This demand Sir Charles accordingly made on April 1st. His position was at this point extremely difficult. He was not prepared to acquiesce in the aggrandisement of Russia, and therefore could not go with his habitual associates, who had formed a Committee upon the Eastern Question. On the other hand, he was determined to join with them in opposing the calling out of the reserves, because this step implied that England would go to war alone, and he did not believe either that England was likely to do so, or that she ought, as a member of the European Concert, to take such a step.
'There was a moment after the fall of Lord Derby when I became a supporter of the Government in their Eastern policy, for they appeared to me to adopt my own, but it did not last long. "Lord Salisbury's circular" (so-called, but written by Lord Cairns), issued upon the accession of Lord Salisbury to the Foreign Office, contained the statement of this policy. ... Speaking in the House on April 9th ..., I repudiated the defence which came from some on the Liberal side, of the conduct of Russia, and, looking upon the Government despatch as a vindication primarily of general European interests, and, in the second place, of Hellenic interests, against Russian violence and universal Slav dominion throughout the Levant, I separated myself from my party and praised the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. I was afterwards bitterly disappointed at finding the policy of the April circular abandoned by its authors in the Congress of Berlin. ...
'On April 4th Gennadius, the Greek Charge d'Affaires (afterwards Minister), the American Minister, Matthew Arnold, W. E. Forster, Grant Duff, Lubbock, George Sheffield (Lord Lyons' factotum), Tom Hughes, and my old friend Sir David Wedderburn dined with me. And in this Whig and Hellenic party a general agreement with my views was met with; but the same was not the case amongst my brother Radicals of "Mr. Dillwyn's Committee upon the Eastern Question."'
This Radical organization got into difficulties of its own while contemplating a motion to condemn explicitly the calling out of the reserves.
'On April 5th Dillwyn's Committee had had before it a letter from Lord Hartington, saying that Mr. Gladstone on Monday wished to speak next after Sir Stafford Northcote, and to deprecate the moving of an amendment. It was in consequence resolved by a majority that no amendment should be moved. Courtney then said that the intimation of Mr. Gladstone's opinion had been obtained from him by gross pressure, and that he himself should move an amendment if no one else did. Wilfrid Lawson then said that he would move; and there were seven in favour of an amendment. This broke up the Committee, and on Dillwyn reporting to Hartington its dissolution, the latter said: "Well, Mr. Dillwyn, you see it is not so easy to lead."
'On Sunday, April 7th, there dined with me, among others, Hartington, Harcourt, Goschen, Lord Granville, and Lord Ripon, and we discussed the position, on which Lord Ripon was far from agreement with me. I warmly supported to them the Government circular (issued by Lord Salisbury), as putting British action on European rather than on British-interests grounds, and only differed from the policy of calling out the reserves because this was an action of isolation.'
When Sir Wilfrid Lawson's amendment was moved, Sir Charles voted with the Radical minority of sixty-four against calling out the reserves, but 'differed from every word in which the Radical speakers supported their view.'
The pith of his speech was a powerful plea for allowing Greece to secure the emancipation of Greek populations, then under a Turkish rule heavy as that from which Russia claimed to liberate the Slavs of Bulgaria.
So far, the action of the Government had not united the Liberal party in any concentrated attitude of resistance. But during the Easter recess, which Sir Charles spent in France, meeting Gambetta, politics took a more dramatic turn.
'When Parliament adjourned for the holidays, not one word had been said of an act long previously determined, which was announced the next day. The fact that Parliament was allowed to learn from the newspapers that it was intended by the Government for the first time to employ Indian troops within the European dominions of the Crown in time of peace, without the previous consent of Parliament, [Footnote: By despatching 7,000 Sepoys to Malta.] was a singular commentary upon the Government declaration at the beginning of the Session that Parliament had been called together at an unusually early date in order that under circumstances of delicacy the Ministry might have the advantage of its advice.... Public feeling, I found from Chamberlain, had gone round a good deal during my absence, and to satisfy the opinion of our Radicals he was determined to move something. I suggested to him (on May 6th) a resolution condemning "the policy of menace and warlike demonstration which has been pursued by the Government," and expressing the belief "that an honourable and peaceful settlement of existing difficulties will be best promoted by their consenting to state frankly the changes in the Treaty of San Stefano which they consider necessary for the general good of Europe and the interests of this country."'
But already the Government were in secret negotiation with Russia, and had entered into an agreement as to the modification of the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano. Amongst other changes it was proposed to curtail the limits of Bulgaria by a division severing South from North, and to allow Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and the Herzegovina.
'On Tuesday, May 7th, after the Radical Club, at a party at the Harcourts', I learned what the Government intended to do at the Conference or Congress—namely, limit Bulgaria on the south by the Balkans. But I was informed at the same time that they would themselves propose to give Thessaly and Epirus to Greece, an undertaking which I think they did give to the King of Greece, but from which, if so, they afterwards departed. The Greek Patriarch from Constantinople came over at this time, as did the Armenian Patriarch shortly afterwards, and I met both, although conversation with these dignitaries was not easy, for their French was about as feeble as my Greek; but through Gennadius I, of course, knew the views of the Greeks, and in the Armenian question I took no special part.'
The question of employing the Indian troops was debated on May 20th. Lord Hartington opened; and Sir Charles replied to Sir Michael Hicks Beach, who followed Lord Hartington. Concerning the discussion, he says:
'The technical point which we argued was a narrow one. Had Cyprus been in Asia, our arguments would not have applied to Cyprus; and it is very likely that the Government thought Cyprus was in Asia, and did not like to say that they had made a mistake, and having first ordered the troops to Cyprus, and then ordered them to Malta (which was undoubtedly in Europe), had forgotten the distinction. The real objection to the bringing of the Sepoys was the same as the objection to the calling out of the reserves—that it was isolated action, and that these military measures and the expenditure which they involved were mere bunkum, and mere waste if the Government intended to give up, as they were secretly telling Russia they did intend to give up, the main points of dispute. Moreover, Russia could do us hurt in India, and Indian troops could not touch her at all....
'The Government were said to have only "conquered by giving way," for they agreed to put the number of men into the Estimate, and thus avoid making a precedent, according to our contention, absolutely unconstitutional. On the other hand, Lord Beaconsfield's speech in the House of Lords was defiant in the extreme, and Holker's [Footnote: The Attorney-General.] in the Lower House was an assertion of higher prerogative doctrine than had been heard in Parliament since the days of Elizabeth.'
'On May 30th I dined with Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, and met Lord Northbrook (the former Viceroy of India) and his daughter, Lady Emma Baring, Lord Rosebery, Lord and Lady Napier (he a most distinguished man, the best of Ambassadors to Russia and the best of Governors of Madras, too little known),[Footnote: Baron Napier and Ettrick.] Lord Macduff (afterwards Duke of Fife), and Monty Corry, afterwards Lord Rowton, Lord Beaconsfield's private secretary.' Corry 'told me what was at the moment a startling secret—that Lord Beaconsfield was going to the Congress himself. "Can he speak French?" I asked with wonder, to which he shook his head.'
On the day after the meeting of the Congress a sensational disclosure revealed to the world that it met; only to register foregone conclusions.
'At the end of the month (May) the secret agreement was signed with Russia, and revealed to us by the Globe [Footnote: The Globe disclosure came from Mr. Marvin, a civil servant in temporary employ. Dilke noted: "Besides the 'Marvin Memorandum' and an annex, there was a curious stipulation insisted on by Russia, that the annex should never be published, even if No. 1—that is, the 'Marvin Memorandum'— should become public; and this looks very much as though Marvin was really the Russian Government, which I have always suspected. They had this to gain by publishing the Memorandum—that they showed themselves the real victors in the Congress of Berlin, in spite of all our bluster, and they damaged Lord Beaconsfield, who was their enemy. Marvin could never have got a copy, and always pretended that he had learned the whole document by heart, which, considering its length and the total absence in the copy published in the Globe of the slightest error, even of punctuation, is incredible. The annex, which was dated May 31st, only said that the Russians had no intention of extending their conquests in Asiatic Turkey: 'The Emperor of Russia ... not having the intention of extending Ids conquests in Asia ... the Imperial Government does not refuse to conclude with the British Government a secret engagement for the purpose of reassuring it upon this point.'"] on June 14th; and it then appeared that the military preparations of the country must have been intended to keep up the spirits of the Jingoes while their cherished principles were being sacrificed behind their backs. The Daily Telegraph, which was the Jingo organ, said: "If such a compact has been concluded, this country has fatally descended from the lofty position occupied by the Salisbury despatch." Not only was the compact authentic, but there were two other secret compacts of the same date which did not come out. What the Government had done was to give up all the points for which they had made their enthusiastic followers believe that they would fight, and at the same time in the Anglo-Turkish Convention to declare that their successors should fight for what was left. This may have been a prudent policy, but it was not a policy which carried with it the necessity for bringing Indian troops to Europe or spending eight or nine millions sterling upon apparent preparations for immediate war. The third agreement, in addition to the Salisbury- Schouvalof agreement and the Anglo-Turkish Convention, the first of which came out by chance and the second of which was ultimately published by the Government, was an Anglo-Austrian secret agreement which has never been printed, the character of which is revealed by the fact that the English plenipotentiaries themselves proposed at Berlin, in spite of the strong dissent of Turkey, to make to Austria the gift of Bosnia and Herzegovina.'
To this note, written in 1890, there is added in the margin of the manuscript: 'There was also a secret supplementary agreement with Russia, of which later.' And also this: "The compact giving Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria is now (1908) known to Lucien Wolf." [Footnote: See Thomas Erskine Holland, The European Concert in the Eastern Question, 292, 293.]
Before the Berlin Congress met, Sir Charles had pressed by way of questions to secure if possible a representation for Greece at the Congress, and failed; and the speech which he made in the debate (opened on July 29th) on the Treaty of Berlin was mainly a censure on Great Britain for having failed to support the Hellenic claims. He dwelt specially on Crete, the government of which by Turkey was, he said, "a perpetual menace to European peace."
