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Edwin Montagu

Eugene Black

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Edwin Montagu* EUGENE BLACK Thursday 20 November 1924 was another ofthose grey, misting London days that, piling one upon another, can so powerfully depress the spirit. Rabbi Vivian Simmons used the occasion to appreciate, if also to misunderstand, the statesman whose funeral address he delivered that day in the New West London Synagogue. How easy Simmons found it to call Edwin Montagu 'a passionate, indefatigable, convinced idealist, one who put his idealism into practice in a great and far-reaching scheme of Reform. In this respect, he was true to the great heritage of his race.'1 We remember Edwin Montagu today principally for two things: delaying and forcing the significant modification of what would become the Balfour Declaration, and for the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in India, intended to move the subcontinent towards self-government in as slow and orderly a manner as possible. Diarchy came too late, for Montagu's India was also Gandhi's India?an unequal contest, one fears, from the start. Edwin Montagu's importance in British politics, however, must also be sought in very different quarters. No English statesman worked more assiduously to prevent the disruption and disaster that overcame the Liberal Party during and immediately after the First World War. Closely associated with Asquith, even one of Asquith's most trusted confidants in assessing the political implications and needs of complex problems, Montagu desperately sought to prevent the split with Lloyd George in 1916 and continued to plead, even after his death, for Liberal reunion. Asquith never fully forgave Montagu for joining Lloyd George's government, although Asquith understood how the mothlike Montagu would flutter quite uncontrollably towards the brightest candle. Power captivated Montagu. He always sought personal proximity to the man at the top, and Montagu had much to offer. Few political practitioners had a keener sense of the actual needs and implications of a policy or problem. Intellectually deft and swift, Montagu was able to understand people with the cutting penetration of a caricaturist. His propensity for mimicry might set the dinner table in a roar, or delight civil servants in the corridors of power. To twit 'the rounded Lord Curzon' to Balfour, however true, was not necessarily the most effective way to forward a policy, Keynes recalled: * Paper presented to the Society on ii June 1987. 199</page><page sequence="2">Eugene Black I never knew a male person of big mind like his who was more addicted to gossip than Edwin Montagu. Perhaps this was the chief reason why he could not bear to be out of things. He was an inveterate gossip in the servants' hall of secretaries and officials. It was his delight to debate, at the Cabinet, affairs of State, and then to come out and deliver, to a little group, a brilliant and exposing parody, aided by mimicry, of what each of the great ones, himself included, had said. But he loved it better when he could push gossip over into intimacy. He never went long without an intense desire to unbosom himself, even to exhibit himself, and to squeeze out of his confidant a drop of?perhaps reluctant?affection. And then again he would be silent and reserved beyond bearing, sitting stonily with his great hand across his mouth and a staring monocle.2 Keynes's obituary rings profoundly true. Inside the man who read through the political intricacies of the coming Welfare State, sought to adapt imperialism to the realities of the twentieth century, cut to the heart of the issue of German reparations, displayed remarkable insight about the Irish question (and was offered the Chief Secretaryship), showed an extraordinary ability to judge men and measures?inside that man, there was another, someone who used extraordinary gifts and sensitivity to project various personae, but never quite to bring together that remarkable person named Edwin Montagu. The roots of the difficulty lay, I believe, in who and what Edwin Montagu was. Biography is a great medium of British history, often employed less to understand the private person than to consider the public persona. British biographers, like Britons themselves, simultaneously delight in gossip and demand privacy. I recall that the original nineteenth-century instructions for the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts stipulated that should the archivist, when reviewing a collection, find a document that might prove embarrassing or bring discredit upon the family, he would turn it over without actually reading it. Edwin Montagu, I suggest, does not merely cast light into important corners of British political history; he tells us something profoundly important about a community coming of age. The sixth child and second son of one of the greatest leaders of late-Victorian and Edwardian Anglo-Jewry, Edwin's life and career can be understood only if seen first in terms of his ambiguous relationship with being Jewish and his tempestuous relationship with his overbearing father, Sir Samuel Montagu, first Lord Swaythling. Sir Samuel Montagu, Bart., first Baron Swaythling (1832-1911), was perhaps the most important of the Samuels, a Liverpool family which drifted into London and specie banking. His nephew, Sir Stuart Samuel, Bart., another banker, to whom Montagu bequeathed his seat in parliament as Member for Whitechapel, would preside over the Jewish Board of Deputies after the struggles of 1917. Another nephew, the statesman Herbert Samuel, was to a large extent brought up in the Montagu household. From active Liberal Party service, Herbert Samuel, the first professing Jew to hold Cabinet rank, would 200</page><page sequence="3">Edwin Montagu move on to become first High Commissioner under the Palestine Mandate and to be, in the view of some, the great custodian of Liberal Party ideals and values through years of adversity. Samuel Montagu shows how history mistreats those who become unfashionable. This communal mover and shaker held strong opinions on most subjects. Although he was a life member of the Council of the United Synagogue, much of his greatest work was done through the Federation of Synagogues he created to harmonize the wants of East End immigrant Jews with the aspirations of the Anglo-Jewish elite. Montagu had strong view about rabbis. While he respected their learning and religious authority, he felt that rabbis should be subordinate to communal leaders. Montagu enjoyed selecting and managing those he brought to the Federation, taking particular pride in the great maggid, Hayyim Maccoby. Through Maccoby, perhaps the most popular preacher of turn-of-the-century London, Montagu pursued his relentless if Fabian policy of anglicizing East End Jews. Montagu's doctrinal rigidity and moral inflexibility grew more pronounced towards the end of his life, making him appear an increasingly unattractive authoritarian. When those close to him said 'that his zeal was being mistaken for fanaticism and bigotry, he claimed he did not want popularity'. His will, the subject of considerable public discussion, emphasized these less attractive qualities and did little to help his public image or historical reputation. Secularism in public affairs has dominated social analysis, so Montagu is thrust into the character of the oppressive, authoritarian capitalist, hiding either hypocritically or unconsciously behind a fagade of religiosity, in the form of his work among the poor and migrants of the East End. Montagu's anti-Zionism, like that of his son Edwin, deprived him of a modish place in subsequent hagiography. Authoritarian he was, rigid, simplistic in his beliefs, and capitalist to the teeth, but he deserves better than historians and such conventional reference books