'In November, 1893, in the debates on the Local Government Bill, I carried a good deal of weight, and was able greatly to improve the measure. I also in December made a speech in a naval debate which was as successful as my Zulu speech—with as little reason, except its opportuneness.'
In the Home Rule portion of the session of 1893, Sir Charles was mostly silent, being, in his own words, inclined to 'keep still' on the main issue. His only contributions to the long debates were made during the Committee stage, and concerned the electoral arrangements—a matter upon which Mr. Gladstone was quick to acknowledge his high competence. When at last, in 1894, the Bill reached the Lords, it was rejected; and then the foreseen change of leadership came to pass, and Lord Rosebery was 'popped into Mr. Gladstone's place by an intrigue.' Sir Charles discussed in the North American Review the result, which his Memoir describes thus. Admitting that the choice, which 'came as a surprise to the Liberal party in the country,' would strengthen the Government in Scotland and in London by Lord Rosebery's personal prestige, he none the less foresaw that the new leader would come into conflict 'with all that is active in the Liberal party,' unless he could renounce 'his personal wishes in favour of a reformed but a strong and indeed strengthened Second Chamber.' His chance of success lay in putting himself as a peer at the head of a movement against the veto of the House of Lords. 'The chance is before him, but he is a cautious Scotchman who seldom makes up his mind too soon, and who may possibly make it up too late.'
Meanwhile 'I was pressed to join Labouchere and Storey in opposing him, which I declined to do, on the ground that I was concerned with the measures proposed, but not with the men.'
Speaking in the Potteries on November 22nd, 'to a big audience which took it well,' he 'attacked Rosebery about the Lords.'
'He would like to see Lord Rosebery in the popular House in which he had never sat, and he would like to see Lord Salisbury back again. Their ideas would undergo a change. The reform of the Upper House was now not a Liberal but a Conservative nostrum.... It would be necessary for the Radicals to fight even against their Liberal leaders to prevent lengthening the life of the Parliamentary sick man.... The Liberal party was still hampered by men who wanted peerages for themselves and their sons, and he should not believe that the leaders were in earnest until the Liberal party gave over making peers. Moderate men must be warned by the example of what had recently happened in Belgium, where the moderate Liberals had been promptly suffocated between the two opposing forces of Toryism and Socialism, as they were too pretentious to submit to Tory discipline and too slavish to become frankly democratic.'
INDIA AND FRANCE—RHODES AND BISMARCK
In the period covered by the earlier portion of the previous chapter, Sir Charles Dilke had used his freedom as an opportunity for travel.
'During a visit to Paris, in the winter of 1886, paid in order to discuss the question of the work which ultimately appeared in France as L'Europe en 1887, I saw a good deal of Castelar, who was visiting Paris at the same time; and it was to us that he made a speech, which has become famous, about Boulanger, who was beginning to attract great notice, declaring in French, "I know that General Boulanger—he is a Spanish General;" meaning that the Spanish habit of the military insurrection under the leadership of a showy General was extending to France. [Footnote: In 1889 Sir Charles notes: 'My wife and I were asked to dinner to meet General Boulanger; and I decided that I would not go, neither did she.']
'Chamberlain, during his journey abroad, had seen a good deal of Sir William White, the Ambassador at Constantinople, who wrote to me about him: "We became friends, and spoke naturally of you, our mutual friend. I could not help seeing Chamberlain's immense quickness of observation and talents. In foreign politics he appeared to me to be beginning his ABC, but disposed to learn...." The Ambassador went on to say that the intimacy between France and Russia was coming to the front at Constantinople, and that Bismarck's Ambassador did not seem to take umbrage at it.
'In September, 1887, we went to France, where our journey had nothing of great interest, except a visit to Vaux-le-Vicomte, Fouquet's house, [Footnote: Near Melun, in the Seine-et-Marne, where Fouquet gave the celebrated fete referred to. See Memoires de Fouquet, by A. Cheruel, vol. ii., chap. xxxv.] which remains very much as Fouquet left it, although the gardens in which he received Louis XIV. in the great fete recounted by Dumas have been completed by their present proprietor, with whom we stayed. We afterwards visited Constantinople, and stayed for ten days at Therapia, and then at Athens, where I had a great reception, as indeed throughout Greece, on account of my previous services to the Greek cause; in some cases payment was refused on this ground. [Footnote: A letter from Lady Dilke of October 29th, 1887, written to Cardinal Manning, a constant correspondent, deals with one of these episodes:
"We were received at the Piraeus by an order not to open our boxes, an ignorant underling being severely rebuked, and bid to 'look at the name on the boxes. Would you ask money from one who has done so much for Greece?' In short, we had a royal reception. The Prime Minister, the Metropolitan, and the other Ministers and their families, and all dignitaries, ecclesiastical, academical, political, military, all vied in showing Charles honour. The crowd watched outside for a glimpse of him, and M. Ralli, when I said how touched he was at their faithful gratitude, said: 'It is not only our gratitude we wish to show him. You have no idea of the intense sympathy felt for him in Athens.' We had but three days to give, and so missed the great public banquet and the torchlight procession which the students wished to organize. At Corinth the King and Queen were equally kind."]
'Our journey to Turkey and Greece was full of interest. The Sultan showed us immense courtesy. Greece after twenty-five years seemed to me as lovely as ever. The Eastern Church were very civil to us, and the reception at the Phanar at Constantinople by the Oecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Constantinople, Dionysius V., in Synod was striking. I wrote from Constantinople to Chesson: "The Bulgarians and the Greeks are both now on excellent terms with the Turks, although, unfortunately, they still detest one another. The Sultan does not care two straws about Bulgaria now, and will do nothing in the matter except mark time. The Greek Patriarch gave us an official reception, with some Archbishops present, who represented the Churches of Asia and of the Islands, and showed us their splendid Byzantine treasures. It is extraordinarily interesting to see all the effects of St. Chrysostom; but I cannot help feeling that the Church sold the Empire to the Turks, and would have been more estimable had it lost its jewels. The last Constantine tried to reunite the Eastern and Western Churches, and the poor man was denounced as a heretic, and surrounded only by Latins when he was killed on the breach. The Church, however, went through a small martyrdom later on, and was glorified by suffering at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence, when the then Patriarch was hanged by the Turks and dragged about for three days by the Jews. They all seem on very good terms now, and the Patriarch sang the praises of the present Sultan loudly. The Sultan has been very civil. I did not want to see him, which doubtless made him the more anxious to see me. He sent for me twice, and, besides the audience at the Selamlik, had us to a state dinner given in our honour at the Haremlik. I refused the Grand Cordon of the Medjidieh, but Emilia accepted the Grand Cordon of the Chefkat for herself. He is very anxious to make a good impression, and is having the Shrine of Death done into Turk!"
'I received a letter of thanks from the Secretary of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery for having obtained for them from the Sultan a copy of the portrait of Nelson which is in the Treasury at Constantinople; but what I really tried to obtain was the original, inasmuch as no one ever sees it where it is.'
Sir Charles Dilke, writing to Mr. Chamberlain an amused account of the Sultan's advances, says: 'Lady White told Emilia that she heard I was to be Grand Vizier.'
'My riding tour along the Baluch and Afghan frontiers was,' Sir Charles notes, 'one of the pleasantest and most interesting experiences of my life.' [Footnote: He adds, 'I described so fully in the Fortnightly Review, in two articles of March 1st and April 1st, 1889, my riding tour ... that I shall say no more about it.' This account of the journey is summarized from those articles, the criticism on military questions being dealt with by Mr. Spenser Wilkinson in the chapter on Defence (LV.).] Leaving England in October, 1888, he landed with Lady Dilke at Karachi in November. They were met by the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Frederick Roberts, and went on over the broad-gauge line, then not officially open, through the Bolan Pass to Quetta. 'When we reached the picturesque portion of the pass, we left our carriages for an open truck placed at the head of the train, in front of two engines, and there we sat with the fore part of the truck occupied by the paws and head of His Excellency's dog; next came the one lady of the party and Sir Frederick Roberts, and then myself and all the staff. The long- haired warriors and tribesmen, who occupied every point of vantage on the crags, doubtless thought, and have since told their tribesmen on their return, that the whole scene was devised to do honour to a dog.'
They were travelling over part of 'the great strategic railroad constructed after the Penjdeh incident, on orders given by the Government of which I was a member.'
At Quetta he was among the guests of Sir Robert Sandeman, Agent for British Baluchistan, ruler in all but name of those nominally independent frontier principalities and clans. 'Quetta conversations soon brought back reminiscences of far-off days. When I had last seen Sir Robert Sandeman it had been in London, during the discussion of the occupation of the Khojak position, in which I sided with him.... We brought with us or found gathered here all the men who best understood the problem of frontier defence—a very grave problem, too.'
The party assembled under the roof of the Residency included the Commander-in-Chief, of whom Sir Charles says: 'Sir Frederick Roberts knows India as no one else knows it, and knows the Indian Army as no one else has ever known it'; the Adjutant-General; the Quartermaster- General, who was Director of Military Intelligence; the Military Member of Council, General Chesney; and Sir Charles Elliott, the Member of Council for Public Works, who had charge of the strategic railways. With them were the Inspectors-General of Artillery and of Military Works, the Secretary of the Defence Commission, and the General in Command at Quetta, as well as his predecessor, who had not yet vacated the post.
He saw manoeuvres outside Quetta in the valleys that lead from the Afghan side, and he had the experience of riding up and down those stony hill slopes beside the Commander-in-Chief. He explored the Khojak tunnel, then under process of construction, running through 'a wall-like range which reminds one of the solitude of Sainte-Baume in Provence,' surveyed all the defences of Quetta, and then, while Lady Dilke went on by rail to Simla, he set out to ride, in company with Sir Frederick Roberts and Sir Robert Sandeman, from Harnai, through the Bori and Zhob Valleys, towards the Gomul Pass. On that journey he saw great gatherings of chiefs and tribesmen come in to meet and salute the representatives of British rule. He watched Sir Robert Sandeman parleying with the borderers, and was introduced to them as the statesman who had sanctioned the new road. These were regions beyond the reach of telegraph, where outposts maintained communications by a pigeon post, of which the mountain hawk took heavy toll; and each day's journey was a hard and heavy ride.
