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  • ID: I11020
  • Name: Arthur James BALFOUR
  • Given Name: Arthur James
  • Surname: Balfour
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 25 JUL 1848
  • Death: 19 MAR 1930 in London
  • Burial: Whittinghame
  • Note:
    named after his godfather, the Duke of Wellington

    [From Paul Harris: Life In A Scottish Country House (1989)]:
    "When Lady Blanche [Arthur's long-widowed mother] died in 1872, at the early age of 47 years, she was interred in the family cemetery in the grounds of the House. Within the next decade, unexpected tragedy was to strike the Balfour household twice again. Two of Arthur's brothers were to die at comparatively early ages. The second son, Cecil, a drunk, was to die in Australia in 1881 after falling from his horse. He had gone there under something of a cloud, if not as the black sheep of the family, having forged a cheque with Arthur's name. The third son, Francis Maitland Balfour, known as Frank, died climbing on Aiguille de Penteret, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, in Switzerland in June 1882.
    "A J Balfour had, in fact, assumed responsibility for running Whittingehame House, the estate and its twenty farms immediately upon achieving his majority on July 25 1869, although he had made his firs speech to a thering of the tenantry at the early age f twelve. At fourteen he had left his preparatory school for Eton, a difficult regime for a young bespectacled intellectual in the making. After Eton there was Trinity, Cambridge, where he gained a Second in Moral Science.
    "In the July of his Tripos year he came of age and at Whittingehame there were bonfires, church bells and all the other celebrations traditionally associated with the majority of a young laird. There was a dinner with an elaborate menu prepared by a French chef and two double magnums of claret presented at the birth of the young heir were drunk. There were formal speeches. Young Balfour replied to those of his uncles, Lord Salisbury and Charles Balfour of Newton Don, and the Reverend James Robertson responded for the Clergy, expressing his gratification for the fact that Mr Balfour was a member of the Church of Scotland (presumably in the light of the fact that so many members of the landowning classes at that time were Episcopalians).
    Throughout his life, Balfour was to live at Whittingehame, during the summer and holiday periods and, when Parliament was in session, he generally stayed at his London residence at 4 CarIton Gardens, which he acquired in 1870, or, occasionally, at the Salisbury home at Hatfield House. When he took over the running of Whittingehame House it was a sober and lifeless place. His mother, Lady Blanche, had never enjoyed good health and was terminally ill. It was a long time since the great public rooms on the ground floor had been used on any sort of regular basis. But all this was to change quite rapidly as a new world opened up for the young A J Balfour. In July of 1870, he stayed at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire, a guest of his university friend and fellow music lover, Spencer Lyttelton.
    "There came his introduction to the closely interwoven worlds of the Gladstone and Lyttelton families. Spencer Lyttelton was the fourth son of the fourth Baron Lyttelton, who had married Mary Glynne. Her sister, Catherine Glynne, had married W E Gladstone, at a joyous double wedding in 1839. As a result of these two simultaneous unions a network of seven Gladstone and twelve Lyttelton cousins came into being and it was into this circle that Balfour now found himself introduced. It was a circle with which he was to be closely involved through his life and which, in turn, was to lead directly to the establishment of the group known as 'The Souls'. At Hagley that first weekend he met Mary Gladstone, the third daughter of the Liberal leader, and Lavinia Lyttelton, both of whom were to become friends for life. Spencer's sister, May Lyttelton, was also there and the nascent relationship between her and Balfour is generally considered to have had a profound effect on his personal development.
    "It is widely considered that Balfour was captivated by this young, lively girl and it is often suggested that it was Balfour's firm intention to propose marriage. There is no direct evidence of this but Mary Gladstone's observations and correspondence sometimes suggest this view. The liaison, however, was not to be. Despite a certain easy charm with the fairer sex, Balfour never appeared to get to the point of proposing marriage and in January 1875, May Lyttelton was to contract typhoid fever and die some ten weeks later. The young Balfour was observed to be devastated.
    "But the house party in the summer of 1870 was a roaring success and the next month A J invited them all to Whittingehame. Mary Gladstone, later Mary Drew, recorded: "Big party - Gladstones, Lady Rayleigh, Strutts, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Polwarth, 4 brothers Balfour. With stupendous and unheard of energy we sang ... and at 11.45 p.m. started off on a walk to the garden, guided about in total darkness by the four brothers, pushed up hills, supported down dales . .". There were games, picnics and much merriment and laughter. The House began to live again and the period 1870-74 at Whittingehame was marked by an energy and gaiety, but which came to an end with the death of May Lyttelton.
    "In an unpublished memoir of Arthur Balfour, dated September 1917, Mary Drew was to write of this period. 'I have never again seen quite the same lightness of heart and freedom from worries as between the years 1870 and 1880, though much of his gaiety of heart has come back under the influence of his home circle.' Mary Gladstone was at Whittingehame with Balfour in the summer of 1871, autumn of 1872 and the summer of 1874, besides being in his company on house parties at Hatfield, Hawarden, Hagley and Strathconan (the Balfour estate in the Highlands).
    "In 1874 Balfour became MP for Hertford and he was launched upon his political career in the new Parliament of Disraeli. Initially, it was undistinguished and by the end of 1875 he had still not spoken in the House of Commons. When he made his maiden speech in the following year it was on the subject of Indian currency: it was a subject which appealed to his abstruse intellectual abilities and was suitably non-contentious for a first contribution. In 1878 he became private secretary to his uncle, Lord Salisbury.
    "In 1886, after ten years of fairly undistinguished service, Balfour was appointed to his first Government post, Secretary for Scotland, by his uncle Robert Cecil (Lord Salisbury), which piece of neat nepotism gave rise to the popular saying, "Bob's your uncle". The following year, he became Chief Secretary for Ireland. This was not only a post with very considerable potential but, as ever, replete with dangers. To the alarm of the rest of the family, AJ now carried a revolver on his tours of House and estate and two Scotland Yard detectives stalked him wherever he went lest Irish terrorists made their appearance! This tended to irritate Balfour who took pleasure in giving his guards the slip, often sneaking out of the house by the side door, mashie in hand, to practise his golf swing while the detectives lurked unsuspectingly at the front door. His sister Alice complained that all they were concerned with was making amorous advances to the maids - on top of which they allegedly ate more than all the footmen put together !
    "In the early 1880s, the social whirl which had marked life at Whittingehame was replaced by an essentially family atmosphere in which A J Balfour, as head of the household, was surrounded by his brothers and sisters and a multitude of nieces. The whole household "revolved like the solar system around the sun, worshipping him with an unveiled idolatry of which he seemed to be sublimely unconscious,- according to Lady Elcho. As a result of the political connections, the House was regularly visited by many of the politicians and intellectuals of the day. It became a regular meeting place of the group known as The Souls, which grew out of the Lyttelton-Gladstone connections."

