extracted from 'The Anglo-American Establishment' 1949 - by Carroll Quigley

from YamaguchyIncorporatedYarmulkaInc Website


Preface

The Rhodes Scholarships, established by the terms of Cecil Rhodes’s seventh will, are known to everyone. What is not so widely known is that Rhodes in five previous wills left his fortune to form a secret society, which was to devote itself to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire. And what does not seem to be known to anyone is that this secret society was created by Rhodes and his principal trustee, Lord Milner, and continues to exist to this day.

 

To be sure, this secret society is not a childish thing like the Ku Klux Klan, and it does not have any secret robes, secret handclasps, or secret passwords. It does not need any of these, since its members know each other intimately. It probably has no oaths of secrecy nor any formal procedure of initiation. It does, however, exist and holds secret meetings, over which the senior member present presides.

 

At various times since 1891, these meetings have been presided over by:

  • Rhodes

  • Lord Milner

  • Lord Selborne

  • Sir Patrick Duncan

  • Field Marshal Jan Smuts

  • Lord Lothian

  • Lord Brand

They have been held in:

  • all the British Dominions, starting in South Africa about 1903

  • in various places in London, chiefly 175 Piccadilly

  • at various colleges at Oxford, chiefly All Souls

  • at many English country houses such as Tring Park, Blickling Hall, Cliveden, and others

This society has been known at various times as:

  1. Milner’s Kindergarten

  2. Round Table Group

  3. Rhodes crowd

  4. The Times crowd

  5. All Souls group

  6. Cliveden set

All of these terms are unsatisfactory, for one reason or another, and I have chosen to call it the Milner Group. Those persons who have used the other terms, or heard them used, have not generally been aware that all these various terms referred to the same Group.

It is not easy for an outsider to write the history of a secret group of this kind, but, since no insider is going to do it, an outsider must attempt it. It should be done, for this Group is, as I shall show, one of the most important historical facts of the twentieth century. Indeed, the Group is of such significance that evidence of its existence is not hard to find, if one knows where to look.

 

This evidence I have sought to point out without overly burdening this volume with footnotes and bibliographical references. While such evidences of scholarship are kept at a minimum, I believe I have given the source of every fact which I mention. Some of these facts came to me from sources which I am not permitted to name, and I have mentioned them only where I can produce documentary evidence available to everyone.

 

Nevertheless, it would have been very difficult to write this book if I had not received a certain amount of assistance of a personal nature from persons close to the Group. For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal the names of such persons, so I have not made reference to any information derived from them unless it was information readily available from other sources.

Naturally, it is not possible for an outsider to write about a secret group without falling into errors. There are undoubtedly errors in what follows. I have tried to keep these at a minimum by keeping the interpretation at a minimum and allowing the facts to speak for themselves. This will serve as an excuse for the somewhat excessive use of quotations. I feel that there is no doubt at all about my general interpretation. I also feel that there are few misstatements of fact, except in one most difficult matter. This difficulty arises from the problem of knowing just who is and who is not a member of the Group.

 

Since membership may not be a formal matter but based rather on frequent social association, and since the frequency of such association varies from time to time and from person to person, it is not always easy to say who is in the Group and who is not. I have tried to solve this difficulty by dividing the Group into two concentric circles: an inner core of intimate associates, who unquestionably knew that they were members of a group devoted to a common purpose; and an outer circle of a larger number, on whom the inner circle acted by personal persuasion, patronage distribution, and social pressure. It is probable that most members of the outer circle were not conscious that they were being used by a secret society.

 

More likely they knew it, but, English fashion, felt it discreet to ask no questions. The ability of Englishmen of this class and background to leave the obvious unstated, except perhaps in obituaries, is puzzling and sometimes irritating to an outsider. In general, I have undoubtedly made mistakes in my lists of members, but the mistakes, such as they are, are to be found rather in my attribution of any particular person to the outer circle instead of the inner core, rather than in my connecting him to the Group at all. In general, I have attributed no one to the inner core for whom I do not have evidence, convincing to me, that he attended the secret meetings of the Group. As a result, several persons whom I place in the outer circle, such as Lord Halifax, should probably be placed in the inner core.

I should say a few words about my general attitude toward this subject. I approached the subject as a historian. This attitude I have kept. I have tried to describe or to analyze, not to praise or to condemn. I hope that in the book itself this attitude is maintained.

