Francis Richard Charles Guy Greville Warwick.

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Memories of Sixty Years

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Memories of Sixty

Years By The Right Honourable

the Earl of Warwick and Brooke

« -

With Eight Plates

Cassell and Company, Ltd

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne




PONDERING the brief records of some of our
forbears, flotsam and jetsam of past centuries,
I have often thought how interested we should
be in their own definite story of their Hves. Had
such autobiographies been written, we might have
possessed to-day a picture of social and political
England as seen and set down through the long
years by men who were actually a part of the
Government machinery of the time. To have
studied their opinions in the light of our own would
have been more than a recreation, it would have
been an education.

Those of us who are already in our seventh
decade and have lived the pleasant, leisured life
of England's privileged classes, must have many
abiding memories, and a certain inclination to share
them, so far as a memory may be shared, with
others. My own recollections of politics, sport,
social life and travel, though varied, may be of
Mttle general interest, but I think they owe a certain
significance to the changing conditions of the present
time. I cannot see far ahead, but I can see a long
way behind, and the conclusion forced upon me



is that my sons and grandsons will have nothing
like the good time I have enjoyed. The long- estab-
lished order of things has been growing old with
me, and the Great War has dug its grave. The
position of the Conserv^ative landlord, often difficult
and always fluctuating, is becoming harder than
ever ; the flood tide of taxes, local and imperial,
threatens to submerge him ; he will, I fear, be
succeeded by men to whom the land can convey no

Looking back, I see that I have been able through-
out my life to choose my duties as I chose my plea-
sures, and that I have always taken those I liked
best. I don't think my tenants will say that I
have been a bad, inconsiderate, or even indifferent
landlord. The electors who sent me to the House
of Commons, first for East Somerset and then for
Colchester, will not charge me with having neglected
their interests. In both my own and my wife's
native county I have carried out official duties as
long and as faithfully as I can, and for the rest I
have lived in such fashion as seemed most agreeable
to me, summoned to the farthest corners of the
earth by the lure of sport, the promise of adventure,
the prospect of finding the El Dorado that lies
across the seas, and convinced that a good day's
fishing or shooting is second in point of pleasure
to nothing on earth. So it has been with many of



my own generation, and so it may not continue.
An era closes with me ; of tliis I am well assured.
I thank the gods who ordained that my lines should
be cast in such pleasant places and, for the most part,
throughout such tranquil times. I am happier to
have been born when I was than I would be to be
born to-day. Ill-health for a good many years has
been my lot, and I owe my ability to complete
this book to the ministrations of mv skilled £*nd
resourceful nurse, but when I balance good luck
with bad I think I have little reason to complain.
Memoirs demand discretion, and I have en-
deavoured while mentioning dear friends and close
associates to avoid saying anything to which the
most sensitive could take exception ; in other words,
I have been intent upon minding my own business.
I never made a note or kept a diary, so I must ask
to be forgiven if at times my story is not governed
by sequence. Only when ill-health denied me active
exercise did I contemplate the making of this book,
urged to it by a friend, a man of letters who does not
wish me to couple his name with the thanks I express
here and now for valuable assistance. My memory
for events is good, it does not stretch as far as dates,
and this failing has hampered me from time to time
in endeavouring to present a strictly consecutive
narrative. Curious that while I was regretting the
absence of the memoirs of those who preceded me



I should have given no tlioiight to the preparation
of my own.

If I have persevered it is partly because I would
like to inaugurate in my family the fashion of memoir-
making. I will confess, too, that some of the in-
cidents of travel and sport are so real, even after
the lapse of years, and the passing of the old activity,
that I do not wish them to die with me. I seek
to give them a fresh lease of life in the memory of
those who have cared for me and will remain behind,
and I dedicate them to my wife and to my children.

August, 1917.



1. Early Days ......

2. Oxford Days and Sporting Memories .

3. Courtship, Marriage, akd Early Years of

Married Life .....

4. Memories of Parliament, Politics, and Free

masonry ......

5. Some Shooting Memories

6. Fishing Days in England, Scotland, Ireland

AND Scandinavia ....