The ride continued for twelve days, through scorching sun by day and bitter cold at night; and every march brought its full portion of strange and beautiful sights. All the romance of border rule, outposts among robber tribes, order maintained through the agency of subsidized chiefs, were disclosed; and even when the conditions of travel changed, when a train took them from the Upper Indus to Nowshera and Peshawur, it brought to Sir Charles the opportunity of seeing what interested him no less than the wild tribal levies—namely, the pick of British regulars in India, both native and European.
The splendour and beauty of the pageant pleased the eye, and there was not lacking a dramatic interest. He had seen by Sir Frederick Roberts's side the mountain battle-ground where the day of Maiwand was avenged and British prestige restored; now he was present when Ayub Khan, the victor of Maiwand, voluntarily came forward to hold speech for the first time with the conqueror who so swiftly blotted out the Afghan's victory.
'On our way back (from India) we stayed at Cairo, and saw much of Sir Evelyn Baring, Riaz, Mustapha Fehmy, the Khedive, Tigrane, Yakoub Artin, and the other leading men. At Rome, as we passed through Italy, I made the acquaintance of many of my wife's friends, the most interesting of whom was, perhaps, Madame Minghetti, known to her friends as Donna Laura, and previously Princess Camporeale; and I obtained through Bonghi, whom we saw both at Naples and at Rome, an order to see Spezia—an order which was refused by the War Office, and granted by the Admiralty. The Admiral commanding the Fleet and the Prefet Maritime were both very kind, and I thoroughly saw the arsenal, fleet, and forts, with the two Admirals.'
In 1905 Sir Charles writes:
'On September 7th in the year 1891 I started for the French manoeuvres, to which I had been invited by Galliffet. By sending over my horses I was able to see the manoeuvres extremely well....
'The Marquis de Galliffet was an interesting figure, a soldier of the time of Louis XV., who, however, had thoroughly learned his modern work. There were 125,000 men in the field, but, looking back to my adventures, I am now more struck by the strange future of the friends I made than by the interest, great as it was, of the tactics. We had on the staff almost all those who afterwards became leading men in the Dreyfus case, on both sides of that affair. Saussier, the Generalissimo, had with him, to look after the foreign officers, Colonel (afterwards Sir) Reginald Talbot, Huehne' (German Military Attache), 'and others—Maurice Weil (the Jew friend of Esterhazy), who was in the Rennes trial named by the defence as the real spy, though, I am convinced, innocent. We now know, of course, that Esterhazy should have been the villain of the play.... General Billot, afterwards Minister of War, was present, living with Saussier, as a spectator. Galliffet had under him nearly 120,000 men, but the skeleton enemy was commanded by General Boisdeffre, afterwards Chief of the Staff, and the leader of the clerical party in the Ministry of War, and friend, throughout the "affair," of Billot. General Brault, also afterwards Chief of the Staff, was in the manoeuvres Chief of the Staff to Galliffet. He, it will be remembered, also played his part in the "affair," as did Huehne, named above. On Galliffet's staff, besides General Brault, were Colonel Bailloud, also concerned in the Dreyfus case; Captain Picquart, afterwards the youngest Lieutenant-Colonel in the French army, a brilliant and most thoughtful military scholar, the hero of the Dreyfus case in its later aspects; the Comte d'Alsace, afterwards a deputy, and, although a clerical Conservative, a witness for Dreyfus; and Joseph Reinach, the real author of the virtual rehabilitation of Dreyfus. It was a singularly brilliant staff. Bailloud, it may be remembered, afterwards became Commander-in-Chief of the China Expedition.
'Of those who have not been named, in addition to the remarkable men who figured in the Dreyfus case, and among the few on this staff who were not concerned in it, were other interesting persons: the Prince d'Henin, M. de la Guiche, and a man who was interesting, and figures largely in memoirs, Galliffet's bosom friend, the Marquis du Lau d'Allemans. "Old Du Lau," as he is generally called, was a rich bon vivant, with a big house in Paris, who throughout life has been a sort of perpetual "providence" to Galliffet, going with him everywhere, even to the Courts where Galliffet was a favourite guest. Reinach and Du Lau were not soldiers in the strict sense of the term, although members of Galliffet's staff. Maurice Weil, though a great military writer, was himself not a soldier, although on Saussier's headquarters staff in Paris and in the field. Weil and Reinach were both officers of the territorial army: Weil a Colonel of artillery, Reinach a Lieutenant of Chasseurs a Cheval. Du Lau was a dragoon Lieutenant of stupendous age—possibly an ex-Lieutenant, with the right to wear his uniform when out as a volunteer on service. I was walking with him one day in a village, when a small boy passing said to a companion "What a jolly old chap for a Lieutenant!" And it was strange indeed to see the long white hair of the old Marquis streaming from beneath his helmet. He was older, I think, than Galliffet, who was retiring, and who received during these manoeuvres the plain military medal, which is the joy of French hall-porters, but the highest distinction which can be conferred by the Republic on a General who is a member of the Supreme Council of War and at the top of the tree in the Legion of Honour. Joseph Reinach was, of course, young enough to be the son of old Du Lau, but since leaving the regular regiment of Chasseurs—in which he had done his service at Nancy, while Gyp (his future enemy and that of his race) was the reigning Nancy beauty—he had expanded in figure so that his sky-blue-and-silver and fine horse did not save him from comments by the children who had noted Du Lau's age. The Duc d'Aumale was also present on horseback as a spectator, but his official friends, and their friends, were forced to ignore him, as he had not yet made his peace with the Republic.
'As soon as I had joined Galliffet, I wrote to my wife: "Conduct of troops most orderly. It is now, of course, here, as it was already in 1870 with the Germans, that, the soldier being Guy Boys [Footnote: Guy Boys was Lady Dilke's nephew; Jim Haslett the ferryman at Dockett. Sir Charles was illustrating the fact that all classes serve together both in the ranks and as officers.] and Jim Haslett and all of us, and not a class apart, there is no 'military tone.' Discipline, nevertheless, seems perfect, but are the officers as good as the non-commissioned officers and the men? I doubt. Promotion from the ranks combined with special promotion to the highest ranks for birth of all nobles who have any brains at all is a combination which gives results inferior to either the Swiss democratic plan or the Prussian aristocratic. Perhaps a fifth of the officers are noble, but more than half the powerful officers are noble; and here we are with the sides commanded by the Prince d'Eckmuehl and the Prince de Sartigues." (During the first days of the manoeuvres the four army corps and the two cavalry divisions were combined under Galliffet; half the army was commanded by General Davoust, who, of course, is the first of these two Princes; and Galliffet had for "second title" the name of his Provencal principality near Marseilles.) "You may say, 'The Generalissimo, sausage-maker, restores the balance.' But the real Generalissimo is Miribel, Aristo of the Aristos—for he is a poor noble of the South. Another of the army corps is commanded by a Breton, Kerhuel, and the other by a man of army descent for ever and ever, Negrier, son and nephew of Napoleonic Generals."'
'An amusing billet adventure was named in another letter to my wife:
'"I am in a Legitimist chateau: one side of the room, Callots; the other, Comte de Chambord. Over the bed a large crucifix. The room belongs to 'Mathilde.' But as I live with the staff I do not see the family. The butler is charming, and the fat coachman turned out two of his horses to make room for 'Madame' and 'W'f'd'r.' I had to write a letter to a French newspaper, which had charged me with turning my back on the standard of a regiment instead of bowing to it, and dated from this place: 'Chateau de Boussencourt.'"'
His observations were summed up in an article for the Fortnightly, which was later translated into French by an officer on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, and, after appearing in a review, was published separately by the military library. His strictures on the handling of the cavalry led to a controversy in France into which he was obliged later to enter.
'As I passed through Paris on my return, Galliffet wrote: "You are as a writer full of kindness, but very dangerous as an observer, and next time I shall certainly put you on the treatment of the military attaches—plenty of dinners, plenty of close carriages, plenty of gendarmes, no information, and a total privation of field-glasses. This will be a change for you, especially in the matter of dinners. Lady Dilke cannot have forgiven me for sending you back in such wretched condition."'
M. Joseph Beinach wrote in 1911:
'Nous recommandions tous deux le rajeunissement des cadres. II s'est trouve enfin un ministre de la guerre, M. le general Brun, pour aborder resolument le probleme. Comme nos souvenirs revenaient frequemment aux belles journees de ces manoeuvres de l'Est! Je revois encore Dilke chevauchant avec nous dans l'etat-major de Gallififet. II y avait la le general Brault, le general Darras, le general Zurlinden, le "commandant" Picquart, Thierry d'Alsace, le marquis Du Lau.... Ah! la "bataille" de Margerie-Haucourt, sous le grand soleil qui, dissipant les nuages de la matinee, fit scintiller tout a coup comme une moisson d'acier les milliers de fusils des armees reunies! Comme c'est loin! Que de tombeaux!... Mais nous sommes bien encore quelques-uns a avoir garde intactes nos ames d'alors!' [Footnote: An article in the Figaro written after Sir Charles Dilke's death.]
It was in 1889 that Sir Charles Dilke came into touch with Cecil Rhodes during a visit paid by the latter to England.
'In July, 1889, I saw a good deal of Cecil Rhodes, who was brought to my house by Sir Charles Mills, [Footnote: Then Agent-General for the Cape and a great personal friend.] and afterwards came back several times. He was at this moment interesting, full of life and vigour, but when he returned to England after the British South Africa Company had been started he seemed to have become half torpid and at the same time dogmatic. The simplicity which had distinguished him up to the end of his visit of 1889 seemed to have disappeared when he came back in 1891; and his avowed intention of ultimately coming to England to take part in English politics seemed also a strange mistake, as he was essentially a man fitted for colonial life, and had none of the knowledge, or the mode of concealing want of knowledge, one or other of which is required for English public work.'