 

Of course I have an attitude, and it would be only fair to state it here. In general, I agree with the goals and aims of the Milner Group. I feel that the British way of life and the British Commonwealth of Nations are among the great achievements of all history. I feel that the destruction of either of them would be a terrible disaster to mankind. I feel that the withdrawal of Ireland, of Burma, of India, or of Palestine from the Commonwealth is regrettable and attributable to the fact that the persons in control of these areas failed to absorb the British way of life while they were parts of the Commonwealth. I suppose, in the long view, my attitude would not be far different from that of the members of the Milner Group.

 

But, agreeing with the Group on goals, I cannot agree with them on methods. To be sure, I realize that some of their methods were based on nothing but good intentions and high ideals—higher ideals than mine, perhaps. But their lack of perspective in critical moments, their failure to use intelligence and common sense, their tendency to fall back on standardized social reactions and verbal clichés in a crisis, their tendency to place power and influence into hands chosen by friendship rather than merit, their oblivion to the consequences of their actions, their ignorance of the point of view of persons in other countries or of persons in other classes in their own country—these things, it seems to me, have brought many of the things which they and I hold dear close to disaster.

 

In this Group were persons like Esher, Grey, Milner, Hankey, and Zimmern, who must command the admiration and affection of all who know of them. On the other hand, in this Group were persons whose lives have been a disaster to our way of life. Unfortunately, in the long run, both in the Group and in the world, the influence of the latter kind has been stronger than the influence of the former.

This has been my personal attitude. Little of it, I hope, has penetrated to the pages which follow. I have been told that the story I relate here would be better left untold, since it would provide ammunition for the enemies of what I admire. I do not share this view. The last thing I should wish is that anything I write could be used by the Anglophobes and isolationists of the Chicago Tribune. But I feel that the truth has a right to be told, and, once told, can be an injury to no men of good will.

 

Only by a knowledge of the errors of the past is it possible to correct the tactics of the future.



The Secret Society

One Wintry Afternoon in February 1891, three men were engaged in earnest conversation in London. From that conversation were to flow consequences of the greatest importance to the British Empire and to the world as a whole. For these men were organizing a secret society that was, for more than fifty years, to be one of the most important forces in the formulation and execution of British imperial and foreign policy.

The three men who were thus engaged were already well known in England. The leader was Cecil Rhodes, fabulously wealthy empire-builder and the most important person in South Africa. The second was William T. Stead, the most famous, and probably also the most sensational, journalist of the day. The third was Reginald Baliol Brett, later known as Lord Esher, friend and confidant of Queen Victoria, and later to be the most influential adviser of King Edward VII and King George V.

The details of this important conversation will be examined later. At present we need only point out that the three drew up a plan of organization for their secret society and a list of original members. The plan of organization provided for an inner circle, to be known as "The Society of the Elect," and an outer circle, to be known as "The Association of Helpers."

 

Within The Society of the Elect, the real power was to be exercised by the leader, and a "Junta of Three." The leader was to be Rhodes, and the junta was to be Stead, Brett, and Alfred Milner. In accordance with this decision, Milner was added to the society by Stead shortly after the meeting we have described.[1]

The creation of this secret society was not a matter of a moment. As we shall see, Rhodes had been planning for this event for more than seventeen years. Stead had been introduced to the plan on 4 April 1889, and Brett had been told of it on 3 February 1890. Nor was the society thus founded an ephemeral thing, for, in modified form, it exists to this day.

 

From 1891 to 1902, it was known to only a score of persons. During this period, Rhodes was leader, and Stead was the most influential member. From 1902 to 1925, Milner was leader, while Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian) and Lionel Curtis were probably the most important members. From 1925 to 1940, Kerr was leader, and since his death in 1940 this role has probably been played by Robert Henry Brand (now Lord Brand).

During this period of almost sixty years, this society has been called by various names. During the first decade or so it was called "the secret society of Cecil Rhodes" or "the dream of Cecil Rhodes." In the second and third decades of its existence it was known as "Milner’s Kindergarten" (1901-1910) and as "the Round Table Group" (1910-1920). Since 1920 it has been called by various names, depending on which phase of its activities was being examined. It has been called "The Times crowd," "the Rhodes crowd," the "Chatham House crowd," the "All Souls group," and the "Cliveden set."

