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

His unopposed return for Chelsea did not take place till January 8th, 1883. Before this he had been formally admitted to the Privy Council.

'I had left the Foreign Office on December 27th, having been there exactly two years and eight months, and on Thursday, the 28th, I went down to a Council at Osborne to be sworn; and on the 29th addressed the principal meeting held in my constituency with regard to my re- election, and advocated a policy of decentralization in Local Government affairs. I was rather amused at Osborne by the punctiliousness with which, after I had kissed hands on being sworn a member of the Council, the Queen pointed out to the Clerk of the Council that it was necessary for me again to immediately go through precisely the same ceremony on appointment as President of the Local Government Board—a curious point of strict etiquette. I could not but think that the portion of the Privy Councillor's oath which concerns keeping secret matters treated of secretly in Council is more honoured in the breach than in the observance; but when Mr. Gladstone chose, which was not always, he used to maintain the view that the clause is governed by the first part of the oath, so as to make it secret only in respect of the interests of the country and the position of other members of Council. There is nothing in the oath about any limit of time, but it has always been held in practice that a time comes when all political importance has departed from the proceedings of the Council, and when the obligation of secrecy may be held to lapse. There is nothing, however, more delicate than the question of where the line is drawn. Chamberlain was directed by the Cabinet, for example, at the time of the Kilmainham Treaty, to carry on negotiations with Parnell which were absolutely impossible except by a partial revelation of matters discussed secretly in Council; but as the Prime Minister was a party to this, I suppose that the Queen's consent to the removal of the obligation would be in such a case assumed, though it was not in this case real. Another difficulty about the oath is that it in no way provides for the position towards their chiefs of members of the Government not members of the Privy Council.

'It is difficult, therefore, to say that the oath in practice imposes any obligation other than that which any man of honour would feel laid upon him by the ordinary observances of gentlemen.'

Sir Charles was only thirty-nine when he entered the Cabinet, yet the general feeling was that his admission was overdue rather than early, and no one had shown more anxiety for it than the future King.

'During the whole month while my position in the Cabinet was under hot discussion, I saw a great deal of the Prince of Wales, who wished to know from day to day how matters stood, and I was able to form a more accurate opinion both of himself and of the Princess, and of all about them, than I had formed before. The Prince is, of course, in fact, a strong Conservative, and a still stronger Jingo, really agreeing in the Queen's politics, and wanting to take everything everywhere in the world and to keep everything if possible, but a good deal under the influence of the last person who talks to him, so that he would sometimes reflect the Queen and sometimes reflect me or Chamberlain, or some other Liberal who had been shaking his head at him. He has more sense and more usage of the modern world than his mother, whose long retirement has cut her off from that world, but less real brain power. He is very sharp in a way, the Queen not sharp at all; but she carries heavy metal, for her obstinacy constitutes power of a kind. The strongest man in Marlborough House is Holzmann, the Princess's Secretary and the Prince's Librarian. He is a man of character and solidity, but then he is a Continental Liberal, and looks at all English questions as a foreigner! The Princess never talks politics.... It is worth talking seriously to the Prince. One seems to make no impression at the time ... but he does listen all the same, and afterwards, when he is talking to somebody else, brings out everything that you have said.'

Some letters of this date show how strongly the personal friendship of Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Chamberlain had developed during their political alliance.

In September, 1881, Mr. Chamberlain writes that he has been "reading over again a book called Greater Britain, written, I believe, by a young fellow of twenty-five, and a very bright, clever, and instructive book it is." He petitions for a copy "properly inscribed to your devoted friend and admirer, J. C." Sir Charles, in acknowledging this, protested against the word "instructive," and his friend apologized. "But it is instructive for all that. When you next come to Birmingham you shall inscribe my copy.... Let me add that in all my political life the pleasantest and the most satisfactory incident is your friendship."

These expressions were further emphasized by another letter of this date. Sir Charles, hurrying into Mr. Chamberlain's room in the House of Commons, had found him busy and preoccupied, and so followed up his visit with a letter. Mr. Chamberlain replied:

"December 6th.

"I am not sorry to have the opportunity of saying how much I appreciate and how cordially I reciprocate all your kind words.

"The fact is that you are by nature such a reserved fellow that all demonstration of affection is difficult, but you may believe me when I say that I feel it—none the less. I suppose I am reserved myself. The great trouble we have both been through has had a hardening effect in my case, and since then I have never worn my heart on my sleeve.

"But if I were in trouble I should come to you at once—and that is the best proof of friendship and confidence that I know of."

About that same time Lord Granville was writing to Sir Charles on foreign affairs, and diverged into general politics, remarking on the Free Trade speeches then being delivered. "With what ability Chamberlain has been speaking! I doubt whether going on the stump suits the Tory party." To this Sir Charles replied with an enthusiasm rare in his utterances:

"Chamberlain's speech was admirable, I thought. I, as you know, delight in his triumphs more than he does himself. It is absurd that this should be so between politicians, but so it is. Our friendship only grows closer and my admiration for him stronger day by day."



CHAPTER XXXI

AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD

I.

Under the pressure of the excitements of 1882 caused by foreign affairs, business legislation for the needs of the British community had been crushed out, but there was agreement that in the New Year time must be given for Mr. Chamberlain's Bankruptcy Bill to become law; also that the electioneering question of Corrupt Practices should be dealt with. Beyond this immediate programme lay two matters of the first importance—reform of local government in town and in country, and reform of the electorate. In regard to these, the year was chiefly consumed by Government dissensions, partly as to the character of the measures, but principally as to their order of precedence.

As administrator in his new office, Sir Charles turned at once to the position of the civil servants under his control:

'On New Year's Day I had begun to be bothered about what was called my patronage at the Local Government Board, which was considerable. At the Foreign Office I had none at all, and had had the greatest possible difficulty in getting Lord Granville to give a consulate to Henry George Kennedy, who had been my secretary for many years, and who had considerable claims—as he had lost his health in the consular service before he first came to me, and then recovered his health after a serious illness. At the Local Government Board I was my own master, and all the patronage of the office was absolutely at my disposal, and the first post or two that fell vacant I gave to persons suggested by Hartington, James, and other colleagues. But I very soon formed a strong opinion that the patronage of the Local Government Board ought to be used in a different way from that which had prevailed ever since the end of Stansfeld's term of office' (1871- 1874). 'Stansfeld had made excellent use of his patronage, but Sclater-Booth' [Footnote: Mr. George Sclater-Booth, created Lord Basing in 1887.] (1874-1880) 'and Dodson' (1880-1882), 'and even Goschen' (1868-1871), 'had used it less well, and had put in men of the kind that colleagues often force upon one—political partisans or supporters, not always the best men. I talked the matter over, and decided to make the service during my term of office a close service, and to promote men already in the service to all vacancies as they occurred, making inspectors of auditors or clerks, and giving the good auditorships to the best men in the inferior ones. As regarded new appointments to auditorships at the lowest scale, I had a list of men who were working with auditors without pay on the chance of my giving them appointments later on, and I brought in several of this kind on good reports from auditors. Bodley, my Private Secretary, managed the whole of my patronage for me, and did it extremely well, and after I had started the system I was able to leave it absolutely in his hands.'

He notes later on that one of his colleagues was 'furious' with him because he would not do a job for the family solicitor, who was also Parliamentary agent of the colleague's son. A previous President had 'jobbed in a Tory agent,' and the colleague expected that Sir Charles should follow with the Whig agent. 'I refused, as I intended to promote one of our best and worst-paid men.'

An illustration of the same principle is the case of Mr. Walter Sendall:

'It was at this time' (November, 1883) 'that I had taken up, as against Lord Kimberley and Lord Derby, the case of Sendall—an Assistant Secretary in the Local Government Board, who had been previously appointed Governor of Natal, and then withdrawn on account of Natal feeling that he would be too much under the control of Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor of the Cape. There being nothing against Sendall, I thought that we were bound to find him another Governorship, and Horace Seymour, Mr. Gladstone's secretary, was in strong agreement with me. The matter was brought to a point at this moment by the selection of Blake for a Governorship in preference to Sendall. A strong letter from Seymour pointed out that "heaps of deserving men in the Colonial service were passed by to make this appointment, and Sendall, who has a real claim on the Government, is put on one side. In my opinion an appointment of this kind is most mischievous, and I sincerely trust that the Healys and the Biggars will make the most of it, and for once they will have at least my hearty sympathy...." Seymour was Lady Spencer's brother, and he on his side and I on mine made the lives of Lord Derby and Lord Kimberley' (Ministers responsible in regard to the withdrawal) 'so uncomfortable that we finally got Sendall an appointment. Blake turned out a success as a Colonial Governor.'

