14th May, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-13.6.25)

My dear P.M.,

I drove Sir Maurice [1] and Lady Hankey down to General Seely's [2] place in the Isle of Wight for the last week-end.

He has a moderately large but very pleasant place on the south- west of the island and owns 4,000 acres, which have been in the possession of his family for 100 years. He married twice and has a family of eight. His present wife was a daughter of Lord Elibank.

Although the subject was never openly discussed with me, I gathered from Hankey that he was very disappointed that he was not to be the Governor-General. The subject was evidently opened with him as early as last December, and he had counted on getting the appointment to the extent of making plans for the disposal of his property and for the refusal of contracts for the writing of a series of articles to the press, which I understand is, in his case, a very lucrative occupation.

He told me himself, in confidence, that he had been offered and had refused the Governor-Generalship in 1911, when he was Under- Secretary of State for War.

Practically his sole occupation at present is that of filling the position of Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight.

No doubt the shadow of his resignation from the Cabinet, when he was Secretary of State for War in early 1914, still hangs over him.

In conversation with Seely, he claims to have been the instrument that worked to convert the House of Commons generally to Imperial Preference, and to have been so successful with his propaganda with various parties that it was lost on the division by only seven votes.

I saw Amery [3] yesterday. He told me about the forthcoming appointment of Sir John Baird. [4] Also that he was glad that the proposed alterations in the organisation of the Colonial Office were to your liking. He said that all the Dominions had similarly approved, which he was glad of. Although, of course, such a point of internal home organisation was a matter for H.M.G. alone, they wanted to carry all the Dominions along with them. He said that he had had several letters from people in England to the effect that communications between H.M.G. and the Dominions on Foreign Relations should be direct from the F.O. or direct between Prime Ministers. However, he did not think so on the whole, although he knew that there was something to be said on the other side. He then elaborated the usual arguments which you know.

He said that on his recent trip he was very gratified to find Iraq quiet and peaceful, with good prospects for the future. The Kurd rebellion against the Turks was rather a help to us than otherwise, as it shows us that we can enlist the aid of the Kurds against the Turks without much trouble in the future should the Turks become offensive to us.

He said that if and when the time comes for us to bolster up either one or both of Turkey and Persia against the Bolshevists, Iraq is ideally placed to do so from, both from the point of view of moral and material support.

A brief report of his trip is to be circulated as a Cabinet paper, which I will send you.

With regard to Sir John Baird, Hankey tells me very confidentially that he is one of the few people he cannot get on with. He says he is pompous and impossible, and has not been much of a success at any job he has attempted.

I gather from Hankey and other sources that he is a pleasant enough little man, without much character or vice. He has served his party well, and was 'left' to Baldwin [5] from Bonar Law [6] as someone for whom 'something should be done'. He is said to have money, although is not particularly well off. His wife is said to be suitable.

Since my cable to you of April 3rd, I have heard nothing of the negotiations, otherwise I would have cabled you the not very flattering account of Baird, which I have every reason to think is an accurate picture. It is too late now to cable you as Amery tells me it is all fixed up.

With regard to the Foreign Office -Tyrrell [7], of course, is not yet quite firmly in the saddle. As you will realise, the permanent officials in order of importance at the Foreign Office now are- Tyrrell, Wellesley [8] and Gregory. [9] Wellesley is of little importance. Tyrrell and Gregory are Roman Catholics. There are people who affect to be a good deal concerned about the control that will now be in the hands of these two Catholic officials. A point I did not know until recently is that Sir Eric Drummond [10], whom I mentioned before as having been in the running for the Permanent Under Secretaryship of State for Foreign Affairs, is also a Roman Catholic. As a matter of gossip one hears it said that Gregory is 'the friend of every Cardinal in Europe'.

The League of Nations Union makes a very brave show in this country but they suffer a little from the University professor type and the semipacifist. The fact of Labour having backed the Protocol, and the League of Nations Union having also thrown what weight it has behind it, has not done the League of Nations Union any good. During the period that the Protocol was being considered in this country, the Press was bombarded with eulogies of praise of the Protocol from Parmoor [11], Gilbert Murray [12] and others.

Although there is a branch of the League of Nations Union in Paris, I understand that it has no real counterpart either in France or Italy.

The League of Nations Union may be said to be a healthy organisation of [13] people, who have the rather vaguely conceived idea that a League of Nations is the only way of salvation for the world. They take it all rather on trust, and but few of them have thought out the difficulties. They want to make it grow too fast and put tasks up to it with which it is not sufficiently strong to deal. They tend to become impatient when told that years must pass before the League can gather prestige and strength. They say that this has been said of every movement and that you never know what you can do till you try.

