Mr. Gladstone would send Chamberlain to Ireland, inasmuch as to do so would be to admit that he had been wrong in not sending him in the previous week. To Grant Duff I sent the reason for Mr. G.'s decision: "Spencer wishes the policy to be his policy, and does not want his Chief Secretary in the Cabinet." At three o'clock Chamberlain sent a note across to me from the Cabinet: "Prepare for an offer." I was somewhat surprised at this, because Chamberlain knew that I would not take it without the Cabinet, and that I would take it with the Cabinet, whereas his note seemed to imply a doubt. At four he came across himself, and the first difference that had ever occurred between us took place, because although he knew that I would not accept, he urged acceptance of the post without the Cabinet. He argued that it carried with it the Privy Council, that it established great personal claims upon the party, and that it afforded a means of getting over the difficulty with the Queen. I declined, however, without hesitation and with some anger. It was obvious that I could not consent to be "a mere mouthpiece." Mr. Gladstone and Lord Carlingford then sent back to say, personally from each of them, that I was to be present at the Cabinet at every discussion of Irish affairs; and I then asked: "Why, then, should I not be in the Cabinet?" Carlingford came back to the Foreign Office again and again, and cried over it to me; and Lord Granville came in twice, and threatened me with loss of prestige by my refusal, by which I certainly felt that I had lost Mr. Gladstone's confidence. I was angry with Chamberlain at having placed me in this position.... Had he acted on this occasion with the steadiness with which he acted on every other, he would have told the Cabinet that the offer would be an insult, because he knew that this was my view. The ground on which the refusal of the Cabinet was put to me was the impossibility of having both myself and Spencer in the Cabinet. Lord Granville came in finally, and said in his sweetest manner (which is a very disagreeable one) that he had vast experience, and had "never known a man stand on his extreme rights and gain by it." This I felt to be a monstrous perversion of the case, and I was glad on the morning of the 9th to find that my reasons were very fairly stated in the Standard, the Telegraph, and the Daily News. Chamberlain had seen Escott of the Standard, and Lawson of the Telegraph, and I had seen Hill of the Daily News.

'That the Cabinet position towards me was dishonest is shown by the fact that they had given Lord Spencer Cowper's place when they had still reason to suppose that Forster was going to continue in the Irish Secretaryship and in the Cabinet, and had afterwards asked Hartington to take the Chief Secretaryship.

'An honourable (I trust) defence of myself is in a letter in the possession of Grant Duff under date "May 5th, closed on 11th."

The letter to Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, which has separate brief jottings on May 5th, 6th, and 7th, has so far been reproduced almost textually from Sir Charles's Memoir. The rest runs as follows:

"8th.—Mr. Gladstone is determined not to send Chamberlain to Ireland, and does not want a Chief Secretary in the Cabinet, and to send Chamberlain and so have a Chief Secretary in the Cabinet would be to admit that the decision of last week was wrong. I, of course, refused to go. I should have had to defend any policy that Spencer chose to adopt without having a voice in it. Acceptance would not have been only a personal mistake; it would have been a political blunder. Outside the Cabinet I should not have had the public confidence, and rightly so, because I could not have had a strong hand. I should have inherited accumulated blunders, and I was under no kind of obligation to do so, for I have never touched the Irish Question. Never have I spoken of it from first to last. Many of the measures rendered necessary by the situation are condemned by my whole past attitude; but they have really been made inevitable by blunders for which I had no responsibility and which I should not have been allowed to condemn.

"Yours ever,"

"CHS. W. D."

"Closed on 11th."

He wrote also this month in a letter to Mrs. Pattison:

"In a matter of this sort it is essential to have the look of the thing in view, when a question of personal courage is involved. Of course, I know that I have personal courage, but the public can only judge from the look of things. The reason why Chamberlain even doubted if I ought not after the murder to go—though I was not to have gone before it—lay in the doubt as to how the public would take the look of it. It has turned out right, but it might have turned out wrong. If the public had gone the other way, I should have said I ought to have taken it, and resigned."

But, as Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff pointed out when replying to the letter of May 11th, in the state of things then existing in Ireland a Minister could hardly have resigned without the gravest embarrassment to the Government, and he cordially approved Sir Charles's refusal: "You could not have accepted the Secretaryship without a seat in the Cabinet." That refusal was also approved and understood by the heir to the Throne:

'On the 8th the Prince of Wales wrote to me through Knollys to ask me as to the Chief Secretaryship, and on my informing him how matters stood, replied: "If you had accepted the post without a seat in the Cabinet, your position, especially at the present moment, would be a very unsatisfactory one. If the policy, whatever it is, prove a success, I doubt whether you would have obtained much credit for it; and if it turned out a failure, you may be quite sure that a great deal of the blame would fall upon you without your having been responsible for the initiation of the steps that were adopted."'

