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   Chapter 24 FIVE GREAT MEN

The Adventure of Living : a Subjective Autobiography By John St. Loe Strachey Characters: 47480

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


There are five men,-three of them close friends and the others good friends and men for whom I felt a warm admiration,-who stand out as prominent influences in my life. In the first group I put Lord Cromer, Colonel John Hay, and Mr. Theodore Roosevelt. They were men with whom I was, I think, in sympathy on every point in regard to the conduct of political life and to the spirit in which it should be carried on. The other two were Joseph Chamberlain and the Duke of Devonshire. Mr. Chamberlain I knew intimately and esteemed highly, having always a sincere admiration for him even when we differed most in politics. In regard to the other, the late Duke of Devonshire, I may say that although I was on much less intimate terms with him than with Mr. Chamberlain, I never felt any political difference, except in the matter of speed of action. Yet even when one was most impatient with the Duke's slowness in uptake, one often admired him most and felt at the back of one's mind that he was most in the right.

In selecting these five men from among my friends I must remind people that this does not show that they were my only close and intimate friends in public life. There were plenty of others, but I am thankful to say I am prevented from mentioning most of them because of my rule not to write of the living. Indeed, I have been so fortunate in my friends that but for this rule I could fill not a single volume but a series of vast tomes.

In moments of mental elation I had planned to direct my executors to place upon the tablet which will be fixed to the wall of the Strachey Chapel in Chew Magna Church, nothing but the words: "His friends were many and true-hearted." I admit that this is a piece of self-laudation that a man could hardly be justified in bestowing upon himself. If you can read their "history in a people's eyes," you can certainly best read a man's history by asking who were his friends and how did they treat him and feel towards him. Till lately, however, I have felt a difficulty in the matter, for, to tell the truth, these deeply moving words came in the first place not from some classical writer but from that nautical ditty, "Tom Bowling." They are the work of that amazing British Tyrteus Dibdin,-the broken-down poet actor who drew an annual salary from the Admiralty for maintaining the spirit of the British Navy through his songs! ["We 'ires a poet for ourselves" was, according to Byron, the boast of Mr. Rowland of oily fame. The Admiralty could make a similar claim.]

I felt that it would be rather much to ask one's executor to get a country vicar to pass a line of a nautical ditty for insertion in a church. If, in verifying the quotation, the parson should be arrested by the neighbouring line, "His Poll was kind and true," what then? There is no harm in the poem as a whole but somehow it has not quite the monumental air about it. Lately, however, I discovered to my great satisfaction and not a little to my amusement that, as so often happens, one of the Greeks of the great age had been before Dibdin. In that enchanting dialogue, "The Symposium" of Xenophon, Hermogenes is asked by one of the persons of the dialogue: "On what do you plume yourself most highly?" "On the virtue and the power of my friends," he answered, "and that being what they are, they care for me." I feel now that when the time comes, my complimentary self-determination may be shrouded in the veil of a learned language, and if the words, "His friends were many and true-hearted" are added in the vernacular they will pass with men of Hellenic culture as an allowable example of a free translation.

It will also have a certain support from one of the tablets with which my tablet will be colleague, the tablet that commemorates the first Sir Henry Strachey, the Secretary of Clive and a man who was for forty years and more a Member of the House of Commons. This epitaph has not the usual flowery pomposity that one would expect to find in the case of a man of his age and occupation and position. It is reticent, if conventional. One phrase, however, stands out. Henry Strachey is described as "an active friend." That is much too great praise for a man to claim for himself, but there is nothing that I should like better than to be able to think when I boasted that my friends, like the friends of Hermogenes, were many and cared for me, that I had helped to make them so because in a world so full of passive friends I had at any rate tried to be active.

* * * * *

I must begin with Lord Cromer, for I had a regard for him, and for his wise and stimulating advice, which touches the point of veneration. He was seldom out of my thoughts. He was in the habit of consulting me freely in regard to public events and on other great matters, and we either met and talked or else wrote to each other almost daily. I was a much younger man than he, and I had not, as he had, come into personal contact with the problems of practical administration at first hand, but had been accustomed to see them and deal with them rather as abstractions. It is true that the questions on which my opinion had to be expressed in The Spectator were often of vital importance and that I had to advise my readers thereon. Still, I was never myself an executant. I was, indeed, rather like the type of laboratory doctor who has of late come into being. He does not himself come into contact with the patient though he is asked to investigate special points. His opinion may have great weight and influence, but he does not carry out the physical cure of the patient.