'In August, 1889, I received a note from Rhodes from Lisbon which constitutes, I believe, a valuable autograph, for his friends all say he "never writes." I had asked him to clear up an extraordinary passage in one of Kruger's speeches (on which I afterwards commented in Problems of Greater Britain), and Rhodes wrote:
'"The fates were unpropitious to my day on the river, as matters required me in South Africa, from which place I propose to send you the famous speech you want. I quite see the importance, if true, of his utterance, but I can hardly think Kruger would have said it. I hope you will still hold to your intention of visiting the Cape, and I can only say I will do all I can to assist you in seeing those parts with which I am connected. I am afraid Matabeleland will be in too chaotic a state to share in your visit, but between the diamonds and the gold there is a good extent to travel over. I am doubtful about your getting Kruger's speech before you publish, but it will be the first thing I will attend to on my arrival at the Cape. Kindly remember me to Lady Dilke.
'"C. J. Rhodes."
'At the beginning of November, 1889, I heard again from Rhodes, who wrote from Kimberley:
'"Dear Sir Charles Dilke,
'"I have come to the conclusion that Kruger never made use of the expression attributed to him, as I can find no trace of it in the reports of his speech on the Second Chamber. I send you a copy of the draft law....
'"Thanks for your news of Bismarck's map. Their true boundary is the 20th degree of longitude, and it will take them all their time to retain even that, as the Damaras are entirely opposed to them, and the German company which nominally holds that territory will soon have to liquidate for lack of funds. It is one thing to paint a map, and it is quite another to really occupy and govern a new territory. I am still waiting for the news of the signature of the charter, which I hope will not be much longer delayed. I think Kruger will find his hands quite full enough without interfering with me. He is still trying to get them to give him Swaziland in return for non-interference in Matabeleland. The Matabele King (Lobengula) still continues to slaughter his subjects, and makes the minds of our representatives at times very uncomfortable. It is undoubtedly a difficult problem to solve; but the plain fact remains that a savage chief with about 8,000 warriors is not going to keep out the huge wave of white men now moving north, and so I feel it will come all right.
'"Yours, '"C. J. Rhodes."
'In March, 1890, I received a letter from Rhodes from the Kimberley Club, in which, after giving some facts with regard to the state of South Africa, he went on: "I see that Home Rule is gaining ground. [Footnote: Rhodes had given Mr. Parnell a subscription of L10,000.] It really means the American Constitution. It is rather a big change, and the doubt is whether the conservative nature of the English people will face it when they understand what Home Rule means. Schnadhorst is here, but is still suffering very acutely from rheumatism."'
The reference to 'Bismarck's map' in the second of these communications shows that Sir Charles had reported to Rhodes some of the observations made by the Chancellor in the course of the visit of which an account here follows.
'In September, 1889, having settled to take my son to Germany to a gymnasium, and having told Herbert Bismarck my intention when he was in London, I was asked by him in his father's name to stay at Friedrichsruh with the Prince. I started for Germany with my son at the same moment at which my wife started for the Trades Congress at Dundee.'
He wrote to M. Joseph Reinach in August, 1889: 'I'm going to Friedrichsruh the week after next to stay with Prince Bismarck, who seems very anxious to see me—about colonial matters, I think. I will tell you what he says, for your private information, if he talks of anything else, which is not, however, likely, as he knows my views about that Alsace question which lies at the root of all others. But I had sooner my going there was not mentioned in advance, and I shall not be there until September 7th-9th.'
'Herbert Bismarck wrote: "I hope you will accept my father's invitation, because he is anxious to make your personal acquaintance. I am greatly disappointed that I shall be deprived of the pleasure of introducing you myself to my father, owing to my absence, but, then, I am sure that you will find yourself at your ease in Friedrichsruh, whether I am there or not. Hoping to see you before long in England, believe me,
'"Very truly yours, '"H. Bismarck."
'The son was still called Count von Bismarck by himself, and popularly Herbert Bismarck, but shortly afterwards his father gave him the family castle of Schoenhausen, and from that time forward he used on his cards the name of Graf Bismarck-Schoenhausen. When I got to Ratzeburg, where I left my son, I found a telegram from Friedrichsruh: "Prince Bismarck looks forward to your visit to-morrow with great pleasure"; and then it went on to tell me about trains.
'I was met at the station by Prince Bismarck's official secretary—Rottenburg of the Foreign Office—with an open carriage, although the house was formerly the railway hotel (Frascati) and adjoins the station. I wrote to my wife on Saturday, September 7th: "The great man has been very sweet to me, though he is in pain from his sinews. We had an hour's walk before lunch together. Then Hatzfeldt, the Ambassador in London, came, and all the afternoon we have been driving, and went to the harvest-home, where the Bismarck grandchildren danced with the peasants on the grass. The daughter, and mother of these children, does the honours, and is the only lady; and at dinner we shall be the Prince, Hatzfeldt, self, Countess von Rantzau, Count von Rantzau, Rottenburg the secretary, a tutor and another secretary, the two last 'dumb persons.' The forest is a Pyrford of 25,000 acres, but the house is in the situation of a Dockett, and must be damp in winter till the great January frost sets in, when the Baltic is hard frozen."'
Sir Charles notes upon this: 'Hatzfeldt was the Chancellor's right-hand man—of action. But Bismarck did not consult him: he said, "Do," and Hatzfeldt did.'
The letter continues:
'"When Bismarck's Reichshund died, a successor was appointed, but the Emperor, who had heard of the death and not of the appointment to fill the vacancy, gave another, and the Prince says: 'Courtier as I am, I sent away my dog to my head-forester's and kept the gift one, but as I do not like him I leave him at Berlin.' Here the favourite reigns, and her name is Rebekkah, and she answers very prettily to the name of Bex. The old gentleman is dear in his polite ways.... The daughter is equally pleasant, and the son-in-law as well. We were loudly cheered at the harvest festival, of course.... You can write to our friend J. R. [Reinach] of the R.F. [Republique Francaise] that I found the Chancellor very determined on peace as long as he lives, which he fears will not be long, and afraid of Prussian action after his death."
'In another letter the next day, Sunday, September 8th 1889, I wrote: "I expected the extreme simplicity of life. The coachman alone wears livery, and that only a plain blue with ordinary black trousers and ordinary black hat—no cockades and no stripes. There are only two indoor men-servants: a groom of the chambers, and one other not in livery—the one shown in the photograph of Bismarck receiving the Emperor, but there, for this occasion only, dressed in a state livery. [Footnote: Photographs which Bismarck gave Sir Charles, showing the Chancellor with his hound receiving the young Kaiser, and Bismarck alone with his dog, always hung on the wall at Dockett.] The family all drink beer at lunch, and offer the thinnest of thin Mosel. Bismarck has never put on a swallow-tail coat but once, which he says was in 1835, and which is of peculiar shape. A tall hat he does not possess, and he proscribes tall hats and evening dress among his guests. His view is that a Court and an army should be in uniform, but that when people are not on duty at Court or in war, or preparation for war, they should wear a comfortable dress, and each man that form of dress that he finds most agreeable to himself, provided that it be not that which he calls evening dress and tall hats—a sort of 'sham uniform.' Countess von Rantzau, however, dresses in a high, short evening gown like other people. The Prince eats nothing at all except young partridges and salt-herring, and the result is that the cookery is feeble, though for game-eaters there is no hardship. The table groans with red-deer venison, ham, grouse, woodcock, and the inevitable partridges— roast, boiled, with white sauce, cold, pickled in vinegar. A French cook would hang himself. There is no sweet at dinner except fruit, stewed German fashion with the game. Trout, which the family themselves replace by raw salt-herring, and game, form the whole dinner. Of wines and beer they drink at dinner a most extraordinary mixture, but as the wine is all the gift of Emperors and merchant princes it is good. The cellar card was handed to the Prince with the fish, and, after consultation with me, and with Hatzfeldt, we started on sweet champagne, not suggested by me, followed by Bordeaux, followed by still Mosel, followed by Johannesberg (which I did suggest), followed by black beer, followed by corn brandy. When I reached the Johannesberg I stopped, and went on with that only, so that I got a second bottle drawn for dessert. When the Chancellor got to his row of great pipes, standing against the wall ready stuffed for him, we went back to black beer. The railway-station is in the garden, and the expresses shake the house."
'Other points which struck me in the manners and customs of Friedrichsruh were that the Chancellor invariably took a barrel of beer out driving, and stopped halfway in the afternoon and insisted on his guests consuming it out of a two-handled mug which appeared from under the coachman's seat. I had some talk with him about the wisdom of his going unprotected for great distances through the woods, and he answered, "But I am not unprotected," and showed me a pistol which he carried, but, of course, a man with a blunderbuss behind a tree might easily have killed him. He never takes a servant on the box by the side of the coachman, and generally drives entirely alone. He rides alone without a groom, and walks alone with only his dog, or rather the forester's dog, the daughter of the Reichshund, who walks six or seven miles every morning to go out with him, and six or seven miles every night to come to dinner.
