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MEMORIES AND ADVENTURES 












ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. 
Taken in America, 1923. 


[Nelson Evans, Los Angeles. 



MEMORIES AND 
ADVENTURES 


BY 


SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 


NON-REFER! 



SwVAP • QjS 


BOSTON 

LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 

1924 

























Copyright, 192-i, 

By Arthur Conan Doyue 


All rights reserved 
Published September, 1924 


223 
X> 77z 


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER 

I Early Recollections. 

Extraction —“ H.B.”— Four Remarkable Brothers — 
My Mother’s Family Tree — An Unrecognized 
Genius — My First Knockout — Thackeray — The 
Fenians — Early Reading — My First Story. 

II Under the Jesuits. 

The Preparatory School — The Mistakes of Educa¬ 
tion — Spartan Schooling — Corporal Punishment 
— Well-known School Fellows — Gloomy Forecasts 
— Poetry — London Matriculation — German 
School — A Happy Year — The Jesuits — Strange 
Arrival in Paris. 

III Recollections op a Student ... 

Edinburgh University — A Sad Disappointment — 
Original of Professor Challenger — Of Sherlock 
Holmes — Deductions — Sheffield — Ruyton — 
Birmingham — Literary Aspirations — First Ac¬ 
cepted Story — My Father’s Death — Mental Posi¬ 
tion— Spiritual Yearnings — An Awkward Busi¬ 
ness. 

IV Whaling in the Arctic Ocean. 

The Hope — John Gray — Boxing — The Terrible 
Mate — Our Criminal — First Sight of a Woman 
— A Hurricane — Dangers of the Fishing — 
Three Dips in the Arctic — The Idlers’ Boat — 
Whale Taking — Glamour of the Arctic — Effect 
of Voyage. 

V The Voyage to West Africa. 

The Mayumba — Fearful Weather — An Escape — 
Hanno’s Voyage — Atlantis — A Land of Death 
— Blackwater Fever — Missionaries — Strange 
Fish — Danger of Luxury — A Foolish Swim —• 
The Ship on Fire — England Once More. 

VI My First Experiences in Practice .... 

A Strange Character — His Honeymoon — His Bris¬ 
tol Practice — Telegram from Plymouth — Six 
Amusing Weeks — A Deep Plot — My Southsea 
Venture — Furnishing on the Cheap — The Plot 
Explodes. 

v 


PACK 

1 


8 


17 


29 


42 


52 


Contents 


vi 

CHAPTER ' PAGE 

YII My Start at Southsea.59 

A Strange Life — Arrival of My Brother — I Buy Up 
a Shop — Cheap Servants — Queer Patients — 
Dangers of Medical Practice — Income Tax Joke 
— My Marriage — Tragedy in My House — A 
New Phase. 

VIII My First Literary Success . ... . • 67 

New Outlook — James Payn — Genesis of Holmes — 

“ A Study in Scarlet ”— Micah Clarke — Disap¬ 
pointments— Andrew Lang — Cornhill Dinner — 

Oscar Wilde — His Criticism of Himself —“ The 
White Company.” 

IX Pulling Up the Anchor.77 

Psychic Studies — Experiments in Telepathy — My 
First Seances — A Curious Test — General Dray- 
son — Opinion on Theosophy — A. P. Sinnett — 

W. T. Stead — Journey to Berlin — Koch’s Treat¬ 
ment — Brutality of Bergmann — Malcolm Mor¬ 
ris — Literary Society — Political Work — Arthur 
Balfour — Our Departure. 

X The Great Break.88 

Vienna — A Specialist in Wimpole Street — The 
Great Decision — Norwood —“ The Eefugees ”— 
Eeported Death of Holmes. 

XI Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes . . . . 96 

“ The Speckled Band ”— Barrie’s Parody on Holmes 
— Holmes on the Films — Methods of Construc¬ 
tion — Problems — Curious Letters — Some Per¬ 
sonal Cases — Strange Happenings. 

XII Norwood and Switzerland .Ill 

Psychic Eesearch Society — Psychic Leanings — Lit¬ 
erary Circles in London — Young Writers — 
Henry Irving — A Great Blow — Davos —“ Brig¬ 
adier Gerard ”— Major Pond — American Lec¬ 
turing in 1894 — First Lecture — Anti-British 
Wave — Answer to Prayer. 

XIII Egypt in 1896 . 121 

Life in Egypt — Accident — The Men Who Made 

Egypt — Up the Nile — The Salt Lakes — Adven¬ 
ture in the Desert — The Coptic Monastery — 
Colonel Lewis — A Surprise. 



Contents 

chapter 

XIV On the Edge of a Storm. 

The Storm Centre — To the Frontier — Assouan — 

Excited Officers — With the Press Men — A Long 
Camel Ride — Night Marches — Haifa — Gwynne 
of the “ Morning Post ”—Anley — A Sudden 
Voyage — Apricots and Rousseau. 

XV An Interlude of Peace. 

Hindhead —“A Duet ”— A Haunted House — A 
Curious Society — Preternatural Powers — The 
Little Doctop—- The Shadow of Africa. 

XVI The Starj-jtto South Africa. 

The—Black Week — V olunteering — The Langman 

Hospital — The Voyage — Bloemfontein — Sir 
Claude de Crespigny — The Epidemic — Advance 
to the Water Works. 

XVII Days with the Army. 

Pole-Carew — Tucker — Snipers — The Looted Farm 

— Taking of Brandfort — Artillery Engagement 
— Advance of the Guards — The Wounded Scout 
— The Dead Australian — Return. 

XVIII Final Experiences in South Africa . 

Military Jealousies — Football — Cracked Ribs — A 

Mutiny — DeWet — A Historian under Difficulties 
— Pretoria — Lord Roberts — With the Boers — 
Memorable Operation — Altercation. 

XIX An Appeal to the World’s Opinion .... 
Misrepresentation — A Sudden Resolve — Reginald 

Smith — A Week’s Hard Work —“ The Cause 
and Conduct of the War ”— Translations — Ger¬ 
man Letter — Complete Success— Surplus. 

XX My Political Adventures. 

Central Edinburgh — A Knock-out — The Border 
Burghs — Tariff Reform — Heckling — Interpo¬ 
lations — Defeat — Reflections. 

XXI The Years Between the Wars. 

“ History of the War”—Sir Oliver Lodge — Mili¬ 
tary Arguments—“Sir Nigel”—The Edalji 
Case — Crowborough — The Oscar Slater Case. 

XXII The Years Between the Wars .... 
Constantinople — The Night of Power —A Strange 

Creature — Dorando — Dramatic Adventures — 
The Congo Agitation — Olympic Games — Divorce 
Reform — Psychic Experience — Speculation. 


• • 
Vll 

TAGE 

130 


140 


148 


160 


174 


184 


195 


204 


222 


viii Contents 

CHAPTER , PAGE 

XXIII Some Notable People.236 

President Roosevelt — Lord Balfour — Mr. Asquith 
— Lord Haldane — George Meredith — Rudyard 
Kipling — James Barrie — Henry Irving — Ber¬ 
nard Shaw — R. L. S. — Grant Allen — James 
Payn — Henry Thompson — Royalty. 

XXIY Some Recollections op Sport . . .262 

Racing — Shooting — A Fish Story -— Boxing — Past 
and Present — Carpentier and France — The Reno 
Fight — Football — Golf with the Sirdar — Bil¬ 
liards — Cricket — W. G. Grace — Queer Experi¬ 
ences — Tragic Matches — Humiliation — Success 
in Holland — Barrie’s Team — A Precedent — 

Motor Accidents — Prince Henry Tour — Avia¬ 
tion — The Balloon and the Aeroplane — Ski — 

Over a Precipice — Rifle Shooting. 

XXV To tile Rocky Mountains in 1914 .... 287 

Baseball — Parkman — Ticonderoga — Prairie Towns 
— Procession of Ceres — Relics of the Past — A 
Moose — Prospects for Emigrants — Jasper Park 
— The Great Divide — Algonquin Park. 

XXYI The Eve of War.304 

The Prologue of Armageddon — The “ Prince Henry ” 

Race:—Bernhardi—“England and the Next 
War”—“Danger”—General Sir H. Wilson — 

The Channel Tunnel — Naval Defects — Rubber 
Collars — Mines — Willie Redmond. 

XXYII A Remembrance of the Dark Years . . . 323 

Nightmares of the Morning — The Civilian Reserve — 

The Volunteers — Domestic Life in War Time — 
German Prisoners — Cipher to Our Prisoners — 

Sir John French — Empress Eugenie — Miracle 
Town — Armour — Our Tragedy. 

XXVIII Experiences on the British Front . . . 335 

Lord Newton — How I Got Out—Sir W. Robertson 
— The Destroyer — First Experience of Trenches 
— Ceremony at Bethune — Mother — The Ypres 
Salient — Ypres — The Hull Territorial — Gen¬ 
eral Sir Douglas Haig — Artillery Duel — Kings¬ 
ley — Major Wood — Paris. 


Contents ix 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XXIX Experiences on the Italian Front . . . 353 

The Polite Front — Udine — Under Fire — Carnic 

Alps — Italia Irredenta — Trentino — The Voice 
of the Holy Roman Empire. 

XXX Experiences on the French Front . . . 360 

A Dreadful Reception — Robert Donald — Clemen- 

ceau — Soissons Cathedral — The Commandant’s 
Cane — The Extreme Outpost — Adonis — Gen¬ 
eral Henneque — Cyrano in the Argonne — Tir 
Rapide — French Canadian — Wound Stripes. 

XXXI Breaking the Hindenburg Line .... 373 

Lloyd George — My Second Excursion — The Far¬ 
thest German Point—Sir Joseph Cook — Night 
before the Day of Judgment — The Final Battle — 

On a Tank — Horrible Sight — Speech to Aus¬ 
tralians — The Magic Carpet. 

XXXII The Psychic Quest .387 







ILLUSTRATIONS 


Arthur Conan Doyle ........ Frontispiece 

PAGE 

My Mother at 17.12 

Steam-whaler Hope .36 

Staff of the Langman Hospital.157 

Lady Conan Doyle.222 

The Family in the Wilds of Canada.298 

Kingsley Conan Doyle.350 

On the French Front.365 












CHAPTER I 


EARLY RECOLLECTIONS 

Extraction—“ H. B.”—Four Remarkable Brothers — My Mother’s Family 
Tree — An Unrecognized Genius — My First Knockout — Thackeray 
— The Fenians — Early Reading—My First Story. 

T WAS born on May 22, 1859, at Picardy Place, Edinburgh, 
so named because in old days a colony of French Huguenots 
bad settled there. At the time of their coming it was a village 
outside the City walls, hut now it is at the end of Queen Street, 
abutting upon Leith Walk. When last I visited it, it seemed 
to have degenerated, hut at that time the flats were of good 
repute. 

My father was the youngest son of John Doyle, who under 
the nom de crayon of “ H. B.” made a great reputation in 
London from about 1825 to 1850. He came from Dublin about 
the year 1815 and may be said to be the father of polite 
caricature, for in the old days satire took the brutal shape of 
making the object grotesque in features and figure. Gilray and 
Rowlandson had no other idea. My grandfather was a gen¬ 
tleman, drawing gentlemen for gentlemen, and the satire lay 
in the wit of the picture and not in the misdrawing of faces. 
This was a new idea, but it has been followed by most cari¬ 
caturists since and so has become familiar. There were no 
comic papers in those days, and the weekly cartoon of “ H. B.” 
was lithographed and distributed. He exerted, I am told, 
quite an influence upon politics, and was on terms of intimacy 
with many of the leading men of the day. I can remember 
him in his old age, a very handsome and dignified man with 
features of the strong Anglo-Irish, Duke of Wellington stamp. 
He died in 1868. 

My grandfather was left a widower with a numerous family, 
of which four boys and one girl survived. Each of the boys 
made a name for himself, for all inherited the artistic powers 
of their father. The elder, James Doyle, wrote “ The Chron- 


2 Memories and Adventures 

icles of England,” illustrated with coloured pictures by him¬ 
self — examples of colour-printing which beat any subsequent 
work that I have ever seen. He also spent thirteen years in 
doing “ The Official Baronage of England,” a wonderful mon¬ 
ument of industry and learning. Another brother was Henry 
Doyle, a great judge of old paintings, and in later years the 
manager of the National Gallery in Dublin,. where he earned 
his C.B. The third son was Richard Doyle, whose whimsical 
humour made him famous in “ Punch,” the cover of which 
with its dancing elves is still so familiar an object. Finally 
came Charles Doyle, my father. 

The Doyle family seem to have been fairly well-to-do, thanks 
to my grandfather’s talents. They lived in London in Cam¬ 
bridge Terrace. A sketch of their family life is given in 
u Dicky Doyle’s Diary.” They lived up to their income, how¬ 
ever, and it became necessary to find places for the boys. 
When my father was only nineteen a seat was offered him 
in the Government Office of Works in Edinburgh, whither he 
went. There he spent his working life, and thus it came about 
that I, an Irishman by extraction, was born in the Scottish 
capital. 

The Doyles, Anglo-Norman in origin, were strong Roman 
Catholics. The original Doyle, or D’Oil, was a cadet-branch 
of the Staffordshire Doyles, which has produced Sir Francis 
Hastings Doyle and many other distinguished men. This 
cadet shared in the invasion of Ireland and was granted estates 
in County Wexford, where a great clan rose of dependants, 
illegitimate children and others, all taking the feudal lord’s 
name, just as the de Burghs founded the clan of Burke. We 
can only claim to be the main stem by virtue of community 
of character and appearance with the English Doyles and 
the unbroken use of the same crest and coat-of-arms. 

My forbears, like most old Irish families in the south, kept 
to the old faith at the Reformation and fell victims to the 
penal laws in consequence. These became so crushing upon 
landed gentry that my great-grandfather was driven from his 
estate and became a silk-mercer in Dublin, where “ H. B.” was 
born. This family record was curiously confirmed by Mon¬ 
signor Barry Doyle, destined, I think, for the highest honours 


Early Recollections 3 

of the Roman Church, who traces hack to the younger brother 
of my great-grandfather. 

I trust the reader will indulge me in my excursion into 
these family matters, which are of vital interest to the family, 
but must be tedious to the outsider. As I am on the subject, 
I wish to say a word upon my mother’s family, the more so 
as she was great on archaeology, and had, with the help of 
Sir Arthur Vicars, Ulster King of Arms, and himself a rela¬ 
tive, worked out her descent for more than five hundred years, 
and so composed a family tree which lies before me as I 
write and on which many of the great ones of the earth have 
roosted. 

Her father was a young doctor of Trinity College, William 
Holey, who died young and left his family in comparative 
poverty. He had married one Katherine Pack, whose death¬ 
bed — or rather the white waxen thing which lay upon that 
bed — is the very earliest recollection of my life. Her near 
relative — uncle, I think — was Sir Denis Pack, who led the 
Scottish brigade at Waterloo. The Packs were a fighting fam¬ 
ily, as was but right since they were descended in a straight 
line from a major in Cromwell’s army who settled in Ireland. 
One of them, Anthony Pack, had part of his head carried off 
at the same battle, so I fear it is part of our family tradition 
that we lose our heads in action. His brain was covered 
over by a silver plate and he lived for many years, subject 
only to very bad fits of temper, which some of us have had 
with less excuse. 

But the real romance of the family lies in the fact that 
about the middle of the seventeenth century the Reverend Rich¬ 
ard Pack, who was head of Kilkenny College, married Mary 
Percy, who was heir to the Irish branch of the Percys of 
Northumberland. By this alliance we all connect up (and 
I have every generation by name, as marked out by my dear 
mother) with that illustrious line up to three separate mar¬ 
riages with the Plantagenets. One has, therefore, some strange 
strains in one’s blood which are noble in origin and, one can 
but hope, are noble in tendency. 

But all this romance of ancestry did not interfere with the 
fact that when Katherine Pack, the Irish gentlewoman, came 


4 Memories and Adventures 

in her widowhood to Edinburgh, she was very poor. I have 
never been clear why it was Edinburgh for which she made. 
Having taken a flat she let it be known that a paying-guest 
would be welcome. Just at this time, 1850 or thereabouts, 
Charles Doyle was sent from London with a recommendation 
to the priests that they should guard his young morals and 
budding faith. How could they do this better than by finding 
him quarters with a well-born and orthodox widow? Thus it 
came about that two separate lines of Irish wanderers came 
together under one roof. 

I have a little bundle of my father’s letters written in those 
days, full of appreciation of the kindness which he met with 
and full, also, of interesting observations on that Scottish soci¬ 
ety, rough, hard-drinking and kindly, into which he had been 
precipitated at a dangerously early age, especially for one 
with his artistic temperament. He had some fine religious 
instincts, but his environment was a difficult one. In the 
household was a bright-eyed, very intelligent younger daugh¬ 
ter, Mary, who presently went off to France and returned 
as a very cultivated young woman. The romance is easily 
understood, and so Charles Doyle in the year 1855 married 
Mary Foley, my mother, the young couple still residing with 
my grandmother. 

Their means were limited, for his salary as a Civil Servant 
was not more than about £240. This he supplemented by his 
drawings. Thus matters remained for practically all his life, 
for he was quite unambitious and no great promotion ever 
came his way. His painting was done spasmodically and the 
family did not always reap the benefit, for Edinburgh is full 
of water-colours which he had given away. It is one of my 
unfulfilled schemes to collect as many as possible and to have 
a Charles Doyle exhibition in London, for the critics would 
he surprised to find what a great and original artist he was 
— far the greatest, in my opinion, of the family. His brush 
was concerned not only with fairies and delicate themes of 
the kind, but with wild and fearsome subjects, so that his work 
had a very peculiar style of its own, mitigated by great natural 
humour. He was more terrible than Blake and less morbid 
than Wiertz. His originality is best shown by the fact that 


Early Recollections 5 

one hardly knows with whom to compare him. In prosaic 
Scotland, however, he excited wonder rather than admiration, 
and he was only known in the larger world of London by pen 
and ink hook-illustrations which were not his best mode of 
expression. The prosaic outcome was that including all his 
earnings my mother could never have averaged more than £300 
a year on which to educate a large family. We lived in the 
hardy and bracing atmosphere of poverty and we each in turn 
did our best to help those who were younger than ourselves. 
My noble sister Annette, who died just as the sunshine of 
better days came into our lives, went out at a very early age 
as a governess to Portugal and sent all her salary home. My 
younger sisters, Lottie and Connie, both did the same thing; 
and I helped as I could. But it was still my dear mother 
who bore the long, sordid strain. Often I said to her, “ When 
you are old, Mammie, you shall have a velvet dress and gold 
glasses and sit in comfort by the fire.” Thank God, it so 
came to pass. My father, I fear, was of little help to her, for 
his thoughts were always in the clouds and he had no appre¬ 
ciation of the realities of life. The world, not the family, gets 
the fruits of genius. 

Of my boyhood I need say little, save that it was Spartan 
at home and more Spartan at the Edinburgh school where a 
tawse-brandishing schoolmaster of the old type made our young 
lives miserable. From the age of seven to nine I suffered under 
this pock-marked, one-eyed rascal who might have stepped from 
the pages of Dickens. In the evenings home and books were 
my sole consolation, save for week-end holidays. My comrades 
were rough boys and I became a rough boy, too. If there is 
any truth in the idea of reincarnation — a point on which my 
mind is still open — I think some earlier experience of mine 
must have been as a stark fighter, for it came out strongly in 
youth, when I rejoiced in battle. We lived for some time 
in a cut de sac street with a very vivid life of its own and a 
fierce feud between the small boys who dwelt on either side of 
it. Finally it was fought out between two champions, I rep¬ 
resenting the poorer boys who lived in flats and my opponent 
the richer boys who lived in the opposite villas. We fought 
in the garden of one of the said villas and had an excellent 


6 Memories and Adventures 

contest of many rounds, not being strong enough to weaken 
each other. When I got home after the battle, my mother 
cried, “ Oh, Arthur, what a dreadful eye you have got! ” 
To which I relied, “ You just go across and look at Eddie 
Tulloch’s eye! ” 

I met a well-deserved setback on one occasion when I stood 
forward to fight a bootmaker’s boy, who had come into our 
preserve upon an errand. He had a green baize bag in his 
hand which contained a heavy boot, and this he swung against 
my skull with a force which knocked me pretty well senseless. 
It was a useful lesson. I will say for myself, however, that 
though I was pugnacious I was never so to those weaker than 
myself and that some of my escapades were in the defence of 
such. As I will show in my chapter on Sport, I carried on 
my tastes into a later period of my life. 

One or two little pictures stand out which may be worth 
recording. When my grandfather’s grand London friends 
passed through Edinburgh they used, to our occasional em¬ 
barrassment, to call at the little flat “to see how Charles is 
getting on.” In my earliest childhood such a one came, tall, 
white-haired and affable. I was so young that it seems like 
a faint dream, and yet it pleases me to think that I have sat 
on Thackeray’s knee. He greatly admired my dear little 
mother with her grey Irish eyes and her vivacious Celtic ways 
— indeed, no one met her without being captivated by her. 

Once, too, I got a glimpse of history. It was in 1866, if 
my dates are right, that some well-to-do Irish relatives asked 
us over for a few weeks, and we passed that time in a great 
house in King’s County. I spent much of it with the horses 
and dogs, and became friendly with the young groom. The 
stables opened on to a country road by an arched gate with 
a loft over it. One morning, being in the yard, I saw the 
young groom rush into the yard with every sign of fear and 
hastily shut and bar the doors. He then climbed into the loft, 
beckoning to me to come with him. From the loft window 
we saw a gang of rough men, twenty or so, slouching along 
the road. When they came opposite to the gate they stopped 
and looking up shook their fists and cursed at us. The groom 
answered back most volubly. Afterwards I understood that 


7 


Early Recollections 

these men were a party of Fenians, and that I had had a 
glimpse of one of the periodical troubles which poor old Ireland 
has endured. Perhaps now, at last, they may be drawing to 
an end. 

During these first ten years I was a rapid reader, so rapid 
that some small library with which we dealt gave my mother 
notice that books would not be changed more than twice a day. 
My tastes were boylike enough, for Mayne Reid was my favour¬ 
ite author, and his “ Scalp Hunters ” my favourite book. I 
wrote a little book and illustrated it myself in early days. 
There was a man in it and there was a tiger who amalgamated 
shortly after they met. I remarked to my mother with pre¬ 
cocious wisdom that it was easy to get people into scrapes, but 
not so easy to get them out again, which is surely the experience 
of every writer of adventures. 


CHAPTER II 


UNDER THE JESUITS 

The Preparatory School — The Mistakes of Education — Spartan School¬ 
ing— Corporal Punishment —Well-known School Fellows — Gloomy 
Forecasts — Poetry — London Matriculation — German School — A 
Happy Year — The Jesuits — Strange Arrival in Paris. 

I WAS in my tenth year when I was sent to Hodder, which 
is the preparatory school for Stonyhurst, the big Roman 
Catholic public school in Lancashire. It was a long journey 
for a little hoy who had never been away from home before, 
and I felt very lonesome and wept bitterly upon the way, but 
in due time I arrived safely at Preston, which was then the 
nearest station, and with many other small boys and our black- 
robed Jesuit guardians we drove some twelve miles to the 
school. Hodder is about a mile from Stonyhurst, and as all 
the boys there are youngsters under twelve, it forms a very 
useful institution, breaking a lad into school ways before he 
mixes with the big fellows. 

I had two years at Hodder. The year was not broken up 
by the frequent holidays which illuminate the present educa¬ 
tional period. Save for six weeks each summer, one never 
left the school. On the whole, those first two years were happy 
years. I could hold my own both in brain and in strength with 
my comrades. I was fortunate enough to get under the care 
of a kindly principal, one Eather Cassidy, who was more 
human than Jesuits usually are. I have always kept a warm 
remembrance of this man and of his gentle ways to the little 
boys — young rascals many of us — who were committed to 
his care. I remember the Franco-German War breaking out 
at this period, and how it made a ripple even in our secluded 
back-water. 

From Hodder I passed on to Stonyhurst, that grand medi¬ 
aeval dwelling-house which was left some hundred and fifty 
years ago to the Jesuits, who brought over their whole teaching 


9 


Under the Jesuits 

staff from some college in Holland in order to carry it on as 
a public school. The general curriculum, like the building, 
was mediaeval but sound. I understand it has been modernized 
since. There were seven classes — elements, figures, rudiments, 
grammar, syntax, poetry and rhetoric — and you were allotted 
a year for each, or seven in all — a course with which I faith¬ 
fully complied, two having already been completed at Hodder. 
It was the usual public school routine of Euclid, algebra and 
the classics, taught in the usual way, which is calculated to 
leave a lasting abhorrence of these subjects. To give boys a 
little slab of Yirgil or Homer with no general idea as to what 
it is all about or what the classical age was like, is surely an 
absurd way of treating the subject. I am sure that an intelli¬ 
gent boy could learn more by reading a good translation of 
Homer for a week than by a year’s study of the original as it 
is usually carried out. It was no worse at Stonyhurst than 
at any other school, and it can only be excused on the plea 
that any exercise, however stupid in itself, forms a sort of 
mental dumb-bell by which one can improve one’s mind. It 
is, I think, a thoroughly false theory. I can say with truth 
that my Latin and Greek, which cost me so many weary hours, 
have been little use to me in life, and that my mathematics 
have been no use at all. On the other hand, some things which 
I picked up almost by accident, the art of reading aloud, 
learned when my mother was knitting, or the reading of 
Erench books, learned by spelling out the captions of the 
Jules Verne illustrations, have been of the greatest possible 
service. Hy classical education left me with a horror of the 
classics, and I was astonished to find how fascinating they were 
when I read them in a reasonable manner in later years. 

Year by year, then, I see myself climbing those seven weary 
steps and passing through as many stages of my boyhood. I 
do not know if the Jesuit system of education is good or not; 
I would need to have tried another system as well before I 
could answer that. On the whole it was justified by results, 
for I think it turned out as decent a set of young fellows as 
any other school would do. In spite of a large infusion of 
foreigners and some disaffected Irish, we were a patriotic 
crowd, and our little pulse beat time with the heart of the 


10 Memories and Adventures 

nation. I am told that the average of V.C.’s and D.S.O.’s now 
held by old Stonyhurst boys is very high as compared with 
other schools. The Jesuit teachers have no trust in human 
nature, and perhaps they are justified. We were never allowed 
for an instant to be alone with each other, and I think that 
the immorality which is rife in public schools was at a mini¬ 
mum in consequence. In our games and our walks the priests 
always took part, and a master perambulated the dormitories 
at night. Such a system may weaken self-respect and self- 
help, but it at least minimizes temptation and scandal. 

The life was Spartan, and yet we had all that was needed. 
Dry bread and hot well-watered milk were our frugal breakfast. 
There was a “ joint ” and twice a week a pudding for dinner. 
Then there was an odd snack called “ bread and beer ” in 
the afternoon, a bit of dry bread and the most extraordinary 
drink, which was brown but had no other characteristic of 
beer. Finally, there was hot milk again, bread, butter, and 
often potatoes for supper. We were all very healthy on this 
regime, on Fridays. Everything in every way was plain to 
the verge of austerity, save that we dwelt in a beautiful build¬ 
ing, dined in a marble-floored hall with minstrels’ gallery, 
prayed in a lovely church, and generally lived in very choice 
surroundings so far as vision and not comfort was concerned. 

Corporal punishment was severe, and I can speak with feel¬ 
ing as I think few, if any, boys of my time endured more 
of it. It was of a peculiar nature, imported also, I fancy, 
from Holland. The instrument was a piece of india-rubber of 
the size and shape of a thick boot sole. This was called a 
“ Tolley ”— why, no one has explained, unless it is a Latin 
pun on what we had to bear. One blow of this instrument, 
delivered with intent, would cause the palm of the hand to 
swell up and change colour. When I say that the usual pun¬ 
ishment of the larger boys was nine on each hand, and that 
nine on one hand was the absolute minimum, it will be under¬ 
stood that it was a severe ordeal, and that the sufferer could 
not, as a rule, turn the handle of the door to get out of the 
room in which he had suffered. To take twice nine upon a 
cold day was about the extremity of human endurance. I 
think, however, that it was good for us in the end, for it was 


Under the Jesuits 11 

a point of honour with many of us not to show that we were 
hurt, and that is one of the best trainings for a hard life. If 
I was more beaten than others it was not that I was in any 
way vicious, but it was that I had a nature which responded 
eagerly to affectionate kindness (which I never received), hut 
which rebelled against threats and took a perverted pride in 
showing that it would not be cowed by violence. I went out of 
my way to do really mischievous and outrageous things simply 
to show that my spirit was unbroken. An appeal to my better 
nature and not to my fears would have found an answer at 
once. I deserved all I got for what I did, but I did it because 
I was mishandled. 

I do not remember any one who attained particular distinc¬ 
tion among my school-fellows, save Bernard Partridge of 
“ Punch,” whom I recollect as a very quiet, gentle boy. Father 
Thurston, who was destined to be one of my opponents in 
psychic matters so many years later, was in the class above 
me. There was a young novice, too, with whom I hardly came 
in contact, but whose handsome and spiritual appearance I 
well remember. He was Bernard Vaughan, afterwards the 
famous preacher. Save for one school-fellow, James Ryan — 
a remarkable boy who grew into a remarkable man — I carried 
away no lasting friendship from Stonyhurst. 

It was only in the latest stage of my Stonyhurst develop¬ 
ment that I realized that I had some literary streak in me 
which was not common to all. It came to me as quite a sixr- 
prise, and even more perhaps to my masters, who had taken 
a rather hopeless view of my future prospects. One master, 
when I told him that I thought of being a civil engineer, re¬ 
marked, “ Well, Doyle, you may be an engineer, but I don’t 
think you will ever be a civil one.” Another assured me that 
I would never do any good in the world, and perhaps from his 
point of view his prophecy has been justified. The particular 
incident, however, which brought my latent powers to the 
surface depended upon the fact that in the second highest 
class, which I reached in 1874, it was incumbent to write 
poetry (so called) on any theme given. This was done as a 
dreary unnatural task by most boys. Very comical their woo- 
ings of the muses used to be. For one saturated as I really 


12 


Memories and Adventures 

was with affection for verse, it was a labour of love, and I pro¬ 
duced verses which were poor enough in themselves but seemed 
miracles to those who had no urge in that direction. The par¬ 
ticular theme was the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites 
and my effort from — 

“ Like pallid daisies in a grassy wood, 

So round the sward the tents of Israel stood 

through — 

“ There was no time for thought and none for fear. 

For Egypt’s horse already pressed their rear.” 

down to the climax — 

“ One horrid cry! The tragedy was o’er, 

And Pharaoh with his army seen no more,”- 

was workmanlike though wooden and conventional. Anyhow, 
it marked what Mr. Stead used to call a signpost, and I real¬ 
ized myself a little. In the last year I edited the College 
magazine and wrote a good deal of indifferent verse. I also 
went up for the Matriculation examination of London Univer¬ 
sity, a good all-round test which winds up the Stonyhurst 
curriculum, and I surprised every one by taking honours, so 
after all I emerged from Stonyhurst at the age of sixteen with 
more credit than seemed probable from my rather questionable 
record. 

Early in my career there, an offer had been made to my 
mother that my school fees would be remitted if I were dedi¬ 
cated to the Church. She refused this, so both the Church 
and I had an escape. When I think, however, of her small 
income and great struggle to keep up appearances and make 
both ends meet, it was a fine example of her independence of 
character, for it meant paying out some £50 a year which might 
have been avoided by a word of assent. 

I had yet another year with the Jesuits, for it was deter¬ 
mined that I was still too young to begin any professional 
studies, and that I should go to Germany and learn German. 



MY MOTHER, AT 17. 
Drawn by Richard Doyle , July 1854, 

















X 
















13 


Under the Jesuits 

I wa9 despatched, therefore, to Eeldkirch, which is a Jesuit 
school in the Vorarlberg province of Austria, to which many 
better-class German hoys are sent. Here the conditions were 
much more humane and I met with far more human kindness 
than at Stonyhurst, with the immediate result that I ceased to 
be a resentful young rebel and became a pillar of law and 
order. 

I began badly, however, for on the first night of my arrival 
I was kept awake by a boy snoring loudly in the dormitory. 
I stood it as long as I could, but at last I was driven to action. 
Curious wooden compasses called bett-scheere, or “ bed-scissors,” 
were stuck into each side of the narrow beds. One of these I 
plucked out, walked down the dormitory, and, having spotted 
the offender, proceeded to poke him with my stick. He awoke 
and was considerably amazed to see in the dim light a large 
youth whom he had never seen before — I arrived after hours 
— assaulting him with a club. I was still engaged in stirring 
him up when I felt a touch on my shoulder and was confronted 
hy the master, who ordered me back to bed. Next morning 
I got a lecture on free-and-easy English ways, and taking the 
law into my own hands. But this start was really my worst 
lapse and I did well in the future. 

It was a happy year on the whole. I made less progress 
with German than I should, for there were about twenty Eng¬ 
lish and Irish boys who naturally balked the wishes of their 
parents by herding together. There was no cricket, but there 
were toboganning and fair football and a weird game — foot¬ 
ball on stilts. Then there were the lovely mountains round us, 
with an occasional walk among them. The food was better 
than at Stonyhurst and we had the pleasant German light beer 
instead of the horrible swipes of Stonyhurst. One unlooked- 
for accomplishment I acquired, for the boy who played the 
big brass bass instrument in the fine school band had not 
returned, and, as a well-grown lad was needed, I was at once 
enlisted in the service. I played in public — good music, too, 
“ Lohengrin,” and “ Tannhauser,”— within a week or two of 
my first lesson, but they pressed me on for the occasion and 
the Bombardon, as it was called, only comes in on a measured 
rhythm with an occasional run, which sounds like a hippopota- 


14 Memories and Adventures 

mus doing a step-dance. So big was the instrument that I 
remember the other bandsmen putting my sheets and blankets 
inside it and my surprise when I could not get out a note. 
It was in the summer of 1876 that I left Feldkirch, and I 
have always had a pleasant memory of the Austrian Jesuits 
and of the old schools. 

Indeed I have a kindly feeling towards all Jesuits, far as I 
have strayed from their paths. I see now both their limita¬ 
tions and their virtues. They have been slandered in some 
things, for during eight years of constant contact I cannot 
remember that they were less truthful than their fellows, or 
more casuistical than their neighbours. They were keen, 
clean-minded earnest men, so far as I knew them, with a few 
black sheep among them, but not many, for the process of 
selection was careful and long. In all ways, save in their 
theology, they were admirable, though this same theology 
made them hard and inhuman upon the surface, which is 
indeed the general effect of Catholicism in its more extreme 
forms. The convert is lost to the family. Their hard, nar¬ 
row outlook gives the Jesuits driving power, as is noticeable 
in the Puritans and all hard, narrow creeds. They are de¬ 
voted and fearless and have again and again, both in Canada, 
in South America and in China, been the vanguard of civiliza¬ 
tion to their own grievous hurt. They are the old guard of 
the Roman Church. But the tragedy is that they, who would 
gladly give their lives for the old faith, have in effect helped 
to ruin it, for it is they, according to Father Tyrrell and the 
modernists, who have been at the back of all those extreme 
doctrines of papal infallibility and Immaculate Conception, 
with a general all-round tightening of dogma, which have made 
it so difficult for the man with scientific desire for truth or 
with intellectual self-respect to keep within the Church. For 
some years Sir Charles Mivart, the last of Catholic Scientists, 
tried to do the impossible, and then he also had to leave go his 
hold, so that there is not, so far as I know, one single man of 
outstanding fame in science or in general thought who is a 
practising Catholic. This is the work of the extremists and 
is deplored by many of the moderates and fiercely condemned 
by the modernists. It depends also upon the inner Italian 


15 


Under the Jesuits 

directorate who give the orders. Nothing can exceed the un¬ 
compromising bigotry of the Jesuit theology, or their apparent 
ignorance of how it shocks the modern conscience. I remem¬ 
ber that when, as a grown lad, I heard Father Murphy, a 
great tierce Irish priest, declare that there was sure damna¬ 
tion for every one outside the Church, I looked upon him with 
horror, and to that moment I trace the first rift which has 
grown into such a chasm between me and those who were my 
guides. 

On my way back to England I stopped at Paris. Through 
all my life up to this point there had been an unseen grand¬ 
uncle, named Michael Conan, to whom I must now devote a 
paragraph. He came into the family from the fact that my 
father’s father (“ H. B.”) had married a Miss Conan. Michael 
Conan, her brother, had been editor of “ The Art Journal ” 
and was a man of distinction, an intellectual Irishman of the 
type which originally founded the Sinn Eein movement. He 
was as keen on heraldry and genealogy as my mother, and he 
traced his descent in some circuitous way from the Dukes of 
Brittany, who were all Conans; indeed Arthur Conan was 
the ill-fated young Duke whose eyes were put out, according 
to Shakespeare, by King John. This uncle was my godfather, 
and hence my name Arthur Conan. 

He lived in Paris and had expressed a wish that his grand¬ 
nephew and godson, with whom he had corresponded, should 
call en passant. I ran my money affairs so closely, after a 
rather lively supper at Strasburg, that when I reached Paris 
I had just twopence in my pocket. As I could not well drive 
up and ask my uncle to pay the cab I left my trunk at the 
station and set forth on foot. I reached the river, walked 
along it, came to the foot of the Champs £lysees, saw the Arc 
de Triomphe in the distance, and then, knowing that the Avenue 
Wagram, where my uncle lived, was near there, I tramped it 
on a hot August day and finally found him. I remember that 
I was exhausted with the heat and the walking, and that when 
at the last gasp I saw a man buy a drink of what seemed 
to be porter by handing a penny to a man who had a long 
tin on his back, I therefore halted the man and spent one of 
my pennies on a duplicate drink. It proved to be liquorice and 


16 Memories and Adventures 

water, but it revived me when I badly needed it, and it could 
not be said that I arrived penniless at my uncle’s, for I actually 
had a penny. 

So, for some penurious weeks, I was in Paris with this dear 
old volcanic Irishman, who spent the summer day in his shirt¬ 
sleeves, with a little dicky-bird of a wife waiting upon him. 
I am built rather on his lines of body and mind than on any 
of the Doyles. We made a true friendship, and then I re¬ 
turned to my home conscious that real life was about to begin. 


CHAPTER III 


RECOLLECTION'S OF A STUDENT 

Edinburgh University — A Sad Disappointment — Original of Professor 
Challenger — Of Sherlock Holmes — Deductions — Sheffield — Euyton 
— Birmingham — Literary Aspirations — First Accepted Story — My 
Father’s Death — Mental Position — Spiritual Yearnings — An Awk¬ 
ward Business. 

W HEIST I returned to Edinburgh, with little to show, 
either mental or spiritual, for my pleasant school year 
in Germany, I found that the family affairs were still as 
straitened as ever. Ho promotion had come to my father, and 
two younger children, Innes, my only brother, and Ida, had 
arrived to add to the calls upon my mother. Another sister, 
Julia, followed shortly afterwards. But Annette, the eldest 
sister, had already gone out to Portugal to earn and send home 
a fair salary, while Lottie and Connie were about to do the 
same. My mother had adopted the device of sharing a large 
house, which may have eased her in some ways, but was dis¬ 
astrous in others. 

Perhaps it was good for me that the times were hard, for 
I was wild, full-blooded, and a trifle reckless, but the situation 
called for energy and application, so that one was bound to 
try to meet it. My mother had been so splendid that we could 
not fail her. It had been determined that I should he a doctor, 
chiefly, I think, because Edinburgh was so famous a centre 
for medical learning. It meant another long effort for my 
mother, but she was very brave and ambitious where her chil¬ 
dren were concerned, and I was not only to have a medical 
education, but to take the University degree, which was a 
larger matter than a mere licence to practise. When I re¬ 
turned from Germany I found that there was a long list of 
bursaries and scholarships open for competition. I had a 
month in which to brush up my classics and then I went in 
for these, and was informed a week later that I had won the 


18 Memories and Adventures 

Grierson bursary of £40 for two years. Great were the rejoic¬ 
ings and all shadows seemed to be lifting. But on calling to 
get the money I was informed that there had been a clerical 
error, and that this particular bursary was only open to arts 
students. As there was a long list of prizes I naturally sup¬ 
posed that I would get the next highest, which was available 
for medicals. The official pulled a long face and said: “ Un¬ 
fortunately the candidate to whom it was allotted has already 
drawn the money.” It was manifest robbery, and yet I, who 
had won the prize and needed it so badly, never received it, 
and was eventually put off with a solatium of £7, which had 
accumulated from some fund. It was a bitter disappointment 
and, of course, I had a legal case, but what can a penniless 
student do, and what sort of college career would he have if 
he began it by suing his University for money? I was ad¬ 
vised to accept the situation, and there seemed no prospect 
of accepting anything else. 

So now behold me, a tall strongly-framed but half-formed 
young man, fairly entered upon my five years’ course of medical 
study. It can be done with diligence in four years, but there 
came, as I shall show, a glorious interruption which held me 
back for one year. I entered as a student in October 1876, 
and I emerged as a Bachelor of Medicine in August 1881. 
Between these two points lies one long weary grind at botany, 
chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and a whole list of compulsory 
subjects, many of which have a very indirect bearing upon 
the art of curing. The whole system of teaching, as I look 
back upon it, seems far too oblique and not nearly practical 
enough for the purpose in view. And yet Edinburgh is, I 
believe, more practical than most other colleges. It is practi¬ 
cal, too, in its preparation for life, since there is none of the 
atmosphere of an enlarged public school, as is the case in Eng¬ 
lish Universities, but the student lives a free man in his own 
rooms with no restrictions of any sort. It ruins some and 
makes strong men of many. In my own case, of course, this 
did not apply, since my family lived in the town, and I 
worked from my owu home. 

There was no attempt at friendship, or even acquaintance, 
between professors and students at Edinburgh. It- was a 


Recollections of a Student 19 

strictly business arrangement by which you paid, for example, 
four guineas for Anatomy lectures and received the winter 
course in exchange, never seeing your professor save behind 
his desk and never under any circumstances exchanging a word 
with him. They were remarkable men, however, some of these 
professors, and we managed to know them pretty well without 
any personal acquaintance. There was kindly Crum Brown, 
the chemist, who sheltered himself carefully before exploding 
some mixture, which usually failed to ignite, so that the loud 
“ Boom! ” uttered by the class was the only resulting sound. 
Brown would emerge from his retreat with a “ Eeally, gentle¬ 
men ! ” of remonstrance, and go on without allusion to the 
abortive experiment. There was Wyville Thomson, the zoolo¬ 
gist, fresh from his Challenger expedition, and Balfour, with 
the face and manner of John Knox, a hard rugged old man, 
who harried the students in their exams, and was in conse¬ 
quence harried by them for the rest of the year. There was 
Turner, a fine anatomist, but a self-educated man, as was be¬ 
trayed when he used to “take and put this structure on the 
handle of this scalpel.” The most human trait that I can recall 
of Turner was that upon one occasion the sacred quadrangle 
was invaded by snowballing roughs. His class, of whom I 
was one, heard the sounds of battle and fidgeted in their 
seats, on which the Professor said: “ I think, gentlemen, your 
presence may be more useful outside than here,” on which we 
flocked out with a whoop, and soon had the quadrangle clear. 
Most vividly of all, however, there stands out in my memory 
the squat figure of Professor Rutherford with his Assyrian 
beard, his prodigious voice, his enormous chest and his singular 
manner. He fascinated and awed us. I have endeavoured to 
reproduce some of his peculiarities in the fictitious character 
of Professor Challenger. He would sometimes start his lecture 
before he reached the classroom, so that we would hear a boom¬ 
ing voice saying: “ There are valves in the veins,” or some 
other information, when the desk was still empty. He was, I 
fear, a rather ruthless vivisector, and though I have always 
recognized that a minimum of painless vivisection is neces¬ 
sary, and far more justifiable than the eating of meat as a 
food, I am glad that the law was made more stringent so as 


20 Memories and Adventures 

to restrain such men as he. “ Xch, these Jarman Frags!” 
he would exclaim in his curious accent, as he tore some poor 
amphibian to pieces. I wrote a students’ song which is still 
sung, I understand, in which a curious article is picked up on 
the Portobello beach and each Professor in turn claims it for 
his department. Rutherford’s verse ran: 

Said Rutherford with a smile, 

“ It’s a mass of solid bile. 

And I myself obtained it, what is more. 

By a stringent cholagogue 
From a vivisected dog, 

And I lost it on the Portobello Shore.” 

If the song is indeed still sung it may he of interest to the 
present generation to know that I was the author. 

But the most notable of the characters whom I met was 
one Joseph Bell, surgeon at the Edinburgh Infirmary. Bell 
was a very remarkable man in body and mind. He was thin, 
wiry, dark, with a high-nosed acute face, penetrating grey 
eyes, angular shoulders, and a jerky way of walking. His 
voice was high and discordant. He was a very skilful surgeon, 
but his strong point was diagnosis, not only of disease, but of 
occupation and character. For some reason which I have never 
understood he singled me out from the drove of students who 
frequented his wards and made me his out-patient clerk, which 
meant that I had to array his out-patients, make simple notes 
of their cases, and then show them in, one by one, to the large 
room in which Bell sat in state surrounded by his dressers and 
students. Then I had ample chance of studying his methods 
and of noticing that he often learned more of the patient by 
a few- quick glances than I had done by my questions. Occa¬ 
sionally the results were very dramatic, though there were times 
when he blundered. In one of his best cases he said to a 
civilian patient: “ Well, my man, you’ve served in the army.” 

“Aye, sir.” 

“Hot long discharged? ” 

“ Ho, sir.” 

“ A Highland regiment ? ” 


Recollections of a Student 21 

“ Aye, sir.” 

“ A non-com. officer.” 

“ Aye, sir.” 

“ Stationed at Barbados ? ” 

“Aye, sir.” 

“ You see, gentlemen,” be would explain, “ tbe man was a 
respectful man but did not remove bis bat. They do not in 
the army, but he would have learned civilian ways had he 
been long discharged. He has an air of authority and he is 
obviously Scottish. As to Barbados, his complaint is ele¬ 
phantiasis, which is West Indian and not British.” To his 
audience of Watsons it all seemed very miraculous until it 
was explained, and then it became simple enough. It is no 
wonder that after the study of such a character I used and 
amplified his methods when in later life I tried to build up 
a scientific detective who solved cases on his own merits and 
not through the folly of the criminal. Bell took a keen interest 
in these detective tales and even made suggestions which were 
not, I am bound to say, very practical. I kept in touch with 
him for many years and he used to come upon my platform 
to support me when I contested Edinburgh in 1901. 

When I took over his out-patient work he warned me that 
a knowledge of Scottish idioms was necessary and I, with the 
confidence of youth, declared that I had got it. The sequel 
was amusing. On one of the first days an old man came who, 
in response to my question, declared that he had a “ healin’ in 
his oxter,” This fairly beat me, much to Bell’s amusement. 
It seems that the words really mean an abscess in the arm-pit. 

Speaking generally of my University career I may say that 
though I took my fences in my stride and balked at none of 
them, still I won no distinction in the race. I was always one 
of the ruck, neither lingering nor gaining — a 60 per cent, man 
at examinations. There were, however, some reasons for this 
which I will now state. 

It was clearly very needful that I should help financially 
as quickly as possible, even if my help only took the humble 
form of providing for my own keep. Therefore I endeavoured 
almost from the first to compress the classes for a year into 
half a year, and so to have some months in which to earn a 


22 Memories and Adventures 

little money as a medical assistant, who would dispense and do 
odd jobs for a doctor. When I first set forth to do this my 
services were so obviously worth nothing that I had to put that 
valuation upon them. Even then it might have been a hard 
bargain for the doctor, for I might have proved like the youth 
in “ Pickwick ” who had a rooted idea that oxalic acid was 
Epsom salts. However, I had horse sense enough to save 
myself and my employer from any absolute catastrophe. My 
first venture, in the early summer of ’78, was with a Hr. 
Richardson, running a low-class practice in the poorer quar¬ 
ters of Sheffield. I did my best, and I dare say he was patient, 
but at the end of three weeks we parted by mutual consent. I 
went on to London, where I renewed my advertisements in the 
medical papers, and found a refuge for some weeks with my 
Hoyle relatives, then living at Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale. 
I fear that I was too Bohemian for them and they too conven¬ 
tional for me. However, they were kind to me, and I roamed 
about London for some time with pockets so empty that there 
was little chance of idleness breeding its usual mischief. I 
remember that there were signs of trouble in the East and that 
the recruiting sergeants, who were very busy in Trafalgar 
Square, took my measure in a moment and were very in¬ 
sistent that I should take the shilling. There was a time when 
I was quite disposed to do so, but my mother’s plans held me 
back. I may say that late in the same year I did volunteer as 
a dresser for the English ambulances sent to Turkey for the 
Russian War, and was on the Red Cross list, but the collapse 
of the Turks prevented my going out. 

Soon, however, there came an answer to my advertisement: 
“ Third year’s student, desiring experience rather than re¬ 
muneration, offers his services, &c., &c.” It was from a Hr. 
Elliot living in a townlet in Shropshire which rejoiced in the 
extraordinary name of “ Ruyton-of-the-eleven-towns.” It was 
not big enough to make one town, far less eleven. There for 
four months I helped in a country practice. It was a very 
quiet existence and I had a good deal of time to myself under 
very pleasant circumstances, so that I really trace some little 
mental progress to that period, for I read and thought with¬ 
out interruption. My medical duties were of a routine nature 


Recollections of a Student 


23 


save on a few occasions. One of them still stands out in my 
memory, for it was the first time in my life that I ever had 
to test my own nerve in a great sudden emergency. The doctor 
was out when there came a half-crazed messenger to say that 
in some rejoicings at a neighbouring great house they had ex¬ 
ploded an old cannon which had promptly hurst and grievously 
injured one of the bystanders. dSTo doctor was available, so I 
was the last resource. On arriving there I found a man in 
bed with a lump of iron sticking out of the side of his head. 
I tried not to show the alarm which I felt, and I did the obvious 
thing by pulling out the iron. I could see the clean white 
hone, so I could assure them that the brain had not been in¬ 
jured. I then pulled the gash together, staunched the bleed¬ 
ing, and finally bound it up, so that when the doctor did at 
last arrive he had little to add. This incident gave me con¬ 
fidence and, what is more important still, gave others con¬ 
fidence. On the whole I had a happy time at Ruyton, and 
have a pleasing memory of Dr. Elliot and his wife. 

After a winter’s work at the University my next assistant- 
ship was a real money-making proposition to the extent of 
some two pounds a month. This was with Dr. Hoare, a well- 
known Birmingham doctor, who had a five-horse City practice, 
and every working doctor, before the days of motors, would 
realize that this meant going from morning to night. He 
earned some three thousand a year, which takes some doing, 
when it is collected from 3s. 6<f. visits and Is. Qd. bottles of 
medicine, among the very poorest classes of Aston. Hoare 
was a fine fellow, stout, square, red-faced, bushy-whiskered and 
dark-eyed. His wife was also a very kindly and gifted woman, 
and my position in the house was soon rather that of a son 
than of an assistant. The work, however, was hard and in¬ 
cessant, and the pay very small. I had long lists of prescrip¬ 
tions to make up every day, for we dispensed our own medi¬ 
cine, and one hundred bottles of an evening were not un¬ 
known. On the whole I made few mistakes, though I have 
been known to send out ointment and pill boxes with elaborate 
directions on the lid and nothing inside. I had my own visit¬ 
ing list, also, the poorest or the most convalescent, and I saw 
a great deal, for better or worse, of very low life. Twice I 


24 Memories and Adventures 

returned to this Birmingham practice and always my rela¬ 
tions with the family became closer. At my second visit my 
knowledge had greatly extended and I did midwifery cases, 
and the more severe cases in general practice as well as all the 
dispensing. I had no time to spend any money and it was as 
well, for every shilling was needed at home. 

It was in this year that I first learned that shillings might 
be earned in other ways than by filling phials. Some friend 
remarked to me that my letters were very vivid and surely I 
could write some things to sell. I may say that the general 
aspiration towards literature was tremendously strong upon 
me, and that my mind was reaching out in what seemed an 
aimless way in all sorts of directions. I used to be allowed 
twopence for my lunch, that being the price of a mutton pie, 
but near the pie shop was a second-hand book shop with a 
barrel full of old books and the legend “ Your choice for 2 d.” 
stuck above it. Ofter the price of my luncheon used to be 
spent on some sample out of this barrel, and I have within 
reach of my arm as I write these lines, copies of Gordon’s 
Tacitus, Temple’s works, Pope’s Homer, Addison’s Spectator 
and Swift’s works, which all came out of the twopenny box. 
Any one observing my actions and tastes would have said that 
so strong a spring would certainly overflow, but for my own 
part I never dreamed I could myself produce decent prose, 
and the remark of my friend, who was by no means given to 
flattery, took me greatly by surprise. I sat down, however, 
and wrote a little adventure story which I called “ The Mys¬ 
tery of the Sassassa Valley.” To my great joy and surprise 
it was accepted by “ Chambers’ Journal,” and I received three 
guineas. It mattered not that other attempts failed. I had 
done it once and I cheered myself by the thought that I could 
do it again. It was years before I touched “ Chambers’ ” 
again, but in 1879 I had a story, “ The American’s Tale,” in 
u London Society,” for which also I got a small cheque. But 
the idea of real success was still far from my mind. 

During all this time our family affairs had taken, no turn 
for the better, and had it not been for my excursions and for 
the work of my sisters we could hardly have carried on. My 
father’s health had utterly broken, he had to retire to that 


Recollections of a Student 25 

Convalescent Home in which the last years of his life were 
spent, and I, aged twenty, found myself practically the head 
of a large and struggling family. My father’s life was full 
of the tragedy of unfulfilled powers and of undeveloped gifts, 
lie had his weaknesses, as all of us have ours, but he had also 
some very remarkable and outstanding virtues. A tall man, 
loug-bearded, and elegant, he had a charm of manner and a 
courtesy of hearing which I have seldom seen equalled. His 
wit was quick and playful. He possessed, also, a remarkable 
delicacy of mind which would give him moral courage enough 
to rise and leave any company which talked' in a manner 
which was coarse. When he passed away a few years later I 
am sure that Charles Doyle had no enemy in the world, and 
that those w r ho knew him best sympathized most with the hard 
fate which had thrown him, a man of sensitive genius, into an 
environment which neither his age nor his nature was fitted to 
face. He was unworldly and unpractical and his family suf¬ 
fered for it, but even his faults were in some ways the result 
of his developed spirituality. He lived and died a fervent 
son of the Roman Catholic faith. My mother, however, who 
had never been a very devoted daughter of that great institu¬ 
tion, became less so as life progressed, and finally found her 
chief consolation in the Anglican fold. 

This brings me to my own spiritual unfolding, if such it 
may be called, during those years of constant struggle. I have 
already in my account of the Jesuits shown how, even as a 
hoy, all that was sanest and most generous in my nature rose 
up against a narrow theology and an uncharitable outlook upon 
the other great religions of the world. In the Catholic Church 
to doubt anything is to doubt everything, for since it is a vital 
axiom that doubt is a mortal sin when once it has, unhidden 
and unappeasable, come upon you, everything is loosened and 
you look upon the whole wonderful interdependent scheme with 
other and more critical eyes. Thus viewed there was much to 
attract — its traditions, its unbroken and solemn ritual, the 
beauty and truth of many of its observances, its poetical appeal 
to the emotions, the sensual charm of music, light and incense, 
its power as an instrument of law and order. Tor the guid¬ 
ance of an unthinking and uneducated world it could in many 


26 Memories and Adventures 

ways hardly be surpassed, as has been shown in Paraguay, 
and in the former Ireland where, outside agrarian trouble, 
crime was hardly known. All this I could clearly see, but if 
I may claim any outstanding characteristic in my life, it is 
that I have never paltered or compromised with religious mat¬ 
ters, that I have always weighed them very seriously, and that 
there was something in me which made it absolutely impossi¬ 
ble, even when my most immediate interests were concerned, 
to say anything about them save that which I, in the depth 
of my being, really believed to he true. Judging it thus by 
all the new knowledge which came to me both from my reading 
and from my studies, I found that the foundations not only of 
Homan Catholicism but of the whole Christian faith, as pre¬ 
sented to me in nineteenth century theology, were so weak 
that my mind could not build upon them. It is to be remem¬ 
bered that these were the years when Huxley, Tyndall, Dar¬ 
win, Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill were our chief 
philosophers, and that even the man in the street felt the 
strong sweeping current of their thought, while to the young 
student, eager and impressionable, it was overwhelming. I 
know now that their negative attitude was even more mistaken, 
and very much more dangerous, than the positive positions 
which they attacked with such destructive criticism. A gap 
had opened between our fathers and ourselves so suddenly and 
completely that when a Gladstone wrote to uphold the Gada- 
rene swine, or the six days of Creation, the youngest student 
rightly tittered over his arguments, and it did not need a 
Huxley to demolish them. I can see now very clearly how de¬ 
plorable it is that manifest absurdities should be allowed to 
continue without even a footnote to soften them in the sacred 
text, because it has the effect that what is indeed sacred be¬ 
comes overlaid, and one can easily be persuaded that what is 
false in parts can have no solid binding force. There are no 
worse enemies of true religion than those who clamour against 
all revision or modification of that strange mass of superbly 
good and questionable matter which we lump all together into 
a single volume as if there were the same value to all of it. 
It is not solid gold, but gold in clay, and if this be understood 
the earnest seeker will not cast it aside when he comes upon 


Recollections of a Student 27 

the clay, hut will value the gold the more in that he has him¬ 
self separated it. 

It was, then, all Christianity, and not Roman Catholicism 
alone, which had alienated my mind and driven me to an 
agnosticism, which never for an instant degenerated into athe¬ 
ism, for I had a very keen perception of the wonderful poise 
of the universe and the tremendous power of conception and 
sustenance which it implied. I was reverent in all my doubts 
and never ceased to think upon the matter, hut the more I 
thought the more confirmed became my non-conformity. In a 
broad sense I was a Unitarian, save that I regarded the Bible 
with more criticism than Unitarians usually show. This nega¬ 
tive position was so firm that it seemed to me to be a terminus; 
whereas it proved only a junction on the road of life where I 
was destined to change from the old well-worn line on to a 
new one. Every materialist, as I can now clearly see, is a case 
of arrested development. He has cleared his ruins, but has 
not begun to build that which would shelter him. As to 
psychic knowledge, I knew it only by the account of exposures 
in the police courts and the usual wild and malicious state¬ 
ments in the public press. Years were to pass before I under¬ 
stood that in that direction might be found the positive proofs 
which I constantly asserted were the only conditions upon 
which I could resume any sort of allegiance to the unseen. I 
must have definite demonstration, for if it were to be a matter 
of faith then I might as well go back to the faith of my fathers. 
a Never will I accept anything which cannot be proved to me. 
The evils of religion have all come from accepting things which 
cannot be proved.” So I said at the time and I have been true 
to my resolve. 

I would not give the impression that my life was gloomy 
or morbidly thoughtful because it chanced that I had some 
extra cares and some worrying thoughts. I had an eager na¬ 
ture which missed nothing in the way of fun which could be 
gathered, and I had a great capacity for enjoyment. I read 
much. I played games all I could. I danced, and I sampled 
the drama whenever I had a sixpence to carry me to the gal¬ 
lery. On one occasion I got into a row which might have been 
serious. I was waiting on the gallery steps with a great line 


\ 

28 Memories and Adventures 

of people, the shut door still facing us. There were half a 
dozen soldiers in the crowd and one of these squeezed a girl 
up against the wall in such a way that she began to scream. 
As I was near them I asked the man to be more gentle, on 
which he dug his elbow with all his force into my ribs. He 
turned on me as he did so, and I hit him with both hands in 
the face. He bored into me and pushed me up into the angle 
of the door, but I had a grip of him and he could not hit me, 
though he tried to kick me in cowardly fashion with his knee. 
Several of his comrades threatened me, and one hit me on 
the head with his cane, cracking my hat. At this moment 
luckily the door opened and the rush of the crowd carried the 
soldiers on, one sympathetic corporal saying, “ Take your 
breath, sir! Take your breath!” I threw my man through 
the open door and came home, for it was clearly asking for 
trouble if I remained. It was a good escape from an awkward 
business. 

And now I come to the first real outstanding adventure 
in my life, which is worthy of a fresh chapter and of a more 
elaborate treatment. 


CHAPTER IV 

WHALING IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN 

The Hope — John Gray — Boxing — The Terrible Mate — Our Criminal — 
First Sight of a Woman — A Hurricane — Dangers of the Fishing 
— Three Dips in the Arctic — The Idlers’ Boat — Whale Taking — 
Glamour of the Arctic — Effect of Voyage. 

I T was in the Hope, under the command of the well-known 
whaler, John Gray, that I paid a seven months’ visit to the 
Arctic Seas in the year 1880. I went in the capacity of sur¬ 
geon, hut as I was only twenty years of age when I started, and 
as my knowledge of medicine was that of an average third 
year’s student, I have often thought that it was as well that 
there was no very serious call upon my services. 

It came about in this way. One raw afternoon in Edin¬ 
burgh, whilst I was sitting reading hard for one of those ex¬ 
aminations which blight the life of a medical student, there 
entered to me one Currie, a fellow-student with whom I had 
some slight acquaintance. The monstrous question which he 
asked drove all thought of my studies out of my head. 

“ Would you care,” said he, “ to start next week for a whal¬ 
ing cruise? You’ll be surgeon, two pound ten a month and 
three shillings a ton oil money.” 

“ How do you kqow I’ll get the berth ? ” was my natural 
question. 

“ Because I have it myself. I find at this last moment that 
I can’t go, and I want to get a man to take my place.” 

“ How about an Arctic kit ? ” 

“ You can have mine.” 

In an instant the thing was settled, and within a few min¬ 
utes the current of my life had been deflected into a new 
channel. 

In little more than a week I was in Peterhead, and busily 
engaged, with the help of the steward, in packing away my 
scanty belongings in the locker beneath my hunk on the good 
ship Hope. 


30 Memories and Adventures 

I speedily found that the chief duty of the surgeon was to 
he the companion of the captain, who is cut off by the etiquette 
of the trade from anything but very brief and technical talks 
with his other officers. I should have found it intolerable if 
the captain had been a bad fellow, but John Gray of the Hope 
was a really splendid man, a grand seaman and a serious- 
minded Scot, so that he and I formed a comradeship which 
was never marred during our long tete-a-tete. I see him now, 
his ruddy face, his grizzled hair and beard, his very light blue 
eyes always looking into far spaces, and his erect muscular 
figure. Taciturn, sardonic, stern on occasion, but always a 
good just man at bottom. 

There was one curious thing about the manning of the Hope. 
The man who signed on as first mate was a little, decrepit, 
broken fellow, absolutely incapable of performing the duties. 
The cook’s assistant, on the other hand, was a giant of a man, 
red-bearded, bronzed, with huge limbs, and a voice of thunder. 
But the moment that the ship cleared the harbour the little, 
decrepit mate disappeared into the cook’s galley, and acted 
as scullery-boy for the voyage, while the mighty scullery-boy 
walked aft and became chief mate. The fact was, that the 
one had the certificate, but was past sailoring, while the other 
could neither read nor write, but was as fine a seaman as ever 
lived; so, by an agreement to which everybody concerned was 
party, they swapped their berths when they were at sea. 

Colin McLean, with his six foot of stature, his erect, stal¬ 
wart figure, and his fierce, red beard, pouring out from be¬ 
tween the flaps of his sealing-cap, was an officer by natural 
selection, which is a higher title than that of a Board of Trade 
certificate. His only fault was that he was a very hot-blooded 
man, and that a little would excite him to a frenzy. I have 
a vivid recollection of an evening which I spent in dragging 
him off the steward, who had imprudently made some criticism 
upon his way of attacking a whale which had escaped. Both 
men had had some rum, which had made the one argumentative 
and the other violent, and as we were all three seated in a 
space of about seven by four, it took some hard work to pre¬ 
vent bloodshed. Every now and then, just as I thought all 
danger was past, the steward would begin again with his 


Whaling in the Arctic Ocean 31 

fatuous, “ No offence, Colin, but all I says is that if you had 

been a bit quicker on the fusb-” I don’t know bow often 

this sentence was begun, but never once was it ended; for at 
the word “ fusb ” Colin always seized him by the throat, and I 
Colin round the waist, and we struggled until we were all pant¬ 
ing and exhausted. Then when the steward had recovered a 
little breath he would start that miserable sentence once more, 
and the “ fush ” would be the signal for another encounter. I 
really believe that if I had not been there the mate would 
have hurt him, for he was quite the angriest man that I have 
ever seen. 

There were fifty men upon our whaler, of whom half were 
Scotchmen and half Shetlanders, whom we picked up at Ler¬ 
wick as we passed. The Shetlanders were the steadier and 
more tractable, quiet, decent, and soft-spoken; while the Scotch 
seamen were more likely to give trouble, but also more virile 
and of stronger character. The officers and harpooners were 
all Scotch, but as ordinary seamen, and especially as boatmen, 
the Shetlanders were as good as could be wished. 

There was only one man on board who belonged neither to 
Scotland nor to Shetland, and he was the mystery of the ship. 
He was a tall, swarthy, dark-eyed man, with blue-black hair 
and beard, singularly handsome features, and a curious, reck¬ 
less sling of his shoulders when he walked. It was rumoured 
that he came from the south of England, and that he had fled 
thence to avoid the law. He made friends with no one, and 
spoke very seldom, but he was one of the smartest seamen in 
the ship. I could believe from his appearance that his tem¬ 
per was Satanic, and that the crime for which he was hiding 
may have been a bloody one. Only once he gave us a glimpse 
of his hidden fires. The cook — a very burly, powerful man 
— the little mate was only assistant — had a private store of 
rum, and treated himself so liberally to it that for three suc¬ 
cessive days the dinner of the crew was ruined. On the third 
day our silent outlaw approached the cook with a brass sauce¬ 
pan in his hand. He said nothing, but he struck the man 
such a frightful blow that his head flew through the bottom 
and the sides of the pan were left dangling round his neck. 
The half-drunken, half-stunned cook talked of fighting, but 



32 Memories and Adventures 

lie was soon made to feel that the sympathy of the ship was 
against him, so he reeled back, grumbling, to his duties while 
the avenger relapsed into his usual moody indifference. We 
heard no further complaints of the cooking. 

I have spoken of the steward, and as I look hack at that 
long voyage, during which for seven months we never set foot 
on land, the kindly open face of Jack Lamb comes back to me. 
He had a beautiful and sympathetic tenor voice, and many an 
hour have I listened to it with its accompaniment of rattling 
plates and jingling knives, as he cleaned up the dishes in his 
pantry. He had a great memory for pathetic and sentimental 
songs, and it is only when you have not seen a woman’s face 
for six months that you realize what sentiment means. When 
Jack trilled out “ Her bright smile haunts me still,” or “ Wait 
for me at Heaven’s Gate, sweet Belle Mahone,” he filled us 
all with a vague sweet discontent which comes back to me now 
as I think of it. To appreciate a woman one has to be out 
of sight of one for six months. I can well remember that as 
we rounded the north of Scotland on our return we dipped 
our flag to the lighthouse, being only some hundreds of yards 
from the shore. A figure emerged to answer our salute, and 
the excited whisper ran through the ship, “ It’s a wumman! ” 
The captain was on the bridge with his telescope. I had the 
binoculars in the bows. Every one was staring. She was well 
over fifty, short skirts and sea boots — but she was a “ wum¬ 
man.” “ Anything in a mutch! ” the sailors used to say, and 
I was of the same way of thinking. 

However, all this has come before its time. It was, I find 
by my log, on February 28 at 2 p.m. that we sailed from Peter¬ 
head, amid a great crowd and uproar. The decks were as 
clean as a yacht, and it was very unlike my idea of a whaler. 
We ran straight into bad weather and the glass went down 
at one time to 28.375, which is the lowest reading I can re¬ 
member in all my ocean wanderings. We just got into Ler¬ 
wick Harbour before the full force of the hurricane broke, 
which was so great that lying at anchor with bare poles and 
partly screened we were blown over to an acute angle. If it 
had taken us a few hours earlier we should certainly have lost 
our boats — and the boats are the life of a whaler. It was 


Whaling in the Arctic Ocean 33 

March 11 before the weather moderated enough to let us get 
on, and by that time there were twenty whalers in the hay, 
so that our setting forth was quite an occasion. That night 
and for a day longer the Hope had to take refuge in the le© 
of one of the outlying islands. I got ashore and wandered 
among peat hogs, meeting strange, barbarous, kindly people 
who knew nothing of the world. I was led back to the ship 
by a wild, long-haired girl holding a torch, for the peat holes 
make it dangerous at night — I can see her now, her tangled 
black hair, her bare legs, madder-stained petticoat, and wild 
features under the glare of the torch. I spoke to one old man 
there who asked me the news. I said, “ The Tay bridge is 
down,” which was then a fairly stale item. He said, “ Eh, 
have they built a brig over the Tay?” After that I felt in¬ 
clined to tell him about the Indian Mutiny. 

«/ 

What surprised me most in the Arctic regions was the 
rapidity with which you reach them. I had never realized that 
they lie at our very doors. I think that we were only four 
days out from Shetland when we were among the drift ice. 
I awoke one morning to hear the bump, bump of the floating 
pieces against the side of the ship, and I went on deck to see 
the whole sea covered with them to the horizon. They were 
none of them large, but they lay so thick that a man might 
travel far by springing from one to the other. Their dazzling 
whiteness made the sea seem bluer by contrast, and with a blue 
sky above, and that glorious Arctic air in one’s nostrils, it 
was a morning to remember. Once on one of the swaying, 
rocking pieces we saw a huge seal, sleek, sleepy, and imper¬ 
turbable, looking up with the utmost assurance at the ship, 
as if it knew that the close time had still three weeks to run. 
Further on we saw on the ice the long human-like prints of a 
bear. All this with the snowdrops of Scotland still fresh in 
our glasses in the cabin. 

I have spoken about the close time, and I may explain that, 
by an agreement between the Norwegian and British Govern¬ 
ments, the subjects of both nations are forbidden to kill a seal 
before April 3. The reason for this is that the breeding sea¬ 
son is in March, and if the mothers should be killed before 
the young are able to take care of themselves, the race would 


34 Memories and Adventures 

soon become extinct. For breeding purposes the seals all 
come together at a variable spot, which is evidently pre¬ 
arranged among them, and as this place can be anywhere 
within many hundreds of square miles of floating ice, it is 
no easy matter for the fisher to find it. The means by which 
he sets about it are simple but ingenious. As the ship makes 
its way through the loose ice-streams, a school of seals is ob¬ 
served travelling through the water. Their direction is care¬ 
fully taken by compass and marked upon the chart. An hour 
afterwards perhaps another school is seen. This is also 
marked. When these bearings have been taken several times, 
the various lines upon the chart are prolonged until they inter¬ 
sect. At this point, or near it, it is likely that the main pack 
of the seals will be found. 

When you do come upon it, it is a wonderful sight. I sup¬ 
pose it is the largest assembly of creatures upon the face of 
the world — and this upon the open icefields hundreds of miles 
from the Greenland coast. Somewhere between 71 deg. and 
75 deg. is the rendezvous, and the longitude is even vaguer; 
but the seals have no difficulty in finding the address. From 
the crow’s nest at the top of the main-mast, one can see no 
end of them. On the furthest visible ice one can still see that 
sprinkling of pepper grains. And the young lie everywhere 
also, snow-white slugs, with a little black nose and large dark 
eyes. Their half-human cries fill the air; and when you are 
sitting in the cabin of a ship which is in the heart of the seal- 
pack, you would think you were next door to a monstrous 
nursery. 

The Hope was one of the first to find the seal-pack that year, 
but before the day came when hunting was allowed, we had 
a succession of strong gales, followed by a severe roll, which 
tilted the floating ice and launched the young seals prema¬ 
turely into the water. And so, when the law at last allowed 
us to begin work, Nature had left us with very little work to 
do. However, at dawn upon the third, the ship’s company 
took to the ice, and began to gather in its murderous harvest. 
It is brutal work, though not more brutal than that which goes 
on to supply every dinner-table in the country. And yet those 
glaring crimson pools upon the dazzling white of the icefields, 


Whaling in the Arctic Ocean 35 

under the peaceful silence of a blue Arctic sky, did seem a 
horrible intrusion. But an inexorable demand creates an 
inexorable supply, and the seals, by their death, help to give 
a living to the long line of seamen, dockers, tanners, curers, 
triers, chandlers, leather merchants, and oil-sellers, who stand 
between this annual butchery on the one hand, and the ex¬ 
quisite, with his soft leather hoots, or the savant, using a deli¬ 
cate oil for his philosophical instruments, upon the other. 

I have cause to remember that first day of sealing on ac¬ 
count of the adventures which befell me. I have said that a 
strong swell had arisen, and as this was dashing the floating 
ice together the captain thought it dangerous for an inexperi¬ 
enced man to venture upon it. And so, just as I was clamber¬ 
ing over the bulwarks with the rest, he ordered me back and 
told me to remain on board. My remonstrances were useless, 
and at last, in the blackest of tempers, I seated myself upon 
the top of the bulwarks, with my feet dangling over the outer 
side, and there I nursed my wrath, swinging up and down 
with the roll of the ship. It chanced, however, that I was 
really seated upon a thin sheet of ice which had formed upon 
the wood, and so when the swell threw her over to a particu¬ 
larly acute angle, I shot off and vanished into the sea between 
two ice-blocks. As I rose, I clawed on to one of these, and 
soon scrambled on board again. The accident brought about 
what I wished, however, for the captain remarked that as I 
was bound to fall into the ocean in any case, I might just as 
well he on the ice as on the ship. I justified his original cau¬ 
tion by falling in twice again during the day, and I finished 
it ignominiously by having to take to my bed while all my 
clothes were drying in the engine-room. I was consoled for 
my misfortunes by finding that they amused the captain to 
such an extent that they drove the ill-success of our sealing 
out of his head, and I had to answer to the name of “ the 
great northern diver ” for a long time thereafter. I had a 
narrow escape once through stepping backwards over the edge 
of a piece of floating ice while I was engaged in skinning a 
seal. I had wandered away from the others, and no one saw 
my misfortune. The face of the ice was so even that I had 
no purchase by which to pull myself up, and my body was 


36 Memories and Adventures 

rapidly becoming numb in tbe freezing water. At last, how¬ 
ever, X caught hold of the hind flipper of the deal seal, and 
there was a kind of nightmare tug-of-war, the question being 
whether I should pull the seal off or pull myself on. At last, 
however, I got my knee over the edge and rolled on to it. I 
remember that my clothes were as hard as a suit of armour 
by the time I reached the ship, and that I had to thaw my 
crackling garments before I could change them. 

This April sealing is directed against the mothers and 
young. Then, in May, the sealer goes further north, and 
about latitude 77 deg. or 78 deg. he comes upon the old male 
seals, who are by no means such easy victims. They are wary 
creatures, and it takes good long-range shooting to bag them. 
Then, in June, the sealing is over, and the ship bears away 
further north still, until in the 79th or 80th degree she is in 
the best Greenland whaling latitudes. There we stayed for 
three months or so, with very varying fortunes, for though we 
pursued many whales, only four were slain. 

There are eight boats on board a whaler, but it is usual to 
send out only seven, for it takes six men to man each, so that 
when seven are out no one is left on board save the so-called 
“ idlers ” who have not signed to do seaman’s work at all. It 
happened, however, that aboard the Hope the idlers were 
rather a hefty crowd, so we volunteered to man the odd boat, 
and we made it, in our own estimation at least, one of the most 
efficient, both in sealing and in whaling. The steward, the 
second engineer, the donkey-engine man, and I were the oars, 
with a red-headed Highlander for harpooner and the hand¬ 
some outlaw to steer. Our tally of seals was high, and in 
whaling we were once the lancing and once the harpooning 
boat, so our record was good. So congenial was the work to 
me that Captain Gray was good enough to offer to make me 
harpooner as well as surgeon, with the double pay, if I would 
come with him on a second voyage. It is well that I refused, 
for the life is dangerously fascinating. 

It is exciting work pulling on to a whale. Your own back 
is turned to him, and all you know about him is what you 
read upon the face of the boat-steerer. He is staring out over 
your head, watching the creature as it swims slowly through 



STEAM-WHALER “HOPE. 





























< 












Whaling *in the Arctic Ocean 37 

the water, raising his hand now and again as a signal to stop 
rowing when he sees that the eye is coming round, and then 
resuming the stealthy approach when the whale is end on. 
There are so many floating pieces of ice, that as long as the oars 
are quiet the boat alone will not cause the creature to dive. 
So you creep slowly up, and at last you are so near that the 
boat-steerer knows that you can get there before the creature 
has time to dive — for it takes some little time to get that huge 
body into motion. You see a sunken gleam in his eyes, and a 
flush in his cheeks, and it’s “ Give way, boys! Give way, all! 
Hard! ” Click goes the trigger of the big harpoon gun, and 
the foam flies from your oars. Six strokes, perhaps, and 
then with a dull greasy squelch the bows run upon something 
soft, and you and your oars are sent flying in every direction. 
But little you care for that, for as you touched the whale you 
have heard the crash of the gun, and know that the harpoon has 
been fired point-blank into the huge, lead-coloured' curve of 
its side. The creature sinks like a stone, the bows of the 
boat splash down into the water again, but there is the little 
red Jack flying from the centre thwart to show that you are 
fast, and there is the line whizzing swiftly under the seats 
and over the bows between your outstretched feet. 

And this is the great element of danger — for it is rarely 
indeed that the whale has spirit enough to turn upon its ene¬ 
mies. The line is very carefully coiled by a special man 
named the line-coiler, and it is warranted not to kink. If it 
should happen to do so, however, and if the loop catches the 
limbs of any one of the boat’s crew, that man goes to his death 
so rapidly that his comrades hardly know that he has gone. 
It is a waste of fish to cut the line, for the victim is already 
hundreds of fathoms deep. 

u Haud your hand, mon,” cried the harpooner, as a seaman 
raised his knife on such an occasion. “ The fush will be a fine 
thing for the widdey.” It sounds callous, but there was phi¬ 
losophy at the base of it. 

This is the harpooning, and that boat has no more to do. 
But the lancing, when the weary fish is killed with the cold 
steel, is a more exciting because it is a more prolonged experi¬ 
ence. You may be for half an hour so near to the creature 


38 Memories and Adventures 

that you can lay your hand upoii its slimy side. The whale 
appears to have but little sensibility to pain, for it never 
winces when the long lances are passed through its body. But 
its instinct urges it to get its tail to work on the boats, and 
yours urges you to keep poling and boat-hooking along its side, 
so as to retain your safe position near its shoulder. Even 
there, however, we found on one occasion that we were not 
quite out of danger’s way, for the creature in its flurry raised 
its huge-side-flapper and poised it over the boat. One flap 
would have sent us to the bottom of the sea, and I can never 
forget how, as we pushed our way from under, each of us held 
one hand up to stave off that great, threatening fin — as if any 
strength of ours could have availed if the whale had meant 
it to descend. But it was spent with loss of blood, and in¬ 
stead of coming down the fin rolled over the other way, and 
we knew that it was dead. Who would swap that moment for 
any other triumph that sport can give ? 

The peculiar other-world feeling of the Arctic regions — a 
feeling so singular that if you have once been there the thought 
of it haunts you all your life — is due largely to the perpetual 
daylight. Night seems more orange-tinted and subdued than 
day, but there is no great difference. Some captains have been 
known to turn their hours right round out of caprice, with 
breakfast at night and supper at ten in the morning. There 
are your twenty-four hours, and you may carve them as you 
like. After a month or two the eyes grow weary of the eternal 
light, and you appreciate what a soothing thing our darkness 
is. I can remember as we came abreast of Iceland, on our 
return, catching our first glimpse of a star, and being unable 
to take my eyes from it, it seemed such a dainty little twinkling 
thing. Half the beauties of Nature are lost through over¬ 
familiarity. 

Your sense of loneliness also heightens the effect of the 
Arctic Seas. When we were in whaling latitudes it is prob¬ 
able that, with the exception of our consort, there was no vessel 
within 800 miles of us. For seven long months no letter and 
no news came to us from the southern world. We had left in 
exciting times. The Afghan campaign had been undertaken, 
and war seemed imminent with Russia. We returned oppo- 


Whaling in the Arctic Ocean 39 

site the mouth of the Baltic without any means of knowing 
whether some cruiser might not treat us as we had treated the 
whales. When we met a fishing-boat at the north of Shetland 
our first inquiry was as to peace or war. Great events had 
happened during those seven months: the defeat of Maiwand 
and the famous march of Roberts from Cabul to Candahar. 
But it was all haze to us; and, to this day, I have never been 
able to get that particular bit of military history straightened 
out in my own mind. 

The perpetual light, the glare of the white ice, the deep 
blue of the water, these are the things which one remembers 
most clearly, and the dry, crisp, exhilarating air, which makes 
mere life the keenest of pleasures. And then there are the 
innumerable sea-birds, whose call is for ever ringing in your 
ears — the gulls, the fulmars, the snow-birds, the burgomas¬ 
ters, the loons, and the rotjes. These fill the air, and below, 
the waters are for ever giving you a peep of some strange new 
creature. The commercial whale may not often come your 
way, but his less valuable brethren abound on every side. The 
finner shows his 90 feet of worthless tallow, with the absolute 
conviction that no whaler would condescend to lower a boat for 
him. The mis-shapen hunchback whale, the ghost-like white 
whale, the narwhal, with his unicorn horn, the queer-looking 
bottle-nose, the huge, sluggish, Greenland shark, and the ter¬ 
rible killing grampus, the most formidable of all the monsters 
of the deep,— these are the creatures who own those unsailed 
seas. On the ice are the seals, the saddle-backs, the ground 
seals and the huge bladdernoses, 12 feet from nose to tail, with 
the power of blowing up a great blood-red football upon their 
noses when they are angry, which they usually are. Occa¬ 
sionally one sees a white Arctic fox upon the ice, and every¬ 
where are the bears. The floes in the neighbourhood of the 
sealing-ground are all criss-crossed with their tracks — poor 
harmless creatures, with the lurch and roll of a deep-sea mari¬ 
ner. It is for the sake of the seals that they come out over 
those hundreds of miles of ice; and they have a very ingenious 
method of catching them, for they will choose a big icefield 
with just one blow-hole for seals in the middle of it. Here 
the bear will squat, with its powerful forearms crooked round 


40 


Memories and Adventures 


the hole. Then, when the seal’s head pops up, the great paws 
snap together, and Bruin has got his luncheon. We used occa¬ 
sionally to burn some of the cook’s refuse in the engine-room 
fires, and the smell would, in a few hours, bring up every bear 
for many miles to leeward of us. 

Though twenty or thirty whales have been taken in a single 
year in the Greenland seas, it is probable that the great slaugh¬ 
ter of last century has diminished their number until there are 
not more than a few hundreds in existence. I mean, of course, 
of the right whale, for the others, as I have said, abound. It is 
difficult to compute the numbers of a species which comes and 
goes over great tracts of water and among huge icefields, but 
the fact that the same whale is often pursued by the same 
whaler upon successive trips shows how limited their number 
must be. There was one, I remember, which was conspicuous 
through having a huge wart, the size and shape of a beehive, 
upon one of the flukes of its tail. “ I’ve been after that fellow 
three times,” said the captain, as we dropped our boats. “ He 
got away in ’71. In ’74 we had him fast, but the harpoon 
drew. In ’76 a fog saved him. It’s odds that we have him 
now! ” I fancied that the betting lay rather the other way 
myself, and so it proved, for that warty tail is still thrashing 
the Arctic seas for all that I know to the contrary. 

I shall never forget my own first sight of a right whale. It. 
had been seen by the look-out on the other side of a small ice¬ 
field, but had siink as we all rushed on deck. For ten minutes 
we awaited its reappearance, and I had taken my eyes from 
the place, when a general gasp of astonishment made me glance 
up, and there was the whale in the air. Its tail was curved 
just as a trout’s is in jumping, and every bit of its glistening 
lead-coloured body was clear of the water. It was little won¬ 
der that I should be astonished, for the captain, after thirty 
voyages, had never seen such a sight. On catching it we dis¬ 
covered that it was very thickly covered with a red, crab-like 
parasite, about the size of a shilling, and we conjectured that 
it was the irritation of these creatures which had driven it 
wild. If a man had short, nailless flippers, and a prosperous 
family of fleas upon his back, he would appreciate the situa¬ 
tion. 


Whaling in the Arctic Ocean 41 

Apart from sport, there is a glamour about those circum¬ 
polar regions which must affect everyone who has penetrated 
to them. My heart goes out to that old, grey-headed whaling 
captain who, having been left for an instant when at death’s 
door, staggered off in his night gear, and was found by nurses 
far from his house and still, as he mumbled, “ pushing to the 
norrard.” So an Arctic fox, which a friend of mine endeav¬ 
oured to tame, escaped, and was caught many months after¬ 
wards in a gamekeeper’s trap in Caithness. It was also push¬ 
ing norrard, though who can say by what strange compass it 
took its bearings? It is a region of purity, of white ice and 
of blue water, with no human dwelling within a thousand miles 
to sully the freshness of the breeze which blows across the ice¬ 
fields. And then it is a region of romance also. You stand 
on the very brink of the unknown, and every duck that you 
shoot hears pebbles in its gizzard which come from a land 
which the maps know not. It was a strange and fascinating 
chapter of my life. 

I went on board the whaler a big, straggling youth, I came 
off it a powerful, well-grown man. I have no doubt that my 
physical health during my whole life has been affected by that 
splendid air, and that the inexhaustible store of energy which 
I have enjoyed is to some extent drawn from the same source. 
It was mental and spiritual stagnation, or even worse, for there 
is a coarsening effect in so circumscribed a life with comrades 
who were fine, brave fellows, hut naturally rough and wild. 
However I had my health to show for it, and also more money 
than I had ever possessed before. I was still boyish in many ' 
ways, and I remember that I concealed gold pieces in every 
pocket of every garment, that my mother might have the ex¬ 
citement of hunting for them. It added some fifty pounds to 
her small exchequer. 

How I had a straight run in to my final examination, which 
I passed with fair but not notable distinction at the end of the 
winter session of 1881. I was now a Bachelor of Medicine 
and a Master of Surgery, fairly launched upon my profes¬ 
sional career. 


CHAPTER Y 


THE VOYAGE TO WEST AFKICA 

The Mayumba — Fearful Weather — An Escape — Hanno’s Voyage — Atlan¬ 
tis — A Land of Death — Blaekwater Fever — Missionaries — Strange 
Fish — Danger of Luxury — A Foolish Swim—-The Ship on Fire — 
England once more. 

I T had always been my intention to take a voyage as ship’s 
surgeon when I had taken my degree, as I could in this way 
see something of the world, and at the same time earn a little 
of the money which I so badly needed if I were ever to start in 
practice for myself. When a man is in the very early twenties 
he will not he taken seriously as a practitioner, and though I 
looked old for my age, it was clear that I had to fill in my 
time in some other way. My plans were all exceedingly fluid, 
and I was ready to join the Army, Navy, Indian Service or 
anything which offered an opening. I had no reason to think 
that I would find a billet upon a passenger ship and had nearly 
forgotten that I had my name down, when I suddenly received 
a telegram telling me to come to Liverpool and to take medical 
charge of the African Steam Navigation Company’s Mayumba, 
hound for the West Coast. In a week I was there, and on 
October 22, 1881, we started on our voyage. 

The Mayumba was a trim little steamer of about 4,000 tons 
— a giant after my experience in the 200-ton whaler. She 
was built for commerce, carrying mixed cargoes to the coast 
and coming back with palm oil in puncheons, palm nuts in 
bulk, ivory and other tropical products. What with whale oil 
and palm oil there certainly seemed to be something greasy 
about my horoscope. There was room for twenty or thirty 
passengers, and it was for their behoof that I was paid some 
£12 a month. 

It was well that we were seaworthy, for we put out in a vio¬ 
lent gale, which became so bad as we emerged from the Mersey 
that we were forced into Holyhead for the night. Next day, in 


43 


The Voyage to West Africa 

vile and thick weather, with a strong sea running, we made 
our way down the Irish Sea. I shall ahyays believe that I 
may have saved the ship from disaster, for as I was standing 
near the officer of the watch I suddenly caught sight of a light¬ 
house standing out in a rift in the fog. It was on the port 
side and I could not imagine how any lighthouse could he on 
the port side of a ship which was, as I knew, well down on the 
Irish coast. I hate to he an alarmist, so I simply touched the 
mate’s sleeve, pointed to the dim outline of the lighthouse, and 
said; “ Is that all right?” He fairly jumped as his eye lit 
upon it and he gave a yell to the men at the wheel and rang 
a violent signal to the engine-room. The lighthouse, if I re¬ 
member right, was the Tuskar, and we were heading right into 
a rocky promontory which was concealed by the rain and fog. 

I have been lucky in my captains, for Captain Gordon Wal¬ 
lace was one of the best, and we have kept in touch during the 
later years. Our passengers were mostly for Madeira, but 
there were some pleasant ladies bound for the Coast, and some 
unpleasant negro traders whose manners and bearing were ob¬ 
jectionable, but who were patrons of the line and must, there¬ 
fore, be tolerated. Some of these palm oil chiefs and traders 
have incomes of many thousands a year, but as they have no 
cultivated tastes they can only spend their money on drink, 
debauchery and senseless extravagance. One of them, I re¬ 
member, had a choice selection of the demi-monde of Liver¬ 
pool to see him off. 

The storms followed us all the way down the Channel and 
across the Bay, which is normal, I suppose, at such a time of 
year. Everyone was seasick, so as doctor I had some work to 
do. However, before we reached Madeira we ran into fine 
weather and all our troubles were soon forgotten. One never 
realizes the comfort of a dry deck until one has been ankle-deep 
for a week. I missed the sea-boots and rough-and-ready dress 
of the whaler, for when one is in blue serge and gilt buttons 
one does not care to take a ducking. Just as we thought, how¬ 
ever, that we were all right a worse gale than ever broke over 
us, the wind luckily being behind us, so that it helped us on 
our way. With jib, trysail and main staysail, which was as 
much as we could stand, we lurched and staggered, swept 


44 Memories and Adventures 

every now and then by the big Atlantic combers, which were 
phosphorescent at night, so that flames of liquid fire came 
coursing down the decks. Very glad we were when after a 
week of storm we saw the rugged peaks of Porto Sancto, an 
outlier of Madeira, and finally came to anchor in Funchal 
Bay. It was dark when we reached our moorings and it was 
good to see the lights of the town, and the great dark loom 
of the hills behind it. A lunar rainbow spanned the whole 
scene, a rare phenomenon which I have never seen before or 
since. 

Teneriffe was our next stopping-place, Santa Cruz being the 
port of call. In those days it did a great trade in cochineal, 
which was derived from an insect cultivated on the cacti. 
When dried they furnished the dye, and a packet of the crea¬ 
tures averaged £350 at that time, but now I suppose that the 
German aniline dyes have killed the trade as completely as 
whaling has been killed by the mineral. A day later we were 
at Las Palmas, capital of Grand Canary, whence, looking back, 
we had a fine view of the famous Teneriffe Peak some 60 
miles away. Leaving Las Palmas we were in the delightful 
region of the northeast trade-winds, the most glorious part of 
the ocean, seldom rough, yet always lively, with foam-capped 
seas and a clear sky. Day by day it grew hotter, however, and 
when we lost the Trades, and sighted the Isle de Los off the 
Sierra Leone coast, I began to realize what the Tropics meant. 
When you feel your napkin at meals to be an intolerable thing, 
and when you find that it leaves a wet weal across your white 
duck trousers, then you know that you really have arrived. 

On November 9 we reached Freetown, the capital of Sierra 
Leone, our first port of call upon the African Main — a lovely 
spot but a place of death. Here our ladies left us, and indeed 
it was sad to see them go, for female lives are even shorter 
than male upon the coast. I speak of the days of malaria and 
blackwater fever, before Ronald Ross and others had done 
their great work of healing and prevention. It was a truly 
dreadful place in the early eighties, and the despair which 
reigned in the hearts of the white people made them take lib¬ 
erties with alcohol which they would not have dared to take in 
a healthier place. A year’s residence seemed to be about the 


45 


The Voyage to West Africa 

limit of human endurance. I remember meeting one healthy- 
looking resident who told me that he had been there three 
years. When I congratulated him he shook his head. “ I am 
a doomed man. I have advanced Bright’s disease,” said he. 



we had to pay. 


From Sierra Leone we steamed to Monrovia, which is the 
capital of the negro republic of Liberia, which, as the name 
implies, was founded mainly by escaped slaves. So far as I 
could see it was orderly enough, though all small communities 
which take themselves seriously have a comic aspect. Thus 
at the time of the Franco-German War, Liberia is said to have 
sent out its single Customs boat, which represented its official 
bTavy, and stopped the British mail-ship in order to send word 
to Europe that it did not intend to interfere in the matter. 

It is a very monotonous view, for whether it is the Ivory 
Coast or the Gold Coast, or the Liberian shore, it always pre¬ 
sents the same features — burning sunshine, a long swell break¬ 
ing into a white line of surf, a margin of golden sand, and 
then the low green bush, with an occasional palm tree rising 
above it. If you have seen a mile, you have seen a thousand. 
As I write now, these ports at which we stopped, Grand Bas- 
sam, Cape Palmas, Accra, Cape Coast Castle, all form the same 
picture in my mind. One incident only I can remember. At 
some small village, the name of which I have forgotten, there 
came off a tall young Welshman in a state of furious excite¬ 
ment ; his niggers had mutinied and he was in fear of his life. 
“ There they are waiting for me! ” he cried, and pointed to a 
dusky group upon the distant beach. We offered to take him 
on, but he could not leave his property, so all we could do was 
to promise to send a gunboat up from Cape Coast Castle. I 
have often wondered how such people got on after the German 
menace compelled us to draw in all our outlying fleets. 

This coast is dotted at night with native fires, some of them 
of great extent, arising no doubt from their habit of burning 
the grass. It is interesting that in Hanno’s account of his 
journey down the coast — the only piece of Carthaginian lit¬ 
erature which has reached us — he talks also of the fires which 
he saw at night. As he speaks of gorillas it is probable that 


46 Memories and Adventures 

he got as far as the Gaboon, or south of the Line. He saw 
great volcanic activity, and the remains of it is still visible at 
Fernando Po, which is almost all volcanic. In Hanno’s time, 
however, the hills were actually spouting fire and the country 
was a sea of flame, so that he dare not set foot on shore. I have 
wondered sometimes whether the last cataclysm at Atlantis 
may not have been much later than we think. The account 
of Plato puts it at about 9000 b.c., but it may well have been 
a gradual thing and the last spasm have been that of which 
Hanno saw the traces. All this activity which he described is 
exactly opposite the spot where the old continent was supposed 
to have been. 

Our ships have rough-and-ready ways as they jog down the 
coast. Once we moved on while a hundred native visitors were 
still on board. It was funny to see them dive off and make 
for their canoes. One of them had a tall hat, an umbrella, and 
a large coloured picture of the Saviour — all of which he had 
bought at the trading booths which the men rig up in the fore¬ 
castle. These impedimenta did not prevent him from swim¬ 
ming to his boat. At another minor port, since we were pressed 
for time, we simply threw our consignment of barrel staves 
overboard, knowing that soon or late they would wash up on 
the beach, though how the real owner could make good his 
claim to them I do not know. Occasionally the native scores 
in this game. Some years ago, before Dahomey was annexed 
by the French, the captain took the oil casks on board at 
Whydah by means of a long rope and a donkey engine, an in¬ 
genious way of avoiding the surf, which came to a sudden stop 
when a company of the famous Amazons appeared and threat¬ 
ened to fire upon the ship if they did not pay their dues to 
the surf boats in the ordinary fashion. 

I had myself to pay my dues to the climate, for on November 
18 1 find an eloquent gap in my diary. We had reached Lagos, 
and there, rolling in a greasy swell off that huge lagoon, the 
germ or the mosquito or whatever it was reached me and I 
was down with a very sharp fever. I remember staggering to 
my bunk and then all was blotted out. As I was myself doctor 
there was no one to look after me and I lay for several days 
fighting it out with Death in a very small ring and without a 


The Voyage to West Africa 47 

second. It speaks well for my constitution that I came out 
a victor. I remember no psychic experience, no vision, no 
fears, nothing save a nightmare fog from which I emerged 
as weak as a child. It must have been a close call, and I had 
scarcely sat up before I heard that another victim who got it 
at the same time was dead. 

A week later found me, convalescent and full of energy once 
more, up the Bonny River, which certainly never got its name 
from the Scotch adjective, for it is in all ways hateful with 
its brown smelling stream and its mango swamps. The na¬ 
tives were all absolute savages, offering up human sacrifices 
to sharks and crocodiles. The captain had heard the screams 
of the victims and seen them dragged down to the water’s edge, 
while on another occasion he had seen the protruding skull of 
a man who had been buried in an ant-heap. It is all very well 
to make game of the missionaries, hut how could such people 
ever be improved if it were not for the labours of devoted men ? 

We called at Fernando Po, and later at Victoria, a lovely 
little settlement upon the Main, with the huge peak of the 
Cameroons rising behind it. A dear homely Scotch lassie was 
playing the part of missionary there, and if she did not evan¬ 
gelize she at least civilized, which is more important. It lies 
in a beautiful bay studded with islands and well wooded all 
round. For some reason the whole style of the scenery changes 
completely here, and it is the more welcome after the thousand 
miles of monotony to the north. All this land went, for some 
reason, to Germany later, and has now reverted to the French, 
who are not, as a rule, good Colonial neighbours. I went ashore 
at Victoria, and I cannot forget my thrill when what I thought 
was a good-sized blue bird passed me and I found that it was a 
butterfly. 

To reach Old Calabar we had to steam for 60 miles up the 
Old Calabar River, the channel lying so near the shore that 
we brushed the trees on one side. I lay in wait with my rifle, 
but though I saw the swirl of several alligators none emerged. 
Old Calabar seemed the largest and most prosperous place we 
had visited, but here also the hand of death was over all, and 
it was “ eat, drink, and be merry ” for the old and unsatisfac¬ 
tory reason. Here again we met one of these young lady 


48 Memories and Adventures 

pioneers of civilization. Civilization is the better, but it is a 
stern and dreadful call which summons a woman to such a work. 

