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EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

A Memoir by his Mother PAMELA GLENCONNER
WITH PORTRAITS IN PHOTOGRAVURE




LONDON : JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
NEW YORK: JOHN LANE CO. MCMXIX






PRINTED BY WILLIAM



DEDICATION

Emboldened by the thought of Bims spirit of good-fellowship ^
and recalling that his first thought is ever to share his own,
1 would dedicate this Memoir to all those Mothers who have
suffered the same loss. They will forgive the imperfections,
and all I have found good to tell of my son here, they will
fed to be most true of theirs.

May the Light of Comfort shine on them.



2129879




INTRODUCTION

DWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT was
born at Stockton House in Wiltshire, on
the ist July, 1897. He was educated at
West Downs, and then at Winchester,
which he left one year earlier than is cus-
tomary, for it had been decided that he should lodge with
a family in Germany, to learn the language. This was to
be in preparation for the Diplomatic Service ; and so
at the age of seventeen, when the war broke out, he
found himself quit of his school, and free to offer his
service, which he did on the instant, joining the
Grenadier Guards. He has the distinction of being
the youngest Wykehamist to take up arms in defence of
his country, and it became at once evident how con-
genial to him was a soldier's life.

:< Is it any comfort to you," writes a brother officer,
" to know how we all loved him in the regiment ? His
spirits never failed him, and in all the correspondence
sent to the Orderly Room which had any reference to
him, all spoke of him in the highest terms."

'' He was the most loved and popular boy I have ever
known," writes another, " and we shall all feel his loss
terribly. I am sure he died with the same cheerful
courage with which he always lived."

In August, 1915, after a year's training in London,
he went to Bovingdon Green Camp, Marlow, where his

vii



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

company of signallers earned distinction. " My signallers
were inspected yesterday," he wrote to his Mother,
" and I was told by the Captain they did me credit ; I
am very happy about it." On account of his efficiency
as an officer he had the honour of being especially
selected to go out to France, although Brigade Orders
had just been issued that no one should leave England
before nineteen years of age. He served one year in
France, during which time he had two periods of home
leave, and he passed to the Fuller Life in the Battle of
the Somme, on the 22nd September, 1916.

" There are they that have left a name behind them, so
that their praise might be re-ported"



\mi



CONTENTS

MEMOIR :

PACK

DEDICATION . . v

INTRODUCTION . . . . . vii

EARLY CHILDHOOD . . . . . 7

CHILDHOOD . . . . . 21

POETRY WRITTEN IN CHILDHOOD . .31

A HYMN . .35

SPRING ... ... 35

THE LUCKY DREAM . . 36

THE NIGHT ATTACK . 36

FIRELAND . 37

A BIRTHDAY POEM . 38

A BALLAD . 39

THE BALLAD OF MACDONALD AND MACDUFF . 40

THE WISHING WELL . . 41

OBERON . 4 2

THE PLAY OF ROBERT THE BRUCE . . 43

THE GIPSY KING . 43

THE PIRATE KING'S SONG . 45

SECOND SONG OF THE PIRATE KING . 45

A FACE 4 6

A BIRTHDAY ... .46

A CALL TO BATTLE . 4^

ix



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

SCHOOLDAYS . . . "49

LATER SCHOOL DAYS (1911-1914) . . 83

FRANCE . . . . . .123

ON LEAVE . ... 155

SOME LETTERS . .... 245

POEMS BY E. W. T. :

DEDICATION TO P. G. AND G. W. . . . 279

WORPLE FLIT . . . . . 280

PICTURES ....... 284

THE GAZEBO . . . . . . 285

THE KNIGHT AND THE RUSSET PALMER . . . 286

SONG ..... . 291

THE MAD SOLDIER ..... 292

To ROY ....... 294

IN MEMORIAM . . . . . 295

THE NIGHTINGALE . .... 296

HOME THOUGHTS IN LAVENTIE . . . 306

APPENDICES . . . . . . 309

A FRAGMENT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY . . -312

"FLOWER OF THE FIELD" . . . -321



LIST OF PHOTOGRAVURE PORTRAITS

EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT (by John Sargent, R.A.) Frontispiece

To face page
BlM, AGED ONE YEAR, 1898 . 9

E. W. T., FIVE YEARS OLD ... 23

EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT . . 116

EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT . . 157

EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT, 4TH GRENADIER GUARDS 171

EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT, 1916 .... 202



" The Bow saith to the Arrow,
' Thy freedom is mine.' "

TAG ORE.




EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT



CHAPTER I

iHOSE who knew Bim will never forget
him. He had a distinctive character and
rare charm. He numbered more friends,
and had more friendship to give them
than is usual, and to every aspect of life
he brought a sympathy and a degree of insight that were
the direct outcome of his singularly loving heart.

His sense of humour was infallible. He not only
made excellent jokes, but appreciated those of others,
and he held a flow of anecdote and quotation in a re-
tentive memory, that he used with a remarkable gift of
apposite application, that appeared never to fail.

The activity of his wit was like the play of summer
lightning ; it irradiated without searing the object of
his mirth. In an eminent degree he had what has been
called " the sunshine of the mind," and behind it were
those deep recesses of a gentle nature, that never failed
to respond to those who sought them.

Bim's presence banished the common and the disagree-
able things of life, and brought with it a sense of fresh-
ness and vigour.

3



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

" I am sure," writes a friend, " that he died with the
same marvellous vitality and courage, and love of beauti-
ful things, that always actuated him."

" He was to me the gayest, happiest, most crystal-
clear person in the world," writes another. " Had one
been in the depths of depression, he would have inspired
one with joy."

To quote further from these letters would make an
introductory chapter too long. They shall have a place
later in this volume. It seemed to Bim's Mother as
she received these tributes to his memory from his friends
and from hers, that no one could ever praise him too
highly, nor say too much to convey what he had been
in their lives. Yet even her expectation has been sur-
passed, and she realises in how great a measure all who
met Bim were influenced by his sincerity and his charm.

" He had a beautiful mind, so clever, and so simple, and
sincere ; he is happy, I am sure, in his high-hearted
ways."

When the mind is subtle it is unusual to find sim-
plicity the keynote of character. Yet there was this rare
combination in Bim. He was as candid as the skies.
This was shown in his excellent hand-grip, his firm
and open stride, and the unfailing benevolence in his
countenance.

It was said once by Disraeli of Bim's maternal Grand-
mother, that " she had that most rare thing a musical
laugh." Bim inherited this characteristic ; " Le rire
fidele prouve un cceur sans detour " ; his laugh rang
clear and free. In appearance he was tall, with distinc-

4



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

tion of bearing. He showed race in his hands, which
were slender and finely drawn, with singularly well-
shaped nails.

His brow and eyes dominated his countenance, and
were of peculiar beauty. When Mr. Sargent was making
the study of Bim in charcoal, reproduced as frontispiece
to this book, he remarked on the sensitive drawing he
found in the lines of the eyelids, and on the unusual
manner in which the hair grew, springing in two arches
from a point in the middle of the brow.

In social life Bim had a simplicity of address and a
warmth of manner that arose equally from his entire
freedom from self-consciousness, and from the genuine
and invariably great pleasure it was to him to be sur-
rounded by his friends. His parties, to give which de-
lighted him, excelled. He had that peculiar gift that
defies analysis, but which guarantees to its possessor in
every social venture success that is instant, cumulative
and secure.

These social gatherings were arranged with a charac-
teristic precipitancy, sometimes owing to the exigency of
time, invitations being often carried out by telephone,
while the earlier invited guests were already streaming
through the door, tacitly reminding their host of in-
numerable others who must be invited too. People have
been known to rise from their beds to which they had
already repaired, dress anew, and hasten gladly, if late
to the festive scene.

" He was the best and dearest of companions ! Shall
we ever see such unstinted generosity, and such un-

5



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

failing spirits again ? He has left nothing but loving
and heroic memories."

It has been said that it is no true religion that is
of a desponding cast of thought. If this is so then
Bim's religion was of the very best. His spiritual out-
look was never dimmed by doubt. He had complete and
unassailable confidence in God, and this never wavered.

He wrote to his Mother before the Battle of Loos,
" I have the feeling of Immortality very strongly. I
think of Death with a light heart, and as a friend, whom
there is no need to fear."

Bim's love for those who belonged to him, and for
his home, was of so deep a quality that it is impossible
to believe that so constant and vital a love should die.
He himself was convinced of continuity, and never
doubted that we should live through Death.