7. The English Landowner

8. A Sporting Visit to Florida .

9. A Visit to Mexico .....

10. A Visit to Mexico {continued)

11. My Journey to East Africa .

12. Lord-Lieutenant of Essex and Mayor of

Warwick : Some Aspects of Rural Life

13. Random Memories of People and Places

'14. Random Memories of People and Places
{continued) ......

15. Memories — Chiefly of the Reigning House

16. Round the Entrance Hall at Easton .
Index .......










The Earl of Warwick at Careysville


Lord Warwick as Colonel of the Warwickshire page
Yeomanry ....... 24

The Countess of Warwick .

Warwick Castle from the Avon .

The Earl of Warwick's House, Oajaca
The El Oro Mine, Mexico .





Lord Warwick addressing Natives on Mount

Kenia, East Africa . . . . .194

The Earl of Warwick, Lord-Lieutenant of Essex 204

A Corner of the Entrance Hall, Easton Lodge 304

Memories of Sixty Years



I WAS born on the 9th February, 1853, at 7, Carlton
Gardens. My paternal grandfather was still alive,
though he had but another year to live, and when
he died my father inherited and settled at Warwick.
My very earliest memory, vague and shadowy
enough, is of the visit of Queen Victoria and the
Prince Consort in 1858 to Warwick Castle, when
they came to Warwickshire to open the Aston
Hall at Birmingham. I know that I had to present
a bouquet to the Queen, and that she kissed me and
my brother Alvvyne, who was just one year my
junior, our birthdays coming on the same day.
Doubtless Alwyne and I were duly honoured, but
my baby brother in arms, Louis, whom her Majesty
tried to kiss, resented the attention bitterly, screamed,
struggled, and finally, I regret to say, blew bubbles.
I can't recollect the incident myself, but have
often heard my mother tell the story. While going
over the Castle with the Queen, my mother brought
her to her new boudoir then in course of being
finished. My mother's kinswoman, old Lady Mcx-
borough, was with us, and the Queen, who knew
she was even older than she looked, said to her
very kindly : " Please sit down." Lady Mex-
borough thereupon sat down on one of the new


2 Memories of Sixty Years

and incomplete chairs tliat had not been seated,
and her partial disappearance was very swift and
dramatic. Queen Victoria's strict sense of decorum
was not quite proof against the incident.

Only one other contretemps threatened the
harmony of the proceedings. The housekeeper at
Warwick was a very stately old dame, and she
was sliowing Queen Victoria some of the Castle
collection. Among the things of historic interest
are the target, the pistols and the claymore of the
unfortunate man to whom the housekeeper referred
as " Prince Charlie." " Ah," said Queen Victoria
a little dryly, " you mean of course the Pretender ? "
The old lady bridled up at once. " We don't call
him that in our family, your Majesty," she replied.
My mother's ancestor. Lord Elcho, had fought at
Culloden for Prince Charlie.

I cannot remember much of the early years,
but I know I was a very delicate lad, and the pros-
pects of rearing me were considered small. Not
until I was twelve years old was I strong enough
to go to a preparatory school for Eton. The place
selected was at Chalfont St. Giles, and I was sent
away in charge of the butler. I remember him
quite well, a stout, red-faced man who had been
one of the barbers in the town of Warwick for some
years. IMy father used to employ him, and he,
being skilled in his trade, improved all possible
occasions so well that when the butler's place was
open my father offered it to him. We went to
Slough by train, for that was as far as the railway
service was available. At Slough the butler took
me into a refreshment-room where he bought beer
and cigars. He gave me a glass of beer and a cigar
and then hired a cab to take us on our seven-mile

Early Days 3

journey to Chalfont. As soon as the cab started
we both smoked. The windows were closed, I
had never smoked a cigar before, and soon felt
that the end of the world must be very near at
hand. When we arrived at the school-house the
master and matron, who received me, wondered
audibly why a poor lad should have been sent to
them packed apparently in stale smoke, and in
a dying condition.

For a delicate boy, life at Chalfont St. Giles
had its drawbacks. I can remember that when
I had been there a fortnight I was compelled to
climb a tall spruce fir in the grounds. Jim Dun-
combe was in charge of the performance. He
carried a long stick with a lady's hatpin tied to
the end of it, and followed me as far as he thought
advisable. Then when the tree-top was beginning
to sway he stopped and applied the stick and hat-
pin with skill and effect so that I went up perilously
high. However, I came down without accident and
full of an affection for ^lother Earth that I had
never known before.