 

All of these terms were more or less inadequate, because they focused attention on only part of the society or on only one of its activities. The Milner Kindergarten and the Round Table Group, for example, were two different names for The Association of Helpers and were thus only part of the society, since the real center of the organization, The Society of the Elect, continued to exist and recruited new members from the outer circle as seemed necessary. Since 1920, this Group has been increasingly dominated by the associates of Viscount Astor.

 

In the 1930s, the misnamed "Cliveden set" was close to the center of the society, but it would be entirely unfair to believe that the connotations of superficiality and conspiracy popularly associated with the expression "Cliveden set" are a just description of the Milner Group as a whole. In fact, Viscount Astor was, relatively speaking, a late addition to the society, and the society should rather be pictured as utilizing the Astor money to further their own ideals rather than as being used for any purpose by the master of Cliveden.

Even the expression "Rhodes secret society," which would be perfectly accurate in reference to the period 1891-1899, would hardly be accurate for the period after 1899. The organization was so modified and so expanded by Milner after the eclipse of Stead in 1899, and especially after the death of Rhodes in 1902, that it took on quite a different organization and character, although it continued to pursue the same goals. To avoid this difficulty, we shall generally call the organization the "Rhodes secret society" before 1901 and "the Milner Group" after this date, but it must be understood that both terms refer to the same organization.

This organization has been able to conceal its existence quite successfully, and many of its most influential members, satisfied to possess the reality rather than the appearance of power, are unknown even to close students of British history. This is the more surprising when we learn that one of the chief methods by which this Group works has been through propaganda.

  1. it plotted the Jameson Raid of 1895

  2. it caused the Boer War of 1899-1902

  3. it set up and controls the Rhodes Trust

  4. it created the Union of South Africa in 1906-1910

  5. it established the South African periodical The State in 1908

  6. it founded the British Empire periodical The Round Table in 1910, and this remains the mouthpiece of the Group

  7. it has been the most powerful single influence in All Souls, Balliol, and New Colleges at Oxford for more than a generation

  8. it has controlled The Times for more than fifty years, with the exception of the three years 1919-1922

  9. it publicized the idea of and the name "British Commonwealth of Nations" in the period 1908-1918

  10. it was the chief influence in Lloyd George’s war administration in 1917-1919 and dominated the British delegation to the Peace Conference of 1919

  11. it had a great deal to do with the formation and management of the League of Nations and of the system of mandates

  12. it founded the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1919 and still controls it

  13. it was one of the chief influences on British policy toward Ireland, Palestine, and India in the period 1917-1945

  14. it was a very important influence on the policy of appeasement of Germany during the years 1920-1940

  15. it controlled and still controls, to a very considerable extent, the sources and the writing of the history of British Imperial and foreign policy since the Boer War

It would be expected that a Group which could number among its achievements such accomplishments as these would be a familiar subject for discussion among students of history and public affairs. In this case, the expectation is not realized, partly because of the deliberate policy of secrecy which this Group has adopted, partly because the Group itself is not closely integrated but rather appears as a series of overlapping circles or rings partly concealed by being hidden behind formally organized groups of no obvious political significance.

This Group, held together, as it is, by the tenuous links of friendship, personal association, and common ideals is so indefinite in its outlines (especially in recent years) that it is not always possible to say who is a member and who is not. Indeed, there is no sharp line of demarkation between those who are members and those who are not, since "membership" is possessed in varying degrees, and the degree changes at different times.

 

Sir Alfred Zimmern, for example, while always close to the Group, was in its inner circle only for a brief period in 1910-1922, thereafter slowly drifting away into the outer orbits of the Group. Lord Halifax, on the other hand, while close to it from 1903, did not really become a member until after 1920. Viscount Astor, also close to the Group from its first beginnings (and much closer than Halifax), moved rapidly to the center of the Group after 1916, and especially after 1922, and in later years became increasingly a decisive voice in the Group.

Although the membership of the Milner Group has slowly shifted with the passing years, the Group still reflects the characteristics of its chief leader and, through him, the ideological orientation of Balliol in the 1870s. Although the Group did not actually come into existence until 1891, its history covers a much longer period, since its origins go back to about 1873.

 

This history can be divided into four periods, of which:

  • The first, from 1873 to 1891, could be called the preparatory period and centers about the figures of W.T. Stead and Alfred Milner.