'The Prince was evidently discontented with the Emperor, but wholly unable to believe that he himself could be done without. He told me that he must work each day and could never take a holiday, but that even a few minutes' work was sufficient, as all that was necessary was that he should keep an eye on what was going on. All was now so well arranged that the only thing which gave him trouble was the internal condition of Alsace, which as a Reichsland had him alone as a Minister. In the evening he chatted much about the past; told me of his visit to London in 1842, of how a cabman tried to cheat him, and how at last he held out all his money in his hand and said to the man, "Pay yourself"; how then the man took less than that which he had refused, his right fare, and then with every sign of scorn ejaculated, "What I say is, God damn all Frenchmen!" Bismarck speaks admirable English, with hardly any trace of accent, but spoken very slowly. French he speaks more rapidly but less well; and of Russian he has a fair knowledge. He told me how (also in 1842) he had visited Barclay and Perkins's, and had been offered an enormous tankard of their strongest ale. "Thinking of my country, I drank it slowly to the last drop, and then left them, courteously I hope; I got as far as London Bridge, and there I sat down in a recess, and for hours the bridge went round." He told me how he had striven to keep the peace through the time of Napoleon III., but finding it useless had prepared for war; and he made no secret of the fact that he had brought the war about. He told me himself, in so many words, that at the last moment he had made war by cutting down a telegram from the King of Prussia, as I have said above; [Footnote: See Chapter XL (Vol. I., p. 157).] "the alteration of the telegram from one of two hundred words to one of twenty words" had "made it into a trumpet blast"—as Moltke and Von Roon, who were with him at dinner when it came, had said—"a trumpet blast which" had "roused all Germany." As he mellowed with his pipes he told me that, though he was a high Tory, he had come to see the ills of absolutism, which, to work, required the King to be an angel. "Now," he said, "Kings, even when good, have women round them, who, even if Queens, govern them to their personal ends." It was very plain that he was on bad terms with the Emperor, and equally clear that he did not believe that the Emperor would dare dismiss him.'
A commentary on the last sentence follows at no long interval, when Problems of Greater Britain appeared and 'Herbert Bismarck, in thanking me for a copy of my book, said: "My father ... sends you his kindest regards. He is just going to disentangle himself from the Prussian administration altogether, and will resign the post as Prime Minister, so that he will only remain Chancellor of the Empire." This was on February 10th, 1890, and before long Bismarck had been still further "disentangled," not by his own act,' but by a blow almost as sudden and dramatic as that which, in 1661, had struck down the owner of Vaux. [Footnote: See the Memoires de Fouquet, by A. Cheruel, vol.ii., chap, xxxviii.]
'In a second letter that young Bismarck wrote, he thanked me for sending him the famous sketch from Punch (Tenniel's cartoon) of the captain of the ship sending away the pilot. He wrote:
'"My Dear Dilke,
'"I thank you very much for your kind note, which warmed my heart, and for the sketch you have cut out of Punch. It is indeed a fine one, and my father, to whom I showed it yesterday when your letter reached me, was pleased with its acuteness, as well as with the kind messages you sent him and which he requites. He has left last night for good, and I follow to-night to Friedrichsruh. It was a rather melancholy historical event, when my father stepped out of the house in which he has lived for the benefit of my country for nearly twenty-eight years. When I wrote you last, my father thought only of leaving the offices he held in Prussia, but things went on so rapidly that he did not see his way to remain as Chancellor in Berlin after the Emperor had let him know that His Majesty wished him to resign. I had no choice what course to take after he had been dismissed. My health is so much shaken that I am not able to take upon my shoulders alone the tremendous amount of responsibility for the foreign affairs of Germany which hitherto fell upon my father. When we drove to the station yesterday, our carriage was almost upset by the enthusiastic crowd of many thousand people who thronged the streets and cheered him on his passage in a deafening way; but it was satisfactory for my father to see that there are people left who regret his departure. I shall come back to Berlin after April 1st to clear my house and to pack my things, and then I shall stay with my father till the end of April. In May I hope to come to England, and I look forward to the pleasure of seeing you then.
'"Ever yours sincerely,
'He dined with me on May 15th, 1890, when Arnold Morley, Borthwick, Jeune, Fitzmaurice, Harry Lawson, and others, came to meet him; and from this time forward he came frequently to England.'
Sir Charles, while meeting the younger man thus often, never again had sight or speech of the old Chancellor. 'In Christmas week  I had a general invitation from Prince Bismarck to stay with him again at Friedrichsruh. But the chance never came.' Immediately on his return from Germany Sir Charles wrote to his friend Reinach:
'Pyrford by Maybury, 'Near Woking, 'September l3th, 1889.
'My Dear Reinach,
'Bismarck c'est la paix. As long as he lives, which he thinks will not be long, he expects no movement. He agrees with me that the first movement will come from Russia. He expects the Republic to last in France. Bleichroeder tells him that Ferry is the one man of energy and power.
'Yours, 'Chs. W. D.'
Three weeks later, in answer to a question by M. Reinach, this is added:
'Health as good as he says. But he does not say that. He says he suffers very much. The fact is that he looks very much older than he is, and his hands look like ninety instead of seventy-four.'
What Bismarck thought of his guest may be gathered from a saying quoted in public by Dr. Stephen Bauer. Baron Rottenburg, Bismarck's first secretary, had told him that, after Sir Charles's visit to Friedrichsruh, the Chancellor spoke of him as 'the most interesting of living English statesmen.' [Footnote: At the banquet given to Sir Charles Dilke in April, 1910.]
In spite of Bismarck's efforts to bring about another meeting, this visit was the only occasion on which the two men met. It was at a time when the great maker of United Germany was nearing his fall. He was becoming the bitter adversary of the Kaiser and of his policy, a policy which he foresaw might imperil 'the strength and glory of the German Empire.' In the often-quoted words of his instructions to diplomatic representatives abroad—'Do all in your power to keep up good relationship with the English. You need not even use a secret cipher in cabling. We have nothing to conceal from the English, for it would be the greatest possible folly to antagonize England'—is to be found one main point of Bismarck's diplomacy; and feeling thus, he welcomed a conference with the English statesman of that generation whom he had looked upon as certain to be a force in the approaching years. When at last the meeting took place, Dilke had been overtaken by circumstances which altered his political position in England. But neither Bismarck nor any other statesman on the Continent anticipated that they could possibly have the result of excluding permanently from office one of the very few English statesmen whose names carried weight with foreign Powers on military and international politics.
PERSONAL LIFE—IN OPPOSITION
1895 TO 1904
Few members of the House of Commons can have been sorry to see the last of the Parliament which ended in June, 1895; and Sir Charles had nothing to regret in its disappearance. In respect of foreign affairs, he saw little to choose between the Liberal and Tory Ministers except that, of the two, Lord Salisbury was 'the less wildly Jingo.' On questions of Imperial Defence many of his old friends in the Liberal Government were arrayed against him; and with matters standing as they stood between the two Houses, there was no hope of any important Labour legislation. Lord Salisbury had again become Prime Minister, and under the new Conservative Administration everything went more easily. Sir Charles testified in one of his speeches that Mr. Balfour's leadership, 'by his unfailing courtesy to all members, made the House of Commons a pleasant place'; and Mr. Balfour's leadership was well assured of several years' continuance.
A great Parliamentarian, Sir Charles nevertheless held no brief for Parliament. As a practical statesman, he realized the advantages in a strong hand of such a machine as Bismarck controlled; while his democratic instincts made him favour the Swiss methods, with direct intervention of the people through the Referendum.
'I trained a whole generation of professional politicians to respect the House of Commons,' he said, 'but I was never favourable to the Parliamentary, and I was even hostile to the Party, system.'
Nevertheless, since England was wedded to its traditional system, to work this efficiently was the first duty of an English politician. A note from Sir Reginald Palgrave in 1893 acknowledges gratefully some criticisms of the tenth edition of the classical work which deals with this subject. No one was ever better qualified than Sir Charles to say what could or could not be done by the rules of order, and he would certainly have inculcated upon every politician the necessity of this knowledge as a practical equipment.
'What Dilke did,' writes Mr. McKenna, 'was to impress upon me the importance of a thorough understanding of the procedure and business of the House of Commons, a branch of knowledge in which he was an accomplished master.'
Sir Charles's whole scheme of existence was arranged with reference to the work of Parliament. Of it he wrote on December 15th, 1905, in reply to Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, who had dwelt on the interest of county government:
'The development of character in politics and the human side of the House of Commons have an extraordinary dramatic interest for me, and an attraction so strong that Harcourt told me that, knowing it, he did not see how I could live out of the House of Commons. I managed to do so, but only by shutting it for a time absolutely out of my mind, as though it did not exist. Having the happiness of being able to interest myself in everything, I suppose I am born to be generally happy. You have known me so long and so closely that few men are more aware of the kind of suffering I have gone through, but the happiness of interest in life has rarely been wanting for long in me, and if it were, I should go out—not of Parliament—but of life.' [Footnote: Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice was Chairman of the Wiltshire County Council. He had re-entered Parliament as M.P. for North Wilts in 1898.]
Sir Charles never left London while the House was sitting, except for the annual gathering of the Forest miners at the Speech House. On all other working days of the session he was to be found in the House of Commons. He held that the House offered the extremest form of interest or of boredom, according as a man did or did not follow closely all that was going on. For this reason, the smoking-room, where most Parliamentary idling is transacted, saw little of him; cigars, of which he was a great consumer, were for periods of leisure, and he was at the House for business. He might be seen in the passages, going by with coat-tails streaming behind him, most often in the members' lobby on his way to the first corridor, where was his locker—marvellously stuffed with papers, yet kept in a methodical order that made it a general centre of reference for himself and his colleagues, who consulted him on all subjects; or sometimes in the library, with multifarious correspondence and documents outspread, snipping away with a pair of scissors, after his habit, all in them that was not vitally important. [Footnote: Mr. Hudson tells how in February, 1911, after Sir Charles's death, he went down to clear his locker in the House of Commons, and found it empty. Mr. Hudson surmised that, foreseeing his need for it was over, Sir Charles had himself prepared it for his successor in its use.] Again, since one form of relaxation which he permitted himself was his afternoon cup—or cups, for they were many—of tea, the tea-room also offered a chance to those who sought him. But whoever wanted Sir Charles went first into the Chamber itself, and in five cases out of six would find him there alert in his corner seat below the gangway, primed and armed with documented information, and ready at any minute to interpose. Every day he went through the whole bewildering mass of papers from which members are presumed to instruct themselves concerning the business of the sittings and to keep a check upon the general proceedings of Government. In his case the presumption was realized. Probably no private member ever equalled him in demands for 'papers to be laid,' and certainly none was ever better able to justify his requests for additional information. If these requests were refused, it was never because he wanted what was superfluous, but that which, in his hands, might become inconveniently serviceable.
