In the process of settlement there were constant meetings with Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford Northcote together, with Lord John Manners, with Sir Michael Hicks Beach; while on the Conservative scheme for Irish grouping
'I saw Healy for them, to discover if the thing could be done by general consent; and, although Healy did not oppose right out, the prospect of an agreement on details was far from promising. Healy and I took the opportunity to discuss the Parnell-Chamberlain Irish National Board scheme, of which I had written to Grant Duff on January 23rd, "Chamberlain has a grand scheme for an Irish Board."'
March 6th.—'Healy having told me that he was sure Lord Salisbury had "rigged" the Irish Boundary Commission, and I having written this to Spencer, I received an indignant denial. "If indignation were justified at anything that Healy says, I should indignantly deny his accusation."'
'Between March 11th and 13th the Conservatives had given me a good deal of trouble by trying, under pressure from their friends, to vary the Seats Agreement upon several points.... They then attacked the two-member towns in England, which, it may be remembered, had been insisted on by Mr. Gladstone against my wish; and Northcote wrote: "Lord Salisbury and I never liked that privilegium, and wished to have single-member constituencies everywhere"; he tried hard to get me to reopen the question, knowing doubtless that I was with him on the merits. He continued to press the question as late as March 15th, when he wrote: "Our men are getting hard to hold, and, having twice walked through the lobby almost alone, I have no taste for repeating the operation." Conference with Lord Salisbury followed, and the final stages were reached: from Monday, March 23rd, I had the Seats Bill in Committee four days a week.'
The essential fact in these dealings is that emphasized by Mr. Howel Thomas, Secretary to the Boundary Commission:
'No political or other pressure would induce Sir Charles—and the strongest pressure was used again and again—even to contemplate a departure from the spirit of the compact. When once an agreement became possible, he would spare no trouble to modify details. But without agreement, however strong the argument for a change, nothing was listened to.'
'On May 6th I received from Sir John Lambert, the retired Permanent Secretary of the Local Government Board, a most grateful letter about the Privy Councillorship, which had been announced to him by Mr. Gladstone, and which no man ever more greatly deserved as an honour, or by his character more greatly honoured.' [Footnote: John Lambert's letter to Sir Charles contained these words: 'I have had the opportunity of assisting you in a work which has placed you in the very foremost rank of statesmen, and I have formed a friendship which is one of the most gratifying incidents of my declining years.']
'On the morning of May 9th I received a letter from Northcote, congratulating me on the manner in which I had conducted the Redistribution Bill "through its difficult stages.... Let me thank you once more for the great consideration, as well as the perfect loyalty, with which you have dealt with the numerous questions, and congratulate you on having brought your ship so well into port."' [Footnote: Upon a table in the larger drawing-room at 76, Sloane Street there stood always a bronze 'Victory' sent by Sir George Trevelyan to Sir Charles to celebrate the passing of the Redistribution Bill, with these words:
'Dear Dilke,—The bronze is a Victory on a globe. The Victory is obvious. The globe below signifies the manner in which your conduct of the Redistribution Bill got the Tory Press under your feet. I am pleased to think that, as a work of art, it may pass muster even before such an artist as the future Lady Dilke.... It is a copy of a Herculaneum bronze.... I cannot help hoping that you will think it not unworthy of the event which it is meant to commemorate.']
But 'port' was not finally reached till after the fall of the Ministry in June.
Work on the Housing Commission was also practically completed. Throughout the year the Report had been under discussion.
On February 16th 'I told Chamberlain that the Labourers' Ireland Committee had "advised taking of land under compulsory powers in order to attach it to cottages"—a proposal which was afterwards carried; to which Chamberlain replied: "And your Commission?" and I answered: "We shall, I hope, but Lord Salisbury is jibbing since your speeches" (on the unauthorized programme).
'On March 11th, at the meeting of my Housing Commission, Lord Salisbury proposed what Goschen at once described as "Revolution," and Broadhurst "Socialism." He wanted to give public money out of taxes to London. It may have been silly, but it was not either revolutionary or socialistic.'
When it came to the point of acting on the Report, the Tory leader was very far from revolutionary; on June 4th,
'I was also seeing Lord Salisbury as to the Housing Commission Bills, which he was to introduce into the House of Lords, [Footnote: Sir Charles was to take charge of the measures in the Commons.] He was strongly opposed to putting it into the power of Boards of Guardians "to build out of the rates as many cottages, with half- acres attached, as they like, taking for the purpose any land they please." In another letter he wrote: "I should provide that— (1) The Local Authority must pass a petition to the Local Government Board to apply the Acts. (2) The Local Government Board must send down and inquire with a long notice. (3) If the Local Government Board inspector reports (i.) that the poorer classes of the parish are not, and are not likely to be, sufficiently housed without the application of the Acts; (ii.) that the Acts can be applied without ultimate loss to the ratepayers, then a vote of the local authorities should be sufficient to apply the Acts. It would be better that a sufficient interval should be passed in these processes to insure that the second vote should be given by a newly elected local authority."'
On April 4th to 9th the Housing Commission visited Scotland.
'On the evening of April 4th I dined with the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. On Easter Day I attended the Kirk with the Lord Provost, hearing a magnificent sermon by Principal Caird, and in the evening dined with the Lord Advocate. On Easter Tuesday I dined with the Convention of Royal Burghs. On Thursday, April 9th, we left Edinburgh for London.'
There remained only the question of inquiring and reporting with regard to Ireland, and here perplexities abounded.
As far back as February 7th at the Cabinet, 'the third matter discussed was that of the proposed visit of the Prince of Wales to Dublin as a member of my Commission, or, by himself, in advance of the visit of the Commission. It was decided that Parliament could not be asked for his expenses without trouble with the Irish.'
April 9th.—'I now began discussing with Spencer the conditions on which the Commission was to appear at Dublin, with regard to which there were great difficulties. Gray was on the Commission, but could not be Spencer's guest in any way, although, on the other hand, he and his friends were willing to receive me in spite of my being a member of the Government. [Footnote: Mr. Dwyer Gray, Nationalist member for Carlow in 1885. In 1886 he represented St. Stephen's Green, Dublin.] Spencer, in inviting me to stay with him, wrote: "I do not think you will fear the denunciation of United Ireland."
'On April 17th I entered in my diary, after the meeting of the Royal Commission at which we signed our report: "Pleasures of Ireland. If we stay with Spencer, the Irish witnesses say that they will not appear before the Commission; and if we do not, I am told that the 'loyalists' will not appear." On this day I wrote to Grant Duff: "I may go" (out) "with Chamberlain over Budget [Footnote: Correspondence with Mr. Gladstone on the Budget and the Beer Tax has been given in the previous chapter, pp. 118-120.] or over Irish Coercion." He replied, and my rejoinder will be found below.' [Footnote: Sir Charles's summary of this letter will be found in this chapter (p. 143).]
Trouble had arisen also over Mr. Childers's wish to increase the duty on sparkling wines. This Sir Charles strongly opposed
'on the ground that it would upset the French and make them withdraw the most favoured nation treatment which I had won, and the matter was adjourned.'
'On Saturday, May 16th, there was another Cabinet. Childers proposed to raise the wine duties, to reduce by one-half his proposed increase on spirits, and to limit to one year his increase on beer. We all agreed, against Childers, to postpone any announcement of changes for three weeks, and Childers, thinking that this meant that we had agreed not to take his proposals, said that he would resign.'
April 24th.—'I had now received Spencer's consent to my quitting the Viceregal Lodge, when at Dublin at Whitsuntide, for one evening, to attend a party at Gray's, which was the virtual condition of our not being boycotted by the Nationalists.'
Negotiations between the Irish party and both English parties were at this time in the air, and it will be seen that this visit to Ireland became connected with political issues quite different from its ostensible and non-controversial object.
Early in 1885 anti-Irish feeling, which to some extent had been allayed, was again roused by dynamite outrages. One bomb was exploded in the Tower of London, and two in the precincts of Parliament. The general temper may be judged by an entry of February 7th:
'I remonstrated with Harcourt as to the restrictions at the House, which he and the Speaker had agreed on, so far as they affected the Press. I said that it was ridiculous to shut out little Lucy, the "Toby" of Punch, and Harcourt gravely assured me that Lucy was a man who would willingly bring dynamite into the House himself; after which I had no more to say.'
It was in face of this feeling that Mr. Chamberlain had drafted a scheme giving very large powers of self-government to an Irish popularly elected body.
When Sir Charles was declaring for resignation, he received a communication which made the Irish matter pressing.
'On April 22nd Cardinal Manning wrote to me that he had some information of importance which he wished for an opportunity of making known to me, and he begged me to come to him on my way to Whitehall on the morrow. I had to see Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford Northcote as to the Seats Bill, and it was not until the afternoon that I was able to see the Cardinal. He spoke in the name of Croke and another Roman Catholic Irish Archbishop, and of five Irish Roman Catholic Bishops who had been staying with him, the latter being a deputation of five to Rome who represented "the 14 Bishops." He said that Croke had become frightened of the extreme Nationalists. The Cardinal declared that the Roman Catholic clergy were ready to pacify Ireland if we would pass Chamberlain's Local Government Ireland Scheme, with a Central Board such as Chamberlain proposed. The Bishops and clergy would be prepared to denounce, not only separation, but also an Irish Parliament. I had reason to know that Lord Spencer was unfavourable to any negotiation with Cardinal Manning, but on the 24th, having that day again seen Manning, who put the dots on the "i's" and volunteered that if the Irish Bishops got the elective board for Ireland they would denounce as revolutionary an Irish Parliament, I wrote to Mr. Gladstone stating Manning's views, and suggesting that Chamberlain should see the Cardinal on the morrow. [Footnote: See the next two pages, where accounts of these interviews and correspondence occur.]
