Stephen Paget.

Sir Victor Horsley : a study of his life and work online

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Online LibraryStephen PagetSir Victor Horsley : a study of his life and work → online text (page 1 of 34)
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Misit de summo, et accepit me :
et assumpsit me de multis aquis.

My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage,
and my courage and skill to him that can get it.




I 920

Printed in Great Britain



By Lady Horsley

When at the age of fifty-nine Victor Horsley died, struck
down by the furnace heat, the mental misery, and the over-
work of Mesopotamia, he was still in the fulness of his
powers. These he had planned to use, on his return home,
for the promotion of the social reforms in wliich he was
most keenly interested, the health, housing, and land of
the people. He intended again to offer himself for Parlia-
mentary election and, as the letter from Huddersfield quoted
in the Memoir shows, he would probably have been returned
to Parliament by a constituency choosing him as their
representative for his personal qualities and his high

He belonged to a long-lived family. He was himself strong
and vigorous. He would under normal circumstances
probabl}' have lived to old age, and so long as strength of
mind and body remained to him it would have been used
in attempting to further the interests of the people. And
he would have furthered them. He possessed in a high
degree the power of influencing other men, and not only
those of his own age but also the young, a much rarer gift.
Th«n' felt that he was not of the past or even of the present
but of the future, and that his leading was always onwards
and upwards. When he joined a cause, his name at once
added strength to it. It could not be merely sentimental,
or wanting in justification, if it had attracted to it so manly
a man and so keen an intellect. Thus he would have been
a teaching and inspiring force in the coimtry, and he has
left a void which so far no one has come forward to fill.

It seemed wrong, when all this vitality and power was
so suddenly arrested, that no effort should be made to



set forth his Ufe and labours as an incentive to others to
take up the work he had too early laid down.

The task however of preparing such a record was a very
arduous one, for probably few men who have done so much
have written so Uttle, and it needed all Mr. Paget's literary
powers and enthusiasm for his theme to overcome the
difficulties which confronted him.

The sincerity of that enthusiasm no one can doubt who
read his words when the news came from Amarah in 1916.
Yet it would be hard to find two men of goodwill more
widely separated in their mental attitude than the author
of the Memoir and the subject of it. They differed in
religious convictions, in politics, in social ideas, in their
ways of approaching men and matters, and these differ-
ences constantly make themselves apparent in the book
and in the critical attitude of the author.

Nevertheless no attempt has been made to suppress or
soften this. Those who regard Victor Horsley's memory
with most reverence and most affection are well content to
let his life speak for him and to let those who read it judge
for themselves. The object of the book will have been
sufhciently attained if it serves to preserve an influence
that was never more needed than it is now at this most
critical hour.

June, 1919.


P. 119, line 3. False quotation.

P. 126, line 13. For 'Army' r^t?^ ' Navy.'





I. From 1S57 to 1873 .... 3

II. Fro.m January 1874 to September 1878 . . 15

III. From October 1878 to May 1881 . .27

IV. From 1881 to 1884 ..... 39
V. The Cure of Myxcedema . . . .54

VI. The Prevention of Rabies . . .68

VII. The Localisation of Function in the Brain 90

VIII. From 1885 to 1887 . . . . .114



I. From 1888 to 1892 .

II. From 1893 "^o ^^98 .

III. From 1899 to 1906 .

IV. From 1907 to August 19 14
V. Professional Politics

VI. The Fight .\gainst Alcohol

VII. Brotherhood Addresses

VIII. Private Practice. Homk Lifi-



2 1 2





I. London. Wimereux ..... 285

ir. Egypt ....... 295

III. India. Mesopotamia ..... 313

Published Writings . . .341

Index . . 35 i


Sir Victor Horsley

Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Horslf.y in the Din'ng


Victor Horsley at the age of Elf yen .
Myxcedema before Thyroid Treatment .
Same Patient, after Treatment .
Pointed (Service) Bullet, "22 calipre. Cast o

Effect in Clay ....
•310 Soft Lead Bullet. Cast of Effect
The Operating Theatre, Queen Square, 1906
Horsley's Room, University College
Drink Shops, Southwark, 19 14. Tapard Street

District .....
Sir Victor Horsley
Sir Victor Horsley's Grave at Amarah.


