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coaxed and wheedled other nations into treaties by
which they always profited. It was they against
whom all Europe and their own colonies were closing
their frontiers. England had protected her manu-
factures and her shipping till she had prepared them
to crush the rest of the world and then she had
instituted Free Trade." (Immense applause.) He
asked whether with all the rest of the world closed
against England, France was to be left to cope with
her single-handed. " England did all the carrying
trade for France. You scarcely saw a French flag on
a vessel coming into port now. . . . Did the English
drink French wine in return ? " And amid great
laughter he calculated that the English only drank
about a bottle of wine per head per annum ! Other
speakers followed on the same strain. England was
at the bottom of all the industrial ills from which

4 1



THIRTY YEARS

France was suffering. France was the only market
into which English surplus manufactures could be
dumped and so on. Before long, if not protected,
France, like Portugal, would become a mere source of
raw materials for the supply of England's industries. 1
Truly indeed does history repeat itself ! Verbum
sap. !

Amid the growing ill-feeling, even the eloquence of
the then mighty Gambetta appealed to common sense
in vain. His power for good was already being under-
mined by the jealousy of his own political group, of
the very men whose political fortunes he had made,
and by M. Grevy' s distrust of him. It was a distrust
which M. Grevy could neither explain nor overcome,
and was quite unreasonable because his ministers were
necessarily Gambetta's friends ; no others could
command a majority in the Chamber. They were
all being used up one after another, for in those days,
when the spoils of office were still abundant, to take
office was to make enemies of thousands of dis-
appointed men. The time, therefore, was coming when
M. Grevy in the last resort would have to call upon
Gambetta himself to form a cabinet, and in 1881 it
was an open secret that the year would not close
without the long-expected Gambetta Ministry coming
into office.

At that time it was in quite sincere anticipation of
its greatness that the coming Gambetta Administra-

1 I indignantly concluded my article in The Times on this subject with
the remark that " no gentleman present seemed to be aware that France
exported more to England than England to France ; nor did anybody seem
to imagine that French exports might be affected by other countries
abandoning the false principles M. Pouyer-Quertier denounced, and
indeed . . . the speakers showed no particular acquaintance with the
details of the question at issue " (The Times, May i, 1879).

42



ANTI-ENGLISH SYMPTOMS

tion was called " le grand ministere" a cabinet in
which Gambetta would be supported by the Repub-
lican leaders, for they were practically all of his
making, and those who had already held office had
held it only by the grace of his support.

In September and October I accompanied Gam-
betta on his two famous expeditions to Normandy,
where he was treated as if he were again a dictator
able to dispense favours, build docks, construct
railways, bridges, schools, and distribute public
money according to no other dictate but that of his
private inclination.

The rivalry of Rouen, which, with truly Norman
pertinacity, was agitating for the canalisation of the
Seine to enable ocean-going vessels to discharge their
cargoes without breaking bulk at its quays, and Havre,
which, with truly Norman obstinacy, was opposing the
project on grounds which were undisguisedly selfish,
divided the thriving department of Seine-Inferieure
into hostile camps. Gambetta needed all the arts of
his fertile brain to steer between these dangerous
rocks. When he took over the reins of government,
both sides of his Norman supporters thought every
grievance would have its chance of being righted !
The very exaggeration of people's expectations was
among the causes of his failure. Even Englishmen
indulged a hope that his accession to office would
promote good Anglo-French relations, especially that
it would preserve the existing Anglo-French com-
mercial regime, any disturbance of which could only
fro tanto be a loss to the British industries concerned.
For Gambetta was a Free Trader. In his speech at
Honfleur he asked what would be the use of new docks
and new railways, " of creating means of transport

43



THIRTY YEARS

and exchange and intercommunication, if markets
were not opened up, especially if the old ones were not
kept open, if a commercial were not added to the
industrial policy." " I think you are strong enough,"
he added, " ingenious enough, bold enough, and, at
the same time, experienced and prudent enough, to
face competitionjwith the nations surrounding us."
This pronouncement in favour of ratifying the renewed
treaties France had been negotiating in spite of M.
Pouyer-Quertier, was full of promise.