  • The second period, from 1891 to 1901, could be called the Rhodes period, although Stead was the chief figure for most of it.

  • The third period, from 1901 to 1922, could be called the New College period and centers about Alfred Milner.

  • The fourth period, from about 1922 to the present, could be called the All Souls period and centers about Lord Lothian, Lord Brand, and Lionel Curtis.

During these four periods, the Group grew steadily in power and influence, until about 1939. It was badly split on the policy of appeasement after 16 March 1939, and received a rude jolt from the General Election of 1945. Until 1939, however, the expansion in power of the Group was fairly consistent. This growth was based on the possession by its members of ability, social connections, and wealth. It is not possible to distinguish the relationship of these three qualities—a not uncommon situation in England.

Milner was able to dominate this Group because he became the focus or rather the intersection point of three influences. These we shall call:

  1. "the Toynbee group"

  2. "the Cecil Bloc"

  3. "Rhodes secret society"

The Toynbee group was a group of political intellectuals formed at Balliol about 1873 and dominated by Arnold Toynbee and Milner himself. It was really the group of Milner’s personal friends.

 

The Cecil Bloc was a nexus of political and social power formed by Lord Salisbury and extending from the great sphere of politics into the fields of education and publicity. In the field of education, its influence was chiefly visible at Eton and Harrow and at All Souls College, Oxford. In the field of publicity, its influence was chiefly visible in The Quarterly Review and The Times.

 

The "Rhodes secret society" was a group of imperial federalists, formed in the period after 1889 and using the economic resources of South Africa to extend and perpetuate the British Empire.

It is doubtful if Milner could have formed his Group without assistance from all three of these sources. The Toynbee group gave him the ideology and the personal loyalties which he needed; the Cecil Bloc gave him the political influence without which his ideas could easily have died in the seed; and the Rhodes secret society gave him the economic resources which made it possible for him to create his own group independent of the Cecil Bloc.

 

By 1902, when the leadership of the Cecil Bloc had fallen from the masterful grasp of Lord Salisbury into the rather indifferent hands of Arthur Balfour, and Rhodes had died, leaving Milner as the chief controller of his vast estate, the Milner Group was already established and had a most hopeful future. The long period of Liberal government which began in 1906 cast a temporary cloud over that future, but by 1916 the Milner Group had made its entrance into the citadel of political power and for the next twenty-three years steadily extended its influence until, by 1938, it was the most potent political force in Britain.

The original members of the Milner Group came from well-to-do, upper-class, frequently titled families. At Oxford they demonstrated intellectual ability and laid the basis for the Group. In later years they added to their titles and financial resources, obtaining these partly by inheritance and partly by ability to tap new sources of titles and money.

 

At first their family fortunes may have been adequate to their ambitions, but in time these were supplemented by access to the funds in the foundation of All Souls, the Rhodes Trust and the Beit Trust, the fortune of Sir Abe Bailey, the Astor fortune, certain powerful British banks (of which the chief was Lazard Brothers and Company), and, in recent years, the Nuffield money.

Although the outlines of the Milner Group existed long before 1891, the Group did not take full form until after that date. Earlier, Milner and Stead had become part of a group of neo-imperialists who justified the British Empire’s existence on moral rather than on economic or political grounds and who sought to make this justification a reality by advocating self-government and federation within the Empire.

 

This group formed at Oxford in the early 1870s and was extended in the early 1880s. At Balliol it included Milner, Arnold Toynbee, Thomas Raleigh, Michael Glazebrook, Philip Lyttelton Gell, and George R. Parkin. Toynbee was Milner’s closest friend. After his early death in 1883, Milner was active in establishing Toynbee Hall, a settlement house in London, in his memory. Milner was chairman of the governing board of this establishment from 1911 to his death in 1925.

 

In 1931 plaques to both Toynbee and Milner were unveiled there by members of the Milner Group. In 1894 Milner delivered a eulogy of his dead friend at Toynbee Hall, and published it the next year as Arnold Toynbee: A Reminiscence. He also wrote the sketch of Toynbee in the Dictionary of National Biography. The connection is important because it undoubtedly gave Toynbee’s nephew, Arnold J. Toynbee, his entree into government service in 1915 and into the Royal Institute of International Affairs after the war.