Mr. H. Preston Thomas, C.B., in his Work and Play of a Government Inspector, written after fifty years' experience of the Civil Service, bears testimony to Sir Charles's work as an administrator, especially by the introduction of the principle of competition:

"It was during the presidency of Sir Charles Dilke that the staff of the Local Government Board was reorganized, and for the first time placed on a more or less satisfactory footing.... A leaven of highly educated men was much wanted in the junior ranks, and this was secured by the reorganization of 1884, when eight clerkships of the Higher Division were thrown open to public competition.... Every one of the successful candidates had graduated in honours at Oxford or Cambridge, while two or three were Fellows of their Colleges. The infusion of new blood acted most beneficially, and the heads of the department were able to delegate to subordinates some of the duties of which the enormous mass had fairly overwhelmed them." [Footnote: P. 195.]

The new President threw himself with energy into the administrative work of his department: the Memoir abounds in references to visits of inspection to workhouse infirmaries, sewage farms, schools, and training- ships. One instance in which he personally intervened was that of Nazareth House at Hammersmith, a Roman Catholic establishment at which there had been an outbreak of typhus. There were reasons which made Sir Charles think, after a visit to the house, that the local Medical Officer had been unjustly severe. Instructions were given as to changes to be made, and a letter of warm gratitude came from Cardinal Manning, April 27th, 1883, who spoke of himself as "disabled and shut up, and therefore doubly grateful." This was endorsed by the action of the Sisters, and Sir Charles's own phrase, 'I have always continued on intimate terms with the Sisters of Nazareth House until this day,' gives but a slight idea of the homage rendered to him and his wife by this community until the end.

When he was standing for re-election in January, his speeches contained strong protests against over-centralization. Even where he was most zealous for reform, Sir Charles bore in mind that local bodies are liable to make mistakes, but that public interest is often best served by allowing such errors to correct themselves. Here is an instance:

'On August 31st, 1883, I inspected Westminster Union Workhouse, in consequence of the serious misconduct of the master, who had been bitterly attacked in the House of Commons, and with regard to whom I had laid down the principle that it was for the Guardians and not for me to dismiss him. This was a test case with regard to centralization. Feeling in the Press was strong against the master, and his acts were entirely indefensible, but he had the support of the majority of his Guardians. I made public my opinion, but did nothing else, and ultimately the Guardians who supported him lost their seats, and the master was removed by the new Board.'

At this time the unravelling of the conspiracy which had led to the Phoenix Park murders and dynamite outrages was causing a panic in London itself. Sir William Harcourt at the Home Office, while he threw himself into the task of fighting these menaces with energy, demanded exemption from less engrossing cares. On March 17th

'he told the Cabinet that he was so overburdened with work that he must hand all the ordinary business over to the Local Government Board.... I noted that Harcourt thought himself a Fouche, and wanted to have the whole police work of the country, and nothing but police. The matter was finally completed during the Easter recess by letter on a scheme drawn up by Hibbert' (Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board), 'who knew both offices. It was even proposed at one moment that a Bill should be brought in to give the Local Government Board for ever the inspections, such as mines, factories, etc., and the Artisans' Dwellings Acts and other matters not connected with Police and Justice; but no legislation took place, as the idea was hotly opposed by the Home Office, and we went on from hand to mouth by a mere personal arrangement between Harcourt and myself. [Footnote: The Diary of this time deals with the Ministry of Agriculture; it was decided to create an Agricultural Vice-President of the Council, so as to separate Agriculture from Education, and to appoint 'Dodson as Vice-President, under Carlingford as Lord President.' 'Some had asked for the creation of a Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, as in France, a wonderful combination.' Sir Charles reported to the Cabinet the fact that a new Ministry had been unanimously agreed to by the House of Commons some years before (though no notice had been taken of the resolution)—a Ministry of Justice.

Sir Charles Dilke was always opposed to the increase of Ministers Ministries. See "Labour," Chapter LII. (Vol. II., pp. 342-367).]

'On Monday, April 2nd, there came up the question of whether Harcourt would himself deal with the matter of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, which was raised by a debate in the House, and which the Home Office insisted on his taking. To their disgust, however, Harcourt would not look at the documents, and sent them all to me in a box for me to deal with.'

Home Office duties, as Sir Charles discovered, are 'highly miscellaneous,' and at the end of May an item in the 'curious mixture of subjects' that he had before him was a letter from the Primate, giving the views of a meeting of Bishops about cemeteries.

The transference of so much business to the Minister of another department was not pleasing to the Home Office permanent officials. When Lord Rosebery resigned in the beginning of June, Sir Charles secured the promotion of Mr. Hibbert, Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, to the Under-Secretaryship of the Home Office; [Footnote: Mr. J. Tomlinson Hibbert, afterwards for many years Chairman of the Lancashire County Council and of the County Councils Association.] and out of several names submitted to him by Mr. Gladstone for Mr. Hibbert's place he selected that of Mr. G. W. E. Russell, who, a short time before this, had published in one of the reviews an article vehemently attacking the Whig tradition. Sir Charles notes that Mr. Russell was congratulated by his kinsman, that great Whig, the Duke of Bedford, as follows:

'After singing Russell's praises, he concluded: "As, my dear George, you have now not only an official but also a literary income, it will, perhaps, no longer be necessary that I should offer to continue to pay your election expenses." This story has been denied, but is true.

'All through the autumn I felt myself in considerable difficulties in dealing with the important questions which Harcourt had handed over to me from the Home Office, but as to which in many cases new departure was evidently needed which I had no authority to take. One such question was factory inspection. The current work was thrown on me, and I had to defend what the factory branch of the Home Office did. On the other hand, although I had the strongest opinion that the Inspectorate should be increased, and women inspectors appointed for factories where women were employed, Harcourt would not agree to this, and kept the patronage in his private secretary's hands, so that I had no real control.'

It was, however, in Sir Charles's power to appoint women inspectors at the Local Government Board, and he did so, thus leading the way in the movement for associating women with public work.

'The same was the case at first with regard to what were known as Cross's Acts, or the larger scheme affecting artisans' dwellings, as to which I had at the end of October some correspondence with Cardinal Manning, who was in Italy. Manning had written, in a letter which I received on November 2nd: "Without a high-handed executive nothing will be done till another generation has been morally destroyed, but construction must keep pace with destruction. Some of my parishes are so crowded owing to destruction without construction as to reproduce the same mischiefs in new places. You know I am no narrow politician, but I am impatient at political conflicts while these social plagues are destroying our people."

'The matter was brought to a head on the next day by the receipt of a letter from Mr. Gladstone sending me a letter from the Queen on the dwellings of the people, with copy of what he had said in reply. The letter was:

'"BALMORAL CASTLE, '"October 30th, '83.

'"The Queen has been much distressed by all she has heard and read lately of the deplorable condition of the homes of the poor in our great towns.... The Queen will be glad to hear Mr. Gladstone's opinion ... and to learn whether the Government contemplate the introduction of any measures, or propose to take any steps to obtain more precise information as to the true state of affairs in these overcrowded, unhealthy, and squalid bodies. She cannot but think that there are questions of less importance than these which are under discussion, and which might wait till one involving the very existence of thousands, nay, millions, had been fully considered by the Government."

'Mr. Gladstone, in reply, said: "Mr. Gladstone will not fail to communicate with Sir Charles Dilke ... on the subject of your Majesty's letter. He himself does not doubt that improvements in local government which he trusts are near at hand will lead to a sensible progress...."

'In consequence of this communication from the Queen, I decided to examine all the worst parts of London for myself, and on November 9th I wrote to Lyulph Stanley and to Miss Maude Stanley and others for a list of what they considered the worst places in London, "as we want to test our administrative powers under the present law. As we have to show that the Local Authority have 'made default,' it would be best to take cases as to which the Medical Officers have reported to the Vestry in the past, and nothing has been done." During the remainder of the year I met all the Medical Officers of London with the District Surveyors of the parishes, each man in his own district, and visited with them all those places on which they had reported without success; and, making my own notes, I picked out the very worst cases, and when I was certain that I was on firm ground took occasion to mention them in public.'

After some discussion, in which Mr. Gladstone and also Harcourt and Chamberlain were consulted, it was agreed that Dilke should do what he pleased in the name either of the Home Office or Local Government Board 'as to fighting Vestries about the dwellings of the poor.' At this moment, near the end of November, several delicate diplomatic questions were in hand, upon which, as a member of the Cabinet, Sir Charles was now taking a leading part. Accordingly Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, who thoroughly understood Local Government problems, took charge of the work on the detail of the Local Government Bill:

'It might be said that Fitzmaurice was doing my work and I was doing his. Although I was visiting St. Giles and the courts about the Strand, the worst streets near Judd Street (St. Pancras), Lisson Grove, and other curious places in Marylebone, Lord Salisbury's Courts in the neighbourhood of St. Martin's Lane, and the worst slums of St. George the Martyr, Newington, St. Saviour's, and St. George's in the East, yet as regarded the preparation of the details of my Bill I turned the matter over to Fitzmaurice....'