In the following month (November, 1881) M. Grevy
sent for Gambetta and committed to him the forma-
tion of the expected ministry. " Le President l'a
roule " was the comment which went round the
parliamentary corridors. Gambetta's chief political
friends had all been in office, and all now had their own
following. He could secure for it none of them, and
had to choose his colleagues from a generation of
younger and comparatively untried men. Yet that
among them were Waldeck-Rousseau and Rouvier
showed he had la main juste as usual. Le grand
minister e, as his jealous opponents now, in the fulness
of their ironical gaiety, called it more than ever, had
not the support of the majority, and after two months
of futile effort Gambetta laid down office with a
bitter feeling of disappointment. He who had made
M. Grevy' s ministries, who was the virtual dictator
when out of office, was unable to command a majority
when in office himself. It is true that Gambetta's
faculties had been trained in opposition, and it is a
political platitude to say that a brilliant opposition
leader is not necessarily the best man to manage a
nation's affairs, but Gambetta's failure in office was
due to the opposition of his quondam friends.

44



ANTI-ENGLISH SYMPTOMS

The strain of his parliamentary, combined with his
journalistic life — for he was editor of the Republique
francaise — was telling on him.

His hair was already grey, though he was but
forty-three years of age, and the bad state of his health
was evident from the blotches which now began to
disfigure his handsome face.

Gambetta had been too near the misfortunes of his
country, too near the national suffering, which he had
seen not only in detail but in its ensemble, to favour
new adventures. Peace to him seemed a means of
redemption in the social order of things, and of greater
value to France than even the glory of a successful
revanche. In his declaration (November 15, i88f) to
the Chambers on assuming office, he even went the
length of stating that a part of the new cabinet's
policy would be to take up and complete without loss
of time the subject of seeking the best method, without
compromising the defensive strength of France, of
reducing the military and naval charges weighing
upon the nation.

This was the Radical feeling generally at that time.
His adversary, M. Clemenceau, had been still more
clamorous for a reduction of the military burdens.
The programme to which he appended his signature
in the eighteenth arrondissement of Paris for which
he was elected included not only a reduction of the
period of military service, but the substitution of a
national militia for the permanent army.

Men's minds have changed since then !

# # # # #

Gambetta was altogether a fascinating figure.
In private conversation there was even a fascina-
tion in his frank avowal of ignorance. He made no

45



THIRTY YEARS

pretence of having knowledge he did not possess, and
never apologised for putting elementary questions.
While the Sugar Conference was sitting, I was near
him one night when he was conversing with one
of the Dutch delegates who was visibly astonished
at Gambetta's asking him what kind of government
the Netherlands possessed, and a number of other
questions which showed that Gambetta had not had
time to get up the subject of Holland. He had a
habit of writing up his facts in a fine handwriting
on a square sheet of paper. M. Joseph Reinach has
given me a photograph of one of these prepared for
some speech on government in which he was referring
to English institutions. It runs as follows : —

" L'Angleterre et le Pays de Galles se divisent en 52 Comtes,
Paroisses, Bourgs incorpores.

" i° Le Comte par son etendue repond a peu pres a nos
cantons.

" 2° Le Bourg est une espece de commune qui tient d'un
acte du Parlement ou d'une Charte Royale le droit de s'ad-
ministrer et meme de se gouverner.

" 3° LaParoisse n'est a proprementparlerpas unepersonne
politique. Sa fonction est de repartir entre les habitants les
impots votes par un pouvoir superieur et d'entretenir les
routes.

" Les principales autorites du Comte sont : Juge de Paix,
Sherif, Lord Lieutenant, Le gardien des roles, Le Greffier de
Paix, Les Coroners,

Aucun n'est electif.

" Comment la liberte s'introduit-elle done dans la vie locale
de l'Angleterre ? "

Observe the shrewdness of his final remark.

M. Joseph Reinach acted for some time as his
political secretary, and has many interesting things
to tell of his great friend and his great friend's
friends.



ANTI-ENGLISH SYMPTOMS

The story of Gambetta's one great love attachment
has been made known to the world in a series of letters
of touching beauty, and many romantic legends have
grown up around it. The complete truth is known
only to M. Joseph Reinach. Gambetta met Mme.
Leonie Leon at the house of the Duchesse de Bell-
court, whose son, an attache in the diplomatic service,
was a friend of Gambetta's. Gambetta fell madly in
love with her. On a ring he gave her he had the old
French motto engraved :

Hors cet annel 'point rCest amour.

