Mr. Thomas must have been fairly accurately informed by somebody, for he correctly gives the name of the ship which brought Feisal -- H.M.S. Gloucester. Note that this account was published before Colonel Brémond's book, and that Graves -- also pre-Brémond -- passes over the whole episode in silence. Colonel Brémond had returned to France in December, 1917, not because of the Lawrenceinspired démarche of the British ambassador, but because of the French
War Office rule that officers on detachment after a certain time had to return to active service in the war. Brémond was at Ghent when he was suddenly called by telegram to Paris (morning of the 27th November, as he says with soldierly precision) and told at the Quai d'Orsay to go and meet Feisal and amuse him with various expeditions without allowing him to come to Paris until further orders. Then came the instructions concerning Lawrence:
"You must be quite candid with Lawrence, and point out that he is in a false position (it fait fausse route). If he is in France as a British colonel in British uniform, we welcome him. But we don't accept him as an Arab, and if he remains in fancy dress, he is not wanted here (s'il reste déguise, il n'a rien á faire chez nous)." 31
Feisal's party was at Lyons when Brémond caught up with it, accompanied by a Monsieur Bertrand, who had once been French consul at Jidda. To him Colonel Brémond confided his orders and, as Lawrence was en costume oriental, M. Bertrand passed on the instructions to Feisal, who said Lawrence would leave at once. Lawrence came and said that as he was expelled, he would leave immediately, and then at once returned his Croix de Guerre, which Brémond sent to the French Foreign Office.
After the appearance of Brémond's carefully documented book, Lawrence reversed himself. The story about borrowing Marshall's Arab head-dress was dropped, and Hart at Lawrence's instigation put in his book the following: "Contrary to Brémond's statement, he had not worn Arab dress, so that Brémond must either have suffered a lapse of memory or have introduced the excuse to cover up the French government's breach of courtesy." 32 Once more it is Lawrence's word against another's. But surely a breach of courtesy lies with uninvited guests, not with the involuntary host; and gate-crashers are not welcomed anywhere; If Lawrence wore only the Arab headdress with khaki (as Lowell Thomas was told), then Brémond was justified, for such was the dress of Feisal's Arab officers, as may be seen from contemporary photographs. At one time Lawrence gave out (and his brother Professor Lawrence has repeated) a story that he tied his Croix de Guerre on to the neck of Hogarth's dog and sent it round Oxford. 33 Whatever Lawrence did or did not tie round the
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neck of Hogarth's dog, it was not the Croix de Guerre, * for he himself admitted to Captain Hart that he had returned it to Colonel Brémond. 34
All this was extremely petty political intrigue, but it certainly achieved two immediate successes; it forced Feisal on French officialdom, and it enabled Lawrence to be personally insolent to France. Feisal's position as delegate for the Hejaz at the Peace Conference could have been secured, as in fact it was eventually, by the insistence of the British delegation -- after they had either forgotten all about him or showed that they had never heard of him, until Lawrence reminded them. 35 Yet there is reason to think that it was precisely this "clever" dumping of an uninvited Feisal into the chaos of immediate post-Armistice France which confirmed succeeding French governments in their conviction that Feisal was simply a British "stooge," and made them determined to get him out of Damascus on the first possible occasion. At the time the uninvited Feisal was courteously received, shown the battlefield of Verdun, given the Légion d'Honneur (grand plaque), a present of Lyons silks; and, after an intentionally long delay, received in Paris. On the 9th December, still escorted by Brémond, Feisal proceeded on his way to England, and at Boulogne was met from the ship by Lawrence in his white silk Arab robes, looking under the foggy sky "like a choir-boy" 36 as he crept deprecatingly down the gangway.
