The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Chapter 6: The Times

Beyond the academic field, the Milner Group engaged in journalistic activities that sought to influence public opinion in directions which the Group desired. One of the earliest examples of this, and one of the few occasions on which the Group appeared as a group in the public eye, was in 1905, the year in which Milner returned from Africa. At that time the Group published a volume, The Empire and the Century, consisting of fifty articles on various aspects of the imperial problem. The majority of these articles were written by members of the Milner Group, in spite of the fact that so many of the most important members were still in Africa with Lord Selborne. The volume was issued under the general editorship of Charles S. Goldman, a friend of John Buchan and author of With General French and the Cavalry in South Africa. Among those who wrote articles were W. F. Monypenny, Bernard Holland, John Buchan, Henry Birchenough, R. B. Haldane, Bishop Lang, L. S. Amery, Evelyn Cecil, George Parkin, Edmund Garrett, Geoffrey Dawson, E. B. Sargant (one of the Kindergarten), Lionel Phillips, Valentine Chirol, and Sir Frederick and Lady Lugard.

This volume has many significant articles, several of which have already been mentioned. It was followed by a sequel volume, called The Empire and the Future, in 1916. The latter consisted of a series of lectures delivered at King's College, University of London, in 1915, under the sponsorship of the Royal Colonial Institute. The lectures were by members of the Milner Group who included A. L. Smith, H. A. L. Fisher, Philip Kerr, and George R. Parkin.(1) A somewhat similar series of lectures was given on the British Dominions at the University of Birmingham in 1910-1911 by such men as Alfred Lyttelton, Henry Birchenough, and William Hely-Hutchinson. These were published by Sir William Ashley in a volume called The British Dominions.

These efforts, however, were too weak, too public, and did not reach the proper persons. Accordingly, the real efforts of the Milner Group were directed into more fruitful and anonymous activities such as The Times and The Round Table.

The Milner Group did not own The Times before 1922, but clearly controlled it at least as far back as 1912. Even before this last date, members of the innermost circle of the Milner Group were swarming about the great newspaper. In fact, it would appear that The Times had been controlled by the Cecil Bloc since 1884 and was taken over by the Milner Group in the same way in which All Souls was taken over, quietly and without a struggle. The midwife of this process apparently was George E. Buckle (1854-1935), graduate of New College in 1876, member of All Souls since 1877, and editor of The Times from 1884 to 1912. (2) The chief members of the Milner Group who were associated with The Times have already been mentioned. Amery was connected with the paper from 1899 to 1909. During this period he edited and largely wrote the Times History of the South African War. Lord Esher was offered a directorship in 1908. Grigg was a staff writer in 1903-1905, and head of the Imperial Department in 1908-1913. B. K. Long was head of the Dominion Department in 1913-1921 and of the Foreign Department in 1920-1921. Monypenny was assistant editor both before and after the Boer War (1894-1899, 1903-1908) and on the board of directors after the paper was incorporated (1908-1912). Dawson was the paper's chief correspondent in South Africa in the Selborne period (1905-1910), while Basil Williams was the reporter covering the National Convention there (1908-1909). When it became clear in 1911 that Buckle must soon retire, Dawson was brought into the office in a rather vague capacity and, a year later, was made editor. The appointment was suggested and urged by Buckle. (3) Dawson held the position from 1912 to 1941, except for the three years 1919-1922. This interval is of some significance, for it revealed to the Milner Group that they could not continue to control The Times without ownership. The Cecil Bloc had controlled The Times from 1884 to 1912 without ownership, and the Milner Group had done the same in the period 1912-1919, but, in this last year, Dawson quarreled with Lord Northcliffe (who was chief proprietor from 1908-1922) and left the editor's chair. As soon as the Milner Group, through the Astors, acquired the chief proprietorship of the paper in 1922, Dawson was restored to his post and held it for the next twenty years. Undoubtedly the skillful stroke which acquired the ownership of The Times from the Harmsworth estate in 1922 was engineered by Brand. During the interval of three years during which Dawson was not editor, Northcliffe entrusted the position to one of The Time's famous foreign correspondents, H. W. Steed.

Dawson was succeeded as editor in 1944 by R. M. Barrington-Ward, whose brother was a Fellow of All Souls and son-in-law of A. L. Smith. Laurence Rushbrook Williams, who functions in many capacities in Indian affairs after his fellowship in All Souls (1914- 1921), also joined the editorial staff in 1944. Douglas Jay, who graduated from New College in 1930 and was a Fellow of All Souls in 1930-1937, was on the staff of The Times in 1929-1933 and of the Economist in 1933-1937. He became a Labour M.P. in 1946, after having performed the unheard-of feat of going directly from All Souls to the city desk of the Labour Party's Daily Herald (1937-1941). Another interesting figure on The Times staff in the more recent period was Charles R. S. Harris, who was a Fellow of All Souls for fifteen years (1921-1936), after graduating from Corpus Christi. He was leader-writer of The Times for ten years (1925-1935) and, during part of the same period, was on the staff of the Economist (1932-1935) and editor of The Nineteenth Century and After (1930-1935). He left all three positions in 1935 to go for four years to the Argentine to be general manager of the Buenos Aires Great Southern and Western Railways. During the Second World War he joined the Ministry of Economic Warfare for a year, the Foreign Office for two years, and the Finance Department of the/W ar Office for a year (1942-1943). Then he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel with the military government in occupied Sicily, and ended up the war as a member of the Allied Control Commission in Italy. Harris's written works cover a range of subjects that would be regarded as extreme anywhere outside the Milner Group. A recognized authority on Duns Scotus, he wrote two volumes on this philosopher as well as the chapter on "Philosophy" in The Legacy of the Middle Ages, but in 1935 he wrote Germany's Foreign Indebtedness for the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Harris's literary versatility, as well as the large number of members of All Souls who drifted over to the staff on The Times, unquestionably can be explained by the activities of Lord Brand. Brand not only brought these persons from All Souls to The Times, but also brought the Astors to The Times. Brand and Lord Astor were together at New College at the outbreak of the Boer War. They married sisters, daughters of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne of Virginia. Brand was apparently the one who brought Astor into the Milner Group in 1917, although there had been a movement in this direction considerably earlier. Astor was a Conservative M.P. from 1910 to 1919, leaving the Lower House to take his father's seat in the House of Lords. His place in Commons has been held since 1919 by his wife, Nancy Astor (1919-1945), and by his son Michael Langhorne Astor (1945- ). In 1918 Astor became parliamentary secretary to Lloyd George; later he held the same position with the Ministry of Food (1918-1919) and the Ministry of Health (1919-1921). He was British delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1931, chairman of the League Committee on Nutrition (1936-1937), and chairman of the council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (since 1935). With help from various people, he wrote three books on agricultural problems: Land and Life (1932), The Planning of Agriculture (1933), and British Agriculture (1938). Both of his sons graduated from New College, and both have been Members of Parliament, the older in the period 1935-1945, and the younger since 1945. The older was secretary to Lord Lytton on the League of Nations Commission of Enquiry into the Manchurian Episode (1932) and was parliamentary private secretary to Sir Samuel Hoare when he was First Lord of the Admiralty and Home Secretary (1936-1939).

Lord Astor's chief importance in regard to The Times is that he and his brother became chief proprietors in 1922 by buying out the Harmsworth interest. As a result, the brother, Colonel John Jacob Astor, has been chairman of the board of The Times Publishing Company since 1922, and Brand was a director on the board for many years before 1944. Colonel Astor, who matriculated at New College in 1937, at the age of fifty-one, was military aide to the Viceroy of India (Lord Hardinge) in 1911-1914, was a Member of Parliament from 1922 to 1945, and is a director of both Hambros' and Barclay's Banks.

This connection between the Milner Group and The Times was of the greatest importance in the period up to 1945, especially in the period just before the Munich crisis. However, the chief center of gravity of the Milner Group was never in The Times. It is true that Lord Astor became one of the more important figures in the Milner Group after Milner's death in 1925, but the center of gravity of the Group as a whole was elsewhere: before 1920, in the Round Table Group; and after 1920, in All Souls. Lord Astor was of great importance in the later period, especially after 1930, but was of no significance in the earlier period — an indication of his relatively recent arrival in the Group.

The Times has recently published the first three volumes of a four-volume history of itself. Although no indication is given as to the authorship of these volumes, the acknowledgments show that the authors worked closely with All Souls and the Milner Group. For example, Harold Temperley and Keith Feiling read the proofs of the first two volumes, while E. L. Woodward read those of the third volume.

While members of the Milner Group thus went into The Times to control it, relatively few persons ever came into the Milner Group from The Times. The only two who readily come to mind are Sir Arthur Willert and Lady Lugard. (4)

Arthur Willert (Sir Arthur since 1919) entered Balliol in 1901 but did not take a degree until 1928. From 1906 to 1910 he was on the staff of The Times in Paris, Berlin, and Washington, and was then chief Times correspondent in Washington for ten years (1910-1920). During this period he was also secretary to the British War Mission in Washington (1917-1918) and Washington representative of the Ministry of Information. This brought him to the attention of the Milner Group, probably through Brand, and in 1921 he joined the Foreign Office as head of the News Department. During the next fifteen years he was a member of the British delegations to the Washington Conference of 1922, to the London Economic Conference of 1924, to the London Naval Conference of 1930, to the World Disarmament Conference of 1932-1934, and to the League of Nations in 1929-1934. He retired from the Foreign Office in 1935, but returned to an active life for the duration of the Second World War as head of the southern region for the Ministry of Information (1939-1945). In 1937, in cooperation with H. V. Hodson (then editor of The Round Table) and B. K. Long (of the Kindergarten), he wrote a book called The Empire in the World. He had previously written Aspects of British Foreign Policy (1928) and The Frontiers of England (1935).

The second person to come into the Milner Group from The Times was Lady Lugard (the former Flora Shaw), who was probably a member of the Rhodes secret society on The Times and appears to have been passing from The Times to the Milner Group, when she was really passing from the society to the Milner Group. She and her husband are of great significance in the latter organization, although neither was a member of the innermost circle.

Frederick Lugard (Sir Frederick after 1901 and Lord Lugard after 1928) was a regular British army officer who served in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and Burma in 1879-1887. In 1888 he led a successful expedition against slave-traders on Lake Nyasa, and was subsequently employed by the British East African Company, the Royal Niger Company, and British West Charterland in leading expeditions into the interior of Africa (1889- 1897). In 1897 he was appointed by the Salisbury government to be Her Majesty's Commissioner in the hinterland of Nigeria and Lagos and commandant of the West African Frontier Force, which he organized. Subsequently he was High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria (1900-1906) and Governor of Hong Kong (1907-1912), as well as Governor, and later Governor-General, of Nigeria (1912-1919). He wrote Our East African Empire (1893) and The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (1922), and also numerous articles (including one on West Africa in The Empire and the Century). He was one of the chief assistants of Lord Lothian and Lord Hailey in planning the African Survey in 1934- 1937, was British member of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations from 1922 to 1936, was one of the more influential figures in the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and is generally regarded as the inventor of the British system of "indirect rule" in colonial areas.

Flora Shaw, who married Sir Frederick Lugard in 1902, when he was forty-four and she was fifty, was made head of the Colonial Department of The Times in 1890, at the suggestion of Sir Robert George Wyndham Herbert, the Permanent Under Secretary of the Colonial Office. Sir Robert, whose grandmother was a Wyndham and whose grandfather was Earl of Carnarvon, was a Fellow of All Souls from 1854 to 1905. He was thus elected the year following Lord Salisbury's election. He began his political career as private secretary to Gladstone and was Permanent Under Secretary for twenty-one years (1871-1892, 1900). He was subsequently Agent General for Tasmania (1893-1896), High Sheriff of London, chairman of the Tariff Commission, and adviser to the Sultan of Johore, all under the Salisbury-Balfour governments.

When Miss Shaw was recommended to The Times as head of the Colonial Department, she was already a close friend of Moberly Bell, manager of The Times, and was an agent and close friend of Stead and Cecil Rhodes. The story of how she came to work for The Times, as told in that paper's official history, is simplicity itself: Bell wanted someone to head the Colonial Department, so he wrote to Sir Robert Herbert and was given the name of Flora Shawl Accordingly, Bell wrote, "as a complete stranger," to Miss Shaw and asked her "as an inexperienced writer for a specimen column." She wrote a sample article on Egyptian finance, which pleased Bell so greatly that she was given the position of head of the Colonial Department. That is the story as it appears in volume III of The History of The Times, published in 1947. Shortly afterward appeared the biography of Flora Shaw, written by the daughter of Moberly Bell and based on his private papers. The story that emerges from this volume is quite different. It goes somewhat as follows:

Flora Shaw, like most members of that part of the Cecil Bloc which shifted over to the Milner Group, was a disciple of John Ruskin and an ardent worker among the depressed masses of London's slums. Through Ruskin, she came to write for W. T. Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette in 1886, and three years later, through Stead, she met Cecil Rhodes. In the meantime, in 1888, she went to Egypt as correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette and there became a close friend of Moberly Bell, The Times correspondent in that country. Bell had been employed in this capacity in Egypt since 1865 and had become a close friend of Evelyn Baring (Lord Cromer), the British agent in Egypt. He had also become an expert on Egyptian finance and published a pamphlet on that subject in 1887. Miss Shaw's friendship with the Bell family was so close that she was practically a member of it, and Bell's children knew her, then and later, as "Aunt Flora."

In 1890, when Bell was transferred to Printing House Square as manager of The Times, Baring tried to persuade The Times to name Miss Shaw as Egyptian correspondent in Bell's place. This was not done. Instead, Miss Shaw returned to London and was introduced by Bell to Buckle. When Buckle told Miss Shaw that he wanted a head for the Colonial Department of the paper, she suggested that he consult with Sir Robert Herbert. From that point on, the account in The History of The Times is accurate. But it is clear, to anyone who has the information just mentioned, that the recommendation by Sir Robert Herbert, the test article on Egyptian finance, and probably the article itself, had been arranged previously between Moberly Bell and "Aunt Flora."

None of these early relationships of Miss Shaw with Bell, Buckle, and Herbert are mentioned in The History of The Times, and apparently they are not to be found in the records at Printing House Square. They are, however, a significant indication of the methods of the Milner Group. It is not clear what was the purpose of this elaborate scheme. Miss Moberly Bell apparently believes that it was to deceive Buckle. It is much more likely that it was to deceive the chief owners of The Times, John Walter III and his son, Arthur F. Walter.

Miss Shaw, when she came to The Times, was an open champion of Lord Salisbury and an active supporter of a vigorous imperial policy, especially in South Africa. She was in the confidence of the Colonial Office and of Rhodes to a degree that cannot be exaggerated. She met Rhodes, on Stead's recommendation, in 1889, at a time when Stead was one of Rhodes's closest confidants. In 1892, Miss Shaw was sent to South Africa by Moberly Bell, with instructions to set up two lines of communication from that area to herself. One of these was to be known to The Times and would handle routine matters; the second was to be known only to herself and was to bring confidential material to her private address. The expenses of both of these avenues would be paid for by The Times, but the expenses of the secret avenue would not appear on the records at Printing House Square. (5)

From this date onward, Miss Shaw was in secret communication with Cecil Rhodes. This communication was so close that she was informed by Rhodes of the plot which led up to the Jameson Raid, months before the raid took place. She was notified by Rhodes of the approximate date on which the raid would occur, two weeks before it did occur. She even suggested on several occasions that the plans be executed more rapidly, and on one occasion suggested a specific date for the event.

In her news articles, Miss Shaw embraced the cause of the British in the Transvaal even to the extent of exaggerating and falsifying their hardships under Boer rule. (6) It was The Times that published as an exclusive feature the famous (and fraudulent) "women and children" letter, dated 20 December 1895, which pretended to be an appeal for help from the persecuted British in the Transvaal to Dr. Jameson's waiting forces, but which had really been concocted by Dr. Jameson himself on 20 November and sent to Miss Shaw a month later. This letter was published by The Times as soon as news of the Jameson' Raid was known, as a justification of the act. The Times continued to defend and justify the raid and Jameson. After this became a rather delicate policy — that is, after the raid failed and had to be disavowed — The Times was saved from the necessity of reversing itself by the "Kruger telegram" sent by the German Kaiser to congratulate the Boers on their successful suppression of the raiders. This "Kruger telegram" was played up by The Times with such vigor that Jameson was largely eclipsed and the incident assumed the dimensions of an international crisis. As the official History of The Times puts it, "The Times was carried so far by indignation against the outrageous interference of the Kaiser in the affairs of the British Empire that it was able to overlook the criminality of Jameson's act." A little later, the same account says, "On January 7, Rhodes' resignation from the Premiership was announced, while the Editor found it more convenient to devote his leading article to the familiar topic of German interference rather than to the consequences of the Raid." (7)

All of this was being done on direct instructions from Rhodes, and with the knowledge and approval of the management of The Times. In fact, Miss Shaw was the intermediary between Rhodes, The Times, and the Colonial Office (Joseph Chamberlain). Until the end of November 1895, her instructions from Rhodes came to her through his agent in London, Dr. Rutherfoord Harris, but, when the good Dr. Harris and Alfred Beit returned to South Africa in order to be on hand for the anticipated excitement, the former gave Miss Shaw the secret code of the British South Africa Company and the cable address TELEMONES LONDON, so that communications from Rhodes to Miss Shaw could be sent directly. Dr. Harris had already informed Rhodes by a cable of 4 November 1895:

"If you can telegraph course you wish Times to adopt now with regard to Transvaal Flora will act."


On 10 December 1895, Miss Shaw cabled Rhodes:
"Can you advise when will you commence the plans, we wish to send at earliest opportunity sealed instructions representative of the Lond Times European Capitals; it is most important using their influence in your favor."


The use of the word "we" in this message disposes once and for all of Miss Shaw's later defense that all her acts were done on her own private responsibility and not in her capacity as a department head of The Times. In answer to this request, Rhodes replied the next day: "We do think about new year."

This answer made The Times' s manager "very depressed," so the next day (12 December) Miss Shaw sent the following cable to Rhodes:

"Delay dangerous sympathy now complete but will depend very much upon action before European powers given time enter a protest which as European situation considered serious might paralyze government."


Five days after this came another cable, which said in part:

"Chamberlain sound in case of interference European powers but have special reason to believe wishes you must do it immediately."


To these very incriminating messages might be added two of several wires from Rhodes to Miss Shaw. One of 30 December 1895, after Rhodes knew that the Jameson Raid had begun and after Miss Shaw had been so informed by secret code, stated:

"Inform Chamberlain that I shall get through all right if he supports me, but he must not send cable like he sent high commissioner in South Africa. Today the crux is, I will win and South Africa will belong to England."


And the following day, when the outcome of the raid was doubtful because of the failure of the English in the Transvaal to rise against the Boers — a failure resulting from that the fact that they were not as ill-treated as Miss Shaw, through The times, had been telling the world for months — Rhodes cabled:

"Unless you can make Chamberlain instruct the high commissioner to proceed at once to Johannesburg the whole position is lost. High commissioner would receive splendid reception and still turn position to England advantage but must be instructed by cable immediately. The instructions must be specific as he is weak and will take no responsibility." (8)


When we realize that the anticipated uprising of the English in the Transvaal had been financed and armed with munitions from the funds of the British South Africa Company, it is clear that we must wait until Hitler's coup in Austria in March 1938 to find a parallel to Rhodes's and Jameson's attempted coup in South Africa forty- two years earlier.

The Jameson Raid, if the full story could ever be told, would give the finest possible example of the machinations of Rhodes 's secret society. Another example, almost as good, would be the completely untold story of how the society covered up these activities in the face of the investigation of the Parliamentary Select Committee. The dangers from this investigation were so great that even Lord Rothschild was pressed into service as a messenger. It was obvious from the beginning that the star witness before the committee would be Cecil Rhodes and that the chief danger would be the incrimination of Joseph Chamberlain, who clearly knew of the plot. Milner, Garrett, Stead, and Esher discussed possible defenses and reached no conclusion, since Stead wanted to admit that Chamberlain was implicated in plans for a raid but not plans for the raid. By this, Stead meant that Chamberlain and Rhodes had seen the possibility of an uprising in the Transvaal and, solely as a precautionary measure, had made the preparations for Jameson's force so that it would be available to go to Johannesburg to restore order. The others refused to accept this strategy and insisted on the advantages of a general and blanket denial. This difference of opinion probably arose from the fact that Stead did not know that the prospective rebels in Johannesburg were armed and financed by Rhodes, were led by Rhodes's brother and Abe Bailey, and had written the"women and children" message, in collaboration with Jameson, weeks before. These facts, if revealed to the committee, would make it impossible to distinguish between "the raid" and "a raid." The event of 31 December 1895, which the committee was investigating, was the former and not the latter merely because the plotters in Johannesburg failed to revolt on schedule. This is clear from Edward Cook's statement, in his biography of Garrett, that Garrett expected to receive news of a revolution in Johannesburg at any moment on 30 December 1895. (9)

The difficulty which the initiates in London had in preparing a defense for the Select Committee was complicated by the fact that they were not able to reach Rhodes, who was en route from South Africa with Garrett. As soon as the boat docked, Brett (Lord Esher) sent "Natty" Rothschild from London with a message from Chamberlain to Rhodes. When Rothschild returned, Brett called in Stead, and they discussed the projected defense. Stead had already seen Rhodes and given his advice. (10) The following day (5 February 1896), Brett saw Rhodes and found that he was prepared to confess everything. Brett tried to dissuade him. As he wrote in his Journal, "I pointed out to him that there was one consideration which appeared to have escaped him, that was the position of Mr. Chamberlain, the Secretary of State. Chamberlain was obviously anxious to help and it would not do to embarrass him or to tie his hands. It appeared to me to be prudent to endeavour to ascertain how Chamberlain would receive a confidence of this kind. I said I would try to find out. On leaving me he said, 'Wish we could get our secret society.'" Brett went to Chamberlain, who refused to receive Rhodes's confession, lest he have to order the law officers to take proceedings against Rhodes as against Jameson. Accordingly, the view of the majority, a general denial, was adopted and proved successful, thanks to the leniency of the members of the Select Committee. Brett recognized this leniency. He wrote to Stead on 19 February 1897: "I came up with Milner from Windsor this morning. He has a heavy job; and has to start de novo. The committee will leave few of the old gang on their legs. Alas. Rhodes was a pitiful object. Harcourt very sorry for him; too sorry to press his question home. Why did Rhodes try to shuffle after all we had told him?" (11)

It is clear that the Select Committee made no real effort to uncover the real relationships between the conspirators, The Times, and the Salisbury government. When witnesses refused to produce documents or to answer questions, the committee did not insist, and whole fields of inquiry were excluded from examination by the committee.

One of these fields, and probably the most important one, was the internal policies and administration of The Times itself. As a result, when Campbell-Bannerman, an opposition leader, asked if it were usual practice for The Times correspondents to be used to propagate certain policies in foreign countries as well as to obtain information, Miss Shaw answered that she had been excused from answering questions about the internal administration of The Times. We now know, as a result of the publication of the official History of The Times, that all Miss Shaw's acts were done in consultation with the manager, Moberly Bell.(12) The vital telegrams to Rhodes, signed by Miss Shaw, were really drafted by Bell. As The History of The Times puts it, "Bell had taken the risk of allowing Miss Shaw to commit The Times to the support of Rhodes in a conspiracy that was bound to lead to controversy at home, if it succeeded, and likely to lead to prosecution if it failed. The conspiracy had failed; the prosecution had resulted. Bell's only salvation lay in Miss Shaw's willingness to take personal responsibility for the telegrams and in her ability to convince the Committee accordingly." And, as the evidence of the same source shows, in order to convince the committee it was necessary for Miss Shaw to commit perjury, even though the representatives of both parties on the Committee of Enquiry (except Labouchere) were making every effort to conceal the real facts while still providing the public with a good show.

Before leaving the discussion of Miss Shaw and the Jameson Raid, it might be fitting to introduce testimony from a somewhat unreliable witness, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a member by breeding and education of this social group and a relative of the Wyndhams, but a psychopathic anti-imperialist who spent his life praising and imitating the Arabs and criticizing Britain's conduct in India, Egypt, and Ireland. In his diaries, under the date 25 April 1896, he says: "[George Wyndham] has been seeing much of Jameson, whom he likes, and of the gang that have been running the Transvaal business, about a dozen of them, with Buckle, The Times editor, and Miss Flora Shaw, who, he told me confidentially, is really the prime mover in the whole thing, and who takes the lead in all their private meetings, a very clever middle-aged woman. "(13) A somewhat similar conclusion was reached by W. T. Stead in a pamphlet called Joseph Chamberlain: Conspirator or Statesman, which he published from the office of The Review of Reviews in 1900. Stead was convinced that Miss Shaw was the intermediary among Rhodes, The Times, and the Colonial Office. And Stead was Rhodes's closest confidant in England.

As a result of this publicity, Miss Shaw's value to The Times was undoubtedly reduced, and she gave up her position after her marriage in 1902. In the meantime, however, she had been in correspondence with Milner as early as 1899, and in December 1901 made a trip to South Africa for The Times, during which she had long interviews with Milner, Monypenny, and the members of the Kindergarten. After her resignation, she continued to review books for The Times Literary Supplement, wrote an article on tropical dependencies for The Empire and the Century, wrote two chapters for Amery's History of the South African War, and wrote a biographical sketch of Cecil Rhodes for the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

A third member of this same type was Valentine Chirol (Sir Valentine after 1912). Educated at the Sorbonne, he was a clerk in the Foreign Office for four years (1872- 1 876) and then traveled about the world, but chiefly in the Near East, for sixteen years (1876-1892). In 1892 he was made The Times correspondent in Berlin, and for the next four years filled the role of a second British ambassador, with free access to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin and functioning as a channel of unofficial communication between the government in London and that in Berlin. After 1895 he became increasingly anti- German, like all members of the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, and was chiefly responsible for the great storm whipped up over the "Kruger telegram." In this last connection he even went so far as to announce in The Times that the Germans were really using the Jameson episode as part of a long-range project to drive Britain out of South Africa and that the next step in that process was to be the dispatch in the immediate future of a German expeditionary force to Delagoa Bay in Portuguese Angola. As a result of this attitude, Chirol found the doors of the Foreign Ministry closed to him and, after another unfruitful year in Berlin, was brought to London to take charge of the Foreign Department of The Times. He held this post for fifteen years (1897-1912), during which he was one of the most influential figures in the formation of British foreign and imperial policy. The policy he supported was the policy that was carried out, and included support for the Boer War, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the Entente Cordiale, the agreement of 1907 with Russia, the Morley-Minto Reforms in India, and the increasing resistance to Germany. When he retired in 1912, he was knighted by Asquith for his important contributions to the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 and was made a member of the Royal Commission on Public Services in India (1912-1914). He remained in India during most of the First World War, and, indeed, made seventeen visits to that country in his life. In 1916 he was one of the five chief advisers to Lionel Curtis in the preparatory work for the Government of India Act of 1919 (the other four being Lord Chelmsford, Meston, Marris, and Hailey). Later Chirol wrote articles for The Round Table and was a member of the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference.

Chirol was replaced as head of the Foreign Department during his long absences from London by Leopold Amery. It was expected that Amery would be Chirol's successor in the post, but Amery entered upon a political career in 1910, so the position was given briefly to Dudley Disraeli graham, graham, a former classmate of many of the Kindergarten at New College, was a foreign correspondent of The Times for ten years (1897-1907) and Chirol's assistant for five (1907-1912), before he became Chirol's successor in the Foreign Department and Grigg's successor in the Imperial Department, thus combining the two. He resigned from The Times in 1914 to become editor of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia, and was subsequently a very important figure in Australian newspaper life.

This account, by no means complete, shows clearly that the Milner Group controlled The Times, indirectly from 1912 if not earlier, and directly from 1922. The importance of this control should be obvious. The Times, although of a very limited circulation (only about 35,000 at the beginning of the century, 50,000 at the outbreak of the First World War, and 187,000 in 1936), was the most influential paper in England. The reason for this influence is not generally recognized, although the existence of the condition itself is widely known. The influence depended upon the close relationship between the paper and the Foreign Office. This relationship, as we are trying to show, was the result of the Milner Group's influence in both.

This influence was not exercised by acting directly on public opinion, since the Milner Group never intended to influence events by acting through any instruments of mass propaganda, but rather hoped to work on the opinions of the small group of "important people," who in turn could influence wider and wider circles of persons. This was the basis on which the Milner Group itself was constructed; it was the theory behind the Rhodes Scholarships; it was the theory behind "The Round Table and the Royal Institute of International Affairs; it was the theory behind the efforts to control All Souls, New College, and Balliol and, through these three, to control Oxford University; and it was the theory behind The Times. No effort was made to win a large circulation for The Times, for, in order to obtain such a circulation, it would have been necessary to make changes in the tone of the paper that would have reduced its influence with the elite, to which it had been so long directed. The theory of "the elite" was accepted by the Milner Group and by The Times, as it was by Rhodes. The historian of The Times recognizes this and, after describing the departure from Printing House Square of Bell, Chirol, and Buckle, says, "It is a valid criticism of the 'Olaf Gang' that they had not realized that they were in the habit of valuing news according to the demands and interests of a governing class too narrowly defined for the twentieth century." It was on this issue that the "Old Gang" disputed with Northcliffe in the period 1908-1912 and that Dawson disputed with Northcliffe in 1919. Although the new owner protested to all who would listen, in 1908 and later, that he would not try to make The Times into a popular paper, he was, as The History of The Times shows, incapable of judging the merits of a newspaper by any other standard than the size of its circulation. After he was replaced as chief proprietor by Astor, and Dawson re-occupied the editor's chair, the old point of view was reestablished. The Times was to be a paper for the people who are influential, and not for the masses. The Times was influential, but the degree of its influence would never be realized by anyone who examined only the paper itself. The greater part of its influence arose from its position as one of several branches of a single group, the Milner Group. By the interaction of these various branches on one another, under the pretense that each branch was an autonomous power, the influence of each branch was increased through a process of mutual reinforcement. The unanimity among the various branches was believed by the outside world to be the result of the influence of a single Truth, while really it was the result of the existence of a single group. Thus, a statesman (a member of the Group) announces a policy. About the same time, the Royal Institute of International Affairs publishes a study on the subject, and an Oxford don, a Fellow of All Souls (and a member of the Group) also publishes a volume on the subject (probably through a publishing house, like G. Bell and Sons or Faber and Faber, allied to the Group). The statesman's policy is subjected to critical analysis and final approval in a "leader" in The Times, while the two books are reviewed (in a single review) in The Times Literary Supplement. Both the "leader" and the review are anonymous but are written by members of the Group. And finally, at about the same time, an anonymous article in The Round Table strongly advocates the same policy. The cumulative effect of such tactics as this, even if each tactical move influences only a small number of important people, is bound to be great. If necessary, the strategy can be carried further, by arranging for the secretary to the Rhodes Trustees to go to America for a series of "informal discussions" with former Rhodes Scholars, while a prominent retired statesman (possibly a former Viceroy of India) is persuaded to say a few words at the unveiling of a plaque in All Souls or New College in honor of some deceased Warden. By a curious coincidence, both the "informal discussions" in America and the unveiling speech at Oxford touch on the same topical subject.

An analogous procedure in reverse could be used for policies or books which the Group did not approve. A cutting editorial or an unfriendly book review, followed by a suffocating blanket of silence and neglect, was the best that such an offering could expect from the instruments of the Milner Group. This is not easy to demonstrate because of the policy of anonymity followed by writers and reviewers in The Times, The Round Table, and The Times Literary Supplement, but enough cases have been found to justify this statement. When J. A. Farrer's book England under Edward VII was published in 1922 and maintained that the British press, especially The Times, was responsible for bad Anglo-German feeling before 1909, The Times Literary Supplement gave it to J. W. Headlam-Morley to review. And when Baron von Eckardstein, who was in the German Embassy in London at the time of the Boer War, published his memoirs in 1920, the same journal gave the book to Chirol to review, even though Chirol was an interested party and was dealt with in a critical fashion in several passages in the book itself. Both of these reviews were anonymous.

There is no effort here to contend that the Milner Group ever falsified or even concealed evidence (although this charge could be made against The Times). Rather it propagated its point of view by interpretation and selection of evidence. In this fashion it directed policy in ways that were sometimes disastrous. The Group as a whole was made up of intelligent men who believed sincerely, and usually intensely, in what they advocated, and who knew that their writings were intended for a small minority as intelligent as themselves. In such conditions there could be no value in distorting or concealing evidence. To do so would discredit the instruments they controlled. By giving the facts as they stood, and as completely as could be done in consistency with the interpretation desired, a picture could be construed that would remain convincing for a long time.

This is what was done by The Times. Even today, the official historian of The Times is unable to see that the policy of that paper was anti-German from 1895 to 1914 and as such contributed to the worsening of Anglo-German relations and thus to the First World War. This charge has been made by German and American students, some of them of the greatest diligence and integrity, such as Professors Sidney B. Fay, William L. Langer, Oron J. Hale, and others. The recent History of The Times devotes considerable space and obviously spent long hours of research in refuting these charges, and fails to see that it has not succeeded. With the usual honesty and industry of the Milner Group, the historian gives the evidence that will convict him, without seeing that his interpretation will not hold water. He confesses that the various correspondents of The Times in Berlin played up all anti-English actions and statements and played down all pro-English ones; that they quoted obscure and locally discredited papers in order to do this; that all The Times foreign correspondents in Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and elsewhere were anti-German, and that these were the ones who were kept on the staff and promoted to better positions; that the one member of the staff who was recognized as being fair to Germany (and who was unquestionably the most able man in the whole Times organization), Donald Mackenzie Wallace, was removed as head of the Foreign Department and shunted off to be editor of the supplementary volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica (which was controlled by The Times); and that The Times frequently printed untrue or distorted information on Germany. All of this is admitted and excused as the work of honest, if hasty, journalists, and the crowning proof that The Times was not guilty as charged is implied to be the fact that the Germans did ultimately get into a war with Britain, thus proving at one stroke that they were a bad lot and that the attitude of The Times staff toward them was justified by the event.

It did not occur to the historian of The Times that there exists another explanation of Anglo-German relations, namely that in 1895 there were two Germanies — the one admiring Britain and the other hating Britain — and that Britain, by her cold-blooded and calculated assault on the Boers in 1895 and 1899, gave the second (and worse) Germany the opportunity to criticize and attack Britain and gave it the arguments with which to justify a German effort to build up naval defenses. The Times, by quoting these attacks and actions representative of the real attitude and actual intentions of all Germans, misled the British people and abandoned the good Germans to a hopeless minority position, where to be progressive, peaceful, or Anglophile was to be a traitor to Germany itself. Chirol's alienation of Baron von Eckardstein (one of the "good" Germans, married to an English lady), in a conversation in February 1900,(14) shows exactly how The Times attitude was contributing to consolidate and alienate the Germans by the mere fact of insisting that they were consolidated and alienated — and doing this to a man who loved England and hated the reactionary elements in Germany more than Chirol ever did.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 7: The Round Table

The second important propaganda effort of the Milner Group in the period after 1909 was The Round Table. This was part of an effort by the circle of the Milner Group to accomplish for the whole Empire what they had just done for South Africa. The leaders were Philip Kerr in London, as secretary of the London group, and Lionel Curtis throughout the world, as organizing secretary for the whole movement, but most of the members of the Kindergarten cooperated in the project. The plan of procedure was the same as that which had worked so successfully in South Africa — that is, to form local groups of influential men to agitate for imperial federation and to keep in touch with these groups by correspondence and by the circulation of a periodical. As in South Africa, the original cost of the periodical was paid by Abe Bailey. This journal, issued quarterly, was called The Round Table, and the same name was applied to the local groups.

Of these local groups, the most important by far was the one in London. In this, Kerr and Brand were the chief figures. The other local groups, also called Round Tables, were set up by Lionel Curtis and others in South Africa, in Canada, in New Zealand, in Australia, and, in a rather rudimentary fashion and somewhat later, in India.

The reasons for doing this were described by Curtis himself in 1917 in A Letter to the People of India, as follows: "We feared that South Africa might abstain from a future war with Germany, on the grounds that they had not participated in the decision to make war.... Confronted by this dilemma at the very moment of attaining Dominion self- government, we thought it would be wise to ask people in the oldest and most experienced of all Dominions what they thought of the matter. So in 1909, Mr. Kerr and I went to Canada and persuaded Mr. Marris, who was then on leave, to accompany us." (1)

On this trip the three young men covered a good portion of the Dominion. One day, during a walk through the forests on the Pacific slopes of the Canadian Rockies, Marris convinced Curtis that "self-government, . . . however far distant, was the only intelligible goal of British policy in India.... The existence of political unrest in India, far from being a reason for pessimism, was the surest sign that the British, with all their manifest failings, had not shirked their primary duty of extending Western education to India and so preparing Indians to govern themselves." "I have since looked back on this walk," wrote Curtis, "as one of the milestones of my own education. So far I had thought of self- government as a Western institution, which was and would always remain peculiar to the peoples of Europe.... It was from that moment that I first began to think of 'the Government of each by each and of all by all' not merely as a principle of Western life, but rather of all human life, as the goal to which all human societies must tend. It was from that moment that I began to think of the British Commonwealth as the greatest instrument ever devised for enabling that principle to be realized, not merely for the children of Europe, but for all races and kindreds and peoples and tongues. And it is for that reason that I have ceased to speak of the British Empire and called the book in which I published my views The Commonwealth of Nations."

Because of Curtis's position and future influence, this walk in Canada was important not only in his personal life but also in the future history of the British Empire. It needs only to be pointed out that India received complete self-government in 1947 and the British Commonwealth changed its name officially to Commonwealth of Nations in 1948. There can be no doubt that both of these events resulted in no small degree from the influence of Lionel Curtis and the Milner Group, in which he was a major figure.

Curtis and his friends stayed in Canada for four months. Then Curtis returned to South Africa for the closing session of the Transvaal Legislative Council, of which he was a member. He there drafted a memorandum on the whole question of imperial relations, and, on the day that the Union of South Africa came into existence, he sailed to New Zealand to set up study groups to examine the question. These groups became the Round Table Groups of New Zealand. (2)

The memorandum was printed with blank sheets for written comments opposite the text. Each student was to note his criticisms on these blank pages. Then they were to meet in their study groups to discuss these comments, in the hope of being able to draw up joint reports, or at least majority and minority reports, on their conclusions. These reports were to be sent to Curtis, who was to compile a comprehensive report on the whole imperial problem. This comprehensive report would then be submitted to the groups in the same fashion and the resulting comments used as a basis for a final report.

