Albert Henry George Grey Grey.

Hubert Hervey, student and imperialist; a memoir online

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" Only believe in your idea, and it will carry you
through every difficulty. If you live, you will do great
things; if you die — well! how can you die better? and
your idea will not die." — Hubert Hervey.



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" // is a grand thing to die for the expansion of the Empire '

Hubert Hervey



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My knowledge of Hubert Hervey during the
last few years of his short career, when he was
serving the British South Africa Chartered Com-
pany, first in their London offices, and subsequently
in responsible administrative posts in Ehodesia,
led me to regard him as one of the most chivalrous
and high-minded men it has been my privilege
to meet ; and I have readily responded to a request
made to me by his sister, on the suggestion of
many of his friends, to write this short memoir.
The deep sympathy I felt for Miss Hervey in
the sudden termination of one of the most inspir-
ing relationships that ever bound brother and
sister together also made it difficult for me to
refuse a task which I was aware it was not easy
to perform in a manner worthy of the memory
of Hubert Hervey, or satisfactory to his family.

When the memoir, which originally was intended
for private circulation only, was nearing comple-



tion, it was represented to me that the story of
Hervey's life might prove an encouragement to
others ; and, in deference to this suggestion, I have
given my consent to its publication. It contains,
on the one hand, much which might with advan-
tage be eliminated from a memoir intended for
the public ; on the other hand, it presents many
deficiencies, which his friends will easily fill up
from their recollections. For such was the wealth
of Hervey's individuality, that he left to all who
were acquainted with him an abundant store of
memories — varied, original, and characteristic.

But the attraction of his personality was rooted
in the yet deeper strata of great principles and
high ideals.

And it is with the desire that this brief record
may in some degree perpetuate the memory of
an Englishman, whose inspiring example has been
too soon removed from our midst, that I place
these pages before the public.




Preface v

Chap. I. Eton and Cambridge i

II. Dreams in London 19

III. In the Chartered Company's Office . . 41

IV. En Route for the Frontier .... 62
V. The Matabele War 80

VI. At Work under Jameson 96

VII. The Second Matabele War . . . .123
VIII. The Last Fight 133

Appendix 147


Portrait of Hubert Hervey .... Frontispiece
Memorial Bronze in Bulawayo Hospital . To face page 1

Hubert Hervey's Grave 134

Brass Tablet in Sandringham Church .... 146




There is a tendency, in the present day, which
exhibits itself in literature, in conversation, and
even in thought, to assume that those finer feelings
which were once regarded as the heritage of our
race are becoming extinct, or, at most, are kept
alive by sordid motives. Chivalry is dubbed
Quixotism ; honour is sneered at as sentimentality ;
and patriotism is too often attributed to a mere
desire for personal aggrandizement.

Nevertheless, at home and abroad, we daily
receive proofs that there still exist, hi every part
of our vast empire, men who are inspired by those
sentiments and ambitions which have contributed
to make England what she is, and without which
no nation can become or can remain great.



From time to time, there rises up a life in which
these nobler instincts seem gathered together and,
as it were, typified. The ideal which appeared
remote or unpractical is made real to us by a
living example. The mean and the transitory
fade away, and those larger issues of our national
existence, which may be obscured but cannot
be obliterated, resume their true proportions in
the presence of a life devoted to their service.

Hubert John Antony Hervey was a man of
this type. Born on May 19, 1859, at 47, Eaton
Place, he was the youngest son of Lord and Lady
Alfred Hervey ; grandson of Frederick William,
first Marquess of Bristol ; great-grandson of the
clever but eccentric Bishop of Derry (Lord Bristol) ;
and great-great-grandson of John Lord Hervey, the

From his mothers side he inherited military
proclivities. His grandfather, General Chester of
the Horse Artillery, served in the Peninsular War ;
his uncle, Colonel St. Leger (then Chester), was
dangerously wounded at Sobraon in the Sikh War
of 1846 \

The earliest years of Hubert Hervey 's childhood

1 Mr. Charles Chester, grandfather of Lady Alfred Hervey, was
the second son of Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot, and brother of the


were spent in Ireland, at Castle Upton, the home
of his father's cousin, Lord Templetown.