Sir Charles's main interest of these months was making up the case against those responsible for bad housing, and he fixed responsibility on some who showed themselves honourably sensitive:

'About this time I received a very strong and detailed anonymous letter calling my attention to the condition of the Northampton tenants in Clerkenwell, and I sent it to Lord William Compton— afterwards Lord Compton, and later Lord Northampton—who was serving as a clerk in the Turkish Department of the Foreign Office. At my request he went down to Clerkenwell and looked into the matter for himself, and found the state of things so horrible that he warmly took up the question, and I then took him down to Clerkenwell again. I found Clerkenwell to be my strongest case, as it was the only parish in which the local authority was entirely in the house-farmers' hands, and from this time forward I put it in a prominent place in all my speeches.'

Before departing, on December 20th, for Toulon,

'I had a correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury (Benson) with regard to the condition of the property in London of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which I thought a disgrace to the Church. He only asked me to send him the facts, which I did, pointing out that the district "in the Borough" at the meeting of St. Saviour's, Bermondsey, Newington, and St. George the Martyr, was in a shameful state.'

The outcome of these inquiries was the appointment of the Royal Commission on Housing. The subject afforded safe ground on which to meet the Queen when he first went down as a guest to Windsor, and it was supplemented by another matter, on which much correspondence had passed between him and Sir Henry Ponsonby—that of certain cement works near West Cowes, the smoke from which killed the Queen's shrubs at Osborne.

'On Tuesday, November 27th, I dined and slept at Windsor, and the Queen talked artisans' dwellings and Osborne chemical works. Ponsonby I thought very able and very pleasant. I suppose I had Dizzy's rooms, because there was not only a statue of him, but also a framed photograph, in the sitting-room, while in the bedroom there was a recent statue of the Empress Eugenie. The Queen was, of course, very courteous, but she was more bright and pleasant than I had expected. The Duke and Duchess of Albany were at Windsor, and I had her next me at dinner. Lorne was also there, and after the Queen had gone to bed the Duke and Lorne showed me all the curiosities, having had the whole of the galleries lighted. We sat up very late. Loene is serious- minded ... through his real attempt to understand his work, and would do most things well....'

In this year Sir Charles opposed the scheme of "assisted emigration" under which was offered to the world the amazing spectacle of a Government paying its own subjects to quit its shores and its flag. Irish peasants, half starved, clad in garments promiscuously flung out from the slop-shop, often quite unfit to make their way in a strange country, were induced by the offer of a free passage (without even inspection to see that they were decently accommodated on board) to pour in thousands out of a country whose rulers had no better thing to offer them than this cynical quittance in full. Sir Charles 'violently opposed the scheme' in one of his first Cabinets (May 5th), and again on July 25th tried to abolish it, but 'only succeeded in getting a promise that the second year of it should be the last.'

At the beginning of 1883 his brother Ashton was very ill at Algiers, and on February 17th the manager of his paper, the Weekly Dispatch, brought to Sloane Street a communication in Ashton Dilke's own hand, which contained, amongst other directions to be carried out after his death, the actual paragraph by which it was to be announced. When the end came, on March 12th, 1883, it meant 'a serious breaking with the past. William Dilke alone was left to me, if, indeed, at eighty-eight one could speak of a man as left.' This old grand-uncle, with his military memories of Waterloo days, whom Sir Charles Dilke yearly visited at Chichester, and who often stayed at Sloane Street, was also at this moment very ill, and supposed to be dying; but he recovered, and lived on for more than two years. In April Sir Charles ordered from Mr. W. E. F. Britten, the painter, whom Leighton had commended to him, a portrait of his brother, which 'proved very good,' and which hung always in 76, Sloane Street.

He clung to family ties, and later in the year paid a visit to distant kindred, the heads of the Dilke family:

'On Saturday, August 25th, I went to Maxstoke, and returned on Monday, the 27th. There dined on the Saturday night Lord and Lady Norton and their eldest son, Charles Adderley. The old man said a very true thing to me about the place. "What a good castle this is, and how lucky that it has always been inhabited by people too poor to spoil it!" From the Commonwealth times, when Peter Wentworth plundered the Dilke of his day for delinquency after the two years during which Fairfax had held the Castle, they have never had money, and no attempt was ever made to rebuild the interior house after the two fires by which two-thirds of it were successively destroyed. They are, owing to Mrs. Dilke having a little money, a little more prosperous just now, and there is a larger herd of deer than usual; on this occasion I counted over one hundred from the walls.'

The loss of his only brother had been preceded by a 'heavy blow.' That "great and illustrious friend" for whom, in the early seventies, Sir Charles prophesied that, in spite of the opposition of French aristocracy and clericalism, he would govern France, had passed away on the last day of 1882. Gambetta was dead.

On New Year's Day, 1883, Sir Charles, speaking to the electors of Chelsea, dwelt on the qualities of "the greatest of all Frenchmen of his time"— "the magnitude of his courage, his tremendous energy, his splendid oratory, and, for those who knew him in private, his unmatched gaiety and sparkling wit."

Among those who wrote to him was Mr. Gladstone, condoling on a death "you will much feel." To one friend who wrote of Gambetta's "moral power," he replied: "It seems difficult to speak of 'moral' power about Gambetta. His kind of power was almost purely physical; it was a power of courage, energy, and oratory." During his visit to Paris in January, 1883, 'my first visit after Gambetta's death,' he and Lord Lyons 'talked chiefly about Gambetta.'

Later, turning—with the detachment of judgment which characterized his attitude to public life—from his private friendship to his estimate of the needs of France, he left this estimate of Gambetta and the Republic:

'Much as I loved his society, I did not think him a loss to the Republic, for he was too dictatorial and too little inclined to let other men do important work to suit that form of government, except, indeed, in time of war. It is quite true that his was the only strong personality of which France could boast, and it was possible that, so long as he was there, the people would not be likely in a panic to hunt in other camps for a saviour: but great as was his power— physical power, power of courage and of oratory—and terrible as was the hole in France made by his death, nevertheless the smaller men were perhaps more able to conduct the Republic to prosperity and to general acceptance by the people.'

II.

The governing fact of English politics at this moment was the general expectation of Mr. Gladstone's retirement. Since Lord Hartington would undoubtedly succeed him, the Radical wing, led by Dilke and Chamberlain, was doubly eager to commit the Government in advance to Radical measures. Each of the two main subjects contemplated had two subdivisions. Reform of the electorate included extension of the franchise, to which the Radicals attached most importance, and to which Lord Hartington was sullenly opposed; it also included redistribution of seats. Reform of local government included, first, proposals for a new system of county government; [Footnote: These had taken some shape, and Dilke found a draft of them in his office when he succeeded to it; but Mr. Chamberlain agreed with him in thinking it "a poor thing which I should not like to father."] secondly, the Bill for the Government of London, which Sir William Harcourt and Sir Charles Dilke had prepared with the help of Mr. Beal and Mr. Firth, and this was ready for circulation to the Cabinet.

While Dilke, with his son, was passing Christmas-time at Toulon, Mr. Gladstone had also come to the Mediterranean coast.

'I went to Cannes, where I dined with Mr. Gladstone twice, and went to church with him on Sunday, January 21st, 1883.

'While Mr. Gladstone was at Cannes he talked very freely to Ribot and other Frenchmen in the presence of Mrs. Emily Crawford, the Daily News correspondent in Paris, about the London Government Bill. Harcourt had insisted, against myself and Firth and Beal, and against most of the Commons members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, on keeping the control of the police in the hands of the Government. Ribot asked Mr. Gladstone whether we could really trust London with its police, as few Frenchmen dared trust Paris, and Mr. Gladstone said that we could and should, a statement which was at once sent to the Daily News, and printed, to Harcourt's horror.'



'On February 2nd we had a conference on London Government at the Home Office, in which the police question again came up. In consequence of our difference of opinion Harcourt shortly after circulated to the Cabinet a memorandum on the police authority in the new municipality of London....

'"No competent statesmen and no authoritative body of men have considered this matter without arriving at the same conclusion— namely, that there ought to be one police force, and not two, in the Metropolis. I will therefore take it for granted that it is impossible to raise an argument against the union of the whole of the police force in the Metropolis under one control.... There is only one question worthy of debate—namely, whether the united force shall be placed under the control of the corporation or of the Government.... A practical consideration of the case will, I think, demonstrate the sheer impossibility of vesting in a popular council the discipline and administration of such a force as the Metropolitan Police.... Suppose, for example, that news arrived either from America or Ireland which required instant and secret action by the police throughout London against a Fenian outbreak. Is it to be contended that a meeting of the Watch Committee is to be summoned ... a debate to be raised and a vote taken?... When the Government determined to arrest Davitt, was the warrant to be canvassed ... in the Watch Committee?..."

