15th March, 1928


My dear P.M.,

Hankey [1] has had the reading of Ronaldshay's [2] three volume biography of Curzon [3], in order to censor any references that it might be ill-advised to publish from the point of view of His Majesty's Government. The first volume is out and has attracted great attention; there have been front page reviews in all the papers. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that Curzon was a really first-class second rate man, with great ambition and an inferiority complex. This Hankey confirms. He reminds one that Balfour [4] once said to him: 'You know, I would never describe George as an English gentleman.' Hankey says you never felt quite comfortable in putting yourself entirely in Curzon's hands as you were so often let down.

Balfour has had all his teeth out and it has set the old man back a good deal. He is in his 80th year and Hankey, who goes to see him, says he is rather worried about him.

I enclose letter I have had from Gregory [5] to whom I wrote saying how sorry I was at his misfortune.

On the general and entertaining subject of wars and how to pay for them, Dean Inge, in his book 'England' [6], says:-

... But it is certain that in the next great war all who have anything to lose will lose it, and the bureaucrats who in 1914 fancied that war would be an antidote to revolution made a tremendous miscalculation. It seems, therefore, unlikely that we shall see any more wars favoured or supported by capitalists; nor is it easy to see how a great war could be made without the support of capitalists ...

The book itself is rather remarkable for the amount of material and opinions that can be got into a small space. I am sending it out to the External Affairs Library with a number of other books by this and the next mail. It would interest you to look through.

I have looked through several books on the modern economic position lately, but without any great measure of profit to myself. They seem to be an indigestible mixture of the obvious and the unintelligible.

If the subject has any interest for you in Australia, you will see by the 'Times' of recent date that His Majesty's Government has lifted the ban on controversial questions being broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

I saw Amery [7] today.

With regard to the proposal that was telegraphed to you regarding the utilisation of 25,000 of the Empire Marketing Board's grant for the British Industrial Exhibition, he is, of course, very much against any such precedent and says that the suggestion would have been nipped in the bud at birth had he been here. However, he was able to influence matters and is very glad that it has ended happily. [8]

Sir Hugh Denison [9] has had a talk to Mr. Amery and has put his arguments to him for the establishment of an Australian Legation at Washington. Amery has an open mind on the subject and says that he is not now appalled by the idea (as he infers that he once was) of all the Dominions eventually having Legations at Washington.

However, he thinks that it is not a procedure that need be unduly hastened. He likes the idea of an Australian Counsellor in the British Embassy at Washington in the meantime and said that if this was done, the Australian Counsellor should undoubtedly have some measure of authority over the Australian Trade Commissioner's office in New York.

He rather warmed to the subject as he talked about it and said that the Australian Counsellor in the Embassy would be able to do all the useful work that an Australian Minister could do, at a fraction of the expense. He would be able to make for himself a special position in the Embassy as the Ambassador would realise that he was there to carry through, with the help and prestige of the Embassy, any particular diplomatic business that specially concerned Australia. He would be able to put words into the mouth of the Ambassador that would be more valuable and far-reaching coming from the British Ambassador, than they would be in the mouth of an Australian Minister.

With regard to the 'Big Four' [10], I told him what J. H. Thomas [11] had said about a 'Big Labour Four' going to Australia after the British elections. [12] He at once took to the idea of an 'Industrial Relations Four' and said that it might have the germ of a good idea in it. But he said that at first sight it appeared to him that a better scheme would be to have two intelligent employers and two intelligent and enlightened Labour men. He inferred that it was probably just as necessary to have two employers with their feet on the ground to talk to some of our rather sticky and conservative Australian employers as it was to have sensible Labour men to talk to our labour people.

The state of the judicial Committee of the Privy Council is rather on Amery's mind. He says that it is notoriously weak owing to the age and decrepitude of its members (as he said, Mr. Latham [13] well knows) and that it is overdue for reform. He has sympathy with the Dominions' idea of unifying the system of appeal to the Lords and to the Privy Council. As he worked himself into this subject, he said that he wished that Australia would send one of its judges to London to sit as a permanent member of the Judicial Committee. There are two members of the Federal High Court (Knox [14] and Isaacs [15]) who are Privy Councillors. He would like to see all the Dominions follow such an example.

Mr. Amery said that he had seen and talked to Hancock (Professor of History in the University of Adelaide) when in South Australia and that the latter had told him that he had it in mind to apply for a vacancy in the External Affairs Department. [16] Amery encouraged him in the idea and thinks that he would be an admirable man for our work.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 Lord Ronaldshay, A.D.C. to Lord Curzon in India 1899-1905, Governor of Bengal 1917-22, President of the Royal Geographical Society 1922-25.

3 The Life of Lord Curzon, 3 vols, Ernest Benn, London, 1928-29.

Lord Curzon had been Viceroy of India 1899-1905, and, inter alia, Lord Privy Seal 1915-16, President of the Air Board 1916, Lord President of the Council 1916-19 and 1924-25 and Foreign Secretary 1919-24. He died in 1925.

4 Lord Balfour, Lord President of the Council. He had been Prime Minister 1902-05 and was influential in the decision of King George V to call on Stanley Baldwin rather than Curzon to form a government in 1923.

5 J.D. Gregory, dismissed from his post of Assistant Under- Secretary at the Foreign Office for involvement in currency speculation (see Letter 93).

6 W.R. Inge, England, (The Modern World: A Survey of Historical Forces, vol. 7), Ernest Benn, London, 1926. Inge was Dean of St Paul's, London.

7 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

8 Opposition stemmed from fears that a precedent would be created to finance advertising of British manufactured goods from Empire Marketing Board funds. See letter of 16 February 1928 from F. L.

McDougall to Bruce on file AA:M111.

9 Australian Commissioner in the United States 1926-28.

10 See note 22 to Letter 85.

11 General Secretary of the National Railwaymen's Union, and Colonial Secretary in the Labour Government of 1924.

12 See Letter 108.

13 J.G. Latham, Commonwealth Attorney-General.

14 Sir Adrian Knox, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

15 Sir Isaac Isaacs, a Justice of the High Court of Australia, subsequently Governor-General 1931-36.

16 W.K. (later Sir Keith) Hancock in fact pursued a brilliant career as a historian in Oxford, Birmingham and, finally, Canberra.