Many of Lord Cromer's oldest and most intimate friends may perhaps be surprised to hear that Lord Cromer consulted me so often and on so many points. If so, I shall not be astonished at their astonishment. It would be most natural in the case of a man so self-reliant, so able to judge and balance things for himself-so little liable to be carried away by personal feelings, as Lord Cromer. Yet, it is true The reason was, I think, that Lord Cromer found with me, as I found with him, that in response to, or in reaction from any particular series of events we almost always found ourselves ad idem. We wanted the same good causes to win, and we wanted to frustrate the same evil projects. In public affairs, we agreed not only as to what was injurious and as to what was sound, but, which is far more important, we agreed as to what was possible.

In economic matters, both in theory and practice, we moved on exactly the same lines. Once or twice, when I most sincerely thought that I was differing from Lord Cromer and told him so, because I felt I might seem to be shifting my ground,-or rather, looking at things from a different angle,-I found that an exactly similar process had gone on in his mind.

As so often happens with a friendship of this kind, I foretold in my own mind almost from the first moment I saw him, the kind of tie that was going to unite us. I had not spent half an hour in his company before I realized that I had at last found a man dealing with great affairs in a great way,-not only a man who satisfied me absolutely in theory, but a man with whom I could act unreservedly because his mind was tuned to the same pitch as mine.

I well remember the day and the hour of our meeting. Always deeply interested in Imperial questions, and especially in the Egyptian problem, I determined, in the year 1896, to pay a visit to Egypt. Like most young men of my day, I admired Lord Cromer and his work, but I had no special cult for him. Naturally, however, I took out letters of introduction, for until the end of his occupation of the post of Consul General, he was "Egypt." One of these was from my chief, Mr. Hutton, one from my uncle, Sir Richard Strachey, and another, if I remember rightly, from another uncle, Sir John Strachey; the two uncles had been colleagues of Lord Cromer's on the Indian Council. Directly I arrived in Cairo, I left my card and my letters of introduction in the usual way, and expected, after a decent delay, to be asked to pay a semiofficial visit at the Agency. Instead, Lord Cromer acted with his characteristic promptitude. Early on the morning of the day after I had left my letters of introduction and my own and my wife's cards, there came one of the beautifully dressed Syces from the Agency with an invitation to lunch with the Cromers that day. We went and to our great delight found them alone. Therefore, I was able at once to get en rapport with my friend that was to be. I had not finished luncheon before we had plunged into the whole Egyptian question and had got to my own cherished point, one connected with the French occupation of Tunis, their promises of evacuation, and so forth. This, my first experience of I do not know how many hundred talks with Lord Cromer, was exactly like the last. In the art of unfolding his mind and his subject he was a master. I questioned and he answered, and I remember distinctly feeling that I had never before put myself so easily en rapport with any man. I had been told that he was gruff, nay, grumpy, and quite without any of the arts of the diplomatist, and that I should find him very different from the statesmen and politicians to whom I was accustomed. Instead, I found him plain and straightforward, but as kind as he was quick.

After luncheon, we had a very long talk which was at last interrupted by Lord Cromer having to go out to open something or to see somebody. As I was saying good-bye he suddenly said: "I suppose you can keep a secret?" I made a suitable reply, and added I had a lock to my portmanteau. With his quick step he was at the side of his bureau in a moment. Unlocking a drawer, he thrust into my hand a white paper. "That," he said, "is a memorandum which I wrote the other day for Lord Salisbury, giving a character of the Khedive and of all the chief Egyptian statesmen. It wouldn't do to lose it, and there are, I suppose, agents of the Khedive who might possibly look out for papers in your rooms if they heard you had been seeing me." He said this rather apologetically, for he hated anything sensational or melodramatic like the true Whig he was. He added however: "I think it would be better when you are not reading it if you kept it in your portmanteau. Don't trouble to return it till you have read it thoroughly. I think it will amuse you."

I was touched at the moment, but when I got back to my hotel and saw the nature of the document I felt pleased beyond words. I did not, of course, imagine that Lord Cromer would suspect me of wanting to betray his secrets, but considering the place, the Agent General's position, and the fact that he was then at the height of his quarrel with the Khedive and on the most delicate terms with half the men mentioned in the document, I felt that he had reposed a confidence in me which most people would have thought only justified in the case of a man they had known for years, a man who, they were sure, would not cackle about a subject of which he was naturally, as I was, quite ignorant. No doubt he knew there was no peril of my publishing anything, but if I had left these perfectly plain-spoken dossiers of all the big men in Cairo about in the hotel, the result might have been catastrophic. This exhibition of confidence was characteristic of Cromer. If he trusted you, he trusted you altogether. Though he indulged in no nonsense about being able to tell in a moment whether a man was trustworthy or not, and did not often act upon impulse, he was quite capable of doing so on occasion.