as the Encyclopaedia Judaica have given him. People of letters have often done badly by Samuel Montagu. Even his name was apparently a schoolmaster's error. Montagu Samuel was mistakenly enrolled as Samuel Montagu. The family, for whatever reason, was not displeased, and Montagu continued to use his name in that form. When Rosebery created him a baronet in 1894, that name was recognized by Letters Patent. Montagu liked to think of himself as a self-made man. A multi? millionaire, he started from the middle classes, married very well, and moved steadily from success to success. The son of a successful watchmaker and silversmith, he came to London and established a foreign-exchange business, Samuel &amp; Montagu, with his brother, Edwin Samuel. Montagu dominated the business from the start. When his brother-in-law, Ellis A. Franklin (yet another of the Anglo-Jewish gentry), joined the partnership in 1862, the firm became Samuel Montagu &amp; Co. Under Montagu's exceptional management, the firm rapidly grew into one of the great foreign-exchange houses and the undisputed leader in the world silver market. Montagu the banker was a man of total 201</page><page sequence="4">Eugene Black probity and considerable wisdom. Characteristically, he eschewed speculation, the bane and downfall of many specie traders. Displaying sound judgement, even shrewdness, and discrimination, his devotion to detail and extraordinary discipline made him one of London's great and most respected bankers. Sensitive to the politics of the City, Montagu had the Royal Exchange roofed in. He made himself readily available to journalists and was inevitably sought out for statements on currency matters. He wrote regularly on financial subjects for periodicals, even contributing several articles to Palgrave's Dictionary of Political Economy and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He served on the Royal Commission on Gold and Silver (1887-90) and was an unflagging proponent of the decimal system a century before its time. He was instrumental in improving the condition of London costermongers, believed in trade unions, and advocated a system of free employment-registry offices well before the creation of Labour Exchanges. Like many who believe they themselves have risen on their own, 'he had little sympathy with the man who failed to get on'. A classic liberal, he believed that anyone, given the opportunity to do so, could succeed by application and industry. Like the rest of the Anglo-Jewish elite, he was connected and reconnected through the cousinhood of marriage. His wife was a Cohen, his brother-in-law Lionel Louis Cohen (1821-87) a pillar of the United Synagogue, strong man in developing the Jewish Board of Guardians (which evolved into a Cohen family enterprise), and future Member of Parliament. Montagu was a member of the inner circle of the United Synagogue, an early pioneer of the Jewish Board of Guardians' loan system, and, with Nathan Joseph, the person who initiated visiting work in that body. From the beginning of his communal religious and social work, thus, he went out among the poor and immigrants of the East End. As early as 1870, Montagu founded the Jewish Working Men's Club, the first and most effective of such institutions, over which he presided until his death in 1911. He believed, almost certainly correctly, that he had a clearer under? standing of who and what East End Jews were than most of his fellow Anglo-Jewish aristocrats. This keen sense of what was happening in the East End made him, on the one hand, one of the communal experts for the public investigation of issues relating to immigrants and, on the other, one of those called upon to develop community policy to deal with the mounting problem. He went twice to Russia, at the behest of the Mansion House Committee, the City of London organization concerned with assisting refugees. His work helped to organize the stream of westward migration. His second trip, with Dr Asher, the great medical 'civil servant' of the United Synagogue, covered thousands of miles and all of the major towns and cities in the Pale in an effort to organize the emigration movement. Russian official and unofficial efforts to intimidate Montagu only made him firmer of purpose. A brave man, determined to learn the facts, Montagu became so popular that the Russian authorities gave him 202</page><page sequence="5">Edwin Montagu forty-eight hours to leave the country, a fact often lost on his later detractors. The Mansion House Fund became the Russo-Jewish Committee, and Montagu succeeded Sir Julian Goldsmid as president, serving until ill health forced his retirement in July 1909. In this venture, Montagu had no greater supporter than his successor, Lord Rothschild. Aiding Russian Jews?and most of the funds to do so came through the Russo-Jewish Committee?was too important a matter to be yet another area of rivalry between the banker princes. With Hermann Landau (1844-1924), a fellow banker and the first Pole to become part of the Anglo-Jewish elite, Montagu revived and reorganized the Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter, which became the way-station for most migrant and transmigrant Jews as they reached London on their way from Eastern Europe. Montagu, first elected to Parliament in 1885 and sitting until 1900, served on the 1888 House of Commons Select Committee on Alien Immigration and was to be one of the more important community witnesses before the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration of 1903. Since he constantly went among the poor and migrants of the East End, he felt, probably correctly, that he understood them better than other communal leaders who stood, however benevolently, at a distance, embarrassed if not outraged by East End vulgarity. Montagu communicated with those East End denizens, not simply as the Member of Parliament for that constituency, but as a man who shared their deep religiosity. And so he fought against the United Synagogue East End schemes that Rothschild championed, which collapsed in the face of West End community indifference, and pursued his own way to bring East End Jews 'under wise influences'. Once again with Hermann Landau, and assisted by the clothier and East End politician, Mark Moses, Montagu had a formula, the Federation of Synagogues, which he created, nurtured and sustained until his death, as a way of bringing order from religious institutional chaos, anglicizing suspicious aliens, and fostering both the theological and social values he felt best. Judaism was at the core of Montagu's being, a somewhat primitive and rigorous orthodoxy that he was at great pains to promote. Active in the United Synagogue, he played a leading role in founding the Brighton, St John's Wood, and particularly the New West End Synagogue. For nearly thirty years, Montagu led the Initiation Society, which sought to bring medical competence as well as doctrinal propriety to ritual circumcisions. He also presided for more than a generation over the Schechita board which regulated kashrut observance. As with everything else, he took the details personally and seriously. Montagu could be seen, almost any week, hectoring a wayward butcher on the minutiae of the rules. For many years he served as Vice President of the Jewish Association for the Diffusion of Religious Knowledge, the predecessor of the Jewish Religious Education Board. Highly opinionated, tough-minded, uncompromising on principles, Montagu often boasted that he never left a promise unfulfilled and had never failed in an 203</page><page sequence="6">Eugene Black engagement. He could not be cowed or bullied. Rothschild-Montagu confron? tations must have seemed the collision of the irresistible force and immovable object, although the two displayed a commendable capacity to set differences aside when their common cause, the welfare of