Five study groups of this type were set up in New Zealand, and then five more in Australia. (3) The decision was made to do the same thing in Canada and in England, and this was done by Curtis, Kerr, and apparently Dove during 1910. On the trip to Canada, the missionaries carried with them a letter from Milner to his old friend Arthur J. Glazebrook, with whom he had remained in close contact throughout the years since Glazebrook went to Canada for an English bank in 1893. The Round Table in 1941, writing of Glazebrook, said, "His great political hero was his friend Lord Milner, with whom he kept up a regular correspondence." As a result of this letter from Milner, Glazebrook undertook the task of founding Round Table Groups in Canada and did this so well that he was for twenty years or more the real head of the network of Milner Group units in the Dominion. He regularly wrote the Canadian articles in The Round Table magazine. When he died, in 1940, The Round Table obituary spoke of him as "one of the most devoted and loyal friends that The Round Table has ever known. Indeed he could fairly claim to be one of its founding fathers." In the 1930s he relinquished his central position in the Canadian branch of the Milner Group to Vincent Massey, son-in- law of George Parkin. Glazebrook's admiration for Parkin was so great that he named his son George Parkin de Twenebrokes Glazebrook. (4) At the present time Vincent Massey and G. P. de T. Glazebrook are apparently the heads of the Milner Group organization in Canada, having inherited the position from the latter's father. Both are graduates of Balliol, Massey in 1913 and Glazebrook in 1924. Massey, a member of a very wealthy Canadian family, was lecturer in modern history at Toronto University in 1913-1915, and then served, during the war effort, as a staff officer in Canada, as associate secretary of the Canadian Cabinet's War Committee, and as secretary and director of the Government Repatriation Committee. Later he was Minister without Portfolio in the Canadian Cabinet (1924), a member of the Canadian delegation to the Imperial Conference of 1926, and first Canadian Minister to the United States (1926-1930). He was president of the National Liberal Federation of Canada in 1932-1935, Canadian High Commissioner in London in 1935-1946, and Canadian delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1936. He has been for a long time governor of the University of Toronto and of Upper Canada College (Parkin's old school). He remains to this day one of the strongest supporters of Oxford University and of a policy of close Canadian cooperation with the United Kingdom.

G. P. de T. Glazebrook, son of Milner's old friend Arthur J. Glazebrook and namesake of Milner's closest collaborator in the Rhodes Trust, was born in 1900 and studied at Upper Canada College, the University of Toronto, and Balliol. Since 1924 he has been teaching history at Toronto University, but since 1942 has been on leave to the Dominion government, engaged in strategic intelligence work with the Department of External Affairs. Since 1948 he has been on loan from the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Defense, where he is acting as head of the new Joint Services Intelligence. This highly secret agency appears to be the Canadian equivalent to the American Central Intelligence Agency. Glazebrook has written a number of historical works, including a History of Transportation in Canada (1938), Canadian External Affairs, a Historical Study to 1914 (1942), and Canada at the Peace Conference (1942).

It was, as we have said, George Parkin Glazebrook's father who, acting in cooperation with Curtis, Kerr, and Marris and on instructions from Milner, set up the Round Table organization in Canada in 1911. About a dozen units were established in various cities.

It was during the effort to extend the Round Table organization to Australia that Curtis first met Lord Chelmsford. He was later Viceroy of India (in 1916-1921), and there can be little doubt that the Milner Group was influential in this appointment, for Curtis discussed the plans which eventually became the Government of India Act of 1919 with him before he went to India and consulted with him in India on the same subject in 1916. (5)

From 1911 to 1913, Curtis remained in England, devoting himself to the reports coming in from the Round Table Groups on imperial organization, while Kerr devoted himself to the publication of The Round Table itself. This was an extraordinary magazine. The first issue appeared with the date 15 November 1910. It had no names in the whole issue, either of the officers or of the contributors of the five articles. The opening statement of policy was unsigned, and the only address to which communications could be sent was "The Secretary, 175 Piccadilly, London, W." This anonymity has been maintained ever since, and has been defended by the journal itself in advertisements, on the grounds that anonymity gives the contributors greater independence and freedom. The real reasons, however, were much more practical than this and included the fact that the writers were virtually unknown and were so few in numbers, at first at least, as to make the project appear ridiculous had the articles been signed. For example, Philip Kerr, during his editorship, always wrote the leading article in every issue. In later years the anonymity was necessary because of the political prominence of some of the contributors. In general, the policy of the journal has been such that it has continued to conceal the identity of its writers until their deaths. Even then, they have never been connected with any specific article, except in the case of one article (the first one in the first issue) by Lord Lothian. This article was reprinted in The Round Table after the author's death in 1940.

The Round Table was essentially the propaganda vehicle of a handful of people and could not have carried signed articles either originally, when they were too few, or later, when they were too famous. It was never intended to be either a popular magazine or self-supporting, but rather was aimed at influencing those in a position to influence public opinion. As Curtis wrote in 1920, "A large quarterly like The Round Table is not intended so much for the average reader, as for those who write for the average reader. It is meant to be a storehouse of information of all kinds upon which publicists can draw. Its articles must be taken on their merits and as representing nothing beyond the minds and information of the individual writer of each." (6)

It is perhaps worth mentioning that the first article of the first issue, called "Anglo- German Rivalry," was very anti-German and forms an interesting bit of evidence when taken in connection with Curtis's statement that the problem of the Empire was raised in 1909 by the problem of what role South Africa would play in a future war with Germany. The Group, in the period before 1914, were clearly anti-German. This must be emphasized because of the mistaken idea which circulated after 1930 that the Cliveden group, especially men like Lord Lothian, were pro-German. They were neither anti- German in 1910 nor pro-German in 1938, but pro-Empire all the time, changing there their attitudes on other problems as these problems affected the Empire. And it should be realized that their love for the Empire was not mere jingoism or flag-waving (things at which Kerr mocked within the Group) (7) but was based on the sincere belief that freedom, civilization, and human decency could best be advanced through the instrumentality of the British Empire.

In view of the specific and practical purpose of The Round Table — to federate the Empire in order to ensure that the Dominions would join with the United Kingdom in a future war with Germany — the paper could not help being a propagandist organ, propagandist on a high level, it is true, but nonetheless a journal of opinion rather than a journal of information. Every general article in the paper (excluding the reports from representatives in the Dominions) was really an editorial — an unsigned editorial speaking for the group as a whole. By the 1920s these articles were declaring, in true editorial style, that "The Round Table does not approve of" something or other, or, "It seems to The Round Table that" something else.

Later the members of the Group denied that the Group were concerned with the propagation of any single point of view. Instead, they insisted that the purpose of the Group was to bring together persons of various points of view for purposes of self- education. This is not quite accurate. The Group did not contain persons of various points of view but rather persons of unusual unanimity of opinion, especially in regard to goals. There was a somewhat greater divergence in regard to methods, and the circulating of memoranda within the Group to evoke various comments was for the purpose of reaching some agreement on methods only — the goals being already given. In this, meetings of the Group were rather like the meetings of the British Cabinet, although any normal Cabinet would contain a greater variety of opinion than did the usual meetings of the Group. In general, an expression of opinion by any one member of the Group sounded like an echo of any of the others. Their systems of values were identical; the position of the British Commonwealth at the apex of that system was almost axiomatic; the important role played by moral and ideological influences in the Commonwealth and in the value system was accepted by all; the necessity of strengthening the bonds of the Commonwealth in view of the approaching crisis of the civilization of the West was accepted by all, so also was the need for closer union with the United States. There was considerable divergence of opinion regarding the practicality of imperial federation in the immediate future; there was some divergence of ideas regarding the rate at which self-government should be extended to the various parts of the Empire (especially India). There was a slight difference of emphasis on the importance of relations between the Commonwealth and the United States. But none of these differences of opinion was fundamental or important. The most basic divergence within the Group during the first twenty years or so was to be found in the field of economic ideas — a field in which the Group as a whole was extremely weak, and also extremely conservative. This divergence existed, however, solely because of the extremely unorthodox character of Lord Milner's ideas. Milner's ideas (as expressed, for example, in his book Questions of the Hour, published in 1923) would have been progressive, even unorthodox, in 1935. They were naturally ahead of the times in 1923, and they were certainly far ahead of the ideas of the Group as a whole, for its economic ideas would have been old-fashioned in 1905. These ideas of the Group (until 1931, at least) were those of late-nineteenth-century international banking and financial capitalism. The key to all economics and prosperity was considered to rest in banking and finance. With "sound money," a balanced budget, and the international gold standard, it was expected that prosperity and rising standards of living would follow automatically. These ideas were propagated through The Round Table, in the period after 1912, in a series of articles written by Brand and subsequently republished under his name, with the title War and National Finance (1921). They are directly antithetical to the ideas of Milner as revealed in his book published two years later. Milner insisted that financial questions must be subordinated to economic questions and economic questions to political questions. As a result, if a deflationary policy, initiated for financial reasons, has deleterious economic or political effects, it must be abandoned. Milner regarded the financial policy advocated by Brand in 1919 and followed by the British government for the next twelve years as a disaster, since it led to unemployment, depression, and ruination of the export trade, instead, Milner wanted to isolate the British economy from the world economy by tariffs and other barriers and encourage the economic development of the United Kingdom by a system of government spending, self-regulated capital and labor, social welfare, etc. This program, which was based on "monopoly capitalism" or even "national socialism" rather than "financial capitalism," as Brand's was, was embraced by most of the Milner Group after September 1931, when the ending of the gold standard in Britain proved once and for all that Brand's financial program of 1919 was a complete disaster and quite unworkable. As a result, in the years after 1931 the businessmen of the Milner Group embarked on a policy of government encouragement of self-regulated monopoly capitalism. This was relatively easy for many members of the Group because of the distrust of economic individualism which they had inherited from Toynbee and Milner. In April 1932, when P. Horsfall, manager of Lazard Brothers Bank (a colleague of Brand), asked John Dove to write a defense of individualism in The Round Table, Dove suggested that he write it himself, but, in reporting the incident to Brand, he clearly indicated that the Group regarded individualism as obsolete. (8)

This difference of opinion between Milner and Brand on economic questions is not of great importance. The important matter is that Brand's opinion prevailed within the Group from 1919 to 1931, while Milner's has grown in importance from 1931 to the present. The importance of this can be seen in the fact that the financial and economic policy followed by the British government from 1919 to 1945 runs exactly parallel to the policy of the Milner Group. This is no accident but is the result, as we shall see, of the dominant position held by the Milner Group in the councils of the Conservative-Unionist party since the First World War.

During the first decade or so of its existence, The Round Table continued to be edited and written by the inner circle of the Milner Group, chiefly by Lothian, Brand, Hichens, Grigg, Dawson, Fisher, and Dove. Curtis was too busy with the other activities of the Group to devote much time to the magazine and had little to do with it until after the war. By that time a number of others had been added to the Group, chiefly as writers of occasional articles. Most of these were members or future members of All Souls; they include Coupland, Zimmern, Arnold Toynbee, Arthur Salter, Sir Maurice Hankey, and others. The same Group that originally started the project in 1910 still controls it today, with the normal changes caused by death or old age. The vacancies resulting from these causes have been filled by new recruits from All Souls. It would appear that Coupland and Brand are the most influential figures today. The following list gives the editors of The Round Table from 1910 to the recent past:

Philip Kerr, 1910-1917 (assisted by E. Grigg, 1913-1915)
Reginald Coupland, 1917-1919
Lionel Curtis, 1919-1921
John Dove, 1921-1934
Henry V. Hodson, 1934-1939
Vincent Todd Harlow, (acting editor) 1938
Reginald Coupland, 1939-1941
Geoffrey Dawson, 1941-1944


Of these names, all but two are already familiar. H. V. Hodson, a recent recruit to the Milner Group, was taken from All Souls. Born in 1906, he was at Balliol for three years (1925-1928) and on graduation obtained a fellowship to All Souls, which he held for the regular term (1928-1935). This fellowship opened to him the opportunities which he had the ability to exploit. On the staff of the Economic Advisory Council from 1930 to 1931 and an important member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, he was assistant editor of The Round Table for three years (1931-1934) and became editor when Dove died in 1934. At the same time he wrote for Toynbee the economic sections of the Survey of International Affairs from 1929 on, publishing these in a modified form as a separate volume, with the title Slump and Recovery, 1929-1937, in 1938. With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he left The Round Table editorship and went to the Ministry of Information (which was controlled completely by the Milner Group) as director of the Empire Division. After two years in this post he was given the more critical position of Reforms Commissioner in the Government of India for two years (1941-1942) and then was made assistant secretary and later head of the non-munitions division of the Ministry of Production. This position was held until the war ended, three years later. He then returned to private life as assistant editor of The Sunday Times. In addition to the writings already mentioned, he published The Economics of a Changing World (1933) and The Empire in the World (1937), and edited The British Commonwealth and the Future (1939).

Vincent T. Harlow, born in 1898, was in the Royal Field Artillery in 1917-1919 and then went to Brasenose, where he took his degree in 1923. He was lecturer in Modern History at University College, Southampton, in 1923-1927, and then came into the magic circle of the Milner Group. He was keeper of Rhodes House Library in 1928-1938, Beit Lecturer in Imperial History in 1930-1935, and has been Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at the University of London since 1938. He was a member of the Imperial Committee of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and, during the war, was head of the Empire Information Service at the Ministry of Information. He lives near Oxford, apparently in order to keep in contact with the Group.

In the decade 1910-1920, the inner circle of the Milner Group was busy with two other important activities in addition to The Round Table magazine. These were studies of the problem of imperial federation and of the problem of extending self-government to India. Both of these were in charge of Lionel Curtis and continued with little interruption from the war itself. The Round Table, which was in charge of Kerr, never interrupted its publication, but from 1915 onward it became a secondary issue to winning the war and making the peace. The problem of imperial federation will be discussed here and in Chapter 8, the war and the peace in Chapter 7, and the problem of India in Chapter 10.

During the period 1911-1913, as we have said, Curtis was busy in England with the reports from the Round Table Groups in the Dominions in reply to his printed memorandum. At the end of 1911 and again in 1913, he printed these reports in two substantial volumes, without the names of the contributors. These volumes were never published, but a thousand copies of each were distributed to the various groups. On the basis of these reports, Curtis drafted a joint report, which was printed and circulated as each section was completed. It soon became clear that there was no real agreement within the groups and that imperial federation was not popular in the Dominions. This was a bitter pill to the Group, especially to Curtis, but he continued to work for several years more. In 1912, Milner and Kerr went to Canada and made speeches to Round Table Groups and their associates. The following year Curtis went to Canada to discuss the status of the inquiry on imperial organization with the various Round Table Groups there and summed up the results in a speech in Toronto in October 1913.(9) He decided to draw up four reports as follows: (a) the existing situation; (b) a system involving complete independence for the Dominions; (c) a plan to secure unity of foreign relations by each Dominion's following a policy independent from but parallel to that of Britain itself; (d) a plan to reduce the United Kingdom to a Dominion and create a new imperial government over all the Dominions. Since the last was what Curtis wanted, he decided to write that report himself and allow supporters of each of the other three to write theirs. A thousand copies of this speech were circulated among the groups throughout the world.

When the war broke out in 1914, the reports were not finished, so it was decided to print the four sections already sent out, with a concluding chapter. A thousand copies of this, with the title Project of a Commonwealth, were distributed among the groups. Then a popular volume on the subject, with the title The Problem of the Commonwealth and Curtis's name as editor, was published (May 1916). Two months later, the earlier work (Project) was published under the title The Commonwealth of Nations, again with Curtis named as editor. Thus appeared for the first time in public the name which the British Empire was to assume thirty-two years later. In the September 1916 issue of The Round Table, Kerr published a statement on the relationship of the two published volumes to the Round Table Groups. Because of the paper shortage in England, Curtis in 1916 went to Canada and Australia to arrange for the separate publication of The Problem of the Commonwealth in those countries. At the same time he set up new Round Table Groups in Australia and New Zealand. Then he went to India to begin serious work on Indian reform. From this emerged the Government of India Act of 1919, as we shall see later.

By this time Curtis and the others had come to realize that any formal federation of the Empire was impossible. As Curtis wrote in 1917 (in his Letter to the People of India): "The people of the Dominions rightly aspire to control their own foreign affairs and yet retain their status as British citizens. On the other hand, they detest the idea of paying taxes to any Imperial Parliament, even to one upon which their own representatives sit. The inquiry convinced me that, unless they sent members and paid taxes to an Imperial Parliament, they could not control their foreign affairs and also remain British subjects. But I do not think that doctrine is more distasteful to them than the idea of having anything to do with the Government of India."

Reluctantly Curtis and the others postponed the idea of a federated Empire and fell back on the idea of trying to hold the Empire together by the intangible bonds of common culture and common outlook. This had originally (in Rhodes and Milner) been a supplement to the project of a federation. It now became the chief issue, and the idea of federation fell into a secondary place. At the same time, the idea of federation was swallowed up in a larger scheme for organizing the whole world within a League of Nations. This idea had also been held by Rhodes and Milner, but in quite a different form. To the older men, the world was to be united around the British Empire as a nucleus. To Curtis, the Empire was to be absorbed into a world organization. This second idea was fundamentally mystical. Curtis believed: "Die and ye shall be born again." He sincerely felt that if the British Empire died in the proper way (by spreading liberty, brotherhood, and justice), it would be born again in a higher level of existence — as a world community, or, as he called it, a "Commonwealth of Nations."
It is not yet clear whether the resurrection envisaged by Curtis and his associates will occur, or whether they merely assisted at the crucifixion of the British Empire. The conduct of the new India in the next few decades will decide this question.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:18 am

Part 2 of 2

The idea for federation of the Empire was not original with the Round Table Group, although their writings would indicate that they sometimes thought so. The federation which they envisaged had been worked out in detail by persons close to the Cecil Bloc and was accepted by Milner and Rhodes as their own chief goal in life.

The original impetus for imperial federation arose within the Liberal Party as a reaction against the Little England doctrines that were triumphant in England before 1868. The original movement came from men like John Stuart Mill (whose arguments in support of the Empire are just like Curtis's) and Earl Grey (who was Colonial Secretary under Russell in 1846-1 852). (10)

This movement resulted in the founding of the Royal Colonial Society (now Royal Empire Society) in 1868 and, as a kind of subsidiary of this, the Imperial Federation League in 1884. Many Unionist members of the Cecil Bloc, such as Brassey and Goschen, were in these organizations. In 1875 F. P. Labilliere, a moving power in both organizations, read a paper before the older one on "The Permanent Unity of the Empire" and suggested a solution of the imperial problem by creating a superimposed imperial legislative body and a central executive over the whole Empire, including the United Kingdom. Seven years later, in "The Political Organization of the Empire," he divided authority between this new federal authority and the Dominions by dividing the business of government into imperial questions, local questions, and questions concerning both levels. He then enumerated the matters that would be allotted to each division, on a basis very similar to that later advocated by Curtis. Another speaker, George Bourinot, in 1880, dealt with "The Natural Development of Canada" in a fashion that sounds exactly like Curtis. (11)

These ideas and projects were embraced by Milner as his chief purpose in life until, like Curtis, he came to realize their impracticality. (12) Milner's ideas can be found in his speeches and letters, especially in two letters of 1901 to Brassey and Parkin. Brassey had started a campaign for imperial federation accompanied by devolution (that is, granting local issues to local bodies even within the United Kingdom) and the creation of an imperial parliament to include representatives of the colonies. This imperial parliament would deal with imperial questions, while local parliaments would deal with local questions. In pursuit of this project, Brassey published a pamphlet, in December 1900, called A Policy on Which All Liberals May Unite and sent to Milner an invitation to join him. Milner accepted in February 1901, saying:


"There are probably no two men who are more fully agreed in their general view of Imperial policy [than we].... It is clear to me that we require separate organs to deal with local home business and with Imperial business. The attempt to conduct both through one so-called Imperial Parliament is breaking down.... Granted that we must have separate Parliaments for Imperial and Local business, I have been coming by a different road, and for somewhat different reasons, to the conclusion which you also are heading for, viz: that it would be better not to create a new body over the so-called Imperial Parliament, but ... to create new bodies, or a new body under it for the local business of Great Britain and Ireland, leaving it to deal with the wider questions of Foreign Policy, the Defence of the Empire, and the relations of the several parts. In that case, of course, the colonies would have to be represented in the Imperial Parliament, which would thus become really Imperial. One great difficulty, no doubt, is that, if this body were to be really effective as an instrument of Imperial Policy, it would require to be reduced in numbers.... The reduction in numbers of British members might no doubt be facilitated by the creation of local legislatures.... The time is ripe to make a beginning.... I wish Rosebery, who could carry through such a policy if any man could, was less pessimistic."


The idea of devolving the local business of the imperial parliament upon local legislative bodies for Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland was advocated in a book by Lord Esher called After the War and in a book called The Great Opportunity by Edward Wood (the future Lord Halifax). These books, in their main theme, were nothing more than a restatement of this aspect of the imperial federation project. They were accompanied, on 4 June 1919, by a motion introduced in the House of Commons by Wood, and carried by a vote of 187 to 34, that "the time has come for the creation of subordinate legislatures within the United Kingdom." Nothing came of this motion, just as nothing came of the federation plans.

Milner's ideas on the latter subject were restated in a letter to Parkin on 18 September 1901:

"The existing Parliaments, whether British or Colonial, are too small, and so are the statesmen they produce (except in accidental cases like Chamberlain), for such big issues. Until we get a real Imperial Council, not merely a Consultative, but first a Constitutional, and then an Executive Council with control of all our world business, we shall get nothing. Look at the way in which the splendid opportunities for federal defence which this war afforded, have been thrown away. I believe it will come about, but at present I do not see the man to do it. Both you and I could help him enormously, almost decisively indeed, for I have, and doubtless you have, an amount of illustration and argument to bring to bear on the subject, drawn from practical experience, which would logically smash the opposition. Our difficulty in the old days was that we were advocating a grand, but, as it seemed, an impractical idea. I should advocate the same thing today as an urgent practical necessity." (13)


The failure of imperial federation in the period 1910-1917 forced Parkin and Milner to fall back on ideological unity as achieved through the Rhodes Scholarships, just as the same event forced Curtis and others to fall back on the same goal as achieved through the Royal Institute of International Affairs. All parties did this with reluctance. As Dove wrote to Brand in 1923, "This later thing [the RIIA] is all right — it may help us to reach that unity of direction in foreign policy we are looking for, if it becomes a haunt of visitors from the Dominions; but Lionel's first love has still to be won, and if, as often happens, accomplishment lessens appetite, and he turns again to his earlier and greater work, we shall all be the gainers. "(14)

This shift from institutional to ideological bonds for uniting the Empire makes it necessary that we should have a clear idea of the outlook of The Round Table and the whole Milner Group. This outlook was well stated in an article in Volume III of that journal, from the pen of an unidentified writer. This article, entitled "The Ethics of Empire," is deserving of close attention. It emphasized that the arguments for the Empire and the bonds which bind it together must be moral and not based on considerations of material advantage or even of defense. This emphasis on moral considerations, rather than economic or strategic, is typical of the Group as a whole and is found in Milner and even in Rhodes. Professional politicians, bureaucrats, utilitarians, and materialist social reformers are criticized for their failure to "appeal convincingly as an ideal of moral welfare to the ardour and imagination of a democratic people." They are also criticized for failure to see that this is the basis on which the Empire was reared.

"The development of the British Empire teaches how moral conviction and devotion to duty have inspired the building of the structure. Opponents of Imperialism are wont to suggest that the story will not bear inspection, that it is largely a record of self-aggrandizement and greed. Such a charge betrays ignorance of its history.... The men who have laboured most enduringly at the fabric of Empire were not getters of wealth and plunderers of spoil. It was due to their strength of character and moral purpose that British rule in India and Egypt has become the embodiment of order and justice.... Duty is an abstract term, but the facts it signifies are the most concrete and real in our experience. The essential thing is to grasp its meaning as a motive power in men s lives. [This was probably from Kerr, but could have been Toynbee or Milner speaking. The writer continued:] The end of the State is to make men, and its strength is measured not in terms of defensive armaments or economic prosperity but by the moral personality of its citizens.... The function of the State is positive and ethical, to secure for its individual members that they shall not merely live but live well. Social reformers are prone to insist too strongly on an ideal of material comfort for the people.... A life of satisfaction depends not on higher wages or lower prices or on leisure for recreation, but on work that calls into play the higher capacities of man's nature.... The cry of the masses should be not for wages or comforts or even liberty, but for opportunities for enterprise and responsibility. A policy for closer union in the Empire is full of significance in relation to this demand.... There is but one way of promise. It is that the peoples of the Empire shall realize their national unity and draw from that ideal an inspiration to common endeavour in the fulfillment of the moral obligations which their membership of the Empire entails. The recognition of common Imperial interests is bound to broaden both their basis of public action and their whole view of life. Public life is ennobled by great causes and by these alone.... Political corruption, place-hunting, and party intrigue have their natural home in small communities where attention is concentrated upon local interests. Great public causes call into being the intellectual and moral potentialities of people.... The phrases "national character," "national will," and "national personality" are no empty catchwords. Everyone knows that esprit de corps is not a fiction but a reality; that the spirit animating a college or a regiment is something that cannot be measured in terms of the private contributions of the individual members.... The people of the Empire are face to face with a unique and an historic opportunity! It is their mission to base the policy of a Great Empire on the foundations of freedom and law.... It remains for them to crown the structure by the institution of a political union that shall give solidarity to the Empire as a whole. Duty and the logic of facts alike point this goal of their endeavour."


In this article can be found, at least implicitly, all the basic ideas of the Milner Group: their suspicion of party politics; their emphasis on moral qualities and the cement of common outlook for linking people together; their conviction that the British Empire is the supreme moral achievement of man, but an achievement yet incomplete and still unfolding; their idea that the highest moral goals are the development of personality through devotion to duty and service under freedom and law; their neglect, even scorn, for economic considerations; and their feeling for the urgent need to persuade others to accept their point of view in order to allow the Empire to achieve the destiny for which they yearn.

The Milner Group is a standing refutation of the Marxist or Leninist interpretations of history or of imperialism. Its members were motivated only slightly by materialistic incentives, and their imperialism was motivated not at all by the desire to preserve or extend capitalism. On the contrary their economic ideology, in the early stages at least, was more socialistic than Manchester in its orientation. To be sure, it was an undemocratic kind of socialism, which was willing to make many sacrifices to the well-being of the masses of the people but reluctant to share with these masses political power that might allow them to seek their own well-being. This socialistic leaning was more evident in the earlier (or Balliol) period than in the later (or New College) period, and disappeared almost completely when Lothian and Brand replaced Esher, Grey, and Milner at the center of the Group. Esher regarded the destruction of the middle class as inevitable and felt that the future belonged to the workers and an administrative state. He dedicated his book After the War (1919) to Robert Smillie, President of the Miners' Federation, and wrote him a long letter on 5 May 1919. On 12 September of the same year, he wrote to his son, the present Viscount Esher: "There are things that cannot be confiscated by the Smillies and Sidney Webbs. These seem to me the real objectives." Even earlier, Arnold Toynbee was a socialist of sorts and highly critical of the current ideology of liberal capitalism as proclaimed by the high priests of the Manchester School. Milner gave six lectures on socialism in Whitechapel in 1882 (published in 1931 in The National Review). Both Toynbee and Milner worked intermittently at social service of a mildly socialistic kind, an effort that resulted in the founding of Toynbee Hall as a settlement house in 1884. As chairman of the board of Internal Revenue in 1892-1897, Milner drew up Sir William Harcourt's budget, which inaugurated the inheritance tax. In South Africa he was never moved by capitalistic motives, placing a heavy profits tax on the output of the Rand mines to finance social improvements, and considering with objective calm the question of nationalizing the railroads or even the mines. Both Toynbee and Milner were early suspicious of the virtues of free trade — not, however, because tariffs could provide high profits for industrial concerns but because tariffs and imperial preference could link the Empire more closely into economic unity. In his later years, Milner became increasingly radical, a development that did not fit any too well with the conservative financial outlook of Brand, or even Hichens. As revealed in his book Questions of the Hour (1923), Milner was a combination of technocrat and guild socialist and objected vigorously to the orthodox financial policy of deflation, balanced budget, gold standard, and free international exchange advocated by the Group after 1918. This orthodox policy, inspired by Brand and accepted by The Round Table after 1918, was regarded by Milner as an invitation to depression, unemployment, and the dissipation of Britain's material and moral resources. On this point there can be no doubt that Milner was correct. Not himself a trained economist, Milner, nevertheless, saw that the real problems were of a technical and material nature and that Britain's ability to produce goods should be limited only by the real supply of knowledge, labor, energy, and materials and not by the artificial limitations of a deliberately restricted supply of money and credit. This point of view of Milner's was not accepted by the Group until after 1931, and not as completely as by Milner even then. The point of view of the Group, at least in the period 1918-1931, was the point of view of the international bankers with whom Brand, Hichens, and others were so closely connected. This point of view, which believed that Britain's prewar financial supremacy could be restored merely by reestablishing the prewar financial system, with the pound sterling at its prewar parity, failed completely to see the changed conditions that made all efforts to restore the prewar system impossible. The Group's point of view is clearly revealed in The Round Table articles of the period. In the issue of December 1918, Brand advocated the financial policy which the British government followed, with such disastrous results, for the next thirteen years. He wrote:

"That nation will recover quickest after the war which corrects soonest any depreciation in currency, reduces by production and saving its inflated credit, brings down its level of prices, and restores the free import and export of gold.... With all our wealth of financial knowledge and experience behind us it should be easy for us to steer the right path — though it will not be always a pleasant one — amongst the dangers of the future. Every consideration leads to the view that the restoration of the gold standard — whether or not it can be achieved quickly — should be our aim. Only by that means can we be secure that our level of prices shall be as low as or lower than prices in other countries, and on that condition depends the recovery of our export trade and the prevention of excessive imports. Only by that means can we provide against and abolish the depreciation of our currency which, though the [existing] prohibition against dealings in gold prevents our measuring it, almost certainly exists, and safeguard ourself against excessive grants of credit."


He then outlined a detailed program to contract credit, curtail government spending, raise taxes, curtail imports, increase exports, etc. (15) Hichens, who, as an industrialist rather than a banker, was not nearly so conservative in financial matters as Brand, suggested that the huge public debt of 1919 be met by a capital levy, but, when Brand's policies were adopted by the government, Hichens went along with them and sought a way out for his own business by reducing costs by "rationalization of production."

These differences of opinion on economic matters within the Group did not disrupt the Group, because it was founded on political rather than economic ideas and its roots were to be found in ancient Athens rather than in modern Manchester. The Balliol generation, from Jowett and Nettleship, and the New College generation, from Zimmern, obtained an idealistic picture of classical Greece which left them nostalgic for the fifth century of Hellenism and drove them to seek to reestablish that ancient fellowship of intellect and patriotism in modern Britain. The funeral oration of Pericles became their political covenant with destiny, duty to the state and loyalty to one's fellow citizens became the chief values of life. But, realizing that the jewel of Hellenism was destroyed by its inability to organize any political unit larger than a single city, the Milner Group saw the necessity of political organization in order to insure the continued existence of freedom and higher ethical values and hoped to be able to preserve the values of their day by organizing the whole world around the British Empire.

Curtis puts this quite clearly in The Commonwealth of Nations (1916), where he says:

"States, whether autocracies or commonwealths, ultimately rest on duty, not on self-interest or force.... The quickening principle of a state is a sense of devotion, an adequate recognition somewhere in the minds of its subjects that their own interests are subordinate to those of the state. The bond which unites them and constitutes them collectively as a state is, to use the words of Lincoln, in the nature of dedication. Its validity, like that of the marriage tie, is at root not contractual but sacramental. Its foundation is not self-interest, but rather some sense of obligation, however conceived, which is strong enough to over-master self-interest." (16)


History for this Group, and especially for Curtis, presented itself as an age-long struggle between the principles of autocracy and the principles of commonwealth, between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, between Asiatic theocracy and European freedom. This view of history, founded on the work of Zimmern, E. A. Freeman, Lord Bryce, and A. V. Dicey, felt that the distinguishing mark between the two hosts could be found in their views of law — the forces of light regarding law as man-made and mutable, but yet above all men, while the forces of darkness regarded law as divine and eternal, yet subordinate to the king. The one permitted diversity, growth, and freedom, while the other engendered monotony, stultification, and slavery. The struggle between the two had gone on for thousands of years, spawning such offspring as the Persian Wars, the Punic Wars, and the struggles of Britain with the forces of Philip II, of Louis XIV, of Napoleon, and of Wilhelm II. Thus, to this Group, Britain stood as the defender of all that was fine or civilized in the modern world, just as Athens had stood for the same values in the ancient world. (17) Britain's mission, under this interpretation, was to carry freedom and light (that is, the principles of commonwealth) against the forces of theocracy and darkness (that is, autocracy) in Asia — and even in Central Europe. For this Group regarded the failure of France or Germany to utilize the English idea of "supremacy of law" (as described by Dicey in his The Law of the Constitution, 1885) as proof that these countries were still immersed, at least partially, in the darkness of theocratic law. The slow spread of English political institutions to Europe as well as Asia in the period before the First World War was regarded by the Group as proof both of their superiority and of the possibility of progress. In Asia and Africa, at least, England's civilizing mission was to be carried out by force, if necessary, for "the function of force is to give moral ideas time to take root." Asia thus could be compelled to accept civilization, a procedure justifiable to the Group on the grounds that Asians are obviously better off under European rule than under the rule of fellow Asians and, if consulted, would clearly prefer British rule to that of any other European power. To be sure, the blessings to be extended to the less fortunate peoples of the world did not include democracy. To Milner, to Curtis, and apparently to most members of the Group, democracy was not an unmixed good, or even a good, and far inferior to rule by the best, or, as Curtis says, by those who "have some intellectual capacity for judging the public interest, and, what is no less important, some moral capacity for treating it as paramount to their own."

This disdain for unrestricted democracy was quite in accordance with the ideas revealed by Milner's activities in South Africa and with the Greek ideals absorbed at Balliol or New College. However, the restrictions on democracy accepted by the Milner Group were of a temporary character, based on the lack of education and background of those who were excluded from political participation. It was not a question of blood or birth, for these men were not racists.

This last point is important because of the widespread misconception that these people were racially intolerant. They never were; certainly those of the inner circle never were. On the contrary, they were ardent advocates of a policy of education and uplift of all groups, so that ultimately all groups could share in political life and in the rich benefits of the British way of life. To be sure, the members of the Group did not advocate the immediate extension of democracy and self-government to all peoples within the Empire, but these restrictions were based not on color of skin or birth but upon cultural outlook and educational background. Even Rhodes, who is widely regarded as a racist because his scholarships were restricted to candidates from the Nordic countries, was not a racist. He restricted his scholarships to these countries because he felt that they had a background sufficiently homogeneous to allow the hope that educational interchange could link them together to form the core of the worldwide system which he hoped would ultimately come into existence. Beyond this, Rhodes insisted that there must be no restrictions placed on the scholarships on a basis of race, religion, skin color, or national origin.(8) In his own life, Rhodes cared nothing about these things. Some of his closest friends were Jews (like Beit), and in three of his wills he left Lord Rothschild as his trustee, in one as his sole trustee. Milner and the other members felt similarly. Lionel Curtis, in his writings, makes perfectly clear both his conviction that character is acquired by training rather than innate ability and his insistence on tolerance in personal contact between members of different races. In his The Commonwealth of Nations (1916) he says: "English success in planting North America and the comparative failure of their rivals must, in fact, be traced to the respective merits not of breed but of institutions"; and again: "The energy and intelligence which had saved Hellas [in the Persian Wars] was the product of her free institutions." In another work he protests against English mistreatment of natives in India and states emphatically that it must be ended. He says: "The conduct on the part of Europeans ... is more than anything else the root cause of Indian unrest . . . I am strongly of opinion that governors should be vested with powers to investigate judicially cases where Europeans are alleged to have outraged Indian feelings. Wherever a case of wanton and unprovoked insult such as those I have cited is proved, government should have the power to order the culprit to leave the country.... A few deportations would soon effect a definite change for the better."(19) That Dove felt similarly is clear from his letters to Brand.

Without a belief in racism, it was perfectly possible for this Group to believe, as they did, in the ultimate extension of freedom and self-government to all parts of the Empire. To be sure, they believed that this was a path to be followed slowly, but their reluctance was measured by the inability of "backward" peoples to understand the principles of a commonwealth, not by reluctance to extend to them either democracy or self- government.

Curtis defined the distinction between a commonwealth and a despotism in the following terms: "The rule of law as contrasted with the rule of an individual is the distinguishing mark of a commonwealth. In despotism government rests on the authority of the ruler or of the invisible and uncontrollable power behind him. In a commonwealth rulers derive their authority from the law and the law from a public opinion which is competent to change it." Accordingly, "the institutions of a commonwealth cannot be successfully worked by peoples whose ideas are still those of a theocratic or patriarchal society. The premature extension of representative institutions throughout the Empire would be the shortest road to anarchy."(20) The people must first be trained to understand and practice the chief principles of commonwealth, namely the supremacy of law and the subjection of the motives of self-interest and material gain to the sense of duty to the interests of the community as a whole. Curtis felt that such an educational process was not only morally necessary on the part of Britain but was a practical necessity, since the British could not expect to keep 430 million persons in subjection forever but must rather hope to educate them up to a level where they could appreciate and cherish British ideals. In one book he says: "The idea that the principle of the commonwealth implies universal suffrage betrays an ignorance of its real nature. That principle simply means that government rests on the duty of the citizens to each other, and is to be vested in those who are capable of setting public interest before their own." (21) In another work he says: "As sure as day follows the night, the time will come when they [the Dominions] will have to assume the burden of the whole of their affairs. For men who are fit for it, self- government is a question not of privilege but rather of obligation. It is duty, not interest, which impels men to freedom, and duty, not interest, is the factor which turns the scale in human affairs." India is included in this evolutionary process, for Curtis wrote: " A despotic government might long have closed India to Western ideas. But a commonwealth is a living thing. It cannot suffer any part of itself to remain inert. To live it must move, and move in every limb.... Under British rule Western ideas will continue to penetrate and disturb Oriental society, and whether the new spirit ends in anarchy or leads to the establishment of a higher order depends upon how far the millions of India can be raised to a fuller and more rational conception of the ultimate foundations upon which the duty of obedience to government rests."

