It is easy to understand why the foregoing projects were dropped; but why Sir Charles never published the book on Russia which he was known to have had in preparation is not so apparent. He had paid four protracted visits to the country, travelled over a great part of it, and was intimately acquainted with Russians of the most widely differing opinions. Obviously he would have enjoyed writing the book that he had planned. He had actually fixed the date of publication, when he found that Mr. Hepworth Dixon had come, almost at the same time, to a decision to write on his subject. On August 3rd, 1869, he wrote to Mr. Dixon:
"My Dear Dixon,
"In reference to your request that in good feeling and friendship towards you I should defer the publication of my Russia from February 1st, 1870 (the date fixed with Macmillan), to a later period, I have carefully thought the matter over, and have decided to do as you wish. The only condition that I make is that you will write to me by return of post saying whether, if I fix January 1st, 1871, as my day, you will date your preface not later than February 1st, 1870, and issue your first edition not more than a week after that date."
Dixon wrote back on the same day:
"My Dear Charles,
"I am more pleased at your resolution than words can say. It is more than right. It is friendly and noble."
'Mr. Dixon immediately went to Russia, where we met in the course of the autumn, and speedily published his New Russia, a remarkable book considering the haste with which it was prepared. After five visits to Russia, I handed over the whole of my notes to my brother, who spent two years at one time in that country, and who finished the book.' [Footnote: Only two chapters ever appeared—in magazines.]
Sir Charles's contributions to the Athenaeum began while he was still at Cambridge. His article of October 22nd, 1864, [Footnote: See Chapter V. (Vol. I.)] was the first of a long series of reviews and notices, which continued unbrokenly till within a week of his death. It was natural that, as years went by, his knowledge and experience should be drawn upon for reviews of important political biographies, and of books on imperial and colonial questions or military history. But he did not confine himself entirely to such grave topics. The files of the Athenaeum contain many columns from his hand dealing with the lighter matters of topography (especially in France), travel, and fiction. The fiction was mainly French, modern English novels commending themselves little to his liking, though he was among the earliest and steadiest, if also among the more discriminating, admirers of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson's Prince Otto had a place with his favourite books. Another subject which attracted his pen was the local and legendary history of his beloved Provence. His intimate acquaintance with the beliefs and fancies of that region could be gathered from his slightest notice of an ephemeral book on the country, as readily as his store of political knowledge and familiarity with the events that made history in his time from an extended review of a volume of L'Empire Liberal or the life of a leading contemporary in the House of Commons. In neither case could his hand be hid.
In influencing the choice of contributors to his paper, he threw his weight always on the side of the man who had complete knowledge of his subject. No brilliancy of style could make up in his eyes for lack of precision in thought or inaccuracy in statement. Next in order he appeared to value in a reviewer a judicial quality of mind, as essential to a sane and balanced criticism. "He disapproved"—to quote Mr. C. A. Cook again—"of anything fanciful in expression or any display of sentiment;" but, so long as writers kept clear of these literary pitfalls, he let them go their own road of style, with ready appreciation for any freshness or liveliness they exhibited on the journey. Reviews of French books were a special object of care, and for the Athenaeum's annual survey of French literature he bestirred himself to secure the best hand available. In a letter to M. Joseph Reinach, dated July, 1888, he gives a list of the distinguished men—including MM. About, De Pressense, and Sarrazin—who had written this survey in past years, ending with a suggestion that M. Reinach himself might perhaps be willing to undertake the task.
In his writing, as in his speaking, his object was always either to place facts before his audience, or to develop a closely reasoned argument based upon the facts. He took no trouble to cultivate literary graces in this connection; rather he seemed to distrust them, as in his speeches he distrusted and avoided appeals to the feelings of his hearers. But it would be a great mistake to infer from his own practice that he was insensible to beauty of form and style. The literature he cared for most, that which roused his enthusiasm and provoked the expression of emotion so rare with him in the later years of his life—the literature of France before the Renaissance, the poetry of Keats and Shelley, some of the lyrics of the Felibres—is of the kind in which content owes so much to beauty of form that it is impossible to conceive of the one without the other; and he certainly took quite as much delight in the sound as in the sense of his favourites. Even in those favourites he was quick to detect a flaw. His grandfather's introduction of him to the best in literature had not been wasted; and his own early reading had given him a touchstone of taste which he used freely as a standard, although it was powerless to obtain admission to his accepted company of men of letters for those who made no appeal to him individually. The Memoir shows that his self-training in literature (for the grandfather did no more than indicate the way) was carried out in youth; it was at Cambridge, while still an undergraduate, that he read Shakespeare 'for pleasure.' And this was true also of the great authors of his own time. The results of that reading remained with him through life.
The Memoir dwells little upon his literary interests, and contains few literary judgments. He himself gives the reason:
'They do not pretend to be critical memoirs.... I have known everyone worth knowing from 1850 to my death; but, as I knew the most distinguished of my own country in childhood or early manhood, my judgments have changed. I have either to give crude judgments from which I dissent, or later judgments which were not those of the time. I have omitted both.... I knew the great Victorian authors. Thackeray I loved: Vanity Fair delighted me, and Esmond was obviously a great work of art; the giant charmed me by his kindness to me as a boy. But Dickens was to me a sea-captain with a taste for melodrama, and the author of Pickwick. It is only in old age that I have learnt that there was real beauty and charm in David Copperfield. So, too, Mill I worshipped; and Carlyle, though I knew him, I despised—perhaps too much. Mat. Arnold was to me, in his day and my day, only a society trifler, whereas now ... after for years I have visited his tomb, I recognize him as a great writer of the age in which he lived.'
Here and there in the Memoir are glimpses of the world of literature with which he was often in touch. He discusses with Swinburne a much- disputed reference in Shelley's Epipsychidion. In 1872 Browning reads his Red Cotton Nightcap Country at 76, Sloane Street. There are admiring references to the work of George Eliot, and to Mrs. Lynn Linton—'perhaps the cleverest woman I know.' When he goes to the United States, we get his warmly drawn picture of the Boston group—Emerson, Agassiz, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Asa Gray, Longfellow, Lowell, Dr. Collyer, and Dr. Hedge.
[Footnote: See Chapter VI. (Vol. I., p. 60).]
Recording Stepniak's suggestion that Bismarck, Mazzini, and Oliver Wendell Holmes were the three greatest conversationalists of our times, 'I said that, having known all three, I agreed that they were remarkable, although I myself found Mazzini a little of the bore. Disraeli was sometimes very good, although sometimes singularly silent; but there were once two Russians that I put in the first rank—Herzen and Tourgenief.'