She never parted with it, and his love never waned.
I have M. Reinach's authority for saying that after
refusing again and again to marry him, she con-
sented a couple of months before his death to become
his wife, but the ceremony was deferred until it was

too late.

* # # # #

Justice has not yet been done fully to Gambetta's
political insight into the needs and character of the
French people. Yet the chief lines of Republican
policy, as he forecast it, have been followed out, and
are still being followed out by his countrymen at the
present day. He is said to have had Jewish blood in
his Provencal-Etrurian veins — a subtle and powerful
mixture on which it would be hard to improve. He
was lively, almost boisterous, witty yet good-
natured, in spite of his eloquent diatribes forgiving
and gentle, and, like a true child of the South, he had
a childish love of the pageantry of power. I noticed
it again and again when with him in Normandy.

His delight in drums and uniforms and ceremony
came out when he was President of the Chamber of

47



THIRTY YEARS

Deputies. One day when I was in the lobby the
President passed to take his seat au pas militaire with
drums in front and surrounded by a military escort.
It was quite stirring. A Deputy moving out of the
way to make room said to another, paraphrasing the
well-known joke about notaries ; " Pour etre un bon
President, il ne suffit pas d'etre un mediocre saltim-
banque, il faut de la tenue ! "

I don't know whether it was Gambetta who intro-
duced the drum, etc., but it was very effective and a
fairly good substitute for our own ceremony of the
Speaker proceeding to the bar of the House of Lords.

After he retired from office Gambetta was never the
same man again. His manner became almost apolo-
getic. He felt that his quondam followers needed him
no more, even found it safer to do without him, for
his had been the fate of the prophet of whom miracles
were expected, and he had done nothing to startle
those who had counted on a sort of millennium when
the grand ministere set to work.

■Jv* •Jr *Jr -It* •B*

The political milieu in which I found myself at that
time chuckled with glee over President Grevy's
victory. To M. Grevy Gambetta seemed a charlatan,
and he regarded the exposure of his charlatanism by
the failure of the grand ministere as a service rendered
to his country.

In the Paris office of The Times, also, there was
little sympathy for Gambetta except my own.
Blowitz, an ardent Catholic, resented Gambetta's
anti-clerical policy, as well as the well-known
reference to him in the Republique francaise, as
" Juif, slav, catholique et decore." Nevertheless, in
the interest of The Times, he approached Gambetta

4 8



ANTI-ENGLISH SYMPTOMS

on several occasions. In his " Memoirs " he refers
to these. Mr., and afterwards his wife Mrs. Emily,
Crawford, the correspondent of the Daily News,
which was the leading organ of English Liberalism of
that time, kept up, as Gambetta's personal friends, a
sort of feud in which they were as strongly hostile
10 Blowitz as Gambetta's paper, a feud which
persisted till many years after Gambetta's death,
when as the friend of both, I was the means of
bringing it to an end.

Gambetta's character was essentially derived from
the Italian middle-class side of his family tree. Any
one who has any acquaintance with the Etrurian
peasantry will be reminded by Gambetta's senti
mentalism, buoyant good humour, indifference to
wealth, enjoyment of his own vitality and glorious
voice, of the peasants and petty bourgeoisie who come
together in the evening to hear an entertainer who
ives them no more thrilling amusement than the
recitation in sonorous tones of grandiloquent verses
of popular poets not excluding Dante. Amid the
people of Provence he was quite at home. In the
north he felt himself an alien, and schemers for place
were more than a match for him who never schemed
for any selfish purpose. " Mefiez-vous d'un bordelais
roux," somebody said to him when he was trusting
one of his followers, a very distinguished man who
soon supplanted him when his star began to wane.