These ideas were not Curtis's own, although he was perhaps the most prolific, most eloquent, and most intense in his feelings. They were apparently shared by the whole inner circle of the Group. Dove, writing to Brand from India in 1919, is favorable to reform and says: "Lionel is right. You can't dam a world current. There is, I am convinced, 'purpose' under such things. All that we can do is to try to turn the flood into the best channel." In the same letter he said: "Unity will, in the end, have to be got in some other way.... Love — call it, if you like, by a longer name — is the only thing that can make our post-war world go round, and it has, I believe, something to say here too. The future of the Empire seems to me to depend on how far we are able to recognize this. Our trouble is that we start some way behind scratch. Indians must always find it hard to understand us." And the future Lord Lothian, ordering an article on India for The Round Table from a representative in India, wrote: "We want an article in The Round Table and I suggest to you that the main conclusion which the reader should draw from it should be that the responsibility rests upon him of seeing that the Indian demands are sympathetically handled without delay after the war." (22)

What this Group feared was that the British Empire would fail to profit from the lessons they had discerned in the Athenian empire or in the American Revolution. Zimmern had pointed out to them the sharp contrast between the high idealism of Pericles's funeral oration and the crass tyranny of the Athenian empire. They feared that the British Empire might fall into the same difficulty and destroy British idealism and British liberties by the tyranny necessary to hold on to a reluctant Empire. And any effort to hold an empire by tyranny they regarded as doomed to failure. Britain would be destroyed, as Athens was destroyed, by powers more tyrannical than herself. And, still drawing parallels with ancient Greece, the Group feared that all culture and civilization would go down to destruction because of our inability to construct some kind of political unit larger than the national state, just as Greek culture and civilization in the fourth century B.C. went down to destruction because of the Greeks' inability to construct some kind of political unit larger than the city-state. This was the fear that had animated Rhodes, and it was the same fear that was driving the Milner Group to transform the British Empire into a Commonwealth of Nations and then place that system within a League of Nations. In 1917, Curtis wrote in his Letter to the People of India: "The world is in throes which precede creation or death. Our whole race has outgrown the merely national state, and as surely as day follows night or night the day, will pass either to a Commonwealth of Nations or else an empire of slaves. And the issue of these agonies rests with us."

At the same time the example of the American Revolution showed the Group the dangers of trying to rule the Empire from London: to tax without representation could only lead to disruption. Yet it was no longer possible that 45 million in the United Kingdom could tax themselves for the defense of 435 million in the British Empire. What, then, was the solution? The Milner Group's efforts to answer this question led eventually, as we shall see in Chapter 8, to the present Commonwealth of Nations, but before we leave The Round Table, a few words should be said about Lord Milner's personal connection with the Round Table Group and the Group's other connections in the field of journalism and publicity.

Milner was the creator of the Round Table Group (since this is but another name for the Kindergarten) and remained in close personal contact with it for the rest of his life. In the sketch of Milner in the Dictionary of National Biography, written by Basil Williams of the Kindergarten, we read: "He was always ready to discuss national questions on a non-party basis, joining with former members of his South African 'Kindergarten' in their 'moot,' from which originated the political review, The Round Table, and in a more heterogeneous society, the 'Coefficients,' where he discussed social and imperial problems with such curiously assorted members as L. S. Amery, H. G. Wells, (Lord) Haldane, Sir Edward Grey, (Sir) Michael Sadler, Bernard Shaw, J. L. Garvin, William Pember Reeves, and W. A. S. Hewins." In the obituary of Hichens, as already indicated, we find in reference to the Round Table the sentence: "Often at its head sat the old masters of the Kindergarten, Lord Milner and his successor, Lord Selborne, close friends and allies of Hichens to the end." And in the obituary of Lord Milner in The Round Table for June 1925, we find the following significant passage:

"The founders and the editors of The Round Table mourn in a very special sense the death of Lord Milner. For with him they have lost not only a much beloved friend, but one whom they have always regarded as their leader. Most of them had the great good fortune to serve under him in South Africa during or after the South African war, and to learn at firsthand from him something of the great ideals which inspired him. From those days at the very beginning of this century right up to the present time, through the days of Crown Colony Government in the Transvaal and Orange Free State, of the making of the South African constitution, and through all the varied and momentous history of the British Empire in the succeeding fifteen years, they have had the advantage of Lord Milner's counsel and guidance, and they are grateful to think that, though at times he disagreed with them, he never ceased to regard himself as the leader to whom, above everyone else, they looked. It is of melancholy interest to recall that Lord Milner had undertaken to come on May 13, the very day of his death, to a meeting specially to discuss with them South African problems."


The Round Table was published during the Second World War from Rhodes House, Oxford, which is but one more indication of the way in which the various instruments of the Milner Group are able to cooperate with one another.

The Times and The Round Table are not the only publications which have been controlled by the Milner Group. At various times in the past, the Group has been very influential on the staffs of the Quarterly Review, The Nineteenth Century and After, The Economist, and the Spectator. Anyone familiar with these publications will realize that most of them, for most of the time, have been quite secretive as to the names of the members of their staffs or even as to the names of their editors. The extent of the Milner Group's influence and the periods during which it was active cannot be examined here.

The Milner Group was also very influential in an editorial fashion in regard to a series of excellent and moderately priced volumes known as The Home University Library. Any glance at the complete list of volumes in this series will reveal that a large number of the names are those of persons mentioned in this study. The influence of the Group on The Home University Library was chiefly exercised through H. A. L. Fisher, a member of the inner circle of the Group, but the influence, apparently, has survived his death in 1940.

The Milner Group also attempted, at the beginning at least, to use Milner's old connections with adult education and working-class schools (a connection derived from Toynbee and Samuel Barnett) to propagate its imperial doctrines. As A. L. Smith, the Master of Balliol, put it in 1915, "We must educate our masters." In this connection, several members of the Round Table Group played an active role in the Oxford Summer School for Working Class Students in 1913. This was so successful (especially a lecture on the Empire by Curtis) that a two-week conference was held early in the summer of 1914, "addressed by members of the Round Table Group, and others, on Imperial and Foreign Problems" (to quote A. L. Smith again). As a result, a plan was drawn up on 30 July 1914 to present similar programs in the 110 tutorial classes existing in industrial centers. The outbreak of war prevented most of this program from being carried out. After the war ended, the propaganda work among the British working classes became less important, for various reasons, of which the chief were that working-class ears were increasingly monopolized by Labour Party speakers and that the Round Table Group were busy with other problems like the League of Nations, Ireland, and the United States.(23)  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:28 am

Chapter 8: War and Peace, 1915-1920

The Milner Group was out of power for a decade from 1906 to 1915. We have already indicated our grounds for believing that this condition was not regarded with distaste, since its members were engaged in important activities of their own and approved of the conduct of foreign policy (their chief field of interest) by the Liberal Party under Asquith, Grey, and Haldane. During this period came the Union of South Africa, The Morley- Minto reforms, the naval race with Germany, the military conversations with France, the agreement of 1907 with Russia, the British attitude against Germany in the Agadir crisis (a crisis to whose creation The Times had contributed no little material) — in fact, a whole series of events in which the point of view of the Milner Group was carried out just as if they were in office. To be sure, in domestic matters such as the budget dispute and the ensuing House of Lords dispute, and in the question of Home Rule for Ireland, the Milner Group did not regard the Liberal achievements with complete satisfaction, but in none of these were the members of the Milner Group diehards (as members of the Cecil Bloc sometimes were). (1) But with the outbreak of war, the Milner Group and the Cecil Bloc wanted to come to power and wanted it badly, chiefly because control of the government in wartime would make it possible to direct events toward the postwar settlement which the Group envisaged. The Group also believed that the war could be used by them to fasten on Britain the illiberal economic regulation of which they had been dreaming since Chamberlain resigned in 1903 (at least).

The Group got to power in 1916 by a method which they repeated with the Labour Party in 1931. By a secret intrigue with a parvenu leader of the government, the Group offered to make him head of a new government if he would split his own party and become Prime Minister, supported by the Group and whatever members he could split off from his own party. The chief difference between 1916 and 1931 is that in the former year the minority that was being betrayed was the Group's own social class — in fact, the Liberal Party members of the Cecil Bloc. Another difference is that in 1916 the plot worked — the Liberal Party was split and permanently destroyed — while in 1931 the plotters broke off only a fragment of the Labour Party and damaged it only temporarily (for fourteen years). This last difference, however, was not caused by any lack of skill in carrying out the intrigue but by the sociological differences between the Liberal Party and the Labour Party in the twentieth century. The latter was riding the wave of the future, while the former was merely one of two "teams" put on the field by the same school for an intramural game, and, as such, it was bound to fuse with its temporary antagonist as soon as the future produced an extramural challenger. This strange (to an outsider) point of view will explain why Asquith had no real animosity for Bonar Law or Balfour (who really betrayed him) but devoted the rest of his life to belittling the actions of Lloyd George. Asquith talked later about how he was deceived (and even lied to) in December 1915, but never made any personal attack on Bonar Law, who did the prevaricating (if any). The actions of Bonar Law were acceptable in the code of British politics, a code largely constructed on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow, but Lloyd George's actions, which were considerably less deliberate and cold-blooded, were quite unforgivable, coming as they did from a parvenu who had been built up to a high place in the Liberal Party because of his undeniable personal ability, but who, nonetheless, was an outsider who had never been near the playing fields of Eton.

In the coalition governments of May 1915 and December 1916, members of the Cecil Bloc took the more obvious positions (as befitted their seniority), while members of the Milner Group took the less conspicuous places, but by 1918 the latter group had the whole situation tied up in a neat package and held all the strings.

In the first coalition (May 1915), Lansdowne came into the Cabinet without portfolio, Curzon as Lord Privy Seal, Bonar Law at the Colonial Office, Austen Chamberlain at the India Office, Balfour at the Admiralty, Selborne as President of the Board of Agriculture, Walter Long as President of the Local Government Board, Sir Edward Carson as Attorney General, F. E. Smith as Solicitor General, Lord Robert Cecil as Under Secretary in the Foreign Office, and Arthur Steel-Maitland as Under Secretary in the Colonial Office. Of these eleven names, at least nine were members of the Cecil Bloc, and four were close to the Milner Group (Cecil, Balfour, Steel-Maitland, and Selborne).

In the second coalition government (December 1916), Milner was Minister without Portfolio; Curzon was Lord President of the Council; Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sir Robert Finlay, Lord Chancellor; the Earl of Crawford, Lord Privy Seal; Sir George Cave, Home Secretary; Arthur Balfour, Foreign Secretary; The Earl of Derby, War Secretary; Walter Long, Colonial Secretary; Austen Chamberlain, at the India Office; Sir Edward Carson, First Lord of the Admiralty; Henry E. Duke, Chief Secretary for Ireland; H. A. L. Fisher, President of the Board of Education; R. E. Prothero, President of the Board of Agriculture; Sir Albert Stanley, President of the Board of Trade; F. E. Smith, Attorney General; Robert Cecil, Minister of Blockade; Lord Hardinge, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Steel-Maitland, Under Secretary for the Colonies; and Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne), assistant director of the War Trade Department. Of these twenty names, eleven, at least, were members of the Cecil Bloc, and four or five were members of the Milner Group.

Milner himself became the second most important figure in the government (after Lloyd George), especially while he was Minister without Portfolio. He was chiefly interested in food policy, war trade regulations, and postwar settlements. He was chairman of a committee to increase home production of food (1915) and of a committee on postwar reconstruction (1916). From the former came the food- growing policy adopted in 1917, and from the latter came the Ministry of Health set up in 1919. In 1917 he went with Lloyd George to a meeting of the Allied War Council in Rome and from there on a mission to Russia. He went to France after the German victories in March 1918, and was the principal influence in the appointment of Foch as Supreme Commander in the west. In April he became Secretary of State for War, and, after the election of December 1918, became Colonial Secretary. He was one of the signers of the Treaty of Versailles. Of Milner's role at this time, John Buchan wrote in his memoirs: "In the Great War from 1916 to 1918, he was the executant of the War Cabinet who separated the sense from the nonsense in the deliberations of that body, and was responsible for its chief practical achievements. To him were largely due the fruitful things which emerged from the struggle, the new status of the Dominions, and the notable advances in British social policy." In all of these actions Milner remained as unobtrusive as possible. Throughout this period Milner's opinion of Lloyd George was on the highest level. Writing twenty years later in The Commonwealth of God, Lionel Curtis recorded two occasions in which Milner praised Lloyd George in the highest terms. On one of these he called him a greater war leader than Chatham.

At this period it was not always possible to distinguish between the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, but it is notable that the members of the former who were later clearly members of the latter were generally in the fields in which Milner was most interested. In general, Milner and his Group dominated Lloyd George during the period from 1917 to 1921. As Prime Minister, Lloyd George had three members of the Group as his secretaries (P. H. Kerr, 1916-1922; W. G. S. Adams, 1916-1919; E. W. M. Grigg, 1921- 1922) and Waldorf Astor as his parliamentary secretary (1917-1918). The chief decisions were made by the War Cabinet and Imperial War Cabinet, whose membership merged and fluctuated but in 1917-1918 consisted of Lloyd George, Milner, Curzon, and Smuts — that is, two members of the Milner Group, one of the Cecil Bloc, with the Prime Minister himself. The secretary to these groups was Maurice Hankey (later a member of the Milner Group), and the editor of the published reports of the War Cabinet was W. G. S. Adams. Amery was assistant secretary, while Meston was a member of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917. Frederick Liddell (Fellow of All Souls) was made First Parliamentary Counsel in 1917 and held the position for eleven years, following this post with a fifteen-year period of service as counsel to the Speaker (1928-1943). (2)

Within the various government departments a somewhat similar situation prevailed. The Foreign Office in its topmost ranks was held by the Cecil Bloc, with Balfour as Secretary of State (1916-1919), followed by Curzon (1919-1924). When Balfour went to the United States on a mission in 1917, he took along Ian Malcolm (brother-in-law of Dougal Malcolm). Malcolm was later Balfour's private secretary at the Peace Conference in 1919. In Washington, Balfour had as deputy chairman to the mission R. H. Brand. In London, as we have seen, Robert Cecil was Parliamentary Under Secretary and later Assistant Secretary. In the Political Intelligence Department, Alfred Zimmern was the chief figure. G. W. Prothero was director of the Historical Section and was, like Cecil and Zimmern, chiefly concerned with the future peace settlement. He was succeeded by J. W. Headlam-Morley, who held the post of historical adviser from 1920 to his death in 1928. All of these persons were members of the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group.

In the India Office we need mention only a few names, as this subject will receive a closer scrutiny later. Austen Chamberlain was Secretary of State in 1915-1917 and gave the original impetus toward the famous act of 1919. Sir Frederick Duke (a member of the Round Table Group, whom we shall mention later) was chief adviser to Chamberlain's successor, E. S. Montagu, and became Permanent Under Secretary in 1920. Sir Malcolm Seton (also a member of the Round Table Group from 1913 onward) was Assistant Under Secretary (1919-1924) and later Deputy Under Secretary.

In blockade and shipping, Robert Cecil was Minister of Blockade (1916-1918), while Reginald Sothern Holland organized the attack on German trade in the earlier period (1914). M. L. Gwyer was legal adviser to the Ministry of Shipping during the war and to the Ministry of Health after the war (1917-1926), while J. Arthur Salter (later a contributor to The Round Table and a Fellow of All Souls for almost twenty years) was director of ship requisitioning in 1917 and later secretary to the Allied Maritime Transport Council and chairman of the Allied Maritime Transport Executive (1918). After the war he was a member of the Supreme Economic Council and general secretary to the Reparations Commission (1919-1922).

A. H. D. R. Steel-Maitland was head of the War Trade Department in 1917-1919, while Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne and grandson of Lord Salisbury) was assistant director in 1916-1918. Henry Birchenough was a member or chairman of several committees dealing with related matters. R. S. Rait was a member of the department from its creation in 1915 to the end of the war; H. W. C. Davis was a member in 1915 and a member of the newly created War Trade Advisory Committee thereafter. Harold Butler was secretary to the Foreign Trade Department of the Foreign Office (1916-1917). H. D. Henderson (who has been a Fellow of All Souls since 1934) was secretary of the Cotton Control Board (1917-1919).

The Board of Agriculture was dominated by members of the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. Lord Selborne was President of the board in 1915-1916, and Prothero (Lord Ernie) in 1916-1919. Milner and Selborne were chairmen of the two important committees of the board in 1915 and 1916. These sought to establish as a war measure (and ultimately as a postwar measure also) government-guaranteed prices for agricultural products at so high a level that domestic production of adequate supplies would be insured. This had been advocated by Milner for many years but was not obtained on a permanent basis until after 1930, although used on a temporary basis in 1917-1919. The membership of these committees was largely made up of members of the Cecil Bloc. The second Viscount Goschen (son of Milner's old friend and grandfather-in-law of Milner's step-grandson) was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board; Lord Astor was chairman of a dependent committee on milk supplies; Sothern Holland was controller of the Cultivation Department within the Food Production Department of the board (1918); Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton was deputy director of the Women's Branch; Lady Alicia Cecil was assistant director of horticulture in the Food Production Department; and Edward Strutt (brother- in-law of Balfour), who had been a member of both the Milner and Selborne Committees, was technical adviser to Prothero during his term as President and was the draftsman of the Corn Production Act of 1917. He later acted as one of Milner's assistants in the effort to establish a tariff in 1923. His sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography was written by his nephew (and Balfour's nephew) Lord Rayleigh.  

In the Colonial Office, Milner was Secretary of State in 1918-1921; George Fiddes (of the Milner Kindergarten) was Permanent Under Secretary in 1916-1921; Steel-Maitland was Parliamentary Under Secretary in 1915-1917; while Amery was in the same position in 1919-1921.

In intelligence and public information, we find John Buchan as head of the Information Department of the War Office, with John Dove and B. H. Sumner (the present Warden of All Souls) in military intelligence. H. W. C. Davis was general editor of the Oxford Pamphlets justifying Britain's role in the war, while Algernon Cecil (nephew of Lord Salisbury) was in the intelligence division of the Admiralty and later in the historical section of the Foreign Office. J. W. Headlam-Morley was adviser on all historical matters at Wellington House (the propaganda department) in 1915-1918 and assistant director of political intelligence in the Department of Information in 1917-1918, ultimately being shifted to similar work in the Foreign Office in 1918.

In the War Office, Milner was Secretary of State in 1918, while Amery was assistant to the Secretary from 1917 until Milner took him to the Colonial Office a year or so later.

This enumeration, by no means complete, indicates the all-pervasive influence of this small clique in the later years of the war. This influence was not devoted exclusively to winning the war, and, as time went on, it was directed increasingly toward the postwar settlement. As a result, both groups tended more and more to concentrate in the Foreign Office. There G. W. Prothero, an old member of the Cecil Bloc, was put in charge of the preparations for the future peace conference. Depending chiefly on his own branch of the Foreign Office (the Historical Section), but also using men and materials from the War Trade Intelligence Department and the Intelligence Section of the Admiralty, he prepared a large number of reports on questions that might arise at the Peace Conference (1917- 1919). In 1920, 155 volumes of these reports were published under the title Peace Handbooks. A glance at any complete list of these will show that a very large number of the "experts" who wrote them were from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. About the same time, Phillimore and Zimmern prepared drafts for the organization of the future League of Nations. Most of the group went en masse to the Peace Conference at Paris as expert advisers, and anyone familiar with the history of the Peace Conference cannot fail to recognize names which we have mentioned frequently. At about this time, Lloyd George began to get out of hand as far as the Milner Group was concerned, and doubtless also as far as the Cecil Bloc was concerned. Some of this was caused by the weakness of Balfour, titular head of the latter group, but much more was caused by the fact that the Group could not control Lloyd George either in his electoral campaign in December 1918 or in his negotiations in the Council of Four from March to June 1919. Lloyd George was perfectly willing to use the abilities of the Milner Group in administration, but, when it came to an appeal to the electorate, as in the "khaki election," he had no respect for the Group's judgment or advice. Lloyd George realized that the electorate was hysterical with hatred of Germany, and was willing to appeal to that feeling if he could ride into office again on its impetus. The Milner Croup, on the other hand, was eager to get rid of the Kaiser, the Prussian officers' corps, and even the Junker landlords, but, once Germany was defeated, their feeling of animosity against her (which had waxed strong since before 1896) vanished. By 1919 they began to think in terms of balance of power and of the need to reconstruct Germany against the dangers of "bolshevism" on one hand and of "French militarism" on the other, and they felt that if Germany were made democratic and treated in a friendly fashion she could be incorporated into the British world system as well as the Cape Boers had been. The intellectual climate of the Milner Group early in 1919 has been described by a man who was, at this time, close to the Group, Harold Nicolson, in his volume Peacemaking, 1919.

This point of view was never thoroughly thought out by the Group. It was apparently based on the belief that if Germany were treated in a conciliatory fashion she could be won from her aggressive attitudes and become a civilized member of the British world system. This may have been possible, but, if so, the plan was very badly executed, because the aggressive elements in Germany were not eliminated and the conciliatory elements were not encouraged in a concrete fashion. This failure, however, was partly caused by the pressure of public opinion, by the refusal of the French to accept this concept as an adequate goal of foreign policy, and by the failure to analyze the methods of the policy in a sound and adequate fashion. The first step toward this policy was made by Milner himself as early as October 1918, when he issued a warning not to denounce "the whole German nation as monsters of iniquity" or to carry out a policy of punishment and reprisal against them." The outburst of public indignation at this sentiment was so great that "the whole band of men who had learned under him in South Africa to appreciate his patriotism united to testify to him their affectionate respect." This quotation from one of the band, Basil Williams, refers to a testimonial given by the Group to their leader in 1918.

Another evidence of this feeling will be found in a volume of Alfred Zimmern's, published in 1922 under the title Europe in Convalescence and devoted to regretting Britain's postwar policies and especially the election of 1918. Strangely enough, Zimmern, although most articulate in this volume, was basically more anti-German than the other members of the Group and did not share their rather naive belief that the Germans could be redeemed merely by the victors tossing away the advantages of victory. Zimmern had a greater degree of sympathy for the French idea that the Germans should give more concrete examples of a reformed spirit before they were allowed to run freely in civilized society.(3) Halifax, on the other hand, was considerably more influenced by popular feeling in 1918 and years later. He shared the public hysteria against Germany in 1918 to a degree which he later wished to forget, just as in 1937 he shared the appeasement policy toward Germany to a degree he would now doubtless want to forget. Both of these men, however were not of the inner circle of the Milner Group. The sentiments of that inner circle, men like Kerr, Brand, and Dawson, can be found in the speeches of the first, The Times editorials of the last, and the articles of The Round Table. They can also be seen in the letters of John Dove. The latter, writing to Brand, 4 October 1923, stated: "It seems to me that the most disastrous affect of Poincare's policy would be the final collapse of democracy in Germany, the risk of which has been pointed out in The Round Table. The irony of the whole situation is that if the Junkers should capture the Reich again, the same old antagonisms will revive and we shall find ourselves, willy-nilly, lined up again with France to avert a danger which French action has again called into being.... Even if Smuts follows up his fine speech, the situation may have changed so much before the Imperial Conference is over that people who think like him and us may find themselves baffled.... I doubt if we shall again have as good a chance of getting a peaceful democracy set up in Germany."  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

Postby admin » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:46 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter 9: Creation of the Commonwealth

The evolution of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations is to a very great extent a result of the activities of the Milner Group. To be sure, the ultimate goal of the Group was quite different from the present system, since they wanted a federation of the Empire, but this was a long-run goal, and en route they accepted the present system as a temporary way station. However, the strength of colonial and Dominion feeling, which made the ideal of federation admittedly remote at all times, has succeeded in making this way-station a permanent terminal and thus had eliminated, apparently forever, the hope for federation. With the exception of a few diehards (of whom Milner and Curtis were the leaders), the Group has accepted the solution of imperial cooperation and "parallelism" as an alternative to federation. This was definitely stated in The Round Table of December 1920. In that issue the Group adopted the path of cooperation as its future policy and added: "Its [The Round Tables] promoters in this country feel bound to state that all the experience of the war and of the peace has not shaken in the least the fundamental conviction with which they commenced the publication of this Review.... The Round Table has never expressed an opinion as to the form which this constitutional organization would take, nor as to the time when it should be undertaken. But it has never disguised its conviction that a cooperate system would eventually break down." In September 1935, in a review of its first twenty-five years, the journal stated: "Since the war, therefore, though it has never abandoned its view that the only final basis for freedom and enduring peace is the organic union of nations in a commonwealth embracing the whole world or, in the first instance, a lesser part of it, The Round Table has been a consistent supporter ... of the principles upon which the British Empire now rests, as set forth in the Balfour Memorandum of 1926.... It has felt that only by trying the cooperation method to the utmost and realizing its limitations in practice would nations within or without the British Empire be brought to face the necessity for organic union."

There apparently exists within the Milner Group a myth to the effect that they invented the expression "Commonwealth of Nations," that it was derived from Zimmern's book The Greek Commonwealth (published in 1911) and first appeared in public in the title of Curtis's book in 1916. This is not quite accurate, for the older imperialists of the Cecil Bloc had used the term "commonwealth" in reference to the British Empire on various occasions as early as 1884. In that year, in a speech at Adelaide, Australia, Lord Rosebery referred to the possibility of New Zealand seceding from the Empire and added: "God forbid. There is no need for any nation, however great, leaving the Empire, because the Empire is a Commonwealth of Nations."

If the Milner Group did not invent the term, they gave it a very definite and special meaning, based on Zimmern's book, and they popularized the use of the expression. According to Zimmern, the expression "commonwealth" referred to a community based on freedom and the rule of law, in distinction to a government based on authority or even arbitrary tyranny. The distinction was worked out in Zimmern's book in the contrast between Athens, as described in Pericles's funeral oration, and Sparta (or the actual conduct of the Athenian empire). As applied to the modern world, the contrast was between the British government, as described by Dicey, and the despotisms of Philip II, Wilhelm II, and Nicholas II. In this sense of the word, commonwealth was not originally an alternative to federation, as it later became, since it referred to the moral qualities of government, and these could exist within either a federated or a nonfederated Empire.

The expression "British Commonwealth of Nations" was, then, not invented by the Group but was given a very special meaning and was propagated in this sense until it finally became common usage. The first step in this direction was taken on 15 May 1917, when General Smuts, at a banquet in his honor in the Houses of Parliament, used the expression. This banquet was apparently arranged by the Milner Group, and Lord Milner sat at Smuts's right hand during the speech. The speech itself was printed and given the widest publicity, being disseminated throughout Great Britain, the Commonwealth, the United States, and the rest of the world. In retrospect, some persons have believed that Smuts was rejecting the meaning of the expression as used by the Milner Group, because he did reject the project for imperial federation in this speech. This, however, is a mistake, for, as we have said, the expression "commonwealth" at that time had a meaning which could include either federation or cooperation among the members of the British imperial system. The antithesis in meaning between federation and commonwealth is a later development which took place outside the Group. To this day, men like Curtis, Amery, and Grigg still use the term "commonwealth" as applied to a federated Empire, and they always define the word "commonwealth" as "a government of liberty under the law" and not as an arrangement of independent but cooperating states.

The development of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations and the role which the Milner Group played in this development cannot be understood by anyone who feels that federation and commonwealth were mutually exclusive ideas.

In fact, there were not two ideas, but three, and they were not regarded by the Group as substitutes for each other but as supplements to each other. These three ideas were: (1) the creation of a common ideology and world outlook among the peoples of the United Kingdom, the Empire, and the United States; (2) the creation of instruments and practices of cooperation among these various communities in order that they might pursue parallel policies; and (3) the creation of a federation on an imperial, Anglo-American, or world basis. The Milner Group regarded these as supplementary to one another and worked vigorously for all of them, without believing that they were mutually exclusive alternatives. They always realized, even the most fanatical of them, that federation, even of the Empire only, was very remote. They always, in this connection, used such expressions as "not in our lifetime" or "not in the present century." They always insisted that the basic unity of any system must rest on common ideology, and they worked in this direction through the Rhodes Scholarships, the Round Table Groups, and the Institutes of International Affairs, even when they were most ardently seeking to create organized constitutional relationships. And in these constitutional relationships they worked equally energetically and simultaneously for imperial federation and for such instruments of cooperation as conferences of Prime Ministers of Dominions. The idea, which seems to have gained currency, that the Round Table Group was solely committed to federation and that the failure of this project marked the defeat and eclipse of the Group is erroneous. On the contrary, by the 1930s, the Round Table Group was working so strongly for a common ideology and for institutions of cooperation that many believers in federation regarded them as defeatist. For this reason, some believers in federation organized a new movement called the "World Commonwealth Movement." Evidence of this movement is an article by Lord Davies in The Nineteenth Century and After for January 1935, called "Round Table or World Commonwealth?" This new movement was critical of the foreign policy rather than the imperial policy of the Round Table Group, especially its policy of appeasement toward Germany and of weakening the League of Nations, and its belief that Britain could find security in isolation from the Continent and a balance-of-power policy supported by the United Kingdom, the Dominions, and the United States.

The effort of the Round Table Group to create a common ideology to unite the supporters of the British way of life appears in every aspect of their work. It was derived from Rhodes and Milner and found its most perfect manifestation in the Rhodes Scholarships. As a result of these and of the Milner Group's control of so much of Oxford, Oxford tended to become an international university. Here the Milner Group had to tread a narrow path between the necessity of training non-English (including Americans and Indians) in the English way of life and the possibility of submerging that way of life completely (at Oxford, at least) by admitting too many non-English to its cloistered halls. On the whole, this path was followed with considerable success, as will be realized by anyone who has had any experience with Rhodes Scholars. To be sure, the visitors from across the seas picked up the social customs of the English somewhat more readily than they did the English ideas of playing the game or the English ideas of politics, but, on the whole, the experiment of Rhodes, Milner, and Lothian cannot be called a failure. It was surely a greater success in the United States than it was in the Dominions or in India, for in the last, at least, the English idea of liberty was assimilated much more completely than the idea of loyalty to England.

The efforts of the Milner Group to encourage federation of the Empire have already been indicated. They failed and, indeed, were bound to fail, as most members of the Group soon realized. As early as 1903, John Buchan and Joseph Chamberlain had given up the attempt. By 1917, even Curtis had accepted the idea that federation was a very remote possibility, although in his case, at least, it remained as the beckoning will-o-the-wisp by which all lesser goals were measured and found vaguely dissatisfying. (1)

The third string to the bow — imperial cooperation — remained. It became in time the chief concern of the Group. The story of these efforts is a familiar one, and no attempt will be made here to repeat it. We are concerned only with the role played by the Milner Group in these efforts. In general this role was very large, if not decisive.

The proposals for imperial cooperation had as their basic principle the assumption that communities which had a common ideology could pursue parallel courses toward the same goal merely by consultation among their leaders. For a long time, the Milner Group did not see that the greater the degree of success obtained by this method, the more remote was the possibility that federation could ever be attained. It is very likely that the Group was misled in this by the fact that they were for many years extremely fortunate in keeping members of the Group in positions of power and influence in the Dominions. As long as men like Smuts, Botha (who did what Smuts wanted), Duncan, Feetham, or Long were in influential positions in South Africa; as long as men like Eggleston, Bavin, or Dudley Braham were influential in Australia; as long as men like Glazebrook, Massey, Joseph Flavelle, or Percy Corbett were influential in Canada — in a nutshell, as long as members of the Milner Group were influential throughout the Dominions, the technique of the parallel policy of cooperation would be the easiest way to reach a common goal. Unfortunately, this was not a method that could be expected to continue forever, and when the Milner Group grew older and weaker, it could not be expected that their newer recruits in England (like Hodson, Coupland, Actor, Woodward, Elton, and others) could continue to work on a parallel policy with the newer arrivals to power in the Dominions. When that unhappy day arrived, the Milner Group should have had institutionalized modes of procedure firmly established. They did not, not because they did not want them, but because their members in the Dominions could not have remained in influential positions if they had insisted on creating institutionalized links with Britain when the people of the Dominions obviously did not want such links.

The use of Colonial or Imperial Conferences as a method for establishing closer contact with the various parts of the Empire was originally established by the Cecil Bloc and taken over by the Milner Group. The first four such Conferences (in 1887, 1897, 1902, and 1907) were largely dominated by the former group, although they were not technically in power during the last one. The decisive changes made in the Colonial Conference system at the Conference of 1907 were worked out by a secret group, which consulted on the plans for eighteen months and presented them to the Royal Colonial Institute in April 1905. These plans were embodied in a dispatch from the Colonial Secretary, Alfred Lyttelton, and carried out at the Conference of 1907. As a result, it was established that the name of the meeting was to be changed to Imperial Conference; it was to be called into session every four years; it was to consist of Prime Ministers of the self-governing parts of the Empire; the Colonial Secretary was to be eliminated from the picture; and a new Dominion Department, under Sir Charles Lucas, was to be set up in the Colonial Office. As the future Lord Lothian wrote in The Round Table in 1911, the final result was to destroy the hopes for federation by recognizing the separate existence of the Dominions. (2)

At the Conference of 1907, at the suggestion of Haldane, there was created a Committee of Imperial Defence, and a plan was adopted to organize Dominion defense forces on similar patterns, so that they could be integrated in an emergency. The second of these proposals, which led to a complete reorganization of the armies of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa in 1909-1912, with very beneficial results in the crisis of 1914-1918, is not of immediate concern to us. The Committee of Imperial Defence and its secretarial staff were creations of Lord Esher, who had been chairman of a special committee to reform the War Office in 1903 and was permanent member of the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1905 to his death. As a result of his influence, the secretariat of this committee became a branch of the Milner Group and later became the secretariat of the Cabinet itself, when that body first obtained a secretariat in 1917.

From this secretarial staff the Milner Group obtained three recruits in the period after 1918. These were Maurice Hankey, Ernest Swinton, and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech). Hankey was assistant secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1908 to 1912 and was secretary from 1912 to 1938. Swinton was assistant secretary from 1917 to 1925. Both became members of the Milner Group, Hankey close to the inner circle, Swinton in one of the less central rings. Ormsby-Gore was an assistant secretary in 1917-1918 at the same time that he was private secretary to Lord Milner. All three of these men are of sufficient importance to justify a closer examination of their careers.

Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey (Sir Maurice after 1916, Baron Hankey since 1939), whose family was related by marriage to the Wyndhams, was born in 1877 and joined the Royal Marines when he graduated from Rugby in 1895. He retired from that service in 1918 as a lieutenant colonel and was raised to colonel on the retired list in 1929. He was attached for duty with the Naval Intelligence Department in 1902 and by this route reached the staff of the Committee of Imperial Defence six years later. In 1917, when it was decided to give the Cabinet a secretariat for the first time, and to create the Imperial War Cabinet by adding overseas representatives to the British War Cabinet (a change in which Milner played the chief role), the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence became also the secretariat of the other two bodies. At the same time, as we have seen, the Prime Minister was given a secretariat consisting of two members of the Milner Group (Kerr and Adams). In this way Hankey became secretary and Swinton assistant secretary to the Cabinet, the former holding that post, along with the parallel post in the Committee of Imperial Defence, until 1938. It was undoubtedly through Hankey and the Milner Group that Swinton became Chichele Professor of Military History and a Fellow of All Souls in 1925. As for Hankey himself, he became one of the more significant figures in the Milner Group, close to the inner circle and one of the most important (although relatively little-known) figures in British history of recent times. He was clerk of the Privy Council in 1923-1938; he was secretary to the British delegation at the Peace Conference of 1919, at the Washington Conference of 1921, at the Genoa Conference of 1922, and at the London Reparations Conference of 1924. He was secretary general of the Hague Conference of 1929-1930, of the London Naval Conference of 1930, and of the Lausanne Conference of 1932. He was secretary general of the British Imperial Conferences of 1921, 1923, 1926, 1930, and 1937. He retired in 1938, but became a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission (succeeding Lord Hailey) in 1939. He was British government director of the Suez Canal Company in 1938-1939, Minister without Portfolio in 1939-1940, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1940-1941, Paymaster General in 1941-1942, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee and of the Engineering Advisory Committee in 1942-1943. At the present time he is a director of the Suez Canal Company (since 1945), chairman of the Technical Personnel Committee (since 1941), chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Further Education and Training and of the Committee on Higher Appointments in the Civil Service (since 1944), and chairman of the Colonial Products Research Committee (since 1942). Hankey, in 1903, married Adeline de Smidt, daughter of a well-known South African political figure. His oldest son, Robert, is now a First Secretary in the diplomatic service, while his daughter, Ursula, has been married since 1929 to John A. Benn, chairman of the board of Benn Brothers, publishers.

Hankey was Lord Esher's chief protege in the Milner Group and in British public life. They were in constant communication with one another, and Esher gave Hankey a constant stream of advice about his conduct in his various official positions. The following scattered examples can be gleaned from the published Journals and Letters of Reginald, Viscount Esher. On 18 February 1919, Esher wrote Hankey, advising him not to accept the position as Secretary General of the League of Nations. On 7 December 1919, he gave him detailed advice on how to conduct himself as secretary to the Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers, telling him to work for "a League of Empire" based on cooperation and not on any "rigid constitutional plan," to try to get an Imperial General Staff, and to use the Defence Committee as such a staff in the meantime. In 1929, when Ramsay MacDonald tried to exclude Hankey from a secret Cabinet meeting, Esher went so far in support of his protege as to write a letter of admonition to the Prime Minister. This letter, dated 21 July 1929, said: "What is this I see quoted from a London paper that you are excluding your Secretary from Cabinet meetings? It probably is untrue, for you are the last person in the world to take a retrograde step toward 'secrecy' whether in diplomacy or government. The evolution of our Cabinet system from 'Cabal' has been slow but sure. When the Secretary to the Cabinet became an established factor in conducting business, almost the last traces of Mumbo Jumbo, cherished from the days when Bolingbroke was a danger to public peace, disappeared."

Hankey was succeeded as secretary of the Cabinet in 1938 by Edward E. Bridges, who has been close to the Milner Group since he became a Fellow of All Souls in 1920. Bridges, son of the late Poet Laureate Robert Bridges, had the advantages of a good education at Eton and Magdalen. He was a Treasury civil servant from 1919, was knighted in 1939, and since 1945 has combined with his Cabinet position the exalted post of Permanent Secretary of the Treasury and head of His Majesty's Civil Service.

