OCTOBER 1880 – MAY 1882
HAWARDEN, October 18th, 1880.
—There is something awful in closing my last book, which lasted six years, and contained the most terrible experience of my life, and opening this new one with the trembling thought of "what may and must be coming." 0 Lord, Thou knowest.
Monday we came to Hawarden. Find Great People very prosperous. Uncle W. at his very best, and in buoyant spirits. Heard from Auntie P. and Mazy much that was most interesting about the late Dulcigno business. Uncle W. was in London straining every nerve to keep all the Powers up to the scratch. The Sultan appears to have reckoned on their splitting, and thus risked his intensely impudent refusal and defiance some little time ago. This performance only did good, and drew the Powers nearer together, as all were insulted. The Sultan, however, continued to snap his fingers at the Naval Demonstration; but an effective screw was found in Uncle W.'s plan of seizing upon the Custom-house of Smyrna and stopping all its trade. (I believe this was Uncle W.'s own notion, but Mr. Childers seems to have hit upon it too, with collusion!) There remained a mighty difficulty in getting all the Powers to join in this step; but, by God's good providence, the Sultan no sooner was informed of the threat, than he at once "caved in"! — little guessing that on the same day France, Germany, and Austria had all declined to take part in the seizure. (It is, however, very likely that the step would have been taken by England and the others, as "mandatories" of the will of Europe.) Uncle W. wrote to Auntie P. in great joy and thankfulness, saying the question had begun by being a small one but had grown large: "It is the working of the European Concert for purposes of justice, peace, and liberty, with efficiency and success, which is the great matter at issue. That has always been the ideal of my life in Foreign Policy; and if this goes forward rightly to the end it will be the most conspicuous instance yet recorded, the best case of success achieved." The letter begins: "A large sheet for a good day, and good news.... It is that the Sultan, learning yesterday fr Paris that we had proposed to the Powers to seize upon Smyrna, determined to give in!
"Praise to the Highest* in the height,
And in the depth be praise ;
In all His works most wonderful,
Most sure in all His ways."
[*FN: . It ought to be Holiest. (Lady Frederick's note.)]
He got back to Hawarden next day (October 11th), and when they all joyfully welcomed him, he was quite niobe.