SOME MEMORIES OF A FAMOUS
SPORTSMAN, SOLDIER AND WIT
MRS. STUART MENZIES
WITH APPRECIATIONS BY
THE EARL OF CROMER &
ADMIRAL LORD BERESFORD
38 ILLUSTRATIONS, ALSO REPRODUCTIONS
OF THE SIGNATURES OF THOSE
PRESENT AT THE FAMOUS FAREWELL
DINNER AT CALCUTTA
HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED
ARUNDEL PLACE HAYMARKET
LONDON S.W. MCMXVII
PRINTED BY WM. BRENDON AND SON, LTD., PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND
There are days when we are under the spell of the past, when lovely times, lovely things, and delightful people that have lapsed into “have beens” are again with us, in a mist of memories and dreams, but memories and dreams that have been true and real—to be treasured always.
In my memory there are silhouetted against the horizon of the past a few figures (amongst the many kind friends who have journeyed with me) who stand alone, whose greatness of character singled them from their fellows, others whose splendid works for state or humanity have marked them, but I pause before a figure that would have told us he was nothing in particular, yet few men have been so loved, so universally popular as the late Lord William Beresford, V.C., one of the most charming characters and greatest personalities of the age, a brave and gallant soldier, a loyal and faithful friend, possessing an extraordinarily generous nature. A man has not lived for nothing, and must be something in particular, when his friends can truly say that of him.
I have waited a long time before undertaking this work, hoping some more able pen than mine would[vi] give to his old friends and future generations some record of Lord William’s eventful life, a few memories of his many kindnesses and unostentatious charities, his pluck, deeds of daring and unfailing cheeriness.
No such scribe appearing, I have taken my courage in both hands and endeavoured to pay a small tribute to the memory of an old and valued friend, being encouraged by the letter I received (January 16th, 1916) from Lord Beresford, better known and loved by the great British public as Lord Charles Beresford, in which he wrote:
1, Great Cumberland Place,
19th January, 1916.
“Dear Mrs. Stuart Menzies,
“Thank you for your letter. I am so delighted to hear that you are going to write the life of my dear brother Bill; he had the most lovable nature, the most charming character, the pluckiest spirit and most generous mind that I have ever met. He was always thinking of others and never of himself. I shall be delighted to help you in any way that I can.
“May all good luck attend you. The whole family will be most interested in your life of perhaps one of the most gallant officers, noble gentlemen, and charming comrades that ever existed.
“Yours very sincerely,
Lord Cromer also, who was for some years associated with Lord William in India, wrote to me saying:
“Dear Mrs. Stuart Menzies,
“As I understand that you are engaged in writing the life of my old and very dear friend, Bill Beresford, I hope you will allow me to bear testimony to his great charm of character, his characteristically national sense of humour, and his staunch loyalty to both his country and his friends. I knew Bill Beresford very well and had a great liking for him. He was a fine gallant fellow with all the pluck and dash of his race and family, and moreover had a keen sense of humour. I was for some years associated with him when he was on the staffs of Lord Northbrook and Lord Ripon when Viceroys of India. He was the cheeriest of companions and the most gallant of soldiers—in a word, one of the best fellows I have ever come across during a long life.
“Very sincerely yours,
I wish to take this opportunity of thanking the many friends of his and mine who have been so good as to assist me, without whose help I could not have hoped to do justice, even in this small measure, to a life so full of incident, and kindness for all who were associated with him. More especially are my thanks due to his brother, Lord Beresford, Lady Waterford, Edith Lady Lytton, Lord Ripon, Lord Rossmore, Sir Claude de Crespigny, his brother officers in the[viii] past, and his contemporaries on the various staffs, to Mr. Arthur Meyrick, also to his old and faithful friend, Mr. Charles Moore.
I have used one or two cuttings from old newspapers, but having no idea what they appeared in, I have been unable to ask permission to reproduce them, therefore ask forgiveness from all on whose grounds I may have trespassed.
I must also ask the indulgence of my readers in the matter of dates, having had to rely on memory to a great extent, aided by a few letters, papers, race cards, photos, etc., being handicapped by there being no mother or wife living into whose store-house of precious letters, and documents, it might be possible to dip, also by so many of Lord William’s intimate friends having left us and passed into the great Silence.
A. C. STUART MENZIES.
COLONEL LORD WILLIAM LESLIE
DE LA POER BERESFORD, V.C., K.C.I.E.
Early Childhood—Eton Days—Mischief and Whackings—Companions at Work and Play—Sporting Contemporaries of Note—The So-styled “Mad Marquis”—His Bride—Carriage Accident—Ride in Grand National—House of Commons Acknowledgment of Lady Waterford’s Goodness to the Irish during the Famine—Joins the 9th Lancers in Dublin—A Few Sporting Mishaps—Why he Spent his Life in India
The subject of these memories was the third son of the fourth Marquis of Waterford, who married the third daughter of Mr. Charles Powell Leslie of Glaslaugh, M.P. for Monaghan.
The children of this union were five sons:—
1. John Henry de la Poer.
2. Charles William de la Poer.
3. William Leslie de la Poer.
4. Marcus Talbot de la Poer.
5. Delaval James de la Poer.
In 1866 the fourth Marquis died, and was succeeded by John Henry, the first of the five sons mentioned already, and elder brother of the Lord William of whom I write. One of the most delightful characteristics of this family has always been its unity; the brothers were devoted to one another, their home and their parents. To the end of his days Lord William spoke of Curraghmore as “Home,” and of his devotion to his beautiful mother. She must have been a proud woman, having brought into the world five such splendid specimens of humanity, all handsome, having inherited the Beresford good looks, high spirits, and pluck, whilst happily imbued with the pride of race which is the making of great men.
There is nothing snobbish or vulgar in being proud of our ancestry, though it may seem so to those who are unacquainted with their own. Even savages have pride of race, and it has been so since the days of Virgil, and before that. Let us hope it will always be so. It is our birthright, which is well, for it helps men and women to keep straight, sorry to be the first to lower the standard or bring it into disrepute.
Look at the pride of race among the different tribes in the East how strong it is, their castes are profound and deep religions to them, their inherited pride of race, for which they willingly die, rather than suffer any real or imaginary indignity.
This instinct is still strongly marked in our present-day Gypsies, who are exceedingly exclusive and proud of their race, and they will tell with pride, if you know them well enough, that the reason they are, and will be ever more, accursed and hunted from place to place, is because a Gypsy forged the nails used in the Crucifixion.
The Lithuanian Gypsies say stealing has been permitted in their families by the crucified Jesus, because they, being present at the Crucifixion, stole one of the nails from the Cross, after which stealing was no longer a sin. This sounds irreverent, but they do not treat it lightly. The belief has been handed down to them, grown with them, and they seem sadly proud of their history, legend, or whatever it may be.
From an early age Lord William seems to have realised what was due to his family and his race, for with all his high spirits, even in the effervescence of youth, never once has anybody been able to say he brought discredit on his family.
The Beresfords have for generations been keen sportsmen, high-spirited, unspoilt, straightforward gentlemen; using the word in its old-fashioned full significance. Lord William was no exception to this rule, and it has not been given to many to be so universally popular. His worst enemy was himself, inasmuch as he habitually put more work into twenty-four hours than most people would consider a fair week’s allowance. From an early age he loved excitement, courting danger and adventure, resulting in most of the bones in his body having at one time or another some experiences, and I shall always think that but for the juggling tricks he played with his life he might still be with us, and the world the better for his cheeriness, generosity, and loyal friendship.
This is not a proper biography in the everyday acceptance of the term, it aspires to nothing so great. I have neither the competency to entitle me, nor the ambition to urge me to write a formal and stereotyped account of Lord William’s life, but only some memories, full of the little things that matter, small details that bring us closer to the character and introduce us to the personality of the man.
It is not as a soldier, it is not as a statesman that I claim applause for Lord William, though both may be owed, but for his thoroughness in whatever he undertook, his unfailing cheerfulness, his loyalty, energy, and marvellous pluck.
In his early days the principle of—“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might,” must have been driven home, for whatever he undertook, that he certainly did with all his might; but his generosity and his kindliness of nature and his tact must have been born with him on July 20th, 1847, in the quaint little village of Mullaghbrach, in the north of Ireland, where his father was rector until he succeeded his brother, the third Marquess, in 1859. The early days of Lord William’s childhood were spent in this peaceful home with the usual accompaniment of nurses, followed by a German governess until he was considered old enough for further instruction, when the Rev. Dr. Renau’s Preparatory School at Bayford was chosen, the present Lord Methuen being there at the same time. After which, when eleven years old, that is in the year 1858, he was sent to Eton, first to the house of Mr. Hawtry, and then into Dr. Warre’s.
LORD WILLIAM AT ETON, AGED 11
It is interesting to note that the present-day actor is a relation of Mr. Hawtry of Eton fame. It was through the Eton Hawtry’s persuasions that the Prince Consort founded a prize for modern languages at the College.
Lord Cheylesmore, Sir Simon Lockhart, and Lord Langford were at Dr. Warre’s house with Lord William, the two latter being among the Doctor’s earliest pupils. Lord Langford says, “Bill was never out of rows of different sorts.” While Lord Methuen tells me he remembers seconding a boy named Allen at his tutor’s in a fight with Lord William, adding, “And it was a very hard fight,” but being senior to Lord Bill he saw very little of him while there. Dr. Warre-Cornish, Vice-Provost of Eton, said, “I always liked him. His Eton record is chiefly connected with schoolboy sports and skirmishes with masters at Windsor Fairs, and other places. He kept many bulldogs and was of a turbulent disposition.”
The gas works were close to Dr. Warre’s house, and behind them was the rendezvous of those who had any differences to settle. Lord Langford says, “I think Lord Bill often paid a visit there!” and adds, “On one occasion he captured a polecat and tied it to the leg of a chair in Dr. Warre’s house.” We can well imagine the breathless moments in store for the household. Various surreptitious journeys were taken to feed it and make sure of its safety. Then there was the exciting time of changing the animal’s quarters and attaching it, in spite of protestations, to a certain chair!
History does not relate what happened, but something entertaining, no doubt. After being a year at Eton, Lord Bill heard of the death of his uncle, and that henceforth his home would be at Curraghmore.
While at Eton he seems to have been chiefly conspicuous for his love of sport and fighting, his high spirits, ready wit, and popularity with all. He worked as much as was necessary and no more, for he loved the river, running after beagles, paper, or any other form of sport, more especially a fight. Happily in his time the battles were not so serious as they were in 1825 when Lord Shaftesbury’s brother, Francis Ashley, was carried home to die after fighting for two hours with a boy named Wood.
Like a few other men one could name who have been educated at public schools, and later held important and responsible posts, he could not always depend on his pen carrying out his wishes and spelling properly. Long after having arrived at years of discretion, shall I say? he constantly wrote to an old friend as “My dear Jhon,” meaning John. One day we were talking about certain clever people being unable to spell properly and chaffing him about it; nobody enjoyed a joke against himself better than he did. Somebody asked him, “Bill, why don’t you write the word you are uncertain of down on a piece of paper with all the variations as they occur to you? The look of the word would tell you which was right?” He replied, “I always do write it down on a piece of paper and never doubt its being right.” After which there was nothing more to be said, and we decided it would all be the same a hundred years hence, therefore it did not matter; and at any rate he had my sympathy. He agreed with Yeats, the Dublin poet, who sang:
“Accursed he who brings to light of day
The writings I have cast away;
But blessed he who stirs them not,
But lets the kind worms eat the lot.”
Certainly Lord William’s letters were short and sweet; he did not commit more to writing than he could help, thereby proving that he was a wise man.
Five years were spent at Eton, and they were spoken of as happy ones. Even at that early age his passion for racing betrayed itself and led to trouble, for on one occasion the attractions of Ascot became too much for him. Knowing that if he asked for leave to go it would be denied him, he took French leave, and received a whacking on his return, which reminds me that before Lord William’s time a certain flogging block belonging to the College disappeared one day, having been kidnapped by one of the Beresfords, the third Marquess, I think, when he was at Eton, and is now in evidence at Curraghmore, or was a few years ago. As far as I can gather there was no hue and cry after that interesting piece of furniture, and the next time there was any whacking to be done another block was found to be reigning in its stead; so presumably there was a supply kept in the store-room among the pickles and the jam.
Lord William’s contemporaries, besides those already mentioned, were the present Sir Hugh McCalmont, afterwards a brother officer and life-long friend, the late Lord Jersey, and the present Lord Minto. Lord William was fag to both the latter in succession, Mr. Charles Moore, another life-long friend, and, I believe, Lord Rossmore.
At the age of sixteen, Lord William left Eton and went to Bonn to study French and German under a tutor named Dr. Perry, others studying there at the same time being the Hon. Elliot and Alec Yorke, and the Hon. Eric Barrington, who tells me he was also with him at Eton, where “his principal reputation was that he and a friend of his had been subjected to more floggings within a certain time than had previously been recorded by anyone else.” Sir Eric says when he found Lord William at Bonn: “I was both surprised and delighted to find Bill Beresford there, not having hitherto associated him with foreign languages.” Some amusing accounts are given to me also of the Bonn days, where he says: “Our tutor had a peculiar way of accustoming us to the use of the German tongue, as, though we had a resident German tutor in the house, we were strictly forbidden to make any German acquaintances in the town, and were enjoined on our word of honour to talk German to each other during certain hours every day. A worse practice could hardly be imagined. Nevertheless, Bill undoubtedly acquired a certain facility in chattering, which he afterwards told me was most useful to him with the Dutch during the South African campaign.” Again speaking of Lord William he says: “His nature was exceedingly lovable, and he was very popular with his fellow pupils and tutors, whom, however, he took no pains to conciliate. During one altercation with his German tutor, the latter was heard to say, ‘Beresford, I loved you once, but I despise you now!’ which diverted us greatly at the time.”
From accounts of those times it appears that it was the habit of Dr. Perry to give a gala supper the night before breaking up for the holidays, at which all the instructors were present. On one of these occasions a certain student at the University who had been giving Lord William lessons in Latin, and who was much attached to him, made the following speech in English with a very strong German accent: “I have heard of Merry old England, but I have never heard of the Merry old Ireland. I wish to propose the toast of the Merry old Ireland and the Merry old Beresford.”
To amuse himself at Bonn, Lord William used to boat with his companions on the Rhine, and took special delight in the company of an English livery-stable keeper, who kept a certain number of riding horses of inferior calibre, with which he was intimately acquainted, riding being his favourite recreation.
I am afraid Lord William constantly broke Dr. Perry’s rules, and was frequently being sent away in consequence; but his mother, Lady Waterford, said she took no notice of the letters telling her of her son’s dismissal, as they were invariably followed by others recalling the sentence. Dr. Perry was really much attached to his unruly pupil, and his pupil had a very loyal feeling towards him, and was the means once of saving his life. Sir Eric Barrington tells me the story, and I feel I cannot do better than repeat it in his own words.
“Our Easter holidays were short and spent in expeditions to Switzerland or the Tyrol. In the spring of 1866 Dr. Perry took six of us to the latter. We were to walk across a pass with two guides, carrying our knapsacks. We walked for ten hours with very little food; the guides became exhausted and refused to go any further, but Dr. Perry was determined to reach the village we were making for. He misunderstood the directions of the guides and lost his way. We boys were exhausted also by this time, so stopped at a small hay-hut, where we resolved to stay the night. Dr. Perry went on in the dark, and attempted to descend the mountain-side alone. Beresford became uneasy about his safety, and went off to look for him. The rest of us settled down and went to sleep, when we heard Beresford shouting he had found Dr. Perry, but could not persuade him to return, as he had sighted the lights of the village in the distance. Still uneasy, Beresford started off again with a friend in the early hours of the morning to look for Dr. Perry and see if all was well. After some time he thought he heard a faint cry, and looking over the side of the mountain descried the object of his search some way down sitting astride an old tree stump, which had mercifully broken his fall, but still in a most perilous position, and trying to keep himself awake by digging his fingers into the decayed wood. From a cottage nearby, Beresford managed to get a rope, but it proved too short, so he set off for the village, where he found his companions and the guides had arrived. Though feeling thoroughly tired out and done up, he insisted on returning with the guides to show them where to find Dr. Perry, and to help in the rescue. He was released with difficulty and after some hard work.
“Dr. Perry always felt he owed his life to Beresford’s perseverance, and on that account was disposed to show leniency when his high spirits led him into mischief on future occasions.”
Bill’s main characteristics were courage and loyalty; it was impossible not to be warmly attached to him.
It having been decided that the Army was to be the profession of Lord Waterford’s third son, after leaving Dr. Perry, several other tutors were requisitioned to put the necessary finishing touches to his military education, after which he passed very creditably into the Army at the age of twenty, joining that popular regiment, the 9th Lancers, as a cornet in 1867.
They were a merry crowd in those days. Among Lord William’s boon companions in the regiment were the present Lord Rossmore, otherwise known as “Derry,” Captain Candy, “Sugar Candy,” Captain Clayton, “Dick,” the present Colonel Stewart Mackenzie, “The Smiler,” General Sir Hugh McCalmont, and the Hon. Charley Lascelles, who could do such wonderful things with horses owing to his good hands and sweet temper; and many more too numerous to mention, not a few of whom, like Captain Candy, Captain Clayton, and Mr. Lascelles, have moved on into another room, where their friends can no longer see them.
It is an interesting fact that all good sorts and popular men get nicknames attached to them, it being a sign of their value and the affection borne them by their comrades. Not often are selfish prigs called by nicknames, possibly they may be known behind their backs as “The Swine” or “The Prig,” or some other uncomplimentary epithet which can only be used sub-rosa, for who could so address them to their faces?
Among his friends, who were legion, Lord William was known as “Bill.” His brother, Lord Charles Beresford, is always called “Charlie” in the most affectionate way by even the crowd in the streets, who all love him and look upon him as their own.
Those were grand happy days when Lord William first joined the 9th. He and his young friends had the whole world before them, life and health then being a matter of no consequence, no consideration, for in the arrogance of youth who takes thought of the morrow? If only when people are young they could be persuaded to take a practical view of life and map out their days, not spending strength too freely, or trying nerves too highly, but keeping a little in reserve, something to draw upon. Uncontrolled spirits often lead to disaster early in life. The Irish are especially buoyant and their mad spirits infectious and lovable.
In later years Lord William often spoke of those early days, referring in affection or admiration to many of his sporting contemporaries, among whom were Mr. Garret Moore, who between ’67 and ’69 rode many winners in Ireland and elsewhere. (He died in 1908.) Roddy Owen, a great winner of races, especially in India and Canada up to 1885, after which he surprised people at home a little by winning the Grand National on Father O’Flynn in 1892, Sandown Grand Prize two years running and, if I remember rightly, the Grand Military on St. Cross. Poor “Roddy,” as everybody called him, died in Egypt on active service in 1896, mourned and regretted by everyone who knew him.
Colonel Meysey Thompson, who had known Captain Owen all his life, wrote some charming lines “In Memoriam” when he died. I do not remember them all, at any rate not correctly, but one verse I know ran:
“May the date palm’s stately branches
Above thee gently wave;
May the mimosa’s scented wattles
Bedeck with gold thy grave.”
But as I am not writing Roddy Owen’s life I must hurry on, especially as poking into the pigeon-holes of the past is apt to bring on fits of the blues.
Captain Bay Middleton, another great friend, however, must not be forgotten. He was fond of cricket as well as hunting and horses. A member of the Zingari, Captained by Sir Gerard Leigh, and while in Ireland they played the 9th Lancers. I do not remember who won, but when the game was over Lord William, to amuse his friends, suggested a run with the drag hounds, managing to find mounts for all; they rode just as they were, in flannels. Needless to say the fun and enjoyment were great.
It was delightful to hear these boon companions living over again some of these times amidst happy laughter and friendly recriminations, though perhaps sometimes tinged with regrets for the days that were gone. Captain Middleton died in 1892, so another old friend passed out of Lord William’s life. It was in April, I think, when Captain Middleton was riding at quite a small fence (as is so often the case), that his horse pecked, throwing its rider forward, and, as almost invariably occurs when a horse is in trouble, threw up its head, trying to recover itself, and in so doing broke Captain Middleton’s neck. He was no doubt a great man on a horse, and as a rule they went kindly with him, but I have seen him at times by no means gentle with them, I am sorry to say, and not always when the horse was to blame.
Another great friend I must not pass over was Captain Beasley, called “Tommy” by Lord William, who rode in twelve Grand Nationals. I have only mentioned a few of the names that recur to me; it would take many volumes if I were to enumerate all his great friends, for few men had so many.
At any rate the fun in those days was certainly fast and furious, some of the practical jokes being distinctly drastic though considered very amusing at the time. I doubt if in these days they would be considered jokes at all. It does not follow that what was considered funny and witty by one generation will be considered the least amusing by the next, any more than what was true yesterday need be true to-day, and often is not.
On one occasion when his friend, Captain McCalmont, was driving him from Cahir Barracks to Clonmel, while passing through the town of Cahir, Lord William asked if he would mind pulling up for him to do some shopping. When he returned with his purchases they consisted of a sack of potatoes; this was planted at his feet, and as they continued their drive he amused himself by throwing potatoes at everyone they met. Some smiled and seemed pleased with the delicate attention and gift of potatoes, others, however, were not, therefore a crowd soon gathered and embarked on reprisals. The potatoes were coming to an end, but his blood being up, he purchased more and continued the battle. As they proceeded along the ten miles to Clonmel, news of the battle had evidently travelled ahead of them, for in places they found people waiting for them armed with missiles, including brickbats. It now became a question how they were to get away themselves. However, the Irish understand one another, and all the country was fond of the Beresfords, from whom they had received many considerations and benefits. At that time, in the eyes of the people, the Beresfords could do no wrong, so it ended, I am told, quite happily. In the autumn of our days it seems a very long time since we were so full of beans that we could do such mad things, the result of animal spirits.
Lord William’s uncle, the third Marquis, has been called the “Mad Marquis” owing to the extraordinary things he did, probably from the same overflow of spirits from which Lord William suffered when throwing potatoes at peaceful pedestrians on the road.
The so-called “Mad” Marquis certainly did some very astonishing things, but purely, in my opinion, from devil-me-care fun and spirits, for when married to the beautiful Louisa, daughter of Lord Stuart de Rothsey, whom he passionately loved, he settled down after sowing his wild oats, and became a model husband and landlord, beloved by the whole countryside.
It appears to be rather fashionable to think everyone is mad whom we do not understand, or even perhaps when they are superior to ourselves in courage or intellect.
I leave it to my readers to decide if he earned the sobriquet, if they think a man who was so exceedingly devoted and tender to his wife, and so full of consideration for his countrymen, could be rightly termed the “Mad Marquis.”
When he brought home his bride to Curraghmore, seeing a crowd of country folk and tenants collected to greet them, he leaned over his wife and lifted her veil so that all might admire, so great was his pride in her.
Soon after their marriage, when driving his wife, one of the horses became restive while descending a steep hill. The only thing to be done to avoid a bad accident was to turn the horses into a hedge at the side of the road. Lady Waterford tried to get out, and in so doing fell, hurting her head, causing concussion of the brain. Her devoted and alarmed husband carried his unconscious wife in his arms down the hill, through the River Clode, back to the house, that being the shortest way, so that she could be properly attended to more quickly. For several days and nights he scarcely left her; it was hardly possible to persuade him to come away even for food; and when the doctor said all her beautiful hair, that he admired so much, must be cut off, he would allow no hands to do it but his own.
Like all the Beresfords, the third Marquis was handsome and loved sport in every form, especially fox-hunting; he hunted the Curraghmore entirely at his own expense. It was a sad day when his mount, May-boy, made a mistake over a rotten wall, which put an end to all his hunting.
It must have been from this uncle that Lord William inherited his love for steeplechasing, for we hear of the Marquis in 1840, when it was first becoming the fashion for gentlemen to ride in chases, riding in the Grand National. He died in 1859 without any children, and was succeeded by his brother, Lord William’s father, as fourth Marquis.
In 1847 (the year Lord William was born) Lord and Lady Waterford devoted most of their time and much money in endeavouring to relieve the distress in Ireland caused by the famine. The Marquis imported shiploads of wheat for the people, and Lady Waterford’s goodness was so great that the House of Commons felt constrained to acknowledge it.
In return for this, these excitable people in the following year, under the influence of agitators, became so rebellious to law, and order and to their best friends, that Curraghmore had to be fortified against them. The Fenians declared they would capture Lady Waterford and carry her away to the hills.
This alarmed her husband so greatly that he took her to her mother, in England, for safety, returning himself to Ireland to protect the home he loved so dearly, and if possible save the people from themselves.
To return to Lord William. The 9th Lancers were stationed at Island Bridge Barracks, Dublin, when first he joined, which for an Irishman was all that could be desired. Then on from Dublin to Cahir, which is not very far from Waterford and Curraghmore; a troop of the 9th were quartered at Waterford and half a troop at Carrick-on-Suir, close to Curraghmore. For a time Lord William was with the Waterford troop, and it was a curious turn of fortune’s wheel that brought H.M.S. Research to Waterford harbour at this time with Lord Charles as a middy, or at any rate a very junior officer. Lord Marcus, in the 7th Hussars, was also at home on leave, so the brothers were together and there was a very happy gathering.
All the officers of the 9th and the Research were constantly at Curraghmore, where they were always sure of a welcome, many carrying away with them into foreign lands an affectionate gratitude for Lady Waterford, who had made a home for them all when in the neighbourhood.
9TH LANCERS IN DUBLIN, 1867
Back row, from left to right: Lieut.-Surg. Longman, Riding Master Crowdy, Capt. F. Gregory (A.D.C. to Lord Lieut. of Ireland), Capt. Cave, Capt. Hardy, Lieut. Gaskell, Cornet Stewart-Mackenzie.
Second row: Cornet Willoughby, Cornet Lord Wm. Beresford, Paymaster Mahon, Lieut.-Col. Johnson, Capt. Erskine, Lieut. Palairet, Lieut. Green, Cornet Percy, Adj.; Quarter-Master Seggie, Major Rich in plain clothes.
The 9th Lancers had a pack of harriers when at Cahir, Lord William acting as one of the whips. He had begun riding as a very small boy, on a pony called The Mouse, which was shared by the three brothers, each taking it in turn to ride. From this humble little mount he was promoted to other ponies, on which he soon began to execute little jumps, and ride about the country during the holidays. Before many years had passed over his head he became a follower of the Curraghmore hounds and other surrounding packs, often seeing more of the fun on his pony than some of the field on famous horses, partly owing to the plucky way he “shoved along” and to knowing the country well, also partly to the happy way ponies have of turning up unexpectedly and accomplishing wonderful feats by scrambling and crawling along places where bigger horses cannot find foothold. The old Curraghmore, now the Waterford, hunted a country of about thirty miles from east to west, and twenty miles from north to south, its boundaries being Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Wexford, and the sea on the south. Having thus graduated in horsemanship, by the time he joined the 9th he was known as a good man on a horse.
He naturally loved horses and dogs, and had many, being a good judge of both. In consequence of the number of the latter he usually had about him, Captain Fife, of the same regiment, when compiling an alphabetical list of rhymes in connection with his brother officers, on coming to the letter B, wrote:—
“‘B’ stands for Bill,
Many cur dogs are his,
Good-tempered but hasty,
And easily ris’”;
which, must be admitted, is a magnificent effort, even if it does not scan very well.
Witnesses of the fun in those days say they can never forget the delightful time when all the brothers were at home together. Each a sportsman, each a wit, full of merriment and pranks, and all especially delighted when Lord Charles danced a hornpipe for their amusement. How Curraghmore must have ached for their voices when they had, as the old song says, “all dispersed and wandered far away.”
It was when stationed at Cahir that Lord William began crumpling up his bones owing to various tosses of sorts. At this time he owned a very fast trotter, which could do sixteen miles an hour when requested. He started one night with this fast trotter in a dogcart to cover the three miles from the barracks to the station, taking an English guest with him to catch the 10.30 train for Dublin. The road was very dark and overshadowed by the trees of Cahir Abbey Park. Sir Hugh McCalmont (then Captain McCalmont), a brother officer already mentioned, was likewise performing the same journey bound for Dublin; both started at the same time. Lord William set the pace, and was soon out of sight and hearing. Added to the darkness, it was pouring with rain. After journeying some little way Captain McCalmont was held up by cries issuing from the gloom. Someone was shouting. He pulled up in time to find his friend with his guest, his fast trotter and some dogcart about the road. Lord William in his haste, combined with the darkness, had driven at top speed into a cart, somewhat to the surprise of the driver. The cart also looked as if taken by surprise, in places. Having satisfied himself that no one was killed, though all were more or less damaged, Captain McCalmont continued with his “crawler,” as he called it, to the station and caught his train, which is more than the fast trotting party did.
Trifles of this kind, however, never worried Lord William, for his spirits were unquenchable.
One of the fastest runs with hounds he could remember, in those days of scanty judgment, was when out with the Curraghmore hounds in the northern part of the country. The fences were not very big, but the pace was great. Lord William and Captain McCalmont were riding a bit jealous, I think; after racing for about twenty minutes, they both tried to fly a bank, with the natural result when jumping blown horses. Captain McCalmont’s gallant little mare did not get up for some time; she wisely lay still to recover her wind, but Lord William had been so struck by her performance that he shouted, “I will buy her”—and he did. But horses when asked to do too much, sometimes break their hearts, and the mare was never quite the same again.
Whenever sport was to be knocked out of anyone or anything Lord William was sure to be there. Nothing came amiss to him, fisticuffs, American cock-fighting, hunting, racing, polo, the latter only just becoming popular in England.
It was about this time that he came into his share of the family fortune. He considered it so inadequate to his needs, that he decided to spend the capital as interest. This is how he described it to me one evening, years later, in the grounds of the Taj at Agra.
“So inadequate to my needs was the interest on my share, that I decided to use my capital as income so long as it would last, and rearrange my life again when it came to an end. I started a coach, a stud of hunters, some racehorses, and laid myself out for a real good time. I managed to hold on until just before the regiment was ordered to India. Then, as the fateful day drew near, I thought I would have one final flutter at the Raleigh Club. A turn up of three cards at £1000 a card! I won the lot, was able to pay up all I owed and clear out to India, cleaned out, but a free man as to debt.”
I do not feel I am betraying any confidence, as he told the story to several people, and really it is an amazing example of what pluck and daring, combined with determination, can do. A lesson in resource and audacity that a young subaltern should arrive in India a penniless soldier, and yet reach the height of social and official fame combined with pecuniary comfort, as he did, in a few years. To sit down with premeditation and map out such a wild scheme, and then be able to bring it off and win the odd trick, was rather wonderful.
Possibly what he suffered during those years when he was riding for a fall made him reckless, risking his life more frequently than he otherwise would have done, thinking it was bound to be a short and merry one, so what matter? Or, like others I have known when riding for a fall, would not give himself time to think.
Some of the extraordinarily kind things I have known him do for young men when in financial difficulties, though not overburdened with cash himself at the time, leads me to the belief that he remembered his feelings when the crash of his own arranging was drawing near, assisted perhaps by a little luck, which saved him.
Considering that he was not a rich man, it was wonderful how lavish was his unselfish and large-hearted generosity. I verily believe no living soul ever went to him in trouble and was sent “empty away.” Yet he could never bear his left hand to know what his right hand was doing. It really ruffled him if he ever heard of it again. Nevertheless, some of those near his left hand did know what his right was doing, more often perhaps than he guessed.
Having explained the rather important financial position at this time, we can return to the daily happenings, able to see some reason in much that would otherwise seem of little consequence, but which meant a good deal to Lord William, we can also admire more sincerely the brain that evolved the scheme and carried it out.
Some will no doubt think, and possibly say, that the affection we all had for Lord William has made me picture a faultless man; this is, of course, not so, and it is not difficult to recognise his failings, which he shared in common with the rest of mankind, but I do claim for him that they were none of them mean, little, or contemptible, and we do not always like people less on account of their faults. Generosity may be called foolishness: pluck, foolhardiness: morals, not such as would be considered a proper rudimentary system for teaching in elementary schools: but if, after all that has been said, a man can count hundreds of deeply attached friends, and not one can say he ever did a dishonourable action, or willingly hurt another’s feelings, I claim that man is great.
Lord William was an admirer of beauty and good taste; add to this, as the cookery books say, his particularly charming manner, that would woo the birds off the trees, and his good looks, it is small wonder he was much loved by the fair sex.
GOOD-BYE TO ENGLAND
Coach driving Exploit—The Badger Bet and How It was Won—The Raleigh Club and the Garçon Glacé Episode—Some Merry Frequenters of the Club—Regimental Racing—The Tenth Hussars’ Steeplechases, Exciting Race Between H.R.H.’s Horse and Lord Valentia’s—Aldershot Coaching Accident—Polo at Woolwich—Sale of 10th Hussars’ ponies—Friendly Altercations at York—The Three Brothers’ Race—Au Revoir to Merry England
In addition to being a consummate horseman, Lord William was an accomplished whip. When in Cork some foolish person made him a bet that he could not, at any rate, drive his coach down the steep and precipitous steps leading from the barracks, thinking they had at last found something he could not possibly do. He, however, closed with the bet at once, saying that he would bet them even money he would. What sum was offered and taken I do not remember hearing, but have been given to understand it was fairly heavy, as the feat was considered impossible and really offered mostly in jest. Imagine everybody’s feelings when next day the coach, with the wheels inside, Lord William strapped to the box, and the four horses well in hand, were seen tobogganing down the steps, and what is more, accomplished it in safety, winning the bet.
Making bets was always a weakness of Lord William’s. He acknowledged it was a fool’s argument, but loved the excitement, moreover generally won, which was an assistance to the exchequer—a matter of some consideration.
It would fill volumes to give accounts of all the mad exploits of those times. Captain Candy was a constant companion of Lord William’s, and many of the thrilling adventures of those early years were shared between them. They appealed to one another, being equally generous and open-handed. Many still living can remember the lavish hospitality dispensed by Captain Candy, though it is the fashion with some to forget the hand that helped them. No one wanting a mount went without, so long as Lord William or Captain Candy had one standing in their stables. Both were riding for a fall, but wished all within reach to share their joys while they lasted.
Hunting from Cork one day these two were riding close together when Captain Candy, in taking a fence, found to his dismay that he was jumping down a quarry, where he landed through the roof of an old woman’s cabin, causing some splutter and consternation among the inhabitants, who thought it must be the Fenians! One side of the cabin had to be pulled down by Lord William before horse and rider could be extricated. Strange to relate, no one was much the worse. I think it would be a toss up which broke most bones during their sporting careers. I myself saw Lord William break his collar-bone twice and dislocate his shoulder three times on separate occasions. Indeed, such small affairs became scarcely matters worthy of comment with him.
From Ireland the 9th Lancers went, in 1868, to Newbridge, then on in ’69—Hounslow; ’70—Aldershot; ’72—Woolwich; ’72—York; ’74—Colchester; ’75—out to India, and stationed at Sialkôte, after which a new leaf was turned over in Lord William’s life, and the writing on the page took another form.
He had a very uneventful time while the regiment was at Newbridge, but while at Hounslow he was a good deal in Town, where his clubs saw him fairly often. At Pratt’s one night he was talking to some friends about a pet badger he had that could hold its own against any dog. Someone, I think it was Captain “Chicken” Hartopp of the 10th Hussars, said they would like to see the animal, to which the owner replied, “So you shall. What do you bet I will not walk down to Hounslow and bring it back here by ——?” naming some incredibly short time in which to accomplish the mission. Considering it almost out of the question that this could be done in the time, a very respectable sum was bet, and off started the badger owner to fetch him, the bargain being that he must walk both ways. It was therefore necessary to do some smart heel and toe work, which he carried out faithfully, keeping a watch on the time as he went along. The badger, as far as history relates, does not seem to have shown the least surprise at his master turning up in the middle of the night in once immaculate, but now very dusty, evening dress, and hurrying off with him in his arms through the lamp-lit West End, to the amazement of policemen and a few belated wayfarers. They both arrived within the stated time, the bet being won, though the badger lost a beauty sleep.
The old Raleigh Club was a great institution in those days, much frequented by the frisky men of the time, and all young officers quartered within possible reach. It was quite the thing in night clubs. Its doors opened at dusk; when they closed, I do not know, probably shortly before business people in the suburbs were eating their early breakfasts. At any rate, nobody was anybody, who did not belong to this club, which was approached by a tunnel, adding mystery and charm. Within these portals huge sums of money changed hands, highly flavoured stories circulated, and cards figured largely; so did swearing, if I may believe what I am told. In fact it was considered a sign of military efficiency.
One of the great surprises of my life was finding out, after I married, that some of the most sedate-looking and highly proper people I had been brought up amongst, who looked as if they would faint if anyone said “Damn!” in their presence, were, in reality, constant visitors at this club, and other popular rendezvous of fame at that time, while their wives imagined they were seeing the boys off to school, or some other highly domestic duty. As it was put to me, some of these elderly friends of my early youth were among those who “kicked up the most row.”
There was that great fine Irishman, the late Colonel King-Harman, most majestic of men and model parent, who came to children’s parties and danced with poor awestricken me, my feet seldom touching the ground, but my heart full of admiration for so king-like a being. The Raleigh knew him as one of the merriest, always ready for a rag.
Lord Alfred Paget, equerry to Queen Victoria, whom I used to admire so much when I was a child, sat in front of us in church one winter in the Isle of Wight. His commanding carriage, handsome dark eyes, and beetroot complexion fascinated me; and he was so decorous and good in church, with a pew full of daughters all apparently reverencing him as I did, for he spent such a long time bending over the pew and gazing into his hat when he came into church. And the gallant way in which, without a smile, smallest hesitation, or fluster, he disentangled the bonnets of two ladies who got mixed up in front of him one Sunday. It came about through the lady in the front pew getting up from her knees before the lady in the seat behind her had completed her devotions. Consequently, when she did get up the spangled aigrette in her bonnet mixed itself up hopelessly in the veil and sweeping plume of the head-dress in front of her. Both tugged and pulled, growing redder in the face and angrier each moment. My eyes were riveted on the couple, appalled, wondering whose headgear would be pulled off first, when the gallant equerry, without moving a muscle of his face, reached over with his long arm and gave one healthy tweak which separated the two bonnets, while a shower of tinkling bugles fell from the aigrette to the floor, but still no sign of mirth on the deliverer’s face. While walking home after the service my father congratulated him on the speedy way he had freed the ladies, but Lord Alfred was not unduly mirthful even then, when out of church and all was over. Yet he too was no stranger at the Raleigh.
Oh, yes, and there were many more who took part in those festive evenings of long ago. Lord Hastings, a friend of Lord William’s, and like him most generous, in his case too generous to last, unfortunately; Colonel Valentine Baker, afterwards Baker Pasha, with his gentle voice and tragic history; Colonel Shaw of the London Fire Brigade and patron of the Gaiety Theatre: all of whom I had regarded with youthful awe and reverence.
It was in the Raleigh that Lord William and one of his brothers, Lord Marcus, I believe, or both of them, for some reason, or perhaps for no reason, put the hall porter into the refrigerator. The heat of the man’s body, or his language, caused the ice to melt, so one of them drew from the tap some water into a tumbler and sent it with his compliments to a friend in the smoking-room, describing it as “Garçon Glacé.” The porter was left in a little too long, and there was some trouble afterwards. This became known as the “Garçon Glacé” incident. Everyone thought it funny except the waiter, and he had to be pacified. Derby week was the time when the Raleigh excelled itself.
Cards never really fascinated Lord William as racing did, and in later years he seldom touched them, but in the ’sixties and early ’seventies there was an epidemic of high play which nothing seemed able to restrain. If cards were forbidden for high stakes at clubs the members used to hire houses and play, or go to hotels, even play in their bedrooms if nowhere else was available. Sharp practice, however, was not in vogue at that time; it followed later, many stately homes being broken up in consequence.
Poor old Raleigh! I wonder if to-day any of the ghosts of the past re-visit it and look on in wonderment at the changed conditions. Now, it is a club for overseas soldiers, who seem to have caught a little of the infection, for during the heavy snow-storms of the early part of this winter (1916) the present club men gathered on the roof and hurled snowballs at the passing taxi and ’bus men, while a crowd gathered to watch the fun. The cabmen and other recipients of the missiles seemed to enjoy the joke, glad to see the soldiers amusing themselves after their strenuous time at the front. Truly change is the order of the universe, one of its most unalterable laws, and we must march with the times, in step to its music. Much as we may look back on the golden “have been” days, we must not allow ourselves to become old derelicts, towed along in the wake of progress, but adapt ourselves to the many changes, though never ceasing to regret the loss of friends and playfellows of the olden days.
Early in ’69 Lord William began taking an active part in regimental races, also in any others where he saw a chance for any of his stud. On April 1st that year he ran a horse in the Queen’s County Steeplechases, the Scurry Stakes, 1 sovereign each with 20 added. Distance 2½ miles.
Four horses ran:—
Lord Wm. Beresford’s Fenian Captain Candy.
Mr. Crosby’s Joe Miller Mr. Onion.
Mr. Mole’s Bashful Captain Morgan.
Mr. Corcoranthe’s The Isle Mr. Burnett.
The Fenian won in a canter, Joe Miller second, and The Isle fell.
I have an idea that the Captain Morgan riding Bashful was none other than the well-known Captain Freddy Morgan, brother of the Lord Tredegar of Balaclava fame, who, in the great charge, rode a horse called Mr. Briggs, on which he won a steeplechase before going out and another on his return, both being among the lucky ones.
I think this was the first year Lord William appeared as a winning owner. This success was followed very quickly by another on April 27th in the Subalterns’ Cup, presented by Mr. Palairet of the 9th Lancers, added to a sweepstake of two sovereigns each. Distance two miles.
Lord Wm. Beresford’s Fenian Captain Candy.
Mr. Herbert’s Mephistopheles Owner.
Mr. Mackenzie’s Black Bess Captain McCalmont.
Mr. Green’s Tommy Nodd Captain Clayton.
Mr. Wheeler’s The Nigger Owner.
The Fenian won by a length, Mr. Herbert’s Mephistopheles second. An Irish account of this race was very Irish. I give it verbatim: “Betting 6 to 4 on Mephistopheles, 5 to 4 against Fenian, was a most curious affair throughout. Mr. Herbert on Mephistopheles was winning in a canter, but on the end of the enclosure (paddock presumably) showed a great disposition to bolt, and a great desire to follow the Nigger, who had been pulled up and was returning home by a short cut to the enclosure gate. Mephistopheles suddenly stood still next the palings to follow the Nigger in, and the Fenian came up in time before Mr. Herbert could get his horse going again, and gained the verdict, amid much excitement, by a length.”
Judging by the rather curious account Mephistopheles ought to have won, but refused to play the game, giving the Fenian an opportunity his rider was not slow to take advantage of. But then it is just those off-chances that constitute the excitement and uncertainty of racing.
Lord William did not have a mount at this meeting, and only won the above race, although several of his horses were entered.
Maid of the Mist carried his colours ridden by Captain Clayton, but was nowhere in it. Captain Candy won riding his own mare Rosebud. In another race Captain Clayton rode Lord William’s Cyclops, which fell. This again was won by Captain Candy on his Park Mount. Maid of the Mist had another try in the Four-Mile Handicap Steeplechase, ridden this time by Captain Grissell, but the race was won by Captain McCalmont on Bicycle. In the Flying Plate, Mr. Herbert rode Mumbo for Lord William, but Captain Candy won on Strasburg. To put the finishing touch to a most successful day’s racing for Captain Candy, he secured under the circumstances the inappropriately named Consolation Plate with Cracker. That was a “Sugar Candy” day with a vengeance. Riding in six races he won five, and was second in the sixth. A record for professional or amateur.
No one was more pleased with his friend’s successes than Lord William, for they were fast friends, and when Captain Candy married the sister of his likewise friend and brother officer, Lord Rossmore, he acted as best man.
It was generally known about this time that the then Prince of Wales was interested in racing, and had been for some time, but owing to Queen Victoria’s objection to the Royal colours appearing on a racecourse, His Royal Highness had been running his horses under other people’s names. In fact, in 1876 Royal won him the Grand National in Captain Machell’s name, long before Ambush II was thought of. His Royal Highness also had a share in Lord “Joe” Aylesford’s horses. Therefore, when the Prince’s racing colours appeared at the 10th Hussars’ Steeplechases, while they were stationed at Hounslow in 1871, I think, it was a day of great excitement, the Prince being in the regiment at the time.
There was no public announcement of the meeting, it being a semi-secret affair held at Down Barn near Southall, within easy reach of their quarters at Hounslow. Consequently there was no big crowd. Nevertheless, it was quite an historic meeting; the rows of drags that lined the course reminded those present of Ascot. The judges were Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, Lord William Beresford, and Lord Rosebery. The card of the day’s racing contained only five events.
Everyone was anxious to see the Royal colours win the Challenge Cup for bona-fide hunters; distance about three miles.
The entries for this race were:—
H.R.H. the Prince of Wales’s Champion, b.g. Captain Rivers Bulkeley.
Lord Valentia’s Wellington, ch.g. Captain Wood.
Hon. P. W. FitzWilliam’s Punkah, b.g. Owner.
Lord Valentia’s Vent Piece, bn.m. Mr. Woods.
Mr. Smith-Dorrien’s Marquis, ro.g. Owner.
Major St. Quinten’s Crusader, b.g. Owner.
The Prince drove down from town with Colonel Kingscote in attendance. Captain Rivers Bulkeley and that popular old sportsman, Major Chaine, were the stewards, while Mr. Smith-Dorrien, whose name as a general is so intimately connected with the War, was the most courteous of secretaries. The idol of the hour after the Prince was Captain Rivers Bulkeley, as being the first to wear the famous Royal purple and gold braided jacket with gold and black cap. He must have felt a very proud man, but unfortunately like Humpty Dumpty he had a great fall. At the brook Champion, the Prince’s horse, came to grief, he and the favourite Vent Piece fell together, the riders remounting, and in at the finish. Champion managed to regain so much ground that hopes were raised once more of a Royal victory, but in the last half-mile he showed distinct signs of having taken too much out of himself at the brook, so was overtaken by Wellington, who won for Lord Valentia by ten lengths. Champion second, Punkah third.
It was a great day. I wonder how many good men and true who were there would be able to answer the roll-call to-day?
There were a number of well-known people there besides the Prince of Wales: Lord Westmorland (the handsome Frank) and Lady Westmorland, the Earl of Cork, the Earl of Rosebery, Lord Fitzgerald, Lord Carrington, Lord Clonmell, Lord Charles Ker, Sir George Wombwell, Colonel and Mrs. Owen Williams, and many others.
When the 9th Lancers were at Aldershot, a good deal of mild racing was the order of the day. On one occasion, when Lord William was tooling his coach on to the course, in his endeavours to avoid a runaway carriage and pair, behind which sat a screaming and frightened lady, he managed to upset the coach without seriously damaging any of the occupants. The late Lord Kinnoull, who was on the coach, described it to me. He said he never saw anything so splendid as the way Lord William handled the ribbons. The road was narrow, on the left was a bank with roughly put up rails on top, while speeding towards them on the right-hand side of the road was the runaway carriage. The coachman had lost all control, yet my informant declared if the clatter of the galloping hoofs and the screaming lady had not frightened the horses in the coach, all might have been well. As it was, there was an alarming cracking noise from the wooden railings on the left, a great lurch, and the coach turned over. After this it was difficult to say exactly what did happen, except that there was a general mix up, and the poor lady in her runaway carriage continued her career down the road. It was characteristic of Lord William that he was more concerned about the fate of the screaming lady than with his own predicament.
So far Lord William had only been a winning owner. His first appearance as a winning rider was across the Long Valley at Aldershot. I give the race card.
9th Lancers’ Steeplechase
Aldershot, April 27th, 1872
The Subalterns’ Cup, added to a sweepstake of 2 sovereigns each with 10 added. Three miles.
Lord Wm. Beresford’s Star-gazer, b.g., 10st. Owner.
Mr. Wheeler’s Frolic, ch.m., 11st. Captain Williams.
Mr. Moore (St. Leger) Portfire, 11st. Owner.
Mr. Butson’s The Finnigan, 11st. Captain Grissell.
Hon. E. P. Willoughby’s Lowthorpe, br.g., 12st. Owner.
Hon. E. P. Willoughby’s Irish Kate, 11st. 7lb. Captain Palairet.
Star-gazer won, which was a creditable performance, being his second race that day, and taking into consideration that he fell in the first. The earlier race he had taken part in was the Regimental Cup, which was won by Captain Willoughby on his good horse Langar. He won many races for his owner, who always rode him, including a great point-to-point at York, when the Duke of Clarence was present. Captain Willoughby was of great repute in the 9th on account of his performances in the pig-skin as a steeplechase rider and polo player; also Major McCalmont, a great judge of a horse. He once bought what he thought a likely looking animal out of a thrashing-machine for £45, which turned out a brilliant and valuable steeplechaser. The present-day General, D. M. G. Campbell, was also in the regiment at that time; he has been wounded twice in the present war, and is still out there at the time of writing, with what remains of those who were present at Mons.
It may interest present-day race-goers to know that in ’72 the “chases” were run at Aldershot the reverse way of the course, though on the same land as at the present time, finishing at the bottom, instead of the top of the hill. There was then no Terraced Mount for the officers and their wives.
Lord William worked hard at this meeting, having seven mounts, winning one race, and being second in another. Star-gazer does not sound like a very comfortable mount for “chasing.”
From Aldershot the regiment went to Woolwich, but I know very little of that time. Polo was in vogue, and some good games were played, it being then in its youth as far as England was concerned, though it had been played for centuries in Persia. The Manipuries first introduced it to the British in 1862, on the Calcutta racecourse. After this it was taken up by the 11th Bengal Lancers, but it was not played seriously in England until 1874, when the 5th Lancers became enthusiastic, after which it became fashionable.
The Manipuries, who love the game, play it in the streets of Upper Bengal, on scraps of ponies about twelve hands high, playing just as they feel inclined, with both hands and short mallets. At first when the game was played by the English, the rules were somewhat slack; everybody played on what size pony they pleased, crossed and recrossed each other, besides other curious things.
Now the rules bid for greater safety and greater enjoyment, though I remember as late as 1883, or thereabouts, at Lucknow, where the 10th Hussars were then playing, they habitually sent down to the ground a doolie or two for the removal of the sick and wounded after a game. A doolie is a sort of hand ambulance, carried by natives. In India the ground is so hard that if anyone gets a fall it is like coming down on pavement. It is a mystery to me how the ponies’ legs stand it, and the 10th played a fast game.
They made a great name for themselves at polo, and when they left the country their ponies were all put up for sale. People came to the sale from far and wide, for the ponies naturally carried a reflected glory from the prowess of their riders. I well remember the sale. Of course there were some valuable ponies sold which had made names for themselves, but there were not a few that had done nothing very great, and their owners were staggered at the big prices they fetched, simply because they belonged to the 10th, and people therefore thought they must be good polo ponies.
When one of the officers came to say good-bye to us, he gave a most amusing account of the bidding and some of the bidders. Speaking of one of his ponies that I knew very well and used to ride sometimes in paper-chases, he said: “You know the poor old pony cannot gallop faster than I can kick my hat.” This was embroidering a little. It was a handy little beast and had played in many a game of polo, helping out the stable on occasions though by no means one of the owner’s best; nevertheless it realized a price that trebled what had originally been paid for him, and after a couple of years’ work.
9TH LANCERS’ POLO GROUPS AT WOOLWICH
Left to right. Standing: Capt. Clayton, Mr. Palairet, Capt. de la Garde Grissell, Capt. Fife
On ground: Lord William Beresford, Mr. Moore
During the early days of polo there used to be sad accidents, and sad rows too sometimes; the amenities were not so refined as they are to-day, though even at polo I have observed occasionally a soft answer may turn away wrath.
From Woolwich, Lord William went with his regiment to York, and to this day the period the 9th Lancers were quartered there is remembered as a red-letter time, for they were a great social success. At that time the neighbouring country houses were more often in the occupation of their owners than they are now, and Yorkshire could boast of its old-fashioned hospitality and love of sport. I have heard the north country accused of being boorish and stiff, but this is a matter of opinion with which I, personally, do not altogether agree.
An amusing incident happened outside the solemn old club which stands close to the Lendal Bridge at York. Lord Rossmore went into the club one evening just in time to see one of the servant girls from the kitchen regions make her escape from a young man who was evidently annoying her. She fled down the area steps; Lord Rossmore collared the youth, and began giving him a lecture of an improving nature. At this moment, who should come out of the club but Lord William. He at once scented battle; without having the slightest idea what it was about, but longing to be in it, he cried, “Let me have him, Derry. Oh, do let me have him.” “No,” replied the other, jealous of his capture. “I found him; he is my man.” They became so absorbed in the argument as to who should make the prisoner’s teeth chatter that the man took the opportunity to make his escape. Looking round and discovering his loss, Lord Rossmore indignantly reproached his friend. “Now look what you have done!” he cried; “this is what comes of trying to steal my man.” Then as the absurdity of the whole thing struck them, they laughed until their sides ached. After which Lord William apologised profusely for having spoilt “Derry’s” sport, and losing his man.