The Imperial Conference of 1911 has little concern with our story, although Asquith's opening speech could have been written in the office of The Round Table. Indeed, it is quoted with approval by Lionel Curtis in his The Problem of the Commonwealth, published five years later. Asquith pointed out that the Empire rested on three foundations: (a) the reign of law, in Dicey's sense, (b) local autonomy, and (c) trusteeship of the interests and fortunes of fellow subjects who have not yet attained "to the full stature of self-government." He then pointed out the two principles of centralization and disintegration which had applied to the Empire in the early Victorian period, and declared: "Neither of these theories commands the faintest support today, either at home or in any part of our self-governing Empire.... Whether in this United Kingdom or in any one of the great communities which you represent, we each of us are, and we each of us intend to remain, master in our own household. This is, here at home and throughout the Dominions, the lifeblood of our polity." Thus spoke Asquith, and even the ultra-federalist Curtis approved. He also approved when Asquith squelched Sir John Ward's suggestion for the creation of an Imperial Council, although doubtless from quite a different motivation.

At the Conference of 1911, as is well known, the overseas members were for the first time initiated into the mysteries of high policy, because of the menace of Germany. Except for this, which paid high dividends in 1914, the Conference was largely wasted motion.

The Conference of 1915 was not held, because of the war, but as soon as Milner came into the government in December 1915, The Round Table's argument that the war should be used as a means for consolidating the Empire, rather than as an excuse for postponing consolidation, began to take effect. The Round Table during 1915 was agitating for an immediate Imperial Conference with Indian participation for the first time. As soon as Milner joined the Cabinet in December 1915, he sent out cables to the Dominions and to India, inviting them to come. It was Milner also who created the Imperial War Cabinet by adding Dominion members to the British War Cabinet. These developments were foretold and approved by The Round Table. In its June 1917 issue it said, in the course of a long article on "New Developments in the Constitution of the Empire":

"At a date which cannot be far distant an Imperial Conference will assemble, the purpose of which will be to consider what further steps can be taken to transform the Empire of a State in which the main responsibilities and burdens of its common affairs are sustained and controlled by the United Kingdom into a commonwealth of equal nations conducting its foreign policy and common affairs by some method of continuous consultation and concerted action.... The decision today is against any federated reconstruction after the war.... It is evident, however, that the institution through which the improved Imperial system will chiefly work will be the newly constituted Imperial Cabinet. The Imperial Cabinet will be different in some important respects from the Imperial Conference. It will meet annually instead of once in four years. It will be concerned more particularly with foreign policy, which the Imperial Conference has never yet discussed.... Its proceedings will consequently be secret.... It will also consist of the most important British Ministers sitting in conclave with the Overseas Ministers instead of the Secretary of State for the Colonies alone as has been usually the case hitherto."


As is well known, the Imperial War Cabinet met fourteen times in 1917, met again in 1918, and assembled at Paris in 1918-1919 as the British Empire delegation to the Peace Conference. Parallel with it, the Imperial War Conference met in London in 1917, under the Colonial Secretary, to discuss non-war problems. At the meetings of the former body it was decided to hold annual meetings in the future and to invite the Dominions to establish resident ministers in London to insure constant consultation. At a meeting in 1917 was drawn up the famous Imperial Resolution, which excluded federation as a solution of the imperial problem and recognized the complete equality of the Dominions and the United Kingdom under one King. These developments were not only acceptable to Milner but apparently were largely engineered by him. On 9 July 1919, he issued a formal statement containing the sentences, "The only possibility of a continuance of the British Empire is on a basis of absolute-out-and-out-equal partnership between the United Kingdom and the Dominions. I say that without any kind of reservation whatever."

When Milner died, in May 1925, The Times obituary had this to say about this portion of his life:

"With the special meeting of the War Cabinet attended by the Dominion Prime Ministers which, beginning on March 20, came to be distinguished as the Imperial War Cabinet . . . Milner was more closely concerned than any other British statesman. The conception of the Imperial War Cabinet and the actual proposal to bring the Dominion Premiers into the United Kingdom Cabinet were his. And when, thanks to Mr. Lloyd George's ready acceptance of the proposal, Milner's conception was realized, it proved to be not only a solution of the problem of Imperial Administrative unity in its then transient but most urgent phase, but a permanent and far-reaching advance in the constitutional evolution of the Empire. It met again in 1918, and was continued as the British Empire Delegation in the peace negotiations at Versailles in 1919. Thus, at the moment of its greatest need, the Empire was furnished by Milner with a common Executive. For the Imperial War Cabinet could and did, take executive action, and its decisions bound the Empire at large." (3)


It was also Milner who insisted on and made the arrangements for the Imperial Conference of 1921, acting in his capacity as Colonial Secretary, although he was forced, by reason of poor health, to resign before the conference assembled. It was in this period as Colonial Secretary that Milner, assisted by Amery, set up the plans for the new "dyarchic" constitution for Malta, gave Egypt its full freedom, set Curtis to work on the Irish problem, and gave Canada permission to establish its own legation in the United States — the latter post filled only in 1926, and then by the son-in-law of Milner's closest collaborator in the Rhodes Trust.

The Imperial Conferences of 1921 and 1923 were largely in the control of the Cecil Bloc, at least so far as the United Kingdom delegation was concerned. Three of the five members of this delegation in 1921 were from this Bloc (Balfour, Curzon, and Austen Chamberlain), the other two being Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. Of the members of the other five delegations, only Smuts, from South Africa, is of significance to us. On the secretarial staff for the United Kingdom delegation, we might point out the presence of Hankey and Grigg.

In the Imperial Conference of 1923 we find a similar situation. Three of the four delegates from the United Kingdom were of the Cecil Bloc (Lord Salisbury, Curzon, and the Duke of Devonshire), the other being Prime Minister Baldwin. Smuts again led the South African delegation. The secretarial staff was headed by Hankey, while the separate Indian secretarial group was led by L. F. Rushbrook Williams. The latter, whom we have already mentioned, had been associated with the Milner Group since he was elected a Fellow of All Souls in 1914, had done special work in preparation of the Government of India Act of 1919, and worked under Marris in applying that act after it became law. His later career carried him to various parts of the Milner Group's extensive system, as can be seen from the fact that he was a delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1925, Foreign Minister of Patiala State in 1925-1931, a member of the Indian Round Table Conference in 1920-1932, a significant figure in the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Ministry of Information in delegation. There is nothing to indicate that Mr. Latham (later Sir John) was a member of the Milner Group, but in later years his son, Richard, clearly was. Sir John had apparently made his first contact with the Milner Group in 1919, when he, a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne, was a member of the staff of the Australian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference and, while there, became an assistant secretary to the British delegation. In 1922, at the age of forty- five, he began a twelve-year term as an Australian M. P. During that brief period he was Attorney General in 1925-1929, Minister of Industry in 1928-1929, Leader of the Opposition in 1929-1931, Deputy Leader of the Majority in 1931-1932, and Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Minister for Industry in 1932-1934. In addition, he was British secretary to the Allied Commission on Czechoslovak Affairs in 1919, first president of the League of Nations Union, Australian delegate to the League of Nations in 1926 and 1932, Australian representative to the World Disarmament Conference in 1932, Chancellor of the University of Melbourne in 1939-1941; Australian Minister of Japan in 1940-1941, and vice-president of the period 1932-1944, and is now a member of the editorial staff of The Times.

At these two conferences, various members of the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group were called in for consultation on matters within their competence. Of these persons, we might mention the names of H. A. L. Fisher, Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir Cecil Hurst, Robert Cecil, Leopold Amery, Samuel Hoare, and Sir Fabian Ware (of the Kindergarten).

The Imperial Conference of 1926 is generally recognized as one of the most important of the postwar period. The Cecil Bloc and Milner Group again had three out of five members of the United Kingdom delegation (Balfour, Austen Chamberlain, and Leopold Amery), with Baldwin and Churchill the other two. Hankey was, as usual, secretary of the conference. Of the other seven delegations, nothing is germane to our investigation except that Vincent Massey was an adviser to the Canadian, and John Greig Latham was a member of the Australian, Australian Red Cross in 1944. Since 1934, he has been Chief Justice of Australia. In this brilliant, if belated, career, Sir John came into contact with the Milner Group, and this undoubtedly assisted his son, Richard, in his more precocious career. Richard Latham was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford until 1933 and a Fellow of All Souls from 1935. He wrote the supplementary legal chapter in W. K. Hancock's Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs and was one of the chief advisers of K. C. Wheare in his famous book, The Statute of Westminister and Dominion Status (1938). Unfortunately, Richard Latham died a few years later while still in his middle thirties. It is clear from Professor Wheare's book that Sir John Latham, although a member of the opposition at the time, was one of the chief figures in Australia's acceptance of the Statute of Westminster.

The new status of the Dominions, as enunciated in the Report of the conference and later known as the "Balfour Declaration," was accepted by the Milner Group both in The Round Table and in The Times. In the latter, on 22 November 1926, readers were informed that the"Declaration" merely described the Empire as it was, with nothing really new except the removal of a few anachronisms. It concluded: "In all its various clauses there is hardly a statement or a definition which does not coincide with familiar practice."

The Imperial Conference of 1930 was conducted by a Labour government and had no members of the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group among its chief delegates. Sir Maurice Hankey, however, was secretary of the conference, and among its chief advisers were Maurice Gwyer and H. D. Henderson. Both of these were members of All Souls and probably close to the Milner Group.

The Imperial Conference of 1937 was held during the period in which the Milner Group was at the peak of its power. Of the eight members of the United Kingdom delegation, five were from the Milner Group (Lord Halifax, Sir John Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, and Sir Samuel Hoare). The others were Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, and J. Ramsay MacDonald. In addition, the chief of the Indian delegation was the Marquess of Zetland of the Cecil Bloc. Sir Maurice Hankey was secretary of the conference, and among the advisers were Sir Donald Somervell (of All Souls and the Milner Group), Vincent Massey, Sir Fabian Ware, and the Marquess of Harrington.

In addition to the Imperial Conferences, where the influence of the Milner Group was probably more extensive than appears from the membership of the delegations, the Group was influential in the administration of the Commonwealth, especially in the two periods of its greatest power, from 1924 to 1929 and from 1935 to 1939. An indication of this can be seen in the fact that the office of Colonial Secretary was held by the Group for seven out of ten years from 1919 to 1929 and for five out of nine years from 1931 to 1940, while the office of Dominion Secretary was held by a member of the Group for eight out of the fourteen years from its creation in 1925 to the outbreak of the war in 1939 (although the Labour Party was in power for two of those years). The Colonial Secretaries to whom we have reference were:

Lord Milner, 1919-1921
Leopold Amery, 1924-1929
Malcolm MacDonald, 1935
W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, 1936-1938
Malcolm MacDonald, 1938-1940


The Dominion Secretaries to whom we have reference were:

Leopold Amery, 1925-1929
Malcolm MacDonald, 1935-1938, 1938-1939


The lesser positions within the Colonial Office were not remote from the Milner Group. The Permanent Under Secretary was Sir George Fiddes of the Kindergarten in 1916-1921. In addition, James Masterton-Smith, who had been Balfour's private secretary previously, was Permanent Under Secretary in succession to Fiddes in 1921-1925, and John Maffey, who had been Lord Chelmsford's secretary while the latter was Viceroy in 1916-1921, was Permanent Under Secretary from 1933 to 1937. The position of Parliamentary Under Secretary, which had been held by Lord Selborne in 1895-1900 and by Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland in 1915-1917, was held by Amery in 1919-1921, by Edward Wood (Lord Halifax) in 1921-1922, by Ormsby-Gore in 1922-1924, 1924-1929, and by Lord Dufferin (brother of Lord Blackwood of the Kindergarten) from 1937 to 1940.

Most of these persons (probably all except Masterton-Smith, Maffey, and Lord Dufferin) were members of the Milner Group. The most important, of course, was Leopold Amery, whom we have already shown as Milner's chief political protege. We have not yet indicated that Malcolm MacDonald was a member of the Milner Group, and must be satisfied at this point with saying that he was a member, or at least an instrument, of the Group, from 1931 or 1932 onward, without ever becoming a member of the inner circle. The evidence indicating this relationship will be discussed later.

At this point we should say a few words about W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (Lord Harlech since 1938), who was a member of the Cecil Bloc by marriage and of the Milner Group by adoption. A graduate of Eton in 1930, he went to New College as a contemporary of Philip Kerr and Reginald Coupland. He took his degree in 1908 and was made a Fellow of New College in 1936. A Conservative member of Parliament from 1910 until he went to the Upper House in 1938, he spent the early years of the First World War in military intelligence, chiefly in Egypt. In 1913 he married Lady Beatrice Cecil, daughter of the fourth Marquess of Salisbury, and four years later became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Milner as well as assistant secretary to the War Cabinet (associated in the latter post with Hankey, Kerr, W. G. S. Adams, and Amery of the Milner Group). Ormsby-Gore went on a mission to Palestine in 1918 and was with the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference as an expert on the Middle East. He was Under Secretary for the Colonies with the Duke of Devonshire in 1922-1924 and with Leopold Amery in 1924-1929, becoming Colonial Secretary in his own right in 1936-1938. In the interval he was Postmaster General in 1931 and First Commissioner of Works in 1931-1936. He was a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission (1921-1923) and of the Colonial Office Mission to the British West Indies (1921-1922), and was Chairman of the East African Parliamentary Commission in 1924. He was High Commissioner of South Africa and the three native protectorates in 1941-1944. He has been a director of the Midland Bank and of the Standard Bank of South Africa. He was also one of the founders of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a member of Lord Lothian's committee on the African Survey, and a member of the council of the Institute.

The Milner Group also influenced Commonwealth affairs by publicity work of great quantity and good quality. This was done through the various periodicals controlled by the Group, such as The Round Table, The Times, International Affairs and others; by books published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and individual members of the Group; by academic and university activities by men like Professor Coupland, Professor Zimmern, Professor Harlow, and others; by public and private discussion meetings sponsored by the Round Table Groups throughout the Commonwealth, by the Institute of International Affairs everywhere, by the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), by the Council on Foreign Relations, by the Williamstown Institute of Politics, by the Rhodes Scholarship group; and through the three unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations held by the Group since 1933. Some of these organizations and activities have already been mentioned. The last will be discussed here. The rest are to be described in Chapter 10.

The three unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations were held at Toronto in 1933, at Sydney in 1938, and at London in 1945. They were initiated and controlled by the Milner Group, acting through the various Institutes of International Affairs, in the hope that they would contribute to the closer union of the Commonwealth by inclining the opinion of prominent persons in the Dominions in that direction. The plan was originated by the British Empire members of the Institute of Pacific Relations at the Kyoto meeting in 1929. The members from Great Britain consisted of Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Herbert Samuel, Sir Donald Somervell, Sir John Power, P. J. Noel-Baker, G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, H. V. Hodson, H. W. Kerr, A. J. Toynbee, J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, and A. E. Zimmern. Of these, two were from the Cecil Bloc and five from the Milner Group. Discussion was continued at the Shanghai meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1931, and a committee under Robert Cecil drew up an agenda for the unofficial conference. This committee made the final arrangements at a meeting in Chatham House in July 1932 and published as a preliminary work a volume called Consultation and Cooperation in the British Commonwealth.

The conference was held at the University of Toronto, 11-21 September 1933, with forty-three delegates and thirty-three secretaries, the traveling expenses being covered by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The United Kingdom delegation consisted of the eleven names mentioned above plus R. C. M. Arnold as private secretary to Lord Cecil and J. P. Maclay (the famous shipbuilder) as private secretary to Sir Herbert Samuel. The Australian delegation of six included Professor A. H. Charteris, Professor Ernest Scott, A. Smithies (a Rhodes Scholar of 1929), Alfred Stirling (an Oxford B.A.), W. J. V. Windeyer, and Richard Latham (a Rhodes Scholar of 1933). The Canadian delegation consisted of N. W. Rowell, Sir Robert Borden, Louis Cote, John W. Dafoe, Sir Robert Falconer, Sir Joseph Flavelle, W. Sanford Evans, Vincent Massey, Rene L. Morin, J. S. Woodsworth, W. M. Birks, Charles J. Burchell, Brooke Claxton, Percy E. Corbett, W. P. M. Kennedy, J. J. MacDonnell (Rhodes Trustee for Canada), and E. J. Tarr. The secretary to the delegation was George Parkin Glazebrook (Balliol 1924). Most of these names are significant, but we need only point out that at least four of them, including the secretary were members of the Milner Group (Massey, Corbett, Flavelle, Glazebrook). The New Zealand delegation had three members, one of which was W. Downie Stewart, and the South African delegation had five members, including F. S. Malan and Professor Eric A. Walker. The secretariat to the whole conference was headed by I. S. Macadam of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The secretary to the United Kingdom delegation was H. V. Hodson. Thus it would appear that the Milner Group had eight out of forty- three delegates, as well as the secretaries to the Canadian and United Kingdom delegations.

The conference was divided into four commissions, each of which had a chairman and a rapporteur. In addition, the first commission (on foreign policy) was subdivided into two subcommittees. The chairmen of the four commissions were Robert Cecil, Vincent Massey, F. S. Malan, and W. Downie Stewart. Thus the Milner Group had two out of four. The rapporteurs (including the two subcommittees) were A. L. Zimmern, H. V. Hodson, P. E. Corbett, E. A. Walker, P. J. Noel-Baker, D. B. Somervell, and A. H. Charteris. Thus the Milner Group had four out of seven and possibly more (as Walker may be a member of the Group).

The discussions at the conference were secret, the press was excluded, and in the published Proceedings, edited by A. J. Toynbee, all remarks were presented in indirect discourse and considerably curtailed, without identification of the speakers. The conference made a number of recommendations, including the following: (1) Dominion High Commissioners in London should be given diplomatic status with direct access to the Foreign Office; (2) junior members of Dominion Foreign Offices should receive a period of training in the Foreign Office in London; (3) diplomatic representatives should be exchanged between Dominions; (4) Commonwealth tribunals should be set up to settle legal disputes between Dominions; (5) collective security and the League of Nations should be supported; (6) cooperation with the United States was advocated.

The second unofficial conference on British Commonwealth relations was held near Sydney, Australia, 3-17 September 1938. The expenses were met by grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the Rhodes Trustees. The decision to hold the second conference was made by the British members at the Yosemite meeting of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1936. A committee under Viscount Samuel met at Chatham House in June 1937 and drew up the arrangements and the agenda. The selection of delegates was left to the various Institutes of International Affairs. From the United Kingdom went Lord Lothian (chairman), Lionel Curtis, W. K. Hancock, Hugh A. Wyndham, A. L. Zimmern, Norman Bentwich, Ernest Bevin, V. A. Cazalet, A. M. Fraser, Sir John Burnett-Stuart, Miss Grace Hadow, Sir Howard Kelly, Sir Frederick Minter, Sir John Pratt, and James Walker. At least five out of fifteen, including the chairman, were of the Milner Group. From Australia came thirty-one members, including T. R. Bavin (chairman of the delegation), K. H. Bailey (a Rhodes Scholar), and A. H. Charteris. From Canada came fifteen, including E. J. Tarr (chairman of the delegation) and P. E. Corbett. From India came four Indians. From Ireland came five persons. From New Zealand came fourteen, with W. Downie Stewart as chairman. From South Africa came six, including P. Van der Byl (chairman) and G. R. Hofmeyr (an old associate of the Milner Kindergarten in the Transvaal).

Of ninety delegates, nine were members of the Milner Group and three others may have been. This is a small proportion, but the conduct of the conference was well controlled. The chairmen of the three most important delegations were of the Milner Group (Eggleston, Downie Stewart, and Lothian); the chairman of the conference itself (Bavin) was. The secretary of the conference was Macadam, the recorder was Hodson, and the secretary to the press committee was Lionel Vincent Massey (grandson of George Parkin). The Proceedings of the conference were edited by Hodson, with an Introduction by Bavin, and published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Again, no indication was given of who said what.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 2 of 2

The third unofficial conference on British Commonwealth relations was similar to the others, although the war emergency restricted its membership to persons who were already in London. As background material it prepared sixty-two books and papers, of which many are now published. Among these was World War; Its Cause and Cure by Lionel Curtis. The committee on arrangements and agenda, with Lord Astor as chairman, met in New York in January 1944. The delegations outside the United Kingdom were made up of persons doing war duty in London, with a liberal mixture of Dominion Rhodes Scholars. The chairmen of the various delegations included Professor K. H. Bailey from Australia, E. J. Tarr from Canada, Sir Sardar E. Singh from India, W. P. Morrell (whom we have already seen as a Beit Lecturer, a Rhodes Scholar, and a co- editor with the Reverend K. N. Bell of All Souls), Professor S. H. Frankel from South Africa, and Lord Hailey from the United Kingdom. There were also observers from Burma and Southern Rhodesia. Of the fifty-three delegates, sixteen were from the United Kingdom. Among these were Lord Hailey, Lionel Curtis, V. T. Harlow, Sir Frederick Whyte, A. G. B. Fisher, John Coatman, Miss Kathleen Courtney, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, A. Creech Jones, Sir Walter Layton, Sir Henry Price, Miss Heather Harvey, and others. Of the total of fifty-three members, no more than five or six were of the Milner Croup. The opening speech to the conference was made by Lord Robert Cecil, and the Proceedings were published in the usual form under the editorship of Robert Frost, research secretary of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and author of the imperial sections of The History of the Times.

In all the various activities of the Milner Group in respect to Commonwealth affairs, it is possible to discern a dualistic attitude. This attitude reveals a wholehearted public acceptance of the existing constitutional and political relationships of Great Britain and the Dominions, combined with an intense secret yearning for some form of closer union. The realization that closer union was not politically feasible in a democratic age in which the majority of persons, especially in the Dominions, rejected any effort to bind the various parts of the Empire together explains this dualism. The members of the Group, as The Round Table pointed out in 1919, were not convinced of the effectiveness or workability of any program of Dominion relations based solely on cooperation without any institutional basis, but publicly, and in the next breath, the Group wholeheartedly embraced all the developments that destroyed one by one the legal and institutional links which bound the Dominions to the mother country. In one special field after another — in defense, economic cooperation, raw materials conservation, war graves, intellectual cooperation, health measures, etc., etc. — the Group eagerly welcomed efforts to create new institutional links between the self-governing portions of the Commonwealth. But all the time the Group recognized that these innovations were unable to satisfy the yearning that burned in the Group's collective heart. Only as the Second World War began to enter its second, and more hopeful, half, did the Group begin once again to raise its voice with suggestions for some more permanent organization of the constitutional side of Commonwealth relations. All of these suggestions were offered in a timid and tentative fashion, more or less publicly labeled as trial balloons and usually prefaced by an engaging statement that the suggestion was the result of the personal and highly imperfect ideas of the speaker himself. "Thinking aloud," as Smuts called it, became epidemic among the members of the Group. These idle thoughts could be, thus, easily repudiated if they fell on infertile or inhospitable ground, and even the individual whence these suggestions emanated could hardly be held responsible for "thinking aloud." All of these suggestions followed a similar pattern: (1) a reflection on the great crisis which the Commonwealth survived in 1940-1942; (2) an indication that this crisis required some reorganization of the Commonwealth in order to avoid its repetition; (3) a passage of high praise for the existing structure of the Commonwealth and an emphatic statement that the independence and autonomy of its various members is close to the speaker's heart and that nothing he suggests must be taken as implying any desire to infringe in the slightest degree on that independence; and (4) the suggestion itself emerges. The logical incompatibility of the four sections of the pattern is never mentioned and if pointed out by some critic would undoubtedly be excused on the grounds that the English are practical rather than logical — an excuse behind which many English, even outside the Milner Group, frequently find refuge.

We shall give three examples of the Milner Group's suggestions for Commonwealth reform in the second half of the recent war. They emanated from General Smuts, Lord Halifax, and Sir Edward Grigg. All of them were convinced that the British Commonwealth would be drastically weaker in the postwar world and would require internal reorganization in order to take its place as a balancing force between the two great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Smuts, in an article in the American weekly magazine Life for 28 December 1942, and in a speech before the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association in London on 25 November 1943, was deliberately vague but hoped to use the close link between the United Kingdom and the dependent colonies as a means of bringing the self-governing Dominions closer to the United Kingdom by combining the Dominions with the colonies in regional blocs. This plan had definite advantages, although it had been rejected as impractical by Lionel Curtis in 1916. If regional blocs could be formed by dividing the British Commonwealth into four or five geographic groupings, with a Dominion in each region closely associated with the colonies in the same region, and if this could be done without weakening the link between the United Kingdom and the colonies, it would serve to strengthen the link between the United Kingdom and the Dominions. This latter goal was frankly admitted by Smuts. He also suggested that a federated Western Europe be included in the United Kingdom regional bloc.

Sir Edward Grigg's suggestion, made in his book The British Commonwealth, appeared also in 1943. It was very similar to Smuts's, even to the use of the same verbal expressions. For example, both spoke of the necessity for ending the "dual Empire," of which one part was following a centralizing course and the other a decentralizing course. This expression was derived from Lord Milner (and was attributed to this source by Sir Edward) and referred to the difference between the dependent and the self-governing portions of the Commonwealth. Sir Edward advocated creation of five regional blocs, with Western Europe, associated by means of a military alliance with the United Kingdom, in one. Without any sacrifice of sovereignty by anyone, he visualized the creation of a regional council ("like a miniature Imperial Conference") and a joint parliamentary assembly in three of these regions. The members of the council would be representatives of legislatures and not of governments; the assembly would consist of select members from the existing national parliaments in proper ratio; and each region would have a permanent secretariat to carry out agreed decisions.
How this elaborate organization could be reconciled with the continuance of unrestricted national sovereignty was not indicated.

Lord Halifax's suggestion, made in a speech before the Toronto Board of Trade on 24 January 1944, was somewhat different, although he clearly had the same goal in view and the same mental picture of existing world conditions. He suggested that Britain could not maintain her position as a great power, in the sense in which the United States and Russia were great powers, on the basis of the strength of the United Kingdom alone. Accordingly, he advocated the creation of some method of coordination of foreign policy and measures of defense by which the Dominions could participate in both and a united front could be offered to other powers.

That these trial balloons of Smuts, Grigg, and Halifax were not their isolated personal reactions but were the results of a turmoil of thought within the Milner Group was evident from the simultaneous suggestions which appeared in The Times editorials during the first week in December 1943 and the issue of The Round Table for the same month. The Winnipeg Free Press, a paper which has frequently shown knowledge of the existence of the Milner Group, in editorials of 26 and 29 January 1944, pointed out this effusion of suggestions for a reconstruction of the Empire and said:

"Added to the record of earlier statements, the Halifax speech affords conclusive evidence that there is a powerful movement on foot in the United Kingdom for a Commonwealth which will speak with a single voice. And it will be noted that Lord Halifax believes that this change in the structure of the Commonwealth will be the first consideration of the next Imperial Conference.... Running through all these speeches and articles is the clear note of fear. The spokesmen are obsessed by the thought of power as being the only force that counts. The world is to be governed by Leviathans.... It is tragic that the sincere and powerful group of public men in England, represented by Lord Halifax and Field Marshal Smuts, should react to the problem of maintaining peace in this way."


These suggestions were met by an uproar of protests that reached unnecessary heights of denunciation, especially in Canada. They were rejected in South Africa, repulsed by Mackenzie King and others in Canada, called "isolationist" by the CCF party, censured unanimously by the Quebec Assembly, and repudiated by Prime Minister Churchill. Except in New Zealand and Australia, where fear of Japan was having a profound effect on public opinion, and in the United Kingdom, where the Milner Group's influence was so extensive, the suggestions received a cold reception. In South Africa only The Cape Times was favorable, and in Canada The Vancouver Province led a small band of supporters. As a result, the Milner Group once again rejected any movement toward closer union. It continued to toy with Grigg's idea of regional blocs within the Commonwealth, but here it found an almost insoluble problem. If a regional bloc were to be created in Africa, the natives of the African colonial areas would be exposed to the untender mercies of the South African Boers, and it would be necessary to repudiate the promises of native welfare which the Group had supported in the Kenya White Paper of 1923, its resistance to Boer influence in the three native protectorates in South Africa, the implications in favor of native welfare in The African Survey of 1938, and the frequent pronouncements of The Round Table on the paramount importance of protecting native rights. Such a repudiation was highly unlikely, and indeed was specifically rejected by Grigg himself in his book. (4)

The Milner Group itself had been one of the chief, if not the chief, forces in Britain intensifying the decentralizing influences in the self-governing portions of the Empire. This influence was most significant in regard to India, Palestine, Ireland, and Egypt, each of which was separated from Great Britain by a process in which the Milner Group was a principal agent. The first of these is so significant that it will be discussed in a separate chapter, but a few words should be said about the other three here.

The Milner Group had relatively little to do with the affairs of Palestine except in the early period (1915-1919), in the later period (the Peel Report of 1937), and in the fact that the British influence on the Permanent Mandates Commission was always exercised through a member of the Group.

The idea of establishing a mandate system for the territories taken from enemy powers as a result of the war undoubtedly arose from the Milner Group's inner circle. It was first suggested by George Louis Beer in a report submitted to the United States Government on 1 January 1918, and by Lionel Curtis in an article called "Windows of Freedom" in The Round Table for December 1918. Beer was a member of the Round Table Group from about 1912 and was, in fact, the first member who was not a British subject. That Beer was a member of the Group was revealed in the obituary published in The Round Table for September 1920. The Group's attention was first attracted to Beer by a series of Anglophile studies on the British Empire in the eighteenth century which he published in the period after 1893. A Germanophobe as well as an Anglophile, he intended by writing, if we are to believe The Round Table, "to counteract the falsehoods about British Colonial policy to be found in the manuals used in American primary schools." When the Round Table Group, about 1911, began to study the causes of the American Revolution, they wrote to Beer, and thus began a close and sympathetic relationship. He wrote the reports on the United States in The Round Table for many years, and his influence is clearly evident in Curtis's The Commonwealth of Nations. He gave a hint of the existence of the Milner Group in an article which he wrote for the Political Science Quarterly of June 1915 on Milner. He said: "He stands forth as the intellectual leader of the most progressive school of imperial thought throughout the Empire." Beer was one of the chief supporters of American intervention in the war against Germany in the period 1914-1917; he was the chief expert on colonial questions on Colonel House's "Inquiry," which was studying plans for the peace settlements; and he was the American expert on colonial questions at the Peace Conference in Paris. The Milner Group was able to have him named head of the Mandate Department of the League of Nations as soon as it was established. He was one of the originators of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London and its American branch, The Council on Foreign Relations. With Lord Eustace Percy, he drew up the plan for the History of the Peace Conference which was carried out by Harold Temperley.

Curtis's suggestion for a mandates system was published in The Round Table after discussions with Kerr and other members of the inner circle. It was read by Smuts before it was printed and was used by the latter as the basis for his memorandum published in December 1918 with the title The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion. This embodied a constitution for the League of Nations in twenty-one articles. The first nine of these dealt with the question of mandates. The mandates article of the final Covenant of the League (Article 22) was drafted by Smuts and Kerr (according to Temperley) and was introduced by Smuts to the League Commission of the Peace Conference. The mandates themselves were granted under conditions drawn up by Lord Milner. Since it was felt that this should be done on an international basis, the Milner drafts were not accepted at once but were submitted to an international committee of five members meeting in London. On this committee Milner was chairman and sole British member and succeeded in having his drafts accepted. (5)

The execution of the terms of the mandates were under the supervision of a Permanent Mandates Commission of nine members (later ten). The British member of this commission was always of the Milner Group, as can be seen from the following list:

W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, February 1921-July 1923
LordLugard, July 1923-July 1936
Lord Hailey, September 1936-March 1939
Lord Hankey, May 1939-September 1939 Lord Hailey, September 1939-


The origins and the supervision power of the mandates system were thus largely a result of the activities of the Milner Group. This applied to Palestine as well as the other mandates. Palestine, however, had a peculiar position among mandates because of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which states that Britain would regard with favor the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine. This declaration, which is always known as the Balfour Declaration, should rather be called "the Milner Declaration," since Milner was the actual draftsman and was, apparently, its chief supporter in the War Cabinet. This fact was not made public until 21 July 1937. At that time Ormsby-Gore, speaking for the government in Commons, said, "The draft as originally put up by Lord Balfour was not the final draft approved by the War Cabinet. The particular draft assented to by the War Cabinet and afterwards by the Allied Governments and by the United States . . . and finally embodied in the Mandate, happens to have been drafted by Lord Milner. The actual final draft had to be issued in the name of the Foreign Secretary, but the actual draftsman was Lord Milner." Milner had referred to this fact in a typically indirect and modest fashion in the House of Lords on 27 June 1923, when he said, "I was a party to the Balfour Declaration." In the War Cabinet, at the time, he received strong support from General Smuts.

Once the mandate was set up, also in terms drafted by Milner, the Milner Group took little actual part in the administration of Palestine. None of the various high commissioners was a member of the Group, and none of the various commissions concerned with this problem possessed a member from the Group until the Peel Commission of 1936. Reginald Coupland was one of the six members of the Peel Commission and, according to unofficial information, was the chief author of its report. In spite of this lack of direct contact with the subject, the Milner Group exercised a certain amount of influence in regard to Palestine because of its general power in the councils of the Conservative Party and because Palestine was administered through the Colonial Office, where the Milner Group's influence was considerable.

The general attitude of the Milner Group was neither pro-Arab nor pro-Zionist, although tending, if at all, toward the latter rather than the former. The Group were never anti-Semitic, and not a shred of evidence in this direction has been found. In fact, they were very sympathetic to the Jews and to their legitimate aspirations to overcome their fate, but this feeling, it must be confessed, was rather general and remote, and they did not, in their personal lives, have much real contact with Jews or any real appreciation of the finer qualities of those people. Their feeling against anti-Semitism was, on the whole, remote and academic. On the other hand, as with most upper-class English, their feeling for the Arabs was somewhat more personal. Many members of the Group had been in Arab countries, found their personal relationships with the Arabs enjoyable, and were attracted to them. However, this attraction of the Arabs never inclined the Milner Group toward that pro-Arab romanticism that was to be found in people like W. S. Blunt or T. E. Lawrence. The reluctance of the Milner Group to push the Zionist cause in Palestine was based on more academic considerations, chiefly two in number: (1) the feeling that it would not be fair to allow the bustling minority of Zionists to come into Palestine and drive the Arabs either out or into an inferior economic and social position; and (2) the feeling that to do this would have the effect of alienating the Arabs from Western, and especially British, culture, and that this would be especially likely to occur if the Jews obtained control of the Mediterranean coast from Egypt to Syria. Strangely enough, there is little evidence that the Milner Group was activated by strategic or economic considerations at all. Thus the widely disseminated charges that Britain failed to support Zionism in Palestine because of anti-Semitism or strategic and economic considerations is not supported by any evidence found within the Milner Group. This may be true of other sections of British public opinion, and certainly is true of the British Labour Party, where the existence of anti-Semitism as an influence seems clearly established.

In Palestine, as in India and probably in Ireland, the policy of the Milner Group seems to have been motivated by good intentions which alienated the contending parties, encouraged extremism, and weakened British influence with both. In the long run, this policy was pro- Arab, just as in India it was pro-Moslem, and in both cases it served to encourage an uncompromising obstructionism which could have been avoided if Britain had merely applied the principles to which she stood committed.

The attitude of the Milner Group toward the Arabs and Jews can be seen from some quotations from members of the Group. At the Peace Conference of 1919, discussing the relative merits of the Jews and Arabs, Smuts said: "They haven't the Arabs' attractive manners. They do not warm the heart by graceful subjection. They make demands. They are a bitter, recalcitrant little people, and, like the Boers, impatient of leadership and ruinously quarrelsome among themselves. They see God in the shape of an Oriental potentate." A few years later, John Dove, in a letter to Brand, asked himself why there was so much pro-Arab feeling among the British, especially "the public school caste," and attributed it to the Arabs' good manners, derived from desert life, and their love for sports, especially riding and shooting, both close to the heart of the public-school boy. A little later, in another letter, also written from Palestine, Dove declared that the whole Arab world should be in one state and it must have Syria and Palestine for its front door, not be like South Africa, with Delagoa Bay in other hands. The Arab world, he explained, needs this western door because we are trying to westernize the Arabs, and without it they would be driven to the east and to India, which they hate. He concluded:

"If the Arab belongs to the Mediterranean, as T. E. Lawrence insists, we should do nothing to stop him getting back to it. Why our own nostrum for the ills of mankind everywhere is Western Civilization, and, if it is a sound one, what would be the good of forcing a people who want direct contact with us to slink in and out of their country by a back door which, like the Persian Gulf, opens only on the East? It would certainly check development, if it did not actually warp it. I suggest then that partition should not be permanent, but this does not mean that a stage of friendly tutelage is necessarily a bad thing for the Arabs. On the contrary, advanced peoples can give so much to stimulate backward ones if they do it with judgment and sympathy. Above all, it must not be the kind of help which kills individuality.... Personally, I don't see the slightest harm in Jews coming to Palestine under reasonable conditions. They are the Arabs' cousins as much as the Phoenicians, and if Zionism brings capital and labour which will enable industries to start, it will add to the strength of the larger unit which some day is going to include Palestine. But they must be content to be part of such a potential unit. They need have no fear of absorption, for they have everything to gain from an Arab Federation. It would mean a far larger field for their activities."


The attitude of the Milner Group toward the specific problem of Zionism was expressed in explicit terms by Lord Milner himself in a speech in the House of Lords on 27 June 1923. After expressing his wholehearted agreement with the policy of the British government as revealed in its actions and in its statements, like the Balfour Declaration and the White Paper of 1922 (Cmd. 1700), he added:

"I am not speaking of the policy which is advocated by the extreme Zionists, which is a totally different thing.... I believe that we have only to go on steadily with the policy of the Balfour Declaration as we have ourselves interpreted it in order to see great material progress in Palestine and a gradual subsistence of the present [Arab] agitation, the force of which it would be foolish to deny, but which I believe to be largely due to artificial stimulus and, to a very great extent, to be excited from without. The symptoms of any real and general dissatisfaction among the mass of the Arab population with the conditions under which they live, I think it would be very difficult to discover.... There is plenty of room in that country for a considerable immigrant population without injuring in any way the resident Arab population, and, indeed, in many ways it would tend to their extreme benefit.... There are about 700,000 people in Palestine, and there is room for several millions.... I am and always have been a strong supporter of the pro- Arab policy which was first advocated in this country in the course of the war. I believe in the independence of the Arab countries, which they owe to us and which they can only maintain with our help. I look forward to an Arab Federation.... I am convinced that the Arab will make a great mistake ... in claiming Palestine as a part of the Arab Federation in the same sense as are the other countries of the Near East which are mainly inhabited by Arabs."