The Phoenix Park murders having immediately followed the appointment of Lord Frederick Cavendish, those who had always pressed for further powers of police now asserted themselves with vehemence. Sir William Harcourt spoke strongly on Ireland and the necessity for coercion in the House of Commons. Mr. Gladstone, in whom the Radicals had always found a mainstay against these tendencies, was broken in spirit and suddenly aged. All relations in the Cabinet were jarred and embittered, as the successive entries in this Memoir show:

'In the night between May 11th and 12th the Irish, although angry at Harcourt's coercion speech, sent O'Shea to Chamberlain at 3 a.m. with the olive-branch again.

'On May 13th Mr. Gladstone again stated privately that he intended to give up the Exchequer on account of his advancing years.

'On this day the Cabinet unanimously decided to give an extradition treaty to Russia—to my mind a most foolish proposal.

'On Monday, May 15th, Mr. Gladstone sent Chamberlain to O'Shea to see if Parnell could be got to support the new Coercion Bill with some changes. When Harcourt heard of this, which was done behind his back, he was furious, and went so far as to tell me: "When I resign I shall not become a discontented Right Honourable on a back bench, but shall go abroad for some months, and when I come back rat boldly to the other side." This reminds me of Randolph Churchill on Lord Derby, "A man may rat once, but not rat and re-rat."

'On Tuesday, May 16th, Mr. Gladstone wrote, on Chamberlain's suggestion, to Harcourt to try to smooth him over, and proposed a Cabinet on the matter for the next day, Wednesday, May 17th, at which Harcourt declared that if any change was made in the principle of his Coercion Bill he would resign; but then nobody knew what was the principle of the Bill. At this Cabinet Harcourt ... told the Cabinet that the Kilmainham Treaty would not be popular when the public discovered that it had been negotiated by Captain O'Shea, "the husband of Parnell's mistress." He informed the Cabinet that ... after this it would hardly "do for the public" "for us to use O'Shea as a negotiator." I wrote to Grant Duff on this day (closed 18th) as to Parnell's relations to Mrs. O'Shea as disclosed in Cabinet.

'On Friday, May 19th, Lord Derby said to me: "You were right to refuse the Chief Secretaryship; still Mr. Gladstone must say to himself: 'Surely I am about to die, for I am not obeyed.'" On Monday, the 22nd, Mr. Gladstone was very strongly in favour of accepting Parnell's privately suggested amendments to the new Coercion Bill, obtained through O'Shea, but Hartington going with Harcourt against touching the Bill, Mr. Gladstone got no support except from Chamberlain.

'On May 25th Chamberlain was anxious to resign on account of Harcourt's position as to coercion; but the fit passed off again.

'On June 5th I noted in my diary that I heard that Goschen was soon to be asked to become Chancellor of the Exchequer.

'On the 9th Lord Granville told me that the hatred of Mr. Gladstone for Goschen was such that he had point blank refused to make him Chancellor of the Exchequer; but this proved to be untrue, for an offer was as a fact made to him, although perhaps very privately.

'At this time I received a letter from Lord Ripon in India as to the Kilmainham Treaty, in which he said that he was convinced that Forster's policy had completely broken down, and went on: "But between ourselves is not the Government still ... on a wrong track in its coercive measures? I do not like the suspension of trial by jury.... Again, if Reuter is right, it is proposed to take a power to expel dangerous foreigners. I am too much of a Foxite to like an Alien Bill, and, besides, if you are not very careful, the expulsion of foreigners will land you in a very disagreeable state of relations with the United States." These, I noted, were exactly the arguments which Chamberlain was using against Harcourt without avail.'

II.

On June 11th Mr. Chamberlain wrote that the Cabinet had decided on some important changes in the Prevention of Crimes Bill, and that things looked better.

But on that day the Alexandria riots took place, and opinion was sharply divided as to the measures which should be taken. Here Sir Charles Dilke, and with him Mr. Chamberlain, were strongly for forcible action, while Mr. Bright, who in the matter of Ireland had come round towards the side of coercion, opposed the use of force in Egypt. On July 5th there was a stormy meeting of the Cabinet, which two days later had its echo in public.

'Mr. Gladstone, mixing Ireland and Egypt together, broke out in the House of Commons on July 7th, and afterwards privately told his colleagues that he intended to resign!'

The occasion of this outbreak was a debate on the Prevention of Crimes Bill, which the Tories were seeking to render more drastic. The Prime Minister declared with emphasis that if coercive powers which he did not seek were to be thrust upon him, he must "consider his personal position." The words were at once in debate construed as a threat of retirement, and there was a critical position in the Cabinet.