'I said in my letter to Mr. Gladstone: "I knew that the Pope, in sending for the Bishops to Rome, had acted on Manning's advice. I also knew that Manning bitterly resented Errington's visits to Rome. This was all I knew on the subject until to-day, when Manning suddenly proposed to me to bring about peace and good-will in Ireland on the basis of Chamberlain's Local Government and Central Board Scheme.... Manning has got a pledge from the Roman Catholic Bishops, including even Archbishop Croke ... and from Davitt, to denounce separation. He has got from the Bishops, including Croke, a declaration against an Irish Parliament, provided they obtain the Local Government Central Board. I suggested that he should see Chamberlain at once, and learn secretly the details of his proposals. He said nothing of coercion, and I, of course, avoided the subject, as I did not know whether a coercion Bill is to be proposed. I should suggest that Manning be encouraged to let the Pope have Chamberlain's scheme."
'I sent this memorandum to Chamberlain and to Lord Spencer, as well as to Mr. Gladstone, and Chamberlain wrote: "I am quite willing to call on the Cardinal if Mr. Gladstone approves." Lord Spencer wrote: "The question of Mr. Chamberlain's seeing the Cardinal with a view of his scheme being made known to the Pope is for Mr. Gladstone's decision, but I would venture to say that he should not disclose his plan to the Cardinal unless the Cabinet agree to it." This last memorandum from Lord Spencer is dated the 25th, but on the 24th Chamberlain, Mr. Gladstone having consented, had seen the Cardinal. I also saw the Cardinal again on the 25th, and he told me that in his opinion it was essential that Dr. Walsh should be made Archbishop of Dublin. He also told me that he was going to see Parnell on the Chamberlain scheme. On April 30th the Cardinal saw Parnell, and told him that the Bishops would support Chamberlain in the Local Government of Ireland scheme. Parnell promised that he would support it, and would not obstruct the Crimes Bill. So O'Shea told me, and showed me a paper unsigned, which purported to be, and which, knowing the hand, I believe was, Parnell's writing, somewhat to this effect. On the 28th a Committee of the Cabinet had been appointed on Chamberlain's Irish Local Government and Central Council scheme. On May 1st the Cardinal told me of his interview with Parnell, and of a more completely satisfactory interview between himself and Sexton.
'The scheme was one which proposed the establishment in Ireland of a national elective Council, to which were to be referred matters at present in the hands of some four Boards at Dublin Castle. Mr. Gladstone's consent to Chamberlain's interview with the Cardinal had been given in conversation at the House of Commons on the 23rd, and I have a letter from Mr. Gladstone stating this. I had probably, for some reason which I forget, both written and spoken to him after my first interview with Manning on the 22nd, and put the matter again in a letter (possibly to go to Spencer) on the 24th. I have also a letter from Chamberlain on the 24th, saying that his interview with Manning "quite confirms your minute, and the position is hopeful." With regard to the Cardinal's insisting upon Walsh, and his anger at Errington's interference, I had a letter which I sent to Lord Spencer, and which he kept, but returned my minute referring to the Cardinal's letter, endorsed only "S. 25-4-85." Chamberlain also wrote on the same day, again stating that his interview with the Cardinal had been highly satisfactory, and adding: "Do not let Mr. Errington meddle with the Archbishopric of Dublin." On April 26th the Cardinal had again written to me about the Errington business and the See of Dublin, and this second letter on the subject I kept. The only new point in it was that contained in the following phrase: "I have an impression that efforts have been made to represent Dr. Walsh as a Nationalist. He is not more so than I am; and whether that is excessive or obstructive you will judge."
'On Tuesday, April 28th, the Cardinal again spoke to me as to the archbishopric, expressing his great vexation as to Spencer's action through Errington. I sent a minute to Spencer which he returned, writing, with regard to Manning's moderate opinions: "I wish it may be so. Responsibility does wonders. Maynooth is so bad that the Pope is now discussing it with the Bishops." Dr. Walsh, Manning's candidate, was President of Maynooth. I sent Spencer's minute to Chamberlain, who returned it with a strong minute of his own for Spencer, who again wrote: "H.E. the Cardinal is wrong in his estimate of Dr. Walsh." On April 30th Manning wrote mentioning a further conversation with Parnell, and adding: "The result is that I strongly advise the prompt introduction of the scheme I have in writing. It cannot be known too soon. But both on general and on particular reasons I hope that neither you nor your friend will dream of the act you spoke of. Government are pledged in their first Queen's Speech to county government in Ireland. Let them redeem their pledge. All the rest will follow." The "act," of course, was resignation.'
'At the Cabinet Committee of May 1st on Ireland, Carlingford and Harcourt, in Spencer's interest, violently attacked Chamberlain's scheme; Hartington less violently; Childers, Lefevre, and Trevelyan supported. Spencer seeming to waver, Harcourt rather turned round, and Mr. Gladstone afterwards told Chamberlain that Carlingford's opposition did not matter.
'On May 1st I again saw Manning, who told me of further interviews with Parnell and Sexton. I noted in my diary: "2nd to 6th. The Irish row—Mr. Gladstone between Chamberlain and Spencer: the deep sea and the devil, or the devil and the deep sea—continues."
'On May 7th the Cardinal wrote: "How can the Standard have got the Irish scheme? Nothing is secret and nobody is safe. My copy of it is both safe and secret." On May 8th I wrote to Grant Duff: "Chamberlain and I have a big Irish Local Government scheme on hand, which is backed by the R. C. Bishops—which may either pacify Ireland or break up the Government." On the 9th, Harcourt having come over, Chamberlain's scheme received the support of all the Commoners except Hartington, and was opposed by all the peers except Lord Granville. Mr. Gladstone said to me in leaving the room: "Within six years, if it pleases God to spare their lives, they will be repenting in ashes." At night he wrote to Lord Spencer and to Hartington that he intended to go out upon this question.
'During Sunday, May 10th, Harcourt tried hard to patch matters up on the basis of "No Home Rule, no coercion, no remedial legislation, no Ireland at all."'
On May 13th 'Cardinal Manning dined with me, and we further discussed the position of Chamberlain's scheme.'
Then suddenly a new and complicating factor was introduced:
'On Friday, May 15th, there was another Cabinet, from which Trevelyan was absent through illness. A Land Purchase Ireland Bill was suddenly presented to us, to which I expressed strong opposition, unless it were to be accompanied by "Chamberlain's Local Government scheme"; and a Coercion Bill was also presented to us, against which Chamberlain, Lefevre, and I, protested. We, however, declared that we would yield as regards some points in the Coercion Bill provided the Land Purchase Bill were dropped or the "Local Government measure" introduced.' [Footnote: A Land Purchase Bill had been proposed in the end of April, 1884, by Lord Spencer, which after preliminary consideration by a Committee was discussed in Cabinet.
'I opposed the whole thing. Lord Derby gave five reasons against it, all five unanswerable, and then supported it. Northbrook agreed with me. Childers, supported by a unanimous Cabinet committee, proposed a scheme of Chamberlain's suggestion for advancing the whole purchase money. Spencer proposed three-fourths. Mr. Gladstone had a scheme of his own which nobody could understand. Spencer insisted on counting heads. Lord Granville, who would, of course, have supported Mr. Gladstone, had gone away. Trevelyan, who had been called in, was not allowed to vote, and the result was that the majority pronounced against Chamberlain's scheme; Spencer who was for three-fourths, and I against the whole thing, voting together with Carlingford, Northbrook, the Chancellor, Hartington, and Dodson—a scratch lot—against Mr. Gladstone, Childers, Harcourt, Kimberley, Derby, and Chamberlain.']
'On Sunday, May 17th, I dined with Edward Levy Lawson, [Footnote: Afterwards the first Lord Burnham.] and met the Prince of Wales and Randolph Churchill; and Randolph told the Prince and myself that which he had previously told the Irish members—namely, that Salisbury had promised to have no coercion; but I noted in my diary that I did not believe this. I was wrong, for Salisbury afterwards said at Newport that his mind had been made up against coercion long before the change of Government. I knew that Randolph had seen Parnell, as I had twice seen them together in Gosset's room, which only Randolph and I ever used before 5 p m.'
There were now two separate subjects of division leading to resignations in the Cabinet. There were those who would resign unless coercion was renewed, and there was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was resigning because he could not get his way as to the Budget. His resignation was 'suspended'; but Mr. Gladstone was evidently anxious to be out of it all.
'On the Sunday Childers informed us that he would go on for three weeks. On Wednesday afternoon, May 20th, Mr. Gladstone spoke to me at the House, and told me that he would go on until the end of the Session, and would then resign, and that Hartington would try to form a Government, although he might fail in getting one that could agree on Irish proposals. Mr. Gladstone said nothing about land purchase, but in the course of the afternoon he suddenly announced publicly the introduction of a Land Purchase Bill, thinking, I believe, that he had Chamberlain's consent to a Bill limited to one year. I at once wrote him a letter of resignation, and then sent off for Chamberlain, Lefevre, and Trevelyan.
