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step. Why should the General have found it dangerous to
remain on the territory of the Republic ? We have an answer

1 See The Times, April 8, 1889.

98 '



BOULANGER'S BLUFF

to this query from one whose exaggerations are so notorious
that his readers are usually inclined to believe the opposite of
his statements, whatever they are. M. Rochefort, who has also
come to Belgium as a sort of minister in waiting on the General
on behalf of his party, accuses the Government point blank
of having projected the General's assassination. The General,
according to him, fled to save his life.

" In presence of the conflicting rumours afloat and general
curiosity to know the truth, I took advantage of being the
General's neighbour to invoke common friendships and beg
an audience, which was very courteously granted without
delay. I had never seen the General in person before, and
may mention for the instruction of those who are in the same
position as myself that his portraits do not represent his hair as
turning grey or his back as beginning to bend under the cares
of politics, and his approach as somewhat cold and even
slightly nervous. After a few minutes' conversation, however,
his reserve disappears, his manner becomes cordial, his features
animated, and your impressions more favourable generally.
His voice is pleasant and strong, and I should say from the
friendly though authoritative way in which he treats those who
have followed him into exile that he may even have a good
deal of that social fascination which a pretender to power needs
to keep his little Hat major well in hand. I said :

" ' General, you are aware that M. Rochefort states that you
have left France for fear of assassination. You do not mention
any such ground in your manifesto, so I suppose it does not
repose on a strong foundation ? '

" ' That I do not know,' replied the General hurriedly ;
■ of course M. Rochefort may have his reasons for saying so.
Personally I do not think there was any such project, and my
own immediate reason for leaving France was not fear of
assassination.'

" ' In your manifesto you say you have left France to avoid
appearing before the Senate ? '

" ' Certainly ! You do not suppose I would allow myself
to be tried by a tribunal composed of my openly-avowed
antagonists ? '

" ' But your leaving France before even you were indicted
would imply that you feared some immediate personal risk.'

" ' Quite so ! I was promised by one of those who were
bound to be au courant of the Government's projects (inas-
much as he was destined to be one of the instruments of
the execution of its orders), that he would warn me in

99 H 2



THIRTY YEARS

good time, and he kept his word, and told me orders had
been given for my arrest as I came out of the Chamber of
Deputies. I did not go to the Chamber of Deputies, and
took care to place myself beyond the reach of the Govern-
ment's agents.'

" ' What was the Government's object in seeking to make
a martyr of you ? '

" ' Their system was ingenious enough. Once within the
four walls of a cell, they would have employed devices to
keep me under detention. I should have been prevented
from communicating with my friends, from managing my
party, and they would probably by their stratagems have
kept me under lock and key till after the general election.'

" ' You think they could have strained the law to that
extent ? '

" ' I have no doubt of it. My friends felt the danger, and
have been advising me to put the frontier between me and the
Government for some days past.'

" ' Would you go back to France before the elections if you
were to appear before the ordinary Courts, as you seem to
imply in your manifesto ? '

" ' Yes, but of course only to appear at the trial. I have
done nothing, nothing whatsoever which is contrary to the
laws of the land. My conscience and my acts from first to
last are irreproachable, but I will only appear before the
Common Law Courts — that is, before the Court of Assize with
a jury, or before the Court of Appeal. You may not know
that as Grand Officer of the Ltgion d'Honneur I am entitled
to demand trial before the Court of Appeal as distingushed
from the Tribunal Correctionel.'

" ' How did it come about that the Government let you slip
after they had resolved on your arrest ? '

" General Boulanger paused a moment, walked up and
down the room, and smiled.

" ' Bouchez' resignation upset their calculations.' x

"'How so?'

" ' Bouchez was appointed under, if not by, M. Grevy. It
is possible that he took counsel of his patron. I was Minister
of War at the time.'

" < Well ? '

" ' Well, a little time elapsed before his successor was
appointed, and there was nobody to sign the warrant of arrest.'

1 M. Bouchez was public procurator of the Court of Appeal.
IOO



BOULANGER'S BLUFF

" ' And during the interval your movements could not be
interfered with ? '

" ' Just so.'