'Bright would follow Mr. Gladstone; and Chamberlain and I decided that if this were so, although we were against him about Egypt, which would be one of the causes of his resignation, we must go with him all the same and refuse to join the new administration. Although I concurred in this view, after discussion, it was not mine. On this occasion I thought it was our duty to stay. But after discussion, as I have stated, I came round to Chamberlain's view so far as this—that we decided that we would not join the new Government if Mr. Gladstone were outside it in the House of Commons; although the case might be different if he quitted political life or went to the Lords, and if we were satisfied with the new bill of fare.

'At this moment Chamberlain and I were anxious to get Courtney into the Cabinet, and Mr. Gladstone having asked us, after Playfair's worst mess, if we thought Courtney would take the place of Chairman of Ways and Means, we told him that we thought he would only if it was understood that it was not to lessen his chances of obtaining Cabinet office. [Footnote: Sir Lyon Playfair, Chairman of Committees, had suspended eighteen Irish members on July 1st.]

'When the House met at nine o'clock [Footnote: This means after the dinner interval, for which at this time the House used to adjourn.] on Friday, July 7th, I sounded Trevelyan' (then Chief Secretary for Ireland) 'as to his course, and found him most anxious to stop in at all hazards. I then saw Childers, who had walked home with Hartington at seven. He said that he had urged Hartington not to form a weak Whig Administration, and had told him that if Chamberlain would stay he, Childers, would go on, but that he thought that to go on without Chamberlain would be fatal, and that it would be far better to let the Tories come in, and help them through with Egypt, and then make them go to their constituents. At ten o'clock Grosvenor came and told me that he thought that Mr. Gladstone would stay on. Chamberlain, who still thought that Mr. Gladstone would resign, told Hartington that in the event of the formation of a new Liberal Ministry he should insist that Goschen should not be put in, and that the vacancies should be filled up by myself, Courtney, and Trevelyan. At midnight the storm had blown over.'

A Bill to prevent eviction for arrears of excessive rents had been demanded by the Nationalist party as a necessary amendment to the Land Act of 1881, and it had been introduced by the Government, and was carried through pari passu with the new measure of coercion. It was furiously opposed by the high Tories, and a new crisis seemed imminent.

'On Monday, July 10th, it again seemed probable that Mr. Gladstone would resign. The intention of the Lords to throw out the Arrears Bill, at Lord Salisbury's dictation, was loudly proclaimed, and it was said by Mr. Gladstone's friends that Mr. Gladstone would at once resign, and that if Lord Salisbury refused to form a Government, Mr. Gladstone would retire from public life. Chamberlain was determined then to insist with either Lord Granville or Lord Hartington for myself, Courtney, and Trevelyan, on the ground that a Liberal Government with a Whig Prime Minister must be Radical.'

It was the apprehension of such an increase of power to the Radicals that made the threat of Mr. Gladstone's resignation formidable both to Whigs and Tories.

Mr. Gladstone, however, did not resign, though Mr. Bright did, after the bombardment of Alexandria had taken place. On the contrary, by July 12th,

'so belligerent was the Prime Minister that he had now decided, in face of the prospect of Lord Salisbury throwing out the Arrears Bill, unless Lord Waterford on behalf of the Irish landlords begged him not to do so, to prorogue, have another Session a week after, and pass the Bill again.'

This quarrel between the Houses remained open till August 8th, when Lord Salisbury, under pressure from the Irish landlords, was forced to content himself with acquiescence under angry protest. But in the meanwhile the Government were in other difficulties. After the bombardment of Alexandria it was still necessary to deal with the rebellion against the Khedive, whose authority England was seeking to support; and the Tories, allied with a section of the peace party, offered strong resistance to any military expedition.

'On Wednesday, August 2nd, I had a conversation with Mr. Gladstone, who agreed in my view that if beaten we should force the county franchise, and dissolve only if the Lords would carry that. It began to look as if we should sit till Christmas.

'On Monday, August 7th, I had an interesting talk with Brett. Knowing his great influence with Hartington, I complained to him of his chief's folly in always acting as the leader of a Whig section instead of as deputy-leader of the whole party. Brett agreed that it was foolish in the particular case of franchise, "as he must give in at last." I replied: "But he has given in already, and gone back again." Brett answered: "He declares he never voted for it." This is a curious example of Hartington's complete detachment from politics and want of interest in them, for he had not only voted, but had made a long, strong, and elaborate speech, explaining his reasons for so doing, and then absolutely forgotten the whole thing, and thought that he was still committed to opposition. At the Cabinet of the 5th he had declared against a Franchise Bill.'