'Chamberlain's interview with Mr. Gladstone that had misled the latter had taken place after the Cabinet of Saturday—I think on the morning of Monday, the 18th—and their meeting was on the subject of Childers's Budget proposals. Chamberlain, writing to me about it, said: "We are likely to want four millions less money. Therefore, says Childers, let us have a new Budget and clap an additional tax of L300,000 on wine." Chamberlain also wrote to me, after his interview with Mr. Gladstone, on the Monday afternoon, telling me that Randolph Churchill was going to give notice of a Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland, that Churchill thought that we should be out by that time and supporting him, and that he contemplated a separation from his own leaders, and a union, on a Radical Irish policy for "Local Government," and against coercion, of the two sides from below the gangway. Chamberlain added that, if the Russian matter "were out of the way, Mr. Gladstone would let us go, and I think we must go." This correspondence had left me unaware of any change in Chamberlain's view, if there was any, about the Land Purchase Bill. As soon as Chamberlain reached the House on the 20th, and heard from me what I had done, he also wrote a letter of resignation; but he was not pleased, and perhaps rightly, at my having taken so strong a step without consulting him on the precise point.
'In Chamberlain's letter, which was sent at 6 p.m. on the 20th, he said: "Dear Mr. Gladstone,—I have heard with great surprise that you have this afternoon given notice of the introduction of a Land Purchase Bill for Ireland, unaccompanied by any reference to the large scheme of Local Government, the promise of which for next year was the condition of the assent given by Sir Charles Dilke and myself to the proposal for dealing with Land Purchase during the present Session. I am convinced that a measure of the kind suggested by Lord Spencer will have a distinct tendency to increase the agitation for a separation between the two countries, and at the same time will seriously prejudice the success of any such scheme of Local Government as I have submitted to the Cabinet.... In the circumstances I feel that I have no alternative but to place my resignation in your hands."
'On the morning of May 21st Lefevre informed us that he should go with us, and also wrote a letter of resignation, in which he said that he did not agree with us as to Land Purchase, but that as we went he must go, too, on coercion.
'Mr. Gladstone sent for me on the 21st, and I suggested a way out, in our acceptance of the Land Purchase Bill, with a promise of "the Local Government Scheme" for 1886. Mr. Gladstone fell in with this view, and proposed that at Dublin, for which I was starting on Friday morning, May 22nd, I should try to get Spencer's consent to the limitation of the new Coercion Bill to a single year, and the promise of the "Local Government Bill" for 1886. On the 21st Mr. Gladstone wrote to me several times, as did also Chamberlain. Mr. Gladstone had written to Chamberlain on the night of the 20th: "I have never been in greater surprise than at the fresh trouble developed this afternoon. I believed myself to be acting entirely within the lines of your and Dilke's concurrence, and surely I am right in thinking that you could not have supposed that the notice of an intention to bring in a Bill offered the occasion on which to refer to the distinct though allied subject of Local Government. What I understood to be your and Dilke's procedure was to agree to a Land Purchase Bill with a provision of funds for one year, which would leave the whole measure ... dependent on a fresh judgment which might be associated with Local Government as its condition. It seems to me to be a matter which we may perfectly well consider, and hope to arrange, in what terms reference shall be made to Local Government when the Bill is brought in. Will not that be the time to part, if part we must, which I do not believe? I send a copy of this to Dilke, and will only add, to the expression of my surprise, my deep concern."
'When I received a letter from Mr. Gladstone, enclosing a copy of his to Chamberlain, I replied (first showing my answer to Lefevre and sending it to Chamberlain) to the effect that the proposal to introduce a Land Purchase Bill had been discussed by and rejected by the Cabinet, that I could not concur in the reversal of its judgment, and that, thinking as I did that a deliberate opinion of the Cabinet had been disregarded without warrant, and having, so thinking, resigned, I should be unable to attend any meeting of the Cabinet if one were summoned. I have a letter from Chamberlain to Mr Gladstone dated 21st, and two later ones from Mr. Gladstone to myself. Chamberlain said:
'"My Dear Mr. Gladstone,
'"I fear there has been a serious misapprehension on both sides with respect to a Land Purchase Bill, and I take blame to myself if I did not express myself with sufficient clearness. I certainly never imagined that the promise of introduction would be made without further reference to the Cabinet, or without some definite decision as to Local Government. I doubt very much if it is wise or even right to attempt to cover over the serious differences of principle that have lately disclosed themselves in the Cabinet. I think it is now certain that they will cause a split in the new Parliament, and it seems hardly fair to the constituencies that this should only be admitted after they have discharged their functions, and when they are unable to influence the result.
'They did "cause" a split in the new Parliament, but Spencer the Coercionist and Chamberlain the Nationalist had changed places!'
'I do not know which of Mr. Gladstone's two letters dated the 21st is the earlier. In the one Mr. Gladstone wrote: "I hope that my note may have shown you that the time for considering your difficulty (if there be one) has not arrived. Please to tell me if this is so, as if it were not I should have to summon the Cabinet this afternoon to report what has happened. The messenger will wait for an answer.— Yours sincerely, W. E. Gladstone.—This is also for Chamberlain." I replied somewhat curtly that if there were a Cabinet I could not attend. The other letter referred to a conversation which had taken place between Hamilton and Chamberlain, and said that the latter was "willing that his letter should stand as non avenu until after the recess—i.e. (so I understand it), we should, before the Bill is introduced, consider in what terms the subject of Local Government should be referred to when the Bill is introduced. I am not trying to bind you to this understanding, but if you and he will come here at 3.0 we will try to get at the bottom of the matter." My reply was:
'"I certainly cannot withdraw my resignation unless the incident is explained to the whole of the members of the Cabinet. If you could see your way to circulate a box explaining that we were not consenting parties to the reversal of the opinion of the Cabinet, then I would try to help find some way out. I am, however, hopeless as to the wisdom of doing so. We differ so completely on the questions which will occupy the time of Parliament for the remainder of the Session that I feel that the Cabinet cannot hold together with advantage to the country. Lefevre strongly agrees with this view Northbrook and Hartington, who, with Lefevre, were against Chamberlain and myself on the merits, evidently felt as amazed as we were at the reversal of the decision."'
'At this moment Chamberlain wrote to Mrs. Pattison' (in India) 'to say that the times were "most anxious. Mr. Gladstone is certainly going to retire soon, and the influence which has held together discordant elements will be removed with him. Fortunately, we know our own minds, and are not deficient in resolution, but it is not always easy to see clearly the right times and way of giving effect to our decisions. I do not myself believe that the struggle between us and the Whigs can be long postponed. It has nearly come over the question of Ireland, and even now we may be compelled to break off on this vital point. In any case we shall not join another Government nor meet another Parliament without a decision; and if it is against our views, the split will be final and complete, and we shall be out of office until we can lead a purely Radical Administration. We must win in the end, but the contest will be a bitter one, and may lead us farther than we contemplate at present.... I was dining last Saturday with Lord Ripon, who professed to be well pleased ... and declared his full adhesion to the new gospel; but the majority of his class and school are getting thoroughly frightened, and will probably quicken and intensify the movement by setting themselves against it, instead of trying to guide and direct it. A good deal depends on Lord Hartington. He is constitutionally contemptuous of, and unsympathetic with, the democratic sentiment of the times."
'By our telegrams of May 21st, I saw that on the 20th Sir John Kirk, our man at Zanzibar, had been snubbed by Lord Granville, and I felt that if I went out upon the Irish Question I should be able at least to speak my mind as to the manner in which we had pandered to the Germans on the Zanzibar coast.
'On May 21st I wrote to Grant Duff: "Mr. G. will resign at the end of the session. I rather doubt Hartington being able to form a Government."
'On the morning of Friday, May 22nd, I left for Dublin, and by teatime was at the Viceregal Lodge.'
On the previous day Sir Charles had written:
'Local Government Board, 'May 21st, 1885.
'My Dear Grant Duff,
'Off to Ireland, where I expect to be Boycotted by both sides [Footnote: It turned out the other way.]—by the Nationalists because I stay with Spencer, and by the Orangemen because we sit at the Mansion House.
'Yours, 'Chs. W. D.'
'As Mr. Gladstone at our last interview had bid me convert Spencer if I could, and virtually promised that he would support our views if Spencer would, I had asked Trevelyan and Harcourt to back me up in letters. Harcourt made delay. Trevelyan wrote on the 23rd: "I am sorry the whole thing is in the newspapers, and see in it another reason for getting it settled. If you and Chamberlain make it a point to have the Bill for a year, I should be glad to see the concession made. The concession on the part of those who take another view would not be greater than was made by those of us who objected to have a Land Bill that was not based upon a new system of Local Government."