It was on that same Lendal Bridge, on another occasion, that Lord William and the late Mr. Joseph Leeman, m.p., as a matter of detached interest spent an hour one night, or rather early one morning, struggling desperately to see which could put the other over the high balustrade of the bridge into the river below. Each in turn would get the other up to within an inch or two of the top preparatory to a bath in the Ouse, which always looks particularly uninviting just there. Lord William made one splendid effort regardless of popping buttons and bursting braces to get Mr. Leeman up, and thought at last he had accomplished it, but down he came with a rush. A wrestle then ensued all across the road, each trying to get hold of the other in just the right position; the game then began again, this time Lord William being perilously near the top. At last, quite exhausted, they adjourned to Mr. Leeman’s rooms at the Station Hotel, and finished the night (?) there—of course, the best of friends the whole time.
There is another York story, though I cannot vouch for its accuracy; I only tell it as it was told to me. A certain youth joined the regiment who, it was considered, wanted teaching a thing or two, and who at that time they did not like. His clothes did not please them, his face did not please them, in fact nothing about him pleased them. So, while he was out of his room one evening, they, with much difficulty and the help of many people, persuaded a lover of thistles to walk upstairs into his bedroom, where it was put to bed. A large cock with a strong voice was also thrust, protesting, into the dirty-clothes-basket, where it presently fell into a brooding silence of despair. When the unfortunate owner of the room returned he had many exhausting moments with the donkey before he successfully turned it out of the room and could go to bed. At dawn he was awakened from a refreshing sleep by the clarion notes of the cock issuing from the clothes-basket, and he began to wonder if the claret of the night before had disagreed with him, or if it was all a horrid nightmare. This story may, or may not be true, but I knew the youth in question, and that he was not popular then. It is pleasant to be able to remember that, some years later, when he died of consumption, his sterling good qualities and unfeigned good nature had made him so much liked that his loss aroused universal sorrow in the regiment.
In ’74 the regiment moved from York to Colchester, where Lord William seemed to get a great deal of leave, part of which he spent helping his brother, Lord Charles, who was standing for Waterford in the Conservative interest at the request of his eldest brother. They had great fun together, but this has been described in Lord Charles Beresford’s own book.
It was in this same year that the memorable brothers’ race was run at Curraghmore on the Williamstown course. The race is a matter of history now, but I have seen quite lately a controversy about it in the sporting Press, some declaring that Lord Waterford took part in it, others that he did not. Only three took part in the race: Lord Charles, Lord William, and Lord Marcus. Again, there are folk who think it was all arranged beforehand who was to win. Wrong again. Nothing was further from the minds of any of the trio; each meant to win, and each thought he would. The race was run at the Curraghmore Hunt meeting. Three miles. The brothers had a private sweep of 100 sovereigns each.
Anyone not knowing the sport-loving proclivities of the Irish cannot picture the excitement there was in the country over this event. Even the peasant women who knew nothing about racing but something about men, bet on their fancy, some for the one with the curly hair, others for the brave blue eyes, and so on.
Each of the brothers had to ride 12 stone and be on his own horse. The Beresford Blue was worn by them all. Lord Charles, being the eldest, donned the black cap, which sounds rather as if he were condemning someone to death; the others wore white and blue caps respectively to distinguish between them.
THE FAMOUS BERESFORD BROTHERS’ RACE
(1) LORD WILLIAM; (2) LORD MARCUS; (3) LORD CHARLES
Lord Charles thought he had a winner in the black thoroughbred he brought over from England for the race, named Night Walker, which had been bred by a man named Power, the sporting tenant of the course. Lord William rode his grey mare Woodlark, and Lord Marcus a bay gelding, The Weasel. I like to picture these affectionate, sporting brothers jogging off to the starting-post, all eager and happy.
They got away well without delay, and at a cracking pace. Riding boot to boot, charging each fence side by side until near the winning-post, all riding straight and square like the sportsmen they were. Soon the buzz of voices ceased, and a tense silence made itself felt, for the last fence was being neared, and still all were abreast, but now it became apparent that Night Walker had done enough. The struggle then remained between the Weasel and the Woodlark, the latter winning by a short head, so the crowd had some excitement in return for their long journeys and, in many cases, the night spent on the course to secure a good place.
Lord Charles thought his horse got a chill coming over on the boat, and was therefore not up to his best form. Lord Marcus remarked that while each fancied himself enormously he enthusiastically eulogised the other. The photograph of the race here reproduced is taken from the picture hanging at Curraghmore, Lady Waterford kindly having had it taken for me to use in this book. Other races were ridden in that day by the brothers, but not as winners. The tall hat and pink coat worn by Lord William in one of these races inaugurated, I believe, the now common custom of riding in pink at hunt meetings.
The Beresfords all seem to have the whisper understood by horses and dogs, for they have been able to make them do some wonderful things. Lord William’s uncle once jumped a hunter over a dining-room table at Melton one night for a bet. Lord Charles, in his book, tells the characteristic story of his having led a queer-tempered thoroughbred from the road in Eaton Square into the house, along a passage, round the dining-room table, and out again, without disaster. The only sign of rebellion or annoyance on the part of the horse was to kick at the fire in passing just by way of salutation, and to show there was no ill feeling. This enterprise, of course, Beresford like, was for a bet.
At many gymkhanas I have seen Lord William do extraordinary tricks and feats of horsemanship, but of that later.
To return to Colchester, “the brothers’” race being over. On July 25th of that year, the 9th sent a polo team to Hurlingham, where they played against the Blues. In the second contest, Lord William made the first goal for the regiment, and again in the third. The Lancers won. The Prince and Princess of Wales were present, and were much interested in the game.
On September 10th a “Horse Fête and Polo Match” took place between the 9th Lancers and 7th Hussars. The 9th won, eight goals in succession, the handsome cup presented by the Borough consequently falling to them. One of the goals was won by Lord William.
Monday, October 10th, saw the ponies at Tattersall’s, the regiment being under orders for India. Among those of Lord William’s, Madge fetched 62 guineas, Toothpick 36 guineas, The Wren 42 guineas, The Gem 60 guineas, Little Wonder 50 guineas, Madame Angot 20 guineas. Very different to the prices such ponies would command to-day. Before leaving the old country a dinner was given to the regiment by its former officers to wish them luck and au revoir.
JOINS VICEROY’S STAFF
What he Might Have Been—A Happy Exile—Lumtiddy Hall—Unsuccessful Journey to Pay Calls—Appointed to Staff of Retiring Viceroy—First Summer at Simla—Appointed A.D.C. to Lord Lytton—Annandale Racecourse—Birth of The Asian—Dinner to Its Sporting Owner—Winner of Viceroy’s Cup—Delhi Durbar, 1887—Mighty Preparations—A Terrible Accident
It is easy to imagine with what mingled feelings Lord William left England: relief at being freed from the money difficulties that oppress a young man in a swagger regiment in this expensive old country; affectionate regret for the splendid days that were done; the happy family gatherings, before all were scattered; still cherishing some of the ideals of youth to which there is always a sacredness attached. Children usually build mental universes round themselves, and at the age of twenty-eight hope has not died in the heart; that child of happiness still keeps it warm. Lord William, not being one of those who wear their heart on their sleeve, was of the merriest on board ship, full of courage and good resolutions, determined to map out his future on safer grounds than hitherto.
I have often heard it remarked that Lord William might have gained and filled almost any great position in life that he chose, owing to his talents, perseverance, and charm of manner, if it had not been that he was obsessed by his passion for racing and horse-flesh. It is said “he might have been a great soldier”; my reply is, he was. Again: “He might have been a great statesman.” I reply, that in a measure he was. To be the right-hand man of and Military Secretary to three successive Viceroys, and a capable A.D.C. to three, speaks for itself. What more could he desire, unless it was to be Viceroy? which would not have appealed to him in the least. Some of his friends have said they regretted his not having entered the Diplomatic Service, which shows how little they understood him, for nothing could have been less attractive to him, or more foreign to his nature, than a life of trying to make black look white; though an adept at bamboozling people for their own advantage, and smoothing rough corners for their happiness, to bamboozle them to their detriment, and smile with the face of a truthful prophet while so doing, would have been impossible to him; also he was much too loyal for that profession, who proverbially, as a class, are not given to standing by one another. Any question that he had to decide he would gladly have done with his fists, or sword, but not by parliamentary inexactitudes. Besides, who among those who knew him would have liked to see him any different from what he was?
India appealed to Lord William, he liked it from the first. Perhaps he, more than some, felt the loneliness inseparable from landing in a strange country for the first time, with a career to make out of nothing; far from the help and glamour of home associations, feeling rather like goods on a market stall, from which the ticket describing their merit and value has fallen, leaving the said goods to prove their own merit, and so create their own price.
Starting a life in any new country, individuals are only a number to begin with. Yet India is one of the kindest to strangers, there is something in the atmosphere that melts the Northern “stand-off” attitude. All are exiles, which forms a bond of sympathy, uniting them into one big family, so to speak. It is good for all to find their own level; travelling assists them, gives them a new education. There is much to be learned in a large mixed cosmopolitan concentration, where princes, rajahs, judges, generals, police, subalterns who know everything, old men who believe nothing, middle-aged men who suspect everything, all rub shoulders, look well groomed and comfortable, yet all with the same longing for home in their hearts.
At Bombay, Lord William met his brother, Lord Charles, then in attendance on the Prince of Wales; this meeting was a great pleasure and took the chill off the landing.
Sialkôte is a pleasant station, more shady than many, boasting fine trees and a certain amount of vegetation. A charming bungalow was secured and shared by Captain Clayton and Lord William. These stable companions were greatly attached to one another; the former had a good influence over his wild-spirited friend, who quite recognised and appreciated the fact.
LORD WILLIAM BERESFORD AND CAPTAIN CLAYTON
The bungalow was christened “Lumtiddy Hall.” In the photograph the tenants are seen sitting in the verandah, the servants standing outside. I do not know why people always collect their servants and stand them round the front door in India when having photographs taken. It is not the habit at home. I think it must be with a view to introducing the drapery and surroundings of our new lives to our relations elsewhere to whom we send the pictures, more than anything else. At any rate everyone does it, and the native servants like it; indeed now I come to think of it, I am not sure that it is not an arrangement of their own.
Some of the things I shall have to touch on will not be new, I dare say, to readers familiar with India, but there are other friends of Lord William’s to whom the customs and etiquettes are unknown; they may like to have some idea of his life, duties, pleasures and general surroundings, also the way he fulfilled his obligations. Among the latter I must not forget to mention the dutiful way he and his brother officer, Mr. Charles Lascelles, started paying calls after the fashion of the country. Armed with an alarmingly long list, they rode out determinedly from the mess on their ponies. The first bungalow they came to, where they intended to pay their respects, had straw laid down along the road and up to the door. Lord William pulled up, frowning wisely: “We had better call here another day,” he announced, after deep thought. “Why?” asked Mr. Lascelles innocently. “My dear fellow! don’t you see all this straw down? Someone must be ill; having a baby or something most likely,” replied the sage.
Horrified at the thought, and impressed by his friend’s knowledge and insight, Mr. Lascelles agreed fervently, and they rode on to the next bungalow. Here again they found straw laid down.
“Surely they can’t all be doing the same thing at once, can they?” said the astonished Mr. Lascelles.
“You can never be sure what they do out here,” replied the other. “In any case you can’t be too careful.” So they rode on.
To their amazement they found straw at each bungalow, so they returned to the mess to announce the discreet reasons for their failure. The mess was delighted, and it was not till some time after that the two were informed that the straw was there to prevent the prevailing dust from entering the bungalows.
New-comers in India find the rules appertaining to paying calls at times amusing. The first thing that appears strange is the conventional calling hours, being among the hottest in the day, when quite possibly the people being called on are trying to keep cool by lying in baths or under punkahs. A clatter of hoofs is heard, followed by a voice shouting, “Qui Hie!” which means “Somebody.”
There ought to be a servant or two sitting on the verandah, but at times they are not to be found, their beloved hubble-bubbles having enticed them away. So the callers continue riding round the house shouting for “Somebody” plaintively until “Somebody” is found, and a few well-chosen words addressed to him in the visitor’s best Hindustani. Calling out there is altogether an unconventional art.
I remember once at Sitapur, where all the officers of a newly arrived battery of artillery dutifully called on us, with exception of a Mr. Ross, who happened to be a particular friend of my husband, so that his non-appearance caused us some surprise. At last he came and apologised for not having been before by saying that he had been awaiting his turn for the calling suit of clothes. Being youngest, his turn came last! Poor soul; he was afterwards frozen to death in the Afghan War. Found dead, still sitting erect on his horse.
To return to Lord William; India was not long in finding out that a good sportsman and a judge of racing had arrived in its midst. Before many weeks had passed he had made himself felt, and was to be seen officiating as judge at some pony races. His first appearance in the pig-skin was in October of the same year (1875), when he rode a raw, hard-mouthed horse named Clarion for a friend in the Grand Military Chase, having amongst his opponents that well-known splendid horseman Frank Johnson, who won on a horse called Ring, Clarion being third. After this he continued to ride a number of mounts for friends and acquaintances.
It was about this time that Lord William was appointed A.D.C. on the staff of the retiring Viceroy, Lord Northbrook, who was being succeeded by Lord Lytton, one of Disraeli’s appointments. While learning his new duties at Calcutta, Lord William did a little racing, winning the Corinthian Purse on a black Waler called Dandynong, for his friend Captain Davidson, the Prince of Wales being present at the time. It did not take him long to master the duties of an A.D.C. or to become popular, for he really commenced a new era in the social life of India. Things began to hum, and everyone began to enjoy the races, dances, picnics and paper-chases he inaugurated. He was soon surrounded with friends.
When Lord Lytton took over the Viceroyalty he retained Lord William as A.D.C. on his staff. In April of that year, Colonel Colley, who was Military Secretary to the Viceroy, wrote, in a letter to Lady Lytton: “Lord William Beresford is full of fun and go, and is being placed in charge of the stables.” So he was already doing the work and fitting into the corner for which he was so admirably suited.
The summer of ’76 was spent at Simla, his first introduction to the place where he was to spend so many summers of his life.
In a letter written home at this time, he speaks of being happy with the Lyttons, and pleasure at having the management of the horses.
9TH LANCERS’ MESS, SIALKÔTE, 1876
Lady Lytton, referring to this time, says: “I noted that Lord William managed the stables admirably, and our coachman Wilson was very happy under him”; from which it may be inferred that Wilson was a good servant, or he would not have been happy under Lord William’s eye, for he was very particular, and would not be content unless everything was properly turned out and in perfect order. It may not be generally known that only three people are allowed to have carriages in Simla, namely, the Viceroy, the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief Commissioner of the North-West Provinces. The Viceregal party are often the only ones to avail themselves of this privilege. The rule sounds a little selfish and high-handed, but it is explained by the fact that there is only one road where it is possible to drive, and that one is very circumscribed. The inhabitants of the station live in houses dotted about the hillside, approached in many cases by scrambling paths, up which people have to be carried in janpans (a sort of chair slung on bamboo poles and carried by four bearers), ride, or in a rickshaw, a sort of bath chair pulled by native servants.
Carriages are therefore white elephants in the hills; and even for riding it is necessary to have sure-footed and quiet ponies.
There are so many books dealing with Indian life I feel that it is rather superfluous to explain that the official residence of the Government is, during the summer, at Simla, and at Calcutta in winter. Lord Lawrence, the Viceroy in 1863, first started Simla as the official summer residence, taking all his assistants and council with him, the reason that this particular station was chosen being that it was the only place in the Himalayas, or indeed any of the Indian mountains, where there was sufficient accommodation for the followers in his train. It was also easy of access and had a good road to it, compared with those of the other hill stations. Of course, like most innovations, it met with a certain amount of grumbling from those who considered they could have chosen a better spot, and each successive administrator tried to go one better by suggesting some other place. Up to now, no other place has been found more suitable, so it may be taken for granted that Lord Lawrence made a wise choice. Anything less like a government house, at that time, than the Viceregal Lodge, rejoicing in the name of Peterhoff, it would be difficult to imagine, being nothing more or less than a glorified bungalow, standing on the edge of what in England we should call a precipice, and in India a hillside or khud, and with very little ground round it.
Having heard that there was a racecourse, Lord William, in his first spare moments, went to see it, finding this dignified title applied to a small, more or less flat piece of ground lying between two hills, the roads to it being zigzag paths, hollowed out by the mountain torrents during the winter and monsoon, to which a little assistance was given by the authorities to make them safe. No carriage could get there, nevertheless this little spot was a source of joy and health to many, for here every Saturday races were held, occasional cricket matches, and other health and pleasure giving exercises, to which all the inhabitants and visitors thronged. All the world and his wife used to go, also other people’s wives, for there are always any number of grace widows in the hill stations, whose husbands are unable to get leave to accompany them, or at any rate only for a short time. Annandale was the name of this little basin where the races were run at that time. I was introduced to it a few years later, and thought its primitiveness added to its charm. There was no such a thing as a grand stand, or even an un-grand one. People sat about on the hillside to watch the racing. There was a small shed, if I remember rightly, where Reigning Royalty could shelter, should the necessity arise, which formed a sort of holy of holies where they could carry out the exclusiveness necessary to their position, so odious and trying to many of them.
Now there is a gorgeous thing in pavilions, as will be seen by the photograph, but I do not feel any ambition to go there, liking the memory of Annandale as it was in earlier times too well to have any desires for buildings comfortable or otherwise, in that historic little corner. After a race meeting there was a general scramble up the hillside again to dress for dinner and the evening’s amusements, of which there were plenty; Lord William took care of that; theatricals, dances, concerts, Christy Minstrel performances, and at times quite classic and dignified oratorios, besides endless private parties and social gatherings.
Government House has to fulfil its obligations, and give a certain number of dances and parties, so has the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor of the North-West Provinces, this being one of the things they are out there for. Some live up to the letter of the law, so to speak, others are full of hospitality and private enterprise, especially those with young people of their own out there with them.
On August 6th there were great rejoicings, a son being born to Lord Lytton, who was away in the hills at the time in connection with his work. Lady Lytton, in a letter speaking of the many kindnesses of their A.D.C., says: “Lord William rode twenty-six miles to Fagoo with letters (to Lord Lytton), and brought me back the answers and congratulations the same evening,” which is just the kindly sympathetic thing he would do.
The work and responsibility attached to the life of a Viceroy is great and anxious. It is well that he should have sympathetic workers under him who will relieve him, as much as possible, of all unnecessary worries and anxieties. Lord William felt this keenly, and all the Viceroys he served under expressed their gratitude for his never-failing thoughtfulness and unselfish devotion.
When it is realised that this one man, with his handful of councillors, keeps in touch with 207,000,000 Brahmins, 9,000,000 Buddhists, 62,000,000 Mohammedans, 2,000,000 Sikhs, 1,300,000 Janns, 94,000 Zoroastrians (Parsees) and 8,000 Jews, not counting the 8,000,000 of the aboriginal tribes whose religion I do not know, considers all their grievances, studies carefully all their superstitions and traditional etiquettes, managing to keep all more or less happy, it seems a superhuman task.
That such comparative contentment reigns is eloquent of the amount of thought and care devoted to the smallest detail of government. Lord Lytton came to the country knowing little of it or its people, but quickly made a study of both, and was deeply interested.
It has always struck me that Lord Lytton’s way of expressing himself was exceptionally charming. His letters home, and to the Queen during anxious times, are delightful to read. Lord William described him as a most considerate Chief, and regretted that he was not stronger, as he was so keen, and worked so hard, that he exhausted himself. The years of the Lytton administration were full of anxious and busy times.
In October, Lord William found time to ride a race or two at Dehra, winning one, thanks to good judgment and riding, on Red Eagle for a friend, also the Doon Chase on Commodore for Captain Maunsell.
A little later, at Umballa, he rode for Mr. George Thomas, and won a hurdle race on Fireman. On returning to Calcutta from Simla he was elected a steward of the Calcutta races, having already joined the Turf Club. Among the other stewards for the year were Lord Ulick Browne, the Hon. W. F. McDonnell, and Captain Ben Roberts.
It is a matter of regret that in the early years of Lord William’s sojourn in India, there was practically no sporting paper to chronicle his many endeavours and triumphs; the only thing of the kind being a rather superannuated Oriental Sporting Magazine, which was more or less in a moribund condition, although run by good sportsmen, some of whom were, perhaps, growing a little out of touch with the views of the rising generation. It was not until 1878 that The Asian was started as a sporting venture, by an energetic person called Mr. William Targett, who, though he knew nothing about horses, felt that he was filling a long-standing want, which the success of his paper proved to have been a correct and business-like surmise. The paper may still be doing useful work for all I know, although it has lost its original and popular proprietor, whom Lord William liked so well. While speaking of The Asian and Mr. Targett I think the following little story is interesting.
Mr. Targett was at home in 1894 on one of the holidays he allowed himself every three years. The time was drawing near for his return to India, so some of his oldest friends in this country convened a little “au revoir” banquet at the Victoria Club in Wellington Street.
Fully a hundred sat down, all good sportsmen hail-fellow-well-met. Mr. Targett was evidently much pleased at the kindly feeling that had prompted his friends to give him this send-off. All were in their places except the intended president. Suddenly the door flew open and the voice of the arranger of this merry meeting announced: “Gentlemen, allow me to introduce your chairman, Lord William Beresford.” Many present knew he was in England, but few that he was in London, therefore little did they expect his presence. This surprise was arranged between Lord William and Mr. Meyrick (the well-known writer of “Sporting Notes” in the Sporting Times) with a view to giving the proprietor of The Asian pleasure.
Mr. William Targett was delighted, and grasped his lordship’s hand, saying: “What, you here, Bill!” The quick reply came: “Yes, Bill; I’m here and so pleased at the invitation!” Wherever Lord William was, there it was lively, and this feast lasted three good hours, until he was obliged to keep what he referred to as an “austere appointment,” but at the end of his response to the toast of his health he took the whole room into his confidence with the concluding sentence: “Gentlemen, while you are thinking about your Christmas dinner, Targett and myself, with good luck, hope to be on the Calcutta racecourse; and I must tell you that this week I have, I think, purchased the winner of the Viceroy Cup—Metallic—for my old friend Orr-Ewing. Good night and good luck to you all.”
One jubilant and well-known Umballian present shouted: “I am betting on the Viceroy’s Cup. Who wants to back his lordship’s tip?” He quickly found customers. The recounter of this story to me added that he risked a little bit, and was pleased to find on the following Christmas week that Metallic had won, and he therefore the better off by a “tenner.” It was kind of Lord William to find time to give his little Calcutta friend this pleasant surprise, considering that every one of his own friends and relations were clamouring for his time.
But to return to 1876 in the East. At the close of the year, all official India, and a great deal of the unofficial, gathered at Delhi for the Proclamation of the Queen as Empress of India on January 1st, 1877. This entailed unceasing work on the Vice-regal staff, and all Government officials, both civil and military. The assemblage was to last fourteen days, and the heads of every departmental government in India were to be present, besides 14,000 troops, seventy-seven ruling princes and chiefs, and 68,000 people were invited and actually stayed in or around Delhi.
Only those who have been in the vicinity of, or engaged in, the preparations for any big gathering in India can imagine for a moment the amount of galloping and fuss, the thraldom of official red tape and etiquette to be punctiliously observed, the number of contradictory orders, the hurt feelings and notes of explanation that are flying about; most of this galloping, between head-quarters and heads of departments, being carried out by the A.D.C.’s.
At last everything was growing shipshape, and people left off saying, “I told you so,” even began to smile furtively once more, for all was in readiness. The Rajahs’ gardens were laid out elaborately round their different tents and camps, each vying with the other to have the best and most attractive display. The elephants had arrived and were amiable and docile. The Rajahs’ horses in readiness, with magenta tails and gorgeous trappings. The jewels laid out and counted. Everything, in fact, ready for the great day. Therefore a little relaxation was considered consistent with good form on the part of the staff and officers in waiting for the great event, consequently a game of polo was arranged for Christmas Day.
This chance game, a thing born of a few spare hours in the midst of the pomp and glitter of Eastern rejoicing, was destined to prove the blackest sorrow of Lord William’s life. Captain Clayton had become to Lord William, what is perhaps the most irreplaceable thing in the world, his best friend, and during this game their ponies cannoned into one another. Captain Clayton’s fell; its rider was picked up unconscious, and died the same night.
THE DELHI DURBAR, 1877
Poor Lord William was wild with grief, and Captain De la Garde Grissell, an old friend and brother officer of his, who was in the camp with the 11th Hussars, was sent for to the Viceroy’s camp to stay with Lord William during the night. Captain Eustace Vesey and Captain Charles Muir sat up with Captain Clayton until he died at midnight. Captain Grissell tells me that they were so anxious that none should do anything for their dear friend but those who had known and cared for him, that he and Captain Vesey made all the arrangements—in India everything has to be carried out so swiftly. There was no undertaker, so a soldier made the coffin and Captain Grissell himself screwed down the lid, both he and Captain Vesey being greatly overcome. The funeral was next day, and a most impressive sight, all the troops at the Durbar taking part. A military funeral is at all times impressive, indeed harrowing, to those who mourn the loss of one who has shared their lives, but it becomes doubly so when the circumstances have been so tragic. He was buried in the graveyard behind the ridge held so long by us during the Mutiny, and he lies with the 9th Lancers who fell at that time and are buried close by.
All the rest of the time Lord William was in India he used to go away by himself on the anniversary of that terrible accident and visit his friend’s grave. So great had the grief been to him that he always felt that he must be alone on that day; alone with his grief and the spirit of his old friend. He did not want to speak; not because there is anything in life too sacred to say or tell, but much too sacred to parody. But the world and all its shows will not stand still for us while we grieve, and Lord William with his good pluck struggled to perform his duties at the Durbar, working so hard that he only had time for a couple of hours’ sleep out of the twenty-four. The strain was too much for him, and he fainted while sitting on his horse and had to be carried away.
His heart and courage were always too big for his body and strength. Captain Clayton had been his life-long friend, and what made him feel it even more, was the thought that through his pal’s death he had gained his troop.
The actual Durbar appears to have been a success, and the Maharajahs and Princes were so pleased that they each wished to present a bejewelled crown to the Empress Queen, but Lord Lytton, with some of his well-chosen phrases, expressed appreciation, and explained that it would not be expedient, for in the first place the Queen would have a crown for nearly every day in the year, and secondly, it might lead to jealousy and heart bitterness, better avoided, which explanation appeared to be conclusive and void of offence.
On Friday, January 6th, Lord Lytton held a review of all the troops, preceded by a march past of those attached to the native Princes in Delhi.
At this time Lord William was still hard at work studying the etiquettes, ritual, superstitions, religions, and dignified ceremonials so dear to the heart of Orientals, who are all great observers of ceremony. The study fascinated him, and proved of great use later in assisting those he worked for; knowing what to avoid and where to give pleasure. No one can hope to fill any responsible position in India who has not studied and had long education in these matters, and this was so quickly grasped by Lord William, that to the end of his days the Rajahs were among his most faithful friends and admirers.
By January 15th the Viceroy was back in Calcutta, and Lord William riding in races again. He had one of his bad falls in a steeplechase, hurting his nose considerably, besides receiving other injuries. As usual he tried to make light of them, but collapsed and had to be carried home.
Before closing this chapter it will be interesting both to Captain Clayton’s and Lord William’s friends who may not already be acquainted with the fact to know that there is a marble tablet in the church at Curraghmore, placed there by the fifth Marquis of Waterford:
In affectionate remembrance of
William Clayton Clayton,
Captain, 9th Lancers.
For many years the dearest friend of the House of
Born April 23rd, 1839. Killed while playing polo
at Delhi, Christmas Day, 1876.
Another instance of the respect and affection with which Captain Clayton was regarded at Harrow-on-the-Hill, where he was educated. There is a white marble cross in the churchyard, the inscription on the base being:—
In loving memory of
William Clayton Clayton,
Captain, 9th Queen’s Own Royal Lancers.
Born April 23rd, 1839.
Killed while playing polo at Delhi, India, Dec., 1876.
Oh, the merry laughing comrade,
Oh, the true and kindly friend,
Growing hopes and lofty courage,
Love and life and this the end!
He the young and strong who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the March of Life.
So great was the feeling of loss at his death that old friends, Harrovians, soldiers, and indeed those of all classes who knew him, wished to do something to perpetuate his name, and decided to found a scholarship. Subscriptions flowed in, and in 1881 the Clayton Scholarship was founded, valued £40 a year, tenable for three years at Harrow School.
Lasting affection of this kind is not inspired by any but good men, and speaks better for the character of the individual than any words of mine, for words are poor impotent things. England, prolific though she be in men of courage and manliness, can ill spare one of her sons when of the nature of Captain Clayton, whose influence was everywhere for good.
HE WINS THE V.C.
Hero of Khartoum’s Fame and Tragedy, as Private Secretary—Indian Famine—Lord William and the Jowakis—A Month’s Holiday in Afghanistan—Back in Calcutta—Barrackpore Monument to Lady Canning—Lady Waterford as Artiste—Cawnpore Memorial—Racing—Trouble in South Africa—A Favour Granted—Off to the War—A Friend Left in Charge of Affairs—Some Fights for Queen and Country—Some Fights for Private Reasons—Exciting Moments—Irish Bravery of Man and Beast—Two V.C.’s at Dinner—Receives Reward at Hands of the Queen-Empress—A Shower Bath in Dublin—Some Racing and a Row—A Thrice-run Race—Miller Addresses Lord William
It is not possible to give a correct idea of Lord William’s life in India without briefly mentioning the chief measures proposed and carried out during the different Viceroys’ administrations.
He, of course, made it a point of honour never to criticise or express any opinion on the policy or private lives of those he worked for, but being so intimately connected with the Viceregal Court, both in his official capacity and as a valued friend, all movements, military or civil, naturally entailed work for him, and it must be borne in mind that he not only did what his calling demanded, but at all times laid himself out to be useful to his masters and their belongings.
It is worth pausing for a moment to reflect on the life of an Indian Viceroy; we shall then be able to realise what it must have been to them to have a man like Lord William, with his loyalty, ability, and never-failing sympathy and cheerfulness always at their command. No doubt it is a great honour to be asked to represent the King in India, and a much coveted position, but when we look back at the men who have held this high office, it seems that nothing but patriotism, of the highest order, can have persuaded them to leave their own beautiful and stately homes, where they were their own masters, could live in peace with all they loved around them, and where they could mix freely with their neighbours, for the splendid isolation of the Viceregal throne; not having been trained, as Royalty are, to be approached only through mediums, having to sit upon a pedestal from which they must not descend, no matter what their inclinations, and up which none may climb to greet them, is paying a huge price for the honour. They must often feel very lonely, some I know do, and very homesick.
The choice of the staff is naturally a matter of great importance, and a Viceroy usually selects people with whom he can unbend and associate without infringing precedents and necessarily established laws and customs. Not every man makes a good A.D.C.; it is of no use their having views of their own; they are there to do as they are told. Their duties are not very arduous, unless they like to make them so by doing all sorts of kind and thoughtful things not marked on the day’s programme. How unsuited some are for the appointments they hold, was proved by Captain Gordon (later of Khartoum fame and tragedy), who came out from home as Lord Ripon’s private secretary. By the time he had been in the country a few weeks he resigned, as he could not countenance His Excellency’s policy, and expressed his own views somewhat bluntly, which was disconcerting to everybody in turn.
After this little digression we must return to the time after the Delhi Durbar, when famine was casting a heavy shadow over the land, and Lord Lytton decided he would go and see for himself the extent of the misery and distress; no light undertaking, as it entailed much travelling to visit all the different parts, chiefly in the Madras Presidency, the district that had suffered from the same cause in 1853 and 1854. The affected area covered 2,000,000 square miles, where food was wanted for thirty-six million people.
Unfortunately Lord William was not able to accompany His Excellency, owing to his latest racing accident, from which he had not sufficiently recovered. This was a great disappointment to him, for he may have been happy-go-lucky and devil-me-care in his own private life, but there was nothing approaching it in his official capacity, where he was always keen and full of enthusiasm.
Lord Lytton had arrived in India knowing nothing of it “except its myths,” but was hard at work learning more, being somewhat puzzled but greatly interested. Amongst other matters, such as famine and irrigation, there was the ever-troublesome question of our geographical boundaries amongst the Afghan mountains, requiring close study and attention. It would be pleasant to follow the work done on this tour and its far-reaching results, but it has no place here except as far as Lord William was connected with it, so I pass on, simply stating that after a long and careful study of the famine question, Lord Lytton satisfied himself that periodical famines must be expected, and provision must be made for such distressful times during the country’s prosperity. He appointed a famine commission to enquire into it and report thereon, as to means of irrigation and any other measures possible to adopt. This report was issued in 1880, the year of Lord Lytton’s return to England, and was the foundation of the latter-day system of irrigation, developments of communication, and famine insurance, the benefits of these measures to be reaped by his successors.
In September of the same year (1877) His Excellency returned to Simla. In October Lord William had collected a few promising horses and began entering them under his own name. His colours were carried at the Dehra October Meeting by Oliver Twist, Lucifer, and Firetail. Lucifer was a country-bred, on which Captain Chisholme of Lord William’s regiment won two races for him. A little later, at Umballa, he had a good time, Oliver Twist bringing in the shekels by winning the Drawing-room Stakes, ridden by T. Tingey, the chief professional jockey in India at that time. Lord William rode in all the “chases” at the meeting, but scored no wins. He had a fall in the Grand Stand Plate, but was not much the worse, so remounted and rode in another race the same afternoon. The betting and plunging at this meeting amounted to a scandal, especially as many of the losers were more or less penniless. The settling naturally took a long time; indeed, I have heard that some of the winners never got their money at all. This meeting was the beginning of the break up of a very well-known figure in those days, Captain Frank Johnson, one of the handsomest of men, he being one of the heaviest losers.
Lord William’s attention was now turned towards Jowaki, where the Frontier tribes were growing aggressive, and it became necessary to send troops to straighten matters out a little, and he had great hopes of being allowed to accompany them. Lord Lytton complained to the authorities at home that it was somewhat difficult for him, when so little was known of what we called our frontier, as there were no maps to show where our territory really began or ended.
The hill tribes are always rather a problem. All are muscular and warlike, but many of them acknowledge little tribal control or responsibility, which makes it difficult to know whom to deal with. Their chiefs have no control over them, even when they have chiefs, on which point I am by no means clear. The incessant raids on Peshawar and the district could not be tolerated, so Lord Lytton sent troops with instructions to deliver a night surprise, which, for some reason, did not come off until daylight, thereby losing its effectiveness and warning the tribes of our intentions, which was unfortunate. The first stage of this expedition was consequently a failure. After this little miscarriage of justice and retribution, General Keyes was sent with more troops to punish the raiders. This was called the Jowaki Expedition. Lord William begged the Viceroy to allow him to go with General Keyes. Permission being granted he was happy, for this was after his own heart. The General’s instructions were, to cut off the Jowakis from the other tribes, to prevent their neighbours joining in with them. This was successfully accomplished, and a good lesson taught, as the Jowakis’ losses were severe and ours light. After this, there were only about 1500 rebel tribesmen left to deal with. Finding their strongholds destroyed and most of their land in our hands, they gave in, and sent to make terms. Lord William enjoyed himself, as this was his first experience of active service, for which he received the medal and clasp. After several months of climbing mountains in pouring rain, and struggling across torrents, he returned to Simla, where someone asked him the time-honoured question, “What were your sensations when first under fire?” To which he replied, “I don’t remember what I felt like under fire, but I do remember what it felt like under water—dashed unpleasant!”
Under Lord Lytton’s orders the tribal frontiers were thoroughly surveyed and mapped out, also good roads made in every direction, after which the Punjab frontier settled down to peace and quietude.
So many years have elapsed since Lord William was in India, indeed so many since he died, that I am somewhat handicapped by letters and documents dealing with this, and many other parts of his life, having been destroyed. So many of his contemporaries have passed away, also no wife or mother living, with cherished letters and records to help in these Memories. His brothers, though deeply attached to him, were of necessity much apart, each following his own profession, and therefore not in a position to help much about his foreign service.
After the Jowaki Expedition Lord William returned to his duties on the Viceregal staff, keeping one eye on the Russian influence in Afghanistan, hoping he might have a chance of more fighting. He was longing to be back with his regiment, as they were sure to go if there was any serious trouble, and this there was before long. What is now known as the second phase of the Afghan War came after the hasty treaty of Gandamak. The Khyber Pass Force was withdrawn as far as Lundi Kotal, and Sir Louis Cavagnari, a political officer of some repute, was sent with an escort to Kabul as resident, Sir Donald Stewart’s division remaining at Kandahar. As many people expected, this arrangement did not last long, but they were not prepared for the terrible thing that happened.
While the whole country was waiting to hear of the safe arrival of Sir Louis and his escort, news came that he and all with him had been massacred. Thus began the second phase of the Afghan War. Sir Frederick Roberts fought his way up to Kabul and remained there, trying and hanging a number of people, some say wrong ones as well as right, but it was impossible to help it, and no doubt they all richly deserved what they got, so it was just as well. The 9th Lancers were in the thick of the fighting and Colonel Cleland disabled, so Lord William’s old friend, Colonel Stewart Mackenzie, took command. They had great difficulty in saving the guns by getting them across a twelve-foot ditch, the only possible crossing of which had been blocked by a fallen wheeler and the gun stuck fast. Colonel Stewart Mackenzie endeavoured to execute a charge, the second during the day. Meanwhile the officer responsible for the gun gave orders to unhook and spike it. Colonel Stewart Mackenzie’s horse was shot, and, falling on him, he was rescued with the greatest difficulty.
XMAS CARD TO AUTHOR
The accounts of all the deeds of bravery amongst his brother officers made Lord William long to go and share their dangers and hardships, for he loved the “Old 9th,” as he called them. At last, unable to bear it any longer, he asked for a month’s leave. As usual on such occasions, he was tortured by the fear that it would all be over before he got there, so he made elaborate arrangements to do the journey in record time the moment his leave was granted. Booted and spurred, he paced up and down his rooms until the joyful news that his leave was granted was brought to him. He jumped on to a waiting horse and galloped away for Umballa. Fresh ponies were waiting for him at different stages of the journey, which enabled him to catch a train that took him to the rail head of the expeditionary force. Without waiting for food or sleep, he began riding again; here fresh ponies were in readiness for him, and he arrived among his war-worn brother officers scarcely less travel-stained than themselves, after riding day and night for five days, only broken by the train journey. He was in time to accompany Sir Sam Browne, v.c., up the snow-covered Khyber Pass, which he regarded as a refreshing holiday. I give a little sketch sent to me at this time by another friend enjoying the same holiday, which will give a little idea of its pleasures. The Sir Sam Browne mentioned above was destined to be immortalised by the now famous Sam Browne belt. It was the child of the gallant General’s imagination, and first worn on active service during this campaign. Whatever its merits have now been proved to be, it was greeted with contumely and caustic comments by the army, as is customary with all new inventions, but like the Brodrick cap, it has weathered countless storms. I remember men used to speak of it with suppressed passion as “the Christmas tree arrangement.” I do not know why, unless on account of the things supposed to be hung on it.
Soon after Lord William joined him, Sir Sam Browne decided to storm the Citadel of Ali Musjid from the right-hand side of a rocky ridge of some height. General Appleyard at the same time was to lead his brigade up the left side, along a precipitous path, little more than a goat track. Between these two brigades was a deep gorge with rushing water at the bottom. The air was alive with bursting shells fired from the Citadel. The Afghans were engaged in shelling the ridge from end to end, which made it, according to Lord William, “lively.” Shells were even bursting among the advancing columns.
When nearing the Citadel, Sir Sam Browne wished to communicate with General Appleyard on the opposite ridge. Here was Lord William’s chance. He at once volunteered, and General Browne accepted his offer, instructing him to reach General Appleyard as quickly as possible, but to make a detour of the valley to lessen the risk.
“All right, sir,” replied Lord William, who had no intention of making a detour at all. Dismounting, he gave his horse to someone to hold, scrambled down the precipice, and was out of sight in a moment, hidden by the flying earth and smoke from the bursting shells. Reaching the bottom safely, he sat down and took off his boots, partly wading, partly jumping, from rock to rock, arriving safely at the other side. Here he again sat down and lighted a cigarette before putting on his boots and scrambling up the hill, where he delivered his message. He was as calm and collected as when out partridge shooting, in fact calmer than he was sometimes on those occasions, but always with the same fire burning in his keen eyes.
By the middle of December, 1878, General Sir Sam Browne’s column was in occupation of the Musjid, after climbing that stern, sulky-looking Khyber Pass. Lord William’s leave being up, and feeling how good it had been of Lord Lytton to let him go, he hurriedly ate his Christmas dinner with the Headquarters Staff and started on his way back, meeting with some excitement on the way down, as the Afghan hillmen potted at him most of the time from their hiding-places in the mountains.
A month was not long in which to journey to the Khyber Pass, take part in the storming and capture of Ali Musjid, and then return to Calcutta, but proves the old saying that “Where there is a will there is a way.”
Lord William received a medal and clasp and was mentioned in despatches for his share in this campaign.
I do not think a man less brave because he loves doing daring and dangerous things. Certainly he appeals to the imagination no less, though, I suppose, in the last analysis, it is the man who is afraid in his heart, yet does a brave thing by force of will over body, who is the most truly brave.
On his return to Calcutta he took up the thread of life where he had left it, and continued during his lighter moments, racing, dancing and flirting; for he was a veritable butterfly, fluttering from flower to flower and sipping honey in the sunshine. And why not? A little gentle flirtation is good for everyone’s self-respect, and keeps them young. After all, what are a few little silken insincerities? What is flirtation? Simply a social accomplishment, a little mutual sympathy beautifully expressed, and a little repartee. There are not a few who think it is pleasanter to be in sympathy with many than in bondage to one.
When at Calcutta Lord William was fond of spending week-ends at Barrackpore, which is a sort of country residence for the Viceregal people, standing on the banks of the Hugli, and has lovely gardens and grounds, with the advantage of being within a few miles of Calcutta, therefore not much packing up and journeyings required. It was a place much sought after by honeymoon couples. The Vice-reine used to lend it to them, and Lord William had the privilege also of using and lending it when not required by their Excellencies, to those in search of quietness and peace.
After the big official Government residence at Calcutta, this homy countrified house was very restful. All felt the moment they arrived that the official smile might be laid aside for a time and some of the stiffness out of the spine.
There is an interesting monument at Barrackpore erected to the memory of Lady Canning, sister of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, wife of the third Marquis, and therefore aunt by marriage of Lord William. Lady Canning was very beautiful, and like her sister very good. Her husband, Viscount Canning, succeeded Lord Dalhousie as Governor-General in 1856, and when she died in Calcutta, November 18th, 1856, from fever caught while sketching in the Terai, was mourned most sincerely by the community at large, to whom she had always been sympathetic and kind. At the time of her death Lord William was fourteen years old. Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, shared her sister’s love of art and painting, was indeed an artist of merit. Mr. Watts considered her one of the greatest real artists of that time. One of her celebrated pictures hangs at Ford Abbey, a place which she inherited in Northumberland. The picture is entitled “The Miracle of Healing the Two Blind Men.” Some of her book illustrations were also considered by authorities on such matters as excellent. It was Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, who designed the beautiful monument of a guardian angel which stands to-day over the fateful well at Cawnpore, where the unhappy English people were thrown in alive during the Mutiny. Anyone visiting that station in India cannot fail, when driving through that dusty, sun-dried place, to be deeply impressed by this beautiful white, calm-looking figure, spelling pity and peace. It is difficult to prevent bitter and revengeful feelings taking possession of us as we remember all that happened in that historic place, but after looking at that calm, peaceful and dignified figure, a certain feeling of “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” takes the place of revenge. It is seldom that a monument appeals to us in that way; many are grand, great works of art and manipulation, but that white angel at Cawnpore is something more. If my brain had conceived the idea and my hand designed it, I should be a proud and soul-satisfied woman.
The Beresford stable was now seldom idle even when the owner was away. In 1879 his horse Telegram was figuring in Calcutta, winning the Alipore Plate. The same horse got beaten a little later by quite a slow mare called Blue Bonnet, belonging to Mr. E. T. Roberts, which was a piece of bad luck, more especially as the cause was the poor beast’s breaking a blood-vessel, which, however, did not prove a very serious matter, as he was patched up and fulfilled his obligations to his owner by winning the Calcutta Cup on the second day of the meeting.
At Dacca, which is about 150 miles from Calcutta, Lord William won at this time a steeplechase with (I believe) Telegram, and it was rumoured that for some unaccountable reason the Dacca steamer was delayed for a day, instead of starting at the advertised time, which was very convenient for Telegram, as it allowed him to be at Dacca in time for the meeting, which would otherwise have been impossible. Everybody wondered how such an unheard-of thing could have happened. I wonder if Lord William could explain?
It was in the January of 1879 that the Viceroy’s anxieties were increased by war breaking out in South Africa. In case any of my younger readers do not know, or have forgotten, about this war, I had better recall the immediate cause leading up to it.
In 1879 Sir Theophilus Shepstone had annexed the Transvaal. Sir Bartle Frere, as High Commissioner, explained to the Zulu King, Cetewayo, that there must be no more arguing about a certain strip of land claimed both by him and the Transvaal Republic, and to avoid further trouble he had better disband his army. This demand, stated as bare, undiluted fact and shorn of parliamentary terminology, sounds rather high-handed, but anybody interested in the history can read the matter up and form his then more mature opinion, as there were other matters of importance attached to the situation without which it would not be possible to form a fair judgment. At any rate Cetewayo, seeing “no sense in it,” as an old retainer of ours used to say when requested to do anything he did not like, began the row by totally defeating the British troops at Isandhlwana on January 22nd, 1879, which was not a good beginning for us, and we felt rather small.
The horrors of that time must be still fresh in the memories of all persons alive now, who were old enough to read and think in 1879. Lord Chelmsford, who was in command, was greatly blamed for his plan of campaign, but he afterwards retrieved his mistakes to some extent by defeating the Zulus at the battle of Ulundi and taking Cetewayo prisoner. That, however, was poor comfort to those whose dear ones had been sacrificed to his mistakes, that is to say if the disaster was attributable to his errors, which I am not competent to judge.
It was at this battle of Ulundi that Lord William so distinguished himself and won the name of “Fighting Bill,” appearing in Vanity Fair in September the same year under that title, though I cannot congratulate “Spy” on the production, for he represents Lord Bill as a “beery”-looking person, which is the last thing he ever looked in life, but in the picture it will be noticed more than any other of his pictures or photos the resemblance in the eyes and upper part of his face to his uncle, the third Marquis.
Hearing of the unfortunate reverse at Isandhlwana, Lord William was “just mad,” to use his own words, to go and fight in South Africa, and the kind, indulgent Lord Lytton again allowed him to go, this making the third time he had been permitted to leave his work on the staff to which he had been appointed. Doubtless His Excellency admired the spirit which prompted Lord William to again ask the favour, and six months’ leave was granted.
Once more we see Lord William happy and “off to the war,” his soul on fire. He succeeded in getting appointed to Sir Redvers Buller’s staff, and left all his affairs in the hands of a brother A.D.C. with whom he had been sharing a bungalow, and who was a great friend, telling him to attend to all his business for him during his absence, and to open all his letters, adding, “If you find any of them beginning very affectionately you need not go on.” The friend who received these instructions was Captain Charles Muir (now Colonel), at that time not only A.D.C., but also commanding His Excellency’s bodyguard.
Lord William knew how to choose his friends, and felt he was leaving everything in safe and adequate hands, that his interests would be faithfully looked after, and all private affairs treated with tact and delicacy. It was an anxious and responsible position for Captain Muir. There were the private letters to be cared for, the official ones to be answered, the racing stable with its inevitable worries of horses going wrong, men going wrong, and the usual everyday matters to be carried out and adjudicated upon, all this requiring considerable discretion.
Lord William arrived at Durban about the middle of April, 1879, after a tedious journey from Aden in a coasting steamer, which, like excursion trains, seemed to stop everywhere with no particular object, and mostly at horribly unhealthy-looking places.
CAPTAIN CHARLES MUIR (NOW COL.), A.D.C. TO VICEROY AND COMMANDING HIS EXCELLENCY’S BODY-GUARD
LORD WILLIAM AND PONTO
All around the roadstead were the transports that had brought troops from England. This thrilled Lord William to such an extent he could not wait to begin his fighting for Queen and country—that was to follow—so just to keep his hand in he indulged in a fight on his own account in the hotel at Durban, which was cram-full of officers in every branch of the service. This was fight No. 1, before he had reached head-quarters or reported himself; that time-honoured institution he attended to later. Fight No. 2 was another private affair, between himself and a war correspondent named Mr. Fripps, who made some disparaging remark about General Buller, when Lord William delivered a message he had received orders to convey, and which caused the artist inconvenience.
Lord William could not stand this, and said he would not allow anybody to abuse his General, and if they did he would thrash them. Mr. Fripps did not appear the least awed, and suggested when they got back to camp that night they should settle the matter. Amidst the work and excitement of the day Lord William forgot all about the suggested thrashing: not so Mr. Fripps, who turned up before going to bed to see if it was convenient to his lordship to carry out his threat. A fierce encounter ensued, and it was just touch and go who came out on top, when one of Lord William’s arms got rather badly hurt; he wanted to go on fighting with only one arm, but chivalrous Mr. Fripps suggested finishing the fight another day, when he had both arms and it would be fair play. After this they were the best of friends.
Now came the official fighting. Lord William had been hoping for some staff appointment. His lucky star being in the ascendant, the wish was gratified almost immediately, as will be gathered from the above narrative, by General Redvers Buller (at that time Colonel Buller) appointing him, with the sanction of Lord Chelmsford, as his staff officer, in the place of Captain the Hon. Ronald Campbell, who had been killed in a recent battle when fighting against 20,000 Zulus.
Captain Campbell was a difficult man to follow, and Sir Redvers was rather in despair of finding anyone who could fill his place. General Marshall, who knew Lord William better than most people at that time, hearing he had arrived in the country, hastened to bring him to Sir Redvers’ notice, knowing he would be invaluable.
It did not take Lord Bill long to collect his kit and start off on his long journey to join his new Chief up country at Kambula, where he was in command of the irregular Volunteer Cavalry, forming part of Sir Evelyn Wood’s splendid little fighting force, and it was here the Fripps fight already mentioned took place.
Lord William found he was the only staff officer with Sir Redvers, so his hands were soon full. The force of 8000 under his chief were a strange but interesting crowd, made up largely of gentlemen not wanted elsewhere, runaway sailors, Australians, Canadians, and some of the undescribables from South African towns, in fact a cosmopolitan crowd who had volunteered for the period of the campaign for the sum of 5s. a day as pay.
What made Lord William’s work the more difficult was that there were several sub-commands which had originally been forces of their own, all of whom he had to keep up to the mark, work together, make efficient, and content. Every detail had to be arranged by him; also the daily parades had to be inspected.
It was no sinecure being right-hand man to Sir Redvers, for he was a firm, silent martinet, ruling all under him with a rod of iron, and he considered it Lord William’s place to wheel this heterogeneous crowd into line and order. Lord William was, in some degree, of the same way of thinking as his Chief. Both were born fighters, both, at any rate in theory, strict disciplinarians, but Lord William had the happy knack of always drawing the best out of people; his Irish wit, combined with his cheerfulness, was irresistible; even the most cantankerous, the worst funkers, the most lawless succumbed, and became his willing slaves.
June 1st saw Lord Chelmsford’s Army in the Valley of the Umvaloosi, where across the silvery winding river could be seen the Kraal of the Ulundi King, with all its minor attachments surrounding it. Two or three days only had been allowed in which the Zulu Chief had to decide whether he would do as we bid him or not. While the gentleman was making up his mind it was considered wise to find out what sort of ground was in front of our force, over which it was expected we should advance. The orders were that Sir Redvers was to make a reconnaissance across the river without aggravating Cetewayo unduly, before his days of meditation were concluded.
At the appointed hour Lord William and his Chief were to be seen in front of Sir Evelyn Wood’s tent, waiting for the rest of the contingent, made up of all sorts and odds and ends.
Sir Redvers led the way, followed by the rest of the horsemen, Lord William bringing up the rear, to see all was complete. He then galloped forward to join and lead the Scouts, little thinking what stern adventure was awaiting him. General Buller followed with the rest of his party.
Cetewayo, not requiring time for consideration, having quite decided on his course of action, when hearing of our assortment of troops climbing down the bank of the Umvaloosi, at once commenced hostilities, a scattered fire from the Zulus greeting our horsemen. Nothing daunted, they forded the river on the left of a kopje which was evidently being held by the Zulus, and then bending again to the left took it in reverse. The late occupants were seen hurrying through the long grass out on to the open plain in front of our men, who thought they feared being cut off. Lord William and his scouts were pressing on the heels of the fleeing Zulus, some of them not reaching the Kraal they seemed to be heading for.
It looked as if Sir Redvers and his staff officer were going to have an easy time and run straight into Ulundi. This was very exhilarating, and they galloped on close behind the Zulu Chief, who was evidently in command of the fugitives, and possibly from design in their rear. He was a huge, powerful man and a veteran, which was proved by the ring round his head. Suddenly he turned round on the advancing scouts. Lord William being well in advance of the rest, leading his men, could plainly see the Chief marking his distance preparing to use his assegai, and it came. But his opponent was ready, and too quick for him, so dashing aside the assegai, he galloped with his sword up, the point fixed and rigid. The Zulu waited with his shield up. He did not wait long, the impetus given by the pace his horse was galloping carried Lord William’s sword right through the shield and half through the man’s body, entering his heart. He dropped dead, and the assegai was sent home to Curraghmore, where it decorated the corner of Lady Waterford’s drawing-room.