Questions relating to one literary personality alone receive full-length treatment in the Memoir. On any point that concerned Keats Sir Charles was always keenly interested. He may be said to have inherited the Keats tradition and the Keats devotion from his grandfather, and anyone connected with Keats found easy way to his sympathy and attention. It was his intervention which finally obtained for Keats's sister, Mme. Llanos, a regular Civil List pension in 1880. When the Lindon family sold to Mr. Buxton Forman Keats's letters to Miss Brawne, Mme. Llanos wrote 'from Madrid saying how greatly she was vexed that her brother's love-letters should have been placed before the world,' and 'I had a good deal of correspondence with Lord Houghton over this matter.... [Lord Houghton] wrote:
'"My Dear Dilke,
'"Since the Athenaeum fixed my place in poetical literature between Rogers and Eliza Cook, I have naturally not read that journal, but I have been shown a capital flagellation of those unfilial wine-merchants. [Footnote: Miss Brawne married Louis Lindon, a wine-merchant.] I thought I had even gone too far in my elegant extracts—with which you furnished me. I have, alas! no poetical amours to be recorded, out of which my family can make anything handsome."'
The letter ends with an invitation to lunch and 'talk Keats.'
Sir Charles notes further:
'About this time (1878) Mr. Buxton Forman announced for publication the Keats Love-Letters, which I certainly thought I had in a vague way bought for the purpose of preventing publication. They had been long in my possession, but the son of Fanny Brawne had claimed them, and I, having no written agreement, had found it necessary to give them up—although what I had bought and paid for, unless it was the right to prevent publication, I do not know.'
About this time Mr. John Morley proffered a request that Sir Charles would write a monograph on Keats for his English Men of Letters. Lord Houghton thought that a "new view" from Sir Charles "would have great interest"; but he decided to decline the undertaking.
The Memoir records at length the course of a correspondence with Joseph Severn, on the subject of his portraits of Keats, about which the old man's memory, in his last days at Rome, had grown very hazy. He thought that the miniature from which the engraving for Mr. Buxton Forman's edition had been made was the original presented to Fanny Brawne, whereas it was the copy made for old Mr. Dilke from that original, which itself was afterwards 'bought by my grandfather to prevent its being sold by auction.' There was also at Pyrford a copy in oils made for Mr. Moxon, which Sir Charles had obtained by exchange from Mr. Frederick Locker-Lampson.
'After completing my investigations as to the portraits, I placed them on record in a letter to my old friend Scharf, the Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery, who replied: "Thanks for your interesting note, which we will duly place upon record. The portrait which we have here is posthumous. Severn painted it in 1821, and we hold a very curious letter from him describing the circumstances under which he painted it." Here, therefore, is another undoubted Severn in addition to the three which I possess. But I know myself of at least one other.'
The gift of his collection of Keats relics to Hampstead has been elsewhere recorded. In deciding on Hampstead for its resting-place, he brought it within the circle of local associations with Keats himself, and with the grandfather who had been Keats's friend. [Footnote: The Memoir records, in 1878, a visit paid with his great-uncle, William Dilke, to Wentworth Place, 'the little house at Hampstead in which for a time Mr. C. W. Dilke and his brother were Keats's next-door neighbours.']
Modern French authors interested him more than their English contemporaries. In the former case he found, perhaps, less declension from the standard of the giants of whom he had been an eager student in his early manhood, when he read "all Balzac," and recorded his admiration for the "dignity" of Mme. de Stael's Germany. Dumas he loved then and always, returning to him with ever new delight, and utilizing the rare periods of inaction imposed upon him at intervals by illness to read the whole of The Three Musketeers series 'through again—properly.' Where other writers who held sway over the mind of France during the nineteenth century were in question, his independence of taste came into play. Sainte-Beuve he could 'make nothing of.' For Chateaubriand he felt something like contempt: 'Equally feeble as a maker and a writer of history ... the inventor of a drawing-room Christianity without Christ;' but he recognized the high quality to be found in the early writings of Senancour. In later days the revival of a Stendhal cult filled him with wondering amusement. To the best work of Renan his affections were always faithful: Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse was among his favourite volumes. Anatole France gave him exquisite pleasure, and it is hard to say whether he most enjoyed the wit, the irony, or the style of that great writer. He had his favourites, too, among the minor gods, and was always ready to introduce a new-comer to the charms of Francois de Barbizanges or the fun of Alfred Capus.
In French poetry his taste was eclectic. His feeling for Charles d'Orleans and his contemporaries barely stopped on this side idolatry; but the classics of the seventeenth century had no message for him, and Victor Hugo as a poet left him, for the most part, unmoved. Indeed, he asserted that all French verse between Ronsard and Verlaine was purely rhetorical, and without genuine poetic quality. But in some modern poets, he thought, the true spirit of French poetry had revived. Early he proclaimed the genius of Charles Guerin, whose claim to high place in his country's literature remained unrecognized till after his death; early, too, he hailed a new poetic star in Francois Porche. The star seemed to him later to wane in brilliancy, but the disappointment with which he read the poems of M. Porche's second period never weakened his admiring recollection of the splendour of the poet's Russian verses and the searching pathos of Solitude au Loin.
His familiarity with French literature, his hearty affection for it, his understanding of the national spirit by which it is informed and quickened, constituted one of the strongest ties which bound him in sympathy to his French friends. The literary forms which have had so much attraction for the best French minds both before and after 1789— the chronicle and the memoir—were precisely those to which his unfailing interest in human nature led him by choice. Paradin and Froissart were companions of whom he never grew tired; and it would be difficult to decide whether he found more absorbing matter of entertainment in Sully or Mme. de Dino.
But if he read these authors for delight, he read them also as a serious student. On this point the testimony of one of the most learned men in contemporary France is clear. M. Salomon Reinach writes: [Footnote: In a letter addressed to the editor, and written in English.]
"Talking with Sir Charles Dilke about Renaissance and modern history, I soon perceived that he had taken the trouble of going to the sources, and that he had read and knew many things of importance which a man of letters, and even a scholar, are apt to ignore. It was Sir Charles, to give only one instance, who revealed to me the value of Guillaume Paradin's Histoire de Notre Temps and Chronique de Savoie, which he admired to such a degree that he put the now forgotten author (the name of whom is not in the British Encyclopaedia) on the same level as Guicciardini and the great historians of antiquity. I would like to know how he discovered Paradin, and if copies of his rare works were in his library. When I happened to get hold of Major Frye's manuscript, afterwards published by me (thanks to Sir Charles Dilke's recommendation) at Heinemann's, he was the first to appreciate its interest, and gave me much information about abbreviated names and other allusions which occur in that diary. He chanced to dine with me the very evening when I first had brought the manuscript to my house, and he remained till past one in the morning, picturesquely seated on the edge of a table, reading passages aloud and commenting upon them. He also knew many secret and unrecorded facts about recent French history; some of them have been given by him in unsigned articles of the Athenaeum, in reviews of books relating to the Franco-German War. I hope he may have left some more detailed notes on that subject. I would have had the greatest pleasure in corresponding with him, and regret I did not do so; but his handwriting was as mysterious as his mind was clear, and I soon found that I could not make it out."