'On this I wrote in strong dissent: "Suppose the same news as regards Liverpool. A case in point was the attack on Chester Castle. Liverpool was the Fenian centre for this. Liverpool is by far the most Fenian town in England. Yet all the arrests were made in Liverpool, and all worked perfectly. If all this argument were really true, there would be Fenian Alsatias in existence now. We do not find any difference between town and town. We do not find that the Fenians avoid London, where Harcourt has all his force and all his powers."

'Harcourt's memorandum went on in extraordinarily violent and anti- popular language.... To this reasoning neither Mr. Gladstone nor Chamberlain nor I yielded.'

Extension of the franchise involved Ireland. It was certain enormously to increase Mr. Parnell's following, and Lord Hartington's opposition to the proposal was very largely due to this fact. The Whig leader's attitude to Ireland was expressed in a speech at Bacup, in which he declared that it would be "madness to give Ireland more extended self-government" unless they could "receive from the Irish people some assurance that this boon would not be used for the purposes of agitation."

'Chamberlain wrote to me January 20th:

'"Hartington's speech was very Conservative the other day. I cannot complain, as he has as much right to talk Whiggism as you and I to spout Radicalism. Only I don't see how we are to get on together when Mr. G. goes.... But the general impression left on my mind is that the country (our country, that is—the great majority of Liberal opinion) is ripe for a new departure in constructive Radicalism, and only wants leaders. So if we are driven to fight, we shall easily recruit an army."'

Speaking at Swansea on February 1st, Mr. Chamberlain said:

"So long as Ireland is without any institution of Local Government worthy of the name, so long the seeds of discontent and disloyalty will remain, and burst forth into luxuriant growth at the first favourable occasion."

Radicals were already uneasy about Lord Spencer's administration, and their uneasiness was finding expression in public. Sir Charles notes in January, 1883, before his brother Ashton's death:

'My brother had in January placed his application for the Chiltern Hundreds secretly in the hands of his Newcastle friends, to be used so soon as they had found a candidate, and I managed through Chamberlain the selection of John Morley. Lord Spencer and Trevelyan were at this time very hostile to Morley, who was writing against their policy in the Pall Mall, and was supposed to be instigated by Chamberlain. In sending me a letter of complaint from Trevelyan, Chamberlain wrote:

'"It seems to me devilishly like Forster over again. I think it may wait without further reply; but I fear there may be more trouble in store in Ireland yet, and we may have to put our feet down on further coercion."

'In a letter of February 2nd, Chamberlain wrote:

'"If Spencer and Trevelyan really believe that I have set Morley against them, they are very foolish. On the other hand, I have done all I can to keep him straight, but you know he is kittle cattle to drive. If I have not converted him, I must admit that he has rather shaken me, and I have not quite so much confidence in their discretion as I thought it politic to express last night" (at Swansea). "The more I think of the prosecutions of the Press and of Members of Parliament, the less I like them. But I have said nothing of this to Morley. You will see that I replied to Hartington by implication. I do not want to have a row, but if it must come I shall not shrink from it.'"

The Radicals were pressing forward a proposal to deal at once with the extension of franchise instead of with Local Government; but here they were overruled.

'On this last point of the order of our chief Bills, Chamberlain and I jointly consulted the Cabinet in writing, with the result that all pronounced against our view except Mr. Gladstone, who was away and did not write.' (Mr. Gladstone did not return from Cannes till the beginning of March.) 'Hartington showed in his minute not only that he wanted County Government dealt with first, but that he wanted redistribution dealt with in the same Session with franchise. Lord Spencer and Lord Selborne strongly agreed with Hartington. Lord Granville was against binding ourselves to couple redistribution with equalization of franchise, but thought that to introduce Bills dealing with one or both of these subjects "would be prematurely hastening the end of a good Parliament, and would delay the passing of useful measures, including Local Government. It seems to me important to test the utility of the new rules of procedure by several non-political Bills, together with such Bills as the Local Government Bill and the reform of the municipality of London." Lord Granville, of course, was anxious to stop in, and was merely finding reasons for not touching a subject which he thought dangerous.

'Lord Derby agreed with Lord Granville: "The objection on general grounds to bringing forward a County Franchise Bill in the present Session seems to me strong. You could not postpone redistribution of seats, and this latter measure would involve the necessity for dissolution, either in order to carry it or immediately after it was carried. Local Government would thus be delayed for several years." Lord Kimberley wrote: "I agree with Lord Derby. From the time when we propose the extension of the county franchise until (by some Governments) the redistribution of seats is carried, there will be a political crisis, and all other measures will be postponed."

'In consequence of the position taken up by the Cabinet, I proceeded to draft a Local Government Bill.' [Footnote: The measure was a large one, but he notes in his Memoir that 'it was a less complete and comprehensive measure than that prepared by me for Chamberlain in 1886.']

Thus, immediately on his entry into the Cabinet Sir Charles found himself entrusted with the task of framing the chief measure for the succeeding Session. When the outlines had been sketched in, he wrote:

'Before I started for my Easter holiday I went through the draft of the Local Government Bill. Drawing great Bills is heart-breaking work, for one always feels that they will never be introduced or seen, so considerable are the chances against any given Bill going forward. All the great labour that we had given to the London Bill was wasted, and this forms a reason why the Foreign Office is pleasanter than other offices, as no work is wasted there.'

The decision to postpone extension of the franchise, though it eased the situation, did not solve all difficulties. Mr. Chamberlain urged a Tenant Rights Bill for England, which, he said to Sir Charles, "would be a great stroke of business. Without it" they would "lose the farmers for a certainty." Sir Charles concurred, and an Agricultural Holdings Bill was amongst the measures carried in that Session. It did not go far in the direction of tenant right, and therefore created no controversy with the Whigs. But with regard to Ireland, Mr. Chamberlain 'was strongly in favour of an Irish Local Government Bill' (which had been promised in a previous Queen's Speech). The Prime Minister was of Mr. Chamberlain's view. On February 3rd to 5th, when Dilke was staying with the Duke of Albany at Claremont (and 'admiring Clive's Durbar carpet, for which the house was built'), the Duke 'talked over Mr. Gladstone's strong desire for an Irish Local Government Bill.' That desire was, indeed, no secret, for Mr. Gladstone, still in his expansive mood of Cannes, gave an interview to M. Clemenceau, in which he expressed his hope to "make the humblest Irishman feel that he is a self governing agency, and that the Government is to be carried on by him and for him."

At the Cabinet of February 9th

'we looked forward to what the schoolboys call "a jolly blow up," when Mr. Gladstone should return. The letter from Mr. Gladstone, which was read, was so steady in its terms that I passed a paper to Chamberlain, saying: "He is quite as obstinate as you are."

'On February 12th I ... found Harcourt perfectly furious at Mr. Gladstone's conversations as reported in the Daily News. I wrote to Chamberlain to tell him, and he replied: u It is lovely. And his conversation with Clemenceau will send Hartington into hysterics re Irish Local Government.'

Sir Charles's first Cabinet Council was on Tuesday, February 6th, 1883.

'This was the Queen's Speech Cabinet, and my notes show that I wrote a good deal of the speech, especially the part which concerned the Bills. I was much surprised at the form of the circular calling the Cabinet: "A Meeting of Her Majesty's servants will be held," etc.... We were thirteen on this day, and spent a portion of our valuable time in wondering which of us would be gone before the year was out. Mr. Gladstone still stated in his letters that he would retire at Easter, or at the latest in August, and it was generally thought that he meant August.'

A series of Cabinets followed in which the Prime Minister continued to make himself felt, though absent, and Sir Charles wrote in his Diary:

"Talk of two Kings of Brentford! This Cabinet has to serve two despotic monarchs—one a Tory one, at Osborne, and one a Radical one, at Cannes."

It shows the temper of the moment that Sir Charles should have described the second monarch as 'Radical.' But Ireland was then the central subject of contention, and concerning Ireland Mr. Gladstone was with the Radicals, Dilke and Chamberlain, and against those who wanted to revenge upon the whole Irish nation, the plots of the "Invincibles," then being exposed by the evidence of James Carey, the Phoenix Park assassin, who had been accepted as an informer.

'On Sunday, February 18th, I dined with the Prince and Princess of Wales at Marlborough House, where were present Prince Edward of Saxe- Weimar, Hartington, the Duchess of Manchester, Lord and Lady Hamilton (afterwards Duke and Duchess of Abercorn), Lord and Lady Granville, Lady Lonsdale (afterwards Lady de Grey), Lord Rowton, H. Bismarck, Leighton, Alfred de Rothschild, and Sir Joseph Crowe. Lord Granville and I sat in a corner and talked Danube Conference. Lord Granville told me, when we returned to other matters, that Harcourt was in a dangerous frame of mind, and might at any moment burst out publicly about the necessity of governing Ireland by the sword. He was also threatening resignation on account of Mr. Gladstone's views about the Metropolitan Police.'