" ' Do you think M. Grevy advised M. Bouchez in your
interest ? '

" ' No, I don't think so. He may not have liked the pro-
cedure, and perhaps was not sorry that his own foes should
be defeated.'

" ' Then M. Bouchez' political feelings, you think, had
nothing to do with his resignation ? '

" ' No.'

" ' Will not your absence from France affect the result of
the elections ? '

" ' I don't think so. The result is certain already. And
the Government's action, when the facts are known, will
operate against it. I can control my party just as well from
here as from Paris.'

" ' What result do you expect ? '

" ' That 68 to 70 departments out of 86 will return candidates
favourable to me.'

" ' Then of course you will become President of the
Republic ? '

" ' Of course.'

" ' Will your party give pledges of particular constitutional
reform to the constituencies ? '

" ' If you mean will they go into details, No ! But they
will pledge themselves to constitutional reform generally.'

" ' What is your chief objection to the present Constitu-
tion ? '

" ' Oh, it is quite unworkable, contradictory, and unpopular.
Now, for instance, when Parliament wanted to get rid of
M. Grevy, the Constitution had to be violated. There was no
provision for such a contingency.'

" ' I thought you were in favour of something like the
Constitution of the United States, but you seem to me rather
in favour of curtailing than extending the President's
powers.'

" ' You want to know too much,' said the General, laughing.
' Come and talk over that next year in Paris. We must
reserve details. It would not do to court criticism of our
plans too soon.' "

# # # # #

When I returned to Paris I met a friend who

101



THIRTY YEARS

occupied an important post at the Prefecture of Police
and told him I had seen Boulanger at Brussels and
what the General had said about his having received
timely warning of the intentions of M. Constans, the
Minister of the Interior.

He laughed. We strolled into the Tuileries Gardens
and there he told me the real story. Things had been
getting rather hot for the Republicans, and Constans
determined to resort to a delicate and dangerous
stratagem to discredit Boulanger altogether in the
eyes of the public. One of the inspectors at the
Prefecture had been playing the part of informant
for Boulanger for some time past. He was sent off
to give Boulanger warning that he was about to
be arrested. Constans timed the warning to allow
Boulanger just the necessary hour or so to pack a few
necessaries together, jump into a cab, and catch the
6 o'clock train to Brussels. The shortness of the notice
gave him no time to confer with his friends and
advisers, one of whom M. Naquet, an astute though
idealistic Jew, might have seen through the trick.
Boulanger took flight and did exactly what was
expected of him.

M. Constans told the story himself with additions,
which lend it a more dramatic effect. The story he
used to tell at Constantinople, where he was shortly
afterwards appointed to the post of French ambas-
sador, and where, like an old general, he fought his
battles over again to an admiring staff and a few
habitues, was that he asked M. Clemenceau to invite
Boulanger to a conference with him for the purpose of
discussing a compromise. They met at Clemenceau's,
and, after an abortive controversy, Constans went to
Clemenceau's table and wrote out an order to the

102



BOULANGER'S BLUFF

Prefect of Police for Boulanger's arrest. While he
was writing Clemenceau by previous arrangement
was called away to the telephone. By arrangement
also he called out to Constans that it was he who
was wanted on the 'phone. Constans turned the
letter he was writing over on its face and joined
Clemenceau. Boulanger, suspicious of foul play,
turned it up, and, seeing it was an order for his arrest,
excused a hurried departure and decamped. His
Excellency was always ready to tell the story of his
successful strategem. I suppose he thought every
thing was fair in love, war, and diplomacy.

■M. Jb Jf. .«. Jfa

Boulanger, cabotin to the end, defeated, broken and
a failure, shot himself 1 over the grave, after a year's
mourning, of a poor lady who followed him into exile.
But here again he missed his effect, for nobody com-
pared him to Romeo.