It all seems to me to boil down to the fact that the League can undoubtedly deal effectually with cold-blooded arguments and differences between nations, but that it will be a long time, if ever, before it can deal with the hot-blooded pothouse brawls in which national honour is said to be at stake. Possibly severe automatic sanctions against an aggressor would deter a nation from striking even in defence of its honour, but even if it was to the interests of every nation to agree in advance to such automatic sanctions, I believe that they would in practice hesitate in putting them into effect, and would be swayed, firstly, by their own interests and, secondly, by the merits of a dispute when it arose.

With regard to the 'leak' of the 'Nicolson' [14] F.O. document on 'British Foreign Policy' [15], I am told by a man in the Foreign Office that a typewritten copy of the document was hawked round Fleet Street for some time and no one would buy it as they doubted its authenticity. Efforts, which will probably come to nothing, are being made again to trace the leak, which is thought to be through carelessness in high quarters. You will see the shadow of the stir that has been caused in this week's press cuttings.

Popular rumour credits a good many 'leaks' to Birkenhead [16] and Winston Churchill [17], and to a lesser extent to Worthington- Evans. [18] They are great diners-out, do themselves very well, are good and entertaining talkers, and have many friends who are on the lookout for ready means of information, particularly those that originate with highly placed servants of the State.

Such leaks are unpleasant in that they throw suspicion on all those to whom the information was available.

I happened to be standing close by at a function recently when Jellicoe [19] met Beatty [20], evidently for the first time since the former returned from New Zealand. The conversation lasted only a minute and was quite formal. Naturally no love is lost between them. [21]

I hear that Admiral Everett [22] has just returned from Singapore, or, as it was told to me by a man in the Admiralty, was brought back from Singapore by Roy, his Private Secretary. He has apparently had a breakdown and has been suffering considerably from bad lack of memory. I am told that it is the end of him as far as any serious work goes in the future.

Hankey considers that the C.I.D. sub-Committee on Anti-Aircraft Defence Research, (mentioned in my LON. 55) is bringing to light more hopeful possibilities than was at first expected.

I forward, under separate confidential cover, a brief resume of the deliberations of the first meeting. They are naturally inconclusive, and really as yet of no great value to us, other than as an indication to your technical advisers of the way the minds of experts are working in this regard.

The Cabinet meeting yesterday, May 13th, did not take any subjects of any interest to us. All home affairs matters -unemployment, the impending international labour conference (instructions to British delegates), housing, rating reform, etc.

I enclose copy of a letter from a highly placed Naval Officer to Hankey, who asks me not to quote his name. His comments are interesting and incisive.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 See note 18 to Letter 19.

3 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies.

4 Conservative M.P. 1910-25, Minister of Transport and First Commissioner of Works 1922-24, elevated to the peerage as Lord Stonehaven on his appointment as Governor-General of Australia in 1925.

5 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.

6 Andrew Bonar Law, Prime Minister 1922-23.

7 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

8 Victor Wellesley, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

9 J. D. Gregory, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

See notes 7-8 to Letter 92 and notes 17-20 to Letter 93.

10 Secretary-General of the League of Nations.

11 Lord Parmoor, lawyer, churchman and Conservative turned Labour politician; Lord President of the Council in the Labour Government of 1924.

12 Australian-born Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford and Chairman of the League of Nations Union; brother of Sir Hubert Murray, Lieutenant-Governor of Papua.

13 Casey omitted to fill in by hand a gap left for an adjective.

14 Harold Nicolson, diplomat and author, at the time Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

15 On 11 May 1925 the London Morning Herald reported publication by a New York newspaper of a secret Foreign Office memorandum for the Cabinet on desirable principles of British foreign policy. The memorandum urged realism rather than altruism, noted the weakness of the League of Nations, saw the U.S.S. R. as a menace, warned that no single power must be allowed to dominate the Channel and advised that French and Belgian security should be guaranteed- even, if necessary, by treaty.

16 Lord Birkenhead, Secretary for India.

17 Chancellor of the Exchequer.

18 Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Secretary for War. The last three names were handwritten by Casey.

19 Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe, Governor-General of New Zealand 1920-24.

20 Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, First Sea Lord.

21 The stolid Jellicoe and the more flamboyant Beatty for long had been in conflict as much on grounds of temperament as on those of naval politics. As fleet commander at the Battle of Jutland, for example, Jellicoe had complained of Beatty's dangerous impetuosity as commander of a battle cruiser squadron. After the war, however, their rivalry developed a political edge. As GovernorGeneral of New Zealand and adviser to Australia, Jellicoe had championed dominion naval autonomy against attempts by Beatty at the Admiralty to reassert central imperial control.

22 Admiral Sir Allan Everett had served as Australia's Chief of the Naval Staff 1921-23, and in 1925 had just completed a year as Commander-in-Chief of the China Station.