In itself the document was exceedingly brilliant and just the piece of work which a busy Prime Minister like Lord Salisbury would greatly value. It put him au fait with the exact position of the various players in the great game of intrigue which was always going on, and with the plots and counter plots made in the Khedive's Palace or in the houses of the various Pashas. They spent most of their time in those days in trying to trip up the Agency.

Lord Cromer not only exposed the motives of the men with whom he was dealing; he often gave the just apologies for these motives. But he did more than this. Without being unduly literary or rhetorical he gave lively characters of the men described. What fascinated me about these analyses of character, however, was that though they were like the best literature, you felt that Cromer had never let himself be betrayed into an epigram, a telling stroke, or a melodramatic shadow in order to heighten the literary effect. The document was a real State Paper, and not a piece of imitation Tacitus or Saint Simon.

I found myself greatly admiring and even touched with envy. I wondered whether, in similar circumstances, I should have been able to resist the temptation to be Tacitean. One felt instinctively that Lord Salisbury must have been grateful to have such an instrument for dealing with a situation so delicate and so intricate and placing so great a responsibility on the man in charge.

During my stay in Cairo, my intimacy with Lord Cromer deepened from day to day. We talked and talked, and from every talk I gained not only knowledge of the East, but knowledge on a thousand points of practical and also theoretical politics. Cromer, like so many Imperial administrators before him, was an exceedingly well-read man, in modern and ancient history, in Economics, and in political theory. Above all, he was a devotee of Memoirs and he was always able to reinforce an argument with "Don't you remember what … said about that." I may say frankly that the great delight to me was the delight of confirmation. Inexperienced as I then was in public affairs, it was a matter of no small pleasure and of no small amount of pride to find my own special opinions, views, and theories as to political action plainly endorsed.

In not a single case was I disappointed or disillusioned either with what had been my own views or with what were Lord Cromer's. I soon saw, as I am sure did he, that we were capable of a real intellectual alliance; and so our friendship was made.

Considering the reputation that Lord Cromer had for masterfulness and for something approaching disregard of other people's feelings when he thought them foolish or in the wrong; for the irritability of extreme energy; or again for a fierce impatience with anyone who opposed his views, my experience surprised me not a little. I did not find a trace of these things in my intercourse with him, and this in spite of the fact that knowing what to expect in this way, I was keenly on the lookout. Moreover I was, with all a young man's prickliness, quite determined that I would not be treated as I was told Cromer was apt to treat people. But I seldom if ever found myself in disagreement with him on the merits and never as to manner of action. No doubt we were as a rule concerned with matters where I did not know the facts and he did.

Neither of us could, of course, differ as to conclusions when once the facts were agreed on. Each had his little inch measure of logic and both measures were scaled alike. Still, in intercourse so constant as that between us in letters and in talk, it is, I must confess, extraordinary that he and I never really differed and that this was certainly not due to either of us being prepared to give way upon essentials.

If anyone thinks that I occupied what the XVIIIth century people were wont to call the spaniel position to Lord Cromer, they are mistaken. He never attempted to bully me out of an opinion or even out of a prejudice. If, indeed, I had been a self-conscious man, I might have been a little worried by the fact that when I told him of some line that I had taken or was going to take in The Spectator, he would almost always say, with his cheerful and eager self-confidence: "You are perfectly right: of course, that's the line to take"; and so forth.

It was indeed, sometimes a subject of chaff in my family when Cromer was staying with us at Newlands that he would begin ten or twelve sentences in the course of a Saturday to Monday visit with: "Strachey, you and I have been absolutely right from beginning to end." And so I believe we were, though it may seem strange that I should have the hardihood to record it "between boards."

In view of Cromer's alleged testiness, I may record a very striking "contraindication." During the year and a half or nearly two years in which he wrote a review every week in The Spectator on some important book, I never had any difficulties with him whatever. He was, with the possible exception of my cousin, Lytton Strachey, the best reviewer I ever had. He not only took an immense amount of trouble with his reviews from his own point of view, but he also took immense trouble to realise and understand The Spectator view and to commit me to nothing which he thought I might dislike. It happened, however, that on one occasion I did have to use the editorial blue pencil and alter something, or at any rate get him to alter it. At first he seemed a little fussy about my objection, but when I was firm and explained my reasons he agreed, and in the end, with that attractive frankness that always went side by side with any testiness, he said that on reflection he thought I was perfectly right.

In this context I ought also to record that so clever a reviewer was he and so reasonable were all his views, that it was not only difficult but almost impossible to catch him out, I will not say in a mistake in facts, for in these he was always accurate, but in an over-statement or an under-statement.