One habit of his may be traced to his hatred of wasting time. The instant a division was announced he was on his feet, hurrying so as to avoid long minutes of waiting in a crush; and it came to be regarded as part of the natural order that Sir Charles should be first through the lobby.
With all this industry, the record of divisions so carefully chronicled by the hard-working M.P. was not of moment to him. If the business did not seem to him important, he had no objection to absent himself and dine at home. He was weatherwise in the assembly, and knew the conditions which might lead to unforeseen disturbance.
In questions raised by alteration of rules or standing orders, he was never averse from innovation, and even generally an advocate of change. But while the rules were there he insisted rigorously on their observance, in so far as they affected the larger interests of division or debate. Also he fulfilled punctiliously the prescribed courtesies, making it a usage to be down early and to secure his place, although no one ever thought of appropriating it. He rigidly observed the rule, transgressed by others, which prescribes the wearing of a tall hat by members in the House. The hat which was thus endeared to him by traditional usage is therefore inseparable from Parliamentary memory of him. He was generally to be seen handling a sheaf of papers more than Ministerial in dimensions; and he made his hat the receptacle for them; often it would be crammed to bursting before the speech had concluded. Yet there remained with him always the trace of his younger days of grave dandyism; he never abandoned the Parliamentary frock-coat, and sketches of him in the illustrated papers convey the austere correctness of its folds; and the hat from which so much service was exacted appeared each day unsurpassable in gloss.
The intricate mass of historical associations delighted his imagination at Westminster. He took pleasure in all the quaint survivals, from the long-transmitted ceremonial of the Speaker's entrance, the formal knockings of Black Rod, the cry of 'Who goes home?' down to the still continued search before each session for some possible Guy Fawkes. Keenly alive to the past and to the present, he saw with special pleasure any happy grafting of a new usage on to that old stock of memories. Speaking in his constituency after the lying in state of King Edward, which he had attended (standing next to the Prime Minister as the senior Privy Councillor present), he welcomed the precedent which gave a new association to Westminster Hall—that 'epitome of English history.' He recalled to his hearers the outstanding incidents and persons whose record had then come into his mind. His habit of tracing out links with the past made him at Westminster the best and most animated of guides.
So it was in Provence, in the Forest of Dean, on the road down from London to Surrey; so it was always in the neighbourhood of his Chelsea home.
There could be no such companion for a ramble through its streets. His memory, astounding in its recollections of his own time, held stories of older records; in his eager, vivid talk the past lived again. As we passed along Cheyne Walk, George Eliot held court in her house once more, while a few doors off Rossetti's servant pushed aside the little grating to inspect his visitors before admission. Carlyle dwelt again in the house in Cheyne Row, with Whistler for his neighbour. Sir Charles would tell how earlier the Kingsley brothers lived with their father in the old rectory, and one at least of their novels was founded afterwards on the traditions of the place. Then, as layer after layer of history was lifted, Smollett wrote his novels or walked the Chelsea streets with John Wilkes; Sir Richard Steele and 'his dear Prue' reinhabited their house, and Dr. Johnson worked at the furnaces in the cellars where Chelsea china was made. [Footnote: 'Sir Charles Dilke, in hunting about for materials for his lecture on "Old Chelsea" to-morrow, has made some very interesting discoveries. He has found that part of the building once occupied by the famous Chelsea china works, which was thought to have gone for ever, exists as part of a public-house with a modern frontage looking out on the Embankment. The cellars are in an admirable state of preservation. Another interesting point has been the exploration of the old Moravian cemetery, which is now completely enclosed by houses, the ironwork of the gate worn, and, as it were, eaten out by age. Here lie the bones of Count von Zinzendorf, one of the founders of the Moravian sect, and many other famous folk. This, again, has led to some interesting discoveries about Sir Thomas More, all of which will find a place in Wednesday's lecture' (Extract from Leicester Daily Post, January 11th, 1888, on lecture to be delivered in Town Hall, Chelsea).]
He would give, as a curious illustration of the way in which many years may be covered by a few generations, the fact that he himself had known intimately the daughter of Woodfall, printer of the Letters of Junius; while Woodfall's acquaintance included Smollett as a resident, and Pope as a visitor to Chelsea. He would talk long of Sir Thomas More, [Footnote: He writes: 'On December 18th, 1886, Cardinal Manning wrote to me: "On Saturday last Sir Thomas More was declared both martyr and saint, to my great joy. We have bought a house and garden, 28, Beaufort Street, which is said to be a piece of Sir Thomas More's garden. The tradition seems probable. If you can give me any light about it, I shall be very thankful."' Later (January, 1888) Sir Charles writes: 'In the course of this same month I lectured on Old Chelsea, and made a considerable attempt to clear up some points in the life of Sir Thomas More, for whom I have a great admiration. The result was that Cardinal Manning asked me to visit Father Vaughan at the house which stands on the site of Old Beaufort House, which the Roman Catholics have purchased as a house of expiation for the martyrdom of Sir Thomas More.'] 'the first of Chelsea worthies,' whose memory is loved and commemorated by every true inhabitant, and to whose voluntary poorhouse for the parish he pointed, as the direct progenitor of the Chelsea Benevolent Society and the Board of Guardians. But one episode in More's career specially fascinated him: it was when two great lives touched, and More, journeying to Calais, met that famous lady, Margaret of Austria, the first Governess of the Netherlands, and negotiated the treaty between the Emperor, England, and France, 1527. Great as was his respect for Sir Hans Sloane, after whom the street in which he lived was named, and who gave to Chelsea its beautiful Physic Garden, he never forgave him the destruction of More's house or the removal of its water gateway.
He would describe the tidal shore, as it lies in the picture which he bequeathed to the Chelsea Free Library, and which hangs on its staircase, when below the old church the bank sloped to the water's edge; or he would pass back to the earlier time when the boats of the nobles lay there in such numbers that Charles II. described the river as 'Hyde Park upon the Thames.' Once more Bess of Hardwick lived at Shrewsbury House, Princess Elizabeth sheltered under the Queen's Elm; at the old Swan in Swan Walk, Doggett founded the coat and badge to be rowed for by the watermen's apprentices 'when the tide shall be full.' These things may be found in many a guide-book and in the lectures which he delivered more than once in Chelsea, but told as he told them they will never be told again.
This habit of associating the prosaic business of his daily work in Parliament with picturesque traditions, and of peopling the dingy streets of London with great figures of the past, gave colour and character to his town life. He entertained still—at 76, Sloane Street, or at the House of Commons.
For exercise he relied on fencing, rowing, and his morning ride. Busy men, he held, needed what 'good exercise as contrasted with mere chamber gymnastics' could give them: 'a second life, a life in another world— one which takes them entirely out of themselves, and causes them to cease to trouble others or to be troubled by the vexations of working life.' [Footnote: Athletics for Politicians, reprinted from North American Review.]
He was nowhere more characteristically English than through his faith in this regimen, and in the pages of the North American Review he addressed to American public men in 1900 an advocacy of 'Athletics for Politicians.' This exists as a pamphlet, and some of the friends who received it were surprised to find themselves cited in confirmation of the theory that nearly all English politicians, 'having been athletes as boys, have found it wise as well as pleasant to keep to some sport in later life.' But Mr. Chamberlain, 'the most distinguished debater in the Government of the United Kingdom, who has an excellent seat on a horse, but is never now seen on one, and who is no mean hand at lawn tennis, which he scarcely ever plays,' had to be cited as a heretic who thought himself 'better without such gymnastics.'
Sculling on sliding-seats [Footnote: In 1873 'sliding-seats' had just taken the place of fixed ones, and Sir Charles, having gone as usual to see the Boat Race, criticized the crews, in a notice which he wrote, as not having yet learnt to make the best possible use of the slide.] and rapier fencing were the exercises which Sir Charles recommended to men no longer young. He continued his fencing in London and Paris. In Paris he frequented chiefly the school of Leconte in the Rue Saint Lazare, and always kept an outfit there. Teachers of this school remember with wonder Sir Charles's habit of announcing, at the termination of each stay in Paris, the precise day and hour, perhaps many months ahead, at which he would appear—and at which, like Monte Cristo, he never failed to be exactly punctual—to the joy and amusement of the expectant school.
It was at his riverside home that he found the exercise which beyond all others pleased him best.
'1890 I took a good deal of holiday in the summer and early autumn, doing much rowing with McKenna and others in a racing pair; we challenged any pair of our united ages.'
'On my fifty-third birthday,' he notes, 'I began to learn sculling. My rowing, to judge by the "clock," still improves. Fencing, stationary or declining.'
He timed himself regularly in his daily burst up and down the reach with some first-rate oarsman, very often 'Bill' East, now the King's Waterman, whose photograph stood with one or two others on the mantelpiece of his study in Sloane Street. In the same way he kept a daily record of his weight, which up to 1904 ranged between fourteen stone and thirteen.