There was something childish in the pleasure it gave
Gambetta to meet the Prince of Wales privately as a
personal friend in 1877, but I do not agree with Mme.
Adam that it was the Prince's influence that affected
his convictions in regard to foreign affairs. His
peasant common sense more than any alien arguments,

T.Y. 49 E



THIRTY YEARS

I feel sure, determined his leaning to a policy of
conciliation and peace. Besides, he, least of all men,
could be suspected of weak-kneed patriotism. He it
was who said, " Pensons-y toujours, n'en parlons
jamais " ; though this did not prevent his going to
Germany more than once, and I firmly believe he
hoped some day to see French feeling about Alsace-
Lorraine become mild enough to facilitate an under-
standing with her. At the same time in co-operation
with England, he saw a horizon of greater national
self-confidence for France and a possible medium of
bringing Western Europe to a normal condition of
peace and amity.

* # # * #

M. Grevy was a quiet unostentatious man who
hated all fussiness and pose. Chess was his favourite
recreation, and good players he had met in the old
days at the Cafe de la Regence, the rendezvous of
chess-players, were still admitted to a game with
him after he had become the chief of the State. In
conversation he had the knack of knocking out the
bottom of an argument, when its exponents had
nothing more to say, with a terse but courteous
observation. At cabinet meetings it was well known
that he never attempted to impose any view of
his own, and yet always got his own way. By
appropriate observations he destroyed all other
suggestions one after another, and left alone open
the course he wished to be followed. He had a
habit of peering into men's characters rather than
their views and ideas, which he believed he could
divine if he knew their character. The hand was a
barometer which gave him his first impressions of the
inner man. Hence his habit of holding everybody's

50



ANTI-ENGLISH SYMPTOMS

hand for a few moments in his. He distrusted fat,
soft hands in men.

M. Grevy, who, by the way, was never referred to
as Grevy tout court, once told me he had been very
much impressed by an English solicitor who had come
over to Paris on a case in which he had been retained.
M. Grevy thought him the ablest and wisest man he
had ever met, but he could not remember his name.
I thought from the circumstances that it must have
been Sir John Hollams, who afterwards told me he
had, in fact, been engaged in a case with M. Grevy.
Sir John, when I spoke to him of this, was a very old
man, but I remember him as he was in the prime of
life, and can quite understand the impression he
produced in the handling of a complicated matter.



51 E 2



CHAPTER IV



EGYPT



The anti-English irritation in connection with
Egypt, occasioned by Lord Beaconsfield's purchase
of the Khedive's holding in the Suez Canal, showed no
signs of abating. In subsequent events, despite their
conciliatory appearance, French politicians saw only
a disguised intention on the part of the British Govern-
ment, gradually to get the upper hand and reduce
France in Egypt to the same secondary position as
that of other States in that country. The " counter "
policy, as a French writer expressed it in 1881,
necessarily became one of " multiplying obstacles to
the advance of British policy, and for this purpose of
supporting the Egyptian Nationalist Party, whose
claims had served as a pretext to Ismail Pasha to
start on the series of intrigues which brought about
his deposition. This party, if granted discreet but
effective assistance, offered a basis for a complete
political system in which France, being less dangerous
than England for Egypt, would have acquired a great
moral authority." - 1

These ideas were in fact those which the French
consul-general at Cairo, M. de Ring, was endeavouring
to carry out.

In 1878. M. Fournier, then French ambassador at

1 Andre Daniel, "Annee Politique," 1881, p. 248. England, predicted
this acute observer, would nevertheless gradually absorb Egypt to
guarantee for her ships safe navigation in the Suez Canal (1882, p. 32).

52



EGYPT

Constantinople, whom I met at Chenonceaux when
on a visit to Mme. Pelouze, told me that much as he
appreciated the fine, straightforward qualities of
English diplomatists, English diplomacy was a harsh,
self-seeking system which rode rough-shod over the
feelings and aspirations of all who had the misfortune
to cross the path traced for it towards an always
specific goal. Still, like the French commissioner,
M. de Blignieres, he regarded the maintenance of
the dual control and steady co-operation with England
as in the true interest of France. This was also
Gambetta's view, and when after the bombardment of
Alexandria, from which the French fleet withdrew by
orders of M. de Freycinet, Gambetta's successor at
the Foreign Office, the progress of events forced
France to decide whether she would vote the neces-
sary money to enable her to join England in the
action events were precipitating, he delivered a
speech on the subject of Anglo-French co-operation
in which the following passage marked his unwavering
trust in this co-operation : —

" When I behold Europe," he said, " this Europe
which has bulked so largely to-day in the speeches
delivered from this tribune, I observe that for ten
years there has always been a Western policy repre-
sented by France and England, and allow me to say
that I do not know of any other European policy
capable of helping us in the direst emergencies which
may arise. What I say to you to-day I say with a
deep sense of a vision of the future."