A full balanced judgment of Lord Cromer and his work for the country and the Empire is one which cannot be framed now. Again, I am not the man to frame it, for I admit that I loved the man too much to make a judicial estimate by me possible. Still, I want to say something of his character and his achievement. He stood for so much that is good in our national activities, and his example and inspiration are of such value, that I desire almost beyond anything else in politics to make people understand his point of view; and specially in what pertains to the Government of the Eastern races. In such questions the British people will, I am confident, find his principles the safest of guides.

I realise that Lord Cromer is now in the blind spot of politics. Sooner or later, however, there will be a revival in interest in this great man. People will begin to ask what it was that made his fame with his contemporaries so great. To such questions I shall venture to anticipate the answer.

The British people may be stupid, but they know a man when they see him. That is why they honoured Lord Cromer, yet I doubt if even one per cent. of the nation could have given true and sufficient reasons for the belief that was in them. It was certainly not because he had added, in fact if not in name, a great province to the British Empire. Plenty of countries richer and greater have been drawn within the magic circle of the Pax Britannica without the men who accomplished the task having received anything approaching the recognition accorded to Lord Cromer. Again, it was not Lord Cromer's administrative skill that won him his fame, great though that skill was. In India and in East and West Africa we have had examples of successful development by great officials that have passed almost unnoticed. Lord Cromer's financial ability, or shall I say financial judgment? for he himself was the last man to profess any special and personal knowledge of figures, was doubtless very great; but most of his countrymen were quite incapable of gauging its scope, or of understanding what he had done to produce order out of chaos, or how he had turned a bankrupt country into a solvent one.

Deftness, no matter how great, in the placing of a loan, or in evolving financial freedom out of the mass of hostile checks and balances sought to be set up by the Powers in Egypt, would by itself have entirely failed to win him the acclamations which greeted him when he retired from active duty. Even his work as a diplomatist, though so supremely skilful, was never properly understood at home. There was a vague notion that he had played a lone hand against all the Powers and had won out, but success here could not possibly have obtained for Lord Cromer that unbounded confidence which was shown him by the nation.

The respect and veneration which the British public felt for Lord Cromer would, if his health had permitted, have called him to power at the moment of worst crisis in the war; yet those who called him could not have said why they felt sure he would prove the organizer of victory. They were content to believe that it was so.

What was the quality that placed Lord Cromer so high in the regard of his fellow-countrymen throughout Britain and the Empire? What was it that made him universally respected,-as much by soldiers as by civilians, by officials as by Members of Parliament, by Whigs as by Radicals, by Socialists as by Individualists? The answer is to be found in the spirit in which Lord Cromer did his work. What raised him above the rank-and-file of our public men was his obedience to a very plain and obvious rule. It was this: to govern always in the interests of the governed. This sounds a trite and elementary proposition, and yet the path it marks out is often a very difficult one to follow. It may be straight, but it is so narrow that only the well-balanced man can avoid stepping off either to the right or to the left. It is always a plank across a stream; sometimes it may be compared to a spear resting on the rocks in a raging torrent.

There are a hundred temptations, many of them by no means ignoble, to divert the Imperial administrator from keeping the narrow path exactly. In certain circumstances it may seem a positive virtue to exploit some province of the Empire for the Mother Country, or for the Empire as a whole-to forget the interests of the governed in the interests of the great organism of which that province forms only a part. Plentiful are the arguments for leaning a little to the one side or to the other. Yet if these were listened to, on the ground of the interests of the Empire as a whole (it must be admitted that the temptation to think of the interests of the people of these islands is one which has been steadily resisted by all our great Proconsuls) they might bring disaster in their train.

Strange as it may seem, nothing has proved a better or surer foundation of Empire, or has more helped even its material development, than the determination not to take advantage of the absolute power of the Mother Country over the Dependencies and subject States, but, on the contrary, to develop these as a sacred trust. We rightly asked for, and we took, far more help from the Daughter Nations during the war than from the Dependencies, for the very good reason that the Daughter Nations were their own mistresses and could do what they liked. They stood on an equality with us. In the case of the Dependencies, we are Trustees, and no temptation whatever, either for ourselves or for others, would allow us to budge one inch from the straight path.

Here, Lord Cromer was at his very strongest. He was an ideal Trustee. And what made this evident was the fact that he talked comparatively little about his trust, and never behaved in regard to it as a pedant or a prig. As long as the principle was firmly maintained, he bothered himself very little about matters of appearance.