Replying in the debate for the Liberal party to Mr. David Plunket (afterwards Lord Rathmore), he notes that he
'spoke, and spoke well, making the best of my debating speeches, but was overshadowed by one speech which would have caused better speeches than mine to have been easily forgotten. Mr. Gladstone's speech on this occasion, like all his speeches, does not read; but it was the finest that I ever heard him make with one exception—the Bradlaugh speech in the next Parliament.'
POLITICS AND PERSONS
Sir Charles Dilke's first concern was with foreign affairs, but he was also of high authority in whatever related to the business and management of the House of Commons; and at this period the question of remodelling forms which lent themselves to the arts of delay began to be urgent, and threatened to become paramount. Here, early in 1878, is the first considerable mention of the man whose relentless use of obstruction has affected parliamentary procedure all over the world:
'On February 20th I was asked by Lord Hartington to serve upon the Government Select Committee on the business and forms of the House, upon which Parnell was asked to represent the obstructive element. It was somewhat a distinction, as I was to be the sole representative of the English independent members, and in consequence I gave up the Standing Committee on Commons, upon which I asked Fitzmaurice to replace me. The proceedings of Sir Stafford Northcote's Committee, as the Committee on Public Business was called, presented only one singularity—namely, the examination of the Speaker—a prolonged one— by Parnell. Both of them were in a way able men; but both were extraordinarily slow of intellect—that is, slow in appreciating a point or catching a new idea—and Mr. Brand (as he then was) and Parnell used to face one another in inarticulate despair in the attempt to understand each the other's meaning. There were a good many fairly stupid men on the Committee, but there was not a single member of it who did not understand what Parnell meant by a question more quickly than could the Speaker, and not a man who could not understand what the Speaker meant by a reply more quickly than Parnell.'
'With Speaker Brand I afterwards had a singular connection.
'At the time when the President of the Free State, whose name was also Brand, had rendered important services to the British Government, I made one of the briefest of my brief minutes and put it in a box, and sent it round the Cabinet: "I think Brand should be knighted.—Ch's W. D." Nearly all the members of the Cabinet having added their initials in approval, Brand was knighted, but the wrong Brand, for they gave the G.C.B. to the Speaker, and it was only some time afterwards that the G.C.M.G. was conferred on the South African statesman. I had not thought of the Speaker, and Mr. Gladstone or his private secretary, Edward Hamilton, had forgotten the Free State. What may have been the frame of mind of the various members of the Cabinet who approved my suggestion I do not know, but some probably meant the one and some probably meant the other, and no one remembered that there were two.'
Concerning the proposals which Sir Stafford Northcote was contemplating as the result of the Committee on Public Business, but not in exact accordance with its decisions, Sir Charles notes, under June 25th, that he was not in agreement with the mass of the Liberal party.
'Our men were inclined to oppose all proposals for closure by majorities, and for investing the Speaker with large powers, while I was beginning to feel as strongly favourable to such proposals as I afterwards became. My "record" upon this subject constituted, therefore, almost as "sharp a curve" as that of others. As a rule I have not greatly changed my mind upon political subjects, but upon this one (as upon Africa [Footnote: See Chapter XVI., p. 238, and also Chapter XLVIII, (Vol. II., pp. 251-2).]) I undoubtedly turned round, and did so in consequence of the full consideration which I had to give it in the course of this single year.'
In the same year Sir Charles had secured support of Tory metropolitan members, whose constituents were affected, for his Bill to extend the hours of polling in London; and it passed before the end of January as an agreed measure. Then came another advance:
'On February 27th, at the most important sitting of my Committee on the Registration Bills, which had three Bills before it, mine being one; and Martin, who had charge of the Conservative Bill, being in the Chair, with a Conservative majority on the Committee, Martin's Bill was rejected, and mine adopted by the Committee on a division as a base for its proceedings. I at once decided that I would hand over my Bill to Martin, so as to let him have charge of it, as Chairman of the Committee, as the Bill of the Committee.'
This was designed not so much to insure the passage of his own Bill as 'to prevent Martin from carrying a mere bit of a Bill with some of the things in it which we wanted.' But, 'to the amazement of everyone,' Sir Charles's measure, under its new sponsorship, actually passed, and 'became law in 1878, and ultimately added an enormous number of voters to the franchise rolls.'
By June 7th the Registration Bill was read a third time, and
'My Hours of Polling Bill had now become "Dilke's Act," and I felt as though I was making such progress towards the political reforms I had long advocated that there might be some faint chance that one day redistribution itself might be accomplished.'
Six years later he himself carried out redistribution and extension of the suffrage on a scale hardly dreamed of by politicians in 1878. Already, in the debate of February 22nd, when Sir Charles, as usual, seconded Mr. Trevelyan's annual motion on the equalization of voting power, the division was better than ever before, and the Annual Register, which a few years earlier had known nothing but contempt and aversion for this Radical group, devoted considerable space to the arguments by which reform was supported, with full reference to Sir Charles's speech. Mr. Goschen and Mr. Lowe were the only Liberals of note who opposed the motion—if, indeed, Mr. Lowe could still be called a Liberal—and Lord Hartington spoke for it.
One of Sir Charles's preoccupations at this moment was the choice of a Liberal candidate to stand for Chelsea with him, and the matter presented difficulties.
'Horace Davey ... was wishful to stand with us, and I had asked him to a dinner at which he met some of the leading men, and later he called on me to see whether he would "do." In the meantime I had sounded our best people, and found that he would not.... I told him at once that he must vote against fresh dowries to the Royal Family until a Civil List inquiry had been held, which ... sent him away.'
Another lawyer followed, and was shown off at several dinners, but 'the borough did not seem inclined to welcome Queen's Counsel,' and ultimately settled, very much to its own satisfaction and Sir Charles's, on a great friend, Mr. Firth.
The campaign in defence of open spaces was actively carried on this year, and in March Sir Charles was fighting on behalf of the Commons Preservation Society to resist the erection of a new cottage with an enclosure for the Deputy Ranger in Hyde Park. The cottage was erected, but Sir Charles and his allies 'were ultimately able to get back a large part of the land which had been enclosed near it.' Another encroachment was resisted more successfully, and by other means. In Fulham 'the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had made an enclosure shutting out the public from Eelbrook Common, the use of which it had enjoyed for many years.'
'I went to a meeting at Beaufort House, and made, as I thought, a moderate speech recommending abstention from acts of violence, but one at the close of which the meeting went off to the place, pulled down the fence, and burnt it in a large bonfire. The enclosure was never reasserted, and the ground was ultimately handed over to the Metropolitan Board of Works to be managed as an open space, and is open now for ever.... In Lord Eversley's Commons, revised edition of 1910, he names my services to the "cause," but not this one.'
At the close of the Session
'On September 4th I addressed my constituents, and received an ovation in consequence of the passing of the Hours of Polling Bill (letting them vote till eight in the evening instead of four) and of my Registration Bill. Vast numbers of electors had been disfranchised by the former hours, who were able now to record their votes. My Registration Act was only to come into force in the course of the following year, and was to affect the next registration and revision.
'Turning to foreign affairs, I pointed out the absolute impossibility of the fulfilment of the promises which the Government had made to give to Asiatic Turkey "rest from the heavy weight of military service, rest from the uncertainty of unjust Judges and persons placed in command." I went on to discuss the Greek question, which I had to do somewhat fully, because the Greek Committee was at present only operating in the dark, and had not made known its constitution to the public. [Footnote: He made in this year the acquaintance of 'Delyannis, Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was a very inferior man to his great rival, Tricoupis.']
'Two days after my speech, on September 6th, I learnt that the Greek Government had decided to recognize the insurgent Debt of 1824. People often talk of the possibilities of Ministers speculating on the Stock Exchange on secret information. It is a curious and perhaps an interesting fact that during the more than five years that I was in office I do not think that any official information came into my hands the possession of which would have enabled any Minister to make money on the Stock Exchange, although a private secretary was charged with the offence during those years—most unjustly charged. On the other hand, it is the case that on at least two occasions when I was a private member of Parliament, before I had held office, I had secret information of a certain kind upon which I might have speculated, and which very probably was given me with the intention that I should do so. This was one of the two occasions. The other was my knowledge of the financial intervention in Egypt before it took place. [Footnote: He knew this from something said to him by Nubar Pasha.]
'The Greek information of September 6th reached me in Paris, whither I had gone on the day after my speech, and to which I was followed by very favourable criticism upon it. Gambetta, with whom I breakfasted on the 6th, told me that Lord Salisbury, who had been in Paris, had come there with a view to reopen the Egyptian question, but had not received encouragement.
'On Thursday, September 12th, I breakfasted with Gambetta in the country, he coming to fetch me at the Grand Hotel, and driving me down in a victoria. We talked partly of Egypt, partly of people.'
That autumn Sir Charles spent in the South of France, still working on his History. [Footnote: History of the Nineteenth Century. See Chapter XI., p. 154; also Chapter LX. (Vol. II., p. 537).] His son, then four years old, used to be with him at La Sainte Campagne, Cap Brun, his house near Toulon. In November a new crisis arose. 'There seemed a chance of war with Russia about the Afghan complications,' and Sir Charles proposed to his brother Ashton that, 'in the event of Russia's entry on the war, he should bring out a daily halfpenny noonday paper, to give, on a small sheet, news only, and not opinions. At that time evening papers could not be bought till four o'clock, and the idea was discussed between us until it became clear that we were only going to fight Afghans, and not Russians.'
The situation was serious enough to demand an autumn Session, because the beginnings of the war were directly connected with Russian action. After the Queen had assumed her new title of Empress of India, Lord Lytton was instructed to propose a Mission to the Amir. But the Amir, who had previously declined to admit surveying parties of British officers, now refused this. In the spring of 1878, when war threatened between England and Russia, the Russian Government also proposed an Embassy to Kabul, and although they likewise met with a refusal, the Mission was despatched and reached Kabul.