'Early in the morning of Saturday, the 23rd, before the meeting of my Commission at the City Hall, I had had a long talk with Spencer, and I felt, more strongly than I ever had before, that his position in Dublin was untenable, and that he ought to be allowed to go. On Whit Sunday I attended church with Spencer, and in the afternoon took him for the only walk which he had enjoyed for a long time. We passed the spot where Lord Frederick Cavendish was killed, and accompanied by a single aide-de-camp, but watched at a distance by two policemen in plain clothes, and met at every street corner by two others, walked to the strawberry gardens, and on our return, it being a lovely Sunday when the Wicklow Mountains were at their best and the hawthorn in bloom, met thousands of Dublin people driving out to the strawberry gardens on cars. In the course of the whole long walk but one man lifted his hat to Spencer, who was universally recognized, but assailed by the majority of those we met with shouts of, "Who killed Myles Joyce?" [Footnote: One of several men hanged for the Maamtrasna murders. All the other men sentenced protested that Myles Joyce was innocent, and died protesting it. Strong efforts were made to gain a reprieve for this lad.] while some varied the proceedings by calling "Murderer!" after him. A few days later, when I was driving with Lady Spencer in an open carriage, a well-dressed bicyclist came riding through the cavalry escort, and in a quiet, conversational tone observed to us, "Who killed Myles Joyce?" At his dinner-party on the Sunday evening Spencer told us that a Roman Catholic priest [Footnote: Father Healy, parish priest of Bray, and most famous of modern Irish talkers.] who was present (the Vicar of Bray, I think, but not the Bray) was the only priest in Ireland who would enter his walls, while the Castle was boycotted by every Archbishop and Bishop. On Monday morning, the 25th, Whit Monday, I paid a visit to the Mansion House at the request of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, taking by Spencer's leave the Viceregal carriages there, where they had in his second viceroyalty not been before, and was received by the Lord Mayor in state, which consisted in much exhibition of the most gorgeous porter (in green and gold) that my eyes had ever beheld. I afterwards went on to see Hamilton, [Footnote: Sir Robert Hamilton, who had succeeded Mr. Bourke as the permanent head of Dublin Castle.] the Under-Secretary. He offered us as a maximum County Boards plus a Central Education Board for Ireland, to administer all the grants with rating powers, and to be called a great experiment to be extended if it answered. In the evening I discussed this with Spencer, who went a little farther, and offered, in addition to County Boards, four elective Central Boards for Ireland, to discharge much the same duties which Chamberlain's scheme gave to the Central Board; but Spencer obstinately refused to take the plunge of making the four Boards into one Board. It was on this point that we broke off; and he never got farther forward until after the Government had gone out. He has since declared that his conversion to a more advanced Home Rule scheme than that of Chamberlain, which he had refused, was caused by the return of a certain majority of Nationalist members; but he was perfectly aware at this time what that majority would be, and I confess that I have never been able to understand why Hamilton and Spencer should have held out as they did in May against the moderate scheme, and have supported the extreme one as early as July, which I believe to have been the case. Had Spencer yielded at this moment, it is at least possible that the Irish question would have been settled. At all events, there has never been in our time so fair a chance of settlement.
'On Tuesday, the 26th, I heard from Lefevre, who wrote strongly against the Coercion Bill for Spencer's benefit, but added in a separate letter that he regarded the notice in the Birmingham Post as indicating that Chamberlain had been talking freely about the dissensions in the Cabinet, and that if this was so he considered it unfortunate, as tending to increase the difficulty of getting any further concessions from Spencer or other members of the Cabinet who favoured coercion.
'On Tuesday evening the Commission dined with Gray, and met Dr. Walsh, the new Archbishop; but at Dr. Walsh's wish I had gone to Gray's house half an hour before dinner to see the Archbishop privately, and to be thanked by him for the part that I had taken in trying to prevent opposition to the choice. In the evening Gray had a party at which both sides were represented, Chief Justice Morris being among those present. Gray's house, although the Spencers disliked him, was one at which the parties always met as much as is possible at all in Ireland. When Gray came out of gaol after his imprisonment he gave a small dinner, at which were present the Judge who had sentenced him, the gaoler who had had him in custody, and the prosecuting counsel. The most interesting man at Gray's was Fottrell, the man whose memoirs ought to be interesting, for he had acted as intermediary between the Castle (that is, Hamilton) and Parnell at the time when secret communications were passing between them, although openly they were at war.
'Dickson, the Ulster Liberal member, [Footnote: M.P. For Dungannon, Tyrone, 1880-1885. He afterwards became a leading Unionist.] was at Gray's, and he announced that he had at last come over to Chamberlain's scheme. Now, Hartington was crossing the next day to stay at the Viceregal Lodge, and was to speak at Belfast under Dickson's auspices, and the announcement of Dickson's change of front was a startling blow to him and Spencer.
'On the morning of Wednesday, the 27th, I wrote to Grant Duff: "A pretty pass you Whigs have brought this country to! I really think we Radicals ought to be allowed to try. We certainly could not do it worse. 'Poland' has been a byword, yet Poland is far less of a weakness to Russia than Ireland to us, and the Russians have now the Polish peasantry with them, if they have the towns and nobles against them. We have no friends in Ireland. All our policy has aimed at conciliating at least Ulster, and now Ulster is fast becoming as Nationalist as Cork. The Liberals carried Belfast freeholders in the late Antrim election to the cry of 'Down with coercion!' and 'No special legislation!' Hartington comes to-night, and I shall try to arrange some compromise with him and Spencer as to the future—probably an Irish elective education Council."
'On the evening of the 27th I had a long conference with Hartington and Spencer, in which I "worked" Dickson much. Before this I had had the third meeting of my Commission, and then a public meeting in connection with the Dublin Ladies' Central Association, a body dealing with the Housing of the Working Classes. On the morning of May 28th Spencer came into my bedroom before eight o'clock, and told me that Hartington was very ill, suffering from sleeplessness and fever, and that it would be quite impossible for him to make his Belfast speech.... Dickson soon came to the Viceregal Lodge, and earnestly begged me to go to Belfast in Hartington's place, but under the circumstances I felt that it was impossible that I should do so, although he promised me that a special train should be waiting at the last moment if I would change my mind.
'I received this day a letter from Cardinal Manning strongly urging that Chamberlain, Lefevre, and I, should stay in. "If you and the like of you leave the Whigs, they will fall back and unite in resisting you. So long as you are in contact with them, they will yield to reason. These are the thoughts of an Old Testament Radical." But the Old Testament Radical went on to make proposals to me with regard to the Roman Catholic vote in Chelsea which would have astonished the Old Testament prophets.
'Another letter which I received this day was from O'Shea about Parnell's opinions on the Coercion Bill, but it is so obscure that I can make nothing of it. It was on a suggestion of Lefevre's with regard to bringing the Coercion Bill into force only by "proclamation." It shows, however, if O'Shea is to be believed, that Parnell was willing to accept a coercion measure of some kind, or, at all events, to haggle about its terms, if publicly resisting it as a whole.
'By the same post I received a letter from Heneage [Footnote: Mr. Edward Heneage, for many years M.P. for Grimsby, and for a short time Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1886. He was afterwards a leading Unionist.] professing to state the general view of the House of Commons, and pronouncing in favour of a liberal policy towards Ireland. "(1) Non-renewal of the Crimes Act. (2) Amendment of the jury laws. (3) Amendment of the purchase clauses. (4) Abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy. (5) Improvement of Local Government." This I showed to Spencer, with a memorandum of my own in which I said that it was "a curious letter from a Whig." Spencer wrote on my memorandum in returning the letter: "It is an odd letter.... He wrote to me the other day about the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy, rather apologizing for bringing it on. I replied deprecating any movement which might not go with action. To denounce an office without at once abolishing it would weaken the hands of him who filled it."
'I wrote to Lefevre and Chamberlain that Hartington had come very well, and was very well at dinner, but bored at having to speak. "Walker told him what I told him as to the unwisdom of speaking in favour of coercion in Belfast immediately after the anti-coercion speeches of the Liberals at the Antrim election; and to-day he is ill. I do not know how far the two things are connected; but the papers will say they are."
'I lunched with Sir Edward Guinness and sat in the Speaker's chair of the Irish Parliament; dined with Sir Robert Hamilton at the Yacht Club at Kingstown; slept on board the boat and crossed next day; spent Saturday to Tuesday at Dockett Eddy; and on Tuesday was at the State Concert, where several of us tried to patch up some means of being able to meet in Cabinet on June 5th. On Thursday, June 4th, I had a long talk with Mr. Gladstone, and, on his agreeing to support the Heneage-Lefevre-O'Shea proposal, now supported by Chamberlain, for only bringing the Coercion Bill into force by a proclamation, agreed to attend the Cabinet the next day, but without withdrawing my resignation, which remained "suspended."
'I began on the 3rd and ended on the 5th June a letter to Grant Duff in reply to one from him bidding me not break off from the Government on any but a clear and obvious issue. I told him that (1) Radicals in a minority would only ever get their way by often threatening to go, even on secondary points, and that they must not threaten unless they "meant it." (2) Mr. G. insisted he was "going." "Therefore we have to count with Hartington. We doubt if we can form part of a Hartington Government, and we can't do so if we do not ... impose our terms by threats.... This is why I have been forcing the pace of late.... Chamberlain is a little timid just now, in view of the elections and the fury of the Pall Mall. I could not drive Chamberlain out without his free consent, so I am rather tied. Still, we shall (June 5th) get our own way, I fancy, at to-day's Cabinet."