If Lord Cromer kept the path successfully in this respect, he kept it equally well in regard to another temptation. The weak

administrator is always liable to govern, not in the true interests of the governed, but in what the governed think is their interest-to do what they actually desire rather than what they would desire if they were better judges. Weak governors, that is, act as if they were servants and not trustees. To play the part of an obedient servant is right and necessary here, for we are over age, have no need of trustees, and govern ourselves. It is wrong when you stand in loco parentis to those whose affairs you administer. We all know what is the kind of government that an Eastern people establishes for itself. In spite of the suffering that it inflicts upon the people, there is good evidence to show that, judged by the test of popularity, the governed in the East prefer arbitrary personal rule to just and efficient constitutional government. In the same way a child will tell you, and honestly tell you, that he prefers raspberry-jam and heavy pastry at odd times to regular meals of brown bread and butter, and that he is quite willing, in the interests of the pastry system of nourishment, to brave the pains which Mary experienced when she consumed both jam and pastry. The wise guardian does not, however, in view of such statement, conclude that it is his or her duty to let the child have whatever he likes.

In the same way, Lord Cromer, though perfectly willing to admit that in a truly self-governing State it is the duty of the administrator either to resign or to carry out the will of his masters, the people, he would make no such admission in the case of an Oriental country. Yet this did not, as might be supposed, lead to a cold, harsh, or metallic system of government. Lord Cromer had far too much wisdom and moderation, was far too much of a Whig, as he himself would have said, to push to extremes the view that a native must have what was good for him, and not what he asked for at the top of his voice.

In small matters, indeed in all non-essentials, Lord Cromer strove of course to give the native what he wanted, and strove still more to refrain from forcing on him, because it was for his good, what he did not want. Lord Cromer was never tired of quoting what, in Bacon's phrase, he would call "luciferous" stories, to illustrate the folly of the administrator who thrusts physical improvements or the devices of European enlightenment upon the unwilling Oriental solely because they are good per se, or economical, or will make the governed richer or cleverer or happier. One of the stories of which Lord Cromer was particularly fond was that of the young Indian civilian who on his first day in a new district, and when he was entirely unknown, took a walk in the fields and saw an elderly ryot ploughing the land. Being good at the vernacular and full of zeal, the district officer asked how things were in that part of the country. The old man, like all tillers of the soil, replied with a kind of gloomy complacency that things were undoubtedly very bad, but that they might be worse. Anyway the only thing to do was to go on cultivating the land. "This year it is the cattle plague. Last year it was the Agricultural College. But since they are both the will of God, both must be borne without complaint." That story the present writer remembers Lord Cromer telling him on his return from the opening of a model farm or some such agricultural improvement. Such improvements ought, no doubt, as Lord Cromer said, to make the task of the fellaheen much easier, but nevertheless it was certain that the majority would regard them as pure evil-mere oppressions by wayward if not demented tyrants.

They wanted to be left alone, not taught how to get another fifteen per cent, of produce out of the land. Knowing this, Lord Cromer harried the native as little as possible. He was fond indeed of saying that there was very little you could do to make an Oriental people grateful.-"Why should they be grateful?" he would interject.-There was, however, one thing which they could and did appreciate, and that was low taxation. It was no good to say to the Oriental: "It is true you pay higher taxation, but then look at the benefits you get for it-the road up to the door of your house which enables you to save immensely in transport, the light railway not far off, the increased water for irrigation, a school for your children, and so forth and so on." To all these benefits the Oriental taxpayer is totally indifferent, or at all events he refuses to see any connection between them and the taxes paid. They come or do not come, like the rain from Heaven. All he is certain about is that the tax-collector is asking him double what he used to ask. So much for local improvements!

In fine, Lord Cromer, though he kept his rule to govern in the interests of the governed so strictly and was so exact a trustee, was always human-never pedantic, professorial, or academic, in the carrying out of his rule. He was above all things, a just man, and he realised that justice was not true justice unless it were humanised by knowledge and the sympathy of comprehension. Yet he knew and understood the benefits of strong government, though he always tried so to harness his administration that the straps would gall as little as possible. That is why he won to such a strange degree the trust and admiration, I had almost said the love, of the Egyptian people. Peasant men and women who had never seen him, and who had the dimmest and vaguest idea of what he was and what he stood for, yet felt an unbounded belief in his desire that they should be justly treated. There is a well-known story which exactly illustrates the point I am making.

A young English officer engaged in sanitary work in the Delta pointed out to a well-to-do farmer's wife in a cholera year that she was running terrible risks by having her cesspool quite close to the door of her house, and so placed that it was contaminating all the drinking-water used by her and her family. At last after many ineffectual remonstrances he ordered the removal of this sure and certain road to death by cholera. The woman was furious, and ended up a battle royal by telling him that though for the moment he could oppress the poor and triumph over the Godly, it would not be for long. "The man Krahmer" in Cairo would see her righted. She would appeal to him and he would protect her.