In 1864, one of Hubert's elder brothers, a boy
of brilliant promise, who had passed into the Navy
at the head of all competitors, died of fever in
his sixteenth year whilst serving on the Mediter-
ranean station.

A year and a half later, Lord Alfred Hervey,
having lost his seat in Parliament in the General
Election of 1865, decided to abandon politics and
to spend some time abroad 1 . In the spring
of 1866 he took his family to France, paying
periodical visits to England for his waitings
on the Prince of Wales, or as other occasions

During their stay in France, Lord and Lady
Alfred Hervey travelled with their two youngest

first Lord Bagot. Mr. Charles Chester changed his name from
Bagot to Chester on inheriting the estate of Chicheley, Bucks.

1 Lord Alfred Hervey represented in Parliament the borough of
Brighton from 1841 to 1857. He was a member of Lord Aberdeen's
Government, holding under it the offices of a Lord of the Treasury
and Keeper of the Privy Seal of the Duchy of Cornwall. From 1859
to 1865 he sat in Parliament for the borough of Bury St. Edmunds.
In 1852, on the formation of the Prince of Wales' household, he
was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber, resigning this office in
1871, on being appointed by Mr. Gladstone, whom he had steadily
supported while in Parliament, Receiver-General of Inland Revenue.
Lord Alfred Hervey died in April, 1875.

B 2


children, Hubert and his sister Mary, in a light
covered waggonette driven by Lord Alfred, through
Brittany and Normandy ; then down the west of
France by Angers, Saumur, Bordeaux and Bayonne
to Biarritz, where they wintered ; passing the
early half of 1867 in the Pyrenees at Bagneres-de-
Bigorre, the winter again at Biarritz, and returning
to England in the spring of 1868.

Although only eight years old, and at this time
small for his age, Hubert, who had fine, silky,
golden hair and a brilliant complexion, was remark-
able for his intelligent and serious appreciation of
the architectural beauties of the churches he visited ;
for his passionate love of wild flowers, and his
lynx-eyed detection of new specimens ; and also for
a certain sedateness of manner, which gave peculiar
distinction to his little personality. Beneath this
sedateness there was, however, a deep though care-
fully subdued enthusiasm. A spectator, of whom
he was unconscious, recollects to this day the rapt
gaze with which he stood before the statue of
the Chevalier Bayard, when passing through
Paris early in 1868. He was then in his ninth

In January, 1870, Hubert was placed at Mr.
Darch's preparatory school at Brighton ; and in


September, 1871, he went to Eton to Mr. Lux-
moore's house. A quick and continual succession
of new faces naturally tends to dull a tutor's
recollection of old pupils, but so marked was the
individuality of young Hervey, that Mr. Luxmoore
writes of him to-day, at a distance of over twenty-
five years, as if he were still at Eton.

' Hubert Hervey came to me in September, 1871;
he was then twelve years and a few months old,
and would be by a year and a half younger than
most of our boys at entrance. . . . His room
was the third from that in which I am now writing,
and I can see him quite plainly, and hear the
tones of his voice. He was small and delicate-
looking when he came, and very attractive, partly
for that reason. You would know at once that
he had ability and a refined nature. He was
fair and light in colour, with rather bright hair ;
he spoke with a soft voice in rather a finished
manner. He had humour and something I might
call " style " or distinction. He had intelligent
interests too, and read more than other boys, not
spending perhaps more time on books, but reading
better literature than they. He was placed at
starting in Upper Middle Fourth, which was for
his age good, and was even further improved by


a double remove, so that he was in Remove before
he was thirteen, and by fifteen and a half he was
in Upper Fifth.

' He was certainly a boy of promise, and I can
recollect building many hopes on him and wishing
to do my very best for him. . . . Whatever draw-
backs there were, they never to my knowledge
harmed Hubert. He was a good and high-minded
boy, who seemed, I think, to carry his own atmo-
sphere with him. He may have distinguished
himself less in games than might have been the
case in maturer surroundings, or he may have
been less concentrated on his work ; but his name
comes in the list of those " sent up for good,"
and his place in the school, and some of his
" collection " lists still preserved, show him among
the foremost in all his subjects. He worked well,
and he played with interest if not with distinction,
and he always had the character of a good and
able boy, with remarkable critical faculty, while
not without facility in original production. This
critical faculty was combined with humour, and
his rather finished grace of style made his talk
ready and his answers pointed. He was tenacious
of his opinions, and I can recollect once or twice
being a little disappointed at not finding him more


willing to adopt my view. The disappointment
was not from his fault but from my strong wish
to be friends with, and to make the most of, the
few really promising boys that I then had.