My next trial came with an instruction to
challenge some lad to a fight. The boy's name
was Phillip Allen, and oddly enough his father
was the member for East Somerset, a constituency
I was destined to represent in years to come.
Reggie Buncombe (Lord Helmsley) was, I remember,
my second — in the course of time his son was to
marry my daughter and meet a soldier's death
on the fields of France. I fought and won, for
though I was slighter than my opponent I knew
something about boxing. I was told after that
the " Head " was an interested spectator. He held
that fair fighting was the foundation of friendship,

4 Memories of Sixty Years

and his judgment in this instance was certainly

With my victory the worst of the bullying came
to an end as far as I was concerned. But there
were a few trying experiences left for me to undergo.
Fenimore Cooper, author of " The Last of the
Mohicans " and other thrilling books, was the school-
boys' hero in the 'sixties, and our games were
modelled upon incidents he described. The big
lads were trappers, and the smaller ones were
Indians, or the game might be played the other
way round. In any case there were bows and
arrows in active use, rings of fire, and several forms
of torture. Needless to add that it was not the
big boys who suffered the torments. I suppose a
certain measure of hardening is good for the average
high-spirited lad, but whether I did not get rather
more than is indicated in the case of a delicate
boy is at least an open question. I can remember
that I felt no pangs when my father told me I was
to leave Chalfont St. Giles for Eton.

My career there was brief, but not altogether
inglorious. Taking Upper Fourth on my arrival
got my preparatory school a holiday. The re-
collections of that time are very shadowy. Dr.
Balston was headmaster, De Rosens was my
" Dames," and Woolley Dodd was my tutor. I
can remember few of my contemporaries.

The end came in a moment. It was winter,
and Barnes Pool was flooded. Of course somebody
made a bet with me that 1 would not jump in,
just as I stood on the bank, and swim across.
Naturally I accepted the challenge, and I won
the bet. But the price of victory was double-
pneumonia. Life and death tossed up for me, and

Early Days 5

though the former called successfully, it carried
off very feeble material. My lungs were in a
delicate state, so I had to take them to the South
of France, in company with a tutor, and there
combine the recovery of health with the gaining
of knowledge. At the age of seventeen 1 had
gained sufficient strength to go to Brackenbury's
at Wimbledon— a military school where I could
play football, always my favourite game. Un-
fortunately I went out skating when I should have
stayed at home, congestion of the lungs followed,
and once more I was ordered abroad and continued
to avoid a strenuous life until at the age of nineteen
I entered Christ Church College, Oxford. My rooms
were in the Canterbury Quadrangle, my immediate
neighbours were Lord Gage, Lord Darnley, and
Mr. Walter Long. Prince Leopold, afterwards Duke
of Albany, was up there then, and we formed a
friendship that lasted as long as he lived. Another
particular friend was a son of Harcourt of Nune-
liam, brother of the member for Oxford, Sir William

I was up at Christ Church for two years, and
if I did any hard work during that period it has
quite escaped my memory. But I did have a
good time of which I will write at greater length
in the succeeding chapter. Most lads in easy cir-
cumstances and peaceful years probably do much
the same ; in any case I've no apologies to offer.
I kept two hunters and lent them to friends on
days when I couldn't go out myself. Does any-
body but an idiot lend hunters quite light-heartedly
to anyone who may desire them ? My rooms were
above the Dean's garden, so at the proper season
of the year Harcourt and I made a ladder of bell

6 Memories of Sixty Years

pulls and napkins, fastened one end to my dining-
table, and made straight for the Dean's mulberry
tree. \Vhen the Dean went in the fullness of time
to his favourite tree he found a serious shortage
of everything but cigarette ends — and he did not
smoke. There might have been trouble, but Har-
court was loersona grata with the family, and particu-
larly with one of the Dean's daughters. His father
disapproved of his marrying so young and sent
him to America for a year, during which time I
played the part of postman and helped the lovers
to exchange messages. He came back when the
year was over, obstacles were brushed aside, all
consents were won, there was a formal engagement,
and then the poor girl died quite suddenly — a terrible
tragedy. My friend never married, and Nuneham
is the possession of Sir WilHam's son, the descendant
of an ancient line who has earned a peerage quite