    {Notes from neice Blanche Dugdale's Life:
    ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR Vol I pps 321-327]

    " A little more remains to be said about the final year of office. The signature of the Japanese Treaty in August 1905 had removed one reason for the delay of the General Election. The others seemed to be concerned with Party tactics, the expediency of an autumn Election, and the pros and cons of resignation or dissolution. Balfour's correspondence in the summer shows how conflicting advice poured upon him from every quarter of the Conservative camp. Some colleagues, more concerned with getting their own work done than with the state of the Party, urged meeting Parliament again in 1906. Party managers on the whole wanted an autumn Election in 1905. Balfour listened to them all, and chose his own date --December 4th, 1905--for resignation. He explained in a speech a week later why he had taken this course while still unbeaten in any important Division in the House of Commons. His Government, he said, would have been bound to bring in a Redistribution Bill if it stayed in office, and, in the absence of the stimulus of an accompanying Franchise Bill, the Party had not the "unanimous vigour" required to carry such a measure, owing to the " continued habit of mutual recrimination on the fiscal question." So much for his reasons for quitting office. His motives for holding on so long are less easily explained, but a chance remark of his threw a new light upon one of them in after years. He made it after the War, to Major Edward Lascelles, then his Private Secretary, and husband of his niece Joan. They had been talking of the electoral defeat of 1906, and Major Lascelles asked him why he had carried on through 1905, when factions were obviously bringing the Party into increasing discredit. Baliour cited the argument of the Japanese Treaty, and--after a pause of deep thought--he added that one other thing had weighed with him greatly, although he believed he had mentioned his anxiety to nobody. This was the matter of the 18-pounder gun. Major Lascelles appreciated the interest of this observation, for these were the guns which were first fired in earnest in Flanders in August 1914.