Dockett was essentially a boating-place, a place for sun and air, where life was lived in the open or in the wide verandah hailed by Cecil Rhodes and others as the only 'stoep' in England. His son, who was travelling abroad much at this time, shared Sir Charles Dilke's love for Dockett, and was frequently there in the intervals of his journeyings. Other than boating friends came to lunch or to dine and sleep, for the mere pleasure of talk. Such were the Arnold-Forsters, the H. J. Tennants, Lady Abinger (the daughter of his old friend Sir William White) and her husband: and there came also members of Parliament—Mr. Lloyd George, or in a later day Mr. Masterman; and the knights errant of politics, Mr. Cunninghame Graham and Mr. Schreiner. Many nationalities were represented—often, indeed, through official personages such as M. Cambon, the French Ambassador, or some member of the French Embassy. Baron Hayashi and his wife came with many other Japanese friends, and the various representatives of the Balkan States met in pleasant converse. It was one of these who afterwards wrote: 'I never pass the house in Sloane Street without raising my hat to the memory of its former inmates.' That close friend M. Gennadius came also, and his predecessors in the Greek Legation, M. Metaxas, M. Athos Romanes, and half a score of other diplomatists, including Tigrane Pasha, and even Ras Makonnen, who was brought to Dockett by the British representative in Abyssinia, Sir John Harrington, a friend and correspondent of Dilke. Thither also for leisure, not for athletics, came Cecil Rhodes, described in Problems of Greater Britain as a 'modest, strong man'; there came Prince Roland Bonaparte, Coquelin, and Jules Claretie, with a host of others, politicians, wits, and artists, English and foreign. M. Claretie thus, after Sir Charles's death, chronicled one visit:
'Nous avons canote, mon fils et moi, sur la Tamise avec Sir Charles, un de ces "Sundays" de liberte. Quand il avait bien rame, il rentrait au logis, et s'etendant en un petit kiosque au seuil duquel il placait des sandales, l'homme d'etat, ami du sport, accrochait a la porte un ecriteau ou se lisait ces mots: "Priere de faire silence. Je dors." Helas! Il dort a tout jamais maintenant le cher Sir Charles. Ce fut une energie, un cerveau, un coeur, une force.' [Footnote: Le Temps, February, 1911.]
Then there were men illustrious in another sphere, the famous oars of their generation. Mr. S. D. Muttlebury, most illustrious of them all, has compiled a list of Cambridge 'blues,' young and old, who rowed with Sir Charles at his riverside home. These were—
School College Bell, A. S. .. .. Eton .. .. Trinity Hall. Bristowe, C. J. .. Repton .. .. " Escombe, F. J. .. Clifton .. .. " Fernie, W. J. .. Malvern .. .. " Howell, B. H. .. — " McKenna, R. .. King's College " London Maugham, F. H. .. Dover College .. " Muttlebury, S. D. .. Eton .. .. Trinity College. Rowlatt, J. F. .. Fettes .. .. Trinity Hall. Steavenson, D. F. .. — " Wauchope, D. A. .. Repton .. .. " Wood, W. W. .. Eton .. .. University College, Oxford.
In the list here given, Judge Steavenson was Sir Charles's contemporary. Judge Wood, [Footnote: He was the son of Dilke's friend and constituent, the Rector of Newent.] his neighbour at Chertsey, known among Etonians as 'Sheep' Wood, was a University oar of the sixties, and rowed for Eton at Henley against the Trinity Hall crew which included Steavenson and Dilke. But most of the others were young. Mr. Charles Boyd [Footnote: Mr. Charles Boyd, C.M.G., sometime political secretary to Cecil Rhodes.] sketched the life in an article written just after Sir Charles's death:
'To know Dilke as he was you had to be with him at Dockett Eddy, on the river. Dilke's ability is praised everywhere, but almost, one thinks, his manly, ungushing kindness exceeded it. He could never do enough for people, or too stealthily, as it were. He had a special kindness for young men, for Trinity Hall men perhaps by preference; the black and white blazer of his old college carried a certain prescriptive right to share in every belonging of the most famous of old Hall men. But many, oars or others, at different times in the past fifteen to twenty years, as sons of the house, spent between Shepperton and Chertsey Locks, or on the tennis lawns among Sir Charles's famous willows, or lying on deck-chairs on the long, deep verandah, the happiest and healthiest of week-ends or more extended summer holidays. There are few pleasanter reaches of our river, and none quieter, than this, for the rush and the intolerable crowds are above stream or below stream, but not here. And there is no such holiday house for young men as Dockett, hidden in its willow walks and islanded by the Thames in front and by the expanse of Chertsey Mead behind.
'Less a country-house, indeed, than a camp of exercise. You did as you pleased, but under Sir Charles's guidance you were pleased to be strenuous. He called everybody to bathe at 7 a.m., and where was ever better fresh-water bathing-place than the floating raft below the boat-house at Dockett? Etiquette required you to dive in and go straight across to the other bank, touch, and return; when, like as not, Sir Charles, in shorts and sweater, might be seen very precisely preparing tea on the landing-stage for the deserving valiant. His little kindnesses had an added and affecting quality from his reserve and sternness. A rare figure of an athlete he was, and a rare athlete's day his was in that retreat. For hours before he called and turned out the morning guard he had been up busy gardening, or reading, or writing. At a quarter to nine he breakfasted. Very shortly after breakfast an ex-champion sculler the admirable Bill East, would arrive from Richmond, and he and Sir Charles would row in a racing skiff a measured mile or more of the river. One summer at least he changed from rowing kit to boots and breeches after his rowing, and rode till luncheon. At four o'clock there would be a second bout with East, and thereafter, having changed from his rowing kit into flannels and his Hall cap, he would take Lady Dilke in her dinghy, which nobody else has ever used or will use.
'After these exercises came dinner, and after dinner talk; and what talk! How his intellectual weight and equipment affected those who were much with him as young men, and who had a chance to revise their impressions after years of close observation of the world and its big men, a scrap of dialogue may illustrate. One who in his "twenties" was much at Sloane Street and Dockett, and who passed later into close working relations with several at least of the most conspicuous, so to say, of Front Bench men in the Empire, after an interval of thirteen years sat once more for a whole long evening with three others at the feet of Gamaliel. A well-known scholar and historian put questions which drew Sir Charles out; and all were amazed and delighted by the result. After Sir Charles had gone, one of the others, a distinguished editor, said to the wanderer: "Come, you have known the Mandarins as well as anybody. Where do you put Dilke with them?" "Well, I rule Lord Milner out," said ——: "but all the others, compared to Sir Charles, strike me in point of knowledge, if you must know, as insufficiently informed school- boys." That is how his brain struck this contemporary. As for the moral qualities observed, you get to know a man well when you see him constantly and over years at play. And what intimate's affection and respect for Sir Charles, and confidence in him, did not grow greater with every year? It seems admitted that he was a great man. Well, if there is anything in the intimate, not undiscerning impression of nearly eighteen years, he was a good man, or goodness is an empty name.'
Another account of his talk and ways comes from Mr. Spenser Wilkinson:
'I moved to London in 1892, and from that time on found the intimacy with Dilke one of the delights of life. We used always to meet, either for breakfast or lunch, at Dilke's house in Sloane Street, or for lunch at the Prince's Restaurant in Piccadilly, or at 2.30 in the lobby of the House of Commons. I was also frequently a guest at the dinner-parties either at Sloane Street on Wednesdays, when Lady Dilke was alive, or at the House of Commons. Then there were small house-parties on Saturday and Sunday at Dockett Eddy, near Shepperton on the Thames, where Sir Charles had built two cottages, and where a guest was expected to do exactly what he pleased from the time when he was punted across the river on arrival until he left the punt on departing. In winter I used to bicycle over to the cottage at Pyrford, where Dilke and his wife were always to be found alone and where I spent many a charming afternoon.
'Every man takes a certain tinge from the medium in which he is, and is therefore different in different company and different surroundings. I knew three Dilkes. First there was the statesman, the man of infinite information which he was ever working to increase. When you went to see him it was on some particular subject; he wanted precise information, and knew exactly what he wanted. With him my business was always finished in five minutes, after which I used to feel that I should be wasting his time if I stayed. This Dilke, in this particular form of intercourse, was by far the ablest man I ever met.
'Then came Dilke the host, the Dilke of general conversation. Here again he towered above his fellows. The man who had been everywhere and knew everybody—for there seemed to be no public man of great importance in any country with whom Dilke was not acquainted and with whom he had not corresponded—a man who was almost always in high spirits and full of fun, had an inexhaustible fund of delightful conversation, about which the only drawback was that, in order to appreciate it, you had to be uncommonly well informed yourself.
'But the Dilke I liked best was the one I used to have to myself when I spent a day with him either in the country or on the river, when neither of us had anything to do, when there was no business in hand, and when we either talked or were silent according to the mood. In these circumstances Dilke was as natural and simple as a civilized man can be. If one started an uncongenial subject, he would say. "It does not interest me," but the moment one approached any of the matters he cared for he mobilized all his resources and gave himself with as little reserve as possible.
'Dilke was a past-master in the art of ordering his time, and this was the secret of the vast quantity of work which he was able to do. He was a voracious and quick reader, as is proved by the number of books which he used to review for the Athenaeum, of which he was proprietor. Yet he was an early riser and went to bed early, and a part of his day was given to exercise.
'A great deal of time was consumed in interviews with all sorts and conditions of men, and his attendance at the House of Commons, constant and assiduous, accounted for a large part of half the days in the year. But everything was mapped out in advance; he would make appointments weeks, or even months, in advance, and keep them to the minute. His self-control was complete, his courtesy constant and unvarying; he was entirely free from sentimentality and the least demonstrative of mankind, yet he was capable of delicate and tender feelings, not always detected by those towards whom they were directed. He was simple, straightforward, frank, and generous. It was delightful to do business with him, for he never hesitated nor went back upon himself. Modest and free from self-consciousness, he was aware both of his powers and of their limitations. I once tried to persuade him to change the manner of his Parliamentary speeches, to stop his minute expositions of facts and to make some appeal to the emotions of his hearers—at any rate in cases where he had strong feelings of his own. He made one experiment in accord with this suggestion, and told me that it had been most successful; but he said that he would not try it again, because it was not in accord with his natural bent, and he was unwilling to be anything but himself.'