Getting a canoe, I ascended the river for several miles to 
a place called Creektown. Dark and terrible ^ mangrove 
swamps lay on either side with gloomy shades where nothing 
that is not horrible could exist. It is indeed a foul place. 
Once in an isolated tree, standing in a flood, I saw an evil¬ 
looking snake, worm-coloured and about 3 feet long. I shot 
him and saw him drift down stream. I learned later in life 
to give up killing animals, but I confess that I have no par¬ 
ticular compunctions about that one. Creektown is in native 
territory, and the King sent down a peremptory order that we 
should report ourselves to him, but as it sounded ominous and 
might mean a long delay we got our paddles out and were soon 
back in British waters. 

I had a curious experience one morning. A large ribbon¬ 
shaped fish, about 3 or 4 feet long, came up and swam upon 
the surface near the ship. Having my gun handy, I shot it. 
I don’t think five seconds could have elapsed before another 
larger and thicker fish — a big catfish, I should say — darted 
up from the depths, seized the wounded fish by the middle, 
and dragged it down. So murderous is the food-search, and 
so keen the watch in Nature! I saw something similar in 
the mixed tank of an aquarium once, where a fish stunned 
himself by swimming against the glass front, and was instantly 
seized and devoured by his neighbour. A strange fish to which 
I was introduced at Calabar was the electrical torpedo fish. 
It is handed to you in an earthenware saucer — a quiet little 
drab creature about 5 inches long — and you are asked to tickle 
its back. Then you learn exactly how high you can jump. 

The death-like impression of Africa grew upon me. One 
felt that the white man with his present diet and habits was 
an intruder who was never meant to be there, and that the 
great sullen brown continent killed him as one crushes nits. I 
find in my diary: 

“ Oh Africa, where are the charms 
That sages have seen in thy face? 

Better dwell in Old England on alms 
Than be rich in that terrible place.” 


49 


The Voyage to West Africa 

The life aboard ship, however, was an easy and, in some 
ways, a luxurious one — too luxurious for a young man who 
had his way to make in the world. Premature comfort is a 
deadly enervating thing. I remember considering my own 
future — I stood upon the poop with a raging thunderstorm 
around me — and seeing very clearly that one or two more such 
voyages would sap my simple habits and make me unfit for 
the hard struggle which any sort of success would need. The 
idea of success in literature had never crossed my mind. It 
was still of medicine only that I thought, hut I knew by my 
Birmingham experience how long and rough a path it was for 
those who had no influence and could not afford to buy. Then 
and there I vowed that I would wander no more, and that 
was surely one of the turning-points of my life. A “ Wander- 
Jahr” is good, hut two “ Wander- Jahre” may mean damna¬ 
tion — and it is hard to stop. I find that on the same day 
of fruitful meditation I swore off alcohol for the rest of the 
voyage. I drank quite freely at this period of my life, having 
a head and a constitution which made me fairly immune, but 
my reason told me that the unbounded cocktails of West Africa 
were a danger, and with an effort I cut them out. There is 
a certain subtle pleasure in abstinence, and it is only socially 
that it is difficult. If we were all abstainers as a matter of 
course, like the real Mahomedans, none of us would ever miss it. 

I did a mad thing at Cape Coast Castle, for, in a spirit 
either of bravado or pure folly, I swam round the ship — or 
at least for some length along her and back again. I suppose 
it was the consideration that black folk go freely into the 
water which induced me to do it. Por some reason white 
folk do not share the same immunity. As I was drying myself 
on deck I saw the triangular back fin of a shark rise to the 
surface. Several times in my life I have done utterly reckless 
things with so little motive that I have found it difficult to 
explain them to myself afterwards. This was one of them. 

The most intelligent and well-read man whom I met on the 
Coast was a negro, the American Consul at Monrovia. He 
came on with us as a passenger. My starved literary side 
was eager for good talk, and it was wonderful to sit on deck 
discussing Bancroft and Motley, and then suddenly realize 


50 


Memories and Adventures 


that you were talking to one who had possibly been a slave 
himself, and was certainly the son of slaves. He had thought 
a good deal about African travel. “ The only way to explore 
Africa is to go without arms and with few servants. You 
would not like it in England if a body of men came armed 
to the teeth and marched through your land. The Africans 
are quite as sensitive.” It was the method of Livingstone as 
against the method of Stanley. The former takes the braver 
and better man. 

This negro gentleman did me good, for a man’s brain is 
an organ for the formation of his own thoughts and also for 
the digestion of other people’s, and it needs fresh fodder. We 
had, of course, books aboard the ship, but neither many nor 
good. I cannot trace that I made any mental or spiritual ad¬ 
vancement during the. voyage, but I added one more experience 
to my chaplet, and I suppose it all goes to some, ultimate result 
in character or personality. I was a strong full-blooded young 
man, full of the joy of life, with nothing of what Oliver Wen¬ 
dell Holmes calls “ pathological piety and tuberculous virtues.” 
I was a man among men. I walked ever among pitfalls and 
I thank all ministering angels that I came through, while I 
have a softened heart for those who did not. 

Our voyage home — oil-gathering from port to port on the 
same but reversed route — was uneventful until the very last 
stride, when just as we were past Madeira the ship took fire. 
Whether it was the combustion of coal dust has never been de¬ 
termined, but certainly the fire broke out in the bunkers, and 
as there was only a wooden partition between these bunkers 
and a cargo of oil, we were in deadly danger. For the first day 
we took it lightly, as a mere smoulder, and for a second and 
third day we were content to seal the gratings as far as possible, 
to play down on it with the hose, and to shift the coal away 
from the oil. On the fourth morning, however, things took 
a sudden turn for the worse. I copy from my log book: 

“ January 9. I was awakened early in the morning by the 
purser, Tom King, poking his head in at my door and in¬ 
forming me that the ship was in a blaze, and that all hands 
had been called and were working down below. I got my 
clothes on, but when I came on deck nothing was to be seen 


The Voyage to West Africa 51 

of it save thick volumes of smoke from the bunker ventilators, 
and a lurid glow down below. I offered to go down, but there 
seemed to be as many working as could be fitted in. I was 
then asked to call the passengers. I waked each in turn, and 
they all faced the situation very bravely and coolly. One, 
a Swiss, sat up in bis bunk, rubbed bis eyes, and in answer 
to my remark: 1 The ship is on fire! ’ said: i I have often been 
on ships that were on fire.’ ‘ Splendide mendax ’— but a good 
spirit! All day we fought the flames, and the iron side of the 
ship was red-hot at one point. Boats were prepared and pro¬ 
visioned and no doubt at the worst we could row or sail them 
to Lisbon, where my dear sisters would be considerably sur¬ 
prised if their big brother walked in. However, we are getting 
the better of it, and by evening those ominous pillars of smoke 
were down to mere wisps. So ends an ugly business! ” 

On January 14 we were in Liverpool once more, and West 
Africa was but one more of the cinema reels of memory. It 
is, I am told, very much improved now in all things. My old 
friend and cricket companion, Sir Fred. Guggisberg, is Gov¬ 
ernor at Accra and has asked me to see the old ground under 
very different auspices. I wish I could, but the sands still run 
and there is much to be done. 


CHAPTER VI 


MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN PRACTICE 

A Strange Character — His Honeymoon — His Bristol Practice — Telegram 
from Plymouth — Six Amusing Weeks — A Deep Plot — My Southsea 
Venture — Furnishing on the Cheap — The Plot Explodes. 

I HAVE now come to the temporary end of my voyages, 
which were to he renewed in years to come, and I have 
reached the time when, under very curious circumstances, I 
endeavoured to establish myself in medical practice. In a book 
written some years afterwards called “ The Stark Munro Let¬ 
ters,” I drew in very close detail the events of the next few 
years, and there the curious reader will find them more clearly 
and fully set out than would he to scale in these pages. I 
would only remark, should any reader reconstruct me or my 
career from that hook, that there are some few incidents there 
which are imaginary, and that, especially, the whole incident 
of the case of a lunatic and of Lord Saltire in Chapter IV 
occurred to a friend and not to myself. Otherwise the whole 
history of my association with the man whom I called Culling- 
worth, his extraordinary character, our parting and the way 
in which I was left to what seemed certain ruin, were all as 
depicted. T will here simply give the essentials of the story, 
and retain the fictitious name. 

In my last year of study at Edinburgh I formed a friend¬ 
ship with this remarkable student. He came of a famous 
medical family, his father having been a great authority upon 
zymotic disease. He came also of a famous athletic stock, and 
was a great Rugby forward himself, though rather handicapped 
by the Berserk fury with which he would play. He was up 
to international form, and his younger brother was reckoned 
by good judges to be about the best forward who ever donned 
the rose-embroidered jersey of England. 

Cullingworth was as strong mentally as physically. In per¬ 
son he was about 5 ft. 9 in. in height, perfectly built, with 


My First Experiences in Practice 53 

a bulldog jaw, bloodshot deep-set eyes, overhanging brows, and 
yellowish hair as stiff as wire, which spurted up above his 
brows. He was a man born for trouble and adventure, un¬ 
conventional in his designs and formidable in his powers of 
execution — a man of action with a big but incalculable brain 
guiding the action. He died in early middle age, and I un¬ 
derstand that an autopsy revealed some cerebral abnormality, 
so that there was no doubt a pathological element in his strange 
explosive character. For some reason he took a fancy to me, 
and appeared to attach an undue importance to my advice. 

When I met him first he had just indulged in one of his 
wild escapades, which ended usually in a fight or in a transi¬ 
tory appearance in a police court, but on this occasion was 
more serious and permanent. He had run off with a charming 
young lady and married her, she being a ward in Chancery and 
under age. However, the deed was done and all the lawyers 
in the world could not undo it, though they might punish 
the culprit. He told me how he and the lady had gone over 
a Bradshaw with the intention that wdien they came on a 
station of which neither of them had ever heard, they would 
make for that place and spend their honeymoon there. They 
came therefore upon some awful name, Clodpole-in-the-Marsh 
or something of the kind, and there they sojourned in the 
village inn. Cullingworth stained his yellow hair black, but 
the stain took in some places and not in others, so that he 
looked as if he had escaped from Barnum’s show. What.Clod- 
pole-in-the-Marsh could have thought of such an extraordinary 
couple I cannot imagine, and it is probably the one occasion 
on which it ever buzzed. I cannot think of any surer way 
of getting publicity than that which Cullingworth took to 
avoid detection. In London they would have been perfectly 
unobserved. I remember that for years Cullingworth’s hair 
presented curious iridescent tints which were the remains of 
his disguise. 

He brought his bride safely to Edinburgh, where they hired 
a flat and lived in it without furnishing it save for the abso¬ 
lutely needful. I have dined with them there on an apple 
dumpling, seated on a pile of thick volumes as there was 
no chair. We introduced them to a few friends, did what we 


54 Memories and Adventures 

could for the lonely lady, and finally they drifted off, and 
for a time we heard no more. 

Just before I started for Africa I got a long telegram from 
Cullingworth imploring me to go to Bristol as he needed my 
advice. I was in Birmingham and I set forth at once. When 
I reached Bristol he conducted me to a fine mansion, and there 
poured out his tale of woe. He had started in great style, 
hoping to rally the remains of his father’s patients, but his 
money had run out, he was dunned by his tradespeople, there 
were no patients, and what was he to do ? We had a joyous 
riotous time for two days, for there was an exuberant atmos¬ 
phere about the man which rose above all trouble. The only 
advice I could give was that he should make a composition 
with his creditors. I heard afterwards that he assembled them, 
addressed them in a long and emotional speech, reduced them 
almost to tears with his picture of the struggles of a deserving 
young man, and finally got a unanimous vote of confidence 
from them with full consent that he should pay at his own 
leisure. It was the sort of thing that he would do, and tell 
the story afterwards with a bull’s roar of laughter which could 
be heard down the street. 

When I had been back a couple of months from Africa, I 
received another telegram — he always telegraphed and never 
wrote — which ran in some such way as this: “ Started here 
last June. Colossal success. Come down by next train if pos¬ 
sible. Plenty of room for you. Splendid opening.” The 
telegram was stamped Plymouth. A second even more explo¬ 
sive telegram upbraided me for delay and guaranteed me £300 
the first year. This looked like business, so off I went. 

The events of the next six weeks, in the late spring and 
early summer of 1882, were more fitted for some rollicking 
novel than for the sober pages of a veracious chronicle. The 
conditions which I found at Plymouth were incredible. In 
a short time this man, half genius and half quack, had founded 
a practice worth several thousand pounds of ready money in 
the year. “ Free consultations but pay for your medicine,” 
was his slogan, and as he charged a good price for the latter 
it worked out all the same in the end. The mere words “ Free 
Consultations ” attracted crowds. He used drugs in a heroic 


My First Experiences in Practice 55 

and indiscriminate manner which produced dramatic results 
but at an unjustifiable risk. I remember one instance where 
dropsy had disappeared before a severe dose of croton oil in 
a way that set all the gossips talking. People flocked into the 
town from 20 and 30 miles round, and not only his waiting 
rooms, but his stairs and his passages, were crammed. His 
behaviour to them was extraordinary. He roared and shouted, 
scolded them, joked them, pushed them about, and pursued 
them sometimes into the street, or addressed them collectively 
from the landing. A morning with him when the practice was 
in full blast was as funny as any pantomime and I was ex¬ 
hausted with laughter. He had a well-worn volume on Medical 
Jurisprudence which he pretended was the Bible, and he swore 
old women on it that they would drink no more tea. I have 
no doubt he did a great deal of good, for there was reason and 
knowledge behind all that he did, but his manner of doing it 
was unorthodox in the extreme. His wife made up the pre¬ 
scriptions at a pigeon-hole at the end of a passage and received 
the price which was marked on the label carried down by 
the patient. Every evening Cullingworth walked back to his 
great residential house upon the Hoe, bearing his bag of silver, 
his coat flying, his hat on the back of his head, and his great 
fangs grinning up at every doctor whose disgusted face showed 
at a window. 

Cullingworth had rigged me up a room, furnished with one 
table and two chairs, in which I could take surgical or other 
cases which he did not care to handle. I fear that my pro¬ 
fessional manners were very unexciting after his more flam¬ 
boyant efforts, which I could not imitate even if I would. I 
had, however, a steady dribble of patients, and it looked as if 
I might build something up. I went up country once, and 
operated upon an old fellow’s nose which had contracted cancer 
through his holding the bowl of a short clay pipe immediately 
beneath it. I left him with an aristocratic, not to say super¬ 
cilious organ, which was the wonder of the village, and might 
have been the foundation of my fame. 

But there were other influences at work, and the threads of 
fate were shooting out at strange unexpected angles. My 
mother had greatly resented my association with Cullingworth. 


56 Memories and Adventures 

Her family pride had been aroused, and justly as I can now 
see, though my wanderings had left me rather too Bohemian 
and careless upon points of etiquette. But I liked Culling- 
worth and even now I can’t help liking him — and I admired 
his strong qualities and enjoyed his company and the extraor¬ 
dinary situations which arose from any association with him. 
This resistance upon my part, and my defence of my friend, 
annoyed my mother the more, and she wrote me several letters 
of remonstrance which certainly dealt rather faithfully with 
his character as it appeared to her. I was careless of my 
papers and these letters were read both by Cullingworth and 
his wife. I do them no injustice in saying this, for they finally 
admitted it. Apparently he imagined — he was a man of 
strange suspicions and secret plottings — that I was a party 
to such sentiments, whereas they were actually called forth, 
by my defence of him. His manner changed, and more than 
once I caught his fierce grey eyes looking furtively at me with 
a strange sullen expression, so much so that I asked him what 
was the matter. He was actually scheming my ruin, which 
would he nothing financially, since I had nothing to lose, but 
would he much both to my mother and me if it touched my 
honour. 

One day he came to me and told me that he thought my 
presence complicated his practice and that we had better part. 
I agreed in all good humour, assuring him that I had not come 
to hurt him and that I was very grateful for what he had 
done, even if it came to nothing. He then strongly advised 
me to go into practice myself. I replied that I had no capital. 
He answered that he would see to that, that he would allow 
me a pound a week until I got my feet under me, and that I 
could repay it at leisure. I thanked him warmly, and after 
looking at Tavistock I finally decided that Portsmouth would 
be a good place, the only reason being that I knew the con¬ 
ditions at Plymouth, and Portsmouth seemed analogous. I 
boarded an Irish steamer, therefore, and about July of 1882 
I started off by sea, with one small trunk containing all my 
earthly possessions, to start practice in a town in which I knew 
no single soul. My cash balance was under £10, and I knew 
not only that I had to meet all present expenses upon this, but 


My First Experiences in Practice 57 

that I had to furnish a house upon it. On the other hand 
the weekly pound should easily cover all personal needs, and 
I had the devil-may-care optimism of youth as to the future. 

When I arrived at Portsmouth I went into lodgings for a 
week. On the very first night, with that curious faculty for 
running into dramatic situations which has always been with 
me, I became involved in a street fight with a rough who 
was heating (or rather kicking) a woman. It was a strange 
start, and after I began my practice one of the first people 
to whom I opened my door was this very rascal. I don’t sup¬ 
pose he recognized me, hut I could have sworn to him. I 
emerged from the fray without much damage, and was very 
glad to escape some serious scandal. It was the second time 
that I had got knocked about in defence of beauty in distress. 

I spent a week in marking down the unoccupied houses, and 
finally settled at £40 a year into Bush Villa, which a kindly 
landlord has now called Doyle House. I was terrified lest 
the agent should ask for a deposit, hut the name of my C.B. 
uncle as reference turned the scale in my favour. Having 
secured the empty house and its key, I went down to a sale 
in Portsea and for about £4 secured quite a lot of second-hand 
■— possibly tenth-hand — furniture. It met my needs and en¬ 
abled me to make one room possible for patients with three 
chairs, a table and a central patch of carpet. I had a bed of 
sorts and a mattress upstairs. I fixed up the plate which I 
had brought from Plymouth, bought a red lamp on tick, and 
fairly settled down in receipt of custom. When all was done 
I had a couple of pounds in hand. Servants, of course, were 
out of the question, so I polished my own plate every morning, 
brushed down my front, and kept the house reasonably clean. 
I found that I could live quite easily and well on less than a 
shilling a day, so I could hold out for a long period. 

I had at this time contributed several stories to “ London 
Society,” a magazine now defunct, but then flourishing under 
the editorship of a Mr. Hogg. In the April, 1882, number 
I had a story, now happily forgotten, called “ Bones,” while 
in the preceding Christmas number I had another, “ The Gully 
of Bluemansdyke,” both of them feeble echoes of Bret Harte. 
These, with the stories already mentioned, made up my whole 


58 Memories and Adventures 

output at this time. I explained to Mr. Hogg how I was situ¬ 
ated, and wrote for him a new tale for his Christmas number 
entitled “ My Friend the Murderer.” Hogg behaved very well 
and sent me £10, which I laid by for my first quarter’s rent. 
I was not so pleased with him when, years later, he claimed 
the full copyright of all these immature stories, and published 
them in a volume with my name attached. Have a care, young 
authors, have a care, or your worst enemy will be your early 
self! 

It was as well that I had that £10, for Cullingworth, having 
learned that I was fairly committed, with my lease signed, now 
hurled his thunderbolt, which he thought would crush me. It 
was a curt letter — not a telegram for a wonder — in which 
he admitted that my letters had been read, expressed surprise 
that such a correspondence should have gone on while I was 
under his roof, and declared that he could have nothing more 
to do with me. He had, of course, no real grievance, but I am 
quite willing to admit that he honestly thought he had. But 
his method of revenge was a strange example of the schemings 
of a morbid mind. 

For a moment I was staggered. But my boats were burned 
and I must go forward. I sent back a derisive reply to Culling¬ 
worth, and put him out of my head for ever — indeed, I heard 
of him no more until some five years later I read the news 
of his premature death. He was a remarkable man and nar¬ 
rowly escaped being a great one. I fear that he lived up to 
his great income and left his wife but poorly off. 


CHAPTER VII 


MY START AT SOUTHSEA 

A Strange Life — Arrival of my Brother — I Buy up a Shop — Cheap 
Servants — Queer Patients — Dangers of Medical Practice — Income 
Tax Joke — My Marriage — Tragedy in my House — A New Phase. 

W HAT with cleaning up, answering the hell, doing my 
modest shopping, which was measured in pennies rather 
than shillings, and perfecting my simple household arrange¬ 
ments, the time did not hang heavily upon my hands. It is 
a wonderful thing to have a house of your own for the first 
time, however humble it may be. I lavished all my care upon 
the front room to make it possible for patients. The back room 
was furnished with my trunk and a stool. Inside the trunk 
was my larder, and the top of it was my dining-room table. 
There was gas laid on, and I rigged a projection from the wall 
by which I could sling a pan over the gas jet. In this way 
I cooked bacon with great ease, and became expert in getting 
a wonderful lot of slices from a pound. Bread, bacon and tea, 
with an occasional saveloy — what could man ask for more? 
It is (or was) perfectly easy to live well upon a shilling a day. 

I had obtained a fair consignment of drugs on tick from 
a wholesale house and these also were ranged round the sides of 
the back room. From the very beginning a few stray patients 
of the poorest class, some of them desirous of novelty, some 
disgruntled with their own doctors, the greater part owing bills 
and ashamed to face their creditor, came to consult me and 
consume a bottle of my medicine. I could pay for my food 
by the drugs I sold. It was as well, for I had no other way 
of paying for it, and I had sworn not to touch the ten golden 
pieces which represented my rent. There have been times when 
I could not buy a postage stamp and my letters have had to 
wait, but the ten golden coins still remained intact. 

It was a busy thoroughfare, with a church on one side of 
my house and an hotel on the other. The days passed pleas- 


60 Memories and Adventures 

antly enough, for it was a lovely warm autumn, and I sat in 
the window of my consulting-room screened by the rather dingy 
curtain which I had put up, and watched the passing crowd 
or read my hook, for I had spent part of my scanty funds 
on making myself a member of a circulating library. In spite 
of my sparse food, or more probably on account of it, I was 
extraordinarily fit and well, so that at night when all hope 
of patients was gone for that day I would lock up my house 
, and walk many miles to work off my energy. With its im¬ 
perial associations it is a glorious place and even now if I had 
to live in a town outside London it is surely to Southsea, the 
residential quarter of Portsmouth, that I would turn. The 
history of the past carries on into the history of to-day, the 
new torpedo-boat flies past the old Victory with the same white 
ensign flying from each, and the old Elizabethan culverins and 
sakers can still he seen in the same walk which brings you to 
the huge artillery of the forts. There is a great glamour there 
to any one with the historic sense — a sense which I drank 
in with my mother’s milk. 

It had never entered my head yet that literature might give 
me a career, or anything beyond a little casual pocket money, 
but already it was a deciding factor in my life, for I could 
not have held on, and must have either starved or given in 
but for the few pounds which Mr. Hogg sent me, for they 
enabled all other smaller sums to be spent in nourishment. 
I have wondered sometimes as I look back that I did not 
contract scurvy, for most of my food was potted, and I had 
no means of cooking vegetables. However, I felt no grievance 
at the time nor any particular perception that my mode of life 
was unusual, nor indeed any particular anxiety about the fu¬ 
ture. At that age everything seems an adventure — and there 
was always the novel pleasure of the house. 

Once I had a moment of weakness during which I answered 
an advertisement which asked for a doctor to attend coolies 
in the tea gardens of the Terai. I spent a few unsettled days 
waiting for an answer, but none came and I settled down once 
more to my waiting and hoping. I had one avenue of success 
open of which I could not avail myself. My Catholic relatives 
had sent me introductions to the Bishop and I was assured that 


My Start at Southsea 61 

there was no Catholic doctor in the town. My mind, however, 
was so perfectly clear and I had so entirely broken away 
from the old faith that I could not possibly use it for material 
ends. I therefore burned the letter of introduction. 

As the weeks passed and I had no one with whom to talk 
I began to think wistfully of the home circle at Edinburgh, 
and to wonder why, with my eight-roomed house, one or more 
of them should not come to keep me comply. The girls were 
already governessing or preparing to do so, but there was my 
little brother Innes. It would relieve my mother and yet help 
me if he could join me. So it was arranged, and one happy 
evening the little knicker-bockered fellow, just ten years old, 
joined me as my comrade. No man could have had a merrier 
and brighter one. In a few weeks we had settled down to a 
routine life, 1 having found a good day-school for him. The 
soldiers of Portsmouth were already a great joy to him, and 
his future career was marked out by his natural tastes, for 
he was a born leader and administrator. Little did I foresee 
that he would win distinction in the greatest of'all wars, and 
die in the prime of his manhood — but not before he knew 
that complete victory had been attained. Even then our 
thoughts were very military, and I remember how we waited 
together outside the office of the local paper that we might 
learn the result of the bombardment of Alexandria. 

Turning over some old papers after these pages were written 
I came upon a letter written in straggling schoolboy script 
by my little brother to his mother at home which may throw 
an independent light upon those curious days. It is dated 
August 16, 1882. He says: 

“ The patients are crowding in. We have made three bob 
this week. We have vaxenated a baby and got hold of a man 
with consumtion, and to-day a gipsy’s cart came up to the door 
selling baskets and chairs so we determined not to let the 
man ring as long as he liked. After he had rong two or three 
times Arthur yelled out at the pitch of his voice, Go a way 
but the man rang again so I went down to the door and pulled 
open the letter box and cried out go a way. The man began 
to swere at me and say that he wanted to see Arthur. All this 
time Arthur thought that the door was open and was yelling 


62 Memories and Adventures 

Shut that door. Then I came upstairs and told Arthur what 
the man had said so Arthur went down and opened the door 
and found out that the gipsy’s child had measles. . . . After 
all we got sixpence out of them and that is all ways some¬ 
thing.” 

I remember the incident well, and certainly my sudden 
change of tone from the indignant householder, who is worried 
by a tramp, to my best bedside manner in the hopes of a fee, 
must have been very amusing. My recollection is, however, 
that it was the Gipsy who got sixpence out of us. 

For some time Innes and I lived entirely alone, doing the 
household tasks between us, and going long walks in the evening 
to keep ourselves fit. Then I had a brain-wave and I put an 
advertisement in the evening paper that a groundfloor was to 
let in exchange for services. I had numerous applicants in 
reply, and out of them I chose two elderly women who claimed 
to he sisters — a claim which they afterwards failed to make 
good. When once they were installed we became quite a civ¬ 
ilized household and things began to look better. There were 
complex quarrels, however, and one of the women left. The 
other soon afterwards followed suit. As the first woman had 
seemed to me to be the most efficient, I followed her up and 
found that she had started a small shop. Her rent was weekly, 
so that was easily settled, hut she talked gloomily about her 
stock. “ I will buy everything in your shop,” I said in a large 
way. It cost me exactly seventeen and sixpence, and I was 
loaded up for many months with matches, cakes of blacking 
and other merchandise. From then onwards our meals were 
cooked for us, and we became in all ways normal. 

Month followed month and I picked up a patient here and 
a patient there until the nucleus of a little practice had been 
formed. Sometimes it was an accident, sometimes an emer¬ 
gency case, sometimes a newcomer to the town or one who had 
quarrelled with his doctor. I mixed with people so far as I 
could, for I learned that a brass plate alone will never attract, 
and people must see the human being who lies in wait behind 
it. Some of my tradespeople gave me their custom in return 
for mine, and mine was so small that I was likely to have 
the best of the bargain. There was a grocer who developed 


My Start at Southsea 63 

epileptic fits, which meant butter and tea to us. Poor fellow, 
he could never have realized the mixed feelings with which I 
received the news of a fresh outbreak. Then there was a very 
tall, horse-faced old lady with an extraordinary dignity of 
bearing. She would sit framed in the window of her little 
house, like the picture of a grande dame of the old regime. 
But every now and again she went on a wild hurst, in the course 
of which she would skim plates out of the window at the 
passers-by. I was the only one who had influence over her 
at such times, for she was a haughty, autocratic old person. 
Once she showed an inclination to skim a plate at me also, 
hut I quelled her by assuming a gloomy dignity as portentous 
as her own. She had some art treasures which she heaped upon 
me when she was what we will politely call “ ill,” hut claimed 
hack again the moment she was well. Once when she had 
been particularly troublesome I retained a fine lava jug, in 
spite of her protests, and I have got it yet. 

It is well that medical practice has its humorous side, for 
it has much to depress one. Most men never use their reason¬ 
ing power at all on the religious side, hut if they did they 
would find it difficult sometimes to reconcile the sights which 
a physician sees with the idea of a merciful providence. If 
one loses the explanation that this life is a spiritual chastening 
for another, and thinks that death ends all, and that this is our 
one experience, then it is impossible to sustain the goodness 
or the omnipotence of God. So I felt at the time, and it 
made me a Materialist, but now I know well that I was judging 
a story on the strength of one chapter. 

Let me give an example. I was called in by a poor woman 
to see her daughter. As I entered the humble sitting-room 
there was a small cot at one side, and by the gesture of the 
mother I understood that the sufferer was there. I picked up 
a candle and walking over I stooped over the little bed, ex¬ 
pecting to see a child. What I really saw was a pair of 
brown sullen eyes, full of loathing and pain, which looked up 
in resentment to mine. I could not tell how old the creature 
was. Long thin limbs were twisted and coiled in the tiny 
couch. The face was sane but malignant. “ What is it ? ” I 
asked in dismay when we were out of hearing. “ It’s a girl,” 


64 Memories and Adventures 

sobbed the mother. “ She’s nineteen. Oh! if God would only 
take her! ” What a life for both! And how hard to face 
such facts and accept any of the commonplace explanations of 
existence! 

Medical life is full of dangers and pitfalls, and luck must 
always play its part in a man’s career. Many a good man 
has been ruined by pure bad luck. On one occasion I was 
called in to a lady who was suffering from what appeared to 
be dyspepsia of a rather severe type. There was absolutely 
nothing to indicate anything more serious, I therefore reas¬ 
sured the family, spoke lightly of the illness, and walked 
home to make up a bismuth mixture for her, calling on one 
or two other cases on the way. When I got home I found a 
messenger waiting to say that the lady was dead. This is the 
sort of thing which may happen to any man at any time. It 
did not hurt me, for I was too lowly to be hurt. You can’t 
ruin a practice when there is no practice. The woman really 
had a gastric ulcer, for which there is no diagnosis; it was 
eating its way into the lining of her stomach, it pierced an 
artery after I saw her, and she bled to death. Nothing could 
have saved her, and I think her relatives came to understand 
this. 

I made £154 the first year, and £250 the second, rising 
slowly to £300, which in eight years I never passed, so far 
as the medical practice went. In the first year the Income 
Tax paper arrived and I filled it up to show that I was not 
liable. They returned the paper with “ Most unsatisfactory ” 
scrawled across it. I wrote “ I entirely agree ” under the 
words, and returned it once more. For this little bit of cheek 
I was had up before the assessors, and duly appeared with 
my ledger under my arm. They could make nothing, how¬ 
ever, out of me or my ledger, and we parted with mutual 
laughter and compliments. 

In the year 1885 my brother left me to go to a public school 
in Yorkshire. Shortly afterwards I was married. A lady 
named Mrs. Hawkins, a widow of a Gloucestershire family, 
had come to Southsea with her son and daughter, the latter 
a very gentle and amiable girl. I was brought into contact 
with them through the illness of the son, which was of a sudden 


My Start at Southsea 65 

and violent nature, arising from cerebral meningitis. As the 
mother was very awkwardly situated in lodgings, I volunteered 
to furnish an extra bedroom in my house and give the poor 
lad, who w r as in the utmost danger, my personal attention. His 
case was a mortal one, and in spite of all I could do he passed 
away a few days later. Such a death under my own roof 
naturally involved me in a good deal of anxiety and trouble 
— indeed, if I had not had the foresight to ask a medical 
friend to see him with me on the day before he passed away, 
I should have been in a difficult position. The funeral was 
from my house. The family were naturally grieved at the 
worry to which they had quite innocently exposed me, and so 
our relations became intimate and sympathetic, which ended 
in the daughter consenting to share my fortunes. We were 
married on August 6, 1885, and no man could have had a 
more gentle and amiable life’s companion. Our union was 
marred by the sad ailment which came after a very few years to 
cast its shadow over our lives, but it comforts me to think that 
during the time when we were together there was no single 
occasion when our affection was disturbed by any serious 
breach or division, the credit of which lies entirely with her 
own quiet philosophy, which enabled her to bear with smiling 
patience not only her own sad illness, which lasted so long, 
but all those other vicissitudes which life brings with it. I 
rejoice to think that though she married a penniless doctor, 
she was spared long enough to fully appreciate the pleasure 
and the material comforts which worldly success was able to 
bring us. She had some small income of her own which en¬ 
abled me to expand my simple housekeeping in a way which 
gave her from the first the decencies, if not the luxuries, of life. 

In many ways my marriage marked a turning-point in my 
life. A bachelor, especially one who had been a wanderer like 
myself, drifts easily into Bohemian habits, and I was no ex¬ 
ception. I cannot look back upon those years with any spiritual 
satisfaction, for I was still in the valley of darkness. I had 
ceased to butt my head incessantly against what seemed to be 
an impenetrable wall, and I had resigned myself to ignorance 
upon that which is the most momentous question in life — for 
a voyage is bleak indeed if one has no conception to what port 


66 Memories and Adventures 

one is bound. I had laid aside the old charts as useless, and 
had quite despaired of ever finding a new one which would 
enable me to steer an intelligible course, save towards that mist 
which was all that my pilots, Huxley, Mill, Spencer and others, 
could see ahead of us. My mental attitude is correctly por¬ 
trayed in “ The Stark Munro Letters.” A dim light of dawn 
was to come to me soon in an uncertain fitful way which was 
destined in time to spread and grow brighter. 

Up to now the main interest of my life lay in my medical 
career. But with the more regular life and the greater sense 
of responsibility, coupled with the natural development of brain¬ 
power, the literary side of me began slowly to spread until it 
was destined to push the other entirely aside. Thus a new 
phase had begun, part medical, part literary, and part philo¬ 
sophical, which I shall deal with in another chapter. 


CHAPTER VIII 


MY FIRST LITERARY SUCCESS 

New Outlook — James Payn — Genesis of Holmes — “A Study in Scarlet” 
—“ Mieah Clarke ”— Disappointments — Andrew Lang — Cornhill Din¬ 
ner— Oscar Wilde — His Criticism of Himself —“The White Com¬ 
pany.” 

D URING the years before my marriage I bad from time 
to time written short stories which were good enough to 
be marketable at very small prices — £4 on an average — but 
not good enough to reproduce. They are scattered about amid 
the pages of “ London Society,” “ All the Year Round,” 
“ Temple Bar,” “ The Boy’s Own Paper,” and other journals. 
There let them lie. They served their purpose in relieving 
me a little of that financial burden which always pressed upon 
me. I can hardly have earned more than £10 or £15 a year 
from this source, so that the idea of making a living by it 
never occurred to me. But though I was not putting out I 
was taking in. I still have note-books full of all sorts of knowl¬ 
edge which I acquired during that time. It is a great mistake 
to start putting out cargo when you have hardly -stowed any 
on board. My own slow methods and natural limitations made 
me escape this danger. 

After my marriage, however, my brain seems to have quick¬ 
ened and both my imagination and my range of expression were 
greatly improved. Most of the short stories which appeared 
eventually in my “ Captain of the Polestar ” were written in 
those years from 1885 to 1890. Some of them are perhaps 
as good honest work as any that I have done. What gave me 
great pleasure and for the first time made me realize that I 
was ceasing to be a hack writer and was getting into good com¬ 
pany was when James Payn accepted my short story “ Habakuk 
Jephson’s Statement ” for “ Cornhill.” I had a reverence for 
this splendid magazine with its traditions from Thackeray 
to Stevenson and the thought that I had won my way into it 


68 Memories and Adventures 

pleased me even more than the cheque for £30, which came duly 
to hand. It was, of course, anonymous,— such was the law 
of the magazine — which protects the author from abuse as 
well as prevents his winning fame. One paper began its re¬ 
view by the phrase “ ‘ Cornhill ’ opens its new number with 
a story which would have made Thackeray turn in his grave.” 
A dear old gentleman who knew me hurried across the road 
to show me the paper with these cheering words. Another, 
more gracious, said “ 1 Cornhill ’ begins the New Year with 
an exceedingly powerful story in which we seem to trace the 
hand of the author of 1 The New Arabian Nights \” It was 
great praise, but something less warm, which came straight to 
iny own address, would have pleased me better. 

I soon had two other stories in the “ Cornhill ”—“ J ohn 
Huxford’s Hiatus ” and “ The Ring of Thoth.” I also pene¬ 
trated the stout Scottish barrier of “ Blackwood ” with a story, 
“ The Physiologist’s Wife,” which was written when I was 
under the influence of Henry James. But I was still in the 
days of very small things — so small that when a paper sent 
me a woodcut and offered me four guineas if I would write 
a story to correspond I was not too proud to accept. It was 
a very bad woodcut and I think that the story corresponded 
all right. I remember writing a New Zealand story, though 
why I should have written about a place of which T knew 
nothing I cannot imagine. Some New Zealand critic pointed 
out that I had given the exact bearings of the farm mentioned 
as 90 miles to the east or west of the town of Nelson, and that 
in that case it was situated 20 miles out on the floor of the 
Pacific Ocean. These little things will happen. There are 
times when accuracy is necessary and others where the idea 
is everything and the place quite immaterial. 

It was about a year after my marriage that I realized that 
I could go on doing short stories for ever and never make head¬ 
way. What is necessary is that your name should be on the 
back of a volume. Only so do you assert your individuality, 
and get the full credit or discredit of your achievement. I had 
for some time from 1884 onwards been engaged upon a sensa¬ 
tional book of adventure which I had called “ The Pirm of 
Girdlestone,” which represented my first attempt at a con- 


My First Literary Success 69 

nected narrative. Save for occasional patches it is a worthless 
hook, and, like the first book of everyone else, unless he is a 
great original genius, it was too reminiscent of the work of 
others. I could see it then, and could see it even more clearly 
later. When I sent it to publishers and they scorned it I quite 
acquiesced in their decision and finally let it settle, after its 
periodical flights to town, a dishevelled mass of manuscript 
at the hack of a drawer. 

I felt now that I was capable of something fresher and 
crisper and more workmanlike. Gaboriau had rather attracted 
me by the neat dovetailing of his plots, and Poe’s masterful 
detective, M. Dupin, had from boyhood been one of my heroes. 
But could I bring an addition of my own ? I thought of my 
old teacher Joe Bell, of his eagle face, of his curious ways, 
of his eerie trick of spotting details. If he were a detective 
he would surely reduce this fascinating hut unorganized busi¬ 
ness to something nearer to an exact science. I would try if 
I could get this effect. It was surely possible in real life, so 
why should I not make it plausible in fiction ? It is all very 
well to say that a man is clever, but the reader wants to see 
examples of it — such examples as Bell gave us every day 
in the wards. The idea amused me. What should I call the 
fellow ? I still possess the leaf of a notebook with various 
alternative names. One rebelled against the elementary art 
which gives some inkling of character in the name, and creates 
Mr. Sharps or Mr. Ferrets. First it was Sherringford Holmes; 
then it was Sherlock Holmes. He could not tell his own ex¬ 
ploits, so he must have a commonplace comrade as a foil — an 
educated man of action who could both join in the exploits and 
narrate them. A drab, quiet name for this unostentatious man. 
Watson would do. And so I had my puppets and wrote my 
“ Study in Scarlet.” 

I knew that the book was as good as I could make it, and 
I had high hopes. When “ Girdlestone ” used to come circling 
back with the precision of a homing pigeon, I was grieved but 
not surprised, for I acquiesced in the decision. But when my 
little Holmes book began also to do the circular tour I was 
hurt, for I knew that it deserved a better fate. James Payn 
applauded but found it both too short and too long, which was 


70 Memories and Adventures 

true enough. Arrowsmith received it in May, 1886, and re¬ 
turned it unread in July. Two or three others sniffed and 
turned away. Finally, as Ward, Lock & Co. made a specialty 
of cheap and often sensational literature, I sent it to them. 

“ Dear Sir,” they said,—“ We have read your story and are 
pleased with it. We could not publish it this year as the market 
is flooded at present with cheap fiction, but if you do not object 
to its being held over till next year, we will give you £25 for the 
copyright. 

“ Yours faithfully 

“ Ward, Lock & Co.” 

“ Oct. 30, 1886.” 

It was not a very tempting offer, and even I, poor as I 
was, hesitated to accept it. It was not merely the small sum 
offered, but it was the long delay, for this book might open 
a road for me. I was heart-sick, however, at repeated disap¬ 
pointments, and I felt that perhaps it was true wisdom to 
make sure of publicity, however late. Therefore I accepted, 
and the book became “ Beeton’s Xmas Annual ” of 1887. Ward 
Lock made a wonderful bargain, for they not only had their 
Christmas number but they brought out numerous editions 
of the book, and finally they even had the valuable cinema 
rights for this paltry payment. I never at any time received 
another penny for it from this firm, so I do not feel that I 
need be grateful even if it so chanced that they cleared my 
path in life. 

Having a long wait in front of me before this book could 
appear, and feeling large thoughts rise within me, I now de¬ 
termined to test my powers to the full, and I chose a historical 
novel for this end, because it seemed to me the one way of 
combining a certain amount of literary dignity with those 
scenes of action and adventure which were natural to my young 
and ardent mind. I had always felt great sympathy for the 
Puritans, who, after all, whatever their little peculiarities, did 
represent political liberty and earnestness in religion. They 
had usually been caricatured in fiction and art. Even Scott 
had not drawn them as they were. Macaulay, who was always 


My First Literary Success 71 

one of my chief inspirations, had alone made them compre¬ 
hensible— the sombre fighters, with their Bibles and their 
broadswords. There is a great passage of his — I cannot quote 
it verbally — in which he says that after the Restoration if 
ever you saw a carter more intelligent than his fellows, or a 
peasant who tilled his land better, you would be likely to find 
that it was an old pikeman of Cromwell’s. This, then, was my 
inspiration in “ Micah Clarke,” where I fairly let myself go 
upon the broad highway of adventure. I was well up in his¬ 
tory, hut I spent some months over details and then 'wrote 
the book very rapidly. There are bits of it, the picture of 
the Puritan household, and the sketch of Judge Jeffreys, which 
I have never bettered. When it was finished early in 1888 
my hopes ran high and out it went on its travels. 

But, alas! although my Holmes booklet was out, and had 
attracted some little favourable comment, the door still seemed 
to be barred. James Payn had first peep, and he began his 
letter of rejection with the sentence “ How can you, can you, 
waste your time and your wits writing historical novels! ” 
This was depressing after a year of work. Then came Bentley’s 
verdict: “ It lacks in our opinion the one great necessary point 
for fiction, i.e. interest; and this being the case we do not 
think it could ever become popular with libraries and the gen¬ 
eral public.” Then Blackwood had its say: “There are im¬ 
perfections which would militate against success. The chances 
of the book proving a popular success do not seem to be strong 
enough to warrant us in publishing it.” There were others 
even more depressing. I was on the point of putting the worn 
manuscript into hospital with its mangled brother “ Girdle- 
stone ” when as a last resource, I sent it to Longmans, whose 
reader, Andrew Lang, liked it and advised its acceptance. It 
was to “ Andrew of the brindled hair,” as Stevenson called 
him, that I owe my first real opening, and I have never for¬ 
gotten it. The book duly appeared in February, 1889, and 
though it was not a boom book it had extraordinarily good 
reviews, including one special one all to itself by Mr. Prothero 
in the “Nineteenth Century,” and it has sold without inter¬ 
mission from that day to this. It was the first solid corner¬ 
stone laid for some sort of literary reputation. 


72 Memories and Adventures 

British literature had a considerable vogue in the United 
States at this time for the simple reason that there was no 
copyright and they had not to pay for it. It was hard on 
British authors, but far harder on American ones, since they 
were exposed to this devastating competition. Like all national 
sins it brought its own punishment not only to American 
authors, who were guiltless, but to the publishers themselves, 
for what belongs to everyone belongs practically to no one, and 
they could not bring out a decent edition without being at once 
undersold. I have seen some of my early American editions 
which might have been printed on the paper that shopmen 
use for parcels. One good result, however, from my point of 
view was that a British author, if he had anything in him, 
soon won recognition in America, and afterwards, when the 
Copyright Act was passed, he had his audience all ready for 
him. My Holmes book had met with some American success 
and presently I learned that an agent of Lippincott’s was in 
London and that he wished to see me, to arrange for a book. 
Heedless to say that I gave my patients a rest for a day and 
eagerly kept the appointment. 

Once only before had I touched the edge of literary society. 
That was when “ Cornhill ” was turned into a fully illustrated 
journal, an experiment which failed for it was quickly aban¬ 
doned. The change was celebrated by a dinner at the Ship, 
at Greenwich, to which I was invited on the strength of my 
short contributions. All the authors and artists were there, 
and I remember the reverence with which I approached James 
Payn, who was to me the warden of the sacred gate. I was 
among the first arrivals, and was greeted by Mr. Smith, the 
head of the firm, who introduced me to Payn. I loved much 
of his work and waited in awe for the first weighty remark 
which should fall from his lips. It was that there was a crack 
in the window and he wondered how the devil it had got there. 
Let me add, however, that my future experience was to show 
that there was no wittier or more delightful companion in the 
world. I sat next to Anstey that night, who had just made a 
most deserved hit with his “Vice Versa,” and I was intro¬ 
duced to other celebrities, so that I came back walking on air. 

How for the second time I was in London on literary busi- 


My First Literary Success 73 

ness. Stoddart, the American, proved to be an excellent fellow, 
and had two others to dinner. They were Gill, a very enter¬ 
taining Irish M.P., and Oscar Wilde, who was already famous 
as the champion of aestheticism. It was indeed a golden eve¬ 
ning for me. Wilde to my surprise had read “ Micah Clarke ’’ 
and was enthusiastic about it, so that I did not feel a complete 
outsider. His conversation left an indelible impression upon 
my mind. He towered above us all, and yet had the art of 
seeming to he interested in all that we could say. He had 
delicacy of feeling and tact, for the monologue man, however 
clever, can never be a gentleman at heart. He took as well 
as gave, but what he gave was unique. He had a curious pre¬ 
cision of statement, a delicate flavour of humour, and a trick 
of small gestures to illustrate his meaning, which were peculiar 
to himself. The effect cannot be reproduced, but I remember 
how in discussing the wars of the future he said: “ A chemist 
on each side will approach the frontier with a bottle ”— his 
upraised hand and precise face conjuring up a vivid and gro¬ 
tesque picture. His anecdotes, too, were happy and curious. 
We were discussing the cynical maxim that the good fortune 
of our friends made us discontented. “ The devil,” said Wilde, 
.I- “was once crossing the Libyan Desert, and he came upon a 
spot where a number of small fiends were tormenting a holy 
hermit. The sainted man easily shook off their evil sugges¬ 
tions. The devil watched their failure and then he stepped 
forward to give them a lesson. 1 What you do is too crude,’ 
said he. 1 Permit me for one moment.’ With that he whis¬ 
pered to the holy man, 1 Your brother has just been made 
Bishop of Alexandria.’ A scowl of malignant jealousy at once 
clouded the serene face of the hermit. ‘ That,’ said the devil 
to his imps, 1 is the sort of thing which I should recommend.’ ” 
The result of the evening was that both Wilde and I prom¬ 
ised to write books for “ Lippincott’s Magazine ”— Wilde’s 
contribution was “ The Picture of Dorian Grey,” a book which 
is surely upon a high moral plane, while I wrote “ The Sign 
of Pour,” in which Holmes made his second appearance. I 
should add that never in Wilde’s conversation did I observe 
one trace of coarseness of thought, nor could one at that time 
associate him with such an idea. Only once again did I see 


74 Memories and Adventures 

him, many years afterwards, and then he gave me the impres¬ 
sion of being mad. He asked me, I remember, if I had seen 
some play of his which was running. I answered that I had 
not. He said: “ Ah, you must go. It is wonderful. It is 
genius! ” All this with the gravest face. Nothing could have 
been more different from his early gentlemanly instincts. I 
thought at the time, and still think, that the monstrous develop¬ 
ment which ruined him was pathological, and that a hospital 
rather than a police court was the place for its consideration. 

When his little book came out I wrote to say what I thought 
of it. His letter is worth reproducing, as showing the true 
Wilde. I omit the early part in which he comments on my 
own work in too generous terms. 

“ Between me and life there is a mist of words always. I 
throw probability out of the window for the sake of a phrase, 
and the chance of an epigram makes me desert truth. Still 
I do aim at making a work of art, and I am really delighted 
that you think my treatment subtle and artistically good. The 
newspapers seem to me to be written by the prurient for the 
Philistine. I cannot understand how they can treat ‘ Dorian 
Grey ’ as immoral. ATy difficulty was to keep the inherent 
moral subordinate to the artistic and dramatic effect, and it 
still seems to me that the moral is too obvious.” 

Encouraged by the kind reception which “ Micah Clarke ” 
had received from the critics, I now determined upon an even 
bolder and more ambitious flight. It seemed to me that the 
days of Edward III constituted the greatest epoch in English 
History — an epoch when both the French and the Scottish 
Kings were prisoners in London. This result had been brought 
about mainly by the powers of a body of men who were re¬ 
nowned through Europe but who had never been drawn in 
British literature, for though Scott treated in his inimitable 
way the English archer, it was as an outlaw rather than as a 
soldier that he drew him. I had Some views of my own, too, 
about the Middle Ages which I was anxious to set forth. I 
was familiar with Froissart and Chaucer and I was aware that 
the famous knights of old were by no means the athletic heroes 
of Scott, but were often of a very different type. Hence came 
my two books “ The White Company,” written in 1889, and 


My First Literary Success 75 

“ Sir Nigel,” written fourteen years later. Of the two I 
consider the latter the better hook, hut I have no hesitation 
in saying that the two of them taken together did thoroughly 
achieve my purpose, that they made an accurate picture of 
that great age, and that as a single piece of work they form 
the most complete, satisfying and ambitious thing that I have 
ever done. All things find their level, hut I believe that if 
I had never touched Holmes, who has tended to obscure my 
higher work, my position in literature would at the present 
moment he a more commanding one. The work needed much 
research and I have still got my notebooks full of all sorts of 
lore. I cultivate a simple style and avoid long words so far 
as possible, and it may be that this surface of ease has some¬ 
times caused the reader to underrate the amount of real re¬ 
search which lies in all my historical novels. It is not a 
matter which troubles me, however, for I have always felt that 
justice is' done in the end, and that the real merit of any work 
is never permanently lost. 

I remember that as I wrote the last words of “ The White 
Company ” I felt a wave of exultation and with a cry of 
“ That’s done it! ” I hurled my inky pen across the room, 
where it left a black smudge upon the duck’s-egg wall-paper. 
I knew in my heart that the book would live and that it would 
illuminate our national traditions. Now that it has passed 
through fifty editions I suppose I may say with all modesty 
that my forecast has proved to he correct. This was the last 
hook which I wrote in my days of doctoring at Southsea, and 
marks an epoch in my life, so I can now hark hack to some 
other phases of my last years at Bush Villa before I broke 
away into a new existence. I will only add that “ The White 
Company ” was accepted by “ Cornhill,” in spite of James 
Payn’s opinion of historical novels, and that I fulfilled another 
ambition by having a serial in that famous magazine. 

A new phase of medical experience came to me about this 
time, for I suddenly found myself a unit in the British Army. 
The operations in the East had drained the Medical Service, 
and it had therefore been determined that local civilian doctors 
should be enrolled for temporary duty of some hours a day. 
The terms were a guinea a day, and a number of us were 


\ 


76 Memories and Adventures 

tempted to volunteer where there were only a few vacancies. 
When I was called before the Board of Selection a savage¬ 
looking old army doctor who presided barked out, “ And you, 
sir — what are you prepared to do ? ” To which I answered, 
“ Anything.” It seems that the others had all been making 
bargains and reservations, so my wholehearted reply won the 
job. 

It brought me into closer contact with the savage-looking 
medico, who proved to he Sir Anthony Home, Y.C.— an hon¬ 
our which he had won in the Indian Mutiny. He was in 
supreme charge, and as he was as fierce in speech and in 
act as in appearance, everyone was terrified of him. On one 
occasion I had told the orderly to draw a man’s tooth, knowing 
that he was a very much more skilful dentist than I. I was 
on my way home when I was overtaken by an excited soldier 
who told me that Sergeant Jones was being court-martialled 
and would certainly lose his stripes because he had done a 
minor operation. I hurried back and on entering the room 
found Sir Anthony glaring at the unhappy man, while several 
other orderlies stood round awaiting their own turn. Sir An¬ 
thony’s glare was transferred to me when I said that whatever 
the Sergeant had done was by my express order. He grunted, 
hanged the hook he w*as holding, and broke up the meeting. 
He seemed a most disagreeable old man, and yet when I was 
married shortly afterwards he sent me a most charming mes¬ 
sage wishing me good fortune. Up to then I had never had 
anything from him save a scowl from his thick eyebrows, so 
I was most agreeably surprised. Soon afterwards the pressure 
ceased and we civilians were all dismissed. 


CHAPTER IX 


PULLING UP THE ANCHOR 

Psychic Studies — Experiments in Telepathy — My First Stances — A 
Curious Test — General Drayson — Opinion on Theosophy — A. P. 
Sinnett — W. T. Stead — Journey to Berlin — Koch’s Treatment — 
Brutality of Bergmann — Malcolm Morris — Literary Society — Po¬ 
litical Work — Arthur Balfour — Our Peparture. 

I T was in these years after my marriage and before leaving 
Southsea that I planted the first seeds of those psychic 
studies which were destined to revolutionize my views and to 
absorb finally all the energies of my life. I had at that time 
the usual contempt which the young educated man feels to¬ 
wards the whole subject which has been covered by the clumsy 
name of Spiritualism. I had read of mediums being convicted 
of fraud, I had heard of phenomena which were opposed to 
every known scientific law, and I had deplored the simplicity 
and credulity which could deceive good, earnest people into 
believing that such bogus happenings were signs of intelligence 
outside our own existence. Educated as I had been during 
my most plastic years in the school of medical materialism, 
and soaked in the negative views of all my great teachers, I 
had no room in my brain for theories which cut right across 
every fixed conclusion that I had formed. I was wrong and 
my great teachers were wrong, but still I hold that they wrought 
well and that their Victorian agnosticism was in the interests 
of the human race, for it shook the old iron-clad unreasoning 
Evangelical position which was so universal before their days. 
For all rebuilding a site must be cleared. There were two sep¬ 
arate Victorian movements towards change, the one an attempt 
to improve the old building and make it good enough to carry 
on — as shown in the Oxford and High Church development, 
the other a knocking down of ruins which could only end in 
some fresh erection springing up. As I have shown my own 
position was that of a respectful materialist who entirely ad¬ 
mitted a great central intelligent cause, without being able to 


78 Memories and Adventures 

distinguish what that cause was, or why it should work in so 
mysterious and terrible a way in bringing its designs to ful¬ 
filment. 

From my point of view the mind (and so far as I could 
see the soul, which was the total effect of all the hereditary 
or personal functionings of the mind) was an emanation from 
the brain and entirely physical in its nature. I saw, as a 
medical man, how a spicule of hone or a tumour pressing on 
the brain would cause what seemed an alteration in the soul. 
I saw also how drugs or alcohol would turn on fleeting phases 
of virtue or vice. The physical argument seemed an over¬ 
powering one. It had never struck me that the current of 
events might really flow in the opposite direction, and that the 
higher faculties could only manifest themselves imperfectly 
through an imperfect instrument. The broken fiddle is silent 
and yet the musician is the same as ever. 

The first thing which steadied me and made me reconsider 
my position was the question of telepathy, which was already 
being discussed by William Barrett and others, even before 
the appearance of Myers’ monumental work on “ Human Per¬ 
sonality ”— the first book which devoted to these psychic sub¬ 
jects the deep study and sustained brain power which they 
demand. It may, in my opinion, take a permanent place in 
human literature like the “Hovum Organum ” or “The De¬ 
scent of Man ” or any other great root-book which has marked 
a date in human thought. Having read some of the evidence 
I began to experiment in thought transference, and I found 
a fellow-researcher in Mr. Ball, a well-known architect in the 
town. Again and again, sitting behind him, I have drawn 
diagrams, and he in turn has made approximately the same 
figure. I showed beyond any doubt whatever that I could 
convey my thought without words. 

But if I could verify such conclusions up to six feet I could 
not well doubt them when they gave me the evidence that the 
same results could be obtained at a distance. With an appro¬ 
priate subject, and some undefined sympathy between the two 
individuals, it was independent of space. So the evidence 
seemed to show. I had always sworn by science and by the 
need of fearless following wherever truth might lie. It was 


Pulling Up the Anchor 79 

clear now that my position had been too rigid. I had com¬ 
pared the thought-excretion of the brain to the bile-excretion 
of the liver. Clearly this was untenable. If thought could 
go a thousand miles and produce a perceptible effect then it 
differed entirely not only in degree but in kind from any 
purely physical material. That seemed certain, and it must 
involve some modification of my old views. 

About this time ( 1886 ) the family of a General whom I 
attended professionally became interested in table turning and 
asked me to come and check their results. They sat round a 
dining-room table which after a time, their hands being upon 
it, began to sway and finally got sufficient motion to tap with 
one leg. They then asked questions and received answers, 
more or less wise and more or less to the point. They were 
got by the tedious process of reciting the alphabet and writing 
down the letter which the tap indicated. It seemed to me that 
we were collectively pushing the table, and that our wills were 
concerned in bringing down the leg at the right moment. I 
was interested hut very sceptical. Some of these messages 
were not vague platitudes hut were definite and from dead 
friends of the family, which naturally impressed them greatly, 
though it had not the same effect upon me, since I did not 
know them. I have the old records before me as I write. 
11 Don’t tell the girls when you see them, hut they will talk 
about me. Kiss my baby for me. I watch her always. 
Francie.” This was the style of message, mixed up with a 
good many platitudes. We held twenty or more of such meet¬ 
ings, but I never received anything evidential to my own ad¬ 
dress, and I was very critical as to the whole proceedings. 

Kone the less there was a problem to be solved and I went 
on with its solution, reading the pros and the cons, and asking 
advice from those who had experience, especially from General 
Drayson, a very distinguished thinker and a pioneer of psychic 
knowledge, who lived at that time at Southsea. I had known 
Drayson first as an astronomer, for he had worked out a rev¬ 
olutionary idea by which there is a fatal mistake in our present 
idea as to the circle which is described in the heavens by the 
prolonged axis of the earth. It is really a wider circle round 
a different centre, and this correction enables us to explain 


80 Memories and Adventures 

several things now inexplicable, and to make astronomy a more 
exact science, with certain very important reactions upon geol¬ 
ogy and the recurrent glacial epochs, the exact date of which 
could he fixed. His views impressed me much at the time, 
and several books upholding them have appeared since his 
death, notably “ Draysoniana ” by Admiral de Horsey. If he 
makes good, as I think he will, Drayson will make a great per¬ 
manent name. His opinion therefore was not negligible upon 
any subject, and when he told pie his views and experiences 
on Spiritualism I could not fail to be impressed, though my 
own philosophy was far too solid to be easily destroyed. I 
was too poor to employ professional mediums, and to work on 
such subjects without a medium is as if one worked at astron¬ 
omy without a telescope. Once only an old man with some 
reputed psychic power came for a small fee and gave us a 
demonstration. He went into a loud-breathing trance to the 
alarm of his audience, and then gave each of us a test. Mine 
was certainly a very remarkable one, for it was “ Do not read 
Leigh Hunt’s book.” I was hesitating at the time whether I 
should read his “ Comic Dramatists of the Restoration ” or 
not, for on the one hand it is literature and on the other the 
treatment repelled me. This then was a very final and ex¬ 
cellent test so far as telepathy went, but I would not fully 
grant that it was more. I was so impressed, however, that 
I wrote an account of it to “ Light,” the psychic weekly paper, 
and so in the year 1887 I actually put myself on public record 
as a student of these matters. That was thirty-seven years ago, 
as I write, so I am a very senior student now. Prom that time 
onwards I read and thought a great deal, though it was not 
until the later phase of my life that I realized whither all 
this was tending. This question I will treat in a final section 
by itself, so that those to whom it is of less interest can 
avoid it. 

I was deeply interested and attracted for a year or two by 
Theosophy, because while Spiritualism seemed at that time 
to be chaos so far as philosophy went, Theosophy presented a 
very well thought-out and reasonable scheme, parts of which, 
notably reincarnation and Karma, seemed to offer an ex¬ 
planation for some of the anomalies of life. I read Sinnett’s 


81 


Pulling Up the Anchor 

“ Occult World ” and afterwards with even greater admiration 
I read his fine exposition of Theosophy in “ Esoteric Bud¬ 
dhism,” a most notable hook. I also met him, for he was 
an old friend of General Drayson’s, and I was impressed by 
his conversation. Shortly afterwards, however, there appeared 
Dr. Hodgson’s report upon his investigation into Madame 
Blavatsky’s proceedings at Adyar, which shook my confidence 
very much. It is true that Mrs. Besant has since then pub¬ 
lished a powerful defence which tends to show that Hodgson 
may have been deceived, but the subsequent book “ A Priestess 
of Isis ” which contains many of her own letters leaves an 
unpleasant impression, and Sinnett’s posthumous work seems 
to show that he also had lost confidence. On the other hand 
Colonel Olcott shows that the woman undoubtedly had real 
psychic powers, whatever their source. As to Spiritualism it 
seems to have only interested her in its lower phenomenal 
aspect. Her books show extraordinary erudition and capacity 
for hard work, even if they represent the transfer of other 
people’s conclusions, as they frequently do. It would be un¬ 
just, however, to condemn the old wisdom simply because it 
was introduced by this extraordinary and volcanic person. 
We have also had in our branch of the occult many dishonest 
mediums, but we have hastened to unveil them where we could 
do so, and Theosophy will be in a stronger position when it 
shakes off Madame Blavatsky altogether. In any case it could 
never have met my needs for I ask for severe proof, and if I 
have to go back to unquestioning faith I should find myself 
in the fold from which I wandered. 

My life had been a pleasant one with my steadily-increasing 
literary success, my practice, w'hich was enough to keep me 
pleasantly occupied, and my sport, which I treat in a later 
chapter. Suddenly, however, there came a development which 
shook me out of my rut, and caused an absolute change in 
my life and plans. One daughter, Mary, had been born to 
us, our household was a happy one, and as I have never had 
personal ambitions, since the simple things of life have always 
been the most pleasant to me, it is possible that I should have 
remained in Southsea permanently but for this new episode 
in my life. It arose when in 1890 Koch announced that he 


82 Memories and Adventures 

had discovered a sure cure for consumption and that he would 
demonstrate it upon a certain date in Berlin. 

A great urge came upon me suddenly that I should go to 
Berlin and see him do so. I could give no clear reason for 
this hut it was an irresistible impulse and I at once determined 
to go. Had I been a well-known doctor or a specialist in con¬ 
sumption it would have been more intelligible, but I had, as 
a matter of fact, no great interest in the more recent develop¬ 
ments of my own profession, and a very strong belief that 
much of the so-called progress was illusory. However, at a 
few hours’ notice I packed up a bag and started off alone upon 
this curious adventure. I had had an interchange of letters 
with Mr. W. T. Stead over some matter and I called upon 
him at the “ Review of Reviews ” office as I passed through 
London to ask him if he could give me an introduction to 
Koch or to Dr. Bergmann, who was to give the demonstration. 
Mr. Stead was very amiable to this big unknown provincial 
doctor, and he gave me a letter for the British Ambassador — 
Sir Edward Malet, if I remember right — and for Mr. Lowe, 
“ The Times ” correspondent. He also asked me to do a char¬ 
acter sketch of Koch for him, adding that he would have 
Count Mattei as a feature of his magazine this month and 
Koch the next. I said, “ Then you will have the greatest 
man of science and the greatest quack in Europe following each 
other.” Stead glared at me angrily, for it seems that the 
Mattei treatment with its blue electricity and the rest of it 
was at that moment his particular fad. However, we parted 
amiably and all through his life we kept in distant touch, 
though we came into sharp collision at the time of the Boer 
war. He was a brave and honest man, and if he was impulsive 
at times it was only the sudden outflame of that fire which 
made him the great force for good that he was. In psychic 
knowledge he was a generation before his time, though his 
mode of expressing it may sometimes have been injudicious. 

I went on to Berlin that night and found myself in the 
Continental express with a very handsome and courteous Lon¬ 
don physician bound upon the same errand as myself. We 
passed most of the night talking and I learned that his name 
was Malcolm Morris and that he also had been a provincial 


83 


Pulling Up the Anchor 

doctor, but that he had come to London and had made a con¬ 
siderable hit as a skin specialist in Harley Street. It was 
the beginning of a friendship which endured. 

Having arrived at Berlin the great thing was to be present 
at Bergmann’s demonstration, which was to be next day at 
twelve. I went to our Ambassador, was kept long waiting, 
had a chilly reception and was dismissed without help or con¬ 
solation. Then I tried “ The Times ” correspondent, but he 
could not help me either. He and his amiable wife showed 
me every courtesy and invited me to dinner that night. Tickets 
were simply not to be had and neither money nor interest could 
procure them. I conceived the wild idea of getting one from 
Koch himself and made my way to his house. While there I 
had the curious experience of seeing his mail arrive — a large 
sack full of letters, which was emptied out on the floor of the 
hall, and exhibited every sort of stamp in Europe. It was a 
sign of all the sad broken lives and wearied hearts which were 
turning in hope to Berlin. Koch remained a veiled prophet, 
however, and would see neither me nor any one else. I was 
fairly at my wit’s ends and could not imagine how I could 
attain my end. 

Hext day I went down to the great building where the ad¬ 
dress was to be given and managed by bribing the porter to 
get into the outer Hall. The huge audience was assembling 
in a room beyond. I tried further bribing that I might be 
slipped in, but the official became abusive. People streamed 
past me, but I was always the waiter at the gate. Finally 
every one had gone in and then a group of men came bustling 
across, Bergmann, bearded and formidable, in the van, with 
a tail of house surgeons and satellites behind him. I threw 
myself across his path. “ I have come a thousand miles,” 
said I. “ May I not come in ? ” He halted and glared at 
me through his spectacles. “ Perhaps you would like to take 
my place,” he roared, working himself up into that strange 
folly of excitement which seems so strange in the heavy Ger¬ 
man nature. “ That is the only place left. Yes, yes, take my 
place by all means. My classes are filled with Englishmen 
already.” He fairly spat out the word “Englishmen” and 
I learned afterwards that some recent quarrel with Morel 


84 Memories and Adventures 

MacKenzie over the illness of the Emperor Frederick had 
greatly incensed him. I am glad to say that I kept my 
temper and my polite manner, which is always the best shield 
when one is met by brutal rudeness. “ Not at all,” I said. 
“ I would not intrude, if there was really no room.” He 
glared at me again, all beard and spectacles, and rushed on 
with his court all grinning at the snub which the presumptuous 
Englishman had received. One of them lingered, however — 
a kindly American. “ That was bad behaviour,” said he. 
“ See here! If you meet me at four this afternoon I will 
show you my full notes of the lecture, and I know the cases 
he is about to show, so we can see them together to-morrow.” 
Then he followed on, 

So it came about that I attained my end after all, but in a 
roundabout way. I studied the lecture and the cases, and I 
had the temerity to disagree with every one and to come to 
the conclusion that the whole thing was experimental and 
premature. A wave of madness had seized the world and from 
all parts, notably from England, poor afflicted people were rush¬ 
ing to Berlin for a cure, some of them in such advanced stages 
of disease that they died in the train. I felt so sure of my 
ground and so strongly about it that I wrote a letter of warn¬ 
ing to “ The Daily Telegraph,” and I rather think that this 
letter was the very first which appeared upon the side of doubt 
and caution. I need not say that the event proved the truth 
of my forecast. 

Two days later I was back in Southsea, but I came back a 
changed man. I had spread my wings and had felt something 
of the powers within me. Especially I had been influenced by 
a long talk with Malcolm Morris, in which he assured me 
that I was wasting my life in the provinces and had too small 
a field for my activities. He insisted that I should leave gen¬ 
eral practice and go to London. I answered that I was by 
no means sure of my literary success as yet, and that I could 
not so easily abandon the medical career which had cost my 
mother such sacrifices and myself so many years of study. He 
asked me if there was any special branch of the profession 
on which I could concentrate so as to get away from general 
practice. I said that of late years I had been interested in 


85 


Pulling Up the Anchor 

eye work and had amused myself by correcting refractions 
and ordering glasses in the Portsmouth Eye Hospital under 
Hr. Vernon Ford. “Well,” said Morris, “why not specialize 
upon the eye? Go to Vienna, put in six months’ work, come 
back and start in London. Thus you will have a nice clean 
life with plenty of leisure for your literature.” I came home 
with this great suggestion buzzing in my head and as my wife 
was quite willing and Mary, my little girl, was old enough 
now to be left with her grandmother, there seemed to be no 
obstacle in the way. There were no difficulties about disposing 
of the practice, for it was so small and so purely personal that 
it could not be sold to another and simply had to dissolve. 

The Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society gave me a 
God-speed banquet. I have many pleasant and some comic 
reminiscences of this Society, of which I had been secretary 
for several years. We kept the sacred flame burning in the 
old city with our weekly papers and discussions during the 
long winters. It was there I learned to face an audience, which 
proved to be of the first importance for my life’s work. I was 
naturally of a very nervous, backward, self-distrustful dispo¬ 
sition in such things and I have been told that the signal that 
I was about to join in the discussion was that the whole long 
bench on which I sat, with every one on it, used to shake with 
my emotion. But once up I learned to speak out, to conceal my 
trepidations, and to choose my phrases. I gave three papers, 
one on the Arctic seas, one on Carlyle and one on Gibbon. The 
former gave me a quite unmerited reputation as a sportsman, 
for I borrowed from a local taxidermist every bird and beast 
that he possessed which could conceivably find its way into the 
Arctic Circle. These I piled upon the lecture table, and the 
audience, concluding that I had shot them all, looked upon me 
with great respect. Next morning they were back with the 
taxidermist once more. We had some weird people and inci¬ 
dents at these debates. I remember one very learned discus¬ 
sion on fossils and the age of the strata, which was ended by 
a cadaverous major-general of the Evangelical persuasion who 
rose and said in a hollow voice that all this speculation was 
vain, and indeed incomprehensible, since we knew on an 
authority which could not possibly be questioned that the world 


86 


Memories and Adventures 


was made exactly five thousand eight hundred and ninety years 
ago. This put the lid on the debate and we all crept home 
to bed. 

My political work also caused me to learn to speak. I was 
what was called a Liberal-Unionist, that is, a man whose gen¬ 
eral position was Liberal, hut who could not see his way to 
support Gladstone’s Irish Policy. Perhaps we were wrong. 
However, that was my view at the time. L had a dreadful 
first experience of platform speaking on a large scale, for 
at a huge meeting at the Amphitheatre the candidate, Sir 
William Crossman, was delayed, and to prevent a fiasco I was 
pushed on at a moment’s notice to face an audience of 3,000 
people. It was one of the tight corners of my life. I hardly 
knew myself what I said, hut the Irish part of me came to my 
aid and supplied me with a torrent of more or less incoherent 
words and similes which roused the audience greatly, though 
it read to me afterwards more like a comic stump speech than 
a serious political effort. But it was what they wanted and 
they were mostly on their feet before I finished. I was amazed 
when I read it next day, and especially the last crowning sen¬ 
tence which was: “ England and Ireland are wedded together 
with the sapphire wedding ring of the sea, and what God has 
placed together let no man pluck asunder.” It was not very 
good logic hut whether it was eloquence or rodomontade I 
could not even now determine. 

I was acting Secretary when Mr. Balfour came down to 
address a great meeting and, as such, when the Hall was full, 
I waited on the curb outside to receive him. Presently his 
carriage drove up and out he stepped, tall, thin and aristo¬ 
cratic. There were two notorious artisans of the other side 
waiting for him and I warned them not to make trouble. 
However, the moment Balfour appeared one of them opened 
a huge mouth with the intention of emitting a howl of exe¬ 
cration. But it never got out, for I clapped my hand pretty 
forcibly over the orifice while I held him by the neck with 
the other hand. His companion hit me on the head with a 
stick, and was promptly knocked down by one of my com¬ 
panions. Meanwhile Balfour got safely in, and we two sec¬ 
retaries followed, rather dishevelled after our adventure. I 


Pulling Up the Anchor 87 

met Lord Balfour several times in after life but I never told 
him bow I once bad my hat smashed in his defence. 

What with the Literary Society and the politicians I left 
a gap behind me in Portsmouth and so did my wife, who was 
universally popular for her amiable and generous character. 
It was a wrench to us to leave so many good friends. How¬ 
ever, towards the end of 1890 the die was cast, and we closed 
the door of Bush Villa behind us for the last time. I had 
days of privation there, and days of growing success during 
the eight long years that I had spent in Portsmouth. How it 
was with a sense of wonderful freedom and exhilarating ad¬ 
venture that we set forth upon the next phase of our lives. 


CHAPTER X 


THE GREAT BREAK 

Vienna — A Specialist in Wimpole Street — The Great Decision — Norwood 
—'“The Refugees”—Reported Death of Holmes. 

W E set forth upon a hitter winter day at the close of 1890 
with every chance of being snowed up on our long trek. 
We got through all right, however, and found ourselves in 
Vienna, arriving on a deadly cold night, with deep snow under 
foot and a cutting blizzard in the air. As we looked from 
the station the electric lights threw out the shining silver drift 
of snow flakes against the absolute darkness of the sky. It 
was a gloomy, ominous reception, but half an hour afterwards 
when we were in the warm cosy crowded tobacco-laden res¬ 
taurant attached to our hotel we took a more cheerful view 
of our surroundings. 

We found a modest pension which was within our means, 
and we put in a very pleasant four months, during which I 
attended eye lectures at the Krankenhaus, but could certainly 
have learned far more in London, for even if one has a fair 
knowledge of conversational German it is very different from 
following accurately a rapid lecture filled with technical terms. 
No doubt “ has studied in Vienna ” sounds well in a special¬ 
ist’s record, but it is usually taken for granted that he has 
exhausted his own country before going abroad, which was 
by no means the case with me. Therefore, so far as eye work 
goes, my winter was wasted, nor can I trace any particular 
spiritual or intellectual advance. • On the other hand I saw 
a little of gay Viennese society. I received kind and welcome 
hospitality from Brinsley Richards, “ The Times ” correspon¬ 
dent, and his wife, and I had some excellent skating. I also 
wrote one short book, “ The Doings of Raffles Haw,” not a very 
notable achievement, by which I was able to pay my current 


The Great Break 


89 


expenses without encroaching on the very few hundred pounds 
which were absolutely all that I had in the world. This money 
was invested on the advice of a friend, and as it was almost 
all lost — like so much more that I have earned — it is just 
as well that I w r as never driven hack upon it. 

With the spring my work at Vienna had finished, if it can 
be said to have ever begun, and we returned via Paris, putting 
in a few days there with Landolt, who was the most famous 
French oculist of his time. It was great to find ourselves 
hack in London once more with the feeling that we were now 
on the real field of battle, where we must conquer or perish, 
for our boats were burned behind us. It is easy now to look 
back and think that the issue was clear, but it was by no means 
so at the time, for I had earned little, though my reputation 
was growing. It was only my own inward conviction of the 
permanent merits of “ The White Company,” still appearing 
month by month in “ Cornhill,” which sustained my confidence. 
I had come through so much in the early days at Southsea 
that nothing could alarm me personally, hut I had a wife and 
child now, and the stern simplicity of life which was possible 
and even pleasant in early days was now no longer to be 
thought of. 

We took rooms in Montague Place, and I went forth to 
search for some place where I could put up my plate as an 
oculist. I was aware that many of the big men do not find 
time to work out refractions, which in some cases of astig¬ 
matism take a long time to adjust when done by retinoscopy. 
I was capable in this work and liked it, so I hoped that some 
of it might drift my way. But to get it, it was clearly neces¬ 
sary that I should live among the big men so that the patient 
could be easily referred to me. I searched the doctors’ quar¬ 
ters and at last found suitable accommodation at 2 Devonshire 
Place, which is at the top of Wimpole Street and close to the 
classical Harley Street. There for £120 a year I got the 
use of a front room with part use of a waiting room. I was 
soon to find that they were both waiting rooms, and now I 
know that it was better so. 

Every morning I walked from the lodgings at Montague 
Place, reached my consulting room at ten and sat there until 


90 Memories and Adventures 

three or four, with never a ring to disturb my serenity. Could 
better conditions for reflection and work be found ? It was 
ideal, and so long as I was thoroughly unsuccessful in my 
professional venture there was every chance of improvement 
in my literary prospects. Therefore when I returned to the 
lodgings at tea-time I bore my little sheaves with me, the first 
fruits of a considerable harvest. 

A number of monthly magazines were coming out at that 
time, notable among which was “ The Strand,” then as now 
under the editorship of Greenhough Smith. Considering these 
various journals with their disconnected stories it had struck 
me that a single character running through a series, if it only 
engaged the attention of the reader, would bind that reader to 
that particular magazine. On the other hand, it had long 
seemed to me that the ordinary serial might be an impediment 
rather than a help to a magazine, since, sooner or later, one 
missed one number and afterwards it had lost all interest. 
Clearly the ideal compromise was a character which carried 
through, and yet instalments which were each complete in 
themselves, so that the purchaser was always sure that he could 
relish the whole contents of the magazine. I believe that I 
was the first to realize this and “ The Strand Magazine ” the 
first to put it into practice. 

Looking round for my central character I felt that Sherlock 
Holmes, whom I had already handled in two little books, would 
easily lend himself to a succession of short stories. These I 
began in the long hours of waiting in my consulting room. 
Greenhough Smith liked them from the first, and encouraged 
me to go ahead with them. My literary affairs had been taken 
up by that king of agents, A. P. "Watt, who relieved me of 
all the hateful bargaining, and handled things so well that any 
immediate anxiety for money soon disappeared. It was as 
well, for not one single patient had ever crossed the threshold 
of my room. 

I was now once more at a crossroads of my life, and Prov¬ 
idence, which I recognize at every step, made me realize it 
in a very energetic and unpleasant way. I was starting off 
for my usual trudge one morning from our lodgings when icy 
shivers passed over me, and I only got back in time to avoid 


The Great Break 


91 


a total collapse. It was a virulent attack of influenza, at a 
time when influenza was in its deadly prime. Only three years 
before my dear sister Annette, after spending her whole life 
on the family needs, had died of it at Lisbon at the very 
moment when my success would have enabled me to recall 
her from her long servitude. Now it was my turn, and I very 
nearly followed her. I can remember no pain or extreme dis¬ 
comfort, and no psychic experiences, but for a week I was in 
great danger, and then found myself as weak as a child and 
as emotional, but with a mind as clear as crystal. It was then, 
as I surveyed my own life, that I saw how foolish I was to 
waste my literary earnings in keeping up an oculist’s room 
in Wimpole Street, and I determined with a wild rush of joy 
to cut the painter and to trust for ever to my power of writing. 
I remember in my delight taking the handkerchief which lay 
upon the coverlet in my enfeebled hand, and tossing it up to 
the ceiling in my exultation. I should at last be my own 
master. No longer would I have to conform to professional 
dress or try to please any one else. I would be free to live 
how I liked and where I liked. It was one of the great mo¬ 
ments of exultation of my life. The date was in August, 1891. 

Presently I was about, hobbling on a stick and reflecting 
that if I lived to be eighty I knew already exactly how it 
would feel. I haunted house-agents, got lists of suburban villas, 
and spent some weeks, as my strength returned, in searching 
for a new home. Finally I found a suitable house, modest but 
comfortable, isolated and yet one of a row. It was 12 Tennison 
Road, South Norwood. There we settled down, and there I 
made my first effort to live entirely by my pen. It soon be¬ 
came evident that I had been playing the game well within 
my powers and that I should have no difficulty in providing 
a sufficient income. It seemed as if I had settled into a life 
which might be continuous, and I little foresaw that an un¬ 
expected blow was about to fall upon us, and that we were 
not at the end, but really at the beginning, of our wanderings. 

I could not know this, however, and I settled down with a 
stout heart to do some literary work worthy of the name. The 
difficulty of the Holmes work was that every story really 
needed as clear-cut and original a plot as a longish book would 


92 Memories and Adventures 

do. One cannot without effort spin plots at such a rate. They 
are apt to become thin or to break. I was determined, now 
that I had no longer the excuse of absolute pecuniary pressure, 
never again to write anything which was not as good as I could 
possibly make it, and therefore I would not write a Holmes 
story without a worthy plot and without a problem which inter¬ 
ested my own mind, for that is the first requisite before you can 
interest any one else. If I have been able to sustain this 
character for a long time and if the public find, as they will 
find, that the last story is as good as the first, it is entirely 
due to the fact that I never, or hardly ever, forced a story. 
Some have thought there was a falling off in the stories, and 
the criticism was neatly expressed by a Cornish boatman who 
said to me, “ I think, sir, when Holmes fell over that cliff, 
he may not have killed himself, but all the same he was never 
quite the same man afterwards.” I think, however, that if 
the reader began the series backwards, so that he brought a 
fresh mind to the last stories, he would agree with me that, 
though the general average may not be conspicuously high, still 
the last one is as good as the first. 

I was weary, however, of inventing plots and I set myself 
now to do some work which would certainly be less remunera¬ 
tive but would be more ambitious from a literary point of 
view. I had long been attracted by the epoch of Louis XIV 
and by those Huguenots who were the French equivalents of 
our Puritans. I had a good knowledge of the memoirs of that 
date, and many notes already prepared, so that it did not 
take me long to write “ The Refugees.” It has stood the acid 
test of time very well, so I may say that it was a success. 
Soon after its appearance it was translated into French, and 
my mother, herself a great French scholar, had the joy when 
she visited Fontainebleau to hear the official guide tell the 
drove of tourists that if they really wanted to know about the 
Court of the great monarch, they would find the clearest and 
most accurate account in an Englishman’s book, “ The Refu¬ 
gees.” I expect the guide would have been considerably as¬ 
tonished had he then and there been kissed by an elderly Eng¬ 
lish lady, but it was an experience which he must have nar¬ 
rowly missed. I used in this book, also, a great deal which 


93 


The Great Break 

was drawn from Parkman, that great but neglected historian, 
who was in my opinion the greatest serious writer that America 
has produced. 

There was an amusing episode connected with “ The Refu¬ 
gees,” when it was read aloud in some strict Irish convent, 
the innocent Reverend Mother having mistaken my name and 
imagined that I was a canon, and therefore of course a holy 
man. I am told that the reading was a tremendous success 
and that the good sisters rejoiced that the mistake was not 
found out until the story was completed. My first name has 
several times led to mistakes, as when, at a big dinner at 
Chicago, I was asked to say Grace, as being the only ecclesiastic 
present. I remember that at the same dinner one of the speak¬ 
ers remarked that it was a most sinister fact that though I 
was a doctor no living patient of mine had ever yet been seen. 

During this Norwood interval, I was certainly working hard, 
for besides “ The Refugees ” I wrote “ The Great Shadow,” 
a booklet which I should put near the front of my work for 
merit, and two other little books on a very inferior plane — 
“ The Parasite ” and “ Beyond the City.” The latter was 
of a domestic type unusual for me. It was pirated in New 
York just before tbe new Copyright Act came into force, and 
the rascal publisher thinking that a portrait — any sort of 
portrait — of the author would look well upon the cover, and 
being quite ignorant of my identity, put a very pretty and 
over-dressed young woman as my presentment. I still pre¬ 
serve a copy of this most flattering representation. All these 
books had some decent success, though none of it was remark¬ 
able. It was still the Sherlock Holmes stories for which the 
public clamoured, and these from time to time I endeavoured 
to supply. At last, after I had done two series of them I saw 
that I was in danger of having my hand forced, and of being 
entirely identified with what I regarded as a lower stratum 
of literary achievement. Therefore as a sign of my resolution 
I determined to end the life of my hero. The idea was in 
my mind when I went with my wife for a short holiday in 
Switzerland, in the course of which we saw there the wonder¬ 
ful falls of Reichenbach, a terrible place, and one that I thought 
would make a worthy tomb for poor Sherlock, even if I buried 


94 Memories and Adventures 

my banking account along with him. So there I laid him, 
fully determined that he should' stay there — as indeed for 
some years he did. I was amazed at the concern expressed 
by the public. They say that a man is never properly appre¬ 
ciated until he is dead, and the general protest against my 
summary execution of Holmes taught me how many and how 
numerous were his friends. “ You Brute ” was the beginning 
of the letter of remonstrance which one lady sent me, and I 
expect she spoke for others besides herself. I heard of many 
who wept. I fear I was utterly callous myself, and only glad 
to have a chance of opening out into new fields of imagination, 
for the temptation of high prices made it difficult to get one’s 
thoughts away from Holmes. 

That Sherlock Holmes was anything but mythical to many 
is shown by the fact that I have had many letters addressed 
to him with requests that I forward them. Watson has also 
had a number of letters in which he has been asked for the 
address or for the autograph of his more brilliant confrere. 
A press-cutting agency wrote to Watson asking whether Holmes 
would not wish to subscribe. When Holmes retired several 
elderly ladies were ready to keep house for him and one sought 
to ingratiate herself by assuring me that she knew all about 
bee-keeping and could “ segregate the queen.” I had consider¬ 
able offers also for Holmes if he would examine and solve 
various family mysteries. Once the offer — from Poland — 
was that I should myself go, and my reward was practically 
left to my own judgment. I had judgment enough, however, 
to avoid it altogether. 

I have often been asked whether I had myself the qualities 
which I depicted, or whether I was merely the Watson that I 
look. Of course I am well aware that it is one thing to grapple 
with a practical problem and quite another thing when you are 
allowed to solve it under your own conditions. I have no de¬ 
lusions about that. At the same time a man cannot spin a 
character out of his own inner consciousness and make it really 
life-like unless he has some possibilities of that character within 
him — which is a dangerous admission for one who has drawn 
so many villains as I. In my poem “ The Inner Room,” de¬ 
scribing our multiplex personality, I say: 


The Great Break 


95 


“ There are others who are sitting, 

Grim as doom. 

In the dim ill-boding shadow 
Of my room. 

Darkling figures, stern or quaint, 

Now a savage, now a saint, 

Showing fitfully and faint 
In the gloom.” 

Among those figures there may perhaps he an astute detective 
also, hut I find that in real life in order to find him I have 
to inhibit all the others and get into a mood when there is no 
one in the room but he. Then I get results and have several 
times solved problems by Holmes’ methods after the police 
have been baffled. Yet I must admit that in ordinary life I 
am by no means observant and that I have to throw myself 
into an artificial frame of mind before I can weigh evidence 
and anticipate the sequence of events. 


1 


X 


CHAPTER XI 

SIDELIGHTS OH SHERLOCK HOLMES 

“ The Speckled Band ”— Barrie’s Parody on Holmes — Holmes on the 
Films—-Methods of Construction — Problems : —Curious Letters — 
Some Personal Cases — Strange Happenings. 

I MAY as well interrupt my narrative here in order to say 
what may interest my readers about my most notorious 
character. 

The impression that Holmes was a real person of flesh and 
blood may have been intensified by his frequent appearance 
upon the stage. After the withdrawal of my dramatization 
of “ Rodney Stone ” from a theatre upon which I held a 
six months’ lease, I determined to play a bold and energetic 
game, for an empty theatre spells ruin. When I saw the course 
that things were taking I shut myself up and devoted my 
whole mind to making a sensational Sherlock Holmes drama. 
I wrote it in a week and called it “ The Speckled Band ” after 
the short story of that name. I do not think that I exaggerate 
if I say that within a fortnight of the one play shutting down 
I had a company working upon the rehearsals of a second one, 
which had been written in the interval. It was a considerable 
success. Lyn Harding, as the half epileptic and wholly for¬ 
midable Doctor Grimeshy Rylott, w T as most masterful, while 
Saintsbury as Sherlock Holmes was also very good. Before 
the end of the run I had cleared off all that I had lost upon 
the other play, and I had created a permanent property of 
some value. It became a stock piece and is even now touring 
the country. We had a fine rock boa to play the title-role, 
a snake which was the pride of my heart, so one can imagine 
my disgust when I saw that one critic ended his disparaging 
review by the words “ The crisis of the play was produced 
by the appearance of a palpably artificial serpent.” I was in¬ 
clined to offer him a goodly sum if he would undertake to go 
to bed with it. We had several snakes at different times, but 
they were none of them horn actors and they were all inclined 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 97 

either to hang down from the hole in the wall like inanimate 
bell-pulls, or else to turn back through the hole and get even 
with the stage carpenter who pinched their tails in order to 
make them more lively. Finally we used artificial snakes, 
and every one, including the stage carpenter, agreed that it was 
more satisfactory. 

This was the second Sherlock Holmes play. I should have 
spoken about the first, which was produced very much earlier, 
in fact at the time of the African w T ar. It was written and 
most wonderfully acted by William Gillette, the famous Amer¬ 
ican. Since he used my characters and to some extent my 
plots, he naturally gave me a share in the undertaking, which 
proved to be very successful. “ May I marry Holmes ? ” was 
one cable which I received from him when in the throes of 
composition. “ You may marry or murder or do what you 
like with him,” was my heartless reply. I was charmed both 
with the play, the acting and the pecuniary result. I think 
that every man with a drop of artistic blood in his veins would 
agree that the latter consideration, though very welcome when 
it does arrive, is still the last of which he thinks. 

Sir James Barrie paid his respects to Sherlock Holmes in 
a rollicking parody. It was really a gay gesture of resignation 
over the failure which we had encountered with a comic opera 
for which he undertook to write the libretto.. I collaborated 
with him on this, but in spite of our joint efforts, the piece 
fell flat. Whereupon Barrie sent me a parody on Holmes, 
written on the fly leaves of one of his books. It ran thus:— 

The Adventure of the Two Collaborators 

In bringing to a close the adventures of my friend Sherlock 
Holmes I am perforce reminded that he never, save on the 
occasion which, as you will now hear, brought his singular 
career to an end, consented to act in any mystery which was 
concerned with persons who made a livelihood by their pen. 
“ I am not particular about the people I mix among for busi¬ 
ness purposes,” he would say, “ but at literary characters I 
draw the line.” 

We were in our rooms in Baker Street one evening. I was 


98 Memories and Adventures 

(I remember) by tbe centre table .writing out “ The Adventure 
of tbe Man without a Cork Leg ” (which bad so puzzled tbe 
Royal Society and all tbe other scientific bodies of Europe), 
and Holmes was amusing himself with a little revolver prac¬ 
tice. It was his custom of a summer evening to fire round 
my head, just shaving my face, until he had made a photo¬ 
graph of me on the opposite wall, and it is a slight proof of 
his skill that many of these portraits in pistol shots are con¬ 
sidered admirable likenesses. 

I happened to look out of the window, and perceiving two 
gentlemen advancing rapidly along Baker Street asked him 
who they were. He immediately lit his pipe, and, twisting 
himself on a chair into the figure 8, replied: 

“ They are two collaborators in comic opera, and their play 
has not been a triumph.” 

I sprang from my chair to the ceiling in amazement, and 
he then explained: 

“ My dear Watson, they are obviously men who follow some 
low calling. That much even you should be able to read in 
their faces. Those little pieces of blue paper which they fling 
angrily from them are Durrant’s Press Notices. Of these they 
have obviously hundreds about their person (see how their 
pockets bulge). They would not dance on them if they were 
pleasant reading.” 

I again sprang to the ceiling (which is much dented), and 
shouted: “ Amazing! but they may be mere authors.” 

“ No,” said Holmes, “ for mere authors only get one press 
notice a week. Only criminals, dramatists and actors get them 
'by the hundred.” 

“ Then they may be actors.” 

“ No, actors would come in a carriage.” 

“ Can you tell me anything else about them ? ” 

“ A great deal. From the mud on the boots of the tall one 
I perceive that he comes from South Norwood. The other is 
as obviously a Scotch author.” 

“ How can you tell that ? ” 

“He is carrying in his pocket a book called (I clearly see) 
1 Auld Licht Something.’ Would any one but the author be 
likely to carry about a book with such a title ? ” 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 99 

I had to confess that this was improbable. 

It was now evident that the two men (if such they can be 
called) were seeking our lodgings. I have said (often) that 
my friend Holmes seldom gave way to emotion of any kind, 
but he now turned livid with passion. Presently this gave 
place to a strange look of triumph. 

“ Watson,” he said, “ that big fellow has for years taken the 
credit for my most remarkable doings, but at last I have him 
— at last! ” 

Up I went to the ceiling, and when I returned the strangers 
were in the room. 

“ I perceive, gentlemen,” said Mr. Sherlock Holmes, “ that 
you are at present afflicted by an extraordinary novelty.” 

The handsomer of our visitors asked in amazement how he 
knew this, but the big one only scowled. 

“ You forget that you wear a ring on your fourth finger,” 
replied Mr. Holmes calmly. 

I was about to jump to the ceiling when the big brute inter¬ 
posed. 

“ That Tommy-rot is all very well for the public, Holmes,” 
said he, “ but you can drop it before me. And, Watson, 
if you go up to the ceiling again I shall make you stay 
there.” 

Here I observed a curious phenomenon. My friend Sherlock 
Holmes shrank . He became small before my eyes. I looked 
longingly at the ceiling, but dared not. 

“ Let us cut the first four pages,” said the big man, “ and 
proceed to business. I want to know why-” 

“ Allow me,” said Mr. Holmes, with some of his old cour¬ 
age. “ You want to know why the public does not go to your 
opera.” 

u Exactly,” said the other ironically, u as you perceive by 
my shirt stud.” He added more gravely, “ And as you can 
only find out in one way I must insist on your witnessing an 
entire performance of the piece.” 

It was an anxious moment for me. I shuddered, for I knew 
that if Holmes went I should have to go with him. But my 
friend had a heart of gold. “ Never,” he cried fiercely, “ I 
will do anything for you save that.” 



100 Memories and Adventures 

“ Your continued existence depends on it,” said the big man 
menacingly. 

“ I would rather melt into air,” replied Holmes, proudly 
taking another chair. “ But I can tell you why the public 
don’t go to your piece without sitting the thing out myself.” 

“Why?” 

“ Because,” replied Holmes calmly, “ they prefer to stay 
away.” 

A dead silence followed that extraordinary remark. For a 
moment the two intruders gazed with awe upon the man who 
had unravelled their mystery so wonderfully. Then drawing 
their knives- 

Holmes grew less and less, until nothing was left save a 
ring of smoke which slowly circled to the ceiling. 

The last words of great men are often noteworthy. These 
were the last words of Sherlock Holmes: “ Fool, fool! I have 
kept you in luxury for years. By my help you have ridden 
extensively in cabs, where no author was ever seen before. 
Henceforth you will ride in buses! ” 

The brute sunk into a chair aghast. 

The other author did not turn a hair. 

To A. Conan Doyle, 

from his friend 

J. M. Barrie. 

This parody, the best of all the numerous parodies, may 
he taken as an example not only of the author’s wit but of 
his debonnaire courage, for it was written immediately after 
our joint failure which at the moment was a bitter thought for 
both of us. There is indeed nothing more miserable than a 
theatrical failure, for you feel how many others who have 
hacked you have been affected by it. It was, I am glad to say, 
my only experience of it, and I have no doubt that Barrie could 
say the same. 

Before I leave the subject of the many impersonations of 
Holmes I may say that all of them, and all the drawings, are 
very unlike my own original idea of the man. I saw him 
as very tall —“ over 6 feet, but so excessively lean that he 
seemed considerably taller,” said “ A Study in Scarlet.” He 



Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 101 

had, as I imagined him, a thin razor-like face, with a great 
hawks-bill of a nose, and two small eyes, set close together on 
either side of it. Such was my conception. It chanced, how¬ 
ever, that poor Sidney Paget who, before his premature death, 
drew all the original pictures, had a younger brother whose 
name, I think, was Walter, who served him as a model. The 
handsome Walter took the place of the more powerful but 
uglier Sherlock, and perhaps from the point of view of my 
lady readers it was as well. The stage has followed the type 
set up by the pictures. 

Films of course were unknown when the stories appeared, 
and when these rights were finally discussed and a small sum 
offered for them by a French Company it seemed treasure trove 
and I was very glad to accept. Afterwards I had to buy them 
back again at exactly ten times what I had received, so the 
deal was a disastrous one. But now they have been done by 
the Stoll Company with Eille Norwood as Holmes, and it 
was worth all the expense to get so fine a production. Norwood 
has since played the part on the stage and won the approbation 
of the London public. He has that rare quality which can 
only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an 
actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the 
brooding eye which excites expectation and he has also a quite 
unrivalled power of disguise. My only criticism of the films 
is that they introduce telephones, motor cars and other luxuries 
of which the Victorian Holmes never dreamed. 

People have often asked me whether I knew the end of a 
Holmes story before I started it. Of course I do. One could 
not possibly steer a course if one did not know one’s destina¬ 
tion. The first thing is to get your idea. Having got that key 
idea one’s next task is to conceal it and lay emphasis upon 
everything which can make for a different explanation. 
Holmes, however, can see all the fallacies of the alternatives, 
and arrives more or less dramatically at the true solution by 
steps which he can describe and justify. He shows his powers 
by what the South Americans now call “ Sherlockholmitos,” 
which means clever little deductions which often have noth¬ 
ing to do with the matter in hand, but impress the reader with 
a general sense of power. The same effect is gained by his 


102 


Memories and Adventures 


offhand allusion to other cases. Heaven knows how many titles 
I have thrown about in a casual way, and how many readers 
have begged me to satisfy their curiosity as to “ Eigoletto and 
his abominable wife,” “ The Adventure of the Tired Captain,” 
or “ The Curious Experience of the Patterson Eamily in the 
Island of Uffa.” Once or twice, as in “ The Adventure of 
the Second Stain,” which in my judgment is one of the neatest 
of the stories, I did actually use the title years before I wrote 
a story to correspond. 