When the Session ended on August 27th the question of Sir Charles Dilke's personal position came up. Neither his refusal of the Chief Secretaryship nor his attitude of opposition to Mr. Gladstone's own wishes as to Egypt had in the least impaired his standing, and promotion was felt to be his due. The old difficulties, however, were still in the way, and Sir Charles refused to buy his way into the Cabinet by a sham recantation. The matter accordingly stood over, as appears from this entry:

'At this moment there were fresh discussions as to my saying something to the Queen to get over her difficulty about receiving me into the Cabinet. Lord Granville, in congratulating me upon the way in which I had done the Foreign Office work, said that Mr. Gladstone had been unable to say anything to the Queen because I had hot given him enough upon which to go. Mr. Gladstone then wrote to me a long letter in favour of my making some statement to my constituents, but he went on to admit in writing what he had previously admitted in conversation— namely, that a Committee' (to inquire into the Civil List) 'would be wise. Therefore I at once insisted that I should have the distinct promise of this Committee before I said anything. Mr. Gladstone's letter came very near a promise, as he said that when any new set of cases came forward the question of a Committee would naturally come up, and would, he hoped, be favourably entertained. I again called in Chamberlain, and acting with him, declined to make any statement, as I had in no way changed my opinion, but I pressed the appointment of the Committee, or at least the promise of one. Mr. Gladstone again promised to communicate with the Queen.'



CHAPTER XXIX

EGYPT JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER, 1882

I.

At the beginning of 1881 the form of government which Europe had set up in Egypt was but young. Tewfik, the Khedive chosen by the French and British Governments to replace Ismail, had occupied his position for less than two years. Riaz Pasha, head of the Ministry after the fall of his predecessor Nubar, [Footnote: There is a note of October 13th, 1880: 'I saw Nubar Pasha about Egypt, and I had received an extremely able long letter from Rivers Wilson asking me to interfere to restore Nubar to power, but I did not as a fact discuss Egypt with the French.'] had brought about a mutiny of officers early in 1879, and was carrying on public affairs with difficulty. He had been forced to sacrifice his War Minister to the second mutiny (of February, 1881) which followed on the arrest and secured the release of Arabi. In the spring of the year the smouldering discontent of the army was fanned into flame by the advance of the French to Tunis.

'On May 12th' (1881—the very date on which the French Expeditionary Force constrained the Bey of Tunis to accept French suzerainty) 'steps were taken on behalf of Lord Hartington, Lord Granville, and myself to see whether, now that France had knocked another bit out of the bottom of the Ottoman Empire by her attack on Tunis, we ought to try to get any compensation in Egypt for ourselves. Hartington was to consult the India Office upon the question, and I wrote to Sir Edward Hertslet, asking him to consider how we stood with reference to the despatch of troops through Egypt in the event of (1) a rising in India, (2) an invasion of India by Russia.'

On July 28th, 1881, there took place at the Foreign Office the first meeting of a Committee 'to consider the affairs of Egypt, consisting of Tenterden, myself, Pauncefote, Malet, Scott the Judge, young Maine, and Reilly.' Sir Charles Rivers Wilson, who had been Finance Minister under Ismail, was called in from time to time.

'My own endeavours on this Committee were directed against increasing internationally in Egypt, as I thought the Governments of England and France would be driven sooner or later to occupy the country with a joint force, and that internationality (which would mean German influence) would then be a great difficulty in the way.'

The need for intervention soon grew urgent. On September 9th, 1881, a large body of troops, headed by Arabi, threatened the Khedive's palace, demanding the dismissal of all the Ministers, the convocation of a parliament, and a great increase of the army. Again the mutiny succeeded, and this time, in Sir Edward Malet's words, "it was more than a mutiny, it was a revolution." Riaz Pasha was replaced by Cherif, but all real power was in the hands of the soldiery.

The question now came to be, Who should step in to establish order? The Sultan of Turkey, who saw a chance of making his nominal suzerainty real, proposed to despatch troops, but confined himself to sending envoys. As a counter-demonstration, France and England each sent a warship to Alexandria; and Gambetta's accession to power in November meant a great reinforcement to the policy of joint intervention.

Sir Charles was then in Paris engaged in the commercial negotiations already described, and he chronicled in his diary a sporting suggestion:

"September 19th, 1881.—After the seventeenth sitting of the Treaty Joint Commission I had an interview with Delia Sala, the Italian who is an Egyptian General, and governs the Soudan. He is a great fencer, and has killed his man before now. He declares himself willing to put down insubordination in the Egyptian Army by calling out three of the Colonels in succession. A more practical but hardly less bold suggestion of his is that he should be allowed to increase his anti- slavery regiment of 600 men, and then to use it as a bodyguard for Malet instead of the putting down of slavery."

'On December 27th, 1881, Lord Granville asked me by letter to discuss with Gambetta all the possible alternatives, and especially joint occupation (to which Lord Granville saw objection), and a Turkish intervention under the control of England and France (to which French opinion was opposed): "The more you can get out of Gambetta without committing us the more grateful we shall be." I have no recollection of having discussed Egypt with Gambetta.'

