Replying to a common argument, he said: 'Want of money will not cause Russia to terminate the war. Machiavelli has truly said that nothing is more false than the common belief that money is the sinews of war.'
The conference failing, all Ambassadors were withdrawn from the Porte, and Russia continued to parley with the other Powers. 'Early in March, 1877, a draft Protocol regarding the expectation of the Powers with regard to Turkish reforms was handed to Lord Derby, who promised to sign if Russia would promise to disarm.' Russia specified the conditions on which she would 'disarm,' and Lord Derby then signed the Protocol, but added a declaration that his signature should be null unless disarmament followed both in Russia and Turkey. This, in Sir Charles's judgment, was tantamount to a refusal to sign, because Lord Derby must have known that Turkey would never grant, except under coercion, the conditions on which Russia had consented to disarm. "All Turkish promises are of one material— paper," he said, and in severely criticizing the action of the Government added: "The unreformed state of Turkey is, and will continue to be, the greatest standing menace to the peace of Europe."
Further, at the same moment England again separated herself from the other Powers by sending an Ambassador—Mr. Layard—to Constantinople, 'to which the Turks replied: "The Porte is very sensible of this delicate mark of attention."'
The effect was to encourage Turkey to count on English support, and Russia, unable to secure concerted action, declared war single-handed.
Thus, not only was the result missed which Sir Charles desired and thought possible—namely, the restoration of order by joint action of Europe—but the way was paved for another result which he deplored—the extension of Russia's influence, and even of her territorial sway.
As his speeches gave the story of the European position, so his diary provides a commentary on that story from within:
'Things generally were in a disturbed condition at this moment. The Eastern Question, which was to be so prominent for the next four years, had grown critical, and Bourke, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs (afterwards Lord Connemara and Governor of Madras), said to me at the House of Commons: "The one thing that astonishes me is the confidence of people in Lord Derby." Now, Lord Derby was his chief. This proved pretty clearly that Mr. Disraeli was, in fact, his own Foreign Secretary, and had made up his mind that Lord Derby should "go." [Footnote: Lord Derby did not "go" till the spring of 1878.]
'June 28th, 1876, is the date of the first of my letters mentioning the Eastern Question. It is from Auberon Herbert: "We are sure to get into some frightful trouble if Dizzy is to be allowed uninterruptedly to offer what sacrifices he will on the altar of his vanity. You all seem to me to be living in Drowsy Hollow, while Dizzy is consulting his imagination, and Hartington politely bowing. What can you all be doing? Is it the hot weather? Or are all of you secretly pleased at England's 'determined attitude'? Please, dear Neros, cease fiddling for a short time, and let us poor, harmless, innocent-minded country- folk have some assurance that you are not going to fight all Europe.... You sleepy and unfaithful guardians." ...
'Although I was the first politician to make a speech upon the Bulgarian massacres, [Footnote: See reference to Eugene Schuyler's letter in speech of August, 1876, p. 207.] I afterwards refused to follow Mr. Gladstone into what was called the "atrocity agitation," because I feared that we should find ourselves plunged into a war with Turkey in alliance with Russia, of which I should have disapproved.'
He subscribed, however, to the funds of those who took charge of the fugitives on both sides.
The agitation offended him by its extravagance. "If Gladstone goes on much longer, I shall turn Turk," he wrote to Sir William Harcourt. There was general disquiet in the Liberal party. On October 10th, 1876, Sir William Harcourt wrote:
"Things here are in the most damnable mess that politics have ever been in in my time. Gladstone and Dizzy seem to cap one another in folly and in pretence, and I do not know which has made the greatest ass of himself. Blessed are they that hold their tongue and wait to be wise after the event. To this sagacious policy you will see we" (i.e., the Hartington section) "have adhered, and shall adhere. I had a long letter from Hartington from Constantinople (whither, as you will see, he has prudently retired), full of his usual good sense and caution. I quite concur with him that, though a strong case can be made against the Government for their deliberate status quo policy during the months of June, July, and August, there is little fault to find with what they have been doing since Derby has taken the matter into his own hands in September. There is a decided reaction against Gladstone's agitation. The Brooksite Whigs are furious with him, and so are the commercial gents and the Norwood-Samuda [Footnote: Leading shipowners and Members of Parliament.] lot, whose pecuniary interests are seriously compromised. The Bucks election [Footnote: This by- election, on September 22nd, 1876, was consequent on Mr. Disraeli's acceptance of a Peerage. The Conservative (Hon. T. F. Fremantle) beat the Liberal (Mr. R. Carington, brother to Lord Carrington), but only by 186 votes on a poll of over 5,000.] has a good smell for Dizzy. All the Rothschild tenants voted Tory, though, to save his own skin, Nat. went on Carington's committee. The Rothschilds will never forgive Gladstone and Lowe for the Egyptian business. Chamberlain and Fawcett ... are using the opportunity to demand the demission of Hartington and the return of Gladstone. But you need not ... prepare for extreme measures."
By the same post came a letter from Mr. Chamberlain, who declared that he was "not Gladstonian," but considered that—
"After all, he is our best card. You see Forster's speech—trimming as usual, and trying to dish the Radicals by bidding for the Whigs and Moderates. Gladstone is the best answer to this sort of thing, and if he were to come back for a few years he would probably do much for us, and pave the way for more. Lord Hartington ... is away and silent, besides which he is pro-Turk. If Gladstone could be induced formally to resume the reins, it would be almost equivalent to a victory, and would stir what Bright calls 'the masses of my countrymen' to the depths."
Sir Charles's own considered opinion was written to Sir William Harcourt on October 16th:
"I, as you know, think Hartington the best man for us—the Radicals— because he is quite fearless, always goes with us when he thinks it safe for the party, and generally judges rightly—or takes the soundest advice on this point. In fact, I don't think he's ever made a mistake at all—as yet; but Chamberlain seems, by a sort of quasi- hereditary Birmingham position, to look at him as Bright used to look at Palmerston. This is serious, because Chamberlain is a strong man and does not easily change, unlike the other member of our triumvirate, Cowen, who is as fickle as the wind, one day Hartington, one day you, one day Gladstone, and never seeming to know even his own mind."
Mr. Gladstone's return to leadership was more and more assured, but he would not find his old antagonist face to face with him in the House of Commons. At the close of the Session of 1876 Sir Charles had unknowingly witnessed a great withdrawal.
'On the night of August 11th I had listened to Mr. Disraeli's last speech as a Commoner, and had noticed that on leaving the House in a long white overcoat and dandified lavender kid gloves, leaning on his secretary's arm, he had shaken hands with a good many people, none of whom knew that he was bidding farewell to the House of Commons.'
This withdrawal marked no lessening of power. As Sir Charles had perceived, Disraeli was his own Foreign Secretary, and a Foreign Minister's influence gained by being exercised in the House of Lords. Meanwhile, in Gladstone's absence the Liberal party seemed broken and divided beyond hope of recovery. In the country, though the campaign launched by the Bulgarian pamphlet had seemed so immediately effective that a Tory county member said to Mr. Gladstone, "If there were a dissolution now, I should not get a vote," yet the reaction, spoken of in Harcourt's letter to Dilke on October 10th, very quickly developed. Those who supported Mr. Gladstone identified themselves unreservedly with the Slav as against the Turk. But by others the demand for ejection of the Turk, "bag and baggage," from Bulgaria was construed as an invitation for Russia to seize Constantinople, and thus as a direct infringement of British interests in Egypt and the Mediterranean. Lord Beaconsfield skilfully played upon this feeling, and there ensued a condition of affairs in which Mr. Gladstone made triumphal progresses through the north of England, and was hooted weekly in the streets of London.
Sir Charles himself was in a great difficulty, being as he says, 'anti- Russian without being for that pro-Turk.' Sharing to the full the general detestation of these massacres, of which the earliest complete exposure had been made public [Footnote: See p. 207, Schuyler's letter.] by him, he held that there ought to be armed intervention. But he knew too much of Russia's action in conquered provinces to feel that the matter could be settled satisfactorily by allowing Russian influence to replace Turkish control.
What was more, he knew that in 1870, when Russia repudiated the Black Sea article in the Treaty of Paris, March 30th, 1856, Mr. Gladstone's Government had pressed the Powers of Europe to make general the Tripartite Treaty, April 27th, 1856, 'Our Government (Gladstone-Granville) proposed to answer the Russian Circular by extending the Tripartite Treaty to all the Powers, and it was only Germany's refusal that stopped it.' By this treaty, 'France, Austria, and the United Kingdom bound themselves to consider any breach of the Treaty of Paris, 1856, or any invasion of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, as a casus belli.' In other words, the Liberal Government had been anxious in 1870 that all the Powers should guarantee for all time the power of the Turk in its full extension, though Turkish methods were in 1870 and before it no other than they revealed themselves at Batak in 1876. Sir Charles thought that, as Liberals had been precipitate in their desire to guarantee Ottoman integrity in 1870, so now they were precipitate in their Pan-Slavism. Moreover, the vacillation of the Liberal leaders had put a weapon into the hands of the Government. 'Fancy what a temptation to the present Government to publish the despatches,' notes Sir Charles, in comment on Sir William Harcourt's remark 'that the Tripartite Treaty discussion would be a mine of gunpowder to the Liberal Front Bench.'