There are some questions concerned with particular stories 
which turn up periodically from every quarter of the globe. 
In “ The Adventure of the Priory School ” Holmes remarks 
in his offhand way that by looking at a bicycle track on a damp 
moor one can say which way it was heading. I had so many 
remonstrances upon this point, varying from pity to anger, 
that I took out my bicycle and tried. I had imagined that 
the observations of the way in which the track of the hind 
wheel overlaid the track of the front one when the machine 
was not running dead straight would show the direction. I 
found that my correspondents were right and I was wrong, 
for this would be the same whichever way the cycle was mov¬ 
ing. On the other hand the real solution was much simpler, 
for on an undulating moor the wheels make a much deeper 
impression uphill and a more shallow one downhill, so Holmes 
was justified of his wisdom after all. 

Sometimes I have got upon dangerous ground where I have 
taken risks through my own want of knowledge of the correct 
atmosphere. I have, for example, never been a racing man, 
and yet I ventured to write “ Silver Blaze,” in which the 
mystery depends upon the laws of training and racing. The 
story is all right, and Holmes may have been at the top of 
his form, but my ignorance cries aloud to heaven. I read an 
excellent and very damaging criticism of the story in some 
sporting paper, written clearly by a man who did know, in 
which he explained the exact penalties which would have come 
upon every one concerned if they had acted as I described. 
Half would have been in jail and the other half warned off 
the turf for ever. However, I have never been nervous about 
details, and one must be masterful sometimes. When an 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 103 

alarmed Editor wrote to me once: “ There is no second 
line of rails at that point,” I answered, “ I make one.” On 
the other hand, there are cases where accuracy is essen¬ 
tial. 

I do not wish to be ungrateful to Holmes, who has been a 
good friend to me in many ways. If I have sometimes been 
inclined to weary of him it is because his character admits of 
no light or shade. He is a calculating machine, and anything 
you add to that simply weakens the effect. Thus the variety 
of the stories must depend upon the romance and compact 
handling of the plots. I would say a word for Watson also, 
who in the course of seven volumes never shows one gleam of 
humour or makes one single joke. To make a real character 
one must sacrifice everything to consistency and remember 
Goldsmith’s criticism of Johnson that “he would make the 
little fishes talk like whales.” 

I do not think that I ever realized what a living actual per¬ 
sonality Holmes had become to the more guileless readers, until 
I heard of the very pleasing story of the char-a-bancs of French 
schoolboys who, when asked what they wanted to see first in 
London, replied unanimously that they wanted to see Mr. 
Holmes’ lodgings in Baker Street. Many have asked me 
which house it is, but that is a point which for excellent rea¬ 
sons I will not decide. 

There are certain Sherlock Holmes stories, apocryphal I 
need not say, which go round and round the press and turn 
up at fixed intervals with the regularity of a comet. 

One is the story of the cabman who is supposed to have 
taken me to an hotel in Paris. “ Dr. Doyle,” he cried, gazing 
at me fixedly, “ I perceive from your appearance that you 
have been recently at Constantinople. I have reason to think 
also that you have been at Buda, and I perceive some indica¬ 
tion that you were not far from Milan.” “ Wonderful. Five 
francs for the secret of how you did it ? ” “I looked at the 
labels pasted on your trunk,” said the astute cabby. 

Another perennial is of the woman who is said to have con¬ 
sulted Sherlock. “ I am greatly puzzled, sir. In one week 
I have lost a motor horn, a brush, a box of golf balls, a dic¬ 
tionary and a bootjack. Can you explain it?” “Nothing 


104 Memories and Adventures 

simpler, madame,” said Sherlock.' “ It is clear that your 
neighbour keeps a goat.” 

There was a third about how Sherlock entered heaven, and 
by virtue of his power of observation at once greeted Adam 
but the point is perhaps too anatomical for further discussion. 

I suppose that every author receives a good many curious 
letters. Certainly I have done so. Quite a number of these 
have been from Russia. When they have been in the vernacu¬ 
lar I have been compelled to take them as read, hut when they 
have been in English they have been among the most curious 
in my collection. 

There was one young lady who began all her epistles 'with 
the words “ Good Lord.” Another had a large amount of 
guile underlying her simplicity. Writing from Warsaw, she 
stated that she had been bedridden for two years, and that my 
novels had been her only, etc., etc. So touched was I by this 
flattering statement that I at once prepared an autographed 
parcel of them to complete the fair invalid’s collection. By 
good luck, however, I met a brother author on the same day 
to whom I recounted the touching incident. With a cynical 
smile, he drew an identical letter from his pocket. His novels 
had also been for two years her only, etc., etc. I do not know 
how many more the lady had written to; but if, as I imagine, 
her correspondence had extended to several countries, she must 
have amassed a rather interesting library. 

The young Russian’s habit of addressing me as “ Good 
Lord ” had an even stranger parallel at home which links it 
up with the subject of this article. Shortly after I received 
a kilighthood, I had a bill from a tradesman which was quite 
correct and businesslike in every detail save that it was made 
out to Sir Sherlock Holmes. I hope that I can stand a joke 
as well as my neighbours, but this particular piece of humour 
seemed rather misapplied and I wrote sharply upon the sub¬ 
ject. 

In response to my letter there arrived ^t my hotel a very 
repentant clerk, who expressed his sorrow at the incident, but 
kept on repeating the phrase, “ I assure you, sir, that it was 
bona fide.” 

“ What do you mean by bona fide ? ” I asked. 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 105 

“ Well, sir,” be replied, “ my mates in the shop told 
me that yon had been knighted, and that when a man was 
knighted he changed his name, and that you had taken that 
one.” 

I need not say that my annoyance vanished, and that I 
laughed as heartily as his pals were probably doing round the 
corner. 

A few of the problems which have come my way have been 
very similar to some which I had invented for the exhibition 
of the reasoning of Mr. Holmes. I might perhaps quote one 
in which that gentleman’s method of thought was copied with 
complete success. The case was as follows: A gentleman had 
disappeared. He had drawn a bank balance of £40 which 
was known to be on him. It was feared that he had been mur¬ 
dered for the sake of the money. He had last been heard of 
stopping at a large hotel in London, having come from the 
country that day. In the evening he went to a music-hall per¬ 
formance, came out of it about ten o’clock, returned to his 
hotel, changed his evening clothes, which were found in his 
room next day, and disappeared utterly. Ho one saw him 
leave the hotel, but a man occupying a neighbouring room de¬ 
clared that he had heard him moving during the night. A 
week had elapsed at the time that I was consulted, but the 
police had discovered nothing. Where was the man ? 

These were the whole of the facts as communicated to me 
by his relatives in the country. Endeavouring to see the mat¬ 
ter through the eyes of Mr. Holmes, I answered by return mail 
that he was evidently either in Glasgow or in Edinburgh. It 
proved later that he had, as a fact, gone to Edinburgh, though 
in the week that had passed he had moved to another part of 
Scotland. 

There I should leave the matter, for, as Dr. Watson has 
often shown, a solution explained is a mystery spoiled. At 
this stage the reader can lay down the book and show how 
simple it ail is by working out the problem for himself. He 
has all the data which were ever given to me. For the sake 
of those, however, who have no turn for such conundrums, 
I will try to indicate the links which make the chain. The 
one advantage which I possessed was that I was familiar with 


106 Memories and Adventures 

the routine of London hotels — though I fancy it differs little 
from that of hotels elsewhere. 

The first thing was to look at the facts and separate what 
was certain from what was conjecture. It was all certain 
except the statement of the person who heard the missing man 
in the night. How could he tell such a sound from any other 
sound in a large hotel? That point could be disregarded, if 
it traversed the general conclusions. 

The first clear deduction was that the man had meant to 
disappear. Why else should he draw all his money ? He had 
got out of the hotel during the night. But there is a night 
porter in all hotels, and it is impossible to get out without his 
knowledge when the door is once shut. The door is shut after 
the theatre-goers return — say at twelve o’clock. Therefore, 
the man left the hotel before twelve o’clock. He had come 
from the music-hall at ten, had changed his clothes, and had 
departed with his hag. Ho one had seen him do so. The infer¬ 
ence is that he had done it at the moment when the hall was 
full of the returning guests, which is from eleven to eleven- 
thirty. After that hour, even if the door were still open, there 
are few people coming and going so that he with his bag would 
certainly have been seen. 

Having got so far upon firm ground, we now ask ourselves 
why a man who desires to hide himself should go out at such 
an hour. If he intended to conceal himself in London he need 
never have gone to the hotel at all. Clearly then he was going 
to catch a train which would carry him away. But a man who 
is deposited by a train in any provincial station during the 
night is likely to be noticed, and he might he sure that when 
the alarm was raised and his description given, some guard or 
porter would remember him. Therefore, his destination would 
he some large town which he would reach as a terminus where 
all his fellow passengers would disembark and where he would 
lose himself in the crowd. When one turns up the time-table 
and sees that the great Scotch expresses hound for Edinburgh 
and Glasgow start about midnight, the goal is reached. As 
for his dress-suit, the fact that he abandoned it proved that he 
intended to adopt a line of life where there were no social 
amenities. This deduction also proved to he correct. 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 107 

I quote such a case in order to show that the general lines 
of reasoning advocated by Holmes have a real practical applica¬ 
tion to life. In another case, where a girl had become engaged 
to a young foreigner who suddenly disappeared, I was able, by 
a similar process of deduction, to show her very clearly both 
whither he had gone and how unworthy he was of her affec¬ 
tions. 

On the other hand, these semi-scientific methods are occa¬ 
sionally laboured and slow as compared with the results of 
the rough-and-ready, practical man. Lest I should seem to 
have been throwing bouquets either to myself or to Mr. Holmes, 
let me state that on the occasion of a burglary of the village 
inn, within a stone-throw of my house, the village constable, 
with no theories at all, had seized the culprit while I had got 
no further than that he was a left-handed man with nails in his 
boots. 

The unusual or dramatic effects which lead to the invocation 
of Mr. Holmes in fiction are, of course, great aids to him in 
reaching a conclusion. It is the case where there is nothing to 
get hold of which is the deadly one. I heard of such a one 
in America which would certainly have presented a formi¬ 
dable problem. A gentleman of blameless life starting off for a 
Sunday evening walk with his family, suddenly observed that 
he had forgotten something. He went back into the house, the 
door of which was still open, and he left his people waiting 
for him outside. He never reappeared, and from that day to 
this there has been no clue as to what befell him. This was 
certainly one of the strangest cases of which I have ever heard 
in real life. 

Another very singular case came within my own observa¬ 
tion. It was sent to me by an eminent London publisher. 
This gentleman had in his employment a head of department 
whose name we shall take as Musgrave. He was a hard¬ 
working person, with no special feature in his character. Mr. 
Musgrave died, and several years after his death a letter was 
received addressed to him, in the care of his employers. It 
bore the postmark of a tourist resort in the west of Canada, 
and had the note “ Conflfilms ” upon the outside of the en¬ 
velope, with the words “ Report Sy ” in one corner. 


108 Memories and Adventures 

The publishers naturally opened the envelope as they had no 
note of the dead man’s relatives. Inside were two blank sheets 
of paper. The letter, I may add, was registered. The pub¬ 
lisher, being unable to make anything of this, sent it on to me, 
and I submitted the blank sheets to every possible chemical 
and heat test, with no result whatever. Beyond the fact that 
the writing appeared to be that of a woman there is nothing to 
add to this account. The matter was, and remains, an insolu¬ 
ble mystery. How the correspondent could have something 
so secret to say to Mr. Musgrave and yet not be aware that 
this person had been dead for several years is very hard to 
understand — or why blank sheets should be so carefully regis¬ 
tered through the mail. I may add that I did not trust the 
sheets to my own chemical tests, but had the best expert advice 
without getting any result. Considered as a case it was a 
failure — and a very tantalizing one. 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes has always been a fair mark for prac¬ 
tical jokers, and I have had numerous bogus cases of various 
degrees of ingenuity, marked cards, mysterious warnings, 
cypher messages, and other curious communications. It is 
astonishing the amount of trouble which some people will take 
with no object save a mystification. Upon one occasion, as I 
was entering the hall to take part in an amateur billiard com¬ 
petition, I was handed by the attendant a small packet which 
had been left for me. Upon opening it I found a piece of 
ordinary green chalk such as is used in billiards. I was 
amused by the incident, and I put the chalk into my waist¬ 
coat pocket and used it during the game. Afterward, I con¬ 
tinued to use it until one day, some months later, as I rubbed 
the tip of my cue the face of the chalk crumbled in, and I 
found it was hollow. Brom the recess thus exposed I drew out 
a small slip of paper with the words “ From Arsene Lupin to 
Sherlock Holmes.” 

Imagine the state of mind of the joker who took such trouble 
to accomplish such a result. 

One of the mysteries submitted to Mr. Holmes was rather 
upon the psychic plane and therefore beyond his powers. The 
facts as alleged are most remarkable, though I have no proof 
of their truth save that the lady wrote earnestly and gave both 


Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes 109 

her name and address. The person, whom we will call Mrs. 
Seagrave, had been given a curious secondhand ring, snake¬ 
shaped, and dull gold. This she took from her finger at night. 
One night she slept with it on and had a fearsome dream in 
which she seemed to he pushing off some furious creature which 
fastened its teeth into her arm. On awakening, the pain in 
the arm continued, and next day the imprint of a double set 
of teeth appeared upon the arm, with one tooth of the lower 
jaw missing. The marks were in the shape of blue-black 
bruises which had not broken the skin. 



“ I do not know,” says my correspondent, “ what made me 
think the ring had anything to do with the matter, but I took 
a dislike to the thing and did not wear it for some months, 
when, being on a visit, I took to wearing it again.” To make 
a long story short, the same thing happened, and the lady set¬ 
tled the matter forever by dropping her ring into the hottest 
corner of the kitchen range. This curious story, which I be¬ 
lieve to be genuine, may not be as supernatural as it seems. 
It is well known that in some subjects a strong mental impres¬ 
sion does produce a physical effect. Thus a very vivid night¬ 
mare dream with the impression of a bite might conceivably 
produce the mark of a bite. Such cases are well attested in 
medical annals. The second incident would, of course, arise by 
unconscious suggestion from the first. Hone the less, it is a 
very interesting little problem, whether psychic or material. 







110 


Memories and Adventures 


Buried treasures are naturally among the problems which 
have come to Mr. Holmes. One genuine case was accom¬ 
panied by a diagram here reproduced. It refers to an India- 
man which was wrecked upon the South African coast in the 
year 1782. If I were a younger man, I should be seriously 
inclined to go personally and look into the matter. 

The ship contained a remarkable treasure, including, I be¬ 
lieve, the old crown regalia of Delhi. It is surmised that they 
buried these near the coast, and that this chart is a note of the 
spot. Each Indiaman in those days had its own semaphore 
code, and it is conjectured that the three marks upon the left 
are signals from a three-armed semaphore. Some record of 
their meaning might perhaps even now be found in the old 
papers of the India Office. The circle upon the right gives 
the compass hearings. The larger semi-circle may he the 
curved edge of a reef or of a rock. The figures above are the 
indications how to reach the X which marks the treasure. 
Possibly they may give the bearings as 186 feet from the 4 
upon the semi-circle. The scene of the wreck is a lonely part 
of the country, but I shall be surprised if sooner or later, some 
one does not seriously set to work to solve the mystery — indeed 
at the present moment there is a small company working to 
that end. 

I must now apologise for this digressive chapter and return 
to the orderly sequence of my career. 


CHAPTER XII 


1TOEWOOD AND SWITZEKEAND 

Psychic Research Society — Psychic Leanings — Literary Circles in Lon¬ 
don— Young Writers — Henry Irving — A Great Blow—Davos — 
“Brigadier Gerard ”— Major Pond-—American Lecturing in 1894 — 
First Lecture — Anti-British Wave — Answer to Prayer. 

HR HE chief event of our Norwood life was the birth of my 
-®- son Kingsley, who lived to play a man’s part in the Great 
War, and who died shortly after its conclusion. My own life 
was so busy that I had little time for religious development, 
but my thoughts still ran much upon psychic matters, and it 
was at this time that I joined the Psychical Research Society, 
of which I am now one of the senior members. I had few 
psychic experiences myself, and my material philosophy, as 
expressed in the “ Stark Munro Letters,” which were written 
just at the end of the Norwood period, was so strong that it 
did not easily crumble. Yet as year by year I read the wonder¬ 
ful literature of psychic science and experience, I became more 
and more impressed by the strength of the Spiritualist posi¬ 
tion and by the levity and want of all dignity and accurate 
knowledge which characterized the attitude of their opponents. 
The religious side of the matter had not yet struck me, but 
I felt more and more that the case for the phenomena vouched 
for by such men as Sir William Crookes, Barrett, Russel 
Wallace, Victor Hugo and Zollner was so strong that I could 
see no answer to their exact record of observations. “ It 
is incredible but it is true,” said Crookes, and the aphorism 
seemed to exactly express my dawning convictions. I had. a 
weekly impulse from the psychic paper, “ Light,” which has, 
I maintain, during its long career and up to the present day, 
presented as much brain to the square inch as any journal 
published in Great Britain. 

My pleasant recollection of those days from 1880 to 1893 
lay in my first introduction, as a more or less rising author, to 


112 Memories and Adventures 

the literary life of London. It is extraordinary to remember 
that at that time there was a general jeremiad in the London 
press about the extinction of English literature, and the as¬ 
sumed fact that there were no rising authors to take the place 
of those who were gone. The real fact is that there was a 
most amazing crop, all coming up simultaneously, presenting 
perhaps no Dickens or Thackeray, but none the less so numer¬ 
ous and many sided and with so high an average of achieve¬ 
ment that I think they would match for varied excellence any 
similar harvest in our literary history. It was during the years 
roughly from 1888 to 1893 that Rudyard Kipling, James 
Stephen Phillips, Watson, Grant Allen, Wells, Barrie, Bernard 
Shaw, H. A. Jones, Pinero, Marie Corelli, Stanley Weyman, 
Anthony Hope, Hall Caine, and a whole list of others were 
winning their spurs. Many of these I met in the full flush 
of their youth and their powers. Of some of them I will 
speak more fully later. As to the old school they were cer¬ 
tainly somewhat of a declension, and the newcomers found no 
very serious opposition in gaining a hearing. Wilkie Collins, 
Trollope, George Eliot and Charles Reade had passed. I have 
always been a very great admirer of the last, who was really a 
great innovator as well as a most dramatic writer, for it was 
he who first introduced realism and founded his stories upon 
carefully arranged documents. He was the literary father of 
Zola. George Eliot has never appealed to me much, for I like 
my effects in a less leisurely fashion; but Trollope also I con¬ 
sider to be a very original writer, though I fancy he traces his 
ancestry through Jane Austen. Ho writer is ever absolutely 
original. He always joins at some point onto that old tree of 
which he is a branch. 

Of the literary men whom I met at that time my most vivid 
recollections are of the group who centred round the new maga¬ 
zine, “ The Idler,” which had been started by Jerome K. 
Jerome, who had deservedly shot into fame with his splen¬ 
didly humorous “ Three Men in a Boat.” It has all the exu¬ 
berance and joy of life which youth brings with it, and even 
now if I have ever time to be at all sad, which is seldom enough, 
I can laugh away the shadows when I open that book. Jerome 
is a man who, like most humorists, has a. very serious side to 


Norwood and Switzerland 113 

his character, as all who have seen “ The Third Floor Back ” 
will acknowledge, but he was inclined to be hotheaded and in¬ 
tolerant in political matters, from pure earnestness of purpose, 
which alienated some of his friends. He was associated in the 
editorship of “ The Idler ” with Robert Barr, a volcanic Anglo- 
or rather Scot-American, with a violent manner, a wealth of 
strong adjectives, and one of the kindest of natures underneath 
it all. He was one of the best raconteurs I have ever known, 
and as a writer I have always felt that he did not quite come 
into his own. George Burgin, like some quaint gentle charac¬ 
ter from Dickens, was the sub-editor, and Barrie, Zangwill, 
and many other rising men were among the contributors who 
met periodically at dinner. I was not unfaithful to “ The 
Strand,” but there were some contributions which they did 
not need, and with these I established my connection with 
“ The Idler.” It was at this time and in this way that I met 
James Barrie, of whom I shall have more to say when I come 
to that chapter which treats of some eminent and interesting 
men whom I have known. 

Two isolated facts stand out in my memory during that 
time at Norwood. One was that there seemed to be an immi¬ 
nent danger of war with France and that I applied for the 
Mediterranean war-correspondentship of the “ Central News,” 
guessing that the chief centre of activity and interest would be 
in that quarter. I got the appointment and was all ready to 
start, but fortunately the crisis passed. The second was my 
first venture in the drama. I had written a short story called 
“ A Straggler of ’15,” which had seemed to me to be a moving 
picture of an old soldier and his ways. My own eyes were 
moist as I wrote it and that is the surest way to moisten those 
of others. I now turned this into a one-act play, and, greatly 
daring, I sent it to Henry Irving, of whose genius I had been 
a fervent admirer ever since those Edinburgh days when I 
had paid my sixpence for the gallery night after night to see 
him in “ Hamlet ” and “ The Lyons Mail.” To my great 
delight I had a pleasing note from Bram Stoker, the great 
man’s secretary, offering me £100 for the copyright. It was 
a good bargain for him, for it is not too much to say that Cor¬ 
poral Gregory Brewster became one of his stock parts and it 


> 

114 Memories and Adventures 

had the enormous advantage that’ the older he got the more 
naturally he played it. The house laughed and sobbed, exactly 
as I had done when I wrote it. Several critics went out of 
their way to explain that the merit lay entirely with the great 
actor and had nothing to do with the indifferent play, but as a 
matter of fact the last time I saw it acted it was by a real cor¬ 
poral from a military camp in the humble setting of a village 
hall and it had exactly the same effect upon the audience 
which Irving produced at the Lyceum. So perhaps there was 
something in writing after all, and certainly every stage effect 
was indicated in the manuscript. I would add that with his 
characteristic largeness in money matters Irving always sent 
me a guinea for each performance in spite of his purchase of 
the copyright. Henry Irving the son carried on the part and 
played it, in my opinion, better than the father. I can well 
remember the flush of pleasure on his face when I uttered the 
word “ better ” and how he seized my hand. I have no doubt 
it was trying for his great powers to be continually belittled by 
their measurement with those of his giant father, to whom he 
bore so remarkable a physical resemblance. His premature 
death was a great loss to the stage, as was that of his brother 
Lawrence, drowned with his wife in the great Canadian river 
of the same name as himself. 

I now come to the great misfortune which darkened and 
deflected our lives. I have said that my wife and I had taken 
a tour in Switzerland. I do not know whether she had over¬ 
taxed herself in this excursion, or whether we encountered 
microbes in some inn bedroom, but the fact remains that within 
a few weeks of our return she complained of pain in her side 
and cough. I had no suspicion of anything serious, but sent 
for the nearest good physician. To my surprise and alarm 
he told me when he descended from the bedroom that the lungs 
were very gravely affected, that there was every sign of rapid 
consumption and that he thought the case a most serious one 
with little hope, considering her record and family history, of 
a permanent cure. With two children, aged four and one, and 
a wife who was in such deadly danger, the situation was a 
difficult one. I confirmed the diagnosis by having Sir Douglas 
Powell down to see her, and I then set all my energy to work 


Norwood and Switzerland 115 

to save the situation. The home was abandoned, the newly 
bought furniture was sold, and we made for Davos in the High 
Alps where there seemed the best chance of killing this accursed 
microbe which was rapidly eating out her vitals. 

And we succeeded. When I think that the attack was one 
of what is called “ galloping consumption,” and that the doc¬ 
tors did not give more than a few months, and yet that we 
postponed the fatal issue from 1893 to 1906, I think it is proof 
that the successive measures were wise. The invalid’s life was 
happy too, for it was necessarily spent in glorious scenery. It 
was seldom marred by pain, and it was sustained by that opti¬ 
mism which is peculiar to the disease, and which came naturally 
to her quietly contented nature. 

As there were no particular social distractions at Davos, and 
as our life was bounded by the snow and fir which girt us in, 
I was able to devote myself to doing a good deal of work and 
also to taking up with some energy the winter sports for which 
the place is famous. Whilst there I began the Brigadier 
Gerard series of stories, founded largely upon that great book, 
“ The Memoirs of General Marbot.” This entailed a great 
deal of research into Napoleonic days, and my military detail 
was, I think, very accurate — so much so that I had a warm 
letter of appreciation from Archibald Forbes, the famous war 
correspondent, who was himself a great Napoleonic and mili¬ 
tary student. Before the end of the winter we were assured 
that the ravages of the disease had been checked. I dared not 
return to England, however, for fear of a relapse, so with the 
summer we moved on to Maloja, another health resort at the 
end of the Engadine valley, and there we endeavoured to hold 
all we had won — which, with occasional relapses, we suc¬ 
ceeded in doing. 

My sister Lottie, free at last from the work which she had 
so bravely done, had now joined us. Connie, the younger 
sister, had come back from Portugal earlier, and had joined us 
at Norwood, where she had met and eventually married E. W. 
Hornung the novelist. Of Hornung I will speak later. In the 
meantime Lottie’s presence and the improvement of the invalid, 
which was so marked that no sudden crisis was thought at all 
possible, gave me renewed liberty of action. Before the catas- 


116 Memories and Adventures 

trophe occurred I had given some lectures on literature at 
home, and the work with its movement and hustle was not dis¬ 
tasteful to me. Now I was strongly pressed to go to America 
on the same errand, and in the late autumn of 1894 I set out 
on this new adventure. 

My brother Innes, he who had shared my first days in 
Southsea, had since passed through Richmond Public School, 
and afterwards the Woolwich Academy, so that he was now 
just emerging as a subaltern. As I needed some companion, 
and as I thought that the change would do him good, I asked 
him to come with me to the States. We crossed on the ill- 
fated German liner Elbe, which a very short time afterwards 
was sunk in collision with a collier in the Uorth Sea. Already 
I observed evidence of that irrational hatred of the British 
which in the course of twenty years was to lead to so terrific 
a result involving the destruction of the German Empire. I 
remember that on some fete day on board, the saloon was 
thickly decorated with German and American flags without 
one single British one, though a fair proportion of the passen¬ 
gers were British. Innes and I then and there drew a Union 
Jack and stuck it up aloft, where its isolation drew attention 
to our grievance. 

Major Pond was my impresario in America, and a quaint 
character he was. He seemed the very personification of his 
country, huge, loose limbed, straggling, with a goat’s beard 
and a nasal voice. He had fought in the Civil War and been 
mixed up with every historical American event of his lifetime. 

He was a good, kind fellow and we formed a friendship 
which was never broken. He met us in the docks, and carried 
us off to a little hotel beside the Aldine Club, a small literary 
club, in which we had our meals. 

I have treated America and my impression of that amazing 
and perplexing country in later pages of these memoirs, when 
I visited it under more detached conditions. At present it was 
all hard work with little time for general observations. Pond 
had fixed me rip a pretty hard schedule, but on the other hand 
I had bargained to get back to Davos in time to spend Christ¬ 
mas with my wife, so that there was a limit to my servitude. 
My first reading was given in a fashionable Baptist Church, 


Norwood and Switzerland 


117 


which was the usual launching slip for Pond’s new lecturers. 
We had walked from the retiring room and were just coming 
in sight of the audience when I felt something tickle my ear. 
I put up my hand and found that my collar was undone, my 
tie had fallen off, and my stud, the first cause of all the trouble, 
had disappeared. Standing there, on the edge of the platform, 
Pond dragged out his own stud. I replaced everything, and 
sailed on quite as I should he, while Pond retired to refit. It 
is strange, and possibly more than coincidence, how often one 
is prevented at the last moment from making some foolish 
appearance in public. 

The readings went very well and the audience was generous 
in applause. I have my own theory of reading, which is that 
it should he entirely disassociated from acting and should he 
made as natural and also as audible as possible. Such a pre¬ 
sentment is, I am sure, the less tiring for an audience. Indeed 
I read to them exactly as in my boyhood I used to read to my 
mother. I gave extracts from recent British authors, includ¬ 
ing some work of my own, and as I mixed up the grave and the 
gay I was able to keep them mildly entertained for an hour. 
Some papers maintained that I could not read at all, hut I 
think that what they really meant was that I did not act at all. 
Others seemed to endorse my method. Anyhow I had an 
excellent first reception and Pond told me that he lay smiling 
all night after it. He had no difficulty afterwards in hooking 
as many engagements as he could fit into the time. I visited 
every town of any size between Boston in the north and Wash¬ 
ington in the south, while Chicago and Milwaukee marked my 
western limit. 

Sometimes I found that it took me all my time to fit in the 
engagements, however fast I might travel. Once, for example, 
I lectured at Daly’s Theatre in Hew York at a matinee, at 
Princeton College the same evening, some 50 miles away, and 
at Philadelphia next afternoon. It was no wonder that I got 
very tired — the more so as the exuberant hospitality in those 
pre-prohibition days was enough in itself to take the energies 
out of the visitor. It was all done in kindness, hut it was dan¬ 
gerous for a man who had his work to do. I had one little 
break when I paid a pleasant visit to Rudyard Kipling, of 


118 


Memories 'and Adventures 


which I shall speak later. Bar .those few days I was going 
hard all the time, and it is no wonder that I was so tired out 
that I kept to my bunk most of the way from New York to 
Liverpool. 

My memories are the confused ones of a weary man. I re¬ 
call one amusing incident when as I bustled on to the stage 
at Daly’s Theatre I tripped over the wooden sill of the stage 
door, with the result that I came cantering down the sloping 
stage towards the audience, shedding books and papers on my 
way. There was much laughter and a general desire for an 
encore. 

Our visit was marred by one of those waves of anti-British 
feeling which sweep occasionally over the States, and which 
emanate from their own early history, every grievance being 
exaggerated and inflamed by the constant hostility of Irish 
pressmen and politicians. It all seems very absurd and con¬ 
temptible to the travelling Briton, because he is aware how 
entirely one-sided it is, and how welcome, for example, is the 
American flag in every British public display. This was not 
known by the home-staying American, and probably he imag¬ 
ined that his own country was treated as rudely by us as ours 
by his. The Dunraven yacht race had given additional acerbity 
to this chronic ill-feeling, and it was very active at the.time of 
our visit. I remember that a banquet was given to us at a 
club at Detroit at which the wine flowed freely, and which 
ended by a speech by one of our hosts in which he bitterly at¬ 
tacked the British Empire. My brother and I, with one or 
two Canadians who were present, were naturally much af¬ 
fronted, but we made every allowance for the lateness of the 
evening. I asked leave, however, to reply to the speech, and 
some of those who were present have assured me that they 
have never forgotten what I said. In the course of my re¬ 
marks I said: “You Americans have lived up to now within 
your own palings, and know nothing of the real world outside. 
But now your land is filled up, and you will be compelled to 
mix more with the other nations. When you do so you will 
find that there is only one which can at all understand your 
ways and your aspirations, or will have the least sympathy. 
That is the mother country which you are now so fond of in- 


Norwood and Switzerland 


119 


suiting. She is an Empire, and you will soon he an Empire 
also, and only then will you understand each other, and you 
will realize that you have only one real friend in the world.” 
It was only two or three years later that there came the Cuban 
war, the episode of Manila Bay where the British Commander 
joined up with the Americans against the Germans, and sev¬ 
eral other incidents which proved the truth of my remarks. 

A writer of average income is bound to lose pecuni¬ 
arily upon a lecture tour, even in America, unless he pro¬ 
longs it very much and works very hard indeed. By losing 
I do not mean that he is actually out of pocket, but that he 
could have earned far more if he had never gone outside his 
own study. In my own case I found after our joint expenses 
were paid that there was about £1,000 over. The disposal of 
this money furnished a curious example of the power of prayer, 
which, as Mr. S. S. McClure has already narrated it, I have no 
delicacy in telling. He tells how he was endeavouring to run 
his magazine, how he was down to his last farthing, how he 
dropped on his knees on the office floor to pray for help, and 
how on the same day an Englishman who was a mere acquaint¬ 
ance walked into the office, and said: “ McClure, I believe in 
you and in the future of your magazine,” and put down £1,000 
on the table. A critic might perhaps observe that under such 
circumstances to sell 1,000 shares at face value was rather 
hard upon the ignorant and trusting buyer. Eor a long time 
I could clearly see the workings of Providence as directed 
towards Sam McClure, hut could not quite get their perspective 
as regards myself, but I am bound to admit that in the long 
run, after many vicissitudes, the deal was justified both ways, 
and I was finally able to sell my holding twenty years later 
at a reasonable advance. The immediate result, however, was 
that I returned to Davos with all my American earnings locked 
up, and with no actual visible result of my venture. 

The Davos season was in full blast when I returned, and 
my wife was holding her own well. It was at this time, in 
the early months of 1895, that I developed ski-running in 
Switzerland as described in my chapter on Sport. We lingered 
late at Davos, so late that I was able to lay out a golf course, 
which was hampered in its start by the curious trick the cows 


120 


Memories and Adventures 


had of chewing up the red flags. From Davos we finally 
moved to Caux, over the lake of Geneva, where for some months 
I worked steadily at my writing. With the autumn I visited 
England, leaving the ladies at Caux, and it was then that 
events occurred which turned our road of life to a new angle. 


CHAPTER XIII 


EGYPT IN 1896 

Life in Egypt — Accident — The Men who made Egypt — Up the Nile — 
The Salt Lakes — Adventure in the Desert — The Coptic Monastery 
— Colonel Lewis — A Surprise. 

T HE wretched microbe which had so completely disorgan¬ 
ized our lives, and which had produced all the sufferings 
so patiently borne, now seemed to be latent, and it was hoped 
that if we spent a winter in Egypt the cure might be com¬ 
plete. During this short visit to England, whither I had to 
rush every now and again in order to adjust my affairs, I met 
Grant Allen at luncheon, and he told me that he had also 
suffered from consumption and that he had found his salva¬ 
tion in the soil and air of Hindhead in Surrey. It was quite 
a new idea to me that we might actually live with impunity in 
England once more, and it was a pleasant thought after resign¬ 
ing oneself to a life which was unnatural to both of us at for¬ 
eign health resorts. I acted very promptly, for I rushed down 
to Hindhead, bought an admirable plot of ground, put the 
architectural work into the hands of my old friend and fellow 
psychic researcher, Mr. Ball of Southsea, and saw the builder 
chosen and everything in train before leaving England in the 
autumn of 1895. If Egypt was a success, we should have a 
roof of our own to which to return. The thought of it brought 
renewed hope to the sufferer. 

I then set forth, picked up my wife and my sister Lottie 
at Caux and took them on by easy stages through Italy, stop¬ 
ping a few days at Rome, and so to Brindisi, where we picked 
up a boat for Egypt. Once at Cairo we took up our quarters 
at the Mena Hotel, in the very shadow of the Pyramids, and 
there we settled down for the winter. I was still doing the 
Brigadier Gerard stories at the time, which required a good 
deal of historical research, but I had brought my materials with 
me, and all I lacked was the energy, which I found it most 
difficult to find in that enervating land. 


122 


Memories and Adventures 


On the whole it w r as a pleasant -winter and led up to a most 
unforeseen climax. I ascended the Great Pyramid once, and 
was certainly never tempted to do so again, and was content 
to watch the struggles of the endless drove of tourists who 
attempted that uncomfortable and useless feat. There was 
golf of sorts and there was riding. I was still an immature 
horseman, but I felt that only practice would help me, so I set 
forth upon weird steeds provided by the livery stables oppo¬ 
site. As a rule they erred on the side of dulness, hut I have 
a very vivid recollection of one which restored the average. 
If my right eyelid droops somewhat over my eye it is not the 
result of philosophic brooding, but it is the doing of a black 
devil of a horse with a varminty head, slab-sided ribs and 
restless ears. I disliked the look of the beast, and the moment 
I threw my leg over him he dashed off as if it were a race. 
Away we went across the desert, I with one foot in the stirrup, 
holding on as best I might. It is possible I could have kept 
on until he was weary, but he came suddenly on cultivated 
land and his forelegs sank in a moment over his fetlocks. The 
sudden stop threw me over his head, hut I held on to the 
bridle, and he, pawing about with his front hoofs, struck me 
over the eye, and made a deep star-shaped wound which cov¬ 
ered me with blood. I led him hack and a pretty sight I pre¬ 
sented as I appeared before the crowded verandah! Five 
stitches were needed, hut I was thankful, for very easily I 
might have lost my sight. 

My wife was well enough now to join in society, while my 
sister was just at an age to enjoy it, so that we saw a little of 
the very jovial life of Cairo, though the fact that Mena is some 
seven miles out, on the most monotonous road in the world, 
saved us from any excess. It was always a task to get in and 
out, so that only a great temptation would draw us. I joined 
in male society, however, a good deal and learned to know 
many of those great men who were shaping the new destinies 
of Egypt. I sketched some of them at the time in two para¬ 
graphs which may he quoted. 

“ There is a broad and comfortable sofa in the hall of the 
Turf Club, and if you sit there about luncheon time you will 
see a fair sprinkling of Anglo-Egyptians, men who have helped 


Egypt in 1896 123 

to make, and are still helping to make, the history of our times. 
You have a view of the street from where you are, and per¬ 
haps in the brilliant sunshine a carriage flies past with two 
running syces before it and an English coachman upon the 
box. Within, one catches a glimpse of a strong florid face 
with a close-cropped soldierly grey moustache, the expression 
good-humoured and inscrutable. This is Lord Cromer, whom 
Egypt has changed from a major of gunners to a peer of the 
realm, while he in turn has changed it from a province of the 
East to one of the West. One has hut to look at him to read 
the secret of his success as a diplomatist. His clear head, his 
brave heart, his physical health, and his nerves of iron are all 
impressed upon you even in that momentary glance at his car¬ 
riage. And that lounging ennuye attitude is characteristic also 
— most characteristic at this moment, when few men in the 
world can have more pressing responsibility upon their shoul¬ 
ders. It is what one could expect from the man who at the 
most critical moment of recent Egyptian history is commonly 
reported to have brought diplomatic interviews to an abrupt 
conclusion with the explanation that the time had come for 
his daily lawn-tennis engagement. It is no wonder that so 
strong a representative should win the confidence of his own 
countrymen, but he has made as deep an impression upon the 
native mind, which finds it difficult under this veiled Protec¬ 
torate of ours to estimate the comparative strength of individ¬ 
uals. 1 Suppose Khedive tell Lord Cromer go, Lord Cromer 
go ? ’ asked my donkey-boy, and so put his chocolate finger 
upon the central point of the whole situation. 

“ But this is a digression from the Turf Club, where you 
are seated upon a settee in the hall and watching the English¬ 
men who have done so much to regenerate Egypt. Of all the 
singular experiences of this most venerable land, surely this 
rebuilding at the hands of a little group of bustling, clear¬ 
headed Anglo-Saxons is the most extraordinary. There are 
Garstin and Wilcocks, the great water captains who have coaxed 
the Kile to right and to left, until the time seems to be coming 
when none of its waters will ever reach the Mediterranean at 
all. There is Kitchener, tall and straight, a grim silent sol¬ 
dier, with a weal of a Dervish bullet upon his face. There 


124 Memories £nd Adventures 

you may see Rogers, who stamped out the cholera, Scott, who 
reformed the law, Palmer, who relieved the over-taxed fella¬ 
heen, Hooker, who exterminated the locusts, Wingate, who 
knows more than any European of the currents of feeling in 
the Soudan — the same Wingate who reached his arm out a 
thousand miles and plucked Slatin out of Khartoum. And 
beside him the small man with the yellow-brown moustache 
and the cheery, ruddy face is Slatin himself, whose one wish 
in the world now is to have the Khalifa at his sword-point — 
that Khalifa at whose heels he had to run for so many weary 
years.” 

Shortly after the opening of the Hew Year of 1896 we 
went in one of Cook’s boats up the river, getting as far as 
the outposts of civilization at Wady Haifa. The banks in 
the upper reaches were not too safe, as raiders on camels came 
down at times, but on the water one was secure from all the 
chances of Fate. At the same time I thought that the man¬ 
agers of these tours took undue risks, and when I found myself 
on one occasion on the rock of Abousir with a drove of help¬ 
less tourists, male and female, nothing whatever between us 
and the tribesmen, and a river between us and the nearest 
troops, I could not but think what an appalling situation would 
arise if a little troop of these far-riding camel men were to 
appear. We had four negro soldiers as an escort, who would 
be helpless before any normal raiding party. It was the strong 
impression which I there received which gave me the idea of 
taking a group of people of different types and working out 
what the effect of so horrible an experience would be upon 
each. This became “ The Tragedy of the Korosko,” published 
in America as “ A Desert Drama ” and afterwards dramatized 
with variations as “ The Fires of Fate.” All went well as a 
matter of fact, but I thought then, and experienced British 
officers agreed with me, that it was unjustifiable. As the whole 
frontier force was longing for an excuse to advance, I am not 
sure that they would not have welcomed it if the Dervishes had 
risen to the ground bait which every week in the same place 
was laid in front of them. 

I do not know how many temples we explored during that 
tour, but they seemed to me endless, some dating back to the 


Egypt in 1896 125 

mists of antiquity and some as recent as Cleopatra and the 
Roman period. The majestic continuity of Egyptian History 
seems to he its most remarkable feature. You examine the 
tombs of the First Dynasty at Abydos and there you see carved 
deep in the stone the sacred hawk, the goose, the plover, the 
signs of Horus and Osiris, of Upper and Lower Egypt. These 
were carved long before the Pyramids were built and can 
hardly be less ancient than 4000 b.c. Then you inspect a 
temple built by the Ptolemies, after the date of Alexander 
the Great, and there you see the same old symbols cut in the 
same old way. There is nothing like this in the world. The 
Roman and the British Empires are mushrooms in comparison. 
Judged by Egyptian standards the days of Alfred the Great 
would be next door to our own, and our customs, symbols and 
way of thinking the same. The race seems to have petrified, 
and how they could do so without being destroyed by some 
more virile nation is hard to understand. 

Their arts seem to have been high but their reasoning power 
in many ways contemptible. The recent discovery of the 
King’s tomb near Thebes — I write in 1924 — shows how 
wonderful were their decorations and the amenities of their 
lives. But consider the tomb itself. What a degraded intelli¬ 
gence does it not show! The idea that the body, the old out¬ 
worn greatcoat which was once wrapped round the soul, should 
at any cost be preserved is the last word in materialism. And 
the hundred baskets of provisions to feed the soul upon its 
journey! I can never believe that a people with such ideas 
could be other than emasculated in their minds — the fate of 
every nation which comes under the rule of a priesthood. 

It had been suggested that I should go out to the Salt Lakes 
in the Desert some 50 miles from Cairo, and see the old Coptic 
Monastery there. Those ancient monasteries, the abode alter¬ 
nately of saints and perverts — we saw specimens of each — 
have always aroused my keen interest, dating as they do to 
very early days of Christianity. Indeed, their date is often 
unknown, but everything betokens great age and the spirit 
which founded them seems to have been that of the hermits 
who in the third and fourth centuries swarmed in these wilder¬ 


nesses. 


126 Memories and Adventures 

Leaving my wife at Mena, I went with Colonel Lewis of 
the Egyptian army, an excellent companion and guide. On 
arriving at a wayside station, we found a most amazing vehicle 
awaiting us, a sort of circus coach, all gilding and frippery. 
It proved to he the coach of State which had been prepared 
for Napoleon III on the chance that he would come to open 
the Suez Canal. It was surely a good hit of work, for here it 
was still strong and fit, but absurdly out of place in the majes¬ 
tic simplicity of the Libyan Desert. 

Into this we got and set forth, the only guide being wheel- 
marks across the sand which in some of the harder places were 
almost invisible. The great sand waste rolled in yellow bil¬ 
lows all around us, and far behind us the line of green trees 
marked the course of the Nile. Once a black dot appeared 
which, as it grew nearer, proved to he some sort of Oriental on 
foot. As he came up to us he opened a blackened mouth>, 
pointed to it, and cried, “ Moya! Moya! ” which means water. 
We had none and could only point encouragingly to the green 
belt behind us, on which with a curse he staggered upon his 
way. 

A surprising adventure befell us, for the heavens suddenly 
clouded over and rain began to fall, an almost unknown thing 
in those parts. We lumbered on, however, with our two horses, 
while Colonel Lewis, who was keen on getting fit, ran behind. 
I remember saying to him that in my wildest dreams I never 
thought that I should drive across the Libyan Desert in an 
Emperor’s coach with a full colonel as carriage dog. Presently 
in the fading light the horses slowed down, the Nubian driver 
descended, and began alternately scanning the ground and mak¬ 
ing gestures of despair. We realized then that he had lost the 
tracks and therefore that we had no notion where we were, 
though we had strong reasons to believe that we were to the 
south of the route. The difficulty was to know which was 
north and which south. It was an awkward business since we 
had no food or water and could see no end to our troubles. The 
further we moved the deeper we should be involved. Night 
had closed in, and I was looking up at the drifting scud above 
us when in the chink of two clouds I saw for an instant a clus¬ 
ter of stars, and made sure that they were the four wheels of 


Egypt in 1896 127 

Charles’s Wain. I am no astronomer, hut I reasoned that this 
constellation would lie to the north of us, and so it proved, for 
when we headed that way, examining the ground every hun¬ 
dred yards or so with matches, we came across the track once 
more. 

Our adventures, however, were not over, and it was all like 
a queer dream. We had great difficulty in keeping the track 
in the darkness, and the absurd coach lumbered and creaked 
while we walked with lanterns ahead of it. Suddenly to our 
joy we saw a bright light in the gloom. We quickened our 
pace, and came presently to a tent with a florid-bearded man 
seated outside it beside a little table where he was drawing by 
the light of a lamp. The rain had cleared now, but the sky 
was still overcast. In answer to our hail this man rather 
gruffly told us that he was a German surveyor at work in the 
desert. He motioned with his hand when we told him whither 
we were bound, and said it was close by. After leaving him 
we wandered on, and losing the tracks we were again very 
badly bushed. It seemed an hour or two before to our joy 
we saw a light ahead and prepared for a night’s rest at the 
halfway house, which was our immediate destination. But 
when we reached the light what we saw was a florid bearded 
man sitting outside a small tent with a lamp upon a table. We 
had moved in a circle. Fresh explanations — and this time 
we really did keep to the track and reached a big deserted 
wooden hut, where we put up the horses, ate some cold food, 
and tumbled, very tired, into two of the bunks which lined it. 

The morrow made amends for all. It broke cold and clear 
and I have seldom felt a greater sense of exhilaration than 
when I awoke and walking out before dressing saw the whole 
endless desert stretching away on every side of me, yellow 
sand and black rock, to the blue shimmering horizon. We 
harnessed up and within a few hours came on the Natron 
Lake, a great salt lake, with a few scattered houses at one end 
where the workers dry out and prepare the salt. A couple of 
miles off was the lonely monastery which we had come to see — 
less lonely now, but before the salt works were established one 
of the most inaccessible places one could imagine. It con¬ 
sisted of a huge outer wall, which seemed to be made of hard- 


128 


Memories and Adventures 


ened clay. It had no doors or windows save one little opening 
which could he easily defended against the prowling Arabs, 
hut I fear the garrison would not he very stout-hearted, for it 
was said to he the fear of military service which caused many 
of the monks to discover that they had a vocation. On being 
admitted I was conscious that we were not too welcome, though 
the military title of my companion commanded respect. We 
were shown round the inner courtyard, where there were palm 
trees and a garden, and then round the scattered houses within 
the wall. Hear the latter there was, I remember, a barrel 
full of some substance which seemed to me, both by look and 
feel, to be rounded pieces of some light stone, and I asked if it 
were to hurl down at the Arabs if they attacked the door. It 
proved to be the store of bread for the Monastery. We were 
treated to wine, which was sweet tent wine, which is still used, 
I believe, in the Holy Communion, showing how straight our 
customs come from the East. The Abbot seemed to me to be 
a decent man, but he complained of illness and was gratified 
when I overhauled him thoroughly, percussed his chest, and 
promised to send him out some medicine from Cairo. I did 
so, but whether it ever reached my remote patient I never 
learned. Some of the brothers, however, looked debauched, 
and there was a general air of nothing-to-do, which may have 
been deceptive but which certainly impressed me that day. 
As I looked from the walls and saw the desert on all sides, 
unbroken save for one blue corner of the salt lake, it was 
strange to consider that this was all which these men would 
ever see of the world, and to contrast their fate with my own 
busy and varied existence. There was a library, but tbe books 
were scattered on the floor, all of them old and some no doubt 
rare. Since the discovery of the “ Codex Sinaiticus ” I pre¬ 
sume that all these old Coptic libraries have been examined by 
scholars, but it certainly seemed to me that there might be 
some valuable stuff in that untidy heap. 

Hext evening Colonel Lewis and I were back in Cairo. We 
heard no news upon the way, and we had reached the Turf 
Club and were in the cloak room washing our hands before 
dinner when some man came in and said: 

“ Why, Lewis, how is it you are not with your brigade ? ” 


Egypt in 1896 


129 


“My brigade!” 

“ Have you been away ? ” 

“Yes, at the Hatron Lakes.” 

“ Good Heavens! Have you beard nothing ? ” 

“ Ho.” 

“ Why, man, war is declared. We are advancing on Don- 
gola. The whole army is concentrating on the frontier, and 
you are in command of an advanced brigade.” 

“ Good God! ” Lewis’s soap splashed into the water, and I 
wonder he did not fall plump on the floor. Thus it was that 
we learned of the next adventure which was opening up be¬ 
fore both us and the British Empire. * 


CHAPTER XIV 


i ON THE EDGE OF A STORM 

The Storm Centre — To the Frontier — Assouan — Excited Officers — With 
the Press Men — A Long Camel Ride — Night Marches — Haifa — 
Gwynne of the “Morning Post”—Anley — A Sudden Voyage — Apri¬ 
cots and Rousseau. 

I T is impossible to be near great historical events and not 
to desire to take part in them, or at the least to observe 
them. Egypt had suddenly become the storm centre of the 
world, and chance had placed me there at that moment. 
Clearly I could not remain in Cairo, but must get up by hook 
or by crook to the frontier. It was March and the weather 
would soon be too warm for my wife, but she was good enough 
to say that she would wait with my sister until April if I 
would promise to return by then. At that time the general 
idea was that some great event would at once occur, though 
looking back one can see that that was hardly possible. Any¬ 
how I had a great urge to go South. 

There was only one way to do it. The big morning papers 
had their men already upon the spot. But it was less likely 
that the evening papers were provided. I cabled to the “ West¬ 
minster Gazette ” asking to be made their honorary corre¬ 
spondent pro tem. I had a cable back assenting. Armed with 
this I approached the proper authority, and so within a day 
or two I was duly appointed and everything was in order. 

I had to make my own way up and I had to get together 
some sort of kit. The latter was done hurriedly and was of 
fearsome quality. I bought a huge revolver of Italian make 
with a hundred cartridges, an ugly unreliable weapon. I 
bought also a water bottle, which was made of new resinous 
wood and gave a most horrible flavour of turpentine to every¬ 
thing put into it. It was like drinking varnish, but before I 
got back there were times when I was ready to drink varnish 
or anything else that was damp. 


On the Edge of a Storm 131 

With a light khaki coat, riding breeches, a small valise, and 
the usual Christmas tree hung round me, I started off from 
Cairo by train to Assiout, where a small river boat was wait- 
ing. It was filled with officers going to the front, and we had 
a pleasant few days journeying to Assouan together. There 
were, I remember, several junior officers who have since made 
names in the world, Maxwell (now General Sir John Max¬ 
well) and Hickman, who also rose to the top. There was a 
young cavalry lieutenant also, one Smythe, who seemed to me 
to be too gentle and quiet for such rough work as lay ahead. 
The next time I heard of him was when he was gazetted for 
the \ ictoria Cross. In soldiering there is nothing more decep¬ 
tive than appearances. Your fierce, truculent man may al¬ 
ways have a yellow streak where the gentle student has a core 
of steel. There lay one of the many mistakes which the Ger¬ 
mans made later in judging those “ unwarlike islanders ” the 
British. 

The great question at the opening of the campaign was 
whether the native fellah troops would stand. The five negro 
battalions were as good as could be, but the record of the eight 
or nine Egyptian ones was not reassuring. The Arab of the 
Soudan is a desperate fanatic who rushes to death with the 
frenzy of a madman, and longs for close quarters where he 
can bury his spear in the body of his foeman, even though he 
carries several bullets in him before he reaches him. Would 
the Egyptians stand such onslaughts as these ? It was thought 
improbable that they would, and so British battalions, the Con- 
naughts, the Staffords and others, were brought up to stiffen 
their battle line. One great advantage the native soldiers had 
— and without it their case would have been hopeless ■— and 
that was that their officers were among the picked men of the 
British Army. Kitchener would have none but the unmarried, 
for it was to be a wholehearted and if need be a desperate 
service, and, as the pay and life were good, he could accept or 
reject as he chose, so that his leaders were splendid. It was 
curious to see their fair faces and flaxen moustaches under the 
red tarbooshes, as they marched at the side of their men. 

The relations between these officers and their men were 
paternal. If an officer of black troops came to Cairo he would 


132 Memories and Adventures 

go back with a pillow case stuffe’d with candies for bis men. 
The Egyptians were more inscrutable, less sporting and less 
lovable, but none the less their officers were very loyal to them, 
and bitterly resented the distrust shown by the rest of the 
army. One British officer at some early battle seized the 
enemy’s flag and cried: “ Well, the English shall not have this 
anyhow.” It is this spirit, whether in Egypt or in India, 
which makes the British officer an ideal leader of native troops. 
Even at the great Indian Mutiny they would not hear a word 
against their men until they were murdered by them. 

At Assouan we were held up for a week, and no one was 
allowed to go further. We were already well within the radius 
of the Arab raiders, for in the last year they had struck even 
further north. The desert is like the sea, for if you have the 
camels, which correspond to the ships, your blow may fall 
anywhere and your attack is not suspected until the moment 
that you appear. The crowd of British officers who were wait¬ 
ing seemed little worried by any such possibility and were as 
unconcerned as if it was a Cook’s tour and not a particularly 
dangerous expedition •— so dangerous that of the last army 
which went South, that of Hicks Pasha, hardly one single 
man was ever seen again. Only once did I see them really 
excited. I had returned to the hotel which was the general 
head-quarters, and as I entered the hall I saw a crowd of them 
all clustering round the notice board to read a telegram which 
had just been suspended. They were on the toes of their 
spurred boots, with their necks outstretched and every sign of 
quivering and eager interest. “ Ah,” thought I, “ at last we 
have got through the hide of these impenetrable men. I sup¬ 
pose the Khalifa is coming down, horse, foot, and artillery, 
and that we are on the eve of battle.” I pushed my way in, 
and thrust my head among all the bobbing sun-helmets. It 
was the account of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat-race. 

I was struck by the splendid zeal of every one. It was an 
inspiration. Hickman had been full of combative plans all the 
way on the boat. When we arrived there was a message for 
him to go down to Keneh and buy camels. Here was a drop 
down for a man all on fire for action. “ It is quite right,” 
said he, when I condoled with him. “ The force must have 


133 


On the Edge of a Storm 

camels. I am the man to buy them. We all work for one 
end.” Self-abnegation of this sort is general. The British 
officer at his best is really a splendid fellow, a large edition of 
the public schoolboy, with his cheery slang overlying a serious 
purpose which he would usually die rather than admit. I 
heard of three of them at rail-end, all doing essential work and 
all with a degree of fever on them which might well have ex¬ 
cused them from work altogether. Every evening each of them 
dropped a dollar into a hat, they then all took their tempera¬ 
tures and the highest got the pool. 

Assouan is at the foot of the Cataract, which extends for 
some 30 miles, and everything has to be transhipped and taken 
on a narrow toy railway to be reloaded on fresh steamers at 
Shellal. It was a huge task and I remember sympathizing 
with Captain Morgan, who with fatigue parties of Egyptians 
and chain gangs of convicts was pushing the stuff through. 
Morgan had sold me a horse once and was shy of me in conse¬ 
quence, but he soon saw that I bore no grudge. Caveat 
ernptor! I already saw in him those qualities of organization 
which made him a real factor both in the Boer and in the 
European war. He has just died a general and full of honours. 
I remember seeing the 7th Egyptians after a long gruelling 
desert march working at those stores until they were so played 
out that it took four of them to raise a sixty-pound biscuit box. 

The big pressmen had now arrived —“ Where the carcass 
is there shall the eagles, etc.”—and I had luckily made 
friends with them, so it was determined that we should all go 
on together. There were five of us who started out, led by 
Knight of the “Ealcon,” representing “The Times,” and 
looking not unlike a falcon himself. He was a great man, tall 
and muscular, a famous yachtsman and treasure-seeker, trav¬ 
eller, fighter and scholar. He had just left the Erench in 
Madagascar. Next came Scudamore of the “Daily Hews,” 
small, Celtic, mercurial, full of wit and go. He was a great 
purchaser of camels, which were of course all paid for by the 
paper, so that when Robinson, the editor of the “ Daily Hews,” 
heard of the Boer war his first comment was, “ Well, thank 
God, there are no camels in South Africa.” It was a study 
in Eastern ways to see Scudamore buying camels, and I learned 


134 Memories and Adventures 

from him how it is done. An Arab leads up the absurd-looking 
ereature. You look deprecatingly at the beast — and you 
cannot take a better model than the creature’s own expression 
as it looks at you. You ask how much is wanted for it. The 
owner says £16. You then give a shriek of derision, sweep 
your arm across as if to wave him and his camel out of your 
sight for ever, and turning with a whisk you set off rapidly 
in the other direction. How far you go depends upon the 
price asked. If it is really very high, you may not get back 
for your dinner. But as a rule a hundred yards or so meet 
the case, and you shape your course so as to reach the camel 
and its owner. You stop in front of them and look at them 
with a disinterested and surprised look to intimate that you 
wonder that they should still be loitering there. The Arab asks 
how much you will give. You answer £8. Then it is his turn 
to scream, whisk round, and do his hundred yards, his absurd 
chattel with its horn-pipey legs trotting along behind him. But 
he returns to say that he will take fourteen, and off you go 
again with a howl and a wave. So the bargaining goes on, 
the circles continually shortening, until you have settled upon 
the middle price. 

But it is only when you have bought your camel that the 
troubles begin. It is the strangest and most deceptive animal 
in the world. Its appearance is so staid and respectable that 
you cannot give it credit for the black villany that lurks 
within. It approaches you with a mildly interested and supe¬ 
rior expression, like a patrician lady in a Sunday school. You 
feel that a pair of glasses at the end of a fan is the one thing 
lacking. Then it puts its lips gently forward, with a far-away 
look in its eyes, and you have just time to say, “ The pretty 
dear is going to kiss me,” when two rows of frightful green 
teeth clash in front of you, and you give such a backward 
jump as you could never have hoped at your age to accomplish. 
When once the veil is dropped, anything more demoniacal 
than the face of a camel cannot be conceived. Ho kindness 
and no length of ownership seem to make them friendly. And 
yet you must make allowances for a creature which can carry 
600 lb. for 20 miles a day, and ask for no water and little food 
at the end of it. 


On the Edge of a Storm 135 

This, however, is digression. The other pressmen were Bea¬ 
man of the “ Standard,”.fresh from Constantinople, and almost 
an Eastern in his ways, and Julian Corbett, representing the 
“ Pall Mall,” a gentle and amiable man who was destined later 
to be the naval historian of the Great War. Like myself he 
was an amateur among professionals, and had to return within 
a given date to Cairo. 

As it was clear that nothing important could take place in¬ 
stantly, we determined to do part of the journey by road. A 
force of cavalry was going up, and we were ordered to join 
them and use them as an escort, but we thought we would be 
happier on our own, and so we managed to lose the Egyptians. 
There was some risk in our lonely journey along the right bank 
of the river with our left flank quite unprotected, but on the 
other hand the dust of a great body of horsemen would be in¬ 
sufferable. Therefore we set forth one evening, mounted upon 
our camels, with baggage camels in attendance, and quite a 
retinue of servants. In four or five days we reached Korosko, 
where we got boats which took us to the frontier at Wady 
Haifa, while the camels and servants came on by land. 

I shall never forget those days, or rather those nights, for we 
rose at two in the morning and our longest march was before 
or during the dawn. I am still haunted by that purple velvet 
sky, by those enormous and innumerable stars, by the half-moon 
which moved slowly above us, while our camels with their 
noiseless tread seemed to bear us without effort through a 
wonderful dream world. Scudamore had a beautiful rolling 
baritone voice, and I can still hear it in my memory as it rose 
and fell in the still desert air. It was a wonderful vision, an 
intermezzo in real life, broken only once by my performing the 
unusual feat of falling off a camel. I have taken many tosses 
off horses, but this was a new experience. You have no proper 
saddle, but are seated upon a curved leather tray, so that when 
my brute suddenly threw himself down on his fore-knees — 
he had seen some green stuff on the path — I shot head fore¬ 
most down his neck. It was like coming down a hose pipe in 
some acrobatic performance, and I reached the ground rather 
surprised but otherwise none the worse. 

One or two pictures rise in mind. One was of some strange 


136 


Memories and Adventures 


aquatic lizard — not a crocodile — lying on a sand bank. I 
cracked off my Italian revolver, which was more likely to hurt 
me than the lizard, and I saw the strange beast writhe into the 
stream. Once again, as I settled my couch at night, I saw a 
slug-like creature, with horned projections, the length about 
18 inches, which moved away and disappeared. It was a death 
adder — the sort perhaps which took Cleopatra to her fathers. 
Then again we went into a ruined hut to see if we could sleep 
there. In the dim light of our candle we saw a creature which 
I thought was a mouse rush round and round the floor, close 
to the wall. Then suddenly to my amazement it ran right up 
the wall and down again on to the floor. It was a huge spider, 
which now stood waving its fore-legs at us. To my horror 
Scudamore sprang into the air, and came down upon it, squash¬ 
ing it into a square foot of filth. This was the real tarantula, 
a dangerous creature, and common enough in such places. 

Yet another picture comes very clearly back to me. Tor 
some reason we had not started in the night, and the early 
dawn found us still resting in our small camp in a grove of 
palm trees near the path which led along the bank of the Nile. 
I awoke, and, lying in my blankets, I saw an amazing man 
riding along this path. He was a Negroid Nubian, a huge, 
fierce, hollow-cheeked creature, with many silver ornaments 
upon him. A long rifle projected over his back and a sword 
hung from his side. A more sinister barbaric figure one could 
not imagine, and he was exactly the type of those Mahdi raid¬ 
ers against whom we had been warned. I never like to be an 
alarmist, especially among men who had seen much of war or 
danger, so I said nothing, but I managed to stir one of my 
companions, who sighted the newcomer with a muttered “ My 
God! ” The man rode past us and on northwards, never glanc¬ 
ing at our grove. I have no doubt that he was really one of 
our own native tribesmen, for we had some in our pay; but 
had he been the other thing our fate would have been sealed. I 
wrote a short story, “ The Three Correspondents,” which was 
suggested by the incident. 

A strange wooden-faced Turkish soldier, Yussuf Bey, in the 
Egyptian service, commanding the troops at Korosko, had us 
up in audience, gave us long pink glasses of raspberry vinegar, 


137 


On the Edge of a Storm 

and finally saw ns on board the boat which in a day or two 
deposited ns on the busy river-bank of Wady Haifa, where the 
same military bustle prevailed as we had left behind us at 
Assouan. 

Haifa lies also at the base of a cataract, and again all the 
stuff had to be transhipped and sent on thirty miles by a little 
track to Sarras. I walked the first day to the small station 
where the track began and I saw a tall officer in a white jacket 
and red tarboosh, who with a single orderly was superintending 
the work and watching the stores pass into the trucks. He 
turned a fierce red face upon me and I saw that it was Kitch¬ 
ener himself, the Commander of the whole army. It was 
characteristic of the man that he did not leave such vital things 
to chance, or to the assurance of some subordinate, but that he 
made sure so far as he could with his own eyes that he really 
had the tools for the job that lay before him. Learning who 
I was — we had met once before on the racecourse at Cairo — 
he asked me to dinner in his tent that night, when he discussed 
the coming campaign with great frankness. I remember that 
his chief-of-staff — Drage, I think, was the name — sat beside 
me and was so completely played out that he fell asleep between 
every course. I remember also the amused smile with which 
Kitchener regarded him. You had to go all out when you * 
served such a master. 

One new acquaintance whom I made in those days was Her¬ 
bert Gwynne, a newly-fledged war correspondent, acting, if I 
remember right, for the “ Chronicle.” I saw that he had much 
in him. When I heard of him next he was Reuter’s man in the 
Boer War, and not very long afterwards he had become editor 
of the “ Morning Post,” where he now is. Those days in 
Haifa were the beginning of a friendship of thirty years, none 
the less real because we are both too busy to meet. One of the 
joys of the hereafter is, I think, that we have time to cultivate 
our friends. 

I was friendly also with a very small but gallant officer, one 
Anley, who had just joined the Egyptian Army. His career 
was beginning and I foresaw that he would rise, but should 
have been very surprised had I known how we should meet 
again. I was standing in the ranks by the roadside as a pri- 


138 Memories and Adventures 

vate of Volunteers in the Great War when a red-tabbed, brass- 
hatted general passed. He looked along our ranks, his gaze 
fastened on me, and lo, it was Anley. Surprised out of all 
military etiquette, he smiled and nodded. What is a private in 
the ranks to do when a general smiles and nods? He can’t 
formally stand to attention or salute. I fear that what I did 
was to close and then open my left eye. That was how I 
learned that my Egyptian captain was now a war brigadier. 

We pushed on to Sarras and had a glimpse of the actual out¬ 
post of civilization, all sandbags and barbed wire, for there 
was a Mahdi post at no distance up the river. It was wonder¬ 
ful to look south and to see distant peaks said to be in Dongola, 
with nothing but savagery and murder lying between. There 
was a whiff of real war in the little fortress but no sign of any 
actual advance. 

Indeed, I had the assurance of Kitchener himself that there 
was no use my waiting and that nothing could possibly happen 
until the camels were collected — many thousands of them. 
I contributed my own beast to the army’s need since I had no 
further use for it, and Corbett and I prepared to take our 
leave. We were warned that our only course was to be on the 
look out and take a flying jump on to any empty cargo boat 
which was going down stream. This we did one morning, 
carrying our scanty belongings. Once on board we learned 
that there was no food and that the boat did not stop for sev¬ 
eral days. The rope had not been cast off, so I rushed to the 
only shop available, a Greek store of a type which springs up 
like mushrooms on the track of an army. They were sold out- 
save for tinned apricots, of which I bought several tins. I 
rushed back and scrambled on board as the boat cast off. We 
managed to get some Arab bread from the boatmen, and that 
with the apricots served us all the way. I never wish to see a 
tinned apricot so long as I live. I associate their cloying 
sweetness with Rousseau’s “ Confessions,” a French edition 
of which came somehow into my hands and was my only read¬ 
ing till I saw Assouan once more. Rousseau also I never wish 
to read again. 

So that was the end of our frontier adventure. We had 
been on the edge of war but not in it. It was disappointing, 


139 


On the Edge of a Storm 

but it was late in April before I reached Cairo and the beat 
was already becoming too much for an invalid. A week later 
we were in London, and I remember that, as I sat as a guest 
at the Royal Academy Banquet on May 1 of that year, I saw 
upon my wrists the ragged little ulcers where the poisonous 
jiggers which had burrowed into my skin while I lay upon 
the banks of the Nile were hatching out their eggs under the 
august roof of Burlington House. 


CHAPTER XV 


AN INTERLUDE OE PEACE 

Hindhead — “A Duet ” — A Haunted House — A Curious Society — Pre¬ 
ternatural Powers — The Little Doctor — The Shadow of Africa. 

W HEN we returned to England I found that the house 
in which we hoped that the cure would be completed 
was not yet ready. It was a considerable mansion planned 
upon a large scale, so that it was not surprising that it had 
taken some time to build. We were compelled to take a fur¬ 
nished house at Haslemere until the early months of 1897, 
when we moved up to Moorlands, a boarding house on Hind- 
head close to the site of my building. There we spent some 
happy and busy months until the house was ready in the sum¬ 
mer. I had taken up riding, and though I was never a great 
horseman I was able from that time onwards to get a good* 
deal of health and pleasure out of it, for in that woody, healthy 
country there are beautiful rides in every direction, and the 
hunting, in which I joined, was at least picturesque. About 
June we moved into the new house, which I called Undershaw 
— a new word, I think, and yet one which described it exactly 
in good Anglo-Saxon, since it stood under a hanging grove 
of trees. 

I have said little, during these years spent in the quest of 
health, concerning my literary production. The chief book 
which I had written since “ The Refugees ” was a study of 
the Regency with its bucks and prizefighters. I had always a 
weakness for the old fighting men and for the lore of the prize¬ 
ring, and I indulged it in this novel. At the time boxing had 
not gained the popular vogue which I have been told that this 
very book first initiated, and I can never forget the surprise 
of Sir George Newnes when he found out what the new serial 
was about. “ Why that subject of all subjects upon earth?” 
he cried. However, I think that the readers of “ The Strand ” 


An Interlude of Peace 141 

found that I had not chosen badly, and the book is one which 
has held a permanent place as a picture of those wild old days. 
I wrote a considerable number of short tales during those years, 
and finally in 1898 a domestic study, “ A Duet,” which was 
an attempt at quite a different form of literature *— a picture 
in still life, as it were. It was partly imaginative and partly 
founded upon early experiences of my own and of friends. It 
led, I remember, to a public bickering with a man who has 
done good work as a critic, Dr. Robertson Nicoll. He took 
exception to some passage in the book, which he had every 
right to do. But he wrote at that time for six or seven papers, 
under different names, so that it appeared as if a number of 
critics were all condemning me when it was really only one. 
I thought I had a grievance, and said so with such vehemence 
that he stated that he did not know whether to answer me in 
print or in the law courts. However, it all blew over and we 
became very good friends. Another book of those days was 
“ IJncle Bernac,” which I never felt to be satisfactory, though 
I venture to claim that the two chapters which portray Napo¬ 
leon give a clearer picture of him than many a long book has 
done, which is natural enough, since they are themselves the 
quintessence of a score of books. 

So much for my work. I had everything in those few years 
to make a man contented, save only the constant illness of my 
partner. And yet my soul was often troubled within me. 
I felt that I was born for something else, and yet I was not 
clear what that something might be. My mind felt out contin¬ 
ually into the various religions of the world. I could no more 
get into the old ones, as commonly received, than a man could 
get into his boy’s suit. I still argued on materialist lines. 
I subscribed to the Rationalist Association and read all their 
literature carefully, but it was entirely destructive and one 
cannot permanently live on that alone. Besides, I was sure 
enough of psychic phenomena to be aware that there was a 
range of experience there which was entirely beyond any 
rational explanation, and that therefore a system which ig¬ 
nored a great body of facts, and was incompatible with them, 
was necessarily an imperfect system. On the other hand, con¬ 
vinced as I was of these abnormal happenings, and that intelli- 


142 Memories and Adventures 

gence, high or low, lay behind them, I by no means understood 
their bearing. I still confused the knocking at the door with 
the friend outside, or the ringing of the bell with the telephone 
message. Sometimes I had the peace of despair, when one 
felt that one could never possibly arrive at any conclusions 
save negative ones, and then again some fresh impulse of the 
soul would start one upon a new quest. In every direction, 
I reached out, but never yet with any absolute satisfaction. 
I should have been relieved from all my troubles could I have 
given heartfelt adhesion to any form of orthodoxy — but my 
reason always barred the way. 

During all the Egyptian and other periods of our exile I 
had never ceased to take the psychic subject very seriously, 
to read eagerly all that I could get, and from time to time to 
organize seances which gave indifferent but not entirely nega¬ 
tive results, though we had no particular medium to help us. 
The philosophy of the subject began slowly to unfold, and it 
was gradually made more feasible, not only that life carried 
on, enclosed in some more tenuous envelope, but that the con¬ 
ditions which it encountered in the beyond were not unlike 
those which it had known here. So far I had got along the 
road, but the overwhelming and vital importance of it all had 
not yet been borne in upon me. 

Now and then I had a psychic experience somewhat outside 
the general run of such events. One of these occurred when 
I was at Norwood in 1892 or 1893. I was asked by the Society 
of Psychic Research whether I would join a small committee 
to sit in and report upon a haunted house at Charmouth in 
Dorchester. I went down accordingly together with a Dr. 
Scott and Mr. Podmore, a man whose name was associated 
with such investigations. I remember that it took us the 
whole railway journey from Paddington to read up the evi¬ 
dence as to the senseless noises which had made life unendur¬ 
able for the occupants, who were tied by a lease and could 
not get away. We sat up there two nights. On the first noth¬ 
ing occurred. On the second Dr. Scott left us and I sat up 
with Mr. Podmore. We had, of course, taken every precaution 
to checkmate fraud, putting worsted threads across the stairs, 
and so on. 


143 


An Interlude of Peace 

In the middle of the night a fearsome uproar broke out. 
It was like some one belabouring a resounding table with a 
heavy cudgel. It was not an accidental creaking of wood, or 
anything of that sort, but a deafening row. We had all doors 
open, so we rushed at once into the kitchen, from which the 
sound had surely come. There was nothing there — doors 
were all locked, windows barred, and threads unbroken. Pod- 
more took away the light and pretended that we had both re¬ 
turned to our sitting-room, going off with the young master 
of the house, while I waited in the dark in the hope of a 
return of the disturbance. Hone came — or ever did come. 
What occasioned it we never knew. It was of the same char¬ 
acter as all the other disturbances we had read about, but 
shorter in time. But there was a sequel to the story. Some 
years later the house was burned down, which may or may 
not have a bearing upon the sprite which seemed to haunt it, 
but a more suggestive thing is that the skeleton of a child 
about ten years old was dug up in the garden. This I give 
on the authority of a relation of the family who were so 
plagued. The suggestion was that the child had been done to 
death there long ago, and that the subsequent phenomena of 
which we had one small sample were in some way a sequence 
to this tragedy. There is a theory that a young life cut short 
in sudden and unnatural fashion may leave, as it were, a store 
of unused vitality which may be put to strange uses. The 
unknown and the marvellous press upon us from all sides. 
They loom above us and around us in undefined and fluctuating 
shapes, some dark, some shimmering, but all warning us of 
the limitations of what we call matter, and of the need for 
spirituality if we are to keep in touch with the true inner facts 
of life. 

I was never asked for a report of this case, but Podmore 
sent one in, attributing the noises to the young man, though 
as a fact he was actually sitting with us in the parlour when 
the tumult broke out. A confederate was possible, though we 
had taken every step to bar it, but the explanation given was 
absolutely impossible. I learned from this, what I have often 
confirmed since, that while we should be most critical of all 
psychic assertions, if we are to get at the truth, we should be 


144 Memories and Adventures 

equally critical of all negatives and especially of so-called “ ex¬ 
posures ” in this subject. Again and again I have probed them 
and found them to depend upon prejudice or upon an imperfect 
acquaintance with psychic law. 

This brings me to another curious experience which occurred 
about this time, probably in 1898. There was a small doctor 
dwelling near me, small in stature, and also, I fear, in practice, 
whom I will call Brown. He was a student of the occult, and 
my curiosity was aroused by learning that he had one room 
in his house which no one entered except himself, as it was 
reserved for mystic and philosophic purposes. Finding that I 
was interested in such subjects, Dr. Brown suggested one day 
that I should join a secret society of esoteric students. The 
invitation had been led up to by a good deal of preparatory 
inquiry. The dialogue between us ran somewhat thus: 

“ What shall I get from it ? ” 

“ In time, you will get powers.” 

“ What sort of powers ? ” 

“ They are powers which people would call supernatural. 
They are perfectly natural, but they are got by knowledge of 
deeper forces of nature.” 

“ If they are good, why should not every one know them ? ” 
“ They would be capable of great abuse in the wrong hands.” 
“ How can you prevent their getting into wrong hands ? ” 
“ By carefully examining our initiates.” 

“ Should I be examined ? ” 
il Certainly.” 

“ By whom ? ” 

“ The people would be in London.” 

“ Should I have to present myself ? ” 

“ Ho, no, they would do it without your knowledge.” 

“ And after that ? ” 

“ You would then have to study.” 

“ Study what ? ” 

“ You would have to learn by heart a considerable mass of 
material. That would be the first thing.” 

“ If this material is in print, why does it not become public 
property ? ” 

“ It is not in print. It is in manuscript. Each manuscript 


An Interlude of Peace 145 

is carefully numbered and trusted to the honour of a passed 
initiate. We have never had a case of one going wrong.” 

“ Well,” said I, “ it is very interesting and you can go ahead 
with the next step, whatever it may be.” 

Some little time later — it may have been a week — I awoke 
in the very early morning with a most extraordinary sensation. 
It was not a nightmare or any prank of a dream. It was quite 
different from that, for it persisted after I was wide awake. I 
can only describe it by saying that I was tingling all over. It 
was not painful, but it was queer and disagreeable, as a mild 
electric shock would be. I thought at once of the little doctor. 

In a few days I had a visit from him. “ You have been 
examined and you have passed,” said he with a smile. “How 
you must say definitely whether you will go on with it. You 
can’t take it up and drop it. It is serious, and you must leave 
it alone or go forward with a whole heart.” 

It began to dawn upon me that it really was serious, so 
serious that there seemed no possible space for it in my very 
crowded and pre-occupied life. I said as much, and he took 
it in very good part. “ Very well,” said he, “ we won’t talk 
of it any more unless you change your mind.” 

There was a sequel to the story. A month or two later, 
on a pouring wet day, the little doctor called, bringing with 
him another medical man whose name was familiar to me 
in connection with exploration and tropical service. They sat 
together beside my study fire and talked. One could not but 
observe that the famous and much-travelled man was very def¬ 
erential to the little country surgeon, who was the younger of 
the two. 

“ He is one of my initiates,” said the latter to me. “ You 
know,” he continued, turning to his companion, “ Doyle nearly 
joined us once.” The other looked at me with great interest 
and then at once plunged into a conversation with his mentor 
as to the wonders he had seen and, as I understood, actually 
done. I listened amazed. It sounded like the talk of two 
lunatics. One phrase stuck in my memory. 

“ When first you took me up with you,” said he, “ and we 
were hovering over the town I used to live in, in Central 
Africa, I was able for the first time to see the islands out in 


146 


Memories and Adventures 


the lake. I always knew they we're there, hut they were too 
far off to he seen from the shore. Was it not extraordinary 
that I should first see them when I was living in England ? ” 

“Yes,” said Brown, smoking his pipe and staring into the 
fire. “We had some fun in those days. Do you remember 
how you laughed when we made the little steamboat and it 
ran along the upper edge of the clouds ? ” 

There were other remarks as wild. “ A conspiracy to im¬ 
press a simpleton,” says the sceptic. Well, we can leave it 
at that if the sceptic so wills, hut I remain under the im¬ 
pression that I brushed against something strange, and some¬ 
thing which I am not sorry that I avoided. It was not Spirit¬ 
ualism and it was not Theosophy, but rather the acquisition 
of powers latent in the human organization, after the alleged 
fashion of the old gnostics or of some modern fakirs in 
India, though some doubtless would spell fakirs with an “ e.” 
One thing I am very sure of, and that is that morals and 
ethics have to keep pace with knowledge, or all is lost. The 
Maori cannibals had psychic knowledge and power, but were 
man-eaters none the less. Christian ethics can never lose its 
place whatever expansion our psychic faculties may enjoy. 
But Christian theology can and will. 

To return to the little doctor, I came across him again, as 
psychic as ever, in Portland, Oregon, in 1923. Erom what I 
learned I should judge that the powers of the Society to which 
he belonged included that of loosening their own etheric bodies, 
in summoning the etheric bodies of others (mine, for example) 
and in making thought images (the steamboat) in the way that 
we are assured is possible by will-power. But their line of 
philosophy or development is beyond me. I believe they rep¬ 
resent a branch of the Rosicrucians. 

All seemed placid at this time. My wife was holding her 
own in winter as well as in summer. The two children, Mary 
and Kingsley, were passing through the various sweet phases 
of human development, and brought great happiness into our 
lives. The country was lovely. My life was filled with alter¬ 
nate work and sport. As with me so with the nation.. They 
were years of prosperity and success. But the shadow of 
South Africa was falling upon England, and before it passed 


An Interlude of Peace 147 

my personal fortunes, as well as so many more, were destined 
to be involved in it. I bad a deep respect for the Boers and 
some fear of their skill at arms, their inaccessible situation, 
and their sturdy Teutonic tenacity. I foresaw that they would 
be a most dangerous enemy, and I watched with horror the 
drift of events which from the time of the ill-judged Jameson 
Raid never ceased to lead to open war. It was almost a relief 
when at last it came and we could clearly see the magnitude 
of our task. And yet few people understood it at the time. 
On the very eve of war I took the chair at a dinner to Lord 
Wolseley at the Authors’ Club and he declared that we could 
send two divisions to Africa. The papers next day were all 
much exercised as to whether such a force was either possible 
to collect or necessary to send. What would they have thought 
had they been told that a quarter of a million men, a large 
proportion of them cavalry, would be needed before victory 
could be won. The early Boer victories surprised no one who 
knew something of South African history, and they made it 
clear to every man in England that it was not a wine glass 
but a rifle which one must grasp if the health of the Empire 
was to be honoured. 


CHAPTER XVI 


THE START FOE SOUTH AFRICA 

The Black Week — Volunteering — The Langman Hospital — The Voyage 
— Bloemfontein — Sir Claude de Crespigny — The Epidemic — Ad¬ 
vance to the Water Works. 

F ROM December 10 to 17, 1899, was tbe black week for 
England. In that week General Gatacre lost a battle at 
Stormberg, Lord Methuen lost one at Magersfontein and Gen¬ 
eral Buller lost one at Colenso. The three together would not 
have made more than a minor action in the great war to come, 
but at the time it seemed portentous. There were ominous 
stirrings on the Continent also and rumours of a coalition. It 
was lucky for us that the German fleet was not yet in being 
and that our own was able to keep the ring, or we should soon 
have had some Lafayette in South Africa with perhaps a York- 
town to follow. However, it was bad enough as it was, but 
the nation as usual rose splendidly to the occasion, and every 
one hastened to do what they could. Hence it was that I found 
myself early one morning at Hounslow — if I remember right 
— standing in a long queue of men who were waiting to enlist 
in the Middlesex Yeomanry. I had one or two friends in the 
regiment and hence my choice. 

The Colonel, a grizzled soldier, sat behind a deal table in 
an orderly room and dealt swiftly with the applicants. He 
had no idea who I was, but seeing a man of forty before him 
he intimated that I surely did not intend to go into the ranks. 
I said that I was prepared to take a commission. He asked 
if I could ride and shoot. I said that I could do both in 
moderation. He asked if I had had military experience. I 
said that I had led an adventurous life and seen a little of 
military operations in the Soudan, which was stretching it 
about as far as it would go. Two white lies are permitted 
to a gentleman, to screen a woman, or to get into a fight when 
the fight is a rightful one. So I trust I may be forgiven. 

However the Colonel would only put me on his waiting list, 
took my name, still without recognizing me, and passed on to 



The Start for South Africa 


149 


the next case. I departed somewhat crestfallen and unsettled, 
not knowing whether I had heard the last of the matter or 
not. Almost immediately afterwards, however, I received an 
offer which took me out in a capacity which was less sporting 
but probably in my case and at my age a good deal more useful. 
This came from my friend John Langman, whose son Archie 
I had known well in Davos days. Langman was sending out 
a hospital of fifty beds at his own expense to Africa, and had 
already chosen his staff of surgeons but not his personnel. 
Archie Langman was to go with the Hospital as general man¬ 
ager. Langman’s idea was that I should help him to choose 
the personnel, that I should be a supplementary medico, and 
that I should exercise a general supervision over the whole 
in an unofficial capacity. To all this I agreed and spent a 
week at his house at Stanhope Terrace choosing from many 
candidates those who seemed the most likely. On the whole 
they proved to be a worthy choice. There were many things 
to be done, and in the middle of them I received a note re¬ 
opening the question of the Yeomanry, but by this time I was 
entirely committed to the Langman Hospital. 

When w r e were complete we were quite a good little unit, 
but our weakness was unfortunately at the head. Dr. O’Cal- 
laghan had been a personal friend of Langman’s and had thus 
got the senior billet, but he was in truth an excellent gynsecol- 
ogist, which is a branch of the profession for which there 
seemed to be no immediate demand. He was a man too who 
had led a sedentary life and was not adapted, with all the 
will in the world, for the trying experience which lay before 
us. He realized this himself and returned to England after a 
short experience of South African conditions. We were com¬ 
pelled to have one military chief, as a bond with the War 
Office, and this proved to be one Major Drury, a most amusing 
Irishman who might have come right out of Lever. To leave 
the service and to “ marry a rich widow with a cough ” was, 
he said, the height of his ambition. He was a very pleasant 
companion in civil life, but when it came to duties which 
needed tact and routine he was rather too Celtic in his methods, 
and this led to friction and occasional rows in which I had 
to sustain the point of view of Mr. Langman. I have no doubt 


150 Memories and Adventures 

he thought me an insubordinate dog, and I thought him — well, 
he has passed away now, and I remember him best as a very 
amusing companion. 

Under O’Callaghan and Drury were two really splendid 
younger surgeons, Charles Gibbs and Scharlieb, the latter the 
son of the well-known lady doctor. They were as good as they 
could he. Then we had our ward-masters, cooks, stewards, 
storekeepers, and finally some fifteen to twenty orderlies. Al¬ 
together we numbered just fifty men, and were splendidly fitted 
out by the generosity of Mr. Langman. 

A month or two passed before we could get away, and I 
remember one amusing incident which occurred during that 
time. I had spent a good deal of thought over the problem 
how best to attack men who lay concealed behind cover. My 
conclusions were that it was useless to fire at them direct, since, 
if they knew their business, very little of them would be 
vulnerable. On the other hand, if one could turn a rifle into a 
portable howitzer and drop a bullet with any sort of rough 
general accuracy within a given area, then it seemed to me 
that life would hardly be possible within that area. If, for 
example, the position was 20,,000 square yards in size, and 
20,000 rifles were dropping bullets upon it, each square yard 
would sooner or later be searched and your mark would be a 
whole prostrate or crouching body. What I was really evolv¬ 
ing, though I could not know it, was the machine gun barrage 
of dropping or vertical fire as practised in the Great War. 
My principles were absolutely right and have not even yet re¬ 
ceived their full application. I wrote an article to “ The 
Times” explaining my views, but so far as I know it had no 
results. 

Meanwhile I was practising how to turn a rifle into a how¬ 
itzer. I fastened a large needle at the end of a thread to the 
back sight. When the gun pointed straight up in the air the 
needle swung down across the stock and I marked the spot. 
Then the idea was to tilt the gun slowly forward, marking 
advances of 200, 400 and so on in the range, so that you had 
a dial marked on the stock and could always by letting the 
needle fall across the correct mark on the dial drop the bullet 
within a certain distance. 


The Start for South Africa 


151 


But the crux was to discover the exact ranges. To do this 
I went down to Frensham Pond and, standing among the 
reeds and tilting the gun very slightly forward, I pulled the 
trigger. The bullet very nearly fell upon my own head. 1 
could not locate it, hut I heard quite a loud thud. But what 
amazed me, and still amazes me, was the time it took. I 
counted fifty seconds on my watch between the discharge and 
the fall. I don’t wonder if the reader is incredulous. I feel 
incredulous also, hut such is the fact as I recorded it. 

My idea was to mark the bullet splashes on the calm water 
of the lake, but though I fired and fired at various angles 
not a splash could I see. Finally a little man who may have 
been an artist broke in upon my solitude. 

“ Do you want to know where those bullets are going ? ” 

“ Yes, sir, I do.” 

“ Then I can tell you, sir, for they have been dropping all 
round me.” 

I felt that unless my howitzer was to claim its first victim 
on the spot I had better stop. It was clear that the light 
bullet with so heavy a charge went so high into the atmosphere 
that one lost all command over it. Twice the weight and half 
the charge would have served my purpose better. Then came 
other calls and I could never work it out, but I am very sure 
that with a little care in detail I could have got a converging 
fire which would have cleared any kopje in South Africa. 

As I was convinced that the idea was both practical and 
much needed I communicated full particulars to the War 
Office. Here is the letter I had in reply. 

War Office, 

Feb. 16, 1900. 

SlR,- 

With reference to your letter concerning an appliance for 
adapting rifles to high angle fire I am directed by the Secre¬ 
tary of State for War to inform you that he will not trouble 
you in the matter. 

I am, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, 

(Signature illegible), 
Director General of Ordnance. 


152 Memories and Adventures 

Tims, whether my invention was nonsense or whether it 
was, as I believe, radical and epoch-making, I was given no 
chance to explain or to illustrate it. As I remarked in “ The 
Times:” “Mo wonder that we find the latest inventions in 
the hands of our enemies rather than ourselves if those who 
try to improve our weapons meet with such encouragement as 
I have done.” Our traditions were carried on in the Great 
War, for Pomeroy, the inventor of the inflammable bullet which 
brought down the Zeppelins, was about to return to Mew 
Zealand in despair, and it was, as I am assured, private and 
not official bullets which first showed how valuable was his 
discovery and forced a belated acceptance by the War Office. 

At last our time drew near. My wife had gone to Maples, 
where it was hoped that the warmer climate would complete 
her cure. My affairs were all settled up. I was to go as an 
unpaid man, and I contributed my butler Cleeve, a good in¬ 
telligent man for the general use, paying him myself. In this 
way I retained my independence and could return when I 
felt that the time had come — which, as events turned out, 
proved to he very valuable to me. 

We were reviewed by the old Duke of Cambridge in some 
drill-hall in London. There befell me on this occasion one 
of those quaint happenings which seem to me to have been 
more common in my life than in that of most other men. We 
were drawn up in our new khaki uniforms, and wearing our 
tropical helmets, for the Royal Duke’s inspection. If we had 
been asked to form fours we should have broken down com¬ 
pletely, hut luckily we were placed in double line and so we 
remained. I was standing in front on the right flank. With 
my eyes fixed rigidly before me I was still able out of the 
corner of them to be aware that the old Duke, with his suite, 
was coming across to begin at my end. Presently he halted 
in front of me, and stood motionless. I remained quite rigid, 
looking past him. He continued to stand, so near me that 
I could hear and almost feel his puffy breath. “ What on 
earth! ” I wondered, hut I gave no sign. At last he spoke. 
“ What is this ? ” he asked. Then louder, “ What is this ? ” 
and finally, in a sort of ecstasy, “ What is it ? ” I never 
moved an eyelash, but one of a group of journalists upon my 


153 


The Start for South Africa 

right went into hysterical hut subdued laughter. There was 
whispering among the suite, something was explained, and the 
funny old man passed on. But did ever Lever in his maddest 
moment represent that his hero on the first day of wearing 
uniform should have such an experience with the ex-Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the British army and the uncle of the 
Queen ? 

It seems that what was worrying the dear old gentleman 
— he was about eighty at the time — was that my tunic but¬ 
tons had no mark upon them, a thing which he had never seen 
in Her Majesty’s Army. Even a crown or a star would do, 
but no mark at all completely upset him, for he was a great 
stickler for correct military clothing. So, of course, was King 
Edward. A friend of mine at a ball in India (royalty being 
present) was swooped down upon by a very agitated aide-de- 
camp who began: u His Boyal Highness desires me to say 
. . .” and went on to point out some defect in his dress kit. 
My friend answered: “ I will mention the matter to my tailor,” 
which was, I think, an admirable way of quietly putting the 
matter into its true perspective. 

On this occasion we officers all filed up to be presented and 
the old Duke made amends by blurting out some very kindly 
things, for it seems that he greatly approved of my wooden 
soldier attitude, in spite of my reprehensible buttons. He 
had a day of agitations, for on the top of the buttons one of 
the curtains of the hotel took fire during our luncheon at 
Claridge’s, and there was great excitement for a few moments. 
He made, I remember, an extremely indiscreet speech in which 
he said: “ They turned me off because they said I was too old, 

but old as I am I wouldn’t have been such a fool as to-” 

and then he strung off a number of things which Lord Wolseley, 
his successor, was supposed to have done. The press was 
merciful and did not report. 

We sailed on Eebruary 28, 1900, from Tilbury, in the 
chartered transport Oriental, carrying with us a mixed lot of 
drafts, and picking up the Royal Scots Militia at Queenstown, 
where a noisy Irishwoman threw a white towel on board, cry¬ 
ing, “ You may be afther finding it useful.” The Scots were 
a rather rough crowd with a number of territorial magnates, 



154 Memories and Adventures 

Lord Henry Scott, Lord Tewkesbury, Lord Newport, Lord 
Brackley and others among their officers. Colonel Garstin of 
the Middlesex was in general command of the whole of us. 
The monotony of the three weeks’ voyage was broken only by 
a cricket match at the Cape de Verdes, by a lecture on the 
war which I delivered on deck under a tropical moon to all 
hands, and to an enteric inoculation, which was voluntary but 
should have been compulsory, for even as it was it saved many 
lives, and I am not sure that my own was not among them. 
The Great War has shown for ever how effective this treatment 
is. We lost more from enteric than from the bullet in South 
Africa, and it is sad to think that nearly all could have been 
saved had Almroth Wright’s discovery been properly appre¬ 
ciated. His brother was on board, I remember — an officer 
of Sappers — and took the virus particularly badly, though 
all of us were quite bad enough, for the right dose had not yet 
been accurately determined. 

On the evening of March 21 we reached Capetown and 
found the bay full of shipping. There were fifty large steamers 
at anchor — mostly empty. Some of us had a run ashore, but 
we had some trouble getting on board again, for there was a 
big swell and the little tug dare not come quite alongside. 
We had to jump therefore from the paddle-box as the roll 
favoured us, landing on a hanging ladder, where a qiiarter- 
master seized us. To some people such a feat is easy, while 
others evidently regarded it with horror, and I wondered that 
we escaped from having some tragedy. The only real mishap 
was a strange one. A row of soldier faces was looking down 
on us over the bulwarks, when I saw the grin upon one of 
them change to a look of horrible agony and he gave a wild 
scream. He still remained standing, but several men ran to¬ 
wards him, and then he disappeared. Only afterwards did I 
learn that a huge iron bar had in some way fallen upon his 
foot, pinning him to the place. He fainted as they disengaged 
him, and was carried below with his bones crushed. 

I spent next day ashore, with the Mount Nelson Hotel as 
my head-quarters. It was full of a strange medley of wounded 
officers, adventuresses and cosmopolitans. Kitchener came 
down and cleared it out shortly afterwards, for the syrens 


155 


The Start for South Africa 

were interfering with his fighting men. The general war news 
was very good. Paardeburg had been fought, Lord Roberts 
had made his way to Bloemfontein and Kimberley had been 
relieved by French, whose immediate return to head off Cronje 
was one of the inspired incidents of the war. It was a con¬ 
solation to find that Boers really could be captured in large 
numbers, for their long run of successes while the conditions 
were in their favour was getting badly upon the public nerves 
and a legendary sort of atmosphere was beginning to build up 
around them. 

Some money had been given me for charitable purposes 
when I was in London, so I went down to the camp of the 
Boer prisoners to see if I could spend some of it. It was a 
racecourse, pent in with barbed wire, and they were certainly 
a shaggy, dirty, unkempt crowd but with the bearing of free 
men. There were a few cruel or brutal faces, some of them 
half caste, but most were good honest fellows and the general 
effect was formidable. There were some who were maned like 
lions. I afterwards went into the tents of the sick Boers. 
Several were sitting sullenly round and one was raving in 
delirium, saying something in his frenzy which set all the 
others laughing in a mirthless way. One man sat in a corner 
with a proud dark face and brooding eagle eyes. He bowed 
with grave courtesy when I put down some money for ciga¬ 
rettes. A Huguenot, or I am mistaken. 

We had been waiting for orders and now we suddenly left 
Capetown on March 26, reaching East London on the 28th. 
There we disembarked, and I was surprised to find Leo Trevor, 
of amateur theatrical fame, acting as transport officer. In 
spite of his efforts (I hope it was not through them) our hos¬ 
pital stuff was divided between two trains, and when we reached 
Bloemfontein after days of travel we found that the other half 
had wandered off and was engulfed in the general chaos. There 
were nights of that journey which I shall never forget — the 
great train roaring through the darkness, the fires beside the 
line, the dark groups silhoutted against the flames, the shouts 
of “ Who are you ? ” and the crash of voices as our mates cried 
back, “ The Camerons,” for this famous regiment was our 
companion. Wonderful is the atmosphere of war. When the 


156 Memories and Adventures 

millennium comes the world will gain much, but it will lose 
its greatest thrill. 

It is a strange wild place, the veldt, with its vast green 
plains and peculiar flat-topped hills, relics of some extraordi¬ 
nary geological episode. It is poor pasture — a sheep to two 
acres — so it must always be sparsely inhabited. Little white 
farms, each with its eucalyptus grove and its dam, were scat¬ 
tered over it. When we crossed the Free State border by a 
makeshift bridge, beside the ruins of the old one, we noticed 
that many of these little houses were flying the white flag. 
Every one seemed very good-humoured, burghers and soldiers 
alike, but the guerilla war afterwards altered all that. 

It was April 2, and 5 a.m. when we at last reached the 
capital of the Free State, and were dumped down outside the 
town in a great green expanse covered with all sorts of en¬ 
campments and animals. There was said to be a large force 
of Boers close to the town, and they had cut up one of our 
columns a few days before at Sauna’s Post. Some troops 
were moving out, so I, with Gwynne whom I had known in 
Egypt, and that great sportsman, Claude de Crespigny, set 
forth to see what we could, an artilleryman lending me his led 
horse. There was nothing doing, however, for it was Brother 
Boer’s way never to come when you wanted him and always 
when you didn’t. Save for good company, I got nothing out 
of a long hot day. 

Good company is always one of the solaces of a campaign. 
I ran across many old friends, some soldiers, some medicos, 
some journalists. Knight of the “ Falcon ” had, alas, been 
hit in an early battle and was in hospital. Julian Ralph, a 
veteran American correspondent, Bennett Burleigh the rugged 
old war horse, queer little Melton Prior who looked like the 
prim headmaster of a conventional school, dark-eyed Donohue 
of the “ Chronicle,” Paterson the Australian, of Snowy River 
fame, they were a wonderful set of men. I had little time to 
enjoy their society, however, for among the miles of loaded 
trucks which lay at the endless sidings I had to my great joy 
discovered the missing half of our equipment and guided a 
fatigue party down to it. All day we laboured and before 
evening our beds were up and our hospital ready for duty. 