Jewry, demanded. Although they fought for more than a decade over Rothschild's 'East End Plan', they closed ranks on such issues as East European Jewish refugees, immigration restriction, and the principles on which Jews should be socialized. Montagu's sense of duty often made him stay a course he disliked, but never where he felt that a 'moral wrong' had been done. He quit the Jewish Board of Guardians over a dispute about the care of deserted children. He dragged his Federation of Synagogues out of the Jewish Religious Education Board because two members of its executive committee held what Montagu considered to be 'heretical' religious opinions. He took pride in his family and its achievements, although he feared, correctly, that his most brilliant son, Edwin, was at best religiously indifferent, and that his remarkable daughter Lilian, with her promotion of Liberal Judaism, was theologically dangerous. A devoted Liberal in politics, Montagu contributed generously to party coffers at a time when Liberalism was shifting from the laissez-faire he admired towards a collectivism he considered socially enervating and debilitating. He was an engraved-in-stone Orthodox literalist who believed in the literal interpretation of Scripture in the age of the 'new criticism'. He expected loyalty and deference in an age of increasing social mobility and democratization. He had an intelligent businessman's suspicion of intellectuals, although he was more of one himself than he would have been willing to acknowledge. He detested Zionism almost as much as socialism at a time when they were counting for more and more among 'his people'. Yet he was in all these things, like the Rothschilds, part of the greater English elite. While he ruled no domain as vast as the Rothschilds' Vale of Aylesbury, he took an active role in country life. Montagu was an excellent horseman. His patience and love of detail made him a keen angler and expert fly fisherman. His country seat, from which he took the Swaythling title, was in Hampshire. As a good peer must, he served on the County Bench for Southampton and as President of the Southampton Horticultural Society. In the great tradition of the English elite, he straddled City and country. He was Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the County of London, a member of the House Committee of the London Hospital, and one of the first trustees of the People's Palace, Mile End. Like the Rothschilds, Montagu was a collector. In his case, his collection of silver, one of the finest in the world, was bequeathed to the nation through the Victoria and Albert Museum. Montagu's uncle, Moses Samuel (i796-1860), had translated Moses Mendelssohn's Jerusalem into English and edited a Hebrew literary magazine, 204</page><page sequence="7">Edwin Montagu Cup of Salvation. Sir Samuel Montagu, Bart., first Baron Swaythling, filled and offered that cup of salvation to tens of thousands. In the shadow of so dynamic, so determined a father, how could Edwin grow and flourish? In simplest terms, he could not. His elder brother walked dutifully in his father's shadow, never emerging from it, even after he assumed the Swaythling title. A good man, the second Lord Swaythling sought to uphold his father's principles and policies in a world far less hospitable to them. Philanthropic socialization, the late-Victorian Jewish social policy, was giving way to collectivism and communal cooperation in state-directed activities. Other voices competed increasingly effectively for the hearts and minds of the East End. When Nahum Sokolow demanded that all Jewish groups support the Zionist and Jewish Nationalist position at Paris in 1919, he illustrated his argument about the passing of the old order by singling out the second Lord Swaythling as 'less than nothing'.3 Edwin's younger brother, Lionel, whose cheerfulness and calm excited Edwin's admiration, became a partner in the family bank, a man of consequence and achievement, but neither a communal mover and shaker nor a pioneer striking out new directions in the wider English world. Edwin's closest youthful relationships were with his mother, his German nurse 'Rosie', and, selectively, his siblings. He was ultimately 'intimate' with only one or two relatives. Discipline, application and the need to succeed were drummed into him from earliest childhood. His response, among other things, was hypochondria and headaches, possibly migraines. Edwin's correspondence with his mother?he wrote to her every week he was not actually with her?was a litany of doubts and anxieties. Pathetic notes and letters to her repeat over and over again Edwin's anxiety about falling short of the mark. Tortured self-examination in his notes back from Clifton shows that combination of ability and ambition perpetually tripping over self-doubt that was to haunt Edwin's entire life. Whether Sir Samuel realized how close to breakdown Edwin often came and indulged Edwin's whim to study science and go to Cambridge, or whether Edwin simply dug in his heels and insisted, is unclear. Father and son quarrelled regularly on matters religious. Sir Samuel feared that Edwin, who did not appear particularly Jewish and had an English name, would turn his back on Judaism and on himself. Both were reasonable concerns. Nothing in their discussions made matters easier. Edwin's November 1898 missive to his father from Trinity was an unqualified challenge to parent and values: Religion concerns only the individual and can be no man else's concern. By race I am an Englishman and my interests are mainly in England, but I will never forget that I am a Jew and the son of a Jew and I will always be a good 'Jew' according to my lights, my definition of a good Jew differing from yours. It is an awful thing to lose a father's love as I fear I am doing now and how I shall live without it I cannot think. But I must not and will not consider the temppral or temporary advantages... However much it grieves me or my relations I 205</page><page sequence="8">Eugene Black must try and be true and honest... It grieves me terribly to write like this to a father who does so much for me, but I can't help it. Try to forgive me. I must do my duty.4 The artillery duel between father and son continued, with Edwin increasingly brought to terms only by financial threats. Edwin had, to be sure, indulged in more than a little baiting, making a point, for instance, of holidaying in the country on Jewish festivals. A truce was declared in 1901 when Edwin made the concessions to his father that were to last until Samuel's death in 1911 and?through the medium of controlled allowance?until Edwin's own death in 1924. Edwin, 23 when he took his degree in 1902 and already singled out for political favour and advancement, agreed. He would return home for the High Holydays in the autumn and Passover in the spring. In return for an increased allowance, he agreed not to be away from home on festivals without Sir Samuel's consent, a regulation his mother and elder brother continued to impose even after his father died. The Swaythling will, the subject of considerable public discussion, kept Edwin under constraint. Were he to marry a non-Jew or convert, he would be cut off with a pittance. Thus it was, to Asquith's horror and revulsion, that Venetia Stanley was converted to Judaism for her marriage.5 Edwin's ?10,000 annual trust income was more than either could risk. Samuel had correctly estimated that Edwin's need for money to sustain the life-style of high politics and high society would bring him to heel. But even his generous annual stipend ultimately fell short of Edwin's expenditure. Venetia's father, Lord Stanley, disapproved of Venetia's conversion, although not of the match. He, however, placed her money in a trust beyond her reach.6 Thus other sources of income needed to be provided. Tucked away in the Beaverbrook