I remember that the Dons set themselves against
Commemoration festivities — the season of ball and
party and general liberty — and in my second year
I found myself in trouble. There was a ball at
University College, and I was there. The wife
of the Dean of Christ Church asked me, somewhere
about midnight, if I had leave, and I told her I
hadn't applied, thinlcing it wasn't necessary. Then
she kindly said that she would take me home in
her carriage to save any bother, and so I returned
with her and her daughters at 4 a.m. — a full
carriage with plenty of concealment by the ladies'

A few hours later I was sent for and asked if I
had been out late over night. Naturally I declined
to commit myself or anybody else. The Dean

Early Days 7

said mine was a serious offence, and I must be
rusticated — only a few days remained to the end
of the term. I remembered in that moment how
my father had remarked that I did not seem to
be doing much good at Oxford, so I took a bold
line and told the Dean that if I was to be rusticated
for something I could not regard as an offence,
I should take my name off the books. Doubtless
this confirmed the sentence ; he was as good as
his word and I kept mine. I returned home and did
not talk.

Shortly afterwards, my father, walking down St.
James's Street, was met by Lord Tweedmouth, who
expressed his concern that my father's son, like his
own, should have got into trouble. My father there-
upon naturally demanded explanations, but I could
not feel I was as guilty as Edward Marjoribanks,
who had been helping to burn statuary at Christ
Church I

Outside the even tenor of my Oxford way only
one incident comes back to me, and that is the great
fire at Warwick Castle. My father, already an
invalid, was at Torquay. My mother was with me
in town arranging for my coming of age celebrations.
The rejoicings were to be on a large scale, and I
was looking forward to them with all the ardour
of a young man. Then one morning there came to
our house in town. Lord Leigh, the Lord-Lieutenant
of Warwickshire, with the grave news that the
Castle was burning, and that my youngest brother
Sydney and my only sister Eva, small children
both, had had the narrowest escape, being ^^com-
pelled to crawl over a roof to reach safety. The
fire had apparently broken out in my mother's
dressing-room, where workmen had been making

8 Memories of Sixty Years

certain alterations. The roof was burnt off the
great hall, and molten lead lay on the marble floor.
All the modern part of the Castle, including our old
schoolrooms, was gutted, but the Castle walls and
the older parts of the interior withstood the flames.
There was no efficient provision against fire, the
water used had to be pumped up from the river
far, far below. Many of the valuable relics of
past times were carried out of the Castle, deposited
on the lawn or thrown into the Avon, and in this
way much of the old armour was preserved. But
the damage was deplorably heavy, and involved
our family in very serious losses. In a moment I
saw all my plans and hopes for the coming of age
festivities brought to an end ; a match dropped
carelessly by someone had in all human probability

My mother and I went down to Warwick very
sadly ; the only satisfaction she knew was that my
father had been spared the shock of being present
at the destruction, and that my brother and sister
were at least safe and sound. As we entered the
Castle our old housekeeper, whose gifts as a pre-
server of good things were quite remarkable, came
to my mother in great distress. " Oh, my Lady,"
she began, " isn't it terrible ? Oh my jam ! Oh
my jam ! " And she burst into loud and bitter

I might mention that, following the Castle fire,
steps were taken to improve conditions and reduce
risks ; yes, it was late in the day, but better late
than never. The provision now is ample, the water
of the Avon is controlled by electric pumps, and it
is possible to throw a jet from the river level one
hundred and fifty feet over the Castle. I was testing

Early Days 9

the hose and the arrangements for its use one day
lately by the river side, when I saw on an island
facing the Castle, about one hundred yards from
where I stood, one of our Japanese cranes, a vicious
and murderous bird, attacking the nest of a harmless
moorhen. I happened to know that the nest con-
tained half-fledged chicks. Before I could take any
action he had picked up one fledgehng, shaken it
hard, and swallowed it whole. I asked the fireman
to hand me the hose, and with it I had a shot at the
crane with the full force of the engines behind the
jet. I got in a good sprinkling at the first attempt,
but that did not serve. The crane shook himself
a little angrily and attacked the nest again. I took
more careful aim, hit my mark fairly and squarely
and knocked the crane over on to his back. There-
upon he concluded that fledgeling moorhens were not
worth what they cost, and walked off. I hope that
the electric pump and hose will never be called upon
to serve a more serious purpose.