STAFF OF THE LANGMAN HOSPITAL, 
SOUTH AFRICA. 1900. 












The Start for South Africa 157 

Two days later wagons of sick and wounded began to disgorge 
at our doors and the real work had begun. 

We had been given the cricket field as our camp and the 
fine pavilion as our chief ward. Others were soon erected, for 
we had plenty of tents — one each for our own use and a 
marquee for the mess. We were ready for any moderate strain, 
but that which was put upon us was altogether beyond our 
strength and for a month we had a rather awful time. The 
first intimation of trouble came to me in a simple and dramatic 
way. We had a bath in the pavilion and I had gone up to it 
and turned the tap, but not a drop of water appeared, though 
it had been running freely the night before. This small inci¬ 
dent was the first intimation that the Boers had cut the water 
supply of the town, which caused us to fall back upon the old 
wells, which in turn gave rise to an outbreak of enteric which 
cost us 5,000) lives. The one great blot in lord Roberts’ 
otherwise splendid handling of the campaign was, in my opin¬ 
ion, that he did not buzz out at once with every man he could 
raise, and relieve the water works, which were only 20 miles 
away. Instead of this he waited for his army to recuperate, 
and so exposed them to the epidemic. However, it is always 
easy to be wise after the event. 

The outbreak was a terrible one. It was softened down for 
public consumption and the press messages were heavily cen¬ 
sored, but we lived in the midst of death — and death in its vil¬ 
est, filthiest form. Our accommodation was for fifty patients, 
but 120 were precipitated upon us, and the floor was littered 
between the beds with sick and often dying men. Our linen 
and utensils were never calculated for such a number, and as 
the nature of the disease causes constant pollution, and this 
pollution of the most dangerous character and with the vilest 
effluvia, one can imagine how dreadful was the situation. The 
worst surgical ward after a battle would be a clean place com¬ 
pared to that pavilion. At one end was a stage with the scene 
set for “H.M.S. Pinafore.” This was turned into latrines 
for those who could stagger so far. The rest did the best they 
could, and we did the best we could in turn. But a Verest- 
schagin would have found a subject in that awful ward, with 
the rows of emaciated men, and the silly childish stage looking 


158 Memories and Adventures 

down upon it all. In the very worst of it two nursing sisters 
appeared among us, and never shall I forget what angels of 
light they appeared, or how they nursed those poor hoys, swad¬ 
dling them like babies and meeting every want with gentle 
courage. Thank God, they both came through safe. 

Four weeks may seem a short time in comfort, hut it is a 
very long one under conditions such as those, amid horrible 
sights and sounds and smells, while a haze of flies spread over 
everything, covering your food and trying to force themselves 
into your mouth — every one of them a focus of disease. It 
was had enough when we had a full staff, hut soon the men 
began to wilt under the strain. They were nearly all from 
the Lancashire cotton mills, little, ill-nourished fellows but 
with a great spirit. Of the fifteen twelve contracted the disease 
and added to the labours of the survivors. Three died. Fortu¬ 
nately we of the staff were able to keep going, and we were 
reinforced by a Dr. Schwartz of Capetown. The pressure was 
great, but we were helped by the thought that the greater the 
work the more we proved the necessity of our presence in 
Africa. Above all, our labours were lightened by the splendid 
stuff that we had for patients. It was really glorious to see 
the steady patience with which they bore their sufferings. The 
British soldier may grouse in days of peace, but I never heard 
a murmur when he was faced with this loathsome death. 

Our hospital was no worse off than the others, and as there 
were many of them the general condition of the town was very 
bad. Coffins were out of the question, and the men were low¬ 
ered in their brown blankets into shallow graves at the average 
rate of sixty a day. A sickening smell came from the stricken 
town. Once when I had ridden out to get an hour or two of 
change, and was at least six miles from the town the wind 
changed and the smell was all around me. You could smell 
Bloemfontein long before you could see it. Even now if I felt 
that low deathly smell, compounded of disease and disinfec¬ 
tants, my heart would sink within me. 

At last there came the turn. The army had moved on. 
Hospitals up the line absorbed some of the cases. Above all 
the water works had been retaken, and with hardly any re¬ 
sistance. I went out with the force which was to retake it, 


159 


The Start for South Africa 

and slept for the night in a thin coat under a wagon, an ex¬ 
perience which left me colder than I can ever remember being 
in mj life — a cold which was not only on the surface, but 
like some solid thing within you. Next morning there was 
every prospect of a battle, for we had been shelled the night 
before and it looked as if the position would be held, so Ian 
Hamilton, who commanded, made a careful advance. How¬ 
ever, there was no resistance, and save for some figures watch¬ 
ing us from distant hills there was no sign of the enemy. He 
had slipped away in the night. 

In the advance we passed over the Drift at Sanna’s Post 
where the disaster had occurred some weeks before. The poor 
artillery horses were still lying in heaps where they had been 
shot down, and the place was covered with every kind of litter 
— putties, cholera belts, haversacks, and broken helmets. 
There were great numbers of Boer cartridge papers which were 
all marked “ Split Bullets. Manufactured for the Use of the 
British Government, London.” What the meaning of this was, 
or where they came from, I cannot imagine, for certainly our 
fellows had always the solid Lee-Metford bullet, as I can swear 
after inspecting many a belt. It sounded like some ingenious 
trick to excuse atrocities, and yet on the whole the Boer was a 
fair and good-humoured fighter until near the close of the war. 

The move of Hamilton’s was really the beginning of the 
great advance, and having cleared the water works he turned 
north and became the right wing of the army. On his left was 
Tucker’s 7th Division, then Kelly Kenny’s 6th Division, Pole- 
Carew’s 1st Division, including the Guards, and finally a great 
horde of mounted infantry, including the Yeomanry, the Co¬ 
lonial and the Irregular Corps. This was the great line which 
set forth early in May to sweep up from Bloemfontein to Pre¬ 
toria. Things had become more quiet at the hospital and pres¬ 
ently Archie Langman and I found a chance to get away and 
to join the army at the first stage of its advance. I wrote 
our experience out while it was still fresh in my mind, and 
the reader will forgive me if I reproduce some of this, as it 
is likely to be more vivid and more detailed than the blurred 
impression now left in my memory after more than twenty 
years. 


CHAPTER XVII 


DAYS WITH THE ARMY 

Pole-Carew — Tucker — Snipers — The Looted Farm — Taking of Brand- 
fort — Artillery Engagement — Advance of the Guards — The Wounded 
Scout — The Dead Australian — Return. 

S TAHD in the pass at Karee, and look north in the clear 
fresh morning air! Before you lies a great plain, dull 
green, with white farmhouses scattered here and there. One 
great donga slashes it across. Distant hills hound it on all sides, 
and at the base of those in front, dimly seen, are a line of 
houses and a steeple. This is Brandfort, ten miles off, and we 
are advancing to attack it. 

The troops are moving forward, line after line of red faces 
and khaki, with rumbling columns of guns. Two men sit their 
horses beside us on a knoll, and stare with their glasses at the 
distant houses. Gallant figures both of them; the one spruce, 
debonnaire, well-groomed, with laughing eyes and upward- 
curved moustache, a suggestion of schoolboy mischief about his 
handsome face; the other, grim, fierce, all nose and eyebrow, 
white scales of sun-dried skin hanging from his brick-red face. 
The first is Pole-Carew, General of Division; the second is 
Brigadier Stephenson. We are finding our men, and these are 
among them. 

Here is another man worth noting. You could not help 
noting him if you tried. A burly, broad-shouldered man, with 
full, square, black beard over his chest, his arm in a sling, his 
bearing a medieval knight-errant. It is Crabbe, of the Grena¬ 
dier Guards. He reins his horse for an instant while his 
Guardsmen stream past him. 

“ I’ve had my share — four bullets already. Hope I won’t 
get another to-day.” 

“ You shoidd be in hospital.” 

“ Ah, there I must venture to disagree with you.” He rides 
on with his men. 


161 


Days with the Army 

Look at the young officers of the Guards, the dandies of May- 
fair. Mo carpet soldiers, these, but men who have spent six 
months upon the veldt, and fought from Belmont to Bloem¬ 
fontein. Their walk is dainty, their putties are well rolled — 
there is still the suggestion of the West End. 

If you look with your glasses on the left you may see move¬ 
ment on the farthest skyline. That is Hutton’s Mounted In¬ 
fantry, some thousands of them, to turn the flank of any re¬ 
sistance. As far as you can see to the right is Tucker’s Divi¬ 
sion. Beyond that again are Ian Hamilton’s Mounted In¬ 
fantry and French’s Cavalry. The whole front is a good thirty 
miles, and 35,000 men go to the making of it. 

Mow we advance over the great plain, the infantry in ex¬ 
tended order, a single company covering half a mile. Look at 
the scouts and the flankers — we should not have advanced 
like that six months ago. It is not our additional numbers so 
much as our new warcraft which makes us formidable. The 
big donga is only 2,000 yards off now, so we halt and have a 
good look at it. Guns are unlimbered — just as well to he 
ready. Pole-Carew rides up like a schoolboy on a holiday. 

“ Who’s seen old Tucker ? ” I hear him say, with his glasses 
to his eyes. He had sent a message to the scouts. “ There now, 
look at that aide of mine. He has galloped along the donga to 
see if any Boers are in it. What right had he to do that ? 
When I ask him he will say that he thought I was there. . . . 
Halloa, you, sir, why don’t you come hack straight ? ” 

“ I did, sir.” 

“ You didn’t. You rode along that donga.” 

“ I thought you were there, sir.” 

“ Don’t add lying to your other vices.” 

The aide came grinning hack. “ I was fired at, but I dare 
not tell the old man.” 

Bap! Rap! Rap! Rifles in front. Every one pricks 
up his ears. Is it the transient sniper or the first shot of a 
battle? The shots come from the farmhouse yonder. The 
83rd Field Battery begin to fidget about their guns. The 
officer walks up and down and stares at the farmhouse. Erom 
either side two men pull out lines of string and give long, 
monotonous cries. They are the range-finders. A gunner on 


162 Memories and Adventures 

the limber is deep in a sixpenny magazine, absorbed, bis chin 
on bis band. 

“ Our scouts are past the house,” says an officer. 

“ That’s all right,” says the major. 

The battery limbers up and the whole force advances to the 
farmhouse. Off-saddle and a halt for luncheon. 

Halloa! Here are new and sinister developments. A 
Tommy drives a smart buggy and pair out of the yard, looted 
for the use of the army. The farm is prize of war, for have 
they not fired at our troops ? They could not help the firing, 
poor souls, hut still this sniping must be discouraged. We are 
taking off our gloves at last over this war. But the details are 
not pretty. 

A frightened girl runs out. 

“ Is it right that they kill fowls ? ” Alas! the question is 
hardly worth debating, for the fowls are dead. Erect and in¬ 
dignant, the girl drives in her three young turkeys. Men stare 
at her curiously, hut she and her birds are not molested. 

Here is something worse. A fat white pig all smothered in 
blood runs past. A soldier meets it, his bayonet at the charge. 
He lunges and lunges again, and the pig screams horribly. I 
had rather see a man killed. Some are up in the loft throwing 
down the forage. Others root up the vegetables. One drinks 
milk out of a strange vessel, amid the laughter of his comrades. 
It is a grotesque and medieval scene. 

The General rides up, hut he has no consolation for the 
women. “ The farm has brought it upon itself.” He rides 
away again. 

A parson rides up. “ I can’t imagine why they don’t burn 
it,” says he. 

A little Dutch hoy stares with large, wondering grey eyes, 
lie will tell all this to his grandchildren when we are in our 
graves. 

“ War is a terrible thing,” says the mother, in Dutch. The 
Tommies, with curious eyes, cluster round the doors and win¬ 
dows, staring in at the family. There is no individual rude¬ 
ness. 

One Kaffir enters the room. “ A Kaffir! ” cries the girl, with 
blazing eyes. „ 


163 


Days with the Army 

“ Yes, a Kaffir/’ says lie defiantly — but be left. 

“ They won’t burn the house, will they ? ” cries the mother. 

“No, no,” we answer; “they will not bum the house.” 

We advance again after lunch, the houses and steeple much 
nearer. 

Boom! Boom! Boom! Cannon at last! 

But it is far away, over at Tucker’s side. There are little 
white puffs on the distant green hills. Those are shells burst¬ 
ing. If you look through your glasses you will see — eight 
miles off — a British battery in action. Sometimes a cloud of 
dust rises over it. That is a Boer shell which has knocked up 
the dust. No Boers can be seen from here. 

Boom! Boom! Boom! 

It becomes monotonous. “ Old Tucker is getting it hot! ” 
Bother old Tucker, let us push on to Brandfort. 

On again over the great plain, the firing dying away on the 
right. We have had a gun knocked off its wheels and twelve 
men hit over there. But now Hutton’s turning movement is 
complete, and they close in on the left of Brandfort. A pom¬ 
pom quacks like some horrid bird among the hills. Our horse 
artillery are banging away. White spurts of shrapnel rise along 
the ridge. The leading infantry bend their backs and quicken 
their pace. We gallop to the front, but the resistance has col¬ 
lapsed. The mounted men are riding forward and the guns 
are silent. Long, sunlit hills stretch peacefully before us. 

I ride through the infantry again. “ The bloody blister on 
my toe has bust.” “ This blasted water-bottle! ” Every second 
man has a pipe between his parched lips. 

The town is to the right, and two miles of plain intervene. 
On the plain a horseman is rounding up some mares and foals. 
I recognize him as I pass — Burdett-Coutts — a well-known 
figure in society. Mr. Maxwell of the “ Morning Post ” sug¬ 
gests that we ride to the town and chance it. “ Our men are 
sure to be there.” No sign of them across the plain, but we 
will try. He outrides me, but courteously waits, and we enter 
the town together. Yes, it’s all right; there’s a Rimington 
Scout in the main street — a group of them, in fact. 

A young Boer, new caught, stands among the horsemen. He 
is discomposed — not much. A strong, rather coarse face; 


164 Memories and Adventures 

well-dressed; might appear, as he -stands, in an English hunt¬ 
ing-field as a young yeoman farmer. 

“ Comes of being fond of the ladies,” said the Australian 
sergeant. 

“ Wanted to get her out of the town,” said the Boer. 

Another was brought up. “ I’d have got off in a minute,” 
says he. 

You’d have got off as it was if you had the pluck of a 
louse,” says his captor. The conversation languished after 
that. 

In came the Staff, galloping grandly. The town is ours. 

A red-headed Irish-American is taken on the kopje. “ W T hat 
the hell is that to you ? ” he says to every question. He is 
haled away to gaol — a foul-mouthed blackguard. 

We find the landlady of our small hotel in tears — her hus¬ 
band in gaol, because a rifle has been found. We try to get him 
out, and succeed. He charges us 4s. for half a bottle of beer, 
and we wonder whether we cannot get him hack into gaol 
again. 

“ The house is not my own. I find great burly men every¬ 
where,” he cries, with tears in his eyes. His bar is fitted with 
pornographic pictures to amuse our simple farmer friends — 
not the first or the second sign which I have seen that pastoral 
life and a Puritan creed do not mean a high public morality. 

We sit on the stoep and smoke in the moonlight. 

There comes a drunken inhabitant down the main street. A 
dingy Tommy stands on guard in front. 

“ Halt! Who goes there ? ” 

“ A friend.” 

“ Give the countersign! ” 

“ I’m a free-born Englishman! ” 

“ Give the countersign! ” 

“ I’m a freeborn-” With a rattle the sentry’s rifle came 

to his shoulder and the moon glinted on his bayonet. 

“ Hi, stop! ” cries a senior Correspondent. “You Juggins, 
you’ll be shot! Don’t fire, sentry! ” 

Tommy raised his rifle reluctantly and advanced to the man. 
“ What shall I do with him, sir ? ” he asked the Correspondent. 

“ Oh, what you like! ” He vanished out of history. 



165 


Days with the Army 

I talk politics with Free Staters. The best opening is to 
begin, in an inquiring tone, “ Why did you people declare war 
upon us ? ” They have got into such an injured-innocence state 
that it comes quite as a shock to them when they are reminded 
that they were the attackers. By this Socratic method one at¬ 
tains some interesting results. It is evident that they all 
thought they could win easily, and that they are very bitter 
now against the Transvaal. They are mortally sick of the war; 
but, for that matter, so are most of the British officers. It has 
seemed to me sometimes that it would be more judicious, and 
even more honourable, if some of the latter were less open about 
the extent to which they are “ fed-up.” It cannot be inspiriting 
for their men. At the same time there would be a mutiny in 
the Army if any conditions short of absolute surrender were 
accepted — and in spite of their talk, if a free pass were given 
to-day, I am convinced that very few officers would return until 
the job was done. 

Our railway engineers are great. The train was in Brand- 
fort next day, in spite of broken bridges, smashed culverts, 
twisted metals, every sort of wrecking. So now we are ready 
for another twenty miles Pretoriawards. The Yet River is our 
goal this time, and off we go with the early morning. 

Another great green plain, with dotted farms and the huge 
khaki column slowly spreading across it. The day was hot, 
and ten miles out the Guards had about enough. Stragglers 
lay thick among the grass, but the companies kept their double 
line formation, and plodded steadily along. Ten miles sounds 
very little, but try it in the dust of a column on a hot day, with 
a rifle over your shoulder, a 100 rounds of ammunition, a blan¬ 
ket, a canteen, an empty water-bottle, and a dry tongue. 

A grey-bearded padre limped bravely beside his men. 

“ No, no,” says he, when offered my horse. “ I must not 
spoil my record.” 

The men are silent on the march; no band, no singing. 
Grim and sullen, the column flows across the veldt. Officers 
and men are short in their tempers. 

“ Why don’t you,” etc., etc., bleats a subaltern. 

“ Because I never can hear what you say,” says the corporal. 

They halt for a midday rest, and it seems to me, as I move 


166 Memories and Adventures 

among them, that there is too much nagging on the part of the 
officers. We have paid too much attention to the German mili¬ 
tary methods. Our true model should have been the American, 
for it is what was evolved by the Anglo-Celtic race in the great¬ 
est experience of war which the Anglo-Celtic race has ever had. 

On we go again over that great plain. Is there anything 
waiting for us down yonder where the low kopjes lie? The 
Boers have always held rivers. They held the Modder. They 
held the Tugela. Will they hold the Yet ? Halloa, what’s this ? 

A startled man in a night-cap on a dapple-grey horse. He 
gesticulates. “ Fifty of them — hot corner — lost my helmet.” 
We catch hits of his talk. But what’s that on the dapple-grey’s 
side ? The horse is shot through the body. He grazes quietly 
with black streaks running down the reeking hair. 

“ A West Australian, sir. They shot turble bad, for we were 
within fifty yards before they loosed off.” 

“ Which kopje ? ” 

“ That one over yonder.” 

We ride forward, and pass through the open ranks of the 
Guards’ skirmishers. Behind us the two huge naval guns are 
coming majestically up, drawn by their thirty oxen, like great 
hock-hottles on wheels. In front a battery has unlimbered. We 
ride up to the side of it. Away in front lies a small, slate- 
roofed farm beside the kopje. The Mounted Infantry have 
coalesced into one body and are moving towards us. “ Here’s 
the circus. There is going to be a battle,” was an infantry 
phrase in the American War. Our circus was coming in, and 
perhaps the other would follow. 

The battery (84th B..F.A.) settles down to its work. 

Bang! I saw the shell burst on a hillside far away. 
“ 3,500,” says somebody. Bang! “ 3,250,” says the voice. 
Bang! “ 3,300.” A puff shoots up from the distant grey roof 
as if their chimney were on fire. “ Got him that time! ” 

The game seems to us rather one-sided, but who is that shoot¬ 
ing in the distance? 

“ Wheeeeee ”— what a hungry whine, and then a dull muf¬ 
fled “ Ooof! ” Up goes half a cartload of earth about one 
hundred yards ahead of the battery. The gunners take as much 
notice as if it were a potato. 


167 


Days with the Army 

“ Wheeeeeee — ooof! ” Fifty yards in front this time. 

“ Bang! Bang! ” go the crisp English guns. 

“ Wheeeeee— ooof!” Fifty yards behind the battery. 
They’ll get it next time as sure as fate. Gunners go on un¬ 
concernedly. “ Wheeeeee — ooof!” Right between the guns, 
by George! Two guns invisible for the dust. Good heavens, 
how many of our gunners are left ? Dust settles, and they are 
all bending and straining and pulling the same as ever. 

Another shell and another, and then a variety, for there 
comes a shell which breaks high up in the air — wheeeeee — 
tang — with a musical, resonant note, like the snapping of a 
huge banjo-string, and a quarter of an acre of ground spurted 
into little dust-clouds under the shrapnel. The gunners take 
no interest in it. Percussion or shrapnel, fire what you will, 
you must knock the gun off its wheels or the man off his pins 
before you settle the R.F.A. 

But every shell is bursting true, and it is mere luck that half 
the battery are not down. Once only did I see a man throw 
back his head a few inches as a shell burst before him. The 
others might have been parts of an automatic machine. But 
the officer decided to shift the guns — and they are shifted. 
They trot away for half a mile to the right and come into action 
again. 

The lonely hero is the man to be admired. It is easy to be 
collectively brave. A man with any sense of proportion feels 
himself to be such a mite in the presence of the making of his¬ 
tory that his own individual welfare seems for the moment too 
insignificant to think of. The unit is lost in the mass. But 
now we find ourselves alone on the plain with the battery away 
to the right. The nerves of the novice are strung up by the 
sound of the shells, but there is something of exhilaration in 
the feeling also. 

There is a fence about 200 yards off, and to this we tether 
our horses, and we walk up and down trying with our glasses 
to spot where the Boer guns are. We have suspicions, but 
nothing more. Our gunners may know, but we do not feel con¬ 
fident about it. Surely the stealthy lurking gun is worth six 
guns which stand bravely forth in the open. These farmers 
have taught our riflemen their business, and they bid fair to 


168 Memories and Adventures 

alter the artillery systems of the ’world as well. Our guns and 
theirs are like a fight between a blind man and one who can 
see. 

An artillery colonel is wandering loose, and we talk. He has 
no job of his own, so he comes, like the coachman on a holiday, 
to watch some other man’s guns at work. A shell falls some 
distance short of us. 

“ The next one,” says the colonel, “ will go over our heads. 
Come and stand over here.” I do so, with many mental res¬ 
ervations. Wheeeeeeee- 

“ Here it comes! ” says the colonel. “ Here I go! ” think I. 
It burst on our level, hut 40 yards to the right. I secure a piece 
as a souvenir. 

“ Shall we wait for another ? ” I began to he sorry that I 
met the colonel. 

But a new sensation breaks upon us. Looking back we see 
that two monster naval guns are coming into action not fifty 
yards from our tethered horses, which stand in a dead line be¬ 
fore their huge muzzles. We only just got them clear in time. 
Bang! the father of all the hangs this time, and a pillar of 
white smoke with a black heart to it on the farther hill. I can 
see some riders like ants, going across it — Boers on the trek. 
Our men take the huge brass cartridge-case out of the gun. 

“ Can I have that ? ” 

“ Certainly,” says the lieutenant. 

I tie it on to my saddle, and feel apologetic towards my long- 
suffering horse. The great gun roars and roars and the malig¬ 
nant spouts of smoke rise on the farthest hill. 

A line of infantry in very open order comes past the great 
guns, and I advance a little way with them. They are Scots 
Guards. The first line goes forward, the second is halted and 
lying down. 

“ That’s right! Show where you are! ” cries the second line, 
derisively. I seem to have missed the point, but the young 
officer in the first line is very angry. 

“ Hold your tongues! ” he shouts, with his red face looking 
over his shoulder. “ Too many orders. No one gives orders 
hut me.” His men lie down. The sun is sinking low, and it 
is evident that the contemplated infantry assault will not come 



Days with the Army 169 

off. One of the great naval shells passes high over our heads. 
It is the sound of a distant train in a tunnel. 

A man canters past with a stretcher over his shoulder. His 
hay horse lollops along, hut the stretcher makes him look very 
top-heavy. He passes the guns and the infantry, and rides on 
along the edge of a maize field. He is half a mile out now, 
heading for the kopje. Every instant I expect to see him drop 
from his horse. Then he vanishes in a dip of the ground. 

After a time the stretcher appears again. 

This time two men are carrying it, and the horseman rides 
beside. I have bandages in my pocket, so I ride forward 
also. 

“ Has a surgeon seen him ? ” 

“ Ho, sir.” They lay the man down. There is a handker¬ 
chief over his face. 

“ Where is it ? ” 

“ His stomach and his arm.” I pull up his shirt, and there 
is the Mauser bullet lying obvious under the skin. It has gone 
round instead of penetrating. A slit with a pen-knife would 
extract it, but that had better be left for chloroform and the 
field hospital. Nice clean wound in the arm. 

“ You will do very well. What is your name ? ” 

“ Private Smith, sir. New Zealander.” I mention my 
name and the Langman Hospital at Bloemfontein. 

“ I’ve read your books,” says he, and is carried onwards. 

There has been a lull in the firing and the sun is very low. 
Then after a long interval comes a last Boer shell. It is an 
obvious insult, aimed at nothing, a derisive good-night and 
good-bye. The two naval guns put up their long necks and 
both roared together. It was the last word of the Empire — 
the mighty angry voice calling over the veldt. The red rim 
had sunk and all was purple and crimson, with the white moon 
high in the west. What had happened ? Who had won? Were 
other columns engaged ? No one knew anything or seemed to 
care. But late at night as I lay under the stars I saw on the 
left front signal flashes from over the river, and I knew that 
Hutton was there. 

So it proved, for in the morning it was over the camp in an 
instant that the enemy had gone. But the troops were early 


170 Memories and Adventures 

afoot. Long before dawn came th6 weird, muffled tapping of 
the drums and the crackling of sticks as the camp-kettles were 
heated for breakfast. Then with the first light we saw a strange 
sight. A monstrous blister was rising slowly from the veldt. 
It was the balloon being inflated — our answer to the lurking 
guns. We would throw away no chances now, but play every 
card in our hand — another lesson which the war has driven 
into our proud hearts. The army moved on, with the absurd 
windbag flapping over the heads of the column. We climbed 
the kopjes where the enemy had crouched, and saw the litter 
of empty Mauser cases and the sangars so cunningly built. 
Among the stones lay a packet of the venomous-looking green 
cartridges still unfired. They talk of poison, but I doubt it. 
Verdigris would be an antiseptic rather than a poison in a 
wound. It is more likely that it is some decomposition of the 
wax in which the bullets are dipped. Brother Boer is not a 
Bushman after all. He is a tough, stubborn fighter, who plays 
a close game, but does not cheat. 

We say good-bye to the army, for our duty lies behind us 
and theirs in front. For them the bullets, for us the microbes, 
and both for the honour of the flag. Scattered trails of wagons, 
ambulance carts, private buggies, impedimenta of all kinds, 
radiate out from the army. It is a bad drift, and it will be 
nightfall before they are all over. We pass the last of them, 
and it seems strange to emerge from that great concourse and 
see the twenty miles of broad, lonely plain which lies between us 
and Brandfort. We shall look rather foolish if any Boer horse¬ 
men are hanging about the skirts of the army. 

We passed the battlefield of last night, and stopped to ex¬ 
amine the holes made by the shells. Three had fallen within 
ten yards, but the ant-heaps round had not been struck, showing 
how harmless the most severe shell fire must be to prostrate in¬ 
fantry. From the marks in the clay the shells were large ones 
— forty-pounders, in all probability. In a little heap lay the 
complete kit of a Guardsman — his canteen, water-bottle, cup, 
even his putties. He had stripped for action with a vengeance. 
Poor devil, how uncomfortable he must be to-day! 

A Kaffir on horseback is rounding up horses on the plain. 
He gallops towards us — a picturesque, black figure on his 


Days with the Army 171 

shaggy Basuto mount. He waves his hand excitedly towards 
the east. 

“ Englishman there — on veldt — hurt — Dutchman shoot 
him.” He delivers his message clearly enough. 

“ Is he alive ? ” He nods. 

“ When did you see him ? ” He points to the sun and then 
farther east. About two hours ago apparently. 

“ Can you take us there ? ” We buy him for 2s., and all 
canter off together. 

Our road is through maize fields and then out on to the veldt. 
By Jove, what’s that ? There is a single black motionless figure 
in the middle of that clearing. We gallop up and spring from 
our horses. A short muscular, dark man is lying there with 
a yellow, waxen face, and a blood-clot over his mouth. A 
handsome man, black-haired, black moustached, his expression 
serene — No. 410 New South Wales Mounted Infantry — shot, 
overlooked and abandoned. There are evident signs that he was 
not alive when the Kaffir saw him. Bifle and horse are gone. 
His watch lies in front of him, dial upwards, run down at 
one in the morning. Poor chap, he had counted the hours until 
he could see them no longer. 

We examine him for injuries. Obviously he had bled to 
death. There is a horrible wound in his stomach. His arm is 
shot through. Beside him lies his water-bottle — a little water 
still in it, so he was not tortured by thirst. And there is a 
singular point. On the water-bottle is balanced a red chess 
pawn. Has he died playing with it ? It looks like it. Where 
are the other chessmen? We find them in a haversack out of 
his reach. A singular trooper this, who carries chessmen on a 
campaign. Or is it loot from a farmhouse ? I shrewdly sus¬ 
pect it. 

We collect the poor little effects of No. 410 — a bandolier, a 
stylographic pen, a silk handkerchief, a clasp-knife, a Water- 
bury watch, £2 6s. 6c?. in a frayed purse. Then we lift him, 
our hands sticky with his blood, and get him over my saddle — 
horrible to see how the flies swarm instantly on to the saddle- 
flaps. His head hangs down on one side and his heels on the 
other. We lead the horse, and when from time to time he gives 
a horrid dive we clutch at his ankles. Thank Heaven, he never 


172 Memories and Adventures 

fell. It is two miles to the road, and there we lay our burden 
under a telegraph post. A convoy is coming up, and we can 
ask them to give him a decent burial. No. 410 holds one rigid 
arm and clenched fist in the air. We lower it, hut up it springs 
menacing, aggressive. I put his mantle over him; but still, as 
we look back, we see the projection of that raised arm. So he 
met his end — somebody’s boy. Fair fight, open air, and a 
great cause — I know no better death. 

A long, long ride on tired horses over an endless plain. Here 
and there mounted Kaffirs circle and swoop. I have an idea 
that a few mounted police might be well employed in our rear. 
How do we know what these Kaffirs may do among lonely farms 
held by women and children ? Very certain I am that it is not 
their own horses which they are rounding up so eagerly. 

Ten miles have passed, and we leave the track to water our 
horses at the dam. A black mare hard-by is rolling and kick¬ 
ing. Curious that she should be so playful. We look again, 
and she lies very quiet. One more has gone to poison the air 
of the veldt. We sit by the dam and smoke. Down the track 
there comes a Colonial corps of cavalry — a famous corps, as 
we see when our glasses show us the colour of the cockades. 
Good heavens, will we never have sense beaten into us ? How 
many disasters and humiliations must we endure before we 
learn how to soldier ? The regiment passes without a vanguard, 
without scouts, without flankers, in an enemy’s country inter¬ 
sected by dongas. Oh, for a Napoleon who might meet such a 
regiment, tear the epaulettes of the colonel from his shoulders, 
Stellenbosch him instantly without appeal or argument. Only 
such a man with such powers can ever thoroughly reorganize 
our army. 

Another six miles over the great plain. Here is a small 
convoy, with an escort of militia, only a mile or two out from 
Brandfort. They are heading wrong, so we set them right. 
The captain in charge is excited. 

“ There are Boers on that hill! ” The hill is only half a 
mile or so away on our left; so we find the subject interesting. 
“ Kaffirs! ” we suggest. 

“No, no, mounted men with bandoliers and rifles. Why, 
there they are now.” We see moving figures, but again suggest 


173 


Days with the Army 

Kaffirs. It ends by our both departing unconvinced. We 
thought the young officer jumpy over his first convoy, but we 
owe him an apology, for next morning we learned that the 
Mounted Infantry had been out all night chasing the very men 
whom we had seen. It is likely that the accidental presence of 
the convoy saved us from a somewhat longer journey than we 
had intended. 

A day at Brandfort, a night in an open truck, and we were 
back at the Cafe Enterique, Boulevard des Microbes, which 
is our town address. 


CHAPTER XVIII 


FINAL EXPERIENCES IN SOUTH AFRICA 

Military Jealousies — Football — Cracked Ribs — A Mutiny — De Met 
A Historian under Difficulties — Pretoria — Lord Roberts — With the 
Boers — Memorable Operation — Altercation. 

M ILITARY men are more full of jealousies and more 
prone to divide into cliques than any set of men whom I 
have met. South Africa was rent with their quarrels, and 
one heard on every side of how General This was daggers 
drawn with General That. But the greatest cleavage of all was 
between the Roberts men and the Buller men. The former 
were certainly very hitter against the reliever of Ladysmith, 
and the comments about the difference between his evening 
telegrams and those of next morning were painful to hear. I 
had, however, less sympathy, as Buller was a coarse-fibred 
man, though a brave soldier. Several authentic anecdotes 
pointed to this want of perception. When, for example, he 
entered Ladysmith the defenders saved up a few cakes and 
other luxuries for the day of their release. These they laid 
before Buller at the welcoming lunch. “ I thought you were 
a starving city,” said he, looking round at them. This story 
I heard from several men who claimed to speak with knowledge 
as well as bitterness. It would have been sad had Buller’s 
long meritorious, hard-fighting career gone down in clouds, but 
it cannot be denied that in the French, or I think in any other 
service, he could not have survived Colenso. The strange 
speech which he made at a London luncheon after the war 
proved, I think, that his mind had lost something of its grip 
of realities. Roberts, as usual, played the noblest possible part 
in this unhappy controversy. “ I shall handle Buller with all 
possible tenderness,” he said to one of his Staff, and he lived 
up to his words. 

I found the hospital on my return to be in a very improved 
condition. I fell ill myself, however, though it was not serious 


Final Experiences in South Africa 175 

enough to incapacitate me. I still think that if I had not 
been inoculated I should at that time have had enteric, and 
there was surely something insidious in my system, for it was 
a good ten years before my digestion had recovered its tone. 
My condition was not improved by a severe bruising of the 
ribs caused by a foul in one of the inter-hospital football 
matches which we had organized in order to take the minds 
of the men from their incessant work. Charles Gibbs strapped 
me up with plaster, as in a corset, but I was getting too old 
for rough handling which I could have smiled at in my youth. 

One quaint memory of those days rises before me. There 
was a sharp quarrel between Drury, our Military C.O. rep¬ 
resenting routine discipline, and our cooks and servants repre¬ 
senting civilian ideas of liberty. It was mishandled and had 
reached such a point when I returned from the army that the 
men were on absolute strike, the work was disorganized and 
the patients were suffering. Drury was breathing fire and 
fury, which only made the men more obdurate. It really 
looked as if there might be a considerable scandal, and I felt 
that it was just such a case as Mr. Langman would have 
wished me to handle. I asked leave of Major Drury, there¬ 
fore, that I might take the matter up, and he was, I fancy, 
very glad that I should, for he was at the end of his resources, 
and a public exposure of a disorganized unit means also a 
discredited Commander. I therefore sat behind the long mess 
table, and had the six ringleaders before me, all standing in a 
line with sullen mutiny in their faces. I talked to them 
gently and quietly, saying that I was in some sense responsible 
for them, since several of them had been enlisted by me. I 
sympathized with them in all they had gone through, and said 
that all our nerves had been a little overstrained, but that Duty 
and Discipline must rise above our bodily weakness. Ho 
doubt their superiors also had been strained and some allow¬ 
ance must be made on both sides. I then took a graver tone. 
“ This matter is just going forward for court martial and I 
have intervened at the last instant. You clearly understand 
your own position. You have disobeyed orders on active serv¬ 
ice in the presence of the enemy. There is only one punish¬ 
ment possible for such an offence. It is death.” Six pairs of 


176 Memories and Adventures 

eyes stared wildly in front of me. Having produced my effect 
I went into their grievances, promised that they should he 
considered, and demanded an apology to Major Drury as the 
condition for doing anything further. They were six chastened 
men who filed out of the marquee, the apology was forthcom¬ 
ing, and there were no more troubles in the camp. 

An anxiety came to us about this time from a very unex¬ 
pected cause, for Archie Langman, who had been my good 
comrade in my visit to the army, went off again, trekking 
up country with the Imperial Yeomanry and ran right into 
the arms of De Wet, who had just raided the line and won 
a small victory at a place called Roodeval. The famous guerilla 
leader was stern but just, and he treated the hospital men 
with consideration, so that Archie returned none the worse for 
his adventure. But there was a bad day or two for me between 
our learning of his capture and of his release. 

The army had got forward with little fighting, and Pre¬ 
toria was in our hands. It seemed to all of us that the cam¬ 
paign was over and that only cleaning-up remained to be done. 
I began to consider my own return to Europe, and there were 
two potent influences which drew me, apart from the fact 
that the medical pressure no longer existed. The first was that 
I had during all this time continued to write the History of 
the War, drawing my material very often from the eye-wit¬ 
nesses to these events. But there was a good deal which could 
only be got at the centre, and therefore if my book was to 
be ready before that of my rivals it was necessary for me to 
be on the spot. The second was that a political crisis and a 
general election were coming on, and it was on the cards that I 
might be a candidate. I could not, however, leave Africa until 
I had seen Pretoria, so, with some difficulty, I obtained leave 
and was off on the much-broken and precarious railway on 
June 22. 

That journey was certainly the strangest railway journey 
of my life. From minute to minute one never knew what 
would happen. I was in the good company of Major Hanbury 
Williams, Lord Milner’s Secretary, who allowed me to share 
his special carriage, and we had with us a little alert man 
named Amery, then unknown to fame, but now deservedly in 


Final Experiences in South Africa 111 

the seats of the mighty. There were others hut I have for¬ 
gotten them. When the train stopped in the middle of the 
veldt, which it continually did, one never knew whether it 
was for five minutes or for five hours, as did actually occur, 
and as it went on again without warning one had to sit tight. 
We met a down train with its windows shattered and heard 
that twenty folk had been injured in a Boer ambuscade. Every 
hour we expected to be attacked. Once during one of our long 
halts we saw a horseman come cantering over the great green 
expanse. We got out to see and interview him. He was a 
tall, slab-sided fellow, unarmed, hut with a rakish debonnaire 
look to him. He said he was a loyal British farmer, hut I 
had no doubt in my own mind that he was a Boer scout who 
wanted to see what our train was carrying. He sat easy in 
his saddle for some little time, chatting with us, and then 
suddenly wheeled his grey horse round and galloped away. 
Some way further down the line we saw a farm burning, and 
a fringe of our irregulars riding round it. I was told that 
it was one of De Wet’s farms and that it was a punishment 
for cutting the line. The whole scene might have been in the 
Middle Ages — say a company of Moss troopers on a raid over 
the English border. 

When we came to the place of the Boodeval disaster, where 
our Derbyshire militia had been sadly cut up by De Wet, the 
train had to stop, for the line was under repair, and we were 
able to go over the ground. The place was littered with shells 
for the heavy guns taken from some looted train. Then there 
were acres covered with charred or partly charred letters, blow¬ 
ing about in the wind, for De Wet had burned the mail bags 
— one of his less sportsmanlike actions. Hapoleon went one 
better, however, on a certain occasion when he published an 
intercepted British mail, which led to a British reprisal of 
the same sort, not at all conducive to the peace of families. I 
picked up one letter which fluttered up to me, and I read in 
rough handwriting, “ I hope you have killed all them Boers 
by now,” with many x (kisses) underneath. Among other 
things were some of the band instruments, across which De 
Wet had driven his heavy wagons. 

It gave me a strange thrill when I looked out early one 


178 


Memories and Adventures 


morning at a deserted platform and saw the word Pretoria 
printed upon a hoard. Here we were at last at the very 
centre of all things. The Transvaal Hotel was open and for 
several days it was my head-quarters while I examined men 
and things. One of my first tasks was to see Lord Roberts, who * 
desired to interview me on account of some sensational articles 
by Burdett-Coutts which had appeared in the London Press 
upon the state of the hospitals. Of course that state had in 
many cases, possibly in all, been awful, but the reason lay in 
the terrible and sudden emergency. Every one had done his 
best to meet it and had met it to a surprising degree, but cases 
of hardship were numerous all the same. This I explained to 
Lord Roberts — and also to the Royal Commission in London. 
As an unpaid independent volunteer my words may have had 
more weight than those of some far greater authority who 
was personally involved. I can see Roberts now as he sat 
behind a small desk in his room. His face looked red and 
engorged, but that was due no doubt to his life in the sun. He 
was urbane and alert, reminding me at once of our former 
meeting in London. His light blue eyes were full of intelli¬ 
gence and kindness, but they had the watery look of age. In¬ 
deed, I can hardly remember in all military history a case 
where a man over seventy had been called out from retirement 
to conduct so arduous a campaign, and it was his conception of 
the fine flank march to Paardeburg which had actually beaten 
the Boers, however long they might keep up appearances of 
resistance. We had a short vivid talk and I never saw him 
again until he came to my own house at Hindhead to inspect 
my rifle range in 1902. 

Of Lord Kitchener I saw nothing at Pretoria, but on one 
occasion a big man on a huge hay horse went past me at a 
hard gallop on the veldt and as he passed he waved his hand, 
and I knew it was the famous soldier. He had been under a 
cloud since Paardeburg, and indeed it is hard to see how his 
tactics can be justified, since he attacked the Boers and lost 
some 2,000 men, when they were headed off and were bound 
to surrender in any case. There may be reasons unknown to 
a civilian, but I have heard soldiers speak warmly about it, for 
some of the attackers were mounted troops who had to gallop 


Final Experiences in South Africa 179 

to the edge of the donga, and could do nothing when they got 
there. Colonel Hannay actually registered Some protest before 
obeying the orders in which he and many of his men met their 
death. However, it was to Kitchener that all men turned now 
when the organization of the lines of communication was the 
vital point, and that rather than actual battle was his forte. 
I have been told by some who have been in action with him 
that he became nervously restless and impatient in a fight, 
while Koberts, on the other hand, became cooler and more 
quiet the greater the danger grew. In organization, however, 
Kitchener w r as inhuman in his cool accuracy. “ Regret to 
report great dynamite explosion. Korty Kaffirs killed,” was 
the report of one officer. “ Do you need more dynamite ? ” 
was the answering telegram from Lord Kitchener. 

There was a bench outside my hotel on which a group of old 
bearded burghers used to smoke their pipes every day. I went 
down and sat among them with my Boer pipe filled with the 
best Magaliesburg. I said nothing, so soon they began to make 
advances, speaking excellent English in rough guttural fashion. 
Botha was not far from the town, and it was notorious that 
spies took him out the news every night. These old fellows 
were clearly a collecting station, so I thought it would be use¬ 
ful to give them something to ponder. After conversational re¬ 
marks one of them said: “ Tell us, Mister, when are we to have 
peace ? ” They were under the impression that the whole Brit¬ 
ish nation was longing for peace, and it was this which encour¬ 
aged the resistance. “ Oh,” said I, “ I hope not for a long 
time yet.” They all looked at each other, and then the spokes¬ 
man said: “ Why do you say that, Mister? ” “ Well, it’s this 

way,” said I. “ This country, you see, is going to be a British 
Colony. It would be very awkward for us to have a Colony 
which was full of dangerous men. We couldn’t kill them then, 
could we ? They would be fellow-citizens and under the law’s 
protection, the same as we. Our only chance is to kill them 
now, and that’s what we will do if we have the time.” The 
old fellows all grunted and puffed furiously at their pipes, but 
they could find no answer. Possibly some version of the mat¬ 
ter may have reached the point I was aiming at. 

Our longest excursion from Pretoria was to Waterval, 


180 Memories and Adventures 

whither Bennett Burleigh took me. in his Cape cart. Once we 
got quite close to a Boer patrol, about a dozen horsemen. Bur¬ 
leigh could not believe that they were actually the enemy until 
I pointed out that several of the horses were white, which 
was hardly ever known in our service. He then examined them 
with his glass, and found I was right. They were clearly on 
some quest of their own, for they took no notice of us, though 
they could easily have cut us off. Our drive took us to the 
great prison camp where so many British and Colonial sol¬ 
diers had a humiliating experience. The prisoners had only 
got free a week or two before, and the whole place, many acres 
in size, was covered with every sort of souvenir. I contented 
myself with a Boer carbine which had been broken by a British 
prisoner, a band triangle, a half-knitted sock, the knitting nee¬ 
dles being made from the barbed wire, and a set of leg fetters 
from the camp gaol. A tunnel had been bored just before the 
general delivery by some captive Hussars. It was a wonderful 
work, considering that it was done chiefly with spoons, and it 
had just been finished when relief came. I descended into it, 
and was photographed by Burleigh as I emerged. I daresay 
many of my friends have copies of it still, with my inscrip¬ 
tion : “ Getting out of a hole, like the British Empire.” 

I spent a day in Johannesburg, walking its deserted streets 
and seeing its great mines now dead or at least in suspended 
animation. I descended one of the deep mines, the Bobinson, 
but as the hoisting machinery was out of order, and we had 
to walk in darkness down hundreds (it seemed thousands) of 
slippery wooden steps, with buckets, which did the draining, 
clanking past one’s ear, it was certainly an over-rated amuse¬ 
ment. We got the usual tips as to which mines were going to 
boom — on all of which I acted, and all of which proved to be 
wrong. 

On July 4, after an uneventful journey, which proved in 
itself that our grip was tightening upon the country, I found 
myself back in the Langman Hospital again. Times were quiet 
there, though another of our poor orderlies had just died of 
erysipelas, which had broken out in the wards — not trau¬ 
matic erysipelas, but a variety which came without apparent 
cause. I mention the fact because enteric had been so universal 


Final Experiences in South Africa 181 

that there really seemed bo other disease, and this was the only 
appearance of any other ailment. If the army had all been 
inoculated, this would, I think, have been absolutely the 
healthiest war on record. Of surgical cases we had few, hut 
I remember one operation which is perhaps rather technical 
for discussion and yet stands out very clearly in my memory. 
It was performed upon the Dutch military attache with the 
Boers, who was picked up wounded and paralyzed after some 
engagement. A shrapnel bullet had broken one of his cervical 
vertehi’se, the hone pressed on the nerves, and they had ceased 
to function. Watson Cheyne of London was the operator. He 
had cut down on the hone with a free incision and was endea¬ 
vouring with a strong forceps to raise the broken arch of hone, 
when an amazing thing happened. Out of the great crimson 
cleft there rose a column of clear water 2 feet high, feathering 
at the top like a little palm tree, which gradually dwindled 
until it was only a few inches long, and finally disappeared. 
I had, I confess, no idea what it was, and I think many of the 
assembled surgeons were as taken aback as I was. The mys¬ 
tery was explained by Charles Gibbs, my mentor in such mat¬ 
ters, who said that the cerebro-spinal fluid, which is usually 
a mere moistening round the cord, had been greatly stimulated 
and increased by the pressure of the broken bone. It had 
finally distended the whole sheath. The forceps had punc¬ 
tured a small hole in the sheath and then the fluid had been 
pressed through and shot into the air as I had seen it. Per¬ 
haps the release was too sudden, for the patient died shortly 
after he was removed from the table. 

Charles Gibbs is still in practice, and senior surgeon of 
Charing Cross Hospital, but he will forgive me if I remind 
him that his pupil did once score over him. One of my enteric 
patients was obviously dying and kept murmuring that he 
would like some solid food. Of course the first law in treating 
enteric is, or was, that diet must be fluid, as the intestine is 
ulcerated and puncture of it means death by peritonitis. I said 
to Gibbs: “ Do you consider that this man is sure to die ? ” 
“ He is certainly as bad as he can be,” said Gibbs. “ Well 
then,” said I, “ I propose to give him a solid meal.” Gibbs 
shook his head and was shocked. “ It is a great responsibility 


182 


Memories and Adventures 

you take.” “ What’s the odds,” I'asked, “ if he has to die any¬ 
how ? ” “ Well, it’s just the difference whether you kill him 

or the disease does.” u Well, I’ll take the chance,” said I — 
and I did so. A year or so later I was attending a public meet¬ 
ing at Edinburgh when the following letter, which I copy 
from my book of curiosities, was handed up to me. 


128, Royal Road, 
Kennington Pabk, 

London, S.E. 
October 1, 1900. 


Sib,— 

As one who was under your care at Bloemfontein in “ Lang- 
man’s Hospital ” I hope you will forgive me in taking the lib¬ 
erty of wishing you success at Edinburgh. I am actuated in 
this not only by political principles but by the fact that I (and 
others) owe my life to your kindness and care. You may not 
remember me, Sir, but I can assure you the remembrance of 
you is written in my mind and can never be removed. Again 
wishing you success and hoping you will pardon this liberty, 

I remain, Sir, 

Yours obediently, 

(Pte.) M. Hanlon, C.I.V. 


M. Hanlon was my enteric patient and he had never looked 
back from the day he had that square meal. But I don’t say 
it was an example for the family practitioner to copy. 

On July 11 I went on board the Briton at Capetown and 
we sailed for England once more. I called upon Sir Alfred 
Milner before I left, and found him a very much older man 
than when only a few years before I had met him on the eve 
of his African experience. His hair was grizzled and his 
shoulders bowed, but his brave heart was as steadfast as ever, 
nor did it ever fail until his hard and thankless task was done. 
He made one error, I think, when he desired to keep South 
Africa under martial law when the war was over, but who 
could have done better, or as well, under the intolerable con¬ 
ditions which he had to face ? 

It was a remarkable passenger list on the Briton, and a very 


Final Experiences in South Africa 183 

joyous voyage. The Duke of Norfolk and his brother Lord 
Edward Talbot were two of the most cheery people on the ship. 
It was a weird sight to see the senior Baron of England and a 
lumpy Hollander sitting face to face on a spar, and slashing 
each other with bladders to see which could knock off the 
other. Blood told, if I remember right. Then there was Sir 
John Willoughby, of Jameson Raid fame, Lady Sarah Wilson 
from Mafeking, the Duke of Marlborough, Lady Arthur Gros- 
venor, the Hon. Ivor Guest and many famous soldiers. Espe¬ 
cially was I fortunate in my friendship with Eletcher Robin¬ 
son and with Nevinson, which was cemented by this closer 
association. Only one cloud marred the serenity of that golden 
voyage. There was a foreign officer on hoard, whose name I 
will not mention, who had been with the Boers and who talked 
with great indiscretion as to his experiences and opinions. He 
stated in my presence that the British had habitually used 
Dum-Dum bullets, on which I lost my temper and told him 
he was a liar. I must say that he behaved very well, for after 
thinking it over he saw that he was in the wrong and he sent 
down my friend Robinson to my cabin with a query as to 
whether I would accept an apology. I answered that I would 
not, since it was the army, and not me, which had been insulted. 
In an hour Robinson reappeared with the following letter, 
which ended what might have been a serious incident. 

Dear Sir,— 

Allow me to tell you that I regret lively what I said about 
expanding bullets — which I said but after hear saying evi¬ 
dence I request you to let everybody know that I strongly wish 
on the contrary that I desire to he on best terms with every 
Englishman and beg you for that to be my interpreter. 

Yours very truly. 

The first days of August saw me in London once more, and 
soon all that strange episode — the green expanse of the veldt, 
the flat-topped hills, the enteric wards — had become the vision 
of a dream. 


CHAPTER XIX 

AIT APPEAL TO THE WORLD’S OPINION 

Misrepresentation — A Sudden Resolve—Reginald Smith — A Week’s 
Hard Work — “The Cause and Conduct of the War” — Translations 
— German Letter — Complete Success — Surplus. 

O HE of the most pleasing and complete episodes in my life 
was connected with the pamphlet which I wrote upon 
the methods and objects of our soldiers in South Africa. It 
was an attempt to stem the extraordinary outbreak of defama¬ 
tion which had broken out in every country — or nearly every 
country, in Europe, and which had attained such a height that 
it really seemed that on this absolutely fictitious basis might be 
built up a powerful political combination which would involve 
us in a serious war. 

I can well remember the inception of my enterprise! The 
date was January 7, 1902. The day was a Tuesday. Sir 
Henry Thompson was holding that evening one of those charm¬ 
ing “ octave ” dinners at which it was my occasional privilege 
to attend, and I was going up to town from Hindhead to keep 
the engagement. Sitting alone in a carriage I read the foreign 
correspondence of “ The Times.” In a single column there 
were accounts of meetings in all parts of Europe — notably one 
of some hundreds of Rhineland clergymen — protesting against 
our brutalities to our enemies. There followed a whole col¬ 
umn of extracts from foreign papers, with grotesque descrip¬ 
tions of our barbarities. To any one who knew the easygoing 
British soldier or the character of his leaders the thing was 
unspeakably absurd; and yet, as I laid down the paper and 
thought the matter over, I could not but admit that these Con¬ 
tinental people were acting under a generous and unselfish 
motive which was much to their credit. How could they help 
believing those things, and, believing them was it not their 
duty by meeting, by article, by any means, to denounce them ? 
Could we accuse them of being credulous ? Would we not be 


An Appeal to the World’s Opinion 185 

equally so if all our accounts of any transaction came from one 
side, and were supported by such journalists and, above all, 
such artists as lent their pens and pencils, whether venally or 
not, to the Boer cause ? Of course we would. And whose fault 
was it that our side of the question was not equally laid before 
the jury of the civilized world ? Perhaps we were too proud, 
perhaps we were too negligent — but the fact was obvious that 
judgment was being given against us by default. How could 
they know our case ? Where could they find it ? If I were 
asked what document they could consult, what could I answer ? 
Blue-books and State papers are not for the multitude. There 
were books like Eitz-Patrick’s “ Transvaal from Within ” or 
E. T. Cook’s “ Bights and Wrongs but these were expensive 
volumes, and not readily translated. Nowhere could be found 
a statement which covered the whole ground in a simple fash¬ 
ion. Why didn’t some Briton draw it up ? And then like a 
bullet through my head, came the thought, “ Why don’t you 
draw it up yourself ? ” 

The next instant I was on fire with the idea. Seldom in my 
life have I been so conscious of a direct imperative call which 
drove every other thought from the mind. If I were a humble 
advocate, it was all the better, since I could have no axe to 
grind. I was fairly well posted in the facts already, as I had 
written an interim history of the war. I had seen something 
of the campaign, and possessed many documents which bore 
upon the matter. My plans widened every instant. I would 
raise money from the public and by the sale of the book at 
home. With this I would translate it into every language. 
These translations should be given away wholesale. Every 
professor, every clergyman, every journalist, every politician, 
should have one put under his nose in his own language. In 
future, if they traduced us, they could no longer plead igno¬ 
rance that there was another side to the question. Before I 
reached London all my programme was sketched out in my 
head. There was no item of it, I may add, which was not 
eventually carried through. 

Fortune was my friend. I have said that I was dining that 
night with Sir Henry Thompson. My neighbour at dinner 
was a gentleman whose name I had not caught. My mind be- 


186 Memories and Adventures 

ing full of the one idea, my talk soon came round to it, and 
instead of my neighbour being bored, my remarks were re¬ 
ceived with a courteous and sympathetic attention which caused 
me to make even greater demands upon his patience. Having 
listened from the soup to the savoury (often has my conscience 
rebuked me since), he ended hy asking me mildly how I pro¬ 
posed to raise the money for these wide-reaching schemes. I 
answered that I would appeal to the public. He asked me how 
much would suffice. I answered that I could make a start with 
£1,000. He remarked that it would take much more than that. 
“ However,” he added, “ if £1,000 would go any way towards 
it, I have no doubt that sum could he got for you.” “ From 
whom ? ” I asked. He gave me his name and address and said: 
“ I have no doubt that if you carry out the scheme on the lines 
you suggest, I could get the money. When you have done 
your work, come to me, and we will see how it is best to pro¬ 
ceed.” I promised to do so, and thanked him for his encour¬ 
agement. Sir Eric Barrington of the Foreign Office was the 
name of this fairy godfather. 

This was my first stroke of good luck. A second came next 
morning. I had occasion to call upon the publishing house of 
Smith, Elder & Co., over some other business, and during the 
interview I told Mr. Reginald Smith the plan that I had 
formed. Without a moment’s hesitation he placed the whole 
machinery of his world-wide business at my disposal, without 
payment of any kind. From that moment he became my part¬ 
ner in the enterprise, and I found his counsel at every stage of 
as great help to me as the publishing services which he so 
generously rendered. Hot only did he save heavy costs to the 
fund, but he arranged easily and successfully those complex 
foreign transactions which the scheme entailed. 

That morning I called at the War Office and was referred 
by them to the Intelligence Department, where every informa¬ 
tion which they possessed was freely put at my disposal. I 
then wrote to “ The Times ” explaining what I was trying to 
do, and asking those who sympathized with my object to lend 
me their aid. Never was an appeal more generously or rapidly 
answered. My morning post on the day after brought me 127 
letters, nearly all of which contained sums drawn from every 


An Appeal to the World’s Opinion 187 

class of the community, varying from the £50 of Lord Rose¬ 
bery to the half-crown of the widow of a private soldier. Most 
of the remittances were accompanied by letters which showed 
that, however they might pretend in public to disregard it, 
the attitude of the foreign critics had really left a deep and 
bitter feeling in the hearts of our people. 

It was on January 9 that I was able to begin my task. On 
the 17th I had finished it. When the amount of matter is con¬ 
sidered, and the number of researches and verifications which 
it entailed, I need not say that I had been absorbed in the work, 
and devoted, I dare say, sixteen hours a day to its accomplish¬ 
ment. So far as possible I kept my individual opinions in 
the background, and made a more effective case by marshalling 
the statements of eye-witnesses, many of them Boers, on the 
various questions of farm-burnings, outrages, concentration 
camps, and other contentious subjects. I made the comments 
as simple and as short as I could, while as to the accuracy of 
my facts, I may say that, save as to the exact number of farm¬ 
houses burned, I have never heard of one which has been seri¬ 
ously questioned. It was a glad day for me when I was able 
to lay down my pen with the feeling that my statement was as 
full and as effective as it was in me to make it. 

Meanwhile the subscriptions had still come steadily in, until 
nearly £1,000 more had been banked by the time that the 
booklet was finished. The greater number of contributions 
were in small sums from people who could ill afford it. One 
notable feature was the number of governesses and others resid¬ 
ing abroad whose lives had been embittered by their inability 
to answer the slanders which were daily uttered in their pres¬ 
ence. Many of these sent their small donations. A second 
pleasing feature was the number of foreigners resident in 
England who supported my scheme, in the hope that it would 
aid their own people to form a juster view. From Norwegians 
alone I received nearly £50 with this object. If Britain’s own 
children too often betrayed her at a crisis of her fate, she 
found at least warm friends among the strangers within her 
gates. Another point worth noting was that a disproportionate 
sum was from clergymen, which was explained by several of 
them as due to the fact that since the war began they had been 


188 Memories and Adventures 

pestered by anti-national literature, and took this means of 
protesting against it. 

The proofs having been printed, I sent them to my Foreign 
Office friend as I had promised, and presently received an 
invitation to see him. He expressed his approval of the work, 
and handed me a banknote for £500, at the same time explain¬ 
ing that the money did not come from him. I asked if I might 
acknowledge it as from an anonymous donor —“ The donor 
would not object,” said my friend. So I was able to head my 
list with “ A Loyal Briton,” who contributed £500. I daresay 
the Secret Service knew best whence the money came. 

By this time the banking account had risen to some two 
thousand pounds, and we were in a position to put our foreign 
translations in hand. The British edition had in the mean¬ 
time been published, the distribution being placed in the hands 
of Messrs. Uewnes, who gave the enterprise whole-hearted aid. 
The book was retailed at sixpence, but as it was our desire that 
the sale should be pushed it was sold to the trade at about 
threepence. The result was to leave the main profit of the 
enterprise in the hands of the retailer. The sale of the pam¬ 
phlet was very large — in fact, I should imagine that it ap¬ 
proached a record in the time. Some 250,000 copies were 
sold in Great Britain very quickly, and about 300,000 within 
a couple of months. This great sale enabled us to add con¬ 
siderably to the fund by the accumulation of the small rebate 
which had been reserved upon each copy. Our financial posi¬ 
tion was very strong, therefore, in dealing with the foreign 
translations. 

The French edition was prepared by Professor Sumichrast 
of Harvard University, who was a French-Canadian by birth. 
This gentleman patriotically refused to take any payment for 
his work, which was admirably done. It was published with¬ 
out difficulty by Galignani, and several thousands were given 
away where they would do most good, in France, Belgium, and 
Switzerland. Twenty thousand copies of this edition were 
printed. 

The German edition was a more difficult matter. Ho Ger¬ 
man publisher would undertake it, and the only courtesy 
which we met with in that country was from Baron von Tauch- 


An Appeal to the World’s Opinion 189 

nitz, who included the volume in his well-known English 
library. Our advances were met with coldness, and occasion¬ 
ally with insult. Here, for example, is a copy of an extreme 
specimen of the kind of letter received. 

January, 1902. 

Messes. Smith, Eedek & Co.,— 

Gent, — Doyle’s hook makes the impression as if it was 
ordered or influenced by the English Jingo party. 

How, you know, this English war party (as well as the Eng¬ 
lish officers and soldiers in Transvaal) are contempted by the 
whole civilised world as coward scoundrels and vile brutes who 
murder women and children. 

It would be for me, as an importer of English literature to 
Germany, Austria and Russia, in the highest degree imprudent 
to do anything that could awake the suspicion I was in connec¬ 
tion with so despised a party. 

I have shown your letter to several persons. Hobody was 
inclined to take up the matter. 

There is a mixture of venom and smugness about this epistle 
which gives it a high place in my collection. In spite of re¬ 
buffs, however, I found an Anglo-German publishing house in 
Berlin to undertake the work, and with the assistance of Herr 
Curt von Musgrave, who gave me an excellent translation, I 
was able to work off more than one very large edition, which 
had a perceptible effect in modifying the tone of that portion 
of the German press which was open to reason. Altogether 
20,000 copies were distributed in the Fatherland and German¬ 
speaking Austria. 

I remember one whimsical incident at this time. Some¬ 
what tired, after the book was in the press, I went down to 
Seaford for a rest. While there, a message reached me that a 
Pan-German officer of Landwehr had come over to London, 
and desired to see me. I wired that I could not come up, but 
that I should be happy to see him if he came down. Down he 
came accordingly, a fine, upstanding, soldierly man, speaking 
excellent English. The German proofs had passed through his 
hands, and he was much distressed by the way in which I had 
spoken of the hostility which his countrymen had shown us, 


190 Memories and Adventures 

and its effect upon our feelings towards them. We sat all day 
and argued the question out. His great point, as a Pan-Ger¬ 
man, was that some day both Germany and Britain would have 
to fight Russia — Britain for India, and Germany perhaps for 
the Baltic Provinces. Therefore they should keep in close 
touch with each other. I assured him that at the time the feel¬ 
ing in this country was much more bitter against Germany 
than against Russia. He doubted it. I suggested as a test 
that he should try the question upon any ’bus driver in London 
as a fair index of popular opinion. He was very anxious that 
I should modify certain paragraphs, and I was equally deter¬ 
mined not to do so, as I was convinced they were true. Finally, 
when he left me on his return to London he said, “ Well, I 
have come 800 miles to see you, and I ask you now as a final 
request that in the translation you will allow the one word 
‘Leider’ (‘Alas’) to be put at the opening of that para¬ 
graph.” I was perfectly ready to agree to this. So he got one 
word in exchange for 1,600 miles of travel, and I think it was 
a very sporting venture. 

One charming incident connected with this German transla¬ 
tion was that a small group of Swiss (and in no country had 
we such warm-hearted friends as among the minority in Swit¬ 
zerland) were so keen upon the cause that they had a transla¬ 
tion and an edition of their own, with large print and maps. 
It was published independently at Zurich, Dr. Angst, the Brit¬ 
ish Consul in that town, helping to organize it. Amongst other 
good friends who worked hard for the truth, and exposed 
themselves to much obloquy in doing so, were Professor Na- 
ville, the eminent Egyptologist of Geneva, and Monsieur Tali- 
chet, the well-known editor of the “ Bibliotheque Universelle ” 
of Lausanne, who sacrificed the circulation of his old-estab¬ 
lished magazine in upholding our cause. 

So much for the French and German editions. The Ameri¬ 
can and Canadian had arranged themselves. There remained 
the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, and Russian, all 
of which were rapidly prepared and circulated without a hitch, 
save that in the case of the Russian, which was published at 
Odessa, the Censor suppressed it at the last instant. We were 
successful, however, in getting his veto removed. In each of 


An Appeal to the World’s Opinion 191 

these countries several thousands of the booklet were given 
away. In every case we found a larger sale for these foreign 
editions than we expected, arising no doubt from the eagerness 
of English residents abroad to make their neighbours under¬ 
stand our position. 

The Dutch edition was a stumbling-block. This gallan! little 
nation felt a most natural sympathy for their kinsfolk in arms 
against us, and honestly believed that they had been very badly 
used. We should certainly have felt the same. The result was 
that we were entirely unable to find either publisher or dis¬ 
tributor. The greater the opposition the more obvious was 
the need for the book, so Mr. Reginald Smith arranged that 
a large edition should be printed here, and sent direct to all 
leaders of Dutch opinion. I believe that out of some 5,000 
copies not more than twenty were sent back to us. 

The Norwegian edition also presented some difficulties which 
were overcome by the assistance of Mr. Thomassen of the “ Ver- 
densgang.” This gentleman’s paper was entirely opposed to 
us, but in the interests of fair play he helped me to get my 
book before the public. I hope that some relaxation in his atti¬ 
tude towards us in his paper may have been due to a fuller 
comprehension of our case, and a realization of the fact that a 
nation does not make great sacrifices extending over years for 
an ignoble cause. One other incident in connection with the 
Norwegian edition is pleasant for me to recall. I had prefaced 
each Continental version with a special foreword, designed to 
arrest the attention of the particular people whom I was ad¬ 
dressing. In this case, when the book was going to press in 
Christiania, the preface had not arrived from the translator 
(the accomplished Madame Brockmann), and as she lived a 
hundred miles off, with all the passes blocked by a phenomenal 
snow-storm, it looked as if it must be omitted. Finally, how¬ 
ever, my short address to the Scandinavian people was helio- 
graphed across from snow-peak to snow-peak, and so found its 
way to the book. 

There was one other language into which the book needed 
to be translated, and that was the Welsh, for the vernacular 
press of the Principality was almost entirely pro-Boer, and 
the Welsh people had the most distorted information as to the 


192 Memories and Adventures 

cause for which their' fellow-countrymen fought so bravely in 
the field. The translation was done by Mr. W. Evans, and 
some 10,000 copies were printed for distribution through the 
agency of the Cardiff “ Western Mail.” This finished our 
labours. Our total output was 300;000 of the British edition, 
about 50,000 in Canada and the United States, 20,000 in Ger¬ 
many, 20,000 in France, 5,000 in Holland, 10,000 in Wales, 
8,000 in Hungary, 5,000 in Norway and Sweden, 3,500 in 
Portugal, 10,000 in Spain, 5,000 in Italy, and 5,000 in Russia. 
There were editions in Tamil and Kanarese, the numbers of 
which I do not know. In all, I have seen twenty different pre¬ 
sentments of my little hook. The total sum at our disposal 
amounted to about £5,000, of which, speaking roughly, half 
came from subscriptions and the other half was earned by the 
hook itself. 

It was not long before we had the most gratifying evidence 
of the success of these efforts. There was a rapid and marked 
change in the tone of the whole Continental press, which may 
have been a coincidence, hut was certainly a pleasing one. In 
the case of many important organs of public opinion there 
could, however, he no question of coincidence, as the arguments 
advanced in the booklet and the facts quoted were cited in their 
leading articles as having modified their former anti-British 
views. This was the case with the “ Tag’blatt,” of Vienna, 
whose London representative, Dr. Maurice Ernst, helped me 
in every way to approach the Austrian public. So it was also 
with the “National Zeitung” in Berlin, the “ Independance 
Beige ” in Brussels, and many others. In the greater number 
of cases, however, it was unreasonable to suppose that a journal 
would publicly eat its own words, and the best result for which 
we could hope was that which we often attained, an altered and 
less acrimonious tone. 

Mr. Reginald Smith and I now found ourselves in the very 
pleasant position of having accomplished our work so far as 
we could do it, and yet of having in hand a considerable sum 
of money. What were we to do with it ? To return it to sub¬ 
scribers was impossible, and indeed at least half of it would 
have to be returned to ourselves since it had been earned by 
the sale of the book. I felt that the subscribers had given me 


An Appeal to the World’s Opinion 193 

a free hand with the money,'to use it to the best of my judg¬ 
ment for national aims. 

Our first expense was in immediate connection with the ob¬ 
ject in view, for we endeavoured to supplement the effect of 
the booklet by circulating a large number of an excellent Aus¬ 
trian work, “ Recht und Unrecht im Burenkrieg,” by Dr. Fer¬ 
dinand Hirz. Six hundred of these were distributed where 
they might do most good. 

Our next move was to purchase half a dozen very handsome 
gold cigarette cases. On the hack of each was engraved, “ From 
Friends in England to a Friend of England.” These were dis¬ 
tributed to a few of those who had stood most staunchly by us. 
One went to the eminent French publicist, Monsieur Yves 
Guyot, a second to Monsieur Talichet of Lausanne, a third to 
Mr. Sumichrast, and a fourth to Professor Uaville. By a 
happy coincidence the latter gentleman happened to he in this 
country at the time, and I had the pleasure of slipping the small 
souvenir into his hand as he put on his overcoat in the hall of 
the Athemeum Club. I have seldom seen anyone look more 
surprised. 

There remained a considerable sum, and Mr. Reginald 
Smith shared my opinion that we should find some permanent 
use for it, and that this use should bring benefit to natives of 
South Africa. We therefore forwarded £1,000 to Edinburgh 
University, to be so invested as to give a return of £40 a year, 
which should be devoted to the South African student who ac¬ 
quitted himself with most distinction. There are many Afri¬ 
kander students at Edinburgh, and we imagined that we had 
hit upon a pleasing common interest for Boer and for Briton; 
hut I confess that I was rather amazed when at the end of the 
first year I received a letter from a student expressing his con¬ 
fidence that he would win the bursary, and adding that there 
could he no question as to his eligibility, as he was a full- 
blooded Zulu. 

The fund, however, was by no means exhausted, and we 
were able to make contributions to the Civilian Rifleman’s 
movement, to the Union Jack Club, to the Indian famine, to 
the Japanese nursing, to the Irish old soldiers’ institute, to the 
fund for distressed Boers, and to many other deserving objects. 


194 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

These donations varied from fifty guineas to ten. Finally we 
were left with a residuum which amounted to £309 Os. Mr. 
Reginald Smith and I sat in solemn conclave over this sum, 
and discussed how it might best be used for the needs of the 
Empire. The fourpence presented no difficulty, for we worked 
it off upon the crossing sweeper outside, who had helped to re¬ 
lieve Delhi. Nine pounds went in tobacco for the Chelsea 
veterans at Christmas. There remained the good round sum of 
£300. We bethought us of the saying that the safety of the 
Empire might depend upon a single shot from a twelve-inch 
gun, and we devoted the whole amount to a magnificent cup, 
to be shot for by the various ships of the Channel Squadron, 
the winner to hold it for a single year. The stand of the cup 
was from the oak timbers of the Victory, and the trophy itself 
was a splendid one in solid silver gilt. By the kind and 
judicious co-operation of Admiral Sir Percy Scott, the Inspec¬ 
tor of Target Practice, through whose hands the trophy passed 
to the Senior Admiral afloat, Sir Arthur Wilson, V.C., in 
command of the Channel Squadron, all difficulties were over¬ 
come and the cup was shot for that year, and has since pro¬ 
duced, I am told, great emulation among the various crews. 
Our one condition was that it should not be retained in the 
mess-room, but should be put out on the deck where the winning 
bluejackets could continually see it. I learn that the Exmouth 
came into Plymouth Harbour with the cup on the top of her 
fore turret. 

The one abiding impression left upon my mind by the whole 
episode is that our Government does not use publicity enough 
in stating and defending its own case. If a private individual 
could by spending £3,000 and putting in a month’s work make 
a marked impression upon the public opinion of the world, 
what could be done by a really rich and intelligent organiza¬ 
tion ? But the first requisite is that you should honestly have 
a just cause to state. Who is there outside England who really 
knows the repeated and honest efforts made by us to settle the 
eternal Irish question and hold the scales fair between rival 
Irishmen? We certainly do, as a great Frenchman said, “de¬ 
fend ourselves very badly.” If we let cases go by default how 
can we imagine that the verdict can be in our favour ? 


CHAPTER XX 


MY POLITICAL ADVENTURES 

Central Edinburgh — A Knock-out — The Border Burghs — Tariff Reform 
— Heckling — Interpolations — Defeat — Reflections. 

I HAVE twice stood for Parliament, though if anyone were 
to ask me my real reasons for doing so I should find it 
difficult to give them an intelligible answer. It certainly was 
from no burning desire to join that august assembly, for in 
each case I deliberately contested seats which every expert con¬ 
sidered to be impossible, and though on one occasion I very 
nearly proved the experts to he wrong, my action is none the 
less a sign that I had no great wish to he at the head of the 
poll, for other and easier seats had been offered me. In the 
case of Central Edinburgh, for which I stood in the 1900 
election, there may have been some sentimental call, for it 
was the section of the city where I was educated and where 
much of my boyhood was spent. It was said to be the premier 
Radical stronghold of Scotland, and to carry.it would be a fine 
exploit, for though I was a good deal of a Radical myself in 
many ways, I knew that it would be a national disgrace and 
possibly an imperial disaster if we did not carry the Boer War 
to complete success, and that was the real issue before the 
electors. 

I believe that Providence one way or another gets a man’s 
full powers out of him, but that it is essential that the man 
himself should co-operate to the extent of putting himself in 
the way of achievement. Give yourself the chance always. If 
it is so fated, you. will win through. If your path lies else¬ 
where, then you have got your sign through your failure. But 
do not put yourself in the position later in life of looking back 
and saying, “ Perhaps I might have had a career there had I 
tried.” Deep in my bones I felt that I was on earth for some 
big purpose, and it was only by trying that I could tell that 
the purpose was not political, though I could never imagine 


196 Memories and Adventures 

* i 

myself as fettered to a party or as thinking that all virtues lay 
with one set of men. ' 

My political work was not wasted. I stood in the two most 
heckling constituencies in Scotland, and through that odious 
and much-abused custom I gained a coolness on the platform 
and a disregard for interruption and clamour, which have stood 
me in good stead since. Indeed, I hold that it was to fashion 
me more perfectly for my ultimate work that I was twice 
passed through this furnace. I remember that once at Hawick 
my soldier brother came to see how I was getting on, and was 
struck by the effect which I had upon my audience. “ It would 
be strange, Arthur,” said he, “ if your real career should prove 
to be political and not literary.” “ It will be neither. It will 
be religious,” said I. Then we looked at each other in surprise 
and both burst out laughing. The answer seemed quite absurd 
and pointless, for no remote possibility of such a thing sug¬ 
gested itself. It was a curious example of that unconscious 
power of prophecy which is latent within us. 

I had hardly landed from South Africa when I flung myself 
into the Edinburgh contest. Mr. Cranston, later Sir Robert 
Cranston, a well-known citizen, was my chairman. When I 
arrived a small meeting was held, and I, a weary man, listened 
while it was gravely debated, with much weighing of pros and 
cons, what my view was to be on each of the vital questions. 
Einally it was all settled to their satisfaction and written down, 
preparatory to forming the election address. I had listened 
with some amusement, and when it was all over I said: “ Gen¬ 
tlemen, may I ask who is going to honour these promises that 
you are making ? ” “ Why, you, of course,” said they. “ Then 
I think it would be better if I made them,” said I, and, crum¬ 
pling up their document, I picked up a pen and wrote out my 
own views and my own address. It was well received and 
would have won the election against enormous odds — some 
thousands of votes at the last trial — were it not for a very 
unexpected intervention. 

Those who remember the election will bear me out that it 
was an exciting affair. My opponent was a Mr. Brown, a mem¬ 
ber of Nelson’s publishing firm, which had large works in the 
constituency. I was fresh from the scene of war and over- 


197 


My Political Adventures 

flowing with zeal to help the army, so I spared myself in no 
way. I spoke from barrels in the street or any other pedestal 
I could find, holding many wayside meetings Besides my big 
meetings in the evening, which were always crowded and up¬ 
roarious. There was nothing which I could have done and 
did not do. My opponent was not formidable, but I had against 
me an overwhelming party machine with its registered lists, 
and record of unbroken victory. It was no light matter to 
change the vote of a Scotsman, and many of them would as soon 
think of changing their religion. One serious mischance oc¬ 
curred. I was determined to do and say nothing which I did 
not heartily mean, and this united Ireland, North and South, 
for the first time in history. The Irish vote was considerable, 
so that this was important. The South quarreled with me be¬ 
cause, though I favoured some devolution, I was not yet con¬ 
verted to Home Rule. The North was angry because I was in 
favour of a Catholic University for Dublin. So I had no votes 
from Ireland. When I went down to hold a meeting in a hall 
in the Cowgate, which is the Irish quarter, I was told that it 
had been arranged to break my platform up. This seems to 
have been true, but fortunately I got on good human terms with 
my audience, and indeed moved some of them to tears, by tell¬ 
ing them of the meeting between the two battalions of the Royal 
Dublin Fusiliers at Ladysmith. So it happened that when a 
sinister-looking figure, a local horse-slaughterer, appeared on 
the edge of the stage, he was received in silence. He moved 
slowly across and said something about free speech. I felt that 
if I or my people were violent there would be a riot, so I sim¬ 
ply said: “ Trot along, sonny, trot along! ” He did trot along 
and disappeared on the other side of the stage. After the 
transit of this sinister star, and my temporary eclipse, all went 
well to the end. 

As the day of the election approached, it became more and 
more evident that I was getting dangerous, but I was knocked 
out — fortunately for myself, as I now discern — by a curious 
interference. There was an Evangelical fanatic named Plim- 
mer living at Dunfermline who thought it his special mission 
in life to keep Roman Catholic candidates out of Parliament. 
Therefore at the eleventh hour, the very night before the vot- 


198 Memories and Adventures 

ing, the whole district was placarded with big sheets to say that 
I was a Roman Catholic, that I had been educated by Jesuits, 
and in fact that my whole candidature was an attack upon 
Kirk and Covenant and Lesser Catechism and everything dear 
to the Scottish heart. It was very cleverly done, and of course 
this fanatic alone could not have paid the expenses, though I 
cannot believe that Mr. Brown knew anything of the matter. 
My unhappy supporters saw crowds of workmen reading these 
absurd placards and calling out, “ I’ve done with him! ” As 
it was I very narrowly missed the seat, being only beaten by a 
few hundred votes. The question of an appeal came along, 
but the‘thing was so clever that it really was difficult to han¬ 
dle, since it was true enough that I had been educated by Jesuits 
and yet absurdly untrue that this education influenced my 
present frame of mind. Therefore we had to leave it alone. 

Looking back, I am inclined to look upon Mr. Plimmer as 
one of the great benefactors of my life. He altered the points 
at the last moment and prevented me from being shunted on 
to a side-line which would perhaps have taken me to a dead 
end. I could never have been a party man, and there seems 
no place under our system for anyone else. At the moment 
I was a little sore, and I ’wrote a letter to the “ Scotsman ” 
which defined my religious position as it was then, and caused, 
I believe, no little comment. I had the following letter from 
Sir John Boraston, who was the party organizer. The first 
sentence refers to the possibility of lodging a legal protest. 

6 Great George Street, 
Westminster, 

London, S.W. 

October 18, 1900. 

Dear Dr. Doyee,— 

Probably your Edinburgh advisers are right, but it is un¬ 
doubtedly a misfortune that the perpetrators of attacks such 
as that which was made upon you should be allowed to go un¬ 
punished. 

Your fight was indeed a phenomenal one, and you have the 
consolation of knowing that if you did not actually win a seat 
for yourself, you did materially contribute to the Liberal 


My Political Adventures 199 

Unionist victories in two other Edinburgh constituencies — 
this is generally admitted. 

I am sure you will feel that your first entry into active politi¬ 
cal life promises a full measure of sufccess at no distant date, 
and I hope I may see you again before long to talk matters 
over. 

Yours very truly, 

(Sgd .) John Bokaston. 

I had no further urge to try political adventures, but when 
the Tariff Reform election of 1906 came round I felt that I 
should make some sacrifice for the faith that was in me. Mr. 
“ Tommy ” Shaw, as he was called — now Lord Shaw — was 
one of the most energetic Radicals in Scotland, and was reputed 
to be most firmly established in his seat, which was called 
“ The Border Burghs,” consisting of the small towns of Ha¬ 
wick, Galashiels and Selkirk, all of them engaged in the woollen 
trade, and all of them hard hit by German competition. It 
seemed to me that if there was a good field anywhere for Mr. 
Joseph Chamberlain’s views on a protective tariff it should 
be there, where an open market had caused such distress and 
loss. My reasoning was sound enough, but I had not reckoned 
upon the innate conservatism of the Scottish character, which 
cannot readjust its general principles to meet the particular 
case — a noble trait, but occasionally an unpractical one. 
Party politics are not a divine law, but simply a means to an 
end, Which must adjust itself as the end varies. 

This time I really expended a good deal of work as well ae 
money upon the attempt, for if .you stand for others besides 
yourself you have no choice but to work up to the last pound 
of steam. I might have added my neck to the other things 
which I risked, for in an endeavour to get into comradeship 
with the people I joined in what is known as the “ common¬ 
riding ” at Hawick, where a general holiday is proclaimed 
while the bounds of the common are ridden over and defined. 
Part of the proceedings was that each mounted man had to 
gallop full-split down the high road over a measured course 
of half a mile or so, the burghers lining the way and helping 
one by waving sticks and umbrellas. I was mounted on a hun- 


200 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

ter which I had never seen before, and which was full of spirit. 
Fortunately this monstrous yoad performance came off late in 
the afternoon, and I had taken some of the spirit out of him by 
our ride round the common. I do not profess to he a great 
horseman, and I certainly nearly made the acquaintance of the 
Hawick turnpike. Sooner or later some one will be killed at 
that game, and horses must be lamed every year. Afterwards 
an interminable ballad was recited with a sort of jingling 
chorus to which all who are near the reciter keep time with 
their feet. As it would seem unsympathetic not to join in, I 
also kept time with the rhythm, and was amused and amazed 
when I got hack to London to see in the papers that I had 
danced a hornpipe in public before the electors. Altogether I 
had no desire to face another Hawick common-riding. 

The trouble in dealing with a three-town constituency, each 
town very jealous of the others, is that whatever you do has 
to be done thrice or you give offence. I was therefore heartily 
sick of the preparation and only too pleased when the actual 
election came off. I thought then, and I think now, that a slid¬ 
ing tariff, if only as an instrument for bargaining, would be 
altogether to our interest in this country, and would possibly 
cause some of our rivals to cease closing their markets to us, 
while they freely use the open market which we present. I 
still think that Chamberlain’s whole scheme was an admirable 
one, and that it was defeated by a campaign of misrepresenta¬ 
tion and actual lying, in which Chinese labour and dear food 
played a chief part. I stood among the ruins of a dismantled 
factory in the Border Burghs and I showed how it had been 
destroyed by German competition, and how while we let their 
goods in free they were levying taxes on ours and spending the 
money so gained upon warships with which we might some day 
have to reckon. The answer to my arguments consisted largely 
of coloured cartoons of Chinamen working in chains in the 
mines of the Transvaal, and other nonsense of the sort. I 
worked very hard, so hard that on the last night of the election 
I addressed meetings in each of the three towns, which, as 
they are separated by many miles of hilly roads, is a feat never 
done, I understand, before or since. However, it was of no 
avail and I was beaten, though I believe I am right in saying 


201 


My Political Adventures 

that the party showed a less decrease of votes than in any con¬ 
stituency in Scotland. The 'thing which annoyed me most 
about the election was that my opponent, Tommy Shaw, only 
appeared once, so far as I remember, in the constituency, and 
did everything by deputy, so that I found myself like a boxer 
who is punching his rival’s second instead of himself all the 
time. I had the melancholy satisfaction of noting that the 
Radical chairman who was so engrossed in the wrongs of 
Chinamen in the Transvaal went into liquidation within a 
few months, giving as his reason the pressure of foreign com¬ 
petition in the woollen trade. 

It is a vile business this electioneering, though no doubt it 
is chastening in its effects. They say that mud-baths are 
healthy and purifying, and I can compare it to nothing else. 
This applies particularly, I think, to Scotland, where the art 
of heckling has been carried to extremes. This asking of ques¬ 
tions was an excellent thing so long as it was honest in its de¬ 
sire to know the candidate’s opinion upon a public measure. 
Rut the honest questions are the exception and the unfortunate 
man is baited by all sorts of senseless trick questions from mis¬ 
chievous and irresponsible persons, which are designed to an¬ 
noy him and make him seem foolish or ignorant. Some reform 
is badly needed in this matter. Often, after a speech of an 
hour, I had an hour of questions, one more absurd than an¬ 
other. The press records will show, I hope, that I held my 
own, for I knew my subject well, and by this time I had had a 
good schooling on the platform. Sometimes I countered heav¬ 
ily. I remember one robust individual coming down with a 
carefully prepared question which he shouted from the back 
of the hall. I had been speaking of retaliation in commercial 
tariffs, and his question was: “ Mister Candidate, how do you 
reconcile retaliation with the Sermon on the Mount ? ” I an¬ 
swered : “ We cannot in life always reach the highest ideals. 
Have you sold all and given to the poor ? ” The man was 
locally famous as having done nothing of the sort, and there 
was a howl of delight at my answer which fairly drove him out 
of the hall. 

There is a peculiar dry Scottish wit which is very effective 
when you get it on your side. I remember one solemn person 


202 Memories and Adventures 

who had a loaf on the end of a pole which he protruded to¬ 
wards me, as if it were a 'death’s-head, from the side box of 
the theatre in which I spoke. The implication was, I suppose, 
that I would raise the price of bread. It was difficult to ignore 
the thing and yet puzzling how to meet it, but one of my people 
in broad Doric cried: “ Tak’ it hame and eat it! ” which quite 
spoilt the effect. Usually these interpolations are delivered 
in a dreamy impersonal sort of voice. When, in talking of the 
Transvaal War, I said with some passion, “ Who is going to 
pay for this war ? ” a seedy-looking person standing against 
the side wall said, “ I’m no’ carin’! ” which made both me and 
the audience laugh. Again I remember my speech being 
quite interrupted by a joke which was lost upon me. I had 
spoken of the self-respect and decent attire of American factory 
hands. “ Gang and look at Broon’s,” said the dreamy voice. 
I have never yet learned whether Brown’s factory was famous 
for tidiness or the reverse, but the remark convulsed the audi¬ 
ence. 

The Radicals used to attend my meetings in great numbers, 
so that really, I think, they were often hostile audiences which 
I addressed. Since their own candidate held hardly any 
meetings I was the only fun to be had. Before the meeting the 
packed house would indulge in cries and counter-cries with 
rival songs and slogans, so that as I approached the building 
it sounded like feeding-time at the Zoo. My heart often sank 
within me as I listened to the uproar, and I would ask myself 
what on earth I meant by placing myself in such a position. 
Once on the platform, however, my fighting blood warmed up, 
and I did not quail before any clamour. It was all a great 
education for the future, though I did not realize it at the 
time, but followed blindly where some strange inward in¬ 
stinct led me on. What tired me most was the personal liberties 
taken by vulgar people, which is a very different thing from 
poor people, whom I usually find to be very delicate in their 
feelings. I take a liberty with no man, and there is something 
in me which rises up in anger if any man takes a liberty with 
me. A candidate cannot say all he thinks on this matter, or 
his party may suffer. I was always on my guard lest I should 
give offence in this way, and I well remember how on one occa- 


My Political Adventures 203 

sion I stood during a three days’ campaign a good many in¬ 
dignities with exemplary patience. I was on edge, however, 
and as luck would have it, at the very last moment, as I stood 
on the platform waiting for the London train, one of my own 
people, an exuberant young bounder, came up with a loud 
familiar greeting and squeezed my right hand until my signet 
ring nearly cut me. It opened the sluice and out came a tor¬ 
rent of whaler language which I had hoped that I had long 
ago forgotten. The blast seemed to blow him bodily across 
the platform, and formed a strange farewell to my supporters. 

Thus ended my career in politics. I could say with my friend 
Kendrick Bangs: “ The electors have returned me — to the 
bosom of my family.” A very pleasant constituency it is. I 
had now thoroughly explored that path, and had assured my¬ 
self that my life’s journey did not lie along it. And yet I 
was deeply convinced that public service was waiting for me 
somewhere. One likes to feel that one has some small practical 
influence upon the affairs of one’s time, hut I encourage myself 
by the thought that though I have not been a public man, yet 
my utterances in several pamphlets and numerous letters in 
the Press, may have had more weight with the public since I 
was disassociated from any political interest which could sway 
my judgment. 


CHAPTER XXI 


THE TEAKS BETWEEN THE WARS 

“History of the War”—Sir Oliver Lodge — Military Arguments—“Sir 
Nigel ”— The Edalji Case -— Crowborough — The Oscar Slater Case. 

W HEN I returned from South Africa, I found that my 
wife had improved in health during her stay at Naples, 
and we were able to settle down once more at Hindhead, where, 
what with work, cricket, and hunting, I had some pleasant 
years. A few pressing tasks were awaiting me, however. Be¬ 
sides the barren contest at Edinburgh I had done a history of 
the war, hut the war still continued, and I had to modify it 
and keep it up to date in successive editions, until in 1902 it 
took final shape. I called it “ The Great Boer War,” not be¬ 
cause I thought the war “ great ” in the scale of history, but 
to distinguish it from the smaller Boer War of 1881. It had 
the good fortune to please both friend and foe, for there was 
an article from one of the Boer leaders in “ Cornhill ” com¬ 
mending its impartial tone. It has been published now by 
Nelson in a cheap edition, and shows every sign of being the 
permanent record of the campaign. No less than £27,000 was 
spent upon an Official History, but I cannot find that there 
was anything in it which I had not already chronicled, save 
for those minute details of various forces which clog a narra¬ 
tive. I asked the chief official historian whether my book had 
been of use to him, and he very handsomely answered that it 
had been the spine round which he built. 

This history, which is a large-sized book, is not to be con¬ 
fused with the pamphlet “ The Cause and Conduct of the War 
in South Africa,” which was a small concise defence of the 
British position. The inception and result of this I have 
already described. I have no doubt that it was to the latter 
that my knighthood, and my appointment as Deputy-Lieutenant 
of Surrey, both of which occurred in 1902, were due. 

I remember that on going down to Buckingham Palace to 


The Years Between the Wars 205 

receive the accolade, I found' that all who were waiting for 
various honours were herded into funny little pens, according 
to their style and degree, there to await their turn. It chanced 
that Professor Oliver Lodge, who was knighted on the same 
morning, was penned with me, and we plunged at once into 
psychic talk, which made me forget where I was, or what I was 
there for. Lodge was really more advanced and certain in his 
views than I was at that time, hut I was quite sure about the 
truth of the phenomena, and only doubtful whether some alter¬ 
native explanation might be found for a discarnate intelligence 
as the force at the back of them. This possibility I weighed for 
years before the evidence forced me to the Spiritist conclusion. 
But when, among the cloud of lies with which we are constantly 
girt, I read that Lodge and I were converted to our present 
views by the death of our respective sons, my mind goes hack 
very clearly to that exchange of thought in 1902. At that 
time we had both studied the subject for many years. 

Am ong the many congratulations which I had on my knight¬ 
hood there were few which I valued more highly than that of 
my old comrade, H. A. Gwynne, who knew so much about 
South African affairs. He was good enough to say: “ I look 
upon your work during this terrible South African business as 
quite equal to that of a successful general.” This may well be 
the exaggeration of friendship, but it is at least pleasing to 
know that those who were in a position to judge did not look 
upon me as a mere busybody who butts in without due cause. 

There is one incident at this period which comes back to 
my memory, and seems very whimsical. I had taken a course 
of muscular development with Mr. Sandow, the strong man, 
and in that way had formed an acquaintance with him. In 
the winter of 1901 Mr. Sandow had a laudable desire to do 
something for the British wounded, and with that idea he an¬ 
nounced a competition at the Albert Hall. He was himself to 
show feats of strength and then there was to be a muster of 
strong men who should exhibit their proportions and receive 
prizes. There were to be three prizes,-a golden statue about 
two feet high, a silver replica, and a bronze. Sandow asked 
Lawes the sculptor and myself to be the two judges, he being 
referee. 


206 Memories and Adventures 

• i 

It proved to be a very big event. The Albert Hall was 
crowded. There were eighty competitors, each of whom had 
to stand on a pedestal, arrayed only in a leopard’s skin. Lawes 
and I put them up ten at a time, chose one here and one there, 
and so gradually reduced the number until we only had six 
left. Then it became excessively difficult, for they were all per¬ 
fectly developed athletes. Finally the matter was simplified 
by three extra prizes, and then we got down to the three win¬ 
ners, but had still to name their order, which was all-important 
since the value of the three prizes was so very different. The 
three men were all wonderful specimens, but one was a little 
clumsy and another a little short, so we gave the valuable gold 
statue to the middle one, whose name was Murray, and who 
came from Lancashire. The vast audience was very patient 
during our long judgment, and showed that it was in general 
agreement. After the meeting Sandow had invited the prize¬ 
winners, the judges and a chosen company to a late supper, 
which was very sumptuous, with champagne flowing freely. 
When we had finished it was early in the morning. As I left 
the place of banquet I saw in front of me the winning athlete 
going forth into the London night with the big golden statue 
under his arm. I had seen that he was a very simple country¬ 
man, unused to London ways, so I overtook him and asked him 
what his plans were. He confided to me that he had no money, 
but he had a return ticket to Bolton or Blackburn, and his idea 
was to walk the streets until a train started for the iSTorth. It 
seemed to me a monstrous thing to allow him to wander about 
with his treasure at the mercy of any murderous gang, so I 
suggested that he should come back, with me to Morley’s Hotel, 
where I was residing. We could not get a cab, and it seemed 
to me more grotesque than anything of Steven’s London im¬ 
aginings, that I should be wandering round at three in the 
morning in the company of a stranger who bore a great golden 
statue of a nude figure in his arms. When at last we reached 
the hotel I told the night porter to get him a room, saying at 
the same time, “Mind you are civil to him, for he has just 
been declared to be the strongest man in England.” This went 
round the hotel, and I found that in the morning he held quite 
a reception, all the maids and waiters paying homage while he 


The Years Between the Wars 207 

lay in bed with bis statue beside him. He asked my advice as 
to selling it, for it was of considerable value and seemed a 
white elephant to a poor man. I told him he should open a 
gymnasium in his native town and have the statue exhibited 
as an advertisement. This he did, and I believe he has been 
very successful. 

A post-African task was the building up of rifle clubs, for 
I was enormously impressed by the power of the rifle as shown 
in the recent war. A soldier was no longer a specialized crea¬ 
ture, but every brave man who could hold a rifle-barrel straight 
was a dangerous man. I founded the Undershaw Club, which 
was the father of many others, and which was inspected by 
Lord Roberts, Mr. Seeley and other great men. Within a year 
or two England was dotted with village clubs, though I fear 
that few of them still hold their own. 

I was so struck by the factors in modern warfare and I had 
thought so much about them in Africa that I wrote about them 
with some freedom and possibly even with some bitterness, so 
that I speedily found myself involved in hot controversy with 
Colonel Lonsdale Hale, “ The Times ” expert, and also with 
Colonel Maude, a well-known military writer. Perhaps as a 
civilian I should have expressed my views in a more subdued 
way, but my feelings had been aroused by the conviction that 
the lives of our men, and even the honour of our country, had 
been jeopardized by the conservatism of the military and that 
it would so happen again unless more modern views prevailed. 
I continued to advance my theories for the next ten years, 
and I have no doubt, when I judge them by the experience of 
the Great War, that in the main I was right. The points 
which I made were roughly as follows: 

That the rifle (or machine-gun, which is a modified rifle) is 
the supreme arbiter in war, and that therefore everything must 
be sacrificed to concentrate upon that. 

That the only place for swords, lances and all the frippery 
of the past was a museum. Bayonets also are very question¬ 
able. 

That cavalry could not divide their allegiance between rifle 
and sword since entirely different ground and tactics are needed 
for each, the swordsman looking for level sward, the rifleman 


208 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

looking for cover. Therefore all cavalry should at once be¬ 
come Mounted Rifles. x 

That the very heaviest guns of our fortresses or battleships 
would he transported by road and used in the field in our next 
campaign. 

That field guns must take cover exactly as riflemen do. 

That the Yeomanry, a very expensive force, should be turned 
into a Cyclist organization. 

In view of the fine work done by the Yeomanry, especially 
in the Eastern deserts, I should reconsider the last item, and 
the bayonet question is debatable, but all the rest will stand. 
I stressed the fact also that the period of military training is 
placed too high, and that an excellent army could be rapidly 
vamped up if you had the right men. This also was proved by 
the war. 

I remember a debate which I attended as to the proper arms 
and use of cavalry. The cavalry were there in force, all man¬ 
ner of gallant fellows, moustached and debonnaire, inclined to 
glare at those who would disarm them. Sir Taubman-Goldie 
was in the chair. Three of us, all civilians, upheld the un¬ 
popular view that they should lose all their glory and become 
sombre but deadly riflemen. It is curious now to record that 
the three men were Erskine Childers, Lionel Amery and my¬ 
self. Childers was shot at dawn as a traitor to Ireland as well 
as to Britain, Amery became First Lord of the Admiralty, 
and I write this memoir. I remember Amery’s amusing 
comparison when he twitted the cavalry with wishing to re¬ 
tain the arme blanche simply because their Continental an¬ 
tagonists would have it. “ If you fight a rhinoceros,” he 
said, “ you don’t want to tie a horn on your nose.” It is an 
interesting commentary upon this discussion that on one morn¬ 
ing during the war there were duels between two separate squad¬ 
rons of British and German cavalry. The first two squad¬ 
rons, who were Lancers, rode through each other’s ranks twice 
with loss on either side and no conclusive result. In the second 
case German Lancers charged British Hussars, who dis¬ 
mounted, used their carbines, and simply annihilated the small 
force which attacked them. 