After Lady Dilke's death, the Rev. W. and Mrs. Tuckwell, her brother- in-law and her elder sister, made their home with Sir Charles Dilke at Pyrford; and notes of his talk put together from memory and from diaries by the old scholar give a vivid impression of the statesman as seen in intimacy. Mr. Tuckwell says:
During the last five years of his life I breakfasted alone with Sir Charles whenever he was at Pyrford. It was his "softer hour," and showed him in a specially endearing light. Not only was he fresh from his night's rest, full, often, of matter interesting or amusing in his letters which he had just read, but the tete-a-tete brought out his finest social nature. In large companies, as we saw him at Dockett, he was occasionally insistent, iterative, expressing himself, to use a term of his own, with a "fierceness" corresponding to the strength of his convictions. With me at our breakfasts he was gentle, tolerant, what Sydney Smith called "amoebean," talking and listening alternately. I was told that before his death the two experiences to which he referred in anticipating a return to his Pyrford home were the forestry among his pines and the early breakfast table.
Much of his talk was, of course, Parliamentary, bearing on incidents or persons from the House. He often spoke of Harcourt, whom he dearly loved. When Harcourt's death was announced to a party at breakfast in Speech House, several in the company told anecdotes of the dead man or commented on his character. One lady spoke of him harshly. Sir Charles remained silent, but more than once during the meal his eyes filled with tears. He told me on another occasion that "Lulu" promised to be a greater man than his father, just as Winston Churchill is a greater man than Randolph. Lulu resembles his father curiously in all things except in the paternal habit of swearing. Once, when an attempt by the Opposition to snatch a victory in a thin House had been foiled, Harcourt said savagely across the table: "So that d——d dirty trick has failed!" Hicks Beach sprang up to ask the Speaker if such language were Parliamentary. Speaker Gully was too discreet to have heard the words. Dilke remembered being in company with Harcourt and Mrs. Procter, amongst several more. As she left the room, Harcourt said: "There goes one of the three most charming women I ever knew; the other two"—a pause, during which the ladies present looked keenly expectant—"the other two are dead!"
He turned to talk of Dizzy, to whom he had first been introduced in his early days by Lady Lonsdale, the great man wishing to know him. He quoted some of Dizzy's sayings. Dizzy called Spencer Walpole and Russell Gurney "those two whited sepulchres of the House of Commons." Walpole, consequential and lugubrious, he spoke of as "the high-stepping hearse-horse of public life." Of deaf Mr. Thomasson, who, ear-trumpet in hand, was wont to place himself near every speaker, he said that "no man had ever so neglected his natural advantages."
Of Gladstone Dilke rarely spoke, but used to describe the periodical entrance of Mrs. Gladstone into the meetings of the Cabinet with a large basin of tea for the old man. [Footnote: In the last years of Sir Charles's life, at a party given by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Gladstone at Downing Street, he stopped in the room where Cabinet meetings used to be held, and pointed out to the editor of this book the door through which Mrs. Gladstone used to enter bearing the bowl of tea. For Sir Charles's recollections of Mr. Gladstone, see appendix at end of this chapter.] Once he had to work out with his chief some very difficult question. As they sat absorbed, Hamilton, the private secretary, entered with an apologetic air to say that ——, a well-known journalist, had called, pressingly anxious to see the Prime Minister on an important subject. Without raising his head, Gladstone said: "Ask him what is his number in the lunatic asylum."
He told of a Cabinet in 1883 at which —— talked a great deal, "and I told Chamberlain that at the Political Economy Club, where I had been dining on the previous night, there was a closure of debate in the shape of the introduction of hot muffins, which I thought would be excellent for Cabinets." At this Cabinet Lord Granville said: "We all agree that —— is a bore, but I have never been able to make up my mind whether that is a drawback or a qualification so far as public service is concerned."
Asquith he looked upon as one of the greatest Parliamentarians he had known, much superior in that capacity to Gladstone. His allocution on the King's death was noble; still finer his introduction of the Veto Bill in December, 1909. "His speech was perfect: forcible in manner, statesmanlike in argument, felicitous in epithet and phrasing." Balfour on the same occasion was at his worst: "hampered by his former contrary declarations, trivial in reasoning, feeble in delivery." He was ill, and ought not to have come. I asked if Balfour's frequent inconsistencies and vacillations were due to carelessness. He said no, but to the necessity imposed upon him, not of proclaiming principles, but of keeping together a divergent party. I asked what other notable recent speeches he could recall. He said the Archbishop of Canterbury's [Footnote: Dr. Randall Davidson.] on the Congo scandal, in the House of Lords: "a marvellous performance, nothing said which should not have been said, everything said which required saying; the speech of a great statesman." Bishop —— followed him with a mere piece of missionary claptrap. In the Commons on the same occasion our charming friend Hugh Law distinguished himself, silencing some of his compatriots, the Irish Roman Catholics, whose line was to support Leopold because the Protestant missionaries abused him. Leopold II. Sir Charles called "the cleverest—and wickedest—man living." He broke off to speak of the Archbishop, whom he met weekly at Grillion's, as a delightfully instructive talker, not only full, that is, of light agreeableness, but supporting the opinions he advances with convincing, cogent, logical force, yet never boring his hearers. As another powerful speech he instanced T. P. O'Connor on Sir R. Anderson's indiscretions, "most terribly crushing in its grim, ruthless exposition," Anderson sitting in the Gallery to hear it.
In his own great speech on Army Reform in April, 1907, Sir Charles said that Haldane was "all things to all men." His hearers perceived it to be a quotation (which in fact I had furnished), but no one localized it! An amusing misquotation was Arnold-Forster's in the same debate: he said that Haldane was like King David, who drilled his men by fifties in a cave. In March, 1909, Sir Charles told me sadly of Arnold-Forster's sudden death, which he had just learned. "With some defects of manner, he was very clever, writing and speaking well. As War Minister Balfour gave him no chance. His last speech in the House, a fortnight before his death, just preceded mine. 'I must speak,' he said to me, 'on those damned Special Reservists;' and speak he did for a good, well-sustained half-hour, going out as soon as he had finished." He had been with us at Dockett. He and Sir Charles sparred continually and amusingly, both equally aggressive, imperious, stentorian, iterative, each insistent on his own declamation and inattentive to his opponent's.