Shortly afterwards

'Malet wrote from Cairo to Paris, telling me that he still had confidence in the moderation of the progressist party represented by Arabi and the Colonels, and that he was managing them through Wilfrid Blunt, who was acting as a go-between; but a little later on the relations between Blunt and Malet became such as to show that each had thought he was using the other as a tool.'

"Moderation" is an ambiguous term. When the Chamber of Notables met at the end of December, 1881, the army put forward through the Minister for War a demand for an increase of 18,000 men. This increase the European controllers refused to sanction, on the ground that the country could not afford it. Thus came to pass a conflict between the national movement and the joint European control upon an issue which united the interests of the military party with the aspirations of the parliamentarian Nationalists for the power of the purse. Gambetta, however, was now dominant in France, and Gambetta had no tolerance for the pretensions of what he called a "sham assembly." A Joint Note, dated January 6th, 1882, was issued by the two Powers, in which England and France declared their intention to "guard by their united efforts against all cause of complication, internal or external, which might menace the order of things established in Egypt." Another phrase in the Note attributed the exchange of views between the Powers to "recent circumstances, especially the meeting of the Chamber of Notables convoked by the Khedive," and this was naturally construed by Nationalists to mean that parliamentary institutions were internal causes of complication.

The issue of this Note is one of the marking-points of modern Egyptian history. It asserted the determination of the joint Powers to make their will obeyed in Egypt, by force if necessary. According to general admission, its issue was due to the overmastering influence of Gambetta. Dilke, whom everyone knew to be Gambetta's intimate, was in France almost continuously from the time when Gambetta became Prime Minister on November 10th, 1881, till the eve of the issue of the Joint Note. In 1878, while in Opposition, he had publicly advocated a policy of annexation in Egypt, and it was inevitable that critics should fasten upon him a special responsibility for the course pursued.

Yet, as the Memoir makes clear, in 'this weighty affair' Dilke had virtually no voice. He was not in the Cabinet, and he was absent from Paris for nearly the whole of December, taking a holiday in Provence from commercial negotiations. Only on his return, on December 27th, did he receive Lord Granville's letter—which was dated December 21st—asking him to discuss with Gambetta the possible alternatives. But although the two men met repeatedly between December 27th and January 2nd, when Dilke left Paris, Gambetta refrained from discussing Egypt. The Memoir says, under date January 7th, 1882:

'The Cabinet had before it the state of affairs in Egypt, and resolved upon agreeing on Gambetta's policy of a Joint Note on the part of England and of France in support of the Khedive against the revolutionary party. Mr. Ashmead Bartlett, misled by the dates of interviews, has asserted from that time to this (1890) that the Joint Note was arranged in Paris between Gambetta and myself. I have repeatedly denied that statement, for curiously enough it so happens that the Joint Note was the only important matter relating to Foreign Affairs which happened while I was at the Foreign Office in which I was not consulted. Gambetta never broached the subject with me, and I knew nothing of it until it was done. As we talked a little about Egypt, I suppose that he had reasons for not wishing to speak of the Joint Note to me, but I do not know what they were.'

II.

Sir Charles Dilke's policy for Egypt differed from that of his chief, who always inclined to leave Turkey to undertake the necessary coercion, under the surveillance of England and France. Dilke, with Gambetta, desired joint intervention. [Footnote: Lord Cromer wrote to Sir Charles Dilke asking him about a letter of M. Joseph Reinach's of July 28th, 1909, in which the latter spoke of his doubts as to the complete sincerity of the English Government at the time of the Gambetta Ministry. At that moment Dilke, in whose company he had breakfasted at Gambetta's with MM. Rouvier, Spuller, and other guests, did not, in spite of his great friendship for Gambetta, believe in the duration of his Ministry, any more than the English Government did. M. Reinach thought that Sir Charles Dilke's Diary would throw an interesting light on the point as to whether, foreseeing Gambetta's fall, the English Government did not foresee the probability of their sole intervention in Egypt.

Sir Charles's comment was as follows:

"My diary (agreed to by Chamberlain after he had changed the opinions he held at the time described) shows that permanent occupation was not thought consistent with British interests by any who took a leading part in the Cabinet action. I was not in the Cabinet until after Tel- el-Kebir, but, as you know, I was—from the time of the riots at Alexandria—of the 'inner Cabinet' for such purposes. Of course, all men knew that the Gambetta Cabinet was dead before its birth. Hanotaux ... is right on this. But we wanted the Turk to go for us, and, failing the Turk (under our lead), then Italy in place of France, after France backed out....

"There was no moment up to '96—or perhaps '98—when if France had known her mind and meant business she could not have had her way— 'reasonably.'