In London they stayed at the Carlton Hotel, where Lionel Curtis saw Lawrence dressed in khaki with an Arab head-dress, as Lowell Thomas says he was in France; and it was not until a month later that they returned to France -- Lawrence officially as a member of the British delegation -- and were put up in the Hôtel Majestic. While in England, Lawrence had served as Feisal's guide, and as his selfappointed interpreter. Dressed in his white Arab costume, he accompanied Feisal, as interpreter, to a reception at Buckingham Palace, and at least one of the usual anecdotes has been recorded to can attention to the fact. He is said to have performed the same service for Feisal at the Peace Conference, with additional anecdotes which bear the hallmark of their origin. One of them runs to the effect that, before the Council of Ten, Feisal, as previously arranged with Lawrence, merely
* It might have been the Légion d'Honneur though that should have been returned with the Croix de Guerre.
recited a chapter of the Koran, while Lawrence made the necessary speeches. 37 This seems rather risky, for Lawrence may not have been the only person at the Conference who could speak Arabic fluently and incorrectly, and someone might have understood. Lawrence -- forgetting this story -- told Graves that he addressed the Conference in English, French and Arabic. 38 Why address them in Arabic if they were so ignorant they didn't know the difference between politics and the Koran in that tongue? Mr. Churchill tells us that Lawrence also went about Paris acting as Feisal's interpreter, and that he personally saw Lawrence dressed in full Arab costume. He was obviously impressed by the vision that met his eyes and was moved to describe it with true Disraelian eloquence. 39 Mr. Lloyd George, describing the appearance of Feisal and Lawrence before the Peace Conference on the 6th February, remarks that both wore "flowing robes of dazzling white," but says nothing about the interpreting. But this elaborately built-up story of interpreting, which dates back to the war period, is rather shaken by a statement of General Liman von Sanders, the reorganiser of the Turkish Army and successor to von Falkenhayn on the Palestine front. He was in Constantinople and came to know Feisal well during the summer of 1914. They had a common interest in sport and often met each other. Of Feisal he wrote, "He was typically a great Arab noble. He had been brought up in the European manner and spoke English fluently." 40 Of course, the statement might be attributed to the malice of the enemy, but for the fact that, like Jemd Pasha, Liman von Sanders seems to have been unaware of Lawrence's existence; at least, neither of them mentions him. Of course, Feisal was perfectly within his rights in making use of an interpreter, even if he did speak English fluently. But if General von Sanders was right, and Feisal could speak English, then it adds another histrionic touch to the whole costume play. *
Considering that he had been expelled from France only a few weeks before because of his questionable Arab guise, Lawrence undoubtedly scored a personal triumph over the French he hated by returning as a British delegate, and then parading the Arab costume with impunity in the capital and before the Council of Ten. We will not stop to enquire why a British officer was told to dress as an
* There is evidence that long after the war Feisal could speak French.
Arab or how it came about that he acted apparently as a second delegate for the Hejaz (no other is mentioned except Feisal but it may have been Nuri); or, more cogently, whether his behaviour really advanced the cause of his protégé, Feisal, in his claim to the throne of Syria. And it would be a mere guessing at the inscrutable sources of motive to ask whether he wished more to advance Feisal's cause than to insult the French. One thing is clear -- he must have had very powerful protection to be able to do this without being mistaken by the Parisians for another Raymond Duncan. If Hogarth and the Arab Bureau were the distant cause, Lloyd George was the near one. Liddell Hart assures us that Lawrence's gift of clear exposition was very much to Lloyd George's liking; the statement may be received with confidence since -- as we have already noted -what Lawrence had expounded in London was exactly what Lloyd George wanted to hear: Palestine for England and Jewish homemakers, Irak and Mosul for England under Abdulla and Said, and France kept out of Syria by a native sovereign from another country, of the same Hashemite family, and not unfriendly to his island sponsors. Palestine, as we learned from Asquith's memoirs, had long been an object of Mr. Lloyd George's ambitions, and as far back as December, 1917, he had puzzled Allenby by telling him to conquer "the whole country between Dan and Beersheba," 41 for though Allenby also had read the Bible and had actually captured Beersheba, Dan had disappeared in the cataclysm of time -- represented perhaps by Banias. Lawrence had written to Lloyd George that the Arabs would not countenance an independent Jewish Palestine though they might support a British-controlled Jewish immigration. 42 One may have serious doubts that "the Arabs" ever approved any such thing, but here again was supposedly expert support for keeping "agnostic, atheistic France" out of Palestine. It is true that towards the end of his term, the Prime Minister's assiduous visits to the cultural centre of Le Touquet led to the belief that his moral objections to France were softening, but in 1919 religion and self-interest alike required the exclusion of France from Syria.
