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Thirty years, Anglo-French reminiscences (1876-1906) online

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showing how keenly humane minds long for the day when
war, that persistent relic of barbarism, will end by becoming
in the eyes of the majority an accursed evil which we are bound
to undergo, but against which every one worthy of the name
of man should unceasingly protest. Mr. Barclay said : —

" ' The proposal that I wish to put before you is that of an
arbitration treaty between England and France. Four years
ago the Governments of Great Britain and of the United
States drew up an agreement of this nature, but it has never
been ratified by the Senate of the latter country. The two
Governments had thought that two countries so closely
connected as America and England by the American colonies
must necessarily be exposed to constant small differences
happening in their relationships, and that such opposed
interests must inevitably increase with the development of
such relationships. Unfortunately, there are many Americans
who have made an article of constitutional faith out of the
Monroe doctrine. This doctrine possesses the quality of all
unwritten doctrines and of doctrines not sufficiently defined
to allow of their being interpreted suitably to the political
tactics of the moment. There is no Monroe doctrine between



England and France. On the other hand, there exist at least
as many points where the two nations touch as exist between
the American colonies of Great Britain and the United States.
Their territories and their political interests lie side by side
in North America, in South America, in Asia, and very
nearly so in Europe. There do not exist in the world two
countries knitted together by a closer intercourse. . . .
Happily, a war between England and France is an eventuality
of which the terrible consequences for the two countries are
so evident that one does not lightly plunge into it. And yet
war sometimes breaks out for the slightest of causes when
public feeling is agitated, and in Democratic countries Govern-
ments are often urged on by forces which do not look far
ahead. Now the advantage of an arbitration treaty is exactly
that it furnishes the means to allow the public spirit to calm
down or, in familiar parlance, it allows the Government to
gain time. It allows of pourparlers, exchanges of ideas,
negotiations in due form, mediators' proposals, and of
arbitration should the parties not agree, and in the mean-
time the hot-headed ones cool down. . . .

" ' Such a treaty between England and France might well
serve as an example of a new departure in these matters.
In the place of two Anglo-Saxon States it would be Great
Britain and France, which would bring about one of the
greatest triumphs of international law which our age has
seen. It would only be perfectly natural that the two great
and time-honoured nations which stand at the head of civilisa-
tion should lead the way which leads on to the extinction of
all war, that foolish and barbarous method which, as a rule, is
only the result of the incapacity of statesmen who allow it to
break out. You will have noticed that I have not spoken
of the Hague Convention. I have not done so because the
optional recourse provided by this convention strips arbitra-
tion, primarily, of the advantage which it possesses. Further,
the disputes which generally give rise to war, such as questions
in which honour and vital interests of the contracting
parties are involved, are excluded from its operation. That
which is necessary, in fact, in a general treaty of arbitration
is that the parties bind themselves without any reservation
not to take up arms one against the other before having tried
pacific means ; and one cannot see why there should be any
reservation, since it is rather the procedure than the decision
which constitutes the merit of such an arrangement. To
leave one of the parties free to determine whether a case is



provided for in the treaty or not, or whether circumstances
allow of arbitration, is to destroy the most essential application
of the treaty.' "

# # # # #

I now made arrangements to devote all my time
and means henceforward to my self-imposed task.

The following resolution, which I drew up as a sort
of model form, was the first English one adopted : —

" That the board of the British Chamber of Commerce in
Paris hereby records its hearty approval of the proposal for
a general Treaty of Arbitration between the United Kingdom
and France ; that in view of the great advantages which
would accrue to the commercial relations of the two countries,
by the adoption of such a proposal, this board declares its
readiness to co-operate by all means in its power towards the
accomplishment of so beneficial a result."

The first response, however, came from the French
peace societies, thirteen of which by an identical
declaration promised to neglect no influence which
could promote attention to the subject on the part of
Government and of public opinion. The second was
a resolution of the Chamber of Commerce of Clermont-
Ferrand. The third was a resolution in favour of the
proposed treaty adopted on June 15, at the famous
meeting at Shoreditch Town Hall, of delegates of
English and French trade associations. It was moved
by Mr. Gregory, chairman of the London Trades
Council, who presided, and seconded by Mr. F.
Maddison. 1

Meanwhile I had installed a staff and an ingenious
rotary machine by which I could turn out hundreds
of copies of matter for distribution. With an English
printer I had also made arrangements for printing ad

1 See the support given to the proposal, Appendices, pp. 346 et seq.



libitum, and before the autumn the campaign was in
full swing.