facing page 6



,, 200

„ 285


Diagram showing the Influence of Muzzling over

Rabies . . . . . . 87

Diagram of the Dog's Brain, showing the five 'Motor

Centres' localised by Fritsch and Hitzic, 1S70 93
Motor Region of Cerebral Cortex (external suriace) 98
Motor Region of Cerebral Cortkx (mesial suhack) 99
Drawing made during Experiment on the Motor
Region ok the Cerebral Cortex ok an Orang-
outang ....... 108

Facsimile of Horsley's Rebus . .129

Sketches in Letters from France and Mesopotamia,

292, 320, ■?2i, 324, 725. 327, 330, 332, 33 ^ \\.\, 335






Dear Dr. Keen, — When this book was published in
England, Lady Horsley let me dedicate it to her.
In America, it dedicates itself to you, of its own
accord, without asking my leave. Your name and
your work are familiar to us over here ; you knew
Victor Horsley well : you and he stood side by side
for the advancement of surgery : and you are a true
lover of England. No wonder that the book takes
this opportunity of dedicating itself to you : and I
admire tlic wisdom of its choice. — Yours very truly,

Stephen Paget.

LiMPEFiELD, Surrey,
December 1919.



From 1857 to 1873

It was part of the happiness of Victor Horsley's hfe that he
was of good birth and had a family record to be proud of.
He was a son of John Callcott Horsley, the artist, and
a grandson of William Horsley, the musician. WiUiam
Horsley married a daughter of John Wall Callcott, the
musician, brother of Sir Augustus Callcott, the artist. One
of William Horsley's daughters married Isambard Brunei,
the engineer : another married Dr. Seth Thompson : another,
Miss Sophy Horsley, a woman of keen intellect, and a notable
pianist, was a great friend of Mendelssohn ; he dedicated
some of his works to her.

Victor Horeley's mother was a sister of Sir Francis
Seymour Haden, the surgeon and artist who was founder
and first President of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers.
She was a daughter of Charles Haden, a surgeon in good
practice in Sloane Street : he was a great friend of Miss
Austen. He died young, but not before he had made a
name in his profession. He was a son of Thomas Haden of
Derby, one of the foremost surgeons in the provinces.
There is a well-known etching of Thomas Haden, by his
grandson Seymour Haden, after a portrait by Wright of

John Callcott Horsley was born in 1817, in Brompton.
Six years later, the family moved from Brompton to the
house which now is 128 Church Street, Kensington, but
then was i High Row, Kensington Gravel Pits. This was
Mr. Horsley's home in London for eighty years, from 1823 to
his death in 1903. Near the end of his long life he wrote his
Recollections of a Royal Academician. The surroundings
of the house have changed for the worse, but it still has an


air of quiet dignity, and there is a garden behind it, and
Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace are not far off.
He could remember the Princess Victoria riding daily past
the house :

It was a charming sight to see them scampering up Church
Lane at a hand-gallop, passing the woodland Campden Grove,
past old Campden House and its entrance-gates — and the
Princess, who, of course, led the cavalcade, with a cool and
experienced equerry at her bridle-hand, pulling up at the
turnpike gate, which barred the road, just opposite the
stable gate of No. i High Row.

He was a student at Sass's Academy when he was only
thirteen years old. In 1831, he became a Royal Academy
student. In 1845, he was chosen to paint two of the wall
pictures in the new Houses of Parhament. He was elected
A.R.A, in 1855, and R.A. in 1864, and was Treasurer of the
Royal Academy from 1882 to 1897. His early picture,
' Rent Day at Haddon Hall,' brought him praise and success :
he loved to study Haddon Hall, and it influenced much of
his work. One of his pictures was placed in his hfetime —
a very exceptional honour — in the National Gallery. And
he did a memorable service to art in England, for it was he,
more than anybody, who organised the Winter Exhibitions
ot Old Masters at Burlington House, He was a member of
the Exhibitions Committee for twenty-seven years ; and he
delighted in the duties \vhich it put on him. He had to
visit private collections, persuading the owners of master-
pieces to lend them, and refusing all that was not worth
showing ; and he made the Winter Exhibition the chief
event of the London year for lovers of good pictures.