The Indian Government now saw themselves under a slight; Russia's Mission had been received, theirs had been refused entrance. Peremptorily they renewed their request. No answer was returned; the Mission set out, and was stopped by armed force. Declaration of war followed, and by November 20th British troops had crossed the frontier. Invasion of Afghanistan was in full progress when Parliament assembled.
Sir Charles saw Gambetta on December 3rd, and returned to England, and by the 4th was discussing at the Radical Club the course to be taken on the Address. In his travels he had visited the north-west frontier of India. It was settled that he should speak, but, as he notes, the debate in the Commons 'was swamped by that in the Lords,' and, further, 'I found myself once again in a difficulty on the Afghan question, as I had been on the Eastern Question, that of not agreeing with either side.'
Lord Hartington, as usual, had been prompt in the assurance of patriotic support for a Government actually engaged in war; Mr. Gladstone was passionate in denunciation of the war itself. Between these poles Sir Charles had to steer, and the pith of his speech was a charge against the Government that they were punishing the Afghans for having submitted to a violent act of aggression perpetrated by Russia.
'On Tuesday, December 10th, I spoke in the debate, doing my best to calm down a revolt which had broken out below the gangway against Hartington for not having countenanced an amendment to the Address, and for having made on the Address a speech supposed to be too friendly to the Government.
'On the other hand, Edward Jenkins, [Footnote: Author of Ginx's Baby.] who called himself a Radical, and who was a strong Imperialist, was busy drawing amendments which were mere pretexts for voting with the Government, and I noted in my diary my despair at finding such men blaming Hartington for going too far, when Chamberlain was blaming him for not going far enough. While I was speaking on the 10th Wilfrid Lawson passed to me his copy of the Orders of the Day, bearing at the head the lines:
'"Lord Salisbury once was the 'master of jeers, But now he has met with disaster; For, on reading the Blue Book, it plainly appears That Giers is Lord Salisbury's master."
The lines were excellent, and I burst out laughing in the middle of my speech. Giers was the new Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the phrase quoted in Lawson's first line was, of course, an abridgment of Mr. Disraeli's memorable quotation from Shakespeare about his colleague, and the four lines formed a summary of my speech.... [Footnote: On August 5th, 1874, Disraeli, speaking in the debate on the Lords' disagreement to certain amendments made by the House of Commons in the Public Worship Regulation Bill, had described Lord Salisbury as "a great master of gibes and flouts and jeers."] It came out clearly in these debates that Northcote had not expected war, and that Lord Lytton had acted directly under the instructions of the Prime Minister, and had not only expected, but intended it. I called Lord Lytton in my speech "a diplomatist rather than a Viceroy, a Secretary of Legation rather than a ruler of men." This was not intended for abuse, but to bring the House to see him as I had seen him in my knowledge of him as Secretary at Paris, in order to show that he had been sent out to India to be an instrument—obedient to a policy dictated to him from home.' [Footnote: Sir Charles had been staying with the Commander-in-Chief at Madras, General Haines, afterwards Field-Marshal, in January, 1876, when the news came of Lord Lytton's appointment as Governor-General. 'The old soldier absolutely refused to credit the information, being a strong Conservative, and unwilling to admit that Mr. Disraeli could have been guilty of so extraordinary a mistake.']
This Afghan War, so lightly begun, and fraught with so much disaster, was the first of a series of events which sapped the credit of the Government that had triumphantly claimed to bring back "peace with honour" from the Congress of Berlin.
Some intimate aspects of that gathering are preserved in Sir Charles's account of a dinner-party at Sir William Harcourt's house on December 11th, the guests including the Russian Ambassador, who had been one of the plenipotentiaries.
'Schouvalof was very funny. He gave us a fancy picture of the whole Congress of Berlin. He described almost every member of the Congress, standing up at the table speaking English when he did Lord Beaconsfield, and mimicking the Prime Minister's grave manner, with absurdly comical effect. At last he came to Lord Salisbury, who, according to him, spoke bad French. He made Lord Salisbury coin an extraordinary phrase, at which he himself (Schouvalof), all the Frenchmen, and Gortschakof, shrugged their shoulders with one accord. Lord Salisbury turned fiercely round, and asked what was the matter with it, to which Saint-Vallier replied that "there was nothing the matter with it except that it was not French." "Not French?" said Lord Salisbury, and rang the electric bell by the button in front of him, and when the door was opened, holding up his hand to show the messenger who had rung, said: "Fetch Mr. Currie." Philip Currie appeared at the door, bowing deeply, whereon Lord Salisbury read his phrase to him, and said, "Mr. Currie, is that good French?" to which Currie replied, "Excellent French, my lord;" whereon Lord Salisbury turned, said Schouvalof, "to our French colleagues, and said: 'There!'" Schouvalof carried on violent discussions between Lord Beaconsfield, speaking English, and Gortschakof, speaking French, about various boundary questions, and brought in Bismarck every minute or two as a chorus, the Chancellor stalking up and down the room with his arms folded, and growling in a deep voice: "Eh bien, messieurs, arrangez-vous; car, si vous ne vous arrangez pas, demain je pars pour Kissingen." Under this Bismarckian pressure Schouvalof, after making us shriek for half an hour, brought his Congress to an end.... In a confidential talk with me afterwards Schouvalof said: "I have known many rude people, but I never knew anyone so rude as was Bismarck at the Congress. I happened to name our poor clients, the Montenegrins, when Bismarck roared at me: "Je ne veux pas entendre parler de ces gens-la." Schouvalof also said of our relations with the Afghans: "You don't understand dealing with Orientals. Compare your letters to the Amir and ours, published in your Blue-Book. We call him the Sun and Moon, and you call him an 'earthen pipkin.'" This last was an allusion to the phrase used to the Amir, "an earthen pipkin between two iron pots," the iron pots being ourselves and Russia.'
Sir Charles Dilke in this year has record of meeting with many interesting persons, some of them links with a vanishing past, such as the daughter of Horace Smith, who with his brother wrote Rejected Addresses. Miss "Tizy" Smith was, he says,
'the last survivor of that school of noisy, frolicsome, boisterous old ladies given to punning and banging people on the back; but she was very witty, and, for those who had spirits to bear her spirits, most entertaining. She was for many years known as the "Queen of Brighton," but her sway was not despotic.'
In February he
'dined with Lady Waldegrave to meet the Duc de Chartres—no better and no worse than the other Princes of his house...., not excepting the Duc d'Aumale, who had, however, the reputation of being brilliant, and who ... was interesting from his great memory of great men. They all grew deaf as they grew old, and the Comte de Paris is now (1890) almost as deaf as the Prince de Joinville, who was put into the navy in his youth, because, not hearing the big guns, he alone of all the family was not frightened by them.'
In March, 1878, Gambetta sent to Dilke with an introduction 'Henri Hecht, who was deep in his secrets, and in the habit from this time forward of visiting for him Germany as well as England.' Going backwards and forwards to his house at Toulon, Sir Charles always broke the journey at Paris to see Gambetta. He writes to Ashton Dilke:
"Gambetta says that he shall say at Grenoble that MacMahon said: 'J'irai jusqu'au bout,' and that he must—i.e., he must complete his term. He won't have him again. 'J'en ai assez d'une fois.'"
At Easter Sir Charles was using his influence with Gambetta on behalf of a great artist who had been politically compromised in the troubles of 1871 —Dalou the sculptor, who had done to Dilke's commission a copy in has- relief of Flaxman's "Mercury and Pandora."
'When I was leaving for Paris I had several interviews with Dalou as to getting him leave to return to France without his asking for it. He had been sub-curator of the Louvre under the Commune, and had helped to preserve the collections from destruction; but after he fled the country he had always refused to ask for leave to return, which, had he asked, would at once have been granted to him. Gambetta always insisted, when I spoke to him upon the matter, that Dalou should write some letter, however private and however personal, to ask for leave to return; but this was just what Dalou's pride would never let him do, and although he was willing to ask me verbally, and even to refer to the matter in a private letter to myself, he never would write about it to anyone in France. Dalou was afterwards selected to make the official statues of the Republic, and may be said to have become, after the general amnesty, Sculptor-in-Ordinary to the Government of France.'
There is a story of Count Beust's difficulties when the Empress of Austria suddenly asked herself to dine with him at the Austrian Embassy at six on Sunday, at twenty-four hours' notice. Beust's cook was out of town; but worse was the difficulty of finding guests of adequate importance. The Prince of Wales had a dinner-party of his own at Marlborough House, so recourse was had to another Royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of Teck. They were engaged to the Marlborough House dinner, but suggested a heroic expedient. "Why not dine with you at six, and go on at a quarter-past eight and dine again!" So it was settled.
An eccentric dinner took place at 76, Sloane Street, when the Maharajah of Johore returned the visit which Sir Charles had paid him in his States near Singapore. Lord Randolph Churchill and other people interested in India were among the guests, and the Maharajah brought his own cook, who prepared enough for all, so that the guests had their choice of two menus. The host took the Maharajah's, 'which was good but rich,' and 'suffered, as did all who ate his garlics and his grease.'
'On March 21st I breakfasted with Lord Granville to meet Lord Lyons, there being also there Lord Ripon, Lord Acton (a man of great learning and much charm), Lord Carlingford (Chichester Fortescue that had been), Grant Duff, Sir Thomas Wade (the great Chinese scholar, and afterwards Professor of Chinese at Cambridge), Lefevre, Meredith Townsend of the Spectator, old Charles Howard, and "old White," roaring with that terrible roar which seems almost necessary to go with his appearance. I have known two men, both in the Foreign Office service, that looked like bears—Lord Tenterden, [Footnote: Permanent Under-Secretary of State, afterwards Dilke's colleague at the Foreign Office.] a little black graminivorous European bear, and "old White," a polar bear if ever I saw one, always ready to hug his enemies or his friends, and always roaring so as to shake the foundations of your house. "Lord Lyons," I noted in my diary, "does not make any mark in private, but that may be because he does his duty and holds his tongue. The diplomatists who talk delightfully, like Odo Russell, are perhaps not the best models of diplomacy." But White afterwards made a great Ambassador.
