A REPUBLICAN VICTORY AND A NEW MINISTRY
The elections took place in October-November, 1877, and gave at once a great Republican majority. W. and his two colleagues, Count de St. Vallier and Henri Martin, had an easy victory, but a great many of their personal friends, moderates, were beaten. The centres were decidedly weaker in the new Chambers. There was not much hope left of uniting the two centres, Droite et Gauche, in the famous “fusion” which had been a dream of the moderate men.
The new Chambers assembled at Versailles in November. The Broglie cabinet was out, but a new ministry of the Right faced the new Parliament. Their life was very short and stormy; they were really dead before they began to exist and in December the marshal sent for M. Dufaure and charged him to form a Ministere de Gauche. None of his personal friends, except General Borel at the War Office, was in the new combination. W. was named to the Foreign Office. I was rather disappointed when he came home and told me he had accepted that portfolio. I thought his old ministry, Public Instruction, suited him so well, the work interested him, was entirely to his taste. He knew all the literary and educational world, not only in France but everywhere else—England, of course, where he had kept up with many of his Cambridge comrades, and Germany, where he also had literary connections. However, that wide acquaintance and his perfect knowledge of English and English people helped him very much at once, not only at the Quai d’Orsay, but in all the years he was in England as ambassador.
The new ministry, with Dufaure as President of the Council, Leon Say at the Finances, M. de Freycinet at Public Works, and W. at the Foreign Office was announced the 14th of December, 1877. The preliminaries had been long and difficult—the marshal and his friends on one side—the Republicans and Gambetta on the other—the moderates trying to keep things together. Personally, I was rather sorry W. had agreed to be a member of the