He was twice married : his first wife was Miss Elvira
Walter ; three children were bom to them. She died of
consumption ; and her children did not long outhve her :
all three of them died of scarlet fever. In 1854, he married
Miss Rosamund Hadcn. Seven children were bom to them :
Walter, Hugh, Victor, Emma, Fanny, Gerald, and Rosamund.
Two of them, Hugh and Emma, died in childhood of scarlet
fever. Geiald, the architect, died in July 1917. The
members of the family now are Colonel Walter Horsley, the

FROM 1857 TO 1873 5

artist, Lady WTiitelegge (Fanny), and Mrs. Francis Gotch

Victor was bom on April 14, 1857. It was the day on
which the Princess Beatrice was bom ; and the Queen, who
had kindly regard for the family, noted the coincidence, and
sent word that she wished him to be named after herself.
He was presented to her, at a very early age. Victor
Alexander Haden Horsley — but there never was a man who
made less use of a superfluity of Christian names. From
six to eighteen, he gradually reduced them : Victor A.
Haden, Victor A. H., V. A. H. By the time when he was
twenty-one, the A and the H were gone.

In 1858, Mr. Horsley bought a country-house, Willesley,
near Cranbrook, in Kent. He writes, in his Recollections, of
the beauty of the place :

WTiere 's Cranbrook ? I remember saying to old Tom
Webster one day, when he told me he was going down into
Kent to see the young artist, F. D. Hardy, who was painting
the cottage interiors in the neighbourhood. . . . One of the
most picturesque old houses in the High Street became
Webster's studio, when, at a later date, he lived no longer in
the farmhouse, but in a square and substantial red-brick
house in the town. Tempted by Webster's account of Cran-
brook, we went there, and often occupied lodgings, till the
chance came of buying an old house standing about half a
mile out of the towTi on a hill.

The house was enlarged and decorated by young Mr.
Norman Shaw. Oak panelling, sixteenth-century stamped
leather from a French chateau, curtains from a palace in
Venice, were bought or given for its adomment :

It was Norman Shaw himself who first drew bold designs
on the soft, new plaster of the ceiling, and who was delighted
to find his ideas ably and conscientiously carried out by the
rustic ' Men of Kent,' the Cranbrook workmen, with a skill
and verve that could never have been found in Londonci^i of
the same calling. He made the delightful design on the
gable of tlic j)c;icock, and the familiar words, ' K.xccjjt the
Lord build the house, their labour is but lost who build it.'

This pleasant country house is still in the family : Colonel
Walter Horsley lives there. It gave the children all that


they could desire. They had also, on this or that occasion,
a holiday at the seaside ; and their mother once took them
to Boulogne, but the lodging-house was so dirty that she
whirled them back to England. They did not lose any-
thing : no sensible child, having Willesley to play with,
would care to play with Boulogne. After 1873, the house
in Kensington became home to them, and Willesley was
kept for hohdays ; but up to 1873, they were always in the

The Recollections of a Royal Academician are good read-
ing ; but it is an old man's book : it does not say much about
the home hfe at Willesley in the earlier years. Mr. Horsley
was a man of restless energy, impulsive, hot-tempered, but
generous and quick to make amends. He worked hard,
and was intolerant of any break in his work. He loved
company, and was bored by solitude. His letters to his
wife are full of weathercock changes of thought, sharp httle
criticisms, and spurts of slang and chaff : he tells her all
about home and the children, what they are all doing, how
he is getting on with his work : for instance, what a friend
has paid, at a sale, for one of his pictures — ' An old stoopid :
I 'd have painted him a much better picture same size for
the money.' Over small grievances and small domestic
perplexities, he was fidgety : he liked to arrange and plan
everything, and to have it just so. Over greater troubles,
he was more patient. In rehgion and in poUtics, he stood
on the old ways of unquestioning faith and of loyalty to the
Sovereign. His friendships were in art and music, not in
politics, nor in science : he was averse from the revolutionary
spirit which was refashioning the world all round him :
neither Huxley nor the Pre-Raphaelites found their way to
him. But that which told against his authority among
artists was not his dislike of Pre-Raphaelitism, but his dread
of the influences of the French Salon, and his opposition to
the study of the naked model. He said what he thought of
it all, in 1885, in the Times ; and there was a good deal of
rather angry laughter over that controversy.