I think we may take it the flight of the Zulus was only to lead our men on, and get them into a tight corner, for suddenly several thousand Zulus appeared out of the long grass which had entirely hidden a deep water-course in which they had been waiting. It therefore became necessary to retreat, and Sir Redvers Buller gave the order to fire a volley and then retire. Lord William and his scouts rode back, followed by many bullets. Two men were killed, and a third wounded, his horse getting away.
Always the first to lead the way into any danger zone, so likewise Lord Bill was the last to leave it. He had been taken by surprise, but was in no way flustered, and with that thought for others for which he was so remarkable, turned for a moment in his saddle, though hotly pressed by the enemy, to make sure all his living men were away and safe; he then discovered the wounded man whose horse had run away, lying helpless and dazed on the ground, but trying to rise. He was a non-commissioned officer, Fitzmaurice by name, and at the mercy of the advancing hordes of savages who were perilously near. Quick as thought Lord William turned his Irish charger and galloped back, threw himself out of the saddle and tried to put Fitzmaurice up on to his horse, but the wounded man was as splendid as his preserver. Realising the delay only meant both being killed—one might possibly escape, but two? It seemed impossible—the Zulus were close on them, so he shook his head feebly, saying, “No,” begging Lord William to leave him and save himself.
Of course Lord Bill would have none of this, and, swearing mighty swear words, yelled at the man, “Come along, you b—— f——” (meaning I suppose “beloved friend”). “If you don’t I’ll punch your b—— (beloved!) head for you.” How characteristic of Lord William. Those who knew him well will be able to picture the fierce way he would say it. Seeing Fitzmaurice was weak from loss of blood and unequal to any exertion, Lord William, though sadly impeded by the arm hurt in the previous private fight, with some difficulty lifted and shoved the man on to his horse, no easy matter on a highly-strung impetuous animal, but it was accomplished, and, hurriedly mounting behind him, galloped for life, but with little hope of escaping, the Zulus following closely. What desperately anxious moments! made doubly so by the wounded man being unable to keep his balance from weakness and loss of blood, twice his weight nearly pulled Lord William out of the saddle, and he felt all was over. Just when beginning to fear he could not support Fitzmaurice any longer, help came in the shape of Sergeant O’Toole, who had seen their danger and rode out in hot haste to the rescue, shooting Zulu after Zulu with his revolver as they came within measurable distance. He then assisted Lord William with his now helpless burden.
It is interesting to note that both those brave men, Lord William Beresford and Fitzmaurice, were Irishmen, O’Toole, who came to the rescue, was Irish, and the horse which bore them into safety was Irish, each so splendid in their several parts; Lord William risking his life to save his countryman, he in his turn refusing to jeopardise his officer’s life, then the plucky Irish horse straining every nerve in response to his master’s bidding, though carrying a double burden of swaying riders. Again, the Irishman that grasped the situation, and without waiting for any word of command, lost not a moment in riding to their rescue, no precious time being lost in wondering what had happened, and if there had been a disaster. Truly a quartet of distinction.
It was hard to tell when they arrived at last in safety who was the sufferer, for all were bathed in gore. Mr. Archibald Forbes, the clever newspaper correspondent, tells the story of how on the afternoon of the same day, hearing Lord William was to be recommended for a V.C., he hurried to his tent to tell him the news, and congratulate him; finding his lordship fast asleep, the sleep of exhaustion, he debated in his mind whether to awake him to hear the good news or let him sleep on and recuperate; deciding on the former, only to be rewarded by having a boot thrown at his head and being told to go to h—— (heaven, I suppose).
Later on, hearing he really was to be recommended for the Cross for Valour, he remarked it would be no pleasure to him unless O’Toole received one also. I wonder how many men there are who would have thought of that? No doubt O’Toole’s promptness had a good deal to do with the ultimate safety of the party, but it was due to Lord Bill’s courage and kindness of heart that the episode occurred, and to him, assuredly, the greater glory.
In a letter written at this time by Lord William to Lady Lytton he says, speaking of his experiences, “They were indeed two days worth living for, and never to be forgotten. I was lucky in the day’s reconnaissance inasmuch that I helped to save a poor man’s life, whose horse fell with him, about 200 yards from 3000 Zulus. He was half stunned and bleeding a good deal. I galloped back to him and with difficulty got him on to my horse (even more exciting than the gymkhana races two on one pony). The Zulus had come to within 50 yards of us when I managed to start off at a gallop with him, never thinking that the pair of us would get out alive, but we did.”
It will be remembered that it was during this savage war that Prince Louis Napoleon lost his life.
When Lord Bill, or “Fighting Bill” as he was now called, returned to India, many people hardly knew him he was so altered in appearance, owing to his having grown a beard. It certainly entirely changed his face, and his friends were glad when he turned up one morning “in his right mind” as somebody expressed it, or, in other words, shaved, and as he was before he wasn’t.
He was of course fêted and patted on the back, but fortunately he was not a nature this would spoil. At one regimental dinner given in his honour while being carried round the table on the shoulders of some of his old pals he espied in a corner of the room a doctor wearing the ribbon (V.C.), so the moment he could free himself from the affectionate attentions of his friends he made a dive for the doctor, and hoisting him on to his shoulders (regardless of the man’s protests, who thought his last moment had come) ran round the room with him on his shoulders, all present now cheering lustily. It is delightful to remember this sympathetic action of Lord William’s, his blood still at fever heat, from the excitement and lust of battle and the appreciation and applause of his countrymen, yet in the zenith of his pleasure and congratulations on receiving the V.C., the moment he caught sight of the ribbon on another man’s breast at once wished him to share in the applause and cheers of the evening. With quick perception and never-failing sympathy with others, he knew in a moment what memories had been stirred in the old hero’s heart, perhaps a little bitterness for the forgetfulness of mankind, and that chivalrous action of Lord William’s turned his night into day, all present drinking to the two V.C. heroes.
There are in this world a certain number of people who are by nature so jealous they cannot bear to hear anybody praised but themselves, who say when others have performed deeds of valour that it is purely a question of chance and luck, that of course everybody would have done the same if only they had the opportunity. No doubt many would like to do great deeds, give their souls for the opportunity, yet when the moment presents itself, fail to recognise it, and so the golden chance is lost. All are not blessed with a quick perception, dashing courage and an uncommonly human heart.
Deciding that a sight of the old country would do him good, Lord William thought he would finish up the remainder of his leave by dashing home. After figuring out the time it would take going and returning, he found he would have just eighteen clear days for enjoyment. They were a great eighteen days, but hardly restful, though certainly refreshing. The first to greet and congratulate him as the ship neared Plymouth was the Prince of Wales, who was in the Sound at the time with Lord Charles Beresford, and His Royal Highness was the first to convey the news to Lord William that the Queen had been pleased to give effect to the recommendation for the V.C., and that he was commanded to Windsor to receive the reward at the hands of the Queen-Empress. This was a happy beginning to the short but well-earned holiday. The Prince was always a good friend to Lord William, indeed to all the Beresfords. It was seldom one of them was not in attendance in some capacity.
A very happy, light-hearted Lord Bill journeyed to Windsor to receive the modest looking but much coveted bronze Cross “For Valour,” Her Majesty pinning it on to the hero’s breast, but not before he had explained to his Queen he could not in honour receive recognition of any services he had been able to perform, unless Sergeant O’Toole’s services were also recognised, as he deserved infinitely greater credit than any that might attach to himself.
The Queen, appreciating this generosity and soldierly honesty, bestowed the reward also on Sergeant Edmund O’Toole of Baker’s Horse, and Lord William was satisfied. He received a great ovation in London, being especially pleased with the congratulations of the Prince of Wales, who, while shaking him warmly by the hand, made one of those individual and graceful little speeches for which he was so deservedly popular.
When the Prince of Wales became King he grew so weary of wrestling with the pins of medals which would not penetrate stiff material, that he designed a hook for fastening these on, to take the place of the pins, which makes it a much more simple and less fatiguing process. The hook is taken back after the hero leaves the “Presence.”
After a great ovation in London, Lord William made straight for Ireland, going first to the Bilton Hotel in Dublin, then a fashionable resort. He asked his old friend the hall-porter if there was anybody he knew in the hotel, and was informed that Captain Hartopp, 10th Hussars, known to his friends as “Chicken Hartopp,” was in the bathroom, so he quietly went upstairs and locked the door on the outside, then turned on the cold douche from the main source, giving the occupant a rather forcible shower bath. This was followed by strong language from inside the bathroom. Lord William was outside listening, and awaiting events. Presently he heard “I thought there was only one man in the world who would dare to do such a thing, and he is safe in Africa.”
But he soon found out his man was not in Africa, but at home, very much at home in Ireland, where he was pleased to find he was not forgotten, but that if he hoped to visit all the kind friends who sent him pressing invitations he would have to cut himself into a great many pieces.
While preparing to return to India, Lord William was staying with his mother in Charles Street. The Prince of Wales was dining quietly with her one night; Lord William came down without his V.C. medal. The Prince at once noticed its absence and told him he believed his mother had given him the V.C., and he should remember it ought always to be worn when in the presence of Royalty. Lord William, of course, went and fetched it.
The holiday was over all too soon, but there was nothing depressed or “dumpy” about his lordship. At any rate the world was not allowed to see it if he was, for up to the last moment he was playing practical jokes and laughing. One of the reasons why he was always happy and pleased, wherever he might be going, was because he was sure of a hearty welcome, but of course that was thanks to his own amiability and cheerfulness.
Returning to India it was pleasant to be told how much he had been missed, and how delighted everybody was he was back again. He was looking forward to the Dehra races, which would be due shortly after his return. His cousin Willie Holmes was managing the meeting. Here he found a goodly collection of cheery souls, amongst them the well-known Mr. Kelly Maitland, Mr. Horace Hayes, and many more. Lord William’s Gazelle managed to beat Mr. Horace Hayes’ Bismillah in the pony race. They then all moved on to Meerut for more racing. At this meeting Mr. Kelly Maitland gave a cup for a three-quarter-mile pony handicap. The handicapping of Sattara, the pony belonging to Mr. Maitland, upset him, for he considered it unfair. It was a little unusual to enter anything to run for his own cup, and so he had better have swallowed his discomfiture and said nothing, but he began airing his grievance at the Wheler Club in the evening, when Mr. Holmes came into the room, and made some pointed remarks about the generosity in giving a cup he was so evidently anxious to win himself. Then the fat was in the fire, everybody talked at once, shouting to make themselves heard, while somebody went into the lottery room where Lord William was busy, and told him Mr. Maitland was calling Mr. Holmes naughty names. This of course could not be tolerated; he must see his cousin was not sat upon by Mr. Maitland or anybody else, so he dashed into the fray, after which matters were not quieter and the hullabaloo ended in the celebrated “Maitland versus Beresford” defamation case, which was tried before a native judge in 1880 and the plaintiff was non-suited. Lord William’s language was as a rule most polished, and personally I never heard him otherwise than parliamentary, but I have been told that on occasions “He could bring tears to the eyes of a cabby from an utter incompetence to compete with him.” I am under the impression this racing row gave him one of his opportunities and he threw in a few new words not generally understood outside Ireland, which added lustre to the occasion, and it is always annoying to have words hurled at you that you do not know the meaning of. It leaves so much room for speculation and possibilities.
There was a little excitement also at the Allahabad races of 1879-80, where he rode his own Pomponius Ego heavily handicapped by the weight of 13st. 7lbs., while opposing him was Daintily, ridden by Tingey, carrying 9st. 7lbs. The latter was declared winner, while Lord William firmly believed he had won, but Pomponius swerved when just on the post, and as several ponies were all up together in rather a bunch it was perhaps difficult to tell exactly. At any rate the judge decided he was fourth. There were ructions over this, Lord William speaking his mind; it was finally agreed there should be a match between Pomponius and Daintily, 1000 rupees a side, the same weights and same distance, only instead of riding his own pony Lord William put up John Irving.
The match was breathlessly watched by a large gathering, and some betting was the order of the day. The result was a dead heat. The owners refused to divide, so it had to be run off again, when Pomponius once more swerved just on the post and was beaten by half a length. So Pomponius’s owner had to pay up and look as if he liked it, which none knew better how to do, for there never lived a more cheerful loser.
Taking it all together Lord William was fairly successful this cold weather with his horses. Telegram won a couple of hurdle races at Agra. The stable did nothing at Lucknow, but in February Ashantee, ridden by Lord William, won the Himalayan Chase at the Dehra meeting. Mr. Abbott tells a good story about this event. Ashantee’s owner had backed him pretty heavily through his pals with Miller the bookmaker, till the horse stood at 2 to 1. Before mounting to go to the post he went up to Miller and put on another thousand. Miller addressed him thus, “Well, my lord, I should be sorry to see a promising young nobleman like yourself cut off at the commencement of a brilliant career, but it would suit my book if you was to break your blooming neck in this race.”
I remember on one of my journeys in a P. & O., Miller and his partner, whose name I forget, were on the same boat journeying to Calcutta. He seemed a very gentle-voiced retiring sort of man, but no doubt could make himself heard and felt when so inclined.
While all the fighting in Afghanistan and South Africa was proceeding, each treading hotly on the other’s heels, the country at home was growing discontented and upset, for it naturally became disorganised, business interfered with, and some discomfort for the inhabitants, which ended in Parliament being dissolved on March 24th, 1880, the Liberal Government being returned by about 120.
The Queen sent for Lord Hartington, then for Lord Granville, and lastly for Mr. Gladstone, who accepted office.
THE VICEROY RETIRES
Change of Government and What it Meant—Why it Took Place at Simla—The Ceremony—An Anxious Moment—A General Stampede—Retirement of Lord Lytton—Work of Which Viceroy?—Lord William’s Services Valued—A Bet Between Him and the Author—Lord William’s 10 to 1
In the spring of 1880 there was the change of Government at home already alluded to, brought about mostly by the dissatisfaction of the country over Lord Lytton’s Afghan policy and the war in South Africa with its disasters and awkward situations, Mr. Gladstone succeeding Lord Beaconsfield as Prime Minister. He at once took steps to reverse Lord Lytton’s policy. Therefore His Excellency resigned, Lord Ripon taking his place in June, if I remember correctly.
The change in Viceroys usually took place in the cold weather at Calcutta, but on this occasion the Afghan War was still going on, and the new Liberal Government could not wait until the monsoon, which was due in a few weeks, had cooled the air, so Lord Ripon had to take the reins from Lord Lytton at Simla.
In those days the railway was left at Umballa, on the main line of the Indian North-Western, after which the rest of the journey was done with horses in vehicles of some sort, the usual mode being by “tonga,” a sort of phaeton hung very low and drawn by a pair of ponies harnessed curricle fashion, the ponies being changed about every four miles, this part of the journey taking about eight hours. The first forty miles over the plains to Kalka, the roads are good, and the travelling over them is very pleasant. After that they become mountainous for fifty-eight miles, climbing and winding up the spurs of the outer Himalayas to the deodar and rhododendron clad ridge of Simla, six or seven thousand feet high.
Government House, or the Viceregal Lodge at Simla at the time of the Ripons’ arrival was called “Peterhoff,” and it would be difficult to imagine an abode less viceregal. It was simply a rather glorified bungalow, situated on the edge of a young precipice, the house cramped and inconvenient, with very little ground about it, but it has long since been superseded by the much more commodious and impressive new viceregal lodgings on the summit of what was then known as Observation Hill. The lawn in front of Peterhoff was no bigger than many of those often seen in front of suburban villas. This Peterhoff lawn was, however, historic, for it was there that Lord Lawrence thrashed a chuprasse (messenger) with his great-coat for some unusually flagrant act of carelessness or disobedience.
Small as this historic lawn was, it had to take part in the ceremonies attendant on the change of Viceroys. Lord William was not responsible for what occurred there on this memorable day, but as an acting A.D.C. necessarily took part in it, and I think if he had then been Military Secretary the arrangements might have been better.
When the change of Rulers took place at Calcutta there was plenty of space and room for the crowd of dignitaries, British and native, presenting an impressive show as they lined the stately portico and ample stairway. The numerous uniforms, picturesque dresses of the native chiefs and notables, together with the scarlet uniforms and tall lances of the bodyguard combined to make the scene gay, and even splendid.
Not so at Simla, where on this occasion the whole officialdom from the Commander-in-Chief and members of Council downwards, were packed into a big shamiana (tent with a flat roof) somewhere about twenty feet square. Most noticeable amongst the assembly were the two Sikh Chiefs, of Jhind and Nabha, their states not being far from Simla; both were elderly men, tall, handsome and strikingly alike, though I believe no relation. With their snowy garments, jewelled necklaces, aigrettes and gold-hilted swords, they looked what they were, warrior princes of the best Oriental type.
There was nothing remarkable about the rest of the crowd. Everybody of course had to be in uniform, and as no one was allowed to remain outside the shamiana it was soon packed and most uncomfortably hot. One side of the tent was open, and a strip of red cloth led from it to the porch of Peterhoff.
Everybody was awaiting the arrival of the new Viceroy, Lord Ripon, who had slept the night before at the foot of the hills at Kalka, and was expected every moment to arrive with his personal staff in a train of tongas.
Sir Robert Egerton, the Lieut.-Governor of the Punjab, had gone to meet Lord Ripon at the first rest-house, some six or eight miles down the road, where the new Viceroy was to refresh his inner man and change his travelling garments. Everybody in the tent was very hot and wishing the show over, but they had some time still to wait. The appointed hour had come and gone, but still no Viceroy. Lord Lytton walked up and down between the house and the shamiana smoking a cigar, while everybody else held their breath waiting anxiously for release before being quite stifled.
At last the signal was given, the great man was approaching, there was a general buzz and hum as in a hive of bees when the queen thinks of moving. Lord Lytton hurried out of the house: three or four aides-de-camp, Lord William being one, endeavoured with difficulty to clear a space in the shamiana, which feat presented somewhat of a conundrum, the area being about the size of an ordinary healthy hearthrug.
Sir Robert Egerton’s little pony carriage could be heard driving up, and in a minute or two Sir Robert came striding down the red cloth, a very imposing figure, tall and portly, with a good deal of presence, dressed in his diplomatic uniform as a Lieut.-Governor with cocked hat and sword. Lord Ripon followed, neither tall nor majestic in appearance, his London clothes looking as though they had been used as a pillow in the tonga on the way up, or hastily pulled out of a much-packed Gladstone bag, which was no doubt precisely the case, and how loyal of him! having been sent out by the bag’s namesake.
Well! now the show began. The A.D.C.’s pressed everybody back until they had to hold in their breath for fear of taking up too much room. Lord Lytton, whose manner was always polished and charming, came forward and shook hands, with some ordinary words of welcome. Lord Ripon, who felt the awkwardness of the situation, being sent out to replace Lord Lytton, nothing abashed at the numerous eyes fixed on him at close quarters, plunged at once “in medias res.”
Lord Ripon: “Didn’t want to come out at all really, my dear Lytton, not in the least you know, but a man must obey orders——”
Lord Lytton (much embarrassed) interrupting: “Yes, my dear Marquis, quite so. Let me introduce you to His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief.” Sir Paul Haines, standing on the fringe of the crowd, was presented, Lord Ripon hastily shook hands, keeping an anxious eye on Lord Lytton, then returning to the charge.
Lord Ripon: “Yes! As I was saying, my dear Lytton, I didn’t want to.”
Lord Lytton (more embarrassed): “Yes, quite so, exactly. Let me present you to Mr. ——, a member of your Council.”
Lord William dived into the crowd, assisted by other A.D.C.’s, who trampled on everybody until the high official was produced, and the presentation effected.
Lord Ripon (again returned to the matter weighing heavily on his mind): “Oh, yes! I was saying I’ve been Secretary of State, you know, and I didn’t——”
Lord Lytton (now desperate): “Yes, my dear Marquis. Let me present you to Mr. ——, another member of your Council.”
Once more a dive into the crowd, Lord William returning breathless with his high official, when a hasty presentation took place.
The crowd now began to enter into the spirit of the thing, and, being tired of having their toes trodden on and their waistcoat pressed out of their proper positions in life, propelled all the big-wigs wanted by Lord Lytton to the front, almost into Lord Ripon’s arms, this expedited matters, and there was no longer any time for personal explanations, so Lord Ripon kept them for another time and everything went on famously.
So far, all had been comedy, but it now nearly approached tragedy, for Lord Lytton’s eyes fell on the Rajah of Jhind, one of the Sikh chiefs already mentioned, and he was asked to come forward, arriving in the tiny space kept open by Lord William. He bent himself from the waist and touched the feet of the new ruler of India, direct representative of his Sovereign Lady the great Queen, for whom he had fought most gallantly, and for whom he would right willingly have fought again. Only Orientals can perform so deep an obeisance with dignity; to receive it equally becomingly is not so easy, and poor Lord Ripon, who had been hurried out of England and hurried up country with hardly time to think, and with little knowledge of Oriental etiquette, was taken completely by surprise, and jumped back as far as the crowd would let him, not knowing quite what was happening, and then bowed violently, the two heads only missing contact by an inch—awful moment! for had the chief’s turban been knocked off, or even set awry, he would have felt himself deeply disgraced, for Orientals do not look at things as we do. To deeply wound the feelings, however unintentionally, of a chief who, when the mutiny broke out, was the first to draw his sword on our side, would have stirred the whole Punjab, and we might have lost in respect and loyalty what no elective council or other political bodies could ever have restored. So differently does the East and West judge, and reflect on both trivial and important matters.
Shortly after this the ceremonial came to an end, and Lord Ripon was conducted into the house to take the Viceroy’s oath in presence of his Council and other almighties who cared to attend.
The rest of the crowd were then at liberty to go home, but the morning’s entertainment was not yet over, for groups of people were riding homewards along the main road or Mall when bang went a gun, let off close above their heads, the first gun of the new Viceroy’s salute. What a transformation scene took place, the crowd of gold-laced and uniformed big-wigs with cocked hats and flowing plumes, who a moment before had been looking tired and bored, were now a struggling mass of men and horses, all presenting the appearance of circus riders doing tricks. One portly General, who danced beautifully, was struggling manfully with his long-tailed Yarkundi pony, which seemed to consider the only safe place on earth was over the railings off the Mall and down the precipice the other side. Two other folk of some importance had cannoned into each other violently, while one had bitten the dust. Various people were seen disappearing in the distance on madly galloping steeds, heaven only knowing where they would stop; other horses following in their wake, prancing amongst the cocked hats and sun helmets strewing the ground. One unfortunate individual, when his horse unshipped him during its attempts to climb a tree, had a really nasty fall. He seemed from all accounts to have been ricocheting a bit, and was laid up for some time. Needless to state none of those happy people who were in a position to choose what they would do, waited for the remaining twenty guns, and there was a general stampede. The roads in hill stations do not lend themselves to runaway horses or circus tricks. Most of those concerned were glad when that day was over, and most assuredly both Lord Lytton and his successor must have breathed sighs of relief.
Lord William had a keen sense of humour, and nothing escaped his notice. During experiences of this sort, however, he always behaved with great calm and dignity, which showed his powers of self-control, for he was often consumed with mirth. He was all the time, thanks to his powers of observation and wonderful memory, combined with the interest he took in the etiquette, superstitions and mystic rites of the Eastern people, laying the foundation for the brilliant performance of the most difficult and many-sided office he was a little later called upon to fill.
The new Viceroy being installed and having appointed Lord William as one of his A.D.C.’s, it now became part of his duties to accompany the Lyttons a certain distance on their way home, travelling with them and seeing to their comfort as far as Saharanpur, en route for Bombay.
With much regret on the part of all the Lytton household they bid adieu to the A.D.C. To quote Lady Lytton’s own words: “We felt indeed sorry to lose his cheery and constant pleasant companionship. His kindness to all our children had never ceased from the first day to the last.”
And what were the feelings of Lord William when he said farewell to the friends who had always shown him the greatest consideration and kindness?
LORD LYTTON, FAMILY AND STAFF, 1877
Left to right. Standing: Col. Colley, Mil. Sec. (later Sir George Colley); Lord William Beresford, Capt. Rose, 10th Hussars; Col. Villiers, Dr. Barnett, Capt. Liddell, Miss —— (author forgets), Lord Downe, Lady Downe, Capt. Jackson
Seated: Mrs. Burne, Sir John Strachey, Lord Lytton, Lady Lytton, Lady Strachey, Col. Owen Burne, Private Secretary; Lord Kilmaine, brother of Mrs. Burne
Children, left to right: Bina Lytton, Connie Lytton, Fanny Strachey
To many A.D.C.’s it would only be a case of “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi,” but their late “aide” was much attached to them, and being of an affectionate and loyal nature must have felt rather as though he had been torn up by the roots. That Lord William lived to see the good results of some of the seeds sown by Lord Lytton’s policy and earnest work there can be no doubt, for he surely laid the foundations of some of our latter-day benefits in India. Amongst the measures that must always be associated with Lord Lytton were the Famine reports and Insurance, the equalisation and reduction of the salt duty, the system of Indian Finance profoundly modified by decentralisation, and reconstruction of Provincial responsibility. In recognition of his services when returning from India an earldom was conferred upon him.
To an impartial observer looking back over the lives and works of the different rulers in India, it appears to matter not what the views and policy of each may be, they cannot get away from the fact that they must, and do, reap the benefit to some extent of the work of their predecessors. This must be a consoling thought to the retiring Viceroy, who may feel on leaving India that he will be a thing of the past, but that at any rate his work will live after him, and, maybe, he will be spared to see it grow. Even those who know nothing of India may therefore readily grasp what a difficult thing it is to know the actual share each Viceroy has taken in the measures proposed and carried out during his time. Each Viceroy is of course actually responsible, though his part of the transactions of the Government of India is sometimes confined to a careful perusal of the papers and an affirmatory nod or two at the Council table. That Viceroys work hard and conscientiously there is little doubt, but cannot take real interest in, or have a thorough knowledge of, half the big questions they have to deal with. In some cases the very weight of their responsibility and possible far-reaching personal influence, makes them shy of exerting that influence, preferring to leave many questions to be virtually decided by those who have, or ought to have, first-hand knowledge.
It is only really in matters of foreign policy that a Viceroy is almost compelled to form his own decisions. Then again there is the constant pressure exercised by the Secretary of State. Every mail the Viceroy writes a long letter to the Secretary of State at home, and every mail he receives a letter containing the views and decisions of the latter. Also long cypher telegrams are continually passing between the two, so that the policy or decision and acts of a Viceroy are very often not his own, but have been dictated to him by the Secretary of State. It is well, however, to bear in mind that if things go wrong, it is the Viceroy who is abused by the British public, the Press, and quite possibly by the Secretary of State as well. It does not as a rule take a Viceroy very long to find out Secretaries of State are not infallible, and that it is a risky business to go against the opinions of his members of Council, each of whom have the key to the whole situation, and is on the spot, while the Secretary of State is not, and has to judge by documentary evidence, not always at first hand, and naturally robbed of the atmosphere surrounding the matter requiring decision. All who have any knowledge of diplomatic situations and work, know what an important part this plays, and how misleading a written temperature may be to those not present and therefore unable to keep their finger on the pulse of the moment.
This may sound as if it had nothing to do with the subject of these memories, but as a matter of fact it has. It was because Lord William so thoroughly appreciated the worries and difficulties surrounding the life of those he was serving, and because he was always ready to help in any way possible outside his own particular calling, that he became so valued by them all. He could be relied upon to carry out, and see through, any tiresome social problem, could be depended on to remember and produce almost verbatim established precedents of the time he had been in India and some time before, as he had closely studied Indian history on his arrival in the country. How clearly he had mastered detail was proved to me several times later in his career.
Once in London, I think in June, 1885, if I remember rightly, when speaking to him of the different castes and their faiths, I was much interested and surprised at the feeling way he spoke of and in a measure appreciated their feelings, of the Parsees, whom he described as the Jews of India, with their great wealth and expenditure, endowing schools, building hospitals, and taking part in many great financial undertakings, so full of soul and feeling, that they will not allow their dead to pollute the earth, yet do not hesitate to offer up the human bodies of those they loved as plunder and food to the disgusting, flesh-eating vultures, who sit watching the white road leading from the City of Bombay to the “Tower of Silence.” It is revolting to hear the cry of those almost featherless, horrid-looking birds, as they see another pathetic procession winding its way up the hill. Of the Hindus, who while considering it wicked and cruel to kill, and against their religion, still will work their cattle until unable to stand any longer, and then leave them to die of thirst and misery, rather than put them out of their pain. Animals in India are supposed to possess souls, and are worshipped, that being the case one wonders they dare so ill-treat them.
The life of the Hindu is one perpetual ceremony from the time of birth to the day when he is burnt by the side of the Holy Ganges.
Lord William and I agreed that their religion must be a most absorbing and real thing in their lives, otherwise the perpetual observance, and ritual, from morn to eve would become most irksome, yet some of it appeals to us as rather beautiful. The first thing in the morning on awaking the Hindu turns to the East and prays to his Sun-god, then to the river to cleanse himself and perform his ablutions, asking his god to keep him from all temptation, all sin in taste, touch, word, thought or deed. From the river to the barber to be shaved, a most important part of the curriculum, for only a tiny tuft of hair is allowed to any Hindu, and even that must be hidden by his head-dress.
The different caste marks of the natives worn on the forehead are distinctly interesting, and once when we were boasting how much we knew about all these things, I asked Lord William if he could tell them straight off from memory. He bet me a sovereign he could. I felt I might easily lose my sovereign, so beat him down to five shillings, which I told him was as much as I could afford to lose. I could see from the merry twinkle in his eye he thought he had me on toast, so just as he was beginning I said: “If we are not agreed what is going to happen, who shall be the judge?” In a moment he named a mutual friend we were likely to meet at Hurlingham on the following Saturday. This being settled, he asked: “Where shall I begin?”
Author: “With the Hindus.”
Lord William: “A triangle encircling a dot.”
Lord William: “The Brahmans, one single spot on the middle of the forehead.”
Lord William: “Shiva, a triangle, crescent, a dot and two curved lines” (he hesitated a moment, continuing) “and a U-shaped mark with a dot in the middle.”
Author: “Wrong!” (in a triumphant voice).
Lord William: “No, no, I am right, by my vig and viskers I’m right!”
We both talked at once while laughing, gesticulating and explaining, he enquired where I considered he had gone wrong. I explained the U-mark with a dot in the middle was part of the Vishnu caste mark, and what he had forgotten of the Shiva was in reality three horizontal curved lines.
The argument became so fierce the rest of the caste marks remained unrelated, but on the following Saturday I received my five shillings, he having found out his mistake meanwhile, and to my horror, having no pocket in my best bib and tucker of any useful proportions, I was presented with five shillings in threepenny pieces out of pure mischief, but he did not score much, as I insisted on his carrying them for me all the afternoon.
It will be rather sad in many ways when the much-boasted civilisation of the West has robbed India of the value and dignity of her traditions and heritages.
The Indians are really descendants I believe of the great Aryan race, whose language our Lord spoke in. There is so much of interest attached to the lives, faiths, and rituals of the people of the East, but this is not the place to write it, and we must go back to Simla, where we left Lord Ripon, the new Viceroy. He was a Roman Catholic, the first of that faith to be a ruler of India; also the first who had been Secretary of State for India, not that either fact troubled the natives much.
One of the features of the Simla season, is the social gathering on Saturdays to witness sports and gymkhanas held on the course or ground I have already described in a previous chapter.
Lord William was the moving spirit; he got up the races, competed in them, and was always ready with a fresh programme every week. He won so many races himself that it became monotonous, so he invented all sorts of weird and sporting combinations.
The racecourse, if so we may name it, was rather dangerous, as at one time there was only an apology of a stone wall consisting of loosely piled-up stones to prevent an impetuous pony from falling down the side of the hill, or what in India we call the khud, in English a dangerous mountain-side.
I remember seeing Lord William get some shocking falls, and once when he was driving nine ponies and riding one over the jumps, when it came to turning the awkward corner already mentioned, one of the leaders, he drove three abreast, took it into its head the stone wall was there to be jumped, and while it was hanging suspended over the awful drop at the other side of the wall, which would probably have meant a broken back, Lord William and the rest of what he called his “10 to 1” were hopelessly mixed up on the safer side, looking as if they had all jumped on each other. His lordship was extricated with nothing worse than a dislocated shoulder and thumb. He laughed immoderately, though he was ashy white. He insisted on having his shoulder put right at once. A chair was brought and placed on the course upon which he sat while his shoulder was jumped and bumped into its place again, also his thumb attended to and tied up. It was with some difficulty he was prevented from trying again, only being stopped by a brother A.D.C. swearing he had sent some of the ponies home, as they had apparently had enough even if Lord William had not.
AN IDEAL MILITARY SECRETARY
Dignity and Humour—Some Tests of Both—Affection of the Natives for Lord William—How They Tried to Please him—What Happened on a Slippery Floor—Some Tableaux—A Supper and a Race—What the Jockey Club Would Have Said—Lord Ripon’s Message to the Amir of Afghanistan—The Amir’s Reply—The Work of the Military Secretary—Swelled Heads and Outgrown Shoes—How Lord William Dealt with Them—Pay of Military Secretary—Compensation for Diminishing Rupee—No Fish to Fry
Those who knew Lord William will think I have passed over a very marked feature in his life, namely, his smartness at repartee and his endless jokes. I have forgotten neither, nor have I ceased to be grateful for the way he succeeded in brightening up the dullest parties; he carried sunshine and merriment with him wherever he went, and it was infectious. No matter how awkward a position he might find himself in, he always came out gracefully and smiling.
I feel that to repeat Lord William’s jokes, is to rob them of their atmosphere and merit. Jokes are individual things, and require such delicate handling, they must have their own surroundings and atmosphere; it is so easy to rob them of their bloom or kill them altogether.
Lord William was one of those rare people who found it possible to be serious in a funny way, which was no doubt an asset, though at times disconcerting for other people, as will be seen from the following narrative:
When on tour the Viceroy and Vice-reine held receptions answering to drawing-rooms in England, so that all the local people could come and make bows and curtseys to the representatives of the English Court. On one of these occasions a fat Irish lady, having made her obeisance, thought she would like to watch the rest of the show, so she and her daughters either stayed in the throne room, or returned to it, ranging up opposite the viceregal party, and began making audible comments.
This could not be allowed, and Lord William most politely told her to “Move on,” though I am sure he did it in a way that made it appear he was conferring a great favour, and with one of his most winning smiles. The lady did not move an inch, but stood her ground.
“Then, Ma’am,” said Lord William with another seductive smile and with the broadest of brogues put on for the purpose, “you’ll have to pardon me if I put my arm round your waist.” The lady, seeing that, whether she liked it or not, from the throne room she was going and thinking discretion the greater part of valour, “moved on” without the pressure of Lord William’s arm. I was not present on this occasion, so tell the tale as it was told to me.
Lord Bill’s face when anything funny happened, and he felt it behove him in his official capacity to be serious, was a study; and while he often witnessed strange happenings they never ceased to amuse him; his sense of humour never deserted him.
I remember one occasion when he must have found self-control difficult.
The viceregal party were on tour and staying in a big station where they announced they would hold one of these drawing-room sort of receptions.
Scene I. (No action.)
Large bungalow of chief political officer in the neighbourhood. Two large rooms and one small one opening into one another, the curtains which usually hung between the rooms to make them more private and to prevent people hearing what you are saying! being removed for the afternoon, leaving a free passage from the verandah on one side of the house through the three rooms and out into another verandah at the other side of the bungalow.
All the furniture had been removed from the middle rooms to make it more impressive.
A roughly constructed and somewhat uncertain platform raised a little from the ground, covered with imposing red felt and bath rugs. Two deck-chairs or something of that sort representing the thrones.
Scene II. (Action.)
Enter Mr. and Mrs. Viceroy, who have learnt to pick their way, and walk with circumspection over hastily laid red baize and felt. Mr. and Mrs. Viceroy making polite conversation to their host and hostess admiring all the excellent arrangements made for their comfort. Mrs. Viceroy sits on her throne, Mr. Viceroy stands beside her, and the staff arrange themselves becomingly, one A.D.C. having been told off to receive and unpack the ladies on arrival at No. 1 verandah, another on verandah No. 2 to repack them, and say how charming they are all looking, that it is a day he will remember all his life, and so on. A third A.D.C. announces the names, which are handed to him on cards, and the Military Secretary introduces them.
Arrival of fluttering ladies on verandah No. 1. Many never having attended a drawing-room at home, are very anxious about their curtseys. First lady, who has been practising various kinds of curtseys and bobs before her glass for days, now forgets all about them, her one idea being to get it over. She shoots through the room and out the other side, her example followed by those behind her, like rabbits bolting in frosty weather from one hole to another, Mrs. Viceroy trying to keep time with a bow and a reassuring smile for each. The Viceroy bowing, trying to look pleased, but unmistakably bored.
Fresh batch of ladies, one starts with the wrong foot first, or something of the kind, gets out of step and turns round to begin, again hoping for better luck, but hastily stopped by Lord William, who explains in a whisper the rules of the game forbid any return. Mr. and Mrs. Viceroy pretend not to see or hear.
Everything going swimmingly, Viceroyalty beginning to think of tea and drive in the evening, A.D.C.’s beginning to think of flannels, rackets and smokes.
Enter elderly lady very nervous, makes a really profound curtsey, so profound she cannot extricate herself from it, and she rocks slowly backwards and forwards endeavouring to recover herself and get into her stride again. Lord William’s big blue eyes watching every movement (I felt certain he was betting on the finish), when with a groan the lady subsided backwards on the floor, her feet entangled in drapery and skirt.
“Fighting Bill” to the rescue, old lady picked up, her brow mopped, bonnet set straight and restoratives administered in verandah No. 2.
Royalty descend—mutual congratulations, Lord William and A.D.C.’s telling each other all about it in room No. 3. Enter whiskey and sodas.
But I must not be frivolous, as Lord William was a stern upholder of the dignity of the Court, and very properly so, only the “make-shifts” necessary for more or less impromptu ceremonies in India and foreign countries at times lend themselves to amusing situations; and why is it people always want to laugh more when they know they must not do it?
I remember at a big function at Simla, when Colonel Chesney was being made a K.C.S.I. by Lord Ripon. Lord William had arranged for a number of us to be allowed into the holy of holies to watch the ceremony. We stood round the wall like well-behaved school children. His Excellency was announced, small, rotund and dignified in flowing robes of state, and walked up a strip of the inevitable red baize to his seat at the far end of the room. There was a good deal of ceremony about the proceedings. First one official walked a few steps and bowed to the occupant on the seat at the end of the red baize, then, after apparently counting something to himself, advanced a few more steps and bowed again, continuing this slow mode of progress until within a certain distance of His Excellency, when more characters took part, and my attention was diverted to one of the bowing individuals who was related to me, which made me more sensitive to the fact that one of his silk stockings was on wrong side out, and with every waft of air caused by his humble obeisances, little fluttering ends of silk streamed out behind the happily unconscious man, who, buttoned tightly into much gold lace, was fancying himself not a little. Those little flags fascinated me, and I was certain not one of them escaped Lord William’s eagle eye. I looked across the room to where he was carrying out his duties, but he was as grave as a judge, and so was I, indeed I flattered myself I was behaving very nicely, until I heard one of the daughters of the Commander-in-Chief, who was standing just behind me, whisper: “Look, he has got his stockings on wrong side out.” I then felt, with someone sharing my amusement, I must laugh and disgrace myself for ever. Fortunately more important developments taking place we forgot to watch the fluffy bits of silk.
While being most punctilious about all things concerning his work, and the popularity of those he served, and in spite of his hard work, Lord William found time to amuse himself fairly well. I was at Government House one day when preparations were being made for a dance. Seeing the native servants deeply engrossed arranging a cosy dark corner, amongst some palms and curtains, I enquired what they were trying to do. They replied with many salaams that they were arranging a “Kissi Ka waste for Lord Brasspot-Sahib,” in English I suppose you would call it a quiet corner for two. All the natives were fond of Lord William, hence doubtless their anxiety to minister to his moods and emotions, arranging a little corner where a little kissing could be done in peace and quietness.
Speaking of dances reminds me of one at the Commander-in-Chief’s (Sir Donald Stewart); the floor was very slippery, and Lord William, while dancing in a set of Lancers, pointing his toes and doing pretty steps first to the right and then to the left, fell on to his knees in front of a huge old lady with several chins and tied in the middle with a string or what had possibly once been a sash, but it was hard to tell, being out of sight in folds of figure. Lord William, not the least disconcerted, crossed his arms over his chest and bowed his head, saying, “Madam, I am at your feet,” and was up dancing again for all he was worth without a pause, as if it was all part of the game, much to the amusement of everybody present, especially the lady at whose feet he fell, for she was a jolly cheery soul.
Among the enterprising things Lord William did in India was the overhauling and setting on its feet the Amateur Dramatic Club, which was on the verge of bankruptcy when he applied himself to re-establishing it on a firmer basis; now it is one of the soundest undertakings in India, with a stock of excellent scenery, library, and large wardrobe. Always anxious to provide amusement for the folk at Simla, he considered it would be a pity to allow such a useful institution to fall on evil days, so with his usual generosity he advanced the money to pay off the most pressing of the club’s debts, and from that day to the present time the club has never looked behind it and has now become the fashion. Every season theatricals take place there, all the rank and fashion taking part or scrambling for seats to watch the performances. Having firmly placed the club on its feet Lord William retired from the management, only keeping a first claim on one of the boxes. Invitations to the little suppers he instituted in the theatre after the performances were much sought after, their fame had spread far and wide, both for the good things he provided and for their cheeriness.
One year some tableaux were got up in the theatre, the money collected for seats being given to some charity connected with sick children. Lord William loved small bairns and they loved him. I remember at these particular tableaux I represented Charlotte Corday going to execution for the murder of Marat; my executioners were Lord William Beresford and Captain Donald Stewart, a brother officer of my husband’s in the 92nd Gordon Highlanders; we had many rehearsals both for this tableau and others, but the despair of the stage manager was great over the Corday scene, as the executioners always ended in romping. Well do I remember their both rolling about the floor trying to execute one another instead of Charlotte Corday. The manager would become almost tearful in his entreaties to them to “behave themselves.” They would then get up, shake themselves, saying to one another, “Now no more nonsense, Donny, we must behave ourselves”; and Captain Stewart would reply, “Now do shut up, Bill, and let us get to business,” but their good resolutions did not last long, they were soon stabbing, wrestling and tickling one another again and rolling about on the floor. I began to wonder what would really happen when the day arrived to appear before the public, but in spite of having had no proper rehearsals when the fateful moment came they behaved splendidly, but directly they were off the stage and behind the scenes began again.
When the whole performance was over, the staff gave a supper in the theatre to those they wished to invite who had taken part in the tableaux. A merry evening followed. As soon as all had refreshed themselves, someone suggested a steeplechase over the tables and chairs; forms were quickly turned upside-down, and chairs built up into fences. There was some fun while the would-be riders chose their mounts. At last all was settled, and we women packed ourselves away in one corner of the room to act as audience. I am afraid if the Jockey Club had witnessed that race none of the riders would ever again have been granted licences, for they out-jockeyed each other, crossing and trying to pull the riders off their mounts. There were some resounding and shocking spills, but nobody cared, and the race waxed fast and furious, being won eventually by Captain Donald Stewart, a great big fine mount, ridden, if my memory may be relied upon, by Captain Des Voeux of the Carabineers or Captain Roddy Owen. The appearance of these sportsmen at the end of the race baffles description, their hair, which in some cases had answered for reins, was hanging in disordered wisps, collars reclining on shoulders, clothes dusty, dirty shiny faces, and all weak with laughter.
This was the lighter side of what was taking place during the early part of Lord Ripon’s reign. He, meanwhile, was giving anxious thought to the conclusion of the second Afghan campaign, having been sent out with instructions to reverse Lord Lytton’s policy and terminate the war as speedily as possible. Kandahar, which the latter had intended to hold, was given up, and the whole of Afghanistan secured to the Amir Abdul Rahman.
The following, poem shall I call it, appeared about this time in one of the Indian papers signed “Bala.” A cutting of it was given to me, but I do not know from what paper, so cannot ask for permission to reproduce it, and can only trust I may be forgiven.
THE VICEROY’S MESSAGE AND THE AMIR’S REPLY
George Samuel, Marquis of Ripon, to the Afghan Chief wrote he,
“God made me Viceroy of India, and thou knowest what I made thee,
You rule by my will and pleasure, I care not to flatter or bribe,
One pledge or promise I ask of thee; I pardon if all men know
That up to this time thou hast not done much to prove thee our friend or foe.
For the Russian is closing upon you, our faith in his promise is dead,
He is massing his troops on your border, and is eager to push on ahead.
Sharp is the word with the Muscovite, whose will is to plunder and spoil,
His covetous eye is on India, and eke on your God-granted soil.
Now while he stands for a moment still, there is only one thing to be done,
I must send a commission to meet him, to show where your boundaries run,
And you must promise safe escort (we know what the Afghans are!)
And prove yourself friend to the English, and foe to the Russian Czar.
So choose thou of all my civilians, or choose thou of all my host,
One man to lead the commission, whom ever thou trustest most.
Whom thy tribes have known and trusted, to pass through in safety and peace,
And so shall thy borders be measured, and our feud with the Russians shall cease.”
The Afghan Chief wrote answer: “You English are cunning and deep!
But I’d ask if you’ve ever succeeded in catching a weasel asleep?
I know what will come of commissions—just what became of your Embassy,
You harried us well four years ago, and I keep good memory.
Here stands my Cabul city, here I dwell by your favour at rest,
But the tribes of my frontier are evil, and know no respect for a guest:
If your commission needs a safe escort on the oath of a trusted friend,
I have not the means to protect them. But whom will the Viceroy send?
Wilt thou send the poet, Sir A. F. D., the man who advised the last war?
He is safer, I ween, on the Naini Tal lake than he would be near Kandahar.
Wilt thou send little Bobs—the Bahadur? He is trusted and honoured, I know,
But he’s cooling his heels at Ootacamund, and doesn’t seem anxious to go.
Shall I ask for the man with the ringlets? the virtuous lovely L—p—l,
He is living at home at his ease, writing books, and he has grown a great swell.
Where is the chief McG——gr to pledge me the word of his clan?
He is there on the pine-clad highlands, a highly-paid, well-placed man.
He is shelved with the rest, all promoted they enjoy the reward of the great.
Will they come now those I have chosen? I watch for their face and wait,
For the bright light shines on promotion, and dark is the downward track,
And the Simla hills ring an echo of voices that hold them back.
Let the commission stay on the mountain and start as thy message said,
When the Amir sends a safe escort—when the Kalends of Greece are sped.”
This effusion is amusing no matter how it scans.
Lord Ripon was also called upon to decide grave questions arising between British and natives; he embarked at once on a very liberal policy. In accordance therewith the Vernacular Press Act was repealed, and among other measures, the so-called Ilbert Bill was introduced in the Legislative Council, giving native magistrates the same powers with respect to Europeans and Americans as British magistrates, but this aroused such a storm of opposition the measure had to be practically abandoned, Act III of 1884 being a compromise.
Lord William, having acquired a useful knowledge of Indian customs and feelings, was able to be a great help to Lord Ripon, who, finding the value of his loyal friend, very shortly appointed him his Military Secretary.
Major White (later Sir George White, v.c.) of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, had been acting in that capacity from the time Lord Ripon arrived in Bombay, where both he and Lord William Beresford met His Excellency, but the work of Military Secretary did not appeal to Major White, who loved soldiering, and was not obliged by circumstances to do anything else, and feeling thoroughly unsettled when his old regiment was in Afghanistan, in the thick of the fighting, at last made up his mind to ask Lord Ripon to spare him for a time, at any rate, so that he might go and join them. This request being granted his work had to be carried on temporarily by someone else. When Major White returned he still felt unsettled, and shortly afterwards resigned. Major (afterwards Sir John) Ardagh succeeded him, but did not remain long; then Lord Ripon offered the post to Lord William, and the great moment in his life had come, he had now the opportunity of showing the stuff he was made of, a scope for his talents.
The work of a Military Secretary is not known to everybody, so I will try and explain it in common or garden English. When any big machinery is in motion it all looks very easy, but machinery requires much oiling and constant careful supervision to make it work satisfactorily.
To be a successful Military Secretary in a viceregal household it is necessary to be like St. Paul, “all things to all men,” for he comes in touch with so many different interests, acts as oil to so many different wheels. It calls heavily on anybody’s tact to carry out the work without friction. The duties are many and important, for he is the head of the establishment and controls it. The private accounts and correspondence are in the hands of the private secretary, all the rest is in those of the Military Secretary. The A.D.C.’s are under him, and he arranges what part each one has to play. One may happen to be musical, he will probably be told off to look after the band; another may be a connoisseur on omelettes and other appetising confections, he will be asked to look after the kitchen department. It will be the duty of one, whoever writes the most plainly, to keep the visitors’ book, write and send out the invitations; this is no light undertaking, for Viceroyalty have to entertain a good deal—it is a part of their duty. Some do it better than others, but all endeavour to fulfil their obligations.
It is in fact a miniature court and meant to be impressive.
The Military Secretary has four paid A.D.C.’s under him; by that I mean a staff allowance, which is in addition to their military pay they may be drawing in the usual way, the staff allowance being anything between Rps.250 and 400, possibly 500 a month, and of course they live free. I am speaking of the time that Lord William was Military Secretary, there may be a different arrangement now.
In addition to the four A.D.C.’s I have mentioned there were usually two that were honorary.
The popularity of a Viceroy rests in a great measure in the hands of his Military Secretary, hence the importance of having a man who understands, and is in touch, with the native princes and people, who has the table of precedence at his finger-ends, and is pleasing and courteous to all. Lord William excelled in all this, and one of the reasons why he was from first to last such a phenomenal success, was because he left nothing to chance, everything was carefully thought out, no hurried word of mouth orders, but everything written or printed and placed in the hands of those it concerned, some time before the orders and work had to be carried out.
Lord William was one of the old school who saw nothing amusing in being rude, nothing clever in hurting people’s feelings, and he would not tolerate anything of the kind amongst his A.D.C.’s.
It is not altogether unknown for young A.D.C.’s attached to the staff of Government houses to get swelled heads, treating everybody not in immediate connection with their household as canaille, unless of course they happened to be globe trotters with handles to their names, but anything of this kind was quickly suppressed by Lord William, who was kindly and courteous to all, be they princes, princesses, subalterns, Bohemians or what nots. Perhaps a little extra pleasant to a pretty face, and who will blame him?
Speaking of bad manners occasionally witnessed at Government houses in different countries, I have observed it is a way satellites have at times; while their superiors, like our Royal Family for instance, are unsurpassed for graciousness of manner, those in attendance on them are at times sadly lacking in those amiable qualities. In fact not only have swelled heads, but have grown too big for their shoes. One might think such an uncomfortable combination would lead them to see the error of their ways.
But to return to the Military Secretary and his many duties, which are enough to make the stoutest heart quake.
The Viceroy not being a soldier, naturally depends a good deal on him for advice as to military points of view, military law, and so forth. A really sound man can, and often does, influence the ultimate decisions of His Excellency, imperceptibly, of course, or his value would be gone. The work of the Indian Office also filters more or less through his hands, in fact everything requiring the Viceroy’s attention, while should there be any difference of opinion between departments, and any of them thought the Military Secretary was taking any part, or interfering, there would be fierce indignation and heart-burnings. So while all these delicate matters are being brought to the Viceroy’s notice by the Military Secretary, yet he must appear to know nothing about them, though quite possibly his advice has been asked.
Amongst other duties he has to map out and be responsible for the arrangements of all the Viceregal tours in the country, involving the railway journeys, allotting every hour of time each day and night for weeks and months ahead. The moving of horses and carriages, servants, and arranging for everything to be in readiness to meet the viceregal party at all the places where they are going to stay, the officials to be informed at each; levees, drawing-rooms, and receptions to be arranged. The native princes who wish to meet His Excellency have to be communicated with. Attached to these meetings there is endless work, as each Rajah has a certain code of etiquettes, a proper number of guns fired as salutes according to their rank. Some have to be fetched in state to meet the Viceroy; the Military Secretary, an aide-de-camp, and at times other officials having to drive to their palaces and fetch them, taking them back in the same way. These tours are looked forward to by the princes and big landowners of the country, as many of them have grievances and schemes to lay before the representative of the English Royalty.
It is difficult for anyone unversed in Eastern ways to realise how much depends on the forethought and experience of the person responsible for all these arrangements. It requires some tact to carry out all efficiently without a hitch, the least little error, even a molehill of a hitch, may mean mountains of annoyance and friction for His Excellency.
In all viceregal movements it is essential that there should be much dignity and show, plenty of colour and red druggeting. Ritual and observances are the soul of the people of the East. Established precedents have to be carefully guarded, a yard or two of less red cloth than usual might easily be construed into an indignity.
Then there are the presents to be thought of, which it is part of the Viceroy’s duty to dispense, and there is a certain amount of work attached to this, as the different political officers in each district to be visited have to be consulted as to what will be most suitable, and will meet with the approval of each recipient.