'On March 3rd Goschen dined with me, asked by me to meet "Brett, Hartington's new secretary"' (now Lord Esher). 'Reginald Brett was, and is, an extremely pleasant fellow, and he was the ablest secretary, except Edward Hamilton, that I ever came across; but he was far from being a model secretary, because ... he always behaved as if he held delegated authority from Hartington to represent Hartington's conscience when it would not otherwise have moved, and "Hartington's opinion" when the chief had none.... But Brett in all he did had public ends in view....
'On July 30th I dined at a dinner given by a lion-hunter who managed to get together some remarkable and some pleasant people—Cardinal Manning, Ruskin, Greenwood, and Borthwick. But whether it was the influence of the host, or whether it was because Manning did not like his company except me, and Ruskin did not like his company at all, the dinner was a failure. No one talked but Ruskin, and he prosed, and his prose of speech was not his prose of pen. Manning wished to see me about some education matter, and I called on him on August 2nd, and from that time forward saw a good deal of the Cardinal.'
Next came members of what was to be the Fourth Party, although then 'isolated individuals.' In February Sir Charles had a long talk with Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, and 'found him holding very different views upon foreign affairs from those which afterwards united him with his future leader. In fact, he had nothing at this moment in common with Lord Randolph except a personal detestation of Lord Derby.'
Sir John Gorst had acted with Sir Charles to preserve the rights of native races, especially the Maories; and thus a friendship had grown up, in which Dilke was anxious to include Mr. Chamberlain.
'On July 26th Chamberlain dined with me to meet Richard Power, the new Irish Whip, and Gorst, the latter soon afterwards to join with Randolph Churchill in the formation of the memorable Fourth Party, and to be known as "Randolph's Attorney-General." Many years afterwards, when Randolph Churchill had quarrelled with Gorst, and the Fourth Party had finally gone to pieces, Lord Randolph said to me: "Gorst was the best adviser I ever had. I often failed to follow his advice, and have always regretted not following it." When the Fourth Party was first formed, he advised that we should sit immediately behind the leaders—I with my knees in Northcote's back. I overruled him, and we sat below the gangway; but he was right. We should have done far more execution if I had been nearer to "the Goat." Lord Randolph never alluded to Sir Stafford Northcote except by this playful appellation, based upon the long, straggling, yellow-white beard of the Conservative Chief. When he was in good humour the Fourth Party leader alluded to the Conservative leader as "the goat"; but when angry as "the old goat," and often with many of those disrespectful adjectives in which in private conversation he delighted.
'At dinner at the Harcourts' on August 10th, Arthur Balfour present: ... I am the greatest of admirers of his "charm."'
Ireland, which makes or breaks politicians, made Mr. A. J. Balfour. Here is some detail of one of the men whom Ireland broke. Towards the end of the Session came to Sir Charles a letter from the Duchess of Manchester at Aix-les-Bains:
"Please back up Mr. Forster. I think he is quite right. Fancy, to be chosen and proposed by a Committee, adopted by 300 idiots or geniuses, and to have to submit, when you can stand on your own merits."
'A German Conservative Duchess was not likely to be able to understand the Caucus. Forster was her friend, going and sitting with her almost every day, and chuckling over her politics with his extraordinary chuckle, and playing cards with her at night. To his card-playing, indeed, he ultimately owed his life, for the Invincibles in Dublin used to wait for him night after night outside his club to murder him (as afterwards came out in the Phoenix Park trial), and, tired out with waiting, at last fancy that he must have gone home. Forster was at this moment at loggerheads with his Bradford constituents, and hence the letter of the Duchess; but I did not "back up" Forster, being myself an absolute believer in the wisdom of the Caucus system. I had, indeed, invented a Caucus in Chelsea before the first Birmingham Election Association was started.'
Sir Charles left for Paris, and—
'on September 6th I met Emile Ollivier, who said that there had never been in France a personal power equal to that of Gambetta at this moment; even that of Napoleon, when First Consul, was not so great. Then the Bourbons were dimly seen behind. "Now there is nothing behind; nothing except Clericalism, and Clericalism can be bought."
'Ollivier I found still full of burning hatred for the Empress, but he had forgiven Rouher and the Emperor for making him the scapegoat. I discussed with him once more the origin of the war of 1870, and he maintained most stoutly that France had been driven into it by Bismarck, and had only put herself in the wrong by herself declaring war, and had done this because her army system gave her a fortnight's start, the advantage of which was lost through the Emperor's hesitations. He thinks that in that fortnight the German Army could have been destroyed. It is on this point that he is wrong.'
THE ZULU WAR AND THE GREEK COMMITTEE
The chronicle of the year 1879 begins with a visit paid by Sir Charles to Paris on his way back from his house near Toulon, to which he had returned after the brief Session of December, On February 2nd 'I breakfasted with Gambetta. His furniture was being packed up for removal to the Palais Bourbon, where he was about to take up residence as President of the Chamber,' and 'saw him again late at night at the office of his paper' (La Republique Francaise). 'Gambetta was then,' says a note added later, 'at the height of his power, and, in fact, Dictator. He was a patriot, but too big for the Republic.'
'On my return to London I found that Chamberlain was most anxious to see me,' and on February 5th Sir Charles went to Birmingham, to discuss their joint line of action in the coming Session. During this visit 'Chamberlain told me of Lord Beaconsfield's pleasant prophecies with regard to myself, of which I heard from all sides just after this time.'
The "pleasant prophecies" declared that Sir Charles would certainly be Prime Minister. Mr. Gladstone, it will be seen later, came to the conclusion in 1882 that Dilke would be his natural successor in the House of Commons; but this opinion was given only a little in advance of a widely received public estimate, and it came after the test of office had proved those qualities which Lord Beaconsfield discerned while the younger statesman was still only a private member of the Opposition, not promoted to the Front Bench.
But no one, even in 1879, doubted that Sir Charles was of Front Bench rank; and close upon this came a decisive opportunity in Parliament.
Trouble, which threatened to become acute, between the Zulu power under Cetewayo and his encroaching Boer neighbours had led the British Government to carry out the annexation of the Transvaal during the course of 1877. The Zulus were inclined to trust the British more than the Dutch; but the advent of Sir Bartle Frere as High Commissioner put a new complexion on matters. Frere had made up his mind that the Zulu power must be broken, and a pretext was soon found in a demand for the abolition of the Zulu military system. This ultimatum was presented on December 11th, 1878, by Frere, of his own motion, and without warning to the Home Government. The inevitable refusal followed, leading to invasion of the Zulu territory, with disastrous result. On January 23rd, 1879, Lord Chelmsford's force was cut to pieces at Isandhlwana; and it seemed possible that the whole colony of Natal might be overrun by Zulu impis.
This was the governing factor of the political situation at the moment when Parliament reopened in 1879. Sir Charles had not previously taken a prominent part in the discussion of South African affairs, and his attitude is indicated only by isolated passages in the Memoir.
In 1875, when Lord Carnarvon sent J. A. Froude to 'stump South Africa' in advocacy of a scheme of federation devised in Downing Street, Sir Charles condemned a mission which seemed to him to cast a slur on the local Colonial governments. In his opinion, this mission helped to create those disturbances which rent South Africa in the succeeding years. On May 27th, 1877, he noted that the Blue Book on the Transvaal, then published, was 'an indictment of the Republic intended to justify the annexation,' but that it did not 'show the existence of any overwhelming necessity for annexation, or, indeed, any necessity at all.' Yet he gave only a half- hearted support to Mr. Courtney's opposition to the South Africa Bill when those matters were debated in the House, for, as he wrote in a letter to the Spectator, he was opposed, "not to the policy of annexation, which, as leading up to confederation," he supported, "but to the manner in which that annexation had been carried out." It was said to have been done by the desire of the Dutch themselves. If so, why were three battalions of British troops still needed in the Transvaal? The Bill did not establish a self-governing federation; it only provided that federation might be established by an Order in Council. What guarantee had the Dutch, he asked, that such an order would ever be issued?
Events justified his question, for the promise was never made good, even when the Liberals themselves came into office, and Sir Charles resented the iniquity of this dealing.
In February, 1878, he met Froude at dinner, and 'discussed with him the South African question, on which we took widely different views, and of which his were to be the source of much unhappiness to the Mother Country and the Colonies.'
With the difficulty of the Transvaal the Zulu outbreak was indirectly connected. Great Britain had been drawn into strife with the Zulu power, which had for more than thirty years lived peaceably beside the Natal Government, only because the annexation had made England responsible for the peace of the disputed territories beyond the Vaal. There was also a strong if indirect connecting-link in the personality of Sir Bartle Frere, who, as High Commissioner in South Africa, had belittled the Boer claims, and who now by a violent stretch of authority had precipitated war with the Zulus.
After his discussion with Chamberlain at Birmingham, Sir Charles had decided to indict the Government's South African policy on the first possible occasion, and he communicated this intention to Lord Hartington. Owing to the prolonged winter Session there was to be no Queen's Speech, and consequently no Address, at the opening of Parliament, and Sir Stafford Northcote was to begin the proceedings with a general statement. Lord Hartington, after some hesitation as to the course to be pursued, ultimately commissioned Sir Charles to reply at once on behalf of the Opposition—a task which would naturally fall to the official leader of the party. The opportunity thus given to him was the more notable because the Liberal chiefs were divided as to the line which should be taken. Harcourt, Sir Charles records, 'tried to prevent me from bringing forward any motion as to the Zulu War,' but Chamberlain was strong in the opposite sense. "We want to din into the constituencies," he wrote, "that the Government policy is one of continual, petty, fruitless, unnecessary, and inglorious squabbles—all due to their bullying, nagging ways." This was consonant with the Birmingham leader's fierce opposition to Jingoism; and for once he shared the view of his titular leader.