' He was specially good at French. In 1872
he got the Junior Prince Consort's Prize, being
in the same half "sent up" by so good a judge
as Mr. Thackeray ; while in 1874 he was, when
little over fifteen years of age, in the Senior Prince
Consort's Prize List, bracketed second with Lord
Curzon, the present Viceroy of India.

' It was at the end of 1874 that he left. I
remember the announcement of this arrangement
was one of my great disappointments. Had he
stayed at Eton, he would have gained considerable
distinction. I had built hopes on him ; he was
doing well, and I very much doubted whether
any better training would be found for him. For
Woolwich, of course, German had to be mastered ;
and it was thought good to combine that with
other things by carrying on his classical work
through the medium of German ; but to me the
Army then did not seem his most suitable career.
I had looked on him as better suited to civil
employment : partly from the slightness of his
frame, and a certain want of robustness ; partly


from his literary promise and intelligence. I had
not recognised the more spirited qualities which
his after-history showed that he possessed. I have
seen a note of my own written to his father in
that year, and am even now glad ... to see
with what . . . unqualified praise I was able to
speak of him.'

Mr. Luxmoore quotes, as the solitary scrape in
which Hervey was involved at Eton, an incident
which reveals his boyish audacity and humour. 'It
was on November 5, and an edict had been
specially issued against boys letting off fireworks.
In the course of the evening a squib issued from
a window in my house, and the law took its course.'
Hubert justified his conduct on the ground
that he did not wish to leave Eton without
completing the round of his experience !

He left Eton, to Mr. Luxmoore's great regret,
at the end of 1874, and went to Dresden. After
six months' study with a tutor he had mastered
German so tho oughly as to enable him to enter
the Neustadt Gymnasium.

Shortly after he arrived at Dresden, he discovered
that the tutor with whom he had been placed was
given to habits of drinking. Greatly distressed
at this discovery, he solemnly told his tutor that,


unless he mended his ways, he should be obliged
to part company with him. The tutor improved
for a short time, but, breaking out again, he was
promptly dismissed by young Hervey, who wrote
home to his parents to tell them what he had
done. At Dresden he worked hard for over a
year, with longer hours and less exercise than he
had been accustomed to ; but he held his own
against German boys of the same age, doing all
his work in German, and acquiring a reputation
for unusual capacity and finished scholarship.

While at Dresden his father died, and his
mother, influenced by the marked aptitude Hubert
had shown for scholarship, as much as by the
desire to keep him near her, decided to substitute
a University career for the plan of sending him
into the army.

Accordingly, he returned to England, and was
for some time with a private tutor, the Rev. John
Bond \ in Lincolnshire, before going to Trinity
College, Cambridge, in October, 1877.

His most intimate friend at this time was
Mr. Robert J. Parker 2 , whose acquaintance, begun

1 Now Archdeacon of Stow, in the diocese of Lincoln.

2 Now a rising barrister, son of the late Rev. Richard Parker,
Vicar of Clanby, Lincolnshire.


in Dresden, had been continued in Lincolnshire,
where the Parker family were neighbours of the
tutor, Mr. Bond, with whom Hervey was reading.
Mr. Parker writes of these days : —

1 It was while in Dresden that I first really
got to know Hubert. After he left Germany, he
went to a tutor in the Lincolnshire Marsh. We
lived about eight miles away, at Clanby, near
Alford ; and Hubert used to come over, and
frequently stayed with us in vacation time. He
was very fond of my father, and drove with him
about the country, discussing Church politics and
disestablishment. He was always a welcome guest,
and fell at once into our family habits, including
that of arguing on every conceivable subject. . . .

' I don't remember that Hubert ever spoke at
the Union [at Cambridge], but he was often there.
His eyes gave him serious trouble while he was
at Cambridge, which much impeded his work,
though probably he got as much good from taking
more part in the social life of the place as he
would have done had he been able to devote
more time to reading.