The Middle East, indeed, seems to have been one of Lloyd George's great preoccupations after the war, and he himself has unwittingly revealed the fact by printing an interesting little anecdote. Just after the war, Clemenceau came to London, and, as he and the Prime
Minister drove through the streets, the crowds demonstrated their admiration for the French Army by enthusiastic cheers for the French Prime Minister. At the end of their drive, Clemenceau turned in his hard profiteering French way and asked what it was Lloyd George (or might we say "England"?) "specially wanted from the French"? In his impulsive, warm-hearted Celtic way, the Prime Minister "instantly replied" that he "wanted Mosul attached to Irak, and Palestine from Dan to Beersheba under British control." 43 Mr. Lloyd George adds that this was instantly granted and that Clemenceau loyally kept his word. Apparently the British Prime Minister forgot to ask in return what France most wanted of England. And Clemenceau was so little pleased by the episode that it seems he allowed some time to pass before confessing to his colleagues how the Welsh wizard had taken him for a drive.
Nevertheless, the best summary of Peace Conference proceedings with reference to the Syrian section of the Turkish Treaty is Lloyd George's. But that summary occupies a hundred pages, and it is not for me to attempt to summarise that summary in a page -- especially since it appears from Lloyd George's narrative that Lawrence was officially present at the Conference on only one occasion and no mention is made of his speaking. Indeed, from what the Prime Minister says it would seem that Feisal himself spoke, with clarity, conciseness and dignity," and not through Lawrence as interpreter. 44 Among the modest assertions put forward by Sharif Feisal was that "the Arab army" had advanced 800 miles (so it had, with a little help from Allenby's flank guard), had captured 40,000 prisoners, and had raised 100,000 men of whom 20,000 were killed. As Mr. Lloyd George himself reflected, there is usually "something romantic about Oriental arithmetic." Moreover, Sharif Feisal continued, his father "did not risk his life and kingdom by joining in the War at its most critickl time to further any personal ambitions." 45 It was just this self-effacing lack of ambition which had led Hussein to proclaim himself King of the Arabs, to claim for himself as King the vast area and different peoples south of a line drawn from Alexandretta to Diarbekir, and eventually to proclaim himself Caliph. Feisal was questioned closely by President Wilson, who apparently wanted to find out how far he would go, and among other questions asked if he would prefer one or several mandatories. Feisal tried to evade
this, but the President insisted, and: "Emir Feisal said that personally he was afraid of partition. His principle was Arab unity. It was for this that the Arabs had fought." 46 Now, if it was true that at the Conference Feisal merely repeated the Koran while Lawrence made all the speeches, 47 then the minutes of the session ( Feb. 6th, 1919) the only one at which Feisal and Lawrence are reported as present, are either entirely mistaken, or Lawrence himself denied his own solemn assertion on this topic on every other occasion. If he, when "making the speeches for Feisal," so emphatically came out for "Arab unity," why did he always elsewhere repudiate "the dream of a united Arabia"? Why did he go on to say: "I never to my knowledge suggested it . . . the physical difficulties alone make it a plan too wild for me. . . . I have always been a realist and opportunist in tactics; and Arab unity is a madman's notion. . . . I am sure I never dreamed of uniting even Hejaz and Syria. My conception was of a number of small states." 48 The reader will draw his own deductions.
During this session of the 6th February, one of the delegates made a remark to the effect that the Arabs were a semi-civilised people. At this Feisal retorted: "I belong to a people who were civilised when every other country represented in this room was populated by barbarians." At this the Italian delegate dissented, and Feisal added: "Even before Rome came into existence." 49 Without going into the historical accuracy of this statement, we may trace how this haughty snub to the majesty of Rome was worked up by Lawrence into a jeer at the French. Probably everyone has heard and many have repeated -- it has even crept into the Official War History -- that, when Monsieur Pichon spoke of "the Crusading pedigree of France's claim to Syria," Feisal replied: "Pardon me, Monsieur Pichon, but which of us won the Crusades ?" 50 It has been ceaselessly used to deride French claims to Syria; and it was a mere invention of Lawrence's.