He set forth his position in a speech to his constituents at Kensington on January 9th, 1877. He condemned Lord Derby, who had neither "the energy nor the force of character to fit him for the post of Foreign Secretary," and whose policy had left them at the close of 1876 in "absolute isolation." Yet, "on the other hand, he marvelled to see Radicals, for years the enemies of Russian autocracy, propose the immediate adoption of the policy of Canon Liddon and of the Emperor Alexander." [Footnote: Dr. H. P. Liddon and Dr. Malcolm MacColl were conspicuous as enthusiastic supporters of Mr. Gladstone's campaign.] And he went on to depict what that policy might mean:
"The world could not afford to see 120,000,000 of Slavs united under the sceptre of an absolute despot, holding at Constantinople the strongest position in all Europe, stretching from the Adriatic to Kamskatka and the Behring Straits, and holding in Corea the strongest position in the Pacific." Then he recalled the record of "that Power with which the Liberals of England were to strike alliance—an absolute autocracy of the purest type, the Power which crushed Poland, the Power which crushed Hungary for Austria." And by what methods! The long story of violation "both of the public and the moral law" was repeated, with citation of British Ministers who had spoken in fierce condemnation of, Russian methods; the decoration of Mouravief, the "woman-flogging General," was set off against the promotion of Chefket Pasha. He himself had seen in 1869 "long processions of Polish exiles, who were still being sent by hundreds into the solitudes of Siberia." In Turkestan General Kaufmann had ordered a massacre of women and children, and Kaufmann, "loaded with favours by the Emperor Alexander, still ruled in Turkestan." It was a vehement denunciation of the autocracy of Russia, and he notes that he had never before so moved his hearers. To his attack on the Russian Government were added some severe strictures on the barbarities perpetrated by Servians, and by Mr. Gladstone's special favourites, the Montenegrins, inhabitants of "countries whose civilization had not sufficiently progressed to allow of the belief that they were the unselfish champions of an outraged Christianity."
Holding these views, and holding them the more strongly because they were the outcome of personal experience and knowledge laboriously acquired, he was in a considerable degree isolated, not only from the Liberal party as a whole, but even from that more intimate organization whose existence was already recognized in the autumn of 1876, when Mr. Knowles asked him to write in the Nineteenth Century on the "New Party."
His closest associate, now and henceforward, was Mr. Chamberlain, who in 1877 stayed a great deal in Sloane Street, and Dilke notes that in February of that year he was giving dinners almost every night to introduce the member for Birmingham to London. But the "New Party," when Mr. Knowles made his unsuccessful request, consisted
'of Chamberlain and myself and Cowen in the House of Commons, and Morley outside of it.... As Chamberlain and Cowen failed to agree upon any subject whatever, the House of Commons portion of the party soon dwindled to two leaders, in the persons of Chamberlain and myself, who, however, picked up one faithful follower in Dillwyn. From September, 1876, to April, 1880, there did exist a very real and very influential, but little numerous, party, consisting of Chamberlain and myself, followed blindly by dear old Dillwyn, and supported in the Press by Morley. As Randolph Churchill afterwards said to me, shaking his head over Balfour's desertion: "When you and Chamberlain were together, your party was not too large." He had begun with four (three regular and one half-attached), and found it certainly one, perhaps two, and I sometimes think three, too many, though Wolff indeed followed him almost as steadily as Dillwyn followed us.'
For a time the "New Party" consisted of six. Mr. Edmund Dwyer Gray, an Irish Nationalist, owner of the Freeman's Journal, was of it, but soon dropped out, and for a time Mr. Burt—Father of the House in 1910—was also included.
At the beginning of 1877 summons was sent to a meeting before the opening of Parliament, to which Mr. Chamberlain replied solemnly: "The party will be complete." Further solemnity was added by the holding, at 76, Sloane Street, of a Queen's Speech dinner in due form on the eve of the Session, but—
'the dinner of six members, which assembled democratically without dressing in order to suit Burt's habits, was not graced by that copy of the Queen's Speech which is sent by Government to the leaders of the regular Opposition.'
The "New Party" of 1876-77 differed notably in one respect from the other small and influential group of which it was the forerunner. It had no leader.
'On Saturday, February 17th, Chamberlain dined with the Prince of Wales. In noting the invitation in my diary I put down: "The Prince of Wales has asked Chamberlain to dinner for Saturday. I call this 'nobbling my party.'" But the possessive pronoun with regard to the party was not according to my custom. We always said that the party consisted of three in all—two leaders and a follower—and Dillwyn acknowledged Chamberlain and myself as equal leaders.'
'On July 4th I drove Dillwyn down to Chiswick to the Duke of Devonshire's garden party. The Prince of Wales was there, and gave Dillwyn a very friendly bow, whereupon I asked Dillwyn how he came to know him so well, to which "the party" answered that he had shot pigeons with him; and on my reproaching my old friend for indulging in such sport, he said that he not only shot pigeons, but that the Prince had been so struck with his shooting that he had asked who the old gentleman was "who looked like a Methodist parson and shot like an angel."'
At the beginning of 1877, when they were still six, division existed even in that small group on the burning question of the hour. Mr. Cowen was strongly influenced by his intercourse with a settlement of Poles at Newcastle, and—
'although his anti-Russian views were only the same as my own, yet he allowed them, as I think, without reason, to drive him into a position of support of the Government which from this time forward separated him from the Liberal party.'
None of Sir Charles's other colleagues approached the Eastern Question entirely on its own merits as distinct from party. His study of foreign politics had, however, forced him to understand the issues, and thus his position was rendered difficult: 'I was anti-Russian, and in this with Hartington. On the other hand, I was for avowed intervention in the East, and in this more extreme than Mr. Gladstone.' But at the same time his exceptional competence in the discussion brought him steadily to the front. Without any sacrifice of independent judgment he found himself increasingly consulted.
His Memoir gives, therefore, an interesting picture of the movement of opinion in the Liberal party. At the beginning of the Session, when it was known that Lord Salisbury had advocated active interference in the name of Europe, Sir Charles found that 'only Harcourt and the Duke of Argyll were for strong action in the sense of coercion of Turkey.' The Duke, however, soon made two converts, and Dilke wrote to his brother on January 6th, 1877:
"Lord Granville and Lord Hartington will, I am delighted to say, speak for concerted intervention. The only man who strongly opposed their doing so was Mr. Gladstone, who ran away from his own views." Against this Sir Charles notes later: 'Both at the meeting of Parliament in 1877, and also later on in the Session in the case of his own memorable resolutions.'
'Mr. Gladstone had in private conversation told Harcourt that such a course as European intervention to coerce Turkey "should only be resolved upon after much deliberation." To this Harcourt had retorted: "Well, Mr. Gladstone, if people outside knew what you were saying, they might reflect it was you that hung the bag of powder on the door."'
On February 11th Sir Charles noted, 'Harcourt has got frightened and has gone back,' fearing a division in the House of Commons on which Henry Richard and the peace men would either support the Government or abstain from voting, lest intervention should mean war.
Thus party feeling fluctuated. On February 16th, 1877, Sir Charles's diary recorded that 'the popular name for our Front Bench with the London mob is "Bag and baggage Billy and his long-eared crew."' This showed that 'in the popular mind the personality of Mr. Gladstone had finally triumphed over that of Hartington.'
At this moment Sir Charles's views coincided with those of Lord Hartington to the extent of being anti-Russian, and, as already seen, he was more drawn by personal feeling to him than to any of the various leaders. Mr. Forster and Mr. Goschen seemed to him inclined to what a letter of Harcourt's called "the old facing-both-ways style," and the magic of Mr. Gladstone's personality never exercised its spell on Dilke. But he liked Lord Hartington personally, and liked also Lord Hartington's ally, the Duchess of Manchester, who, he says—
'used to try very hard to pick up political information for Lord Hartington; but her own strong Conservative prejudices and her want of clearness of head made her by no means a useful guide, and in fact the wonder to me always was to see how Hartington's strong common sense kept him from making the mistakes into which she always tried by her influence to press him.'
That was written after an interview which Sir Charles had with her, at her request, on January 8th, 1877. The Duchess had read a report of a speech of his, in which 'I lectured on the Franco-German War, and condemned the taking of territory as bound to lead to further wars.' On February 10th he met her again to discuss the difficulties which were beginning to spring up, since Mr. Gladstone's sudden access of activity, as to the leadership of the party. In this matter Sir Charles kept himself 'absolutely independent, going now with one and now with the other, with mere regard to the opinions which they put forward.... I had a full knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes,' although, because he was not in complete agreement with either party among the Liberal leaders, he 'had not the complete confidence of either side.'
This detachment of attitude adds the more weight to the judgment which is passed in the following detailed review of the situation as it was in the spring of 1877:
'At this moment' (February 18th, 1877) 'London was a centre of intrigue. But my interest in the Eastern Question had nothing to do with persons, and was an honest one, and I found myself able to act only with those who had no candidate of their own for the leadership of the party, or who, like Lord Granville, were brought to a similar position by the conflict between party loyalty and a personal affection for Mr. Gladstone, and I was able therefore at this moment to act more steadily with Lord Granville than with any other leading member of the Liberal party. He was jealous of Lord Hartington, but he was loyal to him as the party chief. Towards Mr. Gladstone he was affectionate, but not blind.' [Footnote: Sir Charles summarises here a memorandum he drew for Lord Granville for the debate on February 19th, used then and on several other occasions. He pointed out that the Government policy, since the failure of the Conference, of leaving things alone, was safe for the moment, but it did nothing for the Eastern Christians, gave no satisfaction to the demands made in the name of the Queen by Lord Derby on September 21st, 1876, offered no bridge to Russia for the avoidance of war, and therefore left the Turkish Empire and British interests exposed to the gravest danger. Concerted action was the course Liberals desired.]