'Hartington fell in with the view taken by Chamberlain, and my notice to call attention to the South African papers and the causes of the war was given with his consent. The bad news from the Cape '—news of Isandhlwana—' which came on February 11th, had changed his former view. My speech on Northcote's motion was on the 13th February.'
He then brought forward on behalf of the Liberal party a resolution condemning the Government's policy in South Africa, and more especially the conduct of Sir Bartle Frere. The date for this main attack was not fixed till after considerable delay, and before it arrived the words of the motion which stood in Sir Charles's name were annexed bodily, and put down in the name of Lord Lansdowne, to be moved in the Lords on an earlier day. Lord Lansdowne sat on the Liberal Front Bench in the Upper House (where he took an active part in criticism of Conservative policy), and Sir Charles called this proceeding "taking the bread out of a private member's mouth," despite the implied compliment to his tact in drafting the Resolution. Sunday, the 23rd March, he spent at Mentmore, Lord Rosebery's house, where Lord and Lady Granville were staying, and he notes:
'I could not but think (although Lord Granville was very civil and told me that he had advised the King of the Belgians to go to the House of Commons on the following Thursday to hear my speech) that if Lord Granville had thought that my speech was going to be a success, he would not have stolen my motion for Lord Lansdowne to bring it on first in the House of Lords. I could not see the wisdom of the tactics, because it was already certain we should have a better division in the Commons, proportionately speaking, than in the Lords. At Devonshire House, on the previous Wednesday, Lord Lansdowne came up to me in the entrance hall, where it is rather dark, and began talking to me, and as I did not see who it was, he introduced himself— "Lansdowne the pirate," of course in allusion to the robbery of my words.'
The words were—
"That this House, while willing to support Her Majesty's Government in all necessary measures for defending the possessions of Her Majesty in South Africa, regrets that the ultimatum which was calculated to produce immediate war should have been presented to the Zulu king without authority from the responsible advisers of the Crown, and that an offensive war should have been commenced without imperative or pressing necessity or adequate preparation; and this House further regrets that after the censure passed, upon the High Commissioner by Her Majesty's Government in the despatch of the 19th day of March, 1879, the conduct of affairs in South Africa should be retained in his hands."
'These words did not please all men. Fawcett wrote me two strong letters to protest against them. Lord Granville also discussed them at some length with me in writing. Fawcett was largely moved by detestation of Sir Bartle Frere, and, while my chief object was to stop the war, his object was to force Frere to resign. The feeling against the proconsul was strong among the Liberals.
'On the 25th the debate in the Lords took place. The House was thronged, the galleries being filled with ladies, and (there being a Court mourning) all in black—save one, Lady ——. She was in scarlet from top to toe, or more than toe, for she displayed a pair of long scarlet stockings to a startled House, and each member as he came in said, "Good gracious me, who's that?" so that Lansdowne could hardly begin for the buzz. His speech was dull, and the result was favourable to the Government. Two days later I brought forward my motion in the Commons, and had a great personal success, receiving the congratulations of all the leading men of both parties. I spoke for two hours and a half, and kept the House full, without ever for an instant being in doubt as to the complete success of the speech; greatly cheered by my own side, without being once questioned or interrupted by the other. But the speech was far from being my best speech, although it was by far my greatest success. It was an easy speech to make—a mere Blue-Book speech. The case from the papers was overwhelming. All that had to be done was to state it in a clear way, and I should think that more than half the speech consisted of mere reading of extracts, which, however, I read in such a way as to incorporate them in the body of the speech. The opening and the conclusion, both of which were effective, were not my own; for they were suggested to me, only I think on the same day, by William Rathbone, who sometimes thought of a good way of putting things. While I was gratified by the success of the speech, I could not help feeling how completely these things are a matter of opportunity, inasmuch as I had made dozens of better speeches in the House, of which some had been wholly unsuccessful.'
Nothing was wanting to the completeness of the after-effects of his House of Commons triumph.
'The general feeling seemed to be, as Lord Reay put it in his letter of congratulation, that my speech on South African affairs was "the Cape of Good Hope of the Liberal party."' [Footnote: Lord Reay (Baron Mackay of Ophemert), a Hollander by birth, then recently naturalized, spoke with special authority when South Africa was in question. The Barony was originally Scotch, and created in 1628. A peerage of the United Kingdom was conferred on Lord Reay (the eleventh Baron) in 1881.]
By this speech his contemporaries remember Sir Charles as a speaker. Sir George Trevelyan writes:
"His great speech on South Africa was a wonderful exposition, lucid, convincing, detailed, without being heavy. I can well recall how old members admired the manner in which he ticked off topic after topic, with its due amount of illustration from the Blue-Books."
A letter to Mrs. Pattison, written, as he says in it, "under the violent excitement of a splendid personal success," contains his own estimate. The congratulations of leading men of all parties were couched, he said, "in such a way as made me realize how badly I had always spoken before." And in his Memoir he adds the modest comment that 'praise was forthcoming in abundance. The only praise, however, that I can accept as fairly belonging to this speech, is praise for a past of work which had led up to it.'
The result, especially with an indolent man like Lord Hartington as leader, was that the conduct of the Opposition's case was increasingly left to Sir Charles Dilke. Truth put the popular view amusingly enough in Hiawathan verse:
"Never absent, always ready To take up the burning question Of the hour and make a motion: Be it Cyprus, be it Zulu, He can speak for hours about it From his place below the gangway. No Blue Book avails to fright him: He's the stomach of an ostrich For the hardest facts and figures, And assimilates despatches In the most surprising fashion."
A serious tribute to his success follows:
'I was asked by Sir Thomas Bazley, who was eighty-two years of age, to stand for Manchester in his place, with a promise from Manchester that my expenses would be paid. But I was under a volunteered pledge not to leave Chelsea until beaten, which I thought I should be "this time."'
Sir Charles records as one feature of the debate the sudden and painful failure of Mr. Lowe's hitherto great debating powers:
'On the second night of the debate I dined with Sir Charles Forster' (member for Walsall, and well known as a dinner-giver to the chiefs of the Liberal party) 'to meet Lord Hartington, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Bright. Almost the sole topic of conversation was the breakdown in the debate of Lowe, who had apparently been trusting as usual to his hitherto marvellous memory, when this had failed him, and he stopped short' (in the middle of a sentence), 'and failed ever, henceforward, to regain his power.'
The future of Greece engaged Sir Charles's attention far more constantly than this South African embroilment. Cyprus was a branch of the Greek question, and (in a speech of March 20th, 1879) he had attacked Wolseley's administration of the island. The General replied in a Blue Book, which was debated on June 20th, 1879:
'The Cypriotes were so excited that they were sending me not only every fact, but every story, and as it was difficult to sift them in London, I dare say some of the charges were untrue and some were certainly trivial.'
One telegram had complained bitterly of the injustice done to two priests whose beards were cut off in a British gaol, although nothing was said as to the justice of their imprisonment. But "the existence of forced labour under our rule had certainly been admitted," said Sir Charles in his speeches on the question, and on this and on the law which the Government of Cyprus had passed, taking to itself powers of arbitrary exile without trial, he rested a case in which he persevered throughout the Session, debating Cyprus 'at such length, I fear, as to bore the House.' He relates that he once began a speech on Cyprus before a party of members set out for the Crystal Palace to dine, and was still delivering the same speech when they came back. Later, when in office, he was able to make the administrative changes he desired for the benefit of the island.
One result of Sir Charles's interest in the affairs of Cyprus was to bring down upon him 'an enormous correspondence in modern Greek, to read which I had to engage the services of a translator.'
'The Cypriote Bishops are the most long-winded people with whom I ever had to do, and their communications, although flattering, were somewhat burdensome. I was also receiving many letters in modern Greek from Athens and various centres of Greek activity with regard to the proceedings of the Greek Committee, and I received addresses from Epirus and from the other Turkish provinces and islands inhabited by Greeks in which there was any thought of cession. I was appointed Honorary President of the "Zenon," whatever that might be, and received similar appointments from various Greek societies. I am, indeed, also a "citizen of Athens."'
He received the freedom of that city on July 12th, 1879; the Grand Cross of the Saviour was also offered, but declined.
'On Sunday, March 30th, Hartington sent to me to exchange notes upon the position of the Greek question, and his attitude seemed to me that, as he did not understand anything about it, he hoped I was being careful and not doing anything very wrong. At all events, he left me to myself, and I delivered my soul in the House.'
This he did on April 17th, putting forward a complaint that, although Greece looked to Great Britain's representatives at the Congress of Berlin for a traditional championship of the Hellenic claims, Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury had allowed the proposal for an extension of Greek territory to come from French diplomatists; and, further, that the recommendation to this effect inserted in the Treaty of Berlin had been evaded by Turkey. He described in his speech the delays and the unsatisfactory proposals which had been put forward by Turkey in conference with Greek delegates, and demanded European pressure to carry out the declared intentions of Europe. A special obligation of honour rested upon England, so he held, because England had induced Greece to desist from war when Turkey was at grips with Russia, and when the Greeks, by attacking, might easily have secured possession of the territory they desired.
These representations were put forward a month later as the general appeal of the Greek Committee, which had existed as a secret body for a year, but was formally and publicly organized on April 25th, 1879. Preparations were begun for a public meeting, and after several conferences with Lord Lansdowne
'I invited the speakers and drew up an appeal to the public, and acted as Chairman of the Executive Committee, with Rosebery for President and Lefevre for Treasurer. The meeting was held at Willis's Rooms on May 17th, 1879, and was attended by men of all shades of opinion—the Duke of Westminster, Sir Robert Peel, an independent Conservative, and several other Conservatives, as well as the mass of the Liberals. I presided, and Lansdowne moved the first resolution.'
