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" 5. Whereas it seems certain that public irritation would be
less likely to be inflamed by international difficulties which
ordinary diplomacy may not have solved, if provision were
made for reference of such difficulties to a further stage of
consideration by which the danger of a deadlock might still
be averted ; and

" 6. Whereas the permanent Treaty for the adjustment of
differences between Great Britain and the United States,
signed on the 12th January, 1897, by the representatives of
the Governments of the two nations, providing for the
automatic reference of disputes of national importance to a
court composed of judges belonging exclusively to the two
nations themselves, seems adapted to supply what is required ;
and a tribunal so constituted would be a guarantee to the
general public that no vital national interest would be
imperilled by considerations of abstract justice or on purely
humanitarian grounds ; and

" 7. Whereas if such a Treaty was desirable as between
Great Britain and the United States, it must also be desirable
as between Great Britain and France, whose intercourse with
one another is still closer ; and

" 8. Whereas the present moment is propitious on both sides

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THIRTY YEARS

of the Channel for the conclusion of such a Treaty for (say)
a period of five years, and much authoritative opinion is
clearly in its favour ;

" This records its approval of the proposal

to adopt some arrangement between this country and France
which would diminish the danger of the friction necessarily
arising from time to time from their intercourse."

Nothing in this resolution, it is seen, justified the
subsequent perversion by mischievous persons of the
\ objects of those who supported the agitation.

Never was there an idea among them of a joining
of forces against another Power. The rapprochement
had the exclusive and deliberate object of counter-
acting hostile tendencies between Great Britain and
France. Its sole object was to bury the hatchet
between them without arriere-pensee. Nor did any-
body in England imagine that it might ever be used as
leverage against a third Power. Even in France, the
only suggestion of a " pointe " against Germany was
an observation by M. de Pressense that the entente
would save England from joining the Triple Alliance.

Nor, as will be seen, did Germany till long after the
entente had become a fait accompli regard it as having
any character of hostility to herself.

By the time the King's visit to Paris was announced
in the spring of 1903, the support given to the move-
ment was overwhelming. 1 Apart from the resolution
of the Nottingham meeting of the Association of
Chambers of Commerce in 1901, twenty-seven British
chambers had discussed and passed special resolutions
on the subject. In France the number of chambers
which had discussed and passed special resolutions
reached the enormous number of forty-one, practically

1 See pp. 346 et seq.
214



FIGHTING FOR PEACE

the whole of commercial and industrial France. The
number of trade unions of Great Britain and Ireland
which had passed emphatic special resolutions was
thirty-five, representing 2,000,000 of British workers.
On the French side eighteen municipal councils had
adopted resolutions as emphatic as those of the British
trade unions. That peace societies should pass
resolutions in favour of the proposal almost went
without saying. Anyhow they reached the sub-
stantial figure of nineteen. The Society of Friends,
the representatives of the Jewish community in
England, the Methodists had all passed resolutions
supporting it. Special agitation committees had been
formed in nine cities and others were in course of
formation. The movement had the support of all the
leading statesmen out of office of the two countries,
of all the greatest British judges and lawyers and
historians, of the leading men in the universities,
etc., etc. 1

In short, the movement had the support of every
representative institution, body, and person who could
be regarded as expressing the national opinion of
Great Britain and France, and Lord Lansdowne could
truly say, as he did in his despatch to Sir Edmund
Monson of April 8, 1904, forwarding the agreements
between Great Britain and France, that " such a
settlement was notoriously desired on both sides of
the Channel."

The upper classes, however, were still unconvinced.

One day in London, while I was in the thick of daily
meetings, I met a past member of the British Embassy,
and in our few minutes' conversation referred to its
curious indifference to the movement. He told me

1 See Appendix VII.
215



THIRTY YEARS

I was putting the blame on the wrong back, adding
" it is here they are against you." We were talking
in the midst of that unique quarter of the British
Empire where mind, money, and well-made clothes
read the evening papers together at tea-time, " Club-
land." My friend seemed to think this fatal, and
when, in a fine vein of sarcasm, I said I should have
abandoned hope had it been otherwise, he dubbed
me an incorrigible optimist.