In addition to all this strenuousness, the domestic details fall to the lot of the Military Secretary; if a handle comes off a door he must see it is replaced, if a goat instead of a sheep finds its way on to the dinner table, if the horses fall sick or the coachman drinks too much tea, if a bath leaks, if more visitors are coming to stay than there is accommodation for, it is the business of the Military Secretary to avert inconvenience or disaster, in fact there must be no inconvenience or disaster, otherwise he is not an efficient Military Secretary.
In return for all this efficiency the pay of a Military Secretary is 1500 rupees a month, fifteen rupees being equal to £1, making about twelve hundred a year. In later years something was given in the way of compensation for the diminished value of the rupee, bringing it to about £1300 a year, all found, as the servants say.
Not every man possesses the necessary qualifications to enable him to fill this onerous post, for not only has the Military Secretary to mother the Viceroy so to speak, but he has to look after, advise and help Mrs. Viceroy, all the little Viceroys, their maids, governesses, butlers, coachmen and hangers on.
Lord William filled the post so satisfactorily that he was retained by three successive Viceroys; this speaks for itself. With the exception of Lord William I never met a really popular Military Secretary, there was always the qualifying “but” or “if,” but then the majority have perhaps had “fish to fry” of their own, which would bring them into ill favour with aspirants for the same frying-pan. It seems sad that the days of enthusiastic workers should be embittered by disappointment because promotion does not come soon enough, or someone else has forged ahead—then a few short chapters of life and we find “Finis,” and what has all the striving done for them? all the heart-burnings? Very soon their names are only blots of ink on pieces of paper, and probably these are put away in the lumber-room with other “forgottens.”
One of the refreshing things about Lord Bill was he was entirely devoid of any fish to fry for himself, he sought no high places, suffered from none of the discontents or scramblings after promotion or office that seem to have pervaded the lives of many great men, if we may judge by what we read of them, so he climbed no ladders at other people’s expense, pushing them down when arriving at the top, which gives such grave and not unnatural offence, leaving much bitterness in the minds and hearts of those who are feeling injured.
The two things in life which seem to cause the most unpleasantness are jealousy and class-hatred. Lord William disarmed both, it was not easy to be jealous of a man who asked nothing for himself, climbed over nobody, and who was so generous he would give away almost everything he possessed to anyone in need, whose pride of race only showed itself in honourable straightforwardness and unswerving singleness of purpose. No class could hate him, he was hail-fellow-well-met to all, thinking no ill of any man, and having a clean mind himself was not on the look-out for unpleasantness in other people. He had learnt that most valuable lesson of how to handle humanity, which spells success in life.
No doubt there are some people who will say, “Oh! but he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with plenty of relations and friends to push and help him.” Even supposing for the sake of the argument we allow that, does anybody imagine that if Lord William had been unsatisfactory or incapable he would have been Military Secretary for so many years? and not to one Viceroy but to three, all of whom probably held more or less conflicting views, likes and dislikes, each one in turn passing through anxious times and moments of perplexity, yet all without exception spoke of him in terms of great appreciation and affection.
Many have obtained good posts, not all have kept them.
Amongst all the successful personages I can think of, there are none who have had so few jealous enemies as Lord William Beresford.
Unfortunately everyone who has anything to do with that noble animal, the horse, comes in for a certain amount of criticism and occasional abuse; it appears to be the inevitable or natural sequence of events.
EARLY RACING EXPERIENCES
First Racing Partnership—Some Successful Horses—The “White Mutiny”—Military Secretaries Come and Go—Fleur-de-lys’ Affection—Racing—Paperchasing—An Exciting Drive—Ponto’s Admiration for the Fair Sex—Inverarm—How a Sick Soldier Fared—Love of Children—A Children’s Party and How it Ended—The Home for Lost Dogs—Simla Gymkhanas—A Sore Head—A Change of Mounts—Sipi Fair and Marriage Market—What Some of Lord William’s Friends Said—Why he was like King Solomon
Early in 1880 Lord William and his friend, Mr. Monty Stewart, joined hands, forming a racing partnership, and their horse Warrego won the St. Leger at the Umballa meeting. They had also purchased Kate Coventry for 5000 rupees, a big sum for those days. She won the Grand Annual the very next day for them, which was encouraging. At the same meeting Gazelle won the Pony Handicap, Warrego the Trials, and Oliver Twist the Selling Race. On the last day’s racing Oliver Twist rather upset the public’s and everybody else’s calculations by defeating his own stable companion Warrego, who was favourite.
Photo. Rouch, Straua
LORD WILLIAM BERESFORD’S HORSE DEMOCRAT
LORD WILLIAM BERESFORD LEADING KATE COVENTRY, RIDDEN BY DEWING. CALCUTTA, 1881
At Lahore Kate Coventry won the Maiden Chase, Pompey the Dwarf Chase, Lielle the Arab and Country-bred Handicap, Ronaleyn the All-horse Handicap, and Potboy the Pony Handicap, not a bad performance. Lord William now engaged Ryder as his trainer and jockey; he had been successful for Baboo Mohini Mohun Doss of Dacca.
At Dumdum Kate Coventry won the Handicap Chase as well as another race. After this, luck seemed to desert the combined stable, though Kate Coventry still played up nobly, winning the Ballygunge Cup, and Lawyer the Trial Chase Cup. At Deccan, Pot Boy and Lawyer also won a race or two.
Then came the Umballa Autumn Meeting, where their luck was so crushing Lord William vowed he would get rid of the lot of his horses, and advertised the majority for sale. He may have deceived himself through disappointment, but nobody else thought for a moment he would be able to live without racing, in taking which view they were correct, for in July, 1881, he purchased Camballa and Western Princess through the dealer and importer known by the name of Teddy Weekes. Luck seemed once more to be returning, for at the October meeting at Dehra Fleur-de-Lys won over the hurdles, Kate Coventry the Himalayan Chase, and Warrego the Corinthian Stakes, while Probably, a country-bred pony, showed the way in the Gimcrack Stakes. Again at Umballa the good Kate Coventry, Fleur-de-Lys and Probably also each won a race.
Lord William was now recognised as a rising racing man, and as one come to stay. He began to do great things when the Government moved down to Calcutta for the cold weather of 1881-2. His new purchase Camballa, a black Waler gelding, began well by winning the Viceroy’s Cup, steered by Ryder. I see in an old paper of that time “the unpopular Governor-General was not present to see his cup run for.”
It will be remembered I have already pointed out the reason of Lord Ripon’s unpopularity with his own countrymen, though never was a Viceroy so loved by the natives, into whose hands he played all the time, no doubt thinking it would lead to future good, but causing at the time dread and consternation amongst Europeans. Whether his scheme of equalisation between the races has been a success or not I leave to my readers to decide, though perhaps it is still early days to say definitely one way or the other. Certainly, if we may judge by the way India has assisted us in our present struggle, we should feel inclined to think it had, but it is necessary to look a little beyond our noses, and think what may be expected in return—the quid pro quo.
I do not suppose Lord Ripon troubled much as to whether he was popular or not, he was there to do the best for the country and its people, according to his light, after that it must be left in the lap of the gods. The public opinion I have heard expressed of the Viceroys during the time Lord William was on the staff ran as follows—that Lord Lytton was charming, hard-working, and that his work would live long after him; Lord Ripon unpopular, as it was thought he would make life impossible for the white man in the country owing to his enormous sympathy with the natives; Lord Dufferin, popular but left a great deal in the hands of his private secretary; Lord Lansdowne, universally popular, and Lady Lansdowne especially so. These being the only Governor-Generals under whom Lord William served I need go no further. He spoke of them all with affection and gratitude, saying he had received “the greatest kindness from all officially and individually.” I must confess when he said this I felt much as I do when parents say they love all their children alike, which cannot be in the least true; they may love them all, but it must be in different ways and degrees, so I think Lord William felt, if he had spoken literally, he had affection for all his chiefs but in different ways and degrees.
Even Viceroys have a good deal to “put up with.” First and foremost they have to act on orders from home, after which, if the measures do not prove successful or satisfactory, the blame of course falls on the Viceroy’s head; then when settling down and getting into his stride, finding help and comfort in some of his staff—say the Military Secretary, that office bringing the individual more closely into association with him than the rest, forming an important part of his daily life—it has not been unknown for one Military Secretary after another to find that their health will not stand the strain, or that they wish to return to their regiment, another has married a wife who will not live in India and so on, so resignation follows on resignation, leaving the unhappy Viceroy in a constant state of explanations and instructions to new-comers, and with nobody to lean on, while possibly feeling anxious over work of which he has had no previous experience and hardly knows where to turn to find someone who does. Occasionally, perhaps, Viceroy and members of the staff find “incompatibility” a reason for divorce.
The cold weather of 1881-2 proved to the Beresford-Stewart partners that they had a good thing in their new purchase Camballa, besides winning the Viceroy’s Cup, he also won the Burdwarn Cup. Many people speculated as to this horse’s lasting powers, as he stood rather straight on his pasterns, and in India the ground is very hard. However, he did all that was required of him, caused no disappointment, and then was sold again at no loss, so was not a bad bargain. Lord William also won a race himself on Alien; his pretty little Australian mare Fleur-de-Lys, which he had bought from Mr. Abbott, the Tirhoot planter, also won the Tom Thumb Stakes for him. This little mare was charming as well as pretty, and as intelligent as a dog. She had a great affection for her syce, who had been her close companion from the time she arrived in India, and her owner used to give his friends little exhibitions of her affection at times. He would hide the syce somewhere, and then let Fleur-de-Lys loose out of her stable, telling the man to call her, while he kept dodging about hiding from her, but she always found him in spite of all the dodging, whinnying with pleasure when she came up to him. If anyone caught hold of the syce and pretended to beat him and he howled, the mare would go straight for whoever it was she supposed was hurting her friend and companion, would savage and trample on the offender if she could get at him. So great was her affection for her syce that it was unnecessary when moving about the country to put a bit into her mouth, for she would follow him anywhere. She was eventually sold amongst others to the Prince of Jodhpore, where she would be well cared for.
Warrego was now the property of the Beresford-Stewart stable, and won the two mile Durbangah Cup for them. Camballa beat several good horses for the Merchants’ Cup, proving himself the horse of the year.
At the end of the cold weather 1881-2 Mr. Stewart was obliged to leave India and go home owing to ill-health.
Kate Coventry was still going strong and doing wonders, winning the Ballygunge Cup, and again later in the year the Grand Annual, at Lucknow, Ryder in the saddle. After this meeting Ryder was sent to England to buy some horses for Lord William.
The Autumn Meeting at Dehra Doon was very poor, the unsatisfactory settling after their last meeting had made people a little shy, many declaring it was not worth while running their horses under the circumstances; another reason, I think, being the course was not in very good order, but none of these things troubled Lord William, though now I come to think of it he certainly rode other people’s horses, and did not run any of his own, as far as I can remember.
The Umballa Autumn Meeting was not a great success either, owing to much the same reason. The rules regarding betting were a trifle lax, but Ryder, who had returned from England, rode an Australian horse named Blackthorn for Lord William, winning the Sirhind Derby, also several other races; but Island King, a horse Ryder had brought back with him, had a terrible fall when running for the Cup, and had to be put out of his pain.
Paperchases were much in vogue in India during the cold weather. In Calcutta they were very popular, large fields collecting, but eventually they became little short of steeplechases. A number of women used to ride in them, and go right well, but so many who joined in the chase were given to racing it became a little dangerous, as will be readily grasped by anyone who has been closely followed either in the hunting field or in a paper-chase by a racing man, who may, and at times does, forget all about waiting his turn at a fence, and just pushes and rushes wherever he sees a chance, quite regardless of consequences. What matter whose face they trample on so long as they get there!
There were some great chase riders in those days, Captain David Papillon, Colonel Oliver Probyn, with his one arm, Lord William Beresford, and that good sort Mr. Sydney Hartwell of the Oude and Roulicund Railway. What nerve that man had! I remember a wonderful grey roan pony he drove, with a knee as big as an apple dumpling, the result of one of his many accidents, arising from the fact that he was almost impossible to hold. I doubt if many people would have cared to drive the gee. Mr. Hartwell was a strong man, yet it took him all his time to hold this handsome quadruped. He was like a miniature carthorse, and exceedingly fast. An extra pair of reins were always buckled on to the bit and rested under a clip on the dashboard in case of the first lot giving way under the strain. The traces generally dangled loose, the whole cart and contents, no matter what weight, being pulled from the bit and reins.
Several times I was asked if I would like to risk my life behind this steed, and gladly consented, as Mr. Hartwell was a first-rate whip and most cheery companion. It was arranged during one of these drives that we should meet Lord William on the Lucknow Racecourse to see a pony he thought would suit me, put over the jumps. We arrived safely at the appointed spot, Mr. Hartwell put me down and took the pony and cart a little distance away to wait until we were ready, the pony raising no objection to standing. After the matter of trying the pony Lord William thought would suit me, it was agreed that both Mr. Hartwell and Lord Bill should come back and refresh at our bungalow, his lordship said he would jump up behind us on the cart; he received the same instructions as myself, namely, to nip in quick, the moment our Jehu took hold of the reins; this was safely accomplished by both of us, and off we shot like a rocket. The syce in his anxiety to give the place of honour behind to Lord Bill, did not leave himself quite enough foothold, and was shot off at the first rear and bound given by the pony, given just to express pleasure at being on the move again. Mr. Hartwell was the only person or thing in the cart retaining a firm and upright position, Lord William was heard to say “By Jove,” I was speechless shuffling back into my seat trying to look as if I had never left it, the syce I heard later was last seen tearing frantically in rear of the cart, after falling flat on his face and losing his puggery, which was flying out in yards and streams behind him as he ran trying to re-wind it round his head. I was too busy holding on to turn my head to see what had happened to anybody.
After this preliminary all went well, as we proceeded to drive round the course to have a look at the pony jumps, the grey roan flinging himself along delightfully though keeping us in a state of expectancy, when my lord and master, who had been on duty and delayed, therefore not able to be present at the trial of the new pony, came galloping up in hot haste to overtake us. This was the signal evidently to the roan that a race was on, it was really thrilling, and instead of going straight home as we had intended after inspecting the jumps, we were raced round the racecourse at top speed about three-quarters of the way, then on one wheel were hurruished down an awkward dip and carried like birds through the Barrack Square, then on through a mango tope, where Lord William disappeared. Various people who saw us en route were pleased to be funny about our appearance, and one or two sketches were made, in one of which Lord William was supposed to be holding me on to the seat, but looked much more as if trying to sit on my head.
I regret much that in the course of my travels a book full of such souvenirs has unaccountably disappeared. Eventually Mr. Hartwell got the pony in hand, and thanks to his brilliant driving I was landed at our bungalow to find Lord William and my spouse complacently refreshing themselves in the verandah. Lord William said he and a bucket, which appeared from under the seat somewhere, were tipped out under the mango trees while we were being carried over what looked like a newly filled-in grave.
Mr. Alfred Abbott was another great chase rider; he was seldom seen without a cigar in his mouth, and died with one between his teeth on the Barrackpore Racecourse; and many more old friends of Lord William and mine, in fact it would be easy to fill many books with the doings of old friends of that period.
Young and old took part in these paper-chases, Sir George White with grey hairs when Commander-in-Chief, and youths with growing down on their upper lip. One very noticeable thing about people in India is the way they keep young in spite of their years, taking part and interest in all that is going on, old ladies and gentlemen dance until the early hours with the best of the young ones, ride races, play tennis and racquets, in fact everything that is going.
One year Lord William offered a prize for a Ladies’ Steeplechase over the Calcutta Racecourse. There were many competitors, some coming from a distance to show what they could do.
When Lord William presented the prize of a beautiful silver inkstand to the winner, who happened to be a Mrs. Somebody he did not know, he expressed the hope that she would find it useful and persuade her to write long letters to her husband. This was unfortunate, as the lady and her husband had agreed to part. It was a most unusual thing for Lord Bill to make a faux pas.
The Simla Season of 1882 passed much in the usual way, a round of social gatherings and festivities. One character I must not fail to introduce to you, namely, Ponto, Lord William’s poodle; he appears in many photographs, and so he ought, being quite a personage; he lived with his master after he became Military Secretary in quite a palatial house called “Inverarm,” standing on the hill, not far from the Viceregal Lodge.
Ponto and his master were inseparable; there were times of course when he was not wanted which he failed to realise or appreciate, and in spite of the efforts of those who had instructions to keep him at home, searched Simla until he located his master, sitting proudly outside the door until he put in an appearance. Once Lord William left the house he was visiting by a different route, and Ponto sat on far into another day, when he was remonstrated with by the inhabitant of the bungalow at whose door he sat.
On another occasion Ponto broke away from custody and turned up in church at Simla during a marriage service; the church was very full, but Ponto managed to squeeze his way through amongst the multitude of legs, and gave a brisk “Wuff” of delighted greeting when he located his master. This affection at times was embarrassing, but as he meant it all in good part his master was obliged to accept it in the same spirit, while vowing he would find some other means of keeping Ponto at home. Both the latter and his master had many things in common, both admired beauty; if Lord William was sitting at luncheon and said in the usual conversational voice, “There goes a pretty girl,” Ponto would be up and off in a moment, on to a chair to gaze right and left out of the window, or to the door, to look out for the pretty girl. This was always a sure draw for Ponto, and used to amuse Lord William, showing him off.
Inverarm was like a museum for its many trophies of the chase and sport generally. Tables groaned under cups and beautiful silver. Some of Lord Bill’s silver bowls were remarkable for their delicate workmanship; he used often to lend them to people giving parties when they wanted to make a little splash. Indeed, so interesting and comfortable was the house that whenever there was an overflow from the Viceregal Lodge, which was not infrequent, Peterhoff being very circumscribed, the extra guests were put up at Inverarm.
One day when riding along the Mall, Lord William saw a doolie being carried along with a sick man inside; he asked the bearers who was inside, and being told a cavalry officer from the plains, and hearing they were going to take the invalid to an hotel, he told them to go straight to Inverarm, and escorted them to it, keeping the sick man until well again, doing everything possible for his comfort and to expedite his recovery. The individual in question was the present Sir Robert Baden-Powell, at that time in the 13th Hussars, now father of that most important and valuable institution the Boy Scouts.
No season either in Simla or Calcutta was allowed to pass without the children being catered for; the parties the Military Secretary gave for them were amongst the most delightful and eagerly looked forward to by the young folk, who all adored Lord Bill; he in his turn adored them. The vocabulary of children is so small and yet so sufficing. Bairns are very dramatic little persons, and their patois delightful. He would at any time give up an engagement for his own pleasure to go and amuse a sick child, telling them stories, taking them presents and flowers, and always being robbed of the one in his button-hole. He used to have great confidences and secrets with them, which children always enjoy. One small boy who had broken his leg and was much devoted to his delicate mother, wanted to give her something on her birthday as a great surprise, and could not make up his mind what it should be, as his saved pennies were not excessive. For days Lord William made suggestions, none of which were favoured, some being too costly, others she would not care for. Each visit Lord William paid he had some fresh list of suggestions. If the boy had decided on an elephant Lord Bill would have said he was sure he could get one for the money and procured it; but at last the boy had decided in his own mind, and joyfully told Lord William, saying, “I have found out what mother would like; it is a book she often reads. It got spoilt with the white ants eating it, and I want to give her another.”
“That is capital,” said Lord William; “what is the name of the book and who is it by, I mean who wrote it?”
“Oh, I don’t know that,” replied his little friend, looking rather dismayed, “I think it is called Infernal Hope, but I don’t know who wrote it.”
“Never mind, little man, I will soon find out, don’t worry, it is a funny name, but I will soon get it for you. If I write to a man I know who keeps a big book shop, he will be sure to know and send it at once.”
Lord William made a point of finding out from another member of the family what the book was without giving away his little friend’s secret. It was Archdeacon Farrer’s Eternal Hope, and it arrived duly in a beautiful cover in time to give pleasure to both the little invalid and his mother.
Some years after this, when I was giving a children’s party at home in England, Lord Bill asked, “May this child come, please?” Of course I replied I should be charmed, and certainly the children were; I never saw bairns enjoy themselves more. He pretended he was an elephant at the Zoo, and allowed them to sit all over him while he travelled about on all fours giving them rides, then pretending to fall down and roll with them. When he thought they were tired of this he crawled under the table in the dining-room and pretended he was a bear in a cage, and had to be fed by the children through the bars formed by the legs of the chairs arranged around him.
After the last happy child had gone home, Lord William and my youngest brother, who had likewise been assisting, feeling rather limp and exhausted, suggested they would like a wash and brush up. After this operation both were due at opposite ends of London; it was pouring with rain, and there seemed to be a scarcity of cabs. The servants whistled until they were nearly black in the face, as my brother expressed it; at last they succeeded in attracting the attention of one hansom; then each man was too polite to take the cab from the other, and as they were going in opposite directions they could not share it. My brother told Lord William to jump in and he would find one for himself, or wait with me until another arrived.
Lord William would not agree to this, and told my brother to jump in. It ended in their struggling fiercely in the street, each trying to put the other into the cab. The cabby at first looked on in awe and wonderment; he was anxious to keep the cab dry, and each time one of the strugglers was nearly deposited in the cab, up would go the glass, then as they subsided for a fresh effort on the pavement down went the glass again, as the cabby saw all was not decided. He was now entering into the spirit of the game, and settled down to watch and be ready to receive the missile when it eventually arrived.
By this time another cab had turned up, but nobody took the least notice of it. A small crowd of wet errand boys had collected to watch the fun, and I was momentarily expecting a policeman to appear on the scenes and take them both into custody.
At last Lord William won the day, and from behind the curtains in the dining-room window I saw my bruised and shin-barked brother chucked into the cab while in response to the cabman’s “Where to?” Lord William replied, “Home for lost dogs, and drive like the devil.” Needless to say neither my brother nor Lord William looked like paying visits after this romp; their hats had been knocked off and clapped on again by the servants, and small boys looking on, only to roll off once more. Ties had waltzed round, and were looking out from unaccustomed places, collars looked shy and drooping; but I am flying too far ahead; and the Simla Gymkhanas require and deserve a little space before passing on.
The subject of these memories was always full of new ideas for the amusement of Simla. Amongst other races he organised, was the Victoria Cross Race, which was exciting, the idea being that each rider had to place a dummy figure of sorts lying on the ground or in some perilous position, the riders would then have to ride as hard as ever they could over certain jumps, pick up the figure, and bring it back over more jumps into safety, just as if they were trying to save life. These figures were often really well got up, one perhaps dressed as an ayah, another as a child, a soldier, war correspondent, and so on. It was most amusing to watch the struggles while picking up the figures and remounting again. During one of these races Lord William elected to rescue a war correspondent who was supposed to be wounded. He succeeded in picking him up, and was coming over the last fence with him in great style, when a post, which had no business to have been left where it was, caught Lord William on the head, or his head came in contact with the post, giving him a nasty wound, which bled profusely and caused him to lose the race, but the rescued correspondent came in useful, as he helped to mop up the gore. Lord William swore he was none the worse, but must surely have had a very sore head.
Another invention from the same brain was the cigar race. The riders had to start, go over some of the jumps, then change mounts. It was arranged beforehand whom they would change with, it had to be one that had started in the race; then light a cigar, remount quickly, and finish the race with the cigar still alight. This was essential. The agitation was great when the matches would not light, their heads broke off, or the ponies objected, some of which saw no fun in it and declined to wait and see the rest.
Then for another change the ponies and their riders had to jump through big paper hoops after the fashion of circus entertainments. This race generally led to merriment, as the ponies did not care for the game, and ran in every direction to avoid the ordeal. The umbrella race was a good one. Riders had to be mounted on their own ponies, which they had to saddle themselves, when a bell was rung, then open an umbrella, which had to be carried open over the jumps. The opening of the umbrella generally caused trouble.
The race for people who had never ridden in one before was usually comic; elderly sportsmen and timid youths were persuaded or goaded into entering, and it provided all sorts of novel conditions and situations.
Riding up from one of these gymkhanas on a newly purchased pony, which had seemed to me very quiet and suitable to narrow paths and hill-climbing, it suddenly turned nasty on hearing the clatter of a horse coming up hurriedly behind him, promptly laid his ears back and turned his tail over the side of the khud, while I had the unpleasant experience of hearing loose stones and earth giving way under his feet and rattling down hundreds of feet below. I thought I had seen my last gymkhana. I leaned as far forward as I possibly could, to keep my weight off his quarters and give him a chance, for he was beginning to think he had done something foolish, and was scrambling to keep foothold with his fore feet, when Lord William, whose horse’s clatter had caused the outbreak of displeasure on the part of my mount, came to the rescue, and seizing me more or less by the hair of my head landed me safely, the pony slipped down a little way, but got entangled in some bushes, and so gave time to several kindly helpers who rescued him. Lord William then insisted on our saddles being changed, as he would not hear of my riding the wicked pony any more; I therefore had a charming beast of his to take me home, while he taught mine a lesson. When he turned up later he told me he thought the pony must have been drugged when I bought it, as it was a nasty, vicious brute, and had tried to crush his legs against first a tree and then some railings after I had left him with it.
The fair held once a year at Sipi, a few miles outside Simla, was usually a day of extra festivities. Lord William’s picnics there were most enjoyable, being arranged and managed as everything he undertook was managed, with forethought for everybody’s comfort. His organising powers were extraordinary, while his peculiarly gracious and courtly manner added charm to all the functions he arranged. Even in the matter of food everyone’s particular taste was catered for.
With the exception perhaps of Sir Spencer Ponsonby Fane, I never met anyone with such a talent for organising State functions and great occasions as Lord William, and certainly the latter was the more popular and caused less offence than his old friend did at times.
The road from Simla to Sipi is just a pleasant distance for a ride, but along the edge of precipices and through an alarming dark tunnel, which is quite exciting if riding a quarrelsome horse, for in the darkness you often meet a crowd of ponies being driven through with big bundles on their backs. They are usually being driven through by pedestrian natives. The situation at times lends itself to some mix-ups and chatter.
The surrounding tribal women gather themselves together, decked out in all their best, some with a view to finding suitable mates, others to sell their jewellery and gew-gaws. The Thibetan women often realise big prices for their turquoise and silver ornaments. It is a great day amongst the hill tribes for exchange and barter, indeed sales of all sorts.
There is also ceremony attached to this fair, as some of their gods are brought to shower blessings on all the chosen ones. Such curious figures some of these deities possess, they baffle description, being quaint figures, half man, half beast, half nothing. Some do not possess any legs, others we presume have, but are clothed in mysterious garments, leaving much to the imagination. One year Lord William gave his picnic in a villa built there by an Italian confectioner, which sounds strange in the Himalayan mountains surrounded by Thibetan females and other hill tribes. We also must have looked a little out of place, indeed I think we always do look out of place in the gorgeous colour-loving East.
Lord William was the life and soul of Simla, and exceedingly popular with everybody. One of his most charming traits, and one which I admired much, was his gentle, polite manner to natives. Once young Englishmen arriving from home considered it fine and grand to be rude and rough to natives when they were stupid, and made mistakes, which very often arose from their own ignorance of the language, and therefore being unable to express themselves intelligibly; I have heard a young subaltern saying he had saddled his pony, when what he wished to say was the syce was to do so, the young man’s grammar being defective, for which the natives had to suffer. Lord William was most particular in giving his orders to see they were understood, and gave them in a clear polite way which was most refreshing; naturally the natives loved him, would do anything for “Lord Brasspot Sahib.”
Many of his friends said he was a great loss to the Service. Once when a great friend of his was walking round Jakko (the only decent road round on one side of Simla, a sort of continuation of the Mall) with General Sir George Chesney, who wrote that clever book The Battle of Dorking, Lord William rode by at a gallop, taking his hat off to Sir George in a way quite peculiar to himself; it always seemed to imply so much, respect, affection, compliment, pleasure at seeing you, and everything else of the kind, leaving each individual feeling comfortable and pleased. As he passed, Sir George, who was walking with one of the members of the staff and as already stated an old friend of Lord William’s, turned to his companion remarking, “There goes a leader of men. Instead of being Military Secretary to the Viceroy he ought to be commanding a cavalry brigade; he would be unequalled at that work, always supposing he was not turned out of the service for disobedience to orders.”
Another friend, a clever lady of that time at Simla, speaking of Lord William’s character generally, said, “It is not Bill’s cleverness or quickness to grasp the situation, but what he has got in an eminent degree is what Solomon had. I have always thought that Solomon’s great wisdom was much exaggerated, and that what he really had in pre-eminence, and Bill has too, is tact, doing the right thing at the right time. For instance … it was not Solomon’s great knowledge that bamboozled the Queen of Sheba, but knowing when she wanted a foot-stool!”
LORD RIPON LEAVES INDIA
Arrangements for Entertaining Visitors—Lord de Grey’s Shooting—A Good-looking Staff—A Fancy Ball—The Baby cries—Lord William Feeds the Infant—Singing Quadrilles—Pig-sticking—The Tent Club and Its Members—A Case of Mistaken Identity—The Reputation Match—Lord William Resolves to Give Up Racing—Lord Ripon’s Farewell
During Lord Ripon’s time in India a number of people came out from home to stay with him, some wishing to combine a visit to their friends with shooting, pig-sticking and globe-trotting. This kept Lord William busy, as he had to make all the arrangements for their comfort, and where they were to stay, when the Viceregal Lodge was full, which was generally the case. Occasionally he turned out of his own house for guests, searched for suitable bungalows for others, making everybody comfortable and yet without the least apparent effort. Rajahs were communicated with, and shoots arranged; horses were found to suit the various riders, chosen in accordance to their prowess, programmes made out for each day, and printed instructions sent on ahead, so that all was in readiness at each halting place, carriages, horses, servants, food, sport and all the heart of man could desire.
The happy relations existing between Lord William and the Native Princes made this easier for him than it might have been for many.
The present Marquess of Ripon, then Lord de Grey, came to stay with his father, and was anxious to have some big game shooting. He is, as everybody knows, one of the best shots in England. His game card from 1867 to 1891 gives some idea of his skill and the sport provided. I think the years 1880 and 1882 were the years he was shooting in India.
Lord de Grey’s Game Card from 1867-91
GAME KILLED from 1867 to 1891.
Date Rhino- Buffalo Pig Red Deer Partridge Wood Cock Wild Duck Capercaillies Rabbits Total
ceros Tiger S??? Deer Grouse Pheasants Snipe Black Game K??? Various
1867 — — — — — — 8 265 1.179 741 20 22 10 — — 719 934 115 4.013
1868 — — — — — — 35 201 1.418 1.601 28 67 23 — — 690 543 113 4.719
1869 — — — — — — 35 135 1.659 1.431 26 133 37 — — 547 443 122 4.568
1870 — — — — — — 21 498 2.308 2.117 36 53 30 — — 893 626 137 6.660
1871 — — — — — — 55 1.408 1.598 1.889 50 244 42 — — 1.093 341 225 6.945
1872 — — — — — — 38 1.498 2.083 2.835 27 60 31 — — 1.108 756 235 8.671
1873 — — — — — — 25 248 2.417 3.050 95 263 85 — — 1.027 450 591 8.231
1874 — — — — — 3 5 90 2.878 2.345 229 462 131 5 4 1.200 302 1.200 8.854
1875 — — — — — — 3 287 2.882 3.225 176 461 208 — — 1.376 576 743 9.937
1876 — — — — — — 3 1.554 3.394 4.110 30 25 37 — — 1.248 890 266 11.557
1877 — — — — — 2 4 2.032 2.359 4.235 35 45 33 11 11 1.496 1.044 309 11.616
1878 — — — — — 4 9 1.669 3.378 4.679 43 44 55 5 6 2.152 667 503 13.214
1879 — — — — — — 4 1.344 630 3.140 132 92 62 9 11 1.125 287 215 7.051
1880 — 9 6 18 31 73 12 1.131 682 531 9 47 54 26 5 501 141 408 3.684
1881 — — — — — — 5 1.566 3.465 5.014 26 14 43 — — 1.058 797 166 12.154
1882 2 2 6 1 66 104 10 3.025 2.123 2.370 14 21 44 — — 464 1.122 117 9.491
1883 — — — — — — 5 2.896 1.845 6.119 157 84 155 — — 918 1.386 319 13.884
1884 — — — — — — 10 3.073 3.523 4.347 134 70 70 — — 713 1.896 453 14.289
1885 — — — — — — 5 2.015 2.788 4.620 104 23 31 — — 589 2.547 108 12.830
1886 — — — — — — 20 1.989 1.463 3.383 105 87 72 — — 357 786 349 8.611
1887 — — — — — — 57 2.258 3.785 3.387 104 3 12 — — 415 2.328 237 12.586
1888 — — — — — — 4 3.060 853 5.072 31 151 10 — — 307 1.523 85 11.096
1889 — — — — — — 5 3.081 5.751 6.182 100 109 14 38 8 1.747 1.069 135 18.239
1890 — — — — — — — 2.006 7.002 6.498 172 105 28 — — 1.446 1.120 123 18.500
1891 — — — — — — — 2.277 1.699 5.794 34 13 — — — 711 406 271 11.205
2 11 12 19 97 186 378 39.606 63.163 88.715 1.917 2.698 1.317 94 45 23.840 22.980 7.543 252.625
Lord de Grey’s Game Card from 1867-91
Amongst others who came out were Lord and Lady Wenlock, Lady Charles Beresford, and later their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught.
GROUP AT BARRACKPORE ON THE LAWN
Left to right. Standing: Lady Downe (the late); Mr Primrose (now Right Hon. Sir Henry), Lord Alwyne Compton (the late); Dr. Anderson (Viceroy’s Medical attendant); (next figure not known to author); Lord Downe, Capt. Deane, 17th Lancers; possible Sir Maurice Fitzgerald; but uncertain; Capt. Poe, I believe; Lord William Beresford. Seated: Lord Ripon, H.R.H. Duchess of Connaught, H.R.H. Duke of Connaught, Lady Ripon. On ground: Capt. Rochfort (now Sir Alex., Governor of Jersey), Capt. the Hon. Charles Harbord (now Lord Suffield)
Lord William found a pleasant bungalow, not far from the Viceregal Lodge, for Lady Wenlock, while her husband was away shooting, and she spent a good deal of time sketching. Being of an artistic temperament she delighted in the scenery and colouring, finding endless opportunities to practise her art—plenty of work for her brush. Yet at times the colouring is so superb it defies all efforts of speech or brush.
Picture the hill-sides one blaze of rhododendrons, sheets of them leading down to green valleys, where after the rains maidenhair ferns and wild orchids cling lovingly to the branches of the trees, on the ground, carpets of little white flowers resembling our lily of the valley, but lacking its scent, in the distance blue mountains, behind these purple mountains, behind these again snow-clad peaks, a brilliant sun shining over all, framing pictures that remain in memory for life, and yet there are times when the very splendour of it seizes us with a limitless despair. In these few beautiful moments when the sun, symbol of deity in the East, is bidding us good-night, changing all round from rose to red, orange to turquoise, leaving a tiny twilight, and the day is gone, hidden away behind a mist of grey. And we think—but no, we will not think, we will go dress for the “Poggle Khana” or fools’ dance, as the natives call a fancy dress ball. But of these more later.
I wish to introduce my readers to a group of people taken about this time. All the men are members of the Viceregal Staff. Lady Wenlock is in the centre, handsome Lord Alwyne Compton (died in 1911) is seen sitting behind her; he was one of the A.D.C.’s. When not on duty he had an affection for a brown velveteen coat and yellow button-hole, which suited him exceedingly well, his hair, eyes and skin, being almost Italian looking. Lord William, Military Secretary, is on Lady Wenlock’s left, and beside him sits Lady Charles Beresford, his sister-in-law. Then comes Mr. Primrose, Private Secretary to the Viceroy (now the Right Hon. Sir Henry Primrose). On the extreme left is Capt. St. Quinten, another good looking young man, who was a favourite A.D.C. in the viceregal household. Sitting at Lady Charles Beresford’s feet is Capt. Clough Taylor, who hailed from the same county as the Ripons, he also was A.D.C. His wife, Lady Elizabeth Clough Taylor (died in 1896) is sitting on Lady Wenlock’s right. Behind her stands the Hon. Miss Lawley. Sitting at Lady Elizabeth’s feet is Capt. Muir, A.D.C. (now Colonel) and Commander of the Body Guard. In the arm-chair below Miss Lawley is the Hon. Charles Harbord, A.D.C. (now Lord Suffield), and next to him Capt. Rochfort, A.D.C. (now Sir Alex. Rochfort, Governor of Jersey).
It will be observed their Excellencies liked good looking men on their staff.
STAFF AND GUESTS AT VICEREGAL LODGE, SIMLA
Left to right: Capt. Rochfort (now Sir Alex. Rochfort, Governor of Jersey); Honble. Miss Lawley, Capt. Harbord (now Lord Suffield), Lady Elizabeth Clough-Taylor, Lord Alwyne Compton, Lady Wenlock, Lord William Beresford, Lady Charles Beresford, Mr. Primrose, Captain St. Quinten
On ground, left to right: Capt. Muir and Capt. Clough-Taylor
Now I am anxious to tell you about the fancy dress balls.
Some of the dresses worn in India on these occasions are marvellous, people out there seem to take much greater pains to do the thing properly, and there have been many anxious moments in case the dresses should not arrive from Paris or England in time. One fancy dress ball I remember as being particularly amusing, but it was not at Simla. Lord William appeared as a Chelsea Pensioner, and was quite excellent. A good looking woman, wife of an Artilleryman, was “A Wasp”; she naturally had a tiny waist. The wondrous dress with its stripy bands of yellow, black gauze wings, and the little antennae in her head, all well carried out, but the wings made dancing difficult, so she sat in a corner with the Chelsea Pensioner a good deal. The poor old Pensioner did not like much light—it hurt his poor old eyes. But the chief joke of the evening was when a big hefty hospital nurse carried into the ballroom a very lusty looking big red-faced baby, with a distinctly blue line along the upper lip. A white rosette-adorned cap tied under his chin, a short white frock reaching a little below his knees which stuck out all round from the amount of material it contained, which, however, helped to support a big blue sash, matching the shoulder knots; frilled kicksey-wickseys, white socks and sandal shoes completed this child’s costume. The bottle of milk which he was sucking, or pretending to suck, was fixed to his sash, and had a long tube. The nurse put down her charge to toddle along the floor, still holding his hand, but the baby if left for a moment began to cry.
It was not long before we discovered in the baby a hard riding man who had brought some hounds out from home and given us some amusement with them in the cold weather, his nurse was an officer in a smart cavalry regiment. Before the evening was over so many practical jokes had been played on the poor baby that he and his nurse in self-defence retired and changed into ordinary evening garments; but not before supper, when Lord William insisted on feeding the baby with a tablespoon, and dived first into one dish and then another so quickly that the already red-faced baby became apoplectic; it was after this he escaped, having been severely patted on the back for a choking fit.
India has changed since those days when the natives used to be rather shocked at ladies appearing publicly in evening dress, and at some of the flirtations, perhaps not entirely peculiar to the East, but to-day they have become so civilised and Westernised it takes a good deal more to shock them.
The country is a mixture of shabbiness and gorgeousness, pathos and childishness. Some of us appear very giddy out there, because if we did not, we should cry; so ride and dance, keeping up a ceaseless round of activity, we say because it keeps us in health, which in a measure no doubt it does, it also leaves no time for thoughts of home and regrets.
The music of the country is quite peculiar to itself, so is the dancing, which is poor and monotonous, but, of course, I am speaking of some years ago, now possibly the Princes are asking their bandmasters the names of the morsels being played to them, and are told, as really happened I believe to Queen Victoria once, who, on hearing a particularly bright tune being played, asked its name. Nobody seemed able, or inclined, to inform her, but she was determined to know, and sent specially to the band to ask, the messenger returned looking a little uncomfortable, and said it was called “Come where the booze is cheaper.” Probably tunes of that sort are now the order of the day, having travelled with the motor-car and latter-day luxuries.
During the winter in India, singing quadrilles were the fashion, and had to be rehearsed frequently, it was rather funny to see Lord William being schooled into singing his part of “Ba ba black sheep, have you any wool?”; he learnt “Where are you going to, my pretty maid?” much quicker.
It is astonishing the amount of talent that is represented at times in the hill stations in summer, it is by no means uncommon to have really good Christy Minstrels, concerts and even high-class oratorios. (I suppose the latter ought to have been mentioned first).
Lord William did not take part in the big game shooting unless he had to go officially, as it bored him to tears, but he loved pig-sticking more than any other form of sport, and used to get a good deal of it from Calcutta. He belonged to the Calcutta Tent Club, and always said the best days he had were when with his friend “Archie Hills, on his own land at Packabari.” Mr. Hills, if I remember right, was an indigo planter. He appears in the pig-sticking group. For those unacquainted with this form of sport I will explain it briefly. The game can be played by one alone, but usually by three or four men who go out together mounted on horses, and armed with spears to hunt and slay the boar. My own humble opinion is that Arabs are the pleasantest mounts for this form of sport, they seem to understand the broken ground better than any other class of horse and are sure-footed.
The boars are not like our English pork, but very fierce fighting animals; tigers have been known to fight shy of them. It is wonderful the way these pigs cover the ground; they are really fast, and give jumps and bounds of a surprising nature. They generally begin by going away from the sportsmen, but after a while when they get annoyed, and think it is time for some fun themselves, they will turn suddenly and charge the enemy. Some horses that have been ridden regularly after pig, are clever at dodging these charges, which is a distinct advantage, a rip from the tusk of a boar is a nasty one, they always rip upwards, inflicting horrid wounds, when they get the chance.
The Tent Club, already mentioned, was formed at Calcutta of pig-stickers, a photo of which will be found with the names of the most prominent members. I do not remember hearing a great deal about Lord William’s pig-sticking, beyond the fact that he enjoyed it above all things, and got as much of it as his duties allowed. It was returning from pig-sticking in 1880, I think, that an excitement occurred in which Lord William took part.
SOME NOTABLE MEMBERS OF THE CALCUTTA TENT CLUB
Left to right, standing: General Harry Wilkinson, Col. Jim Cooke, Mr. Macnair, Mr. H. Millett, Mr. Anderson, Mr. W. L. Thomas, Mr. W. O. Bell Irving, Mr. Playfair, I think; Mr. Jim Henderson, Captain Muir. Seated: Mr. G. Fox, Sir George Greaves, Mr. Carlysle, Sir Franklin Prestage, Lord William Beresford, Mr. Archie Hills; (next not known to the author). On the ground: Mr. A. S. Chapman, Mr. Laurie Johnstone, Captain A. Rochfort
A number of horses, about 250, had been landed from the ship Thessalus, with a view to taking them to Dhurrumtollah, where stables were ready for them; how to get them there was a matter of speculation; it was decided a few expert Australians, with stock whips, should drive them Colonial fashion, all grouped up together, this answered admirably for some time, until one or two of the leaders took it into their heads that gas lamps were dangerous things, and galloped madly away through the streets, followed by all the rest, simply a mad galloping and hurruishing crowd of horses, a regular stampede, not a pleasant thing to find advancing towards you. They rushed with alarming clatter through the streets out into the maidan or plain, where they broke up into groups, tearing off in every direction. It took all night and part of the next day collecting the animals, who by that time had tasted enough freedom and were not sorry to be caught, but the excitement was great. One unfortunate man, who was riding home at a belated hour, meeting this charging cavalcade turned his horse’s head very wisely and was carried along with them.
Lord William was a good judge of a horse and understood their training, he was therefore often asked for his advice, and if anyone had a good horse they wished to sell they usually let Lord William have a look at it. One day in Calcutta, Mr. John Ralli sent him for trial a very fine fast trotting mare to look at; his lordship decided to buy her. The same evening he went for a “walk round” at Belvedere and saw there a Mr. S. (we will say) and his very handsome wife walking arm-in-arm. There was a very strong likeness between Mr. Ralli and Mr. S., and as Lord William passed, mistaking him for Mr. Ralli, he gave a little pinch whispering, “She’s a ripper.” Mr. S. immediately replied, “You’re a scoundrel, sir!” Lord William was very indignant and thought the man had gone mad, as, of course, he was referring to Mr. John Ralli’s fast trotting mare. Mr. S. was also angry, thinking Lord William referred to his wife. Rather a funny story of mistaken identity.
Lord William was with the Viceroy on the memorable occasion when touring a certain district where the natives had come to the conclusion that, under the new Viceroy’s rule, they were to have a free run among the scattered European residents, where several ladies were living, and when he arrived the said scattered Europeans were not inclined to give his Excellency a favourable reception! This episode was referred to as the “White Mutiny.”
The Autumn of 1882 was not a very lucky one from the racing point of view. Both the Dehra and Umballa meetings were poor and temporarily somewhat out of favour. The winter of 1882-3 was not much better, at Calcutta Lord William certainly won a race with Fariz and another with Mooltan, and he won a match five hundred rupees a side, riding his Premier against Captain Webb, on Mr. Godjack’s Skirmishe.
In May came the news of his partner’s death, poor Mr. Monty Stewart, who had gone home sick. In consequence of this, all the horses were put up for sale, the majority being bought by the Sporting Maharajah of Jodhpore.
Lord William not being able to afford racing alone, on the lines he aspired to, now looked round for another partner, and before long he and the young and rich Maharajah of Durbangah came to an arrangement. The Rajah had acquired a taste for racing from Major Ben Roberts, who had just left India to take up some appointment in England. So now began another partnership, and more money was forthcoming to purchase valuable horses. Ryder was once more sent to England to see what he could find, Lord William also went on short leave and returned with a sprinter named Reputation, Father Prout and Little Charlie. £2000 was given for Reputation, and before leaving for India he won the Egremont Plate of £300 and the Glasgow Plate £200, but he was a nervous horse, did not travel well, was easily thrown off his oats and did no good in India where the ground was too hard for him, which was disappointing, for in the Egremont Plate before leaving England when being ridden by “Archer” he gave 16lbs. to Laceman and 27lbs. to Hornpipe, who were the same age, yet won easily.
Reputation was a smart good-looking horse, bought from a solicitor I believe named Tidy, whom it may be remembered Lord Marcus once tackled in his office, ending in fisticuffs and police court proceedings.
On May 10th, 1883, a great match was arranged between Lord William and Mr. Leopold de Rothschild: the former backing his Reputation against the latter’s Brag. Archer rode for Lord William and Fordham for Mr. Rothschild. The race was run at the Newmarket Spring meeting, 200 sovereigns a side T.Y.C. Matches were quite a fashionable feature of the sport at this period and were generally arranged overnight and a surprise addition to the day’s racing.
The excitement was great over this race, many were interested in it, amongst others the Prince of Wales, Sir J. Astley, Lord Hartington (afterwards Duke of Devonshire) and many more. Crowds flocked to see the race run and there was a good deal of money on it. The horses ran close together most of the course, it was most thrilling, but eventually Brag gained the advantage about a hundred yards from home, winning cleverly by a neck. Perhaps for the benefit of those who are not race-goers I ought to explain T.Y.C. means the two year old course at Newmarket which is five furlongs and 140 yards. This course was a long way from the stand; there were more winning-posts in those days than there are now. It was customary for people to hack over to the different places to see the finish. Brag had the advantage in weight as Reputation had to give him 14lbs., which, in the opinion of many people who were in a position to judge, was considered too much to ask. Perhaps Lord William was not as experienced at that time as he was later in that delicate game of matching: considerable knowledge being necessary to bring it off successfully.
A number of people will not forget that day easily, a good deal of money changed hands over the race.
It was in the Palace House at Newmarket, Lord William made this Brag and Reputation match; where Mr. Leopold de Rothschild always entertained both King Edward and our present King. It is an unpretentious looking abode but very historic, and was the Newmarket house of Charles II.
The newly purchased horses arrived safely in India on July 30th, 1883. But now more bad luck attended poor Lord William, for while riding at Cawnpore in the Gangees Cup he broke his collarbone, and hardly had he recovered from this than, in a jumping Competition at Simla, he dislocated his shoulder and was not able to enjoy the Dehra Autumn meeting.
When once a shoulder has been dislocated it forms a fondness for the amusement and continues to do it with slight provocation. Lord William says it happened once through sneezing!
Though unable to attend the Dehra Meeting, his stable was represented, an Australian named The Mute won the Trials, Action won the Gimcrack Stakes and Johnnie the Hack race. Later at Meerut, Lord William was well enough to ride, and on a horse purchased from the circus proprietor, John Wilson, won the Maiden Chase. At Umballa riding Johnnie he was triumphant in the Grand Military Steeplechase, but got a toss in the Grand Annual when riding Jack the circus horse, but he remounted and finished the race. On the last day of the Umballa meeting he grew annoyed at the weight his horses had to carry and refused to start any one of them, declaring he was sick of racing, and meant to “give it up, and go in for Botany or Erotics.”
In spite of this heroic resolve the following month he was riding at Lahore.
The Calcutta 1883-4 first cold weather meeting, Lord William had a walk over for the Monsoon Welter Cup. At the second meeting Syndicate won the Hooghly Plate, but had only one opponent. In March, Diamond won the Corinthian Stakes, and Caspian the Sirhind Plate. Lord William thought a good deal of an Arab they—he and his partner—owned, named Reformer, and he sent it to England to run at Newmarket in the Arab races, but the poor beast died in the Red Sea.
In June, the first and second day’s racing at Simla saw Lord William without a winning mount.
Though Lord Ripon’s time was comparatively free from political anxieties he had a number of guests to stay with him all to be amused and catered for, this provided food for thought on the Military Secretary’s part, who was ceaseless in his endeavours, but the hard work of that and the constant strain of his racing engagements was beginning to tell on Lord Bill, and he began to look as if a journey home for a while would be good for him.
Only those who understand racing know the amount of thought and care it requires to be successful, even with luck in their favour. To begin at the beginning, money is not made out of the stakes that are won, expenses generally throw the balance into the wrong side, therefore it is betting must do it, and we know Lord William did make a good deal of money over his racing, but it was thanks to his own cleverness. To be successful it must be studied as a business; there are many elements to be taken into consideration and reckoned with, it is really a vast study. Jockeys have to be chosen and retained. Trainers found who give satisfaction and understand their work. Races looked up to suit the horses in the stable, and horses bought to suit the big-plum races all are keen on winning, and after all these considerations how often things go awry.
LORD RIPON, LADY RIPON AND STAFF
Left to right. Standing: Lord Wm. Beresford and Ponto, Capt. Charles Harbord (Lord Suffield), Capt. C. Burn, Dr. Anderson, Capt. Muir, Capt. Leonard Gordon
Sitting: Mr. Primrose, Lord Ripon, Lady Ripon, Capt. St. Quinten, Capt. the Hon. H. Legge
On ground: Capt. Roddy Owen, Capt. Rochfort
It is not reassuring to know that the moment a man takes up racing his honour no longer remains in his own hands, for now he has to take his trainer, his jockey, his syce, and his understudies into consideration, not forgetting his horse. On the face of it, it seems as if only a very philosophical person could bear the strain.
When things go wrong it is usually put down to either the jockey’s evil doing, or the owner’s sharp practice, while it by no means follows that either is to blame. So many things, and so many people have to be taken into consideration, the horse by no means the least; for horses like human beings have their good and bad days, their moods and tempers, but are unable to explain their feelings. Trainers are likewise not infallible, inclined at times to think some of their geese have grown into swans (in all good faith), forgetting other people have a swan or two.
Owners are obliged of necessity to rely a good deal on their trainer’s judgment, but those who come off best are undoubtedly the men who keep an eye on their horses, having opinions of their own and able to carry their own tails. Against this there is the trainer who will not express an opinion, which is vexation to owners wishing to discuss their chances.
Then again think of the anxiety attached to sending valuable horses from place to place to fulfil their engagements; the serious question of what race will be suitable to each horse, the difficulty of deciding what and when to buy, what and when to sell, and judging their public value. Buying race-horses is a different thing altogether to choosing a hunter or a carriage horse. The temper of the parents has to be thought of, and indeed traced back a good long way, also whether any of the family are inclined to be musical. The shape of horses’ feet is important, and so few people agree about horses’ points, the wonder is any trainer and owner can be found to agree.
Lord William looked most carefully after the training of his own horses, and this is no sinecure; they require constant watching. Some have capricious appetites and have to be coaxed with dainties or they will not eat enough, others do not thrive unless they eat grossly and have to be exercised in proportion; here comes in the valuable gift of being able to judge condition, many fail in this most critical point.
It was greatly owing to Lord William’s study of his horses’ characters and temperaments that he was as successful as he was; he knew (none better) that all cannot be treated alike, in sickness and in health, as they say in the Marriage Service; he was also perfectly aware of the uncertainty attached to all matters appertaining to horse-racing. Horses as a rule do their utmost to meet the wishes of their riders, but the training is a severe trial, and the tempers of some give away under it. Their life seems to be one long persecution; it is to be hoped their feeling of fitness makes up for all the fuss and regulations.
Logic is no doubt a good training for owners, leading them to sound judgment, but horses are not given that way.
One good point in Lord William’s training was he did not overtrain, as a rule his horse had a reserve of staying power.
It will be seen that his lordship had plenty to occupy him, in fact considerably overworked himself habitually. Yet always cheerful and comfortably optimistic, and it really requires the temper of an angel to be able to manage horses, stablemen, jockeys, trainers and racing authorities. When we bear in mind that this was Lord William’s recreation, it enables us to form some idea of his busy life.