'There can be no doubt that many were making use of the Eastern Question for the purpose of advancing their particular views as to the leadership of the party. When men have to use other men as tools for the execution of any plan, it is difficult for them to refrain from that tricky handling of them which is best for the immediate end, but debases both the user and the used. To sway men by knowledge of their weaknesses is the task of a charlatan rather than of a statesman. Mr. Gladstone, with all his inconsistency upon the Eastern Question, and in spite of the fact that he had only just seen evils which had always been there, had that which the others lacked, moral conviction, and Hartington was infected with moral indifferentism. The Conservatives no doubt thought that Mr. Gladstone's attitude was mere emotional facility, a mere exhibition of spasmodic power of transient enthusiasm, an effect rather of temperament than of conviction, and unlikely therefore to produce a continued consequence of action sustained at a high level. The public, however, saw more clearly. Power over the moral fibre of other natures is not given to those whose own nature is wanting in this moral force, and Mr. Gladstone's attitude on the Eastern Question, in spite of his contradictions and of his occasional running away from the consequences of his own acts, was appreciated with accuracy by that large section of the public which ultimately followed him.'
To this estimate should be added the record of a talk which passed in June of the same year at a dinner party, where Sir Charles, 'along with Matthew Arnold, Bowen, afterwards Lord of Appeal, and Frederick Pollock,' discussed 'what is known as moral force':
'I upheld the view that to me Gathorne Hardy (although I never agreed in a word which the future Lord Cranbrook said) possessed moral force in the highest degree, but that this moral force was one which I felt had only prejudice behind it. Still to me the intense conviction of the man gave him immense strength, and made him the most really eloquent Englishman to whom I had ever listened. Gladstone, I thought, had moral force, because he believed in the particular thing of which he was speaking at the particular moment at which he spoke. I somewhat differed from the others with regard to Bright, thinking that he was seldom really in earnest, although I admitted that no man gave more strongly the impression of earnestness to his hearers, and therefore no man had "moral force" in a higher degree.... Courtney (who had come in during the autumn of 1876) and Fawcett both have "moral force."'
In March, 1877, the last stage was reached in those long-drawn negotiations by which the statesmen of Europe endeavoured to avoid war, and the declaration which Lord Derby attached in the name of England to the Protocol of London was virtually a refusal to assent to coercion of Turkey. Acting as leader of the Opposition, Lord Hartington asked Dilke to 'sketch a vote of censure on the declaration.' In the debate which took place on April 13th (the day after Russia declared war against Turkey)—
'I spoke at great length, but too late for good reports, and by my "gospel of selfishness" and other similar phrases raised ringing cheers and counter-cheers, which for some time stopped my going on. I felt after this day no longer afraid to stand up to anyone upon the other side, but I noted that if Mr. Disraeli had been still in the House I should not have hoped to have escaped as I did, after saying all I had said of his colleagues in a full house, and coining such a phrase of their proceedings as "gospel of selfishness"; but that which struck me most in the whole debate was above all the want of statesmanlike suggestion.'
A week after the declaration of war it seemed all but certain that Great Britain must be drawn into the conflict; and Sir Charles—
'prepared (on April 20th, 1877) a resolution, which put on record my opinions, and stated that the House regretted the failure of the policy of the Government either to improve the position of Christian subjects of the Porte or to avert war. It also regretted their unwillingness to co-operate with any other of the European Powers.'
But the Liberal party as a whole was not able to formulate any such clear conclusion. Within a week Mr. Gladstone had determined to break away from the "upper official circles of Liberalism," and to move a series of Resolutions, which were actually drafted on April 26th, but the existence of which did not become generally known till the 29th.
'29th April.—Took Chamberlain to a party at Lord Houghton's, where Lord and Lady Salisbury were leading figures, and where was Harcourt, boiling over with rage at Mr. Gladstone, whose Resolutions had just been heard of. Gladstone will very probably split the Liberal party into two factions, but I do not see that he could have avoided doing as he has done. Chamberlain and I and Fawcett must vote with him. Cowen will vote against him, although if principles and not persons were in question he must vote the other way. Gladstone will move a string of resolutions, of which only one will touch the past—namely, one to condemn the Turks for not carrying out the sentences on their officers employed in the Bulgarian massacres. The main one, which touches the future, will, I believe, bind over the Government not to give aid to Turkey. His speech will be very fine.'
The "upper official circles" met, and in full conclave decided to separate themselves publicly from Mr. Gladstone.
More serious still, this decision to oppose their colleague and quondam leader was communicated to the Press. But on May 5th reconciliation was effected. Concerning this Lord Morley says:
"What was asked was that he (Mr. Gladstone) should consent to an amended form of his second resolution, declaring more simply and categorically that the Turk by his misgovernment had lost his claims."
Gladstone himself wrote that the change was "little more than nominal." But Sir Charles's Memoir of the time shows at once how far the schism had gone, and also how different a view was taken of the alteration by some of Mr. Gladstone's supporters:
'On May 3rd I noted in my diary: "The Liberal party will next week cease to exist. I have already eighty-eight names of men who will vote with Gladstone, and, the Front Bench having foolishly decided to support the previous question, the party will be equally divided, and Hartington will resign. Gladstone will, I think, refuse to lead. Hartington will be asked to come back, but Goschen's friends may spoil the absolute unanimity of the request, and Hartington then refusing, Goschen would succeed. This seems to be the Goschen intrigue. I am sincerely sorry. The Front Bench people might perfectly well have voted against the 'previous question' on the ground that they support the first resolution, and yet have spoken against Gladstone's later resolutions."' He added later: 'I have still in my possession (1890) the list of the party as made up by me, showing who would have voted with Mr. Gladstone, who would have voted with Lord Hartington, ... and who had stated that they would abstain. The analysis is of interest, as the facts have never been made known.' [Footnote: For analysis see Appendix at end of this chapter, p. 223.]
The outcome was a day in which Mr. Gladstone had to sustain singlehanded from half-past four to seven a Parliamentary wrangle of the most embarrassing kind, concerning the alteration of the form (and possibly the substance) of his original motion, and then to speak for another two hours and a half.[Footnote: See Life of Gladstone, vol. ii., chap, iv., p. 565.]
'At the last moment Mr. Gladstone executed a sudden change of front, which prevented a break-up of the party, but made his own position somewhat foolish. I was lunching with old Mrs. Duncan Stewart to meet Mrs. Grote and Lady Aberdare, the wife of Mr. Gladstone's former colleague (Bruce, the Home Secretary), when I heard what was to happen. But publicity was only given to the change at the last moment.
'On May 8th I recorded in my diary that "Gladstone's noble delivery of his peroration last night saved the evening from being a complete fiasco, but only just saved it. The Duke of Westminster, who was to have presided at the meeting at St. James's Hall, absented himself on account of the change of front; but the meeting was not told that the third and fourth resolutions were to be withdrawn. Both Gladstone and also the rest of the Front Bench people are in the wrong—he for moving at all in a sense hostile to Lord Hartington unless he meant to go through with the thing, and they for not finding a better way out. Such a way was clear last night. If Hartington had given notice of a direct vote of censure on the new reply to Russia published yesterday, as he might have done consistently with his views, Gladstone could have withdrawn in face of it."'
A general note on his personal difficulties follows later:
'In August (1877) I was again embarrassed by my attitude upon the Eastern Question. The fact that, being responsible, we had neglected to be humane, or to be politic, during the previous one-and-twenty years in which we might have taken the lead—might have insisted upon reform in Turkey and fostered the possibilities of self-government in the dependent States—made it difficult to approve the sudden activity which the conduct of the Turks in their straits called forth on the part of many Liberal politicians. Action might doubtless have been taken by us at any time between the Crimean War and the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War, but, as the opportunity had been neglected, it was difficult to inaugurate such a policy under pressure of the atrocities agitation....
'The new position of the Eastern Question, although it did not unite me with Mr. Gladstone, made a political breach between myself and Hartington. He fell more and more under the somewhat stupid influence of his surroundings, and I, holding a position between the two wings of the party, found few with whom I myself agreed. Randolph Churchill... made advances towards me which led to joint action, as will be seen, in 1878. But in the autumn of '77 I was isolated, for Chamberlain went, although with moderation, with Mr. Gladstone's agitation.'