"Gambetta's policy was dominated by hatred of Russia. 'I will seek my alliances—n'importe ou, meme a Berlin'—meant anywhere except at St. Petersburg.... Say to Reinach that I tell you that I don't mind showing him the governing passages in my diaries if he wants to see them, but that they are dead against him."]

'On January 15th, 1882, I started the idea that England and France should not act as England and France only, but should ask Europe for a mandate, and on the 16th Lord Granville took it up, and wrote to Lord Lyons in its favour on the 17th. I sent to Lord Granville notes of what I proposed to say in a speech on Egypt. I pointed out that I had been one of those who had opposed the creation of the Anglo-French control, but that it was the invention of our predecessors. Lord Derby had created, when Conservative Foreign Secretary, a mild form of control, which had been raised into the sharper form of control by Lord Salisbury, who had refused successively to Germany, to Austria, and to Italy, any share in the control. Lord Salisbury was wholly responsible for it; but, however great its political dangers, from the Egyptian and the economical point of view it had worked well, and, being there, must be maintained, as it was the only thing between us and anarchy. It was due to the controllers that the country had been relieved from arbitrary rule. The co-operation with France deliberately created by Lord Salisbury must be loyally maintained.

'Lord Granville wrote back praising the proposed statement, but suggesting that I should not run down the control so much, and not initiate an attack upon our predecessors. Although I slightly toned down my observations upon this occasion, when we were afterwards attacked on the matter in the House of Commons I more than once said everything that I had proposed to say against the control and our responsibility for its existence.'

'On January 18th Sheffield' (Lord Lyons's secretary) 'came to see me. He said that Gambetta was angry with Malet, as Malet was under the influence of Wilfrid Blunt, which meant that of Arabi Bey. I wrote a minute of our conversation upon this point, and Lord Granville replied: "Gambetta must not drag us into too arbitrary a way of dealing with the Egyptians. He is tres autoritaire." On the 20th Lord Granville received a private letter from Lord Lyons, who would not hear of the mandatories of Europe plan for Egypt, which, however, Mr. Gladstone had approved. It was from Lord Lyons's reply that I discovered that Lord Granville had given the credit of the scheme to Malet. I had never heard Malet mention any such idea; but on the next day, January 21st, Malet did telegraph the plan, and I could not help wondering who had sent it to him.

'On the 26th Lord Granville informed me that at the Cabinet of the previous day my Egyptian "Mandatories" proposal had been considered, and had been opposed by Lord Kimberley, but had received pretty general support.'

On January 26th an event happened which destroyed the chances of joint intervention. Gambetta fell. The policy of joint intervention in support of any menace to the established order in Egypt, to which both Powers were committed by the Joint Note of January 6th, now passed into the hands of Lord Granville and of M. de Freycinet, concerning whom Sir Charles wrote on March 9th, 1882:

'I noted that Freycinet had begun his official career by doing what he had done when in office before—namely, asking Bismarck's consent to every act. He was so anxious to stop the Turks from going to Egypt that he was willing at this moment to agree even to Italian intervention in the name of Europe; and he was personally anxious for reconciliation with Italy.'

Meanwhile in Egypt there had been a new ministerial crisis. Cherif Pasha was deposed from the Presidency of the Council, and Arabi was made the Minister for War. The control, according to Sir Edward Malet, "existed only in name." In the provinces there was anarchy. Either the order of things established in Egypt must disappear, or intervention in some shape was inevitable.

'On February 1st there was a Cabinet upon the Egyptian Question. Lord Granville wrote to me before it met to say that the Cabinet had complained that we had not told them anything about Egypt, to which he had replied that they had received the telegrams if they had not read them.... At this day's Cabinet Hartington alone was in favour of Anglo-French intervention, and he fell out with Lord Granville over it, and they were on bad terms for some time. Some of the Cabinet wanted English intervention, and some wanted Anglo-French-Turkish intervention....

'On March 4th there was a Cabinet, at which Hartington made a great fight against all his colleagues, who were unanimous against him upon the question of Anglo-French intervention in Egypt.

'On March 20th the new French Ambassador Tissot came. I had previously known him when he was the Agent of the Government of National Defence inhabiting the London Embassy, virtually as Ambassador but without a staff. On this occasion he immediately startled us out of our senses by proposing that we should depose the Khedive and set up Prince Halim. He had converted Freycinet to this madcap view.'

Halim, the heir by Mohammedan law, was Arabi's candidate for sovereignty. During Sir Charles's visit to France in the middle of April this suggestion became fully official, as he learnt on returning.

'France had proposed to us to depose the Khedive and set up Halim, and we had refused on the ground of breach of faith. On April 20th the Cabinet decided absolutely and unanimously against any suggestion with regard to Halim.'

Since the policy of united intervention in the name of Europe, to which Sir Charles had sought to fix the Powers, had no longer any support in France, and since the French proposal of a new Khedive had been rejected, the plan of Turkish intervention which Lord Granville had always preferred, as being the least bad, was now formally put forward.