I was present at the debate and heard the half-
hearted approval given to the above utterance of the
grand tribun and even disdainful disapproval muttered
when he spoke of his vision of the future. The lion

53



THIRTY YEARS

in him was roused. " Let those who interrupt me,"
he thundered, " come here and state their reasons for
thinking that my word is without honour in the domain
of foreign affairs. I am entitled to say that, before
as since the war of 1870, I have never had a more
constant anxiety, and believe me an anxiety superior
to all personal and party interests, than that of the
safety of our country, and I should despise myself
and never raise my voice again to speak in this House
if I were capable of balancing anything against its
future and its greatness."

There was a moving pathos and a true ring of
sincerity in these words, and cheers burst from the
whole assembly. The sincerity of Gambetta's
patriotism had been questioned by some of his now
numerous enemies, and party capital made out of
his visits to Germany and an alleged intercourse with
that arch-enemy of France, Prince Bismarck. The
key-note which could set all the organs of his oratory
vibrating had been struck, and when Gambetta shook
back his rebellious hair and gathered his faculties for
an effect nothing could resist him. The words would
gush forth too fast for premeditation, his voice without
hoarseness or effort would dominate the hall, and when
he had fired his last charge, a few breathless moments
of intense silence would pass before the assembled
listeners could find their voices again to cheer, as I
have never heard man cheered before or after him.
When one reads Gambetta's speeches, one is struck by
their want of depth. Though it was he who laid down
the main lines of the Republican policy which has ever
since been consistently followed, his speeches are not
literature or masterpieces of eloquence. Gambetta's
power as an orator lay in his perfect and simulta-

54



EGYPT

neous command over all his faculties of mind and
body, and in his power to marshal them all and at
once to the effort. His rich masculine diction and
noble gesture and his obvious sincerity and spontaneity
forced the admiration of his bitterest foes though it
failed to convince them.

Recently I heard similar eloquence in Spain among
elder politicians. In the present age, it seems merely
to strike the listener as a belated survival. But any-
thing that reminds me of Gambetta's eloquence, as
did that of my old friend, Rafael M. de Labra,
still stirs me, and I am not sure that the world is
better for being unable to enjoy the music, manner,
and massive expression of the Gladstones, the Gam-
bettas, the Castelars, who flourished in the youth
of my generation.

With this last speech relating to Anglo-French
affairs Gambetta passes beyond the scope of the
present volume. On the last day of the same year
at midnight he died. If man can die of a broken heart,
or ingratitude can break the heart of man, Gambetta
had every reason to die. Posterity has not yet
realised all the greatness of a statesman who some
day will certainly be ranked among the wisest and
the noblest of the creative political geniuses of his

country.

# * # # #

A large majority in both Houses gave M. de Frey-
cinet the necessary money to put the fleet in readiness
for action, but when he asked for further money to
use it for the protection of the Suez Canal, M. Clemen-
ceau's incisive and ironical eloquence turned the
majority round. The vote was lost and the govern-
ment defeated.

55



THIRTY YEARS

Lord Granville can only have rejoiced at this result,
as in fact he seems to have done. 1 Indeed, it is
difficult to imagine what would have ensued, had the
two Powers required to adjust their claims on Egyptian
territory. The Due de Broglie in the debate in the
Senate quoted Prince Bismarck as having compared
a joint Anglo-French occupation of Egypt to the
Austro-Prussian occupation of Schleswig-Holstein,
and cited Prince Metternich as having said that an
alliance with England was a very good thing ; so was
the alliance of a rider and his horse, " mais il faut
etre l'homme et non pas le cheval." He (de Broglie)
feared that France in any alliance with England
would not be the rider.

Be that as it may, France was counselled by her
most trusted advisers to abstain from taking any
share in the occupation of Egypt. Yet, she bitterly
resented the English invasion, and afterwards till the
entente enabled the parties to come to terms in 1904,
the British occupation of Egypt was the sorest of the
French grievances against England, a fact which was



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