    " After the experiences of the South African campaign, the Cabinet had determined to undertake without further delay the tremendous operation of re-arming the Artillery with quick-firing guns. This revolution--only second in importance to the change from smooth-bore to rifling forty years earlier--was imposed upon all military nations at the turn of the nineteenth century by the advances made in the application of the quick-firing principle. A change-over of weapons is a dangerous adventure, both from the political and technical point of view. It may be as fatal to undertake it too soon as too late. After the enterprise was decided upon in 1901, more than two years were spent in working out the designs. In 1903, the Special Committee were on the verge of a unanimous recommendation of two types--a 13-pounder for the Horse Artillery, an 18-pounder for the Field Artillery. Four batteries of this equipment were ready when a "Minute of Dissent" was put in. The smaller gun was giving better results in trials, and the 18-pounder was criticised as falling between the two requirements of mobility and power. It was suggested therefore that both Horse and Field Artillery should be armed with the 13-pounder, firing a 14-and-a-half-pound shell. Uniformity of type would have great advantages, especially in the British Empire, where field artillery may have to work over all sorts of country, and often with mounted troops. Expert opinion was divided. The Special Committee stuck to their original recommendations, but the War Minister, Mr. Arnold Forster, was not satisfied, called for the individual views of other officers, and finally referred the question to the Prime Minister :
    WAR OFFICE, 15th July 1904
    I send herewith the paper on the new Field Gun about which I spoke to you. If you have leisure, I beg you will read it. Perhaps you will be more moved by the remarks of my colleagues than I am, I hope so. If you are not I think it might be worth while to bring the matter up before the Committee of Imperial Defence. I think you will admit that I am in a difficulty. All my technical advisers are dead against me, and yet, on my
    conscience I believe they are wrong. I shall be delighted to find that you agree with them and not with me, because my mind will be at case, which at present it is not.
    Believe me, Yours very truly, H. O. ARNOLD FORSTER.

    " Balfour had been following the technical aspects of the question. When appealed to, he came down on the side of the Special Committee and the 18-pounder gun. The way
    seemed clear after this, but difficulties arose with the Departments and the manufacturers. The orders were only actually placed on Christmas Eve 1904. Before then, articles had appeared in the newspapers attacking the Government for the delay, and The Times had one on December 15th evidently inspired by a well-informed correspondent. Mr. Arnold Forster was worried by the criticism, and drafted a defence. BaIfour wrote to him:
    CHATSWORTH. Jan. 5th, 1905.
    I think your Memorandum on Guns powerfully written, and very interesting. I am not sure, however, that you would be well advised in publishing it,--at all events for the present : and for the following reason : The Opposition, . . . are without doubt going to do their best to make this gun question the theme of an attack on you and upon the Government. To make public your whole case now is to give them a month, or more, to get up their reply. Your Office is, and always has been, leaky. It has not always been loyal to its Chief ; and any information that could be twisted into a reply to your arguments would certainly be supplied to the Opposition critics.
    Moreover, it is almost impossible for you to give your whole defence. There is, for example, no reference in your proposed letter to an episode which struck me rather painfully when you told me about it towards the end of October : I mean the delay due to the difficulty which both Woolwich and the private firms had found in providing nickel steel which would stand the tests, and the ignorance in which you were kept both of the fact of the consequent delay and of its cause.
    The people who profess to have private information from the War Office do not hesitate to assert that the consideration given--and, in my opinion, most properly given--to the scheme of the Ordnance Committee, which requires the field gun to be of a different calibre from the horse artillery, was a blameworthy cause of delay. Can this be substantiated against all comers ?
    Do you not think, by the way, that you unduly deprecate our old field guns ? Many of them, no doubt, have greatly deteriorated from use in the South African War : but this is not true of the guns in India, which are those most likely to be required if hostilities broke out. And I have some doubts whether ihe old 15-pounder, if in good order, is a materially less effective weapon than the present German or Japanese gun. On this point, however, I speak with diffidence.
    Of course, my objection to the publication of your letter, which I do not wish to press against a strong conviction of your own, does not extend to statements in speeches by yourself or other members of the Government, to the effect that our critics are under a complete misapprehension as to what has really occurred in connection with the new gun.