'On the morning of June 5th my position in attending the Cabinet was weakened, if not made ridiculous, by a letter from Spencer in which he refused the Heneage-Lefevre-O'Shea compromise. But I went all the same, for I was not supposed to know what he had written to Mr. Gladstone. The first matter discussed was the Budget. I opposed the proposed increase of the wine duties from 1s. to 1s. 3d., and from 2s. 6d. to 3s. (all bottled wine to be at the 3s. rate). I carried with me at first all except Mr. Gladstone against Childers, and at last Mr. Gladstone also. Childers then left the room; Mr. Gladstone, Lord Granville, Harcourt, and the Chancellor, one by one, went after him, but he would not come back. The Guards at Alexandria were mentioned, and then Spencer's letter to Mr. Gladstone against the proclamation clause read, whereon Chamberlain and I protested against coercion as a whole, and no decision upon any point was come to.
'On June 6th I dined at Harcourt's Queen's Birthday dinner, and afterwards attended Lady Granville's Foreign Office party, but these were expiring festivities.
'On Monday, June 8th, there was a Cabinet, at which the first matter was Irish Coercion and the proclamation clause. Spencer now offered proclamation by the Viceroy (i.e., not by the Government in London, which was our proposal) for all the Bill except the intimidation part, but refused to have it for the boycotting clause. Trevelyan now joined Chamberlain, Lefevre, and myself, in opposing Spencer; the others supported him, but tried to make him yield. We decided that if he yielded we should ask that a statement to the Cabinet should be promised to precede proclamation.'
On June 8th Mr. Childers moved the second reading of his Budget Bill, which was met by an amendment moved by Sir Michael Hicks Beach, condemning the proposed increase upon beer and spirits without any corresponding increase on wine, and declining to increase the duty on real property until promised changes were made in regard to local taxation.
'I made a good debating Budget speech, of which Sir John Lambert wrote "In Tea, Domine, spero," and I replied: "Since the time of Sir Thomas More all these profane 'good things' have come from devout Catholics."'
Other leading men followed, and Mr. Gladstone summed up by saying that you must tax either alcohol or tea and sugar. But the division went against him: 6 Liberals voted with the Tories, and 76 were absent. The majority against the Government was 12. The end had at length come.
FALL OF ADMINISTRATION
JUNE TO JULY, 1885
On June 8th, as has been seen, the Government were defeated by a majority of 12.
'On June 9th there was a further Cabinet. We had been beaten on the Budget, but in the meantime Spencer had yielded, and Mr. Gladstone was very anxious to be able to say that we were all agreed. Therefore we discussed a Coercion Bill in the first place, but the four of us at once refused to agree to Spencer's concession as sufficient.' [Footnote: Namely, that the Coercion Bill should only have effect after a special proclamation had been issued. Sir Charles Dilke notes, September 20th, 1891, the receipt of a letter from Mr. Chamberlain, thanking him for extracts from his Memoir of 1884-85 on Irish affairs, and saying that where it dealt with the same points it tallied exactly with his recollections.] 'It passes my understanding, therefore, how Mr. Gladstone is able to pronounce, as he has done, "unfounded" the statement that the Cabinet was at odds upon the Irish question at the moment of its defeat. Three of us had resigned on it, and our letters were in his pocket. The next matter discussed was resignation, which did not take a minute; and then the question of what Customs dues should be levied....
'After the Cabinet there was a levee, at which I had some conversation with Lord Salisbury as to the Redistribution Bill in the Lords, and his reply showed that he meant to form a Government.'
'On June 10th my discussions with Lord Salisbury as to the Redistribution Bill were continued, and it was decided that the Bill was to go forward in spite of the Ministerial crisis, although this was resisted by the Fourth Party in the House of Commons.'
On the previous evening Sir Charles Dilke addressed an audience at the City Liberal Club in a speech of unwonted passion. Confidently anticipating that the Redistribution Bill would go through in spite of any change of Ministry and the resistance of the Fourth Party, he dwelt on the magnitude of the change for which he had so long wrought. But the central point of the speech was a eulogy of Mr Gladstone, which reflected the temper of a scene that had passed in the House of Commons the same day, and he demanded in the name of Liberalism that the battle should be won, 'not only with his great name, but under his actual leadership.'
This was the declaration of the Radicals against all thought of a Hartington Administration. Referring to the speech, he writes:
'I was greatly congratulated on this day on a speech which I had made at a house dinner of the City Liberal Club on the 9th. Chamberlain wrote: "Your speech was admirable, and I have heard from one who was present that the effect was electrical. You never did better in your life." He went on to agree with me in my wish that Herbert Gladstone should be appointed Chief Whip for the Opposition, and then to say that we must be very careful what we did, or "we shall destroy the Tory Government before it has done our work." I had asked him to sit to Holl for a portrait for me, and he said that he would do so, but that he was going to speak all over the country in support of the unauthorized programme. He did sit, and a very fine picture was the result.' [Footnote: Now at the National Portrait Gallery, to which Sir Charles bequeathed it.]
'On Saturday, June 13th, I presided at the Cobden Club dinner, at which Chamberlain was also present, and our speeches attracted some attention.' [Footnote: Sir Charles from the chair advocated 'destroying the monopoly in land,' and 'establishing an Irish control of Irish affairs.' Chamberlain advocated 'some great measure of devolution by which the Imperial Parliament shall retain its supremacy, but shall nevertheless relegate to subordinate authorities the control and administration of their local business,' and added: 'I think it is a consolation to my right hon. friend as well as to myself that our hands are free, and that our voices may now be lifted up in the cause of freedom and justice.']
'On Tuesday, the 16th, we had a meeting of the leaders, at which were present Lords Selborne, Northbrook, Carlingford, Derby, Kimberley, Mr. Gladstone, Harcourt, Childers, Chamberlain, Lefevre, and myself. Salisbury, through Arthur Balfour, had verbally asked for (1) priority for Supply; (2) if we would, supposing that we opposed their Budget, support them in borrowing by Exchequer Bills. We decided to make as little reply as possible. In Winston Churchill's Life of his father he says we promised "facilities," but we refused.'
'Randolph Churchill sounded me to know if in the event of his taking office he could sit for Birmingham, and Chamberlain answered: "If R. C. takes office without coercion, we should not oppose him. If with, I should certainly fight to accentuate the betrayal."
'On the afternoon of June 16th I had a serious talk with Chamberlain about manhood suffrage, which he had advocated in a speech, pointing out to him that this question of manhood as against adult suffrage (i.e., including women) was the only one on which we differed, and the only question which seemed likely to divide us. The outcome of our talk was that we should postpone as long as possible the inevitable difference, and make it last as short a time as possible by postponing it till the very moment when the thing was likely to be carried. When the time came that our people should be raving for manhood suffrage, and that I should have to join the Tories in carrying adult suffrage as against it, I might, if in office, have to go out by myself, but this could not be avoided.' [Footnote: A memorandum on this subject by Sir Charles, published by the Society for Promoting Adult Suffrage, in the last years of his life, is quoted on p. 409 of this volume.]
'On the 16th, also, I wrote to Grant Duff that there was "no liking for Ireland or the Irish," but "an almost universal feeling now in both parties that some form of Home Rule must be tried. My own belief is that it will be tried too late, as all our remedies have been."
'I told him how I had written to solicit a peerage for him, and that the Liberals would be in office again in "January," and when his term of office was to expire—a true prophecy.'
'On June 18th there was another Cabinet of the outgoing Ministers, although Hartington and Lord Granville were not present. There were present Mr. Gladstone, Lord Selborne, Carlingford, Northbrook, Kimberley, Derby, Rosebery, Harcourt, Childers, Trevelyan, Lefevre, Chamberlain, and myself. Mr. Gladstone had heard on the previous night from the Queen, enclosing a letter from Lord Salisbury to her, asking for an undertaking that we would support him on his Budget and in Supply, as he could not now dissolve. We again refused to give any but very general assurances.
'On June 19th, Randolph Churchill having blown up Northcote' (who had been removed to the Upper House), 'and shown his power by making himself Dictator, now wished for freedom and some excuse for preventing the formation of a Government, and a curious letter from him was forwarded to me by Chamberlain. In Chamberlain's covering letter there is the first allusion to our proposed tour in Ireland.
'On Saturday, June 20th, there was a last Cabinet or "full meeting" of outgoing Ministers, all being present except Spencer and our two racing men—Hartington and Rosebery. We further considered the question of "assurances," at the renewed suggestion of the Queen, and finally declined to give them. Though this was called as a Cabinet, Mrs. Gladstone was in the room. Saturday to Monday I spent in a last visit to the smallpox camp at Darenth. On Monday, the 22nd, I made a fighting speech at a meeting at the Welsh chapel in Radnor Street at Chelsea; [Footnote: The speech advocated not merely Home Rule, but Home Rule all round. Sir Charles expressed a wish to "study in Ireland a plan for the devolution to Welsh, Scottish, and Irish bodies of much business which Parliament is incompetent to discharge, and which at the present time is badly done or not done at all."