correspondence for the war years and immediately after are regular form letters from Barclay's Bank asking Beaverbrook if he continues to be willing to guarantee a substantial overdraft for Edwin Montagu.7 Edwin had never been an easy son. He toyed with science and medicine, which became instruments of emancipation, permitting him access to education removed from immediate parental supervision. Through his extended under? graduate career at Trinity College, Cambridge, however, Edwin had fallen in love with politics.8 He fobbed his father off with talk of reading law, although he stopped short of promising to practise as a barrister. Edwin was, in fact, playing for time. Politics was to be his life. He despised the months in 1903 he worked at Coward Hawksley and Chance, a fashionable solicitors' firm at which his father had arranged a post, and leapt back into politics at the first opportunity. Both Asquith and Lloyd George had seen Montagu's talents first hand at the Cambridge University Liberal Club. Lord Rosebery patronized him, and a free-trade Liberal inquiry gave him a momentary escape to Canada.9 Pleading ill 206</page><page sequence="9">Edwin Montagu health?as he always did when feeling trapped (it was sometimes real, more often psychosomatic or hypochondriac)?he once again escaped family control, worked hard in good health, and returned with a case book for free-trade imperial liberalism. The Liberal establishment applauded and produced. Herbert Gladstone found a constituency, West Cambridge, which adopted him in 1903.10 Edwin's father, preaching career, insisted that Edwin accept an arrangement which he, Sir Samuel, had negotiated in the Chambers of the distinguished Mr Pollock, KC. Although Edwin and his father had 'negotiated' an arrangement for financial support during a trip together to Algeria in 1902.11 Sir Samuel suspected that Edwin's rural constituency would encourage the assimilationist apostate side of his son, and repeatedly urged him, in politics, to find a more suitable urban one. Working at the Temple to satisfy his father, and campaigning through a constituency of small towns and innumerable meetings all a long train journey from London to satisfy himself, strained Edwin's psychological and financial resources. His ?500-per-year allowance was inadequate. Sir Samuel finally agreed to pay Edwin's political expenses if proper accounts were submitted, and Edwin continued working to be called to the Bar.12 Edwin's efforts were rewarded. West Cambridgeshire returned him, as it would continue to do until 1918, in January 1906, and Edwin joined the great Liberal majority, thinking of himself as a Radical. He was, in fact, a moderate social reformer unsettled by Prime Minister Campbell-Bannerman's strong position on Home Rule (which Edwin feared might cost him his Cambridgeshire seat) and suspicious of Lloyd George's populist rhetoric. Asquith, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, remembered the witty and perceptive University Liberal Club speaker of that 1901 dinner, and took Montagu on as Private Secretary. The Asquith connection not only propelled Edwin into the leading Liberal political circles; it also brought him into the glittering world of cultivated Edwardian society. Beyond the circle of leisured university friends, a small group of bright young men invited Edwin to join their 'Magic Circle' in 1907, and the influential Asquith family connection propelled Edwin into the company of his future wife, Venetia Stanley, Lady Dorothy Howard (to whom he may or may not have proposed), and the Duff Coopers. All this served only to heighten domestic discord in the Montagu residence at Kensington Palace Gardens, Lord Swaythling at one point in 1907 abruptly cutting off all payments to his son's Cambridgeshire electoral agent. More negotiations, with Edwin's mother acting as intermediary, patched up only a temporary truce, as Edwin wallowed in his grievances. 'Here is Gerald, my father's partner and trusted son, wealthy, healthy, and happily settled. Here am I, un-trusted and often tolerantly condemned, poor, unhealthy, unhappy, unsettled.'13 Edwin plunged deeper into politics, moved to Queen Anne's Gate, ostensibly to be nearer the House of Commons but actually to give his wit and social skills 207</page><page sequence="10">Eugene Black greater scope in the service of his political ambitions. Asquith's promotion to Prime Minister heightened Edwin's own aspirations and left him chafing with his private secretaryship. He played his Jacques well, but wanted scope. The dark, brooding, gloomy cynic was to find it, after the January 1910 election, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for India. Serving first under Viscount Morley, and after November 1910 under Lord Crewe, Montagu was to hold the Under-Secretaryship until February 1914.14 The spokesman for the govern? ment's Indian policy in the House of Commons, he articulated the implications of the Morley-Minto reforms, the first profound steps in the direction of Indian self-government. The backstairs gossip and lobbyist found himself suddenly propelled into the public eye. His speech on the Indian budget on 6 July 1910 saw Montagu, as the Daily Mail observed, 'having established himself in the course of an afternoon as a new force in English politics'.15 He had also found an arena in which to confront himself. When we came into India we found that the characteristic of Indian thought was an excessive reverence for authority. The scholar was taught to accept the assurance of his spiritual teacher with unquestioning reverence; the duty of the subject was passive obedience to rulers; the usages of society were invested with a divine sanction which it was blasphemy to question. To a people so blindly obedient to authority the teaching of European and particularly of English thought was a revolution. English literature is saturated with the praise of liberty, and it inculcates the duty of private and independent judgment on every man. We have always been taught, and we all believe, that every man should judge for himself, and that no authority can relieve him of the obligation of deciding for himself the great issues of right and wrong. The Indian mind at first revolted at this doctrine. Then one or two here and there were converted to it. They became eager missionaries of the new creed of private judgment and independence, and the consequence is that a new spirit is abroad wherever English education has spread, which questions all established beliefs and calls for orthodoxy, either political, social, economic or religious, to produce its credentials.16 Edwin himself temporized. His father had come to the House to listen to the budget speech. In the great tradition of Anglo-Jewry, a marriage was proposed for him (now thirty-one) with a young cousin of nineteen. Edwin vacillated long enough and treated the match awkwardly enough to be rejected when he finally proposed. Making that proposal in March 1911, however, was his last concession to a father who had died just two months before. Thereafter Edwin would run as far as the family financial leading-strings would permit him to do. But now that his father was dead, Edwin had to create a new one. He plunged ever deeper into the world of the British political elite, an habitue of Asquith clan occasions, where his 'Jacques' persona and desire to please made him good company. Crewes, Churchills, Birrell and Balfour enjoyed 208</page><page sequence="11">Edwin Montagu him. Even creaking Lord Wemyss, the 94-year-old apostle of libertarian Liberalism, approved. On holiday in Sicily with Prime Minister Asquith in January 1912, he spoke of his patron as 'the best of spirits' and 'the best of company', 'the most easily amused and the greatest fund of information I know'.17 The same visit brought Edwin to his courtship of his master's quondam mistress, Venetia