Between the Eton and Oxford days at the time
when I was beginning to discover how pleasant
life can be, I had an amusing experience. I was
staying at Warwick House, St. James's, our London
home, with my mother, and one afternoon her
cousin, Lady Granville, wife of the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, called to see us. She asked my
mother if she could come to a reception and ball
to be given at the Foreign Office a couple of nights
later. My mother said she would be pleased to
attend, and Lady Granville, turning to me, said,
" Would you like to bring your mother, Brookie ? "
Of course I said I'd be delighted, and when Lady
Granville had gone my mother told me I must get
a Court dress, as ordinary evening dress could not

10 Memories of Sixty Years

be worn at a State function. If I am not mistaken
the privilege of appearing in purely conventional
costume used to be limited to the American Am-
bassador. Well, I didn't like the idea of going to
a Foreign Office ball any the less because I could
dress up, so I went to Nathan's in the Hay market,
and told them to send me a couple of Court costumes
to choose from. The dresses arrived on the evening
of the ball, and a footman spread them out for
my choice. One was a black velvet affair with lace
and knee breeches, the other was dark blue with a lot
of gold. So I chose the latter ; it was a capital
fit, and we went off to the Foreign Office where
guests were arriving by the score, and the great
marble staircase leading to the reception rooms
was crowded. Distinguished men, beautiful women,
pretty girls, a blaze of light and jewels, stirring
music, and the electric atmosphere of social London
at its brightest and best, there is no need to tell
how pleased I felt. Relations and friends came
up to me and congratulated me on coming to my
first great function, and upon the striking dress
I wore. I remember Lady Airlie introducing me
to her daughters, one of whom became the mother
of Mrs. Winston Churchill. The first dance was
a quadrille, and I was about half through with it
when somebody tapped me on the shoulder. It
was my kinsman. Lord Hardinge. " Hallo, Brookie,"
he said very cordially, but, I thought, a little sar-
castically, " what are you doing here in that smart
uniform ? What is it ? " " Court dress," I replied
innocently. " Court dress ! " he replied. " Look
over there at Granville and that group of Foreign
Office men. Do you see they're all watching you ? "
I looked and saw it was true enough. " What's

Early Days ii

the matter ? " 1 whispered. " You've put your
foot in it, my boy," he rephed kindly enough.
"You're wearing full Ambassador's uniform." And
so saying he left me to my fate. That was "soon
decided. As soon as the quadrille was over and I
could dispose of my partner, I put my cocked hat
under my arm and fled as fast as I could, leaving
my mother unattended. My boyish imagination
pictured a State Trial and saw my head, like the
heads of so many of my forbears, paying the ultimate
penalty. Happily Lord Granville was quite satisfied
by my prompt departure, and beyond a little chaff
I heard no more of the matter, except that Lord
Hardinge sent me a caricature of myself in my
splendid dress.

An odd incident occurred many years later.
I was dining in New York with some American
friends and something said about Ambassadors'
uniform reminded me of the story I have just set
down, and I told the company about it. Among
the guests was a brother-in-law of Mr. Roosevelt,
Mr. Robinson I think was his name, and he told
us that he once found himself in London with an
invitation to Court and no Court dress. He, too,
went to Nathan's. Unfortunately, the clothes fitted
him tightly, and when he made his bow to Royalty
his nether garment refused to stand the strain, and
a seam split ruthlessly and noisily. He retired
carefully if not gracefully without any delay, and
declined an invitation to a State Ball at Buckingham
Palace on the following night, because he did not
know what evil trick a hired Court dress might elect
to play upon a Republican who dared to masquerade
in such inappropriate costume.



THE glamour of Oxford passed me by; I did
not approach it with the romantic enthusiasms
of so many young men. For all the beauty
of its colleges, for all the attraction of the river, I

Online LibraryFrancis Richard Charles Guy Greville WarwickMemories of sixty years → online text (page 1 of 24)