My life for the next two years was one of wild
activity, a life of sleeping in trains, speaking some-
times several times a day, sometimes twice in one
evening. I invented (oh, mother necessity !) a quick-
change shirt, a quick-change " dickie," a quick-change
tie, a travelling bag adapted to my requirements, and
at all times packed and ready for use at a moment's
notice. In America it amused my friends to see me
turn into evening dress, quite decent enough to pass
muster, in less than ten minutes.

One day an American who was present at one of
my " quick-change " scenes proclaimed my shirt
patentable and worth a fortune. I gave him one to
work upon. He came back from an expedition to a
great shirt purveyor quite crestfallen. " My dear
sir," had said this authority, " it is not a i quick-
change ' shirt that is wanted, but a slow-change one.
The more a man has to struggle with buttons and
button-holes, the better he likes it. The one thing
he does not want to shorten is the time it takes him
to turn himself into evening dress. Why, the time
he is dressing is the happiest of his life. It is the
time when undisturbed he can pose and see himself
in all his beauty. It is a more, not a less, complicated
shirt that is wanted. All you ambulant politicians and
public speakers, sir, do not use shirts enough to pay
the wages of a doorkeeper ! " My friend all the same
suspected he was " done." However, as I seem still
to be the only wearer of my " quick-change " shirts,
the psychological assessment of the shirt purveyor
was probably correct, In any case, as a young friend



courteously declined a dozen I had respectfully
offered him, I am afraid we old fogies know nothing
about the subtleties of modern dressing.

Three elements are essential, apart from choice of
a propitious moment, for success in agitation. The
one is never to publish to the world an isolated resolu-
tion. Several keep each other company and encourage
others. Another is never to take anybody into one's
confidence during negotiations and expose oneself to
the danger of " hearsay." And the third is not to
ask for funds ! I might add a fourth, a fifth and a
sixth, but they belong to character and circumstances,
viz., to go on quand meme, not be impatient, and
to be able to give all one's time, imagination, and
energy to the work. Nor must one be daunted by the
exertion of travelling and speaking day after day at
places hundreds of miles apart from each other, nor
by considerations of a financial character, nor by the
innuendoes of jealousy, nor by the sarcastic inquiries
of anonymous correspondents who ask you how much
you are making out of it, 1 etc., etc.

Following my own principles to the best of my
ability, I was able before the end of the year to enlist
the interest in the subject of practically all the
chambers of commerce in the two countries and obtain
unanimous resolutions in support of my proposal
from the Association of Chambers of Commerce of
the United Kingdom and the International Law
Association after full discussions. That which took
place at the meeting of the International Law
Association gave my respected friend, Lord Alverstone,

1 For the benefit of these low-minded gentry, I may say that, far from
bringing me any personal gain, the agitation obliged me to return to my
profession after it was over, and practically begin life over again.



an opportunity of making one of his best and most
effective speeches. In 1902 the movement reached
a more effective condition, as will be seen in the
next chapter.

In French domestic politics the year 1901 was an
agitated one. Of the forty ministries which had
preceded that of M. Waldeck-Rousseau since 1870
only three had reached the hoary age of two years,
viz., those of M. Thiers (1871 — 1873), M. Jules Ferry
(1883— 1885), and M. Meline (1896— 1898). The
Waldeck-Rousseau Cabinet, which had come into office
in June, 1899, was already fifteen months old when the
Exhibition closed its doors. It was not expected at
the time to last much longer. Yet it withstood every
effort to upset it, and long before the close of 1901 had
broken the record without showing any signs of
exhaustion. Its long life it owed, however, not so
much to its friends as to the carping opposition of its
enemies and the presence in it, alongside a strong
Prime Minister, of M. Millerand, a Socialist leader as
strong as his chief. Waldeck-Rousseau, who had
been one of Gambetta's discoveries and had served
in the grand ministere, belonged, like Clemenceau, to
an old Breton bourgeois family. The fathers of these
two men, who were destined to be opponents, had
espoused the cause of political freedom together at
Nantes. After having formed part of M. Ferry's
cabinet, the long duration of which has been attri-
buted in large part to his presence in it, as the
presence of Millerand in his own, later on, was credited
with the same effect, Waldeck-Rousseau did not
again take office and in 1889 retired from politics
altogether for the time being to devote himself to his