He then went on to say that he felt that Palestine would require a permanent mandate and under that condition could become a National Home for the Jews, could take as many Jewish immigrants as the country could economically support, but "must never become a Jewish state."

This was the point of view of the Milner Group, and it remained the point of view of the British government until 1939. Like the Milner Group's point of view on other issues, it was essentially fair, compromising, and well-intentioned. It broke down in Palestine because of the obstructionism of the Arabs; the intention of the Zionists to have political control of their National Home, if they got one; the pressure on both Jews and Arabs from the world depression after 1929; and the need for a refuge from Hitler for European Jews after 1933. The Milner Group did not approve of the efforts of the Labour government in 1929-1931 to curtail Zionist rights in Palestine. They protested vigorously against the famous White Paper of 1930 (Cmd. 3692), which was regarded as anti- Zionist. Baldwin, Austen Chamberlain, and Leopold Amery protested against the document in a letter to The Times on 30 October 1930. Smuts sent a telegram of protest to the Prime Minister, and Sir John Simon declared it a violation of the mandate in a letter to The Times. Seven years later, the report of the Peel Commission said that the White Paper "betrayed a marked insensitiveness to Jewish feelings." As a result of this pressure, Ramsay MacDonald wrote a letter to Dr. Weizmann, interpreting the document in a more moderate fashion.

As might be expected, in view of the position of Reginald Coupland on the Peel Commission, the report of that Commission met with a most enthusiastic reception from the Milner Group. This report was a scholarly study of conditions in Palestine, of a type usually found in any document with which the Milner Group had direct contact. For the first time in any government document, the aspirations of Jews and Arabs in Palestine were declared to be irreconcilable and the existing mandate unworkable. Accordingly, the report recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral enclave containing the Holy Places. This suggestion was accepted by the British government in a White Paper (Cmd. 5513) issued through Ormsby-Gore. He also defended it before the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. In the House of Lords it was defended by Lord Lugard, but recently retired as the British member of the Permanent Mandates Commission. It was also supported by Lord Dufferin and Archbishop Lang. In the House of Commons the motion to approve the government's policy as outlined in the White Paper Cmd. 5513 was introduced by Ormsby-Gore. The first speech in support of the motion, which was passed without a division, was from Leopold Amery.

Amery's speech in support of this motion is extremely interesting and is actually an evolution, under the pressure of hard facts, from the point of view described by Lord Milner in 1923. Amery said: "However much we may regret it, we have lost the situation in Palestine, as we lost it in Ireland, through a lack of wholehearted faith in ourselves and through the constitutional inability of the individual Briton, and indeed of the country as a whole, not to see the other fellow's point of view and to be influenced by it, even to the detriment of any consistent policy." According to Amery, the idea of partition occurred to the Peel Commission only after it had left Palestine and the report was already written. Thus the commission was unable to hear any direct evidence on this question or make any examination of how partition should be carried out in detail. He said:

"Of the 396 pages of the Report almost the whole of the first 368 pages, including the whole of chapters 7 to 19, represent an earlier Report of an entirely different character. That earlier Report envisaged the continuation of the Mandate in its present form.... Throughout all these chapters to which I have referred, the whole text of the chapters deals with the assumption that the Mandate is continued, but here and there, at the end of some chapter, there is tacked on in a quite obviously added last paragraph, something to this effect: "All the rest of the chapter before is something that might have been considered if, as a matter of fact, we were not going to pursue an entirely different policy." These last paragraphs were obviously added by the Secretary, or whoever helped draft the Report, after the main great conclusion was reached at a very late stage."


Since the Milner Group supported partition in Palestine, as they had earlier in Ireland and as they did later in India, it is not too much to believe that Coupland added the additional paragraphs after the commission had returned to England and he had had an opportunity to discuss the matter with other members of the inner circle. In fact, Amery's remarks were probably based on knowledge rather than internal textual evidence and were aimed to get the motion accepted, with the understanding that it approved no more than the principle of partition, with the details to be examined by another commission later. This, in fact, is what was done.

Amery's speech is also interesting for its friendly reference to the Jews. He said that in the past the Arabs had obtained 100 percent of what they were promised, while the Jews had received "a raw deal," in spite of the fact that the Jews had a much greater need of the country and would make the best use of the land.

To carry out the policy of partition, the government appointed a new royal commission of four members in March 1938. Known as the Woodhead Commission, this body had no members of either the Milner Group or the Cecil Bloc on it, and its report (Cmd. 5854) rejected partition as impractical on the grounds that any acceptable method of partition into two states would give a Jewish state with an annual financial surplus and an Arab state with an annual financial deficit. This conclusion was accepted by the government in another White Paper (Cmd. 5893 of 1938). As an alternative, the government called a Round Table Conference of Jews and Arabs from Palestine along with representatives of the Arab states outside of Palestine. During all this, the Arabs had been growing increasingly violent; they refused to accept the Peel Report; they boycotted the Woodhead Commission; and they finally broke into open civil war. In such conditions, nothing was accomplished at the Round Table meetings at London in February-March 1939. The Arab delegation included leaders who had to be released from prison in order to come and who refused to sit in the same conference with the Jews. Compromise proposals presented by the government were rejected by both sides.

After the conference broke up, the government issued a new statement of policy (Cmd. 6019 of May 1939). It was a drastic reversal of previous statements and was obviously a turn in favor of the Arabs. It fixed Jewish immigration into Palestine at 75,000 for the whole of the next five years (including illegal immigration) and gave the Arabs a veto on any Jewish immigration after the five-year period was finished. As a matter of principle, it shifted the basis for Jewish immigration from the older criterion of the economic absorptive capacity of Palestine to the political absorptive capacity. This was really an invitation to the Arabs to intensify their agitation and constituted a vital blow at the Jews, since it was generally conceded that Jewish immigration increased the economic absorptive capacity for both Jews and Arabs.

The Milner Group were divided on this concrete policy. In general, they continued to believe that the proper solution to the Zionist problem could be found in a partitioned Palestine within a federation of Arab states. The Round Table offered this as its program in March 1939 and repeated it in June of the same year. But on the issue of an immediate and concrete policy, the Group was split. It is highly unlikely that this split originated with the issue of Zionism. It was, rather, a reflection of the more fundamental split within the Group, between those, like Amery and Salter, who abandoned the appeasement policy in March 1939 and those, like the Astors and Lothian, who continued to pursue it in a modified form.

The change in the policy of the government resulted in a full debate in the House of Commons. This debate, and the resulting division, revealed the split within the Milner Group. The policy of the White Paper was denounced by Amery as a betrayal of the Jews and of the mandate, as the final step in a scaling down of Jewish hopes that began in 1922, as a yielding of principle to Arab terrorists, as invalid without the approval of the League of Nations, and as unworkable because the Jews would and could resist it. The speeches for the government from Malcolm MacDonald and R. A. Butler were weak and vague. In the division, the government won approval of the White Paper by 268 to 179, with Major Astor, Nancy Astor, Hoare, Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, and Sir Donald Somervell in the majority and Amery, Noel-Baker, and Arthur Salter in the minority. On the same day, a similar motion in the House of Lords was approved without a division.

The government at once began to put the White Paper policy into effect, without waiting for the approval of the Permanent Mandates Commission. In July 1939 rumors began to circulate that this body had disapproved of the policy, and questions were asked in the House of Commons, but MacDonald evaded the issue, refused to give information which he possessed, and announced that the government would take the issue to the Council of the League. As the Council meeting was canceled by the outbreak of war, this could not be done, but within a week of the announcement the minutes of the Permanent Mandates Commission were released. They showed that the commission had, by unanimous vote, decided that the policy of the White Paper was contrary to the accepted interpretations of the mandate, and, by a vote of 4-3, that the White Paper was inconsistent with the mandate under any possible interpretation. In this last vote Hankey, at his first session of the commission, voted in the minority.

As a result of the release of this information, a considerable section of the House was disturbed by the government's high-handed actions and by the Colonial Secretary's evasive answers in July 1939. In March 1940, Noel-Baker introduced a motion of censure on this issue. The motion did not go to a division, but Amery once again objected to the new policy and to inviting representatives of the Arab states to the abortive Round Table Conference of 1939. He called the presence of agents of the Mufti at the Round Table "surrender."

By this time the Milner Group was badly shattered on other issues than Palestine. Within two months of this debate, it was reunited on the issue of all-out war against Germany, and Amery had resumed a seat in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for India. The Palestine issue declined in importance and did not revive to any extent until the Labour government of 1945 had taken office. From that time on the members of the Milner Group were united again on the issue, objecting to the Labour government's anti-Jewish policy and generally following the line Amery had laid down in 1939. In fact, it was Amery who did much of the talking in 1946-1949, but this is not strictly part of our story.

In Irish affairs, the Milner Group played a much more decisive role than in Palestine affairs, although only for the brief period from 1917 to 1925. Previous to 1917 and going back to 1887, Irish affairs had been one of the most immediate concerns of the Cecil Bloc. A nephew of Lord Salisbury was Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887-1891, another nephew held the post in 1895-1900, and the private secretary and protege of the former held the post in 1900-1905. The Cecil Bloc had always been opposed to Home Rule for Ireland, and when, in 1912-1914, the Liberal government took steps to grant Home Rule, Sir Edward Carson took the lead in opposing these steps. Carson was a creation of the Cecil Bloc, a fact admitted by Balfour in 1929, when he told his niece, "I made Carson." Balfour found Carson a simple Dublin barrister in 1887, when he went to Ireland as Chief Secretary. He made Carson one of his chief prosecuting attorneys in 1887, an M.P. for Dublin University in 1892, and Solicitor General in his own government in 1900-1906. When the Home Rule Bill of 1914 was about to pass, Carson organized a private army, known as the Ulster Volunteers, armed them with guns smuggled in from Germany, and formed a plot to seize control of Belfast at a given signal from him. This signal, in the form of a code telegram, was written in 1914 and on its way to be dispatched by Carson when he received word from Asquith that war with Germany was inevitable. Accordingly, the revolt was canceled and the date on which the Home Rule Bill was to go into effect was postponed by special act of Parliament until six months after peace should be signed.

The information about the telegram of 1914 was revealed to Lionel Curtis by Carson in a personal conversation after war began. Curtis's attitude was quite different, and he thoroughly disapproved of Carson's plot. This difference is an indication of the difference in point of view in regard to Ireland between the Milner Group and the Cecil Bloc. The latter was willing to oppose Home Rule even to the point where it would condone illegal actions; the former, on the contrary, was in favor of Home Rule because it believed that Ireland would aid Britain's enemies in every crisis and leave the Commonwealth at the first opportunity unless it were given freedom to govern itself.

The Milner Group's attitude toward the Irish question was expressed by The Round Table in a retrospective article in the September 1935 issue in the following words:

"The root principle of The Round Table remained freedom — 'the government of men by themselves" — and it demanded that within the Empire this principle should be persistently pursued and expressed in institutions. For that reason it denounced the post- war attempt to repress the Irish demand for national self-government by ruthless violence after a century of union had failed to win Irish consent, as a policy in conflict with British institutions and inconsistent with the principle of the British Commonwealth; and it played its part in achieving the Irish Treaty and the Dominion settlement."


The part which the Group played in the Irish settlement was considerably more than this brief passage might indicate, but it could not take effect until the group in Britain advocating repression and the group in Ireland advocating separation from the crown had brought each other to some realization of the advantages of compromise.

These advantages were pointed out by the Group, especially by Lionel Curtis, who began a two-year term as editor of The Round Table immediately after his great triumph in the Government of India Act of 1919. In the March 1920 issue, for example, he discussed and approved a project, first announced by Lloyd George in December 1919, to separate northern and southern Ireland and give self-government to both as autonomous parts of Great Britain. This was really nothing but an application of the principle of devolution, whose attractiveness to the Milner Group has already been mentioned.

The Irish Settlement in the period 1920-1923 is very largely a Milner Group achievement. For most of this period Amery's brother-in-law, Hamar Greenwood (Viscount Greenwood since 1937), was Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was, indeed, the last person to hold this office before it was abolished at the end of 1922. Curtis was adviser on Irish affairs to the Colonial Office in 1921-1924, and Smuts and Feetham intervened in the affair at certain points.

A settlement of the Irish problem along lines similar to those advocated by The Round Table was enacted in the Government of Ireland Act of December 1920. Drafted by H. A. L. Fisher and piloted through Commons by him, it passed the critical second reading by a vote of 348-94. In the majority were Amery, Nancy Astor, Austen Chamberlain, H. A. L. Fisher, Hamar Greenwood, Samuel Hoare, G. R. Lane-Fox (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), and E. F. L. Wood (Lord Halifax). In the minority were Lord Robert Cecil and Lord Wolmer (son of Lord Selborne). In the House of Lords the bill passed by 164-75. In the majority were Lords Curzon, Lytton, Onslow (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), Goschen, Hampden (brother of Robert Brand), Hardinge, Milner, Desborough, Ernie, Meston, Monson, Phillimore, Riddell, and Wemyss. In the minority were Lords Linlithgow, Beauchamp (father-in-law of Samuel Hoare), Midleton, Bryce, Ampthill (brother-in-law of Samuel Hoare), and Leconfield (brother of Hugh Wyndham).

The act of 1920 never went into effect because the extremists on both sides were not yet satiated with blood. By June 1921 they were. The first movement in this direction, according to W. K. Hancock, "may be said to open as early as October 1920 when The Times published suggestions for a truce and negotiations between plenipotentiaries of both sides." The same authority lists ten voices as being raised in protest at British methods of repression. Three of these were of the Milner Group {The Times, The Round Table, and Sir John Simon). He quotes The Round Table as saying: "If the British Commonwealth can only be preserved by such means, it would become a negation of the principle for which it has stood." (6) Similar arguments were brought to bear on the Irish leaders by Jan Smuts.

Smuts left South Africa for England at the end of May 1921, to attend the Imperial Conference of that year, which was to open on a Monday. He arrived in England the preceding Saturday and went to Oxford to stay with friends of the Milner Group. In the evening he attended a Rhodes dinner, which means he saw more of the Group. The following day, he was called by the King to Windsor Castle and went immediately. The King told Smuts that he was going to make a speech at the opening of the new Ulster Parliament. He asked Smuts to write down suggestions for this speech. Smuts stayed the night at Windsor Castle, drafted a speech, and gave it to the King's private secretary. The sequel can best be told in Smuts's own words as recorded in the second volume of S. G. Millin's biography: "The next day Lloyd George invited me to attend a committee meeting of the Cabinet, to give my opinion of the King's speech. And what should this King's speech turn out to be but a typewritten copy of the draft I had myself written the night before. I found them working on it. Nothing was said about my being the author. They innocently consulted me and I innocently answered them. But imagine the interesting position. Well, they toned the thing down a bit, they made a few minor alterations, but in substance the speech the King delivered next week in Belfast was the one I prepared." (7) Needless to say, this speech was conciliatory.

Shortly afterward, Tom Casement, brother of Sir Roger Casement, who had been executed by the British in 1916, opened negotiations between Smuts and the Irish leaders in Dublin. Tom Casement was an old friend of Smuts, for he had been British Consul at Delagoa Bay in 1914 and served with Smuts in East Africa in 1916-1917. As a result, Smuts went to Ireland in June 1921 under an alias and was taken to the hiding place of the rebels. He tried to persuade them that they would be much better off with Dominion status within the British Commonwealth than as a republic, offering as an example the insecure position of the Transvaal before 1895 in contrast with its happy condition after 1909. He said in conclusion, "Make no mistake about it, you have more privilege, more power, more peace, more security in such a sisterhood of equal nations than in a small, nervous republic having all the time to rely on goodwill, and perhaps the assistance, of foreigners. What sort of independence do you call that? By comparison with real independence it is a shadow. You sell the fact for the name." Smuts felt that his argument was having an effect on Arthur Griffith and some others, but de Valera remained suspicious, and Erskine Childers was "positively hostile." Nevertheless, the Irish decided to open negotiations with London, and Smuts promised to arrange an armistice. The armistice went into effect on 11 July 1921, and three days later the conference began.

The Irish Conference of 1921 was held in two sessions: a week in July and a series of meetings from 1 1 October to 6 December 1921. The secretary to the conference was Lionel Curtis, who resigned his editorship of The Round Table for the purpose and remained as chief adviser on Irish affairs to the Colonial Office for the next three years. As a result of the conference, the Irish moderates negotiated the Articles of Agreement of 6 December 1921. De Valera had refused to form part of the Irish delegation at the second session of the conference, and refused to accept Dominion status, although Smuts begged him to do so in a letter published in The Times on 15 August.

As a result of the Articles of Agreement of December 1921 and the Irish Free State Act of March 1922, Southern Ireland became an independent Dominion within the British Commonwealth. Its boundary with Northern Ireland was to be settled by a Boundary Commission of three members representing the three interested parties. On this commission, Richard Feetham of the Milner Group was the British member and also chairman.

The subsequent revolt of de Valera and the Irish Republicans against the Free State government, and the ultimate victory of their ideas, is not part of our story. It was a development which the Milner Group were powerless to prevent. They continued to believe that the Irish, like others, could be bound to Britain by invisible ties if all visible ones were destroyed. This extraordinary belief, admirable as it was, had its basis in a profoundly Christian outlook and, like appeasement of Hitler, self-government for India, or the Statute of Westminister, had its ultimate roots in the Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, such Christian tactics were acutely dangerous in a non-Christian world, and in this respect the Irish were only moderately different from Hitler.

The Milner Group's reward for their concessions to Ireland was not to be obtained in this world. This became clear during the Second World War, when the inability of the British to use Irish naval bases against German submarines had fatal consequences for many gallant British seamen. These bases had been retained for Britain as a result of the agreement of 1922 but were surrendered to the Irish on 25 April 1938, just when Hitler's threat to Britain was becoming acute. The Round Table of June 1938 welcomed this surrender, saying: "The defence of the Irish coast, as John Redmond vainly urged in 1914, should be primarily a matter for Irishmen."

As the official links between Eire and Britain were slowly severed, the Croup made every effort to continue unofficial relationships such as those through the Irish Institute of International Affairs and the unofficial British Commonwealth relations conference, which had Irish members in 1938.

The relationships of Britain with Egypt were also affected by the activity of the Milner Group. The details need not detain us long. It is sufficient to state that the Egyptian Declaration of 1922 was the result of the personal negotiations of Lord Milner in Egypt in his capacity as Colonial Secretary. In this post his Permanent Under Secretary was Sir George Fiddes of the Kindergarten, his Parliamentary Under Secretary was Amery, and his chief adviser in Egypt was M. S. O. Walrond, also of the Kindergarten.

Without going into the very extensive influence which members of the Milner Group have had on other parts of the Commonwealth (especially tropical Africa), it must be clear that, however unsatisfactory Commonwealth relations may be to the Group now, they nevertheless were among the chief creators of the existing system. This will appear even more clearly when we examine their influence in the history of India.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Chapter 10: The Royal Institute of International Affairs

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) is nothing but the Milner Group "writ large." It was founded by the Group, has been consistently controlled by the Group, and to this day is the Milner Group in its widest aspect. It is the legitimate child of the Round Table organization, just as the latter was the legitimate child of the "Closer Union" movement organized in South Africa in 1907. All three of these organizations were formed by the same small group of persons, all three received their initial financial backing from Sir Abe Bailey, and all three used the same methods for working out and propagating their ideas (the so-called Round Table method of discussion groups plus a journal). This similarity is not an accident. The new organization was intended to be a wider aspect of the Milner Group, the plan being to influence the leaders of thought through The Round Table and to influence a wider group through the RIIA.

The real founder of the Institute was Lionel Curtis, although this fact was concealed for many years and he was presented to the public as merely one among a number of founders. In more recent years, however, the fact that Curtis was the real founder of the Institute has been publicly stated by members of the Institute and by the Institute itself on many occasions, and never denied. One example will suffice. In the Annual Report of the Institute for 1942-1943 we read the following sentence: "When the Institute was founded through the inspiration of Mr. Lionel Curtis during the Peace Conference of Paris in 1919, those associated with him in laying the foundations were a group of comparatively young men and women."

The Institute was organized at a joint conference of British and American experts at the Hotel Majestic on 30 May 1919. At the suggestion of Lord Robert Cecil, the chair was given to General Tasker Bliss of the American delegation. We have already indicated that the experts of the British delegation at the Peace Conference were almost exclusively from the Milner Group and Cecil Bloc. The American group of experts, "the Inquiry," was manned almost as completely by persons from institutions (including universities) dominated by J. P. Morgan and Company. This was not an accident. Moreover, the Milner Group has always had very close relationships with the associates of J. P. Morgan and with the various branches of the Carnegie Trust. These relationships, which are merely examples of the closely knit ramifications of international financial capitalism, were probably based on the financial holdings controlled by the Milner Group through the Rhodes Trust. The term "international financier" can be applied with full justice to several members of the Milner Group inner circle, such as Brand, Hichens, and above all, Milner himself.

At the meeting at the Hotel Majestic, the British group included Lionel Curtis, Philip Kerr, Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Eustace Percy, Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir Cecil Hurst, J. W. Headlam-Morley, Geoffrey Dawson, Harold Temperley, and G. M. Gathorne-Hardy. It was decided to found a permanent organization for the study of international affairs and to begin by writing a history of the Peace Conference. A committee was set up to supervise the writing of this work. It had Lord Meston as chairman, Lionel Curtis as secretary, and was financed by a gift of £2000 from Thomas W. Lamont of J. P. Morgan and Company. This group picked Harold Temperley as editor of the work. It appeared in six large volumes in the years 1920-1924, under the auspices of the RIIA.

The British organization was set up by a committee of which Lord Robert Cecil was chairman, Lionel Curtis was honorary secretary and the following were members: Lord Eustace Percy, J. A. C. (later Sir John) Tilley, Philip Noel-Baker, Clement Jones, Harold Temperley, A. L. Smith (classmate of Milner and Master of Balliol), George W. Prothero, and Geoffrey Dawson. This group drew up a constitution and made a list of prospective members. Lionel Curtis and Gathorne Hardy drew up the by-laws.

The above description is based on the official history of the RIIA published by the Institute itself in 1937 and written by Stephen King Hall. It does not agree in its details (committees and names) with information from other sources, equally authoritative, such as the journal of the Institute or the preface to Temperley's History of the Peace Conference. The latter, for example, says that the members were chosen by a committee consisting of Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Valentine Chirol, and Sir Cecil Hurst. As a matter of fact, all of these differing accounts are correct, for the Institute was formed in such an informal fashion, as among friends, that membership on committees and lines of authority between committees were not very important. As an example, Mr. King-Hall says that he was invited to join the Institute in 1919 by Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), although this name is not to be found on any membership committee. At any rate, one thing is clear: The Institute was formed by the Cecil Bloc and the Milner Group, acting together, and the real decisions were being made by members of the latter.

As organized, the Institute consisted of a council with a chairman and two honorary secretaries, and a small group of paid employees. Among these latter, A. J. Toynbee, nephew of Milner's old friend at Balliol, was the most important. There were about 300 members in 1920, 714 in 1922, 17D7 in 1929, and 2414 in 1936. There have been three chairmen of the council: Lord Meston in 1920-1926, Major-General Sir Neill Malcolm in 1926-1935, and Lord Astor from 1935 to the present. All of these are members of the Milner Group, although General Malcolm is not yet familiar to us.

General Malcolm, from Eton and Sandhurst, married the sister of Dougal Malcolm of Milner's Kindergarten in 1907, when he was a captain in the British Army. By 1916 he was a lieutenant colonel and two years later a major general. He was with the British Military Mission in Berlin in 1919-1921 and General Officer Commanding in Malaya in 1921-1924, retiring in 1924. He was High Commissioner for German Refugees (a project in which the Milner Group was deeply involved) in 1936-1938 and has been associated with a number of industrial and commercial firms, including the British North Borneo Company, of which he is president and Dougal Malcolm is vice-president. It must not be assumed that General Malcolm won advancement in the world because of his connections with the Milner Group, for his older brother, Sir Ian Malcolm was an important member of the Cecil Bloc long before Sir Neill joined the Milner Group. Sir Ian, who went to Eton and New College, was assistant private secretary to Lord Salisbury in 1895-1900, was parliamentary private secretary to the Chief Secretary for Ireland (George Wyndham) in 1901-1903, and was private secretary to Balfour in the United States in 1917 and at the Peace Conference in 1919. He wrote the sketch of Walter Long of the Cecil Bloc (Lord Long of Wraxall) in the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the beginning, the two honorary secretaries of the Institute were Lionel Curtis and G. M. Gathorne-Hardy. These two, especially the latter, did much of the active work of running the organization. In 1926 the Report of the Council of the RIIA said: "It is not too much to say that the very existence of the Institute is due to those who have served as Honorary Officers." The burden of work was so great on Curtis and Gathorne-Hardy by 1926 that Sir Otto Beit, of the Rhodes Trust, Milner Group, and British South Africa Company, gave £1000 for 1926 and 1927 for secretarial assistance. F. B. Bourdillon assumed the task of providing this assistance in March 1926. He had been secretary to Feetham on the Irish Boundary Commission in 1924-1925 and a member of the British delegation to the Peace Conference in 1919. He has been in the Research Department of the Foreign Office since 1943.

The active governing body of the Institute is the council, originally called the executive committee. Under the more recent name, it generally had twenty-five to thirty members, of whom slightly less than half were usually of the Milner Group. In 1923, five members were elected, including Lord Meston, Headlam-Morley, and Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton. The following year, seven were elected, including Wilson Harris, Philip Kerr, and Sir Neill Malcolm. And so it went. In 1936, at least eleven out of twenty-six members of the council were of the Milner Group. These included Lord Astor (chairman), L. Curtis, G. M. Gathorne-Hardy, Lord Hailey, H. D. Henderson, Stephen King-Hall, Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, Sir Neill Malcolm, Lord Meston, Sir Arthur Salter, J. W. Wheeler-Bennett, E. L. Woodward, and Sir Alfred Zimmern. Among the others were A. V. Alexander, Sir John Power, Sir Norman Angell, Clement Jones, Lord Lytton, Harold Nicolson, Lord Snell, and C. K. Webster. Others who were on the council at various times were E. H. Carr, Harold Butler, G. N. Clark, Geoffrey Crowther, H. V. Hodson, Hugh Wyndham, G. W. A. Ormsley-Gore, Walter Layton, Austen Chamberlain, Malcolm MacDonald (elected 1933), and many other members of the Group.

The chief activities of the RIIA were the holding of discussion meetings, the organization of study groups, the sponsoring of research, and the publication of information and materials based on these. At the first meeting, Sir Maurice Hankey read a paper on "Diplomacy by Conference," showing how the League of Nations grew out of the Imperial Conferences. This was published in The Round Table. No complete record exists of the meetings before the fall of 1921, but, beginning then, the principal speech at each meeting and resumes of the comments from the floor were published in the Journal. At the first of these recorded meetings, D. G. Hogarth spoke on "The Arab States," with Lord Chelmsford in the chair. Stanley Reed, Chirol, and Meston spoke from the floor. Two weeks later, H. A. L. Fisher spoke on "The Second Assembly of the League of Nations," with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair. Temperley and Wilson Harris also spoke. In November, Philip Kerr was the chief figure for two evenings on "Pacific Problems as They Would Be submitted to the Washington Conference." At the end of the same month, A. J. Toynbee spoke on "The Greco-Turkish Question," with Sir Arthur Evans in the chair, and early in December his father-in-law, Gilbert Murray, spoke on "Self- Determination," with Lord Sumner in the chair. In January 1922, Chaim Weizmann spoke on "Zionism"; in February, Chirol spoke on "Egypt"; in April, Walter T. Layton spoke on "The Financial Achievement of the League of Nations," with Lord Robert Cecil in the chair. In June, Wilson Harris spoke on "The Genoa Conference," with Robert H. Brand in the chair. In October, Ormsby-Gore spoke on "Mandates," with Lord Lugard in the chair. Two weeks later, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland spoke on "The League of Nations," with H. A. L. Fisher in the chair. In March 1923, Harold Butler spoke on the "International Labour Office," with G. N. Barnes in the chair. Two weeks later, Philip Kerr spoke on "The Political Situation in the United States," with Arthur Balfour in the chair. In October 1923, Edward F. L. Wood (Lord Halifax) spoke on "The League of Nations," with H. A. L. Fisher in the chair. In November 1924, E. R. Peacock (Parkin's protege) spoke on "Mexico," with Lord Eustace Percy in the chair. In October 1925, Leopold Amery spoke on "The League of Nations," with Robert Cecil as chairman, while in May 1926, H. A. L. Fisher spoke on the same subject, with Neill Malcolm as chairman. In November 1925, Paul Mantoux spoke on "The Procedure of the League," with Brand as chairman. In June 1923, Edward Grigg spoke on "Egypt," with D. G. Hogarth in the chair. In the season of 1933-1934 the speakers included Ormsby-Gore, Oliver Lyttelton, Edward Grigg, Donald Somervell, Toynbee, Zimmern, R. W. Seton- Watson, and Lord Lothian. In the season of 1938-1939 the list contains the names of Wilson Harris, C. A. Macartney, Toynbee, Lord Hailey, A. G. B. Fisher, Harold Butler, Curtis, Lord Lothian, Zimmern, Lionel Hichens, and Lord Halifax. These rather scattered observations will show how the meetings were peppered by members of the Milner Group. This does not mean that the Group monopolized the meetings, or even spoke at a majority of them. The meetings generally took place once a week from October to June of each year, and probably members of the Group spoke or presided at no more than a quarter of them. This, however, represents far more than their due proportion, for when the Institute had 2500, members the Milner Group amounted to no more than 100.

The proceedings of the meetings were generally printed in abbreviated form in the Journal of the Institute. Until January 1927, this periodical was available only to members, but since that date it has been open to public subscription. The first issue was as anonymous as the first issue of The Round Table: no list of editors, no address, and no signature to the opening editorial introducing the new journal. The articles, however, had the names of the speakers indicated. When it went on public sale in January 1927, the name of the Institute was added to the cover. In time it took the name International Affairs. The first editor, we learn from a later issue, was Gathorne-Hardy. In January 1932 an editorial board was placed in charge of the publication. It consisted of Meston, Gathorne-Hardy, and Zimmern. This same board remained in control until war forced suspension of publication at the end of 1939, When publication was resumed in 1944 in Canada, the editorial board consisted of Hugh Wyndham, Geoffrey Crowther, and H. A. R. Gibb. Wyndham is still chairman of the board, but since the war the membership of the board has changed somewhat. In 1948 it had six members, of whom three are employees of the Institute, one is the son-in-law of an employee, the fifth is Professor of Arabic at Oxford, and the last is the chairman, Hugh Wyndham. In 1949 Adam Marris was added.

In addition to the History of the Peace Conference and the journal International Affairs, the Institute publishes the annual Survey of International Affairs. This is written either by members of the Group or by employees of the Institute. The chief writers have been Toynbee; his second wife, V. M. Boulter; Robert J. Stopford, who appears to be one of R. H. Brand's men and who wrote the reparations section each year;' H. V. Hodson, who did the economic sections from 1930-1938; and A. G. B. Fisher, who has done the economic sections since Hodson. Until 1928 the Survey had an appendix of documents, but since that year these have been published in a separate volume, usually edited by J. W. Wheeler-Bennett. Mr. Wheeler-Bennett became a member of the Milner Group and the Institute by a process of amalgamation. In 1924 he had founded a document service, which he called Information Service on International Affairs, and in the years following 1924 he published a number of valuable digests of documents and other information on disarmament, security, the World Court, reparations, etc., as well as a periodical called the Bulletin of International News. In 1927 he became Honorary Information Secretary of the RIIA, and in 1930 the Institute bought out all his information services for £3500 and made them into the Information Department of the Institute, still in charge of Mr. Wheeler-Bennett. Since the annual Documents on International Affairs resumed publication in 1944, it has been in charge of Monica Curtis (who may be related to Lionel Curtis), while Mr. Wheeler-Bennett has been busy elsewhere. In 1938-1939 he was Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Virginia: in 1939-1944 he was in the United States in various propaganda positions with the British Library of Information and for two years as Head of the British Political Warfare Mission in New York. Since 1946, he has been engaged in editing, from the British side, an edition of about twenty volumes of the captured documents of the German Foreign Ministry. He has also lectured on international affairs at New College, a connection obviously made through the Milner Group.

The Survey of International Affairs has been financed since 1925 by an endowment of £20,000 given by Sir Daniel Stevenson for this purpose and also to provide a Research Chair of International History at the University of London. Arnold J. Toynbee has held both the professorship and the editorship since their establishment. He has also been remunerated by other grants from the Institute. When the first major volume of the Survey, covering the years 1920-1923, was published, a round-table discussion was held at Chatham House, 17 November 1925, to criticize it. Headlam-Morley was chairman, and the chief speakers were Curtis, Wyndham, Gathorne-Hardy, Gilbert Murray, and Toynbee himself.

Since the Survey did not cover British Commonwealth affairs, except in a general fashion, a project was established for a parallel Survey of British Commonwealth Relations. This was financed by a grant of money from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The task was entrusted to W. K. Hancock, a member of All Souls since 1924 and Chichele Professor of Economic History residing at All Souls since 1944. He produced three substantial volumes of the Survey in 1940-1942, with a supplementary legal chapter in volume I by R. T. E. Latham of All Souls and the Milner Group.

The establishment of the Stevenson Chair of International History at London, controlled by the RIIA, gave the Croup the idea of establishing similar endowed chairs in other subjects and in other places. In 1936, Sir Henry Price gave £20,000 to endow for seven years a Chair of International Economics at Chatham House. This was filled by Allan G. B. Fisher of Australia.

In 1947 another chair was established at Chatham House: the Abe Bailey Professorship of Commonwealth Relations. This was filled by Nicholas Mansergh, who had previously written a few articles on Irish affairs and has since published a small volume on Commonwealth affairs.

By the terms of the foundation, the Institute had a voice in the election of professors to the Wilson Chair of International Politics at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. As a result, this chair has been occupied by close associates of the Group from its foundation. The following list of incumbents is significant:

A. E. Zimmern, 1919-1921
C. K. Webster, 1922-1932
J. D Greene, 1932-1934
J. F. Vranek, (Acting), 1934-1936
E. H. Carr, 1936 to now


Three of these names are familiar. Of the others, Jiri Vranek was secretary to the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (to be discussed in a moment). Jerome Greene was an international banker close to the Milner Group. Originally Mr. Greene had been a close associate of J. D. Rockefeller, but in 1917 he shifted to the international banking firm Lee, Higginson, and Company of Boston. In 1918 he was American secretary to the Allied Maritime Transport Council in London (of which Arthur Salter was general secretary). He became a resident of Toynbee Hall and established a relationship with the Milner Group. In 1919 he was secretary to the Reparations Commission of the Peace Conference (a post in which his successor was Arthur Salter in 1920-1922). He was chairman of the Pacific Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1929-1932. This last point will be discussed in a moment. Mr. Greene was a trustee and secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913-1917, and was a trustee of the Rockefeller Institute and of the Rockefeller General Education Board in 1912-1939.

The study groups of the RIIA are direct descendants of the roundtable meetings of the Round Table Group. They have been defined by Stephen King-Hall as "unofficial Royal Commissions charged by the Council of Chatham House with the investigation of specific problems." These study groups are generally made up of persons who are not members of the Milner Group, and their reports are frequently published by the Institute. In 1932 the Rockefeller Foundation gave the Institute a grant of £8000 a year for five years to advance the study-group method of research. This was extended for five years more in 1937.

In 1923, Lionel Curtis got a Canadian, Colonel R. W. Leonard, so interested in the work of the Institute that he bought Lord Kinnaird's house at 10 St. James Square as a home for the Institute. Since William Pitt had once lived in the building, it was named "Chatham House," a designation which is now generally applied to the Institute itself. The only condition of the grant was that the Institute should raise an endowment to yield at least £10,000 a year for upkeep. Since the building had no adequate assembly hall, Sir John Power, the honorary treasurer, gave £10,000 to build one on the rear. The building itself was renovated and furnished under the care of Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, who, like her late husband but unlike her son, Oliver, was a member of the Milner Group.

The assumption of the title to Chatham House brought up a major crisis within the Institute when a group led by Professor A. F. Pollard (Fellow of All Souls but not a member of the Milner Group) opposed the acceptance of the gift because of the financial commitment involved. Curtis put on an organized drive to mobilize the Group and put the opposition to flight. The episode is mentioned in a letter from John Dove to Brand, dated 9 October 1923.

This episode opens up the whole question of the financial resources available to the Institute and to the Milner Group in general. Unfortunately, we cannot examine the subject here, but it should be obvious that a group with such connections as the Milner Group would not find it difficult to finance the RIIA. In general, the funds came from the various endowments, banks, and industrial concerns with which the Milner Group had relationships. The original money in 1919, only £200, came from Abe Bailey. In later years he added to this, and in 1928 gave £5000 a year in perpetuity on the condition that the Institute never accept members who were not British subjects. When Sir Abe died in 1940, the annual Report of the Council said: "With the passing of Sir Bailey the Council and all the members of Chatham House mourn the loss of their most munificent Founder." Sir Abe had paid various other expenses during the years. For example, when the Institute in November 1935 gave a dinner to General Smuts, Sir Abe paid the cost. All of this was done as a disciple of Lord Milner, for whose principles of imperial policy Bailey always had complete devotion.

Among the other benefactors of the Institute, we might mention the following. In 1926 the Carnegie United Kingdom Trustees (Hichens and Dame Janet Courtney) gave £3000 for books; the Bank of England gave £600; J. D. Rockefeller gave £3000. In 1929 pledges were obtained from about a score of important banks and corporations, promising annual grants to the Institute. Most of these had one or more members of the Milner Group on their boards of directors. Included in the group were the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; the Bank of England; Barclay's Bank; Baring Brothers; the British American Tobacco Company; the British South Africa Company; Central Mining and Investment Corporation; Erlangers, Ltd; the Ford Motor Company; Hambros' Bank; Imperial Chemical Industries; Lazard Brothers; Lever Brothers; Lloyd's; Lloyd's Bank; the Mercantile and General Insurance Company; the Midland Bank; Reuters; Rothschild and Sons; Stern Brothers; Vickers-Armstrong; the Westminster Bank; and Whitehall Securities Corporation.

Since 1939 the chief benefactors of the Institute have been the Astor family and Sir Henry Price. In 1942 the latter gave £50,000 to buy the house next door to Chatham House for an expansion of the library (of which E. L. Woodward was supervisor). In the same year Lord Astor, who had been giving £2000 a year since 1937, promised £3000 a year for seven years to form a Lord Lothian Memorial Fund to promote good relations between the United States and Britain. At the same time, each of Lord Astor's four sons promised £1000 a year for seven years to the general fund of the Institute.