The State functions which all had to be arranged by him were no trifle, any mistakes or incompetence on the part of the Military Secretary might lead to serious trouble and jealousies. The official visits of the Rajahs to the Viceroy, our King’s representative for the time being, requires a special knowledge, each having to be received according to his rank. Some when coming to pay their respects have to be fetched, as I have already stated, by the Military Secretary, Under-Secretary of the Foreign Department, and an A.D.C. A guard of honour has to await his arrival, much red cloth spread, and a salute fired of as many guns as his rank entitles him, and they keep a very sharp and watchful eye, carefully noting these etiquettes, which are of staggering intricacy when receiving and paying visits. It is also obligatory that the General commanding the district should be in attendance with his A.D.C. Nothing must be left to chance. All is prescribed in the official regulations.
At the levees and drawing-rooms the Military Secretary reads the names on the cards handed to him as each person presents himself to bow or curtsey. Some of the foreign names are rather posers and shocking mouthfuls. It requires some pluck to tackle them, and it is surprising what offence is caused if any mistake is made. Supposing Mrs. De Larpent Fitz-Jones-Ben-Maurice is presented, and the De is left out or the Fitz-Jones perchance, many apologies and explanations will have to be made. Besides these functions the viceregal stables were looked after by the Military Secretary, the French cook Bonsard and the English coachman with their native underlings to be kept up to the mark, the ladies’ maids (who usually require so much more waiting on than their mistresses) to be amused, and the servants ready to carry them out in rickshaws or jampans, to eat the air, or in some cases, riding, and I think no one was overlooked or forgotten.
When on tour his lordship made out each day’s programme in advance, something after this fashion:
8 a.m. The Rajah of … will send his Sirdars to ask after the health of the Viceroy.
9 a.m. His Excellency will eat his breakfast.
10 a.m. His Excellency will smoke and attend to his correspondence.
11 a.m. The Rajah will arrive, and the usual ceremonies take place.
12.30. His Excellency will return the Rajah’s visit.
1.30. Their Excellencies will have luncheon.
2.30. Sports and tent-pegging arranged by the Rajah for his Excellency’s amusement.
and so on throughout the day.
Imagine to yourself having to map out 365 days in this fashion and please everybody! Truly a great man, and some of the big functions I have been privileged to witness have sadly needed a Lord William as stage manager; he would have greatly added to the dignity of the shows and the persons taking part.
The official society in Simla at this period was particularly bright and happy. The Commander-in-Chief at Snowdon, Sir Donald Stewart, with his kindly wife and family of cheery, happy young people; the young men on the Viceroy’s staff, other dignitaries and their belongings, all like one big family, meeting nearly every day; then the crowd of visitors, officials from all over India on leave with their wives, officers up on short leave with wives if they own one, wives sent up for their health, while the husbands are kept working on the plains (Lord William being sure to look after them), little children with pale faces hoping to find some roses to take back to daddy; Lord William kept an eye on them all, ready to sympathise and help any he thought needing it.
It was at Simla in Lord Ripon’s time I first met the Rajah of Kooch Behar and the Maharanee. She had not long been married, was very shy and rather fragile looking, and wore beautiful silken draperies I remember. Her husband, the Rajah, was very popular with the English community, and a great friend of Lord William’s. They had much in common, as both were fond of racing, polo, and paperchasing, the latter of course only in the plains and Calcutta.
A few years ago I met the Maharanee again in London, and introduced my son to her, she being no longer shy but with an assured and very charming manner, speaking good English and dressed like the rest of us. My son said how pleased he was to meet her, he had heard me speak of her so often. She replied with a charming smile:
“And now you meet me I hope you are not disappointed.”
Latterly the Kooch Behars spent a good deal of time in England, where everybody liked them.
THE LATE MARQUESS OF RIPON, VICEROY OF INDIA
Lord Ripon’s reign was drawing to a close; he left India in November, 1884. More popular with the natives than any previous Viceroy, he was also much liked by those who worked with him. He was very loyal to them, but how glad he must have been to return to his own beautiful home in England. The following farewell is supposed to have emanated from his Excellency’s pen, it appeared in some local paper at the time I believe, and was sent to me as a cutting. I therefore do not know the name of the paper, so cannot ask its permission to quote it, but feel sure it will have no objection.
LORD RIPON’S GOOD NIGHT
Adieu! adieu! the land of palms
Fades o’er the waters blue;
The loafers yell, the planters roar,
And weeps the mild Hindu.
Apollo his own Bunder gilds,
As slow he sinks from sight:
Farewell to them and thee for aye,
Unhappy land—Good night!
I leave thy shores to which I steered
With hopes that swelled my heart,
Their shadowy phantoms rise again
To greet me ere I part.
They came not through Sleep’s Ivory Gate,
As once they came, dream-born,
But whence the truer shades arise
From the twin Gate of Horn.
They tell of many a purpose crossed,
Of disconcerted plan:
Of baffled aims that wisely chide
The imaginings of man:
Of fond desires, of fancied good,
As though could power constrain
All means to justest ends and bring
A golden age again.
They tell of angry gathering crowds:
Of Faction’s hate-swayed throng:
Of wild words prompting wilder deeds,
Unstayed by heed of wrong;
The cruel taunt, the scornful jest,
The slander that belies,
The coward hiss that rose unshamed
Before a woman’s eyes.
All save the last in other years
I braved this, this, was spared;
Though fiercer crowds had wreaked the worst
That bigot rage had dared.
I stood for what I deemed the right—
Ye women-slayers say true!
Have cheeks that never paled for them,
Ere blanched for such as you?
To win the fickle breath of praise,
No suppliant knee I bow,
And what once Duty pledged to grant,
No fear shall disavow.
I crave not at your hands for aught
But dues that fair lists owe,
And bear ye as ye will, ye meet
At least a gallant foe.
Yet not alone of these the freight
Their parting message bears,
But auguries of harvest joys
For a seed-time of tears.
The reapers of the summer swathes
Know well that winter’s rain
Must spend its havoc on the soil,
Ere smiles the yellow grain.
So time shall its own wreck repair,
And they who garner, then,
Forget not that the day’s long heats
Were borne by other men.
Yet not in vain the labour now,
Nor scant the meed unsued,
The richest guerdon toil can earn—
A people’s gratitude.
They bring the memories of friends
Who charm on exile shed:
Who lightened weary months of care,
And soothed the fevered bed:
Bold hearts that never failed my side,
In cloud or shine the same:
Still true in the fierce fight that raged
Round Ilbert’s fateful name.
Come hither, come hither, my trusty Aide,
What turns thy cheek so pale?
What latest fair thou leav’st behind,
Believes thy oft-told tale?
If ’tis some fond delusion paints
Thy happiness at stake,
A heart that holds so many loves,
Fear not, will never break.
And she for whom thou sighest now,
That fond and faithful she!
Already smiles on other Aides,
And thinks no more of thee.
A simple primrose is to her
But that and nothing more:
And thou wilt find some newer love
Before thou touchest shore.
Another lord my palace treads,
My reign is past and o’er:
Of me thy shades have seen the last,
Let Simla’s typhoid-laden air
Another victim know,
And envy his ungrateful race
That wail in health below.
Farewell to levees, pageants, routs,
To weeks of endless dinners;
To balls where I must lead the dance
With capering saints and sinners.
Farewell to Rajahs and Nabobs:
To fetid pan and attar,
To coming Russians in Herat
And Rent Bills in Calcutta.
Farewell, Societies where meet
In concord, whites and blacks:
Associations that defend
What nobody attacks:
The long addresses that pursue
A Viceroy where he goes:
Farewell to Hunter’s bright romance
And Kimberley’s dull prose.
Farewell to Budgets and Reports,
To critics in the press,
Who nightly weave Arabian tales
Of fiction, fact and guess:
To hourly fears lest Colvin’s glance
Of deficits should tell;
Riots, rupees, and zemindars!
To one and all farewell!
And all the scathing paper wars
Where Secretaries fight
To prove how sharp the pens they wield,
How smartly they can write:
Official minutes, drafts and notes
And boxes that they fill,
To my successors I bequeath
With one unfinished Bill.
With thee, my bark, I’ll swiftly speed
Athwart the ocean’s span,
Nor care what land thou bear’st me to,
So not to Hindustan.
Welcome, welcome, ye hastening waves
That homeward wing my flight!
Welcome the Franchise and the Lords.
Distracted land—Good night.
H. S. J.
LORD DUFFERIN’S VICEROYALTY
Lord Dufferin Succeeds Lord Ripon as Viceroy—Durbar at Rawal Pindi to Meet the Amir of Afghanistan—A Few Annoyances—How it All Ended—Some Presents—Outline of a Viceroy’s Tour—A Nasty Fall—Sale of Confederacy Horses—“Father Time”—Parlour Fireworks—A Ride to the Pyramids—Unostentatious Charity—Some Impositions
The Earl of Dufferin succeeded the Marquis of Ripon in 1884. India hoped great things of him, as he was a man thoroughly experienced in dealing with delicate situations, having been Governor-General of the Dominion of Canada, and Ambassador at St. Petersburg; he had also from 1864 to 1866 been Under-Secretary of State for India.
Lord Ripon’s zeal for the natives having created a strong and most undesirable antagonism between the Europeans and natives, the new Viceroy’s first endeavour was to restore confidence to the European community without undue reaction, and he succeeded in a measure.
Lord William remained in his old haunts, being appointed Military Secretary to the new Viceroy; he also being experienced, all began smoothly. In domestic politics Lord Dufferin carried out certain reforms in the tenure of land in Bengal (Bengal Tenancy Act, passed 1885), and Lady Dufferin started a great work with a view to providing medical treatment and nursing for native women, of which I will write later. In all these movements Lord William took the keenest interest, and he was the oil which helped to keep the machinery working smoothly. Somebody once said, “A landlord is the father of his tenants,” then surely a good competent Military Secretary who has been at his post some years is father, godfather and nurse all rolled into one to the Viceroy. The private secretary, Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, was also exceptionally capable and a man of letters.
Being so well supported must have been a comfort to Lord Dufferin during the anxious time which followed his taking office, for there was still that urgent and difficult question of the Afghan boundary demanding attention. The hitherto sketchy and uncertain alignment as arranged and agreed in the 1872-3 Anglo-Russian agreement left loopholes for controversy, the River Oxus having been regarded as the boundary or demarcation line. This river had views of its own, altering its course to suit its own convenience, therefore could not be relied upon as a satisfactory or definite boundary, but one likely to lead to misunderstanding. The Russians were also a little pressing with their influence in the direction of Herat. As we had been led to look upon that place as “The Key of India,” we had to consider what was best to be done to prevent its occupation by the Russians. It may be remembered that Lord Dufferin considered almost any deviation in the boundary better than offending the Amir and making him antagonistic to us.
The forts at Herat were not of much importance, but our prestige would certainly suffer if we allowed anybody else to occupy the place, and as India could not spare enough troops either to hold Herat or even the line of communication between it and Candahar, Lord Dufferin held much converse with the Government at home, the Commander-in-Chief in India (Sir Donald Stewart) and the India Office as to the best mode of procedure, the result of which was we prepared to send about 25,000 men to Quetta via the Bolan Pass. The Amir thought he would like to talk over the situation with the Viceroy, and so it was agreed that the Afghan Chief should meet His Excellency at Rawal Pindi. In consequence of this arrangement a huge camp was formed, everything done and carried out on the most magnificent and impressive scale, such as is beloved by Orientals, plenty of tinsel, glitter and pomp.
I have often thought the inhabitants of India, and Afghanistan too for that matter, must think us very dowdy looking people compared with their own codes, and indeed we do make a sorry show amongst their gorgeous jewels, colour and trappings. Perhaps if we were to appear at their big gatherings and on great occasions with more of the “rings on our fingers and bells on our toes” that we used to hear about in our nursery rhymes, we should inspire more admiration and reverence. I am strongly under the impression that these colour-loving people look for, and take the outward and visible sign, as a precursor of the inward and spiritual grace.
This Durbar at Pindi entailed most elaborate preparations and much work on the Military Secretary. It really consisted of several camps, one group for the native princes and chiefs, one for the British Army, another for the native army, the viceregal camp, one for the Lieut.-Governor, and various others, making an imposing array.
Among the guests of the Viceroy were the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, numerous Lieut.-Governors, Commander-in-Chief, also members of Council.
The comings and goings of all these good people, their comfort, the necessary arrangement of precedence and etiquette was the work of the Military Secretary, and required some thought and hard work to digest and assimilate satisfactorily. The worry attached to the arranging of a camp of this kind is enormous. Lord William did not appear the least depressed, but quite as cheery and bright as usual, while being extraordinarily efficient. Of course he had the A.D.C.’s under him, whom no doubt he had chosen from his knowledge of their capabilities. It is, however, easy to imagine the worries and anxieties attached to the occasion. We all know how annoying it is when arranging functions ourselves, to find at the last moment the chef has been indulging in something stronger than tea, which has made him quarrelsome, preferring chasing the kitchen and vegetables maids rather than attending to the dinner the expectant guests may be awaiting.
Heaps of annoyances of all sorts and kinds were bound to happen. I do not know what they all were, but I do know that after making the most elaborate arrangements for everybody’s comfort, excellent food, decorations, snowy white tablecloths, etc., the very day of the Amir’s entry a heavy thunderstorm spoilt everything. The tenants of the different camps had either to stay where they happened to be and risk having no dinner, or wade through a swamp. The decorations were ruined, the tablecloths draggled and limp, the water having poured through the tents. Elaborate ceremonies under canvas are trying at any time, but when in addition to natural difficulties everything is under water, it is truly a hopeless and thankless task.
Usually these domestic worries fall on the shoulders of women, and are borne more or less patiently as part of their existence. For a man to tackle such things and on such a glorified scale will, I feel sure, take away the breath of those readers who have never seen what an energetic, undauntable man like Lord William could master. In a moment, so to speak, he had to reorganise everything. How was he going to keep people dry, how prevent the rain from spoiling or even washing away the presents all laid out ready for the Amir, the diamond ornaments, gewgaws, and oh! horrible thought, the musical boxes, suppose they refused to be musical in consequence of the wet? Who could tell what crisis might arise, or whose head be cut off! As a matter of fact and interest the Amir did bring his own executioner with him in gorgeous garments, and carrying the emblem of his office, a battle-axe and a few other suggestive little items, meant, no doubt, to impress us.
Before passing on to other matters, it may interest some of my readers to know what in the Oriental world is considered “good form” when receiving presents. On this occasion a sword studded with diamonds round the hilt was presented on a cushion to the Amir, who on taking it into his hand diplomatically exclaimed, “With this sword I hope to smite any enemy of the British Government,” repeating his lesson very nicely. This was quite as it should be, and the Amir had been well advised, but when the rest of the presents, guns for his son, musical boxes, watches and all sort of glittering things were being spread out before him, he pretended not to see, or take the smallest interest in this part of the show; but as soon as he was alone with his followers, all were examined carefully, and he was very pleased.
When the time arrived for the giving of presents it was understood the object of the meeting had been obtained, all points carefully discussed between the Viceroy and the Amir, the latter having formed clearer views of what was to his own interests (and ours incidentally); that we were prepared to fight his enemies, assist him with arms and money, and with him pay attention to the fortification of Herat, and if he followed our advice we were going to help him to keep Russia away from his doors.
The great Durbar was over, and beyond the torrents of rain nothing much had gone amiss, the elephants told off to take part in the state procession did not refuse to “process,” the musical boxes did not refuse to play, and all went well.
LORD DUFFERIN, FAMILY AND STAFF
Left to right. Standing: Capt. Leonard Gordon, Hon. C. Lawrence, Capt. Onslow, Col. Harry Cooper, Capt. A. Balfour, Lord Herbrand Russell, Mr. Goad, D. Findley
Sitting: Col. G. F. Graham, Lady Helen Blackwood, Lord Wm. Beresford, Miss Thynne, Lord Dufferin, Lady Dufferin, Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace
On ground: Capt. C. Burn, Capt. Honble. C. Harbord
Then followed the arranging for the return of all the participators in this pageant. Happily the Amir considered rain a good omen, and as it rained when he arrived, also when he took his departure, he must have felt he was in luck’s way.
Lord William, Captain Harbord, Mr. Durand, and other high officials drove from the Viceroy’s camp to the Amir’s, preparatory to the final adieu and to inform him of the arrest of Ayab Khan, thereby easing his mind, also the tidings that Her Majesty the Queen-Empress had conferred on him the decoration of the Grand Cross of the Star of India.
The Amir left in the Viceroy’s carriage accompanied by these officers en route for the station with a cavalry escort and body-guard of the King’s Dragoon Guards. The route was lined with troops who presented arms every fifty yards. Then a pleasing little speech from the Amir, and he was on his way back to Kabul.
Lord William had time again now to breathe freely after his hard work, and carried back to India and eventually to his home in England various souvenirs he treasured, presented to him by some of those attending the Durbar as a small appreciation of his untiring efforts for their comfort and pleasure.
Besides the brain work this gathering necessitated the writing it had entailed was enormous. I append a programme drawn up by the Military Secretary for Lord Dufferin’s tour from Simla to Calcutta in 1885, which gives some faint insight into the Military Secretary’s work every day. Also into that of the Viceroy, for at each place mentioned in the programme there were numerous people to be interviewed, some with grievances to be redressed, or petitions of sorts for the consideration of his Excellency. The landowners look forward to these visits as they give them an opportunity of personally explaining their views to their ruler. In addition to all this there are all the local celebrities to be met and have polite nothings said to them, the arranging of which takes some writing, some tact and some talking. It all passes more or less through the hands of the Military Secretary before being placed in the hands of the Viceroy.
Think what the Durbar entailed!
Memo. of Dates of His Excellency the Viceroy’s route from Simla to Calcutta, via Nahun, Dehra, Saharunpore, Delhi, Ulwar, Ajmere, Oodeypore, Indore, Jodhpore, Jeypore, Bhurtpore, Agra, Lucknow, Cawnpore, and Benares.
1885 DAY STATION REMARKS
Oct. 20 Tuesday Simla Leave 8.30 a.m. by tonga.
Dugshai Arrive 1.30 p.m. Lunch. Leave 3 p.m. Ride on to Nyna, 9 miles.
Nyna Viceroy’s Camp; arrive 5.30 p.m.
” 21 Wednesday Nyna to Suran Viceroy’s Camp, 13 miles.
” 22 Thursday Suran to Bonytee Viceroy’s Camp, 13 miles.
” 23 Friday Bonytee to Nahun Viceroy’s Camp, 12 miles.
” 24 Saturday Nahun Viceroy’s Camp.
” 25 Sunday Nahun to Majra Viceroy’s Camp by tonga.
” 26 Monday Majra Viceroy’s Camp. Shoot.
” 27 Tuesday Majra to Dehra Dun Viceroy’s Camp. Shoot on road. By tonga.
” 28 Wednesday Dehra Dun to Sharunpore Inspect remounts, stables, and gardens in the afternoon.
” 29 Thursday Delhi Arrive 9 a.m. by special train.
” 30 Friday Delhi Levee 9 p.m.
” 31 Saturday Delhi
Nov. 1 Sunday Delhi
” 2 Monday Delhi Leave 11 p.m. by special train.
” 3 Tuesday Ulwar Arrive 9 a.m.
” 4 Wednesday Ulwar Shoot.
” 5 Thursday Ulwar to Ajmere Leave 10 a.m.; arrive 6 p.m. by special train.
” 6 Friday Ajmere Levee 9 p.m.
” 7 Saturday Ajmere Open College; leave 9 p.m. by special train to Nimbehera.
” 8 Sunday Oodeypore Arrive 6 p.m.; 6 miles by road.
” 9 Monday Oodeypore
” 10 Tuesday Oodeypore
” 11 Wednesday Oodeypore Leave 9 a.m. by road to Nimbehera.
” 12 Thursday Indore Arrive 9 a.m. by special train.
” 13 Friday Indore
” 14 Saturday Indore Leave 2.30 p.m.
” 15 Sunday Jodhpore Arrive 6 p.m. by special train.
” 16 Monday Jodhpore Shoot.
” 17 Tuesday Jodhpore Shoot.
” 18 Wednesday Jodhpore Leave 9 p.m.
” 19 Thursday Jeypore Arrive 10 a.m.
” 20 Friday Jeypore
” 21 Saturday Jeypore
” 22 Sunday Jeypore to Bhurtpore Leave 10 a.m.; arrive 4.30 p.m.
” 23 Monday Bhurtpore Shoot; leave 3 p.m.
” 24 Tuesday Bhurtpore to Agra Viceroy’s Camp. By special train; arrive 5 p.m.
” 25 Wednesday Agra Levee 9 p.m.
” 26 Thursday Agra Levee 9 p.m.
” 27 Friday Agra Levee.
” 28 Saturday Agra Levee.
” 29 Sunday Agra Levee.
” 30 Monday Agra Levee.
Dec. 1 Tuesday Agra Levee.
” 2 Wednesday Agra to Gwalior Leave 9 a.m.
Dec. 3 Thursday Gwalior to Dholepore Arrive 4.30 p.m.; leave 11 p.m.
” 4 Friday Lucknow Arrive 9 a.m.
” 5 Saturday Lucknow
” 6 Sunday Lucknow
” 7 Monday Lucknow to Cawnpore Arrive 1.30 p.m.
” 8 Tuesday Cawnpore Leave 11 p.m.
” 9 Wednesday Benares Arrive 9 a.m.
” 10 Thursday Benares
” 11 Friday Benares to Calcutta Leave 11 p.m.
” 12 Saturday Calcutta Arrive 9 p.m.
Military Secretary’s Office, Simla.
September 14th, 1885.
All this time while Lord William was attending to his duties, his horses were running in different races, but he was not very lucky, the 1884-5 Calcutta Meeting was disastrous, one horse after another going wrong, and Prospero put his lordship’s shoulder out again by falling with him, in spite of which, swathed in bandages, he rode on the second day a very good race on the same animal, it being one of the best races he ever rode, though he did not win.
Calcutta now had a new grand stand, and the races were run in the afternoon instead of the morning, which was a popular innovation. At the Second Calcutta Meeting, Ryder, Lord William’s jockey, also had a nasty fall when riding Euphrates, the grand one-eyed Arab belonging to John Wheal, termed by Mr. Abbott the Father of Indian Trainers, who describing the race says: “Just opposite the Stand, on the other side of the course, Euphrates, being on his blind side and on the extreme inside, perhaps shying from the rush of heels behind him, ran bang into the rails, not only crushing and breaking Ryder’s leg but continuing to press inwards till the woodwork gave way and Ryder from sheer weakness fell off, and Euphrates continuing his mad career must have dashed against a post, for, when caught, it was found he had knocked his only remaining eye out.”
On the 28th of January Lord William had another nasty fall, his horse Jack not rising properly at the first fence, throwing his rider on to his face. Friends who were near pulled him out of the way before he got trodden on. He was unconscious and badly cut about the head and nose, having to be carried back to Government House and put to bed, though the moment he regained consciousness he wanted to go back to the races.
Shortly after this accident Lord William went home on leave, and badly he wanted the change and rest, for he was showing signs of overwork, his many accidents had shaken him almost more than he was aware of; but before leaving India the Durbangah-Beresford Confederacy horses were put up for sale on the 28th of February at Messrs. Brown & Co.’s Mart in Calcutta. Very fair prices were realised as will be seen from the following list:
Reputation bought by Mr. Hard 1,800
Father Prout ” Dr. Hart 700
Little Charlie ” Mr. Hard 6,000
King of the Vale ” Major Deane 2,500
Bassanio ” Mr. Macklin 5,700
Zephyr ” Dr. Hart 3,000
Glory ” Major Deane 2,000
Manfred ” Major Deane 2,500
Lapella ” Mr. Croft 1,500
Bolieo ” Captain Gordon 3,700
Jack ” Dr. Hart 2,500
Diamond ” Captain Webb 750
Prospero ” Captain Burn 1,000
Torpedo ” H. H. Kooch Behar 700
Quack ” H. H. Kooch Behar 450
Pretender ” Major Deane 1,200
Cinder ” — 1,800
Atarin ” — 1,400
Khartoum ” — 1,200
Fariz ” Captain Gordon 650
Snuff ” Dr. Hart 900
One or two of the best were bought by Mr. Hard for one or other of the partners of the Confederacy, Reputation and Little Charlie amongst them. Bassanio, the Australian, who fetched 5,700 rupees, was bought back in March by Lord William. The Government bought several for the Stud Department, and a little later purchased good old Jack from Dr. Hart and sent him as a present to the Amir of Kabul for stud purposes. Prospero was back again in the stable, and a week or two before Lord William started for home won the Grand Annual at Meerut, also the Hurdle Race, and Dynamite a handicap of sorts.
In April Lord Bill started for home. India felt lonely when he had gone, especially amongst some of his fair friends. With women absence often makes the heart grow fonder, but with men it is proximity that plays the mischief, and Lord William I am afraid forgot to be sad over the partings, for he found so many more fair friends in the Old Country anxious to greet him and be kind.
There was no doubt about it he was beginning to age, to realise how quickly we drop into middle age. It all comes about so imperceptibly, perhaps a few grey hairs first awaken us to the change, it suddenly dawns upon us, time is not standing still, that we have reached the top of the hill that looked so long and unending, and now behold we are slipping down the other side, and where are all the lovely views we expected to find on reaching the top of the hill? Surely they must have been mirage! It is a curious fact that you may look at yourself in the glass many times a day but until something happens to force the fact of a change on you the only image you behold in the mirror is yourself in youth. Even after elasticity has left us, it still does not dawn upon us we are—of the past. Perhaps nothing brings it home to us more quickly than meeting some friend of our youth and finding he has grown ponderous, lost the sparkle, hair grown grey, eyes dim, and possibly a corporation, this makes us turn an anxious eye on ourselves to see if similar changes have taken place.
Lord William never lost his sparkle or his pluck and he never sported a corporation, but the unceasing energy of his life was telling on him. It was quite useless begging him to take things more easily for it was not possible to him. How he did enjoy a joke! I think it was in 1885 when he was home on this leave that he went with me to Rose’s toyshop in Sloane Street to find some toy to amuse a small boy of mine that was delicate. While we were wandering round the shop a friend came and spoke to me, so Lord William continued his prowl, looking for likely things. When at liberty once more I found him with a neat parcel in one hand, and he exclaimed, “I have the very thing.” “What?” I asked. “Oh, come along, and I will explain it to you,” so we marched out. I was then told the parcel contained “Parlour Fireworks.” I suggested they were rather dangerous things, but the idea was pooh-poohed. They were only pretty coloured lights that threw up harmless sprays of blue, green and red powdery flame. One of them he lit in the drawing-room fender to show me how harmless they were. It seemed all right, so as soon as he had gone and it was growing dark the small boy, myself and nurses proceeded on to the flat roof of the house we were then renting in Park Lane, in the narrow end near Gloucester House, where we felt well protected by the Duke of Cambridge’s policeman always stationed at his door. The first few Roman candles we lit were a success and caused great delight, then I found a queer little box with rules where to light it. I faithfully followed all the instructions. At first nothing happened, then suddenly the air was alive with rifle-like reports in rapid succession, while live squibs, things I believe called crackers, were flying about cracking in every direction all over the tops of the houses. What a commotion there was! The policeman ran in every direction at once and blew his whistle, the jaded sleeping horse in the laundry van at our area railings suddenly awoke, curled its tail over its back pug-dog fashion, and set off for all it was worth, leaving the man in charge, still in the kitchen, probably enjoying good things. Everybody in the neighbourhood shouted, while we all scrambled helter-skelter down the narrow staircase leading from the roof, and on which housemaids had left various pails to dry and air. These in our haste to descend and hide our heads, we charged, hurtling them down the stairs in front of us, making a horrible clatter.
Arrived at last in our rooms again, we all pretended to be dead while the policeman came to enquire if we had heard anything, and did we know anything about it? Our old housekeeper, who had been with us many years and who was in the secret, faced the policeman, fearing we might be given away by some indiscreet statements from the other servants. She, of course, was very indignant that peaceable people should be liable to such disturbance and hoped the policeman would make a point of finding out about it, saying: “Really nobody is safe from bombs and Jack-the-Rippers nowadays.” The policeman promised to do his best. The following day the morning paper mentioned a mysterious affair that had occurred in Park Lane, and it was supposed an attempt had been made to blow up Gloucester House!
Thinking the matter over after all was calm again and the laundry man had gone in search of his horse and van I began to wonder how much of this had been design on the part of Lord William, for it was a Jack-in-the-Box that exploded making such a noise, harmless in itself but productive of rather an upheaval. When I told him what had happened I thought he would never stop laughing.
I had lately returned from Egypt where I had been staying with friends who one evening got up a picnic at the Pyramids to which we were all to ride on donkeys. I was told by that dear good fellow Gerry Portal, I think, but it is so long ago I am not sure, that the best donkey in the place had been secured for me, it was a great gymkhana winner, pure white, and boasted the name of Lord Charles Beresford. So I rode Lord Charles Beresford to the Pyramids. Everything was being called Lord Charles or Lord Charles Beresford at that time, his name was on everybody’s lips, for he was and had been doing great things in Egypt, and it was considered a great honour for anyone or anything to be called Charlie.
I seem to have been recounting many stories of Lord William’s fun and humour, but none of his thousands of kindly deeds, which were strewn throughout his life as thickly as blackberries in September. It is difficult to know where to begin, but I like to think that when the day came for him to cross the border the spirits of some of those he had saved from despair, whom he had helped not once but many times, were waiting to greet and welcome him. I do not think anyone who went to him for help or sympathy was ever “rebuffed.” At times he certainly was imposed on, though he would not believe it, and even when it came home to roost, as it occasionally did, he was most forgiving. One individual in particular I remember in India. He had been in a good cavalry regiment, but got into trouble at one of the Umballa Race Meetings I have already described when there was heavy plunging, trying to recover himself and place his finances on a firm footing again, he only slipped further into the mire, until in a hopeless mess; he then, to make matters worse, outstayed his leave, and was turned out of the service. This man was well known throughout India, and was an extraordinary character, blessed with good looks, a fine figure and physique, a charming tenor voice, it seemed there was much to be thankful for. Lord William thought if once this man was put on his legs again, given a fresh start, he might pull himself together and be more lucky; he therefore paid up for him, and befriended him in every way. This friend, whom we will call Captain X., now devoted his life to racing in India, and he became a formidable opponent, as he had good hands and judgment, and I doubt if there was a racecourse in India that had not made his acquaintance. It was not long before he was in trouble again; once more Lord William and Lord Airlie came to the rescue, meeting with gross ingratitude, for the man could not be straight, he failed and robbed his benefactors at every turn. Lord William was only full of pity that such a talented, fine chap should go hopelessly wrong. Captain X. was very good company, a very fast runner and a strong swimmer; all this appealed to Lord Bill, who tried his hardest to save him, but it was no use. I have been told eventually he helped the man to go away to another country and try again.
Lord William always said his sympathies were with the sinners, but I think they were with everybody in every station of life.
Riding through Cantonments one day he met a soldier’s wife carrying a heavy child who was looking ill. He asked why she carried it, and on hearing it was ill and she could not drag it along after her, and the air was good for it, he expressed his sorrow for its ill-health, spoke a few cheering words, and rode on. That evening a perambulator arrived from an anonymous donor at the door of the sick child’s mother.
More times than I can number have boys fresh out from home been saved from making “asses of themselves,” as Lord William expressed it, by his counsel and help. A youth I knew came out to join a crack regiment. He had more money than was good for him, and fancied himself not a little. His mother wrote asking me to be kind to him. I endeavoured to mother him, but he was so certain he knew everything and was a fine fellow going to show everybody the way, it was difficult to guide or help him. He began racing and betting. Naturally there were older hands at that game than himself, and he got into trouble. At last, when he had come to the end of all his resources, he came to me, but as he was then heavily involved with a native money-lender, I felt it was beyond my powers, and asked if I might consult a friend if I mentioned no names. This I was permitted to do, and sought Lord William’s help. He told me not to trouble about it at all, but send the lad to him. After some discussion he rather ungraciously accepted Lord William’s offer, and went to see him. Happily this turned out better than the other case I have mentioned, for the boy came back radiant, to tell me Lord William was going to settle with the money-lender and put him straight, and when he came into his uncle’s property, which was bound to fall to him before very long, he was going to put it all right with Lord William, but as he had no power to anticipate the money he could only give his word of honour about it.
I wonder if there was anybody but Lord William who would have done this. When in the evening I met my old friend and thanked him for helping the lad with such uncertain security, he replied, “Oh, I never expect to see it again, but he’s a nice boy and has promised to come to me for tips before plunging again.” It rejoices me to be able to say all was paid back and Lord William had a faithful and devoted friend as long as the poor lad lived. He died of heart failure on a P. & O. going home on leave.
DEAR LONDON AGAIN
The Man Who Thought He Was King—A Dance After Dinner—How It Ended—Corney Grain in Disgrace on the Door-mat—Racing—Trouble in Burmah—Lord Dufferin and Lord William Go There—Collecting the Offertory in Church—Some Schemes of Interest
Those few months of leave in 1885 picked Lord William up wonderfully, and he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the time after his nine years of India, a big slice out of the prime of a man’s life, but he had the satisfaction of feeling he had faced the music, so to speak, by beginning his life afresh, yet returning after nine years comfortably off, and holding a high position of great responsibility, thanks to nobody but himself. Viceroys came and went, but Lord William Beresford remained, year in and year out, becoming the cornerstone of the social fabric of India, and ruling its society with an iron hand, though very much gloved in velvet.
I remember comparing notes with him as to what we looked forward to most on returning to England after a spell abroad. He said he “yearned for Curraghmore and Piccadilly, and after that devilled sole and brown bread and butter!”
Most people will, I think, sympathise with Lord William in his longing for dear feverish London. She casts a spell over us all, and when we are exiles the remembrance of her brings on more fits of home-sickness than almost anything else, visions of Piccadilly come back to us as we remember her perhaps in the still early morning, when returning from balls and parties, the streets deserted by all save a few market carts filled with cabbages and other garden produce on the way to Covent Garden Market, a few lonesome souls sleeping on benches between the policeman’s “move on” visits; or perhaps the visions that come back to us are the evenings when the hurrying mass of people, the cabs and carriages were all shrouded in the blue-grey misty haze peculiar to London at night. We remember how we used to speculate on where they were all hurrying to, and fit histories to them, all so bent on tasting and testing life, often regardless of consequences. Each individual wearing that self-absorbed mind-your-own-business air, that is one of the fascinations of a great city.
Lord William said he felt “beside” himself with joy when he again beheld the buses and heard the newspaper boys, and then “The Eton Boating Song,” so wrought with memories, played on a street organ filled him with an ecstasy of joy and sadness. He heard again the splash of the oars, saw again the pals of those old days whose names were at one time on everybody’s lips, now only little black splashes of ink on white paper.
I wonder if any of my readers remember the fine old man who used to sit in the Row during the summer of 1885 fancying himself king; the way he used to swagger up as if all the world belonged to him, his servant walking immediately behind him watching for the imperious wave of his master’s hand, which, being interpreted, meant he wished to sit down. Two chairs were then hastily arranged, on one of which he sat down with a good deal of action, the other proudly supported his legs. This arrangement took up a good deal of room where people were walking up and down, but nobody interfered with this aristocratic-looking, well dressed and groomed old man, with his large flowing moustache and huge button-hole, consisting one day of a sunflower, another a peony, or something equally remarkable. The old gentleman used to talk a good deal to himself about the bad manners and ingratitude of his subjects who passed up and down without bowing to him. We often wondered who he was. One day Lord William found out from a policeman on duty in the park. An accident had upset the equilibrium of the old sportsman’s brain, but he was quite harmless and nobody objected to him, so he was allowed to remain. As our bad manners and ingratitude caused him so much uneasiness, Lord William suggested we should muster strong one day and march past in couples, bowing deeply. We felt a little nervous as to what might happen, but acquiesced, and we all marched past bowing and smiling, being amply repaid for our courage by the evident pleasure of the king, who took off his hat with a graceful flourish to us and presented the sunflower out of his button-hole to one of the girls of our party.
Memories of those days come tumbling over one another with such rapidity it is hard to know where to stop, the pleasure is so great in recalling them.
One evening I remember well, during that same leave (I think) of Lord William’s, he was dining with us, and after dinner somebody said would I play some dance music as they wanted to dance, so we adjourned to the dining-room and had it cleared at one end. After dancing awhile, the men began American cock-fighting. There were some fierce encounters and amusing scenes. I was still sitting by the old cottage piano which stood in a corner of the room, when one of the combatants, breathless from a contest with Lord Bill, came and leaned against the piano whilst drinking a whisky and soda. Somehow accidentally the greater part of the whisky and soda got upset down into the vitals of the piano, the top being open at the time.
Poor old piano, it is going still, but the shock to its nervous system was so great it every now and then has the sulks for a time, until coaxed by a tuner into fresh efforts.
At the party to which I am referring, I remember the men with us were Corney Grain, Gerry Portal, Jim Lowther, Lord Hay of Kinfauns, and my young brother, as well as Lord William. Those who knew the men will guess what the evening was like. I was afraid we should disturb the neighbourhood with our laughter over an impromptu that Corney Grain gave us at the partially intoxicated piano of his experiences at the houses of some of his patrons where he had been engaged to amuse the guests. No names were mentioned, but so excellent was his mimicry that we at once recognised a number of people. Having been cheered and heavily patted on the back he proceeded to give us a musical sketch of a certain V.C. hero on board ship making love to a shy young lady. Lord Bill was much tickled and so were we. It was screamingly funny, and with our eyes shut we could have imagined it was Lord William speaking, or perhaps I should say cooing.
This was followed by another sketch, this time Gerry Portal supposed to be bamboozling some foreign potentate into believing we, the British, were doing everything for his good, from pure unadulterated philanthropy, while really benefiting ourselves. This was considered too much, and brought the house down. They all set upon Mr. Grain, who, I had better explain for those who never saw him, was a huge man both in height and figure. He clung desperately on to the music-stool with his legs and the piano with his hands, until the piano, music-stool, and Mr. Grain began to move together first in one direction and then another. Lord William tried to get his arms round Mr. Grain’s rather voluminous waistcoat, and Mr. Gerry Portal tried to untwiddle his legs from the music-stool. Jim Lowther seized the tea-cosy from the sideboard and clapped it over the musician’s head. This led to one hand relinquishing its grip on the side of the piano to remove the head-dress, a weak moment on Mr. Grain’s part, for he got separated from the instrument and dragged half across the room when crack went the long-suffering music-stool, and he was on the floor. My brother held the door open while the rest tried to eject the man who dared to be ribald about Mr. Portal’s foreign policy, but each time when it was nearly accomplished out flew a huge and long leg slamming the door to again. At last, when all were hot and exhausted, Mr. Grain was laid unresisting on the front-door mat.
We received many apologies next day from our guests for being so uproarious, and Lord Bill wished to provide a new piano and music-stool, but of course we would not hear of it. I never mean to part with that piano, even when it gives up the ghost, for it has witnessed many cheery parties, and has been with me long voyages north, south, east and west.
In addition to all this froth and frolic Lord Bill had been doing some useful business in the way of buying race-horses for himself and his friends. He had also engaged the lightweight jockey named Dunn, who arrived in India about the same time as his lordship returned, ready for the October meeting at Umballa. While at home he had purchased and sent out two or three horses and a pony for Indian racing, amongst them, Metal, in hopes of carrying off some prizes at Calcutta. The horse came from the Duke of Westminster’s stable, but had disappointed his owner in the Goodwood Cup, Baron Hirsch’s horse just beating him. What a cheery meeting it was, the 9th Lancers being there under orders for home. They marched out of the station on the last day of the races, the whole of the white population turning out to give them a hearty send-off.
A great number of racing men collected there, combining their wish to see the 9th Lancers off for home and see some racing. All were in great form, and the fun was tremendous.
Lord William’s valuable Prospero won three races for his owner. Dynamite and Oliver Twist also won a race each.
A rising Armenian barrister in Calcutta was also present, having conceived a passion for racing and started a stable for the purpose.
In the club at Umballa on settling day a sporting match was arranged between this barrister named Mr. Gasper and Lord Bill, the suggestion coming from the former. The match was for 2000 rupees a side, P.P., each horse to carry not less than 8 stone 4 lbs., distance ¾ mile. Horses to be named by 1 o’clock the day before the race, which was to be run the last day of the first Calcutta meeting, horse to be nominated by Lord William Beresford must be his property or the property of H.H. the Maharajah of Durbangah.
Lord William hoped to win this on one of his new purchases named Metal, but when the day arrived the horse was ill with colic so Mr. Gasper’s Regulater walked over.
Great things were expected of Metal, and as the Maharajah of Durbangah was very anxious to win the Viceroy’s Cup Lord William sold the horse to him just before the race, and His Highness had the pleasure of seeing his colours carried first past the post.
Tim Whiffler, who had been bought at the same time as Metal, had so far not done anything worthy of record or the pay for his keep, and at Tollygunge, running for the Ballygunge Cup, he went head over heels at the first hurdle, rolling on his rider. This was an unlucky race for most of the riders, as every horse fell except the winner, Mr. Charles Moore’s Prospect. The second day Tim Whiffler won a race after another fall.
At the second Calcutta meeting in January, Metal won the Kooch Behar Cup after a good race with Sir Greville, belonging, I believe, to Major Prior.
Trouble had been brewing in Burmah for some time, and Lord Dufferin decided he would go and see for himself if things were working satisfactorily. The British resident had been withdrawn owing to King Thebaw (chiefly at the instigation of his unprincipled wife) having massacred all the men-kind of the Royal Family with a view to ensuring the stability of his throne. Commercial relations were however maintained, and whispers reached Lord Dufferin of some sort of treaty having been signed between the Burmese and the French, by which the valuable ruby mines with other perquisites which in parliamentary language would be termed accessories, had been leased to a French trading company.
All this pointed to trouble in the future, especially as King Thebaw was known to have expressed himself of the amiable intention of driving “the white devils into the sea,” also it would not be wise to allow British trades to be excluded. This was politely but forcibly pointed out to the King, who was evasive and unsatisfactory. The Secretary of State then gave instructions for an immediate advance on Mandalay. King Thebaw begged for time, but was told nothing but instant submission would be considered, under which circumstances he would be spared and treated properly. He was only allowed a few minutes in which to make up his mind, and it was thanks to this promptness and decided policy of ours that the campaign came to a satisfactory conclusion so quickly and with so little loss of life. But we were not quite out of the wood as China was asking pertinent questions about our future policy; but all was explained and approved in a short time, and a convention signed giving England a free hand in Burmah. In consequence of all this Lord Dufferin started on February 3rd, 1886, to see for himself what was happening. Burmah lying directly on the east of Bengal with a population of four millions, it was regarded as a frontier over which we should keep a jealous eye and some control. Besides, he was anxious that commercial relations should be established with Thibet. Lord William as Military Secretary was in attendance on His Excellency, receiving the medal and clasp, being mentioned in despatches, and promoted to Brevet Lieut.-Colonel. Speaking of the Burmese ladies he said they were most enlightened and independent people, choosing their own husbands and divorcing them also if they wished to do so.
The Viceroy was anxious to have our army considerably increased in India. In Lord Ripon’s time the native army had been reduced, but Lord Dufferin thought owing to changed circumstances a fresh arrangement should be made, and that we should be in a position to launch a strong force of both British and native troops on short notice against any neighbour whose conduct was suspicious and unsatisfactory. He also felt it would be better for the country itself, but all he could get from the Government was an extra 11,000 men. Both Lord Dufferin and the Commander-in-Chief were against the short service system for India, thinking both from the point of utility and economy longer service would be better.
The work of the India Office filtered more or less through the hands of the Military Secretary; he therefore was well posted in all these questions under consideration and discussion.
Especially was he interested in Lord Roberts’ scheme for doing away with the old army canteen, for it was he who inaugurated “The Institute,” where not only could the men get their beer, but food as well; they could sit down comfortably and write letters, play games and read the papers. Places of this sort had been a long-felt want, and they have been great successes and certainly conducive to less drunkenness.
During Lord Dufferin’s time several important steps were taken in the way of military reform, as he expressed himself plainly on the difficulties of military administration under dual control, for while the organisation and commissariat were worked by the superior Government at home, the discipline, training, equipment, and matters of that sort were ruled by the Commander-in-Chief.
Neither were the native troops forgotten, for now in commemoration of the Queen’s Jubilee they received medals for good conduct and any special services, also gratuities in much the same way as the English soldiers.
Lord William, and indeed most of the thinking community in India at this time were anxious as to the result of the higher education of the natives, who, though finding their feet, were not yet able to use them. He felt the education ought to benefit both them and us, but would it?
I have often doubted whether some, even of Lord William’s more intimate friends, fully recognised the more serious side of his character. The world is ever prone to think that brilliancy excludes wisdom, and gaiety is the enemy of common sense. As a matter of fact there was a world of deep feeling and strength of character underlying Lord William’s light-hearted manner.
At a big dinner party at Government House, Bombay, I remember hearing a number of people discussing Lord William, his career, racing successes, deeds of daring, etc., when someone asked the rather unexpected question, “What is his religion?” The then Commander-in-Chief replied, “I don’t believe he’s got one.” This was surprising coming from a man who was both officially and socially in almost daily association with him, proving what I have so often thought that the faces of those around us, even those of our nearest and dearest, may be photographed on our brains, while yet we know little of their minds and hearts; they are sealed books to us.
Lord William’s religious feeling was profound, though his views were not altogether orthodox, but there are some dogmatic doubts while leading us away from the altar bring us nearer to the Throne. Aristippus tells us “Good cheer is no hindrance to a good life.” His lordship agreed with this founder of Hedonistic philosophy, but I doubt if he had been asked to put down in black and white what his religious convictions were, whether he could have clearly defined them, any more than a great number of people could. It would be good for us all if we had to put our faiths and beliefs into writing, but what confused and contradictory statements they would make, and how annoyed we should be if anybody dared to say so to us. Faith and reason unfortunately will not walk kindly hand in hand, and Lord William felt that amid the latter-day clash of theories, new fields of thought were being opened to us, thoroughly recognising how some of the old moth-eaten shibboleths, we have so often repeated, have prevented us forming unbiased judgments. He maintained that ancient religions had no creeds but were fed and brought up, so to speak, on institutions and facts. Faith is not peculiar to Christianity, it is the ordinary characteristic of the highly developed religions. Lord Bill always said he felt it was possible to be a good Christian without being a theologian. I think “good Christian” exactly describes Lord Bill, yet how hard it is to define a good Christian when ideals among Christians differ so greatly in different countries and ages. St. Ethelreda was canonised for never washing; this was not Lord Bill’s Christianity, though I have known some people who certainly qualified, but as far as I know, have as yet, had no justice displayed towards them. Then again St. Onofries was called a saint because he disappeared into the desert seeing nobody and doing nothing (so he said), but this saint does not matter at the present moment; what does matter is the extreme difficulty we all find in locating the middle distance between two points, when the points do not stand still.
Lord William had his faults in common with the rest of us, but not many can comfort themselves with the belief that they have done as many kindly acts. He may not always have been aware of the amount of good he did, for kindly acts towards ourselves make us kindly to others, thereby forming a common good. That the happiness of everybody depends to a certain extent on the forbearance and help of others was part of Lord Bill’s religion. His charities, which were many, were not of the order that creates multitudes of sins, but covered them up, often, and helped those who had made grievous mistakes, to begin afresh.
The nice little church at Simla used to echo with the sound of Lord William’s clinking spurs as he walked up the aisle. One Sunday when he was carrying round the collection plate, he halted in front of a canny old colonel whose careful habits had made him decline to subscribe towards the Annandale Races, which had annoyed Lord Bill, so he held the plate, whispering audibly, “It’s Zenana this time, not Gymkhana!”
The scene outside this church on Sundays and high days was curious, as in the hills everybody rode to church, or came in hand-carried or drawn equipages. When all the rank and fashion had entered the building the syces with the many ponies congregated for a smoke and chatter. The men who ran with the rickshaws and jampans after their kind, followed suit, arranging their carriages in neat rows. The owners usually dressed their carriers and runners in some distinctive livery. One would have, say, claret-coloured coat, cut fairly long, hanging square over the draped loin cloths which are worn instead of trousers; only the head man indulged in this form of civilisation. This combination of coat and loin cloth finished off with possibly a yellow cumberbund twisted round their waists, and yellow puggeries round their heads. Others would have brown and blue, and so on, only the Viceregal party using scarlet, the many colours of the liveries and the grouping of the natives and their charges forming a picturesque foreground to the church, though very unusual to the mind of the everyday English church-going community.
There were several matters occupying Lord William’s mind at this time. The enlargement of the Annandale racecourse for one; this was a great undertaking and a considerable expense which will be readily understood, as big ravines had to be filled in and levelled as well as portions of hills removed. His lordship subscribed handsomely towards it himself, and some of the native princes, who were always ready to help him in his endeavours for the good or pleasure of the community, came to the fore also, subscribing liberally. While the alterations were being carried out the usual races and sports were taking place, tent-pegging, tilting at the ring, riding one pony while leading another over the jumps, rickshaw races, which proved highly exciting for the occupants, and mirth-provoking to the on-lookers.
The building of the new Viceregal Lodge or Government House also occupied a good deal of time, Lord Dufferin supervising and directing. I have often wondered what the natives must have thought when they had to build white-tiled kitchens and bath-rooms, and still more what they felt when called upon to use a correct up-to-date kitchen equipment.
I well remember when first I arrived in India being full of high-flown ideas of revolutionising the cooking and cook-house system. I was warned not to interfere, but to eat what was placed before me and leave well alone; however, I was full of ardour and proceeded to the cook-house to inspect the cooking-pots and arrange everything to my liking. My splendid theories were doomed to instant death. My experiences were such that for days I was without appetite and never again had the pluck to face the cook-house. That was long ago, no doubt now the natives have learnt to live up to and appreciate modern luxuries.
Last, but by no means least, came Lady Dufferin’s scheme for the benefit of Indian women. The Queen had asked Her Excellency just before leaving for India to see what could be done to provide proper medical aid and nursing for native women, who from their traditional faiths and customs were unable to avail themselves of the knowledge and help of men doctors. Lord William was very enthusiastic about the work which was interesting Lady Dufferin, who, with her usual thoroughness, soon placed it on firm feet. There was so much to be considered; first of all the question of finance, still more difficult the inherited traditional prejudices to be overcome in conjunction with the superstitions and ignorance of the people of India. For generations the appalling loss of life through ignorance in the East had been regarded with the hebetude of fatalism. Nevertheless in 1885 the work was begun under the mouth-filling title of “The Countess of Dufferin’s National Association for supplying female medical aid for the women of India.” It is well to take a good long breath before starting on this impressive title.
Considering that the undertaking entailed the collecting of the necessary funds, suitable places being found for the hospitals and dispensaries, women to be trained as doctors, midwives, and hospital assistants, and that each and all had to be under the superintendence of or in the working hands of women for the treatment of their own sex and children, it is really remarkable that it was so soon in more or less working order, and speaks volumes for Lady Dufferin’s energy and for the help of her co-workers.
I remember Lord William saying it would have a more far-reaching civilising influence in the country than any other measure hitherto contemplated. That these women doctors and nurses have been zealous and capable is proved by the work that has been done. In 1901, that is in six years, 1,755,734 patients passed through their hands, the increase between the years 1895 and 1900 being 88,000, the whole of this treatment having been carried out by forty fully qualified lady doctors called 1st grade, 322 surgeons, 2nd grade, meaning they had been taught in India and held that country’s qualifications, and 175 hospital assistants and helpers called 3rd grade.
The medical profession for man or woman is one that demands great sacrifice, and it is a calling that perhaps comes the least before the lime-light, for it does not advertise, seeks no rewards, no medals, clapping, or bands to cheer and encourage, yet many are daily performing heroic deeds, burning the candle at both ends in the cause of suffering humanity, and for what? Not applause, they get none, not reward, they get none from the world, but for love of their work, because they feel there is no higher calling. I do not think many people know how much this great work is indebted to Lord William’s collecting and his own personal assistance. Anything in the way of sickness and suffering appealed strongly to him. The Clewer Sisters in Calcutta also have little idea where some of the anonymous gifts came from that were I know from Lord William. Many treats enjoyed by children were the result of Lord William’s thought and financing, but he did not like people to know; he only wanted to make them happy and reaped a real happiness himself in witnessing their pleasure.
He was keenly interested in the leaps and bounds made in later years in the science and art of medicine. He could remember when it was the proper thing to bleed people for fainting fits and apoplexy, when it was quite usual to use the same family pocket knife to prune the roses and perform minor operations, before what they a little later called the faddists’ silly craze for sterilising instruments, came into vogue. “Such silly fuss and nonsense!” Though, if I remember right, it was only in George the II’s reign that a law was passed forbidding the company of barbers from practising the art and science of surgery, which sounds rather like Punch but is nevertheless a fact, and can be found by an anxious enquirer in Statute 18, Cap. XV.
SOME SPORTING MEMORIES
Lord William’s Driving—One of Two Experiences—A Sermon in the Smoking-room—Useful Shirt Cuffs—Convenient Handwriting—New Year’s Parade—A Waiting Race—A Spoilt Meeting—Purchase of Myall King—Dufferins Leave India—Rules Issued by Lord William for Their Departure
The Autumn Race Meeting at Meerut saw Prospero win the Merchants’ Purse, value 1,000 rupees, for Lord William, Ryder up; also the St. Leger, value 1,500 rupees, with Tim Whiffler. The same month (October) FitzWilliam won the Steward’s Purse at Lucknow, 2,110 rupees, the Pony Derby, 2,410 rupees, with Little Nell, all ridden by Dunn. I have heard the winner of the Pony Derby called “Little Hell,” partly from affection and partly because she gave others so little chance, I presume!