Dilke said afterwards that this meeting had been 'sufficiently interesting to keep Harcourt and a Duke standing for three hours—putting Harcourt first because he was the more august.'
Immediately afterwards he went to Liverpool, as the guest of the Liverpool Reform Club, to speak specially upon the Greek question.
'My speech was dull; the best thing said in the course of the evening was said by a man who had been Daily News correspondent in Crete— "They talk of Europe! What is Europe? Europe is a number of wicked old gentlemen with decorations, assembled in a room."
'During my stay in the neighbourhood of Liverpool I was the guest at Knowsley of Lord and Lady Derby, who were trying by all means in their power to emphasize the fact that they were quite ready to go over to the Liberal side' (as they did within the year). 'I tried hard to get Rosebery to make some speeches in the country upon the Greek question, but this attempt was a failure. He was greatly pressed to go to Manchester in the same way in which I had gone to Liverpool, but after taking a long time to think of the thing, he distinctly refused. I never quite knew why; but caution was always the predominant element in his nature, though he was occasionally rash just when he should have been cautious.'
In June Sir Charles became possessed of 'a curious document which he translated and made public.' According to the story told him, the letter had been in the mailbags aboard a steamer which was wrecked, and it had been retrieved along with the rest from the bottom of the sea. But
'it was probably bought for the Greeks by their spy Fitzgerald, the "journalist" who afterwards disappeared—finally—about 1894. He had, however, often disappeared for some years. The letter was stamped with an Italian stamp for foreign post, addressed to Mouktar Pasha, commanding in chief the Turkish army in Epirus; and, although the envelope was plain and not calculated to attract attention, the letter was on Italian Foreign Office paper, and dated from the Foreign Office at Rome on April 6th. It was from Corte, an Italian Consul-General who had been employed in Albania and afterwards in the Italian Foreign Office, and pointed to Italian intrigue in Albania to make the Italians rather than the Greeks the successors of the Turks in Albania and Epirus. Seven years later I saw a good deal of Mouktar Pasha at Constantinople, but I did not mention this letter either to him or to the Sultan. It referred to Mouktar's idea of "colonization in Epirus," and, from the context, and from what we know of previous proceedings, it would seem that this colonization of Epirus was to have been a colonization by Italian peasants.'
This letter came to Sir Charles as President of the Greek Committee, and here may be added notice of the birth of an enterprise kindred in spirit to the political association of those who loved Greece:
'On Monday, June 16th, I took part in the meeting at which the Hellenic Society was founded, it having grown out of a conference held at Cambridge between Mr. Newton of the British Museum (afterwards Sir Charles Newton), Professor Colvin, and me. The first resolution was moved by Lord Morley (Earl Morley, afterwards Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords), and seconded by Professor Sayce; the second by me, and seconded by the Dean of St. Paul's; the third by Sir John Lubbock, and seconded by Professor Jebb; and the fourth by Professor Colvin, and seconded by Gennadius.'
Two other questions of abiding interest were touched on by Sir Charles this year. That of Upper Houses is mentioned in connection with interviews with Sir Graham Berry, one of his Colonial acquaintances.
'Mr. (afterwards Sir) Graham Berry, Prime Minister, or, as they call it in the Colonies, "Premier" of Victoria; a rough, able man, son of a Chelsea tradesman.... We arranged a reception, which was given to Berry by the parish of Chelsea at the Chelsea Vestry Hall, myself in the chair, when we presented him with an address expressing the hope that the Victoria Lower House might prevail in its struggle against the Upper. Professor Pearson, formerly of Oxford—a Free Trader, though Mr. Berry was a Protectionist—was with him, and they were over to try to persuade the Colonial Office to support them against the Upper House.'
'Sir Graham Berry was afterwards the Agent-General of his Colony, but still possessed the confidence of the Liberal party in Victoria in a higher degree than any other man, and he afterwards returned to local politics and became Speaker. Pearson wrote a great book before he died.'
Sir Graham Berry wrote later in this year 'for opinions upon a Bill of reform of the Upper House in his Parliament,' to which Sir Charles replied 'that I disliked Upper Houses so much as not to be in favour of reforming them.'
This attitude he always maintained. His views upon the whole question of representation were this year put into a pamphlet which
'advocated, in addition to the reforms upon which Liberals were agreed, the system of double elections, as on the Continent—that is to say, a second poll to be held when at the first the person at the head of the poll did not obtain a clear majority of votes.'
The other question takes the first place in Sir Charles's note of his conversations with Chamberlain at the beginning of the Session. This touched on economic difficulties, and runs thus:
"That it would be wise to have a motion on the condition of the realm: probably by moving for a Committee to inquire into the cause of the present distress, and that Mundella would be the best person to move, especially if the Front Bench would support him, as the distress is most severe in Sheffield."
Some years, however, elapsed before Sir Charles was able to deal with such questions authoritatively as President of the Local Government Board.
We can trace at this time the beginning of those close relations which Dilke and Chamberlain cultivated (even after they had joined Mr. Gladstone's Government) with the new power that was growing up in Parliament. On February 15th, 'we were anxious that the Irish should vote with us about the Zulu War, the more so because her leaders were hesitating upon the subject,' and Sir Charles invited Mr. Parnell to meet Mr. Chamberlain at dinner; but they 'were able to make but little of him.' Further meetings took place, from which the only practical result was a promise of Parnell's support in their opposition to the County Boards Bill, which the Conservative Government were putting forward as their main measure. The ground of opposition was that 'it was better to leave the present system alone than to create new Boards only half elective.'
The Memoir has a note respecting one of these meetings with the Irish leader at which Parnell was accompanied by Major Nolan, then member for County Galway:
'Nolan showed opportunist Nationalism; Parnell irreconcilable Nationalism. The latter let out, in spite of his great caution, that if we chose to go to Ireland on Mill's land programme, we could destroy his position and the Home Rule movement. Nolan said that a party which would give security of tenure to the small tenants could afford to leave the large ones out. (To touch the large tenancies in that sense would be virtually to charge the possession of property in Ireland with partial compensation.)'
At this moment, the beginning of 1879, the purely Nationalist agitation for self-government had not yet been joined to the demand for an improved and freer status for the Irish tenant. This was mainly the work of Davitt, and Davitt had scarcely yet been heard of by the wider public.
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL INTERESTS
Hospitable and popular, Sir Charles had the best of what those days could offer in talk and talkers. He compared his own country very unfavourably with the possible standard of social intercourse:
'In England and in France people seem wholly unaware that they cannot either in politics or in literature deal with or even understand questions involving philosophical and historical considerations without any training in either philosophy or history, and one sees writings and speeches by persons who think themselves members of an educated class which are unintelligible to any who have the slightest discipline of either habit of thought or form of expression.'
'In the best English political and literary society there is no conversation. Mr. Gladstone will talk with much charm about matters that he does not understand, or books that he is not really competent to criticize; but his conversation has no merit to those who are acquainted with the subjects on which he speaks. Men like Lord Rosslyn, [Footnote: Lord Rosslyn died in 1890.] Lord Houghton, Lord Granville (before his deafness), had a pleasant wit and some cultivation, as had Bromley Davenport, Beresford Hope, and others, as well as Arthur Balfour, but none of these men were or are at a high level; and where you get the high level in England, you fall into priggism. On the whole, Hastings, Duke of Bedford, was the best specimen that I ever knew of an English gentleman as regards learning and conversation; but then he was horrible as a man, in spite of his pretty manners, because ferocious in his ideas upon property. Now, at Rome is to be found that which is unknown in London, in Paris, in St. Petersburg, and unknown, I fancy, at Vienna and Berlin, although of these I know far less—namely, conversation not priggish or academic, and yet consistently maintained at a high level.
'I often heard Mr. Gladstone talk well at little Charles Forster's. "Mr. G." also seemed to me to talk especially well at the table of Sir Walter James, [Footnote: The first Lord Northbourne.] an old gentleman who had left Parliament soon after I was born. In those two houses he was supreme; but if Coleridge or the Viper (Abraham Hayward) or Browning were present, who talked better than he did, and would not give way to him, he was less good. Villiers, who was another good talker, "Mr. G." could not abide, and his presence also was a damper.'
In the next year we have 'a dinner at the French Embassy, where Gladstone was very agreeable, talking French well in an old-fashioned style.'
Also, in 1880, there is a dinner to which
'the first man to come was the Duke of Cambridge, who gave Mr. Gladstone his left hand, and said that his right was too painful through gout. Mr. Gladstone threw his arms up to the sky, as though he had just heard of the reception of Lord Beaconsfield in heaven, or of some other similar terrible news. His habit of play-acting in this fashion, in the interest of a supposed politeness, is a very odd one, giving a great air of unreality to everything he does; but of course it is a habit of long years.
'I heard good talk about this time at Coleridge's house, but preferred his Blakes—which were even better than mine—to his conversation.'
Under the date February 23rd is record of sitting up late at night at the Lubbocks' with Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, the Judge:
'We did not agree upon any point, for his opinions upon all things, especially hanging, were the exact opposite of my own. He talked of "our dear old British gallows." But we got on well, and I was one of those who greatly regretted his breakdown, which occurred some ten years later. He and Leslie Stephen were the sons of Sir James Stephen, Professor of History at Cambridge—very unlike one another in early life, when J. F. Stephen was a fat, half-Whig, half-Tory lawyer and Saturday Reviewer, and Leslie a starved-looking, free-thinking Radical parson, afterwards to throw off his Orders. As they grew old they became much alike in appearance, and in opinion.'
There is a note of spending a Sunday in March 'at Aston Clinton, with the widow of Sir Anthony de Rothschild and her daughter, Mrs. Cyril Flower, afterwards Lady Battersea.
'Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild and his wife came to dinner, and, well knowing as I did two other members of the family, I could see how strangely like a Royal family the Rothschilds are in one respect— namely, that they all quarrel with one another, but are united as against the world. When Cyril Flower, in 1878, made a speech unfriendly to the Government, but not more so than might naturally be expected at that time from a Liberal member, Baron Lionel sent for him, and told him that it was "wicked and abominable for him to attack a man who had been a poor Jew and was now the greatest man in England." "In Europe, papa," cut in Nathaniel, who was present at this public cursing.