George R. Parkin (later Sir George, 1846-1922) was a Canadian who spent only one year in England before 1889. But during that year (1873-1874) he was a member of Milner’s circle at Balliol and became known as a fanatical supporter of imperial federation. As a result of this, he became a charter member of the Canadian branch of the Imperial Federation League in 1885 and was sent, four years later, to New Zealand and Australia by the League to try to build up imperial sentiment.

 

On his return, he toured around England, giving speeches to the same purpose. This brought him into close contact with the Cecil Bloc, especially George E. Buckle of The Times, G.W. Prothero, J.R. Seeley, Lord Rosebery, Sir Thomas (later Lord) Brassey, and Milner. For Buckle, and in support of the Canadian Pacific Railway, he made a survey of the resources and problems of Canada in 1892.

 

This was published by Macmillan under the title The Great Dominion the following year. On a subsidy from Brassey and Rosebery he wrote and published his best-known book, Imperial Federation, in 1892. This kind of work as a propagandist for the Cecil Bloc did not provide a very adequate living, so on 24 April 1893 Milner offered to form a group of imperialists who would finance this work of Parkin’s on a more stable basis.

 

Accordingly, Parkin, Milner, and Brassey, on 1 June 1893, signed a contract by which Parkin was to be paid £450 a year for three years. During this period he was to propagandize as he saw fit for imperial solidarity. As a result of this agreement, Parkin began a steady correspondence with Milner, which continued for the rest of his life.

When the Imperial Federation League dissolved in 1894, Parkin became one of a group of propagandists known as the "Seeley lecturers" after Professor J.R. Seeley of Cambridge University, a famous imperialist. Parkin still found his income insufficient, however, although it was being supplemented from various sources, chiefly The Times. In 1894 he went to the Colonial Conference at Ottawa as special correspondent of The Times.

 

The following year, when he was offered the position of Principal of Upper Canada College, Toronto, he consulted with Buckle and Moberly Bell, the editors of The Times, hoping to get a full-time position on The Times. There was none vacant, so he accepted the academic post in Toronto, combining with it the position of Canadian correspondent of The Times. This relationship with The Times continued even after he became organizing secretary of the Rhodes Trust in 1902. In 1908, for example, he was The Times’s correspondent at the Quebec tercentenary celebration. Later, in behalf of The Times and with the permission of Marconi, he sent the first press dispatch ever transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean by radio.

In 1902, Parkin became the first secretary of the Rhodes Trust, and he assisted Milner in the next twenty years in setting up the methods by which the Rhodes Scholars would be chosen. To this day, more than a quarter-century after his death, his influence is still potent in the Milner Group in Canada. His son-in-law, Vincent Massey, and his namesake, George Parkin de T. Glazebrook, are the leaders of the Milner Group in the Dominion.[2]

Another member of this Balliol group of 1875 was Thomas Raleigh (later Sir Thomas, 1850-1922), close friend of Parkin and Milner, Fellow of All Souls (1876-1922), later registrar of the Privy Council (18961899), legal member of the Council of the Viceroy of India (1899-1904), and member of the Council of India in London (1909-1913). Raleigh’s friendship with Milner was not based only on association at Balliol, for he had lived in Milner’s house in Tubingen, Germany, when they were both studying there before 1868.

Another student, who stayed only briefly at Balliol but remained as Milner’s intimate friend for the rest of his life, was Philip Lyttelton Gell (1852-1926). Gell was a close friend of Milner’s mother’s family and had been with Milner at King’s College, London, before they both came up to Balliol. In fact, it is extremely likely that it was because of Gell, two years his senior, that Milner transferred to Balliol from London.

 

Gell was made first chairman of Toynbee Hall by Milner when it was opened in 1884, and held that post for twelve years. He was still chairman of it when Milner delivered his eulogy of Toynbee there in 1894. In 1899 Milner made Gell a director of the British South Africa Company, a position he held for twenty-six years (three of them as president).

Another intimate friend, with whom Milner spent most of his college vacations, was Michael Glazebrook (1853-1926). Glazebrook was the heir of Toynbee in the religious field, as Milner was in the political field. He became Headmaster of Clifton College (1891-1905) and Canon of Ely (1905-1926) and frequently got into conflict with his ecclesiastical superiors because of his liberal views. This occurred in its most acute form after his publication of The Faith of a Modern Churchman in 1918. His younger brother, Arthur James Glazebrook, was the founder and chief leader of the Canadian branch of the Milner Group until succeeded by Massey about 1935.