"The principles of decentralization which ought to be applied are clear to those who know the two kingdoms and the Principality, but the details must be studied on the spot. As regards Wales and Scotland, no great controversial questions are likely to arise. But as regards the Irish details, it is the intention of Mr. Chamberlain and myself to inquire in Ireland of those who know Ireland best. Officials in Ireland, contrary to public belief, are many of them in favour of decentralization, but still more are the Bishops and clergy of various denominations, legal authorities, and the like. Some writers who have recently attacked a proposal which has been made to abolish in Ireland what is known as 'Dublin Castle' are unaware, apparently, of the fact that not only officials of the highest experience, and many statesmen on both sides who know Ireland well, are agreed on the necessity for the abolition, but that those who have had the most recent experience in the office of Viceroy are themselves sharers in the decentralization view which now prevails."] and on Wednesday, June 24th, I left my office.
'My successor was Arthur Balfour, and I initiated him into the business of the Local Government Board at his request, after a first interview at Sloane Street. As late as June 21st Harcourt had made up his mind that the Tories would be unable to form a Government, and that it was his painful duty to come back; and he wrote to me that he had informed Mr. Gladstone that "I would stand by him if he agreed to come back whatever might happen." Chamberlain wrote on this that it was impossible if Spencer remained. "It will be bad for us and for the settlement of the Irish question."
'Chamberlain and I were now intending to visit Ireland, but Manning declined to give us letters, and wrote on June 25th: "What am I to do? I am afraid of your Midlothian in Ireland. How can I be godfather to Hengist and Horsa?" I replied:
'"Dear Cardinal Manning,
'"I fear I have made myself far from clear. You speak of a Midlothian. I should not for a moment have dreamt of asking you for letters had not that been most carefully guarded against. We are not going to make a single speech or to attend any dinner, meeting, or reception, in any part of Ireland. Our journey is private, and our wish is to visit the Catholic Archbishops and Bishops and to find out what they want. It has sprung from your own suggestion, and from my conversation, held also at your suggestion, with Dr. Walsh. It would not conduce to any possibility of settlement and of future peace if, after proposing, at your suggestion, to go to men like the Archbishops Croke and Walsh, we should have to state that we renounce our visit because they refuse to receive us. You know what passed as to Dr. Walsh, and you know that if Mr. Gladstone had reformed his Government we had made that matter one of our conditions. Surely that was pretty clear evidence of our desire to act with you in a matter which is certainly above all party. But it is 'now or never.'"
'On the same day Chamberlain wrote proposing that we should meet Trevelyan and Lefevre at fixed and short intervals to produce concerted action, and consulting me as to whether we should include Morley. The first consultation took place at my Royal Commission office at noon on July 4th, and Morley was present as well as Trevelyan, and I think Lefevre.'
'On June 27th I had a last fight with Mr. Gladstone. The outgoing Government had given a baronetcy to Errington, personally my friend, but a baronetcy given under circumstances which I thought politically discreditable, and I protested strongly. I told Mr. Gladstone that it had long been my opinion that there is insufficient consultation of the opinion of the party, as well as of Cabinets and ex-Cabinets, on questions of the deepest moment. "For example, since I have been a member of the 'Inner Circle,' many decisions of the gravest moment as to Irish affairs have been taken without reference to the general opinion of the leaders or of the party. When Mr. Forster first induced Lord Granville to give letters to Mr. Errington, I stated my own view in favour of the appointment of an official representative of this country to the Roman Church, if there was work which must be done between the Government and that Church. I always protested against the secret arrangement, and the last straw has been the resistance to Walsh." Such was my private note.'
'Chamberlain wrote: "Mr. G. has yielded to Lord G., and has done an act unfair to us and without notice. I have seen O'Shea. I think the 'visit' may yet be all right." I wrote to Mr. Gladstone:
'"I feel bound to express my dismay at seeing this day that honours have been conferred on that excellent fellow Errington at a moment when it will be felt by the great majority of people who do not see round corners that he is rewarded for the fight made by him on behalf of the defeated policy of resistance to the selection as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin of the accomplished gentleman on whom the whole Irish Roman Catholic clergy and people had set their hearts. I have already described to Lord Granville in your presence what I thought the fatal results of this policy of interference against a unanimous Irish sentiment in the choice of the great Roman Catholic dignitaries in Ireland—a policy which has, in the belief of the thoughtful men of all parties, among whom I may name privately the new Lord Chancellor of Ireland, [Footnote: Mr. Gibson, afterwards created Lord Ashbourne.] undone the effects of your Land Acts of 1871 and 1881, and made the resistance to the Union stronger and more unanimous than it ever was before. Surely such an intention as that to specially honour Mr. Errington at such a moment might have been named to me when I so strongly expressed before you and Lord Granville my opinion of the policy. Mr. Forster, the initiator of the Errington policy, has returned to the Liberal front bench, and sat next to me there. I fear I must take the opportunity of leaving it, as I do not see how I can fail to express the opinion I hold of the conferring of special honour at such a moment on Mr. Errington." [Footnote: A letter from Mr. Gladstone to Mr, Errington, dated June 30th, 1885, is given in the Life of Granville, vol. ii., p. 292.]
'Mr. Gladstone replied:
'"1, Richmond Terrace,
'"June 27th, 1885.
'"My Dear Dilke,
'"I feel that the coincidence of the Walsh appointment with the Errington baronetcy is unfortunate, but I think that the grant of the baronetcy or of something in that sense is unavoidable. I regard Gibson's confidential disclosure to you as an absurd exaggeration indulged in for party purposes. The policy, and any ingratitude to an agent of it, are wholly different matters; and your disapproval of the first never conveyed to my mind the idea of speaking to you about the second. You are aware of the immense stress laid by Spencer on the Errington mission, which Granville more traditionally (as I think) supported. For my part, I never did more than acquiesce in it, and I think it highly probable that no such thing will be renewed. As to 'diplomatic relations' with the Pope, I am entirely opposed to them.
'"W. E. Gladstone."
'I was not opposed to diplomatic relations with the Pope, but to the extraordinary anomalies involved in the Mission that was no Mission. My conversation with Gibson had been at a party at Lady Ridley's, where I congratulated him upon his high office. He began with a laugh: "I am popular with all parties. Whose congratulations do you think were the first that I received?" A happy inspiration struck me, and I at once answered "Walsh"—a lucky guess which completely puzzled him, for he said, "Who told you?"
'Chamberlain wrote the next day: "Reflection confirms me in the opinion that Mr. Gladstone has not treated us well. I cannot resist the conclusion that on both occasions he concealed his intentions, knowing that we disapproved of them, and in order to force our hands. I would cordially join in a protest against this, although, as I have already told you, I do not think the last proceeding—in the matter of Errington—will justify a formal secession. People generally, especially in the country, cannot understand the importance of the matter, and would not back up our quarrel."
'Chamberlain, writing on June 27th or 28th, [Footnote: It was on June 17th that Mr. Chamberlain had delivered his famous denunciation of Dublin Castle, and had declared that "the pacification of Ireland depends, I believe, on the concession to Ireland of the right to govern itself in the matter of its purely domestic government." He went on to speak of an Irishman being at every step controlled by "an English official, appointed by a foreign Government."] said: "On the greatest issue between us and the Whigs Mr. G. is on our side, and has told Harcourt that if he stands at the General Election he will make this a prominent feature in his platform, and will adopt in principle our scheme—Local Government and devolution. This will immensely strengthen our position if we finally decide to press the matter. I say 'if' because I wait to have more positive assurances as to Parnell's present attitude. If he throws us over, I do not believe that we can go farther at present, but O'Shea remains confident that matters will come right."'
On June 29th, Sir Charles replied to Mr. Gladstone:
'My Dear Sir,
'Harcourt, Chamberlain, and Lefevre, have all lectured me, and the former tells me that you have accepted a proposal to stand again for Midlothian. This is so great a thing that smaller ones must not be allowed to make even small discords, so please put my letter of Saturday in the fire, and forgive me for having put you to the trouble of reading and replying to it. I fancy that overwork and long-continued loss of all holidays except Sundays have told upon me, and that I must be inclined to take too serious a view of things.
'Charles W. Dilke.'
'On June 30th Chamberlain wrote: "Ireland. I heard some days ago from the Duchess of St. Albans, and replied that we would certainly call if anywhere in her neighbourhood" (near Clonmel). "Next time I see you we may make some progress with our plans. I have a most satisfactory letter from Davitt—voluntary on his part, and assuring us that United Ireland [Footnote: United Ireland, then edited by Mr. William O'Brien and Mr. T. M. Healy, discouraged the visit.] does not represent the views of the Nationalist party. See also an article in the Nation, and Davitt's own speech at Hyde Park. [Footnote: Davitt's leanings were always much stronger towards English Radicalism than those of most among his colleagues. But the decisive attitude was that of Mr. Parnell, whose power was then paramount, not only in Cork, but throughout all Ireland. He discussed the project with one of his colleagues, Mr. John O'Connor, to whom he expressed the view that Mr. Chamberlain was aspiring to replace Mr. Gladstone in the leadership, and that he would do nothing which could assist him in this purpose, because he thought that he "could squeeze more out of Gladstone than he could out of Chamberlain."] I shall reply rather effusively. I cannot altogether acquit Parnell of duplicity. I think he fears our visit, and that we may cut him out. I am sure that neither he nor anyone else will succeed in boycotting us. Parnell does not admit this feeling, but I am losing confidence in his honesty. We can go to Ashley's and decline Cork."' [Footnote: Mr. Evelyn Ashley, who had been Under- Secretary of the Colonies in the Gladstone Government, had a house and property at Classiebawn in Sligo, which had once belonged to Lord Palmerston.]