1 Boulanger died in September, 1891.



IO3



CHAPTER IX

EXPANSION AND UNREST

The Boulangist conspiracy occupied all the energies
of the political firebrands and pecbeurs en eau trouble"
for the time being. They were staggered by Boulan-
ger's moral collapse and the unexpected verdict of
the country at the election of 1889. Instead of
carrying the 70 per cent, of the electorate, as he
expected, he polled barely over 7 per cent. With the
aid of the Monarchists he could only have counted on
34 per cent, of the Chamber. The movement for the
time being had failed.

w *n* t? ^P

An approximate triumph of Boulangism might have
led to a strong Monarchist and Roman Catholic
revival, seeing that the money with which it was
engineered came mainly from monarchical and
clerical sources. There is no reason to think, however,
that it would have ultimately been more successful
than the monarchical revival under Marshal Mac-
Mahon. The impression at the time of the popularity,
or supposed popularity, of the Boulanger movement
was that it focussed a reaction against indifference to
the question of the Revanche. There was a wide-
spread feeling among Frenchmen, especially in Paris,
that France was dishonoured by the supine attitude
of the Republican leaders towards the steadily growing
power of Germany, and the expanding disproportion
between the respective fighting reserves of the two

104



EXPANSION AND UNREST

countries which year by year was adding to the
difficulty of recovering the lost provinces. Bou-
langism, on the one hand, was a protest against a
state of things the only remedy, if any, for which was
to force a war before it became too late to hope for a
successful result. On the other, the Clericals, in self-
defence against the widespread hostility to the Church,
saw in Boulangism a method of stemming the on-
coming anti-Clerical torrent. The two branches of
its supporters afterwards developed, the one into the
" Nationalists," and the other into that strange
military-clerical faction which displayed its power for
evil in a violent outbreak of anti-Semitism and the
persecution of Dreyfus, in which they more or less
joined hands.

While these reactionary forces were recuperating,
the Republican leaders, true to their policy of creating
a diversion from home and foreign policy, again took

up the questions of colonial expansion.

# * # # *

The following extract from an article on the political
situation in France in the autumn of 1893 by Gabriel
Monod 1 described the state of the national mind at
the time admirably : —

" Another difficulty in the way of every Ministry is that
France, now that the difference between the Monarchists and
the Republicans has been composed, feels the need of some
stimulating excitement. She is in love with stir and pageantry,
with glitter and bustle. With no liking for distant adven-
tures, she suffers from being compelled to inaction in Europe.
. . . Nothing is produced, either in literature or in art, which
excites enthusiasm. Yet we feel the need for action for
something to admire, something to believe in. There is a
longing for something nobler and greater in the life of the
country. The very excentricities of the decadent and

1 Contemporary Review, November, 1893.

IO5



THIRTY YEARS

' symbolical ' writers and of the impressionists in painting
are the sign for the longing for what is new and better. . . .
There is in France ... a certain fermenting dissatisfaction,
a yearning for an unknown ideal. The great danger ... is
the existence of a state of inaction, of languid ennui, side by
side with the longing for activity, ... an intellectual or
moral chaos from which may spring some sudden outburst.
It may be war, it may be social revolution, it may be a
pacific, moral and intellectual revival."

jh jf. m. a t. j f.

Thus while the one party was seeking to rouse
French feeling against Germany and reawakening
the old lust for a revanche, the other was endeavouring
to draw public attention back to that colonial expan-
sion, which promised to open up new markets for
French produce and serve as a compensation for the
loss France had suffered through her unfortunate and
futile tariff wars. This colonial policy, the more
immediate purpose of which was to divert French
attention from matters irritating to Germany, revived

trouble with England.

# # # # #

In 1893, in connection with the action France was
taking in Siam, an incident occurred which was not
unlike the Agadir incident.

France was exercising what she took to be her
rights against her Asiatic neighbour, rights the nature
of which was similar to those which Western States
are in the habit of claiming, when a convenient
boundary, access to a river, or administrative ambition
is concerned. The comminatory proceedings of
France gave rise to considerable distrust in England
at a time when British policy was as averse from
allowing British dependencies to come into immediate
contact with French territory, as it has always been to
having a frontier conterminous with Russian territory.