'From March 15th to the 17th I stayed at York House with the Grant Duffs, where I met the Marquis and Marquise de la Ferronnays, Henry Cowper, Minto, Lord Reay, and Herbert Spencer. La Ferronnays was at this time Military Attache at the French Embassy, but resigned as soon as the Republic became consolidated, and, being elected to the Chamber, was soon the fighting leader of the high Tory party—a not clever, but excellent gentleman, like the others.
'On Monday, March 31st, I dined at the Harcourts', but, alas I this time no Schouvalof. His place was occupied by Rancez, the Spanish Minister, who had the same diplomatic capacity for concealing the truth while talking with equal apparent frankness, but who was less amusing.
'On Monday, April 7th, I dined with Lord and Lady Arthur Russell, to meet old Lady Russell. I had seen her once before at Pembroke Lodge, and once at Harcourt's at dinner, on both of which previous occasions I had seen Lord Russell too—a shadow of his former self.... On this occasion Lady Russell was alone, Lord Russell having died in the previous year. [Footnote: In 1878.] The old lady was pleasant, and gave me a general invitation to come to Pembroke Lodge any or every Sunday, an invitation of which I afterwards availed myself.
'On April 9th I left for France for Easter, and had long and pleasant breakfasts at the Palais Bourbon with Gambetta, varied by a grand dinner on April 16th, at which I met many of those who afterwards held office—Ferry, afterwards Prime Minister; Rouvier, afterwards Prime Minister; Spuller, afterwards Minister for Foreign Affairs; Constans, afterwards Minister of the Interior; and Freycinet, afterwards Prime Minister—all of them dull men enough. Spuller, a kindly and pleasant dull man; Constans, a red-faced Burgundy drinker; Freycinet, a little white intriguer—on the whole a sorry crew, Gambetta towering above them in ability, in joviality, and even in reading.'
In a scrap of an old letter, dated Wednesday, April 16th, Sir Charles says:
"I've spent nearly all my time with Gambetta. He said that he thinks Sella 'le premier homme politique de l'Italie, mais enrage protectionniste.' He says he told him that if he were not so violent a Protectionist he would be 'l'homme absolument necessaire.'"
On this follows later the observation:
'If Gambetta was anything, he was anti-Russian and a Free Trader, and his friends, professing to continue his work, became, after about 1887, rabid Russians and fierce Protectionists.'
He speaks of Gambetta's 'contempt for Sella because Sella was a Protectionist,' and adds: 'I suppose Gambetta would have become one had he lived.'
While Dilke was in Paris he received a letter from Chamberlain referring to a motion about 'the interference of the Crown in politics,' of which Mr. Dillwyn had given notice. Mr. Chamberlain thought the subject "certainly a popular one, but very difficult to treat in the House of Commons."
'Dillwyn's motion was obviously what people would call "interesting," but obviously also highly dangerous, as it was really impossible to prove the case. The Queen does interfere constantly; more, however, when Liberal Ministers are in power than when she has a Conservative Cabinet, because the Conservatives on the whole do what she likes, as she is a Conservative; whereas the Liberals are continually doing, and indeed exist for the purpose of doing, the things she does not like. But it is very doubtful how far her interference is unconstitutional, and it would be quite impossible to prove it, unless Mr. Gladstone, for example, were to publish her letters—a not very likely supposition. The Queen is a woman of great ability.... She writes to the Prime Minister about everything she does not like, which, when he is a Liberal, means almost everything that he says or does. She complains of his colleagues' speeches. She complains, with less violence, of his own. She protests against Bills. She insists that administrative acts should not be done without delay, for the purpose of consulting with regard to them persons whose opinions she knows will be unfavourable. But if the Minister acts as she directs, he, and not she, becomes responsible; and he may be impeached, for example, for so doing. And... her action, to my mind, is, strictly speaking, constitutional. Even in the House of Commons, and in a speech taking a rough popular view of the Constitution, it would be difficult to maintain that with her immense experience the Queen is not justified in asking for time in order that men of distinction should be consulted upon various acts; and anything beyond this would be mere matter of inference, not proving the case even if the facts were known, which of course they are not. Our poor Dillwyn on this occasion, prompted by Trevelyan, walked into a hornets' nest; and, as he did it without consulting his two leaders, his leaders were not bound to follow him.'
'On March 21st I dined with Sir Baliol and Lady Bret, meeting the German Ambassador (Count Munster) and his daughter, and Lord and Lady Derby. She was not at all bitter about Lord Beaconsfield, although very bitter about the Court; and after dinner Lord Derby said that the Queen was now carrying on a confidential correspondence with every quarter of the globe, so that he was evidently bitter too....
'On April 22nd I received from Auberon Herbert a letter: "Things look well. The gilding is much tarnished, and shows the brass underneath. You have done right well. Many thanks for your letter. I went to Leeds—on the chance but I suspect I am best out of the House. I can do more to make people believe in themselves, and not in our Moslem idea of government—perhaps—outside the House than in it. You do agree in the fearfully paralyzing effect of belief in Government, don't you?" The last words reveal the growth in Auberon Herbert of anarchic views, which shortly afterwards turned him for all practical purposes from a Radical into a Tory, or, rather, turned him back to the point from which he had started, for as a Tory private secretary to a Tory Cabinet Minister he had begun political life at the time when he drew up the plan for the action of the troops against the mob on the day of the Hyde Park railings being torn down—a plan so drastic that the Home Secretary, Walpole, refused to move.
'On Wednesday, April 23rd, I dined with Waddy, M.P., Q.C., [Footnote: Afterwards County Court Judge.] a man who would have been a Judge but for his odd name and his odder manners, "to meet Lord Hartington and the President of the Wesleyan Conference," an odd mixture. Waddy is a Wesleyan, and wanted Hartington to make the acquaintance of the leading Wesleyans in England, and took this course to bring about the result.
'My Sundays at this time I had taken to spend at Pembroke Lodge, preferring it to Strawberry Hill as quieter, for we often had there (besides Lady Russell) only Lady Agatha and Rollo Russell, and little Lord Russell when he was home for the holidays from Winchester.
'On Monday, April 28th, I had an interview with the Duke of Argyll at his wish with regard to the Eastern Question generally, in which he took deep interest, and on which he made, perhaps, on the whole, the most conclusive speech delivered in Parliament against the policy of the Conservative Government. The Duke of Argyll was at this time the most finished and (for a stately occasion and a cultivated audience) about the most convincing speaker that could be found—to me, not so convincing as Gathorne Hardy, and, to all men, less gifted with charm and melody of voice than Mr. Bright; but fine in the extreme, with no serious drawbacks except a little too much satisfaction with himself; a very able man, as his monumental book upon the Eastern Question will suffice to show. In philosophy he dabbled, and for dabblers was a philosopher.
'On Friday, May 9th, I lunched with Lord and Lady Lansdowne, and found her one of the nicest women that I had ever met—a plain and simple lady. In the evening I dined with Lady Elizabeth Biddulph, and made the acquaintance of Herbert of the Colonial Office, whom I afterwards heard described by Grant Duff in a public speech as "the perfect permanent official." I had later, when Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to act twice for a short time during changes in the Colonial Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonial Office, in addition to my own duties, and I was able to discover for myself how true was what Grant Duff said. On one of these occasions Hicks Beach, who had been Colonial Secretary, gave notice to call attention to salaries of officers on the West Coast of Africa, and I at once sent over to the Colonial Office to tell Herbert that he had done so. Herbert immediately replied that the salaries were low, and the coast unhealthy, and that salaries could hardly be reduced; while, on the other hand, when Sir Michael had been Secretary of State, he had not proposed to raise them; but that so soon as we could learn which it was that he intended—i.e., to lower or to raise—he would send me, "in either event, a perfect case."
'On May 10th George Sheffield, the alter ego of Lord Lyons, asked himself to breakfast, and I gathered that Lord Lyons had told him to come and pump me as to what Gambetta had indicated of his intentions in France, as George Sheffield kept telling me that Gambetta evidently intended to make himself Dictator in name, as he was in fact.
'On Sunday, May 11th, I dined with Edmund Yates and his wife, meeting Irving, Browning, Sala, Mrs. Lynn Linton (just back from three years in Florence), Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Murray, and some others. I was intensely amused at watching Mrs. Douglas Murray, agreeable but rather superfine, looking at the Bardolphian nose of "George Augustus," who took her in to dinner, and of whom she had evidently never heard, and wondering what manner of wild man he could be.
'On May 17th, after the Greek Committee, I dined with the Lyulph Stanleys.... Chamberlain took Lord Airlie, whom he had never previously met, for Sir George Campbell, and addressed him in a friendly but disrespectful manner, whereupon Lord Airlie promptly and publicly said: "It is all right. You take me for Sir George Campbell. I am used to it; "for they were extraordinarily alike. [Footnote: Mr. Gladstone once made exactly the same mistake at a great public meeting in Scotland in 1879.] In fact, Lord Airlie used to wear his ribbon oftener than other people chiefly because Campbell had not got one, so that it formed a distinction, but not a sufficient one, for members of the House sometimes said to me at parties, "What is that ribbon that Campbell is wearing?" It must have been a relief to Sir George Campbell when Lord Airlie died; but it would have been a greater relief to Lord Airlie had Campbell died first.
'The next day I spent at Lubbock's.... Fitzmaurice, Fawcett, and I went for a walk to the oak under which Wilberforce decided to abolish slavery, and, strolling on, came to a stile, where we were doubtful of our way. Fawcett sat down, and Fitzmaurice, looking for the road, cried out: "Here comes a clod. We will ask him." The slouching labourer was Lord Derby, as we recognized with a loud laugh, joined in with terrific shouting by Fawcett as we privately informed him of the cause, at which Lord Derby was no doubt astonished. However, he did as well as the yokel, for he led us towards home. My low opinion of Lord Derby as a politician does not prevent my thinking that in private he is a most agreeable man; but his appearance is against him. He took us round by Holmwood, where Pitt lived, and Hayes, where his father, Chatham, lived.