'The division of the party was a very singular one. The Whigs were divided; the Radicals were divided; the wild Irish were divided, for the wild Irish at this particular moment were receiving the Liberal whip, and were, accordingly, on the party lists. On the whole, out of 296 members who were at this moment receiving the Liberal whip, about 110 had pronounced for Mr. Gladstone, and about 110 for Lord Hartington against Mr. Gladstone, the remainder, who included a majority of the Irish, having announced their intention of walking out, or having refused to take sides.... With Lord Hartington and against Mr. Gladstone were, of course, nearly all the Front Bench, even those who at first promised to support Mr. Gladstone having seen fit to change under pressure. One curious fact about my list is the large number of persons at first marked with a single line, as having promised Mr. Gladstone, and afterwards altered to crosses as having yielded under Front-Bench pressure. The Basses were with Lord Hartington; Sir Thomas Bazley, leader of the middle-class Lancashire Whigs, who at first had gone with Mr. Gladstone, had gone over to Lord Hartington. The Beaumonts were with Lord Hartington, as were the Brasseys. The two Brights, John and Jacob, who at first had been expected to support Mr. Gladstone, had finally decided, under peace influences, to support Lord Hartington, on the ground that his policy was less likely than that of Mr. Gladstone to bring about an armed intervention. Campbell-Bannerman was frankly with Lord Hartington from the first; and Lord Frederick and Lord Edward Cavendish went with their brother, although Lord Frederick Cavendish was one of Mr. Gladstone's dearest friends. Childers knew no doubts, but Joe Cowen's support of Hartington was more peculiar. Peace men, like Sir Wilfrid Lawson, who disapproved the Crimean War, were perhaps in their right place in supporting Lord Hartington's opposition to Mr. Gladstone's resolutions; but Cowen and his set, such as Norwood and Leatham, went with Lord Hartington chiefly, I think, on account of their bitter personal hatred for Mr. Gladstone. J. K. Cross, afterwards to be Under-Secretary of State for India, went with Hartington, against our expectation; but the joint weight of Devonshire influence and the Brights was too much for Lancashire. Cowper Temple, de Grey (afterwards lady Ripon), and Grant Duff were with Lord Hartington, as was to be expected. Ellice, and Evans of Derbyshire, representative Whigs, separated themselves from such other ordinary Whigs as Leveson-Gower and Young, and went with Hartington. Fitzmaurice separated himself from Fawcett and me and Chamberlain and Courtney, and pronounced, after some hesitation, for Hartington. W. E. Forster, the two Goldsmids, Goschen, Harcourt, and Hayter, were, of course, with Hartington, as was also Herschell. Sir Henry James could no more be expected to separate himself from Hartington than could Nigel Kingscote, Knatchbull-Hugessen, or Lord Kensington, the Second Whip.... Stansfeld supported Hartington, as did very naturally Sir N. de Rothschild (afterwards Lord Rothschild), the Marquis of Stafford, Lord Tavistock, and Mr. Roebuck (who, oddly enough, received our whip, though he never voted with us unless we went wrong). Trevelyan went with Hartington—a thing which had been less expected than the support of Hartington by Mr. Villiers, by Mr. Whitbread, and by Walter of the Times.... Mr. Biggar characteristically stated to various people that he should vote against Hartington, for Hartington, and not at all.... Mr. Butt from the first declared that he should not compromise his party by taking part in the division.... Parnell, like Butt, from the first said that he should abstain.... P. J. Smyth, the orator of the Irish party, or who might perhaps rather be described as forming a party in himself, for he was not a Home Ruler, but a Repealer, also, after at first intending to support Mr. Gladstone, decided not to vote.'
HOME POLITICS AND PERSONAL SURROUNDINGS
In a week spent in Paris at the end of 1876 Sir Charles stayed with Gambetta, and took occasion to bring about a meeting between him and Sir William and Lady Harcourt, who were also in Paris. With Sir William Harcourt was his son and inseparable companion Mr. Lewis Harcourt, who recalls a day when Sir Charles said to him: "Now, Loulou, I want you to come and have lunch with me by yourself; I'm not asking your father and mother to-day." He remembers his pride in going off to the Cafe Anglais, where they were met by a man with a big black beard. "This, Loulou, is Monsieur Gambetta." The two men talked, and the boy listened, as he was well used to do, for in those days he constantly "ran about beside his father like a little dog." After lunch they went for a drive, and still the men talked, and Gambetta pointed to the window from which he had proclaimed the Republic, and Dilke showed where he had lain for half a day while the French troops were besieging the French of Paris. The boy listened eagerly—to understand, years after, how the whole drive had been planned for his edification and delight.
Since August, 1876, Gambetta had been talking of a visit, proposing, says Sir Charles, to "come to me in town, and probably bring Challemel-Lacour also to 76, Sloane Street." The visit was to be purely private and social; "he will receive no deputations, no addresses, and will visit no provincial towns."
'It was in 1876 that he sent to me a certain Gerard, who became French reader to the Empress Augusta of Germany, and it is supposed that the somewhat brilliant volume called The Society of Berlin, long afterwards published under the name of Count Paul Vasili by Madame Adam (although not the later volumes of the same series, which were by Vandam), was from Gerard's pen. Gambetta, when he came to power as Prime Minister, appointed Gerard, who was then in the Legation at Washington, his private secretary, Georges Pallain being the second, and Joseph Reinach the third. But Pallain and Reinach, in fact, exercised the functions, because Gambetta fell before Gerard arrived. Gerard is now (1909) an Ambassador.'
Just before Dilke's visit to Gambetta in the spring of 1877 another indication of his popularity in France occurred. 'Gavard had come to me from the French Embassy to ask me whether I should like to go to Paris with Sir Louis Mallet to arrange a new French Treaty, as "his Government would like me."' The proposal fell through. As Sir Charles said, 'the Government could not well, I think, have sent two Liberals at the head of the Commission.' Mallet
'was a very experienced official, not, however, very successful at the Board of Trade, and greatly given to grumble and growl. He held the mildly reciprocitarian views in which he followed Mill and expanded Cobden's opinions, and was thought by us to be the author of the Letters of a Disciple of Richard Cobden, the circulation of which by the Cobden Club, at his own request, nearly destroyed that institution. He afterwards left the Board of Trade for the India Office, where he became permanent Under-Secretary of State, on which occasion Grant Duff said, "Mallet will be happy now. He will have two worlds to despair of;" for he generally began each sentence with the words, "I despair," uttered in a deep voice.'
On April 10th, 1877, just before the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War, which seemed as if it might involve all the Great Powers, is this entry of a dinner with the French Minister:
'Went to dine with Gavard, meeting his second and third secretaries, the Italian first secretary, the Dutch Minister (Baron de Bylandt), the Belgian Minister (Solvyns), and "The Viper" (alias Abraham Hayward, Q.C.). Cypher telegrams poured in all through dinner, and portended no good to the peace of Europe. It was, however, a pleasant dinner, in which Hayward and Solvyns had most of the talk to themselves, but made it good talk. Gavard was afterwards accused by the Republican party of having conspired against them, which for his friends seemed always to be a statement in the nature of a joke. I once asked Gambetta if he seriously believed that Gavard had conspired, at which Gambetta shook with laughter in his jovial way, but added that it was absolutely necessary to pretend he had, for other people had conspired in the Embassy, and the head man (in the absence of an Ambassador) must be held responsible in such a case.'
Another diplomatist whom Sir Charles met in the same month was the Comte de Montgelas, first secretary to the Austrian Embassy:
'... A man who played a great part at this time, belonging to a Bavarian family which had furnished a distinguished politician to the Congress of Vienna. He went everywhere, knew everyone, was clever, showy, talkative; but after being one of the leading exponents of the Beaconsfield policy, he was suddenly dismissed by his Government, ... and when, many years afterwards, I again saw him, he had become a servant of the British North Borneo Company. I believe he was too friendly to Bismarck to please Beust (then Austrian Ambassador in London).'
He tells also the story of a 'King-maker':
'The Portuguese Minister in 1876 was the old Duc de Saldanha. This was the man who some years previously, at the age of eighty, being dissatisfied with the state of things in Lisbon, had taken the steamer from Southampton, and, though he was at the time Minister in London, landed at Lisbon, put himself at the head of the Guards, marched on the palace, locked up the King, turned out the Ministers, put in his friends, released the King, and returned by the next steamer to his legation.'
Here too is gossip from Berlin:
'On June 15th, 1877, I breakfasted with Goschen to meet Lord Odo Russell, who was most amusing. He told us that, Bismarck being ill, the Chancellor's temper was so bad as to make him "impossible for his family, his subordinates, and even his Sovereign." He said that Bismarck hates the Empress Augusta with so deadly a hatred as to have lately said to him: "I am not Foreign Secretary. My master's Foreign Secretary is the Empress, whose Foreign Secretary is the French Ambassador, whose Foreign Secretary is the General of the Jesuits."...
'At this time General Grant came to London, and, as I had known him at Washington and he had liked me there, I had to go about a good deal to meet him at his wish, and he also dined with me on June 10th, when I invited him to choose his own party. He knew, however, so few men in London that I had to suggest men to him, and asked him whether he would like to meet Butt as the leader of the Irish party. He said he should, but was very silent all through dinner and until he had begun the second of two big cigars. Then, as usual with him, he began to thaw under the influence of tobacco, and whispered to me—when Butt was talking very pleasantly under the influence of something besides tobacco, and with his enormous, perfectly round face assuming, as it always did after dinner, the appearance of the harvest moon—"Is he a Papist?" to which I replied "No"; whereupon Grant became friendly to him. General Grant's chief weakness, unless that position be assigned to his cigars, was his detestation of the Roman Catholics.'