' . . . Gerald Balfour was a good deal senior
to either of us. He was in our time a lecturer ;
and Hubert and I both attended his lectures on


the early Greek philosophers, though not, I think,
the same course. I remember we both also
attended Dr. Jackson's lectures on the same subject,
and were much interested in comparing the methods
of the two men. . . .'

Speaking of Hervey's Cambridge friends, Mr.
Parker continues : ' He knew J. K. Stephen 1 and
John Mansfield 2 very well. He was also intimate
with Sir Laurence Jones '-\ Reginald St. John Parry
(now a tutor and dean of Trinity College), and
the late Professor Goodhart of Edinburgh. All
these, except J. K. Stephen, were of Trinity College ;
Stephen was a King's man. Hubert also knew
Karl Pearson of King's 4 . We used to meet in
the rooms of Professor Protheroe, of Bradshaw,
the late University Librarian, and J. E. Nixon,
all Fellows of King's.'

Other Cambridge friends were Atherton Byrom,
Frere, Macnamara, and Reade 5 .

1 The brilliant son of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen. Mr. J. K.
Stephen, the author of Lapsus Calami, died Feb. 3, 1892.

2 The Hon. John Mansfield, brother of Lord Sandhurst, Governor
of Bombay.

3 Sir Laurence Jones, Bart., of Cranmer Hall. Norfolk.

4 Now Professor of Applied Mathematics at University College,
London ; author of The Ethics of Free Thought, The Chances of Death,
and other essays.

5 The two last-named died but a very few years later : Macnamara
in an accident on the Alps, Reade from heart disease.


The boy who at Eton had impressed even his
elders with the distinction of his personality,
carrying as it seemed his ' own atmosphere ' with
him, was not less remarkable at Cambridge for
that originality of mind and character which
belongs to his race, and gave rise to Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu's famous division of the human
species into men, women, and Herveys.

One illustration is sufficient to show his almost
Quixotic sense of honour.

Just before the examination was held for a
Trinity Scholarship, young Hervey, whose success
was anticipated as certain, suddenly left Cam-
bridge, and only returned when the examination
was concluded. His disappearance on the eve of
the examination caused the greatest astonishment
in high quarters. Mr. Munro, the well-known
editor of Lucretius, on meeting Hubert's eldest
brother, the Rev. F. A. J. Hervey 1 , who happened
to be in Cambridge, rushed excitedly across the
street, exclaiming, 'What in the world can have
induced your brother to leave Cambridge just as
that examination was coming on? It was a dead
certainty for him. There was not another man
in, who could approach him.'

1 Rector of Sandringham and Canon of Norwich.


On being pressed for an explanation of his con-
duct, Hubert admitted that some friend had given
him some trifling information, intending it to be
of use to him in the examination. Imagining this
might give him an unfair advantage over his rivals,
his chivalrous sense of honour forbade him to
compete, and he quietly went away. No wonder
that Mr. Oscar Browning, who was a lecturer at
King's during Hervey's residence at Cambridge,
writes of him that his chief characteristics were
directness, straightforwardness, and uprightness of
character, coupled with a moral courage winch
never flinched, and that his personality was one
which was not easily forgotten by those who knew
him. In the opinion of Mr. Oscar Browning,
Hervey's knowledge of modern languages, his
clear business habits, and his unfailing courtesy
qualified him in an exceptional degree for posts
of high responsibility and importance.

At one time Hervey hesitated whether to read
for the History Tripos or the Classical. He had
always taken a deep interest in history ; but
he chose the weightier task and determined to
seek Honours in Classics. The eye-trouble, how-
ever, winch had originated in the close work of
the Dresden Gymnasium, now seriously interfered


with his studies. The inflammatory tendency
troubled him increasingly ; and during the greater
part of his residence at Cambridge, including all
the latter terms, he could only work by being
read aloud to. The burden of reading only by
proxy, and the strain that the break-down of his
sight entailed on his whole nervous system, told
seriously on his health. For a time his eyes were
so troublesome that he had to abandon all study
and go abroad with his mother and sister. But,
with characteristic courage, he determined to per-
sist to the end ; and obtained a Second Class in
the Classical Tripos of 1881. That he should
have been able, working under these serious dis-
advantages, to obtain so good a degree, illustrates
alike his ability and his perseverance.