When my immediate preoccupations after the war had been 


The Years Between the Wars 209 

got rid of, I settled down to attempt some literary work upon 
a larger and more ambitious scale than the Sherlock Holmes or 
Brigadier Gerard stories which had occupied so much of my 
time. The result was “ Sir Nigel,” in which I reverted to the 
spacious days of the “ White Company,” and used some of the 
same characters. “ Sir Nigel ” represents in my opinion my 
high-water mark in literature, and though that mark may he on 
sand, still an author knows its comparative position to the 
others. It received no particular recognition from critics or 
public, which was, I admit, a disappointment to me. In Eng¬ 
land versatility is looked upon with distrust. You may write 
ballad tunes or you may write grand opera, hut it cannot be 
admitted that the same man may be master of the whole musi¬ 
cal range and do either with equal success. 

In 1906 my wife passed away after the long illness which 
she had borne with such exemplary patience. Her end was 
painless and serene. The long fight had ended at last in defeat, 
but at least we had held the vital fort for thirteen years after 
every expert had said that it was untenable. For some time 
after these days of darkness I was unable to settle to work, 
until the Edalji case came suddenly to turn my energies into 
an entirely unexpected channel. 

It was in the year 1907 that this notorious case took up much 
of my time, but it was not wasted, as it ended, after much 
labour, in partially rectifying a very serious miscarriage of 
justice. The facts of the case were a little complex and became 
more so as the matter proceeded. George Edalji was a young 
law student, son of the Reverend S. Edalji, the Parsee Vicar 
of the parish of Great Wyrley, who had married an English 
lady. How the Vicar came to be a Parsee, or how a Parsee 
came to be the Vicar, I have no idea. Perhaps some Catholic- 
minded patron wished to demonstrate the universality of the 
Anglican Church. The experiment will not, I hope, be re¬ 
peated, for though the Vicar was an amiable and devoted man, 
the appearance of a coloured clergyman with a half-caste son 
in a rude, unrefined parish was bound to cause some regrettable 
situation. 

But no one could have foreseen how serious that situation 
would become. The family became the butt of certain mali- 


210 Memories and Adventures 

*« 

cions wags in the neighbourhood and were bombarded with 
anonymous letters, some of them of the most monstrous de¬ 
scription. There was worse, however, to come. A horrible 
epidemic of horse-maiming had. broken out, proceeding evi¬ 
dently from some blood-lusting lunatic of Sadie propensities. 
These outrages continued for a long time, and the local police 
were naturally much criticized for doing nothing. It would 
have been as well had they continued to do nothing, for they 
ended by arresting George Edalji for the crime, the main evi¬ 
dence being that there were signs that the writer of the anony¬ 
mous letters knew something about the crimes, and that it was 
thought that young Edalji had written the anonymous letters 
which had plagued his family so long. The evidence was in¬ 
credibly weak, and yet the police, all pulling together and 
twisting all things to their end, managed to get a conviction 
at the Stafford Quarter Sessions in 1903. The prisoner was 
sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude. 

There were some murmurs among discerning people at the 
time, and Mr. Voules, of “ Truth,” has an honourable record 
for having kept some sort of agitation going, but nothing prac¬ 
tical was done until the unhappy youth had already served 
three years of his sentence. It was late in 1906 that I chanced 
to pick up an obscure paper called “ The Umpire,” and my 
eye caught an article which was a statement of his case, made 
by himself. As I read, the unmistakable accent of truth forced 
itself upon my attention and I realized that I was in the pres¬ 
ence of an appalling tragedy, and that I was called upon to do 
what I could to set it right. I got other papers on the case, 
studied the original trial, went up to Staffordshire and saw 
the family, went over the scene of the crimes and finally wrote 
a series of articles on the case, which began in the “ Daily 
Telegraph” of January 12, 1907. As I bargained that they 
should be non-copyright they were largely transferred to other 
papers, sold for a penny at street-curbs and generally had a 
very wide circulation, so that England soon rang with the 
wrongs of George Edalji. 

These wrongs would have been almost comic had they not 
had so tragic an upshot. If the whole land had been raked, 
I do not think that it would have been possible to find a man 


The Years Between the Wars 211 

who was so unlikely, and indeed so incapable, of committing 
such actions. He was of irreproachable character. Nothing 
in his life had ever been urged against him. His old school¬ 
master with years of experience testified to his mild and tract¬ 
able disposition. He had served his time with a Birming¬ 
ham solicitor, who gave him the highest references. He had 
never shown traits of cruelty. He was so devoted to his work 
that he had won the highest honours in the legal classes, and 
he had already at the age of twenty-seven written a book upon 
Railway Law. Finally he was a total abstainer, and so blind 
that he was unable to recognize any one at the distance of six 
yards. It was clear that the inherent improbability of such 
a man committing a long succession of bloody and brutal 
crimes was so great that it could only be met by the suggestion 
of insanity. There had never, however, been any indication 
even of eccentricity in George Edalji. On the contrary, his 
statements of defence were measured and rational, and he had 
come through a series of experiences which might well have 
unhinged a weaker intellect. 

The original theory at the trial had been that Edalji had 
committed the particular mutilations with which he was 
charged some time in the evening. This line of attack broke 
down completely, and he was able to advance a certain alibi. 
In the middle of the case, therefore, the police prosecution 
shifted its ground and advanced the new theory that it was 
done in the early hours of the morning. George Edalji, as it 
happened, slept in the same room as his father, the parish vicar. 
The latter is a light sleeper and is accustomed, as many people 
are, to assure privacy by turning the key of his room. He 
swore that George never left the room during the night. This 
may not constitute an absolute alibi in the eye of the law, but 
it is difficult to imagine anything nearer to one unless a sentinel 
had been placed outside the door all night. It is so near an 
alibi that nothing but the most cogent considerations could 
shake it, but far from there being any such considerations, the 
case was such a thing of threads and patches that one cannot 
imagine how any sane jury could have accepted it, even though 
the defence was weakly conducted. So bad was this defence 
that in the whole trial no mention, so far as I could ascertain, 


212 Memories and Adventures 

*« 

was ever made of the fact that the man was practically blind, 
save in good light, while between his house and the place where 
the mutilation was committed lay the full breadth of the Lon¬ 
don and North-Western Railway, an expanse of rails, wires 
and other obstacles, with hedges to be forced on either side, 
so that I, a strong and active man, in broad daylight found it 
a hard matter to pass. 

What aroused my indignation and gave me the driving force 
to carry the thing through was the utter helplessness of this 
forlorn little group of people, the coloured clergyman in his 
strange position, the brave blue-eyed, grey-haired wife, the 
young daughter, baited by brutal boors and having the police, 
who should have been their natural protectors, adopting from 
the beginning a harsh tone towards them and accusing them, 
beyond all sense and reason, of being the cause of their own 
troubles and of persecuting and maligning themselves. Such 
an exhibition, sustained, I am sorry to say, by Lord Gladstone 
and all the forces of the Home Office, would have been incredi¬ 
ble had I not actually examined the facts. 

The articles caused a storm of indignation through the coun¬ 
try. “ Truth,” Sir George Lewis and other forces joined in 
the good work. A committee was formed by the Government 
to examine and report. It consisted of Sir Arthur Wilson, the 
Hon. John Lloyd Wharton and Sir Albert de Rutzen. Their 
finding, which came to hand in June, was a compromise docu¬ 
ment, for though they were severe upon the condemnation of 
Edalji and saw no evidence which associated him with the 
crime, they still clung to the theory that he had written the 
anonymous letters, that he had therefore been himself con¬ 
tributory to the miscarriage of justice, and that for this reason 
all compensation for his long period of suffering should be de¬ 
nied him. 

It was a wretched decision, and the Law Society at the 
prompting of Sir George Lewis' showed what they thought of 
it by at once readmitting Edalji to the roll of solicitors with 
leave to practise, which they would never have done had they 
thought him capable of dishonourable conduct. But the result 
stands. To this day this unfortunate man, whose humble fam¬ 
ily has paid many hundreds of pounds in expenses, has never 


The Years Between the Wars 213 

been able to get one shilling of Compensation for the wrong done. 
It is a blot npon the record of English Justice, and even now 
it should be wiped out. It is to be remembered that the man 
was never tried for writing the letters — a charge which could 
not have been sustained — so that as 'the matter stands he has 
got no redress for three years of admitted false imprisonment, 
on the score that he did something else for which he has never 
been tried. What a travesty of Justice! The “ Daily Tele¬ 
graph ” got up a subscription for him which ran to some £300. 
The first use that he made of the money was to repay an old 
aunt who had advanced the funds for his defence. He .came 
to my wedding reception, and there was np guest whojn I was 
prouder to see. 

So far, my work had been satisfactory. Where I caused 
myself great trouble-was that in my local exploration at Wyr- 
ley I had come across what seemed to me a very direct clue 
as to both the writer, or rather writers, of the letters, and also 
of the identity of the mutilator — though the latter word may 
also’have been in the plural. I became interested, the more so 
as the facts were very complex and I had to do with people 
who were insane as well as criminal. I have several letters 
threatening my life in the same writing as those.which assailed 
the Edaljis — a fact which did no’t appear to shake in the 
least the Home Office conviction that George Edalji had writ¬ 
ten them all. Mentally I began to class the Home Office offi¬ 
cials as insane also. The sad fact is that officialdom in Eng¬ 
land stands solid together, and that when you are forced to 
attack it you need not expect justice, but rather that you are 
up against an unavowed Trade Union the members of which 
are not going to act the blackleg to each other, and which sub¬ 
ordinates the public interest to a false idea of loyalty. What 
confronts you is a determination to admit nothing which incul¬ 
pates another official, and as to the idea of punishing another 
official for offences which have caused misery to helpless vic¬ 
tims, it never comes within their horizon. Even now, after 
the lapse of so' many years, I can hardly think with patience 
of the handling of this case. 

The mistake that I made, so far as my own interests were 
concerned, was that having got on the track of the miscreant 


214 Memories and Adventures 

I let tlie police and the Home Office know my results before 
they were absolutely completed. There was a strong primd 
facie case, but it needed the goodwill and co-operation of the 
authorities to ram it home. That co-operation was wanting, 
which was intelligible, in the case of the local police, since it 
traversed their previous convictions and conclusions, but was 
inexcusable in the Home Office. The law officers of the Crown 
upheld their view that there was not a primd facie case, hut 
I fear that consciously or unconsciously the same trade union 
principle was at work. Let me briefly state the ease that the 
public may judge. I will call the suspect “ X.” I was able to 
show: 

1. That “ X ” had shown a peculiar knife or horse-lancet 
to some one and had stated that this knife did the crimes. I 
had this knife in my possession. 

2. That this knife or a similar knife must have been used in 
some of the crimes, as shown by the shallow incision. 

3. That “ X ” had been trained in the slaughter-yard and 
the cattle-ship, and was accustomed to brutal treatment of ani¬ 
mals. 

4. That he had a clear record both of anonymous letters and 
of destructive propensities. 

5. That his writing and that of his brother exactly fitted 
into the two writings of the anonymous letters. In this I had 
strong independent evidence. 

6. That he had shown signs of periodical insanity, and that 
his household and bedroom were such that he could leave un¬ 
seen at any hour of the night. 

There were very many corroborative evidences, but those 
were the main ones, coupled with the fact that when “ X ” 
was away for some years the letters and outrages stopped, but 
began again when he returned. On the other hand, when 
Edalji was put in prison the outrages went on the same as 
before. 

It will hardly be believed that after I had laid these facts 
before the Home Office they managed to present the House 
of Commons with the official legal opinion that there was not 
a primd facie case, while a high official of the Government said 
to me: “ I see no more evidence against these two brothers than 


The Years Between the Wars 215 

against myself and tny brother.” The points I mention are 
taken from the paper I laid before the law officers of the Crown, 
which lies before me as I Write, so the facts are exactly as 
stated. 

I had one letter in sorrow and also in anger from the 
Staffordshire police cojnplaining that I should be libelling 
this poor ‘young man whose identity could easily be estab¬ 
lished. 

I do not know what has become of “ X ” or how often he 
has been convicted since, but on the last occasion of which I 
have notes the magistrate said in condemning him to six 
months’ .imprisonment with hard labour: “ His character was 
extremely bad, he having been convicted of arson, of stealing 
on three occasions and of damage. On his own confession he 
had committed a .deliberate and cruel theft from his aged 
mother and it was impossible to overlook the seriousness of the 
case.” So much for the inoffensive youth whom I had libelled! 
But what about Edalji’s three years of gaol? 

On September 18, 1907, I married Miss Jean Leckie, the 
younger daughter of a Blackheath family whom I had known 
for years, and who was a dear friend of my mother and sister. 
There are some things which one feels too intimately to be able 
to express, and I can only say that the years have passed 
without one shadow coming to mar even for a moment the 
sunshine of my Indian summer which now deepens to a golden 
autumn. She and my three younger children with the kindly 
sympathy of my two elder ones have made my home an ideally 
happy one. 

My wife’s people had a house at Crowborough, and there 
they had gone to reside. As they were very attached I thought 
it w T ould he a happy arrangement not to separate them, so I 
bought a house close by, named “ Windlesham.” As I paid 
for it by a sum of money which I recovered after I had been 
unjustly defrauded of it, my friends suggested “ Swindlesham ” 
as a more appropriate name. Thus it came about that in 1907 
I left Undershaw, Hindhead, after ten years’ residence, and 
moved myself and my belongings to the highlands of Sussex, 
where I still dwell in the few months of settled life which 
give me a rest between my wanderings. 


216 Memories and Adventures 

Very soon after my marriage, having just got clear of the 
Edalji case, I became entangled in that of Oscar Slater. The 
one was in a way the cause of the other, for since I was gen¬ 
erally given credit for having got Edalji out of his troubles, 
it was hoped by those who believed that Slater’s condemnation 
was a miscarriage of justice that I might be able to do the 
same for him. I went into the matter most reluctantly, but 
when I glanced at the facts, I saw that it was an even worse 
case than the Edalji one, and that this unhappy man had in 
all probability no more to do with the murder for which he 
had been condemned than I had. I am convinced that when 
on being convicted he cried out to the judge that he never 
knew that such a woman as the murdered woman existed he 
was speaking the literal truth. 

In one respect the Oscar Slater case was not so serious as 
the Edalji-one, because Slater was not a very desirable mem¬ 
ber of society. He had never, so far as is known, been in 
trouble as a criminal, but he was a gambler and adventurer 
of uncertain morals and dubious ways — a German Jew by 
extraction, living under an alias. Edalji, on the other hand, 
was a blameless youth. But in another aspect Slater’s case 
was Worse than that of Edalji, since the charge was murder. 
He was very nearly hanged, and finally the life sentence was 
actually carried out, so 'that the wrong was never righted and 
at the present moment the unfortunate man is in gaol. It 
is a dreadful blot upon the administration of justice in Scot¬ 
land, and such judicial crimes are not, I am convinced, done 
with impunity even to the most humble. Somehow — some¬ 
where, there comes a national punishment in return. 

The case was roughly this: an elderly woman, Miss Gilchrist, 
was done to death most brutally in her flat, while her servant- 
maid, Helen Lambie, was absent for ten minutes on an errand. 
Her head was beaten to pieces by some hard instrument. The 
neighbours were alarmed by the noise, and one of them, to- 
gether’with the maid, actually saw the murderer, a young man, 
leave the flat and pass him at the door. The police description 
at the time was by no means in agreement with Slater’s appear¬ 
ance. Robbery did not appear to be the motive of the crime, 
for nothing was missing unless it was a single diamond brooch. 


The Years Between the Wars 217 

On tlie other hand, a*box of papers had been broken into and 
left in disorder. The date was December'21, 1908. 

And now comes the great fact which is admitted by all, and 
which makes the whole case wildly improbable if not utterly 
impossible. It was thought that a diamond brooch had been 
taken. It was found out that a diamond brooch had also been 
pawned by the’Bohemian Slater, who had started for America. 
Was it not clear that he was the murderer? New York was 
warned. Slater was arrested and in due time was returned to 
Glasgow. Then came the fiasco. It was found beyond all 
doubt.that the brooch in question had been in Slater’s possession 
for years, and that it had nothing to do with Miss Gilchrist 
at all. 

This should have been the end of the case. It was too pre¬ 
posterous to suppose that out of all the folk in Glasgow the 
police had arrested the right man by pure chance — for that 
was what it amounted to. But the public had lost its head, 
and so had the police. If the case had completely gone to pieces 
surely it could be reconstructed in some fresh form. Slater 
was poor and friendless. He had lived with a woman, which 
shocked Scotch morality. As one writer boldly said in the 
press: “ Even if he did not do it, he deserved to be condemned, 
anyhow.” A case was made up in the most absurd manner. 
A half-crown card of tools was found in his box with the sort 
of tools which are found on such cards. The frail hammer 
was evidently the instrument which had beaten in the woman’s 
skull. The handle might have been cleaned. Then surely 
there had been blood on it. The police description was already 
amended so as to be nearer to Slater. He, a sallow, dark-haired 
Jew, was picked out by witnesses from among a group of fair 
Scotsmen. Some one had been seen waiting in the street for 
some nights before. This some one was variously described 
by many witnesses. Some descriptions would fit Slater, some 
were his very opposite. The people who saw the murderer 
leave thought it might be Slater, but were not sure. The chief 
witness, Adams, was very short-sighted and had not his glasses. 
A clear alibi was proved by Slater, but as his mistress and his 
servant girl were the witnesses, it was not allowed. Whom 
could he produce save the inmates of his house ? No attempt 


218 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

was ever made to show that Slater had any connection with 
Miss Gilchrist, or with the maid, Lambie, and as Slater was 
really a stranger in Glasgow, it was impossible to see how he 
could have known anything about,this retired old maid. But 
he was not too well defended, while Mr. Ure, the Advocate- 
General of Scotland, prosecuting for the State, thundered away 
in a most violent speech in which several statements w T ere made, 
uncorrected by Judge Guthrie, which were very inexact, and 
which must have powerfully swayed the jury. Finally, the 
Crown got a conviction by nine votes to six (five “ not proven ”) 
— which, of course, would have meant a new trial in England, 
and the wretched foreigner was condemned to death. The scaf¬ 
fold was actually erected, and it was only two mornings before 
his execution that the order came which prevented a judicial 
murder. As it was, the man became a convict — and is one 
still. 

It is an atrocious story, and as I read it and realized the 
wickedness of it all, I was moved to do all I could for the 
man. I was aided by the opinion of Sir Herbert Stephen, 
who read the evidence and declared that there was not even 
a prima facie case against the man. I, therefore, started a 
newspaper agitation and wrote a small book with an account 
of the whole matter. The consciences of some people responded, 
and finally we got up sufficient pressure to induce the Govern¬ 
ment to appoint a Commissioner, Sheriff Miller, to examine 
the case. It was all to no purpose, and the examination was 
a farce. The terms of reference were so narrow that the con¬ 
duct of the police was entirely excluded, which was really the 
very thing at issue, since we held that where their original 
evidence failed them, they had strained many points in trying 
to build up a case and to obtain a verdict. It was also decided 
that evidence should not be on oath. The result was that there 
was no result nor could there be with such limitations. Hone 
the less, some fresh evidence was put forward which further 
weakened the already very weak case for the prosecution. Eor 
example, at the trial it had been stated that Slater, on reaching 
Liverpool from Glasgow, had gone to a Liverpool hotel under 
a false name, as if he were trying to throw the police off his 
track. It was shown that this was not true, and that he had 


The Years Between the Wars 219 

signed the register with his own Glasgow name. I say his Glas¬ 
gow name, for he had several pseudonyms in the course of his 
not too reputable career, and, as a fact, he took his actual pas¬ 
sage under a false name, showing that he intended to make a 
clear start in America. He was, according to his own account, 
pursued by some woman — probably his lawful wife — and 
this covering of tracks was to escape this huntress. The fact 
that he used his own name at the hotel showed that the new 
name was for American rather than for British use, and that 
he had no fear of Glasgow pursuit. 

We could do no more, and there the matter rested. There 
was a very ugly aftermath of the case, which consisted of what 
appeared to be persecution of Mr. Trench, a detective who 
had given evidence at the inquiry which told in favour of our 
view. A charge was shortly afterwards made against both him 
and a solicitor, Mr. Cook, who had been conspicuous upon 
Slater’s side, which might well have ruined them both. As 
it was, it caused them great anxiety and expense. There had 
been a most unpleasant political flavour to the whole proceed¬ 
ings ; but on this occasion the case came before a Conservative 
Judge, Mr. Scott Dickson, who declared that it should never 
have been brought into court, and dismissed it forthwith with 
contempt. It is a curious circumstance that as I write, in 
1924, Judge Guthrie, Cook, Trench, Helen Lambie, Miller 
and others have all passed on. But Slater still remains, eating 
out his heart at Peterhead. 

One strange psychic fact should be mentioned which was 
brought to my notice by an eminent English K.C. There was 
a Spiritualist circle which used to meet at Falkirk, and shortly 
after the trial messages were received by it which purported 
to come from the murdered woman. She was asked what the 
weapon was which had slain her. She answered that it was an 
iron box-opener. How I had pondered over the nature of 
certain wounds in the woman’s face, which consisted of two 
cuts with a little bridge of unbroken skin between. They might 
have been caused by the claw end of a hammer, but on the 
other hand, one of the woman’s eyes had been pushed back 
into her brain, which could hardly have been done by a ham¬ 
mer, which would have burst the eyeball first. I could think 


220 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

of no instrument which would meet the case But the box- 
opener would exactly do so, for it has a forked end which would 
make the double wound, and it is also straight so that it might 
very well penetrate to the brain, driving the eye in front of 
it. The reader will reasonably ask why did not the Spiritual¬ 
ists ask the name of the criminal. I believe that they did and 
received a reply, but I do not think that such evidence could 
or should ever be used or published. It could only be useful 
as the starting point of an inquiry. 

There was one intervention during those years to which I 
look back with satisfaction, and that was my protest against 
the King’s Oath before the Coronation of King Edward. The 
Oath was actually changed, and though my protest may have 
had no effect upon that historic fact, it was none the less the 
first letter in “ The Times ” upon the subject. 

It ran thus: 


Sib,— 

Surely Colonel Sandys and the members of the Protestant 
Reformation Society should, looking at the matter simply from 
their own point of view, recognize that the surest way to 
strengthen any creed is, as the whole history of the world has 
proved, to persecute it. And it is mere juggling with words 
to attempt to show that it is anything other than persecution 
to hold up the Homan Catholic faith to obloquy in the Coro¬ 
nation Oath, while every other creed, Christian or non-Chris¬ 
tian, is left unassailed. Is it not a shocking thing that, while 
Roman Catholic chapels throughout the whole Empire are still 
draped in black for a deceased Monarch, his successor should 
be compelled by law to insult the most intimate convictions 
of these same mourners? 

And is it not a most narrow and foolish policy, unworthy 
of this tolerant age, that a young King should be forced to 
offend the feelings of great numbers of Irishmen, Canadians 
and other subjects? I feel sure that, apart from Catholics, 
the great majority of broad-minded thinkers of any or of no 
denomination in this country are of opinion that the outcry 
of fanatics should be disregarded, and that all creeds should 


The Years Between the Wars 221 


receive tlie same courteous and respectful treatment so long 
as their adherents are members of the common Empire. To 
bring these medieval rancours to an end would indeed he an 
auspicious opening of a new reign. 

Yours faithfully, 
Arthur Conan Doyle. 


CHAPTER XXII 


THE YEARS BETWEEN THE WARS 

Constantinople — The Night of Power —A Strange Creature — Dorando — 
Dramatic Adventures — The Congo Agitation — Olympic Games — 
Divorce Reform — Psychic Experience — Speculation. 

Y EARS of peaceful work followed my marriage, broken 
only by two journeys to the Mediterranean, in the course 
of which we explored some out-of-the-way portions of Greece, 
and visited Egypt, where I found hardly one single man left 
of all the good fellows whom I had once known. In the course 
of our travels we visited Constantinople, looking at the great 
guns in the forts on the Dardanelles, with little thought of all 
the British lives which were to be sacrificed upon those low, 
dark, heather-clad hills which slope down to the Northern 
shore. In Constantinople we attended the weekly selamlik of 
Abdul Hamid, and saw him with his dyed beard and the ladies 
of his harem as they passed down to their devotions. It was 
an incredible sight to Western eyes to see the crowd of officers 
and officials, many of them fat and short of wind, who ran like 
dogs behind his carriage in the hope that they might catch 
the Imperial eye. It was Ramadan, and the old Sultan sent 
me a message that he had read my books and that he would 
gladly have seen me had it not been the Holy month. He 
interviewed me through his Chamberlain and presented me with 
the Order of the Medjedie, and, what was more pleasing to 
me, he gave the Order of the Chevekat to my wife. As this 
is the Order of Compassion, and as my wife ever since she 
set foot in Constantinople had been endeavouring to feed the 
horde of starving dogs who roamed the streets, no gift could 
have been more appropriate. 

We were admitted secretly and by very special favour into 
the great Mosque of Sophia during the sacred festival which 
is known as the Night of Power. It was a most marvellous 
spectacle as from the upper circle of pillared arches we looked 



[ Sterling , Melbourne. 


LADY CONAN DOYLE, 1920, 






• < 

, 











i -j 







The Years Between the Wars 223 

down upon 60,000 lighted lamps and 12,000 worshippers, who 
made, as they rose and fell in their devotions, a sound like the 
wash of the sea. The priests in their high pulpits were scream¬ 
ing like seagulls, and fanaticism was in the air. It was at 
this moment that I saw a woman — I will not call her a lady 
— young and flighty, seat herself jauntily on the edge of the 
stone parapet, and look down at the 12,000 men who were 
facing us. ISTo unbeliever should he tolerated there, and a 
woman was the abomination of abominations. I heard a low 
deep growl and saw fierce bearded faces looking up. It only 
needed one fiery spirit to head the rush and we should have 
been massacred — with the poor consolation that some of us 
at least had really asked for it. However, she was pulled 
down, and we made our way as quickly and as quietly as 
possible out of a side door. It was time, I think. 

One curious incident of our journey stands out in my mem¬ 
ory. We were steaming past TEgina on a lovely day with calm 
water around us. The captain, a courteous Italian, had allowed 
us to go upon the bridge, and we — my wife and I — were 
looking down into the transparent depths when we both clearly 
saw a creature which has never, so far as I know, been de¬ 
scribed by Science. It was exactly like a young ichthyosaurus, 
about 4 feet long, with thin neck and tail, and four marked 
side-flippers. The ship had passed it before we could call any 
other observer. I was interested to notice that Admiral An- 
struther in the “ Evening Hews” some years later described, 
and drew, an exactly similar creature which he had seen under 
water ofi the Irish coast. This old world has got some sur¬ 
prises for us yet. 

Here and there, as I look back at those long and happy years, 
some particular episode flashes vividly into my memory. I 
do not often do journalistic work — why should one poach 
upon the preserves of others? — but on the occasion of the 
Olympic Games of 1908 I was tempted, chiefly by the offer 
of an excellent seat, to do the Marathon Eace for the “ Daily 
Mail.” It was certainly a wonderful experience, for it will 
be known to history as the Dorando Eace. Perhaps a few 
short paragraphs from my description may even now recapture 
the thrill of it. The huge crowd —- some 50,000 people — 


224 Memories and Adventures 

were all watching the entrance to the stadium, the dark gap 
through which the leader must appear. Then — 

“ At last he came. But how different from the exultant vic¬ 
tor whom we expected! Out of the dark archway there stag¬ 
gered a little man, with red runnilig-drawers, a tiny boy-like 
creature. He reeled as he entered and faced the roar of the 
applause. Then he feebly turned to the left and wearily trotted 
round the track. Friends and encouragers were pressing round 
him. 

“ Suddenly the whole group stopped. There were wild ges¬ 
ticulations. Men stooped and rose again. Good heavens! he 
has fainted; is it possible that even at this last moment the 
prize may slip through his fingers ? Every eye slides round 
to that dark archway. Ho second man has yet appeared. 
Then a great sigh of relief goes up. I do not think in all that 
great assembly any man would have wished victory to be torn 
at the last instant from this plucky little Italian. He has won 
it. He should have it. 

“ Thank God, he is on his feet again — the little red legs 
going incoherently, but drumming hard, driven by a supreme 
will within. There is a groan as he falls once more and a 
cheer as he staggers to his feet. It is horrible, and yet fas¬ 
cinating, this struggle between a set purpose and an utterly 
exhausted frame. Again, for a hundred yards, he ran in the 
same furious and yet uncertain gait. Then again he collapsed, 
kind hands saving him from a heavy fall. 

<c He was within a few yards of my seat. Amid stooping 
figures and grasping hands I caught a glimpse of the haggard, 
yellow face, the glazed, expressionless eyes, the lank black hair 
streaked across the brow. Surely he is done now. He cannot 
rise again. 

“From under the archway has darted the second runner, 
Hayes, Stars and Stripes on his breast, going gallantly, well 
within his strength. There is only twenty yards to do if the 
Italian can do it. He staggered up, no trace of intelligence 
upon his set face, and again the red legs broke into their 
strange automatic amble. 

“ Will he fall again ? Ho, he sways, he balances, and then 
he is through the tape and into a score of friendly arms. He 


The Years Between the Wars 225 

has gone to the extreme of human endurance. No Roman of 
the prime ever bore himself better than Dorando of the Olym¬ 
pic of 1908. The great breed is not yet extinct.” 

Of course the prize went to the American, as his rival had 
been helped, but the sympathy of the crowd, and I am sure 
of every sporting American present, went out to the little 
Italian. I not only wrote Dorando up, but I started a sub¬ 
scription for him in the “ Daily Mail,” which realized over 
£300 — a fortune in his Italian village — so that he was able 
to start a baker’s shop, which he could not have done on an 
Olympic medal. My wife made the presentation in English, 
which he could not understand; he answered in Italian, which 
we could not understand; but I think we really did under¬ 
stand each other all the same. 

There is no denying that the American team were very 
unpopular in London, though the unpopularity was not na¬ 
tional, for the stadium was thick with American flags. Every¬ 
one admitted that they were a splendid lot of athletes, but they 
were not wisely handled and I saw with my own eyes that they 
did things which would not have been tolerated if done by an 
English team in New York. However, there may well have 
been some want of tact on both sides, and causes at work of 
which the public knew nothing. When I consider the Dun- 
raven Yacht race, and then these Olympic Games, I am by 
no means assured that sport has that international effect for 
good which some people have claimed for it. I wonder whether 
any of the old Grecian wars had their real origin in the awards 
at Olympia. I may add that we had a dozen or so of the 
American boys down to “ Windlesham,” where we had a very 
pleasant day together. I found them all excellent fellows. I 
put up a billiard Olympic prize, and one of them bore it off 
with him. The whole incident was very pleasant. 

My work for a few years after my marriage ran largely in 
the direction of drama, and if it was not lucrative it at least 
provided us with a good deal of amusement and excitement. 
In the case of one venture this excitement became a little too 
poignant, though all ended well in the end. I had dramatized 
“ Rodney Stone ” under the name of “ The House of Tem- 
perley,” with all the ring scenes and prize fights included, and 


226 Memories and Adventures 

»• 

treated in the most realistic fashion. We had an excellent 
boxing instructor who took one of the smaller parts and who 
not only fought himself but trained the others to a remarkable 
degree of skill. So realistic was it .that when on the first night 
the bully, Berks, after a long encounter, went down with a 
crash from a fine raking uppercut, there was an involuntary 
groan from the whole house, which meant as clearly as could 
he, “ There now, you have killed a man for our amusement.” 
It was really incredibly well done and I could never have 
believed that such scenes could he so cleverly faked, though it 
was not always done with impunity, for Rex Davies, who 
played Gloucester Dick, assured me that he lost a tooth and 
broke both a finger and a rib during his engagement. The 
play itself was unequal, hut was so very novel and sensational 
in its best scenes that it should have been a considerable suc¬ 
cess. I found no manager who would take the risk, and I 
had myself to take the Adelphi Theatre for a six months’ lease, 
at a rent which with the Company worked out at about £600 
a week. As on the top of this the production cost about £2,000, 
it will be seen that I was plunging rather deep. 

And luck did not favour us. The furore for boxing had not 
yet set in. Ladies were afraid to come, and imagined it would 
be a brutal spectacle. Those who did come were exhilarated 
beyond measure, but the prejudice still weighed heavily against 
us. Then there came one of those theatrical slumps when 
everything goes wrong, and finally King Edward died and that 
killed it outright. It was a very serious situation. I still had 
the theatre upon my hands. I might sublet it, or I might not. 
If I did not, the expense was simply ruinous. 

It was under these circumstances that, as I have already 
said, I wrote and rehearsed “ The Speckled Band ” in record 
time, and so saved the situation. The real fault of this play 
was that in trying to give Holmes a worthy antagonist I over¬ 
did it and produced a more interesting personality in the vil¬ 
lain. The terrible ending was also against it. However, it was 
a considerable success and saved a difficult — almost a des¬ 
perate — situation. 

Yet another theatrical venture was my “ Eires of Fate,” 
some of which is certainly the best dramatic work that I have 


The Years Between the Wars 227 

ever done. It was unlucky, as,.it was produced in a very hot 
summer. I carried it at my own expense through the two 
impossible holiday months, hut when Lewis Waller, who played 
the hero, returned from a provincial tour to London, he was 
keen on some new play and my “Fires” were never really 
burned out. I fancy sometimes that they might even now 
flame up again if given a chance. I stage managed most of 
this play myself, and with curious results. There are certain 
dramatic conventionalities which can only he broken through 
by one who is not himself an actor. There was a scene where 
a number of helpless tourists, men and women, were brutally 
ill-treated by Arabs. The brutality in rehearsal was conven¬ 
tional. I made the Arabs get imitation whips and cudgels and 
really savage the poor travellers. The effect was novel and 
appalling. There was a young Welsh officer in the front of 
the stalls who was a friend of my brother’s. He held both 
the V.C. and the D.S.O. So stirred was he by the sight that 
he could hardly be restrained from clambering on to the stage 
in order to help the unhappy tourists. The end of that act, 
when the drove of bleeding captives are led away and you 
hear the monotonous song of the Arabs as they march, and 
you see Lewis Waller, who has been left for dead, struggle 
up on his elbow and signal across the Nile for assistance, was 
one which brought the whole house to its feet. Such moments 
to a dramatist give a thrill of personal satisfaction such as 
the most successful novelist never can feel. There is no more 
subtle pleasure if you are really satisfied with your work than 
to sit in the shadow of a box and watch not the play but the 
audience. 

I had one other dramatic venture, “ Brigadier Gerard,” 
which also was mildly successful. In fact, I have never known 
failure on the stage save in the case of the unfortunate “ Jane 
Annie.” Lewis Waller played the Brigadier and a splendid 
dashing Hussar he made. It was a glorious performance. I 
remember that in this play also I ran up against the conven¬ 
tionalities of the stage. I had a group of Hussar officers, the 
remnants of the regiment which had gone through Napoleon’s 
last campaign. When it came to the dress rehearsal, I found 
them, to my horror, dressed up in brand new uniforms of chest- 


228 Memories and Adventures 

nut and silver. u Good heavens! ” I cried. “ This is not a 
comic opera!” “What do^you want done?” asked Waller. 
“ Why,” said I, 11 these men are warriors, not ballet dancers. 
They have been out in all weathers day and night for months. 
Every scrap of truth goes out of the play if they appear like 
that.” The uniforms had cost over a hundred pounds, hut 
I covered them with mud and dust and tore holes in them. 
The result was that, with begrimed faces, I got a band of real 
Napoleonic soldiers. Waller himself insisted on retaining his 
grease paint and his nice new clothes, but I am sure every 
man in the audience, if not every woman, would have liked 
him better as I had made the others. Poor Lewis Waller! 
There was some strange and wonderful blood in his veins. 
He was a glorious fellow, and his premature death a great 
blow to our stage. What virility! What a face and figure! 
They called him the “ Flappers’ idol,” and it reflects credit 
on the flapper, for where could she find a less sickly and more 
manly type. He caught his fatal illness in serving the soldiers. 
One of his greatest possessions was his voice. He came down 
to u Windlesham ” once, and as he was reciting in the music- 
room that wonderful resonant voice chanced to catch the exact 
note which corresponded to the curve of all the glass lamp¬ 
shades on the walls. They all started thrilling as a wine-glass 
does when it is touched. I could quite believe after that, that 
matter could be disintegrated by sound if the sound were strong 
enough. I am not clear what blood ran in Waller’s veins, 
Hebrew or Basque or both. I only know that it went to make 
a very wonderful man. His intense feeling about everything 
that he did was one of his characteristics and no doubt a cause 
of his success. It did not carry him far in golf, however. I 
remember hearing him as he approached the last tee mutter, 
“ God, give me one good drive.” I fear, however, that the 
betting was against it. 

In 1910 a fresh task opened up before me. It arose from 
my being deeply moved by reading some of the evidence con¬ 
cerning the evil rule, not of Belgium, but of the King of the 
Belgians in the Congo. I examined this evidence carefully 
before I accepted it, and I assured myself that it was supported 
by five British Consuls and by Lord Cromer, as well as by 


The Years Between the Wars 229 

travellers of many races, Belgian, French, American, Swedish 
and others. An attempt has been made since to minimize the 
facts and to pretend that Roger Casement had been at the 
back of the agitation for sinister purposes of his own. This 
contention is quite untenable and the evidence for the atrocities 
is overwhelming and from very many sources, the Belgians 
themselves being among the best witnesses. I put in some two 
years working with Mr. Morel and occasionally lecturing in 
the country upon this question, and it was certainly the efforts 
of the Congo Association which we represented, that eventually 
brought the question to the notice of that noble man King Albert 
which meant setting it right so that the colony is now, so far as 
I know, very well managed. Casement, whom I shall always 
regard as a fine man afflicted with mania, has met his tragic 
end, and Morel’s views upon the war have destroyed the feel¬ 
ings which I had for him, but I shall always maintain that 
they both did noble work in championing the wrongs of those 
unhappy and helpless negroes. My own book “ The Crime of 
the Congo,” which was translated into all European languages, 
had also, I hope, some influence towards that end. 

In the early summer of 1912 I had a telegram from Lord 
Morthcliffe which let me in for about as much trouble as any 
communication which I have ever received. It was to the 
effect that Britain must regain her place among the athletic 
nations which had been temporarily eclipsed by the Olympic 
Games at Stockholm, and that I was the one man in Great 
Britain who could rally round me the various discordant forces 
which had to be united and used. This was very complimen¬ 
tary, but it was Lord Morthcliffe’s sole contribution to the 
matter for a very long time, and I was left to my own devices 
entirely in carrying out a complex task. So badly co-ordinated 
were Morthcliffe’s papers that I had some of them actually 
attacking me while I was working on their chief’s suggestion. 

When I examined I found chaos, On the one hand was 
the British Olympic Committee, a most sound and respectable 
body, under Lord Desborough. In some way they had lost 
touch with press and public and were generally in disfavour, 
though really they had done their best. On the other hand was 
“ The Times,” which had worked itself into a fury about the 




230 Memories atid Adventures 

misdeeds of the Committee, and had set a tone which poisoned 
the whole press against them. Lord Yorthcliffe would have 
nothing to do with anything which emanated from the Com¬ 
mittee; the Committe defied Lord Horthcliffe. It was clear 
that this had to he cleared up as a preliminary, and the matter 
took enough diplomacy to have settled the Balkan question. I 
called upon the Committee and suggested that an independent 
body he formed on which they could be represented. To this 
they agreed. I then called on “ The Times ” and said: “ You 
are no longer dealing with the old Olympic Committee, but 
with a new body. Do you agree to this ? ” Yes, that was all 
in order. I may have omitted the trifling fact that the new 
body did not yet exist. I then asked Mr. Studd, the famous 
cricketer of old and head of the Polytechnic to help me to 
form the new body. We soon had a very effective one, in¬ 
cluding several leading athletes and Lord Porster, now Gov¬ 
ernor-General of Australia. I served, of course, on the Com¬ 
mittee, and soon we were in touch with every one and all prom¬ 
ised to go smoothly. 

But presently a huge mistake was made. I don’t wish to 
represent myself as the fount of all wisdom, and no doubt I 
make as many slips as my fellows, but that particular one 
would never have been made had I been present, but I was 
called away and was out of the country at that crucial Com¬ 
mittee meeting. It had been already determined that an ap¬ 
peal to the public over all our names should be issued. The 
amount had not been discussed, but in my own mind I had 
thought that £10,000 would suffice. I was horrified, therefore, 
when I returned from my holiday to find that they had ap¬ 
pealed for £100,000. The sum was absurd, and at once brought 
upon us from all sides the charge of developing professionalism. 
My position was very difficult. If I protested now it would 
go far to ruin the appeal. After all it might succeed. I could 
only fall into line with the others and do my best for the 
sake of the cause to defend a policy which I looked upon as 
mistaken. We actually collected about £7,000, and finally, 
as we found that the general feeling was either hostile or 
apathetic, we handed over this sum to the Olympic Committee. 
Then came the war, and so in any case our labour was in vain, 


The Years Between the Wars 231 


for the Games were to be in Berlin in 1916. We were all 
playing another game by then. This matter was spread over 
a year of my life and was the most barren thing that I ever 
touched, for nothing came of it, and I cannot trace that I 
ever received one word of thanks from any human being. I 
was on my guard against Northcliffe telegrams after that. 

I remember one curious episode about that time. I was 
staying in a Northumberland Avenue Hotel, and I walked out 
at night in pensive mood, strolling down the Embankment and 
watching the great dark river with the gleam of the lights upon 
it. Suddenly a man passed me, walking very rapidly and mut¬ 
tering in an incoherent way. He gave me an impression of 
desperation and I quickened my pace and followed him. With 
a rush he sprang up on the parapet and seemed to be about 
to throw himself into the river. I was just in time to catch 
his knees and to pull him down. He struggled hard to get 
up, but I put my arm through his and led him across the road. 
There I reasoned with him and examined into the cause of his 
troubles. He had had some domestic quarrel, I believe, but 
his main worry was his business, which was that of a baker. 
He seemed a respectable man and the case seemed genuine, 
so I calmed him down, gave him such immediate help as I 
could, and made him promise to return home and to keep in 
touch with me afterwards. 

When the excitement of the incident was over, I had grave 
doubts as to whether I had not been the victim of a clever swin¬ 
dler. I was considerably relieved, therefore, to get a letter a 
few days later, giving name and address, and obviously genuine. 
I lost sight of the case after that. 

Another matter which preoccupied me much in the years 
before the war, and preoccupies me still, is the Reform of our 
Divorce Laws. I was president of the Reform Union for ten 
years and have only just vacated the position in order to make 
room for a far more efficient successor in Lord Birkenhead. 
I am quite alive to all the arguments of our opponents, and 
quite understand that laxity in the marriage tie is an evil, but 
I cannot understand why England should lag behind every 
other Protestant country in the world, and even behind Scot¬ 
land, so that unions which are obviously disgusting and de- 


232 Memories ahd Adventures 

grading are maintained in this country while they can he dis¬ 
solved in our Colonies or abroad. As to morality I cannot, 
I fear, admit that our morality here is in the least better than 
in Scandinavia, Holland or Germany, where they have more 
rational laws. I think that in some States in America they 
have pushed Divorce to an extreme, hut even in America I 
should say that married happiness and morality generally are 
quite as high as with us. The House of Lords has shown itself 
to he more liberal in this matter than the Commons, possibly 
because the latter have a fear of organized Church influence 
in their constituencies. It is one of several questions which 
makes me not sorry to see Labour, with its larger outlook, in 
power for a time in this country. Our marriage laws, our land 
laws, the cheapening of justice and many other things have 
long called out for reform, and if the old parties will not do 
it then we must seek some new one which will. 

During these long and happy years, when the smooth current 
of our national life was quietly sliding toward Niagara, I did 
not lose my interest in psychic matters, hut I cannot say that 
I increased my grasp of the religious or spiritual side of the 
subject. I read, however, and investigated whenever the chance 
arose. A gentleman had arranged a series of psychical seances 
in a large studio in North London, and I attended them, the 
mediums being Cecil Husk and Craddock. They left a very 
mixed impression upon my mind, for in some cases, I was 
filled with suspicion and in others I was quite sure that the 
result was genuine. The possibility that a genuine medium 
may he unscrupulous and that when these very elusive forces 
fail to act he may simulate them is one which greatly com¬ 
plicates the whole subject, but one can only concentrate upon 
what one is sure is true and try to draw conclusions from that. 
I remember that many sheeted ghosts walked about in the dim 
light of a red lamp on these occasions, and that some of them 
came close to me, within a foot of my face, and illuminated 
their features by the light of a phosphorescent slate held be¬ 
low them. One splendid Arab, whom the medium called Ab¬ 
dullah, came in this fashion. He had a face like an idealized 
W. G. Grace, swarthy, black-bearded and dignified, rather 
larger than human. I was looking hard at this strange being, 


The Years Between the Wars 233 

its nose a few inches from my own, and was wondering whether 
it could he some very clever bust of wax, when in an instant 
the mouth opened and a terrific yell was emitted. I nearly 
jumped out of my chair. I saw clearly the gleaming teeth 
and the red tongue. It certainly seemed that he had read my 
thought and had taken this very effective way of answering it. 

Some of the excitements of my life during these and the 
subsequent years were due to financial entanglements which 
arose from a certain speculative element in my own nature, 
depending rather upon the love of adventure than upon any 
hope of gain. If when I earned money I had dug a hole in 
the garden and buried it there I should be a much richer man 
to-day. I can hardly blame the punter on the racecourse when 
I remember the outside chances which I have taken in the 
past in every possible form of speculation. But I have the 
advantage over the mere gambler in this, that every pound 
of my money went to develop something or other and lined 
the pocket of the working man, who, by the way, when he 
grumbles over the profits of the Capitalist never even alludes 
to his losses. If a balance sheet were struck it would be in¬ 
teresting to see what, if any, is the exact margin of profit. 

It is true that sometimes I have indulged in a pure gamble 
but never for any sum which would hurt me. I have painful 
memories of a guano island off South Africa on which our 
treasure seekers were not even allowed to land, though every 
bird’s nest was rumoured to contain a diamond. The Spanish 
galleon in the bay of Tobermory also took treasure rather than 
gave it, and the return for my shares was a lump of glass and 
a rusted bar. That was more than ever I had from certain 
spots in Balgurli and Coolgardie and other alleged goldbearers, 
which have nearly all been gold consumers so far as I am con¬ 
cerned. I fear some of those mines were like that legendary 
one where the manager, getting a cable which ordered him to 
start crushing, replied, “ I have nothing to crush until you 
return samples.” 

I have played my involuntary part also in the development 
of the Band and Bhodesia, from those early and unsophisti¬ 
cated days when I misread the quotation and meaning to invest 
£60 was faced next morning with a bill for £900. Occasionally 


234 Memories and Adventures 

it is true that I backed a winner, but as a rule I must confess 
that I was not judicious in my selections. 

But it was at borne that I expended myself most freely. I 
saw the enormous possibilities of Kent coal, which even now 
are not fully understood; but I did not sufficiently weigh the 
impossibilities, which are that an enterprise can be successful 
which is wildly financed and extravagantly handled. I and 
many others lost our money sinking the shafts which may 
bring fortunes to our successors. I even descended 1,000 feet 
through the chalk to see with my own eyes that the coal was 
in situ. It seems to have had the appearance and every other 
quality of coal save that it was incombustible, and when a 
dinner was held by the shareholders which was to he cooked 
by local coal, it was necessary to send out and buy something 
which would burn. There were, however, lower strata which 
were more sensitive to heat. Besides Kent Coal I lost very 
heavily in running a manufacturing plant in Birmingham, 
into which I was led by those successive stages in which you 
are continually trying to save what you have already invested 
until the situation becomes so serious that you drop it in terror. 
We turned from bicycles to munitions during the war, and 
actually worked hard the whole four years, with a hundred 
artisans making needful war material, without ever declaring 
a penny of dividend. This, I should think, must he a record, 
and at least no one could call us profiteers. The firm was 
eventually killed dead by the successive strikes of the moulders 
and the miners. It is amazing how one set of workmen will 
ruin another set without apparently any remonstrance from the 
sufferers. Another had egg was a sculpture machine for archi¬ 
tectural work, which really had great possibilities, hut we 
could not get the orders. I was chairman of this company, 
and it cost me two years of hard work and anxiety, ending 
up hy my paying the balance out of my own pocket, so that 
we might wind up in an honourable way. It was a dismal 
experience with many side adventures attached to it, which 
would make a sensational novel. 

Such are some of the vicissitudes which cannot he disre¬ 
garded in a retrospect of life, for they form a very integral 
and absorbing part of it. I have had my ill luck and I have 


The Years Between the Wars 235 

had my good. Amid the latter I count the fact that I have 
been for twenty-one years a director of Raphael Tuck & Co., 
without the least cloud to darken the long and pleasant memory. 
I have also been for many years chairman of Besson’s famous 
brass instrument iirm. I think a man should know all sides 
of life, and he has missed a very essential side if he has not 
played his part in commerce. In investments, too, I would 
not imply that I have always been unfortunate. My specu¬ 
lative adventures are over, and I can at least say that unless 
the British Empire goes down I shall he able to retain enough 
for our modest needs. 


CHAPTER XXIII 


SOME NOTABLE PEOPLE 

President Roosevelt — Lord Balfour — Mr. Asquith — Lord Haldane 
George Meredith — Rudyard Kipling — James Barrie — Henry Irving 
— Bernard Shaw — R. L. S.— Grant Allen — JameB Payn — Henry 
Thompson — Royalty. 

W HEX I have chanced during my life to come in contact 
with notable people, I have often made some short rec¬ 
ord at the time of what they said and how they impressed 
me. It is difficult, however, to use these notes for publication 
when you happen to have been a guest, and it can only be 
done, I think, by using one’s judgment and never consciously 
harming one’s host. If every one were altogether silent upon 
such occasions the most pleasing side of great contemporaries 
would never be chronicled, for the statesman in slippers is a 
very much more human and lovable person than the politician 
on the platform. 

Among the great men that I have known President Roose¬ 
velt occupied a prominent place. He was not a big, nor, so 
far as one could see, a powerful man, but he had tremendous 
dynamic force and an iron will which may account for his 
reputation as an athlete. He had all the simplicity of real 
greatness, speaking his mind with great frankness and in the 
clearest possible English. He had in him a great deal of the 
boy, a mischievous, adventurous, high-spirited boy, with a 
deep, strong, thoughtful manhood in the background. We 
were present, my wife and I, at the Guildhall when he made 
his memorable speech about Egypt, in which he informed 
a gathering, which contained the Foreign Secretary, Sir 
Edward Grey, and many of our Cabinet, that we should 
either rule more strictly or clear out altogether. It was, 
of course, a most unwarrantable intrusion into our affairs, 
but it was a calculated indiscretion, and very welcome, I be¬ 
lieve, to those who were dealing with Egypt. As he made his 


237 


Some Notable People 

way through the dense crowd afterwards he passed me and 
said with a grin: “ I say, I let them have it that time, didn’t 
I ? ” There was the mischievous hoy coming out. 

He had a quick blunt wit which showed itself often in his 
metaphors. He spoke to me, I remember, of some one who 
had a nine guinea-pig-power brain. One of his entourage told 
me how the President had been awakened once to address some 
prairie folk at a wayside station. “ They have come sixty miles 
to see you,” said his secretary. “ They would have come a 
hundred to see a cat with two heads,” said the ruffled President. 

I met him once at a small luncheon party at the invitation 
of Lord Lee, who had soldiered with him in Cuba. He was 
extremely talkative — in fact, I can hardly remember anyone 
else saying anything. Thinking it over afterwards I con¬ 
cluded that two ideas were running through his mind, and 
every now and then coming to the surface. They were for¬ 
midable ideas, and may have been some temporary wave of 
feeling, but they were certainly in his thoughts. The one 
was that there would be another civil war in the States. The 
second, that if you had the farmer class on your side they 
presented the best military material. Prom this I gathered 
that it was not a geographical but an economic struggle that 
was in his mind. Absit omen , but great men are often pes¬ 
simists, and the Duke of Wellington was deeply convinced that 
Britain could not long survive his death. 

When Boosevelt was shot I sent him a cable to express that 
sympathy which every Englishman felt. I have his answer 
before me, written only a day or so after the event: 

Mebcy Hospital, 
Chicago, 
October 19, 1912. 

Deab Mb. Doyle,— 

Many thanks for your kind message of sympathy. As you 
know, a bullet wound is rather a serious thing, hut all condi¬ 
tions seem to be favourable, and I hope in a few days we will 
all be relieved from anxiety. 


Sincerely yours, 
Theodobe Roosevelt. 


238 


Memories and Adventures 


It is typewritten, but signed by bis own band. I do not 
think that a more brave and detached letter was ever written 
by a sufferer. 

Roosevelt was a very loud hearty man, with a peculiar wild- 
beast toothy grin, and an explosive habit of slapping his hand 
down for emphasis. I jotted down a few of his obiter dicta 
after our conversation. He had no good word for Henry 
James. “ He is not a whole man. All that subtlety is really 
decadence.” He was very virile, not to say heroic in his views. 
“ A man should guard particularly against being led from his 
duty, especially a dangerous duty, by his women. I guess a 
woman would have had a bad time if she had tried to lead 
Leonidas from the pass.” Of the German Emperor he said that 
he was jealous of the King’s dog at the King’s funeral be¬ 
cause he attracted the more notice. Altogether he was one 
of the raciest talkers I have ever met. 

Among the occasional great ones of earth whom I have met 
there is hardly anyone who stands out more clearly than 
Arthur Balfour, with hi3 willowy figure, his gentle intellectual 
face, and, as I read it, his soul of steel. I should think that of 
all men of our day he was the last who would be turned from 
any path which he had deliberately taken, but, on the other 
hand, he was capable of standing a most unconscionable time 
at the place where paths divide, for his mind was so subtle and 
active that he would always see the two sides of every question 
and waver between them. He could never have been a 
pioneer. 

The occasion of our first meeting was a most ridiculous one. 
Old Lord Burnham, the first of his line, had invited me down 
to his country house at Beaconsfield — a wonderful house 
which had been built originally by Waller, the Royalist poet. 
Burke had lived close by, and the dagger which, in a melodra¬ 
matic moment, he threw upon the floor of the house, in order to 
show the dangers of French Republican propaganda, is still on 
exhibition. I can remember the party well, though nearly all 
of them are now on the farther side. I see Lady Dorothy 
Nevill with her mittened hands and her prim pussy-cat man¬ 
ner, retailing gossip about Disraeli’s flirtations. Sir Henry 
James walks under the trees with bended head, talking to the 


239 


Some Notable People 

rising barrister who is destined as Lord Reading to be Viceroy 
of India. Lady Cleveland, mother of Lord Rosebery, is 
listening with her old face wreathed in smiles to Lady Dor¬ 
othy’s scandal. Young Harry Irving looks unutterably bored 
as Lord Burnham explains golf to him, bending his head over 
to get a glimpse of the ball round the curve of his goodly waist¬ 
coat. Mr. Asquith stands smiling beside them. As one looks 
back they seem all to have been shadow.s in a world of shadow. 

Lord Burnham’s hobby was Turkish baths, and he had an 
excellent one in the front of the house, the drying room being 
the first door on the right as one entered, and being a simple 
sitting-room as far as appearance went. AVith his usual kind 
hospitality Lord Burnham had urged me to try his bath, and 
having done so I was placed, arrayed in a long towel, and with 
another towel screwed round my head, in the drying room. 
Presently the door opened, and entered Arthur Balfour, Prime 
Minister of England. He knew nothing of the house or its 
ways, and I can remember the amazement with which he gazed 
at me. Lord Burnham following at his heels introduced me, 
and I raised the towel on my head. There were no explana¬ 
tions, and I felt that he went away with the impression that 
this was my usual costume. 

I did not see him after that week-end — he kept his room, I 
remember, until midday on the Sunday — until some years 
later when, after heavy domestic loss, I was endeavouring to 
collect myself again in a little inn near Dunbar. He heard of 
my presence, and in his kindness sent a car over from AVhit- 
tinghame, only a few miles away, with a request that I should 
come over for a couple of days. There was present his brother, 
Gerald Balfour, a man with a beautifully refined face and 
manner, not unlike that of Andrew Lang. His wife is the 
famous Lady Betty Balfour, the daughter of Lord Lytton. 
AVhen one thinks of that group of inter-allied families — the 
Balfours, Cecils, Sedgwicks, and Lyttons — it seems a sort of 
nerve ganglion of British life. There was also Lady Frances 
Balfour, who was a daughter of the Duke of Argyle, and not 
unlike him, as I can remember him. Her husband was Arthur 
Balfour’s brother, an architect and antiquary, while another 
brother was Colonel of the London Scottish. Finally, there 


240 Memories and Adventures 

was Miss Alice Balfouf, a very sweet and gentle intellectual 
person, who was my actual hostess. 

I found Arthur Balfour in great spirits because he had just 
won a golf medal at North Berwick. He seemed as pleased 
as any schoolboy, and his sister told me that no political success 
ever gave him the keen pleasure which he had from his golf 
victory. He was an average player, orthodox in style, and 
about 10 or 12 in handicap. He proved to be a charming host, 
for he was a good listener, seeming to be really eager to hear 
your opinion, laughed heartily at small provocation, and talked 
always very frankly and modestly of himself. After my long 
solitude I was more loquacious, I remember, than is my way, 
but he bore it with good humour. 

Every night — or at least on the Sunday night — the whole 
staff of the large rambling establishment, maids and grooms, 
some twenty in all, came in for prayers, which were read by 
the head of the house. It was fine to hear groom and states¬ 
man praying humbly together that they be forgiven the sins 
of the day, and merging all earthly distinctions in the presence 
of that which is above us all. 

He was very interesting when he spoke of the outrage which 
the Russian fleet had committed when, on their way to Japan, 
they opened fire at the British trawlers on the Dogger Bank. 
It was curious to hear his gentle voice and to note his listless 
impersonal manner while he spoke in this fashion: “ I was very 
angry, really very angry about that affair. If our fleet had 
been at home I should have been inclined to have stopped them 
in the Straits. Of course, one would not do that unless one had 
overpowering force, so as to avoid bloodshed and save the Rus¬ 
sian face. Their Ambassador called that morning and gave 
complete assurances, or really I should have had to do some¬ 
thing. He got himself into trouble with his own Government, 
who felt that he had given away their case.” 

I asked him how Cabinet Councils were worked. He said 
that they voted upon points and went by majorities, unless it 
was a vital thing, when of course the dissenters must resign. 

I observed in his character a very great horror of cowardice. 
Nothing seemed to arouse such scorn in him. He grew quite 
red, I remember, as he spoke of Lord George Sackville, and 


241 


Some Notable People 

recalled that though he had been broken and should have been 
shot at the Battle of Minden in 1759, he was none the less 
Minister of War during the American campaign. He was also, 
as I reminded him, a most debauched man; and the murder of 
his mistress, Miss Reay, the actress, by her true lover, the 
clergyman Hackman, was one of the causes celebres of that 
century. 

I shall always carry away the memory of that yisit — a 
bright gleam in a dark passage of life. I see very clearly the 
old house, the huge broken tree outside, inside which a State 
conspiracy was once hatched, the fine library with its wealth 
of French memoirs, and above all the remarkable man who 
stood for so much in the life of the country. I was not at that 
time so convinced of the primary importance of psychic things 
as I became later, and I regret it, as this would have been 
my one opportunity to explore a knowledge which at that time 
was certainly greater than my own. Years later, when the 
fight was heavy upon me, and when I was almost alone in the 
polemical arena, I wrote to Mr. Balfour, and charged him with 
sharing all my convictions and yet leaving me to defend them 
single-handed. His answer was: “ Surely my opinions upon 
this subject are already sufficiently well known,” which is 
surely an admission that I was right in my description of them, 
and yet was not much of a prop to me in my time of need. 

I cast my mind back to other statesmen whom I have known, 
and Mr. Asquith’s kindly personality comes into my memory. 
I remember playing a round of golf with him once — and a 
very had player he was — but his conversation as we went 
round was plus four. He was a naturally sweet-natured man, 
but under that gentleness there lay judgment and firmness, as 
was shown at the great crisis of history. He never said too 
much, but what he did say he lived up to. In conducting us 
safely through those first two years of war he did that for 
which he has never had sufficient credit, and the more light we 
have had since, the more clear it has been that Lord Kitchener 
and he were really doing all that men could do, in munition 
work and all other ways. Because he had the solid Yorkshire 
stolidity, more nervous and excitable people thought that he 
did not take the war sufficiently seriously, while the constant 


242 


Memories and Adventures 


lies about tbe pro-German tendencies of bis wife increased the 
evil impression. We owe him a reparation which is second 
only to that which is due to Lord Haldane. 

And that is indeed a heavy one. If one man could be 
named who was absolutely indispensable to victory it was Hal¬ 
dane. He it was who built up the whole splendid weapon which 
flashed so swiftly from its sheath, and which Germany was 
so amazed to find directed at its breast as it rushed forward 
upon its furious course. He could not work miracles; he 
could not introduce conscription when a candidate with such 
a programme would have been chased from the hustings; he 
could not prepare the public mind in some dramatic way which 
would have precipitated the very crash which there was still 
some chance of avoiding. But all we had he gave us — the 
eight divisions which saved France, the Territorials who 
carried on the good work until the new armies were ready and 
the Officers’ Training Corps, which strengthened us where we 
should have been fatally weak. There has never been so foolish 
and ungrateful a clamour as that which has been raised against 
Haldane. I remember that when he took the chair for me in 
the first war lecture which I gave in London there were cries 
of “ Traitor! ” from people, chiefly women, among the audi¬ 
ence. I had never seen Haldane before, and have never seen 
him since, so I have no personal bias in the matter, but I am 
proud that it was in my first volume of the “ History of the 
War,” published in 1915, that I first put forward the unpopu¬ 
lar view which will now be more fully accepted. 

With George Meredith I had several interesting connections. 
I have the greatest possible admiration for him at his best, 
while his worst is such a handicap that I think it will drag 
four-fifths of his work to oblivion. If his own generation finds 
him hard to understand, what will our descendants make of 
him \ He will be a cult among a few — a precious few in every 
sense. And yet I fully recognize that his was the most active 
original brain and the most clever pen of any man, novelist or 
other-wise, of my time. Knowing this well, it is strange that 
I can see so limited a future for him. His subtle and intricate 
mind seemed unable to realize the position of the plain outsiders 
who represent the world. He could not see how his stained- 


Some Notable People 243 

glass might be less effective than the plain transparent sub¬ 
stance as a medium for vision. The first requisite is to be in¬ 
telligible. The second is td be interesting. The third is to 
be clever. Meredith enormously filled the third, but he was un¬ 
equal upon the other two. Hence he will never, in spite of the 
glories of “ Richard Feverel ” be on an equality with Dickens 
or Thackeray, who filled all three. He had simply no idea 
how his words would strike a less complex mind. I remember 
that once in the presence of Barrie, Quiller-Couch and myself, 
he read out a poem which he had inscribed “ To the British 
Working-Man ” in the “ Westminster Gazette.” I don’t know 
what the British working-man made of it, but I am sure that 
we three were greatly puzzled as to what it was about. 

I had written some articles on his work, which had been one 
of my youthful cults, and that led to his inviting me to see 
him at his villa at Box Hill — the first of several such visits. 
There had been a good deal in the papers about his health, so 
that I was surprised w T hen, as I opened the garden gate, a slight 
but robust gentleman in a grey suit and a red tie swung out 
of the hall door and came singing loudly down the path. I 
suppose he was getting on to seventy at the time but he looked 
younger, and his artistic face was good to the eye. Greeting 
me he pointed to a long steep hill behind the house and said: 
“ I have just been up to the top for a walk.” I looked at the 
sharp slope and said: “ You must be in good trim to do it.” He 
looked angry and said: “ That would be a proper compliment 
to pay to an octogenarian.” I was a little nettled by his 
touchiness, so I answered: “ I understood that I was talking 
to an invalid.” It really seemed as if my visit would termi¬ 
nate at the garden gate, but presently he relented, and we soon 
became quite friendly. 

He had in his youth been a judge of wine, and had still a 
reverence for a good vintage, but unfortunately some nervous 
complaint from which he suffered had caused the doctors to 
prohibit it absolutely. When lunch came round he asked me 
with a very earnest air whether I could undertake to drink a 
whole bottle of Burgundy. I answered that I saw no insuper¬ 
able difficulty. A dusty old bottle was tenderly carried up, 
which I disposed of, Meredith taking a friendly interest in its 


244 Memories and Adventures 

dispatch. “ The fact is,” said he, “ I love my wine, and my 
little cellar was laid down with care and judgment, so that 
when some guest comes and drinks a glass and wastes the rest 
of the bottle it goes to my heart. It really did me good to see 
you enjoy that one.” I need not say that I intimated that I 
was always prepared to oblige. 

His conversation was extraordinarily vivid and dramatic, 
uttered in a most vehement tone. It may have been artificial, 
and it may have been acting, but it was very arresting and 
entertaining. The talk got upon Napoleon’s Marshals, and 
you would have thought that he knew them intimately, and he 
did Murat’s indignation at being told to charge au bout, as if 
he ever charged any other way, in a fashion which would have 
brought down the house. Every now and then he brought out 
a Meredithian sentence which sounded comic when applied to 
domestic matters. When the jelly swayed about as the maid 
put it on the table he said: “ The jelly, Mary, is as treacherous 
as the Trojan Horse.” He laughed when I told him how my 
groom, enlisted as a waiter for some special dinner, said, 
“ Huddup, there,” to the jelly under similar circumstances. 

After lunch we walked up a steep path to the little chalet 
or summerhouse where he used to write. He wished to read 
me a novel which he had begun twenty years before, but which 
he had not had the heart to go on with. I liked it greatly — 
and we roared with laughter at his description of an old sea- 
dog who turned up the collar of his coat when he went into 
action as if the bullets were rain. He said that my hearty 
enjoyment encouraged him to go on with it, and it has since 
appeared as the “ Amazing Marriage,” but whether I really 
had anything to do with it I do not know. I should be proud 
to think so. 

The nervous complaint from which he suffered caused him 
to fall down occasionally. As we walked up the narrow path 
to the chalet I heard him fall behind me, but judged from the 
sound that it was a mere slither and could not have hurt him. 
Therefore I walked on as if I had heard nothing. He was a 
fiercely proud old man, and my instincts told me that his 
humiliation in being helped up would be far greater than any 
relief I could give him. It was certainly a nice point to decide. 


245 


Some Notable People 

George Meredith’s religious convictions were very difficult to 
decide. He certainly had no glimmering so far as I could see 
of any psychic element in life, and I should imagine that on 
the whole he shared the opinions of his friend, John Morley, 
which were completely negative. And yet I remember his as¬ 
suring me that prayer was a very necessary thing, and that 
one should never abandon prayer. “ Who rises from prayer 
a better man, his prayer is granted,” says the Aphorist in 
“Richard Feverel.” How far these positions can he harmon¬ 
ized I do not know. I suppose that one may say that God is 
unknown, and yet rear a mental temple to the unknown God. 

Rudyard Kipling I know far less than I should, considering 
how deeply I admire his writings, and that we live in the same 
country; but we are both absorbed in work, and both much away 
from home, which may explain it. I can well remember how 
eagerly I bought his first book, “ Plain Tales,” in the old South- 
sea days, when buying a book was a rare strain upon my ex¬ 
chequer. I read it with delight, and realized not only that a 
new force had arisen in literature, but that a new method of 
story writing had appeared which was very different from my 
own adherence to the careful plot artfully developed. This was 
go-as-you-please take-it-or-leave-it work, which glowed sud¬ 
denly up into an incandescent phrase or paragraph, which was 
the more effective for its sudden advent. In form his stories 
were crude, and yet in effect — which, after all, is everything 
— they were superb. It showed me that methods could not be 
stereotyped, and that there was a more excellent way, even if 
it were beyond my reach. I loved the “ Barrack Room Bal¬ 
lads ” also, and such poems as “ The Bolivar,” “ East and 
West,” and above all the badly named “ L’Envoi ” became part 
of my very self. I always read the last one aloud to my little 
circle before we start on any fresh expedition, because it con¬ 
tains the very essence of travel, romance, and high adventure. 

I saw Kipling most nearly in his very early days when he 
lived at Brattleboro, a little village in Vermont, in a chival¬ 
rous desire to keep his newly married wife in touch with her 
own circle. In 1894, as I have recorded, there was a good deal 
of tail-twisting going on in the States, and Kipling pulled a 
few feathers out of the Eagle’s tail in retaliation, which caused 


246 Memories and Adventures 

x 

many screams of protest, for the American was far more sensi¬ 
tive to such things than the case-hardened Briton. I say 
“ was,” for I think as a nation with an increased assurance of 
their own worth and strength they are now more careless of 
criticism. The result at the time was to add oil to flames, and 
I, as a passionate believer in Anglo-American union, wrote to 
Kipling to remonstrate. He received my protest very good- 
humouredly, and it led to my visit to his country home. As a 
matter of fact, the concern shown in America, when the poet 
lay at death’s door a few years later, showed that the rancour 
was not very deep. Perhaps he was better known at that time 
in America than in England, for I remember sitting beside a 
bushman in London, who bowed his red face to my ear and 
said: “ Beg your pardon, sir, but ’oo is this ’ere Kilpin ? ” 

I had two great days in Vermont, and have a grateful re¬ 
membrance of Mrs. Kipling’s hospitality. The poet read me 
u McAndrew’s Hymn,” which he had just done, and surprised 
me by his dramatic power which enabled him to sustain the 
Glasgow accent throughout, so that the angular Scottish greaser 
simply walked the room. I had brought up my golf clubs and 
gave him lessons in a field while the Mew England rustics 
watched us from afar, wondering what on earth we were at, for 
golf was unknown in America at that time. We parted good 
friends, and the visit was an oasis in my rather dreary pil¬ 
grimage as a lecturer. 

My glimpses of Kipling since then have been few and scat¬ 
tered, but I had the pleasure several times of meeting his old 
father, a most delightful and lovable person, who told a story 
quite as well as his famous son. As the mother was also a 
very remarkable woman, it is no wonder that he carried such 
a cargo. 

James Barrie is one of my oldest literary friends, and I 
knew him within a year or two of the time when we both came 
to London. He had just written his “ Window in Thrums,” 
and I, like all the world, acclaimed it. When I was lecturing 
in Scotland in 1893 he invited me to Kirriemuir, when I 
stayed some days with his family — splendid types of the folk 
who have made Scotland great. His father was a fine fellow, but 
his mother was wonderful with a head and a heart — rare com- 


Some Notable People 247 

bmations — which made me class her with my own mother. 
Kirriemuir could by no means understand Barrie’s success, and 
looked upon their great son as an inexplicable phenomenon. 
They were acutely aware, however, that tourists were arriving 
from all parts to see the place on account of Barrie’s books. 
“ I suppose you have read them,” I said to the wife of the 
local hotel man. “ Aye, I’ve read them, and steep, steep, weary 
work it was,” said she. She had some theory that it was a 
four-horse coach which her good man was running, and not 
the hooks at all which accounted for the boom. 

Great as are Barrie’s plays — and some of them I think are 
very great — I wish he had never written a line for the theatre. 
The glamour of it and the — to him — easy success have 
diverted from literature the man with the purest style of his 
age. Plays are always ephemeral, however good, and are 
limited to a few, hut Barrie’s unborn hooks might have been 
an eternal and a universal asset of British literature. He has 
the chaste clarity which is the great style, which has been de¬ 
based by a generation of wretched critics who have always con¬ 
fused what is clear with what is shallow, and what is turbid 
with what is profound. If a man’s thought is precise, his 
rendering of it is precise, and muddy thoughts make obscure 
paragraphs. If I had to make my choice among modern 
stylists, I should pick Barrie for the lighter forms of expres¬ 
sion and our British Winston Churchill for the more classical. 

Barrie’s great play — one of the finest in the language — is 
of course “ The Admirable Crichton.” I shall always hope 
that I had a hand in the fashioning of it. I say this not in 
complaint but in satisfaction, for we all drop seeds into each 
other, and seldom know whence they come. We were walking 
together on the Heath at Kirriemuir when I said: “ I had a 
quaint thought in the night, Barrie. It was that a king was 
visiting India and was wrecked on the way on some island 
far from the track of ships. Only he and one rather handy 
sailor were saved. They settled down to spend their lives 
together. Of course the result would he that the sailor would 
become the king and the king the subject.” We chuekled over 
the idea, and when Crichton appeared, I seemed to see the 
fine plant which had grown from the tiny seed. 


248 


Memories and Adventures 


Barrie and I had one unfortunate venture together, in which 
I may say that the misfortune was chiefly mine, since I had 
really nothing to do with the matter, and yet shared all the 
trouble. However, I should have shared the honour and profit 
in case of success, so that I have no right to grumble. The 
facts were that Barrie had promised Mr. D’Oyley Carte that 
he would provide the libretto of a light opera for the Savoy. 
This was in the Gilbert days, when such a libretto was judged 
by a very high standard. It was an extraordinary commis¬ 
sion for him to accept, and I have never yet been able to under¬ 
stand why he did so, unless, like Alexander, he wanted fresh 
worlds to conquer. On this occasion, however, he met with a 
disastrous repulse, and the opera, “ Jane Annie,” to which I 
alluded in an early chapter, was one of the few failures in his 
brilliant career. 

I was brought into the matter because Barrie’s health failed 
on account of some family bereavement. I had an urgent tele¬ 
gram from him at Aldburgh, and going there I found him very 
worried because he had hound himself by this contract, and he 
felt in his present state unable to go forward with it. There 
were to be two acts, and he had written the first one, and had 
the rough scenario of the second, with the complete sequence of 
events — if one may call it a sequence. Would I come in with 
him and help him to complete it as part author? Of course 
I was very happy to serve him in any way. My heart sank, 
however, when, after giving the promise, I examined the work. 
The only literary gift which Barrie has not got is the sense 
of poetic rhythm, and the instinct for what is permissible in 
verse. Ideas and wit were in abundance. But the plot itself 
was not strong though the dialogue and the situations also were 
occasionally excellent. I did my best and wrote the lyrics for 
the second act, and much of the dialogue, but it had to take the 
predestined shape. The result was not good. However, the 
actual comradeship of production was very amusing and in¬ 
teresting, and our failure was mainly painful to us because it 
let down the producer and the caste. We were well abused by 
the critics, but Barrie took it all in the bravest spirit. 

I find, in looking over my papers, a belated statement of 
account from Barrie which is good reading. 


Some Notable People 

In Account with J. M. Barrie. 


249 


Why. 

A £1 Lent at Sta¬ 
tion. 

B £12 Jane Annie 
on Tour. 

C £30 6s. 4<L Heaven 
knows. 


Cause of delay. 

Object moving too 
fast. 

Moving or swaying 
of Kodak. 

Failure to pull cord. 


Bemarlcs. 

Doyle says he lent 
it. 

Better late than 
never. 

Doyle gets % of a 
penny beyond his 
share. 


Our associations were never so closely renewed, but through 
all my changing life I have had a respect and affection for 
Barrie which were, I hope, mutual. How I collaborated with 
him at cricket as well as at work is told in my chapter on 
Sport. 

Henry Irving is one of the other great men whom I have met 
at close quarters, for his acting of Gregory Brewster brought 
us in contact. When he was producing “ Coriolanus ” he came 
down to Hindhead and used to drop in of an evening. He was 
fond of a glass of port — indeed, he was one of the four great 
men who were stated (probably untruly) by the Hon G. Rus¬ 
sell to drink a bottle each night — being the only trait which 
these great men had in common. The others, I remember, 
were Tennyson, Gladstone and Moses Montefiori, and the last 
I believe was really true. Like all bad habits, it overtook the 
sinner at last, and he was cut off at the age of 116. 

Irving had a curious dry wit which was occasionally sar¬ 
donic and ill-natured. I can well believe that his rehearsals 
were often the occasion for heart-burnings among the men 
and tears among the ladies. The unexpectedness of his re¬ 
marks took one aback. I remember when my friend Hamilton 
sat up with me into the “ wee sma ’ hours ” with the famous 
man, he became rather didactic on the subject of the Deity 
or the Universe or some other tremendous topic, which he 
treated very solemnly, and at great length. Irving sat with his 
intense eyes riveted upon the speaker’s face, which encouraged 
Hamilton to go on and on. When at last he had finished, Irv¬ 
ing remarked: “ What a low comedian you would have made! ” 


250 Memories and Adventures 

He wound up his visit by giving me his copy of “ Coriolanus ” 
with all bis notes and stage directions — a very precious relic. 

Many visions of old times rise before my eyes as I write, but 
my book would lose all proportion should I dwell upon them. 
I see Henley, the formidable cripple, a red-bearded, loud- 
voiced buccaneer of a man who could only crawl, for his back 
appeared to be broken. He was a great poet and critic who 
seemed to belong to the roaring days of Marlowe of the mighty 
line and the pothouse fray. I see Haggard too, first as the 
young spruce diplomatist, later as the worn and bearded man 
with strange vague tendencies to mysticism. Shaw, too, I see 
with the pleasant silky voice and the biting phrase. It was 
strange that all the mild vegetables which formed his diet made 
him more pugnacious and, I must add, more uncharitable than 
the carnivorous man, so that I have known no literary man who 
was more nithless to other people’s feelings. And yet to meet 
him was always to like him. He could not resist a bitter jest 
or the perverted pleasure of taking up an unpopular attitude. 
As an example I remember Henry Irving telling me that when 
Shaw was invited to his father’s funeral he wrote in reply: 
“ If I were at Westminster Henry Irving would turn in his 
grave, just as Shakespeare would turn in his grave were Henry 
Irving at Stratford.” I may not have it verbally exact, but 
that was near enough. It was the kind of oiitrageous thing 
that he would say. And yet one can forgive him all when one 
reads the glorious dialogue of some of his plays. He seems 
subhuman in emotion and superhuman in intellect. 

Shaw was always a thorn in Irving’s side, and was usually 
the one jarring note among the chorus of praise which greeted 
each fresh production. At a first night at the Lyceum — those 
wonderful first nights which have never been equalled — the 
lanky Irishman with his greenish face, his red beard, and his 
sardonic expression must have been like the death’s-head at 
the banquet to Irving. Irving ascribed this animosity to 
Shaw’s pique because his plays were not accepted, but in this 
I am sure that he did an injustice. It was simply that con¬ 
trary twist in the man which makes him delight in opposing 
whatever anyone else approved. There is nothing construc¬ 
tive in him, and he is bound to be in perpetual opposition. Ho 


251 


Some Notable People 

** 

one for example was stronger for peace and for non-militarism 
than he, and I remember that when I took the chair at a meet¬ 
ing at Hindhead to back up the Tsar’s peace proposals at The 
Hague, I thought to myself as I spied Shaw in a corner of the 
room: “ Well, this time at any rate he must be in sympathy.” 
But far from being so he sprang to his feet and put forward 
a number of ingenious reasons why these proposals for peace 
would be disastrous. Do what you could he was always against 
you. 

Perhaps it is no bad thing to have the other point of view 
continually stated, and the British stand that sort of thing 
better than other nations. Had Shaw said in America what 
he said in England about the war whilst it was in progress he 
would have been in personal danger. There were times, how¬ 
ever, when his queer contrary impulses became perfectly brutal 
in their working. One was at the time of the Titanic disaster, 
when he deliberately wrote a letter at a time when the wounds 
were raw, overwhelming every one concerned with bitter 
criticism. I was moved to write a remonstrance, and we had 
a sharp debate in public, which did not in any way modify our 
kindly personal relations. I can recall a smaller but even more 
unjustifiable example of his sour nature when he was staying 
at Hindhead. A garden-party had been got up for some 
charity, and it included the woodland scenes of “ As You Like 
It,” which were done by amateurs, and very well done too. 
Shaw with no provocation wrote a whole column of abuse in 
the local paper, spattering all the actors and their performance 
with ridicule, and covering them with confusion, though indeed 
they had nothing to be ashamed of. One mentions these things 
as characteristic of one side of the man, and as a proof, I fear, 
that the adoption by the world of a vegetarian diet will not 
bring unkind thoughts or actions to an end. But with it all 
Shaw is a genial creature to meet, and I am prepared to believe 
that there is a human kindly side to his nature though it has 
not been presented to the public. It took a good man to write 
“ Saint Joan.” 

Wells, too, I have known long, and indeed I must have often 
entered the draper’s shop in which he was employed at South- 
sea, for the proprietor was a patient of mine. Wells is one of 


252 Memories and Adventures 

the great fruits which popular education has given us, since 
he came, as he is proud to state, from the heart of the people. 
His democratic frankness and complete absence of class feeling 
are occasionally embarrassing. I remember his asking me 
once if I had played cricket at Liphook. I said that I had. 
He said: “ Hid you notice an old fellow who acts as profes¬ 
sional and ground-keeper ? ” I said that I had. “ That was 
my father,” said Wells. I was too much surprised to answer, 
and could only congratulate myself that I had made no un¬ 
pleasant comments before I knew the identity of the old man. 

I have always had my doubts as to those elaborate forecasts 
of the future in which Wells indulges. He has, it is true, made 
a couple of good shots which have already materialized in the 
tanks and in the machine which would deliver news in our own 
houses. But he has never shown any perception of the true 
meaning of the psychic, and for want of it his history of the 
world, elaborate and remarkable as it was, seemed to me to 
be a body without a soul. However, this also may be given 
him, and it will make his equipment complete. I remember 
discussing the matter with him, when George Gissing, Hor- 
nung, he and I foregathered in Rome early in this century, but 
apparently my words had no effect. 

Willie Hornung, my brother-in-law, is another of my vivid 
memories. He was a Dr. Johnson without the learning but 
with a finer wit. Ho one could say a neater thing, and his 
writings, good as they are, never adequately represented the 
powers of the man, nor the quickness of his brain. These 
things depend upon the time and the fashion, and go flat in the 
telling, but I remember how, when I showed him the record 
of some one who claimed to have done 100 yards under ten 
seconds, he said: “ It is a sprinter’s error.” Golf he could not 
abide, for he said it was “ unsportsmanlike to hit a sitting 
ball.” His criticism upon my Sherlock Holmes was: “ Though 
he might be more humble, there is no police like Holmes.” I 
think I may claim that his famous character Raffles was a kind 
of inversion of Sherlock Holmes, Bunny playing Watson. He 
admits as much in his kindly dedication. I think there are 
few finer examples of short-story writing in our language than 
these, though I confess I think they are rather dangerous in 


Some Notable People 253 

their suggestion. I told him so before he put pen to paper, 
and the result has, I fear, borne me out. You must not 
make the criminal a hero. 

Jerome, too, is an old friend. He is an adventurous soul, 
and at one time started a four-in-hand. I remember sitting 
on the top of it, and when one of the leaders turned right round 
and took a good look at the driver I thought it was time to 
get down. Maxwell also is an old friend. He is, of course, 
the son of Miss Braddon, who married a publisher of that 
name. I respect him for doing a man’s work in the war when, 
though he was fifty years of age, and had led a sedentary life, 
he volunteered for a fighting battalion, a credit which he shares 
with A. E. W. Mason. Maxwell’s work has always greatly ap¬ 
pealed to me, and I have long looked upon him as the greatest 
novelist that we possess. 

I never met Robert Louis Stevenson in the flesh, though I 
owe so much to him in the literary spirit. Never can I forget 
the delight with which I read those early stories of his in the 
“ Cornhill,” before I knew the name of the author. I still 
think that “ The Pavilion on the Links ” is one of the great 
short stories of the world, though there were alterations in the 
final form which were all for the worse, and showed prudery 
upon the part of the publishers. Stevenson’s last year at Edin¬ 
burgh University must have just about coincided with my first 
one, and Barrie must also have been in that grey old nest of 
learning about the year 1876. Strange to think that I prob¬ 
ably brushed elbows with both of them in the crowded portal. 

From his far-away home in Samoa he seemed to keep a quick 
eye upon literary matters in England, and I had most encour¬ 
aging letters from him in 1893 and 1894. “ 0 frolic fellow- 

spookist ” was his curious term of personal salutation in one 
of these, which showed that he shared my interest in psychic 
research but did not take it very seriously. I cannot guess how 
at that time he had detected it, though I was aware that he had 
himself in early days acted as secretary to a psychic research 
or rather to a Spiritualist society in Edinburgh, which studied 
the remarkable mediumship of Duguid. His letters to me con¬ 
sisted of kind appreciation of my work. “ I have a great talent 
for compliment,” he said, “ accompanied by a hateful, even a 


254 Memories and Adventures 

diabolic, frankness.” He had, been retailing some of my Sher¬ 
lock Holmes yarns to his native servants — I should not have 
thought that he needed to draw upon anyone else — and he 
complained to me in a comical letter of the difficulty of telling 
a story when you had to halt every moment to explain what a 
railway was, what an engineer was, and so forth. He got the 
story across in spite of all difficulties, and, said he, “ If you 
could have seen the bright feverish eyes of Simite you would 
have tasted glory.” But he explained that the natives took 
everything literally, and that there was no such thing as an 
imaginary story for them. “ I, who write this, have had the 
indiscretion to perpetuate a trifling piece of fiction, ‘ The Bottle 
Imp.’ Parties who come up to visit my mansion, after having 
admired the ceiling by Yanderputty and the tapestry by Gob¬ 
bling, manifest towards the end a certain uneasiness which 
proves them to be fellows of an infinite delicacy. They may 
be seen to shrug a brown shoulder, to roll up a speaking eye, 
and at last the secret bursts from them: ‘ Where is the bot¬ 
tle ? ’ ” In another letter he said that as I had written of my 
first book in the “ Idler ” he also would do so. “ I could not 
hold back where the white plume of Conan Doyle waved in 
front of me.” So, at least, I may boast that it is to me that 
the world owes the little personal sketch about “ Treasure 
Island ” which appeared in that year. I cannot forget the 
shock that it was to me when driving down the Strand in a 
hansom cab in 1896 I saw upon a yellow evening poster “ Death 
of Stevenson.” Something seemed to have passed out of my 
world. 

I was asked by his executors to finish the novel “ St. Ives,” 
which he had left three-quarters completed, but I did not feel 
equal to the task. It was done, however, and, I understand, 
very well done, by Quiller-Couch. It is a desperately difficult 
thing to carry on another man’s story, and must be a more or 
less mechanical effort. I had one experience of it when my 
neighbour at Hindhead, Grant Allen, was on his death-bed. 
He was much worried because there were two numbers of his 
serial, “ Hilda Wade,” which was running in “ The Strand” 
magazine, still uncompleted. It w^as a pleasure for me to do 
them for him, and so relieve his mind, but it was difficult collar 


255 


Some Notable People 

** 

work, and I expect they were pretty bad. Some time after¬ 
wards a stranger, who evidently confused Allen and me, wrote 
to say that his wife had given him a baby girl, and that in 
honour of me he was calling her Hilda Wade. He was really 
nearer the truth than appeared at first sight. 

I well remember that death-bed of Grant Allen’s. He was 
an agnostic of a type which came very near atheism, though in 
his private life an amiable and benevolent man. Believing 
what he did, the approach of death must have offered rather a 
bleak prospect, and as he had paroxysms of extreme pain the 
poor fellow seemed very miserable. I had often argued the 
case with him, I from a Theistic and he from a negative point 
of view, hut I did not intrude my opinions or disturb his mind 
at that solemn moment. Death-bed changes, though some 
clergy may rejoice in them, are really vain things. His brain, 
however, was as clear as ever, and his mind was occupied with 
all manner of strange knowledge, which he imparted in the 
intervals of his pain, in the curious high nasal voice which was 
characteristic. I can see him now, his knees drawn up to ease 
internal pain, and his long thin nose and reddish-grey goatee 
protruding over the sheet, while he croaked out: “ Byzantine 
art, my dear Doyle, was of three periods, the middle one 
roughly coinciding with the actual fall of the Roman Empire. 

The characteristics of the first period — : -” and so on, until he 

woTild give a cry, clasp his hands across his stomach, and wait 
till the pain passed before resuming his lecture. His dear 
little wife nursed him devotedly, and mitigated the gloom of 
those moments which can be made the very happiest in life if 
one understands what lies before one. One thinks, as a con¬ 
trast, of Dr. Hodgson’s impatient cry, “ I can hardly wait for 
death! ” 

Grant Allen’s strong opinions in print, and a certain pleas¬ 
ure he took in defending outside positions, gave quite a false 
view of his character, which was gentle and benignant. I re¬ 
member his coming to a fancy dress hall which we gave in the 
character of a Cardinal, and in that guise all the quiet dignity 
of the man seemed to come out and you realized how much our 
commonplace modern dress disguises the real man. He used 
to tell with great amusement how a couple, who afterwards 



256 Memories and Adventures 

became close friends, came first to call, and bow as they waited 
on the doorstep the wife said to the husband: “ Remember, 
John, if he openly blasphemes, I leave the room.” He had, I 
remember, very human relations with the maids who took a 
keen interest in their employer’s scientific experiments. On 
one occasion these were connected with spiders, and the maid 
rushed into the drawing-room and cried: “ Oh, sir, Araminta 
has got a wasp.” Araminta was the name given to the big 
spider which he was observing at the time. 

Grant Allen had no actual call to write fiction, but his brain 
was agile enough to make some sort of job of anything to which 
it turned. On the other hand, as a popular scientist he stood 
alone, or shared the honour with Samuel Laing. His only real 
success in fiction was the excellent short story “ John Creedy,” 
where he combined science with fiction, with remarkable 
results. 

At the time when I and so many others turned to letters 
there was certainly a wonderful vacancy for the new-comer. 
The giants of old had all departed. Thackeray, Dickens, 
Charles Reade and Trollope were memories. There was no great 
figure remaining save Hardy. The rising novelist was Mrs. 
Humphry Ward, who was just beginning her career with 
“ Robert Elsmere,” the first of that series of novels which will 
illuminate the later Victorian era more clearly than any his¬ 
torian ever can do. I think it was Hodgkin who said, when he 
read “ Count Robert of Paris ”: “ Here have I been studying 
Byzantium all my life, and I never understood it until this 
blessed Scotch lawyer came along.” That is the special pre¬ 
rogative of imagination. Trollope and Mrs. Ward have the 
whole Victorian civilization dissected and preserved. 

Then there were Meredith, unintelligible to most, and Wal¬ 
ter Besant. There was Wilkie Collins, too, with his fine stories 
of mystery, and finally there was James Payn. 

Payn was much greater than his books. The latter were 
usually rather mechanical, but to get at the real man one has 
to read such articles as his “ Literary Reminiscences,” and 
especially his “Backwater of Life.” He had all that humor¬ 
ous view which Nature seems to give as a compensation to 
those whose strength is weak. Had Payn written only essays 


Some Notable People 257 

he would have rivalled Charles Lamb. I knew him best in his 
latter days, when he was crippled with illness, and his poor 
fingers so twisted with rheumatic arthritis that they seemed 
hardly human. He was intensely pessimistic as to his own 
fate. “ Don’t make any mistake, Doyle, death is a horrible 
thing — horrible! I suffer the agonies of the damned! ” But 
five minutes later he would have his audience roaring with 
laughter, and his own high treble laugh would be the loudest 
of all. 

His own ailments were frequently a source of mirth. I 
remember how he described the breaking of a blood-vessel in 
Bournemouth and how they carried him home on a litter. He 
was dimly conscious of the fir-woods through which he passed. 
“ I thought it was my funeral, and that they had done me well 
in the matter of plumes.” When he told a story he was so 
carried away by his sense of humour that he could hardly get 
the end out, and he finished up in a kind of scream. An 
American had called upon him at some late hour and had dis¬ 
coursed upon Assyrian tablets. “ I thought they were some¬ 
thing to eat,” he screamed. He was an excellent whist player, 
and the Baldwin Club used to send three members to his house 
on certain days so that the old fellow should not go without 
his game. This game was very scientific. He would tell with 
delight how he asked some novice: “ Do you play the pen¬ 
ultimate ? ” To which the novice answered: “ Ho — but my 
brother plays the American organ.” 

Many of my generation of authors had reason to love him, 
for he was a human and kindly critic. His writing however, 
was really dreadful. It was of him that the story was told that 
an author handed one of his letters to a chemist for a test. 
The chemist retired for a time and then returned with a bottle 
and demanded half a crown. Better luck attended the man 
who received an illegible letter from a railway director. He 
used it as a free pass upon the line. Payn used to joke about 
his own writing, but it was a very real trouble when one could 
not make out whether he had accepted or rejected one’s story. 
There was one letter in which I could only read the words “ in¬ 
fringement of copyright.” He was very funny when he de¬ 
scribed the work of the robust younger school. “ I have re- 


253 Memories and Adventures 

ceived a story from-” he said, “ 5,000 words, mostly 

damns.” 

I knew Sir Henry Thompson, the> famous surgeon, very well, 
and was frequently honoured by an invitation to his famous 
octave dinners, at which eight carefully chosen male guests 
were always the company. They always seemed to me to he 
the most wonderful exhibitions of unselfishness, for Thompson 
was not allowed any alcohol, or anything save the most simple 
viands. Possibly, however, like Meredith and the bottle of 
burgundy, he enjoyed some reflex pleasure from the enjoy¬ 
ment of others. He had been a wonderful viveur and judge of 
what was what, and I fear that I disappointed him, for I was 
much more interested in the conversation than the food, and 
it used to annoy me when some argument was interrupted in 
order to tell us that it was not ordinary ham hut a Westphalian 
wild boar that we were eating and that it had been boiled in 
wine for precisely the right time prescribed by the best authori¬ 
ties. But it was part of his wonderful unselfish hospitality to 
make his guests realize exactly what it was that was set before 
them. I have never heard more interesting talk than at these 
male gatherings, for it is notorious that though ladies greatly 
improve the appearance of a feast they usually detract from 
the quality of the talk. Pew men are ever absolutely natural 
when there are women in the room. 

There was one special dinner, I fancy it was the hundredth 
of the series, which was particularly interesting as the Prince 
of Wales, now George V, was one of the eight, and gave us a 
most interesting account of the voyage round the world from 
which he had just returned. Of the rest of the company I can 
only recall Sir Henry Stanley, the traveller, and Sir Crichton 
Browne. Twenty years later I met the King when he visited 
a trade exhibition, and I attended as one of the directors of 
Tuck’s famous postcard firm. He at once said: “ Why, I have 
not seen you since that pleasant dinner when you sat next 
to me at Sir Henry Thompson’s.” It seemed to me to he a re¬ 
markable example of the royal gift of memory. 

I have not often occupied a chair among the seats of the 
mighty. My life has been too busy and too pre-occupied to 
allow me to stray far from my beaten path. The mention of 



Some Notable People 259 

the Prince, however, reminds me of the one occasion when I 
was privileged to entertain — or to attempt to entertain — the 
present Queen. It was at a small dinner to which I was in¬ 
vited by the courtesy of Lord Midleton whose charming wife, 
once Madeleine Stanley, daughter of Lady Helier, I could re¬ 
member since her girlhood. Upon this occasion the Prince and 
Princess came in after dinner, the latter sitting alone at one 
end of the room with a second chair beside her own, which 
was occupied successively by the various gentlemen who were 
to be introduced to her. I was led up in due course, made my 
bow, and sat down at her request. I confess that I found it 
heavy going at first, for I had heard somewhere that Royalty 
has to make the first remark, and had it been the other way 
there was such a gulf between us that I should not have known 
where to begin. However she was very pleasant and gracious 
and began asking me some questions about my works which 
brought me on to very easy ground. Indeed, I became so in¬ 
terested in our talk that I was quite disappointed when Mr. 
John Morley was led up, and I realized that it was time for me 
to vacate the chair. 

There was another amusing incident on that eventful eve¬ 
ning. I had been asked to take in Lady Curzon, whose hus¬ 
band, then Viceroy of India, had been unable to attend. The 
first couple had passed in and there was a moment’s hesitation 
as to who should go next, but Lady Curzon and I were nearest 
the door, so possibly with some little encouragement from the 
lady we filed through. I thought nothing of the incident but 
some great authority upon these matters came to me afterwards 
in great excitement. “ Do you know,” he said, “ that you have 
established a precedent and solved one of the most difficult and 
debatable matters of etiquette that has ever caused ill-feeling 
in British Society.” “ The Lord Chancellor and the College 
of Heralds should be much obliged to you, for you have given 
them a definite lead. There has never been so vexed a ques¬ 
tion as to whether a Vice-reine when she is away from the 
country where she represents royalty shall take precedence 
over a Duchess. There was a Duchess in the room, but you by 
your decided action have settled the matter for ever.” So who 
shall say that I have done nothing in my life ? 


260 Memories and Adventures 

Of the distinguished lights of the law whom I have met from 
time to time I think that Sir Henry Hawkins — then become 
Lord Bampton — made the most definite impression. I met 
him at a week-end gathering at Cliveden, when Mr. Astor was 
our host. On the first night at dinner, before the party had 
shaken down into mutual acquaintance, the ex-judge, very 
old and as bald as an ostrich egg, was seated opposite, and was 
wreathed with smiles as he made himself agreeable to his neigh¬ 
bour. His appearance was so jovial that I remarked to the 
lady upon my left: “ It is curious to notice the appearance of 
our vis-a-vis and to contrast it with his reputation,” alluding 
to his sinister record as an inexorable judge. She seemed 
rather puzzled by my remark, so I added: “ Of course you 
know who he is.” “ Yes,” said she, “ his name is Conan Doyle 
and he writes novels.” I was hardly middle-aged at the time 
and at my best physically, so that I was amused at her mistake, 
which arose from some confusion in the list of guests. I put 
my dinner card up against her wine-glass, so after that we got 
to know each other. 

Hawkins was a most extraordinary man, and so capricious 
that one never knew whether one was dealing with Jekyll or 
with Hyde. It was certainly Hyde when he took eleven hours 
summing up in the Penge case, and did all a man could do to 
have all four of the prisoners condemned to death. Sir Ed¬ 
ward Clarke was so incensed at his behaviour on this occasion 
that he gave notice when Hawkins retired from the bench that 
if there were the usual complimentary ceremonies he would 
protest. So they were dropped. 