Indeed to those who knew him, the very thought of
Bim, now as before, means Life ; and even in the
moments of supreme suffering, moments that make long
years, his Mother finds it in her heart to thank God for
the life of her son.



EARLY CHILDHOOD



" A face with gladness overspread,
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred,
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays ;
With no restraint but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
Of thy few words of English speech.
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life ;
So have I , not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind
Thus beating up against the wind."

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.




.
s7 <T



CHAPTER II



" Tou know how Urbino died ? it is a
mark of God's great goodness, but a
bitter grief to me."

MICHAEL ANGELO.




IM wrote poetry early. Before he could
write he dictated rhymes and verses to his
Mother, whose pencil could barely keep
pace with the flow of verse, story, saga,
and adventure that sped from his active



brain. He ran before he could walk, and he knew many
words at nine months old. He would sustain a conversa-
tion at eighteen months of age with eager delight and
fluent mis-pronunciations. The word he learnt first to
say was " happy," and this he would sing, repeating it
joyously as he was carried along, his little hands fluttering
in vivacious gaiety. He was the soul of activity without
restlessness, and from the earliest days of consciousness
every gesture scintillated with eager life.

" The sparkling wit, the lightning whim,
The diamond rays that make up Bim,"

wrote one who had been enslaved by his charm in the
nursery. From quite early days his wish seemed to be
to amuse the world, and if he could do any one a service
or promote their happiness, he was doubly content.

9



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

In and out he ran, during an entire afternoon, over
the threshold of a cottage, drawing and carrying water
for the shepherd's wife. His Mother can still hear those
nimble footsteps, and the pleased reiteration, " Sae
active ! Sae active ! I never saw the like o' yon
child."

Bim taught himself to read ; it came easily to him.
That is to say when his Mother began to teach him
she found he knew all his letters, and could read and
spell words of one syllable. This was because he was
always putting letters together, and making words of
them, as a game. He used to draw animated alphabets,
in which the letters were given pairs of little boots to
wear, tiny hats with feathers in them, or small flags to
carry. His Mother has one before her now, as she writes ;
the letters have each a distinct personality, and they
hurry along after each other over the page, full of
gesture and movement.

He drew with lightning rapidity, and with his left
hand ; as he developed he was trained to use his right
but he remained ambidextrous, and unusually adroit.
At four years old he not only could, but constantly did,
occupy himself simultaneously with three activities. He
would thrust a book into his Mother's hands, with a
request to be read to ; then he would settle down to
draw, which he did rapidly, the pencil in his left hand,
while he spun an ivory counter with his right thumb and
finger.

A governess, who tried to repress this exuberance on
the score of inculcating concentration, said : " I find it
10



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

very difficult to correct this in him, because I cannot
truthfully say it prevents his doing any one thing well."

Bim was charming to those in authority over him. A
rule had been made, perhaps unnecessarily, that the
children if they awoke early were to remain in bed
until the nursery governess appeared. In summer
holidays however, with the Sun himself calling them,
this proved more than could be rationally expected.
Yet it was not in Bim's nature to break a rule with
effrontery. He was up and dressed, and safely away long
before the recognised hour, but a small square of paper
was left, pinned upon the pillow. It bore the pretty
message, " pardonnez-moi, cherie Zelle."

While Bim was yet a very little child some one read
from the daily papers an account of a picnic party, the
members of which had been drowned during the day's
expedition in a yacht.

" Were they going to it, or coming back ? " he asked
with anxious brow. " Had they had their picnic, I
mean ? "

It was a relief to be able to say this was so, and to see
him smile again.

To Bim, happiness was a state of being essential not
only to himself but to all. He could not tolerate imagin-
ing or perceiving this state of mind imperilled or de-
stroyed. It was his soul's true climate ; and his devotion
to the memory of Charles I, and Don Quixote, arose,
in early childhood, from a sense of outrage at the unto-
ward trend of their earthly lot.

" I remember," writes one, " seeing Bim running

II



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

fleetly at one year old, saying * happy, happy, happy.'
I saw very little of him in after years, but when I met
him again I found him just as lovable."

When his Mother visited among the poorer streets of
Westminster, he could only be prevailed on to cross those
darkened thresholds by being given a large tin of sweets
that he might distribute largesse as he went. He left
the children in little throngs and clusters, smiling in his
wake. He was often concerned and puzzled when he
became aware of the difference between their Christmas
joys and his own. " But does God know about it ? " he
would ask, with one ringer emphasising his remark, a
gesture his Mother grew to know so well. Finally he
went no more with her, for his heart suffered, and he
was too wise to think that either toys, sweets, clothes,
kindly interest, or money, could ever gloss over such
surroundings.