" Don't dream," he added, speaking of the Foreign
Office, " that public opinion daunts officials ; they
can do no wrong."

" What does then ? "

" It is difficult to say. Questions in the House of
Commons they hate. Letters to The Times worry
them. But not even an earthquake that laid Downing
Street in ruins would make them tremble."

" Are you against me too ? "

" No, I am with you ; but what of that ? Club-
land is the class of the Executive."

" Clubland is a brake, and the man in charge can
turn it off and on as he chooses."

" Do you think you have convinced him ? "

" I don't think he requires to be convinced."



216



CHAPTER XIX

THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

In my speech at the spring meeting of the Associated
Chambers of Commerce in 1900 giving the invita-
tion to meet in Paris in the autumn, I laid particular
stress on the popularity of the Prince of Wales, who
was president of the British section at the forthcoming
Exhibition.

On the same occasion I called, at the suggestion of
very important French friends, on Lord Knollys with
a view to sounding the Prince as to how an invitation
to visit the Exhibition would be viewed. I was
authorised on behalf of my friends to give His Royal
Highness an emphatic assurance that he would receive
a most hearty and respectful welcome, and that, owing
to his popularity in Paris, his visit would certainly give
an impetus to the restoration of Anglo-French friend-
ship. That my friends and I were right was shown
afterwards by the extraordinary keenness of the
welcome given to the Chambers of Commerce.

When I called back, Lord Knollys informed me
that His Royal Highness thought he must follow the
counsel of the Crown's accredited advisers, and that
these advisers took quite a different view from mine
and that of my French friends as to the state of feeling
in France. I might take it that an invitation would
have to be declined.

When, therefore, early in the spring of 1903 the

217



THIRTY YEARS

rumour appeared in the French papers that the King
intended shortly to pay a visit to Paris, I concluded that
the Crown's accredited advisers had changed their
minds or that the King had taken the decision into
his own hands, which I understand, as a fact, was
the case.

The same morning I telephoned M. Combarieu, the
President's private secretary, to ascertain whether the
statement in the Press entre-filet was correct. He
replied that it was, and added that I should come
round and see the President about it.

I must confess that I had misgivings about the
expediency of a visit to Paris. To visit the Exhibi-
tion as Prince of Wales, president of the British
Section, was a very different proposition from
visiting Paris as King of England. Paris, unlike
the provinces, was still in the throes of a violent
antagonism between the reactionary and the progres-
sive forces of that lively city. Under the Republic,
in fact, it has ceased to lead public opinion as it used
to do, and its supremacy in this respect has not only
been challenged, but displaced by the great provincial
centres like Lille, Lyons, Havre, Rouen, Dijon, Mar-
seilles, Bordeaux, Nancy, etc., which have successfully
vindicated their political and intellectual indepen-
dence. The entente had been ardently and success-
fully championed throughout provincial France. In
Paris, on the other hand, the fierce political anti-
Semitic passions, which had developed into an over-
sensitive patriotism, had not yet calmed down. Even
the Chamber of Commerce of the capital had not
yet dared to submit a resolution in favour of the
movement, though it had welcomed the British
Chambers of Commerce in 1900 and M. Fumouze,

218



THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

its vice-president, was one of its most active
partizans.

# # # # #

The President's private study was at the end of a
series of rooms devoted to the secretarial staff. There
was an unmistakable air of satisfaction, and I was
greeted as if the couronnement of our work had been
attained. The President said he was glad to have a
few words with me. I suggested that the visit ought
to be delayed till the following year, that is a year
later, but the President observed that this was
impossible. A personal friend of the King had
arranged the visit, and His Majesty himself wished it
to take place.

" I know the danger," he said, " but I shall send
for the leaders personally and point out to them that
the King of England is not a Sovereign to whose
charge the iniquities of any particular Government
can be laid, that the King has always been a friend of
France, and that, above all, France has a duty of
hospitality to perform as well as an interest to pro-
mote, the interest of peace between two peoples, who
in spite of occasional egarements on both sides,
represent all that is great and noble in the history of
mankind. I shall recommend the enthusiasts to be
moderate in their cheers and the disaffected to hold
their tongues. Et vous ? "

The question rather startled me.