Stanley. Venetia was much admired. Viscountess Weymouth described her some years later as one of the best women conversationalists: 'She is very knowledgeable, has a wonderful memory and a quaint wit. She desires to please that particular person to whom she is talking and her conversation is coloured with the necessary dash of malice.'18 Admired she was by the Prime Minister and his acolyte?also, I fear, by others. The evidence strongly suggests that she was one of those who had a long, intimate involvement with Lord Beaverbrook, which began some time in 1918 and continued at least until 1929.19 Venetia, in high spirits, rejected Edwin's proposal, perfectly happy with her intimate, although quite possibly non-sexual, relationship with Asquith. Asquith, borrowing from Byron, thereafter referred to Montagu as 'the Assyrian', confident, as he thought, that the Stanley sheep would never be ravished from the Asquith fold. Asquith moved Montagu from the India Office to the post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury in February 1914.20 Lloyd George was happy enough to have him, for Edwin's appointment brought City confidence. Montagu, in his self-deprecating moments, denied having particular financial skill, contending that his father's name bequeathed him an undeserved reputation. At other times, however, Montagu traded on City connections and a City reputation when touting himself as a possible Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the moment, however, denying government departments' authority to overspend on the advice of civil servants?the routine function of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury?took second place to political work. In particular, Montagu attempted to salvage negotiations over Home Rule for Ireland.21 Like the Speaker's Buckingham Palace Conference, the Montagu-Rothermere-Lord Murray of Elibank efforts came to nought. Montagu, however, had little time to reflect on intractable Ireland, for war came, not over Ulster, but in Europe. Montagu found himself suddenly the go-between for the City and the Treasury, designing emergency measures to maintain financial order. Montagu finally achieved promotion to Cabinet rank as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in February 1915. But, ironically, he brooded, wondering if he were the victim of a Lloyd George intrigue to replace Masterman. The Duchy gave Montagu a Cabinet seat with a minimal departmental responsibility, a situation, I believe, much more to his liking than he was prepared to admit. For instance, he plunged into a committee consisting of Lloyd George, Balfour and himself that served as an unsatisfactory precursor to the Ministry of Munitions. Barely launched in the Cabinet, however, he lost his post in the first Coalition. 209</page><page sequence="12">Eugene Black Churchill, ousted from the Admiralty, took the Duchy, and Montagu returned shortly afterwards to his old position of Financial Secretary to the Treasury. His idealized father figure had failed him. Having been tantalized by Asquith dangling Ireland, Education, the Ministry of Munitions and the Board of Trade before him, Montagu suddenly found himself subordinated to Reginald McKenna. Lloyd George, as usual careless of details, had given Montagu scope, but McKenna loved trivia. Montagu, moreover, felt certain he would have made a far better Chancellor of the Exchequer than McKenna, an opinion reinforced by the tendency of City financiers to consult him rather than McKenna. Montagu never liked McKenna, despite his many protestations to the contrary. When the great ministerial crisis of 1916 arrived and Montagu strove to keep Lloyd George, the people's hero, and Asquith, Montagu's personal hero, working in tandem, he singled out McKenna as the worst of the evil spirits working against cooperation and for the ultimate destruction of the Liberal Party.22 Sir Maurice Hankey, Asquith's private secretaries and Colonel Fitzgerald (Kitchener's aide) dined regularly on Friday nights at Montagu's, forming what they called a 'Brains Trust'. Asquith called it 'the Shadow Cabinet'. Dining at Montagu's each Friday evening, they worked outside official channels through 1915 to consider policies and problems. From those discussions undoubtedly grew the long memoranda Montagu wrote Asquith weighing and analysing issues and options. Conscription, rationing, the laggard patriotism of joint stock banks, growing dissension within the government, the need for Asquith to maintain initiative in his hands?all these and more were developed at length.23 The demands of politics eased one source of potential strain. Venetia Stanley had, after wavering, yielded to Edwin's wooing, agreed to be converted to Judaism and to marry him. Whether she could no longer cope with the intense pressure that Asquith placed upon her for emotional support?he was writing her more than one letter a day, sharing the most confidential state secrets, describing Cabinet meetings as they went on, and demanding constant psychological reinforcement?or whether her feelings for Edwin actually changed, I am not certain. Edwin's letters poured forth in an equally passionate stream, only with slightly more discretion about revealing the most secret information. Certainly Venetia had some difficulty with her father who disapproved of the conversion, although not necessarily of the marriage. Certainly, too, Asquith was virtually unhinged by what seemed to him almost a double betrayal by two intimates. Venetia fled to work in a war hospital in France. Edwin's greatest limitation was his tendency to collapse in the face of real confrontation. Just as he could quarrel with, but not ultimately confront, his father, he could debate but not stand and fight against what appeared to be overwhelming odds. It would be his political Achilles' heel. Churchill would 210</page><page sequence="13">Edwin Montagu have to save him during the Amritsar debate, and his speech in 1922 defending the conduct that led Lloyd George to dismiss him was a whimper, not the roar it should have been. He could not stand toe-to-toe and fight the trade unionist who challenged him for Cambridgeshire as he had done in the Coupon Election of 1918.24 He lost his seat in the election of 1922, unable to recover his political sense of self. He had lost, betrayed, in a sense, his second father?Asquith. He had been cast off by his last hero, Lloyd George. What remained was the melancholy sense that he had been right, that he had understood, diagnosed and offered remedies for many of the political illnesses of war and peace. 'Jacques' could play 'Cassandra' too. In 1915 Asquith drew Montagu back from the corner in which he was cowering and adjusted himself to the changed relationship with Venetia. They remained friends, for the emotional realignment did not change the needs upon which intimacy was built. Edwin needed his foster-parent and hero; Asquith needed that secure, sensitive and helpful sanctuary. Venetia could be the gay conversationalist and perfect companion without the impossible burden of conflicting emotional demands. Montagu's town house, 24 Queen Anne's Gate, became one of 'the' houses. Prime Minister and government politicians could always be found there, as well as that broader cultural circle, the 'Coterie' as Lady Diana Cooper called it, of bright young things?Grenfells, Sitwells, Baring, Parsons, Shaw-Stewart, Lister and others. The political and social circle nourished Edwin, feeding both person and persona. A country house, Breccles, in the Norfolk Broads, provided an ideal escape when the endless tempo of town life beat too strongly. Walking, shooting, birdwatching, egg gathering?those cultivated gentlemanly pursuits of a bygone era?brought Edwin even more completely into the world of which he wished to be a part but from which he invariably remained just slightly