'On April 23rd Lord Granville invented a plan of sending three Generals to Egypt, because the French had told him that we had refused their plan without having one of our own. The idea was that a Turkish General should go with full powers, and accompanied by a French and an English General, the full powers not to be used by the Turk unless his French and English colleagues should agree.

'On Friday, May 12th, I noted in my diary that the French had suddenly "caved in" to us about Egypt, and declared that a Turkish intervention at the request of England and France would not be Turkish intervention; and on Saturday, May 13th, I found Lord Granville ten years younger than on the 12th in consequence. But the French afterwards not only got out of this, but pretended that they had never done anything of the kind.'

The decision to call in Turkey was not publicly announced, and the situation at Cairo grew daily more threatening. Sir Edward Malet telegraphed that a fanatical feeling against foreigners was being sedulously fostered. The Governments then, says Lord Cromer, "authorized their Consuls-General to take whatever steps they considered possible to insure the departure from Egypt of Arabi and his principal partisans, and the nomination of Cherif Pasha to be President of the Council." [Footnote: Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, vol. i., chap, xv., p. 273.] Acting on this instruction, Sir Edward Malet and his French colleague, on May 25th, 1882, handed in an official Note to the President of the Council, which demanded, first, the temporary withdrawal of Arabi from Egypt, and, secondly, the resignation of the Ministry. On May 26th the Egyptian Ministry resigned. Thereupon the French Government decided that the need for Turkish intervention had passed.

'Late on Tuesday afternoon, May 23rd, Lord Granville was in such a hurry to adjourn the House of Lords, and bolt out of town for Whitsuntide, that he let the French send off our Identic Note to the Powers in a form in which it would do much harm, although this was afterwards slightly altered. On the next day, Wednesday, the 24th, Mr. Gladstone brought Lord Granville up to town again, and stopped his going to the Derby, and at 1.30 p.m. they decided to call for immediate Turkish intervention in Egypt. The necessity for it had been caused by the childish folly of the French in trying to conceal the fact that they had proposed in writing to us, through Tissot on the 12th, to send six ships to Alexandria, and that if in addition troops must be employed on shore, they should be Turkish. The agreement between England and France was useless unless it was to be known, but if known, would have prevented the need for intervention. The most foolish course possible was that adopted by the French in first agreeing, and then concealing. On May 24th, at night, we proposed to the French to call in the Turks at once, and Freycinet went to bed to avoid answering.

'On Friday, the 26th, Tissot wrote to Lord Granville, "M. de Freycinet telegraphs to me that he is better, and will call the Cabinet together for to-morrow to submit to it your proposal"; and on Saturday, May 27th, accordingly, the French completely sold us, and we once more realized the fact that they are not pleasant people to go tiger- hunting with.'

He quotes from his diary of the moment the comment:

'"The French tried to throw us (and themselves) over as to Turkish intervention. I wanted to say so in the House. Lord Granville agreed."'

'On May 30th I strongly urged that we should tell the truth and say so, and a Cabinet was called for the next day, and on the 31st decided that we were not to say so; but Hartington agreed with me, and made himself very disagreeable to Lord Granville and Mr. Gladstone, who held the opposite opinion.'

Sir Charles's entry of the moment was—"Lord G. and Hartington fell out even rather more than usual."

'On June 1st, in the House of Commons, I half said what I meant, but Mr. Gladstone spoilt the whole debate. I noted in my diary: "When Mr. Gladstone begins to talk on foreign affairs it is impossible to tell what he will say—witness his revelations of a cock-and-bull telegram of Malet's to-day as to the immediate proclamation of Prince Halim by Arabi." On the same day, it having been decided on the previous day that we should send ships to Egypt, Tenterden and I sent off a telegram en clair to Lord Lyons about it in order that the French should know what we were doing....

'The Parliamentary difficulties of the Government upon the Egyptian Question at this moment were considerable, as the Opposition were taking with much vigour two inconsistent lines; Wolff and Chaplin violently attacking us upon Jingo grounds because we did not intervene by force in Egypt, and Bourke threatening us at every sign of intervention.'

Meanwhile the Khedive had failed to form another Ministry, and on May 28th Arabi had been reinstated, with the result that his supporters redoubled their confidence and that panic was general among the European residents.