    " Balfour had written to King Edward on December 29th, 1904, expressing his relief that the order for the gunswas given at last. If this had been the end of the story it would be difficult to explain his remark to Major Lascelles about the connection between his anxiety over the guns and the date of a General Election a year later. But the correspondence shows the eager interest with which he followed the inevitable technical troubles of the first experiments, and he wanted to see them through. The trials had been made with fuses manufactured by Krupp. The change to English measurements caused delay. King Edward himself was the unconscious cause of the discovery of a serious weakness. He wanted to see the first batteries, and two of them came up by road from Woolwich to Buckingham Palace on May 15th, 1905. When they returned, half the tubes in which the ammunition was carried in the limbers had given way. The guns had come successfully through their travelling trials on Dartmoor, and at first the accident seemed inexplicable. It was due to the long trot over the granite setts of the Old Kent Road--a kind of test that might otherwise never have been made till the guns were jolting over the pavé on the road to Mons."

    " Balfour remarked in a letter written in 1911 that 'the greatest victory at the polls ever won by any Party was won upon no policy at all--C.-B.'s victory in 1906.' The strongest swimmer is helpess in the undertow of the ebbing tide. Balfour experienced the new sensation of fighting a losing battle. His spirits rose to the stimulus. He delivered the best platform speeches of his life, during the ten grim January days in which Manchester rain pelted unceasingly upon Manchester cobble-stones. His headquarters were, as usual, in the Queen's Hotel. Through the green-painted pillars of that Victorian portico the stream of pressmen, Party organisers, supporters, and busybodies passed continually in and out. Upstairs, in the suite of first floor rooms, Balfour's sister and his secretaries guarded his moments of quiet. Yet, it was to this place, and under these circumstances, that one visitor was summoned for a conversation, which in years to come was to bear fruit undreamed of by them both, and to set its impress upon history, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, pledging the British Government to promote the establishment of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine. The first meeting between Balfour and Dr. Chaim Weizmann was a prelude to that story.

    " Balfour's interest in the Jews and their history was lifelong. It originated in the Old Testament training of his mother, and in his Scottish upbringing. As he grew up, his intellectual admiration and sympathy for certain aspects of Jewish philosophy and culture grew also, and the problem of the Jews in the modern world seemed to him of immense importance. He always talked eagerly on this, and I remember in childhood imbibibing from him the idea that Christian religion and civilisation owes to Judaism an immeasurable debt, shamefully ill repaid. His interest in the subject was whetted in the year 1902 by the refusal of the Zionist Jews to accept an offer of land for settlement in British East Africa, made to them by his own Government through Mr. Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary. This episode roused in him a curiosity which he found no means to satisfy. He had no contacts with Zionist Jews, who were few and far between in England then, and non-existent in the social circles to which Balfour's Jewish friends, such as the Rothschilds, belonged. His Chairman in Manchester was however a Jew, Mr. Dreyfus, and to him, in 1905, Balfour mentioned his wish to fathom the reasons for the Zionist attitude to the East African offer. Mr. Dreyfus told him that there was at that moment in Manchester one of the younger leaders of the Zionist movement, a Russian Jew, Chaim Weizmann by name, who had recently settled in England and held a post as lecturer in organic chemistry at the Victoria University. Balfour asked to see him, and in the midst of the election turmoil an interview was arranged, timed to occupy a quarter of an hour or so. It lasted an hour and a quarter. Both participants described it to me afterwards, a way that showed the unusual sympathy which sprang up, almost at first sight, between two leaders, widely separated by every material circumstance of life and tradition.

    " The young scientist, born and bred in the tragic surroundings of Russian Jewry, had no great belief in his powers to explain the motive forces behind the dawning Jewish national revival to the Conservative leader, on whom Fortune had showered almost every one of her richest gifts. Still less did Dr. Weizmann expect to convince the British politician of the spiritual necessity that drove the Zionists to make contact again with the soil of Palestine, and forbade them to accept escape through settlement on any other spot on earth. He certainly did not anticipate any particular result from the conversation. The offer of Balfour's Government had been rejected, gratefully but decisively, by the section of Zionists among whom Dr. Weizmann was already a leader. That Government had just fallen from power. Yet he had not been ten minutes in Balfour's presence before he found himself striving his utmost to break down the obstacles of his, as yet, imperfect command of English, and expound the Zionist
    consciousness of historical right.