While Milner was at Balliol, Cecil Rhodes was at Oriel, George E. Buckle was at New College, and H.E. Egerton was at Corpus. It is not clear if Milner knew these young men at the time, but all three played roles in the Milner Group later. Among his contemporaries at Balliol itself, we should list nine names, six of whom were later Fellows of All Souls :

  1. H.H. Asquith

  2. St. John Brodrick

  3. Charles Firth

  4. W.P. Ker

  5. Charles Lucas

  6. Robert Mowbray

  7. Rowland E. Prothero

  8. A.L. Smith

  9. Charles A. Whitmore

Six of these later received titles from a grateful government, and all of them enter into any history of the Milner Group.

In Milner’s own little circle at Balliol, the dominant position was held by Toynbee. In spite of his early death in 1883, Toynbee’s ideas and outlook continue to influence the Milner Group to the present day.

 

As Milner said in 1894,

"There are many men now active in public life, and some whose best work is probably yet to come, who are simply working out ideas inspired by him."

As to Toynbee’s influence on Milner himself, the latter, speaking of his first meeting with Toynbee in 1873, said twenty-one years later, "I feel at once under his spell and have always remained under it." No one who is ignorant of the existence of the Milner Group can possibly see the truth of these quotations, and, as a result, the thousands of persons who have read these statements in the introduction to Toynbee’s famous Lectures on the Industrial Revolution have been vaguely puzzled by Milner’s insistence on the importance of a man who died at such an early age and so long ago.

 

Most readers have merely dismissed the statements as sentimentality inspired by personal attachment, although it should be clear that Alfred Milner was about the last person in the world to display sentimentality or even sentiment.

Among the ideas of Toynbee which influenced the Milner Group we should mention three:

  1. a conviction that the history of the British Empire represents the unfolding of a great moral idea—the idea of freedom — and that the unity of the Empire could best be preserved by the cement of this idea;

  2. a conviction that the first call on the attention of any man should be a sense of duty and obligation to serve the state; and

  3. a feeling of the necessity to do social service work (especially educational work) among the working classes of English society.[3]

These ideas were accepted by most of the men whose names we have already mentioned and became dominant principles of the Milner Group later. Toynbee can also be regarded as the founder of the method used by the Group later, especially in the Round Table Groups and in the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

 

As described by Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol, in his preface to the 1884 edition of Toynbee’s Lectures on the Industrial Revolution, this method was as follows :

"He would gather his friends around him; they would form an organization; they would work on quietly for a time, some at Oxford, some in London; they would prepare themselves in different parts of the subject until they were ready to strike in public."

In a prefatory note to this same edition, Toynbee’s widow wrote:

"The whole has been revised by the friend who shared my husband’s entire intellectual life, Mr. Alfred Milner, without whose help the volume would have been far more imperfect than it is, but whose friendship was too close and tender to allow now of a word of thanks."

After Milner published his Reminiscence of Arnold Toynbee, it was reprinted in subsequent editions of the Industrial Revolution as a memoir, replacing Jowett’s.

After leaving Oxford in 1877, Milner studied law for several years but continued to remain in close contact with his friends, through a club organized by Toynbee. This group, which met at the Temple in London as well as at Oxford, worked closely with the famous social reformer and curate of St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, Samuel A. Barnett. The group lectured to working-class audiences in Whitechapel, Milner ;giving a course of speeches on "The State and the Duties of Rulers" in 1880 and another on "Socialism" in 1882. The latter series was published in the National Review in 1931 by Lady Milner.

In this group of Toynbee’s was Albert Grey (later Earl Grey, 1851-1917), who became an ardent advocate of imperial federation. Later a loyal supporter of Milner’s, as we shall see, he remained a member of the Milner Group until his death. Another member of the group, Ernest Iwan-Muller, had been at King’s College, London, with Milner and Gell, and at New College while Milner was at Balliol.

 

A close friend of Milner’s, he became a journalist, was with Milner in South Africa during the Boer War, and wrote a valuable work on this experience called Lord Milner in South Africa (1903). Milner reciprocated by writing his sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography when he died in 1910.