Chatham House had close institutional relations with a number of other similar organizations, especially in the Dominions. It also has a parallel organization, which was regarded as a branch, in New York. This latter, the Council on Foreign Relations, was not founded by the American group that attended the meeting at the Hotel Majestic in 1919, but was taken over almost entirely by that group immediately after its founding in 1919. This group was made up of the experts on the American delegation to the Peace Conference who were most closely associated with J. P. Morgan and Company. The Morgan bank has never made any real effort to conceal its position in regard to the Council on Foreign Relations. The list of officers and board of directors are printed in every issue of Foreign Affairs and have always been loaded with partners, associates, and employees of J. P. Morgan and Company. According to Stephen King-Hall, the RIIA agreed to regard the Council on Foreign Relations as its American branch. The relationship between the two has always been very close. For example, the publications of one are available at reduced prices to the members of the other; they frequently sent gifts of books to each other (the Council, for example, giving the Institute a seventy-five- volume set of the Foreign Relations of the United States in 1933); and there is considerable personal contact between the officers of the two (Toynbee, for example, left the manuscript of Volumes 7-9 of A Study of History in the Council's vault during the recent war).

Chatham House established branch institutes in the various Dominions, but it was a slow process. In each case the Dominion Institute was formed about a core consisting of the Round Table Group's members in that Dominion. The earliest were set up in Canada and Australia in 1927. The problem was discussed in 1933 at the first unofficial British Commonwealth relations conference (Toronto), and the decision made to extend the system to New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Newfoundland. The last-named was established by Zimmern on a visit there the same year. The others were set up in 1934- 1936.

As we have said, the members of the Dominion Institutes of International Affairs were the members of the Milner Group and their close associates. In Canada, for example, Robert L. Borden was the first president (1927-1931); N. W. Rowell was the second president; Sir Joseph Flavelle and Vincent Massey were vice-presidents; Glazebrook was honorary secretary; and Percy Corbett was one of the most important members. Of these, the first three were close associates of the Milner Group (especially of Brand) in the period of the First World War; the last four were members of the Group itself. When the Indian Institute was set up in 1936, it was done at the Viceroy's house at a meeting convened by Lord Willingdon (Brand's cousin). Robert Cecil sent a message, which was read by Stephen King-Hall. Sir Maurice Gwyer of All Souls became a member of the council. In South Africa, B. K. Long of the Kindergarten was one of the most important members. In the Australian Institute, Sir Thomas Bavin was president in 1934-1941, while F. W. Eggleston was one of its principal founders and vice-president for many years. In New Zealand, W. Downie Stewart was president of the Institute of International Affairs from 1935 on. Naturally, the Milner Group did not monopolize the membership or the official positions in these new institutes any more than they did in London, for this would have weakened the chief aim of the Group in setting them up, namely to extend their influence to wider areas.

Closely associated with the various Institutes of International Affairs were the various branches of the Institute of Pacific Relations. This was originally founded at Atlantic City in September 1924 as a private organization to study the problems of the Pacific Basin. It has representatives from eight countries with interests in the area. The representatives from the United Kingdom and the three British Dominions were closely associated with the Milner Group. Originally each country had its national unit, but by 1939, in the four British areas, the local Institute of Pacific Relations had merged with the local Institute of International Affairs. Even before this, the two Institutes in each country had practically interchangeable officers, dominated by the Milner Group. In the United States, the Institute of Pacific Relations never merged with the Council on Foreign Relations, but the influence of the associates of J. P. Morgan and other international bankers remained strong on both. The chief figure in the Institute of Pacific Relations of the United States was, for many years, Jerome D. Greene, Boston banker close to both Rockefeller and Morgan and for many years secretary to Harvard University.

The Institutes of Pacific Relations held joint meetings, similar to those of the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations and with a similar group of delegates from the British member organizations. These meetings met every two years at first, beginning at Honolulu in 1925 and then assembling at Honolulu again (1927), at Kyoto (1929), at Shanghai (1931), at Banff (1933), and at Yosemite Park (1936). F. W. Eggleston, of Australia and the Milner Group, presided over most of the early meetings. Between meetings, the central organization, set up in 1927, was the Pacific Council, a self-perpetuating body. In 1930, at least five of its seven members were from the Milner Group, as can be seen from the following list:

The Pacific Council, 1930

Jerome D. Greene of the United States
F. W. Eggleston of Australia
N. W. Rowell of Canada
D. Z. T. Yui of China
Lionel Curtis of the United Kingdom
I. Nitobe of Japan
Sir James Allen of New Zealand


The close relationships among all these organizations can be seen from a tour of inspection which Lionel Curtis and Ivison S. Macadam (secretary of Chatham House, in succession to F. B. Bourdillon, since 1929) made in 1938. They not only visited the Institutes of International Affairs of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada but attended the Princeton meeting of the Pacific Council of the IPR. Then they separated, Curtis going to New York to address the dinner of the Council on Foreign Relations and visit the Carnegie Foundation, while Macadam went to Washington to visit the Carnegie Endowment and the Brookings Institution.

Through the League of Nations, where the influence of the Milner Group was very great, the RIIA was able to extend its intellectual influence into countries outside the Commonwealth. This was done, for example, through the Intellectual Cooperation Organization of the League of Nations. This Organization consisted of two chief parts: (a) The International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, an advisory body; and (b) The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, an executive organ of the Committee, with headquarters in Paris. The International Committee had about twenty members from various countries; Gilbert Murray was its chief founder and was chairman from 1928 to its disbandment in 1945. The International Institute was established by the French government and handed over to the League of Nations (1926). Its director was always a Frenchman, but its deputy director and guiding spirit was Alfred Zimmern from 1926 to 1930. It also had a board of directors of six persons; Gilbert Murray was one of these from 1926.

It is interesting to note that from 1931 to 1939 the Indian representative on the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation was Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. In 1931 he was George V Professor of Philosophy at Calcutta University. His subsequent career is interesting. He was knighted in 1931, became Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford in 1936, and became a Fellow of All Souls in 1944.

Beginning in 1928 at Berlin, Professor Zimmern organized annual round-table discussion meetings under the auspices of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation. These were called the International Studies Conferences and devoted themselves to an effort to obtain different national points of view on international problems. The members of the Studies Conferences were twenty-five organizations. Twenty of these were Coordinating Committees created for the purpose in twenty different countries. The other five were the following international organizations: The Academy of International Law at The Hague; The European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; the Geneva School of International Studies; the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva; the Institute of Pacific Relations. In two of these five, the influence of the Milner Group and its close allies was preponderant. In addition, the influence of the Group was decisive in the Coordinating Committees within the British Commonwealth, especially in the British Coordinating Committee for International Studies. The members of this committee were named by four agencies, three of which were controlled by the Milner Group. They were: (1) the RIIA, (2) the London School of Economics and Political Science, (3) the Department of International Politics at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and (4) the Montague Burton Chair of International Relations at Oxford. We have already indicated that the Montague Burton Chair was largely controlled by the Milner Group, since the Group always had a preponderance on the board of electors to that chair. This was apparently not assured by the original structure of this board, and it was changed in the middle 1930s. After the change, the board had seven electors: (1) the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, ex officio; (2) the Master of Balliol, ex officio; (3) Viscount Cecil of Chelwood; (4) Gilbert Murray, for life; (5) B. H. Sumner; (6) Sir Arthur Salter; and (7) Sir. J. Fischer Williams of New College. Thus, at least four of this board were members of the Group. In 1947 the electoral board to the Montague Burton Professorship consisted of R. M. Barrington-Ward (editor of The Times); Miss Agnes Headlam-Morley (daughter of Sir James Headlam-Morley of the Group); Sir Arthur Salter; R. C. K. Ensor; and one vacancy, to be filled by Balliol College. It was this board, apparently, that named Miss Headlam-Morley to the Montague Burton Professorship when E. L. Woodward resigned in 1947. As can be seen, the Milner Group influence was predominant, with only one member out of five (Ensor) clearly not of the Group.

The RIIA had the right to name three persons to the Coordinating Committee. Two of these were usually of the Milner Group. In 1933, for example, the three were Lord Meston, Clement Jones, and Toynbee.

The meetings of the International Studies Conferences were organized in a fashion identical with that used in other meetings controlled by the Milner Group — for example, in the unofficial conferences on British Commonwealth relations — and the proceedings were published by the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in a similar way to those of the unofficial conferences just mentioned, except that the various speakers were identified by name. As examples of the work which the International Studies Conferences handled, we might mention that at the fourth and fifth sessions (Copenhagen in 1931 and Milan in 1932), they examined the problem of "The State and Economic Life"; at the seventh and eighth session (Paris in 1934 and London in 1935), they examined the problem of "Collective Security"; and at the ninth and tenth sessions (Madrid in 1936 and Paris 1937) they examined the problem of "University Teaching of International Relations."

In all of these conferences the Milner Group played a certain part. They could have monopolized the British delegations at these meetings if they had wished, but, with typical Milner Group modesty they made no effort to do so. Their influence appeared most clearly at the London meeting of 1935. Thirty-nine delegates from fourteen countries assembled at Chatham House to discuss the problem of collective security. Great Britain had ten delegates. They were Dr. Hugh Dalton, Professor H. Lauterpacht, Captain Liddell Hart, Lord Lytton, Professor A. D. McNair, Professor C. A. W. Manning, Dr. David Mitrany, Rear Admiral H. G. Thursfield, Arnold J. Toynbee, and Professor C. K. Webster. In addition,
the Geneva School of International Studies sent two delegates: J. H. Richardson and A. E. Zimmern. The British delegation presented three memoranda to the conference. The first, a study of "Sanctions," was prepared by the RIIA and has been published since. The second, a study of "British Opinion on Collective Security," was prepared by the British Coordinating Committee. The third, a collection of "British Views on Collective Security," was prepared by the delegates. It had an introduction by Meston and nine articles, of which one was by G. M. Gathorne-Hardy and one by H. V. Hodson. Zimmern also presented a memorandum on behalf of the Geneva School. Opening speeches were made by Austen Chamberlain, Allen W. Dulles (of the Council on Foreign Relations), and Louis Eisenmann of the University of Paris. Closing speeches were made by Lord Meston, Allen Dulles, and Gilbert Murray. Meston acted as president of the conference, and Dulles as chairman of the study meetings. The proceedings were edited and published by a committee of two Frenchmen and A. J. Toynbee.

At the sessions on "Peaceful Change" in 1936-37, Australia presented one memorandum ("The Growth of Australian Population"). It was written by F. W. Eggleston and G. Packer. The United Kingdom presented fifteen memoranda. Eight of these were prepared by the RIIA, and seven by individuals. Of the seven individual works, two were written by members of All Souls who were also members of the Milner Group (C. A. Macartney and C. R. M. F. Cruttwell). The other five were written by experts who were not members of the Group (A. M. Carr-Saunders, A. B. Keith, D. Harwood, H. Lauterpacht, and R. Kuczynski).

In the middle 1930s the Milner Group began to take an interest in the problem of refugees and stateless persons, as a result of the persecutions of Hitler and the approaching closing of the Nansen Office of the League of Nations. Sir Neill Malcolm was made High Commissioner for German Refugees in 1936. The following year the RIIA began a research program in the problem. This resulted in a massive report, edited by Sir John Hope Simpson who was not a member of the Group and was notoriously unsympathetic to Zionism (1939). In 1938 Roger M. Makins was made secretary to the British delegation to the Evian Conference on Refugees. Mr. Makins' full career will be examined later. At this point it is merely necessary to note that he was educated at Winchester School and at Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected to a Fellowship at All Souls in 1925, when only twenty-one years old. After the Evian Conference (where the British, for strategic reasons, left all the responsible positions to the Americans), Mr. Makins was made secretary to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. He was British Minister in Washington from 1945 to 1947 and is now Assistant Under Secretary in the Foreign Office.

Before leaving the subject of refugees, we might mention that the chief British agent for Czechoslovakian refugees in 1938-1939 was R. J. Stopford, an associate of the Milner Group already mentioned.

At the time of the Czechoslovak crisis in September 1938, the RIIA began to act in an unofficial fashion as an adviser to the Foreign Office. When war began a year later, this was made formal, and Chatham House became, for all practical purposes, the research section of the Foreign Office. A special organization was established in the Institute, in charge of A. J. Toynbee, with Lionel Curtis as his chief support acting "as the permanent representative of the chairman of the Council, Lord Astor." The organization consisted of the press-clipping collection, the information department, and much of the library. These were moved to Oxford and set up in Balliol, All Souls, and Rhodes House. The project was financed by the Treasury, All Souls, Balliol, and Chatham House jointly. Within a brief time, the organization became known as the Foreign Research and Press Service (FRPS). It answered all questions on international affairs from government departments, prepared a weekly summary of the foreign press, and prepared special research projects. When Anthony Eden was asked a question in the House of Commons on 23 July 1941, regarding the expense of this project, he said that the Foreign Office had given it £53,000 in the fiscal year 1940-1941.

During the winter of 1939-1940 the general meetings of the Institute were held in Rhodes House, Oxford, with Hugh Wyndham generally presiding. The periodical International Affairs suspended publication, but the Bulletin of International News continued, under the care of Hugh Latimer and A. J. Brown. The latter had been an undergraduate at Oxford in 1933-1936, was elected a Fellow of All Souls in 1938, and obtained a D.Phil, in 1939. The former may be Alfred Hugh Latimer, who was an undergraduate at Merton from 1938 to 1946 and was elected to the foundation of the same college in 1946.

As the work of the FRPS grew too heavy for Curtis to supervise alone, he was given a committee of four assistants. They were G. N. Clark, H. J. Paton, C. K. Webster, and A. E. Zimmern. About the same time, the London School of Economics established a quarterly journal devoted to the subject of postwar reconstruction. It was called Agenda, and G. N. Clark was editor. Clark had been a member of All Souls since 1912 and was Chichele Professor of Economic History from 1931 to 1943. Since 1943 he has been Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. Not a member of the Milner Group, he is close to it and was a member of the council of Chatham House during the recent war.

At the end of 1942 the Foreign Secretary (Eden) wrote to Lord Astor that the government wished to take the FRPS over completely. This was done in April 1943. The existing Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office was merged with it to make the new Research Department of the Ministry. Of this new department Toynbee was director and Zimmern deputy director.

This brief sketch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs does not by any means indicate the very considerable influence which the organization exerts in English- speaking countries in the sphere to which it is devoted. The extent of that influence must be obvious. The purpose of this chapter has been something else: to show that the Milner Group controls the Institute. Once that is established, the picture changes. The influence of Chatham House appears in its true perspective, not as the influence of an autonomous body but as merely one of many instruments in the arsenal of another power. When the influence which the Institute wields is combined with that controlled by the Milner Group in other fields — in education, in administration, in newspapers and periodicals — a really terrifying picture begins to emerge. This picture is called terrifying not because the power of the Milner Group was used for evil ends. It was not. On the contrary, it was generally used with the best intentions in the world — even if those intentions were so idealistic as to be almost academic. The picture is terrifying because such power, whatever the goals at which it may be directed, is too much to be entrusted safely to any group. That it was too much to be safely entrusted to the Milner Group will appear quite clearly in Chapter 12. No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner Group accomplished in Britain — that is, that a small number of men should be able to wield such power in administration and politics, should be given almost complete control over the publication of the documents relating to their actions, should be able to exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and should be able to monopolize so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 11: India, 1911-1945

India was one of the primary concerns of both the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group. The latter probably devoted more time and attention to India than to any other subject. This situation reached its peak in 1919, and the Government of India Act of that year is very largely a Milner Group measure in conception, formation, and execution. The influence of the two groups is not readily apparent from the lists of Governors-general (Viceroys) and Secretaries of State for India in the twentieth century:

Viceroys

Lord Curzon, 1898-1905
Lord Minto, 1905-1910
Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, 1910-1916
Lord Chelmsford, 1916-1921
Lord Reading, 1921-1926
Lord Irwin, 1926-1931
Lord Willingdon, 1931-1936
Lord Linlithgow, 1936-1943

Secretaries of State

Lord George Hamilton, 1895-1903
St. John Brodrick, 1903-1908
John Morley, 1908-1910
Lord Crewe, 1910-1915
Austen Chamberlain, 1915-1917
Edward Montagu, 1917-1922
Lord Peel, 1922-1924
Lord Olivier, 1924
Lord Birkenhead, 1924-1928
Lord Peel, 1928-1929
Wedgwood Benn, 1929-1931
Samuel Hoare, 1931-1935
Lord Zetland, 1935-1940
Leopold Amery, 1940-1945


Of the Viceroys only one (Reading) is clearly of neither the Cecil Bloc nor the Milner Group; two were members of the Milner Group (Irwin and Willingdon); another was a member of both groups (Chelmsford); the rest were of the Cecil Bloc, although in two cases (Minto and Linlithgow) in a rather peripheral fashion. Three of the eight were members of All Souls. According to Lord Esher, the appointment of Lord Hardinge in 1910 was made at his suggestion, by John Morley. At the time, Esher's son, the present Viscount Esher, was acting as unpaid private secretary to Morley, a position he held for five years (1905-1910). From the same source we learn that the Viceroyship was offered to Selborne in 1903 and to Esher himself in 1908. The former failed of appointment because Curzon refused to retire, while the latter rejected the post as of too limited influence.

Of the thirteen Secretaries of State, two were Labour and two Liberals. One of these latter (Morley) was close to the Milner Group. Of the other nine, three were of the Cecil Bloc (St. John Brodrick, Austen Chamberlain, and Lord Zetland), two were of the Milner Group (Hoare and Amery), and four were of neither group.

The political and constitutional history of India in the twentieth century consists largely of a series of investigations by various committees and commissions, and a second, and shorter, series of legislative enactments. The influence of the Milner Group can be discerned in both of these, especially in regard to the former.

Of the important commissions that investigated Indian constitutional questions in the twentieth century, every one has had a member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. The following list gives the name of the commission, the dates of its existence, the number of British members (in distinction from Indian members), the names of representatives from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group (with the latter italicized), and the command number of its report:

1. The Royal Commission on Decentralization in India, 1907-1909, five members including W. L. Hichens (Cmd. 4360- of 1908).

2. The Royal Commission on Public Services in India, 1912-1915, nine members including Baron Islington, the Earl of Ronaldshay (later Marquess of Zetland), Sir Valentine Chirol, and H. A. L. Fisher. The chairman of this commission, Lord Islington, was later father-in-law to Sir Edward Grigg (Lord Altrincham) (Cmd. 8382 of 1916).

3. The Government of India Constitutional Reform Committee on Franchise, 1919, four members, including Malcolm Hailey.

4. The Government of India Constitutional Reform Committee on Functions, 1919, four members, including Richard Feetham as chairman.

5. The Joint Select Committee on the Government of India Bill, 1919, fourteen members, including Lord Selborne (chairman), Lord Midleton (St. John Brodrick), Lord Islington, Sir Henry Craik (whose son was in Milner's Kindergarten), and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech) (Cmd. 97 of 1919).

6. The Committee on Home Administration of Indian Affairs, 1919, eight members, including W. G A. Ormsby-Gore (Lord Harlech) (Cmd. 207 of 1919).

7. The Royal Commission on Superior Civil Services in India, 1923-1924, five members, including Lord Lee of Fareham as chairman and Reginald Coupland (Cmd. 2128 of 1924).

8. The Indian Statutory Commission, 1927-1930, seven members, with Sir John Simon as chairman (Cmd. 3568 and 3569 of 1930).

9. The Indian Franchise Committee, 1931-1932, eight members, including Lord Lothian as chairman and Lord Dufferin (whose brother, Lord Basil Blackwood, had been in Milner's Kindergarten) (Cmd. 4086 of 1932).

10. The three Indian Round Table Conferences of 1930-1932 contained a number of members of the Milner Croup. The first session (November 1930-January 1931) had eighty-nine delegates, sixteen from Britain, sixteen from the Indian States, and fifty- seven from British India. Formed as they were by a Labour government, the first two sessions had eight Labour members among the sixteen from Britain. The other eight were Earl Peel, the Marquess of Zetland, Sir Samuel Hoare, Oliver Stanley, the Marquess of Reading, the Marquess of Lothian, Sir Robert Hamilton, and Isaac Foot. Of these eight, two were of the Milner Croup (Hoare and Lothian) and two of the Cecil Bloc (Zetland and Stanley). The chief adviser to the Indian States Delegation was L. F. Rushbrook Williams of the Milner Group, who was named to his position by the Chamber of Princes Special Organization. Among the five officials called in for consultation by the conference, we find the name of Malcolm Hailey (Cmd. 3778).

The membership of delegations at the second session (September-December 1931) was practically the same, except that thirty-one additional members were added and Rushbrook Williams became a delegate as the representative of the Maharaja of Nawanagar (Cmd. 3997).

At the third session (November-December 1932) there were no Labour Party representatives. The British delegation was reduced to twelve. Four of these were of the Milner Group (Hoare, Simon, Lothian, and Irwin, now Halifax). Rushbrook Williams continued as a delegate of the Indian States (Cmd. 4238).

11. The Joint Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, appointed in April 1933, had sixteen members from the House of Commons and an equal number of Lords. Among these were such members of the Milner Group as Sir Samuel Hoare, Sir John Simon, Lord Lothian, and Lord Irwin (Halifax). The Cecil Bloc was also well represented by Archbishop Lang of Canterbury, Austen Chamberlain, Lord Eustace Percy, Lord Salisbury, Lord Zetland, Lord Lytton, and Lord Hardinge of Penshurst.

12. The Cripps Mission, 1942, four members, including Reginald Coupland, who wrote an unofficial but authoritative book on the mission as soon as it returned to England (Cmd. 6350).


The chief legislative events in this period were five in number: the two Indian Councils Acts of 1892 and 1909, the two Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935, and the achievement of self-government in 1947.

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was put through the House of Commons by George Curzon, at that time Under Secretary in the India Office as the protege of Lord Salisbury, who had discovered him in All Souls nine years earlier. This act was important for two reasons: (1) it introduced a representative principle into the Indian government by empowering the Governor-General and Provincial Governors to seek nominations to the"unofficial" seats in their councils from particular Indian groups and associations; and (2) it accepted a "communal" basis for this representation by seeking these nominations separately from Hindus, Moslems, and others. From these two sources flowed ultimately self-government and partition, although it is perfectly evident that neither of these was anticipated or desired by the persons who supported the act.

The nominations for "unofficial" members of the councils provided in the Act of 1892 became elections in practice, because the Governor-General always accepted the suggested nominations as his nominees. This practice became law in the Act of 1909.

The Indian Councils Act of 1909 was passed under a Liberal government and was only remotely influenced by the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group. The Prime Minister, Asquith, was practically a member of the Cecil Bloc, being an intimate friend of Balfour and Rosebery. This relationship had been tightened when he married Margot Tennant, a member of "the Souls," in 1894. Margot Tennant's sister, Laura, had previously married Alfred Lyttelton, and both sisters had been intimate friends of Curzon and other members of "the Souls." Asquith had also been, as we have stated, a close associate of Milner's. Asquith, however, was never a member of the Milner Group. After 1890, and especially after 1915, he increasingly became a member of the Cecil Bloc. It was Balfour who persuaded Asquith to write his Memories and Reflections after he (Balfour) had discussed the matter with Margot Asquith over a tete-a-tete dinner. These dinners were a not infrequent occurrence on the evenings when Asquith himself dined at his club, Asquith usually stopping by later in the evening to get his wife and escort her home. Another indication of Asquith's feeling toward the Cecil Bloc can be found in his autobiography under the date 22 December 1919. On that occasion Asquith told Lady Hartington, daughter of Lord Salisbury, that he "had not expected to live to see the day when the best safeguard for true liberalism would be found in an unreformed House of Lords and the Cecil family."

In 1908-1909, however, the situation was somewhat different, and Asquith could hardly be called a member of the Cecil Bloc. In a somewhat similar situation, although much closer to the Milner Group (through H. A. L. Fisher and All Souls), was John Morley, the Secretary of State for India. Lord Minto, the Governor-General in India, was also a member of the Cecil Bloc in a peripheral fashion but held his appointment through a family claim on the Governor-Generalship rather than by favor of the Cecils.

The Act of 1909, however, while not a product of the groups with which we are concerned, was formed in the same social tradition, drawn up from the same intellectual and social outlook, and put into effect in the same fashion. It legalized the principle of election (rather than nomination) to Indian councils, enlarged their membership to provide majorities of non-officials in the provincial councils, and gave them the power to discuss affairs and pass resolutions. The seats were allotted to communal groups, with the minorities (like Moslems and Sikhs) receiving more than their proportionate share and the Moslems having, in addition, a separate electorate for the incumbents of Moslem seats. This served to encourage extremism among the Moslems and, while a logical development of 1892, was a long step on the road to Pakistan. This Act of 1909 was, as we have mentioned, put through the House of Commons by Sir Thomas Buchanan, a Fellow of All Souls and an associate of the Cecil Bloc.

The Government of India Act of 1919 is outstanding in many ways. It is the most drastic and most important reform made in Indian government in the whole period from 1861 to the achievement of self-government. Its provisions for the central government of India remained in force, with only slight changes, from 1919 to 1946. It is the only one of these acts whose "secret" legislative background is no longer a secret. And it is the only one which indicated a desire on the part of the British government to establish in India a responsible government patterned on that in Britain.

The legislative history of the Act of 1919 as generally known is simple enough. It runs as follows. In August 1917 the Secretary of State for India, Edwin S. Montagu, issued a statement which read: "The policy of H.M. Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-government institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire." The critical word here is responsible government, since the prospect of eventual self-government had been held out to India for years. In accordance with this promise, Montagu visited India and, in cooperation with the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, issued the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, indicating the direction of future policy. This report became the basis for the bill of 1918, which, after a certain amount of amendment by Lord Selborne's Joint Select Committee, came into force as the Government of India Act of 1919.

The secret history of this Act is somewhat different, and begins in Canada in 1909, when Lionel Curtis accepted from his friend William Marris the idea that responsible government on the British pattern should be extended to India. Two years later, Curtis formed a study group of six or eight persons within the London Round Table Group. We do not know for certain who were the members of the study group, but apparently it included Curtis, Kerr, Fisher, and probably Brand. To these were added three officials of the India Office. These included Malcolm Seton (Sir Malcolm after 1919), who was secretary to the Judicial Department of the India Office and joined Curtis's group about 1913; and Sir William Duke, who was Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in 1911-1912, senior member of the council of the Governor of Bengal in 1912-1914, and a member of the Council of India in London after 1914. At this last date he joined the Curtis group. Both of these men were important figures in the India Office later, Sir William as Permanent Under Secretary from 1920 to his death in 1924, and Sir Malcolm as Assistant Under Secretary (1919-1924) and Deputy Under Secretary (1924-1933). Sir Malcolm wrote the biographical sketch of Sir William in the Dictionary of National Biography, and also wrote the volume on The India Office in the Whitehall Series (1926). The third member from this same source was Sir Lionel Abrahams, Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office.

The Curtis study group was not an official committee, although some persons (both at the time and since) have believed it was. Among these persons would appear to be Lord Chelmsford, for in debate in the House of Lords in November 1927 he said:

"I came home from India in January 1916 for six weeks before I went out again as Viceroy, and, when I got home, I found that there was a Committee in existence at the India Office, which was considering on what lines future constitutional development might take place. That Committee, before my return in the middle of March gave me a pamphlet containing in broad outline the views which were held with regard to future constitutional development. When I reached India I showed this pamphlet to my Council and also to my noble friend, Lord Meston, who was then Lieutenant Governor of the United Provinces. It contained, what is now known as the diarchic principle.... Both the Council and Lord Meston, who was then Sir James Meston, reported adversely on the proposals for constitutional development contained in that pamphlet."


Lord Chelmsford then goes on to say that Austen Chamberlain combated their objections with the argument that the Indians must acquire experience in self- government, so, after the announcement to this effect was made publicly in August 1917, the officials in India accepted dyarchy.

If Lord Chelmsford believed that the pamphlet was an official document from a committee in the India Office, he was in error. The other side of the story was revealed by Lionel Curtis in 1920 in his book Dyarchy. According to Curtis, the study group was originally formed to help him write the chapter on India in the planned second volume of The Commonwealth of Nations. It set as its task "to enquire how self-government could be introduced and peacefully extended to India." The group met once a fortnight in London and soon decided on the dyarchy principle. This principle, as any reader of Curtis's writings knows, was basic in Curtis's political thought and was the foundation on which he hoped to build a federated Empire. According to Curtis, the study group asked itself: "Could not provincial electorates through legislatures and ministers of their own be made clearly responsible for certain functions of government to begin with, leaving all others in the hands of executives responsible as at present to the Government of India and the Secretary of State? Indian electorates, legislatures, and executives would thus be given a field for the exercise of genuine responsibility. From time to time fresh powers could be transferred from the old governments as the new elective authorities developed and proved their capacity for assuming them." From this point of view, Curtis asked Duke to draw up such "a plan of Devolution" for Bengal. This plan was printed by the group, circulated, and criticized in typical Milner Group fashion. Then the whole group went to Oxford for three days and met to discuss it in the old Bursary of Trinity College. It was then rewritten. "No one was satisfied." It was decided to circulate it for further criticism among the Round Table Groups throughout the world, but Lord Chelmsford wrote from New South Wales and asked for a copy. Apparently realizing that he was to be the next Viceroy of India, the group sent a copy to him and none to the Round Table Groups, "lest the public get hold of it and embarrass him." It is clear that Chelmsford was committed to a program of reform along these or similar lines before he went out as Viceroy. This was revealed in debate in the House of Lords by Lord Crewe on 12 December 1919.

After Chelmsford went to India in March 1916, a new, revised version of the study group's plan was drawn up and sent to him in May 1916. Another copy was sent to Canada to catch up with Curtis, who had already left for India by way of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This itinerary was undoubtedly followed by Curtis in order to consult with members of the Group in various countries, especially with Brand in Canada. On his arrival in India, Curtis wrote back to Kerr in London:

"The factor which impressed me most in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia was the rooted aversion these peoples have to any scheme which meant their sharing in the Government of India.... To these young democratic communities the principle of self- government is the breath of their nostrils. It is almost a religion. They feel as if there were something inherently wrong in one people ruling another. It is the same feeling as that which makes the Americans dislike governing the Philippines and decline to restore order in Mexico. My first impressions on this subject were strongly confirmed on my recent visit to these Dominions. I scarcely recall one of the numerous meetings I addressed at which I was not asked why India was not given self-government and what steps were being taken in that direction."


Apparently this experience strengthened Curtis's idea that India must be given responsible government. He probably felt that by giving India what it and the Dominions wanted for India, both would be bound in loyalty more closely to Britain. In this same letter to Kerr, Curtis said, in obvious reference to the Round Table Group:

"Our task then is to bring home to the public in the United Kingdom and the Dominions how India differs from a country like Great Britain on the one hand and from Central Africa on the other, and how that difference is now reflected in the character of its government. We must outline clearly the problems which arise from the contact of East and West and the disaster which awaits a failure to supply their adequate solution by realizing and expressing the principle of Government for which we stand. We must then go on to suggest a treatment of India in the general work of Imperial reconstruction in harmony with the facts adduced in the foregoing chapters. And all this must be done with the closest attention to its effects upon educated opinion here. We must do our best to make Indian Nationalists realize the truth that like South Africa all their hopes and aspirations are dependent on the maintenance of the British Commonwealth and their permanent membership therein."


This letter, written on 13 November 1916, was addressed to Philip Kerr but was intended for all the members of the Group. Sir Valentine Chirol corrected the draft, and copies were made available for Meston and Marris. Then Curtis had a thousand copies printed and sent to Kerr for distribution. In some way, the extremist Indian nationalists obtained a copy of the letter and published a distorted version of it. They claimed that a powerful and secret group organized about The Round Table had sent Curtis to India to spy out the nationalist plans in order to obstruct them. Certain sentences from the letter were torn from their context to prove this argument. Among these was the reference to Central Africa, which was presented to the Indian people as a statement that they were as uncivilized and as incapable of self-government as Central Africans. As a result of the fears created by this rumor, the Indian National Congress and the Moslem League formed their one and only formal alliance in the shape of the famous Lucknow Compact of 29 December 1916. The Curtis letter was not the only factor behind the Lucknow agreement, but it was certainly very influential. Curtis was present at the Congress meeting and was horrified at the version of his letter which was circulating. Accordingly, he published the correct version with an extensive commentary, under the title Letters to the People of India (1917). In this he said categorically that he believed: "(1) That it is the duty of those who govern the whole British Commonwealth to do anything in their power to enable Indians to govern themselves as soon as possible. (2) That Indians must also come to share in the government of the British Commonwealth as a whole." There can be no doubt that Curtis was sincere in this and that his view reflected, perhaps in an extreme form, the views of a large and influential group in Great Britain. The failure of this group to persuade the Indian nationalists that they were sincere is one of the great disasters of the century, although the fault is not entirely theirs and must be shared by others, including Gandhi.

In the first few months of 1917, Curtis consulted groups of Indians and individual British (chiefly of the Milner Group) regarding the form which the new constitution would take. The first public use of the word "dyarchy" was in an open letter of 6 April 1917, which he wrote to Bhupendra Nath Basu, one of the authors of the Lucknow Compact, to demonstrate how dyarchy would function in the United Provinces. In writing this letter, Curtis consulted with Valentine Chirol and Malcolm Hailey. He then wrote an outline, "The Structure of Indian Government," which was revised by Meston and printed. This was submitted to many persons for comment. He then organized a meeting of Indians and British at Lord Sinha's house in Darjeeling and, after considerable discussion, drew up a twelve-point program, which was signed by sixty-four Europeans and ninety Indians. This was sent to Chelmsford and to Montagu.

In the meantime, in London, preparations were being made to issue the historic declaration of 20 August 1917, which promised "responsible" government to India. There can be no doubt that the Milner Group was the chief factor in issuing that declaration. Curtis, in Dyarchy, says: "For the purpose of the private enquiry above described the principle of that pronouncement was assumed in 1915." It is perfectly clear that Montagu (Secretary of State in succession to Austen Chamberlain from June 1917) did not draw up the declaration. He drew up a statement, but the India Office substituted for it one which had been drawn up much earlier, when Chamberlain was still Secretary of State. Lord Ronaldshay (Lord Zetland), in the third volume of his Life of Curzon, prints both drafts and claims that the one which was finally issued was drawn up by Curzon. Sir Stanley Reed, who was editor of The Times of India from 1907 to 1923, declared at a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1926 that the declaration was drawn up by Milner and Curzon. It is clear that someone other than Curzon had a hand in it, and the strongest probability would be Milner, who was with Curzon in the War Cabinet at the time. The fact is that Curzon could not have drawn it up alone unless he was unbelievably careless, because, after it was published, he was horrified when the promise of "progressive realization of responsible government in India" was pointed out to him.

Montagu went to India in November 1917, taking Sir William Duke with him. Curtis, who had been moving about India as the guest of Stanley Reed, Chirol, Chelmsford, Meston, Marris, and others, was invited to participate in the Montagu-Chelmsford conferences on several occasions. Others who were frequently consulted were Hailey, Meston, Duke, and Chirol. The Montagu-Chelmsford Report was written by Sir William Marris of Milner's Kindergarten after Curtis had returned to England. Curtis wrote in Dyarchy in 1920: "It was afterwards suggested in the press that I had actually drafted the report. My prompt denial has not prevented a further complaint from many quarters that Lord Chelmsford and Mr. Montagu were unduly influenced by an irresponsible tourist.... With the exception of Lord Chelmsford himself I was possibly the only person in India with firsthand knowledge of responsible government as applied in the Dominions to the institutions of provinces. Whether my knowledge of India entitled me to advance my views is more open to question. Of this the reader can judge for himself. But in any case the interviews were unsought by me." Thus Curtis does not deny the accusation that he was chiefly responsible for dyarchy. It was believed at the time by persons in a position to know that he was, and these persons were both for and against the plan. On the latter side, we might quote Lord Ampthill, who, as a former acting Viceroy, as private secretary to Joseph Chamberlain, as Governor of Madras, and as brother-in-law of Samuel Hoare, was in a position to know what was going on. Lord Ampthill declared in the House of Lords in 1919: "The incredible fact is that, but for the chance visit to India of a globe- trotting doctrinaire, with a positive mania for constitution-mongering, nobody in the world would ever have thought of so peculiar a notion as Dyarchy. And yet the Joint Committee tells us in an airy manner that no better plan can be conceived."

The Joint Committee's favorable report on the Dyarchy Bill was probably not unconnected with the fact that five out of fourteen members were from the Cecil Bloc or Milner Group, that the chairman had in his day presided over meetings of the Round Table Groups and was regarded by them as their second leader, and that the Joint Committee spent most of its time hearing witnesses who were close to the Milner Group. The committee heard Lord Meston longer than any other witness (almost four days), spent a day with Curtis on the stand, and questioned, among others, Feetham, Duke, Thomas Holland (Fellow of All Souls from 1875 to his death in 1926), Michael Sadler (a close friend of Milner's and practically a member of the Group), and Stanley Reed. In the House of Commons the burden of debate on the bill was supported by Montagu, Sir Henry Craik, H. A. L. Fisher, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, and Thomas J. Bennett (an old journalist colleague of Lord Salisbury and principal owner of The Times of India from 1892). Montagu and Craik both referred to Lionel Curtis. The former said: "It is suggested in some quarters that this bill arose spontaneously in the minds of the Viceroy and myself without previous inquiry or consideration, under the influence of Mr. Lionel Curtis. I have never yet been able to understand that you approach the merits of any discussion by vain efforts to approximate to its authorship. I do not even now understand that India or the Empire owes anything more or less than a great debt of gratitude to the patriotic and devoted services Mr. Curtis has given to the consideration of this problem."

Sir Henry Craik later said: "I am glad to join in the compliment paid to our mutual friend, Mr. Lionel Curtis, who belongs to a very active, and a very important body of young men, whom I should be the last to criticize. I am proud to know him, and to pay that respect to him due from age to youth. He and others of the company of the Round Table have been doing good work, and part of that good work has been done in India."

Mr. Fisher had nothing to say about Lionel Curtis but had considerable to say about the bill and the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. He said: "There is nothing in this Bill which is not contained in that Report. That Report is not only a very able and eloquent State Paper, but it is also one of the greatest State Papers which have been produced in Anglo-Indian history, and it is an open-minded candid State Paper, a State Paper which does not ignore or gloss over the points of criticism which have since been elaborated in the voluminous documents which have been submitted to us." He added, a moment later: "This is a great Bill." (2) The Round Table, which also approved of the bill, as might be imagined, referred to Fisher's speech in its issue of September 1919 and called him "so high an authority." The editor of that issue was Lionel Curtis.