His early letters have not, of course, the maturity
of later ones, but are interesting illustrations of
his thoughts and occupations at nineteen years
of age.

Whiston, Sept. 8, 1878.

' . . . I have been doing but little reading,' he
writes to Robert J. Parker ; * the only thing I have
read being the Lehrjalire, which I have just finished,
and begun the Wanderjahre. My impression of


the former, as far as it is formed at all, is that it
is a story with total absence of art, but with some
well-drawn characters and some very fine passages
in it. The last especially I like . . . and I am
not at all disappointed with it on the whole : on
the contrary I have learnt an immense deal.
The " Bekenntnisse einer schonen Seele" is perhaps
the finest thing in the book ... I can't say I admire
Wilhelm, he seems a weak fickle sort of creature,
perhaps a little like Rousseau, only not so bad.
The "Leitmotiv" seems to have some connexion
with Faust ; Faust- Wilhelm, Werner- Wagner, the
moral in each being "Bildung" and "Thatigkeit"
and experience from life. Of course as the book
is written for instruction, the want of art is
pardonable. But the book gives one the impres-
sion of a disconnected whole, and one's interest
is drawn first to one side and then to another ;
first being fixed on Wilhelm, and then one gets
so interested in Lothario that one almost forgets
the hero. The introduction, too, of " Bekenntnisse
einer schonen Seele," though splendid in itself,
destroys the continuity of the story, and takes
away one's interest from the main points. It is
curious that Goethe, with all his love of art, should
so often have been deficient in it.'


The Rectory, Sandringham,
Dec. 29, 1878.

' For your scrap of a letter proportionate thanks.
Where are Virchow's and Hackel's speeches to be
found? As for "Evolution" ... it is at best
but a theory, though in some respects a plausible
one ; and Hackel is far more illogical than the
Pope, for the latter professes to be informed by
the Spirit of God, and, if one believes that, one
must also believe in the Pope ; whereas Hackel,
as an atheist, must ipso facto prove conclusively
before he can claim belief. Intolerance and bigotry
are not confined to the Church.'

Paris, Feb. 28, 1879.

'. . . I bought on my way here an ultra-Repub-
lican paper, La Bepublique (not of course La It.
Franpaise), which furiously attacked Waddington
for his foreign policy, saying it was "Anglaise";
and also gave an amusing account of Lord Beacons-
field's policy. The Zulu disaster, it is said, was
trumped up for the purpose of destroying and
disarming the Opposition in England. It had not
really taken place, and would soon be contradicted.
The object was to gain a pretext for sending a
lirge number of troops to Africa, in order to do


there what we had done in India. We had, it
said, annexed Cyprus ; Midhat Pasha was preparing
Syria, Muktar (or whoever is Governor) Crete, for
England ; Egypt would soon be appropriated ; like-
wise (I think) Asia Minor ; we had our emissaries
in Abyssinia ; and soon the whole plot would be
revealed : namely the annexation of Syria, Crete,
Egypt, Suez, and Africa, more or less generally
to the destruction of French interests in those

Mentone, March 12, 1879.

* . . . I am writing to you on a most splendid
day, hot sun, blue sky, with a freshness in the
air that makes walking delightful. In front of the
town the bluest Mediterranean stretches ; behind
rise in immediate vicinity the mountains, in which
the most charming walks abound in all directions.
One wanders through olives, citron and orange
trees laden with yellow and gold fruit, with a
carpet of flowers, violets, primroses, red anemones,
&c, under foot. Isn't that a " schwarmerisch "
description? But this place is really one of the
most lovely I have ever seen. It is almost worth
having bad eyes to have an excuse to come to it.

'Talking about religion (vide your letter), if you



were to come here, you would at once turn into
a Transcendentalist of the deepest dye. Material-
ism, London fog, indigestion, damp weather, and
weakness of the mucous membrane are all closely
connected. But when the moon rises over the
blue sea, casting a bright streak of light across it,
when the stars shine bright, and mountains catch
the moonbeams in the distance — then materialism
seems too cold and wretched. Everything here
is fragrant (even the streets, but these owing to

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Online LibraryAlbert Henry George Grey GreyHubert Hervey, student and imperialist; a memoir → online text (page 1 of 10)