Children are, as a rule, too elfin and self-centred to be
compassionate, but Bim always understood the sorrows
of others, for the time they were his own.

" You know the most beautiful lilies in all the village
grow in Mr. Eyres' garden," he once told his Mother ;
and added with inexpressible gentleness : " and Mr.
Eyres is blind."

He had a most engaging way as a small child of ad-
dressing his questions, or making his remarks, with an
inclination of the head. This gave great point and civility
to his manner, and for so high-spirited a child he had
an unusual gravity of address.

" How do we know that we live after we die ? " he
12



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

once asked his Mother, " is it that Jesus once told a man
who then told his son, and this man told his son, who
told his son again, and then again bis son, so that at last
Daddy's father told Daddy, and Daddy tells me ? Tell

me, for I long to know This, all in a rapid pelt

of utterance, with nothing to lead to it, but his own
thoughts, as he sat playing with his toys.

One day a lady was sitting talking to his Mother, a
lady in whose garden he had played ; a garden of yew
hedges, and massed flowers, and vine-grown pergolas and
green terraces on which paced Juno's birds. Bim was
so very young that his Mother was about to remind him
of the days he had spent with her there ; but he needed
none of this. He stood fixedly before the lady, a small
figure of three years old.

" And how are your peacocks' tails growing ? " he
asked pleasantly. The question was accompanied by his
little bow.

He spent many happy weeks before he was six years
old with a kind and most indulgent friend, by the sea-
side. He enjoyed these visits mightily, everything being
arranged for his delight. " I think this is the House of
Wish," he said with enthusiasm ; " everything you wish
for comes true." He loved Peter the dog, and the butler
with the unusual name of Pinion, and the dry pine-
needle-strewn floor of the neighbouring fir-woods where
he gathered cones for his friend's fire.

On his return home, a conversation was overheard
between him and his sister, to whom Bim had been
describing his visit ; particularly did he dilate on the

13



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

kindness of his hostess, a friend of such long stand-
ing that she had known Bim's Mother as a little
girl. " I suppose," said his sister, summing up the
conversation, " you'll marry Mrs. - when you are a
man." An unusual measure of silence followed this
remark. Bim appeared faced with a dazzling possibility.
" I shouldn't be allowed to, should I ? " He said it in a
hushed voice.

In a public garden he saw one day an ornate semicircle
of interlaced woodwork, highly varnished, making an
archway to a garden path. It claimed attention without
repaying it.

" Do you think the people who made this garden
didn't want to forget Jesus' crown of thorns ? " Bim
asked, in solution of his own questioning thought.

He ever found beauty readily, bringing his own wealth
of insight to whatever it might be, and shedding on all
alike his radiance, enriching even the common-place
with his own heart's gold.

He was sleeping one night with his Mother, and as
she entered the room he turned on his pillow. " Isn't
it nice ? " he murmured.

" What ? "

" Well everything."

This was his normal attitude of mind. Contentment,
and more, gratitude whole-heartedly expressed ; ever
ready to respond to happy circumstances, and failing to
find them, he would create them for others and himself.
" Well, anyhow, we caught something shaped rather like
a fish," he said in early days of the nurserv after a dis-

H



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

appointing afternoon of barren effort, when two hours
of tedious expectancy had resulted in nothing being drawn
from the water except a narrow stick.

" You do like Alice, don't you ? " he asked fervently.
" You do like her ? " Alice was a new servant, so his
Mother answered in perhaps guarded praise. Bim how-
ever concluded the conversation in his own manner
" So witty," he said.

When he was three or four years old he had a way of
singing to himself while he was playing, improvising the
words. His Mother remembers one startling fragment :

" And so looking under

We saw the bandsman's head.
Where was his body ?
In the queen's bed."