'On February 19th there was an informal Cabinet in Mr. Gladstone's room, which was now temporarily mine.... Harcourt fought against Lord Granville, Kimberley, Northbrook, Carlingford, and Childers, in favour of his violent views about the Irish. At last Carlingford, although an Irish landlord, cried out: "Your language is that of the lowest Tory." Harcourt then said: "In the course of this very debate I shall say that there must be no more Irish legislation, and no more conciliation, and that Ireland can only be governed by the sword." "If you say that," replied Carlingford, "it will not be as representing the Government, for none of your colleagues agree with you." It was only temper, and Harcourt said nothing of the kind, but made an excellent speech.' [Footnote: Sir Charles Dilke's view of the Irish movement is expressed in a letter of March 7th, 1883: "I don't think that the movement in Ireland is to be traced to the same causes as that on the Continent. The Irish movement is Nationalist. It is patriotic—not cosmopolitan, and is as detached from French Anarchism and German or American Socialism as is the Polish Nationalist movement."]

'On March 1st I heard that when the Irish Government, through the Home Office, had applied to the Foreign Office to ask the Americans for P. J. Sheridan, the Home Office had said that they feared it was useless to apply to the United States except on a charge of murder. On this hint the Irish Government at once charged Sheridan with murder. Harcourt told me that their promptitude reminded him of a story which he had heard from Kinglake, who was once applied to by a friend as to the circumstances which would be sufficient to legalize a "nuncupative [Footnote: "Nuncupative" is a legal term for an oral as distinguished from a written will.] death-bed will." Kinglake wrote a figurative account of an imaginary case in much detail, and by the next post received a solemn affidavit from the man setting out Kinglake's own exact series of incidents as having actually occurred.'

Prosecutions and sentences had no more effect than such things generally have in face of a suppressed revolution and on the night of March 15th, 1883, a dynamite explosion took place at the Local Government Board. Sir Charles, however, did not take a very serious view of it:

'The dynamiters chose a quiet corner, and they chose an hour when nobody was about, which showed that the object was not to hurt anybody, but only to get money from the United States. At the same time they picked their office most unfortunately, for the Local Government Board is the only office where people worked late at night, and two out of my four leading men were still in their rooms, although they had come at ten in the morning and the explosion did not take place till nine at night.'

Mr. Gladstone had returned at the beginning of this month, and on March 5th Sir Charles saw him for the first time in Cabinet, 'singularly quiet, hardly saying anything at all.' He did, however, say that Mr. Bradlaugh was "a stone round their necks," 'which in a Parliamentary sense he was.' Despite one of Mr. Gladstone's greatest speeches, Government were again beaten when they proposed to let him affirm.

In this spring there was an agitation to create a Secretaryship of State for Scotland, and Lord Rosebery was looked upon as designate for the office. Sir Charles did not think the change necessary, but was strongly for having Lord Rosebery in the Cabinet, and wrote to Sir M. Grant Duff, Governor of Madras:

"It would be natural to give Rosebery the Privy Seal, and let him keep the Scotch work; but nothing will induce Mr. G. to look upon him as anything but a nice promising baby, and he will not hear of letting him into the Cabinet." 'Nothing,' he adds, 'was settled on this occasion.'

"A smaller Bill than those which I have mentioned, but one in which I was interested, was my Municipal Corporations (unreformed) Bill, which had passed the House of Lords, but failed to pass the Commons. [Footnote: Previous reference to Sir Charles's persistent fight for this Bill is to be found in Chapter XIII.] Rosebery thought that this time it should be introduced into the Commons... because, although the Lords were pledged to it by having passed it," this pledge must not be strained too hard by constantly waving the red flag of uncomfortable reform before the hereditary bull. "Harcourt having agreed with me that the Bill should be introduced into the Lords, and having also agreed with Rosebery that it should be introduced in the Commons, Rosebery again wrote: 'I am afraid if you go on bringing this measure before the peers they will begin to smell out suspicious matter in it."'

On April 21st 'Rosebery again promised me to introduce a Bill,' and the Bill became law in 1884.

After his brother's death on March 12th Sir Charles Dilke, in his reply to a very kind letter from the Prince of Wales in the name of himself and the Princess, mentioned Lord Rosebery and the Scotch agitation. The Prince wrote back:

"I quite agree. If Rosebery was not to be President of the Council, he ought at least to be Privy Seal. It seems very hard, as he has every claim, especially after the Midlothian election."

Several matters relating to the Queen and Royal Family appear at this time in the Memoir. At the Cabinet of March 5th

'a letter from the Queen was read as to her strong wish to have an Indian bodyguard, consisting of twenty noncommissioned officers of the native cavalry. I did not say a word, and Chamberlain not much, but all the others strongly attacked the scheme, which they ended by rejecting. Lord Derby said that the Empress title had been forced on the former Conservative Cabinet, of which he had been a member, in the same way. It was pointed out that if India consented to pay the men, and they only carried side-arms, they might be treated as pages or servants, not soldiers, and need not be voted at all as "men" in the Army Estimates.'

'A day or two later Villiers, our military attach. in Paris, reported the existence of a military plot, said to have been got up by General Billot, the Minister of War: the plan being that fifteen commanders of corps were to turn out Grevy and put in the due d'Aumale. The story was probably a lie.'

'On March 18th there was to have been a "forgiving party" at Windsor, for Lord Derby was commanded as well as I. The Harcourts were to have gone, but the Queen sent in the morning to say she had slipped down, and must put off her Sunday dinner.'

'At this time peace was restored between Randolph Churchill and the Royal Family. The reconciliation was marked by Lady Randolph attending the Drawing-Room held on March 13th at the Queen's special wish.'

'At the Marlborough House dinner on May 27th, the Prince spoke to me about the allowance for his sons as they came of age, and told me that he thought the money might be given to him as head of the family. My own view is very much the same, but I would give it all to the Crown, and let the King for the time being distribute it so that we should not deal with any other members of the family.'

'At Claremont I found, from the conversation of the Duke of Albany and of his secretary, that if the Duke of Cambridge resigned speedily, as then seemed probable, the Duke of Connaught had no chance of obtaining the place; but it was hoped at Court that the Commander-in-Chief would hold his position for five or six years, and then might be succeeded by the Duke of Connaught.'

Later Sir Charles mentions the Duke of Albany's conversation with him as to Canada, of which he wished to be Governor, but the Queen opposed the project, and Lord Lansdowne was eventually sent out.

Returning to the Easter recess:

'The Government programme now began to be revised in the light of men's declared intentions.'

'On Wednesday, March 21st, I crossed to Paris, and went to Toulon. I must have been back in London on Thursday, March 29th, on which day I had a long interview with Mr. Gladstone on things in general. He had told Harcourt that he would hardly budge about the London police. His last word was that they should be retained by the Home Office for a period distinctly temporary, and to be named in the Bill. I gathered from Mr. Gladstone's talk that all idea of retirement had gone out of his mind.'

There was a Cabinet on April 7th, and 'London Government was again postponed, but, owing to the fierce conflict between Harcourt and Mr. Gladstone, was looked upon as dead.'

Mr. Gladstone, in his anger, told Sir Charles that "Harcourt, through laziness, wanted to get out of the Government of London Bill." But the truth was, says the Memoir, 'that he could think of nothing but the dynamite conspiracy.' A Bill to meet this was being rushed through Parliament, with an almost grotesque haste, that was as grotesquely baffled in the end.

'On April 9th the Queen sat up half the night at Harcourt's wish in order to be ready to sign the Explosives Bill at once, but Mr. Palmer of the Crown Office (the gentleman who signs "Palmer" as though he were a peer) could not be found; and the other man, Zwingler, was in bed at Turnham Green, and to Harcourt's rage the thing could not be done. On the 16th Harcourt told the Chancellor that in the discussion of the Crown Office vote he should move the omission of the item for his nephew's pay.' [Footnote: Mr. Ralph Charlton Palmer was Lord Selborne's second cousin, and secretary to Lord Selborne in the Lord Chancellor's Office. He was afterwards a Commissioner in Lunacy.]

The London Government Bill was not yet given up for lost. On April 11th Sir Charles Dilke wrote to Mr. Gladstone to deprecate its withdrawal, and the Prime Minister replied, agreeing that "withdrawal ... would be a serious mischief, and a blow to the Government."

'On April 14th there was a Cabinet, at which Mr. Gladstone announced that Harcourt had written to him refusing to go on with the Government of London Bill after the second reading of the measure, and proposing that I should conduct it through Committee.'

'At the Cabinet of this day (April 21st) Mr. Gladstone said that he wanted the bearing of the Agricultural Holdings Bill on Scotland explained to him. "I wish Argyll were here," said he. "I wish to God he was," said Hartington, who had been fighting alone against the Bill, deserted even by the Chancellor and by Lord Derby. Indeed, all my lords were very Radical to-day except Hartington, who was simply ferocious, being at bay. He told us that Lord Derby was a mere owner of Liverpool ground rents, who knew nothing about land.'