Sir Charles, while on this topic of oratory, went on to quote with much hilarity a speech by Lord —— in the Lords: "This Liberal Government injures friends no less than enemies. Look at me! I am a passive resister; I belong to the National Liberal Club; I have married my deceased wife's sister; and none of my children are vaccinated; yet they are meddling with my rights as a landlord." The Lords did not see the fun, the papers did not report it, but it is to be found in Hansard.
I asked Dilke how my old pupil, Sir Richard Jebb, comported himself in Parliament. He said: "Handsome, beautifully groomed, with a slight stoop, slow delivery, speaking rarely and on subjects which he thoroughly understood, his phrasing perfect, manner engaging: a man reserved and shy, not seeking acquaintance, but, if sought, eminently agreeable." University members, he added, should come always in pairs: one to represent the high University ideal, embodied only in a very few; his colleague reflecting the mob of country parsons who by an absurd paradox elect to Parliament. Jebb was the ideal Cantab.; didactic, professorial, the Public Orator; seeming incomplete without a gown: but for his rare and apt appearances, he might have overdone the part.
He told a story of Major O'Gorman. A professed Roman Catholic, he was dining in the House one Friday on a devilled chicken, when his parish priest was announced. "Waiter," he said, "take away the devil, and show in the priest."
When Sir Charles first took office, he was cautioned by his colleague, Lord Tenterden, not to read the newspapers: "If you do, you will never distinguish between what you know and what you have just read."
He mentioned ——. I said that his elaborate manners and bridegroom dress marked him out as natus convivio feminali, meant by nature to be a guest at ladies' tea-tables. Dilke assented, adding that he was less bland to men than to women. "Tommy" Bowles said of him in the House: "The right honourable gentleman answers, or, rather, does not answer, my questions with the pomposity of a Belgravian butler refusing twopence to a beggar."
He spoke of the decadence in costume characteristic of the present day. I said that, according to Wraxall, we must go back for its beginnings to Charles Fox, who came down to the House in boots. I added that, when I first went up to Oxford, a frock-coat and tall hat were imperative in walking out; that a "cut-away" coat, as it was called, would have been "sconced" in Hall; that men even kept their boating-dresses at King's or Hall's, changing there; that a blazer in the High would have drawn a crowd. He said that till very lately—he was speaking in 1907—the custom of dress in Parliament had been equally rigid; that Lord Minto had recently scandalized his peers by wearing a straw hat; that when, some years before, a member whose name I forget had taken the same liberty in the Commons, the Speaker sent for him, and begged that he would not repeat the offence.
In February, 1908, we talked of the Sweating Bill. Two years before, he said, it could command so little support that, having obtained for it the first private members' night, he withdrew it. Now it was accepted with enthusiasm, and the second reading passed without a division—the change, he added, entirely due to the Women's Trade-Union League.
He expressed satisfaction with the stiffening procedure rules of April, 1906, but added that they would make great Parliamentary orations impossible. I said: "All the better, we want business in the Commons; for oratory there are other occasions." He said how transient is the public interest in men and questions; the community is like a kitten playing with a cork: so soon as it is tempted off by something else, the cork becomes dead to it. He instanced Rosebery; the Aliens Act; Tariff Reform, in spite of Chamberlain's galvanizing efforts. Of Campbell-Bannerman, then alive and well, he said that all his work was done for him by his subordinates: "he had only to read novels, prepare jokes, look inscrutable and fatherly."
In July, 1909, he attended the memorial service for Lord Ripon at the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Knowing that the leading statesmen on both sides, Protestant to a man, would be present, the ecclesiastics made the show as fine as they could, bringing out all their properties. All the monks and priests in London attended; the Archbishop, in gorgeous attire, sat on a stool, with two boys behind holding up his train. The music was exquisite; Sir Charles had never heard anything so sweet as the warbling of the Requiem by the chorister boys. But the whole was palpably a show, the actors intent on their acting, never for a moment devotional; where changes in the service involved changes in position, they were prepared while the part before was still unfinished, so that the stage might never be empty nor the transformations lag: the whole thing a Drury Lane pageant; while the richly decorated catafalque in the centre, on which the ceremonial supposed itself to converge, was empty— sepulchri supervacuos honores—the body being at Studley. Of Ripon himself, whom everyone loved, he spoke affectionately.
Of talks on miscellaneous topics I recall the following. We spoke of the Tilsit Secret Articles, revealed mysteriously to the English Government. Sir Charles thought the informant was a Russian officer, betraying it with or without the connivance of the Tsar. Evidence has since come out connecting the disclosure with a Mr. Mackenzie, who is supposed to have obtained the secret from General Benningsen. Or Canning may have learned it through the Russian Ambassador in England, who was his intimate friend, and strongly adverse to his master's French policy. [Footnote: See for a recent discussion of the evidence J. Holland Rose's Life of Napoleon, ii. 135-140.] Sir Charles went on to say that in history lies find easier credit than truth. All the books have said and say that England refused to buy Delagoa Bay from Portugal. He always denied this alleged refusal; and now Lord Fitzmaurice has caused search to be made, and finds no confirmatory evidence. Again, he maintained in Paris, against all the experts, that Nigra engineered the Franco-Prussian War. His words were repeated to the Empress Eugenie, who said, "Yes, he is right: Nigra was a false friend."
He talked of the Japanese, whom he had known in England and lived with in Japan.... Their only religion is patriotism, and their prayers to the Emperor are formal merely, yet they are reckless of life and eager to die for Fatherland; indeed, so incapable of retreating before an enemy as sometimes seriously to damage strategic plans. Were they launched against the West, they would go through any European army.
He spoke of the durability of the Third French Republic. It will be unbroken while peace lasts. War may bring a temporary Dictatorship, but the republic will of necessity revive again. The immense majority of Frenchmen are opposed unalterably to a monarchy.
He quoted what was said to be Napoleon's only joke. In opening negotiations with the British Government, he found it to be demanded as a preliminary that, as matter of principle and without prejudice, he should formally recognize the Bourbon rights, "Most certainly," he said, "if, also as matter of principle and without prejudice, the British Government would formally recognize the Stuart rights."
Dilke spoke of the old Political Economy Club, to which he was introduced by John Stuart Mill. The President was Lord Bramwell; its dominant member William Newmarch, a rough man of powerful intellect, of whose ferocious criticisms everyone stood in awe, and who was habitually hard on Mill.
He told a story of a well-known dandy, now a peer. The talk turned on "Society" in the second intention of the word —— had enumerated certain houses in which you must be at home if pretending to the exclusive social set. It was objected that the inmates of some amongst these houses were persons whom the Queen (Victoria) would not receive. "The Queen!" said —— in a tone of pained surprise—"the Queen was never in Society."