He had a doll called Molly Easter, whose beauty was
never questioned, though her nose had been kissed flat
and her eyebrows obliterated. He had a family of stuffed
monkeys, with their hands clasping a fruit before them,
with red caps on and bead teeth. The two chief monkeys
of this nursery bribe were called Huckaback and Bomba-
zine, and these were sewn up again and again, patched
and strengthened, often by his own hands, when they
oeg>,n to go the way of all earthly material. Bim showed
constancy in his affection for his toys ; the favourites
were all those of long standing. Words appealed to him ;
he showed delight on first hearing the word Alleluia, ex-
claiming what an excellent name it would be for a monkey.

" What shall I do with all my life ? " his nurse heard
him say one night as he was half asleep.

15



He often dictated poems, walking up and down the
room, to his Mother, before he could write. " Oberon "
was given in this way, and one or two of the others ;
but his childish verse for the most part was written down
by him phonetically, lying on the floor with his chin
supported by one elbow, and the fingers of his left hand
with the pencil in it tapping out the syllables on the
floor, to get the scansion.

He always found it difficult to criticise detrimentally
either places, people, or things. He never found fault
gratuitously, and if he had to admit failure he would
balance it with far-sought praise. If he heard blame,
his impulse was to extenuate, and this even when the
subject did not touch his affection or his interests
nearly. I remember the conversation once touching
on the inmates of a little red - turreted, God-for-
gotten villa that they had erected ; and this among
some of the very choicest folds of the grey-green
Downs.

" But if they don't know it is so ugly, it isn't so bad of
them, is it ? "

Surely this was advanced thinking for a child ; and
the best kind of thought, arising from the heart. Bim
was never only clever ; his actions and remarks were the
fruit of feeling, and as King Solomon has it, " the law
of kindness was in his tongue."

" It isn't very good of you," his Mother remembers
him saying, " to think crocodiles so ugly." He spoke in
a grieved tone. " But there are many animals, even
reptiles, that are more beautiful, you would say ? "
16



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

" Yes but the crocodiles with their big mouths . . .
it must be lovely when they smile. . . ."

He was very ready, as a small child, to quote and apply.
The nursery maid used to sing a country song that had

L some such lines as these :
A

" Poor Robin is dead, and laid in his grave,

H'm ha laid in his grave ;

There grew an old apple tree over his head,

H'm ha over his head. ..."

This song continues through many verses till the
patient hearer is told :

" So Robin got up with a hippity hop,
H'm ha hippity hop ;

When there came an old woman to gather them up
H'm ha gather them up ; "

It was Easter morning, and Bim was heard singing
cheerfully :

" So Jesus arose with a hippity hop,
H'm ha hippity hop ;
With all the good angels to gather Him up,
H'm ha gather Him up. . . ."

On looking back it is satisfactory to remember no one
corrected him for this.

Later, when he was about ten years old, a large
party of cousins had assembled in the house with
their respective governesses. Schoolroom tea was a
cheerful meal, and " How they do talk ! " remarked
some one who had heard the tumult.

" Yes," said Bim, " and do you know who talks the

most ? Miss . I've heard her at supper, leading

the clanging rookery home ! "

c 17



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

He knew his " Pilgrim's Progress " from cover to
cover. He used to act scenes from it sometimes with
the younger children, sometimes alone. His Mother
remembers seeing him, on one occasion, wondrously
attired. He had wound the bath towel round his brown
holland pinafore. He had tied the sponge bag to his
side for a wallet, and had a tall pole in his hand for a
staff. On his back was strapped a bundle of the most
various objects, tied up in a towel. He was walking bent
almost double with his load, and saying : " Then feared
I lest my sin should sink me deeper than the grave " ;
and in a lower tone, " that's Hell of course."

His activity was inexhaustible. One of his earliest
remarks was, " Sunday is such a non-doing day." Yet
he far preferred his own wayward leisure; his energy
was not readily applied to tasks. " Oh, I wish I knew a
land where there were no lessons, and all the governesses
were dead."

He was at a child's party entertaining a little girl who
sat beside him :

" Would you like me to empty my pocket and show
you the motley throng ? ' :

He was nimble-witted and original in his sense of
humour, and large-hearted and gentle towards other
children in his ways. He never teased or fought, and
very early was his gift of the use of words evident.

He was once told only Love was a free gift. " Only
Love, the story says, can you get without money. But
I would say three things." And after a moment's pause
he said softly, " Love, a rose, and Paradise."
18



EDWARD WYNDHAM TENNANT

It seemed as if there were nothing further to say ;
but it was advanced that a rose was bought from a
shop, and that hoes and spades had to cultivate it, and


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