I might, on the other hand, illustrate the Jekyll side of him 
by a story which he told me with his own lips. A prisoner had 
a pet mouse. One day the brute of a warder deliberately trod 
upon it. The prisoner caught up his dinner knife and dashed 
at the warder, who only just escaped, the knife stabbing the 
door as it closed behind him. Hawkins as judge wanted to 
get the man off, but the attempt at murder was obvious and the 
law equally clear. What was he to do ? In his charge to the 
jury he said: “ If a man tries to kill another in a way which is 
on the face of it absurd, it becomes a foolish rather than a 
criminal act. If, for example, a man in London discharged a 


261 


Some Notable People 

pistol to hurt a man in Edinburgh, we could only laugh at such 
an offence. So also when a man stabs an iron-plated door 
while another man is at the other side of it we cannot take it 
seriously.” The jury, who were probably only too glad to 
follow such a lead, brought in a verdict of “ Not guilty.” 

Another distinguished man of the law who left a very clear 
impression upon my mind was Sir Francis Jeune, afterwards 
Lord St. Helier. I attended several of Lady Jeune’s famous 
luncheon parties, which were quite one of the outstanding in¬ 
stitutions of London, like Gladstone’s breakfasts in the last 
quarter of the nineteenth century. I am indebted to this lady 
for very many kind actions. Her husband always impressed 
me with his gentle wisdom and with his cultivated taste. He 
told me that if every copy of Horace were destroyed he thought 
that he could reconstruct most of it from memory. He pre¬ 
sided over the Divorce Courts, and I remember upon one occa¬ 
sion I said to him: “ You must have a very low opinion of 
human nature, Sir Francis, since the worst side of it is for 
ever presented towards you.” “ On the contrary,” said he very 
earnestly, “ my experience in the Divorce Courts has greatly 
raised my opinion of humanity. There is so much chivalrous 
self-sacrifice, and so much disposition upon the part of every 
one to make the best of a bad business that it is extremely 
edifying.” This view seemed to me to be worth recording. 


CHAPTER XXIV 


SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF SPORT 

Earing — Shooting — A Fish Story — Boxing — Past and Present — Car- 
pentier and France — The Eeno Fight — Football — Golf with the 
Sirdar — Billiards — Cricket — W. G. Grace — Queer Experiences — 
TragiG Matches — Humiliation — Success in Holland — Barrie’s Team 
— A Precedent — Motor Accidents — Prince Henry Tour — Aviation 
— The Balloon and the Aeroplane — Ski — Over a Precipice — Kifle 
Shooting. 

I T is here — before we approach, what Maxwell has called 
“ The Great Interruption ”— that I may perhaps break my 
narrative in order to interpolate a chapter npon the general 
subject of my experiences of sport, which have taken up an ap¬ 
preciable part of my life, added greatly to its pleasure, and 
which can be better treated as a whole than recounted seriatim. 
It may best be fitted in at this spot as my sporting life one way 
and another may be said to have reached its modest zenith about 
that time. 

As one grows old one looks back at one’s career in sport as 
a thing completed. Yet I have at least held on to it as long as 
I could, for I played a hard match of Association football at 
forty-four, and I played cricket for ten years more. I have 
never specialized, and have therefore been a second-rater in 
all things. I have made up for it by being an all-rounder, and 
have had, I dare say, as much fun out of sport as many an 
adept. It would be odd if a man could try as many games as 
I for so many years without having some interesting experi¬ 
ences or forming a few opinions which would bear recording and 
discussion. 

And first of all let me “ damn the sins I have no mind to ” by 
recording what most of my friends will regard as limitation. I 
never could look upon flat-racing as a true sport. Sport is 
what a man does, not what a horse does. Skill and judgment 
are shown, no doubt, by the professional jockeys, but I think 
it may be argued that in nine cases out of ten the best horse 


Some Recollections of Sport 263 

wing, and would have equally won, could his head he kept 
straight, had there been a dummy on his hack. But making 
every allowance on the one side, for what human qualities may 
be called forth, and for any improvement of the breed of horses 
(though I am told that the same pains in other directions would 
produce infinitely more fruitful and generally useful results), 
and putting on the other side the demoralization from betting, 
the rascality among some book-makers, and the collection of 
undesirable characters brought together by a race meeting, I 
cannot avoid the conclusion that the harm greatly outweighs the 
good from a broadly national point of view. Yet I recognize, 
of course, that it is an amusement which lies so deeply in 
human nature — the oldest, perhaps, of all amusements which 
have come down to us — that it must have its place in our sys¬ 
tem until the time may come when it will be gradually modi¬ 
fied, developing, perhaps, some purifying ehange, as prize-fight¬ 
ing did when it turned to contests with the gloves. 

I have purposely said “ flat-racing,” because I think a 
stronger case, though not, perhaps, an entirely sound one, could 
be made out for steeplechasing. Eliminate the mob and the 
money, and then, surely, among feats of human skill and hardi¬ 
hood there are not many to match that of the winner of a really 
stiff point-to-point, while the man who rides at the huge har¬ 
riers of the Grand National has a heart for anything. As in 
the old days of the ring, it is not the men nor the sport, but 
it is the followers who cast a shadow on the business. Go 
down to Waterloo and meet any returning race train, if you 
doubt it. 

If I have alienated half my readers by my critical attitude 
to the Turf, I shall probably offend the other half by stating 
that I cannot persuade myself that we are justified in taking 
life as a pleasure. To shoot for the pot must he right, since 
man must feed, and to kill creatures which live upon others 
(the hunting of foxes, for example) must also be right, since 
to slay one is to save many; but the rearing of birds in order 
to kill them, and the shooting of such sensitive and inoffensive 
animals as hares and deer, cannot, I think, be justified. I must 
admit that I shot a good deal before I came to this conclusion. 
Perhaps the fact, while it prevents my assuming any airs of 


264 Memories and Adventures 

virtue, will give my opinion greater weight, since good shoot¬ 
ing is still within my reach, and I know nothing more exhil¬ 
arating than to wait on the borders of an autumn-tinted wood, 
to hear the crackling advance of beaters, to mark the sudden 
whirr and the yell of “ Mark over,” and then, over the top¬ 
most branches, to see a noble cock pheasant whizzing down wind 
at a pace which pitches him a 100 yards behind you when you 
have dropped him. But when your moment of exultation is 
over, and you note what a beautiful creature he is and how one 
instant of your pleasure has wrecked him, you feel that you 
had better think no longer if you mean to slip two more car¬ 
tridges into your gun and stand by for another. Worse still is 
it when you hear the child-like wail of the wounded hare. I 
should think that there are few sportsmen who have not felt 
a disgust at their own handiwork when they have heard it. So, 
too, when you see the pheasant fly on with his legs showing 
beneath him as sign that he is hard hit. He drops into the 
thick woods and is lost to sight. Perhaps it is as well for your 
peace of mind that he should be lost to thought also. 

Of course, one is met always by the perfectly valid argument 
that the creatures would not live at all if it were not for the 
purposes of sport, and that it is presumably better from their 
point of view that they should eventually meet a violent death 
than that they should never have existed. Ho doubt this is 
true. But there is another side of the question as to the effect 
of the sport upon ourselves — whether it does not blunt our 
own better feelings, harden our sympathies, brutalize our 
natures. A coward can do it as Avell as a brave man; a weak¬ 
ling can do it as well as a strong man. There is no ultimate 
good from it. Have we a moral right then, to kill creatures 
for amusement ? I know many of the best and most kind- 
hearted men who do it, but still I feel that in a more advanced 
age it will no longer be possible. 

And yet I am aware of my own inconsistency when I say I 
am in sympathy with fishing, and would gladly have a little 
if I knew where to get it. And yet, is it wholly inconsistent ? 
Is a cold-blooded creature of low organization like a fish to be 
regarded in the same way as the hare which cries out in front 
ol the beagles, or the deer which may carry the rifle bullet away 


Some Recollections of Sport 265 

in its side ? If there is any cruelty it is surely of a much less 
degree. Besides, is it not the sweet solitude of Nature, the 
romantic quest, rather than the actual capture which appeals 
to the fisherman? One thinks of the stories of trout and sal¬ 
mon which have taken another fly within a few minutes of hav¬ 
ing broken away from a former one, and one feels that their 
sense of pain must be very different from our own. 

I once had the best of an exchange of fishing stories, which 
does not sound like a testimonial to my veracity. It was in a 
Birmingham inn, and a commercial traveller was boasting of 
his success. I ventured to back the weight of the last three fish 
which I had been concerned in catching against any day’s take 
of his life-time. lie closed with the bet and quoted some large 
haul, 100 lbs. or more. “ Now, sir,” he asked triumphantly, 
“ what was the weight of your three fish ? ” “ Just over 200 

tons,” I answered. “ Whales ? ” “ Yes, three Greenland 

whales.” “ I give you best,” he cried; but whether as a fish¬ 
erman, or as a teller of fish stories, I am not sure. As a 
matter of fact, I had only returned that year from the Arctic 
seas, and the three fish in question were, in truth, the last which 
I had helped to catch. 

My experiences during my Arctic voyage both with whales 
and bears I have already touched upon, so I will not refer to 
them again, though it was the greatest period of sport which 
has ever come my way. 

I have always been keen upon the noble old English sport of 
boxing, and, though of no particular class myself, I suppose I 
might describe my form as that of a fair average amateur. I 
should have been a better man had I taught less and learned 
more, but after my first tuition I had few chances of profes¬ 
sional teaching. However, I have done a good deal of mixed 
boxing among many different types of men, and had as much 
pleasure from it as from any form of sport. It stood me in 
good stead aboard the whaler. On the very first evening I 
had a strenuous bout with the steward, who was an excellent 
sportsman. I heard him afterwards, through the partition of 
the cabin, declare that I was “ the best sur-r-r-geon we’ve had, 
Colin — he’ s blacked my ee.” It struck me as a singular test 
of my medical ability, but I dare say it did no harm. 


266 Memories and Adventures 

I remember when I was a medical practitioner going down 
to examine a man’s life for insurance in a little Sussex village. 
He was the gentleman farmer of the place, and a most sporting 
and jovial soul. It was a Saturday, and I enjoyed his hospi¬ 
tality that evening, staying over till Monday. After breakfast 
it chanced that several neighbours dropped in, one of whom, 
an athletic young farmer, was fond of the gloves. Conversa¬ 
tion soon brought out the fact that I had a weakness in the 
same direction. The result was obvious. Two pairs of gloves 
were hunted from some cupboard, and in a. few minutes we 
were hard at it, playing light at first and letting out as we 
warmed. It was soon clear that there was no room inside a 
house for two heavy-weights, so we adjourned to the front lawn. 
The main road ran across the end of it, with a low wall of 
just the right height to allow the village to rest its elbows on 
it and enjoy the spectacle. We fought several very brisk 
rounds, with no particular advantage either way, but the con¬ 
test always stands out in my memory for its queer surround¬ 
ings and the old English picture in which it was set. It is 
one of several curious bye-battles in my career. I recollect 
another where another man and I, returning from a ball at 
five of a summer morning, went into his room and fought in 
our dress clothes several very vigorous rounds as a wind-up 
to the evening’s exercise. 

They say that every form of knowledge comes useful sooner 
or later. Certainly my own experience in boxing and my very 
large acquaintance with the history of the prize-ring found their 
scope when I wrote “ Eodney Stone.” Ho one but a fighting 
man would ever, I think, quite understand or appreciate some 
of the detail. A friend of mine read the scene where Boy 
Jim fights Berks to a prize-fighter as he lay in what proved 
to be his last illness. The man listened with growing anima¬ 
tion until the reader came to the point where the second ad¬ 
vises Boy Jim, in technical jargon, how to get at his awk¬ 
ward antagonist. “ That’s it! By God, he’s got him! ” 
shouted the man in the bed. It was an incident which gave 
me pleasure when I heard it. 

I have never concealed my opinion that the old prize-ring 
was an excellent thing from a national point of view — exactly 


267 


Some Recollections of Sport 

as glove-fighting is now. Better that our sports should be a 
little too rough than that we should run a risk of effeminacy. 
But the ring outlasted its time. It was ruined by the villain¬ 
ous mobs who cared nothing for the chivalry of sport or the 
traditions of British fair play as compared with the money 
gain which the contest might bring. Their blackguardism 
drove out the good men — the men who really did uphold the 
ancient standards, and so the whole institution passed into 
rottenness and decay. But now the glove contests carried on 
under the discipline of the National Sporting or other clubs 
perpetuate the noble old sport without a possibility of the more 
evil elements creeping into it once more. An exhibition of 
hardihood without brutality, of good-humoured courage with¬ 
out savagery, of skill without trickery, is, I think, the very 
highest which sport can give. People may smile at the mittens, 
but a twenty-round contest with four-ounce gloves is quite as 
punishing an ordeal as one could wish to endure. There is 
as little room for a coward as in the rougher days of old, and 
the standard of endurance is probably as high as in the aver¬ 
age prize-fight. 

One wonders how our champions of to-day would have fared 
at the hands of the heroes of the past. I know something of 
this end of the question, for I have seen nearly all the great 
boxers of my time, from J. L. Sullivan down to Tommy Burns, 
Carpentier, Bombardier Wells, Beckett and that little miracle 
Jimmy Wilde. But how about the other end — the men of 
old? Wonderful Jem Mace was the only link between them. 
On the one hand, he was supreme in the ’sixties as a knuckle- 
fighter; on the other, he gave the great impetus to glove-fight¬ 
ing in America, and more especially in Australia, which has 
brought over such champions as Frank Slavin and Fitz-sim- 
mons, who, through Mace’s teaching, derive straight from the 
classic line of British boxers. He of all men might have 
drawn a just comparison between the old and the new. But 
even his skill and experience might be at fault, for it is noto¬ 
rious that many of the greatest fighters under the old regime 
were poor hands with the mittens. Men could bang poor Tom 
Sayers all round the ring with the gloves, who would not have 
dared to get over the ropes had he been without them. I have 


268 Memories and Adventures 

* • 

seen Mace box, and even when oyer sixty it is wonderful how 
straight was his left, how quick his feet, and how impregnable 
his guard. 

After the Great War, one can see that those of us who 
worked for the revival of boxing wrought better than we knew, 
for at the supreme test of all time — the test which has settled 
the history of the future — it has played a marked part. I 
do not mean that a man used his fists in the war, but I mean — 
and every experienced instructor will, I am sure, endorse it 
— that the combative spirit and aggressive quickness gave us 
the attacking fire and helped especially in bayonet work. But 
it was to our allies of France that the chief advantage came. 
I believe that Carpentier, the boxer, did more to win t^ie war 
for France than any other man save the actual generals or 
politicians. The public proof that a Frenchman could be at 
the very head of his class, as Ledoux was also at a lighter 
weight, gives a physical self-respect to a nation which tinges 
the spirit of every single member of it. It was a great day for 
France when English sports, boxing, Rugby football and others 
came across to them, and when a young man’s ideal ceased 
to be amatory adventure with an occasional duel. England 
has taught Europe much, but nothing of more value than this. 

To return to my own small experiences of the game, I might 
have had one very notable one, for I was asked to referee the 
great contest when the champions of the white and black races 
fought for what may prove to be almost the last time. 

My first intimation was a cable followed by the following 
letter: — 

Mew Yoke;, 

December 9, 1909. 

My dear Sir,— 

I hope you will pardon the liberty I took as a stranger in 
cabling to you asking if you would act at the championship 
battle between Jeffries and Johnson. The fact is that when 
the articles were signed recently your name was suggested for 
referee, and Tex Rickard, promoter of the fight, was greatly 
interested, as were many others. I believe it will interest you 
to know that the opinion was unanimous that you would do 
admirably in the position. In a voting contest several persons 


Some Recollections of Sport 269 

sent in your name as their choice. Believe me among sporting 
men of the best class in America you have many strong ad¬ 
mirers; your splendid stories of the ring, and your avowed 
admiration for the great sport of boxing have made you thou¬ 
sands of friends. 

It was because of this extremely friendly feeling for you 
in America that I took the liberty of cabling to you. I thank 
you for your reply. 

It would indeed rejoice the hearts of the men in this coun¬ 
try if you were at the ring side when the great negro fighter 
meets the white man Jeffries for the world’s championship. 

I am, my dear Sir, 

Yours sincerely, 

Irving Jefferson Lewis, 
Managing Editor New York Morning Telegraph. 

I was much inclined to accept this honourable invitation, 
though my friends pictured me as winding up with a revolver 
at one ear and a razor at the other. However, the distance 
and my engagements presented a final bar. 

If boxing is the finest single man sport, I think that Rugby 
football is the best collective one. Strength, courage, speed 
and resource are great qualities to include in a single game. 
I have always wished that it had come more my way in life, 
hut my football was ruined, as many a man’s is, by the fact 
that at my old school they played a hybrid game peculiar to 
the place, with excellent points of its own, hut unfitting the 
youngster for any other. All these local freak games, wall 
games, Winchester games, and so on are national misfortunes, 
for while our youths are wasting their energies upon them — 
those precious early energies which make the instinctive players 
— the young South African or Hew Zealander is brought up 
on the real universal Rugby, and so comes over to pluck a 
few more laurel leaves out of our depleted wreath. In Aus¬ 
tralia I have seen in Victoria a hybrid, though excellent game 
of their own, hut they have had the sense in other parts to 
fall into line, and are already taking the same high position 
which they hold in other branches of sport. I hope that our 
headmasters will follow the same course. 


270 


Memories and Adventures 


In spite of nay wretched training I played for a short time 
as a forward in the Edinburgh University team, but my want 
of knowledge of the game was too heavy a handicap. After¬ 
wards I took to Association, and played first goal and then 
back for Portsmouth, when that famous club was an amateur 
organization. Even then we could put a very fair team in the 
field, and were runners-up for the County Cup the last season 
that I played. In the same season I was invited to play for 
the county. I was always too slow, however, to be a really 
good back, though I was a long and safe kick. After a long 
hiatus I took up football again in South Africa and organized 
a series of inter-hospital matches in Bloemfontein which helped 
to take our minds away from enteric. My old love treated 
me very scurvily, however, for I received a foul from a man’s 
knee which buckled two of my ribs and brought my games 
to a close. I have played occasionally since, but there is no 
doubt that as a man grows older a brisk charge shakes him 
up as it never did before. Let him turn to golf, and be 
thankful that there is still one splendid game which can never 
desert him. There may be objections to the “ Royal and 
Ancient ”— but a game which takes four miles of country 
for the playing must always have a majesty of its own. 

Personally I was an enthusiastic, but a very inefficient golfer 
5 — a ten at my best, and at my worst outside the pale of all 
decent handicaps. But surely it is a great testimony to the 
qualities of a game when a man can be both enthusiastic and 
inefficient. It is a proof at least that a man plays for the 
game’s sake and not for personal kudos. Golf is the coquette 
of games. It always lures one on and always evades one. Ten 
years ago I thought I had nearly got it. I hope so to-day. 
But my scoring cards will show, I fear, that the coquette has 
not yet been caught. The elderly lover cannot hope to win 
her smile. 

I used in my early golfing days to practise on the very rudi¬ 
mentary links in front of the Mena Hotel, just under the 
Pyramids. It was a weird course, where, if you sliced your 
ball, you might find it bunkered in the grave of some Rameses 
or Thothmes of old. It was here, I believe, that the cynical 
stranger, after watching my energetic but ineffectual game, 


Some Recollections of Sport 271 

remarked that he had always understood that there was a 
special tax for excavating in Egypt. I have a pleasant recol¬ 
lection of Egyptian golf in a match played with the late Sirdar, 
then head of the Intelligence Department. When my ball was 
teed I observed that his negro caddie pointed two fingers 
at it and spat, which meant, as I was given to understand, 
that he cursed it for the rest of the game. Certainly I got 
into every hazard in the course, though I must admit that I 
have accomplished that when there was no Central African 
curse upon me. Those were the days before the reconquest 
of the Soudan, and I was told by Colonel Wingate — as he 
then was —• that his spies coming down from Omdurman not 
infrequently delivered their messages to him while carrying 
his golf clubs, to avoid the attention of the Calipha’s spies, 
who abounded in Cairo. On this occasion the Sirdar beat me 
well, but with a Christian caddie I turned the tables on him 
at Dunbar, and now we have signed articles to play off the 
rubber at Khartoum, no cursing allowed. When that first 
match was played we should as soon have thought of arranging 
to play golf in the moon. 

Every now and then I give up the game in disgust at my 
own incompetence, but only to be lured on once more. Hunt¬ 
ing in an old desk I came upon an obituary which I had written 
for my game at some moment of special depression. It ran, 
“ Sacred to the memory of my golf. It was never strong, 
being permanently afflicted with a deformed stance and an 
undeveloped swing. After long weakness cheerfully borne it 
finally succumbed, and was buried in the eighteenth hole, re¬ 
gretted by numerous caddies.” However it is out and about 
once more, none the worse for this premature interment. 

There is said to be a considerable analogy between golf and 
billiards, so much so that success in the one generally leads 
to success in the other. Personally, I have not found it so, 
for though I may claim, I suppose, to be above the average 
amateur at billiards, I am probably below him in golf. I have 
never quite attained the three-figure break, but I have so often 
topped the eighty, and even the ninety, that I have lived in 
constant hope. My friend, the late General Drayson, who was 
a great authority on the game, used to recommend that every 


272 Mem6ries and Adventures 

player should ascertain whafr he called his “ decimal,” by which 
he meant how many innings it took him, whether scoring or 
not, to make 100. The number, of course, varies with the 
luck of the halls and the mood of the player; hut, taken over 
a dozen or twenty games, it gives a fair average idea of the 
player’s form, and a man by himself can in this way test his 
own powers. If, for example, a player could, on an average, 
score 100 in twenty innings then his average would he five, 
which is very fair amateur form. If a man finds his “ deci¬ 
mal ” rise as high as ten over a sequence of games, he may 
be sure that he can hold his own against most players that 
he is likely to meet. I daresay my own decimal when I was 
in practise would he from six to eight. 

I was never good enough for the big' matches, and though 
I once went in for the Amateur championship it was not out 
of any illusions about my game, but because I was specially 
asked to do so, as it was advisable to strengthen the undoubted 
amateur element in the contest. By the luck of a bye, and 
by beating a player who was about my own form, I got into the 
third round, when I ran across Mr. Evans, who eventually 
reached the final with my scalp as well as several others at his 
girdle. I made 650 against his 1,000, which, as I was not 
helped by a bad fall from a motor bike a few days before, 
was as much as I could expect. Forty-two off the red was 
my best effort. Surely billiards is the king of all indoor 
games, and should have some writer who would do for it in 
prose what John Nyren did for cricket. I have never seen 
any worthy appreciation of its infinite varieties from the forc¬ 
ing losing hazard which goes roaring into a top pocket with 
a clash upon the rail, to the feather stroke so delicate that it 
is only the quiver of reflected light upon the object ball which 
shows that it has indeed been struck. Greatest of all is the 
hall heavily loaded with side which drifts down the long' 
cushion and then is sucked against every apparent law into 
the pocket as though it were the centre of a whirlpool. Mr. 
E. V. Lucas is one who could do it with discernment. 

I have one funny recollection of billiards, when I wandered 
into some small hotel in a South-Coast watering place, and 
for want of something to do played the marker. He was a 


273 


Some Recollections of Sport 

pompous person in a frock coat with a very good opinion of 
his own game, which was really ruined by a habit he had of 
jerking. I won the match, which was not difficult to do, and 
then I thought it a kindness to point out to the man how he 
could improve his game. He took this badly, however, and 
hinted that he allowed gentlemen who played him to get the 
better of him. This in turn annoyed me, so I said: “ Look 
here. I will come in after dinner and you can show all you 
can do, and you shall have a sovereign if you win.” After 
dinner his game was worse than ever, while I had amazing 
luck and made the 100 in about three shots. As I put on 
my coat and was leaving the room the queer little fellow sidled 
up to me and said: “ I beg pardon, sir, but is your name 
Roberts ? ” 

My earliest recollection of cricket is not a particularly pleas¬ 
ant one. When I was a very small boy at a preparatory school 
I was one of a group of admirers who stood around watching 
a young cricketer who had just made his name hitting big 
hits off the school bowlers. One of the big hits landed on 
my knee-cap and the cricketer in his own famous arms carried 
me off to the school infirmary. The name, Tom Emmett, 
lingers in my memory, though it was some years before I 
appreciated exactly what he stood for in the game. I think, 
like most boys, I would rather have been knocked down by a 
first-class cricketer than picked up by a second-rater. 

That was the beginning of my acquaintance with a game 
which has on the whole given me more pleasure during my 
life than any other branch of sport. I have ended by being 
its victim, for a fast bowler some years ago happened to hit 
me twice in the same place under my left knee, which has left 
a permanent weakness. I have had as long an inning as one 
could reasonably expect, and carry many pleasant friendships 
and recollections away with me. 

I was a keen cricketer as a boy, but in my student days 
was too occupied to touch it. Then I took it up again, but 
my progress was interrupted by work and travel. I had some 
cause, therefore, to hold on to the game as I had lost so much 
of it in my youth. Finally, I fulfilled a secret ambition by 
getting into the fringe of first-class cricket, though rather, 


274 Memories and Adventures 

perhaps, through the good nature of others than my own merits. 
However, I can truly say that in the last season when I played 
some first-class cricket, including piatches against Kent, Derby¬ 
shire, and the London County, I had an .average of thirty-two 
for those games, so I may claim to have earned my place. I 
was more useful, however, in an amateur team, for I was a 
fairly steady and reliable howler, and I could generally earn 
my place in that department, while with the M.C.C. the pro¬ 
fessional talent is usually so strong that the amateur who fails 
in batting and is not a particularly good field has no chance 
of atoning with the hall. Yet even with the M.C.C. I have 
occasionally had a gleam of success. Such a one came some 
years ago, when the team presented me with a little silver 
hat for getting three consecutive clean-howled wickets against 
the Gentlemen of Warwick. One of my victims explained his 
downfall by assuring me that he had it thoroughly in his head 
that I was a left-handed howler, and when the hall came from 
my right hand he was too bewildered to stop it. The reason 
is not so good as that of an artist who, when I had howled 
him out, exclaimed: “ Who can play against a man who bowls 
in a crude pink shirt against an olive-green background % ” 

A bowler has many days when everything is against him, 
when a hard, smooth wicket takes all the spin and devil out 
of him, when he goes all round and over the wicket, when 
lofted halls refuse to come to hand, or, if they do come, refuse 
to stay. But, on the other hand, he has his recompense with 
many a stroke of good fortune. It was in such a moment that 
I had the good luck to get the wicket of W. G. Grace, the 
greatest of all cricketers. 

W. G. had his speedy revenge. There was nothing more 
childlike and bland than that slow, tossed-up howling of his, 
and nothing more subtle and treacherous. He was always on 
the wicket or about it, never sent down a really loose hall, 
worked continually a few inches from the leg, and had a per¬ 
fect command of length. It was the latter quality which was 
my downfall. I had made some thirty or forty, and began 
to relax in the deep respect with which I faced the Doctor’s 
deliveries. I had driven him for four, and jumped out at 
him again the next hall. Seeing my intention, as a good 


Some Recollections of Sport 275 

** 

bowler does, he dropped his ball a foot or two shorter. I 
reached it with difficulty, but again I scored four. By this 
time I was very pleased with myself, and could see no reason 
why every one of these delightful slows should not mean a 
four to me. Out I danced to reach the next one on the half 
volley. It was tossed a little higher up in the air, which gave 
the delusion that it was coming right up to the bat, but as 
a matter of fact it pitched well short of my reach, broke 
sharply across and Lilley, the wicket-keeper, had my bails 
off in a twinkling. One feels rather cheap when one walks 
from the middle of the pitch to the pavilion, longing to kick 
oneself for one’s own foolishness all the way. I have only 
once felt smaller, and that was when I was bowled by A. P. 
Lucas, by the most singular ball that I have ever received. 
He propelled it like a quoit into the air to a height of at least 
30 feet, and it fell straight and true on to the top of the bails. 
I have often wondered what a good batsman would have made 
of that ball. To play it one would have needed to turn the 
blade of the bat straight up, and could hardly fail to give 
a chance. I tried to cut it off my stumps, with the result that 
I knocked down my wicket and broke my bat, while the ball 
fell in the midst of this general chaos. I spent the rest of 
the day wondering gloomily what I ought to have done — and 
I am wondering yet. 

I have had two unusual experiences upon Lord’s ground. 
One w r as that I got a century in the very first match that I 
played there. It was an unimportant game, it is true, but still 
the surprising fact remained. It was a heavy day, and my 
bat, still encrusted with the classic mud, hangs as a treasured 
relic in my hall. The other was less pleasant and even more 
surprising. I was playing for the Club against Kent, and 
faced for the first time Bradley, who was that year one of the 
fastest bowlers in England. His first delivery I hardly saw, 
and it landed with a terrific thud upon my thigh. A little 
occasional pain is one of the chances of cricket, and one takes 
it as cheerfully as one can, but on this occasion it suddenly 
became sharp to an unbearable degree. I clapped my hand 
to the spot, and found to my amazement that I was on fire. 
The ball had landed straight on a small tin vesta box in my 


276 Memories and Adventures 

trousers pocket, had splintered the box, and set the matches 
ablaze. It did not take me long to turn out my pocket and 
scatter the burning vestas over the, grass. I should have thought 
this incident unique, but Alec Heame, to whom I told it, 
assured me that he had seen more than one accident of the 
kind. W. G. was greatly amused. “ Couldn’t get you out — 
had to set you on fire! ” he cried, in the high voice which 
seemed so queer from so big a body. 

There are certain matches which stand out in one’s memory 
for their peculiar surroundings. One was a match played 
against Cape de Yerde at that island on the way to South 
Africa. There is an Atlantic telegraph station there with a 
large staff, and they turn out an excellent eleven. I under¬ 
stand that they played each transport as it passed, and that 
they had defeated all, including the Guards. We made up a 
very fair team, however, under the captaincy of Lord Henry 
Scott, and after a hard fight we defeated the islanders. I don’t 
know how many of our eleven left their bones in South Africa; 
three at least — Blasson, Douglas Forbes (who made our top 
score), and young Maxwell Craig never returned. I remem¬ 
ber one even more tragic match in which I played for the 
Incogniti against Aldershot Division a few months before the 
African War. The regiments quartered there were those which 
afterwards saw the hardest service. Major -Ray, who made the 
top score, was killed at Magersfontein. Young Stanley, who 
went in first with me, met his death in the Yeomanry. Tak¬ 
ing the two teams right through, I am sure that half the men 
were killed or wounded within two years. How little we 
could have foreseen it that sunny summer day! 

It is dangerous when an old cricketer begins to reminisce, 
because so much comes back to his mind. He has but to smell 
the hot rubber of a bat handle to be flooded with memories. 
They are not always glorious. I remember three ladies com¬ 
ing to see me play against one of the Bedford schools. The 
boys politely applauded as I approached the wicket. A very 
small boy lobbed up the first ball which I played at. It went 
up into the air, and was caught at point by the very smallest 
boy I have ever seen in decent cricket. It seemed to me about 
a mile as I walked back from the wicket to the pavilion. I 


Some Recollections of Sport 277 

don’t think those three ladies ever recovered their confidence 
in my cricketing powers. 

As a set-off to this confession of failure let me add a small 
instance of success, where hy “ taking thought ” I saved a 
minor international match. It was at the Hague in 1892, and 
the game was a wandering British team against Holland. The 
Dutch were an excellent sporting lot, and had one remarkable 
howler in Posthuma, a left-hander, who had so huge a break 
with his slow hall that it was not uncommon for him to pitch 
the hall right outside the matting on which we played and 
yet bring it on to the wicket. We won our various local matches 
without much difficulty, hut we were aware that we should 
have a stiff fight with United Holland, the more so as Dutch 
hospitality was almost as dangerous to our play as Dutch 
cricket. 

So it proved, and we were in the position that with four 
wickets in hand they had only fifteen runs to make with two 
batsmen well set. I had not bowled during the tour, for as 
■we were a scratch team, mostly from the schoolmaster class, 
we did not know each other’s capacity. Seeing, however, that 
things were getting desperate, I went the length of asking our 
skipper to give me a chance. 

I had observed that the batsmen had been very well taught 
hy their English professional, and that they all played in most 
orthodox fashion with a perfectly straight hat. That was why 
I thought I might get them out. I brought every fielder round 
to the off, for I felt that they would not think it correct to 
pull, and I tossed up good length halls about a foot on the 
off side. It came off exactly as I expected. The pro. had 
not told them what to do with that particular sort of tosh, 
and the four men were all caught for as many runs hy mid-off 
or cover. The team in their exultation proceeded to carry 
me into the pavilion, hut whether it was my sixteen stone or 
the heat of the weather, they tired of the job midway and 
let me down with a crash which shook the breath out of me — 
so Holland was avenged. I played against them again when 
they came to England, and made sixty-seven, hut got no wickets, 
for they had mastered the off-side theory. 

Some of my quaintest cricket reminiscences are in connec- 


278 Memories and Adventures 

tion with J. M. Barrie’s team — the “ Allah-Akbarries,” or 
“ Lord help us ” as we were called. We played in the old 
style, caring little about the game and a good deal about a 
jolly time and pleasant scenery. Broadway, the country home 
of Mr. Navarro and his wife, formerly Mary Anderson, the 
famous actress, was one of our favourite haunts, and for sev¬ 
eral years in succession we played the Artists there. Bernard 
Partridge, Barrie, A. E. W. Mason, Abbey the Academician, 
Blomfield the architect, Marriott Watson, Charles Whibley, 
and others of note took part, and there were many whimsical 
happenings, which were good fun if they were not good cricket. 
I thought all record of our games had faded from human ken, 
but lately a controversy was raised over Mr. Armstrong, the 
Australian captain, bowling the same man from opposite ends 
on consecutive overs. This led to the following paragraph 
in a Birmingham paper, which, I may say, entirely exagger¬ 
ates my powers but is otherwise correct. 

“ Baekie and Aemsteong. 

“ I am not surprised that in the matter of Mr. Armstrong’s 
conduct in bowling two consecutive overs from different ends, 
no reference has been made to the important precedent which 
on a similar occasion Sir James Barrie failed to establish 
(writes a correspondent of the “ Nation ”). The occasion was 
his captaincy (at Broadway, in Worcestershire) of an eleven 
of writers against a strong team of alleged artists. The cir¬ 
cumstances were these. One side had compiled seventy-two 
runs, chiefly, if not wholly, contributed by Sir Arthur Conan 
Doyle. 

“ The sun-worshippers had thereupon responded with an 
equal number of runs for the loss of all but their last wicket. 
The ninth wicket had fallen to the last ball of Sir Arthur’s 
over, the other eight having succumbed to the same performer, 
then in his prime. Actuated, apparently, by the belief that Sir 
Arthur was the only bowler of his side capable of taking or 
reaching a wicket, even in Worcestershire, Sir James there¬ 
upon put him on at the opposite end. 

“ Before, however, he could take a practice ball, a shout 


279 


Some Recollections of Sport 

was heard from the artists’ pavilion, and the nine unengaged 
players were seen issuing from it to contest our captain’s de¬ 
cision. After an exciting contest, it was ultimately given 
in their favour, with the result that the first hall of the new 
howler was hit for two, assisted by overthrows, and the innings 
and match were won by the artists.” 

Of Barrie’s team I remember that it was printed at the 
bottom of our cards that the practice ground was in the 
“National Observer” office. Mr. Abbey, the famous artist, 
usually captained against Barrie, and it was part of the agree¬ 
ment that each should have a full pitch to leg just to start 
his score. I remember my horror when by mistake I bowled 
a straight first ball to Abbey, and so broke the unwritten law 
as well as the wicket. Abbey knew nothing of the game, but 
Barrie was no novice. He bowled an insidious left-hand good 
length ball coming from leg which was always likely to get 
a wicket. 

Talking of bowling, I have twice performed the rare feat 
of getting all ten wickets. Once it was against a London 
Club, and once I ran through the side of a Dragoon Regiment 
at Norwich. My best performance at Lords was seven wickets 
for fifty-one against Cambridgeshire in 1904. 

Of fencing my experience has been limited, and yet I have 
seen enough to realize what a splendid toughening exercise 
it is. I nearly had an ugly mishap when practising it. I 
had visited a medical man in Southsea who was an expert 
with the foils, and at his invitation had a bout with him. 
I had put on the mask and glove, but was loath to have the 
trouble of fastening on the heavy chest plastron. He insisted, 
however, and his insistence saved me from an awkward wound, 
for, coming in heavily upon a thrust, his foil broke a few 
inches from the end, and the sharp point thus created went 
deeply into the pad which covered me. I learned a lesson that 
day. 

On the whole, considering the amount of varied sport which 
I have done, I have come off very well as regards bodily in¬ 
jury. One finger broken at football, two at cricket (one after 
the other in the same season), the disablement of my knee — 


280 


Memories and Adventures 


that almost exhausts it. Though a heavy man and quite an 
indifferent rider, I have never hurt myself in a fair selection 
of falls in the hunting field and elsewhere. Once, as I have 
narrated, when I was down, the horse kicked me over the eye 
with his forefoot, hut I got off with a rather ragged wound, 
though it might have been very much more serious. 

Indeed, when it comes to escapes, I have had more than 
my share of luck. One of the worst was in a motor accident, 
when the machine, which weighed over a ton, ran up a high 
bank, threw me out on a gravel drive below, and then, turn¬ 
ing over, fell on top of me. The steering wheel projected 
slightly from the rest, and thus broke the impact and un¬ 
doubtedly saved my life, but it gave way under the strain, 
and the weight of the car settled across my spine just below 
the neck, pinning my face down on the gravel, and pressing 
with such terrific force as to make it impossible to utter a 
sound. I felt the weight getting heavier moment by moment, 
and wondered how long my vertebras could stand it. How¬ 
ever, they did so long enough to enable a crowd to collect and 
the car to be levered off me. I should think there are few 
who can say that they have held up a ton weight across their 
spine and lived unparalyzed to talk about it. It is an acrobatic 
feat which I have no desire to repeat. 

There is plenty of sport in driving one’s own motor and 
meeting the hundred and one unexpected roadside adventures 
and difficulties which are continually arising. These were 
greater a few years ago, when motors were themselves less 
solidly and accurately constructed, drivers were less skilled, 
and frightened horses were more in evidence. Ho invention 
of modern civilization has done so much for developing a 
man’s power of resource and judgment as the motor. To meet 
and overcome a sudden emergency is the best of human train¬ 
ing, and if a man is his own driver and mechanician on a 
fairly long journey he can hardly fail to have some experience 
of it. 

I well remember in the early days of motoring going up to 
Birmingham to take delivery of my new twelve horse-power 
Wolseley. I had invested in the sort of peaked yachting cap 
which was considered the correct badge of the motorist in 


281 


Some Recollections of Sport 

those days, but as I paced th& platform of New Street Station 
a woman removed any conceit I might have over my headgear, 
by asking me peremptorily how the trains ran to Walsall. 
She took me for one of the officials. I got the car safely home, 
and no doubt it was a good car as things went at that time, 
but the secret of safe brakes had not yet been discovered, and 
my pair used to break as if they were glass. More than once 
I have known what it is to steer a car when it is flying back¬ 
wards under no control down a winding hill. Looking back 
at those days it seems to me that I was under the car nearly 
as much as on the top of it, for every repair had to be done 
from below. There were few accidents from smashing my 
differential, seizing my engines, and stripping my gears, which 
I have not endured. It was a chain-driven machine, and' I 
can well remember one absurd incident when the chain jumped 
the cogs and fell off. We were on a long slope of 3 miles 
and ran on with the engine turned off quite unconscious of 
what had occurred. When we reached level ground the car 
naturally stopped, and we got out, opened the bonnet, tested 
the electricity, and were utterly puzzled as to what was amiss, 
when a yokel in a cart arrived waving our motive power over 
his head. He had picked it up on the road. 

Our descendants will never realize the terror of the horses 
at this innovation, nor the absurd scenes which it caused. 
On one occasion I was motoring down a narrow lane in Nor¬ 
folk, with my mother in the open tonneau. Coming round a 
curve we came upon two carts, one behind the other. The 
leading horse, which had apparently never seen a motor be¬ 
fore, propped his forelegs out, his ears shot forward, his eyes 
stared rigidly and then in a moment he whirled round, ran 
up the bank, and tried to escape behind his comrade. This 
he could have done but for the cart, which he also dragged 
up the bank. Horse and cart fell sideways on the other horse 
and cart, and there was such a mixture that you could not 
disentangle it. The carts were full of turnips and these formed 
a top dressing over the interlaced shafts and the struggling 
horses. I sprang out and was trying to help the enraged 
farmer to get something right end up, when I glanced at my 
own car which was almost involved in the pile. There was 


282 Memories and Adventures 

my dear old mother sitting calmly knitting in the midst of all 
the chaos. It was really like something in a dream. 

My most remarkable motor car experience was when I drove 
my own sixteen horse-power Dietrich-Lorraine in the Interna¬ 
tional Road Competition organized by Prince Henry of Prussia 
in 1911. This affair is discussed later, when I come to the 
preludes of war. I came away from it with sinister forebod¬ 
ings. The impression left on my mind by the whole incident 
is shown by the fact that one of the first things I did when 
I got to London was to recommend a firm of which I am 
director to remove a large sum which it had lying in Berlin. 
I have no doubt that it would have continued to lie there and 
that we might have lost it. As to the contest itself it ended 
in a British victory, which was owing to the staunch way in 
which we helped each other when in difficulties, while the 
Germans were more a crowd of individuals than a team. Their 
cars were excellent and so was their driving. My own little 
car did very well and only dropped marks at Sutton Bank 
in Yorkshire, that terrible hill, one in three at one point, 
with a hair-pin bend. When we finally panted out our 
strength I put my light-weight chauffeur to the wheel, ran 
round, and fairly boosted her up from behind, but we were 
fined so many marks for my leaving the driving wheel. Hot 
to get up would have meant three times the forfeit, so my tac¬ 
tics were well justified. 

Ho doubt the coming science of aviation will develop the 
same qualities as motor driving to an even higher degree. It 
is a form of sport in which I have only aspirations and little 
experience. I had one balloon ascent in which we covered 
some 25 miles and ascended 6,000 feet, which was so delightful 
an expedition that I have always been eager for another and 
a longer one. A man has a natural trepidation the first time 
he leaves the ground, but I remember that, as I stood by the 
basket with the gas-bag swinging about above me and the 
assistants clinging to the ropes, some one pointed out an elderly 
gentleman and said: “ That is the famous Mr. So-and-So, the 
aeronaut.” I saw a venerable person and I asked how many 
ascents he had made. (t About a thousand,” was the answer. 
Ho eloquence or reasoning could have convinced me so com- 


283 


Some Recollections of Sport 

pletely that I might get into the basket with a cheerful mind, 
though I will admit that for the first minute or so one feels 
very strange, and keeps an uncommonly tight grip of the side- 
ropes. This soon passes, however, and one is lost in the wonder 
of the prospect and the glorious feeling of freedom and de¬ 
tachment. As in a ship, it is the moment of nearing land once 
more which is the moment of danger — or, at least, of dis¬ 
comfort; hut beyond a hump or two, we came to rest very 
quietly in the heart of a Kentish hop-field. 

I had one aeroplane excursion in rather early days, hut 
the experience was not entirely a pleasant one. Machines were 
under-engined in those days and very much at the mercy of 
the wind. We went up at Hendon — May 25, 1911, the date 
— hut the machine was a heavy hi-plane, and though it went 
down wind like a swallow it was more serious when we turned 
and found, looking down, that the objects below us were sta¬ 
tionary or even inclined to drift backwards. However, we got 
hack to the field at last, and I think the pilot was as relieved 
as I. What impressed me most was the terrible racket of the 
propeller, comparing so unfavourably with the delicious calm 
of the balloon journey. 

There is one form of sport in which I have, I think, been 
able to do some practical good, for I can claim to have been 
the first to introduce skis into the Grisons division of Switzer¬ 
land, or at least to demonstrate their practical utility as a 
means of getting across in winter from one valley to another. 
It was in 1894 that I read Hansen’s account of his crossing 
of Greenland, and thus became interested in the subject of 
ski-ing. It chanced that I was compelled to spend that winter 
in the Davos valley, and I spoke about the matter to Tobias 
Branger, a sporting tradesman in the village, who in turn in¬ 
terested his brother. We sent for skis from Norway, and for 
some weeks afforded innocent amusement to a large number 
of people who watched our awkward movements and complex 
tumbles. The Brangers made much better progress than I. 
At the end of a month or so we felt that we were getting more 
expert, and determined to climb the Jacobshorn, a considerable 
hill just opposite the Davos Hotel. We had to carry our un¬ 
wieldy skis upon our backs until we had passed the fir trees 


284 Memories and Adventures 

* i 

which, line its slopes, but once in the open we made splendid 
progress, and had the satisfaction of seeing the flags in the 
village dipped in our honour when we reached the summit. 
But it was only in returning that we got the full flavour of 
ski-ing. In ascending you shuffle up by long zigzags, the 
only advantage of your footgear being that it is carrying you 
over snow which would engulf you without it. But coming 
back you simply turn your long toes and let yourself go, 
gliding delightfully over the gentle slopes, flying down the 
steeper ones, taking an occasional cropper, but getting as near 
to flying as any earth-bound man can. In that glorious air 
it is a delightful experience. 

Encouraged by our success with the Jacobshorn, we de¬ 
termined to show the utility of our accomplishment by open¬ 
ing up communications with Arosa, which lies in a parallel 
valley and can only be reached in winter by a very long and 
roundabout railway journey. To do this we had to cross a 
high pass, and then drop down on the other side. It was a 
most interesting journey, and we felt all the pride of pioneers 
as we arrived in Arosa. 

I have no doubt that what we did would seem absurdly sim¬ 
ple to Norwegians or others who were apt at the game, but 
we had to find things out for ourselves and it was sometimes 
rather terrifying. The sun had not yet softened the snow 
on one .sharp slope across which we had to go, and we had to 
stamp with our skis in order to get any foothold. On our 
left the snow slope ended in a chasm from which a blue smoke 
or fog rose in the morning air. I hardly dared look in that 
direction, but from the corner of my eye I saw the vapour 
of the abyss. I stamped along and the two gallant Switzers 
got on my left, so that if I slipped the shock would come 
upon them. We had no rope by which we could link up. 
We got across all right and perhaps we exaggerated the danger, 
but it was not a pleasant experience. 

Then I remember that we came to an absolute precipice, 
up which no doubt the path zig-zags in summer. It was not 
of course perpendicular, but it seemed little removed from 
it, and it had just slope enough to hold the snow. It looked 
impassable, but the Brangers had picked up a lot in some 


Some Recollections of Sport 285 

way of their own. They took otf their skis, fastened them to¬ 
gether with a thong, and on this toboggan they sat, pushing 
themselves over the edge, and going down amid a tremendous 
spray of flying snow. When they had reached safety they 
beckoned to me to follow. I had done as they did, and was 
sitting on my skis preparatory to launching myself when a 
fearsome thing happened, for my skis shot from under me, 
flew down the slope, and vanished in huge bounds among the 
snow mounds beyond. It was a nasty moment, and the poor 
Brangers stood looking up at me some hundreds of feet below 
me in a dismal state of mind. However, there w£s no possible 
choice as to what to do, so I did it. I let myself go over the 
edge, and came squattering down, with legs and arms extended 
to check the momentum. A minute later I was rolling covered 
with snow at the feet of my guides, and my skis were found 
some hundreds of yards away, so no harm was done after all. 

I remember that when we signed the hotel register Tobias 
Branger filled up the space after my name, in which the new 
arrival had to describe his profession, by the words “ Sportes- 
mann,” which I took as a compliment. It was at any rate more 
pleasant than the German description of my golf clubs, which 
went astray on the railway and turned up at last with the 
official description of “ Kinderspieler ” (child’s toys) attached 
to them. To return to the skis they are no doubt in very 
general use, but I think I am right in saying that these and 
other excursions of ours first demonstrated their possibilities 
to the people of the country and have certainly sent a good 
many thousands of pounds since then into Switzerland. If 
my rather rambling career in sport has been of any practical 
value to any one, it is probably in this matter, and also, per¬ 
haps, in the opening up of miniature rifle-ranges in 1901, 
when the idea was young in this country, and when my Hind- 
head range was the pioneer and the model for many others. 

A pleasing souvenir of my work on Rifle Clubs is to be found 
in the Conan Doyle Cup, which was presented by my friend 
Sir John Langman, and is still shot for every year at Bisley 
by civilian teams. 

On the whole as I look back there is no regret in my mind 
for the time that I have devoted to sport. It gives health and 


286 Memories and Adventures 

strength but above all it gives a certain balance of mind with¬ 
out which a man is not complete. To give and to take, to 
accept success modestly and defeat bravely, to fight against 
odds, to stick to one’s point, to give credit to your enemy and 
value your friend — these are some of the lessons which true 
sport should impart. 


CHAPTER XXY 


TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS IN 1914 

Baseball — Parkman — Ticonderoga — Prairie Towns — Procession of Ceres 
— Belies of the Past — A Moose — Prospects for Emigrants — Jasper 
Park — The Great Divide — Algonquin Park. 

I X 1914, with little perception of how near we were to the 
greatest event of the world’s history, we accepted an in¬ 
vitation from the Canadian Government to inspect the Xational 
Reserve at Jasper Park in the Xorthern Rockies. The Grand 
Trunk Railway (Canadian) made matters easy for us by 
generously undertaking to pass us over their system and to 
place a private car at our disposal. This proved to he a 
gloriously comfortable and compact little home, consisting of 
a parlour, a dining-room and a bedroom. It belonged to Mr. 
Chamberlin, the president of the line, who allowed us the use 
of it. Full of anticipation we started off in May upon our 
long and pleasant journey. Our first point was Xew York, 
where we hoped to put in a week of sight-seeing, since my wife 
had never been to America. Then we were to go Xorth and 
meet our kind hosts of Canada. At the Plaza Hotel of Xew 
York we found ourselves in pleasant quarters for a hectic 
week. Here are a few impressions. 

We went to see a baseball game at Xew York — a first- 
class match, as we should say — or “ some game,” as a native 
expert described it. I looked on it all with the critical but 
sympathetic eyes of an experienced though decrepit cricketer. 
The men were fine fellows, harder looking than most of our 
professionals — indeed they train continually, and some of the 
teams had even before the days of prohibition to practise com¬ 
plete abstinence, which is said to show its good results not so 
much in physical fitness as in the mental quickness which is 
very essential in the game. The catching seemed to me ex¬ 
traordinarily good, especially the judging of the long catches 
near the “ bleachers,” as the outfields which are far from any 
shade are called. The throwing in is also remarkably hard and 


288 Memories and Adventures 

accurate, and, if applied to Cricket, would astonish, some of our 
batsmen. The men earn anything from £1,000 to £1,500 in 
the season. This money question is a weak point of the 
game, as it is among our own Soccer clubs, since it means that 
the largest purse has the best team, and there is no necessary 
relation between the player and the place he plays for. Thus 
we looked upon New York defeating the Philadelphia Athletics, 
but there was no more reason to suppose that New York had 
actually produced one team than that Philadelphia had pro¬ 
duced the other. Por this reason the smaller matches, such 
as are played between local teams or colleges, seem to me to 
be more exciting, as they do represent something definite. 

The pitcher is the man who commands the highest salary 
and has mastered the hardest part of the game. His pace is 
remarkable, far faster, I should say, than any bowling; hut 
of course it is a throw, and as such would not be possible in 
the cricket field. I had one uneasy moment when I was asked 
in Canada to take the bat and open a baseball game. The 
pitcher, fortunately, was merciful, and the ball came swift but 
true. I steadied myself by trying to imagine that it was a 
bat which I held in my grasp and that this was a full toss, 
which asked to be hit over the ropes. Fortunately, I got it 
fairly in the middle and it went on its appointed way, whiz¬ 
zing past the ear of a photographer, who expected me to pat 
it. I should not care to have to duplicate the performance — 
nor would the photographer. 

I took the opportunity when I was in New York to inspect 
the two famous prisons, The Tombs and Sing Sing. The 
Tombs is in the very heart of the city, and a gloomy, ill-boding 
place it is when seen from without. Within it is equally dis¬ 
mal. I walked round in a somewhat shamefaced way, for it 
makes you feel so when you encounter human suffering which 
you cannot relieve. Warders and prisoners seemed however 
to be cheerful enough, and there was an off-hand way of doing 
things which seemed strange after our rigid methods. A Chi¬ 
nese prisoner, for example, was standing at the bottom of 
the lift, and I heard the warder shout through the tube, “ Have 
you got room for another Chink in number three ? ” I had a 
talk with one strange Englishman who was barred in like a 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 289 

wild beast. He spoke of the various prisons, of which he 
had a wide acquaintance, exactly as if they were hotels which 
he was recommending or condemning. “ Toronto is a very 
poor show. The food is had. I hope I may never see Toronto 
Gaol again. Detroit is better. I had quite a pleasant time 
in Detroit.” And so on. He spoke and looked like a gentle¬ 
man, but I could quite imagine, in spite of his genial manner, 
that he was a dangerous crook. When I left him he said: 
“ Well, bye-bye! Sorry you have to go! We can’t all he out 
and about, can we ? ” 

In the same week I went to Sing Sing, the State Peniten¬ 
tiary, which is some twenty miles from the city on the banks 
of the Hudson. It is an ancient building, dating from the 
middle of last century, and it certainly should be condemned 
by a rich and prosperous community. By a strange coincidence 
the convicts were having one of their few treats in the year 
that day, and I was able to see them all assembled together 
in the great hall, listening to a music-hall troupe from Hew 
York. Poor devils, all the forced, vulgar gaiety of the songs 
and the antics of half-clad women must have provoked a terrible 
reaction in their minds! Many of them had, I observed, ab¬ 
normalities of cranium or of features which made it clear that 
they were not wholly responsible for their actions. There was 
a good sprinkling of coloured men among them. Here and 
there I noticed an intelligent and even a good face. One won¬ 
dered how they got there. 

I was locked up afterwards in one of the cells — seven feet 
by four — and I was also placed in the electrocution chair, a 
very ordinary, stout, cane-bottomed seat, with a good many 
sinister wires dangling round it. I had a long talk with the 
Governor, who seemed in himself to be a humane man, but 
terribly hampered by the awful building which he had to ad¬ 
minister. 

One morning of early June “ my Lady Sunshine ” and I —* 
(if I may be allowed to quote tbe charmingly appropriate name 
which the Hew York Press had given to my wife) left Hew 
York for Parkman Land, which I had long wished to explore. 
We were glad to get away as we had been considerably harassed 
by the ubiquitous and energetic American reporter. 


290 Memories and Adventures 

This individual is really, in nine cases out of ten, a very 
good fellow, and if you will treat him with decent civility he 
will make the best of you with the public. It is absurd for 
travellers to be rude to him, as is too often the attitude of the 
wandering Briton. The man is under orders from his paper, 
and if he returns without results it is not a compliment upon 
his delicacy which will await him. He is out to see you and 
describe you, and if he finds you an ill-tempered, cantankerous 
curmudgeon, he very naturally says so and turns out some 
excellent spicy reading at your expense. The indignant Briton 
imagines that this is done in revenge. The reporter would 
not be human if it did not amuse him to do it, hut it very 
often represents the exact impression which the vituperative 
traveller has made upon the pressman, himself as often as not 
an overworked and highly-strung man. 

Reminiscences of interviews are occasionally amusing. I 
can remember that on my previous visit I was approached one 
night by an interviewer in a very marked state of intoxication. 
He was so drunk that I wondered what in the world he would 
make of his subject, and I bought his paper next day to see. 
To my amusement I found that I had made the worst possible 
impression upon him. He had found no good in me at all. 
He may even have attributed to me his own weakness, like 
the Scotch toper who said: “ Sandy drank that hard that by 
the end of the evening I couldn’t see him.” 

To return to Parkman Land. I am surprised to find how 
few Americans and fewer Canadians there are who appreciate 
that great historian at his true worth. I wonder whether any 
man of letters has ever devoted himself to a task with such 
whole-hearted devotion as Parkman. He knew the old bloody 
frontier as Scott knew the border marches. He was soaked in 
Hew England tradition. He prepared himself for writing 
about Indians by living for months in their wigwams. He 
was intimate with old French life, and he spent some time in a 
religious house that he might catch something of the spirit 
which played so great a part in the early history of Canada. 
On the top of all this he had the well-balanced, unprejudiced 
mind of the great chronicler, and he cultivated a style which 
was equally removed from insipidity and from affectation. As 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 291 

to his industry and resolution, they are shown by the fact that 
he completed his volumes after he had been stricken by blind¬ 
ness. It is hard to name any historian who has such an equip¬ 
ment as this. From his a Pioneers of the Hew World ” to 
his “ Conspiracy of Pontiac ” I have read his twelve volumes 
twice over, and put some small reflection of them into my 
11 Refugees.” 

We explored not only the beautiful, tragic Lake George, but 
also its great neighbour Lake Champlain, almost as full of 
historical reminiscence. Upon this, level with the head of the 
smaller lake, stood Ticonderoga, the chief seat of the French 
Canadian power. Some five miles separate it from Lake 
George, up which the British came buzzing whenever they were 
strong enough to do so. Once in front of the palisades of 
Ticonderoga, they met with heavy defeat, and yet once again, 
by the valour of the newly-enrolled Black Watch, they swept 
the place off the map. I wonder if Stevenson had actually 
been there before he wrote his eerie haunting ballad — the 
second finest of the sort, in my opinion, in our literature. It 
is more than likely, since he spent some time in the neighbour¬ 
ing Adirondacks. Pious hands were restoring the old fort of 
Ticonderoga, much of which has been uncovered. All day we 
skirted Lake Champlain, into which the old French explorer 
first found his way, and where he made the dreadful mistake 
of mixing in Indian warfare, which brought the whole blood¬ 
thirsty vendetta of the five nations upon the young French 
settlements. Up at the head of the lake we saw Plattsburg, 
where the Americans gained a victory in the war of 1812. 
The sight of these battle-fields, whether they mark British or 
American successes, always fills me with horror. If the war 
of 1776 was, as I hold, a glorious mistake, that of 1812 was a 
senseless blunder. Had neither occurred, the whole of Horth 
America would now be one magnificent undivided country, 
pursuing its own independent destiny, and yet united in such 
unblemished ties of blood and memory to the old country that 
each could lean at all times upon the other. It is best for 
Britishers, no doubt, that we should never lean upon anything 
bigger than ourselves. But I see no glory in these struggles, 
and little wisdom in the statesmen who waged them. Among 


292 Memories and Adventures 

them they split the race from base to summit, and who has 
been the gainer ? Not Britain, who was alienated from so many 
of her very best children. Not America, who lost Canada and 
had on. her hands a civil war which a United Empire could 
have avoided. Ah well, there is a controlling force somewhere, 
and the highest wisdom is to believe that all things are ordered 
for the best. 

About evening we crossed the Canadian frontier, the Riche¬ 
lieu River, down which the old Iroquois scalping parties used 
to creep, gleaming coldly in the twilight. There is nothing to 
show where you have crossed that border. There is the same 
sort of country, the same cultivation, the same plain wooden 
houses. Nothing was changed save that suddenly I saw a 
little old ensign flying on a gable, and it gives you a thrill 
when you have not seen it for a time. 

It is not until one has reached the Prairie country that the 
traveller meets with new conditions and new problems. He 
traverses Ontario with its prosperous mixed farms and its 
fruit-growing villages, hut the general effect is the same as in 
Eastern America. Then comes the enormous stretch of the 
Great Lakes, those wonderful inland seas, with great ocean¬ 
going steamers. We saw the newly built Noronic, destined 
altogether for passenger traffic, and worthy to compare, both 
in internal fittings and outward appearance, with many 
an Atlantic liner. The Indians looked in amazement at 
La Salle’s little vessel. I wondered what La Salle and his 
men would think of the Noronic! Eor two days in great com¬ 
fort we voyaged over the inland waters. They lay peaceful 
for our passage, hut we heard grim stories of winter gusts and 
of ships which were never heard of more. It is not surprising 
that there should be accidents, for the number of vessels is ex¬ 
traordinary, and being constructed with the one idea of carry¬ 
ing the maximum of cargo, they appeared to be not very stable. 
I am speaking now of the whale-back freight carriers and not 
of the fine passenger service, which could not be beaten. 

I have said that the number of vessels is extraordinary. I 
have been told that the tonnage passing through Sault Ste. 
Marie, where the lakes join, is greater than that of any port 
in the world. All the supplies and manufactures for the West 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 293 

move one way, while the corn of the great prairie, and the 
ores from the Lake Superior copper and iron mines move 
the other. In the IF all there comes the triumphant procession 
of the harvest. Surely in more poetic days banners might 
have waved and cymbals clashed, and priests of Ceres sung 
their hymns in the vanguard, as this flotilla of mercy moved 
majestically over the face of the waters to the aid of hungry 
Europe. However, we have cut out the frills, to use the ver¬ 
nacular, though life would be none the worse could we tinge 
it a little with the iridescence of romance. 

We stopped at Sault Ste. Marie, the neck of the hour-glass 
between the two great lakes of Huron and Superior. There 
were several things there which are worthy of record. The 
lakes are of a different level, and the lock which avoids the 
dangerous rapids is on an enormous scale; but, beside it, un¬ 
noticed save by those who know where to look and what to look 
for, there is a little stone-lined cutting no larger than an un¬ 
covered drain — it is the detour by which for centuries the 
voyageurs, trappers, and explorers moved their canoes round 
the Sault or fall on their journey to the great solitudes beyond. 
Close by it is one of the old Hudson Bay log forts, with its 
fireproof roof, its loop-holed walls, and every other device for 
Indian fighting. Very small and mean these things look by 
the side of the great locks and the huge steamers within them. 
But where would locks and steamers have been had these others 
not taken their lives in their hands to clear the way? 

The twin cities of Eort William and Port Arthur, at the 
head of Lake Superior, form the most growing community of 
Canada. They call them twin cities, but I expect, like their 
Siamese predecessors, they will grow into one. Already the 
suburbs join each other, though proximity does npt always 
lead to amalgamation or even to cordiality, as in the adjacent 
towns of St. Paul and Minneapolis. When the little American 
boy was asked in Sunday school who persecuted Saint Paul, he 
“ guessed it was Minneapolis.” But in the case of Fort Wil¬ 
liam and Port Arthur they are so evidently interdependent that 
it is difficult to believe that they will fail to coalesce; when 
they do, I am of opinion that they may grow to be a Canadian 
Chicago, and possibly become the greatest city in the country. 


294 Memories and Adventures 

All lines converge there, as does all the lake traffic, and every¬ 
thing from East to West must pass through it. If I were a 
rich man and wished to become-richer, I should assuredly buy 
land in the twin cities. Though they lie in the very centre of 
the broadest portion of the continent, the water communica¬ 
tions are so wonderful that an ocean-going steamer from Liver¬ 
pool or Glasgotv can now unload at their quays. 

The grain elevators of Eort William are really majestic 
erections, and with a little change of their construction might 
be sesthetic as well. Even now the huge cylinders into which 
they are divided look at a little distance not unlike the columns 
of Luxor. This branch of human ingenuity has been pushed 
at Eort William to its extreme. The last word has been said 
there upon every question covering the handling of grain. By 
some process, which is far beyond my unmechanical brain, the 
stuff is even divided automatically according to its quality, 
and there are special hospital elevators where damaged grain 
can he worked up into a more perfect article. 

By the way, it was here, while lying at a steamship wharf 
on the very edge of the city, that I first made the acquaint¬ 
ance of one of the original inhabitants of Canada. A cleared 
plain stretched from the ship to a wood some hundreds of yards 
off. As I stood upon deck I saw what I imagined to be a 
horse wander out of the wood and begin to graze in the clear¬ 
ing. The creature seemed ewe-necked beyond all possibility, 
and looking closer I saw to my surprise that it was a wild 
hornless moose. Could anything be more characteristic of the 
present condition of Canada — the great mechanical develop¬ 
ments of Fort William within gunshot of me on one side, and 
this shy wanderer of the wilderness on the other? In a few 
years the dweller in the great city will read of my experience 
with the same mixture of incredulity and surprise with which 
we read the occasional correspondent’s whose grandfather shot 
a woodcock in Maida Vale. 

The true division between the East and West of Canada is 
not the Great Lakes, which are so valuable as a waterway, 
but lies in the 500 miles of country between the Lakes and 
Winnipeg. It is barren, but beautiful, covered with forest 
which is not large enough to be of value as lumber. It is a 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 295 

country of rolling plains covered with low trees with rivers 
in the valleys. The soil is poor. It is really a problem what 
to do with this belt, which is small according to Canadian dis¬ 
tance, but is none the less broader than the distance between 
London and Edinburgh. Unless minerals are found in it, I 
should think that it will be to Canada what the Highlands of 
Scotland are to Britain — a region set apart for sport because 
it has no other economic use. The singular thing about this 
barren tree-land is that it quite suddenly changes to the fertile 
prairie at a point to the east of Winnipeg. I presume that 
there is some geological reason, but it was strange to see the 
fertile plain run up to the barren woods with as clear a division 
as there is between the sea and the shore. 

And now one reaches the west of Winnipeg and that 
prairie which means so much both to Canada and to the world. 
It was wonderfully impressive to travel swiftly all day from 
the early summer dawn to the latest evening light, and to see 
always the same little clusters of houses, always the same dis¬ 
tant farms, always the same huge expanse stretching to the 
distant skyline, mottled with cattle, or green with the half- 
grown crops. You think these people are lonely. What about 
the people beyond them and beyond them again, each family in 
its rude barracks in the midst of the 160 acres which form the 
minimum farm? Ho doubt they are lonely, and yet there are 
alleviations. When men or women are working on their own 
property and seeing their fortune growing, they have pleasant 
thoughts to bear them company. It is the women, I am told, 
who feel it most, and who go prairie-mad. How they have 
rigged telephone circles which connect up small groups of 
farms and enable the women to relieve their lives by a little 
friendly gossip, when the whole district thrills to the news 
that Mrs. Jones has been in the cars to Winnipeg and bought 
a new bonnet. At the worst the loneliness of the prairie can 
never, one would think, have the soul-killing effect of loneli¬ 
ness in a town. “ There is always the wind on the heath, 
brother.” Besides, the wireless has now arrived, and that is 
the best friend of the lonely man. 

Land is not so easily picked up by the emigrant as in the 
old days, when 160 , acres beside the railroad were given away 


296 Memories and Adventures 

free. There was still in 19l4 free land to be had, but it was 
in the back country. However, this back country of to-day 
is always liable to be opened up-by the branch railway lines 
to-morrow. On the whole, however, it seems to be more eco¬ 
nomical, if the emigrant has the money, to buy a partially de¬ 
veloped well-situated farm than to take up a virgin home¬ 
stead. That is what the American emigrants do who have been 
pouring into the country, and they know best the value of such 
farms, having usually come from exactly similar ones just 
across the border, the only difference being that they can get 
ten acres in Canada for the price of one in Minnesota or Iowa. 
They hasten to take out their papers of naturalization, and 
make, it is said, most excellent and contented citizens. Their 
energy and industry are remarkable. A body of them had 
reached the land which they proposed to buy about the time 
that we were in the West; they had come over the border with 
their wagons, their horses, and their ploughs. Being taken to 
the spot by the land agent, the leader of the party tested the 
soil, cast a rapid glance over the general prairie, and then 
cried: “ I guess this will do, boys. Get off the ploughs.” The 
agent who was present told me that they had broken an acre of 
the prairie before they slept that night. These men were 
German Lutherans from Minnesota, and they settled in the 
neighbourhood of Scott. The gains on the farms are very con¬ 
siderable. It is not unusual for a man to pay every expense 
which he has incurred, including the price of the land, within 
the first two years. After that, with decent luck, he should 
be a prosperous man, able to bring up a family in ease and 
comfort. If he be British, and desires to return to the Old 
Country, it should not be difficult for him to save enough in 
ten or twelve years to make himself, after selling his farm, 
more or less independent for life. That is, as it seems to me, 
an important consideration for many people who hesitate to 
break all the old ties and feel that they are leaving their 
motherland for ever. 

So much about farms and farming. I cannot see how one 
can write about this western part and avoid the subject which 
is written in green and gold from sky to sky. There is noth¬ 
ing else. Nowhere is there any sign of yesterday — not a 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 297 

cairn, not a monument. Life has passed here, hut has left no 
footstep behind. But stay, the one thing which the old life 
still leaves is just this one thing — footsteps. Look at them 
in the little narrow black paths which converge to the water — 
little dark ruts which wind and twist. Those are the buffalo 
runs of old. Gone are the Cree and Blackfoot hunters who 
shot them down. Gone, too, the fur-traders who bought the 
skins. Chief Factor MacTavish, who entered into the great 
Company’s service as a boy, spent his life in slow promotion 
from Fort This to Fort That, and made a decent Presbyterian 
woman of some Indian squaw, finally saw with horror in his 
old age that the world was crowding his wild beasts out of 
their pastures. Gone are the great herds upon which both 
Indian hunter and fur-trader were parasitical. Indian, trader 
and buffalo all have passed, and here on the great plains are 
these narrow runways as the last remaining sign of a vanished 
world. 

Edmonton is the capital of the western side of the prairie, 
even as Winnipeg is of the eastern. I do not suppose the aver¬ 
age Briton has the least conception of the amenities of Winni¬ 
peg. He would probably be surprised to hear that the Fort 
Garry Hotel there is nearly as modern and luxurious as any 
hotel in Northumberland Avenue. There were no such luxuries 
in 1914 in Edmonton. The town was in a strangely half- 
formed condition, rude and raw, but with a great atmosphere of 
energy, bustle, and future greatness. With its railway connec¬ 
tions and waterways it is bound to be a large city. At the time 
of our visit the streets were full of out-of-works, great husky 
men, some of them of magnificent physique, who found them¬ 
selves at a loss, on account of cessations in railroad construction. 
They told me that they would soon be reabsorbed, but meantime 
the situation was the rudest object-lesson in economics that I 
have ever witnessed. Here were these splendid men, ready and 
willing to work. Here was a new country calling in every 
direction for labour. How come the two things to be even 
temporarily disconnected ? There could be but one word. It 
was want of capital. And why was the capital wanting ? Why 
was the work of the railroads held up ? Because the money 
market was tight in London — London which finds, according 


298 Memories and Adventures 

to the most recent figures, 78 per cent of all the moneys with 
which Canada is developed. Such was the state of things. 
What will amend it ? How can capital he made to flow into 
the best channels ? By encouragement and security and the 
hope of good returns. I never heard of any system of social¬ 
ism which did not seem to defeat the very object which it had 
at heart. And yet it was surely deplorable that the men should 
he there, and that the work should be there, and that none could 
command the link which would unite them. 

A line of low distant hills broke the interminable plain 
which has extended with hardly a rising for 1,500 miles. 
Above them was, here and there, a peak of snow. Shades of 
Mayne Reid, they were the Rockies — my old familiar Rock¬ 
ies! Have I been here before? What an absurd qiiestion, 
when I lived here for about ten years of my life in all the 
hours of dreamland. What deeds have I not done among 
Redskins and trappers and grizzlies within their wilds! And 
here they were at last glimmering bright in the rising morn¬ 
ing sun. At least, I have seen my dream mountains. Most 
boys never do. 

Jasper Park is one of the great national playgrounds and 
health resorts which the Canadian Government with great 
wisdom has laid out for the benefit of the citizens. When 
Canada has filled up and carries a large population, she will 
bless the foresight of the administrators who took possession 
of broad tracts of the most picturesque land and put them for 
ever out of the power of the speculative dealer. The National 
Park at Banff has for twenty years been a Mecca for tourists. 
That at Algonquin gives a great pleasure-ground to those who 
cannot extend their travels beyond Eastern Canada. But this 
new Jasper Park is the latest and the wildest of all these re¬ 
serves. Some years ago it was absolute wilderness, and much 
of it impenetrable. Now, through the energy of Colonel Rog¬ 
ers, trails have been cut through it in various directions, and 
a great number of adventurous trips into country which is 
practically unknown can be carried out with ease and com¬ 
fort. The packer plays the part of a dragoman in the East, 
arranging the whole expedition, food, cooking, and everything 
else on inclusive terms; and once in the hands of a first-class 



THE FAMILY IN THE WILDS OF CANADA. 
















To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 299 

Rocky Mountain packer, a man of tke standing of Fred 
Stephens or the Otto Brothers, the traveller can rely upon 
a square deal and the companionship of one whom he will 
find to be a most excellent comrade. There is no shooting in 
the park — it is a preserve for all wild animals — but there is 
excellent fishing, and everywhere there are the most wonderful 
excursions, where you sleep at night under the stars upon the 
balsamic fir branches which the packer gathers for your couch. 
I could not imagine an experience which would be more likely 
to give a freshet of vitality when the stream runs thin. For 
a week we lived the life of simplicity and nature. 

The park is not as full of wild creatures as it will be after 
a few years of preservation. The Indians who lived in this 
part rounded up everything that they could before moving to 
their reservation. But even now, the bear lumbers through the 
brushwood, the eagle soars above the lake, the timber wolf 
still skulks in the night, and the deer graze in the valleys. 
Above, near the snow-line, the wild goat is not uncommon, 
while at a lower altitude are found the mountain sheep. On 
the last day of our visit the rare cinnamon bear exposed his 
yellow coat upon a clearing within a few hundred yards of 
the village. I saw his clumsy good-humoured head looking 
at me from over a dead trunk, and I thanked the kindly Cana¬ 
dian law which has given him a place of sanctuary. What a 
bloodthirsty baboon man must appear to the lower animals! 
If any superhuman demon treated us exactly as we treat the 
pheasants, we should begin to reconsider our views as to what 
is sport. 

The porcupine is another creature which abounded in the 
woods. I did not see any, but a friend described an encounter 
between one and his dog. The creature’s quills are detachable 
when he wishes to be nasty, and at the end of the fight it was 
not easy to say which was the dog and which the porcupine. 

Life in Jasper interested me as an experience of the first 
stage of a raw Canadian town. It will certainly grow into 
a considerable place, but at that time, bar Colonel Rogers’ 
house and the station, there were only log-huts and small wooden 
dwellings. Christianity was apostolic in its simplicity and 
in its freedom from strife — though one has to go back re- 


300 


Memories and Adventures 


markably early in apostolic rimes to find those characteristics. 
Two churches were being built, the pastor in each case acting 
also as head mason and carpenter. One, the corner-stone of 
which I had the honour of laying, was to be used in turn by 
several Nonconformist bodies. To the ceremony came the 
Anglican parson, grimy from his labours on the opposition 
building, and prayed for the well-being of his rival. The 
whole function, with its simplicity and earnestness, carried 
out by a group of ill-clad men standing bareheaded in a drizzle 
of rain, seemed to me to have in it the essence of religion. 
As I ventured to remark to them, Kikuyu and Jasper can 
give some lessons to London. 

We made a day’s excursion by rail to the Tete Jaune Cache, 
which is across the British Columbian border and marks the 
watershed between East and West. Here we saw the Eraser, 
already a formidable river, rushing down to the Pacific. At 
the head of the pass stands the village of the railway work¬ 
ers, exactly like one of the mining townships of Bret Harte, 
save that the bad man is never allowed to be too bad. There 
is a worse man in a red serge coat and a Stetson hat, who is 
told off by the State to look after him, and does his duty in 
such fashion that the most fire-eating desperado from aeross 
the border falls into the line of law. But apart from the gun¬ 
man, this village presented exactly the same queer cabins, 
strange signs, and gambling rooms which the great American 
master has made so familiar to us. 

And now we were homeward bound! Back through Ed¬ 
monton, back through Winnipeg, back through that young 
giant, Port William — but not back across the Great Lakes. 
Instead of that transit we took train, by the courtesy of the 
Canadian Pacific, round the northern shore of Superior, a 
beautiful wooded desolate country, which, without minerals, 
offers little prospect for the future. Some 200 miles north of 
it, the Grand Trunk, that enterprising pioneer of empire, has 
opened up another line which extends for a thousand miles, 
and should develop a new corn and lumber district. Canada 
is like an expanding flower; wherever you look you see some 
fresh petal unrolling. 

We spent three days at Algonquin Park. This place is 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 301 

witliin easy distance of Montreal or Ottawa, and should be¬ 
come a resort of British fishermen and lovers of nature. After 
all, it is little more than a week from London, and many a 
river in Finland takes nearly as long to reach. There is good 
hotel accommodation, and out of the thousand odd lakes in 
this enormous natural preserve one can find all sorts of fishing, 
though the best is naturally the most remote. I had no par¬ 
ticular luck myself, but my wife caught an eight-pound trout, 
which Mr. Bartlett, the courteous superintendent of the park, 
mounted, so as to confound all doubters. Deer abound in the 
park, and the black bear is not uncommon, while wolves can 
often be heard howling in the night-time. 

What will be the destiny of Canada? Some people talk 
as if it were in doubt. Personally, I have none upon the point. 
Canada will remain exactly as she is for two more generations. 
At the end of that time there must be reconsideration of the 
subject, especially on the part of Great Britain, who will find 
herself with a child as large as herself under the same roof. 

I see no argument for the union of Canada with the United 
States. There is excellent feeling between the two countries, 
but they could no more join at this period of their history 
than a great oak could combine with a well-rooted pine to make 
one tree. The roots of each are far too deep. It is impossible. 

Then there is the alternative of Canada becoming an inde¬ 
pendent nation. That is not so impossible as a union with the 
States, but it is in the last degree improbable. Why should 
Canada wish her independence ? She has it now in every 
essential. But her first need is the capital and the population 
which will develop her enormous territory and resources. This 
capital she now receives from the Mother-Country to the extent 
in 1914 of 73 per cent, the United States finding 14 per cent, 
and Canada herself the remaining 13. Her dependence upon 
the Mother-Country for emigrants, though not so great as her 
financial dependence, is still the greatest from any single 
source. Besides all this, she has the vast insurance policy, 
which is called the British Uavy, presented to her for nothing 
— though honour demands some premium from her in the 
future — and she has the British diplomatic service for her 
use unpaid. Altogether, looking at it from the material side. 


302 Memories and Adventures 

Canada’s interests lie deeply in the present arrangement. But 
there is a higher and more unselfish view which works even 
more strongly in the same direction. Many of the most repre¬ 
sentative Canadians are descendants of those United Empire 
Loyalists who in 1782 gave up everything and emigrated from 
the United States in order to remain under the flag. Their 
imperialism is as warm or warmer than our own. And every¬ 
where there is a consciousness of the glory of the empire, its 
magnificent future, and the wonderful possibilities of these 
great nations all growing up under the same flag with the 
same language and destinies. This sentiment joins with mate¬ 
rial advantages, and will prevent Canada from having any 
aspiration towards independence. 

Yes, it will remain exactly as it is for the remainder of this 
century. At the end of that time her population and resources 
will probably considerably exceed those of the Mother Land, 
and problems will arise which our children’s children may 
have some difficulty in solving. As to the French-Canadian, he 
will always he a conservative force — let him call himself what 
he will. His occasional weakness for flying the French flag 
is not to he resented, hut is rather a pathetic and sentimental 
tribute to a lost cause, like that which adorns every year the 
pedestal of Charles at Whitehall. 

I had some presentiment of coming trouble during the time 
we were in Canada, though I never imagined that we were so 
close to the edge of a world-war. One incident which struck 
me forcibly was the arrival at Vancouver of a ship full of 
Sikhs who demanded to he admitted to Canada. This demand 
was resisted on account of the immigration laws. The whole 
incident seemed to me to be so grotesque — for why should 
sun-loving Hindoos force themselves upon Canada — that I 
was convinced some larger purpose lay behind it. That pur¬ 
pose was, as we can now see, to promote discord among the 
races under the British flag. There can be no doubt that it 
was German money that chartered that ship. 

I had several opportunities of addressing large and influ¬ 
ential Canadian audiences, and I never failed to insist upon 
the sound state of the home population. The Canadians judge 
us too often by our ne’er-do-weels and remittance men, who 


To the Rocky Mountains in 1914 303 

* ' 

are the sample Englishmen who come before them. In defence 
even of these samples it should he stated that they hulked very 
large in the first Canadian Division. I told the Canadians of 
our magnificent Boy Scout movement, and also of the move¬ 
ment of old soldiers to form a national guard. “ A country 
where both the old and the young can start new, unselfish, 
patriotic movements is a live country,” I said, “ and if we 
are tested we will prove just as good as ever our fathers were.” 
I did not dream how near the test would be, how hard it would 
press, or how gloriously it would be met. 

And now I turn to the war, the physical climax of my life 
as it must be of the life of every living man and woman. Each 
was caught as a separate chip and swept into that fearsome 
whirlpool, where we all gyrated for four years, some sinking 
for ever, some washed up all twisted and bent, and all of us 
showing in our souls and bodies some mark of the terrible 
forces which had controlled us so long. I will show presently 
how the war reacted upon me, and also, if one may speak with¬ 
out presumption, how in a minute way I in turn reacted upon 
the war. 


CHAPTER XXVI 


THE EYE OE WAE 

The Prologue of Armageddon — The “ Prince Henry ” Race — Bernhardi 
—“ England and the Next War ”—“ Danger ”— General Sir H. Wil¬ 
son— The Channel Tunnel—Naval Defects — Rubber Collars — Minea 
—Willie Redmond. 

F OR a long time I never seriously believed in the German 
menace. Frequently I found myself alone, in a company 
of educated Englishmen, in my opinion that it was non-exist¬ 
ent— or at worst greatly exaggerated. This conclusion was 
formed on two grounds. The first was, that I knew it to he 
impossible that we could attack Germany save in the face of 
monstrous provocation. By the conditions of our government, 
even if those in high places desired to do such a thing, it was 
utterly impracticable, for a foreign war could not he success¬ 
fully carried on by Great Britain unless the overwhelming 
majority of the people approved of it. Our foreign, like our 
home, politics are governed by the vote of the proletariat. It 
would be impossible to wage an aggressive war against any 
Power if the public were not convinced of its justice and 
necessity. Eor this reason we could not attack Germany. On 
the other hand, it seemed to be equally unthinkable that Ger¬ 
many should attack us. One failed to see what she could pos¬ 
sibly hope to gain by such a proceeding. She had enemies 
already upon her eastern and western frontiers, and it was 
surely unlikely that she would go out of her way to pick a 
quarrel with the powerful British Empire. If she made war 
and lost it, her commerce would be set back and her rising 
colonial empire destroyed. If she won it, it was difficult to 
see w T here she could hope for the spoils. We could not give 
her greater facilities for trade than she had already. We could 
not give her habitable white colonies, for she would find it 
impossible to take possession of them in the face of the opposi¬ 
tion of the inhabitants. An indemnity she could never force 


The Eve of War 305 

from us. Some coaling stations and possibly some tropical 
colonies, of which latter she already possessed abundance, were 
the most that she could hope for. Would such a prize as that 
be worth the risk attending such a war ? To me it seemed that 
there could be only one answer to such a question. 

I am still of the same opinion. But unhappily the affairs 
of nations are not always regulated by reason, and occasionally 
a country may be afflicted by a madness which sets all calcula¬ 
tions at defiance. Then, again, I had looked upon the matter 
too much as between Great Britain and Germany. I had not 
sufficiently considered the chance of our being drawn in against 
our will in order to safeguard Belgium, or in order to stop 
the annihilation of France. It was so perfectly clear that 
Britain by her treaty obligations, and by all that is human and 
honourable, would fight if Belgium were invaded, that one 
could not conceive Germany taking such a step with any other 
expectation. And yet what we could not conceive is exactly 
what happened, for it is clear that the delusions as to our de¬ 
generation in character had really persuaded the Germans that 
the big cowardly fellow would stand by with folded arms and 
see his little friend knocked about by the bully. The whole 
idea showed an extraordinary ignorance of the British psy¬ 
chology, but absurd as it was, it was none the less the deter¬ 
mining influence at the critical moment of the world’s history. 
The influence of the lie is one of the strangest problems of 
life — that which is not continually influences that which is. 
Within one generation imagination and misrepresentation have 
destroyed the Boer republics and Imperial Germany. 

One of my most remarkable pre-war experiences, which in¬ 
fluenced my mind deeply, was my participation in the amateur 
motor race called the Prince Henry Competition. It was 
rather a reliability test than a race, for the car had to go 
some 150 miles a day on an average at its own pace, but marks 
were taken off for all involuntary stoppages, breakdowns, acci¬ 
dents, etc. Each owner had to drive his own car, and I had 
entered my little sixteen horse-power landaulette. There were 
about forty British cars and fifty German, so that the proces¬ 
sion was a very considerable one. Starting from Homburg, 
the watering-place, our route ran through North Germany, 


306 Memories and Adventures 

then by steamer to Southampton, up to Edinburgh and back 
to London by devious ways. 

The competition had been planned in Germany, and there 
can be no doubt in looking back that a political purpose under¬ 
lay it. The idea was to create a false entente by means of 
sport, which would react upon the very serious political de¬ 
velopment in the wind, namely, the occupation of Agadir on 
the south-west coast of Morocco, which occurred on our second 
day out. As Prince Henry, who organized and took part in 
the competition, was also head of the German Navy, it is of 
course obvious that he knew that the Panther was going to 
Agadir, and that there was a direct connection between the 
two events, in each of which he was a leading actor. It was 
a clumsy bit of stage management and could not possibly have 
been effective. 

The peculiarity of the tour was that each car had an officer 
of the army or navy of the other nation as a passenger, to check 
the marks. Thus my wife and I had the enforced company for 
nearly three weeks of Count Carmer, Rittmeister of Breslau 
Cuirassiers, who began by being stiff and inhuman, but speed¬ 
ily thawed and became a very good fellow. The arrangements 
were very peculiar. Some British paper — the “ Mail ” if I 
remember right — had stated that the Competition was really 
a device to pass a number of German officers through Great 
Britain in order to spy out the land. I think there may have 
been some truth in this, as our good Count when we reached 
London went off to a hotel down in the East End, which 
seemed a curious thing for a wealthy Junker to do. This criti¬ 
cism seems to have annoyed the Kaiser, and he said — or so 
it was reported — that none but junior officers should go a3 
observers. I should think that ours was the senior of the lot, 
and the others were mostly captains and lieutenants. On the 
other hand, the British Government, out of compliment to 
Prince Henry, had appointed the very best men available as 
observers. If there had been a sudden crisis over Agadir, and 
Germany had impounded us all, it would have been a national 
disaster and would have made a difference in a European war. 
Speaking from an imperfect memory, I can recall that we had 
General Grierson, Charles Munro, Rawlinson, I think, Cap- 


307 


The Eve of War 

** 

tain — now General — Swinton of Tanks fame, Delme Rat¬ 
cliff e, Colonel — now General — Holman, Major — now Gen¬ 
eral — Thwaites, and many other notables both of the Army 
and Havy. 

From the first relations were strained. There was natural 
annoyance when these senior officers found that their opposite 
numbers were youngsters of no experience. Then, again, at 
Cologne and Munster I understand that the German military 
did not show the proper courtesies, and certainly the hospitality 
which the whole party received until we reached England was 
negligible. The Germans themselves must have felt ashamed 
of the difference. Personally the competitors were not a had 
set of fellows, though there were some bounders among them. 
We were not all above criticism ourselves. 

Of the Competition itself little need he said, as I have 
treated the sporting side of it elsewhere. Some of the Ger¬ 
mans seemed to me to he a little mad, for they seemed con¬ 
sumed hy the idea that it was a race, whereas it mattered noth¬ 
ing who was at the head of the procession or who at the tail, 
so long as you did the allotted distance in the allotted time. 
I saw a German hound into his car after some stoppage: “ How 
many ahead ? Three Englishmen! Eorwards! Forwards! ” 
he cried. They barged into each other, dashed furiously round 
corners, and altogether behaved in a wild fashion, while our 
sedate old fellows pursued their course in a humdrum fashion 
and saved their marks. There were, however, some good fel¬ 
lows among the Germans. I have not forgotten how one of 
them, anonymously, used to place flowers in my wife’s corner 
every morning. 

But as an attempt at an entente it was a great failure. The 
British officer who was compelled to spend weeks with a car¬ 
load of Germans was not expansive and refused to be digested. 
Some of the Germans, too, became disagreeable. I saw a large 
German car — they were all Benz and Mercedes, generally 
70-80 horse-power — edge a little British car right off the 
road on to the grass track beside it. The driver of the British 
car was a pretty useful middle-weight boxer, but he kept his 
temper or there might have been trouble. There was very 
little love lost on either side, though I, as one of the few Ger- 


308 


Memories and Adventures 


man-speaking competitors, did my very best to bring about a 
more cordial atmosphere. But war was in tbe air. Both sides 
spoke of it. Several of tbe British officers were either of the 
Intelligence branch, or bad special German experience, and 
they were unanimous about it. My attempts towards peace 
were rejected. “ Tbe only thing I want to do with these people 
is to fight them,” said Colonel Holman. “ Same here,” said 
the officer with him. It was a deep antagonism on either side. 
They were not only sure of the war, hut of the date. “ It will 
he on the first pretext after the Kiel Canal is widened.” The 
Kiel Canal was finished in June, 1914, and war came in Au¬ 
gust, so that they were not far wrong. There was some little 
German chaff on the subject. “ Wouldn’t you like one of these 
little islands ? ” I heard a German say as we steamed out past 
Heligoland and the Frisian Belt. 

It was this experience which first made me take the threat 
of war seriously, hut I could have persuaded myself that I was 
misled, had it not been that I read soon afterwards Bernhardi’s 
hook “ Germany and the Hext War.” I studied it carefully 
and I put my impression of it into print in an article called 
“England and the Mext War,” which appeared in the “ Fort¬ 
nightly Review ” in the summer of 1913. It lies before me 
now, as I write, and it is interesting to see how, as I projected 
my mind and my imagination over the possibilities of the fu¬ 
ture, I read much aright and some little wrong. 

I began by epitomizing Bernhardi’s whole argument, and 
showing that, however we might disagree with it, we were 
hound to take it seriously, since he was undoubtedly a leader 
of a certain class of thought in his own country — that very 
military class which was now predominant. I demurred at 
his assumption that the German Army in equal numbers must 
overcome the French. “It is possible,” I remarked, “'that 
even so high an authority as General Bernhardi has not en¬ 
tirely appreciated how Germany has been the teacher of the 
world in military matters and how thoroughly her pupils have 
responded to that teaching. That attention to detail, perfec¬ 
tion of arrangement for mobilization, and careful preparation 
which have won German victories in the past may now he 
turned against her, and she may find that others can equal her 


The Eve of War 309 

in her own virtues.” I then examined Bernhardi’s alleged 
grievances against Great Britain, and showed how baseless 
they were, and how little they could hope to gain by victory. 
I quoted one poisonous sentence: “ Even English attempts at 
a rapprochement must not blind us to the real situation. We 
may at most use them to delay the necessary and inevitable war 
until we may fairly imagine that we have some prospect of 
success.” “ This last sentence,” I remarked, u must come 
home to some of us who have worked in the past for a better 
feeling between the two countries.” 

I then gave an epitome of Bernhardi’s plan of campaign as 
outlined in charming frankness in his volume, and I sketched 
out how far we were in a position to meet it and what were 
the joints in our armour. My general conclusions may be 
given as follows: — 

1. That invasion was not a serious danger and that the 
thought of it should not deflect our plans. 

2. That if invasion becomes impossible then any force like 
the Territorials unless it is prepared to go abroad becomes 
useless. 

3. That we should not have conscription save as a very last 
resource, since it is against the traditions of our people. 

4. That our real danger lay in the submarine and in the 
airship, which could not be affected by blockade. 

In discussing the submarine I said: “ What exact effect a 
swarm of submarines, lying off the mouth of the Channel and 
the Irish Sea, would produce upon the victualling of these 
islands is a problem which is beyond my conjecture. Other 
ships besides the British would be likely to be destroyed, and 
international complications would probably follow. I cannot 
imagine that such a fleet would entirely, or even to a very large 
extent, cut off our supplies. But it is certain that they would 
have the effect of considerably raising the price of whatever 
did reach us. Therefore, we should suffer privation, though 
not necessarily such privation as would compel its to make 
terms. Erom the beginning of the war every home source 
would naturally be encouraged, and it is possible that before 
our external supplies were seriously decreased, our internal 
ones might be well on the way to make up the deficiency.” 


310 Memories and Adventures 

This did, I think, roughly outline the actual course of 
events. 

5. That the submarines would affect military operations 
should we send a force to France or Belgium. 

6. That therefore the Channel Tunnel was a vital necessity. 

7. That all unnecessary expenses should he at once cut down, 
so that British credit should stand at its highest when the 
strain came. 

These are only the general conclusions. The article at¬ 
tracted some attention, hut I do not suppose that it had any 
actual influence upon the course of events. To reinforce it I 
wrote an imaginary episode called “ Danger ” in the “ Strand 
Magazine,” to show how even a small Power might possibly 
bring us to our knees by the submarine. It was singularly 
prophetic, for not only did it outline the actual situation as 
it finally developed, but it contained many details, the zig-zag¬ 
ging of the merchant ships, the use of submarine guns, the 
lying for the night on sandy bottoms, and so forth — exactly 
as they occurred. The article was sent round in proof to a 
number of high naval officers, mostly retired, for their opin¬ 
ions. I am afraid that the printed results, which I will not 
be so cruel as to quote, showed that it was as well they were 
retired, since they had no sense of the possibilities of the naval 
warfare of the future. 

One result of my “Fortnightly” article was that General 
Henry Wilson, late Chief of the Staff College as he then was, 
desired to see me to cross-question me, and a meeting was 
arranged at the house of Colonel Sackville-West, Major Swin- 
ton being also present. There, after luncheon, General Wilson 
machine-gunned me with questions for about an hour. He 
was fierce and explosive in his manner, and looked upon me, 
no doubt, as one of those pestilential laymen who insist upon 
talking of things they don’t understand. As I could give rea¬ 
sons for my beliefs, I refused to be squashed, and when the 
interview was over I went straight down to the Athemeum Club 
and wrote it all down from memory. It makes such curious 
reading that I give it exactly as I reported it that day, in 
dialogue, with one or two comments from Colonel Sackville- 
West. After saying with some asperity that I had made many 


311 


The Eve of War 

statements which I could not substantiate, and so might give 
the public far too optimistic a view of the position, he said: 
“ Why do you say that we would never pay an indemnity to 
Germany ? ” 

A. C. D. It is a matter of individual opinion. I go upon 
history and upon the spirit of our people. 

Gen. W. Had not France equal spirit in 1870? How i3 
it that they paid an indemnity ? 

A. C. D. Because Germany was sitting on top of them, 
and she had to pay to get from under. 

Gen. W. Why may she not sit on top of us ? 

A. C. D. Because we live on an island and she cannot oc¬ 
cupy us in the same way. 

Colonel S.-W. I believe a little pressure on London would 
cause us to pay an indemnity. 

A. C. D. The man who suggested it would get hanged. 

Colonel S.-W. They would hang the man who made the 
war. 

A. C. D. Ho, they would back him but hang the traitor. 

Gen. W. You say that they would gain nothing by war. 
What about the carrying trade of the world ? 

A. C. D. The carrying trade depends on economic ques¬ 
tions and upon geographical situation. For example, the Nor¬ 
wegians, who have no fleet, are one of the principal carriers. 

Gen. W. At least they could starve us out if they held the 
seas. 

A. C. D. Well, that is where my tunnel would come in; 
but of course I am entirely with you as to the need of holding 
the seas. 

Gen. W. Well, now, you admit that we must go to the help 
of Franee ? 

A. C. D. Certainly 

Gen. W. But what can six divisions do ? 

A. C. D. Well, my point is that six divisions with a tunnel 
are better than six divisions without a tunnel. 

Colonel S.-W. If we have a tunnel we must have a force 
worth sending to send through it. 

A. C. D. If you are going to couple the tunnel with com¬ 
pulsory service, you will get neither one nor the other. 


312 Memories and Adventures 

Gen. W. I think, so far <as submarines go, that the British 
patrols would make it a very desperate service. Some des¬ 
perate man might get his boat through. 

A. C. D. Some desperate man might command a flotilla 
and get it through. 

Gen. W. Many things seem possible theoretically which 
cannot he done in practice, but no doubt there is a danger 
there. In your view the Territorials are simply a support for 
the fighting Army? 

A. C. D. Yes. 

Gen. W. But they are too untrained to go into action. 

A. C. D. They would he reserves and have time to train. 

Gen. W. Your idea of troops coming hack in case of a raid 
through the tunnel is impossible. You could not withdraw 
troops in that way from their positions. 

A. C. D. Well, with all respect, I do not believe either in a 
raid or in an invasion. 

Gen. W. A war with Germany would be short and sharp — 
seven months would see it finished. 

A. C. D. You mean, no doubt, the continental part. I 
could imagine the naval part lasting ten years. 

Colonel S.-W. If your fleet was crushed, you would have 
to give in. 

A. C. D. A fleet can never be annihilated as an army is. 
There always remain scattered forces which can go on fight¬ 
ing. I don’t think we need give in because the fleet is 
crushed. 

Gen. W. You don’t suppose that the Englishman is a better 
soldier by nature than the Frenchman or the German? 

A. C. D. At least he is a volunteer. 

Gen. W. How would that affect the matter ? 

A. C. D. I think he would rally better if he were beaten. 
There would be no end to his resistance, like the North in the 
American War. 

Gen. W. Don’t you think, if war were declared with Ger¬ 
many, that the public, fearing an invasion, would clamour 
against any regular troops going abroad at all ? 

A. C. D. I think the public would leave it to the War 
Office. In the South African War they allowed our troops to 


The Eve of War 313 

go 6,000 miles away, and yet there was a danger of a Euro¬ 
pean coalition. 

Colonel S.-W. But our Navy was supreme then. 

A. C. D. Not against a coalition. 

Gen. W. When Cervera’s fleet got loose, the Americans 
would not allow their troops to embark. 

Colonel S.-W. Even the Pacific coast was terrified. 

A. C. D. Well, surely that is the reduct io ad absurdum. 

Colonel S.-W. Still, the fact remains. 