In the House of Lords there was less enthusiasm. Chief criticism centered on two basic points, both of which originated with Curtis: (1) the principle of dyarchy — that is, that government could be separated into two classes of activities under different regimes; and (2) the effort to give India "responsible" government rather than merely "self- government" — that is, the effort to extend to India a form of government patterned on Britain's. Both of these principles were criticized vigorously, especially by members of the Cecil Bloc, including Lord Midleton, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Selborne, Lord Salisbury, and others. Support for the bill came chiefly from Lord Curzon (Leader in the Upper House) and Lord Islington (Under Secretary in the India Office).

As a result of this extensive criticism, the bill was revised considerably in the Joint Committee but emerged with its main outlines unchanged and became law in December 1919. These main outlines, especially the two principles of "dyarchy" and "responsibility," were, as we have said, highly charged with Curtis's own connotations. These became fainter as time passed, both because of developments in India and because Curtis from 1919 on became increasingly remote from Indian affairs. The refusal of the Indian National Congress under Gandhi's leadership to cooperate in carrying on the government under the Act of 1919 persuaded the other members of the Group (and perhaps Curtis himself) that it was not possible to apply responsible government on the British model to India. This point of view, which had been stated so emphatically by members of the Cecil Bloc even before 1900, and which formed the chief argument against the Act of 1919 in the debates in the House of Lords, was accepted by the Milner Group as their own after 1919. Halifax, Grigg, Amery, Coupland, Fisher, and others stated this most emphatically from the early 1920s to the middle 1940s. In 1943 Grigg stated this as a principle in his book The British Commonwealth and quoted with approval Amery's statement of 30 March 1943 to the House of Commons, rejecting the British parliamentary system as suitable for India. Amery, at that time Secretary of State for India, had said: "Like wasps buzzing angrily up and down against a window pane when an adjoining window may be wide open, we are all held up, frustrated and irritated by the unrealized and unsuperable barrier of our constitutional prepossessions." Grigg went even further, indeed, so far that we might suspect that he was deprecating the use of parliamentary government in general rather than merely in India. He said:

"It is entirely devoid of flexibility and quite incapable of engendering the essential spirit of compromise in countries where racial and communal divisions present the principal political difficulty. The idea that freedom to be genuine must be accommodated to this pattern is deeply rooted in us, and we must not allow our statesmanship to be imprisoned behind the bars of our own experience. Our insistence in particular on the principle of a common roll of electors voting as one homogeneous electorate has caused reaction in South Africa, rebellion or something much too like it in Kenya, and deadlock in India, because in the different conditions of those countries it must involve the complete and perpetual dominance of a single race or creed."


Unfortunately, as Reginald Coupland has pointed out in his book, India, a Re- statement (1945), all agreed that the British system of government was unsuited to India, but none made any effort to find an indigenous system that would be suitable. The result was that the Milner Group and their associates relaxed in their efforts to prepare Indians to live under a parliamentary system and finally cut India loose without an indigenous system and only partially prepared to manage a parliamentary system.

This decline in enthusiasm for a parliamentary system in India was well under way by 1921. In the two year-interval from 1919 to 1921, the Group continued as the most important British factor in Indian affairs. Curtis was editor of The Round Table in this period and continued to agitate the cause of the Act of 1919. Lord Chelmsford remained a Viceroy in this period. Meston and Hailey were raised to the Viceroy's Executive Council. Sir William Duke became Permanent Under Secretary, and Sir Malcolm Seton became Assistant Under Secretary in the India Office. Sir William Marris was made Home Secretary of the Government of India and Special Reforms Commissioner in charge of setting up the new system. L. F. Rushbrook Williams was given special duty at the Home Department, Government of India, in connection with the reforms. Thus the Milner Group was well placed to put the new law into effect. The effort was largely frustrated by Gandhi's boycott of the elections under the new system. By 1921 the Milner Group had left Indian affairs and shifted its chief interest to other fields. Curtis became one of the chief factors in Irish affairs in 1921; Lord Chelmsford returned home and was raised to a Viscounty in the same year; Meston retired in 1919; Marris became Governor of Assam in 1921; Hailey became Governor of the Punjab in 1924; Duke died in 1924; and Rushbrook Williams became director of the Central Bureau of Information, Government of India, in 1920.

This does not indicate that the Milner Group abandoned all interest in India by 1924 or earlier, but the Group never showed such concentrated interest in the problem of India again. Indeed, the Group never displayed such concentrated interest in any problem either earlier or later, with the single exception of the effort to form the Union of South Africa in 1908-1909.

The decade 1919-1929 was chiefly occupied with efforts to get Gandhi to permit the Indian National Congress to cooperate in the affairs of government, so that its members and other Indians could acquire the necessary experience to allow the progressive realization of self-government. The Congress Party, as we have said, boycotted the elections of 1920 and cooperated in those of 1924 only for the purpose of wrecking them. Nonetheless, the system worked, with the support of moderate groups, and the British extended one right after another in steady succession. Fiscal autonomy was granted to India in 1921, and that country at once adopted a protective tariff, to the considerable injury of British textile manufacturing. The superior Civil Services were opened to Indians in 1924. Indians were admitted to Woolwich and Sandhurst in the same year, and commissions in the Indian Army were made available to them.

The appointment of Baron Irwin of the Milner Group to be Viceroy in 1926 — an appointment in which, according to A. C. Johnson's biography Viscount Halifax (1941), "the influence of Geoffrey Dawson and other members of The Times' editorial staff" may have played a decisive role — was the chief step in the effort to achieve some real progress under the Act of 1919 before that Act came under the critical examination of another Royal Commission, scheduled for 1929. The new Viceroy's statement of policy, made in India, 17 July 1926, was, according to the same source, embraced by The Times in an editorial "which showed in no uncertain terms that Irwin's policy was appreciated and underwritten by Printing House Square."

Unfortunately, in the period 1924-1931 the India Office was not in control of either the Milner Group or Cecil Bloc. For various reasons, of which this would seem to be the most important, coordination between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy and between Britain and the Indian nationalists broke down at the most crucial moments. The Milner Group, chiefly through The Times, participated in this situation in the period 1926-1929 by praising their man, Lord Irwin, and adversely criticizing the Secretary of State, Lord Birkenhead. Relationships between Birkenhead and the Milner (and Cecil) Group had not been cordial for a long time, and there are various indications of feuding from at least 1925. We may recall that in April 1925 a secret, or at least unofficial, "committee" of Milner Group and Cecil Bloc members had nominated Lord Milner for the post of Chancellor of Oxford University. Lord Birkenhead had objected both to the candidate and to the procedure. In regard to the candidate, he would have preferred Asquith. In regard to the procedure, he demanded to know by what authority this "committee" took upon itself the task of naming a chancellor to a university of which he (Lord Birkenhead) had been High Steward since 1922. This protest, as usual when Englishmen of this social level are deeply moved, took the form of a letter to The Times. It received a tart answer in a letter, written in the third person, in which he was informed that this committee had existed before the World War, and that, when it was reconstituted at the end of the war, Mr. F. E. Smith had been invited to be a member of it but had not seen fit even to acknowledge the invitation.
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 2 of 2

The bad relationship between the Milner Group and Lord Birkenhead was not the result of such episodes as this but rather, it would seem, based on a personal antipathy engendered by the character of Lord Birkenhead and especially by his indiscreet and undiplomatic social life and political activity. Nonetheless, Lord Birkenhead was a man of unquestioned vigor and ability and a man of considerable political influence from the day in 1906 when he had won a parliamentary seat for the Conservatives in the face of a great Liberal tidal wave. As a result, he had obtained the post of Secretary of State for India in November 1924 at the same time that Leopold Amery went to the Colonial Office. The episode regarding the Milner candidacy to the Oxford Chancellorship occurred six months later and was practically a direct challenge from Birkenhead to Amery, since at that time the latter was Milner's active political lieutenant and one of the chief movers in the effort to make him Chancellor.

Thus, in the period 1926-1929, the Milner Group held the Viceroy's post but did not hold the post of Secretary of State. The relationship between these two posts was such that good government could not be obtained without close cooperation between them. Such cooperation did not exist in this period. As far as the constitutional development was concerned, this lack of cooperation appeared in a tendency on the part of the Secretary of State to continue to seek a solution of the problem along the road marked by the use of a unilateral British investigatory commission, and a tendency on the part of Irwin (and the Milner Group) to seek a solution along the newer road of cooperative discussion with the Indians. These tendencies did not appear as divergent routes until after the Simon Commission had begun its labors, with the result that accumulating evidence that the latter road would be used left that unilateral commission in an unenviable position.

The Government of India Act of 1919 had provided that an investigation should be made of the functioning of the Act after it had been in effect for ten years. The growing unrest of the Indians and their failure to utilize the opportunities of the Act of 1919 persuaded many Englishmen (including most of the Milner Group) that the promised Statutory Commission should begin its work earlier than anticipated and should direct its efforts rather at finding the basis for a new constitutional system than at examining the obvious failure of the system provided in 1919.

The first official hint that the date of the Statutory Commission would be moved up was given by Birkenhead on 30 March 1927, in combination with some rather "arrogant and patronizing" remarks about Indian politics. The Times, while criticizing Birkenhead for his additional remarks, took up the suggestion regarding the commission and suggested in its turn "that the ideal body would consist of judicially minded men who were able to agree." This is, of course, exactly what was obtained. The authorized biography Viscount Halifax, whence these quotations have been taken, adds at this point: "It is interesting to speculate how far Geoffrey Dawson, the Editor, was again expressing Irwin's thoughts and whether a deliberate ballon d'essai was being put up in favor of Sir John Simon."

The Simon Commission was exactly what The Times had wanted, a body of "judicially minded men who were able to agree." Its chairman was the most expensive lawyer in England, a member of the Cecil Bloc since he was elected to All Souls in 1897, and in addition a member of the two extraordinary clubs already mentioned, Grillion's and The Club. Although he was technically a Liberal, his associations and inclinations were rather on the Conservative side, and it was no surprise in 1931 when he became a National Liberal and occupied one of the most important seats in the Cabinet, the Foreign Office. From this time on, he was closely associated with the policies of the Milner Group and, in view of his personal association with the leaders of the Group in All Souls, may well be regarded as a member of the Group. As chairman of the Statutory Commission, he used his legal talents to the full to draw up a report on which all members of the commission could agree, and it is no small example of his abilities that he was able to get an unanimous agreement on a program which in outline, if not in all its details, was just what the Milner Group wanted.

Of the six other members of the Commission, two were Labourite (Clement Attlee and Vernon Hartshorn). The others were Unionist or Conservative. Viscount Burnham of Eton and Balliol (1884) had been a Unionist supporter of the Cecil Bloc in Commons from 1885 to 1906, and his father had been made baronet and baron by Lord Salisbury. His own title of Viscount came from Lloyd George in 1919.

The fifth member of the Commission, Donald Palmer Howard, Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, had no special claim to fame except that he had been a Unionist M.P. in 1922-1926.

The sixth member, Edward Cecil Cadogan of Eton and Balliol (1904), was the sixth son of Earl Cadogan and thus the older brother of Sir Alexander Cadogan, British delegate to the United Nations. Their father, Earl Cadogan, grandnephew of the first Duke of Wellington, had been Lord Privy Seal in Lord Salisbury's second government and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Salisbury's third government. Edward, who was knighted in 1939, had no special claim to fame except that he was a Unionist M.P. from 1922 to 1935 and was Chairman of the House of Commons under the National Government of 1931-1935.

The seventh member, George R. Lane-Fox (Baron Bingley since 1933) of Eton and New College, was a Unionist M.P. from 1906 to 1931 and Secretary of Mines from 1922 to 1928. He is a brother-in-law and lifelong friend of Lord Halifax, having married the Honourable Mary Wood in 1903.

The most extraordinary fact about the Simon Commission was the lack of qualification possessed by its members. Except for the undoubted advantages of education at Eton and Oxford, the members had no obvious claims to membership on any committee considering Indian affairs. Indeed, not one of the eight members had had any previous contact with this subject. Nevertheless, the commission produced an enormous two-volume report which stands as a monumental source book for the study of Indian problems in this period. When, to the lack of qualifications of its members, we add the fact that the commission was almost completely boycotted by Indians and obtained its chief contact with the natives by listening to their monotonous chants of "Simon, go back," it seems more than a miracle that such a valuable report could have emerged from their investigations. The explanation is to be found in the fact that they received full cooperation from the staff of the Government of India, including members of the Milner Group.

It is clear that by the end of 1928 the Milner Group, as a result of the strong Indian opposition to the Simon Commission, the internal struggle within that commission between Simon and Burnham (because of the latter's refusal to go as far as the former desired in the direction of concessions to the Indians), and their inability to obtain cooperation from the Secretary of State (as revealed in the steady criticism of Birkenhead in The Times), had decided to abandon the commission method of procedure in favor of a round-table method of procedure. It is not surprising that the Round Table Groups should prefer a roundtable method of procedure even in regard to Indian affairs, where many of the participants would have relatively little experience in the typical British procedure of agreement through conference. To the Milner Group, the round-table method was not only preferable in itself but was made absolutely necessary by the widespread Indian criticism of the Simon Commission for its exclusively British personnel. This restriction had been adopted originally on the grounds that only a purely British and purely parliamentary commission could commit Parliament in some degree to acceptance of the recommendations of the commission — at least, this was the defense of the restricted membership made to the Indians by the Viceroy on 8 November 1927. In place of this argument, the Milner Group now advanced a somewhat more typical idea, namely, that only Indian participation on a direct and equal basis could commit Indians to any plans for the future of India. By customary Milner Group reasoning, they decided that the responsibility placed on Indians by making them participate in the formulation of plans would moderate the extremism of their demands and bind them to participate in the execution of these plans after they were enacted into law. This basic idea — that if you have faith in people, they will prove worthy of that faith, or, expressed in somewhat more concrete terms, that if you give dissatisfied people voluntarily more than they expect and, above all, before they really expect to get it, they will not abuse the gift but will be sobered simultaneously by the weight of responsibility and the sweetness of gratitude — was an underlying assumption of the Milner Group's activities from 1901 to the present. Its validity was defended (when proof was demanded) by a historical example — that is, by contrasting the lack of generosity in Britain's treatment of the American Colonies in 1774 with the generosity in her treatment of the Canadian Colonies in 1839. The contrast between the "Intolerable Acts" and the Durham Report was one of the basic ideas at the back of the minds of all the important members of the Milner Group. In many of those minds, however, this assumption was not based on political history at all but had a more profound and largely unconscious basis in the teachings of Christ and the Sermon on the Mount. This was especially true of Lionel Curtis, John Dove, Lord Lothian, and Lord Halifax. Unless this idea is recognized, it is not possible to see the underlying unity behind the actions of the Group toward the Boers in 1901-1910, toward India in 1919 and 1935, and toward Hitler in 1934-1939.

These ideas as a justification of concessions to India are to be found in Milner Group discussions of the Indian problem at all periods, especially just before the Act of 1919. A decade later they were still exerting their influence. They will be found, for example, in The Round Table articles on India in September 1930 and March 1931. The earlier advocated the use of the round-table method but warned that it must be based on complete equality for the Indian members. It continued: "Indians should share equally with Great Britain the responsibility for reaching or failing to reach an agreement as to what the next step in Indian constitutional development should be. It is no longer a question, as we see it, of Great Britain listening to Indian representatives and then deciding for herself what the next Indian constitution should be.... The core of the round table idea is that representative Britons and representative Indians should endeavour to reach an agreement, on the understanding that if they can reach an agreement, each will loyally carry it through to completion, as was the case with Ireland in 1922." As seen by the Milner Group, Britain's responsibility was

"her obligation to help Indians to take maximum responsibility for India's government on their own shoulders, and to insist on their doing so, not only because it is the right thing in itself, but because it is the most certain antidote to the real danger of anarchy which threatens India unless Indians do learn to carry responsibility for government at a very early date There is less risk in going too fast in agreement and cooperation with political India than in going at a more moderate pace without its agreement and cooperation. Indeed, in our view, the most successful foundation for the Round Table Conference would be that Great Britain should ask the Indian delegates to table agreed proposals and then do her utmost to accept them and place on Indian shoulders the responsibility for carrying them into effect."


It is very doubtful if the Milner Group could have substituted the round-table method for the commission method in quite so abrupt a fashion as it did, had not a Labour government come to office early in 1929. As a result, the difficult Lord Birkenhead was replaced as Secretary of State by the much more cooperative Mr. Wedgewood Benn (Viscount Stansgate since 1941). The greater degree of cooperation which the Milner Group received from Benn than from Birkenhead may be explained by the fact that their hopes for India were not far distant from those held in certain circles of the Labour Party. It may also be explained by the fact that Wedgewood Benn was considerably closer, in a social sense, to the Milner Group than was Birkenhead. Benn had been a Liberal M.P. from 1906 to 1927; his brother Sir Ernest Benn, the publisher, had been close to the Milner Group in the Ministry of Munitions in 1916-1917 and in the Ministry of Reconstruction in 1917-1918; and his nephew John, oldest son of Sir Ernest, married the oldest daughter of Maurice Hankey in 1929. Whatever the cause, or combination of causes, Lord Irwin's suggestion that the round-table method be adopted was accepted by the Labour government. The suggestion was made when the Viceroy returned to London in June 1929, months before the Simon Report was drafted and a year before it was published. With this suggestion Lord Irwin combined another, that the government formally announce that its goal for India was "Dominion status." The plan leaked out, probably because the Labour government had to consult with the Liberal Party, on which its majority depended. The Liberals (Lord Reading and Lloyd George) advised against the announcement, but Irwin was instructed to make it on his return to India in October. Lord Birkenhead heard of the plan and wrote a vigorous letter of protest to The Times. When Geoffrey Dawson refused to publish it, it appeared in the Daily Telegraph, thus repeating the experience of Lord Lansdowne's even more famous letter of 1917.

Lord Irwin's announcement of the Round Table Conference and of the goal of Dominion status, made in India on 31 October 1929, brought a storm of protest in England. It was rejected by Lord Reading and Lloyd George for the Liberals and by Lord Birkenhead and Stanley Baldwin for the Conservatives. It is highly unlikely that the Milner Group were much disturbed by this storm. The reason is that the members of the Croup had already decided that "Dominion status" had two meanings — one meaning for Englishmen, and a second, rather different, meaning for Indians. As Lord Irwin wrote in a private memorandum in November 1929:

"To the English conception, Dominion Status now connotes, as indeed the word itself implies, an achieved constitutional position of complete freedom and immunity from interference by His Majesty's Government in London.... The Indian seems generally to mean something different. . . . The underlying element in much of Indian political thought seems to have been the desire that, by free conference between Great Britain and India, a constitution should be fashioned which may contain within itself the seed of full Dominion Status, growing naturally to its full development in accordance with the particular circumstances of India, without the necessity — the implications of which the Indian mind resents — of further periodic enquiries by way of Commission. What is to the Englishman an accomplished process is to the Indian rather a declaration of right, from which future and complete enjoyment of Dominion privilege will spring." (3)


This distinction, without any reference to Lord Irwin (whose memorandum was not published until 1941), was also made in the September 1930 issue of The Round Table. On this basis, for the sake of appeasement of India, the Milner Group was willing to promise India "Dominion status" in the Indian meaning of the expression and allow the English who misunderstood to cool off gradually as they saw that the development was not the one they had feared. Indeed, to the Milner Group, it probably appeared that the greater the rage in Britain, the greater the appeasement in India.

Accordingly, the first session of the Round Table Conference was called for November 1930. It marked an innovation not only because of the status of equality and responsibility which it placed on the Indians, but also because, for the first time, it tried to settle the problem of the Indian States within the same framework as it settled the constitutional problem of British India. This was a revolutionary effort, and its degree of success was very largely due to the preparatory work of Lord Irwin, acting on the advice of Malcolm Hailey.

The Indian States had remained as backward, feudalistic, and absolutist enclaves, within the territorial extent of British India and bound to the British Raj by individual treaties and agreements. As might be expected from the Milner Group, the solution which they proposed was federation. They hoped that devolution in British India would secure a degree of provincial autonomy that would make it possible to bind the provinces and the Indian States within the same federal structure and with similar local autonomy. However, the Group knew that the Indian States could not easily be federated with British India until their systems of government were raised to some approximation of the same level. For this reason, and to win the Princes over to federation, Lord Irwin had a large number of personal consultations with the Princes in 1927 and 1928. At some of these he lectured the Princes on the principles of good government in a fashion which came straight from the basic ideology of the Milner Group. The memorandum which he presented to them, dated 14 June 1927 and published in Johnson's biography, Viscount Halifax, could have been written by the Kindergarten. This can be seen in its definitions of the function of government, its emphasis on the reign of law, its advocacy of devolution, its homily on the duty of princes, its separation of responsibility in government from democracy in government, and its treatment of democracy as an accidental rather than an essential characteristic of good government.

The value of this preparatory work appeared at the first Round Table Conference, where, contrary to all expectations, the Indian Princes accepted federation. The optimism resulting from this agreement was, to a considerable degree, dissipated, however, by the refusal of Gandhi's party to participate in the conference unless India were granted full and immediate Dominion status. Refusal of these terms resulted in an outburst of political activity which made it necessary for Irwin to find jails capable of holding sixty thousand Indian agitators at one time.

The view that the Round Table Conference represented a complete repudiation of the Simon Commission's approach to the Indian problem was assiduously propagated by the Milner Group in order to prevent Indian animosity against the latter from being carried over against the former. But the differences were in detail, since in main outline both reflected the Group's faith in federation, devolution, responsibility, and minority rights. The chief recommendations of the Simon Commission were three in number: (1) to create a federation of British India and the Indian States by using the provinces of the former as federative units with the latter; (2) to modify the central government by making the Legislative Assembly a federal organization but otherwise leave the center unchanged; (3) to end dyarchy in the provinces by making Indians responsible for all provincial activities. It also advocated separation of Burma from India.

These were also the chief conclusions of the various Round Table Conferences and of the government's White Papers of December 1931 (Cmd. 3972) and of March 1933 (Cmd. 4268). The former was presented to Parliament and resulted in a debate and vote of confidence on the government's policy in India as stated in it. The attack was led by Winston Churchill in the Commons and by Lords Lloyd, Salisbury, Midleton, and Sumner in the House of Lords. None of these except Churchill openly attacked the government's policy, the others contenting themselves with advising delay in its execution. The government was defended by Samuel Hoare, John Simon, and Stanley Baldwin in the Commons and by Lords Lothian, Irwin, Zetland, Dufferin, and Hailsham, as well as Archbishop Lang, in the Lords. Lord Lothian, in opening the debate, said that while visiting in India in 1912 he had written an article for an English review saying that the Indian Nationalist movement "was essentially healthy, for it was a movement for political virtue and self-respect," although the Indian Civil Servant with whom he was staying said that Indian Nationalism was sedition. Lord Lothian implied that he had not changed his opinion twenty years later. In the Lower House the question came to a vote, which the government easily carried by 369 to 43. In the majority were Leopold Amery, John J. Astor, John Buchan, Austen Chamberlain, Viscount Cranborne, Samuel Hoare, W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore, Lord Eustace Percy, John Simon, and D. B. Somervell. In the minority were Churchill, George Balfour, and Viscount Wolmer.

Practically the same persons appeared on the same sides in the discussion regarding the White Paper of 1933. This document, which embodied the government's suggestions for a bill on Indian constitutional reform, was defended by various members of the Milner Group outside of Parliament, and anonymously in The Round Table. John Buchan wrote a preface to John Thompson's India: The White Paper (1933), in which he defended the extension of responsible government to India, saying, "We cannot exclude her from sharing in what we ourselves regard as the best." Samuel Hoare defended it in a letter to his constituents at Chelsea. Malcolm Hailey defended it before the Royal Empire Society Summer School at Oxford, in a speech afterwards published in The Asiatic Review. Hailey had resigned as Governor of the United Provinces in India in order to return to England to help the government put through its bill. During the long period required to accomplish this, Samuel Hoare, who as Secretary of State for India was the official government spokesman on the subject, had Hailey constantly with him as his chief adviser and support. It was this support that permitted Hoare, whose knowledge of India was definitely limited, to conduct his astounding campaign for the Act of 1935.

The White Paper of 1933 was presented to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses. It was publicly stated as a natural action on the part of the government that this committee be packed with supporters of the bill. For this reason Churchill, George Balfour, and Lord Wolmer refused to serve on it, although Josiah Wedgwood, a Labour Member who opposed the bill, asked to be put on the committee because it was packed.

The Joint Select Committee, as we have seen, had thirty-two members, of whom at least twelve were from the Cecil Bloc and Milner Group and supported the bill. Four were from the inner circles of the Milner Group. The chief witnesses were Sir Samuel Hoare; who gave testimony for twenty days; Sir Michael O'Dwyer, who gave testimony for four days; and Winston Churchill, who gave testimony for three days. The chief witness was thus Hoare, who answered 5594 questions from the committee. At all times Hoare had Malcolm Hailey at his side for advice. The fashion in which the government conducted the Joint Select Committee aroused a good deal of unfavorable comment. Lord Rankeillour in the House of Lords criticized this, especially the fashion in which Hoare used his position to push his point of view and to influence the evidence which the committee received from other witnesses. He concluded: "This Committee was not a judicial body, and its conclusions are vitiated thereby. You may say that on their merits they have produced a good or a bad Report, but what you cannot say is that the Report is the judicial finding of unbiased or impartial minds." As a result of such complaints, the House of Commons Committee on Privilege investigated the conduct of the Joint Select Committee. It found that Hoare's actions toward witnesses and in regard to documentary evidence could be brought within the scope of the Standing Orders of the House if a distinction were made between judicial committees and non-judicial committees and between witnesses giving facts and giving opinions. These distinctions made it possible to acquit Sir Samuel of any violation of privilege, but aroused such criticism that a Select Committee on Witnesses was formed to examine the rules for dealing with witnesses. In its report, on 4 June 1935, this Select Committee rejected the validity of the distinctions between judicial and non-judicial and between fact and opinion made by the Committee on Privilege, and recommended that the Standing Rules be amended to forbid any tampering with documents that had been received by a committee. The final result was a formal acquittal, but a moral condemnation, of Hoare's actions in regard to the Joint Select Committee on the Government of India.

The report of the Joint Select Committee was accepted by nineteen out of its thirty- two members. Nine voted against it (five Conservative and four Labour Members). A motion to accept the report and ask the government to proceed to draw up a bill based on it was introduced in the House of Lords by the President of the Board of Education, Lord Halifax (Lord Irwin), on 12 December 1934, in a typical Milner Group speech. He said: "As I read it, the whole of our British and Imperial experience shouts at us the warning that representative government without responsibility, once political consciousness has been aroused, is apt to be a source of great weakness and, not impossibly, great danger. We had not learned that lesson, let me remind the House, in the eighteenth century, and we paid very dearly for it. We learned it some sixty years later and, by having learned it, we transformed the face and history of Canada." Lord Salisbury once again advised delay, and attacked the idea that parliamentary government could work in India or indeed had worked anywhere outside the British Commonwealth. Lord Snell, speaking for the Labour opposition, objected to the lack of protection against economic exploitation for the Indian masses, the omission of any promise of Dominion status for India, the weighing of the franchise too heavily on the side of the landlords and too lightly on the side of women or of laborers, the provisions for a second chamber, and the use of indirect election for the first chamber. Lord Lothian answered both speakers, supporting only one criticism, that against indirect election to the central assembly. He made the significant statement that he did not fear to turn India over to the Congress Party of Gandhi because (1) "though I disagree with almost everything that they say in public and most of their political programme, I have a sneaking sympathy with the emotion which lies underneath them . . . the aspiration of young impetuous India anxious to take responsibility on its own shoulders"; and (2) "because I believe that the one political lesson, which has more often been realized in the British Commonwealth of Nations than anywhere else in the world, is that the one corrective of political extremism is to put responsibility upon the extremists, and, by these proposals, that is exactly what we are doing." These are typical Milner Group reasons.

In the debate, Halifax was supported by Archbishop Lang and Lords Zetland, Linlithgow, Midleton, Hardinge of Penshurst, Lytton, and Reading. Lord Salisbury was supported by Lords Phillimore, Rankeillour, Ampthill, and Lloyd. In the division, Salisbury's motion for delay was beaten by 239 to 62. In addition to the lords mentioned, the majority included Lords Dufferin, Linlithgow, Cranbrook, Cobham, Cecil of Chelwood, Goschen, Hampden, Elton, Lugard, Meston, and Wemyss, while the minority included Lords Birkenhead, Westminster, Carnock, Islington, and Leconfield. It is clear that the Milner Group voted completely with the majority, while the Cecil Bloc was split.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 6 February 1935 by Sir Samuel Hoare. As was to be expected, his argument was based on the lessons to be derived from the error of 1774 and the success of 1839 in North America. The government's actions, he declared, were based on "plain, good intentions." He was mildly criticized from the left by Attlee and Sir Herbert Samuel; supported by Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, Sir Edward Grigg, and others; and then subjected to a long-sustained barrage from Winston Churchill. Churchill had already revealed his opinion of the bill over the BBC when he said, on 29 January 1935, that it was "a monstrous monument of sham built by the pygmies." He continued his attack in a similar vein, with the result that almost every government speaker felt the need to caution him that his intemperance was hurting his own cause. From our point of view, his most interesting statement, and one which was not contradicted, said: "I have watched this story from its very unfolding, and what has struck me more than anything else about it has been the amazingly small number of people who have managed to carry matters to their present lamentable pitch. You could almost count them on the fingers of one hand. I have also been struck by the prodigious power which this group of individuals have been able to exert and relay, to use a mechanical term, through the vast machinery of party, of Parliament, and of patronage, both here and in the East. It is tragical that they should have been able to mislead the loyalties and use the assets of the Empire to its own undoing. I compliment them on their skill, and I compliment them also on their disciples. Their chorus is exceedingly well drilled." This statement was answered by Lord Eustace Percy, who quoted Lord Hugh Cecil on "profitable mendacity." This led to an argument, in which both sides appealed to the Speaker. Order was restored when Lord Eustace said of Churchill, "I would never impute to him . . . any intention of making a charge which he did not believe himself."

It is quite clear that Churchill believed his charge and was referring to what we have called the Milner Group, although he would not have known it under that name, nor would he have realized its extreme ramifications. He was merely referring to the extensive influence of that close group of associates which included Hoare, Hailey, Curtis, Lothian, Dawson, Amery, Grigg, and Halifax.

After four days of debate on the second reading, the opposition amendment was rejected by 404-133, and the bill passed to the committee stage. In the majority were Amery, Buchan, Grigg, Hoare, Ormsby-Gore, Simon, Sir Donald Somervell, and Steel- Maitland. The minority consisted of three ill-assorted groups: the followers of Churchill, the leaders of the Labour Party, and a fragment of the Cecil Bloc with a few others.

The Government of India Act of 1935 was the longest bill ever submitted to Parliament, and it underwent the longest debate in history (over forty days in Commons). In general, the government let the opposition talk itself out and then crushed it on each division. In the third reading, Churchill made his final speech in a tone of baneful warning regarding the future of India. He criticized the methods of pressure used by Hoare and said that in ten years' time the Secretary of State would be haunted by what had been done, and it could be said of him,

"God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus.
Why look'st thou so?' With my cross-bow,
I shot the Albatross."


These somber warnings were answered by Leopold Amery, who opened his rejoinder with the words, "Here endeth the last chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah."

In the House of Lords the bill was taken through its various stages by Lord Zetland (who replaced Hoare as Secretary of State for India in June 1935), and the final speech for the government was from Halifax (recently made Secretary of State for War). The Act received the Royal Assent on 1 August 1935.

The Act never went into effect completely, and by 1939 the Milner Group was considering abandoning it in favor of complete self-government for India. The portions of the Act of 1935 dealing with the central government fell to the ground when the refusal of the Princes of the Indian States to accept the Act made a federal solution impossible. The provincial portion began to function in 1937, but with great difficulty because of the extremist agitation from the Congress Party. This party obtained almost half of the seats in the eleven provinces and had a clear majority in six provinces. The provincial governments, started in 1937, worked fairly well, and the emergency powers of the central governments, which continued on the 1919 model, were used only twice in over two years. When the war began, the Congress Party ordered its ministries to resign. Since the Congress Party members in the legislatures would not support non-Congress ministries, the decree powers of the Provincial Governors had to be used in those provinces with a Congress majority. In 1945 six out of the eleven provinces had responsible government.

From 1939 on, constitutional progress in India was blocked by a double stalemate: (1) the refusal of the Congress Party to cooperate in government unless the British abandoned India completely, something which could not be done while the Japanese were invading Burma; and (2) the growing refusal of the Moslem League to cooperate with the Congress Party on any basis except partition of India and complete autonomy for the areas with Moslem majorities. The Milner Group, and the British government generally, by 1940 had given up all hope of any successful settlement except complete self-government for India, but it could not give up to untried hands complete control of defense policy during the war. At the same time, the Milner Group generally supported Moslem demands because of its usual emphasis on minority rights.

During this period the Milner Group remained predominant in Indian affairs, although the Viceroy (Lord Linlithgow) was not a member of the Group. The Secretary of State for India, however, was Leopold Amery for the whole period 1940-1945. A number of efforts were made to reach agreement with the Congress Party, but the completely unrealistic attitude of the party's leaders, especially Gandhi, made this impossible. In 1941, H. V. Hodson, by that time one of the most important members of the Milner Group, was made Reforms Commissioner for India. The following year the most important effort to break the Indian stalemate was made. This was the Cripps Mission, whose chief adviser was Sir Reginald Coupland, another member of the inner circle of the Milner Group. As a result of the failure of this mission and of the refusal of the Indians to believe in the sincerity of the British (a skepticism that was completely without basis), the situation dragged on until after the War. The election of 1945, which drove the Conservative Party from office, also removed the Milner Group from its positions of influence. The subsequent events, including complete freedom for India and the division of the country into two Dominions within the British Commonwealth, were controlled by new hands, but the previous actions of the Milner Group had so committed the situation that these new hands had no possibility (nor, indeed, desire) to turn the Indian problem into new paths. There can be little doubt that with the Milner Group still in control the events of 1945-1948 in respect to India would have differed only in details.

The history of British relations with India in the twentieth century was disastrous. In this history the Milner Group played a major role. To be sure, the materials with which they had to work were intractable and they had inconvenient obstacles at home (like the diehards within the Conservative Party), but these problems were made worse by the misconceptions about India and about human beings held by the Milner Group. The bases on which they built their policy were fine — indeed, too fine. These bases were idealistic, almost Utopian, to a degree which made it impossible for them to grow and function and made it highly likely that forces of ignorance and barbarism would be released, with results exactly contrary to the desires of the Milner Group. On the basis of love of liberty, human rights, minority guarantees, and self- responsibility, the Milner Group took actions that broke down the lines of external authority in Indian society faster than any lines of internal self-discipline were being created. It is said that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. The road to the Indian tragedy of 1947-1948 was also paved with good intentions, and those paving blocks were manufactured and laid down by the Milner Group. The same good intentions contributed largely to the dissolution of the British Empire, the race wars of South Africa, and the unleashing of the horrors of 1939-1945 on the world.

To be sure, in India as elsewhere, the Milner Group ran into bad luck for which they were not responsible. The chief case of this in India was the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which was probably the chief reason for Gandhi's refusal to cooperate in carrying out the constitutional reforms of that same year. But the Milner Group's policies were self-inconsistent and were unrealistic. For example, they continually insisted that the parliamentary system was not fitted to Indian conditions, yet they made no real effort to find a more adaptive political system, and every time they gave India a further dose of self-government, it was always another dose of the parliamentary system. But, clinging to their beliefs, they loaded down this system with special devices which hampered it from functioning as a parliamentary system should. The irony of this whole procedure rests in the fact that the minority of agitators in India who wanted self- government wanted it on the parliamentary pattern and regarded every special device and every statement from Britain that it was not adapted to Indian conditions as an indication of the insincerity in the British desire to grant self-government to India.

A second error arises from the Milner Group's lack of enthusiasm for democracy. Democracy, as a form of government, involves two parts: (1) majority rule and (2) minority rights. Because of the Group's lack of faith in democracy, they held no brief for the first of these but devoted all their efforts toward achieving the second. The result was to make the minority uncompromising, at the same time that they diminished the majority's faith in their own sincerity. In India the result was to make the Moslem League almost completely obstructionist and make the Congress Party almost completely suspicious. The whole policy encouraged extremists and discouraged moderates. This appears at its worst in the systems of communal representation and communal electorates established in India by Britain. The Milner Group knew these were bad, but felt that they were a practical necessity in order to preserve minority rights. In this they were not only wrong, as proved by history, but were sacrificing principle to expediency in a way that can never be permitted by a group whose actions claim to be so largely dictated by principle. To do this weakens the faith of others in the group's principles.

The Group made another error in their constant tendency to accept the outcry of a small minority of Europeanized agitators as the voice of India. The masses of the Indian people were probably in favor of British rule, for very practical reasons. The British gave these masses good government through the Indian Civil Service and other services, but they made little effort to reach them on any human, intellectual, or ideological level. The "color line" was drawn — not between British and Indians but between British and the masses, for the educated upperclass Indians were treated as equals in the majority of cases. The existence of the color line did not bother the masses of the people, but when it hit one of the educated minority, he forgot the more numerous group of cases where it had not been applied to him, became anti-British and began to flood the uneducated masses with a deluge of anti-British propaganda. This could have been avoided to a great extent by training the British Civil Servants to practice racial toleration toward all classes, by increasing the proportion of financial expenditure on elementary education while reducing that on higher education, by using the increased literacy of the masses of the people to impress on them the good they derived from British rule and to remove those grosser superstitions and social customs which justified the color line to so many English. All of these except the last were in accordance with Milner Group ideas. The members of the Group objected to the personal intolerance of the British in India, and regretted the disproportionate share of educational expenditure which went to higher education (see the speech in Parliament of Ormsby-Gore, 11 December 1934), but they continued to educate a small minority, most of whom became anti-British agitators, and left the masses of the people exposed to the agitations of that minority. On principle, the Group would not interfere with the superstitions and grosser social customs of the masses of the people, on the grounds that to do so would be to interfere with religious freedom. Yet Britain had abolished suttee, child marriage, and thuggery, which were also religious in foundation. If the British could have reduced cow-worship, and especially the number of cows, to moderate proportions, they would have conferred on India a blessing greater than the abolition of suttee, child marriage, and thuggery together, would have removed the chief source of animosity between Hindu and Moslem, and would have raised the standard of living of the Indian people to a degree that would have more than paid for a system of elementary education.