I have always been under the impression that there is more money to be made out of ponies and pony racing than in Viceroy’s cups. In India a man who is a good judge of horse-flesh and knows their points can often pick up ponies fairly cheaply in the serais, sort of village cattle-market, where dealers are to be found with horses and ponies for sale. Then if the purchaser has good hands and good temper, he may be able to train some into good polo ponies, and possibly win a race or two in a small way, after which good prices may be realised, though some of the ponies bought in the rough, have a tiresome way of growing after having reached the required height, skilful shoeing is then the best chance to make them register the proper standard. If after this they still persist in being too big they can be sold as ladies’ hacks, if a woman has ridden them once.
Many poor men have been able to enjoy their lives and have all they wanted in reason, thanks to their training and selling ponies they have bought with an eye to business. I am speaking of some years ago, possibly ponies and prices are different now.
The Simla season ends in October, and the gaiety and festivities are carried on at Calcutta on a more pronounced scale though with less of the family party feeling, owing to the larger community. The poor big-wigs do not have much peace in either place, it is so difficult to escape from people, who, though doubtless are many of them charming in themselves, the amount of bowing and scraping they entail is fatiguing.
One Commander-in-Chief I knew simplified matters by riding along looking straight ahead and seeing nobody, taking no more notice of the crowd of amiable people waiting to bow and smile than if they were so many little dogs wagging their tails. At first this gave offence, which did not greatly upset the good man’s calm, but before long it was recognised as a mercy and something to be thankful for.
Lord William’s coach was quite a feature in Calcutta Society, the turn-out was smart, the driver cheery, and a good whip, small wonder that most people liked to receive an invitation to accompany his lordship on some of his jaunts. I have sat beside some pretty whips one time and another in my life, far and away the most accomplished being Lord William Beresford; next to him a good second was the late Mr. Ben Cotton, for some time Master of the Isle of Wight Foxhounds.
One year after the races at Calcutta, where Lord William had been riding in several and had a bad fall, dislocating his shoulder, notwithstanding which he drove his coach laden with friends off the course, through the thronged streets, the horses very fresh and pulling hard; but beyond the fact that he was looking very white nobody would have known anything was the matter with him, and all reached their homes in safety.
Another day when returning from a picnic at the Botanical Gardens on the opposite side of the river to Calcutta his coach-load had a near shave of a nasty accident. Sir John Hext, who was on the staff of two Viceroys with Lord Bill, was one of the party at the time, and tells me they started away from the trysting-place rather late, when it was quite dark, and somehow managed to miss the road; the horses were longing to get away, and were scarcely under control. Having got off the road the next thing to do was to get on again as soon as possible, not an easy matter, but nobody spoke, and Lord William kept his head; by a piece of dexterous driving he tooled them safely under large low hanging branches of trees, round trunks of trees, and over all sorts of uncomfortable places before reaching their destination. All on board were holding their breath awaiting disaster at any moment, happily none occurred, thanks to good driving.
I really think Lord William thoroughly enjoyed hairbreadth escapes; he always seemed especially pleased after one that would have left most people limp, to say the least of it. His driving powers were certainly put to the test sometimes, and during exciting and critical moments his eyes seemed to become bigger, bluer, and fiercer.
Coming over the Howrah Bridge one day, the hook of the pole-piece came off and dropped the bars on to the leaders’ hocks. This not being part of the usual programme they objected to it, not quite knowing what was the proper thing to do under the circumstances, whether to kick the thing to pieces, jump over the bridge, or run away. Owing to their not being concerted in their action Lord William decided it for them, allowing them a little of each, but none for long; owing no doubt to these little concessions there was no accident, but when all reached home safely a few pointed remarks were made to the man who had been entrusted with the revarnishing of the coach, in return for his forgetfulness in not bolting the pole-piece on again properly.
Sir John Hext, now Rear-Admiral, was a great friend of Lord Bill’s (they were on Lord Dufferin’s and Lord Lansdowne’s staff together), he tells me an interesting story of his old friend; it happened at the end of one of the Calcutta race weeks. As usual Lord William had been hard at work all day. There was an extra large party staying in Government House, it had overflowed to such an extent that Lord William was obliged to put up tents in the grounds for some of the young soldiers and men who were of the party. After dinner the aides-de-camp’s room was full of men guests staying in the house. Lord William came in late about 11.30 and, not seeing Sir John and Capt. Harbord, fellow-staffites, curled up in arm-chairs at the far end of the room, he proceeded to preach what was virtually a most excellent sermon on the evils of gambling and racing, holding himself up as the frightful example. Sir John says, “If that sermon could have been taken down by a shorthand writer, and a few slight expurgations made, it was one that any Bishop might have been proud to preach. Being without exceptions the most practical sermon he ever heard in his life.”
LORD WILLIAM BERESFORD IN 1886
One of the most remarkable things about Lord William was his memory; he never forgot anything and was the soul of punctuality, which considering his multitudinous duties was praiseworthy. He was little short of a genius, for even when Government House was crammed full of guests to overflowing, all to be servanted and fed, each to be treated with the consideration demanded by their rank, endless dinners, parties, and receptions to be arranged with carefully considered etiquette and precedence, people to be met, taken away, amused; Rajahs’ and Nabobs’ interviews with His Excellency to be arranged, the stables to be attended to, with at least sixty horses for the use of the Government House party. This alone is no trifle. It was part of Lord William’s work to have horses suitable to all occasions. There must be tame and docile carriage-horses for Her Excellency, who may be nervous, but they must step up to their noses and look full of mischief, otherwise they would not be impressive and therefore valueless for their purpose; as it is important that all state ceremonials should be highly spectacular. Then the chargers for His Excellency must understand birthday parades and feux de joie for it would never do to have the Viceroy standing on his head in the middle of the Maidan, while his charger either joined the crowd of onlookers or returned to the stables. Lord William took endless pains to train the horses to their special duties, like the Balaclava heroes, guns were fired to the right of them, guns to the left of them, just by way of practice and to teach them to behave nicely and pretend they heard nothing, and if they did—well what matter. There must also be plenty of carriages and horses at the disposal of the guests. The mounts must be chosen to suit the prowess of the individuals. One may want to cut a dash in a paper-chase, another simply a gentle amble to eat the air, and so on. Once a Bath-chair was requisitioned, but Lord William never turned a hair. A Bath-chair was forthcoming at the time it was desired, where it came from was a mystery. Then there were the viceregal tours already mentioned to be arranged some time in advance. Picture what it means to write out programmes for 365 days in advance—not for one person—but for many.
After all his duties had been attended to most punctiliously there were his own horses and affairs requiring attention. Yet never was there as much as a cushion forgotten for Her Excellency. Beyond a tiny notebook and his shirt sleeves everything was carried in his head. I have seen some wonderful notes on the cuffs of his shirt. An English laundry-maid of an enquiring turn of mind might have compiled an amusing diary from them, though a little cryptic. Seeing some hieroglyphics on one of his cuffs one day at luncheon, I asked if I might be permitted to know what they meant; he shot out the cuff and showed it to me; it was not altogether easy to decipher, but with a little assistance I read:
“Viceroy’s bath.” “Sack Syce.” “19 Guns.” “Pacify Mrs. B.”
He explained he had made a note of these little items requiring attention. I asked if it was part of his duty to give the Viceroy a bath, but he said, “No, but the bath leaked and his note reminded him to replace it with a sound one.” “Sack Syce” meant there had been slackness in the stables and a certain syce would have to go. Nineteen guns sounded a big order and rather mysterious, but it had to do with a Native Prince who considered he had not received enough salutes or too many, I forget which, and his lordship wished to adjust the matter. Then came “Pacify Mrs. B.” I gathered a certain lady had been deeply pained at the way her name had been spelt on one of the invitation cards, a very important “e” had been left out, which made her name look quite commonplace, and she felt it had been done on purpose. Lord William was going to put the matter straight and the “e” in its right place.
It can easily be imagined the amount of correspondence Lord William had to attend to, it was enormous, happily he had a clerk who wrote so like him it was almost impossible to tell one from the other. The Military Secretary was much praised for being such a good sort, fancy so busy a man answering all the letters himself! That clerk was most convenient.
Lord William used to tell some amusing stories of the way people approached him with a view to using his influence with the Viceroy in their favour. Various methods were adopted by those who wanted his help, they mostly began by expressing great affection for his lordship, and profound admiration.
Being a kind-hearted man, Lord Bill did his best to further everybody’s wishes, and if they were in any way possible presented the matter to His Excellency for consideration.
Occasionally some Native Chief thought he ought to have some concessions, decorations or invitations, and asked Lord William to help him in the matter, once when this had occurred and the answer was longer coming than the Chief liked, he thought he would expedite matters by making a handsome present to his lordship and at the same time asking when his request was going to be granted. This, of course, settled the matter, as it was undoubtedly meant as a bribe and was reported at once to the Viceroy—needless to say the favour was not granted.
It seems rather hard that while we, the British people, give presents to the Chiefs, we are not allowed to receive any in return, that is to say none of any value; but no doubt it is wise.
New Year’s Day is a great holiday in India, the birthday, so to speak, of the Queen-Empress, January 1st being the anniversary of the Delhi Durbar when she was declared Empress of India. There are endless big parades all over India in honour of this occasion. At Calcutta there is always a most imposing military parade which everybody turns out to witness, putting on their best bibs and tuckers, as their share in its impressiveness.
It is a busy and anxious day for the Military Secretary, for in addition to all his other work he is wondering whether after all his training, the Viceroy’s charger will behave properly when the dreaded moment arrives for the firing of the feu-de-joie. The horses under his care may have been properly broken—the horses belonging to other people may not, and when the show begins if one horse begins playing the fool in all probability others will follow suit. There is a vast amount of ceremony attached to these parades. The Viceroy puts on all his war paint, throws out his chest, and rides down the lines of troops drawn up for his inspection, followed by his glittering staff, everybody feels it behoves them to polish buttons and do an extra brush up, even the Vice-reine’s coachman indulges in an extra shave and endures the middle button of his coat buttoned up, just until the ceremony is over.
Nobody takes the least notice of all these efforts to be extra smart; but perhaps it would be noticed if they did not, and nobody would perceive it more quickly than the Military Secretary.
After examining all the lines of troops drawn up for his inspection the Viceroy returns to the saluting point, and the Artillery let themselves go with ten rounds in the Imperial Salute followed with the much dreaded feu-de-joie, when so much dignity is often nolens volens cast to the wind. On one of these birthday parades I remember seeing the horse of a big official unship its rider and then after various gallopings caused much confusion by playing tunes with its heels on a big drum against which it seemed to bear some grudge, when he had finished with it, it drummed no more, at any rate for the time being; but to continue with the orthodox proceedings. After this fusillade follows the National Anthem with all the massed bands playing together, then the Artillery have another innings, until thirty-one guns have done their best.
In all probability the Viceroy knows little about troops, what they should look like, what they should do, or how many buttons make five on the men’s uniforms, but his Military Secretary will have primed him.
Everybody says it is a horrid bore, but they enjoy it all the same. I must not forget one of the most important features in the day’s show, namely, the final cheers for the Empress of India and the march past. The cheering proves as trying to the horses generally as the feu-de-joie.
We were trying to guess the number of people looking on, and asked Lord William what he considered would be somewhere near the figure, and he told us there were quite 100,000 on the Maidan, and it was not an unusual number on these occasions.
The year 1886 brought several annoyances and disappointments to the Military Secretary in connection with his racing. In the first place Metal failed to win him the Viceroy’s Cup, which he had counted on; Mr. Gasper, who has been already introduced to the reader, beating him with Mercury. Coveting this horse his lordship made an offer for him to Mr. Gasper, resulting in the grey Australian changing his stable and his owner for the sum of 10,000 rupees, which was considered cheap.
There was rather a tragic little episode at this meeting though it had nothing to do with Lord William. A smart little chestnut belonging to Mr. Abbott won The Trials in the shortest time on record and dropped dead immediately after passing the winning-post from rupture of the heart, poor little beast.
The first race Mercury ran for Lord William was for the Durbangah Cup, and he won; following it up with the Kooch Behar Cup, but in this race there was only one other horse against him, namely, Mr. Mullick’s Sir Greville. This was really a very funny race as evidently both jockeys had received orders to ride a waiting race, this they did with a vengeance, for when the flag fell neither of them hurried at all, but moved quietly along keeping boot to boot, both being determined to wait, this manœuvre continued, much to the amusement of the spectators until within half a mile from the winning-post, when both sat down to ride for all they were worth. Mercury won, but Mr. Mullick’s jockey pressed Dunn so closely into the rails that poor Mercury got rather badly cut.
Another Beresford-Durbangah horse won the Alipore Plate and Bolero the Jubilee Purse. At Tollygunge, though that good horse Prospero won the Handicap Chase, poor Tim Whiffler, who had such a habit of falling, this time turned head-over-heels when running for the Ballygunge Cup, breaking his thigh and having to be shot.
Bad luck seemed to be dogging Lord William’s footsteps at this time, for Mercury, who had been doing so well, and from whom great things were hoped, caught a chill, followed by fever, from which he died. Then again, after the annual move to Simla, and he was running Little Nell in the Bazaar Stakes, on the Annandale Course, though he won with her, there was a good deal of unpleasantness attached to the race, owing to Captain Wood, of the 8th Hussars, who was also riding a pony for a brother officer, and who came in second, lodging a complaint directly after the race, saying Dunn, Lord William’s jockey, had jostled him. This rather spoilt the pleasure of the meeting for everyone. The race had been witnessed by a number of people, friends of both parties in question; several thought they could explain it all, and proceeded to air their views, hoping by so doing to ease matters and straighten it out, instead of which, further complications ensued. This was followed a little later at Calcutta with fresh annoyance over the Arab named Euclid, belonging to the Confederacy. Lord William heard some people had been making remarks about the performances of this horse, which they seemed to consider unsatisfactory; he therefore at once asked the stewards of the Calcutta Turf Club to inquire into the matter and give their opinion; this they did, saying they found nothing leading to any such conclusion as had been suggested. So Lord William came out on top.
For years Lord William declared no Australian horse could touch the English, but Mercury caused him to change his mind, this horse’s performances having been almost phenomenal. In consequence of being bitten with the grey Australian, and not content with having between twenty and thirty horses already in training, he gave the well-known Australian dealer, Mr. Weekes, a commission to bring him one or two of the “real things” from Melbourne.
When the dealer returned from Australia, he brought with him two horses for Lord William, Myall King and Golden Gate. I do not remember hearing of the latter doing anything encouraging, and Myall King made a poor show to begin with, and his new master said a few things not altogether complimentary to the dealer in connection with his selection, but before long changed his mind, Myall King becoming his greatest favourite, winning three Viceroy’s Cups for him, the first on December 24th, 1887, value 7000 rupees. When Lord William was leading his horse in after the race, thoroughly pleased and happy, the excited and delighted Mr. Weekes, who had purchased the horse for his lordship and who had been brooding over the names he had been called when first he brought Myall King over, rushed up to Lord William holding out his hand for joy, saying, “Now do you still say I am a something something thief?”
“No,” replied Lord Bill, taking the proffered hand; “indeed you are all something something right.”
“Then you will come and stay with me in Melbourne, won’t you?”
“Of course I will,” said his lordship, only too anxious to move on.
Myall King also won the Durbangah Cup, £150, on the 30th of the same month.
In the summer of 1887 Lord William bought up the lease of the Dehra Doon course, over which he spent some time and trouble, getting it into good order; he kept it up entirely at his own expense until he left India. He removed all his horses there, also the Viceregal horses, being a good climate for them.
People in India were beginning to be rather frightened of Lord William’s string of horses, saying it was no use entering theirs against him, that they had no chance. I remember hearing a good deal of this at Lucknow, but it was not quite a fact, as his lordship found out to his cost occasionally. He certainly had a formidable string of horses, and he wanted to be on top, where to a certain extent he was, but in racing there is always the element of chance to be reckoned with, horses going wrong, jockeys making mistakes, and no end of other things to be taken into consideration. He sent his horses to all parts of India for race meetings, even to Poona.
The Spring Meeting at Lucknow of 1888 inaugurated one of his lordship’s most successful racing years in India. I always feel sorry he was not able to carry out all his racing single-handed, but he did it on such a big scale it became more than one pocket could stand, hence the partnership. The Lucknow races in February brought in 7625 rupees in stakes alone—
Empress winning the All Ponies Handicap Dunn riding
Myall King ” Stewards’ Purse Dunn ”
Lavercost ” Derby Tingey ”
Little Nell ” Mahamet Bagh Plate Elliott ”
In March at Meerut followed more wins, Little Nell, Solheil, Bob, Treasure, and Lavercost roping in 3015 rupees in stakes between them.
The Dufferins’ term of office was up in 1888. They had the pleasure of seeing the new Viceregal Lodge finished before their departure, and enjoyed its roomy comfort after the very circumscribed Peterhoff. Against that they had the discomfort of the move from one house to the other, with one half of their possessions in one house and the other half in the other, when, as usually happens on such occasions, whatever is wanted is sure to be where they are not.
Lord Dufferin had done a good deal of useful work in India, undertaking various reforms and costly measures that his predecessors had seen the advisability of, but postponed, fearing the expense; he consequently left the country (I am told) with a decided financial deficit, to be dealt with by someone else.
On his retirement he was created Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, the latter taken from the city of that name a few miles from Mandalay. Of course there was the usual speculation as to whether Lord William would stay on as Military Secretary. India without Lord William seemed at that time an impossible thing to contemplate.
It might be imagined after so many years of India, combined with the exceptionally strenuous life he led, that his spirits and ceaseless stream of humour and fun might have begun to fail him, yet this was far from the case, he still led the van in fun and frolic.
As the time drew near for the departure of the Dufferins, he issued the proper and usual orders for all concerned, leaving nothing unthought of for everyone’s comfort. Then, wag as he was, he issued the following order, and had it delivered in print to the A.D.C. in attendance on the departing Viceregal party.
Rules to be observed by the A.D.C. in attendance on their Excellencies the Viceroy and the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava after their departure from Calcutta and until their arrival at Aden.
1. The A.D.C. in waiting will have the kindness to report himself every morning in the undress uniform of His Excellency’s staff, and will appear in the same at every station at which any officials meet His Excellency.
2. At early Tea, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner he will wear a sword.
3. During their Excellencies’ stay at Bombay the A.D.C. in waiting will always appear in uniform.
4. On board the Kaiser-i-Hind the A.D.C. in waiting will visit the decks at 4 a.m. and will see that the cleaning operations are performed quietly.
5. He will be so good as not to wear boots before 7 a.m.
6. He will be so obliging as to appear in uniform at breakfast and to wear it until sunset.
7. The A.D.C. in waiting will take His Excellency’s orders after breakfast, and in the event of his services not being required by the outgoing Viceroy, he will be so kind as to see if Her Excellency wishes to be supported on deck, or if the young ladies need assistance.
8. The A.D.C. in waiting will be so good as personally to submit to the Captain any wishes the ladies’ maids may express, and to endeavour to have them carried out.
9. The A.D.C. in waiting will please see that the chairs, cushions, rugs, and books of His Excellency and of the ladies are arranged on the deck by 10 a.m.
10. At 12 o’clock he will kindly see that they all have Beef Tea.
11. He will be expected to render assistance to the Captain in every emergency, and to be the master of all the ceremonies during fine weather.
12. As His Excellency’s policeman does not accompany him to Aden, the A.D.C. in waiting must endeavour to learn a few Persian stories for the occasion, which he will repeat to His Excellency for one hour daily while pacing up and down the deck.
13. He will also, while listening to the Persian stories which His Excellency will relate to him, say “Hau” at intervals of one second during the whole time the narrative continues. He will also be kind enough to wear an expression of profound attention.
14. In rough weather the A.D.C. in waiting will be permitted to put on a waterproof coat over his uniform and to use his chin strap.
15. His services can on no occasion be dispensed with during the first five days of the voyage; he will therefore be expected to keep in good health, and can on no pretext be allowed to call for the services of the steward.
16. At Aden the A.D.C. in waiting will be relieved from duty.
(Signed) William Beresford, Lieut.-Col.,
Military Secretary to the Viceroy.
Simla, November 6th, 1888.
The A.D.C. in question, of course, knew Lord Bill’s little ways, how much was earnest and how much fun, and appreciated the thoughtful concession of allowing a chin strap and waterproof to be used during rough weather, for more reasons than one.
It was shortly before the Dufferins left India that Lord William and five other members of the Viceroy’s staff in one of their lighter moments when dressed in their racing kit, jumped into a merry-go-round for a ride and were snapshotted. Lord William is on the extreme right sitting sideways; next to him in front is Capt. Roddy Owen; standing up in the striped jacket is Capt. Burn, generally known as “Handsome Charlie”; then comes Capt. Harbord (now Lord Suffield) riding a finish; behind him Capt. Leonard Gordon and Capt. H. Legge. A light-hearted little party, overflowing with good humour and health, much of which was the result of the amount of exercise they were in the habit of taking. Sportsmen and those of an energetic tendency keep their health much longer when in India than their brethren who resign themselves to the climate with books, eating, drinking, and sleep, the latter being the natural consequence of the former.
THE VICEROY’S STAFF IN LIGHTER MOMENTS
Feeling a little holiday would be beneficial Lord William went home in April on three months’ leave, his string of forty odd horses remaining at Dehra Doon in the pleasant cool shade of its many fine trees, but before leaving he attended the March Umballa Meeting, when his Treasure won two races, the Service Stakes 900 rupees, Capt. Macdougall riding, and the open Pony Race 850 rupees, Dunn riding; Eunice the Paget Park Plate 300 rupees, Melbourne Plate with Myall King 200 rupees, Dunn riding.
A WINNING YEAR
On Leave—At the Derby Once More—Lord Lansdowne Takes Office—Conjurer’s Discomfort—A Gentle Reproach—Irishmen in India—Another Racing Partnership—A Turf Club Inquiry—Paperchasers—A Telegram from Lucknow—Lord William’s Health—Jockey in Trouble Again
Three months is not a long leave to spend at home, it seems to be all coming and going; it really was not long enough to pick Lord William up properly—he was badly in need of English air and fare.
A good part of this brief holiday was spent racing and attending to racing matters. He bought a horse called Pennant, winning a race with him at Croydon value £200. Oberon was another he purchased, but turned out rather unreliable. Clarion was also added to his string.
Being at home in time to see the Derby run, he was enthusiastically greeted by all his old friends, and had a great time. I rather think it was at this Derby or Ascot that Sir Claude De Crespigny coming up behind what he recognised as a Beresford back, said “Good morning, Marcus,” and then, seeing he had made a mistake and it was Lord William, asked whom he should apologise to? Without an instant’s hesitation came the reply, “Marcus, of course, you’ve taken the elder brother for the younger.”
All the Beresford brothers were smart at repartee; indeed I think they would be hard to beat. Someone asked Lord Charles which of his brothers he considered the quickest at repartee. To which he replied: “Marcus. It was only this morning when walking down Regent Street, ahead of us was a doddering old Irish peer, one of the Backwoodsmen who came over once a year to vote against Home Rule, I said, ‘Marcus, if you were a despotic monarch would you keep that Irish nobleman in your House of Lords?’ ‘Yes,’ said Marcus, ‘I think I should, but I should fire him first on the Coronet.’”
The smartness of this may be lost upon people who are not horsy and therefore do not know that the part of a horse’s anatomy between the fetlock and the hoof is termed the coronet.
The Marquess of Lansdowne succeeded Lord Dufferin as Governor-General of India, holding the office from 1888 to 1893. No events of great importance occurred during his administration; there were some small frontier expeditions, but we did not hear much about them.
Photo. Elliott & Fry
THE MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE
In 1893, at the end of Lord Lansdowne’s reign, Sir Mortimer Durand, then Foreign Secretary to the Indian Government, was sent on a mission to Kabul with a view to defining the limits of influence of the British Government and the Amir, with respect to the independent tribes in the wide belt of country between Afghanistan and British India. However, we are not yet dealing with 1893 but 1888, when Lord Lansdowne had only just taken office. He was fond of horses and racing, therefore watched his Military Secretary’s horses work with sympathetic interest.
From 1888 to 1894 were Lord William’s best racing years in the East, and all his spare time was devoted to it.
At the November Lucknow meeting his racing partner, His Highness of Durbangah, won the Stewards’ Purse with FitzWilliam, Dunn up, Daphne the Dilkoosha Stakes, Soheil, an Arab, the Pony Handicap. On the third day, a pony named Brandy the Paddock Stakes for maiden ponies, besides various others which I forget.
At the Calcutta chief meeting FitzWilliam won the Trials by way of a good beginning. Eunice, who had at one time and another won a good many races for Lord William, now won the Karnaul Stakes. Metal was backed for a small fortune for the Viceroy’s Cup, when one of those unexpected things happened which must always be reckoned with in racing; he was beaten by his stable companion making the pace too hot for him, and Myall King again romped in a winner. They also won races with Pekoe and Shamhad, while a grey English mare named Venus, whom nobody expected to do anything, won the Eclipse Stakes for them. Lord Clyde and Clarion won a couple of races at the Extra Meeting, making a tremendous winning year, but not a profitable one taking it all round.
It was at this juncture that beautiful Arab pony Blitz came upon the scenes; the charming picture of him was given to me by Admiral Sir John Hext, who agreed with Lord Bill “he was one of the best that ever looked through a bridle.” Lord William sold Metal about this time for £500 to someone in Australia.
During the Simla season he rode a good many races himself on Hardware, Nancy and Shamshad. He also won a match on Hakim against Mr. Laureston’s Prince Charlie, 2000 rupees a side.
In July news reached Lord Bill of the death from heart disease of Mr. Fitch, who for some years had looked after and conducted the Calcutta lotteries, also acted as secretary to the Dehra Races. The poor man died in England while home for a holiday. Lord William felt much regret, for he had been closely associated with him, naturally, over racing matters.
Mr. Fitch was another of the many men his lordship had befriended; in fact had been set on his feet and owed all his success in life to him.
The season was jogging along much in the usual fashion, plunging from the sublime to the ridiculous and the ridiculous to the sublime all the time. In India we all become dual natured, whether it is the climate, the atmosphere we live in, or the desire to leave no time to think I do not know; but we may in the morning be told, someone with whom we have been in daily touch is dead—we say how sad, open our letters, and make all our arrangements for the day’s amusements, which we fulfil, leaving just time to pay a last tribute to one whose hand we have so often held, whose voice and laughter is still sounding in our ears; we then hurry home from the cemetery and go out to dinner, or to the theatre, and home to bed late, hoping to be so tired that sleep will claim us immediately. It is not that we are callous really, far from it; the sad news in the morning has left a lonesome feeling in our hearts, an aching for the poor body who such a short time ago was full of all he or she were going to do when they went “home,” it makes home seem very far away and the present so full of prickling possibilities, and we feel we must laugh or cry, and our English objection to wearing our hearts on our sleeves makes us appear gay, and thus we are pitch-forked from the sublime to the ridiculous and vice versa, still if we never reached the sublime we should miss the picturesqueness.
I once asked Lord Bill when we were speaking of this very matter, that is to say, the amount of feeling we contrived to hide in our everyday life, when he told me of several strange things that had happened in his life of which he had had strong pre-sentiments; one was in connection with racing, and the others purely private matters; this led me to ask him if he was superstitious; he replied, “I like to think I am not, but I am always very careful not to wound people’s susceptibilities on that point, having some of that feeling which is supposed to make us wondrous kind.”
Superstition is a thing I suppose that can hardly be described or accounted for, as some of the happenings in our lives refuse to be explained by any hitherto understood methods or any rules or lines of our acquaintance; and also there are times when we are not ourselves, oh strange and bitter paradox!
Lord William’s way of keeping people in order was very much to the point generally, and yet he did it very charmingly. An A.D.C. once had been hauled over the coals by him, and at the end of it said, “What a good fellow Lord Bill is, how thoroughly he rubbed me down, and yet how like a gentleman.”
Another rather amusing instance was when the Rajah of Nabha was giving a party or entertainment to Lord Lansdowne. A conjurer had been engaged to amuse those present; he was a rather persistent personage, at that time wandering round India seeking a living, and performing at native courts.
Lord William, who of course had the arranging of all this sort of functions, told this professor his entertainment must not last more than twenty minutes; this he strongly objected to, declaring it would entirely spoil his show, did not give him a chance, and so on, he would require at least an hour. While expressing his sorrow at causing so much annoyance and disappointment, Lord Bill stuck to his point and said not more than twenty minutes could possibly be allowed; he evidently saw defiance in the man’s attitude, and made his arrangements accordingly.
The performance began, Lord William looking on, watch in hand. At the end of a quarter of an hour the British magician was warned he had only five minutes more. He took no notice, and continued his lofty way. At the end of twenty minutes he was told to stop. Still he took no notice, continuing his tricks and patter, when at a sign from Lord William a native conjurer, who had been watching huddled up in a corner, bounded into the middle of the floor with a tom-tom and commenced a most deafening and unearthly noise. A tom-tom, it should be explained, is a rattling sort of thing rather like a drum gone wrong. The native had been waiting for the sign of command, watching the conjurer much as a terrier watches a rat, waiting to be told to “Go.” This indignity was too much for the white performer, he collapsed, and the native then proceeded to make mango trees grow in a few seconds out of stones and from under flower-pots, etc. Those present were much tickled at the whole proceeding.
One more of Lord William’s gentle reproaches. This time it was addressed to a youth fresh out from home, where he had been much spoilt; he was complaining about the disrespectful way the regiment he had just joined treated him, he was not accustomed to be treated in such a manner. The poor lad was learning that painful but wholesome lesson, his value in public opinion, and he did not like it. Thinking he had a sympathetic listener in Lord William, and not knowing him as well as some of us did, the twinkle in his eye did not act as a warning, and at last the lad worked himself up to such a pitch of feeling over his wrongs that he said he should write to his mother and tell her he should return home at once. No words had come from Lord Bill, who appeared to be full of interest and sympathy, but when he was told that the unhappy youth meant to return to his mother, he said sweetly and quietly, “But, my dear chap! think what a disappointment it would be to her!” Even then the young lad did not at first grasp what was meant, but when Lord Bill added, “After fixing you up with new shirts and pocket handkerchiefs, to have you back on her hands so soon.”
Lord William, seeing the boy was nearly tearful, walked off with him, arm-in-arm, talked it all over quietly, gave some good advice, and, I understand, left the poor boy happier and probably much wiser.
What a number of Irishmen have ruled in India and been famous there. Lord Mayo, born in Dublin, who in 1868 succeeded Lord Lawrence. I should think he was the only Governor-General who had farmed for his livelihood, and be it noted made enough to live upon. When he came of age he was Mr. Bourke. His father, whose eldest brother was then living, could not afford him any sort of allowance, but rented one of his farms to him to try and make what he could out of it, and I have been given to understand he did make it pay, which is more than many gentlemen farmers do, methinks!
Lord Mayo is reported to have said, “And many a long day have I stood in the market selling my beasts.”
Then there was Lord Connemara, Governor of Madras, responsible for the well-being and happiness of thirty million souls; Lord Lansdowne, a Kerry nobleman; Lord Roberts, a Waterford hero of Kandahar fame; Lord William Beresford, V.C., the unequalled Military Secretary and patron of the turf; Sir George White, V.C., who brought Burmah into order; Sir David Barbour, a perfect juggler in figures, who brought the much feared and dreaded financial deficit of the country to a considerable surplus, and many more if there were time and space to recount them.
The Annandale Racecourse was now enlarged and levelled. It had cost large sums of money, but was satisfactory, and the races now began to draw horses from Umballa and Meerut. The lotteries on the first day’s racing after the new course was “declared open,” as they say at bazaars, amounted to 20,000 rupees, so Lord William hoped it would not be long before the debt on the ground was paid off. A little lady, who was one of Lord William’s most devoted admirers (aged six), was crying one day at Simla when he happened to look in on the way down to one of the gymkhanas, and when he asked her what was the matter and took her on his knee, she threw her arms round his neck weeping salt tears down his collar, saying, “Mover won’t let me go and see you run in your pyjamas.” This required a little explanation. He gathered she had heard her mother and friends talking about some race they hoped he would win at the coming gymkhana. Not having been very long in the country she had got a little mixed between gymkhana and pyjamas. Lord Bill pleaded so hard for his little friend to be allowed to go to the meeting, consent was at last given, and he said he could see in the child’s eyes how disappointed she was that he did not appear in pyjamas after all.
In October the usual exodus took place, and Lord Bill found time to see some of his horses win races at the November 1889 Lucknow meeting. Blitz, beautiful Blitz, won the Dilkoosha Stakes; Nellie the Little Go Chase, FitzWilliam the Bar Cup, Betsy the Standard Plate. At Dehra, Meerut and Umballa he won four races. He rode in the Meerut Charger Race himself, winning on Jim. At Pindi he rode one of the races, winning on Landshart II; the other two were won by Daphne and Ensign. Four races in one day to the credit of his stable.
A little later, at the Calcutta 1889-90 races his Euclid seemed to be losing form, but Pennant was going strong and won the Trials; Chester also won the Pony Cup.
Lord William’s racing partner, His Highness the Maharajah of Durbangah, was most anxious to be a winner of the Viceroy’s Cup, and Pennant being in Lord William’s opinion the likely winner, with his characteristic kindliness sold the horse to His Highness just before the race, so that the Durbangah colours might be carried. The horse won easily, greatly to his new owner’s pleasure.
That wonderful pony, Lord Clyde, won the International Pony Race.
Speaking at the Turf Club dinner Lord William confessed he thought a big stable a mistake. In spite of having gained this experience, which led people to imagine he intended to reduce his stable, he added to it, and for the first time sent some of his horses to Madras to see what he could do there. At the Autumn Meerut Meeting he had no luck this year with his horses, chiefly owing, no doubt, to their usual jockey, Dunn, who knew their temperaments and little ways, being away at the time ill, which was hard on the horses and hard on their owner.
PILOTEER WINNING A TROTTING PRIZE
The big Calcutta meeting on December 26th, 1889, saw the beginning of the Presto row, which most racing people will remember. The horse was entered for the Walter Locke Cup, and was expected to win, Dunn riding, but was not even placed! It was suggested that it was the result of getting off badly at the start, the horse swerving round, losing several lengths. This caused some comment and much disappointment, which reached boiling point two days later, when on the 28th Presto again ran with Dunn up for the Kooch Behar Cup, 1¼ miles, winning easily, there never being a moment’s doubt from start to finish that the race was his, even leaving Moorhouse, a very fast horse, and several others hopelessly behind.
The public were now thoroughly upset, though on the face of the thing it seemed natural that if the horse lost so many lengths at the start in the race on the 26th, it would quite account for relative positions at the end of the two races. There were, however, those who considered Dunn’s riding was at fault, therefore the Stewards of the Turf Club held an enquiry into it. Mr. Gasper, the clever lawyer who has already been introduced, and from whom Lord William bought Mercury, appeared to uphold the complaint. Whether Dunn was in any way to blame for this different running of Presto I am not able to state, but be that as it may, he stood very little chance in any case with Mr. Gasper up against him, he being the most brilliant criminal lawyer Calcutta had ever seen, and he at any rate believed Dunn to blame, and waxed eloquent in consequence.
After a long and tedious investigation, over which there had been some feeling, the Stewards fully exonerated Lord William, and while not stating Dunn pulled, they were of the opinion he deserved censure for bad riding, which had certainly justified the enquiry.
The whole affair was much to be regretted, and makes one wonder how a man can be found who cares to have his honour resting in the hands of paid servants like jockeys, trainers, and so forth, when any day what a man prizes more than anything else in the world may be thrown to the winds, through absolutely no fault of his own.
The course at Calcutta had been expanded, and the buildings improved, greatly owing to the efforts of the sporting and popular merchant Mr. Charles Moore, who took great interest in racing and the bettering of all its conditions.
Following the Calcutta meeting came Tollygunge, where the stable finished the season well, Blitz winning the Belvedere Stakes in January 18th, 1893, Gold Leaf the Sensation Handicap, Traveller the Long Distance Handicap, FitzWilliam the Spring Purse, and Nellie the Pony Chase.
I had almost forgotten the cold weather paper-chases, having so much of interest to recount in the way of racing. Lord Bill was very fond of riding after paper, and the Calcutta Paperchases were no child’s play. He ran second in the Cup in the cold weather of 1880-81, riding Oliver Twist, third on Mariner 1881-82, first on Premier in 1882-83, first on Diamond in 1887-88.
Captain Muir, commanding the Body Guard, who has already been mentioned as having been left in charge of Lord Bill’s affairs when he started for Zululand, won the Calcutta Paperchase Cup three years running on his Warwickshire Lad, I believe, in the cold weather of 1877-78—1878-79—1879-80. The only person that I know of with such a record.
I ought perhaps to explain that the Viceroy and each Governor has a Body Guard for escorts, guards, sentries, etc., much the same as the Household Cavalry in England with the King.
The Viceroy’s Body Guard was very impressive with its scarlet uniform and lances.
What a gift it is to be able to speak well. Lord Bill was a happy speaker, always to the point, and always amusing, and how people do like to be amused. We have only to look at the money made by humorists like Mr. George Robey, who earns £200 a week to make people laugh, and is worth it, or he would not receive that handsome money; Little Tich with his £250 a week, or Cissy Loftus, the mimic, who received £250 a week for her services.
Compare with this the pay of some of our Indian officials, toiling in the heat, often separated from all that makes life lovely. Truly it is better to be funny than great, but then after all it is great to be funny. Lord William thought every boy ought to be taught to speak, and considered debating societies excellent practice for them, which no doubt they are, teaching them not only to think, but to express themselves intelligibly and to frame their sentences.
As Lord William expressed it, “Everybody has not got the gift of the gab,” but most can acquire it, and no doubt this is true to a great extent; some great speakers have been miserable failures to begin with, though overflowing with things they wanted to say. Disraeli was an example. His first speech in the House of Commons was an utter failure, possibly partially from nervousness, also want of practice; eventually his phraseology was both forceful and picturesque.
While Huxley, giving his first lecture at the Royal Institute, I am told, was quite painful, so much so, that he received a letter imploring him never to speak again, which was not encouraging.
Some can speak and cannot write, others can write and cannot speak. This has been brought home to me lately while turning over old letters and documents searching for those relating to the subject of these memories.
I have come across forgotten letters that I have received at different times from India, Afghanistan, Zululand, Burmah, South Africa, East Africa, Russia, France, Egypt, in fact from most of the places where there have been stirring times during my life.
Many of the letters written by the chief actors, others from those who at the time of writing were taught “not to think, but to do as they were told—thinking was for their superiors!”
It has interested me placing them side by side and studying the different views held by the writers of the various situations they were dealing with, not all the facts being by any means in accordance with the accounts that have been handed down for our digestion. Some of these writers could have thrown very vivid light on various situations, but they have carried their griefs and in some cases their injustices with them to their lonely, uncared-for graves.
Amongst these letters are a few written in bald John Bull, plum-puddingy jerky sentences, like roughly sketched in pictures to be filled in later; possibly they found speaking easier than writing. Then there are the letters dealing with the same situations, so eloquent, so full of human sympathy and yet so dramatic that it is almost like living through the experiences oneself.
I suppose mistakes are not sins when people have honestly done their best, but then the best is sometimes painfully foolish, and it is poor consolation to those who have suffered in consequence of it, that it was all a mistake!
We must now hark back to Lord William’s racing. He was hoping to win the Civil Service Cup at Lucknow, the best pony race in India. He and all the staff who could possibly get away from Calcutta went to see it run. Two of Lord William’s ponies were entered for it, namely, the famous Arab Blitz and an English pony named Bustle. The former was a strong favourite, and Lord William thought it a certain win.
Before leaving Calcutta he promised Lady Lansdowne to telegraph to her the result of the race. At dinner that night Sir John Hext asked Lady Lansdowne if she had heard from Lord William as was arranged. She replied “No; I am rather disappointed.” Dinner had not proceeded very far when the expected telegram arrived. After reading it Her Excellency burst out laughing, and handed it to Sir John, who read, “Bustle in front this time.” So the English pony had won the Cup.
Myall King won the Horse Handicap, there being nothing there that could touch him.
Lord William’s health was again troubling him. He had in fact had enough of India and its climate, though he would not allow it. He was advised to go home on leave for a while, which he agreed to do, but did not take long enough to benefit him materially, that curse of India, dysentery, claiming him at intervals.
Before leaving for home he sold Euclid (whom he considered no longer of much racing value) to Count Poloki for £700.
While Lord Bill was at home Weekes, who it will be remembered bought Myall King for him, bought another horse in July for the Durbangah-Beresford stable for 800 guineas. Various items of news reached Lord Bill while at home which were worrying. One being that anthrax had broken out at Dehra in the stables. Those who have had any experience of that disease will be able to picture his feelings on receiving this news, it being quite on the cards that every horse might be dead in a few hours. Poor Shamshad was the first of the victims. Fortunately stringent measures were taken by Willson, Lord William’s trainer, before many had succumbed.
Then followed the unpleasant news that Dunn was in trouble again, for the confederacy stable was active, though Lord Bill was away. This time it appears Dunn’s riding was so peculiar from the moment he left the paddock that the Stewards felt it imperative to institute another enquiry, regarding the running of Cumberland, and they came to the conclusion he had not ridden the horse to win, in consequence of which he was suspended for twelve months, rather taking his breath away, riding being his means of livelihood. This punishment was later added to by disqualification for life, for which no one could feel sorry, if he was unable to serve faithfully such a good master he did not deserve any mercy.
I believe in 1892, thinking Dunn had suffered enough, his sentence was remitted.
Lord William now engaged the services of that first-rate jockey Vinall, and he was out in India by October, when his lordship returned, looking much better for his visit to the German Spas, where he had amongst other things been drinking the waters.
In December racing people’s breath was taken away by finding Lord Bill had bought and landed in the country a couple of South American horses, which under the then existing rules were rated as country-breds and carried weight with that class. Vixen and Westminster were the names of these surprise packets.
At the Calcutta second meeting Escapade, Labby and Goldleaf won races. Pamela also won her first prize, the Walter Locke Cup, while good old Myall King romped away with the Viceroy’s Cup for the third time, value 5850 rupees.
The brilliant lawyer, Mr. Gasper, died in December of this year on the way to England for a holiday; if I remember rightly he died of heart failure. Lord William at once wrote a kindly, sympathetic letter to his wife, which, considering he cannot have felt very warmly towards her husband after the bitter tone he took up against his jockey and horses, was good of him, and I hope the lady appreciated the spirit that prompted him to do this gentle act. Gentle courtly manners are the fruit of noble natures and loyal minds.
January 1st, 1891, saw Lord William gazetted a full-blown colonel and K.C.I.E.
THE FAMOUS FAREWELL DINNER
Why the Maharajah of Durbangah Gave up Racing—The Maharajah of Patiala Joins the Stable—The Indian Lotteries—Some Successful Racing—Lord Bill Pays Up—Simla Feeling Sad—Death of Myall King—Some of His Chief Races—Farewell Dinner—List of Guests—Speeches
Early in 1891 the Maharajah of Durbangah told his partner he meant to give up racing. Mr. Abbott, who was in the know of all things racing, attributes this decision to worry and anxiety caused by certain Government schemes afloat which he feared would entirely disturb the peace of his territory. Perhaps I cannot do better than quote Mr. Abbott’s own words referring to the reason for His Highness’s retirement.
“This popular prince was worried out of his life by the spectre which haunted his nightly dreams of the utterly uncalled for, ill-judged and stupid scheme of the Cadastral Survey, hatched by two Irish civilians, true to their breeding in that they were rabid haters of landlords. If ever the heart of that generous, loyal and rattling good all-round prince be post-mortemed, Cadastral Survey will be found indelibly printed thereon. How could a man go on racing when he knew that his whole principality, at that moment resting in perfect peace and contentment, was to have its Arcadian simplicity disturbed by numerically untold bands of harpies in Government uniform, sweeping through its length and breadth, looting alike Zemindar and Ryot, taking bribes with a magnificent impartiality from both—and to do what? Draw dauby maps, incomplete and incorrect to start with, absolutely useless in less than five years. A precious lot of use this thrice-cursed and most scandalous survey will prove. Small wonder Durbangah stopped racing, and that the once contented prince is in a state of unrest and discontent.” Mr. Abbott maintains, “This and this alone was the secret of Durbangah’s retiring from the turf.”
Whether this survey proved disastrous or a benefit I am not able to say, but I think we may take it that the description of Mr. Abbott’s which I have quoted faithfully represents the state of the Maharajah’s mind and feelings at the time. Great was the excitement in India when the news became public property, and many both wise and foolish were the speculations indulged in as to the reason. Lord William was naturally very sorry, having had nothing but the pleasantest relations with his partner from first to last. There had always been entire agreement between them. In addition to his regret at losing his racing partner Lord William was very grieved that “such a good fellow and such a loyal prince” should be unhappy and unsettled.
There happened to be another native nobleman at the time anxious and longing to make a name for himself on the turf, namely, the young and enormously rich young Maharajah of Patiala, straight from the leading strings of a strict Scotch tutor. Being at the Calcutta meeting for the first time in the early part of ’91, and knowing that the Beresford-Durbangah arrangement was at an end, he approached Lord William with a view to being taught the ropes and joining company. He was already a good horseman and loved the sport. His lordship agreed, and so for the future it was to be that very powerful stable the Patiala-Beresford, the strongest in India.
So there was no halting in any of the programmes, everything went on just as usual. At the Second Extra Calcutta Meeting in ’91 Lord William won two races with Lord Clyde and one with Wild Oats, as wild as his name. At the Lucknow Meeting Myall King won the Stewards’ Purse, value 1500 rupees. Here again there was an unpleasantness, one of those heated arguments that spoil the pleasure of a meeting for everybody. This time the row began when Mr. Apcar’s Sylvia won the Civil Service Cup, and Lord William, on behalf of the owner of the second pony named Frisky, made objection to her not having paid the full penalties. After certain explanations Lord William withdrew his objection, but Frisky’s owner carried on the war, and the unfortunate Stewards of the Turf Club (Calcutta) had to sift the matter and adjudicate. Counsel exhausted themselves with their eloquence over the case, but again it came to naught.
H. H. THE MAHARAJAH OF PATIALA
It was, I believe, in December, 1891, Myall King was beaten for the Viceroy’s Cup by that speedy horse Moorhouse, but Sunshine won the Karnaul Stakes, Edith the Zeerut Stakes, Teviot the Eastern Stakes, plucky little Blitz the Eclipse Stakes, with ears down, thinking hard, and doing his best; Ivo the Christmas Cup, so amongst these many wins it is hoped consolation was found to make up for poor Myall King’s defeat.
On the fourth day of the big Calcutta Meeting there was some grand racing. The Patiala-Beresford’s country-bred pony Negus, supposed to be the best country-bred ever seen in India, won the Eastern Handicap, and Ringmaster made a splendid finish for the Durbangah Cup, Vinall only just managing to squeeze him in front of Savant by a short head. The stable at this time had a small English boy named Peake doing the lightweight riding for them, he was rather a success. At the Third Extra Calcutta Meeting the black cap and light blue jacket won four races on Christmas Day as follows: Escapade the Kerry Stakes, Tabby the Welter, Negus the Bengal, Ivo the Fitzmaurice Stakes.
From now on, until Lord William left India early in 1894, there is little if any particular interest to relate except his successful racing, to which he devoted all his spare time. Chasing appealed strongly to him, the excitement of it being after his own heart, and nothing pleased him better than to be up himself. Being a good judge of a horse, he knew what to look for when keeping his eyes and ears open for possible winners. On paper we all know the thing to look for, good shoulders to help them when landing, plenty of power behind to propel with, and so on, but in practice this does not always do the trick, for most of us at times have seen little weedy, tucked-up animals win big prizes. Never mind, we are told the exception proves the rule, and, as I have already remarked, Logic is, no doubt, a good training for us all as leading to sound and considered judgment, but horses are unacquainted with it. It is very seldom, however, that a horse will not do his best, strain every nerve, in response to the demands of his master. Lord William was a bold, plucky rider, with good hands, but in racing was, I think, inclined to be too impetuous. I have seen him spoil his own chances by being too eager. My readers will say he managed to win a good many when riding himself. Quite true, so he did, and he could do almost anything with horses, but his tendency in racing was to go “all out.”
A good deal of business was done in India over the Calcutta Sweepstakes on the English Derby. Lord William was always keenly interested, and did a good deal of buying and selling over the horses’ chances, which, of course, is just as legitimate as certain leading lights in the English racing world making a £10,000 yearling book on the Derby. As a purchaser of tickets Lord Bill was in a good position to judge a horse’s chances, being well posted from home, his brother Lord Marcus keeping him well informed of all that was going on, the breakdowns, scratchings, and other contingencies connected with good and bad luck of the racehorse in training. The Calcutta Sweep on our Derby is the most valuable in the world. Lord William did a large business with the Indian lotteries, and made a heap of money over them. The sweepstakes being drawn some weeks before the race is run, gives everybody who likes to avail themselves of it opportunities of making money by buying and selling the chances subsequent to the draw, taking the form of jobbery on the Stock Exchange. Many of my readers know all about this, but there are some who may be glad of the explanation. It is not now possible to do what has been done in the past with Calcutta Sweeps, what is called “future event wagering,” is more or less a thing of the past. It must be remembered there was not much for Lord William to learn about racing, and he knew how to hedge so as to make his book fairly safe before the flag fell. There is an old adage, “No bet is a good one until it is well hedged.” I think latterly Lord William hedged a good deal. I have heard it remarked that he lost his nerve a little, and after making a big book would hedge it off again, thereby not making the sums he might have done over his own horses, but I think we may take it his lordship knew what he was doing, and did it fairly satisfactorily.
In February, 1892, that wonderful pony Lord Clyde, whose legs must have been made of cement, won the Merchants’ Purse at Lucknow with ease, Arabi Pasha the Derby, and Negus the Civil Service Cup. Racing people in India were growing restive at the formidable Patiala-Beresford stable winning so many of the best races, but if the stewards and officials who arrange the different meetings invite outsiders to compete they must not cry if they come and at times carry off their prizes. Both the Maharajah and Lord Bill were so extraordinarily generous they cared much less for the cash and prizes than for the glory of winning, and would willingly have given them the value of the stakes if that was all that mattered.
The Patiala Prince started some races of his own in April, 1892, on his own estate. They became very popular, and his hospitality was remarkable, everything well done, and Lord William able to help him in laying out and arranging the course, which was 1½ miles long, and well kept. It boasted of two grand stands, stables, dressing-rooms, weighing-room, and all the heart of man or beast could desire.
On the opening day both the Maharajah and his A.D.C., Sirdar Preetum Singh, rode in races, each being a winner. The bookmakers did good business too.
At Agra the stable did fairly well, winning the Bhurtpore Plate with Doris, Bar Stakes with Teviot, three races with Edith, and the Auction Stakes with Joker. Small wonder folk felt nervous when the Patiala-Beresford horses appeared on the scenes.
At Simla, on the new altered course, the races could hardly be called gymkhanas any longer, many good horses coming from far and near to compete. Lord William won the Jakko Stakes with his Coffee, but I do not remember any other wins of this time at Annandale, though there may have been several.
NEW PAVILION AT ANNANDALE
The majority of his horses, as well as the viceregal horses, were summering at Dehra as usual. This year a few were sent to Nami Tal, another hill station, by way of a change and to represent the stable in some races and gymkhanas. Two horses that had lately been imported to India were causing anxiety, they were not doing very well at Dehra, but as they had come out in that trying month of August it was hardly surprising. It was my fate once to be in the Red Sea in August, and I almost made up my mind to die, but thought better of it, while a real live judge on board made no bones about it, and did lie down and die, though everybody did their best for the poor old man with ice, fans, and punkahs.
At Meerut Doris won the Haupur Stakes, Cuba the Handicap Hurdles, Tabby the Aligarh Stakes, Edith the Railway Stakes.
At Umballa a match was arranged between Lord William and Mr. Woolmer, to come off at the Autumn Lucknow Meeting, the friends of each of these sportsmen betting on the event. It was looked forward to with considerable interest.
Saltford won the Grand Annual at Umballa, and the stable won a couple of other races.
At Pindi, Marvel won the Pindi Plate; at Lucknow, Doris the Dilkoosha Stakes easily, Escapade the Trials, Teviot the Club Stakes.
Some horses were sent off at the same time to Hyderabad with Ryder in charge and did well, bringing in something satisfactory in stakes.
Myall King, if I remember rightly, won a big race. The race meetings followed on each other’s heels fairly quickly, and we must now follow the stable to the Calcutta First Extra Meeting, where Pavo won the Pony Plate easily. Arab Brat, a wonderful pony, a mass of muscle, well made and lovely to behold, won the small Pony Trials, Ivo the Frost Stakes, and in the December Stakes, Lord William led in Lady Grace the winner.
At the big meeting, December 24th, Sunshine won the Kurnaul Stakes, Tostig, a most untrustworthy but very fast horse, the Trials, Ivo the Walter Locke Cup.
For the Viceroy’s Cup this year the stable had nothing they felt that could compete with the Maharajah of Kooch Behar’s grand black gelding Highborn. Their Caterina ran, but was beaten by him.