detached. Venetia pushed Edwin at the core of his being. She called herself a pagan and felt love and friendship to be the highest moral principles. She would accept conversion to spare Edwin's mother pain and to retain Edwin's substantial income, although she contended in that slightly disingenuous way the upper classes have that she 'would be quite as happy with you if you have nothing'. Edwin evaded the issue of money and spun an elaborate formulation that their children would be born Jews, would receive no religious instruction, and could practise any religion they chose. He would be pleased, he acknowledged, if they married Jews. Venetia asked him why. You also say that if your sons were to wish to marry Christians ycu would feel they also had deserted. Is it race or religion you care about, or merely the label? If race, then you are debasing it by marrying me, whatever I do. Religion you know I care nothing about and shan't attempt to bring up my children in. There only remains the label. And will that stick, do you think? If we have children, how do you think they will be brought up? Amongst Jews or amongst 211</page><page sequence="14">Eugene Black Christians? Won't their natural friends be Arthur's children, Anthony's, Geoffrey's, and not your eldest brother's or any of your relations. And this is not because I shall be separating you from your family, because you have never really belonged to them by ties or friendship, except your mother and one brother... I shall nominally call myself one of you, but that is the limit of what will happen and I am sure your children will not regard themselves as anything different from their friends.25 Venetia then fled to a war hospital in France. Passionate correspondence followed, Venetia hanging back from the commitment. Edwin pursued her. She returned on 10 July 1915, went through the ceremony of becoming a Jewess, met Edwin's mother, and married him on the 26th. Nothing more was resolved. Edwin had made his half-statement for Judaism. Venetia had pledged herself to him. A Stanley had married a Montagu, forever joined but in some ways slightly apart. Edwin returned to the Cabinet, although not the War Committee, in January 1916 when reappointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He had earlier asked Asquith for the Viceroyalty of India. Asquith refused, but later asked him to take Ireland. Montagu declined. He considered himself unsuited for that, the Home Office, Colonial Secretary, or Secretary of State for India. He told Asquith that he might do well at the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Munitions, or the Local Government Board, that he aspired to be some day Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Ministry of Munitions came to him in July 1916. There he followed hard on the heels of Lloyd George, whose inspiration had harnessed disparate operations into coordinated service for the war effort. Montagu threw himself into the work with abandon, did well in organizing and streamlining the Ministry's work, and reflected on his six months there as his happiest and most effective work in government.26 While he was there, however, the storm-clouds gathered for the hurricane that would sweep Asquith from office and, as it turned out, break the Liberal Party. Montagu did everything possible to find some solution, but to no avail. Northcliffe and McKenna he considered the demons of discord, and against them neither he nor Reading could prevail. Arthur Henderson and Montagu, alone among the Liberal ministers, wanted to stay in the government. Henderson did. Meanwhile I find no common cause with my colleagues for refusing to join George's Government. They do not believe in George: I do. They felt that their resentment at the methods by which the Government had been formed ought to make them keep out of it. I felt the resentment too, but did not feel it ought to weigh with me in refusing. The one reason that I can put foward as a justification for keeping out is that my relations with Asquith and my affection for him would prevent me from doing my work in the new Government if I were haunted by the fear that I had deserted him in his needs. But the 212</page><page sequence="15">Edwin Montagu conviction is growing in me more and more that I cannot work with the organised Liberal Party which contains within its ranks so many people with whom I am in profound disagreement.27 Lloyd George understood Montagu's value and courted him throughout the 1916 intrigues. Montagu resisted, athough high office was tantalizingly dangled before him, for he still hoped that something could be worked out. He hoped for the Exchequer but understood that Bonar Law had demanded that. He understood that he was to have the India Office, but he disliked being shunted aside from the war effort. What actually came from Bonar Law was an offer of his old post as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He refused it.28 He encouraged the wooing, however, breakfasting with and meeting Lloyd George whenever he could, and passing observations about the general conduct of the Coalition privately to Lloyd George.29 That brought him part-way back into the government in January 1917 as acting chief of the Reconstruction Committee, of which Lloyd George was himself titular head. As always, what Montagu yearned for more than anything else was personal closeness. He even reduced it to doggerel. As the desert sand for rain As the Londoner for sun As the poor for potatoes As a landlord for rent As Drosera rotundefolia for a fly As Herbert Samuel for Palestine As a woman in Waterloo Road for a soldier I long for talk with you.30 By May 1917 Montagu had flung aside whatever Asquithian scruples remained. Still thinking Treasury, he talked about his good relationship with the City?with Cunliffe, Cokayne and Revelstoke, although India remained much on his mind. 'I am anxious', he told Lloyd George, 'to be the fore-runner of the young Liberals who will flock to your standard'.31 Montagu understood his value, and he also recognized?even exaggerated?his liabilities. 'Some object to me because I am an Asquithian, or supposed to be one. Some object to me because I am a Georgian, or supposed to be one. Some object to me because I have no commercial or industrial experience: others because?Ye Gods, how little they know!?I am a Capitalist. Some object to me because I am not a Labour man: others because I am a Socialist. Nearly all of them object to me because I am a Jew. This is a view which finds particular favour in the organs of freedom of religious opinion! (The Morning Post is not, I think, worthy of notice).'32 When Montagu prepared to join the government, he asked Asquith for his blessing, only to receive a measured, cool response. Asquith reminded Montagu 213</page><page sequence="16">Eugene Black that, in view of their past relations, he had 'trouble understanding, still more appreciating your reasons for the course you are taking. But, in these matters, every man must by guided by his own judgement &amp; conscience.'33 Thus sorrowfully did Montagu part from yet another father figure and lose yet another friend. Lloyd George offered Montagu the Ministry of Munitions, or a position as Minister without Portfolio to handle Reconstruction matters, on n June 1917.34 Montagu was preparing to take the latter when Austen Chamberlain resigned the India Office. Lloyd George immediately offered it to Montagu and the Ministry of Munitions to Churchill without even consulting the War Cabinet. Lord Derby believed it an opportunistic effort to snatch two of Asquith's ablest men.35 Whatever the explanation, both leapt aboard. For Montagu, this brought him into the government just as the question of a Zionist pledge came before that body. His brilliant memoranda, 'The Anti-Semitism of the Present Government' and 'Zionism', his cogent presentations