'Whitsuntide I spent partly upon the river in my canoe, [Footnote: Canoeing had at this time taken for him the place of rowing, and he spent his Sundays on the river.] partly at Lord Derby's, and partly at Dudbrook, Lady Waldegrave's place in Essex; but the first part of my holiday was spoiled by a summer flood, although the river was very beautiful, there being beds of the snowflake or summer snowdrop in bloom, with large white cups tipped with green. They are all gone now (1900). [Footnote: One at least grew in the willow thicket by his house at Dockett Eddy in May, 1911, after his death, close by a nesting swan—two sights which would have filled him with interest and joy.] The weather was so cold that Lord Derby called it "winter dressed in green." He and his wife seemed to me to have come over to our side with almost indecent violence and suddenness; but to be called "Titus Oates" in the House of Lords by your relative and successor is too much. [Footnote: This speech of Lord Salisbury's was made on July 18th, 1878.] The close family connection between the Derbys and Lord Salisbury had a great deal to answer for in the sharpness of the quarrel.
'At the beginning of June I received at my house two distinguished Frenchmen whom I had not previously known: Edmond About and Coquelin the actor, the latter introduced to me by Gambetta.'
Coquelin was thus introduced:
'"CHAMBRE DES DEPUTES, '"PRESIDENCE, '"31 Mai, 1879.
'"J'introduis aupres de vous mon ami Coquelin dont vous pourrez apprecier le charmant esprit, et je vous le recommande sans autrement faire de phrases, sachant que vous savez a premier vu reconnaitre les vrais hommes.
'"C'est a l'ami que je confie l'ami,
'"A vous, LEON GAMBETTA."
'About dined with me at the House of Commons on the day on which the House of Commons met after the Whitsuntide recess; but I did not at the moment know his peculiarity of being unable to touch any article of food which contained onion in any form or had been cooked with it, so that I am afraid I starved him. On June 13th I had prepared accordingly, and he dined with me, and met all the people who spoke good French—Leighton, Mitford, Fitzmaurice, Borthwick, Barrington, Bourke (the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs), Chamberlain—and Montebello and La Ferronnays of his own Embassy, and Gennadius the Greek. It was hard to say whether Mitford, Leighton, or Borthwick spoke the best French. But certainly neither Fitzmaurice, who was a quarter French, nor the three Frenchmen, could venture to contest matters with such talkers. I never heard any fault found with Leighton's French except that it is too good, though I have heard people declare that his Italian and his German were yet better; but I myself could see no fault in Mitford's. About naturally came to the conclusion, not entirely justified by fact, that all Englishmen could speak French.
'On June 22nd I gave a dinner for Gambetta's friends, Coquelin and Hecht, at which I had Lord Granville, Lord Lansdowne, Malet, Montgelas, Lord Reay, Lord Arthur Russell, and Gavard. Lord Granville was at his very best, shining as he always did when he could talk French theatre anecdotes to a man playing up to him as could Coquelin.
'I think it was on Thursday night, June 19th (1879), that, about midnight, Pender brought me a telegram to the House of Commons telling me that Prince Louis Napoleon had been killed by the Zulus, in order that I might telegraph it to Gambetta. I did so; and in the morning received from Gambetta a telegram asking me to repeat my telegram if it really came from me, evidently thinking that he had been hoaxed in my name, for my news reached Paris long before the thing was known there. The Queen was not told till 10.30 a.m., and she then informed the Empress Eugenie, so that I knew it eleven hours before the poor mother.'
On Sunday, June 29th, Sir Charles had stayed at Strawberry Hill. Within the same week Lady Waldegrave died suddenly. He was among the friends who went down to see her buried at Chewton, near Chewton Priory, her place in Somersetshire.
'Carlingford was present at the funeral, although his condition was very painful to his friends and he refused to leave the place, and remained there, with great fortitude but little wisdom, for a long time, until his nerve was completely gone. He never was afterwards the same man, and, although Mr. Gladstone put him into his Cabinet in 1881, for friendship's sake, [Footnote: There was another reason: his intimate knowledge of the details of the Irish Land Question, then the subject of legislation. He became Lord Privy Seal on the resignation of the Duke of Argyll.] he had become a broken invalid, and was unable even to bear the smallest reference to past days or even the sudden sight of friends who had known him in happier times.'
On July 8th there is a note of dining with Lord and Lady Derby, where were 'Lord Odo Russell and a good many other interesting people; Odo Russell always easily the first wherever he goes. He told me, what I was glad to hear, that Bismarck was most favourable to Greece.'
'July.—Two Crown Princes were in London at this time, and to both of them I had to be introduced as the maker of speeches in the House which they had heard: the Crown Prince of Sweden and the Hereditary Duke (son of the Grand Duke) of Baden. Like all Kings and Princes, except the King of Greece, and in later days the Emperor William II., they seemed to me heavy men, bored by having to pretend to be thoughtful persons, and I found that difficulty in distinguishing them the one from the other, which has always oppressed me in dealing with Royal personages.'
'At this time I had several interviews with Cardinal Manning, at his wish, about the Irish primary education question, in which I agreed with him, differing, however, wholly from him with regard to English education, which caused him always to reproach me with having what he playfully called a "geographical conscience."'
'In the many visits that I received from the Cardinal and paid to him at the end of July and beginning of August, 1879, I was amused by finding how much he cared for general gossip and even scandal. He insisted on talking to me about Sarah Bernhardt, and Gambetta, and the Prince of Wales, and all sorts and conditions of people. He told me that if he was not Cardinal Archbishop he would stand for Westminster in the Radical interest. But, Radical though he be in social questions, he is a ferocious Jingo.'
Manning, unlike almost all other Englishmen of his creed, had a sympathy for Irish Nationalism. Dilke shared the Cardinal-Archbishop's view as to the power of Rome in Irish politics, as may be seen from the concluding sentence of this passage from a letter written by him in August, 1879, with regard to the Act establishing what was called the Royal University:
"Shaw is a Protestant—a Congregationalist—who once was a preacher and now is a banker, but he is the leader of the Irish party, and speaks for the Bishops, as did Butt, who also was a Protestant. Parnell, too, is a Protestant, curiously enough. Biggar was, but has turned. I don't think popular feeling is engaged; but you must either govern through and with the priests—or by force."
Mr. Shaw's day of influence was nearly ended. The revolutionary party—for they aimed at, and effected nothing less than, a revolution—led by Parnell in the House and by Davitt in the country, were sweeping away the staunch adherents of pure constitutionalism, among whom Shaw and Butt were to be numbered. The Irish party was not the only one which contained conflicting elements:
'Manning attached more importance to an understanding with me and Chamberlain than to one with Hartington, and sided with us in the conflict which followed the scene between Hartington and Chamberlain on July 7th.'
Sir Charles describes the occurrence, though somewhat toning down a sufficiently stormy passage:
'What occurred was this: James, who was Hartington's right-hand man, and absolutely in his confidence, had started a debate on flogging, and came to us and told us that he quite agreed in our view that much should be made of it, and that it offered a good opportunity for getting rid of flogging in the Army, and then went away to dinner. Our men kept up the debate with a good deal of violence of language; and then Hartington, strolling in after dinner, and hearing that there was this obstruction, made a violent attack upon poor Hopwood (the Queen's Counsel, afterwards Recorder of Liverpool, a member of the Radical Club) and on those acting with him, for obstruction. Chamberlain, much nettled by this attack upon our men below the gangway for doing only that which they had been told to do, got up and ironically referred to Hartington as "the late leader," and I was stung, by Fawcett clumsily siding with Hartington, into supporting Chamberlain and Hopwood.
'My talents of diplomacy were called into requisition after the Hartington-Chamberlain quarrel, and I was very proud of managing to get through nineteen clauses of the Irish University Bill on the next day, July 8th, stopping all divisions except one, in which Parnell and I told together, and got Hartington into our lobby, which was, I think, a triumph of conciliation.
'Later in the month the Whigs, or men above the gangway, showed great anger at the completeness of Hartington's surrender to us, which, indeed, meant more than the immediate conquest, for it involved the ultimate supersession of Hartington by Gladstone. Harcourt, James, and Adam [Footnote: The Right Hon. W. P. Adam, afterwards Governor of Madras.] (the Chief Whip), in giving Chamberlain the victory by insisting that Hartington should yield, were considering the constituencies, not the House. As regarded the House, the popularity of stamping upon us would have been great. There was strong Whig dislike of our activity, and strong Radical personal hatred among ourselves. If Chamberlain were to have fought Hartington on any question on which he had not the Liberal constituencies with him, he would have got the worst of it; but then he was too wise to stir on any question on which he could not at least carry all the active elements of the party in large towns. The anti-Chamberlain set went to work to get up a banquet to Hartington, and were very cross with me when I told them that I was certain that the Whips would not let Hartington accept the banquet unless they obtained Chamberlain's signature to the requisition. It, of course, turned out as I expected. Some twenty men said that they would not sign unless Chamberlain did so, and he was then begged to sign, and, when he did, at once deprived the manifestation of all significance. It was all rather small and mean, but when one went to the root of the matter, one saw that the whole difficulty sprang from the fact that the Whigs had now no principles. Once upon a time they had had principles, but their principles had been adopted by the other side, and long before 1879 their distinctive opinions had been taken from them. A party cannot be dignified and consistent if its chiefs and the mass of its rank and file have no principles. My own opinion, which I preached on all occasions, was that the right course in these democratic days was for leaders to say, "Here are my opinions, but I know that on certain points they are not those of a majority;" and not to continue to pretend that all agreed when, as a fact, they differed.