Delcassé’s Conversion to the Egypt-Morocco Barter

  • Christopher Andrew


PAUL CAMBON had a considerable sense of his own importance. He was, said one English diplomat, ‘very much Monsieur le Préfet till he sees you are not overawed and then he becomes human again’.1 While he might appear human to his equals, he rarely did so towards his inferiors. To a young diplomat who ended a letter to him with a conventional assurance of his ‘high consideration’, Cambon coolly replied that he expected his respect rather than his consideration. It was typical of his unwillingness to show himself at a disadvantage that while he criticised the inability of other French diplomats to speak English, he himself was still reluctant to do so even on social occasions after twenty years in London. This made little difference to his dealings with Salisbury and Lansdowne, both of whom spoke French fluently. Grey, however, was a much poorer linguist: he and Cambon had finally to adopt the practice of speaking slowly to each other in their respective languages, with Cambon repeating Grey’s more important statements in French to make sure he had understood them.2


Foreign Policy Diary Entry Foreign Minister Groupe Colonial English Policy 


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  1. 1.
    Sir Harold Nicolson, Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock. A Study in the Old Diplomacy (London, 1930), 91. To Vansittart, then at the beginning of his diplomatic career, Cambon appeared as ‘one of those rare Frenchmen who seemed never to have been young’ (Lord Vansittart, The Mist Procession (London, 1950), 117).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    K. Eubank, Paul Cambon, Master Diplomatist (Oklahoma, 1960), 209. Vansittart, op. cit., 110. Homberg, op. cit., 132–4.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    It is possible that Cambon may already have mentioned the idea of a transaction involving Egypt and Morocco to Joseph Chamberlain in the previous January. See J. Amery, The Life of Joseph Chamberlain, iv (London, 1950), 180.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    A. J. P. Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe (Oxford, 1954), 408 n. 2. For the French view of Maclean’s activities see DDF2, II, no. 121.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    A. J. P. Taylor, ‘British Policy in Morocco, 1886–1902’, English Historical Review, LXVI (1951), 353–7, 364.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    DDF2, I, nos. 583, 588; II, no. 24. G. Saint-René Taillandier, Les origines du Maroc français (Paris, 1930), 31–6. On the French legation’s belief in Anglo-German collusion during the winter of 1901–2, see DDF2, III, no. 131.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    A. Tardieu, ‘France et Espagne 1902–1912’, Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 Dec. 1912, 634–5, citing ‘an unpublished document’, the procès-verbal of the Senate commission charged with examining the Franco-German treaty of 4 Nov. 191Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    R. de Caix, ‘La Paix’, BCAF, June 1902; ‘Choses du Maroc’, BCAF, Oct. 1902. In both France and England the parti colonial attracted most attention by its vociferous defence of French interests in Morocco and elsewhere against encroachment by England. The pressure on Delcassé by Étienne’s small group of Moroccan enthusiasts in favour of an Anglo-French barter of Egypt and Morocco passed generally unnoticed. It is worth emphasising that this pressure does not in the least imply that Étienne and his friends were pro-British in 1902, any more than they had been in 1898 when they originated the policy of an Egypt — Morocco barter. They favoured this policy not because it drew them closer to England, but because they regarded it as the only practical way of realising their dream of a French Morocco. See below, 213.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christopher Andrew 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Andrew
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

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