" M. le President," I said, " I shall go to Scotland
and to the North of England and excite such a spirit
of Francophil public opinion there that Paris would
feel ashamed not to respond to it. The French will
see that the movement is not a mere class movement

219



THIRTY YEARS

in England, nor a mere Royal fad, but a movement of
the masses of the King's subjects."

Both plans were carried out. The King was
received without exaggerated warmth, without any
cries which could provoke a counter-manifestation.

The London correspondent of the Temps, M. Ch.
Schindler, who had just published his little book
on Ireland, and given me a copy dedicated to
" l'ouvrier le plus actif de V Entente Cordiale " accom-
panied me to Scotland, where the meetings, as I
anticipated, were enthusiastic. At Glasgow on the
20th, Edinburgh on the 22nd, Dundee on the 24th,
and Galashiels on the 27th of April, under the patron-
age of the chambers of commerce and assisted by all
the leading citizens of these four great centres, local
committees were formed for the promotion of the
Anglo-French entente. Before May 1, when the King
crossed to Paris, nobody could say that the visit was
a mere official parade or that the British public was
indifferent. The objectors had been silenced by
unchallengeable evidence.

As it was the chambers of commerce which had
taken the lead, it was to the British Chamber of Com-
merce in Paris that the King delivered his message
in the name of his people.



Anglo-French incidents now precipitated themselves
with an amazing velocity. As Lord Lansdowne in
his famous despatch to Sir Edmund Monson of April,
1904, truly said, " the King's visit gave a great
impetus to the movement."

I continued the series of my addresses in the North

220



THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

of England, at Leeds, Sheffield, and more especially
Manchester (May 6), where from the first the move-
ment had met with its most effective encouragement.
The speech I was privileged to deliver on that
occasion became a sort of manifesto. In the evening,
on my return to London, I saw long quotations from
it on the blackboard at the Reform Club and soon
found I had struck home. The following day Mr.
Ernest Beckett (now Lord Grimthorpe) sent me the
form of a question he proposed to put to the Prime
Minister on the subject.

Mr. Ernest Beckett from the first had been one of
the keenest supporters of the movement. He and
another keen supporter of it, Sir William Holland
(now Lord Rotherham), had called a meeting of
M.P.'s in a committee-room at the House of Com-
mons in the previous December (December 3, 1902)
to hear an address on the subject which they asked me
to deliver, and at it Ernest Beckett had presided.

In his question Mr. Beckett asked the First Lord
of the Treasury whether his attention had been called
to resolutions passed by chambers of commerce on
both sides of the Channel in favour of the conclusion
of a permanent Treaty of Conciliation between Great
Britain and France ; and, if so, whether, in view of
the friendly feeling now prevailing between the two
countries, His Majesty's Government would consider
the expediency of entering into the necessary pre-
liminaries to the negotiation of such a treaty.

Mr. Balfour replied : — " As the House is aware, the Govern-
ment have always been anxious that international disputes
should, if possible, be decided and appeased by arbitral
tribunals. My hon. friend uses the word ' conciliation,'
which, I think, is not the word used by the chambers of
commerce to which he refers. If we can do anything to

221



THIRTY YEARS

further that general policy in connection with France, we
should, of course, be glad to do so."

Mr. Beckett said that in all recent resolutions of
chambers of commerce the word " conciliation " had
been used.

In Mr. Beckett's original draft he had used the word
" arbitration," and it was at my suggestion that he
had substituted the term " conciliation." The Treaty
it was proposed should be taken as the model was, as
the reader knows, the Anglo-*A.merican Treaty, which
was rather a Treaty of conciliation than of arbitration,
as I had set out in an explanatory note among the
papers I was circulating on the subject. 1

Meanwhile (July 6 — 9) President Loubet paid his
return visit to London, and if any doubt had still
subsisted in the French mind as to the popularity of
the rapprochement in England it was now finally
dispelled.