before the War Cabinets of 3 September and 30 October 1917, and his fervent lobbying of the principals involved, secured delay, reconsideration, even amendment of the terms of what would become the Balfour Declaration. He wrote in his Indian Diary when he heard the news: 'The Government has dealt an irreparable blow at Jewish Britons, and they have endeavoured to set up a people which does not exist; they have alarmed unnecessarily the Mohammedan world... Why we should intern Mohammed Ali in India for Pan-Mohammedanism when we encourage Pan-Judaism, I cannot for the life of me understand. It certainly puts the date to my political activities.'36 India was demanding. Montagu found himself attempting to sell the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, the next trifling instalment of Indian self government to the Morely-Minto reforms, to dissatisfied Indians who found it far too little, and to British imperialists and civil servants who found it altogether too much. In India, and back in Britain, Montagu confronted deeply entrenched opponents and a government unpleasantly willing to compromise on crucial points. Montagu feared that India would become another Ireland, a constant theme in his correspondence and memoranda from 1918 to the passing of the Government of India Act in 1919. India delighted Montagu, and in its own way it devoured him. It gave him unique status at the Peace Conference over and above the roles Lloyd George chose to assign to him, such as the crucial tasks he performed in connection with the issue of Reparations. The Indian delegation sat with the British Empire delegation and could, on matters of interest to the Dominions and India, put memoranda directly into the Inter-Allied Conference. That ill-defined indepen? dence from Cabinet responsibility would ultimately lead to Montagu's dismissal. Montagu, as Secretary of State, however, had Indian reform, the Punjab riots and the Amritsar massacre to contend with in 1919, not merely the tortured 214</page><page sequence="17">Edwin Montagu peace negotiations in Paris. He warned Lloyd George against adventuring against Bolshevik Russia and pointed to the even greater danger, closer to home, of the other form of Bolshevism: 'The smash everything-ism, to hell with the existing order of things, which is cosmopolitan and arises out of overstrain and economic conditions. Every sacrifice you ask any country to make to fight against Russian Bolshevism increases and enforces the circumstances which promote international or spontaneous Bolshevism.'37 Always complaining of overwork and strain, Montagu finally suffered a breakdown early in 1920 and entered a sanatorium. Whether he was released earlier than he should have been, or whether passing into his forties had merely deepened his darker side, I do not know. His letters became even more depressed and depressing. His petulance was less relieved by gentle self-mockery. He did not stand up well to the House of Commons debate on 8 July 1920 on the Hunter Committee Report concerning the Riots of 1919. He said all the proper things?that Indian rule must be based on partnership, not on the domination of one race by another, that 'terrorism' as policy would ultimately lead to Britain's being driven out 'by the united opinion" of the civilised world'.38 But he was badly manhandled in the debate. Montagu's determination to push a reasonable Turkish peace settlement proved an increasing strain on his relations with Lloyd George. That the ultimate settlement, achieved by Curzon after both Montagu and Lloyd George had been removed from the scene, was what essentially Montagu had urged from the beginning, would have appealed to Montagu's darker side. The growing differences with the Prime Minister deprived Montagu of the closeness he wanted and needed in order to be effective. By early 1922 it was virtually all over. When Sir William Joynson-Hicks moved to censure Montagu on 14 February, Montagu was again ineffective, and Lloyd George complimented Joynson-Hicks, paid tribute to Britain as India's peacekeeper, and had not a word to say for Montagu. The publication of the confidential telegramme for which Montagu was dismissed was merely an excuse. Montagu joined Addison as an old Liberal Lloyd George had used and left. He was distraught. He could not deal with this rejection. 'I am sorry you thought my speech too bitter [he wrote to Lord Reading] but my heart is broken. First of all I seem to be so alone... I can see no political work or part at present ahead. I feel that my life of service has come to an end. I have indeed lost the work for which I was in politics at all and I'm too old to make a new occupation of usefulness easily... I shall probably leave Parliament and politics but I am going fallow for a bit.'39 The birth of a daughter, Judith, the following February, a flurry of activity in the City, the chairmanship of the British Financial Mission to Brazil?none of them could bring back what he had lost. He retreated from politics, which had been for so long the centre of his public life and to which he had given so much. 215</page><page sequence="18">Eugene Black The psychosomatic became real. Protesting his very real undying love for Venetia, delighted with his infant daughter, he retreated still further and further into his own past. His last word was 'Rosie', his beloved nursemaid. NOTES 1 V.G. Simmons, Funeral Address. Edwin S. Montagu (London [1924]) 4. 2 J. M. Keynes, Essays and Sketches in Biography (New York 1956) 190-1. 3 Lucien Wolf, Peace Conference Diary. 4 Waley, Montagu, 7-8. 5 Asquith-Stanley Letters. 6 'I spoke to father and he was very sweet to me, in spite of his great distaste for the whole thing. I told him we thought of being married on the 26th. Papa has made me put my whole vast fortune into settlement so we shan't be able to speculate with it as freely as I'd hoped, or at all!... He is in excellent spirits and now that he has got over his disagreeable interview quite delicious to me. He hates these personal conver? sations quite as much as I do.' VSM to ESM [c. 11 July 1915]. Waley, 68. 7 See the Montagu file BBK C/246. Beaver brook Papers. 8 See, e.g., the file of Cambridge Liberal Club Minutes and Reports, 22 Nov. 1886-4 Dec. 1896 in Montagu Papers, AS-IV-1/669. See also Montagu to Walter Runciman, 2 Nov. 1903, Runciman Papers [University of New? castle upon Tyne Library] WR 7. 9 Montagu and Bron Herbert (later Lord Lucas, President of the Ministry of Agriculture [1914] and killed in the RAF, aet 40, in 1915) travelled to Canada to build a case for Free Trade Liberal Imperialism. Their book, Canada and Her Empire (London 1904) (which Waley mistitles and dates published in 1903), based on extensive interviews, was published to counter Joseph Chamberlain's imperial preference pro? gramme. 'We are glad to think that trade now follows the flag, but we should not be anxious to establish a regime under which the flag might follow trade.' (p.99). 10 Edwin joined his cousin Herbert Samuel's Cleveland by-election campaign en? thusiastically in 1902, recruiting, among others, Charles Trevelyan to speak on Herbert's behalf. ESM to CPT, 28 Oct. 1902, Trevelyan Papers [University of Newcastle upon Tyne Library] CPT 9. 11 ESM to CPT, 17 Jan. 1902, Trevelyan Papers, CPT 9. 12 Waley, chap. I. 13 Waley, 31. 14 Runciman attempted to slide Charles Trevelyan into Montagu's position when he left it in 1914, but Asquith thought Charles Roberts the best choice. Runciman to Crewe, 16 Feb. 1914, Crewe Papers [Cambridge University Library] C 143; Asquith to Crewe, 13 Feb., 16 Feb. 1914, Crewe Papers, C/40. 15 Daily Mail, 7 July 1910; Waley, 39-40. 16 Waley, 41-2. Churchill reported Mon? tagu's 'masterly statement, covering the whole range of Indian policy &amp; occupying nearly two hours in delivery. His chief Lord Morley watched him from the gallery. It was a vy creditable effort &amp; indicated high intellectual qualities.' WSC to the King, 26 July 1910. Churchill CV, 11/12,1019. 