'I hear very encouraging accounts of the feeling in the country. I am assured that we (the Radicals) never held so strong a position— that the counties will be swept for the Liberals, and that the whole atmosphere of the House of Commons will be changed after November. I firmly believe that this is true. A little patience, and we shall secure all we have fought for.'
'On June 30th I wrote fully to Mrs. Pattison, who was ill of typhoid in the Madras hills, but without my yet knowing it. "I've been thinking over grave words I would say to you about politics." I went on to say that politics were not to me amusement. "I could not have heart to live such a life at all if the religion of life did not surround my politics. I chat the chatter about persons and ambitions that others chat, and, in my perpetual brain fatigue, shirk the trouble of trying to put into words thoughts which I fancy you must exactly share. How can you share them if you are never shown they're there? Dear Lady, please to try and feel, however unable I am to express it, that my life is now one, and that there are not things to pick among, and things to be cast aside, but duties only, which are pleasures in the doing of them well, and which you must help me do. It is in old age that power comes. An old man in English politics may exert enormous power without effort, and with no drain at all upon his health and vital force. The work of thirty or forty years of political life goes in England to the building-up of political reputation and position. During that long period no power is exercised except by irregular means, such as the use of threats of resignation. It is in old age only that power comes that can be used legitimately and peacefully by the once-strong man. I'm still young enough, and have of illusions yearly crops sufficient to believe that it can be used for good, and that it is a plain duty so to use it, and I would not remain in political life did I not think so."'
OUT OF OFFICE
After Lord Salisbury had formed, in June, 1885, what was called the 'stop-gap Government,' charged with carrying on business till the General Election fixed for the following winter, the heads of the Liberal party began to mature their plans. It soon became evident that the cardinal fact to be decided was whether Mr. Gladstone should continue to lead. This, again, was found to depend upon the policy adopted in relation to Ireland.
The Irish Question was at the moment in an extraordinary position. Lord Salisbury had appointed Lord Carnarvon, a known sympathizer with Home Rule, as Viceroy. Further, the Tory leaders in the House of Commons were refusing to take any responsibility for the actions of Lord Spencer, which were challenged especially in regard to the verdict upon one of the men sentenced for the Maamtrasna murders. This put Sir Charles and Mr. Chamberlain, who had always disapproved the policy of coercion, in a very difficult position, the more difficult because Mr. Trevelyan, a member of their inner Radical group, was jointly concerned with Lord Spencer to defend these actions.
'On July 4th I received from Maynooth a letter of thanks from Dr. Walsh for my congratulations on his appointment to the Archbishopric of Dublin, and he expressed the hope that we should meet in Dublin when I came over with Chamberlain. On the same day, Saturday, July 4th, there took place at noon at my office a meeting of Chamberlain, Trevelyan, Lefevre, John Morley, and myself, in which we discussed the proposed mission of Wolff to Egypt, resolving that we would oppose it unless the Conservative Government should drop it. We were wrong, for it afterwards turned out that they meant evacuation. Next the proposed movement on Dongola, which we did not believe to be seriously intended; then the proposal to increase the wine duty, which I was able to announce (on Foreign Office information) that I knew that Lord Salisbury would drop; then the succession duties, with regard to which we decided to support a motion to be brought forward by Dillwyn; then police enfranchisement, we deciding that I was to move an instruction on going into Committee to extend the Bill, so as to shorten the period of residence for all electors.'
'Before we separated we discussed the inquiry proposed by the Irish members into the Maamtrasna business. Trevelyan thought that he was obliged in honour to speak against inquiry, but we decided that he must not press for a division in resistance to the Irish demand.'
'On Monday, July 6th, I presided over my Royal Commission in the morning, and in the evening dined at Grillion's Club. In the afternoon Mr. Gladstone sent for me, and told me that whether he would lead that party or would not, at the dissolution, or in the new Parliament, would depend on whether the main plank in the programme was what I called Home Rule or what Chamberlain called the National Council scheme, or only the ordinary scheme of Local Government for all parts of the United Kingdom. If the latter alone was to be contemplated, he said that others would suffice for the task. Parnell's acquiescence in the Home Rule scheme he thought essential. If Parnell, having got more from the Tories, was going to oppose, he, Mr. Gladstone, could not go on: and he evidently thought that I should have the means of discovering what would be Parnell's attitude. Parnell had, of course, been for what I believe was really his own scheme, suggested to Chamberlain by O'Shea. But he was now in league with R. Churchill and Lord Carnarvon. I advised Mr. Gladstone to deal directly with Parnell, but he said that he would not, and I noted in my diary that he and Parnell were equally tortuous in their methods. Mr. Gladstone, failing me, as he said, would deal with Grosvenor and Mrs. O'Shea. But it was clear to me that he had already tried this channel.'
'On the next day I received interesting letters from Dr. Walsh and Sir Frederick Roberts. The latter completely destroyed the foolish War Office plan of preparing for a campaign in the Black Sea, and once more laid down the principle that England must go to war with Russia rather than permit her to occupy any portion of Afghanistan in face of our interest and of our pledge to the contrary.
'Dr. Walsh wrote that in going to Rome he was by no means determined to accept the archbishopric. "I am not Archbishop; acceptance is an essential point, and I have a view of certain matters to set before His Holiness before that stage is reached. I have sent on to Rome a written statement of my views, that the matter may be considered before I arrive there. I am thoroughly convinced that there is another position in which I could be far more useful both for Church and country. The Archbishopric of Dublin, now that it can be dealt with as a purely ecclesiastical matter, can be very easily provided for."
'I suppose that Dr. Walsh wished to be Papal Legate. He went on to say:
'"As to the Bishops you should see, I would say, in the South, as you begin there, Cashel and Limerick (Cloyne, unfortunately, is very deaf; otherwise I should like you to meet him). In the West, Galway, Elphin, Achonry. In the North, Raphoe (of whom Mr. Childers can tell you something), Clogher, Ardagh, Meath, and Down and Connor. In this province of Dublin our Bishops are either very old or very young in the episcopacy: they could not give you much information. All I have mentioned are generally on the popular side. Of those on the less popular or nonpopular side, we have Cork, Kerry, and Coadjutor of Clonfert. Clonfert himself is on the most advanced National lines. But his views are rather general. It might be well to see him. He is a great admirer of Davitt's.
'"I remain, my dear Sir Charles, '"Sincerely yours, '"William J. Walsh."
'I sent this letter to Chamberlain, who replied that it was very satisfactory.
'On Saturday, July 11th, we had another meeting of our "party," I again being in the chair, Chamberlain, Lefevre, and John Morley, being present, and Trevelyan absent. We decided that Chamberlain, Lefevre, and Dilke should see Mr. Gladstone as to the Maamtrasna inquiry, in which we were strongly opposed to Spencer. With regard to the organization of the Liberal party, which meant the adoption of Schnadhorst by the party, Chamberlain, Lefevre, and Dilke, were also to see Mr. Gladstone.
'On Saturday evening I went down to Dockett, where I stayed till Monday, Cyril Flower spending with me the day of Sunday, July 12th. On Monday, July 13th, I again presided at my Royal Commission, and again dined at Grillion's.
'On the same day Chamberlain, Lefevre, and I, saw Mr. Gladstone. After talking over Maamtrasna, I repeated a statement which O'Shea had made to me, namely, that Fottrell [Footnote: Sir Charles, during his visit to Dublin, had been much impressed by Mr. Fottrell, who had acted as intermediary between the Castle and the Nationalists (see p. 140). He wrote to Mrs. Pattison that Mr. Fottrell and Sir Robert Hamilton were the only two men who counted in that city.] had had a two-hours interview with Randolph Churchill on Home Rule. I also informed Mr. Gladstone that O'Shea had shown me a letter from Alfred Austin,' (afterwards Poet Laureate) 'a hot Tory leader-writer on the Standard, asking to be introduced to Parnell for the benefit of the country. Lefevre having gone away, Chamberlain and I talked with Mr. Gladstone as to organization. It was decided that we should have an interview with him on the subject (Grosvenor to be present) the next day.
'I was going out a good deal this week, and on the Wednesday was at parties at Lady Salisbury's, at the Austrian Embassy, and at the Duchess of Westminster's, and at one of them met Harcourt and arranged for a meeting on Thursday, July 16th, at my Commission office in Parliament Street, with Chamberlain and Harcourt, to discuss Schnadhorst; Harcourt favouring our view that he should be adopted by the party, which was done, and the National Liberal Federation installed at Parliament Street. But the Whips "captured" it! On Friday, July 17th, Chamberlain and his son dined with me to meet Harcourt and Gray of the Irish party and Freeman's Journal.
'On Saturday, July 18th, we had our usual cabal, Trevelyan being again absent, and the same four present as on the previous Saturday. We discussed the proposed Royal Commission on the depression of trade; land purchase, Ireland; party organization; and the land question.
'On July 22nd I heard from Mr. Gladstone:
'"1, Richmond Terrace,
'"July 21st, 1885.