It would be waste of time to try to decide what in Victor
was Horsley and what was Haden. He got his good looks

FROM 1857 TO 1873 7

from his father. If we may go by the evidence of hands,
both famihes were represented in him. The Horsleys were
proud of their hands, the long slender fingers and well-
shaped nails : the Hadens had square hands, with square
nails : as Se^Tnour Haden said of an old portrait, ' That 's
the woman who brought the damned ugly hand into the
family.' Victor's hand was a blend of the two : it was
rather square, but with well-shaped fingers and nails. His
mother had a thoroughly Haden hand. She was very
skilful and very practical with her hands : for forty years,
she made the costumes for Mr. Horsley's models, and she
could deal as cleverly with carpenter's tools about the house
as \\ith needle and scissors. She was small of stature ;
busy, strong-willed, capable : as Victor, in the later years,
said of her, ' She used to make things go.' She could be
rather terrible toward an offending servant or tradesman :
nor did the children find it easy, as they grew up, to adapt
themselves to her frequent censure. She bore pain and
faced operations with extraordinary courage, but was not
free from that sort of timidity which then was more common
among women than it is now — the fear of dark nights,
horses and cows, hansom cabs, and so forth. She had been
brought up in France, and mostly had hved in France to the
time of her marriage : she knew French history as it were
by heart, and all the intricacies of the French dynasties.
She was on the alert, even when she was more than eighty
years old, over points of history ; and her talk with its
wealth of memories was of great interest. In society, she
liked to keep herself to herself, and did not go out of her way
to make new friends : the circle of art and music round her
in London was wide enough without that. In all affairs
of manner and of conduct, she maintained the high standard
of the Victorian Age, and the rigid observance of proprieties ;
but was none the less independent, and proud of her inde-
pendence, hating to feel herself beholden to anybody.
Toward her husband, she was of one mind with him over the
great things, but was more apt than he to leave the lesser
things to shape themselves ; and he sometimes was vexed
that she was so philosophical.


It was inevitable, from the tragedy of his first marriage,
that they should be incessantly anxious over their children's
health. ' I am sorry for being so fussy,' he writes to her,
' but if I hear of anything being the matter with the children,
it is as if a knife were driven into me.' Except for this
persistent watchfulness, the children had nothing or next to
nothing to complain of. Obedience was expected of them,
and they were taught to be content with simple food, and
to respect the difference between their parents and them-
selves ; there was not the present equality or pretence of
equahty ; they did not offhand invite their parents to play
games and share secrets with them ; but they had all the
freedom that was usually given to the children of that
generation, and more than some children would have dared
to ask for. On Sunday — that everlasting test of home life —
they had to go to church once, but not more than once ;
and, by a strange turn of casuistry, were allowed to amuse
themselves with drawing but not with painting, because
painting was their father's work, and they must not work on

Victor's earliest letters, from 1863 to 1868 — from his sixth
year to his eleventh — are short, objective, and abounding in
happiness. They show a quick sense of the beauty of the
world, but are neither sentimental nor imaginative. The
spelling is remarkably correct : it may have been controlled
from above. One or two of the letters are in French ; and
that so bad that it may have been intentional ; but opinions
arc divided on this point. It is recorded of him, at the age of
six, that he asked his governess whether a chair in French
were still feminine if a man sat on it.

1863. To his mother. April 13. I hope you will come on
my birthday and bring me some presents from London. On
Sunday we went for a walk, and when we came back we made
an r)ld man of sand. Grass is iiis hair, two lapides for his
eyes, a curled piece of stick for his nose, and a straight piece
of stick for his mouth. I am going to draw hunting a tiger.
April 16. I think you will be glad to hear that my cold is
better. I had some sugar and a baked apple last night. I
have two mountain ashes, some beans and peas in my garden.
April 28. It is very stormy to-day, and I think there will be

FROM 1857 TO 1873 9

lightning. This morning I gathered a very large violet. We
have a great many beans which Jenner gave us. I want to
put affectionate now. 1866. To his mother. May i. I hope
that you have arrived in London safely with no accident at
all. I have done all that I have to do this evening, and,
having some spare time, I tliought I would write to you.
You know the side which I had my swell face, well, on the
opposite side I have a gumboil.