I attended M. Loubet's reception at St. James's
Palace with Lord Reay, the chairman, Sir Donald
Mackenzie Wallace, and Mr. A. A. Gordon, hon.
secretary, on behalf of the Franco-Scottish Society
to pay our respects. M. Loubet, with that bonhomie
which made him so beloved, took my hand in his two
and gave it a most affectionate squeeze. How well
Frenchmen know how to put a volume into a geste !

•tF 'tr ?R* *Jr rjp

I cannot refrain here from saying a little more about
a man to whose independent and sagacious judgment
and true devotion to the cause of peace, as the key-

1 This note may not be without interest to those who think, as I do, that
there is no reason why a Treaty modelled on the new Anglo-American and
Franco-American Treaties should not for the same reason be concluded
between the two partners of America in the Treaties in question.

222



THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

stone of a nation's prosperity and liberty, the entente
owes more than the public has ever yet placed to his
credit.

M. Loubet owed his immense success with the
French people and influence over his ministers to
never having courted office — nay far from it — having
always had to be pressed into acceptance of it.

In retirement he has not followed the example of
the well-to-do of Paris, who, when not bound profes-
sionally to dwell in the neighbourhood of their sphere
of operations, move westwards towards the Arc de
Triomphe or beyond it to Passy, the Kensington of
the French capital. The French advocate, like his
confreres of Edinburgh, receives his clients and does
his professional work at his private abode, and no
practising advocate, in these circumstances, can reside
at any great distance from the Palais de Justice. M.
Loubet has remained within easy walking distance of
the Salle des Pas Perdus, where he was wont in toque
and gown to meet the many colleagues who had to
combine the practice of their profession with parlia-
mentary duties. In a spacious " apartment " in the
Rue Dante, amid the teeming life of one of the busiest
quarters of Paris, on the one hand, and nearly every-
thing else that counts in Paris, except fashion, on the
other, the ex-President, sprung from the people and
a man of the people, is passing his declining years,
for he is now seventy-five, when not enjoying
the tranquillity and solitude of the maternal home at
Montelimar. But he loves the noisy, bustling life of
working Paris, of which from his balcony he can watch
all the day's vicissitudes, from the early peasant carts,
rumbling in the small hours with their lofty loads of
vegetables for the market, till night, when the laughter

223



THIRTY YEARS

of belated students rings joyously through the deserted
streets and all is still again for a few hours.

I once asked Mme. Loubet if really the President
disliked being President, as he was reputed to do.
She answered laughingly : " Oui et non ! " He had
always longed to live in the country, and if he was in
office it was not because he was ambitious or wanted
it, but being there, il faut dire qu'il n'y est pas mal-
beureux. He told me himself, when he was still
President, that if he had any ambition it was to plead
another case at the Palais after he had ceased to be
President, just to show that an ex-President returns
to the ranks of those who elected him. He disliked
the idea that he should be either a sort of aristocrat
or an unemployable after he had held the highest
post in the national Magistrature.

A couple of years ago I had occasion to call on M.
Loubet, whom I had not seen since expiry of his
Presidency. He had cataract in one eye and had
practically lost the use of it, but he added with his old
buoyant gaiety that the other had gained power, and
with his one eye he was still a better shot than any
comrade of his own age.

As his left eye is gone, he had had a gun constructed
which, while fitting into his right shoulder, curves
round and brings trigger and sight to his good eye,
and his friends are always surprised to see the
pheasants go down in spite of his odd gun, his one
eye, and his ripe age.

From first to last, he told me, he had got everything
other men wanted because he did not want it. His
original dream had been to make a little money as an
advocate at Montelimar and farm his own little property
there. He had no vocation for politics, but half a

224



THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

century ago in the sixties, when the second Empire
was at the height of its prosperity and he still a very
young man, though full of democratic enthusiasm, he
had a fit of indignation at the manoeuvres of a Govern-
ment parliamentary candidate and threw himself into
the fight on the Republican side. He thus became
entangled with politics, and one fine day in 1876, to
keep out an undesirable candidate, he found himself
selected as the local favourite and was elected. This
brought him to the capital, where he joined the Paris
Bar and had a few cases, always waiting, however, for
a propitious moment to retire from the Chamber and
return to Montelimar. He was constantly trying to
wriggle out of the political network, but the longer he
remained in the Chamber the harder it became to
leave it. By way of compromise he determined to
stand as a candidate for the Senate, and in 1885 was
elected by the same district to the Senate, hoping
always to slip back to private life before long.