The smart country-bred Sunshine won the Gunny Meah Cup, the fast Eider the Sandown Park Stake in a canter, and Caterina retrieved her character by winning the rich Kooch Behar prize, though she had a good field against her; Little Brat also won the Eclipse Stakes.
It seemed quite correct that after being beaten by the Rajah of Kooch Behar’s horse for the Viceroy’s Cup that Caterina should retaliate by winning His Highness’s Cup.
A glance at the winning of the Confederacy at this meeting is instructive, 21,000 rupees being won between the Patiala and Beresford horses.
At Tollygunge, the obliging and always ready Edith won the Handicap Chase. So ended the 1892 racing.
On January 14th, 1903, at Calcutta, that compact and beautifully made pony Parvo won the Belvedere Pony Stakes, also another a little later. Vixen, the South American, roped in the rupees in the Selling Welter, and again next day the Alipore Stakes.
The first day at Lucknow opened with the two matches between Lord William and Captain Woolmer. In the first Lord William was to ride his English horse Tostig against Capt. Woolmer’s Australian Flashlight, catch weight over 12 stone, distance three furlongs. Flashlight was a curious, rather ungainly looking horse, with an uncomfortable saddle back, being round or roach-backed. Nevertheless, the horse won. In the other match Lord William rode an English horse again, named Simon de Montfort. I am sure his opponent must have felt impressed by this high-sounding title. Capt. Woolmer was on an English mare rejoicing in the common or garden name of Stourbay. Here again Capt. Woolmer won, and Lord Bill had to pay up, the terms having been 5000 rupees a side. The only comfort out of the day’s racing was that Exile won the Martiniere Stakes.
The second day’s racing was better for them. Doris won the Pony Race, Mocassin the Pony Chase, Kirkstall the Goomtee Stakes, Prince Imperial the All-horse Handicap, as well as two other races I am not sure about; so the owners began to preen themselves again. The Civil Service Cup was a disappointment. They had hoped to win it with Negus, but were beaten by a pony named Pekin.
At Meerut Plebein won the Grand National Chase, Prince Imperial the Turf Club Cup, and in March, 1893, at the Patiala meeting little Blitz added the Pony Race to his laurels; Sirus the Asiatic Stakes, and Salford with nothing near him the Grand Annual.
Lord William had added Flashlight to his string. It had worried him very much there being anything that could beat his Tostig, which was considered a really fast horse; he determined if possible to buy Flashlight, and, as we see, he did accomplish the deal.
Riding in the Calcutta Military Paperchase for the cup in 1893, Lord Bill had a nasty fall with Ratafia. No bones were broken this time fortunately, but he had to keep to his bed for several weeks. Though now forty-six years of age, he still rode as hard as ever, still did gymkhana tricks, and skylarked with the best of them, though he had already eight times broken his collarbone, had various concussions of the brain, and hundreds of minor griefs in the way of bumps and bruises, yet his nerve had never failed him.
At the 1893 Pindi meeting, Patiala-Beresford horses won nothing, which was rather amusing, as it was from there the chief cry came about its being no use racing against millionaire princes, of course they could afford to buy up all the best horses, etc., giving no one else a chance. On this occasion they must have felt small, to say the least of it.
At the end of the season the horses went to their summer quarters, and the usual anxiety and curiosity began of wondering what the Confederacy would produce for the next year’s racing. Wild rumours floated about of the horses Lord William was supposed to have bought; the racing and betting people studied all the English, Australian, and American papers in hopes of finding out, or at any rate gleaning some information. The would-be wise gossipers added various horses to his stable with wonderful records, all of which were inventions or at any rate proved incorrect. What was true, and eventually became known, was that he had bought Sprig o’ Myrtle, a well-known and good horse, with a view to taking Highborn down a peg or two.
In June I think, at any rate in the hot weather, Lord William sent Westminster, Vixen, Lady Grace, Escapade, Goldleaf and Chester to Bangalore to train. This was chiefly owing to the Calcutta Turf Club having decided not to allow South American horses any longer to be entered in the country-bred class as regards weight. The Western Indian Turf Club not having arrived at any such conclusion, both Vixen and Westminster had a good chance there, making it worth while sending them. Lord William’s prediction was verified, they both won races and many rupees there.
Simla was feeling rather miserable trying to face the inevitable, for Lord William’s years of office were drawing to a close. People quarrelled with one another to entertain him and do him honour, and in spite of Lord Bill’s cheery efforts there was a something in the air that spelt depression, for who would, or ever could, take his place? And what were Lord Bill’s feelings in leaving all his kind friends and the haunts of so many happy and successful years? I know he felt lumps in his throat at times, and it seemed to bring home to him that his youth was gone; that suddenly somehow he had become middle-aged, and he had not hitherto realised it. He had been obliged to give up polo, and his health at times was far from satisfactory, although his spirit had never failed, was still unquenched, and after all he had earned a little home life, but against that no one likes leaving a place where they have been a little god.
Amongst the most touching of his farewells was from the children at Simla; he gave them a last farewell party at Inverarm, and they presented him with a little remembrance, which was amongst the most valued of his many parting gifts.
While at Simla, Lady Lansdowne, who was very much liked, told some lady she should like to visit her friends and have tea with them as she did amongst her friends at home, she did not care for the formal “stand-off” viceregal attitude. The lady this remark was addressed to promptly said, “Oh, will you come to tea with me?” receiving an answer in the affirmative. When the Military Secretary heard of this he at once begged Her Excellency to do nothing of the kind; it would be establishing a precedent in the first place which might not be desirable, added to which it would most certainly lead to jealousy and trouble, so the kind and sociable-hearted Vice-reine had to give up the idea.
Photo. Bourne & Shepherd
MYALL KING’S GRAVE
Lord William now entered upon his last year’s racing. He wanted to have an Irish finish, a good gallop for the last, and he was not disappointed, for he certainly won a prodigious number of races. People opened their eyes and blinked when Willson, Lord William’s trainer, reached Calcutta with a truly formidable string, consisting of good old Myall King, Flashlight, Tostig, Sprig o’ Myrtle, Kirstall, Ivo, Westminster, Lady Grace, Caterina, Eider, Tabby, Killatoe, Firstshot, Nectar, Mite, Negus, Labby, Parvo, Lady Ethleen, Seabreeze, Puffball, Annie Rooney, Release, FitzGeorge, Coochick and ever so many more, surely he must have reached the height of his ambitions in India; but alas! his pleasure in his last year’s racing was damped by an accident to his favourite Myall King while he was being schooled over hurdles. It was noticed he was fencing rather carelessly, whether he felt he had done his bit, and ceased to be interested in the game, or whether he did not feel well, it is hard to tell, but it ended in his coming to grief and breaking his leg. Lord William was much upset, for Myall King had played the game so handsomely for him. He ordered a monument to be erected to the horse’s memory at Barrackpore, of which I give a photograph. Lord William is standing on the right side with his little fox terrier, Willson the trainer stands on the left, and Vinall near him. The picture of Lord William is not the least like him. I think it has suffered in the touching up process through which I understand they have to go, but the photo is of interest.
Many people who had admired the poor old horse felt sad when they heard he had met his death on the racecourse where he had won so many races. The poor beast had of course to be put out of his pain.
The Indian Planters Gazette felt it so strongly it broke into song, as follows:—
Myall King has been shot, ran the pitiful story,
We heard in Calcutta on last Tuesday eve;
But that such a sad ending had come to his glory,
We listeners indeed found it hard to believe.
Fling open the gates of the equine Valhalla
While the notes of his requiem mournfully ring,
Staunchest of thoroughbreds, best of Australians,
Champion of India, brave Myall King.
Yet, if there’s a future for men and for horses,
Perhaps our old hero we once more may see,
Grazing free on sweet clover in meadows celestial,
Happy as sportsmen all wish him to be.
The following shows at a glance the horse’s performances:—
Myall King, by King Cob—Queen of the Forest
Weights. Distance. Time.
1887, Dec. Calcutta Viceroy’s Cup 8.8 1¾ m. 3 m. 9½ s.
Durbangah Cup 9.0 1 m. 6 f. 3 m. 20½ s.
1888, Feb. Lucknow Stewards’ Purse 10.3 2 m. 3 m. 41 s.
1888, Dec. Calcutta Viceroy’s Cup 9.0 1¾ m. 3 m. 7½ s.
1890, Dec. Calcutta Viceroy’s Cup 9.0 1¾ m. 3 m. 8 s.
1891, Feb. Lucknow Stewards’ Purse 9.7 1½ m. 2 m. 41 s.
1891, Dec. Calcutta Viceroy’s Cup — — Ran third
1892, — Hyderabad Gold Cup 9.7 2 m. —
Misfortunes seldom come singly. Another catastrophe occurred almost directly after Myall King’s, that useful pony Edith fell at the same place, putting her shoulder out, so of course she could race no more.
On December 2nd, at the first Extra Calcutta Meeting, Release ran a dead-heat with Mr. Apcar’s Sapper in the Pony Plate, which was unsatisfactory to both. At the second Extra Meeting Ivo won the Fort Stakes, First Shot, looking splendid, won the Pony Trials, and Westminster the Maiden Horse Stakes. Prince Imperial the Hastings Plate Hurdles.
Then came the eventful Cup Day. Excitement had been great for some time and now grew intense. Many people thought the Maharajah of Kooch Behar’s Highborn was certain to win, though in the opinion of some he was a trifle overtrained. Lord William also had plenty of backers.
As the horses cantered past to the post, Highborn certainly did look tired and a little stale, while Tostig, Lord William’s horse, or I should say the Confederacy horse, was looking very fit. They both got away well, and Vinall kept his charge going from the first, hoping to reduce his field a bit; he kept the lead until the last turn for home, when it was observed Highborn was creeping up, though pale blue and black cap was still leading. Presently Trahan, who was riding Highborn, threw up his arm and began riding for a finish. This made the crowd shout out, “Highborn’s beaten, Highborn’s done,” and the field thought all was over but the shouting, and Lord William would be victorious. Both jockeys now meant business; both were riding every inch resolutely, but in spite of Vinall’s best endeavours, the black landed his head well in front as he passed the winning post, conqueror by a length.
The sporting Maharajah of Kooch Behar, who was very popular, received endless congratulations, and none more hearty than from his old friend Lord William. Most people had hoped that being his lordship’s last year’s racing he would again win the cup and retire victorious, but the stable had to console itself with Negus winning the Eastern Pony Stakes, and Eider the Walter Locke Cup.
The big plum of the third day Parvo secured, on the fourth day Lady Ethleen ran a dead-heat for the Lilliputians, and Negus the Pony Handicap, and so ended Lord William’s last season’s racing in Calcutta.
On Saturday evening, the 30th of December, 1893, a farewell dinner was given to Lord William by a large number of his friends in the Calcutta Town Hall, prior to his departure from India, where he had spent, as he himself said, “The best years of his life.”
The hall was decorated with flags and draperies in Lord William’s racing colours, the lances of the Viceroy’s Body Guard arranged round the massive pillars of the hall, the general effect being distinctly pretty.
Mr. Charles H. Moore, one of Lord William’s oldest friends, occupied the chair, and it is thanks to his courtesy I am able to produce the facsimile of the signatures of the guests at that memorable feast, also his speech in proposing the guest of the evening my readers will see is both eloquent and earnest, and my friends tell me the delivery was most impressive, calling forth an enthusiasm rarely witnessed on such occasions.
Lord William was, I know, greatly touched, and his reply was spoken with much feeling and heartfelt appreciation for his kindly reception.
Lord William sat on Mr. Moore’s right, the two next chairs being occupied by Mr. Justice Macpherson and the Hon. General Brackenbury, while on the chairman’s left were Admiral Kennedy and Lord Brassey. The band of the Rifle Brigade played during the evening.
The following is a list of those present:—
Abbott, Mr. H. E.; Agnew, Capt. Q.; Agnew, Mr. H. de C.; Alexander, Mr. R.; Allason, Major; Allan, Mr. J. J.; Anderson, Mr. A. S.; Anderson, Mr. G. G.; Apcar, Mr. J. G.; Apostolides, Mr. E. C.; Althorp, Capt. K.; Arbuthnot, Mr. J.; Ardagh, Col. J. C., c.i.e.; Arthur, Mr. A.; Barclay, Mr. P. D.; Barlow, Mr. R.; Barnes, Mr. F. C.; Bates, Mr. R. G.; Beaver, Col. P. K. L.; Beresford, Mr. W. M.; Beverley, the Hon. Mr. Justice, c.s.; Bignell, Mr. R.; Boteler, Mr. R.; Bourdillon, the Hon. J. A., c.s.; Brackenbury, the Hon. Lieut.-General H., c.b.; Bradshaw, Surgeon-Major-General; Brassey, the Right Hon. the Lord; Brasier-Creagh, Capt., a.d.c.; Brock, Mr. C.; Brooke, Mr. W. R., c.i.e.; Buck, Sir E., c.i.e.; Buckland, Mr. C. E., c.s.; Butler, Mr. A. L.; Bythell, Capt.; Campbell, Capt. I. M., d.s.o.; Campbell, Mr. Alec; Campbell, Mr. H. P.; Chatterton, Col. F. W.; Chisholme, Major J. J. Scott; Christopher, Major; Collen, Major-General Sir E. H. H., k.c., i.e.; Cotton, the Hon. H. J. S., c.s.i.; Creagh, Mr. B. P.; Croft, the Hon. Sir A., k.c.i.e; Cubitt, Mr. J. E.; Cumberledge, Mr. F, H.; Cuningham, Mr. W. J., c.s.i.; Cunningham, Surgeon-Lieut.-Col. D. D.; Currie, Capt. J.; Curzon, the Hon. Major M.; Dangerfield, Mr. E.; Daniel, Mr. Linsay; Dickson, Mr. Geo.; Dickson, Mr. J. G.; Dods, Mr. W.; Doran, Major B. J. C.; Eddis, Mr. W. K.; Ellis, Col. S. R.; Enter, Mr. K.; Evans, the Hon. Sir Griffith, k.c.i.e.; Ezra, Mr. J. E. D.; Fenn, Surgeon-Col. E. H., c.i.e.; Galbraith, Major-General W., c.b.; Gambrie, Col. G. R.; Gamble, Mr. R. A.; Garraway, Capt. C. W.; Garth, Mr. G. L.; Garth, Mr. W.; Gladstone, Mr. A. S.; Gladstone, Mr. J. S.; Gough, Capt. C. H. H.; Gough, Mr. G.; Gregory, Mr. E. H.; Gregson, Mr. C. B.; Grimston, Capt. R. E., a.d.c.; Hadden, Mr. F. G.; Hamilton, Mr. F. S., c.s.; Hamilton, Mr. L. B.; Harbord, Capt. the Hon. C.; Hart, Mr. G. H. R.; Harvey, Surgeon-Col. R.; Henderson, Mr. G. S.; Hensman, Mr. H.; Herbert, Capt. L.; Hewett, Mr. J. P., c.s., c.i.e.; Hext, Capt. J., r.n., c.i.e.; Hills, Mr. A.; Hills, Mr. C. R.; Hodgson, Mr. G. C.; Holmes, Mr. W., c.s.; Hope, Mr. G. W.; Hunt, Col. J. L.; Irving, Mr. W. O. Bell; James, Mr. S. Harvey, c.s.; Jardine, Sir William, Bart.; Jarrett, Col. H. S.; Jenkins, Capt. A. E.; Johnstone, Mr. C. Lawrie; Jourdain, Mr. C. B.; Kennedy, H. E., Rear-Admiral George; King, Brigade-Surgeon-Lieut.-Col. G., c.i.e.; King, Mr. D. W.; Kirk, Mr. H. A.; Kooch Behar, H. H. the Maharajah of, g.c.i.e.; Lambert, the Hon. Sir John, k.c.i.e.; Lance, Brigadier-General F., c.b.; Latimer, Mr. F. W.; Lethbridge, Brigade-Surgeon-Lieut.-Col.; Lister, Capt. G. C., a.d.c.; Ludlow, Col.; Lumsden, Mr. D. M.; Luson, Mr. H.; Lyall, Mr. A. A.; Lyall the Hon. Mr. D. R., c.s.i., c.s.; Lyall, Mr. R. A.; Mackensie, Mr. D. F.; Mackellor, Mr. G. B.; Macleod, Mr. J. J.; Macnair, Mr. G. B.; Macpherson, the Hon. Justice W., c.s.; Maitland, Col.; McInnes, Mr. H. H.; McLeod, Mr. C. C.; Mehta, Mr. R. D.; Miley, Col. J. A.; Mills, Mr. G.; Milton, Lord, a.d.c.; Moore, Mr. C. H.; Muir, Mr. A. K.; Muir, Sir John, Bart.; Myers, Mr. Dudley B.; Norman, Mr. A. F.; Norris, the Hon. Justice, q.c.; Overend, Mr. T. B. G.; Paget, Mr. H. E. C.; Paris, Mr. G. B.; Pattison, Mr. F. E.; Paul, Col. St.; Peacock, Mr. F. B.; Perinan, Mr. F. W.; Peterson, Mr. C. D.; Patrie, Mr. J. M.; Playfair, the Hon. Mr. P.; Pollen, Capt. S. H., a.d.c.; Prickett, Mr. L. G.; Prinsep, the Hon. Mr. Justice H. T., c.s.; Pritchard, the Hon. Sir C., k.c.i.e., c.s.i.; Ralli, Mr. John A.; Ralli, Mr. T. D.; Rawlinson, Mr. A. T.; Raye, Brigade-Surgeon D.; Rodocanachi, Mr. J.; Ross, Mr. R. M.; Rustornjee, Mr. H. M.; Sanders, Surgeon-Major R. C.; Saunders, Mr. J. O’B.; Schiller, Mr. F. C.; Shakespeare, Mr. F.; Simson, Mr. A.; Simson, Mr. A. F.; Stedman, General E., c.b.; Steel, Mr. Robert; Stewart, Mr. F. G.; Stewart, Mr. C. D.; Stewart, Mr. J. L.; Stewart, Mr. J. R.; Stuart, Mr. Harry; Targett, Mr. W. H.; Temple, Mr. G.; Thomas, Mr. J. P.; Thomas, Mr. L. R.; Thomas, Mr. R. E. S.; Thomas, Mr. W. L.; Thuillier, Col. H. R.; Toomay, Mr. J. A.; Trail, Mr. T.; Tremearne, Mr. Shirley; Turnbull, Mr. R., c.i.e.; Turner, Capt. J. G.; Upton, Mr. R. L.; Vincent, Mr. Claude; Walker, Major-General A.; Waller, Mr. R. R.; Ward, Mr. G.; West, Mr. J. D.; Wilkins, Mr. C. A., c.s.; Williams, Capt. G. A.
In rising to propose the health of the Viceroy and Lady Lansdowne, Mr. Moore was very warmly received. He said:—
“Gentlemen,—We have a rigid rule here to-night to confine our speeches to two, but I must break it so far as to ask you to drink to the health of the Viceroy and Lady Lansdowne—(cheers). I am sure I am interpreting your sentiments right in thinking you will do it with enthusiasm. They have won the hearts of us all, and their approaching departure carries with it a feeling of actual personal loss arising from the affection and esteem they have so universally inspired; he, because he is straight, loyal and true, and she, because in every respect she is perfectly charming.”
“The toast was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm, the whole company standing,” to quote the words from the account given to me.
After a brief interval the Chairman again rose, his rising being the signal for prolonged cheering. He said:—
“Gentlemen,—I first knew Bill Beresford over thirty years ago in the playing fields of Eton, where they say battles are won, to the inspiration of which thought we may both trust to fight against the extreme nervousness our respective positions entail on us to-night. His nervousness needs no apology, as he has to respond to a whole evening in his honour, which nobody could face with perfect equanimity. Mine perhaps requires this explanation, that in assuming my duty, which is to now call a toast to his name, and bid him farewell on behalf of this large company, I find it difficult to do so in appropriate terms, lest I be charged with personal bias from my well-known feelings for him of affectionate friendship and regard—(cheers). I have been selected for this task which, for this reason, I would rather have deputed to some other, because amongst Calcutta residents proper (and this dinner is meant to bear a Calcutta complexion) I have known him longer than most, if not than all of you. This qualification I claim with pride. I beg you however to believe I mean to be impartial in the few remarks regarding his career which I now make—(cheers).
“I must not date back too far, so I leave Eton days and get straight to India, where his main career has been spent, and with distinction—(cheers)—for it is with that portion of his life that this company is chiefly concerned. What fortunate accident brought him here I do not quite know, unless it was the natural termination of the short life and a merry one dear to youthful soldiers in the old country, but having arrived here eighteen years ago, here he has remained, and I would briefly recall to you the various phases in which he has appeared before us. I think I can best cut him into four—(laughter and cheers)—the soldier, the official, the sportsman, and the social companion—(cheers).
“As soldier I cannot speak of him from personal knowledge. I have the satisfaction of being a member of society who, when war is abroad, is entitled to seclude himself from its ranks—(laughter)—but it is a consolation to feel that a good plucked one, like our friend Bill, is to the fore to protect me—(hear, hear, and laughter). I recollect I first saw him as a soldier, gay and dapper, in 9th Lancers uniform, brown hair, sufficient of it, and a straight nose—(laughter)—escorting the Prince of Wales from Prinseps Ghât to Government House, but this is only the show side of a soldier’s life. For its realistic side one must go further afield, and there are those amongst us from whom no doubt I could glean facts to set forth his worth, but there is no need. He bears on his breast the sign manual of merit in the proud insignia of the Victoria Cross, and I am justified in accepting that as sufficient evidence—(loud and prolonged cheers).
“As official, we have all known him best as Military Secretary to the Viceroy of India. He has (after six years’ service as A.D.C. to Lords Northbrook and Lytton) held the post for twelve years under three successive Viceroys; has raised the office to a science, and himself from an official into an institution—(cheers)—acquired a reputation absolutely unique, and so identified himself with the position that when a new Viceroy is appointed it seems more natural to ask who is to be his ‘Bill Beresford’ than his ‘Military Secretary’—(cheers and laughter)—and when it is Bill himself the Viceroy elect has secured, what is of great value, the same capacity and undeviating loyalty enjoyed by his predecessor—(cheers). In all this I need not rely upon my own judgment, for it is proved a hundred-fold in the fact that he has been the choice and acquired the confidence and esteem of successive men of high intellect and such different characters as Lords Ripon, Dufferin and Lansdowne—(cheers). More than that I understand his worth has been recognised by a power higher even than a Viceroy’s, and testified to by his elevation to a Knighthood in the Order of the Indian Empire, of which he is already a member—(loud and continued cheering). I knew that would elicit the hearty congratulations of you all, and I am glad we are the first to offer them.
“In the social part of his duties, his capacity extends to, and is felt by all of us, for the influence of the Chief of the Staff is visible in every detail of the social functions and hospitality of Government House. I can assure him we not only know it, but appreciate very warmly the advantages we have derived from it. He has won all this by sheer force of character, and we find it hard to realise he is really giving up.
“As sportsman, I can best sum him up in the current colloquialism that he is absolutely undefeated—(loud and continued cheers). His stable of racehorses has been for years the chief mainstay of Calcutta racing; in all weathers and all vicissitudes of fortune he is to the fore, full of pluck, always has horses to run or to back, buys freely, and is generally a dispensation of Providence to stewards, being a staunch supporter of ruling powers and frequent offers of useful advice born of long experience. His most remarkable virtue to my mind is his exuberant cheerfulness even when luck is against him—(cheers). I never met a better loser, and it means possession of a combination of enviable qualities rarely met with. I have known his career on the turf for over twenty years, and to speak of him as I know him he has throughout raced like an honest English gentleman. As you all know, he is a splendid whip, and was a first-class performer over jumps, especially on difficult horses, until he ended his career to that game, and it was then that he spoilt the shape of the nose I before alluded to—(much laughter and cheers).
“As social companion, I suppose nobody amongst us has ever had such a large circle of appreciative acquaintance in circles from the highest to the lowest, male and female—(laughter and cheers)—and if I may venture to say it without exhibition of bias, his popularity is due to his inexhaustible fund of high spirits, ready sympathy, love for hosts of friends, open-handed generosity—(cheers)—admiration of beauty, his merry Irish wit, and infinite capacity of loyal attachment to his pals—(continued cheers).
“That concludes my dissection of his personality, which the patient has borne heroically, and I now put him together again as one piece—(laughter).
“I do not think any man in this room is intuitively more modest in the estimate of his own merits than my dear friend Bill—(hear, hear, and cheers). I know his impulse will be to attribute my praise to my kindly feelings towards him. I anticipate him by replying that 180 people have met here to do him honour—(loud and prolonged cheers)—that residents in India are not given to spasmodic ebullitions of enthusiasm, nor to be influenced by a passing breath of popular favour. Their whole trend of mind is in the opposite direction; they are more prone to indifference generally, and as regards individuals to apathy, and when such a goodly company as this assembles to bid good-bye to one member of the community, it bears the practical significance that he has made a noticeable mark and justifies the general tenour of my remarks—(cheers).
“I ask him therefore to take that unction to his soul in reflecting over this entertainment, and assure him that when on behalf of all of us I now wish him a very warm farewell, health and happiness in the future, and add a hearty ‘God bless you, old chap,’ we mean we admire him, that we are his friends, intend to remain so, and bitterly regret his departure from amongst us—(loud and prolonged cheers).
“I have now to call a toast to him, Gentlemen, as a typical soldier, a capable official, an undefeated sportsman, a prince of good fellows, and a man of mark amongst us.”
The toast was drunk with enthusiastic cheers, the band playing “For he’s a jolly good fellow” and “Auld Lang Syne,” in both of which the whole company joined in singing the chorus.
Lord William Beresford stood up to reply, and after the hearty round of cheering with which his rising was greeted had subsided, spoke as follows:—
“Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,—Before I attempt to reply to the speech in which your Chairman has praised me much more than I deserve—(No, no)—I must ask you to notice that even the old schoolfellow and friend he is, he is unable to bring it to my charge that I am orator, and I must own I feel at a great disadvantage in this respect compared with him, and if the few words which I have risen to say seem to any of you to fall short of what they should, believe me that it is not because they are not spoken from the heart—(hear, hear, and cheers)—but because of my inability to give expression to what I feel, and surely it would be no reproach to anyone if at a time like this he found it very difficult, if not almost impossible, to thank you in adequate terms, not only for the manner in which you have accepted and endorsed the altogether flattering description that Mr. Moore has given of me and of my career in India, but also for the feelings of good fellowship which prompted you to ask me to be your guest here to-night—(cheers).
“I can imagine no greater honour than to find myself at the close of one’s sojourn in India invited by 180 of one’s fellow-countrymen in Calcutta to a social meeting like that of to-night—(cheers). The invitation came to me as a most complete, unexpected and most gratifying surprise, and will, I assure you all, add to the brightest and happiest recollections of my last weeks in India—(hear, hear, and cheers)—which must, alas! of necessity contain far more of pain than pleasure in them, for no one can cut himself off finally from a country in which he has been employed for eighteen years, and those the best of his life, in which he has made most of his best friends, and mixed as I have tried to do in all its sport and pastimes, without feeling a shock in doing so—(cheers).
“Gentlemen, Mr. Moore says he does not quite know what brought me out to India, and as I, to use his own expression, have appeared before you in four various phases, first of which he puts as soldier, I think this is a good opportunity of telling you that it was in the capacity of a subaltern in the 9th Lancers that I came out to this country, and he is quite right in saying that it was in that uniform I first appeared in Calcutta, as extra A.D.C. on Lord Northbrook’s staff, leading the cortège of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales from Prinseps Ghât to Government House.
“I regret that the abundance of brown locks to which he refers no longer remain, but is replaced by a scanty silver fringe—(laughter and cheers).
“With regard to the allusion he made to the straightness of the nose—(laughter)—that he recollects on that occasion, he is not quite correct, and there is a gentleman (Mr. J. J. Allan) among my hosts here to-night that can testify to the fact that, owing to a slight disagreement he and I had many years ago, not actually in the playing fields of Eton, but close by, he made a little arrangement that prevented the particular nose referred to being worn straight by its wearer for the rest of his life—(laughter and cheers)—this particular battle was not won by either, as it was acknowledged to be a draw, and I am glad to tell you the two combatants have been the very best of friends ever since—(hear, hear, and cheers).
“When I came out with the 9th, the greatest aim and object of my life was, some day in the future, to get command of that regiment, but force of circumstances prevented these wishes being gratified, and I elected, whether for better or worse I cannot say, to remain as Military Secretary with the Viceroy of India, in preference to going back as second in command of my old regiment, and thus closing promotion which I was bound to get by remaining on in my post out here. I am sorry to say, therefore, that it is years since I have done any soldiering, and it is a great regret to me on leaving this country that I cannot return to the dear old regiment in which I began my service.
“The next section into which Mr. Moore has placed me is the official one, and with regard to it I may say how fortunate I have been in having served under five such masters. It is not for me to make comparisons, or to refer to their respective policies, but I may be permitted to say, which I do from the bottom of my heart, that from one and all I invariably received the greatest kindness, and if I have succeeded in pleasing them, I am fully recompensed for any trouble I may have taken in the performance of my various duties; but, Gentlemen, I am afraid that at times the Military Secretary’s duty necessitates his doing things which may be displeasing to those who are affected. In such cases I can only say that I have endeavoured to do my duty to the best of my lights, and if I have at any time hurt anyone’s feelings in such matters, I have done so most unwillingly and to my great regret, and I should like to take this opportunity of stating how much indebted I am to all the different departments that I have had to deal with for the help, advice, and support that I have always received on all sides, and thanks to which my official work has been made comparatively easy—(cheers)—and when in a few weeks now I hand over the reins of my office to my successor, the best and kindest wish I can desire for his welfare is that he may be as ably supported and leniently dealt with as I have been—(hear, hear, and cheers). I think he starts his career under very favourable circumstances, having formerly served his apprenticeship on the Viceroy’s staff, and has thus become thoroughly conversant with all the details of that staff. He (Colonel Durand) is a real good soldier; most popular with everybody who knows him—(cheers)—and I only hope when the time comes for him to have finished his turn of office as Military Secretary he will be able to look back to as many happy days and warm friendships made as I can—(cheers).
“The third section to which the Chairman referred was the sportsman section, and believe me, I am very proud indeed to have such a title attached to my name, but I am afraid I can no longer claim to be the sportsman I used to be owing to a variety of accidents between the flags, on the polo ground, and in pursuit of pig and paper, but still I cling to sports of all sorts as much as circumstances will permit me to do. I have tried all that are offered to us in India, and I think that many of my hosts to-night will support me in saying that pig-sticking takes first place—(hear, hear, and cheers). I certainly must own I have derived more pleasure from this than either tiger shooting, racing, or anything else I tried. Certainly I was extremely fortunate when I first came to India and tried my hand at the spear to have the advice and guidance of that acknowledged prince of pig-stickers, who I am proud to see has honoured me to-night with his presence, Archie Hills, of Patkahari—(loud and continued cheers). It was he who led the dance of our party the first time I ever rode after pig; he told me how to hold my spear and use it, and the best day’s pig-sticking I ever saw in my life was afforded by him at his own place, when we accounted before tiffin for seventeen boars, three cut horses, and a collar-bone broken—(cheers and laughter).
“With regard to racing, I have indeed had my full share of the plums, and it is a pleasant thing to look back on the record of my stable, which amongst other things can count six Viceroy’s Cups—(cheers)—three of which are credited to old Myall King—(cheers)—who, alas! died on the course little over a month ago—besides two Kooch Behar Cups, two Durbangah Cups, three Civil Service Cups, and five Grand Military Steeplechases, of which I was fortunate enough to pilot the winner myself—(loud cheers)—and at one time or another most of the biggest races in India.
“In this my last year I was indeed pleased to be connected with the severe tussle for the Viceroy’s Cup, inasmuch as Tostig, who made such a good fight for it, was imported by me, and was till quite recently my property—(cheers)—and as His Highness the Maharajah of Patiala was not fortunate enough to win on this occasion, he and I—believe me I am quoting his feelings as well as my own—were compensated to a great extent by the fact that the much-coveted prize was won by one of my greatest supporters of the Indian turf—(loud and continued cheers)—who struggled for many years with crushing bad luck, but stayed the course, and eventually has been rewarded for his pluck by having won the Viceroy’s Cups two years in succession, and all the other big races this season—(continued cheers). I may add that I hope he may live for many years and carry off in the future several more prizes of the Indian turf, and though His Highness the Maharajah of Patiala has not yet won this most coveted prize, which, by the way, is no fault of his own, he has spared no expense in trying to get together the best horses money can buy—(hear, hear)—and has done all that a sportsman could do to become a recipient of the Viceroy’s Cup, but though Dame Fortune seems up to the present to frown upon his endeavours in this particular direction, I prophesy that his time will come when his wishes will be gratified, and nobody wishes him this success more than myself—(cheers). He, at any rate, can congratulate himself at this moment on possessing the best horse in India, of which there can be no doubt, as our best authority out here has declared officially that Sprig o’ Myrtle is at weight for age and class, 8 lbs. in front of the invincible Highborn at a mile and three quarters, and I only hope that authority is correct in his estimation of this son of Trenton—(much laughter and cheers).
“I am sorry to say I have been obliged to give up the game of polo, but I still have a sneaking regard for the pursuit of paper—(cheers)—and I hope, with the kind assistance of our Honorary Secretary, we shall have some very pleasant paper-chases this my last cold weather among you—(hear, hear).
“Now, Gentlemen, I have come to the last phase or section referred to, namely, that of social companion, and on this head I can say nothing. It is needless for me to do so as your presence here to-night fully justifies the many nice things the Chairman has said about me. He is, as you doubtless know, one of my oldest friends; he has known me longer almost than anybody present, and has always, whether in weal or woe, extended the hand of true friendship and hospitality to me ever since I first came to Calcutta in 1875—(loud cheers).
“Before I sit down, I must again thank you one and all for the splendid reception you have given me this evening, and for the very kind manner in which my friends have rallied round me to-night and drunk my health, and I heartily wish to all of you the warm farewell you have wished to me.”
Lord William resumed his seat amid loud cheers, which were continued for some time.
Signatures recorded at the farewell dinner to Lord William Beresford are reproduced here.
SIGNATURES OF THE
GUESTS PRESENT AT THE
(several signatures; page 1 of 10)
Having bid farewell to Calcutta, on his way down country, Lord Bill managed to stay at Lucknow to see his horses run for the last time in India. Good old Lucknow, where he had run many races and had some glorious times.
To send him away feeling happy his Mite won the Civil Service Cup and pots of money; also another race the same day, namely, the Chutter Munzil Purse; Vixen won the Horse Handicap on the third day; Negus won the Derby on the fourth day. After this Lord William made his final bow to India.
First Visit to the Deepdene—Finds a Relation in His Bedroom—Engagement to be Married Announced—School Treats—One New Year’s Morning—King Edward VII Visits the Deepdene When Prince of Wales—A Narrow Escape—“Tommy, Where Are You?”—Why Lord William wore a Turban—Fast Trotters and Their Doings—Mishap on the Way to the Derby—Racing in England—Racing Geography—Another Racing Partnership—Accident While Hunting—Mr. Palmer to the Rescue—Lord William Tells a Story Against Himself—A Son Born.
We now enter on the short third volume of Lord William’s life. He landed in England during the spring of 1894, bringing with him various faithful retainers, also some favourite horses and ponies. In June of that year he paid his first visit to the Deepdene, Dorking, as a guest of Lily Duchess of Marlborough, having been invited at Lady Sarah Wilson’s suggestion to make up a party for Ascot races.
It will be remembered that Lady Sarah was a sister of the 8th Duke of Marlborough, whose widow was renting the Deepdene.
Lord William was amused to find in his bachelor bedroom a print of one of his relations, namely, Lord Marcus Gervais Beresford, Archbishop of Armagh, Lord Primate of Ireland, whose eldest son married Mary Annabella, sister of Sir William Vernon Harcourt, who was first cousin to the author’s mother; Sir William’s mother and author’s grandfather being brother and sister (vide Burke, Gooch-Vernon Harcourt); the author’s mother having been Miss Mary Teresa Gooch, daughter of the Rev. William Gooch, Canon of York; she having married Robert Calverly Bewicke-Bewicke, b.a., j.p., d.l., of Coulby Manor, Yorkshire.
It is interesting to note Lord William’s father married his beautiful wife while on a visit to this self-same gentleman looking down from the walls of the Deepdene.
In September Lord William returned to India for a few months to attend to some business and racing matters, after which he announced his engagement to Lily Duchess of Marlborough, which came as a surprise to most people. In India he was gradually becoming regarded as a confirmed bachelor, though it seemed incredible that anyone who was such an admirer of the fair sex and who was equally admired by them in return should be able to escape; indeed, his having escaped is only one more proof of his cool head and ability.
It was not a long engagement, April 30th, 1895, was chosen for the wedding; when Lilian Warren, daughter of Cicero Price, Commodore of the U.S. Navy, married Lord William Beresford as her third husband, the first having been Mr. Louis Hammersley of New York, an exceedingly wealthy man who left his wife a large fortune. Secondly, she married the 8th Duke of Marlborough, who died in 1892, but not before the Duchess’s fortune had done much for Blenheim Palace.
Photo. Russell, Baker Street
LILY, DUCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH
Lord William and his bride made their vows at the Church of St. George’s, Hanover Square, witnessed by crowds of friends. The bridegroom was supported by his younger brother, Lord Marcus, as best man. Her Grace was given away by her stepson the 9th Duke of Marlborough.
The Church was charmingly decorated with lilies of all sorts, a pretty compliment to the bride’s name.
The Duke of Cambridge sat beside Lord William and the United States Ambassador and Mrs. Bayard beside the bride. When the service was over Lord and Lady William Beresford drove to the bride’s house in Carlton House Terrace, where they received the congratulations of their many friends, all of whom did justice to the good things provided for them.
Later in the day the bride and bridegroom left the town for the Deepdene, that lovely place being rented from Lord Francis Hope. It stands on the eastern side of the old coaching road near Dorking. On the north the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway winds. The grounds around the house are amongst the most beautiful in England, when the rhododendrons are in flower the gardens and grounds are a blaze of colour and a delight. It is charmingly secluded and yet near enough to the world to easily see as much of it as might be desired. It was here, I believe, that Beaconsfield wrote his Coningsby.
The original house was built in Charles I’s reign by the Hon. Charles Howard, son of the Duke of Norfolk, but it was pulled down and rebuilt by a descendant and eventually sold to a Mr. Hope, a very rich art collector, whose daughter married the late Duke of Newcastle, and at her death the Deepdene became the property of Lord Francis Pelham-Clinton, a grandson of the Duke’s, who took the name of Hope on succeeding to the estate; he leased the place to Lily Duchess of Marlborough for twenty-one years, and it was there the last few years of Lord William’s life were mostly spent.
It seems a strange coincidence that Lord William’s wife should have lived five years with her first husband, five years with the second and five years with the third!
It was a great pleasure to Lord William fixing up all his trophies and treasures in their permanent home. The dining-room, the billiard-room, the front hall and indeed every nook and corner were filled with them, all having interesting histories of their own.
An arcade runs round three sides of the lofty hall, above this there is a gallery where guns, spears, assegais, antlers, racing cups, and beautiful inlaid vases are arranged in profusion. Also regimental trophies, of which he was fond and proud, for he loved his old regiment.
In the billiard-room there are many masterpieces of great value, also in one corner stands a small easel in which reposes a picture entitled “Bill wins,” below is an inscription, explaining the scene at Curraghmore Steeplechases on April 30th, 1874, his wedding having taken place exactly twenty-one years after on April 30th, 1895.
THE DEEPDENE, DORKING
FRONT HALL AT THE DEEPDENE
One of the ambitions of Lord William’s life was to win the Derby, and he began looking about him for likely winners; it did not take him long to collect some useful horses, though I doubt very much if his racing in England ever gave him as much pleasure as it did in India. His wife was most interested in his horses and was as anxious as he was that he should own the best. She was a kind-hearted woman who did a great deal for the comfort and happiness of all around her, the poor of Dorking are not likely to forget her or her husband, for they closely associated themselves with all the local charities and philanthropic undertakings.
Nothing pleased Lord William better than to have a house full of people; he loved to have some of the old 9th with him. It had been hoped when he settled down to home-life he would take things more easily, but he still continued to cram two or three days’ work into one, just as he did in India, he had not yet found a day quite long enough for all he wanted to do.
On his birthday he always gave all the Dorking school children a treat in the park at Deepdene, entertaining about 1800 of all denominations, and surely no children were ever so entertained before, no expense was spared that would add to their pleasure, and he always took part in the proceedings himself, which added much to the children’s pleasure, while, I believe, he enjoyed it himself thoroughly; he loved to see children happy and hear them laugh. He arranged their races, threw bags full of pennies to be scrambled for, taking particular notice of any child, girl or boy, who after striving was not strong enough to capture any pence amongst the hustling crowd of eager bairns, these he used to reward with pennies privately; he said he could not bear the look of disappointment on their faces when time after time they failed.
Lord William never imagined he could be imposed upon, with the exception perhaps of a certain section of the racing fraternity, but children managed to do it fairly successfully sometimes.
One New Year’s morning, for instance, he had asked Mr. Palmer, who attended to all his wife’s business when she was Duchess of Marlborough (and afterwards to the time of her death) to breakfast with him at nine o’clock. Arriving at the Deepdene and finding his lordship had not finished dressing he went to his room to talk to him until his toilet was completed. On entering he found Lord William with the French windows open and a small crowd of children standing outside uttering the time hallowed, “Wish you a happy New Year, sir,” while the recipient of those kindly wishes was throwing occasional shillings and sixpences to the expectant little crowd. Mr. Palmer watched for a short time and then said, “Well, these kiddies are getting the best of you.” “How?” asked Lord William. “Why,” said Mr. Palmer, “in the first place, they go away and bring others, and in the second, some of them have been up, gone, and come back again without your noticing it, possibly may have been two or three times.” “Oh, no!” replied Lord William, but he turned to one group who were very fervent in their wishes for his happiness and asked, “How many times have you been here this morning?” The reply came, “Only twice, sir,” without a moment’s hesitation. He then turned to a group of three boys, one somewhat older than the other two, and said to the biggest, “If I give you a shilling, how will you divide it among the three of you?” The boy considered for a moment and then replied, “I would keep sixpence myself and give the other sixpence to the other two.”
Lord William foretold a great career for this specimen. While walking into the dining-room Lord William said to Mr. Palmer, “I suppose some of those kids have been too bright for me, but after all what does it mean; I suppose I have given away a fiver and with that fiver I have carried joy and satisfaction to many a child’s heart, better so than losing fifty to some bookie. In the one case I do get something for my money, in the latter case nothing.”
In October, 1895, King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, stayed with the Beresfords at Deepdene, others staying in the house at the time were the Sassoons, Colonel Brabazon 10th Hussars, otherwise known as “Beautiful Bwab” (he had some difficulty with his r’s), Captain Holford, Lady Sarah Wilson and Mr. Winston Churchill, also, I believe, Mr. Charles Moore.
His Majesty enjoyed his visit. He was taken to see the Home Farm where Lord William attended to his business and where he kept all his horses except his racing stud; they were at Epsom, under the care of Mr. Willson, who came from India with Lord William. The farm was a delightful sunny spot and was occupied by Lord Bill’s head man and his wife; occasionally his lordship had some cheery bachelor parties there. The view was charming, looking over Boxhill and the North Downs, sweeping the valley towards Reigate and Bletchingley. It was on these downs that Bishop Wilberforce met his death in 1873; the church there is a memorial to him.
Soon after his marriage, Lord William had one of his many accidents while driving a fast trotter named Hugh from Leatherhead. The only other occupants being Lord Marcus and the groom Tommy Ryan, who came from Curraghmore. The night was very dark and wet, but they were thundering along at a very fast pace when Hugh shied violently, upsetting the whole caboodle. When they began collecting themselves Tommy was missing, so his master shouted out, “Tommy, where are you?” From the other side of a wall came the answer, “I’m here, my lord, on my head in a ditch.” The brothers were much amused. Amongst other things Lord Bill’s head was cut, obliging him to appear at breakfast next morning with it bandaged up; his mother who was staying there at the time asked anxiously what was the matter, he wished to avoid frightening her so told one of those useful white lies which oil the wheels of life, saying quite coolly that he always wore a turban on a certain anniversary of some event in India! which quite satisfied his mother.
A fast trotter or two for his buggy was considered a necessity, and he brought his chestnut mare, Ilee, from India with him, he said he could not part with her, she had so often saved his life by her sagacity. She apparently did not leave her wisdom behind her in the East, for one night when for a wonder Lord Bill was alone and driving her home in the dark, as he turned into the lower drive at the Deepdene and she was doing a little bit of her best, she suddenly stopped dead, causing a bit of a splutter but probably saving Lord William’s life, for, thinking he had returned, the lodge keeper had put up the bar for the night across the drive blocking ingress or egress without his permission and knowledge.
Some of Lord William’s trotters did remarkable things; Harry, another prodigy, he raced against a train between two stations on the Brighton line, I believe it was between Burford and Dorking, for a bet, of course, and ended in a dead-heat! It used to be quite a joke amongst the people of Dorking when they heard one of the trotters thundering down the road to shout out, “Clear the way for his lordship,” all using their best endeavours to clear everything out of his way. The Dorking people had taken him to their hearts, and they were so proud of all his feats and doings. It must be recognised more indulgence and latitude was allowed to his lordship than would be extended to everybody, but that is just one of the remarkable things about him, everybody succumbed to him, allowing licence that would certainly not have been permitted to anybody else.
Piloteer, a handsome grey trotter, won many prizes at Richmond, Dublin and other places. I am able to give a good photo of him taken just after winning one of his prizes. He was an Irish horse.
During 1896 there were various hairbreadth escapes, without which I am sure Lord Bill would have felt dull. While driving his coach from Ascot to Bishopsgate when trying to pass some other coaches the leaders stepped into a furze-bush and then bolted; if history tells true the coach was upset, but of that I cannot speak with certainty, but I do know for certain that all in the coach were full of praise for the wonderful driving which had enabled them to escape unhurt. On the coach at the time were Lord and Lady Marcus Beresford, that fine old sportsman, Colonel Chaine, and his wife, Major Braithwaite and Mrs. Featherstonhaugh.
Another mishap occurred once going to the Derby, I think, if I remember rightly, when some of the occupants were landed over a hedge into a field. They were all men this time and one who was there told me about it. I believe it happened when his lordship was racing against young Mr. Fownes; at least that is how the tale was told to me, but it was long ago and I hope I am not taking anybody’s name in vain.
Lord William’s coach was always one of the best turned out and horsed at the Coaching and Four-in-hand Club meets.
His first successful racing season after his return to this country was 1896. He knew the business thoroughly from A to Z, to which much of his success was due, for it is no use anybody saying in a light-hearted way “I am going to race,” expecting to do wonderful things because they know the points of a horse and have judged the jumping at local agricultural shows; it not only spells disappointment, but often financial disaster. No one unless they have been behind the scenes or learnt by bitter experience can form any idea of how much there is to know before there is even a possibility of success. To begin with, and it is a big beginning, there are the numerous authorities which it is wise and advantageous to keep in a pleasant frame of mind, and under no circumstances bandy words with, or argue; fancy arguing or bandying words with the Jockey Club for instance, the National Hunt Committee, or the Turf Club of Ireland; yet all have to be considered. Many are the rules, regulations, and niceties in the way of etiquettes requiring digestion, all an education in themselves.
I had not grasped until Lord William explained it to me that according to the rules of racing geography, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands are not included in the expression Great Britain, they are only the United Kingdom.
Another perplexing thing when you see “owner” in connection with a horse’s name you rather naturally conclude the horse belongs to him, but as a matter of fact it may mean almost anything, the horse may only have been leased for his racing years, or he may be shared by partners when presumably only half the horse belongs to “Owner.” All of this was of course A B C to Lord William, and he knew every race, its dates and distances, stakes and conditions by heart. He considered Newmarket the best course in the world.
Liverpool is a terror; if any of my readers are interested in steeplechasing and have not been over the Aintree Course there, I advise them to walk round and look at the jumps in cold blood, they will wonder any horses or men can be found with pluck enough to face them. No Beresford, as far as I know, has ever yet seen his colours carried successfully in that much coveted prize, the Grand National at Liverpool, though Lord Marcus got fairly near once with Chimney Sweep, when he ran second to Captain Machell’s Reugny, ridden by that splendid amateur Mr. J. Maunsell Richardson, in 1874, and again in 1879, when Jackal carried the light blue and black cap, being beaten by Mr. Garry Moore on the Liberator. A Liverpool which will possibly for ever bear the unprecedented mark of four brothers, namely the Beasleys, having mounts in the chase, and they all made the course, “Tommy” Beasley coming home behind Lord Marcus’s horse.
Some of the Irish courses are also formidable. At the modern Leopardstown, for instance, where in the past there has been plenty of grief. Punchestown is not quite so bad; Irish horses do well there, they understand the kind of jumps.
At the end of 1895, Lord William entered into partnership with Mr. Pierre Lorillard, sharing a number of race-horses with him, amongst the most successful being Paris III, which was bought in 1896 from Mrs. White, who was I believe the widow of the Hon. James White so successful in Australian racing. The horse had raced in England in her name before being purchased by Lord William, but had done no good, directly he appeared in Lord William’s colours he won the popular Northamptonshire Stakes, value £925; now many years defunct. Five horses ran, but Paris III won by six lengths; it was a popular victory as he was favourite at 2 to 1. Cannon was up and the horse carried 3 lbs. overweight, nevertheless he won easily; he also won the Prince’s Handicap at Gatwick as well as the Lewes Handicap. Amongst other horses owned at this time were Diakka, Myakka, Caiman, and Nonsuch, sold later to the Prince of Wales, also Berzak, which latter was a bitter disappointment, as he failed to stand his preparation for the Derby.
The partnership did not last long, as the doctors advised Mr. Lorillard to give up racing for a time, but they had won twenty-seven races before the partnership was dissolved. Lord William bought Mr. Lorillard’s interest in the stable.
In December, 1896, while out with the Warnham Stag Hounds, Lord William met with a terrible accident, Mr. Palmer, who has already been mentioned, happening to be out the same day on a horse he had lately bought from his lordship; they were both crossing the Gatwick racecourse after a check, there were some stiff railings in front of them, which there was no occasion to jump as there was an opening further down, but a lady riding in front cleared the rails satisfactorily, that was quite enough, for Lord William must of course follow; unfortunately either his horse slipped or took off too late, turning a somersault over the railings, poor Lord William beneath him dangerously near his heels, but he called out to Mr. Palmer to sit on his horse’s head, when a most curious thing happened. Mr. Palmer in his anxiety to get quickly to help his lordship did not notice some wire netting under the broken fence, over this he fell right on to the horse’s head, this so startled him he got up without any kicking or plunging, releasing his rider. Help was called, as evidently Lord William was badly hurt; on a stretcher they carried the poor sufferer to a neighbouring house, where he was examined, but in the stress and hurry a wrong diagnosis was arrived at. Mr. Palmer telegraphed to London for a specialist, and to his local doctor at Dorking, then a medical man who happened to be present and Mr. Palmer took him home, where the local doctor was awaiting them and shortly afterwards the specialist from town arrived. It was then discovered that his pelvis had been broken, so his suffering can be well imagined; they had been considerably augmented I hear at the house he was first carried into with the kindly but terribly mistaken endeavour to pull off his boots instead of cutting them off. Mr. Palmer says he shall never forget the agonies that were suffered and yet not a murmur or word of impatience, not even a groan from the martyr. He was most anxious his wife should not be shocked with the news, as an interesting event was looked forward to in the early spring, and she was at the time resting. The news was carefully kept from her until the doctors had done their work. He was bound up and put to bed, where of course he remained for some time hovering between life and death. One day when his doctors hoped he had turned the corner and was going to recover, they told him he was with luck going to recover, but that 99 out of a 100 with broken pelvis bones did not. As they were leaving the room they heard Lord Bill laughing, seeing nothing to laugh at they asked what amused him, he replied, “Oh nothing, I was only thinking of the other 99 poor devils!”
Certainly Lord William got about again after a time, but he was never the same man, his pluck and spirit were still unquenchable, but his powers of physical resistance were shattered. He tired more easily and did not feel up to much exertion; he got up too soon, being anxious to attend the funeral of his sister-in-law, Blanche Lady Waterford, to whom he was greatly attached. This was February 22nd, 1897. Everybody tried to dissuade him, fearing it might throw him back, but he would go.
Lord William was at his best when telling stories against himself; here is one of them. He had a party in the house for covert shooting, he did not care very much for the sport himself, and had not done much of it, though he enjoyed a day at the time. He used to leave the arranging and managing of the shoots chiefly to Mr. Palmer. One of these shooting parties was being arranged and he told Mr. Palmer to bring his young son whom he was sure would enjoy a day with the pheasants. The little lad was about twelve, and his name was Spencer, he stood mostly by Lord William during the day. When he went home at night having had a very happy day, he asked his father if he ought not to write and thank Lord William for letting him see the shooting, to which his father replied, “Certainly.”
“What shall I say, father?” asked the boy.
“Oh, you must write your own letter, you are quite old enough for that,” so off he went, wrote the letter and posted it.
Next morning when everybody was assembled at breakfast at the Deepdene before another day’s shoot, Lord Bill entered holding a letter in his hand, and after making some jokes about his own prowess with the gun and he feared his merits were not fully appreciated by his friends, said, “Listen to this, the opinion of one of my young friends,” and he read:
“Dear Lord William,
I have enjoyed to-day very much, I think you shot very well. I noticed you generally killed the birds with the second barrel.