profession and his favourite pastime, painting. I
knew him only slightly. He was an easy first at the
Bar, especially as he did not wish to over-exert him-
self, and charged fabulous fees to keep clients at bay.
In France the advocate, can receive his instructions
from the lay client direct, and as often as not it
is he who instructs the avoue (solicitor). When
Waldeck-Rousseau yielded to the solicitations of
his friends and returned to Parliament to take the
^residence du conseil, he was said to be giving up an
income of over half a million francs (£20,000) a year.
It was as much this enormous material sacrifice as any
other circumstances that appealed to his countrymen's
gratitude and secured the free hand they gave him.
His aristocratic features, grave demeanour, and dis-
dain for mean or vulgar methods gave him an influence
in the French Parliament not unlike that of Sir
Edward Grey in the House of Commons. He was
more respected and authoritative than popular.
Nobody was ever known to take a liberty with
him, and he was never known to descend to
personalities even in the keenest moments of debate.
His impenetrable mask, business-like concentration
on the matter in hand, and mastery of terse technical
language so absorbed the attention of his listeners
that interruption or frivolity had no sense.

An interesting fact about Waldeck-Rousseau is that
after the Tongking disasters in 1885 it was he who
suggested to M. Grevy that, as Clemenceau had
shaken the Ferry Cabinet off its pedestal, the President
of the Republic ought, in accordance with parlia-
mentary logic, to entrust Clemenceau with the forma-
tion of the new ministry, but M. Grevy regarded this
as an experiment it would be dangerous to try with a



man of the temperament of the demolisseur des minis-
teres. In my opinion this was M. Grevy's second

great tactical mistake.

# * # # #

In foreign affairs Waldeck-Rousseau took but a
limited personal interest. M. Delcasse's experience
at the Quai d'Orsay in the three preceding cabinets,
though it had only lasted a year, seemed to him the
best available. But I always understood that he
insisted on all the members of his cabinet referring to
him before taking any decisions of a political character,
and that the President was left no discretion at all.

The announcement in August, 1901, that the Czar
and Czarina were about to pay a visit to France sur-
prised everybody, and the emphasis with which it
was officially stated that they were coming in response
to a personal letter of invitation, sent by the President
of the Republic during the absence of the Prime
Minister, that the invitation conveyed had been to
" be present at the conclusion of the manoeuvres " in
the neighbourhood of Rheims, that they would be
entertained at the Palace of Compiegne 1 and be
saluted on arrival at Dunkirk by the Channel fleet,
seemed to cover some truth which the public would
not appreciate or some diplomatic manoeuvre which
had to be disguised.

It was whispered that the Czar had invited himself
to make up for his not having visited the Exhibition
the previous year, but that the date had been so
chosen as to avoid the need of receiving His Majesty

1 Their Majesties arrived on their yacht at Dunkirk on September 18,
1901, where they were met by the President and the French Channel fleet.
From Dunkirk they travelled with the President to stay three days at
Compiegne. When the Czar visited Paris in 1895 he stayed at the Russian



in Paris, and that the President had shouldered the
responsibility to shelter the Prime Minister, in case
any parliamentary incident should arise out of it.

Certain it is that no more unpropitious moment
could have been chosen to entertain the Russian
monarch ; nor did the visit serve any purpose. In
Paris the Nationalist and Socialist forces were in no
mood to co-operate in the reception of a monarch who
was the ideal of the one and the abomination of the
other. And this was no theoretical fear, seeing that
several resolutions were adopted at Socialist meetings
requesting all right-thinking people to abstain from
manifestation in honour of " the Russian despot."
So great was the official dread of effervescence that
the Government was announced to intend taking the
precaution of posting troops along the whole length
of the railway track from Dunkirk to Compiegne.