But he had not been a couple of years in the Senate
when he found himself obliged to accept office in the
cabinet, and then, worse, in 1892 found himself forced
into the presidency of the cabinet. An unrelenting
fate continued to persecute him, and the wretched
man in 1896 was elected president of the Senate
instead of leaving it. Again he was thwarted.

" It was a sad day," he said, " for my wife and me.
We accepted fate, but it was with la mort dans Vame"

While he was still president of the Senate, President
Felix-Faure suddenly died, and then the full measure
of misfortune overtook them ; he was elected to the
Elysee ! He had done his duty there, and so had his
wife, but they were glad it was over. Alas, they were
now too old to make up for a misspent life of honours

T.Y. 225 Q



THIRTY YEARS

and responsibility. Their ambition had been to
spend their middle age among their cattle and their
poultry, watching their crops ripen and their vineyards
thrive, and seeing the years in and out amid the glories
of the serene nature of the Dauphine !

M. Loubet's tribulations, however, have never
affected his good humour. I never knew a man
of more even temper or more kindly disposition,
and his success in London was phenomenal. King
Edward had a particular affection for him. His
Majesty had known him during his presidency of the
Senate, and a short time after he was elected to that
of the Republic, M. Loubet told me, the Prince of
Wales, as he then was, one day surprised him by
calling when passing through Paris incognito to
congratulate him.

" Je suis content de vous voir la," said the Prince.

" Moi pas ! " answered the President.

A few days after Mr. Beckett's question in Parlia-
ment I received the following letter from the hon.
secretary of the Commercial Committee of the House
of Commons : —

"March 21, 1903.

" Dear Sir, — I should deem it a great kindness if you would
inform me, on behalf of my committee for whom I write, as
to the position and status in Parliament of the Baron
d'Estournelles de Constant, as it has been suggested that he
and members of his group in Parliament should visit our
Commercial Committee and address them on his subject from
a commercial point of view. You will appreciate that as a
non-partisan body of 160 members we naturally wish to
know exactly this gentleman's standing before we formally
send him an invitation.

" The committee have requested me to write you, and I will
lay before them your kind information on Tuesday next.

226



THE ENTENTE IN SIGHT

" Thanking you in anticipation, Yours very faithfully,
L. Sinclair, Hon. Secretary of the Commercial Committee of
the House of Commons."

In reply I gave the committee information which
led to a further letter thanking me " for the ample
and full information " I had given in regard to the
Baron. A further inquiry came on behalf of Sir
William Holdsworth and Sir William Holland asking
" whether I would advise the Commercial Committee
to invite him to give them an address." My advice
was strongly in favour of the invitation being sent.
The invitation was then sent in the following form : — ■

"House of Commons, June 13th, 1903.

" Dear Baron d'Estournelles de Constant, — The very
interesting announcement which has been made that a large
number of members of the French Parliament have constituted
themselves into a group under your presidency for the purpose
of making serious efforts to promote peace, whether by arbitra-
tion or by conciliation, has been received with sincere pleasure
in political and commercial circles in this country. An earnest
desire exists in Great Britain to cultivate the most friendly
relations with our nearest neighbour, the Republic of France,
and foster and consolidate by all means in our power the
commercial and other ties which connect the two countries,
and we welcome this opportunity of inviting members of
another Parliament to meet us for interchange of thought on
matters of deep interest for our mutual benefit.

" Beyond the brief reports which have reached us we are
unaware of the exact nature and character of your newly-
formed organisation, and it has occurred to us that if you, as
its president, accompanied by such of your colleagues as may
be able to come, would do us the great honour and service of
attending a gathering of members of the British Parliament, a
useful purpose would be served by such a meeting, and the
information that you would impart to us could not only be of
commercial advantage to both countries, but might help to
serve the noble cause you have in view. We are taking the
initiative in this matter on behalf of the Commercial Com-



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