I had been to church unwittingly on "Empire Day," and reported a sermon stuffed with militarism. He poured cold water on the idea. "Ireland won't have it; Canada won't have it; South Africa loathes it; India has an Empire Day of its own. Only Australia cares for it. It is a vulgar piece of Tory bluff, and a device for annoying the Dutch."
He had lately visited Dropmore: said how frequently the Dropmore Papers upset accepted history, but that the historian will answer, Mon siege est fait. He explained the phrase. A man had written a history of some famous siege; after it was published fresh facts were brought to his notice: he declined them—"Mon siege est fait." [Footnote: Ascribed to the Abbe Dubois.]
He talked of Marlborough's victories: he hummed the opening verse of "Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre." I said it was our "For he's a jolly good fellow": he said yes, but the tune goes back to the time of the Crusaders. I asked who wrote the words. He said an unknown French soldier on the night of Malplaquet, when Marlborough was believed to have been killed. Napoleon, who knew no music, often mounted his horse at the opening of a campaign singing the first line as he put his foot into the stirrup.
He spoke often of Grillion's which he habitually frequented and much enjoyed. He told of its formation in 1812; of old members whom he had known—Sir Robert Inglis, Chenery of the Times, regal old Sir Thomas Acland, Fazakerley, Gally Knight, Wilmot Horton; of its effect in socially harmonizing men bitterly opposed in politics. He told the story of "Mr. G." dining there by accident alone, and entering himself in the club book as having drunk a bottle of sherry and a bottle of champagne. He said what care was taken to exclude undesirables, preserving thereby a high tone of company and of talk. I asked him what was the finest conversation to which he had ever listened. "In Boston," he said; "at Lowell's breakfast-table; the company Lowell, Wendell Holmes, Longfellow, Agassiz, Asa Gray." [Footnote: See Vol. I., Chapter VI.]
We talked of precious stones, recalling the Koh-i-noor in its small gas-lighted tent at the 1851 Exhibition. He said that modern paste is more beautiful and effective than diamonds. The finest pearls known belonged to the Duchess of Edinburgh: she showed Sir Charles a collar valued at two millions sterling. I named the Hope jewels, shown also in 1851. He knew the "rich Hope," Henry, who built the house in Piccadilly. The "poor Hope," Beresford, had only L30,000 a year. They were a Dutch family, "Hoop" by name. Beresford's wife, Lady Mildred, aped the Queen, driving in the Park dressed in black, with a large hat, and finely mounted outriders. The same thing was done by Mme. Van de Weyer. Beresford bought the Morning Chronicle in order to promulgate his High Church views, writing under the signature D.C.L. He ruined the paper.
He more than once sang the praises of Sir George Grey—honoured in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand; statesman, aristocrat, Radical, creator of the Australian Labour Party, terror of our Colonial Office at home; one of the few men who have done great things by themselves. Bismarck told Sir Charles that Cavour, Crispi, Kruger, were greater than himself. "I had the army and the State behind me; these men had nothing." Amongst Bismarck's minor desires was a hope that he might outlive his physician, Dr. Schweininger, who plagued him with limitations as to diet. "To-day potatoes will we eat; to-morrow comes Schweininger." He owned to having over-eaten himself once, and only once: "Nine nine-eyes (lampreys) did I eat." "People," he said, "look on me as a monarchist. Were it all to come over again, I would be republican and democrat: the rule of kings is the rule of women; the bad women are bad, the good are worse."
Sir Charles spoke of Botha, whom he met here in 1907. People were unexpectedly charmed with him: they anticipated a replica of old Kruger; instead of that they beheld a handsome man, with the most beautiful eyes and mouth ever seen. His daughter with him was very pretty; fashionably dressed, in the style of a French American.
He told of an Indian official under the old East India Company stationed in a remote place, a "Boggley Wallah," who for several years sent in no reports, money, or accounts. An emissary, commissioned to bring him to book, found him living in great luxury on the borders of a lake. He said that he did his work and kept his papers on an island in the lake, and sent a boat for them; but the returning boat somehow sank in mid-water, and books and papers went to the bottom. The Company dismissed him without a pension: he came to London, took his seat daily in ragged clothes just outside the offices in Leadenhall Street, standing up to salaam when any Director or official passed in or out, but speaking no word. People gathered to look at him, and at last the Company gave him L1,000 a year. He drove down in a carriage and four, and handed in a letter stating that he had already amassed L5,000 a year in their service, that they had now raised it to L6,000, and that he desired to express his gratitude.
I quoted from some book I was reading a dictum that no woman nowadays can be called perfectly beautiful. He said he had known only two, Lady Dudley and Madame Castiglione. The latter was in the pay successively of Victor Emanuel and Louis Napoleon; in the second capacity supposed to have been a spy employed by Cavour.
He spoke of John Forster, biographer of Dickens, an intimate friend of his own grandfather and father, as a man of violent, noisy passions, but very lovable; his attitude towards Dickens pathetically affectionate.
He described two German Princesses whom he had met at lunch; dowdy and of the ordinary Teutonic type, looking on their brother "Billy" as the greatest of mortals. They had been shopping up and down Oxford Street, delighted with their purchases, and with their escape from Court ceremonial. He went on to say how common every Prussian officer looks when in plain clothes. Wearing them very rarely, the officers never look at ease in them; and the swagger which they adopt in uniform is highly ridiculous in mufti.
When Napoleon's death was known, one of George IV.'s Ministers went to his master with the news: "Sir, your greatest enemy is dead." "Good G—-! they told me she was better," was the royal answer. Sir Charles spoke of Jerome Bonaparte, whom he knew; a dull man, a thorn in the side of Napoleon III. "You have nothing of the great Napoleon about you," Jerome said one day. "I have his family," answered the worried Emperor. From him we passed to the death of the Duc d'Enghien. The Princes were notoriously plotting against Napoleon's life; by slaying a Prince of the blood he made it clear that two could play the game. The first copy of Mme. de Remusat's book was thought to deal too plainly with this and other topics; it was destroyed, and rewritten in a softer tone.
In November, 1909, Sir Charles spent some days in the Record Office, coming back each time in much need of a bath, after rummaging amongst papers which had not been disturbed for a century. He found amongst other papers a letter from a Grand Duke of Modena to Castlereagh, written just after Napoleon's fall, saying how exultant were his subjects at his return to them, and asking Castlereagh to lend him L14. With the letter was the draft of Castlereagh's answer, congratulating the Duke's subjects and himself, but adding that there would be difficulty in applying to Parliament for the loan.
Sir Charles remarked on my Athenaeum review of Francis Newman's Life. He said that when he himself was in bad odour for his early Civil List speeches, so that he had been exposed to serious disturbances, and a break-up of his intended meeting at Bristol was threatened, Newman, from sheer dislike to mob tyranny, came forward to take the chair; and through a tempest of shouts and rushes, and amid the stifling smell of burnt Cayenne pepper, sat in lean dignity, looking curiously out of place, but serene in vindication of a principle. [Footnote: See Vol. I, Chapter IX.]