I attended the review at Dunkirk as a guest of the
Northern of France Railway Company on board their
boat Le Nord. At the conclusion of the function all
the company's guests were conveyed back to Paris in
special trains by the ordinary route from Dunkirk,
whereas the Government party were to travel by the
specially guarded route to Compiegne. To the sur-
prise of everybody — our party was composed of
Senators, Deputies, high officials, and journalists — our
train was suddenly shunted to make way for two
special trains, and we saw the Imperial guests and
their entertainers speeded by our route instead of by
the specially guarded one ! Everybody exclaimed : —
" C'est Lepine qui a du combiner ca ; il est fort ! "
M. Lepine was the dexterous and indefatigable Prefet
de Police who recently, after years of service in the
most delicate of administrative posts, retired from it



to devote himself to the study of the economic con-
ditions of France, which have always been the pet
subject of any leisure he could command. Unlike
Waldeck-Rousseau, whose hobby was landscape paint-
ing, or M. Leon Bourgeois, whose hobby is sculpture, 1
M. Lepine's delight is moral and economic statistics.
Some day this remarkable man, who is still within the
prime of his life, may turn his unrivalled knowledge
of the social conditions of Paris to the production of
some work which will bear comparison with Mr.
Charles Booth's priceless researches among the con-
ditions of London life.

1 M. Leon Bourgeois' work in sculpture is quite remarkable. Nothing
could be more touching than a figure of a seated girl in distress with her
long hair flowing over her fingers which he presented to a friend of mine
on her marriage.




At the end of 1901 I had a serious disappointment.
The British Chamber of Commerce seceded from the
agitation. My successor as president, Mr. W. C.
Robertson, had more trust in Sir Edmund Monson's
speeches than I had, and, anyhow, the annual
banquets could not be suspended until he retired.
In December, 1901, Sir Edmund had his chance again,
and again in his speech at the Chamber of Commerce
banquet he struck a false note. That would not have
mattered much. But, when I presented a petition in
favour of the Treaty for signature by the Chamber of
Commerce, Mr. Robertson pointed out to me that the
chamber could not afford to estrange the Ambassador
and the chamber would have henceforward to keep
aloof from the Anglo-French movement. This was a
great loss, and, till the King's visit was announced,
the chamber took no further part in it.

Shortly after Sir Edmund Monson's speech, in
which he had thrown cold water on the effort to bring
about a rapprochement by means of a standing Treaty
of Arbitration, I met M. Delcasse at Baron Pierre de
Coubertin's. The occasion was a reception in honour
of my old friend, Sir Charles Dilke, and his newly
married wife.

" Vous n'etes pas decourage ? " asked M. Delcasse.

" Le moins du monde."

M. Delcasse repeated his fear that I should find the
British Government sceptical and the people hostile.

t.y. 209 p



A couple of months later I mentioned this in
London to M. Cambon. He confirmed more or less
the view M. Delcasse had expressed, and it was no
doubt true at the outset of the agitation when Lord
Salisbury still presided at the Foreign Office. He and
M. Delcasse had also been Foreign Ministers of their
respective countries at the time of the Fashoda affair,
and I think I am not divulging a State secret when I
say that the tactics of Lord Salisbury, in forcing France
to a rapid denoument of the incident by hastily pub-
lishing the correspondence on the subject, and exciting
British public opinion before the French Government
had time to attune French public opinion to a pacific
settlement, was still resented. Lord Salisbury had no
faith in Anglo-French friendship, and the spirit of his
policy still continued to dictate the attitude of
Downing Street after his surrender of the Foreign
Secretaryship to Lord Lansdowne in 1900, and until
1902 when he finally withdrew from office and handed
over the reins of government to Mr. Balfour. It was
therefore rather Lord Salisbury's views than those of
the new Foreign Secretary that the well-wishers of
the entente sought to ascertain during the first year of
agitation. A diplomatic inquiry resulted in one of
those ironical, half-jocular fins-de-non-re cevoir of the
late Lord which made further discussion impossible.
His answer, while jovial in tone, was as laconic as it
was emphatic. " C'est de l'utopie ! " and there the
matter ended. M. Delcasse repeated the answer to
me as a proof of the hopelessness of trying to conciliate