Look at the facts. In the Peace Conference the affairs of Arabia were discussed at two meetings, one on the 6th February, which we have just been considering, and one on the 20th March. At the first, Feisal (accompanied by Colonel Lawrence) made his statement, and had his dialogues with Orlando and Wilson; he was then followed by a missionary, Dr. Howard Bliss, who wanted a League of Nations commission to go to Syria; and by the Chairman of the National Syrian Committee, who was "strongly opposed to the inclusion of
Syria in an Arab state "and" fiercely contemptuous of the idea of a 'highly civilised people' like the Syrians being governed by the Hejaz." Among other sharp invective, this Syrian leader denounced Feisal for trying "to play the part of master in our country," and added significantly that, in dismissing and appointing officials (including the Governor of the predominant Christian Lebanon), he "tries to make people believe that he is acting under high and powerful inspiration." 51 This speaker may have been hitting at Lawrence when he referred to "the somewhat Bolshevist formula improvised by the secretary of a foreign delegation (whose august chief and prince already calls us his people) of: 'Let us massacre one another, so long as we are free. It is only by killing each other that we shall attain total independence.' " 52 The sentiments sound very characteristic of Lawrence but may have been some Arab's. That long speech concluded the proceedings, and Monsieur Pichon did not say anything; he made his speech, stating the case for French claims, six weeks later, on the 20th March, when Feisal may have been present but is not reported as saying anything. Nor did M. Pichon make any reference to the Crusades. In summarising a letter from Clemenceau to Lloyd George ( 5th February, 1919), he said:
"It had pointed out that there was no Government in the world which had such a position as France in the regions claimed. It had given an exposition of the historic rights of France from the time of Louis XIV. M. Pichon continued by pointing out that French intervention in Syria had been frequent, the last instance being the case of the expedition organised in Syria and Lebanon in 1860 which had resulted in the establishment of the status of the Lebanon." 53
After which he went on to speak of French schools in Syria, the French-built railway, and so forth. There is no record of any interruption to the speech, and this claims go back no further than Louis XIV, who had been recognised by the Sultan as Protector of the Latin Church in Syria.
The session of the 20th March produced some melancholy examples of high political thought. Thus Mr. Lloyd George indignantly and virtuously exclaimed that "the whole" of the Sykes-Picot agreement was based "on a letter from Sir Henry McMahon to King Hussein,"
while M. Pichon indignantly replied that at the time the French had never heard of it, and anyway had made no promises to King Hussein. President Wilson referred, as if it were a personal discovery, to the idea of "government by consent of the governed"; but he did not reveal how this consent was to be achieved from a population of Mohammedans, Christians and Jews, Kurds, Arabs, refugee Armenians and Circassians, Turkmans, Greeks, Maronites, Druses and so forth. Was this a case for pedantic self-determination of nations? What M. Pichon failed to explain is why he wanted to pick up such a hornets' nest with his bare hands. They wound up by agreeing to send out a Commission of Enquiry, which was to investigate Palestine and Irak as well as Syria.