The publication of the Life of Goldwin Smith led us to talk of University reform. I said how by means of it my own college had become ex humili potens, had arisen from depths to heights, from obscurity to fame. Of his, he said, the contrary was true: his college had been ruined by Parliamentary interference. Trinity Hall was founded for the study and teaching of jurisprudence, the old Roman canon and civil law, on which all modern law is based. It was the only institution of the kind, a magnificent and useful monopoly. This exclusive character was destroyed by Parliament; scholarships in mathematics and classics were instituted; it is now like other colleges, and men who wish to study law at its source no longer frequent it. He talked to me of Cambridge, and related with mimicry anecdotes of "Ben" Latham, Master of Trinity Hall. Dining at Trinity Hall one Sunday in 1883, he said Latham told him that he had lately been sitting on an inter-University committee with Jowett, and that Jowett was so sharp a man of business that "it is like sitting to represent the Great Northern against the London and North-Western. His one idea is to draw away passengers from the rival line." Latham went on to say that the students for India who were made to stay two years at Cambridge or Oxford, under Jowett's scheme, "the first year learn Sandford and Merton in Tamil, translated by a missionary; and the second year Sandford and Merton in Telugu, translated by the same missionary. Thus they acquire a liberal education."
He talked of Waterloo, the battlefield being known to us both. It was, he said, as the Duke always owned, a wonderfully near thing. If Napoleon had had with him the two army corps left in France to overawe insurrectionary districts, who would have joined him in a week; and if at Ligny he had persevered in so smashing the Prussians as to leave them powerless—if these two "if's" had become realities, Napoleon must have driven Wellington back on Brussels. Then the Belgians would have joined him, and the Austrians would have forsaken the Allies, Metternich wishing well to Bonaparte for the sake of his wife and child. The mystery of his escape from Elba, which the English fleet might easily have prevented, remains still to be explained: for the Vienna Congress was riddled with intrigue. [Footnote: Sir Charles Dilke discussed the whole question of Napoleon's escape from Elba in an article in the Quarterly Review, January, 1910, entitled "Before and After the Descent from Elba."]
He made me laugh at a parson who in moments of provocation used to say "Assouan!" His friends at last remembered that at Assouan was the biggest dam in the world.
He gave me a recipe for beefsteak pudding: no beef, fresh kidney, fresh mushrooms, fresh oysters, great stress laid on the epithet: serve the pudding in its basin.
He came in to breakfast one morning whistling an attractive air. I asked what it was; he said from Carmen, and hummed the air through. He went on to say that he had well known the composer, Bizet, who founded his opera on Merimee's romance. It fell flat, and Bizet died believing it a failure; afterwards it became the rage.
This whistling of music was a favourite practice with him. His accurate ear enabled him to reproduce any tune which had at any time impressed him. He would give Chinese airs, would go through parts of a Greek Church service, would sing words and music of the _Dies Irae. On the Sunday following the death of Florence Nightingale our Chertsey organist played Chopin's Funeral March. Sir Charles said its _motifs_ were Greek rustic popular airs, each of which he hummed, showing how Chopin had worked them in.
The dinner given to him in April, 1910, in connection with the Trade Boards Bill was a great success, and much delighted him. He said Bishop Gore had made a splendid speech. Sir Charles had a long chat with Gore, and was, as always, delighted with his information and bonhomie.
He talked of a Parisian jeweller who lived by selling jewels and by lending money to the great Indian native potentates, and had establishments for that purpose in India. This man wished to be employed by our Government as a spy: Sir Charles applied on his behalf to Lord George Hamilton, who handed to him the man's dossier, an appalling catalogue of crimes and misdemeanours. He had an extraordinarily noble presence; Sir Charles said to him: "You ought to be Amir of Afghanistan." "No," he replied; "I should never have the patience to kill a sufficient number of people."
Of a French gentleman who had come to tea, recommended by the French Ambassador, Sir Charles said that he was a French fool, the worst kind of fool, corruptio optimi.
He showed the number of peerages having their origin in illegitimacy, although the official books conceal the fact where possible. The facts come out in such memoirs as Lady Dorothy Nevill's. He went on to talk of divorce in the Roman Church, and to scout their boast that with them marriage is an indissoluble sacrament. The Prince of Monaco was for years the husband of Lady Mary Hamilton. They tired of each other, wished for a divorce; the Pope, with heavy fees for the transaction, declared the marriage to have been for some ecclesiastical reason null and void. Each married again; but the son of the nominally annulled union succeeded his father as legitimate heir.
Sir Charles spoke—this was in 1906—of Buelow's speech in the German Parliament, as one of the best ever made by any statesman, and creating universal astonishment. Its appreciation of France and of Gambetta was magnificent as well as generous. The French, after the debacle, behaved as a nation self-respecting and patriotic ought to have behaved. His hint at the bad feeling between the Kaiser and King Edward was dexterous; it was real and insuperable; none of our Royal Family can forgive the seizure of Hanover by Prussia; and added to this was our King's indignation at the Kaiser's treatment of the Empress Frederick, a member of his family for whom he felt strong affection.
Of Morny he said that he was very handsome, but in an inferior style. His beautiful Russian wife never cared for him, but in obedience to Russian custom cut off her wonderful hair to be laid with him in his coffin.
He spoke of the brothers Chorley, one the supreme musical critic of his time, the other a profound Spanish scholar, shut up through life in his library of 7,300 volumes.
Dilke told me one morning that he had been writing since five o'clock an article for the United Service Gazette, and had finished it to his satisfaction, adding that papers dashed off under an impulse were always the best. I demurred. "Those papers of mine," I said, "specially praised by you have been always the fruit of long labour." "Ah!" he answered, "but you have style—a rare accomplishment; that is what I have admired in yours." "Would you," I said, "admire the style if the matter were ill considered?" "Yes."
He often talked admiringly of the Provencal language, declaiming more than once what he called a fine Homeric specimen:
"Pesto, liona, sablas, famino, dardai fou, Avie tout affronta."
(Pestilence, lions, sandy deserts, famine, maddening sun-heat, Ye have all this faced.)
He was fond, too, of quoting Akbar's inscription on the Agra bridge: "Said Jesus, on whom be peace, Life is a bridge: pass over!"