If all of these things had been done, the agitation for independence could have been delayed long enough to build up an electorate capable of working a parliamentary system. Then the parliamentary system, which educated Indians wanted, could have been extended to them without the undemocratic devices and animadversions against it which usually accompanied any effort to introduce it on the part of the British.  
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Re: The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Clivede

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Part 1 of 5

Chapter 12: Foreign Policy, 1919-1940

Any effort to write an account of the influence exercised by the Milner Group in foreign affairs in the period between the two World Wars would require a complete rewriting of the history of that period. This cannot be done within the limits of a single chapter, and it will not be attempted. Instead, an effort will be made to point out the chief ideas of the Milner Group in this field, the chief methods by which they were able to make those ideas prevail, and a few significant examples of how these methods worked in practice.

The political power of the Milner Group in the period 1919-1939 grew quite steadily. It can be measured by the number of ministerial portfolios held by members of the Group. In the first period, 1919-1924, they generally held about one-fifth of the Cabinet posts. For example, the Cabinet that resigned in January 1924 had nineteen members; four were of the Milner Group, only one from the inner circle. These four were Leopold Amery, Edward Wood, Samuel Hoare, and Lord Robert Cecil. In addition, in the same period other members of the Group were in the government in one position or another. Among these were Milner, Austen Chamberlain, H. A. L. Fisher, Lord Ernie, Lord Astor, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, and W. G. A. Ormsby-Gore. Also, relatives of these, such as Lord Onslow (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), Captain Lane-Fox (brother-in-law of Lord Halifax), and Lord Greenwood (brother-in-law of Amery), were in the government.

In this period the influence of the Milner Group was exercised in two vitally significant political acts. In the first case, the Milner Group appears to have played an important role behind the scenes in persuading the King to ask Baldwin rather than Curzon to be Prime Minister in 1923. Harold Nicolson, in Curzon: The Last Phase (1934), says that Balfour, Amery, and Walter Long intervened with the King to oppose Curzon, and "the cumulative effect of these representations was to reverse the previous decision." Of the three names mentioned by Nicolson, two were of the Cecil Bloc, while the third was Milner's closest associate. If Amery did intervene, he undoubtedly did so as the representative of Milner, and if Milner opposed Curzon to this extent through Amery, he was in a position to bring other powerful influences to bear on His Majesty through Lord Esher as well as through Brand's brother, Viscount Hampden, a lord-in-waiting to the King, or more directly through Milner's son-in-law, Captain Alexander Hardinge, a private secretary to the King. In any case, Milner exercised a very powerful influence on Baldwin during the period of his first government, and it was on Milner's advice that Baldwin waged the General Election of 1924 on the issue of protection. The election manifesto issued by the party and advocating a tariff was written by Milner in consultation with Arthur Steel-Maitland.

In the period 1924-1929 the Milner Group usually held about a third of the seats in the Cabinet (seven out of twenty-one in the government formed in November 1924). These proportions were also held in the period 1935-1940, with a somewhat smaller ratio in the period 1931-1935. In the Cabinet that was formed in the fall of 1931, the Milner Group exercised a peculiar influence. The Labour Party under Ramsay MacDonald was in office with a minority government from 1929 to September 1931. Toward the end of this period, the Labour government experienced increasing difficulty because the deflationary policy of the Bank of England and the outflow of gold from the country were simultaneously intensifying the depression, increasing unemployment and public discontent, and jeopardizing the gold standard. In fact, the Bank of England's policy made it almost impossible for the Labour Party to govern. Without informing his Cabinet, Ramsay MacDonald entered upon negotiations with Baldwin and King George, as a result of which MacDonald became Prime Minister of a new government, supported by Conservative votes in Parliament. The obvious purpose of this intrigue was to split the Labour Party and place the administration back in Conservative hands.

In this intrigue the Milner Group apparently played an important, if secret, role. That they were in a position to play such a role is clear. We have mentioned the pressure which the bankers were putting on the Labour government in the period 1929-1931. The Milner Group were clearly in a position to influence this pressure. E. R. Peacock (Parkin's old associate) was at the time a director of the Bank of England and a director of Baring Brothers; Robert Brand, Thomas Henry Brand, and Adam Marris (son of Sir William Marris) were all at Lazard and Brothers; Robert Brand was also a director of Lloyd's Bank; Lord Selborne was a director of Lloyd's Bank; Lord Lugard was a director of Barclay's Bank; Major Astor was a director of Hambros Bank; and Lord Goschen was a director of the Westminster Bank.

We have already indicated the ability of the Milner Group to influence the King in respect to the choice of Baldwin as Prime Minister in 1923. By 1931 this power was even greater. Thus the Milner Group was in a position to play a role in the intrigue of 1931. That they may have done so is to be found in the fact that two of the important figures in this intrigue within the Labour Party were ever after closely associated with the Milner Group. These two were Malcolm MacDonald and Godfrey Elton.

Malcolm MacDonald, son and intimate associate of Ramsay MacDonald, clearly played an important role in the intrigue of 1931. He was rewarded with a position in the new government and has never been out of office since. These offices included Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Dominions Office (1931-1935), Secretary of State for the Dominions (1935-1938 and 1938-1939), Secretary of State for the Colonies (1935-and 1938-1940), Minister of Health (1940-1941), United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canada (1941-1946), Governor-General of Malaya and British South- East Asia (since 1946). Since all of these offices but one (Minister of Health) were traditionally in the sphere of the Milner Group, and since Malcolm MacDonald during this period was closely associated with the Group in its other activities, such as Chatham House and the unofficial British Commonwealth relations conferences, Malcolm MacDonald should probably be regarded as a member of the Group from about 1932 onward.

Godfrey Elton (Lord Elton since 1934), of Rugby and Balliol, was a Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, from 1919, as well as lecturer on Modern History at Oxford. In this role Elton came in contact with Malcolm MacDonald, who was an undergraduate at Queen's in the period 1920-1925. Through this connection, Elton ran for Parliament on the Labour Party ticket in 1924 and again in 1929, both times without success. He was more successful in establishing himself as an intellectual leader of the Labour Party, capping this by publishing in 1931 a study of the early days of the party. As a close associate of the MacDonald family, he supported the intrigue of 1931 and played a part in it. For this he was expelled from the party and became honorary political secretary of the new National Labour Committee and editor of its News-Letter (1932-1938). He was made a baron in 1934, was on the Ullswater Committee on the Future of Broadcasting the following year, and in 1939 succeeded Lord Lothian as Secretary to the Rhodes Trustees. By his close association with the MacDonald family, he became the obvious choice to write the "official" life of J. R. (Ramsey) MacDonald, the first volume of which was published in 1939. In 1945 he published a history of the British Empire called Imperial Commonwealth.

After the election of 1935, the Milner Group took a substantial part in the government, with possession of seven places in a Cabinet of twenty-one seats. By the beginning of September of 1939, they had only five out of twenty-three, the decrease being caused, as we shall see, by the attrition within the Group on the question of appeasement. In the War Cabinet formed at the outbreak of the war, they had four out of nine seats. In this whole period from 1935 to 1940, the following members of the Group were associated with the government as officers of state: Halifax, Simon, Malcolm MacDonald, Zetland, Ormsby- Gore, Hoare, Somervell, Lothian, Hankey, Grigg, Salter, and Amery.

It would appear that the Milner Group increased its influence on the government until about 1938. We have already indicated the great power which they exercised in the period 1915-1919. This influence, while great, was neither decisive nor preponderant. At the time, the Milner Group was sharing influence with at least two other groups and was, perhaps, the least powerful of the three. It surely was less powerful than the Cecil Bloc, even as late as 1929, and was less powerful, perhaps, than the rather isolated figure of Lloyd George as late as 1922. These relative degrees of power on the whole do not amount to very much, because the three that we have mentioned generally agreed on policy. When they disagreed, the views of the Milner Group did not usually prevail. There were two reasons for this. Both the Cecil Bloc and Lloyd George were susceptible to pressure from the British electorate and from the allies of Britain. The Milner Group, as a non-elected group, could afford to be disdainful of the British electorate and of French opinion, but the persons actually responsible for the government, like Lloyd George, Balfour, and others, could not be so casual. As a consequence, the Milner Group were bitterly disappointed over the peace treaty with Germany and over the Covenant of the League of Nations. This may seem impossible when we realize how much the Group contributed to both of these. For they did contribute a great deal, chiefly because of the fact that the responsible statesmen generally accepted the opinion of the experts on the terms of the treaty, especially the territorial terms. There is only one case where the delegates overruled a committee of experts that was unanimous, and that was the case of the Polish Corridor, where the experts were more severe with Germany than the final agreement. The experts, thus, were of very great importance, and among the experts the Milner Group had an important place, as we have seen. It would thus seem that the Milner Group's disappointment with the peace settlement was largely criticism of their own handiwork. To a considerable extent this is true. The explanation lies in the fact that much of what they did as experts was done on instructions from the responsible delegates and the fact that the Group ever after had a tendency to focus their eyes on the few blemishes of the settlement, to the complete neglect of the much larger body of acceptable decisions. Except for this, the Group could have no justification for their dissatisfaction except as self-criticism. When the original draft of the Treaty of Versailles was presented to the Germans on 7 May 1919, the defeated delegates were aghast at its severity. They drew up a detailed criticism of 443 pages. The answer to this protest, making a few minor changes in the treaty but allowing the major provisions to stand, was drafted by an inter-allied committee of five, of which Philip Kerr was the British member. The changes that were made as concessions to the Germans were made under pressure from Lloyd George, who was himself under pressure from the Milner Group. This appears clearly from the minutes of the Council of Four at the Peace Conference. The first organized drive to revise the draft of the treaty in the direction of leniency was made by Lloyd George at a meeting of the Council of Four on 2 June 1919. The Prime Minister said he had been consulting with his delegation and with the Cabinet. He specifically mentioned George Barnes ("the only Labour representative in his Cabinet"), the South African delegation (who"were also refusing to sign the present Treaty"), Mr. Fisher ("whose views carried great weight"), Austen Chamberlain, Lord Robert Cecil, and both the Archbishops. Except for Barnes and the Archbishops, all of these were close to the Milner Group. The reference to H. A. L. Fisher is especially significant, for Fisher's views could "carry great weight" only insofar as he was a member of the Milner Group. The reference to the South African delegation meant Smuts, for Botha was prepared to sign, no matter what he felt about the treaty, in order to win for his country official recognition as a Dominion of equal status with Britain. Smuts, on the other hand, refused to sign from the beginning and, as late as 23 June 1919, reiterated his refusal (according to Mrs. Millen's biography of Smuts).

Lloyd George's objections to the treaty as presented in the Council of Four on 2 June were those which soon became the trademark of the Milner Group. In addition to criticisms of the territorial clauses on the Polish frontier and a demand for a plebiscite in Upper Silesia, the chief objections were aimed at reparations and the occupation of the Rhineland. On the former point, Lloyd George's advisers"thought that more had been asked for than Germany could pay." On the latter point, which "was the main British concern," his advisers were insistent. "They urged that when the German Army was reduced to a strength of 100,000 men it was ridiculous to maintain an army of occupation of 200,000 men on the Rhine. They represented that it was only a method of quartering the French Army on Germany and making Germany pay the cost. It had been pointed out that Germany would not constitute a danger to France for 30 years or even 50 years; certainly not in 15 years.... The advice of the British military authorities was that two years was the utmost limit of time for the occupation." To these complaints, Clemenceau had replied that "in England the view seemed to prevail that the easiest way to finish the war was by making concessions. In France the contrary view was held that it was best to act firmly. The French people, unfortunately, knew the Germans very intimately, and they believed that the more concessions we made, the more the Germans would demand.... He recognized that Germany was not an immediate menace to France. But Germany would sign the Treaty with every intention of not carrying it out. Evasions would be made first on one point and then on another. The whole Treaty would go by the board if there were not some guarantees such as were provided by the occupation." (1)

Under such circumstances as these, it seems rather graceless for the Milner Group to have started at once, as it did, a campaign of recrimination against the treaty. Philip Kerr was from 1905 to his death in 1940 at the very center of the Milner Group. His violent Germanophobia in 1908-1918, and his evident familiarity with the character of the Germans and with the kind of treaty which they would have imposed on Britain had the roles been reversed, should have made the Treaty of Versailles very acceptable to him and his companions, or, if not, unacceptable on grounds of excessive leniency. Instead, Kerr, Brand, Curtis, and the whole inner core of the Milner Group began a campaign to undermine the treaty, the League of Nations, and the whole peace settlement. Those who are familiar with the activities of the "Cliveden Set" in the 1930s have generally felt that the appeasement policy associated with that group was a manifestation of the period after 1934 only. This is quite mistaken. The Milner Group, which was the reality behind the phantom-like Cliveden Set, began their program of appeasement and revision of the settlement as early as 1919. Why did they do this?

To answer this question, we must fall back on the statements of the members of the Group, general impressions of their psychological outlook, and even a certain amount of conjecture. The best statement of what the Group found objectionable in the peace of 1919 will be found in a brilliant book of Zimmern's called Europe in Convalescence (1922). More concrete criticism, especially in regard to the Covenant of the League, will be found in The Round Table. And the general mental outlook of the Group in 1919 will be found in Harold Nicolson's famous book Peace-Making. Nicolson, although on close personal relationships with most of the inner core of the Milner Group, was not a member of the Group himself, but his psychology in 1918-1920 was similar to that of the members of the inner core.

In general, the members of this inner core took the propagandist slogans of 1914-1918 as a truthful picture of the situation. I have indicated how the Group had worked out a theory of history that saw the whole past in terms of a long struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of righteousness. The latter they defined at various times as "the rule of law" (a la Dicey), as "the subordination of each to the welfare of all," as "democracy," etc. They accepted Wilson's identification of his war aims with his war slogans ("a world safe for democracy," "a war to end wars," "a war to end Prussianism," "self- determination," etc.) as meaning what they meant by "the rule of law." They accepted his Fourteen Points (except "freedom of the seas") as implementation of these aims. Moreover, the Milner Group, and apparently Wilson, made an assumption which had a valid basis but which could be very dangerous if carried out carelessly. This was the assumption that the Germans were divided into two groups, "Prussian autocrats" and "good Germans." They assumed that, if the former group were removed from positions of power and influence, and magnanimous concessions were made to the latter, Germany could be won over on a permanent basis from "Asiatic despotism" to "Western civilization." In its main outlines, the thesis was valid. But difficulties were numerous.

In the first place, it is not possible to distinguish between "good" Germans and "bad" Germans by any objective criterion. The distinction certainly could not be based on who was in public office in 1914-1918. In fact, the overwhelming mass of Germans — almost all the middle classes, except a few intellectuals and very religious persons; a considerable portion of the aristocratic class (at least half); and certain segments of the working class (about one-fifth) — were "bad" Germans in the sense in which the Milner Group used that expression. In their saner moments, the Group knew this. In December 1918, Curtis wrote in The Round Table on this subject as follows: "No one class, but the nation itself was involved in the sin. There were Socialists who licked their lips over Brest-Litovsk. All but a mere remnant, and those largely in prison or exile, accepted or justified the creed of despotism so long as it promised them the mastery of the world. The German People consented to be slaves in their own house as the price of enslaving mankind." If these words had been printed and posted on the walls of All Souls, of Chatham House, of New College, of The Times office in Printing House Square, and of The Round Table office at 175 Piccadilly, there need never have been a Second World War with Germany. But these words were not remembered by the Group. Instead, they assumed that the "bad" Germans were the small group that was removed from office in 1918 with the Kaiser. They did not see that the Kaiser was merely a kind of facade for four other groups: The Prussian Officers' Corps, the Junker landlords, the governmental bureaucracy (especially the administrators of police and justice), and the great industrialists. They did not see that these four had been able to save themselves in 1918 by jettisoning the Kaiser, who had become a liability. They did not see that these four were left in their positions of influence, with their power practically intact — indeed, in many ways with their power greater than ever, since the new "democratic" politicians like Ebert, Scheidemann, and Noske were much more subservient to the four groups than the old imperial authorities had ever been. General Groner gave orders to Ebert over his direct telephone line from Kassel in a tone and with a directness that he would never have used to an imperial chancellor. In a word, there was no revolution in Germany in 1918. The Milner Group did not see this, because they did not want to see it. Not that they were not warned. Brigadier General John H. Morgan, who was almost a member of the Group and who was on the Inter- allied Military Commission of Control in Germany in 1919- 1923, persistently warned the government and the Group of the continued existence and growing power of the German Officers' Corps and of the unreformed character of the German people. As a graduate of Balliol and the University of Berlin (1897-1905), a leader-writer on The Manchester Guardian (1904-1905), a Liberal candidate for Parliament with Amery in 1910, an assistant adjutant general with the military section of the British delegation to the Peace Conference of 1919, the British member on the Prisoners of War Commission (1919), legal editor of The Encyclopedia Britannica (14th edition), contributor to The Times, reader in constitutional law to the Inns of Court (1926- 1936), Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of London, Rhodes Lecturer at London (1927-1932), counsel to the Indian Chamber of Princes (1934-1937), counsel to the Indian State of Gwalior, Tagore Professor at Calcutta (1939) — as all of these things, and thus close to many members of the Group, General Morgan issued warnings about Germany that should have been heeded by the Group. They were not. No more attention was paid to them than was paid to the somewhat similar warnings coming from Professor Zimmern. And the general, with less courage than the professor, or perhaps with more of that peculiar group loyalty which pervades his social class in England, kept his warnings secret and private for years. Only in October 1924 did he come out in public with an article in the Quarterly Review on the subject, and only in 1945 did he find a wider platform in a published book (Assize of Arms), but in neither did he name the persons who were suppressing the warnings in his official reports from the Military Commission.

In a similar fashion, the Milner Group knew that the industrialists, the Junkers, the police, and the judges were cooperating with the reactionaries to suppress all democratic and enlightened elements in Germany and to help all the forces of "despotism" and "sin" (to use Curtis's words). The Group refused to recognize these facts. For this, there were two reasons. One, for which Brand was chiefly responsible, was based on certain economic assumptions. Among these, the chief was the belief that "disorder" and social unrest could be avoided only if prosperity were restored to Germany as soon as possible. By "disorder," Brand meant such activities as were associated with Trotsky in Russia, Bela Kun in Hungary, and the Spartacists or Kurt Eisner in Germany. To Brand, as an orthodox international banker, prosperity could be obtained only by an economic system under the control of the old established industrialists and bankers. This is perfectly clear from Brand's articles in The Round Table, reprinted in his book, War and National Finance (1921). Moreover, Brand felt confident that the old economic groups could reestablish prosperity quickly only if they were given concessions in respect to Germany's international financial position by lightening the weight of reparations on Germany and by advancing credit to Germany, chiefly from the United States. This point of view was not Brand's alone. It dominated the minds of all international bankers from Thomas Lamont to Montague Norman and from 1918 to at least 1931. The importance of Brand, from out point of view, lies in the fact that, as "the economic expert" of the Milner Group and one of the leaders of the Group, he brought this point of view into the Group and was able to direct the great influence of the Group in this direction. (2)

Blindness to the real situation in Germany was also encouraged from another point of view. This was associated with Philip Kerr. Roughly, this point of view advocated a British foreign policy based on the old balance-of-power system. Under that old system, which Britain had followed since 1500, Britain should support the second strongest power on the Continent against the strongest power, to prevent the latter from obtaining supremacy on the Continent. For one brief moment in 1918, the Group toyed with the idea of abandoning this traditional policy; for one brief moment they felt that if Europe were given self-determination and parliamentary governments, Britain could permit some kind of federated or at least cooperative Europe without danger to Britain. The moment soon passed. The League of Nations, which had been regarded by the Group as the seed whence a united Europe might grow, became nothing more than a propaganda machine, as soon as the Group resumed its belief in the balance of power. Curtis, who in December 1918 wrote in The Round Table: "That the balance of power has outlived its time by a century and that the world has remained a prey to wars, was due to the unnatural alienation of the British and American Commonwealths" — Curtis, who wrote this in 1918, four years later (9 January 1923) vigorously defended the idea of balance of power against the criticism of Professor A. F. Pollard at a meeting of the RIIA.

This change in point of view was based on several factors. In the first place, the Group, by their practical experience at Paris in 1919, found that it was not possible to apply either self-determination or the parliamentary form of government to Europe. As a result of this experience, they listened with more respect to the Cecil Bloc, which always insisted that these, especially the latter, were intimately associated with the British outlook, way of life, and social traditions, and were not articles of export. This issue was always the chief bone of contention between the Group and the Bloc in regard to India. In India, where their own influence as pedagogues was important, the Group did not accept the Bloc's arguments completely, but in Europe, where the Group's influence was remote and indirect, the Group was more receptive.

In the second place, the Croup at Paris became alienated from the French because of the latter's insistence on force as the chief basis of social and political life, especially the French insistence on a permanent mobilization of force to keep Germany down and on an international police force with autonomous power as a part of the League of Nations. The Group, although they frequently quoted Admiral Mahan's kind words about force in social life, did not really like force and shrank from its use, believing, as might be expected from their Christian background, that force could not avail against moral issues, that force corrupts those who use it, and that the real basis of social and political life w as custom and tradition. At Paris the Group found that they were living in a different world from the French. They suddenly saw not only that they did not have the same outlook as their former allies, but that these allies embraced the "despotic" and "militaristic" outlook against which the late war had been waged. At once, the Group began to think that the influence which they had been mobilizing against Prussian despotism since 1907 could best be mobilized, now that Prussianism was dead, against French militarism and Bolshevism. And what better ally against these two enemies in the West and the East shall the newly baptized Germany? Thus, almost without realizing it, the Group fell back into the old balance-of-power pattern. Their aim became the double one of keeping Germany in the fold of redeemed sinners by concessions, and of using this revived and purified Germany against Russia and France. (3)

In the third place, the Group in 1918 had been willing to toy with the idea of an integrated Europe because, in 1918, they believed that a permanent system of cooperation between Britain and the United States was a possible outcome of the war. This was the lifelong dream of Rhodes, of Milner, of Lothian, of Curtis. For that they would have sacrificed anything within reason. When it became clear in 1920 that the United States had no intention of underwriting Britain and instead would revert to her prewar isolationism, the bitterness of disappointment in the Milner Group were beyond bounds. Forever after, they blamed the evils of Europe, the double-dealing of British policy, and the whole train of errors from 1919 to 1940 on the American reversion to isolationism. It should be clearly understood that by American reversion to isolationism the Milner Croup did not mean the American rejection of the League of Nations. Frequently they said that they did mean this, that the disaster of 1939-1940 became inevitable when the Senate rejected the League of Nations in 1920. This is completely untrue, both as a statement of historical fact and as a statement of the Group's attitude toward that rejection at the time. As we shall see in a moment, the Group approved of the Senate's rejection of the League of Nations, because the reasons for that rejection agreed completely with the Group's own opinion about the League. The only change in the Group's opinion, as a result of the Senate's rejection of the League, occurred in respect to the Group's opinion regarding the League itself. Previously they had disliked the League; now they hated it — except as a propaganda agency. The proofs of these statements will appear in a moment.

The change in the Group's attitude toward Germany began even before the war ended. We have indicated how the Group rallied to give a public testimonial of faith in Lord Milner in October 1918, when he became the target of public criticism because of what was regarded by the public as a conciliatory speech toward Germany. The Group objected violently to the anti-German tone in which Lloyd George conducted his electoral campaign in the "khaki election' of December 1918. The Round Table in March 1919 spoke of Lloyd George and "the odious character of his election campaign." Zimmern, after a devastating criticism of Lloyd George's conduct in the election, wrote: "He erred, not, like the English people, out of ignorance but deliberately, out of cowardice and lack of faith." In the preface to the same volume (Europe in Convalescence) he wrote: "Since December, 1918, when we elected a Parliament pledged to violate a solemn agreement made but five weeks earlier, we stand shamed, dishonoured, and, above all, distrusted before mankind." The agreement to which Zimmern referred was the so-called Pre-Armistice Agreement of 5 November 1918, made with the Germans, by which, if they accepted an armistice, the Allies agreed to make peace on the basis of the Fourteen Points. It was the thesis of the Milner Group that the election of 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles as finally signed violated this Pre- Armistice Agreement. As a result, the Group at once embarked on its campaign for revision of the treaty, a campaign whose first aim, apparently, was to create a guilty conscience in regard to the treaty in Britain and the United States. Zimmern's book, Brand's book of the previous year, and all the articles of The Round Table were but ammunition in this campaign. However, Zimmern had no illusions about the Germans, and his attack on the treaty was based solely on the need to redeem British honor. As soon as it became clear to him that the Group was going beyond this motive and was trying to give concessions to the Germans without any attempt to purge Germany of its vicious elements and without any guarantee that those concessions would not be used against everything the Group held dear, he left the inner circle of the Group and moved to the second circle. He was not convinced that Germany could be redeemed by concessions made blindly to Germany as a whole, or that Germany should be built up against France and Russia. He made his position clear in a brilliant and courageous speech at Oxford in May 1925, a speech in which he denounced the steady sabotage of the League of Nations. It is not an accident that the most intelligent member of the Group was the first member to break publicly with the policy of appeasement.

The Milner Group thus regarded the Treaty of Versailles as too severe, as purely temporary, and as subject to revision almost at once. When The Round Table examined the treaty in its issue of June 1919, it said, in substance: "The punishment of Germany was just, for no one can believe in any sudden change of heart in that country, but the treaty is too severe. The spirit of the Pre- Armistice Commitments was violated, and, in detail after detail, Germany was treated unjustly, although there is broad justice in the settlement as a whole. Specifically the reparations are too severe, and Germany's neighbors should have been forced to disarm also, as promised in Wilson's Fourth Point. No demand should have been made for William II as a war criminal. If he is a menace, he should be put on an island without trial, like Napoleon. Our policy must be magnanimous, for our war was with the German government, not with the German people." Even earlier, in December 1918, The Round Table said: "It would seem desirable that the treaties should not be long term, still less perpetual, instruments. Perpetual treaties are indeed a lien upon national sovereignty and a standing contradiction of the principle of the democratic control of foreign policy. ... It would establish a salutary precedent if the network of treaties signed as a result of the war were valid for a period of ten years only." In March 1920, The Round Table said: "Like the Peace Conference, the Covenant of the League of Nations aimed too high and too far. Six months ago we looked to it to furnish the means for peaceful revision of the terms of the peace, where revision might be required. Now we have to realize that national sentiment sets closer limits to international action than we were willing then to recognize." The same article then goes on to speak of the rejection of the treaty by the United States Senate. It defends this action and criticizes Wilson severely, saying: "The truth of the matter is that the American Senate has expressed the real sentiment of all nations with hard-headed truthfulness.... The Senate has put into words what has already been demonstrated in Europe by the logic of events — namely that the Peace of Versailles attempted too much, and the Covenant which guarantees it implies a capacity for united action between the Allies which the facts do not warrant. The whole Treaty was, in fact, framed to meet the same impractical desire which we have already noted in the reparation terms — the desire to mete out ideal justice and to build an ideal world."

Nowhere is the whole point of view of the Milner Group better stated than in a speech of General Smuts to the South African Luncheon Club in London, 23 October 1923. After violent criticism of the reparations as too large and an attack on the French efforts to enforce these clauses, he called for a meeting "of principals" to settle the problem. He then pointed out that a continuation of existing methods would lead to the danger of German disintegration, "a first-class and irreparable disaster.... It would mean immediate economic chaos, and it would open up the possibility of future political dangers to which I need not here refer. Germany is both economically and politically necessary to Central Europe." He advocated applying to Germany "the benevolent policy which this country adopted toward France after the Napoleonic War.... And if, as I hope she will do, Germany makes a last appeal ... I trust this great Empire will not hesitate for a moment to respond to that appeal and to use all its diplomatic power and influence to support her, and to prevent a calamity which would be infinitely more dangerous to Europe and the world than was the downfall of Russia six or seven years ago." Having thus lined Britain up in diplomatic opposition to France, Smuts continued with advice against applying generosity to the latter country on the question of French war debts, warning that this would only encourage "French militarism."

"Do not let us from mistaken motives of generosity lend our aid to the further militarization of the European continent. People here are already beginning to be seriously alarmed about French armaments on land and in the air. In addition to these armaments, the French government have also lent large sums to the smaller European States around Germany, mainly with a view to feeding their ravenous military appetites. There is a serious danger lest a policy of excessive generosity on our part, or on the part of America, may simply have the effect of enabling France still more effectively to subsidize and foster militarism on the Continent.... If things continue on the present lines, this country may soon have to start rearming herself in sheer self-defence."


This speech of Smuts covers so adequately the point of view of the Milner Group in the early period of appeasement that no further quotations are necessary. No real change occurred in the point of view of the Group from 1920 to 1938, not even as a result of the death of democratic hopes in Germany at the hands of the Nazis. From Smuts's speech of October 1923 before the South African Luncheon Club to Smuts's speech of November 1934 before the RIIA, much water flowed in the river of international affairs, but the ideas of the Milner Group remained rigid and, it may be added, erroneous. Just as the speech of 1923 may be taken as the culmination of the revisionist sentiment of the Group in the first five years of peace, so the speech of 1934 may be taken as the initiation of the appeasement sentiment of the Group in the last five years of peace. The speeches could almost be interchanged. We may call one revisionist and the other appeasing, but the point of view, the purpose, the method is the same. These speeches will be mentioned again later.

The aim of the Milner Group through the period from 1920 to 1938 was the same: to maintain the balance of power in Europe by building up Germany against France and Russia; to increase Britain's weight in that balance by aligning with her the Dominions and the United States; to refuse any commitments (especially any commitments through the League of Nations, and above all any commitments to aid France) beyond those existing in 1919; to keep British freedom of action; to drive Germany eastward against Russia if either or both of these two powers became a threat to the peace of Western Europe.

The sabotage of the peace settlement by the Milner Group can be seen best in respect to reparations and the League of Nations. In regard to the former, their argument appeared on two fronts: in the first place, the reparations were too large because they were a dishonorable violation of the Pre-Armistice Agreement; and, in the second place, any demand for immediate or heavy payments in reparation would ruin Germany's international credit and her domestic economic system, to the jeopardy of all reparation payments immediately and of all social order in Central Europe in the long run.

The argument against reparations as a violation of the Pre- Armistice Agreement can be found in the volumes of Zimmern and Brand already mentioned. Both concentrated their objections on the inclusion of pension payments by the victors to their own soldiers in the total reparation bill given to the Germans. This was, of course, an obvious violation of the Pre-Armistice Agreement, which bound the Germans to pay only for damage to civilian property. Strangely enough, it was a member of the Group, Jan Smuts, who was responsible for the inclusion of the objectionable items, although he put them in not as a member of the Group, but as a South African politician. This fact alone should have prevented him from making his speech of October 1923. However, love of consistency has never prevented Smuts from making a speech.

From 1921 onward, the Milner Group and the British government (if the two policies are distinguishable) did all they could to lighten the reparations burden on Germany and to prevent France from using force to collect reparations. The influence of the Milner Group on the government in this field may perhaps be indicated by the identity of the two policies. It might also be pointed out that a member of the Group, Arthur (now Sir Arthur) Salter, was general secretary of the Reparations Commission from 1920 to 1922. Brand was financial adviser to the chairman of the Supreme Economic Council (Lord Robert Cecil) in 1919; he was vice-president of the Brussels Conference of 1920; and he was the financial representative of South Africa at the Genoa Conference of 1922 (named by Smuts). He was also a member of the International Committee of Experts on the Stabilization of the German Mark in 1922. Hankey was British secretary at the Genoa Conference of 1922 and at the London Reparations Conference of 1924. He was general secretary of the Hague Conference of 1929-1930 (which worked out the detailed application of the Young Plan) and of the Lausanne Conference (which ended reparations).

On the two great plans to settle the reparations problem, the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young Plan of 1929, the chief influence was that of J. P. Morgan and Company, but the Milner Group had half of the British delegation on the former committee. The British members of the Dawes Committee were two in number: Sir Robert Molesworth (now Lord) Kindersley, and Sir Josiah (later Lord) Stamp. The former was chairman of the board of directors of Lazard Brothers and Company. Of this firm, Brand was a partner and managing director for many years. The instigation for the formation of this committee came chiefly from the parliamentary agitations of H. A. L. Fisher and John Simon in the early months of 1923.

The Milner Group was outraged at the efforts of France to compel Germany to pay reparations. Indeed, they were outraged at the whole policy of France: reparations, the French alliances in Eastern Europe, the disarmament of Germany, French "militarism," the French desire for an alliance with Britain, and the French desire for a long-term occupation of the Rhineland. These six things were listed in The Round Table of March 1922 as "the Poincare system." The journal then continued: "The Poincare system, indeed, is hopeless. It leads inevitably to fresh war, for it is incredible that a powerful and spirited people like the Germans will be content to remain forever meekly obeying every flourish of Marshal Foch's sword." Earlier, the reader was informed: "The system is impracticable. It assumes that the interests of Poland and the Little Entente are the same as those of France.... It forgets that the peoples of Europe cannot balance their budgets and recover prosperity unless they cut down their expenditures on armaments to a minimum.... It ignores the certainty that British opinion can no more tolerate a French military hegemony over Europe than it could a German or Napoleonic, with its menace to freedom and democracy everywhere."

When the French, in January 1923, occupied the Ruhr in an effort to force Germany to pay reparations, the rage of the Milner Group almost broke its bounds. In private, and in the anonymity of The Round Table, they threatened economic and diplomatic retaliation, although in public speeches, such as in Parliament, they were more cautious. However, even in public Fisher, Simon, and Smuts permitted their real feelings to become visible.

In the March 1923 issue The Round Table suggested that the reparations crisis and the Ruhr stalemate could be met by the appointment of a committee of experts (including Americans) to report on Germany's capacity to pay reparations. It announced that H. A. L. Fisher would move an amendment to the address to this effect in Parliament. This amendment was moved by Fisher on 19 February 1923, before The Round Table in question appeared, in the following terms:

"That this House do humbly represent to your Majesty that, inasmuch as the future peace of Europe cannot be safeguarded nor the recovery of reparations be promoted by the operations of the French and Belgian Governments in the Ruhr, it is urgently necessary to seek effective securities against aggression by international guarantees under the League of Nations, and to invite the Council of the League without delay to appoint a Commission of Experts to report upon the capacity of Germany to pay reparations and upon the best method of effecting such payments, and that, in view of the recent indication of willingness on the part of the Government of the United States of America to participate in a Conference to this end, the British representatives on the Council of the League should be instructed to urge that an invitation be extended to the American government to appoint experts to serve upon the Commission."


This motion had, of course, no chance whatever of passing, and Fisher had no expectation that it would. It was merely a propaganda device. Two statements in it are noteworthy. One was the emphasis on American participation, which was to be expected from the Milner Group. But more important than this was the thinly veiled threat to France contained in the words "it is urgently necessary to seek effective securities against aggression by international guarantees." This clause referred to French aggression and was the seed from which emerged, three years later, the Locarno Pacts. There were also some significant phrases, or slips of the tongue, in the speech which Fisher made in support of his motion. For example, he used the word "we" in a way that apparently referred to the Milner Group; and he spoke of "liquidation of the penal clauses of the Treaty of Versailles" as if that were the purpose of the committee he was seeking. He said: "We are anxious to get the amount of the reparation payment settled by an impartial tribunal. We propose that it should be remitted to the League of Nations.... But I admit that I have always had a considerable hesitation in asking the League of Nations to undertake the liquidation of the penal clauses of the Treaty of Versailles.... It is an integral part of this Amendment that the Americans should be brought in." Lord Robert Cecil objected to the amendment on the ground that its passage would constitute a censure of the government and force it to resign. John Simon then spoke in support of the motion. He said that France would never agree to any reparations figure, because she did not want the reparations clauses fulfilled, since that would make necessary the evacuation of the Rhineland. France went into the Ruhr, he said, not to collect reparations, but to cripple Germany; France was spending immense sums of money on military occupation and armaments but still was failing to pay either the principal or interest on her debt to Britain.

When put to a vote, the motion was defeated, 305 to 196. In the majority were Ormsby-Gore, Edward Wood, Amery, three Cecils (Robert, Evelyn, and Hugh), two Astors (John and Nancy), Samuel Hoare, Eustace Percy, and Lord Wolmer. In the minority were Fisher, Simon, and Arthur Salter.

By March, Fisher and Simon were more threatening to France. On the sixth of that month, Fisher said in the House of Commons: "I can only suggest this, that the Government make it clear to France, Germany, and the whole world that they regard this present issue between France and Germany, not as an issue affecting two nations, but as an issue affecting the peace and prosperity of the whole world. We should keep before ourselves steadily the idea of an international solution. We should work for it with all our power, and we should make it clear to France that an attempt to effect a separate solution of this question could not be considered otherwise than as an unfriendly act." Exactly a week later, John Simon, in a parliamentary maneuver, made a motion to cut the appropriation bill for the Foreign Office by £100 and seized the opportunity to make a violent attack on the actions of France. He was answered by Eustace Percy, who in turn was answered by Fisher.

In this way the Group tried to keep the issue before the minds of the British public and to prepare the way for the Dawes settlement. The Round Table, appealing to a somewhat different public, kept up a similar barrage. In the June 1923 issue, and again in September, it condemned the occupation of the Ruhr. In the former it suggested a three- part program as follows: (1) find out what Germany can pay, by an expert committee's investigation; (2) leave Germany free to work and produce, by an immediate evacuation of the Rhineland; and (3) protect France and Germany from each other [another hint about the future Locarno Pacts]. This program, according to The Round Table, should be imposed on France with the threat that if France did not accept it, Britain would withdraw from the Rhineland and Reparations Commissions and formally terminate the Entente. It concluded: "The Round Table has not hesitated in recent months to suggest that [British] neutrality . . . was an attitude inconsistent either with the honour or the interests of the British Commonwealth." The Round Table even went so far as to say that the inflation in Germany was caused by the burden of reparations. In the September 1923 issue it said (probably by the pen of Brand): "In the last two years it is not inflation which has brought down the mark; the printing presses have been engaged in a vain attempt to follow the depreciation of the currency. That depreciation has been a direct consequence of the world's judgment that the Allied claims for reparation were incapable of being met. It will continue until that judgment, or in other words, those claims are revised."
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