Dockett was the home of the Birds. Sir Charles's evidence before the Select Committee on the Thames as to the destruction of kingfishers led to a prohibition of all shooting on the river, and to an increase of these lovely birds. In 1897 he had two of their nests at Dockett Eddy. His acres of willow-grown all-but-island were made a sanctuary for birds, and therefore from Dockett only, of all his homes, cats were kept away. Nests were counted and cherished; it was a great year when a cuckoo's egg was discovered among the linnet's clutch, and its development was watched in breathless interest. Owls were welcome visitors; and the swans had no better nesting-place on the Thames than the lower end of Dockett. They and their annual progeny of cygnets were the appointed charge of Jim Haslett, Dilke's ferryman and friend. Pensioners upon the house, they used to appear in stately progress before the landing raft—the mother perhaps with several little ones swarming on her back or nestling in her wings, and from time to time splashing off into the water. Always at their appearance, in answer to Sir Charles's special call, a cry of 'Swan's bread' would be raised, and loaf after loaf would disappear down their capacious throats. A place with such privileges was not likely to be undisputed, and many times there were battles royal against 'invaders from the north,' as Sir Charles called the Chertsey swans who came to possess themselves of the Dockett reach and its amenities. Swan charged swan, with plumage bristling and wings dilated, but not alone they fought; Jim Haslett and his employer took part against the invaders, beating them off with sticks; and even in the night, when sound of that warfare rose, the master of Dockett was known to scull out in a dinghy, in his night gear, carrying a bedroom candlestick to guide his blows in the fray.
Evening and morning he would steal along the bank in his dinghy, counting and observing the water-voles, which he was accustomed to feed with stewed prunes and other dishes, while they sat nibbling, squirrel-like, with the dainty clasped in their hands.
A few gay beds of annuals by the house, a purple clematis on the verandah, and a mass of syringa at the landing-stage, were all the garden permitted; roughly mown grass paths here and there led through the wild growth of nature, where the willows met overhead.
Such was his summer home, described in the lines of Tibullus which were carved on the doorway of the larger house:
'Jam modo iners possim epntentus vivere parvo Nec semper longae deditus esse viae, Sed canis aestivos ortus vitare sub umbra Arboris, ad rivos praetereuntis aquae.'
[Footnote: Thus translated by the Rev. W. Tuckwell:
'Here, fancy-free, and scorning needless show, Let me from Life's dull round awhile retreat, Lulled by the full-charged stream's unceasing flow, Screened by tall willows from the dog-star's heat.']
He guarded its quiet, and, champion as he had always been of the public right of common on land and on the river, he was resentful when its privilege was carelessly abused. He rebuked those who broke the rules of the river in his marches—above all, such as disturbed swans or pulled water-lilies. After every Bank Holiday he would spend a laborious day gathering up the ugly leavings.
Many associations endeared to him what he thus defended. When he was out in the skiff, darting here and there, Lady Dilke, in the little dinghy which he had caused to be built for her—called from its pleasant round lines the Bumble Bee—would paddle about the reach. After her death he would paddle out in the dinghy which no one else might take out, and lie for hours watching the light change on that familiar and tranquil beauty of green mead and shining water, of high-waving poplar and willow, with drooping boughs awash. When he also was gone, the little boat was not suffered to pass into the use of strangers, but burnt there on the bank.
In his other home at Pyrford, all the day's relaxations were of this intimate kind. [Footnote: Here, too, work was disturbed by his natural history researches. He writes apologetically to Mr. Hudson as to some mistake in a letter: 'I can plead as a disturbing cause three young brown owls, quite tame; one barks, and two whistle, squeak—between a railway guard and a door-hinge. The barker lets me get within four or five feet before he leaves off yapping. He worries the cuckoo into shouting very late. I leave the owls unwillingly, late—one night 1 a.m. They are still going strong.'] Here also was no formal garden; Nature had her way, but under superintendence of a student of forestry. Sir Charles was a planter of pines; great notebooks carefully filled tell how he studied, before the planting, the history of each species, how he watched over the experiments and extended them. [Footnote: Here is a detail entered concerning Lawson's cypress—Erecta vividis: 'I remember Andrew Murray, of the Royal Horticultural, first describing Lawson's cypress, introduced by his brother in 1862, when my father was chairman of the society of which Murray was secretary. Our two are gardener's varieties, one greener and the other bluer than the true Lawson. The American name is Port Orford cedar. It will not do very well on our bad soil, but I've given it a pretty good place. It is said that Murray first sent it to Lawson of Edinburgh in 1854. This variety was made by A. Waterer in 1870.']
In summer, on the dry heathy commons of Surrey, there is always danger of a chance fire spreading, and it was part of his care to maintain a cleared belt for fending off this danger. Much of his day went in gathering debris and undergrowth, so as to keep clear ground about the trees, and then the heaped-up gatherings rewarded him with a bonfire in which he had a child's pleasure, mingled with an artist's appreciation of the shapes and colours of flame. It was for praise of this beauty that he specially loved Anatole France's Rotisserie de la Reine Pedauque, with its celebrations of the salamanders and their vivid element.
The heath blossom in all its kinds was cultivated, and it was his invariable custom to come up on a Monday from Pyrford with a spray of his favourite white heather in his buttonhole.
Here, too, were associations, interesting if not exactly historic. The Battle of Dorking was fought close by, and in this neighbourhood the Martians descended.
Chief of Pyrford's distinctions was the discovery on Sir Charles's own land, by Mr. Horace Donisthorpe, of a beetle (Lomechusa) which in Queen Anne's day Sir Hans Sloane had first identified in Hampstead, parasitic in a nest of red ants. A second specimen was found in 1710 in the mail- coach between Gloucester and Cheltenham; but from Queen Anne's day till 1906 it was regarded as extinct, until once more it was discovered, and discovered in its true place among the ants, on whose gestures and behaviour towards it, whether as indicating worship or serfdom, Sir Charles dilated with such rhetoric of description that the beetle assumed dimensions in the mind disappointing when it was viewed in reality.
Another rarity of insect life at Pyrford was a spider whose appearances have been oftenest noted at Hampton Court. These creatures, large, black, and horrific, were accordingly known as 'Hampton Courters,' but received no welcome, being slain on sight, their slayer quoting a characteristic saying which he had heard from Anatole France:
'We all know of dangers which seem more terrible than they are. The spider alone suffers death for his carelessness as to this habit of exaggeration. Many an uncle spider walks about by candlelight, and is slain by us on account of his monstrous shadow, whereas his body, being but small, would have escaped our rage.'
It was here that much of his Memoir was dictated, based on an enormous mass of letters, papers, and private diaries, kept throughout his Government career. After 1891 there is only a scattered series of entries, increasingly sparse as time went on. Mr. Hudson recalls their walks from the station at Woking to Pyrford across the then open common, the lunch of eggs and milk, and the hours of work, during the period between the publication of Problems of Greater Britain and Sir Charles's return to Parliament for the Forest of Dean.
These two country homes, Pyrford and Dockett, held Sir Charles so fast with their simple pleasures that the once insatiable traveller ceased to roam. At the close of 1892, after his return to Parliament, he sold his house and garden at Toulon. Pyrford to a great extent had come to take its place. But to the end of his days he was a constant visitor to that Provencal country which he loved. Apart from them there was another place where, though he neither owned nor rented house or land, he was no less at home than among his willows or his pines. No resident in the Forest of Dean was better known in it than its member, and nowhere had Sir Charles more real friends. For many years he spent three periods among them: his Whitsun holiday, which was very much a visit of pleasure; a visit in autumn, when he attended all meetings of the Revision Courts; and finally a month in the dead of winter, when he went round to meetings in each polling district, at night educating his electors in the political questions of the time, and in the day working with his local friends at the register till it became the most accurate record of its kind in all Great Britain—so perfect, indeed, that he was at last able to discontinue his attendance at the Revision Courts, though never relaxing his keen personal interest in every change.
His friendships in the Forest were not bounded by class or party. He had the support, not merely of the Liberal and Labour groups, but of many strong Conservatives, here as before at Chelsea. Mention has been made of Mr. Blake, and another friend was Mr. John Probyn, who had stood as a Liberal candidate for Devizes as far back as 1868, and had not changed his views. Of his many faithful friends and supporters, one, the honorary secretary of the Liberal Association for all Sir Charles's years of membership, had as far back as 1886 proclaimed his faith in him. [Footnote: Mr. John Cooksey, formerly proprietor of the Dean Forest Mercury.] Another equally active in conveying the original invitation to Sir Charles was the agent of the Forest miners, a Labour leader of the wisest type, [Footnote: Mr. G. H. Rowlinson.] who writes:
'He did not live for himself; it was always others first. I never made an appeal to him for any case of need in vain. With regard to local matters, he seemed at the beck and call of nearly everyone. Nothing was too small or too large for him to undertake to assist any constituent, and oftentimes an avowed and lifelong political opponent. In a multitude of ways he did us service with his knowledge of affairs, his influence, his experience, his ability and work.
'In the matters of commoners' right, the right of "turnout" on the Forest, free miners' rights, questions of colliery owners, matters relating to the Crown, the development of the lower coal seams—in all these (and many of them are local intricate historical questions involving a mass of detail) he rendered valuable service.
'In his electoral battles he was always a keen fighter and a courteous opponent. In every campaign he seemed more anxious to beat his opponent by sheer weight of reason and argument, and intellect and knowledge, than by any appeal to party passion or feeling.
'I have been at a great many of his meetings, and never saw him shirk a question, nor saw one put to him that he did not, nine times out of ten, know more about than the questioner, however local the point might be.
'As an example, he was holding a meeting at Newnham. Questions were invited; none asked. Sir Charles looked disappointed; so Mr. King, of the "Victoria," in a friendly way, thought he would put him a poser, and asked his opinion about Sir Cuthbert Quilter's Pure Beer Bill.
'For about twenty minutes Sir Charles talked beer—the origin, ingredients, what it should be, what it often is and what it is not, what it is in other countries. As Mr. King remarked afterwards, he told him more about beer than he ever knew before, though he had been in the trade all his life.'