Gen. W. If we could send fifteen divisions we could stop 
a war. 

A. C. D. But that means compulsory service. 

Gen. W. Why not ? 

A. C. D. Because I am convinced that you could not get it. 
I have twice stood for Parliament, and I am sure no candidate 
would have a chance on such a platform. 

Gen. W. Our descendants will say, “ Well, you saw the 
danger, and yet you made no effort.” 

A. C. D. Well, we have doubled our estimates. Surely 
that is an effort and must represent power somewhere. 

We parted quite good friends, but the General’s evident de¬ 
sire to rope me in as a compulsory-service man was vain. I 
venture to think that Lord Roberts’ efforts in that direction 
were a great mistake, and that if he had devoted the same 
great energy to the line of least resistance, which was the Ter¬ 
ritorial force, we could have had half a million in the ranks 
when war broke out. 

From the time that I was convinced by my experiences at 
the Prince Henry race and by carefully reading German lit¬ 
erature that a war was really brewing, I naturally began to 
speculate as to the methods of attack and of defence. I have 
an occasional power of premonition, psychic rather than intel¬ 
lectual, which exercises itself beyond my own control, and 
which when it really comes is never mistaken. The danger 
seems to be that my own prejudice or reasonings may interfere 
with it. On this occasion I saw as clearly as possible what the 
course of a naval war between England and Germany would be. 
I had no doubt at all that our greatest danger — a desperately 
real one — was that they would use their submarines in order 


314 Memories and Adventures 

to sink our food skips, and that we might he starved into sub¬ 
mission. Even if we won every fleet action, this unseen enemy 
would surely bring us to our knees. It all worked out in exact 
detail in my mind — so much so that Admiral Capelle men¬ 
tioned my name afterwards in the Reichstag, and said that 
only I had accurately seen the economic form which the war 
would assume. This was perhaps true, so far as the economic 
side went, hut Sir Percy Scott had spoken with far more 
authority than I on the growing power of the submarines in 
warfare. 

I was made very uneasy by this line of thought, and all the 
more so because I asked several naval officers for some reassur¬ 
ance and could get none. One of them, I remember, said 
that it was all right because we should put a boom across the 
Channel, which seemed to me like saying that you could keep 
eels from going down a river by laying a plank across it. 
Among others I spoke to Captain Beatty, as he then was, whom 
I met at a week-end party at Knole, and though he could give 
me no reassurance about submarines he impressed me by his 
vivid and alert personality, and I felt that a 1STavy with such 
men in command was safe enough where fighting was con¬ 
cerned. It could not, however, fill the platter if there was no 
loaf to place upon it. I pondered the matter, and could only 
see three palliatives, and no cure. 

The first was to encourage home growth by a bonus or by a 
tariff. But here our accursed party politics barred the way, 
as I had learned only too clearly after spending a thousand 
pounds in fighting the Hawick Burghs in order to get some 
form of agricultural protection. 

The second was to meet submarines by submarine food- 
carriers. I think that this may prove the final solution, but 
the ships were not yet planned, far less launched. 

The third and most obvious was the Channel Tunnel, or 
tunnels for preference. I had supported this scheme for years, 
and felt that as a nation we had made fools of ourselves over 
it, exactly as we did over the Suez Canal. If we were an 
island the size of the Wight such timidity would be intelligible, 
but the idea of a great country being invaded through a hole 
in the ground twenty-seven miles long seemed to me the most 


315 


The Eve of War 

fantastic possible, while the practical use of the tunnel both 
for trade and for tourists was obvious. But now I saw that far 
more serious issues were at stake, for if we were held up by 
submarines, and if France was either neutral or our ally, we 
could land all the Eastern portion of our supplies, which is not 
inconsiderable, at Marseilles and so run them safely to Lon¬ 
don without breaking bulk. When I put this forward in the 
press some military critic said: “ But if the submarines could 
hold up the Channel they could hold up the Mediterranean 
also.” This did not seem a good argument, because Germany 
was the possible enemy and it had no port in the Mediterranean, 
while the radius of submarine action at that time was not great 
enough to allow them to come so far. So strongly did I feel 
about the need for a Channel Tunnel in view of the coming 
war that I remember writing three memoranda and sending 
one to the Army, one to the Navy, and one to the Council 
of Imperial Defence. Of course I got no satisfaction of any 
kind, but Captain — now General — Swinton, who was acting 
as secretary to the latter body, told me that he had read my 
paper and that it had “ set him furiously thinking.” I wrote 
to Lord Northcliffe also, without avail. I felt as if, like Solo¬ 
mon Eagle, I could go through London with a burning brazier 
on my head, if I could only get people to understand the need 
of the tunnel. The whole discussion had taken the utterly im¬ 
possible and useless turn towards compulsory service, and the 
things which were practical and vital were being missed. 

I spoke in public about the tunnel when I could, and on one 
occasion, just a year before the war, I raised a discussion in 
“ The Times,” Mr. Ronald McNeill giving me an opening 
by declaring in the House that the project was a crazy one. 
There was also about that time a meeting in the City at the 
Cannon Street Hotel, where a very influential body of men 
supported the scheme. My speech, as reported next day in 
“ The Times ” in a very condensed form, ran thus: 

“ Sir A. Conan Doyle said there were possibilities in a future 
war that rendered it a matter of vital national importance that 
the tunnel should be constructed without delay. The danger 
was that we were getting five-sixths of our food supplies from 
abroad, and submarine craft were developing remarkable quali- 


316 Memories and Adventures 

ties which were not generally srealized. They were able to avoid 
a blockade squadron, and to pass under a patrol line of torpedo- 
boats without their existence being even suspected. If they 
were sent to the line of our commerce and told to sink a ship, 
they would torpedo that ship for a certainty. What would be 
the condition of our food supplies if there were twenty-five 
hostile submarines off the Kent coast and twenty-five in the 
Irish Channel ? The price of food would reach an almost pro¬ 
hibitive figure. The Military Correspondent of 1 The Times ’ 
was a great opponent of the Channel Tunnel and was always 
running it down and mocking at it. But the other day he wrote 
an article on the Mediterranean, and, forgetting the Channel 
Tunnel, he said: 1 We must remember that more than half the 
food supply of this country now comes from the Mediterra¬ 
nean.’ If it came through the Mediterranean, and if it got to 
Marseilles and we had the Channel Tunnel, it was only a mat¬ 
ter of management to get it through to London.” 

The Military Correspondent of “ The Times,” who was pre¬ 
sumably Colonel Bepington, had an article next day deriding 
the scheme, and making light of my picture of submarines in 
the Channel. Well, we have lived to see them, and I wish my 
argument had proved less sound. Colonel Repington has 
proved himself so clear-sighted an observer and commentator 
in the last war that he can be forgiven if, for once, he was on 
the wrong side; but if the Channel Tunnel had been put in 
hand at once after that meeting and rushed to completion, I 
wonder if it would be an exaggeration to say that a hundred 
million pounds would have been saved, while what it would 
have meant in evacuating wounded and in communications in 
stormy weather could not be represented in words. Imagine 
the convenience and saving of time and labour when munitions 
could be started at Woolwich and landed at Amiens without 
a break. 

It has been argued that if the tunnel had been built the first 
swoop of the Germans would have brought them to the end of 
it and it would have been destroyed. But this will not bear 
examination, for it is based on the idea that we should have 
left the end unprotected. It would as a matter of fact have 
been the most natural fortress in the world, the strongest and 


317 


The Eve of War 

the strangest, for it would be the only fortress where you could 
increase or*withdraw your garrison at will, and introduce any 
supplies at any time you might desire. A very few forts and 
trenches on those convenient chalk slopes with their wide, 
smooth fields of fire, would hold the tunnel. In stretching their 
right wing as far as Amiens the Germans were very nearly 
cut off, and it was by a very great effort that Von Kluck saved 
it. If instead of Amiens he had reached Calais with sufficient 
forces for a siege he would have been unable to get away. An 
argument based upon the supposition that we should leave the 
mouth of the tunnel in Picardy as unprotected as the mouth of 
a coal mine in Kent is surely an unsound one. Now, in 1924, 
they are talking of building the tunnel. I wonder what our de¬ 
scendants will think of the whole business — probably what 
we think of the men who opposed the Suez Canal. 

It is a most singular thing that our Navy, with so many 
practical and clever men in it, with a genius like Winston 
Churchill at the head, and another genius like Lord Fisher 
in continual touch, did not realize, until faced with actual re¬ 
sults, some of the most important and surely most obvious 
points in connection with naval warfare. It came, I suppose, 
from the iron bonds of tradition, and that there were so many 
things to supervise, but the fact remains that a perfectly over¬ 
whelming ease could be made out against the higher brain de¬ 
partment of our senior service. A war with Germany was 
anticipated, and, as the public imagined, was prepared for, 
but save for the ship-building programme, which left us a nar¬ 
row margin of safety, and for the concentration of our distant 
squadrons into British waters and the elimination of many 
useless craft which consumed good crews, what evidence is 
there of foresight ? It was known, for example, that Scapa 
Flow and Cromarty were the two possible anchorages of the 
Fleet in a long-distance blockade, and yet no attempt had been 
made to mount guns or to net the entrances, so that for months 
there was a possibility of a shattering disaster; and Jellicoe, 
with the prudence which always distinguished him, had to put 
to sea every night lest his fleet should present a sitter to a tor¬ 
pedo attack. We showed intelligence in sticking always to 
the heavier guns, but our mines were wretchedly inefficient, 


318 Memories and Adventures 

our range-finders were very inferior, and our shells proved 
to have less penetrating and explosive force. 

But the worst thing of all was the utter want of imagina¬ 
tion shown in picturing the conditions of modern naval war¬ 
fare, which must surely be done before just preparation can 
he made. It was clear that the effect of armour protection 
on one side, and of the mine and the torpedo on the other, 
would mean that if the ship floated there would he little loss 
of life, hut that she was very likely to sink, in which case 
the whole crew would go. Therefore provision must he made 
for the saving of every one on hoard. The authorities, how¬ 
ever, seem to have completely underrated the dangers of the 
mine and torpedo, and centred their attention upon the sur¬ 
face naval action, where boats, being inflammable, would he 
a danger and where in any case they would probably he shot to 
pieces before the end of the fight. The pre-war idea was to 
throw the boats and every other wooden object overboard be¬ 
fore the action began. 

The very first day of naval warfare showed the importance 
of the mine, as on August 5 the Germans laid a minefield out¬ 
side the mouth of the Thames which nearly blew up their own 
returning Ambassador, Prince Lichnowsky, and did actually 
cause the destruction of one of our light vessels, the Amphion. 
It was clear that one of the great dangers of the sea lay in this 
direction, and it soon became equally clear that nothing had 
been done to think out some defence. Poresight would have 
anticipated this situation and would have set the brains of 
the younger naval officers at work devising some remedy. As 
a matter of fact the real solution had been roughly indicated 
by Colonel Repington in “ Blackwood’s Magazine ” some four 
years before, in which he spoke of a device called “ the otter ” 
used by poachers for gathering up lines, and suggested that 
something of the sort would gather up the lines to which mines 
are attached. After three years of war, and very many pre¬ 
ventable losses, including the great battleship Audacious, the 
splendid auxiliary cruiser Laurentic with six millions in gold 
on board, and many other fine vessels, the cure was found in 
the paravane, which was an adaptation of “ the otter.” After 
its adoption ships could cruise over a minefield with little fear 


The Eve of War 319 

of injury, and our squadrons were no longer confined to the 
narrow lanes which had been swept clear. 

I was from the beginning greatly impressed by this danger, 
and I wrote early in the war both to the papers and the Ad¬ 
miralty, but my device was crude and clumsy compared to 
■what was actually done. My idea was something like a huge 
trident or toasting fork which could be hauled up on the bows 
when the waters were safe, but could be pushed forward and 
dipped down in front when there was danger, so as to explode 
any mine before the ship could actually reach it. Such an 
apparatus would be better than nothing, but still I quite admit 
that it was an inadequate solution of the problem. But at least 
it was an attempt — and no other attempt was visible for years 
afterwards. 

But the particular instance of mines was a small considera¬ 
tion beside the huge permanent incredible fact that while it 
was dear that a battleship could suddenly go down like a kettle 
with a hole in it, dragging a thousand men down with it, there 
was no provision by which the lives of these men could be saved. 
It was really unbelievable until there came the terrible example 
when the three cruisers, Hogue, Aboukir , and Cressy, were all 
put down in a single day. A young German lieutenant with 
twenty men had caused us more loss than we suffered at Traf¬ 
algar. To learn how the helpless men had nowhere to turn, 
and how they clung on to floating petrol tins as their only 
safety, should have been terrible reading to those whose want 
of foresight had brought about such a situation. It was a 
dreadful object-lesson, and there seemed no reason why it 
should not be often repeated. I had already commented in 
the press upon the situation which would arise in a general 
action, with ships sinking all round and no boats. I suggested 
that it might be possible to drop the boats before battle and to 
have them in tow of a steam launch which could bring them up 
if needed. Of course I saw all the difficulties and dangers of 
such a course, but if one took the word of the sailors that the 
boats were a danger on board then I could think of no other 
way of working it. When I wrote about it, several naval 
critics, notably Commander Jane, rapped me hard over the 
knuckles, and deplored the intrusion of landsmen into matters 


320 Memories and Adventures 

of which they knew nothing.' But when this great catastrophe 
occurred, I realized that the protection must be individual 
rather than collective, and that one must ventilate the thing in 
public with such warmth that the authorities would be com¬ 
pelled to do something. If wooden boats were impossible, what 
about India-rubber collars which would at least hold the poor 
fellows above the waves until some help could reach them ? I 
opened an agitation in several papers, notably the “ Daily 
Mail ” and the “ Daily Chronicle,” and within a very few days 
— either post hoc or propter hoc — there was a rush order 
for a quarter of a million collars which could be blown out 
by the men themselves, and which were henceforth to be part 
of their vital equipment. The “ Hampshire Telegraph,” the 
best informed of naval papers, said: 

“ The Navy has to thank Sir Conan Doyle for the new life¬ 
saving apparatus the Admiralty are supplying. Some weeks 
ago he asked if it was not possible to manufacture a simple and 
easily inflatable life-belt, and, thanks to the enterprise of a 
rubber-manufacturing firm, a swimming collar is now being 
supplied to the men of the fleet in the North Sea as fast as 
they can be turned out. The apparatus is exceedingly simple. 
It is made of rubber, enclosed in a stout web casing, and weighs 
complete under three ounces. It can be carried in the pocket 
and can be inflated in position round a man’s neck in about 
ten seconds. Its effect is to keep the man’s head above water 
indefinitely. There is little doubt that this swimming collar 
will result in the saving of many lives, and the Admiralty are 
to be congratulated upon the promptitude with which they have 
adopted the suggestion of Sir Conan Doyle.” 

I was by no means satisfied with this, however; for, how¬ 
ever useful in calm water on a summer day, it was clear that 
men would soon perish by exhaustion in a rough winter sea, 
and the collars would only prolong their agony. If wooden 
boats took up too much room and were inflammable, how about 
India-rubber collapsible boats ? I wrote in the “ Daily Mail ”: 

“ We can spare and replace the ships. We cannot spare the 
men. They must be saved, and this is how to save them. 
There is nothing so urgent as this. We can view all future 
disasters with equanimity if the ship’s company has only a 


321 


The Eve of War 

fair cliance for its life.” Of course one recognized that there 
were some situations where nothing would avail. The For¬ 
midable , which was torpedoed near Plymouth on January 1, 
1915, was a case in point. Captain Miller, of the Brixham 
trawler which rescued seventy men, said to the “ Daily Mail ” 
representative that I was doing a national work in my efforts 
to get better life-saving appliances for the men of the Navy. 
He remarked that in calm weather collapsible boats would 
be of use, but they could not possibly have lived in the seas 
which were breaking over the Formidable’s whaler. The 
weather here was exceptional, and one cannot hope to provide 
for every case. 

The final result of the agitation was the provision of collars, 
of safety waistcoats, and (as I believe) of a better supply of 
boats. I need hardly say that I never received a word of 
acknowledgment or thanks from the Admiralty. One is not 
likely to be thanked by a Government department for supple¬ 
menting its work. But it may be that some poor seaman 
struggling in the water sent me his good wish, and those are 
the thanks that I desired. There was nothing in the war which 
moved me more than the thought of the helpless plight of these 
gallant men who were sacrificed when they could so easily have 
been saved. 

Like every man with Irish blood in his veins, I was deeply 
moved by the tragedy of Ireland during the war — her fine 
start, the want of tact with which it was met, her sad relapse, 
and finally her failure to rise to the great world crisis. 

A letter which I value very much is one which I received 
from Major William Redmond just before his lamented death. 
What an abyss of evil Ireland would have been saved from 
had the spirit of this letter been the inspiration upon which she 
acted! 


18.12.16. 

Dear Sir Arthur Conah Doyle,— 

It was very good of you to write to me and 1 value very 
much the expression of your opinion. There are a great many 
Irishmen to-day who feel that out of this War we should try 
and build up a new Ireland. The trouble is men are so timid 


322 


Memories and Adventures 


about meeting each other half-way. It would be a fine memo¬ 
rial to the men who have died so splendidly, if we could over 
their graves build up a bridge between the North and South. 
I have been thinking a lot about this lately in Franee — no one 
could help doing so when one finds that the two sections from 
Ireland are actually side by side holding the trenches! No 
words — not even your own — could do justice to the splendid 
action of the new Irish soldiers. They never have flinched. 
They never give trouble, and they are steady and sober. Had 
poor Kettle lived he would have given the world a wonderful 
account of things out there. I saw a good deal of Kettle, and 
we had many talks of the Unity we both hoped would come 
out of the War. I have been an extreme Nationalist all my 
life, and if others as extreme, perhaps, on the other side will 
only come half-way, then I believe, impossible as it may seem, 
we should be able to hit upon a plan to satisfy the Irish senti¬ 
ment and the Imperial sentiment at one and the same time. I 
am sure you can do very much, as you already have done, in 
this direction. I am going back for Christmas with the men 
I have become attached very deeply to during the last two 
years. 

With many thanks for your letter, 

Yours very truly, 

William Redmond. 

Major. 

If this letter, even now, were posted up by the Free State 
and Northern Governments at every cross-roads of Ireland 
the spirit of Willie Kedmond might heal the wounds of the 
unhappy country. 


CHAPTER XXVII 


A REMEMBRANCE OE THE DARK TEARS 

Nightmares of the Morning—The Civilian Reserve — The Volunteers — 
Domestic Life in War Time — German Prisoners — Cipher to our Pris¬ 
oners— Sir John French — Empress Eugenie — Miracle Town — Ar¬ 
mour — Our Tragedy. 

I CAN never forget, and our descendants can never imagine, 
the strange effect upon the mind which was produced by 
seeing the whole European fabric drifting to the edge of the 
chasm with absolute uncertainty as to what would happen 
when it toppled over. Military surprises, starvation, revolu¬ 
tion, bankruptcy — no one knew what so unprecedented an 
episode would produce. It was all so evidently preventable, 
and yet it was so madly impossible to prevent it, for the Prus¬ 
sians had stuck their monkey-wrench into the machinery and 
it would no longer work. As a rule one has wild dreams and 
wakes to sanity, but on those mornings I left sanity when I 
woke and found myself in a world of nightmare dreams. 

On August 4, when war seemed assured, I had a note from 
Mr. Goldsmith, a plumber in the village: “ There is a feeling 
in Crowborough that something should be done.” This made 
me laugh at first, but presently I thought more seriously of it. 
After all, Crowborough was one of a thousand villages, and 
we might be planning and acting for all. Therefore I had 
notices rapidly printed. I distributed them and put them at 
road corners, and the same evening (August 4) we held a vil¬ 
lage meeting and started the Volunteers, a force which soon 
grew to 200,000 men. 

The old Volunteers had become extinct when the Territorials 
had been organized some ten or twelve years before. But this 
new force which I conceived was to be a universal one, where 
every citizen, young and old, should be trained to arms — a 
great stockpot into which the nation could dip and draw its 
needs. We named ourselves the Civilian Reserve. No one, I 


324 Memories and Adventures 

reflected, could be tbe worsean such days for being able to drill 
and to sboot, or for being assembled in organized units. Gov¬ 
ernment was too preoccupied to do anything, and we must show 
initiative for ourselves. After I had propounded my scheme, 
I signed the roll myself, and 120 men did the same. Those 
were the first men in the Volunteer Force. Next evening we 
assembled at the drill-hall, found out who could drill us, chose 
our non-commissioned officers and set to work to form our¬ 
selves into an efficient company. Gillette, my American actor 
friend, had got stranded in England, and he was an interested 
spectator on this occasion. For the time being I took com¬ 
mand. 

I had notified the War Office what we had done and asked 
for official sanction. We were careful not to stand in the way 
of recruiting and determined to admit none who could reason¬ 
ably join up at once. When the plan began to work I wrote 
a description of our methods to “ The Times.” As a conse¬ 
quence I received requests for our rules and methods from 
1,200 towns and villages. My secretary and I worked all day 
getting these off, and in many cases the inquiries led to the 
formation of similar companies. 

For about a fortnight all went well. We drilled every day, 
though we had no weapons. At the end of that time there came 
a peremptory order from the War Office: “All unauthorized 
bodies to be at once disbanded.” Unquestioning and cheerful 
obedience is the first law in time of war. The company was on 
parade. I read out the telegram and then said: “ Right turn I 
Dismiss! ” With this laconic order the Civilian Reserve dis¬ 
solved for ever. 

But it had a speedy and glorious resurrection. There was 
a central body in London with some remote connection with 
the old Volunteer Force. Lord Desborough was chairman of 
this, and there could not have been a better man. The Govern¬ 
ment put the formation of a Volunteer Force into the charge 
of this committee, to which I was elected. Mr. Percy Harris 
was the secretary and showed great energy. I wrote to all the 
1,200 applicants referring them to this new centre, and we, 
the Crowborough body, now became the Crowborough Com¬ 
pany of the Sixth Royal Sussex Volunteer Regiment. That 


A Remembrance of the Dark Years 325 

/• 

we were the first company in the country was shown by the 
“ Volunteer Gazette ” when a prize was awarded for this dis¬ 
tinction. Under its new shape Captain St. Quintin, who had 
been a soldier, became our leader, and Mr. Gresson and Mr. 
Druce, both of them famous cricketers, our lieutenants. Gold¬ 
smith was one of the sergeants, and I remained a full private 
for four years of war, and an extra half-year before we were 
demobilized. Our ranks fluctuated, for as the age limit of 
service gradually rose we passed many men into the regular 
Army, but we filled up with new recruits, and we were always 
about a hundred strong. Our drill and discipline were excel¬ 
lent, and when we received our rifles and bayonets we soon 
learned to use them, nor were our marching powers contempti¬ 
ble when one remembers that many of the men were in the 
fifties and even in the sixties. It was quite usual for us to 
march from Crowborough to Brant, with our rifles and equip¬ 
ment, to drill for a long hour in a heavy marshy field, and then 
to march back, singing all the way. It would be a good four¬ 
teen miles, apart from the drill. 

I have very pleasant recollections of that long period of 
service. I learned to know my neighbours who stood in the 
same ranks, and I hope that they also learned to know me as 
they could not otherwise. We had frequent camps, field days 
and inspections. On one occasion 8,000 of us were assembled, 
and I am bound to say that I have never seen a finer body of 
men, though they were rather of the police-constable than of 
the purely military type. The spirit was excellent, and I am 
sure that if we had had our chance we should have done well 
in action. But it was hard to know how to get the chance save 
in case of invasion. We were the remaining pivots of national 
life, and could only be spared for short periods or chaos would 
follow. But a week or two in case of invasion was well within 
our powers, and such a chance would have been eagerly hailed. 
No doubt our presence enabled the Government to strip the 
country of regular troops far more than they would have dared 
otherwise to do. Twice, as Repington’s “ Memoirs ” show, 
there was a question of embodying us for active service, but in 
each case the emergency passed. 

I found the life of a private soldier a delightful one. To 


326 Memories and Adventures 

be led and not to lead was'most restful, and so long as one’s 
thoughts were hounded by the polishing of one’s buttons and 
buckles, or the cleansing of one’s rifle, one was quietly happy. 
In that long period I shared every phase of my companions’ 
life. I have stood in the queue with my pannikin to get a 
welcome drink of beer, and I have slept in a bell-tent on a 
summer night with a Sussex yokel blissfully snoring upon each 
of my shoulders. Sometimes amusing situations arose. I re¬ 
member a new adjutant arriving and reviewing us. When he 
got opposite to me in his inspection, his eyes were caught by 
my South African medal. “ You have seen service, my man,” 
said he. “ Yes, sir,” I answered. He was a little cocky fel¬ 
low who might well have been my son so far as age went. 
When he had passed down the line, he said to our C.O., St. 
Quintin: “ Who is that big fellow on the right of the rear 
rank?” “That’s Sherlock Holmes,” said C.O. “Good 
Lord! ” said the adjutant, “ I hope he does not mind my 1 My 
manning ’ him! ” “ He just loves it,” said St. Quintin, which 
showed that he knew me. 

The other big factor which covered the whole period of the 
war, and some time after it, was my writing the History of 
the European campaign, which I published volume by volume 
under the name of “The British Campaign in France and 
Flanders.” My information was particularly good, for I had 
organized a very extensive correspondence with the generals, 
who were by no means anxious for self-advertisement, but 
were, on the other hand, very keen that the deeds of their par¬ 
ticular troops should have full justice done them. In this way 
I was able to be the first to describe in print the full battle-line 
with all the divisions, and even brigades in their correct places 
from Mons onwards to the last fight before the Armistice. 
When I think what a fuss was made in the old days when any 
Correspondent got the account of a single Colonial battle be¬ 
fore his comrades, it is amazing to me that hardly a single 
paper ever commented, in reviewing these six successive vol¬ 
umes, upon the fact that I was really the only public source 
of supply of accurate and detailed information. I can only 
suppose that they could not believe it to be true. I had no 
help but only hindrance from the War Office, and everything I 


A Remembrance of the Dark Years 327 

got was by means which were equally open to anyone else who 
took the trouble to organize them. Of course, I was bowdlerized 
and blue-pencilled by censors, but still the fact remains that a 
dozen great battle-lines were first charted by me. I have since 
read the official account so far as it has gone, and find little 
to change in my own, though the German and French records 
are now available to broaden the picture. For the moment 
war literature is out of fashion, and my war history, which re¬ 
flects all the passion and pain of those hard days, has never 
come into its own. I would reckon it the greatest and most 
undeserved literary disappointment of my life if I did not 
know that the end is not yet and that it may mirror those 
great times to those who are to come. 

For the rest I had a great deal of literary propaganda work 
to do. Once it was the “ To Arms! ” pamphlet written in con¬ 
junction wu'th Mr. Smith, soon to become Lord Birkenhead. 
Once again it was an appeal for our ill-used prisoners. Some¬ 
times Norway, sometimes South America, always the United 
States, needed treatment. As to my special missions, those I 
treat in separate chapters. 

There are many small but very important details of domestic 
life during the war which have never been properly described, 
and could indeed best be described by a woman, for they were 
usually an invasion of her department. Our descendants will 
never realize how we were all registered and docketed and ra¬ 
tioned, so that the State could give the least to and take the 
most from each of us. One had food-cards for practically 
everything, and the card only entitled you to get your meagre 
portion if it was to be had. Often it wasn’t. I have been at 
a great lunch with half the grandees of the land, and the Prime 
Minister to speak. The fare was Irish stew and rice-pudding. 

What could man ask for more, but it will need another war 
to bring it round again. There was a pleasing uncertainty 
about all meals. There was always a sense of adventure and 
a wonder whether you would really get something. It all 
made for appetite. Then there were the darkened windows, 
the sharp knocking of the police if the blind emitted any light, 
the vexatious summons for very small offences, the pulling 
down of every blind on the railway trains. At night one never 


328 


Memories and Adventures 


knew what evil bird was flying overhead or what foul egg 
would he dropped. Once, as we sat in the theatre at East¬ 
bourne, the whirr of a Zeppelin was heard above us. Half the 
audience slipped out, the lights were put out, and the play 
was finished with candles on the stage. When I was lecturing 
in London the same thing happened, and I finished my lecture 
in the dark. 

Every one found themselves doing strange things. I was 
not only a private in the Volunteers, hut I was a signaller and 
I was for a time number one of a machine gun. My wife 
started a home for Belgian refugees in Crowborough. My son 
was a soldier, first, last, and all the time. My daughter Mary 
gave herself up altogether to public work, making shells at 
Vickers and afterwards serving in a canteen. If I may quote 
a passage from my history: “ Grotesque combinations resulted 
from the eagerness of all classes to lend a hand. An observer 
has described how a peer and a prize-fighter worked on the 
same bench at Woolwich, while titled ladies and young girls 
from cultured homes earned sixteen shillings a week at Erith 
and boasted in the morning of the number of shell-cases which 
they had turned, and finished in their hours of night-shift. 
Truly it had become a national war. Of all its memories none 
will be stranger than those of the peaceful middle-aged civilians 
who were seen eagerly reading books of elementary drill in 
order to prepare themselves to meet the most famous soldiers 
in Europe, or of the schoolgirls and matrons who donned blue 
blouses and by their united work surpassed the output of the 
great death factories of Essen.” 

Every house had its vegetable garden and every poor man 
his allotment, that we might at the worst exist until we could 
win our peace. The want of sugar and the limitation of tea 
were the worst privations. My wife, greatly helped by a 
faithful servant, Jakeman, did wonders in saving food, and 
we always lived well within our legal rations. This did not 
save us once from a police raid, because some tea, sent us 
as a present from India, had arrived. We had already dis¬ 
tributed a good deal of it, however, to our less fortunate neigh¬ 
bours, so we came well out of the matter. 

I have one singular memory in having to guard German 


A Remembrance of the Dark Years 329 

prisoners at work. The Volunteers had a turn at this work, 
and we spent the night at Lewes Prison. In the early morning, 
dark and misty, we were mustered, and five prisoners handed 
over to each of us. Mine worked on a farm some four miles 
from the town, and thither I had to march them, walking behind 
them with my rifle on my shoulder. When I had reached the 
lonely country road, I thought I would get into human touch 
with these poor slouching wretches, who were still in their 
stained grey uniforms, and wearing their service caps with 
the bright red bands which formed a wonderful advertisement 
of the excellence of German dyes. I halted them, drew them 
up, and asked them their nationality. Three were from Wur- 
temburg and two from Prussia. I asked the Wurtemburgers 
how long they had been prisoners. They said, “ Fourteen 
months.” “ Then,” said I, “ you were taken by the Canadians 
at Ypres upon such and such a date.” They were consider¬ 
ably astonished, since I was simply a second-line Tommy from 
their point of view. Of course, I had the details of the war 
very clearly in my mind, and I knew that our one big haul 
of Wurtemburgers had been on that occasion. To this day 
they must wonder how I knew. I shall not forget that day, 
for I stood for eight hours leaning on a rifle, amid drizzling 
rain, while in a little gap of the mist I watched those men 
loading carts with manure. I can answer for it that they were 
excellent workers, and they seemed civil, tractable fellows as 
well. 

It was in 1915 that I managed to establish a secret cor¬ 
respondence with the British prisoners at Magdeburg. It was 
not very difficult to do, and I dare say others managed it as 
well as I, but it had the effect of cheering them by a little 
authentic news, for at that time they were only permitted to 
see German newspapers. It came about in this way. A dear 
friend of my wife’s, Miss Lily Loder Symonds, had a brother, 
Captain Willie Loder Symonds, of the Wiltshires, who had 
been wounded and taken in the stand of the 7th Brigade on 
the evening before Le Cateau. He was an ingenious fellow 
and had written home a letter which passed the German censor, 
because it seemed to consist in the description of a farm, but 
when read carefully it was clear that it was the conditions 


330 Memories and Adventures 

of himself and his comrades which he was discussing. It 
seemed to me that if a man used such an artifice he would be 
prepared for a similar one in a letter from home. I took one 
of my books, therefore, and beginning with the third chapter 
— I guessed the censor would examine the first — I put little 
needle-pricks under the various printed letters until I had 
spelled out all the news. I then sent the book and also a letter. 
In the letter I said that the book was, I feared, rather slow 
in the opening, but that from Chapter III onwards he might 
find it more interesting. That was as plain as I dared to make 
it. Loder Symonds missed the allusion altogether, but by 
good luck he showed the letter to Captain the Hon. Rupert 
Keppel, of the Guards, who had been taken at Landrecies. 
He smelled a rat, borrowed the book, and found my cipher. 
A message came back to his father, Lord Albemarle, to the 
effect that he hoped Conan Doyle would send some more books. 
This was sent on to me, and of course showed me that it was 
all right. From that time onwards every month or two I 
pricked off my bulletin, and a long job it was. Finally, I 
learned that the British papers were allowed for the prisoners, 
so that my budget was superfluous. However, for a year or 
two I think it was some solace to them, for I always made it 
as optimistic as truth would allow — or perhaps a little more 
so, just to get the average right. 

I had some dealings with General French, but only one 
interview with him. Ho one can help feeling a deep respect 
for the soldier who relieved Kimberley and headed off Cronje, 
or for the man who bore the first hard thrust of the German 
spear. 

My only interview with the General was at the Horse 
Guards, when he talked very clearly about the military position, 
though most of what he said as to the changes which modern 
tactics and heavy guns had caused was rather self-evident. 
“ Your problem always is how to pass the wire and the machine 
guns. There is no way round. What is the good of talking 
of invading Austria from the south? You will find the same 
wire and the same machine guns. We may as well face it in 
Flanders as anywhere else.” This talk was shortly after Loos, 
when he had returned from the Army and was at the head of 


A Remembrance of the Dark Years 331 

Home Defence. “ If you want any point looked up for your 
history, mind you let me know and I will see that it is done.” 
This sounded very nice to me, who was in a perpetual state 
of wanting to know; but as a matter of fact I took it as a mere 
empty phrase, and so it proved when a week or two later I 
put it to the test. It was a simple question, but I never got 
any clear answer. 

One pleasing incident occurred in 1917, when a Hull steam 
trawler which had been named after me, under the able han¬ 
dling of Skipper Addy and Lieutenant McCabe of the Naval 
Reserve, had an action with a heavily armed modern subma¬ 
rine, the fight lasting for some hours. The Conan Doyle was 
acting as flagship of a little group of trawlers, and though their 
guns were popguns compared with that of the German, they 
so peppered him that he was either sunk or took flight — any¬ 
how, he vanished under the water. The little boat sent me its 
ship’s bell as a souvenir of the exploit, and I sent some small 
remembrances in exchange. It was a fine exploit, and I was 
proud to be connected with it, even in so remote a way. 

I have in my war chapters expressed my admiration for 
General Haig. On one occasion I called upon Lady Haig, 
when she was administering some private hospital at Farn- 
borough. It was, so far as I could understand, one wing of 
the Empress Eugenie’s house, and the Empress invited me 
to lunch. There were present also Prince Victor Napoleon and 
his wife, who was, I think, a daughter of my old aversion, 
Leopold, King of the Belgians and Overlord of the Congo. 
The Empress interested me deeply — a historical relic whom 
one would expect to study in old pictures and memoirs, yet 
there she was moving and talking before me. If Helen 
launched a thousand ships, Eugenie, by all accounts, did far 
more. Indeed, if the first German War was really fsom her 
inspiration, as Zola insists, she was at the root of all modem 
history. In spite of her great age, her face and figure preserved 
the lines of elegance and breed, the features clearly cut, the 
head set proudly upon the long neck. I glanced into her sitting- 
room as I passed the open door and noticed that she was en¬ 
gaged upon an enormous jig-saw puzzle, a thousand pieces if 
there were one. Children’s toys engaged the mind which once 


332 


Memories and Adventures 


played with Empires. There is surely something fatal in that 
Spanish blood with its narrow fanatical religion and its mas¬ 
terful intolerance, magnificent hut mediaeval like the Church 
which inspires it. 

She talked very freely with me and in the most interesting 
manner. It was surprising to see how fresh her mind was, 
and what curious information she had at her command. She 
told me, for example, that tetanus in Erance depended very 
much upon what soil had got into the wound, while that in 
turn depended upon what manures had been used for the soil 
— thus the percentage of tetanus cases would be quite different 
in a vine-growing district and in one where ordinary crops 
were cultivated. She spoke seriously about the war, but was 
confident as to the ultimate result. This graceful, withered 
flower in its strange setting was one of the outstanding memo¬ 
ries of those days. 

All sorts of queer odd jobs came to me as to many others 
in the war. I was, of course, prepared always to do absolutely 
anything which was suggested, though the suggestions were 
sometimes not very reasonable. One must not argue, but sim¬ 
ply put one’s whole weight, for what it is worth, into the scrum. 
Once I was directed to go up to Scotland and write up the 
great new munition works at Gretna, as the public needed 
reassurance upon the point. Pearson, the younger brother of 
Lord Cowdray, had built them, and they certainly deserved 
the name of “ Miracle Town,” which I gave them in my article. 
The great difficulty always was to give our own people what 
they wanted and yet not to give the Germans that which they 
wanted also. Winston Churchill’s remarkable memoirs — the 
best, in my opinion, of all the war books — have shown how 
heavily this pressed in high quarters. His volume is certainly 
a wonderful vindication of his term of office, and it was a loss 
to the country when he left it. 

Churchill was very open to ideas and sympathetic to those 
who were trying for some ideal. I had pondered much over 
armour for the troops, and he commented on it in an inspiring 
letter, in which he said that the bullet-proof man and the tor¬ 
pedo-proof ship were our two great objects. I worked a good 
deal upon the question of shields, and wrote several articles 


A Remembrance of the Dark Years 333 

about it in “ The Times ” and other papers, but the forces 
against us were strong. When I saw Mr. Montague on the 
subject at the Ministry of Munitions, he said: “Sir Arthur, 
there is no use your arguing here, for there is no one in the 
building who does not know that you are right. The whole 
difficulty lies in making the soldiers accept your views.” 

One has, of course, to be reasonable on the point, and to 
admit that there is a limit to what a man can carry, and that 
greater weight means slower movement, and therefore longer 
exposure. That is fully granted. But when the helmet in 
actual practice was found so useful, why should it not be sup¬ 
plemented by steel shoulder-guards, since the helmet might 
actually guide the bullets down on to the shoulders ? And why 
not a plastron over the heart ? The vital points in a man’s 
anatomy are not really so numerous. If many a life was saved 
by a buckle or a cigarette-case, why should such protection not 
be systematized ? And why in trench warfare should not 
strong breastplates be kept for the temporary use of any troops 
in the front line ? I experimented with my own service rifle 
upon steel plates, and I was surprised to find how easy it was 
at twenty paces to turn a bullet. I am convinced that very 
many lives would have been saved had my views been adopted, 
and that the men in the hour of danger would have been only 
too glad to carry that part of their equipment. 

The Tank, however, was a device which carried the armour 
and the men also, so that it was an extension of these ideas. 
We can never be grateful enough to the men who thought out 
the Tank, for I have no doubt at all that this product of British 
brains and British labour won the war, which would otherwise 
have ended in a peace of mutual exhaustion. Churchill, 
D’Eyncourt, Tritton, Swinton and Bertie Stern,— these were 
in sober fact, divide the credit as you may, the men who played 
a very essential part in bringing down the giant. 

Our household suffered terribly in the war. The first to 
fall was my wife’s brother, Malcolm Leckie, of the Army Med¬ 
ical Service, whose gallantry was so conspicuous that he was 
awarded a posthumous D.S.O. While he was actually dying 
himself, with shrapnel in his chest, he had the wounded to 
his bedside and bandaged them. Then came the turn of Miss 


334 


Memories and Adventures 


Loder Symonds, who lived with us and was a beloved member 
of the family. Three of her brothers were killed and the fourth 
wounded. Finally, on an evil day for us, she also passed on. 
Then two brave nephews, Alec Forbes and Oscar Hornung, 
went down with bullets through the brain. My gallant brother- 
in-law, Major Oldham, was killed by a sniper during his first 
days in the trenches. And then finally, just as all seemed over, 
I had a double blow. First it was my Kingsley, my only son 
by the first marriage, one of the grandest boys in body and 
soul that ever a father was blessed with. He had started the 
war as a private, worked up to an acting captaincy in the 
1st Hampshires, and been very badly wounded on the Somme. 
It was pneumonia which slew him in London, and the same 
cursed plague carried off my soldier brother Innes, he who had 
shared my humble strivings at Southsea so many years ago. 
A career lay before him, for he was only forty and already 
Adjutant-General of a corps, with the Legion of Honour, and 
a great record of service. But he was called and he went like 
the hero he was. “ You do not complain at all, sir,” said the 
orderly. “ I am a soldier,” said the dying General. Thank 
God that I have since found that the gates are not shut, but 
only ajar, if one does show earnestness in the quest. Of all 
these that I have mentioned, there is but one from whom I have 
been unable to obtain clear proof of posthumous existence. 


CHAPTER XXVIII 


EXPERIENCES ON THE BRITISH FRONT 

Lord Newton — How I Got Out — Sir W. Robertson — The Destroyer — 
First Experience of Trenches — Ceremony at Bethune — Mother — The 
Ypres Salient — Ypres — The Hull Territorial — General Sir Douglas 
Haig — Artillery Duel — Kingsley — Major Wood — Paris. 

I HAD naturally wished to get out to the British front and 
to see things for myself. And yet I had scruples also, 
for when soldiers are doing a difficult job mere spectators and 
joy-riders are out of place. I felt what a perfect nuisance 
they must be, and hesitated to join them. On the other hand, 
I had surely more claims than most, since I was not only 
compiling a history of the campaign, hut was continually 
writing in the press upon military subjects. I made up my 
mind, therefore, that I was justified in going, but I had as 
yet no opportunity. 

However, it came along in a very strange way. It was in 
the early summer of 1916 that I had a note from Lord Hewton, 
saying that he wished to see me at the Eoreign Office. I could 
not conceive what he wanted to see me about, but of course I 
went. Lord Xewton seemed to be doing general utility work 
which involved the interests of our prisoners in Germany, as 
well as press arrangements, missions, etc. The former alone 
would be enough for anyone, and he was exposed to severe 
criticism for not being sufficiently zealous in the cause. “ Xew¬ 
ton, the Teuton,” sang the prisoners, a parody on “ Gilbert, 
the Filbert,” one of the idiotic popular songs of pre-war days. 
However, I am convinced that he really did his very best, and 
that his policy was wise, for if it came to an interchange of 
revenge and barbarity between Germany and us, there was only 
one in it. There is no use starting a game in which you are 
bound to be beaten. Winston Churchill had tried it in the 
case of the submarine officers, with the result that thirty of 
our own picked officers had endured much in their prisons 
and the policy had to be reconsidered. 


336 Memories and Adventures 

Lard Newton is a wit and lias a humorous face which covers 
a good deal of solid capacity. He plunged instantly into the 
business on hand. 

“ It is the Italian army,” said he. “ They want a bit of 
limelight. We propose to send several fellows on short mis¬ 
sions to write them up. Your name has been mentioned and 
approved. Will you go?” 

I never thought more quickly in my life than on that occa¬ 
sion. I had no plan when I entered the room, since I was 
ignorant of the proposition, but I saw my opening in a flash. 

“No,” said I. 

Lord Newton looked surprised. 

“ Why not ? ” he asked. 

“ Because I should be in a false position,” I answered. “ I 
have nothing to compare them with. I have not even seen 
the British front yet. How absurd it would be for me to ap¬ 
prove or to condemn when they could reasonably ask me what 
I knew about the matter! ” 

“ Would you go if that were set right ? ” 

“ Yes, certainly.” 

“ Then I don’t think there will be an insuperable difficulty.” 

“ Well, if you can arrange that, I am entirely at your dis¬ 
posal.” 

“ By the way,” said he, “ if you go to the front, and espe¬ 
cially to the Italian front, a uniform will be essential. What 
have you a right to wear ? ” 

“ I am a private in the Volunteers.” 

He laughed. 

“ I think you would be shot at sight by both armies,” said 
he. “ You would be looked upon as a rare specimen. I don’t 
think that would do.” 

I had a happy thought. 

“ I am a deputy-lieutenant of Surrey,” said I. “ I have the 
right to wear a uniform when with troops.” 

“Excellent!” he cried. “Nothing could be better. Well, 
you will hear from me presently.” 

I went straight off to my tailor, who rigged me up in a 
wondrous khaki garb which was something between that of a 
Colonel and a Brigadier, with silver roses instead of stars 


Experiences on the British Front 337 

** 

or crowns upon the shoulder-straps. As I had the right to 
wear several medals, including the South African, the general 
effect was all right, but I always felt a mighty impostor, though 
it was certainly very comfortable and convenient. I was still 
a rare specimen, and quite a number of officers of three na¬ 
tions made inquiry about my silver roses. A deputy-lieutenant 
may not be much in England, but when translated into Erench 
— my Erench anyhow — it has an awe-inspiring effect, and 
I was looked upon by them as an inscrutable but very big 
person with a uniform all of his own. 

It was in May when I had my meeting with Lord Hewton, 
and towards the end of the month I received a pass which 
would take me to the British lines. I remember the solicitude 
of my family, who seemed to think that I was going on active 
service. To quiet their kindly anxieties I said: “ My dears, 
I shall be held in the extreme rear, and I shall be lucky if ever 
I see a shell burst on the far horizon.” The sequel showed 
that my estimate was nearly as mistaken as theirs. 

I had had some correspondence with General Robertson, 
and had dedicated my History of the war to him, so much 
was I impressed with the splendid work he had done behind 
the line in the early days, when Cowans and he had as much 
strain and anxiety from their position in the wings as any of 
those who were in the limelight of the stage. He was, as it 
happened, going over to France, and he sent me a note to ask 
whether I would like to share his private compartment on the 
train and then use his destroyer instead of the ordinary 
steamer. Of course I was delighted. General Robertson is a 
sturdy, soldierly, compact man, with a bull-dog face and looks 
as if he might be obstinate and even sullen if crossed. Such 
men are splendid if they keep their qualities for the enemy, 
but possibly dangerous if they use them on their associates. 
Certainly Robertson had a great deal of fighting to do at home 
as well as abroad, and was in the latter days of the war in 
constant conflict with the authorities, and with an open feud 
against the Prime Minister, but it is hard to say who was 
right. Perhaps, if it were not for the pressure which Robert¬ 
son, Repington and others exercised, it would have been more 
difficult to raise those last few hundred thousand men who 


338 Memories and Adventures 


saved us in 1918. Like so many big men, his appearance was 
most deceptive, and though he looked every inch the soldier, 
there was nothing to show that great capacity for handling a 
large business, which would surely have put him at the head 
of any commercial concern in the country. There was a Crom¬ 
wellian touch in him which peeped out in occasional religious 
allusions. He was very engrossed in papers and figures, 
and I hardly had a word with him between London and New- 
haven. 

We went straight on to the destroyer and she cast off her 
moorings within a few minutes. The Channel crossing was 
a great experience for me, and I stood on the bridge all the 
time looking about for traces of war — which were not numer¬ 
ous. Just under the bridge stood a sturdy seaman in pea 
jacket and flapped cap, an intent, crouching, formidable figure, 
with his hand on the crank of a quick-firing gun. He never 
relaxed, and for the whole hour, as we tore across, his head, 
and occasionally his gun, was slowly traversing from right to 
left. The captain, a young lieutenant whose name I have for¬ 
gotten, told me what hellish work it was in the winter, though 
perhaps “ hellish ” is not the mot juste for that bitterly cold 
vigil. His ship was called the Zulu. Shortly afterwards it 
was blown up, as was its consort the Nubian, but as two of 
the halves were still serviceable, they stuck them together and 
made one very good ship, the Zubian. You can’t beat the 
British dockyard any more than you can the British Navy 
which it mothers. That evening we ran through some twenty 
miles of Northern France, and wound up at the usual guest¬ 
house, where I met several travelling Russians. Colonel Wil¬ 
son, a dark, quiet, affable man, who had the thorny job of 
looking after the press, and Brig.-General Charteris, a pleas¬ 
ant, breezy, fresh-complexioned soldier, head of the British 
Intelligence Department, joined us at dinner. Everything was 
quite comfortable, but at the same time properly plain and 
simple. There is nothing more hateful than luxury behind a 
battle-line. Next day I had a wonderful twelve hours in 
contact with the soldiers all the time, and I will take some 
account of it from the notes I made at the time, but now I 
can expand them and give names more freely. 


Experiences on the British Front 339 

The crowning impression which I carried away from that 
wonderful day was the enormous imperturbable confidence of 
the Army and its extraordinary efficiency in organization, ad¬ 
ministration, material, and personnel. I met in one day a 
sample of many types, an army commander, a corps com¬ 
mander, two divisional commanders, staff officers of many 
grades, and, above all, I met repeatedly the two very great 
men whom Britain has produced, the private soldier and the 
regimental officer. Everywhere and on every face one read the 
same spirit of cheerful bravery. Even the half-mad cranks 
whose absurd consciences prevented them from barring the 
way to the devil seemed to me to he turning into men under 
the prevailing influence. I saw a hatch of them, neurotic and 
largely bespectacled, hut working with a will by the roadside. 
There was no foolish bravado, no underrating of a dour oppo¬ 
nent, but a quick, alert, confident attention to the job in hand 
which was an inspiration to the observer. 

“ Get out of the car. Don’t let it stay here. It may be 
hit.” These words from a staff officer gave you the first idea 
that things were going to happen. Up to then you might have 
been driving through the black country in the Walsall district 
with the population of Aldershot let loose upon its dingy roads. 
“ Put on this shrapnel helmet. That hat of yours would in¬ 
furiate the Boche ”— this was an unkind allusion to my uni¬ 
form. “ Take this gas mask. You won’t need it, but it is a 
standing order. Now come on! ” 

We crossed a meadow and entered a trench. Here and there 
it came to the surface again where there was dead ground. 
At one such point an old church stood, with an unexploded 
shell sticking out of the wall. A century hence folk may 
journey to see that shell. Then on again through an endless 
cutting. It was slippery clay below. I had no nails in my 
boots, an iron pot on my head, and the sun above me. I 
remember that walk. The telephone wires ran down the side. 
Here and there large thistles and other plants grew from 
the clay walls, so immobile had been our lines. Occasionally 
there were patches of untidiness. “ Shells,” said the officer 
laconically. There was a racket of guns before us and behind, 
especially behind, but danger seemed remote with all these 


340 


Memories and Adventures 


Bairnsfather groups of cheerful Tommies at work around us. 
I passed one group of grimy, tattered hoys. A glance at their 
shoulders showed me that they were of a public-school battalion, 
the 20th Royal Fusiliers. “ I thought you fellows were all 
officers now,” I remarked. “ No, sir, we like it better so.” 
“ Well, it will be a great memory for you. We are all in your 
debt.” 

They saluted, and we squeezed past them. They had the 
fresh brown faces of boy cricketers. But their comrades were 
men of a different type, with hard, strong, rugged features, 
and the eyes of men who have seen strange sights. These 
were veterans, men of Mons, and their young pals of the public 
schools had something to live up to. 

Up to this we only had two clay walls to look at. But now 
our interminable and tropical walk was lightened by the sight 
of a British aeroplane sailing overhead. Numerous shrapnel 
bursts were all around it, but she floated on serenely, a thing 
of delicate beauty against the blue background. Now another 
passed — and yet another. All the morning we saw them 
circling and swooping, and never a sign of a Boche. They 
told me it was nearly always so — that we held the air, and 
that the Boche intruder, save at early morning, was a rare 
bird. “ We have never met a British aeroplane which was 
not ready to fight,” said a captured German aviator. There 
was a fine, stern courtesy between the airmen on either side, 
each dropping notes into the other’s aerodromes to tell the fate 
of missing officers. Had the whole war been fought by the 
Germans as their airmen conducted it (I do not speak, of 
course, of the Zeppelin murderers), a peace would eventually 
have been more easily arranged. 

And now we were there — in what was surely the most won¬ 
derful spot in the world — the front firing trench, the outer 
breakwater which held back the German tide. How strange 
that this monstrous oscillation of giant forces, setting in from 
east to west, should find their equilibrium across this par¬ 
ticular meadow of Flanders. “ How far ? ” I asked. “ One 
hundred and eighty yards,” said my guide. “ Pop! ” re¬ 
marked a third person just in front. “ A sniper,” said my 
guide; “ take a look through the periscope.” I did so. There 


Experiences on the British Front 341 

was some rusty wire before me, then a field sloping slightly 
upwards with knee-deep grass, and ragged dock and fennel 
and nettles, then rusty wire again, and a red line of broken 
earth. There was not a sign of movement, but sharp eyes 
were always watching us, even as these crouching soldiers 
around me were watching them. There were dead Germans 
in the grass before us. You need not see them to know that 
they were there. A wounded soldier sat in a corner nursing his 
leg. Here and there men popped out like rabbits from dug- 
outs and mine-shafts. Others sat on the fire-step or leaned 
smoking against the clay wall. Who would dream, who looked 
at their bold, careless faces, that this was a front line, and 
that at any moment it was possible that a grey wave might 
submerge them? With all their careless bearing, I noticed 
that every man had his gas mask and his rifle within easy 
reach. 

A mile of front trenches and then we were on our way back 
down that weary walk. Then I was whisked off upon a ten- 
mile drive. There was a pause for lunch at Corps Head¬ 
quarters, and after it we were taken to a medal presentation 
in the market square of Bethune. Generals Munro, Haking, 
and Landon, famous fighting soldiers all three, were the Brit¬ 
ish representatives. Munro, with a ruddy face, all brain above, 
all bulldog below; Haking, pale, distinguished, intellectual; 
Landon, a pleasant genial country squire. An elderly French 
General stood beside them. British infantry kept the ground. 
In front were about fifty Frenchmen in civil dress of every 
grade of life, workmen and gentlemen, in a double rank. They 
were all so wounded that they were back in civil life, but to¬ 
day they were to have some solace for their wounds. They 
leaned heavily on sticks, their bodies twisted and maimed, but 
their faces were shining with pride and joy. The French 
General drew his sword and addressed them. One caught 
words like “honneur” and “ patrie.” They leaned forward 
on their crutches, hanging on every syllable which came hissing 
and rasping from under that heavy white moustache. Then 
the medals were pinned on. One poor lad was terribly 
wounded and needed two sticks. A little girl ran out with 
some flowers. He leaned forward and tried to kiss her, but 


342 Memories and Adventures 

the crutches slipped and he nearly fell upon her. It was a 
pitiful hut beautiful little scene. 

Next the British candidates inarched up one by one for 
their medals, hale, hearty men, brown and fit. There was a 
smart young officer of Scottish Rifles; and then a selection 
of Worcesters, Welsh Fusiliers and Scots Fusiliers, with one 
funny little Highlander, a tiny figure with a soup-bowl helmet, 
a grinning boy’s face beneath it, and a bedraggled uniform. 
“ Many acts of great bravery ”— such was the record for which 
he was decorated. Even the French wounded smiled at his 
quaint appearance, as they did at another Briton who had 
acquired the chewing-gum habit, and came up for his medal 
as if he had been called suddenly in the middle of his dinner, 
which he was still endeavouring to bolt. Then came the end, 
with the National Anthem. The British battalion formed 
fours and went past. To me that was the most impressive 
sight of any. They were the Queen’s West Surreys, a veteran 
battalion of the great Ypres battle. What grand fellows! 
As the order came, “ Eyes right,” and all those fierce, dark 
faces flashed round at us I felt the might of the British in¬ 
fantry, the intense individuality which is not incompatible 
with the highest discipline. Much they had endured, but a 
great spirit shone from their faces. I confess that as I looked 
at those brave English lads, and thought of what we owed to 
them and to their like who have passed on, I felt more emo¬ 
tional than befits a Briton in foreign parts. How many of 
them are left alive to-day! 

Now the ceremony was ended, and once again we set out 
for the front. It was to an artillery observation post just 
opposite the Loos Salient that we were bound. In an hour 
I found myself, together with a razor-keen young artillery 
observer and an excellent old sportsman of a Russian prince, 
jammed into a very small space, and staring through a slit 
at the German lines. In front of us lay a vast plain, scarred 
and slashed, with bare places at intervals, such as you see 
where gravel pits break a green common. Not a sign of life 
or movement, save some wheeling crows. And yet down, there, 
within a mile or so, was the population of a city. Far away 
a single train was puffing at the back of the German lines. 


Experiences on the British Front 343 

* • 

We were here on a definite errand. Away to the right, nearly 
three miles off, was a small red house, dim to the eye hut 
clear in the glasses, suspected as a German post. It was to go 
up this afternoon. The gun was some distance away, hut I 
heard the telephone directions. “ ‘ Mother ’ will soon do her 
in,” remarked the gunner hoy cheerfully. “ Mother ” was the 
name of the gun. “ Give her five six three four,” he cried 
through the ’phone. “ Mother ” uttered a horrible bellow from 
somewhere on our right. An enormous spout of smoke rose 
ten seconds later from near the house. “ A little short,” said 
our gunner. “ Two and a half minutes left,” added a little 
small voice, which represented another observer at a different 
angle. “ Raise her seven five,” said our hoy encouragingly. 
“ Mother ” roared more angrily than ever. “ How will that 
do ? ” she seemed to say. “ One and a half right,” said our 
invisible gossip. I wondered how the folk in the house were 
feeling as the shells crept ever nearer. “ Gun laid, sir,” said 
the telephone. “Fire!” I was looking through my glass. 
A flash of fire on the house, a huge pillar of dust and smoke — 
then it settled, and an unbroken field was there. The German 
post had gone up. “ It’s a dear little gun,” said the officer 
boy. “ And her shells are reliable,” remarked a senior behind 
us. “ They vary with different calibres, but 1 Mother ’ never 
goes wrong.” The German line was very quiet. “ Pourquoi 
ne repondent ils pas ? ” asked the Russian prince. “ Yes, they 
are quiet to-day,” answered the senior. “ But we get it in 
the neck sometimes.” We were all led off to be introduced 
to “ Mother,” who sat, squat and black, amid twenty of her 
grimy children who waited upon her and fed her. A dainty 
eater was “ Mother,” and nothing served her but the best 
and plenty of it. But she was important and as the war 
progressed it became more and more evident that in spite of 
that upstart family of quick-firers it was really the only big, 
heavy, well-established gun which could flatten out a road 
to the Rhine. 

I had the great joy that night of seeing my brother Innes, 
who had been promoted to Colonel, and was acting as Assistant 
Adjutant-General of the 24th Division, the Head-quarters of 
which were at Bailleul, where I dined at mess and occupied 


344 Memories and Adventures 

a small lodging in the town', which was about six miles from 
the front. One more experience wound up that wonderful 
day. That night we took a car ^.fter dark and drove north, 
and ever north, until at a late hour we halted and climbed a 
hill in the darkness. Below was a wonderful sight. Down 
on the flats, in a huge semicircle, lights were rising and fall¬ 
ing. They were very brilliant, going up for a few seconds 
and then dying down. Sometimes a dozen were in the air 
at one time. There were the dull thuds of explosions and an 
occasional rat-tat-tat. I have seen nothing like it, but the 
nearest comparison would be an enormous ten-mile railway 
station in full swing at night, with signals winking, lamps 
waving, engines hissing and carriages bumping. It was a 
terrible place, a place which will live as long as military his¬ 
tory is written, for it was the Ypres Salient. What a salient 
too! A huge curve, as outlined by the lights, needing only a 
little more to be an encirclement. Something caught the rope 
as it closed, and that something was the British soldier. But 
it was a perilous place by day and by night. Never shall I 
forget the impression of ceaseless, malignant activity which 
was borne in upon me by the white, winking lights, the red 
sudden flares, and the horrible thudding noises in that place 
of death beneath me. 

In old days we had a great name as organizers. Then came 
a long period when we deliberately adopted a policy of indi¬ 
viduality and “go as you please.” Now once again in our 
sore need we had called on all our power of administration 
and direction. And it had not deserted us. We still had it 
in a supreme degree. Even in peace time we have shown it 
in that vast, well-oiled, swift-running noiseless machine called, 
the British Navy. But our powers had risen with the need 
of them. The expansion of the Navy was a miracle, the man¬ 
agement of the transport a greater one, the formation of the 
new Army the greatest of all time. To get the men was the 
least of the difficulties. To put them in the field, with every¬ 
thing down to the lid of the last field saucepan in its place, 
that was the marvel. The tools of the gunners and of the 
sappers, to say nothing of the knowledge of how to use them, 


Experiences on the British Front 345 

were in themselves a huge problem. But it had all been met 
and mastered. So don’t let us talk too much about the mud¬ 
dling of the War Office. It has become just a little ridicu¬ 
lous. 

I was the guest at Head-quarters of a divisional General, 
Capper, brother of the heroic leader of the 7th Division, who 
might truly be called one of the two fathers of the British 
flying force, for it was he, with Templer, who laid the first 
foundations from which so great an organization has arisen. 
My morning was spent in visiting two fighting brigadiers, 
Mitford and Jelf, cheery weather-beaten soldiers, respectful, 
as all our soldiers are, of the prowess of the Hun, but serenely 
confident that we could beat him. In company with one of 
them I ascended a hill, the reverse slope of which was swarm¬ 
ing with cheerful infantry in every stage of deshabille, for 
they were cleaning up after the trenches. Once over the slope 
we advanced with some care, and finally reached a certain spot 
from which we looked down upon the German line. It was 
an observation post, about 1,000 yards from the German 
trenches, with our own trenches between us. We could see 
the two lines, sometimes only a few yards, as it seemed, apart, 
extending for miles on either side. The sinister silence and 
solitude were strangely dramatic. Such vast crowds of men, 
such intensity of feeling, and yet only that open rolling coun¬ 
try-side, with never a movement in its whole expanse. 

In the afternoon my brother drove me to the Square at 
Ypres. It was the city of a dream, this modern Pompeii, de¬ 
stroyed, deserted and desecrated, but with a sad, proud dignity 
which made you involuntarily lower your voice as you passed 
through the ruined streets. It was a more considerable place 
than I had imagined, with many traces of ancient grandeur. 
Ho words can describe the absolute splintered wreck that the 
Huns had made of it. The effect of some of the shells had 
been grotesque. One boiler-plated water tower, a thing 40 or 
50 feet high, was actually standing on its head like a great 
metal top. There was not a living soul in the place save a few 
pickets of soldiers, and a number of cats which had become 
fierce and dangerous. How and then a shell still fell, but the 
Huns probably knew that the devastation was already complete. 


346 


Memories and Adventures 


We stood in the lonely grass-grown Square, once the busy 
centre of the town, and we marvelled at the beauty of the 
smashed cathedral and the tottering Cloth Hall beside it. 
Surely at their best they could not have looked more wonder¬ 
ful. If they were preserved even so, and if a heaven-inspired 
artist were to model a statue of Belgium in front, Belgium 
with one hand pointing to the treaty by which Prussia guaran¬ 
teed her safety and the other to the sacrilege behind her, it 
would make the most impressive group in the world. It was 
an evil day for Belgium when her frontier was violated, but 
it was a worse one for Germany. I venture to prophesy that 
it will be regarded by history as the greatest military as well 
as political error that has ever been made. Had the great 
guns that destroyed Liege made their first breach at Yerdun, 
what chance was there for Paris ? Those few weeks of warn¬ 
ing and preparation saved Prance, and left Germany, like a 
weary and furious bull, tethered fast in the place of trespass 
and waiting for the inevitable pole-axe. 

We were glad to get out of the place, for the gloom of it 
lay as heavy upon our hearts as the shrapnel helmets did upon 
our heads. Both were lightened as we sped back past empty 
and shattered villas to where, just behind the danger line, the 
normal life of rural Flanders was carrying on as usual. A 
merry sight helped to cheer us, for scudding down wind above 
our heads came a Boche aeroplane, with two British at her 
tail barking away with their machine guns, like two swift 
terriers after a cat. They shot rat-tat-tatting across the sky 
until we lost sight of them in the heat haze over the German 
line. 

The afternoon saw us on the Sharpenburg, from which many 
a million will gaze in days to come, for from no other point 
can so much be seen. It was a spot forbid, but a special 
permit took us up, and the sentry on duty, having satisfied 
himself of our bona-fides, proceeded to tell us tales of the war 
in a pure Hull dialect which might have been Chinese for 
all that I could understand. That he was a “ Terrier ” and 
had nine children were the only facts I could lay hold of. But 
I wished to be silent and to think — even, perhaps, to pray. 
Here, just below my feet, were the spots which our dear lads, 


Experiences on the British Front 347 

three of them my own kith, had sanctified with their blood. 
Here, fighting for the freedom of the world, they cheerily gave 
their all. On that sloping meadow to the left of the row of 
houses on the opposite ridge the London Scottish fought to 
the death on that grim November morning when the Bavarians 
reeled hack from their shot-torn line. That plain away on 
the other side of Ypres was the place where the three grand 
Canadian brigades, first of all men, stood up to the damnable 
gases of the Hun. Down yonder was Hill 60, that blood- 
soaked kopje. The ridge over the fields was held by the cav¬ 
alry against turn army corps, and there where the sun struck 
the red roof among the trees I could just see Gheluvelt, a 
name for ever to he associated with Haig and the most vital 
battle of the war. As I turned away I was faced by my Hull 
Territorial, who still said incomprehensible things. I looked 
at him with other eyes. He had fought on yonder plain. He 
had slain Huns, and he had nine children. Could any one 
better epitomize the duties of a good citizen in days like these ? 
I could have found it in my heart to salute him had I not 
known that it would have shocked him and made him un¬ 
happy. 

Next day, it was June 1, I left my brother’s kindly care. 
I had fears for him, for he was much overworked and worried 
as Adjutant-Generals of busy divisions are likely to he. How¬ 
ever, he was never one to admit it or to pity himself, and he 
begged me to carry the cheeriest report back to his wife. It 
was a great pleasure to me that so many officers took me aside 
to say how efficient he was, and how popular. He would not 
have wished me to say it were he alive, but I can leave it on 
record now. 

Yesterday had been full, hut the next day was not less so, 
for I had been asked (or ordered) to lunch at the General 
Head-quarters at Hontreuil, the funny old town on a hill which 
I had learned to know well in days of peace. As we drove down 
a winding drive I saw two officers walking towards us. The 
younger of them stooped and heat the ground with his stick, 
from which we gathered that we were to go slow and raise 
no dust. We rightly conjectured that so curt an order could 
only come from the Chief’s own aide. We saluted as we 


348 Memories and Adventures 

passed and carried away an impression of a heavy moustache 
and of abstracted blue eyes. 

I had a very much more definite impression when he came 
back presently, and we were all shown into the dining room. 

I should certainly put Douglas Haig, as I saw him that day, 
among the handsomest men I have ever known. He was not 
tall, but he was upright and well proportioned with every sign 
of strength and activity. But his face was remarkable for 
beauty and power. His eyes were very full and expressive, 
devoid of the fierceness of Kitchener and yet with quite as 
much determination. But the long powerful jaw was the fea¬ 
ture which spoke particularly of that never-to-be-beaten qual¬ 
ity which saved the army when the line was broken in the 
first Ypres battle and was destined to save it again in April, 
1918, when he gave out his “back to the wall” order of the 
day. 

He was courteous but not talkative at lunch. After lunch 
he took me into a side room where he showed me the line of 
the divisions on the map, saying that I could remember hut 
should not take notes, which was rather maddening. Then we 
had a long talk over the coffee, but there were several present 
and nothing intimate was said. He must be worried to death 
with casual visitors, but still I suppose he need not invite all 
of them to Head-quarters. He had, I thought, a truly British 
distrust of foreigners. “ He is the worst foreigner I have met 
yet,” he said, speaking of some Italian General. His kind 
heart was shown when I said that my son was in the line. 
He gave a curt order, and then nodded and smiled. “ You’ll 
see him to-morrow,” said he. 

I naturally heard a good deal about our Generalissimo, be¬ 
sides what I actually saw. I think that he had some of the 
traits of Wellington, though since the war he has concerned 
himself with the fortunes of his comrades-in-arms a great deal 
more than the Iron Duke seems ever to have troubled himself 
to do. But in other things the parallel is close. Haig is not 
a game-playing man, though fond of horse exercise. Neither 
was the Duke. Both were abstemious with wine and tobacco. 
Both were reserved, reticent and had no magnetic connection 
with those under them. Neither Haig nor the Duke were 


Experiences on the British Front 349 

human figures to the soldiers, nor were they often if ever 
seen by them, and yet in each case there was the same con¬ 
fidence in their judgment. Haig was a very serious man, he 
seldom joked and did not meet a joke half way, so that his 
mess was the dullest in France. I have known a staff officer 
apply for an exchange so weary was he of this oppressive 
atmosphere. All this could equally have been said of the Duke. 
But these are trivialities compared to the great main fact that 
each brought rare qualities to the service of their country at 
critical moments of the world’s history. There was only one 
other man who might have filled Haig’s place, and that man 
was the conqueror of Palestine. 

Extraordinary are the contrasts of war. Within three hours 
of leaving the quiet atmosphere of the Head-quarters Chateau 
I was present at what in any other war would have been looked 
upon as a brisk engagement. As it was it would certainly fig¬ 
ure in one of our desiccated reports as an activity of the artil¬ 
lery. The noise as we struck the line at this new point showed 
that the matter was serious, and indeed we had chosen the spot 
because it had been the storm centre of the last week. The 
method of approach chosen by our experienced guide was in 
itself a tribute to the gravity of the affair. As one comes from 
the settled order of Flanders into the actual scene of war, the 
first sign of it is one of the stationary, sausage-shaped balloons, 
a chain of which marks the ring in which the great wrestlers 
are locked. We passed under this, ascended a hill, and found 
ourselves in a garden where for a year no feet save those of 
wanderers like ourselves had stood. There was a wild, con¬ 
fused luxuriance of growth more beautiful to my eye than 
anything which the care of man can produce. One old shell- 
hole of vast diameter had filled itself with forget-me-nots, and 
appeared as a graceful basin of light blue flowers, held up as 
an atonement to Heaven for the brutalities of man. Through 
the tangled bushes we crept, then across a yard —*“ Please stoop 
and run as you pass this point ”— and finally to a small open¬ 
ing in a wall, whence the battle lay not so much before as be¬ 
side us. For a moment we had a front seat at the great world- 
drama, God’s own problem play, working surely to its mag¬ 
nificent end. One felt a sort of shame to crouch here in com- 


350 


Memories and Adventures 


fort, a useless spectator, while brave men down yonder were 
facing that pelting shower of iron. 

There was a large field on our left rear, and the German 
gunners had the idea that there was a concealed battery therein. 
They were systematically searching for it. A great shell ex¬ 
ploded in the top corner, but got nothing more solid than a 
few tons of clay. You could read the mind of Gunner Fritz. 
“ Try the lower corner! ” said he, and up went the earth-cloud 
once again. “ Perhaps it’s hid about the middle. I’ll try.” 
Earth again, and nothing more. “ I believe I was right the 
first time after all,” said hopeful Fritz. So another shell 
came into the top corner. The field was full of pits as a 
Gruyere cheese, but Fritz got nothing by his perseverance. 
Perhaps there never was a battery there at all. One effect he 
obviously did attain. He made several other British batteries 
exceedingly angry. “ Stop that tickling, Fritz! ” was the bur¬ 
den of their cry. Where they were we could no more see than 
Fritz could, but their constant work was very clear along the 
German line. We appeared to be using more shrapnel and 
the Germans more high explosives, but that may have been just 
the chance of the day. The Vimy Ridge was on our right, and 
before us was the old French position, with the Labyrinth of 
terrible memories and the long hill of Lorette. When, the year 
before last, the French, in a three weeks’ battle, fought their 
way up that hill, it was an exhibition of sustained courage 
which even their military annals can seldom have beaten. 

Next day we travelled through Acheux and hit the British 
line once more to the east of that place. Our official chauffeur 
had had his instructions, and so had other people, with the 
result that as we swung into the broad main street of a village 
*—Mailly, I think, was the name — there was a tall young 
officer standing with his back turned. He swung round at the 
noise of the car, and it was my boy Kingsley with his usual 
jolly grin upon his weather-stained features. The long arm 
of G.H.Q. had stretched out and plucked him out of a trench, 
and there he was. We had an hour’s talk in a field, for there 
was nowhere else to go. He was hard and well and told me 
that all was nearly ready for a big push at the very part of 
the line where his battalion, the 1st Hampshires, was stationed. 



KINGSLEY CONAN DOYLE- 








Experiences on the British Front 351 

* * «* 

This was the first intimation of the great Somme battle, on the 

first day of which every officer of the Hampshires without ex¬ 
ception was killed or wounded. I learned afterwards that be¬ 
fore the battle for ten nights running Kingsley crept out to 
the German, wire and stuck up crosses, where he found the 
wire uncut, which were brown towards the enemy and white 
towards the British, as a guide to the gunners. He lay on 
his face sometimes with the machine guns firing just above 
him. For this service Colonel Palk thanked him warmly and 
said he should certainly have a decoration, but Palk and both 
majors were killed and no recommendations went forward. 
Two shrapnel bullets in the neck were all Kingsley got out 
of the battle, and two months on his back in a hospital. How¬ 
ever, he was not a medal hunter and I never heard him com¬ 
plain, nor would he wear his wound badges until he was 
compelled. 

An hour later I met another member of my household, for 
my Secretary, Major Wood of the 5th Sussex Territorials, 
was Town Major of Beauquesne, where I found him at the 
convenient hour of lunch. He had done nearly two years of 
hard active service, which was pretty good for a civilian of 
fifty, and had led his company at Festubert and other engage¬ 
ments. He was now using his excellent powers of organiza¬ 
tion and administration in making Beauquesne a well-ordered 
village, as later he made Doullens a well-ordered town. I ex¬ 
pect that the British administration will remain as a wonder¬ 
ful legend of sanitation and cleanliness in many of these French 
towns of the Horth-East. 

After inspecting Major Wood’s work I went on to Amiens 
with him and he packed me into the train to Paris, the first 
part of my task thoroughly done so far as time would permit. 
I came away with a deep sense of the difficult task which lay 
before the Army, but with an equally deep one of the ability 
of those men to do all that soldiers can be called upon to per¬ 
form. But I saw no end to the war. 

I had two days in Paris — a very dead and alive Paris, such 
a Paris as has seldom or never been seen before, with dark¬ 
ened streets and the shops nearly all closed. I stayed at the 
Hotel Crillon, where were a few Russian and British officers. 


352 


Memories and Adventures 


It was extraordinary the difference which the public made be¬ 
tween the two. A British officer was disregarded, while a 
Russian General —I took a walk with one — was looked upon 
with an adulation which was quite comic. Men came up and 
made a low obeisance before him. And yet it was our Army, 
our purse, our factories, above all our Navy, which were saving 
the situation both for France and Russia, to whom we were 
bound by no alliance. There was certainly not much sign of 
appreciation or gratitude. It is a very singular thing how the 
whole world alternately leans upon and depreciates the British 
Empire. 


CHAPTER XXIX 


EXPERIENCES ON THE ITALIAN FRONT 

The Polite Front — Udine — Under Fire — Carnic Alps — Italia Irredenta 
— Trentino — The Voice of the Holy Roman Empire. 

T WO days later I found myself, after an uneventful jour¬ 
ney, at Padua on my way to the Italian front. The 
Italian front seemed to have politely come hack to meet me, 
for I was awakened in the night by a tremendous dropping 
of bombs, with the rattle of anti-aircraft guns. I thought 
I was as safe in bed as anywhere, and so it proved. Little 
damage was done, but Padua and the other Italian cities were 
having a bad time, and it was a one-sided arrangement, since 
the Italians can do nothing without injuring their own kith 
and kin across the border. This dropping of explosives on 
the chance of hitting one soldier among fifty victims was surely 
the most monstrous development of the whole war, and was 
altogether German in its origin. If international law cannot 
now stamp it out, the next war will send the people flying to 
the caves and calling upon the mountains to cover them, even 
as was foretold. 

I arrived at last at Udine, the capital of the Friulian Prov¬ 
ince, where were the Italian Head-quarters — a funny little 
town with a huge mound in the centre, which looked too big 
to be artificial, but was said to have been thrown up by Attila. 
My recommendation was to the British Mission, which was 
headed by Brig.-General Delme-Radcliffe, a bluff, short-spoken 
and masterful British soldier, who received me with hospitality. 
The Mission owned a white house on the edge of the town. 
On the second floor under a window which proved to be that 
of my bedroom there was a long dark smear on the whitewashed 
wall. “ That’s the stomach of a baker,” said the soldier-servant 
with a grin. I thought it was a joke on his part, but it was 
literally true, for a bomb a few days before had blown the 
man to bits as he passed the house, and had plastered bits 


354 Memories and Adventures 

of him on the stonework. 'The ceiling of my bedroom was 
full of holes from that or some other explosion. 

There was some tendency at this time to cavil at the Italians 
and to wonder why they did not make more impression upon 
the Austrians. As a matter of fact they were faced by the 
same barbed wire and machine-gun problem which had held 
up every one else. I soon saw, when I was allowed next morn¬ 
ing to get to the front, that the conditions were very like those 
of Flanders in a more genial climate and in all ways less 
aggravated. I had been handed over to the Italian Intelligence 
people, who were represented by a charmingly affable noble¬ 
man, Colonel the Marquis Barbariche, and Colonel Claricetti. 
These two introduced me at once to General Porro, chief of 
the Staff, a brown, wrinkled, walnut-faced warrior, who showed 
me some plans and did what he could to be helpful. 

It was about a seven miles drive from Udine before we 
reached the nearest point of the trenches. Prom a mound 
an extraordinary view could be got of the Austrian position, 
the general curve of both lines being marked, as in Flanders, 
by the sausage balloons which float behind them. The Isonzo, 
which had been so bravely carried by the Italians, lay in front 
of me, a clear blue river, as broad as the Thames at Hampton 
Court. In a hollow to my left were the roofs of Gorizia, the 
town which the Italians were endeavouring to take. A long 
desolate ridge, the Carso, extended to the south of the town, 
and stretched down nearly to the sea. The crest was held by 
the Austrians, and the Italian trenches had been pushed within 
fifty yards of them. A lively bombardment was going on from 
either side, but so far as the infantry went there was none 
of that constant malignant petty warfare with which we were 
familiar in Flanders. I was anxious to see the Italian trenches, 
in order to compare them with our British methods, but save 
for the support and communication trenches I was courteously 
but firmly warned off. 

Having got this general view of the position, I was anxious 
in the afternoon to visit Monfalcone, which is the small dock¬ 
yard captured from the Austrians on the Adriatic. My kind 
Italian officer guides did not recommend the trip, as it was 
part of their great hospitality to shield their guest from any 


Experiences on the Italian Front 355 

** 

part of that danger which they were always ready to incur 
themselves. The only road to Monfalcone ran close to the 
Austrian position at the village of Ronchi, and afterwards kept 
parallel to it for some miles. I was told that it was only on 
odd days that the Austrian guns were active in this particular 
section, so determined to trust to luck that this might not he 
one of them. It proved, however, to he one of the worst on 
record, and we were not destined to see the dockyard to which 
we started. 

The civilian cuts a ridiculous figure when he enlarges upon 
small adventures which may come his way — adventures which 
the soldier endures in silence as part of his everyday life. 
On this occasion, however, the episode was all our own, and 
had a sporting flavour in it which made it dramatic. I know 
now the feeling of tense expectation with which the driven 
grouse whirrs onwards towards the butt. I have been behind 
the butt before now, and it is only poetic justice that I should 
see the matter from the other point of view. As we approached 
Ronchi we could see shrapnel breaking over the road in front 
of us, but we had not yet realized that it was precisely for 
vehicles that the Austrians were waiting, and that they had 
the range marked down to a yard. We went down the road 
all out at a steady fifty miles an hour. The village was near, 
and it seemed that we had got past the place of danger. We 
had, in fact, just reached it. At this moment there was a noise 
as if the whole four tyres had gone simultaneously, a most 
terrific bang in our very ears, merging into a second sound 
like a reverberating blow upon an enormous gong. As I glanced 
up I saw three clouds immediately above my head, two of them 
white and the other of a rusty red. The air was full of flying 
metal, and the road, as we were told afterwards by an observer, 
was all churned up by it. The metal base of one of the shells 
was found plumb in the middle of the road just where our 
motor had been. It was our pace that saved us. The motor 
was an open one, and the three shells burst, according to one 
of my Italian companions, who was himself an artillery officer, 
about ten metres above our heads. They threw forward, how¬ 
ever, and we, travelling at so great a pace, shot from under. 
Before they could get in another we had swung round the curve 


356 Memories and Adventures 

and under the lee of a hoitse. The good Colonel wrung my 
hand in silence. They were both distressed, these good soldiers, 
under the impression that they had led me into danger. As 
a matter of fact it was I who owed them an apology, since 
they had enough risks in the way of business without taking 
others in order to gratify the whim of a visitor. 

Our difficulties were by no means over. We found an am¬ 
bulance lorry and a little group of infantry huddled under 
the same shelter, with the expression of people who had been 
caught in the rain. The road beyond was under heavy fire 
as well as that by which we had come. Had the Ostro-Boches 
dropped a high explosive upon us they would have had a good 
mixed bag. But apparently they were only out for fancy 
shooting and disdained a sitter. Presently there came a lull 
and the lorry moved on, but we soon heard a burst of firing 
which showed that they were after it. My companions had 
decided that it was out of the question for us to finish our 
excursion. We waited for some time, therefore, and were able 
finally to make our retreat on foot, being joined later by the 
car. So ended my visit to Monfalcone, the place I did not 
reach. I hear that two 10,000-ton steamers were left on the 
stocks there by the Austrians, but were disabled before they 
retired. Their cabin basins and other fittings were adorning 
the Italian dug-outs. 

My second day was devoted to a view of the Italian moun¬ 
tain warfare in the Camic Alps. Besides the two great fronts, 
one of defence (Trentino) and one of offence (Isonzo), there 
were very many smaller valleys which had to be guarded. The 
total frontier line is over 400. miles, and it had all to be held 
against raids if not invasions. It was a most picturesque busi¬ 
ness. Far up in the Roccolana Valley I found the Alpini out¬ 
posts, backed by artillery which had been brought into the most 
wonderful positions. They had taken 8-inch guns where a 
tourist could hardly take his knapsack. Neither side could 
ever make serious progress, but there were continual duels, 
gun against gun, or Alpini against Jaeger. In a little wayside 
house was the brigade Head-quarters, and here I was enter¬ 
tained to lunch. It was a scene that I shall remember. They 
drank to England. I raised my glass to Italia irredenta — 


Experiences on the Italian Front 357 

mignt it soon be redenta. They all sprang to their feet and 
the circle of dark faces flashed into flame. They keep their 
souls and emotions, these people. I trust that ours may not 
become atrophied by self-suppression. 

The last day spent on the Italian front was in the Tren- 
tino. Prom Verona a motor drive of about twenty-five miles 
takes one up the valley of the Adige, and past a place of evil 
augury for the Austrians, the field of Rivoli. Finally, after 
a long drive of winding gradients, always beside the Adige, 
we reached Ala, where we interviewed the Commander of the 
sector, a man who has done splendid work during the recent 
fighting. “ By all means you can see my front. But no 
motor car, please. It draws fire, and others may be hit be¬ 
sides you.” We proceeded on foot, therefore, along a valley 
which branched at the end into two passes. In both very 
active fighting had been going on, and as we came up the 
guns were baying merrily, waking up most extraordinary echoes 
in the hills. It was difficult to believe that it was not thunder. 
There was one terrible voice that broke out from time to time 
in the mountains — the angry voice of the Holy Roman Em¬ 
pire. When it came all other sounds died down into nothing. 
It was — so I was told — the master gun, the vast 42-centi¬ 
metre giant which brought down the pride of Liege and Namur. 
The Austrians had brought one or more from Innsbruck. The 
Italians assure me, however, as we have ourselves discovered, 
that in trench work beyond a certain point the size of the 
guns makes little matter. 

We passed a burst dug-out by the roadside where a tragedy 
had occurred recently, for eight medical officers were killed 
in it by a single shell. There was no particular danger in the 
valley, however, and the aimed fire was all going across us to 
the fighting lines in the two passes above us. That to the 
right, the Valley of Buello, has seen some of the worst of the 
fighting. These two passes form the Italian left wing which 
has held firm all through. So has the right wing. It is only 
the centre which has been pushed in by the concentrated fire. 

When we arrived at the spot where the two valleys forked 
we were halted, and were not permitted to advance to the 
front trenches which lay upon the crests above us. There were 


358 Memories and Adventures 

about 1,000 yards between the adversaries. I have seen types 
of some of the Bosnian and Croatian prisoners, men of poor 
physique and intelligence, but the Italians speak with chival¬ 
rous praise of the bravery of the Hungarians and of the Aus¬ 
trian Jaeger. Some of their proceedings disgusted them, how¬ 
ever, and especially the fact that they used Russian prisoners 
to dig trenches under fire. There is no doubt of this, as some 
of the men were recaptured and were sent on to join their 
comrades in France. On the whole, however, it may be said 
that in the Austro-Italian war there was nothing which corre¬ 
sponded with the extreme bitterness of our Western conflict. 
The presence or absence of the Hun makes all the difference. 

It was a moment of depression at the Trentino front, as 
there had been a set back. I may flatter myself when I think 
that even one solitary figure in a British uniform striding 
about them was good at that particular time to their eyes. 
They read of allies, but they never saw any. If they had, 
we might have been spared the subsequent disaster at Capo- 
retto. Certainly I was heartily welcomed there, and surrounded 
all the time by great mobs of soldiers, who imagined, I suppose, 
that I was some one of importance. 

That night found me back at Verona, and next morning I 
was on my way to Paris with sheaves of notes about the Italian 
soldiers which would, I hoped, make the British public more 
sympathetic towards them. I was told afterwards by the For¬ 
eign Office that my mission had been an unmixed success. 

I have one other association with the Italian front which I 
may include here. It is embalmed in the Annals of the Psychic 
Research Society. I have several times in my life awakened 
from sleep with some strong impressions of knowledge gained 
still lingering in my brain. In one case, for example, I got 
the strange name Halderu so vividly that I wrote it down 
between two stretches of insensibility and found it on the out¬ 
side of my cheque book next morning. A month later I started 
for Australia in the s.s. Naldera of which I had then never 
heard. In this particular Italian instance I got the word 
Piave, absolutely ringing in my head. I knew it as a river 
some seventy miles to the rear of the Italian front and quite 
unconnected with the war. Hone the less the impression was 


Experiences on the Italian Front 359 

so strong that I wrote the incident down and had it signed 
by two witnesses. Months passed and the Italian battle line 
was rolled back to the Piave, which became a familiar word. 
Some said it would go back further. I was sure it would not. 
I argued that if the abnormal forces, whatever they may be, 
had taken such pains to impress the matter upon me, it must 
needs be good news which they were conveying, since I had 
needed cheering at the time. Therefore I felt sure that some 
great victory and the turning point of the war would come 
on the Piave. So sure was I that I wrote to my friend Mr. 
Lacon Watson, who was on the Italian front, and the incident 
got into the Italian press. It could have nothing but a good 
effect upon their morale. Finally it is a matter of history 
how completely my impression was justified, and how the most 
shattering victory of the whole war was gained at that very 
spot. 

There is the fact, amply proved by documents and beyond 
all possible coincidence. As to the explanation some may say 
that our own subconscious self has power of foresight. If so 
it is a singularly dead instinct, seldom or never used. Others 
may say that our “ dead ” can see further than we, and try 
when we are asleep and in spiritual touch with us, to give 
us knowledge and consolation. The latter is my own solution 
of the mystery. 


CHAPTER XXX 


EXPERIENCES ON THE FRENCH FRONT 

A Dreadful Reception — Robert Donald — Clemenceau — Soissons Cathe¬ 
dral — The Commandant’s Cane — The Extreme Outpost — Adonis — 
General Henneque — Cyrano in the Argonne —Tir Rapide — French 
Canadian — Wound Stripes. 

W IIEH I got back to Paris I bad a dreadful reception, 
for as I dismounted from the railway car a British 
military policeman in his flat red cap stepped up to me and 
saluted. 

“ This is bad news, sir,” said he. 

“ What is it ? ” I gasped. 

“ Lord Kitchener, sir. Drowned! ” 

“ Good God! ” I cried. 

“ Yes, sir.” Suddenly the machine turned for a moment 
into a human being. “ Too much talking in this war,” he 
said, and then in a moment was his stiff formal self again, and 
bustled off in search of deserters. 

Kitchener dead! The words were like clods falling on my 
heart. One could not imagine him dead, that centre of energy 
and vitality. With a heavy spirit I drove back to my old 
quarters at the Hotel Crillon, fuller than ever of red-epauletted, 
sword-clanking Russians. I could have cursed them, for it 
was in visiting their rotten, crumbling country that our hero 
had met his end. 

At the hotel I met by appointment Mr. Robert Donald, editor 
of the “ Daily Chronicle,” which paper had been publishing 
my articles. Donald, a fine, solid Scot, had the advantage of 
talking good French and being in thorough touch with French 
conditions. With him I called upon M. Clemenceau, who had 
not at that time played any conspicuous part in the war, save 
as a violent critic. He lived modestly in a small house which 
showed that he had not used his power in the State and in 
journalism to any unfair personal advantage. He entered, a 


Experiences on the French Front 361 

swarthy, wrinkled, white-haired man, with the face of a crabbed 
bulldog, and a cloth cap upon his head. He reminded me of 
old “ Jem ” Mace the bruiser, as I remember him in his final 
phase. His eyes looked angry, and he had a truculent, misr 
chievous smile. I was not impressed by the judgment he 
showed in our conversation, if a squirt on one side and Niagara 
on the other can he called conversation. He was railing loudly 
at the English rate of exchange between the franc and the 
pound, which seemed to me very like kicking against the 
barometer. Mr. Donald, who is a real authority upon finance, 
asked him whether France was taking the rouble at its face 
value; but the roaring voice, like a strong gramophone with 
a blunt needle, submerged all argument. Against Joffre he 
roared his reproaches, and intimated that he had some one 
else up his sleeve who could very soon bring the war to an 
end. A volcano of a man, dangerous sometimes to his friends, 
and sometimes to his foes. Let me acknowledge that I did 
not at the time recognize that he would ever he the opposite 
number to Lloyd George, and that the pair would lead us to 
victory. 

Donald had arranged that he and I should visit the French 
lines in the Argonne, which was as near as we could get to 
Verdun, where the battle was at its height. There were a 
few days to spare, however, and in the meantime I got a chance 
of going to the Soissons front, along with Leo Maxse, editor 
of the “ National Review,” and a M. Chevillon, who had writ¬ 
ten an excellent book on British co-operation in the war. 
Maxse, a dark little man, all nerves and ginger, might well 
plume himself that he was one of those who had foreseen the 
war and most loudly demanded preparation. Chevillon was a 
grey-bearded father-of-a-family type, and could speak English, 
which promoted our closer acquaintance, as my French is ad¬ 
venturous but not always successful. A captain of French 
Intelligence, a small, silent man, took the fourth place in the 
car. 

When our posterity hear that it was easy to run out from 
Paris to the line, to spend a full day on the line, and to be 
back again in Paris for dinner, it will make them appreciate 
how close a thing was the war. We passed in the first instance 


362 Memories and Adventures 

the Woods of Villars Cotteret, where the Guards had turned 
upon the German van on September 1, 1914. Eighty Guards¬ 
men were buried in the village cemetery, among them a nephew 
of Maxse’s, to whose tomb we now made pious pilgrimage. 
Among the trees on either side of the road I noticed other 
graves of soldiers, buried where they had fallen. 

Soissons proved to he a considerable wreck, though it was 
far from being an Ypres. But the cathedral would, and will, 
make many a patriotic Frenchman weep. These savages can¬ 
not keep their hands off a beautiful church. Here, absolutely 
unchanged through the ages, was the spot where St. Louis had 
dedicated himself to the Crusade. Every stone of it was holy. 
And now the lovely old stained-glass strewed the floor, and 
the roof lay in a huge heap across the central aisle. A dog 
was climbing over it as we entered. Ho wonder the French 
fought well. Such sights would drive the mildest man to des¬ 
peration. The abbe, a good priest, with a large humorous 
face, took us over his shattered domain. When I pointed 
out the desecration of the dog he shrugged his shoulders and 
said: “ What matter ? It will have to be reconsecrated, any¬ 
how.” He connived at my gathering up some splinters of 
the rich old stained-glass as souvenirs for my wife. He was 
full of reminiscences of the German occupation of the place. 
One of his personal anecdotes was indeed marvellous. It was 
that a lady in the local ambulance had vowed to kiss the first 
French soldier who re-entered the town. She did so, and it 
proved to be her husband. The abbe was a good, kind, truth¬ 
ful man — but he had a humorous face. 

A walk down a ruined street brought one to the opening 
of the trenches. There were marks upon the walls of the Ger¬ 
man occupation, “ Berlin-Paris,” with an arrow of direction, 
adorning one corner. At another the 76th Regiment had com¬ 
memorated the fact that they were there in 1870 and again in 
1914. If the Soissons folk are wise, they will keep these 
inscriptions as reminders to the rising generation. I could 
imagine, however, that their inclination will be to whitewash, 
fumigate, and forget. 

A sudden turn among some broken walls took one into the 
communication trench. Our guide was a Commandant of the 


Experiences on the French Front 363 

/* 

Staff, a tall, thin man with hard, grey eyes and a severe face. 
It was the more severe towards us, as I gathered that he had 
been deluded into the belief that only about one out of six 
of our soldiers went to the trenches. For the moment he 
was not friends with the English. As we went along, however, 
we gradually got on better terms, we discovered a twinkle in 
the hard, grey eyes, and the day ended with an exchange of 
walking-sticks between him and me and a renewal of the En¬ 
tente. May my cane grow into a marshal’s baton! 

A charming young artillery subaltern was our guide in that 
maze of trenches, and we walked and walked and walked, with 
a brisk exchange of compliments between the “ 75’s ” of the 
French and the “ 77’s ” of the Germans going on high over 
our heads. The trenches were boarded at the sides, and had a 
more permanent look than those of Flanders. Presently we 
met a fine, brown-faced, upstanding boy, as keen as a razor, 
who commanded this particular section. A little farther on 
a helmeted captain of infantry, who was an expert sniper, 
joined our little party, How we were at the very front trench. 
I had expected to see primeval men, bearded and shaggy. But 
the “ Poilus ” have disappeared. The men around me were 
clean and dapper to a remarkable degree. I gathered, how¬ 
ever, that they had their internal difficulties. On one board 
I read an old inscription: “ He is a Boche, but he is the 
inseparable companion of a French soldier.” Above was a 
rude drawing of a louse. 

I was led to a cunning loop-hole, and had a glimpse through 
it of a little framed picture of French countryside. There 
were fields, a road, a sloping hill beyond with trees. Quite close, 
about thirty or forty yards away, was a low, red-tiled house. 
“ They are there,” said our guide. “ That is their outpost. 
We can hear them cough.” Only the guns were coughing that 
morning, so we heard nothing; but it was certainly wonderful 
to be so near to the enemy and yet in such peace. I suppose 
wondering visitors from Berlin were brought up also to hear 
the French cough. Modern warfare has certainly some ex¬ 
traordinary sides. 

Then we were shown all the devices which a year of ex¬ 
perience had suggested to the quick brains of our Allies. Every 


364 Memories and Adventures 

form of bomb, catapult, and trench mortar was ready to hand. 
Every method of cross-fire had been thought out to an exact 
degree. There was something, however, about the disposition 
of a machine gun which disturbed the Commandant. He called 
for the officer of the gun. His thin lips got thinner and his 
grey eyes more austere as we waited. Presently there emerged 
an extraordinarily handsome youth, dark as a Spaniard, from 
some rabbit hole. He faced the Commandant bravely, and 
answered back with respect but firmness. “ Pourquoi ? ” asked 
the Commandant, and yet again “ Pourquoi % ” Adonis had 
an answer for everything. Both sides appealed to the big 
captain of snipers, who was clearly embarrassed. He stood 
on one leg and scratched his chin. Finally the Commandant 
turned away angrily in the midst of one of Adonis’ voluble 
sentences. His face showed that the matter was not ended. 
War is taken very seriously in the Erench Army, and any 
sort of professional mistake is very quickly punished. Many 
officers of high rank had been broken by the Erench during 
the war. There was no more forgiveness for the beaten Gen¬ 
eral than there was in the days of the Republic when the dele¬ 
gate of the Rational Convention, with a patent portable guil¬ 
lotine, used to drop in at Head-quarters to support a more 
vigorous offensive. 

It had come on to rain heavily, and we were forced to take 
refuge in the dug-out of the sniper. Eight of us sat in the 
deep gloom huddled closely together. The Commandant was 
still harping upon that ill-placed machine gun. He could not 
get over it. My imperfect ear for French could not follow 
all his complaints, but some defence of the offender brought 
forth a “ Jamais! Jamais! Jamais! ” which was rapped out 
as if it came from the gun itself. There were eight of us 
in an underground burrow, and some were smoking. Better 
a deluge than such an atmosphere as that. But if there was 
a thing upon earth which the Erench officer shied at it wa3 
rain and mud. The reason is that he was extraordinarily 
natty in his person. His charming blue uniform, his facings, 
his brown gaiters, boots and belts were always just as smart 
as paint. He was the dandy of the European War. I noticed 
officers in the trenches with their trousers carefully pressed. 



ON THE FRENCH FRONT. 

From Left: 'Cyrano”; A. Conan Doyle; Mr. Robert Donald; General Henneque. 

















I 

























Experiences on the French Front 365 

The rain had now stopped, and we climbed from our burrow. 
Again we were led down that endless line of communication 
trench, again we stumbled through the ruins, again we emerged 
into the street where our cars were awaiting us. Above our 
heads the sharp artillery duel was going merrily forward. The 
Trench were firing three or four to one, which had been my 
experience at every point I had touched upon the Allied front. 
Thanks to the extraordinary zeal of the Trench workers, espe¬ 
cially of the Trench women, and to the clever adoption of 
machinery by their engineers, their supplies were abundant. 

Our next expedition carried us to Chalons, where the Huns 
of old met disaster. Trom Chalons we drove some twenty 
miles to St. Menehould, and learned that the trenches were 
about ten miles north. On this expedition there were Donald 
and I with an extraordinary Spaniard, half Don Quixote, half 
Gipsy troubadour, flat hatted and clad in brown corduroy, with 
a single arm, having, as we heard, lost the other in some broil. 
As he spoke no tongue but his own we were never on terms 
with him. 