'"My Dear Dilke,
'"I cannot forbear writing to express the hope that you and Chamberlain may be able to say or do something to remove the appearance now presented to the world of a disposition on your parts to sever yourselves from the executive, and especially from the judicial administration of Ireland as it was carried on by Spencer under the late Government. You may question my title to attempt interference with your free action by the expression of such a hope, and I am not careful to assure you in this matter or certain that I can make good such a title in argument. But we have been for five years in the same boat, on most troubled waters, without having during the worst three years of the five a single man of the company thrown overboard. I have never in my life known the bonds of union so strained by the pure stress of circumstances; a good intent on all sides has enabled them to hold. Is there any reason why at this moment they should part? A rupture may come on questions of future policy; I am not sure that it will. But if it is to arrive, let it come in the course of nature as events develop themselves. At the present moment there appears to be set up an idea of difference about matters which lie in the past, and for which we are all plenarily responsible. The position is settled in all its elements, and cannot be altered. The frightful discredit with which the new Government has covered itself by its treatment of Spencer has drawn attention away from the signs of at least passive discord among us, signs which might otherwise have drawn upon us pretty sharp criticism. It appears to me that hesitation on the part of any of us as to our own responsibility for Spencer's acts can only be mischievous to the party and the late Cabinet, but will and must be far more mischievous to any who may betray such disinclination. Even with the Irish party it can, I imagine, do nothing to atone for past offences, inasmuch as it is but a negative proceeding; while from Randolph, Hicks Beach, and Gorst, positive support is to be had in what I cannot but consider a foolish as well as guilty crusade against the administration of criminal justice in Ireland; which may possibly be defective, but, with all its defects, whatever they may be, is, I apprehend, the only defence of the life and property of the poor. It will be the legislation of the future, and not this most unjust attack upon Spencer, which will have to determine hereafter your relations with Ireland, and the 'National' party. I may be wrong, but it seems to me easy, and in some ways advantageous, to say: 'My mind is open to consider at large any proposals acceptable to Ireland for the development and security of her liberties, but I will not sap the foundations of order and of public right by unsettling rules, common to all parties, under which criminal justice has been continuously administered, and dragging for the first time the prerogative of mercy within the vortex of party conflict.' I dare say I may have said too much in the way of argument on a matter which seems to me hardly to call for argument, but a naked suggestion would have appeared even less considerate than the letter which I have written, prompted by strong feeling and clear conviction.
'"Yours sincerely, '"W. E. Gladstone."
'I sent the letter to Chamberlain, asking whether he thought he could say at Hackney, where he was about to speak, anything flattering to Spencer, and he replied: "I am not certain that I shall say anything about Spencer; at most it would be only a personal tribute."'
With these words ends the story of Sir Charles Dilke's official relations with his party.
* * * * *
Looking back on that story, Sir George Trevelyan writes: 'I never knew a man of his age—hardly ever a man of any age—more powerful and admired than was Dilke during his management of the Redistribution Bill in 1885.' This influence had been built up by the long years of sustained work, of which the story has been told in his own words.
He combined two unusual characteristics: he was one of the Radical leaders at home, and he also carried extraordinary authority on the subject of foreign affairs both here and on the Continent.
The depth of his convictions as a Radical is attested by a note to Mr. Frank Hill, [Footnote: Undated, but evidently written about this time.] editor of the Daily News: 'As a man I feel going out on this occasion very much indeed, but Chamberlain and I are trustees for others, and from the point of view of English Radicalism I have no doubt.' Yet Radicalism never fettered his capacity for working with all men for the great questions which are beyond party, and uniting their efforts on big issues of foreign policy.
It was this gift which frequently made him more the spokesman of the House of Commons than of party in Government counsels. The approval of the House of Commons was, in his opinion, essential to the development of foreign policy, and his views as to the undesirability of unnecessary concealment were strong. While recognizing that everything could not be disclosed, he thought that the House of Commons should be in the Government's confidence as far as possible in diplomatic relations, and he looked on the tendency to surround all official proceedings with secrecy as more worthy of a bureaucrat than a statesman. Bismarck, Dilke said in 1876, was the diplomatist of foreign Europe who was never believed because he told the truth. He had no sympathy with the isolation of Great Britain, which had been a feature of our policy during his early career. But when Lord Beaconsfield would have plunged into a war with Russia in 1878, without an ally or a friend, he opposed that policy as suicidal. Of that policy he said at that time: 'English Radicals of the present day do not bound their sympathies by the Channel ... a Europe without England is as incomplete, and as badly balanced, and as heavily weighted against freedom, as that which I, two years ago, denounced to you—a Europe without France. The time may come when England will have to fight for her existence, but for Heaven's sake let us not commit the folly of plunging into war at a moment when all Europe would be hostile to our armies—not one Power allied to the English cause.' [Footnote: Vol. I., Chapter XVI., p. 239.] The keynote of his policy was friendship with France. His experience in the Franco-German War had for ever changed the friendly impression which led him first to follow the German forces into the field.
Germany at war and Germany in a conquered country taught him in 1870-71 a lesson never to be forgotten, and affected his whole attitude to that Great Power. It has been seen how in the eighties he opposed, to the point of contemplated resignation of office, the Governmental tendency to accept German aggression—'to lie down' under it, as he said; and he fought for the retention of the New Guinea Coast and Zanzibar in 1884-85, as later he fought against Lord Salisbury as to the surrender of Heligoland. [Footnote: Present Position of European Politics, p. 242.]
It was this courage as well as consistency of policy that bound Gambetta to him, and made Bismarck wish that he should be sent to Berlin at a critical moment in 1885 'to have a talk.' [Footnote: Life of Lord Granville, vol. ii., p. 439.] Strong men recognize one another.
JULY, 1885, TO JULY, 1886
[Greek: ou thruon, ou malachaen avemos pote, tus de megistas ae druas ae platanous oide chamai katagein.]
[Footnote: It is not the rush or mallow that the wind can lay low, but the largest oaks and plane-trees.]
Lucian in "Anthologia."
When Mr. Gladstone's Ministry left office in the summer of 1885, there seemed to be in all England no man for whom the future held out more assured and brilliant promise than Sir Charles Dilke. He was still young, not having completed his forty-second year; in the Cabinet only Lord Rosebery was his junior; he had seventeen years of unremitting Parliamentary service to his credit, and in the House of Commons his prestige was extraordinary. His own judgment and that of all skilled observers regarded his party's abandonment of office as temporary: the General Election would inevitably bring them back with a new lease of power, and with an Administration reorganized in such fashion that the Radicals would no longer find themselves overbalanced in the shaping of policy. The Dilke-Chamberlain alliance, which had during the past five years been increasingly influential, would in the next Parliament become openly authoritative; and, as matters looked at the moment, it was Sir Charles, and not Mr. Chamberlain, who seemed likely to take the foremost place.
Chamberlain's dazzling popular success had been of the kind to which a certain unpopularity attaches. Moderate men of both parties were prone to impute it to demagogism, and Dilke was in the fortunate position of seeing those Radical principles for which he stood advocated by his ally with a force of combined invective and argument which has had few parallels in political history, while to him fell the task, suited to his temperament, of reasoned discussion. Those who denounced Chamberlain's vehemence could hardly fail to point a comparison with Dilke's unfailing courtesy, his steady adherence to argument, his avoidance of the appeal to passion. Some strong natures have the quality of making enemies, some the gift for making friends, outside their own immediate circle, and Sir Charles Dilke possessed the more genial endowment.
This capacity for engendering good-will in those whom he encountered certainly did not spring from any undue respect of persons. Members of the Royal Family, whose privileges he had assailed, were constant in their friendliness; high Tories such as Lord Salisbury, whose principles he combated on every platform, liked him, and were not slow to show it. On the other hand, the friendship which Sir Charles inspired did not proceed, as is sometimes the case, from a mere casual bounty of nature. In Parliament his colleagues liked him, but this, assuredly, was not without cause. No member of the Ministry had given so much service outside his own department. Lord Granville wrote at this time: 'I have not seen you alone since the smash, or I should have told you how much I feel the support you have given me both when we were together at the F.O. and quite as much since. I shall not soon forget it.' Sir William Harcourt at the Home Office, Sir Henry James in the conduct of the Corrupt Practices Bill, had been beholden to him for no ordinary assistance. Moreover, as he was good to work with, so he was good to work under. Those who served him at the Local Government Board remember him as in no way prompt to praise; but if a suggestion was made to him, he never failed to identify it with the suggester, recognizing its source in adopting it. If he made a mistake and was set right, he admitted his error—a trait very rare in Ministers, who feel that they have constantly as amateurs to direct the decision of experts, and are therefore chary of such admissions. Sir Charles always gave his men their due, and he took care that they should not be treated as machines. When colleagues called on him at his office, and found him with one of his staff, he never allowed the subordinate to be ignored in greetings. The Minister in a hurry would be stopped with, 'I think you know So-and-so.' These are small matters to set down, but by such small things men indicate their nature; and one of the oldest servants in that office summed up the matter in a sentence which is not the less interesting because it brings in another name. 'When Sir Charles Dilke was at the Local Government Board,' he said, 'the feeling towards the President, from the heads of departments down to the messengers in the hall, was the same as it was in the time of Mr. Walter Long, and I can say no more than that.'