Many political personages are sketched in passing reference. Here is Roebuck, who in his fierce prime had been known as 'Tear 'em':
'The famous orator and Radical of past days was now a little, shrivelled-up old man, but he was still able to play a great part in the House of Commons, although entirely decayed in mind. His vinegary hatred of Mr. Gladstone, and of the Liberal party generally, uttered from the Liberal side in a piercing treble, was destined to be cheered to the echo for a short time from the Tory benches, and Roebuck, later than this, saw himself made a Privy Councillor by Lord Beaconsfield.'
In January, 1877, is this reference to a force of the future:
'Randolph Churchill and Drummond Wolff to dinner; amusing in the style of Robert Macaire and his man.'
Among more disciplined sections of the Tory party Sir Charles had many friends. One of them, a social figure of great charm and distinction, was Lord Barrington,
'who used, when Mr. Disraeli was leader of the House of Commons, to keep for him the notes which have to be kept by the Prime Minister for the Queen.... Barrington showed me his one night; it began: "Lord Barrington presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and begs to inform your Majesty that..." The Queen in no way showed her favouritism to Mr. Disraeli more than in excusing him from the performance of this tiresome duty, which, however, had the one advantage of giving Mr. Gladstone in his administration something quiet to do during exciting divisions such as those on Bradlaugh....
'Lady Waldegrave pressed me to go to Strawberry Hill on a particular Saturday in the month—the only one, I think, on which, as a fact, I did not go—to meet the Prince of Wales, but as she playfully took me to task at the same time for not attending levees, I connected the two things, and thought she had been asked to speak to me, and declined. I told her that I had left off going to levees in 1865, before I left Cambridge, for no reason except that they bored me; and that if I were suddenly to go, people would think that I had changed my views, and wished it to be known that I had changed them, for they thought that my not going was connected with my opinions, which, however, it was not.'
There is a note early in this year:
'I was engaged at this moment on an attempt to form a circle of friends who would be superior, from the existence with them of a standpoint, to the mere ordinary political world, and I began doing my best to meet frequently those whom I most liked—John Morley, Dillwyn, Leonard Courtney, and Fitzmaurice, prominently among the politicians; and Burton (Director of the National Gallery), Minto, and Joseph Knight, prominently among the artists and men of letters. All these were men with something noble in their natures, or something delicate and beautiful, full of sterling qualities.'
Minto was the well-known man of letters. Joseph Knight, for many years dramatic critic of the Athenaeum, and, later, editor of Notes and Queries, was perhaps the best known and most beloved of Bohemians, a pillar of the Garrick Club, and one of the men to whose tongue came ceaselessly apt and unexpected quotations from Shakespeare. He had the same passion as old Mr. Dilke for accumulating books, and like him, too, was a living catalogue to his own library, or libraries, for he accumulated and sold two in his lifetime.
Another man of letters needs no introduction:
'A wreck of glasses attests the presence of Swinburne. He compared himself to Dante; repeatedly named himself with Shelley and Dante, to the exclusion of all other poets; assured me that he was a great man only because he had been properly flogged at Eton, the last time for reading The Scarlet Letter when he should have been reading Greek; confessed to never having read Helvetius, though he talked of Diderot and Rousseau, and finally informed me that two glasses of green Chartreuse were a perfect antidote to one of yellow, or two of yellow to one of green. It was immediately after this that Theodore Watts- Dunton took charge of him and reduced him to absolute respectability.'
Sir Charles tells stories of a remarkable political and literary personage.
'Lord Houghton's anecdotes were rendered good by the remarkable people that he had known.... He once about this time said to me: "I have known everyone in the present century that was worth knowing." With a little doubt in my mind, I murmured, "Napoleon Bonaparte?" "I was taken to Elba when I was a boy," said Houghton instantly. I thought his recollections of the first Emperor apocryphal. There was, however, a chance that the father—who was in Italy—did take the child to Elba.'
Another story, of which Lord Houghton was not the narrator, but the subject, came to Sir Charles during a party at Lady Pollock's, and concerned the dinner which had preceded the party.
'It had been at seven o'clock in honour of Tennyson, who would not dine at any other hour, and Tennyson sat on one side of the hostess, and Lord Houghton on the other; and the latter was cross at being made to dine at 7, preferring to dine at 8.30, and sup, after dinner, at 11. The conversation turned on a poem which had been written by Tennyson in his youth, and Tennyson observed "I have not even a copy myself—no one has it." To which Lord Houghton answered: "I have one. I have copies of all the rubbish you ever wrote."—A pause.—"When you are dead I mean to publish them all. It will make my fortune and destroy your reputation." After this Tennyson was heard to murmur, "Beast!" It must have been a real pleasure to him to find himself survive his brother poet.
'On the same evening I heard a story (probably a well-known one, but certainly good) of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon's body; how the Government of the day wrote to the Duke to tell him they had agreed to let the French transport the corpse from St. Helena, the Duke being in Opposition at the time; how the answer ran: "F.-M. the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to H.M.'s Ministers. If they wish to know F.-M. the Duke of Wellington's opinion as on a matter of public policy, he must decline to give one. If, however, they wish only to consult him as a private individual, F.-M. the Duke of Wellington has no hesitation in saying that he does not care one twopenny damn what becomes of the ashes of Napoleon Buonaparte."'
Sir Charles had always many friends among artists, and his weekly visit to the National Gallery was rarely intermitted by him even when in office. To the end of his life he maintained the habit of going there whenever he could make time, and always inspecting each new purchase. He kept in touch, too, regularly with the art of his own day, and records his sight of the first exhibition in the still unfinished Grosvenor Gallery. The exhibition did not please him as a whole, though he admired not only Burne-Jones's "Days of Creation," but a picture called "Passing Days," also allegorical, the work of Burne-Jones's disciple, Mr. Strudwick. His taste in art was always personal; Velasquez, the painters' painter, made no appeal to him. He worshipped Perugino and Bellini, rating "The Doge" among the masterpieces of the world; while Raphael had for him degenerated from his master's (Perugino's) perfection into mere expressionless beauty. His appreciations were made with great force and originality, and an old Academician who had accompanied him round galleries once said to the second Lady Dilke (herself a most authoritative judge of painting): "It is always interesting to see what a man like that will admire."
Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Charles's frequent guest at 76, Sloane Street, was usually his companion in picture-seeing. It is also recorded that in the spring of this year Dilke took his friend, 'at an unearthly hour for one of his lazy habits,' to see the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race.
In the matter of music his preferences were no less emphatic, as witness this entry:
'On May 29th I dined with a sister of Edward Levy Lawson, married to a German who was Rubinstein's great friend; and not only Rubinstein, but Joachim, played to the guests. Mrs. Bourke, a sister-in-law of Lord Mayo, was always asked everywhere in London where Joachim was meant to play, inasmuch as she was his favourite accompanist among amateurs. The modesty of the great man led him after dinner, once when I was dining with the Mitfords, when he knew that his time had come, to turn to Mrs. Bourke, who was famous only as shining in his reflected light, and say: "Mrs. Bourke, won't you play us something, and I will just come in with my fiddle?" Rubinstein's playing I never liked. To me he seemed only the most violent of all the piano-bangers of the world; but he was literally worshipped by his admirers, and was grand to look at—as fine as Beethoven must have been.'
Early in March of this year occurred the death of George Odger. The working class of London decided to show their great respect by giving him such a funeral ceremony as is rare in England, and Sir Charles walked bareheaded through the streets with the great procession that accompanied the body from the house in High Street, St. Giles's, all the long miles to Brompton Cemetery.
A shrewd observer of Parliaments wrote of Sir Charles at this time:
"There is no more popular man in the House of Commons than he who seven years ago" (it was only five) "was hooted and howled at, and was for many succeeding months the mark of contumely and scorn in all well-conducted journals."
On this statement Sir Charles's diary affords a commentary:
'At this time (April, 1877) there occurred some discussion between Chamberlain and me as to what should be our attitude in the event of the formation of a Liberal Government, and he was willing to accept office other than Cabinet office, provided that it was office such as to give him the representation of his department in the House of Commons. Chamberlain and I found that we could exercise much power through the Executive Committee of the Liberal Central Association, which was a new body which at this time managed the whole of the electoral affairs of the party. It comprised the two Whips ex- officio—the Right Hon. W. P. Adam, and Lord Kensington; and among the other seven members, Chamberlain and I represented the Radicals, and communicated with the union of Liberal associations commonly known as the Birmingham Caucus. Of the others Waddy was there to represent the Methodists; C. C. Cotes [Footnote: M.P. for Shrewsbury. He was a Lord of the Treasury and one of the Whips in Mr. Gladstone's second Government.] and Sir Henry James were there chiefly as amateur whips fond of electoral work; Lord Frederick Cavendish, to represent his brother, the leader of the party; and Whitbread, to strengthen the Whig influence.'
Sir Charles notes here that on June 29th, when he was to second, as usual, Mr. Trevelyan's annual motion concerning franchise and redistribution, he
'had a conference with Chamberlain on the question whether we could possibly get together a small knot of young peers to help us in the House of Lords. Rosebery seemed the only one that we could find worth thinking of, and we had him to dinner, and went to stay with him, and generally tried to join forces, but without any very marked effect.'