    "" I began to sweat blood to make my meaning clear through my English. At the very end I made an effort, I had an idea. I said : 'Mr. Balfour, if you were offered Paris instead of London, would you take it ? Would you take Paris instead of London?' He looked surprised. He: 'But London is our own !' I said : 'Jerusalem was our own when London was a marsh.' He said : ' That's true ! ' I did not see him again till 1916."

    " Thus Dr. Weizmann described to me their first meeting. Imagination supplies more. When Balfbur's attention concentrated on something that really held it, he would look at
    the speaker with a steady expectant gaze. His eyes seemed then like windows to his inner self through which one had only to look to find perfect comprehension. To evoke that particular expression was an experience even for those who were familiar with it. For a stranger in a strange land it was an unforgettable moment.

    " Balfour for his part told me often about the impression the conversation made on him.
    'It was from that talk with Weizmann that I saw that the Jewish form of patriotism was unique. Their love for their country refused to be satisfied by the Uganda scheme. It was Weizmann's absolute refusal even to look at it which impressed me.'

    " The conversation of which this is a fragment took place at a date when Zionism itself, and Balfour's understanding of it, had both been put to practical tests. The story of the meeting with Dr. Weizmann in Manchester is no digression, but an integral part of the narrative of Balfour's life during the General Election. He turned, then, very characteristically, for relaxation, to a subject which interested him alike as a political philosopher, a student of history, and a statesman ; but also as a statesman temporarily freed from responsibility.

    " The train of reflection was started in 1906 by the contact of two singularly magnetic personalities, and Balfour pursued it for the next few years, intermittently no doubt, but with the ardour he reserved for his speculative moments. The more he thought about Zionism, the more his respect for it, and his belief in its importance, grew. His opinions took shape before the defeat of Turkey in the Great War transformed the whole future for the Zionists. The policy of the ' Balfour Declarafion ' of 1917 has been attributed to various motives, worthy and unworthy, on the part of British statesmen. The longstanding sympathy of the then Foreign Secretary was a factor which is too commonly left out of account. "

    Balfour and the Society for Psychical Research

    In 1882, Henry Sidgwick, Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, Arthur and Gerald Balfour founded the Society for Psychical Research. Sidgwick became the first president of the S.P.R. and continued in this position for nine years. His influence and connections drew a number of distinguished persons into the Society, which fulfilled the function of a "Spiritualist church for intellectuals." Arthur Balfour, who was Sidgwick's ablest student at Cambridge, would serve as president of the S.P.R., as did his brother, Gerald Balfour, and sister, Eleanor Sidgwick. Council Members and Honorary Members of the SPR included a past Prime Minister (William Gladstone) and a future Prime Minister (Arthur Balfour), 2 bishops, Tennyson and Ruskin, 'Lewis Carroll' and "a surprising number of titled persons." Ex Prime Minister Gladstone called psychical research, "The most important work which is being done in the world. By far the most important work." William James, psychologist, philosopher and father of author Henry James, became president of the American S.P.R. in 1885. But the driving force of the S.P.R. came from Sidgwick, Myers, Gurney, the two Balfours, and Walter Leaf. Sidgwick's wife was to become principal of Newnham College, Cambridge in 1892.

    The original objective of the S.P.R. was to conduct research into "that large group of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as mesmeric, psychical and spiritualistic." Committees were organized to examine telepathy, hypnotism, mesmeric trance, clairvoyance, ESP, apparitions, haunted houses, and to determine the laws of physical spiritualistic phenomena. In its early stages, the S.P.R. held séances in the townhouse of Arthur Balfour which his sister Eleanor organised. Various mediums of reputation were investigated with the purpose of ruling out charlatans and determining if entities from the spirit realm or deceased persons did in fact communicate with the living.
  • Change Date: 4 OCT 2005 at 00:44:21

    Father: James Maitland BALFOUR b: 5 JAN 1820
    Mother: Blanche Gascoigne CECIL b: 1824/1825
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