106



EXPANSION AND UNREST

French colonial policy, like the Russian, was essentially
aggressive, and the prospective co-operation of these
two aggressive policies, which was already talked of
in the chancelleries of Europe, was a rock ahead for
which we had to be on the look-out. The French
Government gave a deliberate assurance to Great
Britain that their action would be confined to obtain-
ing satisfaction for their grievances, and that in no
respect was Siamese independence threatened. With
this assurance the British Government declared them-
selves satisfied and signified their intention to abstain
from any interference. Rumours in Paris, however,
credited the French Government with different
intentions, and Sir Edward Grey, in answer to an
inquiry in the House of Commons, announced that,
in view of possible anti-European effervescence
arising out of an armed conflict between France and
Siam, the British Government were sending gunboats
to the spot for the protection of British subjects.
This action on the part of England excited the greatest
indignation in Paris, and France thereupon and at
once strengthened her naval forces. The Siamese
Government protested against more than one French
vessel being allowed to ascend the Menam. The
English had only one gunboat at Bangkok, and for
the purpose of taking off their respective subjects, in
case of need, no Power required more. The French
Government acquiesced in this view, but their
instructions arrived too late and French vessels passed
the bar, and a new anti-Siamese grievance arose out
of the resistance offered to them by the Siamese forts

at the mouth of the Menam.

*****

\ My connection with the Siamese difficulties was

107



THIRTY YEARS

only an incidental one. M. Rolin-Jacquemyns, the
" father" of the Institute of International Law, as well
as of a charming family, and whose distinguished son,
Edouard Rolin-Jacquemyns, has now taken his place
as one of the most brilliant members of the Institute,
I had known since 1875. I first met him at the
Hague, where the Institute and the International Law
Association were holding that year's sessions at the
same time, as special correspondent of The Times.
In those days The Times had room for a report on
questions of International Law from a special corre-
spondent running for five days to one and a half or
two columns daily ! At this meeting at the Hague I
met many of those whose intimacy I had the privilege
of enjoying in later life, so far that is, as the intimacy
of much younger men is tolerated by older men. It
was there that I met for the first time Sir Travers
Twiss, one of the most lovable of men and a
"gentleman" in the good old sense of the word.
There, too, I believe I met for the first time a
man whose friendship I value as a moral asset,
one of those honest, able Englishmen who make
one proud to be an Englishman, Richard Webster,
the brilliant son of a distinguished father, who
eclipsed his sire and, as everybody knows, be-
came Lord Chief Justice of England and a peer
of the realm. Others were J. Westlake, K.C., and
David Dudley Field, T. E. Holland, K.C., and
Professor Asser. Rolin-Jacquemyns in a way " dis-
covered" me, for he singled me out, had me elected
an associate of the Institute while I was still
barely out of the twenties, and before I was ten
years older had me promoted to full membership
as one of the sixty chief authorities on international

108



EXPANSION AND UNREST

law, for the number of members and associates of the
Institute, I may mention, is restricted respectively to
this number.

Rolin-Jacquemyns was a distinguished Belgian
politician who had been Minister of the Interior in
the famous Frere-Orban Ministry, and was one of the
leaders of that calm and reflective Liberalism for
which the world seems to have no more use. A man
of wide culture, he spoke English and German with a
perfect facility of expression, and with that charm of
accent which goes with a highly developed musical
intelligence, for among his many accomplishments
Rolin-Jacquemyns could play at sight the most
difficult music, and to the end of his life pos-
sessed a firm and well-balanced singing voice. I
remember passing an evening with him and a few
others at a foreign hotel when he sang one after
another all the songs of Schubert to his own accom-
paniment. 1

In his declining years, a guarantee, given by him
many years before, to assist a relative in business,
unexpectedly involved him in a loss which cost him
the bulk of his private means and forced him to accept
a remunerated post. This it was that led to his going
out with his valiant and clever wife to Bangkok as
European adviser to the King of Siam.

In this capacity he was advising the Siamese
Government at the time of the trouble between it and
France, and to him Frenchmen attributed every move
of the Siamese Government which thwarted the then
French policy of encroachment, by which they sought

1 The musical faculty of the Rolins seems almost traditional. One of his
nieces, the daughter of Professor Alberic Rolin, the brother, late professor of
the University of Ghent and now librarian to the Carnegie Peace Palace at
the Hague, is one of the most accomplished amateur violinists living.