On July 12, 1902, Lord Salisbury finally retired
from office and Lord Lansdowne had thenceforward



practically a free hand under a Prime Minister who
was not likely to be a drag on the initiative of his

In the previous May I had written to Lord Lans-
downe and Sir Edmund Monson, sending them a
printed report I had issued respecting the progress of
the movement.

Sir Edmund Monson I thought might now show
more sympathy with a movement which he had
affected to regard merely as an arbitration " fad."
He could no longer, like Lord Salisbury, consider an
entente impossible.

His interesting reply, however, was confined to the
question of arbitration.

His opinion he said had always been that the Con-
vention which was rejected by the U.S. Senate was
not simple enough, and that as long as human nature
remained what it was, such a Convention as desired
would have to contain the " tiers arbitre " pro-

He was convinced that the Venezuela Board of
Arbitration would have been broken up re infecta %
had not a Russian been added to the British and
American members.

Some day the reign of universal impartiality and
righteousness might set in, and persons be found who
would venture to set equity before national pride.
Meanwhile, he did not believe in arbitration without
the " tiers arbitre," pace the authors of the abortive
treaty, which seemed stultified by the recognition of
the eventual necessity of having recourse to the
good offices of the King of Sweden.

I wrote at the same time to Lord Lansdowne, whose
reply was very different — so different that I took it at

211 P 2


once to the Quai d'Orsay and showed it to M. Delcasse,
who then and there instructed M. Cambon in accord-
ance with the feeling expressed in it.

Lord Lansdowne wrote on May 20 from Bowood
as follows : —

" I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter of May 17
enclosing a copy in English of your Note on the proposal for
a permanent Treaty of Arbitration between this country and

" Lord Alverstone has spoken to me on several occasions
of this movement and of the part which you have taken in it,
and I shall be glad to receive you on my return to London.
Meanwhile I can only express my entire concurrence in your
belief that whatever may be the ultimate fate of the proposal,
its discussion in a friendly spirit can do nothing but good."

# # # # #

Throughout the second year of my campaign I
devoted all my energies to carrying out my plan of
action. I kept the Press so busy with articles on the
entente, with resolutions in its favour by chambers of
commerce, municipal corporations, trade unions, etc.,
with meetings and speeches I delivered throughout
the two countries, with local committees formed, with
interviews, etc., that not a day passed but the public
had something to digest on the subject. In most
cases I submitted a model form which was the result
of much consideration by others besides myself.
Both Lord Chief Justice Alverstone and my late
friend, Mr. Montague Crackanthorpe, K.C., one of
our best draftsmen, gave me the benefit of their advice
upon it, and it may be regarded as a statement of
the Anglo-French case which commended itself with
singular effect to the British practical mind. I may
safely say that it summed up and defined the objects
of all the unofficial world of England who joined in



the agitation, and, as will be seen below, this meant
every class and manner of men in the Kingdom.
The model form in question was as follows : —

" i. Considering that Great Britain and France have
common interests of a commercial and industrial kind, the
prosperity of which is dependent upon the preservation of
peace between them ; and

" 2. Whereas France is the nearest neighbour of the British
Isles, and war between two countries so situated must
inevitably produce, whatever its ultimate result might be,
disastrous consequences for both of them ; and

" 3. Whereas British and French colonial possessions and
dependencies touch in most parts of the globe, and the peaceful
and friendly development of intercourse between them is for
their mutual benefit ; and

" 4. Whereas difficulties and contentions must necessarily
arise between two peoples who are so often brought into
rivalry, and it is desirable that some means be employed to
prevent such difficulties and contentions from again assuming
the dangerous character they have several times assumed in
recent years ; and

Online LibraryThomas BarclayThirty years, Anglo-French reminiscences (1876-1906) → online text (page 15 of 29)