The Commission, which included two missionaries, was accompanied by Lord Allenby's military secretary; it did not go to Mosul or Baghdad, and confined itself to finding reasons against a French mandate for Syria. Some of these are worth recording. It will be remembered that M. Pichon had made rather a point of the education given by French schools in Syria. The Commission discovered that French education is superficial and "inferior in character-building to the Anglo-Saxon" -- i.e. no compulsory "Scripture" and ball games. It leads, they said gloomily, to familiarity with "that kind of French literature which is irreligious and immoral"; and indeed the Moslems reported to them that when their women received a French education, "they tend to become uncontrollable." 54 There may be more in this than meets the eye. Some time before the Commission arrived, the French had landed 20,000 troops, and Sir Richard Burton has testified to the effect on the ladies of the harem caused by the arrival of European military in countries where too many of the males subscribe to the deviationist penchants of Saladin, Hafiz and Abu-Nawas. 55 Even more to be preserved and mused over is the Commission's telegram of the 10th July, 1919, which runs thus:
"Emir Feisal despite limitation of education has become unique outstanding figure capable of rendering greatest service for world peace. He is heart of Moslem world, with enormous prestige and popularity, confirmed believer in Anglo-Saxon race; and great lover of Christians. Could do more than any other to reconcile
Christians and Islam and longs to do so. Even talks seriously of American college for women at Mecca." 56
Lawrence had done his propaganda work well and truly when his preachments and expensive costume had achieved such results. Even he at his most brilliant and most cynical could hardly have composed a telegram to equal the production of these solemn buffoons. The spectacle of a campus of shameless ones in shorts under the pious noses of old Hussein the fanatical Moslem pilgrims at Mecca is funnier even than that of the ladies of the harem driven to nymphomania by reading Salammbô and La Vie Parisienne.
THE DISPUTE over Syria and the other ex-Turkish provinces was far indeed from being settled by the Conference meeting of the 20th March (1919) and the setting up of this impartial Commission. Meanwhile, nothing whatever was done by the British Government to come to some arrangement with the French. Mr. Lloyd George throws the blame on Lord Milner, who (he says) was in a state of "nervous lassitude," so that almost as soon as he reached Paris to take up the problem of Syria, he discovered that important colonial business called him back to London -- business which he was never able to particularise. It is conceivable that, at the end of a long life of public service, a man should grow old and tired; but what seems extraordinary is that he was not given the alternative of carrying out his duties or resigning. And since Milner afterwards dealt ably enough with the problems arising from a serious revolt against the British in Egypt, it rather looks as if Lloyd George were merely making excuses. But there is no doubt that this ignoring of the situation exacerbated the tension between French and British and the various Arab groups, especially since Milner had made promises to Clemenceau which he had failed to keep. That the French Government was annoyed is surely natural, while they, like Hussein and Feisal, had a suspicion that they were being doublecrossed. After all, in his elaborate defensive Note of the 18th October, 1919, Lloyd George himself says:
"You will observe that the acceptance of the Agreement by Great Britain was made conditional upon the Arabs obtaining the four towns of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. If that con-
dition is not fulfilled, the whole Agreement clearly falls to the ground." 1
That he could go on to claim that the Arabs had done so by "remaining in the War until the end" seems as fanciful as his proposition that they "played an indispensable part in the overthrow of Turkey." 2 It is not extraordinary that the French Government was unconvinced, and so able a lawyer as Mr. Lloyd George would probably have found little difficulty in refuting his own Note. In any case the French Government held him to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and even he could find no way out. Feisal was told that he must go to Paris and make what arrangements he could, which resulted in his being temporarily installed in Damascus as French puppet ruler of inland Syria. Then Clemenceau fell, and while French financial interests were pressing for an unwise alliance with the Turks (Ottoman Loan), the Kemalists arose and drove their troops out of Cilicia. Encouraged by this, a gathering of Arabs in Damascus proclaimed the independence of Syria with Feisal as King. General Gouraud on the one side, and Feisal on the other, now put forth mutual accusations of "stirring up trouble," and French demands and actions became more and more drastic until Gouraud's ultimatum of the 14th July, 1920, which led to a battle in which many Arab sheiks were killed. Damascus was occupied and Feisal fled. 3 Such were the deplorable results of the bright idea of "rushing up to Damascus" in order "to biff the French out of all hope of Syria." Strangely enough, what intrigue failed to do after World War I was accomplished after World War II by British arms, which expelled the French officials, and left Syria to the happiness of a native military dictator. Those who think that the French Government of Syria between the wars was but a series of repressive acts and exploitations should read the last chapter of Mr. Robin Fedden's Syria, from which I will make one brief excerpt:
"It is no exaggeration to say that Syria in twenty years advanced in many respects further than it had done in several hundreds, and this in spite of the weakness of French capital, the sterling wall that surrounded the country, and the disastrous effects of the world slump which intervened just at the moment when new schemes