Probably none was more rejoiced at the unexpected display than the genial Tory host of the Victoria, who lived to deplore his friend and to quote especially one of his observations: 'If you see a man put on "side," Sir Charles once said to me, you may be sure he feels the need of it.' [Footnote: Among those who worked with him and for him best and longest should be named at least Mr. Charles Ridler and Mr. T. A. H. Smith of Lydney, Mr. Henry Davis of Newent, Mr. B. H. Taylor, and Mr. S. J. Elsom.]
Part of the service which he rendered to the constituency was by means of the honorary presidency of the Liberal Four Hundred, first created, to be held by himself, in 1889. Under this title the foremost spokesmen of Liberalism were in successive years brought into the Forest; [Footnote: The list included Mr. Asquith, Lord Morley, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Lloyd George, and Lord Loreburn.] and thus member and constituents worked together alike in political and in personal friendship. He hailed the little clump of trees on the conical top of Mayhill, the first landmark which indicated the Forest, almost as if it stood above his home. All was homelike to him as he drove from the pastoral country by the Severn, with its apple and pear orchards, to the typical mining town of Cinderford, and on to the great expanse of Forest in whose midmost glade was the Speech House Hotel, more ancient than the hollies about it, which had been planted to mark Charles II.'s Restoration. The Panelled Room, always reserved for his use during his stay there, had been for many generations the place in which the free miners met to hold their courts; it had been built for the purpose, as the gallery for speakers showed.
He loved the Forest—not only the distant spots of interest, but every tree, delighting to act as guide to all its pleasant places. So each new guest was taken to see High Beeches and the great wind-swept row of Scots firs by Clearwell Court. The aged oak-tree, which at a distance resembled a barn—for nothing was left but its great trunk above the roots—was another point of pilgrimage; so were the dwarf thorns on Wigpool Common, which reminded him of the tiny Japanese trees centuries old, as, indeed, probably were these.
Then there were the expeditions to the rocking stone called the Buckstone, a relic of the Druids; to the Scowles, the wonderful Roman iron workings like the Syracusan quarries; to Symons Yat, where the old military earthworks ended in a triple dyke, with the Severn and the Wye on either side; to Newland Church, in which a fifteenth-century brass shows the free miner of those days equipped for work; or to the lovely valley by Flaxley Abbey, once in the precincts of the Forest, where the monks had their fish-ponds, and where on the side of the hills their old ironworks may still be seen.
He and Lady Dilke rode early in their stay to all these outlying places, with Miss Monck as their constant companion. She was President of the Women's Liberal Association, stayed with them during their long visits to the Forest, and was with him for the election at the end. [Footnote: Miss Emilia Monck, sister of Mr. Berkeley Monck, of Coley Park, Heading, of which he was several times Mayor, and which he contested as a Liberal in 1886.]
These were far rides, but close about the Speech House the place teems with interest. In the last years he would walk every evening to look at the great stag-headed ruins of the oaks, which thrust their gnarled and crooked limbs fantastically into the closing night, or stand watching the shadows fall on the spruce rides which stretch out near the old inn, till, in the fading light, it seemed as though figures were moving in and out on the greensward of the great vistas. In the bright sunshine, imposing silence on himself and his companions, he would watch for long together the life in one of the forest glades, the moving creatures in the grass, the tits playing on the branches of a silver birch silhouetted against the sky, the little blue butterflies chasing each other over the pink crab-apple bloom. He would follow the tapping of a woodpecker, and wait in the evening for the owl's cry to begin; and here, as elsewhere, to be with him was to see in everything unsuspected things.
In the winter, Speech House was at first Sir Charles's headquarters for part of January, but there, 500 feet above the sea, the roads were sometimes impassable from snow. At last Lady Dilke became too delicate to face the mid-winter visit, and, except for elections, Whitsuntide and the autumn were the two occasions for their stay. He went also each year to the miners' demonstration—in 1908 so ill that it seemed impossible that even his power of endurance could enable him to bear the strain, and in 1910 again because he said he 'would not fail Rowlinson and the miners,' though he fainted after the meeting there.
One of their early headquarters in the Forest was Lindors, the home of two among their first and warmest friends—Mr. Frederick Martin and his wife. It is in a lovely little valley with sheltered lawns, the rush of the water sounding always behind the house, above which the old castle of St. Briavels stands. The ancient prison is still there, and the castle dates back to the thirteenth century, and claims an almost unbroken succession of Constables of the Castle and Wardens of the Forest of Dean, beginning with John de Monmouth.
After Speech House the Victoria at Newnham saw them oftenest. Its interior is fascinating, with a low hall and fine old oak stairway, broad and shallow; a bit of quaint French glass let into the staircase window bears an illustrated version of La Fourmi et la Cigale. Lady Dilke found there a remnant of fine tapestry—a battle scene with a bold picture of horses and their riders. She traced and located this as belonging to a great panel which is in the Palace at Madrid. At each election, after the declaration of the poll, Sir Charles made from a balcony of the Victoria or from a motor-car his speech to the cheering constituents, who had followed him from the town-hall, first under happiest circumstance, with his wife waiting for him in the porch, later alone, till the last occasion, in December, 1910, when he fought and won the election, dying, but with dogged courage; and as he spoke of the long term of Liberal government which would ensue before a new electoral struggle, friends standing near caught the words, 'When I shall not be here.'
* * * * *
Sir Charles had given up the habit of travel except for some special purpose, as when in 1897 he journeyed with Lady Dilke to see the Nattiers at Stockholm, or in another year to Bordeaux for her work on French Art in the Eighteenth Century. But every Christmas they went for a month to Paris. It was the great holiday of their year, and all the engagements were made far ahead. There was interest in their Parisian associations, for their differing attainments made them part of various separate coteries not familiarly accessible to English people.
Their friends were of all worlds, political, literary, artistic, and social; and since Sir Charles's intimacy with France dated back to boyhood, and Lady Dilke's to the days of her first close study of French art, which, beginning in the sixties with the French Renaissance, terminated in her big work on French Art in the Eighteenth Century, their friendships extended over a long period of years, though each fresh visit enlarged their circle of friends and acquaintances.
In the memoir prefixed to her Book of the Spiritual Life Sir Charles says of his wife:
'Those who are familiar with several languages learn instinctively to take the natural manners of the people who are for the moment their companions. So it was with Lady Dilke.... In Paris she was French with sufficient difference to give distinction.' As to himself, his great friend M. Joseph Reinach wrote, 'Dilke connaissait la France mieux que beaucoup d'entre nous.' But while his command of the French language and his knowledge of many sides of French life quickened his genial intercourse with the French, he never failed to impress them as an English statesman. He paid his French friends the compliment of adopting many little mannerisms; and however pure the French he spoke, he always entertained himself by keeping up to date his acquaintance with French slang, so that the latest developments of fashionable Paris jargon were familiar to him. Yet that never could be said of him which he himself noted of his friend M. Richard Waddington, brother to William Waddington, for many years Ambassador in London, and, in Sir Charles's opinion, a man of even higher ability than the Ambassador. Of this friend, half French, half English, he said that he had two mentalities, and that among Englishmen he was English, among Frenchmen French. Sir Charles's talk with Frenchmen was unrestrained; as Bismarck felt of England, so he of France: 'We have nothing to conceal from the French; they are our natural allies.' But it was always the Englishman who spoke; no slight veneer of manner in his social intercourse could conceal that.
There are many scattered entries in his Diary which show how great a relaxation the Paris holiday yielded.
'At Christmas at Paris we were always gay, though often among the aged. The gayest dinner I remember was at Henri Germain's with Gerome, Gaston Boissier, Laboulaye, and others, all about eighty, I being the chicken of the party.'
Gerome, the painter, is often mentioned. Laboulaye must have been Paul Laboulaye, born 1833, the diplomatist who had been Ambassador to St. Petersburg in 1886. It was during his embassy that the rapprochement took place between France and Russia which was announced to Europe by the welcome of the French fleet to Cronstadt.
Gaston Boissier, Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy, and a great classical scholar, figures again with another friend, M. Bonnat, in Sir Charles's memoir of his wife; for he notes that during their last Christmas in Paris, in 1903, 'the gaiety of their meetings' with these two friends and others 'had been as unrestrained as ever.' Earlier memories recall the sculptors Christophe and Gustave Moreau. Christophe's beautiful 'Mask,' of which Lady Dilke had written, stands in the Tuileries Garden, and was some time ago horribly disfigured by inkstain. One of Sir Charles's late letters was written to M. Joseph Reinach, to ask whether anything had yet been done to cleanse this work of the sculptor she venerated. Only two small casts were made by Christophe from the statue, and one of these, given to her by him, decorated the Pyrford home. So did a picture by Francois Louis Francais, another artist friend, chief in his day of the water-colour school, a picture which had inspired one of her stories, and gave the motto, 'Dites-moi un Pater,' to her Shrine of Death. In all the later and in some of the earlier friendships Sir Charles shared, as he did in those of the great custodians of art treasures. M. de Nolhac, the poet and the Curator of Versailles, was prominent among them, and Eugene Muentz, head of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Lady Dilke's correspondence with the latter, extending over a period of twenty-three years, is preserved at the Bibliotheque Nationale.
One great friend among collectors was M. Gustave Dreyfus, a high authority on Donatello and on the medallists of the Italian Renaissance. At his house there was another attraction in the shape of the concierge's cat, on whom Sir Charles would call before paying his respects upstairs. At another house a cat named Pouf was held in great honour by him, and his feelings were deeply wounded when, with feline capriciousness, it turned, on Paul Hervieu's entrance, to bestow all its blandishments on the writer. His love of cats was as well known to his French as to his English friends, Emile Ollivier writes in 1891 from La Moutte: 'Campion lui-meme cherche d'un regard afflige son protecteur disparu'; and M. Andre Chevrillon, being 'touche par la facon dont je vous ai entendu parler de ce divin animal,' sent him Taine's sonnets 'A trois chats, Puss, Ebene, et Mitonne, dedies par leur ami, maitre, et serviteur.'