'On June 13th we received full information with regard to the riots which had happened in Alexandria on the 11th' (there being a British and a French fleet there), 'in which several British subjects had been assaulted and our Consul severely beaten. I formed a clear opinion that it was impossible for us not to take active steps in intervention after this, [Footnote: A private letter of this date gives the estimate that "there is an overwhelming public opinion here for very strong measures; that the great majority of the Cabinet share that view; that France is most unpopular; and that Lord Granville, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Bright will apparently bow to the storm."] as we had been acting strictly within our rights along with France and representing joint control. If the French would not go with us in restoring order or allow the Turks to do so, I felt that we must do it for ourselves, but I was clearly of opinion, and have always remained so, that it was undesirable to embark upon a prolonged occupation of Egypt. I thought, and still think, that anarchy could have been put down, and a fairly stable state of things set up, without any necessity for a British occupation. The riots, however, were the cause on my part of a considerable error. I believed on the information furnished me from Alexandria and Cairo that they were the work of the revolutionary leaders in the capital. A long time afterwards I gradually came to think that this had not been so, and that they had been purely local and spontaneous. This does not, however, affect my judgment upon the need for intervention.

'On Wednesday, June 14th ... brought me a telegram from Wilfrid Blunt to Arabi ... "Praise God for victory." This abominable telegram naturally had much to do with exciting the suspicions that I have just mentioned as to Arabi having organized the riots. But I now believe that the English sympathizer was more extreme than the Egyptian revolutionist. In my diaries I wrote: "Our side in the Commons are very Jingo about Egypt. They badly want to kill somebody. They don't know who. Mr. G., who does not like the Stock Exchange, sent 'Egypts' up 3 1/2 per cent. by a word in his speech." [Footnote: Mr. Gladstone on June 14th: "... The ends we have in view ... are well known to consist in the general maintenance of all established rights in Egypt, whether they be those of the Sultan, those of the Khedive, those of the people of Egypt, or those of the foreign bondholders."] At 6.30 in the afternoon there was a Cabinet on Egypt, Chamberlain and Hartington pressing for action, and I being most anxious that action should take place. As there was now to be a conference at Constantinople upon Egyptian affairs, I urged without success that Rivers Wilson should be sent out to assist Lord Dufferin, on account of his incomparable knowledge of Egyptian affairs, Lord Granville refusing on the ground that "there's great jealousy of him among the Egyptian English. He is under the charm of that arch-intriguer Nubar." But we needed Nubar to get us out of our difficulties, and had ultimately to call him in as Prime Minister.

'On June 15th the French Ambassador came to fence at my house at ten, and I reported to Lord Granville: "He volunteered the statement that Freycinet was 'an old woman'; in fact, talked in the sort of way in which Bourke used to talk of Lord Derby in '77-'78."

'In the evening I met Musurus Bey at the French Embassy, and had a conversation with him, which I reported and he afterwards denied, but I don't think much importance was attached to his denial. I need not discuss the matter, as the despatches were laid before Parliament.

'On the next day I wrote to Lord Granville: "The one thing we have to fear is the murder of Malet or of the Khedive. If the Khedive obeys the Sultan and returns to Cairo, it is very difficult to keep Malet at Alexandria. I think we ought to tell the Sultan that we are sorry to hear of the direction given to the Khedive to return to Cairo, and tell the Khedive and Malet that we have said so. Also privately tell the Khedive not to move." This I think was done.

'On June 17th I decided that I would resign if no steps were taken with regard to the Alexandria massacre; but in the evening Lord Granville telegraphed to Lord Ampthill: [Footnote: Lord Odo Russell had become Lord Ampthill, and was still Ambassador at Berlin.] "No. 130 ... it is impossible that the present state of things should be allowed to continue, and if the Sultan is unwilling to do anything, some other means must be found." On the 18th, after much pressure and a threat of resignation from me, Lord Granville telegraphed to Lord Ampthill: "No. 131. Intimate to Prince Bismarck ... that sharing as he does the strong wish of H. M. G. to avoid unnecessary complications, he must feel that, even if H. M. G. did not object, as they do, public opinion would prevent them permanently acquiescing in any arrangements in Egypt, especially after the late massacres at Alexandria, which would destroy not only the prestige of this country, but also of Europe, in the East...."

'The French having, according to Count Hatzfeldt, stated to the Germans, as reported by Lord Ampthill in his No. 214, "that to sanction Turkish intervention in Egypt would be to commit suicide," I proposed that we should direct Lord Ampthill to read to him Tissot's communication of May 12th. in which the French had agreed to the use of Turkish troops. Lord Granville assented. On June 19th Lord Granville repeated, through Lord Ampthill, to Prince Bismarck, "the strong warning contained in my 131 of yesterday." I afterwards found out, however, that at the last moment, on June 17th, Lord Granville had telegraphed withdrawing the word "must" in his No. 130, and substituting the word "should." He afterwards telegraphed again, resubstituting "must," and wrote to me: "I have let the word stand, as Hartington and you attached importance to it, and as it had been already sent." There was great trouble about this change afterwards, for Lord Granville was not exact in saying that he had let the word "stand." What he had done was, as I say, first to withdraw it, and then to resubstitute it upon our strong pressure.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse