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' Sevjenty yeakS ago, the Aga Khan succeeded 
I at the age of eight, to die responsibilities, 
t spiritual and temporal, of the Imam of the 
I Isniaili Mushms and to the wealth of liis 
I grandfather, a Persian nobleman closely re- 
I kted to the reigning dynasty in Persia, but 
1 also, in Iris own right, of the most princely 
blood iir the Islamic world. For die family 
claims direct descent from the Prophet Mo- 
hammed tlirough his daughter Fatima and 
: his beloved son-in-law, AH. 

I The Aga Klian’s estate in Bombay, where 
1 he grew to manhood, covered a large area of 
I what is now a densely populated district of 
i that industriahsed city, a single enclosed cs- 
. rate with magnificent palaces and numerous 
less pretentious houses, beautiful gardens, a 
: small zoo and stables built to house a hmr- 
drcd horses. Here he lived, sunounded by 


iiitcmational contacts, fitted him well for the 
part of “ Ambassador without PortfoHo ” 
for the British Government. In the First 
World War he brought his influence to bear 
on the Muslim world in support of the Allies. 
Later, he headed the Indian delegation to the 
Round Table Conferences in 1930-31 to 
pave the way for Indian self-goverimrent. 
He worked hard for the League of Nations 
and became President of the Leape in 1937. j 
The Aga Khan is a deeply rehgious man. 
As head of the scattered millions of Isniaili ; 
Muslims he has ever worked to further their j 
welfare. Perhaps the most important chapter 
in his book is that which expounds liis bcHcfs 
and describes the rehgious, social and liistor- 


nearly a tliousand relations, dependants and ' ical basis of Islam, 

; supporters, the only surviving heir. For ten | To many people the name of tire Aga 
' years he was subjected to a systeniofinten-' ^ ' " - 


: sive education designed to prepare liiin for 
1 the sacred charge to which he was horn, 
i Then he travelled to Europe and joined 
I the social life of the pre-1914 years, when the 
/aristocracy and plutocracy revolved round 
1 the royal families in the capital cities of Eur- j 
j ope aird in Monte Carlo, Camies, Nice arid 
I St. Moritz. He grew up under tlic pateni^ 
i eye of the British Government, was received 
i by Queen Victoria, became a companion of 1 
j ICng Edward VII, a friend for over fifty 
1 years of Queen Mary, and a constant visitor 
to King George V. He first met Winston 
Churchill in Poona in 1896 and has been his 
friend ever since. In the long years between j 
that night when he dined with Queen Vic- 
toria and the afternoon last year when he 
took tea with Queen Elizabeth, he has been 
acquainted with most of die great figures, 

! royal, pohtical and cultural, of half a centiuy. 

! For year's he played a leading pai't in puh- 
; he affairs. His wide biowlcdge of the world, 
his extensive travels, his personal prestige alrd j 


Khan is most closely allied with horse racing, ’ 
an interest lie inherited from liis ancestors. 
Racing indeed, is in liis blood, and he de - 1 
votes a chapter to his experiences as a breeder j 
of blood-stock and to liis successes on the j 

turf. I 

It is small wonder that a man of such di- ^ 
verse interests, with such crowded years to 
look back upon, can say, “ Never in my ! 
long life have I been for an instant bored. 
Time has fled for me on far too swift a 
w ing”. 




THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 




j i 


His Highness the Aga iCliaii iii the garden of 
Villa Yakymour, near Cannes. 


THE 

MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME 


With a Forewoid hy 
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM 


With colour frontispiece 
and i6 pages of photographs 



CASSELL AND COMPANY LTD 


lONDON 


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London, E.C.4 

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Harooti Chambers, South Napier Road, Karachi; 13 Graham Road, Ballard 
Estate, Bombay 1; 17 Central Avenue, P.O. Dharatniala, Calcutta; P.O. 
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First published 1954 
All rights reserved 


Durga Sah Municipal Library f 
NAINJTAL, 

Class No 

Book No, 

Received on 


Set in 1 % pt. Bembo type and printed in Great Britain hy 
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F. 6*:4 



“Life is a great and noble calling, not a mean and 
grovelling thing to be shuffled tlurough as best wc can 
but a lofty and exalted destiny.” 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 


I MUST record my deep and warm gratitude to my old friend, 
Mr. Somerset Maugham, for the Foreword which he has been 
land enough to write for this book, and for the agreeable and 
gracious observations that he has made. To Miss Merioneth 
Whitaker go my thanks for her invaluable skill and patience in 
the preparation of the manuscript, without which it would have 
been a far more arduous labour. 


VI 



FOREWORD 


by 

W. SOA4ERSET MAUGHAM 


I HAVE known the Aga Klian for many years. He has been a 
kind and helpful friend. The introductions he gave me when 
I spent a winter in India enabled me to profit by the rich 
experience of my sojourn in that wonderful country as otherwise 
I could never have done, so that when he paid me the compHment 
of asking me to write a preface to liis autobiography I was glad 
to be given the opportunity to do him this small, and really 
unnecessary, service. For the book speaks for itself. It was not till 
I had read it that it was borne upon me how difficult a task I 
was undertaking. The Aga Klian has led a full life. He has been 
a great traveller and there are few parts of the world that he has 
not visited either for pleasure or because his political and reUgious 
interests made it necessary. He has been a great theatregoer; he 
has loved the opera and the ballet. He is an assiduous reader. He 
has been occupied in affairs in which the fate of nations was 
involved. He has bred horses and raced them. He has been on 
terms of close friendslrip with kings and princes of the blood 
royal, maharajahs, viceroys, field-marshals, actors and actresses, 
trainers, golf professionals, society beauties and society enter- 
tainers. He has founded a university. As head of a widely diffused 
sect, the Ismailis, he has throughout his life sedulously endeavoured 
to further the welfare, spiritual and material, of his countless 
followers. Towards the end of tliis autobiography he remarks 
that he has never once been bored. That alone is enough to mark 
the Aga Khan out as a remarkable man. 

I must tell the reader at once that I am incompetent to deal 
with some of liis multifarious activities. I know notliing of racing. 
I am so little interested in it that one day when I was luncliing 
with the Aga Khan just before Tulyar won the Derby we talked 
only of India and I never thought of asking liim whether liis 

vii 



FORE WOKD 


horse had a chance of ■whmmg. I know no more of politics than 
does the ordinary newspaper reader. For long years the Aga Khan 
was intunately concerned with them. His advice was constantly 
sought, and it was generally sound. He believed in moderation; 
“Of one fact,” he writes, “my years in public life have convinced 
me; that the value of a compromise is that it can supply a bridge 
across a difficult period, and later having employed that bridge 
it is often possible to bring into effect the full-scale measures of 
reform which, originally, would have been rejected out of hand.” 
He knew well the statesmen on w'hose decisions durhig the last 
fifty years great events depended. It is seldom he passes a harsh 
judgment on them. He pays generous tribute to their integrity, 
inteUigence, patriotism, wide knowledge and experience. It seems 
strange that with these valuable qualities they should have landed 
us all in the sorry mess in which we now find ourselves. 

The Aga Khan is a charitable man, and it goes against his grain 
to speak iU of others. The only occasion in tlois book of Ins on 
which he betrays bitterness is when he animadverts on the 
behaviour of our countrymen in their deahngs with the inhabit- 
ants of the countries in wliich in one way and another they 
held a predominant position, in Egypt and India and in the 
treaty ports of Cliina. During the eighties relations between 
British and Indians were in general easy, amiable and without 
strain, and had they continued to be as they were then, “I greatly 
doubt,” he writes, “whether poHtical bitterness would have de- 
veloped to the extent it did, and possibly somethmg far less total 
than the severance of the Repubhc of India from the Imperial 
connection would have been feasible.” It is a disquieting thought. 
He goes on as follows: “What happened to the Englishman has 
been to me all my hfc a source of wonder and astonishment. 
Suddenly it seemed that liis prestige as a member of an imperial, 
governing race would be lost if he accepted those of a different 
colour as fundamentally his equals. The colour bar was no longer 
thought of as a physical difference, but far more dangerously — ^in 
the end disastrously — as an intellectual and spiritual difference . . . 
The pernicious theory spread that all Asiatics were a second-class 
race, and ‘white men’ possessed some intrmsic and imchallcngc- 
able superiority.” According to the Aga Khan the root-cause of 
the attitude adopted by the ruling class was fear and a lack of 



FOREWORD 


self-confidence. Another was the presence m increasing numbers 
of British wives with no knowledge or interest in the customs 
and outlook of Indians. They were no less narrow and pro- 
vincial when, forty years after the time of wliich the Aga Khan 
writes, I myself went to India. These women, who for the most 
part came from modest homes in the country and since taxation 
was already liigh had at the most a maid of all work to do the 
household chores, found themselves in spacious quarters, with a 
number of servants to do their bidding. It went to their heads. 
I remember having tea one day Avith the wife of a not very im- 
portant official. In England she might have been a manicurist or 
a stenographer. She asked me about my travels and when I told 
her that I had spent most of my time in the Indian States, she 
said: “You know, we don’t have anything more to do with 
Indians than we can help. One has to keep them at arm’s length.” 

The rest of the company agreed with her. 

The clubs were barred to Indians till by the influence of Lord 
Willingdon some were persuaded to admit them, but so far as I 
could see it made little difference since even in them white and 
coloured kept conspicuously apart. 

When I was in Hyderabad the Crown Prince asked me to 
Imich. I had spent some time in Bombay and was then on my 
way to Calcutta. 

“I suppose you were made an honorary member of the Club 
when you were in Bombay,” he said, and when I told him I was, 
he added: “And I suppose you’ll be made an honorary member 
of the Club at Calcutta?” 

“I hope so,” I answered. 

“Do you know the difference between the Club at Bombay 
and the Club at Calcutta?” he asked me. I shook my head. “In 
one they don’t allow either dogs or Indians^ in the other they do 
allow dogs.” 

I couldn’t for the life of me think what to say to that. 

But it was not only in India that these unhappy conditions pre- 
vailed, In the foreign concessions in China there was the same 
arrogant and hidebound colonialism and the general attitude to- 
wards the Chinese was little short of outrageous. “AH the best 
hotels refused entry to Chinese, except in wings specially set 
aside for them. It was the same in restaurants. From European 



PORjbw/ORU 


clubs they were totally excluded. Even in shops a Chinese customer 
would have to stand aside and wait to be served when a European 
or an American came in after him and demanded attention.” 
Lord Cromer was the British Resident when the Aga Khan went 
to Egypt. He found the British were not merely in political 
control of the country, but assumed a social superiority which 
the Egyptians appeared humbly to accept. “There was no common 
ground of social intercourse. Therefore inevitably behind the 
fafade of humility there developed a sullen and brooding, almost 
personal, resentment winch later on needlessly, bitterly, poisoned 
the clash of Egyptian nationalism with Britain’s mtercsts as the 
occupying power.” Now that the foreign concessions in China 
exist no more, now that the last British soldiers arc leaving Egypt, 
now that, as the Aga Khan puts it, British rule in India has 
dissolved and passed away like early morning mist before strong 
sunlight, the British have left behind them a legacy of hatred. 
We too may ask ourselves what happened to Englishmen that 
caused them so to act as to arouse an antagonism which was bound 
in the end to have such untoward consequences. I am not satisfied 
with the explanation wliich the Aga Khan gives. I think it is to be 
sought rather in that hackneyed, but consistently disregarded 
aphorism of Lord Acton’s: Power corrupts and absolute power 
corrupts absolutely. 

It is no good crying over spilt milk, so the determinists teU us, 
and if I have dwelt on tliis subject it is with intention. In the world 
of today the Americans occupy the position wliich the British so 
long, and for all their fadings not ingloriously, held. Perhaps it 
would be to their advantage to profit by our example and avoid 
making the errors that have cost us so dear. A brown man can fire 
a sten gun and shoot as straight as a wliite man; a yellow man can 
drop an atom bomb as efficiently. What does this mean but that 
the colour bar is now a crass absurdity? The British wanted to be 
loved and were convinced that they were; the Americans want 
to be loved too, but ai'e uneasdy, distressingly, conscious that they 
are not. They find it hard to understand. With their boundless 
generosity they have poured money into the coimtries which 
two disastrous wars have reduced to poverty, and it is natural that 
they should wish to see it spent as tlicy tliink fit and not always 
as the recipients would hke to spend it. It is true enough that the 



PORE wuRiJ 


man who pays the piper calls the tune, but if it is a tune the com- 
pany finds it hard to dance to, perhaps he is well-advised to do his 
best so to modify it that they may find it easy. Doubtless it is 
more blessed to give than to receive, but it is also more hazardous, 
for you put the recipient of your boimty under an obligation and 
that is a condition that only the very magnanimous can accept 
with good will. Gratitude is not a virtue that comes easily to the 
human race. I do not think it can be denied that the British con- 
ferred great benefits on the peoples over which they ruled; but 
they humiliated them and so earned their hatred. The Americans 
would do well to remember it. 

But enough of that. The Aga Khan is descended from the 
Prophet Mohammed through his daughter Fatima and is descended 
also fiom the Fatimite CaHphs of Egypt. He is justifiably proud 
of his illustrious ancestry. His grandfather, also known as Aga 
Khan, by inheritance spiritual head of the Ismailis, was a Persian 
nobleman, son-in-law of the powerful monarch, Fateh Ah Shah 
and hereditary clueftain of Kerman, Smarting imder the insult 
that had been put upon him, he took up arms against a later Shah, 
Mohammed by name, was worsted and forced to make liis 
escape, attended by a few horsemen, through the deserts of 
Balucliistan to Sind. There he raised a troop of light horse and 
after various vicissitudes eventually reached Bombay with his 
two hundred horsemen, his relations, chents and supporters. He 
acquired a vast estate upon wliich he built palaces, iimumerable 
smaller houses for his dependants and outbuildings, gardens and 
fountains. He Hved in feudal state and never had less than a 
himdred horses in his stables. He died when the author of tliis 
book was a child and was succeeded by his son who, however, 
only survived him a short time; upon wliich the Aga Klian whom 
we know, at the age of eight inherited liis titles, wealth and 
responsibilities, spiritual and temporal. His education was con- 
ducted to prepare him for the sacred charge to which he was 
born. He was taught EngHsh, French, Arabic and Persian. Re- 
hgious instruction was imparted to him by a renowned teacher 
of Islamic lore. No holidays were allowed liim. The only rehef 
from work was on Saturdays and feast days when he received 
his followers who came to offer gifts and do him homage. 

The Aga Khan, raised to such eminence at so early an age, was 



FOREWORD 


fortunate in that liis mother was a higlily cultivated woman. She 
was deeply versed in Persian and Arabic poetry, as were several 
of her ladies in waiting, and at meal times at her table “our con- 
versation was of literature, of poetry; or perhaps one of the elderly 
ladies who travelled to and from Teheran a great deal would talk 
about her experiences at the Court of the Shah.” The Begum 
was a mystic and habitually spent long hours in prayer for 
spiritual enlightenment and union with God. “I have, in some- 
thing Hke ecstasy,” he writes, “heal’d her read perhaps some 
verses by Roumi or Hafiz, with their exquisite analogies between 
man’s beatific vision of the Divine and the temporal beauty and 
colours of flowers, the musk and magic of the night, and the 
transient splendours of the Persian dawn.” The Aga Kh.an is a 
deeply rehgious man. One of the most interesting chapters in this 
book is that in which after teUing of his personal beliefs, he gives 
a concise exposition of Islam as it is understood and practised 
today. It is there for the reader to read and I will s.ay no more 
about it than that it is sympathetic and persuasive. It may be that 
it will occur to him that the duties of man as he may learn them 
from the verses of the Koran and the Traditions of the Prophet 
are not very different from those he may learn from the Sermon 
on the Mount. But man is an imperfect creature, at the mercy of 
his passions, and it should surprise no one that too often these 
duties are no more practised by Muslim than by Cliristian. 

The general public knows the Aga Khan chiefly as a racmg man 
and it is not unlikely that the reader of the book, remembering 
the pages in wliich he narrates his experiences as a breeder of 
bloodstock and the happy winner of many classical events, will 
be a trifle taken aback by this moving, thoughtful and sincere 
chapter. There is no reason why he should be. The chase was the 
main occupation of the Iranian nobles from whom he is descended. 
It is part of the tradition he inherited and the environment in 
which he was brought up. His grandfather, his father, had hounds, 
hawks and horses, the swiftest and finest money could buy or they 
could breed. On the death of his father only twenty or thirty of 
the ninety racehorses he had possessed were kept and they, through 
the Aga Khan’s minority, were raced under his colours aU over 
Western India. Racing is in his blood. But first and foremost he 
is the spiritual head of a sect of Islam which counts its adherents 



Foreword 


by the million. He has a secure hehef in the faith which was the 
faith of his great ancestors and he is ever mindful of the sacred 
charge, with the great responsibilities it entails, wliich is his by 
right of birth. We are none of us all of a piece. The Aga Klian says 
somewhere that we are all composed of diverse and conflicting 
elements: of few men could t hi s be more truly said than of him- 
self. But he is fortunate m that the elements in him only super- 
ficially conflict; they are resolved by the strength and consistency 
of his character. 




CONTENTS 


CI-IAPTER PAGE 

FOREWORD Vii 

PROLOGUE I 

I CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH 7 

II MY FIRST EUROPEAN TOUR 30 

in EARLY VISITS TO THE MIDDLE EAST ... 57 

IV NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-1909) ... 69 

V LONDON, DELHI, AND ST. PETERSBURG . . . II7 

VI THE FIRST WORLD WAR I30 

Vn POST-WAR PROBLEMS IN INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST 

AFRICA 14s 

Vni THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT AND MY ROLE AS IMAM . 169 

IX MY CAREER ON THE TURF 19^ 

X TOWARDS DOMINION STATUS — THE ROUND TABLE 

CONFERENCES 206 

XI MY WORK FOR THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS . .235 

XII THE WAR YEARS. THE PARTITION OF INDIA . . 27 1 

Xm FRIENDS OLD AND NEW. FAMILY APFARS . . .30? 

XIV MY RECENT TRAVELS SI'S 

XV LOOKING BACK — AND FORWARD . . . • 3^7 

INDEX 33'5 


XV 




ILLUSTRATIONS 


His Highness the Aga Khan in the garden of Villa Yakymour, 


near Cannes. ....... Frontispiece 

facing page 

The Aga Khan’s grandfather, Aga Khan I . . . .14 

The Aga Khan’s father, Aly Shah 14 

The Aga Khan as a young boy . . . . . -15 

At Iris installation as Imam, the Aga Khan ascends the Gadi in 

Bombay in 1885 15 


A cartoon portrait by ‘Spy’ 46 

The Aga Khan as a young man 46 

With Lord Carnarvon at the Doncaster Sales in 1926 {Picture 

Post Library) 47 

The Aga Idian leads in ‘Blenheim’, winner of the 1930 Derby 

{Associated Press) 47 

With Mahatma Gandlii and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu in London 

dining the Round Table Conference of 1931 {Planet News) 142 

Leaving the House of Lords with the Maharajah of Alwar and 
Lieut.-Col. Stewart Patterson, Political A.D.C. to the 
Secretary of State for India, after the inaugural session of 
the 1930 Romid Table Conference {The Times) . . 142 

The Aga Khan in full regalia {Harris's Picture Agency) . ■ 143 

The Aga Khan being weighed against diamonds during his 
Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Bombay in 1946 {Associated 
Press) 174 

With the Begum Aga Khan and Prince Sadruddin at tlie 

Diamond Jubilee celebrations. ..... 174 

The Aga Khan leads in ‘My Love’, winner of the 1948 Derby . 175 





ILLUSTRATIONS 


fadtif! page 

The Aga Khan with liis younger son, Prince Sadruddin, and his 

grandsons, Prince Karim Aga and Prince Amyii Mahomed 238 

Arriving at London Airport with the Begum Aga Khan during a 


recent visit to England ....... 239 

The Aga IClian among some of his followers in Malahat, Persia 239 

The Aga IClian and Mr. Charles Chaphn meet at the 1953 Cannes 

Film Festival ........ 270 

Mr. Ohver Lyttelton, the Colonial Secretary, chats with the 
Aga Khan during a party given to sever.al hundred IsmaiH 
MusHms in London in July 1953 (Assoriafcd Pres.v) . . 270 

February 1954. Aga Khan is weighed against platinum 
during the celebrations at Karachi marking his 70 years as 
Imam {International News Photos) ..... 271 

On safari in East Africa witli the Begum Aga Khan . . 271 

The Aga Khan at home at Yakymour, near Cannes . . 302 

On the golf course at Mandclicu, France . . . -303 

At Longchamp with Prince Aly Khan 303 

A recent portrait of Pier Higlmess the Begum Aga Khan . -334 

A recent portrait of His Highness the Aga Khan . . -335 


xviii 



PROLOGUE 


T he truth about a man, as much as about a country or an 
institution, is better than legend, myth, and falsehood. I am 
someone about whom a whole fabric of legend has been 
woven in my own Hfetime. Of recent years I have often been 
urged by editors and pubhshers to write my memoirs, my own 
account of my life and experiences, of my beliefs and opinions, 
and the way in which they have been moulded. Friends have 
advised me that it is my duty to my own reputation, now and in 
the future, to tell the truth about myself as I see it, and to refute the 
falsehoods that have gained credence. Flattering this persuasion" 
may have been, kind m intention certaiiilv'.' 

There are certain obvious and gross fictions which need to be 
corrected — the grandiose estimates, for example, of my own and 
my family’s wealth. I have seen estimates both of my capital and 
my income so inaccurate that not one but two noughts at the end 
should be knocked off. Not long ago an alleged biography was 
pubhshed; m the matter of dates the margin of error in it was 
anytlhng from one to ten years. If there is this amount of mis- 
information on simple, easily discoverable fact, what sort of 
veracity is likely in wider, more profoimd and more intangible 
matters? 

My life in many ways has been a bridge across vastly differing 
epochs. Looknig at it for the moment sunply from tlie Western 
point of view — I had a full life in the Victorian era, and I am 
leading now an equally full Hfe in this new EHzabethan era. When 
I was a young man I sat next to Queen Victoria at a dinner party, 
and talked to her throughout it; the other day I sat next to Queen 
Ehzabeth II at a tea party and talked to her throughout it. In my 
youth the internal combustion engine was in its early, experimental 
phase, and the first motor-cars were objects of ridicule; now we 
all take supersonic jet propulsion for granted, and interplanetary 
travel is far more seriously discussed today than was even the 
smallest flying venture at a time when I was quite grown up and 

I 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

had already lived a full and active life. I had the great honour of 
knowing Lord Kelvin, in his time the greatest physicist in the 
world; he assured me solemnly and deHberately that flying was 
a physical impossibility for human beings and quite unattainable. 
Even H. G. Wells in liis early book, Anticipations, put off the 
conquest of the air and the discovery of atomic power for two 
or three centuries. Yet these and much more have come to pass 
in a brief half-century. 

During this period I have been not only an onlooker but, by 
the accident of birth, an active participant in afiairs. The extent 
of the revolution wliich I have witnessed is not yet to be measured, 
but we can see manifestations of it at many levels of human ex- 
perience. Throughout the Western world the whole way of life 
has undergone fundamental and far-reaching changes, perhaps the 
greatest of which is that the expectation of hfe has been increased 
by nearly twenty years. Old age begins for men and women in the 
West at anything from ten to twenty years later than it did in my 
youth, and in India and East generally a similar, though at present 
smaller, extension of the span can be noted. In Europe and 
America it is most marked. There are far, far more old men and 
women ahve and active. In a walk along a busy street like 
Piccadilly or any part of the Paris boulevards, I assure you that 
a man of my age would see the difference. In Europe there has 
been a widespread restriction of families among the upper and 
middle classes; the family of the nineties, with seven or eight 
children, has almost completely disappeared. In no European 
country is divorce looked upon as auytliing ttnusual; when I was 
young, men of the stature of Charles Ditke and Charles Stewart 
PameU were driven out of public hfe through association with 
divorce cases. Today all over Europe men to whom the strictly 
legal term “guilty party” is applicable are to be found in the 
highest, most responsible positions in the State. Indeed, the only 
penalty to which they are subject seems to be non-admission to 
the Royal Enclosure at Ascot — a privilege which, I daresay, few 
of them care about anyway. 

The changes in the status of women, economic and social, have 
been enormous; fifty or sixty years ago almost the only career 
open to them was marriage or indirect dependence on man’s pro- 
tection, and today they possess the avenues of cotmtless honourable 

2 



PHULOGUB 


and profitable caUings, and they carry themselves with self- 
confidence and self-assurance. Homosexuality was looked upon 
very much like leprosy. Today in most European countries there 
is either Freudian pity, or there are excuses, and by men like 
Andre Gide and others open justification if not glorification. 

I was a grown-up man in that old world. I hope that I am not 
yet in my second childhood in the new world. I feel that it is 
therefore my duty to give an account in some detail of my ex- 
perience over this long, momentous epoch, and to record my 
personal acquaintance — often, indeed, my real and deep friendship 
— ^with some of those who have had their share in bringing about 
its vast poHtical, social, and economic changes. 

England' — we still talked naturally of England when I was 
yotmg — dwelt then in “splendid isolation”, a state of affairs wliich 
stimulated a far deeper, stronger pride than did the more extreme 
American isolationism of the twenties and the early thirties. To 
that England, France was the traditional enemy and Germany the 
only potential friend in Europe. Only a handful of men whose 
thoughts converged from very different origins — Sir Charles 
DUke, imperialists like Admiral Maxse, and a few radical “Little 
Englanders” — championed friendship with France and distrust 
of Germany. 

In vast regions of the East, England’s hegemony was virtu- 
ally undisputed, and her hidian Empire seemed among the 
most solidly based and most durable of contemporary pohtical 
organizations. A man like Lord Curzon — and indeed I should say 
ninety-nine per cent of the British ruling class — would have been 
horror-struck at the thought of the formation of an Indian 
Republic, or its inevitable corollary, and even more appalled by 
the prospect, inconceivable as it would have seemed to him, of 
the partition of the enormous Indian Empire and tlie emergence 
of two healthy national States each with its own historic per- 
sonality. Even as late as the 1930s when the promise of eventual 
Domhiion Status had been made, this same British ruling class 
permitted itself to be obsessed with the childish delusion that the 
Indian Empire which their predecessors had buht up could be 
handed on — like an estate after the owner’s death — to successors 
who would preserve the artificial luoity of the structure as if it 
were a true unity rooted in spiritual and intellectual foundations. 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA ivhAN 

Even in the 1940s men like Lord Wavell and others hoped and 
beheved that even after the British quitted India it would be 
possible to maintain a united Indian Army. Other European 
colonial Powers nourished delusions no less futile. Less than a 
decade ago it was seriously held in France that the three Indo- 
Cliinese States would join, humbly and as junior partners, in a 
French Union of which Paris must be the head and heart. 

I have seen the long revolution of Asia against European rule. 
In the nineties it was a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand. What 
did it seem to amount to then? The mild little hope of a few jobs, 
and a few honorific titles. Today in Asia the revolution is accom- 
phshed, everywhere cast of the Middle East there has been an end 
of European rule in fact and in name, and I have lived long enough 
to see the same process begin in Africa. But fortunately the 
Western European governing classes have learned the lesson of 
Asia. The British in West Africa, the Belgians in the Congo, and 
the French in their Equatorial African possessions are preparing 
and plamiing that transfer of power for which in Asia they were 
never prepared. 

I have had my share in these changes. I must, however, stress 
that whatever part I may have played in public affairs and in 
political developments in India and elsewhere, none of it has 
been my main task or duty. Since my cliildhood my chief concern, 
my chief responsibility, has been the great charge which I have 
uiherited as Imam of the Ismaih branch of the Shia sect of MusHms. 
Elsewhere in tliis book I shall give a detailed account of what I 
mean by this statement. Here, however, I can only affirm that my 
duties in this task have always been my prime concern; in all 
aspects — ^in a vast and varied correspondence, in the maintenance 
of countless links of personal and rehgious loyalty and affection 
— they have occupied a large part of every day of my life. 
Everything else that I have done or striven to do, enjoyed or 
suffered, has been of necessity secondary. With tliis important 
reservation clearly stated, I tliink I can give an account of many 
of the other events and experiences of my hfe. 

As I look back, there is one memory, one piece of self- 
knowledge, which gives me the utmost satisfaction. I was myself 
personally responsible for the conversion to Islam of some 30,000 
to 40,000 caste Hindus, many of them of the upper and professional 

4 



PROLOGUE 


classes. They had been people without a faith, and they found a 
faith. Neither my father nor my grandfather had attempted a 
rehgious task of this magnitude. Its fulfdment has had one im- 
portant and interesting effect: the great majority of these converts 
hved in what is now Pakistan; had they remained Hin du they 
would in all probability have been involved in, and have suffered 
by, the mass displacement and aU the other terrible and horrible 
happenings that accompanied Partition in 1947. 

1 have tried aU the years I spent in public life to do my best so 
far as I could. It is not possible for me to assess the success or 
failure of what I have tried to do; final judgment lies elsewhere. 

But smce I have witnessed this rapid and ad-enveloping process 
of change ui every domain of human interest and experience — 
the teclmical and mechanical revolution of our time, man’s 
developing mastery of natural forces, the recognition of the 
importance of the subconscious, the vast increase in longevity, 
the rise of new moral standards and the corresponding profound 
changes in outlook, and great pohtical changes undreamed of in 
my youth — I hope in these coming chapters to give some picture 
of each epoch as it unfolded before the eyes and in the mind and 
heart of one who was usually an onlooker but sometimes and 
actively a participant. 


5 




CHAPTER I 


CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH 


M y first conscious memory is of something that happened 
when I was a child of three and a half. I have a clear 
recollection of an old man, almost blind, seated on a grey 
Arab horse, peering to watch a line of other horses galloping in 
training. The scene was Bombay; the time February or March 
i88i; the old man was my grandfather, the Aga Klian, whose 
name, title, privileges, and responsibihties I was to uiherit. I, too, 
was on a pony, standing near my grandfather, and held up in the 
saddle by a man either side of me. 

My grandfather was, as I am and have been for close on seventy 
years, the hereditary Imam or spiritual chief of the IsmaiH sect 
of the Shia Muslims. He was a Persian nobleman, closely related 
to the then reigning dynasty in Persia, but also in his own right 
of the most princely blood in the Islamic world, for our fannly 
claims direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed through his 
daughter Fatima and his beloved son-in-law Ali; and we are also 
descended from the Fatimite Cahphs of Egypt. 

Elsewhere in this book I shall expound in fuller detail my 
general conception of Islam, its principles and practice, with some 
account of the way in which it has evolved throughout liistory, 
and in particular the oudook of the Imami Ismailis whose spiritual 
head I am. For the present let me say that Persia had for cen- 
turies been a stronghold of a Shia branch or sect of Islam, as 
distinct from the Sumii; my ancestors, prominent from the earliest 
times in the propagation of Shia doctrine and practice, had long 
been estabHshed there, maintaining territorial and feudatory 
chieftainship in addition to their spiritual leadership of the Ismailis. 

During the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries of the 
Christian era, Persia sometimes declined into something nearing 
administrative and social chaos. The periods of decline were apt 

7 



THE MEMOIRS OP AGA ii.±iAN 

to follow the death of a big Shah. Violent internecine strife 
broke out not only between the Shah’s heirs but also between 
important cliieftains. As a consequence of these bitter, protracted, 
and often bloodstained disputes, my grandfather, having earher 
sent most of his family and a considerable retinue ahead of him, 
emigrated from Persia, and after some years of wandering and 
various vicissitudes, settled in Bombay and Poona, y- 

I was bom in Karaclii on 2nd November, 1877, but in Bombay 
and Poona I spent the whole of my boyhood and youth. It was 
a Bombay in countless respects inconceivably different from the 
huge, ghttering, commercial, and industrial city that is present- 
day Bombay. It is true that it was a large and prosperous port, the 
capital of the Bombay Presidency, one of the leading provinces 
of British India, the seat of a Governor and his Administration, 
and of an impressive judicature, and the headquarters of a not 
inconsiderable army. The outstanding difference between that 
Bombay and Bombay today lies, of course, in the two words, 
“British India”, If the capital and focus of the British Raj in 
India lay, in those days, many hundreds of miles to the north-east, 
in Calcutta (and, iit the summer, in the hill town of Simla), there 
was in Bombay a long and close tradition of association with 
Britain; had not, indeed, Bombay first been joined to the posses- 
sions of the British Crown as part of the dowry of Mary of 
Modena, the wife of Charles II? 

The Bombay of the mid-nineteenth century in which my 
grandfather settled was a much smaller, more compact city than 
its present-day descendant. And the home — or homes — of my 
fanuly covered a great deal of some of the more densely populous 
and prosperous parts of contemporary Bombay. Even in my 
childhood in the eighties it was a huge rambhng place, taking in 
most of two divisions of the present city, Mazagaon and Bycinla, 
stretching from Nesbit Road to Hassanarbad, my grandfather’s 
tomb. This would be as if a large part of the West End of London 
or down-town Manhattan were a single enclosed estate; or, to 
put it in terms of Paris, as if it were an enclosure in length from, 
say, the Madeleine to well beyond the Opera, and in breadth 
from the Madeleine to the Pont d’Icna. Witliin this great area 
there were several big palaces, and innumerable smaller houses 
and outbuddings; there were gardens, and fountains, and there 

8 



CuILOJlOOD AND YOUTH 

was also a small zoo. And there were stables, for the equine 
population of the estate — evidence of my grandfather’s inherited 
and persistent interest in and love for horse racing and horse 
breeding — never numbered less than a hundred. 

The human population, of course, was far more numerous, 
and with endless ramifications, divisions, and sub-divisions. It 
was the household of a political pretender (in the proper sense 
of that word) of accepted standing. My grandfather in his migra- 
tion from Pei'sia had brought with him more than a thousand 
relations, dependants, clients, associates, personal and poHtical 
supporters, rangmg from the humblest groom or servant to a man 
of princely stature, a direct near-descendant of Nadirshah of 
Dellii fame, who had taken my grandfather’s side in the disputes 
and troubles in Persia and with him had gone into exUe. 

With the passage of years, however, it had become no longer 
exile. My grandfather had been confirmed in his rights and titles 
by a judgment of the Bombay High Court in 1866.^ He was an 
accepted and honoured leader of the community, accorded 
princely status by the British Rtq and its representatives in India. 
Aga Hall, our Bombay home, was his chief seat, but he had 
another palace, or group of palaces, in Poona, wliither we all 
made seasonal migrations. His life and his world, the life and 
world into which I was born, were feudal in a fashion far re- 
moved from, and indeed not rmderstood by, people of the present 
day. He was the head and centre of a loose but clearly compre- 
hended system of allegiance and adherence; wherever he went, 
his home, even if only temporary, was a focus of loyalty and 
homage — ^in the Ismaili word, a durkhana, a place of pilgrimage 
to be visited from time to time by as many of liis associates and 
supporters as possible. Tliis necessitated the maintenance of an 
impressive establishment — a need reinforced by the circumstances 
of my grandfather’s deparutre from Persia and by the nmnber of 
dependants whom he brought with him. 

His family and his dependants, his sons and their wives, his 
officials, servants, and followers, were disposed in a series of 
houses and palaces around him, both in Bombay and in Poona. 

^ The judgment, delivered on 12th November, 1866 by Mr. Justice Arnold, 
contains a classic fully-detailed account of the origins of Ismailism and of the 
beginnings of my family (see Chap. VUI). 

9 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

In course of time many of his Persian followers married Indian 
wives, many of them of Ismaili families. They and their cliildren 
remained under my grandfather’s protection, and after his death 
imder my father’s, and then under mine. When my grandfather 
died there was a rough-and-ready and unofficial division of pro- 
perty, though not of leadersliip and responsibility, between my 
father — ^his sole rightful heir as Imam — and my various uncles 
and aunts. I was my father’s sole and unique heir in accordance 
with Muslim law — unlike my father in relation to my grandfather. 

From my earHest childhood I was trained to be conscious of 
my inlieritance, and of the magnitude of its responsibilities. My 
early years were in many ways difficult, even harsh. I was the 
only surviving heir, for my two full brothers both died in infancy, 
and my two half-brothers in their yoimg manhood. I was known 
to be delicate — a succession of English doctors had prophesied, 
with sombre unanimity, that I would not live to be twenty-five — • 
and I was therefore watched over by my mother with extreme 
vigilance and trepidation. I was petted and spoiled by nurses and 
foster-mothers and by a group of my mother’s ladies-in-waithig, 
many of whom were already elderly, in whose eyes I was the 
“petit prince chdri”. My childhood was saddened — and compU- 
cated — by my father’s sudden death from pneumonia, only a little 
over four years after my grandfather. My father had inherited 
to the full my grandfather’s sporting interests, not only in horse 
breeding and racing, but as a shot and hunter of big game. In tliis 
latter pastime he was extremely skilled and utterly fearless, for 
his bag over years consisted not only of thousands of deer of 
every kind and every sort of game bird, but of a great many 
tigers. In tiger shootmg his courage was as great as his skill. When 
the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) paid his State visit 
to India, he was entertained at Aga Hall by my grandfather, 
and commented with interest on the number of tiger skins dis- 
played. How, he asked, did my father get them? Perhaps I should 
explain that ordinarily a tiger-shoot in India is conducted cither 
(in the North) from the back of a specially trained elephant or 
(elsewhere) from a platform constructed in a tree overlooking a 
tiger’s known or suspected haunt or lay. 

Do you go up trees?” asked the Prince of Wales, who — 
being stout — had doubtless recent and rueful memories of being 



CJJIILUHOOI) ANU xOuiu 


pushed and pulled up trees in this most exciting and aristocratic 
of all varieties of big-game shooting. 

“No,” said my father, whose girth, though considerable, was 
not as great as Iris guest’s, “1 am too fat for tree work, I can’t 
climb up. I stand and shoot,” 

My father’s death was occasioned not by any mishap when he 
was out after tiger, but by a long day’s water-fowling near 
Poona ill August 1885. There were several hours’ heavy rain, 
the going underfoot was heavy and wet, and my father was 
soaked to the skin. He caught a severe cliiU wliich turned 
swiftly and fatally to pneumonia. He was dead eight days 
later. 

Tills was, I can see now, the first big emotional and spiritual 
crisis of my life. It ended the only carefree period I had ever known. 
There was at once a forlorn and kindly attenmt to prevent me 
from missing my father or being allowed to feel unhappy. But 
the prevalent sense of deep mourning and sadness enveloped the 
eight-year-old boy that I was. I as his heir was in a sense the 
immediate focus of a great new and pressing sense of responsi- 
bility. Our family, our dmigre dependmts, our Ismaili supporters 
all over the Islamic world, deeply mourned my father s death, 
but they also turned to me, cluld as I was, now and for the rest of 
my Hfe henceforth entrusted with the sacred charge to which I 
had been born. The change in my circumstances came home to me 
early and insistently. My father’s body was embalmed and brought 
from Poona to Bombay and thence sent to be buried at Nejaf 
on the west bank of the Euphrates, near Cufa and the tomb of our 
ancestor the Imam AH — one of the holiest places 011 earth for the 
Shias. No sooner were these rites accompHshed than a new 
regime was immediately instituted for me. 

It was, of course, a direct consequence of my new station, but 
to tills day I cannot understand why I did not die or turn into an 
utter dunce under the treatment which I was given. My educa- 
tion for the responsibilities and tasks which I had inherited was 
serious and strenuous and it had to be fitted into a regular system 
of seasonal family migration. From November to April during the 
cold weather of each year we were in Bombay; in April and May 
we were at Mahabaleshwar; from June to October we were in 
Poona and in October wc went for a short spell to one of the 



THE MEMOIRS OP AGA ivHAN 

smaller hiU stations, and thence back to Bombay. For ten 
years — from 1885 to 1895 — tins system continued unchanged; and 
in it there was no room for a holiday for me, a month, a fortnight, 
even a week off the chain; at the most a rare day. And relentlessly 
was I held on the chain. 

Tliis was the typical and unchanging pattern of my days: I was 
called between six and half-past, and had my breakfast— a weak 
tea, bread, butter, jam, and a Persian sweet. At seven, whether I 
wanted to or not, I had an hour’s riding — a canter or sometimes 
a gallop on one of the Poona rides or on the racecourse, or at 
Bombay along the sands. From eight to half-past eleven I had 
lessons with my English and French teachers. Then I had luncheon 
and I was free untd two o’clock. Thereafter I had three hours’ 
instruction in Arabic. A drive or some tennis in the garden, or 
some sort of relaxation, was then permitted until dinner at seven 
o’clock. After dinner came the horror of horrors. I was set down 
to two hours of caUigraphy of the dreariest and most soul- 
destroying kind. My mother had been impressed by the advice 
— the foolish advice as it turned out — of Arabic and Persian 
scholars and pedants, who had assured her that calligraphy in the 
classical Persian and Arabic scripts was of the liighest importance, 
and they pointed out to her that my two half-brothers who had 
died had both had beautiful handwriting. My mother, my uncles, 
and everyone else iit our household united in compelling me to 
tliis horrible calligraphy. It was in fact a very real martyrdom for 
me because no one had realized tliat I was from birth so short- 
sighted that to read or write I had to hold a book or paper an 
inch or two from my nose, and in my vision of the world farther 
than those few inches from my nose there was no definition and 
no delight, for everything I saw — gardens, lulls, sea, or jimgle — 
was a haze. The simplicity and the sadness of my affliction were 
for years unnoticed, and how in the end it came to be rectified 
I shall describe a Htde later. 

The discipline to which I was subjected was rigid, and even the 
little free time that I was allowed was subject to invasion. For it 
was my duty, young as I was, to receive those of my followers 
who came to our home to offer their loyal respects. Saturdays 
and feast days were the usual occasions of the receptions, and 
my guests would sit in the garden, bowing and paying compli- 



CulLLtHOOD AND YOUTH 

ments, bringing gifts and receiving thanks, blessings, and bene- 
dictions. My part in these ceremonies was august and ordained 
by tradition — but a cliild resented the fact that they were in the 
small amount of free time allowed by the curriculum and never, 
never m lesson time. 

Such was the regime to which, at eight, I was subjected. Per- 
haps it might be appropriate to give here a brief account of my 
way of Hfe hi later years. While I have not changed my basic 
principles in outlook there have obviously been certain marked 
modifications in my pattern of existence. The Aga Khan who 
dined with Queen Victoria in 1898 was not quite the same person 
as the Aga Khan who had tea with Queen Elizabeth in 1953. But 
tliroughout this long period I snatched hours out of my daily 
routine as even now I snatch them for reading poetry, fiction, 
newspapers, and fiterary and critical periodicals. This has been a 
persistent trait in my character for sixty years. In the same way I 
have daily given a certain amount of time to physical exercise. 
Until I was about fifty, the time that I gave to physical exercise 
was devoted to boxing, Sandow’s exercises, Indian clubs, long 
walks, and in the early years of the century long cycling tours 
through France, Italy, Germany, and other European countries. 
After I was fifty I had to substitute tennis and golf for these more 
violent forms of exercise. And since I was sixty I have had to 
confine myself to golf and walking. 

My social fife also has naturally varied — not only because I 
myself have grown older but because the economic conditions 
of the world before 1914 were totally different from those of 
today. In the spheres in which I lived forty years ago and more 
social activity was intense. If not daily, certainly four or five days 
a week there were either dinner parties or luncheon parties 
wherever I happened to find myself, and there was the same round 
of theatre and opera parties. Between the two wars tliis part of 
life very much decreased and I might say that social engagements 
dropped in the ratio of 20 to 100. After the Second World War 
these social engagements have "withered away~except when my 
wife and I ask a few friends wherever I may be to lunch or opera 
or theatre parties. The great social epoch was between 1898 and 
the opening of the 1914 war. I knew most of the members of the 
Royal FainiLies of Europe whom I met over and over again. 



THE MEMOIRS OF AOA ivtiAN 


with the aristocracy and plutocracy that were like sateUites re- 
volving about major planets whether in London or Paris, Rome, 
Berlin, Monte Carlo or Cannes, Nice or St. Moritz. That social 
hfe is a thing of the past for me. Really it came to an end with the 
outbreak of the 1914 war because the society I met between the 
two wars was fundamentally a dift'erent one. 

To give an idea of the social change 1 might say that between 
1898 and 1914I was a guest ninety-nine times out ofahundredand 
only one per cent a host — between the two wars it became about 
fifty-fifty and gradually it came down to be less and less; and 
since the last war I fmd that it is I who am the host nine times out 
of ten. 

Now with the changes in my own life and the society in wliich 
I move thus briefly assessed against the background of nearly sixty 
years, how do I live now, when I am at home in my viUa at 
Cannes, when we are in our house in Bombay, or when we are 
in hotels in London or Paris, in Venice, Geneva or Evian— some 
eight months in every year? 

The day begins for me — as it has begtm since my early youth 
— at four a.m. I wake up automatically about that time and spend 
the first hour — between four and five — at intense prayer. There 
are no statues in my bedroom and a special prayer carpet is always 
prepared and my tasbee, my rosary, is always with me. At five 
I go back again to sleep and wake up some time between eight 
and nine when I have immediately a breakfast of toast, tea, 
honey — but no butter. By ten I have looked at the newspapers, 
had a wash, am dressed, and usually go out for a walk of anything 
between one and two nnles, or I play nine holes of golf. If there 
is rain I do not go out. Until about one o’clock I am at work with 
my secretaries, dcahng with my correspondence, writings, and 
various business matters. I rarely leave anytliing undone from one 
day to another and usually have very little left-overs. At one or 
one-thirty I lunch, when at Cannes, in our own house, but when 
anywhere else at some restaurant or other — rarely in the hotel 
restaurant. Lunch is my main meal of the day and consists of 
fish, eggs, or meat, but only one of the three and never a combina- 
tion of the tlnree — rice regularly, two vegetables and cooked 
fruit, ice cream or sometimes pudding. 

When in Paris or London, sometimes in the afternoon I may 

14 







At his installation as Imam, the Aga Khan ascends the Gadi in Bombay in iSSs 


W4. 




CnILDHOOU AND YOUrH 


go to a race meeting, or I may catch up with activities such as 
my correspondence, or my reading. About five or six a cup of 
tea, and then until seven or eight I usually try and read again, 
poetry, works of fiction, magazines of hterary criticism, and I 
read thorouglrly the morning and evening newspapers. Dinner 
consists only of fresh fruit. I never take anything cooked or salty 
at night. If the fruit is not good, then a salad. When on rare 
occasions I am asked to dimier I usually ask the host to give me 
salad and fruit or such raw vegetables as celery, tomatoes, etc. 

Both my wife and I are devoted to the theatre, the opera, and 
the ballet. In towns like London and Paris we go to one or the 
other four or five times a week and usually take a few friends 
with us. In places like Cannes we occasionally go to the local 
theatre during the season — sometimes to the Nice opera or to 
Monte Carlo or similar places. I usually go to bed quickly after 
the theatre. My hfe-long experience has taught me that sleep is 
like walking — you can derive from four or five hours of sleep 
as much benefit as you can from eight or nine hours, just as in 
twenty minutes’ brisk walk you can get as much benefit as from 
two houi's of loitering about the streets and looking in shop 
windows. In a word, you can either sleep slow or sleep fast. I am 
a firm beUever m brisk sleeping. I am bappy to say while I sleep 
I sleep — ^when I go to bed I have no time to lose — even if they 
wake me up for anything I immediately fall back; and practically 
all my Hfe I have never had dreams. I tliink that is due to the fact 
that I have rationalized my sleep as I have rationalized my exercise. 
Those who suffer from dreams may find a measure of peace and 
may overcome physical and moral strain if they can so arrange 
their habits as to concentrate on the business at hand. 

But, to return to my youth; I had tliree British tutors — a Mr. 
Gallagher, who was Irish, a Mr. Lawrence, and another Irishman, 
Mr. Keimy. All three were found for me by the Jesuits in Bombay. 
It may seem strange that my family turned to the Jesuits for my 
education in Western matters, but both in Bombay and in Poona 
there are big and important Jesuit schools, and both quite near 
where we lived — St. Mary’s in Bombay and St. Vincent’s in 
Poona. All the children of our considerable household— the ever- 
multiplying descendants of my grandfather’s hangers-on, pen- 
sioners, relatives, and old soldiers — ^went to these Jesuit schools. 

B 15 



THE MEMOIRS OF AUA i^uAN 

The whole household knew the Jesuit fathers well, and nothing 
was easier than to get their advice and help. 

There was never a hint, by the by, of their attempting to con- 
vert any of our MusUm cliildren to their own creed. They re- 
spected Islam and never by open argument, by suggestion, or 
insinuation did they seek to weaken a MusHm’s faith. This is one 
of the clearest recollections of my cliildhood; and I have seen the 
same phenomenon repeated in contemporary Egypt and Pakistan. 
One day a few years ago I discussed it with an eminent Jesuit, 
a Spaniard, and cross-examined him about it. 

“What the devil do you want to come and waste your time 
for?” I said. “You’re a missionary, and you’ve got all these oppor- 
tunities to do your missionary work, but you never try to con- 
vert a single boy! What are you here for? What do you get out 
of all these huge sums you’re spendmg on teachers and building? 
What’s it all about?” 

The Jesuit, who was an old friend of mine, smiled Iris sidelong 
smile and said: “Don’t you see what we’re getting out of it?” 

“No.” 

“You are paying us. To every MusHm and non-Christian boy 
we give the best education we can. But we make them pay through 
the nose for it. For those who pay, our school fees are enormous, 
but our poor Catholic children get their education free. So in- 
directly you’re paying for it, and our poor get a first-class 
education at your expense.” 

So far as I was concerned, the tliree teachers the Jesuits found 
for me were all excellent men. The schooling wliich tlrey gave me 
was not in the least narrow or restricted. They hfted my mind to 
_wide horizons, they opened my eyes to the outside w^IH/flie^ 
were wise, broadminded men, with a sthnulating zest for know- 
ledge and the ability to impart it — ^whether in science, liistory, or 
pohtics. Most important of all perhaps, they encouraged me to read 
for myself, and from the time I was ten or thereabouts, I burrowed 
freely iato our vast Hbrary of books in EngHsh, French, Persian, 
and Arabic. My three tutors gave me the hey to knowledge, and 
for that I have always been profoundly grateful to Mr. Gallagher, 
Mr. Lawrence, and Mr. Kenny. 

Of them I can say nothing but good. But, alas, of the man 
responsible for my education in Arabic and Persian and hi all 



CHILDHOOD AND iOUiH 


matters Islamic 1 have nothing but bad to say. He was extremely 
learned, a profound scholar, with a deep and extensive knowledge 
of Arabic literature and of Islamic history, but all liis learning had 
not widened his nhnd or warmed his heart. He was a bigoted ( 
sectarian, and in spite of his vast reading Iris mind was one of the 1 
darkest and narrowest that I have ever encountered. If Islam had 
indeed been the tiling he taught then surely God had sent , 
Mohammed not to be a blessing for all mankind but a curse. ' 

It was saddening and in a sense frightening to listen to hun talk. 
He gave one the feeling that God had created men solely to send 
them to hell and eternal damnation. However deep and precise 
liis knowledge — and I admit that in both these respects it was 
almost unique — it had withered into bitterness and hate. In later 
years he returned to Tehran where he became a great and re- 
nowned teacher of Islamic lore and acquked the reputation of 
being one of the most learned scholars in all Iran, yet to the 
end, I think, he must have remained the bigoted mullah whom I 
knew. 

Perhaps it was this early experience which for the rest of my 'i 
life has given me a certain prejudice against professional men of 
religion — be they mullahs or maulvis, curates, vicars, or bishops. 
Many of them I admit are exemplary people. Simple religious 
people — ^village cures in France, the hiunbler priestliood in rural 
Italy, humble, pious and gentle sisters in hospitals all over the 
world — ^I have known, admired, and revered. In England I have 
had many friends all my hfe among the Quakers, and I am aware 
of a tranquil sense of mental and spiritual communion with them, 
for our mutual respect for each other’s behefs — ^mine for their 
Quakerism, theirs for my Islamic faith— is absolute. The vast 
majority of MusHm behevers all over the world are charitable and 
gently disposed to those who hold other faiths, and they pray for 
divine forgiveness and compassion for all. There developed, how- 
ever, in Iran and Iraq a school of doctors of religious law whose 
outlook and temper — ^intolerauce, bigotry, and spiritual aggres- 
siveness — resembled my old teacher’s, and in my travels about 
the world I have met too many of their kind — Christian, Muslim, 
and Jew — ^who ardently and ostentatiously sing the praises of the 
Lord, and yet are eager to send to hell and eternal damnation all 
except those who hold precisely their own set of opinions. For 

17 



THE MEMOIES OF AGA j^HAN 

many years, I must confess, this is a sort of person I have sought to 
avoid. 

It was strange and it was out of place that a boy, whose home 
and upbringing were such as mine in India, should have been 
submitted in adolescence to a course of this narrow and formahst 
Islamic indoctrination. For my early environment was one of the 
widest tolerance; there was in our home never any prejudice 
against Hindus or Huiduism, and a great many of our attendants 
and servants — our gardeners, messengers, sepoys, and guards, and 
many of those whose work was comiected with buying and sell- 
ing, marketing and rent collection — ^were Hindus. 

In addition, my modier was herself a genuine mystic in the 
Mushm tradition (as were most of her closest companions) ; and 
she habitually spent a great deal of time in prayer for spiritual 
enlightenment and for rmion with God. In such a spirit there was 
no room for bigotry. Like many other mystics my mother had a 
profound poetic understanding. I have in somctlung near ecstasy 
heard her read perhaps some verses by Roumi or Hafiz, with their 
exquisite analogies between man’s beatific vision of the Divine 
and the temporal beauty and colours of flowers, the music aird 
the magic of the night, and the transient splendours of the Persian 
dawn. Then I would have to go back to my gloomy treadmill and 
hear my tutor cursing and railing as was Iris habit. Since he was 
a Shia of the narrowest outlook he concentrated liis most 
ferocious hatred not on non-Muslims, not even on those who 
persecuted the Prophet, but on tlie cahphs and companions of the 
Prophet, his daughter and two grandcliildren. Iris son-in-law Ah, 
and about four or five of the closest companions of Hazrat Ah; 
all others were enemies of God and of His Prophet, who had 
striven to encompass the Prophet’s death and after liis death had 
brutally murdered Ah — ^liis adopted sou and natural successor — 
and All’s sons, his beloved grandcliildren. This form of Shiaism 
attains its chmax during the month of Moharram with its lamenta- 
tions and its dreadful cursings. Reaction against its hatred, intoler- 
ance, and bigotry has, I know, coloured my whole life, and I have 
found my answer m the simple prayer that God in His infinite 
mercy will forgive the sins of all Mushms, the slayer and the slain, 
and that ah. may be reconciled in Heaven in a final total absolution. 
And I further pray that ah who truly and sincerely believe in God, 

t8 



(JhILUhOOD and youth 

be they Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or Brahmin, who strive to do 
good and avoid evil, who are gentle and kind, will be joined in 
Heaven and be granted final pardon and peace. I could wish that 
all of other creeds would have this same charity towards Muslims; 
but — ^with those honourable, humble exceptions whom I have 
mentioned — this is not an attitude that I have encountered among 
Christian divines. It is a sad and harsh tiling to say, but I beHeve 
it to be true that, in general, the higher a man’s position in any of 
the various churches, the more severe and the less charitable is his 
attitude to Muslims and to Islam. 

The home in which I was brought up was, as you can sec, a 
Hterary one. I have referred to my mother’s poetic sense. She was 
deeply versed in Persian and Arabic Hterature, as were several of 
her ladies-in-waiting and closest women friends. My mother 
knew a great deal of poetry by heart and she had a flair for the 
appropriate classical quotation — a flair which, I may say, she never 
lost throughout her long Hfe. Even when she was nearly ninety 
she was never at a loss for the right and apt quotation, not merely 
from one of the great poets such as Hafiz and Firdausi or Roumi, 
but from many a minor or little-known writer. 

One little anecdote may illustrate tins. Shortly before she died 
a cousin of mine quoted one night at dinner a verse of Persian 
poetry which is rarely heard. In order not to bother my mother or 
worry her, I attributed it to Hafiz. Not at all, said my mother, 
that is not by Hafiz, and she gave the name of the line and the 
name of the rather obscure poet who wrote it. 

A consequence of this characteristic was that at mealtimes at my 
mother’s table there were no occasions of idle gossip or titde- 
tattle. Our conversation was of literature, of poetry; or perhaps 
one of tire elderly ladies, who travelled to and from Tehran a great 
deal, would talk about her experiences at the Court of the Shah. 

A clear light slhnes on tliis phase of my boyhood. Was I happy 
or unhappy? I was soHtary, in the sense that I had no companions 
of my own age, except my beloved cousin Aga Shamsuddin and 
his brother Abbas who were of the same age and the same out- 
look and were the closest and clearest friencTs of my youth, but I 
had so few hoHdays and so Httle free time, what could I have done 
with a host of friends? One fact stands out extremely clearly — ■! 
worked hard, a great deal harder than most young schoolboys. 

10 



THE MEMOIRS OP AOA ivUAN 

By the time I was thirteen I could read and write English, toler- 
able French, perfect Persian, and fair Arabic; I had a sound know- 
ledge of Roman Ihstory as well as of Islamic liistory. I was well 
grounded in at least the elements of science — chemistry and 
physics, botany, biology, and zoology. Nor was my scientific 
education merely theoretical; in each of our houses I had a small 
laboratory and I had a set period of practical, experimental labora- 
tory work every day. 

As I have remarked, I early acquired an insatiable taste for read- 
ing. It developed rapidly from the time that I was ten or so and 
when I had, temporarily at any rate, plumbed the resources of our 
hbrary, I looked elsewhere. I wanted to buy books for myself. 
But tliere was one small impediment: my mother allowed me no 
pocket money. My cousin and I organized for ourselves a brilliant 
way around this difficulty. Each of us put on an abba (a wide, 
all-enveloping cloak wliich is, or used to be, a universal piece of 
clotliing in Persia and the Arab countries). Thus garbed we made 
our way to a well-known Bombay bookshop. One of us engaged 
the shopkeeper in eager conversation, and the other shd some 
books into the folds of Ids abba. Our little device was pretty soon 
spotted, and the proprietor of the shop told my uncle and my 
mother. Natmrally our bill was promptly settled, but the family 
decided that we should be taught a lesson. Nothing was said to us 
and we continued our naughty little game. We were at it one 
day when into the shop walked my imcle. 

“Take off your abbasl" he ordered sternly. 

As we did so the books which we had stolen tumbled to the 
floor. Our shame and our mortification were immediate and com- 
plete, and from that day to this I don’t think I have ever so much 
as picked a flower m anyone else’s garden without telluig them. 

I continued my reading — but not with stolen books. And a 
year or two later my reading and indeed my whole outlook on 
life, were profoundly and permanendy transformed by a small, 
wise decision; much that had hitherto been pain and h ar dship 
became pleasure and deUght; my health was immediately im- 
noved, and I am sure I was saved much trouble and misfortune in 
ater life. Mr. Kenny, the tlfird and last of my European tutors, 
lad at one time been employed by a firm of opticians. As soon as 
he saw me setde down to work he realized how terrible — and how 



CHILDHOOD AND i OUTH 

dangerous — ^was the torture to which, tlirough my congenital 
shortsight and the ignorance on these matters of those by whom I 
was surrounded, I was being daily and hourly submitted. 

It is strange and sad to recall that already, more than once 
before Mr. Kenny’s arrival, I had in fun picked up and put on a 
pair of glasses left lying about by one of our family or friends. 
The moment I put them on I discovered the joy of a new and 
exciting world; a world of human beings of definite and different 
shapes, a world of green trees and brightly coloured flowers, and 
of sharp, strong hght, instead of the perpetual haze and fog, the 
world blurred at the edges, which was aU that an extremely 
myopic httle boy could see. But those minutes of joy were of 
short duration, and were mdeed forbidden, for the servants had 
orders to take the glasses away from me, since my family could 
not beUeve that a child could be shortsighted and drought that I 
was being self-indulgent and silly. Mr. Kenny immediately recog- 
nized my present pHght and its imphcations for my future. He 
insisted on taking me to the firm of opticians whose employee he 
had been; he had my eyes tested and had me fitted with proper 
glasses both for reading and for distance. My uncles strove to 
interfere, but Mr. Kemiy was adamant, he carried with him the 
prestige of the West, and he won the day. This sensible and kindly 
action saved me infinite pain and worry, and gave me a new 
world in which to hve. 

***** 

What sort of a world was it to wliich my boyish eyes were thus 
opened? What sort of a fife was it to which I was being educated? 
First and most important, I was by inheritance the spiritual head 
and leader of a far-flung, extremely diverse community of far 
from neghgible significance in the Islamic world. As soon as I 
was capable of so doing, I had to assume responsibility and take 
decisions. I was installed on the Gadi of Imams in 1885, when I was 
eight years old, and there is a photograph in existence of this 
ceremony, winch vividly recalls a vanished epoch. A few years 
later I found myself exercising my influence and authority in a 
matter of considerable importance in the life of Bombay — a 
security matter as we should say nowadays. In the early nineties 
there was an outburst of savage communal rioting in Bombay. I 



THE MiiMOIRS OF AOA jo-tlAN 

issued strict orders to all my followers that they were to avoid 
participation in the disturbance. The effect of my order was not 
merely negative; it helped to abate anger and re-estabhsh peace in 
Bombay between MusUms and Hindus. This — my first indepen- 
dent political action — earned the thanks of the Governor and the 
Commissioner of Pofice in Bombay, and boy though I still was it 
did much to win for me the regard of political leaders of all 
commimities. 

For by tliis time my household, followers, supporters, relatives, 
and hangers-on made up an important clement in the population 
of Bombay, and (as I shall have to relate shortly) they ultimately 
created a security problem of their own. My grandfather, con- 
scious that he was an exile from Persia, and conscious perhaps that 
tlie greater part of his adventurous and exciting career was over 
when he setded in Bombay, took no part in Indian politics. My 
father, during the Governorship of Sir James Fergusson, accepted 
a seat on the Bombay Legislative Council, In my maturity my 
poHtical interests and ideals were to take me far further afield, but 
the domam to which in the late eighties and early nineties I was 
growing up was not without its own poHtical, administrative, 
social, and economic problems and perplexities. 

My grandfather, both in Poona and Bombay, had been able 
to lead a largely insulated hfe of his own, ahnost medieval in its 
style and pattern, the like of winch has long since passed away. 
He brought with him from Persia the pastimes of Persian noble- 
men of that era, and the splendid and feudal manner of organizing 
those pastimes. Field sports were a major passion hi the society in 
which he grew up; lavish racing stables were maintained; packs of 
hounds were bred, and there was continual scarcliing for the best 
hawks to be found in Iran and Iraq. All these interests he brought 
with him into exile — and a great retinue of followers who were 
identified with them. As soon as he settled in Bombay he bought 
and raced horses — Arab, English, Australian, even Turkoman; 
he collected hawks and hounds anew; and the pattern of his life 
was arranged round these diversions. liis day began at six in the 
morning either with a deer hunt or after birds, or — in the racing 
season — a visit to the training grounds to watch liis horses being 
put through their paces. By nine o’clock he would be home. He 
would have a substantial breakfast, and then go to bed. fii the 



CillLUHOOD AND YOUTH 


middle of the afternoon he would get up, go to a race meeting 
or more hunting until dusk. Then he would come home and 
spend the night on Iris tasks as the leader of liis community — 
receiving his followers, conducting his correspondence, looking 
into matters of finance and the like. He would break for a fairly 
big meal at about nine o’clock, and then work on until five in the 
morning, when he would have a light meal before beginning the 
day’s round again. These were habits famihar to him and many 
others of the ruling class of his time in Iran and Afghanistan, and 
he saw no reason not to maintain them in the surroundings of Iris 
later life. 

I may say, incidentally, that my grandfather had a run of success 
as an owner on the Indian turf, in the fifties, sixties, and seventies 
of the last century, very similar to my own in England and 
France from the twenties to the fifties of this century. 

My father during liis brief reign, continued in much the same 
way this manner of hving, widening and increasing the stud and 
organizing his hawks and his hounds in a fashion and on a scale 
that evoked the admiration of everyone who imderstood these 
matters, travellers from Europe, for example, and members of the 
British ruling class who held liigh official positions in India. It 
was to fall to me to adapt and modify this outlook and way of 
hfe to changing times. 

It was inevitable that during my minority the British Raj and 
its representatives in Bombay should take a close interest in my 
welfare and my upbringing. My boyhood coincided with what 
was no doubt the heyday of British paternalism in India. The Raj 
seemed effortlessly secure and unshakable; its representatives and 
officials — 'most of whom were enHghtened and liberal men whose 
minds were in tune with the temper of the liigh Victorian age in 
which they had matured — ^were serenely self-confident. Their 
actions and their decisions found their source in a mental and 
spiritual strength which their successors were to lose. The mutiny 
was a far-off memory, and indeed its eflfect had seemed to be 
almost totally confined to Northern India. Nationalism was only 
just beginning to stir in the wmmb of time. Congress existed, 
having been brought into being in the early eighties by the energy 
and effort of a British member of the I.C.S., a Mr. Hume. A 
similar MusUm organization was estabhshed a little later, and my 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


eldest half-brother was one of its founders. But few would have 
believed that these were the first portents of all the stress and 
upheaval of later years. 

Relations between British and Indian were in general easy, 
amiable, and without strain. The then Governor of Bombay, 
Lord Reay, was a Gladstonian Liberal, high-principled, benevo- 
lent, and aifable, and sustained in liis duty by a charming and 
talented wife. And the Bombay Army Commander was no other 
than H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s yoimgest 
son, who made soldiering liis career, as befitted a godson and 
namesake of Arthur, first Duke of Wellington. Prom the first it 
was my particular good fortune that the Duke and Duchess of 
Connaught took in me a close, affectionate, and continuing 
interest. They would come to tea at our house several times a year, 
and I as a child was more frequently asked to their home and there 
agreeably spoiled and given perhaps more toffee and chocolate than 
was altogether good for me. These visits back and forth were red- 
letter days for me. At Poona and at Mahabaleshwar the Duke was 
a very near neighbour; every day, and often several times a day, 
we would encounter liim out riding, and we would stop and the 
Duke would have a talk witli me. Thus in a fashion I was brought 
up close to the British Royal Family and in later years, when I 
met Queen Victoria, she said at once, I remember, that she had 
heard aU about me and my home from her son. 

Similar frequent and informal visits were exchanged between 
my family and the Governor; and as a boy in the Reays' time I 
was often taken to tea at Government House. There was in these 
relationships at tliis period no sense of tension, no standoffislmess, 
and no condescension; they were c ordial and confident — very 
difierent from those that developed in later years. The narrow, 
intolerant "imperiaUstic” outlook associated with Kipling’s name, 
and with some of liis more unfortunate observations (of the order 
of “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet”, 
for example), had not then emerged. Had social Ufc and relations 
between British and Indians continued to be as they were in the 
eighties, I greatly doubt whether pohtical bitterness would have 
developed to the extent it did, and possibly something far less 
total than the severance of the Repubhc of India from the Imperial 
connection would have been feasible. 

24 



C±llLDHOOD AND YOUTH 

Queen Victoria herself was, of course, sharply conscious of the 
responsibilities, not only political but personal and social, wliich 
she had assumed with the splendid title of Empress of India. She 
insisted that Indian princes and Indian gentlefolk should receive 
the respect and the dignified status accorded in those days to 
European princes and gentlefolk. The Duke of Connaught faith- 
fully practised her principles during his time in India. The Viceroy 
and Vicereine, Lord and Lady Dufferin, were, like Lord and Lady 
Reay, people of kind and gende sensibility, warm hearts, and 
graceful maimers. A tone thus set could not be ignored, and Indo- 
British relationships in general were of this pattern. There was 
agreeable and unstrained social mixing at receptions, on the race 
course, or on the polo ground. 

There is an outstanding example that I recall: Sir Jamsetjc 
Jeejeebhoy, a notable figure in the Parsee community in Bombay, 
gave a reception for the Viceroy and Vicereine, Lord and Lady 
Dufferin, for the Governor of Bombay and his wife, Lord and 
Lady Reay, and for the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. AH the 
leading representatives of all the communities in Bombay were 
present, and just as would have happened in England or any other 
country, Sir Jeejeebhoy, as host, offered his arm to Lady Dufferin 
and went into the supper room, and the Viceroy followed with 
his hostess, Lady Jeejeebhoy, and everyone else went after in turn. 
A few years later — and thereafter, until the end of the Indian 
Empire — it would have been inconceivable that the Viceroy, a 
prince of the British Royal House and the Governor of a great 
province of British India, would have gone to a reception at the 
house of a Parsee gentleman, however distinguished, and allowed 
him to lead the Vicereine in first and then have followed with his 
hostess. Rigid protocol replaced easy good manners — to the grave 
detriment not only of social life but of something, in the end, 
much more important. But in those happy days Empire did not 
mean “imperialism” — social vulgarity, and worse, social aggres- 
siveness and liigh-handedness. It is true that the clubs were closed 
to Indians but that fact had none of the neurotic significance which 
it took on subsequently; nobody minded Europeans having a 
small enclave of their own, and social relations outside were on a 
basis of free equality, 

A curious fact not without a tinge of irony in it, is that in the 



THE MEMOIRS OP AGA j^HAN 


eighties many Indian ladies on their own initiative were coming 
out of purdah and were receiving Europeans in their homes with 
cordial hospitality. It was the result of a spontaneous feehng 
among Indian ladies that they could not keep back m the general 
atmosphere of goodwill and the removal of restraurt. Had this 
atmosphere been maintained it is possible that in Western India 
at any rate, purdah would have broken down gradually among 
the upper classes decades before it did. 

Tliis was a happy period whose temper and outlook I have 
sought to evoke in some detail, for in the harsh and strained years 
winch followed it was forgotten. The change, it seems to me, set 
in sharply in 1890. The Duke of Connaught went home and liis 
great influence for good in all social matters was lost. He was 
followed as Army Commander by General Sir George Greaves 
(reputedly the original of General Bangs in Kipling’s “A Code 
of Morals”).^ Lord Reay too retired, and was succeeded by Lord 
Harris, a famous and enthusiastic cricketer, but a Conservative of 
the rising new imperialist school of thought. Our relations with 
Government House, though perfectly friendly, became more 
formal and less familiar. The whole tone of relationships stiffened. 
No longer were the easy, frequent receptions and entertainments 
attended by people of all connnumties. At Government House 
there were merely a few rigidly formal garden parties at wliich 
social minghng began to be discouraged. Less and less did Euro- 
peans invite Indians to their houses, and soon it became rare for 
the races to meet around a luncheon or diimcr table. Even on 
occasions where rigid separation was obviously impossible, as at 
race meetings, colour differences began to show themselves. Sets 
were formed, not on the natural basis of personal sympathy and 
antipathy, but on the artificial and unwholesome basis of race and 
colour. This is an outlook against winch I, who had spent my 
most impressionable years in a totally different atmosphere, was 
to react strongly. 

In Bombay in the nineties perhaps the first sufferers were the 

^ Years later, long after he had retired, I encountered General Greaves on 
the Dover-Calais steamer. He was alone, and I put the conventional question 
that courtesy prompted: “Is Lady Greaves going with you to Paris?” To 
wliich the warrior replied, “I don’t take a ham sandwich when I go to a 
banquet.” 



cjiiljjhood and youth 

Parsees. Energetic, efficient, socially as well as commercially gifted 
and adapted, they played an important role in easing and smooth- 
ing relations between British and Indians. They now sufiered the 
fate of the go-between who is no longer wanted. They were 
looked down on by both sides, and were more and more isolated 
to their own company and that of a few advanced Hindu and 
Muslim families. Europeans would no longer associate with them 
because they were Asiatics; Hindus and Muslims considered that 
they had tlrrowm in their lot with the Europeans and then had 
been cast aside. It was a disagreeable and unjust plight. 

An even unhappier change — and much more far-reaching in its 
effects — came over the official British view of nascent pohtical 
feehng. Congress, benevolently encouraged in its beginnings in 
the eighties and regarded (probably rightly) as a sign of growing- 
up in one or more members of the great Imperial family, was now 
thought to be a hostile poHtical organization whose ultimate aim 
could only be to weaken and destroy the British connection. The 
aUenation of the British ruling classes (or at any rate, die greater 
number of those they sent to India) from India’s educated classes, 
who were growing in nimibers and capacity, was both mental and 
spiritual. There was frigidity where there had been warmth; and 
in this process there were sovra almost aU the seeds of future 
bitterness. 

What happened to the Englishman has been to me all my life 
a source of wonder and astonislxmcnt. Suddenly it seemed that he 
felt that liis prestige as a member of an imperial, governing race 
would be lost if he accepted those of a different colour as funda- 
mentally his equals. The colour bar was no longer thought of as 
a physical difference, but far more dangerously — in the end dis- 
astrously — as an intellectual and spiritual difference. As long as 
Indians who adopted and imitated the European way of life were 
few it was possible for a servant and upholder of tlie Raj to feel 
that there was little danger of his unique position being under- 
mined by familiarity and overthrown by mnnbers. But now 
raciahsm — on both sides — ^marched on with giant’s strides. It was 
soon not merely a matter of the relationship between British 
rulers and the Indian ruled. The pernicious theory spread that all 
Asiatics were a second-class race, and that “wliite men” possessed 
some intrinsic and unchallengeable superiority. 



the memoirs of AGA jvHAN 

The infection had, I will admit, its ridiculous aspects. The 
Turkish Consul-General in Bombay happened— hkc many of the 
ruling and ofEcial classes m Ottoman Turkey — to be a Bosnian, 
a Slav, of hundred per cent European stock, but because he was 
a MusHm ignorant prejudice set him down as an “Asiatic”. Some 
EngHsh acquaintances took Ihm into one of their clubs. Other 
members made such a row about it that the Consul-General said 
flatly that, as a MusHm and the representative of a semi-Asiatic 
Empire, he had been treated with discourtesy and contempt on 
racial grounds, and wlule he would do Iris duties as ConsrJ- 
General, his contacts with the British in Bombay would hence- 
forth be severely official and he would have no personal relations 
with them. The Persian Consul shared Iris experience and his 
sentiments. The Japanese, who were emerging from their long 
seclusion from outside contact, moved cannily; they established 
their own commercial undertakings first, so that when their 
Consul came he found Japanese clubs and social gatherings already 
organized and did not feel isolated or dependent on the good 
graces of the Anglo-Indian community — in the old-fashioned 
sense of that word, Anglo-Indian. 

A root cause of the new attitude was fear and lack of inner 
self-confidence. A contributory factor was the presence, in increas- 
ing numbers, of British wives, with no knowledge of, or interest 
in, the customs and outlook of Indians. Fear afflicted people in 
trade and commerce just as much as—perhaps even more than — 
officials, The rift deepened and widened as time went on. The 
colour bar had to be kept rigid and absolute or (so fear nagged 
at those m its grip) some mysterious process of contamination 
would set in, and their faith in their own superiority and in their 
right — their moral, intellectual, and biological right — to rule 
others would be sapped. 

It was a neurotic attitude, very different from that of carHer 
times when men hke Sir Jolm Malcolm, Sir Mountstuart Elphin- 
stone, and later Lord Ripon and Lord Reay, took it sublimely for 
granted that England’s duty — once she had brought peace, unity, 
and prosperity to India and had taught its peoples the secrets of 
liberal government — would be, in the fuUness of time, to depart. 
There was no talk then of Dominion Status, but the precedents 
of Canada and of the rapidly growing colonies of Australia and 

■’8 



CUlLOJblUOU ANU lOUTH 

New Zealand were clear to see. But by the nineties all ideas of tliis 
sort bad been tlirown overboard as inbnical to the security of the 
Raj, disloyal, and seditious. 

I recall a breakfast party which I gave in Bombay for some 
senior British officials. Another guest was a cousin of mine — a 
devoted and loyal subject of the Queen and profoundly pro- 
British. But he was a student of history. He discoursed on the fact 
that an Asiatic race, the Arabs, had ruled Spain for five hmidred 
years and after their departure had left indelible and splendid 
marlcs of their civiHzation all over Southern Spain; and on the 
fact that another Asiatic race, the Turks, had estabHshed a major 
empire in the Balkans and around the Eastern Mediterranean and 
were still ruhng it after several centuries. My British guests took 
this as an affront. 

“We will not have such comparisons made,” they said. “Our 
rule is permanent, not something that lasts a few centuries and 
then disappears. Even to thuik as you tliink is disloyal.” 

Ideas like these seem strange indeed now in the 1950s, when we 
have seen British rule in India dissolve and pass away like early 
morning mist before strong sunhght. But this was the atmosphere 
in wliich my later boyhood was spent, with its unhappy, brooding 
awareness of deepening difference and of growing misunderstand- 
ing and hostihty. 


29 



CHAPTER II 


MY FIRST EUROPEAN TOUR 


W ITH approaching manliood niy life shaped itself into new 
chaimds of its own. More and more the duties and 
decisions impHcit in my inherited position devolved on 
me. I was never indeed subject to any Regency, in the accepted 
sense, and as my capacity to take decisions increased, so my 
'mother and my imcles encouraged me to accept responsibihty. 
My mother, who had insisted on the educational discipline of my 
early boyhood, was as shrewd and watchful as she was loving. 
She and I remained — as we did throughout her long life — in the 
closest, most affectionate intimacy. Every night in those years I 
would go to her apartments and Join with her in prayer — that 
prayer for unity, for companionship on high, wliich is the core 
of Muslim faith. Tliis shared experience gave us both, I tliink, 
the strength to bear our load of fatigue and anxiety, mental and 
spiritual, wliicli was by no means light during these difficult years. 
But my mother’s religion was resolutely practical as well; she 
saw no virtue in faith without works, and from the outset of 
my public career I accepted and sought to practise the same 
standards. 

My education continued until I was eighteen. Mr. Kenny, my 
Irish tutor, once more exerted his beneficent influence and per- 
suaded my mentors that I could give up my hated calligraphy. 
My mind was opening rapidly to new horizons; in my reading 
I began to range widely, m Enghsh and French as well as in 
Persian and Arabic; I discovered the intellectual deHght — the 
precision and clarity — of Alill’s system of logic. I read voraciously 
in lustory and biography, and with my cousin Shamsuddin I 
became an insatiable reader of novels — a diversion, I maj^ say, 
whose pleasures have never faded. 

On my father’s death his racing stables, of course, became my 

30 



MY rIRSi EUROPEAN TOUR 


property; and although I was a minor my horses raced under my 
name year after year, and long before I was out of my teens His 
Higlmess the Aga Khan’s horses were well known— and not with- 
out their successes — on the turf of Western India. There my 
inherited and environmental influences made themselves obvious 
from the first. AH my family — my mother not excluded — ^were 
keen followers of racing form, English as well as Indian. We 
were knowledgeable about the Enghsh turf; Ormonde’s glorious 
triumphs, for example, meant almost as much to us as they did to 
his backers on English race courses. I well remember that when I 
was quite small the victor in any pony races between myself and 
my cousins was hailed for the rest of the day as “Fred Archer”. 
Archer’s death m tragic circumstances plunged us all in gloom, 
almost as if a close friend had committed suicide. 

My successes as an owner were not insignificant. I may claim 
that for a time I — and my cousin Aga Shamsuddin, who was part- 
owner with me of a number of excellent horses — dominated the 
turf in Western India. Four times in succession I won the Nizam’s 
Gold Cup — the most important and valuable race in Western 
India. With a horse called Yildiz I won the Governor’s Cup in 
Poona during these years, and again somewhat later. 

I took up hunting, not of course fox hunting as in England, but 
jackal himfing both in Poona and Bombay. It happens that I have 
never hunted the fox in England, but frankly I know no more 
exhilarating sport than jackal hunting in Bombay over the rice 
fields on an early, cold winter morning when the scent is good 
and hounds get a good long run after the wily jackal. 

I was a pioneer of another sport in India — ^hockey, which now- 
adays is one of the main national games of botli India and Pakistan, 
I began to play it with my cousin and other companions of my 
own age in the early rdneties. I encouraged interest in the game; 
I gave the cups; I got the Indian Army to play. Teams were built 
up among the various communities in Bombay, and competitions 
extended steadily all over India. Hockey and cricket developed at 
much the same time in India, cricket fostered and encouraged by 
the then Governor of Bombay, Lord Harris; yoimg Indians who 
had been to England for some part of their education continued 
the game when they came home, and it exerted an appeal wliich 
it has never lost, wliich has extended to wider and wider circles in 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


India and Pakistan, both of wliich now produce teams of Test- 
Match calibre and quahty. 

In my late teens I took up boxing, and made a serious study 
and use of Eugene Sandow’s System of Physical Culture. All 
my hfe I have been a keen advocate and practitioner of simple, 
forthright principles of physical fitness. I have always been a 
behever in steady exercise. I was a great waUcer; I took up golf 
after I was fifty, and one of the catch-phrases wliich journahsts 
used about me was that my two great ambitions were “to win 
the Derby and the Open Golf Championship”. Well, I have won 
the Derby — and more than once; the other ambition (if it was 
ever more than a journahst’s invention!) is unfulfilled, but my 
handicap for years was twelve. But I have never befieved in 
cramming, as many EngHslimen do, a great deal of exercise into 
a few hours over the week-end, and taking httle or none during 
the rest of the week; a certain amount of steady exercise every day 
has been my habit — exercise to be fitted into the programme of 
a busy day. 

A memorable experience of my later boyhood was meeting 
Mark Twain. I spent a whole afternoon in his company and 
finished by having dinner with him at Watson’s Hotel in Bombay, 
where he was staying. He had a pleasant, utterly unassuming 
charm and a friendhness of manner which captivated the serious- 
minded lad that I was. 

He had amassed a considerable fortime, I beHeve, and had lost 
it in bad speculation. Now in old age he had to begin to earn his 
hving all over again, therefore he was travelhng around the world 
and inteiwiewing people on the way.^ He showed absolutely no 
sign of bitterness or resentment against liis misfortune. Tie seemed 
to me dear, gentle and saintly, sad and immensely modest for so 
great and famous a genius. He reminded me of one of those 
dehcate white flowers, so sensitive that when you touch them they 
recoil and fold their clear, waxen petals, as if too shy and retiring 
to tolerate the sHghtcst probe. 

More and more as my teens advanced my days were busy. I 
was keenly aware that I possessed a dual rcsponsibfiity, perhaps 
a dual opportmiity: first in India, as the leader of an influential 

1 Incidentally he refers to our encounter in his subsequent book New Innocents 
Abroad. 

■^2 



MY FIRSi EUROPEAN TOUR 

group within the wide Mushm community at an epoch when 
political aspirations were stirring, and second as the head of a 
far-ranging international community, a spiritual cliicf whose 
authority extended, in a tenuous yet sensitive network, into the 
heart of many lands and many peoples. I could never be solely an 
Indian nationaHst, although from 1892 onwards and mider the 
influence of wise and good men such as Sir Pherozeshah Mehta 
and Mr, Badruddin Tyebjee I took the standpoint of moderate 
Indian nationahsm of that time. My unique task, in a world in 
which the first hints and rumbles of impending conflict were to 
be discerned, was surely international. My followers were to be 
found in Burma and South-east Asia, hi greater and greater 
numbers along the Eastern African seaboard from Mombasa to 
East London and inland in South Africa; in Syria, Persia, and 
Afghanistan, in Cliinese Turkestan, in Russian territories in the 
heart of Central Asia and the Mesopotamian provinces of Turkey 
which were later to be knowm as Iraq. My home inevitably was 
a sounding board of ideas and beliefs, hopes, fears, and aspirations 
from all over the Islamic world. My primary advice, indeed my 
mandate, to my followers who were citizens of many countries, 
had to be then — and always has been — that the loyalty which they 
owe to my house and person is a spiritual and non-temporal 
loyalty, that their temporal allegiance is fuUy engaged to the 
State of which they are citizens, and that it is an absolute part of 
their duty to be good citizens. All my work, ha poUtics and 
diplomacy all my life, is comprehensible hi terms of this dual 
responsibiHty with wliich from my earhest days, I have been 
charged. 

"k 'k ic 'k if 

At the end of 1895 and the beginning of 1896 I was on the 
verge of manhood. The reins of my life’s task were now fuUy in 
ray hands. My tutors took their farewcU and bowed their way out 
of my life. I, hke many youths of my age in the East, thought of 
marriage; and naturally enough I looked around me in the small, 
confined family circle in wliich I had grown up. 

One of my earliest playmates in my childhood had been 
ray cousin, Shahzadi Begum, whose father, Aga Jungishah, was 
my uncle and one of my early mentors and exemplars. In our 



THE MEMOIRS OE AGA ivtlAN 

adolescence, as was usual in our time and society, we saw little or 
notliing of each other, but as I approached manliood I became 
sharply aware of my cousin’s beauty and charm, and I fell in 
love with her. It has been alleged, unldndly and unjustly, about 
my first marriage that it was a “State marriage”, arranged for 
my cousin and myself by our parents, for dynastic reasons. 
Notliing could be farther from the truth. I was a youth in love, 
groping towards that experience, that mingling of joy and pain, 
wliich turns a boy into a man. Mine and mine only was the initia- 
tive in the matter of marriage. I told my mother of my feeUngs 
and begged her to approach my uncle and his wife on my behalf, 
and ask their permission for me to marry Shahzadi. The overtures 
were made, my formal proposal was accepted. We were to be 
married witliin the year. Meanwhile my uncle and aimt, with 
their daughter and her brother, Shah Abbas, set forth on a pil- 
grimage to Mecca. The party, having made the Haj, set out for 
home, and on their way stayed for a time, as was customary, in 
Jeddah, the port on the Red Sea through which the vast majority 
of pilgrims to Mecca come and go. My uncle and cousin were 
assassinated hi brutal and violent circumstances; and my aunt and 
her daughter were in the house when the murders were com- 
mitted. PoHce investigation in the Western sense did not exist in 
Jeddah in those days; communications were scanty and mircHable. 
The Bombay poHce closely questioned returnhig Indian pilgrims 
and though much about the affray was, and has always remained, 
obscure, and although the assailants were said either to have imme- 
diately poisoned themselves or to have been beaten to death by 
the horror-struck attendants and bystanders, it is at least clear 
that my uncle and liis son were the victims of dastardly religious 
fanaticism. 

This ghasdy tragedy had a profound effect on me, both physic- 
ally and emotionally. AH tlirough that summer I was seriously fil, 
a prey to a succession of bouts of fever, with painful rheumatic 
symptoms. In October, when the great heat of the summer was 
over and the monsoon rains had passed, I made my first journey 
to Northern India. Hitherto my traveUiiig outside Western and 
Southern India, except for visits to Baghdad and to Bushirc and 
Muscat, had been extremely restricted. I now however acquired 
a taste for travel which I have certainly never abandoned. On 



MY FIRST nURUPiAN iOUR 

tliis first trip I visited the great shrines and centres of Muslim 
India at Agra, Delhi, and Lahore: that magnificent group of 
monuments to Islamic civilization and culture — the Taj Mahal, 
the Red Fort in Delhi, and the Friday Mosque, and those ex- 
quisite gems, the Pearl Mosques at Delhi and Agra. My way led 
me, too, to the Anglo-Mushm College (as it then was) at Aligarh, 
where I met Sir Syed Ahmed and Nawab Molisen-ul-MuB:. 
This was the origin of what was for many years one of the crucial 
concerns of my life — my interest in the extension and improve- 
ment of Muslim liigher education, and especially the College and 
University at Aligarh. 

I took up its cause then with a youthful fervour which I have 
never regretted. Aligarh in the 1890s was an admirable institution, 
but it was hampered and restricted by lack of fmids and lack of 
facilities. Did I realize then, young as I was, that it had in it to 
become a great power house of Muslim thought and culture and 
learning, in fuU accord with Islamic tradition and teaching, yet 
adapted to the outlook and the techniques of our present age? No 
one could have foretold all that did in fact happen; but I do know 
that I was on fire to see Aligarh’s scope widened and its useful- 
ness extended, and to find the money for it, by any short-cut 
means if necessary. Why not, said I in my youtliful rashness, go 
to some great American philanthropist — Mr. Rockefeller or Mr, 
Carnegie — and ask for a substantial grant? 

My new friends were older and sager. It was our responsibility, 
they said, within our own sixty or seventy mfilion-strong Muslim 
community in India; if we sought for outside help, even from the 
richest and most pliilanthropically inclined of American multi- 
millionaires, we should be dishonoured for all time. They were 
right, of course. For this was an age wliich had not experienced 
two World Wars, and had never heard of Point Four. But that 
decision, and my own zeal in the cause which I had taken up, 
led (as such decisions are apt to lead) to years of arduous and all- 
demanding toil, the journeyings, the speech-making, the sitting 
on committees, the fight against apathy and the long, long discus- 
sions with those in high places, which are the lot of those who 
commit themselves to such an endeavour. 

Often in civilized Instory a University has supplied the spring- 
board for a nation’s intellectual and spiritual renascence. In our 



THE MEMOIES OP AGA oi-lIAN 

time it has been said that the American Robert Missionary Col- 
lege in Constantinople led to the re-emergence of Bulgaria as an 
independent, sovereign nation. Who can assess the effect on Arab 
nationalism of the existence of the American University of 
Beirut? Ahgarh is no exception to this rule. But we may claim 
with pride that Ahgarh was die product of our own efforts and 
of no outside benevolence; and surely it may also be claimed that 
the independent, sovereign nation of Pakistan was born in the 
Mushm University of Ahgarh. 

Reinvigorated and restored to health by my travels, I went 
home at the end of the year to our wedding ceremonies and 
celebradons. It was a double wedding. For at the same time 
Shahzadi’s brother, my trusted friend Aga Shamsuddin, was mar- 
ried to another of our cousins. Our nuptials were celebrated with 
ah the appropriate ritual and rejoicing; and then sorrow beset 
myself and my bride. 

It is a long-ago story of young unliappiness, and it can be 
briefly and sadly told. We were both ignorant and innocent; our 
ignorance and innocence set a gulf between us wliich knowledge, 
wisely and salutarily appHed, could have bridged. We were too 
shy to acquire that knowledge, too innocent even to know how 
to set about getting it. Tenderness and diffused affection — and 
my wife had ah that I could give — were no use for our forlorn 
phght. Ours was no less a tragedy because, under the iron con- 
ventions of the time, it was both commonplace and concealed. 
Mine, I thought, was the blame for the grief and misunderstand- 
ing that embroiled us; and this deepened my affection for my 
wife; but for her, baffled and bewildered as she was, tire affection 
I offered was no substitute nor atonement. Inevitably we drifted 
apart, she to a private purgatory of resentment and reproach, and 
I to the activities and interests of the outside world. 

For me reflef was legitimately much easier, for my official and 
pohtical life rapidly became full and vigorous, and there was a 
great deal of sheer hard work to be done. If my marriage was a 
sour sham, my duties and responsibhities were real and earnest in 
this year of 1897. 

During the previous year there had been sinister rumours that 
an epidemic of bubonic plague was sedulously and remorselessly 
spreading westwards across Asia. There had been a bad outbreak 

l<5 



Mj. rlKSi iiUHOPEAN TOUE 

in Hong Kong; sporadically it appeared in towns and cities farther 
and farther west. When in the late summer of 1 897 it hit B ombay 
there was a natural and general tendency to discredit its serious- 
ness; but witliin a brief tiuie we were all compelled to face the 
fact that it was indeed an epidemic of disastrous proportions. 
Understanding of the ecology of plague was sriU extremely incom- 
plete in the nineties. The medical authorities in Bombay were 
overwhelmed by the magnitude, and (as it seemed) the com- 
plexity, of the catastrophe that had descended on the city. Their 
reactions were cautious and conservative. Cure they had none, 
and the only preventative that they could offer was along lines of 
timid general hygiene, vaguely admirable but unsuited to the 
precise problem with which they had to deal. Open up, they said, 
let fresh air and light into the Httle huts, the hovels and the 
shanties in which hundreds of thousands of the industrial and 
agricultural proletariat in Bombay Presidency Hved; and when 
you have let in fresh air, sprinkle as much strong and strong- 
smelling disinfectant as you can. These precautions were not only 
ineffective; they ran directly counter to deep-rooted habits in the 
Indian masses. Had they obviously worked, they might have been 
forgiven, but as they obviously did not, and the death-roU 
mounted day by day, it was inevitable that there was a growing 
feeling of resentment. 

It was a grim period. The plague had its ugly, traditional effect 
on pubHc morals. Respect for law and order sHpped ominously. 
There were outbreaks of looting and violence. Drunkenness and 
immorality increased; and there was a great deal of bitter feehng 
against the Government for the haphazard and inefficient way in 
which they were tackling the crisis. The chmax was reached with 
the assassination (on his way home from a Government House 
fimction) of one of the senior British officials responsible for such 
preventative measures as had been imdertaken. 

Now it happened that the Government of Bombay had at their 
disposal a brfiliant scientist and research worker. Professor HafP- 
kine, a Russian Jew, who had come to work on problems con- 
nected with cholera, who had induced the authorities to tackle 
cholera by mass inoculation and had had in this sphere consider- 
able success. He was a determined and energetic man. He was con- 
vinced that inoculation offered a method of combating bubonic 

VI 



THE MEMOIRS Of AGA KHAN 

plague. He pressed Iris views on official quarters in Bombay with- 
out a great deal of success. Controversy seethed around liim; but 
he had httle chance to put Iris views into practice. Meanwhile people 
were dying hke flies — among them many of my own followers. 

I knew that something must be done, and I knew that I must 
take the initiative. I was not, as I have already recounted, entirely 
without scientific knowledge; I knew something of Pasteur’s 
work in France. I was convinced that the Surgeon-General’s 
Department was working along the wrong lines. I by-passed it 
and addressed myself direct to Professor Haffkine. He andl formed 
an immediate affiance and a friendsliip that was not restricted 
solely to the grim business that confronted us. Tins, by now, was 
urgent enough. I could at least and at once give liim facilities 
for his research and laboratory work. I put freely at his disposal 
one of my biggest houses, a vast, rambhng palace not far from 
Aga Hall (it is now a part of St. Mary’s College, Mazagaon); here 
he estabhshed himself, and here he remained about two years 
until the Government of India, convinced of the success of his 
methods, took over the whole research project and put it on a 
proper, adequate, and official footing. 

Meanwhile, I had to act swiftly and drastically. The impact of 
the plague among my own people was alarming. It was in my 
power to set an example. I had myself pubHcly inoculated, and 
I took care to see that the news of what I had done was spread as 
far as possible as quickly as possible. My followers could see for 
themselves that I, their Imam, having in full view of many wit- 
nesses submitted myself to this mysterious and dreaded process, 
had not thereby suffered. The immunity, of wliich my continued 
health and my activities were obvious evidence, impressed itself 
on their consciousness and conquered their fear. 

I was twenty years old. I tanged myself (with Haffkine, of 
course) against orthodox medical opinion of the time — among 
Europeans no less than among Asiatics. And if the doctors were 
opposed to the idea of inoculation, what of the views of ordinary 
people, in my own household and entourage, and in the pubhc 
at large? Ordinary people were extremely frightened. Looking 
back across more than half a century, may I not be justifled m 
feeling that the young man that I was showed a certain amount of 
courage and resolution? 


^8 



Ml tlRSX EUROPEAN TOUR 


At any rate it worked. Among my own followers the news 
circulated swiftly, as I had intended it to do, that their Imam 
had been inoculated, and that they were to follow his example. 
Dehberately I put my leadership to the test. It survived and vin- 
dicated itself in a new and perhaps dramatic fashion. My followers 
allowed themselves to be inoculated, not in a few isolated in- 
stances but as a group. Within a short time statistics were firmly 
on my side; the death-rate from plague was demonstrably far, 
far lower among IsmaiUs than in any other section of the com- 
munity; the number of new cases, caused by contamination, was 
sharply reduced; and finally the incidence of recovery was far 
higher. 

A man’s first battle in life is always important. Mine had 
taught me much, about myself and about other people. I had 
fought official apathy and conservatism, fear, and ignorance. My 
past foretold my future, for tliey were foes that were to confront 
me again and again throughout my hfe. 

By the time the crisis was passed I may have seemed solemn 
beyond my years, but I possessed an inner self-confidence and 
strength that temporary and transient twists of fortune henceforth 
could not easily shake. A by-product of the influence and the 
authority which I had exerted was that others than my own 
Ismaih followers looked to me for leadersliip. 1897 was the year 
of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was natural enough tliat 
I should go to Simla to present to the Viceroy, Lord Elgin, an 
address of loyalty and congratulations to Her Majesty as hered- 
itary Imam of my own Ismaih sect; but, in fact, I went in a 
triple capacity. I presented tlwee addresses, one from my own 
commmiity, another as leader and representative of the MusHms 
of Western India, and a tliird on behalf of a representative 
assemblage of the citizens of Bombay and Poona, 

Lord Elgin received me graciously and hospitably. I was in- 
vited to luncheon by Field-Marshal Sir GeorgeWhite, then Com- 
mander-in-Chief in India. The Field-Marshal’s nickname was Sir 
George the Dragon Killer, and no man could have better looked 
the part than tliis gauntly handsome old warrior — immensely tall, 
strong, and stern of visage. Sitting there beside him at luncheon 
I had a sudden vision of the old man kilted, claymore in hand, 
fiercely challenging all comers, human and animal, a dragon or 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA i\JrJ.AN 

two, a squadron of cavalry, or a herd of rlrinoceros. There was 
stiU, you see, a vein of romanticism in the young man who had 
with gravity and propriety presented his three official addresses 
to His Excellency the Viceroy. 

***** 

I returned to Bombay to prepare for my biggest and most 
important journey hitherto. 

I set out to discover the Europe of which I had read and heard 
so much, wlrich beckoned with so insistent and imperious an 
attraction. 

In our distracted and war-battered epoch there is a deep, 
nostalgic sadness in recalling the splendours and the security — 
both seemingly unshakable — ^wliich Western European civihz- 
ation had attained in the last decade of the nineteenth century. 
As a young man I saw that old world at its zenith. I have 
lived to watch all the vicissitudes of its strange and swift de- 
cline. When I first set foot on the soil of Europe, just half a 
century had elapsed since the convulsions of 1848. Peace, pros- 
perity, and progress seemed universal and all-enveloping. True 
enough, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 had flashed grim 
warnings for those prescient enough to see them, but to many 
that conflict seemed a temporary and regrettable divagation 
from the general and steady trend towards human betterment. 
Britain, whose world hegemony, founded on absolute naval 
supremacy, seemed unchallengeable, was powerful and prosper- 
ous as never before, ruider the rule of her august Queen; not since 
1815 had she been compelled to intervene in any major continental 
conflict, and generations of her statesmen and diplomats were 
trained in the essential art and duty of retaining the Balance of 
Power in Europe. In spite of a few minatory signs of military, 
social, and economic danger or discontent, the dominant notes in 
the Europe of 1898 were those of serenity and affluence. 

Thither I set out from Bombay early in February. I was a Httle 
more tlian twenty years of age. Two members of my household 
accompanied me as personal attendants. We travelled to Marseilles 
in a brand new liner of the Messageries Maritime fleet. In passing 
I may say that — ^at any rate so far as the routes to India, Africa, 
and the Far East are concerned — the crack ships of the late nineties 

40 



Jt'IRSi aUROx-tiAN TOUR 


were really mucli better to travel in than tbeir alleged “luxury” 
twentieth-century successors. Their cabins were more spacious 
and comfortable and all their amenities were on a far more 
civilized scale. A great deal of show and chromium plate does not, 
to my mind, compensate for a decrease hi solid comfort. 

From Marseilles I went straight to Nice. It was the height of 
the Riviera winter season; in those days the South of France had 
no smruner season. Every hotel in every resort along the Cote 
d’Azur was packed and I had the greatest difficulty in finding 
accommodation. After all, a considerable proportion of the 
Royalty, nobility, and gentry of Europe was concentrated along 
this strip of coastline. Queen Victoria was at Cimiez; and at 
length I found myself a room in the hotel in which the Queen 
was staying; and of pretty small accormt I was hi the vast, glit- 
terhig, aristocratic, and opulent company gathered for the 
Riviera season; the Emperor Franz Joseph at Cap Martin, a score 
or so Russian Grand Dukes and Austrian Archdukes in their 
villas and palaces, half the Enghsh peerage with a generous 
sprinkling of millionaires from industry and finance; and most of 
the Almanach de Gotha from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire, the Balkan countries lately “emancipated” from Otto- 
man rule, and Tsarist Russia. The young man from Bombay was 
dazzled and awed. 

I knew nobody. I think the only people, other than my own 
personal attendants, to whom I spoke half a dozen words were the 
hotel staff and the officials at the Casino in Monte Carlo. But I 
enjoyed myself enormously — ^looking and hstening. I went out 
for long drives from Cimiez right along the coast to Monte 
Carlo and Menton. I stared at the shop windows — and what shop 
windows, the jewellers especially! After more than fifty years I 
have a vivid recollection of the soKd wealth on display for the 
eyes of the wealthiest people in Europe, whether they were 
financiers or landowners from England or Moscow null-owners. 
There were none of your present-day bits and pieces of gold and 
silver and worthless stones made up into trumpery trinkets; no — 
this was real jewellery, great, sparkling diamonds, pearls, rubies, 
emeralds, and sapphires winking and gleaming in the bright 
winter sun. 

At Cannes, at Nice, at Monte Carlo the streets were packed 

41 



THE MEMOIRS OE AGA j^^nAN 

in the faslhonable hours, with the carriages of the great and 
the wealthy, handsome landaus and victorias with fine, high- 
stepping horses and coaclmien and footmen in dashing liveries. I 
remember that there were one or two automobiles on show as 
curiosities in front of the H6tel de Paris at Monte Carlo. How 
elegant was the disdain with which the fashionable crowd re- 
garded these noisy, smelly toys. Few then had the foresight to 
see in them the predecessors not only of today’s Concours 
d’Elegance, but of the great, silver-winged, jet-propelled air- 
craft that streak across the sky. 

Though prosperity was to some extent diffused through all 
the towns and villages along the Cote d’Azur, and though there 
was no hunger and there were no rags, and the poorest had at 
least one sohd meat meal a day, it cannot be said that living was 
cheap on the Riviera in the nineties. Staymg as I was at the best 
hotel, and attended by my two valets, my daily bill — all found 
but with no extravagance and no entertainment of any kind — 
was about 200 gold francs. That, translated into present-day 
terms, would be nearly 40,000 francs a day. But were it possible 
to live at the same rate and on the same scale as I did on that first 
trip of mine, I daresay my bill — ^in contemporary terms — ^would 
work out at about 6,000 to 7,000 francs a day. So in relation to 
the gold standard of the nineties, the cost of Hving — my sort of 
living in those days — was five or six times as high as now. 

Since I was staying in the same hotel as Queen Victoria, I had 
frequent opportunities of watcliing her go out to and return from 
her daily drives in her landau. She was helped in and out of her 
carriage by Indian servants from her personal household. I and 
my own attendants reached the same, rather strange conclusion, 
and, I may say, it was reinforced later when I saw her servants 
at closer quarters at Windsor. They were distinctly second-class 
servants, of the kind that you find around hotels and restaurants, 
the kind that the newly-arrived or transient European is apt to 
acquire in the first hotel in which he stays — ^very different from 
and very inferior to the admirable, trustworthy, and very liigh- 
grade men whom, throughout the years of British rule in India, 
you would encounter at Viceregal Lodge or at Government 
House in any of the provinces. It seemed highly odd, and frankly it 
sriU does. Was the explanation possibly tliat the pay offered was not 

42 



MY tIfiST EUROPEAN TOUR 

good enough to attract the first-rate man overseas? Of coarse, 
after Queen Victoria’s death there was a change; successive King- 
Emperors had no Indian menial servants, but there were several 
posts of honour in the Royal Household for Indian A.D.C.’s 
and orderly ofEcers. 

I had ten memorable days on the Riviera, and then off I set for 
Paris. I have praised the comfort of the Hners of those days, but 
no, not the sleeping cars — anyone who knows the modem 
wagon-lits or Pulhnan cars, and the glories perhaps of the Blue 
Train, can have no idea of the cramped, primitive, alleged sleeping 
car of the nineties and the early 1900s. However, it took me to 
Paris. I repeat: I was twenty years old, I had steeped myself in 
French Hterature and French history, of the whole nineteenth 
century and earUer. I knew the names of the streets, I knew the 
way Parisians lived, acted, and thought. Mine in dreams and in 
reading was the Paris of the two Napoleons, the Paris of Balzac 
and of Barrb, of the boulevards and the barricades. Where did 
I stay but at the famous Hotel Bristol? What did I do on my first 
morning in Paris but pay my call at the British Embassy? 

I have liintcd that I was a solemn young man, very serious about 
my cultural and scientific interests. In the absence of the Ambas- 
sador, the Minister gave me the introductions that I wanted and 
supplemented those that I had brought with me. To the Carna- 
valet Museum I went, to the Louvre, to theBibHothequeNationale. 
There I was shown round by the curator of Oriental books and 
manuscripts, accompanied by M. Salomon Reinach, an eminent 
archaeologist. He was astonished, he said, that a young man who 
spoke English and French so fluently could read with ease ancient 
classical Persian and Arabic manuscripts. I was astonished in my 
turn (though I did not say so) that so distinguished a savant 
should forget that Persian and Arabic were, after all, my native 
languages, the languages which my forebears had spoken for 
hundreds of years. 

My friend Professor Haffkine in Bombay had given me a 
letter of introduction to Dr. Roux of the Pasteur Institute. In the 
..evenings I sallied forth to the theatre and the opera. It was not 
the season in Paris, and therefore there was not tlie display and the 
elegance that I had seen on the Riviera. Still, I saw Madame Bartet 
at the Comddie Franfaise and thought her the most enchanting 

43 



THE MEMOIKS OP AGA r^nAN 

and accomplished actress I had ever seeir — and now, with a hfetime 
in between, that is a verdict wliich I see no reason to alter. I saw 
Sarah Bernhardt, but frankly she disappointed me. I never 
thought she came up to Bartet, I went several times to the opera, 
and except for Faust, every opera that I saw was by Meyerbeer. 
Who ever hears an opera by Meyerbeer nowadays? His reputa- 
tion suddenly dropped Hke a plummet, and yet I tlhnk he has 
been unfairly treated, with a fierce contempt which he does not 
merit. I know that he is no Wagner; I know that he camiot com- 
pare with the best of Mozart or Verdi, but I have a hankering 
behef that a Meyerbeer revival might prove quite a success. 

Not all my time in Paris was spent on culture. I did have letters 
of introduction to members of the Jockey Club; I did go to the 
races. And after a fortnight I headed for London. 

The private, incognito status in which 1 had liitherto travelled 
was no longer possible. I had reached the capital and centre of the 
Empire. At the station to meet me when I arrived was an equerry 
from Buckingham Palace, representing Her Majesty; and from 
the India Office, representing the Secretary of State, there was the 
Political A.D.C., Sir Gerald Fitzgerald. I went to the Albemarle 
Hotel in Piccadilly, wliich was my headquarters and base through- 
out that spring and summer. 

Soon after I reached the hotel the Duke of Connaught, who 
had known me in my childhood and boyhood at home, paid a 
call and stayed for a long time. The British Royal Family’s 
watchful and friendly interest in me had not abated. 

London in the nineties has been written about ad nauseam, yet 
it is difficult to exaggerate the magnetic effect and the splendour 
of London m that sunht heyday of the Victorian age — the ease, 
the security, the affluence, the self-confidence. The City was 
the financial centre of the civilized world, immensely rich, 
immensely powerful. From Westminster a great Empire was 
governed with benevolent assurance. If the Foreign Office were 
dowdy and inconvenient, if the India Office’s methods of admin- 
istering a subcontinent were tortuous and archaic, who could 
deny the irresistible sense of power and authority concentrated 
in those few small acres? The outward show of that power and 
that authority was magnificently impressive. The pound sterling 
was a gold sovereign, and purchased about eight times what its 

U 



MY rIESi isUROiccAN iOUE 

paper equivalent does today. Tiie gradations from rich to poor 
were steep, and from extreme to extreme; yet throughout much 
of society there was diffused a general sense of prosperity. There 
was no Welfare State, but there was a robust, genid feehng that 
Britain was top dog, and there was a gaiety, vigour, and adven- 
turousness about hfe for the mass of the people. 

Real power, pohtical and economic, was in the hands of a few. 
The rulers of England and the Empire consisted of a small closed 
circle of the aristocracy, and of those members of the rising plu- 
tocracy who had attached themselves to, and got themselves 
accepted by, the aristocracy. To that circle my own rank and the 
august coimections which I possessed gave me a dhect and imme- 
diate entry. I who have hved to see the demagogue and the 
dictator in power in a large part of what was once civilized Europe, 
saw in my young manliood, at very close quarters, the ohgarchy 
that controlled Victorian England and the Empire. 

The London season was just beginning when I arrived. I was 
immediately swept into the middle of it all. All doors in society 
were open to me. I took my place in a gUttering, superbly or- 
ganized round and ritual; Epsom, Ascot, Newmarket; a dinner 
at Lansdowne House, at Lord Ripon’s, or Lord Reay’s; the 
opera and a baU at a great ducal mansion; garden parties, country 
house week-ends. Formal clothes were de rigucur in London, a 
frock coat or a morning coat, a stiff collar and a silk hat and gloves, 
however hot the weather. Church parade on a Simday morning 
in Hyde Park was a stately occasion, with its own elaborate 
ceremony. There was the detailed ritual of calling. From Royalty 
downwards the whole of Society was organized with a care and 
a rigidity inconceivable today. To recall it all now is indeed to 
evoke a vanished world. 

In due course I was summoned to an audience with Her 
Majesty at Windsor Castle. She received me with the utmost 
courtesy and affability. The only other person in the room during 
this first audience was my old patron, the Duke of Coimaught, 
in whose presence I did not feel shy or overawed. The Queen, 
enfolded in voluminous black wraps and shawls, was seated on a 
big sofa. Was she tall or short, was she stout or not? I could not 
teU; her posture and her wraps made assessments of that kind 
quite impossible. I kissed the hand which she held out to me. She 

4 ^ 



THE MEMOIItS OF AGA ji^hAN 

remarked that the Duke of Connaught was a close friend of my 
family and myself. She had an odd accent, a mixture of Scotch 
and German — the German factor in winch was perfectly explic- 
able by the fact that she was brought up m the company of her 
mother, a German princess, and a German governess. Baroness 
Lehzen. She also had the German conversational trick of inter- 
jecting “so” — pronounced “tzo” — frequently into her remarks. 
I was knighted by the Queen at tliis meeting but she observed 
that, since I was a prince myself and the descendant of many 
kings, she would not ask me to kneel, or to receive the accolade 
and the touch of the sword upon my shoulder, but she would 
simply hand the order to me. I was greatly touched by her con- 
sideration and courtesy. 

A httle later I was bidden to stay the night at the Castle and 
dine with Her Majesty. This, too, was a memorable experience. 
I sat at dinner between the Queen and her daughter Pruacess 
Beatrice — Princess Henry of Battenberg, mother of Queen Ena 
of Spain. The Queen was wearing her customary black — that 
mourning which, from the day after her husband died, she never 
put off. On her wrist she wore a large diamond bracelet, set in 
the centre of which was a beautiful miniature of the Prince Con- 
sort, about three inches long and two inches wide. The Queen 
was then seventy-nine; the vigour of her bearing and the facihty 
and clarity of her conversation were astonishing. 

There were several high officers of State present, including the 
Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Halsbury, a small, squat, unimpres- 
sive-looking man. I was both surprised and tickled when the 
Queen murmured to me that Lord Halsbury, though not much 
to look at, was a formidable lawyer and statesman. The Queen 
talked to me especially about India. Were British senior officials 
and representatives, she asked, civil or were they wanting in 
manners towards Indian princes and gentry? I replied trutlifuUy 
that, so far as I and my family were concerned, we had always 
been treated with impeccable kindness and courtesy by British 
officials with whom we came into contact. Throughout dinner 
the Queen and the two guests to right and left of her — myself 
and the Lord Chancellor — were served by her Indian attendants, 
who were the same kind of rather second-rate servants whom I 
had noticed in her entourage at Nice. 

46 






mwi 




Mi, rlKSX EUROPEAN TOUR 

The dinner was long and elaborate — course after course, three 
or four choices of meat, a hot pudding and an iced pudding, a 
savoury and all kinds of hothouse fruit — slow and stately in its 
serving. We sat down at a quarter past nine, and it must have 
been a quarter to eleven before it was all over. The Queen, in 
spite of her age, ate and drank heartily — every kind of wine that 
was offered, and every course, including both the hot and the 
iced pudding. After dmner, in the State drawing-room each 
guest was presented to Her Majesty and had a few moments’ con- 
versation with her. She gave me a jewelled portrait of herself, 
decorated with the rose of England, the tliistle of Scotland, and 
the harp of Ireland — and the harp was in emeralds. Next morning 
her munshi, her Indian secretary, came to me and gave me 
something which the Queen had herself written in Urdu and 
Arabic characters. 

To be Queen-Empress was for Queen Victoria to possess no 
formal and remote title. She was keenly alert and sensitive to the 
views and needs of her Indian subjects, and her liking and sym- 
pathy for them were warm and genuine. I particularly remember 
that she said to me at dinner with great earnestness that she hoped 
that when British people in India visited mosques and temples 
they conducted themselves with respect and reverence as they 
would in cathedrals in their own land. 

During tliis visit to England I first made the acquaintance of 
various other members of the British Royal Family— first among 
them, of course, the Prince of Wales, later to become King 
Edward VII. From the first the Prince was extremely kind to me. 
He had me at once made an honorary member of his own club, 
the Marlborough, and some months later, early in 1899, he liim- 
self nominated me for full membership. In those days member- 
ship of the Marlborough, thus conferred, had a special social 
and personal significance; one was stamped, as it were, as a per- 
sonal friend of the Prince of Wales. I may mention in passing 
that I am still, after more than fifty years, a member of the 
Marlborough-Windham, and when I am in London, I still drop 
in there to look at the newspapers. The head hall-porter and I are 
by now quite the oldest iiihabitants; he entered the service of 
the Club in, I think, ’96 or ’97. Together he and I recall old 
times, and our conversation evokes many, many ghosts whose 
c 47 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

living presence, as we knew them in our youth, are very real 
to us. 

For the last decade of his life I was honoured with the warm, 
personal friendship of King Edward VII. My association with 
him was far from formal. He was elderly and I was young, 
and at the outset, a stranger; but he treated me always with the 
greatest kindness and benevolence. Indeed, if I search for a word 
in which to sum up King Edward’s character, the answer is to be 
found in “benevolent”. He wished everybody well. It is per- 
fectly true that he had a great taste for the good things in life, 
that he enjoyed having a good time; but sincerely and steadily he 
wanted everyone else — the humblest as well as the highest of 
his subjects — to have a good time too. 

He cared a great deal about the alleviation of pain and suffer- 
ing. His patronage of hospitals was something wliich he under- 
took not as a mere Royal duty, nor for that matter as a fad or 
personal fancy; it was one expression of a deeply felt attitude to 
life, a spontaneous and generous sympathy with suffering in all 
its forms. 

Two of his remarks on this subject have been often quoted. I 
who knew him so well know that they came from the bottom of 
liis heart. “The man who discovers a cure for cancer” (so ran one) 
“ought to have a statue to his memory in every capital of Europe.” 
I can hear the very inflexion in his voice as he said that; and the 
other, about certain diseases which doctors describe as prevent- 
able, “If preventable, why not prevented?” 

In 1904, when a State visit to India by the then Prince of Wales 
—later King George V — ^was being discussed, I happened to be 
in England, and the King sent for me in private audience at 
Buckingham Palace. He questioned me closely and at length about 
hospital conditions in India, and disclosed considerable knowledge 
of Ihs own, as well as great concern. He was especially worried 
about the terrible state of hospitals in the big cities, particularly 
Calcutta, and he told me that he proposed to brief his son 
thoroughly on tliis subject and make him insist on a close, per- 
sonal report on several city hospitals. He said too that he advo- 
cated the establishment of homes in the mountains, and in 
healthier areas of the country, for the prevention and early treat- 
ment of tuberculosis. 


48 



M.I. fIRSr EUROPEAN TOUR 

Nearly two years later, in the summer of 1906, the King, in 
another long private conversation, reverted in great detail to this 
subject. He commended the Prince of Wales’s work along the 
lines he had himself indicated, and it was a commendation which 
I could support, from my own knowledge. The King had also 
had a series of independent reports, and he knew that I, with a 
group of friends, had established a sanatorium in a liill station 
for the treatment of tuberculosis in its earlier stages. 

Kiirg Edward was a very humane as well as human person; 
this close interest in pain and sickness and their alleviation (had 
it something to do perhaps with his own attack of typhoid, 
which so nearly proved fatal?) was not prompted by his sense of 
kingly duty, but sprang — I am convinced — ^from his real human- 
ity. It IS significant, I think, that it was enlianced and deepened 
after his own other grave illness, just before his Coronation. He 
himself was dignified and brave in face of physical pain; but he 
dishked it exceedingly and sought to diminish its assaults — for 
others more than for liimself. 

It has been -widely held that King Edward was anti-German, 
and that he had a prejudice against Germany as a nation because 
he did not get on well -with Iiis nephew, the Kaiser Wilham II. 
The evidence to the contrary is strong, both from the King’s 
own bps and from witnesses as reUable as Baron von Eckardstein 
and Comit Wolf Mettcrnich — both of whom held positions of 
influence and authority in their respective periods in the Embassy 
in London — who went out of their way to tell me that the King 
was completely sincere in his desire for friendsliip between 
Britain and Germany, and that he strove, to the utmost of his 
abihty, to remain on good terms with Iris nephew. That there 
were deep and subtle personal differences and difficulties between 
them cannot be denied. The relationslrip was almost bound to be 
strained. The Kaiser acceded to his throne as a very young man, 
and for a decade or more he was in full control of all the affairs 
of State in Iris own country; while his uncle, a middle-aged man, 
was chafing at being allowed no sort of responsibility and indeed 
not being even allowed to read die Foreign Office papers. The 
Kaiser was never the most tactful or self-effacing of men; in 
twentieth-century terms he suffered from an enormous inferiority 
complex. He never forgot to assert Irimself. His uncle strove 

49 



THE MEMOIBS Oi< AGA J^HAN 

valiantly to repress liis natural irritation; it was rarely indeed that 
he blew up, or behaved towards liis nephew other than with 
courtesy and consideration, albeit tinged with the irony wliich a 
sage and experienced man of the world could command. 

King Edward had a stern sense of decorum; he knew what was 
fitting in a king and what was fitting in behaviour towards a king. 
He strongly disHked anybody taking liberties, or taking advan- 
tage of liis own urbanity and kindness. But I do know of several 
examples of lapses which earned liis peremptory disapproval, yet 
when the delinquent either wrote directly to His Majesty and 
apologized, or asked for pardon through one of the officials of the 
Palace, and demonstrated that he sincerely regretted his offence, 
the King not only forgave but forgot, and the offender was never 
shown the slightest hostihty or coldness. King Edward was 
genuinely magnanimous. 

He also possessed a great fund of considerate tact in matters 
great and small. One winter a wealthy and well-known American 
resident in Paris, a Mrs. Moore, who was a friend of the King’s 
and of ray own (the King was often her guest at dinner at Biar- 
ritz) was visiting London. The King called on her one bleak 
afternoon, when there had been a hard frost all day. Mrs. Moore 
received the King in her warm drawing-room upstairs, and he 
stayed to tea by her fireside. A few minutes after he had taken his 
leave there was a knock on the drawing-room door. A Royal 
footman came in and gave her a note. It was a habit of the King’s 
always to have paper, pencils, and small envelopes close at hand 
in order that he could jot down any ideas that occurred to him. 
The King’s note to Mrs. Moore, tliat winter afternoon, warned 
her that when she went out she must be very careful because the 
pavement was very slippery and she might easily faE and hurt 
herself. The Bang sat waiting in his car untE the footman came 
back from delivering the message. 

I recaE one occasion when he showed the same tact towards me; 
and after forty-four years I can stiE give the precise time and 
place. It was tlie Friday of Ascot Week in 1909. The King asked 
me to luncheon in the Royal Box. I was sitting at His Majesty’s 
table. When the main dish was served, the waiters by-passed me, 
a little to my surprise, and then a couple of cutlets were put in 
front of me. 


50 



MY flESi EUROPcAN iUUl 

The King called to me across the table in liis strong, deep voice. 
“I thought you wouldn’t like the thing on the menu,” he said, 
“so I ordered those cutlets for you.” 

I glanced at my neighbour’s plate and saw a piece of ham on it. 
The King had realized that I, as a MusUm, woiild not want to eat 
the ham, nor would I like to refuse what was put before me at his 
table; so carefully he had made his own arrangements. 

Digressing for a moment, this sort of tact is essential for people 
in high places. During Lord Curzon’s Viceroyalty the eldest son 
of the then Amir of Afghanistan paid a State visit to Calcutta. On 
the night of his arrival a special State banquet was given in liis 
honour. I was one of the guests; I sat opposite the Afghan Prince 
and had a front-row view of a lamentable affair. To my dismay 
I saw that the soup was well laced with sherry; before the Prince 
had time to Uft his first spoonful to his lips, the poHtical agent 
who was sitting beside him said in officious and self-important 
tones: “Your Higlmess, there is sherry in this soup.” 

In supposed strict conformity with MusHm canons, the Prince 
put aside his soup untouched- His fish course had nothing obnox- 
ious about it and he tucked into it happily enough. The first 
entree had some slices of ham in it, and sadly the Prince watched 
that go past him. Then there was a vegetable dish, and it was 
clearly, blatantly decorated with bits of bacon fat. All the main 
part of the dinner was thus an unprofitable blank for the poor 
Prince. At last came the ice cream. Eagerly tlie Prince prepared to 
attack it. 

“Your Highness,” said the officious politico, “it’s got char- 
treuse in it.” 

Resignedly the Prince put his spoon down again — and com- 
pensated himself, in the end, with a cheese savoury and some 
dessert. It was curious that Lord Cutzon never had the slightest 
awareness that his chief guest left the table hungry. It was all the 
more odd in that Lord Curzon in liis own house — I was more 
than once his guest at Hackwood — was the most considerate and 
thoughtful host imaginable. The explanation was, I suppose, that 
as Viceroy he left the day-to-day running of his house to his staff, 
and someone blundered — ^in a fashion which Lord Curzon would 
never have permitted in his own home. 

I will confess that I myself have been embroiled in a similar 

51 



THE MuMUIRS Of AGA iv.nAN 

disaster— in Bombay, and at the WUlingdon Club of all places, 
whose head steward was a Parsee. I gave a big dinner party at 
which a number of Hindu maharajahs were my guests. I went to 
the Club beforehand; I told the steward who my guests were to 
be, and I said that they were very strict about their food, and of 
course on no account should beef be served. 

“I understand, Your Highness,” said he, “I shall be very care- 
ful. Notliing wrong will happen, I assure you.” 

We sat dovra to dinner, quite an assemblage of Hindu maha- 
rajahs, some of them Rajputs of the most orthodox rehgious 
outlook. Everything went along agreeably until the main course 
was served. Then to my horror I saw plate after big plate of ox- 
tongue. My guests could well construe this imsevahh faux pas as 
a direct and studied insult; I apologized abjectly. As soon as dinner 
was over I found the steward and rated him soundly. 

“What on earth were you up to? I warned you not to serve 
beef!” 

“But, Your Highness,” he expostulated, “they were ox- 
tongues.” 

He was a Parsee; he had lived in India all his life, and incredible 
as it may seem, he stiU thought that ox-tongue would not count 
as beef. 

The effect is strong and long enduring of this kind of proliibi- 
tion or instruction about diet, imposed in one’s clhldhood, with 
the sanction of rehgion to support it, and the tradition probably 
of many centuries. I remember that I was once dining in Europe 
with an Indian friend, a Hindu, a man of profound learning and 
wide culture, whose reaction when a calf’s head was put on the 
table was one of obvious shock and deep distress. He seemed to 
be almost on the edge of a nervous collapse. A few days later 
when I asked him why — apart from a quite understandable rehg- 
ious disapproval — he had been so upset, he said that for him to 
see a calf’s head thus displayed on a table was as immediately 
horrifying as if a human baby’s head had been offered. 

“How would you feel,” he said, “if the chef cooked you a 
baby’s head and served it in aspic and tastefully garnished?” 

There is no ready answer. I once asked another friend, a wise 
and highly-educated Brahmin, a Cambridge scholar, whether he 
— ^who had never had any animal food in his Hfe, except milk 

U 



MY i-IRSi uUROPbAN J,0UR 

products, and whose ancestors for two thousand years or so had 
never touched eggs, fish, or meat — had any instinctive feeHng of 
repulsion to tliis kind of food. 

He hesitated for a long time and at length answered, “You 
know, if you had been brought up as I have been, I doubt if you 
would ever, all your life, get over the instinctive horror of the 
stink of meat or fish or eggs.” 

Well, I have wandered some distance from London in that 
far-olF summer of 1898, a long way from my first introduction to 
London Society. I have spoken of its gaieties, its splendours, its 
race meetings, its garden parties, its great dinners, its night at the 
opera, perhaps after the opera a final, late-night call at the Marl- 
borough, and a chat with the Prince of Wales-~he had a way of 
dropping in at the Club on his way home, for a last drink (hot 
water, lemon, and gin it always was) — but I must not give the 
impression that I spent all my time frivolously. 

My friend Professor Haffkine in Bombay had given me more 
than one introduction to distinguished scientists m England, in- 
cluding Lord Lister, the great surgeon. Lord Lister was most hos- 
pitable; I also met Lord Kelvin, then the doyen of Enghsh 
scientists, who (as I have remarked elsewhere) assured me that 
flying in heavier-than-air machines was a physical impossibility. 

I was often the guest of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts at whose 
house I met several of the leading spiritualists of the period. 

I called, too, on Miss Florence Nightingale. She and the 
Baroness, next to Queen Victoria herself, were the most eminent 
women of the tune. Though by now advanced in years and a 
complete invalid, confined to a sofa in her drawing-room in her 
Park Lane home. Miss Nightingale retained a formidable interest 
in affairs. One of the topics on which she kept herself most closely 
and fully informed was the Britishadministration of India — especi- 
ally so far as it concerned matters of health and hygiene. Over 
the years she had constituted herself, although she had never been 
to India, an august mrofficial adviser to the Raj. Both the India 
Office and the War Office knew the strength and urgency of Miss 
Nightingale’s memoranda. No newly-appointed Viceroy would 
have dared, before he left England to take up his appointment, to 
omit a call on Miss Nightingale, and for all of them a profitable 
and helpful experience it proved to be. She laid out the plans for 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


the system of military cantonments established for British garri- 
sons all over India, she devised a medical administrative system, 
and systems of pay and allowances wliich subsisted almost with- 
out change in detail, certainly without change in principle, until 
the end of British rule in India. 

It was perfectly natural that I should call on her. Lytton 
Strachey, that entertaining but far from rehable Ihstorian, chose 
in his essay on Miss Nightingale in Eminent Victorians to give an 
account of my first visit to her which is a ludicrous caricature. 
What he omits to mention is that we became fast friends, and 
that I went back to see her again and again. Naturally enough 
she talked at length, eloquently, and earnestly about what coidd 
and could not be done for the betterment of health in India, 
particularly among women and children. 

I ventured, however, on more general topics. I was, as I have 
indicated, a serious young man; and I asked Miss Nightingale 
whether she thought that there had been any real improvement 
in human affairs since her youth, whether faith in God had ex- 
tended and deepened. Lytton Strachey waxed sarcastic about my 
question, but I still think it was very much to the point. Miss 
Nightingale anyway saw it as such, and discussed it with the 
gravity with which I had propounded it. After aU there occurred 
in Miss Nightingale’s Hfetime (and in mine it has been redoubled) 
a vast and rapid increase in man’s power to exploit liis natural 
resources — from steam propulsion to the internal combustion 
engine and thence to atomic fission — ^whose rplation to or divorce 
from faith in God and all that such faith means in action, is a 
topic of some importance. Miss Nightingale did not sec fit, fike 
Mr. Lytton Strachey, to dismiss it with a snigger; she gave me 
her views on it and she honoured me henceforth with her 
friendship. 

That same summer I met another great figure in the history 
of the British Army, Field-Marshal Lord Wolseley. Sir Alfred 
Lyall gave a breakfast party at which the guests were Leonard 
Courmey, the Liberal writer and poHtician (later Lord Courtney) , 
Mr. Paul, historian and editor. Lord Wolseley and myself. Some- 
body mentioned Mr. Gladstone, and the Field-Marshal immedi- 
ately launched into a passionate denunciation of Gladstone and all 
his works; there was no word too bad for him, none of us could 



MY FIRSj. EUROPEAN TOUR 

get a sentence in, and wc sat listening to an unbridled tirade; 
Gladstone was the most evil and destructive influence of his time, 
responsible for a catastropliic decline in Britain’s prestige and 
authority in Europe and tliroughout the world, responsible for 
the disaster in the Sudan, personally accountable for the death of 
General Gordon— in short and despite the fact that at least half the 
population of England idoHzed him (irrespective of what the 
other half thought), a malefactor who ought not to be at large 
in civilized society. 

This depth of feeling and this degree of outspokenness, greatly 
though they surprised me at Sir Alfred Lyall’s breakfast table, 
have not however been unusual. I remember that when Gladstone 
died, although the tone of pubhc comment was respectful, 
Society’s private remarks as I heard them at dinner parties or 
staying in great country houses (and the most influential sections 
of Society were Conservative and Unionist) were fiercely critical 
and unforgiving. In latter years, too, I recall how the same people 
talked about Lloyd George (of whom I shall have a good deal to 
say). Even now, so I beUeve, a certain member of the Labour 
Party, of Welsh origin like Lloyd George, is a ferocious bogey 
to his Tory opponents. 

Of course in purely Liberal circles one heard very diSerent 
opinions. I was the guest that summer of Lord Spencer, who had 
been a close colleague of Gladstone’s and a member of his 
Cabinet. He took a small house near Birmingham for the agri- 
cultural show. On the last night of my stay, when all the other 
guests had gone, Lord Spencer talked freely if sombrely about 
that perennially critical issue in British poHtics in the Victorian 
Age, the Irish Question. This was 1898; Gladstone’s attempt to 
introduce Home Rule had long been shipwrecked; Lord Salis- 
bury’s Unionist Government was securely in power, and its Irish 
policy consisted of “firm government” — associated with Arthur 
Balfour’s name — and attempts to tackle the thorny problem of 
land tenure. Lord Spencer insisted that there was no way of 
settling Ireland’s problems except by giving her full political 
freedom, that twenty years — or two htmdred ye.ars— of police 
rule would not make the Irish “loyal” or submissive; that a great 
chance had been missed in 1 8 86, and that it would not occur again; 
the inevitable consequences, soon or late, would be an armed 

55 



THE MEMOIitS Ot* AGA 11.J1AN 

rebellion, with all its accompanying bloodshed and murder, and 
at the end the loss of Ireland to the Empire. Within a quarter of a 
century every detail of the prophecy to wliich I listened that 
summer night in 1898 was to be meticulously fulfilled. And in 
India there were those who watched the working out of Ireland’s 
destiny and were fuUy cognizant of the lessons it taught, the 
message it signalled across the world. 

Back in London I saw the Season through to the end; and 
then iir August when EngHsh Society began its stately annual 
exodus to Cowes and to Scotland — I set forth on my European 
travels again, to Paris once more and thence to Geneva and 
Lausanne, to Italy and to Vienna, stOl then the capital city of a 
great, historic Empire. 

During this otherwise pleasant summer I was greatly shocked 
and saddened by a grievous piece of news from India. A near 
kinsman, Hashim Shah, whose father was my elder half-brother, 
was murdered by a steward in my house in Poona. Mercifully 
this was not, as the assassinations in Jeddah in 1896 had been, 
prompted by motives of religious fanaticism, but the outcome of 
personal resentment and some personal grudge. However, its 
warning could not be discounted; there was an element of law- 
lessness and violence m my own close surroundings which would, 
sooner or later, have to be dealt with firmly, if it were not to 
become a running sore in the life of Bombay and Poona. 



CHAPTER III 


EARLY VISITS TO THE MIDDLE EAST 


M y experiences in London and during my Continental tour 
widened my horizons and stimulated my growing interest 
in— and desire to play my part in — 'the world of poHtics 
and diplomacy. From not long after my arrival in England I was 
in touch with and was soon fuUy in the confidence of Sir William 
Lee Warner, the head of the Political Department of the India 
Office, the department which handled all the secret and con- 
fidential aspects of foreign relations. Through my friendship with 
a leading racehorse owner, Sir J. B. Maple (founder and head of 
the big furniture store which bears his name), I made the acquaint- 
ance of Iris son-in-law Baron von Eckardstem, who, smee the 
Ambassador was a sick man, was in virtual charge of the German 
Embassy. 

In the close and frequent company of these friends of mine I 
was able to observe at first hand the working-out of a series of 
diplomatic moves of considerable importance. There was a grow- 
ing awareness in certam circles in Britain that that “Splendid 
Isolation” wliich had seemed so natural and desirable only a short 
time before had its grave disadvantages. The South African crisis 
was soon to reveal sharply how truly isolated Britain was; the 
depth and bitterness of anti-British feeHng throughout Europe 
were far too pronounced to ignore. The leadmg spirit in Lord 
Sahsbury’s Cabmet in these years was Mr. Joseph Chamberlahi, 
the Colonial Secretary, a realist despite the sometimes visionary 
nature of his imperiaUst ideals, who was acutely cognizant of the 
dangers of Britain’s situation. Surveying the trends of world 
power at that time he believed that it might be possible to 
reach an understanding •with Germany, and he saw clearly the 
perils ahead if that understanding were not reached. His official 



THE MEMOIRS Of AOA jvfiAN 

biography^ has lately revealed the extent and the pertinacity 
of Chamberlain's efforts to secure an Anglo-German entente. 

My own recollections confirm this to the hilt. It was a sincere 
and strenuous effort on Britain’s part to achieve an understanding: 
and it failed solely because of die German attitude, wliich was the 
result of the oudook and prejudices of the cliief German negotia- 
tors, Prince von Billow and Herr von Holstein. Not only did I 
watch the British approaches, I was fuUy cognizant of the German 
reactions to them, through my friendsliip with von Eckardstein. 
I could see how sad Eckardstein. became at the constant rejection 
of Britain’s sincere hand of friendslhp — a rejection always based 
on new and artificial pretexts and evasions. It is sad indeed to 
reflect on the long-term results of the breakdown of these negotia- 
tions. Might not the course of history in the twentieth century 
have been profoundly different had Chamberlain succeeded in 
averting the steady, implacable growth of Anglo-German antag- 
onism? Would we not quite possibly have avoided two World 
Wars? Had the Germans played the game this would certainly 
have happened; but the great question-mark for European peace 
lay always in Germany’s attitude. 

The temperament of the two Germans involved in these 
negotiations prevented them from rismg to the greamess of the 
chance they were given. They had grown up in the shadow of the 
great Bismarck, but they were not of his quality of statesmanship. 
They were essentially small bureaucrats with all Bismarck’s 
arrogance, and they were ineradicably suspicious of what they 
thought of as British cunning and perfidy. 

Long, long afterwards Lord RenneU — formerly Sir Remiell 
Rodd, and for many years British Ambassador in Rome — told 
me that after the First World War, when Prince von Biilow was 
living in retirement in Rome, they discussed this whole episode. 
Biilow admitted with great hesitation and ruefully that he had 
been wrong to reject the hand of friendship wmeh had been 
offered by Britain in sincerity and earnestness of purpose. 

When my first European tour ended, I set off for East Africa. 
This, however, was no pleasure jaunt. One or two delicate and 
important tasks demanding the exertion of a certain amount of 

^ TTte Life of Joseph Chamberlain, vol. Ill by J. L. Garvin, vol. IV by Julian 
Anaery (London, Macmillan. & Co, Ltd.). 



iAKLx VISITS lO iHfi MIDULE EAST 

diplomatic skill and finesse awaited me there. There were several 
Ismaih settlements down the coast, and they were rapidly increas- 
ing in numbers and in wealth; and more than one of these com- 
munities were involved in disputes — by no means of a trifling 
character — ^with the local authorities. 

East Africa was at the beginning of its rapid, even sensational, 
opening up and development; but at the turn of the century it 
presented a very diiferent picture from that which it does today. 
Several European Powers with colonial aspirations were em- 
broiled, down the thousands of miles from the Red Sea to the 
Cape, in what proved to be a late but dramatic phase of the 
Scramble for Africa. Abyssinia, the oiJy native African State 
with expansionist ambitions, had lately coUided, bloodily but 
victoriously, with the ItaUans. At the battle of Adowa in 1898 Ras 
Makomren, the able Heutenant and ultimate successor of the 
Emperor Menelik, had heavily defeated an ItaHan army and put 
an end, for over tliirty years, to Italy’s efforts to extend her some- 
what precarious coastal foothold. The British having entered into 
a treaty with the Sultan of Zanzibar, established what was then 
known as the East African Protectorate (today the flourishing 
colony of Kenya with its complex multi-racial community), with 
its base at Mombasa, under the supervision of the Foreign Office; 
and shortly afterwards there were projects of settlement being put 
forward by Lord Delamere and others, in what came to be caUed 
“the white liiglilands” in the hinterland of the Protectorate. 

Southwards the Germans had staked their claims inland from 
Dar-es-Salaam in the territories now known as Tanganyika. 
South again the Portuguese, who were the first Europeans to 
venture into these regions in the great age of exploration, had an 
old-estabhshed colony. And inland from this, Jameson and liis 
pioneers were carving out of the empty veld and savaimahs the 
lands which were to become Northern and Southern Rhodesia. 
And to the south again the British and the Boers were already 
committed to the long, grim struggle of the South African War. 

If the beginnings of future economic prosperity and greatness 
were already visible in the Africa which I visited for the first time 
in 1899, no less noticeable were the seeds of future political and 
social difficulties and problems. 

Zanzibar, which I visited first, was an ancient seat of Arab 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA jxHAN 

culture. The Sultan no longer exercised absolute powers, but was 
a constitutional sovereign, acting on the advice of his British 
Resident and officials. Between these officials and my Ismaili 
followers there had arisen a complicated dispute, wliich con- 
cerned the ownersliip and tenure of a tract of land on the seashore, 
whose value had rapidly increased, but wliich was an Ismaili 
burial ground. The dispute had been stubborn and protracted. 
I was able, however, to arrange a settlement which was admittedly 
a compromise. I confess that I have worked all my life on the 
principle that a compromise is better than rigid and unyielding 
disagreement. The compromise which we reached in Zanzibar 
was workable to this extent, that there has never been any other 
major dispute in the years since then between the Ismailis and the 
British authorities. 

Ill Dar-es-Salaam I was faced with a similar sort of conflict, in 
this case between the German authorities and my followers over 
land trading rights. This dispute had smouldered and flickered 
throughout the nineties; the Germans were suspicious of my 
Ismaili followers, and there were accusations that they were 
smuggling in arms and had had a hand in the Arab rebellion of 
some ten years before. There was therefore a certain stiffness on 
the part of the German Governor and his officials when I first 
arrived. However, I persevered, and before I left I was able to see 
the dispute setded and the suspicions (which were probably one 
cause of the stubbornness of the dispute) thoroughly dissipated. 
When I went it was in the knowledge that there was a clean slate, 
so far as differences between my followers and the German 
administration were concerned. 

From East Africa I went back to Europe for a short time. 
Then, as winter set in, I turned south and east. On my way home 
to India I visited Egypt for the first time. Those who have not 
experienced it, who have not been lucky enough to fall under 
Egypt’s spell, will find it difficult, I suppose, to realize the sheer 
magic of the first sight of Egypt. Add that my first sight was on 
a perfect early winter day, and need I say that all my life since 
then I have had a special corner in my heart for Egypt, and that 
I have returned there as often as I could? 

There is a unique quality about Egypt’s charm: the wide, 
tranquil skies, the extraordinary clarity of its light and atmosphere, 



EARLi VISITS iO iHE MIDDLE EAST 


the glories of its sunsets and its starlit nights, and its tremendous 
monuments of a majestic past. But I had other objects than mere 
sight-seeing. I wanted to make personal contact with the large 
Ismaili community of Syria and the remnant of Egyptian Ismaihs 
who had not so far come to see me in India. I also visited the 
great seat of Muslim learning, the Al Azhar University. 

It was a time of momentous and stirring events. Lord 
Kitchener’s great victory at Omdurman in the Sudan was stiU 
fresh in everyone’s mind. General Wingate had just returned from 
the south. The KhaUfeh had been killed, and the last of Ihs dervish 
following exterminated. 

I called on Lord Cromer, the British Resident in Egypt, whose 
power and authority in Egypt at that time were paramount. He 
said that Egypt badly needed a man like Sir Syed Ahmed, to do 
for its Mushm population the sort of educative and regenerative 
work wliich he had done in Ahgarh. There was in Egypt at that 
time a deep rift between, on the one hand the old-fasliioned 
conservative, pious Muslim, contemptuous of modern science and 
techniques and speaking and reading Arabic, and on the other 
hand the Frenchified upper classes, whose reading matter was 
mainly French yellow-back novels, whose meeting place was the 
club, whose diversions were cards and nocturnal gambling, who 
detested the British, yearned to sec them out, and longed for a 
return to the regime of tlie Khedive Ismail. There was notlhng 
like Ahgarh to show the vast Mushm population the way towards 
a compromise with and understanding of modem, Western 
science, and to raise an ehtc capable of co-operating with British 
administrators and technicians in that process of economic and 
social uphft of which the country was in such desperate need. 

Unfortunately, the Kliedive Abbas Hihni was ih at the time — 
it was suspected that he had some form of paratyphoid — and I 
was therefore unable to see liim. In later years we became great 
and intimate friends and I admired the brilhance of liis intehect, 
and his wide and deep knowledge of politics and history. I will 
have occasion to refer to him later. The Egyptian Ministers whom 
I met were merely nominees of the British — of Lord Cromer, in 
fact. 

People who only know Cairo today can have no idea of the 
social conditions of the early 1900s. The hotels were full of rich 

6t 



THE MEMOIRS Ur AGA x^hAN 


foreigners, who were “wintering in Egypt”, then a highly 
fashionable pastime. They would make trips up the Nile in hired 
dahaabiyehs or in one of Messrs. Thomas Cook’s steamers. They 
spent money profusely and had a high old time, surrounded by 
magnificent-looking Egyptian guides and alleged interpreters, 
who were apt to speak the most grotesque pidgin variety of every 
European language. 

The contents of the Cairo Museum were as fascinating as they 
have always been, and always will be; although of course Lord 
Carnarvon’s magnificent Tutankhamen discoveries had not yet 
been made, there was more than enough to see, but the arrange- 
ment of it all was even less convenient than it is today. A disagree- 
able and irreverent custom prevailed of exposing in full view, for 
anyone who wanted to see them, the actual mummies — ^not 
merely the sarcophagi — of all the great Pharaohs. You could see 
Rameses II, with Iris noble hawk-like features, lying in his coffin 
— ^looking ahnost as he had in life aU those centuries ago — and 
other former mighty kings and conquerors, at the feet of any 
chance passer-by. 

To me, however, more concerned with the present than the 
past, possibly the most remarkable fact about Cairo in those days 
was that it was for all practical purposes another Poona or Simla. 
It was even more of a citadel of British supremacy than India was. 
The British were not merely in political control of the country, 
they assumed a social superiority which the Egyptians appeared 
humbly to accept. What Httle political agitation there was was 
attributed to the “macliinations of the Palace”. 


The general attitude of all classes towards the British Occupying 
Power, its agents and officials, towards British Army officers and 
the growing number of employees of British firms, was one of 
outward submissiveness and obedience. Unhappily — and just as 
in India in the late nineties and early nineteen hundreds — there 
was hardly any hnk between the British commtmity, poHtical, 
mihtary, and commercial, and either the Egyptian aristocracy or 
the well-to-do bourgeoisie of Cairo and Alexandria. When rich 


Egyptians came to Europe they went to Paris, to Switzerland, to 
Austria or Germany or Italy; they carefully kept clear of England. 
Hardly any of the winter tourists, except for a few individuals 
from the Continent, bothered to get to know Egypt’s upper and 


6 -' 



EARLY VISITS TO THE MIDDLE EAST 

middle classes. Even the Gezira Sporting Club, in the heart of the 
metropohtan Cairo, barred Egyptians from its membership other 
than in very exceptional cases. The only non-British whom the 
British encountered — except their office subordinates and their 
servants — were the members of a few wealthy Levantine famihes 
who sought to identify themselves completely with the r ulin g 
power and were thus accepted. The depth and virulence of this 
social division can be seen in the fact that I myself, who naturally 
in my European travels met Egyptians — largely of the aristocracy 
and members of the ruling dynasty — met hardly one of them, 
when I was in Cairo, except in their own homes. There was really 
no common ground of social intercourse. Therefore, inevitably 
behind the fa9ade of hiundity there developed a sullen and brood- 
ing, almost personal, resentment wliich later on needlessly, bitterly 
poisoned the clash of Egyptian nationalism with Britain’s interests 
as the Occupying Power. 

After three weeks or so in Cairo I went home to India, where 
the work I had done had not passed unnoticed by those con- 
cerned. The Sultan of Zanzibar bestowed on me the liighest order 
in his gift, the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, and later the German 
Emperor awarded me the Royal Prussian Order of the Crown 
(First Class). 

I went from India and made a brief tour of Burma and met my 
followers there for the first time. I recall one somewhat daunting 
experience. A Mushm of my acquaintance — not one of my 
followers — had been very kind to me and had helped me in a 
variety of ways. I called on liim to thank him, and as we ex- 
changed courtesies he sent for a glass of sherbet for me. It was 
brought. The tall tumbler was held out towards me by a servant, 
and I saw that the hands that held it were the hands of a leper. 
Time seemed suspended as I stared horror-struck. I found every 
excuse I could, said that I was not thirsty, tried to get out of 
accepting the tumbler still held out towards me. But my host 
earnestly pressed me and went on pressing me. At last I shut my 
eyes, took the tumbler and gulped the sherbet down; but the 
horror of those hands remained. 

I was back in Europe in 1900, and in Paris in that year — the 
year of the Great Exhibition— met the Shah Musafaradin of 
Persia. No other Shah, in my view, did more to harm Persia than 

6 ^ 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA x^hAN 

he did. He was sickly, he was weak, and he was grossly ignorant. 
He was capricious and extravagant, squandering gifts on his 
favourites, and incapable of any awareness of his duties and 
obligations as Shah. All the treasure wliich liis father, Nasruddin, 
had amassed in fifty years of prudent and capable rule, he dis- 
sipated in folly and waste. He had a cMdish, pitiable passion for 
the silliest, most costly gadgets — ^musical boxes, for example, 
adorned with jewels and gold and silver, and on these and similar 
trumpery objects he spent a fortune. It was no wonder that mak- 
ing a pun on his name, Musafaradm, the Persian intelligentsia 
nicknamed him “mauvaise afiaire”, and their gibe was taken up 
by foreigners in Tehran. 

He was indeed a “mauvaise affaire” for his country. Since I was 
his relative, connected with him on my father’s and my mother’s 
sides of the family, he received me with eager affection, gave me 
one of his liighest decorations and made me presents of diamond 
ornaments. But he was a sad nincompoop. Talking to Ihm was 
like talking to a child — and not a very intelligent child at that. 
His infantile outlook and behaviour were sustained and exploited, 
for his own purposes, by his Prime Minister, the aU-powcrful 
Atabeg, who in Iris morning audiences with his sovereign did 
not give him serious reports but told him the sort of fantastic 
fairy tales a grown-up man will tell a small child to keep Irim 
entertained. 

When I saw the poor man I happened to mention that I had 
just been to Burma. 

“Oh!” said he, “haven’t the Burmans heads far bigger than 
other human beings?” 

When he was in Paris he heard about Monsieur and Madame 
Curie and their discovery of radium. He asked to be shown 
radium at work. The two distinguished scientists said that they 
would come to his hotel and give him a demonstration of the 
properties of radium; but they explained that absolute darkness 
would be necessary for the demonstration. One of the hotel 
cellars was turned into a dark room; black curtains were put up 
and all light was completely shut out. The Shah and some of his 
courtiers went down to the cellar. Monsieur and Madame Curie 
arrived, and produced a piece of radium whose vivid glow ht up 
the whole room. Suddenly the Shah took fright. He began to 

64 



EARLY VISITS TO THE MIDDLE EAST 

scream and. shout and run round the room. He raved and ranted 
and accused the Curies of trying to murder liim. 

The Curies were really not used to this kind of treatment. Much 
affronted, they took their leave. The Shah was at last made to 
understand that he had gravely hint their feelings. As a recom- 
pense he awarded each of them one of his highest decorations, 
and for good measure he ordered each star to be set in diamonds. 
Off went the baubles to the Curies, who stiffly returned them with 
formal thanks, pointing out that they had been exposed to far 
too gross an insult to be able to accept anything of this kind. 

Naturally the Shall had to go up the Eiffel Tower, and natur- 
ally, about half-way up he panicked; the lift had to be stopped 
and he had to be brought down again. 

His behaviour in public and in private was deplorable. Since I 
am myself of Iranian descent and a member of the then ruling 
dynasty, the Kajar family, I was acutely aware of the shame and 
humiliation of it. So, too, were Iranian statesmen and diplomats, 
who were scandaHzed at what the Shah was doing to his own and 
liis country’s reputation. We all tried to cloak it as much as we 
could and made excuses about his ill-health, which had a certain 
basis of truth in them because he was a chronic sufferer from 
kidney trouble. 

His foUy of course had different, deeper roots. He exhibited, in 
an especially lurid hght, all the dangers of the old-fasliioned auto- 
cratic oriental monarchy. However incompetent, silly, or criminal 
such a despot was, not one of the able and inteUigent statesmen of 
the world around him ever stood up to him and told him the 
truth about himself. The mysterious prestige surrounding king- 
ship and the blood of kings induced a kind of mental paralysis 
even in good and sincere men, so that they were quite unable 
— ^in the interests of their king and their country, even in their own 
interests— -to give true advice and guidance. From what I have 
been told by distinguished Russian friends this sort of atmosphere 
prevailed in Tsarist Russia. Did it disappear, I wonder, even in 
Stalinist Russia? You could not call the men who were thus 
paralysed cowards; they were not time-servers, they were not 
utterly lacking in courage or scruples. It was simply that for them 
such divinity hedged their king that it was not a matter merely 
of pardoning his follies and weaknesses — ^for them those folhes 

65 



THE MEMOIES OP AGA js^ilAN 

and weaknesses simply did not exist. Again and again history 
teaches tins lesson; a tough, self-made man founds a dynasty, his 
frailer descendants bolster themselves up with tliis atmosphere 
of semi-divinity, and then the dynasty collapses and the process 
starts anew, unless, as happened in Japan for centuries, the semi- 
divine monarch is shut up in liis palace, unapproachable, invisible, 
and all power is exercised on his behalf by mayors of the palace. 
Poor Musafaradin was a glaring example of the more pitiable 
defects of this kind of despotism. 

From Paris I went on to Berlin. There I met Holstein at 
luncheon — one of the two men responsible for frustrating the 
attempts to acliieve an Anglo-German understanding. He was a 
grey, withdrawn, taciturn man who ate heartily and said httlc. 
I also had an audience of the Kaiser at Potsdam. WiUiam II was 
then, I suppose, at the summit of his strange and ill-starred career. 
To me he was gracious and cordial. I had been warned that he was 
acutely sensitive about his physical deformity and disliked his 
withered left arm being looked at. But members of his court and 
others who knew liirn said that the curiosity of human beings is 
such that everybody, meeting the Kaiser for the first time, found 
his gaze drawn automatically and irresistibly to the left side of his 
uniform. While I awaited my audience I said to myself over and 
over again, *^You won’t look at his arm, you ivont look at his 
arm. 

He strode into the room; my eyes became a law unto them- 
selves, and there I was staring at his left arm. Fortunately for me, 
I suppose, he must have been so accustomed to tliis happening 
that he did not let it diminish the warmth and courtesy of his 
greeting. 

He held out his right hand and shook hands with me. This 
was literally a crushing experience. As a compensation for liis 
deformity the Kaiser had, from childhood, determined that his 
right hand and arm should be so strong that they would do the 
work of two. He took constant, vigorous exercise; every day he 
had at least twenty minutes’ fencing; he played lawn-temiis often 
for two hours at a time; and undertook all manner of other 
remedial exercises. The result was an immense development of 
strength in his right hand and arm; one of its effects was this 
appallingly powerful handshake. I am told that mine was no 

(56 



tARLx vISliS iO iHE MIDDLE EAST 

unusual experience. The Duchess of Teck (later the Marcliioness 
of Cambridge) told me that she — Hke most other women with 
whom His Imperial Majesty shook hands — had the greatest diffi- 
culty in not letting out a cry of pain as he took her hand in his. 

I am sure that he was quite unconscious of what he was doing. 
He was far too great a gentleman to do it on purpose; but just 
as our eyes went to his withered arm, so his subconscious made 
him exert this violent physical strength. 

Looking back, this seems to have been a time when I was 
having a good many audiences with monarchs. Later in this same 
year I went to Constantinople. The Sultan, Abdul Hamid, made 
me liis guest at the Pera Palace Hotel, and I had a long audience 
with him at the Yildiz Palace. Tliis encounter was the subject of 
a good deal of rather wild political speculation — most of it arrant 
guesswork — at the time and subsequently. The Sultan was 
also Cahph and therefore the recognized head of the whole 
Sunni branch of the Islamic world, and I was the head of the 
Ismaili section of the Shias. The grounds for speculation were 
obvious. 

Our meeting had for me, I must say, its own rather curious 
flavour of drama. Abdul Hamid Hved then in neurotic fear of 
assassination.’- He was a chain-smoker, and I have aU my life been 
(as they say) allergic to cigarettes. When I was ushered into his 
room the doors were immediately locked, and the Sultan and I 
were alone except for an interpreter. I do not speak Turkish and 
Abdul Hamid, though I believe he could read both Arabic and 
Persian, refused to speak either of these languages. The room was 
warm and cigarette-smoke hung stale and heavy in the air. The 
Sultan sat huddled in an enormous greatcoat, with Field-Marshars 
epaulettes heavy on its shoulders. Slowly I realized that this bulky 
and cumbrous garment was armoured, and about as bullet proof 

’ It is interesting and not -without irony to realize that the word "assassin”, 
which has its special contemporary meaning, was first applied many centuries 
ago to my ancestors and their Ismaili followers. From time immemorial, small 
and oppressed minorities have had to be given a bad name — after all, you 
cannot khl a dog unless you give it a bad name — ^and in the Middle Ages the 
Ismadis were such a minority, fighting for their lives and their rights. Their 
oppressors had to give them a bad name; they associated the Ismailis -with the 
manufacture and use of the drug hashish, and it was alleged tliat they were 
addicts. The bad name, thus invented, stuck. 

67 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA t^HAN 

as was possible in those days. Did he think (I wondered) that I 
had. come there to murder him? 

Over the lapels of the overcoat a strange and somewhat sinister 
countenance confronted me. For Abdul Hamid wore heavy 
make-up — his beard dyed black, liis lips carmined, his cheeks 
rouged and his eyebrows made up to an extent that was comic. 
He might have been a clown in a circus; but his eyes glowed in 
tliis preposterous make-up. Yet this maquillage was no expression 
of efeniinacy or perversion; he was most virile, the sire of many 
cluldren and the affectionate husband and protector of a large 
harem. 

Our conversation was amiable and courteous. I recall that he 
was interested and impressed by the fact that I, hy way of Kashgar 
and Sinkiang, had up-to-date and reliable information about the 
Mushms of Western Cliina. 

It was said that, as an aspect of liis neurosis about assassination, 
every particle of food sent up to him had to be tasted by several 
people on the way, including the cook. As I had no meal with him 
I cannot vouch fully for the truth of tliis story, but I do know that 
he had an idea that the food at my hotel was not particularly good, 
so twice every day a landau drove up from the Palace with a 
cargo of cliina wash-basins fiUed with excellent dishes, both 
Turkish and Persian, prepared for me in the Palace and sent to me 
by Abdul Hamid’s express command. 

From Constantinople I made my way home to India to tackle 
a task in my household and entourage — a cleaning up job of 
nightmare complexity which was to demand a great deal of 
energy, patience, and endurance for many months to come. 



CHAPTER IV 


NINE CROWDED YEARS (1900-1909) 


T he murder of my kinsmau at Poona in the summer of 1898 
had emphasized, in the most sensational and unpleasant 
fashion, the disruptive qualities latent in the huge, ram- 
shackle, feudally extravagant household and entourage which I 
had inherited, and which I have in previous chapters described at 
some length. 

I was responsible by now for a dependent population of about 
two thousand people in my households in Bombay and Poona. 
I actually supported them. — most of them in idleness. They were 
housed and fed at my expense. The financial burden, considerable 
as it was, was not as worrying as certain other thoroughly undesir- 
able aspects of their manner of life. 

When my grandfather left Persia he took with him — as seemed 
to him natural and proper — the train of a medieval prince. But in 
Bombay in the last years of the nineteenth century we were not 
hving in the Middle Ages. 

There was not only the immediate family, which was large 
enough. During the earUer part of his wanderings my grandfather 
was accompanied by a troop of cavalry, who fought under his 
command in Persia and in Afghanistan, and later rendered re- 
doubtable assistance to Sir Charles Napier in his conquest of Sind. 
At the beginning these numbered probably some two himdred, 
some of princely birth, some knights and peasants, but all devoted 
in their allegiance to my grandfather. When he settled in Bombay 
they settled around liim — ^were they not his liege men who had 
endured and fought in his company? — ^and long before I was born 
and throughout my childhood, there they were, ageing warriors 
whose battles were done, in houses or rooms dotted about the 
rambling estate, with their families growing up around them. 

60 



THE MEMOIRS OF AOA js-JlAN 


For some of them, after they settled down, sent for their wives 
from Iran, but most married Indian wives. 

These ex-soldiers and their families were not all. During the 
fifties followers came in fair numbers from Central Asia, from 
Turkestan and Sinkiang, from Bokhara and Afghanistan, to offer 
their loyalty and bring their tribute to my grandfather. Some 
returned to their o-wn distant homes, but some stayed, and those 
who stayed took Indian wives, or married the daughters of those 
who had settled earlier. Some Ismaihs came from Africa and they 
brought negro slaves, and when they went home some of their 
slaves refused to go and stayed in Bombay. Intermarrying and 
multiplying, all these diverse elements had grown, by 1898 or 
thereabouts, into a vast assembly of two thousand people, men, 
women, and children, with little or nothing to do. and nothing 
to occupy them, with no background and no roots. In my grand- 
father’s time and in my father’s time (though they were not of 
course as numerous), their dependent status was taken for granted, 
and throughout my long minority my mother really had no 
choice but to go on housing and feeding them. As one generation 
aged and another grew up (after aU, half a century and more had 
gone by since my grandfather exiled himself from Persia), the 
whole affair took on, in the view of those who accepted our 
bounty, the air of a custom established in right. 

The old soldiers of course took pensions from my grandfather. 
As they died off the pensions continued to be paid, first by my 
father and then by my mother during my minority, but the 
original sum had to be divided up among its first recipient’s 
descendants. These were often quite numerous, so by the late 
nineties the actual incomes received by aU these beneficiaries were 
small. Most of them augmented their incomes in one way or 
another — as race course tipsters or as stablehands, for example. 
Long years of tliis rather raffish, irresponsible life, in and around 
the rapidly growing city and port of Bombay, had not tended to 
make particularly worthy or useful citizens of them. But they 
came of high-spirited, proud stock, and their natural energies and 
abihties were now being dissipated in intrigues and feuds. Quick 
to take offence, they were apt to be quick, too, in drawing the 
knife. 

Dangerous as the potentialities were, the situation had not been 

70 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

too bad until the murder of my kinsman in Poona. This, as it 
were, touched offa fuse. From then on any attempt to control this 
nest of hornets, internally by the household, or from the outside 
by the poHce, met with fierce threats. While I was on my travels 
I was warned that if I tried to clear up a clutter of ne’er-do-wells, 
who had become a scandal and a menace, my Ufe, too, would be 
in danger. 

I was determined, however, to put an end to it. The police in 
Bombay were extremely anxious for me to do nothing too sum- 
mary or too rash, such as stopping all pensions and turning the lot 
out into the street. Idle, well-fed, unruly, two thousand of them, 
from half-a-dozen races in Africa, Central Asia, Persia, and 
Afghanistan, suddenly loose among the population of Bombay as 
vagrants, would be a real public danger. And it was a danger 
which the Government — as I was given firmly to understand — 
were not prepared to allow. 

It was essential, therefore, that if I were to deal with my prob- 
lem, I must act all the time with the full support of the Govern- 
ment and in close co-operation with the poHce. It was particularly 
fortunate that I was on terms of warm friendship and understand- 
ing with Sir WilHam Lee Warner at the India Office. He was a 
tower of strength in the background. In Bombay itself a new 
Governor, Lord Northcote, had succeeded Lord Sandhurst, he 
too sustained me with his constant friendship and helped me 
through an extremely difficult task. Without alhes of this stature 
and authority it would have been immeasurably more difficult. 

As it was, I went at it gradually and persistently. Some of the 
rowdiest and uiiruHest of all were technically not British subjects; 
these were deported to the Persian Gulf and turned loose in 
regions where their propensities were less dangerous than in 
populous, urban Bombay. To a number I gave lump-sum gratui- 
ties, on condition that they, too, took themselves off. One group 
I got sent off, with the help of the pohee, to remote hill stations 
whence they were forbidden to make their way back to Bombay. 
With the removal of the worst among the older malcontents, we 
were able to get down to the more agreeable task of reclaiming 
and educating their children; we set up schools for them andsome 
went to the Jesuit schools nearby; some who were conspicuously 
bright went on to a higher university education; they all went out 

71 



THE MEMOIRS OP AUA ii.HAN 

to work; and the majority of them are now, I am glad to say, 
and have long since been, wortliy and law-abidmg citizens. 
Among them may be counted barristers, engineers, senior officers 
of the and prosperous members of other professions. 

But the clean-up was not an easy job, and it was not completed 
in a day. It was a long struggle that was with me for many months. 

Meanwhile, engrossed as I was in this arduous and unpleasant 
job, I had not lost touch with the wider world. Queen Victoria’s 
death in January 1901 seemed the end of an age to those of us 
who had been bom and who had grown up under the ample and 
glorious shade of her long reign. We were conscious that Finis had 
been written to a mighty chapter. 

My friend and patron, the Prince of Wales, was now upon the 
throne, with the title of Edward VII. He graciously honoured me 
with a personal invitation to be present at his Coronation in 1902. 
To London I returned therefore that summer, to a London which 
I knew well, to a Society where I had many friends and where I 
was made warmly and happily welcome. Already, it was possible 
to recognize that the Edwardian Age was opening. There was a 
new tone noticeable in Society, a shift of standards, a recognition 
of the meaning and challenge of the new century. 

At first, it was a gay and eventful summer. There was a whole 
round of shows and entertainments, and a great deal of hospitahty 
was shown to myself and the other Indian princes and maharajahs 
who had been invited. Suddenly on the eve of the Coronation the 
King, who was no longer a young man, was taken ill. Few, I 
think, at the time were really aware of the gravity of the King’s 
illness, and the narrowness of his escape. Appendicitis was not in 
those days the almost routine affair it is considered today, and 
appendicectomy was a serious and danger-fraught operation. The 
Coronation had to be postponed; the ceremonies and rejoicings 
were held in suspense; many of the distinguished foreign Royal 
guests, unable to wait as long as was obviously necessary, took 
their leave and went home. The King made a wonderfully rapid 
recovery from his operation, and by August was willin g, nay 
eager, to face the strain and fatigue of the elaborate and beautiful 
Coronation ceremony. It was not generally realized at the time 

73 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I9O9) 

that during much of the service the Kiug, who bore himself 
with great dignity throughout, was in considerable pain. 

For myself there was one gratifying circumstance comiected 
with the Coronation. The ICing advanced me from the rank of 
K.C.I.E, to G.C.I.E. in his Coronation Honours. 

In accordance with custom, there was a great Coronation Naval 
Review at Spithead, which I had the privilege of attending as 
the King’s guest aboard liis own yacht. Among the other guests, 
there was, I remember, the thin, slight but formidable figure of 
Ras Makonnen, the Abyssinian feudal chieftain who was the 
victorious general, right-hand man, and Viceroy of the Emperor 
Menelik, whom he subsequently succeeded. He possessed the 
quality of inscrutability. I recall that the British Minister in Addis 
Ababa told me that he could always read Menehk’s mind and 
divine his intentions, but never Ras Makomien’s. The mutabdity 
of human affairs is aptly illustrated by the vicissitudes endured 
by his son, Ras Tafari, who became the Emperor Hade Selassie, 
resisted the Itahan invasion of his country in 193 5 , was defeated 
and driven into exde, pleaded his cause before the League of 
Nations in Geneva, then bided his time in exde, and in 1941 when 
the Italians were crusldngly defeated in East Africa (by a small, 
vahant army, to which India contributed magnificently), returned 
in triumph to his throne. Surely this is one of the most extra- 
ordinary romances of our time, in danger of being forgotten 
because there have been so many other romantic and strange 
stories. 

* * + ★ * 

I returned to India in November of that year, 1902. I was 
surprised to find waiting for me a letter from the Viceroy, Lord 
Curzon, asking me to become a member of liis Legislative 
Councd. This was a considerable honour to a young man still in 
his twenties (I was by far the youngest member), for the Viceroy’s 
Legislative Councd in those days was a smaU, select body of 
influential people, wielding real authority. My acceptance necessi- 
tated my moving for the time being to Calcutta, which was then 
the seat of British power in India. 

The two years in which I was a member of the Legislative 
Councd (I was asked if I would accept nomination a second time, 

73 • 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA ji-HAN 

but I refused) had a profound and permanent effect on my life and 
character, in their private and personal as well as their public 
aspects. For the first time in my life I had a real, normal home of 
my own, with the ordinary complement of servants and the 
ordinary social and domestic Bfe of a man in my station, free of 
the extraordinary accretion of hangers-on and ne’er-do-wells 
(remnants of whom never entirely disappeared from Bombay and 
Poona) whose disruptive and menacing activities I have described 
earlier in this chapter. 

The effect on my pubHc and political life was hardly less 
marked. I found myself working alongside men of the calibre and 
quality of Lord Curzon liimself, and of the Commander-in~Clhef, 
the redoubtable Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener of Khartoum. 
Among my Indian colleagues there was the brilliant Mr. G. K. 
Gokhale, the outstanding Indian nationaHst statesman until the 
rise of Mahatma Gandhi and the Nehrus, father and son. Gokhale 
and I struck up a friendship which only ended with his death. 
He was a caste Hindu and I was a MusHm, but our friendship 
crossed the barriers of creed and race. He was a man of vision, 
courageous and generous. His influence on my thought and out- 
look was probably considerable. Not of course that be was the 
first pohtical thinker of a different background from my own with 
whom I had come in contact, or with whom I found the excliange 
of ideas stimulating. Some years previously in Bombay I had come 
to know and like Mr. Navroji Dumasia, a talented Parsee in the 
service of the Times of India and Mr. (later Sir) Frank Brown, a 
British journalist and publicist who was on the staff of the Bombay 
Gazette and subsequently of The Times; to both these friends I 
owe a great deal, both in what I have done and what I have tried 
to do in my political work. 

In Gokhale I encountered a powerful as well as lovable person- 
ality. I realized how deep and strong were the forces in India of 
which he was the spokesman. I also saw how remote the Govern- 
ment had become from the people of India, not the masses only, 
but the increasing and ever more articulate and active intelli- 
gentsia. I saw at close quarters how foreign the Goveniment was 
in spirit and in atmosphere. On the other side, I saw that India’s 
political leaders, dissatisfied at not having succeeded in obtain- 
ing their earlier moderate demands, began to seek not merely 

74 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I9O9) 

administrative reforms but the full control of their own political 
destiny. 

For myself, I continued to pin a great deal of faith on educational 
advancement. Illiteracy I saw as a menace to people and Govern- 
ment alike. Poverty and disease were its sinister consequences and 
accompaniments. More than once my speeches in the Legislative 
Council turned into strong pleas for generous and judicious 
expenditure on education. I urged the adoption of a system of 
universal primary education such as almost every civilized country 
possessed, and pointed out as often as I could that in my view the 
fundamental cause of India’s extreme poverty was India’s extreme 
ignorance. 

At the same time I began to reaHze, during these two crucial 
years, that the Congress Party, the only active and responsible 
political organization in the country, would prove itself incapable 
— was already proving itself incapable — of representing India’s 
Muslims, or of dealing adequately or justly with the needs and 
aspirations of the Muslim commimity. The pressure of Hindu 
extremism was too strong. Already that artificial unity which the 
British Raj had imposed from without was cracking. Deep- 
seated and ineradicable differences expressed themselves once 
political activity and aspirations had advanced beyond the most 
elementary stage. The breach was there — in Hindu intransigence 
and lack of perception of basic Mushm ideals and hopes. I did all 
I could to prevent the breach being widened. I maintained a 
campaign of remonstrance with Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, who was 
high in the counsels of the Congress Party, who was a friend of my 
family and who had known me since childhood. I begged him to 
use his influence and make Congress realize how important it was 
to win Muslim confidence; but all to no avail. 

Whatever the reason for their attitude, the Congress leaders 
persisted in ignoring the realities of the communal situation. There 
were provinces in which the Muslims were in a clear majority, 
in Bengal for example, and m the Punjab, out of wliich the 
N.W. Frontier Province had not then been carved. And about 
Delhi, Agra, and Aligarh there had been built up a spiritual home, 
sanctified by some of the most valuable of Muslim traditions and 
adorned with imperishable treasures of Islamic art and culture. 
Some comprehension of what this meant in Muslim minds was 

7 ^ 



THE MEMOIRS OF AOA x^JtiAN 


all vve asked. And tke time was propitious — as never again— for an 
understanding; earlier grave differences of opinion with Congress 
had dwindled into comparative insignificance and even the 
memory of them that remained could have been wiped out — as 
I argued as forcibly as I could — ^if certain proposals which we 
made for equitable representation and a fair ratio of Government 
employment for Mushms had been accepted and acted upon. 

The primary step was that Congress should choose as its repre- 
sentative on the Viceroy’s Legislative Council a MusHm from 
Bengal or the Puryab. Wc drew a blank there. For Congress 
obstinately continued to send third-rate Muslims from preponder- 
antly Hindu provinces like Madras and Bombay, Gokliale, I am 
convinced, was sincerely anxious to do all he could to change his 
Party’s attitude. He could never pubhcly admit it, but privately 
he was deeply distressed to watch Iris political friends and associ- 
ates thus deliberately sowing the seeds of permanent disunity 
between Hindu and Muslim. I made frequent, urgent representa- 
tions of practical, feasible steps by wliich we could have integrated 
MusUm political feeling into the Congress Party and presented a 
united front to the British Government. Yet even the private 
support wliich Gokliale gave to my representations brought no 
change of mind or heart. 

I turned to my friends at Aligarh, and in particular to Nawab 
Mohsen-ul-Molk, who had succeeded Sir Syed AJimed as 
Muslim leader. Mohsen-ul-Molk was not hidebound, he was 
moderate and realistic, and was not at all antagonistic either to 
Congress or to Hindus in general. If there had been give-and-take 
in what were then quite minor matters he was willing to join 
forces with Congress. In such an atmosphere — ^assisted by the fact 
that there was a joint electorate and joint representation— a 
political alliance between the two communities was possible. Our 
hopes were dashed again and again. Conditions deteriorated at the 
next elections; and by 1906 Mohsen-ul-Molk and I, in common 
with other Muslim leaders, had come to the conclusion that our 
only hope lay along tlie lines of independent organization and 
action, and that we must secure independent political recognition 
from the British Government as a nation within a nation. 

While I Uved in Calcutta, I came to know the Right Honour- 
able Syed Amir Ah, later a Privy Councillor, then a Judge of the 

76 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-1909) 

High Court in Calcutta. I had of course read liis famous books 
on Islam; my admiration for his learning, and for his capacity 
to expound and interpret our Muslim rehgion, was unstinted. 
Although of course he was excluded from any participation in 
politics, I had no hesitation in going to him for advice and help 
in my own poHtical endeavours — above aU, to secure equitable 
representations of Muslims, and to open the eyes of the then 
Congress High Command to the perils of the course on which 
they seemed set. But when our hopes were frustrated, it was a 
great encouragement that Sycd Amir Ah, with aU Hs personal 
prestige, and his great knowledge of Hindu-Muslim poHtical 
relations (especiaUy in Bengal) urged us on in our efforts for the 
estabUslnnent of a separate Muslim organization, and gave us 
quiet, constant support when Nawab Mohsen-ul-MoUc and I 
argued that our only hope of getting a fair deal from the British 
was to convince them of the width of the gulf— historical, cultural, 
and rehgious — that yawned between us and our neighbours. 

The Congress Party by its blindness to legitimate claims and 
aspirations, and by its persistence in its ridiculous habit of choosing 
MusUm yes-men from Madras and Bombay as its representatives 
on the Viceroy’s Legislative Council, lost a great opportunity 
which was not to recur. These then were critical years, not merely 
in my own political development, but m that vast and complex 
process which brought about, in Httle more than forty years, the 
partition of the Indian subcontinent into the separate states of 
Bharat and Pakistan. 

★ *■**■*■ 

A notable event during my period of service on the Viceroy’s 
Legislative Council was the Coronation Durbar in Delhi, the 
chmax of which was a magnificent parade of some 40,000 troops 
who, headed by the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener, 
marched past the representative of the King-Emperor. That 
representative was the King’s brother, my watchful and kind 
friend since my childhood, the Duke of Connaught. Immediately 
after the Durbar we held a MusHm Educational Coifference in 
Delhi, at which I spoke at some length on several of the educa- 
tional projects in whose furtherance I was active — most important 
of all, Ahgarh. 


77 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 
I ventured to make a direct plea to my friends and colleagues; 

I beg of you that the cause of a Central University — a university 
which, please Heaven, may rank some day with Oxford and Leipzig 
and Paris, as a home of great ideas and noble ideals — a university 
where our youth may receive the highest instruction in the sciences 
of the West, a university where the teaching of the liistory and liter- 
ature of the East may not be scamped over for a mere parrot-Hke 
knowledge of Western thought, a university where our youth may 
also enjoy, in addition to sucli advantages, a Muslim atmosphere — 
I earnestly beg of you that the cause of such a university should 
not be forgotten in the shouts of the market place that daily rise 
amongst us. 

Those words of mine, spoken fifty years ago, sum up the aspira- 
tions which I cherished from the outset on behalf of Aligarh, and 
which I have been happy to live to see fulfilled. 

I had had two arduous and formative years on the Viceroy’s 
Legislative Council. In the summer of 1904 I returned to Europe 
and picked up the tlrreads of my social and personal life there. In 
the political sphere there were big changes impending. Arthur 
Balfour had succeeded his uncle, Lord Salisbury, as Prime Minister 
and leader of the Conservative Party; but it was obvious that the 
long epoch of Conservative dominance in British pohtics was 
drawing to a close. The dynamic Joseph Chamberlain had flung 
the issue of Protectionism into the ring, and in so doing had 
gravely split the Conservative Party. The Liberals were steadily 
gathering their forces; the Irish Question, after some years of 
deceptive calm, was simmering again; and the emergence of the 
Labour Party — stiU very small in numbers — was a portent that 
was well worth noting. 

I had as yet formed no intention of racing or breeding horses in 
Europe, and was not to do so until many years had elapsed; but 
my interest in these matters was miabated. I went regularly to 
race meetings while I was in England, and it was during this 
summer, as I recall, that I first made the acquaintance of Colonel 
Hall Walker (later Lord Wavertree), who was one of the outstand- 
ing personalities of the British turf, immensely knowledgeable 
about everytliing to do with horses, independent in his judg- 
ment, outspoken and didactic. Some people considered his views 
and his methods so eccentric that he was nicknamed “Wliimsical 

78 



NINE CEOWDED YEARS (1900-1909) 

Walker”, but I would be the last to impugn his wisdom, liis 
sagacity and experience. He was then the owner of the famous 
Tuily Stud in Ireland, which later became the Irish National Stud, 
and with winch in after years I had much to do. 

I returned to Bombay that winter and set out in the following 
year, 1905, on my second visit to East Africa. I urged on my 
Ismaih followers there some of the ideas, in intellectual and 
physical education, that I was practising and preaching in India. 
I was especially distressed by the low standards of physique 
noticeable in Zanzibar; the incidence in particular of tuberculosis 
was liigh. If it was argued that the fierce tropical climate enervated 
those who Uved in it and induced listlessness and apathy, I could 
point out that the same could be said of India, and there we were 
beginning to take energetic steps to combat it. In Zanzibar I had 
consultations with the mukhis, the leaders of tire local communi- 
ties. I had a palace turned into a sports club and centre for physical 
training, with a running track and football and cricket pitches, 
I gave prizes in all sorts of competitions, from billiards to cycling. 
I am glad to say that my innovations proved a marked success. 

While I was in Africa a suit was brought against me in the 
Bombay High Court by certain discontented members of my 
family, collateral descendants of my grandfather. A series of 
claims, financial and otherwise, were made against me. This case, 
which dragged on for many months, was not so much a sequel 
of the earher case brought against my grandfather in the sixties, 
by dissident elements among the Khojas (to which I have referred 
in a previous chapter), as a consequence of the generous, feudal 
manner in which my grandfather’s establishment in Bombay had 
been set up and maintained. During the protracted proceedings a 
great deal of the history and background of my family and the 
Ismaih sect were gone into again, commissions of inquiry were 
sent into distant regions of Asia and Africa to collect evidence 
about my ancestors’ property and affairs. My mother gave 
evidence on my behalf and was complimented by the Judge, who 
said that she had “displayed an extraordinary memory”. I was 
fortunate in my counsel, Mr. Inverarity, a keen and able lawyer. 
When at length the hearings ended and the presiding Judge, Mr. 
Justice Russell, summed up, his judgment proved to be a classic 
example of its kind—a masterly, lucid, wide-ranging survey of 
D 79 



THE MiiMOIRS OF AGA khAN 

Islamic Mstory, religion, custom, and law. And tlie satisfactory 
conclusion of the long and costly business was that I was fully and 
■fin ally confirmed in my rights and status, and have never there- 
after been subjected to a similar challenge. 

I returned to India for the cold weather of 1905-6, in time to 
pay my respects to the Prince of Wales (later ICing George V) 
in Calcutta. He was then, of course, in the middle of that State 
visit to India wliich had been under discussion when I was in 
England in 1904. This was not my first meeting with His Royal 
Highness (as he then was). My friendship with him and with his 
beloved consort. Queen Mary, was of long standing. I first met 
Queen A 4 ary in 1898, when she was Duchess of York; she was 
at home in England with her three young children (King 
Edward VTU, later the Duke of Windsor, the late ICing George VI, 
and the Princess Royal) wMe her husband was out of the country 
on his first tour of duty as a naval officer. 

All my memories of this good and gracious pair are warmly 
affectionate. I have always been proud that I won Ehng George V’s 
friendship and maintained it to the end of his hfe. He gave me 
his confidence to the same degree as liis father had done. He talked 
to me always with utter fcankness on all sorts of subjects, personal, 
pohtical, sporting, and social. I often had the honour of being 
his guest at luncheon, first at Marlborough House when he was 
Prince of Wales, and, after his accession, at Buckingham Palace. 
Luncheon was an infori-nal, quietly family affair, with Queen 
Mary and one or two of their children, and myself the only guest. 
Usually these luncheons were noted in the Court Circular; but 
from time to time, for special reasons, pubhc reference was not 
made to them. King George carried aU his Hfe the stamp of his 
early training as a professional officer in the Royal Navy, with 
his trim and elegant figure, his strong fresh complexion, his 
nautical beard, and the tone and accent of Iris admirably clear 
voice, which last was an especially vivid reminder that he had 
exercised command at sea for many years before the death of his 
elder brother placed him directly in the succession to the Throne. 
He had a short temper, and was apt to show it when small things 
went wrong, but he quickly got over it. He had a very kind 
heart which was easily stirred to sympathy by the suffering of 
others. 

Ro 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

I know of one example of the spontaneity and generosity of his 
sympathy. During the King-Emperor’s Coronation Durbar in 
Dellii the Maharajah of Baroda resented the fact that he had to 
go and make a public bow to the King. He demonstrated his 
resentment by performing his homage in a haphazard and casual 
fashion. This shocked everyone who saw it, British and Indian 
ahke, because there was no justification for his showing open 
discourtesy to the ICing-Empcror. He apologized in writing to 
the Viceroy, and although the apology was accepted the King 
naturally felt sore about the episode and went on feeling sore 
for some years. But later misfortune descended upon the Mahara- 
jah of Baroda; more than one of his sons died in their young 
manhood, and another fell grievously ill. When the King learned 
of these sorrows, he forgave the Maharajah whole-heartedly, 
blotted out the memory of the insult, and more than once I heard 
loim refer to the Maharajah of Baroda as “that poor, unfortunate 
man” in tones of sincere commiseration. 

King George V, like his father, was extremely meticulous 
about the way in wliicli orders and decorations were worn, and, 
again like his father, had an extraordinarily keen eye for the 
shghtest mistake in their arrangement on anyone’s chest. 

He once remarked to me: “Some people are surprised that my 
father and I are so particular about these things. But wouldn’t it 
be pecuhar if in ordinary society people turned up with their 
shirts outside their trousers, their collars or their neckties on back 
to front, and the buttons of their coats and waistcoats all wrong? 
Just as ordinary society has its rules for the proper wearing of 
clothes, so a king and his Court must have their rules for the 
proper wearing of uniforms, decorations, and orders.” 

Once, at some big Court function, the late Maharajah of 
Rajpipla appeared in the King’s presence not wearing — ^as he 
should have worn — the collar of one of his decorations, because 
it caused him discomfort. The King was angry and showed that he 
was angry, but Queen Mary made a quick, concihatory gesture 
towards the unhappy yoirag man, as if to say, “Don’t worry, it’ll 
blow over.” It did, and the King soon forgave him. 

In connection with tliis same Maharajah of Rajpipla, I can give 
an example of King George V’s pertinacious and all-round 
interest in aU sorts of matters. The Maharajah won the Derby in 

8t 



THE MEMOIBS OF AOA x>.llAN 

1934 with a horse called Windsor Lad. He had somehow delayed 
giving to liis trainer the present which it is customary for a 
winning owner to give to his trainer after the Derby. His trainer 
was Mr. Marcus Marsh, the son of King George’s former trainer. 
Weeks passed and the Maharajah still gave no present. One after- 
noon I was at a solenm and imposing State ceremony, where 
Ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, and exalted Court functionaries 
abounded. The King caught sight of me in the august throng, 
took me quietly into a comer, and told me that he knew that 
Marsh had not had liis present. 

“You were a great friend of liis father’s, weren’t you?” he said 
earnestly, “and you know the young man himself. Do please 
tackle him and make him see that this present is a normal affair, 
and he’s got to give it.” 

Naturally I did as the King asked, and the Maharajah belatedly 
sent Marsh his present. Nearly twenty years afterwards I told 
Marsh my side of the episode. Now although he was the son of 
the King’s trainer and although he quite often saw the King, he 
had never mentioned it to him. But Marsh had told a friend of Jiis 
about the Maharajah’s curious absence of mind, the friend was a 
general who was on the King’s staff; he told the King and the 
King decided to use me as a go-between. 

During the tliirty-four years that I knew him I saw a great 
deal of King George V, at his home, at race meetings at Ascot 
and Epsom and elsewhere, and on his two visits to India as Prince 
of Wales and as King. 

On this visit in 1905, which set me off on this train of reminis- 
cences, there was a State ball in the Viceroy’s House in Calcutta. 
The Prince of Wales took me into liis room and told me that he 
was fully in favour of the appointment of Indians to the Viceroy’s 
Executive Council, and that he considered it most unfortunate 
that there were no Indians on it at the moment. He said, “I have 
strongly urged both Lord Morley and Lord Minto that an Indian 
be appointed.” 

He went on to talk to me at length about the Calcutta hospitals, 
to which his father had referred a year before; he was not at all 
happy about them. 

The Morley-Minto reforms (of which I shall have much to say 
a little later) were promulgated in the following year. In private 

8 - 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

the Prince of Wales made no secret of the fact that he regarded 
these reforms as necessary and right. Like Queen Victoria he had 
a quick and real sympathy for his Indian subjects, and he under- 
stood the real needs of India, above all for a vigorous, united 
drive against ignorance and poverty and the appallingly low 
standard of living. During the Round Table Conferences he sent 
me more than one message urging me on and encouraging me 
in my efforts to bring about a settlement of Hindu-MusHin differ- 
ences, in order that we might then get on with the practical, 
economic, and social reforms which were so long overdue. One 
day after I had the honour of luncliing with him at Ascot he spoke 
to me warmly along the same lines. 

I remember that when the news leaked out from Berlin in the 
First World War that Indian anarchists were being trained in 
Germany the ICing was shocked and grieved at the thought that 
the Kaiser could demean himself to countenance such underhand 
and savage tactics. In the same way his grief was profound but 
private at the dreadful murder of the whole Russian Royal 
Family, his cousins, the Tsar and Tsarina and all their children, 
at Ekaterinburg in 1918. He never made any pubhe reference to 
it, but more than once in our private talks he had no hesitation in 
opening liis heart to me and telhng me of his sorrow. 

Sir Harold Nicolson, in his recently pubhshed biography of 
King George V, lays stress on the fact that the King was always 
fully aware of the constitutional proprieties, and of Iris inability 
to intervene in poUtics, however strong his private wishes or 
feehngs might be. Sir Flarold gives a vivid account of the way 
in winch, after he had aired his views — ^vigorously, doubtless, 
and with singular pungency of phrase — ^he would make a gentle 
gesture, his right hand passing across his body, and say with a 
resigned smile, “It’s not for me to have opinions, or to interfere.” 

I so well remember that gesture and that smile. I have seen diem 
so often, in many an after-luncheon talk. 

The most industrious, diUgent, and hard-worked of men. King 
George yet possessed the dehghtful faculty' of collecting and re- 
membering small personal details about his friends’ private lives. 
Some years before the First World War the Maharajah of 
GwaUor was affianced to the Maharajah of Baroda’s daughter 
(now the Maliarani of Gooch Behar). During the Delhi Durbar 

81 



THE MiiMOIHS Of AGA jslHAN 

of 1912 she broke off the engagement. Outwardly the Maharajah 
of Gwalior took his disappointment bravely, but inwardly he 
was greatly distressed. The King heard about it. He knew that 
Gwalior and I were close friends. At one of the State functions he 
sent for me, told me how grieved he was for Gwalior, and asked 
me to do all I could to ease matters. 

As I have said, I knew Queen Mary even before I met her 
husband. For well over fifty years I was proud and glad to be 
counted among her friends. In 1952 — ^less than a year before she 
died — I had two affectionate personal messages from her; the first 
a telegram of congratulations, after my horse Tulyar won the 
Derby, and with it a soUcitous inquiry about my health, for she 
knew that I had been gravely ill and was glad to hear that I was 
on the mend; the other (the last message I ever had from her) 
was when the same horse, Tulyar, won the King George and 
Queen Ehzabeth Cup at Ascot, and she got an equerry to convey 
her congratulations and her regards to me. 

She was a staunch, invaluable support to King George; a truly 
great Enghsh lady, she seemed to me to mingle in herself all the 
best quahties of Royalty in the constitutional pattern, of wifely, 
maternal, domestic excellence, and of sturdy middle-class reaUsm. 

One of the most touching— in a way, one of the most painful — 
experiences of my Hfe was a conversation I had with Queen 
Mary shortly before King Edward VIII’s abdication. I had just 
had a long audience with King Edward VIII, having returned to 
London from Geneva after one of the interminable conferences 
of the League of Nations, and in this audience I made my report 
to the King, I spoke fervently and sincerely to Queen Mary of 
my great admiration for King Edward, for his clarity of view, for 
his realism, above all for his full appreciation of the dangers of the 
coming war. I could see that she was immensely proud of her 
son, yet I could see, too, that she was holding back tears — tears 
which were an indication of her awareness of the sorrow that 
impended for the Royal Family. No open hint did she give of it 
and no reference could I, or would I have made to it. Having 
come from abroad I had had no sense of how near and how great 
was King Edward’s danger. Realization in that sad silence was 
aU the more shocking. In all that we did not say, in the quiet of 
her drawing-room, there was a profound and tragic apprehension, 

84 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I9O9) 

a sense of the clouds massing for the terrible storm that was to 
burst around her and around those she dearly loved. 

it ■*■■** * 

In the summer of 1906 1 was again in England. There had been 
a General Election since my last visit, the Conservatives had been 
heavily defeated, and the Liberals were in power with a record 
majority, and a Government under the Premiership of Sir Henry 
Campbell-Barmerman, which assembled in the Cabinet Room 
and on the Front Bench a galaxy of briUiant and able men, un- 
equalled in recent British history; Asquith, Grey, Haldane, 
Lloyd George, John Morley, Herbert Samuel, and Winston 
Churchill, to name only a few of that memorable administration. 
Morley — Gladstone’s intimate friend, Cabinet colleague, and 
biographer, the possessor of one of the most powerful, construc- 
tive intellects of his day — held what was to me and my pohtical 
associates the supremely important post of Secretary of State for 
India. Soon his name was to be associated with that of the 
Viceroy, the Earl of Minto, a Scottish nobleman of liberal out- 
look, sagacity, and equability, in the Morley-Minto reforms, 
which marked so momentous an advance in India’s journey to 
pohtical emancipation. Asquith was Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
Lloyd George was President of the Board of Trade; and Winston 
Churclull, then just turned tliirty, and a recent recruit from the 
other side of the House, held at first a minor Ministerial post, 
but was soon to rocket into prominence. 

I have had the privilege and pleasure of Sir Winston Churchill’s 
friendship for over half a century. As I recall, it was at Poona 
in the kte summer of 1896 that our paths first crossed. A group 
of officers of the Fourth Hussars, tlien stationed at Bangalore, 
called on me. I was ill at the time, but my cousin Shamsuddin 
entertained them and showed them my horses. When he later 
told me of their visit he said that among the officers none had a 
keener, more discriminating eye, none was a better judge of a 
horse, than a young subaltern by the name of Wmston Spencer 
Churchill. My cousin described him as perhaps a Httle over 
twenty, eager, irrepressible, and already an enthusiastc, cour- 
ageous, and promising polo player. 

It is impossible to think of the yomig Winston Churchill 

85 



THE MEMOIRS Or AOA i^nAN 

without recalling his mother, the briUiant and much-loved 
Lady Randolph Churchill. Her bem^, her grace, ai^her-wit 
have now a legegiiarYquahty. The wiS^oT oncT^ous man, 
itlirmotha^'H^ anothetTHie herselFwas ahroman of the utmost 
’Histmction. ^ — - 

''"Trbm many recollections of Lady Randolph, on many occa- 
sions and in many places, I choose one saying of hers that seems 
to me especially typical of the felicity and the pointedness of her 
wit. One day at Aix-les-Bains, Sir Rufus Isaacs (later the first 
Marquess of Reading) observed about some particular action of 
which he disapproved, “No man would respect a woman who 
would do that.” 

“No woman,” said Lady Randolph gently, “wants to be 
respected.” 

In. later hfe our paths were destined to cross again and 
again. We met, in the summer of 1902, King Edward VII’s 
Coronation Year, at Warwick Castle as guests of Lord and Lady 
Warwick over a long week-end. In six years the ebullient cavalry 
subaltern had travelled far and achieved much; wherever there 
had been fighting there he had contrived to be, regardless of the 
views of senior officers — ^Malakand, about which he wrote the 
first of his many books; Kitchener’s “Biver War” along the 
upper reaches of the Nile; the cavalry charge at Omdurman; and 
as a war correspondent in South Africa he had been taken prisoner, 
escaped, and had a price put on his head by Kruger. By 1902 he 
was Conservative member of ParUament for Oldham. At War- 
wick that week-end he was in a holiday mood; he and I involved 
ourselves in a vigorous argument about the comparative merits, 
in sheer sporting quality, of polo and hunting. He was firmly 
for polo; I who had followed hounds from boyhood was as 
stubbornly for hunting. But I recall another conversation that 
same summer week-end which was less light-hearted. He with 
bis imperialist traditions and outlook reverted — ^as so many 
politicaUy-minded Enghshmen had to in those days — to the ques- 
tion of Ireland; he echoed something that Lord Spencer had said 
to me some years earlier: “Twenty years of firm government 
is no solution of the Irish problem.” 

“So long as the people of Ireland are dissatisfied,” continued 
the young Tory M.P., the nominal supporter of Arthur Balfour, 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

“there can be no solution. Only when the Irish people are poUtic- 
ally satisfied will we be able to solve the Irish problem.” 

As young men will, we talked a great deal about a great many 
subjects. Churchill, whose verbal memory is one of his many 
remarkable characteristics, quoted freely from FitzGerald’s trans- 
lation of Omar Khayyam. He assured me that he knew virtually 
the whole poem by heart. I remember being genuinely surprised 
by the enthusiasm wliich he displayed, for to those of us whose 
mother tongue is Persian, Omar ^layydm seems a minor poet 
with a very limited outlook. I tackled Churchill along those lines, 
and he countered me by saying that what he admired in Omar 
Khayyam was not his philosophy but his poetic power. Then 
suddenly he made a dialectical volte-face and said: “You know, 
there’s a great deal in his pliilosophy. After all it doesn’t greatly 
matter what we do now — bit’ll be all the same in a hundred years.” 

I took strong exception to this flippant observation. 

“What you do now,” I said, “may be of little account a 
thousand years from now. But certainly events a hundred years 
hence will very much be the direct results of our present deeds and 
misdeeds.” 

As I remember, he came round into agreement with me. Now 
a good deal older, and with a good deal more experience behind 
me, I think that I would argue that events a thousand years hence 
can be strongly affected by what we do now — or leave undone. 

Think of my own august ancestor, Mohammed the Prophet of 
Islam. If Mohammed had been killed in his first encounter with 
his enemies, Islam would never have arisen; Arabia might have 
been the home of a number of minor Christian sects; the Middle 
East would have been Christian instead of predominantly Mus- 
lim; and that part of the Indian subcontinent which became 
Mushm might have been converted to some version of Chris- 
tianity. I go further: if after our Holy Prophet’s Ascension into 
Heaven the succession had gone to the Ansar of Medina, a kindly, 
steadfast clan of yeomen, content to five on and work by the 
land, instead of to the Prophet’s own tribe, the Quraish of Mecca, 
internationally-minded, virile, reckless folk with a lust for travel 
and adventure, who journeyed to Constantinople and Alexandria, 
to Rome even, to Iran and by sea to India in search of trade, 
then Islam would have taken a totally different turn. Under the 

87 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KriAN 

leadership of the Ansar of Medina it would have been today — if it 
indeed still survived — one of many minor, httle-known Eastern 
sects. 

It needed the imagination, the international experience of the 
trade-conscious Quraish, the citizens of Mecca, to have made 
Islam a world rehgion whose call was spread abroad to aU 
mankind. 

In our own time too, there are plenty of examples of decisions 
— pohtical and otherwise — whose influence stretches far beyond 
the immediate present into a distant future. If in 1871 Bismarck 
had left Alsace and Lorraine out of the peace terms wlrich he 
imposed on France in his hour of victory, would there ever have 
been the cry of “Revanche, Revanche!” which echoed fiercely 
down the years afterwards? The Franco-Prussian War might 
have shpped uito obHvion with the other vainglorious follies of 
the Second Empire; and that United Europe which is the eager 
hope and desire of us all today would have come to pass without 
the bitter experience of two World Wars. Even after the First 
World War had the Western Powers hearkened to the advice of 
men like Lord D’Abernon during the early, critical years of the 
Weimar Republic, we might never have heard of Adolf Hitler; 
the old League of Nations which had many good points — not 
least of which was its rapid acceptance of Stresemann’s Germany 
into full membersliip — ^would have gone a long way to heal the 
wounds of the First World War. But there were other less en- 
lightened counsellors to whom the peoples of Western Europe 
listened, and in the succeeding years notliing was left undone to 
show the German people that there was one way in wliich they 
could get what they wanted, and that was by power pohtics. 

Ah, well, the two young men who sat talking so ardently at 
Warwick Castle long ago had much to learn. If I may say so, 
one of Sir Winston ChurclriU’s outstanding characteristics — ^per- 
haps the most valuable of all to him in his career as a statesman — 
has been his capacity to learn by experience, and having learned 
to wipe the slate clean. 

In 1906, four years after our memorable encounter at Warwick 
Castle, he was a junior Minister in CampbeU-Baimerman’s 
Liberal Government, and I remember that Jolm Morley, his 
senior Cabinet colleague, said to me, “The young Churchill, like 

88 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-1909) 

the young Joseph Chamberlain that I knew, possesses the greatest 
natural pohtical sense. There is in ChurcliiU the same inn ate and 
natural readiness to tackle and solve problems as they arise that 
there was in Joe.” 

Sir Wuiston Churchill unites and blends in Ins strong per- 
sonahty two usually conflicting strands: the romantic, the deeply 
emotional, and poetic interpreter of history mingled with the 
commonsense, practical, down-to-earth reahst, the hardheaded 
and coolly calculating strategist. It is an irresistible, at times a 
majestic, combination. 

For example, he accepted the fact that India was to remain in 
the Commonwealth on her own terms and as a repubhe. As he 
liimself has said to me, “Half a loaf is better than none.” 

His whole relationship with the problem of India is a manifes- 
tation on the highest political plane of these two interlinked facets 
of Churchill’s character. Part of his being responds with histan- 
tancous romanticism to a highly-coloured conception of Empire, 
to the Union Jack unfurled to the breeze in some distant outpost, 
to the vigilant picket keeping guard in the desolate Khyber, to 
aU the trumpet-calls of more than a century of British Imperial 
history. But in another part of liis being he is capable of resolute 
practicaUty and common sense, soHd and reahstic yet magnani- 
mous. It is this latter facet which has predominated since 1947; he 
has cheerfully accepted a pohtical fact for what it is, and has 
striven — ^with a good deal of success — to make the best of a quite 
new situation. 

I would have wished, though, that his connection with India 
(after Ins brief period of soldiering there was over) had been 
closer, and Iris responsibflity for decisions on Indian matters more 
immediate, at some time or another in liis career. 

I saw a good deal of him during the First World War, and we 
often discussed pohtics. Not long after the end of the war, when 
Lord Chelmsford’s term as Viceroy was ending and before the 
appointment of Lord Reading, Lloyd George asked two of us, 
myself and an intimate friend of mine, Mr. Bassou, a member of 
the Council of India, to come and see him on the matter of a 
successor. I suggested, on behalf of the pair of us, two candidates 
for tliis great post to Mr. Lloyd George: Lord Derby and Winston 
Churchfll. He did not turn down either of them outright. He 

89 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA jvJiAN 


then turned to Mr. Bassou. Mr. Bassou’s suggestions of course 
coincided with mine. To me Lloyd George had made no comment 
on cither name. With Mr. Bassou as with me he passed over Lord 
Derby’s name in silence. Then he turned round sharply and said 
to Mr. Bassou, “Do you know ChurcliiU?” 

Mr. Bassou admitted that he had not the pleasure of Mr. 
Churchill’s personal acquaintance. 

“I know Churchill,” said Lloyd George with finality. 

Looking back, and with the knowledge of aU the great positions 
under the Crown which Sir Winston ChurcliiU has occupied with 
such lustre, I still think that it was a pity that Lloyd George did 
not accede to our joint suggestion. Had he had direct and recent 
Indian experience, his whole outlook at the time of the Indian 
Round Table Conference from 1930 onwards, and his speeches 
in the Parliamentary debates leading up to the passing of the 
Government of India Act in 1935, would, I am certain, have been 
different. And the effect of that changed outlook would have been 
felt throughout the whole later history of Anglo-Indian relations. 
I go further, I behevc that with the direct knowledge of India 
which he would have acquired as Viceroy, he might have found 
other and far less terrible means of bringing about the downfall of 
Hitler and the saving of Germany for Western civilization. 

Every time that I have discussed pohtical matters with Sir 
Winston, I have been impressed anew by the extraordinarily 
practical reaUsm of his outlook. He is never the slave of his past 
ideas, his desires or his dreams; he is their master. 

During the First World War, when so many British statesmen 
were anxious to save Turkey from the doom winch seemed 
bound to engulf her, I remember ChurcliiU telling me brusquely 
that Turkey would be the victor’s prize. Turkey, he said, was the 
sick man of Europe, dying and degenerate, whom it was no 
use trying to save. 

who in the Second World War and since has been a warmer 
admirer, a more staunch supporter and friend of modern Turkey 
than Winston ChurcliiU? He has come round to a firm beUef 
in the vitality and stubborn strength of the contemporary Turkish 
character, nurtured in the Anatolian Highlands, and to a genuine 
admiration for the vigour of Turkey’s revival under Kemal 
Ataturk — a revival like that of the phoenix out of the ashes of 

90 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (190O-1909) 

die Ottoman Empire, whose disasters were the result of the blind 
and foohsli policy of her leaders. 

So far as India is concerned, the evolution in Churchill’s out- 
look is even more startling. I remember his attitude at the time 
of the Round Table Conference, the whole tone in wliich he 
addressed us, and his determined opposition to the very idea of 
Dominion Status. Yet tins was the Churchill who in 1942 sent 
Sir Stafford Cripps to India with a directive which could only 
lead in the end to complete independence, and to the emergence 
of the Indian Republic. And when the severance was finally 
accomphshed, when the brightest jewel in the British Crown 
was no more, when the last British soldier and the last British 
administrator hadlcft Indian soil, Churchill’s acceptance of the fact 
of Indian independence was made sincerely and with good grace. 

Churchill, as leader of the Conservative Party, faced with 
equanimity the momentous sequence of events which brought 
about Indian independence, the partition of the subcontinent into 
two new and sovereign States of Bharat and Pakistan, and the 
division of the Indian Army. 

As I look back down the long vista of the years that I have 
known Sir Winston, I am sure that the greatest blessing that God 
has given him has been his health. He has a constitution of iron, 
and all his life he has taxed it to the uttermost. He has disregarded 
all the do’s and don’ts which doctors impose; he has worked 
unceasingly. He has played hard, he has excelled in countless 
activities from polo to painting, and have I ever seen him refuse 
any good dish put in front of him, or a Uqueur glass of brandy, or 
a cigar? And tliis gusto and tliis vitality have been sustained by 
his magnificent constitution. The young subaltern who came to 
look at my horses had it, and the veteran statesman, honoured 
and revered by the whole civilized world, has it. 

-k "k ic 'k ir 

The electoral change in England in that crucial year 1906 had 
its effect on India. While I was in England that summer my 
friends in India wrote and told me that at last the Government 
were beginning to reaUze that there was something called a 
Mushm problem in India, and that they could no longer dismiss 
it as an idle fabrication. 


91 



THE MEMOIRS OJf AOA ji.HAN 

Since 1857 3'nd the transference of authority in India from the 
East India Company to the Grown, the Mushms had, in a politi- 
cal sense, been more or less ignored by the British. Perhaps not 
imnaturally the new rulers of India turned away from those who, 
by rehgion and by language, were connected with the rulers who 
had been ousted. MusUms were not brought into the adminis- 
tration or into pohtics; few studied or read Enghsh. If the end of 
the Moghul Emperors was pitiable, its effects lingered on for two 
generations m the sense of isolation and powerlessness wliich 
enveloped the Muslims of India in their own land. The Hindu 
majority were in an advantageous position under their new rulers; 
and they made full use of it. The Mushms had been for long what 
the French call “quantite n^gUgeable”, but at long last wc were 
going to be heard. The Viceroy, Lord Minto, had agreed to 
receive a deputation from us and I was to lead that deputation. 

We were acutely aware tliat we had long been neglected, that 
to the Hindu majority — as represented by its leaders in the Con- 
gress Party — we seemed a tiresome splinter in the flesh of the 
body pohtic, and that though there was great talk of nationaHsm 
we were not ever considered in the aspirations that were being 
fostered, the plans that were being laid. They continued to send 
to the Viceroy’s Legislative Cotmcil third-rate yes-men instead 
of truly representative Muslims, with the result that our separate 
identity as a community and the status that would have apper- 
tained to it had been forgotten by the British. 

Now we decided that the time had come to make a stand for 
a change in attitude. If constitutional advancements were to be 
mooted, we must have our say in their disposition. Reform was in 
the air, but it must be understood — ^in the utterly different pohtical 
atmosphere of more than forty years later — that it was reform 
within extreipely hmited terms of reference. British supremacy in 
India, administrative and legislative, was to remain uninfringed, 
tmaltered. In the Morley-Minto reforms, as they came to be 
known, and in the Indian Councils Act of 1907 in which they were 
embodied, there was no liint of a process of evolution towards 
ultimate Indian self-govermnent, no hint of transference of power 
from British to Indian hands. John Motley himself said, “A fur 
coat may be all very well in Canada, but no use at all hi India” — 
the political and constitutional evolution which had been Canada’s 

03 



NINE CKOWDED YEARS (ipOO-ipOp) 

experience was thus by implication rejected for India (though not, 
of course, by India). AU that the Morley-Minto proposals were 
intended to achieve, and did achieve, was a modest devolution 
in communal and local matters and the admittance of Indians, on a 
rigidly restricted basis, to consultation— -though not to decision 
— about their own affairs. 

Within these limits, however, they were an advance; and from 
the Muslim point of view they were especially significant. Our 
experience from the time of the Cross-Lansdowne reforms in 
1892 onwards had pointed the way; there was no hope of a fair 
deal for us within the fold of the Congress Party or in alliance 
with it. Now in 1906 we boldly asked the Viceroy to look facts 
in the face; we asked that the Muslims of India should not be 
regarded as a mere minority, but as a nation within a nation whose 
rights and obhgations should be guaranteed by statute. History 
has amply demonstrated since then, after the First World War 
and again and again later, that the existence of minorities — of 
one nationally conscious community within another, numerically 
weaker perhaps but not less firmly aware of itself as a nation than 
the majority — ^is one of the major issues of our time. Ireland, 
Poland, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia — the world’s maps are plenti- 
fully dotted with these minority problems, with all their com- 
plexity and difficulty. 

For ourselves in 1906 we asked for the estabhshment of a 
principle, a principle which would have to be embodied in any 
legislation as a consequence of these proposals for reform. We asked 
for adequate and separate representation for MusHnis both on 
local bodies and on the legislative councils, we asked that this 
representation be secured by a separate communal franchise and 
electoral roll. In short, we Muslims should have the right of 
electing our own representatives on it. We conceded that in 
areas wherewe were in the majority.like the Punjab andwhatwas 
then the Province of Eastern Bengal, we would give a certain 
number of extra seats to the Hindus, in order to safeguard their 
interests, and in return we asked that in areas in which there was 
a big Hindu majority we Hkewise should be conceded a certain 
number of extra seats. 

Lord Minto listened with sympathy to our statement of our 
case. He assured us that the political rights and interests of the 

0 ? 



THE MEMOIRS AOA rvHAN 


Muslim community would, be safeguarded in any change in 
administration that might occur. Our principle was accepted. 
Most of our demands in detail were conceded, though not all. 
It would in my view have been better had there been provision 
for two Indian members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council — 
one Muslim and one Hindu — ^instead of the one finally provided 
for. B ut after all it was Jolin Motley himself who said to me when 
I raised this point, “You mustn t get too much power, you 
know.” 

It is perhaps unnecessary to stress the irony of history’s 
comment on that observation. But within their own time, the 
Morley-Minto reforms were a genuine step forward. We had had 
established a major poHtical principle; its application in practice 
was to be a permanent feature of all constitutional developments 
in India henceforward. It was not, however, conceded without 
opposition. And if in retrospect there is an element of irony about 
Lord Morley’s remark which I have just quoted, there is a much 
more freakishly ironic flavour about the name and personality 
of the chief Muslim opponent of the stand which we took. For 
Lord Mmto’s acceptance of our demands was the foundation of 
all future constitutional proposals made for India by successive 
British Governments, and its final, inevitable consequence was 
the partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan. 

\^o then was our doughtiest opponent in 1906? A distin- 
guished Mushm barrister in Bombay, with a large and prosperous 
practice, Mr. Mohammed Ali Jirmah. He and I first became 
acquainted when he, having been called to the English Bar, settled 
in Bombay and — entirely without private fortune and without 
influence — rapidly built up his successful practice there. We had 
always been on friendly terms, but at this juncture he came out 
in bitter hostility towards all that I and my friends had done and 
were trying to do. He was the only well-known Mushm to take 
up this attitude, but his opposition had nothing mealy-mouthed 
about it; he said that our principle of separate electorates was 
dividing the nation against itself, and for nearly a quarter of a 
century he remained our most inflexible critic and opponent. In 
a later chapter I shall discuss more fully the circumstances — most 
of all the stubborn folly and intransigence of the Hindu majority 
in Congress — ^which converted this stoutest champion of Indian 

94 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

unity into its most determined opponent; and I shall trace in 
detail the paths of destiny which brought him, as the unchallenged 
leader of eighty million Muslims, that victory — the creation of the 
separate and independent State of Pakistan — for which we at the 
beginning were working unconsciously and indirectly, and he at 
the end consciously and directly and with all the force of his will 
and intellect. For the moment I merely reflect upon the irony 
impheit in it alt. 

Our aclhevement in 1906 seemed important enough; and it 
was obvious to those of us most closely associated with it — especi- 
ally Nawab Mohsen-ul-MoLk and myself— that, since we had 
obtained separate electoral recognition, we must have the politi- 
cal organization to make that separate representation effective. 
The All-India MusHm League was therefore founded at a meet- 
ing at Dacca later that year at which, as it happened, I was unable 
to be present. I was however elected its first President, and as such 
I remained until 1912. 

***** 

All these events — our deputation to the Viceroy, his acceptance 
of our demands, the subsequent foundation of the All-Indian 
Muslim League, and my election as its President — marked for me 
the culmination of a period of concentrated political effort. The 
strain had shown itself physically, and during our visit to 
Simla to see the Viceroy I fainted. I needed physical recuperation 
and I thought that I would combine this with widening my 
experience and knowledge. I set out on a world tour in the 
company of a French friend of mine, Monsieur Ren^ Talomon, 
who subsequently became a professor of French literature in the 
United States, and who died recently. We headed East, going 
first to Malaya and Singapore, and then on to China. 

China’s condition at that time was saddening. In Pekin the 
aged Dowager-Empress dwelt in seclusion within the vast con- 
fines of the Summer Palace; beyond its walls her vast Empire 
was crumbling in confusion and decay. In towns along the sea- 
board and far up the great navigable rivers which were the 
arteries of China’s lifeblood, foreign — ^European — trading com- 
munities had estabhshed an elaborate system of Treaty Ports and 
Concessions. Here on the territory of a country which was in no 

95 



IHE MEMOIRS OE AGA jvj .AN 


sense a colony of any of the European nations involved it was 
astonishing, and disquieting, to see that the most arrogant and 
hidebound kind of colonialism prevailed. The foreign concessions 
in towns like Shanghai, Hankow, and others, were alien cities and 
strongholds of power, political and financial. It was indeed 
merely a matter of extra-territorial foreign administration within 
the various concessions and settlements; the power and prestige 
of the foreigner was so great, and the authority of the Manchu 
Government so feeble, that the real rulers of China in those days 
were the consuls of the European Powers, cliief among them the 
British Consul-General in Shanghai. In the disintegration from 
wliich China’s administration was suffering wealthy Cliinese 
brought their money and their investments into the foreign 
settlements for safety and protection — -just as today many 
Europeans send their capital to the United States and Canada. 

The atmosphere of colonialism was as nauseating as it was all- 
pervasive. In the P. & O. ship in wliich I travelled from Hong 
Kong to Shanghai, one of my fellow-passengers was the Imperial 
Viceroy of the province of Yunnan — a personage, one would 
have supposed, of some consequence in his own country. When 
we reached Shanghai I was genuinely astonished, and a good 
deal shocked, to see the way in wliich the officials of the so- 
called Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs — after all they were 
nominally the servants of the Chinese Government — treated this 
dignitary, compared with their attitude towards the British 
passengers, myself and even my Indian servants. For us there was 
every mark of consideration and courtesy. He was dealt with 
brusquely and rudely, ah his baggage was opened up, and the 
customs officials ruffled busily through his robes and his mandarin 
orders. It was a nastily enhghtening comparison which I have 
never forgotten. 

Within the foreign settlements the general attitude towards 
the Chinese was little short of outrageous. AH die better hotels 
refused entry to Chinese, except in wings specially set aside for 
them. It was the same in restaurants. From European clubs they 
were totally excluded. Even in shops a Chinese customer would 
have to stand aside and wait to be served when a European or an 
American came in after Iiim and demanded attention. We hear 
a great deal about the colour bar in South Africa today. In China 

q6 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (190O-I909) 

in the early years of tliis century the colour bar was rigidly im- 
posed — not least offensively in discrimination against officials of 
the very government whose guests, under international law, all 
foreigners were supposed to be. Is it any wonder that the Chinese 
intelhgentsia long retained bitter memories of this attitude? 

The old mandarin class, of course, did not travel and knew 
little of the world outside Cliina, but already, even in 1906, there 
was a number of Chinese students going to universities in the 
United States and returning home. Their bitterness of sentiment 
was probably sharper and deeper than the cool, self-isolating dis- 
dain wliich was the natural reaction of the mandarin class. 

In Shanghai, Talomon and I were entertained to dinner — 
Chinese style — by some wealthy Cliinese merchants to whom we 
had letters of introduction from a Chinese friend in Singapore. 

We had the usual chicken dishes and sometliing which they 
called tartar grilled meat, wliich was really a kebab similar to that 
which is eaten in Persia, Turkey, Egypt, and all the Middle 
Eastern countries, and even in the Caucasus. When we remarked 
that it was a well-known dish in so large a part of the world and 
a part with which I particularly was familiar, our hosts said, 
“Yes, it has been prepared for us by a Cliinese Muslim cook.” 
There followed the classical Chinese dishes, such as bamboo 
shoots and buried eggs. And then we were offered a dish which at 
first we thought was eel. 

Luckily — oh, how luckily! — ^Talomon said, “We know this 
very well.” 

Our host laughed in courteous deprecation of Talomon’s httle 
mistake. “Oh, no,” he said, “this is snake.” 

There is a limit, and for us this went beyond it. Under the 
cover of our napkins, and with what we hoped was the greatest 
care so that we should not be seen, we got rid of it. Long years 
later I remember reading a newspaper account of the effect of a 
similar dish on some foreigners at a Chinese official dinner. All 
were very fil and some died. 

Students of sociology may be interested in the existence in those 
days, both in Shanghai and Hong Kong, of what were called 
“welcome houses”, maintained by small groups of American 
women. There was not a hint of coarseness or vulgarity about 
these establishments: they were enveloped in an almost oppressive 

97 



THE MEMOIRS OP AOA k^xAN 

atmosphere of decorum. The first impression on any novice who 
walked into one of them for the first time was that he had entered 
an agreeable but fairly straitlaced social gathering. Only Euro- 
peans and Americans of impeccable social background were 
admitted — and of course not a Chinese. The women who ran 
them — many of whom were known to be well-to-do, several 
indeed ownhig racehorses in Shanghai — were regarded with a 
proper degree of respect. They resembled — shall I say? — the Greek 
hetaera rather than the fashionable lady of the European demi- 
monde of that time. Most of the women were of Scandinavian 
origin and had come, I beheve, from the vicinity of Minnesota 
where there is a considerable degree of Scandinavian settle- 
ment. The current theory in the Far East was that they came 
thither with one set purpose; to accumulate a dowry wliich their 
famihes could not afford to give them, and that having in a few 
years piled up quite sizeable fortunes, home they went to be 
absorbed into a respectable and blameless family life. 

Talomon and I went on to Japan. Since the world picture has 
changed so irrevocably in the years since then, it may perhaps be 
necessary to recall two important facts in connection with Japan 
in 1906: first that Britain and Japan were alHes, under the terms of 
an agreement signed early in the century, and second that Japan 
had just emerged victorious from the Russo-Japanese War, the 
first in modem times in which an Asiatic Power had taken on and 
soundly defeated a European Great Power in a combat on modern 
terms and with modern arms and equipment. The Foreign 
Mhiister, Count Hayashi, who had been Ambassador in London 
at the time of the signature of the Treaty of Anglo-Japanese alli- 
ance, gave a big luncheon in my honour. During the course of the 
meal he and I discussed the Anglo-Japanese alliance; and Count 
Hayaslii, whom I had known quite well in London, assured me 
that influential military circles in Japan had been opposed to the 
idea of an alhance with Britain and had advocated an alliance with 
Russia. Simultaneous negotiations had in fact been conducted, 
and the Russian plan only failed because Russia’s acceptance of the 
terms proposed arrived after the Treaty with Britain had been 
initialled. It is interesting and aHtde awe-inspiring to speculate on 
how different the history of our century would have been had 
the Tsar s Government moved more speedily. There would 

08 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (ipOO-IpOp) 

have teen no Russo-Japanese War to weaken — as it in fact did 
irreparably — the Tsarist regime; might not Lenin have remained 
an obscure agitator in permanent exile? 

Among Japanese leaders whom I met was Field-Marshal 
Oyama. I remember being struck by his modesty of demeanour, 
absence of self-satisfaction, and lack of any display of power, 
and I remember thinking — for, after all, he was one of the men 
who had just led their country to victory in the war against 
Russia — that liis bearing was very different from that wliich a 
European or American military leader would have adopted in a 
like situation. Friends told me that the bearing of Admiral Togo, 
the victorious commander in the great naval battle of Tsushima, 
was very similar to that of the Field-Marshal. 

I was fortunate enough to be granted an audience with the old 
Emperor, the great Mikado of Japan’s revolution, the Emperor 
during whose reign Japan had stepped at one bound from a 
medieval way of life to being a modern industrial and military 
power able to challenge the West on its own terms. As a boy 
before the Revolution, although he was the Mikado, he had been 
kept in Kyoto by the Shogun in obscurity and sometliing near 
poverty, rationed daily to a small issue of rice by those who were 
supposed to be his servants. He threw off this overweening 
tyranny — with tremendous results. What surprised me was that 
he was a tall, powerful, robust man; he would have been thought 
a big man anywhere, but in Tokyo his size seemed much more 
conspicuous. My audience with him was a noisy affair. He talked 
at the top of his powerful voice, shouting questions at me, and 
shoutingback his answering comments. When he wasn’t shouting 
he was uttering loud, explosive exclamations. The courtier who 
acted as interpreter told me afterwards that these exclamations in- 
dicated that the Emperor approved of my answers to his questions. 

We took a Japanese boat across the Pacific and called at 
Honolulu. People who know Honolulu nowadays can have no 
idea of what it was like then — ^its charm and its quiet air of abso- 
lute peace and happiness. There were no trans-Pacific clippers 
bringing holiday-makers overnight from the United States. It had 
not been discovered and exploited by the cinema; its romance 
was genuine and not canned. There was no tourist industry, and 
there was no vast naval and air base. 

00 



THE MEMOIRS Ox AGA jxHAN 

All the young women of the island went about garlanded, and 
whenever we were introduced to any of them they took off their 
garlands— so gay and beautiful were their smiles, so graceful and 
delicate the movements and touch of their hands — and put them 
round our necks. Talomon and I were stUl young and impres- 
sionable; we were both pleased and gratified by this courteous 
custom. 

On we went towards the United States, crossed the Inter- 
national Date Line and picked up a whole extra day on the way, 
and reached San Francisco in December 1906, in the aftermath 
of the earthquake. The whole city was one vast ruin. People talk 
of the material havoc of war in France and in Germany, and I 
myself have seen, at the conclusion of two World Wars, many 
cities and towns in ruins, but San Francisco in 1906 exceeded 
anything I have seen. It was difficult to find a shop open, but we 
chanced on a drug store; it was a cinious experience— amid all 
this devastation — to be served with ice cream and cold drinks in 
what, elsewhere in the world, we call a chemist’s shop. There 
were one or two hotels and restaurants open, but in general life 
and work were only just beginning again in that terrible and 
pitiable havoc. 

From Cahfornia we crossed the continent by train, stopping off 
from time to time and staying a day or two in various cities on 
the way. In Chicago we were taken on a conducted tour of the 
stockyards and slaughter houses. Not long before tliis, Upton 
Sinclair’s propagandist novel about the slaughter houses had been 
pubhshed and had caused a considerable sensation. I must say the 
conditions in the slaughter houses which I was shown bore no 
similarity to the lurid horrors described in the novel. 

Perhaps I ought to point out that such knowledge of America 
as I then possessed was not derived from novels. I had read Lord 
Bryce’s classic work on the American Constitution, I knew the 
writings of authors as diverse as Walt Whitman, Hawthorne, 
Thoreau, Henry, WiUiam James, and Mark Twain (whom, as I 
have recorded, I had met in Bombay). I had many American 
friends and acquaintances in Europe. Like all visitors to the 
United States I suppose I had my preconceived notions, but they 
were founded on some real, if academic, knowledge of the struc- 
ture of American social, economic, and pohtical Hfe. 

TOO 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

Just after the New Year of 1907 we reached New York. It 
was the height of the city’s winter season. Talomon and I went to 
stay at the St. Regis; fifty years later it was the habit of my 
younger son, Sadruddin, to stay there when he was a Harvard 
undergraduate, to stay there whenever he was in New York. 

From all that my friends tell me, there is no comparison be- 
tween the social hfe of New York as it was in those days and the 
swift swirling existence of the city today. Of course I had many 
introductions, largely from my American friends in Europe, and 
I was immediately and generously entertained. Americans are 
the most hospitable people in the world, and they receive 
foreigners with so much kindness, their welcome is so open and 
so good-hearted that anyone who has once been to the United 
States never forgets liis time there. I seemed to be invited out to 
luncheon and dinner every day, and night after night I was some- 
one’s guest at the opera. The Metropolitan Opera House in those 
days was hke a superb exhibition of jewellery and fashion. I 
knew the opera in Paris and London, but for elegance and opu- 
lence among the audience neither was comparable with New 
York’s MetropoUtan in the early years of this century. 

One New Yorker of some consequence to whom I had an 
introduction was the then District Attorney, Mr. Jerome, Lady 
Randolph Churchill’s cousin. He was kind enough to arrange for 
me a special pass wliich enabled me to watch one of the most 
interesting and sensational causes celebres of the time. This was 
the trial of Harry K. Thaw, accused of the murder of Stanford 
White, the arclritect and designer of skyscrapers. 

I was especially interested in this melodramatic and colourful 
alFair, for two years previously I had met Thaw and the former 
Evelyn Nesbit together in Paris. Thaw, whose fortune was de- 
rived from radroads, cut something of a figure in international 
society at that time. He had, however, an uncontrollable temper 
and was an extremely jealous and possessive individual. I met them 
once at dinner and later on that evening I was talking pleasantly 
and hght-heartedly with the young woman, who was extremely 
beautiful and attractive. Thaw in the backgromid looked grim 
and preoccupied, and a friend who was in the party quietly 
warned me that there was a dangerous streak m Thaw. 

At his trial Thaw was found guilty but insane and thus escaped 

TOT 



THE MEMOIRS Of AGA x^ftAN 

execution. I saw how well-founded had been my friend’s warn- 
ing. It seemed that after they returned to America Mrs. Thaw 
confessed to her husband that before her marriage she had been 
taken to Iiis apartment by Stanford White, given drugged cham- 
pagne, and seduced. This confession aroused Thaw to maniacal 
je^ousy, all the more ferocious because he suspected (ground- 
lessly) that White was still pursuing his wife. In the ballroom of 
Madison Square Roof Garden White was waltzing with a new 
girl friend when Harry Thaw strode across the floor and fired six 
shots into his body. 

There was a grim but bewildering fascination about the trial. 
I had grown up accustomed to British methods in a court of 
justice; the whole system of questioning and cross-examination 
and all the rules of evidence in an American court were startUngly 
different. It took me a little time to realize that, although the 
basis of the criminal law is the same in the United States as in 
England, it has developed along different lines since the eighteenth 
century and the American legal profession has evolved its own 
technique and traditions. 

Although by 1907 the motor-car was coming into its own, and 
was no longer the despised and smelly toy it had been a decade 
earlier, New York was still a city of fine carriages and of glossy 
and weU-groomed horses, and the taxi had not yet replaced the 
elegant hansom-cab. How affable and good tempered American 
people of aU classes were in those days. The clerks, the assistants 
in the shops and stores all seemed friendly and alert, never giving 
one those sour, disapproving looks that one got m shops in 
Europe. The poHcemen too on the beat, the New York cops, 
were genial and talkative when you asked them the way, not 
curt like the Paris gendarme or aloof and majestic like the old- 
fashioned London bobby. 

I reahze that I was extremely fortunate both in the time of 
this my single visit to New York, and in the social world— now 
almost entirely vanished — to which I had the entree. I met the 
great hostesses and leaders of Society of those days — Mrs. Corne- 
lius Vanderbilt, Mrs. J. J. Astor, Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mrs. 
Pliipps, Mrs. Ogden Mills, and others. How kind and hospitable 
they were, how stately were the parties and the dances they gave 
—more than one, I may add, in my honour. 

TO'> 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I9O9) 

I spent a good deal of time in the museums, as I always do in 
any city that I visit for the first time. Many of the wealthier pri- 
vate houses, of course, were museums and art galleries in their own 
right. It was curious, I remember remarking, that although in 
Europe the heyday of the French impressionists had dawned and 
connoisseurs were already beginning to collect their work, 
American taste remained still classical and traditional, and the 
walls of many of the big houses that I visited were hung with 
examples of EngHsh, Italian, German, Flemish, and Dutch paint- 
ing of many epochs. 

I was made an honorary member of the Union Club. I dis- 
covered the joys of native American cooking; surely canvasback 
duck and terrapin are two of the best dishes in the world. I went 
to the theatre a great deal, and here “modernism” — as it was then 
understood — ^had certwily hit New York; Ibsen was all the rage, 
and several of his plays were being performed at theatres around 
the town. But it was also, of course, the day of the musical 
comedy, before it had been displaced by other noisier, more 
synthetic forms of amusement. It was a time of great expansion 
and prosperity for New York and for America generally, an 
outward and visible sign of which was the rising skyline of New 
York. We talked about skyscrapers then, but they were modest 
little affairs of twenty or thirty floors — stiU, they seemed to us 
gigantic. 

Altogether I had a wonderful time in New York. I have never 
forgotten it. I only wish that I had been able to go back again. 
That this has never proved possible has been my misfortune and, 
I may say, a cause of great and lasting regret. 

***** 

My tour had set me up in health and in spirits. 1907 saw the 
Morley-Minto constitutional reforms in India turned from tenta- 
tive proposals, whose shape and pattern we had been able effec- 
tively to influence, into law. John Morley, with his liberal 
background and outlook, of the purest theoretical and academic 
kind, was extremely reluctant to accept the principle of separate 
electoral representation for the Muslims. It went against the grain 
of his character. However, the Viceroy, Lord Minto, had given, his 
undertaking and Morley — however scrupulous his theoretical 



THE MEMOIRS Ot' AGA jvhAN 


objections — could not be permitted to go back on it. For Syed 
Amir Ali and myself, 1907 was a period of what I can best des- 
cribe as guerrilla warfare, whose aim was to keep Morley up to 
the mark. We won in the end, but it was hard going. 

In my personal life I was able to effect radical and permanent 
adjustments. Any hope of reconcihation with my wife, Shahzadi 
Begum, had unhappily but finally receded; we agreed to a deed of 
separation and, not long afterwards, to a divorce under MusHm 
law. Wlrile, of course, I remained responsible for her maintenance 
until her death, she passed completely out of my life and we never 
met again. 

From 1907 onwards I visited Europe every year. My life moved 
in an agreeable and spacious round. As a shy, raw young man on 
my first visit to Europe in 1898 I had lost my heart to the French 
Riviera. Now in my maturity my affection for it had deepened 
and ripened, and I found myself returning to it again and again. 
In 1908 this affection found a personal focus. I made the acquaint- 
ance of MUe. Theresa Magliano, one of the most promising 
young dancers of the Ballet Opera of Monte Carlo, a ballerina 
who — ^in the opinion of the teachers of both the Paris Opera and 
of La Scala in Milan — ^was assured of a brUhant future in her 
profession. She was then just nineteen. We fell deeply in love. 
In the spring of that year she accompanied me to Egypt and we 
were married in Cairo in accordance with Mushm law. 

My new marriage brought me spiritual and mental satisfaction 
and enrichment. It also opened for me a path into a new and 
absorbing world. My young wife’s nature was intensely aestlretic. 
She was a truly creative artist. Although inevitably she gave up 
the stage after our marriage, she turned to a serious study first 
of painting and later of sculpture. It was here that her talents 
flowered. She took the professional name of Yla. Her work was 
exhibited on the Continent and in England. 

Before she died in 1926, at the tragically early age of thirty- 
seven, my wife had attained recognition as a sculptor of merit 
and high artistic capacity. She had been asked to design a number 
of War Memorials in England and France, and also a number of 
those monuments to Unknown Soldiers which so poignantly 
expressed the emotions of the interwar years. The last commis- 
sion which she was offered gave her especial satisfaction; it was 

104 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-1909) 

from the city of Vienna, obtained in open competition with a 
strong candidature of more than a hundred, to design a fountain 
in which statuary was an important part of the decorative scheme. 

My wife’s aesthetic interests and tastes encouraged me to ex- 
plore the world of art for myself. 

My own first loves in the world of aesthetic experience were 
always music and the ballet. My reactions to music and to 
dancing have been emotional and sensuous. I have a vivid recol- 
lection of the first time I ever heard a waltz played and watched it 
danced. I was a boy of thirteen or fourteen at the time. The 
scene was a ball at Government House in Poona. I daresay the 
orchestra was worse than mediocre; I doubt if the dancers were 
particularly expert. I had no standards to judge by. My taste was 
utterly unformed. But there in the bright-Ht baUroom the dancers 
swirled before me; it was as if the figures on some beautifully 
carved frieze had come suddenly to warm and glowuig hfe; 
the Hit and sway of the music swept into my heart IHte a flooding 
tide of joy. The fights that shone in that baUroom have been 
extinguished sixty years and more, and the dancers are all gone, 
but the memory of the music and movement has never faded. 

I had discovered a source of happiness which I was never to 
lose. As life has gone on I have become more and more interested 
and I have foimd more and more refireshment and solace in music, 
in the ballet, the opera, and the theatre. These for me have 
ranked first among the arts. Pictures I have liked, but in a com- 
paratively restricted field. Like many others of my generation I 
was brought up on the work of the great masters of the Italian, 
to a lesser extent the Dutch and British schools; but dutifully 
though I went around the art galleries they never stirred me. It 
was when I first saw Turner’s work that I saw what painting really 
could mean. Then about 1904 I saw my first French impres- 
sionists; here for me was an extension and development of the 
same satisfaction that Turner gave me — their early landscapes, 
not their portraits. Turner, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, those are 
my painters. In sculpture and in furniture my taste is sheerly 
Egyptian — the great statuaries of ancient Egypt, the simple, 
pure, formal yet flowing fines of the ordinary day-to-day furni- 
ture that you see exhibited in the Cairo Museum, those are 
enough for me. EngHsh and French furniture, even of the “great” 

105 



THE MEMOIRS OE AGA KHAN 

periods, leaves me cold. I care little for jewellery or work in 
precious metals, except silver; beautiful silver has always had a 
considerable attraction for me. 

But in those realms of aesthetic experience that I do care about, 
much have I travelled and much have I profoundly enjoyed. I 
am proud to recall that I have counted among my personal 
friends many of the great artists of this century. I knew Stravinsky 
well, and my knowledge of much of his early work was close and 
intimate. In his association with Diaglulev he wrote, as every- 
one knows, the music for some of the finest ballets ever created by 
that master-impresario; I heard much of that music before it was 
orchestrated. 

I knew both Massenet and Puccini quite well. I tloink I must 
have been one of the first of his friends to notice a troublesome 
and increasing hoarseness in Puccini’s voice, a hoarseness which 
was the first indication of the malady which ultimately killed liim. 
As tactfully as I could I suggested to him that, instead of perpetu- 
ally sucking cough-lozenges, he ought to go and see a doctor. 
Massenet was another friend of mine, and we often dined to- 
gether at the Hdtel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Once when he was, 
as I had been given to understand, laid low with bronchitis, I 
drove over from Cannes to see him at the Hotel de Paris. I was 
shown up immediately to his sitting-room. There he was, stark 
naked in a marble bath, with a blazing fire in the room next door. 
He was busily dictating music to a woman secretary. Neither he 
nor she seemed at aU discomposed; I was, I must confess, some- 
what taken aback. Massenet, however, was voluble in his explana- 
tion. He had had a rush of creative ideas which had to be put 
down on paper. Since I had come all the way from Cannes to 
call on him, would it not have been discourteous to refuse to 
see me? 

“Please sit down,” he said, “Imustjust finish tliis piece of work,” 

For nearly an hour he sat on in the bath, turning the hot tap 
on from time to time, repeating and tr^^ing out bars and single 
notes of music, and making his secretary sing them back to him, 
so that it began to sound as if he were giving her a singing lesson. 
At last the flow of inspiration ceased, the young woman shut her 
notebook and hurried away, and only then did the old gentle- 
man — ^he was after all about seventy — reahze that he was sitting 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

there naked and that the water had grown chilly. He jumped* feut 
of the bath, ran into his bedroom, put on a bathrobe, and came 
back to bid me a friendly and courteous good-bye. 

I have known many actors and singers: Madame Bartet of the 
Comedie Fran^aise; Jean de Reszkc, the great tenor and teacher 
of a new generation of singers; Caruso, whose magnificent voice 
seemed hterally to shake Covent Garden to its foundations when 
he soared up to his highest notes — I think that he was, though 
perhaps not as pure an artist as Tomagno, without doubt the 
greatest tenor of my time. I remember Melba in her magnificent 
prime; it was told of her that when she first presented herself at 
the Opera in Paris the then director, though he recognized the 
potentialities of her voice, said that her Austrahan accent was so 
formidable that he would be able to do nothing with her. Like 
many other great singers Melba was a hearty eater; she Hked a 
good, rich supper after the opera, and to top it off she had a habit 
of ordering ice cream, a fresh peach, strawberries and cream, and 
consuming the lot together. Escoffier, the famous restaurateur 
heard about this habit, made an established dish of it, and named 
it in her honour. So was born the now universally known P6che 
Melba. 

In England I knew well many of the most famous figures of the 
stage, from Sir Henry Irving (whom I often visited in his dressing- 
room at the Lyceum Theatre) to the George Alexanders, the 
Trees, Sir Seymour Hicks, and his wife EUahne Terriss, and many, 
many others. 

I made the acquaintance of Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson 
through a friend of mine, a fellow member of the Marlborough, 
Douglas Ainsley. Ainsley himself was a man of originaUty of 
character and some talent; formerly a member of the diplomatic 
service, he estabhshed in his own person a kind of unolFicial liaison 
between the world of society and the world of the stage. Forbes- 
Robertson suggested that I should write an Oriental tragedy for 
him on an historical theme, leaving it to me to choose my subject 
out of the great mass of Islamic lore and legend. I chose the sad 
and stirring story of the murder of the Prophet’s grandson, my 
ancestor, Hussein, at Kerbela, and made a beginning with it. One 
day in the summer of 1904 at Douglas Ainsley’s house I read 
Forbes-Robertson what I had written; I don’t think he liked it 

107 



THE MEMOIRS Ur AUA r>.riAN 

very much. Thenceforward I abandoned any idea of writing 
dramatic poetry. 

To return to composers — when I first arrived m Europe the 
great controversy about Wagner was still in full swing. But it 
was of course as all musical appreciation was in those days, 
in every Western European country except Italy, restricted to 
comparatively few. One of the great changes that I have seen in 
my lifetime has been the vast extension of musical understanding, 
taste, and appreciation through all sections of society. The old, 
snobbish glamour may have departed; but not only in England, 
but in France and Switzerland too, the breakdown of class dis- 
tinction has, m my ophiion, done a great deal of good. It is 
especially noticeable over the ballet; and here I may claim that I 
have watched, from very close quarters, an immense revolution 
in taste through from its beginnings. 

A little earher I referred, in passing, to Diaghdev. He it was who 
was the creator and mspirer of this revolution. As Caesar in 
Britain, so the Russian, Diaghilev, in pre-war Western Europe — 
he came, he saw, he conquered. He himself maintained that he 
would never have had a chance to demonstrate his originality or 
exert his influence as he did in Western Europe had he remained 
in Russia, where — ^although it was the home of the ballet in a 
certain sense — ^the classical mould was firmly fixed, and there was 
no opportunity for that creative fire which, once he was abroad, 
Diaghilev set burning so furiously. 

From the first I was one of Diaghilev’s enthusiastic and im- 
wavering supporters, and so I remained till his untimely death. I 
doubt if the magnitude of Diagliilev’s achievement is generally 
reahzed today. A new generation takes it all for granted. Ballet as 
it was understood and practised in Western Europe, before he 
came on the scene, was a sterile and virtually static minor art- 
form, from wliich real vitality and excitement — as distinct from 
mere repetitive prettmess — ^seemed to have ebbed away. Then in 
1909 and 1910 Diaghilev burst like a bomb on the aesthetic 
consciousness of Europe. His dynamic influence was not con- 
fined to the ballet; it spilled over into all the aUied arts and 
revolutionized their fundamental ideas, creative and critical. On 
the concepts of the unitmg of music and motion, and of the repre- 
sentation of abstract ideas and ideals through movement as much 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (ipOO-IpOp) 

as through music, Diaghilcv’s influence was tremendous and 
lasting. This obviously was the core of his unique achievement; 
but what would stage decor, costume design, feminine fashion, 
furnislhngs, and interior decorations have been in the first half 
of this century without Diaghilev? His impact on the major 
plastic arts of sculpture and painting was no less revolutionary. 
Yet his wonderful, unique quaUty was one of indirect creative- 
ness. It is possible to argue that he himself in fact never created 
anything, but the truth is that the creative work of everyone who 
collaborated with him was, profoundly and really, his creation 
too. How many artists did what the world now recognize to be 
their best work for him and with him? Not only dancers like 
Karsavina, Nijinsky, Lifar, and Massine, but a painter Hke Bakst, 
a musician like Stravinsky. He was an impresario of genius, and 
he was something more. He so infused and inspired others that, 
working for him, they were better and bigger than they ever 
could have been without him, and than they ever were after their 
association with him ended. Nijinsky was the supreme and tragic 
example of this mysterious power which he exerted, of genius 
evoking genius. But his influence was no less important on many 
others, over whom his hold was not so obviously hypnotic. 
Imposing his strong, original taste on a band of talented artists, 
and extracting from them their best and most original work, he 
imposed that taste on Europe — ^with unforgettable, immeasur- 
able effect. 

I often used to be present at his conferences with all his leading 
associates — “heads of departments” as he called them: Stravinsky, 
Bakst, Nijinsky, Karsavina, his ballet-master, his choreographer 
in chief, a young poet perhaps, a venerable and venerated artist 
Hke Rodin. A conference was like a council of war. Each would 
pour out his ideas into a common pool, but Diaghilev — have no 
doubt of it — ^was the supreme commander, he imposed a unity of 
form and aesthetic conception, he turned a mass of brilHant pro- 
jects into an ordered and coherent work of art. The clash of ideas 
was subdued and hammered into shape, and the final result, far 
more often than not, was a masterpiece. 

The practical foundation, on which this exuberance of talent 
was based, seemed at first sight fragile in the extreme. Diaghilev 
was always in debt; he never— apparently— had a penny in hand. 

109 



THE MEMOIRS Or AGA r^iiAN 


His creative imagination — and liis own faith in it — outsoared 
these (as it seemed to him) minor considerations. He knew that he 
was creating a masterpiece, a series of masterpieces, he trusted 
imphcitly that his audiences would recognize the value of his 
work. He possessed that faith which moves mountains — and 
mountains of difficulty dissolved as he went along. Whenever the 
financial situation looked most desperate, some new wealthy 
patron, some Maecenas would turn up; the most immediate and 
pressing difficulties would be smoothed away; and he would 
sweep in confidence to his next triumph. On the stage, too, his 
capacity for improvisation, and his total reHance on it, were all- 
pervasive. Every new production until the last minute bore the 
appearance of total chaos, and somehow by some magic of his 
own, between the final rehearsal and the first night, when every- 
one else around him was despairing and on the edge of nervous 
collapse, Diaghilev would induce order out of the hurly-burly; 
and another thunderously acclaimed success would be added to 
the lengthening roll. Night after night the “house full” board 
would go out in front of the theatre. The whole season would 
be triumphant. At its close, off Diaglulev and the company would 
go to Paris and to London, to the same acclamation. Then on to 
other capitals and provincial centres, with the same story of 
success, until the money ran out. 

He was indeed unique, but the revolution in art which his 
genius precipitated has continued to run its course since his death. 
The revitahzed and flourishing art of the ballet all over the world 
— in Paris, London, and the United States — is the beautiful and 
fruitful tree whose seeds this strange, turbulent, and brifliant man 
so lavishly sowed. It is a profound cause of satisfaction to those 
who, like myself, saw his work at close quarters and almost from 
its inception, to know that this gteat aesthetic revolution — as 
fundamental and as far-reaching as that which Wagner brought 
about in the world of music — ^was the work of a genius whom we 
were privileged to know as a friend. 

Diaghilev and the ballet were the centre of that fasemating 
world of highly sophisticated, highly cultivated creative work and 
critical appreciation in which, during those years immediately 
before the First World War, I lived so full and so zestful a Ufe. 
Time, chance, war, economic and social change have wreaked 

TTn 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-X909) 

havoc with the rich fabric and pattern of a civilization and a way 
of hfe which then seemed indestructible. However, if much is lost, 
much has been gained in those magnificent and widespread effects 
of the revolution in all artistic matters acliieved by Diaghilev. 
While the upper classes have lost, the masses have gained. The 
diffusion of culture is not just a text-book phrase nowadays; it is 
a reality. 

When I think of the theatres and opera houses, the concert halls 
and art galleries of Western Europe today, and of the people of 
all social classes (and not just a wealthy and leisured few) who 
throng them, whose pleasure and mental and spiritual enrichment 
are so obvious; when I think of how real and eager understanding 
and appreciation of the arts have extended in recent decades to 
every level of society — then I see far more reason to rejoice than 
to lament. There are some, however, who camiot share ray 
optimism. The sadness of one facet of the years of transition is for 
me summed up and symbohzed in an encounter which I had in the 
theatre in Zurich, in the middle of the Second World War, with 
Richard Strauss. I had known him well at the height of his inter- 
national fame. Around us there was a continent, a world, locked 
in relentless conflict, a nightmare projection into grim reality of 
all Wagner’s most terrible imaginings and forebodings. Strauss 
was an old, heartbroken man. He saw me, flung up both liis arms 
in a sad, despairing gesture, rolled liis eyes upward and muttered 
some incoherent phrase in which I could just catch the word 
“God”, and stumbled forlornly away. 

***** 

From 1907 onwards imtil the outbreak of war I was in Europe 
for some part of every year. Movement from country to country, 
from continent to continent, though more leisurely than it is 
today, was also a great deal easier and freer; civilization had not 
learned all the tortuous refinements of passports and visas, of 
exchange controls and security regulations. 

The numbers of Americans who were coming to Europe were 
increasing year by year; many of them were affluent; many were 
people of cultivated and sophisticated tastes; some stayed per- 
manently, some came back and forth, some maintained large- 
scale establishments on the Riviera or elsewhere. Many of them 

B TTT 



THE MEMOIHS Oj.' AGA i^HAN 


were “characters” in their own right — the remarkable James 
■Gordon Beimett, for example, the famous proprietor of the Neiu 
York Herald who had a villa at BeauHeu-sur-Mer. He was then an 
old man, and he looked his age. He was apt to be short-tempered 
and peppery, but he had a warm kind heart. The hospitality 
winch he and his delightful wife most liked to dispense was 
breakfast, a big and elaborate meal with every kind of char- 
acteristic American dish. I recall that during the First World War 
he developed the strongest antipathy to bad news of any kind. 
If his attention were drawn to any tactical or strategic reverse 
suffered by the Western Allies, his temper became terrible, the 
unhappy bringer of bad tidings was so abused and berated that it 
was difficult not to beheve that he was not actually responsible for 
the reverse which he had been so rash as to mention. 

Odrers whose acquaintance and friendsliip I made at tliis time 
included Mr. Harjes, of Morgan’s Bank, a staunch supporter of 
the Allied cause from the day war broke out, and his wife^ — one of 
the world’s most beautiful women, a queenly, glorious, magnifi- 
cent woman; Mr. Ralph Curtis — a hvely amusing conversation- 
alist — and his wife; Mr. James H. Hyde and his wife; Mr. and 
Mrs. Bernard Berenson, and Walter Berry, who had been a judge 
of the mixed courts in Cairo, and was a lifelong friend of Edith 
Wharton, the noveHst-historian of old New York. 

Bernard Berenson took considerable pride in the care and 
precision with which he pronounced the Enghsh language. His 
verbal armour, however, had one curious chink in it; he pro- 
nounced the simple word “corkscrew” as if it had a tlhrd syllable 
in it — “corkerscrew”. Some of his friends who knew of this little 
vagary, having got him off his guard, miscliievously put him to 
the test one April Fool’s Day. To everyone’s deUght out popped 
“corkerscrew”; and for years afterwards if he dared to take up a 
stand on correct pronunciation, he would be vociferously re- 
minded of that intrusive syllable. 

Ralph Curtis had an addiction to puns; years before I knew him 
he happened to be in Bombay when Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt (the 
father of Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough, later Madame 
Balsan) arrived in his yacht. Lord Harris, the then Governor, held 
the erroneous opinion, frequently held by Englishmen, that 
-American society is built on money. Aware that the Vanderbilts 

TT"* 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (ipOO-ipop) 

were very rich he condescendingly asked Ralph Curtis if he knew 
Mr. Vanderbilt, clearly implying that it would be quite an honour 
if he did. 

“I never knew the Vanderbilts/' said Ralph Curtis, demurely, 
“for when I lived in New York they were still Vanderbuildmg.” 

At James Hyde’s house I met several times Monsieur Hanotaux 
the famous historian, member of the Academic Fran^aise, and 
statesman, who had been France’s Foreign Minister from 1894 to 
1898. He took a fancy to me and often we fomid ourselves discus- 
sing poHtics. I remember that he afErmed with great earnestness 
that if the Meline Cabinet of 1898, of which he had been a 
member, had not fallen, and if the coahtion of parties that had put 
Meline in office had maintained their support of him instead of 
turning to back Delcasse, it might have proved possible to achieve 
a fair and friendly solution of the problem of Alsace-Lorraine, 
which would have been honourable and satisfying to both France 
and Germany. If Hanotaux’s assertion was right, here was another 
of those missed chances in diplomacy, another wrong turning, 
where if the right decision had been taken, the First World War 
need never have happened. 

Walter Berry brought me into acquaintancesliip with Mrs. 
Edith Wharton and with Marcel Proust. Walter Berry, a bachelor 
and an agreeable and charming conversationalist, had somehow or 
other achieved among the women members of the little circle 
in which he and I then moved, the reputation of being the greatest 
marital submarine torpedo that had ever existed. The ladies 
averred that he told each of them separately that she was far too 
good for her husband; he was a distinguished man, a famous 
lawyer — ^what could they do but believe Ihna? And every time 
there was another marriage torpedoed. It was the kind of joke 
which a small, sophisticated society can get hold of, work almost 
to death, and never let go. Walter Berry had one remarkable 
claim to fame. He was one of the few people in the world who 
could at any time ask Proust to dinner and always be sure of an 
acceptance. Oddly enough I never met Proust at the Ritz, where 
he used to go a great deal, but I did meet him several times at 
diimer at Walter Berry’s. 

What I remember most about Proust were his silences. I recall 
only one remark of his. On one evening a Mademoiselle Atoucha, 

II? 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA ivhAN 

an Argentine lady, who was affianced to a French Marquess, was 
Berry’s third guest. Proust surveyed her, observed that she looked 
Hke Cleopatra, and said nothing else for the rest of the dinner. On 
this, as on other occasions, Berry and I did our best to sustain the 
conversation, and the great novelist sat silently watching and 
listening to us; it was a slightly disconcerting experience. 

***** 

This was the society, these were some of the friends of my 
leisure in these happy and agreeable years. Work of course con- 
tinued unabated. I spent a considerable part of each year in India, 
concerned not only with my duties towards my followers, but 
with the interests and the responsibiHties which I had acquired in 
Indian politics. These were the years in which the Morley-Minto 
reforms were being put into practice. It was proved that the 
principle of separate electoral representation for Muslims, wliich 
we had fought so hard to have estabhshed, was sound and work- 
able as well as dieoretically just. Muslim political consciousness, 
under the leadership of men like Nawab Ali Chowdry and the 
Nawab of Dacca in Bengal, and of Sir Muhammad Shafi and 
Sir Sulfiqar Ali Khan in the Punjab, matured and strengthened 
steadily. 

I myself was devoting a good deal of time, energy, and interest 
to the affairs of Aligarh. I suppose that I was a sort of one-man 
“ginger group” on behalf of the project of converting AUgarh 
into a great Muslim university. Steadily during these years we 
aroused interest in and extended support for our project. Of 
course it provoked opposition too from that powerful British 
element whose argument was that a Muslim university would be 
undesirable and that its tendencies and teachings would be 
narrowly sectarian and particularist. I strove hard to counter these 
criticisms, making it a cardinal point of all my appeals for help, 
all my speeches and articles, that the sons of Ahgarh University 
would go forth “through the lengdi and breadth of the land to 
preach the gospel of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration, and 
of pure morality”. 

I was not without support in high places. To Lord Minto there 
succeeded as Viceroy Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, a statesman and 
diplomat with a wide and long experience of life with and among 

114 



NINE CROWDED YEARS (19OO-I909) 

Muslim people in Iran and throughout the near East. As the 
member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council responsible for 
education there was a brilliant and devoted administrator, Sir 
Harcourt Butler, uncle of Mr, R. A. Butler, Chancellor of the 
Exchequer in Sir Winston Churchill’s Government of 1951 
onwards, and the minister responsible for Britain’s great Educa- 
tion Act of 1944. Interest in education is a tradition in the Butler 
family. Both Lord Hardingc and Sir Harcourt understood our 
Muslim position and were aware of the fundamental differences 
in the social, cultural, and spiritual background of MusHin and 
Hindu. For myself, I tried again and again to make it clear that I 
regarded Muslim educational advancement not as an end in itself, 
but as a means to an end. If we were to advance down the road 
towards independence and self-government — however distant 
that goal might seem — we must, as a community, possess the 
knowledge and the intellectual equipment to cope with the 
political responsibilities to which we were beginning to aspire. 
I had no narrow sectarian purpose in view. I urged from the outset 
that Sanskrit should be taught, and with it the history and evolu- 
tion of Hindu civilization, religion, and philosophy, in order that 
our people should be able better to understand their neighbours. 
A university of our own was essential because it was tlie best and 
most enduring means of developing the spiritual unity of Islam. 

The work of converting others to this belief which I held so 
ardently, of building up support for it, and of raising funds, was 
extremely strenuous. I travelled all over India, I went to great 
Muslim leaders, to the poor and to the rich, to princes and to 
peasants. My own monetary contribution was 100,000 rupees, 
which was quite a sum in those days; in all I collected more than 
three miUion rupees. These were years ofunrenxitting hard work. 
For days and weeks at a time, it seemed, I Uved in railway trains. 
In every town the train stopped at I would address Muslim gather- 
ings on the platform of the railway station. At every opportunity 
I preached the cause of Aligarh. My honorary private secretary, 
and my right-hand man throughout the campaign, was the late 
Maulana Shaukat All; wicliout liis steadfast, unwearying help I 
doubt if I should ever have been able to make a success of it. 

We reached a cHmax in the long campaign with the Muslim- 
Educational Conference at Nagpur in 1910 at wliich the AHgarh 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA j^HAN 


project was the principal item on the agenda, and indeed domin- 
ated the proceedings. Our aims were well expressed by the 
Chairman of the Conference, Mr. Yusuf Ah, who defined the 
scope of the university which we hoped to estabhsh in these 
words: “It will have no tests, freedom and originaUty of thought 
will be encouraged. It will be a MusHm university in the sense 
that it will promote the ideals which the Muslims of India have 
evolved out of the educational experience of two generations.” 

Now when all is said and done, when I look back on aU that 
the MusHm University of Ahgarh has stood for and acliieved in 
the past forty years, tliis is without doubt one of the facts of my 
life which I can record and contemplate with real and abiding 
satisfaction. I do not want only to stress its poHtical consequences, 
momentous as diese have been. Where else than in a MusHm 
university would it have been possible to establish and maintain, 
alongside and fully integrated with the Hbraries, the laboratories 
and all the facilities essential for a full understanding of our world 
and our tune, a true centre of Islamic faith and culture, in which 
can be expounded and practised the principles of our reHgion, its 
universaHty and its real modernity, its essential reasonableness, its 
profound spirit of tolerance and charity and respect for other 
faiths? That I played my part in establishing such a centre is for 
me one of the happiest, most consoHng, and most fortifying 
thoughts to take into old age. 



CHAPTER V 


LONDON, DELHI. AND 
ST. PETERSBURG 


T he years 1910 to 1914 were eventful, busy, and active. Joy 
and sorrow, work and travel, disappointment and fulfil- 
ment, sport and friendship — I had my ample share of them 
all during these years. My wife lived largely in France. In 1909 
my first son was bom to her, to whom I gave the name Mehdi. 
His brief little life ended in February 1911, and my second son, 
Aly, was born in the following June. His birth was a profound 
solace and joy to my wife and myself, but for her the happiness 
of his babyhood was tinged with a solemn sense of responsibility. 
Long years had passed since there had been a son in our family. 
The grief we felt at the loss of our first-born gave an especial 
sharpness and watchfulness to the care which we exercised over 
his brother’s upbringing. When he was quite Httle he was pro- 
noimced to be delicate; one of the leading cliildren’s specialists of 
the time had a great belief in the health-giving and health- 
maintaining properties of the Normandy coast in summertime, 
especially the sea air and bathing. From the time that he was two 
or three, therefore, my wife took him each summer to Deauville, 
and their winters they spent in the South of France. For some years 
my wife hved in Monte Carlo and then she moved to Cimiez. 

***** 

In May 1910 my great and good friend, King Edward VII, died 
in London. As loyal duty and friendship bade, I hastened to attend 
his funeral; and I had an audience with his successor. King 
George V. 

The King was buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor; 
my place in the procession and my seat in the Chapel were near 
the Royal Family and the Royal guests from foreign countries. 

117 



THE MEMOIRS Ur AGA i^nAN 


In the procession the German Emperor walked beside King 
George V. This placing provoked a minor but significant diplo- 
matic incident. When a number of sovereigns are assembled to- 
gether in one place, the protocol is that they take precedence, not 
according to the size or importance of their countries, nor 
alphabetically (as do delegates at an international conference), but 
according to seniority of accession to the throne. Thus if the King 
of Bulgaria (in the days when there was a reigning King of 
Bulgaria) had been longest on the throne he would take the head 
of any procession, and if the sovereign of the United Kingdom or 
the Emperor of Japan had only just acceded he would go last. 
But on this occasion the German Emperor was put next to King 
George V, the principal mourner, and all the other monarchs 
followed him. The storm arose indirectly, because the King of 
Greece, who was senior in the matter of accession, walked ahead 
of the King of Spain. Now the King of Spain had acceded to his 
throne in babyhood, before the German Emperor had come into 
his inheritance; and King Alfonso considered himself every whit 
as good as the Kaiser, if not his superior. As soon as the various 
sovereigns had taken leave and were on their way home, the 
Spanish Ambassador made a formal protest on behalf of his Royal 
master and his Government against the affront offered by the 
placing of the German Emperor ahead of His Most Catholic 
Majesty^, and added that since the King of Greece had been put 
ahead of the King of Spain on the grounds of seniority of acces- 
sion, then if the protocol were to be properly observed both the 
King of Greece and the King of Spain should have preceded the 
German Emperor. This put the Foreign Office and the Court in 
a fix. An apology would have been worse than useless, because 
high officials of Court and State are not expected to make mistakes 
of this sort. Finally the problem reached the King. He solved it 
diplomatically and ingeniously; the Kaiser, he said, was King 
Edward’s nephew and his own first cousin, and for these reasons 
alone he had been given precedence, not as a reigning sovereign, 
but as a family mourner. 

This rather pitiable little complication aside the whole cere- 
mony was deeply affecting. 

Tater there was trouble, too, about the precedence accorded to 
the former President of the United States, Mr. Theodore Roose- 



LONDON, DELHI, AND ST. PETERSBURG 

velt, who was lois country’s official representative. Since he was 
not a Royal personage, his place in the funeral procession and at 
other solemn functions was a lowly one. The United States and 
France both protested at this procedure which, although it was 
in full accord with international custom in those days, seemed 
even then both undignified and anachronistic. From that time 
on, the representatives of republics were deemed to rank with 
Royalty and a new and more fitting order of precedence was 
estabhshed. 

There were many wet eyes that day — mine, I am not ashamed 
to admit, among them. Shortly afterwards. King George V issued 
instructions to the India Office that I was to be invited to the 
Coronation as a special and honoured guest of his own, and the 
invitation was to cover not merely the ceremony but all the func- 
tions, banquets, State receptions, and so forth, and I sat in his box 
at the special gala performances at the Royal Opera House. 

The Coronation of King George V was held in June 1911. It 
was of great pomp and splendour, a stately showing forth of all 
Britain’s grandeur, wealth, and power. 1911, however, was a year 
of increasing incernarional tension; and the internal political con- 
flict in Britain, over Mr. Lloyd George’s budgetary measures, over 
Ireland, and over the constitutional position of the House of 
Lords, had become extremely embittered. Against the dark clouds 
of the approacliing storm, the Coronation Season shone with a 
special brightness of its own. I have two vivid recollections of this 
time. The first is of the ballet that was given at the gala perform- 
ance at Covent Garden; it was Pavilion d' Amide — surely the most 
appropriate ballet possible for such an occasion — and the principal 
dancers including Nijinsky and Karsavina. It was of unforgettable 
beauty and grace; it stands out in my memory as one of the most 
exquisite theatrical experiences that I have ever known. 

My other lasting impression is of the presence of the Crown 
Prince of Germany, of the attention that was paid to him, of the 
real and sincere e&»rt made by everybody, from the King and 
Queen downwards, to convince liim of Britain’s good will and 
peaceful intentions towards Iris country. I recall that at Covent 
Garden he sat on Queen Mary’s right, and I saw that she engaged 
him in earnest conversation, and that her courtesy to him was not 
formal or chilly. 

IIP 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KnAN 


A few months later the King and Queen set out on their journey 
to India — the first and only reigning sovereign and his consort 
to visit India during the period of British rule. Early in 1913 
the magnificent Coronation Durbar was held in Delhi; it was 
announced that the capital and seat of government were to be 
transferred to DeUii from Calcutta, and a new city built commen- 
surate with the dignity, authority, and (as it seemed then) per- 
manence of the Indian Empire. The partition of Bengal was 
annulled, and — as a cHmax and crown to my work in past years 
and the work of those who had co-operated with me so zealously 
and steadfastly — Aligarh was given the status of a university. The 
King-Emperor personally bestowed on me the highest decoration 
which it was possible for any Indian subject of the Crown to 
receive, making me a Knight Grand Commander of the Star of 
India. 

Splendid as were the Durbar ceremonies they were marred hy 
two curious contretemps. At the great State banquet, to which 
most of the notabiheies of India had been invited, some disaster 
occurred in the kitchen, and the food that emerged was just 
enough to give the King and a handful of people sitting near 
him a full meal. For most of the guests it was the only chance in 
their lives that they would ever have of dining in the King’s 
company; and nearly all of them had no dumer to eat. 

The other had far more alarming impheations. The investiture, 
at which I received my decoration of the G.C.S.I., was held at 
night in an enormous and brilliantly Ht tent. It was a full State 
ceremony: the Ehng-Emperor and his Consort sat enthroned, the 
Viceroy, the Provincial Governors, the Commander-in-Chief and 
aU the senior military Commanders, a superb assemblage of ruling 
princes, aU the leading officials, Indian and British, from every 
comer of India, were gathered in honour of a stately and memor- 
able occasion. Suddenly one of the electric Hght bulbs, high up 
near the canvas canopy of the roof, begaiT to play pranks. All eyes 
went to its flickerings . . . Suppose it were to explode . . . iu that 
instant the same silent, hornfying thought occurred to almost 
everyone present. Wliisdes were blowing, we could hear fire- 
engines clanking up; beliind their Majesties’ thrones officers had 
already drawn their swords and were hacking at the hangmgs and 
the canvas to make a way out for the King and Queen. But the 

T''0 



LONDON, DELHI, AND Si. PETERSBURG 

rest of US were trapped. Had the tent caught fire it would have 
blazed up like a celluloid ping-pong ball put near the hearth, and 
hardly one of us inside it would have survived. The humanitarian 
aspect of the disaster which we contemplated was appalling 
enough. Even more fearful to most of us was the thought of the 
pohtical, administrative, and social chaos all over India that would 
have followed. The country would have been left without a 
single leading figure. Next day both the King and the Viceroy 
told me that instant orders had gone forth that no ceremony of 
this sort was ever to be held again by night in a tent. 

A great mditary parade was of course a central feature of the 
Durbar celebrations. Many of us, Indian and British alike, were 
becoming more acutely aware of the importance of the Indian 
Army in Britain’s world-wide imperial strategy, with her vast 
commitments and the growing sense of international tension. 
Britain’s own Regular Army, a considerable portion of which 
was habitually stationed in India, was — though well tramed and 
of admirable morale — smah in comparison with those of any of 
her possible challengers. Haldane, as Secretary of State for War, 
had thoroughly reorganized the military macliine, and had 
brought into being the volunteer and part-time Territorial Army; 
but Britain had refused to heed the urgent pleas of the veteran 
Field-Marshal, Lord Roberts, for a Continental system of 
universal national service. I was able to link the developing 
recognition of Britain’s mihtary needs and of India’s position 
in relation to those needs with my own passion for Indian 
education. 

In an article which I contributed to Leo Maxse’s National 
Reuiew in July 1911 (it was not a journal whose imperialist 
politics I shared, but it was widely read by people whom I was 
eager to reach with my views) I put my arguments as forcefully 
as I could. 

Educate, educate, educate [I said]. Look for a passing moment at 
the question of manpower. India could put troops into South Africa 
as quickly as they could be sent from England, she could land soldiers 
in Australia long before England could do so, and forces from India 
could reach western Canada almost as soon as from England. If by 
education the myriads of India can be taught that they are guardians 
and supporters of the Crown, just as are the wliite citizens of die 



iHii MtMOlRS Ox AGA js.-tiAN 


Empire, then the realization that India and the self-governing 
dominions stand and fall together, bound by a community of 
interests and a common cause to maintain, will have come. It is 
imperative to give Indians the education to fit them for their future 
role in the British Empire. 

In two World Wars, one of which was to break out only three 
years after these words were written, my arguments were justified 
to the Ihlt. 

***** 

The autumn of 1912 found me on my travels again — this time 
to Russia. The Tsar Nicholas II, in appearance almost the double 
of liis cousin, King George V, had visited India when he was 
Tsarevitch; that was, however, a good many years earlier, and I 
had never met him since. Many of his relatives habitually visited 
the South of France — the Grand Dukes Boris and Nicholas 
among them, and the Tsar’s own brother the Grand Duke 
Michael — and with several I was on terms of warm friendship, 
and they had often asked me to visit them at home. 

Patrician and aristocratic life in England and in many other 
European countries had its own magnificence and stateliness; but 
they were as nothing compared with the luxury and opulence of 
the elaborate and gilded existence that was led by the Russian 
aristocracy in St. Petersburg, as I saw it that winter. 

More than thirty years have passed since the Revolution 
shattered their world; many were murdered, many went into 
exUe, in towns like Harbin and Shanghai, in Constantinople, in 
Berlin, Paris, and the South of France. Among those who had 
to refashion hfe from its foundations upwards was a distinguished 
soldier, formerly Military Attache in London, General Polovtsoff, 
who for many years has been a wcU-known and much-liked 
figure in Monte Carlo. Like many of Iris companions in exile, he 
has borne his vicissitudes with courage, dignity, and a fine, high 
spirit. It happened that in 1912 I was the guest of General 
Polovtsoff and his brother in the house — the palace — which they 
had inherited from their father who had been a Minister of the 
Tsar. 

The splendour of that house was beyond description. The 
banqueting hall, in which my hosts gave a luncheon party in my 



LUNVON, Dj-lHi, and ST. PETERSBURG 

honour, was, I am sure, fully three times the size of the great salon 
of any eighteenth-century Italian palazzo. Its walls were hung 
with magnificent pictures and tapestry; there were great, many- 
coloured, strongly-scented banks of hot-house flowers, and the 
luncheon itself was on a prodigious scale. And tliis was only one 
of many similar functions at which I was entertained at similar 
houses of ahnost fairy-tale magnificence. 

Life was adjusted to a curious, and, at first, somewhat unsettling 
timetable, for wliich — accustomed as I was to social life in London 
and Paris — I was not immediately prepared. The first of my many 
invitations to supper showed me what I had to learn. I had been 
asked to what I knew was to be a big supper party at a famous 
general’s house, to be attended by several of the Grand Dukes and 
a number of leading ladies of the dieatre. With my notions of this 
kind of entertainment in London and in Paris, I arrived at the 
house a little after midnight. To my surprise there was nobody else 
there at all; even the servants looked as if they had just woken up, 
as they scurried around turning on the lights. For an hour or 
thereabouts I waited in some embarrassment, imtil at last my host 
and hostess came downstairs. Between half-past one and two the 
other guests began to arrive and the vast salon began to look a 
little less empty. It was well after two o’clock when we went in 
to supper. After supper there was some music, and it was nearing 
half-past four when the party broke up and we went home, Tliis, 
I quickly learned, was the normal convention. 

St. Petersburg was a winter capital. Its season was a winter 
season, I arrived there near its beginning, in late November. The 
cold was already mtense. The days were dark and short, the nights 
long and bitter, and the city itself snowboimd. Here were the 
reasons for the — to me — unusual tempo and rhythm of life. The 
day ordinarily began about noon; shops, banks, and offices re- 
mained open until late in the evening. Work was done and 
business transacted from midday onwards; and the nights were 
given up to the varied and elegant pursuits and distractions of a 
gay, cultivated, and sophisticated Society. The theatres were 
excellent, so were the opera and die ballet. There were parties 
innumerable; there were moonlight drives in troikas across the 
icebound Neva to some of the islands that were not too distant 
from the capital. In die few hours of daylight there were often 

123 



■IHE MjiMOIRS of AGA js-hAN 

shooting parties in the surrounding countryside when enthusiastic 
sportsmen went out not only after game birds and deer, but after 
bears. 

All the houses were to my way of thinking grossly overheated 
and thorougldy underventilated. I had grown accustomed in 
cities hke London and Paris to houses in which, even in cold 
weatlier, the windows and the doors were constantly open, and 
I was shocked and not a Httle disgusted by Russian habits in this 
matter. All houses were built with double glass windows. Some 
time in early November, when winter was setting in, workmen 
would come and nail down all these windows so that they could 
not be opened again until the end of April. One small pane was 
left free at the top of each window, every morning tins would be 
opened for an hour or so and then shut agam. This was all the 
fresh air that any room got. On my very first night at the British 
Embassy I said to my hostess, the Ambassador’s wife, Lady 
Buchanan, that I thought this a most unhygienic and most un- 
pleasant custom. She answered me that when she and her husband 
first went to St. Petersburg, they tried to live as they would have 
done in England with the windows hardly ever fully shut, either 
by day or by night. However, tire whole family fell HI, and they 
had to adopt the custom of the country, and since then there had 
been no illness. She told me, too, that in all the big houses, at 
which parties were given and large numbers of people gathered 
together, the rooms were scented and the air specially sweetened 
and purified. 

The corollary of this permanent overheating of the houses was 
that Russians of all classes had comparatively hght indoor cloth- 
ing. But when they went out of doors they all piled on heavy 
furs. The well-to-do would be thickly wrapped in sables, and the 
poorer classes m sheepskin. Everyone had sheepskin or fur caps, 
thick warm gloves, and snowboots. I had been accustomed to 
being told that one ought not to go suddenly from warm rooms 
into bitter cold outside, and at first I thought the whole Russian 
way of life — ^similar to some extent, I suppose, to that in Canada in 
the winter and in many of the northerly states of the U.S.A. — 
“unliealthy”; but a few weeks in St. Petersburg and Moscow 
rid me of this prejudice. 

I came to the conclusion that the Hermitage Museum was the 

124 



LONDON, DELHI, AND ST. PETERSBURG 

finest I ever saw in my life, far superior to the Louvre, the 
National Gallery, or New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Its 
superiority lay in its rigid selectivity. There was no indifferent 
or third-rate stuff on view; everything shown was of supreme 
merit. There was no need, as in every other big museum or art 
gallery that I have ever been to, to trudge mile after nule past 
inferior works, questionable attnbutions, copies and studies by the 
pupils of great masters. At the Hermitage, under the direction of 
Count Tolstoy, a relative of the great novelist, all tliis kind of 
stuff had been sternly relegated to the vaults. He had instituted, 
so I was given to understand, a regime whereby everything was 
taken off the walls wliich, whether by a great artist or merely 
alleged to be by liim, did not possess its own intrinsic beauty and 
merit. The effect dierefore was of a small, pure collection of 
masterpieces and it was extraordinarily refreshuig. 

One of the treasures of the Hermitage was a wonderful collec- 
tion of old EngHsh silver, of the period of Charles H, when the 
art of the silversmith in England was at its height. The collection, 
so I believe, was made by Peter the Great, who visited England 
as a young man and worked in the shipyards at Deptford. Half- 
savage, half-genius as he was, he had a strong and genuine aesthetic 
streak in him, excellent taste — ^witness the pictures which he chose 
while he was in Holland — and sure, clear judgment. 

I remember being transported with deHght by the choral sing- 
ing in the Cathedral of St. Isaac in St. Petersburg. I have often 
hstened to fine singing in both CathoHc and Anglican cathedrals 
m Western Europe; but never have I heard a choir whose singing 
was as pure and as majestic as that of the cathedral in St. Peters- 
burg. Boys were recruited, I was told, from aU over Russia, 
tramed from an early age, and given sound professional or 
technical schooling at the same time. 

Despite the fuU social life that I led with the Tsar’s brother, the 
Grand Duke Michael, liis cousins, and the officers of his crack 
regiments, I never met or had an audience of the Tsar. He lived a 
strangely secluded existence; and in the last years of his sad and 
troubled reign his seclusion deepened and his circle narrowed. He 
was of a nervous, shy, and naturally melancholy disposition; his 
Empress was superstitiously pious, courageous, and dignified, but 
utterly out of touch with reality; his son and heir was delicate and 



iHE MEMOIRS Of AGA ivilAN 


ailing. All the circumstances of his life combined to encourage 
him hito a sombre remoteness. I was told that if I wanted to see 
him an official approach and a request for an audience would have 
to be made through diplomatic channels; and that it would have 
to have the character of an official visit. I did not, therefore, even 
make the attempt. One of the Tsar’s few sociable characteristics, 
so I was informed, was his love and enjoyment of the theatre, 
especially ballet and the opera. He had a habit of coining into a 
theatre after the performance had started, accompanied only by 
one or two officer friends, and would slip unobserved into a small 
stage box. The only indication of his presence would be the loud 
and enthusiastic applause, the hurralis and bravoes, wliich were 
heard behind the curtain of his box. Perhaps only there a few feet 
from the make-believe world beyond the footlights could this 
shy, sad, solitary man forget his sorrows and shed his inhibitions. 

From St. Petersburg I went on to Moscow. Moscow’s pros- 
perity in those days was founded on commerce and industry. 
The Court and the aristocracy made St. Petersburg their head- 
quarters; rich industriahsts were the chief citizens of Moscow. 
Their wealth was derived from various sources: sugar, the rapidly 
developing oil industry of the Caspian Sea region, and piece goods 
from the cotton factories of Moscow. They bore a considerable 
similarity to the same powerful capitalist class in the United States. 
They hved in magnificent style; their houses were virtually 
palaces and museums, for, Hke the nobles of St. Petersburg, many 
of these merchant princes were connoisseurs of the arts. I noticed 
incidentally that Moscow’s tastes seemed more catholic than St. 
Petersburg’s; my favourite French impressionists had to some 
extent taken their fancy, whereas in St. Petersburg all the paintings 
that I saw were of the classical schools. 

The gulf between rich and poor was truly appalling. I took 
some trouble to study labour conditions in the mills and textile 
factories; they resembled in many ways Bombay’s cotton mills, 
but conditions in them were hifinitely worse. I have no hesitation 
in saying that, poor, miserable, and ill-fed as were the Bombay 
mill-hands of those days, they looked happier and hveher than the 
Moscow workers of the same sort. In Bombay you could at least 
see smiles; every Moscow mill-hand looked drawn, haggard, and 
tired to death. Yet I doubt if either in the matter of wages or diet 



LONDON, DhlHl, AND ST. PETEKSBURG 

the Moscow worker was worse off than his Bombay counterpart. 
The reason for the difference lay, I think, in one simple fact— the 
climate. In his hours off work, for at least eight months of the year, 
the Bombay miU-hand, however poor and downtrodden, could 
walk in the fresh air, could see the sun and the moon and the stars. 
For eight months of the year life for the Moscow worker, on the 
other hand, was only possible indoors — ^in the hot, steamy atmo- 
sphere of the mill, or in an overheated, overcrowded little room 
in one of the great, grim, barrack-hke buildings that served so 
many of them as home. 

An odd custom prevailed in those days in the public baths of 
Russia’s great cities — I visited one in Moscow, so I am not talking 
from hearsay — in the administration of what were known as 
Russian steam baths, really very like our Turkish baths. The 
attendants who looked after you, gave you your soap and your 
towels, massaged you and looked after all your wants, were 
women — but elderly, and of so plain and sour a visage that it 
would have been utterly impossible to imagine even the slightest 
misbehaviour with them. Nor, I was assured, did misbehaviour 
occur. This was simply regarded as useful employment for women 
past middle age; and nobody — except the raw foreign visitor like 
myself— thought it in the shghtest degree unusual. 

While I was still in Russia the first match was set to the con- 
flagration that soon was to engulf the whole world. The Balkan 
Wars — first the attack by a combination of small Balkan, countries 
on the Ottoman Empire, and then their ferocious quarrels with 
each other — ^were not then merely localized conflicts, which many 
tried to convince themselves that they were; in fact they were 
unmistakable indications of what was to come. Turkey, whose 
internal difficulties and troubles had accumulated and deepened 
in recent years, reeled tuider successive blows from her enemies. 
Day after day news of fresh disasters reached the outside world. 
By the time I returned to Paris and before I left for India the extent 
of Turkey’s plight was obvious; it seemed to be only a matter of 
time before her foes had her completely at their mercy. The feel- 
ings of Muslim India, indeed of the whole Islamic world, were 
deeply stirred. I made as much haste as I could to get back to 
Bombay. 

My closest political fiiends and associates were active on behalf 

127 



THE MEMOIKS OF AGA i^ttAN 

of the Turks. An organization had been set up, representing all 
branches of MusHm opinion in India, includmg many of those 
most closely concerned with Aligarh, whose purpose was to 
render all possible assistance to Turkey, and to bring maximum 
pressure to bear on the British Government in order that Britain’s 
influence should be exerted in the Concert of Europe, to make 
defeat tolerable and honourable for the Turks. A practical gesture 
of help had been made in the equipment and despatch to the war 
area of a Red Crescent medical mission, led by Dr. Ansari — one 
of India’s outstanding medical practitioners. Tliis was the kind of 
worthwhile, humane work which I was happy to support. I con- 
tributed too to Turkey’s war loans; but I found myself involved 
in a distressing difference of opinion with the majority of my 
Muslim bretlnen in India over our attitude to this conflict — a 
difference of opinion wlrich, I am sorry to say, disrupted for some 
time to come the hitherto close and intimate associations, in 
thought and action, wliich had subsisted between myself and 
other MusHm leaders in India. 

We were giving as much aid as we could to Turkey, but how 
much, in fact, did it amount to? The honest answer was: very 
httle. We were not, of course, our own masters; and our real 
influence on British poHcy towards the whole Turco-Balkan issue 
was negUgible. The Government lent a courteous if distant ear to 
our earnest suppHcations, but they could well afford to pay no 
practical attention to us. British opinion in general about the 
Ottoman Empire — “the Sick Man of Europe”, as portrayed by 
the poHtical cartoonists of Punch and other papers — was at best 
lukewarm. The European poHtical situation was tense and pre- 
carious. Britain’s friends in the Concert of Europe, France, 
Russia, and to a lesser extent Italy, were anything but pro- 
Turkish, and the main concern of all of tliem was to avoid an 
open breach with Germany and Austria. A deHcate but cliilly 
poUcy of non-intervention was the furthest that Britain was will- 
ing to go. But the general run of Musl im opinion in India was 
far more fiery; the honour and integrity of Islam were at stake; 
and we should urge the Turks to hold on, to face every risk and 
accept every sacrifice, and to carry the war on to the utmost end. 

Fine sentiments, but I demurred from them. I pointed out that 
it was not really in our power to help the Turks; great and 



LONDON, Dhlal, AND ST. PETERSBURG 

generous as our emotions doubtless were, we were quite incapable 
at that time of turning our feelings into action. To call on the 
Turks to stand, fight, and die for the cause ot Islam, to the last 
piastre and the last Turk, while we survived, was unfair and unjust 
to the Turks. Far from helping them, it was acmally worsenmg 
their plight. 

I did not mince my words. I gave an interview along these lines 
to the Times of India, the most widely-read and most responsible 
newspaper in the subcontinent. I observed that it was all very 
well sending heartening telegrams to the Turks “Go on, fight on ! 
Do not accept defeat, whatever the sacrifice!” but that we who 
had sent the telegram could then go home and sleep soundly m 
our peaceful beds. These were not popular comments, and they 
evoked a storm of protest from Muslims all over India. However, 
as such storms will, it passed, and soon enough tliis controversy 
was forgotten in the whirlwind of perils and problems of the 
First World War. 


129 



CHAPTER VI 


THE FIRST WORLD WAR 


T he early months of 1914 found me on another visit to 
Burma. I then took a step of some importance in respect of 
my Ismaili followers. I advised them to undertake a con- 
siderable measure of social and cultural assimilation. Burma, 
although annexed to the British Empire, and at tltis time under 
the control of the India Office, was a country in which national, 
patriotic sentiment was strong, and nationahsni a spontaneous, 
natural, and continuous growth. I was convinced that the only 
prudent and proper policy for my followers was to identify them- 
selves as closely as possible with the hfe of Burma socially and 
politically, to give up their Indo-Saracenic names, habits, and 
customs, and to adopt, permanently and naturally, those of the 
people alongside whom they lived, and whose destiny they shared. 

From Burma I made a brief trip to Europe in that last spring 
and early summer of the old epoch; and thence I went to East 
Africa. Somewhat to my surprise and greatly to the distress and 
indignation of my followers there, the authorities in German East 
Africa requested me not to visit their territory. While I was on 
my way to Africa, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife 
were assassinated in the httle Bosnian border town of Sarajevo; 
and the casus belli had been provided. By the time I reached 
Zanzibar the situation had become critical; in the last days of 
July and the first days of August there was an exchange of ever 
graver and graver telegrams. Russia and Germany were at war; 
the Germans invaded Belgium; and on August 4th Britain 
declared war on Germany. 

I had no hesitations, no irresolution. Ambitions, aspirations, 
hopes, and interests narrowed down to one or two intensely 
personal, solitary decisions. I had one overruling emotion — to go 
to England as fast as I could, and offer my services in whatever 

1^0 



iHc rIRST V?OELD WAR 


capacity they could best be used. I was in good health; I was still 
young and strong; my place was witli the British. I returned 
immediately and without comment the insignia of the Prussian 
Order of the Crown, First Class, wliich the Kaiser had conferred 
on me. I telegraphed instructions to my followers in and on the 
borders of all British territories that they were to render all 
possible help and support to the British authorities in their area. 
I offered my personal services to the British Resident in Zanzibar, 
and I took the first steps in organizing, from among members of 
the Indian community, a transport corps to assist in maintaining 
communications from the coast to the interior. Then I made haste 
to get to England. There were rumours — ^well-founded as it 
proved — of a German sea-raider at large in the Indian Ocean, 
and the authorities m Zanzibar asked me not to go to Mombasa 
as I had intended and thence to England by the first available 
ship, but to proceed by way of South Africa. From the Union 
I got a passage to England, and I was in London by mid- 
September. 

I had had no practical mihtary experience, so it seemed to me 
that my mimediate contribution to the war effort was likely to be 
humble. I volunteered for service in the ranks in any unit in the 
British or Indian Army. I called on Lord Kitchener, the Secretary 
of State for War, whom I had known well in India and with 
whom I had served on the Viceroy’s Legislative Council more 
than a decade earlier; I urged that I should be enlisted as a private 
in the Indian contingent then on its way to the Western Front. 

Kitchener, however, whose knowledge and experience of the 
East were massive and profoiuid, had other views as to the sort of 
service I could render. He was fully cognizant of both the perils 
and the possibhities latent in the involvement of Eastern, pre- 
dominantly Islamic, peoples in a conflict of these dimensions. 
Germany’s intrigues and influence in Constantinople had greatly 
increased in recent years; the great dream of a German hegemony 
extending from Berlin to Baghdad was one of the many fantasies 
on which German imperiahst thinkers and teachers had dwelt 
eagerly and lovingly. The Turkish Government seemed deeply 
disrupted and drained of the capacity to take independent and 
effective decisions of its own. For Britain it was essential to retain 
control over the then vital artery of Empire: the seaway tluough 



TH±i MEMOIRS Or AOA i^ilAN 


the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Indian 
Ocean, which led not only to India but to AustraUa and New 
Zealand and to the Colonial territories of South-east Asia. In all 
this complex of political and strategic needs and obligations it 
seemed to the British Government that I held a position of con- 
siderable importance. Soldiering in the ranks was not. Kitchener 
gave me firmly to understand, for me. 

Most significant of all, it had not passed unnoticed by the 
British Government that I had won and held the respect and trust 
of many important Turks. Lord Kitchener requested me to use 
all my influence with the Turks to persuade them not to join the 
Central Powers, and to preserve their neutrahty. I discovered that 
Kitchener was by no means alone in his idea of the sort of employ- 
ment to which I could best be put. His opinion was shared and 
supported by the Secretary of State for India, hy the Foreign 
Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, and by the Prime Minister, Mr. 
Asquith. Indeed even the King, when I had the honour of lunch- 
ing with him, referred to it. 

Therefore, while overtly I busied myself with rallying young 
Indians in England — of whom there were considerable numbers 
— to volunteer for the Indian Field Ambulance Corps, and in 
raising a comforts fund for them, discreetly and urgently I got in 
touch with the Turkish Ambassador, Tewfiq Pasha. At my 
request he sent an invitation to the Young Turks, who had 
assumed power in Turkey’s revolution of 1908, to send a minis- 
terial delegation to London to enter into direct negotiations with 
His Majesty’s Government. Britain was prepared, on her own 
behalf and on behalf of Russia and her other allies, to give Turkey 
full guarantees and assurances for the future. 

We had high hopes of bringing off what would have been, 
from every point of view, a diplomatic victory of first-rate im- 
portance. I was quite aware that my own emotions were deeply 
involved. As a Muslim I was most anxious that Turkey should 
be spared the trials and the horrors of renewed war, not against 
a ramshackle aUiance of small Balkan States but against the mighty 
combmation of some of the greatest industrial and military 
nations in the world. The Turks had but lately emerged from their 
eaxHer ordeal; they were in desperate need of a breathing space; 
it seemed impossible that they could enter a new struggle and not 

1^2 



liiu i:IEST WORLD WAR 

face almost illimitable catastrophe. It had to be admitted that the 
Turks were] ustifiably suspicious of 'guarantees”, however specific, 
offered by the Western Powers; tliey had had too recent and too 
rueful experience of similar guarantees, which seemed to them 
promises made only to be broken. Yet even allowing for the 
most cynically reahstic appreciation of the situation, as it existed 
in the last months of 1914, neutrahty (wliich was all the Western 
Powers asked of Turkey) would have given the Young Turks the 
time tliey needed in which to carry out their programme of 
social, economic, and military reform. 

Tewfiq Pasha was a key figure in our approaches. He had been 
for many years the Sultan Abdul Hamid’s Foreign Minister. The 
Young Turk Revolution had displaced him from that office, 
nevertheless the new regime maintained their trust in a most 
experienced and capable statesman. In London and other Western 
capitals he was held in the highest esteem. Venerable, sage, and 
slnrewd, be was a good friend of my own; he and I trusted each 
other imphcitly. What was even more important, he was in full 
agreement with my attitude in tliis business. 

He took occasion, however, immediately to warn me that our 
negotiations would have had a much greater chance of success if 
the Allies had asked Turkey to come in on their side rather than 
proposed mere neutrahty, for which at the end of the conflict 
nobody would drank her. He went onto say that he was convinced 
also that Russia would never agree to Turkey joining the Allies, 
as such a step would put an end to all Russia’s hopes of expansion 
at Turkey’s expense, either in the North East, around Erzenim, 
or southwards from the Black Sea. In confidence I communicated 
these observations to Lord Kitchener. Within a few hours he 
told me that the AlHes had no desire to bring Turkey into the war 
on their side. hr. view of this preliminary exchange, wc entered 
negotiations under a considerable handicap. Nevertheless I was 
an optimist for several days, and my optimism seemed far from 
groundless. 

Suddenly it became known that two German warships, the 
Goehen and the Breslau, had evaded Allied naval vigflauce and 
were lying at anchor off Constantinople. Their presence drasti- 
cally altered the whole situation. The Turks accorded them hospi- 
tality and protection. They were a visible sign of German naval 



THE MEMOIRS Of AOA jvHAN 


vigour and capacity. Combined with the remarkable moral 
ascendancy which had been established in Constantmople by the 
German Military Mission, under its extremely able and resolute 
commander, General Liman von Sanders, the sliips presented the 
gravest possible menace to our hopes — lately so high — of main- 
taining Turkish neutrality. By the close of 1914 the Central 
Powers were confident of a quick victory on their own terms; an 
elderly Prussian general named von Hindenbcrg had inflicted a 
crushing defeat on the immensely gallant but incompetently led 
Russian armies in the marshes of Tanncnberg in East Prussia; 
in the west, the German armies, held almost witliin sight of 
Paris, had stabilized themselves along that boo-mile front which, 
with pitiably little variation and at appaUing cost of hfe on both 
sides, was to be maintained until August 1918; a solitary cruiser, 
the Eniden, at large in the Indian Ocean, had inflicted spectacular 
shipping losses on the Ahies, and turned up impudently in 
Madras Roads. Tragically misled by aU these signs and portents 
dangled before their eyes by the exultant Germans, the Turkish 
Government took the irrevocable step of declaring war on Russia. 
This automatically involved the Ottoman Empire in war with 
Great Britain and France. 

To a strategist hke Churchill this decision offered an oppor- 
tunity (which was never fully seized) of ending the slaughterous 
deadlock on the Western Front, and of striking at Germany and 
Austria from the South-east. To myself at that moment it was 
a shattering blow. Its sharpness and severity were mortifying in 
the extreme; and when the Turkish Government, striving to put 
a respectable and popular fapade on what was in fact unprovoked, 
inexcusable aggression, proclaimed tliis s. jehad, a holy war against 
Christendom, my distress and disappomtment crystalfized into 
bitter resentment against the irreHgious folly of Turkey’s rulers. 
My resentment was given a razor edge by my knowledge of how 
near we had been to success in our negotiations. The fruit was 
just about to be plucked from the tree when not merely the tree 
but the whole garden was blown to pieces. 

I reacted strongly. I Joined with other MusHm leaders in an 
earnest appeal to the whole Islamic world to disregard the so- 
caH&d jehad, to do their duty and stand loyally with and beside the 
Western AlUes — especially Britain and France in whose overseas 

114 



iilii flRSl WORLD WAR 


possessions the Muslim population could be counted in many 
millions. On my own responsibility I published a manifesto 
settmg out my view of the grievous error committed by Turkey. 
I pointed out that tlie Ottoman Government and such forces as 
it would dispose of were bound to be regarded as pawns in 
Germany’s aggressive, imperialist strategy; that in declaring war- 
on Britain and the Allies the Turks were acting under the orders 
of their German masters; and that the Sultan and his advisers 
had been compelled to take this step by German officers and other 
non-Muslims. I stressed the fact that neither Turkey in particular 
nor Islam in general need have any apprehension about the purely 
defensive actions of the Western Powers. 

The British and Russian Empires and the French Republic [I 
said] have offered to guarantee Turkey all her territories in complete 
independence on the sole condition that she remain neutral. Turkey 
is the trustee of Islam, and the whole world is content to let her hold 
the holy cities in her keeping. All men must see that Turkey’s 
position was not imperilled in any way and that she has not gone 
to war for the cause of Islam or in defence of her independence. 
Thus our only duty as Muslims is to remain loyal, faithful, and 
obedient to our temporal and secular allegiance. 

It is not, I tliink, an unjustifiable claim that these words of 
mine, coming when they did and whence they did, had a genuine 
and steadying effect when it was needed. The vast majority of 
Mushm subjects of the Western Powers faithfully preserved their 
allegiance; Muslim soldiers fought and died alongside their 
Cluistian comrades in battlefields all over the world. The whole 
ugly idea of a jehad, manufactured and exploited by the Kaiser 
and his advisers for their own purposes, collapsed, and little more 
was heard of it after the early months of 1915. 

However, I do still regard the failure of our attempt to open my 
negotiations with the Subhme Porte in the last months of 1914 
as a tragic tumhig-point in modem history. Had Turkey remained 
neutral the history of the Near East, and of the whole Islamic 
world, in the past forty years, might have been profoundly 
different. What had been Islam’s natural centre and rallying point 
for hundreds of years, the Sultanate in Constantinople, was 
destroyed. Turkey, as we shall see later, emerged from her 
tribulations under the inspiring leaderslnp of Mustafa Kcmal, 



IHjb MiiMOlRS Ui- AGA j^i-iAN 


restored and purified in spirit, but shorn of her Empire. Milhons 
of Arabs, who had hved for centuries under the tolerant 
suzerainty of the Turks discovered, not only on the high plateau 
of central Arabia but in the lands of the fertile crescent, the joys 
and sorrows, the difficulties and the ardours of nationaUsm. And 
the British Empire, in the years from 1918 onwards, fell heir — 
by accident rather than by intention — to that Near and Afiddle 
Eastern hegemony so long exercised by the Ottoman Empire; 
and to vilayet and pashalik succeeded mandatory government. 
French involvement in Syria, the Greek adventures and disasters 
in Asia Minor, the clash of Zionism and Arab aspirations, Ibn 
Sand’s carving of a new kingdom in Arabia, the emergence of the 
Sharifi family from a local chieftainship in Mecca to the founda- 
tion of ruling dynasties in two kingdoms — all these complex con- 
sequences and many more were to flow from the Young Turks’ 
rejection, under German pressure, of the advances made to them 
at the end of 1914. 

Kitchener, whatever doubts may have begun to make them- 
selves felt in early 1915 as to his capacity to organize and conduct 
Britain’s war effort in the West, was certainly alert to every 
contingency in the East. It was not long before he sent for me 
with another proposal, for a diplomatic or quasi-diplomatic task, 
which had Cabinet backing, and indeed the personal approval 
and interest of King George V. This concerned Egypt, where the 
pohtical situation was confused and dehcate. Kitchener himself 
had been peremptorily recalled to take up his duties at the War 
Office, when he was about to board the cross-Channel steamer on 
his way back to his post as British Representative in Cairo. Egypt 
was nominally part of the domains of the Ottoman Emperor, the 
Khedive was nominally liis viceroy. Tliis status had been pre- 
served — ^in name, though in nothing else — after the British Occu- 
pation in 1882. As every Egyptian statesman and poHtician, for 
many years past, has had occasion to point out times without 
number, the British Occupation of Egypt was always said — by the 
British — ^to be purely temporary. Yet somehow in defiance of 
logic and in defiance of promises and undertakings, it remained, 
until in the early years of this century Egypt looked, as I have 
recorded in an earfier chapter, to all intents and purposes like a 
British colony. 


1^6 



iHE First world war 


In the First World War, as in the Second World War, Egypt 
was a military base for Britahr and her allies of the highest strategic 
and logistical importance. By the beginning of 1915 the number 
of British, Indian, and Dominion troops stationed in Egypt was 
large and was growing steadily. Alexandria was a great naval har- 
bour and dockyard. The Suez Canal was a vital strategic waterway. 
On its Sinai banks, however, although Sinai was theoretically part 
of Egypt, were units of the Turkish Army, whose role at this time 
was purely static and defensive. But British strategic thinking 
had not cast Egypt for any quiescent, non-active role. It was to 
be the base whence every offensive agaiiost Turkey was to be 
launched. Already in their thousands the transports w'ere bringing 
to Alexandria, Port Said, Kantara, and Ism^ia, the men from 
Britain, from Australia and New Zealand and India, who were 
to fight and die, with unforgettable heroism and to no avail, on 
a barren, rocky iitde peninsula that guarded the European shore 
of the Dardanelles Straits leading to Constantinople. As great a 
degree of certainty and stability as possible in Egypt’s internal 
political situation was, from the military point of view, a pre- 
requisite if this huge operational base was to be preserved in good 
order. 

The confusion began at the top. There was no Egyptian 
political leader of any calibre, and the Khedive himself, Abbas 
Hilmi, was absent — in, of all places, Constantinople. Since he had 
not returned to Egypt when called, it was perhaps inevitable that 
Allied opiniolr should believe him to be pro-German, and that 
Allied propaganda should portray him as such in the crudest 
terms. However, I came to know Abbas Hilmi well in later years 
during his long exile in Europe, and I am convinced that he was 
wronged and misjudged. I developed a real affection for him, and 
a real admiration for the clarity and brilliance of his intellect. He 
told me what, I am convinced, was the tnie story of his “defec- 
tion”. Shortly before the Turkish declaration of war, he was 
attacked by a would-be assassin, and wounded in the face and jaw. 
For the rest of his life he carried the heavy scar which was the 
effect of this attack. 

From 1920 until his sudden death at the end of World War 11 , 

I saw a great deal of Abbas Hilmi and we became very firm 
friends. He had a beautiful yacht called Nitnat Ullah which was 

ity 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA xaiAN 

more or less his home on the Riviera during the winter months 
and the early spring; and he usually spent the late spring and 
summer in Paris and Switzerland. I often lunched with liini aboard 
the Nimat Ullah and in Switzerland I saw a great deal of him. Of 
one thing I am convinced; he was never anti-British, and he had 
the greatest affection for his English friends. Naturally when he 
was Khedive he greatly resented the fact that, without any legal 
right or authority and no moral claim to power and prestige, 
the British Occupation authorities were treating Iris country as a 
colony and he himself more or less as a glorified maharajah. Tliis 
brought him constantly mto conflict with Lord Cromer, who 
was in fact, though not in name, the absolute ruler of Egypt. 
However, he always told me that Cromer was a great gentleman, 
that his word was his bond and that however bitter their personal 
relations became on account of their political differences, he for 
his part never lost his respect for Lord Cromer. But with Lord 
Kitchener the personal differences had led to bitterness; and he 
never forgave Lord Kitchener for the strife between them. He 
told me that he thought it most unfortunate that Lord Kitchener 
was never grateful to him for having helped him to become 
Sirdar of the Egyptian Army at the beginning. When Kitchener’s 
predecessor retired there were two or three candidates for the 
post; and Abbas fiilmi maintained that he Irimself sent a telegram 
to Queen Victoria particularly askingfor Kitchener’s appointment. 

He told me that had he not been wounded he would certainly 
have escaped from Constantinople. He had no wish nor desire to 
remain, and as soon as he got better he wanted to go to Egypt; 
but the British authorities were by no means keen to have liim 
there. It was his opinion that while he was shown tliat he was 
not wanted, he was at the same time made the scapegoat. How- 
ever, there was no bitterness towards the English either as a 
people or as individuals. He accepted the whole episode as a game 
of cricket in which he had been die loser; and as a good sportsman 
he said, “The game is over and done with — ^now let’s have a drink 
together.” 

Though he was a good Muslim, a real believer who said his 
prayers regularly, he also had a great admiration for the CathoHc 
liierarchy and was in touch with them in Paris; and I beheve that 
his donations to their charities and good works were on a large 

llS 



UHii FIRST WORLD WAR 

scale. He always told me that the Church of Rome could do far 
more than any freemasonry for dieir friends when they were in 
trouble. He was a brilliant financier; he made a large fortune for 
himself even after he had lost the greater part of his original capital 
in Egypt, He had, however, a curious trait. After his death it 
became apparent that he had often put liis money on the wrong 
horse. Shrewdly suspicious of all respectable bankers, high-class 
agents-de-change on the Continent, or stockbrokers in England, he 
was yet capable of being taken in by a lot of fourth-rate intriguers, 
and he would hand over large sums of money to them for all 
kinds of wild-goose projects. Apart from this, he had some 
extremely doubtful characters in his entourage— hangers-on who 
won his confidence, goodness knows how, I beUeve that after his 
death his heirs found that he was nothing like as rich as he had 
been, and that a considerable proportion of Iris fortune had dis- 
appeared. I think I can explain how tins must have happened. 
Before and during the Second World War, he often told me 
that in view of the imccrtainty of the future and the possible 
difficulties of movement, or even of getthig control of his invest- 
ments in America or Canada, or for that matter in South America, 
during periods of war (though he knew all the tricks of forming 
holding companies in harmless places such as Cuba or Tangiers, 
and transferring large blocks of stocks and securities to them), he 
felt that he might be stranded in wartime without gettmg the 
benefits of Iiis investments. He dreaded the possibility of years of 
want and difficulty in which, like Midas, he might be full of gold 
and yet die of hunger. 

In tclhng me these things he was really advising me to foUow 
his example. I asked laim, therefore, how he got around it. Was 
it by having a considerable part of his fortmie with him in safes 
and vaults? Naturally I pointed out that bank notes in such 
numbers in wartime would be a real liindrance, while gold in the 
quantities that he wanted would be too heavy and not practicable 
except for comparatively small sums. Ah, he said, but the finest 
type of jewellery — that which is the very best and free from taint 
— hke gold maintains its value. If it is perfect-large or small- 
jewellery can always find a purchaser; and it has the advantage 
that its possessor has a large fortune at his disposal wherever he 
happens to be. I naturally concluded from this argument that 

139 



IriE MtMOiUS OF AGA *.jtlAN 


he had vast sums invested in jewellery, particularly since he 
frequently urged me to do likewise. 

He died of heart failure suddenly about tliree o’clock one morn- 
ing in an apartment in Geneva; and it was not until much later, 
about mid-morning, that people came and opened Iris various 
boxes and vaults. I informed his son and his heir of what he 
had told me about having large amounts of jewellery with 
him, but to my surprise and rather to my distress his son told 
me that they found nothing except small amounts of cash. 
There are two possible solutions — first that if he had had the 
jewellery he had sold it at the end of the Second World War 
when he thought there was no immediate possibility of a tliird, 
or that it had vanished during the hours between his death and the 
official opening of Iris personal effects. 

To return to his miscalculations in 1914-15, in the fog of war 
the Alhes could not be expected to have any accurate knowledge 
either of Abbas Hilmi’s real views or intentions, or of tire way in 
which those intentions were frustrated. The result in Egypt, how- 
ever, was something near chaos; the confusion was deepest about 
Muslim opinion; and for the reasons which I have outlined it was 
essendal to maintain the internal security of Egypt. 

My mission, therefore, was to clarify and stabiHze opinion. 
I was asked to take a colleague with me, and I therefore tmned 
to an old and dear friend. Sir Abbas Ah Baig, who was then 
the Indian member of the permanent Comicil which advised the 
Secretary of State for India in London. We set off for Cairo as 
soon as we could; and we were received there with almost royal 
honom's. We were there as the official guests of the British 
Commander-in-Chief; and we addressed ourselves forthwith to a 
dehcate and difficult task, with many ramifications into many 
levels of Egyptian society. 

First there was the palace to be won over, or rather the principal 
personages in the Egyptian ruhng dynasty. There was the Sultan 
who had been nominated in Abbas Hhini’s absence; there was his 
brother, Prince Fuad, who later became King Fuad I, who had 
both German and Italian affihations; there were several other in- 
fluential princes, and most important of all the Sultan’s son who 
was married to the Kihedive’s sister. There were the Ulema, the 
MusUm divines who were the heads of Al Azhar University, the 

140 



IHii FlRSi WORLD \vAR 


great, intensely conservative and traditional theological school 
which is a centre of religious life not only in Egypt but for the 
whole of Islam. And there were the ordinary people of Egypt — 
the literate who sit in their cafes endlessly and eagerly discussing 
every edition of every newspaper, and the villagers and peasants, 
the Jellahin who from time immemorial have been the real source 
of Egypt’s strength. 

We conceived our task as one of explanation and exhortation. 
We had to convince those to whom we spoke, in private as well 
as in pubUc, that not only their interest but their duty, as good 
Muslims, lay in supporting and sustaining the cause of the Allies. 
I could, of course, speak with authority, from recent and personal 
knowledge; I pointed out that the Turks had had every possible 
chance of fair terms from the AlHes, that Great Britain and 
France were willing to exert all their influence on Russia to safe- 
guard Turkey’s interests for the future, and most important of all, 
that neutrality would have given Turkey that brcatlmg space she 
needed; while Europe was engaged on its grim process of self- 
destruction, Turkey would have had time to reorganize the whole 
loose, vast system of provincial administration, to concihate the 
increasing discontent of the Arab nationalists, and to carry out 
all those social, political, and economic reforms wliich would 
have strengthened and unified the Empire. All these advantages 
had been lost in a single gambler’s throw; gamblers, after all, are 
not winners, and history shows that pohtical punters have as 
little chance of success as punters on the race course or at the 
casino. 

Our mission produced the effects for which we had hoped. 
The internal stabiUty of Egypt throughout the First World War, 
and the assistance that this tranquillity gave to tlie Allies, were 
factors of notable and continuing importance right up to the time 
of General Allenby’s final victorious advance across Palestine and 
Syria to Aleppo and the foothills of the Anatolian mountains. 

From Egypt I made my way to India, having visited the Indian 
forces, already of considerable strength, who were encamped in 
the Canal Zone, having encouraged them (many, of course, were 
Muslims) and having exhorted them to do their duty, to fight 
loyally for the Kiing-Emperor, the sovereign to whose service 
they were boimd by oath. In India I realized — by the volume of 

141 



iHE M±iMUIRS Of AGA r>.HAN 


enthusiastic praise and thanks that greeted me, from the Viceroy 
downwards — that we had done a good job. One particularly 
agreeable personal consequence of tliis mission to Egypt was the 
strengthening of my afiection for Sir Abbas Ali Baig, who be- 
came and thenceforward remained one of my closest, Ufclong 
friends. In a new generation his sons, by the by, are no less dis- 
tinguished pubhc servants than he was; one is now Pakistan’s 
Minister in Moscow and the other, formerly permanent head 
of the Foreign Ofiice in Karachi, is now High Commissioner in 
Ottawa. 

Later in the year I went back to London, and once more was 
heartened by the sense of success in our mission in Egypt. The 
King himself, the Prime Minister, and other members of the 
Cabinet thanked me warmly, and I was genuinely gratified to 
feel that I had been of real service. 

In April 1916 His Majesty accorded me an honour of very 
special personal significance. He sanctioned the grant to me of a 
salute of eleven guns and the rank and precedence of a First-Class 
Ruling Prince of the Bombay Presidency. The end of the Indian 
Empire, and the vast poHtic^ and social changes consequent on 
that passing, have deprived tliis gesture of any contemporary 
meaning, but in the circumstances and conditions of 1916 it was 
a high honour and a most generous and thoughtful action on the 
part of the King. The salute granted to a ruHng prince, and the 
number of guns in it, was an important matter of precedence and 
prestige; there was only one previous instance of such a salute 
being granted to anyone who was not a territorial prince, and 
that was to Sir Salar Jung, the Prime Alinister of Hyderabad, 
who in 1 857 was chiefly responsible for keeping Central India and 
the Deccan loyal to British authority. The Times, coimnenting on 
this honour in a leader observed: “It has fallen to the Aga lOian 
to serve in vastly wider fields than Sir Salar Jung and to exert 
much more than local or provincial influence in a crisis of British 
rule even greater than that of the mutiny.” 

Inevitably sorrow and loss came, as the result of war, to myself 
and to my family, as to so many other families across the width of 
the world in those harsh times. My cousin, Aga Farrokh Shah, 
while engaged at my request on a political mission to the tribes 
and my own Ismaih followers in Kerman, was assassinated at the 

143 




With M.ihatiiu Gandhi and ^ 
Suoiiin Naidu m London dur 
the Round Table Confcicncc 
i')T 


Lvivin^ tlu Ftousi. ttt Lords wich 
die Mahaiaiali ol Ahsai (left) and 
Liait-Col StewaitPattcnon. Poli- 
tical ADC to the Sccrctars of 
Stito for India, aftui the inaugural 
sciuoii of the 1930 Round Table 
Confcieiice 




in±. J-JRSjt WOULU WAR 


instigation of German agents. Lidia’s losses on the battlefield in 
Flanders and in Mesopotamia were grievous. I myself was laid 
low with a difficult, painful, and protracted illness. Early in 1916 
I began to be aware of considerable ocular distress and difficulty; 
my pulse was extremely irregular, and although I was on no diet 
but was eating wcU I began to lose weight rapidly. A physician in 
Paris diagnosed my malady as Graves’ Disease, of which the 
symptoms were protrudhig eyes and a small goitre in the tlnoat. 
I went to Switzerland to the famous Dr. Kocher at Berne, who 
was the greatest contemporary authority on all forms of goitre, 
to see if my case was operable. After I had been rmder observation 
in a Swiss sanatorium for several weeks, I was told that it was 
inoperable. Frankly I seemed to be going downhill fast. For 
eighteen months and more I stayed in Switzerland, making no 
progress at all but rather deteriorating steadily. 

Suddenly the British Goverxunent took urgent and alarmed 
cognizance of what subsequently became known, in Swiss legal 
history, as the affair of the Lucerne bomb. The German Secret 
Service did not believe that I was really ill. They thought, how- 
ever, that their country’s cause would be well served were I put 
out of the way for good. They arranged to have a bomb thrown 
at me; and to make the operation certain of success they also 
arranged, with typical German thoroughness, to have my break- 
fast coffee poisoned. The bomb did not go off; I did not drink 
the coffee. For years after the war ended the Swiss painstakingly 
investigated the whole episode and the inquiry attained a good 
deal of notoriety at the time. In 1917, however, all that the 
British Government saw fit to do was to request me to leave 
Switzerland. So I retirmed to Paris. 

My host of friends there, including those of the American 
colony, to whom I have referred elsewhere, were tiioroughly 
shocked and alarmed; I was (so they told me later) in their view 
a lost case. For myself, I sriil kept hope — though it flickered 
feebly enough. It seemed to me that so many famous doctors had 
seen me in Switzerland and in France. All kinds of treatments, 
batteries of drugs, had been tried on me, to no avail. Then a 
Professor Pierremarie examined me, and produced a startlingly 
novel diagnosis. I had not been sufiering from goitre at all. He 
began a fresh line of treatment, and within a year I was thoroughly 

P 141 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA o^mAN 

on the mend. One effect remained, however, ui that my eyes 
never quite resumed their normal position. 

However, tliis long illness meant that I was of necessity with- 
drawn from all pubhc activity for more than three years, until 
the summer of 1919. 

It was a long seclusion which I ameliorated slightly in its later 
stages by writiitg a book, called India in Transition, which set 
forth my views on tlie future of India and of all South-east Asia, 
and to which I shall have occasion to refer subsequendy. 


144 



CHAPTER VII 


POST-WAR PROBLEMS IN INDIA, 
TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 


world to which I, restored at last to health and eager 
I to get back into harness again, emerged in that summer of 
-L 1919, had uirdergone vast and far-reaching changes m the 
tlirce years of my seclusion; tlie collapse of the Tsarist regime in 
Russia, and die passage granted by the Germans to Lenin and bis 
fellow-conspirators to let them loose hi their native land; the 
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk; the complete defeat of the Central Powers 
on all fronts in 1918; the abdication of the Kaiser and the end of 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the emergence of the mOitant 
Socialist revolutions in sundry European countries; in the Near 
and Middle East the end of the Ottoman Empire. President 
Wilson seemed in those months an almost apocalyptic figure of 
dehverance, with his doctrine of “self-determination” for all 
peoples. Everywhere the war had unleashed huge tides of politi- 
cal feeling wliich were not to be smoothed or subdued. 

The peacemakers assembled in Paris to contemplate with pro- 
foundly mingled and compUcated emotions, a world scene brist- 
ling with difficulties and dangers, an awe-inspiring chaos which 
the people of many nations looked to them to resolve imme- 
diately and tidily into an ordered millennium. Relief at the end 
of the long, bloodstained nightmare of the war mingled with a 
naive but vigorous optimism. Peace was to usher in an epoch of 
tmmarred poHtical, social, and economic tranquillity. Even so 
august a figure as my old friend, Lord Curzon, then Leader of 
the House of Lords, was affected by the prevailing mood, and in 
his speech in the House of Lords, in November 1918, announcing 
the Armistice, intoned with fervour Shelley’s lines which begia: 
“The world’s great age begins anew.” 

India was far firom unafiected by all that had happened. In 1917 

145 



iHil MuMOIRS UP AGA I'.HAN 

when the conflict was at its sternest, there was a general feeling in 
Britain, official and unofficial, that India’s contribution to the 
Empire’s war effort, the valour of her soldiers, the staunchness of 
her leaders and people, earned more than formal recognition. On 
the strong recommendation, therefore, of the Viceroy and of the 
Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, the Government 
on 20th August, 1917 pubhshed a statement of its aims in respect 
to India. 

“The pohcy of EEs Majesty’s Government,” said this state- 
ment, “is that of increasing association of Indians in every braneh 
of the administration and the gradual development of self- 
governing institutions with a view to the progressive reaUzation of 
responsible government in India as an integral part of the British 
Empire.” 

Tills was a momentous pronouncement. It marked the expHcit 
commitment of the then British Government and its successors to 
a radical departure from what, in conflict with the principles of 
the Act of 1 83 3 , had grown to be the basic and accepted purposes 
of British rule in India, hi the earher schemes of administrative 
reform, the Cross-Lansdowne proposals of the 1890s and the 
Morley-Minto reforms of the early 1900s, there had been no hint 
of any intention to transfer fundamental power and responsi- 
bility from British to Indian hands; self-government in India had 
never been mentioned. Now there it was in words that all could 
read. I have been told that in the original draft wliich went to 
the Cabinet the words “self-government” were used; Lord Curzon 
— of all people — changed them to “responsible government”. 
He thus made it inevitable that, when the constitutional reforms 
to implement the declaration were introduced, they took the 
pattern which came to be known as “dyarchy”; for the word 
“responsible” impEes in those who exercise it, responsibility to 
someone — to whom? To Governor or Viceroy, and thus to 
Britain and British Parliament, or to the Indian electorate and 
people? Dyarchy, workable compromise though it was some- 
times made, was bound to present this dilemma to ministers, 
both in the provinces and at the centre. It was the expression, in 
terms of practical and day-to-day administration, of that almost 
sclnzophrenic duality of outlook — that spht between ideal inten- 
tion and workaday appheation — which henceforth characterized 

146 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND cASi ArRICA 

the British attitude to India. Schizophrenia is not a basis for happy 
relations; in it however is to be found much of the explanation 
of the estrangement, deepening to embittered hostiHty, which 
ended only, and then with miraculous swiftness and complete- 
ness, with the final and total withdrawal of British rule in India. 

In 1919 aU this lay in the future, and I for my part was taken up 
with a wider, bolder vision in wliich — formulated first in my 
book, India in Transition — I sought to interest everyone who had 
any responsibility for Indo-British relations, principally, of course, 
Edwin Montagu, the Secretary of State. Edwin Montagu was a 
Jew, totally assimilated into the British pattern and way of life, 
briUiant and lovable, a member of that interlocked Montagu- 
Samuel-Isaacs Anglo-Jewish group of families which has made so 
notable a contribution to British Ufe in the past half-century. 

I was eager in 1919 that under British inspiration and guidance 
there should be built up a South Asian federation of self-govern- 
ing States extending from the Malayan peninsula to the confines 
of Egypt — a federation on what may loosely be termed Common- 
wealth lines, and witliin the framework of the British Empire 
(Commonwealth, of course, was a word which had not come 
into use in 1919). It seemed to me then — it still seems to me now 
— that this was then a feasible scheme and a better solution to 
world troubles than that adopted. Had the British Government 
accepted it, and had it been executed resolutely, I am certain that 
there would have developed in southern Asia a strong power — 
an association of powers — ^in wliich healthy democratic institu- 
tions would have evolved naturally and easUy, which would 
have provided effective support for Britain and (as it turned out) 
the United States and the Southern Dominions in an hour of 
grave need, and a permanent bulwark against aggression. 

In a measure, these proposals of mine were a fulfilment of and 
an extension of ideas and hopes which had been implanted in my 
mind during my years of close association with Gokhale. In the 
autumn of 1914 when I hastened back to London from Africa to 
make as effective a contribution as I could to the war effort, I 
was met by Gokhale, who, though extremely ill at the time 
with diabetes and constitutionally averse to London’s mild, foggy 
climate, had prolonged liis stay there in order to see me. Amid 
the pressure of a great deal of other work, we saw much of each 

147 



J,±1E MbMUIkS on AliA jiUAN 


Other and discussed freely and frankly all our hopes and fears for 
India. We strove to compose a draft memorandum which we 
intended to address to the Government embodying the very large 
measure of agreement which we had hammered out in our 
conversations. 

Early in 1915 Gokhale was dead. But before he died he com- 
pleted his pohtical testament which he addressed to me, with the 
request that I should make it pubHc in two years’ time, when 
(as he hoped) the war might be over and India capable of facing 
the supreme task of working out her own destiny. 

In due course I published Gokhalc’s testament as he bade; and 
on my ovm behalf I added a memorandum pleading that after 
the war East Africa might be reserved for Indian colonization and 
development m recognition of India’s war services. 

However, these were and are dreams of what might have been. 
History has taken a different road. The final scheme of reform, 
as it was promulgated in the Government of India Act of 1919, 
was very different, on a far smaller scale, and limited only to 
India. And, alas, it produced not the peaceful, gradual evolution, 
slow step by step, towards responsible government that had been 
hoped for, but instead a phase of extreme unrest and violent 
pohtical turbulence. Moderate, constitutional-minded leaders in 
Indian poHtics, such as my friends Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and 
Gokhale, were dead. A new generation sought for new methods 
of achieving much more far-reaching aims — and in a hurry. 

Even before Parhament considered the Government of India 
Bill, the situation in India had taken several turns for the worse. 
A conunittee set up under the chairmanship of Lord Justice 
Rowlatt to consider the juridical aspects of poHtical agitation, 
issued its report which recommended the estabhshment of special 
courts to deal with acts of sedition. The report had a hostile 
reception. The example of Ireland was not lost on India. Extrem- 
ism on both sides took charge. The Rowlatt Committee’s recom- 
mendations were accepted by Parliament; and as soon as the Bdl 
embodying them became law Congress declared a hartal, a 
general strike, in protest. As more than once during these harsh 
and distressing months, I urged restraint, not only on the part 
of my followers but of the Muslim community in general; less 
than a fortnight later, however, occurred the dreadful “Amritsar 

148 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

Incident” ^ wliich set back by many years any hope of construc- 
tive and abiding amity between Britain and Iiidia. 

The shock of tliis episode and the bitter memories it left beloind 
poisoned relations for years. I suppose that if I had been the sort 
of person to despair, I should have despaired then. But I was so 
actively engaged in seeking from the British Government a clear 
and honourable hne ot conduct on a matter involving the highest 
pohtical principles, that despair was a luxury for which I had 
neither the will nor the time. 

One effect of dyarchy was that it involved the transference ot 
a good deal of authority in internal matters in India from the 
centre to responsible officials in the provinces. The effects of a 
centrahzed bureaucracy were as notable in the India Office in 
London as they were in Simla or New Delhi. I was asked, there- 
fore, to be a member of a committee in London charged with the 
task of decentralizing and reorganizing the work of the India 
Office. It was mainly a matter of clearing some of the channels by 
which the Secretaiy' of State got his information and defended 
Ids department and himself in the eyes of those to whom he was 
ultimately responsible, the elected members of the British House 
of Commons. It was hard work, but it gave me a clear picture 
from the inside of the workings of the great administrative 
machine by which a modem State is conducted. 

It coincided, however, as I have indicated, with a period of 
strenuous poHtical activity, in which I directed my efforts mainly 
to trying to prevent the complete dismemberment of the Ottoman 
Empire, and to estabHshing a peace settlement in the Near and 
Middle East winch would not only be just and equitable but 
would be practical. 

I must, therefore, describe in some detail the background to the 
swirl of pohtical and diplomatic work in wliich I was caught up. 
One of the countless major questions wliich faced the victorious 
Powers in the immediate post-war period was: What was to be 
done about the Ottoman Empire, over vast regions of which the 
Allies were, by the end of 1918, in military Occupation? It was 
true that the Turks retained control of their own homeland, 
Anatoha, and of the liistoric, ancient capital, Constantinople, but 

^On 13th April 1919, 379 Indians were killed when shots were fired to 
disperse an unlawful gathering in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. 

149 



THE MEMOIRS OF AOA r.HAN 


from Tripolitaiiia in. the west to Kurdistan in the east, from north 
of Aleppo to Wadi Haifa, in enormous territories whose popula- 
tions, in a great diversity of races and culture but predominantly 
Muslim, had once owed allegiance to the Sultan of Turkey, the 
controlling authority was now an Allied Mihtary Governor. 

In the heat of war many promises of spoils in the hour of 
victory — spoils to be torn off the vanquished body of Turkey — 
had been made; few were by the beginning of 1919 capable of 
fulhlment, nearly all were irreconcilable one with another. The 
MacMahon letters, addressed by the acting High Commissioner 
in Egypt in 1915 to the Sharif Husain in Mecca, could not possibly 
be reconciled with the Balfour Declaration issued in 1917; both 
conflicted sharply with the Sykes-Picot agreement, by wliich 
Britain and France shared out huge areas of the Ottoman Empire 
as “spheres of influence”. The most flagrantly impossible under- 
taking of all was that Constantinople (since Tsarist Russia had 
retained an historic interest in what had once been the Graeco- 
Roman city of Byzantium) should be given to Russia. This at 
least could be ignored, since the Bolshevik leaders had made their 
own pe<ace arrangements with the Germans in the Treaty of 
Brest-Litovsk, and since the Soviet rdgime and the Western 
Allies were in a state of undisguised hostility. But for Turkey as a 
whole the hopes of a tolerable peace settlement looked slender. 

Almost all the British pohtical leaders who were to have any 
influence over the peace discussions were markedly anti-Tm'kish. 
Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, was a friend and admirer of 
Venizelos, the Greek leader; he saw certain similarities in liis- 
torical experience and outlook between Greece and his own 
Wales; he was therefore enthusiastically pro-Greek, and though 
not actively anti-Turkish he was quite indifferent to the fate of 
the Ottoman Empire. Arthur Balfour, the signatory of the letter 
to Lord Rotliscliild announcing that it was Britain’s intention to 
establish a National Home hi Palesthie for the Jews, was openly 
and actively pro-Zionist, and was also extremely prejudiced 
against the Turks Ihstorically and racially. 

Now Zionism, I may say in passing, was sometliing of which 
I had had long and by no means unsympathetic experience. My 
fliend of early and strenuous days in Bombay, Professor Haff- 
kinc, was a Zionist— as were many other brilliant and talented 

150 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

Russian Jews of his generation who escaped into Western Europe 
from the harsh and cruel conditions imposed upon tliem by 
Tsarist Russia. Haffkine, like many of the earher Zionists, hoped 
that some arrangement could be made with the Turkish Sultan 
whereby peaceful Jewish settlement could be progressively under- 
taken in the Holy Land — a settlement of a limited number of 
Jews from Europe (mainly from the densely populated areas then 
under Russian rule) in agricultural and peasant holdings; the 
capital was to be provided by wealthier members of the Jewish 
community, and the land w'ould be obtained by purchase from 
the Sultan’s subjects. As Haffkine propoimded it, I thought this 
sort of Zionism useful and practical. It contained no liint, of 
course, of the estabhshment of a Jewish National State, and it 
seemed to me worth putting before the Turkish authorities. 
There were, after all, precedents for population resettlement of 
this kind within the Ottoman Empire, notably the Circassians — 
of Muslim faith, but of purely European blood — who were 
estabUshed with excellent results by Abdul Hamid in villages in 
what is today the Kingdom of Jordan. Abdul Hamid could well 
have done with the friendship and alhance of world Jewry, and 
on the broader grotmd of principle, there is every natural reason 
for the Jews and the Arabs, two Semitic peoples with a great deal 
in common, to be close friends ratlier than the bitter enemies 
winch unfortunately for both sides the events of tlie past thirty 
years or so have made them. In furtherance of what was then a 
shared interest in Zionism, when I first went to Paris in 1898, 
Haffkine gave me letters of introduction to a number of his 
Jewish friends including the savant and Rabbi Zadek Kahn,^ and 
through liim I met the famous Baron Edmond de Rothschild. 
Baron Edmond was a princely benefactor of the early Zionist 
experiments; many of the first settlements in Palestine were 
financed by him and owed their ultimate prosperity to his gener- 
ous support and interest. When I called on him I was introduced 
to his two sons, James, then an undergraduate at Cambridge, and 

^ There arc sometimes complications in nomenclature. Long afterwards in 
London I was introduced to a well-known American society woman by a 
friend of mine simply as “Aga Eian” witli no titles and no further explanation. 
Brightly smiling, die lady said that she was a great friend of my brother, Otto 
Kahn of New York’s Metropolitan Opera House! 



THE MEMOIRS Of AGA x^i-lAN 

Maurice, a boy in the uniform of a naval cadet. Baron Edmond 
remained my friend until liis death; and ior well over fifty years 
now both James Rothschild and Baron Maurice de Rothschild 
have been good and close friends of mine. 

Rabbi Kahn prepared a statement of bis and bis friends’ ideas 
on Jewish settlement in Palestine. It was an elaborate plan for 
colonization on a scale and in a manner which would have helped 
and strengthened Turkey; and one of its most logical claims to 
consideration was that the Ottoman Empbe was not a national 
State but was multi-national and multi-racial. With the Rabbi’s 
proposal I made my approaches to Abdul Hamid through Munir 
Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador in Paris, and through Izzet Bey, 
the Sultan’s confidential secretary. However, the scheme, good or 
bad as it may have been, was turned down by the Sultan, and I 
heard no more of it. I must say its rejection has always seemed to 
me one of Abdul Hamid’s greatest blunders. 

But just as tire defeated Turkey of 1917-18 was a different 
country from the Ottoman Empbe of the nineties, so the 
Zionism of 1917-18 and onwards was, of course, a very dificrent 
matter. And the Zionists were only one group among many, 
anxious to extract all they could from the carve-up of Turkey. 
Arab nationalism was hardly less strongly in the ascendant, and it 
possessed many powerful friends and zealous advocates in and 
near the British Government. Sb Gilbert Clayton, T. E. Lawrence, 
and many other so-called “political officers” who had served in. 
the Middle East had — I must say, from my own knowledge — 
encouraged Arab nationahsm in and out of season, sometimes 
openly and sometimes secretly, long before the fall of Turkey. 
The British had aheady established a military admbbstration in* 
Palestine. The French advanced the remarkable claim that they 
had an lustoric right to protect the Holy Places in Jerusalem. 
The Greeks, encouraged by another group of romantic, pbllhel- 
lene Englislimen, were in a mood of dangerous expansionism. 
And at the very heart of real power in the Peace Conference, 
Clemenceau had no love for the Turks; and President Wilson, 
in the one interview which I had with him, frankly a dm itted 
that he really knew very Httle about the whole problem. 

Almost the only support, therefore, on the side of the victors 
that Turkey could muster was Indian. The greater part of Muslim 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

interest in India in the fate of Turkey was natural and spontaneous 
and there was a considerable element of sincere non-Muslim 
agitation, the object ol which, apart from the natural revolt of any 
organized Asiatic body against the idea of European imperiahsm, 
was further to consolidate and strengthen Indian nationalism in 
its struggle against the British. 

The reasons for Muslim concern were profound and historic. 
Turkey stood almost alone m the world of that time as the sole 
surviving independent Mushm nation, with all its shortcomuigs, 
the imperial regime in Constantinople \vas a visible and enduring 
reminder of the temporal greamess of Islam’s achievements. In 
the Cahphate there was, too, for all of the Sunni sect or persua- 
sion, a spiritual link of the utmost significance. As the war drew to 
its close anxiety had intensified in India in regard to the safety 
of the Holy Places of Islam and the future of the Caliphate. 
Gandhi, who had succeeded my old and dear friend, Gokhale, as 
leader of Congress poHtical movement and organization, shrewdly 
seized what he saw to be a chance of maintahimg and heightening 
anti-British sentiment tliroughout the whole subcontinent. The 
storm of agitation that swept India on this issue was formidable. 
The Indian delegates at the Peace Conference, the Maharajah of 
Bikaner and Lord Sinha, heartily and sincerely supported by 
Edwin Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, made an 
emphatic protest against the various proposals for the partition 
of Turkey and the p>raccical dissolution of the CaHphate that were 
being eagerly canvassed around and about the Conference. 

It bad been decided to settle the fate of defeated Germany first. 
Tills thorny task was accomplished in considerable haste, and the 
Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th Jime, 1919. Thereafter, 
protracted discussions continued about the treatment of the other 
vanquished nations. My ftiend Syed Amir AH and I began an 
energetic campaign to put the real issues, so far as Turkey was 
concerned, before British, and indeed world public opinion. I had 
private interviews with numerous influential statesmen, together 
we wrote long letters to The Times; on every possible pubHc and 
private occasion we made our views known. 

We drew vigorous attention to certain specific pledges given 
by the Prime Minister, and in a letter to The Times quoted these 
pledges verbadm: 

15 ^ 



THE MEMOIRS Of AGA ^^ilAN 

We are not figliting [Lloyd George had said] to deprive Turkey 
of its capital or of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and 
Thrace. While we do not challeirge the maintenance of the Turkish 
Empire in the homelands of the Turkish race with its capital at 
Constantinople, the passage between the Mediterranean and the 
Black Sea being internationalized and neutralized, Arabia, Armenia, 
Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine are in our judgment entitled to a 
recognition of their separate national condition. 

We tried to sum up the outlook of those for whom we knew 
we had a right to speak. 

What do the Muslims want? What do wc plead for? Neither 
they nor we ask for any new status for Turkey. Wc consider it, 
however, our duty to urge, for the fair name of England, nay of 
the British Empire, that the pledge the Prime Minister in the name 
of Englaiad gave to the world, and in particular to the world of 
Islam, should be maintained; and that the Turkish sovereign, as the 
Cahph of the vast Sunni congregation, should be left in absolute 
possession of Constantinople, Tlirace, and Asia Minor stretching 
from the nortli of Syria proper along the Aegean coast to the Black 
Sea — a region predominantly Turkish in race. It would in our 
opinion be a cruel act of injustice to wrench any portion of this 
tract from Turkish sovereignty to satisfy the ambitions of any other 
people. Instead of bringing peace to Western Asia, such a settlement 
will sow the seeds of constant wars, the effect of which cannot be 
expected to remain confined to the country where they happen 
to be waged. For the defection of the adventurers who dragged 
their stricken people, who had already undergone great misery, into 
the world war, Turkey has been sufficiently punished by the secular 
expropriation of some of her richest provinces. But we submit 
that the maintenance of the Ottoman sovereign’s spiritual suzerainty 
in these countries, whilst maintaining ids prestige and thus conciliat- 
ing Muslim feeling, would be tire means of making the position of 
tlie Muslim rulers or governors of those countries unimpugnable. 
But so far as Thrace, Constantinople, and the homelands of the 
Turkish race are concerned, Muslim feeling is absolutely opposed 
to any interference under any shape witli the Sultan’s sovereignty. 

In India itself, as the months wore on, and as the time came 
near for signing a Treaty with Turkey, the agitation grew to 
such proportions and was of so unanimous a character as gravely 
to worry the Viceroy, Lord Chehnsford, and the Secretary of 



POSl-WAR PROBLtMS — INDIA, iURixEY, AND tASl AFRICA 

State, Edwin Montagu (whose personal sympathies, as I well 
knew, were warmly engaged on the Turkish or Asiatic side). 
Most of all they were disturbed at the thought that the Montagu- 
Chelmsford reforms, on wliich such high hopes had been pinned, 
were to be launched in practice into tliis atmosphere of turbu- 
lence and hostihty. 

In the Viceroy’s Legislative Council it was proposed that I 
should be sent to London as the leader of a deputation to the 
Prime Minister, representing the views, not only of Mushms but 
of the whole articulate population of India. 

The other members of the deputation w^ere; the President of 
the Khilafat movement, Mr. Chatani; one of India’s most eminent 
advocates, Hassan Imam; and Dr. Ansari, a leading member of 
Congress. Lloyd George saw us, but we reahzed that our mission 
was doomed to failure, for meanwhile the Turkish Treaty, known 
to history as the Treaty of Sevres, was being prepared, with 
strangely little regard for the realities wliich, witliin a few years, 
were to shape the Near East anew. The unfortunate Saltan was 
tmder rigorous supervision, a solitary and helpless prisoner in Con- 
stantinople. Turkish, Arab, and Greek deputations were hurrying 
backwards and forwards between the Mediterranean and London. 
Sometimes tlieir arguments were listened to; often they were not. 
The Treaty of Sevres was to be an imposed, not a negotiated, 
treaty. 

Constantinople was at first promised to the Greeks, then this 
promise was taken back. It was at last decided that Thrace and 
Adrianople in European Turkey should be Greek, and Smyrna in 
Asia Minor. Turkey was reduced to a sort of “rump” State in the 
higldands of Asia Minor, with a strip of coastline along the Black 
Sea. There was even talk of an independent, sovereign State of 
Armenia in the far North-east — ^if the Russians could be per- 
suaded to stomach it. Some sort of order was hacked out of all 
these conflicting claims. In August 1920 the hapless Turkish repre- 
sentatives appended their signatures to the document which 
embodied them all. 

This concluded in a sense the first phase of my own campaign 
for a just treatment of defeated Turkey. Before I record the 
events of the second phase which rapidly followed, it may be 
proper to consider what was the eflfect of the decisions which the 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA kuAN 


peacemaking politicians took in I9i9“20, in stubborn and bland 
disregard of the advice which we proffered to them. 

Mushm opposition to the break-up of the Turkish Empire liad 
a basis — however much misunderstood it may have been — of true 
statesmanship and of understanding of the absorbing political 
reahties of the Middle East. First, we felt tliat the separation of the 
Arabs from the Turks (hailed at the time as emancipation from a 
tyranny, although within a few years all Arab nationalists were 
singing a very different tune) would not lead to the emergence of 
a single strong Arab nation extending from Egypt to Persia and 
from Alexandretta to Aden and the Indian Ocean. We foresaw 
in large measure what actually happened; the formation of a 
number of small Arab nations, for many years of httle more than 
colonial status, mider British and French overlordship. We pre- 
dicted that the Arabs would in fact merely be changing masters, 
and where these masters had been Muslim Turks they would now 
be Christians, or (as ultimately happened in a large part of Pales- 
tine) Jews. Even now, after the lapse of thirty years or more, the 
Arala States that succeeded the Ottoman Empire — though the 
ignominious protectorate and mandated status has been abolished 
— are nothing but an aggregation of small kingdoms and repub- 
lics, not one of them capable of standing up alone in the face of 
any powerful opposition and, despite the Arab League, incapable 
of maintaining either individually or collectively real resistance 
to the influence either of Soviet Russia or tlie Western Democra- 
cies. Neutrality in any conflict between these two is a forlorn 
dream. 

Consider for a moment how different matters might have been 
had there emerged after the First World War a federal union of 
Turkey, the Arab States of the Middle East, and Egypt, with a 
single defence force and a united foreign poHcy. Our instinctive 
Muslim faith in die idea of the continuance of Turkey as a Great 
Power had wisdom in it, for it would have achieved practical 
results, in the security and the stability of the Middle East, far 
transcending anything that the makesliift, haphazard poHcics of 
the years since the end of the Second World War — piecemeal 
withdrawal of political suzerainty by Britain, piecemeal financial, 
economic, and military aid by die United States have been able 
to effect Consider the disruption and the political malaise which 

IS6 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS— INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

have been the lot of the Middle East in recent years; consider all 
the unavailing effort that has gone into the attempt to build up a 
Middle East Defence Organization, in any degree paralleling 
N. A.T.O., and ponder how easily, how honourably all this might 
have been avoided. 

It is, however, no use cryuig over spilt nnlk. The victors of 
World War I, rmlike the victors of World War II, were intoxi- 
cated with their triumph and the sense of their owm victory, and 
beheved that they could build a brave new world according to 
their hearts’ desire. History was as tragically as categorically to 
give the He to that bcHef. 

The Treaty ol Sevres, harsh though it was, was practically still- 
born. Even by the following spring of 1921 events Ixad overtaken 
it, and it was obvious that it must be urgently reconsidered. A 
new conference was called in London. At the Viceroy’s request I 
put the Muslim point of view to this gathering. Its sittings, how- 
ever, proved abortive. For what everyone in West and East aHke 
had ignored was the emergence — from the ruin of Turkey — of a 
soldier and statesman of genius, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who in 
the time of their deepest tribulation had raUied his sorely stricken 
but indomitable people. Denied access to Constantinople, he had 
set up a provisional capital at Angora — now Ankara — high on the 
Anatohan plateau; he had rebuilt, re-equipped, and retrained the 
shattered Turkish Army. Having obtained a secret understanding 
with Russia, he could arm his troops, and he was assured of pro- 
tection in his rear. He was thus prepared to defend his country’s 
cause, not around some distant conference table, but in his home- 
land and on the field of battle. Few were at first aware of the 
magnitude of this new development. 

The Greeks who, being nearest of all to tlie scene, should have 
known most, were blinded by their own lust for military victory 
and territorial expansion. Taking exception to the establishment 
of the Turkish Provisional Government in Angora, they began an 
ambitious, grandiose, and, as it proved, utterly disastrous series of 
military operations in Asia Minor. 

To add to the compHcations, the British Government became 
restive over tlieir demands for the release of certain British 
prisoners held in Turkey. Over this, at least, I was able by direct 
intervention and a direct appeal to the new Turkish authorities, 

IS? 



THE MEMOIBS Of AOA fvHAN 


to secure a certain relief in an increasingly critical situation. The 
Tru'ks released the prisoners, and this crisis blew over. 

By the late summer of 1923, however, the prospect looked 
blacker than ever. Mustafa Kenial’s tattered but vaHant armies had 
stood at bay in their own hill country, had stemmed the tide of 
Greek invasion, and now were in the full flush of victorious 
advance. They captured Smyrna, the great Graeco-Levantine port 
on the coast of Asia Minor, put it to the sack, and before the eyes 
of the crews of Allied warships lying in the harbour set whole 
areas of it on fire. It was the Greek army now which was a 
tattered, defeated renuiant in flight. Mustafa Kemal’s forces stood 
at the gates of Constantinople, and demanded the right of free, 
unimpeded passage to reoccupy Thrace and Adrianople. 

The whole situation was both ominous and confused. A mixed 
Aflied mihtary force, under tire command of a British general. 
Sir Charles Harington, held Chanak and the approaches to Con- 
stantinople, which the Turks had already renamed Istanbul. A 
vigilaiat, cautious but resolute man, Harington awaited orders 
from London. A single reckless or unconsidered action on his part, 
even a stray shot developing into a fusillade, might precipitate a 
general conflict a Uttle less than four years after the cease-fire at the 
end of the First World War. But the character of the military 
commander on the spot was not the only factor in tliis grave and 
delicate crisis. The British Government were in a curiously un- 
realistic and belHcose mood. A long, trying period of industrial 
unrest, with a protracted coal strike and a huge roll of unemployed 
had been succeeded by the difl&cult and involved negotiations 
wliich ended the worst of the “troubles” in Ireland and were 
clinched by the signature of the Irish Treaty. But Lloyd George’s 
second coalition Government, returned to power with a huge 
majority in the “coupon” Election of 1918, had run its course. 
The Liberals had never really forgiven Lloyd George for his 
brusque ousting of Asquith in December 1916, in the central 
political crisis of the war. The Conservatives supphed the bulk of 
his Parliamentary support, but they were becoming increasingly 
restive and suspicious of the Prime Mirdster’s incurable pohtied 
adventurism. Did he tliink that in the Chanak crisis, as it was 
called, he perceived an opportunity to end the dissension and 
dissolution in the ranks of his supporters, to prevent liis own 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS— INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST APRICA 

increasing isolation, and to rally Parliament and people behind 
liim in a great united effort? Was it a gambler’s throw or was it 
gross miscalculation? 

I was in London when the crisis was at its worst, and I exerted 
every effort to prevent it culminating in what I knew would be a 
disastrous as well as an imjust war. This time I was not fighting 
a soUtary battle against an overwhelming tide of contrary opinion. 
Now I had powerful allies and supporters. The columns of The 
Times, as so often in my public career, were open to me. The first 
Lord Rothermere, wdro had just assumed personal control of the 
group of newspapers built up by his brother. Viscount North- 
chffe, was my staunch supporter. And Lord Beaverbrook, the 
man by whose influence and eager advocacy exercised at the right 
moment Lloyd George had come to supreme power as Prime 
Minister in 1916, was now as sincerely convinced that Lloyd 
George was set on a course that would bring nothing but suffering 
and hardship. However, the first concern was not to encompass 
Lloyd George’s fall, but to prevent — of all unnecessary w^ars — the 
most unnecessary that could ever have been waged. 

Early in September the British Government issued a statement 
on Chanak wliich was both pugnacious and injudicious, and 
ended with an appeal to the Dominions for their help in the event 
of another war with Turkey. The tone of this pronouncement 
thoroughly alarmed British public opinion, wliich was in no 
mood to contemplate all the pain, and sacrifice bivolvcd in another 
war in support of wliat could only be described as Greek intransi- 
gence and stubbornness. Protests were loud from all sides. The 
faction that was pro-Govemment and pliilhellene had only one 
strong card to play, and tliis was that Turkish forces were already 
almost in contact with the AlUed — predominantly British — 
Occupying forces in the Straits and Constantinople area. 
General Harington on liis side was quietly determined to avoid 
any action wliich might involve his slender forces and commit 
them to any form of hostiHties with the veteran, tough, and 
resolute forces which Mustafa Kcmal had already deployed with 
skill. On the other hand I, at the earnest request of my friend, 
Lord Derby w^as able to get in touch with the Turkish leaders 

^ We met, I remember, at Newmarket, and Lord Derby asked me to use 
ah tbe influence which I possessei 


ISO 



IHJ; MinMOlRS Ur AGA j>.JlAN 


and point out the grave perils inherent in any attack on the AlHed 
forces; and I assured them that, pending a provisional settlement, 
their troops’ strategic position would not in any way be pre- 
judiced if they abstained from any offensive action. I pressed these 
considerations on my Turkish friends with all the urgency I could 
command. I am glad to say that sanity prevailed. An important 
contributory factor was that France had come to a secret under- 
standing with Kcmal and his Government; and French influence 
exerted by Monsieur Raymond Poincare was aU for a peaceful 
settlement. The decision for war could only have been a rushed 
one; once British pubHc opinion had time to ponder the issues it 
could crystallize arid express itself, and it was firmly for peace. 
The very real menace of another war in the Middle East was 
averted. 

A vivid account of the handling of this crisis has been given by 
Lord Beaverbrook.^ Throughout it Lord Beaverbrook was as 
active as he was staunch. Seriously worried by the drift in affairs, 
he often discussed tliis matter with me. I was happy to see that 
we were in full agreement, and that in all my endeavours to assist 
the Turks I had his moral support. He, too, had reached the 
eminently sound and practical conclusion that “for Britain to 
fight Turkey in pursuance of the exploded policy of supporting 
Greek imperiahsm was a monstrous error which must be avoided 
at all costs”. Beaverbrook sought the support of liis friend and 
feUow-Canadian, Bonar Law, then leader of the Conservative 
Party, wliich suppHed the bulk of the Govermnent’s voting 
strength in the House of Commons. 

Beaverbrook’s words to Bonar Law were blunt. “These men 
mean war,” he said. 

Those four words spelled doom for Lloyd George’s Coahtion 
Government. A meeting of the Conservative Party was held at 
the Carlton Club, the Party’s great socio-pohtical stronghold; the 
speech that swayed the meeting and brought about its decision to 
widrdraw support from Lloyd George was made not by Bonar 
Law, who was already an extremely sick man, but by a compara- 
tively unknown back-bench M.P. named Stanley Baldwin, who 
less than a year later was to succeed Bonar Law as Prime Minister. 

Lord Beaverbrook maintained his onslaught on the pro-Greek, 
1 In Politicians and the Press. 



I-OST-AVAR REOBLEMS— INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

anti-Turkish policy of the Coalition Government, On i6th 
December 1922, the day after the House of Commons had 
adjourned for the Cliristmas recess, the Dtiily Express gave a 
sensationally detailed account of the happenings of the previous 
September. It said that -within ten days of the fall of Smyrna, 
when the Greek rout had aheady begun and it had been recog- 
nized by the Greek Government in Athens that their military 
position in Asia Minor was hopeless, Lloyd George encouraged 
them to continue fighting. Lloyd George (said the Daily Express) 
took this step after having had inquiries made by his principal 
private secretary, Sir Edward Grigg,^ of someone attached to the 
Greek Legation, who had said that the Greek army could not 
possibly hold out longer without active British assistance in 
munitions and in credit. On 2nd September, the Daily Express 
went on, when the Athens Government appealed to Lloyd George 
to arrange an armistice, another of liis private secretaries tele- 
phoned the Greek Legation advising them that “their government 
should be very carefid to avoid the mistake made by the Germans 
in 1918 andnot conclude an abject armistice in a moment of panic”. 

Lloyd George never returned to office. In spite of our difference 
over Turkey, I am glad to think that he and I, even as late as 
1940, when he came and lunched with me at Antibes, remained 
on terms of firm and sincere friendship until the very end of his 
life. Lloyd George was a man of infinitely compelling charm. 
His efiectivc career as a pohtician was short, from 1905 to 1922. 
Its brevity may be explicable in terms of his personahty, which 
was like a diamond cut in many facets; every facet had a brilhant 
Hght to throw out, but their number and their variety were so 
great that often contradictions occurred. There was only one 
phase in his life in which these contradictions and conflicts were 
resolved, and he appeared — and was — ^wholly consistent; this of 
course was during his first two years as Prime Minister, from 
1916 to 1918 — a period of supreme effort and greatness. Then, in 
spite of all the efforts of his critics to belittle him, he was as much 
“the man who won the war” as his great successor Churchill was 
in the Second World War. With the exception of tliat one 
triumphant phase, the brilliant and powerful many-sidedness of 
Lloyd George’s character prevented him from influencing the 
t Now Lord Altriacham. 

i6r 



THE MEMOIRS Ul- AGA ivJtiAN 

history of liis time to the extent which his talents — liis imagina- 
tion, his practical capabihtics, and his intellectual superiority — 
gave his admirers (such as myself) every hope to expect. As one 
of the Big Four who formulated the Treaty of Versailles he was 
convinced — a conviction which I fully shared — that he would 
have used the power over Germany which under its terms was 
given to the victorious nations in a very different manner from 
that employed by his less imaginative and competent successors. 

Of all the statesmen of that time whom I knew, Lloyd George 
alone, I feel sure, was capable of evoking and sustaining in the 
Weimar Repubhc in Germany of the late 1920s and early 1930s, 
that self-respect and that genuine understandmg and use of 
democratic institutions wliich could have saved it and the world 
from Adolf Hider and the Second World War. But, alas, by then 
the volcano was exhausted, not by its mtemal weakiress but by 
its brilHance. The views which I have expressed here about Lloyd 
George and Germany were shared, I know, by Lord D’Abemon 
with all Ins profound knowledge and experience of Germany. 

For myself an eventful period of close association with the 
politics and diplomacy of the Middle East in general and Turkey 
in particular drew to a close. The first abortive Lausanne Con- 
ference was followed by a second, more fruitful, during which I 
held what may be described as a watcliing brief. Britain’s new 
Conservative Government was represented by Lord Curzon, the 
Foreign Secretary; the Turks sent a strong and capable delegation. 
Britain’s mood was reaUstic and sensible. It was decided to accept 
the facts, to give dejure as well as de facto recognition to the new 
Turkey, and to let this revived and vigorous State retam not 
merely its homeland in Anatoha, and the sea coast of Asia Minor, 
but also Tlirace, Adrianople, and Istanbul. Along these lines agree- 
ment was reached, and the Treaty of Lausanne signed. Sub- 
sequently the Montreux Convention regularized arrangements 
for dealing with the passage of international sliipping through the 
Dardanelles, 

It might be possible to construe all tins as a diplomatic defeat 
for Britain, but what in fact were its main results? A long period 
of growing harmony and imderstanding between Britain and 
Turkey; and a Brito-Turkish relationship in the Second World 
War which, despite the severe strain put upon it, was of great 



POST-WAR PROBLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

assistance to Britain and her allies. Think, too, what might have 
happened had Turkey been rebuffed once more: Russia would 
long since have been installed in Istanbul and, if not in Smyrna 
itself, along the coast to the north, with her ships and aircraft 
ranging far out into the Mediterranean. The statesmen of the 
West, heady with the sense of their own pohtical and military 
power, would have brought about endless complications and 
misery in an important and sensitive region; destiny and Iristory 
itself, tugging the other way, gave Asia Minor years of tranquil 
development and reorganization, social, economic, and spiritual. 
A complement to and a striking contrast with the new Turkey’s 
experience was that of the Arab States in tliis same epoch — a story 
of division and weakness, of active nationahst elements in the 
various countries in constant conflict with Britain and France, 
and of a relatively submissive minority, installed in office, and 
therefore loyal to tlieir British or French masters. Such in brief 
was the history of the Near East from the rise of Ataturk to the 
outbreak of the Second World War. Of all that happened m 
those sad and troublous years I was a spectator — occasionally in 
the columns of The Times a critic — but thenceforward I ceased to 
be, as I had so long been, an active participant. 

***** 

One other pofitical issue of some complexity and importance 
to whichl devoted a good deal of time and interest in those imme- 
diate post-war years was the question of Indians in East Africa, 
especially in the rapidly developing colony of Kenya. As I have 
narrated in earUer chapters there had long been established Indian 
settlements along the coastline of East Africa; these settlements 
contained a considerable and growing number of my own IsmaUi 
followers, who contributed an influential and stabilizing element 
to the community, hr Kenya, where in the 1950s race relations 
became a political issue of the most crucial significance, there 
were already clear signs, thirty years ago, of the dangers that were 
looming ahead. In the so-called “White Highlands” of Kenya 
there was a rapidly developing area of European — ^predominantly 
British — setdement, on the high rolling plateaux which lie 
between the coastal belt and the Rift Valley and Africa’s great 
lakes, and constitute a temperate region in equatorial latitudes, 

i6a 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA j^HAN 

fertile, climatically agreeable, and eminently suitable to intensive 
agricultural development. The whole of Kenya was administered 
by the British Colonial Office, as a Crown Colony. The British 
settlers whose luiofficial leader was Lord Delamere, a talented and 
highly individuahstic EngUsh peer, had of recent years been 
demanding an increasing measure of self-government for them- 
selves. They differed from the usual British community in a 
tropical country, in that they were settlers, and that they intended 
to make — and ffid make — Kenya their permanent home, bringing 
up their cliildren there, and not merely Hving there for short 
tours of duty, as did (in general) British officials, traders, and 
planters hi India, the Far East, and West Africa. But the Indians, 
rapidly growing in numbers, saw hi the settlers’ agitation for 
self-government the imposition of racial, “white” supremacy, 
and their own permanent political and social exclusion and sub- 
jugation. They in their turn demanded complete political and 
electoral equality. The Colonial Office officials wavered; and they 
were not themselves competent to take the effective decisions, 
wliich were made in Whitehall and Downing Street. At no time 
has it been possible for Kenya to setde its own destiny for itself; 
all Kenya’s problems have been subject to outside mterference and 
influence and — in the final analysis— external decision. 

The end of die First World War had seen in Kenya as elsewhere 
a release of pent-up and sharply conflicting poHtical ambitions and 
emotions. The British electorate and its representatives in the 
House of Commons were — although theirs was the final say in 
Kenya’s affairs — in the great majority massively ignorant of 
Kenya’s problems. From 1920 onwards a series of decisions was 
made within the Colonial Office in respect of Kenya; each new 
decision appeared to cancel its predecessor. Matters were not 
helped by die fact that there were several Governors of Kenya 
and several Secretaries of State for the Colonies within a very 
few years. By the end of 1922 and the beginning of 1923 the situa- 
tion in Kenya was confused and inflammatory. So strong were the 
sentiments of the British setders that they had estabhshed a mfli- 
tant, secret organization of their own with which — ^in the event 
of the British Government deciding, as they thought, against 
them — ^they proposed to take over the administration of the 
country, Indian opinion, both in Kenya and at home, was gready 

164 



POST-WAR PROJJLEMS — INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

agitated. It is fair to say, however, that even in the period of 
greatest tension no single incident of violence, involving a Euro- 
pean and an Asiatic, was recorded in Kenya; the communities in 
spite of the deep political gulf between them, remained on good 
personal terms. 

To me the whole situation — had I not in my addendum to my 
friend Gokhale’s poHtical statement suggested that East Africa be 
set aside for Indian colomzation? — ^was deplorable. I took my 
customary step of making my views known in a letter to The 
Times. The immediate danger as I saw it was that a few hotheads 
might commit acts that would affect the mind and imagination of 
Indians, not only there and then but all over India and far into the 
future. In particular, I urged that if the settlers really accepted the 
view that the British Empire of the future (we still had not 
evolved the concept of the Commonwealth, but we were moving 
rapidly towards it) was to be a truly co-operative association 
between men of all races and creeds and customs, then indeed in 
East Africa more than anywhere else in the Empire they should 
use their full influence and power to bring about a better general 
feeling, and wholeheartedly accept the fact tliat, short-term feel- 
ings apart, in the long run their own interests made it neccssar)’ 
that the Indian community in Kenya should be as prosperous and 
as happy as it was large. 

The Government of India was fully aUve to the dangers of the 
whole situation. Lord Reading, the Viceroy, Lord Peel, the 
Secretary of State, and Sir Tej Bahadur Saprti, who was one of 
India’s representatives at the Imperial Conference of 1923, urged 
that there should be a conference — or if necessary a number of 
conferences — between representatives of India and all concerned 
with the administration of colonial territories such as Kenya, 
Uganda, and Fiji where there was any sizeable element of Indian 
settlement, to establish the political rights and responsibilities of 
Indians in those regions. 

Faced with tlois cogent and powerful request, faced too with the 
grim possibility of armed rebelKon by British settlers in a Crown 
Colony, tlie British Government was by now far from unaware 
of the urgent need for action that would end the dispute. In this 
somewhat explosive atmosphere I was asked by the Government 
of India if I would lead the Indian delegation to a cominittec 

ids 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA i.HAN 

under the chairmanship of Lord Zetland, charged with the task of 
finding a solution to the whole deHcatc and difficult problem. 

By the time we were appointed. Lord Zetland had become a 
member of Mr. Baldwin’s short-lived first Government. I was 
asked to take the cliair, but I felt that since I was a party to the 
dispute and the chief spokesman of the Indian viewpoint, it would 
be unforttmate for me to be Chairman of the Committee. We 
therefore had as our Chairman Mr. J. Hope Simpson, M.P.; the 
other members, besides myself, were Sir Benjamin Robertson, 
a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council who had paid an 
official visit to Kenya in 1920, Diwan Bahadur T. Rangachariar, 
and Mr. K. C. Roy. We began our work in April and finished it 
in July; and by August of that year, 1924, a Labour Government 
— Britain’s first — was in office, and when our report was pre- 
sented to the House of Commons, the Adinister who presented it 
was Mr. J. H. Thomas, the new Secretary of State for the Colonies. 

Jim Thomas and I became fast friends and remained so to the 
end of liis life. I never befieved that, in the unhappy affair which 
cut short his political career, he acted otherwise than in good 
faith. His open and genial nature may have landed him in a 
difficult and distressing situation, from winch the only way out — 
resignation — was the one which he took unhesitatingly. Jim 
Thomas was a great-hearted man, of fine and generous feelings, 
whom I always admired and respected. 

Though we had spent many weeks of that summer in com- 
mittee rooms in the India Office and in long discussions with the 
Colonial Office, our discussions did not receive the seal or hall- 
mark of any Act of Parhament embodying our suggestions and 
recommendations. Yet they had, I think, as a compromise, their 
own genuine value; true, they were only half-measures, but they 
were all that we had either the power or the authority to 
recommend. 

Of one fact my years in public life have convinced me; that the 
value of a compromise is tliat it can supply a bridge across a 
difficult period, and later having employed that bridge it is often 
possible to bring into effect the full-scale measures of reform 
which, originally, would have been rejected out of hand. 

On the questions of electoral equahty and of unrestricted setde- 
ment in the higlilands there was no change; Delamere and his 



I>OST-WAI( PROBLEMS — ^INDIA, TURKEY, AND EAST AFRICA 

friends held their position. But on inunigration we secured the 
abandonment of an offensive Ordinance which the Kenya 
Government had already adopted and which would virtually have 
put an end to Indian immigration into East Africa; the Secretary 
of State, however, retained the right to enact any measure at any 
time should African interests appear to be threatened by the irrflux 
of immigrants from abroad. Mr. Thomas announced that certain 
districts in the coastal lowlands were to be reserved for agricul- 
tural immigrants from India. These were to some extent gains. 
But it was obvious then, and it is obvious now, that logicality and 
permanence are impossible of attainment in the whole difficult 
and complex racial situation wliich, because of balf-mcasures and 
compromises, has been allowed to develop in East Africa, In some 
measure, I think, we may claim that we did create a better atmo- 
sphere and a wider understanding of the Indian viewpoint, and 
that the fairly practicable modus viveudi which subsisted in Kenya 
for many years, and also in Uganda and Tanganyika, was the 
result of our committee work and of the detailed recommenda- 
tions which we made. 

One fact was apparent then, and still deserves emphasis thirty 
years later: East Africa’s problems must not be allowed to become 
a matter of contention between opposing political parties in 
Britain, I cannot be disinterested in tliis issue, for my own 
followers of purely Indian origin number in East Africa nowadays 
some 50,000 — 17,000 in Kenya, 27,000 in Tanganyika, and 6,000 
in Uganda. As recently as July 1953 I contributed a turnover 
article to The Times in which I set out my views, in principle 
unchanged by all that had happened in the years between. I wrote; 

For as long as we can foresee the British people are the trustees 
of the population of East Africa, irrespective of race and colour. 
That trusteesWp can never be adequately exercised unless there is a 
firm bi-partisan understanding and interpretation of that duty be- 
tween the two main poHtical parties aird informed public opinion 
among all classes in Great Britain. There can be no real union in 
East Africa among the races if any portion of them believes that 
the trustees are divided or that they have particular favourite wards. 
The trusteeship of the African colonies is a great responsibility, a 
touchstone of success or failure for the British race in one of the 
greatest challenges placed before it by destiny, 

167 



THE MjiMOIBS OF AGA khAN 

Time alone will show how tliat responsibihty is discharged. As 
a tailpiece to my account of these happenings in East Africa, 
however, it may be agreeable to mention that Sir Evelyn Bariirg, 
the Governor of Kenya, issued a statement on the occasion of the 
sixty-eighth anniversary of my inheriting the Imamat of the 
Ismaihs, which was of the greatest warmth, kindness, and courtesy. 

* A * A 

1924 marked the conclusion of a phase of my pubhc life, of five 
or six years of strenuous and varied activity. Thereafter, until 1929 
or thereabouts, I entered a period devoted ahnost exclusively to 
my own personal and private life. 

I think, however, that I should make it clear that in public 
affairs I have always been in a sense an amateur. My pubhc fife, 
as I have shown, has moved in successive, fairly clearly defined 
phases. But the duties and the responsibihties which are mine by 
inheritance have never for an instant abated. My normal work as 
Imam of the Ismaihs consists of a constitutional leadership and 
supervision of the various councils and institutions of aU the 
numerous and far-scattered Ismaih communities, self-administered 
as they are in each region. In addition I am in constant com- 
munication with tliousands of individuals in the commmiity, on 
all sorts of diverse matters about wliich they seek guidance, and 
it is — as I have indicated — z community spread across the globe 
from the Great Wall of China to South Africa. This is my job, 
and it has been a regular part of my daily life for nearly seventy 
years, from cliildhood into old age. Of it, and of the rehgious, 
social, and liistorical background whence it springs and with 
which it is fuUy integrated, I propose in the next chapter to write 
at some length and in some detail. 


t68 



CHAPTER VIII 


THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT AND 
MY ROLE AS IMAM 


T iie origins of man’s religious aspirations are to be found in 
what we nowadays call science. Those who have studied 
mythology and primitive psychology know that magic in 
various forms started various trains of drought in primitive man 
by wlrich he achieved what seemed to Irini to be rational accounts 
of the natural phenomena he saw around liira. It seemed to him 
rational that these phenomena, these events hke the rising and the 
setting of the sun, the passage of the seasons, the flowering of the 
bud and the ripening of the firuit, the wind and the rain, were 
caused and controEed by deities or superior beings. Primitive 
religious experience and primitive scientific reasoning were Unked 
together in magic, in wizardry. Thus, at one and dre same time, 
mankind’s experiences in the realm of sensation and his strivings 
to explain and co-ordinate those experiences in terms of his mind 
led to the birth of both science and religion. The two remained 
linked throughout prehistoric and ancient times, and in the life 
of the early empires of wliich we have knowledge. It was difficult 
to separate what I may call proto-reHgion from proto-science; 
they made their journey like two streams, sometimes mingling, 
sometimes separating, but running side by side. 

Such is die background to Greek and Roman thought and 
culture as well as to ancient Iranian and Hindu philosophy before 
the beginning of the Christian era. Aristotle, however, gave a 
more scientific turn to this mingling, introducing as he did cate- 
gories and concepts that were purely reasonable and shedding 
those vestiges of religious awe and mystery that are visible even 
in Plato. 

With the decline of the Roman Empire and the break-up of the 

169 



iHb MbMOlJlS OP AOA X)>.iriAN 

great and elaborate system of civilization which Roman Law and 
administration had sustained for so many centuries, the Dark Ages 
enfolded Europe. In the seventh century of the Cluristian era there 
was a rapid and briUiant new flowering of humanity’s capacity 
and desire for adventure and discovery in the realms of both spirit 
and intellect. That flowering began in Arabia; its origin and 
impetus were given to it by my Holy ancestor, the Prophet 
Mohammed, and we know it by the name of Islam. From Arabia 
the tide of its influence flowed swiftly and strongly to North 
Africa and thence to Spain. 

Ibn-Rushd, the great Mushm philosopher, known to Europe as 
Averroes, estabhshed clearly the great distinction between two 
kinds of apprehensible human experience; on the one hand, our 
experience of nature as we recognize it through our senses, whence 
comes our capacity to measure and to count (and with that capa- 
city all that it brought in the way of new events and new explana- 
tions), and, on the other hand, our immediate and immanent 
experience of sometlting more real, less dependent on thought or 
on the processes of the mind, but directly given to us, which I 
believe to be religious experience. Naturally, since our brain is 
material, and its processes and all the consequences of its processes, 
are material, the moment that we put either thought or spiritual 
experience into words tliis material basis of the brain must mve 
a material presentation to even the Ihghest, most transcendent 
spuitual experience. But men can study objectively the direct and 
subjective experiences of those who have had spiritual cnhghten- 
ment without material intervention. 

It is said that we hve, move, and have our being m God. We 
find this concept expressed often in the Koran, not m those words 
of course, but just as beautifully and more tersely. But when we 
reaUze the meaning of this saying, we are aheady preparing our- 
selves for the gift of the power of direct experience. Roumi and 
Hafiz, the great Persian poets, have told us, each in lois dilferent 
way, that some men are bom with such natural spiritual capacities 
and possibilities of development, that they have direct experience 
of that great love, drat all-embracing, all-consuming love, which 
direct contact with reality gives to die human soul. Hafiz, indeed, 
has said that men like Jesus Christ, and Muslim mystics like 
Mansour and Bayezid and odiers, have possessed that spiritual 

170 



J,Ht ISLAMIC LUNCfcPl AND MY RULE AS IMAM 

power of the greater love; that any of us, il the Holy Spirit ^ ever- 
present grants us that enhghtcnment, can, being thus blessed, have 
the power which Clirist had, but that to the overwhelming 
majority of men this greater love is not a practical possibility. 
We can, however, make up for its absence from our lives by 
worldly, human love for individual human beings; and this will 
give us a measure ol enlightenment attainable without the inter- 
vention of the Holy Spirit. Those who have had the good fortune 
to know and feel this worldly, human love should respond to it 
only with gratitude and regard it as a blessing and as, in its own 
way, a source of pride. I firmly believe that the liighcr experience 
can to a certain extent be prepared for, by absolute devotion in 
the material world to another human being. Thus from the most 
worldly point of view and with no comprehension of the higher 
hfc of the spirit, the lower, more terrestrial spirit makes us aware 
that all the treasures of tills life, all that fame, wealth, and health 
can bring arc notliing beside the happiness which is created and 
sustained by the love of one human being for another, Tiiis great 
grace we can see in ordinary life as we look about us, among our 
acquaintances and friends. 

But as the joys of human love surpass all that riches and power 
may bring a man, so does that greater spiritual love and enhghten- 
ment, the fruit of that subUme experience of the direct vision of 
reahty wliich is God’s gift and grace, surpass all that the finest, 
truest human love can offer. For that gift we must ever pray. 

Now, I am convinced that through Islam, through the ideal 
of Allah, as presented by Muslims, man can attain this direct 
experience wliich no words can explain but which for lum are 
absolute certainties. I have not discussed experience of this order 
with non-Mushms, but I have been told that Buddhists, Brahmins, 
Zoroastrians, and Christians — I have not often heard it of Jews, 
except perhaps Spinoza — ^have also attained this direct, mystical 
vision. I am certain that many Muslims, and I am convinced that I 
myself, have had moments of enlightenment and of knowledge of 
a kind which we camiot communicate because it is soniecliing 
given and not something acquired. 

To a certain extent I have found that the following verse of the 

^ It must be realized that the Muslim concept of the Holy Spirit differs 
profoundly from the Christian idea of the Third Person of the Trinity. 

171 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

Koran, so long as it is understood in a purely non-pliysical sense, 
has given assistance and understanding to myself and other 
Mushnis. I must, however, warn all who read it not to allow their 
material critical outlook to break in wnth literal, verbal explana- 
tions of something that is symbolic and allegorical. I appeal to 
every reader, whether Muslim or not, to accept the spirit of this 
verse in its entirety: 

Allah is the Hght of the heavens and the earth; His light is as a 
niche in wliich is a lamp, and the lamp is in a glass, the glass is as 
though it were a gUttering star; it is lit from a blessed tree, an Ohve 
neither of cast nor of the west, the oil of which would well-nigh 
give light though no fire touched it, — light upon light; — Allah 
guides to His light whom He pleases; and Allah strikes our parables 
for men; and Allah all tilings doth know. 

(Chapter XXIV— Light— 35) 

★ ★ 

From that brief statement of ray own personal beliefs, I move 
on to as concise and as uncontroversial an exposition as I can give 
of Islam as it is understood and practised today. The present con- 
dition of mankind offers surely, with all its dangers and all its 
challenges, a chance too — a chance of establishing not just material 
peace among nations but that better peace of God on earth. In 
that endeavour Islam can play its valuable constructive part, and 
the Islamic world can be a strong and stabilizing factor, provided 
it is really understood and its spiritual and nioralpower recognized 
and respected. 

I shall try, therefore, to give in a small compass a clear survey 
of the fundamentals of Islam, by which I mean those principles, 
those articles of faith, and that way of Hfe, aU of which are univer- 
sally accepted among all Muslim sects. First, therefore, I shall pro- 
pound tlrose Islamic tenets which are held in common by the 
larger community of Sunnis, and by Shias as well. Having thus 
made as clear as I can the faith which binds us aU as Muslims, I 
shall then give a brief sketch of Shia doctrine and of those special 
tenets held by that subdivision of the Shias known as the IsmaJlis, 
the sect of which I am the Imam. 

First it must be understood that, though these fundamental 
ideals are universally accepted by Muslims, there does not exist 

172 



THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT AND MY ROLE AS IMAM 


in Islam, and there has never existed, any source of absolute 
authority, we have no Papal Encyclical to propound and sanction 
a dogma, such as Roman Cathohes possess, and no Thirty-Nine 
Articles like those which state the doctrinal position of the Church 
of England. The Prophet Mohanuned had two sources of autho- 
rity, one religious wliich was tlie essential one of his life, and the 
other secular which, by the circumstances and accidents of liis 
career, became joined to liis essential and Divinely-inspired 
authority in rehgion. 

According to the Sunni school — the majority of Muslims — the 
Prophet’s rehgious authority came to an end at liis death, :md he 
appohited no successor to liis secular authority. According to 
Smmi teaching, the laithtul, the companions of the Prophet, the 
behevers, elected Abu Bakr as his successor and lus Caliph; but 
Abu Bakr assumed only the civil and secular power. No one had 
the authority to succeed to the religious supremacy, which 
depended on direct Divine inspiration, because the Prophet 
Mohammed and the Koran declared definitely diat he was the 
final messenger of God, the Absolute. Thus, say the Sunnis, it 
was impossible to constitute an authority similar to that of the 
Papacy; it remained for the Faithful to interpret the Koran, the 
example and the sayings of the Prophet, not only in order to 
understand Islam but to ensure its development tliroughout the 
centuries. Fortunately the Koran has itself made tliis task easy, for 
it contains a number of verses which declare that Allah speaks to 
man in allegory and parable. Thus the Koran leaves the door open 


for all kinds of possibilities of interpretation without any one 
interpreter being able to accuse another of being non-Muslim. 
A leHcitous effect of this fundamental principle of Islam, tliat the 
Koran is constantly open to allegorical interpretation, has been 
that our Holy Book has been able to guide and illuininate the 
thought of believers, century after century, in accordance with the 
conditions and limitations of intellectual apperception imposed by 
external influences in the world. It leads also to a greater charity 
among Muslims, for since there can be no cut-and-dried inter- 
pretation all schools of thought can unite in the prayer tliat the 
Almighty in His infinite mercy may forgive any mistaken inter- 
pretation of the Faith whose cause is ignorance or misunder- 


standing. 


173 



THE MEMOIRS OF AOA jyHAN 

I am trying to put before my Western readers, not the doctrine 
of the Isniaili sect to which I belong, not Shia doctrine, nor the 
teachings of the Sufi school of Islamic mysticism, of men such as 
Jalaleddin Roumi or Bayazid Bostami, nor even the views of 
certain modem Sunni interpreters who, not unhke certain Chris- 
tian sects, look for literal guidance in the Koran as Cirristians of 
these sects find it in the Old and New Testaments; but the main 
and central Sunni stream of thought, whose source is in the ideas 
of the school founded by al-Ghazali, and whose influence and 
teacliing have flowed on from century to century. 

First, however, we must ask ourselves why this final and con- 
summate appearance of the Divine wfll was granted to mankind, 
and what were its causes. All Islamic schools of thought accept it 
as a fundamental principle that, for centuries, for thousands of 
years before the advent of Mohammed, there arose from time to 
time messengers, illumined by Divine grace, for and amongst 
those races of the earth which had sufficiently advanced intellectu- 
ally to comprehend such a message. Thus Abraham, Moses, Jesus, 
and all the Prophets of Israel arc universally accepted by Islam. 
Muslims indeed know no limitation merely to the Prophets of 
Israel; they are ready to admit that there were similar Divinely- 
inspired messengers in other countries — Gautama Buddha, Snri 
Krishna, and Shri Ram in India, Socrates in Greece, the wise men 
of China, and many other sages and saints among peoples and 
civilizations of which wc have now lost trace. Thus Man’s soul 
has never been left without a specially inspired messenger from 
the Soul that sustains, embraces, and is the Universe. Then what 
need was there for a Divine revelation to Mohammed? The 
answer of Islam is precise and clear. In spite of its great spiritual 
strength, Jewish monotheism has retained two characteristics 
which render it essentially different from Islamic monotheism; 
God has remained, in spite of all, a national and racial God for the 
children of Israel, and his personality is entirely separate from its 
supreme manifestation, the Universe. 

In far-distant countries such as India and China, the purity of 
the Faith in the one God had been so vitiated by polytheism, by 
idolatry and even by a pantheism which was hardly distinguish- 
able from atheism, that these popular and folk-lore religions bore 
but little resemblance to that wHch emanated from the true and 

174 




1 Ik \j 1 Kli ill buiiir ivLii^inJ jjf.iin-t 
ilnnii'ikb Jill mg In*. Diimiiikl julnld. 

(ilcbim.'ii*. It lii'iiib.ii ill iiji6 


Wiili the Begum Aga Kli.iii .inJ Piincc 
S.idiiiJdm at the ni.uiiuiui Jubilee 
cclcbiatioiis 




THE [SLAMIC CONCEPi AND MY ROLE AS IMAM 

pure God-head. Christianity lost its strcngtli and meaning for 
Muslims hr that it saw its great and glorious founder not as a man 
but as God incarnate in man, as God made Flesh. Thus there was 
an absolute need for the Divine Word’s revelation, to Mohammed 
himself, a man like the others, of God’s person and of his relations 
to the Universe which he had created. Once man has thus compre- 
hended the essence of existence there remains for him the duty, 
since he knows the absolute value of his own soul, of making for 
himself a direct path which will constantly lead his individual soul 
to and bind it with the universal Soul of which the Universe, as 
much of it as wc perceive with our limited vision, is one of the 
infmite manifestations. Thus Islam's basic principle can only be 
defined as monorealism and not as monotheism. Consider for 
example the opening declaration of every Islamic prayer: “Allah- 
o-Akbar.” What docs that mean? There can be no doubt that the 
second word of the declaration likens the character of Allah to a 
matrix wliich contains all and gives existence to the infmite, to 
space, to time, to the Universe, to all active and passive forces 
imaginable, to life and to the soul. Imam Hassan has explained the 
Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun 
and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a 
reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with 
what little reality, how small and pale is the likeness between this 
impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of 
the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe as we 
know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, arc nothing 
more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the 
fountain. 

There is a fundamental difference between the Jewish idea of 
creation and that of Islam. The creation according to Islam is not 
a unique act in a given time, but a perpetual and constant event; 
and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by 
His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, 
all is nothing, even the things wliich seem to us absolutely self- 
evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe 
exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will. 
I think that I have sufficiently explained the difference between the 
Islamic doctrine of the unity of God and on one side the theistic 
ideas, founded upon the Old Testament, and on the other the 
G 175 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


pantheistic and dualistic ideas of the Indian religions and that of 
Zoroaster. But having known the real, the Absolute, having 
understood the Universe as an infinite succession of events, 
intended by God, wc need an ethic, a code of conduct in 
order to be able to elevate ourselves towards the ideal demanded 
by God. 

Let us then study the duties of man, as the great majority inter- 
pret them, according to the verses of the Koran and the Traditions 
of the Prophet. First of all, the relations of man to God: there are 
no priests and no monks. There is no confession of sins, except 
directly to God. 

A man who does not marry, “who refuses to shoulder the re- 
sponsibilities of fatherhood, of building up a home and raising a 
family through marriage, is severely condemned. In Islam, there 
are no extreme renunciations, no asceticism, no maceration, above 
all no flagellations to subjugate the body. The healthy human 
body is the temple in which the flame of the Holy Spirit burns, 
and thus it deserves the respect of scrupulous cleanliness and per- 
sonal hygiene. Prayer is a daily necessity, a direct communication 
of the spark with the universal flame. Reasonable fasting for a 
month in every year, provided a man’s health is not impaired 
thereby, is an essential part of the body’s discipline, through 
wliich the body learns to renounce aU impure desires. Adultery, 
alcoholism, slander, and tliinking evil of one’s neighbour are 
specifically and severely condemned. AU men, rich and poor, 
must aid one another materiaUy and personaUy. The rules vary in 
detail, but they all maintain the principle of universal mutual aid 
in the Muslim fraternity. This fraternity is absolute and comprises 
men of aU colours and of aU races: black, wliite, yeUow, tawny; 
all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them a spark 
of tlie Divine light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this 
spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that fuU “Com- 
panionship-on-High” which was the vision expressed in the last 
words of the Prophet on his deathbed, the vision of that blessed 
state which he saw clearly awaiting him. In Islam the Faithful 
beheve in Divine justice and are convinced that the solution of 
the great problem of predestination and free wUl is to be found in 
the compromise that God knows what man is going to do, but 
that man is j&ce to do it or not. 

I7d 



THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT AND MY ROLE AS IMAM 

Wars are condemned. Peace ought to be mriversal. Islam means 
peace, God’s peace with man and the peace of men one to another. 
Usur)’ is condemned, but free and honest trade and agriculture — 
in all its forms — are encouraged, since they manifest a Divine 
serA’icc, and the welfare ot mankind depends upon the continua- 
tion and the intensification of these legitimate labours. Politically 
a republican form of government seems to be the most rightful; 
for in Islamic countries, which have witnessed the development of 
absolute monarchs with a great concentration of power within 
them, tire election of the monarch has always remained a lifeless 
formula which has simply legitimized the usurpation of power. 

After death Divine justice will take into consideration the faith, 
the prayers, and the deeds of man. For the chosen, there is eternal 
life and the spiritual felicity of the Divine vision. For the con- 
demned, there is hell where they will be consumed with regret 
for not having known how to merit the grace and the blessing of 
Divine mercy. 

Islamic doctrine goes larther than the other great religions for it 
ptoclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but neverthe- 
less existing in an embryonic state in all existence in matter, in 
animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, 
every atom has its own spiritual relationsliip w'ith the All- 
Powerful Soul of God. But men and women, being more higlily 
developed, are immensely more advanced tlian the infinite n umber 
of other beings known to us. Islam acknowledges the existence of 
angels, of great souls who have developed themselves to the 
liighest possible planes of the human soul and higher, and who are 
centres of the forces wliich are scattered throughout the Universe. 
Without going as far as Christianity, Islam recognizes the 
existence of evil spirits which seek by means of their secret sug- 
gestions to turn us from good, from that strait way traced by 
God’s finger for the eternal happiness of the humblest as of the 
greatest — Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed. 

Thus far, I have described those tenets of Islam wliich are pro- 
fessed and held in common by all MusHms of any and every sect 
or sub-sect. I now come to the divergence of the streams of 
thought. The Sunnis are the people of the Sonm or tradition. 
Their Kalaina, or profession of faith,is; “There is noGod but God, 
and Mohammed is the Apostle of God.” To this the Shias add; 

177 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

“And Aii, the companion ot Mohammed, is the Vicar of God.” 
Etymologically the word “Shia” means cither a stream or a 
section. 

The Prophet died without appointing a Cahph or successor. 
The Shia school of thought maintains that while direct Divine 
inspiration ceased at the Prophet’s death, the need of Divine 
guidance continued and tliis could not be left merely to millions 
of mortal men, subject to the whims and gusts of passion and 
material necessity, capable of being momentarily but tragically 
misled by greed, by oratory, or by the sudden desire for material 
advantage. These dangers were manifest in the period immedi- 
ately following our Holy Prophet’s death. Mohammed had been, 
as I have shown, both a temporal and a spiritual sovereign. The 
Cahph or successor of the Prophet was to succeed him in both 
these capacities; he was to be both Etnir-al-Momcnin or “com- 
mander of the true beUevers” and Imam-al-Muslimin or “spiritual 
chief of the devout”. Perhaps an analogy from the Latin Western 
world will make this clearer: he would be “Supreme Pontiff ‘as 
well as’ imperator or temporal ruler”. 

Ah, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, the husband of his 
beloved and only surviving child, Fatima, his first convert, his 
bold champion in many a war, whom the Prophet in Iris lifetime 
said would be to him as Aaron was to Moses, his brother and 
right-hand man, in the veins of whose descendants the Prophet’s 
own blood would flow, appeared destined to be that true suc- 
cessor; and such had been the general expectation of Islam. 
The Shias have therefore always held that after the Prophet’s 
death. Divine power, guidance, and leadership manifested them- 
selves in Hazrat AU as the first Imam or spiritual chief of the 
devout. The Sunnis, however, consider him the fourth in the 
succession of Caliphs to temporal power. 

The Imam is thus the successor of the Prophet in his rchgious 
capacity; he is the man who must be obeyed and who dwells 
among those from whom he commands spiritual obedience. The 
Sunnis have always held that tills authority is temporal merely and 
secular, and is exerted only in the poHtical sphere; they believe 
therefore that it appertains to any lawfully constituted poHtical 
head of a State, to a Governor or to die President of a republic. 
The Shias say that this authority is all-pervading and is concerned 

178 



THE ISLAMIC CONCtPT AN U MY ROLE AS IMAM 

with Spiritual matters also, that it is transferred by inherited right 
to the Prophet’s successors of liis blood. 

How this came about is best described in the words of Mr. 
Justice Arnold in his judgment delivered in the High Court of 
Bombay on 12th November 1866, in the great lawsuit brought 
against my grandfather to which I refer elsewhere. 

Theinllucnce of Ayesha, the young and favourite wife of Moham- 
med, s. r.incorous cneiny of Fatima and of Ali, procured the election 
of her own father Abu Bakr; to Abu Bakr succeeded Omar, and to 
liim Osman, upon whose death, in the year 65^ of the Christian 
era, Ali was at last raised to the Caliphate. He was not even then un- 
opposed; aided by Ayesha, Moawiyah of the family ofthc Unimayads 
contested the Calipliate witli liim, and while the strife was still 
doubtful, in the year a.d, 660, Ali was slain by a Kharegite or 
Muslim fanatic, in the mosque of Cufa, at that time the principal 
Muslim city on the right or west bank of the Euphrates— itself long 
since a ruin, at no great distance from the ruins of Babylon. 

Mr. Justice Arnold’s judgment gives a lucid and moving 
account of the effect on Muslim life and thought of this assassina- 
tion and of the subsequent murders — ^niiie years and twenty years 
after their father — of Ali’s two sons, Hassan and Hussein, the 
Prophet’s beloved grandchildren whom he himself had publicly 
hailed as “the foremost among the youths of Paradise”; of the 
tragic and embittered hostility and misunderstanding that devel- 
oped between the two main Mushm sects, and all the sorrow and 
the strife that afflicted succeeding generations. 

Of the Shias there are many sub-divisions; some of them believe 
that this spiritual headship, this Imamat which was Hazrat Ali’s, 
descended through him in the sixth generation, to Ismail from 
whom I myself claim my descent and my Imamat. Otliers believe 
that the Imamat is to be traced from Zeid, the grandson of Imam 
Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson martyred at Kerbcla. Still others, 
including the vast majority of the people of Persia, and Indian 
Shias, believe that the Imamat is now held by a living Imam, die 
twelfth from Ali, who has never died, who is alive and has lived 
1,300 years among us, tuiseen, but seeing; those who profess this 
doctrine arc known as the Asna Asharis. The Israailis themselves 
are divided into two parties, a division which stems from the 
period when my ancestors held the Fatimite Caliphate of Egypt. 

179 



iHE M21MUIRS Ol- AGA j?^HAN 


One party accepts my ancestor, Nozar, as the rightful successor of 
the Caliph of Egypt Mustansir, while the other claims as Imam 
Iris other son the Caliph Mustalli. 

•k ic "k 'k -k 

Thenceforward the story of the Ismailis, of my ancestors and 
their followers, moves through all the complexities, the ebb and 
flow, of Islamic history through many centuries. Gibbon, it hoas 
been said, abandoned as hopeless the task of clearing up the 
obscurities of an Asiatic pedigree; there is, however, endless 
fascination in the study of the web of characters and of events, 
woven across the ages, wliich unites us in this present time with 
all these far-distant glories, tragedies, and mysteries. Often per- 
secuted and oppressed, the faith of my ancestors was never des- 
troyed; at times it flourished as in the epoch of the Fatimite 
Caliphs, at times it was obscure and little miderstood. 

After the loss of the Fatimite Caliphate in Egypt my ancestors 
moved first to the liighlands of Syria and the Lebanon; thence 
they journeyed eastwards to the mountains of Iran. They estab- 
lished a stronghold on the craggy peak of AJamut in the Elburz 
mountains, the range which separates from the rest of Persia the 
provinces lying immediately to the south of the Caspian. Legend 
and history intertwine here in the strange talc of the Old Man of 
the Mountains, and of those hereditary Grand Masters of the Order 
of the Assassins who held Alamut for nearly two hundred years. 

In this period, the Ismaih faith was well-known in Syria, in 
Iraq, in Arabia itself, and far up into Central Asia. Cities such as 
Samarkand and Bokhara were then great centres of MmEm 
learning and thought. A httle later in the thirteenth century of the 
Christian era, Ismaili reHgious propaganda penetrated into what 
is now Sinkiang and Chinese Turkestan. There was a time in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when the Ismaili doctrine was 
the chief and most influential Shi’ite school of thought; but later, 
with the triumph of the Saffevi Dynasty in Iran (particularly in 
its north-west province, Azerbaijan), the Asna Ashari, or Twelfth 
Imam, sect estabUshed its predominance. Remnants of the Ismaih 
faith remained firm and are still to be found in many parts of 
Asia, North Africa, and Iran. The historical centres of Ismaflism 
indeed are scattered widely all over the Islamic world. In the 

Tgn 



THE ISLAMIC CONCtPr ANU MY RULE AS IMAM 

mountainous regions ot Syria, for example, are to be found the 
Driizes, in their fastness in the Jcbel Dnizc, who are really Istnailis 
but who did not originally follow my family in their migration 
out of Egypt, but remained with the memory' of my ancestor, 
Al Hakem, the Fatimite Caliph of Egypt, avho established their 
doctrines on lines very* similar to those of the Syrian Ismailis, who, 
in present times, arc my followers. Similar Ismaili “islands” exist 
in southern Egypt, in the Yemen, and of course in Iraq. In Iran 
the centres arc around Mahalat, westwards towards Hamadan and 
to the south of Tehran, others are in Khorassan to the north and 
cast around about Yezd, around Kerman and southwards along 
the coast of the Persian Gulf from Bandar Abbas to the borders 
of Pakistan and Sind, and into Balucliistan. Others arc in Afghani- 
stan, in Kabul itself; there are many in Russia and Central Asia, 
around Yarkand, Kashgar, and in many villages and settlements 
in Sinkiang. In India, certain Hindu tribes were converted by 
missionaries sent to them by my ancestor, Shah Islam Shah, and 
took the name of Khojas; a similar process of conversion occurred 
in Burma as recently as the nineteenth century. 

* * * * * 

Now that I have brought diis brief record of Ismaili origin, 
vicissitudes, and wanderings within sight of the contemporary 
world, it may be timely to give an account in some detail of the 
hfe and deeds of my grandfather, the first to be known as the 
Aga Khan, who emerged into the light of history early in the 
nineteenth century of the Christian era. His life was (as Mr. 
Justice Arnold observed) “adventurous and romantic”. He was 
the hereditary chieftain of the important city of Kerman and the 
son-in-law of the powerful and able Pensiaii monarch, Fateh Ali 
Shah, holding considerable territorial possessions in addition to 
his inherited Imamat of the Ismailis. 

In 1838 he was involved in conflict w*ith the then ruling 
Emperor, Mahomed Shah, for reasons of wliich Mr. Justice 
Arnold gave the following account: 

Hadji Mirza Ahasi, who had been the tutor of Mahomed Shall, 
was during the whole reign of his royal pupil (from 1834 to 1848) 
the Prime Minister of Persia. A Persian of very low origin, for- 
merly in the service of the Aga Khan, had become the chief favourite 

T8r 



IHE MliMOIES OF AOA i>.HAN 

and minion of the all-powerful minister. This person, through his 
patron, had the impudence to demand in marriage for his son one 
of the daughters of the Aga Klian, a granddaughter of the late 
Shali-in-Shah! This, says the Persian historian, was felt by the Aga 
Khan to be a great insult; and the request, though strongly pressed 
by the Prime Minister, was indignantly refused. Having thus made 
the most powerful man in Persia his deadly enemy, the Aga Khan 
probably felt that his best chance of safety was to assert himself in 
arms — a course not uncommon with the great feudatories of dis- 
organized Persia. Making Kerman Ins headquarters, he appears to 
have kept up the fight with varying fortmics through the years 
1838-9 and part ofi840. In the latter year, overpowered by numbers, 
he was forced to flight and with difficulty made his escape, attended 
by a few horsemen, through the deserts of Baluchistan to Sind. 

In his wanderings of the next few years my grandfather 
encountered and rendered scout assistance to the British in their 
process of military and imperial expansion northwards and west- 
wards from the Punjab. In Sind he raised and maintained a troop 
of light horse (the descendants of whose survivors were so grave 
an anxiety to me many years later) and during the latter stages of 
the first Afghan War, in 1841 and 1842, he and his cavalry were of 
service to General Nott in Kandahar and to General England 
when he advanced out of Sind to join Nott. For these services and 
for odiers which he rendered to Sir Charles Napier in his conquest 
of Sind in 1843-4, tiy grandfather received a pension from the 
British Government. 

In 1845 my grandfather reached Bombay where — as Mr. Justice 
Arnold expressed it — "he was received by the cordial homage of 
the whole Khoja population of this city and its neighbourhood”. 
For a year or two from 1846 onwards he was in Calcutta as a 
political prisoner, because Mohamed Shah had remonstrated to 
the British Government about his presence in a port of such ready 
access to Persia as Bombay. However, m 1848 Mohamed Shiah’s 
reign came to an end, and my grandfather settled peaceably in 
Bombay and there established his Diirkhana, or headquarters. Not 
only was this a wise and happy personal decision, but it had an 
admirable effect on the rehgious and communal Hfc of the whole 
Ismadi world. It was as if die heavy load of persecution and 
fanatical hostUiy, wliich they had had to bear for so long, was 
lifted. Deputations came to Bombay from places as remote as 

tS- 



TilE ISLAMIC CONClPi AN L> MY ROLE AS IMAM 

Kashgar, Bokhara, all parts of Iran, Syria, the Yemen, the African 
coast and the then narrowly settled hinterland behind it. 

Since then there has been no fundamental or violent change in 
the Ismaili way of life or in the conditions in which iny followers 
can pursue their own religion. At present no deputations come 
from Russi.i, but Ismailis in Russia and in Central Asia are not 
persecuted and arc quite free in their religious life; they cannot of 
course send the tribute, which is merely a token tribute and never 
has been the sort of mulcting which a few fanatical enemies of the 
Ism-iilis have alleged it to be. 

With Sinkiang, Kashgar, and Yarkand w'c have no communica- 
tion at present, since the frontier is closed — but no more firmly 
against Ismailis than against anyone else — but we know that they 
are free to follow their religion and that they arc firm and devoted 
Ismailis w’ith a great deal of self-confidence and the feeling that 
they constitute by far the most important Ismaili community in 
the whole world. From Iran, representatives and commissions 
come and go; from Syria they used to come to India regularly, 
but now from time to time members of my family go to Syria, 
or my Syrian followers come and visit me in Egypt. Not long ago 
I went to Damascus where a great number of iny followers came 
to pay their respects. In nearly all these countries the greater part 
of the tribute to the Imam is spent on schools, or prayer houses, 
and on the administration of various religious and social institu- 
tions. A considerable measure of local responsibility prevails; 
questions of marriage and divorce for example are entirely the 
concern of the local representatives of the lm.am. At times, pros- 
perous communities among tlic Ismailis help less prosperous ones 
in respect of similar institutions. I issue general instructions and 
orders; but the actual day-to-day administrative work of each 
local community is done by the Imam’s representative and local 
chief. Many of these local headships, throughout Central Asia for 
example, are hereditary. But we have no general regular system. 
Sometimes a son succeeds, sometimes a grandson. Sometimes he is 
known as Vizir, or Kamdar (a title which by constant use has 
degenerated into Kamria). Sometimes he is Rais or Rai. In Syria, 
the Imam’s representatives are known as Amirs. In some parts of 
Central Asia such as Hunza, the word Amir has been coho- 
quialized and shortened to Mir, 

i8^ 



iKL MliMOlRS Of AGA r^nAN 


The headship of a rehgious community spread over a consider- 
able part of the world surface — from Cape Town to Kashgar, 
from Syria to Singapore — cannot be sustained in accordance with 
any cut-and-dried system. Moral conditions, material facilities, 
national aspirations and outlook, and profoundly differing liistori- 
cal backgrounds have to be borne vastly in mind, and the necessary 
mental adjustments made. 

There is therefore great variety and great flexibility of adminis- 
tration. In the British, Portuguese, and French colonies of East 
Africa, in Uganda, Portuguese East Africa, Madagascar, Natal, 
and Cape Colony there is a highly developed and civiHzed 
administrative system of councils. Educational administrators, 
property agents, executive and judicial councils all perform an 
immense amount of day-to-day administrative work, and under 
my general orders vast financial administration as well. In India 
and Pakistan there is a similar technique of administration but in 
a less developed and looser form. In Burma and Malaya the 
organization closely resembles that of the Ismailis in Africa. Syria, 
Iran, and the North-west Frontier province of Pakistan are all 
countries with their strongly-marked individuahty, historical 
background and traditions. These historical variations over 
centuries, and the accessibihty, or lack of it, of many of the more 
isolated conununities, and the development of communications 
between my family and my followers liave all had their effect. 

In Central Asia the leadership of the Ismaihs is an inheritance in 
the hands of certain famihes, and has been handed down in con- 
tinuous lure through centuries. This is true of my followers in 
Afghanistan, and in Russia and Chinese Turkestan, where certain 
families have been, since their conversion to Islam, administrators 
and representatives of the Imam. The local leadership passes down 
in a close connection of kinship from one generation to another. 
Sometimes it is the hereditary chieftain and occasionally — as in the 
case of Hunza — the secular king, himself an Ismaih, who is the 
administrator of the religious brotherhood. 

The correspondence wliich I maintain with all these far- 
scattered communities is affected by local circumstances. In Bagh- 
dad I have special representatives who deal with Arabian matters; 
in Iran I have special representatives in every province who deal 
with Ismaili affairs, who are also generally members of families 

184 



IHI. ISLAMIC COMCLPl AND MY ROtE AS IMAM 

chat have as a nutter ot inheritance supplied local Ismaiii leaders 
for probably as long as these people have been linked with my 
family. In Syria, one such family of representatives has retained an 
unbroken connection with my family for more than a thousand 

Isinailisiii has survived because it lias always been fluid. Rigidity 
is contrary to our whole way of life and outlook. There have rc.al!y 
been no cut-aud-dried rules, even the set of regulations Imown as 
the Holy Laws are directions as to method and procedure and not 
detailed orders about results to be obtained. In some countries-— 
India and Africa for example — the Isinailis liave a council system, 
under which their local councillors arc charged with all internal 
administrative responsibility, and report to me as to their doings. 
In Syria, Central Asia, and Iran, leadership, as I have said, is 
vested in either hereditary or recommended leaders and chiefs, who 
are the Imam’s representatives and who look after the administra- 
tion of the various Jamats or congregations. 

From all parts of the Ismaili world with which regular contact 
is politically possible a constant flow of communications and 
reports comes to me. Attending to these, answering them, giving 
my solutions of specific problems presented to me, discharging 
my duties as hereditary Imam of tliis far-scattered religious com- 
munity and association — such is my working life, and so it has 
been since I was a boy. 

Much of the W'ork of the Ismaili councils and of the Imam’s 
representatives nowadays is purely social, and is concerned with 
the proper contractual arrangement of matters such as marriage 
and divorce. On this subject I should perhaps say that nowhere in 
the world where Ismailis are now settled is there any persecution 
of them, and no interference with their faith and customs except 
if and when the general laws of the country are contrary to 
institutions such as plurality of wives. It is generally overlooked 
that among Ismailis nobody can take a second wife or divorce liis 
first wife for a whim or — as is sometimes falsely imagined in the 
West — some frivolous or erratic pretext. There are usually, to our 
way of thinking, some very good reasons for eitlier action. To 
beget cliildren is a very proper need and desire in every marriage; 
if after many years of married life there is stfll no issue, often a 
wife herself longs to see her home briglitened by the presence of 

185 



illE MEMOIRS OF AGA i^HAN 


children with all the laughter, hope, joy, and deep contentment 
that they bring with them. In other instances there is so profound 
a difference of character that a divorce is found to be the best 
solution for the happiness of both parties. But in every case — 
whether a second wife is taken or a divorce is granted — the various 
councils or (where there are no councils) the representatives of 
the Imam have an absolute duty to safeguard the interests of the 
wife; if a second wife is taken, it is a matter of seeing that full 
financial protection is assured to the first wife, or if there is a 
divorce, of seeing that there is a generous, adequate, and seemly 
monetary settlement. 

It is important that it should be realized among noii-Mushnis 
that the Islamic view of the institution of marriage — and of all 
that relates to it, divorce, plurality of wives and so on — ^is that 
it is a question solely of contract, of consent, and of definite and 
mutually accepted responsibilities. The sacramental concept of 
marriage is not Islam’s; therefore except indirectly there is no 
question of its religious significance at all, and there is no religious 
ceremony to invest it with the solemnity and the symbolism 
which appertain to marriage in other religions, like Christianity 
and Hinduism. It is exactly analogous to — in the West — ^an 
entirely civil and secular marriage in a Registry Office or before 
a Judge, Prayers of course can be offered — prayers for happiness, 
prosperity, and good health — ^but there can be no religious ritual 
beyond these, and they, indeed, are solely a matter of personal 
choice. There is, therefore, no kind of marriage in Islam, or 
amongst the Ismaihs, except the marriage of mutual consent and 
mutual understanding. And, as I have indicated, much of the work 
of the Ismaili councils and of the Imam’s representatives in all our 
Ismaili communities is to see that marriages are properly registered 
and to ensure that divorce, though not a sin, is so executed that 
the interests of neither party' suffer from it, that as much attention 
as possible is given to the protection of women, and most of 
all to safeguarding the maintenance of yoimg children. 

The past seventy years have witnessed steady, stable progress 
on the part of the Ismailis wherever they have settled. Under the 
Ottoman Empire, in the reign of Abdul Hamid, there was a 
considerable degree of persecution. Like several other minorities 
in his empire, they suffered hardship, and many of their leaders 

t86 



iMi; ISLAMIC CONCFPi ANU MY KOLl AS IMAM 


endured imprisonment in die latter years of liis despotic rule. 
With the Young Turk revolution, however, the period of per- 
secution ended. And now, in spite of all the vast political shifts 
and changes which the world has undergone, I think it may 
reasonably be claimed that the lot of the Ismailis in general 
throughout the world is a fairly satisfactory one; wherever they 
are settled their communities compose a happy, self-respecting, 
law-abiding, and industrious element in society. 

What has been my own policy with my followers? Our religion 
is our religion, you cither believe in it or you do not. You can 
leave a faith but you cannot, if you do not accept its tenets, 
remain within it and claim to “reform” it. You can abandon those 
tenets, but you cannot try to cliangc them and still protest that 
you belong to the particular sect that holds them. Many people 
have left the Ismaih faith, just as others have joined it throughout 
the ages. About a score of people out of many millions — a small 
group in Karachi and in India — pretended to be Ismailis but called 
themselves “reformers”. The true Ismailis immediately e.xcom- 
municated them. There has never been any question of changing 
the Ismaili faith, that faith has remained the same and must remain 
the same. Those who have not believed in it have rightly left it; 
we bear them no ill-will and respect them for their sincerity. 

What about political guidance? It has been the practice of my 
ancestors, to which I have strictly adhered, always to advise 
Ismailis to be absolutely loyal and devoted subjects of the State 
— whatever its constitution, monarchical or republican — of wliich 
they are citizens. Neither my ancestors nor I have ever tried to 
influence our followers one way or another, but we have told 
them that the constituted legal authority of any country in wliich 
they abide must have their full and absolute loyalty. Similarly, 
if any government approaches me and asks me for my help and 
my advice to its subjects, this advice is invariably — as was my 
father’s and my grandfather’s — ^tliat they must be loyal and law- 
abiding, and if they have any political grievances they must 
approach their govermnent as legally constituted, and in loyalty 
and fidelity to it. All my teaching and my guidance for my 
followers has been in fulfilment of this principle; render unto God 
the things wliich are God’s and to Caesar those which are Caesar’s. 

In matters of social reform I have tried to exert niy influence 

187 



THE MEMOIRS Ol- AHA r>.HAN 


and. authority sensibly and progressively. I have always sought to 
encourage the emancipation and education of women. In my 
grandfather’s and my father’s time the Ismailis were far ahead of 
any other Muslina sect in the matter of the abolition of the strict 
veil, even in extremely conservative countries. I have absolutely 
abolished it; nowadays yon will never find an Ismadi woman 
wearing the veil. Everywhere from the first I have encouraged 
girls’ schools, even in regions where otherwise they were com- 
pletely unknown. I say with pride that my Ismaili followers are, 
in this matter of social welfare, tar in advance of any other Mushm 
sect. No doubt it is possible to find individuals equally advanced, 
but as a body I am convinced that our social conditions — educa- 
tion for both boys and girls, marriage and domestic outlook and 
customs, the control over divorce, the provision for children in 
the event of divorce, and so forth — arc far ahead. We were 
pioneers in the introduction of midwifery, and long before any 
other Muslim community in the Middle East, we had trained 
nurses for cliddbirth. With the support and help of Lady DufFerin’s 
nursing association in India, I was able — at a time when normal 
conditions in these matters were terribly insanitary — to introduce 
a modem outlook on childbirth, with trained midwives, not only 
in India and Burma, but in Africa and (so far as general conditions 
permitted) in Syria and Iraq. 

In Africa, where I have been able to give active help as well as 
advice, we have put the finances of individuals and of the various 
communities on a thorouglily safe basis. We established an insur- 
ance company — the Jubilee Insurance — whose shares have greatly 
increased in value. We abo set up what we called an investment 
trust, which is really a vast association for receivuig money and 
then putting it out on loan, at a low rate of interest, to Ismaili 
traders and to people who want to buy or build their own houses. 

About my own personal wealth a great deal of nonsense has 
been written. There must be hundreds of people in the United 
States with a larger capital wealth than mine; and the same is 
true of Europe. But perhaps not many people, in view of the 
incidence of taxation, even in the United States, have the control 
over an income that I exercise; but this control carries with it — 
as an unwritten law — the upkeep of all the various communal, 
social, and reUgious institutions of my Ismaili following, and in 

iR8 



THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT AND MY ROLE AS IMAM 

the end only a small fraction of it — ^if any — is left for niembm of 
my family and mysclt. 

When I read about the “millions oi pounds a year” I am sup- 
posed to possess, I know only that if I had an income of that size 
I should be ashamed of myself. There is a great deal of truth in 
Andrew Carnegie’s remark; “The man who dies rich, dies dis- 
graced.” I should add: The man who lives rich, lives disgraced. 
By “hves rich” I mean the man who lives and spends for liis own 
pleasure at a rate and a scale of living in excess of that customary 
among those called nowadays “the upper income group” in the 
country of which he is a citizen. I am not a Coniraunist, nor do 
I believe that a high standard of private life is a sin and an affront 
to society. I feel no flicker of shame at owniing three or four cars; 
in India by the by, where a great many people from outside come 
and go, I always have more cars for their use. 

Nor am I asliamcd of being the owner of a big racing stable, 
about wliich I propose to say something in the following chapter. 
My family have had a long, honourable, and affectionate associa- 
tion with horsemanship in all its forms. Had I to contemplate 
either giving up having a considerable number of horses in train- 
ing, or turning it into a paying concern, I have no doubt that by 
selling a considerable proportion of my stock I could turn it into 
a paying business any day of the week. Neither my grandfather, 
my father, nor I have ever looked on our racing as simply a 
money-making matter, but as a sport which by careful attention 
and thoughtful administration could become self-supporting and 
a permanent source of pleasure not only for ourselves, as owners, 
but for thousands — indeed for millions — who follow our colours 
on the turf; and we have considered our studs and our training 
stables as sources of wealth for the countries in which they are 
maintained, and of practical usefulness from the point of view of 
preserving and raising the standard of bloodstock. 

A specific charge of extravagance against our family related to 
the period in wliich, as I have recorded elsewhere, some tM’o 
thousand people a day were livmg and feeding at our expense. 
These two thousand were, after all, descendants and dependants 
of people who had exiled themselves from Iran witli my grand- 
father and had given up their homes and estates, and in the con- 
ditions of the time we, as heads of the Ismaili community, were 

189 



iHj; MhMOIHS Oi- AUA rwHAN 


responsible for their welfare and maintenance. As soon as I could, 
and as thoroughly as I could, I dealt with that problem, so that 
now their descendants are far happier and far more self-reliant 
than they were, and I have notlring on my conscience about the 
way in which I dealt with it. 

I would have been a profoundly unhappy man if I had possessed 
one tenth of the fabulous amount of wealth which people say 
that I have at my disposal, for then indeed I should have felt all 
my life that I was carrying a dead weight — useless alike to my 
family and my friends or, for that matter, to my followers. 
Beyond a certain point, wealth and the material advantages which 
it brings do more harm tliair good, to societies as to individuals. 

So far as their way of life is concerned I have tried to vary the 
advice wliich I have given to my followers, in accordance with the 
country or State in which they live. Thus in the British colony of 
Bast Africa I strongly urge them to make English their first 
language, to found their family and domestic lives along English 
lines and in general to adopt British and European customs — 
except in the matter of alcohol and slavery to tobacco. I am con- 
vinced that hving as they must in a multi-racial society, the kind 
of social life and its organhiation which gives them the greatest 
opportunities to develop their personalities and is the most practi- 
cally useful is the one which they ought to follow. On the other 
hand, to those who Hve m Burma I have given the same sort of 
advice — but that they should follow a Burman way of Hfe rather 
than any other. In Muslim countries like Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and 
Iran, of course, there arc no difficulties at all. My own family’s 
home and social hfe has always followed an Iranian-MusHm 
pattern; this has involved no violent or radical readjustment 
wherever I have lived, so that the European ladies whom I have 
married, one after the other, have in fact easily and happily 
acquired an Iranian-Muslim outlook and rhythm of life. 

In Africa, however, my followers faced a much more acute 
problem. They arrived there with Asiatic habits and an Asiatic 
pattern of existence, but they have encountered a society in process 
of development which is, if anything, European-African. To have 
retained an Asiatic outlook in matters of language, habits, and 
clotlhng would have been for them a complication and socially a 
dead weight of archaism in the Africa of the future. In Pakistan 

lOo 



iHh ISI'^MLC CONCLPl ANlJ MY H 0 1 K AS IMAM 

and modem Bharat the Ismaiiis arc likely in the future to assume 
two totally cliftcrent patterns ol culture. In West Pakistan they 
will probably speak Urdu or what used to be called Hiiidastam, 
and their .social liabits and customs will be moulded accordingly. 
In East Pakistan Bengali dress .and language will play a m.ajor p.art 
m Isniaili life. In Binarat the latigu.ages which they will speak will 
probably be Gujerati and M.iratlii, and their outlook and way of 
life similarly will take on a Gujerati-Marathi shape. Yet I arn 
certain that so long as they retain their laith the brotherhood of 
Islam will unite all these people of var^dng social outlook and 
patterns of behaviour, and will keep them together inspirit. 


I9I 



CHAPTER rx 


MY CAREER ON THE TURF 


M y interest in horses, their breeding, training, and racing, 
has been with me all my hfe and is of course also part of 
the tradition that I have inherited, the environment in 
which I was bred. Persian art, in the various exhibitions which 
have been held in London and elsewhere, has perhaps helped to 
make the Western public realize the large and important part 
which sport played in the lives of that old Iranian ruling class 
whence I am descended. The chase in its many forms was for them 
not just a distraction; it was a major occupation all their lives 
through; their hounds, their hawks, their horses were the most 
beautiful, the swiftest, and the finest that they could breed or 
procure. My grandfather in Ihs young manhood, at the Court of 
Fateh Ali Shah, as the favoured son-in-law of that powerful 
monarch, was as fully absorbed in all the accustomed open-air and 
athletic sports and pursuits of a sophisticated yet virile society 
as were any of his contemporaries. After his tribulations and his 
wanderings ceased and he had settled in Bombay he naturally and 
happily resumed a way of hfe not very dissimilar from that wloich 
he had known in his youth. And, as I have tried to show earlier in 
tiiis book, such was the atmosphere in which, from the dawning 
of conscious experience, I spent my childhood and boyhood. 

When my father died he left a large and imposing sporting 
establishment in being — hawks, hounds, and between eighty and 
ninety racehorses. A good deal of this cstabhslnnent my mother 
naturally pared down, but she kept twenty or tbirty of the horses; 
and throughout my minority these were raced at meetings all over 
Western India in my name and under my colours. I have earlier 
given a brief account of some of the successes which I — and with 
me my cousin and racing parmer, Aga Shamsuddin — enjoyed 
duriirg those years. 


102 



MY CAHLLR ON Hit iUiSF 

One effect of this early and sustained prominence on die Indian 
turf was that by the time 1 was in my late teens I had a number of 
friends svho were important and influential in racing circles, two 
or whom were the brothers Lord William and Lord Marcus 
Beresford. They were younger sons ot the Marquess of Water- 
lord; and Lord William in particular was a powciiul and original 
personality in his own right, and was militar)' secretary to three 
Viceroys ol India in succession, Lord Ripoti, Lord Dufferin, and 
Lord Lansdowne. His long tenure of tliis key post, in which he 
had w'on and maintained the confidence ot each of his chiefs, gas'e 
him unchallenged influence and authority over a diverse and Far- 
ranging field ot affairs — military, social, political, and diplomatic 
— and in relations with foreign dignitaries and potentates who 
visited India, and of course with the ruling princes. He was an 
utterly fearless horseman, of whom it was said that he had broken 
cvevy bone in his body in falls sustained wliile hunting, playing 
polo, or steeplechasing. During liis fourteen years as military secre- 
tary' he became one of India’s leading racehorse owners, on his 
own and in association with two princes, with the Maharajah 
Darbhanga, an immensely wealthy landlord, and with the 
Maliarajah of Patiala, the leading Sikh prince. The bookmakers, it 
was always said, lived in fear and trembling of Lord William, 
for he was a past master in the difficult art of bringing off big 
betting coups. He was a friend of my family’s and of mine from 
an early age; and whenever he came to Bombay \vc saw a great 
deal of him. 

When I first went to England in 1898 I discovered therefore — 
and I was young enough to be agreeably surprised by my dis- 
covery — that a good deal was known about my hereditary and 
personal interest in the breeding of horses and in the turf generally, 
not merely in exclusively racing circles but in the India Office, 
at Court, and in tlic personal entourage of the Prince of Wales. 
Either Lord William Beresford or his brother Lord Marcus — and 
I have never been able to find out which of them — ^iiad taken steps 
to have my colours as an owner registered in England. They both 
knew that in India my family’s racing colours had always been 
green and red; they are also the colours of the Ismaili flag, and 
when my ancestors were temporal sovereigns — ^both in Egypt 
and in Iran — green and red were the colours of their standards. 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

Some years later I discovered that my colours in England were 
registered as green and chocolate; I made inquiries from Messrs. 
Wetherby, who told me that when the registration occurred, 
green and red were not available; but they could never tell me 
whether it was Lord William or Lord Marcus — or indeed some- 
one clsC' — who had chosen green and chocolate. Many years later 
my elder son was able to get a combination of green and red; 
no doubt by that time I too could have changed, but by then 
my green and chocolate had become so lucky and so well known 
that it would have been neither politic nor practicable to change 
them. In France, I may say, and in Europe generally, my racing 
colours are and have always been green and red. 

I was at once made an honorary member of the Grand Stand 
at Epsom. My first serious racing, I well remember, was the 
Epsom Spring Meeting of 1898, when I saw the great Ray Ronald 
win the City and Suburban. I am proud to think that I told my 
friends that this was a fine horse who was sure to make his mark 
in the history of bloodstock breeding — especially proud because 
this particular win, considering liis age and weight, was nothing 
very wonderful. A few weeks later 1 went to the Derby; I had 
a small bet of a sovereign at 66 to i on a horse called Jeddah. 
Though my own bet was at 66 to i, the horse actually started at 
100 to I, and then to everybody’s astonishment won the Derby. 
My friend the Prince of Wales happened to spot me in the 
enclosure and called across to me with a laugh that a horse called 
Jeddah ought certainly to have belonged to me. 

At Ascot I have had a Royal Household badge for well over 
fifty years; I was first given my badge by Queen Victoria, and it 
has successively been rebestowed on me by King Edward VII, 
King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. 

From the beginning, however, my interest in racing has never 
been merely idle or trarrsient. From 1898 onwards in England or 
on the continent of Europe I went to race meetings and I followed 
the form of the horses very carefully. In India, at Bombay, Poona, 
or Calcutta, I never, if I could possibly avoid it, missed a meeting. 

In France in 1905 I made the acquaintance of Mr. W. K. 
Vanderbilt, then the leading owner in the country. Although he 
was a great deal older than I was, he took a special interest in 
letting me into all the secrets of the administration of his great 

104 



Mi (JAKEER ON THE TURF 


racing stables. He introduced me to liis trainer, William Duke, to 
whom he gave .strict instructions that I was to be allowed to visit 
his stables for the trials and training of his horses whenever I 
wished. Mr. Vanderbilt said to me, “I think you’ll get more 
pleasure out oi a free run of my stablc.s than out of a free run of 
jiiy house. ’ 

Whenever I w'as in Paris William Duke would send me word if 
he had any important trials on hand, and often in the early morn- 
ing I would go out to the stables and watch these trials. During 
these sixteen years from 1898 to the outbreak of the First World 
War, while I watched European racing, breeding, and training 
but took no active part myself, my imagination was stirred by, 
and I have retained vivid impressions of, a few great horses; there 
were, of course, many others just as good, great, and successful, 
but they and their performances have not stayed in my memory 
in the same way. I say without hesitation that of all the horses 
which I saw in England, Tetrarch and Spearmint w'cre the two 
that impressed me most. I saw mares like Sceptre and Pretty Poily 
and horses hke Ardpatrick and Sunstar in England, and Sardana- 
pale in France. Sceptre and Pretty Polly are the only two mares 
that I have ever known which, in qu.ility and character, were 
comparable with the great horses that I have named. They both 
possessed speed, strength, and soundness of wind and limb on a 
scale equal to any male horse; so good were they that they were 
raced until they were five years old, and their descendants have 
left their mark on bloodstock in England. In general, however, 
there can be no doubt that the male thoroughbred is greatly 
superior to the marc. Not one of these marcs left on me the 
durable impression of power that I derived from Spearmint and 
Tetrarch in England, and one outstanding French horse. Prestige. 

I am not at all sure that Prestige was not the most impressive 
racehorse that I ever saw. Mr. Vanderbilt owned another horse 
called Maintenon at the same time as Prestige and they were often 
tried out in gallops together. Maintenon was a good horse and he 
w'on the French Derby, but in a real hard gallop he could never 
get within twenty lengtlts of Prestige. William Duke, who 
trained both of them, told me again and again that no weight— 
not even three stone — could have brought the two horses together. 
Unfortunately Prestige was never entered in a single important 



iHl; MtMUiRS Or AoA ii.HAN 


race; if he had been he would have won in a canter. He was 
never defeated and he was never out of a gentle gallop, because 
nobody seemed to realize the reserve power which he had and 
could have shown if he had ever been called on to do so. It was 
the Same story with his morning gallops. The jockeys who rode 
him told Duke that they were actually afraid of pushing him, 
even to a fraction of his best, lest he run away with them. He was 
a beautiful-tempered horse, and to this day I have never been 
able to understand why Mr. Vanderbilt sold liim very cheaply 
and kept far less impressive horses as stallions. True, Prestige 
never got good mares, but still he sired Sardanapale. 

When Sardanapale was at the height of his power and his 
glory, having just won the Grand Prix de Paris and the French 
Derby, the First World War came. 1 was then, as I have recorded, 
in Africa. When I returned to Europe I found that racing for all 
practical purposes was dead; I myself was busy and intensely pre- 
occupied with the events and doings which I have described. I did 
not go to a race course or follow racing form again in the slightest 
until 1919, when the first post-war Derby was run at Epsom. 
From then onwards until 1921 I got myself back into the habit 
of going to any important race meeting, wherever I happened to 
be, England, France, Belgium, Italy, India, or Egypt. I had long 
ago made up my mind — far back in the nineties — to have a few 
horses in Europe, but the death of my dearly beloved cousin, 
Aga Shamsuddin, with whom I had intended to open a stable in 
Europe in 191Q, had put an end to all my hopes and ideas on this 
matter. 

Then one day in the spring of 1921 at dinner at Mrs. Edwin 
Montagu’s house, I found myself sittuig next to Mrs. Asquith, 
a daughter-in-law of the former Prime Mhiister, and a sister of 
Mrs. George Lambton. We talked horses and she urged me as 
vigorously as she could, to take up breeding bloodstock and 
racing in England. 

“Why don’t you,” she said, “send for my brother-in-law, 
George, and ask liim to buy a few mares and yearlings for you?” 

Back in my room at the Ritz I sat down and wrote a note to 
George Lambton asking Irim to call on me. Our conversation bore 
fruit. He introduced me to Richard Dawson, a well-known Irish 
sportsman, and recommended liim to take up my training for me, 

I9<5 



MY CAHfctR ON THE TURF 

while he himself agreed to buy me a few yearlings. When I went 
back to Paris I sent for William Duke, whose patron, Mr. 
Vanderbilt, was dead, and who therefore was free to work for 
someone else. He began to train and buy yearlings for me in 
France; in England Mr. Lambton did the buying and Mr. Dawson 
the training. Then I myself began to study the breeding of the 
yearlings that came up for sale at Deauville and Doncaster. 
Among the Doncaster yearlings I chose one in particular that 
became one of the marcs on which I founded my stud, the filly 
to which I gave the name Tcrcsina. At the same time I picked 
out another yearling by the same sire Tracery; I wired Lambton 
and I wrote post-haste to Dawson, urging the purchase of this 
colt. The colt was none other than Papyrus, the Derby winner 
0/1923, Mr. Lambton did not Jil:c him, finding him too small and 
on the stocky side. 

That shows how little -we ought to go by the make and the 
shape of a yearling, so long as his legs are sound and he is neither 
a giant nor a lilliputiaii. Apart from the all-important factor of liis 
breeding, I have one rule by which to judge a yearling; is he 
going to be very tall and heavy or will he never be more than a 
pony? Do his legs look strong enough to stand tlie hard leg- 
exercises, gallops, and so forth of training? 

The general public take a great interest in racing; they have 
their favourites, their likes, and tlieir dislikes, but very few people 
really understand what is the foundation of the art of training a 
racehorse. The object is precisely the same as that of training a 
boxer. Your boxer, your wrestler, your wcightlifter, by various 
muscular exercises and movements undertaken daily, in a care- 
fully thought-out and planned programme, gets his whole body, 
his nerves, his muscles, his capacity to give and take punishment 
all brought to their fullest, most perfect pitch of development— 
for the day of his crucial contest. 

With a horse, of course, there is no question of putting him 
down on his back to do all the scientifically planned and dis- 
ciplined exercises diat a human athlete can be put through. There 
is only one way of building up a horse’s muscles — and the nervous 
energy that must take charge of those muscles— and that is hy 
walking, running, and, if necessary, a certain amount of jumping. 
The great trainer is the one who Imows how to adjust the pattern 

197 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA jvhAN 


of these exercises so that his horses will attain the height of their 
physical power, fresh and vigorous and with their nervous energy 
at its peak, on the most important day of their racing careers, 
just as the prize fighter who wins is the one who is on the top of 
his form when he steps into the ring in Madison Square Garden. 

My recollections of thirty years of European racing, from 1922, 
when my colours were first seen on English and French race 
courses, to 1952, are countless in their variation, both in respect of 
men and of horses. 

Across memory’s screen so many great sportsmen come and 
go — ^English, American, French, with all their individual char- 
acteristics, their quirks of outlook and temperament. I recall im- 
mediately, for example, Mr. Joseph Widencr, of Philadelphia, 
one of my closest and kindest friends, among American owners. 
He had strong opinions about breeding, particularly on the subject 
of the importance of the dam, as against the sire, in bloodstock. 
I once said to liim that since he was convinced that the maternal 
was much more important than the paternal, if he apphed his 
theories to human beings, a family would rapidly degenerate 
unless its young men married Widener girls. Was my joke in 
good taste? At any rate he was good enough to laugh at it. 

My friend the late Lord Wavertree was another who attached 
little importance to the sire and great importance to the dam. 
Lord Wavertree, indeed, went further over this than anyone else 
I have known, holding that if your mares are good it really does 
not matter what sort of sire you mate them with. My own view 
is that you must try to secure the best and most suitable breeding 
through both sire and dam, bring it by both in-breeding and out- 
crossing as near perfect in the abstract as you can. Success will 
depend on whether any particular foal takes after his dam and 
the majority of her maternal ascendants or after his sire and the 
majority of Iris paternal ascendants. Thus with two horses wliich 
are full brothers, unless they arc identical twins, it is not possible 
to say with certainty whether they will possess similar or dis- 
similar characteristics. One may display the paternal ascendant 
qualities of the sire and be a very great horse; the other may have 
the maternal ascendants of the dam and be a poor horse. On the 
other hand, both or either may possess the maternal ascendants 
of sire or dam, and be a failure. Thus after a great deal of study 

108 



MY CAREER ON THE TURF 

and careful tliouglit and weigliiiig-up of inucli experience, I have 
come to the conclusion that I still must leave it co citance, for it 
is quite impossible to say in advance that a horse, possessing the 
best blood in the world, will turn out any good, and this despite 
anything his own brother or sister may have done. 

I advised Mr. Lambton to buy some excellent mares, and he 
himself picked out some fine ones, like Muintaz Mahal and Cos; 
and he picked up a couple ot very good colts, Diophon and 
Salmon Trout. My immediate success, I am convinced, was due 
to the fact that I began my European racing career with two of 
the greatest trainers ot all time to look after my horses, William 
Duke and Richard Dawson, 

Trainers as capable as Richard Dawson no doubt exist today, 
but I do not tliink there is anyone who has his supreme courage — 
unless it be Madame Tesio of Italy. Dawson’s great quality was 
that he would risk everything in order that his horse should be at 
Ids very best, muscled up to perfection, for the most important 
event of his life. From all I hear today the methods tliat arc 
fashionable both in England and with the majority of French 
trainers are fat more tender. In general, trainers nowadays spare 
their horses a great deal more than did men like Daw'son and 
Duke, or, for that matter, the man whom I consider the greatest 
trainer of all, Frank Butters. 

There is far too much coddling at present, far too much cotton- 
wool. Since nearly all trainers subscribe to the current fashionable 
views it does not matter greatly, but I think if any of them came 
up against one of the hard men of the past or Madame Tesio, 
they would show up badly. The reason given is doubtless that in 
the old days, many horses were broken down in the proces.s of 
training. I have been told that Gilpin, one of the greatest of old- 
time trainers, only a few days before the Derby broke down the 
filiy with which, he had expected to win it. Gilpin was not in the 
slightest bit ruffled; he did not even apologize to the owner. He 
said, quite rightly, that if he had spared her the gallop in which 
she broke down she would never have won the Derby, and that 
it was his job to take every chance for a win rather than by 
insufficient preparation ensure defeat. 

From 193 1 onwards I had the great good fortune of having 
my very dear friend, Mr. Frank Butters, to train for me, for whom 

J99 



THE memoirs of ACiA E.HAN 


we all in my family have the greatest affection. Mr. Butters, one 
of the most delightful human beings one could ever hope to meet, 
with a nature as clean and clear as a diamond but without its 
harshness, was one of the greatest and most successful trainers in 
the world. He began his career in Austria and Hungary and rose 
immediately to the top of his profession. He moved on to Italy 
and there too in no time he was at the top again. Later he took 
Lord Derby’s stable in hand, and with horses like Fairway and 
others he was the leading trainer in Britam for several years and 
made his patron the leading owner. When he left Lord Derby 
and came to me the tables were quickly turned and I took the 
front again as leading owner and breeder. For me he trained a 
succession of magnificent horses like Bahram, Mahmoud, Tehran, 
and Firdaussi, and a great many splendid two-year-olds. Even 
more wonderful than his success with great horses was his way 
with quite moderate ones. He had a wonderful knack of getting 
out of any horse the very best that that horse could do. 

In some ways Butters and Duke were alike, particularly in diat 
neither of them attached the importance that most other trainers 
attach to the detailed appearance of the yearlings which came to 
them. Mr. Duke used to go out of his way to pooh-pooh people 
who chose yearlings on appearance and make and shape; he held 
that one yearhiig was as good as another, if it were properly 
trained and had in it the natural quaHties of health and nervous 
energy, and — most important of aU — the capacity to rest and to 
sleep. When he bought yearlings for me he never bothered to 
make any elaborate inspection of them; in fact I doubt if he ever 
gave them a second thought. If while an auction was in progress 
he failed to buy one yearling for which he had been bidding, he 
was never disappohited but would laugh it off and say that the 
next would probably be better stiU. To bun it was almost Hke 
putting numbers in a hat and pulling them out — ^plus, of course, 
absolute confidence in liis own methods of training. He beHeved 
in himself, not in his yearhngs. Long before tliey were in general 
use he employed vitamins and other natural methods of sustaining 
a horse’s health and nervous energies. Duke was a man who had 
a number of enemies, the source of whose hostility was jealousy. 
Those whose expensive yearlings had been beaten by ones that 
Duke had picked up cheaply were apt to hint that he doped his 

"*00 



MV CAar.!.R ON THE iURF 

horses. Nothing could be turthcr from the truth. He would laugh 
and tell me that bis dope was first-class food, a great deal of fresh 
luccnie grass, fresh vitamisis, lots of fresh air in the loose-boxes, 
and hard work for every liorsc. 

French trainmg grounds v/cre very bad in chose days, though I 
am told that they hav’e much improved of late. Duke therefore 
had more or less to train liis horses on tlic race course. He had one 
ver)' honourable rule: that in countries in wliich the training 
grounds were impossible, the public had no business judging a 
horse until he had shown his true form at least once; thereafter 
any marked inequalities of form were against the public interest, 
and a good trainer ought not to keep a horse that ran thus but 
should turn him out ol the stable. A horse should be consistent in 
his form once he had shown it, but the public had no right to 
expect a trainer or an owner to break his horse on impossible 
training grounds. 

Frank Butters, on the otlicr hand, never needed races as pre- 
paration for his horses. If liis two-year-olds were ever capable of 
winning they won the first time they were out. The great Bahram, 
for example, before his Derby had one race — the Two Thousand 
Guineas — and he cantered away with that as he did with the 
Derby. No nonsense about his needing two or three eye-openers. 

I have often been asked which I considered to be the greatest 
horse I ever bred. Until Tulyar came on the scene I would un- 
hesitatingly have said Balirarn. But Tulyar has sliown a certain 
capacity for always doing just enough, which makes it difficult 
to assess his limits as compared with Bahrain’s. Bahram was prob- 
ably the most dominating horse I ever saw. From the first he 
looked and acted the champion. Tulyar running is a greyhoimd. 
In my youth I saw the great Flying Fox as a two- and three-year- 
old — curiously like Tulyar, he ran with liis head in line with his 
body or perhaps even lower; practically every horse runs with his 
neck carried higher than his body, and some with their heads right 
up. Tulyar and Flying Fox have been the only two exceptions to 
this rule that I have ever seen. But the present Lord Rosebery, 
that great figure in English racing — and how widespread is the 
regret that he does not take a more leading and active part in its 
administration — has told me that the famous Eclipse, the ancestor 
of almost aU the good horses in the world, used to gallop with his 

'•m 



IHE MliMOlRS Oi:* AG A iwHAN 

head right down, almost as if he were smelling the grotmd. 
Tulyar gallops like a bullet, straight as an arrow. We must, how- 
ever, face the fact that Tulyar — unlike Bahrain — is on the small 
side for a great racehorse. Bahram was the tallest Derby winner 
of modern times, and Tulyar is probably one of the shortest. 
And there is no getting away from the old, old saying: “A big 
good ’un is better than a httle good ’tin.” 

I am not sure, however, that dicrc is not another side to this 
question. Many sound judges — ^hke Mr. Frank Butters and the late 
Captain Greer — have told me that English breeders have gone too 
much for size and bone, and that we need a smaller run of staUion 
to achieve that concentration of vitality which is so often found 
in small men and animals. I think that there is a great deal in this, 
and I am glad to think therefore that Tulyar will remain in 
Ireland to influence new generations and to check this over- 
emphasis on size and bone. Many of us had hoped that the Derby 
winner, Manna — also a small horse — ^would help to bring down 
size, but Mamia unfortunately was a comparative failure. The 
great Hyperion of course was a small horse, and one of the 
greatest stallions of all time. But we need more than one Hyperion 
if we are to prevail against the present tendency to sacrifice 
vitality and nervous energy to muscle and bone. 

***** 

Looking back in this fashion over my memories of ownuig, 
breeding, and racing horses, I do not propose to give a detailed 
account of my wins, my prizes, my bloodstock sales, and so forth. 
For those who want that sort of record it is admirably supphed 
by Ruff’s Guide to the Turf. My own recollections stretch back well 
over fifty years, to the late nineties, to a generation of jockeys, 
owners, and trainers long since departed, and to methods of riding 
entirely forgotten except in old prints and pictures. There was the 
first Duke of Westminster, for example, gentle and kind in 
appearance, yet with a strain of irascibility in him. When Mr. 
Gladstone, who had many years before given him his dukedom, 
announced his support of Irish Home Rule, the Duke uncere- 
moniously bundled Mr. Gladstone’s portrait out of his house and 
into a pubhc auction. He was small and lightly built and — so I 
was told — actually rode some of his own best horses at trials. He 

" 20 '' 



CAULLR ON IHi; iURr 

liad one odd sartorial whim: alv/ays, whatever the occasion, he 
wore, cither witli a morning coat or a frock coat, a blue shirt, a 
blue collar, and a blue necktie. 

One day the Duke of Westminster went into his stables, and 
a marc, Vampire, attacked him. He at once ordered Vampire to 
be destroyed. He was begged to reprieve her and finally agreed. 
T wo or three years later she got him The Bat and later Flying Fox. 

There was the Duke of Portland, whom in later years I caine 
to know very well; after the Derby of 1935 he listed for me the 
pohits of resemblance between his great St. Simon and my great 
Bahrain. 

There was Sir J. B. — “Blundell” — Maple, tlic father-in-law of 
my friend Baron Eckardstcin, bigly built, loud of voice, self- 
confident, even perhaps self-satisfied, certainly self-made, but 
withal a truly kind-hearted and generous person. However, as 
founder and owner of his furniture store in Tottenham Court 
Road, he was not popular with the supremely aristocratic little 
clique which in those days ruled the Jockey Club; time and again 
they blackballed him. One day it became known that he was 
dying; there was remorse all round, and he was elected to the 
Jockey Club post-haste. 

There were the brothers Reuben and Arthur Sassoon, two of 
the kindliest old men I ever met, generous and gentle. They had 
no hint of snobbishness in them, but they were extremely well 
liked in society at its highest levels, and were both close personal 
friends of King Edward. I have always understood that they did 
his modest betting for him at race meetings; his stakes ranged 
from twenty-five to fifty pounds, but the Sassoons placed them 
with as much care and trouble and anxious inquiry as if they had 
been for thousands of pounds. 

The great event in racing in the late nineties, of course, was the 
revolution in riding that came from America. Lord William 
Beresford brought over Tod Sloan with his American mount. All 
the leading owners, like the Dukes of Westminster and Portland, 
pooh-poohed it at first. But it upset every applecart. Race after 
race was won by Sloan and liis American imitators, who invaded 
both England and France. The old-fasliioned champions, if they 
were too old or too stubborn to move with the times and change, 
had to give up and retire altogether. Not long after this doping 

203 



THli MiiMUlRS OF AGA /i.HAN 

was introduced — also from across the Atlantic. This also upset 
everybody, and it took several years to get it finally barred in 
England and in France and its perpetrators sternly punished. The 
American mount, however, was a quite different matter. It had 
come to stay, and nobody thereafter thought of returning to the 
old cavalry seat in racing, with its erect posture. In its own way 
tliis was as big a revolution in racing as was the discovery of gun- 
powder in warfare. It is undoubtedly true that the results are an 
immense improvement on those of the past, but aesthetically the 
old seat, with its dignity and grace in the rider as much as in the 
horse, is a great loss. 

I have often been asked how the best horses of today compare 
with the best horses of the late nineties and the early years of 
this century. Are today’s best really much superior to their pre- 
decessors? I personally have not the least hesitation in saying that 
great progress has been made in the past fifty years. And why not? 
If it had not been, racing — with all its countless and elaborate 
methods of breeding and selection — ^would be senseless and time- 
wasting, The whole object of picking and choosing in mating 
horses is constantly to improve the breed by letting artificial 
selection assist natural selection. We who breed racehorses firmly 
believe that the combination of these two, if it is carried out con- 
scientiously and scientifically, can and does produce steady and 
marked improvement in racial characteristics and quaUties. There 
is a time test not only of record performances but of average races 
over long but comparable periods of weeks in, let us say, 1914 
and the present day. Statistically tested thus, there is no doubt that 
today’s horses do run faster. The exceptional horse apart, the 
average speed has increased out of all recognition. 

We arc told that the horses of the past could sustain a gallop 
twice or three times as long as the ordinary course of today. The 
veterinary services in India, too, produced a genus of crank of 
their own who maintained that the ordinary Indian horse — the 
Katty — ^is superior to the thoroughbred because he can jog along 
at a regular pace for miles and miles and miles without stopping. 
Well, what of it? We have bred for speed, and surely the answer 
to these croakers and cranks is that tlie English thoroughbred is 
not called on to sustain a six- or nine-mile gallop, or to keep going 
all day; he can sprint a few furlongs and then lie down and sleep — 

204 



MY CAKLhR ON i'llb iURr 


let the Katty horse amble a\vay~and in that brict sprint he has 
done all the work that the other horse could have done, without 
the same long draw on lus constitution and vitality. Whatever 
the distance — long or shore— the thoroughbred wiU defeat the 
jogger, because he lias that extra vitality which will produce the 
effort needed. The racehorse is bred for a higWy specialized pur- 
pose, and he fulfils that purpose very well. The sheer facts sustain 
all the theories about breeding and selection and prove — it seems 
to me beyond the possibihty of contradiction— that there is a 
-Steady and continuing improvement in the quality of the English 
thoroughbred racehorse. 


20^ 



CHAPTER X 


TOWARDS DOMINION STATUS- 
THE ROUND TABLE CONFERENCES 


F or several years, from the end of 1924 onwards, I took little 
part in public life. In India the strength of nationalist senti- 
ment grew steadily throughout these years. The personal 
leadersliip and authority of Mahatma Gandhi in the Congress 
Party intensified; the Nehrus, father and son, and Vallabhai Patel 
were the only leaders approaching him in stature. There were 
periods of fierce conflict and sullen repression; there were periods 
of comparative quiescence. The consciousness among Muslims 
that they must work out their own destiny strengthened steadily. 
To Lord Chelmsford succeeded Lord Reading; to Lord Reading, 
Lord Irwin, ^ who, as Edward Wood, had been a Minister in Mr. 
Baldwin’s first Government, a profoundly sincere and serious- 
minded man of deep reUgious convictions. Britain’s promise of 
self-government by stages still stood out as the crucial decision in 
Indo-British relations. Agitation increased, as successive Govern- 
ments seemed all equally reluctant to take the first steps towards 
implementing this promise. 

Of these events and trends I was an interested observer but little 
more, A fuU, active, and eventful private and personal life 
engrossed roe. I went to India every year; my wife was setded in 
the South of France; my son, Aly, his cliildish delicacy overcome, 
hved in England with his tutor, Mr. C. W. Waddington.® In the 
winter of 1923-4 my wife and son came with me to India, My 
own interest in racing during this period was extremely active; 
my wife followed my racing in France but not in England. 

In 1926 she fell ill, and was an invalid throughout that year. The 
doctors offered aU sorts of diagnoses, ranging from indigestion 
to “nerves”. Later in the year she was in a great deal of pain; 
* Now Lord Halifax. ® Formerly Principal of the Mayo College at Ajmer. 

'’ori 



UOMINIUN SiAiUS — itifc ROaND iABLE CONf ERi.N'CE 5 

and now at last the doctors paid some attention to her condition, 
and an operation ior appendicitis was suggested. The operation 
was performed in December. It was discovered that she was not 
suftering from .appendicitis. She seemed to make a steady recover)^. 
But one afternoon 1 was out driving in the Bois, and wijeu I went 
back to the hospital I was told tiiat .she had died during my 
absence. A sm.ali blood clot had escaped, tr.xvellcd to her heart, 
and killed her. She was thirty-seven years old. 

More than a year passed. E.arly in 1928 I proposed marriage to 
Mile. Andrec Carron of Chambery, Aix-les-Bains. I h,xd known 
Mile. Carron and her family for twelve or fourteen years, since 
indeed she was quite a young girl. She was tliirty when I pro- 
posed to her. She hesitated for a long time before accepting me; 
and it w.as not until nearly two years later — ^December 1929 — 
that we ■were married at Aix-les-Bains. There arose a ridiculous 
legend — created and fostered by the newspapers — that I met her 
serving behind the counter in a chocolate shop whither I had gone 
to buy sweets. There was never a word of truth m it. What hap- 
pened was tills: when tlie news of our intended marriage reached 
the papers, all they knew was that I was going to marry someone 
called Carron from Clumbciy. The reporters descended on 
Chambery looking for a MUe, Carron. At last they found one — 
sclhng candy in a sweet shop, 

“There she is,” they said, and scurried off to telephone their 
newspapers tliat they had discovered the MUc. Carron whom the 
Aga Klian was going to marry. 

The girl in the candy shop had never met me; she did not know 
me from Adam; my Mile. Carron was someone quite different, 
who for several years had had a dressmaking shop in Paris with 
her sister, and she had never in her life had anything to do with 
chocolates. But the legend got away to a flying start, and the 
truth never seemed to catch up with it. 

Ours was for many years a happy and well-knit marriage. We 
had one cliild, my second son Sadruddin who was born on 
17th January, 1933. My wife went everywhere with me. In 
England in 1930 she was received by their Majesties and 'v.'as 
invited to luncheon at Ascot. She shared my social life actively 
and fully for many years. 

if ¥ * * * 

H 207 



iHi. MtMolRS Ut AisA li-aAN 


Meanwhile, I was being drawn back into political and public 
hie. Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, in a momentous pronouncement, 
had shown Indians what — hi the British view — was to be their 
ultimate goal in tlieir constitutional evolution, but he had omitted 
to indicate with any precision the steps or the road to that 

gof 

“In view of the doubts wliich have been expressed,” said Lord 
Irwhi, “both in Great Britain and India regarding the interpreta- 
tion to be placed on the intentions of the British Government in 
enacting the statute of 1919, 1 am authorized to state clearly tliat 
in their judgment, it is implicit m the Declaration of 1917 that the 
natural issue of India’s constitutional progress as there contem- 
plated is the attainment of Dontinion status.” 

The tv,'o words, “Dominion status”, were to focus and bind 
Indian ambitions and aspirations for a decade and more, in an ever 
more forceful and dynamic drive towards independence; and 
in the end there emerged not one, but two independent and 
sovereign States — Muslim and Hindu — the latter of which was, 
almost immediately, to throwaway even the vestigial and nominal 
hok of being called a Dominion and proclaim itself (as it had the 
constitutional right and ability to do) a Republic within the 
Commonwealth. 

In 1928-9, however, all tliis was to be striven for. Congress 
met in Calcutta and prepared its own scheme for self-govermnent 
and Dominion status; but it was marred by the fat;il, obsessive 
flaw of aU such Congress schemes to the end, that of underrating 
— indeed ignoring — MusUm claims to be considered as a nation 
witliin a nation. MusHra opinion was therefore alert. A Royal 
Commission — that classic British instrument for tackling a grave 
political or constitutional problem, at home or overseas — was by 
now touring India, taking evidence in impressive quantities and 
with vast thoroughness; its chairman was Sir John Simon,^ the 
great lawyer-politician, then almost at the zenith of his dazzhng 
career; among its members was the pertinacious but personally 
self-efiacing Mr. Clement Attlee, on whose knowledge of India 
this experience was to have a profound and lasting effect. The 
Viceroy had announced that after the Simon Commission issued 
its report it was intended that a conference should be held between 
^ Afterwards Viscouut Simon. 

•’08 



DOMINION SiAlUS — IHL BOUND lABI.}. CONfiRf.NCJiS 

tiic Government, the representatives of British India, and the 
representatives of the Indian States, in order to try to reach agree- 
ment on the way in which constitutional progress should be 
ensured. 

It was decided therefore to hold an All-India Muslim Con- 
ference in Delhi at the end of 1928, to formulate Muslim views 
on the way in which Indian independence should evolve. I was 
ashed to preside over tliis conference. It proved to be, I am con- 
vinced, one oi the most important in the long series of such 
assemblies which marked the road towards total and final in- 
dependence for the tvliolc subcontinent. It was a vast gathering 
representative of all shades of Mushm opinion. I can claim to be 
the parent of its important and lasting political decisions. After 
long, full, and frank discussions we were able to adopt unani- 
mously a series of principles which we set out in a manifesto. 
They were as follows; 

In view of India’s vast extent and its ethnologic, d divisions, the 
only form of government suitable to Indian conditions is a federal 
system with complete autonomy and residuar)’ powers vested iu 
tile constituent States. 

The right of Muslims to elect their representatives in the various 
Indian legislatures is now the law of the land, and Muslims cannot 
be deprived of that right wicliout their consent. 

In the provinces in wliich Muslims constitute a minority they 
shall have a representation in no case less than that enjoyed by tlieni 
under the existing law (a principle known as weightage). 

It is essential that Mushms shall have their due share in the central 
and provincial Cabinets. 

We agreed to concede a similar kind of “weightage” to the 
Hindu minorities in Sind and other predominantly Muslim pro- 
vinces, but we insisted that a fair proportion of Muslims should be 
admitted into the Civil Service and into all statutory self-govern- 
ing bodies. I myself demanded appropriate safeguards for “the 
promotion and protection of Muslim education, languages, re- 
ligion, personal law, and charitable institutions” — all causes for 
which, over years, I had fought as strenuously as I could. I also 
thought it right to warn my co-religionists and compatriots of the 
perils of being too easily taken in by Congress’s piotestations of 
undefined goodwill. 


200 



Xlit MhMOlRS Or AGA r.iiAN 


The principles which we had enunciated were to be our guiding 
hghts henceforward in all our encounters with British or liindu 
representatives and negotiators, with the Government of India or 
with the Congress Party, in every discussion of schemes of reform 
and new projects for the adinmistration of the country. Wenow 
had our code-book, and wc did not intend to deviate from it. 

The unanimity of this conference was especially significant, for 
it marked the return' — long delayed and for the moment private 
and with no public avowal of liis cliange of mind — of Mr. M. A. 
Jinnah to agreement with his fcllow-Muslims. Mr. Jimiah had 
attended the Congress Party’s meeting in Calcutta shortly before, 
and had come to the conclusion that for liim there was no future 
in Congress or in any camp — allegedly on an All-India basis — 
which was in fact Hindu-dominated. We had at last won him 
over to our view. 

If India’s political and constitutional evolution could be likened 
to a protracted and hard-fought chess contest (the analogy is im- 
perfect, I know, for there were always at least three players in this 
game), dien it may be said that the board had now been set for 
an especially crucial game, the pieces were aU in place, and there 
was a considerable luU wtulc everyone thought out his next move. 
The Simon Commission set about the task of preparing its report. 
A General Election in Britain resulted in the resignation of Mr. 
Baldwin, and the formation by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald of liis 
second Labour Administration; but although the Labour Party 
were numerically the strongest, they did not command an absolute 
majority in the House of Commons and were dependent, as five 
years before, on Liberal support. 

The world scene changed rapidly and startlingly during 1929. 
The Wail Street crash ushered in the years of economic depres- 
sion, the slump which was to send unemployment figures steadily 
mounting in practically every Western country, and was to lead 
desperate men — in Germany and elsewhere — to seek desperate 
remedies. The brief and deceptively sunlit epoch of the 1920s was 
over; wc were on the threshold of what Sir Winston Churchill 
has described as “the terrible diirties”. 

I spent the first three montlis of 1939 in Egypt, making a 
close study of Egyptology, having as my guide and instructor 
Professor Newbury — a most distinguished Egyptologist — ^who 

">70 



DOMINION SlAlUS — iHt ROUND TABLE CONFEHtNCeS 

acconipaiiiccl me on a tour ot all the monuments ot the Nile 
Valley right up to Abu Siinbal and back. 

The British High Commissioner in Egypt was Lord Lloyd, 
wliom I had known well in India durinsj his highlv successful time 
as Governor of Bombay. A strong-minded imperialist of the 
school of Cromer and Curzon, George Lloyd was very shortly to 
come into conflict with hi.s Government at home and resign the 
post in which he felt that he had lost their confidence. He was a 
man of remarkable intellectual gifts and great tenacity of purpose. 
Since he believed so fervently and with so deep and unswerving 
a passion in the greatness of Britain’s imperial destiny, it was 
perhaps a blessing in disguise that he died early in the Second 
World War, while still — as statesmen are reckoned — a compara- 
tively young man, for bitter indeed would have been his feelings 
had he lived to see the final hauling down of the British flag in 
India and the partition of the subcontinent into the republic of 
Bharat and — in all probability — die eventual repubUc of Pakistan. 

To me personally he was the kindest and most generous of 
hosts; but I could not help being uncomfortably aware of his 
unpopularity with all sections of the Egyptian governing class. 
King Fuad, whom I had known for more than tliirty years and 
with whom I had been in particularly close contact when the 
British Government sent me on my mission to Egypt early in the 
First World War, made a special point of asking me to call and 
see him. He received me in private at the Abdin Palace. We were 
alone togedier for a long time and we had a reveahng, if sadden- 
ing, conversation. The King was already a sick man, though 
nobody realized the seriousness of liis malady. He wept openly 
at the way in which he liimsclf was rebuffed and neglected, and 
at the British High Commissioner’s relentless refusal to permit 
him to have any effective say m the governing of liis own country. 

“Lloyd,” he said, “pulls the strings while the marionettes dance. 
Cromer fumed Abbas Hilmi into a puppet. Lloyd is turning me 
into a corpse!” 

At the Mohammed Ali Club, which was the great meeting 
place of Egypt’s leaders, where they could talk, play their beloved 
cards, and canvass all their countless poUrical and business schemes 
and plans, I heard — from one friend and acquaintance after 
anotlier — the same story: Field-Marshal Lord Allenby, for whose 



iHJa MhMOIRS Of AOA j^HAN 

inflexible sense of justice they had a profound admiration, had 
made promises wliicli had led them to expect increasing independ- 
ence; but now they found that the “strings” which Allenby had 
reserved for the High Commissioner had been converted by 
Lloyd into iron chains — not, I may say, my own words but the 
precise plirase used to me by more than one Egyptian Adinistcr. 

Why had Lord Lloyd, who in India had been quite liberal and 
had always acted in the spirit of the constitution under which he 
governed as well as the letter, shown so different a face in Egypt? 
Why had he indeed acted not as a High Commissioner but as a 
Viceroy with plenary powers? May the answer not be that when 
he was in India as Governor of Bombay, the Montagu-Chelms- 
ford constitution, whose principles he apphed hberaUy and 
generously, limited home rule to certain clearly specified spheres 
of activity and administration, and within those well-defined 
limits there was neither need nor excuse for Lloyd to interfere? 
But in Egypt the glove came offhis icon hand; for there the whole 
relationship was fluid and indeterminate, and there were no clear- 
cut lines of demarcation to divide and define the respective spheres 
of authority of the King and his Ministers and of the British High 
Commissioner. The Egyptians considered that their country was 
an independent sovereign State and that the King and Ins advisers 
were absolutely their own masters, not only in all matters of 
internal, executive, day-to-day control, and administration of 
their country’s affairs, but indeed in external relations, while 
the High Commissioner’s function was merely to watch Great 
Britain’s interests and see that Egypt took no action and joined no 
diplomatic combination hostile or injurious to Britain. George 
Lloyd on the other hand saw no clear definition of his powers or 
of those of the King and Iris Ministers, and he realized that if he 
did not keep a close watch and a firmly guiding hand the whole 
team might get out of control. 

* * A- * ★ 

In the summer of 1930 the Simon Commission issued its report. 
Its analysis of India’s political history under British rule and of her 
contemporary situation was as masterly as it was lucid; it was, 
however, on the constructive side of its task that the Commission’s 
report fell sharply short of the high expectations and hopes that 



JJOMIMOX blAlD.S — lilJ; ROUND 1 AiU.L CONl’iKiNLiiS 

its appointment liad aroused. It particularly disappointed the 
Congress leaders, and their resentment of it was loudly and un- 
equivocally expressed. Lord Irwiu, the Viceroy, was on leave in 
England in the earlier part of 1930, and when he returned to India 
he announced that His Majesry’s Government proposed to con- 
vene a Round Table Conference in London to consider the future 
ot the country and to rciorm its constitution. The announcemeut 
came at a time of considerable tension, when a civil disobedience 
campaign, launched by Mahatma Gandlii, was at its height. It 
eased the tension for the time being; and the Viceroy was able to 
receive, in a c>alnier political atmosphere than had seemed possible 
a few weeks before, a representative delegation^ to discuss the 
date and the personnel of the Round Table Conference, and the 
question of an amnesty for political offenders gaoled in connection 
with the civil disobedience campaign. Agreement, however, was 
not reached at this preliminary meeting; Mahatma Gandhi with- 
drew, and refused to give any undertaking that Congress would 
attend the Round Table Conference. The Indian National Con- 
gress in session at Lahore, passed a resolution in favour of a 
renewed resort to civil disobedience. 

The Viceroy pertinaciously maintained his hopeful, sym- 
pathetic, and wise attitude. If Congress would not, at the outset 
at any rate, co-operate in the attempt to find a way out of India’s 
political perplexities, the attempt would still be made. As many 
eminent and representative leaders of Indian political thought and 
feeling as possible — outside the ranks of Congress — would be 
invited. Mr. Nehru, in his Autobiography wliich was pubhshed 
in 1936, when the whole issue of Indian independence was still 
misettled, made some caustic observations about the personal 
qualifications of the delegates to the Conference; in the longer 
perspective ot history, however, it can be seen as a remarkable 
assemblage of men and women of widely differing background 
and outlook, all genuinely anxious to discover a peaceful and 
honourable path to the independence and self-government which 
had explicitly been proclaimed to be the objectives of Britain’s 
rule in India. 

^ The members of the delegation were: Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Tej Baliadur 
Sapm, Pandit Motilal Nehru, Mr. M. A. Jlniuh, and Mr. V. J. Patel, tlicn 
President of the Indian National Assembly. 



THE MtMOIRS OF AGA r^llAN 

The British representatives included the Prime Mhiister, Mr. 
Ramsay MacDonald; the Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey; the 
Secretary of State for India, Mr. Wedgwood Benn; ‘ and — repre- 
senting the Conservative Opposition — Sir Samuel Hoarc,^ who 
was later, in some years that were crucial to India’s destiny, to be 
Secretary of State for India; and Lord Reading, a Liberal leader 
and former Viceroy. The British-Indian delegation, of which I 
had been appointed a member, included Mushm, Hindu, and 
Parsee representatives drawn from many shades of poHtical 
opinion and other delegates representing numerous smaller com- 
munities; among the Muslims, Mr. M. A. Jinnah, Sir Muhammad 
Shafi, Sir Zafrullah Khan, and Maulana Muhammad AH; and 
two women delegates, the Begum Shah Nawaz and Mrs. Sub- 
baroyan. Among the Hindus were Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, the 
Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar, Sir 
Cliimanlal Setalvad, Mr. M. R. Jayakar, and Dewan Bahadur 
Rama Mudahyar; among the Parsees were Sir Phiroze Sethna, 
Sir Cowasji Jehangir, and Sir H. P. Mody. Mr. Ambedkar, 
himself bom an “untouchable”, represented the Depressed Classes, 
and Sir Henry Gidney, the Anglo-Indian community. The repre- 
sentation of ruling princes was as impressive as it was stately, 
including as it did many of the bearers of the greatest and most 
famous names in Indian chivalry. The Maharajah Gaekwar of 
Baroda was their leader, and others with him were the Maharajahs 
of Bikaner, Patiala, Bhopal, Kashmir, Rewa, and Jamnagar — 
better known perhaps to milHons of British citizens as the un- 
forgettable “Ranji” of cricket fame. The Princes were accom- 
panied, many of diem, by their Diwans — their Prime Ministers — 
who included statesmen of the quality and distinction of Sir Akbar 
Hydari and Sir Mirza Ismail, and other eminent men. 

We assembled in London in the autumn of 1930. I had the 
honour of being elected leader of the Mushm delegation. We 
estabhshed our headquarters in the Ritz Hotel, where it has long 
been my custom to stay whenever I am in London. It is no 
formahty to say that it was an honour to be chosen to lead so 
notable a body of men — including personahties of the cahbre of 
Mr. M. A. Jinnah, later to be the creator of Pakistan and the 
Quaid-i-Azam, or Sir Muhammed Zafrullah Khan, for many 

1 Now Lord Stansgate. ^ Now Lord Templewood. 


214 



DOMINION SiAiUS — iHE ROUND iABLe CUNfhReNCtS 

years India’s representative at numerous international conferences 
and first Foreign Minister of Pakistan, or my old and tried friend, 
Sir Muhammad Shafi, one of the founders of the Muslim League. 

The happiness of being thus chosen was for me one of the many 
joys of an exceptionally happy, as wcU as eventful, period of my 
life. It svas the first twelvemonth of my marriage to Mile. Andrec 
Catron, and I had also had the by no means negligible experience 
of winning the Derby with Blenheim. 

Later, then, in this — for me — memorable year the full first 
Round Table Conference began with a formal inaugural session 
ill the House of Lords, presided over by His Majesty ICing 
George V. My colleagues then accorded me the further honour ot 
electing me to be Chairman of the British-Indian section of the 
Conference, tliat is, of all the Indian representatives except the 
ruling princes, who had come, of course, as their own representa- 
tives and in their own capacity as the sovereigns of tlieir various 
Principahties and States. 

The King, not long recovered from his extremely serious illness, 
made of his opening speech a most moving appeal to us all to 
contemplate tlie momentous cliaracter of the task to which, we had 
set our hands. He said: 

I shall follow the course of your proceedings with the closest 
and most sympathetic interest, not indeed without anxiety but with 
a greater confidence. The material conditions tvhich surround the 
lives of my subjects in India affect me nearly, and will be ever 
present in my thoughts during your forthcoming deliberations. I 
have also in mind the just claims of majorities and minorities, of 
men and women, of town-dwcllcrs and tillers of tlie soil, of land- 
lords and tenants, of the strong and the weak, of the rich and poor, 
of the races, castes, and creeds of which the body politic is com- 
posed. For those dungs I care deeply. I camiot doubt that the true 
foundation of self-government is in the fusion of such divergent 
claims into mutual obligations and in their recognition and fulfil- 
ment. It is my hope that the future government of India based on 
its foundation will give expression to her honourable aspirations. 

Other eloquent and stirring orations followed; and the Con- 
ference, moving to St. James’s Palace, settled down to its complex 
and formidable task. We achieved a surface Irarmony, but under- 
neath there were deep and difficult rifts of sentiment and of 

2i<; 



iHt MiiMOlRS OF AoA x^HAN 


outlook whose eft'ect was bound to be felt from the outset. In 
order to understand this, it is necessary to restate briefly the 
pohtical situation and the state of Indo-British relations as they 
both stood in tliis autumn of 1930. The Simon Commission’s 
Report advanced a scheme wliich denied central responsibility 
and also relegated the idea of a federation of India to a distant and 
imdeflned future. Tliis could not really be satisfactory to anybody, 
for it offered not a workable compromise but an evasion of an 
existhig — indeed a pressing — pohtical conflict. For wliile the 
whole drive of the Hindu movement to self-govenunent was 
concentrated on the idea of a strong central government and the 
estabhshment of an immediate democracy, conceived solely in 
terms of numbers, in which rcUgious differences cormted as such 
and as notliing more, MusHm opinion had crystalhzcd steadily in 
favour of a distribution of powers from the centre to virtually 
self-governing and autonomous provincial governments. Finally, 
no one had as yet evolved the conception of an All-India federa- 
tion in which the States would be partners. Therefore none of the 
major parties at the Conference arrived with any definite scheme 
— only with conflicting claims. The British Government, not 
unnaturally, were somewhat at sea when presented with what 
seemed to be a series of contradictor)’- and irreconcilable claims 
and counter-clahns. 

The first essential task, as I saw it, was to find some way of 
bridging the gulf between the Muslim and Hindu sections of the 
British-Indian delegation. Only when we had achieved that bridge 
did it seem to me that we could offer to the British representatives 
our conjoint proposals for die constitutional development of 
India. 

Pre-emhient among those whose efforts were devoted with zeal 
and enthusiasm to the same or closely similar ends was my friend, 
Has Higlmess the Nawab of Bhopal. He was an outstanding figure 
among the ruling princes of his time — a devout Muslim, a man 
of drivitig energy and will-power, of great physical strength, a 
sportsman and athlete and a first-class polo player. He was also 
a convinced Indian nationahst, eager to throw off India’s semi- 
colonial yoke, and do away -with her dependent status. He agreed 
with me entirely that, if we of British hidia could not find ways 
and means of settling our own differences of opinion, we could 



DOMINION SiAlUS — iHii HOUND TABLE CONFERENCES 

not go to His Majesty’s Government with any formulated set of 
demands; and this was leaving out of consideration altogether the 
protected States. From the first moment that we met at the 
Nawah’s house, it was my deep conviction that tliis was what 
mattered most, which made me a champion of a Muslim--Hmdu 
understanding about our ultimate view of an independent India 
— on the one hand a truly confederate State, or on the other a 
State such as Canada, in which the principal and overridmg 
authority and power are reserved for the central government. 

As a preUminary to reaching agreement with our Hindu 
colleagues w'e had to secure agreement inside our own Mushm 
delegation. At first several of the Mushm delegates, in particular 
Mr. Jimiah, were — as they had long been before the Conference — 
suspicious oi the idea of federation. Its dangers were, I well knew, 
neither remote nor unhnportant; to associate a growing democ- 
racy with a number ot States in which personal rule was the 
established and, as it then seemed, inalienable custom, might well 
be a risky as wcU as a complex innovation; and also there was the 
danger that since the majority of ruling princes were Hindu, there 
might be a serious diminution of the political influence of the 
Muslim community within the federation as a whole. However, 
I was convinced that, whatever the temporary difiiculdes and 
risks involved in a federal scheme, it still offered the best and the 
most acceptable solution of India’s poHtical problems, that it 
offered an opportunity which might never occur again, and that 
if it required compromise to make it effective, that would be a 
small price to pay for its obvious and numerous advantages. 

I am happy to think that when within the Muslim delegation 
we had made our decision in favour of federation, Ivir. Jinnah, 
who had been its doughtiest opponent, was an inflexibly loyal and 
irreproachably helpful colleague throughout all the subsequent 
discussions and negotiations. 

Since the ruling princes had signified their assent to some federal 
form of government, it remained now only to win the agreement 
of the Hindu representatives. I strove to convince them that if 
they made the concession of accepting tlie principle of a federated 
and not a united India they — and we — ^would reap the harvest of 
the benefits of immediate and large-scale political advancement 
for the comitry as a whole. The guarantees which we asked 

317 



iHt MEMOIKS OF AGA r^nAN 


consisted of: a truly federal constitution; undertakings that the 
Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal would not, by 
artificial “riggiirg” of the constitution, be turned into minorities; 
the separation of Sind from Bombay, and its estabhshmeiit as 
a separate provmce; the introduction of a full-scale system of con- 
stitutional government in the North-west Frontier Province; and 
the assurance of the statutory reservation of a certain proportion of 
places in the Army and in the Civil Seiwice for Mushms. If they 
gave us assurances of this character, we in our turn would olfer 
them a united front in face of the British. I even went further and 
offered, as a special concession, unity of command under a chosen 
Indian leader whose orders we would bmd the MusHm com- 
munity to accept. In Ihs memoirs. Sir Chimanlal Setalvad has 
referred to these offers of mine, and his evidence at least stands 
firmly on record that if the first Round Table Conference did not 
achieve all that was expected of it, and if, ultimately, not only was 
"Dominion status” not brought about, but India had to be par- 
titioned, some at least of the beginnings of these momentous 
happenings are to be found in the Hindu delegation’s refusal to 
accept my offer. I am certain that Sapru and Sastri, in their heart 
of hearts, wanted to accept our Muslim proposals, but that they 
were afraid of their Hindu colleagues and, above all, of the 
influence of the Mahasabha. 

I must formally record my solemn conviction that had my 
views been accepted then and there, later liistory would have 
taken a profoundly different course, and that there would now 
have long since been in existence a Federal Government of India, 
in which Muslims and Hindus would have been parmers in the 
day-to-day administration of the country, poHticaUy satisfied, and 
contentedly working together for the benefit of India as a whole. 

In a subsequent chapter I shall have occasion to refer to the 
continued stubbormiess and intransigence of Hindu opinion, 
which at a much later date rejected the constitution offered it by 
the British Cabinet Mission. The formulation of tliis constitution, 
in outline and in principle, should have marked the beginning 
of the Round Table Conference, if the Hindu representatives, 
when we met them in the Nawab of Bhopal’s house, had accepted 
my offer on behalf of the Muslims with the sincerity with wliich 
I put it forward. 



DOMINION SiAj-US — iHh ROUND lABLh CONi-iiRENCES 

That acceptance denied us, the rest of the first Round Table 
Conference was not of much essential or practical importance, 
since the foundation on which its dehberations should have been 
built was vague and fragile, instead of strong and firm. 

One successful step forward seemed then to be of great im- 
portance, but time and a train of great events have shown it to 
have been minor and transient. This was the prmces’ announce- 
ment of their acceptance of the idea of federation. The British 
representatives at the Conference hailed it — ^perhaps not unnatur- 
ally from their point of view — as a significant and constructive 
advance, of real assistance in the task of securing a devolution of 
power from the United Kingdom Parhament to a so-called Indian 
Federal Parliament. 

It gained in impressiveness from the fact that Lord Reading, 
the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords, enfolded 
with the august aura of prestige which his status as an ex-Viceroy 
gave him, and strongly convinced as he was of the importance of 
a centralized responsibility in all major spheres of administration 
and executive authority, gave it Iiis hearty if measured approval. 
To the Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, it seemed 
salvation and success for the Conference, rather tlian the ship- 
wreck which — ^so it appeared at the time — would have been dis- 
astrous. Mr. M.acDonald’s situation throughout the Conference 
was complicated and delicate, though hardly unique, for it was 
the kind of situation wliich he frequently had to face in his career. 
At the height of his power he faced it with aplomb and adroitness, 
but it was difficult to disregard the fact that, despite all his diplo- 
matic skill and finesse, he was not unlike the driver who has eight 
spirited horses in his coaching team and is aware that any couple 
can and probably will go off on its own and seek to pull me coach 
in a totally different direction from that which he intends. 

To the Indian representatives at the Conference Mr. Mac- 
Donald had to he— -and was — our Chairman, presiding with 
shrewd and benevolent impartiality over oUr deliberations, wise 
and venerated, our guide, pliilosopher, and fnend in die tricky 
mazes of democratic, constitutional procedure and theory in 
which we were having our protracted initiation. To Iiis own 
party, burdened with office — ^in 1930, that year of dark fore- 
boding and hints of the turbulence and the sorrow that were 



nm MiiMUIRS Uf ACiA khAN 


imiTiiiicnt — but without that support of a solid and unthreatened 
majority in the House of Commons which alone could ensure 
effectiveness and permanence to its decisions, he had to appear 
as the leader m the long crusade against out-of-date imperiahsm 
and obstructive vested interests, and the emancipator, the creator 
of Indian freedom and independence which he shicerely desired 
to be. In this role he was conscious that liis was an advanced and 
most progressive view of India’s problems, and that he and his 
party were eager to travel swiftly the whole road to Dominion 
status, with few and minor reservations or restrictions. But the 
Conservative Opposition, whose patience he could not possibly 
afford to test too higlily, was jealously watcliful of Britain’s im- 
perial interests; and both in Parhament and in the Press the 
right-wing “die-hard” element ofthe Conservative Party possessed 
powerful and authoritative citadels whence to challenge — perhaps 
to overthrow — ^him, if he too flagrantly disregarded their views. 

In these circumstances it was perhaps haevitable that an especial 
atmosphere of hopefulness and optimism should envelop tins, the 
Conference’s one major tangible acliievement. Something, it was 
felt, above and beyond mere provhicial autonomy had been 
established and enstned. The lawyers among us, like Sir Tej 
Bahadur Sapru, let themselves become zestfully absorbed in the 
details of what they then beheved would lead to a serious and 
permanent advance along the road to Indian self-government. I 
must say that I in my heart of hearts was always suspicious that 
our work might not procure any real or lasting results, because 
the great realities of India in 1930 were being forgotten. 

It was forgotten that there were, first and foremost and all the 
time, fundamental differences between the Mushm and Hindu 
peoples that inhabited the subcontinent; and tliat these differences 
were most apparent between the MusHms of the two north- 
western and eastern sections of it and the Hindu majority m the 
rest. 

It was forgotten tliat the intelhgentsia — although only ten per 
cent of the total Hindu population — numbered between forty and 
fifty milhon, who could not possibly be dismissed as “a mere 
microscopic minority”. It was forgotten that they desired the 
British to quit India, bag and baggage, finally and for ever; this 
was the aim for which they laboured and strove, and indeed it was 

'>■’0 



DOMINION SlAiUS — iHji ROUND lABLE CONFERENCES 


brought to pass in 1947- All the minutiae of an elaborate paper 
constitution, with all its cautious safeguards, its neat balancing of 
power by abstract and theoretical formulae which were to be 
embodied in it, seemed to them a pack of cumiing and pernicious 
nonsense, a lot of hksome tricks by winch all that the British 
seemed with one hand to give could be — and would be — snatched 
back with the other. 

It was forgotten that the princes, for all their wealth, ability, 
personal charm, prestige, and sincere loyalty to the British connec- 
tion, had in fact very httle power or influence. They were not, of 
course, tire sinister stooges that hostile propaganda often dubbed 
tliem, but both their actual authority and their capacity to sway 
opinion by their influence had been sapped in long years during 
which their subjects — and the Indian people at large — had come 
to realize that they were powerless, and incapable of holding an 
independent view or making an independent decision, if that view 
or that decision conflicted with the poHcy of the all-powerful 
British Residents. Thus gradually their support of the federal 
constitution — though it took in the British ruhng class — ^was 
shown to possess very Httle reality, and to be a shadow without 
the substance of power. 

***** 


By the time the second Round Table Conference assembled in 
the autumn of 193 1 the world situation had changed vastly, and 
so had the state of Indo-British relations. The economic crisis, in 
all its sharpness and severity, had hit Europe and the United 
Kingdom. The collapse of the famous Austrian Credit-Anstalt 
Bank had led to a general and hasty restriction of credit, and a long 
steep tumble in world trade. In. Britain the number of unemployed 
mounted to a vast, grim total in the region of three millions; the 
pubHcation of the May Report, an authoritative, officially- 
ordered survey of the country’s economic, financial, and fiscal 
condition, which contained a number of recommendations for 


economy measures which were totaUyinaccep table to the majority 
of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s Cabinet colleagues, precipitated 
a major pohtical crisis. In September the King interrupted his 
annual and cherished hoHday at Balmoral and returned to London, 
summoning to meet him the various leaders of the pohtical 


->^.1 



liiE MiMOIRS Of AGA i^HAN 

parties. Thereafter a National Government was formed, charged 
with the task of deahng with the crisis; Mr. MacDonald was 
Prime Minister, supported by Conservatives and Liberals like 
Mr. Baldwin, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Sir John Simon, and Sir 
Herbert Samuel. In the General Election which followed quickly 
on the formation of this government, its supporters, mainly 
Conservatives and National Liberals, were returned to power with 
an overwhehning majority, and Labour representation in the 
Commons was reduced to “rump” proportions — almost the only 
ex-Ministers left in the House being Mr. George Lansbury, the 
veteran pacifist, and Mr. Attlee. 

These changes could not but affect the second Round Table 
Conference; but, grave and preoccupying as were the events m 
which Britain and the British Government were involved, they 
did not cause its postponement. Meanwhile the patience and the 
considerable powers of persuasion of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin — 
“the tall Christian” as Mr. Muhammad Ah called him in an 
historic phrase — had prevailed and Mahatma Gandhi agreed to 
come to London. He went in his own personal capacity, but it 
was generally felt that, even if he did not come as the nominated 
leader and representative of Congress, his was the voice of 
authority and decision so far as the vast majority of Hindus were 
concerned. 

We Mushms for our part hoped that Mahatma Gandlh, with 
his unique pohtical flair aUied to his vast personal prestige, would 
appreciate the fact (and act upon it) that to make a combined 
Iront of Hindus and Muslims would in itself be a major step 
forward, and all reahzed that it would offer an unparalleled 
opportunity for extracting out of the Round Table Conference a 
constitution which would be a genuine transference of power 
from British to Indian hands, and would give India the status of a 
world Power. Though Mahatma Gandlii could not possibly in 
1930 have foreseen or hoped for anything like the final solution 
of 1947, he must, when he arrived, have hoped, as did most of us 
from the East at the Conference — that real power would be trans- 
ferred, even if India and Whitehall were still linked by one or two 
silken strings. 

Mahatma Gandhi arrived in London in November 193 1 as the 
sole representative of Congress. He was accompanied by tlie 



DOMINION SrAiUS — itin ROUND lABLE CONFERENCES 

emineiit Indian poet, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. Our first meeting in 
our capacity as delegates to the second Round Table Conference 
occurred at midnight in my own room at the Ritz Hotel. It may 
be a suitable moment therefore to pause in my narrative and sum 
up my impressions and recollections of two truly remarkable 
personalities. 

One way and another I knew and was in touch with Mahatma 
Gandlii for more than forty-five years. I first heard of him about 
1899 or 1900 when both he and I were actively concerned with 
the status and future of Indians in South Africa, a perennial prob- 
lem which was to engage our attention across many years. At 
that time his philosophy was only beginning to coalesce, and he 
had not made the major personal decision of his life, which was 
the break with, and the turning away from, modern material 
progress. On and off we were in touch for the next ten or twelve 
years, usually on some facet of the Indian problem in South 
Afiica. We were in London at the same time shortly after the 
outbreak of the First World War; as he had done at the beginning 
of the South African War he offered liis assistance to tlie British 
Government for ambulance and field hospital work. Already he 
had, however, travelled far along his own mental and spiritual 
road, and I was aware that he had decided that salvation for 
India and for his fellow countrymen lay m renouncing con- 
temporary, industrialized and matenahstic so-called civihzation. 
I have given an account of our contacts at the time of die Khdafat 
agitation in 1920-1; thereafter Mahatma Gandlii was, for the rest 
of his life, a major figure in world history. 

I believe that both in Mahatma Gandhi's philosophical outlook 
and in his political work there were certain profound inconsis- 
tencies, which all his life he strove, without complete success, to 
reconcile. The chief, formative spiritual influences of his life were 
Clirist, as revealed in die New Testament, Tolstoy, Thoreau, and 
certain exponents of various forms of Hindu asceticism; yet he was 
not, in the ordinarily accepted sense, a pure ascetic; he had little 
patience and no sympathy with the merely contemplative life of 
the mystic totally withdrawn from the world, or with monks, 
whether Buddhist or Cliristian, who accept the mle of an enclosed 
order. If I may say so, I am convinced that Gandlii’s philosophy 
was not renunciation of this world but its reformation, with 

2Zi 



lUE MEMOIRS Or AGA i^JiAN 


mutual and associative human love as the dynamic spark in that 
reformation. Yet this involved for him a certain degree of re- 
nunciation. This attitude to the products of the industrial and 
technical revolution of our time was characteristically ambivalent. 
He believed that aU men ought to have the fuU benefits — in 
generally diffused weU-bemg — of the power over nature which 
science has put at man’s disposal. Yet he felt that, at man’s present 
level of social and spiritual development, if some individuals 
accepted these benefits, then the vast majority would be deprived 
of them and would be both proportionally and absolutely worse 
off than before. 

This ambivalence, rooted as it was in a profound mental and 
spiritual contradiction, was always evident throughout Iris Hfe, in 
his relations with his nearest and dearest friends, and in his teaching 
and in his practice. 

I remember that I once had a long conversation with him in 
Poona after he had been gravely ill, and had undergone an opera- 
tion. He was in bed at the Sassoon Hospital, where I went to see 
him. His praise and his admiration for the hospital, for the British 
surgeon who had operated on him, for the consultants and tire 
nursing staff, were unstinted. Yet he could not but feel that since 
such a standard of treatment and attention could not be given to 
every single one of the miUions of India’s population, it must be 
wrong for it to be at his disposal here in Poona. Just as much as 
everyone else, however, he realized that it would be a crime to 
abohsh tlie Sassoon Hospital — and everytliing wlrich it sym- 
bohzed and represented — that its benefits must go to some, since 
they could not go to ah, but to whom? And yet, he felt, and yet, 
and yet ... his philosophy tailed off into a question mark that 
was fiso a protest. 

There in his bed in that Poona hospital he faced the impossi- 
bhity of complete adjustment. It was this hard fact of incomplete 
adjustment, in the world as it is, which made him appear at some 
moments “for” material progress, and at others “against” it. It 
gave some critics cause to doubt either the sincerity of his 
Christian Tolstoyan ideals or the efficacy of Iris activities in the 
world of practical politics and economics. It would perhaps be 
more just as well as more charitable to realize that Mahatma 
Gandlii wlas far from alone in the contradictions and the conflicts 

224 



DOMINION SiAiUS — l tin ROUND iABLE CONFERENCES 

of liis inner and his outer life. Are not such contradictions the very 
foundation of life for all of us, in its spiiitual as well as its material 
aspects, and if we seek to be of any use or service to ourselves and 
to our fellow men can we do otherwise tlian live, as best we may, 
in the light of these contradictions? 

Our last talk in 1945-6 was in its way a reflection in miniature 
of the whole of Mahatma Gandlri’s spiritual and intellectual hfe. 
Its setting and its circumstances illustrated, forcefully enough, the 
simple fact that in our world as it is we can never get away from 
contradictions. I had come to talk politics with Gandhi; since I 
was no longer actively a participant in Indian politics, I had to 
some extent come as a companion of my old and valued friend, 
the Nawab of Bhopal. Bhopal, Chancellor of the still existent 
Chamber of Princes, was a free-lance in the MusHm ranks of the 
time, for he had not accepted the Quaid-i-Azam’s conviction that 
only a partition of the subcontinent could give the Muslims what 
they wanted. I for my part still cherished some hopes that the full 
and final amputation could be avoided, if something on the Hnes 
of the constitution proposed by the last British Cabinet Mission 
could have been acceptable. Now I see clearly that I was wrong; 
amputation was the only remedy. Maliatma Gandhi and I talked 
of these matters; we talked too of Soutli Africa; and then I 
changed the subject and asked: “What really is your opinion of 
Marxism — of Marx himself, of Engels, of Lenin, and of Stalin?" 

His answer was as characteristic as it was adroit: “I,” he said, 
“would be a hundred per cent communist myself — if Marx’s final 
stage were the first stage, and if Lenin’s economic ideals were put 
immediately into practice.” 

If— th.e'ce lay the contradiction. If, as Marx had laid it down, 
the State would “wither away” not as the last phase of the revolu- 
tion but as the first; and if Lenin’s economic axiom, “From every- 
one according to liis capacity; to everyone according to his 
needs,” could be put immediately into practice, then indeed the 
Marxist millennium would begin. I countered him with the 
orthodox Stalinist argument: the world as it is today contains 
capitalist-imperialist States, whose productive capacity is geared 
not to peace and utility but as a means to tlie possible end of 
aggressive and imperialist war; in such a world the Communist 
State must be organized in its own defence; and how can there be 



THE MEMOIRS Of AOA KHAN 

a free society in which the State has indeed “withered away” 
without the essential preliminary phase of the world triumph of 
organized socialism? 

“Well,” said Gandlii, “let one country do it. Let one country 
give up its State organization, its poHce and its armed forces, its 
sanctions and its compulsions. Let one State really wither away. 
The happiness that would there prevail would be so great and so 
abiding that other countries would, for very shame, let their 
capitahst-iinperialist societies and States wither away.” 

Mahatma Gandhi no more than anyone else could evade the 
contradiction that hes at the base of life in this epoch. We have 
constantly to put up with second-best and probably worse, since 
we cannot acliieve our full ideal. Gandhi, too, reahzcd tliis, despite 
his hope that mankind could attain Marx’s final phase — a goal 
wliich, if it is ever attainable at all, will be reached by another 
route than an immediate short cut by way of selected portions of 
the hves of Christ, Mohammed, and Buddha. 

Mrs. Naidu, Gandhi’s companion in his midnight conference 
with me at the Ritz that autumn night in 1931, was in her way 
hardly less fascinatmg a personality. She was one of the most 
remarkable women I have ever met, m some ways as remarkable 
as Miss Nightingale herself. Her home after her marriage was in 
Hyderabad. Although her original inclinations and her upbring- 
ing were extremely democratic, she was a poet. Her sensitive and 
romantic inragination was impressed by the originality and 
strangeness as well as the glamour of the character of the then 
Nizam of Hyderabad — the father of liis present Exalted Highness 
— a gentle and timorous man, of a delicate and refined sensibility 
and sentiment, yet endowed with great clarity of vision, in- 
dependence of judgment, and generosity, and withal the possessor 
of a great heart in a sadly fail frame. He, too, had poetic aspira- 
tions, and some of his Urdu writings could indeed almost be ' 
dignified with the name of poetry. Mrs. Naidu sang his praises; 
but she herself was a real poet, who wrote strongly and tenderly 
of love and of life, of the world of the spirit and the passions. In 
that linking of tenderness and strength wliich was her nature 
there was no room for mahee, hatred, or iU-wfil. She was a 
vigorous nationalist, determined that the British must leave India 
and her destiny in the hands of India’s children, yet her admira- 



DOMINION STATUS — THE ROUND TABLE CONFERENCES 


tion for Western civilization and Western science — above all for 
English literature — was deep and measureless. Her proud freedom 
from prejudice she demonstrated at the time of the death of 
Rudyard Kipling. Kipling’s out-and-out imperialism, the rigid 
limitations of his view of the pohtical capacity and potentiahties 
of Indians — despite his recognition of their qualities of intelhgence 
and fidelity — were inevitably at the opposite pole from Mrs. 
Naidu’s outlook. Yet when he died Mrs. Naidu published a state- 
ment in which she paid her full and generous tribute of admiration 
to his genius — to the poet, the novelist, the unequalled teller of 
tales — making it clear beyond all argument tliat diis recognition 
of the artist by the artist was utterly distinct from and unaffected 
by her profound and abiding dislike of liis racial and political 
philosophy. 

Such then were the notable pair who were ushered into my 
sitting-room at the Ritz at midnight. We posed together for the 
Press photographers, and then settled down to our conversation. 
I opened it by saying to Mahatmaji that, were he now to show 
himself a real father to hidia’s MusUms, they would respond by 
helping him, to the utmost of their abiHty, in his struggle for 
India’s independence. 

Mahatmaji turned to face me. “I cannot in truth say,” he 
observed, “that I have any feelings of paternal love for Muslims. 
But if you put the matter on grounds of pohtical necessity, I am 
ready to discuss it in a co-operative sphit. I cannot indulge in any 
form of senthnent,” 

This was a cold douche at the outset; and the chilly effect of it 
pervaded the rest of our conversation. I felt that, whereas I had 
given prompt and ready evidence of a genuine emotional attach- 
ment and Idnship, there had been no similar response from the 
Mahatmaji. 

Years later — in 1940 — ^I reminded him of this. He said that he 
completely recollected the episode. “I am very, very sorry,” he 
said then, “that you misunderstood that answer of mine. I didn’t 
mean that I was aware of no emotional attachment, no feeling for 
the welfare of Muslims; I only meant that I was conscious of full 
blood brotherhood, yes, but not of the superiority that fatherhood 
would imply.” 

And I, on my side, had only meant in that word “father” to 

227 



Thtii MEMOIRS Ul AgA x>.HAN 


show respect for the frailty of his age — not of course, frailty in 
health or mental capacity — and not to hint at any superiority. 

This unfortunate initial misunderstanding over words had more 
than a passing effect. For it left the impression, which persisted 
not only that night hut tliroughout the Round Table Conference, 
that our attempts to reach a Muslim-Hindu entente were purely 
pohtical and lacked the stabihzing emotional ties of long fellow- 
citizenship and of admiration for one another’s civilization and 
culture. Thus there could be no cordiality about any entente we 
might aclneve; we were driven back to cold poHtics, with none 
of the inspiring warmth of emotional understanding to suffuse and 
strengthen our discussions. 

This prehminaiy talk did not take us far. Thereafter we had a 
further series of conversations — usually at midnight in my rooms 
at the Ritz — I myself presiding as host, and Mr. Jinnah and Sir 
Muliammad Shafi negotiating on one side and Mahatma Gandhi 
on the other. The story of these discussions is long and not, alas, 
particularly fruitful. 

They were hiformal talks and no record was kept. I said 
httle and left the bulk of the discussion to Mr. Jinnah and Sir 
Muhammad Shafi, and to other delegates who from time to time 
took part, notably Sir Zafruilah Khan, Mr. Shaukat Ali, and the 
late Shaffat Ah Khan. Much of the disputation vividly recalled 
FitzGerald’s verse: 

Myself when young did eagerly frequent 
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument 
About it and about: but evermore 
Came out by the same door as in I went. 

Always the argument returned to certain basic points of difier- 
ence; was hidia a nation or two nations? Was Islam merely a 
rehgiotis minority, or were MusHms in those areas in which they 
were in a majority to have and to hold special pohtical rights and 
responsibilities? The Congress attitude seemed to us doctrinaire 
and unreahstic. They held stubbornly to thek one-nation tlieory, 
which we knew to be historicahy insupportable. We maintained 
that before the coming of the British Raj the various regions of 
the Indian subcontinent had never been one country, that the 
Raj had created an artificial and transient unity, and that when 

'’•’8 



DOMINION SlATUS — liiii BOUND lABLE CONPcRENCES 

the Raj went that unity could not be preserved and the diverse 
peoples, with their profound racial and religious differences, 
could not remain feUow-sleepcrs for aU time, but that they would 
awake and go their separate ways. However close, therefore, we 
might come to agreement on points of dctad, tliis ultimate dis- 
agreement on points of principle could not be bridged. 

The Mahatma sought to impose a first and fundamental con- 
dition: that the MusUms should, before they asked for any 
guarantees for themselves, accept Congress’s interpretation of 
Swaraj — ^self-government — ^as their goal. To wliich Mr. Jinnah 
very rightly answered that, since the Mahatma was not imposing 
this condition on the other Hindu members of the various 
delegations attending the Round Table, why should he impose 
it on the Mushms? Here was another heavy handicap. 

Our conditions were the same throughout: very few powers at 
the centre, except in respect of defence and external affairs; all 
other powers to be transferred, and especially to those provinces 
in which there were Muslim majorities — the Punjab, Bengal, 
Sind, Balucliistan, and the North-west Frontier. We were 
adamant because we knew that die majority of the Mushms who 
lived in Bengal and the Pmijab were adamant. 

Mahatma Gandlu fully recognized the importance of having 
us in his camp. Who knows? — ^perhaps he might have seen his 
way to accept our viewpoint, but Pundit Malaviya and the Hindu 
Mahasabha exerted great pressure against us, deploying arguments 
based on abstract political doctrines and piinciples which — as the 
partition of 1947 proved — ^were totally mirelated to the realities 
of India. 

As time went on the hair-splitting became finer and finer, the 
arguments more and more abstract; a nation could not hand over 
unspecified powers to its provinces; there was no constitutional 
way of putting a limit on the devices by which a majority could 
be turned into a minority — fascinating academic issues, but with 
little or no connection with the real facts and figures of Indian 
life. 

hi fairness I ought to mention one practical reform which did 
emerge from all our discussions and in the end contributed some- 
thing to the settlement of 1947. This was the separation of Sind 
from Bombay and its establishment as a province with a Governor 

220 



IHE MEMOIRS OF AGA i^ttAN 


and administration of its own. For at least thirty years previously 
the continued connection of these two had been an anachronism; 
its existence explains much of Sind’s so-called backwardness, and 
the rivalry and the jealousy that arose between Bombay, the older 
city winch ruled, and Karachi, the younger city wliich was ruled. 

In the Province of Bombay the I.C.S. officials who attained the 
highest ranks of the service tended to have spent years in Marathi 
or Gujerathi districts. Sind difiered from other parts of the pro- 
vince in race, language, rchgion, and the physical shape of the 
land: and service in it required a quite different outlook, mentality, 
and training. Sind had been neglected in matters hke communica- 
tions, roads, and internal development, by an administrative centre 
from which it was far distant and with which its only connections 
were by sea or across the territories of princely States. 

A special committee to consider the whole question of the 
separation of Sind was set up. The Muslim representatives on it — 
of whom I was one — did not argue the case on communal lines; 
we urged that Sind be separated from Bombay as an act of 
common justice to its inliabitants, and on practical and administra- 
tive grounds. Apart from one or two members who represented 
Bombay and were anti-separation, our other Hindu colleagues 
supported us, and our proposal was carried. 

The Chairman of tliis particular committee was the late Earl 
Russell, the elder brother of the present Earl, better known as 
Bertrand Russell. He was a hvely and interesting personaHty, who 
had endured — and surmounted — the difficulties and the legal and 
social compheations of a stormy marital career in his early Hfe. 
He was a grandson of the first carl — Lord Jolm Russell, Queen 
Victoria’s famous Whig Prime Minister. Boni and reared in tliis 
inmost circle of the old Whig oHgarchy of England, he was liim- 
self supremely unclass-conscious, endowed with a wonderful 
memory, richly stored, and with great gifts as a raconteur. 

He died in the South of France not long after the end of the 
Conference; the news of his death came as a shock, for I had 
looked forward to our friendship continuing and enriching itself 
for the rest of our lives. 

One of his former wives, who lived not far from my own then 
home at Antibes, was no less remarkable and original a character 
— ^the tiny, inimitable and indomitable Elizabeth, of Elizabeth 

210 



DOMINION S'lAlUS — iHii ROUND tABLji CONtuRENCES 

and her German Garden. She maintained her passion for garden- 
building to the end. She lived not far from the country club and 
golf course at Mougins; she designed much of its landscape gar- 
dening and floral planning; and my wife, Princess Andree, and I 
consulted her more than once about our own garden. 

To return to the Round Table Conferences: in the end, the 
many long sessions acliieved little. Mahatmaji returned to India; 
the sum total of all our work was a vast array of statistics and 
dates, a great many speeches, and little or no positive understand- 
ing. The second Conference finished, all the delegates dispersed, 
and we awaited what was in fact the tliird Round Table Con- 
ference, but was officially known as the Joint Select Committee 
appointed by Parhament under the chairmanship of the Marquess 
of Linlithgow, to draw up the Indian Federal Constitution. 

***** 

Meanwliile my ordinary life outside politics had continued 
tranquilly and eventfuUy. My wife, Princess Andree, had through- 
out the exhausting and protracted sessions of the first two Round 
Table Conferences been of quite invaluable support and help to 
me. For the Conferences had a circumambience of hospitality and 
sociability, parties, receptions, and dinners innumerable, at which 
my wife was my constant, graceful, and accomphshed partner. 
In January 1933 my second son, Sadruddin, was born in the 
American Hospital at Neuilly, just outside Paris, At the end of 
that year Princess Andree paid her first visit to India with me, 
leaving our son in the South of France. We travelled all over the 
country, seeing most of the famous, beautiful, andliistorical sights; 
stayed several days with the renowned old Maharajah of Bikaner; 
stayed in Calcutta as the guests of the Governor, Sir John 
Anderson;^ went up to the liills for a time, and travelled on to 
Burma. We were home in Cannes by April 1934, delighted to be 
greeted by a much-grown, healthy, strong httle boy. 

Then I found myself fully back in pohtical harness. The third 
of the series of Indian Round Table Conferences was upon us. 
On tlie British side there had been changes, consequent upon the 
formation of the MacDonald-Baldwin National Government. 
Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was still Prime Minister, but his support 
^ Mow Lord. Waverley. 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


in the House of Commons came now from the enormous Con- 
servative majority of wliich Mr. Baldwin was the master. This 
removed Mr. MacDonald from direct and close concern in our 
dehberations about India; consulted in aU important matters he 
doubtless continued to be, but the effective decisions were, one 
could not help feeling, being made by the man in charge of the 
India Office. Tliis, of course, was Sir Samuel Hoare, a sensitive, 
sagacious, broadminded, and keenly intelligent statesman, who 
was acutely aware of the realities of our mid-twentieth-century 
world, and — so far as India was concerned — ^fuUy reaHzed that the 
day of the diehard imperiahst was ended. 

The Joint Select Committee assembled in London in the spring 
of 1934. The Chairman, Lord Linlithgow, was later to be Viceroy 
of India. The composition of the Committee was as varied as it 
was strong. The British representation contained inevitably a 
heavy Conservative preponderance; the knowledge and experi- 
ence of India of individual members varied in quantity and 
quality. Respected and influential leaders like Lord Derby and 
Sir Austen Chamberlain were at the outset non-committal; there 
were others who were frankly opposed to the whole idea of a 
federal solution to India’s problems. India’s representation was on 
the whole good. Mahatma Gandhi did not attend, but there was a 
sizeable element of advanced Indian nationahsm, drawn from 
outside the ranks of Congress. Looking back now on what hap- 
pened in the course of this Committee, I tliink I regret Mr. 
Jinnali’s absence as much as that of Mahatmaji. It was, I think, 
extremely unfortunate that we Muslims did not insist on having 
Mr. Jinnah with us; had he been a member of the delegation he 
might have subscribed to what I consider was the most valuable 
result of these Rotmd Table Conferences. 

Tliis was the Joint Memorandmn, which— -for the first time in 
the history of Indo-British relations — put before the British 
Government a united demand on behalf of all communities, 
covering practically every important political point at issue. It 
propounded what would have been, in effect, a major step forward 
— the penultimate step indeed before Dominion status. By it we 
sought to ensure continuity in the process of the further transfer 
of responsibility. It was signed by all the non-official Indian 
delegates; it had been drafted by the delegation’s briOiant official 

232 



DOMINION SlATUS — IHL ROUND TABLc CONFKRjiNCiiS 

secretary and myself. It was a claim for the transfer to Indian 
hands of practically every power except certain final sanctions 
which would be reserved to the British Government. Had a con- 
stitution been granted along these lines, later critical situations — 
India’s declaration of war in 1939, the problems which faced the 
Cripps Mission in 1942, and the final and total transfer of autho- 
rity — might all have been much less difficult. Had this constitution 
been fuUy established and an accepted and going concern, it 
would have been in due course a comparatively simple operation 
to lop off those reserve powers wliich in our draft marked the 
final stage of constitutional devolution. 

As I said in the course of evidence wliich I gave before tlie Joint 
Committee on the Government of India Bill: 

I accept the term “Responsible Government” though as an ideal 
my preference is for self-government either on the American federal 
plan or on Swiss hues leaving idtimate power through the Initiative, 
the Referendum, and perhaps the Recall. But the facts of the 
situation have to be recognized . . . “Responsible Government” 
must be our way towards evolving in the future some plan more 
suited to a congeries of great States, such as India will become, and 
I believe the way will be found in something akin to the American 
Federal Plan. 

Despite all (as we thought) its merits, our Joint Memorandum 
was disowned by Congress, and therefore the British Government 
felt compelled in their turn to reject it. In its stead they brought 
into being the constitution adumbrated by the Government of 
India Act of 1935, which left far too many loopholes for British 
interference, and indeed actual decision, on matters wliich every 
Indian patriot believed should have been solely for India to decide 
— for example India’s entry into tlie Second World War. Its 
grossest failing was that it offered no foundation on winch to 
budd; Sir Stafford Cripps, during his mission in 1942, and Lords 
Alexander of Hillsborough and Pethick-Lawrence on their sub- 
sequent mission, were halted by this unpalatable fact. Neither did 
the Act supply an impetus to any effort to bridge the rift between 
Hindus and Mushms; and in the testing times of 1942 and 1946-7, 
the emptinesses in the Act were glaringly revealed. By its reserva- 
tions and by its want of clarity about the real meaning of Indian 
independence, the 1935 Act made a United India an impossibility. 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 


It had to be set aside and the effort made to build up Indian 
independence from scratch. Then it became harshly clear that 
Indian unity was impossible, unless it were based on extremely 
wide federal, or confederate, foundations. 

The second Cabinet Mission of 1947 did finally propose a con- 
stitution which would have mamtained the unity of India, but at 
the price of handing over all ultimate power to the three con- 
federate States of a Federal India. Tliis was the sort of constitution 
for which our Joint Memorandum of 1934 could have naturally 
and steaddy prepared the ground. Congress’s attitude to this last 
effort was, to say the least, lukewarm; and it, too, fell by the 
wayside. In tlic end, the only solution was that which occurred, 
and those strange Siamese twins — ^MusHm India and Hindu India 
— that had lived together so restlessly and so uncomfortably, were 
parted by a swift, massive surgical operation. 



CHAPTER XI 


MY WORK FOR 
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS 


W ITH the Joint Memorandum, and with the termination 
of the work of die Joint Select Committee in 1934, my 
own connection with Indian pohtics ended. However, 
I found myself striking out along a new hne in public affairs and 
taking up new activities wliicli were to be my main concern and 
interest m life from the early 1930s until the outbreak of the 
Second World War. 

These developed from my close association at the India Office 
with Sir Samuel Hoare. He and I, m the intervals between our 
official discussions on the Indian problem, found ourselves more 
and more frequently exploring world affairs — in the 1930s an 
absorbing if formidable theme. 

The curiously facile yet plausible optimism which had buoyed 
up the hopes of so many in the 1920s broke down rapidly; it 
gave place to an increasing and deepening anxiety. It is pitiable 
now to recall some of the illusions that were fostered in the years 
immediately after the First World War. I heard supposedly intelli- 
gent people, who habitually moved in circles which were con- 
sidered to be well informed, remark for example that the war 
“had not impoverished but enriched the world and that its appar- 
ent cost had been more than met by a superior system of price 
control and economic adjustment”. Only when the slump came 
was it reahzed that a war has to be paid for. As that realization 
dawned it became harshly apparent that the world was lurching 
towards a new catastrophe. 

Then as now there was no getting away from the question of 
Germany and the Germans. Today, as we are all aware, the crux 
of Europe’s difficulties and problems is to be found in Germany. 
There is indeed no hope of a real and abiding world peace without 

235 



TUi. MEMOIRS <JP AUA is.PiAN 

a final solution of the problem of Germany, to be achieved either 
by a frank and sincere understanding between Russia on the one 
hand and the Western Powers under American leadership on the 
other, or by the consoUdation of a Germany allied with and 
integrated with Western Europe. Just as grimly the problem of 
Germany was with us in the 1930s; questions about wliither the 
Western world was moving, and of how it would work out its 
destiny, and the great issue of peace or war, were quite inseparable 
from the question of what was going to happen to Germany. 

Eighty milli on highly intelligent, industrious, efficient, and 
weU-educated people, cooped up in a comparatively small area 
between the Rhine and the Vistula, the North Sea and the Alps, 
with “colonies” of their kinsfolk settled outside the Reich’s 
borders, in the Sudetenland, in Austria, and as far away as 
Rumania and parts of Russia, seeking unity yet conscious of along 
history of religious and dynastic strife, constituted a permanent 
and enormous question-mark in the very heart and centre of 
Europe. Nor was it the only one of its kind. Fascist Italy loomed 
very large — ^Mussolini’s imperial ambitions, liis attitude towards 
Ethiopia and towards Albania, his talk of the Mediterranean as 
“mare nostrum”. 

Mussohni, for aU liis crimes and follies for which he paid in liis 
ignominious fall and death, was in many ways a man of briUiant 
and powerfid individuaHty. He achieved in the Italy of the period 
between the wars a poHtical revival, in some respects analogous to 
the W esleys’ reUgious revival iuEngland in the eighteenth century. 
His revival did not touch every section of the populace — nor did 
Mediodism. But many of its emotions suffused Itahan society as 
a whole — far outside the ranks of fire Fascist Party itself. There 
was, for example, the longing for a place in the sun, the feeHng 
that while nations like England, Spahi, and Portugal had built up 
vast daughter-nations overseas, Italy — Rome’s successor and m- 
hcritor — baimed fi:om expansion in Europe outside the confines of 
her own peninsula, now had the sacred right and duty of renewuig 
Rome’s imperial mission overseas. Therefore there was a passion- 
ate concentration on Ethiopia — ^first to wipe out Adowa’s shame, 
and second and far more important to bmld up in those high 
equatorial lands (chmaticaUy so similar to many of the countries 
of South America) a vast European colony whose people might 

236 



MY WURJv FOE iHt LEAGUE Ot NAlIONS 

one day mingle their blood with that of the native Amliaric aris- 
tocracy — as the Spaniards had mingled theirs with the Incas — 
reducing those whom they considered racially inferior to per- 
manent helot or peon status. 

Away in the Far East, Japan was engaged in what came to be 
known as “the Clhna incident”; the need of a poHcy of colonial 
expansion seemed imperative to her then leaders; she was already 
deeply committed in Manchuria. To topics such as these, real, 
insistent, and ugly as they were, Hoare and I found ourselves 
reverting again and again, whenever we turned aside from the 
constitutional niceties of India’s pohtical development. 

He gradually became aware tliat, from the moment that India 
began to play a part — however limited — ^in international pohtics, 
I ^o far as making any use of me was concerned) had been 
deliberately neglected and cold-shouldered by the Government of 
India. The reasons for tliis policy in New Delhi and Simla were 
not difficult to analyse; Hoare took their measure quickly enough. 
The exalted mandarins of the Indian Civil Service, that all- 
powerful and closely-knit bureaucracy wliich governed India, 
had neither the desire nor the capacity to appreciate a man of 
independent position and views like myself, who had first-hand 
knowledge of a great many of these problems. They were pain- 
fully aware, too, that were I to be given any official diplomatic 
status and be therefore in a position to receive the Viceroy’s 
instructions I would not hesitate to malce known to the Viceroy 
my own views, and if necessary criticism, of official poUcy, and 
that if I were overruled unreasonably, I should similarly have no 
hesitation in resigning, and in giving my reasons for resignation 
fully and with conviction to both the Viceroy and the Secretary 
of State. If I represented India at any international conference 
tliere would be no chance of my being a ventriloquist’s dummy 
for officialdom. Officialdom therefore considered that I would be 
far more of a habihty than an asset — after all, I might prove 
officials to be wrong. 

Not unnaturally the bureaucrats rationalized their distaste for 
me and tlieit fear of me. They pointed out that I was a racehorse 
owner; that I was an amateur of Kterature and the arts; that I had 
founded Aligarh University as a sectional, if cultural, institution; 
that since I was Imam of the Ismailis, my first loyalty would 

3^7 



TkE MiMOIRS Ot- AGA ivHAN 

always be to my followers, and therefore the Government could 
not take tlie risk of employing me. The files in the Secretariat 
were, I daresay, heavy with minutes and memoranda about me; 
and they all added up to the one word “no”. Sir Samuel Hoare 
saw through the whole elaborate fa(;:ade, and recognized it for 
what it was — arrant prejudice. 

When arrangements were m trahi for the Disarmament Con- 
ference and the Indian delegation to the League of Nations was 
in process of being appointed. Sir Samuel Hoare took the whole 
matter up with characteristic energy and thoroughness, drew the 
Viceroy’s attention to the fact that I had deserved more useful 
employment, and msisted that I be given a chance to serve India 
in the international field. Someone had used about me the phrase 
“Ambassador without Portfoho”. The Secretary of State urged 
that it was high time for me to be given official status. 

I think that I may claim that I brought to my new task a mind 
fairly well versed in its main issues. My grounding ha European as 
well as Eastern pohtical and social history had been thorough. 
Ever since adolescence I had read widely and steadily. I was — and 
stiU am — a dihgent student of the newspapers, and of those 
pohtical magazines and quarterHes which, in Britain and France 
especially, give an authoritative and often scholarly commentary 
on all the main events and trends of our time. I had also for many 
years hved an active life in both national and international affairs. 

Let me recall the international atmosphere of the spring of 1932, 
and some of the main international trends and factors. The 
U.S.S.R. was seeldng to estabhsh at least a superficial appearance 
of respectabihty. We know now that the internal situation in 
Russia, after the appalhng disruptive effects of the first Five-Year 
Plan, was parlous. Stalin, by now sole master of his country’s 
destmy, desired a period of relaxed external tension. In Litvinov 
he had a Foreign Minister who knew England well, who had an 
English wife, who had personal cognizance of the shrewdness and 
practical wisdom of British statesmanship and of the possibihties 
it afforded, if properly handled, of securing Russia her fit place 
in the comity of nations. 

Litvinov was himself unaffectedly eager in his desire to promote 
the idea of his country’s respectabihty, and to present her to the 
world as a thoroughly honest woman; the matron herself stood 

2^8 




The As^a Khan with his younger sou, Pimce Saduidclm, and liis grandsons, 
Prince Karim Aga and Pruicc Amyii Mahomed 



MY WORK FOR THE LEAGUE OP NATIONS 


somewhat hesitant on the tlireshold — for reasons wliich became 
apparent later. However, social relations with Litvinov and with 
other members of his mission were at least possible. On my own 
initiative I broke the ice (somewhat, I suspect, to the surprise and 
secret amusement of my British colleagues, accustomed to the 
hesitations of previous Indian members of the delegation), and 
I gave a special dinner party in Litvinov’s honour. His gratifica- 
tion was obvious. That dinner laid the foundation of a friendship 
winch lasted as long as Litvinov was in Geneva; and it extended 
to embrace other Russian diplomats, who never failed in return 
to invite me to their social functions. Litvinov, indeed, began to 
appear in the role of a dinner-table diplomat and achieved his 
own quite real social success. My old friend, Baron Maurice de 
Rothschild, who had a beautiful chateau not far from Geneva, 
took to giving small informal luncheon parties, bringing together 
Litvinov and his colleagues with leading British and French dele- 
gates and with representatives of other countries. 

The United States had disowned President Wilson and refused 
to join the League of Nations, and had proclaimed in sternly 
isolationist terms America’s faith in her own destiny. But by 
1932 the effects of the depression were being acutely felt all over 
the North American continent; the epoch of Harding-Coolidge 
Isolationism was drawing to a close. The State Department had 
become increasingly aware that America could not afford to wash 
its hands of the rest of the world; it was decided that the Dis- 
armament Conference offered a convenient method of explormg 
the long-unfamiliar international atmosphere of Geneva. Weimar 
Germany — unlike the U.S.S.R. — ^was now a respectable member 
of tbe international fraternity, on terms of at least superficial 
equaUty with Britain and France. Had not Stresemann, Briand, 
and Austen Chamberlain met in heart-stirring amity at Locarno, 
and had not Briand signalized the event with the tremendous 
oration wliich began, “A bas les cannons . . .”? 

In 1932 the key-word was “disarmament”. Disarmament was 
the concept to which so many high and noble hopes were pinned. 
Optimism stiU ran liigh: get the representatives of the nations, 
around a table, agreeing in principle on disarmament, and let them 
work out the practicjJ details of disarming — the melting down 
of the guns and the rifles, the scrapping of the battle-cruisers,, 

I 239 



THE MEMOIRS Op AGA i..KAN 


the limitations on the use and the armament of aircraft — and 
surely world peace could be made sure and stable. 

Yet beneath this optimism there ran an undercurrent of doubt 
and fear. Were prospects as bright as many tried to beheve? Was 
Weimar Germany all that she seemed to be? Ebert and Stresemann 
were gone; Bruning battled against a strange swirl of increas- 
ingly hostile forces, some of which were economic but many 
blatantly and violently political. Had aU the effort that had gone 
into trying to woo Germany for democracy been in vain? Had 
the mountain laboured and merely brought forth a negligible 
mouse? 

A new word had come into current pohtical phraseology: 
Nazism, which, we were told, meant National SociaUsm, seemed 
a confused and extremely German version of Italy’s Fascism; was 
already capturing the loyalty and tlie imaginadve and romantic 
ideahsm of thousands of Germany’s youth; and was associated 
widi a man called Adolf Hitler. 

Now the mihtary adviser to the German mission in Geneva at 
tlris time was none other than General — later Field-Marshal 
— Blomberg, the man who later became chief of Hitler’s 
Reichswehr, was Hider’s representative at King George Vi’s 
Coronation, and finally feU into disgrace in somewhat mysterious 
circumstances — allegedly on accoimt of his unsuitable marriage. 
This Prussian soldier and I estabUshed quite friendly relations. 
From liim I heard a good deal about the men who were then 
trying to rule Germany — tiny midgets, he called them contemp- 
tuously, who had stepped into Stresemami’s man-size shoes. He 
was impatient with what he thought their combination of doctri- 
naire hberahsm and practical incompetence in statecraft. 

Such then was the troublous sea on to which I now was 
launched. The Secretary of State’s wishes prevailed in the Secre- 
tariat in New Delhi. I was appointed a member of the Indian 
delegation to the Disarmament Conference, nominally as second- 
in-command to Sir Samuel Hoare, but to take charge as soon as 
he left. I was also appointed chief Indian representative at the 1932 
Assembly of the League. Thus began a phase in my pubHc life 
which Was protracted, with Httle or no intermission, until Hitler’s 
armies marched into Poland and the fabric of world peace which 
the League strove so hard to maintain was violently shattered. 

240 



MY WORK tOR i±iE LEAGUE OP NATIONS 


The Optimism that was prevalent in Geneva hi 1932 was a mood 
which I could not fuUy share. A more strenuous and a more 
reahstic effort was needed, I felt sure, to bring about the fruition 
of our hopes. As best I could, I sought to expound my own ideas 
and behefs in this new arena to wliicli I had been summoned. I 
made a speech of some length, and with all the earnestness that 
I could muster, at the fourteenth plenary session of the League: 

We have found that armaments stiU hold sway and tliat the 
feeling of insecurity still persists. It is by no means certain that the 
war to end war has been fought and won. On the moral side we 
must set ourselves to remove the paralysing effects of fear, ill-will, 
and suspicion. On the material side it is absolutely essential that the 
non-productive effort devoted to warhke preparations should be 
reduced to the bare minimum. In distant India, no less than in 
Europe, the World War created a host of mourners and left a 
legacy of bitter tragedy. Over a million of my fellow-countrymen 
were called to arms, of whom more than fifty thousand laid down 
their lives. India’s own scale of armaments allows no margin for 
aggressive uses. The size of her forces has to be measured with 
reference to the vastness of her area and the diversity of her condi- 
tions. The fact is so often forgotten that the area of India is more 
than half that of the whole of Europe, and her population nearly 
one-fifth of chat of the entire globe. There is a cry going up from the 
heart of all the peace-loving citizens of every country for the lessen- 
ing of their iniHtary burdens, for a decrease of the financial load 
wliich those burdens impose, for the security of civil populations 
against indiscriminate methods of warfare, and above all, for security 
against the very idea of war. 

The words of many of us who, in those years, spoke out in the 
effort to prevent a second World War, have gone down the wind. 
But that is not to say that the effort was not worth making, or 
that we were not right to make it. The vast palace in Geneva 
that housed the League of Nations is no longer put to the purpose 
for which it was bude, but the United Nations Oi'ganization, 
which has arisen out of the ruin and the tragedy which we strove 
to avert, shows — by continuing our work in a new era and with 
new teclmiques — that we did not labour entirely in vain. 

For the rest of the tliirties the work of the League, and of its 
off-shoot the Disarmament Conference, absorbed most of my 
time and my interest. I found myself in Geneva for montlrs at a 

241 



THE MEMOIRS OP AGA ji±lAN 


time, through many harassing and disillusioning happenings — 
Japan’s aloof snubbing of the League, Germany’s dramatic exit 
from it, and then the direct challenge of Mussolini’s aggression in 
Ethiopia. Early in this period I cemented a close friendship with 
Mr. Arthur Henderson, the President of the Disarmament Con- 
ference. Henderson was perhaps one of the most remarkable 
statesmen who have come out of the British Labour Movement. 
He had been a conspicuously successful and much-hked Foreign 
Secretary in Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s second Labour Adminis- 
tration, but he had not found himself able to support his leader 
in the rapid and dramatic changeover which resulted in the 
formation of the National Government. He retained therefore the 
passionate and proud loyalty of Labour in Britain, but the imme- 
diate cifect of his decision was to deprive Hm of power and of 
office. It was universally felt that it would be disastrous, for the 
world as for Britain, to lose his sagacity. Iris experience, and his 
flair in the spheres of international affairs in wliich he had made 
so notable a mark. 

Henderson was therefore appointed permanent President of the 
Disarmament Conference and until his untimely death he dis- 
charged his duties in this post— in face of much disappointment 
and a heattbreakingly uphill struggle — ^with courage and distinc- 
tion. Our acquaintance ripened rapidly into a sincere and mutually 
affectionate friendship of great warmth. His mind and his achieve- 
ments were as remarkable as his character was lovable. Like most 
of the Labour leaders of his generation he was a genuine son of the 
people who from humble beginnings had made his way upward 
in the world to the high, onerous, and lonely position which he 
occupied. He was modest and forthright, shrewd, imperturbable, 
quiet of speech, and of rock-like integrity. A Labour leader of a 
younger generation, Mr. Morgan Phithps, has said that the origins 
of the British Labour movement are to be found in Methodism 
rather than Marxism; this was certainly true of Arthur Henderson, 
for he remained all his life a serenely devoted Methodist. His wife 
had been his faithful companion on his long and strenuous road; 
she was a woman of great sweetness and generosity of character, 
staunch and true and, in her own fasliion, very wise. 

Henderson was often my guest at my villa at Antibes; Bernhard 
Baron, the millionaire and philanthropist, would sometimes drive 

242 



MY i-OK lllE LfcAGUE OP NATIONS 

to Monte Carlo to spend an hour or two in the Casino, and 
Henderson would happily go along for the ride. When they 
reached the Casino, however, Henderson sat contentedly in the 
car, waitmg till Baron came out again. Henderson was as steadfast 
as he was good, as selfless as he was courageous. We came to rely 
on each other for advice and support in the diiEcult and trying 
times through which we steered our way in Geneva. 

The year 1935 was a memorable one. It was the year of 
Mussohni’s attack on Etliiopia. It was the year in wliich the 
Govermnent of India Act came into being — the last major piece 
of Indian legislation enacted by the Parliament of the United 
Kingdom until the brief, dramatic statute of twelve years later 
which ended the British Raj in India. It was the year of my great 
and good friend King George V’s Silver Jubilee; and I fully shared 
the sentiments of gratitude, affection, and loyalty with which his 
people so signally greeted the King and Queen Mary. For me it 
was Bahram’s year, for during that summer that magnificent 
horse won the Two Thousand Guineas, the Derby, and the St. 
Leger — the Triple Crown of the Turf, as the sportmg journalists 
called this feat — the first horse to achieve it since Rock Sand, 
thirty-two years before. 

I was able to be present at Epsom when he won his Derby — 
Freddie Fox was the jockey — ^and of course I led liim in after liis 
victory. I was immensely honoured by being the guest (in com- 
pany with other members of the Jockey Club) of their Majesties, 
the King and Queen, at a celebration dumer at Buckingham 
Palace. Queen Mary herself had ordered that the table decorations 
should be in my racing colours, green and chocolate. 

I was not in quite such happy surroundings when Bahram won 
the St. Leger. By then I was back at my duties in Geneva. I can 
at least, however, claim a record: I am sure I must have been the 
only member of the Assembly of the League ever to be called 
away to hear that his horse had won the St. Leger. 

But the international scene by now was gloomy and its skies 
were darkly overcast. The Httle, ghmmering lights of peace and 
hope which had been set burning since the end of the First World 
War were going out, one by one. Exactly a fortnight before 
Mussolini laimched his attack on Ethiopia, I spoke in the Assembly 
of the League of Nations. The time had passed, I was convinced, 

241 



ii-lii MJ3MOIRS Oj.' AGA jiuilAN 


for smooth glib words. On my own and my country’s behalf I 
spoke as frankly and as gravely as I could. 

India is troubled by the League’s lack of universality and by the 
great preponderance of energy wliich the League devotes to Europe 
and European interests. India is troubled by these dramatic failures, 
by the long-drawn-out and fruitless Disarmament Conference and 
by the fact that the rearmament of States members is in full swing. 
India’s criticism of the League is directed to its shortcomings and 
not its ideals. The world is at the parting of the ways. Let wisdom 
guard her choice. 

As 1935 drew to its close I went to Bombay to celebrate my 
Golden Jubilee as hereditary Imam of the IsmaiHs. Half a century 
had passed since I, a small, shortsighted, solemn boy, surrounded 
by my bearded elders, had ascended the gadi. The climax of the 
celebration was die ancient ritual of weighing me against gold. 
Earlier we had a special ladies’ party at the Jamat Kliana, at which 
my beloved mother sat on my right and my wife on my left. 
The actual weighing ceremony was both stately and heart stirring, 
evoking as it did strong currents of reciprocal affection between 
my followers and myself. 

Our rejoicings, however, were cut short by the grievous news 
of the passing of my old, staunch, and good friend, the Kin g- 
Emperor, George V, who died at Sandringham in January 1936. 
I thought of all the years of our friendsliip, of the many tests and 
trials it had undergone in war and in peace, of his constant kind- 
ness and consideration to me in all matters great and small. The 
last word wliich I had hadi from liim, indeed, had been a warm 
message of congratulation on my Jubilee. We immediately aban- 
doned all further festivities out of respect to his memory, and I 
read out this brief statement to my assembled followers: 

I am deeply touched to hear die terrible news of the death of the 
King-Emperor. I have decided to stop all activities in connection 
with my Golden Jubilee celebrations, except the purely religious 
rites. We are in deep mourning. I myself will wear black clotlies, 
and my people will wear their national mourning dress. The King- 
Emperor was not only a great ruler, but he was hi the true sense a 
great man. His Majesty was always most kind to me personally. I 
am sure that the new King-Emperor will, with his knowledge of the 
world and of the whole Empire, be a worthy successor to Queen 
Victoria, to King Edward, and to King George. 

2U 



MY ^ ORii. FOE TiiE LEAGUE OF NAilONS 

Although witlun a few brief months events had turned out 
sadly different, I do not for an instant regret or withdraw that 
last sentence of my statement. I had long known the attractive, 
brilhant, and lovable man who that January day in 1936 acceded 
to his father’s throne, surrounded by an Empire’s loyalty and 
affection, and high hopes of a long and illustrious reign. 

I first met him at York House, St. James’s Palace, in 1898, when 
he was a clnld of four. His motlier, then Duchess of York, brought 
two little sailor-suited boys into the drawing-room to shake hands 
with me — David and Bertie as they were known widnn their own 
family. The elder boy’s vivid personahty stamped itself instantly 
on my imagination; he had a look of both mtelhgence and kind- 
ness, and a limpid clarity of expression, wliich were most im- 
pressive. I stiU possess a photograph of the two boys as they were 
then with their names written across it by their mother. 

In the years that followed I encountered him often, in successive 
phases of that long and devoted career of patriotic pubKc service of 
wliich the culmination was his accession to tlie Throne and to the 
duties for which he had so arduously prepared liimself. I recall the 
shy, shm lad staying in Paris to learn French in his late teens 
wondering (he who later in Hfe was to become a devoted Parisian) 
“what my grandfather saw in Paris”. I remember liis early years 
as Prince of Wales. I remember tlie gallant young soldier, who 
strove in every way to evade Lord Kitchener’s stem order that the 
heir to the Tlirone be not allowed near the front fine. I knew the 
man whose spirit was stamped forever by the sense of slaughter 
and waste of those years of trench warfare, the man who has said 
so poignantly and so truly, in his own memoirs, “I learned about 
war on a bicycle” — endlessly trundling his heavy Army bicycle 
along the muddy roads of Flanders, to places like Poperinghe and 
Montauban and the villages around Ypres, the man who in after 
years in that annual ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall recited 
Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen” with so rapt a sense of 
dedication and of loss. 

I remember in the years after the First World War the 
“Ambassador of Empire” who ceaselessly travelled the Common- 
wealth and Empire and the whole world in tlie service of his 
coimtry and his people. In the early twenties I met him more than 
once, strained and tired out as he was, during his extremely testing 

245 



i±i£ MEMOIRS OE AOA kHAN 


visit to India. At a big State banquet at St. James’s Palace, given 
in honour of the then Crown Prince of Japan — the present 
Emperor — I sat next to him. I remember his saying to me then 
that if Japan’s request for the renewal of the Anglo-Japanesc 
Alliance were refused — ^for this was the real reason of the Crown 
Prince’s visit — ^the Japanese would never forgive us. His voice had 
not the robust, far-hading quality that was in his father’s and his 
grandfather’s; his tone was in comparison with theirs always quiet 
and restrained, but he spoke with their earnestness, conviction, 
and faith in the importance of what he said. 

It was a commonplace of the 1920s to say that the Prince of 
Wales made friends wherever he went. That was no formal 
tribute, but a simple statement of the truth. Why was it? What 
was the source of Ins immense and irresistible attraction, which 
won the sympathy and admiration of the masses no less than the 
respect of the powerful few? The Times correspondent who 
accompanied him on one of his many journeys found, I am con- 
vinced, the true explanation. The Prince of Wales, he said, was an 
artist. There hes the real secret of his temperament, of his tragedy 
as much as of his acliievements; he was a bom artist. He won the 
affection and the understanding of midions as only the greatest of 
artists can do, not by dramatic or thaumaturgic technique, but as 
a receiving and an “offering up” anew to and for others of that 
which he received from them and evoked in them. That is why 
all his State visits, with their numerous mass encounters, drained 
so much out of him. When he came back after a long drive 
through thousands of cheering people the exhaustion which he 
felt had causes far deeper than the merely physical. Virtue had 
indeed gone out of him, for he was in profound nervous, mental, 
and spiritual accord with those who so eagerly surrounded liis 
slowly-moving car. 

In the early spring of 1936 I had my first audience of him after 
his accession. He was fully aware of my recent and current activi- 
ties. He knew that for the past few years I had been India’s cliief 
delegate at the Disarmament Conference and at successive sessions 
of the Assembly of the League. He knew that I was gravely 
perturbed by the increasingly menacing state of world affairs; 
burdened — ^Hke so many of us who to any extent were behind 
the scenes iti those years — by a deepening sense of the doom 

246 



MY \VORi>. FUR IMl: LtAGUE Or NAJ.IONS 


wliich we sought to avert; aware of the cancer at the heart of 
international — especially European — ^politics; alarmed, too, at 
what looked like American indifference and at the existence of 
what in those days we called Russia’s Gunpowder Plot, her sup- 
posed plan to blow up capitaHst civihzation by a war in which the 
Soviet Union would take no sides but at the end of which she 
would appear as beneficiary and all-powerful arbitrator. 

The Lor ds-in-Wai ting and the India Office officials who had 
come with me expected, I daresay, that I would have the ordinary 
perfunctory and brief audience. However, they cooled their heels 
for an hour and a half or more in the anteroom, while I underwent 
at the Kong’s hands one of the most searching, serious, and well- 
hiformed cross-examinations that I have ever experienced. I 
walked out at last filled with admiration not only for liis know- 
ledge, gleaned by his wide and deep reading of all the official and 
Cabinet papers wliich came to him, but even more for the serious- 
ness of has outlook and the penetration of his insight. 

During 1936 I met the King several times, at private cocktail 
parties, and at luncheon in the houses of one or two close friends. 
At the bigger gatherings, even in the midst of flippant people, I 
was gready struck with the King’s utter lack of flippancy, liis 
seriousness, and liis concentration on his duties. After my first 
audience, whenever I met liim on these private and unofficial 
occasions during those months, he was accompanied by Mrs. 
Wallis Simpson, now the Duchess of Windsor. I found her as 
intelHgent as she was charming, admirably well informed, devoid 
too of flippancy, and seriously and conscientiously striving to 
adjust her outlook to the King’s. At two different houses I met 
them at luncheon, and on each occasion the only other person 
present, beside our host and hostess, was my old friend — himself 
an ardent and persevering seeker after spiritual enlightenment — 
Philip Kerr, Marquess of Lothian.^ Our conversation could not 
have been in its general tone, more serious and more amdous. 

Naturally neither the King nor Mrs. Simpson ever mentioned 
their personal affairs to me or in my hearing, but, of course, 
wherever one went in London, that year the whispers and the 
rumours abotmded. 1 

I have already mentioned a poignant conversation which I had 
^ Subsequently H.M. Ambassador to Washington, he died in ip40. 

247 



THjb memoirs of AGA ji.HAN 


with Queen Mary on my return to London from Geneva. Later 
in the year, in July I think, a great friend of Queen Mary’s told me 
that every day she wept bitterly when she thought of tins hidden, 
unspoken catastrophe wliich loomed for her dearly-loved son. 

It was during this same critical period that Lord Wigram, when 
the two of us were luncliing alone, said sometlhng that struck me 
greatly. "King Edward VIII,” he said, “has it in liim to be the 
greatest king in the history of our country. With his charm and liis 
personal prestige he can carry with him the whole population — 
regardless of class.” 

Lord Wigram, after aU, spoke out of long and deep experience. 
He had been King George V’s private secretary, in succession to 
Lord Stamfordham, and a calm, wise, loyal counsellor and friend 
he was; but before he became a courtier he had been a serving 
officer in the Indian Army, and then on Lord Curzon’s staff when 
he was Viceroy. His equable and unimpassioned judgment seemed 
to me of considerable importance; yet I could see that, even as he 
spoke, he was mastering strong and extremely painful and anxious 
emotions. 

By the autumn I was back in Geneva. The ILing spoke to me 
once on the telephone; our conversation necessarily was guarded, 
yet I was aware once more of the profound sadness and the com- 
plexity of the drama in his own life and in the life of his country, 
whose bleak cHmax was then so near. The swiftness and the 
completeness of the final irrevocable decision were utterly tragic. 

Years have passed, and they have brought inevitably a new 
perspective to our view of those sombre happenings of the first 
weeks of December 1936. After King Edward VIH’s abdication, 
his younger brother acceded as George VI. We are all now grate- 
fully and gladly conscious of the magnitude of his selfless and 
steadfast service to his country and to the cause of human freedom 
in his sixteen years’ reign, and of the immense, quiet goodness of 
his character, so like his fatlier’s. 

George VI was blessed — as his elder brother was impelled to 
remark in the most poignant pubhe utterance of his life — ^in a 
supremely happy marriage. His gracious Consort, now Queen 
Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was as persevering and as selfless in 
public serwice as he was, always at his side to sustain and support 
him through many testing years which covered the dangers and 

248 



MY WORji FUR lUE LeAGUE OF NAilONS 

the ardours of the Second World War and the post-war period of 
far-reaclnng social and economic change. 

Now a beloved, charming young queen reigns as Head of the 
Commonwealth. She brings to her task mental and spiritual 
quahtics of the highest order, and it is akeady obvious that she 
has earned the deep loyalty and devotion of her peoples all over 
the world. She is sustained by the steadfast love of her husband, 
and her home, like that of her father before her, is a model of 
tranquil and affectionate family life. The omens arc auspiciously 
set for a splendid new Ehzabethan era in Britain’s long, eventful 
liistory . T he institution of the Crown in Britain and the Common- 
wealth has quietly and triumphantly survived its severest test; 
on this score, therefore, there is no reason for regret. 

Yet considered as a human happening in its own right, apart 
altogether from its constitutional and pohtical consequences, 
surely the story of Edward, Duke of Windsor, and his Duchess 
is one of the very great love stories of all time. Set it alongside 
the imperishable, tragic, and beautiful stories of Persian or Arabian 
legend, alongside the stories of Antony and Cleopatra and of 
Romeo and Juliet, and does it not stand forth as perhaps the most 
moving of them ah? 

When I was discussing my rchgious views, I quoted the saying 
of the poet Hafiz to the effect that those who are not granted the 
grace and aid of the Holy Spirit to achieve direct communion 
with that Divine Presence in which we hve, move, and have our 
bemg, may yet attain blessed and pure felicity if they acliieve the 
heights of human love and companionship — something not won 
Hghtly or easily, but the crown of a lifelong attachment, in which 
one human being devotes all that he has, knows, and feels to the 
love and service of another. 

Surely his former Majesty, King Edward VIII, who lost and 
sacrificed so much, has been granted, if not the supreme, at any 
rate the lesser and by no means unworthy blessing and iUumina- 
tion of a durable and all-enfolding love. 

I have one personal postscript to add to this sad yet stirring 
story. In the auttunn of 1937 1 found myself staying in Berlin, at 
the same time as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I called on 
them and we had a long, extremely intimate, and extremely 
revealing conversation. I was deeply affected by the obvious and 

249 



iHE MjiMOIKS Of AGA jvHAN 


transparently sincere loyalty and devotion with which the Duke 
talked of his brother, speaking of Ihm always as the King; the 
whole tenor of liis remarks was that of fidelity from a devoted 
subject to his sovereign. Later that year when I was in London 
I had an audience of King George VI; the ostensible reason for my 
being summoned to the Palace was that I should give His Majesty 
an account of the mterview which I had had with Hitler. Before 
I left, the King asked me, “You saw my brother?” I then told him 
the substance of tire Duke of Windsor’s conversation with me, 
and I stressed the warmth and the obvious smeerity of the Duke’s 
loyalty. The King was clearly most deeply moved by Iris elder 
brother’s willing and complete acceptance of the new situation — 
so moved in fact that I myself was equally stirred. 

i( -k ir ii: •k 

Can we sustain the peace, or must there in die end be war? 
This was die question with which we were faced at Geneva, year 
after year. To understand its intensity, and to understand the way 
in which each of us, as individuals or as representatives of our 
countries, strove to find our own answer, it is necessary to explore 
a good deal of the historical and poHtical background. Munich 
has constandy been hody attacked as a single, unparalleled, and 
causeless act of appeasement, and Neville Chamberlain, the British 
Prime Minister, whose name is forever associated with Munich, 
who thought it his greatest triumph and found it to be his greatest 
tragedy, has been criticized in the most unmeasured and ferocious 
terms. Yet who are, in fact, the “guilty men”, whom partisan 
propaganda so vituperatively pursued? What are the real reasons 
and not the superficial “blame”, for Munich? 

We must first probe far back into the story of Germany’s 
relations with the rest of Europe. We must look afresh at that 
unfortunate, false, and unjust assertion, made at the end of the 
First World War and given explicit formulation m the Versailles 
Peace Treaty, that Germany’s and Germany’s alone, was the war 
guilt. Whatever strict apportionment of guilt there should be, it is 
by no means all Germany’s. Nearly half the responsibility was 
Russia’s. What about the folly, the incompetence, the insane 
ambition and the revengeful self-satisfaction of a man like Isvolsky 
who, as Tsarist Ambassador in Paris, said to me — ^not to me alone, 

2S0 



MY WOKh. l^OR Hit lEAGUt OF NATIONS 

for he said it to everyone he could — “C’est ma guerre”? What 
about the same idiot boast on the Hps of Sazimov, that weak and 
fooUsh man who, despite all the warnings given liim by abler 
men hke Witte and Rosen, did not shrink in anticipation from 
a war that was to ruin his couiitr)'', liis Emperor, and his own 
class? 

However, at the end of the war, to milhons in the victorious 
nations, bhnded by their own propaganda. Imperial Germany 
seemed a convenient scapegoat. Germany was branded as the only 
criminal. And then, almost before the ink had dried on the sig- 
natures to the Versailles Treaty, a significant development 
occurred in poHtical thought. The intellectuals of the Left in 
Britain, profoundly affected by the limpidly persuasive writings 
of John Maynard Keynes, discovered that their consciences were 
troubled over Versailles’ injustice, and over the admission written 
into it, above the enforced signature of Germany’s representatives, 
that Germany alone was to blame for aU the horrors and miseries 
of the First World War; and until Hitler came to power, very 
vocal they were in their criticisms of the 1919 settlement. 

Doubts about not merely the wisdom but the morality of the 
Versailles Treaty were by no means limited to the liighbrows of 
the Left. Many a conscientious poHtical tliinker on the Right — 
though perhaps more pragmatic, more inclined to see the issue in 
terms of power poHtics — had severe misgivings about the j ustifica- 
tion, at the price even perhaps of a war, of maintaining a status quo 
founded upon a falsehood. The constitution of the League of 
Nations, which formed part of the Versailles Treaty, was similarly 
questioned. Under this, the League was endowed in theory with 
absolute authority to right all wrongs — “to break down this sorry 
scheme of things and replace it by something nearer heart’s 
desire” — but, as famiHarity with the actual processes of the League 
quickly made clear, its constitution was in fact so pUable that it was 
impossible for the League to right any wrong, however glaring. 

The status quo had everything on its side. There was as much 
chance of acliievuig any real rectification of frontiers, any adjust- 
ment of conflicting national claims, through the League, as there 
would have been of steering a bill providing for universal suffrage 
successfully through the House of Lords of 1830. The ideologues 
of the immediate post-war era worshipped the constitution of the 

251 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA j^aAN 


League, but like most idols it had feet of clay. It was, in fact 
though not in name, a repetition of Alexander I’s Holy Alliance 
of 1815. It was Mettemich’s system, dressed up anew as democ- 
racy, freedom, and — sacred word — ^self-determination. But it had 
been so adjusted that the “haves” among the nations had things 
all their own way, and the only hope for the “have-nots” of 
changing their inferior status lay either in sowing disunity among 
the “haves” or in budding up their mihtary power, sedulously 
and secredy, imtil they were able to launch direct and open 
aggression. This failing in the League was as durable as it was 
palpable. As I myself said later to Lord Halifax when he was 
Foreign Secretary, “You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s 
ear. 

Defects of this character could not long be hidden. The blood- 
stained Gran Chaco dispute between Bohvia and Paraguay was 
in a remote — and at the time strategically insignificant — region, 
but the difficulties it presented were real and grave, and those of 
us who had any share in reaching a fairly just solution of this 
problem were acutely conscious of diem. 

Then there arose the protracted Sino-Japanese trouble. Here the 
slate was, from the outset, the reverse of clean. At the conclusion 
of their successful campaign against Tsarist Russia, early in this 
century, the Japanese had bmlt up a special and powerful position 
for themselves in Manchuria, from Port Arthur almost to the 
walls of Peking itself, under which Cliina’s sovereignty was stiU 
recogni2ed but the country was administered and exploited by 
Japan as if it were a Japanese protectorate. The war-lords of 
Nordiem China had, in Bismarck’s phrase, “a telegraph wire” 
with Tokyo — ^indeed a full and constant comiection by telephone 
and radio as well. Though China was for years tom by internal 
strife, this relationship became more and more bitterly hostile, as 
the extent and the determination of Japan’s ambitions were dis- 
closed. For a long time it was customary to talk pohtely about 
“the differences” between China and Japan; but they were in 
fact a war, to which we in Geneva strove to put an end. 

From the League’s point of view China’s legal case was utterly 
unanswerable. Japan had no right in Cluna except in the various 
concessions — the ports, railway hues, commercial depots, and 
bases — ^which she had received from China, or won from Russia, 

2S2 



Mi WORji tOR liiJj LuAGUE OF NATIONS 

to wkom China had voluntarily given them. Her territorial pre- 
tensions, open or veiled, were without a sirred of legaljustiGcation. 

But when the League rebuked Japan and sought to intervene, 
it seemed to Japan’s rulers that the pot was loudly calling the kettle 
black. What about the hold that Britain had estabhshed in India 
in the eighteenth cenmry? Were they not, the Japanese argued, 
doing in the twentieth century precisely what countries like 
Britain and France had done in building up their empires a century 
or two earher? They would not and could not accept the claim 
that, under the constitution of the League, a new world had come 
into being and with it a new international morahty binding on all 
nations, imder wliich the only way to effect any political change 
was tlirough the League’s elaborate, compheated, and devious 
macliinery. It was, in the Scriptural phrase, far easier for a camel 
to go through the eye of a needle, than tor Japan to procure 
dejure recognition by the League of her de facto position on the 
northern Asiatic mainland. The “haves” said “No’'; it was only 
open to the “have-nots” to break through or to circumvent this 
wall of negatives. 

When the Sino-Japanese dispute was brought before the League, 
I on my own initiative approached Sir John Simon, then British 
Foreign Secretary, and told him that I felt that it was my duty as 
India’s representative — as an Asiatic — to do all I could to bring 
about a direct understanding by conversations between China and 
Japan. John Simon has been bitterly assailed in many quarters, but 
he possessed the mind of a statesman, not a bureaucrat. He saw 
immediately that, while such a departure by an Indian representa- 
tive, at a time when India was stiU without self-government, 
might seem unusual if unaccompanied by overt British support, 
the value of an Asiatic intermediary in a solely Asiatic dispute 
might be considerable. I was audiorized to see what I could effect. 
I had several conversations with botli Cliinese and Japanese repre^ 
sentatives. On one final occasion I got together the heads of the 
Chinese and Japanese delegations in a supreme effort to bring 
about an understanding; the three of us were actually photo- 
graphed together. 

However, a good deal more than the flash of a Press photo- 
grapher’s bulb was required. The negotiations broke down. Sub- 
sequently hostilities in Asia were renewed on a larger scale. The 

ZSf 



THE MEMOIRS OF AGA KHAN 

“Cliina Incident” became all-out war in Shanghai and in central 
China. Ultimately Japan left the League. Manchuria was separated 
from China, and the Japanese set up a puppet Emperor in Man- 
churia in the person of a scion of tlie old Manchu imperial dynasty, 
the man who, according to legitimist views, ought to have been 
Emperor of China, hi central Chhia conflict continued without 
cessation thereafter between the Japanese and the forces of General 
Chiang Kai-shek until — ^with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour in 
1941 — the extension of the Second World War to the Far East. 

★ ★ A* ★ ★ 

Personalities as well as policies were of significance in those 
difficult years. I came to know many remarkable men in Geneva, 
as we battled with successive problems and crises. The first 
Secretary-General of the League was Sir Eric Drummond ^ — an 
ideal man in a difficult, a weU-nigh impossible, position. He was 
not only aware that there were two sides to any argument, he saw 
every question fully in the romid. In my many conversations with 
him I began to appreciate the complexity and the far-reaching 
effects of every apparently small move or decision made by the 
League. It seemed that we were for ever watcliing the widening 
ripples on the pool caused by the tlirowing of seemingly smalt 
pebbles. Yet I must not give the impression that Eric Drmnmond 
was in favour of immobility in international affairs, or of stub- 
bornly preserving the status quo. No one, I daresay, had better 
appreciated than he had the lessons of history; no one realized 
more clearly, for example, that — in spite of all that Alexander I 
and Mettcrnich strove to establish — the European system estab- 
Hshed m 1815 had collapsed in sometliuig near chaos by 1830. 
Drummond had a flexible mind and highly developed powers of 
persuasion; I know that many a dispute that might have grown 
serious was settled in Ihs office, simply by liis exercise of tact and 
sagacious foresight. However, his influence and authority were 
limited, for the tradition that permanent officials had no views of 
their own had transferred itself from the national to the inter- 
national plane, and tlierefore as Secretary-General he had no right 
to initiate poUcy on his own. 

Briining, the Gennan Chancellor, was a forlorn, pathetic figure. 

^ Later the Earl of Perth. 

254 



MY WURi^ JrUR iim LiiAGUE OF NATIONS 

A sincere Christian, a devout Roman Catholic, he was obviously 
beset, in the midst of our troubles, by a genuine Christian con- 
science, by liis patriotism as a German, by the growing difficulties 
of keeping democracy afloat in Germany, by the mounthig chal- 
lenge of the Nazis, and by the increasing feebleness of the aged 
Hmdenburg’s attachment to the repubUc which had elected him 
as its President. 

Benes of Czechoslovakia was in his different way a no less tragic 
figure. He fully realized the dangers to which liis country was 
exposed. More than once over a coffee or at luncheon he talked 
to me of liis troubles and liis difficulties. He knew that the German 
minority in Czechoslovakia had to be won over, persuaded to 
give up their pan-German dreams, and become loyal and sincere 
citizens alongside the other racial groups in the country; but he 
reahzed that a heavy price had to be paid for such an achievement. 
He contmued, however, to pin liigh hopes to it. Yet whenever he 
went into the Sudetenland, to places like Carlsbad or Marienbad, 
he was faced with the limitations and the potential breakdown 
of his pohey, because the Czechs in those areas, although in a 
minority, strove to assert their superiority — poHtically and eco- 
nomically, and by die use of educational and linguistic barriers — 
to the German-speaking majority. His was a classic example of the 
way in which a well-meaning pohtical leader cannot persuade 
his followers to carry out his express and sincere intentions. 

Someone who was then embarking on his great career I 
encountered first in Geneva in those years — ^Mr. Anthony Bden. 
An immediate pomt of sympathy and understanding between us 
was that the subject in which he had taken honours at Oxford, 
immediately after the First World War, was Oriental languages; 
he had studied Persian and had known my very old friend Dr. 
E. G. Browne, the Orientalist and authority on Persian, who was 
Professor of Arabic. This shared friendsliip and our shared know- 
ledge and understanding of, and fellow-feeling for, Islamic litera- 
ture, thought, and philosophy, were special ties, uniting us more 
closely than the normal affihations and social propinquity natural 
between a representative of the British Government and a repre- 
sentative of India at a meeting of the Assembly of the League. 
It has not been difficult for someone who has watched, as I have, 
the careers of so many eminent statesmen past and present, to 

2-55 



i±lE MtMOIRS OF AtiA jvuAN 

foresee Mr. Eden’s ultimate and splendid destiny. Today I join 
my prayers with those of so many others that, when at length the 
great call comes and he takes up the liighest position of all, he 
win have regained in full the health and the strength wliich, over 
past years, he has expended so generously in the service of his 
country and of humanity in general. 

*•**■*•* 

The next great crisis v/hich faced the League was Italy’s assault 
on Ethiopia in 1935. It presented a more serious challenge even 
than the Sino-Japanese dispute, for however aggressive Japan’s 
actions were, there were explanatory, if hardly ameUorative, 
factors involved, which — as I have indicated — ^made it impossible 
for any of the Great Powers at least to regard that as a clean-cut 
case. All the various concessions, with all their legal equivocations 
about status, and (since the Japanese occupation of Korea) a 
common frontier along the Yalu River, were in themselves 
occasions for quarrels in which lack of diplomatic satisfaction 
could — and usually was — made the excuse for military action. 
The whole situation was morally indefensible, of course, but it had 
centuries of usage to sustain it and give it at least the superficial 
appearance of rcspectabihty. 

Italy, however, possessed none of these opportunities or facili- 
ties for whitewashing her aggressive, imperialistic designs on 
Ethiopia. Italy’s only case was one of naked need for fiving space 
for her ever-increasing population, if they were to remain Itahan. 
Libya’s possibfiities of intensive and large-scale exploitation and 
colonization were few; fertile areas in tlus long stretch of the 
Mediterranean Httoral were hmited, and the desert was vast. Italy’s 
surplus population seemed therefore faced with one of two possi- 
bdities. Either tliey could emigrate across the Atlantic to North 
or South America, or to neighbouring Mediterranean lands Hke 
Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, and be lost to Italy as 
citizens; or they could remain in Italy, always below the margin of 
subsistence, milhons too many for her limited soil to bear, with 
a standard of living far below that of any of their western Euro- 
pean neighbours and thoroughly unworthy of the nation that had 
succeeded Imperial Rome. 

Mussolini made no secret of his intentions. He made stirring 

Z<i6 



MY WURix rOK JliUi LEAGUE OP NAilONS 

speeches in towns and cities all over Italy, and his eloquence 
roused thousands to passionate enthusiasm and sympathy. At the 
diplomatic level he gave more than one warning, couched in 
terms, however, which were ambiguous enough for him to be 
able to interpret the silence with which France and Britain greeted 
them as consent, if not as dhect encouragement to him. Whatever 
the shadowy backgrormd of the Duce’s mental processes, there 
could be no ignoring the blatant openness of Iris preparations, 
tlrroughout the summer of 1935, for the mihrary conquest and 
annexation of the free, independent, and sovereign State of 
Edriopia, on pretexts which were flimsy in the extreme. The 
Ethiopians were faced with a tragic choice: either to accept an 
ultimatum from Mussolini; or, rejecting it, to wage a hopeless 
war which could only end hi total mihtary defeat and subjection. 

The League was thus thrust into a hopelessly difficult situation; 
and there developed that deep and catastrophic division of opinion 
in Britain and in France, and indeed throughout much of the 
world, wliich was to persist with such unfortunate results until 
the outbreak of the Second World War four years later. In two 
countries, however, there was no chance for any division of 
opinion to show itself: the U.S.S.R and Nazi Gennany. Russian 
policy was simple and monolithic; Litvinov had proclaimed 
Russia’s doctrine, “Peace is indivisible”, and whatever weaknesses 
and drawbacks communist poUcy may possess, there has nearly 
always been about it a fa9ade of logical unity between dogma and 
practice. The Nazis, of course, saw a superb opportunity to break 
up what remained of unity among the Powers who had been 
victorious over Germany in the First World War and who had 
sought to make their victory permanent by the guarantees written 
into the Versailles Treaty. They had the slirewdness not to pro- 
claim their satisfaction too loudly; public opinion in Britain and 
France was therefore not alert to the hidden dangers in the German 
attitude, any more than it recognized the hidden dangers in 
Russia’s expressions of shocked virtue. 

In Britain confusion and irresolution were woefully apparent. 
There was the “realism” — grossly mistaken, as the naval history 
of the Second World War was to demonstrate — of old-fashioned 
imperialists like the late Lord Lloyd, then President of the Navy 
League, who argued that the Royal Navy had been so weakened 



IHE MEMOIRS Oi- AGA js^uAN 


by the years of disarmament and economic stringency that it 
could not risk being brought into the open conflict which severe 
and legitimate action against Italy’s aggression would be bound 
to entail. Therefore they were opposed to any resolute pohey. 

Another school of thought argued that to aimoy Italy would be 
— as the phrase went — “to drive her into the arms of Germany”, 
and saw in this plea reason enough to submit to Mussohni’s high- 
handedness. There were others who saw a practical political 
escape-ladder in what came to be known as the Hoare-Laval 
arrangements. 

In Geneva there was a deep and widespread resentment and 
sense of humiliation at the easy success wliich apparendy attended 
this shameless policy of aggression, on coniotteori lines, with 
a twenticdi-century technique in international relations and 
propaganda. 

I saw my friend Mr. Eden and I said to him; “If you want inter- 
national pohtics to have a foundation of justice, if you want the 
League really to be what it is supposed to be, if you want to give 
it a chance to grow into a real society of nations, deciding matters 
of right and wrong among themselves, then here is an outstanding 
case which must be tackled. Here there is no vaUd excuse of any 
kind. There is no large ItaUan minority in Etliiopia deprived of 
their independence or their civic and economic rights. Here is a 
case of open and inexcusable aggression. And the remedy is in our 
hands. All we need do is shut the Suez Canal. Or if we must have 
sanctions, let them be appKed to oU as well, and thus make them 
a reahty and put some teeth into them. But I still think the best 
solution is a simple, unanimous resolution by the League to close 
the Canal.” 

Instead we found ourselves passing resolutions in favour of 
sanctions, which I found silly and futile. Yet ineffective as we 
knew them to be we had to vote in support of them; for if we 
did not, we would seem to be condoning Italy’s aggression, but 
the only sanction which would have achieved anydiing — the 
sanction of withholding petrol — ^was barred. I could foresee that 
it was inevitable from that moment onwards, that there would 
come a bitter day when those of us who had once held such high 
hopes for the League would have to go to the Assembly and, 
with misery in our hearts, ask for the removal of sanctions. I saw 

2^8 



MY ■WORi^ FOR THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS 

too — and I Have no liesitation in admitting it — that, once the 
moment came for us to submit to the ItaUan conquest of Ethiopia, 
it would be much better for us to swallow our pride and our 
anger and do it with a good grace. 

Here, then, was an important phase in the development of the 
poHcy and practice of appeasement. Here was an instance in wliich 
appeasement and conciHation of the aggressor were morally 
wrong; but once the Great Powers had appeased on this issue— 
a thoroughly bad and unjustified issue — there would follow the 
inevitable consequence that sooner or later we should have to 
stomach a new dose of appeasement, either m the matter of Japan 
in China, where there were loopholes both historical andjuridical, 
or in the matter of some sort of German aggression, where there 
would be the pleas of oppressed minorities, of plebiscites demand- 
ing reunion, and a whole specious facade of legaHty and morality. 

Was it, however, entirely specious? This was the grave and 
conscientious doubt that complicated relations with Germany 
bodi for individual nations and for the collective Assembly of the 
League — almost as soon as the Versailles Treaty was signed. Earher 
in this chapter I have referred to the inevitable changes in 
mood and outlook towards Germany which occurred in opinion- 
forming and influential circles among the victorious Powers, 
most notably in Britain and to a lesser extent in the United States 
and Italy. 

Now in general I greatly admire Britain and the British people, 
but my deepest admiration and respect I reserve for one abidmg 
characteristic which they possess — the existence in a substantial 
and usually influential part of the population of an acutely sensitive 
conscience, which prevents them accepting as a national responsi- 
bihty any unjust or violent act or policy, however advantageous 
it may seem to the country’s material welfare. No doubt in British 
history there have been phases of ruthlessness, violence, and con- 
quest; but has any healthy and virile race not passed through such 
phases in its long national life? But it is fundamental to the British 
character and the British way of life that this voice of conscience 
is always heard; it may at the outset be still and small, and belong 
only to a few, butin the end by it the majority has been persuaded. 
The naked code of the harsh struggle for existence, with its asser- 
tion that hfe is only maintained by the survival of the fittest, must 

259 



the memoirs Ot* AOA jxttAN 

ill the British view be amchorated — as the great Victorian scientist, 
Professor T. H. Huxley, said in a famous speech towards the end 
of his hfe— by a still higher and nobler instinct. This quahty of 
conscience has been far more persistently manifested among the 
British people and their cousins ui the United States than among 
any other great nation that I know. 

Among most of the human race this scrupulous conscience 
about external events is a personal and individual matter. In Eng- 
land it has long been a national possession; and this is true also of 
the United States. The cause of this phenomenon hes, I beUeve, in 
the influence of the Quakers; always numerically a fairly small 
minority, they have from the nineteenth century onwards exerted 
a moral and spiritual influence out of aU relation to their numbers. 
Through their connections with other nonconformist groups this 
influence, even in the era of Britain’s greatest industrial and com- 
mercial expansion at home and overseas, was diffused throughout 
the whole population, and the persistence and strength of its 
effect on British pohey and actions have been remarkable. 

During tlie 1920s the man who voiced these conscientious 
scruples about Germany most frequently and forcefully was Lloyd 
George. In tlie Press the campaign gathered strength and influence 
over the years, and it focused especially on the way in which 
Germany had been deprived of her colonies. J. L. Garvin and 
others made eloquent pleas for tlie return to Germany of one or 
more of the lost colonies. The British mind was never closed to 
the practical possibiUties, as well as the abstract virtue, of such a 
step. 

Now, if in Britain diere were these conscientious doubts about 
die wisdom of maintaining the stattis quo which had been imposed 
by the Peace Treaty, Germany’s view of Versailles from the 
beginning was that it was a Diktat, which must be circumvented, 
challenged, and finally overthrown by every means available to 
the German people. Germans in general neidier befleved that they 
alone had made die war, nor that they were in fact defeated. As 
soon, therefore, as Germany returned to the comity of civflized 
nations — ^long before the rise of Hitler — her attitude on all major 
questions should have been warning enough. Even the terms of 
the Locarno Treaty, for all die fervour and optimism with which 
they were acclaimed, were expheit only about the renunciation 



MY WOKi^ I’OS iiiji LiiAGUE OF NATIONS 

of war as a means of settling disputes in the West; German claims 
vis-a-vis Poland were left expressly undefined. 

Not long after Locarno, Lord D’Abernon, the great British 
Ambassador in Berhn, who with Ins beautiful wife had long been 
among my dearest and closest friends, was staying in Monte Carlo 
when Strescmami came there. Lord D’Abenion asked me to meet 
Strescinaim at a luncheon at the Hotel Metropole, at which besides 
the three of us the only other person present was Stresemann’s 
secretary. Stresemann did not beat about the bush. He held that 
the post-war period had witnessed the establishment of certain 
general principles: the freedom of all European peoples to unite if 
tliey so desired, and the right to self-determination of “colonies”, 
racial minorities separated from their mother countries. He said 
that these principles had been applied to Jugoslavia, Italy, and 
Czechoslovakia; and now, he argued, the impHcation of Locarno 
was tliat they must be extended to Germany by peaceful means. 
Locarno had fully and finally rectified the injustice of Germany’s 
annexation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871; henceforth Germany had 
no further claims in the West of Europe. Stresemann made no 
threats, and his arguments were based on grounds of justice and 
fair play. 

“Rectification” was indeed the idea which obsessed Germany’s 
statesmen and diplomats for years. At Geneva they canvassed it in 
and out of season. I recall from my own experience at least one 
instance of its being pushed forward regardless of the appropriate- 
ness of either time or place: a big official reception, with everyone 
in full evening dress, a stiffly formal occasion, when M. Tardieu, 
then leader of the French delegation to the Assembly was, in fuU 
pubhc view, relentlessly tackled by his opposite number on the 
German side. 

The failure of the Disarmament Conference was an opp ortunity 
wliich the Germans exploited. In the thesis that the Versailles 
Treaty had been intended to be a step towards general and pro- 
gressive disarmament among the nations, and that tire Allies had 
broken the undertakings which they had then given, they fotmd 
an excuse to rearm. 

From 1933 onwards Hitler merely shouted what his democratic 
and non-revolutionary predecessors had often said before, not in 
shy whispers but in ordinary conversational tones. There was 



THtj MiiMOIRS OF AGA j:^hAN 

nothing particularly new in the substance of his demands; what 
was novel was the arrogant, aggressive, and violent way in which 
he made them. His claims were as vague and as menacingly un- 
defined as theirs had been; but he also made certain quite specific 
pronouncements. The last tiring he wanted, he said, was another 
war. He would shed no more German blood. The German people 
had not recovered from the appaUing bloodshed from the First 
World War. Such claims as he made, he said, were humble and 
reasonable. In the autumn of 1937 I myself went to Berlin and 
saw hurt, not at the suggestion of the British Foreign Office, but 
with their full knowledge of what I was doing. By this time he 
had a fairly detailed list of demands: that an Austro-German 
Anschluss should be permitted, if a plebiscite of the Austrian 
people showed a majority to be in favour of such a union; that the 
relations between the Czechs and the German-speaking com- 
munity in the Sudetenland should be similar to those between 
Great Britain and the Irish Free State; and that Germany should 
have the right to a Colonial Empire, if not in the same territories 
as before then in their equivalent elsewhere. He held that Germany 
had a moral claim to Tanganyika because African soldiers had 
fought valiantly on the German side, and therefore German rule 
must have been popular with them. He made no threat of going 
to war on tliis issue. 

Six months later the whole picture had changed sharply. The 
Nazis had marched into Austria, and Hitler had been rapturously 
acclaimed in Iris native town of Linz and in Vienna. The Sudeten 
problem was no longer remote or academic. In the early summer 
of 1938 a major crisis occurred; Europe buzzed with rumours of a 
large-scale German mobilization along the Czechoslovak frontier; 
over a tense week-end statesmen and officials were anxiously at 
work in embassies and foreign ministries. The crisis passed without 
a decisive flare-up, but it had indicated the depth and the malig- 
nancy of the disease from wliich Europe was suffering. Mr. Eden 
had resigned from the Foreign Office, and had been succeeded 
by Lord Halifax, the former Viceroy. However, the Prime 
Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, exercised a vigilant eye over 
foreign affairs; he who — quite justly — ^had described the League’s 
pohey of sanctions against Italy as “midsummer madness”, strove 
now with energy and sincerity to efiect a practical easement of the 

'> 6 '' 



MY WORK I'OR THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS 


diiiiculties and the dangers which beset Europe. He sought, by 
finding specific solutions to specific problems, to build anew, if 
necessarily brick by brick, a new structure ofpeace. The grievances 
of the Sudeten Germans were one such specific problem. 

Konrad Henlein, the Nazi leader and spokesman in the Sudetcn- 
land, visited England that summer and put his case to leadmg 
British statesmen. At Mr. Chamberlain’s request and with the 
agreement of the Prague Government, Lord Runciman, a leadmg 
member of the Liberal Party, an ex-Cabinet Minister of un- 
blemished reputation and with a long record of success as a 
negottator on both the political and economic front, headed a 
small mission to Czechoslovakia m order to investigate the whole 
problem of the Sudeten Germans’ future, and if possible to recom- 
mend a solution. Apart altogether from any mihtary threat, Lord 
Runciman’s mission was in no doubt as to what the result of a 
plebiscite in the Sudetenland would be. 

A strong and influential current of opinion was running in 
England in favour of a radical but peaceful, just, and permanent 
settlement of Germany’s demands. Among tliose most closely 
concerned m the effort to achieve such a settlement was an old and 
intimate friend of my own. By a coincidence, two of Britain’s 
outstanding Ambassadors in Berhn have been my dear and valued 
friends. I have already referred to Lord D’Abernon, whom I had 
known well since the early 1900s. Now the British Ambassador 
was Sir Nevile Henderson. He and I had first met, and had struck 
up a warm and lasting friendship, when he was a comparatively 
junior official in the British Embassy in St. Petersburg in 1912. In 
Paris a few years later he and I were both members of the small, 
well-to-do, predominantly American, set of agreeable, literary, 
artistic, sporting, and cultured folk, whom I have mentioned 
earher; and later again we had been in touch in Egypt. A quarter 
of a century after our first encounter he had reached the peak of 
his career as a diplomat, charged — as his own frank autobiographi- 
cal record ^ has disclosed — ^with what could have been a uniquely 
important responsibility. He and I met several times after he had 
gone to Berlin. He assured me that — Shaving seen for himself, on 
a visit to Carlsbad and Marienbad, that sentiment there was 
overwhelmingly pro-German — ^he was convinced that a fair 
^ Fiiihre of a Mission, by Sir Nevile Henderson. 

26q 



IJHil MiiMOlKS Uf AGA ji-rlAN 


plebiscite ’would reveal a large majority in favour of unity with 
Germany. 

Almost all the advice to wliich the British Cabinet hearkened 
was on similar hues. The bulk of the Conservative Party supported 
the Cabinet. So did the City. In the Press, the most powerfirl and 
influential support for ajust and equitable settlement of Germany’s 
demands — and of the demands of the people in the Sudetenland 
themselves — came from The Times. Tliis great newspaper, in its 
recently pubHshed history of itself, has revealed with remarkable 
candour and forthrightness the part which it played in the whole 
Munich crisis. Contrary to a beUef that has been widely held in 
Britain and abroad there was no promptmg by the Government 
of the attitude that The Times adopted. Geoffrey Dawson, the 
Editor, and Rohin Barrington-Ward, his assistant and eventual 
successor — bodi of whom are now dead — had themselves, by 
utterly independent processes of reasoning and judgment, come 
to the conclusion that it was not only poHtic, but just and fair, to 
seek to secure, if necessary by far-reaching concessions, a settle- 
ment ■with Germany, and they hoped that such a settlement woiald 
prevent the outbreak of a war. 

There has of late been a curious shift of emphasis among those 
who defend Munich. It is fashionable to argue (as a correspond- 
ence in the Daily Telegraph in the summer of 1953 demonstrated) 
that Munich was justified not on moral grounds, but on military 
grounds, as a strategic and logistic necessity imposed by Britain’s 
weakness on land and sea and most of all in the air. This, I think, 
can be summed up as the “Munich-bought-much-needed-time” 
school of thought. This is a post hoc thesis shaped to fit the pattern 
of subsequent events. It was not the argument which was em- 
ployed at the time. Then the case for Munich as I heard it stated, 
by members of the Government and by other champions of the 
settlement, and with all sincerity by myself, was propounded as a 
moral question and ran as follows: would Great Britain be justified 
in going to war to prevent the Germans of Czechoslova ki a from 
declaring tlieir choice by plebiscite, and in consequence to compel 
them to remain under Czech rule? 

Looking back on it all now, I suppose that I was subconsciously 
influenced in favour of the idea of separating the Germans from 
the Czechs in the regions in which they were in a majority, by my 

264 



MY work; for the league op nations 

close personal connection with and understanding of the Mushm- 
Hindu issue in India, which afforded, on a much larger scale, an 
almost incredibly exact analogy. Here in miniature was what was 
to happen nearly a decade later in India. Konrad Henlein played 
at the time (though liistoi-y was later to submerge liim entirely) 
the decisive role wliich, in the Pakistan-Bharat issue, was Jinnah’s. 

Whatever the subconscious background to my conscious 
thought then, I had no doubt where I stood. At Geoffrey 
Dawson’s invitation I wrote a Times leader-page article in un- 
stinted praise of the agreement with which Mr. Chamberlain 
returned — in triumph and to a rapturous welcome, let it be re- 
membered — from his last visit to Germany. I stand before history 
therefore as a strong, avowed supporter of Munich. And now, 
all these years later, after all the violent and troublous happenings 
since then, I say without hesitation that I thank God tltat we did 
not go to war in 1938. Apart altogether from any liighly debatable 
question of military preparedness or the lack of it, if Great Britain 
had gone to war in 1938, the doubt about the moral justification 
of the decision would have remained for ever, and doubt would 
have bred moral uncertainty about the conduct and the conclusion 
of the war. In the perspective of history Britain would be seen 
to have gone to war, not on a clear-cut, honourable, and utterly 
unavoidable issue, but in order to maintain the status qua and to 
prevent a plebiscite by which a regional racial majority might 
seek to be united with their brothers by blood, language, and 
culture. 

An easy haze of forgetfulness enfolds many of the details of that 
period. An important, but frequently ignored, part of the Munich 
settlement as it was negotiated by Mr. Chamberlain was that there 
should be a plebiscite in doubtful areas in Czechoslovakia where 
the two races were mixed. In the subsequent turmoil of events this 
important provision was forgotten, and the plebiscite never hap- 
pened; perhaps it can be argued that its result would any way have 
been a foregone conclusion. 

Perhaps; but I merely know now that I, like many others in that 
autumn of 1938, had the illusion that we were indeed going to 
have “peace in our time”. Neville Chamberlain, who had brought 
this about, was our hero, and for a short time he was adulated as 
few statesmen have ever been before or since. 

265 



THJi MEMOIRS UP AGA j^nAN 


It was a tragically brief period. Hitlierto Hitler had — whatever 
methods he had used to attain his ends — based Iris claims on the 
principle of self-determination as laid dowui in the Peace Treaties 
and in the constitution of the League of Nations. In the spring 
of ipjp however he ripped olf the veil of respectability. His forces 
entered what remained of Czechoslovalda, and the coimtry was 
termed a “protectorate” of the Reich, and Baron von Neurath — 
a survivor from the pre-Nazi era — ^was sent to Prague to rule as 
Protector a country which had indeed been annexed and totally 
subjugated. 

Tins destroyed in a single stroke the whole moral basis of 
Germany’s case before Iiistory, and it united in a common resolu- 
tion many who, in 193 y-S, had held very different views. There 
was now no doubt, diere were now no questionings. It was per- 
fectly obvious to everyone — even to those who, a year before, 
had been the stoutest supporters of Munich — that Hitler’s war in 

1939 was a deliberate act of aggression. However, it was not only 
Hitler’s war. The terrible fact is that it was the German people’s 
war. This time the allocation of blame is correct. In the vast 
majority the German people were with Hider in his attempt either 
to impose his “New Order”, which was to last for a thousand 
years, or to bring all European civilization crashing down in ruin 
with him in a final Wagnerian cHmax. 

It is true that there were attempts to assassinate Hider. But the 
only one that got beyond vague talk was the coup of 3 oth July 
1944, wliich was the work of a group of senior Army officers, 
and which very nearly succeeded. Even tliis effort — despite the 
sincere patriotism, the dignity, and the courage tuider torture of 
the men involved — ^was not made until the Nazis’ defeat was a 
certainty. Not one of the generals raised a finger in 1939, nor in 

1940 or 1941 when the Axis straddled the world. It needed the 
imminence of total defeat to convert them. If a genuine and con- 
sistent sense of responsibihty had animated them, they would have 
plotted not to avert the consequences of the war in I944--5, but 
to have prevented dre war breaking out in 1939. 

Someone may say: “A coup by a handful of soldiers would not 
have helped in 1939; die German people would have gone to war 
all the same.” 

If that is so — if offered all they demanded, the German people 



Mi WOiiJi FOR iJriii lEAGUi OF NAilONS 

deliberately chose war instead of peace, aggressive conquest 
instead of shared prosperity — ^it is the most complete condenma- 
don of Germany, the most complete justification of every act of 
retribution inflicted on her — the cutting off from the East, the loss 
of territory, the destruction of her cities. 

The argument may be continued a stage further: “What about 
Danzig? That was a German city— why wasn’t the principle of the 
plebiscite applied there?” 

The answer is that Germany never wanted, never asked for an 
honest plebiscite in raising the Danzig issue or in any of her claims 
on Poland. When Ribbentrop, Hitler’s Foreign Minister, made 
his formal statement of those claims, how did he do it? Instead of 
taking any of the normal steps by which negotiations are ordin- 
arily initiated, he summoned my friend. Sir Nevile Henderson, 
to witness a scene as tragic as it was futile. Rapidly and harshly, 
in German, he read liis ultimatum to tlie Ambassador, in the 
neurotic yet reckless way in which a criminal tries to arrange an 
ahbi. He turned away abruptly without even handing Henderson 
the document to let him read it. It was therefore as a criminal’s 
ahbi that Henderson interpreted it. The German mood in 1939 
was a mood of criminal folly and gambler’s pride. To allege now 
that this was Hitler’s war, the Nazis’ war, the generals’ war, the 
war of a handful, is an evasion of the truth. This was a war of 
the German people, for winch the overwhelming majority of 
them must be held responsible, particularly tlie governing classes. 

Is there a moral? Is there an explanation? I have come to believe 
this about the Germans: that in spite of all their great qualities, 
their ability, their capacity for hard work, their discipline, their 
intelligence, and their passion for education, they are afflicted 
with a romantic, self-immolatory streak in their character wliich 
is never satisfied with mere success. Perhaps the Second World 
War was fought because other nations forgot about Wagner. 

After 1870 Bismarck said again and again, “We are satisfied.” 
Surely after 1938 that is wliat, in realistic terms, the German 
leaders and people should have said. Tluiiking in those terms, 
Nevilie Chamberlain believed that he had bought peace in our 
time. Instead, less than a year later, he was saying in a sad, grave 
voice: “It is the evil things we fight against.” Why? Was it not 
that Wagnerian, death-desiring streak which drove an allegedly 

267 



THE MjiMUIRS Op AGA j:^HAN 

civilized race into the most blatantly aggressive war ever launched? 
At least now no one on the Alhed side can have a single twinge 
of conscience, a single doubt that we were justified in fighting. 
This was a righteous war. 

***** 

My years of work at Geneva did not, I am glad to tliink, go 
unrecognized. In 1937 1 was unanimously elected President of the 
League of Nations. When that year’s session concluded I was 
asked to continue to hold the Presidency for another year, until 
Just before the opening of the 1938 session. This was a rare honour 
and a responsibihty, for mine would have been the duty of 
summoning a special session and presiding over it, had one been 
found necessary. 

My work in this international field, and its crown and climax 
in my year as President of the League, had especially dehghted my 
beloved mother. When I first went to Geneva she was over eighty, 
and she followed my work there with unflagging interest. Each 
year that I went to India we talked together as fully and as frankly 
about this as we had throughout my life shared our interests, our 
joys and our sorrows. For a very long time she retained her healtli, 
all her faculties, her keen zest for life and all its concerns, whether 
pubhc and pohtical or family and domestic. When tlie 1937 
session of the Assembly ended I went to my home in the South 
of France, with no reason to believe that my mother’s health — 
she was by then in her eighty-eighth year — ^was causing any 
serious anxiety. Nor indeed was it, for she was maintaining her 
accustomed tranquil and happy way of hfe. 

She had seen both my sons, Aly and Sadruddin, the latter of 
whom, as a little boy, was a special joy and comfort to her, botli 
when she came to Europe, and during a summer wliich he and 
his mother spent with her in the Lebanon. Sadruddin, too, bore 
the name of my elder brother who had died in infancy, and this 
particularly rejoiced my mother’s heart. She did not see her great- 
grandchildren, Aly’s two boys, Karim and Amyn, but she knew 
all about them and she chose both their names, the younger bear- 
ing that of her brother who died as a young man in the 1880s. 
She had, as I have recorded, been present at my first Jubilee, and 
had been made especially happy by the congratulatory telegram 

'•68 



MY WOitiv tOR iHc LEAGUE OF NATIONS 


sent by Lord Wigram, on behalf of King George V, just before 
die news of the King’s death cut short our celebrations. Eager, 
affectionate, pious, alert to every new happening and new interest, 
my mother in her last years was someone who radiated a sense of 
joy and goodness among all who knew her. 

It was at the end of 1937 that I had a cable from India saying 
that she had been taken seriously ill and bidding me hasten to 
come and see her. I flew to hidia at once, in the fastest aircraft of 
those times, which took tliree and a half days to reach Bombay, 

My mother had retained all her life die habit of a Turkish bath. 
In each of our houses in India we had a regularly equipped 
Turkish bath, with dry, properly heated alcoves, with the correct 
water system, and with as its climax a hot pool and a small and 
very cold pool. My mother had a regular bath once a week, with 
all its traditional accompaniments of Turkish and Persian massage; 
she had a manicure and a pedicure, and in the Eastern fashion she 
had her hair dyed with henna. Coming from her bath one day 
in November she had a stroke; she recovered consciousness but 
thereafter her mental faculties were impaired and her memory 
lost, except for brief periods of clarity and vision. 

She was at our house at Malabar Hill. Her doctor — incidentally 
a descendant of one of my grandfather’s original followers from 
Iran, who had become a member of the Indian Medical Service — 
warned me that I must expect to find a great change in her. I was 
surprised to find that her physical health seemed excellent, but the 
mental breakdown — except for the moments of lucidity wliich I 
have just mentioned — was almost complete. I spent ahnost all my 
time with her; and it was a great joy when occasionally she fuUy 
recognized me and talked to me. 

All her long life my mother had been animated by one simple, 
sincere desire; that, when the time came, she should die and be 
buried on MusHm soil, by which she meant a land ruled by a free, 
independent, and sovereign Muslim government. To this w^as knit 
one more longing, that in death she should he beside my father, 
whom she had dearly and deeply loved, and for whom her 
mourning from the moment of hri death more than fifty years 
before, had been as profound, as durable, and as touebing as 
Queen Victoria’s for her beloved Prince Albert. 

As soon as I could, therefore, I made preparations to have my 

260 



iHJ; MJ5MUIRS Ul* AGA j>vHAN 


mother taken to Iraq, where an independent MusHm government 
ruled, and where my father’s body rested at Nejef near Kerbela. 
There were obviously considerable difficulties and problems about 
her journey thither. Medical advice ruled out air travel, though 
I have always believed that my mother, in spite of the various 
stops that the two-day journey to Baghdad would have involved, 
would have stood it better than the sea trip. However, it was by 
boat that she went to Basra and thence by train to Baghdad. I had 
been to Cairo in the meantime, and I flew back to Baghdad to 
find her at the house of a cousin of mine, Aga Mustafa Klian, 
close by the holy shrme of Kadhamin. 

A few minutes after I reached her bedside, her eyes opened, and 
she recognized me. Then in the way that all true MusUms would 
ask, who seek to follow the Prophet’s example and attain a safe 
and quiet journey from the midst of the hvmg, she achieved peace 
and happiness and that final “Companionship-on-High*’ for 
which all yearn. In accordance with Ismaih tradition I did not 
accompany her body to its last resting place, but certain nephews 
and cousins laid her lovmgly beside my father, and they were — as 
she had long and ardently desired — finally reunited. 




T1r‘ Ag.i Klun .iihI Mr. Charles Cliapliii meet .it the itjs) 
Cannes Film Festiv.il 


Mr. Olivei L^tteltini, the Cohmial Senetaiy, thals \sitli the Aga Khan din mg 
a paity given to sevei.al hundied Ismaili Muslims in London in July J9S3 





Ftbiiicuy 19^4 TIk Aga Khan n, \stigh(.J against platinum tliinng iIk 
cdtbiations at Kaiachi inaiking his 70 yeais as Ini un . 


On safaii in East Africa with the Begum Aga Khan 


CHAPTER XII 


THE WAR YEARS. THE PARTITION 
OF INDIA 


f—i — IHE outbreak ol the Second World War meant for me the 
I shattering of the hopes of a lifetime. The great Palace of the 
X League of Nations at Geneva, which I had opened, was 
deserted and shuttered. Its emptiness and its silence were sharply 
symbohe. However, it was in Switzerland that I found myself in 
those late summer and early autumn days of 1939 when Hitler’s 
armies swept over Poland, and Britain and France, for tlie second 
time in a generation, went to war agamst an aggressive and 
conquest-hungry Germany. 

Although later in the war, when I was permanently resident in 
Switzerland, the Swiss Government — ^in the difficult and deUcate 
conditions of die time — ^had to ask me to refrain from pohtical 
activity of any kind, that provision was not in force in September 
1939. 1 was able, therefore, to address manifestoes to my followers 
everywhere bidding them give all the support and help of which 
they were capable to Britain and the British cause. There was, 
however, no occasion for diplomatic or poHtical activity on my 
part such as I had undertaken in the First World War. No great 
Mushm Power was uivolved, as the Ottoman Empire had been 
involved. There was no CaHph; there was no proclamation of a 
jehad. My duties and my responsibiHties were no more and no less 
than those of any other private citizen. 

I had at that time a considerable number of horses in trahiing 
and at stud. In the belligerent countries racing on any scale was 
obviously off for the duration of the war and probably for a long 
time afterwards. However, in 1939 Italy was not a belligerent. 
It occurred to me that I might be able to negotiate a deal which 
would not be unhelpful to the Italian Government and — if I 
K 271 



J.HJ3 MEMOIRS Ot AGA j^iiAN 

made a profit as I hoped to do — ^woiild supply me with a consider- 
able sum to invest in British War Loans. With my wife, therefore, 
I went to Florence, and offered to sell all iny horses to the Italian 
Government. I found that niy offer had considerable support 
among people of standing, particularly those who wanted Italy 
to stay out of the war; Ciano liimself, I have since discovered, 
was in favour of it. However, at the liighest level, and on 
the edge of completion, the deal was forbidden by Mussolini 
liimself. 

To me this was a clear indication of Mussolini’s intentions, for in 
addition to the large sum wliich I asked, I imposed two conditions, 
the money was to be paid immediately, but the horses were not 
to be dehvered in Italy until after the end of hostilities. 

Before I made this approach to the Italian Government, I had 
offered my stallions and mares to the British National Stud. In 
those days, I ought perhaps to point out, my son Aly had no share 
in the ownership of my stables, and I was therefore at hberty to 
do exactly what I liked without consulting anyone else. My terms 
in tills offer were, however, very different from those which I 
later proposed to the Itahan Govcnmient. For my whole stable, 
including Baltram, Mahmoud, and every racehorse I had, I asked 
not one-tenth of their real value, and less than a fifth of the price 
wliich I was on the verge of getting from the Itahan Government. 
The Muiistry of Agriculture, however, for reasons best known to 
themselves, rejected an offer which I beheve to have been unique, 
which would, too, have been of enormous benefit to agriculture, 
one of Britaui’s most vital industries in peace and in war. To this 
day I have never understood this decision. They did not even 
bother to look in the gift horse’s mouth. 

In the winter of 1939-40 1 went to India, spending some months 
there, and seehig and staying in Delhi with the Viceroy, Lord 
Linlithgow. I gave liim an account of the failure of my negotia- 
tions with the Itahan Government. In April I went with my wife 
and my young son to my villa at Antibes in the South of France, 
as I had been accustomed to do for years. The cataclysmic events 
of May and June 1940 took me, like so many others, utterly by 
surprise. During my years at Geneva I had come to know many 
French statesmen, and all along their confidence in the French 
Army’s strength was so supreme and so unshakable that when 

272 



■j.niJ WAR IJIAKS. iHc PARlIl'ION OF INDIA 

French resistance collapsed along almost the whole front from the 
Rliinc to the Channel, and the Nazi motorized divisions swept 
south and west across France, I was shocked and appalled beyond 
belief. When Italy declared war on the Allies, and the French 
Government, abandoning Paris as an open city, took refuge in 
Bordeaux, I saw that we were in peril of being trapped in a 
totally vanquished country. With my wife and my son I made 
my way as quickly as I could to Switzerland, by almost the last 
remaining door out of France before the end. My elder son Aly 
had taken a commission in a British Yeomanry Regiment and 
with official approval had been attached to the French, and he was 
at tliis time with their forces in Syria. My daughter-in-law, with 
her small boys, was in Cairo. 

Neutral Switzerland was a haven, but for several years it was 
an isolated and sohtary haven. I was barred from pohtical activity; 
I was cut off from most of my contacts with the outside world; 
and tliese years saw the beghming of my series of grave illnesses. 
From the British Consul-General in Geneva, Mr. Henry Living- 
ston, and from his colleague in Zurich, I received a great deal of 
kindness and help, in times that were difficult and trying enough 
for us all. 

The origins of my illness lay several years back. From about 
1935 I had been aware of certain troublesome internal symptoms, 
but various doctors whom I consulted did not take a particularly 
serious view of them. In Switzerland in 1940 1 took the advice of 
a number of eminent surgeons; I underwent examination after 
examination, and the doctors’ view grew graver and graver, with 
more than a hint that the tumour, wliich was the cause of the 
trouble, might be mahgnant. Its position was such, however, that 
they considered it dangerous to operate. Haemorrhages were an 
ahnost daily experience, and I lost strength steadily, and in con- 
sequence was greatly depressed. Only after the war, when I was 
able to go to Paris, did the great French surgeon, Professor 
Franqois de Gaudard d’Allaines, operate on me and, removing the 
tumour, discover tliat it was non-mahgnant. This however did not 
entirely end my trouble; of my subsequent bouts of illness I shall 
have sometlring to say later. 

***** 


373 



IHE MEMOIRS OF AOA i^HAN 

Mcanwliile, during nay enforced stay in Switzerland, there was 
one profoundly important change in my private hfe. I have re- 
ferred before to the differences between the Christian and the 
Muslim view of marriage, and to the misunderstandings which 
arise. While those brought up in the Christian tradition, with its 
sacranaental concept of marriage, find it hard to understand the 
practical and contractual basis of the Islamic idea of marriage, for 
Muslims it is just as difficult to comprehend the laws in the West 
which compel the continuance of an unhappy marriage, and insist 
on the artificial and arranged sin of adultery in order to brhig to 
an end an association that has become insupportable and to permit 
both partners to make a fresh start in life. 

Maritally my third wife, Princess Andrce, and I drifted apart, 
although our affection, our respect, and our true friendship for 
each other were in no way impaired. We reahzed that it would 
be better for us to change our marital to purely affectionate 
relations, and in these circumstances and by mutual consent we 
were divorced in a civil court m Geneva in 1943. 

Thirteen months later I married my present wife, wliom I had 
first met in Cairo and whom I had known for many years. I can 
only say that if a perfectly happy marriage be one in wliich there is 
a genuine and complete union and understanding, on the spiritual, 
mental, and emotional planes, ours is such. 

As a good Muslim I have never asked a Christian to change her 
rehgion in order to marry me; for the Islamic belief is diat 
Christians and Jews — and, according to some tenets, Zoroastrians 
and reformed Hindu Unitarians — may marry MusUms and retain 
their own. religion. With no attempt on my part at influencing her 
mind, ray present wife had already been converted to Islam while 
she hved in Cairo. Perhaps each of several motives and impulses 
played its part in her conversion: the quiet fervour of MusHm 
bcHevers in their Friday prayers; the complete absence of snob- 
bery, prejudice, and racial pride that is fmidamental to Islam’s 
practice and preacliing; and also no doubt the serene, consolatory 
beauty — a beauty that seems spiritual as well as physical — of a 
mosque Hke that of Sultan Hassan in Cairo. 

Our marriage came then at a time when I badly needed my 
wife’s support and understanding. She has been my strong and 
gentle help and comforter through all my serious illnesses of 

374 



THE WAR VEARS. illi: PARlIiTON OB INDIA 

recent years. I have at last been granted the real and wonderful 
haven of finding in and with my wife a true union of mind and 
soul. 

**■***■ 

My only pohtical activity of any importance hi the war years 
concerned the Allies’ entry mto Persia in 1941, with the double 
intention of opening up a less vuhierable line of communication 
with the Soviet Union than the route taken by the Arctie convoys 
to Murmansk and Archangel, and of preventing Persia being used 
as a base for Axis intrigue and espionage against the Allies’ position 
in the Middle East. Tliis action, strategically necessary as it doubt- 
less was, involved the deposition of that remarkable monarch, 
Reza Shah, and precipitated a long period of unrest, resentment, 
and frustration in relations between Persia and the West which 
only reached (let us hope) its end in the events of August 1953. 

It may be timely, therefore, if I give a brief character sketch of 
Reza Shah, whom I knew well, before I describe the steps by 
which I attempted to amehorate, on liis behalf, the Allies’ action 
in respect of his country. Reza Shah, although he had had his 
military education and training under Russian ofQcers, was of 
pure Iranian descent, from the north of the country, a region 
whose peoples have not muigled their blood with the tribes of the 
south, nor with the Turkish tribes that settled in Persia in the 
epoch of the great migrations. The farruly name which he took, 
Pahlevi, itself indicates that he fully reahzed that liis origin was 
pure Aryan Iranian. 

I myself, as I have said, am closely related on both sides of my 
family to the preceding Kajar dynasty, whose beginnings were 
Turkish but whose blood, through the generations, had of course 
mingled extensively with that of the Iranians whom members of 
the dynasty married. 

Reza Shah Pahlevi was a man of great stature, whose strength 
in his prime was moral as well as physical. A cavalryman by 
training, he rose rapidly — ^like Nadir Shah before him — by sheer 
abihty, strength of character, and superior intelligence, and 
became at length Minister of War under Ahmed Shah, the last 
Kajar emperor. With Ahmed Shah’s encouragement he became 
Prime Minister and virtual dictator of Iran. His ambition was to 

27^ 



iHji MjiMOiRS OP AoA liilAN 


make Iran a truly independent country, free of all de facto if not 
de jure suzerainty imposed from without, and free of constant 
Russian and British pressure and of the clash of interests of these 
two countries. From all that I know of liim I have long been 
convinced that he would have had no desire to seize the throne 
had Alimed Shah shown even an ordinary interest in Ins country 
and in his duties as its sovereign. 

Alimed Shah’s story was sad and not unfamiHar. He was an 
extremely inteUigent young man, highly educated, with a wide 
knowledge of both Eastern and Western culture, and well read 
in history, pohtics, and economic theory. But his intellect and his 
talents were corroded by a profound and pervasive pessimism. 
He did not bcUeve that, by effort, by intelligence, and appheation 
— all quahties which he possessed — ^he could make liis tluone and 
liis dynasty prosperous and stable. An indication of his strange 
indifference to the normal impulses of life was that, altliough he 
had children, he allowed his brother to remain heir apparent to his 
throne. I knew him weU, both as a near relative and as a friend. 
We were on excellent terms and we met often. It was obvious, 
however, that he did not care much about his crown, or rather he 
lacked any behef that he could acliieve any tiling constructive with 
his destiny, or do anything to improve conditions in his own 
country. He concentrated on providing for his cliiidren and his 
mother, and to a certain extent for his brother; he made shrewd 
investments in the United States, and carefully and steadily built 
up his private fortune. Adroit as he was in administering his 
personal affairs, he was equally despondent about his duties as 
Shah. 

His end was untimely. He was enormously fat, and he deter- 
mined to reduce his weight. He went to extremes, however, cut 
his weight down by half, and did his health irreparable harm. 
He was stiU quite a young man when he died in the American 
Hospital in Paris. But before that he had lost his throne. Again and 
again he was urged to go back to Persia; he disregarded every 
summons from his government and ignored the anxious advice of 
friends such as myself, and flatly refused to resume his duties. 
In these circumstances Reza Shah Pahlevi was fully justified, 
historically and constitutionally, in assuming the crown and the 
responsibilities which had been abandoned by the man in whose 

276 



TiiE WAR ^nARS. i±iE PARlIilON OF INDIA 


charge they had been set. And I, tlierefore, was one of the first 
to send him my homage and my prayers for a fehcitous and 
prosperous reign. 

Reza Shah was an able ruler, a patriot who suffered real torture 
to see his country perhaps the most backward of all the world’s 
independent and sovereign nations. He was a shrewd and cour- 
ageous modernizer. First he set out to free Islam, as it was practised 
in Iran, from the many superstitions and from the many semi- 
idolatrous ideas and practices which — contraiy to the true tenets 
of our faith— had been fostered in Iran by the ecclesiastical lawyers, 
who thus kept the people ignorant, their own interests secure and 
their power supreme. The Kajar dynasty, in order to conserve its 
own position, had allied itself widi tliis bigoted semi-priesthood, 
and together they had discouraged the younger generation in 
Persia from going to Europe and America in order to equip 
themselves intellectually and tcclmically in all that the industrial 
and scientific revolution had brought about. Reza Shah broke 
away from tliis, opened the doors of his country to the study of 
modem science, and sent large numbers of Persian students to 
universities in Europe and America. He encouraged the education 
and emancipation of women arid ended the horrible custom of 
purdah. He strove to foster national industries, especially carpet 
making wlrich he restored to a high standard equal to die best 
traditions of the Saffavi period. In fact, he was Iran’s equivalent 
of Kemal Ataturk. But the long, dehberate obscuration, wlrich 
had been the work of the Kajar dynasty and of their alhes, made 
his task far more difficult than Ataturk’s. 

He passionately resented any attempt at interference in the 
internal affairs of his country by any foreign Power. No doubt 
in his dealings with both Britain and Russia he was helped by a 
number of factors; that theFirstWorld War had gravely weakened 
them both; that Britain’s imperiaUst and expansionist ambitions 
and policies had dwindled ahnost to the vanishing point; and 
that Russia, absorbed in the consolidation of the new regime, 
in the Five-Year Plan and the vast tasks of reconstruction alHed 
to it, had no desire, for die moment, to resume the Tsarist policy 
of expansion in Western Asia. 

Therefore, when the Second World War broke out Reza Shah 
sought, as did the rulers of other countries absorbed in tiieir own 

277 



THE MtMOIRS of AGA KHAN 

internal problems, to keep Persia out of the conflict to the end. 
However, man proposes, but God. disposes. 

Until Germany attacked Russia in the summer of 1941, 
neutrality was not impossible for Persia. Thereafter, however, her 
position became increasingly vulnerable as its strategic importance 
grew. Even before the outbreak of war in the Far East and 
America’s full-scale participation in the conflict. United States aid 
to the Aflies was constantly growing in volume, and Lend-Lease 
released a vast source of vital miHtary and other supphes, a propor- 
tion of which it was agreed to divert as soon as possible to Russia. 

Access to Russia by any European route was, however, im- 
possible. The Germans straddled every sea and land route. A 
certain number of ocean convoys were sent by the Arctic route, 
at an enormous sacrifice of British and American lives, and the 
cargo they gave so much to bring was received by the Russians 
grudgingly and without a word of thanks. The Cliiefs of Staff 
were therefore determined to open up a less menaced and less 
costly road through Persia. 

Reza Shah, proudly jealous of his country’s hard-held in- 
dependence, misled by the hitherto placatory attitude which he 
had encountered in both British and Russians, and by the apparent 
depth and magnitude of Germany’s military success, was totally 
unco-operative about offering to the Alhes the facihties for wliich 
they asked. In his view, they imphed the abandonment of Iranian 
neutraUty. 

The Allies at tliis juncture in the war were extremely hard- 
pressed. They could and did, however, assemble a sufEcient show 
of military strength to overpower any Persian chance of effective 
resistance to their demands. A small force, sent from India, entered 
Persia; and I, far away in Switzerland, at once appreciated how 
gravely Reza Shah had jeopardized his own position. Through 
His Majesty’s Consul-General in Geneva I therefore sought the 
Foreign Office’s permission to communicate with him. I had some 
hope that, since our relations had always been very friendly, not 
only at the time of his accession but consistently thereafter, he 
might hsten to my advice. In a long telegram I implored him to 
realize that his tlirone was in danger, and that if he persisted in this 
attitude of non-co-operation liis own abdication would be com- 
pelled and Iran, instead of entering the war as an honoured ally, 

278 



THE WAR VbARS. THji PARtHTUN OP INDIA 


would be foL'ced in as a satellite. Alas, I do not know if my tele- 
gram reached liim soon enough to give him any time to reflect. 
I had had to wait for Foreign Office permission to send it. The 
pace of events in tliis crisis was rapid, and I fear that in all prob- 
abihty my telegram reached him too late, and his abdication had 
by then become inevitable. However, there is some consolation 
in the fact that — as I have subsequently been told by the man who 
was then his Court Minister, wielding great power— -the second 
part of my cable, in which I begged him to come into the war 
on the side of the Allies, did have some effect. Witli the departure 
of the Shah, the people of Iran themselves could speak, the dynasty 
was saved and the present Emperor, Reza Shah’s son, acceded 
peacefully. Reza Shah was sent into exde, first to Mauritius and 
thence to Johannesburg, where very soon afterwards he died — 
doubtless of a broken heart. 

* * * * 

The war years passed. Facihties for communication between 
Switzerland and the outside world were extremely restricted for 
a long time. I was able to send a rare telegram by courtesy of the 
Ambassador on great occasions, such as the substitute Derby, for 
example. Private telegrams to England took a fortnight or longer, 
and were often never received at all. I managed to hear that two 
of my horses had finished second and tliird in the Derby; and I 
also got the news that Tehran, which my son Aly had leased to 
me, was second in the 1944 Derby. Later in 1944, with the libera- 
tion of the greater part of France, news came through much more 
easily, and I heard at once of Tehran’s victory in the St. Leger. 
Throughout the war these interests of mine had been in efficient 
hands; the father of my present agent, Mr. Nesbit Waddington, 
looked after my stud, and all my racing interests were supervised 
by Mr. Frank Butters in Newmarket. Gradually after the war I 
resumed my own day-to-day control of my stud and my race- 
horses in training, and by 1947 the administration of them aU was 
back in my hands. 

Early in 1945 my long seclusion ended. The British Ambassador 
in Paris, Sir Duff Cooper,^ secured special French police protection 
for me; and my wife and I — ^in spite of the fact that a large part of 
1 Later Lord Norwich. 

379 



the MEMOIRS OE AGA x>.HAN 

the countryside was still fairly lawless, with German soldiers at 
large and armed bands marauding — got tlirough to Marseilles 
without mishap. In Marseilles we were for a time the guests of 
the U.S. Army, and of its senior officers there. From Marseilles 
we made our way in a British military aircraft to Cairo. 

Although British G.H.Q. for all the Middle East campaigns 
from 1940 onwards, had been estabhshed in Cairo, and although a 
vast assemblage of British troops was in and around the city, it 
had been hardly scarred by the war. Its social hfe as always was 
diverse, polyglot, and many-sided. At the British Embassy there 
presided the last of the pro-consuls, Lord KiUearn, formerly Sir 
Ivliles Lampson, the man who earUer in his career had been pri- 
marily responsible for the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936. In and 
around the big houses, the hotels, the great new blocks of apart- 
ments in Gezira and the Garden City, a busy and exuberant social 
hfe ebbed and flowed. Anglo-Egyptian relations were in a phase 
of superficial correemess and amiability, overlying an increasing 
tension. 

In Egyptian Court and poHtical circles I had coundess friends 
and acquaintances, including many members of the Royal Family, 
Three at least deserve, in my view, more than passing mention: 
King Farouk, whom I now met for the first time as a grown man; 
his Prime Minister, Nahas Pasha, and his Heir Apparent, Prince 
Mohammed Ah. 

Prince Mohammed Ali and I have been friends for fifty-five 
years. When I first went to London in 1898 he and I stayed at the 
same hotel, the old Albemarle in Piccadilly. He dined at Windsor 
Castle as Queen Victoria’s guest either shordy before or after I 
had the same honour. By a curious and dehghtful coincidence, 
fifty-five years later, in Queen Ehzabeth II’s Coronation Year, 
he and I who had been Queen Victoria’s guests at dinner were in 
the same summer her young great-great-granddaughter’s guests 
at tea. Across this great stretch of time Prince Mohammed Ah 
and I have been firm and fast friends. 

His is a fascinating and many-sided personahty. A younger 
brother of the Khedive, he exerted for long a quiet, soothing but 
very powerful influence, largely behind the scenes, in Egyptian 
life and pohtics. Lie never married, since his view is (it has always 
been said) that his health has not been robust enough for him to 



THE WAR YEARS. TtiJi PARTIlION OF INDIA 

feel justified in founding a family. Yet lus energy and vivacity are 
as great as his spirit is sensitive and his intellect powerful. All his 
life he has been a devout MusUm; he has made the pilgrimage to 
Mecca; he is steeped in Islamic culture. Not long ago he wrote a 
series of pamphlets on Islam, its meaning, and its spiritual message 
for mankind, many copies of wliich he asked me to circulate 
in Europe. He spealcs several languages, ranging from Arabic 
and Turkish, through Enghsh, French, and German and one or 
two more. His detailed historical knowledge of Egypt, whether 
in the time of the Mamelukes or in the era of Iris own great- 
grandfather, the conqueror Mohammed Ah, is truly phenomenal. 
His friends and admirers are legion, not only among his fellow- 
countrymen and co-rehgionists, but in Egypt’s numerous foreign 
colonies and minority communities — British, French, Jews, 
Greeks, and Copts. Outside Egypt he has earned respect through- 
out the Muslim East, in Europe, and in the United States. AU his 
life he has been a great admirer of Britain, and of the British char- 
acter and way of Hfe, and a staunch supporter of Anglo-Egyptian 
friendship and understanding through many vicissitudes and dis- 
appointments. With the end of the monarchy and the cstabUsh- 
nienc of the new regime in Egypt, he went into voluntary exde, 
without bitterness or resentment, wishing Egypt and her people 
under their new rulers continued and increasing prosperity, but 
feehng that he liimself — being far advanced in years — ^lacked the 
strength to contribute his share. His palace, liis famed and beauti- 
ful botanical gardens, and his princely collection of objets A' art he 
has left in trust, to become after his death a nation^ museum. 
Now in a green and tranquil old age he spends his summers in 
Switzerland and his winters on the French or the Italian Riviera. 
Long may he enjoy a peaceful retirement. 

Nahas Pasha I first met when Egypt entered the League of 
Nations; he came to Geneva, and I, as India’s representative, enter- 
tained him. Much of his long-established success as a politician 
was due to his powers of oratory, to the spell of authority which 
he could exert over the masses of his fellow-countrymen; these 
quahties, however, are hardly visible when you first encounter 
him. By an odd irony, while he is likely to be remembered in 
history as a statesman who came into serious conflict with the sove- 
reign whom he served, he is in fact an out-and-out monarchist. 

'*8t 



the memoirs op AGA x^hAN 


Madame Nahas has told me of the depth of the devotion which 
her husband felt for King Farouk, and with that devotion a 
strong conviction that the King would be best served by being 
constantly reminded of the limitations wliich hedged his power 
as a constitutional monarch. Now this is without doubt one of the 
legitimate duties of a Minister; but even in Britain — as Mr. 
Gladstone found in his long but severely formal association with 
Queen Victoria — an adviser who is for ever telling a monarch 
what he or she must not do is hardly hkely to be as popular with 
his sovereign as those who do not take quite so rigid or comfort- 
less a view of their responsibilities. In Nahas Pasha this was not 
merely a superficial trait, but a fundamental principle on which he 
acted resolutely and without deviation. I myself have heard him 
say more than once: “Le roi regne, mais il ne gouverne pas.” 

Doubtless to a young and energetic sovereign like King Farouk 
it must have been hksome to have to accept advice so frequently. 
The King extended to his Prime Minister aU the accustomed 
courtesies — I have often, for example, seen the two of them 
sitting side by side in the Royal Box at the opera — but always one 
felt that behind the polite formalities there was a gulf wliich could 
not be bridged, with the King on his side nourisliing a deep but 
unspoken resentment, and Nalias Pasha, on liis, a regret that his 
loyalty and his devotion were not appreciated. 

And King Farouk liimself? To me as to many others there will 
always, I think, be something enigmatic in this sad yet remarkable 
man’s character. There are many bafSing contradictions about 
him, yet at the back of them all there is great charm and a genuine 
and compelhng simplicity. His father died when he was stih a 
boy. His motlier went abroad almost immediately and the young 
Farouk was deprived of the influence and the love of both parents. 
He was sent to England to be educated; yet he Hved to all intents 
and purposes a prisoner in a vast country house, forbidden to go 
out and about and mingle freely with the people among whom he 
lived, under orders given by his father in the jealous fear that the 
boy might not grow up along the hnes wliich he had laid down. 
He had no proper schooling, never went to a University, and 
spent only a few months attending the Royal Military Academy 
at Woolwich. There can, however, be no doubt as to his natural 
abilities. Like his uncle, Prince Mohammed Ali, he is an excellent 



XHb war years. XHii PARlIilON OF INeHA 

and versatile linguist. But he has, I think, always felt hampered by 
the lack of the education wliich both liis station and his talents 
merited. This may well have developed in him an mferiority 
complex wlrcn he constantly found himself, as he was boimd to 
do, in the company of highly educated as AveU as accomplished 
men ot all nationalities. 

In this unfortunate background lie, I believe, the real reasons for 
the habits wliich have earned liim criticism at home and notoriety 
abroad, for the gambling that has been so harshly reprobated and 
for the long, aimless hours wasted in seeking distraction in cabarets 
and night clubs. That they were wasted it is, alas, impossible to 
deny. Their sad and purposeless vaeuity can however be ex- 
plamed, if not excused, by his lack of discipline in childhood, and 
by the fact that nobody bothered to teach him that a man’s chief 
capital is time, and that if he wastes time he wastes liis greatest 
asset which can never be recouped. 

Against liis defects I prefer to set his good quahdes: liis piety, 
as a good Muslim his aversion from alcohol (and this in spite of 
all that hostile critics have said of him), his courtesy and kindness 
especially to the poor, to humble fell akin and servants; and his 
patriotism and liis pride in liis coiuitry. This last I know to be a 
major trait in his personality. He is an Egyptian from the crown 
of liis head to the soles of his feet; resenting hody any suggestion, 
from any source, that Egypt and the Egyptians are or ever have 
been inferior to any coirntry^ or people in the world; longing to 
recapture his nation’s greatness at the time of Mohammed Ah and 
Ibrahim Pasha; and intensely proud of the far-sighted ideals and 
achievements of liis grandfather, the Kliedive Ismail. 

Each of us, it is said, is composed of many diverse and conflict- 
ing elements; seldom in one human being has the miiighng been 
more complex and more contradictory than in this ill-starred yet 
amiable and talented king. Until late in liis reign, when the worst 
of the damage had already been done, the uncertainties about the 
possibihties of the succession created in and around liis Court an 
unliealthy atmosphere of stealthiness, intrigue, and suspicion. His 
father occupied a throne left vacant because his cousin, the 
Khedive Abbas Hilmi, had been barred from it, and because the 
other obvious claimant, the Sultan Hosein’s eldest son, was not 
considered suitable by the Protecting Powers. He himself was an 

28'? 



I'i-iU M±;MOIi\S Ot* AGA j;i.HAN 


only son; until his second marriage, he had no son. There was a 
guarded uneashiess about the safety of Iris person, wliich in its 
way was just as msidious as direct and open fear of assassination. 

His contests with his Muristers were protracted and stubborn. 
Heliimself beheved, as Iris father had done before him, that Egypt’s 
prime need was for firm and authoritative rule and guidance 
from the King. The Wafd, by far the biggest and most mfluential 
pohtical party, strongly nationaHst in sentiment but representa- 
tive of big vested capitalist and industriahst interests, wanted to 
make liim a rubber-stamp sovereign. They came into conflict 
again and again on numerous issues. There grew up as the King’s 
instrument, or instruments, a group of pohtici.ans who looked to 
the King for their power and their promotion. At the times when 
the King and the Wafd could not get along together, it was one 
or another from this group, the Kiing’s Free Political Party — as it 
was known — who would be called in to form a government 
which would last until the next major crises. In the Army too, it 
was said, the ICing used the same tactics, giving his favourites 
promotion, and thus incurring the unforgiving resentment of the 
oiiicer class. 

The Wafd’s last sweeping electoral victory brought Nahas and 
his friends back mto office, when die last possible permutation of 
politicians had been shuffled together against them and had failed. 
The King was deeply discouraged and took refuge in a sad and 
shoulder-shrugging pessimism. I met liim on Iris last visit to 
Europe before his abdication, and I was immediately aware of a 
great change in him. He was enveloped in a mood of depressed 
fatahsm, an atmosphere of “I camiot do what I wish — ^very well, 
let them do what they want,” which in the long run was bound to 
contribute to his defeat and downfall. Fie had tried in his own 
way to help Iris people and improve their lot, and now he felt 
that he had failed. I was strongly reminded of Ahmed Shah, the 
last of the Kajar dynasty in Iran. King Farouk, like Aluned Shah, 
had embraced a profound and defeatist resignation and had lost 
faith in his power to fulfil his duties and serve his people. Like the 
House of Kajar, the dynasty established by Mohammed Ali fell; 
and in both countries the power passed, not to the politicians, but 
to the military. 

There is a forlorn sadness about King Farouk now. Unlike his 

284 



THE WAK ii;A:RS. THE PARTITION OP INDIA 

uncle and former heir, Prince Mohammed Ah, he must in the 
course of nature face a long life. What are to be his occupations? 
Where and how will he be able to build for liimself a new exist- 
ence in which he can find some self-respect and some usefulness to 
his fellow men? At present it is most distressing to sec him on liis 
course from European city to European city, rootless and without 
purpose; and the distress is sharpened by the knowledge that lie 
had it in him — if he had had proper guidance in his youth — to be 
a good and patriotic — perhaps a great — King of Egypt. 

*■*■*** 

The sixtieth amiiversary of my inlicriting my Imamat, and 
ascending the ^adi, fell in 1945. But in the troubled conditions at 
the end of the Second World War it was neitlier possible nor 
suitable to arrange any elaborate celebrations of my Diamond 
Jubilee. We decided to have two ceremonies; one, includmg the 
weighing against diamonds, in Bombay in March 1946: and 
another five months later, in Dar-es-Salaam, using the same 
diamonds. 

When the time was reached world conditions were only just 
beginning to improve, and travel hardly less difficult than it had 
been in the last month of the war. However, a magnificently 
representative assemblage of my followers gathered for a wonder- 
ful and — to me at least — quite unforgettable occasion. There were 
Ismaihs present from all over the Near and Middle East; from 
Central Asia and China; from Syria and Egypt; and from Burma 
and Malaya; as well as thousands of my Indian followers. Many of 
the ruhng princes of India honoured me with their presence, as 
did senior British officials in this stormy twfiight of the Raj. 
Telegrams and letters of congratulation showered in on me from 
all over the Islamic world, from the heads of all tlie independent 
Muslun nations, and from the Viceroy. I was a proud and happy 
man to be thus reunited with those for whom across the years my 
affection and my responsibility have been so deep and so constant. 

I hope and beheve that tliis ceremony, in its timing and setting, 
was in itself a completely effective refutation of a mischievous and 
trouble-making but minor story which has recendy been put in 
circulation. Some busybodies have ferreted out the fact that in the 
193 os I approached the Government of India and suggested that I 

38 s 



l±lE MtMUlRS Of AOA ivHAN 


might be given a territorial State and join the company of ruling 
princes. From the refusal of tliis request they have drawn the quite 
erroneous and absurd conclusion that I was offended, and that in 
resentment I abandoned all the principles and ideals wliich I had 
cherished throughout my hfe. Nothing could be further from the 
trutli. 

Tliis is what really happened: it had long been felt among the 
Ismaih commitnity that it would be desirable to possess a national 
home — ^not a big, powerful State, but something on the lines of 
Tangier or the Vatican — a scrap of earth of their own wliich all 
Ismadis, all over the world, could call theirs in perpetuity, where 
they could practise aU their customs, estabhsh their own laws, and 
(on the material side) build up their own financial centre, with its 
own banks, investment trusts, insurance schemes, and welfare and 
provident arrangements. The idea of a territorial State made no 
particular appeal to me; but in view of the strength of Ismaih 
sentiment on the matter I made my approach to the Government 
of India. For reasons which I am sure were perfectly just and fair, 
the Government of India could not see their way to granting our 
request. The idea that they disapproved of me for having made it, 
or that I was hurt and disappointed by their refusal, is fantastic. 

So far as I was concerned, the practical proof of this surely lay 
in the support, financial as well as in every other way open to me, 
that I gave to Britain’s war effort from 1939 onwards; every 
penny that I could save or raise in London was invested in various 
war loans; and I know that neither the Bank of England nor the 
Treasury was unaware of the extent of such help as I was able to 
give. 

So far as Britaui and the British authorities in India were con- 
cerned, their help, their kindness, and their consideration at the 
time of my Diamond Jubilee were mistinted. I am certain that we 
could never have held the celebrations at all if it had not been for 
the assistance and interest of Sir Stafford Cripps, then Chancellor 
of the Exchequer. AU the authorities, from the ChanceUor down, 
gave us every possible facUity for the transport of the diamonds 
. — accompanied as it had to be with vigilant security precautions 
— first to India and then from India to Africa. The Viceroy’s 
personal message of congratulation was notable among the hun- 
dreds that I received, and it was exactly the same story a few 

-86 



THE WAR YRARS. irtE PARTITION OF INDIA 

mouths later in East Africa. There the weighing' ceremony was 
honoured by the presence of the Resident of Zanzibar, the 
Governors ot Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda, and no less im- 
portant a person than the Secretary ot State for the Colonies, Mr. 
Crccch-Joncs, himsclt; and the whole time that I was in Africa 
I was most hospitably and graciously received and entertained by 
the Governors and by all senior British officials with whom I came 
in contact. I trust that this disposes of a canard. 

To the celebrations in India there was an extremely serious side. 
An amomit equal to the value of the diamonds — more than half 
a milhon potmds — had been collected and was offered to me as an 
unconditional gift. I wanted this enormous amount to be used for 
the welfare of the Ismadi community throughout what was then 
undivided India. The specific scheme which I had m mind was a 
trust, along the lines which Ismaihs have built up in Africa, of 
wliich I have already given some account, wliich is in essence not 
unlike the Friendly Societies that have made so valuable a con- 
tribution to British life. I hold that for a trading and agricultural 
community such as the great majority of IsmaiHs are, an organiza- 
tion of this character, combining welfare with prudent financial 
ad-vice, assistance, loans, mortgages, and so forth, is much more 
important and much more suitable than an ordinary charity fund. 

However, other opinions prevailed in India, I — ^liaving handed 
back the money, with my advice as to its disposal, to the repre- 
sentatives of those who had subscribed it — did not hke to use my 
audiority as Imam to make my advice mandatory. It was decided 
to set up a conventional charitable trust — a decision, I must 
emphasize, in wliich I had no share and no responsibihty — and 
there was the outcome which I had feared and foreseen, for it is 
not unfamiliar in the East. Before the trust could get into its 
stride there was protracted and disastrously costly Utigation be- 
tween various parties among the Ismailis in Bombay. I still hope, 
however, that when the suits are settled at least half the original 
sum subscribed will not have been spent on costs and will be 
available for charity among the Ismaihs. 

I myself have sometimes been criticized for not supporting and 
encouragmg orduiary charities on a large scale — ^Iiospitals and dis- 
pensaries, schools and scholarships, and the usual run of charitable 
institutions and organizations. I am convmced that the Ismaih 

287 



J.JtlE MEMOlUS Or AGA jcvHAN 


commmiities compose a special case. Many Ismailis are traders and 
middlemen; others are yeomen farmers, of the order of society 
known in Russian history as kulaks. Theirs is an intensely in- 
dividuahst outlook, acquired and fostered over many centuries. 
Welfare imposed from without is not in the pattern of their 
society. I am convinced that their first need is to learn to co- 
operate in their thrift and self-help, to extend what they practise 
hi their families and as individuals to the community as a whole. 
Tliis wdl not be acliieved by the ordmary so-called charitable and 
welfare systems that arc part of the fabric of existence in many 
European countries. Co-operation in banking and commerce, in 
the raising and lendmg of money, m building and in farming, is 
— I sincerely behevc — their path towards economic, social, and 
cultural uphft, towards that better life for themselves and for dieir 
cliildrcn wliich their talents and their virtues can secure. 

The fotuidations have been well and truly laid in British East 
Africa and in Madagascar, and it is my earnest hope that by i960 
at least we shall have reached fruition m what I may call niy 
worldly and material effort on behalf of my followers. In Egypt 
and Syria, in Paldstan, India, Malaya, and Portuguese East Africa 
the task will be more difEcitlt. I am still at it, however, and my 
Plathium Jubilee — celebrated in 1954-5 — offers in my opinion a 
superb opportunity to repeat in these areas the efforts wliich we 
have so successfully inaugurated in British East Africa. 

•k -k -k -k 

India in 1946 demonstrated every symptom — ^in a critical and 
advanced stage — of that malady whose course it had been possible 
to foresee from the day of the promulgation of the Montagu- 
Chehnsford reforms almost thirty years earher. 

That sense of spiritual unity and of continuity, which in my 
youth and long before had sustained British rule in India and had 
given it its moral fibre and backbone as well as its outward 
manifestations of efficiency and thoroughness, was now finally 
sapped. That almost scliizophrenic contradiction, which from 
1917 onwards had eaten into the solidity and firmness of Britain s 
moral and practical position in India, was now exacting its in- 
evitable and final toD. “Quit India”, those two words so often, 
chalked on walls in Calcutta, in Delhi and Bombay and every 



iHB WAR ilAkS. iJUii PARliriON OF INOIA 


Other big city, were no longer an agitator’s scrawl; they now 
expressed a desire and mtention. The British were going from 
hidia. Now the chief problem was of the rate of departure — fast 
or slow. The only questions were when and how. Only a handful 
of Enghshmen — well under 2,000 in all — were now left in the 
Erdian Civil Service; but power was still concentrated in their 
hands; and so long as they were responsible not to the people of 
India but to the Parhament and people of the United ICngdom, 
India was not free and self-governing. 

The Second World War affected India far more closely and far 
more profoundly than its predecessor. The whole of South-east 
Asia, including Burma, fell to Japanese conquest in the first six 
months of 1942; the tide of invasion lapped at India’s borders; and 
Japanese bombers appeared — with remarkably httle effect — over 
Calcutta. India raised and sent into battle on the AUied side forces 
numbering some two million, the largest volunteer army in liis- 
tory. The curious and false British theory about the martial and 
non-mardal races of hidia broke down utterly, and men from 
many regions in Bengal and the south served gallantly in com- 
batant units. In the Middle East, East Africa, and Italy, Indian 
divisions were for years an hitegral part of the fighting forces of 
Britain and the Commonwealth. The enormous value of their 
contribution to ultimate victory, from the Battle of Keren to 
Marshal Kesselring’s final withdrawal in Northern Italy four years 
later, is written imperishably into the mihtary history of the war. 
Indian officers, holding the King’s commission, had demonstrated 
agahi and again their gallantry, tlieir sagacity, their leadership, and 
their capacity to exercise liigh command, hi the later phases of 
the war India was the essential base for the South-east Asian cam- 
paigns of 1944-5, under Lord Mouiitbatten’s supreme command, 
wliich drove the Japanese in disastrous retreat doivn tlie length of 
Burma and were a major contributory factor in Japan’s ultimate 
defeat. 

Yet in the whole conduct and strategy of the war India, as 
India, had no say at aU. Many of her most distinguished pohtical 
leaders languished long years in political detention. At the height 
of the war, in the spring of 1942, Six Stafford Cripps headed a 
British mission to India to try to work out — against the back- 
groimd of the titanic problems of the time — a feasible scheme for 

280 



THE MJdMOIRS OF AGA KUAN 


realizing India’s aspirations. The Cripps Mission failed, breaking 
itself against the harshest rock of all — the fact that, wliUe British 
and Hindu representatives ahke hoped to preserve the unity of the 
subcontinent {not least so far as the British were concerned, in the 
conditions of 1942, the unity of tire Indian Defence Forces) the 
price of achieving that unity was one wliich no Muslim could 
accept, and Muslim ophrion by now had consoHdated itself 
formidably under the leadersirip ofMr. M. A. Jinnalr, the Quaid-i- 
Azam. He made it perfectly clear to Cripps that no constitution 
for a united India which did not satisfy nearly a hundred inilhon 
Mushms would be accepted, and that their opposition to it would 
be broken only by kiUing them; when they said “Death or 
Freedom” that was what they meant. 

After the failure of the Cripps Mission there followed more than 
three years of poKtical stalemate. The Bengal famine of 1943 
revealed how slender and how fragile were the bases of India’s 
economy. Lord Linhthgow was succeeded as Viceroy by Field- 
Marshal Lord Wavell. With the end of the war the poHtical 
temperature soared swiftly aU over India. Throughout the whole 
of Asia there was a surging tide of nationalist sentiment, an eager 
and insistent desire to throw off the shackles of colonialism. Japan’s 
conquests, however detestable many of their iruhtary and social 
effects, had achieved one momentous result: they had demon- 
strated, to nrilhons all over South-east Asia, that their European 
masters were far from invincible. Millions had seen an Asiatic nation 
challenge and hold at bay for more than three years — in a huge 
area extending from Korea to New Guinea and from the Assam 
border to the Central Pacific — the combined might of the United 
States, Britain and die Commonwealth, France, and Holland. 
The lesson was too glaring and too emphatic to be missed. 

In India there was no talk now of a five- or ten-year period of 
transition. The struggle would be real, immediate, and bloody 
unless self-goverrmient were granted, not in the future and on 
terms laid down by Britain, but at once and on conditions largely 
imposed by the people of India themselves. The most obvious 
symptom of the depth and magnitude of tins feehng, visible to 
someone like myself retmiiing after years abroad, was the hostihty 
that had developed, not simply to Britahi’s pohtical suzerahity, 
but to everything British — to the English language, to English 



IWE WAR ijjARS. Ttia PARilTlON OF INDIA 


habits and customs, to pipes and whisky-and-soda, to European 
suits and collars and ties, so that even Indians who had adopted 
these habits were in some areas in real danger. As the saying goes, 
this brought the situation home to one. 

Britain, for her part, had no longer either the desire or the 
capacity to hold India against her will. Vastly weakened by the 
long strain of the war, her overseas investments expended, Britain, 
once the creditor nation of the world, seemed now to be in almost 
everyone’s debt. Victory had been secured, but at the price of 
world leadership lost. At home her people faced a long period of 
economic stringency, of shortages, austerity, and rationing; and 
even before the end of the Far Eastern conflict the Coahtion 
Government, wliich had led the nation to victory, had broken up, 
and the Labour Party had — for the first time in its history — 
attained power with a big Parliamentary majority. Mr. Attlee, 
the new Prime Minister, had taken a close interest in India’s prob- 
lems since his membership of the Simon Commission fifteen or 
sixteen years earlier. In addition to its programme of social and 
economic reform at home, the Labour Party had pledged itself to 
end British imperialism overseas wherever it was able to do so. 
Independence for India had been one of the main planks in its 
platform for years. Where the wartime Coahtion Government 
had faded, its successor, in the flush of vigorous optimism of its 
earher years of office was determined to succeed. A Cabinet 
Mission, headed by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the Secretary of 
State for India, and Mr. A. V. Alexander,^ die Minister of Defence, 
set out for Dellii, to consult with the Viceroy, the Commander-in- 
Chief, and die Lidian poUtical leaders, on the way in which power 
should be transferred. 

The pohtical leaders, with whom ultimately decision and autho- 
rity rested, were four in number; on the Congress-Hindu side, 
Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Nehru, and Sardar Patel; on the MusUm 
side, Mr. Jiimah — the Quaid-i-Azam. On their agreement or dis- 
agreement, translated into economic and political facts, depended 
the future of the subcontinent. 

The Quaid-i-Azam’s brilliant and epoch-making career, so 
untimely ended, reached its summit in these momentous years of 
1946 and 1947. Now he belongs to history; and his memory, I 
^ Now Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. 

20 1 



iaE MEMOinS OP AGA ±^JdAN 

am certain, is imperishable. Of all the statesmen that I have known 
in my life — Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Churchill, Curzon, 
Mussolini, Mahatma Gandhi— Jinnah is the most remarkable. 
None of these men in my view outshone him in strength of char- 
acter, and in that almost uncanny combination of prescience and 
resolution wliich is statecraft. It may be argued that he was luckier 
than some — far luckier for example, than Mussolini, who perished 
miserably in utter failure and disgrace. But was Jinnah’s success all 
good luck, and was Mussolini’s failure all bad luck? What about 
the factors of good and bad judgment? 

I knew Jitmah for years, from the time he came back from 
England to Bombay to build up his legal practice there, until his 
death. Mussolini, I met once only; and a memorable occasion it 
was — an afternoon in his box at die race course m Rome, when he 
harangued me for the best part of three hours, in very good 
Enghsh, and curiously, for oae who was such a “loudspeaker” in 
pubhc, in a soft and gende voice, but never once looking at the 
races or the people in the stands or on the course, and never 
allowing me either to watch a race or open ray mouth to argue 
with hnn. Yet between these two I detect one important similarity. 

Each of them between his youth and liis prime, travelled from 
one pole of political opinion to the other. Mussolini made his 
pilgrimage from a Sociahsm that was near-Communism to the 
creation of Fascism, from Marx to Nietzsche and Sorel. Jinnah in 
his earher phases was the strongest supporter, among all Muslim 
political leaders, of Indian nationalism along Congress lines, with 
as its goal a unified Indian state; yet, he, in the final analysis, was 
the man primarily responsible for die partition of the Indian 
Empire into the separate states of Pakistan and Bharat. He who 
had so long championed Indian unity was the man who, in full 
accordance with international law, cut every possible link between 
India’s two halves, and — in the teeth of bitter British opposition — 
divided the Indian Army. 

Different in many superficial characteristics, different (above all) 
in the success wliich attended the one and the failure the other, 
these two, Mussolini and Jinnah, both apparently inconsistent in 
many things, shared one impressive, lifelong quality of con- 
sistency. Each had one guiding light; whatever the policy, what- 
ever the political philosophy underlying it, it would be successful 

202 



iJri;; WAR ihARS. THE PARTITION OF INDIA 


and it would be morally justified, so long as he was at the head of 
it and dkecting it. In neither of them can this be dismissed as mere 
ambition; each had a profound and unshakable conviction that he 
was superior to other men, and that if the conduct of affairs were 
in his hands, and the last word on all matters his, everythmg 
would be all right, regardless of any abstract theory (or lack of it) 
behind pohtical action. 

This belief was not pretentious conceit; it was not self-glorifica- 
tion or shallow vanity. In each man its root was an absolute 
certainty of his own merit, an absolute certainty that, being 
endowed with greater wisdom dian others, he owed it to his 
people, mdeed to all mankind, to be free to do what he thought 
best on others’ behalf. Was this not the same sort of supremely 
confident faith wliich guided and upheld the prophets of Israel 
and reformers like Luther and Calvin? In our epoch we have seen 
at least two other men who were animated by the same dynamic 
faith which shakes the nations, and each — one for good and one 
for terrible evil — was conscious of a cause outside himself: Hitler 
who dreamed of a German-imposed New Order that was to last 
a thousand years; and Maliatma Gandhi whose vision was of an 
India whose society, economy, and whole hfe would be based on 
certain pacifist, moral principles, the objective existence of which 
meant much more to the Mahatma than anything in himself. 
Britain’s two leaders in the two World Wars were also men 
sustained by an irresistible and buoyant self-confidence, but both 
Lloyd George and Churchill were incapable of transgressing the 
Hmitations on the exercise of executive authority which are set 
by British life, and by British civic, parliamentary, ethical, and 
rehgious traditions and beliefs. 

In the view of both Mussolini and Jinnah, opposition was not an 
opinion to be conciliated by compromise or negotiation; it was a 
challenge to be obliterated by their superior strength and sagacity. 
Each seemed opportunist, because his self-confidence and his 
inflexible will made him believe, at every new turn he took, that 
he alone was right and supremely right. Neither bothered to con- 
fide in others or to be explicit. 

Mussohni travelled the long road from Marxism not because of 
doctrinal doubts and disagreements, but because, in tlae world of 
Socialist pohticians and theorists in wliich he spent his stormy 

2Q1 



THE MEMOIRS or AGA jvHAN 


youth as an exile in Lausanne, doctrines and theories were con- 
stant obstacles across the only path of practical acliievement wliich 
mattered to him — practical achievement hi wliich Benito Musso- 
Ihii was the leader. When Fascism first emerged as a pohtical force 
in Italy nobody knew what it was, nobody could define its 
prhiciples or its programme, for it had none. MussoHiii simply 
said: “Let us have a Party, let us call it Fascist” — which meant 
anything or nothing. The Party’s only prhiciple, its sole duty, was 
to do what its leader told it to do. And its leader beUeved im- 
phcitly — and went on so beheving for a long time — that every- 
thmg the Party did would be excellent, because everything was 
conceived and executed by Mussohni. 

Jhmah throughout his career displayed a similar characteristic. 
He would admit no superior to liimself in intellect, authority, or 
moral stature. He knew no Hmitations of theory or doctrine. The 
determined and able young barrister, who — against aU the omens, 
witliout influence, and without inherited wealth — triumphed 
within a few years despite entrenched opposition, became an 
Indian nationalist when he turned to poHtics. He joined Congress 
because he, Hke the Congress poHticians, wanted to hberatc India 
from British colonial and imperialist domination, and because he 
believed that he himself could do it if he had a free hand. 

Yet in association with Congress Jinnah was a fish out of water. 
He worked to be the champion of Indian hberty, but liis ideas of 
championship differed sharply from those of Congress’s other 
leaders. He came back and rejoined those to whom he was Hnked 
by ties of race and reHgion. Nominally in the Muslim League of 
those days he was one leader among others, but he was unable to 
impose his beliefs and his poHcy, for the general tenor of MusHm 
thought ran strongly contrary to the convictions wliich he had 
held when he was in the Congress camp. He had worked hard and 
energetically for Congress; but, from his point of view, he was 
dogged by failure after failure. There was too deep a gulf between 
his concept of the duties and responsibflities of a pohtical leader in 
a free society and those of the people with whom he worked. The 
instmments which he took tip broke every time in his hands, 
because it was impossible to reconcile pohey as he conceived it 
with pohey hammered out by compromise and negotiation in the 
committees and the councils of which he found liimself a member. 

204 



THE WAR YEARS. THE PARTITION OP INDIA 

He met barrier after barrier and his frustration and liis dissatisfac- 
tion deepened. His “point of no return” was, of course, the 
critical Congress meeting in Calcutta in December 1928, domin- 
ated by the Nehrus, father and son. His disillusionment and dis- 
appointment there led him to the conviction that Muslims had no 
chance of fair and equitable treatment in a United bidia. 

I here reaffirm that at die Round Table Conferences Jimiah 
played a loyal and honourable part throughout, as a member of 
the Muslim delegation. His work there, however, had not shaken 
his faith in his own means to liis own end. The Muslims’ sense of 
their own political needs and aspirations had been fortified and 
developed by years of discussion and negotiation with British 
officials and Congress representatives, and the MusUins very 
rightly followed and gave their full confidence to Jimiah. 

In an era in which “no compromise” was coming to be the 
mood of something like a hundred rrulhon Muslims, Jinnah, the 
man who did not know the meaning of the word “compromise”, 
was there to seize — ^not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of 
those whom he was destined to lead — die chance of a lifetime, 
the chance perhaps of centuries. He embodied, as no one else 
could do , the beliefs and sentiments of the overwhelming majority 
of MusHms all over India. 

Boldly, therefore, he came out and said: “We want a Muslim 
party. We want a unified Mushm organization, every member of 
which is ready to lay down his life for the sundval of his race, his 
faith and his civiHzation.” 

But what programme this organization should have, what 
specific and detailed proposals it should lay before its supporters, 
how its campaign shoidd be timed and what form it should take 
he would never say. What he intended, though he never said so 
publicly, was that aJl tliese matters he reserved for his own decision 
when the time came — or rather, when he thought the lime came. 

The Muslim League, as it emerged under Jinnah’s leadersliip, 
was an organization whose members were pledged to instant 
resistance — to the point of death, — ^if Indian independence came 
about without full and proper safeguards for Muslim individu- 
ahty or unity, or without due regard for all the differences 
between Islamic culture, society, faith, and civiUzation and their 
Hindu counterparts. 



iJiE MEMOIKS OF AGA jvUAN 

Jinnali gave always the same order to his MusUm followers: 
“Organize yourselves on the lines I have laid down. Follow me, 
be ready — if need be — to die at the supreme moment. And I will 
tell you when the time comes.” 

A few intellectuals who could not sustain tliis unwavering faith 
in Jinnah fell away, and their criticisms of him were a reiteration 
of the cry, “What, how, where, and when?” 

I myself am convinced that even as late as 1946 Jinnah had no 
clear and final idea of his goal, no awareness that he would, 
witliin a twelvemonth, be the founder of a new nation, a Muslim 
Great Power such as the world has not seen for centuries. Neither 
he nor anyone else could have imagined that fate was to put so 
magnificent, so incredible an opportunity into his hands as that 
which occurred in the crucial phases of the negotiations with the 
British Cabinet Mission, and gave liim the initiative when Lord 
Moimtbatten arrived. Pakistan was bom; a new nation, with the 
fifth largest population in the world, of whom tiinety per cent are 
MusHms. And it was the creation of an organization which had 
only one guiding principle: “Follow the leader.” 

Jinnah, as I shall shortly relate, made the right choice at 
the right moment. How different might Mussolini’s end have 
been, had he, when the supreme moment came, chosen right in- 
stead of wrong. For him there waited a criminal’s end, humili- 
ation and ignominy. Jiimah on die other hand attained immortal 
fame as the man who, without an army, navy, or air force, 
created, by a hfetime’s faith in himself crystallized into a single 
bold decision, a great empire of upwards of a hmidred million 
people. 

★ * * * * 

when I reached India in 1946 these mighty events were in train. 
However, while the principle of conceding to India immediate 
and total independence had now won universal acceptance in 
Britain, there still remained the great questions: was it to be a 
united India, with a single army, navy, and air force, or was the 
subcontinent to be divided, and how complete was the division to 
be? There was still a faint hope, too, that some sort of understand- 
ing might yet be possible between the Muslim League and Con- 
gress, or — ^in terms of personalities — ^between the Quaid-i-Azam 

296 



THE WAR ^EARS. iHE PARTITION OF INDIA 

and the Mahatma. In such an understanding lay, of course, the 
answers to the questions which I have just enumerated. 

The Chaircellor of the Chamber of Princes, my old and dear 
friend, the Nawab of Bhopal, went with me to see Mahatma 
Gandhi, to explore the possibilities of reaching an understanding. 
There were also one or two other outstanding problems to discuss: 
for the Nawab, the future of the ruling princes and their States in 
a free India; for myself, the question of the Indian community in 
South Africa, In our two long conversations with him (the second 
of which terminated with the Malaatma’s remarks on Com- 
munism wliich I have quoted elsewhere) we came to the con- 
clusion that there was no hope of a settlement between him and 
Jinnah. The Mahatma still firmly beheved in a uni-national India; 
Jiimah even more firmly held that there were two nations. I 
pointed out to the Maliatma diat, having accepted the prmciple of 
tlic separation of Burma from India, he ought really to see that 
there was no reason why the MusHm lands of the North-west and 
the North-east should not be similarly separated, since they — like 
Burma — had only become part of a United India as a result of 
British conquest, and therefore the idea of their union with the 
rest of India was artificial and transient. However, I made no 
impression on the Mahatma; and I went away, leaving Bhopal to 
tackle the problem of the princes. 

From Poona I went to New Delhi. I had conversations both 
with the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, and the Commander-in-Cltief, 
Sir Claude Auchinleck. Both were fuUy convinced of the justice, 
as well as the necessity, of conceding Indian independence at once. 
Both, however, held firmly to the idea of Indian unity, doubtless 
because the mifitary facts meant, in the end, more to them than the 
pohtical facts. And the major military fact of 1946, in the vast 
region extending from the Persian Gulf to Java and Sumatra, 
was the existence of the Indian defence forces, above aU of the 
Indian Army. It happened that both Lord WaveU and General 
Auchinleck ^ had had a great part, as Commanders-in-Chief in 
succession to — ^indeed in alternation with — each other, in building 
up the Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, and the Indian Air 
Force, to their magnificent and powerful condition at the end of 
the Second World War. They were especially aware of the value 
^ Now Field-Marshal, 

297 



riiij MEMOIRS UP AGA j^HAN 


to Britain and the Commonwealth, to the Western Allies, and to 
the United Nations, of the continued and unified existence of these 
superbly disciplined and well-equipped forces. They appreciated, 
too, the dangers that would loom if the Indian Army were 
divided. Not merely might the two armies of the successor-States 
watch each other across the frontier with jealousy and suspicion, 
but a perilous strategic vacuum would be created in a huge and 
important part of the world’s surface. They endeavoured, there- 
fore, to find some solution which would preserve unimpaired the 
unity of the Indian Army. That they failed, and that aU who strove 
with the same end in view failed, is a measure of the magnitude 
and resolution of the Muslims’ determination, against every argu- 
ment however powerful, every obstacle however stubborn, to 
achieve their just rights and full pohtical, rehgious, and cultural 
independence and sovereignty. 

***** 

My Diamond Jubilee celebrations accomplished, I returned to 
Europe. Physically, however, I was now in poor shape; my health 
broke down badly and put me out of action for many months. 
The successful operation carried out in Paris by Professor Francois 
de Gaudard d’Ahaincs reUeved me of at least one cause of great 
anxiety; but it was many months before I was even partially able 
to resume my ordinary activities. 

Meanwhile 1947 was India’s year of destmy. The British 
Cabinet Mission made what turned out to be Britain’s final offer 
and final proposal for a unified India. It was ingenious and — had 
unity on any terms been possible — ^it was constructive. It was a 
three-tiered constitution, combining the highest possible degree 
of sovereignty in the three great regions mto which British India 
would have been divided — ^the North-west and North-eastern 
areas predominantly Hindu — ^with an extremely limited concen- 
tration of essential power at the centre, covering foreign affairs, 
defence, and major communications. 

Now Jinnah saw his chance and took it resolutely and 
unerringly. He announced his luiconditional acceptance of the 
British scheme. In that one decision, combining as it did sagacity, 
shrewdness, and unequalled political/flir, he justified — I am con- 
vinced — my claim that he was the most remarkable of all the 

2Q8 



THE WAR o-iiARS. IHE PARTITION OF INDIA 


great statesmen that I have known. It puts liini on a level with 
Bismarck. 

At tills critical juncture when Jmnah stood rocklikc, the 
Congress leaders wavered. With mcredible folly they rejected 
the British proposals; or rather they put forward dubious 
and equivocal alternative suggestions, which so watered die 
scheme down that it would have lost its meaning and effec- 


tiveness. 

However in Britain, as more than once at high moments in her 
history, there was found statesmanship of the highest quality to 
respond to Jhmah’s statesmansliip. Mr. Attlee had from the outset 
closely interested himself in the efforts to achieve a solution of 
India’s problems. Now with a boldness almost equallmg Jinnah’s 
own he accepted the basic principles for which we Muslims had 
striven so long. The long-ignored yet fundamental difference 
bctw'ecn the two Indias was recognized, and the recognition acted 
upon, quickly and resolutely. It was decided that India should be 
partitioned. One swift stroke of the pen, and two different but 
great nations were bom. Lord Wavell, who had borne the heat of 
the day with modesty and magnanimity, resigned. The brilliant, 
still youthful, energetic, and supremely self-confident Lord 
Mountbatten of Burma was appointed to succeed him, with a 
clear directive to accomplish, within a strictly limited period of 
time, the end of British nile and responsibility in India and the 
handing over of authority to the two successor-States of Pakistan 
and Bharat. 

Lord Mountbatten himself shortened the period of demission 
and devolution. The I5tli of August 1947 was set as the date for 
the final and total transference of power. On every senior official’s 
desk in New Dellii and Simla die calendars stood, in those last 
months, with the fateful day warningly marked. And on that day 
power was transferred; the two new nations took over the func- 
tions of government, and stood forth as independent, sovereign 
members of the Commonwealth. 

The birth pangs which accompanied tliis tremendous process 
were, some of them, grim and painful. On these it is not my 
desire nor my purpose to dwell, nor on some of the consequent 
inevitable problems. About one great and far-reaclihig effect of 
die British withdrawal, however, I must make some comment 


299 



THE MEMOIitS UP AGA ii.HAN 


Rapid and virtually unconditional as the transference of power 
was, it left one major problem, one bad debt for Britain, for 
Bharat, and — in a smaller degree — for Pakistan. Although the 
whole subcontinent of India, from the Northwest Frontier to 
Cape Comorin, used to be coloured red in any ordinary Httlc 
atlas, by no means the whole of this vast area was in fact British. 
Dotted about it were scores and scores of independent and indi- 
vidual States, governed by hereditary ruling princes, ranging in 
size from big countries like Kashmir, Hyderabad, or Travancore, 
to a few square miles and a township. 

With the consolidation of the British Raj the relations of these 
States with it had been settled by treaty, under which Britain, as 
the Paramount Power, guaranteed their independent and auto- 
nomous status. An elaborate and carefully constructed protocol 
had been worked out between die princes and the Raj. In the long 
and splendid reign of Queen Victoria and in its aftermath in the 
opening years of tliis century, these complex and delicate arrange- 
ments had their own fittingness. In Britain and in India alike, a 
century ago, society was hierarchic. In the view of generations of 
able British administrators in India, the Princely Order corres- 
ponded not inexactly with the higher nobihty in Britain. If in 
Britain the landoivning and titled aristocracy had learned that 
their privileges and their possessions conferred on them special 
duties and responsibilities a similar lesson and the practice that 
flowed from it were not impossible in India. Democracy on a 
basis of universal suf&age was only beginning to develop in 
Britain in those days; in India it was hardly the ghinmer of a 
distant dream. In the vigorous moral climate of Victorian opinion, 
who could seem better suited to bear responsibility than those 
who were by inheritance endowed with privilege and power? In 
the high noon of Victorian hberaiism, therefore, the relations 
between British officials and administrators and the Princely Order 
stood on a comprehensible and healthy foundation, and had about 
them much that was good and valuable. 

Now that the whole remarkable phenomenon — ^illogical and 
anachronistic as it appeared in its later years — has vanished, and is 
a part of liistory, it is both agreeable and salutary to recall some 
of its best facets, and some of its greater personalities. In my youth 
I was inevitably brought into contact with many ruling princes, 

300 



THE WAR ViAKS, TIlE PARTITION OF INDIA 

and several of them — over and above those whose names have 
occurred from time to time m this narrative — became my lifelong 
friends. 

The most eminent by far was the Maharajah Gaekwar of 
Baroda. I first met him in my earliest childhood, when my father 
was still alive; and during my adolescence I saw him whenever 
he came to Bombay. When I reached manhood we formed a 
friendship wliich lasted until liis death, and was extended to 
his remarkable and talented Maharaiii, who, happily, is stiU 
ahve.^ 

He possessed a sturdy independence of character, and the aware- 
ness that the honour and the dignity which he had inherited were 
not only his own personal right but were attributes indissociable 
from the race and nation to which he belonged. For him 
India always came first. Neither family nor class nor creed 
mattered more than this simple, spontaneous, and all-embracing 
loyalty. 

A httlc over forty-five years ago, in the summer of 1908, he 
and I were the guests of the then Governor of Bombay, Sir 
George Clark, in Poona. One night, when everyone else had gone 
to bed, the Maharajah and I sat up talking to a very late hour. I 
have die clearest recollection of all that he said. 

“British rule in India,” he said, “will never be ended merely by 
the struggle of the Indian people. But world conditions are bound 
to change so fundamentally that notliing will then be able to 
prevent its total disappearance.” 

Then he added sometliing very striking, “The first diing you’ll 
have to do when the English are gone, is to get rid of all these 
rubbishy States. I tell you, there’ll never be an Indian nation until 
tills so-called Princely Order disappears. Its disappearance will be 
the best thing that can liappen to India — the best possible tiling. 
There’ll never be an Indian nation so long as there’s a Princely 
Order. If Lord Dalliousie hadn’t taken over half India, abolishing 
or diminishing the sovereignty or territorial authority of scores of 
principahties, then perhaps sometliing could have evolved along 
the lines of the German Empire, with considerable decentraliza- 
tion and local courts and capitals. But Dalhousie destroyed the 

^ Vivid portraits of them both, tliinly disguised as fiction, are to be found 
in Louis Broinfield's novel The Raiits Came. 



IJljj MuMUIRS OP AGA i^HAN 

possibility of the principalities ever becoming useful, federal, con- 
stitutional monarchies.” 

In view of what subsequently happened, was my old friend not 
as farsighted as he was eloquent? 

Another of my good friends among the princes was the great 
Maharajah of Kapurthala. His outstanding quahty was his mag- 
nanimity. During his minority an mtcle of his had been an active 
rival claimant to his titles and estates. When he came of age and 
was fuUy confirmed m his inlieritance, the Maharajah was recon- 
ciled with tins formidable opponent, not merely superficially or 
formally, but with the utmost warmth and sincerity, inviting him 
frequently to his capital and entertaining him with as much 
affection as deference. 

I recall one cheerful little anecdote which he told me about 
himself. In 1893 when he was quite a young man, first visiting 
Europe, he stayed for a time in Rome. One day King Umberto of 
Italy called on him, unannounced. The King’s manners were bluff, 
abrupt, and soldierly. As they entered the Maharajah’s sitting- 
room, the King saw a number of photographs of beautiful women 
displayed about the room. 

The King barked gruffly, “Who arc these women?” 

“They, Sir, are ray wives.” 

The King swung round at him. “Well, I too have got as many 
women as you. But there’s tins difterence between us. I don’t 
keep ’em together. I keep ’em in different houses. You keep all 
yours in your palace.” 

Taken all in aU, with his culture, his impeccable taste, his sane 
and balanced judgment, his vigorous and colourful personality, 
I believe that the Maharajah of Kapurthala was, next to the 
Maharajah of Baroda, the outstanding ruling prince of my genera- 
tion. They both, I think, possessed the political vision to have 
appreciated the loistorical reasons for the disappearance of the 
Princely Order, and to have accepted it without bitterness or 
rancour. I do not tltink that this would have been so easy for two 
other friends of mine, both in their way admirable, talented, and 
distinguished men; Ranjitsinhji, the Maharajah of Jamnagar, that 
magnificent and lovable sportsman, one of the greatest cricketers 
of all tune, a superb and generous host, but a man very conscious 
of Ills inherited rights and duties; and the Maharajah of Bikaner, 

302 




The Aga Khali at home at Yakymour, near Cannes 


tl*- 





Till; WAR YtARS. IWb PARTlilUN OF INDIA 

a Rajput of the Rajputs, witli a liigh and buniing pride in his 
ancestry, for whom the passing of die Princely Order would have 
been very hard to bear. 

But pass it did, in a series of swift and comprehensive decisions. 
Pakistan — in the immediate attainment of independence faced with 
countless momentous decisions — solved this particular problem 
swiftly and well. Again it was the Quaid-i-Azam’s acliievemcnt. 
He who had had himself instantly proclaimed Governor-General 
of his new Dominion, was able, with liis ahnost incredible clarity 
of vision, liis statecraft, and his practical, Bismarckian sense of 
“the best possible”, to effect on his own initiative an arrange- 
ment which was not unsatisfactory to the princes and made them 
a source of strength to Pakistan. 

India found the task more compHcated and more difficult. Para- 
mountcy was at an end. The treaties that the princes had 
negotiated, first with the East India Company, then with the 
Crown, lapsed with the withdrawal of the Paramount Power. 
Legally the States reverted at once to bemg sovereign, indepen- 
dent countries. But they were islands in the surrounding sea of the 
enormous new nation of India. Lord Mountbatten, who at the 
invitation of India’s provisional Government remained as first 
Governor-General during a brief transitional period, wrestled to 
brhig about a solution, deploying all his tact and persuasiveness. 
As Minister of the States Department, Sardar Patel was massively 
determined that that solution should be satisfactory to the new 
India. 

The situation that faced the princes was not without its sadness, 
but it was inevitable. Pew had governed badly or tyrannously; 
taxation was usually lighter within their domains than in neigh- 
bourmg British India; yet their subjects secured, at this lower cost, 
many of the benefits for which the taxpayers of British India 
suppHed the revenue. By far the greater majority of the princes 
were amiable, honest, well-intentioned, and gentle; but few of 
them had been educated on modem lines to face the harsh and 
complex problems of the contemporary world. Feudal in their 
outlook — often in the best sense — but mentally and spiritually 
unadapted to the swift transition from the bullock cart to the jet 
aircraft which is our age, they were doomed by their estimable 
qualities as much as by their limitations. Above all, the long years 
I, 30^ 



ihe memoirs op AoA i^±iAN 

of paramountcy had rendered them politically irresponsible. They 
were no longer dependent on their own good behaviour and 
good administration in order to maintain their rule and their 
dynasties. In the background stood always the Paramount Power. 
Extravagant and wasteful administration at the worst meant a few 
years of supervision by an official sent down from Delhi; even 
scandalous misbehaviour only entailed the delinquent prince’s 
abdication, on pension, and the immediate succession of his heir. 
Secure in their privileges, yet without proper outlets for their 
abilities and ambitions, they tended to lose the self-confidence and 
the capacity requhed for leadership, and their prestige dwindled 
hi the eyes of their subjects. 

When the moment of crisis came, when they found themselves 
without the Paramount Power, without its guarantees and with- 
out its hmitations, they had — the vast majority of them — no 
alternative but to accept the terms whicli the Indian Union offered 
them. These on the whole were nor ungenerous, provided each 
prince took two important steps: first, authorized the immediate 
accession of his State to the Indian Union; and second, handed 
over political power. These done, they were assured of a great deal 
— ^large, tax-free emoluments; the retention of their private for- 
tunes, their lands and their palaces, their honours and dignities. 
Almost aU the princes accepted with good grace; their States 
became part of the new India, and many, big and small alike, 
were merged to form great new provinces. 

The exceptions were few but troublesome. Kashmir is an out- 
standing special case, in which a Hindu prince, the vast proportion 
of whose subjects were Muslim, made a precipitate act of accession 
to India against the very first principles agreed at the time of 
partition. In Travancore tlie Maharajah and his Ministers made a 
brief stand on tlieir legal and constitutional rights, but surrendered 
to pressure by the people of the State themselves. The Hyderabad 
issue was far less happily settled. The Nizam had the great good 
fortune to have as his adviser a man of the quahty of Sir Walter 
Monckton. However, a fatal combination of weakness and 
obstinacy prompted him to refuse the settlement wliich was pro- 
posed by Lord Mountbatten on terms negotiated by Sir Walter, 
which would have ensured Hyderabad the last ounce of advantage 
in a helpless position. The results of this stubborn folly were 

304 



Xcm vVAK YtAKS. TitE PARilllON Of INDIA 

disastrous. India took swift, stem police action, and disaster- 
enveloped all Hyderabad’s hopes and chances. 

it * * * * 

As the years pass the immense effects of Britain’s withdrawal 
from India — moral and spiritual hardly less than directly political 
— become more and more apparent. The decision and the act 
together constitute one of the most remarkable events in modern 
history. Beside Britain’s voluntary and total transference of sov- 
ereignty to the successor-States of Pakistan and Bharat, even Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bamierman’s generous action in respect of 
South Africa pales into msignificance. Notliing on this scale has 
ever happened before, yet it is the culmination and die fulfilment 
of years of growth and struggle. 

Much more remains to be accompHshed, especially in the field 
of relations between Pakistan and Bharat. These in the years since 
partition have inevitably often been strained and difficult; yet even 
the severest tension has been kept within bounds, and neither 
nation — however much sentiments may have become inflamed — 
has proceeded to extremes. Forbearance and reconciliation are not 
transient moods; they are quahties which have to be exercised, 
developed, and strengthened. 

When partition was imminent the veteran Madrassi statesman, 
Mr. C. R. Rajagopalachari, “Rajaji”, who was later Governor- 
General of India, made this wise and timely pronouncement; “If 
the Muslims really want to go, well, let them go and take all that 
belongs to them.” There is the temper that ought to inform 
relations between the two peoples. 

It proved impossible to sustain by compulsion an artificial unity. 
In separation there is a chance for understanding and magnanimity 
to grow. They are at first delicate plants; but if they are fostered 
carefully and wisely, and if their roots are deep, they will flourish. 
Membership of the Commonwealth supplies one intangible but 
important link between the peoples of Bharat and Pakistan. It is 
profoundly to be hoped that there will develop a neighbourly 
understanding that may in time grow into an alliance. Peace, a 
shared prosperity, a shared and steady improvement in the 
standard of living for railHons, are entirely in the interests of both. 
In the long run, as I firmly beheve, the workings of fate on the 

305 



■ihE MEMUIRS of AGA jvHAN 


Indian sub-continent will prove to have been beneficial and not 
evil. A relationsliip of mutual respect and goodwill between the 
two countries can — and let us hope and pray that it will — secure 
many years of happy and peaceful development and progress for 
millions in a vast and important region. Then the strivings of so 
many of us, MusHm, Hindu, and British, tlirough years of arduous 
tod, through periods of mismrderstanding and bitterness, through 
difficulties now forgotten and crises long resolved, will in the end 
have had their abundant justification. 


.106 



CHAPTER XIII 


FRIENDS OLD AND NEW. 
FAMILY AFFAIRS 


N ^ever in my long life — I may say with complete honesty — 
have I for an instant been bored. Every day has been so 
short, every hour so fleeting, every minute so filled with 
the Hfe I love, that time for me has fled on far too swift a wing. 
A mind that is occupied, in health or in sickness, widi things 
outside itself and its own concerns, is I beheve a perpetual source of 
true happiness. In ordinary prayer, as we in Islam conceive it, 
adoration of the beloved fills up every nook and cranny of the 
human consciousness; and in the rare, supreme moments of 
spiritual ecstasy, the light of Heaven blinds mind and spirit to all 
other lights and blots out every other sense and perception. 

In recent years, since the end of the Second World War, I have 
had a great deal of illness — enough, I suppose, in its content as in 
its prolongation in time, to have depressed me. I have undergone 
three major internal operations, two of them with what is ordin- 
arily considered a fifty-fifty chance of survival. I have been laid 
low for months with severe heart trouble. Yet I have never been 
depressed. I can honestly say that my mind has constantly been 
occupied with things outside myself. There has been, for example, 
a great increase in Ismaih activities throughout the Islamic world 
with a swirl of new ideas and new schemes, with which I have 
been closely and actively associated. I have read a great deal; I 
have voyaged in my reading eagerly into the exciting new realms 
opened up by scientific discovery. The moment that I was well 
enough I went back to my old love — golf; and golf has brought 
me a renewal and an extension of the friendships and acquaint- 
ances that have meant much to me over the years. I tliink in this 
connection of the golfers whom I have known: tlie genial, warm- 
hearted, open-handed Lord Casderosse for example, with whom 

107 



iH.^ MiiMOlKS OP AG A jvilAN 


I played often in the years before the war — an able journahst, a 
witty and intensely entertaining conversationahst, at all times and 
on all occasions a boon companion; or my good and wise old 
friend,}. H. Taylor, who used sometimes to travel with me, who 
was often my guest at my home, whose pupil I was over many 
weeks and months — what a wonderful personahty Ins is, with a 
mind ever open to delight in hfc and to curiosity about it — it is 
good to know that he is in excellent healtli and enjoying liis weU- 
eamed retirement in his home at Iris native Westward Ho! I shall, 
incidentally, always be glad that tlnough golf I came to know 
among the game’s professionals many men Hke J. H. Taylor, who 
were of sterling worth, and in every way examples to all who met 
them. 

Travel is another pursuit which, since the end of the Second 
World War, my wife and I have resumed with especial zest and 
joy — all the keener perhaps because it was denied to us in those 
dark years. We have returned to famihar places, discovering fresh 
charm and fresh beauties in them; and we have found delights 
hitherto unexplored. In Egypt we have tasted again the pleasure 
of Cairo that united, under its bright and Hmpid sky, so many 
civihzations, so many worlds; Luxor with its monuments, Aswan 
with its especial beauties of air and hght, and Alexandria, the 
ancient and seductive, where memories of Greek and of Ptolemaic 
civihzations mingle in and alongside a big busthng modern 
Egypto-Levantine city and port. In India wc have rediscovered 
the infinite beauty and wonder of that immense land — the liigh 
hill-station of Darjeeling, for example, with its incredible sunsets 
and sunrises of rose and pink over the immense snow-clad peaks of 
the Himalayas. And there is Lahore, whose mosques and other 
buildings are often so curiously ignored in favour of Delhi and 
Agra, even by those who know a great deal about Moghul and 
Indo-Saracenic history and art. In Europe, Rome the majestic, 
and Venice the elegant and sophisticated, though they are both 
cities that I have long known and loved, have of late revealed to 
me new secrets and new enchantments in hght, colour, and 
architecture. 

All my life I have been a constant theatregoer, and — as I re- 
marked in an earher chapter — a devoted lover of the opera. 
Whenever I can, wherever I am, I go to every good opera within 

308 



PRIfiNuS ULU AND NEW. FAMILY AFFAIRS 

reach. One ray of light illumined for me the long, dark years of 
the war when I was confined in Switzerland and deprived of 
almost all contact with the outside world: the Municipal Theatre 
in Zurich had a series of wonderful operatic seasons. Every year 
Kirsten Flagstad — the supreme singer among women as Caruso, 
to my mind, is the supreme singer among men — came to give her 
magnificent renderings of her great Wagnerian roles. Some of the 
best Itahan singers too — Gigh and others — came each year to 
Zurich. There was an almost unique pleasure about these memor- 
able seasons: the concentration of talent and genius in one city, 
and the sensation of this beauty endurmg and surviving in the 
midst of so much that was barbarous and horrible, and the con- 
trast of this intellectual and sensuous feast with our other 
deprivations. 

There are friends of mine, old and new, with whom I share this 
zest for life, tliis complete freedom from boredom. There is Elsa 
Maxwell, to mention whose name brmgs a bubbling sense of 
happiness. Hers is a friendsliip, hers is a kindness, which I pro- 
foundly appreciate, for wliich I am ever grateful. She possesses a 
true exuberance, a boundless joy in Hving; to others she gives 
perpetual pleasure, and she is happy because she makes them 
happy. Elsa Maxwell, the best of friends and the most forgiving to 
her enemies — ^if such there be — stands out as an example and an 
encouragement to all who beUevc that social intercourse should be 
accepted and appreciated as one of God’s good gifts to mankind, 
and not as a dreary obHgation to be shuffled through when 
necessity arises. 

A couple of friends whom I caimot forebear to mention here 
— since they have come so much closer to us since the war — ^liave 
been my old racing trainer, Frank Butters, and his delightful 
courageous wife. Their annual visit to us in the South of France 
was something to which, every autumn, we grew to look forward 
as one of the chief pleasures of next year’s spring. Now alas, 
Frank Butters’s health has so completely broken down diat 
though we go on repeating our ammal invitations, Mrs. Butters 
has to refuse them. Greatly do we miss them both, but this sadness 
has not impaired our affection for two of the best human beings 
we have ever known. 

A new good, kind friend made in tire years since the war is Mr. 

309 



IHii MEMOIRS Of AoA js.hAN 


diaries Grey, a member of the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, 
a man of sweet and sumiy temperament, gay, gentle, and ever 
helpful. He is the embodiment of the French saying “tout com- 
prendre, e’est tout pardonner”. No one could be a better com- 
panion in joy or sorrow than diaries Grey, for he is another who 
reahzes that friendslhp and social life are God-given, and that we 
ought to be thankful for them, and accept them with joy and 
gusto and not with resignation or boredom. Elsa Maxwell, 
Charles Grey, and I share one quaUty wliich I suiccrcly believe to 
be enviable; we don’t Icnow what boredom is. 

* -k * * * 

Durhig the 1953 Caimes Film Festival I met Miss Olivia de 
HaviUand, the distinguished screen and stage actress, a woman 
of subtle and interesting personahty who seems to me to be in 
her own way, if I may say so, a seeker after truth. I believe that 
she is one of those fortunately gifted people who have an artistic 
and personal hfe of their own, full, busy, and successful, who 
are yet — in and through tliis active day-to-day life — sharply and 
constantly aware of the fundamental issue and problem of our 
world today, the enormous power that man has attained over 
physical nature contrasted witli the still somewhat primitive 
hmitations of his emotional and spiritual existence. 

Another new friend — one of the few truly great individual and 
creative artists of our time — ^who is in his fashion a similar seeker 
after truth and a pilgrim in search of a reconeding wisdom amid 
die contradictions of today, is Mr. Charles Chaplin, whom I 
first came to know in 1953. He and I have talked long and far 
into the night — of the dreams that lie near our hearts, of the 
puzzles that afilict and sadden us. That Chaplin is a rebel goes 
widiout saying — a rebel against the foUy of modem society’s im- 
potence in the midst of such overwhelming material aggregations 
of power. 

I wiU cite an example of the sort of thhig wliich drives a mind 
like Chaphn’s to distraction. A recent report of the World Food 
and Agriculture Organization stated, without equivocation, that 
the vast majority of human beings live stiH far below the hunger 
hne, with consequences in waste, suffering, reduced productive 
capacity, and shortened expectation of life too enormous to 

310 



FRlJbNDS OLD AND NEW. FAMILY AFFAIRS 

me.isiire; and — as the report pointed out — at the same time the 
world’s present ratio of food production (let alone the results of 
any improvements that would follow better methods of soil con- 
servation, fertilization, and farming) is sufficient to ensure a per- 
fectly adequate diet for every human being alive, if it were 
properly distributed. 

Now if only some of the enormous capital investment all over 
the world winch every year goes into totally unproductive and 
potentially violently destructive armaments could be expended 
in a single major productive project — ^let us say water conserva- 
tion, m building dams and artificial lakes and providuig irrigation 
schemes for the huge empty and desert areas of the world — the 
overall agricultural output would be vastly and rapidly increased, 
and the ordinary standard of living be raised thereby. This, which 
is a topic about which I have thought a great deal, I drew to Mr. 
Chaplin’s attention, to discover that his views on it were just the 
same as mine. 

His detractors have in the most unmeasured terms accused Mr. 
Chaplin of being sympathetic to Communism. I discovered one 
aspect of Communism which horrified him. Communist pro- 
paganda, as we all know, proclaims loudly from time to time 
Moscow’s view that our two worlds, our two economic and social 
systems can live peaceably side by side and maintain a system of 
exchange, not only economic but intellectual and cultural. Yet, 
as Chaplin argued fiercely, tlie Communists have cstabUshed the 
Iron Curtain, which prevents any real free exchange of ideas 
between the two worlds, bamiing utterly as it does a free inter- 
change in writing and the other arts, and imimpeded, free, and 
uncontrolled travel by students and tourists, and all the ordinary 
ways by which the people of one country or civilization get to 
know and comprehend tlie people of another. The only method, 
said Chaphn, by which the co-existence of our two systems would 
be possible, or could offer a natural and healthy solution of 
humanity’s troubles and problems, would be to open all frontiers 
to travellers, with the minimum of passports, currency control, 
and restrictions, and with a free and full interchange of literature 
— academic, journalistic, and popular, as well as technical and 
scientific — from one end of the world to the other, such as existed 
in the far-off, happy days before 1914. 

311 



iJriE MiiMOlKS Ojf AGA is.±iAN 


Mr. Chaplin is interested in certain psychical and non-physical 
phenomena, such as telepathy and its various derivatives. He 
quoted to me Einstein’s demand that ten scientists should witness 
at the same tune, and under precisely similar conditions, every 
case of this kind submitted, before he would consider these mani- 
festations proven. He and I agreed that the imposition of tltis kind 
of test would make all psychical research and experiment im- 
possible, for these phenomena — and the laws under wluch they 
occur — are simply not at the beck and call of human beings. 

I consider it a real privilege and pleasure to have met Mr. 
Chaphn and his beautiful and accomphshed young wife. She 
comprehends and fully sympatliizes with liis ideals, with liis 
mental and spiritual aspirations and satisfactions, and with the real 
suffering that the contradictions of our time cause him. I who by 
the grace of God’s greatest gift am myself blessed with a wife 
who fuUy understands the joys and the sorrows of my mind and 
my spirit, can well appreciate the happiness that he finds in a 
domestic hfe very similar to my own. 

***** 

For a time a famous and beautiful young star of the screen was 
my daughter-in-law, and is the mother of my granddaughter — 
whom I have only seen when she was a newborn baby' — Miss 
Rita Hayworth, my son Aly’s second wife. 

Aly’s first marriage — to Mrs. Loel Guumess, a young Enghsh- 
woman of beauty, charm, wit, and breeding, born Joan Yarde- 
BuUer, die daughter of Lord Churston — had had my fuU and 
affectionate approval. They were married in 1936, when Aly was 
twenty-five; I took my daughter-in-law, Joan, to my heart; and 
I had, and stdl have, a great affection for her. She bore Aly two 
fine sons, my grandchildren; these boys are now at school, and in 
due course they wiU go to universities in America — ^the elder, 
Karim, who shows promise in mathematics, to M.I.T., we hope, 
and the otlier Amyn, probably to the Harvard Law School. 

Their marriage remained perfectly happy until the end of the 
war. They were both in the Middle East, first in Egypt and then 
in Syria; Aly was in the Army and Joan was one of the many 
officers’ wives who, at that time, were grass-widows in Cairo. 
After the war they returned to Europe and Joan spent a year or 



tRIENJJS OLU AND NEW, FAMILY AFFAIRS 

two ill East Africa with the children. However — and to my real 
sorrow — they drifted apart. Differences developed between them 
and they separated. 

Not long after this Aly went to the United States on business 
and there met Miss Hayworth. They were seen about a good deal 
together — and a blaze of sensational publicity enveloped them, 
with endless gossip and speculation. They came to sec me at 
Caimes, and I asked them if they were really devoted to each 
other; they both said that tliey were, so I advised them to get 
married as soon as possible. 

As soon as their respective divorce formahties were completed 
they were married — but in circumstances of clamorous publicity 
such as we had never before experienced in our family. My own 
first wedding in India had been elaborate, but its festivities were 
simple and unostentatious. This, however, was a very different 
matter. This was a fantastic, semi-royal, scmi-HoUywood affair; 
my wife and I played om- part in the ceremony, much as we dis- 
approved of the atmosphere widi wliich it was surrounded. 

I thought Miss Hayworth charming and beautiful, but it was 
not long before I saw, I am afraid, that they were not a well- 
assorted couple. My son Aly is an extremely warmliearted person 
who loves entertaining, who loves to be surrounded by friends 
to whom he gives hospitaUty with both hands. Miss Hayworth 
was obviously someone who looked upon her marriage as a haven 
of peace and rest from the emotional strain of her work in the 
theatre and on the screen, which had absorbed her ahnost from 
childhood. Certainly for two people whose ways of hfe were 
thus dramatically opposed their marriage’s collapse was inevit- 
able. 

Miss Hayworth somehow got it into her head that eitlier Aly 
or I myself might try to take her daughter away from her, kidnap 
the child indeed. Therefore, when she ran away from my son 
she took die cMd with her. 

Had Miss Hayworth made mote inquiries, she could have 
found out what in fact are the IsmaiH religious laws and the 
code which governs all my followers and my family in these 
matters. Under this code the custody of young cliildren of eidier 
sex rests absolutely with their mother, no matter what the circum- 
stances of the divorce. Unless we were criminals, therefore, we 



Ian MEMOlKS UE AGA KHAN 

could not even have contemplated taking the baby, Yasmin, from 
her mother. When they are seven boys pass into their father’s 
custody, girls remain in their mother’s until puberty when they 
are free to choose. This code surely oflFered Miss Hayworth ample 
protection. 

I was in India and Pakistan when the final crisis in my son’s 
domestic hfc was developing. The moment I got back to Cannes 
— that very same night — Miss Hayworth, without having let me 
even see the baby, took her and ran away to Paris and then from 
Paris back to the United States. She has since, I understand, come 
back to Europe; but she has not brought the cltild to show her to 
her fatlier’s family. 

The day that she was Icavmg with the child, a busybody in my 
employ telephoned me to tell me what was happening, and to ask 
what she should do about it. I answered at once that it was no 
affair of ours, and Miss Hayworth was fully entitled to take the 
child wherever she wished. She could surely have delayed her 
departure for Paris from Cannes, and have let me see the baby. 

Friends of my own and my lawyers have always maintained 
that I might have made a trust settlement or taken out an insurance 
for my small granddaughter’s future. Their arguments, though 
well intentioned, are mistaken. They have not reahzed that under 
Islamic law the custody of a female child, until puberty, rests 
absolutely with her mother. They have also forgotten that there 
is no way under Islamic law by which a child can possibly be dis- 
inherited by his or her father. Were my son Aly to die, he is not 
allowed to will away from his legal heirs more than one-third of 
his property; two-tliirds must go to his heirs, of whom his 
daughter Yasmin is one, and he cannot interfere with this pro- 
vision in any way. Nor does MusHm law allow a testator to 
benefit one legal heir at the expense of another. Therefore, what- 
ever happens to my son Aly, the child Yasmin is bound to get her 
proper share of any estate which he leaves. So long as capitahsm 
and any system of private property survive it is unlikely that 
Aly will die penniless, and so there is no particular urgency about 
making financial provision for his daughter. 

A system of dowries and of marriage settlements is, I under- 
stand, developing in the United States, and doubtless when the 
child is of an age to contemplate marriage, either my son or I will 

314 



FRIENDS OLD AND NEW. FAMILY AFFAIRS 

arrange a reasonable dowry for her, in relation to the circum- 
stances of the man she marries. 

In conclusion I can only hope that when next Miss Hayworth 
comes to Europe she will brmg her small daughter with her, so 
that her father’s family can sec her and have the pleasure of making 
her acquaintance. 



CHAPTER XIV 


MY RECENT TRAVELS 


T he people whom I have met and known throughout my hfe 
stand out in my recollection more vividly and sharply dian 
the dogmas that I have heard preached, the theories that I 
have heard argued, the pohcics that I have known to be pro- 
pounded and abandoned. I have enjoyed the friendship of beauti- 
ful and accomphshed women, of brilhant and famous men, who 
throng for me the corridors of memory. 

The most beautiful woman whom I ever knew was without 
doubt Lady D’Abernon — formerly Lady Helen Vincent — tbe wife 
of Britain’s great Ambassador in Berlin. The brilliance of her 
beauty was marvellous to behold: the radiance of her colouring, 
the perfection of her figure, the exquisite modelling of her hinbs, 
the classic quality of her features, and the vivacity and charm of 
her expression. I knew her for more than forty years, and when 
she was seventy the moment she came into a room, however 
many attractive or lovely young women might be assembled 
there, every eye was for her alone. Nor was her beauty merely 
physical, she was utterly unspoiled, simple, selfless, gay, brave, 
and kind. 

If Lady D’Abemon was pre-eminent, there were many, many 
others whose lovehness it is a joy to recall: Lady Curzon, now 
Countess Howe; Mme. Leteher, Swedish by origin, and ahnost 
from childhood a leading social figure; Princess Kutusov; the 
American, Mrs. Spottiswoode, who took London by storm dur- 
ing the Edwardian era, who married Baron Eugene de Rothscluld 
and — alas — died young, still in the pride of her beauty and her 
charm. 

The most briUiant conversationahst of my acquaintance was 
Augustine BirreU, now — ^I am told — an almost legendary figure 
in an epoch which has largely forgotten the art of conversation. 

316 



MY RECliNl IRAVELS 

Oscar Wilde I never met, for his tragic downfall had overwhelmed 
him before I first came to Europe. Strangely enough I had one 
chance of maldng his acquaintance after he came out of prison. 
My friend Lady Ripon was one of those who stood loyally by 
him after bis disgrace. One day in 1899 I encountered her in the 
hall of the Ritz m Pans, and she invited me to dine with her and 
one or two others in a private room at the Cafe Voishis to meet 
Wilde; but unluckily an important previous engagement pre- 
vented me from accepting her invitation. 

I have referred to my friend, Walter Berry. He was one who 
could more than hold hts own in any society, however brilliant 
or accomphshed. Another of a difierent epoch and from a pro- 
foundly different background was Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Ger- 
man financial wizard, who every time that I met liim held a whole 
table enthralled. 

I have known many women who allied great social and con- 
versational talent to their beauty; notable among them were Mrs. 
Edwin Montagu and Lady Diana Duff Cooper. My friend, Lady 
Cunard, was unique — the most complete personahty that I have 
ever encountered. Another figure of legend whom I knew well 
was the Comtessc de Chevigny who was, as is well known, the 
original — or shall I say the chief original? — of Proust’s Duchesse 
de Guermont. One of the most strikhig and memorable of the 
novehst’s descriptions of her is at a great party in, I tliink, 1900. 
She looked worried and preoccupied, and when asked what was 
the matter, repHed, “La Chine m’inquiete.” And I reflect that 
more than once, in those far-off, seemingly carefree days before 
the First World War, I met the Comtesse de Chevigny and saw, 
across the dinner-table, amidst all that briUiance and gaiety, that 
same sad and haunted expression. Had I asked her, woidd she have 
answered, I wonder, “L’Allemagne ra’inquiete”, or “Agadir 
m’inquiete . . .’’? 

***** 

Only recently, in the summer of 1953 , 1 made the acquaintance 
of one of the most remarkable men of our time, an agreeable, 
shrewd, and courtly old gentleman, the Sheikli of Kuwait, who 
is the personal embodiment of a truly astonishing romance — ^the 
romance of a sudden, dazzling rise to almost incalculable wealth. 

317 



IHE MEMUIRS OF AOA xaiAN 


Kuwait’s oil resources have only lately been tapped, but they arc 
of tremendous ricliness. The royalties wliicb the Sheikli derives 
from them suffice, at present, to enrich liim and bis bttlc princi- 
pality to the tune of something like fifty milbon pounds a year. 
This sudden flood of wealth has come to what, until the other day 
was a small, frugal Arab State (though nominally imder British 
protection it has always preserved its independence, and therefore 
its ruler ought to be designated as Sultan, not as Sheikh) whose 
population, through many centuries, had pursued their changeless 
callings as fishermen, tillers of the soil, or nomad shepherds. Sud- 
denly industrial need, with its accompanying exploitation and 
expansion, has enveloped them, bringing a swift and total revolu- 
tion in their way of life and outlook. 

It is particularly fortunate, therefore, that the Sheikh himself is 
a man of great wisdom, who allies an incredibly clearsighted 
understanding of what tliis industrial and technical revolution 
means to a profound awareness of his own responsibflities. I 
especially dehghted in liis company because I found a kindred 
spirit, one whose mind had its full store of Arab and Islamic 
history and culture, and a steadfast appreciation of the spiritual 
unity of the Arab world wliich underlies its present divisions and 
miseries. 

There is, I have often thought, a curious resemblance between 
the Arabia of today and the Germany of 1830: the many political 
divisions and subdivisions, minorities far dispersed and under 
foreign rule, the jumble of monarchies and repubhes, and witlial 
the drive of a common language, a common culture, and a com- 
mon faith— and that common faith bemg Islam is sufiiciently 
tolerant to embrace the Christian minority in its midst and admit 
them to a full share m Arab traditions, culture, and aspirations. 
How will the Arab world evolve? Who can tell? But who, at the 
time of the Congress of Vienna, could have foretold the astonish- 
ing course of German history over the subsequent century? 

The core of the Arab world is the Iflgh, central plateau of the 
Arabian peninsula itself. Here Islam was bom. From here its vast 
tide of expansion poured out in tire centuries after the deatli of the 
Prophet, that tide which carried Arab and Muslim culture across 
enormous areas of the world — to India and China and South-east 
Asia, to Byzantium, down the lengtlr of Africa, and deep into 

318 



M± RiiCuNr iRAVELS 

Europe, being stemmed only at Roncesvalles. Hence in succeed- 
ing centuries has come every great wave of Arab resurgence. Is 
the whole drive ended now? Few would dare say so with con- 
fidence. But given the conditions of today, and the domination 
of the world by science and technology, the Arab’s future great- 
ness must be spiritual and cultural. This is far more in keeping 
with Islam whose very meaning is “Peace”. 

For m Arabia vast and portentous processes of change are at 
work. After a series of violent and vigorous campaigns, during 
the years of the final decline and the Ottoman Empire’s suzerainty 
over these regions, Ibn Saud consohdated his authority over a 
large part of the peninsula. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is his 
creation, and there can be no doubt that His Majesty King Abdul 
Aziz was one of the outstanding Arab personahties of recent 
centuries. Ibn Saud sired a splendid brood of sons, numbering 
nearly forty, all tall, handsome, virile men— the modern counter- 
parts of those bearded gallants who swagger through the pages 
of the Arabian Nights, causing strong men to tremble and maidens 
to swoon. Yet they camiot be dismissed as simple story-book 
characters', many of Ibn baud’s sons possess his redoubtable 
characteristics — whether in glamorous Arab dress or in European 
clothes — are as much at home in committee-rooms, conference 
halls, and the saloons of luxury hotels in London or in Washington 
as they are in their father’s tents at Ncjd. 

For to Saudi Arabia the West has lately come, with the same all- 
embracing compulsive vigour as to Kuwait; the oil resources of 
King Sand’s kingdom arc beheved to be among the richest in the 
world. American enterprise is revolutionizing its economic exist- 
ence. But the enormous power that this development brings is 
being used m a most enlightened and skilful manner, and it makes 
nonsense of the shallow propagandist allegations about the crush- 
ing effects of “economic imperialism”. The U.S.A. is creating, in 
its dealings with Saudi Arabia, a new and profoimdly significant 
pattern of relationships between so-called “backward” and 
“advanced” countries. There is the maximum of economic assist- 
ance and support, and exploitation of natural resources, with a 
complete absence of political interference. This outlook expresses 
itself in personal relations as well; it is a firm rule that if any 
American working in Saudi Arabia is discovered to have faded in 

319 



TUB MEMOIRS OF AGA ii.HAN 


courtesy towards the poorest Arab he is at once sent home and 
forbidden to come back. There is thus bemg built up a sense of 
confidence, of goodwill and of mutual respect between the two 
peoples — and between individuals — ^wliich is of immense value 
both in itself, and as an example to other nations who, whether 
mider Point Four schemes or the Colombo Plan or any otlrer of 
these world-wide arrangements, come uito similar contact. 

•k -k -k -k -k 


Whenever the state of my healtlr has permitted it I have 
travelled widely smee the end of the war. I have visited the two 
new independent nations that have succeeded the Indian Empire 
which I knew from my childhood up; I have been to Egypt and 
East Africa, to Iran and to Burma. 

Before the end of British rule in India one of the curious and 
erroneous opiriions widely canvassed was that Indians lacked die 
capacity to govern themselves, manage their own affairs and play 
their full part in the councils of the world. Recent years have 
demonstrated die glaring falsity of this idea. Both countries have 
been particularly well seiwed by their statesmen, high officials, and 
diplomats; and their contributions to the work of the Common- 
wealth and of the United Nations have been many and valuable. 

Bharat — though an assassin’s hand struck down Mahatma 
Gandhi at a time when his country still badly needed liim — has 
been devotedly served by many brdhant and patriotic men and 
women, notably Sardar Patel, Mr. Nehru and his talented sister, 
Mrs. Pandit. My own contacts with the new regime in Dellii are 
close and cordial, and I have been received there with great 
kindness and hospitahty. We are all constantly aware of the im- 
mensely unportant part India plays, with increasing sureness and 
feheity of touch, m intemationff affairs, seeking to provide a 
bridge of miderstaiiding between the West and a resurgent Asia in 
a fasliion that is both courageous and sensible. 

Pakistan faced at the outset a far harder task than her neighbour. 
In Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, and other cities there existed both 
the traditions of a strong and stable administration and the facilities 
— the staff, the buildings, and the equipment— to maintain it. In 
Pakistan, however, everything, literally everything, had to be 
built from the very beginrung. Typewriters, pens, paper, and file 



Mi RisCJENx XHAVELS 


covers hardly existed. Hundreds of miles separated East and West 
Pakistan. Neitlier had, in the ordinary sense, a capital city. 
Karachi and Dacca doubled and redoubled their size overnight, 
everything had to be built from die foundations up, and every 
ordinary facility of administration and govenmient had to be 
estabhshcd anew. 

This vast task was undertaken with extraordinary skill and 
pertinacity. Pakistan was a going concern from the outset. Part 
of the genius of the Quaid-i-Azam was that, like the Prophet 
himself, he attracted into his orbit able and devoted people, and 
Pakistan has been served, throughout her brief existence, by men 
and women of tlie highest moral and intellectual cahbre. They 
came from the ranks not only of Mr. Jimiah’s previous followers 
but of those who had been severely critical of his policy in earlier 
days. Their acliievements have given the he to all the croaking 
prophets who could foresee nothing but disaster for the young 
State. 

First and foremost, of course, was the Quaid-i-Azam’s sister, 
Miss Fatima Jinnah, who had been his companion, friend, and 
helper for many years, who presided over his homes in London 
and Bombay, and later in his palace in Karachi and his summer 
home at the hill-station of Ziarat. Miss Jinnah has much of the 
strength of character of her famous brother, much of his manner, 
voice, resolute bearing, and appearance. Now, after his death, she 
is still prominent in pubHc life, with a large and faithful following; 
and she acts as a zealous and vigilant guardian of the moral and 
pohtical independence of her brother’s God-given realm. 

Ghulam Mohammed, the present Governor-General, univer- 
sally admired and respected, is a former industrialist, and a learned 
and devoted student of the history of Islam, its magnificent rise, 
its gradual dechne, and its present hope and chance of rising, 
Phoenix-hhe, from the ashes of the past. A former distinguished 
colleague of nhne, at the Roimd Table Conference and the com- 
mittees which followed, ZafiruUah Khan, is at present Foreign 
Minister; and he brings to his herculean responsibilities sagacity, 
forensic abihty, and great experience in the field of intemational 
affairs. 

There was, too, the Quaid-i-Azam’s faithful and skilled hench- 
man, Liaquat Ah Khan, who was another tragic victim of the 

^21 



IHE MEMOIRS OP AWA JxtLAN 

wave of violence and assassination wliich for some years swept the 
East. He is survived by his wife, in her own field of work and 
interests hardly less able and certainly no less devoted than her 
staunch and beloved husband. But Liaquat will long be missed; 
for surely if the Quaid had asked for an Abu Bakr, for a Peter, 
he could not have been granted a better one than Liaquat Ali 
Khan, whose qualities were not bright or showy, but whose 
strength of character was solid, durable, and of the utmost 
fidelity. He proved his worth in Pakistan’s second stern testing. 
The Quaid’s death, so soon after the foundation of Pakistan, 
strildngly resembled that of the Prophet himself who was received 
into the “Companionship-on-High” very soon after the triumph 
and consolidation of his temporal conquests. Similarly the Quaid 
did not live to preside for long over the growth of the mighty 
child that he had fathered. 

But Liaquat was in every way a worthy successor. Yet he who 
had been so near to the Quaid was himself soon to be struck down. 
Truly it may be said that he gave his soul to God. As Hfe ebbed 
from him Ills last words were: “No God but God, and 
Mohammed his messenger.” 

That is the stamp of a man whose achievement is the Pakistan of 
today. I think gladly of others: of Habib Rahimtoola, the brilliant 
son of a brilhant father, who had, as High Commissioner in 
London immediately after the formation of the State, a post of 
especial responsibhity; of Mr. Isphani who, at the same critical 
period, represented his young coimtry in Washington; of the 
present Prime Minister, formerly a very successful High Com- 
missioner in Ottawa, who is the grandson of Nawab Ali Cbowdry, 
a colleague of mine in the early days of the MusHm League; of 
Amjid Ali, for many years my honorary secretary who has 
rendered great service in the most onerous of charges; and of the 
other Mohammed Ali, a brilliant expert on economics and 
finance. 

Most of these men are comparatively yomig in years, and they 
come from families with industrial and commercial rather than 
political or official traditions. Their zeal, their efficiency, and their 
success in their new tasks have all been notable. Is not the explana- 
tion that they have been sustained by tbeir patriotism, by their 
devotion to a great cause, and — above all — by their MusHm faith 

.122 



MY RECENT TRAVELS 


and their consciousness of immediate and permanent responsi- 
bihty to the Divine? 

***** 

My most recent, post-war visit to Burma was a particularly 
happy experience. As I have pointed out earlier I took the step of 
advising my followers in Burma, a good many years ago, to 
identify themselves in every possible way with the outlook, 
customs, aspirations, and way of life of the people among whom 
they dwelt — to give up their Indo-Saracenic names, for example, 
and take Burnian names; to adopt Burman dress, habits, and 
clotliing, and apart from their religion and its accompanying 
practices to assimilate themselves as much as possible in the 
country of their adoption. Now that the people of Burma have 
regained their independence, this advice of mine, and the full and 
faitliful way in which my followers have carried it out, have 
borne fruit. My wife and I were received in Burma by the 
President and the Prime Minister and many other leading and 
notable personalities witli the utmost kindness and friendliness. 
Burma is a beautiful country; her people tmite a deep piety (in 
few other countries does the Prime hhnister have to be begged not 
to retire from office and — as he longs to do — assume the saffron 
robe and the begging bowl of the mendicant monk) to gaiety, 
gentleness, and intensely hospitable generosity. 

They were especially happy days that we spent in Rangoon. 
The climax of the hospitality which we received was reached, 
perhaps, on the night that we were bidden to dine, in our own 
apartments, on Burman food specially prepared for us in the 
President’s palace. Sharp at eight o’clock two A.D.C.s and several 
servants arrived with an array which marshalled in aU something 
like tliirty courses. The Burmans are by no means vegetarians nor 
are they particularly ascetic in their diet. Most of the dishes were 
very, very rich and very, very nourishing. When diey were laid 
out, we asked the A.D.C.s to join us. After a few courses we 
announced that we had finished. 

“Oh, no,” said die A.D.C.S, smiling in the friendliest fashion 
“we have been specially sent to see that you try every dish.” 

Such hospitahty was irresistible. On we batded as bravely as we 
could, on and on to the puddings, the honhons, and the sugared 

323 



Xj .J 3 MuMUlivS OP AOA Ji-ilAN 


fruit. I, after all, Hved in Victorian London and attended the long, 
rich, and stately banquets of that era, but never in ah my life have 
I known a meal which in variety and subtlety of taste and flavour 
could rival that dimier so kindly given to us by the President of 
Burma. 

•ie -k -k -k -k 

Iran, the home of my ancestors for many centuries, I first visited 
in February 1951, to be present at the wedding of His Imperial 
Majesty the Shah. Although the circumstances and the duties of 
an active and busy fife had, by chance, prevented me from going 
to Iran until I was well past seventy, I have always taken great 
pride in my Iranian origin. Both my father and my mother, it 
wfll be recalled, were grandchildren of Fateh Ali Shji, who was 
a pure Kajar of Turkish descent, and the outlook and way of life 
of the home in wliich I was brought up was almost entirely 
Iranian. 

Therefore to go to Iran was in a real sense a homecoming. It 
was made especially precious by die graciousness and the kindness 
we received as personal guests of the Emperor, and in the beautiful 
palace which Her Imperial Flighness, Princess Shams, most 
graciously put at our disposal. 

In Mahalat, which was long my ancestor’s home, I was received 
by thousands of Ismaflis from all over Persia. It was good to see 
that their womenfolk had all given up the chaddur, the Persian 
equivalent of the Indian purdah. Isfahan, wliich we also visited, 
is more old-fasliioned. There we saw the chaddur frequently 
worn, and we encountered a good number of men wearing the 
long, high-buttoned coat that was customary under the rule of 
the Kajar dynasty. In Tehran the effects of Reza Shah’s policy 
of modemization are numerous and visible. Iranians in general 
do not resemble any neighbouring Asiatic people; in ordinary 
appearance many of them might be mistaken for Southern 
Caucasians. And nowadays in the cities their adaptation of Euro- 
pean — or allegedly European — dress and a somewhat forlorn 
appearance of poverty give them the dovm-at-heel look that one 
has seen in moving pictures about Russia. 

Some of these appearances are, I think, misleading — especially 
the appearance of poverty. Weight for weight, man for man, the 

324 



M± RiiCJiNl 1 RAVELS 


masses of Iran are certainly better off than the masses of India or 
China; and, wliile their standard of living is obviously not com- 
parable with that of Western European countries or America, 
they are in matters particularly of diet better off than the people 
of many Asiatic nations, Kving distincdy above, not below the 
margin of subsistence. 

One fact is clear above the welter of Iran’s problems and 
difficulties; if the present Emperor now has, after all the stirring 
vicissitudes through which he has lately passed, a free hand, and is 
able to choose his own Ministers and advisers, and is not hampered 
by conservatism on the one hand and individuahsm on the other, 
Iran will be able greatly to raise her economic and social standards, 
and support in far better conditions a considerably increased 
population. 

***** 

I must not close tlris brief record of my recent doings and 
experiences without some reference to an incident a good deal less 
agreeable than most that have lately come my way. One morning 
in August 1949 my wife and I left our villa near Cannes to drive 
to Nice airport, to catch an aircraft to Deauville. Our heavy 
luggage had gone on by road in our own two cars with our 
servants. My wife and I and her personal maid. Mile, Frieda 
Meyer, were therefore in a car hired from a local garage. I was 
beside the driver, my wife and her maid at the back. About 200 
yards from the gate of our viUa the mountain road takes a sharp 
turn and another small road comes in at the side. 

As we reached the intersection we saw another car drawn up 
across it, so that we could neither pass nor take the by-road. 
Three men, masked and hooded and extremely heavily armed — 
they had no fewer than ten guns among the three of them — 
jumped out and closed in on us. One of them slashed one of our 
back tyres. The muzzles of their guns thrust into the car, one a 
few inches from my wife, another close to my chest. Fear, as one 
ordinarily understands it, did not bother any of us. I remember 
that I saw that the hands of the man who was covering me were 
trembling violently, and I thought with complete detachment: 
■‘That gun is quite likely to go off.” My wife's maid, as she has 
often told me since, thought — again quite without agitation — 



THE MEM OIKS OF AG A JvHAN 

“Wlien is he going to kill die Prince?” And my wife at her side 
had no sensation of alarm or fear at all. 

I said, in my normal tone of voice, “We won’t resist, we’ll give 
you what you want.” 

One of them snatched my wife’s jewel box which she held in 
her lap. As they backed away towards their car he said, “Please 
be kind. Let us get away.” 

Then when they were just about to jump back into their car, 
I found my voice and my sense of humour. 

“Hi, come back!” I shouted. “You’ve forgotten your pour- 
hoirel” 

One of them ran back and I gave him the handful of francs 
which I had in my pocket. 

“Voila le pourboire,” said I. 

“Merci, merci,” he said again and again, as he ran back to the 
other car. 

We went home and telephoned the pohee and Lloyds. Lloyds 
dealt with our claim completely and generously. After almost four 
years had passed, six men were brought to trial in 1953, and tliree 
were convicted and sentenced. And that, I think, is all that need 
be said about an episode as unpleasant as — in my long experience 
“it was unprecedented. 


32(5 



CHAPTER XV 


LOOKING BAGK-AND FORWARD 


A ll my Life I have looked forward. Large-scale prophecy, 
however, is as dangerous as it is easy, and true prophetic 
vision is rare indeed. It is a rarity more than ever marked 
in an epoch such as ours, in wliich science has placed in our reach 
material and natural powers undreamed of fifty short years ago. 
But smee the human mind and the human imagination arc as yet 
by no means fuUy equipped to master the immense forces which 
human ingenuity has discovered and unleashed, it is not too diffi- 
cult to foresee some at least of the poHtical and social reactions of 
nations as well as individuals to this enormous scientific and 
technical revolution and all its accompanymg phenomena. 

India, the country of my birth and upbringing, has been for 
centuries a land of extreme poverty, misery, and want, where 
millions are born, live and work and die at a level far below the 
margin of subsistence. A tropical climate, aeons of soil erosion, 
and primitive and unskilled methods of agriculture have all taken 
their toll of suffering, patient, gende, hut ignorant manh’nd. The 
Indian peasant has survived and multiplied, but in face of the most 
ferocious and formidable handicaps. Many years ago, in my first 
book, India in Transition, I gave this account of the day-to-day 
life of the ordinary Indian peasant under British rule. 

A typical rural scene on an average day in an average year is 
essentially the same now as it was half a century ago. A breeze, 
alternately warm and chilly, sweeps over the monotonous landscape 
as it is Hghtened by a rapid dawn, to be followed quickly by a heavy 
molten sun appearing on the horizon. The ill-clad villagers, men, 
women, and children, tliin and weak, and made old beyond their 
years by a life of under-feeding and overwork, have been astir 
before daybreak, and have partaken of a scanty meal, consisting of 
some kind or other of cold porridge, of course without sugar or 

127 



MEMOIkS OP AGA ii.±lAN 

miik. "With bare and hardened feet they reach the fields and imme- 
diately begm to furrow the soil with their lean cattle, of a poor and 
hybrid breed, usually sterile and milkless. A short rest at midday, and 
a handful of dried corn or beans for food, is followed by a con- 
tinuance till dusk of the same laborious scratclhng of the soil. Then 
the weary way homeward in the cliilly evening, every member of 
the family shakhig with malaria or fatigue. A drink of water, 
probably contaminated, the munching of a piece of hard black or 
green chaupati, a little gossip round the peepul tree, and then the 
day ends with heavy, unrefrcsliing sleep in dwellings so msanitary 
that no decent European farmer would house Iris cattle hi them. 

The Raj has gone, but in essentials the hfc and lot of the humble 
villager of rural India have hardly changed since I wrote these 
words. Education, hygiene, welfare schemes, plans for village 
“uplift”, have hut scratched the surface of the problem, hardly 
more deeply or more efficiently than the peasant’s own wooden 
plough scratches the sunbaked soil of India. Nor is the lot of his 
urban kinsman, working in one of the great and ever-growing 
industrial cities like Bombay or Calcutta, much better. At his 
factory, in his home, the Indian industrial worker endures, and 
takes for granted, utterly appalling conditions. From steamy, 
overcrowded imiH or factory he trudges to the shanty or tene- 
ment, equally overcrowded, equally unliealthy, which serves him 
as Ins home. His diet, though more varied than that of liis cousin 
in the country, is pitifully meagre by any Western standard. 
Around him are the increasing distractions of a great city, but they 
have little meaning for him. His amenities are few, Ihs luxuries 
non-existent. 

During the years of British rule it was relatively easy to shrug 
off responsibility for the economic malaise of India, to put all 
the blame on imperialist exploitation, and to say, “When we get 
our independence, then we shall put economic conditions right.” 
The imperialists have gone; the period of alien exploitation is 
over. But can economic injustice be so easily righted? India’s 
population is steadily and rapidly increasing, yet at the present 
rate — and in spite of all manner of schemes for soil conservation, 
irrigation, better use of land, intensive and planned industriahza- 
tion — ^it is iinHkely that more than half the natural increase in 
population can be economically absorbed. India’s problem, like 

.128 



LOUr^ING BACK — AND FORWARD 

Cliina’s, is one of economic absorptive capacity. Pakistan’s prob- 
lem, since she has the empty but potentially rich acres of 
Baluchistan to fiU with her surplus population, is less pressing. 
Doubtless in India, as in China, the extension of education and 
growing famiharity with the use of the vote and the processes of 
democracy will give rise to eager and energetic efforts to find 
political solutions to the gravest economic problems. Hundreds 
upon hundreds of millions of human beings in India and in China 
hve out their lives in conditions of extreme misery. How long 
will these vast masses of humanity accept such conditions? May 
they not — as reahzation dawns of their own poHtical power — 
insist on an extreme form of sociahsm, indeed on communism, 
though not on Soviet Russian lines and not under Soviet leader- 
ship? Aiad may not that insistence be revolutionary in its expres- 
sion and in its manifestations? 

Yet m India, as well as in China, if every “have” in the popu- 
lation were stripped of wealth and reduced to the level of the 
lowest “have not”, of the poorest sweeper or coohe, the effect on 
the general standard of Uving — the general ill-being — ^would be 
neghgible. There are far too few “haves”, far too many “have 
nots”, in both countries, for even the most wholesale redistribu- 
tion of wealth as it now stands. Reform, to be real and effective, 
must strike much deeper. These are thoughts grim enough to 
depress anyone who possesses more than the most superficial 
knowledge of Asia’s problems and difficulties. 

There is one major political step forward wliich should be taken 
by the Governments of India and Pakistan, which would have a 
significant and beneficial effect on the hfe and welfare of their 
peoples. This is the estabUshment of a genuine and lasting entente 
cordiak between the two countries, such as subsisted between 
Britain and France from 1905 to 1914. Even more pertinent 
analogies are offered by Belgium and Holland, and Sweden and 
Norway. Here are two pairs of neighbouring sovereign States, 
once joined and now separated. In each case tlie yotmger sovereign 
nation achieved its independence by separation from that with 
which it had long and close historical and political associ- 
ation. The separation of the Low Countries, however, offers the 
nearest parallel since this was effected on the specific grounds of 
religious difference. I have earlier hkened the Hindu and Muslim 

329 



JLilia MuMUIRS Ot* Ati-A ji.IiAN 

communities of the old Indian Empire to Siamese twins; as such 
they were, before they were parted, hardly able to move; now 
separate, surely they ought to be able to go along together as 
companions and friends, to their mutual benefit and support. 

If, however, this is to come about there must be a profound and 
radical adjustment of outlook, especially on the part of India, the 
larger of the two successive States in the subcontinent. Is it not 
India’s task — perfectly capable of fulfilment — to whi the con- 
fidence of the new nation which was her former unhappy bed- 
fellow? An essential part of this task is co-operation and assistance 
in practical matters. An immediate example that leaps to mind is 
the estabhshment of a joint commission to control water supplies, 
so that Pakistan can feel that India is genuinely helping her tackle 
her grave problem of desert reclamation and not hindering her 
either actively or passively. Similarly in the vexed matter of the 
accession of former princely States, it is essential that India should 
play her part in arranging a fair plebiscite, and then faitlifuUy 
accept the result of that plebiscite as binding. 

History offers yet another lesson to India: that it is imprudent 
to use strengtli — ^poHtical, economic, or moral strength, or the 
noisy blare of propaganda — to exert pressure on a weaker neigh- 
bour. As India may even now be realizing, such pressure only 
drives the weaker neighbour to seek friends elsewhere. The classic 
analogy for tliis sequence of cause and effect is the relationship 
between France and Germany in the closing years of the nine- 
teenth century. France, after the catastrophe of the war of 1870, 
genuinely sought an midertaking with Germany; but the 
Germany of Bhlow and Flolstein adopted a pohey of continual, 
arrogant, and exasperating pinpricks towards the Tliird Republic 
— a poHcy wliich drove France into the arms of Britain. 

I solemnly warn India’s present rulers to ponder history’s 
lessons, lest they have to be relearned on the sod of Asia as in 
Europe. But there Hes before India a far more constitutive and 
nobler course — in open and full and frank alliance with Pakistan 
to give to Asia and to bordering peoples and nations in Africa 
that bold moral and political leadersliip that might ensure peace 
and stabihty in these regions for years to come. 

I do not think that the countries of the Near East, with 
the possible exception of Egypt, face any population problems 



LOOx^ING BACiK. — AND FORWARD 

which, granted courage, resolution, and ingenuity, should prove 
insuperable. 

All that the people of countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, the 
Lebanon, and Yemen, and even Saudi Arabia, need is knowledge 
— knowledge of new techniques, knowledge of engineering, 
knowledge of agriculture. They have room and resources enough. 
Science properly appUed can repopulate their empty lands and 
make their barren spaces flourish; can plant cities, fertilize crops; 
can set up industries and develop their immensely rich mineral 
and raw material potentialities. Here there was once the Garden 
of Eden; historians and archaeologists have shown that tliis region 
was at one time fertile, rich, and populous. So it can be again, if 
the powers and the resources available to mankind now are 
properly employed. 

The Arab lands have been devastated by centuries of foUy, by 
waste and extravagance due to ignorance; the pitiful condition of 
their peoples today is a condemnation of their past. There is no 
need to look farther than Israel to realize what courage and deter- 
mination, allied to skill and urgent need, can acliieve. The Arabs 
are no wliit inferior to any race in the world in intelligence and 
potential capacity. A single generation’s concentrated and devoted 
attention to the real needs of education for all, of scientific and 
technical as well as academic teaching, training, and discipline, 
could revolutionize the Arab world. Self-help is better by far 
than grants in aid, and better than perpetual outpouring by the 
United States of their surplus production. The Arabs’ only danger 
lies in continued apathy and ignorance in a swiftly changing 
world, and in a social and economic outlook and practices un- 
adapted to the challenging realities of our time. 

I have httle fear about the impact of the future on the British 
Crown Colonies in Africa. We have seen tire noble work of Great 
Britain in West Africa. In East and Central Africa the problem is 
at present compheated by the presence of a European settler popu- 
lation. I beheve that there can be a healthy and satisfactory adjust- 
ment, provided all sections in these multi-racial communities — 
indigenous Africans and immigrant Europeans and Asians — ^face 
the simple, fundamental fact that they are ^ dependent upon each 
other. No one section can dismiss any other from its calculations, 
either about contributions to past development or about plans for 



iilii MiiMUIRS uj AGA JS.HAN 

commiuiities of the old Indian Empire to Siamese twms; as such 
they were, before they were parted, hardly able to move; now 
separate, surely they ought to be able to go along together as 
companions and friends, to their mutual benefit and support. 

If, however, this is to come about there must be a profound and 
radical adjustment of outlook, especially on the part of India, the 
larger of the two successive States in the subcontinent. Is it not 
India’s task — perfectly capable of fulfilment — to win the con- 
fidence of the new nation which was her former unliappy bed- 
fellow? An essential part of this task is co-operation and assistance 
in practical matters. An immediate example that leaps to mind is 
the establishment of a joint commission to control water supplies, 
so that Pakistan can feel that India is genuinely helping her tackle 
her grave problem of desert reclamation and not hindering her 
either actively or passively. Similarly in the vexed matter of the 
accession of former princely States, it is essential that India should 
play her part in arranging a fair plebiscite, and then faithfully 
accept the result of that plebiscite as binding. 

History offers yet another lesson to India: that it is imprudent 
to use strength — pohtical, economic, or moral strength, or the 
noisy blare of propaganda — to exert pressure on a weaker neigh- 
bour.. As India may even now be reaUzing, such pressure only 
drives the weaker neighbour to seek friends elsewhere. The classic 
analogy for tins sequence of cause and effect is the relationship 
between France and Germany in die closing years of the nine- 
teenth century. France, after the catastrophe of the war of 1870, 
genuinely sought an undertaking with Germany; but the 
Germany of BiSow and Holstein adopted a policy of continual, 
arrogant, and exasperating pinpricks towards the Tliird Republic 
— a policy wliich drove France into the arms of Britain. 

I solernnly warn India’s present rulers to ponder history’s 
lessons, lest they have to be relearned on the soil of Asia as in 
Europe. But there Hes before India a far more constitutive and 
nobler course — ^in open and full and frank alliance with Pakistan 
to give to Asia and to bordering peoples and nations in Africa 
that bold moral and pohtical leadership that might ensure peace 
and stability in these regions for years to come. 

I do not think that the countries of the Near East, with 
the possible exception of Egypt, face any population problems 

3^0 



LOUx>.ING BACjv — AND FORWARD 

which, granted courage, resolution, and ingenuity, should prove 
insuperable. 

AH that the people of countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, the 
Lebanon, and Yemen, and even Saudi Arabia, need is knowledge 
— knowledge of new techniques, knowledge of engmcering, 
knowledge of agriculture. They have room and resources enough. 
Science properly apphed can repopulate their empty lauds and 
make their barren spaces flourish; can plant cities, fertflize crops; 
can set up industries and develop their immensely rich mineral 
and raw material potentialities. Here there was once the Garden 
of Eden; Iiistorians and archaeologists have shown that this region 
was at one time fertile, rich, and populous. So it can be again, if 
the powers and the resources available to mankind now are 
properly employed. 

The Arab lands have been devastated by centuries of folly, by 
waste and extravagance due to ignorance; the pitiful condition of 
their peoples today is a condenmation of then- past. There is no 
need to look farther than Israel to reahze what courage and deter- 
mination, alHcd to skill and urgent need, can achieve. The Arabs 
are no wliit inferior to any race in the world in intelligence and 
potential capacity. A single generation’s concentrated and devoted 
attention to the real needs of education for all, of scientific and 
technical as well as academic teaching, training, and discipline, 
could revolutionize the Arab world. Self-help is better by far 
than grants in aid, and better than perpetual outpouring by the 
United States of their surplus production. The Arabs’ only danger 
lies in continued apathy and ignorance in a swiftly changing 
world, and in a social and economic outlook and practices un- 
adapted to the challenging realities of our tune, 

I have litde fear about the impact of the future on the British 
Crown Colonies in Africa. We have seen the noble work of Great 
Britain in West Africa. In East and Central Africa the problem is 
at present compheated by the presence of a European settler popu- 
lation. I beheve that there can be a healthy and satisfactory adjust- 
ment, provided aU sections hr these multi-racial communities— 
indigenous Africans and immigrant Europeans and Asians — ^face 
the simple, fundamental fact that they are dl dependent upon each 
other. No one section can dismiss any other from its calculations, 
either about contributions to past development or about plans for 

331 



AtL±4 MEMOIRS Oi AG A KHAN 

the future. The immigrant, be he European or Asian, has no hope 
of prosperity without the African; the African cannot do without 
the European farmer or the Asian trader, unless he wants to see 
his standard of living fall steeply, and with it aU hope of exploiting 
and enhancing the natural wealth of the land in which ah three 
have their homes and must earn their bread. 

To a Mushm there is one quietly but forcibly encouraghig 
element in this situation. Wherever the indigenous population is 
Mushm there is remarkably Htde racial antagonism or sense of 
bitterness against the European, in spite of the European’s obvious 
economic superiority. Islam after all, is a soil in which sentiments 
of tliis sort do not take root or flourish eashy. This is not a shadow 
and fatalistic resignation; it is something much more profound in 
the essence of the teaching of Islam — a basic conviction that in the 
eyes of God ah men, regardless of colour or class or economic 
condition, are equal. From diis belief there springs an unshakable 
self-respect, whose deepest effects are in the subconscious, prevent- 
ing the growth of bitterness or any sense of inferiority or jealousy 
by one man of another’s economic advantage. 

Islam in aU these countries has witliin it, I earnesdy believe, the 
capacity to be a moral and spiritual force of enormous signific- 
ance, both stabihzmg and energizing the communities among 
whom it is preached and practised. To ignore Islam’s potentid 
influence for good, Islam’s healing and creative power for societies 
as for individuals, is to ignore one of the most genuinely hopeful 
factors that exist in the world today. 

***** 

But what of the recurrent, intractable issue of peace or war? 
Few epochs in recent history have been more devastating and 
disastrous than (to quote a phrase of Sir Winston ChurchiU’s) 
“this tormented half-century”. Is die long torment at last over? 

I can only hope fervently, with ah my being, that this is so; that 
the nations and their leaders are sincerely and actively convinced 
not only of the negative proposition that a Tlhrd World War 
would effect the destruction of civflization, perhaps indeed of 
humanity, but of its positive corollary that it now Hes within 
men’s power enormously and rapidly to enhance and increase 
civilization and to promote the material well-being of miUions 

332 



LOOivING BACK — AND PORWAfiD 

who now rank as “have nots”. The only chance that nations and 
individuals ahke among the “have nots” possess hes in the pres- 
ervation of peace. Europe needs a century or more of recupera- 
tion after the agony and havoc that its peoples have endured, and 
recuperation means peace. The industrial and productive capacity 
of North America — -the United States and Canada — aheady vaster 
than anything the world has ever seen, is increasing fast; Nordi 
America needs markets; and markets mean peace. The under- 
developed countries, in Africa, Asia, and South America, need 
over years a vast and steady inflow of capital investment — to build 
and develop their communications, to exploit their resources, to 
raise their standard of Hving — and investment on tins scale and to 
this end calls for peace. War, in face of such circumstances and so 
numerous and so imperative a series of needs, would be madness. 
But I must admit that, if we look back at the history of the past 
fifty years, tliis has not been a consideration that has deflected the 
■ nations and their leaders from catastrophic courses. All the hardly- 
won prosperity and security, all the splendid and beckoning hopes 
of the last quarter of the nineteenth century counted for notlhng 
when the crucial test came. Pride and foUy swayed men’s hearts. 
The world’s state today is the result of pride and foUy. 

As Germany did for so long, Russia now suppUes the civihzed 
world’s great enigma, the riddle to which there seems no sensible 
or satisfactory answer. One factor in Russia’s perplexing equation 
is obvious and known — the factor whose results can only be 
happy, peaceful, and prosperous. The other^ — the perpetual “X” 
— is grim and incalculable. Long ago Lord Palmerston said that 
Russian history taught tliis lesson: the Russians must expand, and 
they will go on expanding until they encounter some force — a 
nation or a combination of nations — powerful enough to stop 
them. From its beginnings in the Grand Duchy of Moscow Russia 
has expanded steadily and remorselessly. Is expansion still the 
dominant motive in Russian poHcy? There are some sombre 
indications that this is one of the many characteristics which Com- 
munist Russia possesses in common with Tsarist Russia, and that 
her appetite for expansion is still not glutted. 

Yet why should tliis be so? Are there not other more peaceful 
factors at work? Russia’s empty lands, within her own borders, 
are greater by far than those that opened up, decade after decade, 



i’HE MiiMOIRS Of AGA i^HAN 

in front of the pioneers who extended the United States from 
small, precarious beginnings along the Adantic seaboard, Russia 
has no need of overseas colonies, no need, now that aerial com- 
munications have developed so swiftly and so powerfully, for 
those “windows on warm seas” which once mattered so much. 
Iirside her own frontiers, if her leaders can be genuinely convinced 
that no one menaces the Soviet Union, that no one harbours 
aggressive, imperialist designs against ber, lier people may live at 
peace for centuries. Will these realistic and wholesome considera- 
tions carry the day, or will suspicion, bhnd hatred, pride, and folly 
wreak new and more terrible havoc? As in the German people 
before the Second World War there was the dreadful, Wagnerian 
death-wish, driving a great and superbly talented nation to self- 
immolation, is there in the heart of all men some dark, Satanic 
evil sriU lusting for destruction? These are the stern riddles of our 
time, and each of us seeks Iiis own answers to them. 

★ * * ★ ★ 

But these issues and questions concern men in the aggregate, 
great bodies of men in national and racial groups. The biggest 
group, however, is only composed of the number of individuals 
in it. If it is possible to bring happiness to one individual, in that 
individual at least die dark and evil impulses may be conquered. 
And may not the power of good in the individual in the end 
prevail against the power of evil in the many? 

I can only say to everyone who reads tills book of mine that 
it is my profoimd conviction that man must never ignore and 
leave imtendcd and undeveloped that spark of the Divine which 
is in liim. The way to personal fulfilment, to individual reconcilia- 
tion with the Universe that is about us, is comparatively easy for 
anyone who firmly and sincerely believes, as I do, that Divine 
Grace has given man in his own heart the possibilities of illuniina-- 
tion and of union with Reality. It is, however, far more important 
to attempt to offer some hope of spiritual sustenance to those 
many who, in this age in which the capacity of faidi is non- 
existent in the majority, long for something beyond diemselves, 
even if it seems second-best. For tlieni there is the possibility of 
finding strength of the spirit, comfort, and happiness in con- 
templation of the infinite variety and beauty of the Universe. 

334 




A ic'cciit poitrait of Her Highness the Begum Aga Khan 



A recent portrait of His Highness the Aga Khan 



LUOji.IN<,; BACix — AND rORwARD 


Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. 
The subject should always disappear in the object. In our ordinary 
affections one for another, in our daily work with hand or brain, 
we most of us discover soon enough that any lasting satisfaction, 
any contentment that we can achieve, is the result of forgetting 
self, of merging subject with object in a harmony that is of body, 
mind, and spirit. And in the highest realms of consciousness all 
who believe in a Higher Being are liberated from all the clogging 
and hampering bonds of the subjective self in prayer, in rapt 
meditation upon and m the face of the glorious radiance of 
eternity, m which all temporal and eartlily consciousness is 
swallowed up and itself becomes the eternal. 




r 




❖ 




i ' Dmga Sah^ 1 

^Municipal Library) ^ 

I tsAlNlTAL ) 

A / 







INDEX 


Aaron, 178 

Abbas, cousin of Aga Khan, 19 
Abbas Hilini, IChedive of Egypt, 61, 
137-40, an, 283 

Abdication, of King Edward VIII, 
247-50 

Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia, 319 
Abdul Hamid, Sultan, 67, 151, 152, 186 
Abraham, 174, 177 
Abu Bakr, 173 
Abyssinia 

victory of Adowa over Italians, 59 
Italian invasion of 1935, 73, 243. 
256-9 

Itahan ambitions in, 236-7 
Acts of Parliament, relating to India, 

92, 146, 148, 233-4. 343 

Adowa. battle of, 59 
Aga Hall, 9, 10 

Aga Khan I (grandfather), 7, 9-10, 
32-3. 69-70, 192 
Aga Ifhan, H.H. the 

BIOGRAJIiY 
birth, 8 ^ 

early years and education, 10-13, 

15-29 

and the death of his father, lo-ii 
suffers from short sight, la, 20-1 
and his mother, 18, 19, 30 
installation as Imam, and first politi- 
cal action, 3t-2 

early interest in racing and encour- 
agement of other sports, 30-2 
and Mark Twain, 32 
engagement to Shahzadi Begum, 
33-4 

and the assassination of his uncle and 
cousin, 34 

illness and visit to Indian Muslim 
shrines, 34-5 

interest in Aligarh University and 
Muslim higher education, 35-6, 
77-8, 114-16, 120, 237 
marriage and separation, 36 
and inoculation for bubonic plague, 

36-9 

and Queen Victoria’s Diamond 
Jubilee, 39-40 
first European tour, 40-56 

836 


and Queen Victoria, 45-7 
and Edward VII, 47-5 1 
and Florence Nightingale, 53-4 
and the proposed Anglo-German 
entente, 57-S 
visit to East Africa, 58-60 
visit to Middle East, 60-3 
and Shah Musafaradin of Persia, 
63-6 

and the Kaiser, 66-7 
and Abdul Hamid, 67-8 
and reduction of his household, 69- 
72, 1S9-90 

at Coronation of Edward VII, 72-3 
member of Legislative Cotmcil, 73-4 
and the Congress Party’s attitude to 
Muslims in early 1900’s, 74-7 
and the Russell judgment on Iris 
rights and status, 79-80 
and George V, 80-4 
and Queen Mary, 84-5 
and Churchill, 85-91 
andjiimah, 94-5, 291-2 
visit to Cliina, Japan and Honolulu, 
95-100 

visit to U.S.A., 100-3 
divorced from Shahzadi Begum, and 
marriage to Mile. Theresa Mag- 
liano, 104-5 

interest in the arts, and friendships 
with artists, 105-11 
and American friends, 111-14 
birth of first two sons, 1 17 
and the death of Edward VII, 1 17-19 
and the Coronation of George V, 
I 19-21 

visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow, 
122-7 

and help for Turkey during Balkan 
Wars, 127-9 

visits to Burma, 130, 323-4 
offers his services to Britain in First 
World War, 130-1 
and Turkey’s position in First World 
War, 131-6 

mission to Egypt in First World 
War, 136-42 

and the assassination of his cousin 
Aga Parrokh Shah, 142-3 



INUEa 


Aga Klian, H.H. the (contd .) — 
illness, and attempt on his life, 1917, 

143-4 

and the British pronotmeement of 
1917 on India, 145-9 
plan for South Asian federation, 147 
and Gokhale, 147-8 
and the Greek attack on Turkey, 
159-63 

and Indian colonization in E. Africa, 
163-8 

policy as Imam, 187-91 
and liis personal wealth, 188-90 
career on the turf, 192-205, 243 
death of second wife and marriage to 
Mile, Carroll (Princess Andree), 
206-7 

and the All-India Muslim Confer- 
ence of 1928, 209-10 
visit to Egypt in 1929, 210-12 
leader of Muslim delegation, first 
Round Table Conference, 214-21 
and the second Round Table Con- 
ference, 222-31 
and Gandhi, 223-8 
and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, 226-7 
and the third Round Table Confer- 
ence, 231-4 

and Sir Samuel Hoare, 235, 237, 238, 

240 

and the Indian Civil Service, 237-8 
work for disarmament, 238-44 
and Arthur Henderson, 242-3 
Golden Jubilee as Imam, 244 
and the Duke of 'Windsor, 245-8, 
249-50 

and Hitler, 250, a6z 
and the Sino-Japancse dispute, 253-4 
and Sir Eric Drummond, 254 
and BeneS, 255 
and Anthony Eden, 255-6 
and the Italo-Abyssirdan dispute, 
258-9 

and Stresemann, 261 
and the Sudeten German problem, 
and Munich, 263, 264-8 
president of the League of Nations, 

268 

and the death of his mother, 268-70 
residence in Switzerland, 271, 273, 

279 

offers his horses to Italy and British 
National Stud, 271-2 

8^7 


illness during and after Second 
World War, 273, 298, 307 
divorced from Princess Andr6e, and 
fourth marriage, 274-5 
and Reza Shah, 275, 278-9 
and Prince Mohammed Ali, 280-1 
and Nahas Pasha, 281-2 
estimate of King Fatouk, 282-5 
Diamond Jubilee as Imam, 285-7 
and Mussohni, 292 
and the Cabinet Mission to India, 
296-8 

friendships with Ruling Princes, 
299-303 

travels of since Second World War, 
308 

and Elsa Maxwell, 309, 310 
and Frank Butters, 309 
and Chai'les Grey, 309-10 
and Ohvia de Havilland, 310 
and Charles Chaplin, 310-12 
and Rita Hayworth, 312-15 
and the Sheikh of Kviwait, 317-1S 
and the Indian Union, 320 
visit to Persia, 324-5 
held up by highway robbers, 
325-6 

BELmrS, INTERESTS, POLICY 
love of readmg, and physical exercise, 
13, 20 

and social life, 13-14 
daily routine, 14-15 
dislike of religious bigotry, 16-19 
interest in racing and other sports, 
30-2, 307-8 

combination of Indian nationalism 
with hitemational view, 32-3 
Muslim higher education, 35-6, 
77-8, 114-16, 120 
on tact in serving food, 51-3 
interest in the arts, 105-11, 308-9 
on manpower and the education of 
Indians, 12 1-2 

statement of religious beliefs, 169-72 
policy as Imam of Ismailis, 187-91 
attitude towards horse-racing, 189 
admiration for British conscience, 
259-60 

attitude towards charities, 287-8 
joy in life, and lack of boredom, 
307-10 

tribute to friendsliip, 316-17 
belief in the future, 327-35 



INBEX 


Aga Khan, H.H. the (coitul .) — 

OltDERS AND OTHER HONOURS RE- 
CEtVED 

K.C.I.E., 46 

Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, 63 
Royal Prussiati Order of the Crown, 

153. 131 
G.C.I.E.. 73 

ICnight Grand CQnim,nider of the 
Star of India, 120 

rank of First-Class Ruling Prince 
of Bombay Presidency, 142 
Agriculture, Ministry of, and the Aga 
Khan’s horses, 272 
Ahmed, Sir Syed, 35, 61, 76 
Ahmed Shah.Kajaremperor, 275-6.284 
Ainsley, Douglas, 107 
Aiyar, Sir C. P. Ramaswaini. Si-e 
Ramaswami 

A 1 Azhar University, 140-r 
A 1 Hakem, Caliph of Egypt, 181 
Albert, Prince Consort, 269 
Alexander I, Tsar, 252, 254 
Alexander, George, 107 
Alexairder of Hillsborough, Lord, 233, 
291 

Alfonso, King of Spain, 118 
Ali, Amjid, 322 

Ali, Hazrat, son-in-law of Mohammed, 
7, II, 18, 178, 179 
Ali, Maulana Muhammad, 214, 222 
Ali, Mohammed, 322 
Ali, Shaukat, 328 
AH, Yusuf, 1 16 
Ali Baig, Sir Abbas, 140, 142 
Ali Chowdry, Nawab, 114, 323 
Ali Khan, Shaffat, 228 
AUenhy, Field-Ivlarshal Lord, 141, 211- 

313 

Aligarh, University of, 35-6, 77-8, 
114-16, 120, 237 

Altrincham, Lord. See Grigg, Sir 
Edward 

Aly Khan, second son of Aga ILhan, 
1 17, 306, 273, 373, 379, 313-14 
Aly Shah, father of Aga Khan, 10-11,22 
Ambedkar, Mr,, 314 
America. See United States 
Amir Ali, Syed, High Court Judge, 
Calcutta, 76, 104, 153 
Amritsar Incident, 148-9 
Anderson, Sir John (Lord Waverley), 
231 


Andcee, Princess. See Carron, Mile. 
Andree 

Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, 280 
Anglo-Japancsc alliance. Treaty of, 98 
Anglo-Muslim College. See Aligarh 
Ansar, the, of Medina, 87-8 
Ansari, Dr., member of Indian Con- 
gress, 128, 155 
Arabia 

nationalism in, 153, 156 
birth of Islam in, 170, 31S-19 
modern wealth of Kuwait, 317-1S 
comparison with Germany of 1830, 
318 

Saudi Arabia and its oil, 319-20 
economic conditions, 331 
Archer, Fred, 31 
Aristotle, 169 

Arnold, Mr. Justice, 9/1., 179, 181, 182 
Asna Asharis, sect of, 179, 180 
Asquith, Mrs., daughter-in-law of 
H, H. Asquith, 196 
Asquith, H. H. (Earl of Oxford and 
Asquith), 85, 132, 158 
Assassin, etymology of, 6711. 

Assassins, Order of the, 180 
Astor, Mrs. J. J., 102 
Ataturk. Sec Kcma! Ataturk 
Atoucha, Mile., 113-14 
Attlee, C. R., 208, 223, 291, 299 
Auchinlcck, Field-Marshal Sir Claude, 

297-8 

Austrian Credit- Anstalt Bank, 221 
Averroes (Ibn-Rushd), 170 

Bakst, Ldon, 109 

Baldwin, Stanley (Earl Baldwin of 
Bewdlcy), 160, 166, 210, 222, 232 
BaLfoiir, Arthur, Earl of, 55, 78 
B.ilfour Declaration of 1917, 150 
Balkan Wars, 127-9 
Ballet, 108-11 
Baring, Sir Evelyn, 168 
Baroda, Maharajali Gaekwar of, 81, 
214, 301 

Baroda, Maliarani of, 301 
Baron, Bernhard, 242-3 
Barrington-Ward, Robin, editor of 
The Times, 264 

Bartct, Madame, actress, 43-4, 106 
Bassou, Mr., member of Council of 
India, 89-go 

Bayezid, Muslim mystic. 170 


^^8 



INDJbJl. 


Beatrice, Pimcess (Princess Henry of 
Battenberg), 46 
Beaverbrook, Lord, iCio-i 
Beirut, University of, 36 
BeneS, Eduard, 355 
Bengal 

partition of annulled, 130 
famine of 194.3, 290 
Beim, Wedgwood (Lord Stansgatc), 
Secretary of State for India, 214 
Bennett, James Gordon, proprietor of 
A'eiv York Herald, iia 
Berenson, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard, 112 
Beresford, Lord Marcus, 193, 194 
Beresford, Lord William, 193, 194, 203 
Bernhardt, Sarall, 44 
Berry, Walter, judge, 113, 113, 317 
Bharat. See India, Republic of 
Bhopal, Maharajah of, 214, 216-17, 
235, 297 

Bikaner, Maliarajah of, 133, 314, 231, 
302-3 

Birroll, Augustine, 316 
Bismarck, 58, 88, 267, 299 
Blombcrg, Field-Marshal von, 240 
Bolivia, and Paraguay, 35a 
Bombay 

settlement of Aga Khan I in, 8-9, 
183-4 

Jesuits in, 15-16 
changes in the 1890’s, 26-7, 28 
bubonic plague in, 37-8 
reduction of Aga Klian’s household 
in, 71 

social conditions contrasted willr 
pre-Revolution Moscow, 126-7 
separation of Sind &om, 229-30 
Boris, Grand Duke, 122 
Boxing, 32 

Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of, 145, 150 
Briaiid, Aristide, 239 
Britain. See United ICiugdom 
British National Stud, Trji 
Bronifield, Louis, The Raitis Came, join. 
Brown, Sir Frank, journalist, 74 
Browne, Dr, E. G., Professor of Arabic 
at Oxford 255 
Briining, Dr., 340, 354-5 
Bryce, Lord, 100 
Bubonic plague, in India, 36-9 
Buchanan, Lady, 124 
Buddha, Gautama, 174, 326 
Biilow, Prince von, 58, 330 


Burdett-Coutts, Baroness, 53 
Burma 

nationalism in, 130 
Muslims in, 190, 323 
hospitality in, 323-4 
Butler, SirHarcourt, 115 
Butler, R. A., 115 

Butters Frank, trainer, 199-200, 202, 

279, 309 

Butters, Mrs. Frank, 309 

Cabinet Mission, to hidia, 233, 234, 
291, 296-8 
Cairo 

in e.arly 1900’s, 61-3 
during Second World War, 280 
Calvin, 293 

Cambridge, Marchioness of, 67 
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Plenry, 85, 

305 

Carlton Club meeting, 160 
Carnarvon, Lord, 62 
Carnegie, Andrew, 1S9 
Carron, Mile. Andrcc (Princess An- 
dr6e), third wife of Aga Klian, 207, 
315, 230, 274 
Caruso, Enrico, 107, 309 
Castlerosse, Lord, 307-8 
Central Africa, 331 

Chamberlain, Sir Austen, 222, 232, 239 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 57-8, 78, 89 
Chamberlain, Neville, 350, 262-3, 265, 
267 

Chaphn, Charles, 310-12 
Chelmsford, Lord, Viceroy of India, 
89, 154, 206 

Chevigny, Comtesse de, 317 
Chiang Kai-shek, 254 
China 

European concessions, and colonial- 
ism in, 95-8 

and the war with Japan, 252-4 
economic conditions, 329 
ChurchiU, Lady Randolph, 86 
Churchill, Sir Winston, 161, 3lo, 393, 

293, 333 

Iris character, 85-9 
attitude to India and Turkey, 89-91 
and Turkey’s declaration of War, 134 
Churston, Lord, 3 13 
Ciano, Count, 272 

Clark, Sir George, Governor of Bom- 
bay, 301 



INOtX 


Clayton, Sir Gilbert, 152 
Clemenceau, Georges, 15a, 292 
Colour bar 

in India of 1890’s, 26-9 
in China of early 1900’s, 96-7 
Congress, Indian 
birth of, 23 

British hostile to, in 1890’s, 27 
attitude to Indian Muslims, 74-7, 
228-9 

protest against Government of India 
Act of 1919, 14S-9 
boycotts first Roimd Tabic Con- 
ference, 213 

represented at second Round Table 
Conference, 222 

disowns Joint Memorandum of 
Third Round Table Conference, 

233,234 

Jinnah’s association with, 294 
Comiaught, Duke of, 24, 25, 26, 44, 
45-6, 77 

Connaught, Duchess of, 24, 25, 26 
Conservative Patty 
and Lloyd George's Coalition 
Government, 158, 160 
and the second Labour Government, 
220 

and the National Government, 222 
and Munich, 264 

Constantinople, as bargaining counter 
after First World War, 130, 155 
Courtney, Leonard, Lord, 34 
Creation, contrast of Islamic and 
Jewish ideas on, i75-<5 
Creech-Jones, A., Secretary of State 
for the Colonies, 287 
Cricket, 31-2 

Cripps, Sir Stafford, 91, 233, 286, 289 
Cripps Mission, 91, 233, 234, 289-90 
Cromer, Lord, 61, 138, 211 
Cross-Lansdownc reforms, in hidia, 93, 
146 

Crown Prince of Germany, 1 19 
Cunard, Lady, 317 
Curie, Monsieur and Madame, 64-5 
Curtis, Ralph, li2, 113 
Curzon, Lord, Viceroy of India, 31, 73, 
74, 145, 162, 248, 292 
Curzon, Lady (later Countess Howe), 
316 

Czechoslovakia, and the Sudeten Ger- 
man problem, 233, 262-6 


D’Abernon, Lord, 88, 162, 261, 263 
D’Abernon, Lady, 316 
Dacca, Nawab of, 114 
Daily Express, 161 
Daily Telegraph, 264 
Dalhousie, Lord, Governor-General of 
hidia, 3or 

Danzig problem, 267 
Darbhanga, Maharajah, 193 
Dardanelles, the, i6z 
Dar-es-Salaam, Ismali sect in, do 
Dawson, Geoffrey, editor of The Times, 
264, 265 

Dawson, Richard, trainer, 196, 197, 
199 

de HaviUand, Olivia, 310 
Dclamere, Lord, 39, 164, 166-7 
Dclcassc, Monsieur, French Premier, 

113 

Delhi 

Coronation Durbar in, 77, 81, 120-1 
Muslim Educational Conference in, 
77 

All-India Muslim Conference in, 209- 
10 

Derby, Lord, 89-90, 159, 200, 232 
Diaghilev, Sergei, 106, loS-ii 
Disarmament, Disarmament Confer- 
ence of 1932, 238-44, 261 
Divorce. See Marriage and Divorce 
Doping of horses, 203-4 
Drummond, Sir Eric (Earl of Perth), 

254 

Duff Cooper, Sir A. (Lord Norwich), 
279-80 

Duff Cooper, Lady Diana, 317 
Dufferin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 25, 

193 

Dufferin, Lady, 25, 188 
Duke, William, trainer, 195, 196, 197, 
199. 200-1 

Dumasia, Navroji, 74 
Durbar, Coronation, Delhi, 77, 81, 
120-1 

Dyarchy, in India, 147-9 
East Africa 

development of, 58-60 
Aga i^an and German E. Africa. 
130 

hidian colonization in, 163-8, 190 
Europeans in, 331 
East India Company, 303 


440 



INUEX 


Ebert, President, 240 
Eckardstem, B.aron von, 49, 57, 58, 203 
Economic depression, of 1930’s, 210, 
221 

Eden, Anthony, 255-d, 258, 262 
Education 

Adigarh University and higher educa- 
tion for Muslims, 35-6, 77-8, 
114-16, 120 

Muslim Educational Conferences, 
77-8, 115-16 

Aga IChan’s plea for education of 
Indians towards appreciation of 
British Crown, 121-2 
Edward VII, King, lo-ii, 47-51, 53, 
72-3, 117-18, 194. 203 
Edward VIII, King. Sec Windsor, 
Duke of 
Egypt 

of early 1900’s, 60-3 
and the First World War, 136-42 
and the nde of Lord Lloyd, 21 i-ia 
Cairo during Second World War,28o 
Prince Mohammed Ali, 280-1 
Nahas Pasha’s relations with King 
Farouk, 281-2 
King Farouk, 282-5 
Einstein, Albert, 312 
Elgin, Lord, Viceroy of India, 39 
Elizabeth II, H.M. Queen, 194, 249 
Elizabeth the Queen Mother, H.M. 
Queen, 248 

Ehphinstone, Sir Mounlstuart, 28 
Emden, German cruiser, 134 
England, General, 182 
EscofEer, restaurateur, 107 
Ethiopia. See Abyssinia 

Farouk, King of Egypt, 280, 282-5 
Farrokh Shah, Aga, 142-3 
Fateh Ali Snail, 181, 192, 324 
Fatima, daughter of Mohammed, 7 
Firdausi, Persian poet, 19 
First World War, 88 
Sarajevo and the outbreak of war, 
130 

Turkey’s position, 131-6, 141 
Tannenberg, 134 
position of Egypt, 136-42 
end of, 145 

question of war guilt, 250-1 
Fitzgerald, Edward, 87, 228 
Fitzgerald, Sir Gerald, 44 


Flagstad, Kirsten, 309 
Forbes-Robettson, Sir Johnston, 107 
Fox, Freddie, jockey, 243 
France, and secret understanding with 
Kemal Ataturk, 160 
Franco-Prussian War, 40, 88 
Franz Ferdinand, Archduke, 130 
Franz Joseph, Emperor, 41 
Fuad I, King of Egypt, 140, 21 1 

Gallagher, Mr., tutor to Aga IChan, 15, 
16 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 74, 206, 231, 291, 
292, 320 

organizes anti-British feeling, 153 
launches civil disobedience cam- 
paign, 213 

inconsistencies in his outlook and 
political work, 223-6 
attitude to Indian Muslims, 227-8 
his vision of India, 293 
opposed to partition, 297 
Garvin, J. L., 260 

Gaudard d’Allaines, Professor Frani;ois 
de, 273, 298 

George V, IGng, 48, 80-4, 118-21, 122, 
136, 142, 194, 215, 243, 244 
George VI, King, 80, 194, 248-9, 250 
Germany 

Joseph Chamberlain’s desire for 
Anglo-German entente, 57-8 
and Turkey in First World War, 

133-5 

defeats Russia at Tannenberg, 134 
the Weimar Republic, 162, 239, 240 
problem of, in 1930’s, 235-6 
and question of guilt in First World 
War, 250-1 

and the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, 257 
view of Versailles as diktat, 260-2 
and Czechoslovakia, 262-8 
Ghulam Mohammed, Governor- 
General of Pakistan, 321 
Gibbon, Edward, 180 
Gidncy, Sir Henry, 214 
Gigli, Beniamino, 309 
Gilpin, trainer, 199 
Gladstone, W. E., 54-5, 202, 282 
Gokhale, G. K., 74, 76, 147-8, 153 , id 5 
Golf, 307-8 
Gordon, General, 55 
Gran Chaco dispute, 252 
Great Britain. See United Kingdom 


341 



IN Utj^. 


Greaves, General Sir George, Com- 
mander of Indian Army, 26 
Greece, and the war with Turkey, 157- 
161 

Greer, Captain, 202 
Grey, Charles, 309-10 
Grey, Sir Edward, Viscount, 85, 132 
Grigg, Sir Edward (Lord Altrincham), 
161 

Gwalior, Maharajah of, 83-4 

Haifkine, Professor, 37-8, 43, 53, 150-1 
Hafiz, Persian poet, 18, 19, 170, 249 
Haldane, Lord, 85, 12 1 
Halifax, Lord, 206, 208, 213, 252, 262 
Halsbury, Earl of, Lord Chancellor, 46 
Hanotaux, Monsieur, historian, 113 
Hardingc of Penshurst, Lord, Viceroy 
of India, 114-13 

Harington, General Sir Charles, 158,159 
Harjes, Mr., of Morgan’s Bank, 112 
Harris, Lord, Governor of Bombay, 
26, 31, 112 

Hashim Shah, kisman of Aga Khan, $6 
Hassan, grandson of Mohammed, 179 
Hassan Imam, 155, 175 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 100 
Hayaslii, Count, 98 
Hayworth, Rita, 312-15 
Henderson, Arthur, 242-3 
Henderson, Sir Nevile, 263-4, 267 
Henlein, Konrad, 263, 265 
Hcm-y, O., 1 00 

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 
124-5 

Hicks, Sir Seymour, 107 
Hindenburg, Field-Marshal von, 134, 

255 

Hindu-Muslim problem. See India 
Hitler, Adolf, 88, 16a, 240, 250, 251, 
261-2, 266, 293 

Hoare, Sir Samuel (Lord Temple- 
wood), 214, 232, 235, 237, 238, 240 
Hoare-Laval agreement, 258 
Hockey, 31 

Holstein, Herr von, 58, 66, 330 
Holy Alliance of 1815, 25a 
Holy Spirit, Muslim concept of, 171 
Honolulu, in early 1900’s, 99-100 
Horses 

yearlings, 197 

training of, 197-202 

Aga Khan’s greatest horse, 201-2 


English emphasis on size and bone, 
202 

America and the doping of, 203-4 
gradual improvement of, 204 
superiority of the thoroughbred, 
204-5 

Ardpatrick, 195 
Bahram, 200-3, 243, 272 
B.at, The, 203 
Blenlicim, 215 
Cos, 199 
Diophon, 199 
Eclipse, 201-2 
Fairway, 200 
Firdausi, 200 
Flying Fox, 201, 203 
Hyperion, 202 
Jeddah, 194 
Mahmoud, 200, 272 
Maiiitenon, 195 
Manna, 202 
Mumtaz Mahal, 199 
Ormonde, 31 
Papyrus, 197 
Prestige, 195-6 
Pretty Polly, 195 
Ray Ronald, 194 
Rock Sand, 243 
Salmon Trout, 199 
Sardanapale, 195, 196 
Sceptre, 195 
Spearmint, 195 
Sunstar, 195 
Tehran, 200, 279 
Tercsina, 197 
Tctrarch, 195 
Tracery, 197 
Tulyar, 84, 201, 202 
Vampire, 203 
Windsor Lad, 82 
Yildiz I, 31 
Howe, Countess, 316 
Hume, Mr., of the I.C.S., 23 
Husain, Sharif, 150 
Hussein, grandson of Mohammed, 179 
Huxley, T. H., 260 
Hydari, Sir Akbar, 214 
Hyde, James H., I12, 113 
Hyderabad, and the Indian Union, 

304-S 

Ibu-Rushd. See Averroes 

Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, 319 


^42 



INDEa 


Ibrihim Pasha, 283 
Ibsen, Henrik, 103 
Imam, the 

as successor of the Prophet, 178- 
80 

position and responsibilities, 183-5 
Imperial Conference of 1923, 165 
India (before partition) 
heyday of British paternalism, in 
i88o’s, 23-6 

social and other changes of 1890’s, 
26-9 

bubonic plague outbreak of 1897, 
3d-9 

Florence Nightingale’s advice on 
military cantonments, sought by 
viceroys, 53 -<t 

Congress Party’s attitude toward 
Muslims in early 1900’s, 74-7 
the Morley-Minto reforms, 82-3, 

83, 92-4. 103-4, 1 14. I4d 
Churcliill’s attitude, 89-91 
Muslim desire for separate repre- 
sentation, 91 

and the First World War, 141-2 
the 1917 pronouncement and 
dyarchy, 145-9 

and the Government of India Act of 
1919, and the Amritsar Incident, 

148-9 

and concern for Turkey’s fate after 
First World War, 152-5 
and colonization in E. Africa, 163-8, 

190 

growth of nationalism after First 
World War, 206 

viccroyalty of Lord Irwin, and 
the Simon Commission, 208-9, 
212-13 

All-India Muslim Conference of 
192S, 209-10 

First Round Table Conference, 
212-21 

Muslim acceptance of federal prin- 
ciple, 317-18 

Second Round Table Conference, 
221-31 

separation of Sind and Bombay, 
339-30 

Third Round Table Conference. 
231-4 

attitude of Civil Service to Aga 
Khan, 237-8 

U 3 


contribution to Second World Wat, 
289 

the Cnpps Mission, 289-90 
determined on immediate self- 
government, 390-1 
Jinnah's career and character, 291-6 
the Cabinet Mission, 296-8 
question of the Army, 297-8 
Jmnah’s acceptance and Hindu rejec- 
tion of British scheme, 298-9 
partition, and problem of Ruling 
Princes, 299-303 
economic conditions, 327-8 
See also India, Republic of; Pakistan 
India, Republic of (State of Bharat) 
creation of, 399 
and the RuUng Princes, 303-5 
future prospects, 305-6 
brilliant leaders of, 320 
legacy of economic malaise, 328-9 
necessity of entente cordials with 
Pakistan, 329-30 

India in Transition (Aga IChaii), 144, 

147. 337-8 

Inverarity, Mr., lawyer, 79 
Iran, See Persia 
Irish National Stud, 79 
Irish Question, 55-6, 86-7 
Irish Treaty, 158 
Irving, Sir Henry, 107 
Irwin, Lord. Sec Halifax, Lord 
Isaacs, Sir Rufus. See Reading, Mar- 
quess of 
Islam 

and higher education of Indian 
Muslims, 35-6, 77-S, 114-16, 120, 

237 

Aga Khan’s Settlement of disputes 
in Zanzibar and Dar-cs-Salaam, 

59-60 

Hindu-Muslim tension in India in 
early 1900’s, 75-7 

Mohammed and the succession, 87-8, 
178-9 

and Turkey’s plight in Balkan wars, 
127-9 

and Burma, 130, 190, 323 
and Turkey’s position in First World 
War, 134-6 

and Egypt's position, in First World 
War, 140-1 

and Turkey’s fate after First World 
War, 152-7 



INJJJiX 


Islam (ccntd .) — 

Arabia and the birth of Islam, 170, 
318-19 

and direct experience of God, 170-3 
concept of Holy Spirit, 171 
no absolute religious authority in, 

172-3 

the Siuini School and freedom of 
interpretation, 173 
monotheism, 174-j 
idea of creation, 175-6 
relation of man to God, and duties 
of man, 176-7 

marriage and divorce, 176, 185-6, 

313-14 

Sumri and Shia doctrines, 177-80 
the Imam as successor of the Pro- 
phet, 178-80 

Aga Khan’s policy as Imam, 187-91 
All-India Muslim Conference of 
1928, 209-10 

Gandhi’s attitude to Indian Muslims, 

337-9 

Congress attitude to Indian Muslims, 
33S-9 

modern Arabia, 317-20 
toleration and sense of equality 
before God, 332 
See also Ismaili sect 
Islam Shah, Shah, 181 
Ismail, Iflicdivc ofEgypt, 383 
Ismail, Sir Mitza, 214 
Ismaili sect, of Shia Muslims, 7 
in Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam, 
59-60 

in Syria and Egypt, 61 

history of, 179-81 

and the Aga lihan I, 181-2 

The Imam, and organization of, 

183-5 

fluid system of, 185 
marriage and divorce, 185-6 
in Turkey, 186-7 
and heterodoxy, 187 
and political guidance, 187 
and reform, 187-8 
and the Aga Khan’s leadership, 187- 
191 

Aga Khan seeks national home for, 
385-6 

attitude to charities, 387-8 
Isphani, Mr., Pakistan ambassador in 
Washington, 333 


Isvolsky, Russian ambassador in Paris, 
250 

Italy 

invades Abyssinia, 73, 243, 256-9 
under MussoUni, and ambitions in 
Abyssinia, 236-7 

rejects offer of Aga Khan’s horses, 
271-2 

Izzet Bey, 152 


Jackal hunting, 3 1 
James, WiUiam, 100 
Jameson (of the ‘Jameson Raid’), 59 
Janmagar, Maharajah of (Ranjitsinghi), 
214, 302 
Japan 

and alliance with Britain, 98-9, 246 
and the China incident, 237, 252-4 
and the Second World War, 290 
Jayakar, M. R., 214 
jeejeebhoy. Sir Jamsetje, 25 
jeejeebhoy. Lady, 25 
Jehangir, Sir Cowasji, 214 
Jerome, Mr., cousin of Lady Randolph 
Chm’chill, 101 
Jesuits, of Bombay, 15-16 
Jesus Christ, 170, 174, 177, 223, 226 
Jews 

the Anglo-Jewish group, 147 
and Zionism, 150-2 
monotheism of, 174 
idea of creation, 175 
Jinnah, Miss Fatimah, 321 
Jiimah, Mohammed Ali, 213H., 214, 
228, 229, 332 

opposes separate Muslim representa- 
tion, 94-5 

changes his views, 210 
opposed to federation, 217 
favours partition, 225 
and the Cripps mission, 290 
career and character, 291-6 
accepts Cabinet mission’s final offer, 
298-9 

and the Ruling Princes, 303 
attracts ability and devotion, 321, 

323 

Jockey Club, 203 
Jubilee Insurance company, 188 
Jung, Sir Salar, 142 
Jungishah, Aga, uncle of Aga IChan, 33, 
34 


344 



INDEX 


Kahn, Rabbi Zadek, 151-2 
Kaiser, the. See WilUam II 
Kapurthala, Maharajah of, 303 
Karsavina, Tamara, 109, 119 
Kashmir 

Maharajah of, 314 
and the Indian Union, 304 
Kelvin, Lord, 53 

Kemal Ataturk, 90, 135, 157, 158, 159, 
160, 163, 377 

Kenny, Mr., tutor to Aga KJian, 15, 16, 
20-1, 30 

Kenya, Indian colonization in, 163-8 
See also East Africa 
Kerr, Pliilip. See Lothian, Marquess of 
Kesselring, Marshal, 389 
Keynes, John Maynard, Lord, 251 
Khan, Aga Mustafa, cousin of Aga 
Khan, 370 

Khan, Sir Muhammed Zafrullah. See 
Zafrullah Klian 

Khojas, Indian converts to Islam, 79, 
181 

Killearn, Lord, 380 

Kipling, Rudyard, 24, 26, 227 

Kitchener, Lord, 61, 74, 77, 131, 132, 

133. I3<5. 138. 245 
Koran, the, 170, 172, 173, 176 
Krishna, Shri, 174 
ICruger, President, 86 
Kutusov, Princess. 3 16 
Kuwait, the Shcikii and modern wealth 
of, 317-18 

Labour Party 
emergence of, 78 

second Administration of, 210, 220 
and the National Govermnent, 222 
Methodist influence in origins of, 
342 

the Attlee administration and India, 
391 

Lambton, George, 196, 197, 199 
Lambton, Mrs. George, 196 
Lampson, Sir Aliles. See ICillearn, Lord 
Lansbury, George, 223 
Lansdowne, Lord, 193 
Lausaime, Treaty of, 162 
Lausanne Conference, 163 
Law, Bonar, 160 

Lawrence, Mr., tutor to Aga Khan, 15, 
16 

Lawrence, T. E., 152 


League of Nations 
and Germany’s membership, 88 
and disarmament, 23S-44, 261 
defects ofits constitution, 351-2 
and the Sino-Japanese dispute, 252-4 
Sir Eric Drummond’s secretaryship, 
254 

and the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, 
357-9 

Aga Khan’s presidency of, 268 
Lehzcn, Baroness, governess to Princess 
(Queen) Victoria, 46 
Lenin, 99, 145 
Letelier, Madame, 316 
Liaquat Ali Khan, 321-2 
Liberal Party, and Lloyd George, 158 
Lifar, Serge, 109 

Linlithgow, Marquess of Viceroy of 
India, 231, 273, 290 
Lister, Lord, 53 
Litvinov, Maxim, 238-9, 257 
Livingston, Henry, British Consul- 
General in Geneva, 273 
Lloyd, Lord, 211-12, 257-8 
Lloyd George. D., 55, 85, 119 
and the viccroyalty of India, 89-90 
attitude to Greece and Turkey, 150, 

154- 155 

his Second Coalition government, 
158 

and Lord Beaverbrook, 159, 160 
fall from power, 160-I 
his achievement, 161-2 
scruples about Treaty of Versailles, 
360 

limitations of 293 
Lloyds, Messrs., 326 
Locarno Treaty, 260-1 
London, in the 1890’s, 44-5, 53-6 
Lothian, Marquess of, 247 
Lucerne bomb, aflfair of 143 
Luther, Martin, 293 
Lyall, Sir Alfred, 54, 55 

MacDonald, J. Ramsay, 310, 314, 319- 
220, 321 , 323 , 331-3 
MacMahon letters, 150 
Magliano, MUc. ’Theresa, second wife 
of Aga Khan, 104-5, ud, 206-7 
Mahasabha, Hindu, 218, 229 
JVIahomcd Shah, Emperor, iSi, 183 
Malaviya, Pandit, 229 
Malcolm, Sir John, 28 





IN iJ 11 A 


Maiichui'ia, and the Japanese, 237, 252, 
254 

Mansonr, Muslim mystic, 170 
Maple, Sir J. B,, 57, 203 
Marlborough, Consuclo Duchess of 
(later Madame Balsan), 112 
Marlborough-Windham Club, 47-8 
Afarriage and Divorce, in Islam, 176, 
185-6, 313-14 
Marsh, Marcus, trainer, 82 
Mary, Queen, 80, 81, 84-5, 119. 243, 
245, 248 

Mary of Modena, 8 
Massenet, 10S-7 
Massine, Leonide, 109 
Maxse, Leo, 121 
Maxwell, Elsa, 309, 310 
May Report, 221 
Mehdi, first son of Aga KJian, 117 
Mehta, Sir Pherozeshah, 33, 75 
Melba, Dame Nellie, 107 
Meline, Monsieur, French Premier, 113 
Menelik, Emperor of Abyssinia, 59, 73 
Mettemich, 252, 254 
Metteniich, Count Wolf, 49 
Meyer, Mile. Frieda, 325 
Michael, Grand Duke, 122, 125 
Mills, Mrs. Ogden, 102 
Minto, Earl of, Viceroy of India, 82, 
85, 92, 93-4, 103, 1 14 
Mody, Sir C, P., 214 
Mohammed, the Prophet, 7, 17, 18, 87, 
170, 173, 174. 175, 177. 178, 226 
Mohammed Ali, Prince, 280-1, 282, 
285 

Mohammed Ali (grand&ther of pre- 
ceding), 281, 283, 384 
Mohammed Ali Club, Cairo, 21 1 
Mohsen-ul-Mulk, Nawab, 35, 7O, 95 
Monckton, Sir Walter, 304 
Monet, painter, 105 
Monorealism, as basic principle of 
Islam, 175 

Monotheism, contrast of Islamic and 
Jewish, 174-5 

Montagu, Edwin, Secretary of State 
for India, 146, 147, 153, 154 
Montagu, Mrs. Edwin, 196, 317 
Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, in India, 
IS5 

Moatreux Convention, 162 
Moore, Mrs., friend of King Edward 

vn,5o 


Morley, Lord, Secretary of State foi 
India, 82, 85, 88-9, 9a, 94, 103-4 
Morlcy-Minto reforms. See India 
Moscow, rich and poor in, before the 
Revolution, 126-7 
Moses, 174, 178 

Mountbatten, Lord, 2S9, 296, 299, 303, 

304 

Mudaliyar, Dewan Bahadur Rama, 
214 

Munich crisis, 250, 264-8 
Munir Pasha, Turkish Ambassador in 
Paris, 152 

Musafatadin, Shah ofPersia, 63-6 
Music, 106-7, 108 

Muslim Conference, All-India, Delhi, 
1928, 209-10 

Muslim Educational Conferences 
Delhi, 1912, 77-S 
Nagpur, 1910, 115-16 
Muslim League, All-India, 95, 295, 296 
Muslims. See Islam 
Mussolini, Benito, 236, 243, 256-7, 
272, 292-4, 296 
Mustalli, Caliph, iSo 
Mustansir, Caliph, 180 
Mysticism, Islamic, 170-2 

Nadir Shah, 275 

Nagpur, Muslim Educational Confer- 
ence at, 115-16 ^ 

Nahas Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt, 
280, 281-2, 284 
Nahas, Madame, 282 
Naidu, Mrs. Sarojini, 223, 226-7 
Napier, Sir Charles, 69, 182 
Nasruddin, Shah ofPersia, 64 
National Government, 222, 231-2 
Nationiil Liberals, 232 
Nalional Revieii/, 121 
Nawaz, Begum Shah, 214 
Nazism, 240 
See also Germany 

Nehru, Pandit Jawaharlal, 74, 206, 213, 
291, 320 

Nehru, Pandit Mohtilal, 74, 206, 2i3rt. 
Nesbit, Evelyn (Mrs. Harry K. Thaw), 

lOI 

Neurath, Baron von, 266 
Newbury, Professor, Egyptologist, 210 
New York, social life in 1907, 101-3 
Nicholas II, Tsar, 83, 122 
Nicholas, Grand Duke, 122 


U6 



I N Dtjv 


Nicolson, Sir Harold, 83 
Nightingale, Florence, 33-4 
Nijinsky, loy, 119 
Northcliffc, Viscount, 159 
Northcote, Lord, Governor of Bom- 
bay, 71 

Norwich, Lord. See Duff Cooper, Sir 
A. 

Nott, General, 1S2 
Nozar, 180 

Oil, in Arabia, 318, 319-20 
Omar Khayyam, 87 
Omdurinan, battle of, 61 
Opera, 308-9 

Ottoman Empire. See Turkey 
Oyama, Field-Marshal, 99 

Painting, 103-6 
Pakistan 
creation of, 299 
and the ILulmg Princes, 303 
future prospects, 303-6, 329 
early difficulties of, 320-3 
necessity of entente cordide with India, 

329-30 

Palestine. See Zionism 
Palmerston, Lord, 333 
Pandit, Mrs., 320 
Paraguay, and Bolivia, 232 
Paris, in 1890’s, 43-4 
Patel, Vallabhai, 206, 213H., 291, 303, 
320 

Patiala, Maharajah of, 193, 214 
Paul, Herbert, 54 

Peel, Lord, Secretary of State for India, 
163 
Persia 

stronghold of Shia sect of Muslims, 
7 

chaos in i8th and 19th centuries, 7-8 
under Shah Musafaradin, 63-6 
Reza Shah and the Allies’ entry into, 
1941.275-9 

modernization in, 324-5 
Perth, Earl of. See Drummond, Sir Eric 
Peter the Great, 125 
Petliick-Lawrence, Lord, 233, 291 
Phillips, Morgan, 242 
Phipps, Mrs., loz 
Pierremarie, Professor, 143 
Pissaro, 103 
Plato, 169 


Pohicird, Raymond, 160 
Poland, and Germany, 267 
Polovtsoffi General, 122 
Polytheism, Indian and Chinese, 174 
Poona, palaces of Aga Khan I in, 9 
Portland, Duke of, 203 
Princess Royal, 80 
Proust, Marcel, 113-14, 317 
Puccini, 106 
Punch, 128 

Quakers, 260 

Qur.tish, the, of Mecca, 87-8 

Rahimtoola, Habib, 322 
Rajagopalachati, C. R., Governor- 
General of India, 305 
Rajpipla, Maharajah of, 8 1-2 
Ram, Shri, 174 

Kainaswanu Aiyae, Sir C. P., 214 
Rangachariar, Diwan Bahadur T., 166 
Ranjitsinjhi. See Janmagat, Maharajah 
of 

Ras Makoniicn, Emperor of Abyssinia, 
59. 73 

Rcadmg, Sir Rufus Isaacs, first Mar- 
quess of, 86, 89, 165, 206, 214, 21S 
Reay, Lord, Governor of Bombay, 24, 
25, 26, 28 
Reay, Lady, 25 
Reid, Airs. Whitclaw, 102 
Remach, Salomon, 43 
Religion 
origins of, 169 

and two kinds of apprehensible 
human experience, 170 
See also Islam 
Rctmcll, Lord, 58 
Renoir, 105 

Reszke, Jean de, smger, 107 

Rewa, Maharajah of, 214 

Reza Shah Pahlevi, of Persia, 275-9, 

324 

Ribbentrop, J. von, 267 
Ripon, Lord, Viceroy of India, 28, 193 
Ripon, Lady, 317 
Riviera 
in 1890’s, 41-3 

American visitors to, c. 1907-14, 
111-12 

Robert Missionary College, Constanti- 
nople, 36 

Roberts, Lord, lai 


H7 



indEa 


Robertson, Sir Benjamin, 166 
Rodd, Sir Reimcll. See Remiell, Lord 
Roman Empire, 1 69-70 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 118-19 
Rosebery, Lord, 201 
Rosen, 251 

Rothermere, first Baron, 159 
Rothschild, Baron Edmond de, 150, 
1 5 1-2 

Rothschild, Baron Eugene de, 3 id 
Rothschild, James, 15 1-2 
Rothscliild, Baron Maurice de, 152, 

239 

Roumi, Persian poet, 18, ig, 170 
Round Table Conferences, 83, 91, 295 
first, 213-21 
second, 221-31 
third, 231-4 

Roux, Dr., of the Pasteur Institute, 43 

Roy, K. C., 1 66 

Ruff's Guide to the Turf, 202 

Runciman, Lord, 263 

Russell, Earl, 230 

Russell, Bertrand, Earl, 230 

Russell, Elizabeth Countess, 230-1 

Russell, Mr. Justice, 79-80 

Russia 

splendour of the Court at St. Peters- 
burg, 122-6 

rich and poor in Moscow before the 
Revolution, 126-7 
defeated by Germany at Tannen- 
berg, 134 

position after first Five-Year Plan, 
238-9 

and question of guilt in First World 
War, 250-1 

and the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, 257 
and Persia, 277 
enigma of, 333-4 

Sadruddin, tliird son of Aga Klian, loi, 
207, 231 

St. Isaac, Cathedral of, St. Petersburg, 
125 

St. Mary’s College, Mazagaon, 38 
St. Petersburg, splendour of the 
Rdssian Court at, 122-6 
Salisbury, Lord, 55, 78 
Samuel, Sir Fderbett, Viscount, 85, 222 
San Francisco earthquake, 100 
Sanders, General Liman von, 134 
Sandow System of Physical Culture, 32 


Sankey, Lord, Lord Chancellor, 214 
Sapru, Sir Tej Baliadur, 165, 213, 214, 
218 

Sarajevo, 130 

Sassoon, Reuben and Arthur, 203 
Sastri, Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa, 214, 
218 

Saudi Arabia, 319-20 
Sazunov, 251 

Schacht, Dr. Hjalmar, 317 
Second World War 
Allies enter Persia, 1941, 275-9 
India’s contribution, 289 
impoverishes Britain, 291 
Setalvad, Sir Chimanlal, 214, 218 
Sethna, Sir Phiroze, 214 
Sevres, Treaty of 155, 157 
Shaft, Sir Muhammad, 114, 214, 215, 
228 

Sliah Abbas, cousin of Aga Khan, 34 
Shahzadi Begum, first wife of Aga 
Khan, 33-4, 36, 104 
Shams, Princess, 324 
Shamsuddin, Aga, cousin of Aga IChan, 
19, 20, 30, 31, 36, 192, 196 
Shaukat Ali, Maulana, 115 
Shelley, P. B., 145 

Sliia Muslims, Slda doctrine, 18, 172, 
177-80 

Simon, Sir John, Viscount, 208, 222, 253 
Simon Commission, 208-9, 210, 212- 
13. 216 

Simpson, J. Hope, 166 

Sinclair, Upton, 100 

Sind, separated from Bombay, 229-30 

Sinha, Lord, 153 

Sloan, Tod, 203 

Socrates, 174 

Soul, the, in Islamic doctrme, 177 
South A&ican War, 59 
Spencer, Lord, 55, 86 
Spinoza, 171 
Spottiswoode, Mrs., 316 
Stalin, J., 238 
Stamfordham, Lord, 248 
Stansgate, Lord. See Benn, Wedgwood 
Strachey, Lytton, 54 
Strauss, Richard, iii 
Stravinsky, Igor, 106, 109 
Stresemann, Gustav, 88, 239, 240, 261 
Subbaroyan, Mrs., 214 
Sudeten German problem. See Czecho- 
slovakia 



INDjiX 


Sulfiqar Ali Khan, Sir, 114 
Suiuii Muslims, Sunni doctrine, 172, 
173. 177-S0 

Sykes-Picot agreement, 150 
Syria, IsmaiU sect in, 61 

Talomon, R.ene, 95, 97, 98, 100, loi 
Tanganyika, Indians in, 167 
Tannenberg, battle of, 134 
Tardieu, Andre, 261 
Taylor, J. H., golf champion, 308 
Teck, Duchess of (Marchioness of 
Cambridge), 67 

Templewood, Lord. See Hoarc, Sir 
Samuel 

Terriss, Ellalhic (Lady Seymour Hicks), 
107 

Tesio, Madame, trainer, 199 
Tewflq Pasha, 132, 133 
Thaw, Harry K., loi-a 
Theatre, the, 107-8, 308-9 
Thomas, J. H., 166, 167 
Thorcau, H. D., 100, 223 
Times, The, 142, 153, 159, i6i, 165, 
167, 247, 264, 265 
Times of Inelitt, 129 
Togo, Admiral, 99 
Tolstoy, Count Leo, 223 
Tolstoy, Count, 125 
Tomagno, singer, 107 
Travancore, and the Indian Union, 304 
Tree, Sir Herbert Beerbohm, 107 
Tuberculosis, in Zanzibar, 79 
Tully Stud, 79 
Turf, the. See Horses 
Turkey 

Churchill’s attitude to, 90-1 
and the Balkan Wars, 127-9 
and the First World War, 131-6,141 
dismemberment of Ottoman Em- 
pire, 149-57 

the Treaty of Sevres and the attack 
by Greece, 157-61 
recognition of Ataturk regime by 
Allies, 162-3 
Ismaih sect in, 186-7 
Turner, J. M. W., 105 
Twain, Mark, 32, 100 
Tyebjee, Badruddin, 33 

U.S.S.R. See Russia 
Uganda, Indians in, 167 
Ulema, the, Egyptian Muslim divines, 
140 


Umberto, Khig of Italy, 302 
United Kingdom 
and India. See India 
London in the iSpo’s, 44-5, 53-6 
and East Africa, 58-60, 331 
and Egypt, 60-3, 136-42, 211-12 
and Turkey, 90-1, 127-9, 131-6, 141, 
149-63 passim 
and Japan, 98-9, 246 
and the attempt on Aga Khan's life, 
i^-L 

and disarmament, 240-4 
Abdication of Edward VIII, 247-50 
and the Sino-Japanese War, 253-4 
the British conscience, 259-60 
and the Treaty of Versailles, 260 
and Germany and the Sudeten Ger- 
man problem, 260-4 
and Munich, 250, 264-8 
impoverished by the Second World 
War, 291 

generous nature of transfer of power 
in India, 305 

United States of America 
in 1907, 100-3 

and the Disarmament Conference, 

239 

and Saudi Arabia, 319-20 

Vanderbilt, Mrs. Cornelius, 102 
Vanderbilt, W. K., 112, i94-5> 196. 
197 

Venizelos, 150 

Versailles, Treaty of 153, 162, 250, 
251, 257, 260, 261 

Victoria, Queen, 13, 24, 25, 39, 41, 42, 
45-7. 83, 138, 194. 269, 282, 300 

Waddington, C, W., tutor to Aly 
Khan, 206 

Waddington, Nesbit, 279 
Wafd, the, 284 

Wagner, Richard, 108, no, in, 267 
Walker, Colonel Hall. See Wavertree, 
Lord 

Wall Street crash of 1929, 210 
Warner, Sir William Lee, of the India 
OIEce, 57, 71 

Waterford, Marquess of 193 
Wavell, Field-Marshal Lord, 290, 
297-8, 299 

Waverlcy, Lord. See Anderson, Sir 
John 

Wavertree, Lord, 78-9, 19S 


J49 



INUbX 


Weimar Republic, 162, 339, 240 
“Welcome houses’’, in China, 97-8 
West Africa, 331 
Westminster, first Duke of, 302-3 
Wetherby, Messrs., 194 
Wharton, Edith, 112, 113 
White, Field-Marshal Sir George, 
Conimandcr-in-Chief, India, 39 
White, Stanford, murder of, loi— 3 
Whitman, Walt, 100 
Widerier, Joseph, 19S 
Wigram, Lord, 34S 
Wilde. Oscar, 317 

William II, Kaiser, 49-50, 63, 66-7, 83, 
118. 131, 135, 14s 
Williiigdon Club, Bomb.iy, 52 
Wilson, Woodrow, 14s, 152, 239 
Windsor, Duke of So, 84, 245-8, 
349-50 


Windsor, Duchess of 247, 249 
Witte. 251 

Wolseley, Field-Marshal Lord, 54 
Women of Islam, and the veil, 1S8 
See also Marriage and Divorce 
World Wars. See First World W.ar; 
Second World War 

Yarde-Bullcr, Joan, 312-13 

Zafrullah IGian, Sir Muhammed, 214- 
215, 223 , 321 
Zanzibar 

Sultan of 59, 63 
Ismaili sect in, 59-60 
tuberculosis hi, 79 
Zeid, grandson of Hussein, 179 
Zetland, Lord, 166 
Zionism, 150-2 
Zoroaster, 176 



350