Dilke and Chamberlain also sounded the Home Rulers to see if they could find any basis of co-operation; and about this date Sir Charles, with Lord and Lady Francis Conyngham and Butt, and 'in their sitting-room, full of perennial clouds of smoke,' where a captive nightingale sang ('thinking the gas the moon unless he took Butt's face for that luminary of the heavens'), settled with the Irish leader that in following years they should amend Mr. Trevelyan's franchise resolution by moving for the extension of the franchise in counties throughout the United Kingdom; not even Radicals had previously proposed to enlarge the electorate in Ireland.
But in these days the Irish party were beginning to apply and develop that use of Parliamentary forms for obstructive purposes which had been first systematically attempted by the "Colonels" in opposition to Mr. Cardwell's Bill for abolishing purchase in the Army, and Liberals were a little scandalized by their allies. In the close of July Sir John Lubbock, then a Liberal, 'foreshadowed his future Unionism by observing that "the obstructive Irish were the Bashi Bazouks, who did more harm to us by their atrocities than good by their fighting."' A couple of days later, when Liberals supported an Irish amendment, Dilke himself agreed with Mr. Rylands's pun that "they would have had a bigger vote if it hadn't been Biggar." Upon this matter Sir Charles's attitude was naturally affected by that of Butt, in whose company he delighted. The great advocate believed in his own power to effect by eloquence and reasoned argument that change of mind in the British House of Commons which five-and-twenty years' experience of Ireland had wrought in himself since the days when he opposed O'Connell on Repeal, and this led him to resent the methods of unreason. Mr. Parnell, who never believed that England was open to reason in the matter of Ireland, was only beginning to impress his personality on the House; there is but one incidental mention of his name in the Memoir for 1877.
But notwithstanding all the claims of home politics, in Sir Charles's judgment every statesman had, under existing conditions, to study the details of modern warfare, and he kept closely in touch with naval armament:
'On February 24th I suddenly went down to Portsmouth to go over the dockyard and see the ships building there, taking letters from Childers and from Sir Edward Reed to Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock, the Arctic explorer (Superintendent), and to Mr. Robinson, the Chief Constructor. I went over the Inflexible, the Thunderer, and the Glatton, which were lighted up for me. Noting the number of sets of engines, and the number of the separate watertight compartments of the Inflexible, I wrote: "All these extremely complicated arrangements are handed over to a captain, of whom ... is a favourable example, and to engineers who are denied their due rank in command."'
Nearly thirty years later the necessary reform which the last words indicate was carried out by Lord Fisher.
THE EASTERN QUESTION—TREATY OF SAN STEFANO AND CONGRESS OF BERLIN
At the beginning of 1878 Parliament was summoned a month earlier than usual to tranquillize public feeling—a result not thereby attained, for the Russians, now completely victorious, were but a short distance from Constantinople.
Sir Charles returned from Toulon, 'breakfasting with Gambetta on the 14th January,' and on the 15th delivered to his constituents the speech already quoted, which gave a summary of the events leading up to the war, his judgment of the facts as they existed at the time of his speaking being that the Government's whole policy was "isolated, undignified, inconsistent, unsafe." [Footnote: See p. 205]
"We stand alone, absolutely alone, in face of terms of peace which we dislike, but can't resist. Turkey is crushed, about whose integrity the Tory party raved. Russian influence will have risen and English influence fallen in the East. Greece, the anti-Russian friend of England, is not to gain. Servia and Montenegro, the tools of Russia, are to be rewarded. Bulgaria is to owe its freedom, not to Europe, but to Russia."
So much was accomplished fact. It had still to be decided how much farther Russia should be allowed to push her advantage. Upon this he said, speaking "as a European Liberal,"
'I agree with what the first Napoleon said, in those St. Helena days when he was acting Liberalism for the benefit of his historic character and of his line, that "it is necessary to set up a guaranteed kingdom, formed of Constantinople and its provinces, to serve as a barrier against Russia." The open question for discussion is whether the present Turkey serves the purpose....
'Were the choice between Russia at Constantinople and Turkey at Constantinople, I should prefer the latter. The Turkish is in ordinary times a less stifling despotism than the Russian....
'The Turks let any man go to any church and read any book, the Russians do not, and in such a position of power as Constantinople I should prefer the Turk if, as I do not think, the choice lay only there.'
Where else, then, did the choice lie? The answer is that Dilke, in his own words, "dreamed of a new Greece." He spoke of the lands then blighted by the Sultan's Government—of "rose-clad Roumelia and glorious Crete"—of countries held back by Turkish incompetence, that were by Nature incredibly rich—"the choicest parts of Europe, perhaps of the world."
"The Greek kingdom is a failure, we are told. Greece, liberated by the wise foresight of Mr. Canning, but left, on his ill-timed death, without Thessaly, Epirus, Crete, has been starved and shorn by the Great Powers. As once said Lafayette, "the greater part of Greece was left out of Greece." What kind of Greece is a Greece which does not include Lemnos, Lesbos, or Mitylene, Chios, Mount Olympus, Mount Ossa, and Mount Athos? Not only the larger part, but the most Greek part of Greece, was omitted from the Hellenic kingdom. Crete and the other islands, the coast of Thrace, and the Greek colony at Constantinople, are the Greek Greece indeed, for Continental Greece within the limits of the kingdom is by race half Slav and half Albanian. We must not, however, attach too much importance to this fact, for in all times the Greeks have been a little people, grafting themselves on to various barbaric stocks. Race is a small thing by the side of national spirit, and in national spirit the Greeks are as little Slav as the Italians are Teutonic. Even the corrupting influence of long slavery—and it was deep indeed—had not touched this spirit, and the very thieves and robbers of the hills of Greece made for themselves in Byron's days a glorious name in history. I do not think that Greece has failed. I believe in Greece, believe In the ultimate replacement of the Turkish State by powerful and progressive Greece, attached in friendship to France and England, her creators—an outpost of Western Europe in the East; and I think the day will come when even Homer's city may once more be Greek. Those who do not wish to see Slavonic claims pushed much farther than justice needs should speak their word on behalf of Greece."
From this ideal he never swerved, and the authority which he possessed in European politics helped to keep it present before the mind of Europe. Greece knew her friend, and after his death the Municipality of Athens gave his name—hodos Dilke—to a fine street in the true mother city of Hellas. [Footnote: "The name of Sir Charles Dilke is more highly prized in Greece than that of any living Englishman," wrote M. Zinopoulos, General Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior in Greece. "This feeling still survived in 1887, when we went to Athens," adds Sir Charles's note.] He never lived to see Hellenic government extend itself over Turkish fiefs, except in that poor strip of northern territory which, thanks greatly to his exertions, was secured for Greece in 1881. But before this memorial of him could be completed, while those who worked on it were still searching among his papers to reconstitute the projects he had shaped, came the realization of some of his premonitions, and the end of Turkish sway in "the most Greek parts of Greece."
'It was a good speech so far as concerned the position of Russia, of Turkey, and of the Opposition, and in its protest against Manchester Doctrine and in favour of a broader view of foreign policy, but it proposed the annexation of Egypt, a view from which I soon afterwards drew back, and which I did not hold at the time at which it became popular some years later on.'
Upon the main issue which in 1878 lay before the mind of Europe, he was for a partition of the Turkish Empire, though upon condition of keeping Constantinople secured to the Turk. But as to the question of England's going to war, he asked:
"For what are we to fight? Against an extension of Russian boundaries in Armenia which will be slight, and which, if it were great, would be better met by an even greater extension of English territories in Egypt? Against 'the passage of the Dardanelles'—which means in time of war its passage if Russia can—a passage which Russia would equally attempt if she could, but had not the right. Against this we are to fight without allies. Again, let us pray for peace. I will not describe what war must mean—your sons and daughters killed, or lying crippled amid horrors worse than death; the proceeds of your toil wrung from you by new taxes; the dearness of your children's bread. I have seen too much of war. ... No tongue can depict its horrors. ... It is said that the constituencies are warlike, and that party wire- pullers think that war would be "a good card to play." I hope and believe that English constituencies would be warlike if real honour and real interests were at stake. If they are warlike now, it is that they know not war. Are those for war who know its face? ... The day may come when England will have to fight for her existence, but for Heaven's sake let us not commit the folly of plunging into war at a moment when all Europe would be hostile to our arms—not one Power allied to the English cause."
It seemed as if that folly were to be committed. When Parliament opened in January, a declaration of war was foreshadowed by the hint of a demand for funds to make "adequate preparation against some unexpected occurrence."
Nor was there any steady rallying point offered by the Opposition:
'January 17th was the day of the meeting of the House, the Radical Club Dinner having replaced our private Queen's Speech Dinner of 1877. But the disorganization of the Liberal party at this moment was so complete that no Front Bench party was given on the night before Parliament met, and Liberal politicians, or such of them as were asked, had had to do their best to talk at a Tory house—Lady Stanhope's in Grosvenor Place—where I met Harcourt and some of the others. The situation in the debate on the Address was one which ought to have led to successful attack upon the Government. The Queen's Speech was neither of war nor of peace, but of perplexity and division, and gravely informed us that poor Turkey had not interfered with British interests. The discourses of the Ministers were peaceful in the Lower House, and warlike in the Upper. Money was to be asked for in the event of an "unexpected occurrence" happening.'