He described the French Foreign Legion: two regiments employed by the French chiefly among the natives in the Tonquin settlement— desperate men most of them, many of high social position and of army rank, who had "done something" and had gone wrong; disgraced, hiding from society, criminals escaped from justice, with a sprinkling of young adventurers and riotous Germans. No enormity they would not commit, no danger they would not court; some even seeking death; all knowing that if left wounded in the bush by retreating comrades they would be tortured horribly by the Tonquin women. They had a hospital served by Roman Catholic nurses, to whom they paid every respect. When a man newly joined once whistled rudely while the Sister was praying, as was her custom before leaving the ward, his comrades severely punished him. Intra-regimental offences, such as theft, were visited with death.
He mentioned one morning that he had just received a Privy Council summons. I asked why the Bidding Prayer held a petition for the Lords and others of Her Majesty's Privy Council: old Regius Professor Jacobson used to tell us that it was a mistake, that all Privy Councillors were "Lords" of the Privy Council. He thought that the word "others" represented the Lord Mayor, who attends Accession Councils and signs the parchment, but, not being a Lord of Council, is then required to leave, while other business proceeds.
Twice in these years he dined at Oxford—once at All Souls as the guest of Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, again on the invitation of some undergraduates, sons mostly of his political acquaintances. He greatly enjoyed both; the young men were the pick and flower of Oxford; the All Souls high table was full of young teachers and professors. What a change from the aristocratic college of my time, whose head was Lewis Sneyd, its Fellows William Bathurst, Henry Legge, Sir Charles Vaughan, Augustus Barrington, etc.! Anson very charmingly presided; the talk was everything except political.
He was extraordinarily impressed by the funeral of the King—a wonderful and novel ceremony he called it. As a senior Privy Councillor he had an excellent place with Asquith close to the coffin. The most magnificent figure in the show was Garter King-of-Arms, but all the heralds were splendid. The Archbishop, with the Dean of Westminster and a cross-bearer, was the only prominent ecclesiastic, the Bishops in their places as peers being crowded out of sight. The colouring was most effective, black setting off the scarlet. The singing was somewhat drowned by the Guards' bands, but the Dead March came in grandly through the windows from Palace Yard. He mentioned a curious fact: that Westminster Hall is controlled, not by Parliament, not by any Government department, but by the Great Chamberlain. It is the sole remaining part of the royal palace, which was lent to Parliament by our early Kings. I said that it had not witnessed such a scene since, on Mary's accession, the Sovereign and the two Houses met there to receive Papal absolution from the Legate Pole. He wished I had told him so before.
He recalled the Cambridge Union debates of his time: the best he ever heard was on a personal question, the impeachment of a man named Harris for some breach of rule. Henry Sidgwick was in the chair, the speaking extraordinarily animated and well sustained. The finest orator of his time was a man called Payne. [Footnote: Payne belonged to the same college as Dilke, Trinity Hall, and was bracketed Senior in the Law Tripos of 1868. He had begun to make his mark both at the Bar and in the Press, when, still a very young man, he was killed in a mountaineering accident in Wales.] I said our best speaker in my day was Goschen; his Union reports caused Gladstone to pick him out and bring him forward. He said yes, but that Goschen never fulfilled his promise until his really powerful speech on Free Trade in 1903.
He enumerated the Jewish types in England. There is (1) the sallow Jew with a beak; (2) the same without a beak; (3) the "hammy" Jew, with pink face like a cochon-a-lait. The Florentine type, with fair hair and beautiful clear face, is not seen in England.
His criticism of a certain lady led me to ask who, of people he had known, possessed the most perfect manners. He said Lord Clarendon, who had the old carefully cultivated Whig manners, yet with the faintest possible tendency to pomposity. This style became unfashionable, and was succeeded by what he called the "early Christian" or "Apostolic" manners, of which the late Lord Knutsford was a perfect exemplar. The best-mannered woman he had known was the late Lady Waterford. Domestic servants too, he said, have manners; he instanced as magnificent specimens Turner, Lady Waldegrave's groom of the chambers, and Miss Alice Rothschild's Jelf. Lady Lonsdale once spoke of the latter as "Guelph, or whatever member of the Royal Family it is that waits on Alice."
Sir Charles talked about the Wallace Collection. Sir Richard was not the natural son either of the fourth Lord Hertford, or of his father the third Lord, Thackeray's Steyne and Disraeli's Monmouth. He was brought up by the fourth Lord Hertford, under the name of Monsieur Richard, not by any means as the expectant heir; yet, excepting the settled estates, which went to the fifth Marquis, all was left to him. Part of the great art collection remained at Bagatelle, which became the property of a younger Wallace, an officer in the French army; the rest has come to the English nation through Lady Wallace, to whom her husband left the whole. Why Sir Richard assumed the name Wallace no one knows. He was French, not English, speaking English imperfectly: a kind, cheery, polished gentleman.
Apropos of the Education Bill: old Lady Wilde from her window in Tite Street heard a woman bewailing herself in the street—her son had been "took away," to gaol that is. "He was a good boy till the Eddication came along;" then, kneeling down on the pavement and joining her hands, she prayed solemnly "God damn Eddication."
Sir Charles contrasted the idiosyncrasies of some politicians: Grey reserved, Balfour telling everything to everybody; Arnold-Forster closely "buttoned up," Gorst dangerously frank. On Gorst he enlarged: a nominal Tory, in fact a Radical, ever battering his own side for the mere fun of the operation; old in years, young in activity of brain and body; a poor man all his life.
He said that the two incomparable sights which this country could show to a foreigner were (1) Henley in regatta week; (2) the Park on a fine summer day: everyone out riding, and the Life Guards' band going down to a Drawing-room.
I asked if he had heard a certain London preacher who was drawing large audiences. He said yes, and that he was well worth hearing. "He is High Church and anti-ritualist, Socialist and aristocrat, orthodox while holding every heresy extant, not cultured or literary, slovenly and almost coarse; yet grasping his listeners by the feeling impressed on each that the preacher knows and is describing his (the hearer's) experiences, troubles, hopes, life-history."
I questioned him about Leonard Montefiore, a memoir of whom had caught my eye in one of the bookcases. He was a man of brilliant promise, unpopular at Balliol, giving himself intellectual airs; went unwashed, with greenish complexion and generally repulsive appearance; would have been prominent had he lived; was much petted by Ruskin.
He said that, if London were destroyed to-morrow, in ten years' time its site would be covered with a forest of maple, sycamore, robinia, showing an undergrowth of Persian willow-herb.
He told of a man whom his groom pronounced to be "the footiest gent on a 'oss and the 'ossiest gent on foot as he ever see."
He spoke of the "Local Veto Bill," forced by Harcourt on a reluctant Cabinet; Harcourt was, he said, a genuine convert to the principle— a curious intellectual phenomenon, this development of a belated conviction in a mind hitherto essentially opportunist. It cost him his seat later on.
Sir Charles described Speaker Peel's farewell to the House: said that it was quite perfect in every way. He thought Gully undesirable as his successor, and should not vote for him.