The most successful of Lord William’s horses in 1896 were Diakka, Peveril of the Peak Plate being his greatest triumph; Berzak the Newmarket First Spring Two Year Old Stakes, and in the Clearwell Stakes he ran a dead heat with Goletta, on whom odds were laid. Nonsuch won two small races.
LORD WILLIAM—IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY
LORD WILLIAM AND HIS SON BILLY
On February 4th, 1897, a son was born to the William Beresfords; at first he was very delicate, no doubt owing to the anxiety his mother suffered when Lord William had his accident in December, 1896, so small and delicate was he that he was put into an incubator for a short time, fearing a breath might blow him away; now he is a six-footer, so his nursing and care answered. He was named William Warren de la Poer. Both parents were devoted to their child, who was very like his father. When Lord William was driving his wife on the coach and was going rather faster than she liked (she being very nervous) and remonstrating he used to say, “Oh, I thought you would be in a hurry to get back to the boy!” As the baby grew older Lord Marcus used to tease its father by saying, “The child does not know the difference between you and me,” but baby did and always chose to go to Lord William.
BRINGS TOD SLOAN TO ENGLAND
Engagement of Tod Sloan as Jockey—Beresford Family Affection—Caiman Wins Classic Race—Democrat and His Races—A Tip for the “Blues”—Accident to Sloan—His Downfall—Five Years’ Racing and Winnings in Stakes Alone—Volodyovski Bought—At Liverpool When Ambush II Won the Grand National
We are now dealing with 1897, when Tod Sloan was introduced to the British public by Lord William, who had been keeping an eye on the lad’s performances in America, observing that in 1895 he had 442 mounts, and won 132 races, in California four races being won in a day. In consequence of this and what he was told of the lad, his lordship sent a cable asking the jockey to come over here as he had some useful horses to be ridden. The years 1897-1898-1899 and 1900 were great for the Beresford stable.
Sloan was for several years much in evidence, so it may be worth while to pause a moment and introduce him to those of my readers who have either forgotten or never known anything about him. His real name was James Forman Sloan, when a very small boy he had been adopted by people named Blauser, who thinking they were being witty, called him “Toad,” because he was so tiny, this by degrees condensed itself into Tod, and Tod Sloan it remained to the end of the chapter.
In America Sloan had been riding for Mr. W. C. Whitney, who released him to ride for Lord William, saying he should very likely be in England himself before long. As a matter of fact he arrived at much the same time as the jockey, and met Lord William for the first time at Newmarket, where Sloan introduced him to his lordship, the outcome of this introduction being they became partners. At this time Jakes Pincus was training Lord William’s horses, later Huggins, who came over with Mr. Lorillard, reigned in his stead. Pincus was another American; he had not been long in this country, yet he was the man who trained the only American horse that ever won the Derby, if my memory is to be trusted. Iroquois was the horse. The man was a bit of a jockey himself, I have been told.
Mr. Cuthbert was secretary to Lord William’s stable at that time, later I believe he went to Newmarket in the employ of Mr. George Lambton.
Sloan was one of those fortunate jockeys who can eat what they like without putting on weight, very different from some other jockeys of that date. Fred Archer, for instance, who had to breakfast off hot castor oil and a slice of thin toast with a view to keeping his weight down, he dared not dine with friends, as owing to dieting so rigidly he felt he was a wet blanket at a feast. Poor fellow, in his endeavours to ride 8 st. 7 lbs., he became a wreck very early in life, the wonder was he lived as long as he did. It will be remembered at the age of thirty he felt he had had enough and took his own life. Though much liked and perhaps the most popular of jockeys he was severe with his mounts.
Sloan was fond of animals and gentle with them, Mornington Cannon also, and they seem to have achieved equal success. Archer’s seat was the opposite of Sloan’s, for he sat well back, while Sloan it was introduced that peculiar monkey up a stick seat which became more or less the fashion amongst the American jockeys. Archer was very, very canny with his money, which at times used to annoy people, Sloan on the other hand was too generous and let other people help him to spend his earnings almost too freely. Cannon liked riding waiting races, while Sloan liked to get away and come right through. There was one occasion certainly when Cannon waited a little too long with Flying Fox, not giving himself time to get home, but he was a good judge of pace.
Sloan’s seat used to be much commented on when first he came over to this country, people thought he rode with very short stirrups, but he did not really, it was the crouching along the neck of the horse when going fast which gave him that appearance. He attributed much of his success to this attitude as it gave less resistance to the wind, therefore helpful to the horses.
Sloan entirely agreed with me on one point, which I have already expressed in my book Women in the Hunting Field, namely that horses will not tread on you when down if they can possibly help it. He went so far as to say they “would not unless pulled into it.”
Lord William used to say Sloan had no luck unless he was there, and really it seemed like it. When Lord Bill lost a race he had been hoping and expecting to win his face was a study, he had marvellous self-control, and beyond growing very white showed no sign of feeling and was always most generous to the unhappy and often equally disappointed jockey.
Lord William thought he had a great horse in St. Cloud II. I fear he did not fulfil his owner’s expectations, though certainly he was a great horse, but it was in size, he stood seventeen hands.
The largest stakes Lord William ever went for was probably over Sandia in the Cambridgeshire. Either St. Cloud or Sandia ought to have won easily. Lord William and Sloan were under the impression they had won with Sandia, but Mr. Robinson, the judge, was under the impression they had not, but that is an old story now. At the time there was a good deal of feeling about it.
Sandia won the old Cambridgeshire in the Autumn of 1897, and Diakka won the Duke of York Stakes at Kempton Park, for which he started favourite.
Lord William found time to go to York and help his brother, Lord Charles, now Lord Beresford, who was standing in the Conservative interest against Mr. Furniss. Lord Marcus also went to give a helping hand. In Lord Beresford’s own book he gives some amusing accounts of his brother’s smart and witty repartees to questions asked by the electors. There was a good deal of excitement in the town at the time. Lord Beresford won by eleven votes, rather a near thing. It was too much for the poor Lord Mayor, he died the same night from excitement and strain.
The three brothers were very happy working together over this election, the affection they had felt for one another in youth had not been estranged, they were still devoted to one another, it was always charming to hear them speak of their relatives. What does this family affection spring from I wonder? It is not often met with; take two well-known families the Scotch Gordons and the Irish Waterfords. The Gordons according to their own account could as brothers never agree, if one told a story of what he had done at cricket, racing, or some such thing, and one of his brothers happened to be present he would flatly contradict him, telling him he did not believe it, and he was telling tarra-diddles; followed of course by a free fight, very often even when staying in friends’ houses. Once speaking of their quarrelsomeness Lord Granville Gordon, commonly called Granny, said, “You know our family is not like the Beresfords one bit, they are always full of praise of one another and inseparable. If you were to say to Lord Marcus or Markey as we call him, ‘That was a great thing you brought off the other day,’ the reply would certainly be something of this sort, ‘Oh yes, but you should see my brother Bill, he can do ten times better,’ or ‘You should see Charlie, no one can touch him’; the same with Lord Charles, it is always how much better his brothers could do things than himself.”
An uncle of mine, the Rev. Francis Gooch, used to fish at Ford Abbey in Northumberland by the kind permission of Lady Waterford. One day when Lord Charles was up there and he was speaking to my uncle he said, “Do you know my brother Bill?” The reply being in the negative Lord Charles said, “Then bedad you don’t know the finest man in the world.” It is really a beautiful and uncommon thing to have lived through the great part of their allotted years, knowing each other intimately, loving each other tenderly, without one spark of jealous fault-finding, superiority, or littleness. The pity there are not more families equally attached, they do not know what they miss; looking back through the sketch book of their lives, that family affection has added warmth and beautiful colouring to many of its pictures, to be recalled and lived through again when the day is far spent and night is near.
In 1898 Lord William owned many winners entered in the name of one or other of the two partners. Caiman as a two year old won the Middle Park Plate, value £2775, Sloan riding; beating the Duke of Westminster’s Flying Fox ridden by Mornington Cannon. I am able to give a beautiful photograph of Caiman at the starting-post the day he won this race. It will be noticed Sloan did not ride very short, as I have already pointed out. It will also be noticed his hand is up to his mouth, this was a habit or trick of his, he always put his hand to his mouth when a horse was walking or in a very slow pace. Whether he had any theories about it or not I do not know.
TOD SLOAN IN LORD WILLIAM’S COLOURS
CAIMAN AT THE POST FOR THE MIDDLE PARK PLATE THE DAY HE BEAT FLYING FOX. TOD SLOAN IN LORD WILLIAM’S COLOURS
Flying Fox was a horse that stood out prominently in racing records, not only as a triple crown winner, but as the horse that fetched the highest price ever paid at a sale by auction for a racehorse, namely £39,375, Kingsclere and Prince Palatine being bought by private contract by Mr. J. B. Joel at £40,000, a price that would perhaps not have been reached under the hammer.
In the Two Thousand Guineas value £4250 Caiman only ran second, Sloan up, Flying Fox winning this time, Cannon riding. For the St. Leger at Doncaster value £4050 Flying Fox again won, Caiman second, both ridden by the same jockey as in the previous races.
In 1900 Caiman only won the Lingfield Park Stakes value £2420, his wins, however, as a two year old in 1898 were £3557, as a three year old £3884 and as a four year old £2420, making the pleasing total of £9861.
The chief races won in 1898 were the Clearwell Stakes and Middle Park Plate by Caiman, Esher Stakes by Diakka, Thirty-fifth Biennial at Ascot by Sandia, Exeter Stakes by Dominie. Mykka the Lancaster Nursery First October Two Year Old Stakes, Prendergast Stakes, and Sandown Great Sapling Plate. On September 30th, Sloan won the Bretby Welter on Draco for Lord William by six lengths, the next race the Scurry Nursery on Manatee, the next race again the Rous Memorial Stakes on Landrail by three lengths, another on Libra, by two lengths, the Newmarket St. Leger on Galashiels by a head, making five wins and a second out of seven mounts, not a bad day for one stable.
Huggins, who was training the horses, lived at Heath House, the former home of the great Dawson trainers, “Mat,” and after him his nephew George. Heath House will always remain most famous in connection with the name of the uncle, as most of “Mat” Dawson’s greatest classic efforts came from that home; for the late Lord Falmouth, Duke of Portland, Lord Hastings of Melton fame, and lastly crowned with the success of Lord Rosebery’s Ladas.
The historic Democrat now came on the scenes in 1899. An American bred horse, his sire being Sensation, his dam Equality. This handsome and gentle chestnut with four white legs won no less than seven out of eleven races as a two year old, worth £12,939, including the Coventry Stakes at Ascot, the National Breeders’ Foal Stakes at Sandown, and the Middle Park Plate and Dewhurst Plate. The light blue and black cap was doing good business.
A record of all Democrat’s races may be interesting:
TWO YEAR OLD RECORD, 1899
May 1st. Great Surrey Breeders’ Foal Plate, Epsom; 4th (Sloan).
May 5th. Royal Two Year Old Plate, Kempton Park; 2nd (Sloan), £200.
May 11th. Bedford Plate, Newmarket; 2nd (Sloan), £50.
June 13th. Coventry Stakes, Ascot; 1st (Sloan), £1,826, beating H.R.H. Prince of Wales’s horse, Diamond Jubilee, ridden by Watts.
July 1st. Hurst Park Foal Plate, Hurst Park; 1st (Sloan), £1,135.
July 15th. National Breeders’ Produce Stakes, Sandown Park; 1st (Sloan), £4,357.
Sept. 5th. Champagne Stakes, Doncaster; 1st (Sloan), £1,310.
Sept. 29th. Rous Memorial Stakes, Newmarket; 1st (Sloan), £568.
Oct. 6th. The Imperial Stakes, Kempton Park; 2nd (Sloan), £300.
Oct 14th. Middle Park Plate, Newmarket; 1st (Sloan), £2,305, beating Prince of Wales’s Diamond Jubilee.
Oct. 26th. The Dewhurst Plate, Newmarket, Houghton; 1st (Sloan), £1,432; Prince of Wales’s Diamond Jubilee 2nd.
THREE YEAR OLD RUNNING, 1900
May 30th. Epsom Derby.
Democrat ran but was not placed, the race being won by Diamond Jubilee, but this time Sloan was not riding Democrat, but one called Disguise for another owner, and was severely reprimanded for this breach of Rule 140, forbidding crossing.
June 14th. The New Biennial, Ascot. Democrat not placed; ridden by Weldon. Sloan rode the winner, Courlan.
Oct. 9th. The Royal Stakes, Newmarket; 1st (L. Reiff), £586. This was Democrat’s last win; he ran later at Liverpool for the Autumn Cup, but was not placed.
I am under the impression that the last time Lord William’s colours were seen on a racecourse was at Manchester, when his Billow II, bred in Australia, won the Autumn Plate, ridden by Reiff. Jolly Tar won six races in 1900.
The year Democrat won the Coventry Stakes at Ascot (1899) Lord William was standing outside the “Blues’” tent after luncheon talking to some of his friends, amongst others Sir Claude de Crespigny, discussing the merits of the different horses, when he was heard to say apparently as much to himself as his friends, “It’s all very well their making the Prince’s horse (Diamond Jubilee) favourite; mine has just as good a chance of winning.” This was repeated to some of the “Blues,” who had not been having a very good time over the Trial Stakes, adding, the Royal horse is at evens and Bill’s at three’s, they selected the latter and landed the long odds. After this they told Sir Claude if he had another good tip like that for the next day they hoped he would come and have luncheon again.
Sloan was never a great admirer of Democrat, why I do not know, as the horse proved himself one of the best of his years.
Riding at Kempton in 1898 a horse reared over with Sloan, hurting his pelvis bone. Seeing what pain the man was in and knowing from experience something about it, Lord William said, “Your racing is done for to-day, my little man.” “But,” said Sloan, “who then is going to ride your Democrat?” Lord William replied, “I shall put Cannon up.” This was anguish to Sloan, who was somewhat jealous of Cannon, but he may have found consolation in the result, as the horse did not win. His owner thought it was due to the change of jockey, horses are very susceptible to any change of hands.
Sloan always considered the greatest achievement of his life was beating Flying Fox on Caiman in the Middle Park Plate, when Cannon, as referred to earlier, waited just a little too long before letting Flying Fox out, not leaving time to pick up and win.
In 1899 Lord William won his first and only classic race with his Sibola at Newmarket in the One Thousand, Sloan riding. There were great rejoicings in the Beresford camp. Sibola ought to have won the Oaks that year, but got a bad start. Some people thought it was due to a fit of temper on Sloan’s part, others attributed the defeat to Sloan, but giving other reasons; be that as it may, it was a great disappointment to the horse’s owner.
Sloan was altogether getting out of favour about now. At Ascot he got himself mixed up with a waiter and a champagne bottle, resulting in Lord William very kindly trying to pacify the piqued waiter. This took some doing, but was eventually managed to the tune of several hundreds, to save scandal and trouble. The Stewards enquired into the matter and exonerated Sloan. In honesty to the jockey, I am pleased to be able to state, when he found out what Lord William had done for him, he insisted on the amount being deducted from his retaining fees.
Lord William was undoubtedly Sloan’s best friend, being exceedingly generous and kind to him, but latterly he gave his mounts to Weldon, the two Reiffs, and others, being disappointed with Sloan and fearing he had got into the hands of those not likely to improve him, and certainly about that time a number of desperate American gamblers graced this country with their presence and heavy ready money investments which put temptation into a jockey’s way. If a jockey only bets on his own mount all may be well, but unfortunately they get tempted sometimes to bet on others, while such a thing has been heard of as a jockey squaring or thinking he has squared the rest of his confrères in the race; and then failed.
The final blow came to Sloan over the Cambridgeshire of 1900, over which there were many unpleasant stories afloat in connection with his betting. It was a thousand pities, for he did so well when first he came over to this country. Lord William was very pleased with his riding, and many people had been most kind to him.
At one time, I think it must have been at Doncaster in 1899, the Prince of Wales told Lord William he should like Sloan to ride for him during the coming season, however, circumstances forbade this. Codoman was the horse Sloan was riding in the Cambridgeshire when he got into trouble over betting. Lord William again did all he could for Sloan, but the Jockey Club were firm and advised Sloan not to apply for a licence to ride during 1901. Of course he was acting against the rules in betting and he knew it, but I do not think Sloan was alone by any manner of means in this misdemeanour; again, I say the pity of it, for he was a great master of his method in the saddle; he always maintained his crouching seat over the horse’s neck that had much to do with his success. Unfortunately he was a perfect idiot where his own real interests were concerned. Here again he was not alone, many of us are quite brilliant in looking after other people’s affairs and yet make shocking hashes of our own.
It will, I think, have been clear to the readers all through these chapters how very generous Lord William was to all who worked with or for him; also indeed to many with absolutely no claim on his large and kindly heart. Huggins, his trainer, was another recipient of his open-handed generosity. At Newmarket he was a favourite amongst the residents and Lord William had a great liking for him, but I doubt if it is generally known that over and above other fees and charges Lord William allowed him 10 per cent on all stakes won. This would mean a comfortable income if the stable was lucky. A glance at the value of the stakes won between 1896 and 1900 will prove this.
Year. No. of wins. Value.
1896 12 £5,186
1897 13 7,867
1898 16 8,029
1899 69 42,736½
1900 48 24,522
Total 158 £88,340½
In giving the above I am leaning heavily on the safe side, as there were some wins of which I do not know the value, so cannot count them in the total.
Lord William was still hoping to win the Derby, and believed at last he was “going to do the trick” in 1901, for in 1900 he leased from Lady Meux, a two year old horse named Volodyovski for his racing career. For the comfort of my readers I may here state that owing to the horse’s name being such a mouthful, and the difficulty experienced by many in pronouncing it at all, he soon became known as Voly, which will answer my purpose very well. This horse won five races out of the last six he ran for Lord William, namely the Windsor Castle Stakes, Rous Memorial at Goodwood, Newmarket Stud Produce Stakes, Rous Memorial at Newmarket, other winners besides Caiman being Jolly Tar and Jiffy II.
It will be remembered it was Diamond Jubilee that prevented Lord William heading the list of winners in 1900, and Flying Fox in 1899. But as the following shows it was a near thing.
1899, Duke of Westminster, 1st £43,965—Lord William 2nd £42,736½. 1900, Prince of Wales 1st £29,585—Lord William 2nd £24,585.
Race meetings of all sorts and kinds attracted Lord William, whether running horses of his own or not; he was present at Liverpool when the Prince of Wales won with Ambush II, and his own horse Easter Ogue ran seventh. The scene outside the weighing-room door as His Royal Highness awaited the return of his winning horse baffles description; it was difficult to keep a clear space for Anthony to dismount; all were so anxious to congratulate the Prince. One of the earliest to express his pleasure and to congratulate him was the subject of these memories, and it so happened that the camera man managed to squeeze into the small space and photograph the King as he met the horse, just as he left Lord William.
Always when flat racing was over Lord William turned his attention to chasing, which he had liked from his earliest days. I remember standing with him once in a crowd at a big “jump” meeting, and saying to him, “I suppose you have always been too occupied to make a study of the faces round you at one of these meetings?” He replied, “No indeed, I have not been too occupied, but I do not like to look, sometimes a race means so much to a man.” I remarked I thought a certain friend standing near us, and owner of the favourite, was looking rather pale and anxious, but he said, “Oh he’s all right, an old hand at the game,” nevertheless when the favourite was over the last fence I heard a big sigh and when the cheering began after the horse had won by nearly a length the owner collapsed. I wonder what would have happened if he had lost? Lord William told me afterwards that if he had not won that race he would have been absolutely ruined. The faces of a crowd on a racecourse, especially at a “jump” meeting, is an interesting study and instructive.
It is painful to watch the restless hands and nervous twitchings of those to whom it means “up” or “down.” Some of course go who delight in a fair race when the horses are not ridden to death, that is to say never again able to meet such a supreme moment; people who have nothing of any consequence in any of the races, or who, like the late James Lowther, seldom or never bet at all. Then again there are the curiously constituted folk who flock round the most dangerous jumps, presumably, to witness any accident that may occur; some people revel in seeing accidents. One man I have known now for many years, has never to my knowledge, been moved to mirth unless someone has hurt themselves, then he indulges in a waistcoat contortion which answers for laughter, his mouth spreads slowly across his face, but his eyes take no part in his merriment.
Some of the accounts that appeared in the papers from time to time relating to Lord William’s achievements were very funny. The Sporting Times some years ago referred to this in one of their issues I am told, as follows: “Does Lord William Beresford read the Hornet? Probably not, but if he does he must be surprised to find that he is the third son of John, fourth Marquis of Waterloo. Why not also first cousin of Viscount Vauxhall, and distantly related to the Countess of Charing Cross?”
Lord William’s health about now was causing some anxiety, and he was persuaded to try Homburg where he had been benefited several times before, but on this occasion he came back looking worse than when he went.
LORD WILLIAM AND LORD MARCUS BERESFORD
The last time I saw his lordship at Homburg, the Prince of Wales, Sir George Wombwell and Colonel Stanley Clarke were being greatly amused at some of his jokes, and the stories he was telling against himself.
Shall we ever see his like again?
“1900 … and Feels It”—Affection for the 9th Lancers—Help for a Brother Mason—Those Who Loved Him—Friends, not Sight-Seers—A Treasured Gift—Sale of Horses at Newmarket—Purchasers and Prices—Fate of Democrat—Volodyovski Wins the Derby—Too Late—Fierce Ownership Dispute—The Law Settles It—Broken Head of a small Beresford
During most of 1900 Lord William suffered at intervals from his old complaint contracted in India, namely dysentery, and it was taking all his strength away; that he was feeling very sadly I know, and on a photograph he was signing for a friend he wrote “W. B., 1900, … and feels it.”
At times he was observed sitting resting before dinner, a most unusual thing for him to do. Unfortunately in December he ate some game that was too high for his delicate state of health, this set up peritonitis, and, in spite of the best advice and most tender nursing, he passed away on the 28th December with a smile for those around him, to the inexpressible grief of all who knew him well, and the sincere regret of all who were lucky enough to have met him.
The specialist, Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, came down from town several times to see the invalid, and at one time there seemed to be a ray of hope, only to be dashed to the ground again, for the poor, gallant, brave heart for the first time in his life failed him and refused to work any longer. His last race was run, and surely the prize must be his for his many acts of charity not only in kind, but goodness and mercy.
We all knew in his lifetime how generous he was, no begging letter was ever left unanswered; none who begged, whether deserving or not, received a harsh word from him; he was generous to a fault. He never could resist anyone who said they had been in his old regiment the 9th Lancers, though I have grave doubts as to whether some of the suppliants had ever been in the regiment at all. I know that some who begged from him had a good deal of method in laying out their plan of campaign, and waited until Mr. Palmer, who attended to business matters, had gone home, before going to ask for Lord William, knowing that if Mr. Palmer was there the case would be thoroughly enquired into, while if they saw his lordship they knew they could work upon his tender and kind heart. I have been told the following story is true.
Lord William was a Mason, and a brother Mason wanted to see him, and as he had a favour to ask waited until Mr. Palmer had gone home, and in the evening begged to see Lord William who at once interviewed his brother Mason, a tradesman, who told a long tale with a plentiful use of pocket-handkerchief to his eyes; he came away with a cheque for £1000.
Truly life is a book of many pages, not by any means easily read, and it seems all wrong that such generosity should be imposed on, but Lord William always said his sympathies were with all sinners, and he liked to give everyone the benefit of a doubt.
It does not fall to the lot of everyone to be so sincerely mourned, for his wife adored him, his child loved him, his brothers and relations loved him, his servants worshipped him, the old people round Waterford and Curraghmore, to whom it was a red-letter day when Lord William paid them a visit, which he enjoyed as much as they did; the old pensioners at the Royal Hospital, Dublin, who had many times been made happy by a visit from him.
When the sad news became known, messages of sympathy and condolence poured in from the highest in the land to some of the lowliest.
It was not until after his death, when his papers were being attended to, that the extent of his goodness and charity was fully known.
I will not dwell on this sad time, for there is no language great enough for the expression of our mental emotions, and no language that can express the dignity of great grief.
Lord William was laid to rest in the family vault at Clonagam Church, and the whole route from the boat to the Clonagam was wonderful; every little child wanted to pay a last tribute to their friend, the road was packed and lined with those who cared, not sightseers.
Among the four waggon loads of wreathes, crosses, and other flower tokens of respect and affection, was one from his brother Lord Charles, “In memory of lovable, chivalrous Bill, from his broken-hearted brother, Charles.”
Everyone mourned for Lord William, even the cabmen in London, Dublin and elsewhere. The newspapers were full of “Our Bill” and amongst the many touching references to his death, I think the following is one of the nicest.
Lord William Beresford
Born July 20th, 1847, died December 30th, 1900
The old grey year is stricken down—and lying
(The days are dark, the trees stand gaunt and bare)
Stretches its hand and takes from us—while dying—
One whom we ill could spare.
Soldier and sportman, no fond hand could save you
From the old robber bearing you away,
England who once the cross for valour gave you,
Honours you with tears to-day.
What is the epitaph which shall be found him?
Let this story of his lost life tell,
All hearts that knew him to-day around him
Whisp’ring, “Kind friend, farewell.”
Erin, a vigil o’er her dead son keeping,
Now takes him softly, sadly to her breast,
Under her grassy mantle hides him sleeping,
And gives him his long rest.
Sporting Times, January 5th, 1901.
Ballyhooley was really the nom-de-plume of Mr. Bob Martin, who wrote the Irish humorous songs for the Gaiety and was a great man on the staff of the Sporting Times. In one of the weekly papers appeared the following:
“The regret of all for Lord William Beresford. A Bill that everyone honoured, but alas none can meet.”
In another paper someone signing themselves “Roy” wrote:
A fearless soldier and a sportman bold,
Beloved by all; gallant to foe and friend,
Brave, true-hearted, as our knights of old,
A V.C. hero! noble to the end.
I always thought it was illuminating the way, though Lord William never met his wife’s mother, he felt it would be a pleasure to her, and his duty to write regularly giving account of his wife and son’s doings, and so forth; ending in a sincere attachment on both sides, and his mother-in-law heaped beautiful and costly presents on him, sent from America.
Speaking, or rather writing of presents reminds me that in a cabinet where I keep my many treasures and presents collected during my travels, there rests in one corner a much used and much mended hunting crop bearing the inscription, “From Bill, Xmas 1889.” It likewise has seen its last day’s hunting, for it is tender with age and use, and too much valued to run any risks. I feel as if I could write for weeks of all his kindness and loyal friendship, and then not exhaust my memories of them. There is one more charming trait I should like to mention, namely his great consideration and kindness to his servants; when there had been a house full with many ladies’ maids and valets he always asked if they had had a good time, and his orders were that all the servants should have everything they wanted, nothing was too good for them. One who had served him said to me once, “It is a pleasure to do anything for him; he is the kindest master and friend any servant ever had.”
On January 23rd, 1901, Lord William’s horses were sold at Newmarket, and it makes me sad to write of the break up of his stable; his horses had been such a pleasure to him all his life and now they were all to be scattered far and wide. Had he lived, many of them would have changed hands at times, no doubt, in the ordinary course of events, but he would have voiced the orders. Now even at the sale there was a gloom, a sadness for the cheery voice that was gone. It seems rather hard that we should be brought into this world without our wishes being consulted, and hurried out of it without our wishes being consulted, and as Emerson says, “We seem to be whipped through the world hacks of invisible riders.”
My readers may be interested to know who bought the horses and the prices they fetched, so I give the list. See pages 322-3.
Fifth on the list is good old Democrat, who still has quite a history attached to him. Mr. Joel bought him for 910 guineas, and while his property he ran his last race, at Kempton Park on May 11th, 1901, ridden by Wood, but was not placed, after this he was kept in peace and plenty until the autumn, when he again renewed his acquaintance with Mr. Tattersall’s hammer on October 13th, then Mr. Marsh, the trainer of the King’s horses, gave 290 guineas for him; chiefly I fancy for old association’s sake; so the horse went to Egerton House at Newmarket. One day the late Lord Kitchener was going round the stable, and I think I am right in saying King Edward VII was there at the time; when they came to Democrat Lord Kitchener remarked on his good looks, and that he was the size and make for a man like himself with long legs. “Yes, my lord,” said Mr. Marsh, “he would suit you to take out to India as a charger if you will accept him as a gift.”
Lord Kitchener was not a great horseman at any time, and liked something very quiet so that he need pay no attention to his mount and devote it all to the business in hand; this he explained to Mr. Marsh, asking if he thought the horse was quiet enough, and was reassured by being told Mr. Marsh’s daughter used often to ride him when exercising on the heath. A few days later when Lord Kitchener was speaking to the Duke of Portland about Mr. Marsh’s generous gift, and expressing doubts about a race-horse being a suitable charger, his Grace suggested Democrat being sent to Welbeck to be tried there in the riding school with a view to his usefulness as a charger. The horse’s manners were found to require very little polishing, so to India he went, becoming a great favourite with his master. An unusual end to a race-horse’s career, but a very happy and a most useful one. When Mr. Marsh bought him he was no longer considered any use for racing, no use for the stud to which so many race-horses go, and I am not quite sure he was not just a wee bit gone in the wind. However, this great winner of races after landing £12,939 in stakes became Lord Kitchener’s favourite charger, and was ridden by him at the Delhi Durbar and Coronation Procession of King Edward. Democrat bore himself very proudly in India, winning several prizes at the Indian Horse Shows. Lord Kitchener’s and Democrat’s name will go down to history together, for in Calcutta there now stands a statue of them sent out from England in 1913. A good and honourable man on a good and honourable horse. I have been told that Democrat died in India shortly before Lord Kitchener left the country.
HORSES IN TRAINING
Name. Sire. Dam. Purchaser. Guineas.
Berzack, U.S.A. Sensation Belphœbe Lord Kesteven 320
Billow II, Australian Atlantic Tickle Mr. D. Cooper 380
Caiman, U.S.A. Locochatchee Happy Day Mr. Marsh for Lord Wolverton 2,500
Jolly Tar, U.S.A. Sailor Prince Joy Mr. W. M. G. Singer 2,200
Democrat, U.S.A. Sensation Equality Mr. J. B. Joel 910
Old Buck II, U.S.A. Sensation Magnetic Mr. R. Croker 300
THREE YEAR OLDS
Brelogue, U.S.A. Favordale Bibelot Mr. R. Croker 320
Zip, U.S.A. Owas Telic Doe Mr. R. Gore 310
Nahlband Wolf’s Crag Under the Rose Mr. E. Dresden 1,500
Bronzewing, U.S.A. Goldfinch Reclare Mr. J. Hare 320
Alien, U.S.A. Henry of Navarre Kate Allen Mr. J. B. Joel 1,300
Teuton, U.S.A. Hanover Bessy Hinckley Mr. R. Gore 210
Yellow Bird, U.S.A. Goldfinch Miss Modred Lord Carnarvon 210
Yap, U.S.A. Dandy Dinmont Lizzie Mr. S. B. Joel 410
Choctaw, U.S.A. Onondaga Henrietta Mr. J. Widger 210
Moorspate, U.S.A. Candlemas Belle B. Mr. E. Dresden 860
Sweet Dixie, U.S.A. Sir Dixie Brenda Mr. R. Croker 200
Fore Top, U.S.A. Top Gallant Flavia Mr. W. Lewison 45
TWO YEAR OLDS
The Buck Buckingham Compromise Lord Carnarvon 300
Loveite St. Fruoquin Orle Mr. G. Faber 1,050
Charles Lever, U.S.A. The Bard Equiporse Mr. R. Croker 100
Vendale, U.S.A. The Bard Water Lily Mr. R. Croker 160
Albanian, U.S.A. The Bard Loot Mr. R. Croker 90
Bay Filly, U.S.A. The Bard Roulette Mr. W. Smith 175
Ouilla, U.S.A. The Bard Foxtail Mr. G. Farrar 115
Drooping Martagon Penserose Capt. Featherstonhaugh 55
BROOD MARES, ETC.
Manister Diakka Tacitus Mr. J. A. McNeal 20
Brown Yearling Worcester Manister H. Von Grundherr 7
Famish Wolf Crag Cearalin Mr. G. Pritchard 20
King Cophetua, Yearling Colt Florizel II Cerealia J. D. Wordell 310
Ch. Yearling Filly Amphion Philatelist Mr. H. King 12
STEEPLECHASE HORSES IN TRAINING
Lord Arrovale Tacitus Lady Arrovale Mr. Russel Monroe 380
Servias St. Serf Ayesha Ayagile H. Escott 80
Uncle Jack Ascetic Mayo Mr. Joel 3,000
Harvesting Barkizan Harvest Moon H. Escott 175
Brandon Carlton Miss Prim Mr. J. R. Eastwood 300
Orange River Hackler Capri Mr. G. Parrott 150
Patrick’s Ball Workington Duty Dance Lord Rothschild 310
Waltager Saraband Alice Mr. G. Parrott 25
Brown Study Tacitus Brown Beauty Major E. Loder 100
Grand Total £19,439
At King George’s coronation, Lord Kitchener rode another great race-horse Moifaa, the Liverpool winner in 1904, while the property of Mr. Spencer Gollan. The horse was afterwards sold to King Edward.
When Derby time came round again in 1901, Volodyovski fulfilled Lord William’s hopes and predictions, though, alas, not in his name, for the rules of racing are that death cancels the lease of a horse, therefore the luck of that Derby fell to Mr. W. C. Whitney, and I do not think there was a soul on that racecourse, including Mr. Whitney himself, who did not wish Lord William had been there, and the win his.
Some few weeks after Lord William’s death there was a good deal of discussion and some heated arguments between Lady William and Lady Meux as to the ownership of the horse, Lady William maintaining it was her late husband’s horse and therefore now hers; Lady Meux declared it was hers, and the Jockey Club were at last asked to decide; they adopted the usual course of leaving the disputants to have it settled by the law of the land. It came for hearing, fortunately, before that fine old sporting Judge Grantham, I say fortunately because he was perhaps in a position to give confidence to both parties in his judgment, owing to his racing knowledge and experience. He gave it as his opinion Lord William’s death cancelled the lease of the horse.
Lady Meux had bred Voly, being the only woman who has ever bred a Derby winner, and she was so excited at his winning that the moment he passed the winning-post she was out of her grand-stand box and claimed the right not usual to ladies of entering the weighing-in enclosure, and she then followed “Zee pet,” as she called him, down the course, through the crowd to the saddling paddock a good quarter of a mile away and then untied the little bit of blue and brown ribbon mixed up in the horse’s headgear, which he had carried throughout the race. While patting and caressing the horse she excitedly exclaimed, “It is my horse and I want the ribbons for my museum,” which I have not seen, but have been told it is a very entertaining place full of a variety of interesting things, now in the possession of Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux, well known as Ladysmith Lambton.
Mr. Whitney’s colours were similar to Lord William’s, being the same light blue jacket, but with a brown cap, which when at some distance looked very like Lord William’s black.
It may be wondered why in the course of these memories I have made no mention of Lord Delaval, the youngest Beresford brother; it is because he decided to seek fortune abroad and settled down in Mexico; the reason for this exodus being to win the object of his affection for his bride, which rested on whether he fulfilled his promise to make a fortune first. It is tragic that when nearing the point that he could return with his promise fulfilled, he was killed in a railway accident in the United States on December 26th, 1906.
With the usual Beresford spirit he had thrown his whole attention and energy into his work, and when he died owned 196,000 acres with nine miles of irrigation canals and several large reservoirs, having quickly grasped that what caused failure so often on ranches was want of water, without plenty of which cattle cannot thrive.
Lord William’s eldest brother died in 1895 at the early age of fifty-one; he had been ill a long time, the result of a hunting accident. Lord Bill felt his death very much. Out of these devoted brothers only two are left now, Lord Beresford and Lord Marcus.
Reluctantly I lay down my pen, it has been a pleasure writing of our dear friend, and living through some of the old times again.
I like to remember my earliest experience in First Aid was in patching up the head of a Beresford, a kinsman of Lord William’s and mine, though at the time he was a very small boy aged about eight years. A dear chubby-faced lad whose people lived at Bedale, not far from my old home in Yorkshire. Little Walter Beresford and his brother Henry, grandchildren of Admiral Sir John Beresford on their father’s side and Lord Denman on their mother’s, came to play with my young brother, and Walter took the opportunity to fall from top to bottom of the cellar stone stairs while playing hide and seek, though they were on forbidden ground. I was very proud of my work when I had done patching up the poor little head, and remember how plucky the lad was, but then he was a Beresford and what is born in the bread comes out in the butter. I fear this is not a correct quotation, but will do quite nicely.
Lady William only survived her husband a few years.
Requiescat in pace.
Abbott, Mr., 94, 186, 266;
his unlucky horse, 224
Afghan Chief, The, 179
Agnew, Capt. Q., 266
Agnew, Mr. H. de C., 266
Agra Stable, The, 256
Alexander, Mr. R., 266
Ali Musjid Citadel, Storming of, 73
Allahabad, The thrice run race, 94
Allason, Major, 266
Allan, Mr. J. J., 266, 277
Althorp, Capt. K., 267
Amir of Afghanistan, 178, 179
Anderson, Mr. A. S., 266
Anderson, Mr. G. G., 266
Apcar, Mr. J. G., 252, 264, 267
Appleyard, General, 73
Apostolides, Mr. E. C., 267
Arbuthnot, Mr. J., 267
Archer, Fred, 163, 300
Ardagh, Col. J. C., c.i.e., 267
Arthur, Mr. A., 267
Asian, The, 57
Astley, Sir J., 163
Australian horses stampede, 160
Baden-Powell, Lieut.-Gen. Sir R., 143
Badger, The pet, 26
Baker, Colonel Valentine (afterwards Baker Pasha), 29
Barclay, Mr. P. D., 267
Barrington, The Hon. (afterwards Sir) Eric, 8;
his story of the Tyrol accident, 9
Barlow, Mr. R., 267
Barnes, Mr. F. C., 267
Bates, Mr. R. G., 267
Beaconsfield, Lord, 96
Beasley, Capt. (“Tommy”), 14
Beaver, Col. P. K. L., 267
Bengal Tenancy Act, 177
Beresford, Lady Charles, 154, 156
Beresford, Lord Charles, 303;
meets Lord William at Curraghmore, 18, 19;
the “Brothers’ Race,” 42, 48
Beresford, Sir John, 326
Beresford, Lord Marcus, 234, 254, 285, 293, 302, 303;
meets Lord William at Curraghmore, 18;
Lord Marcus and the “Brothers’ Race,” 42;
Lord William, and the hall porter, 29
Beresford, Lord and Lady Marcus, 292
Beresford, Lady William (formerly Duchess of Marlborough), marriage, 285;
disputes with Lady Meux, 324;
death of Lady William, 327
Beresford, Lord William—
accidents to, 20, 81, 110, 147, 164, 187, 259, 290, 295;
an accomplished whip, 216;
active service, 70, 72, 80;
Annandale racecourse bought, 209;
anthrax at his stables, 248;
A.D.C. to Lord Northbrook, 51;
bad luck, 165;
farewell banquet at Calcutta, 266;
at Bombay meets Lord Charles Beresford, 48;
at Bonn, 8;
a bribe, 221;
the “Brothers’ Race,” 42;
meets his brother again at Curraghmore, 18;
on Sir Redvers Buller’s Staff, 79;
bungalow nearer Viceregal Lodge, 143;
buys Myall King, 226;
a cab incident, 145;
Calcutta paper-chase, 259;
the Cambridgeshire, 302;
on castes of India, 107;
child and the gymkhana, the, 241;
calling with Mr. Charles Lascelles, 49;
and children, 144, 145;
children’s farewell party, 261;
and the children of Dorking, 287;
Cigar Race, The, 147;
a coaching adventure, 291;
commands irregular volunteer cavalry, 82;
a complaint, 225;
congratulated by the Prince of Wales, 90;
conjurer, discomfiture of, 238;
“the courteous,” 126;
at Dr. Renau’s school, 4;
at the Amateur Dramatic Club, 119;
Dramatic Club, the Amateur, re-established, 118;
dines with his mother and the Prince of Wales, 92;
despatch carrying, 73;
disappears “en route,” 140;
and the dissatisfied subaltern, 239;
at Dorking, 283;
drives coach down barrack steps, 24;
Lady Dufferin’s scheme, 211;
at Durban, 80;
battles at Durban, 80;
at the Durbar, 61, 181;
faints at the Durbar, 61;
Durbar souvenirs, 183;
and the economical colonel, 208;
engaged to be married, 284;
at Eton, 4;
and Fleur-de-Lys, 136;
gazetted Colonel and K.C.I.E., 249;
Gloucester House mystery, 191;
guests at Calcutta banquet, 266;
the hall porter and the refrigerator, 29;
and the Hill and Frontier tribes, 69;
horse-training for the Durbar, 219
inherits his money, 21;
invents the umbrella race, 148;
invents the Victoria Cross race, 147;
joins the 9th Lancers, 12;
last race in India, 282;
leaves England, 46;
loses a bet, and how he paid, 109;
Lord Rossmore and the intruder, 39;
and the Maitland-Beresford case, 93;
the man who thought he was King, 197;
as a Mason, 316;
match with Rothschild, 164;
his memory, 218;
Military Secretary to three successive Viceroys, 123, 127, 129;
mistaken identity, 161, 233;
Mr. Moore’s speech at Calcutta banquet, 269;
and his mother-in-law, 319;
and the natives, 150;
parlour fireworks, 190;
a polo accident, 63;
and Ponto, 141;
and Ponto at the wedding, 142;
and the pony, 139;
a quiet corner, 118;
races with Captain McCalmont, 20;
the racing man, 168;
racing receipts, 311;
his racing reputation, 227;
racing rumours, 260;
racing troubles and worries, 166;
racing, 68, 201, 257, 293, 304, 308;
Mr. Lorillard, his new partner, 294;
Durbangah, Maharajah of, 235;
Maharajah of Patiala, 251;
Mr. Monty Stewart, 132;
Mr. Whitney, a new partner, 300;
receives the V.C. from Queen Victoria, 90;
recommended for the V.C., 87;
regimental trophies, 286;
relies on Mr. Palmer, 297;
rescues Mrs. Stuart Menzies, 148;
returns to India, 71, 88, 92;
returns to Ireland, 91;
“rules for the A.D.C.,” 229;
and the runaway carriage, 35;
and the runaway coach, 216;
saves the life of Dr. Perry, 10;
sells his stables, 187;
a serious accident, 295;
shares a bungalow with Captain Clayton, 48;
and soldier’s wife, 193;
some fast trotters, 291;
a son born, 298;
speech at Calcutta banquet, reply to, 275;
State functions, 169;
his tact, 113;
the Tattersall’s sale, 320;
the £1000 card, 21;
his three-year-old record, 306;
and Tod Sloan, 299;
on tour, 170;
his two-year-old records, 305;
a useful clerk, 221;
and viceregal tour programme, 184;
a war trophy, 85;
a well-liked man, 130;
what the Hornet said, 313;
wins the name “Fighting Bill,” 79;
wins the V.C., 86;
with Sir Sam Browne, v.c., 72;
wrestles with Joseph Leeman, 40;
at York, 39;
Beresford, Mr. W. M., 267
Beverley, the Hon. Mr. Justice, c.s., 267
Bignell, Mr. R., 267
Bombay, Government House dinner party, 206
Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, 216
Boteler, Mr. R., 267
Bourdillon, the Hon. J. A., c.s., 267
Bourke, Mr., 240
Brabazon, Capt., 289
Brackenbury, the Hon. Lieut.-General H., c.b., 267
Bradshaw, Surgeon-Major-General, 267
Brasier-Creagh, Capt., a.d.c., 267
Brassey, the Right Hon. the Lord, 267
Brock, Mr. C., 267
Brooke, Mr. W. R., c.i.e., 267
“Brothers’ Race,” The, 42
Browne, Lord Ulick, 57
Browne, Sir Sam, v.c., 72
Brunton, Sir Thomas Lauder, 315
Buck, Sir E., c.i.e., 267
Buckland, Mr. C. E., c.s., 267
Bulkeley, Capt. Rivers, rides the Prince of Wales’ horse, 34
Butler, Mr. A. L., 267
Burn, Capt., 232
Burmah Crisis, The, 203
Bythell, Capt., 267
Calcutta race meeting, 165, 242, 253
Calcutta Sweepstake, 254
Calcutta Tent Club, 159
Cambridge, Duke of, 285
Campbell, Capt. the Rt. Hon. Ronald, The death of, 81
Campbell, Capt. I. M., d.s.o., 267
Campbell, General D. M. G., 36
Campbell, Mr. Alec, 267
Campbell, Mr. H. P., 267
Candy, Captain (“Sugar Candy”), 11;
horse jumps down a quarry, 25
Canning, Lady, 76
Canning, Viscount, 76
Cannon, Mornington, 301
Carrington, Lord, 35
Cavagnari, Sir Louis, 71
Cawnpore, The statue, 77;
the well, 76
taken prisoner, 79
Chaine, Col., 292
Chatterton, Col. F. W., 267
Chelmsford, Lord, 78, 81;
takes Cetewayo prisoner, 79
Chesney, Colonel, afterwards General Sir George, 116, 151
Cheylesmore, Lord, 5
Children’s parties at Simla, The, 143
Chisholme, Major J. J. Scott, 267
Christopher, Major, 267
China interposes, 204
Cigar Race, 147
Clarke, Colonel Stanley, 314
Clayton, Captain, 11;
the death of, 60;
Harrow and Capt. Clayton’s death, 64;
“In memoriam,” 63
Cleland, Colonel, wounded, 71
Clewer Sisters, The, 212
Clonagam Church, 317
Clonmell, Lord, 35
Collen, Major-General Sir E. H. H., k.c., i.e., 267
Colley, Colonel, afterwards Sir George, 52
Commander-in-Chief and the salutations, 215
Compton, Lord Alwyne, 156
Connaught, Duchess of, 155
Connaught, Duke of, 154
Connemara, Lord, 240
Cooking reform, 210
Cork, Earl of, 35
Cotton, the Hon. H. J. S., c.s.i., 267
Cotton, Mr. Ben, 216
Creagh, Mr. B. P., 267
Crespigny, Sir Claude de, 307
Croft, the Hon. Sir A., k.c.i.e., 267
Cubitt, Mr. J. E., 267
Cumberledge, Mr. F. H., 267
Cuningham, Mr. W. J., c.s.i., 267
Cunningham, Surgeon-Lieut.-Col. D. D., 267
Currie, Capt. J., 267
Curzon, the Hon. Major M., 267
Cuthbert, Mr., 300
Dacca steamer incident, The, 77
Dalhousie, Lord, 76
Dangerfield, Mr. E., 267
Daniel, Mr. Linsay, 267
Davidson, Captain, 51
Dehra Races, The, 92
Delavel, Lord, 325
Devonshire, Duke of (then Lord Hartington), 163
Dickson, Mr. Geo., 267
Dickson, Mr. J. G., 267
Drawing-room reception, 144
Denman, Lord, 326
Dogcart mishap, The, 20
Dods, Mr. W., 267
Donkey, The, and the cock, 41
Doran, Major B. J. C., 267
Dufferin, Lady, 177;
her scheme to help Indian women, 210
Dufferin, Earl of, 177, 203, 272
Dunn, the jockey, 243;
in trouble again, 248
Durand, Mr., afterwards Sir Mortimer, 183, 234
Durand, Colonel, 278
Durbangah, Maharajah of, 162, 230;
becomes Lord W. Beresford’s racing partner, 235
Durbar, The, a huge crowd, 223
Eddis, Mr. W. K., 267
Egerton, Sir Robert, 99
Ellis, Col. S. R., 267
Enter, Mr. K., 267
Evans, the Hon. Sir Griffith, k.c.i.e., 267
Evening, A festive, 200
Ezra, Mr. J. E. D., 267
Famine, The Irish, 17
Fancy dress ball, 157
Fane, Sir Spencer Ponsonby, 149
Farewell Banquet, Calcutta, The, 266;
names of those present at, 266-9;
Mr. Moore’s speech at, 269;
Lord Bill replies, 275
Fenian, Lord W. B.’s horse, 30
Fenians’ threat to Lady Waterford, 17
Fenn, Surgeon-Col. E. H., c.i.e., 267
Fife, Captain, 19
Fitch, Mr., 236
Fitzgerald, Lord, 35
FitzWilliam, Hon. P. W., 34
Forbes, Mr. Archibald, 87
Ford Abbey, 76
Fordham, jockey, 163
Fownes, Mr., 292
Frere, Sir Bartle, 78
Fripps, Mr., 81
Furniss, Mr., 302
Galbraith, Major-General W., c.b., 267
Gambrie, Col. G. R., 267
Gamble, Mr. R. A., 267
Game card of Lord de Grey, 154
Garraway, Capt. C. W., 267
Garth, Mr. G. L., 267
Garth, Mr. W., 267
Gasper, Mr., 202, 224;
death of, 249
Gladstone, Mr. A. S., 267
Gladstone, Mr. J. S., 267
Gladstone, Mr., 95
Godjack, Mr., 162
Gollan, Mr. Spencer, 324
Gooch, Rev. Francis, 303
Gordon, Capt., appointed Lord Ripon’s Private Secretary, 67
Gordons, The Scotch, 303
Gough, Capt. C. H. H., 267
Gough, Mr. G., 267
Grain, Corney, 199
Grantham, Mr. Justice, 324
Granville, Lord, 95
Gregory, Mr. E. H., 267
Gregson, Mr. C. B., 267
Grimston, Capt. R. E., a.d.c., 267
Hadden, Mr. F. G., 268
Hamilton, Mr. F. S., c.s., 268
Hamilton, Mr. L. B., 268
Hammersley, Mr. Louis, 284
Hammersley, Mrs. See Lady William Beresford
Harbord, the Hon. Charles, afterwards Lord Suffield, 156, 183, 232, 268
Harrington, Lord, 95
Harrow School and the death of Captain Clayton, 64
Hart, Mr. G. H. R., 188, 268
Hartington, Lord. See Duke of Devonshire
Hartopp, Captain (Chicken), and the bath, 91
Harvey, Surgeon-Col. R., 268
Hastings, Lord, 29
Hay of Kinfauns, Lord, 199
Hayes, Mr. Horace, 92
Henderson, Mr. G. S., 268
Hensman, Mr. H., 268
Herbert, Capt. L., 268
Herbert, Mr., 31
Hewett, Mr. J. P., c.s., c.i.e., 268
Hext, Capt. J., r.n., c.i.e., 268
Hext, Sir John (now Rear-Admiral), 216, 235, 247
Hills, Mr. A., 159, 268, 279
Hills, Mr. C. R., 268
Hodgson, Mr. G. C., 268
Holmes, Mr. W., c.s., 92, 268
Hornet, The, 313
Hope, Mr. G. W., 268
Horse Sale, The, 187
Howrah Bridge, 217
Huggins, Mr. (Lord William’s trainer), 300, 305, 310
Hunt, Col. J. L., 268
Huxley, Mr., 246
Ilbert Bill, 123
Indian descent, 109
Indian Planters’ Gazette, 263
Indian Viceroy’s duties, An, 66
Irving, Mr. W. O. Bell, 268
Isandhlwana, Battle of, 78
James, Mr. S. Harvey, c.s., 268
Jardine, Sir William, Bart., 268
Jarrett, Col. H. S., 268
Jenkins, Capt. A. E., 268
Jersey, Lord, 7
Jhind, The Rajah of, 101
Jockey Club, 293, 324
Jodhpore, Maharajah of, 162
Johnstone, Mr. C. Lawrie, 268
Jourdain, Mr. C. B., 268
Jowaki Expedition, The, 69
Kennedy, H. E., Rear-Admiral George, 268
Keyes, General, sent with reinforcements against hill tribes, 69
Khyber Pass Retreat, The, 71
King, Brigade-Surgeon-Lieut.-Col. G., c.i.e., 268
King, Mr. D. W., 268
King-Harman, Col., 27
Kirk, Mr. H. A., 268
Kitchener, Earl, 320
Kooch Behar, H.H. the Maharajah of, g.c.i.e., 171, 258, 265, 268
Ladies’ Steeplechase, 141
Lady’s curtsey, A, 116
Lambert, the Hon. Sir John, k.c.i.e., 268
Lambton, Mr. George, 300
Lance, Brigadier-General F., c.b., 268
Langford, Lord, 5
Lansdowne, Marchioness, 262
Lansdowne, Marquess of, 234, 238, 247, 272
Lascelles, The Hon. Charles, 11
Latimer, Mr. F. W., 268
Lawley, Hon. Miss, 156
Lawrence, Lord, 53, 97, 240
Leeman, m.p., Mr. Joseph, the wrestling match, 40
Legislative Council pass the Ilbert Bill, 123
Leigh, Sir Gerrard, 13
Lendal Bridge, 39, 40
Leslie, Mr. C. P., 1
Lethbridge, Brigade-Surgeon-Lieut.-Col., 268
Life in India, 158
Lister, Capt. G. C., a.d.c., 268
Lockhart, Sir Simon, 5
Lorillard, Mr. Pierre, becomes Lord William’s racing partner, 294
Louisa, daughter of Lord Stuart de Rothsey, 15
Lowther, Mr. James, 199, 313#ENGLISH