'Nothing, however, was made of the situation by the Opposition, and I felt more interest therefore for the moment in my proposed political reforms, in which I was on the point of a partial success, [Footnote: 'I introduced my two Bills of the previous year—both destined this year to pass, though one of them after amalgamation with a Conservative Bill—my Hours of Polling Bill and my Registration Bill. I moved for my return, intended to facilitate my action in the direction of redistribution, and got my Select Committee promised me.'] and sheered off from the Eastern Question, with regard to which I felt that in Parliament at the moment I could do no good.'
The speech to his constituents had attracted much attention. Among the personal congratulations which he received he valued most highly those of a great diplomatist and friend, 'high praise from Sir William White.' [Footnote: Sir William White (1821-1891): February 27th, 1875, British Agent and Consul-General in Servia; March 3rd, 1879, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Bucharest, Roumania; April 18th, 1885, Envoy Extraordinary at Constantinople; October 11th, 1886, Special Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Constantinople.] On January 17th he 'received a deputation of London merchants with regard to the Black Sea blockade.'
'On Friday the 18th I dined at Lady Waldegrave's to meet the old Strawberry Hill set—the Duke of Argyll, the Duchess of Manchester, Lord and Lady Granville, Harcourt, James, Ayrton, Lord William Hay, and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hughes—and some people came in after dinner, of whom Sir J. Rose and his daughter (Mrs. Stanley Clarke) warmly congratulated me on my speech. There was a discussion between the Liberals and the Duchess of Manchester, who was in both camps, and Sir John Rose, who as a financier was the same, as to the reasons for Lord Carnarvon's absence from Lord Beaconsfield's Queen's Speech Dinner, but we could not get farther than to learn that "Dizzy had made it unpleasant for him. ..." [Footnote: 'Another matter as to which I was personally interested, though the others seemed hardly to have heard of it, was a communication which had been made to France about Egypt with regard to joint inquiry into the state of finances, a communication all but volunteered by us, and not, I thought, in the least necessary, but which was so strong in terms as to appear to shut the door in the future against any possibility of action on our part other than joint action with the French.']
'On Saturday the 19th Mr. Gladstone sent Lefevre to me, and asked me not to raise the case of Greece at present, as he thought that a combined movement with regard to Greece might soon be made in the House of Commons with some chance of success.
'On the Sunday Drummond Wolff dined with me, very full of the intrigues to get rid of Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon from the Conservative Front Bench, and very hopeful of success, for at this moment the Conservatives were so angry with their two peaceful men that they made no secret of their intention to force them out, and used freely to discuss the situation with the Liberals.
'On January 22nd I started an attempt to get up a Greek Committee, an attempt which was successful, for our little meeting of this day, of Fitzmaurice and Lefevre and myself, with the adhesion by letter of Lansdowne and of Rosebery, led to the private formation of a Committee, afterwards made public, and much enlarged, of which I made Lewis Sergeant secretary, and which was able to do much good in the course of the three next years. ...That night I dined with Mrs. Inwood Jones (Lady Morgan's niece), and met Mr. and Mrs. Stansfeld, Browning, Charles Villiers, Lady Hamilton Gordon, and another man whom I will not name, because I wish to mention that I received from him on that occasion a document relating to Greek affairs, from which I was afterwards able to show how badly our Government had treated Greece, but the origin of which I ought not to reveal.
'On January 23rd Evelyn Ashley, Chamberlain, and I had a meeting with regard to Greek matters, at which we drew up the public declaration to be made on behalf of the friends of Greece.
'On the next day, January 24th, a good many startling events occurred. A War Ministry was formed at Athens; the vote of money was announced in the British Parliament. Lord Carnarvon resigned in the morning, and Lord Derby at night; but Lord Derby's resignation was for a time withdrawn.'
In 'the great debate' on Mr. Forster's motion against the vote of six millions sterling for 'adequate preparation'—a debate which opened on January 31st, and was prolonged to the second week in February—Sir Charles took part on the fourth day. Great interest attaches to this speech in view of all his later work:
'I pointed out that we spend normally on defence or war far more than any other Power: at that time twenty-five millions sterling at home and seventeen millions in India, or forty-two millions in all, swelled in that year by the extraordinary vote to forty-eight millions, while France and Germany spent much less. I was to return to this subject after many years, and when I wrote upon it in 1890, while the Indian expenditure stood at the same sum, the annual expenditure in England had risen to over thirty-eight millions, making the whole fifty-five, and with the rest of the Empire nearly fifty-seven millions sterling.'
A side-note adds: 'It is now (1905) vastly greater.'
As he was the first non-military politician to devote himself to the question of defence and to call public attention to the subject, so this question of wasteful expenditure always occupied his attention. He laid stress on the inadequate return received for naval and military outlay, not only on the popular ground that money was thus deflected from projects of internal reform, but pre-eminently because the nation in time of peace resents heavy defence expenditure, and he feared that the necessary money might not be forthcoming for that naval equipment which he held to be essential to our existence as a Great Power.
But the main burden of his complaint was that now when a Conference was proposed, and when England ought to have gone into the Conference with all the weight of a unanimous people, the bringing forward of a "sham war vote," which was a contradiction of the alleged desire to negotiate, had produced inevitable division of counsels. Before the debate closed came the rumour of an occupation of Constantinople by the Russians, and under the belief that the war vote might be needed in good earnest, Mr. Forster's motion was withdrawn.
'On February 6th ... I dined with Lady Brett and went on to Mrs. Brand's, and at the Speaker's House heard that the Russians had occupied a fort in the Constantinople lines. This lie got out the next day, and was universally believed; and after a panic in the City, Hartington decided, also in a panic, to make W. E. Forster drop the resolutions which he had brought forward at Hartington's request. Hartington saw me, and told me this behind the Speaker's chair before questions. Within an hour after the withdrawal of the resolutions had been mentioned in the House the whole story had been blown into the air by the Russian Ambassador.'
At this period Sir Charles Dilke had entered into relations with Lord Randolph Churchill, who was virtually against the policy of the Government and yet 'open-mouthed in his general dislike of Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon, though in complete agreement with their principles.' The Fourth Party did not yet exist. Nor was it in this Parliament that Lord Randolph achieved ascendancy.
'As late as the autumn of 1880 Lord Beaconsfield was to style Randolph "only Dilke and water"; but had he lived for another twelvemonth longer he would not have used this language, for Churchill had then developed a very different "Moloch of Midlothian" style, and had made himself through his party a greater power than I ever was.'
The attempt to concert action between independent Tory and independent Radical began after the great scare of February 6th. [Footnote: This correspondence was placed at Mr. Winston Churchill's disposal by Sir Charles Dilke, and used by him in the Life of Lord Randolph Churchill. Sir Stafford Northcote was leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer.]
'On February 7th negotiations between Randolph Churchill and myself began as to moving an address to the Crown praying that the objects with which England should enter any Conference that might be held, should be European and civilized rather than pro-Turkish. On this day he wrote to me:
'"MY DEAR SIR CHARLES DILKE,
'"As I suppose this debate will come to a close with an enormous and disproportionate majority for the Government, and as I think the Opposition have made their stand on an unfortunate ground, and that another fight might yet be fought with far greater chances of commanding sympathy in the country, I want to know whether, if an address to the Crown praying Her Majesty to use her influence at the Conference in favour of the widest possible freedom to Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Thessaly, and Epirus, and in favour of totally and finally putting an end to all direct Turkish Government in these provinces, was moved by me on the Tory side of the House, it would be supported by the Liberal party. I think I could almost make sure of a strong Home Rule vote on this. I think some Conservatives would support it. If Northcote does not give some very clear intimation of what is going to be the policy of the Government, I think a motion of this sort should be made on the Report. The real cry for the country is not sympathy with Russia, still less with Turkey, but complete freedom for the Slav and Hellenic nationalities. I am off to Ireland to-night. I don't care enough for the Government to vote for them. ... I shall see Butt in Dublin, and shall sound him on what I have written to you. My address is Phoenix Park, Dublin. Please excuse this lone letter.
'"RANDOLPH S. CHURCHILL."
'The reference to Butt is curious, and the address of "Phoenix Park," for Lord Randolph was at this time private secretary to his father, who was Viceroy of Ireland, and was living in the Viceregal Lodge, which, of course, is in the Phoenix Park. How far the Duke of Marlborough was cognizant of the intrigues between his son and the Irish I never knew, but at one time relations were very close." [Footnote: Sir John Gorst read this chapter in 1913 and wrote:
"With Randolph's negotiations with the Irish at this time I had nothing to do. I was not cognizant of them; I never acted with R. before 1880.
"So far as I knew, the alliance between the Fourth Party and the Irish leader arose in this way: In the 1880 Parliament Parnell had not enough men to move an adjournment of the House—in those days the most effective form of obstruction. Forty members must stand up. On one occasion after 1880, P., wanting to move an adjournment, sought an interview with us—Balfour may or may not have been present. He stated his case, and we replied that the matter was a proper case for an adjournment, and we and those we could influence would stand up in support. He thanked us and was leaving the room, when R., twirling his moustache, said: 'I suppose, Mr. Parnell, that in cases of this kind there will be a little reciprocity.' After that, when we moved adjournments, the Parnellite members always stood up for us.—J. E. G."]
