Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/658

This page needs to be proofread.

previously been made G.C.B. In his new post he was called upon to deal with numerous embarrassing disputes arising out of conflicting colonial claims and interests. The themes included the rights of fishery enjoyed by the French in the waters and on the coast of Newfoundland, the exercise of jurisdiction in the New Hebrides, and questions of boundary and spheres of influence in East and West Africa. Monson, calm and judicial by temperament, and grave and courteous in manner, avoided unnecessary irritation, and was personally much liked by the French ministers and officials with whom he was brought in contact. In June 1898 he signed a convention for the delimitation of the possessions and spheres of influence of the two countries in the region of the Niger. Later in the same year Lord Kitchener in his progress up the Nile, after the final defeat of the Dervishes at Omdurman, discovered that a French exploring party from the Congo under Captain Marchand had established themselves on the bank of the river at Fashoda and there hoisted the tricolor, which Captain Marchand refused to lower except on instructions from home. An acute controversy ensued, which at one time seemed likely to lead to very serious results. More moderate counsels, however, prevailed. Captain Marchand's party was withdrawn, and in March 1899 a declaration was signed in London defining the respective spheres of influence of the two countries in central Africa, which disposed of this subject of dispute. Monson's management of his share in the discussions was unexceptionable. But in December 1898, while the question was still awaiting final solution, he caused no little commotion by a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the British chamber of commerce in Paris, in which, after some frank comments on the novel methods recently practised in diplomacy, he expressed his conviction that neither in France nor in Great Britain was there any deep-rooted feeling of animosity against the other country, and made an earnest appeal to those in France who 'were directly or indirectly responsible for the national policy to abstain from the continuance of a policy of pin-pricks which, while it could only procure some ephemeral gratification to a short-lived ministry, must inevitably perpetuate across the Channel an irritation which a high-spirited nation must eventually feel to be intolerable.' It was naturally supposed by many that this utterance was the result of some instructions from home, but it may safely be asserted that to the British cabinet it came as unexpectedly as to the public at large. It had, however, no evil effects. The allusion to the brief duration of French ministries was made the subject of interpellation and attack in the French chamber of deputies, and it was a striking tribute to Monson's popularity that his defence was warmly and successfully undertaken by the French government, and that the incident in no degree affected his position. He remained at Paris till the end of 1904, and had the satisfaction of seeing a general settlement of the principal questions at issue between the two countries affected by the agreements signed in London in the spring of that year (8 April 1904). He had received the honorary degree of D.C.L. of Oxford University in 1898 and that of LL.D. of Cambridge in 1905, acted in 1900 as one of the British commissioners for the Paris exhibition of 1900, was made G.C.V.O. in 1903, and was created a baronet on his retirement (23 Feb. 1905), being granted also by King Edward VII as a personal favour the use of the 'Thatched House Lodge' in Richmond Park. He also received from the French government the grand cross of the legion of honour. After much ill-health he died in London on 28 Oct. 1909, and was buried in the family mausoleum adjoining South Carlton church near Lincoln.

Monson married in 1881 Eleanor Catherine Mary, daughter of Major Munro, who had held the office of British consul-general at Monte Video, and had by her three sons. A portrait by the Hungarian artist, Beremy, was subscribed for by Monson's colleagues at Paris, but the painter became bankrupt and the picture disappeared.

[The Times, 30 Oct. 1909; Foreign Office List, 1910, p. 417; papers laid before Parliament.]


MONTAGU, Lord ROBERT (1825–1902), politician and controversialist, born at Melchbourne, Bedfordshire, on 24 Jan. 1825, was second son of George Montagu, sixth duke of Manchester, by his first wife, Millicent, daughter and heir of Brigadier-general Bernard Sparrow of Brampton Park, Huntingdonshire. Educated privately, he graduated M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1849.

In April 1859 he was returned as a conservative M.P. for Huntingdonshire, and held the seat in successive parliaments till February 1874. He early made his mark as a speaker, championing church rates and winning the congratulations of Sir Stafford