IO9



THIRTY YEARS

to bring the frontier of the protected State of Annam
to the left bank of the Mekong. They admitted that
it was his duty to do his best for the country he was
serving, but this they chose to hold he was not doing ;
in other words, he was the mere instrument of an
astute and unscrupulous England. It was a fact that
he had been proposed by the British Government,
but it had been in response to a request by the
Siamese Government to provide them with a com-
petent European adviser. The British Government,
no doubt to avoid the jealousy which the appointment
of a British subject would have occasioned, suggested
a man belonging to a neutral and secondary State,
and recommended this distinguished Belgian. The
anti-Siamese, anti-English and anti-Rolin-Jacque-
myns feeling ran so high in Paris that direct postal
communications between Bangkok and Paris were
not trusted. Letters from the Siamese Government
to the Legation in Paris were therefore sent enclosed
in an envelope addressed to me in Paris or in London
and delivered by me direct to the Legation, and vice
versa. I did not at the time think such precautions
necessary and only lent myself to them to oblige my
old and respected friend. But at a later date, when
the revelations of the Dreyfus trial showed to what
depths a detective service can descend, I was willing
to admit my friend was wiser than I.

# # * # #

In connection with the Panama scandals a new
anti-English grievance arose out of the Herz inci-
dent, French patriots attributing to the influence of
Panamist financiers the British delay in proceeding
with Herz's extradition.

These grievances were furthermore aggravated by

no



EXPANSION AND UNREST

British criticism of French domestic politics, criti-
cism which, though perfectly justified, was often
humiliating.

Amid all this resentment and irritation came the
visit to Paris of the Russian naval officers in October,
1893. It provoked scenes of delirious joy which
nobody who lived in Paris at the time will ever forget.
The visit was regarded as a deliberate manifestation
by the Russian Government of a desire for an entente
with France. Englishmen hardly ventured to show
themselves while the delirium lasted, which it did
unabated for seven days. It meant in the eyes of the
Parisian public an entente against England with
England's Asiatic enemy. England for a century
had stood in the way of Russia realising her traditional
" warm-water policy." She it was who had prevented
Russia from enjoying the fruits of her victory over
Turkey in the war of 1878. She held the key to the
Persian Gulf and stopped her progress southwards in
Central Asia. France had similar grievances against
her, not only in Asia, but in the Levant and Egypt.
Russia and France, in short, had a common enemy.
Hence their rapprochement.

One of the first consequences of the Franco-Russian
entente was a less querulous and more haughty tone
towards England. This new tone became noticeable
in the following year (1894.) in connection with the
Anglo-Congolese agreement of May 12, 1894, deter-
mining the spheres of influence of Great Britain and
the Congo Free State in Central and East Africa.
Under section 3 of that agreement, the Congo Free
State had granted a lease to Great Britain of a strip of

in



THIRTY YEARS

territory, twenty-five kilometres in breadth, extending
from the most northerly port on Lake Tanganyika,
which was included in it, to the most southern point
of Lake Albert Edward. Under another section
Great Britain granted a lease of the province of Bahr-
el-Ghazal to the Congo Free State, partly for the
duration of King Leopold's life and partly for so long
as the Congo Free State remained independent under
the Belgian sovereign or a colony of Belgium. The
territory thus leased followed the tenth parallel to
a point north of Fashoda. The treaty was an
ingenious method of solving two difficult problems.
It assumed, by placing the district temporarily under
the control of the Congo Free State, that Egypt was
entitled to resume possession of the Upper Nile. It
also secured control of a strip of territory between two
lakes which abutted, as it were, on British territory
south of the one and on territory under British
influence north of the other, thus obtaining, with the
free passage through the lakes resulting from the
General Act of Berlin 1 , an independent territorial line
of communication from Cairo to the Cape preparatory
to Cecil Rhodes' scheme of a railway from one end of
Africa to the other.

4fc # # # #

This time France and Germany joined hands in
opposing England. It is usual to say that France
opposed the lease to the Congo Free State of Bahr-el-
Ghazal and Germany the lease to England of the strip
of twenty-five miles. That is not perfectly correct.
France opposed England on both grounds. As regards
the strip of twenty-five miles, she set up the right of
" pre-emption " granted her by a letter of April 23,

1 See Art 15.



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