17 Waley, 50. 18 1928 note. Beaverbrook filed the infor? mation with a Daily Express note that Venetia declined a Liberal Party invitation to stand for South Norfolk. Beaverbrook Papers, BBK C/247. Arnold Bennett, on the other hand, reported that Venetia 'leaves me absolutely cold'. Bennett to Masterman, 20 Mar. 1921, Masterman-Bennett Correspondence, Add. MS. 62,111, unf. 19 See, e.g., her letter to Beaverbrook suggesting that when she went to New York, they might meet in Florida. T think I should miss your love and companionship more than any other in ail the world. I've had it now very constantly for nearly 11 years and it is very precious to me'. VSM to B [c. 8 Jan. 1929]. See also the various financial and other gifts. Mrs Alexander to VSM, 17 Jan., 27 March 1929, VSM to B [28 Feb. 1929]. Venetia let Beaver? brook see an edited version of Asquith's letters to her which he then used in Politicians and the War. Beaverbrook also emphasized, at her urging, Edwin's role in trying to keep Asquith and Lloyd George together. B to VSM, 9 Apr. 1928 and her undated response; her return of the proofs, 17 Apr. 1928; and B to VSM, 27 Aug. 1928, Beaverbrook Papers C/247. Beaver? brook, although ostensibly close to Edwin as well as Venetia, was 'utterly callous' at 2l6</page><page sequence="19">Edwin Montagu Montagu's funeral, 'and could only retail sordid gossip of old intrigues'. T. Jones, Diary, 24 Nov. 1924, p.307. 20 Asquith, Crewe and Winston Churchill displayed very private but nonetheless real anxieties. 21 Montagu had considered the Irish prob? lem at length and sent a lengthy plan to Asquith and Lloyd George. See ESM to DLG, 30 Mar. 1914, Lloyd George Papers, C/1/1/13. Montagu would later sit on the Irish Situation Committee. See T. Jones to DLG, 15 June 1921, Lloyd George Papers F/25/1/42. 22 Montagu Papers (10) and Beaverbrook account. Addison had a less than generous portrait of Montagu during the 1916 crisis. 'He was a most miserable and unhappy man during these days and in a very difficult position. He was upset and hampered by the cowardice which is sometimes displayed by men of his type when in a tight corner.' Addison understood that Montagu owed everything to Asquith but desperately wished to continue in office, 'which he has filled well'. C. Addison, Four and a Half Years, 1,1914-1916 (London 1934), 275. 23 Bonham Carter, Drummond and Master ton Smith were the secretaries. The long memo? randa exist in the Montagu Papers at Trinity College in draft form and in the Asquith Papers at the Bodleian as sent. 24 'My opponent was a printer's compositor from Cambridge and had lived in that town for only four years?a man of little personality and much windy Hyde Park oratory. Almost alone he has organised the Farm Labourers' Union in the County and has succeeded in getting about 4,000 members. He had no organisation for the fight at all. His Agent used constantly to come to me and my Agent for information and assistance. He started the campaign with ?10 and raised all the money necessary, over ?500, by half-crown subscriptions. He conducted most of his campaign on a bicycle or on foot.' And from this Montagu launched into a most intelli? gent review of what a constituency like his needed from a reconstruction government. ESM to DLG, private and personal, 16 Dec. 1918, Lloyd George Papers, F/40/2/24. 25 VS to ESM. Trinity Coll Ms, and Waley, 66-7. Venetia, however, remained faithful, in her own way, to her 'conversion'. See her letter to 'Darling Max', when worried about the medical bulletin on Winston Churchill: 'but I hope &amp; pray (in real if I weren't a hard bitten old judeo-atheist) on his rapid recovery'. VSM to B, 18 Dec. 1943, Beaverbrook Papers, BBK C/247. 26 Waley, chap. VII. 27 Montagu MS and Reading MS, India Office. See ESM's letter to Lloyd George of 15 Oct. 1917 to be delivered after his death, Lloyd George Papers G/15/1 /1. 28 ESM to Bonar Law, 13 Dec. 1916, Bonar Law Papers BL81/1/58. Montagu also immedi? ately wrote to Lloyd George: 'I am with you in your great task... I admire very much the characteristic courage and ingenuity with which you have formed it. I am full of ideas and I know that you will not deny me the oppor? tunity of putting some of them before you... I always rested secure, and do so still, in your friendship and appreciation of the work which I have been able to do during the war, mainly, I shall remember to my ever lasting gratification, in close accord with you.' He also made it clear that he was slightly hurt that Lloyd George had asked Addison to assume the Ministry of Munitions rather than have Montagu continue. ESM to DLG, 13 Dec. 1916, Lloyd George Papers F/39/3/i- Montagu immediately followed this by observing: 'I do not lack conceit or self confidence. I do think I am of service in council or as an administrator?but to create a new office or to dragoon a nation you want sterner stuff. ESM to DLG, 18 Dec. 1916, Lloyd George Papers F/39/3/2. Montagu's own version of events in Asquith's overthrow, to be found in the Beaverbrook papers, furnished a crucial part of Beaverbrook's book. As trouble grew, Mon? tagu attempted to put a word in Margot Asquith's ear by suggesting that Churchill had lost the confidence of the admirals, McKenna that of the financial community, and that the entrenched opposition to every Lloyd George proposal guaranteed trouble. ESM to Margot Asquith (draft, not sent), 8 Aug. 1916, Mon? tagu papers, AS-V-1/1140/1-4. 29 ESM to DLG, 25 Jan. 1917, Lloyd George Papers F/39/3/3/, and do. to do., personal and private, 24 Feb. 1917, for instance, praises Cave's ability as a parliamentarian to pilot bills through the House of Commons, citing Samuel and Simon from the previous government as sharing that capacity. Montagu Papers, AS V-i/1145/1-10. Montagu, at the same time, remained cordial but politically detached when turning down yet another proposal from Bonar Law, ESM to BL, 22 Jan. 1917, Bonar Law Papers, BL 81/2/20. 30 When asking him to either breakfast or 217</page><page sequence="20">Eugene Black dinner the next day, 28 March 1917, Lloyd George Papers F/39/3/10. 31 ESM to LG, personal and private, 1 May 1917, Montagu Papers AS-IV-3/687/8, 1-9. The version actually sent has some fascinating marginal emendations by Montagu, Lloyd George Papers, F/39/3/11. 32 ESM to LG, draft, 14 July [1917L Montagu papers, AS-IV-3/688/4. Montagu had, for months, been encouraging Lloyd George and attempting to defuse critics, even to bring such people as Eric Drummond on board the Government. See, e.g., ESM to DLG, 25 Jan., 22 Feb., 3 Mar., 1917, Lloyd George Papers, F/39/3/3-5. 33 HHA to ESM, Personal, 19 June 1917, Montagu Papers, A-VI-11/2123. 34 ESM to DLG, 11 June 1917, Lloyd George Papers. ESM to Bonar Law, 25 June 1917, Bonar Law Papers, BL 82/1/19. 35 R. Churchill, Derby, 281-2; ESM to DLG, 17 July 1917, Lloyd George Papers. 36 Montagu, Indian Diary, 11 Nov. 1917. Also in Waley, 141. Leonard Stein's cutting observation that Montagu was a political oppor? tunist who feared Zionist success would endan? ger his political standing in British political life seems to me incorrect and surprisingly spiteful. Stein, Balfour Declaration, 497. For the degree to which Lloyd George had backed away from the 1917 Cabinet position into a Montagu-like stance, see the Secret Minute of a Conversation, 3 July 1922, S-49, CAB 23/36/106-107. 37 ESM to DLG, 14 Feb. 1919, GT 6861, CAB 24/79/275. 3 8 Quoted in Waley, 231. 39 ESM to Reading, 19 Apr. 1922. Two days later, he was still in total despair. 'I still find little or no light. I want something to do: I do not know what'. ESM to R, 21 Apr. 1922, Reading Papers, India Office, MSS Eur F 118/95. 218</page></plain_text>

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