At the end of 1881 Milner determined to abandon the law and devote himself to work of more social benefit. On 16 December he wrote in his diary:

"One cannot have everything. I am a poor man and must choose between public usefulness and private happiness. I choose the former, or rather, I choose to strive for it."[4]

The opportunity to carry out this purpose came to him through his social work with Barnett, for it was by this connection that he met George J. (later Lord) Goschen, Member of Parliament and director of the Bank of England, who in the space of three years (1880-1883) refused the posts of Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War, and Speaker of the House of Commons. Goschen became, as we shall see, one of the instruments by which Milner obtained political influence. For one year (1884-1885) Milner served as Goschen’s private secretary, leaving the post only because he stood for Parliament himself in 1885.

It was probably as a result of Goschen’s influence that Milner entered journalism, beginning to write for the Pall Mall Gazette in 1881. On this paper he established a number of personal relationships of later significance. At the time, the editor was John Morley, with William T. Stead as assistant. Stead was assistant editor in 1880-1883, and editor in 1883-1890. In the last year, he founded The Review of Reviews.

 

An ardent imperialist, at the same time that he was a violent reformer in domestic matters, he was "one of the strongest champions in England of Cecil Rhodes." He introduced Albert Grey to Rhodes and, as a result, Grey became one of the original directors of the British South Africa Company when it was established by royal charter in 1889. Grey became administrator of Rhodesia when Dr. Jameson was forced to resign from that post in 1896 as an aftermath of his famous raid into the Transvaal. He was Governor-General of Canada in 1904-1911 and unveiled the Rhodes Memorial in South Africa in 1912.

 

A Liberal member of the House of Commons from 1880 to 1886, he was defeated as a Unionist in the latter year. In 1894 he entered the House of Lords as the fourth Earl Grey, having inherited the title and 17,600 acres from an uncle. Throughout this period he was close to Milner and later was very useful in providing practical experience for various members of the Milner Group. His son, the future fifth Earl Grey, married the daughter of the second Earl of Selborne, a member of the Milner Group.

During the period in which Milner was working with the Pall Mall Gazette he became associated with three persons of some importance later. One of these was Edward T. Cook (later Sir Edward, 1857-1919), who became a member of the Toynbee-Milner circle in 1879 while still an undergraduate at New College. Milner had become a Fellow of New College in 1878 and held the appointment until he was elected Chancellor of the University in 1925.

 

With Edward Cook he began a practice which he was to repeat many times in his life later. That is, as Fellow of New College, he became familiar with undergraduates whom he later placed in positions of opportunity and responsibility to test their abilities. Cook was made secretary of the London Society for the Extension of University Teaching (1882) and invited to contribute to the Pall Mall Gazette. He succeeded Milner as assistant editor to Stead in 1885 and succeeded Stead as editor in 1890. He resigned as editor in 1892, when Waldorf Astor bought the Gazette, and founded the new Westminister Gazette, of which he was editor for three years (1893-1896).

 

Subsequently editor of the Daily News for five years (1896-1901), he lost this post because of the proprietors’ objections to his unqualified support of Rhodes, Milner, and the Boer War. During the rest of his life (1901-1919) he was leader-writer for the Daily Chronicle, edited Ruskin’s works in thirty-eight volumes, wrote the standard biography of Ruskin and a life of John Delane, the great editor of The Times.

Also associated with Milner in this period was Edmund Garrett (1865-1907), who was Stead’s and Cook’s assistant on the Pall Mall Gazette for several years (1887-1892) and went with Cook to the Westminister Gazette (1893-1895). In 1889 he was sent by Stead to South Africa for his health and became a great friend of Cecil Rhodes.

 

He wrote a series of articles for the Gazette, which were published in book form in 1891 as In Afrikanderland and the Land of Ophir. He returned to South Africa in 1895 as editor of the Cape Times, the most important English-language paper in South Africa. Both as editor (1895-1900) and later as a member of the Cape Parliament (1898-1902), he strongly supported Rhodes and Milner and warmly advocated a union of all South Africa.

 

His health broke down completely in 1900, but he wrote a character analysis of Rhodes for the Contemporary Review (June 1902) and a chapter called "Rhodes and Milner" for The Empire and the Century (1905). Edward Cook wrote a full biography of Garrett in 1909, while Milner wrote Garrett’s sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography, pointing out "as his chief title to remembrance" his advocacy "of a United South Africa absolutely autonomous in its own affairs but remaining part of the British Empire."