Lord Cromer felt, and felt rightly, that this invocation was his best epitaph. Appeals, no matter how strange, were never frowned down by him but encouraged. However ill-founded, they taught something. They were often of an intimate character and couched in the wonderful language of the Babu, for Egypt has its Babus as well as Bengal. One complaint which had to do with an irrigation dispute began as follows: "Oh, hell! Lordship's face grow red with rage when he hears too beastly conduct of Public Works Department."

Macaulay's splendid eulogy of Hampden may, with very little alteration, be applied to Lord Cromer. "The sobriety, the self-command, the perfect soundness of judgment, the perfect rectitude of intention," were as truly the qualities of the Ruler and regenerator of Egypt as they were of the great statesman of the Rebellion-the man who fought so nobly against the sullen tyranny of Charles and Laud.

For Joseph Chamberlain, I felt a very real and very warm affection as a man. Unfortunately for me, however, I was, except in the matter of Home Rule, out of sympathy with most of his later political principles, or, at any rate, his political standpoint. Mr. Chamberlain, though in no sense a man of extreme, wild, or immoderate views, was in no sense a Whig. To tread the narrow, uphill, and rather stony path of the via media, fretted him. He liked large enterprises and large ways of carrying them out, and, though it would be a great mistake to call him imprudent, he was distinctly a man of daring imagination in politics. He liked to prophesy and to help fulfil his prophecies. He was not content to wait and watch things grow. He was, indeed, one of the political gardeners who thoroughly enjoy the forcing-house. If he had been a grower of vegetables instead of Orchids, he would have dealt, I feel sure, almost entirely in "primeurs."

I can think of no man who used the imaginative faculty more in politics than he did, except Disraeli, and here, indeed, Mr. Chamberlain had the advantage. Disraeli was apt to let his imagination run so wild as to become vulgar, pompous, and ostentatious, whereas Mr. Chamberlain always kept his visionary schemes within the due bounds of seriousness and reason. Though I think he placed no limits to the capacity of the English people to meet and to overcome dangers and difficulties in the world of politics, and always held them, as, indeed, do I, capable to be of heroic mould, he never inflated himself or his countrymen on any subject, but spoke always weightily and with good sense. To take a concrete example, he, no more than Lord Cromer, would have intoxicated his mind with a fantastic idea like that of the Cape to Cairo railway as did Mr. Rhodes. That was at its best only a symbol and at worst the caprice of an Imperial egoist. Though Mr. Chamberlain had gained from his training and business success some of the best qualities of the statesman, that is, confidence in himself, and his sound practical sense, he was not, as I think his greatest admirers would agree, a deep political thinker.

He was, however, a great orator and a great parliamentary advocate, and, if properly briefed, there was no man who could state a case better or more persuasively than he did. This gift of advocacy, though an advocacy quite untouched by cynicism, was apt to raise doubts in the public mind as to his sincerity,-doubts which were due to ignorance of the man and to nothing else. It is true that he argued as the most convinced and most happy exponent of Free Trade during the first half of his political life and later as a convinced Protectionist. Yet I am certain that on both occasions he was perfectly sincere. In each case, though he did not realise it, he was speaking from a brief, but from a brief that for the time had thoroughly converted him and made him think of the policy advocated in the spirit of a missionary.

Mr. Chamberlain was a man of whom the nation was proud, and had a right to be proud. He was a good fighter and an unwearied worker, and he spent himself ungrudgingly in the service of his country. Above all things, he had that quality of vigour and daring which endears itself, and always will endear itself, to a virile race. He was not for ever counting the cost of his actions, but would as gaily as any hero of romance throw his cap over the wall and follow it without a thought of the difficulties and dangers that might confront him on the other side.

No one has ever asserted that Mr. Chamberlain left his comrades in the lurch, failed to support a friend in a tight place, or accepted help from others and then was careless about helping them in return or making them acknowledgment for what they had done. Remember that it is very rare in the case of a public man to find so total an absence of the complaint of ingratitude. The accusation of ingratitude, indeed, may be well described as the commonest of all those brought against the great by the small. "He was willing enough to take help from me when he needed it; now he has raised himself, the humble ladder is kicked down or else its existence is utterly ignored."-"While we were unknown men we worked together shoulder to shoulder and helped each other. When he grew big and strong, he forgot the colleagues of his early days, ignored their past services, and humiliated them with the cold eye of forgetfulness."- "I soon saw that, if he had not actually forgotten me, he would very much rather not be asked to remember me."-"It was evidently a bore to him to talk of old days, or to be reminded that even his prowess and strength had once been glad of 'a back up.'"-"He liked to think that he owed it all to himself and to no one else." These are the kind of criticisms that most winners in the Political Stakes have to bear. Such criticisms, very likely unfair in themselves, were, for example, constantly made in regard to Mr. Gladstone. But though my recollection carries me back to very nearly the beginning of Mr. Chamberlain's active career, I cannot recall a single instance of such grumbling, either in private or public, in regard to Mr. Chamberlain. On the contrary, the world of politics is filled with men who gratefully remember that, though their work for Mr. Chamberlain may have been humble in appearance or in fact, he never forgot the helping hand and the loyal service, but repaid them a hundredfold.