'On Thursday, May 24th, there was a meeting at the Home Office of nine members of the Cabinet as to the Government of London Bill, and I wrote after it to Chamberlain: "Victory! Hartington alone dissenting, everybody was for going on with everything, and sitting in the autumn." And Chamberlain replied: "At last! But why the devil was it not decided before?"'

At a full Cabinet a few days later 'the police difficulty finally slew the London Bill.' This seemed to Sir Charles a very serious matter, and he thought of resigning. Mr. Chamberlain, however, was against this, though agreeing that he should resign in the autumn 'unless Mr. Gladstone would promise to put franchise first next year.'

So it was left. But presently Mr. Chamberlain himself became the cause of very grave dissensions. On June 13th, 1883, a great assembly was held at Birmingham to celebrate the twenty-fifth year of Mr. Bright's membership for the borough, and Mr. Chamberlain in speaking observed that representatives of royalty were not present, neither were they missed. [Footnote: On Monday, June 11th, 1883, there was a "monster procession and fete constituting the popular prelude to the more serious business of the Bright celebration at Birmingham" that week. On June 13th Mr. Chamberlain said: "Twice in a short interval we have read how vast multitudes of human beings have gathered together to acclaim and welcome the ruler of the people. In Russia, in the ancient capital of that mighty Empire, the descendant of a long line of ancient Princes, accompanied by a countless host of soldiers, escorted by all the dignitaries of the State, and by the representatives of foreign Powers, was received with every demonstration of joy by the vast population which was gathered together to witness his triumphal entry. I have been told that more than a million sterling of public money was expended on these ceremonies and festivities.... Your demonstration on Monday lacked nearly all the elements which constituted the great pageant of the Russian Coronation. Pomp and circumstance were wanting; no public money was expended; no military display accompanied Mr. Bright. The brilliant uniforms, the crowds of high officials, the representatives of Royalty, were absent, and nobody missed them; for yours was essentially a demonstration of the people and by the people, in honour of the man whom the people delighted to honour, and the hero of that demonstration had no offices to bestow—no ribands, or rank, or Court titles, to confer. He was only the plain citizen—one of ourselves...." (the Times, June 14th, 1883).] He added that the country was in his opinion more Radical than the majority of the House of Commons, but not more Radical than the Government; that the country was in favour of Disestablishment, and that three things were wanted: First, "a suffrage from which no man who is not disqualified by crime or the recipient of relief shall be excluded "; secondly, equal electoral districts; and, thirdly, payment of members.

'On June 25th Mr. Gladstone had sent for me about a recent speech by Chamberlain at Birmingham.

'The Queen had been angry at his "They toil not, neither do they spin," but was still more angry about this recent speech, at which Mr. Gladstone was also himself offended. [Footnote: "This speech is open to exception from three points of view, I think—first in relation to Bright, secondly in relation to the Cabinet, thirdly and most especially in relation to the Crown, to which the speech did not indicate the consciousness of his holding any special relation," wrote Mr. Gladstone to Sir Henry Ponsonby (Morley's Life of Gladstone, vol. iii., p. 112).] I pointed out that Hartington had committed his colleagues on a practical question when he spoke as to Irish Local Government last January, and Mr. Gladstone had committed them when he talked on Ireland and on London government to Ribot and Clemenceau at Cannes. Mr. Gladstone defended himself, but threw over Hartington, who had "behaved worse than Chamberlain." I went to see Chamberlain about it, and found him very stiff, but tried to get him to say something about it at the Cobden Club, where he was to preside on Saturday, the 30th. On the next day he promised that he would do this, but when he came to read me the words that he intended to use I came to the conclusion that, although they would make his own position very clear, they would only make matters worse as far as Mr. Gladstone and the Queen were concerned.'

Dilke's mediation was ultimately successful, and 'on July 2nd Mr. Gladstone, in a letter to Chamberlain, accepted his explanations with regard to his speech.' In the House of Commons, charge of the Corrupt Practices Bill had been entrusted to the President of the Local Government Board—a very unusual arrangement—and it meant sitting late many nights, once till 5.30 a.m., after which 'I had to get up as usual for my fencing people.'

'On July 25th there was another Cabinet, before which I had "circulated" to my colleagues my local government scheme. Many members of the Cabinet objected to it as too complete, and on my communicating their views to the draftsman, Sir Henry Thring, he wrote:

'"I believe that the great superiority of your plan of local government over any other I have seen consists in its extent. I believe that you will find that your scheme, though apparently far more extreme than any scheme yet proposed, will practically not make a greater alteration in existing arrangements than a far less comprehensive scheme would make. It is, as far as I can judge, impossible to make a partial plan for local government: such a plan disturbs everything and settles nothing.... Your plan, when carried into effect, will disturb most things, no doubt, but will at the same time settle everything."'

At a Cabinet held in the recess on October 25th

'Mr. Gladstone made a speech about the next Session which virtually meant franchise first, and the rest nowhere. After this I locked up my now useless Local Government Bill, of which the principal draft had been dated August 24th. One of its most important parts had been the consolidation of rates and declaration of the liability of owners for half the rates. It had then gone on to establish district councils, and then the County Councils. There was, however, to be some slight resuscitation of the Bill a little later.'

Two minor concerns which interested Sir Charles exceedingly were under prolonged discussion this year. The first was the proposed purchase of the Ashburnham and Stowe collections. Sir Charles 'voted all through against the purchase of the Ashburnham manuscripts, being certain that we were being imposed upon.' He noted

'the experts always want to buy, and always say that the thing is invaluable and a chance which will never happen again. No one can care for the National Gallery more than I do; I know the pictures very well, for I go there almost every week.'

He thought, however, that some wholesale purchases for public collections had been all but worthless, with perhaps one admirable thing in a mass of rubbish.

Secondly, there arose in May a discussion over the Duke of Wellington's statue, which Leighton and the Prince of Wales wanted to remove from Hyde Park Corner, but which Sir Charles cherished as an old friend. It was one of the matters on which he and Mr. Gladstone were united by a common conservatism:

'The ridiculous question of the Duke of Wellington's statue had come up again at the Cabinet of August 9th, and the numbers were taken three times over by Mr. Gladstone, who was in favour of the old statue and against all removals, in which view I steadily supported him, the Cabinet being against us, and Mr. Gladstone constantly trying to get his own way against the majority. It was the only subject upon which, while I was a member of it, I ever knew the Cabinet take a show of hands.'

In the last Cabinet of the Session they 'once more informally divided about the Wellington statue'; and he recorded the fact that he 'still hoped to save it.' Yet in the end he failed; and 'now,' he notes pathetically, 'I should have to go to Aldershot to see it if I wished to do so.'



CHAPTER XXXII

FOREIGN AND COLONIAL AFFAIRS OCTOBER, 1882, TO DECEMBER, 1883

Sir Charles Dilke's transference to the Local Government Board scarcely lessened his contact with the more important branches of the Foreign Office work, while his entry into the Cabinet greatly increased the range of his consultative authority.

The Triple Alliance was a fact, but only guessed as yet. It is not till the middle of 1883 that Sir Charles writes:

'On June 4th, 1883, I heard the particulars of the alliance of the Central Powers, signed at Vienna between Germany and Austria in October, 1879, and ratified at Berlin on October 18th of that year, to which Italy had afterwards adhered.' [Footnote: Sir Charles knew that Prince Bismarck had tried first for an English alliance, and wrote on August 17th, 1882, to Sir M. Grant Duff: "N. Rothschild told me that the late Government had twice declined an offensive and defensive alliance offered by Germany." See also Life of Lord Granville, vol. ii., p. 211.]

An extension was contemplated which would have put France between two fires. Later, in the autumn of 1883,

'a private letter from Morier to Lord Granville showed that Bismarck had sent the Crown Prince of Germany to Spain to induce Spain to join the "peace league"' (Triple Alliance), 'and had failed.'

On November 22nd, 1883,

'At the Cabinet I saw a telegram from Lord Dufferin, No. 86, received late on the previous night, in which the Sultan asked our advice as to offers of alliance in the event of immediate general war, which had probably been made him by both sides. We replied to it after the Cabinet (No. 68): "We cannot enter into hypothetical engagements or make arrangements in contemplation of war between friendly Powers now at peace. The Sultan must be aware that Germany is the most powerful military nation on the Continent, and that she has no ambitious views against Turkey. Strongly advise the Sultan not to enter into entangling engagements." This whole story of the Sultan's was probably a lie, to get us to say whether we would defend his Armenian frontier, but, curiously enough, Dufferin seemed to believe it.'

'On May 24th, 1883, I informed the Ministers assembled of two interesting matters of foreign affairs. The one was Bismarck's denunciation to us of a league among the small Christian States of the Balkan Peninsula for provoking popular votes in Turkey in favour of annexation of various provinces to one or other of the partners. The other was an offer by the Grand Sherif of Mecca to turn the Turks out of Arabia, and place it under British protection.'