During the period in which he was assistant editor of the Gazette, Milner had as roommate Henry Birchenough (later Sir Henry, 1853-1937). Birchenough went into the silk-manufacturing business, but his chief opportunities for fame came from his contacts with Milner. In 1903 he was made special British Trade Commissioner to South Africa, in 1906 a member of the Royal Commission on Shipping Rings (a controversial South African subject), in 1905 a director of the British South Africa Company (president in 1925), and in 1920 a trustee of the Beit Fund.

 

During the First World War, he was a member of various governmental committees concerned with subjects in which Milner was especially interested. He was chairman of the Board of Trade’s Committee on Textiles after the war; chairman of the Royal Commission of Paper; chairman of the Committee on CottonGrowing in the Empire; and chairman of the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Reconstruction.

In 1885, as a result of his contact with such famous Liberals as Goschen, Morley, and Stead, and at the direct invitation of Michael Glazebrook, Milner stood for Parliament but was defeated. In the following year he supported the Unionists in the critical election on Home Rule for Ireland and acted as head of the "Literature Committee" of the new party. Goschen made him his private secretary when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Salisbury’s government in 1887.

 

The two men were similar in many ways: both had been educated in Germany, and both had mathematical minds. It was Goschen’s influence which gave Milner the opportunity to form the Milner Group, because it was Goschen who introduced him to the Cecil Bloc. While Milner was Goschen’s private secretary, his parliamentary private secretary was Sir Robert Mowbray, an older contemporary of Milner’s at Balliol and a Fellow of All Souls for forty-six years (1873-1919).

As a result of Goschen’s influence, Milner was appointed successively Under Secretary of Finance in Egypt (1887-1892), chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue (1892-1897), and High Commissioner to South Africa (1897-1905). With the last position he combined several other posts, notably Governor of the Cape of Good Hope (1897-1901) and Governor of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony (1901-1905).

 

But Goschen’s influence on Milner was greater than this, both in specific matters and in general. Specifically, as Chancellor of Oxford University in succession to Lord Salisbury (1903-1907) and as an intimate friend of the Warden of All Souls, Sir William Anson, Goschen became one of the instruments by which the Milner Group merged with All Souls.

 

But more important than this, Goschen introduced Milner, in the period 1886-1905, into that extraordinary circle which rotated about the Cecil family.

 


References

1 The sources of this information and a more detailed examination of the organization and personnel of the Rhodes secret society will be found in Chapter 3 below.

2 On Parkin, see the biography (1929) started by Sir John Willison and finished by Parkin’s son-in-law, William L. Grant. Also see the sketches of both Parkin and Milner in the Dictionary of National Biography. The debate in the Oxford Union which first brought Parkin to Milner’s attention is mentioned in Herbert Asquith’s (Lord Oxford and Asquith) Memories and Reflections (2 vols., Boston, 1928), I, 26.

3 The ideas for social service work among the poor and certain other ideas held by Toynbee and Milner were derived from the teachings of John Ruskin, who first came to Oxford as a professor during their undergraduate days. The two young men became ardent disciples of Ruskin and were members of his road-building group in the summer of 1870. The standard biography of Ruskin was written by a protege of Milner’s, Edward Cook.

 

The same man edited the complete collection of Ruskin’s works in thirty-eight volumes. See Lord Oxford and Asquith, Memories and Reflections (2 vols., Boston, 1928), I, 48. Cook’s sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography was written by Asquith’s intimate friend and biographer, J.A. Spender.

4 The quotation is from Cecil Headlam, ed., The Milner Papers (2 vols., London, 1931-1933), I, 15. There exists no biography of Milner, and all of the works concerned with his career have been written by members of the Milner Group and conceal more than they reveal. The most important general sketches of his life are the sketch in the Dictionary of National Biography, the obituary in The Times (May 1925), and the obituary in The Round Table (June 1925, XV, 427-430).

 

His own point of view must be sought in his speeches and essays. Of these, the chief collections are The Nation and the Empire (Boston, 1913) and Questions of the Hour (London, 1923). Unfortunately, the speeches after 1913 and all the essays which appeared in periodicals are still uncollected. This neglect of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century is probably deliberate, part of the policy of secrecy practiced by the Milner Group.