That genius for friendship of which Lord Morley once spoke, extended far beyond the ordinary limits of friendship. Mr. Chamberlain not only never forgot a friend, but never forgot any loyal or honest helper, and, what from the helper's point of view is equally important, never forgot also that it is not enough merely to remember the helper. You must try to help him in return.

This unwillingness to forget support, this instinct towards repayment of loyal service, was no piece of cynical calculation, no acting on the maxim that the way to get men to serve you well and support you is to make it clear to them that you always pay your debts with full interest. That Mr. Chamberlain was proud of the fact that no man could call him ungrateful I do not doubt; but I am sure also that his action was due to the impulse of a generous nature and to no sordid calculation.

He was a natural chieftain. He expected obedience and loyalty in the men who enlisted under his banner, but he felt in every corner of his being that it was the duty of the chieftain to succour, to help, and to advance those who stood by him. No labour and no self-sacrifice was too great to help a member of the clan he had constituted, and it was given quite as readily to the man who was never likely to be able to help again as to him from whom future favours might be expected.

This quality of gratitude and devotion may not be the greatest of moral qualities, but it is certainly one of the most attractive-a quality which will always secure a love and veneration similar to that with which Mr. Chamberlain was regarded, not only by his own people, but throughout the country. Cool and pedantic political philosophers may think that he carried the backing of his friends too far, but it was a generous fault and not likely to be resented in the workaday world. The man who has the instinct for comradeship will "bring home hearts by dozens" when the virtuous and well-balanced awarder of the good-conduct prizes in life's school will leave his fellows cold.

Because I have dwelt on this side of Mr. Chamberlain's character, it must not be supposed that I have forgotten, or that I desire to minimize, the splendid public services done by him, first in the region of municipal life-a priceless contribution-then in national politics, and last of all in the wider Imperial sphere. In every part of our public life he lit a torch which will not be extinguished. Men differ, and will continue to differ, as to his policy. None will differ as to the spirit in which he acted, or deny that he gave what nations most need-the stimulus of high endeavour.

However, I do not want to speak too much of his politics, partly because my aim is to be uncontroversial, and still more because his personal character is far more likely to interest my readers than any diagnosis of the politician.

The qualities of heart and head, which I have described, were not learned by me through Mr. Chamberlain's public form, but through a close study at first hand. From the year 1887 or '88 till the Tariff Reform controversy, I was on very intimate terms, social as well as political, with Mr. Chamberlain. I think he was fond of me. I know I was fond of him. I expect he thought I was a little too cool, or, as he might have said, not keen enough, just as I thought him inclined to be too zealous a partisan,-too ready to push party conditions to the uttermost. Yet both of us, and that is after all the great thing in friendship, felt the sense of personal attraction.

He was among other things one of the most delightful of companions. To see him, as I so often did, in his house in the country set at the edge of a great city,-that best describes Highbury,-was a delightful experience. The house-parties at the Whitsuntide and Easter recesses, which lasted double the length of ordinary Saturday to Monday parties, were most attractive. Chamberlain was an expert at asking the right people to meet each other, but if he had not been it would not have mattered. Owing to his vigour of mind and the stimulating character of his talk he would have turned a house-party of the purest "duds" into a success. As a matter of fact, however, he was the last man to endure bores. People who were asked to Highbury, were asked because he liked them, not for any conventional reasons.

Another factor which made these visits to Birmingham delightful was the hostess. Mrs. Chamberlain had as high social qualities as the host. But I must not speak of Mrs. Chamberlain as I feel, for to do so would break the rule of not writing about living people. I will say, however, that even an interval of a quarter of a century-the date in her case sounds utterly preposterous I admit-has not dimmed my recollection of a fascinating and gracious young woman. New to England, new to our politics, and plunged into the midst of a party crisis of a very bitter kind, she showed an unfailing instinct as a hostess. She never said an unkind thing or made an enemy. Besides her youth, her good-looks, and her charm of manner and her natural dignity she possessed the gift of making parties go. Though she always made herself felt in her parties, she was never formidable. She was always friendly and yet never gushing or affected. But I most sincerely ask Mrs. Chamberlain's pardon for I cannot conceal from myself that she will not like to be written about in terms of eulogy.