The front at the sector which we struck was under the con¬ 
trol of General Henneque of the 10th Division. A fine sol¬ 
dier this, and Heaven help Germany if he and his division 
had invaded it, for he was, as one could see at a glance, a 
man of iron who had been goaded to fierceness by all that 
his beloved country had endured. He was a man of middle 
size, swarthy, hawk-like, very abrupt in his movements, with 
two steel-grey eyes, which were the most searching that mine 
have ever met. His hospitality and courtesy to us were be¬ 
yond all bounds, but there is another side to him, and it is 
one which it were wiser not to provoke. In person he took 
us to his lines, passing through the usual shot-torn villages 
behind them. Where the road dipped down into the great 
forest there was one particular spot which was visible to the 
German artillery observers. The General mentioned it at 
the time, but his remark seemed to have no personal interest. 
We understood it better on our return in the evening. 

We then found ourselves in the depths of the woods — pri¬ 
meval woods of oak and beech in the deep clay soil that the 
great oak loves. There had been rain, and the forest paths 


366 Memories and Adventures 

were ankle deep in mire. \ Everywhere, to right and left, sol¬ 
diers’ faces, hard and rough from a year of open air, gazed 
up at us from their burrows in the ground. Presently an alert, 
blue-clad figure, stood in the path to greet us. It was the 
Colonel of the sector. He was ridiculously like Cyrano de 
Bergerac as depicted by the late M. Coquelin, save that his 
nose was of more moderate proportion. The ruddy colouring, 
the bristling, feline, full-ended moustache, the solidity of pose, 
the backward tilt of the head, the general suggestion of the 
bantam cock, were all there facing us as he stood amid the 
leaves in the sunlight. Gauntlets and a long rapier — nothing 
else was wanting. Something had amused Cyrano. His mous¬ 
tache quivered with suppressed mirth and his blue eyes were 
demurely gleaming. Then the joke came out. He had spotted 
a German working-party, his guns had concentrated on it, and 
afterwards he had seen the stretchers go forward. A grim 
joke, it may seem. But the French saw this war from a dif¬ 
ferent angle to us. If we had had the Boche sitting on our 
heads for two years, and were not quite sure whether we could 
ever get him off again, we should get Cyrano’s point of view. 

We passed in a little procession among the French soldiers, 
and viewed their multifarious arrangements. For them we 
were a little break in a monotonous life, and they formed 
up in lines as we passed. My own British uniform and the 
civilian dresses of my two companions interested them. As 
the General passed these groups, who formed themselves up 
in perhaps a more familiar manner than would have been 
usual in the British service, he glanced kindly at them with 
those singular eyes of his, and once or twice addressed them 
as “ Mes enfants.” One might conceive that all was “ go as 

you please” among the French. So it was as long as you 

went in the right way. When you strayed from it you knew 
it. As we passed a group of men standing on a low ridge 
which overlooked us there was a sudden stop. I gazed round. 
The General’s face was steel and cement. The eyes were cold 
and yet fiery, sunlight upon icicles. Something had happened. 
Cyrano had sprung to his side. His reddish moustache had 
shot forward beyond his nose, and it bristled out like that of 

an angry cat. Both were looking up at the group above us. 


Experiences on the French Front 367 

0* 

One wretched man detached himself from his comrades and 
sidled down the slope. No skipper and mate of a Yankee 
blood boat could have looked more ferociously at a mutineer. 
And yet it was all over some minor breach of discipline which 
was summarily disposed of by two days of confinement. Then 
in an instant the faces relaxed, there was a general buzz of 
relief, and w T e were back at “ Mes enfants ” again. 

Trenches are trenches, and the main specialty of those in 
the Argonne were that they were nearer to the enemy. In 
fact, there were places where they interlocked, and where the 
advanced posts lay cheek by jowl with a good steel plate to 
cover both cheek and jowl. We were brought to a sap-head 
where the Germans were at the other side of a narrow forest 
road. Had I leaned forward with extended hand and a Boche 
done the same we could have touched. I looked across, but 
saw only a tangle of wire and sticks. Even whispering was 
not permitted in those forward posts. 

When we emerged from these hushed places of danger 
Cyrano took us all to his dug-out, which was a tasty little 
cottage carved from the side of a hill and faced wfith logs. 
He did the honours of the humble cabin with the air of a 
seigneur in his chateau. There was little furniture, but from 
some broken mansion he had extracted an iron fire-back, which 
adorned his grate. It was a fine, mediaeval bit of work, with 
Venus, in her traditional costume, in the centre of it. It 
seemed the last touch in the picture of the gallant virile 
Cyrano. I only met him this once, nor shall I ever see him 
again, yet he stands a thing complete within my memory. 
Always in the cinema of memory he will walk the leafy paths 
of the Argonne, his fierce eyes searching for the Boche workers, 
his red moustache bristling over their annihilation. He seems 
a figure out of the past of France. 

That night we dined with yet another type of the French 
soldier, General Antoine, who commanded the corps of which 
my friend had one division. Each of these French generals 
had a striking individuality of his own wdrich I wish I could 
fix upon paper. Their only common point was that each 
seemed to be a rare good soldier. The Corps General was 
Athos with a touch of d’Artagnan. He was well over 6 feet 


368 Memories and Adventures 

high, bluff, jovial, with hu£e, upcurling moustache, and a voice 
that would rally a regiment. It was a grand figure, which 
should have been done by Van. Dyck, with lace collar, hand 
on sword, and arm akimbo. Jovial and laughing was he, but 
a stern and hard soldier was lurking behind the smiles. His 
name has appeared in history, and so has Humbert’s, who ruled 
all the army of which the other corps is a unit. Humbert was 
a Lord Robert’s figure, small, wiry, quick-stepping, all steel 
and elastic, with a short, upturned moustache, which one could 
imagine as crackling with electricity in moments of excite¬ 
ment like a cat’s fur. What he does or says is quick, abrupt, 
and to the point. He fires his remarks like pistol shots at this 
man or that. Once to my horror he fixed me with his hard 
little eyes and demanded; u Sherlock Holmes, est ce qu’il est 
un soldat dans l’armee Anglaise ? ” The whole table waited 
in an awful hush. “ Mais, mon general,” I stammered, “ il 
est trop vieux pour service.” There was general laughter, 
and I felt that I had scrambled out of an awkward place. 

And talking of awkward places, I had forgotten about that 
spot upon the road whence the Boche observer could see our 
motor-cars. He had actually laid a gun upon it, the rascal, 
and waited all the long day for our return. Ho sooner did 
we appear upon the slope than a shrapnel shell burst above us, 
but somewhat behind me, as well as to the left. Had it been 
straight the second car would have got it, and there might 
have been a vacancy in one of the chief editorial chairs in 
London. The General shouted to the driver to speed up, and 
we were soon safe from the German gunners. One got per¬ 
fectly immune to noises in these scenes, for the guns which 
surrounded you made louder crashes than any shell which 
burst about you. It is only when you actually saw the cloud 
over you that your thoughts came back to yourself, and that 
you realized that in this wonderful drama you might be a 
useless super, but none the less you were on the stage and not 
in the stalls. 

Next morning we were down in the front trenches again 
at another portion of the line. Far away on our right, from 
a spot named the Observatory, we could see the extreme left 
of the Verdun position and shells bursting on the Fille Morte. 


Experiences on the French Front 369 

To the north of us was a broad expanse of sunny France, nes¬ 
tling villages, scattered chateaux, rustic churches, and all as 
inaccessible as if it were the moon. It was a terrible thing 
this German bar — a thing unthinkable to Britons. To stand 
on the edge of Yorkshire and look into Lancashire feeling that 
it was in other hands, that our fellow-countrymen were suffer¬ 
ing there and waiting, waiting for help, and that we could 
not, after two years, come a yard nearer to them — would it 
not break our hearts ? Could I wonder that there was no 
smile upon the grim faces of those Frenchmen! But when 
the bar was broken, when the line swept forward, when French 
bayonets gleamed on those uplands and French flags broke 
from those village spires — ah, what a day that was! Men 
died that day from the pure delirious joy of it. 

Yet another type of French General took us round this 
morning! He, too, was a man apart, an unforgettable man. 
Conceive a man with a large, broad, good-humoured face, and 
two placid, dark, seal’s eyes which gazed gently into yours. 
He was young, and had pink cheeks and a soft voice. Such 
was one of the most redoubtable fighters of France, this Gen¬ 
eral of Division Dupont. His former Staff officers told me 
something of the man. He was a philosopher, a fatalist, im¬ 
pervious to fear, a dreamer of distant dreams amid the most 
furious bombardment. The weight of the French assault upon 
the terrible Labyrinth fell at one time upon the brigade which 
he then commanded. He led them day after day gathering up 
Germans with the detached air of the man of science who 
is hunting for specimens. In whatever shell-hole he might 
chance to lunch he had his cloth spread and decorated with 
wild flowers plucked from the edge. I wrote of him at the 
time: “ If Fate be kind to him, he will go far.” As a matter 
of fact, before the end of the war he was one of the most 
influential members of the General Staff, so my prophetic 
power was amply vindicated. 

From the Observatory we saw the destruction of a German 
trench. There had been signs of work upon it, so it was de¬ 
cided to close it down. It was a very visible brown streak a 
thousand yards away. The word was passed back to the “ 75’s ” 
in the rear. There was a “ tir rapide ” over our heads. My 


370 Memories and Adventures 

word, the man who stands fast under a “ tir rapide,” be he 
Boche, French or British, is a man of mettle! The mere pas¬ 
sage of the shells was awe-inspiring, at first like the screaming 
of a wintry wind, and then thickening into the howling of a 
pack of wolves. The trench was a line of terrific explosions. 
Then the dust settled down and all was still. Where were the 
ants who had made the nest? Were they buried beneath it? 
Or had they got from under ? bio one could say. 

There was one little gun which fascinated me, and I stood 
for some time watching it. Its three gunners, enormous hel- 
meted men, evidently loved it, and touched it with a swift 
but tender touch in every movement. When it was fired it 
ran up an inclined plane to take off the recoil, rushing up and 
then turning and rattling down again upon the gunners who 
were used to its ways. The first time it did it, I was standing 
behind it, and I don’t know which jumped quickest — the gun 
or I. 

French officers above a certain rank develop and show their 
own individuality. In the lower grades the conditions of serv¬ 
ice enforce a certain uniformity. The British officer is a Brit¬ 
ish gentleman first, and an officer afterwards. The French¬ 
man is an officer first, though none the less the gentleman stands 
behind it. One very strange type we met, however, in these 
Argonne Woods. He was a French-Canadian who had been 
a French soldier, had founded a homestead in far Alberta, and 
had now come back of his own will, though a naturalized 
Briton, to the old flag. lie spoke English of a kind, the 
quality and quantity being equally extraordinary. It poured 
from him and was, so far as it was intelligible, of the woolly 
Western variety. His views on the Germans were the most 
emphatic we had met. “ These Godam sons of ”— well, let 
us say “ Canines! ” he would shriek, shaking his fist at the 
woods to the north of him. A good man was our compatriot, 
for he had a very recent Legion of Honour pinned upon his 
breast. He had been put with a few men on Hill 285, a sort 
of volcano stuffed with mines, and was told to telephone when 
he needed relief. He refused to telephone, and remained there 
for three weeks. “ We sit like one rabbit in his hall,” he 
explained. He had only one grievance — there were many 


Experiences on the French Front 371 

wild boars in the forest, but the infantry were too busy to 
get them. “ The Godam Artillaree he get the wild pig! ” Out 
of his pocket he pulled a picture of a frame house with snow 
round it, and a lady with two children on the stoep. It was 
his homestead at Trochu, seventy miles north of Calgary. 

It was the evening of the third day that we turned our 
faces towards Paris once more. It was my last view of the 
French. The roar of their guns went far with me upon my 
way. I wrote at the time: “ Soldiers of France, farewell! 
In your own phrase, I salute you! Many have seen you who 
had more knowledge by which to judge your manifold virtues, 
many also who had more skill to draw you as you are, but never 
one, I am sure, who admired you more than I. Great was the 
French soldier, under Louis the Sun-King, great too under 
Kapoleon, but never was he greater than to-day.” 

But in spite of all their bravery only two things saved 
France, her field guns and the intervention of England. Surely 
she should have a reckoning with her pre-war military authori¬ 
ties. Imagine unwarlike Britain, protected by the sea, and 
yet having a high standard of musketry, heavy guns with every 
division, and khaki uniforms, while warlike France, under the 
very shadow of Germany, had poor musketry, primeval uni¬ 
forms and no heavy guns. As to her early views of strategy 
they were lamentable. Every British critic, above all Lord 
Kitchener, knew that the attack would swing round through 
Belgium. France concentrated all her preparation upon the 
Eastern frontier. It was clear also that the weaker power 
should be on the defensive and so bring her enemy by heavier 
losses down to her own weight. France attacked and broke 
herself in an impossible venture. There should have been a 
heavy reckoning against some one. The fate of England as 
well as of France was imperilled by the false estimates of the 
French General Staff. 

One small visible result of my journey was the establishment 
of wound stripes upon the uniforms of the British. I had 
been struck by this very human touch among the French, which 
gave a man some credit and therefore some consolation for 
his sufferings. I represented the matter when I came back. 
Lest I seem to claim more than is true, I append General 


372 


Memories and Adventures 


Robertson’s letter. The 'second sentence refers to that cam¬ 
paign for the use of armour which I had prosecuted so long, 
and with some success as regards helmets, though there the 
credit was mostly due to Dr. Saleeby, among civilians. The 
letter runs thus: 


. Was Office, 

August 14, 1916. 

Many thanks for sending me a copy of your little book. I 
will certainly see what can be done in regard to armour. You 
will remember that I took your previous tip as regards badges 
for wounded men. 

Yours very truly, 

W. R. Robertson. 


CHAPTEK XXXI 


BBEAKING THE HINDENBUBG LINE 

Lloyd George — My Second Excursion — The Farthest German Point — Sir 
Joseph Cook — Night before the Day of Judgment —The Final Battle 
— On a Tank — Horrible Sight — Speech to Australians — The Magic 
Carpet. 

I FIX'D in my diary that the Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd 
George, invited me to breakfast in April, 1917. Some 
third person was, I understand, to have been present, but he 
did not arrive, so that I found myself alone in the classic 
dining room of Ho. 10, Downing Street, while my host was 
finishing his toilet. Presently he appeared, clad in a grey 
suit, smart and smiling, with no sign at all that he bore the 
weight of the great European War upon his shoulders. Hoth- 
ing could have been more affable or democratic, for there was 
no servant present, and he poured out the tea, while I, from 
a side table, brought the bacon and eggs for both. He had 
certainly the Celtic power of making one absolutely at one’s 
ease, for there was no trace at all of pomp or ceremony — just 
a pleasant, smiling, grey-haired but very virile gentleman, with 
twinkling eyes and a roguish smile. Xo doubt there are other 
aspects, but that is how he presented himself that morning. 

He began by talking about the great loss which the country 
had sustained in Lord Kitchener’s death, speaking of him in 
a very kindly and human way. At the same time he was of 
opinion that long tropical service and the habit of always 
talking down to subordinates had had some effect upon his 
mind and character. He was a strange mixture of rather 
morose inactivity and sudden flashes of prevision which 
amounted to genius. He was the only man who had clearly 
foreseen the length of the war, and but for Turkey, Bulgaria, 
and other complications he probably overstated it at three 
years. There were times when he became so dictatorial as 
to be almost unbearable, and he had to be reminded at a 


374 Memories and Adventures 

Cabinet Council by Lloyd George bimself that he was in the 
presence of twenty men who were bis peers, and that he could 
not refuse them information or> act above their beads. I con¬ 
fess that it struck me as very natural that a big man with vital 
knowledge in his brain should hesitate in a world crisis to 
confide it to twenty men, and probably twenty wives, each 
of whom was a possible leak. In spite of his genius Kitchener 
was not accessible to new ideas. He could not see clearly 
why such enormous munitions were necessary. He opposed 
tanks. He was against the Irish and Welsh separate divisions. 
He refused the special flags which the ladies had worked for 
these divisions. He was as remote from sentiment as a steam 
hammer, and yet he was dealing with humans who can be 
influenced by sentiment. He obstructed in many things, par¬ 
ticularly in the Dardanelles. On the other hand, his steps in 
organizing the new armies were splendid, though he had at¬ 
tempted — vainly — to do away with the Territorials, another 
example of his blindness to the practical force of sentiment. 
Miss Asquith had said of him, “ If he is not a great man he 
is a great poster,” and certainly no one else could have moved 
the nation to such a degree, though the long series of provo¬ 
cations from the Germans had made us very receptive and 
combative. 

Lloyd George was justly proud of the splendid work of the 
Welsh Division at the front. He had been to Mametz Wood, 
the taking of which had been such a bloody, and also such a 
glorious, business. He listened with interest to an account 
which I was able to give him of some incidents in that fight, 
and said that it was a beautiful story. He had arranged for 
a Welsh painter to do the scene of the battle. 

He was interested to hear how I had worked upon my his¬ 
tory, and remarked that it was probably better done from 
direct human documents than from filed papers. He asked 
me whether I had met many of the divisional Generals, and 
on my saying that I had, he asked me if any had struck me 
as outstanding among their fellows. I said I thought they 
were a fine level lot, but that in soldiering it was impossible 
to say by mere talk or appearance who was the big man at a 
pinch. He agreed. He seemed to have a particular feeling 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 375 

towards General Tom Bridges, of the 19th Division, and 
shortly afterwards I noticed that he was chosen for the Amer¬ 
ican mission. 

I talked to him about my views as to the use of armour, 
and found him very keen upon it. He is an excellent listener, 
and seems honestly interested in what you say. He said he 
had no doubt that in the problem of armour lay the future 
of warfare, but how to carry it was the crux. He said that 
the soldiers always obstructed the idea — which was my ex¬ 
perience also — with a few notable exceptions. I mentioned 
General Watts of the 7th Division as being interested in ar¬ 
mour, and he agreed and seemed to know all about Watts who, 
though a “ dug-out,” was one of the finds of the war. 

He was much excited about the revolution in Russia, news 
of which had only just come through. The Guards had turned, 
and that meant that all had turned. The Tsar was good but 
weak. The general character and probable fate of the Tsarina 
were not unlike those of Marie Antoinette — in fact, the whole 
course of events was very analogous to the Trench Revolution. 
“ Then it will last some years and end in a Napoleon,” said 
I. He agreed. The revolt, he said, was in no sense pro- 
German. The whole affair had been Byzantine, and reminded 
one of the old histories. 

As I left he came back to armour, and said that he was 
about to see some one on that very subject. When I was in 
the hall it struck me that a few definite facts which I had in 
my head would be useful in such an interview, so, to the sur¬ 
prise of the butler, I sat down on the hall chair and wrote out 
on a scrap of paper a few headings which I asked him to give 
the Prime Minister. I don’t know if they were of any use. 
I came away reassured, and feeling that a vigorous virile hand 
was at the helm. 

I had not expected to see any more actual operations of 
the war, but early in September, 1918, I had an intimation 
from the Australian Government that I might visit their sec¬ 
tion of the line. Little did I think that this would lead to my 
seeing the crowning battle of the war. It was on September 
26 that we actually started, the party consisting of Sir Joseph 
Cook, Naval Minister of the Australian Commonwealth, Com- 


376 Memories and Adventures 

mander Latham, his aide-de-camp, who in civil life is a rising 
barrister of Melbourne, and Mr. Berry, soon to be Sir William 
Berry, proprietor of the u Sunday Times.” We crossed in a 
gale of wind, with a destroyer sheeted in foam on either side 
of the leave boat, each of us being obliged to wear life-belts. 
Several American newspaper men were on board, one of them 
an old friend, Bok, of the “ Ladies’ Home Journal.” It was 
too late to continue our journey when we got across, so we 
stayed at an inn that night, and were off to the Australian 
line at an early hour in the morning, our way lying through 
Abbeville and Amiens. The latter place was nearly deserted 
and very badly knocked about, far more so than I had ex¬ 
pected. 

The enemy had, as we knew, been within seven miles of 
Amiens — it was the Australian line which held the town 
safe, and the allied cause from desperate peril if not ruin. 
It did not surprise us, therefore, that we soon came upon signs 
of fighting. A little grove was shown us as the absolute farthest 
ripple of the advanced German wave. A little farther on was 
the sheltered town of Villers Brettoneux, with piles of empty 
cartridge cases at every corner to show where snipers or ma¬ 
chine guns had lurked. A little farther on a truly monstrous 
gun — the largest I have ever seen — lay near the road, 
broken into three pieces. It was bigger to my eyes than the 
largest on our battleships, and had been brought up and 
mounted by the Germans just before the tide had turned, 
which was on July 5. In their retreat they had been com¬ 
pelled to blow it up. A party of British Guardsmen were 
standing round it examining it, and I exchanged a few words 
with them. Then we ran on through ground which was in¬ 
tensely interesting to me, as it was the scene of Gough’s re¬ 
treat, and I had just been carefully studying it at home. 
There was the Somme on our left, a very placid, slow-moving 
stream, and across it the higher ground where our III Corps 
had been held up on the historical August 8, the day which 
made Ludendorff realize, as he himself states, that the war 
was lost. On the plain over which we were moving the Aus¬ 
tralian and Canadian Divisions had swept, with the tanks 
leading the British line, as Boadicea’s chariots did of old. 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 377 

Though I had not been over the ground before, I had visual¬ 
ized it so clearly in making notes about the battle that I could 
name every hamlet and locate every shattered church tower. 
Presently a hill rose on the left, which I knew to be Mount 
St. Quentin, the taking of which by the Australians was one 
of the feats of the war. It had been defended by picked 
troops, including some of the Prussian Guards, but they were 
mostly taken or killed, though a flanking attack by the British 
Yeomanry Division had something to do with the result. 

The old walled town of Peronne, sacred for ever to Sir Wal¬ 
ter, Quentin Durward, and the archers of the Scots Guards, 
lay before us, almost if not quite surrounded by the river, the 
canal, and broad moats. It seemed an impossible place to 
take, which is of course the greatest possible trap in modern 
warfare, since something occurring fifty miles away may place 
troops behind you and cut you off. Here our long drive fin¬ 
ished, and we were handed over to the care of Colonel Bennett 
commanding the camp, a tall, bluff warrior who, if he had 
doffed his khaki and got into a velvet tunic, would have been 
the exact image of the veteran warrior in Scott’s novel. He 
was indeed a veteran, having fought, if I remember right, not 
only in South Africa, but even in the Australian Suakim con¬ 
tingent. 

A little wooden hut was put at our disposal, and there we 
slept, Sir Joseph Cook and I, with a small partition between 
us. I was bitterly cold, and so I can tell was he, for I could 
hear him tossing about just as I did for warmth. We had 
neither of us made the discovery that you may pile all the 
clothes you like on the top of you, but so long as there is only 
one layer of canvas beneath you, you are likely to be cold. 
We don’t usually realize that the mattress is also part of the 
bed-clothes. We both got little sleep that night. 

Next morning, September 28, we were off betimes, for we 
had much to see, the old town for one thing, which I vowed 
I would visit again in time of peace. We descended Mount 
St. Quentin and saw ample evidence of the grim struggle that 
had occurred there. There were many rude graves, some of 
them with strange inscriptions. One of them, I was told, 
read: “Here lies a German who met two diggers.” The 


378 Memories and Adventures 

Australian Tommy was of course universally known as a dig¬ 
ger. They make a rough, valiant, sporting but rude-handed 
crew. They went through the prisoners for loot, and even the 
officers were ransacked. Colonel Bennett told me that a 
Colonel of the Germans was impudent when he came into his 
presence, so Bennett said: “ Mend your manners, or I will 
hand you over to the diggers! ” They were waiting outside 
the tent for just such a chance. One German had an iron 
cross which was snatched from him by an Australian. The 
German shaped up to the man in excellent form and knocked 
him down. The other Australians were delighted, gave him 
back his cross, and made him quite a hero. I expect the looter 
had been an unpopular man. 

The younger Australian officers were all promoted from the 
ranks, and many of them had their own ideas about English 
grammar. Bennett told me that he tried to get the reports 
better written. One subaltern had reported: “As I came 
round the traverse I met a Bosch and we both reached for our 
guns, but he lost his block and I got him.” Bennett returned 
this for emendation. It came back: “As I came round the 
traverse I met a German, and we both drew our automatic 
pistols, but he lost his presence of mind and I shot him.” I 
think I like the first style best. 

I lunched that day at the Head-quarters of Sir John Mon- 
ash, an excellent soldier who had done really splendid work, 
especially since the advance began. Indeed, it was his own 
action on July 5 which turned the tide of retreat. He showed 
that the long line of fighting Jews which began with Joshua 
still carries on. One of the Australian Divisional Generals, 
Rosenthal, was also a Jew, and the Head-quarters Staff was 
full of eagle-nosed, black-haired warriors. It spoke well for 
them and well also for the perfect equality of the Australian 
system, which would have the best man at the top, be he who 
he might. My brother was acting as Assistant Adjutant-Gen¬ 
eral to General Butler with the III British Corps on the left 
of the Australians, and they had kindly wired for him, so 
that I had the joy of having him next me at lunch, and he 
invited me to join the Head-quarters mess of his corps for 
dinner. 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 379 

It was a wonderful experience that dinner. The great ad¬ 
vance was to he next morning, when it was hoped that the 
Hindenburg Line, which was practically the frontier of Ger¬ 
many, would be carried. There were only six who dined in 
that little farm-house messroom: Butler himself with hard 
composed face, his head of sappers, head of gunners, my 
brother, the first and second Staff officers, a little group of 
harassed and weary men. Yet there was no word of the huge 
drama upon the edge of which we were standing. Every now 
and then a telephone tinkled in the next room, a Staff officer 
rose, there were a few short words, a nod, and the incident 
was closed. It was a wonderful example of quiet self-control. 
I said to my brother, when we were alone: “ Don’t you think 
I am out of the picture at such a moment talking about such 
frivolous things?” “Eor God’s sake keep on at it,” he said. 
“ It is just what they need. Give their brains something new.” 
So I tried to do so and we had a memorable evening. 

I shall never forget the drive hack of ten miles in a pitch- 
dark night, with not a gleam anywhere save that far aloft two 
little gold points glimmered now and again, like the far-off 
headlights of a motor transferred suddenly to the heavens. 
These were British aeroplanes, so lit to distinguish them from 
the German marauders. The whole eastern horizon was yel¬ 
low-red with gun-fire, and the distant roar of the artillery 
preparation was like the Atlantic surge upon a rock-bound 
coast. Along the road no lights were permitted, and several 
times out of the black a still blacker gloom framed itself into 
some motor-lorry with which only our cries saved a collision. 
It was wonderful and awesome, the eve of the day of judg¬ 
ment when Germany’s last solid defence was to be smashed, and 
she was to be left open to that vengeance which she had so long 
provoked. 

We were awakened early, part of our party getting away 
to some point which they imagined would be more adventurous 
than that to which we seniors should be invited, though in the 
sequel it hardly proved so. They saw much, however, and 
one of them described to me how one of the first and saddest 
sights was that of eighteen splendid young Americans lying 
dead and lonely by the roadside, caught in some unlucky shell 


380 


Memories and Adventures 


burst. Mr. Cook, Commahder Latham, and I bad been placed 
under the charge of Captain Plunket, a twice-wounded Aus¬ 
tralian officer, who helped us much during the varied adven¬ 
tures of our exciting day. 

The general programme of attack was already in our minds. 
Two American divisions, the 27th and 30th, one from New 
York, the other from the South, were to rush the front line. 
The Australian divisions were then to pass over or through 
them and carry the battle-front forward. Already, as we ar¬ 
rived on the battle-field, the glad news came back that the 
Americans had done their part, and that the Australians had 
just been unleashed. Also that the Germans were standing to 
it like men. 

As our car threaded the crowded street between the ruins 
of Templeux we met the wounded coming back, covered cars 
with nothing visible save protruding boots, and a constant 
stream of pedestrians, some limping, some with bandaged arms 
and faces, some supported by Red Cross men, a few in pain, 
most of them smiling grimly behind their cigarettes. Amid 
them came the first clump of prisoners, fifty or more, pitiable 
enough, and yet I could not pity them, the weary, shuffling, 
hang-dog creatures, with no touch of nobility in their features 
or their bearing. 

The village was full of Americans and Australians, extraor¬ 
dinarily like each other in type. One could well have lin¬ 
gered, for it was all of great interest, but there were even 
greater interests ahead, so we turned up a hill, left our car, 
which had reached its limit, and proceeded on foot. The road 
took us through a farm, where a British anti-aircraft battery 
stood ready for action. Then we found open plain, and went 
forward, amid old trenches and rusty wire, in the direction of 
the battle. 

We had now passed the heavy gun positions, and were among 
the field guns, so that the noise was deafening. A British 
howitzer battery was hard at work, and we stopped to chat with 
the Major. His crews had been at it for six hours, but were in 
great good humour, and chuckled mightily when the blast of 
one of their guns nearly drove in our ear-drums, we having got 
rather too far forward. The effect was that of a ringing box 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 381 

/.* 

on the exposed ear — with which valediction we left our grin¬ 
ning British gunners and pushed on to the east, under a 
screaming canopy of our own shells. The wild, empty waste 
of moor was broken by a single shallow quarry or gravel-pit, 
in which we could see some movement. In it we found an 
advanced dressing station, with about a hundred American 
and Australian gunners and orderlies. There were dug-outs in 
the sides of this flat excavation, and it had been an American 
battalion Head-quarters up to a few hours before. We were 
now about 1,000 yards from the Hindenburg Line, and I 
learned with emotion that this spot was the Egg Redoubt, one 
of those advanced outposts of General Gough’s army which 
suffered so tragic and glorious a fate in that great military 
epic of March 21 — one of the grandest in the whole war. 
The fact that we were now actually standing in the Egg Re¬ 
doubt showed me, as nothing else could haves done, how com¬ 
pletely the ground had been recovered, and how the day of 
retribution was at hand. 

We were standing near the eastward lip of the excavation, 
and looking over it, when it was first brought to our attention 
that it took two to make a battle. Up to now we had seen only 
one. How two shells burst in quick succession forty yards in 
front of us, and a spray of earth went into the air. “ Whizz- 
bangs,” remarked our soldier-guide casually. Personally, I 
felt less keenly interested in their name than in the fact that 
they were there at all. 

We thought we had done pretty well to get within 1,000 
yards of the famous line, but now came a crowning hit of good 
fortune, for an Australian gunner captain, a mere lad, hut a 
soldier from his hawk’s eyes to his active feet, volunteered to 
rush us forward to some coign of vantage known to himself. 
So it was Eastward Ho! once more, still over a dull, barren 
plain sloping gently upwards, with little sign of life. Here 
and there was the quick fluff of a bursting shell, hut at a com¬ 
fortable distance. Suddenly ahead of us a definite object broke 
the skyline. It was a Tank, upon which the crew were work¬ 
ing with spanners and levers, for its comrades were now far 
ahead, and it would fain follow. This, it seems, was the 
grandstand which our young gunner had selected. On to the 


382 Memories and Adventures 

top of it we clambered —'and there, at our very feet, and less 
than 500 yards away, was the rift which had been torn a few 
hours before in the Hindenburg Line. On the dun slope be¬ 
yond it, under our very eyes, was even now being fought a 
part of that great fight where at last the children of light were 
beating down into the earth the forces of darkness. It was 
there. We could see it. And yet how little there was to see! 

The ridge was passed, and the ground sloped down, as dark 
and heathy as Hindhead. In front of us lay a village. It was 
Bellicourt. The Hindenburg position ran through it. It lay 
quiet enough, and with the unaided eye one could see rusty red 
fields of wire in front of it. But the wire had availed nothing, 
nor had the trench that lurked behind it, for beyond it, beside 
the village of ISTauroy, there was a long white line, clouds of 
pale steam-like vapour spouting up against a dark, rain-sodden 
sky.' “ The Boche smoke barrage,” said our guide. “ They 
are going to counter-attack.” Only this, the long, white, 
swirling cloud upon the dark plain told of the strife in front 
of us. With my glasses I saw what looked like Tanks, but 
whether wrecked or in action I could not say. There was the 
battle — the greatest of battles — but nowhere could I see a 
moving figure. It is true that all the noises of the pit seemed 
to rise from that lonely landscape, but noise was always with 
us, go where we would. 

The Australians were ahead where that line of smoke 
marked their progress. In the sloping fields, which at that 
point emerged out of the moor, the victorious Americans, who 
had done their part, were crouching. It was an assured vic¬ 
tory upon which w T e gazed, achieved so rapidly that we were 
ourselves standing far forward in ground which had been won 
that day. The wounded had been brought in, and I saw no 
corpses. On the left the fight was very severe, and the Ger¬ 
mans, who had been hidden in their huge dug-outs, were doing 
their usual trick of emerging and cutting off the attack. So 
much we gathered afterwards, but for the moment it was the 
panorama before us which was engrossing all our thoughts. 

Suddenly the German guns woke up. I can but pray that 
it was not our group which drew their fire upon the half- 
mended tank. Shell after shell fell in its direction, all of them 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 383 

/.* 

short, but creeping forward with each salvo. It was time for 
us to go. If any man says that without a call of duty he likes 
being under aimed shell-fire, he is not a man whose word I 
would trust. Some of the shells hurst with a rusty-red out- 
flame, and we were told that they were gas shells. I may say 
that before we were admitted on to the battle-field at all, we 
were ushered one by one into a room where some devil’s pipkin 
was bubbling in the corner, and were taught to use our gas¬ 
masks by the simple expedient of telling us that if we failed 
to acquire the art then and there a very painful alternative 
was awaiting us. 

We made our way back, with no indecent haste, but certainly 
without loitering, across the plain, the shells always getting 
rather nearer, until we came to the excavation. Here we had 
a welcome rest, for our good gunner took us into his cubby-hole 
of a dug-out, which would at least stop shrapnel, and we shared 
his tea and dried beef, a true Australian soldier’s meal. 

The German fire was now rather heavy, and our expert host 
explained that this meant that he had recovered from the shock 
of the attack, had reorganized his guns, and was generally his 
merry self once more. Prom where we sat we could see heavy 
shells bursting far to our rear, and there was an atmosphere of 
explosion all round us, which might have seemed alarming 
had it not been for the general chatty afternoon-tea appear¬ 
ance of all these veteran soldiers with whom it was our privi¬ 
lege to find ourselves. A group of sulky-looking German pris¬ 
oners sat in a corner, while a lank and freckled Australian 
soldier, with his knee sticking out of a rent in his trousers, was 
walking about with four watches dangling from his hand, en¬ 
deavouring vainly to sell them. Par be it from me to assert 
that he did not bring the watches from Sydney and choose this 
moment for doing a deal in them, but they were heavy old 
Teutonic time-pieces, and the prisoners seemed to take a rather 
personal interest in them. 

As we started on our homeward track we came, first, upon 
the British battery which seemed to be limbering up with some 
idea of advancing, and so lost its chance of administering a 
box on our other ear. Farther still we met our friends of the 
air guns, and stopped again to exchange a few impressions. 


384 Memories and Adventures 

They had nothing to fire at,' and seemed bored to tears, for the 
red, white and blue machines were in full command of the 
sky. Soon we found our motor waiting in the lee of a ruined 
house, and began to thread our way back through the wonder¬ 
fully picturesque streams of men — American, Australian, 
British, and German — who were strung along the road. 

And then occurred a very horrible incident. One knew, of 
course, that one could not wander about a battle-field and not 
find oneself sooner or later involved in some tragedy, but we 
were now out of range of any but heavy guns, and their shots 
were spasmodic. We had halted the car for an instant to gather 
up two German helmets which Commander Latham had seen 
on the roadside, when there was a very heavy burst close ahead 
round a curve in the village street. A geyser of red brick-dust 
flew up into the air. An instant later our car rounded the cor¬ 
ner. None of us will forget what we saw. There was a tangle 
of mutilated horses, their necks rising and sinking. Beside 
them a man with his hand blown off was staggering away, the 
blood gushing from his upturned sleeve. He was moving round 
and holding the arm raised and hanging, as a dog holds an in¬ 
jured foot. Beside the horses lay a shattered man, drenched 
crimson from head to foot, with two great glazed eyes looking 
upwards through a mask of blood. Two comrades were at hand 
to help, and we could only go upon our way with the ghastly 
picture stamped for ever upon our memory. The image of 
that dead driver might well haunt one in one’s dreams. 

Once through Templeux and on the main road for Peronne 
things became less exciting, and we drew up to see a column of 
900 prisoners pass us. Each side of the causeway was lined 
by Australians, with their keen, clear-cut, falcon faces, and 
between lurched these heavy-jawed, beetle-browed, uncouth 
louts, new caught and staring round with bewildered eyes at 
their debonnaire captors. I saw none of that relief at getting 
out of it which I have read of; nor did I see any signs of 
fear, but the prevailing impression was an ox-like stolidity and 
dullness. It was a herd of beasts, not a procession of men. It 
was indeed farcical to think that these uniformed bumpkins 
represented the great military nation, while the gallant figures 
who lined the road belonged to the race which they had despised 


Breaking the Hindenburg Line 385 

as being unwarlike. Time and Fate between them have a 
pretty sense of humour. One of them caught my eye as he 
passed and roared out in guttural English, “ The old Jairman 
is out! ” They were the only words I heard them speak. French 
cavalry troopers, stern, dignified, and martial, rode at either 
end of the bedraggled procession. 

They were great soldiers, these Australians. I think they 
would admit it themselves, but a spectator is bound to confirm 
it. There was a reckless dare-devilry, combined with a spice 
of cunning, which gave them a place of their own in the Im¬ 
perial ranks. They had a great advantage too, in having a 
permanent organization, the same five divisions always in the 
same corps, under the same chief. It doubled their military 
value — and the same applied equally, of course, to the Cana¬ 
dians. None the less, they should not undervalue their British 
comrades or lose their sense of proportion. I had a chance of 
addressing some 1,200 of them on our return that evening, 
and while telling them all that I thought of their splendid 
deeds, I ventured to remind them that 72 per cent of the men 
engaged and 76 per cent of the casualties were Englishmen of 
England. 

I think that now, in these after-war days, the whole world 
needs to be reminded of this fact as well as the Australians did. 
There has been, it seems to me, a systematic depreciation of 
what the glorious English, apart from the British, soldiers 
did. England is too big to be provincial, and smaller minds 
sometimes take advantage of it. At the time some of the 
Australian papers slanged me for having given this speech to 
their soldiers, but I felt that it needed saying, and several of 
their officers thanked me warmly, saying that as they never 
saw anything save their own front, they were all of them los¬ 
ing their sense of proportion. I shall not easily forget that 
speech, I standing on a mound in the rain, the Australian sol¬ 
diers with cloaks swathed round them like brigands, and half 
a dozen aeroplanes, returning from the battle, circling over¬ 
head, evidently curious as to what was going on. It seems to 
me now like some extraordinary dream. 

Such was my scamper to the Australian front. It was as if 
some huge hand had lifted me from my study table, placed me 


386 Memories and Adventures 

where I could see what I was writing about, and then within 
four days laid me down once more before the familiar table, 
with one more wonderful experience added to my record. 

And then at last came the blessed day of Armistice. I was 
in a staid London hotel at eleven o’clock in the morning, most 
prim of all the hours of the day, when a lady, well-dressed and 
conventional, came through the turning doors, waltzed slowly 
round the hall with a flag in either hand, and departed without 
saying a word. It was the first sign that things were happen¬ 
ing. I rushed out into the streets, and of course the news was 
everywhere at once. I walked down to Buckingham Palace 
and saw the crowds assembling there, singing and cheering. 
A slim, young girl had got elevated on to some high vehicle, 
and was leading and conducting the singing as if she was some 
angel in tweeds just dropped from a cloud. In the dense 
crowd I saw an open motor stop with four middle-aged men, 
one of them a hard-faced civilian, the others officers. I saw 
this civilian hack at the neck of a whisky bottle and drink it 
raw. I wish the crowd had lynched him. It was the moment 
for prayer, and this beast was a blot on the landscape. On the 
whole the people were very good and orderly. Later more ex¬ 
uberant elements got loose. They say that it was when the 
Australian wounded met the War Office flappers that the foun¬ 
dations of solid old London got loosened. But we have little 
to be ashamed of, and if ever folk rejoiced we surely had the 
right to do so. We did not see the new troubles ahead of us, 
but at least these old ones were behind. And we had gained 
an immense reassurance. Britain had not weakened. She was 
still the Britain of old. 


CHAPTER XXXII 


THE PSYCHIC QUEST 

I HAVE not obtruded the psychic question upon the reader, 
though it has grown in importance with the years, and 
has now come to absorb the whole energy of my life. I can¬ 
not, however, close these scattered memories of my adventures 
in thought and action without some reference, however incom¬ 
plete, to that which has been far the most important thing in 
my life. It is the thing for which every preceding phase, my 
gradual religious development, my hooks, which gave me an 
introduction to the public, my modest fortune, which enables 
me to devote myself to unlucrative work, my platform work, 
which helps me to convey the message, and my physical 
strength, which is still sufficient to stand arduous tours and to 
fill the largest halls for an hour and a half with my voice, 
have each and all been an unconscious preparation. Eor thirty 
years I have trained myself exactly for the role without the 
least inward suspicion of whither I was tending. 

I cannot in the limited space of a chapter go into very 
lengthy detail or complete argument upon the subject. It is 
the more unnecessary since I have already in my psychic vol¬ 
umes outlined very clearly how I arrived at my present knowl¬ 
edge. Of these volumes the first and second, called respec¬ 
tively “ The Hew Revelation ” and “ The Vital Message,” 
show how gradual evidence was given me of the continuation 
of life, and how thorough and long were my studies before I 
was at last beaten out of my material agnostic position and 
forced to admit the validity of the proofs. 

In the days of universal sorrow and loss, when the voice of 
Rachel was heard throughout the land, it was borne in upon 
me that the knowledge which had come to me thus was not for 
my own consolation alone, but that God had placed me in a 
very special position for conveying it to that world which 
needed it so badly. 


388 Memories and Adventures 

I found in the movement many men who saw the truth as 
clearly as I did; but such was the clamour of the “ religious,” 
who were opposing that which is the very essence of living re¬ 
ligion, of the “ scientific,” who broke the first laws of Science 
by pronouncing upon a thing which they had not examined, 
and of the Press, who held up every real or imaginary rascality 
as being typical of a movement which they had never under¬ 
stood, that the true men were abashed and shrank from the 
public exposition of their views. It was to combat this that 
I began a campaign in 1916 which can only finish when all is 
finished. 

One grand help I had. My wife had always been averse 
from my psychic studies, deeming the subject to be uncanny 
and dangerous. Her own experiences soon convinced her to 
the contrary, for her brother, who was killed at Mons, came 
back to us in a very convincing way. Prom that instant she 
threw herself with all the whole-hearted energy of her gener¬ 
ous nature into the work which lay before us. 

A devoted mother, she was forced often to leave her chil¬ 
dren; a lover of home, she was compelled to quit it for many 
months at a time; distrustful of the sea, she joyfully shared 
my voyages. We have now travelled a good 50,000 miles upon 
our quest. We have spoken face to face with a quarter of a 
million of people. Her social qualities, her clear sanity, her 
ardent charity, and her gracious presence upon the platforms 
all united with her private counsel and sympathy, have been 
such an aid to me that they have turned my work into a joy. 
The presence of our dear children upon our journeys has also 
lightened them for both of us. 

I began our public expositions of the subject by three years 
of intermittent lecturing in my country, during which period 
I visited nearly every town of importance, many of them twice 
and thrice. Everywhere I found attentive audiences, critical, 
as they should be, but open to conviction. I roused antago¬ 
nism only in those who had not heard me, and there were dem¬ 
onstrations outside the doors, but never in the halls. I cannot 
remember a single interruption during that long series of ad¬ 
dresses. It was interesting to notice how I was upheld, for 
though I was frequently very weary before the address, and 


The Psychic Quest 389 

though my war lectures had often been attended by palpitation 
of the heart, I was never once conscious of any fatigue during 
or after a lecture upon psychic subjects. 

On August 13, 1920, we started for Australia. In propor¬ 
tion to her population she had lost almost as heavily as we 
during the war, and I felt that my seed would fall upon fruit¬ 
ful ground. I have written all details of this episode in my 
“ Wanderings of a Spiritualist,” in which the reader will find 
among other things some evidences of that preternatural help 
which went with us in our journeys. I addressed large audi¬ 
ences in all the big towns of Australia and Hew Zealand. An 
unfortunate shipping strike prevented me from reaching Tas¬ 
mania, but otherwise the venture was an unalloyed success. 
Contrary to expectation I was able to pay all the expenses of 
our large party (we were seven) and to leave a balance behind 
me to help the successor whom I might choose. 

At the end of March, 1921, we were back in Paris again, 
where, greatly daring, I lectured in French upon psychic sub¬ 
jects. Our stay at home was not a very long one, for urgent 
invitations had come from America, where the Spiritual move¬ 
ment had fallen into a somewhat languishing state. On April 
1, 1922, our whole party started for the States. What hap¬ 
pened to us I have recorded in “ Our American Adventure.” 
Suffice it to say that the trip was very successful, and that from 
Boston to Washington, and from Hew York to Chicago, I 
spoke in all the larger cities and brought about a great revival 
of interest in the subject. We were back in England at the 
beginning of July, 1922. 

I was by no means satisfied about America, however, as we 
had not touched the great West, the land of the future. There¬ 
fore we set forth again in March, 1923, getting back in August. 
Our adventures, which were remarkable upon the psychic side, 
are recorded in “ Our Second American Adventure.” When 
I returned from that journey I had travelled 55,000 miles in 
three years, and spoken to quarter of a million of people. I 
am still unsatisfied, however, for the Southern States of the 
Union have not been touched, and it is possible that we may 
yet make a journey in that direction. 

I have placed on record our experiences, and no doubt they 


390 Memories and Adventures 

have little interest at the>moment for the general public, hut 
the day will come, and that speedily, when people will under¬ 
stand that this proposition for which we are now fighting is 
far the most important thing for two thousand years in the 
history of the world, and when the efforts of the pioneers will 
have a very real interest to all who have sufficient intelligence 
to follow the progress of human thought. 

I am only one of many working for the cause, hut I hope 
that I may claim that I brought into it a combative and ag¬ 
gressive spirit which it lacked before, and which has now so 
forced it upon public attention that one can hardly pick up a 
paper without reading some comment upon it. If some of 
these papers are hopelessly ignorant and prejudiced, it is not a 
bad thing for the cause. If you have a bad case, constant pub¬ 
licity is a misfortune, but if you have a good one, its goodness 
will always assert itself, however much it may be misrepre¬ 
sented. 

Many Spiritualists have taken the view that since we know 
these comforting and wonderful things, and since the world 
chooses not to examine the evidence, we may be content with 
our own happy assurance. This seems to me an immoral 
view. 

If God has sent a great new message of exceeding joy down 
to earth, then it is for us, to whom it has been clearly revealed, 
to pass it on at any cost of time, money and labour. It is not 
given to us for selfish enjoyment, but for general consolation. 
If the sick man turns from the physician, then it cannot be 
helped, but at least the healing draught should be offered. 

The greater the difficulty in breaking down the wall of 
apathy, ignorance and materialism, the more is it a challenge 
to our manhood to attack and ever attack in the same bulldog 
spirit with which Foch faced the German lines. 

I trust that the record of my previous life will assure the 
reader that I have within my limitations preserved a sane and 
balanced judgment, since I have never hitherto been extreme 
in my views, and since what I have said has so often been en¬ 
dorsed by the actual course of events. But never have I said 
anything with the same certainty of conviction with which I 
now say that this new knowledge is going to sweep the earth 


The Psychic Quest 391 

and to revolutionize human views upon every topic save only 
on fundamental morality, which is a fixed thing. 

All modern inventions and discoveries will sink into insig¬ 
nificance beside those psychic facts which will force themselves 
within a few years upon the universal human mind. 

The subject has been obscured by the introduction of all 
sorts of side issues, some of interest hut not vital, others quite 
irrelevant. There is a class of investigator who loves to wan¬ 
der round in a circle, and to drag you with him if you are 
weak enough to accept such guidance. He trips continually 
over his own brains, and can never persuade himself that the 
simple and obvious explanation is also the true one. His intel¬ 
lect becomes a positive curse to him, for he uses it to avoid 
the straight road and to fashion out some strange devious path 
which lands him at last in a quagmire, whilst the direct and 
honest mind has kept firmly to the highway of knowledge. 
When I meet men of this type, and then come in contact with 
the lowly congregations of religious Spiritualists, I think al¬ 
ways of Christ’s words when He thanked God that He had re¬ 
vealed these things to babes and withheld them from the wise 
and the prudent. I think also of a dictum of Baron Reichen- 
bach: “ There is a scientific incredulity which exceeds in stu¬ 
pidity the obtuseness of the clodhopper.” 

But what I say in no way applies to the reasonable researcher 
whose experiences are real stepping-stones leading to his fixed 
conclusion. There must to every man be this novitiate in 
knowledge. The matter is too serious to be taken without due 
intellectual conviction. 

It must not be imagined that I entirely deny the existence 
of fraud. But it is far less common than is supposed, and as 
for its being universal, which is the theory of the conjurers 
and some other critics, such an opinion is beyond reason or 
argument. In an experience with mediums which has been ex¬ 
celled by very few living men, and which has embraced three 
continents, I have not encountered fraud more than three or 
four times. 

There is conscious and unconscious fraud, and it is the ex¬ 
istence of the latter which complicates the question so badly. 
Conscious fraud usually arises from a temporary failure of 


392 Memories and Adventures 

real psychic power, and & consequent attempt to replace it by 
an imitation. Unconscious fraud comes in that curious half¬ 
way state which I have called the “ half-trance condition 
when the medium seems normal, and yet is actually hardly re¬ 
sponsible for his actions. 

At such a time the process by which his personality leaves 
his body seems to have set in, and his higher qualities have 
already passed, so that he can apparently no longer inhibit the 
promptings received from the suggestion of those around him, 
or from his own unchecked desires. Thus one will find me¬ 
diums doing stupid and obvious things which expose them to 
the charge of cheating. Then if the observer disregards these 
and waits, the true psychic phenomena of unmistakable charac¬ 
ter will follow as he sinks more deeply into trance. 

This was, I gather, noticeable in the case of Eusapia Pala- 
dino, but I have seen it with several others. In those cases 
where a medium has left the cabinet, and is found wandering 
about among the sitters, as has happened with Mrs. Corner, 
with Madame d’Esperance, and with Craddock — all of them 
mediums who have given many proofs of their real powers — 
I am convinced that the very natural supposition that they are 
fraudulent is really quite a mistaken one. 

When, on the other hand, it is found that the medium has 
introduced false drapery or accessories, which has sometimes 
occurred, we are in the presence of the most odious and blas¬ 
phemous crime which a human being can commit. 

People ask me, not unnaturally, what it is which makes me 
so perfectly certain that this thing is true. That I am per¬ 
fectly certain is surely demonstrated by the mere fact that I 
have abandoned my congenial and lucrative work, left my 
home for long periods at a time, and subjected myself to all 
sorts of inconveniences, losses, and even insults, in order to 
get the facts home to the people. 

To give all my reasons would be to write a book rather than 
a chapter, but I may say briefly that there is no physical sense 
which I possess which has not been separately assured, and 
that there is no conceivable method by which a spirit could 
show its presence which I have not on many occasions experi¬ 
enced. In the presence of Miss Besinnet as medium and of 


The Psychic Quest 393 

/* 

several witnesses I have seen my mother and my nephew, young 
Oscar Hornung, as plainly as ever I saw them in life — so 
plainly that I could almost have counted the wrinkles of the 
one and the freckles of the other. 

In the darkness the face of my mother shone up, peaceful, 
happy, slightly inclined to one side, the eyes closed. My wife 
upon my right and the lady upon my left both saw it as clearly 
as I did. The lady had not known my mother in life but she 
said, “ How wonderfully like she is to her son,” which will 
show how clear was the detail of the features. 

On another occasion my son came hack to me. Six persons 
heard his conversation with me, and signed a paper afterwards 
to that effect. It was in his voice and concerned itself with 
what was unknown to the medium, who was hound and breath¬ 
ing deeply in his chair. If the evidence of six persons of 
standing and honour may not he taken, then how can any hu¬ 
man fact be established ? 

My brother, General Doyle, came hack with the same me¬ 
dium, hut on another occasion. He discussed the health of his 
widow. She was a Danish lady, and he wanted her to use a 
masseur in Copenhagen. He gave the name. I made inquiries 
and found that such a man did exist. Whence came this 
knowledge? Who was it who took so close an interest in the 
health of this lady ? If it was not her dead husband then who 
was it ? 

All fine-drawn theories of the subconscious go to pieces be¬ 
fore the plain statement of the intelligence, “ I am a spirit. I 
am Innes. I am your brother.” 

I have clasped materialized hands. 

I have held long conversations with the direct voice. 

I have smelt the peculiar ozone-like smell of ectoplasm. 

I have listened to prophecies which were quickly fulfilled. 

I have seen the “ dead ” glimmer up upon a photographic 
plate which no hand but mine had touched. 

I have received through the hand of my own wife, notebooks 
full of information which was utterly beyond her ken. 

I have seen heavy articles swimming in the air, untouched 
by human hand, and obeying directions given to unseen opera¬ 
tors. 


394 Memories and Adventures 

I have seen spirits w£lk round the room in fair light and 
join in the talk of the company. 

I have known an untrained. woman, possessed by an artist 
spirit, to produce rapidly a picture, now hanging in my draw¬ 
ing-room, which few living painters could have bettered. 

I have read hooks which might have come from great think¬ 
ers and scholars, and which were actually written by unlettered 
men who acted as the medium of the unseen intelligence, so 
superior to his own. I have recognized the style of a dead 
writer which no parodist could have copied, and which was 
written in his own handwriting. 

I have heard singing beyond earthly power, and whistling 
done with no pause for the intake of breath. 

I have seen objects from a distance projected into a room 
with closed doors and windows. 

If a man could see, hear, and feel all this, and yet remain 
unconvinced of unseen intelligent forces around him, he would 
have good cause to doubt his own sanity. Why should he 
heed the chatter of irresponsible journalists, or the head-shak¬ 
ing of inexperienced men of science, when he has himself had 
so many proofs ? They are babies in this matter, and should be 
sitting at his feet. 

It is not, however, a question to be argued in a detached 
and impersonal way, as if one were talking of the Baconian 
theory or the existence of Atlantis. It is intimate, personal, 
and vital to the last degree. 

A closed mind means an earthbound soul, and that in turn 
means future darkness and misery. If you know what is com¬ 
ing, you can avoid it. If you do not, you run grave risk. 
Some Jeremiah or Savonarola is needed who will shriek this 
into the ears of the world. A new conception of sin is needed. 
The mere carnal frailties of humanity, the weaknesses of the 
body, are not to be lightly condoned, but are not the serious 
part of the human reckoning. It is the fixed condition of 
mind, narrowness, bigotry, materialism — in a word, the sins 
not of the body, but of the spirit, which are the real permanent 
things, and condemn the individual to the lower spheres until 
he has learnt his lesson. 

We know this from our rescue circles when these poor souls 


The Psychic Quest 395 

come back to bewail their errors and to learn those truths 
which they might have learnt here, had their minds not been 
closed by apathy or prejudice. 

The radical mistake which science has made in investigat¬ 
ing the subject is that it has never troubled to grasp the fact 
that it is not the medium who is producing the phenomena. 
It has always treated him as if he were a conjurer, and said, 
“ Do this or do that,” failing to understand that little or noth¬ 
ing comes from him, but all or nearly all comes through him. 
I say “ nearly ” all, for I believe that some simple phenomena, 
such as the rap, can within limits be produced by the me¬ 
dium’s own will. 

It is this false view of science which has prevented sceptics 
from realizing that a gentle and receptive state of mind on the 
part of sitters and an easy natural atmosphere for the medium 
are absolutely essential in order to produce harmony with the 
outside forces. 

If in the greatest of all seances, that of the upper room on 
the day of Pentecost, an aggressive sceptic had insisted upon 
test conditions of his own foolish devising, where would the 
rushing wind and the tongues of fire have been ? “ All with 

one accord,” says the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, and 
that is the essential condition. I have sat with saintly people, 
and I too have felt the rushing wind, seen the flickering tongues 
and heard the great voice, but how could such results come 
where harmony did not reign ? 

That is the radical mistake which science has made. Men 
know well that even in her own coarse, material work the pres¬ 
ence of a scrap of metal may upset the whole balance of a great 
magnetic installation, and yet they will not take the word of 
those who are in a position to speak from experience that a 
psychic condition may upset a psychic experiment. 

But indeed when we speak of science in this connection it 
is a confusion of thought. The fact that a man is a great zoolo¬ 
gist like Lankester, or a great physicist like Tyndall or Fara¬ 
day, does not give his opinion any weight in a subject which 
is outside his own specialty. There is many an unknown Smith 
and Jones whose twenty years of practical work have put him 
in a far stronger position than that of these intolerant scien- 


396 Memories and Adventures 

tists; while as to the real Spiritualist leaders, men of many 
experiences and much reading and thought, it is they who are 
the real scientific experts who ’are in a position to teach the 
world. One does not lose one’s judgment when one becomes 
a Spiritualist. One is as much a researcher as ever, hut one 
understands better what it is that one is studying and how to 
study it. 

This controversy with bumptious and ignorant people is a 
mere passing thing which matters nothing. The real con¬ 
troversy, which does matter very much, is with the Continental 
school who study ectoplasm and other semi-material manifesta¬ 
tions, hut who have not got the length of seeing independent 
spirit behind them. Richet, Schrenck-Notzing and other great 
investigators are still in this midway position, and Flammarion 
is little more advanced. Richet goes the length of admitting 
that he has assured himself by personal observation of the 
materialized form that it can walk and talk and leave moulds 
of its hands. So far he has gone. And yet even now he clings 
to the idea that these phenomena may be the externalization of 
some latent powers of the human body and mind. 

Such an explanation seems to me to be the desperate defence 
of the last trench by one of those old-time materialists, who 
say with Brewster: “ Spirit is the last thing which we will 
concede,” adding as their reason “ it upsets the work of fifty 
years.” It is hard when a man has taught all his life that 
the brain governs spirit to have to learn after all that it may 
be spirit which acts independently of the human brain. But 
it is their super-materialism which is the real difficulty with 
which we now have to contend. 

And what is the end of it all ? 

I have no idea. How could those who first noted the elec¬ 
tric twitching of muscles foresee the Atlantic cable or the arc 
lamp ? Our information is that some great shock is coming 
shortly to the human race which will finally break down its 
apathy, and which will be accompanied by such psychic signs 
that the survivors will be unable any longer to deny the truths 
which we preach. 

The real meaning of our movement will then be seen, for 
it will become apparent that we have accustomed the public 


The Psychic Quest 397 

* * 

mind to such, ideas, and provided a body of definite teaching, 
both scientific and religious, to which they can turn for guid¬ 
ance. 

As to the prophecy of disaster, I admit that we have to be 
on our guard. Even the Christ circle was woefully deceived, 
and declared confidently that the world would not survive their 
own generation. Various creeds, too, have made vain predic¬ 
tions of the end of the world. 

I am keenly aware of all this, and also of the difficulty in 
reckoning time when seen from the other side. But, making 
every allowance for this, the information upon the point has 
been so detailed, and has reached me from so many entirely 
independent sources, that I have been forced to take it seri¬ 
ously, and to think that some great watershed of human experi¬ 
ence may be passed within a few years — the greatest, we are 
told, that our long-suffering race has yet encountered. 

People who have not gone into the subject may well ask, 
“ But what do you get out of it ? How are you the better ? ” 
We can only answer that all life has changed to us since this 
definite knowledge has come. Ho longer are we shut in by 
death. We are out of the valley and up on the ridge, with 
vast clear vistas before us. 

Why should we fear a death which we know for certain is 
the doorway to unutterable happiness ? 

Why should we fear our dear ones’ death if we can be so 
near to them afterwards ? 

Am I not far nearer to my son than if he were alive and 
serving in that Army Medical Service which would have taken 
him to the ends of the earth ? There is never a month, often 
never a week, that I do not commune with him. Is it not evi¬ 
dent that such facts as these change the whole aspect of life, 
and turn the grey mist of dissolution into a rosy dawn ? 

You may say that we have already all these assurances in 
the Christian revelation. It is true, and that is why we are 
not anti-Christian so long as Christianity is the teaching of 
humble Christ and not of his arrogant representatives. 

Every form of Christianity is represented in our ranks, 
often by clergymen of the various denominations. But there 
is nothing precise in the definitions of the other world as given 


398 


Memories and Adventures 


in the holy writings. The information we have depicts a 
heaven of congenial work and of congenial play, with every 
mental and physical activity of .life carried on to a higher plane 
— a heaven of art, of science, of intellect, of organization, of 
combat with evil, of home circles, of flowers, of wide travel, 
of sports, of the mating of souls, of complete harmony. This 
is what our “ dead ” friends describe. 

On the other hand we hear from them, and sometimes di¬ 
rectly, of the hells, which are temporary spheres of purifica¬ 
tion. We hear of the mists, the darkness, the aimless wander¬ 
ings, the mental confusion, the remorse. 

“ Our condition is horrible,” wrote one of them to me re¬ 
cently at a seance. These things are real and vivid and prov¬ 
able to us. That is whv we are an enormous force for the 

t/ 

resuscitation of true religion, and why the clergy take a heavy 
responsibility when they oppose us. 

The final result upon scientific thought is unthinkable, save 
that the sources of all force would be traced rather to spiritual 
than to material causes. 

In religion one can perhaps see a little more clearly. The¬ 
ology and dogma would disappear. 

People would realize that such questions as the number of 
persons in God, or the process of Christ’s birth, have no hear¬ 
ing at all upon the development of man’s spirit, which is the 
sole object of life. 

All religions would be equal, for all alike produce gentle, un¬ 
selfish souls who are God’s elect. Christian, Jew, Buddhist, 
and Mohammedan would shed their distinctive doctrines, fol¬ 
low their own high teachers on a common path of morality, and 
forget all that antagonism which has made religion a curse 
rather than a blessing to the world. 

We shall be in close touch with other-world forces, and 
knowledge will supersede that faith which has in the past 
planted a dozen different signposts to point in as many differ¬ 
ent directions. 

Such will be the future, so far as I can dimly see it, and 
all this will spring from the seed which now we tend and water 
amid the cold blasts of a hostile world. 

Do not let it be thought that I claim any special leadership 


399 


The Psychic Quest 

in this movement. I do what I can, but many others have done 
what they could — many humble workers who have endured 
loss and insult, but who will come to be recognized as the mod¬ 
ern Apostles. For my part, I can only claim that I have been 
an instrument so fashioned that I have had some particular 
advantages in getting this teaching across to the people. 

That is the work which will occupy, either by voice or pen, 
the remainder of my life. What immediate shape it will take 
I cannot say. Human plans are vain things, and it is better 
for the tool to lie passive until the great hand moves it once 


more. 










INDEX 


“ Admibable Cbichton, The,” Bar¬ 
rie, 247 

“ Adventures of the Priory School, 
The,” 102 

“ Adventures of the Second Stain, 
The,” 102 

“Adventures of the Tired Captain, 
The,” 102 

Aeroplane, the author’s one experi¬ 
ence in an, 283 

Algonquin Park, Canada, 300-301 
Allen, Grant, and his unfinished 
“Hilda Wade”, 254-255; his ag¬ 
nosticism and his last days, 255; 
as a popular scientist, 256 
“ All the Year Bound,” contribu¬ 
tions to, 67 

“ Amazing Marriage, The,” Mere¬ 
dith, 244 

Amery, Lionel, 208 
Ancestry, 1-4 

Antoine, General, 367, 368 
Arctic, seven months in the, on a 
whaler, 29-41 
Armistice Day, 386 
Armour, suggestions during World 
War for use of, for troops, 332- 
333 

Asquith, 241 

Athletics, work in the interest of, 
229-231 

Australian sector of the front, a 
visit to the, 375-386 

“ Backwateb of Life,” Payn, 256 
Balfour, Arthur James, first meet¬ 
ing with, 238-239; his home at 
Whittinghame, 239-241; abhor¬ 
rence of cowardice, 240; interest 
in psychic matters, 241 
Ball, Mr., experiments in thought 
transference with, 78 
Balloon ascension, delights of a, 
282-283 


Bampton, Lord, conflicting charac¬ 
teristics of, 260 

Barrett, William, and telepathy, 78 
Barrie, Sir James M., parody on 
Sherlock Holmes, 97-100; a visit 
with, at Kirriemuir, 246-247; 
dramatic work, 247; his “ The 
Admirable Crichton ”, 247; an un¬ 
fortunate dramatic venture with, 
248-249 

Barrington, Sir Eric, 186 
Baseball, opinion of the game of, 
287-288 

Bell, Professor Joseph, 20-21; Sher¬ 
lock Holmes based on, 69 
Bergmann, Doctor, and the demon¬ 
stration of the Koch cure, 82, 83 
Berlin, demonstration of the Koch 
cure in, 82-84 
“ Beyond the City,” 93 
Billiards, the supposed analogy be¬ 
tween golf and, 271; ascertaining 
one’s “decimal” in, 272; experi¬ 
ences with the game, 272-273 
Birkenhead, Lord, 231 
“ Blackwoods,” contributions to, 68 
Blavatsky, Madame, 81 
Boer War, the shadow of the, 147; 
first reverses of the, 148; organ¬ 
izing the Langman Hospital for 
the, 149-154; press correspondents 
in the, 156; days with the army 
in the, 160-173; dum-dum bullets 
in the, 159, 183 

Books, favourite, in boyhood, 7 
Boxing, keen relish for the manly 
art of, 265; some experiences in, 
265-266; from the national point 
of view, 266-267; champions of 
old and of to-day compared, 267; 
its influence in France, 268 
Boyhood days, 5-7 
“ Boy’s Own Paper, The,” contribu¬ 
tions to, 67 


402 ' Index 


“Brigadier Gerard” stories, x 115, 
121; dramatization of, 227-228 
“ British. Campaign in France and 
Flanders, The,” 326-327 
British Olympic Committee, 229 
British front in the World War, on 
the, 335-352 

Brown, Professor Crum, 19 
Buller, Sir Redvers H., 174 
Burnham, Lord, 238, 239 
“Bush Villa,” Southsea, 75, 87 
Business, unfortunate and fortunate 
ventures in, 234-235 
Butler, General, dinner at headquar¬ 
ters of the Third Corps with, 379 

Cambridge, Duke of, 152, 153 
Canada, a trip through, in 1914, 
287, 292-303 

Capetown, South Africa, 154 
“ Captain of the Polestar,” 67 
Carnic Alps, the warfare in the, 
356-357 

Cassidy, Father, the kindly princi¬ 
pal at Hodder, 8 

“ Cause and Conduct of the War in 
South Africa, The,” inception of 
the idea of writing, 184; financing 
the scheme, 185-188; the several 
translations of, 188-192; beneficial 
effect of publication of, 192; dis¬ 
position of surplus earnings of, 
192-194; 204 
Caux, Switzerland, 120 
“Chambers’ Journal” accepts au¬ 
thor’s first story, 24 
Channel Tunnel, 311, 312; feasibil¬ 
ity and value of a, 314-317 
Childers, Erskine, 208 
Christian faith, author’s changing 
views of the, 26-27 
Churchill, Winston, 317, 332, 335 
Civilian Reserve, formation of the, 
323; disbandment, 324 
Classics, early distaste and later 
fondness for the, 9 
Clemenceau, Georges, 360-361 
Collins, Wilkie, 256 
Conan, Michael, author’s grand¬ 
uncle and godfather, 15, 16 
Conan, Miss. See Doyle, Mbs. 
John 


Conan Doyle, the steam trawler, in 
the World War, 331 
Congo Association, work for the 
amelioration of conditions in the 
Belgian Congo, 228-229 
Constantinople, a visit to, 222 
“ Cornhill,” contributions to, 67, 68, 
75; 89 

Coronation Oath, protest against 
form of, 220-221 

Corporal punishment in school days, 
5, 10 

Cricket, early recollections of, 273; 
getting into first-class, 273-275; 
two unusual experiences at, 275- 
276; some memorable matches, 
276-277; with J. M. Barrie’s 
team, 278-279; creditable records 
in bowling, 279 

“ Crime of the Congo, The,” 229 
Cromer, Lord, impressions of, 123 
Crowborough, removal to, 215 
Crowborough Company, Sixth Royal 
Sussex Volunteer Regiment, 324- 
329 

Cullingwortn, Doctor, friendship 
with, at Edinburgh University, 
52; strange character of, 52-54; 
author’s association with, 54-58 
“ Curious Experience of the Patter¬ 
son Family in the Island of Uffa,” 
102 

Curzon, Lady, establishing a prece¬ 
dent in etiquette with, 259 

“ Daily Telegraph, The,” article 
on the Koch cure in, 84 
“ Danger,” article in “ The Strand 
Magazine,” 310 

Davos, Switzerland, 115, 119, 120 
“ Desert Dream, A,” 124 
“ Dicky Doyle’s Diary,” 2 
Divorce laws, work for reform in 
the, 231-232 

Doctor, determination to become a, 
17 

“ Doings of Raffles Haw, The,” 88 
Donald, Robert, of the “ Daily 
Chronicle,” 360-361 
Dorando and the great Marathon 
Race of 1908, 223-225 
“Dorian Grey,” Wilde, 73, 74 


Index 


j r 

Doyle, Annette, author's sister, 5, 
17; death of, 91 

Doyle, Arthur Conan, birth, 1; an¬ 
cestry, 1 -4; boyhood days, 5-7; 
the preparatory school at Hod- 
der, 8; the Jesuit public school at 
Stonyhurst, 8-12; school-mates, 
11; first evidence of a literary 
streak, 11-12; a year at school in 
Austria, 12-14; feeling toward 
the Jesuits, 14-15; first visit to 
Paris, 15-16; adopts medicine as 
a profession, 17; enters Edin¬ 
burgh University Medical School, 
18; college life, 18-21; outside 
work in spare time, 21-24; first 
story accepted by “ Chambers’,” 
24; his father’s characteristics, 
24-25; his spiritual unfolding and 
the Catholic Church, 25-27; a 
whaling voyage in the Arctic 
Ocean, 29-41; the ship’s company 
on the Hope, 30-32; hunting seals, 
33-36; physical development, 41; 
ship's surgeon on the Mayurnba to 
West Africa, 42-51; experiences 
on the West Coast, 45-50; fire at 
sea, 50-51; professional associa¬ 
tion with an eccentric character, 
52-58; in practice at Soutlisea, 
59-61; joined by his brother In- 
nes, 61-62; comedy and tragedy 
in practice, 62-64; marriage, 64- 
66; developing literary interests, 
67-68; genesis of “Sherlock 
Holmes,” 69-70; “ Micah Clarke,” 
71; James Payn, Oscar Wilde 
and others, 72-74; “The White 
Company,” 74-75; first ventures 
in psychic studies, 77-81; birth of 
daughter Mary, 81; the Koch 
tuberculosis cure, 81-84; and W. 
T. Stead, 82; advice from Mal¬ 
colm Morris, 84-85; first public 
speaking, 85-86; leaving Ports¬ 
mouth, 87; a winter in Vienna, 
88-89; as an eye specialist in 
London, 89-90; contributions to 
the magazines, 90; virulent in¬ 
fluenza, 90-91; literature for a 
livelihood, 91; “The Refugees,” 
92-93; and the death of Sherlock 


403 

Holmes, 93-94; sidelights on 
Sherlock Holmes, 96-110; ven¬ 
tures in the drama, 96-97; col¬ 
laboration with Sir James Barrie, 
97; and Barrie’s parody on 
Holmes, 97-100; fact and fiction 
regarding Sherlock Holmes, 100- 
110; birth of his son Kingsley, 
111; joins the Psychical Research 
Society, 111; and the literary life 
of London, 111-113; “A Straggler 
of ’15” and Henry Irving, 113- 
114; serious illness of Mrs. 
Doyle, 114-115; to Davos, Switz¬ 
erland, 115; beginning of the 
“Brigadier Gerard” stories, 115; 
lecturing tour in the United 
States, 116-119; a strenuous win¬ 
ter, 117-118; anti-British feeling 
in the States, 118; back to Davos 
and Caux, 119-120; locating in 
Hindhead, 121; to Egypt in win¬ 
ter of 1896, 121; some notable 
men in Egypt, 122-124; a trip to 
the Salt Lakes, 125-128; the war 
against the Mahdi, 130; to the 
front as correspondent pro-tem., 

130- 138; incidents of the trip, 

131- 137; dinner with Kitchener, 
137; return from the frontier, 
138; the house in Hindhead, 140; 
literary work, 140-141; religious 
unrest, 141-142; psychic experi¬ 
ences, 142-143; and the little Doc¬ 
tor, 144-146; the shadow of South 
Africa, 146-147; the Boer War of 
1899, 148; early reverses, 148; 
and the Langman Hospital serv¬ 
ice, 149-150; experiments with 
rifle fire, 150-152; and the Duke 
of Cambridge, 152-153; in South 
Africa, 153-154; inoculation for 
enteric fever, 154; Boer prison¬ 
ers, 155; locating the hospital in 
Bloemfontein, 155-157; outbreak 
of enteric fever, 157-159; dum¬ 
dum bullets, 159; days at the 
front with the army, 159-170; re¬ 
turn to the hospital, 170-173; 
temporary illness, 174-175; quel¬ 
ling a mutiny in the unit, 175- 
176; to Pretoria and Johannes- 


404 • • Index 


Doyle, Arthur Conan, Continued 
burg, 176-180; interview with 
Lord Roberts, 178; an unusual 
surgical operation, 181; return to 
England, 182-183; misrepresenta¬ 
tion concerning England and the 
Boer War, 184; an appeal to 
World Opinion, 184-194; and 
“ The Cause and Conduct of the 
War in South Africa,” 187-188; 
translations and distribution of 
the pamphlet, 188-192; success of 
the undertaking, 192-194; experi¬ 
ences in politics, 195-203; writes 
“The Great Boer War,” 204; and 
the accolade of Knighthood, 205; 
interest in rifle clubs, 207-208; 
on the use of cavalry in war, 208; 
completion of “Sir Nigel,” 209; 
death of Mrs. Doyle, 209; and the 
Edalji Case, 209-215; second 
marriage, 215; removal to Crow- 
borough, 215; and the Oscar 
Slater Case, 216-220; protests the 
form of the Coronation Oath, 
220-221; visits Egypt, Constanti¬ 
nople and Greece, 222-223; the 
Marathon Race of 1908, 223-225; 
and the evil administration of the 
Belgian Congo, 228; work in the 
interest of athletics in England, 
229-231; and reform of the Di¬ 
vorce Laws, 231-232; continued 
interest in psychic matters, 232; 
ventures in speculation, 233-235; 
acquaintance with some notable 
people, 236-261; impressions of 
Theodore Roosevelt, 236-238; and 
Arthur James Balfour, 238-241; 
Asquith and Lord Haldane, 241- 
242; visit with George Meredith, 
242-245; acquaintance with Kip¬ 
ling, 245-246; friendship with Sir 
James M. Barrie, 246-249; and 
Sir Henry Irving, 249-250; on 
George Bernard Shaw, 250-251; 
long acquaintance with H. G. 
Wells, 251-252; and his brother- 
in-law, William Hornung, 252; 
correspondence with Stevenson, 
253-254; and Grant Allen, 255- 
256; appreciation of James Payn, 


256-257; dinners with Sir Henry 
Thompson, 258; settling a ques¬ 
tion of etiquette, 259; impres¬ 
sions of Sir Henry Hawkins, 260- 
261; and Sir Francis Jeune, 261; 
recollections of sport, 262-286; 
views on flat-racing and steeple¬ 
chasing, 262-263; on hunting for 
pleasure, 263-264; a liking for 
fishing, 264-265; on the noble 
sport of boxing, 265-268; and the 
Jeffries-Johnson fight, 268-269; 
love for Rugby football, 269-270; 
and the game of golf, 270-271; 
the lure of billiards, 271-273; 
recollections of cricket, 273-279; 
some motoring experiences, 280- 
282; ski-ing in Switzerland, 283- 
285; a trip to the Canadian Rock¬ 
ies in 1914, 287-300; in New 
York, 287-289; through the land 
of Parkman, 289-292; on the won¬ 
ders of Western Canada, 292-298; 
in Jasper and Algonquin Parks, 
298-301; on the destiny of Can¬ 
ada, 301-302; disbelief in the Ger¬ 
man menace, 304-305; partici¬ 
pates in the Prince Henry Compe¬ 
tition, 305-308; effect of Bern- 
hardi’s writings on, 308; “ Eng¬ 
land and the Next War” by, 308- 
310; interviewed by General 
Henry Wilson, 310-313; medita¬ 
tions on methods of attack and 
defence, 313-314; urges building 
of Channel Tunnel, 314-317; on 
the lack of foresight in the Ad¬ 
miralty, 317-319; suggests life¬ 
saving devices for the Navy, 319- 
321; a letter from William Red¬ 
mond, 321; organizing the Volun¬ 
teers, 323-324; in the Sixth Royal 
Sussex Volunteer Regiment, 324- 
326; on the writing of “The Brit¬ 
ish Campaign in France and 
Flanders,” 326-327; conditions in 
England during the World War, 
327-328; communications with 
British prisoners, 329-330; lunch¬ 
eon with the Empress Eugenie, 
331-332; suggests individual ar¬ 
mour for troops, 332-333; heavy 


* 



Index 


losses of his kith and kin in the 
War, 333-334; to the British 
front in 1916, 335-352; crossing 
to France with General Kobert- 
son, 337-338; a trip through the 
trenches, 339-341; a medal pres¬ 
entation in Bethune, 341-342; in 
an observation post, 342-343; a 
meeting with his brother Innes, 
343; the Ypres Salient at night, 
344; the destruction and desola¬ 
tion in Ypres, 345-346; on the 
Scharpenburg, 346-347; luncheon 
with Sir Douglas Haig, 347-349; 
an artillery duel at close quar¬ 
ters, 349-350; meets his son 
Kingsley at Mailly, 350; two 
days in Paris, 351-352; a mission 
to the Italian front, 353-359; at¬ 
tempts to reach Monfalcone, 354- 
356; in the Carnic Alps, 356-357; 
a day in the Trentino, 357-358; a 
spiritual intimation of the vic¬ 
tory on the Piave, 358-359; ef¬ 
fect of the death of Kitchener, 
360; an interview with Clemen- 
ceau, 360-361; on the French 
front, 361-371; in Soissons, 362; 
through the French trenches, 362- 
365; in the front line, 367; the 
saviours of France, 371; break¬ 
fast and an interesting talk with 
Lloyd George, 373-375; a visit to 
the Australian front, 375-385; a 
second meeting with his brother 
Innes, 378-379; breaking the Hin- 
denburg Line, 380-383; in London 
on Armistice Day, 386; the 
psychic quest, 387-399; public ex¬ 
positions of his psychic belief, 
388-390; belief in the universality 
of the spiritual knowledge, 390- 
392; tangible evidence for his 
faith, 392-393; on the mistakes 
of science in investigations, 395- 
396; personal assurance in his 
spiritual belief, 397-398; as to 
the future, 398-399 
Doyle, Mrs. Arthur Conan (nee 
Hawkins), 64; marriage, 65; 85, 
87; development of a serious mal¬ 
ady, 114; to Switzerland in 


405 

search of health, 115, 119; a win¬ 
ter in Egypt, 121, 122, 130; in 
Naples, 152; 204; death of, 209 

Doyle, Mrs. Arthur Conan (nee 
Leckie), marriage, 215; Sultan 
confers Order of Chevekat on, 
222; home for Belgian refugees 
during the World War, 328; 
psychic interests and activities of, 
388 

Doyle, Monsignor Barry, 2-3 

Doyle, Charles, author’s father, born 
in London, 2; enters Government 
Office of Works, Edinburgh, 2; 
marriage, 4; talent as an artist, 
4-5; 17, 24; characteristics of, 
25; death of, 25; his religious 
faith, 25 

Doyle, Mrs. Charles, author’s 
mother, 3; marriage, 4; early 
struggles of married life, 5, 12; 
declines to dedicate son to the 
Church, 12; 17; her changing re¬ 
ligious faith, 25; 41, 55, 92 

Doyle, Connie, author’s sister, 5, 17, 
115 

Doyle, Henry, author’s uncle, man¬ 
ager of the National Gallery, 
Dublin, 2 

Doyle, Ida, author’s sister, 17 

Doyle, Innes, author’s brother, 17; 
joins brother in Portsmouth, 61; 
letter to his mother, 61-62; ac¬ 
companies author on American 
lecturing tour, 116; death of, 
334; 343, 347, 378 

Doyle, James, author’s uncle, 1; 
literary and artistic ability of, 1- 
2 

Doyle, John, author’s grandfather, 
reputation as a cartoonist, 1; per¬ 
sonal appearance of, 1; his fam¬ 
ily, 1-2 

Doyle, Mrs. John, author’s grand¬ 
mother, 15 

Doyle, Julia, author’s sister, 17 

Doyle, Kingsley Conan, author’s 
son, birth of, 111; death of, 334; 
350, 351 

Doyle, Lottie, author’s sister, 5, 17. 
115, 121 

Doyle, Mary, author’s daughter, 81, 


Index 


406 

Doyle, Mary, Continued 

85; activities during the WoYld 
War, 328 

Doyle, Richard, author’s uncle, his 
whimsical humour, 2 
Doyle, Sir Francis Hastings, 2 
Drama, first venture in the, 113 
Drayson, General, a pioneer in 
psychic studies, 79; and spirit¬ 
ualism, 80 

Drury, Major, 149, 175 
“ Duet, A,” 141 

Dum-dum bullets in the Boer War, 
159, 183 

Dupont, General, 369 

Edalji, George, a victim of the mis¬ 
carriage of justice, 209-215 
Edinburgh, birthplace and boyhood 
home of author, 1; political ac¬ 
tivities in, in 1900, 195, 196-199 
Edinburgh University Medical 
School, the author a student in, 
18-21 

Edmonton, Canada, 297 
Egypt, a winter in, with Mrs. Doyle, 
121-139; men of note in, 122-124; 
the temples and tombs of, 124- 
128; the war against the Mahdi, 
130-139 

“England and the Next War,” the 
author’s article in the “ Fort¬ 
nightly,” 308-310; result of pub¬ 
lication of, 310-313 
Enteric fever, inoculation for, 154; 

in the Boer War, 157-159 
“ Esoteric Buddhism,” Sinnett, 81 
Eugenie, Empress, 331-332 

Feldkirgh, Austria, a year in the 
Jesuit school at, 13-14 
Fencing, limited experience in, 279 
Fenians, first glimpse of the, 6-7 
“Fires of Fate, The,” 124, 226-227 
“ Firm of Girdlestone, The,” 68 
Fishing, a liking for the art of, 
264-265 

Foley, Mary. See Doyle, Mrs. 
Charles 

Foley, William, author’s grand¬ 
father, 3 


Foley, Mrs. William, author’s grand¬ 
mother, 3-4 

Football, the best collective sport, 
269-270 

Fort William, Ontario, 293, 294 
France, Bcrnhardi’s opinion of the 
soldiers of, 308; the Channel Tun¬ 
nel and, 315; typical soldiers of, 
363-367, 369; the saviours of, 371 
Franco-German War, 8 
French, General, Sir John, 330, 331 

George, Lloyd, 361; breakfast and 
an interesting talk with, 373; his 
estimate of Lord Kitchener, 373- 
374; and the subject of armour, 
375; on the revolution in Russia, 
375 

Germany, author’s disbelief in pos¬ 
sible trouble with, 304-305; Bern- 
hardi as a representative of 
thought in, 308 

“ Germany and the Next War,” 
Bernhardi, 308 

Gibbs, Doctor Charles, 150, 175, 
181-182 

Golf, the fascination of, 270; in 
Egypt, 270-271; an obituary to 
the author’s, 271 

Gray, Captain John, of the whaling 
ship, the Hope, 29, 30 
“ Great Boer War, The,” 204 
Great Lakes, through the, 292 
“ Great Shadow, The,” 93 
Gwynne, H. A., 137; in South 
Africa, 156; 205 


“ Habakuk Jephson’s Statement,” 
67 

Haig, General Sir Douglas, 331, 
347; luncheon with, 348; personal 
appearance and traits of, 348-349 
Haldane, Lord, 242 
Hamilton, Sir Ian, 159 
Hawkins, Miss. See Doyle, Mrs. 

Arthur Conan (nee Hawkins) 
Hawkins, Sir Henry. See Bamp- 
ton, Lord 

Henneque, General, 365, 366 
“ Hilda Wade,” Allen, completed by 
author, 254-255 


Index 


Hindenburg Line, the, 379, 381; the 
break in the, 382 
Hindhead, locating in, 121; 224 
“History of the War” (World), 
242 

Hodder, two years in preparatory 
school at, 8 
Home, Sir Anthony, 76 
Hope, the Arctic whaling ship the, 
29, 30, 33, 34, 36 

Hornung, William, the author’s 
brother-in-law, 115; brilliant in 
repartee, 252 

“ House of Temperley, The,” dram¬ 
atization ef “ Rodney Stone ” 
225-226 

“ Human Personality,” Myers, influ¬ 
ence on the study of psychics, 78 
Humbert, General, 368 
Hunting for sport unjustified, 263- 
264; its effects on our better in¬ 
stincts, 264 

“ Idleb, The,” contributions to, 
112-113 

Influenza, virulent attack of, 91 
“ Inner Room, The,” 94-95 
Ireland, founding of the Doyle fam¬ 
ily in, 2; early visit to, 6-7 
Irving, Sir Henry, 113-114; ac¬ 
quaintance with, 249; Bernard 
Shaw and, 250 

Irving, Henry, the younger, 114 
Italy, at the front in, 353-358; diffi¬ 
culties of the terrain in, 354, 356- 
358 

“ Jane Annie,” in collaboration 
with Barrie, 248 

Jasper Park, Canada, 287, 29S-300 
Jerome, Jerome K., 112, 253 
Jesuits, school life under the, 8-12; 
in Austria with the, 12-13; au¬ 
thor’s feeling for and opinion of 
the, 14-15 

Jeune, Sir Francis, 261 
“ John Creedy,” Allen, 256 
“ John Huxford’s Hiatus,” 68 

Kipling, Rttdyakd, 118; the charm 
of his writing, 245; in his Brat- 
tleboro home, 245-246 


407 

Kitchener, 123, 131, 137, 138, 178, 
179, 241; death of, 360; Lloyd 
George’s estimate of, 373-374 
Knighthood, receiving the accolade 
of, 204-205 

Koch, Doctor, and his so-called cure 
for consumption, 81, 83 

Lang, Andrew, favourable opinion 
of “Micah Clarke,” 71 
Langman, Archie, 149; captured and 
released by De Wet, 176 
Langman, John, 149 
Langman Hospital, service with the, 
in the Boer War, 147-183 
Leckie, Jean. See Doyle, Mbs. Ar¬ 
thur Conan, ti6e Leckie 
Lecturing tour in America, 116-119 
Lewis, Colonel, of the Egyptian 
army, 126-129 

“ Light,” contributes article to, 80; 
111 

“ Lippincott’s Magazine,” contribu¬ 
tion to, 73 

“ Literary Reminiscences,” Payn, 
256 

Literary work, 67, 90 
Literature, first knowledge of talent 
for, 11-12; first attempts in, 24 
Lodge, Sir Oliver, 205 
London, residence in, 89; literary 
life in, 1880-1893, 111-113 

McClure, S. S., 119 
McLean, Colin, acting mate of the 
Hope, 30 

Maloja, Switzerland, 115 
Maxse, Leo, 361 
Maxwell, W. B., 253, 262 
Mayumba, s s., to West Africa on 
the, as surgeon, 42; life aboard 
the, 49; on fire at sea, 50-51 
Medical practice, Plymouth, 54-56; 

Portsmouth, 57-87 
Medicine, determines on the study 
of, 17-18; first experiences in 
practice of, 22-24 

Meredith, George, talents and short¬ 
comings of, 242, 243; a visit to, 
at Box Hill, 243-244; his brilliant 
conversation, 244; religious con¬ 
victions, 245; 256 


Index 


408 

“ Mieah Clarke,” author’s first his¬ 
torical novel, 71 
Milner, Sir Alfred, 182 
Mind, opinion on the nature of the, 
78 

“ Miracle Town,” 332 
Monash, General Sir John, luncheon 
at head-quarters of Australian 
troops with, 378 

Monfalcone, Italy, perilous attempt 
to reach, 354-356 

Morris, Doctor Malcolm, 82, 84-85 
Motoring, a disagreeable experience 
in, 280; fascination of, 280; ac¬ 
cidents and humorous incidents 
when, 281; an international com¬ 
petition in, 282 

“ Mystery of the Sassassa Valley, 
The,” the author’s first adventure 
story, 24 

Navy, lack of foresight in the, 317- 
318; protection from mines for, 

318- 319; safety devices for crews, 

319- 321 

Newton, Lord, 335, 336, 337 
New York, a week in, 287-289 
Nile, a trip up the river, 124-125 
Northcliffe, Lord, 229, 231, 315 
Norwood, home in, 91, 111, 113; 
leaving, 115 

O’Callaghan, Doctor, 149 
“ Occult World,” Sinnett, 81 
Olympic Games, of 1908, 223-225 

Pack, Sir Denis, 3 
Pack, Katherine, author’s grand¬ 
mother. See Foley, Mrs. Wil¬ 
liam 

Pack, Reverend Richard, 3 
Paaua, Italy, 353 

Paget, Sidney, original illustrator 
of “ Sherlock Holmes,” 101 
“ Parasite, The,” 93 
Paris, first visit to, 15-16; 89; dur¬ 
ing the World War, 351, 352 
Parkman, Francis, author’s opinion 
of, 93; preparation for his life 
work, 290; the charm of his style 
and his work, 290-291 


Parliament, unsuccessful attempts 
to enter, 195-203 

“ Pavilion on the Lakes, The,” 
Stevenson, 253 

Payn, James, 67, 69, 71, 72, 75; his 
humorous view of life, 256-257; 
a kindly critic, 257 
“ Physiologist’s Wife, The,” 68 
Piave River, psychic revelation re¬ 
garding the, 358-359 
Picardy Place, Edinburgh, birth¬ 
place of author in, 1 
Plymouth, associated with Doctor 
Cullingworth in, 54-56 
Podmore, Mr., psychic experience 
with, 142-143 

Poetry, early attempts in, 11-12 
Politics, first entry in, 86; two un¬ 
successful efforts in, 195-203 
Pond Major, manages author’s lec¬ 
turing tour in America, 116 
Port Arthur, Ontario, 293 
Portsmouth, in practice in, 55-87 
Portsmouth Literary and Scientific 
Society, the, 85 

Pretoria, South Africa, 176, 178 
Prince Henry Competition, the so- 
called motor race, 305-307 
Public speaking, first attempts at, 
85; in political campaigns, 86 
Psychic, studies, early contempt for, 
77; author’s materialistic view¬ 
point in, 77; nature of the mind 
and soul, 78; influence of telepa¬ 
thy on, 78; table turning, 79; 
growing interest in, 111; re¬ 
searches and experiences, 142-146; 
seances, 232; the later quest, 387- 
399 

Psychical Research Society, member 
of, 111 

Racing, author’s lack of interest in 
flat-, 262-263 

Rationalist Association, 141 
Reading, early taste for, 7 
Redmond, Major William, 321-322 
“Refugees, The,” 92, 93, 140-141 
Relchenbach, Falls of, the tomb of 
Sherlock Holmes, 93-94 
Reid, Mayne, a favourite author in 
boyhood, 7 


Index 409 


Remington. Colonel, 316, 318, 325, 

337 

“Richard Feverel,” Meredith, 243, 
245 

Rifle, value of the, as an arm, 207- 
208 

Rifle clubs, formation of, 207, 285 
“ Rights and Wrongs,” Cook, 185 
“Ring of Thoth, The,” 68 
“ Robert Elsmere,” Ward, 256 
Roberts, Lord, 157, 174, 178, 207, 
313 

Robertson, General William, 337, 

338 

Rocky Mountains, first view of the, 
298 

“ Rodney Stone,” 96, 225, 266 
Roman Catholic faith, author’s fam¬ 
ily and the, 2; author’s changing 
views of the, 25-27 
Roosevelt, President Theodore, recol¬ 
lections and impressions of, 236- 
238 

Rosicrucians, 146 
Rugby football. See Football 
Russia, Lloyd George on the revolu¬ 
tion in, 375 

Rutherford, Professor, 19 

Sackville-West, Colonel, and the 
interview with General Henry 
Wilson, 310-313 

“ St. Ives,” unfinished by Stevenson, 
254 

Sandow, Eugene, 205, 206 
Sanna’s Post, in the Boer War, 159 
Sault Ste. Marie, 292-293 
“ Scalp Hunters,” a favourite hook 
in boyhood, 7 
Scharlieb, Doctor, 150 
School days, early, 5-7; at Hodder, 
8; at Stonvhurst, 8-12 
Seals, in the Arctic in the close sea¬ 
son, 33-34; and the open season, 
34-35 

Scharpenburg, the view from the, 
346-347 

Shaw, George Bernard, 250; and 
Henry Irving, 250; controversial 
spirit of, 250-251; peculiar char¬ 
acteristics of, 251 


“ Sherlock Holmes,” the origin of 
the character of, 69; interest of 
the public in character of, 92, 93; 
concern of public at death of, 94; 
letters addressed to, 94; side¬ 
lights on character of, 96-110; 
dramatizations of the character, 
96-97; Barrie’s parody of, 97- 
100; author’s original conception 
of, 100-101; film productions of, 
101 

“ Sign of Four, The,” 73 
“Silver Blaze,” 102 
“Sir Nigel,” 75, 209 
Ski-ing, experiences in, 283-285 
Slater, Oscar, a victim of the mis¬ 
carriage of justice, 216-220 
Smith, Reginald, 186, 191, 193, 194 
Society for Psychic Research, 142- 
143 

Soissons, the ruins of the cathedral 
of, 362 

Sophia, Mosque of, 222-223 
Soul, opinion on the nature of the, 
78 

South Africa, shadow of war in, 
146-147; arrival in, 154; first im¬ 
pressions of, 155-156; pamphlets 
on British methods and objects in, 
184-194 

“ Speckled Band, The,” 96, 226 
Speculation, ventures in, 233-234 
Spiritualism, 80, 81 
Sport, some recollections of and re¬ 
flections on, 262-286 
“ Stark Munro Letters, The,” based 
on first experiences in medical 
practice, 52; 66, 111 
Stead, W. T., 82 

Steeplechasing, more of a true sport 
than flat-racing, 263 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, the influ¬ 
ence of, on author, 253; corres¬ 
pondence with, 253-254; the un¬ 
finished “ St. Ives ” by, 254 
Stonyhurst, the great Jesuit school 
at, 8; the seven years at, 9-12 
“ Strand Magazine, The,” 90 
“ Straggler of ’15, A,” 113; dramati¬ 
zation of, 113 114 
“ Study in Scarlet,” 69-70, 100 


410 Index 


Submarine, possible effect on Eng¬ 
land in warfare of the, 309-310, 
313, 314 

Switzerland, visits, 93; to, for Mrs. 

Doyle’s health, 115, 119, 120 
Symonds, Lily Loder, 334 
Symonds, Captain William Loder, 
329, 330 

Tank, its influence on the World 
War, 333; viewing a battle from 
the top of a, 381-382 
Tariff Reform, in election of 1905, 
199-203 

Telepathy, first experiments in, 78 
“ Temple Bar,” contributions to, 67 
Territorials, the, 309, 312, 323 
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 6 
Theosophy, interest in, 80, 81 
Thompson, Sir Henry, 184, 185; and 
his famous “ octave ” dinners, 258 
Thought transference, experiments 
in, 78 

“Three Correspondents, The,” 136 
“ Three Men in a Boat,” Jerome, 112 
Thurston, Father, 11 
Ticonderoga, Fort, 291 
“ To Arms,” in collaboration, 327 
“ Tragedy of the Korosko, The,” 124 
“Transvaal From Within,” Fitz- 
Patrick, 185 

Trentino, in the, during the World 
War, 357-358 

Udine, the Italian head-quarters 
town, 353 

“ Uncle Bernac,” 141 
“ Undershaw,” the home in Hind- 
head, 140 

University of Edinburgh, studies 
medicine at, 17-18, 21; graduates 
from, 41 

Vaughan, Bernard, 11 
Vicars, Sir Arthur, 3 


Vienna, a winter of study in, ba- 
89 

Volunteer Force, formation of, at 
> outbreak of the World War, 324 

Waller, Lewis, 227, 228 
Ward, Mrs. Humphry, and the life 
of the Victorian era, 256 
Watt, A. P., 90 

Wells, H. G., democratic frankness 
of, 251, 252; forecasts of the fu¬ 
ture, 252 

West African Coast, voyage to the, 
42-51 

“ Westminster Gazette,” honorary 
correspondent in Egypt for the, 
130-139 

Whaling in the Arctic, 29-41 
“White Company, The,” 74; au¬ 
thor’s opinion of, 75; its success, 
75; 89 

Wilde, Oscar, favourable opinion of 
“Micah Clarke,” 73; as a conver¬ 
sationalist, 73; letter from, 74 
Wilson, General Henry, interview 
with, after publication of “ Eng¬ 
land and the Next War,” 310-313 
“ Windlesham,” the home in Crow- 
borough, 215 

“ Window in Thrums, A,” Barrie, 
246 

Winnipeg, Canada, 294, 295, 297 
World War, prologue of the, 304- 
322; formation of the Volunteer 
Force at opening of, 324; condi¬ 
tions in England during the, 327- 
328; on the British front in the, 
335-352; the Italian front in the, 
353-359; a visit to the French 
front, 361-371; the Australian 
sector of the line, 375-386 
Wound stripes, on British uniforms, 
371 

Ypres Salient, the, at night, 344; 
345-346 







PHILLIPS ACADEMY 


3 1867 


00044 8808 


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