Recollections of Three Reigns

By Colin Welch; Frederick Ponsonby | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
Some opinions on secret treaties, Strachey's 'Queen Victoria', the Lansdowne letter and post-war France -- Lord Milner, Lord Curzon and the Garter -- Bonar Law's game of chess -- Charles Cust's death -- The King's shooting -- The King at Eastbourne

SOME time in 1921 I had an interesting talk at Balmoral with Soveral, the Archbishop of York, 1 Esher, Sir Walter Lawrence2 and John Revelstoke.

Soveral told me that when the publication of the Treaty with Germany3 relating to the Portuguese Colonies was contemplated by Sir E. Grey at the beginning of 1914, he protested in vain. Finding that his efforts were useless, he took steps to ensure that the French were informed of the proposed publication, and Poincaré, who was then President, took such a serious view of the matter that the idea of publication was abandoned. It was only Grey's dislike of secret treaties that made him ever contemplate the publication.

This interested me, as I remembered that when the King was going to Paris in the spring of 1914, Wickham Steed, then foreign editor of The Times, got wind of this and asked me whether there was any truth in the report, as any understanding with Germany would certainly upset the French.

Talking of Strachey's Queen Victoria, 4 the Archbishop of York said that it had rehabilitated her in the eyes of the present generation. They had begun to sneer at that period and criticize adversely the big people of that time. They welcomed, therefore, the ironical methods of Strachey's pen and were ready to abide by his version of the Queen. They were surprised to find that in spite of all his irony, so far from belittling the Queen, he brought into strong relief her great personality.

Esher said that Lloyd George had stated that in his opinion a cheap edition of this book would have a derogatory effect on the monarchy. The Archbishop agreed, as he said 'Demos' had never quite understood the criticism of the Victorian age in any case.

Talking of Lansdowne's notorious letter to the Daily Telegraph, the Archbishop said that there was now a great deal to be said in favour of it; Lansdowne's great knowledge of European politics had warned him that a fight

____________________
1
The Most Reverend Cosmo Lang; later ( 1928) Archbishop of Canterbury.
2
1st Bart.; a distinguished Indian Civil Servant.
3
In August 1898, a secret treaty was concluded between Britain and Germany, providing for the partition of Portuguese Colonies in Africa if Portugal were forced to alienate them owing to financial difficulties.
4
Lytton Strachey Queen Victoria was published in 1921.

-351-

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