Mr. Chamberlain was indeed singularly fortunate in his family as supporters in the matter of entertaining. His two sons, Austen and Neville, evidently enjoyed the house-parties as much as did their father and his guests. Both inherited a liking for good company. Therefore, whether one went in the evening to the big or the little smoking-room one was sure of good talk.

Highbury was a house thoroughly well designed for entertainments, and the large gardens, or small park, whichever you like to call it, which surrounded the house, afforded plenty of sitting-out room. No one who shared in the parties will ever forget the long and good talks on the lawn on which the wicker chairs were set with brightly coloured rugs for the sitter's feet. Guests worthy of that honour were taken through the orchid house by Mr. Chamberlain himself, for his knowledge and love of his favourite flower was no pose, but a reality.

This absence of "pose" was, by the way, one of the most striking things about Mr. Chamberlain. He was an extraordinarily natural man. You cannot possibly imagine his taking up anything, from a new kind of cigar, a new form of hat, or a new type of novel, because he was told it was the right thing to do, or because he thought it was expedient for a politician with a future to encourage this or that fashionable craze. I have compared him to Disraeli in the matter of imagination. In the absence of "pose" he was, however, the exact opposite of Disraeli. For example, Lord Beaconsfield praised Lord Bolingbroke and talked about Lord Carteret, not because he really liked either of the statesmen mentioned, but because he thought it sounded well, and also because it amused him to look more learned historically than he was. You could no more expect Mr. Chamberlain to do that than to wear a particular flower, not because he liked it, but because it had been admired by say Mr. Pitt or Mr. Canning.

It must not be supposed from this, however, that Mr. Chamberlain was indifferent to, or ignorant of, the past. Though he was not going to let himself be dominated by old traditions, he was as distinctly well read in political history as in poetry. If he wanted to do so, he could quote freely and intimately from Browning, or Matthew Arnold. The latter was, I think, specially liked by him. But here again, any idea of his liking to prove himself a person of culture or learning cannot be entertained for a moment. He was much too sure of himself and much too sure of his own aims to want to be regarded as a man of cultivation. He liked what he liked, and he talked about what he liked. There was no "showing off." Again, there was not the slightest touch of snobbishness in Mr. Chamberlain. I don't think he was even amused by people expecting him, because he was not a man of great family or known as a great merchant prince, to be socially a kind of wild man to whom it must seem strange to eat a good dinner every day of his life "complete with the best of wines and cigars,"-in fact, to live exactly like men who had inherited their money, not made it. In truth, though the fact was unknown to the public and it never occurred to Mr. Chamberlain to talk about it, he was not a self-made man, but the son of a rich father. He belonged to a very old City family, for Mr, Chamberlain was not a Birmingham man, but a Londoner, through and through. His family had, however, remained in London even after it had grown rich and not retired to the country, like so many "warm men" to use the eighteenth century argot. I remember well Austen Chamberlain telling me that he had taken up his membership of the Cordwainers Company by right of inheritance. His family had been connected with that company in tail male, so to speak, since the time of Charles II.

This connection with the city companies had an interesting result. In the '70s and '80s it was a mark of a Radical to demand the abolition of the Livery Companies of London and to say hard things about the Corporation and the City. A Radical meeting was hardly complete without an attack on the City and its "fat and feasting Tories." When you were on a Radical platform you expected indeed as Shakespeare says:

"… to hear the City

Abused extremely, and to cry 'That's witty!'"

Mr. Chamberlain, however, whether in the House of Commons or on the platform, did not like his Colleagues to abuse the City Companies, but instead, gave them, as all sane people will now agree quite rightly, the benefit of his support. We should all be the poorer without the picturesqueness lent to London Municipal Life by its livery. Some of them may still want a little reform, but for the most part their wealth is well spent.

But Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain were not only good country hosts. Nothing could have been more pleasant or more interesting than their London dinners. The talk was always good and Mr. Chamberlain was always the chief point of attraction. He was never cross, or moody, or depressed. Instead, he was always ready to talk. You could put up any game with him and he would fly at it with zest and spirit.

Time has not dimmed the warmth of my personal feeling either for Austen or Neville Chamberlain. And here I want to say one word of regret in respect of Miss Beatrice Chamberlain,-her father's eldest daughter who died during the first year of the Peace. She was a woman of great ability and inherited no small share of her father's power of talk and fondness for social life. Highbury house-parties owed much to her.

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