8th March, 1928


My dear P.M.,

There is not very much new to say about Italy. Relations with all her neighbours are still bad. Mussolini has just made another outburst-this time against Austria, in answer to interpellations in the Austrian Parliament commenting on the rather brutal Italianisation of the part of the Tyrol that Italy got from Austria as a result of the War.

Sir Ronald Graham (H.M. Ambassador at Rome), in recording a conversation with the Austrian Minister in Rome [1], states that the latter informed him confidentially that the funds for keeping alive the propaganda against the Italianisation of the Tyrol were 'supplied from Paris to Munich and Innsbruck'. French diplomacy, for obvious reasons, does not wish this sore between Italy and the German-speaking peoples to close.

The bad feeling between France and Italy sets the tone of Italian foreign relations generally. Italy sees the hand of France everywhere. She both despises and fears France whom she regards as decadent. She imagines France is trying to block her path and to stir up trouble for her everywhere.

The Italo-Albanian Treaty of Tirana [2] was effected by Italy as a countermove to the Franco-Jugoslav Pact. [3] The Foreign Office say that until Briand [4] and Mussolini get together and hatch something better in the way of collaboration, the conversations between Rome and Belgrade will hang fire.

The negotiations regarding Italian Flag Discrimination [5] seem to be getting rather nearer finality. However, the Italians are rather like an Aunt Sally show-as soon as you knock down one particular type of discrimination, they produce another. Just when it all seemed settled lately, they invent a new means of getting people to travel on Italian ships-by giving free consular visas. I suggested to the Foreign Office that when the final exchange of notes takes place, we should add a protocol to the effect that- everything else to the contrary notwithstanding, neither side shall indulge in any more dirty tricks, whether in mind at the time of signing this instrument or subsequently adumbrated!

The Zinovief letter incident [6] has been reopened as a result of the 'Francs' case [7], and the Labour Party are pressing in Parliament for a thorough enquiry. The Government would not be unwilling to have such an enquiry as they would like to lay the ghost as much as anyone. However, they are unwilling to do so by reason of the fact that the Zinovief letter came into the possession of His Majesty's Government through a Secret Service source, and they cannot run the risk of exposure to the light of day of this necessary source of information.

An awkward twist has been given to the whole Zinovief business by a most ill-timed letter from Marlowe [8], late Editor of the 'Daily Mail', to the 'Observer' of last Sunday (March 4th), in which he exposes the story of how copy of the letter came into the possession of the 'Daily Mail' and the use they made of it. He evidently wrote the letter to prove that the 'Daily Mail' had paid no money for the letter. What he achieved was a demonstration of the obvious fact that someone in a Government Department had given him early news by telephone of the existence of the letter and presumably had afterwards let him have a copy of it. If the Labour Party are in course of making it difficult for His Majesty's Government to avoid another nasty enquiry, His Majesty's Government will then have to put the thumbscrews on Marlowe by a judicious use of the Official Secrets Act.

In conversation with Amery [9] a few days ago, he said that he had talked to Mackenzie King [10] about Canadian diplomatic representation abroad. The latter said that his object was to have one Canadian Minister in Europe (i.e. at Paris) and one in Asia (i.e. at Tokyo). The man in Paris would act in general as Canadian representative at League meetings at Geneva. The Tokyo Minister could go to Peking when necessary. He did not, he said, propose to make any more such appointments. However, Amery is not satisfied that the blandishments of Germany and Italy will not be too much for future Canadian Governments and he thinks that the system may grow. Amery has no illusions but that the whole scheme is one of capitalising on national pride.

One can now telephone from one's office in London to America with ease, and the cost has been reduced to 9 for three minutes.

Several men I know have done so lately and they say that you can hear as well as any normal call in the London area. As I have a few pertinent questions to ask the man who looks after my small affairs there, I propose to telephone him next week.

D'Abernon [11] when in Berlin used to say to his staff at intervals, especially when they brought him very long memoranda to read: 'Why do people try to make papers comprehensive? All they should be is comprehensible.' Sir Nevill Smyth [12] used to make a similar remark during the war-to the effect that no paper should be more than three pages long-any subject can be covered in that space-with all the detail in appendices.

Recollection of these wise remarks makes me wonder if I am not an offender. But I must plead (like Dr. Johnson, I think) that my letters are long because I haven't time to write shorter ones.

Mrs. Amery was lately looking at some of the gifts that had come her way during their tour, including a diamond given her in South Africa and some sapphires from Queensland, when her small but precocious son of eight said: 'There may be disadvantages in being the wife of a Colonial Minister, but there also seem to be some pickings.'

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Dr Lothar Egger.

2 Treaty of Defensive Alliance between Albania and Italy, signed at Tirana on 22 November 1927.

3 Treaty of Friendly Understanding between France and Yugoslavia, signed at Paris on 11 November 1927. Much less binding than the Albania-Italy treaty, according to which the signatories pledged armed support if attacked, under the Franco-Yugoslav treaty, despite verbiage amounting almost to a caricature of the League of Nations Covenant, the parties agreed merely to refrain from attacking each other and to consult if attacked by a third party.

4 Aristicle Briand, French Foreign Minister.

5 See note 5 to Letter 83.

6 See notes 21-23 to Letter 93.

7 See Letters 92 and 93.

8 Thomas Marlowe, editor of the Daily Mail 1899-1926.

9 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

10 William Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister.

11 Lord D'Abernon, Ambassador to Germany 1920-26.

12 Maj Gen Sir Nevill Smyth, V.C., an Englishman, commanded Australian troops at Gallipoli and in France; he retired to Victoria in 1924.