Of the rising I.L.P. he said once, in early days, they had done wrongly in formulating a programme. Their name was a sufficient programme; now they would indirectly help the Tories.
He had an extraordinary insight into the mental habits and emotions of domestic animals, interpreting the feelings and opinions of his horses when out riding, of his Pyrford dog Fafner, of his Sloane Street cat Calino, in a manner at once graphic and convincing. His love for cats amounted to a passion; a menagerie of eight or ten tailless white or ginger Persians was kept in an enclosure, at Pyrford. Once, when exploring a fine Ravenna church, we missed him, returning from our round to find him near the door, caressing a cat belonging to the custodian, which he had inveigled into his lap.
His literary dislikes and preferences were numerous and frankly expressed, deeply interesting as the idiosyncrasies of a rich and highly trained intelligence, even when to myself somewhat unaccountable. While keenly appreciating the best in modern French literature, he could see no charm in Corneille or Racine. Quite lately Rabelais, reopened after many years, appealed to him strongly, as keen satire and invective veiled by wit, and, so only, tolerated by those scourged. To be laid hold of and temporarily possessed by a book was as characteristic of him as of old Gladstone; in their turn, Pantagruel, Anatole France's Penguins, most of all The Blue Bird, which he read delightedly, but would not see acted, formed of late the breakfast equipage as certainly as the eggs and toast: any utterance of conventional apology or regret was expressed by, "Voulez-vous que j'embrasse le chat?"
His acquaintance with English literature was intermittent. He was apparently a stranger to our eighteenth-century authors, both in poetry and prose; of those who followed them in time, he undervalued Scott, disliked Macaulay, admired Napier, admired Trollope. Wordsworth he condemned as puerile, inheriting the Edinburgh Review estimate of his poetry, and often called on me ecstatically to repeat Hartley Coleridge's parody of Lucy. Of Keats he was immeasurably fond, drawn to him by the poet's relation to his family, declaiming his lines often—as he did sometimes those of Shelley, whose verses in his own copy of the poems are heavily and with wise selection scored—in tones which showed a capacity for deep poetic feeling. A quotation would accidentally arrest him, and he would call for the book, usually after short perusal discarding the author as a "poopstick," a favourite phrase with him. I remember this occurring with the Rejected Addresses, though he knew and loved James Smith. A travesty of Omar Khayyam, called The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten, he read delightedly, much preferring it to the original. He professed contempt for the study of English grammar, more especially for the scientific analysis of English sentence-structure, which plays so large a part in modern education. The contempt was certainly, as Osborne Gordon said, not bred of familiarity. I fear that, like most University or public school men, he would have been foiled by the simplest Preliminary Grammar Paper of a University Local Examination to-day.
But his knowledge of political history, foreign and domestic, during the last centuries was marvellously extensive and minute. In earlier history he was oblivious often of his own previous knowledge, argumentatively maintaining untenable propositions. Though fortified by Freeman and Bryce, I could never get him to admit that all the historic "Emperors," from Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C. down to Francis, King of Germany, who gave up the Empire in A.D. 1806, were Emperors, not of Germany or Austria, but of Rome; or that the Reformed English Church of Tudor times, with all its servility, had never relinquished, but steadily held and holds, its claim to continuous Catholicity. But a query as to the French Revolution, the Napoleonic dynasties, the Vienna Congress, the South African or Franco-Prussian War, or the developments in India, Canada, Egypt, would draw forth a stream of marshalled lucid information, which it was indeed a privilege to hear.
"Neque ille in luce modo atque in oculis civium magnus, sed intus domique praestantior. Qui sermo! quae praecepta! quanta notitia antiquitatis! quae scientia juris! Omnia memoria tenebat, non domestica solum, sed etiam externa bella. Cujus sermone ita tunc cupide tenebar, quasi jam divinarem, id quod evenit, illo exstincto fore unde discerem neminem" (Cicero, De Senectute).
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF MR. GLADSTONE BY SIR CHARLES DILKE
The difficulty in the way of furnishing reminiscences of Mr. Gladstone in Cabinet is in part the Privy Council oath, but still more the fact that, where the matters that would be touched are of interest, they often affect individuals or parties. I saw the most of Mr. Gladstone between 1880 and 1886, and to this period the restrictions imposed by the considerations named are most highly applicable. In the earlier days when I sat in Parliament with him, from 1868 to 1880, we were, though sitting on the same side of the House, frequently opposed to one another, for I was often fighting for the claims of independent Radicalism as against his commanding personality. This was especially the case from 1868 to 1874; and his retirement after his defeat in 1874, when Lord Hartington became the leader of the Liberal party, was so complete that it was not until Mr. Gladstone was aroused by the development of the Eastern Question in 1877 that we again saw much of him in the House of Commons. An interesting reminiscence of the great struggle of 1878 is afforded by the copy in my possession of the Whips' list of the Liberal party marked by Mr. Gladstone and myself. I was acting for him, against the party Whips, in the preparations for the division upon his famous Resolutions. We daily went through the promises of the members who had undertaken to support his Resolutions, of those who remained steadfast in adhesion to Lord Hartington and who were prepared to vote against the Resolutions, and of those who would vote neither way. The changes from day to day in the ascertained opinions of the party were most strange. Family was divided against family—for instance the family of Cavendish—and the cleavage followed no line that corresponded with shades of Liberalism. The pro-Turks upon the Liberal side were joined in their support of Lord Hartington by the "peace at any price" section of the Radicals. Curiously enough, the division of the party was exactly equal, and remained equal through all the changes of individual promises. On the day on which peace was made, and (to Mr. Gladstone's immense relief) the chances of a complete disruption averted, the number of members pledged to Mr. Gladstone was 110, and an exactly equal number of members was pledged to Lord Hartington and the Whips.
Coming to later times, a reminiscence is one of April, 1893, when Mr. Gladstone sent for me to discuss a motion of which I had given notice upon the Egyptian occupation. He talked on that occasion with that absolute frankness which accompanied the confidence he always placed in others. It was not peculiar to him, but belongs more, perhaps, to the old days in which he received the training of his mind than to present times. We are told that democratic diplomacy is to be outspoken. But, so far as Parliament is concerned, the older leaders were, I think, like Mr. Gladstone, more given to outspokenness than the newer men, who find themselves forced by the ubiquity of the Press to a greater reserve than was formerly necessary to be maintained. Mr. Gladstone was always of a playful mind, and it would be impossible ever to fully relate any of his conversations without recalling the manner in which, however absorbed in his subject, he always would break off to discuss some amusing triviality. Sir William Harcourt has touchingly recalled Mr. Gladstone's old-world courtesy, which was in private life his distinguishing characteristic.—Daily News, May 24th, 1898.