1867. To his father. April j. How are you ? Have you
been to the Academy ? Did you get my letter yesterday ?
Do you know it is only four days to the holidays ? We went
to Admiral Houston's yesterday. Near their garden (at least
it is joined to it) is a little wood full of Httle paths. The
ground there is carpeted with primroses, anemones, blue,
white, and purple periwinkles, besides some red primroses. I
think it must have been a garden once, but now it is all
shrubs, moss, young and old trees. At the bottom of this
little road there is a stream. Will you ask Grandmamma for
some seeds ? May 21. How are you ? Is the Exhibition a
nice one, and are there many pictures ? It has been very
rainy to-day except this evening. There is a beautiful sun-
set, it seems quite to gild the dining-room. Oct. 30. Have
you arrived at London safely ? How many students had you
to teach to-night ? Did you have more than 30 or 40 ?
How old are some of them ? Are there any about 20 there ?
because I want to know. Nov. 7. On Monday night w^e
had a dozen squibs, 12 blue hghts, 12 crackers, 3 Roman
candles, and 18 Catherine wheels. We invited Mr. Garden,
the two girls, and Freddy. I bought a dormouse to-day
for a shilling, witli a cage too, from a schoolboy, he is called
Louis Broome. It was not his, it was the eldest Yates, but
he owed Broome a little more than a shilling, so I was to
give it to Broome. Walter is making a bowsprit and mast to
the boat Mr. Paine made for us. He made the body for us,
not what Walter is making this evening. Have you gone to
the students this week ? What sort of model was it ? Was
it the same one that was there last week ? How are you ?
Will you ask Aunt Sophy if she has any stamps for us. An
answer is requested. Dec. 15. I have fmislicd tlio drawing
for Mama on Christmas. We have been examined in Enghsh
and Roman History, in Geography, and Greek. We are going
to begin Bible Examination to-morrow. We begin our holi-
days on Thursday. . . . Did you hear the Fenian explosion ?
I will draw you a picture.

1868. To his father. Front Broadstairs. Mon cher Papa
Joliannes. We have bathed twice and are learning to swim.
The man is a jolly old fellow, there is a nice hfcboat and jetty,
and there is a beautiful little boat. Sept. 4. From Ramsi^ate.
We went to Pcgwell to-day and they were firing off the


cannons at a target, I liked it very much. You could hear
the ball as it went along. They made some ver>' good hits,
one went clean through the canvas twice while we were
there, and knocked away the right pole. This is where they
fired from : the Range was a thousand yards. We stood at A.

The children had good friends of their own age, in or near
Cranbrook : the sons of F. D. Hardy, the artist ; and the
O'Neills, cousins and near neighbours ; and the Vizards
at Sissinghurst, a large family, the girls all set on earning
their own living ; one of them, in 1873, was governess at
Willesley, The liberties of Sissinghurst were an escape from
the restraints of W'illesley, and the Horsley boys used to
go there on Saturday half-holidays. Mrs. Carter (Miss
Jessie Vizard) remembers them well. It seems that Walter
was her favourite : Gerald used to offer his heart and hand
in fantastical style to each of the young ladies in turn :
Victor was full of fun, laughing and skylarking, with little
fugitive moods of quietness. A letter from him to her, when
he was thirteen, and she was teaching some children in
London, contains a very good sketch of her and them
groping their way through a London fog. Her sister, Mrs.
Hubbard, writes :

I knew Victor, first of all, when I was seven and he was
nine years old : we were tremendous friends in those days.
He and I used to go about together, getting rabbits' food,
hiding together in our many games of hide-and-seek, and
generally contriving to do things together. Later, we used
only to meet in the summer hohdays, and then I connect
him with teaching us tennis, but chiefly with a game which
we invented, all of us, called ' ghosts ' : a most blood-
curdling form of hide-and-seek, to be played in the evening,
preferably by moonlight.

But Victor's chief delight at Willesley was in the skittle-
alley which Mr. Horsley had added to the house. The boys
played the nobler form of the game, throwing the discus,
the big wooden ' cheese.' Victor's highest score may still
be seen on the wall, and the black cat which he painted as a
target for pistol-practice. He would swing from a horizontal
bar by one hand, and fire with the other ; not without some

Online LibraryStephen PagetSir Victor Horsley : a study of his life and work → online text (page 1 of 34)