'On February 8th Lord Randolph wrote:
'"THE CASTLE, DUBLIN.
'"DEAR SIR CHARLES DILKE,
'"Many thanks for your two letters. As you say, things remain in such an uncertain state nothing can be done. The Government have too great an advantage, but I think if we are led into taking any decisive steps hostile to Russia, a great effort should be made for an authoritative declaration that the ultimate aim and object of any move on our part is the complete freedom and independence of the Slav nationality, as opposed to any reconstruction of the Turkish Empire. This I am sure should be the line for the Liberal party, and not the peace-at-any- price cry which it is evident the country won't have. In this I shall be ready to co-operate heartily as far as my poor efforts can be any good. It is just possible that if any movement of this kind be made it would be better for it to originate from the Conservative side of the House. I regret to see so much excitement getting up among the masses. It is dangerous matter for Beaconsfield to work on. Would you think me very foolish or visionary if I say that I look for a republican form of Government for Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, as far more to be preferred than some German, Russian, or other Prince set up as a puppet under the name of constitutional monarchy? Perhaps if these ideas seem at all to your liking, and if you think they would command the support of the Liberal party, you would advise me what appeared to you the most favourable moment for bringing them forward. I shall have some conversation with Butt, and have great hope of securing a solid Irish vote on any proposition which might seem to favour the self- government of nationalities.
'"February 8th. '"RANDOLPH S. CHURCHILL.
'A few days later Lord Randolph telegraphed to me from Careysville, Fermoy: "I shall be in London Monday morning. Am not ambitious of taking any prominent part unless it might contribute to the advantage of ideas which I think we have in common that a motion should be made from my side of the House. I leave it absolutely to your judgment."
'On this telegram I wrote to Lord Granville, who replied, dating his letter "September 13th" by mistake for February 13th:
'" 18, CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE.
'"MY DEAR DILKE,
'"Such a motion as Lord R. C. proposes, supported by a certain number of Conservatives, might be well worth consideration. But I doubt his getting any Conservative support, and a contingent of Home Rulers would hardly justify us in making another attack upon Plevna just yet, with the probable alternative of either a crushing defeat or a second withdrawal in face of the enemy. I gather that you are doubtful. What did Hartington think?
'"If R. Churchill could give you evidence on which you felt you could rely that he would have real Conservative support, the case would be different."
'Hartington thought nothing, merely recommended acceptance of Lord Granville's advice. Lord Granville's mistake in date was characteristic, for, while a most able man who did not, in my opinion, decline in intellectual vigour during the many years in which he took a great part in public affairs, he always had the habit of substitution of words, and I have known him carry on a long conversation with me at the Foreign Office about the proceedings of two Ambassadors who were engaged on the opposite sides in a great negotiation, and call A "B," and B "A," through the whole of it, which was, to say the least, confusing. He also sometimes entirely forgot the principal name in connection with the subject, as, for example, that of Mr. Gladstone when Prime Minister, and had to resort to the most extraordinary forms of language in order to convey his meaning.
'Randolph wrote after his telegram from a fishing lodge on the Irish Blackwater:
'"MY DEAR SIR CHARLES,
'"I have sent you a telegram which I think you will understand. I am sure that my views, whatever they are worth, are in accordance with your speech, and Harcourt's, and Gladstone's, on the question of the future policy of this country. I am convinced that under the present circumstances no motion should be unduly hastened on. There is lots of time. If I was asked to move a resolution my speech would be an attack on Chaplin, Wolff, and the rest of the Pro-Turkish party, confidence in the Government and invitation to the Liberal party to act as a whole. I feel I am awfully young to endeavour to initiate such a line; but I am so convinced of the soundness of our views that I would risk a smash willingly to have them properly brought forward. If only your party would agree as a whole to support a resolution moved from my side, the Government would only at the best have a majority of 80, after 190, and that would be a check. I shall see Butt before arriving in London, and endeavour to make him take up a position upon this question. The Government are apparently doing their 'level best' to keep the peace, and perhaps another debate might not be unwelcome to them.
'"Yours very truly,
'"February 15th. '"RANDOLPH S. CHURCHILL.
'In reply, and in consequence of Lord Granville's suggestion, I pressed him closely as to who would vote with him, and he wrote:
'"CASTLE BERNARD, '"BANDON.
'"MY DEAR SIR CHARLES,
'"In reply to your letter I shall be over in London on the 26th inst., and I think it will be time enough then to make my motion. I should not like to make it unless it would command the support of a large number of members. Such support could only come from your side. I think the Conservative party are gone mad. Their speeches are calculated to provoke war. As it is so uncertain whether we shall go to war or to a Conference, I think I had better wait a little, as, though the motion should, I think, be made in any case, the terms of it would vary very much according to either alternative.... I know of no one except Forsyth whom I could ask to ballot for me. If the motion commanded much support, I should certainly like to press it even to a division. Cowen's speech (and the vociferous cheers of the C. party) evidently shows that the idea of the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire is still predominant on our side, and against that I would try to go a great way. I should, of course, be very glad if you would second any motion of the nature of those sketched.... I send a sketch of it.
'"Yours very truly,
'"RANDOLPH S. CHURCHILL."
'"Draft of Motion.
'"That in view of the extreme sufferings so long undergone by the Slav, Bulgarian, and Hellenic nationalities of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Thessaly, and Epirus, and considering that the Turkish rule over these provinces has now been definitely put an end to, the efforts of Her Majesty's Government, in the opinion of the House of Commons, should be principally directed towards the establishment of the complete freedom and independence of the populations of these provinces."
'I have in my diary on Friday the 15th the note: "See Chamberlain as to Churchill's plan, and say I won't go to a meeting." Evidently I had seen that Churchill was unsafe.
'When Randolph Churchill came back to town I discovered, or rather he discovered and told me, that old Walpole, the ex-Home Secretary, was the only member upon his own side who would even pretend that he would vote with him, and when it came to the point on one occasion, Walpole himself said that he should go away.'
Preparations for war were pressed on till, on March 3rd, the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano, which put an end to Turkish rule in Bulgaria, seemed to close the crisis. But instantly the trouble broke out again. The British Government claimed that this new treaty, since it altered the European settlement ratified in 1856 by the Treaty of Paris, must be submitted to and endorsed by a Congress of the Powers. Russia declined to be thus bound, and a new crisis arose in which Lord Derby, who had withdrawn his previous resignation, now finally gave up the Secretaryship of Foreign Affairs, being succeeded by Lord Salisbury.
In 1881 Sir Charles, while Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, became aware that Lord Derby's retention of office after his first resignation had been little more than nominal. He says in the Memoir for that year:
'In the course of my researches among the Tunis papers I discovered the curious fact that in February and March, 1878, foreign affairs were being conducted by a committee of the Cabinet, consisting of Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Cairns, and Lord Salisbury, and that Lord Derby, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was virtually shelved for the whole period. At this moment Lord Beaconsfield proposed the creation of a Mediterranean league for the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean: England, France, Italy, and Greece to be first consulted, and Austria to come in afterwards if she pleased. Italy declining, the scheme collapsed. Foolish Italy!'
While in Parliament the Tory party was ridding itself of its 'peace men,' party feeling out of doors ran to unusual heights. These were the days when a music-hall song added a word to the political vocabulary, and the "jingo" crowd signalized its patriotism by wrecking Mr. Gladstone's windows at 73, Harley Street, where he went to live after his retirement from the Liberal leadership.
'On Sunday, March 10th, in coming back from the Grosvenor Gallery, I passed a great mob, who were going to howl at Mr. Gladstone—at this time the ordinary Sunday afternoon diversion of the London rough.'
Schouvalof, the Russian Ambassador, had on March 4th summed up the situation in an epigram: "England has challenged Russia to a duel, and has chosen for her weapon swords at fifteen paces" (l'epee a quinze pas). But the preparations for this combat were menacing.
'On March 29th the Eastern Question blazed up again with Lord Derby's resignation, the discussion of which enlivened a party at Lady Waldegrave's, there being before us a Queen's Message alleging the existence of imminent national danger and great emergency as a reason for calling out the reserves. On Saturday the 30th Trevelyan ... informed me of a resolution which had been prepared by Lubbock on behalf of those Whigs who had not gone with Gladstone, but wished to make some movement of their own. Later in the evening I saw Childers, who proposed a better motion in the form of an addition to the Message in the sense of a strong desire for peace. The object of both suggestions, of course, was by a moderate middle course to prevent a division for and against the Message in which Gladstone and Bright and eighty others would vote No, while eighty would follow Hartington in voting Yes, and the majority of the party run away, thus destroying the Liberal party, as it was destroyed in the time of Pitt and the war with France. Later, again, in the evening I saw Montgelas (who told me that Russia had held different language to Austria and to England, and that she had drawn back and did not mean war) [Footnote: 'On February 9th I went to a party at the Austrian Embassy "to meet the Archduke Rudolf." Beust was gone away and Montgelas was host. ... On February 12th I met again the Crown Prince of Austria.'] and Randolph Churchill, who made an appointment to come to me on Sunday about the papers, which he agreed with me in thinking damaging to the Government, and full of evidence of their total isolation. When he came, we decided only that the Government ought to be asked for further papers.'