The gravest danger to the world's peace lay in the fact that to the ordinary Englishman Russia was still the natural enemy, and that France, smarting under the rebuff she had experienced in Egypt, was assuming a more unfriendly attitude towards Great Britain.

In South Africa the state of things established after Majuba was revealing itself as one of constant friction, and border wars between the Boers and African tribes claiming British protection led to ceaseless controversy.

'On the 10th (March, '83) there was another Cabinet. A Transvaal debate was coming on on Thursday the 15th, and in view of this Chamberlain asked for support of his opinion that an expedition should be sent out to save Montsioa. He was supported only by Hartington and myself, but he afterwards managed to commit us to it, and to force his view upon Mr. Gladstone. He passed a paper to me when he found we could not win at the Cabinet: "How far would the difficulty be met by supplying arms to Mankowane and (query) to Montsioa, and permitting volunteers to go to their assistance?" I replied, "I don't think it would stand House of Commons discussion." To this he answered, "Perhaps not. But the first is what Mankowane himself asks for, and if we gave him what he wants that course ought to be defensible." I wrote, "Yes, I was thinking more of Montsioa."' [Footnote: Mankowane and Montsioa were independent native chiefs of Bechuanaland, for whose protection the Aborigines' Protection Society was appealing to the British Government.]

'March 16th, 1883, Mr. Gladstone asked me to speak in the event of the Transvaal debate coming on again, and I refused, as I did not agree in the policy pursued. Chamberlain said he would speak in my place, and did so.

'May 26th or 27th. We decided at the Cabinet to keep Basutoland.

'June 13th. As to South Africa, the Colonial Office told us that they hoped to induce the Cape to take Bechuanaland. A little later on the whole of their efforts were directed in the opposite direction— namely, to induce the Cape to let us keep Bechuanaland separate from the Cape. It was announced that Reay had accepted the Transvaal Mission.

'June 23rd. We decided that Reay was not to go out, because the Transvaal people preferred to come to us.

'November 30th. We talked of the Transvaal, which looked bad.'

The Transvaal deputation is mentioned immediately after this as having arrived.

There are also allusions to South African affairs having been raised at other Cabinets in this year, but no details given.

Late in 1883, Sir Charles says, 'I was pressing for the restoration of Cetewayo, and Lord Derby insisted that he had brought all his troubles on himself.'

At this time Russia had subdued the Turcomans and made herself paramount in the territories north of Persia and Afghanistan. It was only a matter of months before Russian troops would be on the ill-defined frontiers of Afghanistan. Great Britain was bound to the Amir of Afghanistan by an engagement to assist him against external attack, provided that he complied with British advice as to his foreign relations. Not only was a collision predicted between Russia and the Amir, whose territory Great Britain had thus guaranteed, but it was known where the struggle would be.

'It was also about this time' (February, 1883) 'that the Russian Government took up my suggestion as to the delimitation of the boundary of Afghanistan. But, as Currie wrote, "the object of the Russian Foreign Office may only be to keep the British Government quiet, while they are settling the boundary question with Persia and annexing ... Merv, with a view to a fresh departure in the direction of Herat as soon as that process is accomplished."'

'We already foresaw that the struggle would be over Penjdeh. A memorandum of 1882, by Major Napier, [Footnote: Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. G. C. Napier, C.I.E., son of the first Lord Napier of Magdala, and twin brother of the second Lord Napier.] had told us that "below Penjdeh the Afghans would not appear to have ever extended their authority." Mr. Currie, [Footnote: Afterwards Lord Currie, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.] as he then was, prophesied that the line proposed by the Russians would strike the Murghab near Penjdeh.'

This was a situation well fitted to arouse Sir Charles, who wrote to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice: "I'm as great a jingo in Central Asia as I am a scuttler in South Africa." His policy was not that of the India Office. He advocated delimitation of the Afghan frontiers, and in October, 1882, the Amir had asked for this. [Footnote: 'On October 17th, 1882, the Amir had proposed to Lord Ripon that delimitation of his frontiers which I was pressing at the time, but which had been refused by Lord Ripon. Lord Granville and Fitzmaurice had come round to my view. Northbrook strongly resisted, and wanted his famous treaty.'] 'The Government of India insisted at this time upon the proposal to Russia of a treaty with regard to Afghanistan.' Sir Charles thought that British interests in India would be better served by strengthening Afghanistan, by ascertaining exactly what the Amir's rights were, and by making him feel that he would be protected in them. To-day, when Afghanistan is one of the self-equipping Asiatic military powers, and admittedly an awkward enemy to tackle, the situation seems plain enough; but in those days Abdurrahman, new on the throne, was still a 'King with opposition.'

'On April 20th, 1883, there was a meeting at the Foreign Office as to Central Asia between Lord Granville, Hartington, Kimberley, Northbrook, Edmond Fitzmaurice, and myself. The Amir was in a friendly humour, and I felt that the evacuation of Kandahar had been better than a dozen victories.'

The evacuation of Kandahar had been Lord Ripon's work, but Lord Ripon was now inclining to compromise the unity of the Native State which he had then laboured to establish. He was disposed to keep the Amir at arm's length, and wished to decline a visit of ceremony which Abdurrahman proposed. All the Committee at the Foreign Office were against this, except Lord Northbrook, who 'did not believe in Abdurrahman's strength, and believed that he would soon be turned out of Herat by his own Governor.'

'On June 7th it was settled that the Amir should have twelve lakhs of rupees a year.' But Sir Charles had not yet carried his point as to preventing a treaty with Russia, and

'Philip Currie and Fitzmaurice both wrote to me in favour of the India Office view, while Condie Stephen [Footnote: Sir Alexander Condie Stephen, K.C.M.G., was in 1882-83 despatched from the Legation at Teheran on a mission to Khorassan, the north-east province of Persia] returned from Central Asia with the same view in favour of a treaty.... But Currie put a postscript to his long letter, in which he departed altogether from the treaty position, and took up my own view as to delimitation: "In view of our engagement to defend Afghanistan from foreign aggression, we ought surely to know the limits of the territory we have guaranteed."

'I finally said that I had no objection to a treaty which would merely recapitulate facts and set out the Afghan frontier. This was my last word, and, Lord Granville agreeing with me, we went on with delimitation as against treaty.... It was not until June 8th, 1888, that the Emperor of Russia recognized the arrangement and the frontier marked by the boundary pillars.'

For Sir Charles's policy it was necessary to propitiate the ruler of Afghanistan, and in July, 1883, it was reported that the Amir had applied to the British Government for a new set of teeth. The application had really been for a European dentist. When Lord Ripon persisted in refusing Abdurrahman's proffered visit, Sir Charles tried to get civil expressions of regret from the Government, and, failing in this, wrote in despair to Lord Kimberley: "I hope to goodness he has got his teeth."

It was not, however, till 1885 that the tension with Russia became really acute.

In France, Gambetta's death had been followed by a Ministerial crisis, and in the disturbances which resulted M. Duclerc fell in February, 1883, and after a time of confusion M. Ferry became, for a second time, Prime Minister, having M. Challemel-Lacour, no lover of England, for his Foreign Secretary.

"In order to distract the country's attention from internal dissensions and the Eastern frontier," [Footnote: Life of Lord Granville, vol. ii., p. 313.] M. Ferry developed that "Colonial policy" of which Sir Charles said, in 1887, that

"it greatly weakens the military position of France in Europe, and disorganizes her finances, while it compromises the efficiency of the only thing which really counts in modern European war, the rapidity of mobilization of the reserves." [Footnote: Present Position of European Politics, p. 101.]

Germany also was embarking on a "Colonial policy" disapproved of by Bismarck, but to which later he had to bow. One instance of the difficulties thus created was that of the Congo. A sketch of our proposed treaty with Portugal has already been given; [Footnote: See Chapter XXVI., p. 418.] but while the negotiations were proceeding,

'de Brazza, employed by the French, had been making treaties in the Congo district, which had been approved by the French Government and Parliament. The King of the Belgians pulled the strings of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and succeeded in arousing a good deal of feeling against our negotiations with the Portuguese, and ultimately the French and Germans joined the King of the Belgians in stopping our carrying through our treaty.'

Mr. Jacob Bright became the spokesman of those who opposed the Portuguese negotiations, and in 1883 Sir Charles, though offering to express his own clear belief that the treaty was right, foretold to Lord Granville that the House of Commons would not accept the arrangement, and Mr. Gladstone avoided an adverse vote only by promising that the treaty should not be made without the express consent of Parliament. Sir Charles's reference to this lays down an opinion upon the relation of Parliament to the Foreign Office which is interesting as coming from so strong a democrat:

'In the Congo debate, which took place on Tuesday, April 3rd, 1883, Mr. Gladstone went perilously near giving up the valuable treaty- making power of the Crown. What he said, however, applied in terms only to this one case. To Grant Duff I wrote: "In all other countries having parliamentary government, the Parliaments have to be consulted. We stood alone, and it was hard to keep the special position, but it was good for the country, I feel sure."'

In 1883 a Committee of the Cabinet was appointed to deal with affairs on the West Coast of Africa, and this Committee 'by its delays and hesitations lost us the Cameroons,' where two native Kings had asked to be taken under British protection. [Footnote: See Chapter XXVII., p. 431.] On the East Coast there was a more serious result of procrastination in regard to Zanzibar.

'As late as November 16th, 1882, I wrote to Lord Northbrook, "Are you going to let Zanzibar die without a kick?" a note which applied to an offer which had been made to us by the Sultan, that we should become his heirs—an offer which Mr. Gladstone had wished us to decline, and which I was in favour of accepting.'

'The Foreign Office, in a memorandum upon this subject, assigned as the chief reason for not accepting this trust "the fear lest it should infringe the agreement entered into with France in 1862." ... It may be open to argument whether our acceptance of a voluntary offer by the Sultan of the above nature would have been a breach of the agreement. In the autumn of 1884 the Government, waking up too late, telegraphed to our agent at Zanzibar as to the importance of our not being forestalled by any European nation in the exercise of at least paramount influence over the mountain districts situated near the coast and to the north of the equator. The Foreign Office at my suggestion pointed out at this time that "to the north of the Portuguese dominions we are at present, but who can say for how long? without a European rival; where the political future of the country is of real importance to Indian and Imperial interests, where the climate is superior, where commerce is capable of vast extension, and where our influence could be exercised unchecked by the rivalry of Europe in the extension of civilization and the consequent extinction of the slave trade." The Government, however, delayed too long, and we afterwards lost our position at Zanzibar, and had ultimately to buy half of it back again by the cession of a British colony.' (Heligoland).

Sir Charles was especially concerned at the heedlessness which disregarded the interests of the great self-governing colonies, who had no authority to deal with foreign affairs. He gives the history of the New Hebrides. Here native chiefs had asked to be taken under British protection; New South Wales had urged action; the French had three times declared intention to annex, but Great Britain had done nothing. Australian anxiety as to the French occupation extended to New Guinea, and in March, 1883, officials of the Government of Queensland declared an annexation of half New Guinea. They were disavowed, but their action had created a feeling that something must be done.

'On June 12th, 1883, there was hatched a scheme for the partial annexation of New Guinea, which had been prepared by the Chancellor, Mr. Gladstone, and Sir Arthur Gordon, [Footnote: Sir Arthur Gordon was one of the philanthropists who believed in making the coloured peoples work by a labour tax. Sir Charles had met him in 1879, and described him as one 'who invented, in the name of civilization and progress, a new kind of slavery in Fiji.'] of Fiji and New Zealand fame. On the 13th a Cabinet decided to go slowly in this matter, and they went so slowly that we lost half of our half of New Guinea to Germany, and almost lost the whole of it.'

'As early as June, 1883, we had told Italy that any attempt to occupy any portion of New Guinea without a previous agreement with the British Government would undoubtedly "excite a violent outbreak of public feeling in the Australian colonies." Lord Derby was a party to this communication to the Italians, and it was absurd for the Cabinet and Lord Derby afterwards to argue, when the Germans landed in New Guinea, that steps ought not to have been taken in advance to have prevented such action. The difference was that we were willing to bully Italy, and not willing to stand up to Germany.'

The Colonial Secretary's general attitude upon these matters may be illustrated from a correspondence which passed between him and Sir Charles in the autumn of this year. Replying to criticisms concerning the Australian Colonies, Lord Derby

'somewhat sneeringly observed that in order to keep out foreign convicts "it is not necessary that they should annex every island within a thousand miles of their coast. They cannot have at once the protection of British connection and the pleasures of a wholly independent foreign policy."'

On this Sir Charles comments:

'Lord Derby had lost all credit with the Conservative party about the time of his resignation of the Secretaryship of State for Foreign Affairs in the Conservative Administration. But he had retained considerable weight with Liberals. During his tenure of the Secretaryship of State for the Colonies in Mr. Gladstone's Administration, he lost his credit with the Liberals as well, and his influence reached a position of decline which makes it difficult even to remember the enormous weight he had possessed in the earliest part of his political career. For many years Lord Derby was the ideal spokesman of the middle man not fiercely attached to either party. Going over this diary in 1900, it is a curious reflection that the immense weight gained by Sir Edward Grey in the period between 1890 and 1900 was similar to that which Lord Derby had enjoyed at the earlier period. Each of them in his time appeared to express, though far from old, the lifelong judgment of a Nestor. Each of them extorted from the hearer or reader the feeling: "What this man says is unanswerable. It is the dispassionate utterance of one who knows everything, and has thought it out in the simplest but the most convincing form." Lord Derby could sum up a discussion better, probably, than anyone has ever done, unless it is Sir Edward Grey. Sir Edward Grey's summing up of a discussion on a difficult problem, such as that presented by the Chinese question, 1897-1900, was better than was to be expected from anyone else, unless it had been the Lord Stanley of, say, thirty-five years before.'

On May 27th

'I dined at Marlborough House at a dinner to meet a little tin soldier cousin in white epaulettes, who was over from Germany ... and (the German Ambassador) Count Munster told me that the French had hoisted their flag on a reef, as he said, within cannon-shot of Jersey, as to the British or neutral nature of which there had long been a dispute between the two Governments.' [Footnote: The Memoir has a note upon this episode of the Ecrehous Books, which led to the publication of Parliamentary papers in June of that year:

'The rocks were not within three miles of the coast of Jersey at low- water mark, and this was the limit of the reservation of the Jersey oyster fishery, and it was upon this fact that the French went. It afterwards appeared that the French flag never had been hoisted on the rocks, but only on a boat which came thither for the purpose of fishing, so that the whole matter was somewhat of a storm in a teacup. It raised, however, another question. The Convention of 1839, which defined the limits of the oyster fishery between Jersey and France, also defined the limits of the exclusive French rights of fishery on all other parts of the coast of the British islands; and some day an Irish Parliament may find interest in Sir Edward Hertslet's "Memorandum as to the French right of fishery upon the coast of Ireland, printed for the Foreign Office on the 5th June, 1883."']

'On May 28th there was a Levee, at which d'Aunay, of the French Embassy, told me that the act of the fishermen at Ecrehous was disavowed by France. "But," he added, "there is perhaps some Challemel in it," an admission which rather weakened the other statement, and it again struck me that it was a pity we had been so rude to Challemel when he was Ambassador.'

Relations with France were going from bad to worse. Not only were they strained by the breach of 1882 over Egypt, but French colonizing aspirations had created trouble in Madagascar. The understanding between the two Great Powers that an "identic attitude" in regard to the Hova people was to be maintained was broken down by France, which under various pretexts intervened by force in Madagascar, claiming a protectorate over certain narrow strips of territory on the north-west coast. This claim was denounced by Lord Granville. Yet 'on October 27th, 1882, there was a dinner at Lord Granville's, at which I met Hartington, Kimberley, and Northbrook.' This meeting of the heads of the military and foreign services discussed the affairs of the Congo, and also Madagascar; 'it was decided against my strong opposition to put no difficulties in the way of the French. 'At this time the growing tension was disagreeably felt, and Sir Charles learnt a month later that the Cabinet of November 28th, 1882, 'had been much frightened at the prospect of trouble with France.'

At this time an Embassy from Madagascar was in Paris to protest against the oppressive policy pursued. An ultimatum was presented which left the envoys no option but to depart, and they came with their bitter complaint to London, where Sir Charles Dilke very warmly espoused their cause:

'At this moment, December 1st, 1882, I was having difficulties with Lord Granville about Madagascar, as I was seeing much of the Malagasy envoys, and was very friendly to them; whereas Lord Granville was frightened of the French. A deputation came to us, got up by Chesson, Secretary of the Aborigines' Protection Society, and introduced by Forster; it suggested American arbitration, and Lord Granville threw much cold water upon the scheme.'

A few days later he adds:

'I was still at this moment fighting for my Malagasy friends. Not only did Lord Granville snub me, but Courtney wrote from the Treasury: "I hope you will get rid of these people as soon as possible. Even the Baby Jenkins sees the absurdity of the anti-French feeling." But whatever "Ginx's Baby" might do, I could not see the absurdity of the anti-French feeling with regard to Madagascar, for the French were wantonly interfering with an interesting civilized black people in whose country they had not even trade, for All the trade was in American, British, or German hands.

'On December 15th, 1882, there was a fresh trouble, for Lord Granville was furious at a speech by Lord Derby, and, indeed, I never knew him so cross about anything at all. The difficulty was once more Madagascar. Lord Granville meant to do nothing about Madagascar, but he did not like Lord Derby saying so in public. It spoiled his play, by allowing his French adversary to look over his hand and see how bad the cards were.'

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